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"Best" Good Party Mage ?

Hi,
I am thinking of running a good party for the first time and am looking for a “ good” mage.

Let me define “good” in this context:

1. Moderately competent – can crank out some magic missiles and do some crowd control (Confusion etc)
2. Not annoying in terms of personality
3. May have some quest / plot lines (optional)

To give an example of sacrificing quality for annoyance avoidance, my last game, I actually dumped Kagian because I could not take the old man whining all the time. Shar-Teel (his replacement) was not as effective as a tank but her man-hatey comments were no where near as annoying and at times, a little amusing.

So – as a Good Party Noob – would appreciate some guidance.
«13

Comments

  • thespacethespace Member Posts: 987
    edited May 20
    Honestly, my favorite is Garrick, a bard. Mages are unnecessary in BG, and a bard can more than get it done by burning through all those loose scrolls and wands. I find his personality much easier to deal with than the actual mages, and the ability to freely identify everything and use any weapon makes him quite valuable. Also, you can dual class Imoen.
    Post edited by thespace on
    OrlonKronsteendockaboomskiAerakar
  • ThrasymachusThrasymachus Member Posts: 582
    Imoen for a good or neutral party (ideally dual-class at level 7 for maximum continuity with BG2). Or Neera, if you don't mind the unpredictability of wild magic.
    Baeloth or Edwin for an evil (or neutral) party.
    I personally like Xan, but he's an enchanter (so no MMs) and some people find him annoying. (You can 'mod' him to be a generalist mage, though.)

    The problem with recommending NPCs with respect to "personality" is that that is quite subjective. I find Quayle quite amusing, for instance, but I know that many people can't stand him.
    OrlonKronsteenThacoBellAerakarDurenas
  • BigfishBigfish Member Posts: 365
    I'm partial to Dynaheir, but I love dropping web spells (which Dynaheir has a bonus with) and having my fighters chop things up with Spider's Bane/Rings of Free Action.
    OrlonKronsteen
  • OrlonKronsteenOrlonKronsteen Member Posts: 276
    Well, what is annoying to players is often subjective. I find Neera annoying, for instance, but other players love her. I think the only way to find out is to try the different mages out. The earlier suggestion of using Garrick as your mage is also interesting, and one I'd never considered. Personally, I like Xan the best, but as an enchanter he can't cast magic missile, so... On the other hand, you might try his style of magic out and see if you like it.
    thespacePapa_LouQuartzAerakar
  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 761
    The most powerful mage is Edwin, who cheatingly gets an extra spell at every level, even above what he gets for being a specialist. (In BG2, this increases to TWO extra spells.) Baeloth, an easter egg sorcerer, gives Edwin a run for his money, too. Both are evil, though, which is a problem if you plan on hitting really high reputation. (If you've played with Shar-Teel, you know the drill already.)

    Personality-wise, you'll most likely find them either unbearably annoying or rather funny. So no real help there.

    Really, all the mages are pretty good in Baldur's Gate. Xzar, Xan, Dynahier. Dual-class Imoen. Give Safana a tome and dual-class her. Quayle. Mages are the least dependent on stats, and there's no prohibited school that is going to make or break a character, so you're really just picking on personality at this point.

    Unfortunately, it's hard to know which personalities you're going to like and which you're going to hate. BG1s mages more than any other characters seem to typically have a large vocal group who absolutely love them and a large vocal group who absolutely hate them.
  • DonCzirrDonCzirr Member Posts: 4
    Thanks for all the information thus far.

    I had never even considered a Bard – since in many systems Bard’s are a waste of a party slot.

    And yes – Edwin – my current Party Magic Missile machine (amongst other things) is unfortunately off the table as I am really looking for an all good or neutral party.

    I’ve always been evil so I want to really get the “good guy” experience.

    I’m giving stronger consideration to Dynaheir now – since I always play my character as a Sorcerer and thus can fill in any major deficits for a Wizard.

