Baldur's Gate: Classes and Kits
- 1 General Information
- 2 Warrior classes
- 3 Divine Spellcasters
- 4 Arcane Spellcasters
- 5 Rogue Classes
- 6 Monk
General Information[edit | edit source]
There are 8 standard classes in Baldur's Gate 1. Baldur's Gate 2 added 3 new classes as well as adding 3 different "kits" to 8 of the original 8 classes. The Enhanced Editions also adds 7 more kits and another class as well. Each kits takes the standard class and confers some extra bonuses at the cost of some penalties (in most cases). Dual-classing and Multi-classing allow you to take advantage of more than one class at the cost of some specialization. Multi- and Dual-classing are discussed at length here.
||For the Enhanced Editions classes and kits, visit the corresponding page.|
Progression Charts can be found here.
Specialist Kit Bonuses[edit | edit source]
It was recently discovered that both old-school BG2 and the Enhanced Editions of BG1 & BG2 treat kits of classes other than mages (and Wild Mages) as specialists mages from the school of "NONE". This is an obscure engine-level bug that has never been fixed until very recently.
This means that, with certain spells and weapons, kits receive the +2 specialist saving throw bonus vs. effects from the "NONE" school, and also inflict the -2 specialist saving throw penalty to victims who do not also have a kit or have the "NONE" kit assigned. Many on-hit effects of magical weapons are classified as the "NONE" school (such as Celestial Fury's on-hit stun). This is relevant in hardcore, no-reload playthroughs as saving throws play a significant role in whether you can block status effects or you succumb to them.
Just one more reason why kits are so powerful that you'd be gimping yourself by not choosing one. 99% of the time, the number of benefits you get by kitting outweigh the disadvantages of the kit itself.
|This has now been fixed. Kits no longer receive the specialist saving throw augmentations listed above from the school of "NONE".|
Warrior classes[edit | edit source]
The 4 warrior classes are your go-to classes for melee damage and tanking abilities. All roll d10 HP (except Barbarians), all but Barbarians can wear heavier armors (though note exceptions below), and can equip any weapon type in the game. Rangers and Paladins progress levels slower than do Fighters and Barbarians, but have the added benefit of eventually getting minor divine spellcasting, as well as other class-specific abilities. The only downside is they basically no longer gain bonuses upon leveling up beyond level 21 save it be for High-Level Abilities. Note that all Warrior classes get +0.5 Attacks Per Round at levels 7 and 13, and get 9 total Hit Dice. After 9 levels of HD they get 3 HP per level, more than any other class. They also get access to Exceptional Strength (Strength bonuses beyond 18 but lower than 19) and gain more HP per HD based off their Constitution score.
Fighter[edit | edit source]
Fighters are able to put more proficiency points into weapons than any other class. With the exception of the Ranger kit "Archer" in regards to bows, they are the only ones able to get into the Mastery levels of weapons. Because of this, they tend to have a better chance to hit, more attacks per round increased damage and attack sooner in a round compared to the other warrior classes while using their preferred weapons. However, to gain the full benefits of mastery, you'll have to sacrifice being specialized in a wider variety of weapons. Fighters also make exceptional ranged characters should you choose to master a ranged weapon.
Fighter Kits[edit | edit source]
- Advantages: May use "Enrage" ability once per day per 4 levels. The enraged state lasts 60 seconds and grants a +2 bonus to hit and damage, a 15 HP boost and a -2 bonus to AC. Enraging also grants immunity to charm, hold, fear, maze, imprisonment, stun, confusion, feeblemind, level drain and sleep. (Note: The bonus HP is lost at the end of the enraged state, potentially killing the berserker in OG BG2, but it only knocks them unconscious for a time in the Enhanced Editions).
- Disadvantages: Becomes winded after berserking, receiving a -2 to hit and damage penalties, and a +2 AC penalty. Can only become proficient in ranged weapons (no more than 1 proficiency point).
- Comments: Berserker is the most versatile fighter kit. While you give up the ability to even specialize in ranged weapons, you can still master axes, daggers, and hammers for the ranged versions of those found in BG2. Enraging helps in too many situations to count. Obviously, the bonus to hit and damage and armor class helps tank, but the immunities to many of the game's instant death scenarios makes this ability one of the best in the entire game. It cannot be stated how many enemies use all these crowd-control abilities at all points across all of Baldur's Gate 1 and 2. Berserkers make the best starting class for Dual-Classing, their Enrage grants so many blanket immunities at the drop of a hat. Berserkers cannot be a lawful alignment. In case it needs to be said, don't put any points into ranged weapons, one point doesn't matter for a full-THAC0 class.
- Wizard Slayer:
- Advantages: For each successful hit on an opponent, 10% cumulative spell failure is applied. (No save vs. this effect.) Innate magic resistance of 14%. Gains +2% magic resistance until level 20, and then alternates between 5% and 1% every level thereafter.
- Disadvantages: May not use ANY magic items outside of healing potions, armor, and weapons.
- Comments: Wizard Slayers are terrible. The cumulative spell failure turns most arcane caster-centric battles into a piece of cake. Their downside is rather steep, however. Bioware had to code every item individually to negate use by Wizard Slayers, though, and therefore there are some instances where they are still able to use items you would not think they should be allowed to (such as the tomes that raise stats). A good wizard slayer build would be to make an elven ranged wizard slayer, but only the G3 BG2 Fixpack installed, or else Wizard Slayer spell failure chances are not applied to ranged attacks. That said, the Enhanced Editions fix a lot of Wizard Slayer flaws like letting them use the Tomes and Manuals to boost their scores, and applying their Miscast Magic to ranged attacks. However, Wizard Slayer sucks. They only stop enemy Mages from casting spells, they cannot stop Clerics or Druids at all, whereas Berserker and Barbarian have the ability to just become immune to most crowd-control effects and Inquisitors have the ability to wipe all buffs on enemies and negative effects on allies. Wizard Slayers who can't shoot an enemy before they get up a Mirror Image are Fighters with half the equipment slots. Their only other benefit is a meager Magic Resistance bonus that doesn't get good until Level 20. They're not the worst class in the game, but they require a lot of work. If a Wizard Slayer dual-classes to Druid they can apply the Miscast Magic effect to the AoE of the Fire Seeds spell, and if they dual-class to Thief they can eventually take Use Any Item to remove all their equipment restrictions.
- Advantages: Bonus +1 to hit and damage for every 3 levels. Bonus -2 AC. Bonus -1 to speed factor for every 4 levels. May use "Kai" ability once per day for every 4 levels (staring with 1 use at level 1). This ability lasts 10 seconds and causes all attacks made in that time to inflict max damage.
- Disadvantages: May not use missile weapons unless they also have a melee component (i.e. throwing axes and daggers). May not wear any armor. May not wear gauntlets or Bracers.
- Comments: Kensai is the singularly most damaging melee class in the entire game. Their bonus to hit and damage is significant especially at later levels. Kai deals a fantastical amount of damage in a quick period of time. Used in conjunction with the epic level feat that causes every attack for 2 rounds to inflict a critical hit, a kensai can be utterly devastating to enemies not protected from critical hits. They cannot wear any forms of armor, however, including robes should you dual-class to mage. Combined with the inability to equip bracers, they have no effective way on their own to lower their armor class to an acceptable level on their own. You'll want a mage or bard in the party who can cast Ghost/Spirit Armor on you. Kensai are an excellent choice for dual-classing into either a wizard or a thief. Wizards cannot wear armor anyway, so the -2 AC bonus stacks up rather well with buff spells like the level 1 spell "Armor". Thief is an excellent companion to Kensai because eventually you'll get Use All Items anyway, negating the disadvantage of taking Kensai entirely. A x5 backstab multiplier combined with Kai is incredibly powerful as well, especially since Backstab multiplies both the Kensai's innate damage bonus and their grandmastery damage bonus. A level 12 Kensai dualed to thief is still able to get to level 39 as a thief, but it is probably worthwhile to continue to level 13 to gain an extra half attack per round. Kensai cannot be of a Chaotic alignment.
- Comments 2: Despite their inability to use certain ranged weapons (bows, crossbows, slings, and darts), Kensai are also the most damaging ranged class in the game, dealing even more damage than Archers. This is because of three factors: i) their innate damage/THAC0 buff is the highest in the game; ii) they can use ranged weapons (including throwing daggers); and, iii) the ranged attacks that the Kensai can use also add their Strength bonus to attack. It is also notable that throwing daggers (like bows) grant an extra attack per round, giving a level 13 Half-Orc (19 Str) Kensai with grandmastery in daggers and Fire Tooth with 4 attacks per round (unnerfed grandmastery or in EE) at range, dealing 2d4+3+1d2+4+5+7 (avg 25.5) damage) per hit without Kai or Draw Upon Holy Might. Compare to an archer of similar level with Tuigan Bow and Quiver of Plenty +1, with 5 attacks per round dealing 1d6+1+4+5 (avg 13.5) damage. Despite the extra APR with Tuigan, Kensai does more damage, and even scales better into ToB, because Archer's bonus damage drops off later, but Kensai doesn't. Not to mention Ranger also levels slower than Archer, and your Kensai is still (very) competent in hand-to-hand.
Ranger[edit | edit source]
Rangers are different from fighters in that they cannot master weapons, but gain a few special abilities and eventually get up to 3rd level Druid spells. They can choose a favored enemy which grants an extra +4 to hit and damage bonus to all attacks made against that type of enemy. In Baldur's Gate 1, there are only a handful of useful enemy types to take but if you import from BG1 proper into Shadows of Amn, it lets you choose from an extended list that includes some of the more difficult enemies in Baldur's Gate 2 such as vampires, liches, mind flayers, and dragons. Since you have the option to change enemies in-between games, even if importing from the Enhanced Editions, feel free to pick based on what you will encounter in each game. In BG1 the best option is a bit of a toss-up: Skeletons are always an enemy that will appear at various points through the whole game, and since the Enhanced Edition imports into Siege of Dragonspear this gains more value since there are a lot of skeleton enemies there, too. Ogres were a little less valuable, but nonetheless there are a number of ogres, ogrillons, and ogre mages in the game that definitely benefit from being killed faster. Spiders and their poison are dangerous, but they mostly only exist in the various forests and sewers. Do not pick enemies just because they are plentiful, though. There are a lot of areas with kobolds, gnolls, and hobgoblins but those enemies are not difficult in the least and a +4 bonus to attack and damage rolls isn't going to save your life against an enemy whose weakness is a guy wearing Full Plate armor. For BG2 a lot of people think that Vampires are the best option because there are a few points in the game where you have to fight vampires. Some will recommend Liches for the same reason. BG2 is a game with Scrolls of Protection from Undead, the Mace of Disruption, and the throwing axe Azuredge which is available almost immediately after the starting dungeon. Do not waste your precious favored enemy on enemies that have instakill counters built into the game. Demonic/Fell creatures is the best here, because there will be a lot of demons and devils both in Shadows of Amn and Throne of Bhaal. Dragon is also a decent pick, though that mostly only applies to a handful of boss fights and should only be picked if you plan on playing with Evil party members and you need to kill Silver Dragons to make the best armors in the game.
