So, I've recently started Baldur's Gate 2 for the first time (importing my character from Baldur's Gate 1) and I'm still kinda unsatisfied with my choice of character. He is a human Paladin, not at all very interesting to roleplay, and I find myself thinking a lot about how many different characters I could've made.
After a bit of research on classes, races, multiclassing, dual-classing (dual-classing sounds like a lot of hard work, plus the downtime between classes seems awful long) etc, I'm still unsure how "viable" some of these classes are according to my own playstyle. Roleplaying should take priority over 'mechanical' thinking.
For instance, I read a lot about how ungodly powerful mages can be - and yeah, I had a lot of fun with both Neera and Xan -, but it seems like mages are not very reliable in a dungeon or a long series of fights as the number of spells are very limited even after attaining higher levels, meaning I'd have to set up camp and rest after almost every fight OR have my PC mage character just sit in the back for the most part (which is what I did with Neera and Xan unless it was a major fight) and let the brawlers take care of business. This doesn't sound like a whole lot of fun if your character, the hero or anti-hero, is a mage. The Paladin felt like a gimped fighter - with poor roleplaying choices on top of that -, but at least he is active in the fore front and doesn't requite a lot of sleep to keep going between minor fights and/or an entire dungeon, assuming it's not a multi-level structure like Durlag's.
Fighter/mages on the other hand seem a lot more reliable assuming you have a second mage for offensive spells like fireball etc, and then have the vast majority of your F/M's spells focused on self buffs like Shield, Blur, Mirror Image, Ghost armor etc. Most of these spells last a long enough time to be useful in a series of fights, and I did a test character in Baldur's Gate 2 to see it for myself. To put it mildly, I was shocked at how easy it was for me to push the Fighter/Mage AC all the way to -5 without wearing any armor. This is nuts. Combined with the elf racial bonus to longswords - not to mention the resistance to charm and sleep -, and my test F/M character was already WAY AHEAD of my Paladin. Much better AC, better Thac0, better versatility, a much more interesting character overall.
A pure mage - or any other specialist mage for that matter - benefits from more spells and faster levelling, sure, but how do you deal with the limited amount of spells? You need both defensive and offensive spells seeing as melee is not a viable choice. Thac0 is just awful and weapon skills are lacking. I imagine these people who say mages/sorcerers are OP don't really mind resting after every 1-2 fights, but I don't like "over resting" as it feels wrong and the roleplayer in me can't see how a group of people would choose to sleep in a dark, damp dungeon unless it was absolutely necessary. What is even more aggravating is that it feels "gamey" and mechanical to quicksave / rest numerous times in the course of a quest. Mages are powerful yet dependant on NPCs to do their fighting 80-90% of the time, assuming you don't want to waste your spells on every engagement and just sit back.
Fighter/Mage/Thief is an odd choice of character, imho. From what I've researched, F/M/T is a versatile, powerful multiclass early on, but falls short in the mid to long run. It takes too long to have a decent amount of spells to cast, meaning you won't be a very good mage for most of the early and mid content. You miss on the better upper level spells, too. Maybe I'm not seeing it for what it really is, but to me F/M/T is not a very good choice of character.
And then we come to brawlers. A melee focused character like a pure fighter is a very simple class yet extremely reliable character. I don't know yet if you can push the AC to the same levels a Fighter/Mage can, but fighters are persistent tanks with great AC and the best thac0 in the game. Almost no downtime as you don't need to make camp just for the sake of replenishing spells. The dwarven defender looks to me the most interesting of the fighter kits, but I also liked the Berserker and the Barbarian kits. A dual-wielding dwarf with great resists must be a powerhouse in his own right. The only disadvantages I can think of is the dependancy on potions and/or mages & clerics/druids for buffs and magic protection AND the fact pure melee characters can be boring after a while. I know this because I'm bored to death of just point & clicking my way through brawls in Baldur's Gate 1. There's very little variety to it. The most fun I had in my party was controlling Xan to disable large groups of enemies with spells like Sleep and charm. Neera was mostly offensive spells like fireball, but I rarely used her for fear of wasting her spells too quickly.
What do you think? Am I missing something in my initial assessment of these classes? Do you have any suggestions? Should I just stick to the human Paladin until I'm finished with my first run of the series?