Chances are that you’ll be importing a character from Baldur’s Gate, in which case, you will already have picked a class for them. If not, the 18 classes from BG are available, plus three additional ones, for a total of 21. Whether you import a character or create a new one, each single class–except for the three new ones–can be customised with one of three ‘kits’, similar to Mage specialisations. Although, to be entirely honest, these kits aren’t usually worth it, with a few exceptions. Every class levels at its own rate, and you can combine some of them by dual- or multiclassing (kit selection applies to dual-classing as well). The available combinations and kits depend on a character’s race and sometimes on their alignment. Humans can only dual-class, while every other race can only multiclass. Simply put, a dual- or multiclassed character will almost always be better than a single-classed one, or, at least, more versatile, although all combinations involving a Cleric or a Druid will be subject to their weapon restrictions. However, in this game, multiclassed characters have a distinct advantage over dual-classed ones, in that they will be able to access the High-Level Abilities (HLAs) of both their classes with Throne of Bhaal installed. Any alignment restrictions that apply to a single class also apply to any of its combinations (e.g. a Fighter/Druid must be True Neutral). In terms of THAC0 and Saving Throws, the best score is always taken into account, whether you’re dual- or multiclassing: e.g. in the case of a Fighter/Thief, it’ll be the Fighter’s.
If you’re creating a character from scratch, you have almost complete control over her/his attributes, so patience is pretty much your only limit. In general, an 18 in Dexterity and a 16 in Constitution are desirable for any class, as they’ll improve your character’s survivability.
Fighter: This is a pure melee class with very little strategy or planning required: grab a weapon, slap on some armour and go whack stuff. What’s more, it’s available to every race. Fighters can wear the heaviest armour and use any kind of weapon. They have a d10 HP progression base, gain one point of THAC0 per level and end up with the second-best Saving Throws, with an edge against Paralysis/Poison/Death, but a weakness to Spells. They start with four weapon proficiency points, gain an extra one at level 3, and then one every three levels after that. What’s more, single- and dual-classed Fighters are the only classes that can attain Grandmastery in a weapon type (five proficiency points). This makes them the best in terms of straight-up melee damage. Strength, Dexterity and Constitution are the attributes to prioritise. Especially since a Fighter will get additional HP bonuses with every Constitution point above 16. In short, aim for an 18 in all three. Available kits are: Berserker, Wizard Slayer and Kensai. There are two recruitable Fighters in Shadows of Amn: Korgan (Evil) and Mazzy (Good), but only Korgan has a kit.
Berserker: You know how Minsc’s head wound gives him the ability to fly into a rage? Well, this is like that. The Berserker is able to trigger a rage for 1 min once per game day and gains an extra charge every four levels. The rage grants a two-point bonus to attack, damage and Armour Class (AC), immunity to a variety of status effects (including instant death), as well as an extra 15 HP on top of your character’s total. However, once the rage is over, the character will become ‘winded’, and the bonuses will reverse. Berserkers can only put one point into ranged weapons, but there are throwing axes and daggers around to make up for that. It’s also worth noting that they can’t be Lawful. This is Korgan’s chosen kit.
Wizard Slayer: It’s like a Paladin…only not. Wizard Slayers inflict a 10% spell failure effect per hit and gain a 1% magic resistance per level (in ToB, this changes to 5% every even level and maxes out at 84%), which can be very painful for enemy spellcasters. To compensate for this, however, they can’t use ANY enchanted items except for weapons and armour. This means no rings, necklaces, cloaks, belts or bracers. Talk about a handicap.
Kensai: This is an attempt to turn the Fighter into a glass cannon, like a Mage. The problem is that, since a Fighter’s place is on the front lines, it…doesn’t really work. The Kensai is a two-weapon specialist. It gets a two-point bonus to AC, a one-point bonus to attack and damage every three levels, and a one-point bonus to speed every four levels. It also has a special ability called Kai, which makes all their attacks do maximum damage for 10 seconds once per day, gaining an extra charge every four levels. All in all, it can dish out the hurt. As a counterpart, however, it can’t equip ANY armour. At all. And no bracers or missile weapons either. Sheesh.
Thief: Traps and locked chests abound, and there are many good things to steal, if only to save some cash, so having a Thief in the party is pretty much required. Thieves can be any race, but they can’t be Lawful (duh). They can only wear light armour and can’t use two-handed weapons, scimitars, maces, axes or heavy projectile weapons. They have a d6 HP progression base and gain one point of THAC0 every two levels. However, they share the worst Saving Throws with Bards, particularly against Breath attacks (i.e. dragons), with their best score (Wands) being only average when compared to other classes. Thieves start with two weapon proficiency points, get another one at level 4, then one every four levels, but they can only put one point in a weapon type. A Thief’s bread-and-butter are its abilities, which have been upgraded from the first game: instead of four, there are now seven. Stealth has also been renamed to Hide in Shadows, but still plays a role in backstabbing: if a Thief is hidden and lands a strike, not only is there a four-point THAC0 bonus for that hit, but the enemy also takes a hefty chunk of damage. This is determined by a multiplier that increases with levelling. Thieves also gain three points of Lore per level, which could be helpful for identifying items. Dexterity is THE ability to get an 18 in. Available kits are: Assassin, Bounty Hunter and Swashbuckler. Yoshimo (Neutral) is the only recruitable Thief.