    I see Dynaheir cannot cast the key crowd control spells – but as mentioned that would be fine as my PC can fill in the gap.

    I want Minsc as well so that seems to fit – but hopefully she is not too annoying. My only experience with her was murdering her for Edwin so we really did not have too much time to get acquainted.

    Any additional opinions on her are welcomed – and yep – I know the enjoyment / personality part is all subjective – but happy to hear what folks think.

    Neera also seems intriguing - but another pet peeve of mine is reliability. I tried Warhammer Quest at one point and got very frustrated when the mages flubbed due to chance.

    Looks like I have some in-game interviews to perform. =)
    OrlonKronsteenSkatanAerakar
  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member Posts: 1,242
    @DonCzirr Add BGNPC Project and you will enjoy Dyna even more.
    tbone1OrlonKronsteen
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 2,818
    @DonCzirr
    Bards are great and absolutely viable as the party "mage" in BG1. Note that Bards take more micro than any other class to really shine. But if you use them well, they are one of the strongest classes in the game. Dynaheir is a strong caster, but she doesn't have much of a personality, even by BG1 standards.
    thespace
  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 761
    DonCzirr said:

    I see Dynaheir cannot cast the key crowd control spells – but as mentioned that would be fine as my PC can fill in the gap.

    This is actually a complete and total non-issue. Sleep can be replaced by a wand, and the best crowd control spell in the entire game, Web, is (bafflingly) an Invocation spell... which means enemies get a -2 save penalty when Dynahier casts it. I'd go so far as to say that Dynahier is the best crowd controller in the game, especially once you've grabbed a Ring of Free Action (from Dushai in Ulgoth's Beard) and the Spider's Bane 2-handed sword.

    Xan is another option; I actually quite like his personality, and while losing all offensive spells might seem like a dealbreaker, nothing is a dealbreaker in BG1 because of how OP wands are. He can still spam Fireballs until the cows come home thanks to the Wand of Fire. (Wands are also the reason why bards can be viable mages in BG1.) And once he hits level 9 and gets Chaos and Feeblemind, he's the only disabler who can give a web-spamming Dynahier a run for her money.
    tbone1ThacoBellAerakar
  • fatelessfateless Member Posts: 303
    Dynaheir usually isn't too annoying for most people. if your reputations is higher she's usually pretty pleasing and complimentary unless your charisma is totally tanked as a dump stat and then your rep will rarely matter with any of them. Dynaheir and Minsc are invariably linked unless you want to chunk one or the other to only have one of them which is something to keep in mind with her. Also. If you don't talk to Edward before going to get her he may attack you when you do. (although you used to be able to get both in the vanilla game somehow and I think this was part of it.)

    Xan however gets kind of annoying to listen to his fatalistic complaining after a while unless you have really high Charisma. He also can't use things like Fireball if you were wanting to use them as Evocation is his banned school. Wands of Fire as has been mentioned above does mitigate this a bit however.

    Neera is real love hate. Talks a fair bit which some like and some don't. And her magic is somewhat unpredictable. Again something that some hate and some don't. Specially if they are into low save runs (which I've noticed that various auto-saves have been added to the game.)
  • tbone1tbone1 Member Posts: 762
    I will back up Xan and Dynaheir. You can use wands for the spells they can't us, and their limitations, while noteworthy, are not critical. In fact, they will make you better at playing mages. I recommend skull trap and chromatic orb for Xan.
    ThacoBell
  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 761
    tbone1 said:

    I will back up Xan and Dynaheir. You can use wands for the spells they can't us, and their limitations, while noteworthy, are not critical. In fact, they will make you better at playing mages. I recommend skull trap and chromatic orb for Xan.

    Sadly, Chromorb is Evocation. Melf's Acid Arrow is fair game, though.

    Also, BG1 Wands of Frost are the bee's knees, (though BG2 Wands of Frost suck). Just remember to turn off gore so you don't accidentally destroy any loot.
    thespaceOrlonKronsteen
  • WarChiefZekeWarChiefZeke Member Posts: 571
    Xan. No contest.

