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Evil Shadowdancer to mage (or not?): When to dual, stronghold...

Hi all!

Currently doing a fun evil run of BGEE, with more of a RP flavour than powergaming. (Still rolled a 96, but eh, demigods be demigods, eh?)
Eivin's a charismatic and cunning human shadowdancer playing it nice for the reputation but secretly hungry for power. He likes to backstab people with daggers.
The idea is to continue to BG2EE, but I'm a little on the fence about character progression. The original idea was to dual him to mage at lvl 10 in early BG2EE, but I'm not sure how it would play out regarding a few things:
- Regarding party composition (evil only), I won't have access to Hexxat, so he'd be the only thief and dualed at that, is that viable at all in late BG2/TOB?
- I somehow want to mage him up for RP reasons and to make him more viable damage-wise (with spell boosts and other tricks to compensate for lower backstab multiplier), does that make any sense? Would I miss out on high-level thiefing, besides UAI (too cheesy for this playthrough!)? How far can I go with only a dualled thief?
- I want to do the thief stronghold rather than the planar sphere. That would require me to dual to mage only after accepting it, right? How does it go xp-wise with game progression? Not sure if I should go for the xp cap in BGEE (which might make me go pretty quickly beyond level 10 in BG2EE before I get the thief guild quest done, since I'll need Korgan and Edwin too on the way) or move on quickly with a certain duke coronation so I can get the stronghold before losing my thief levels for a while. (Or... Would it make sense to actually wait out for the thief levels to come back before going for the guild, so... 10 mage levels?)
(This is under the assumption that only active classes are taken into account for stronghold access, correct?)

Looking forward to RPing evil in Amn - always stuck to goody-two-shoes before, so I have a bunch of quests and contents to discover still. After 20 years! Incredible.

Thanks!

Comments

  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,151
    edited January 7
    - Regarding party composition (evil only), I won't have access to Hexxat, so he'd be the only thief and dualed at that, is that viable at all in late BG2/TOB?
    Not sure I understand that, isn't Hexxat evil? But either way, one thief should be just fine. No thief is fine, too :P
    - I somehow want to mage him up for RP reasons and to make him more viable damage-wise (with spell boosts and other tricks to compensate for lower backstab multiplier), does that make any sense? Would I miss out on high-level thiefing, besides UAI (too cheesy for this playthrough!)? How far can I go with only a dualled thief?
    I've always thought UAI - while good - is definitely overrated. Mages rule BG2/ToB. In the face of what they can do, some missing thief power won't matter much.
    - I want to do the thief stronghold rather than the planar sphere. That would require me to dual to mage only after accepting it, right? How does it go xp-wise with game progression?
    BG2 has plenty of XP, but there will be downtime if you dual at 10. That doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad idea to do so, of course. The thief stronghold is probably the easiest and fastes to get, though, so you should be good on that front.

    For dual-class characters, the stronghold choices offered count all ACTIVE classes. So if you're e.g. Thief10/Mage9 only Mage is active and you can only get the Sphere; but if you're Thief10/Mage11 then both Thief and Mage are active, and you can pick either the Guild or the Sphere.

  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 659
    Can you be the party's only thief if you do something like shadowdancer10/mage? Sure. People make do with Nalia's mediocre thief skills all the time (supplemented by potions as needed) and you'd have about 100 more thief points than she gets.

    Do thieves miss out on much if they dual rather than remaining pure? Yes, they miss out on thief trap HLAs which turn singleclass thieves from subpar contributors to instant-win buttons. However shadowdancers aren't able to use thief trap HLAs so this isn't an issue for you.

  • FranskvinnaFranskvinna Member Posts: 9
    Thanks for your replies!
    Not sure I understand that, isn't Hexxat evil? But either way, one thief should be just fine. No thief is fine, too :P

    I'm still playing on my way too old tablet (2013 and still running!) and while trying to reinstall Google services to install SoD I lost access to the Play Store, and I wasn't sure if I had ever bought the new NPCs, or if I still could. (I just checked and seems I actually have purchased them all, save for the boring monk. Heh!)
    Still, I'm using Baeloth in this run in BGEE, so I'd prefer to do without OP NPCs for a change. Oh well, I'll see...
    BG2 has plenty of XP, but there will be downtime if you dual at 10. That doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad idea to do so, of course. The thief stronghold is probably the easiest and fastes to get, though, so you should be good on that front.

    Hmmm. Still on the fence about doing Durlag/Werewolf Island for the XP (did pretty much every quest on my last run, not sure I want to do it again anytime soon) or starting BG2EE at lower level to have time to noodle around in Amn before dualling. Perhaps I'll just check my old saves to get a sense of the XP progression in the first chapters.