Assassin: If you enjoy backstabbing, this is the kit for you. The Assassin gets a one-point bonus to attack and damage, as well as a maximum backstab multiplier of 7, rather than a normal Thief’s 5. What’s more, it can coat its weapon in poison once per day, gaining an extra charge every four levels. The poison will deal three additional points of damage for the first six seconds, then one point per second until 24 seconds have passed. The downside is that the Assassin gets fewer points per level to distribute among its thieving skills, but considering you don’t need all of them, this isn’t a major handicap.
Bounty Hunter: This is Yoshimo’s chosen kit and, frankly, it’s not very good. It’s focused on traps: it gets a bonus to Set Traps and can use special traps as well, but they are so lame that they won’t be much help in a fight. What’s more, they inflict no Saving Throw penalties on enemies, so most opponents worth using them against will be able to resist them with ease. Regular Thieves get much better trap options from their HLAs. What’s more, the Bounty Hunter has fewer points per level to spend on its other abilities. Bottom line: stay away from this.
Swashbuckler: This kit attempts to make the Thief into more of a front-liner, at the cost of its backstabbing ability. This is a legitimate effort and actually comes close to succeeding. The Swashbuckler gains a one-point AC, attack and damage bonus every five levels, can put two points into any weapon a Thief can use and three points into Two-Weapon Fighting. But if you’re looking for a front-liner with thieving skills, why not simply make a Fighter/Thief? It’s still a superior choice in the end.
Fighter/Thief: All the Fighter dual- or multiclasses are good, as the Fighter component enhances any other class it’s paired with by granting them more HP and better THAC0. In this case, you get a hardier, more combat-worthy Thief. A Fighter/Thief is similar to a Ranger, minus the handful of Druidic spells, but plus the ability to backstab and use other Thief abilities than Hide in Shadows. There are no racial restrictions, but your character can’t be Lawful. Multiclassing is clearly the way to go in this game, as it means more HLAs–and the Fighter HLAs are great–and the ability to use the same weapons as a Fighter. By comparison, a dual-classed Fighter/Thief will be able to put five points in a weapon type, while a multiclassed one will only have two (which is still better than a single-class Thief). However, dual-classed Fighter/Thieves will only be able to use Thief weapons. Just like a single-class Fighter, you’ll want 18 Strength, Dexterity and Constitution, to get the most out of this combo. There are no Fighter/Thief companions.
Cleric: The healer class par excellence, with no racial restrictions. Clerics are priests of a given deity, which grants them abilities and spells in exchange for their service. Most of these are either curative or beneficial, but there are some offensive and debilitating ones as well. These spells are learned automatically (no need to buy or scribe scrolls) and aren’t affected by armour, so Clerics can turtle up to improve their survivability without any drawbacks. However, they are restricted to blunt weapons, and their only ranged option is, therefore, slings. Clerics have a d8 HP progression base and gain two points of THAC0 every three levels, which actually makes them melee-capable. In terms of Saving Throws, they have an edge against Paralysis, Poison and Death, but a weakness to Breath attacks. They get two weapon proficiency points at level 1, one more at level 4, then one every four levels, and can only spend one point per weapon type. Clerics also share the Paladin’s ability to Turn Undead, but this is only marginally useful. The most important attribute for a Cleric is Wisdom: a 17 grants access to tier 6 spells and an 18 to tier 7 ones. The kits–Priest of Talos, Priest of Helm and Priest of Lathander–each correspond to a deity and are meant to reflect the character’s alignment. They’re all good, as they all grant extra spells with no downsides, so there’s no reason not to pick one. Another thing worth noting: reaching level 25 as a Cleric grants your character a Holy Symbol of their chosen deity, which adds a one-point bonus to Strength, 5% magic resistance, as well as an extra 6th and 7th level spell. Viconia (Evil) is the only recruitable Cleric, although she doesn’t have a kit, since she serves a different deity than the three on offer.
Priest of Talos: This is the Evil kit, Talos being the god of storms and destruction. Accordingly, the extra spells are distinctly stormy in nature. The Priest of Talos may cast Lightning Bolt once per day, with an extra charge every five levels, and a unique spell called Storm Shield, which protects the caster from fire, cold and lightning, as well as normal missiles for six seconds. This can also be cast once per day, with an extra charge every 10 levels.
