Creating the Perfect Party in Shadows of Amn
Perfect Party #6

I chose a multiplayer game, and allowed myself two PCs of my own and then used the NPCs provided. I did NOT allow myself to dual-class.

It was absolutely imperative to have at least:

Three fighters - for basic tank duties
Two mages - to deal out combination magical defense and offense
Two clerics - to heal quickly, anti-magic and fry undead
One thief - to pick locks mainly. You can use Find Traps and Knock if he or she is out of action temporarily, and most people worth backstabbing have True Seeing anyway.

My party had to be good at fighting vampires, spellcasters and dragons.

Here's how I dealt with it.

1: Three fighters

Bjorn is my Neutral Good protagonist. He is a dwarven fighter-cleric who'd seen Sarevok off in BG1. He's brought his mate Tim L'Aimable with him to Amn. He likes flails. And he wears big armour and the Fortress Shield, making him very, very difficult to knock down. Of course, then he just casts Heal...

Tim is an Undead Hunter who dual-wields longswords. Daystar and Peridan were the usual combination. In a party where Jan was the only thief, he took Katana too for a Daystar/Celestial Fury combo. Vamps? Say bye- bye. And because he was a paladin in BG1, he keeps his Lay Hands ability in addition to his minor clerical spells. A useful bug, that. In his backpack is Balduran's Shield, for confusing beholders.

If you were playing on Single Player, then Minsc or, better, Valygar would replace Tim. A backstabbing ranger? Dual-wielding katanas? Look no further. Valygar rocks. The Stalker's armour restriction is irrelevant with his 18 DEX, the Corthala Armour or the Shadow Dragon Scale... Give him a Girdle of Giant Strength, and pair Celestial Fury with the Corthala Blade, for some interesting gibbing... Then, when he gets to 13th level or so, he can cast Haste on himself, dive in, stab some luckless fool, run away very fast and do it again. And again... And Find Traps while he's at it. The only thing he can't do is disarm the traps he finds. Who needs single-class thieves?

Sir Keldorn, well, speaks for himself. Not only can he wield Carsomyr but his anti-magic abilities are precious. Dragons casting Stoneskin? Liches casting Spell Trap? Dinna fash yerself... His physical stats are a tad low, so he'll need a Girdle of Giant Strength and Gauntlets of Dexterity, as well as Balduran's Plate. Make sure he gets Axe proficiency so he can use Azuredge from a distance. And he makes a nice (if somewhat self-righteous) party leader. Be nice to his family.

2: Two mages

Don't think you can get away against Firkraag, Kangaxx or any of the other high-level enemies without plenty of magic and counter-magic ability. When encountering parties, a combined Web or Stinking Cloud from one mage and Cloudkill or Death Fog from the other usually negates enemy spellcasting and allows you to longbow, Fireball and sling the poor schmoes into submission. That very dangerous party (think sewers, Seven Vales, Ust Nasty) is much less dangerous when there's only one of them able to move... Silence, Miscast Magic, Insect Plague, Confusion and Hold Person from your clerics are also pretty useful.

Good and Neutral mages you can choose from are Nalia, Aerie, Imoen and Jan.

Nalia is a very handy addition. Her high DEX and past history as a thief mean she has good HP and can use short bows. The Tuigan Bow is a life-saver in the early part of the game. And because she's a single- classed Mage, she gains levels quickly. Give her the Staff of the Magi and she's away.

Jan's just *weird*. But great fun. AND he has a sideline in thievery, plus some interesting little skill-boosting gadgets. This means that his initial low HP get a leg-up from a lot of quick thief level-ups, he can disarm and detect all your traps, and his Specialist Mage status as an Illusionist means lots of spells. Add in a Light Crossbow of Speed firing Bruiser Mates, and... the only thing that needs work is his dodgy stealth. But that can be improved. Sadly, nothing can be done about the turnip fetish.

Unfortunately, Imoen doesn't make it into my party, despite being my sister and a BG1 companion and all. I'd rather take her back into Arnise Hold and keep her safe. By the time you get her back your other mages are much more powerful - especially if you do all the side quests before going to Spellhold.

Aerie's just too weedy. Lots of spells, sure, but low hit points mean the poor love gets fried every time an Abi-Dalzim's goes off in her general direction. And she gains levels too slowly. I'm afraid she's best off in the circus - she needs looking after.

So, Nalia and Jan it is. Give them Robes of the Arch-Magi or, for Nalia, Elven Chain, magical short-swords, and bows. The Ring of Wizardry should be given to Nalia; she can make best use of it most quickly.

My sweetest Firkraag moment was when Nalia's Breach and Jan's Lower Resistance went off on Big Red simultaneously, leaving him ripe for a Feeblemind/Magic Missile whammy next round. The poor yutz just sat there while we skinned him... Worked on Nizidramanii'yt, too...

3: Two clerics

Luckily, Bjorn takes care of one of them. The other can be either the tiresome Anomen, the weedy and whiny little Aerie (already rejected) or the uncomfortably restrictive Jaheira. Jaheira and Anomen both offer useful backup fighting ability. Of the two, I'd pick Anomen, if only because the number of undead in SoA is so high and wilderness adventuring is relatively unimportant. When Jaheira was in the party, she changed shape precisely... twice. And she didn't help against undead at all, even though her line in summoned elementals was nice.

But Anomen's False Dawns and Sunrays helped me more than once. He's a decent peltast (ooer - look it up) and when given the Mace of Disruption+2, can also come and kick vamps quite effectively. One or two pit fiend summonings also worked nicely...

4: One thief

Neither of the thief-mages can cut it. Yoshimo's thief skills are inadequate, plus he's a traitor. Which leaves Jan. Luckily, he's already in the party...

There you have it.

Bjorn (dwarf Fighter-Cleric), Tim (Undead Hunter) or Valygar (Stalker), Keldorn (Inquisitor), Anomen (Fighter d/Cleric), Jan (Illusionist/Thief), Nalia (Thief d/Mage). Three and a half fighters, two clerics, two mages and one thief.

5: Baldur's Gate Party in Amn

A BG1 party I took to Amn was as follows:
Dwarf Fighter/Cleric; (they just rock)
Human Ranger/dual Cleric (who needs Mass Cure spells when you can summon three nymphs instead at a lower level?)
Elven Fighter/Thief; (much gibbing from 18/94 strength, mastery of Celestial Fury and, erm, a 4x backstab multiplier...)
Human Swashbuckler/dual Mage (plenty of points in bow).

Then took people like Keldorn, Nalia and Jan along for the ride too.

Submitted by: Paul Smith