Note: Users using BGtutu will not be able to change their favored enemy upon importing their character into Baldur's Gate 2. It is considered legitimate to change your favored enemy should you feel inclined to do so using a save/character editor as this option should have been included. Or, just choose a favored enemy that will become useful in Baldur's Gate 2 right from the get go to save yourself the headache.
Rangers are able to cast Charm Animal once per day for every 3 levels of Ranger they have. It is not terribly useful overall but can come in handy should you find a bear or wolf too challenging. Charming an animal and then using it to scout around and take hits is a commonly used tactic. Rangers also have a Stealth skill similar to thieves. It automatically goes up every level and encompasses both Hide in Shadow and Move Silently. They must be using studded leather or lighter armor in order to stealth. They still get the -4 THAC0 bonus to attack when leaving stealth like Thieves, but they don't have any other way of capitalizing on stealth and it isn't worth wearing inferior armor. Once they get to 8th level, they gain divine druid spells. Their spellcasting is not very noteworthy but having spells like Armor of Faith, Bless, and other various minor buff spells handy frees up spell slots of your clerics and druids. The caster level of Rangers who are not multi- or dual-classed is 7 levels lower than their class level.
It's worth noting that the only multi- and dual-classing option for rangers, Cleric, will be able to use both cleric and druid spells for all 7 divine spell circles, making them perhaps the most versatile divine spellcaster possible. Rangers are also relatively easy to roll good stats for as all of their abilities barring intelligence and charisma have high minimums. As a last note, all rangers begin with 2 ranks into Two-Weapon Style.
Given the fact that Ranger only has Stealth skills it cannot capitalize on, Charm Animal which becomes useless halfway through BG1, and only puts two points into any weapon proficiency, it is a fair comparison to say Ranger is a multi-classed Fighter without the other class. Anyone considering a Ranger playthrough should seriously consider either multi-classing or dual-classing to get more out of their character, because the playstyle of Ranger is just the playstyle of Fighter minus the ability to hit Grandmastery.
Rangers must be of Good alignment and will lose their class abilities if they drop below 8 reputation. If a Ranger has dual-classed, they lose the ability to Fall, and can change alignment or drop Reputation as they desire.
|Users of the Enhanced Editions will need to edit their baldur.ini file and change the "Cleric Ranger Spells" line from a 1 to a 0 in order to gain access to all druid spells.|
|As of patch v2.0, baldur.ini has been replaced by baldur.lua. Users of both Enhanced Editions will need to edit their baldur.lua file and change the "Cleric Ranger Spells" line from a 1 to a 0 in order to gain access to all druid spells.|
Ranger Kits[edit | edit source]
- Advantages: Can achieve grand mastery in any bow or crossbow weapon. +1 to hit and damage with any missile weapon (including darts, slings, etc.) for every 3 levels of experience. Archers can use the "Called Shot" ability once per day for every 4 levels of experience. At 4th level, target suffers a -1 Thac0 penalty. At 8th level, target suffers a -1 save vs. magic penalty. At 12th level, target suffers a -1 strength penalty. At 16th level, target suffers an additional 2 points of damage from the shot. (Note: All penalties are cumulative.)
- Disadvantages: Can only become proficient in any melee weapon. Cannot wear metal armor. No Charm Animal ability.
- Comments: Archers deal more damage with ranged weapons than almost any other character can muster. Elven archers are the best as they have the additional THAC0 for having 19 dexterity and a +1 bonus to hit with all bow weapons. Combined with grand mastery in the bow type of your choice, an Archer will have ridiculous THAC0, most monsters only avoiding damage on a critical miss. Because you cannot use metal armors, you'll be better able to make use of the ranger's natural stealth feature. Losing charm animal is not a big deal because you eventually get it as a spell in your divine spell pool should you feel so inclined to need the ability. Note that Archer's Called Shot eventually does Strength damage on-hit, which is terrible for gaining XP since ability-score deaths don't grant XP, but it is worth mentioning that Archer is the only class in the game that, using this ability, can kill every enemy in the entire game in two rounds using Vhailor's Helm. As a warning, Archers dual-classing to Cleric will only be able to retain two points put into Slings and will lose any proficiency points put into non-Cleric weapons.
- Advantages: +20% stealth ability. Access to 3 mage spells as 3rd level divine spells. These are Haste, Protection from Normal Missiles, and Minor Spell Deflection. May backstab at a reduced progression rate than thieves (level 1-8=x2, 9-16 = x3, 17+ = x4)
- Disadvantages: May not wear armor greater than studded leather.
- Comments: Stalkers are in essence the combat aspect of fighter/thieves but with buff spells. They are better than thieves or even multi-classed fighter/thieves when it comes to raw fighting ability because there is no split to XP between the levels for multi-classing and your Thac0 and HP will end up much higher. The spellcasting capabilities of Stalkers cannot be overlooked, either, as the minor 1st and 2nd level buffs combined with Haste, Protection from Missiles, and Spell Deflection give the Stalker plenty of tools to increase survivability and damage. Elves make great stalkers due to their natural thieving bonuses to stealth. Long swords, katanas, scimitars and short swords are good optiona for stalkers, as well, because they can backstab and elves gain a +1 bonus to hit with them. The Stalker's Haste spell does not fatigue you after its effects wear off. All that being said, Stalker is just an inferior Fighter/Thief with less skills and less equipment options. The only unique thing they have is, being a Ranger kit they can dual-class to Cleric and play a Cleric with backstab and stealth skills. Note that a Stalker dualing to Cleric can only use Cleric weapons, and thus can only backstab with clubs and quarterstaves. While it's recommended to dual-class at 13 since Cleric does not get access to any APR-boosting weapons and Warriors get their APR boosts at 7 and 13, Stalker doesn't get their highest Backstab multiplier of x4 until level 17, which may leave them for a long time as a Cleric without their Stalker abilities.
- Beast Master:
- Advantages: +15% Stealth ability. May cast Animal Summoning I as a 1st level spell, Animal Summoning II as a second level spell, and Animal Summoning III as a third level spell. May cast Find Familiar.
- Disadvantages: Cannot use any metal weapons. Cannot wear armor heavier than studded leather.
- Comments: Beast Masters give up the ability to be an effective tank for the ability to summon monsters as meatshields for himself. Because he cannot use any decent armors and is limited to clubs and quarterstaves for melee weapons, he cannot inflict a terribly good amount of damage in melee. It's best to stick with bows or slings and summon your animals to stay between you and the target. Compared to the other ranger kits, it is rather weak. However, a level 12 Beastmaster dual-classed into a cleric will be able to use a summoning spell for literally every spell circle. Should you choose to do that, keep in mind there are only 3 weapon types you will be able to equip from: clubs, quarterstaves, and slings. All this being said, the summoning spells Beastmaster gets are absolutely useless, Animal Summoning sucks in comparison to basic Wands of Monster Summoning and the animals don't even make decent meat shields. The equipment restrictions hamper the one good thing Ranger has, Warrior APR, because they cannot equip Belm or Kundane. Clubs are terrible weapons in both games, ranged weapons lose their effectiveness going from BG1 to BG2, and the best quarterstaves are the Staff of the Magi locked to Mages and the Staff of the Ram which can only be gotten near the bottom of Watcher's Keep like the Club of Detonation. Do yourself a favor and play anything else, Beast Master has more equipment restrictions than Wizard Slayer.
Paladin[edit | edit source]
What paladins lose vs. fighters in weapon mastery, they gain in the form of buffs. Firstly, and possibly most importantly, all Paladins get a +2 bonus on all of their saving throws. They can whip out Detect Evil once per level at a whim, which can be useful for first time players. It more or less helps you determine what NPCs are likely to turn on you and try to kill you, as well as letting you know what another paladin ability, Protection from Evil, will help against. They can "Lay on Hands" to recover decent HP dependent on your level, instantly. Paladins eventually gain divine spells much like rangers, but instead they draw from the Cleric pool (vs. the druid pool) and can get up to level 4 compared to simply getting to level 3. Their caster level is 8 levels lower than their class level. They can also Turn Undead as though they were a cleric of two levels lower than the paladin's actual level. Lastly, they have access to two of the best weapons in Baldur's Gate 2 as well as a special pair of bracers. One is a two-handed sword, Carsomyr the Holy Avenger, that obliterates evil monsters, dispels magic upon every hit, and gives a whopping +50% Magic Resistance. The other is a bastard sword called the Purifier which is almost a one-handed version of Carsomyr minus the dispel on-hit and reduced Magic Resistance. The upgradeable Blessed Bracers from Watcher's Keep are one of the best hand-slot items in the game.
Rolling stats for Paladins is fairly easy since Paladins have no use for Intelligence or Wisdom and they start with high Charisma, so they can afford to maximize their physical scores.
There is little reason to be a vanilla paladin when the kits for the class are as powerful as they are. Paladins must be a lawful good human. If your reputation drops below 8, your paladins will become fallen and lose their class abilities.
Paladin Kits[edit | edit source]
- Advantages: Bonus +3 to hit and damage against all demonic and draconic creatures. May cast "Remove Fear" once per day per level. Immunities to fear, morale failure, poison, and charm spells. 20% resistance to fire and acid.
- Disadvantages: May not use missile weapons, unless it also has a melee component (such as returning axes and daggers).
- Comments: Cavaliers' THAC0 and damage bonus against all devils, demons, and dragons is effectively like the Ranger favored enemy bonus but they get it for two of the most common enemies in late BG2 and a large number of bosses. The fire and acid resistances help in many situations outside of combating dragons, as well. Poison immunity means they can safely fight spiders and wyverns (which they still get the +3 THAC0 and damage bonus against) in BG1 and mummies in BG2 without worrying about carrying antidotes or dying. But the best immunity of all is their inherent immunity to any and all fear effects. From early BG1 you will be hit with Horror spells, all dragons will use Dragon Fear, Throne of Bhaal casters will throw Symbol, Fear at the party, and being 100% immune means you don't even have to worry about them. In addition to this, they also gain one daily use of Remove Fear per level. As if being immune to fear wasn't powerful enough, Remove Fear is an incredibly useful spell that is always taking up space in caster spellbooks. It has a casting time of 1 meaning it casts almost immediately, so by picking Cavalier you also effectively make your whole party immune to fear. The only downside is that they cannot use bows, slings, arrows, or crossbows, but this is hardly a setback since Baldur's Gate 2 so heavily nerfed ranged combat and magical ammunition. That is a drawback in BGtutu because throwing axes and daggers are cumbersome and expensive, but there are many options for magical returning throwing weapons in BG2. The Azuredge from the Copper Coronet seems custom made for Cavaliers and makes axes an attractive option for them. Given how missile weapons lose their edge going from BG1 to BG2 Cavalier is effectively a straight upgrade to Paladin.