Priest of Helm: The Neutral kit, Helm being the god of guardians and protectors. Consequently, the spells are all about watchfulness. The Priest of Helm may case True Sight once per day, with an extra charge every five levels (on top of any True Sight spells they have memorised), and a unique spell called Seeking Sword, which creates a +4 sword. This can deal 2-8 points of damage per hit and lasts for as many rounds as the character’s level. This can be useful for some enemies, but it prevents the character from casting any more spells while the sword is active, which can be handicapping. Again, this can be cast once per day, with an extra charge every 10 levels.
Priest of Lathander: The Good kit, Lathander being the god of dawn and renewal. The spells are both anti-undead. The Priest of Lathander may cast Hold Undead once per day, with an extra charge every five levels, and a unique spell called Boon of Lathander, which lasts for six seconds per caster’s level and grants a one-point bonus to attack, damage and all Saving Throws, as well as one extra attack per round and protection against Level Drain. This can also be cast once per day, with an extra charge every 10 levels and is ideal when dealing with vampires, which you’ll be doing quite a bit.
Fighter/Cleric: Elves and halflings are barred from this combination, but there are no alignment restrictions. It is, however, slightly more problematic than the Fighter/Thief, in that, if you’re dual-classing, you need to plan carefully so as not to lose out on Cleric levels, and, therefore, spells. As a multiclass, your character will always be a few levels behind a single-class Cleric, and so will have fewer spells, but having both sets of HLAs at your command makes up for that. Either way, you’ll end up with a beefier, more melee-savvy Cleric. Both dual- and multiclassed Clerics are restricted to Cleric weapons, but where a dual-classed Fighter/Cleric can put five points into them, a multiclassed one can only put two. However, either way is better than a single-classed Cleric. Any Fighter combination will want 18 Strength, Dexterity and Constitution, but 18 Wisdom would also be great here. Anomen (Good) is the only recruitable Fighter/Cleric…even though his starting Wisdom is actually too low for him to be one.
Cleric/Thief: Only non-Lawful gnomes and humans can cook up this bizarre combination, which basically amounts to pulling a rubber band in two different directions. A Cleric is a heavily armoured, front-line spellcaster by nature, while a Thief is a stealthy backstabber who needs to stay out of the way and wear light armour to use its innate skills. Clerical weapon restrictions apply, although you can still backstab, somehow. Whichever way you slice it, dual-classing will be problematic, as your character will need to quit Thief late enough to get decently-levelled skills, but early enough to still get all Clerical spells. Multiclassing is less problematic, but you’ll have fewer spells than a single-class Cleric. This is also a combination that gets no weapon-related perks over its single-class counterparts, as you’ll still be limited to one proficiency point per weapon. Possibly the worst class of the lot. Still, if you must, you’ll need 18 Dexterity and Wisdom. There are no recruitable Cleric/Thieves.
Mage: Being a Mage in an oldschool RPG is an exercise in frustration, due to their limited spellcasting abilities, which force them to rely on ranged attacks outside of difficult fights. However, when they do get around to casting, they have some great options and are pretty much indispensable in this game, to counteract the numerous enemy casters it throws at you. Spellcasting is hampered by armour, so Mages can only wear robes or elven chainmail, which doesn’t affect spellcasting. Considering they also have the worst HP progression (d4 base), this makes them particularly vulnerable. They can use daggers or quarterstaves, darts, throwing daggers or slings, but don’t expect any miracles, as they also have the worst proficiency and THAC0 progression: one proficiency point to start, then one every six levels, and one point of THAC0 every three levels. However, they have good Saving Throws, with an edge against Wand attacks, but a weakness to Paralysis/Poison/Death. Only dwarves, half-orcs and halflings can’t be Mages. Every other race can specialise in one of the eight schools of magic, although only humans face no restrictions. Specialising grants one extra spell per tier (not necessarily from the chosen school), but prohibits spells of the opposing school(s). The results vary: where a Conjurer will barely feel the restriction, a Transmuter will be very crippled. A Mage’s most important attribute is Intelligence, although you may also want high Wisdom for the Wish spell. Some specialisations also require a minimum score in one other stat. Mages gain three points of Lore per level, with an additional bonus from high Intelligence and Wisdom, making them a legitimate source of item identification. Edwin (Evil) is the only recruitable Mage.
Abjurer: The Abjuration school focuses on protective magic, i.e. creating and negating barriers. The (major) downside is that Abjurers are barred from the Transmutation/Alteration school, which includes Haste, one of the best spells in the game. Only humans can be Abjurers and have an additional requirement of at least 15 Wisdom.
Conjurer: The best Mage specialisation, as witnessed by the fact that Edwin is one. The Conjuration school focuses on summoning spells, but cannot use any Divination spells. They’re mostly useless and/or can be covered by other characters, so it’s really not a big deal. Both humans and half-elves can be Conjurers, and have an additional requirement of at least 15 Constitution.
Diviner: The Divination school focuses on detecting hidden things, but has to give up Conjuration spells in return, which is more handicapping than the reverse. Still, you can use items to summon creatures and rely on a Cleric for protective spells, so this isn’t a bad specialisation. Humans, elves and half-elves can be Diviners, and have an additional requirement of at least 16 Wisdom.
