An Introduction to Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition
Baldur’s Gate is a challenging game, and it can be a whirlwind of decision-making to get started. This guide will help explain some of the more complicated aspects of the game’s mechanics, and assist you in creating your character and starting your game.
If this is your first time playing Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition, we recommend starting with Shadows of Amn. You may also play The Black Pits II at any time; its story and events are separate from the main campaign, and can be experienced on their own.
If this is your first time playing Baldur’s Gate, the number of choices you have at the start of the game, before you even begin playing, can be overwhelming. For a quick set of tutorials, we recommend watching some (or all) of the “How to Play” videos, especially the ones pertaining to the different class types. It may give you a sense of what kind of character you want to play.
To jump right into the game, you can follow these steps:
1. Select Shadows of Amn
2. Select Single Player
3. Select New Game
4. Find the character you like best from the list of pregenerated characters and click Play next to that character’s name
Or keep reading for information on creating your very own custom-built character.
The Main Menus
Once you’ve selected a campaign—and this guide will assume you’ve started with Shadows of Amn—you’ll see a few different options: Single Player, Multiplayer, How to Play, Store, Options, and Back.Back
will return you to the campaign selection screen; Options
will let you change the game’s Graphics, Sound, and Gameplay settings. If you’re playing the game on PC or Mac, the Store
button will show you the content that is included for free; iPad users may use this screen to purchase premium content such as NPCs and portrait packs.
If this is your first time playing, the How to Play
button offers a list of video tutorials that will demonstrate the basic mechanics of gameplay, allowing you to familiarize yourself with combat, magic, and the various interface screens.Multiplayer
will let you set up or join a game session with other players from across the globe. You can even start a game by yourself and create a party of your own custom characters, or have your friends join you.
For the purposes of this guide, we’ll start with Single Player
. Select New Game
, and you’ll be presented with a list of pre-generated characters, as well as the option to create your own. If you’d like to jump into the game right away, select the character of your choice by clicking Play
. Otherwise, click Create
to start the process of Character Creation.
Importing from Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition
If you previously played Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition and would like to continue with the same character, you can click “Import” from the Character Creation screen to import either a saved game or an exported character file. For the game to detect these files, you will need to follow these short steps:
1. Open your Documents library, and open \Baldur’s Gate – Enhanced Edition\
2. Open either the Characters folder or the Save folder, depending on whether you want to import an exported character or a character from a saved game
3. Copy the .CHR and .BIO files for your exported character, or copy the entire folder for the desired save
4. Return to your Documents library, and open \Baldur’s Gate II – Enhanced Edition\
5. Open either the Characters folder or the Save folder
6. Paste the .CHR and .BIO files or your saved game into this folder
Then launch the game. On the Character Creation screen, click Import
, and then either Character File
or Saved Game
, and you’ll see your character or saved game in the list. Select the character (or the saved game and then the character you wish to import), and then click Done
. You’ll be prompted to choose new colors and a new sound set, as well as confirming your character’s name, and then you’ll be ready to start the game!
Note that when the game begins, your character will have no equipment. You will need to use your skills and abilities to find new equipment and allies to help you in your adventure.
(If you bought the game through the Mac App Store, you'll find your characters or saved games in the following location: /Users/username/Library/Containers/com.beamdog.baldursgateenhancededition/Data/Documents/Baldur's Gate - Enhanced Edition/
The BGII:EE equivalent is /Users/username/Library/Containers/com.beamdog.baldursgateiienhancededition/Data/Documents/Baldur's Gate II - Enhanced Edition/ )
The first thing you’ll need to decide when creating a new character is Gender
. Male and Female characters are not mechanically different, nor are they restricted in terms of what weapons or armor they can use. However, certain NPCs (non-player characters) may react differently if your character is one gender or the other. Some romances may require that you be a specific gender as well.
Once you’ve selected your gender, you will need to choose a Portrait
. Use the left and right buttons on the screen to cycle through the list of available portraits. You can also use a custom portrait if you have one in your Portraits folder, but for the moment just select one of the images from the gallery provided for you.
The next selection you’ll need to make is your character’s Race
. Each race has a list of traits describing their advantages and disadvantages. Note that certain races may be restricted in terms of what classes they can choose, and only Humans may dual-class, allowing them to change their class during play. Non-humans have the option to multi-class, advancing simultaneously in two or three classes at once. Here is a list of the races, and the available classes they can choose from:
- Human: Any
- Elf: Fighter, Ranger, Cleric, Mage, Thief, Sorcerer, Barbarian
- Half-Elf: Fighter, Ranger, Cleric, Druid, Mage, Thief, Bard, Sorcerer, Barbarian
- Gnome: Fighter, Cleric, Illusionist, Thief, Barbarian
- Halfling: Fighter, Cleric, Thief, Barbarian
- Dwarf: Fighter, Cleric, Thief, Barbarian
- Half-Orc: Fighter, Cleric, Thief, Barbarian
Note that gnomes cannot be normal Mages; they must choose the Illusionist specialization kit. Each race also offers bonuses and penalties to certain ability scores and skills; be sure to read through the race’s description carefully before making your decision. Halflings make exceptional Thieves, while half-orcs make better Fighters, and elves are good choices for the Ranger class.
After your race, you will need to select a Class
. Choose from the options available based on your race; once you select a class, you will have the option to select a Kit, applying additional advantages (and disadvantages) based on a particular archetype. The Dwarven Defender, for example, is a Fighter kit for dwarves that specializes in axes and defensive abilities. Every class except the Barbarian has kits available, so you’ll want to explore the various options.
