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Assassin/mage vrs Swashbuckler/mage

null_objectnull_object Member Posts: 5
edited January 2014 in New Players (NO SPOILERS!)
This is my first time playing Baldur's gate and I can't decide on which build I'm going to use, either Assassin/mage or Swashbuckler/mage, and was hoping I could get some feed back on the pros and cons of both. I was also curious about being an Archer/mage, but apparently that isn't possible.

I was planning on using bows for the most part and casting mostly debuff/disabling spells and summons.

This character is going to be played through both BGI and II.

Post edited by null_object on


  • SwordsNotWordsSwordsNotWords Member Posts: 147
    Archer/mage isn't possible in Baldur's Gate, Fighter or Thief dualed or multi'd with mage would be your best bet for that kind of build. Perhaps an Assassin -> Mage to utilise their poison on your arrows/bolts.

  • null_objectnull_object Member Posts: 5
    edited January 2014
    Also, what should I do with my proficiency points at the beginning? I believe I'll have one left over after I put a point into bows.

    Post edited by null_object on
  • CorvinoCorvino Member Posts: 2,269
    edited January 2014
    If this is your first time playing Baldur's Gate then I would really suggest playing either a Multiclass or a Single Class rather than a Dual Class. The Dual-Class mechanic can be very frustrating for beginners due to the downtime involved and complexity of the system. Thief/Mage is a solid Multiclass, even without a kit.

    If you really want to be an Assassin->Mage or Swashbuckler->Mage though, read on. Bear in mind that you need a minimum of 15 Dex and 17 Int to dual from a thief kit to mage, and must be human.

    Swashbuckler->Mage is a pretty strong combination. The ideal points to dual-class are either level 5 or 10, as the Swashbuckler gets THAC0 and AC bonuses at these levels. If you dual at level 5 you'll be a fairly weak thief but can get your thief skills back quickly. Dualling at 10 means you play all the way through BG1 as a Swashbuckler and dual at the beginning of BG2. If you dual at 5 you'll just about be able to get maxed find traps and open locks if you get the additional dexterity Tome, while dualling at 10 should let you get a decent pickpocket, detect illusions or set traps score as well.

    The playstyle of Swash->Mage is pretty much a mage with a little more combat utility and thieving skills. Putting points into shortbows and daggers might be a good combination if you plan on going ranged as you say. There are many decent daggers in BG1, and throwing daggers in BG2 can be quite good. I wouldn't try dual-wielding as you don't get enough proficiency points and THAC0 to really make it shine as a dual class.

    Assassin->Mage is hamstrung a bit by lack of thieving points. While poison weapon is a pretty good ability you can only really dual at the end of BG1 if you want to reliably pick locks and find traps. It's doable, but you get a lot less thieving utility than the Swashbuckler, and your combat skills are not much better. Your backstab multiplier as an Assassin will only be the same as an unkitted thief at level 10 or below, which also means this kit advantage doesn't show through.

    *Edit* You can play as a Swashbuckler/Mage or Assassin/Mage multiclass, but this requires use of a Savegame editor and can screw things up a bit. Some people consider it a bit cheat-y as well.

  • null_objectnull_object Member Posts: 5
    edited January 2014
    Thanks. I already started an assassin/mage and just dropped all my skill points into detect illusion as I figured I'd end up keeping another thief around for locks and traps.
    I may have screwed up my prof. Points though. I put one into single handed instead of daggers as I planned on sticking with bows till I switch and then put a point into daggers when I become a mage. Is that dumb?

    Swash/mage sounds much better on paper but poison weapon sounded fun and the assassin appealed more to me for role playing reasons... I'm only a couple hours in though and may reroll. I'm gonna give it some more thought.

  • nanonano Member Posts: 1,632
    Good stuff, that's what I did for my A/M dual. Don't worry about the prof point - you will have more than enough to waste because you can only put one point in each prof.

    I agree with your choice; I think the A/M is far better than the S/M. Assassin brings new things to the table (mislead backstabs, poisoned meteors, that sort of thing) while the swashbucker's AC is mostly useless for a mage.

  • abacusabacus Member Posts: 1,308
    edited January 2014
    Going the 'more fun' route is definitely better... What's the point in phenomenal cosmic power if you aren't enjoying it?!

    Edit: A note or two on thief skills:
    Might be worth ignoring Hide in Shadows & Move Silently, as Invisibility is only a level 2 spell, and is generally more reliable anyway... Plus you'll get a wealth of even better ways to disappear as you level up in Mage.

    I might say the same thing about Detect Illusions as there are spells with similar utility (including the incomparable True Sight at level 6).

    Set Snare really only gets good at higher levels (which you won't reach as a dual-class).

    Open locks *can* be covered by Knock spell (level 1), but it conflicts with some other useful stuff, so I'd generally look to max it.

