Character Creation
General Character Tips

Single Class Characters


1. Unless you go for dual classing or just want to access cool new classes like Sorceror, when you get to ToB a party with only a single PC, and the rest NPCs, is actually nearly as good as a party made entirely of PCs. Unless you want dual classing or new classes, you might as well take NPCs for the interactions rather than trying to "powergame". Why?

- The difference between PCs, and NPCs of equivalent class, is muted. This is because the big power difference between a PC and a similar NPC was always that you could roll better ability scores for a PC. Charisma was always irrelevant except for the main character, Intelligence and Wisdom only mattered for mages and clerics respectively (and the NPCs that need those scores already had decent ones). The big difference was always combat abilities. It wasn't hard to roll up a PC with 18 or 18/xx strength, 18 dexterity, and 18 constitution. But by ToB that stuff doesn't matter. Strength doesn't matter because there are enough strength boosting items by that point to magically give most of your party an 18/00 strength or better. Dexterity doesn't matter for either missile THAC0 or armor class because your THAC0 is so low that you can hit all the baddies just fine, and their THAC0 is so low that they can hit you just fine too. As for hit points, the constitution bonus has no effect after level 9 so when you are level 30 and have buttloads of protective magics anyway, it seems less of a big deal. (I'm not kidding about the THAC0 - you will quickly have about -10 to -15, which allows you to virtually always hit any enemy AC you will find. And the tough enemies all seem to have THAC0s in the -5 to -15 range, which means that depending on the enemy your AC has to go below between -5 or -15 before you even start to gain ANY protection from their attacks. The game has to "cap" the THAC0 gained purely from levelling up at 0, just to make AC have any potential usefulness whatsoever).

- You have access to all the BG2 NPCs by this point, plus Sarevok, and it seems that in ToB the potential for NPCs to fight each other or leave the party has been greatly reduced if not eliminated. Sarevok for example is a highly capable fighter, easily making up for any shortage of fighters you had in SoA, plus he will "behave" and won't leave the party even if you are lawful good with a high reputation. So unlike a situation where you are trying to make a party from whatever NPCs you have seen so far in Chapter 2 of SoA, you have a lot of selection and can summon anyone you don't have.

(Special Classes)

2. The Wild Mage is _fun_, but the Wild Mage is not for "power- gamers". Sorcerors are also fun, and they work great for power- gaming too. The Wild Mage's random effects are cool but on average their spells are not more powerful than those of most mages. They are a specialist without an "opposition school" but Conjurors and Illusionists lose access to relatively few spells anyway. At very high level they can have a good chance of a "free spell" using Nahal's Reckless Dweomer, but consider that the Sorceror can choose his spells at casting time at ANY level, and also has as many as, if not more, spells than a specialist mage. If you know what you are doing in spell selection, a Sorceror is considerably more useful than a single-classed mage. ESPECIALLY in ToB, where you will find that a lot of "boss" enemies are best affected by specific spell combos that you wouldn't want to have memorized all the time, and so on. Sorcerors mean less of the "reload, choose new spells to fight the boss that just kicked my ass, rest, attack, repeat" cycle.

3. Monks and Barbarians are still cool, but at very high levels they are not so different from single classed fighters. Monks have been "handicapped" by their per-level bonuses slowing down dramatically after 20th level (or, in the case of magic resistance, maxing out). My high level monk had 4 attacks per round, about a - 11 armor class and a -10 or lower THAC0, and used gauntlets of crushing to do 1d20+4 damage in hand to hand attacks. However, compare this to a high level fighter. The fighter uses more magical items (e.g magical plate, perhaps two weapons) to get his capabilities, but there are buttloads of such items in ToB anyway. The fighter can easily match the monk in everything but magic resistance and number of attacks. Number of attacks will come pretty close if he dual-wields, but the real killers are that fighters can be hasted or Improved Hasted while monks cannot be, and Greater Whirlwind renders your number of attacks irrelevant. So in those really tough boss battles where it really counts, the fighter will end up with at least as many if not MORE attacks than the monk. And he will do more damage on each of those attacks because he can have one or more weapons with huge damage or other bonuses, rather than a "plain vanilla" 1d20+4. He can use one of the uber-powerful +6 weapons, or use a powerful +5 weapon in his main hand and equip a weapon in his other hand that gives some sort of bonus (the most extreme example being Crom Faeyr and its 25 strength). The magic resistance is cool, but it is not tremendous. My monk still seemed to die about as much as my other fighters, probably because the great majority of damage comes from hand to hand, not spells. Most non-damage spells allow a saving throw, and 30th level characters tend to make theirs most of the time anyway! Barbarians remain slightly more powerful than fighters. The main advantage is some resistance to physical damage. The better Rage is cool, but it was always best for its resistances, and you have plenty of magic to do that job for longer in ToB anyway (e.g. Chaotic Commands).


