I'm getting close to the end of my 2nd BG2 playthrough (done BG1 maybe 4-5 times, SoD once, IWD once). I'd like to have ideas that could inspire me for what to play next if I plan on doing BG1/SoD/BG2 again.
I would also find interesting to know if there are specific weapons or items that you find to be must-have or really good for the classes you're describing.
I'm possibly interested in using a Stalker next time. I'm curious about Barbarian (the +str buff from Rage and extra health sounds insane for BG1, less so in BG2 but the resistances to physical damage seem interesting. However, the lower armor might result in a melee fighter that's always getting injured?). I'm curious about the other paladin kits (only played with Inquisitor and Undead Hunter). I'm curious about Cleric kits or multi/dual class ones (I've always used some but probably not in the right way, they were normally mostly there to heal and sprinkle buffs, sometimes tank a bit). The only Ranger I've truly played is Archer. Curious about Kensai or its variations (played a Kensai/Mage solo through BG1 and early BG2 but it felt like it would only become a weak mage late game, I didn't see the point unless it was to be able to solo the series, maybe I wasn't playing it right). Still never tried bards. For druids, aside from Jaheira multiclass, I only played a Shapeshifter once through IWD, it was ok but the Greater Werewolf's THAC0 was too weak to be truly efficient (and damage was still roughly half of my Berserker or Undead Hunter's damage). Playing Shaman in my current BG2 game but overall, I find the class to be a bit weak and not that great (I was almost about to drop her from the party when she started getting HLAs that kept her a bit relevant).
Here are a few of the ones I played more and enjoyed so far as an example:
Pros: Can use its spells depending on what is more needed during the encounters instead of ending up with several unused spells that are there just in case they would be needed. Can become really strong offensively and can instantly get the spells you want most when the spell level becomes available (no need to wait to find a scroll for it).
Cons: Much more limited in the amounts of spells it can learn making him a lot less versatile than a Mage could be. Needs careful planning beforehand or else you end up with spells you regret having picked and locked out of some you would have wanted or only get them much later on.
Many items are good but Robe of Vecna in BG2 would be the most important one I think. The hidden caster ring in early BG1 was nice too.
Pros: I think it's possibly the strongest fighter kit in most circumstances. Not much penalty (unless you like using ranged weapons with fighters) and its Rage is a really strong buff against crowd control abilities (on top of the extra bit of damage and survivability).
Cons: If the fight lasts long and Rage wears off, you end up with a penalty. Not a whole lot of flavor to the class/kit aside from what you gain from specific gear (similar with most fighters).
3- Monk (Dark Moon)
Pros: Probably one of the strongest melee in the game. Becomes godly late game (starts getting truly good at lvl 15+). High damage, immune to slow/poison/disease. Super high magic resistance (I have over 100 in BG2 with a few items but if I was naked, I would still have 78%) so becomes almost immune to most spells as well. Insane armor (currently at lvl 35, unbuffed I'm at -18 armor, -29 vs missile(!!) and I can cast Blur to boost it an other 3). Fast move speed. Can use a lot of different weapons (only 1 pip) if needed for specific situations where your +4 fists aren't optimal. Has a few abilities that are useful early game where he's weak (BG1) like Blind or the chill adding +2 dmg to fists, mirror image, etc. Quivering Palm can be quite strong if enemies fail their saving throws (insta death).
Cons: Extremely weak and rather boring at low levels (through BG1 in general and most of SoD). Can only have 1 point into weapon specializations so he can't really truly make good use of most weapons (mostly useful if you need a ranged attack, a specific element to kill off Trolls or your fist magic dmg isn't high enough yet to hit a specific target). For HLAs, there seems to only really be 2 good options (GWW or Hardiness) which might make it a bit repetitive and boring at a certain point. Cannot be hasted so at most he stays on 4 attacks per round (several GWW can fix this to a certain extend late game but also explains why Critical Hit HLA seems to be useless for him vs GWW). Very rare monk specific items (only 3 that I can think of).
For items, the helm from SoD (Headband of Focus) is great and the BG2 gloves from the underwater city (Gauntlets of Crushing). Rasaad BG2 quest gloves can be used until you can get the better gauntlets or if you can't get them based off your storyline choices. Dagger of Venom was useful for me in BG1/SoD to try to prevent caster spells.
4- Fighter / Thief
Pros: Can handle the traps and lockpicks. Good Backtab damage. Traps can be fun and allow a different playstyle (although I only started using mine late game since I was spending my points into the trap detection, unlock and the 2 abilities to go stealth and backstab). Decent THAC0 (not as good as fighters but still decent). Can do good damage with dual wield after opening with a backstab. Becomes incredibly versatily, fun and lots of flavor once you start getting the HLAs since Use All Items allows to use several mage items and scrolls, very powerful new traps as well as several good offensive options (both GWW and Critical Hit can be useful, critical hit can be used before opening with backstab for crazy damage) as well as a couple of defensive ones.
Cons: A bit squishy for a fighter (compared to Monks, pure fighters or paladins) and the THAC0 also is a bit weaker. Feels limited on weapon proficiency points (I barely have everything I needed as I was Dual Wielding Katanas through SoA and occasional staves for backstab into mostly using staff backstab in ToB and now dual wielding Longswords that I find better in the very late game). Takes long before the F/T can be proficient to do a lot of things like handle traps/unlocks+stealth for backstab+traps, etc. (I started mine in BG2 so it wasn't as bad but would probably be a lot weaker and more boring in BG1).
For items, there are so many possibilities, it's hard to tell but Staff of Ram in ToB certainly is a great one for backstabs. Mercykiller Ring also can be good to get early BG2.
Pros: Insane THAC0 (currently at -21 unbuffed at lvl 26). Good sustained damage from range that won't get stuck in the way of other melee. Weapons specialization needed are easily met (max shortbow, max(2pts) into slings and max (1pt) into axes, everything else seems useless). Has some extra utility and options with various types of magic arrows. Call shot is pretty decent mid/late game.
Cons: Not the most exciting character to play, it does its job very well but doesn't bring much else to the table. The very few low level druid spells it gains at higher levels are not very useful by then for the most part (Call Lightning is really good but can almost never be used). Arrows are consumed and you might run out of a certain type of magic arrow eventually (helps a lot if you steal most of them early BG2). Can have some issues to be able to hit certain enemies since the only bow that can hit enemies with +4 is late in SoD while every other one relies on the arrow type and even +3 aren't common (especially if you don't go do Watcher's Keep early levels) through SoA. The +5 sling is often needed in those situations but not optimal for the Archer.
If I had to redo it, I would possibly have spent those wasted points in dual wield and 1h weapons (that I've never used) into crossbow for Firetooth and extra options from having both magic arrows and magic bolts.
For items, in BG2 it would have to be Bow of Gesen and Sling of Everard+5. Azuredge +3 can be useful (anti-undead thrown axe). Other than that, there's a good shortbow in SoD (decent +THAC0 and dmg and + move speed).
Pros: Decent melee fighter with 2 excellent skills to deal with enemy spell casters (Dispell cast at high level and faster cast time and True Sight). Can use one of the best weapons in the game (2h sword) while most other classes and kits can't use it. Immune to Hold and Charm.
Cons: Dispel Magic can be bad if you rely on a lot of buffs and enemies are close to you as it will also strip your own buffs.
Items, Carsomyr (2h sword) obviously in BG2 is one of the best. Daystar (Long Sword anti-undead) also can be used and pretty decent.