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Strategy Guide by Riverwind

Version: 2.5 | Updated: 03/11/2003

Baldur's Gate 2:  Shadows of Amn + Throne of Bhaal (PC)
By:  Andrew Shih (Riverwind)
3/11/03, Version 2.5


With the arrival of the new millennium and the 3-D 3rd Ed. Neverwinter Nights,
one might think that the 2-D 2nd Ed. Baldur's Gate 2 has become outdated.  On
the contrary, BG 2 has become a classic and is still in my opinion the best
CRPG ever.  This guide is not written for total newbies who haven't read the
manual and for whom everything would be a spoiler, nor is it written for
accomplished veterans who don't need a guide and are very set in their ways. 
It is written for everyone in between, who have finished the game at least once
or twice but want to replay it without reloading a hundred times.  There will
be minor spoilers throughout as to availability of weapons and frequency of
monsters, but none that give away major plot surprises.  In short, this is a
strategy guide for those who want to become a better player.


M6:  Tenser's Transformation
M9:   Timestop

C4:  Holy Power

THACO stands for "To Hit Armor Class 0" and represents the number you would
need to roll with a 1d20 die in order to hit an opponent with an AC of 0.  The
lower it is, the easier it is to hit your opponent.  Everyone starts with a
base THACO of 20, which improve as they gain in levels.  The rate of progress
depends upon your class.  For Warriors, it's 1/1 level, for Priests it's 2/3
levels, for Rogues it's 1/2 levels, and for Wizards it's 1/3 levels.  There is
a cap on base THACO at approximately 3 million XP, and so the base THACO cap
for warriors is 0, for priests is 5, for rogues is 10, and for wizards is 15. 
The THACO for multi- and dual-classed characters is the best of the two or
three classes.  Note that kit bonuses are added to base THACO and are not
subject to the base THACO cap.  For Kensai it's 1/3 levels with melee weapons,
for Archers it's 1/3 levels with missile weapons, and for Swashbucklers it's
1/5 levels.

There are a number of different modifiers to base THACO.  First, the strength
modifier applies to melee attacks while the dexterity modifier applies to
missile attacks.  Second, there are weapon expertise and weapon type modifiers
depending upon the number of proficiency points you allocate for them.  Third,
there are modifiers for magical weapons that usually correspond to the 'plus'
in front of its name.

There are various spells and abilities that will improve THACO.  "Tenser's
Transformation" (M6) and "Holy Power" (C4) will temporarily turn spell casters
into fighters of the same level in terms of THACO.  Also, when druids shape
shift, their THACO may of course improve.  Finally, if you cast "Timestop"
(M9), then you will always hit your opponent while he is frozen in time.


FA:  Whirlwind
FA:  Greater Whirlwind

Swa:  Whirlwind
Bla:  Offensive Spin

M3:  Haste
M6:  Improved Haste

The baseline is one attack with one weapon per round except for short bows and
longbows, which have a rate of fire of twice per round.  If you dual-wield
melee weapons, you get two attacks.  However, unless you put two or three
proficiency points into two-weapon style, there will be severe penalties to
THACO if you dual-wield.  Thus, only Warriors, Swashbucklers, and Blades can
dual-wield effectively.  In addition, Warriors get an extra attack per round
when they reach level 13, as well as an additional half attack per round if
they are wielding a weapon that they specialize in.  There are some special
weapons that give you an extra attack per round.  This includes the Belm
scimitar and the Tuigan short bow.

There are special abilities and spells that can temporarily increase the number
of attacks per round.  Both Warriors and Swashbucklers can get the High-Level
Ability Whirlwind which gives them 10 attacks/round for one round although with
a penalty to THACO.  Warriors can also get the HLA Greater Whirlwind, which has
no such penalty.  Blades get an extra attack per round when they use their
offensive spin ability.  Finally, Mages can cast "Haste" (M3) to give everyone
in the party an extra attack per round, or  "Improved Haste" (M6) to give one
character double the normal number of attacks per round.


FA:  Critical Strike

TA:  Backstab
TA:  Assassinate

Ken:  Kai
Bla:  Offensive Spin
Arc:  Called Shot

M4:  Fireshield

C5:  Righteous Magic
C6:  Blade Barrier
CQ:  Globe of Blades

Damage depends upon the type of weapon, the magical grade of the weapon, and
weapon type and style modifiers.  The strength modifier applies to melee
weapons and thrown weapons but it does not apply to missile weapons.  Kensai
get kit bonuses of 1/3 levels for melee weapons, Archers get 1/3 levels for
missile weapons, and Swashbucklers get 1/5 levels.  The damage done by a weapon
is usually a range depending upon a random roll of the die, but the Kensai's
Kai ability, the Blade's Offensive Spin ability, and the Archer's Called Shot
ability guarantee maximum damage upon contact for a single round.  "Righteous
Magic" (C5) will effectuate maximum damage for a number of rounds.  The 'plus'
in front of a magical weapon's name corresponds to not only THACO bonuses but
also damage bonuses.

There is also a damage multiplier that applies in certain situations.  If you
roll a 20 for your 1d20 attack roll, then that is considered a critical hit and
there is an x2 multiplier to damage.  Warriors can get the HLA Critical Strike
in which every attack during that round is considered a critical hit.  However,
critical strikes do not do double damage if the target is wearing a helmet.

Thief backstabs have multipliers which increase every few levels until they are
capped at x5 at level 13.  Swashbucklers unfortunately cannot backstab.  The
Assassin eventually attains x7 at level 21.  The stalker gradually gets up to
x4 at level 17.  Thieves can get the HLA Assassinate in which every attack
during that round does backstab damage.  Unlike backstab, there is no
requirement for HLA Assassinate of being concealed behind the opponent.