4. Fighters are more important than ever. For their special abilities, load up on Greater Whirlwind, plus some Critical Strikes to use when they are hasted. This deals loads of hand-to-hand damage... and the really tough baddies in ToB are usually heavily resistant to and protected from magic, elemental damage, and so on. Several fighters blasting away with their special attacks at point blank range will do damage much more quickly than magic, possibly with the assistance of a timely Breach spell. You don't use these capabilities in every fight but you don't need to, where they are great is with the bosses. Even on Insane, three or four fighters with their special attacks will kill basically anything in a few rounds, possibly with the assistance of a few resistance-lowering spells. Spellcasters, on the other hand, have a harder time of it for four reasons (unless you use certain items/tactics mentioned below). First, it seems everything and its dog is at least 75% resistant to magic, fire, etc. You can take care of that with a bunch of Lower Resistance spells, but they are generally not 75% resistant to physical attacks in the first place. Second, everyone and their cat is a high level mage with lots of contingencies. This means you often have to spend a round or two stripping away protections before you can do much magical damage to the tougher enemies at all. Third, you and the enemies (especially the enemies) level up dramatically, but summoned creatures do not. Yes, Improved Hasted Planetars or Devas rock, but the game is "balanced" so you can only have one of them at a time which means they are a nice assist not a main way of dealing damage. Yes, Elemental Princes are cool, but you need an otherwise-not-so- powerful Druid to get them reliably. Fourth, it is just plain EASIER and more relaible to activate a special attack ability and go beat on someone than to cast the perfect combination of 7 spells in a row that you need to put the perfect ass whupping on some heavily defended enemy. (Especially if they are immune to Time Stop - you have been warned).

5. Inquisitors RULE. Multiple quick-casting dispels at an effective level far higher than that of enemy casters, plus more dispels on each of the many, many hits you will get with Carsomyr, are much more important when enemies, especially the many tough bosses, have heavy magical defenses. The True Sight is nice too since there are so many spellcasters that like Project Image, etc.


6. Single class thieves suck, or they utterly rock if you like using high level traps. Thieving skills are virtually useless in ToB. The 7th level thief abilities of Imoen were quite sufficient to detect and disarm traps, and even usually to pick locks, though all of my game of ToB. For single-classed thieves, Use Any Item and Assassinate are just partial catchup to warriors. Partial. If you take a Swashbuckler, the THAC0 and AC bonuses do continue for a fair bit of time, though. The THAC0 ceases to matter at high level, but the AC bonuses actually can take you beyond the -10 AC or so range that Fighters usually reach, into the real where your AC actually begins to stop hits from the tougher enemies. So Swashbucklers can actually end up noticeably harder to hit than Fighters.

(Thief Munchkin Tactic)

The super-traps, on the other hand, are the most munchkiny things in the entire game. Many of the toughest bosses in the game can be EASILY killed simply by placing a sufficient number of spike traps next to them, or where you know they will appear, before they go hostile/show up. You have been warned.