    @jsaving Of course I had to look up the cool SD HLAs in the meantime. So many tempting options... But good to hear that I could manage with a lvl 10 thief if dualling. Guess I'll read up some more!

  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,151
    Thief kits are actually one of the few times where dualing at 10 (as opposed to the more common 9) can actually be optimal. It's a difference for regaining to be sure, but it's generally worth it and given the abundance of XP in SoA it's not that big a deal - certainly MUCH easier than dualing at 13 (or even alter), which is practically never worth doing.

  • NeverusedNeverused Member Posts: 746
    So Evil only: yourself, Viconia, Dorn, Edwin, Korgan, and Sarevok? Hexxat is evil as well, so if you need a main Thief you can run her in the 6th slot until Sarevok or something, and Dual Sarevok to Thief afterwards.

    Other than that, though: how often are you planning on using Hide in Plain Sight i.e. basically the only reason you're using a Shadowdancer rather than anything else? How often do you want to succeed? Because to have a 100% chance in any type of lighting, you need a whopping 400 points in MS/HiS. (There's allegedly a 50% penalty to hiding in sunlight. I can't find the thread or data supporting this. They're supposedly on the Bioware forums which are deader than most of my CHARNAMEs, in that I have at least 1 alive. :tongue: ) Assuming you have 19 DEX by the end of BG1, you get 45 free points from DEX and being Human, 20 points from being a Shadowdancer, and I'm assuming you dump 30 points at level 1 into stealth: you need 305 points from levels, which requires 15 or 16 levels which is... pretty late for a dual. Yeah no.

    I see a reference to a 1/3 penalty for shadows in daylight or something? If that's true, you only need 205 points, which is possible by level 12. Indoors you'd only need 105 points, doable by level 7 and allowing two extra levels for find traps and open locks: you'd only be able to get those to a combined 90 by level 10.

    If accounting for items: Worn Whispers gives +35, very lategame SoA has the Cloak of Elvenkind for +50, and +40 for the Mercykiller Ring. Assuming the 75 and ignoring the Cloak, that puts us at only needing 30 points. At a level 10 dual, you get 180 points to play with: spending those 30, you have 150 to work with for traps and locks. Human with 19 DEX gets 30 OL and 15 FT: you can get to a pretty respectable 95 OL and 100 FT without items.

    Alright, so tldr;
    Yes. It's possible to have a shadowdancer 10 as a main thief that still has a good chance (or perfect chance indoors!) to hide successfully. You need the Worn Whispers and the Mercykiller Ring to make this work, and you have to spend 60 points in MS/HiS, 65 points in Open Locks, and 85 points in Find Traps. You still fail to hide in daylight 50% of the time, and in certain areas 33% of the time, but... It's about as good as I can come up with given the numbers and still keep the Shadowdancer feel to the dual.

    Franskvinna
  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 659
    Yeah, it's not easy to figure out the right time to dual with a shadowdancer. Ordinarily you would go thief/mage so you can use the invisibility spell to backstab at will, eliminating the need to put any thief points in stealth skills. The whole point of the shadowdancer is to give you that invisibility functionality without needing to dual. So if you then talk about putting as many thief points as possible into stealth skills before dualing then you're losing some of the thief/mage synergies.

  • smyth25smyth25 Member Posts: 174
    I've played a level 10 Shadowdancer -> Mage and I've been able to get sufficient points into open locks and find traps whilst also successfully stealthing a majority of the time. Note that even if you fail, you have 2 charges of Shadowstep to bail you out. I find though that I prefer dualling at level 13 as thats when I have maximum backstab multiplier (also, as a level 13 human shadowdancer with 19 dex, it allows me to have exactly 95 in find traps, open locks, move silently, and hide in shadows).

    The Shadowdancer/Mage dual is interesting as you get the repeated backstabbing fantasy of the Shadowdancer whilst somewhat overcoming their less exciting aspects (having spells makes up for their lack of traps, and that Shadowdancers kinda have to wait till high levels before placing points into non-essential skills). The stealth is also incredibly useful for a mage as it allows them to easily remove aggro from themselves without using up their action. Arguably one can use the Staff of the magi for this, but I personally prefer not to exploit the item.

    I'd say the quip with them is they are generally better as a solo/small party character, as opposed to a full party character, just because of potential XP requirements and micromanagement. I also find Shadowdancers fall off in TOB as a lot of enemies have invisibility detection/backstab immunity (unlike the swashbuckler/mage which is strong for the entire game, but that's a different story...)

    Franskvinna
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,151
    I mean, if repeated backstabbing is the goal, casting Mislead and storing the clone in a safe place makes you into a backstabbing machine. Works on any thief/mage combo (except Swashbuckler, for obvious reasons).

  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 659
    Shadowdancers get a backstab penalty so you would ordinarily go assassin or no kit at all if you wanted a thief/mage backstabber.

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