A way of doing additional damage while fighting an opponent is to surround your
self with a "Blade Barrier" (C6) or "Globe of Blades" (CQ), or a "Fireshield"
(M4).  Sometimes, they do more damage than you yourself do.  You could even
then make yourself unnoticeable through "Sanctuary" (C1) or "Invisibility" (M2)
and continue to do damage to the opponents you're standing near.


Paladin:  [Carsomyr two-handed sword]
Fighter:  [Silver Sword two-handed sword] --> [Axe of Unyielding] and
[Argundaval longsword]
Archer:  [Firetooth crossbow]
Fighter/Cleric:  [Flail of Ages] and [Crom Faehr war hammer]
Fighter/Druid:  [Gnasher club] and [Belm scimitar] --> [Ixil's Spear]
Fighter/Thief:  [Celestial Fury katana] and [Blackrazor longsword]
Monks:  [Fists]
Mages:  [Staff of Magi]

What is the best weapon in BG2 is a common question especially from newbies. 
The answer depends upon what you're looking for in a weapon.  For example, if
you're looking for someone to talk to, then the Lilacor would be the best
weapon in BG 2.  Perhaps more serious considerations are how much damage the
weapon does either instantly or over time, whether it has a regeneration
feature, how many attacks per round you get with it, and also if it may have
any elemental, debilitating, or vorpal effect upon opponents.  Finally, if you
are traveling in a party, you need to consider not just which weapon is your
favorite, but also which weapons to give everyone else and also who can use
what weapon and how the weapon effects work in conjunction with the rest of
their equipment.

Let's go through the classes.  For Paladins, the Carsomyr is truly a great
sword.  Not only does it do a lot of damage, but its 50% MR and ability to
dispel magic with every hit make it invaluable against enemy mages.  For
fighters, I believe that the Axe of Unyielding is the single-best single-handed
fighter weapon with its regeneration feature and vorpal effect.  The Argundaval
accomplishes so many things in terms of strength enhancement, level drain
immunity, and elemental damage that it is an ideal left-handed weapon. 
However, both are not obtainable until ToB.  And so prior to that I would
advocate the Silver Sword, which also has a vorpal effect.  For Archers, the
best weapon is the Firetooth Crossbow with its +6 accuracy and fire arrows.

For Clerics and Warrior/Clerics, the two best weapons would be the Flail of
Ages with its massive elemental damage and slow opponent feature and the Crom
Faehr with its strength set to 25, electricity damage, and golem-bashing
feature.  Against undead, the Improved Mace of Disruption and later on the
Runehammer is key.  For Druids and Fighter/Druids, the choice is clear.  It's
dual-wielding the Belm +2 and the Gnasher Club, which is the most damaging
weapon combo in SoA, and then switching to Ixil's Spear, which is the most
damaging weapon in ToB.

For Thieves and Fighter/Thieves, the Celestial Fury frequently stuns the
opponent and can do additional electrical damage.  Also, because it is a
katana, you can also backstab with it.  The Blackrazor longsword is the
ultimate heal-as-you-hit weapon, having a significant chance of healing 20 HP
with each hit in addition to level-draining the opponent and increasing your
strength dexterity and # of attacks.  Steal the Tear of Bhaal from the djinni
if you want to keep the Blackrazor and your non-evil alignment too.  Finally,
monks are best off with their fists, and mages should go off on a quest in
search of the Staff of Magi.


Plate:  [Red Dragon Scale] --> [Blue Dragon Scale]
Elven Chain:  [Bladesinger] --> [Aslyferund]
Leather:  [Black Dragon Scale] --> [White Dragon Scale]
Robes:  [Robe of Vecna]

FA:  Hardiness

Bla:  Defensive Spin

M2:  Mirror Image
M4:  Stoneskin
M5:  Protection from Normal Weapons
M6:  Protection from Magical Weapons

D5:  Ironskin

AC stands for "Armor Class" and as is the case with THACO, the lower the
better.  Except that in the case of AC we are talking about defense, and the
lower it is, the harder it is for your opponent to hit you.  Each one-point
decrease in your AC corresponds to your opponents needing a one-point decrease
in their THACO in order for them to have the same chance of hitting you in
combat, and vice versa.  There is a dexterity modifier for AC.  Also, regarding
kits, Swashbucklers get a 1/5 levels kit bonus to AC and Blades get a Defensive
Spin ability that temporarily lowers their AC dramatically.

Everyone starts with a base AC of 10.  This is your base AC when you're not
wearing anything.  If you're wearing armor, then your base AC depends upon the
type of armor.  Magical armor usually has a magical modifier in the amount of
the 'plus' in front of its name.

The best magical plate armor in SoA is the Red Dragon Scale with a base AC of
-1.  The best leather armor in SoA is the Black Dragon Scale with an AC of 1. 
However, both of these require that you kill a dragon to obtain them, and so I
would suggest regular Full Plate and Aeger's Hide as alternatives.  For mages,
the Robe of Vecna is hands down the best thing they can wear, because in
addition to providing a base AC of 5, it improves their casting speed
dramatically.  For pure AC purposes, though, the Bracers of AC 3 would be the
best choice.  In ToB, there are too many good armors to name, but the Blue
Dragon Scale is great for fighters, and the White Dragon Scale can be used by
thieves.  The Aslyferund Elven Chain is awesome for multi-class mages, with its
0 AC and permanent immunity to normal weapons.

An advantage of wearing normal armor rather than magical armor is that you are
then free to wear a magical item that provides additional protection, such as a
Ring or Cloak of Protection +2.  There are also some magical items that get
around this prohibition and can be worn on top of magical armor such as the
Helm of Balduran.

