Baldur's Gate: Wild Mage Compendium

From PlayItHardcore

Wild Mages are the specialists in the unpredictable kind of magic. Every time a Wild Mage casts a spell, there's a 5% chance of a wild surge. The wild surge will result in a random effect from this table.

The effects of the wild surge range from beneficial to disastrous, with some useless inbetween. Because of that, a Wild Mage as protagonist is often seen proposed for a humorous, non-serious playthrough with lots of reloads, but always is discouraged for a hardcore one. The goal of this guide is to RIP and TEAR this HUGE misconception apart. Wild mages are absolutely playable on hardcore. Which isn't to say that they don't require extra care and effort - they do. But it's manageable, and in the end, rewarding.

This article assumes that the protagonist is a Wild Mage, starting from Candlekeep. It also assumes that you're familiar with basic survival tactics (tried a hardcore run) and wild magic (tried a Wild Mage). Of course, it would still be helpful if you choose to use Neera, or start from BG2, just omit the corresponding parts.

Dealing with surges

Instant death

In addition to generic instant death scenarios, which apply to any BG character, wild mages come up with several other, more creative ways to end their days. This is the main obstacle to a hardcore run.

The general solution to that is simple, if a bit dull: don't cast. Don't cast until you're reasonably sure that you can handle the failure. Which means having at least a certain amount of HP and certain items stocked. Until that time, use the WM as a dart and wand machine.

Obviously, if the situation requires magical intervention, do what you have to do. But the goal is not putting yourself into such situation.


Fireballing yourself is a classic. Several effects include that:

  • Fireball centered on caster
  • Explosion centered on caster
  • Fireball centered on target (when casting on self)

Sounds worse than it is, actually. Sufficiently high level characters will take it just fine. Fireball's (starting) damage is 6d6. Average damage is therefore 21. Saving for half, it's 10-11. Low level mages have some 40-50% chance to save against spell. Add Ring of Fire resistance, and that becomes 6.

The resulting rule of thumb here is that if you don't have over 22-24 HP without the ring, or over 12 HP with the ring, you're not allowed to cast.


  • Make sure to always have over 22-24 current HP when you cast. (For guaranteed survival, that will be 36HP).
  • Get yourself a Ring of Fire resistance ASAP.


Cow falls from the sky onto the target for 3d10+3 crushing damage. Ouch.

Solution: Same as Fireball.

Flesh to Stone

This is the most feared effect, generally. You buff yourself and suddenly turn into stone. But it allows a save, and fortunately, it's save vs spell, not petrification. Naturally, mages have best saves vs spell across all classes.

Some arithmetic first: let's assume that it takes 100 in-game days to complete BG1, and every day the PC casts 2 spells on himself. That will average 10 wild surges over the course of the game, which means there's a 10% chance for the flesh to stone effect to ever happen. Save vs spell is 12 for the few starting levels, so chance to die is 10%*12/20 = 6%. This is for a gearless mage. (This calculation isn't strict, since there are tricky effects like roll twice more, roll 4 times more, switch caster and target, etc. But it's a good estimation).

Obviously, the way to offset this is to improve saving throws as much as possible. So every item improving save vs spell goes to WM first. Not to your tank, not to other squishy party members. To the WM.

An (incomplete) list of items:

  • Ring/Cloak/Amulet of protection (first +1, then change to +2)
  • Robe of the Archmagi - +1 all saves
  • Cloak of Balduran - +1 all saves, +25% magic resistance
  • Cloak of Displacement - + 2 all saves
  • Claw of Kazgaroth - +3 all saves except death
This information applies only to Enhanced Edition BG games
Adoy's Belt apparenly was an effort to alleviate this effect, but Beamdog screwed up again and made it provide bonus to save vs petrify/polymorh, instead of spell. Oh, well.

This will get you another 6-8 points down, to save vs spell of 4-6, and chance to die of 1-2%. That looks very reasonable, especially if you take into account that some 90% of non wild magic playthroughs end up failing, anyway.

At level 6 mages get their first saving throw improvement (+2). Combined with the above gear, this effect is essentially nullified at that point.

In BG2, saves are already high, but you still need to bump save vs spell to 1 as soon as possible using gear.