- Advantages: May use "Dispel Magic" once per day per every 4 levels (starts at 1st level with one use.) This Dispel Magic acts at twice the Inquisitor's actual level and is used at a speed factor of 1 (just like Magic Missile). May cast "True Sight" once per day per 4 levels (starts at 1st level with one use). Immunities to Hold and Charm spells.
- Disadvantages: May not use Lay on Hands ability. May not cast Priest spells. May not turn undead.
- Comments: Inquisitors are odd in that they lose all vanilla paladin abilities except for detect evil. Instead, they get an extremely powerful Dispel Magic and True Sight and immunities to some of the more crippling status effects in the game via Hold and Charm. The downside to Inquisitors is that they do not gain divine spells nor can they turn undead. They also cannot Lay on Hands. This basically means they have no way to directly heal themselves outside of using potions. Many argue Inquisitor is the best paladin kit because the powerful Dispel Magic and True Sight spells eliminate the need for another caster to memorize them and you sacrifice abilities redundant in a full party. What is important to mention is how powerful Inquisitor Dispel Magic is: the chance to dispel each buff on an enemy is 50%, +5% for each level the caster is above their target, and -5% for each level below. Inquisitor's Dispel Magic uses twice their level to determine what buffs get removed. What that means is Inquisitor Dispel is effectively always successful. The highest caster levels in the game you will ever encounter are Caster Level 30 on effects. That means they auto-dispel all buffs in the game once they hit level 20.
- Undead Hunter:
- Advantages: +3 to hit and damage vs. Undead. Immunities to Hold and Level Drain.
- Disadvantages: May not use "Lay on Hands" ability.
- Comments: Undead Hunter is still better than the basic paladin class because of the immunity to hold, but is largely unnecessary. The +3 to hit and damage against undead is nice, as is the immunities to hold and level drain. The problem is that you can simply use a Scroll of Protection from Undead to make it so undead cannot even target or cast against you. The game gives you plenty of valuable tools to use in fights vs. the undead, making Undead Hunter less than ideal compared to Inquisitor or Cavalier. Still, they make better tanks than Inquisitors because they can still cast spells, and are better ranged characters than Cavaliers because they can use bows. If those matter to you, Undead Hunter is still a better pick up than a basic paladin. Also, the immunity to Level Drain makes them immune to certain effects like Maze and Imprisonment. This effect can be gotten on a few items throughout BG2, but it's still worth noting that having this innate on an Undead Hunter frees up those items for other party members.
Barbarian[edit | edit source]
For the purposes of the game's code, Barbarians are technically a fighter kit. They cannot dual-class, however. Barbarians use d12 as opposed to d10 (resulting in a net 18 HP advantage when everything is said and done). They are also immune to backstab, which is an absolute godsend during encounters with rogue enemies. Barbarians can enrage, similar to Berserkers, but instead of a flat bonus to hit and damage, it increases strength and constitution by 4. It also incurs a +2 penalty to armor class and saves vs. magic. It grants immunity to charm, hold, fear, maze, confusion, sleep, stun and level drain. Barbarian enrage lasts for 5 rounds, and unlike Berserker enrage, you are not winded afterwards. At 11th level, Barbarians gain resistance to physical damage (slashing, piercing, crushing, and missile). This increases by 5% at levels 15 and 19. Lastly, Barbarians move 2 points faster than anyone else. The downside is that they cannot wear plate armors, meaning the heaviest armors you can equip are Splint Mails, and they can only put 2 points into proficiencies.
Barbarians start slightly weaker than typical fighters simply because they can only specialize in weapons and cannot wear plate. However, the extra hitpoints are a godsend (especially if you're a dwarf of half-orc) and the most significant proficiency point is simply the second one anyway. The extra speed allows you to kite monsters better. The resistance to damage makes you even more durable because eventually you're going to be hit by monsters with ridiculously high Thac0 so the only thing you can do to mitigate the damage is to take less of it. Barbarian Enrage is useful for a number of reasons. Firstly, the immunities can save you from a lot of instant death scenarios. Secondly, you do a truckload of damage and have copious amounts of life. The bonus constitution will put you high enough that you'll start to regenerate HP, so popping it before resting will likely restore all your lost HP. Once you get into Throne of Bhaal, there are some lighter armors that, while they do not have as much AC as plate, grant ridiculous bonuses making them comparable if not better to many of the later plate armors.
Because you cannot multi- or dual-class a Barbarian, there is no reason to be anything other than a dwarf or half-orc. Half-orcs will be able to start with the venerated 19 Strength, while Dwarves will enjoy a massive -5 bonus to the two most important saving throws in the game.
Divine Spellcasters[edit | edit source]
Clerics and Druids are fantastic for hardcore runs. The ability to heal and more importantly the ability to buff turn many of the most difficult encounters into a breeze.
Cleric[edit | edit source]
Clerics are the anti-instant death class. With spells like Death Ward, Protection from Fire, Protection from Lightning, and other various buff spells, they can negate otherwise lethal damage. They also make excellent tanks due to the ability to equip heavy armors. The only real downside is the limited weapon selection facing clerics. Warhammers and flails are probably their best bets. Slings are the only ranged weapon they can use (outside of a specific returning throwing hammer) so you'll want to become proficient in them if you want to support from the backline.
In terms of single-class clerics, elves are probably the best. The bonus THAC0 from 19 dexterity helps them hit things with slings and they don't have to skimp out on wisdom or strength like halflings do. Constitution beyond 16 does not help clerics gain additional hit points, either.
If you are going single-class cleric, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to not kit. There are no downsides to any of the cleric kits. They simply force you to be good, neutral, or evil.
Cleric Kits[edit | edit source]
- Priest of Talos:
- May cast "Lightning Bolt" once per day for every 5 levels of the caster (starts at 1st level with one use.)
- May cast "Storm Shield" once per day per 10 levels of the caster (starts at 1st level with one use). At level 1, this ability lasts 1 turn. From level 10 onwards, it lasts 1 round per level of the caster. It adds 100% resistance to Fire, Electricity, and Cold damage, as well as applying Protection from Normal Missiles.
- Disadvantages: Restricted to any Evil alignment in original BG2, restricted to one-step of Chaotic Evil in the Enhanced Editions (Chaotic Evil, Neutral Evil, and Chaotic Neutral)
- Comments: The Evil alignment cleric, a Priest of Talos has the most significant bonuses. Lightning Bolt is a very party-unfriendly spell and is not worth memorizing on an arcane caster, but for a Priest of Talons preparing with Storm Shield they can immunize themselves to the effects and shoot lightning bolts with impunity. With a party it's not recommended to use Lightning Bolt, but the Storm Shield immunities will remain useful throughout the entire series, from the start of BG1 to the end of Throne of Bhaal.
- Priest of Helm:
- May cast "True Sight" once per day per 5 levels of the caster (starts at 1st level with one use).
- May cast "Seeking Sword" once per day per 10 levels of the caster (starts at 1st level with one use).
- Disadvantages: Restricted to any Neutral alignment (on the Good-Evil axis) in original BG2, and restricted to one-step of Lawful Neutral in the Enhanced Editions (any Lawful alignment plus True Neutral)
- Comments: The Neutral alignment cleric, Priests of Helm have a couple really good abilities. First, True Sight being usable without needing to be prepared is equally as useful on a Priest of Helm as it is on an Inquisitor, it's a spell that will be extremely useful in BG1 where other casters don't have access to it, and will remain useful throughout all of BG2. Seeking Sword is also an incredible but severely underrated ability - it summons a +4 one-handed magic sword that sets the user's APR to 3. Clerics don't get APR bonuses. This allows them to, at level 1, attack with a +4 weapon three times a round. That's equivalent to a max-level BG1 fighter using an Oil of Speed. There's an engine exploit with this; magically-created weapons are unaffected by weapon styles, meaning that you can dual-wield the Seeking Sword and an off-hand weapon without any penalties, from level 1, for 4 APR. While better +4 weapons exist in Baldur's Gate 2, there's no weapons that give Clerics any APR since they cannot use Belm/Kundane/Scarlett Ninjato, and this one gives Cleric the same APR as a Fighter with grandmastery. Combine with Draw Upon Holy Might to reach maximum Strength.
- Priest of Lathander:
- May cast "Hold Undead" once per day for every 5 levels of the caster (starts at 1st level with 1 use).
- May cast "Boon of Lathander" for every 10 levels of the caster (starts at 1st level with 1 use). This spell lasts 1 round per level of the caster. It gives the caster a -1 bonus to THAC0 and +1 bonus to damage roll, a -1 bonus to all saving throws, and 1 extra attacks per round. It also protects the recipient from Level drain. The effects are cumulative.
- Disadvantages: Restricted to any Good alignment in original BG2, and restricted to one-step of Neutral Good in the Enhanced Editions (Any Good alignment plus True Neutral)
- Comments: The good alignment cleric, priests of Lathander ironically have more offensive power than other kits. Hold Undead is a sub-optimal spell when picking spells to prepare, but when given a supply of daily uses for free it becomes a lot more useful, especially since there's so many undead in both BG1 and BG2. Boon of Lathander is extremely effective in melee as it ups their chance to hit and damage, and it helps free up at least one Negative Plane Protection for when you encounter level-draining monsters. Furthermore, it may be stacked with itself for incredible bonuses, allowing a Priest of Lathander to compete with Warrior APR, eventually getting enough uses to outperform the APR of Priest of Helm's Seeking Sword.
Druid[edit | edit source]
Druids are similar to clerics. They have more debuff and summon spells than clerics, but sacrifice many of the cleric's most powerful buff spells. Their one buff spell advantage to clerics, however, is the 5th level spell "Iron Skins" which is essentially a divine version of the mage spell Stoneskin, allowing a druid to tank in a pinch. While they can equip with a wider variety of weapons, they cannot wear heavier than studded leather armor unless multi- or dual-classed with a fighter (with some notable exceptions.) Druids can also shapeshift once you get to level 6, which can be helpful in situations where they are forced into melee.