As you face harder and harder monsters, you can no longer depend upon plate
mail to prevent people from hitting you.  "Stoneskin" (M4) and "Ironskin" (D5)
are long-lasting magical multi-layered shields which completely absorb physical
attacks although they do not protect against elemental damage.  "Mirror Image"
(M2) produces several illusions for a short period of time that divert attacks
unless the opponent can see through them.

Another approach towards protecting yourself is through physical resistance. 
Barbarians eventually get a significant amount of physical resistance, and the
warrior HLA Hardiness confers 40% physical resistance for a period of time. 
There are also a handful of items such as Roranarch's Horn, which gives 50%
resistance to blunt weapons.

Finally, there are spells that protect against physical attacks.  "Protection
from Magical Weapons" (M5) is in my opinion the best physical protection spell.
 It cannot be used in conjunction with "Protection from Normal Weapons" (M4)
but it can be used in conjunction with a Tear of Bhaal bonus or the Aslyferund
Elven Chain to convey complete invulnerability to all weapons for four rounds.


[Red Dragon Scale]
[Black Dragon Scale]
[White Dragon Scale]
[Blue Dragon Scale]
[Helm of Brilliance]
[Ring of Fire Resistance]
[Cloak of Reflection]
[Boots of Grounding]
[Cloak of Mirrors]
[Girdle of Inertial Barrier]

C2:  Protection from Fire/Cold

The various dragon scale armors confer considerable elemental resistances with
the Red, Black, White, and Blue giving the wearer 50% resistance to fire, acid,
cold, and electricity, respectively.  There are also accessories, such as the
Helm of Brilliance and the Ring of Fire Resistance, each of which confer 40%
resistance to fire and when another 20% is added to it from the Tear of Bhaal
bonus, or a Cavalier or Druid resistance, then it becomes absolute.  For
electricity, there is the Cloak of Reflection, which reflects electricity back
to the enemy, as well as the Boots of Grounding that give 50% resistance.  In
terms of spells, a cheap way to get 100% resistance to both fire and cold is to
couple together two "Protection from Fire/Cold" (C2).

Elemental resistances are great because most enemy mages cast offensive spells
that are elemental-based, and so having ER is almost as good as having MR. 
Resistance to Magical Damage is also almost as good as having MR, protecting
against all but debilitating/death spells.  The Cloak of Mirrors is a
super-item that conveys 100% resistance to all enemy damage spells, while the
Girdle of Inertial Barrier conveys 50% resistance to the same.

It is very difficult to achieve 100% MR, and only possible for certain classes.
 The Carsomyr two-handed sword gives the wielder 50% MR, but can only be
wielded by Paladins and thieves with the Use Any Item ability.  Various items
increase MR by small but significant amounts, but collecting all of these items
is no small feat.  Wizardslayers and Monks are the two classes which naturally
and eventually attain high MR, but they are quite limited in which items they
can equip to try to perfect their MR.  Paladins, Fighter/Mage/Thieves and
Wizardslayers dualled to Thieves are probably the best bet for getting to 100%


M6:  Tenser's Transformation

C5:  Mass Cure
C5:  Raise Dead
C6:  Heal
CQ:  Mass Raise Dead

Hit points indicate how much damage you can take from your opponents.  How many
hit points you have depends upon your level and class.  Warriors get 10/level
up to level 9 except for Barbarians, which get 12/level up to level 9.  This is
their base HP.  After level 9, warriors get only 3/level.  Priests get 8/level
up to level 9, and then 2/level.  Rogues get 6/level up to level 10, and then
2/level.  Finally, Mages get 4/level up to level 9, and then 1/level.  Base hit
points are modified by constitution, and constitution bonuses are higher for

In terms of recovering hit points, resting causes wounds to heal although very
gradually.  The primary way to heal is through Priest spells or potions.  At
high levels and in the midst of battle, you need "Heal" (C6) if you have a
single severely wounded individual or "Mass Cure" (C5) if your entire party is
moderately wounded.  The best spell to cast when your entire party is seriously
wounded is a "Spell Trigger" (M8) with three "Mass Cures" (C5).  Finally, a
side effect of "Tenser's Transformation" (M6) is that it actually heals the
spellcaster in addition to its other effects.

There are also some magical items which cause hit points to regenerate over
time, such as the Ring of Regeneration.  Perhaps even better are weapons that
actually heal you as you hurt your opponent, such as the Blackrazor longsword
or the Foebane bastard sword.  Both are obtainable around the end of SoA and
the beginning stages of ToB.

If your hit points are reduced to 0, you die and need to be resurrected.  This
can be accomplished with a "Raise Dead" (C5) spell, or, to raise several party
members simultaneously, a "Mass Raise Dead" (CQ) spell.  If you don't have a
cleric, then you can either go to a temple or use a Rod of Resurrection.


[Arbane's short sword]
[Ring of Free Action]
[Lilacor two-handed sword]
[Helm of Charm Protection]
[Blackrazor longsword]
[Ring of Gaxx]
[Improved Mace of Disruption]
[Amulet of Power]
[Harmony Shield]

Bar:  Rage
Ber:  Rage
Bard:  Improved Bard Song

M1:  Protection from Petrification

C2:  Remove Fear
C5:  Chaotic Commands

Saving throws are what you need to roll with a 20-sided die to be saved from
something bad happening to you, usually a certain kind of spell or debilitating
attack.  How important are they?  Very important.  In fact, failing a saving
throw is probably the most common cause of death.  The lower the saving throw
the better, and your saving throws for various different situations are
dependant upon your race, your class, and your level.

The saving throws are for:  1) Paralyze, Poison or Death; 2) Rod, Staff, or
Wand; 3) Petrify or Polymorph; 4) Breath Weapon; 5) Spells.  #1, #2, and #5
happen often, while #3 and #4 are relatively rare.  Saving throws improve as
you level up, but they cap at about 3 million XP.

