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Basic game tips (for new players!)

WinthalWinthal Member Posts: 366
edited September 2012 in New Players (NO SPOILERS!)
Some folks asked me to re-post this in a new thread, it's intended to help new players get their bearings and help clear up some confusion with the adopted 2:nd ED ruleset for those unfamiliar with the PnP stuff. Replies are welcome - especially replies that add to the tips to help newcomers! (or to correct something I've gotten wrong or explained in an inadequate way).

WARNING WALL OF TEXT AHEAD!!! Readers beware, side effects include (but are not limited to) severe nose-bleeds, headaches, mild hallucinations (Boo, is that you?) and hunger-pains (tacos are yummey).


I - Thac0 & AC

Thac0 means "to hit armor class 0", and the number actually goes down into the negatives - the lower the better. The whole D&D system is based on rolling a twenty sided die, so if you have a 15 thac0 on your fighter and attack an enemy with 0 armor class, you need to roll 15 or more on the die to hit. Now if the enemy had 4 armor class, you would only need 11 or more on the die - you see armor class also runs down into the negatives - the lower the better. It's a bit confusing I know, but that's how the system was designed. I'm putting this first because it's probably the one thing you can't (easily) pick up by using your intuition.

II - Attributes

Each class has a primary attribute, this isn't crucial, but it helps alot when making your main character and choosing which NPC's to use in your party. When you create your main character, you'll roll these stats randomly, if you're not satisfied with your initial roll, just keep rolling until you get a good one (as a rule, if you can add up to 15 in every single stat, you have a pretty solid score - then re-arrange them appropriately to fit your class, like say strength and constitution on a fighter). Here's what each attribute does in the game:

Strength - Adds damage and thac0 to melee attacks, determines how much your character can carry as well as how heavy weapons he/she can wield (for instance two-handed swords are heavier and requires a higher strength score to wield than say a longsword or a dagger.) Fighters, Rangers and Paladins usually want to invest here. Strength can also be used to force open (bash) locked containers and doors, but it is nowhere near as effective/successful as a thief using pick locks.

Dexterity - Adds directly to armor class and thac0 for ranged attacks (not damage). Every class in the game benefits from a high dexterity, ranged characters and thieves especially (since thieves gain bonuses to their thieving skills based on dexterity).

Constitution - Adds directly to how many hit points your character starts with, and affects hit point gains on every level-up after. Again, this attribute is good for every class in the game - but not all classes gain the full bonuses of having a maxed out constitution, most classes actually only benefit up to 16, while fighters, rangers and paladins gain benefits all the way up to 18 and beyond.

Intelligence - Affects lore (the ability to identify magic items by simply looking at them) and the % chance of memorizing a spell for wizards and bards. It doesn't actually add any more spell-slots - only the maximum number of spells you can learn, so this attribute isn't as important as it might seem for int-based casters. Sorcerers gain no benefit at all from intelligence and is better of investing in other ability scores.

Wisdom - Also affects lore along with Intelligence, but primarily affects number of spells for clerics and druids (the healer caster classes).

Charisma - Doesn't actually do that much in the game, it makes some quest rewards possible that wouldn't otherwise be etc. but nothing crucial...

Another important thing to note is that attributes don't actually start giving any tangible benefits until after a certain point. Strength works like this for instance:

15 str = no bonuses
16 str = +1 to damage
17 str = + 1 thac0 and damage
18 str = +1 thac0, +2 to damage
18/01-50 = +1 thac0, +3 to damage
18/51-75 = +2 thac0, +3 to damage
18/76-90 = +2 thac0, +4 to damage
18/91-99 = +2 thac0, +5 to damage
18/00 = +3 thac0, +6 to damage

This is as much as you can get on character creation, but the ingame cap is at 25. Strength is the only attribute that has these tiers between 18 - 19, all other attributes simply makes the leap in one go. Fighters, Rangers and Paladins are the only classes that can have a strength higher than 18 (on creation).

III - Classes

Thieves - Every party needs one. They open locked doors/chests and spots/disarms lethal traps allowing the rest of the party safe passage. They're OK in a fight too, especially if you use a ranged weapon like a bow - or use a stealth attack. If your thief is hidden and positioned behind an enemy with a melee weapon (dagger, short sword or longsword), he can perform a backstab attack to devastating effects...