One of the downsides to Druids in Baldur's Gate 2 because Bioware decided that instead of figuring out a way to implement high level druid abilities, they'd simply go the "purist route" (so they claim) and not let them progress past a certain level. They remedied their ways once Throne of Bhaal was released, but it's still a significant climb from level 14 to 15 for a druid (you gain a significant increase in spells castable per day, however.) Regardless, pure druids gain a powerful advantage in that their rapid pre-level 13 progression actually allows them to force higher level NPCs to spawn earlier, an advantage it shares with pure thieves and bards.
Druids must be True Neutral alignment. Only humans and half-elves can be druids.
Normally I try not to talk extremely specific gear in the class sections but druids can equip some very notable armors despite them being class types normally restricted to single-class druids. In both BG1 and BG2, they can use Ankheg armor which for all intents and purposes is a very lightweight regular Plate Armor at 1 AC, and is by far the best armor usable by the class. (The next closest thing in BG2 is Studded Leather +2 or regular Leather +3, both at 5 AC.) In BG2, they can also equip all armor made from dragon scales. Despite being full plate +2, single-class druids can use it. Even avengers, who can't even use Studded Leather, can use both these armors.
Druid Kits[edit | edit source]
- Totemic Druid:
- Advantages: May summon a special "spirit" animal once per day per every 5 levels of experience. Spirit animal is randomly selected from "Spirit Bear," "Spirit Wolf," "Spirit Lion," and "Spirit Snake."
- Disadvantages: Cannot shapeshift.
- Comments: Totemic Druids are incredibly useful for a long time and are probably the best choice for druid should you want a druid protagonist. The spirit animals you can summon are amazing. They are immune to normal and +1 weapons, Cold, Electric, Poison, more status effects than a Berserker, and Death Spell. They will single-handedly win a large number of early encounters without putting anyone or anything in harm's way.
- Advantages: May shapeshift into the werewolf form once per day for every 2 levels (starts at 1st level with one use). At 13th level, gains the ability to change into a greater werewolf once per day.
- Disadvantages: May not shapeshift into any other form. Cannot wear ANY armor.
- Comments: Shapeshifters got the shaft even harder than typical druids. Firstly, the werewolf forms you can change into are not equivalent of other werewolves in the game. Regular werewolves are supposed to have immunity to normal weapons (as opposed to gaining no benefits at all) and werewolf paws are supposed to 1d12 damage as opposed to 1d6. Greater werewolves should receive a Thac0 of 6 (you receive no benefit), saves of 1/1/1/2/1 (again, you receive nothing), immunity to normal weapons (you get nothing), the paw should do 2d8 slashing damage as a +3 weapon (instead of 1d6 piercing damage as a +2 weapon), and regeneration of 3 HP per second. Half the reasons you'd want to be a werewolf are removed. While the downside of not having other forms to shapeshift into is not significant, completely being without armor is a huge detractor. You can still equip with bracers, however. As a general rule, avoid shapeshifter unless you download a mod to fix the nerfs to your werewolf form.
- Advantages: In addition to normal forms, may shapeshift into a sword spider, baby wyvern, or fire salamander. May cast 6 mage spells (one for every spell circle but 7th) in addition to normal druid casting spells. These spells are Chromatic Orb for 1st, Web for 2nd, Lightning Bolt for 3rd, Improved Invisibility for 4th, Chaos for 5th, and Chain Lightning for 6th level spells.
- Disadvantages: May not wear armor better than plain Leather Armor. On character creation, character recieves -2 penalty to maximum strength and constitution.
- Comments: Avenger trades 2 STR and 2 CON for spells they will never use. On a single-classed Druid the CON penalty is negligible, but the STR penalty is insurmountable. Losing permanent access to reaching 19 STR to either buff melee or sling attacks is not worth additional spells, most of which you'll never use. Chromatic Orb's +6 bonus to enemy saves makes it useless, Web is actually better than most 2nd-level spells, Lightning Bolt is inferior to Call Lightning and can kill you instead of your enemies, Improved Invisibility is extremely good, Chaos is just objectively inferior in every way to Insect Plague, and Chain Lightning doesn't compare to Wondrous Recall's ability to restore 2 uses of Insect Plague and/or Iron Skins.
Arcane Spellcasters[edit | edit source]
Arcane spellcasters are the single most damage-dealing class, capable of destroying most enemies very quickly and vital for taking out the most powerful monsters. They also have a large number of defensive spells such as Stoneskin which greatly increase survivability. Mages can use wands and scrolls of spells in order to last longer once their spells are depleted.
Mages are a necessity for Baldur's Gate 2 if for no other reason than to serve as a counteroffensive against the numerous powerful enemy mages you will face. Though other classes do have roundabout ways of dealing with mages, it is an unfortunate fact that MOST defenses an enemy caster will muster can only be dealt with when using another mage. The impact is less important at first. As you get into the later stages of Shadows of Amn and all throughout Throne of Bhaal, you begin dealing with a lot of high-circle defenses like Absolute Immunity, Spell Trap, et cetera, which can cause an otherwise capable character to be rendered worthless if you don't have a proper counter.
Note there is very little reason to be a straight mage other than to pick a specialist and therefore get an extra spell per level to cast. There are multiple Specialist Mages that give up very little in terms of spellcasting and can have said spellcasting replaced by items. Half-elves do not offer significant enough bonuses over a regular Human to warrant being one, and the only thing Elves have on Humans is 90% charm immunity and the extra +1 THAC0 they get on ranged weapons for having 19 dexterity. At least gnomes get the extra intelligence and ridiculous saving throws. Humans can dual-class to mage even if it's only a few levels in to fighter, thief, or even cleric if only for the better HP alone, without sacrificing reaching their max level with the experience cap in either BG1 vanilla or Throne of Bhaal.
A list of every arcane spell available in BG2 and BGtutu is available by clicking the link.
Mage[edit | edit source]
The only major downside to studying the arcane is very low hit dice. You only roll d4 for the first 9 levels and gain a single hit point every level beyond that. You can, however, become next to unkillable should you use the right buffing spells, and most wizards carry enough firepower to end worlds. Curiously, there is a minimum stat involved for each specialization, which can be helpful in order to force high numbers in a certain area. Only humans, elves, half-elves, and gnomes can become mages. Each has access to a different set of specialized schools.
Mage Specialization[edit | edit source]
Mages do not kit in the same way other classes do. Instead of physically altering the way the class works, they simply give up the ability to cast from a certain school of spells in order to have access to an additional spell per level per day.
There are other previously undocumented benefits to specialization besides an extra spell slot per level:
- +15% chance to successfully scribe scrolls from the chosen school of specialization.
- Character gains +2 saving throw bonus vs. hostile spells from their chosen school of specialization.
- Enemies make their saves against spells cast by the character from their chosen school of specialization at a -2 penalty, which stacks with any saving throw penalties the spell already has (e.g. Finger of Death, Slow, etc.).
- Cleric spells cast by multi- or dual-classed specialist mages also carry this saving throw penalty if the spell is from their chosen school of specialization.
- -15% chance to successfully scribe scrolls that are not from the chosen school of specialization.
These bonuses apply to ALL of the BG games, vanilla and Enhanced Editions alike. Additionally, it's worth noting that the Specialist Mage Saving Throw Penalty also applies to any and all spells of that school cast by items, be they scroll, wand, or spells cast by weapons or on-hit effects, including items that can only be used after dual-classing from a Specialist Mage. Some item effects that aren't spells are coded as a specific school, these exceptions will be noted.
|Mage Type||Opposed School(s)||Available Races||Minimum Stat|
(& Conjuration in BG1)
(& Necromancy in BG1)
While it would look like each Specialist Mage is an equal tradeoff, this just isn't true. Some Specialist Mages trade less for more:
- Conjurer is bar-none the best Mage kit, it's effectively a straight upgrade to Mage. You lose out on exactly three useful Divination spells; Identify, Detect Invisibility, and True Sight. Identify is replaced by Bard companions and the Glasses of Identification or just paying a merchant to ID an item), Detect Invisibility and True Sight can be replaced by the Book of Infinite Spells, the Gem of Seeing (EE-only), or Keldorn.
- Companion Edwin is a Conjurer, and of special note no player can make a single-classed Conjurer more powerful than him - his amulet gives him one extra spell per level in BG1 and two more per level in BG2, on top of his +1 spell per level bonus as a Conjurer.
- Diviner loses out on Conjuration spells, but the big three it loses are Find Familiar, Limited Wish, and Symbol, Stun, which isn't a lot but that's a notable HP bonus they cannot gain. They will have to rely on Companions to cast Limited Wish for the one-time wishes from that. Symbol, Stun is a good spell, but competes with a lot of other better 8th-level spells like Horrid Wilting and Simulacrum.
- Invokers have a bit of a hefty tradeoff - they lose out on Friends, Ray of Enfeeblement, all Charm spells, Confusion and Chaos, Hold Person, and the two most powerful Enchantment spells, Emotion: Hopelessness and Greater Malison. Greater Malison is a painful loss for an additional spell slot, however it should be noted that there are zero Enchantment spells after level 5, meaning that an Invoker loses no spells of 6th to 9th level. In exchange they get a saving throw penalty on Fireball, Chain Lightning, and Incendiary Cloud. In original BG1 they also lost out on Conjuration, but that doesn't apply to BG2 or the Enhanced Editions, which made it a lot more enticing. Losing out on Greater Malison is a hefty tradeoff though, when it comes to raw AoE damage you are not going to get better damage than the Necromancy spell Abi Dalzim's Horrid Wilting, and the best damage in the game is going to come from summoned Planetars anyways. Having another Mage in the party dedicated to Greater Malison offsets most of the penalites for being an Invoker though.
- Invokers have the largest number of bonuses to items here. Blaster casting has the issue of running out of 'ammo', which can be supplemented with things like 50-charge wands. Also gets bonuses to a lot of Mage-exclusive items like the Fireball-Lightning Bolt of the Staff of the Magi and the Lightning Bolt of Paralyzation from the Staff of Power.
- Enchanter losing out on Necromancy is an extremely painful tradeoff. BG veterans will tell you the best damage spells come from Necromancy, but losing Evocation doesn't just lose damage spells, it loses Sequencers and Contingencies. These two groups of Evocation spells are the only way to increase your total spells per day, and are a part of the most powerful spell combos in the game. In exchange, Enchantment gets boosts to spells that have a lot of items that cast them that aren't scrolls or wands locked to Mage.
- Enchanter's bonuses to all Charm effects from items sounds better than it is, since those items are not scrolls or wands, so they can be used by any class. But they do get bonuses to the Wands of Sleep, Fear, and Paralyzation.