Warriors have better saving throws than non-warriors.  Dwarves and Gnomes save
much better than humans against spells and wands, while Halflings save much
better than humans not only against spells and wands, but also against poison. 
A high-level Halfling Fighter will always make his saving throws for #1, #2, or

Even better than low saving throws are absolute immunities.  Each of the
paladin kits have important immunities.  They include the Inquisitor's Hold and
Charm immunities, the Cavalier's Fear and Poison immunities, and the Undead
Hunter's Level Drain immunity.  There are also weapons and items which confer
these various immunities.  Arbane's short sword or the Ring of Free Action give
you immunity to hold, the Lilacor two-handed Sword or the Helm of Charm
Protection give you immunity to charm, the Blackrazor long sword gives you
immunity to fear, the Ring of Gaxx gives you immunity to poison and disease,
and the Improved Mace of Disruption, the Runehammer, and the Amulet of Power
all impart immunity to level drain.  Finally, the Harmony Shield gives you
immunity to charm, confusion, and hold person.

Useful spells which confer immunities include "Remove Fear" (C2), "Protection
from Petrification" (M1), and "Chaotic Commands" (C5).  The Bard's Improved
Bard Song ability provides immunities to most debilitating attacks.  But
perhaps the most comprehensive immunity package consists of the Barbarian and
Berserker's Rage ability, which give you immunities to just about everything.


CA:  Turn Undead

M1:  Magic Missile
M3:  Fireball
M3:  Lightning Bolt
M3:  Flame Arrow
M3:  Skull Trap
M5:  Cone of Cold
M5:  Sunfire
M8:  Horrid Wilting
M10:  Dragon's Breath

C3:  Holy Smite
C5:  Flame Strike
C7:  Sunray
C7:  Firestorm

For individual opponents, "Magic Missile" (M1) or "Flame Arrow" (M3) usually do
the trick.  Magic Missiles are twice as deadly when placed into a "Minor
Sequencer" (M4).  Flame Arrows are a triple threat when placed into a
"Sequencer" (M7).  And finally there's "Flame Strike" (C5) which does massive
fire damage to a single creature.

Unless you plan on fighting every single enemy one-on-one, you need to load up
on area-effect spells direct damage spells.  "Fireball" (M3) and "Lightning
Bolt" (M3) are the bread-and-butter of low-level wizards.  What's nice about
them is that the damage doesn't depend upon the caster level.  They do 10-60
damage period.  "Holy Smite" (C3) is the cleric's version of fireball doing up
to 20-80 damage depending upon the cleric's level.  It has the additional
advantage of only harming those that are evil.  Druids have a spell that does a
ton of damage but can only be cast outdoors called "Call Lightning" (D3).

When wizards attain double-digit levels, they switch to "Skull Trap" (M3) which
can do up to 20-120 damage depending upon the wizard's level, or "Cone of Cold"
(M5) which can do up to 40-120 damage.  Priests meanwhile have to wait until
they get "Firestorm" (C7/D7), but it's well worth the wait because Firestorm
qualifies as a mass destruction spell, doing about 30 damage each round for 4
rounds for a total of about 120 damage over a very wide area.  But Wizards get
Horrid Wilting (M8), which does 20-160 damage in a single round over a slightly
smaller area, and they eventually get Dragon's Breath (M10), which does 20-200

Against undead, Sunray (C7) is absolutely devastating.  And although it's not
classified as a spell, the cleric's Turn Undead ability has the same effect as
Sunray when turned on by a high-level good-alignment cleric.  What's great
about Turn Undead is it can be used again and again, and for added safety, a
cleric can be in "Sanctuary" (C1) while turning undead.

Direct Damage spells can be placed into sequencers and contingencies for
greater effectiveness.  A "Sequencer" (M7) with three Skull Traps is
devastating, while a "Spell Trigger" (M8) with three Cone of Cold's can lower
the temperature very quickly.  A "Contingency" (M6) with "Sunfire" (M5) can
finish off opponents right before they finish off you, or if you die anyway, at
least you went out with a bang.


M1:  Chromatic Orb
M3:  Dire Charm
M3:  Hold Person
M5:  Domination
M6:  Death Spell
M7:  Prismatic Spray
M7:  Finger of Death

C2:  Hold Person
C5:  Slay Living
C9:  Earthquake
CQ:  Storm of Vengeance

I tend to avoid using debilitating spells, perhaps because I prefer a more
direct approach to winning a battle.  But I definitely know their effectiveness
because they are a favorite tactic of enemy mages and I have been victimized by
them countless times.  One of the easiest ways to die in BG 2 especially early
on is when an enemy spell caster casts "Hold Person" (C2/M3).  Another is when
they divide and conquer through "Dire Charm" (M3) or "Domination" (M5).  And
so, if you want, you can fight fire with fire.  My favorite area-effect
debilitating spell is "Prismatic Spray" (M7) because it's so aesthetically
pleasing and also because it tends to turn my enemies to stone.  "Earthquake"
(C9) and "Storm of Vengeance" (CQ) are effective in temporarily disabling large
numbers of opponents.

Regarding death spells, "Death Spell" (M6) is a great spell to have not only
because it can annihilate legions of mid to low-level opponents, but also
because it instantly dismisses all summoned creatures no matter what level they
are.  "Chromatic Orb" (M1), believe it or not, is a death spell if the caster
is a high enough level, and it will kill its opponent outright unless it saves.
 I once killed the demon in the Underdark with this spell.  Death spells that
have a greater chance of slaying the enemy include "Slay Living" (C5) and
""Finger of Death" (M7).


