Unless otherwise specified, these mods are compatible with Vanilla BG2, Tutu, and the Enhanced Editions.
BG TuTu / BGT
Playing BG1 with the stock engine can be a frustrating experience for some, especially on newer hardware. First and foremost, read the article on why we highly suggest everyone use BG1TuTu, which allows you to use the much improved version of the Infinity engine from Baldur's Gate 2.
BGT, another mod of the same nature, not only provides improved engine for BG1, but actually merges all 3 BG games into a single one, so that you may play from Candlekeep to the Throne of Bhaal seamlessly.
Widescreen mod allows you to play on resolutions that are not normally available in BG2, and on widescreen monitors in particular.
You will want it for Classic Edition, the Enhanced one doesn't need it.
Throne of Bhall extender is more of a meta-mod, a mod for modders. But an expert gamer can also use a thing or two from it. TobEx allows to change things that were previously hardcoded. Because of that, you will often find it bundled with other mods, such as SCS or RR.
To clarify: if you don't know exactly why you need TobEx, then you don't need it.
Also Classic Edition only.
Another mod worth utilizing for BG2 is the Gibberlings3 fixpack. It fixes many broken dialogues, items, and abilities (Valygar's personal weapon not being able to backstab, for example). It also closes certain loopholes that could crash or freeze your game (beastmaster/clerics being stuck at level up screen because you eventually have proficiency pips with no where to put them, etc). As it doesn't alter gameplay and only fixes loopholes in the code, it is highly recommended whether you are doing a Hardcore run or not.
If you play Classic Edition, this mod is absolutely essential. The Enhanced Edition already incorporates the fixes of this mod.
Sword Coast Stratagems
Intended to added a level of depth and challenge not seen in the original game, SCS is not suggested for someone just getting their feet wet with hardcore runs. It definitely adds a greater degree of difficulty, but does it in a very graceful fashion - primarily through a vastly improved AI, especially for enemy casters. It doesn't change core components of the game, but adds a level of challenge that will make the game feel fresh if you've already done it a few times. Even for an elite gamer, SCS will certainly add challenge. Check out the official site: http://www.gibberlings3.net/scs/
Note: SCS is split into many components for a reason. Choose your components wisely.
Another mod that brings various things closer to their PnP counterparts, most notably Fiends, Elementals, and Undead. Fights with these enemies will be more challenging because they will receive their proper stats, abilities, and immunities from their AD&D counterparts. Summoned versions of these enemies will have their PnP abilities as well. Download it to view the latest readme, because the one on the site is out of date for some reason: http://www.shsforums.net/files/category/99-atweaks/
This mod randomly redistributes the treasure across the game, rendering (most of) your metagame knowledge about item placement useless.
Especially interesting is the "Some items are lost" mode. That completely messes up planning the character in advantage and vastly recalibrates stat and item usefulness. For example, in vanilla BG2, you could gimp strength and dexterity in order to boost other stats, and then right out of the dungeon buy a Girdle of Hill Giant strength from Ribald and loot Unseeing Eye for Gauntlets of Dexterity. With "Some items are lost", not only you don't know when you get them, but also if they will appear in the game at all.
Very recommended to BG veterans to break the routine. Try setting item loss percentage to ~80% and see if you can make do with what the dice says. https://www.gibberlings3.net/mods/items/item_rand/
Unique Artifacts adjusts game difficulty by toning down the amount of equipment available to the party. Yes, it's not that hard to take on a dragon when you're swinging epic artifacts bought in a store for (relative) pennies. But what if all you got is a long sword +1?
- Items that are unique according to their descriptions are made really unique, duplicates removed. (Example: Ring of Fire Resistance).
- Bonus merchants are removed. Yes, it means no Robe of Vecna.
- Non-unique magical items are toned down (Where you would previously find a long sword +3, you'll find a +2. A previous +2 turns into +1, etc).
Compatible with Item Randomiser.
Intended to tie up many loose ends, Unfinished Business fixes numerous broken quests, restores quests that no longer exists and in general is much more of a content-adding patch than anything. UB is not everyone's cup of tea, but it's worth trying. Check out the official site: http://www.pocketplane.net/ub
This mod greatly improves the thief and bard kits by bringing them closer to their PnP counterparts. Overall it makes them more powerful but also gives each kit a more unique playing style. It can also, optionally, add more equipment for rogues and add a difficult encounter with Cyric's Chosen in BG2. Link: http://www.shsforums.net/files/category/62-rogue-rebalancing/
The successor to BG1 tweaks, BG2 tweaks, IWD tweaks, etc. It provides a sheer number of possible changes. You will probably not want to install them all, but most surely everyone will find at least something useful. Releases are available on github.
Tweaks and Tricks
Familiars in Baldur's Gate are a painful subject, even more so for a hardcore gamer. The reasons for that are:
- On death, they drain 1 Constitution point permanently. And they are likely to die at some point.
- They were first introduced in BG2, and for that reason they are overpowered in BG1 (if you play BGT/TuTu)
- When you actually get to BG2, they become pretty useless, since they don't get upgrades.
All that leads to the familiar being a "12 HP item", which is just occupying space in your backpack throughout the trilogy. If that's not your style, there are some mods you can use to alter that:
WTPfamiliars is a mod by Salk, featuring the following changes:
- Level progression
- No (permanent) Con drain on death
- They will refuse to sit in backpack all the time
- You can choose the familiar from a limited selection (3-4 creatures)
Tweaks and Tricks
TnT allows to:
- Give orders to familiars:
- follow you
- loot dead bodies for you (very useful in Classic edition, less so in EE, since EE has specific quickloot interface)
- jump into backpack when injured
- jump into backpack when there are enemies about
- Protect familiars from critical hits, making them less likely to die (it does not, however, remove permanent Con drain on death)
- Speed up the familiars (so they don't lag behind the party wearing Boots of Speed)
PickyFams allows you to choose any familiar from the usual selection, instead getting the one pre-defined by your alignment.
Inventory management is a pain in many games, including Baldur's Gate. It's both senseless (20 gems take up the same space as 20 longswords) and useless in terms of gameplay (all it achieves is taking more time for the same result). If you feel that way, you might like the following modifications:
Tweaks Anthology has components to:
- Add more bags of holding to BG (both 1 and 2)
- Make bags bottomless
- Make bags unique - color each bag and name them accordingly, to make it easy to distinguish them in inventory
Tweaks and Tricks
If you don't feel like looking for bags across the Sword Coast, TnT will provide you with a (bottomless) bag of each type right at the start of the game, be it BG1 or BG2.
In certain cases, carrying items in bags may cause severe lag in the game. If that happens to you, consider the excellent Pack Mule mod.
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