    Not good on morale though
    ZaghoulOrlonKronsteenSkatanQuartz
  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member Posts: 1,242

    Xan. No contest.

    Not good on morale though

    Xan is especially interesting with BGNPC Project and Xanbg1friends mods, both together.
    OrlonKronsteen
  • WatchForWolvesWatchForWolves Member Posts: 88
    ThacoBell said:

    @DonCzirr
    Bards are great and absolutely viable as the party "mage" in BG1.

    Well, "Bards" might be absolutely viable, but the one Bard in BG is Garrick, and he just fails at life.
  • OrlonKronsteenOrlonKronsteen Member Posts: 276

    ThacoBell said:

    @DonCzirr
    Bards are great and absolutely viable as the party "mage" in BG1.

    Well, "Bards" might be absolutely viable, but the one Bard in BG is Garrick, and he just fails at life.
    You just have to listen to his lyrics, man! ;) Seriously, though, while he seems like a mediocrity, it's through Garrick that I came to learn that there's no such thing as a 'useless' character (which is how I used to describe him). His dex is serviceable, and, throw some equipment his way and give him a point in longbows or shortbows and he can be a decent archer. He can be a supplementary spell caster, or as others have pointed out, he can even be your primary caster if pressed. While his regrettable int and wis don't give him a lore bonus, he can still identify a trove of items, saving you money or spell slots. And, as others have pointed out, wands. On a personal note, I don't find him annoying, which goes farther and farther as an attribute for me these days.
    ThacoBellthespaceAerakar
  • BigfishBigfish Member Posts: 365

    ThacoBell said:

    @DonCzirr
    Bards are great and absolutely viable as the party "mage" in BG1.

    Well, "Bards" might be absolutely viable, but the one Bard in BG is Garrick, and he just fails at life.
    There's also Eldoth, although he is evil.
  • WarChiefZekeWarChiefZeke Member Posts: 571
    edited May 21

    ThacoBell said:

    @DonCzirr
    Bards are great and absolutely viable as the party "mage" in BG1.

    Well, "Bards" might be absolutely viable, but the one Bard in BG is Garrick, and he just fails at life.
    You just have to listen to his lyrics, man! ;) Seriously, though, while he seems like a mediocrity, it's through Garrick that I came to learn that there's no such thing as a 'useless' character (which is how I used to describe him). His dex is serviceable, and, throw some equipment his way and give him a point in longbows or shortbows and he can be a decent archer. He can be a supplementary spell caster, or as others have pointed out, he can even be your primary caster if pressed. While his regrettable int and wis don't give him a lore bonus, he can still identify a trove of items, saving you money or spell slots. And, as others have pointed out, wands. On a personal note, I don't find him annoying, which goes farther and farther as an attribute for me these days.
    Better yet, make use of his Crossbow skill and give him the +5 crossbow you get in bg1 and bracers of archery. He's a wand using, arrow slinging machine. Very powerful.
    OrlonKronsteenGallowglassAerakar
  • DonCzirrDonCzirr Member Posts: 4
    edited May 21
    I checked out the voice sets on Xan – he goes on my ban list straight away. His moaning is almost as bad as Kagain’s it seems.

    Neera – she seems a bit perky - with a little bit of sass – but I’ll already have Imoen for that.

    Dynaheir is definitely not my “cup of tea”, but is my front runner at the moment as it seems like she won’t piss me off on a regular basis.

    Given this recent batch of “interview” experiences, there does not appear to be a stellar cast on-hand for the good party magical line-up. =)

    Oh well … Let’s see how this sounds:


    Minsc
    Dyanheir
    Jaheira (only … after I run a train of HobGoblins on Khalid)
    my PC (Sorcerer)
    Imoen
    Branwen


    Bards ... will probably be on my next run with Evil again. I was not happy with Garrick - sounded like too much of a "dandy" for my taste ....
    OrlonKronsteen
  • SomeSortSomeSort Member Posts: 761

    ThacoBell said:

    @DonCzirr
    Bards are great and absolutely viable as the party "mage" in BG1.

