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Solo no reload Shapeshifter, maybe Shapeshifter/Fighter

As a very brief intro, I always loved Baldur's Gate and its expansions and was delighted when I found I could download them onto my phone. Since Christmas, it has been all I do on my commute :) Anyway, I wouldn't say I'm a master by any means, but I've become increasingly fascinated by the myriad class options and solo runs. I've been attempting minimal/no reload runs, emphasis on the 'no reload' as I find that as much as I've invested in the character, once I've died, it is difficult to return to it, especially if I've achieved most of what I want to achieve in terms of experimenting with builds.

I just got to level 35 with a solo priest of Lathander, which I have to say has been one of my most favourite runs so far - they are so good! But having been imprisoned in the Underdark, I guess I'll have to wait for the next child of Bhaal to cast Freedom in the area...

One of the character classes I keep coming back to is the druid. They seem to get a mostly bad rap, which is understandable when compared to mages, which I almost never play, and others. But the theme just draws me back time and again. I've got a separate solo no reload run with a Totemic Druid, which I've just reached Saradush with, but I've run out of steam.

Just a note here, I tend to play BGee on the lower difficulty as I prefer the higher HP and not faffing about with the gameplay. Plus generally speaking BG isn't too much of a challenge unless you want it to be, i.e. it is very easy to hover up the easter egg items, buy a Gift of the Lost then the Ring of Energy and you're golden. The challenge for me comes from remembering everything in BG2 and ToB. Most runs I've ever done have ended with a save or die situation, which has nothing to do with damage received. So I adjust to core rules for BG2 onwards.

So why the Shapeshifter? Because I love wandering Faerun as a dog of course. No other reason :) I've certainly a read a lot of great posts on this forum about what you should have and what you get, which is somewhat saddening, but I'm unlikely to be able to change that. What I do like off the bat is that you have a character with Str 19 and a -2 AC with 2APR. Now that is fun for a level 1 character! I notice that if you rest, your paws are deactivated, which does lead to the interesting possibility of arming up with 2 clubs/scimitars for 3APR, but I don't have the proficiency points for this so I tend to re-shapeshift, but possibly fun should I get to BG2 and ToB. The other thing I'm not clear on is whether there is an option to dual to a fighter in BG2 to enjoy higher thac0 and possibly more APR. Unless I'm mistaken, and in this example I'm talking at least a level 13 druid/level 14 fighter, you should be able to get 5 stars in a weapon, say Belm, equip this after resting while shapeshifted and you'll have 3APR for being a wolf, +1 for the offhand +1 for grandmastery, +1 for being a level 13 fighter and +1 for Belm=7APR base...? I'm guessing the cap is 5 though, though so I'd probably not bother with 2 weapon style, get the extra -1AC for single weapon style, equip a nice magic weapon and get base 5APR for being a level 13+ grand mastery fighter wolf. So I'm keen to try that out, albeit waiting for this idea to be shot down as not working (much of my math-BG'ing often ends that way). So my plan is to get to 18 as a shapeshifter and then the rest in fighter. One additional reason is to get the Helm of the Rock, which should mean my base elemental resistances are near 100%, but mostly so I can HOWL :)!

I love a challenge! If it doesn't work out, I'm quite content to keep on going with the shapeshifter. Frankly I love the druid HLAs more than any other.

So with that out of the way, I have started this morning. In wolf form, I've done the Candlekeep quests and assassins, Beregost's Marl and Firebead quests, and Joia's Ring. I've reached level 2 no probs so far and was about to find Brage when I went to work.

Anyway, I've wanted to write something about my journeys for ages so I hope it isn't boring! And that it is in the right place on the forum :) I'd be interested to hear other players' thoughts and whether there are any tips/cautions you can see blaring out to you.



  • SirBatinceSirBatince Member Posts: 817
    If you want to play high difficulty but with max level hp rolls, you can just decrease the skill right before leveling up, then put the skill back on right after.

    AFAIK 2.0 and BG2EE also have this option somewhere in the settings

  • JasperRaithJasperRaith Member Posts: 22
    edited February 2017
    @SirBatince thanks, yeah, it is pure laziness that I don't :) I tend to think that BG2 is where I die and it is never due to losing HP from being hit for double damage at insane levels. Maybe when I'm better, I will try an insane run through...

    Back to the quest:

    As I continued towards Nashkel, I was confronted by a Dread Wolf on my way to Brage. My first instinct was to run, but (and this is why I often fail no reload is the gambler in me) I thought maybe my wolf form would be enough - a critical hit and a follow up paw was all that was needed to finish it - I love those moments when things just work! With Brage located and Noober out annoyed, I was level 3.