Enchanter: Another problematic specialization. The Enchanting school focuses on manipulating enemies’ perceptions, but has to give up Invocation/Evocation spells in return. As this covers the great majority of offensive spells, including Magic Missile, you’re left with a Mage whose role is more support than damage. Humans, elves and half-elves can be Enchanters, and have an additional requirement of at least 16 Charisma.
Illusionist: This school focuses on deceiving the senses, without actually manipulating minds, but cannot use Necromantic spells. This bars them from Horrid Wilting and Death Spell, which can both come in handy against large groups of enemies. Still, it’s far from being the worst choice, and gnome Mages are forced to be Illusionists, even if they multiclass (c.f. Jan). Humans can also choose this specialisation. The additional requirement is at least 16 Dexterity.
Invoker: Another very crippling specialisation. The Invocation/Evocation school focuses on damaging spells, but is the only one to be barred from two other schools: Enchantment and Conjuration. This includes some highly useful spells such as Slow, Chaos or Greater Malison, so it’s not recommended. Only humans can be Invokers and have an additional requirement of at least 16 Constitution.
Necromancer: The Necromancy school focuses on spells that deal with life and death, but cannot use Illusion spells. This includes important protective spells, such as Blur or Mirror Image, so it’s also a rather crippling choice. Only humans can be Necromancers and have an additional requirement of at least 16 Wisdom.
Transmuter: Yet another very handicapping specialisation. The Transmutation/Alteration school focuses on spells that modify the physical properties of things. However, it’s barred from Abjuration spells, which focus on protection and the removal thereof, including the highly useful Breach or Mantle. Humans and half-elves can be Transmuters, and have an additional requirement of at least 15 Dexterity.
Fighter/Mage: Arguably the most powerful combination in the game, with no competition, as there are no Fighter/Mage companions. A dual-classed Fighter/Mage is more magic-oriented: if transitioned correctly, it will be a fearsomely durable spellslinger, with the full arsenal of a high-level Mage, but the HP, THAC0 and Saving Throws of a Fighter. A multiclassed Fighter/Mage is more melee-capable, especially with its capacity to use Fighter HLAs, despite only being able to spend two proficiency points per weapon: it can make judicious use of buffing spells to transform into an ungodly tank. It goes like this: take off armour, apply buffs, slap armour back on, antagonise some enemies, laugh as they try to harm your character. Then there is the case of the high-Constitution gnomish Fighter/Illusionist, who not only gets the luxury of extra spells, but also an Intelligence bonus and downright silly Saving Throws, due to being short. Sadly, dwarves, halflings and half-orcs can’t join in on the fun. As with all Fighter combos, 18 Strength, Dexterity and Intelligence are required, but try to get at least 16 Constitution and 14 Wisdom as well, if you want to use Wish.
Mage/Thief: A seemingly odd choice, outclassed both by the Fighter/Thief and the Fighter/Mage, but one which actually works quite well, since both classes involved need light armour to perform and work better on the sidelines. Moreover, this combination allows the Mage to use a bow instead of a sling for all those easy encounters that don’t warrant wasting spells. Still, the Mage/Thief has no other weapon-related perks, as it’s limited to one proficiency point per weapon, just as its single-class counterparts. Since one of the components is Mage, dwarves, halflings and half-orcs are out, and since the other component is Thief, Lawful characters are out too. Dual-classing is made trickier by the need to raise your thieving skills enough to be useful, but not enough to hamper spell learning. As a multiclass, you’ll always lag behind single-class Mages, unless your character is a gnome, which will grant you extra spells, better Intelligence and some thieving bonuses. 18 Dexterity and Intelligence are your attributes of choice, but you may want at least 14 Wisdom as well. There are three Mage/Thief companions: Imoen (Good), Nalia (Good) and Jan (Neutral).
Cleric/Mage: For spell-a-holics, or people who want to pack a divine and arcane caster into one to leave room for an extra companion. This is the most magic you can have on a single character, although the roles themselves are at odds. A Cleric is meant to be a front-liner, while a Mage can’t cast in heavy armour. As a dual-class option, you’ll be left with either a subpar Cleric or a subpar Mage (as it’s impossible to learn all Clerical and all Arcane spells), while, as a multiclass, you’ll have fewer spell slots to share between more spells. On top of that, a Cleric/Mage will always lag behind its single-class counterparts, but also the sturdier Fighter/Cleric and Fighter/Mage combinations, which compensate their spell handicap with melee abilities. Clerical weapon restrictions apply, although they don’t hamper a Mage’s available selection. Still, that means there are no weapon-related perks to this combination, as it only has one proficiency point per weapon type, just as both its single-class counterparts. Only humans, half-elves and gnomes can partake. 18 Wisdom and Intelligence are required here. Aerie (Good) is the only recruitable Cleric/Mage, although, as she’s an elf, it should technically be impossible.