Next you’ll be asked to give your character an Alignment
. This choice is mostly a cosmetic one; you can be either Good or Evil in Baldur’s Gate, so choose an alignment that fits the character you plan to play. Note that some characters you encounter will behave differently based on your alignment and reputation, and some spells may affect you differently based on your alignment as well.
After selecting an alignment you will need to roll Ability Scores
. Each character has six abilities: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma.
This ability determines how strong your character is. A high strength will let you carry more weight, hit with greater accuracy, and deal greater damage. A warrior class (Fighter, Barbarian, Ranger, or Paladin) can even benefit from an exceptional strength if they roll an 18, granting even greater bonuses. If you’re playing a warrior class, Strength is the bread and butter that will put the hurt on your enemies. A good defense is a strong offense.
This ability determines your agility; a high dexterity will grant bonuses to thieving skills, ranged weapon accuracy, and armor class, allowing you to avoid taking damage altogether. Thieves and bards will want to pay particular attention to this ability, but a high Dexterity is important to any character who plans to survive combat.
If Dexterity helps you avoid attacks, Constitution helps you survive the ones that you take. A high Constitution grants bonus hit points for each level you attain; the smaller races (halfling, gnome, and dwarf) also gain bonuses to their saving throws for high Constitution, making them more resilient against certain spells and effects. Note that non-warrior classes gain no hit point benefit from a score higher than 16; however, a Constitution of 20 or higher will actually let your character regenerate hit points slowly over time. Constitution is important for any character; without sufficient hit points, a stray arrow might mean death.
Intelligence marks the amount of knowledge your character has or can attain through study. For mages, it determines how many spells you can have in your spellbook as well as what kinds of spells you can cast; additionally, a high Intelligence will help any character recognize magical items found in the world by boosting their Lore. A high Lore will allow you to identify an item’s magical properties just by looking at it, allowing you to take full advantage of your equipment as soon as you find it—as well as helping you avoid items that may be cursed.
Wisdom is the philosophical counterpart to Intelligence, demonstrating your character’s ability to think through situations and understand consequences. For clerics, a high Wisdom also grants bonus spells per day, meaning that a cleric with a high Wisdom will be much better able to heal and buff himself and his party. Wisdom also grants a modifier to Lore, just as Intelligence does; if you are playing a bard, a high Intelligence and Wisdom may mean never having to cast Identify again.
It’s important to be pleasant and liked, and this ability reflects that talent. A high charisma will grant you discounts in certain shops, make some NPCs more friendly, and may even yield better rewards when you complete quests. There is no class that specifically relies on Charisma, but a high Charisma will make your character more likeable, no matter whether you’re a fighter or a thief.
Your ability scores are generated from three six-sided dice (also represented as 3d6). This means that any ability score can have a starting value anywhere from 3 to 18. Additionally, your class limits your minimum and maximum score in a given ability, and your race will also apply a bonus or penalty to certain ability scores. A half-orc, for example, can have a Strength and Constitution as high as 19, but will only be able to have an Intelligence of up to 16.
You may reroll your ability scores as many times as you like; you can also redistribute ability points on a 1-for-1 basis; you may also click the “Store” button to retain a roll while you try for better scores. At any time you can click “Recall” to return to your last Stored roll.
Once you have rolled ability scores, the Skills
screen allows you to assign weapon proficiencies and thief skill points, as appropriate for your class. If you’re a mage, you will also be able to select the spells that will start in your spellbook.
Choose the weapon or weapons that best suit your character’s personality, and assign proficiency points as needed. Note that fighters can put as many as five points in a given weapon; rangers and paladins can put up to two points in each weapon, and all other classes many put one point in any weapon that is accessible based on the class’s restrictions. Certain kits may also have additional limitations or opportunities; an Archer, for example, is a Ranger kit that can put as many as five points in the Longbow or Shortbow weapon type.
In addition, there are four weapon styles: Single Weapon Style, Sword and Shield Style, Two Weapon Style, and Two-Handed Weapon Style. Read the descriptions to find out more about these styles, and if desired, put points in the one that best suits your character. Note that not every class has access to every weapon or weapon style.
If you’re playing a thief, you’ll also want to pay attention to the thieving skills.
This skill allows you to pilfer objects from unsuspecting marks, adding them to your inventory. With an exceptionally high skill you may even be able to steal weapons your target has equipped!
This skill lets you open most locked containers or doors in the game, if your skill is high enough. Some doors and chests may require keys, but for most locks, this skill will make the difference between a locked door and opportunity.
Throughout the game, you will delve into dungeons, and in many of those dungeons will be traps. Use this skill to locate those traps and then disarm them.
Hide in Shadows / Move Silently
These skills work together to determine your character’s Stealth abilities. When you activate Stealth, a combined check will be made with these two skills to determine whether your Stealth attempt was successful. Thieves that attack enemies from behind while stealthed will receive massive bonuses to attack and damage; use it wisely!
A talented thief can spot discrepancies in the environment to identify effects created by illusion spells, effectively dispelling those effects immediately. This can even let a thief spot invisible creatures.
This ability allows the thief to set damaging traps on the floor. When enemies walk over the trap, it will be activated, dealing significant damage.
After you finish selecting skills, you’ll be allowed to customize your character’s Appearance
. You can choose a new hair and skin color, as well as customizing the clothing colors for your character. After selecting colors, you’ll be prompted to choose your character’s Sounds
, affecting what voice is used when you attack or move. Again, choose the sound set that works best for your character.
Finally, give your character a Name
. If you like, you can also write your own Biography
, or you can simply use the one provided. When you’re ready to begin the game, click “Accept”.
Enjoy the game!