Baldur's Gate: Claw of Kazgaroth

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Description[edit | edit source]

The Claw of Kazgaroth is a cursed item found in BG1 (and if in the protagonist's inventory at end-BG1, either worn or carried loose in the backpack, then also found in BG2). There's some controversy about usefulness of the Claw, and the goal of this article is to clarify it.

First, about the item itself: it provides bonuses to all saving throws except death, and AC bonus. But it also penalizes save vs death and constitution:

  • Armor Class: +1 bonus
  • Missile Armor Class bonus: +4 bonus
  • Save vs Death: -3 penalty
  • Save vs Wands: +3 bonus
  • Save vs Polymorph: +3 bonus
  • Save vs Breath: +3 bonus
  • Save vs Spells: +3 bonus
  • Constitution modifier: -2 penalty

All these effects, with one exception, affect all NPC equally. The exception is constitution penalty. Our purpose is to get all bonuses, while minimizing the impact of this penalty. (There may be situations when it's worth using the Claw regardless, the info is provided for you to make an informed decision).

Explanation[edit | edit source]

There are 3 ways in which constitution affects characters:

  1. HP (differently for warrior types and others)
  2. Saves (only for shorties)
  3. Regeneration

HP[edit | edit source]

Non-warrior classes get 1 HP bonus at Con 15 and 2 HP bonus at Con 16, that's all. Warriors get bonuses up to 25. Constitution penalties kick in on numbers lower than 7. Thus, Con penalty (to HP) means nothing to any character with Con of 9 to 14. And any non-warrior with Con 18. So, allowed stats are:

Non-warrior: 9-14, 18

Warrior: 9-14

Saves[edit | edit source]

Halflings, Dwarves and Gnomes receive additional bonuses to saves based on their constitution. They start at Con 4 and go up to 18, with a step of 3-4. So, if a character is a shorty, it places additional limits:

Shorty non-warrior: 9, 10, 13.

Shorty warrior: same.

Constitution[edit | edit source]

When Con is 20 or more, the character regenerates. There aren't many NPC with Con of 20, they're all warriors, so this point is moot. Just never get the Claw on Kagain or yourself being the tank.

NPC stats[edit | edit source]

Now that we have the stats, let's see which NPCs fit them:

That's actually a lot of NPCs (especially for those who play the Enhanced Edition). However, not every one will benefit from the Claw equally.

Item usefulness[edit | edit source]

Thinking of the item itself, the missile AC bonus is best suited to protect caster types from, well, missiles, which interrupt their spell casting. Failing that, it could also be useful to archers. As for melee, no, you don't want your tank failing save vs death. For backstabbers the item is largely irrelevant.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Best NPCs to wear the Claw[edit | edit source]

(as casters/archers)

Second Best NPCs to wear the Claw[edit | edit source]

(if used primarily with ranged weapons)

If any of these regularly go into melee, then they are disqualified This is why Shar-Teel and Dorn are omitted (their default role being in melee), although they'd qualify if used in a run in which others were manning the front row; likewise Faldorn is included since she's not typically used in the front row (although indeed it's actually feasible to use her as a melee tank with the right equipment).

TL;DR[edit | edit source]

Best used on ranged characters.

Character type Constitution score
1-8 9-10 11-12 13 14 15-17 18-19 20+
Warrior - + + + + - - -
Non-warrior - + + + + - + -
Shorty

(warrior or not)

- + - + - - - -

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