Fighter/Mage/Thief: Also known as F/M/T. The triple-classes are for long-term planners, and you’ll have better results if you import one from the first game, rather than starting from scratch. This particular combination is available only to non-Lawful elves and half-elves, and actually functions rather well once it does hit cruising speed. It’ll lag behind its single-classed and even dual- and multiclassed counterparts something fierce, notably gaining only a third of each class’ HP (and a third of the Fighter’s Constitution bonus), and your character won’t really be much of a Mage. Still, the end result is a versatile, jack-of-all-trades character, mixing three classes that actually cohabit rather well. A bit like a Bard, but with a full set of Thief skills, rather than just Pick Pockets, the ability to backstab and better melee skills, since an F/M/T will be able to allocate two proficiency points per weapon, compared to a Bard’s one. The Fighter/Mage wins out in terms of potency, but the comparison is less clear-cut with a Fighter/Thief. Still, it’s a bit too much variety for my tastes. Like the Fighter/Mage, you will need 18 Strength, Dexterity and Intelligence. There are no triple-classed companions.
Fighter/Mage/Cleric: Also known as F/M/C. Only a half-elf can get into this mess, which suffers from the same problems as a Mage/Cleric does, with the added handicap of even fewer spells. Your character will be a tad hardier, although they’ll only obtain a third of each class’ HP and a third of the Fighter Constitution bonus. They won’t be able to wear heavy armour, which hampers meleeing, and they won’t be any better than a Mage in terms of ranged attacks, since Clerical weapon restrictions leave them with only slings (where a Fighter/Mage would be able to use a bow). This is definitely the worst of the two triple-classes, as its versatility doesn’t counterbalance its shortcomings. It doesn’t help that this combination relies on so many attributes. 18 Strength, Intelligence and Wisdom are a must, but you could just forget about getting 18 Dexterity and rely on the Gauntlets of Dexterity instead, so that you can get at least 16 Constitution. There are no triple-classed companions.
Ranger: Stealthy fighters and protectors of nature. It’s an interesting class, particularly for an elf, as it lends itself particularly well to a ranged fighting style. Rangers have a d10 base HP progression and can only be Good-aligned humans, elves or half-elves. They can use any type of weapon or armour, but heavy armour will impede their Stealth skill, which is similar to a Thief’s Hide in Shadows, except that it levels automatically. Rangers can’t backstab, but it allows them to scout their surroundings. They can also charm animals, but this is useless past the first few levels. More interestingly, they can pick a favoured enemy type (e.g. vampires for Minsc), against which they’ll get a 4-point THAC0 and damage bonus. They gain one point of THAC0 per level, four starting proficiency points, one more at level 3, then one every three levels, with the proviso that they can only spend two points per weapon type. They also share the second-best Saving Throws with Fighters, with an edge against Paralysis/Poison/Death, but a weakness to Spells. Rangers also start gaining Druidic spells (up to tier 3) at level 8. In terms of attributes, depending on whether you want to use melee weapons or not, you may or may not want an 18 in Strength. 18 Dexterity and Constitution are a must, however, since a Ranger will get a Constitution bonus for every point above 16. They also need a minimum of 14 Wisdom (which means that Minsc isn’t actually allowed to be one…). Available kits are Archer, Stalker and Beastmaster. There are two recruitable Rangers: Minsc and Valygar, although only the latter has a kit.
Archer: In and of itself, this is an awesome kit, designed to turn a Ranger into a deadly sniping machine. It gains a one-point bonus to attack and damage with any ranged weapon every three levels (every five levels in ToB). Moreover, once every four levels, it gains the ability to make a Called Shot, the effects of which differ depending on the level (although, at level 16, this only does extra damage, while lower levels have much more interesting options). As a counterpart, an Archer can only put one point into any melee weapon and cannot wear metal armour. Considering that it’s clearly designed to stay out of melee range, this isn’t really a problem. What’s far more problematic is that the highest tier of arrows available in the game is +3, while some enemies can only be damaged by +4 or higher weapons. This is a severe handicap and the single most serious argument against this kit. Because otherwise, it would rock.
Stalker: Remember when I said that Rangers couldn’t backstab? Well, now they can! This kit makes the Ranger behave somewhat like a Thief, by giving it a backstab multiplier (the maximum is 3), a 20% bonus to its Stealth skill and three arcane spells at level 12, which include the ever-so-useful Haste. The downside–if it really is one–is that they may not wear metal armour, but then neither would a Thief, so it’s really not too bad. What you’re getting here is a more versatile version of a Fighter/Thief, albeit with less interesting HLAs. This is Valygar’s chosen kit.
Beastmaster: Making a Ranger resemble a Druid may make sense, since they do, after all, get Druidic spells, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea. This kit gives the Ranger a 15% bonus to Stealth and the ability to summon animals like a Druid. Do they make a difference in a fight? Not really. What’s more, Beastmasters can’t use metallic weapons, just like Druids.