TA:  Detect Illusions

Inq:  Dispel Magic

M3:  Dispel Magic
M5:  Breach
M5:  Cloudkill
M6:  True Sight
M6:  Summon Nishruu

C3:  Dispel Magic
C5:  True Seeing
D5:  Insect Plague

In order to hit your opponent in the first place, you must be able to see your
opponent, and one of the first things an enemy mage usually does is hide.  If
your opponent is invisible, then you should cast "True Sight" (C5/M6) or turn
on your Thief's Detect Illusions ability.  This also works against enemy
thieves and enemy fighters who drink potions of invisibility.

You also need to get rid of any shields that exist.  "Dispel Magic" (C3/M3)
will get rid of most protection spells but its success depends on the relative
levels of the opposing spell casters.  The Inquisitor's Dispel Magic ability
gives the Inquisitor an effective casting level of twice his actual level and
thus almost always works.  However, "Dispel Magic" doesn't get rid of
"Stoneskin" (M4), and so the best spell for removing magical  protection from
physical attacks would be "Breach" (M5) which gets rid of them all.   Either
that, or one successful swing with the Carsomyr or the Staff of Magi should
have the same effect.  And then there's the slow way, which is to keep hitting
the stone-skinned mage with weapons that do elemental damage such as the Flail
of Ages, repeatedly interrupting the spell casting until the stoneskins run

Another Anti-Mage tactic is to just cast "Cloudkill" (M5) and then sit back and
watch.  This tactic can be used against any opponent, even dragons, but it
works particularly well against mages because they have so few hit points and
also because it disrupts their spell casting.  "Insect Plague" (D5) also does
damage over time and disrupts spell casting.  It is the Druid way of fighting
mages.  Finally, "Summon Nishruu" (M6) forces an enemy Mage to fight
hand-to-hand as nishruu cannot be killed by magic.


[Bag of Holding]
[Glasses of ID]

TA:  Hide in Shadows
TA:  Move Silently
TA:  Find/Disarm Traps
TA:  Open Locks
TA:  Detect Illusions
TA:  Pickpocketing

Ran:  Stealth
Ran:  Tracking
Inq:  True Sight
Bard:  Lore
Bard:  Pickpocketing

M1:  Identify
M2:  Knock
M4:  Wizard Eye
M6:  True Sight

C4:  Farsight
C5:  True Seeing

Everyone moves at the same rate except for Barbarians and Monks, which move at
a faster rate.  The Boots of Speed, which double the movement rate, should be
on everyone's top ten list of what to bring when you go traveling.  The Rogue's
or Ranger's Hide In Shadows / Move Silently or Stealth ability, respectively,
is useful for scouting purposes.  Also, the Ranger has a HLA Tracking which can
tell you what kind of monsters are up ahead without actually having to go there
to check it out.  Finally, in certain situations, "Farsight" (C4) or "Wizard
Eye" (M4) might come in handy.

For spotting hidden opponents, there is nothing that surpasses the Inquisitor's
"True Sight" ability or the spell "True Sight" (C5/M6).  The thief's "Detect
Illusions" ability can be turned on whenever the party is on the move. 
Actually, since the switch is the same, thieves can simultaneously detect
illusions and find traps.

The Bag of Holding should also be on the top ten list of things to bring, as it
allows you to store items without worrying about how heavy they are.  The
Glasses of Identification allow you to identify items you find in your travels,
or you could go with a Bard with a high Lore ability, or you could cast
"Identify" (M1).  Finally, there is the option to steal items from stores and
individuals with the Thief or Bard's Pickpocketing ability and for that you
should have 150 skill points if you don't want to get caught.  If you visit a
store that buys and sells stolen goods such as the one in the shadow thief
building in the docks, you can keep stealing and reselling until you have all
the gold that you could possibly want.

When navigating through the Forgotten Realms, the two primary physical
obstacles are locks and traps.  That's what Thieves are for.  Put 150 skill
points in each, and you're set.  For locks, the Mage's "Knock" (M2) always
opens locks and can be used instead.


The XP cap for BG 2 is 8 million XP per character.  This is somewhat
misleading, because from experience I would say that the average party would
only get to about 4 million XP per character.  In order to get more, you need
to go with less in terms of number of characters or go for more in terms of
optional quests.  The distribution of XP is something that you should keep in
mind when determining your party composition.


Finally, we come to my favorite topic, which is discussing and evaluating the
various classes and NPC allies.  First, a word on party composition:  In ToB, I
believe that the four roles played by the four primary classes (warrior,
wizard, priest, rogue) are of equal importance.  However, different numbers of
characters are needed to fulfill each function.  I estimate that the optimal
ratio in BG 2 is 4:3:2:1 Warrior:Wizard:Cleric:Rogue, which in a party of 5
would correspond to 2 Warriors, 1.5 Wizards, 1 Cleric, and 0.5 Rogues.   
Multi-class and dual-class characters can obviously fulfill more than one role,
and that's what they're there for.  Finally, PC's and NPC's differ in how well
they can fulfill a given role, and that's what the ratings are for.


Fighter:  B / Berserker:  B+ / Wizard Slayer:  B- / Kensai:  C+
Ranger:  B- / Archer:  B / Stalker:  B / Beast Master:  C+
Paladin:  B / Cavalier:  B / Inquisitor:  B+ / Undead Hunter:  B+
Barbarian:  B+

Charging into enemy lines may appeal to your aggressive instincts, but it's not
the smartest choice unless you have proper protection.  Barbarians, Berserkers,
and Paladins are better than regular fighters because of their immunities, but
Kensai are worse despite their greater offensive power because it is simply
suicidal to fight without any armor.  The Undead Hunter really shines above the
rest.  He starts out with immunity to hold and level drain, then can obtain the
Lilacor sword near the very beginning of SoA for immunity to charm and
confusion as well.  That's permanent immunity to most of the major debilitating
attacks right there.  If he also needs immunity to fear or resistances to fire
and cold like that which Cavaliers have, he can simply cast "Remove Fear" (C1)
or "Resist Fire and Cold" (C2).  If he is wounded and needs time out from a
fight, he can cast "Sanctuary" (C1) and then drink some healing potions or cast
some healing spells.  He can also Turn Undead, unlike Inquisitors, and wield
the anti-mage sword Carsomyr, like all paladins.