- Illusionist is the original "meta trap", where people see the loss of Necromancy and assume they're just losing out on skeletons. This is not the case. Losing Necromancy means losing Skull Traps, which are slightly smaller Fireballs that stack infinitely and deal Magic damage instead of the extremely commonly-resisted Fire damage. This is also a loss of Death Spell, which auto-kills a lot of annoying enemies and wipes summoned monsters off the map without a save, and the aforementioned Horrid Wilting. While they get a bonus to some extremely useful spells (Spook with its scaling ST penalty built-in, Deafness, and Blindness), these spells are below level 3 and are thus blocked by even the Minor Globe of Invulnerability. Illusion has the most broken spells in the game (Project Image and Simulacrum) but these don't have saving throws, so they're just as powerful cast by any class.
- Item-wise they do get the ST bonus to the Wand of Cursing which only rolls one save for three status effects (Blindness, Deafness, and Silence).
- Necromancers are another kit that suffers from losing some exceedingly powerful spells. No Illusion means no Invisibility spells of any kind, no Mirror Image, no busted Mislead shenanigans, no Project Image or Simulacrum to exponentially multiply your spells per day, and in exchange they get a saving throw penalty applied to Skull Trap and Horrid Wilting. Definitely not worth it given how powerful Illusion is, however if you aren't looking to use the broken Illusion spells this would definitely lend itself to a more balanced playstyle.
- Transmuters are one of the worst Specialist Mages in the game. They lost out on the entirety of Abjuration. That's losing every single protection spell in the entire game (Protection from every element, Spell Shield, spell deflections and turnings, Spell Trap, and Protection from Magical Weapons), the anti-magic Globe spells, Dispel and Remove Magic, every anti-mage spell from Spell Thrust to Ruby Ray, Lower Resistance, Pierce Shield, you name it. All this in exchange for another spell per day per level and a saving throw penalty on Polymorph Other is not worth it no matter how you look at it. A Mage who can't protect himself from other Mages is a corpse.
- Abjurer is just as bad as Transmuter. These two dueling schools deserve one another. Losing Alteration isn't as damning, but you lose out on Vocalize to stop yourself from being silenced, you lose out on Slow to debuff enemies, you lose out on Haste and Improved Haste, so you can't give your Warrior characters double APR, you lose Stoneskin which is one of the best defensive spells in the game, and you lose out on Time Stop. Time Stop. The ability to pause the game and continue casting spells and you lose it. Unless you plan on fishing for Wishes for double-duration Time Stops you're not competing any time soon with a fair number of end-game bosses. And in exchange? No Mage Abjuration spell has a saving throw. BG2 has a plethora of items that cast Improved Haste, so losing it isn't that impactful, but losing Time Stop is losing one of the best spells in the entire game.
Wild Mage is unique in that it counts as a specialized mage for purposes of determining how many spells per level it can cast but does not have any barred schools. It also counts as a specialist mage from the school of "NONE." Instead, Wild Mages get 3 unique spells, accept a random caster level modification every time they cast a spell, and a 1% chance per spell cast that the spell will undergo a Wild Surge. The three Wild Mage-only spells are Reckless Dweomer (Level 1), Chaos Shield (Level 2), and Improved Chaos Shield (Level 7). Reckless Dweomer is extremely useful in that it lets you cast any spell you know as a level 1 spell. The trouble is that you will ALWAYS trigger a Wild Surge when using it. So, basically, it's probably not going to happen, but the chance IS there. A Wild Surge is a very unpredictable and dangerous magical spike that has dozens and dozens of possible affects. Many of them are bad. It could be a relatively harmless affect like making you 'drunk' (giving a strange affect around your character and forcing you to forfeit your spell), to something potentially lethal (holding you, forcing your spell to become a Fireball, making 80% of your gold disappear, petrifying you, etc.). The random caster level modifications happen on otherwise successful casts. They are between a -5 penalty or a +5 bonus to caster level. This will be a huge factor during early levels, but after level 10 or 11, you likely won't notice them anymore. Wild Mages are usually not recommended for hardcore play, as a single unlucky Wild Surge can end your run. However, if you need a break from usual playstyle and want to test your mettle against the dice, take a look at Wild Mage Compendium, which provides some tactics on taming wild magic.
Sorcerer[edit | edit source]
Sorcerers give up a greater variety of known spells, but in return they are not required to prepare any of the spells they do know and can cast more spells per day. Should you make a sorcerer, make sure to pick spells that scale well such as magic missile, fireball, haste, stoneskin, etc. Avoid things that do NOT scale well like sleep, blind, etc. You may want to skip out on any spell you can cast from a wand (horror, sleep, fireball, etc.) as wands are plentiful and it will make you more versatile. Remember that you CAN still cast spells from scrolls. This comes in handy for Baldur's Gate 2 as you can simply use a find familiar scroll instead of wasting a known spell on a one-time use spell. On a side-note, sorcerers do NOT work as they do in 3rd edition (where they rely on Charisma). In fact, they do not really rely on any stat (other than the obvious Dexterity and Constitution). Intelligence does not give them more spells per day, nor does it make their spellcasting more powerful. Because of this, Sorcerers are good charisma monkeys should you make one, and you can afford to spread points between strength, intelligence, and wisdom in order to keep all of them decently high instead of the usual min-maxing involved with most other character classes. While Charisma and Intelligence do not bolster your abilities to cast spells, they still have high minimums of 9 so you couldn't make them true dump stats even if you wanted to.
Because of their limited library of spells, it's not a good idea to make a Sorcerer your primary spellcaster. Especially later in Baldur's Gate 2, the distinctive mage fencing duels where 3 spells are needed to remove specific protections put up by each mage or creature will leave Sorcerers at a distinct disadvantage to their more well-read brethren. Sorcerers carve out a very comfortable niche as the party's second caster, though. A Mage and a Sorcerer can typically out-cast two Mages of equal skill. Sorcerers are also better support casters, able to quickly renew a critical spell like Haste if it gets unexpectedly dispelled.
Humans, elves, and half-elves can be sorcerers. However, there is no multi- or dual-class option so there no reasons not to be an elf as they have superior racial advantages.
Recommended Spells to know per level[edit | edit source]
Level 1: Sleep is the must-pick here immediately for how powerful it is in early BG1. After that, Blindness is extremely powerful, Shield nullifies all enemy Magic Missiles, and Magic Missile and Spook grow much more powerful with Caster Level. Don't take Find Familiar, since you only ever cast it once in BG1 and once in BG2 use a scroll.
Level 2: Mirror Image is one of the best defensive spells in the game let alone for this level. Blur is also useful for the bonus saving throw if not the extra AC. Melf's Acid Arrow is the best damage spell at this level should you feel you need it. A more support oriented sorcerer might want Vocalize and Remove Fear. They are situational spells but having the multiple casts in case the effects are dispelled or enemies re-debuff your characters is handy. A sorcerer more focused on debuffing enemies should go for Web and Horror.
Level 3: Skull Trap is preferred to Fireball because it does not have an elemental association with it and does not hardcap at 10d6 (meaning it will eventually do more damage.), and it can be stacked infinitely with rest. Slow is a great debuff spell at this level and is a good choice. Invisibility 10' Radius is an AoE Invisibility that also has an issue of only being obtainable in BG1 by getting the scroll from a random drop, meaning this spell is almost unobtainable by Mages. Protection from Fire and Protection from Cold are very useful, but cold damage is definitely less common than fire. Remove Magic can be good for dispelling enemies (though Mages have more trouble dispelling than Bards and Inquisitors). Don't pick Dispel Magic, it's just Remove Magic but it can also remove party buffs.
Level 4: Stoneskin is easily the most important spell at 4th level because it basically makes you immune to attacks for a certain number of hits. Emotion is a handy spell as it essentially serves as Remove Fear and Horror in one spell. Greater Malison is a spell that remains useful through all of BG1 and 2. Secret Word is a good final spell to learn because you can use it to strip enemy spellcasters of their anti-magic protections, one round at a time. Improved Invisibility is Invisibility plus a saving throw bonus, and Minor Sequence gives you some extra spells if you take another rest to prepare them. Spirit Armor gives you Full Plate AC and a saving throw bonus, note that this stacks with Improved Invisibility.
Level 5: Lower Resistance is a must especially on a sorcerer because when you do need it, casting it multiple times is essential. Breach is a great anti-defense spell severely inhibiting enemy mages and clerics from magically defending themselves against melee types. If you want to choose a summoning spell, Animate Dead is preferred out of the list because the Skeleton Warrior is highly magic resistant and immune to Mind Flayers' psionics and brain-draining. Spell Immunity should also be taken because of its various applications (immunity to Dispel Magic, immunity to True Sight, immunity to Evocation damage spells, etc.). Spell Shield is also a good idea because it protects the sorcerer from a single anti-magic attack, such as Breach or Spellstrike.
Level 6: If you didn't pick up either Lower Resistance or Secret Word, get Pierce Magic as it is a combination of both of them. True Sight is a must because disabling enemy spellcaster illusions is key to many encounters in BG2. Improved Haste is great and you can use Mislead to continuously cast spells while remaining invisible. Protection From Magical Weapons is the best armor in the game. Spell Deflection and Death Spell are also very much worth considering.
Levels 7: Mordenkainen's Sword is one of the best spells to pick up at this level because its immune to most forms of damage. It is notoriously vulnerable to Death Spell, so be careful using it against dragons and liches. Project Image is also an incredible spell because it summons a clone of you and all the spells you had memorized at the time of casting. Combine it with Wizard Eye (4th level spell) and you've got a remote-controlled version of you unleashing hell while your original self is safe and sound. It is vulnerable to illusion-shattering spells like True Sight but that is easily remedied by having it cast Spell Immunity: Divination on itself. Spell Turning, Ruby Ray of Reversal, Power Word: Stun, and Spell Sequencer are all exceptionally good picks.
Level 8: Horrid Wilting! Incendiary Cloud is also good for hurling into a room and then closing the door on any monsters inside, leaving them to die from the burning. Spell Trigger is a good choice as well and can be used offensively or defensively. Symbol: Stun has a -4 save penalty and is a good spell if you can manage to launch it into a crowd of enemies, but it has a long casting time and can affect your party too.
Level 9: Time Stop! 3 free rounds to slaughter your enemies is plenty, especially when combined with Improved Alacrityr. Get Chain Contingency as well because you can even cast it while paused and it doesn't count toward the one spell per round limitation. Wish is also great because you can (ab)use it to refresh your spells and abilities (If you dumped WIS use one of the hundreds of Potions of Insight available beforehand). Shapechange may be worth considering for the Mind Flayer form, and Spellstrike might be good because it tears down every buff vs. magic that an enemy has. Imprisonment is useful solely to deal with enemy planetars. Power Word: Kill is a great finisher spell to use on mages that have had their magical protections taken down and it can be used to end the fight before it even starts. It should be noted that since Sorcerers pick their spells when they hit the appropriate level, Sorcerers can get 9th level spells before Throne of Bhaal. All Mages are limited by scroll availability, and shops aren't carrying 9th level scrolls at all until Throne of Bhaal. Sorcerer hits level 17, picks Time Stop, and fights the last battles of Shadows of Amn with an unfair advantage.