Cleric/Ranger: Three races have access to this combination: humans, half-elves and half-orcs. And while it may not trump a dual-classed Fighter/Cleric, it’s better than a multiclassed one for the simple reason that the Ranger grants the exact same bonuses as a Fighter, but also access to all Druidic spells (even those past tier 3, which a single-classed Ranger can’t learn) in addition to Clerical ones. This makes for a more versatile divine magic user than a Fighter/Cleric, with no drawbacks. The character still faces the same weapon restrictions as a Cleric, but can put two proficiency points in them, unlike a single-class Cleric. They also retain the ability to pick a favoured enemy type and can even scout at a pinch, provided you remove their armour beforehand. Unlike a single-class Ranger, a Cleric/Ranger can only use slings as ranged weapons, so 18 Strength will be helpful for meleeing. 18 Dexterity and Wisdom are also a must. A Ranger also requires a minimum of 15 Constitution, which applies when dual-classing as one (but not when multiclassing). There are no recruitable Cleric/Rangers.
Druid: Similar to Clerics, in that they serve mainly as healers, although they derive their powers directly from nature and level faster (up to a certain point). Due to their commitment to natural balance, Druids can only be True Neutral. Moreover, they can only be human or half-elven. They have a d8 HP progression base, gain two points of THAC0 every three levels and good Saving Throws against Paralysis/Poison/Death, but have a weakness to Breath attacks. They also share many spells with Clerics, but have more of an offensive focus and lack some important beneficial spells like Protection from Evil 10’ Radius. Moreover, they have an aversion to metal, which restricts them to light armour and, in the weapon department, clubs, quarterstaves, spears, slings and darts. Although they can also use daggers and scimitars, somehow. Druids start out with two proficiency points, gain another one at level 4, then one every four levels, although they can only spend one point per weapon type. Druids gain a 10% resistance to fire, cold, electricity and acid at level 18, 21 and 24, as well as immunity to poison. They can also shapeshift into bears or wolves, although this is, frankly, useless. In short, Clerics have the upper hand. However, if you really want to make a Druid, Wisdom is the attribute to prioritise, with a 17 for tier 6 spells, and an 18 for tier 7. For some reason, you also need a minimum of 15 Charisma, even though Wisdom is the attribute that determines spell potency. Fair warning: there’s an inexplicably huge experience gap for a Druid between level 14 and 15, but you get a significant boost in the number of available spells. Available kits are: Totemic Druid, Shapeshifter and Avenger. Cernd is the only recruitable Druid.
Totemic Druid: Instead of shapeshifting, which they forfeit altogether, Totemic Druids can summon one of four ‘spirit’ animals (chosen randomly) once per day, with an extra charge every five levels. The problem is that, while they may be handy early on, their usefulness will take a nosedive as you progress through the game. Mind you, they’re still better than the Druid’s regular shapeshifting forms.
Shapeshifter: The problem with this kit is that it’s bugged in the vanilla version of the game. However, even with a mod to fix it, it’s still not good. It has the possibility to transform into a werewolf and, eventually, into a greater werewolf, and while this gives its stats a hefty boost, it means that it can’t use any weapons or armour at all. In other words, useless. And of course, it’s Cernd’s kit of choice.
Avenger: This is probably the least useless Druid kit, but it’s still not great. The Avenger receives two more shapeshifting forms and six additional Arcane spells, which isn’t bad, but, as a counterpart, it can’t wear anything heavier than Leather Armour. What’s more problematic is that it receives a two-point penalty to Strength and Constitution on character creation. No, thanks.
Fighter/Druid: This is to a Fighter/Cleric what a single-class Druid is to a single-class Cleric: same perks, same drawbacks. First of all, only True Neutral human or half-elven characters need apply. Secondly, the spell selection is arguably inferior to a Cleric’s. The Fighter/Druid also faces the same weapon restrictions as a single-class Druid, but that allows scimitars, which are a decent choice. Moreover, a multiclassed Fighter/Druid has two proficiency points per weapon, to a single-class Druid’s one, while a dual-classed Fighter/Druid has five. A Fighter/Druid also benefits from the better armour selection of its Fighter component. Dual-classed Fighter/Druids need to plan when to switch, while multiclassed ones will lag behind their single-class counterparts. This problem is further exacerbated by the inexplicably large experience gap between a level 14 and a level 15 Druid. The main problem with this combination is that, in addition to 18 Strength, Dexterity and Wisdom, a dual-classed Fighter/Druid needs 17 Charisma (this isn’t an issue for multiclassers). This is tricky, because you ideally want a high Constitution as well. Jaheira is the only recruitable Fighter/Druid.
