I would like to share with you here something that I have been doing for a long, long time, yet have noticed many people not even being aware of: customizing the default joinable game NPCs. I'm talking of course not about CHARNAME, but her/his potential allies: Aerie, Anomen, and all the other friendly (or unfriendly) faces.
These characters, the interactions, banters, personal quests, and of course romances, are one of the biggest draws of Baldur's Gate 2. It's not only a lot of story and plot, but also a lot of actual game content, particularly with the new NPCs from the Extended Edition who have some great quests in cool locations otherwise entirely inaccessible.
However, this whole dimension clashes with the desire of some people to actually run with a custom party, in the style of e.g. Icewind Dale. You can do that in BG2 by creating a multiplayer party - but then you lose everything mentioned above. No banter, no personal quests, no romance, now new EE locales.
But there is a way to have both! Thanks to the glorious EEKeeper
savegame editor, you have a tool at your disposal that can transform anyone into anything! Ever wanted Aerie on 'roids, rocking the 18/00 as a 4-INT Berserker? DONE! Minsc the Mage, turning his enemies into squi... hamsters? NO PROBLEM!
Now, as for the HOW of doing this, it is incredibly simple and intuitive. EEKeeper has a very easy-to-understand interface, and if you look at the various tabs and options, you will quickly realize what you need to change and how in order to make your NPC dream happen. I encourage people to try and experiment, and so this is not intended as a tutorial; what this thread is supposed to be about (I made it, I get to decide!) is the ideas people can come up with to make their NPCs *truly* unique and interesting.
A word of warning, though: EEKeeper is a powerful tool, and with great power comes great desire to do silly things. That is perfectly fine if it's your thing, but do not let it go to your head. The temptation is great to crank every stat to 25 and watch Melissan run for dear life as you punch her lights out naked with one arm behind your back. I am not talking about that here, though. I am talking about things that make at least a little sense *in some way*. What way, that is up to the individual to decide. It can be RP-oriented, it can be Powergaming-oriented. That is a choice everyone has to make for themselves, and it should be understood what that choice is (and, ideally, why it was made).
To illustrate, and to get the discussion going, here is a brief overview over my own process. Again, this is just MY way of doing things, based on MY preferences - although I do welcome critique, criticism, and suggestions. Note that my game is cranked to 11 - I run with SCS, Spell Revisions, and Item Revisions, with every setting on maximum difficulty (including things like random-spawn liches and HLAs on enemies in SoA etc.), of course in Nightmare Mode and on Insane dififculty. That is not for the faint of heart, and consequently my parties are not faint-hearted either.
My usual party setup will have roll totals of 80 on most characters. CHARNAME alone I usually go with 85, simply because being a Bhaalspawn should at least skew the genetic lottery a little. I do run with higher or lower sometimes, too, but the vast majority of the time it'll be 80/85.
As for the classes, that varies wildly. I try to test many things, but I look at them from a powergaming perspective pretty much all the time. That means a lot of dual classing, and not a lot of Bards, for example (but lots of Archers and Inquisitors).
For purely flavor reasons, I try to match the classes I want to play at least somewhat to the NPCs. For example, when I play mages, I try to make sure that it's people like Aerie, Edwin, Neera etc. that end up in that role. If I make a Berserker, I might choose Minsc or Korgan to be it, while an Inquisitor could end up as Keldorn (not very creative) or Anomen or even (stretching it a bit) someone like Valygar. This is not an exact process, of course, and sometimes the NPCs I want to play actually take precedence over the class - e.g. I really hate Whiney McCryface, sorry, I meant to say: Anomen, and so even if I run a Fighter/Cleric I'd rather put it on someone not fitting the profile (like idk, Jan Jansen) than take him along. Similarly, I really like Neera, and so even if there is no Mage slot but only, say, a Druid, I might make her that despite the obvious RP cringe just to have her in my party for the romance etc. (pink hair = best hair, just sayin').
However, here is where it gets interesting. The actual reason I am starting this whole topic is to gather some ideas on how to add MORE FLAVOR to everything. I am good with theory when it comes to things like power, damage output, etc. I am not so good when it comes to things like flavor, RP value, and character building. But I would like more of that, and I think that EEKeeper is a great tool to not only get that, but to perhaps also combine it with the more down-to-earth powergaming approach.
What I'm talking about specifically is modifying NPCs in clever ways that offer some game decisions and considerations, while ALSO making sense in terms of flavor and story. That in fact is already in the game, to an extent. If you check Haer'Dalis, for example, you will notice that not only is he a race normally unavailable to playable characters (Tiefling), but he also has some innate damage resistances, too! Viconia also has a bonus, namely her magic resistance. Other characters do not have these innate traits, but might offer different unique things such as Edwin's amulet or Nalia's ring (but let's leave special items aside for now since they can't just be created by EEKeeper).
I would like to add more things like that to spice up my parties, and hopefully, if you like the idea, your parties as well. What I'd ask of everyone interested is to start gathering and discussing some ideas of what these special features could be. There are many possibilities, from stat bonuses/penalties (Viconia +1 STR/-1 CHA maybe? Mazzy -1 STR/+2 CHA?) to special resistances (10% slashing resistance to Aerie? -2 AC vs. slashing to Yoshimo?) to class/kit combinations that are otherwise illegal but make sense RP-wise (non-human dual-class? kit in a dual/multi-class?) - or something else, you name it! No, I mean it: go ahead and name it, I'm anxious to hear what other ideas there are along these lines!
Ideally, I would like these suggestions to be thought-out enough to also be balanced power-wise, though of course I realize that both "balance" and "power" are terms with a very vague meaning especially in a context that can change so much from setup to setup. That's fine. We only need a starting point, a nucleus to latch onto and grow our own individual ideas from. I'm sure there's people who've always thought that character X really should have trait Y or ability Z - let's hear it, then! I welcome any and all suggestions!