Bards are, well, sort of OK. The biggie is the Blade. Basically, with Defensive Spin and certain items, you could get your Blade down to -30 AC, the lowest the game engine allows. This makes him nearly invulnerable to physical attack, even from the tough bosses that virtually never miss fighters. However, the problem with this (and with the rest of the bards) is that in ToB, you don't win fights by being invulnerable because you can't make most of your party invulnerable most of the time. You win fights by dealing cruel and brutal damage. The Blade's offensive spin is actually decent at this, the other bards sort of suck for normal damage dealing. It is the special abilities which prevent them from being as useless as fur on a frog. Enhanced bard song actually doesn't suck, mainly because it has a +4 damage and +4 AC bonus, and a +10 AC bonus to the bard himself (meaning he isn't complete toast due to sitting there singing). Bards can also Use Any Item (but they benefit less than thieves - as long as they want to cast spells, they still can't wear heavy armor). Bards also have the trap special abilities, which means that they have just as much munchkin potential as thieves do with the likes of Spike Traps (in fact, in ToB, I would say that thieves themselves are basically inferior in almost all respects to Bards, by a significant margin; because their only saving grace is the munchkin potential of traps, and the bards have that too plus song and spells).


7. Clerics are nice for healing/buffing but little else, except backup fighters. I had Viconia and Anomen in my party, and found that most of the time I was using them as second-rate fighters. Healing and resurrection are nice, but at high levels one cleric has so many spells that you don't need to dedicate two to the job. My mages always ended up having more of the useful buffing-out spells than the clerics. As for healing in combat itself, fights are faster and more furious, hit points and damage levels are higher, and potions of healing are MUCH improved. This means that combat healing spells really boil down to "Heal", which takes a damn long time to cast (I found that at least half the time it was interrupted or too late), and potions of healing have been so much improved that when crunch time really hits, you want to use one of them instead of calling in a cleric anyway. Clerics have some damage spells, but they lack the ability to strip magical protections, to speed up their casting, to protect themselves from damage while doing the casting, etc., so in practice their damage spells are not too useful. As with mages, they suffer from the problem that summoned creatures haven't buffed up as much as the enemies have (and they can't even summon the Planetar anyway, they have to be content with the lesser Deva). Druids can summon Elemental Princes, which are cool, but the ability isn't enough for real catchup.


8. Single class mages are excellent for buffing, poor for damage under normal circumstances, although munchkiny powerful for damage under certain special circumstances. As described above, there are so many magic resistant, immune, or protected enemies that even when offensive spells are useful, they are a severe pain because you need to memorize and cast the right combination of half a dozen or more spells (example: Spellstrike, Lower Resistance, Lower Resistance, Lower Resistance, Breach, THEN damage spells). Chain Contingencies, Spell Triggers, etc. can make them more powerful, but they are a pain to cast again each time you use them up. Mages in "everyday use" can be powerful if used well, but it is more and more of a headache as you get to higher levels. You'll find yourself using mages mainly to cast defensive "buffing" spells to make the fighters tougher and more powerful (Improved Haste, Mass Invisibility, resistances/protections, and so on). Now, mages can become more powerful if you use certain tactics. The most obvious is use of Time Stop plus the new level 10 spell Improved Alacrity. This allows you two free rounds (EXCEPT with some of the harder bosses, who are IMMUNE to Time Stop), in which you can cast a greatly increased number of spells, especially if their casting time is low.

(Mage Munchkin Tactic 1)

If you had the Bonus Merchants in BG2 and got the Robe of Vecna, you possess what should be called in ToB the Robe of Munchkin Madness. Improved Alacrity basically allows you to cast multiple spells per round, with the limitation that a spell with a casting time of x takes x/10 rounds to cast (e.g. a spell with a casting time of 3 could be cast three times in a round, and still leave 1/10 of the round left). But with the Robe of Vecna (and perhaps an Amulet of Power too), your casting time is dramatically reduced. For a lot of spells it is reduced to 0. Previously this just meant that you could cast a spell with no delay as soon as you first clicked "cast", but then you would still have to wait next round to try again. But with Improved Alacrity, you can keep casting the spell over and over, instantly, with virtually no delay, between castings. Now, some spells don't have a casting time of zero, so you couldn't, say, fire up Improved Alacrity and then cast every single spell you know instantly. Well, enter Time Stop - you now have two full rounds to cast perhaps a dozen of those spells whose casting times haven't quite been reduced to zero. With many fights, you can literally cast a Time Stop, have it happen almost immediately, then cast an Improved Alarcity, then cast virtually every spell you know. When you come out of Time Stop and every one of those spells hits, the fight is either over or damn close. There are a few bosses that this tactic does not work well on, but for the vast majority of the fights in the game you can win easily just by pulling this move.