Fighters, Rangers, Paladins - The heavy hitters and tankers of the game. These classes differ from one another somewhat, but they can all wear heavy armor and wield just about any weapon, and gets the same thac0 and hit point tables - so the core is the same. Fighters can specialize more in weapons than any other class (up to 5 stars instead of just 1 or 2), which grants him more damage and thac0. Rangers can use stealth while wearing light armor, use charm animal skills to tame wild/hostile animals, and detect traps (but not disarm them), on high levels rangers can also cast some rudimentary spells from the druid spell selection. Paladins can heal themselves once per day (lay on hands), detect evil characters from afar and cast protection spells vs. evil, like rangers they also gain access to some basic spells at high levels, but from the cleric spell selection instead. These classes usually make up the bulk of the party, and keeps the weaker classes safe by taking on aggro. You'll want at least one up front, but could easily use 2-3.

Wizards - These guys are very fragile, especially at low levels when they pretty much bite the dust if someone so much as looks at them wrong or a stiff breeze rolls by. Their damage output is also quite weak on low levels, but as they grow in power, they slowly start to outshine pretty much any class out there. The wizard can do almost anything, turn himself into stone to ward of attacks, cast searing balls of fire to clear away whole rooms of enemies at a time, summon creatures, turn invisible... you get the point. You'll definitely want a wizard in your group, two would probably work fine too if you can protect them. Another option is to use one full-fledged wizard, and a hybrid wizard (like say a thief/mage multi-class combo). On character creation, you can choose between being a regular mage or a specialist mage. Regular mages have no penalties and can cast every single spell in the game. Specialist mages can cast 1 more spell per day when compared to regular mages, but cannot cast any spells from the wizard school opposite of their chosen school. A good choice here is conjurer since their opposite school is divination, a school containing spells that are pretty much useless... this way you gain an extra spell slot at almost no penalty.

Bards - An odd hybrid class, kind of a "jack of all trades" guy. He can cast some wizard spells, use the pick-pocket thievery skill, and use any weapon in the game (but he doesn't hit very hard compared to the fighter classes). Bards also have access to a unique ability, the bard song. This ability buffs the entire party with bonuses, but as long as the bard sings, he cannot attack or cast spells or the song is broken. Bards are definitely fun, but hardly crucial to a party. On high levels (in BG2) they start to really shine and can become very deadly, but for BG1... they're merely OK. Use at your own discretion.

Clerics and Druids - The only classes that can cast healing spells on other characters (technically, paladins and rangers also can, but since they gain their spells fairly late they won't be as potent by then). You'll be dead without one or two of these. There's simply no good way of healing without them (aside from drinking healing potions, but that quickly sinks your economy into the ground). If you have more than one, you can also spread out the healing responsibilities more, and take some of their offensive abilities. Druids can summon animals to fight for the party for instance, and Clerics can summon undead skeletons. In a fight, they are pretty much on par with the thief class.

Multi and Dual-classes - Some races can choose two or three classes on character creation, these characters basically become hybrids of these classes and gain experience in them separately. This may sound completely over-powered, but the problem is they gain experience much slower than single-class characters since all experience is spread out over several classes, they also cannot become as high level since the game uses a level-cap - which means after a character has gained a certain amount of experience points, he cannot gain any more. So while a multi-classed character might be more versatile, he definitely misses out in the long run... you have to decide if the tradeoff is worth it. As for Dual-class, this option is only available to humans. It works differently from multi class in that you don't choose a second class on char creation, but rather at a later stage during the game - you actually choose to stop gaining experience in your current class and start gaining experience in a new one. For instance you might be a thief with really high strength, choosing to stop gaining experience in your thief class and start gaining fighter experience. After your new class reaches 1 level higher than your original class level, you'll retain all the abilities you gained in your first class, and continue to level in your new one. Dual-classing is definitely more tricky and should probably only be used once you're familiar with the game mechanics more.