Barbarian: This is one of the three new classes added in BGII. Although, for all intents and purposes, it could just be a Fighter kit. Barbarians can use any weapon and have the same progression in terms of Saving Throws (edge against Paralysis/Poison/Death, weakness to Spells), THAC0 (one point per level) and proficiency (four initial points, then an extra one at level 3 and one every three levels afterwards). And while the manual states that they have a base d12 HP progression, in effect, it’s base d10, just like Fighters. However, they move faster, are immune to backstabbing and gain a 10% resistance to piercing, crushing, slashing and missile damage at level 11, with an additional 5% at level 15 and 19. What’s more, they have a rage ability much like Berserkers, albeit with fewer drawbacks: it doesn’t last as long, but it’s usable once per day, with an additional charge every four levels, and your character won’t be winded afterwards. It grants a four-point bonus to Constitution and Strength, as well as immunity to a slew of negative status effects, in exchange for a two-point penalty to AC. It’s also supposed to grant a two-point bonus to Saving Throws, but, due to coding mishaps, the reverse happens. The real drawbacks are that Barbarians can’t wear any plate armour, which can be handicapping until you hit ToB, and can’t spend more than two points per weapon type, which puts a damper on their damage output. All in all, Fighters are more versatile, even though this isn’t a bad class. Just as with a Fighter, you’ll want an 18 in Strength, Dexterity and Constitution. There are no racial restrictions, but Barbarians can’t be Lawful. They also can’t dual- or multiclass. There are no recruitable Barbarians.
Sorcerer: Another new class that can’t be dual- or multiclassed. Only humans, elves and half-elves can partake. Sorcerers are very similar to Mages. They have the same progression in terms of HP (d4 base), THAC0 (one point every three levels) and proficiency (one point at level 1, then one every six levels), as well as the same Saving Throws (edge against Wands, weakness to Paralysis/Poison/Death). They also have the same weapon selection (daggers or quarterstaves, darts, throwing daggers or slings), can only spend one point per weapon type and need to wear robes so as not to hinder their spellcasting. The difference is that they don’t need to constantly re-memorise their spells and can cast one more spell per day per tier, just like a specialist Mage, without the handicap of school restriction. They also don’t need scrolls to learn spells; they simply learn new ones each time they level up. The problem is that they’re limited in the amount of spells they learn per tier (a maximum of five for tier 1-7 and four for tiers 8 and 9), ending up with a much narrower selection than a Mage. While this does reduce their versatility, there aren’t that many spells that you’ll want to use on a regular basis, so it’s not as handicapping as you may think. What’s more, Sorcerers don’t need an 18 in Intelligence, as they can’t increase the number of spells they can learn (although they do need a minimum of 9), so 18 in Dexterity and 16 in Constitution has them covered, as well as a minimum of 9 Charisma. There are no recruitable Sorcerers.
Bard: A support class that can do many things, but won’t be great in any of them. Bards can only be Neutral humans or half-elves, and they can’t dual- or multiclass. Their special ability, Bard Song, ties them up for the duration of a battle, but grants a one-point THAC0 and Saving Throw bonus, as well as a two-point morale bonus for the entire party. On top of that, they can cast arcane spells up to tier 6, which, if paired with a full-time Mage, could be helpful for outsourcing situationally useful spells. Bards share several similarities with Thieves: they have a base d6 HP progression, can only wear light armour and are restricted from two-handed weapons, katana, scimitars, maces, axes and heavy projectile weapons. They also start with two weapon proficiency points, get another one at level 4, and then one every four levels, but they can only put one point in a weapon type. They gain one point of THAC0 every two levels, but share the worst Saving Throws with Thieves, particularly against Breath attacks, with their best score (Wands) being only average when compared to other classes. Bards can Pick Pockets, although this score will level automatically. It doesn’t replace a Thief, but it may allow one to put more points in a different skill. A Bard’s attribute requirements are a minimum of 15 Charisma, 12 Dexterity (might as well get 18) and 13 Intelligence (ditto). Bards get a whopping 10 points of Lore per level, plus an extra bonus with high Intelligence, making them the go-to class for identifying items. Available kits are: Blade, Jester and Skald. Haer’Dalis is the only recruitable Bard.
Blade: This is Haer’Dalis’ chosen kit, and the game’s attempt at turning a Bard into a frontline character. Blades can put three points into Two Weapons, and can use Offensive Spin and Defensive Spin once per day, with an extra charge every four levels. Offensive Spin grants a one-point bonus to attack, a two-point bonus to damage and one extra attack, with all attacks doing maximum damage for four turns. It doesn’t stack with Haste, but you can use Oils of Speed or Boots of Speed to compensate for that. Defensive Spin also lasts four turns and roots the character in place in exchange for a one-point AC bonus per level (capped at 10). That’s a pretty hefty bonus, but being unable to move is a big problem, unless you use up a ring slot for a Ring of Free Action. A Blade’s Pick Pockets and Lore scores are also halved, and their Bard Song doesn’t improve over time. This isn’t a big deal, so it’s not a bad kit, if you can counterbalance its flaws.
Jester: The only difference between a regular Bard and a Jester is that their Bard Song is offensive rather than defensive, with the basic effect of rendering enemies confused (even though they get a +4 bonus to their Saving Throws). This is a minor perk, at best, which makes this the worst of the Bard kits.