(Mage Munchkin Tactic 2)

Another munchkin tactic is basically never using up your spells. Which mixes well with the trick above because you can pull it over and over again. The easiest and least effective way to do this is with Simalcrum. Create a Simalcrum and it will have lots of your spells although not the best selection, it can cast them while your main mage hides, or does something else. A more useful fact is that the simalcrum temporarily duplicates your ITEMS as well, so if you have one-use-per-day items, limited charged items, or whatever, you can use them like they were a dime a dozen because hey, you've still got the real one and a re-use is only as far away as your next Simalcrum spell.

(Mage Munchkin Tactic 3)

A harder but far more effective thing to do is Project Image. Keep your mage away from the battle, cast Project Image, and have the image let rip with spells. As long as it doesn't get dispelled (and it generally doesn't except in certain points during boss fights), it can cast all of the mage's spells, but the mage will not lose any of them. So as long as you don't run out of Project Images (and as a level 7 spell, a high level mage can memorize loads of them), the mage can cast whatever spells he wants in one fell swoop, but still be able to cast them again for the next fight. Even if you're worried about this getting dispelled or have a fighter-mage and want him to be able to attack hand to hand as well, you can at least use Project Image before a fight to cast all your buffs without really using them up, use the Projected Image to cast Simalcrum or Summon Planetar, etc. Since the image's spells are "expendable" you can also have him keep himself alive by casting physical and magical defense spells like they were water, because you will still have them next fight anyway.

(Mage Munchkin Tactic 4)

Then, there is in some ways the best tactic of all, but also the hardest. Basically you need about an 18 Wisdom. If your mage character has this naturally, you are set, although none of the NPCs do. Otherwise, you need Potions of Insight, which are in unlimited supply (unless you create a Simalcrum, thus duplicating the potion too, thus allowing the Simalcrum to use this tactic without cost...). Anyway, you cast a Wish spell. Wishes are usually not that great, because the effects are fairly random so even if a good one shows up it may not be what you happen to need at that time. However, if you have an 18 wisdom (or maybe a bit less, I haven't checked), one option that is guaranteed to show up whenever you cast a wish is to instantly rest your party and regain all your spells. Including wish. So basically you have a free instant rest wherever you are. No need to worry about monsters, no need to worry about "you can't rest here", no need to retreat to the pocket plane. Now, I have not personally checked to see if this will work in combat, although it might very well. But basically, IF you can get a high Wisdom, Wish is a very powerful and useful spell. And certain areas in the game *cough*finalbattle*cough* are designed to be hard because it's hard to rest, this totally nullifies that.

Multi-Class Characters

Multiclass characters are sort of OK in BG2. On the one hand, high level AD&D rules normally screw over multiclass characters, because experience goes linear. It is generally better to be level 40 in one class than level 20 in two classes. Especially if one of those classes is a fighter, because the THAC0 bonuses from being a level 20 fighter are not better than those from being a level 40 thief or cleric. However, in BG2 there are some "gotchas" to this. First, THAC0 is capped - fighters, especially, stop improving after level 20. Spell advancement is slowed compared to the normal AD&D rules as well. Actually, what is remarkable about ToB is how, except for certain munchkin tactics and uncomfortably munchkin-like special abilities, your characters DON'T get all that much more innately powerful as the game progresses, they just collect more magic stuff and more Greater Whirlwinds. Since Grandmastery is not very useful (and with it "gone" so is a big reason to build up lots of fighter proficiencies), having 150% in every thief skill is useless, Monk abilities stop levelling up so fast, spell increases drop, etc., etc., the disadvantages of multiclass are muted. Then they are muted even further by the UNDOCUMENTED, not mentioned in the manual, fact that multiclass characters start gaining special abilities at _much lower levels_ than single-class characters. Basically, all characters start to gain special abilities at roughly 3 million total experience points. So when multiclass characters are at about 1.5 million experience points per class (more like level 14-15 than level 20), they start gaining special abilities in both classes. And every time they make a special ability pick, they can pick from the abilities for both classes - for example, Jaheira can take a Greater Whirlwind when she goes up a fighter level, then another Greater Whirlwind when she goes up a Druid level. So multiclass characters actually have somewhat superior special ability gains. All in all, multiclass characters are quite viable in BG2. However, they do not have the sheer power or munchkin potential of the dual class characters.