    Find/Remove Traps is probably the most important to max... Especially as you can do this whilst under an invisibility spell.

  • null_objectnull_object Member Posts: 5
    One more question: All the faq's and guides I read about multiclassing were for BG1ee and said that I wouldn't be able to use high level spells. Is this still the case if I'm going to import my dude to BG2ee as well? 'Cause I'm thinking about re-rolling and Multi-classing instead of Duel classing as I've been warned it can be a bit of a grind for a first timer.

  • nanonano Member Posts: 1,632
    If you multiclass you can't take a kit unless you hack it in or you're a gnome (automatic Illusionist kit for the mage). It'll take a long time to reach level 9 spells as well so don't count on having them for most of the game, if ever. On the other hand it has its own advantages... if you're thinking of multiclassing to thief though I'd point out that there is already a thief/illusionist NPC you can pick up in the game.

    Dual classing can be a pain but if you do it early it's not bad. You do need your party to pick up the slack for a while. I dual classed my assassin at level 5 (100 detect illusions) and a significant chunk of BG1 was spent as a single-classed mage. He was still pretty useful because of his spells though weaker than the others. Alternatively you could just play through BG1 as an assassin and dual class ASAP in BG2, which I think might be easier.

    I agree with @abacus that Find Traps is your first priority, but since you're taking another thief for traps I I'd go with Detect Illusions as planned. It's not a spell so it gets past some things that foils spells and saves you a couple spell slots.

  • abacusabacus Member Posts: 1,308
    If you multi, you won't be able to use a kit (Assassin/Swashbuckler) without using one of the modding/keepering thingys.
    On the plus side, you'll be a better thief with more skill points to spread around, and thieves get some cool tricks at epic levels.
    Balanced against that is the fact it will take you longer to get high level spells as your XP gets divided between two classes.

  • null_objectnull_object Member Posts: 5
    edited January 2014
    Thanks. Considering I'm going to be slanting towards a mage anyways, playing as pure mage through most of BG1 sounds alright to me. I was planning on sticking it out 'till I get my third Poison upgrade, but that might take too long and make for some real unpleasant scenarios down the road.

    If I did wait 'till level 8 to duel class, how late into BG1 would I be?

  • SkaffenSkaffen Member Posts: 709
    Too late, you will not recover your thief skills and finish BG1 as a midlevel mage. Check out the XP progrssion charts, you get 161,000 max, then the XP cap hits.'s_Gate:_Progression_Charts

    Even if you dual at 8 (second poison weapon usage) you won't make it. I'd recommend finishing BG1 as an assassin (level 10) and switch to mage in BG2 beginning. Level 11 is not that hard to reach (one major quest line plus some side quests plus scroll XP should do it). Max your find traps skill! All the rest can be compensated with spells.

    If you go assassin be sure to pick Melfs Minute Meteors as a third level mage spell, that combo absolutely rocks.

  • CorvinoCorvino Member Posts: 2,269
    Completely agreed with @Skaffen - if you do plan on dualling then very early in BG2 is the place to do it. Compared to BG1 you get XP force-fed to your party. Doing it this way, you play through all of BG1 as an Assassin or Swashbuckler then dual either immediately or very soon into the second game.

  • SkaffenSkaffen Member Posts: 709
    Also worth knowing: as @Corvino mentions you get much more XP, especially for thief skill usage and scroll scribing (1000 XP per spell level vs. the 15 or so you get in BG1). Depending on how many people you take in the beginning of BG2 you should come out of the first dungeon as either level 6 or 7 mage.

  • CrevsDaakCrevsDaak Member Posts: 7,156
    Swashbuckler lvl16 (17 if you have RR) ->Mage. I reached lvls 16/8 in BG:EE, and in cap removed vanilla I gathered all the XP in the world just to enter chapter four with HLAs.

  • TwoWayFinesseTwoWayFinesse Member Posts: 128
    RR = Rogue rebalancing? I've never installed it, does it make a big difference to the game (mind you BG2 needs a proper thief in it, can't keep taking Jan EVERY time I play the game!)

  • CrevsDaakCrevsDaak Member Posts: 7,156
    @TwoWayFinesse I did not use it either, but some people use it and Swashbuckler got something really cool at lvl17 if my mind is not tricking me.
    I've only read the read me I think or a guy said so in these forums.

  • booinyoureyesbooinyoureyes Member Posts: 6,162
    Rogue Rebalancing is incredible in my opinion, and makes rogues and bards much more playable. I highly recommend it, though many say that the Swashbuckler kit was actually made worse.

  • ChildofBhaal599ChildofBhaal599 Member Posts: 1,781
    thieves are plenty usable already with backstabs, but fighter/thief is the way to go for a thief still. with a bunch of invisibility potions you can backstab, drink, backstab your way to godhood :)

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