High Level Abilities: As a Sorcerer, you'll get access to all of them eventually but they share their spells per day with Level 9 spells. There is no equipment to increase the number of Level 9 slots you've got to choose carefully which spells you decide to use in a battle.
Alternate Build for Sorcerer
Sorcerers are able to cast any spell they want rather than memorizing specific spells. This makes some of the best tanks in the game as they can refresh specific buffs as needed and keep taking hits.
A Sorcerer with 18 dex that casts Spirit Armor, Blur, and Improved Invisibility has an effective AC of -10. When you add in items and other defensive spells, you will hit armor class levels that make any fighter rethink their life choices. This is before considering Mirror Image, Stoneskin, etc.
Level 1: Shield and Protection from Petrification (only if PC) are important here, Magic Missile is solid, rest are up to you. I take friends, magic missile, and sleep
Level 2: Mirror image and blur are mandatory, rest are up to you. I take glitterdust, melf's acid arrow, and web. If you aren't using amulet of power take vocalize.
Level 3: Protection from fire is great, as it is by far the most common damage source, this one lasts forever (per turn) and grants 100% immunity. Rest are preference, I take MMM, flame arrow, skull trap, and vampiric touch.
Level 4: Stoneskin, Improved invisibility, both fireshields and spirit armor. Minor sequencer is not as good as taking the second fireshield for this build.
Level 5: Spell immunity and spell shield, rest are your preference, I take breach, animate dead, and lower resistance
Level 6: Protection from magic energy, protection from magical weapons, contingency are important, I will typically take improved haste, last one is entirely preference. I sometimes take spell deflection.
Levels 7: Spell sequencer, project image are key here, the rest are preference, I like limited wish, mass invis, and mordenkainens sword
Level 8: Spell trigger is key for the build, the rest are preference, I like to take horrid wilting, incendiary cloud, pierce shield, and I will take either maze or simulacrum depending on my run.
Level 9: Hardest decisions here, chain contingency is key, I will usually take time stop, wish, and spell trap here.
With best in slot gear you will hit -20 AC without the big metal unit, along with exceptional magical and physical defenses. If you cast vampiric touch on an ally on higher difficulties you will have hp value only below pure fighters with good constitution. Proper refreshing of spell shield and PfmW combined with stoneskin, resistances, and spell immunity will make you immune to all forms of dispel, physical damage, and magical attacks. The only way for an enemy to breach your defenses is by wishing for the AOE breach, time stopping and spamming a barrage of abjuration spells to remove your defenses, or getting hit by a beholders anti magic ray. In every other situation, good play will keep you untouched, allowing the rest of your party to stand behind you as you facetank everything in the game wearing a pretty dress holding a stick.
Rogue Classes[edit | edit source]
Thieves are almost necessary for their abilities to disarm traps and Bards are useful in a group as they allow other characters to be more specialized by freeing up mages from having to cast some group buff spells, being able to off-tank in a pinch, and being able to free up points for a thief by having the ability to pick pockets.
Thief[edit | edit source]
The race you choose for your thief is important as each race gains bonuses to certain thieving abilities. Keep in mind that dexterity also plays a roll into how well you do many thieving abilities, therefore giving elves and halflings a +5% advantage in most areas over the average 18 and dwarves a -5% disadvantage compared to the average 18.
Thieving Bonuses and Penalties by Race:
|Race||Pick Pocket||Open Locks||Find Traps||Move Silently||Hide in Shadows||Detect Illusion||Set Traps|
As you can see, halflings make the best thieves in terms of raw thieving abilities as they have a net +40% distrubted throughout skills and also have natural 19 dexterity. Also keep in mind these bonuses apply to other classes that share thief abilities. (+Hide in Shadows for Rangers and +Pick-Pocket for bards.)
Thieves are extremely important for two reasons. First and more importantly, they can find and disarm traps. This is critical, because most traps in Baldur's Gate are nasty as hell. Scads of them spit out fireballs and lightning bolts that can turn you into ash, others infect you with deadly poisons that do up to 5 damage every half second, and still others will hit you with Petrification, Imprisonment, Finger of Death, or other outright deadly spells. Disarming traps with your thief also gives you a nice XP boost in Baldur's Gate 2. Secondly, thieves can open locks. Without a thief, the only way to open many locked chests is with the wizard spell "Knock." Opening chests with a thief also has a nice XP boost. As an added bonus, thieves are able to pick pockets, which can nab you some powerful items early on. However, if you fail a pickpocket, your target will go hostile, along with quite possibly the rest of the city you happen to be in. There is a cheat to avoid this, but it outright defeats an intended mechanic and shouldn't be used in hardcore runs. Still, if you choose to use it, here it is: If you fail stealing an item, immediately pause the game and have your character speak to the target you failed stealing from. This will cause the game to initiate dialogue, which will make them forget you were trying to steal something from them. This is still quite risky as the timing is very tricky and failing can potentially get you killed or can stop you from progressing.
Thieves are useful in combat, as well. High dexterity will keep them viable from range for the first few levels while their Thac0 is low, and once hide in shadows/move silently is high enough, you can stealth them in to a room for a backstab against a target. Backstab causes you to inflict multipliers of damage from your attack assuming you are using a melee weapon a single-class thief can use. You can even backstab with staves, and many people have had great success with Jan Jansen backstabbing with a staff in Baldur's Gate 2. The backstab multiplier maxes out at x5 (Quintuple damage). If you get a critical hit while doing a backstab (damage is doubled), the chances of your target surviving are slim to none. Keep in mind, however, there are enemy types in Baldur's Gate 2 that are immune to backstab damage.
Backstab damage calculation is done as follows:
(base weapon damage + PHYSICAL damage bonus from weapon enchantment + proficiency damage bonus + kit damage bonus + weapon style damage bonus) x multiplier + strength bonus = total; total doubled if critical
Therefore, your best ways of increasing your backstab damage is increasing the numbers that are added before the multiplier. This makes Katanas and heavily enchanted weapons such as +4's, +5's, and +6s favorable for backstabbing. Proficiency point bonuses, kit damage bonuses, and weapon style bonuses are also extremely effective at increasing your backstab damage potential. This is why dual-classed Kensai -> Thieves land absolutely brutal backstabs, as they gain scads of bonuses to these three things. Increasing your backstab multiplier higher than x5 can only be done (without mods) by choosing the Assassin kit.
Thieves can also set traps with Baldur's Gate 2 and BGtutu, which can be a fantastic way of killing stronger monsters. Attack them and kite them towards your traps to watch it unload upon the creature for heavy damage.
Thieves arguably have the best high-level abilities, to boot. Use Any Item allows the thief (and any multi- or dual-classed Thieves) to ignore any restrictions on items, period, allowing them to use class, race, and even personal-restricted equipment (this last restriction still exists in BG2:EE however). Spike Trap is the single highest damage ability in the entire game, dealing a clinically insane 20d10 magic damage to all enemies in a radius bypassing any Magic Resistance (but not Magic Damage Resistance, as rare as that is). If you plan to use a thief purely so you can disarm traps and open locks, there is not much reason to go beyond level 8 or 9 for dual-classing purposes. For single-class thieves, halflings have the best thieving skills while half-orcs make the most damaging thieves.
Thief Kits[edit | edit source]
- Advantages: Flat +1 to hit and damage. May coat weapon in poison once per day for every 4 levels of experience. This poison inflicts 3 damage over the first 6 seconds and then an additional 1 damage per second until the total damage inflicted equals 24 (a successful save vs. poison decreases the total damage to 12). Multiple uses do not stack. Backstab multiplier caps at x7 instead of x5 (although it does not increase the rate you gain backstab multipliers).
- Disadvantages: Only gains 15 thieving points to distribute per level.
- Comments: Assassins are powerful single-class rogues. Their poison is deadly, especially at the start of the game. Assassin poison helps cripple enemy casters as the poison tick will often cause them to lose concentration on their spells. The extra hit, damage, and enormous backstab multiplier allow you to inflict more damage per single hit than just about anything else in the entire game. However, the backstab multiplier bonus takes a long time to achieve and starting assassins will not have many points to distribute into thieving abilities. Assassins will have to rely on thief-stat boosting equipment and potions (such as the Shadow Armor and Potions of Perception) for quite awhile. Because of the added levels it takes to fully utilize the assassin kit, they do not dual-class very well. The Enhanced Editions nerfed the poison to require a saving throw vs. death to negate because Siege of Dragonspear adds Assassin and Blackguard enemies who will use it against you, so the playing field had to be leveled for both sides.
- Bounty Hunter:
- Advantages: +15 to Set Trap skill. In addition to regular traps, they may lay a special trap. Gains more uses of these special traps every 5 levels.
- At 1st level, the trap does 3d8+5 missile damage and the victims are slowed for 5 rounds (save vs. spell at -4 negates slow).
- At 11th level, the trap does 4d8+5 missile damage and holds humanoid targets for 5 rounds (save vs. spell at -1 negates hold).
- At 16th level, the trap erects an Otiluke's Resilient Sphere around the targets for 7 rounds (save vs. spell negates; magic resistance applies).
- At 21st level, the trap mazes the targets (no save, no magic resistance).
- Disadvantages: Only gains 20 thieving points to distribute per level.
- Comments: Bounty Hunters are the kings of traps. They still get regular thief traps as well as their unique kit traps. There are two major unlisted bonuses for Bounty Hunter traps. First, they can be thrown, and secondly, they have a large area of effect. This allows you to toss your trap effectively like a Fireball with status effects. Anyone that is affected by the trap's effects is out of the fight, allowing you to set up other traps should you need them and lets you thin the herd. Mazing enemies without a save is extremely awesome as you can then run up and drop regular traps (or spike traps once you get into epic levels) so as soon as the maze drops, the enemies are treated to instant death. Bounty Hunter is easily the most viable solo thief build. The downside of only 20 thief skill points to distribute per level is not that significant as you can simply use thieving potions to bolster anything that is not at 100% yet. Note, of course, that throwing traps means you don't have to run to the spot you want to place them. You still cannot place them with enemies in sight. Assassin's loss of 10 skill points per level is devastating; Bounty Hunter isn't as bad though, you are still capable of maxing a number of skills early on. At level 21, however, they can Maze enemies and effectively drop their regular damage traps in the middle of combat and allow the party to kill enemies one or two at a time as they all come out of the Mazes at different times.