Dual-Class Requirments
-Human race
-Original class' main attribute(s) is equal to or higher than 15
-Dualed class' main attribute(s) is equal to or higher than 17
-Your alignment must be "valid" for both classes (Example: Druids have to be 'True Neutral', and so in order to dual class to a druid your character has to share this alignment).
-The dual class has to be a valid multi-class combination!

Another example: a human wizard that wants to dual class into a fighter would need a minimum of 15 intelligence, and 17 strength to be eligible.

NOTE: bards, paladins, barbarians, monks & sorcerers cannot dual-class under any circumstances.

Classes & Kits added in Baldur's Gate 2

Barbarian - Another version of the fighter class. The Barbarian gains more hit points than the other classes (1D12 hit dice instead of 1D10 for fighters, paladins & rangers), he also has a "rage" ability that grants him temporary combat prowess one or more times per day during battle - as a tradeoff barbarians cannot wear heavy armor, and therefore suffers in the armor class department.

Monk - The Monk is a unique class and doesn't really use any of the other basic classes as a template. Instead of using weapons, the monk fights unarmed using his fists (think Kung-Fu style). Monks gain less hit points and thac0 than fighters, but gain a number of benefits on later levels like magic resistance, speed, saving throws, self-healing and immunities. I would not recommend the monk for Baldur's Gate 1 since monks only become powerful during mid to late-game in BG2/Throne of Bhaal expansion.

Sorcerer - Pretty much identical to wizards in every respect except how they learn new spells and the number of available spells they have at their disposal each day. Instead of finding scrolls or buying spells from magic shops, sorcerers get to choose their spells at each level up from a pre-existing list (that contains all spells in the game, for that level). The drawback is that sorcerers cannot learn as many spells as wizards, and therefore lack the diversity and adaptability of wizards, they also learn new spell levels a little bit slower than wizards (about 1 level behind up to level 12 where their spell progression catches up) - on the plus side they can cast their spells more often! The choice between a sorcerer and a wizard comes down to play style, do you like having every spell in the game available to you? Do you want to be versatile and useful in any situation? Or do you prefer to cast a set of selected spells over and over (like say spamming fireballs) to devastating effects? I would recommend the Sorcerer if you want to be a more offensive caster, I find them to be very powerful damage dealers. A case could also be made for sorcerers being more diverse than wizards when you haven't had time to prepare and/or anticipate what spells you'll need. The sorcerer will always have an equal amount of casts for each spell level for all spells he/she knows, so if the situation calls for it the sorc can cast 5 breach spells (example) in a row to remove those pesky magical defenses on hostile casters like liches, or he can spam an equal amount of offensive damage dealing spells from the same level, or renew a ton of stone skins in a row to tank damage - all without ever needing to reload, memorize appropriate new spells and rest for 8 hours to be useful.

Wild Mage - A special class of wizard quite unlike the others, the wild mage is a more random and chaotic spell caster. When casting spells there is a 5% chance a "wild surge" will occur, altering the effect of the spell that was cast in one of a hundred ways (randomly selected from a chart). The full wild surge chart can be found here.

Kits - I won't go into the specific details of every kit in the game, but rather explain what a kit is. Basically, a kit is a specialization of one of the basic character classes. Each of the core classes has 3 kits to choose from, each one with specific benefits and drawbacks. Let's take the Paladin class as an example: the three kits are Inquisitor (a paladin specialized in hunting down and combating evil casters, gaining special abilities to dispel magical effects) Undead Hunter (a paladin who excels at eradicating undead creatures, gaining massive bonuses to thac0 and damage vs. all undead foes) Cavalier (a classic knight who fights demons and dragons exceedingly well). The power balance of kits are somewhat off, often making the kits more powerful than the original class they stem from. I highly recommend choosing a kit for your main character! Not only are they powerful, but they also add a lot of flavor.

IV - Basic Game/Combat Tips

1. In combat, your best friend is the space bar, hitting it pauses the game and allows you to plan a strategy, give orders to your party members and choose spells from the caster menus without panicking.