Out of the crowded field of NPC fighters, Korgan stands head and shoulders
above the rest even though he's a dwarf.  Not only is he a berserker which is a
better fighter kit than the others, but he's a better-than-average berserker
with stellar stats, the saving throws of a dwarf, and proficiency points in the
right places.  In fact, I would make the argument that he is an even better
fighter to have than Sarevok, not only because you can get him in SoA rather
than waiting until ToB, but also because debilitating spells and weapon
selection--there is nothing more dangerous than a Sarevok who is confused or
charmed, and in terms of weapons, I'd pick Korgan's Axe of the Unyielding and
Runehammer over Sarevok's Gram of Grief any day of the week.  But Sarevok is
definitely the second best fighter after Korgan because of his Deathbringer
Assault.  Keldorn also deserves special mention, simply because he is the
ultimate anti-mage.  The rest of the fighters are okay but not that great.


Mage:  B / Specialist Mage:  B
Sorcerer:  B+
Wild Mage:  B

A high-level wizard is more powerful than a high-level warrior, but a low-level
wizard is more vulnerable than a low-level warrior.  Wizards do have a tendency
to die fairly often during the first half of BG 2, when monsters get past the
defensive line and sack the wizard.  However, the inclusion of the Robe of
Vecna in the official patch of ToB makes wizards much less likely to be
interrupted while they're casting spells.  And once a wizard gets those mass
destruction spells, it's all over.  The reason I gave a regular mage a baseline
rating of 'B', which is the same as for a regular fighter, is because I am
looking at the BG 2 journey in its entirety:  beginning and middle as well as
end.  Sorcerers are superior to mages especially for advanced players because
they can cast more spells per day and do not have to specify in advance which
spells they want to cast on a given day.  Being limited to knowing fewer spells
than a mage is not a disadvantage when you know which spells you want.

Regarding Edwin, Edwin is better than a regular specialist mage because he
simply gets more spell slots per level.  He also has 18 in intelligence so he
won't have to drink potions before he casts high-level spells.  If you go with
Edwin, you don't even need a backup mage.


Cleric:  B- / Specialty Priest:  B-
Druid:  B- / Totemic Druid:  B- / Shapeshifter:  B / Avenger:  B+

The story as far as priests in ToB is that wizards eventually surpass them in
spell casting power as they well should.  However, it is also the case that
healing in the midst of battle is more important as fighters are more likely to
get hit by their opponents.  Regarding druids, they are no longer inferior
priests, but have caught up to clerics.  Just like sorcerers, they can cast
more spells per day, and in terms of variety of spells, "Globe of Blades" (DQ)
and "Mass Raise Dead" (DQ) are two quest spells that are improved versions of
"Blade Barrier" (C6) and "Raise Dead" (C5) which they missed out on because
they aren't clerics.  Shape shifters are better than regular druids because
they can turn into decent fighters, and Avengers are better than regular druids
because their spell books are improved considerably by mid-level mage offensive
spells such as "Chromatic Orb" (M1), "Lightning Bolt" (M3) and "Chain
Lightning" (M6).

Viconia's rating is two half-grades above her class not because she's so
attractive but because she has very good stats and because she's a drow with
Magic Resistance.  She starts with 65%, which is something that Wizardslayers
and Monks need a lifetime to obtain, and she can easily get to 100% with the
right equipment.  This is a tremendous advantage especially in ToB where magic
is flung at you left and right.


Thief:  C+ / Assassin:  C+ / Bounty Hunter:  C- / Swashbuckler:  B
Bard:  C- / Blade:  C / Jester:  C- / Skald:  C-
Monk:  B+

With ToB, rogues get the Use Any Item ability, which is very useful.  Thieves
also get better traps, with the Bounty Hunter's special traps now becoming
outdated.  It should be mentioned that traps are the easiest way of killing big
bosses--however, the number of situations in which trapsetting is feasible is
rather limited.  Bards get improved songs, with the Skald's special song now
becoming outdated.  However, beyond this, rogues don't improve by much.  They
don't get additional useful skills, and so the rest of their skill points goes
to waste.  Bards don't get to cast more powerful mage spells, but stay stuck at
level 6.  Swashbucklers however do continue to improve their THACO, damage, and
AC every 5 levels all the way to level 40, and in addition acquire the fighter
HLA Whirlwind ability.  Monks are like mages in terms of power and progress,
starting off small but getting better and better.

Yoshimo gets a low grade for three reasons.  First, who needs a full-time
single-class thief?  Second, Bounty Hunters in general are outdated in ToB
because all thieves get even better traps than the Bounty Hunter's.  Finally,
you can only use Yoshimo for the early part of SoA.


Dwarven Fighter/Cleric:  B / Berserker->Cleric:  B
Half-Elven Fighter/Druid:  B+ / Berserker->Druid:  B+
Ranger/Cleric:  A- / Ranger->Cleric:  A-

Warrior and Priest go perfect together, because being a fighter or a priest are
not necessarily full-time jobs.  You can wear plate and still cast spells,
fight as well as heal your wounds.  With the base THACO and total XP capped as
it is, a Warrior/Priest will eventually have just as good a THACO as a
single-class Warrior.  Also, a Warrior/Priest will know just as many spells as
a single-class Priest.  A disadvantage of a fighter/cleric multi-class compared
with the dual-class is that the Turn Undead rank isn't as high.  However,
fighter/cleric multi-classes get fighter HLA's whereas dual-classes don't.