  • Shoot for level 6 quickly
  • Gear up as described above


  • Maximize Constitution
  • Try not to cast unless you have at least 20-25 current HP
  • Try not to cast until level 4. Use wands as necessary. After level 4, gradually start engaging in spellcasting as your gear gets better.
  • Get the Ring of Fire resistance fast
  • Get the best gear for saving throws fast, the goal is a save vs spell of 1
  • Use the Claw of Kazgaroth, too
  • Get to level 6 fast

Combat issues

Caster held

  • Caster held for 70 seconds, no save
  • Caster affected by Hold Person for 1 turn, save vs. spell negates
  • Target is held for 70 seconds, no save (when casting on self)

Getting held in combat is unpleasant and dangerous, of course.


  • Position yourself carefully. Even more carefully than in a usual hardcore mage playthrough.
  • If you got hit by this in combat
    • protect the player character with party
    • and/or hide him (invisibility by another party member)
  • Once you get high enough level, make sure to use Contingency with Condition: Helpless (or Injured). Otiluke's Resilient Sphere or Improved Invisibility are good candidates to put inside.

Spell fluked

Instead of the required spell you got slow, haste, polymorph, silence, etc. Most of the surges fall into this category - they are either neutral, or slightly positive/negative. In rare cases, they can alter the course of the combat completely, but usually the most prominent effect is that you just don't get the needed spell off. Treat it as if you've be been interrupted.


  • Keep in mind the possibility of fluking. Try to not rely on a single spell working to survive.
  • Have at least one more arcane caster in party.
  • In a do or die situation, prefer wands.

Miscellaneous inconveniences

Gated a demon

  • Gates in a Nabassu to kill those not Protected from Evil

If you can - kill it. If not - run away and wait. It will get unsummoned after some time.

Gold vanished

  • 80% of party gold is destroyed
  • 80% of gold on the target is destroyed

This one will happen every now and then, get used to it. The solution is not to keep cash on yourself. Gold vanishes. Armor, weapons and jewelry don't.

  1. Sell cheap stuff that clutters the inventory. Keep the expensive stuff until you're ready to buy what you need.
  2. If there's not enough space, set up a stash somewhere. Any container will do, the ones close to a good shopkeeper are more convenient.

Sex changed

  • Caster's sex is reversed
  • Target's gender is reversed (when casting on self)

The first one is for 10 minutes, the second one is permanent. Take a night's sleep to see which one is it.

Possible solutions:

  1. Do nothing. Wait for it to happen again.
  2. Use Girdle of Masculinity/Femininity.

Q: But Anomen started to romance me, and he won't stop even after I changed back!

A: Take it like a man.

Color changed

  • Target's color changes permanently

This is a quite annoying surge, because bright yellow paperdoll color hurts the eyes. And you're bound to encounter it sooner or later. Fortunately, it's relatively easy to fix: keep casting Dispel Magic until it goes away. Alternatively, visit a temple and pay a cleric to do the same.

Using Wild Magic

Vanilla game only includes 3 wild magic spells: Nahal's Reckless Dweomer, Chaos Shield and Improved Chaos shield. That's not a very wide choice, especially taking into account that only the Dweomer actually does something.

But using Dweomer often, even with Chaos Shield up, will quickly get you killed on low levels, since most low number surges are bad.

It is recommended to keep one Dweomer remembered. But only as the very last resort, when there's literally nothing else to be attempted. Generally speaking, you shouldn't have to cast Dweomer in battle until you have Improved Chaos Shield, which is at level 14.

Because of that, throughout BG1 and a good part of BG2 the Wild Mage is generally inferior to other mages. The only thing going for him is that all spell schools are allowed, but in return he gets the constant surge danger.

Dweomering sequencers and contingencies

By the time of transitioning to BG2, however, the tables start to turn. The reason for that are sequencer and contingency spells. They never surge when being prepared (they still can surge when fired). Which means you get access to all sequencers and contingencies as soon as you learn them from scrolls.

Opinions vary on whether this should be considered a bug or a feature. Some people view it as an exploit. I personally think that it suits the Wild Mage agenda well to be able to control contingency spells better than other mages. Plus, it provides a more gradual rise to power (rather than going from generic mage in BG1/BG2 to flinging Dweomers in ToB). You're free to follow your preference.


A sequencer or contingency won't surge. But the next spell you cast will, 100%. This is a so-called postponed surge. You need to burn it with a dummy spell. Do not forget to do that.

Postponed surges are cumulative. If you dweomer minor sequencer, contingency, and then spell trigger, none of them will surge, but then the next 3 spells will surge.