    I rescued a chicken, found a dog, and located a dead cat to be raised all the while noticing that having a pip in single weapon style was really helping increase my critical rate. I liberated Perdue’s sword, found a note to Marianne. No problems so far at level 4.

    I picked up the Lost Gift amulet and liberated the Ring of Energy from a group of mages. With these, I felt ready to take on Nashkel Mines. Fool. I died on Mulahey after he held me. My observations at this point were that the Shapeshifter does not have good saving throws and that I am an idiot. Oh well, start again.
    So I went through a similar route and this time made sure to buy the Greenstone Amulet. What on earth I was doing without this item is beyond me – it is basically an ‘I win’ button against clerics and some mages. Much, much easier to get through the mines this time. After I had enough cash from offing various assassination groups and doing the odd errand, I went and bought the Dagger of Venom, the Cloak of Displacement, and the Claw of Kazgaroth. I used the Greenstone Amulet to easily overpower the sirines and even the flesh golems fell to my might.

    At this point in the game it really struck me how good the Shapeshifter is. You have an AC the same as plate +1, 20% magic resistance (which saved from Neira’s first spell when I failed to disrupt her), 2APR, and a really good thac0. When the ‘paws’ wear off and your main hand reasserts itself with the Dagger of Venom, it is just insane! I ripped through Drasus and his gang with only a charge from the Greenstone Amulet to assist me, poisoning both mages and wailing on the 2 fighters. It was almost too easy (as in it clearly isn’t meant to happen). I skipped through much of the Cloakwood area apart from Drasus and Hareisham (I was lucky enough to see her as she came round the corner and I tagged her with a poisoned paw before she could get invisibility off. The Bloody Horrors were no problem with the Golden Girdle bringing my AC to -7 and a mix of the Ring of Energy and paws finished them off quickly. I also drank a potion of absorption and set the glyph traps off when they approached. Davaeorn was seen off easily with another charge from the Greenstone Amulet (also great for killing Ghasts). And before I knew it, and after my initial disappointment with starting again, I was in Baldur’s Gate, max level.

    Thac0 is now 7, dealing 12-15 damage with the dagger of venom, AC-5 and decent saving throws, not that I’m taking any more chances now – I will always buy the Greenstone Amulet from here on. It is too good, and recharged with 50 charges you aren’t going to run out.

    Out of interest, I crunched some numbers to compare the Shapeshifter to a fighter at max experience for BG1. I thought it was going to be closer than it was based on my experience of this playthrough! The fighter will have at least 1 better AC using full plate, plus anything from a shield if using one. They have more HP, but less saving throws by a total of 10. If they use the same Dagger of Venom, Helm of Balduran and Legacy of the Masters, they will do more damage by +5, will have +0.5 more APR and would have +3 thac0. But the Shapeshifter will have spells to cast ahead, the most useful I’d say would be the obvious Ironskins, but also they can summon plenty of beasts, turn invisible, dispel magic, resist 1 in 5 spells and do the odd buff.

    I took out Ramazith, Marek, picking up all the tomes I could and then breezed through the Seven Suns. Onto the Iron Throne. With a charge of the Greenstone Amulet, Resist Fire and Ironskins, the group at the top held no problems for me and they fell to my mighty Dagger of Venom.

    Interestingly, I noticed that the Cloak of Balduran does nothing to my magic resistance, even if I take it off and put it back on! I journeyed to Candlekeep and raced to the top floor to get myself quickly into prison. Once there, I dealt with the spiders, drank my titan potion and liberated the two tomes before tackling the dopplegangers. I thought I’d chance them with the titan potion still active: mistake! With haste from the greater doppleganger and my diminished AC from low dexterity, I was quickly reduced to near death, but not before I could hit them with the Ring of Energy and a couple of poisoned paws, enough that I held on. Just.

    I hate the Duchal Palace fight. But no getting around it. I wonder whether a Monk can do this without reloading?

    Then onto the final boss fight, which I'm afraid I default to using an oil of speed, 2 potions of magic resistance, and then running around with the Ring of Energy until everything is dead!

    Equipment at the end of the game:
    Balduran’s Helm and Cloak, the girdles to up AC, Ring of Energy, Guardian Ring, Claw of Kazgaroth, Greenstone Amulet, One Gift Lost, Paws of the Cheetah, Legacy of the Masters, Dagger of Venom, Longtooth. Plus various potions.
    Conclusions - the Dagger of Venom is awesome with a Shapeshifter! But not meant to be usable when shifted I imagine. The extra APR from day one, the high strength, lowish AC without armour and the rapid leveling up of druids all make this character class excellent for BG1 runs imo. I'd highly recommend it, not least for the fun had from running around biting and scratching everything :)

    Post edited by JasperRaith on
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