Fighter/Druids are slightly better than Fighter/Clerics because druids have
faster spell progression and this is more compatible with multi-classing. 
Also, "Ironskin" (D5) is useful for fighters especially for the first half of
BG 2.  Berserker is a good fighter kit to dual to cleric or druid because of
the immunities and also because you're not missing out on much when you miss
out on cleric or druid missile weapon specialization.  But even better than
Fighter/Clerics and Fighter/Druids are Ranger/Clerics because they get both
Cleric and Druid spells as well as stealth and racial enemy.

Jaheira has good stats in everything except for strength, and for that she can
easily boost it to 19 or more with a girdle of giant strength.  Also, she gets
a level 5 raise dead spell called "Harper's Call" which other druids don't get.
 In any event, Jaheira is as good a fighter/druid as a fighter/druid can be
expected to be, and fighter/druids are very good indeed.  The same cannot be
said for Anomen, who has worse stats and personality than an average fighter
dualled to cleric.


Halfling Fighter/Thief:  B+ / Kensai->Thief:  B+

The Fighter/Thief is another great combo.  Neither warrior nor rogue are
necessarily full-time jobs and a F/T will eventually be just as good in both. 
F/T can backstab and use the assassinate ability more effectively and more
often than regular thieves.  If you want to do the most damage possible in a
single blow, then dual-class a Kensai to a Thief and try a Kai-Backstab. 
Fighter/Thieves can take advantage of the Use Any Item ability to wield the
Carsomyr even though they're not paladins and wear armor even if they're part


Gnome Fighter/Illusionist:  B+ / Kensai->Mage:  B+

Fighter/Mages are ultimately one of the most powerful class combos in BG 2.  A
Kensai dualled to Mage is even better than a fighter/mage multi-class because
it gains more spells much faster and has more hit points.  The Fighter/Mage
multi-class though has the edge in terms of fighting because it gets fighter
HLA's.  The Robe of Vecna makes a huge difference here, not only because of the
faster casting speed which is essential if you want to cast spells on the
frontline, but also because it's armor which Kensai->Mages can wear and as such
improves their AC considerably.


Gnome Illusionist/Thief:  B / Swashbuckler->Mage:  A-

Again, the dual to Mage is much better than the Mage multi-class.  The reason
is simple:  In terms of progress and power, thieves are front-loaded, while
mages are back-loaded.  Regarding backstab, I'm not too comfortable with having
my mage frontline as a fighter/mage, but I'm even more against the idea of
sending my mage behind enemies lines to try to backstab an opponent.  Once he's
discovered, he's dead.  Swashbucklers dualled to mages on the other hand are a
great idea because they get AC bonuses, something which mages can definitely
use, and also because they can function as backup fighters with their attack
bonuses and dual-wield.  This is on top of the fact that they can acquire basic
thief skills and still become a high-level mage.

Nalia and Imoen are practically twins, except that Imoen has better stats and
Nalia has worse thief skill points.  Jan is an Illusionist/Thief with bad
stats.  I'd say go with Imoen even though you lose her for part of SoA.


Gnome Cleric/Illusionist:  B+ / Cleric->Mage:  B+

It is very convenient to have all the cleric and mage spells in a single
character, and it is very strategic to be able to mix and match cleric and mage
spells in contingencies and sequencers as well as be able to cast both at a
fast rate of speed thanks to "Improved Alacrity" (M10) and the Robe of Vecna. 
With that said, it takes a while for cleric/mages to become powerful and also,
it may be wiser to combine cleric with fighter rather than mage because a
fighter/cleric is more likely to survive a difficult battle.

I have mixed feelings about Aerie.  On one hand, it's nice to have cleric and
mage spells together in one place, and Aerie seems nice when you first meet
her.  But then you start realizing how superficial her spell book, stats, and
personality really are.  It's up to you if you want to stick with Aerie, and
it's also up to Aerie whether she wants to stick with you.


Half-Orc Cleric/Thief:  B+ / Swashbuckler->Cleric:  B+

The Cleric/Thief multi-class is one of the most-improved class combos with ToB.
 The Use Any Item Thief ability enables the Cleric/Thief to wear the Robe of
Vecna and wield the Staff of Magi.  "Righteous Magic" (C5) and the Thief's
Assassinate ability result in maximum backstab damage in broad daylight.  And
let's not forget "Globe of Blades" (CQ) while stealth is in effect.  It is for
these reasons and more that this class combo is called Cyric's Favored.  The
Swashbuckler dualled to Cleric cannot backstab but is still a good utility
character, with basic skills and cleric spells as well as being the best
non-fighter fighter.


Elven Fighter/Mage/Thief:  A-

This is a multi-class that works really well together.  Being a Fighter as well
as a Thief enables the F/M/T to assassinate several times a round.  Being a
Mage as well as a Fighter/Thief means the F/M/T can cast "Mislead" (M6) and
backstab again and again for up to 20 rounds.  The F/M/T gets tons of XP from
fighting opponents, learning spells, and taking care of locks/traps.  And in
the end, the F/M/T can fight almost as well as a fighter, cast mage spells 1-8,
and have plenty of thief skill points.  This is one of the easiest class combos
to solo with.