  1. Best way to handle a postponed wild surge is to burn it with a level 1 spell in a safe area. Safe area means that it's small, has no bystanders, and you can leave it quickly (in case you call down fire rain or gate a demon, etc). Good examples include second floors of The Red Sheaf in Beregost or Den of Seven Vales in Athkatla (after it's been cleared, obviously). Cast the spell from afar, do not stand close to the destination point.
  2. Any spell will do, but obviously, you'll want to keep it low level. And it's preferable to use an area effect spell, to avoid "caster becomes target" effects. Good candidates are Sleep and Grease.
  3. Having spells memorized just for the sake of burning them might be annoying, so if you don't use Sleep/Grease much, a targeted spell like Spook or Magic Missile will do too, although it's a little more risky.
  4. Do not use cast-on-self spell like Armor or Shield to burn postponed surges. That's just asking for trouble.

Q: How do I use a targeted spell when there's no one in the area?

A: Cast it on a container.

Q: What if there's no container?

A: Drop an item on the floor, and cast the spell on the item.

Note 2:

It's not known whether postponed surges are affected by Chaos Shield spells. Someone willing to do the research - post here.

In battle

Fact 1: Without cheesing stacking Chaos shields, the chance to launch a spell succesfully from NRD doesn't get much better than 50/50 (25% bonus from ICS and level bonus of 20-30 in ToB).

Fact 2: However, NRD has casting time of 0, and, more importantly, it can be used to cast spells without usual pauses, as if under Improved Alacrity. The usual deal with Robe of Vecna applies.

Conclusion: it's best to use NRD arsenal when the situation is (going to be) tough, but not life threatening yet. For example, opening with a high level spell onto another party of adventurers. Aside from that, keep one NRD as a last resort option, when all else has already failed, and you can't run.

Wish resting

All mages can Wish-rest, but Wild Mages can do that with Limited Wish. One of its effects is restoring spells on levels through 1-4. Casting it with NRD therefore results in net positive spell memorization gain. While less powerful than Unlimited Wish, this technique is available right out of Chateau Irenicus, as a scroll can be bought in Adventurer's Mart.

Given the fluky nature of both NRD and Limited Wish, this will work maybe half of the time or even less, and isn't self-sustainable like real Wish resting. It's better to view it as a convenience bonus for WM: if your spells for the day are exhausted, but you still got some NRDs left over - try a Limited Wish, and sometimes you'll get lucky. (And it also restores spells for other party members.)

Requires Wisdom 16+, so counting the three tomes, you'll want to start with at least 13. Of course, 15 upgraded to 18 is still better, to chain NRD + (Unlimited) Wish rest and leave all those level 9 slots free for other spells.


Buffing, or pre-casting, has several simple rules:

  • Don't buff until you're level 4. (Well, you can allow for a single Armor per day; the risk is justified)
  • When buffing, make sure that there's no one around the wild mage in a fireball-like area (or better yet, in sight). Can allow party members if you're too lazy to move them, but no commoners, etc. They don't take kindly to fireballs.
  • If you use NRD sequencers, don't forget to burn postponed surges as described above.
  • If you make use of AI scripts that allow for auto-buffing (provided by the Enhanced Editions and some mods like SCS), then you will need to make sure these scripts don't apply to your Wild Mage:
    • Either assign PC a script that doesn't do buffing,
    • Or learn to disable AI every time before resting.


Like in any hardcore playthrough, familiars are generally HP-boosting items, which are never allowed on the field (unless you use some mods). But if you do feel crazy risky and want to allow the familiar outside the backpack at some times, at least choose a fire resistant one: imp, rabbit, mephit, quasit. Which means the wild mage should be of LE, TN, NE or CE alignment.

Relevant mods

There are several mods that are related to wild mages specifically, and this walkthrough in general.

Wild Mage Additions

The most obvious one is Wild Mage Additions by JOG. It contains many new wild spells and a distinct wild mage kit. Spells are a bit overpowered, but fun. It's worth trying if you're fond of wild mages. Most spell effects are more or less random, but there's nothing preventing a hardcore playthrough with it. Choose your spells wisely.


Other mods

Check out recommended mods page:

  • Inventory management
  • Familiars
  • Tweaks Anthology contains a component that will allow to equip multiple items of protection simultaneously, thus providing a way to achieve good enough saving throws faster. (Before dismissing this as cheating, consider that in AD&D 2.5 it's actually allowed, and saving throw bonuses do stack. It's AC bonuses that don't, but Bioware didn't bother to implement that)

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