Skald: A different approach to reconciling the offensive and defensive elements of the Bard class and definitely a successful one. Skalds gain a one-point bonus to attack and damage with all weapons, but also the (almost) equivalent of the Bard’s HLA, Enhanced Bard Song, from the get go. This is miles better than the regular Bard Song, granting a two-point bonus to attack, damage and AC, with an extra two-point bonus and immunity to Fear at level 15, and additional immunities to Stun and Confusion at level 20. The only downside is that a Skald’s Pick Pockets score is quartered. Honestly, if you want your Bhaalspawn to be a Bard, there’s no reason not to pick this kit over the regular class.
Paladin: One of the two most restrictive classes: only Lawful Good humans need apply, and there are no dual- or multiclass options. They can only spend two proficiency points per weapon, so they’ll never be as good in melee as Fighters, but they have everything else that makes a Fighter good, plus some extra perks. Paladins have a base d10 HP progression, gain one point of THAC0 per level, start out with four proficiency points, gain an extra one at level 3 and then one every three levels. They also have the best Saving Throws in the game, since they have the same base as Fighters and Rangers (edge against Paralysis/Poison/Death, weakness to Spells) plus a two-point bonus in every category. They also have Detect Evil, Protection from Evil, Turn Undead and Lay on Hands as special abilities, the latter being a form of minor healing. Paladins also gain Clerical spells (up to tier 4) starting from level 9. What’s more, they make perfect party leaders due to their minimum requirement of 17 Charisma. They also need a minimum of 13 Wisdom. Other than that, 18 Strength, Dexterity and Constitution, especially since they also gain bonus HP for every Constitution point above 16, like Fighters and Rangers do. Keldorn is the only recruitable Paladin.
Cavalier: The second-best Paladin kit. Cavaliers get a three-point bonus to attack and damage against dragons (rare) and demons (more common). They can also cast Remove Fear once per day and get an extra charge per level. What’s more, they’re immune to Fear, morale failure, Charm and Poison, AND get a 20% resistance to fire and acid. The flipside is that they can’t use missile weapons, but that’s a minor handicap compared to all the perks on offer.
Inquisitor: This is Keldorn’s chosen kit and one of the best kits in the entire game, all classes combined. It forfeits many abilities of a regular Paladin–Clerical spells, Turn Undead and Lay on Hands–, which may sound handicapping, but really, a Cleric is always going to be better for that. Instead, Inquisitors can cast True Sight and Dispel Magic once per day at twice their level, gaining an extra charge every four levels. This means that their Dispel Magic spell is more potent than normal, thus making them particularly adept at dealing with enemy defences or negative status effects on the party, and that you don’t need to waste any other characters’ spell slots on True Sight. What’s more, they’re immune to Charm and Hold. What’s not to like?
Undead Hunter: The worst of the Paladin kits, although it’s still not too shabby. The Undead Hunter forfeits Lay on Hands in exchange for a three-point bonus to attack and damage against undead (very abundant), and an immunity to both Hold and Level Drain. This is ideal for tackling vampires, of which you will encounter a whole lot. Still, this is a more situationally-useful kit than the other two.
Monk: The third new class added in BGII. It can’t be dual- or multiclassed either and is only available to Lawful humans. Monks are martial arts specialists, forgoing armour for the sake of mobility. They have a base d8 HP progression and start out with two proficiency points, gaining an extra one at level 4, then one every four levels after that. They can use the same weapons as a Thief, but are better with their bare hands. Monks gain a whole plethora of bonuses as they level. To wit: half an unarmed attack per round every three levels (capping at four per round at level 18) and two points of damage every three levels until level 17. Their AC improves by one point every two levels until level 21, then one point every three, then every five levels until level 40. They also get a one-point AC bonus against missiles every three levels. They start off with very good Saving Throws, with an edge against Paralysis/Poison/Death, but a weakness to Breath attacks, and gain a two-point bonus against Spells, as well as a further one-point bonus to all Saving Throws at level 9. They start out with a movement bonus, gaining further bonuses every five levels. They become immune to diseases, as well as both Slow and Haste at level 5, Charm at level 9, Poison at level 11 and normal weapons at level 20. At level 14, they start gaining 3% magic resistance per level, capping at 78% at level 26. At level 7, they get Lay on Hands; at level 13, an ability called Quivering Palm, usable once per day, which kills any enemy that doesn’t save against it. Their fists are also considered as magical weapons starting at level 9. They can even scout, as they have access to Hide in Shadows, Move Silently and Find Traps (but can’t disarm them). So what are the downsides? Well, first of all, the enchantment cap for fists is +3, which is very handicapping in the later stages of the game and ToB. Monks can’t benefit from Improved Haste, and a heavily armoured Fighter or Paladin has better AC, which can be problematic, especially since Monks have worse HP. If this doesn’t deter you, Monks need a minimum of 9 Wisdom. 18 Strength and Dexterity are a must, and 16 Constitution is nice as well. There are no Monk companions.