    Well, "Bards" might be absolutely viable, but the one Bard in BG is Garrick, and he just fails at life.
    He has access to both wands *AND* bows, the two most overpowered things in Baldur's Gate, which automatically makes him a very powerful NPC.

    (But annoying.)

    (Also, Bigfish already mentioned Eldoth, the second bard in BG. I tend to think that Garrick is better than Eldoth mechanically just because of the 16 dex vs. 12 dex. All about that Ranged THACO, yo. Though Eldoth can craft poison arrows as an innate ability.)
    ThacoBell
  • OrlonKronsteenOrlonKronsteen Member Posts: 276
    @DonCzirr You have a really strong six-member party. A sorcerer plus Dynaheir; two melee fighters; two divine casters and a dedicated thief. Solid. Enjoy your game! :)
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 2,818
    SomeSort said:

    ThacoBell said:

    @DonCzirr
    Bards are great and absolutely viable as the party "mage" in BG1.

    Well, "Bards" might be absolutely viable, but the one Bard in BG is Garrick, and he just fails at life.
    He has access to both wands *AND* bows, the two most overpowered things in Baldur's Gate, which automatically makes him a very powerful NPC.

    (But annoying.)

    (Also, Bigfish already mentioned Eldoth, the second bard in BG. I tend to think that Garrick is better than Eldoth mechanically just because of the 16 dex vs. 12 dex. All about that Ranged THACO, yo. Though Eldoth can craft poison arrows as an innate ability.)
    Garrick is really underappreciated.
    thespaceOrlonKronsteenGallowglass
  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 1,145
    DonCzirr said:

    I checked out the voice sets on Xan – he goes on my ban list straight away. His moaning is almost as bad as Kagain’s it seems.

    Neera – she seems a bit perky - with a little bit of sass – but I’ll already have Imoen for that.

    Dynaheir is definitely not my “cup of tea”, but is my front runner at the moment as it seems like she won’t piss me off on a regular basis.

    Given this recent batch of “interview” experiences, there does not appear to be a stellar cast on-hand for the good party magical line-up. =)

    Oh well … Let’s see how this sounds:


    Minsc
    Dyanheir
    Jaheira (only … after I run a train of HobGoblins on Khalid)
    my PC (Sorcerer)
    Imoen
    Branwen


    Bards ... will probably be on my next run with Evil again. I was not happy with Garrick - sounded like too much of a "dandy" for my taste ....

    Solid party.........also my idea of hell on earth.
    Sarevok, just kill me now and spare me.....please.

    Enjoy. :)
    SkatanOrlonKronsteen
  • fatelessfateless Member Posts: 303
    If you go for 17-18 charisma on your main char. And use the tome on mainchar as well. you wipe out a lot of the whining of Xan. The higher, the better in general.

    But this applies to the complaining of most of the neutral/evil characters.
    OrlonKronsteen
  • DhariusDharius Member Posts: 144
    edited May 21
    An alternative bard to Garrick (and as mentioned above Garrick is very useful) is Eldoth.
    Eldoth is quite good but you'll probably get him rather late in the game. I agree that bards are worth it in BG1, and he has decent strength which means if you like you can teach him to use long heavy weapons such as 2H swords or halberds to back up front line fighters. The downside is he'll bang on about his quest in the city unless you attend to it. His personal mini-quest once you do do what he says is quite interesting I guess (most of the original BG characters don't have their own quests) and you can get some cash, a unique NPC (that you can't get otherwise)and magic items out of it.