- Advantages: +15 to Set Trap skill. In addition to regular traps, they may lay a special trap. Gains more uses of these special traps every 5 levels.
- Advantages: +1 AC bonus. Bonus increases by 1 for every 5 levels. +1 to hit and damage for every 5 levels of experience. Can specialize in any thief melee weapon. Can place 3 proficiency points into two weapon fighting style.
- Disadvantages: No Backstab multiplier.
- Comments: Swashbucklers are almost fighters due to their bonuses. The problem with Swashbuckler is that they don't gain Warrior APR like an actual warrior, and they can't wear armor that matters for decent AC, and their AC and THAC0 bonuses increase so slowly that it will never matter. By the time the Swashbuckler AC bonus is measurable, you're in mid-to-late BG2 and enemies have such low THAC0 they don't care, they just hit you. Swashbuckler is an inferior Fighter/Thief in every aspect from available equipment to APR to THAC0 to HP to AC. Fighter/Thief has better stats in every regard, and the ability to backstab. Even if you wanted to dual-class Swashbuckler to another class to give it those AC and THAC0 bonuses you're talking about a bonus that only increases once every five levels. At most you're dualing at Thief 20, spending all of BG2 as a gimped class like Cleric or Mage or Fighter starting over from square one, and gaining 5 AC at the point in the game where enemies don't care about AC. Even if you wanted to hit the AC cap of 20 (not counting DEX bonus), you can just as easily hit that with the Big Metal Unit, and you're not hitting AC cap with any thief armors whatsoever. Skip this kit, you may as well play a Stalker to get stealth, backstab, Warrior APR, and also have the ability to dual to Cleric if you want.
Bard[edit | edit source]
Bards are great in that they have a great number of basic skills in one nice package. They're part thief, part mage, and part fighter. They can pick pockets, have access to all the spells that mages do (though they have very few spells per day and can only cast up to 6th level spells), and can become proficient in almost any weapon they please. The trouble with Bards is that their "jack of all trades" advantages are quickly outstripped by the "master of none" penalties in the late game. However, they shine in large parties. Their ability to pick pockets negates the need for the party thief to spend a single point in it. Their limited casting skill allows the party mage to memorize more big damage spells while the bard memorizes utilities like Resist Fear, Remove Magic, Oracle, Breach, Haste, and so on. They also gain Lore at a rate of 10 points per level (over 3 times the rate of the next fastest classes, Mages and Thieves). By level 5, a Bard will be able to identify pretty much anything if they have high Wisdom and Intelligence, obliterating the need for Identify spells. They can also use mage wands, making them a viable alternative to a mage for the entirety of Baldur's Gate 1. Their ability to use longbows competently gives you a good backup archer to support the front line fighters
Lastly, and most importantly, they can sing, which prevents the bard from taking further actions but buffs party members around them. The standard Bard Song gives immunity to fear and removes fear from allies if already affected by it, and it increases the luck of affected party members. Luck hurts enemy attack rolls and makes it less likely that they will hit for a lot of damage. As of v2.0 of the Enhanced Editions, the kitless Bard Song improves Luck by +1 at level 1, +2 at level 15, and by +3 at level 20, vastly increasing the vanilla Bard Song's effectiveness. This is a small thing when taken individually, but in a large party it makes a significant difference, especially when the party is afflicted by Fatigue. Also keep in mind there are a fair number of good armors and equipment only usable by bards in Baldur's Gate 2 (such as the Melodic Chain.) One last thing, Bards choose epic feats from the Rogue pool, meaning they can take Use Any Item, Spike Trap, Evasion, etc., vastly increasing their effectiveness.
The downsides of Bards are that they're Rogues. They get no APR bonuses, so their ability to wield any weapon is hampered by not being able to use them well at all. Without backstab, they can only roll regular attack rolls once per round without any proficiency bonuses, using the terrible Thief THAC0 that caps at 10. They get spells, which are really good, but only 6 levels of them. And the only skill they have is Pick Pockets which is marginally useful at best.
Only Humans and Half-Elves can be Bards. However, since Bards can't dual class, there's no reason whatsoever to make a Human Bard. Half-Elves get some minor saves to Charm and Sleep spells, +10% Pickpocket, and Infravision. Bards must be of a "Neutral Alignment". As long as Neutral is in the name somewhere, it can be chosen. There is also little reason to be a default bard if not using the Enhanced Editions. Skald is incredibly effective as a group buffer pre-epic levels and Blades are one if not the most effective whirling dervishes of destruction in the game.
It's worth noting that Bards have a minimum Charisma of 15. Combined with the level 1 mage spell "Friends", this is enough to jump you up to 20 Charisma, the highest charisma that actually affects buying price of items.
Bard Kits[edit | edit source]
- Advantages: May use Offensive Spin and Defensive Spin once per day 4 levels. May put 3 proficiency points into Two-Weapon Fighting Style.
- Offensive Spin gives +2 to hit and to damage, +1 attack per round, movement speed as though under the effects of Haste and guarantees maximum damage on every hit for 4 rounds. It cannot be used in conjunction with Haste or Improved Haste, but CAN be used in conjunction with Oils of Speed or the Boots of Speed, as well as Improved Haste effects from items such as the Bracers of Blinding Strike, Ring of Gaxx, Amulet of the Cheetah, and Improved Cloak of Protection.
- Defensive Spin roots the Blade in place for 4 rounds but gives -1 to AC per Blade level (up to a maximum of -10 AC).
- Disadvantages: Bard song does not improve with levels (i.e. the Luck bonus stays at +1). 50% normal Pick Pockets. 50% normal Lore.
- Comments: Blades are terminally lethal. Their raw damage output easily outclasses most fighters, and they can tank effectively by using a combination of spell buffs and Defensive Spin. In fact, a Blade can outclass a fighter in raw tanking capacity as long as he has Defensive Spin. For example, a Bard with 18 dexterity equipped with the Bracers of Defense AC3 and a Ring of Protection +1, under the effects of the Mage spell Stoneskin and Defensive Spin at level 10 would give a whopping -12 AC with damage immunity from the people that COULD manage to hit him. Blades also get a significant number of uses of spins as they level up at the same rate as thieves (10 uses total by the level cap at the end of Throne of Bhaal). However, it does only last 24 seconds and keeps you in stuck in place, so a blade cannot REPLACE a fighter or cleric tank... UNLESS they are under the effect of Free Action, which removes that restriction. Their downsides are not very significant because while their lore value is halved, it is still better than any non-bard class, and their pick-pocket ability will still get to ridiculously high levels midway through the game. The epic ability Improved Bard Song fully replaces whatever Bard Song the Bard used to have and it does not improve from there, effectively eliminating their only legitimate weakness. Also keep in mind that Blades still draw epic feats from the Thief pool. Rigging Time Stop traps and then going berserk on an enemy with offensive spin is one of the most damaging tactics in the game.
- Advantages: May use Offensive Spin and Defensive Spin once per day 4 levels. May put 3 proficiency points into Two-Weapon Fighting Style.
- Advantages: Bard Song does not help allies. Instead, enemies must routinely save vs. spell to negate certain effects.
- 1st level: Enemies must save vs. spell at +2 or become confused.
- 15th level: Enemies must save vs. spell at +2 or become confused, and must save vs. spell at no modifier or be slowed.
- 20th level: Enemies must save vs. spell at +2 or become confused and knocked unconscious, and must save vs. spell at no modifier or be slowed.
- Disadvantages: None.
- Comments: The Jester is unique bard kit in that its song is offensive rather than defensive. Its song is also quite powerful - unlike normal confusion, the Jester's song is not considered a magical effect. This means it will actually bypass magical protections, and since the singing is not considered an attack a Jester can literally sing his enemies to death while remaining invisible. The only way to defend against the Jester's bard song is to actually be immune to confusion. In BG2 the Jester hits levels where they can knock enemies unconscious in the middle of battle just by running around cracking jokes. Given the fact this is the only Bard kit with an offensive song, it may not be worth it to take Enhanced Bard Song since that would effectively turn your Jester into a normal Bard.
- Advantages: Bard Song does not help allies. Instead, enemies must routinely save vs. spell to negate certain effects.
|The Jester's song forces the singer to become visible each round it procs.|
- Advantages: +1 attack rolls and +1 damage with all weapons. Skald Song provides the following benefits to all allies who can hear it, based on the Skald's level:
- 1st level: +2 to hit and damage rolls and -2 AC.
- 15th level: +4 to hit and damage rolls, -4 AC, and immunity to Fear.
- 20th level: +4 to hit and damage, -4 AC, immunity to Fear and Stun.
- Disadvantages: 25% normal Pick Pockets.
- Comments: Skalds are the ultimate support bard and the drug of choice for fighter-heavy parties. They provide a great boost to Thac0, damage, and armor, and provide some mage support. Their Skald Song is many times better than the comparatively mediocre Luck song at the paltry cost of your Pick Pockets skill. Potions of Master Thievery are plentiful, so picking pockets is still a non-issue. They lose out long-term compared to Blades, however, as the epic level feat "Improved Bard Song" effectively eliminates the need for Skald song. It still comes highly recommended as epic levels mean nothing if you can't survive long enough to get to them, and skalds are a very great early party buff. Consider Skald a sort-of middle-ground between Blade and Bard. Once you get Enhanced Bard Song you're a Bard with a +1 to attack and damage rolls.
- Advantages: +1 attack rolls and +1 damage with all weapons. Skald Song provides the following benefits to all allies who can hear it, based on the Skald's level:
Monk[edit | edit source]
Monks are martial artists who primarily fight unarmed and unarmored. They are listed separately here as they share a number of similarities with Warriors, Clerics, and Thieves.
- Monks share a lot in common with Warriors: they have Warrior THAC0 progression, lowering their THAC0 by 1 every level until it hits zero, Warrior APR boosts at levels 7 and 13, they only suffer the Warrior non-proficiency penalty when using a weapon they have no proficiency points in (+2 THAC0 as opposed to Wizard +5 or other classes' +3), they can use all Warrior-exclusive potions like Potions of Heroism and Potions of various Giant's Strength to reach Strength scores above 18, and have access to all Warrior High-Level Abilities
- Monks use the XP table of a Cleric, and can use any and all Divine scrolls (such as Protection from Evil 10' Radius, Mental Domination, Chaotic Commands, etc.), and can use the Wand of the Heavens like Clerics, and the Sensate Amulet. They gain HP like a Cleric, where they have up to 9d8 HP and gain 2 HP per level afterwards.
- Monks have the same Lay On Hands ability as the Paladin class, though they are limited to only being able to heal themselves with it. Also, like Paladins only Humans may be Monks.
