I seem to keep coming back to the Druid classes - clearly not the most powerful, but I've always found them to be the most fun to play, especially when solo'ing. I started my run in BG1: https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/63281/solo-no-reload-shapeshifter-maybe-shapeshifter-fighter/p1?new=1
and have been planning to dual class at a very late level: level 18. I was hoping to do a no reload run, but it has turned into a 'try to be careful, don't rush and don't be too stupid' run
The idea behind the run was to test the mechanics and see if there was any merit to such a dual class. I'd read a couple of threads here about dualling at a low level or at level 13 when you can shift into the greater form. But neither was for me as I wanted to get a good range of spells and I can only see a point to dualling low to a fighter if you are just doing BG1.
I think there is a very strong case for waiting till level 15 to dual to a fighter as you get that great bonus to spell count, immunity to poison and one druid hla (my favourite of the hlas). However, I also wanted to summon elemental princes just because so I thought I'd hold out until level 18, getting the bonus to elemental resistances as well.
Having done BG1, I was nearly at level 11 when I arrived in Irenicus' dungeon and was level 12 when I left. There is definitely a gap in levelling between 12-13 and 14-15, which can be painful, but once you are level 15, reaching level 18 is no sweat. My plan was to do as many of the fights as possible without claiming any of the quests rewards, bar the Druid Grove and Trademeet genies so I could pick up some of the nice items from the merchant there.
My tactics were invariably to cast Death Ward, Chaotic Commands, Iron Skins on myself, summon fire elementals and go to town. Getting the Staff of Arundel asap is a great idea to add a couple of high level spells to your list. With this, I was able to get through most of BG2 before spellhold bar killing the dragons and leaving a few of the easier fights to when I was ready to dual. Sadly I did die once early on, charmed by the druid fighting those trolls in the grove. Really stupidly I'd just forgotten to have chaotic commands up. Eh well, live and learn. To get to level 18 I did end up having to complete the Planar Sphere and the Prison Plane quests fully. I chose Aura of Flaming Death (because it is cool), the elemental summoning and prince summoning (cool), and a fire elemental transformation (because, cool and I'd named my character Imix
). I dualled to a fighter, nervously, and collected numerous quest rewards, dealt with some smaller quests and arrived at level 10/11 pretty easily. I did die a couple of times to traps (bridge lich doorway and a trap in the tanner's home – definitely worth setting off traps while still a druid), I also died against the beholder you fight with Shangalar, which I didn't understand as I was still under the scroll of magic protection's aegis...? Any info on why would be much appreciated! I also made an interesting discovery in the tanner's home - I had retained my ability to shift into a fire elemental! This is fantastic for several reasons:
Immunity to non-magic weapons!
Fire resistance 100%
Boost to AC, which is very much needed as you cannot wear armour
The +1APR for being a level 13 fighter transfers so that is 2APR at super high strength!
I'm currently in the Underdark and have just had my old abilities returned so I thought it would be worth noting some observations about the Shapeshifter-Fighter:
Firstly, what do you lose? Compared to a pure Shapeshifter you lose 1 level 1-4, 3 level 5, and 1 level 6&7 spells. In my mind, not the end of the world. You are also caster level 18 rather than 20 and you lose out on 20% elemental resistance and further druid HLAs. Compared to a fighter/druid, you lose a few spells, 10% elemental resistance and the same caster level difference, as well as HP and one, I think, HLA overall.
What do you gain? Compared to a pure shapeshifter, you have much higher saving throws, max thac0, you can put two pips into single weapon fighting to gain a further -1AC, slightly more HP, you can use a shield. Compared to a fighter/druid, the only thing you gain is the bonuses from being able to use the Greater Werewolf form, you can also attain grand mastery with a weapon for when you aren't shifted.
So I think it is also worth comparing fire elemental to the wolf. The fire elemental has higher strength and fire damage (which won't affect too many critters, but can be useful) and it does more damage/hit. You are also immune to normal weapons and have 100% fire resistance. It doesn't affect thac0 really, but you do get the AC bonus which looks to me like it adds 12 to your AC plus dex and items. Also, importantly, you get a lot more bang for your buck when you use whirlwind in this form. I'd say the immunity to normal weapons and fire resistance are a little redundant depending on the trials of Bhaal.
My wolf form now has 4APR (cool), 60% elemental resistance across the board and 40% magic resistance, the AC bonus also appears to be +18. With this it is really easy to get up to the -24AC cap. I have read a lot about this not being significant against many ToB enemies, but I'm still keen to try this out for myself. In SoA, it is awesome!
My intention is to have the following build towards the end of the game:
Spectral Blade, Darksteel Shield, Amulet of the Seldarine/Cheetah Speed, Ring of Gaax, Ring of Protection +3, Cloak of the Sewers, Helm of Balduran/Helm of the Rock, Belt of Inertial Barriers, Gauntlets of Weapon Expertise, Boots of Speed/the missile avoidance ones.
I need to verify this, but by my calculation, this would give me 60% magic resistance (if I take off the ring and amulet and put them back on), at least 90% elemental resistance, over that with the Helm of the Rock, 50% reduction in magic damage, 25% reduction from missile damage, immune to level drain, saves into the negatives and an AC of -23/24 depending on whether I'm wearing Baldur's/Vhailor's helm. If I planned on using Aura of Flaming Death, I might combine that with taking off the ring of protection and going with free action perhaps, depending on the situation. With the amulet of cheetah speed, you can get 23 rounds of 9 APR, which is awesome!
Having played on a little further since writing this, I did boost my AC pretty high against Firkraag, but he dispelled my protections and proceeded to hit me pretty often , but he still died. My AC cap is definitely 24 with magic, not 26 as I thought for being part Fighter. Makes me wonder about which Bhaal rewards to go to. I’m imagining that the MR won’t stack so wouldn’t be too important and I suspect the AC bonus won’t help either, albeit I wouldn’t be worried about dispelling…
I’m having a blast playing this character though! Very defensive, good APR, lots of immunities. Bit of a blow that you don’t get any weapon effects on your paws (which makes sense) and some disappointment that AC is not likely to help that much. I’m still vulnerable to fear and dispel, but otherwise this feels like a really cool class to see the mechanics of.
The main weaknesses I see with this character are no protection against fear spells bar saving throws and a lot of the cool equipment isn't achieved till late in the game. Annoyingly I seem to have misplaced my Amulet of Power so level drain is very annoying as Negative Plane Protection doesn't last very long. Also, damage output is a little limited as the paws don't do very much and you have to shift out of that form to deal with some enemies. That said, you can make a great distraction with super high AC and iron skins while your fire elementals do the dirty work.
In conclusion, I think this is a really fun build to try, which gets very powerful at the end. I think the thacO, ability to use shields and some other fighter gear combined with the amazing base resistances and AC of the wolf make this an excellent solo character with planning.