Dual-Class Characters

Dual-class characters are basically the realm of the PC, except for giving Nalia and Imoen some basic thieving abilities and giving Anomen a bit more skill with weapons. Dual-classed characters are where you get the EXTREME munchkin potential. A properly "munchkinized" dual-class character will beat the living crap out of any two or three single-class characters (unless they themselves managed to strike first with some of the munchkin tactics listed above).

The most basic tactic is to dual class anyone from a fighter to something else, especially a spellcaster. This works quite wll because they can get higher strength, specialize in any weapon, and get more hitpoints and access to armor and such, then you turn them into a spellcaster. In low-level games, the disadvantage is that as you leave the fighter levels further and further behind, your THAC0 suffers. But in BG2, your "natural" THAC0 (not counting strength, weapon, and specialization bonuses) stops advancing at 0, corresponding to fighter level 20. So after level 20, the THAC0 of all other classes actually starts to _catch up_ to that of the fighter rather than being left further and further behind. And when you have 5 million experience points, having spent the first million on another class actually doesn't make much of a difference to how powerful you are in the "main" class. When you factor in how BG2 restricts the advancement of higher-level characters from the AD&D norm, dual class isn't just low-cost, it is practically no- cost (and huge gain).

Basically, now I am just going to highlight some of the more powerful dual class combo abilities...

1. Fighter-Mage

The fighter mage is powerful not just because they can do everything a mage can in terms of combat spells, but because of the special mage buffs they can use on themselves. A lot of mage buff spells are "balanced" for use on mages, giving them somewhat better ability to survive in melee combat. But fighters can already do that, so they become extremely powerful. The classic is Tenser's Transformation - when you already have fighter abilities, low AC, and lots of hitpoints, it is a huge benefit to double your hit points, get a -4 AC, and get your THAC0 boosted right back up to where it would be if you had never stopped being a fighter. Then there is the ability to make Simalcrums of yourself which can actually fight nearly as well as you can (not much of a bonus for a mage, but a big bonus for a warrior when you consider simulcrums have such diminished spell repertoires that their casting is quite impaired). Then there are all those spells which give you immunity to some or other kind of weapon for 4 rounds - buys a mage some time to escape or cast spells, buys a warrior 4 rounds of point- blank ass whuppin. And let's not forget contingencies (which in practice are more useful the more you are likely to take lots of damage in combat), anti-magic protections (for PCs, far more useful if you are going to be staring the enemy in the whites of his eyes rather than in the back row casting spells), and so on. Kensai-Mages in particular are a favorite, but by level 30 or so any kind of fighter-mage is looking just fine.

2. Kensai-Thief

This combo in particular is ridiculous. The Thief class provides one major benefit - the Use Any Item special ability. This means your Kensai can wear any armor (in addition to his +4 AC bonus), which again moves you from the realm of AC being next to useless, to AC providing real protection against tough enemies and bosses. You can also wield "forbidden" weapons such as Carsomyr if you don't have an Inquisitor or whatever - and unlike a pure thief, the Kensai-Thief can actually have the specialization in two-handed swords to make that a useful thing to do. Assassinate is also more useful when you have a fighter's strength and attack power, although against bosses it is of little use anyway since most are immune to backstab (and critical hits - which is why Critical Strike may not be a good idea in boss fights unless you are missing). Basically, you have a warrior with the ability to use any item in the game, and with thief munchkin abilities like traps. For at least one of the characters in your party, this more than makes up for the absence of greater whirlwinds, etc. (And if you want a PC-only supermunchkin party, the Kensai-Thief will be all the thieving ability you need). The reason for the Kensai specifically, rather than another fighter, is that the Kensai has very nice bonuses, and all the offsetting disadvantages disappear when you can use any item. Or you could take a Wizard-Slayer, dual them to a Thief, and cancel their disadvantages with the ability to Use Any Item.