Half-Elven Fighter/Mage/Cleric:  A+

And now we come to what is in my opinion the best class combo for ToB.  I call
this class the "Commander-In-Chief" because it controls most of the major class
skills and abilities.  If you're a F/M/C, you can fight almost as well as a
regular fighter especially when you factor in buff and protection spells from
both mage and cleric sides such as "Improved Haste" (M6) and "Righteous Magic"
(C5), "Protection from Magical Weapons" (M5) and "Armor of Faith" (C1).  You
can fight on the frontline as a Fighter, then heal because you're a Cleric, and
heal quickly because you're a Mage and can wear the Robe of Vecna.

You also get unique contingencies and sequencers from being both cleric and
mage, such as "Spell Trigger" (M8)-"Mass Cure"x3 which can heal an entire
party, or "Sequencer"-"Holy Smite"x3 which will hurt evil monsters a lot but
spare non-evil party members.  When going solo, my favorite is "Spell Trigger"
(M8)-"Heal"(C6)-"Improved Haste"(M6)-"Righteous Magic"(C5).  You can even
simulate some of the more important thief abilities.  You can pick a familiar
who can pickpocket.  You can open locks with "Knock" (M2).  You can find traps
with "Find Traps" (C2).  You can go into stealth mode with "Sanctuary" (C1) or
"Invisibility" (M2).  You can detect illusions through "True Seeing" (C5). 
Finally, you can set the rough equivalent of traps with "Skull Trap" (M3) and
"Glyph of Warding" (C3).  Whatever your party needs, the F/M/C can fill the

Regarding weaponry, there are many different ways to outfit a F/M/C.  In a
party, I would go sword-and-shield style but not put any points into
sword-and-shield style.  The best single-handed cleric weapon that you can get
early on and upgrade as the game progresses is the Flail of Ages with its extra
elemental damage and slow effect.  Other weapons to consider are the Improved
Mace of Disruption and the Stormstar, both maces, as well as the Crom Faehr and
the Runehammer, both war hammers.  There is also the Sling of Seeking.  Why
sword-and-shield style?  The reason is because although dual-wielding would
give the F/M/C an extra attack, in a party, the role which a F/M/C plays is
that of a spell-caster and a backup fighter.  The Flail of Ages with its slow
effect is perfect for dueling against the monster which occasionally slips past
the frontline, and the Reflection Shield is perfect for being able to cast
spells at a distance without being interrupted by missile weapons.  When the
enemies are pressing in on you and you need more than one attack, do a Greater
Whirlwind with the Stormstar for the chain lightning effect.

When going solo, I would first go sword-and-shield with the Flail of Ages and
the Harmony Shield, not just because the two gold-plated items match really
well, but also because any of a number of debilitating attacks are fatal when
soloing.  Then, I would dual-wield with any two of the single-handed weapons
mentioned above.  Ultimately, I would specialize in Staffs for the Staff of the
Ram and the Staff of the Magi.  Just give me those two sticks, and I can defeat
any opponent.  The Staff of the Ram is the most damaging most debilitating
weapon for physical attacks, while the Staff of the Magi has the most powerful
magical properties and abilities.

Regarding HLA's, Fighter/Mage/Clerics, like other multi-classes, start getting
high-level abilities with each level obtained after 3 million XP cumulative. 
And so that means they get quite a few HLA's.  I would choose two cleric quest
spells, Globe of Blades and Energy Blades, and put the rest into the fighter
HLA's.  The three most important fighter HLA's are 'Greater Whirlwind,'
'Critical Strike,' and 'Hardiness.'  'Whirlwind' and 'Power Attack' are
prerequisites, and 'Smite' although better than 'Critical Strike' can
unfortunately only be chosen once.  While going sword-and-shield or two-handed
weapon, 'Greater Whirlwind' is key, as previously mentioned.  While
dual-wielding, you don't need 'Greater Whirlwind' because you already get 3 or
4 attacks per round and that is doubled to almost 10 anyway when you cast
"Improved Haste" (M6).  'Critical Strike' is better especially when in
conjunction with "Righteous Magic" (C5).  'Hardiness' is always helpful as it
confers 40% physical resistance and can stack with itself or with "Armor of
Faith" (C1).

Finally, regarding spells, I recommend the following spell book:

M1:  Chromatic Orb, Find Familiar, Identify, Magic Missile, Protection from
M2:  Invisibility, Knock, Melf's Acid Arrow, Mirror Image
M3:  Fireball, Flame Arrow, Lightning Bolt, Skull Trap
M4:  Greater Malison, Ice Storm, Minor Sequencer, Stoneskin
M5:  Breach, Cloudkill, Cone of Cold, Spell Immunity, Sunfire
M6:  Chain Lightning, Contingency, Death, Improved Haste, Mislead, Protection
from Magical Weapons
M7:  Finger of Death, Limited Wish, Prismatic Spray, Spell Sequencer, Khelben's
Warding Whip
M8:  Abi-Dalzim's Horrid Wilting, Spell Trigger
C1:  Armor of Faith, Doom, Remove Fear, Protection from Evil, Sanctuary
C2:  Draw Upon Holy Might, Find Traps, Hold Person, Resist Fire and Cold,
Silence, Slow Poison
C3:  Animate Dead, Dispel Magic, Glyph of Warding, Holy Smite
C4:  Cure Serious Wounds, Lesser Restoration
C5:  Chaotic Commands, Magic Resistance, Mass Cure, Raise Dead, Righteous
Magic, True Seeing
C6:  Blade Barrier, Harm, Heal
C7:  Fire Storm, Sunray, Globe of Blades, Energy Blades


Although I've been meaning to write this strategy guide for a long time, this
is the first draft I've posted online, and as such, I'm open to discussion and
debate, as well as revision.  If you have any questions or would like to reach
me, I can usually be found on the GameFaqs forum at 'www.gamefaqs.com' under
the alias "Riverwind."  I can also be contacted via E-Mail at


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