2. On early levels, bow-weapons are very effective since you can kill enemies before they reach you - avoiding any possible damage they could have dealt. Bow weapons are also very fast, granting more attacks per round than other weapons - for this reason, I highly recommend spending proficiency points in bows at character creation. If your class cannot be proficient with bows, then any of the other ranged weapons like crossbows or slings will do just fine. It's not a bad idea to have each character in the entire party equipped with a ranged weapon and a melee weapon to switch between. Note: Do NOT use ranged weapons in melee range, your thac0 takes a severe penalty when firing at close range and enemies receive a bonus to hit you

3. Clicking an enemy orders the character you have selected to attack it, one click is enough, after that the character will keep on attacking the assigned target until it is dead (or the character itself dies). More clicks does not make the character attack faster - like say in Diablo.

4. Kill casters first! Wizards are especially lethal to your party since they can cast area spells that affect your whole group simultaneously. Clerics are a big nuisance as well, often casting hold person spells that will paralyze one or more of your party members if they fail their passive save checks. Targeting these enemies first is usually a good idea.

5. When walking into new areas/exploring, make sure to lead out with your fighter-classes or the characters with the most hit points and armor class. It's all too easy for wizards to walk into a couple of archers and get mowed down. So, tanks go first!

6. Press Q to Quick Save your game often! This helps tremendously when you're new to the game and every area you walk into is potentially lethal.

7. If an area is too difficult for you (i.e you keep dying and dying and...) then leave and come back later after you've gained a few levels and/or new items.

8. Focusing down enemies is a good tactic for quickly finishing off enemies, especially tougher opponents with lots of HP and/or AC. When facing weaker enemies, spreading out your attacks is favorable. During "boss fights" it usually pays off to clear away all minions first, then focusing down the boss last.

9. A solid tactic when facing a single strong melee combatant is to spread out and use ranged weapons while a character (preferably with high armor class and HP) lures the enemy to pursue him/her, running around in circles not letting the enemy actually get in melee range - all the while the rest of your party rains down death upon it. This requires a lot of well-timed pausing and positioning to pull off but will likely be your only chance vs. some foes at low levels.

10. Some enemies will be immune to the damage you deal to it with normal weapons, in these cases you need a magical weapon or spells to deal damage properly. Some enemies are also especially susceptible to certain damage types of weapons, one example of this is skeletons being very weak vs. blunt damage (dealt by warhammers, maces and flails).

11. Beware of Basilisks! These lizard-like creatures attack you at range with gaze attacks that turn you into stone if you fail your passive saving throw - if the main character is turned to stone the game ends immediately. There are ways of becoming immune to these attacks but I'll let you figure out how on your own ;)

12. When exploring dungeons be wary of traps! Make sure the party thief has a good amount of detect and disarm traps and scout ahead a few steps in front of the rest of the group. Note: the thieving skills actually go up beyond 100%, but there is no need to raise them above this (at least not in BG1). I highly recommend focusing on opening locks and finding/disarming traps from the get-go, leaving hide in shadows and pick pocket for later since they aren't as important.

13. Save invisibility potions you find and hand them out to fragile party members - they can help your characters survive in a pinch! Example: your party is ambushed by a gang of archers while traveling, your mages will most likely be exposed to arrows and not have enough time to cast any defensive spells (or might be out of spells if you're leaving an area without having rested), 1-2 arrows is all that it takes to fell a low level wizard, so having that invisibility potion in your quick-bar will be a life saver in situations like these.

14. If at any time you feel at a loss of what to do or where to go next, consult your journal!

Ok then, I should probably stop writing before I create half an instruction manual. Hopefully, my blabbering will make sense once you get into the game and get some first-hand experience with what I've been talking about, right now it might be a tad confusing.
Post edited by Tanthalas on


  • ScooterScooter Member Posts: 182
    Nice post mate, maybe should add that dual classing is only possible if your character meets some requirements of that class such as sufficiently high requisite attributes for the second class, proper alignment (such as true neutral if you want to dual class into a Druid) and if the class combination already exists as a possible multi-class combination such as fighter/thief, fighter/druid, mage/cleric etc
  • CheesebellyCheesebelly Member Posts: 1,727
    I believe the minimum requirements for dual classing are :