3. Fighter-Cleric

This class is actually not all that munchkin, but properly done it is much better than a normal cleric. ("Properly done" means put three stars in Dual Wield and specialize in some blunt weapons before you become a Cleric, and by all means pick a nice useful kit like Berserker - it's not as if you'll be using those bows as a Cleric anyway). And you do need clerics simply for healing abilities. You could also try a Ranger-Cleric... I know that in other Infinity Engine games they end up getting access to both Cleric and Druid spells, but I haven't confirmed that for ToB, and the only terribly useful thing about Druids is the elemental prince summoning Quest spell, which you wouldn't get from being a Ranger-Cleric. Since you need a cleric (not just for healing, they have some vital buffs like Chaotic Commands), you might as well have a Berserker-Cleric. Oh and PS, every time you start combat, don't forget to use the second level spell Draw Upon Holy Might to give yourself 24 Strength, 24 Dexterity, and 24 Constitution. (1 point per 3 levels, maxing at level 20, equals a 6 point bonus per stat... and if you are a proper munchkin, you rolled until you got 18s to start with in all the combat stats). And if you are really getting beaten on in combat, cast Sanctuary to give yourself enough time to heal and re- buff!

THERE ARE MORE powerful multi-class combinations. These are just the prime examples. A lot of the other multiclass combinations you will see on web sites are actually geared for solo play, trying to create a powerful jack-of-all-trades character. If you are making a party, do not do this! In particular, you only need one thief (even if you love traps, one thief is good enough for most of the times you will use them), you only need one or two clerics, and so on. Your main line of characters should be specialized to open a serious can of whup-ass on the enemy in their own special way, not to be jacks of all trades. You might not want to solo an Inquisitor, but they are great to have as the pure fighter, "will have a whole bushel of Greater Whirlwinds by the end of the game" type who in addition has excellent and useful anti-mage capabilities. Fighter-Mages should probably be the biggest single core of your party.

If I was to create a powerful party for ToB, it might go something like this (note that for best results, dual classes should switch at level 12 or later; you could, tolerably, switch around level 18+ after starting new characters in ToB, but be warned that it will take quite a while to reactivate those classes, and you should definitely head to Watcher's Keep first as it is the easiest place to get lots of exp, aside from being the biggest part of the expansion by far). keep in mind this is just one example.

Paladin (Inquisitor)
Fighter (Kensai) dualed to Thief
Fighter (Kensai) dualed to Mage
Fighter (Kensai) dualed to Mage
Fighter (Berserker) dualed to Cleric
Bard (Blade)

In this party, the Blade has some backup magic and self-buffing ability (Tenser's), being decent in a fight, but would probably spend most of his time singing. The blade can be annoying to use properly. For a simpler party, replace the Blade with a Barbarian or a Monk, giving extra Greater Whirlwinds. (Can't have too many fighter-mages because you run out of spells and magic use related items to give them). You could also try some dual classing in unconventional directions. The prime exampe would be a Cleric dual classed to a Fighter. They lose out on some hit points and strength (which is irrelevant, magically boost it), but since their second class is Fighter they get access to Greater Whirlwinds. And they have both some nice clerical buffs such as Draw Upon Holy Might, and the ability to heal, raise the dead, etc. as a secondary cleric. This one should definitely dual-class at a high level such as 18, to ensure that they already have a great selection of clerical spells. You might even wait for them to get their first clerical special ability such as Elemental Summoning or Globe of Blades, if you really like any of those.

For the power party, you definitely don't want more than one thief. Or more than two clerics (in fact you don't even need two "full- class" clerics), since clerics reach a point of diminishing returns. Dual classed mage types are powerful, but if you have too many spell casters you will not have enough spells and items to go around. Two full mages would be the maximum IMO, then you could add another "half mage" in the form of a Bard if you wanted to. Fighting ability is still the old standby, and you want to have one or two pure fighters. Fighter-Mages are very effective but as I said you can only really have so many, and Greater Whirlwind is nice too.

Submitted By: Anonymous