- Monks are limited to using only one-handed weapons, and only the one-handed weapons a Thief can use. They can only put a single point into these weapons, and unlike all other classes they are limited to one weapon style, Single-Weapon Style, which is also limited to one point (though only one point in that style is any good so this is not a penalty to it). They have the Thief skills Hide in Shadows, Move Silently, and Find Traps, though they cannot actually disarm said traps since they lack a thievery button like Rogue classes.
Monks must be human, and must be lawfully aligned (Lawful Good, Lawful Neutral or Lawful Evil).
Monks can use all one-handed weapons that thieves can use, but they are best off attacking with their fists. They gain an extra 1/2 unarmed attack per round for every three levels (until level 18), and their unarmed attacks increase in damage as they go up in levels. They cannot wear armor, but gain natural bonuses to their AC as they go up in levels, and special bonuses versus missile attacks. They move faster than a normal character as well, eventually becoming even faster than a character wearing the Boots of Speed. Monks also gain a natural magic resistance up to 78% and a bonus to saving throws versus spells. For more on all these abilities, see the Monk progression tables.
Monks share the Hide in Shadows, Move Silently and Find Traps skills of thieves. (Unlike thieves, however, they cannot remove traps; they can only detect them.) Monks only gain 10 points per level to dedicate to these skills.
Monks may make a Stunning Blow attack once per day for every four levels, which makes all their attacks made within the next 9 seconds force their enemy to save vs. spell or be stunned. At fifth level, Monks become immune to disease, and cannot be slowed or hasted. At 7th level, they gain a lay on hands ability. At 9th level, they gain an immunity to being charmed, and at 11th level they become immune to poison. At 13th level they gain a quivering palm ability, which allows them to make an attack that forces an enemy to save vs. spell or die.
||It's important to point out Monks can still equip Keldorn's armor if they meet the minimum requirement stats! It's the only armor they can equip and doesn't interfere with any of their other abilties. Those stats are 15 strength, 17 constitution, 12 intelligence and 18 charisma. Due to monk's minimum required 9 Wisdom, it means you won't have a single dump stat and therefore need a monster roll to pull this off. Without utilizing the Machine of Lum the Mad, you need to roll an 89 total to hit the minimum and still max dexterity. Monks in the original BG2 can also use a number of Mage wands like the Wand of Cloudkill.|
||Monks no longer have the ability to equip any armor now that party-member-exclusive equipment is no longer usable by anyone else. They are also no longer able to use any Mage wands, though they are still able to use Divine scrolls and Wands of the Heavens|
Monk have a deceptive number of abilties that would lead them to appear to be more powerful than they actually are. Each of these needs to be addressed before you decide to actually play a Monk:
- Advantage: Melee combat. Monks have high enough THAC0 to land hits reliably, can use most decent one-handed weapons, have bonus attacks with their fists, and have a growing AC bonus to offset their lack of armor.
- Disadvantage: Monks in melee are a disaster. Their AC bonus is immeasurably tiny, in Baldur's Gate 1 they will hit a max level of 8, lower than any other class, and at level 8 their base AC will be 5. It starts at 9 at level 1 and goes down to 5, which is no different than any class that starts with Leather Armor, but they end up with the benefit of Chain Mail. Additionally, they don't have access to Helmets of any kind. In the original Baldur's Gate 2, any equipment in the headgear slot activated immunity to critical hits, which meant they could be immune to crits with a simple Ioun Stone of any variety. As of the Enhanced Editions, this no longer applies, so a Monk is always vulnerable to critical hits (which means if you are playing with SCS, Fire Giants will kill you in one hit with Critical Strike). Their Base AC doesn't hit 1 until 1.8 million XP, which means every Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, and Cleric who walks to Nashkel and picks up the Ankheg Plate will have better AC than all Monks level 15 and lower. Their AC eventually hits -6 at level 40, but these numbers are objectively useless since in Baldur's Gate 2 enemies who attack you will be using the same THAC0 tables meaning they'll have Base THAC0 zero and not care about your Monk AC bonus. The Missile AC bonus stops mattering after BG1 and never makes up the AC bonus of just wearing armor anyways. And never forget, a Monk has crappy d8 Hit Dice and only gets up to 2 HP per HD at 16 Constitution. They don't have Warrior HP to go with their Warrior THAC0. If you are playing vanilla OG or EE BG, you will need someone in armor to distract enemies while your Monk attacks them, because if you play solo or with SCS enemies will see your naked kung-fu man and immediately kill him. Monks also don't have access to percentile Strength, so they will, at best, have 18 Strength giving them a paltry -1 THAC0, +2 Damage, until you find the Manual of Gainful Exercise in Chapter 6 of BG1.
- Monk APR is terrible. With an APR-boosting off-hand weapon (Belm, Kundane, or Scarlet Ninjato) they can hit a main-hand Unarmed Strike APR of 5, with an additional 1 APR for their off-hand weapon. That's 6 total. Every single two-handed weapon user like Paladins and Rangers with two points in their weapon of choice will hit 6 APR with Improved Haste. Every dual-wielding Warrior ever hits 10 APR with Improved Haste. Monk can only hit 6 with their terrible fist. Someone at Wizards, a long time ago, was extremely impressed with the idea of Monks rolling the largest die on the table for damage. In reality, a Monk fist will end up doing a paltry 10 average damage. That's less than almost every other weapon in the game and it doesn't have any on-hit or passive effects. It's effectively an empty equipment slot. And as a side-note, for some baffling reason the best off-hand weapon for Monk is the Scarlet Ninjato. Monks only have Single-Weapon Style, so they will always be taking dual-wielding penalties.
- Advantage: Monks have Thief Stealth and Find Traps
- Disadvantage: These are useless. Monks have no Thievery button like Thieves and Bards, so they can't actually Find Traps. They can highlight a trap and then do nothing. The Find Traps skill is also the skill used to disarm traps, so a Monk doesn't save a Thief any skill points, so you still need a Thief to actually get rid of traps. Stealth skills on a Ranger are already useless, on a Monk who has worse weapon options and no armor this is even more useless. They can't stealth in-combat so this is only useful for getting a first-strike THAC0 bonus of 4, with no Backstab to capitalize on it.
- Advantage: Monks have Stunning Blow, the ability to stun enemies that fail a Save vs. Spell on every attack made in the next 9 seconds, usable once per day per four levels.
- Disadvantage: Stun is an extremely powerful ability, so powerful that the Power Attack HLA is one of the few ways to stun an enemy. Problem is, unlike Dwarven Defender who gets a better version of the Hardiness HLA, Monk gets a worse version of the Power Attack HLA. Power Attack forces Save vs. Death with a -4 penalty to the roll, Monk Stunning Blow just forces Save vs. Spell, no penalty. Power Attack also lasts 3 seconds longer. Monk will get more uses, up to 10 per day at level 40, so it somewhat levels-out, but the different saves are also a bit janky. Power Attack works well on Mages since they have bad Save vs. Death, and good Save vs. Spell. Stunning Blow is the opposite, for some reason a Monk punching a Mage is less likely to stun them than a Monk punching a Fighter. And for all of this talk of stuns, the katana Celestial Fury forces a save vs. spell against stun on every hit it does. The best ability of the Monk comes canned in a katana that is usable by any Fighter, Paladin, Ranger, Thief, and Bard.
- Advantage: Monks have Quivering Palm, the ability to outright kill someone. Every attack made in the next 5 seconds forces a save vs. spell or die.
- Disadvantage: Once per day, only for the attacks made in the next 5 seconds. Reminder: Monk APR caps at 6. That's effectively five attacks at max, without a saving throw penalty like the spell Finger of Death, which Clerics will end up getting over 5 times a day. This ability isn't terrible, but just severely limited by the idea that it shouldn't be available more than once per fight in a game where every caster can cast Kill This Thing over ten times a day.
- Advantage: Monks are immune to Slow and Slow is one of the most debilitating debuffs in the game., as well as Charm, Poison, and Disease.
- Disadvantage: Monks are immune to Haste. Being immune to Slow is good, being immune to Haste is a death sentence. The only way Monk can reach 10 APR is with short-lived uses of Whirlwind Attack. Every dual-wielding Warrior can combine Improved Haste to reach 10 APR with Critical Strike to hit 10 times for double damage each time. Worst-case scenario they're attacking an enemy that requires +3 weapons to hit and only 8 of their attacks can do damage. Monk at best is either standing in melee to do less damage than every other melee class in the game, all while unarmored and taking more damage than they're dealing, or using Critical Strike after a Stunning Blow to try and kill one enemy slowly. Not every enemy cast slow, every battle is made easier with Haste. Immunity to Disease never matters, it's a minor debuff that goes away by sleeping. Charm and Poison are good immunities, though.
- Advantage: Monks are The Late-Game Powerhouse whose natural Magic Resistance will eventually hit an astonishing 78%. That can be combined with three Magic Resistance-boosting items to reach 100%.
- Disadvantage: This is the most common crux to the Late-Game Powerhouse argument for Monks. And like all their other abilities it comes too little, too late. Their base 42% MR only comes at level 14, which is at 1.35 million XP. Even if you play through Siege of Dragonspear so you start BG1 with half a million XP, that's still 850k XP you have to gain to start gaining MR. The most MR you are going to gain from items is 10% from the Ring of Gaxx, 10% from Kaligun's Amulet of Magic Resistance, and 5% from the Machine of Lum the Mad. 25% is good, but that's including a 5% boost from the 4th floor of Watcher's Keep (which requires getting past some extremely difficult demon and devil fights, if you're Lawful Good congratulations you have to beat a Balor in a room full of demons past a Dead Magic Zone that wipes and prevents buffs just to get to the next level), and an amulet only sold in the Underdark. You will have high Magic Resistance, but not 100%. When you get your first HLA you'll have 66% base MR. By comparison Wizard Slayer has less MR than Monk until much much higher levels and can still use weapons and not suck. Paladins have Carsomyr and Carsomyr doesn't just give 50% MR, it also dispels at level 30 on-hit. Hell, Wizard Slayer can dual-class to Thief and get both UAI to equip whatever the hell they want, including Carsomyr. Monk cannot deal with enemy buffs, hell they don't have the APR to get through Mirror Images or Stoneskins like Warriors, and if an enemy casts Absolute Immunity they can't do anything at all. By the time Monk can reach 100% MR with a 10% ring, 10% Amulet, 5% Machine passive bonus, and 10% from the good choice in the Test of Selfishness they will have beaten Shadows of Amn. Once in Throne of Bhaal the number of caster-type enemies takes a severe dip in favor of large bruiser-type enemies or large amounts of bruisers. So they can't even enjoy being immune to most magic.
Back to Baldur's Gate.