    What about Xzar?
    He's not bad and he's also the earliest wizard you can find in the game so you can build him up as you like in terms of spells and weapon proficiencies. He also comes with Montaron who is a decent F/T which is a good thing I think as you'll need thieves generally. He has average CON though (and most of the NPC mages in the game have above average CON) which can be a problem relatively


    PS I'm not sure that Garrick can use the +5 crossbow as it needs 15 STR I think...he can use the crossbow of speed though and is lethal with it :)

    PPS wands, wands, wands
  • fatelessfateless Member Posts: 303
    Xzar and Eledoth are both evil so they don't fit the good party thing.
  • DonCzirrDonCzirr Member Posts: 4

    DonCzirr said:

    I checked out the voice sets on Xan – he goes on my ban list straight away. His moaning is almost as bad as Kagain’s it seems.

    Neera – she seems a bit perky - with a little bit of sass – but I’ll already have Imoen for that.

    Dynaheir is definitely not my “cup of tea”, but is my front runner at the moment as it seems like she won’t piss me off on a regular basis.

    Given this recent batch of “interview” experiences, there does not appear to be a stellar cast on-hand for the good party magical line-up. =)

    Oh well … Let’s see how this sounds:


    Minsc
    Dyanheir
    Jaheira (only … after I run a train of HobGoblins on Khalid)
    my PC (Sorcerer)
    Imoen
    Branwen


    Bards ... will probably be on my next run with Evil again. I was not happy with Garrick - sounded like too much of a "dandy" for my taste ....

    Solid party.........also my idea of hell on earth.
    Sarevok, just kill me now and spare me.....please.


    Enjoy. :)

    @ UnderstandMouseMagic .... LOL - so I gather your comment is about the voices / personalities for that group? Given even my meager experience with the "good" line-up, I could see some "less than optimal" choices here ... but it appears that picking from the good character set in BG1 is a choice of "lesser annoyances" .

    Getting an evil party together was also difficult but they seem to have the edge on personalities - Dorn, Viconia help there.

    I usually make Dorn the party leader so his voice acting is the one I hear most of all.

    Conversely, if I had to listen to Khalid every few minutes, I most assuredly would have to purchase a new monitor after a few short sessions (critical hit from blunt fist)
    OrlonKronsteenUnderstandMouseMagicMontresor_SP
  • OrlonKronsteenOrlonKronsteen Member Posts: 276
    For many years I did strictly evil runs, and one of the reasons was I always found the good NPCs annoying (many of them unbearably so) for their whining, wimpyness, saccharine-sweetness, goody-two-shoe-edness and generally irritating personalities. A few years ago I started feeling guilty (sometimes, anyway) for playing evil, so I started doing good runs. But to do that I have to create at least some of my own NPCs so I won't have to take the really irritating ones along. While I like Xan (my charisma is usually high so he doesn't whine that much), I don't always want an enchanter so I often roll my own NPC mage. It's an option to consider, at least for future runs.
  • QuartzQuartz Member Posts: 3,703
    edited May 22
    SomeSort said:

    DonCzirr said:

    I see Dynaheir cannot cast the key crowd control spells – but as mentioned that would be fine as my PC can fill in the gap.

    This is actually a complete and total non-issue.
    I really wouldn't call her terribly-empty fourth level spellbook a non-issue ... but OK.

    Dynaheir is just fine other than that, don't get me wrong, but her fourth level spellbook leaves a lot to be desired. No Confusion, Emotion: Hopelessness, nor Greater Malison? Yikes.
    SomeSort said:

    I'd go so far as to say that Dynahier is the best crowd controller in the game,

    She's OK at it, but Xan is the CC King, hands down.
    SomeSort said:

    Xan is another option; I actually quite like his personality, and while losing all offensive spells might seem like a dealbreaker, nothing is a dealbreaker in BG1 because of how OP wands are. He can still spam Fireballs until the cows come home thanks to the Wand of Fire. (Wands are also the reason why bards can be viable mages in BG1.) And once he hits level 9 and gets Chaos and Feeblemind, he's the only disabler who can give a web-spamming Dynahier a run for her money.

    Right you are! Once Xan starts getting level 4 and level 5 spell slots his crowd control is terrifying. Of course, I fill most of his level 3 spell slots with Slow (possibly the most OP spell in BG1) and Skull Trap.
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