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Custom Parties and Reform
In Baldur's Gate 1 EE you can create a party of your choice - ie.: fighter, mage, thief, cleric -, and leave a couple or more slots free to pick up story NPCs along the way, which IMHO is the best way to play it.
Also, you can REFORM and have your custom party members wait for your return somewhere if for whatever reason you wish to open up more slots temporarily which is awesome, too. They seem to stay put.
In Baldur's Gate 2 EE it doesn't seem to be the case. I searched the forum and somebody said custom party members disappear. I haven't personally tested it yet, tho. Is it a bug? Has it been fixed already?