    -Human race
    -First class' main attribute(s) equals or is major than 15
    -Dualed class' main attribute(s) equals or is major than 17
    -An alignment available for both classes

    And of course, as @Scooter mentioned, it must exist as a multi-class combination (except for specialist mages in BG1, but that's different in BG2)
  • lansounetlansounet Member Posts: 1,182
    IV. 2. I don't know about the thac0 penalty at point blank but your attacker also gets a hit bonus (+4?)
  • WinthalWinthal Member Posts: 366
    edited July 2012
    lansounet said:

    IV. 2. I don't know about the thac0 penalty at point blank but your attacker also gets a hit bonus (+4?)

    @lansounet I was unsure about the exact specifics, it seems like the bonus for enemies to hit you was only added in the BG2 engine? Anyway, the gist of it is: ranged weapons in melee = bad for your health. The exact rules/details are not as important for new players.

    @Cheesebelly @Scooter added :)

  • lansounetlansounet Member Posts: 1,182
    Maybe it's only from BG2 I don't know. You're right the details aren't so important, it just can be a life-saver to switch to melee weapon (or even fists) when an enemy starts chasing your - weak ranged attacker - and may connect a few attack rolls.
  • MedillenMedillen Member Posts: 632
    IV.2 actually... every characters should have some sort of ranged weapons. It's not exclusive to bows, if you can't have them then slings are also reliable (albeit they won't be as much reliable once the strengh bonus dissappear from BGEE ^^). You also should have one crossbow, just because you WILL find magical bolt and it's a shame not to use them =) A low-level team full of range attacks can survive the first areas easily.
  • WinthalWinthal Member Posts: 366
    Medillen said:

    IV.2 actually... every characters should have some sort of ranged weapons. It's not exclusive to bows, if you can't have them then slings are also reliable (albeit they won't be as much reliable once the strengh bonus dissappear from BGEE ^^). You also should have one crossbow, just because you WILL find magical bolt and it's a shame not to use them =) A low-level team full of range attacks can survive the first areas easily.

    @Medillen Agreed, but bows add extra attacks per round and are therefore highly superior :)
  • MedillenMedillen Member Posts: 632
    @Winthal my point was more to stress out the fact that your whole team should be hence equipped. Not just your personnal character ^^ For beginners, this is a gold tip ! (but yeah, bows are supreme in BG1, even more in the hand of elves)
  • WinthalWinthal Member Posts: 366
    @Medillen Aye, I gotcha :) I added a note about other ranged weapons for characters who cannot wield bows.
  • powerfulallypowerfulally Member Posts: 261
    @Winthal Mind if I translate it to Polish and put it in the subforum? New people could get some help and they're often confused about the rules.
  • tpowltpowl Member Posts: 35
  • tpowltpowl Member Posts: 35
    But seriously...thanks for posting because although I have the original BG, I've never gave myself time to dive into the game so this tip does help!!
  • WinthalWinthal Member Posts: 366
    @powerfulally Absolutely not! I have copyrights you know!!!! (I'm kidding, of course you can use it :D Let me know if you want me to email it to you so you'll get the same format + embedded image)

    @tpowl glad you found it useful!
  • powerfulallypowerfulally Member Posts: 261
    @Winthal that's not necessary, I can just look into the page's source, I did the same with translating announcements ;)
  • TanthalasTanthalas Member Posts: 6,738
    Going to announcementize this one so it doesn't get buried again.
  • Space_hamsterSpace_hamster Member Posts: 950
    In BG 1, have your weaker characters keep a potion of invisibility in the quick slot, can come in handy if in need of a QUICK escape.
  • MedillenMedillen Member Posts: 632
    @Winthal a good tips is to be on the lookout for traps, especially undergrounds or in dungeons. I remember being slaughtered by a trap early in Nashkel mines. And another tip about thief, is that getting higher then 100% is not really useful as far as BG1 is concerned. If you are seen when stealing stuff inside a house, try to hide in shadows, or put your thief in a corner. If you leave without being spoken by the flaming fist, you won't get caught ! And also a word of advise on potions, they are useful when well used. Selling them without looking at them may be a mistakes.
  • lordkimlordkim Member Posts: 1,028
    edited July 2012
    Now that BG:EE is downloaded from Beamdog, there would not be a manuel for the game or ? Like there where in the box edt. we bought 14 years ago .

    Would it then be ok to put the old one in here as pdf. or pics ?
    @Tanthalas; @Bhryaen ?
    Post edited by lordkim on
  • mch202mch202 Member Posts: 1,437
    @Winthal First thing I want to say, Great Post!

    second, I think you might add, " if you got stuck or lost - follow your journal"
    it might seem obvious, but bg1 is a big game, and a new player can easily get lost with all the side quests
    just a thought,...
  • O_BruceO_Bruce Member Posts: 2,310
    edited July 2012
    One correction!

    About Sorceror - he indeed learns new spell levels later than normal mage, but it only counts for spell levels 1-5. Sorceror learns level 6 spell on character level 12, just like normal mage.
  • MachineOfLightMachineOfLight Member Posts: 15
    Tip: early in the game, you're going to need all the money you can get; pick up as many items as you can, heavy items (armor, weapons) should be carried by stronger characters. Before selling them in town or wherever, make the character with the highest charisma your party leader (drag their portrait to the top) so you get (slightly) better prices. Use the same tactic for buying items, you can save a lot of money like that, especially on expensive items. With time, you can stop picking up every little thing; you will have enough money later in the game, and you may need your inventory space for rare and usefull potions that may come in handy in difficult battles.
  • lordkimlordkim Member Posts: 1,028
    Here is The whole Manual to Baldurs Gate :

  • O_BruceO_Bruce Member Posts: 2,310
    Just a suggestion.

    It would be nice to mention here about Strength affecting forcing locks open. It's missing here.
  • MedillenMedillen Member Posts: 632
    By the way, anyone know how saving throws works with multiclass ? I never figured that... (it might no be a beginner tips though...)
  • DougPiranhaDougPiranha Member Posts: 50
    Winthal said:

    Almost all of these attributes also affect certain saving throws, which are basically your characters natural defenses against harmful effects from spells, or perhaps poisons or paralyzing attacks etc. You don't need to pay attention to these overly much, they pretty much take care of themselves, just be aware of what they are and what they do.

    I don't think this is true in BG. Wisdom should affect save vs. spells, but it wasn't implemented. Paladins, dwarfs, gnomes an halflings do get their bonuses.

    As for tips, players should learn to use spells of their party effectively, they can turn the tide of battle if used properly. For example 1st level mage spell sleep can easily neutralize hobgoblin elites, ogres or wolves that are death for a low level party.
  • WinthalWinthal Member Posts: 366
    edited July 2012
    @DougPiranha Ah, I just assumed they worked.. fixed :)

    @ZelgadisGW added.
  • DiscoCatDiscoCat Member Posts: 70
    Medillen said:

    By the way, anyone know how saving throws works with multiclass ? I never figured that... (it might no be a beginner tips though...)

    Simple, for every save and at every xp level you get the lowest value from among your classes.
  • JanderJander Member Posts: 4
    Let me take a stab at the THACO and AC section. Feel free to copy this in above, or whatever.

    AC is Armor Class, and THACO is "To Hit Armor Class 0." For both, lower is better.

    Take your THACO number and subtract your enemy's AC; that number is the lowest number you need to roll to hit. To determine whether you hit an enemy, you roll a 20-sided die; if you get that number or higher, you hit.

    Some examples:

    If your THACO is 15…
    … and your enemy's AC is 0, then you need to roll a 15 or higher to hit (15 - 0 = 15).
    … and your enemy's AC is 8, then you need to roll a 7 or higher to hit (15 - 8 = 7).
    … and your enemy's AC is -2, then you need to roll a 17 or higher to hit (15 - (-2) = 17 ).

    Conversely, if your enemy's THACO is 15…
    … and your AC is 0, then they need a 15 or higher to hit you.
    … and your AC is 6, then they need a 9 or higher to hit you.
    … and your AC is -1, then they need a 16 or higher to hit you.

    No matter what the THACO and AC, a roll of 20 always hits, and a roll of 1 always misses.
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