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Favorite backstabbed w/ full party?

Planning out a future run, and after having dualed Shar-Teel in this one, I’m feeling like a PC who can backstab would be fun. What I’m not sure about, though, is which would be the most fun for a full run.

F/T- Lots of durability and damage when not backstabbing, levels reasonably quickly, doesn’t get mage tricks.

F/M/T- Levels more slowly, gets interesting mage tricks, doesn’t get level 9 spells and needs 2.25m xp to get Mislead even once.

M/T- Lots more mage tricks, gets Mislead at 1.5m xp, THAC0 suffers and less utility when fighting basic random groups of enemies (where using spells isn’t really worth it).

C/T- Doesn’t get mage tricks, THAC0 is meh and APR is low, can use cleric spells for powerful backstabs

Thief classes- I’m a little less inclined due to lack of utility when not actually backstabbing/trap laying, but Bounty Hunter and Shadowdancer strike me as marginally more interesting than the others.

Anyone with thoughts or experiences to share?

Comments

  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 984
    edited December 2020
    FMT is easily the most fun in my opinion for a full run. You play them as FTs who additionally become nearly invulnerable in melee through mage buffs like mirror image and stoneskin. Probably the second-strongest character in the game after FM and definitely the most versatile, even granting that as a triple-class character they never receive 9th level spells.

    Post edited by jsaving on
  • UlshUlsh Member Posts: 17
    For me it's the gnome illusionist/thief. Thematically I think illusionist and thief go well together. And if you're into mage tricks (and considering your post, I think you are!) you'd want as many of them as possible. This character is a specialist mage and does not have a stunted spell progression like the FMT. For instance, if you're into misleads, this character will have 2 more at 8kk XP than the FMT, on top of being able to cast 3 level 9 spells.
    For fights against opponents who see through invisibility, you can easily go into melee combat considering all the protection spells you have available. The THAC0 really isn't a problem, you'll do just fine.

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 1,395
    I'm a fan of fighter/thief duals; I've played both a kensai-thief and an (EEKeepered) fighter-assassin. They're nearly as good as the multiclass fighter/thief in straight combat, and the extra damage from grandmastery or kit bonuses gets multiplied in a backstab. When you get it going, you can one-hit-kill fire giants.

    The drawback? You're a pure fighter in BG1 and early BG2. No backstabbing at all until some time in SoA. Unless you give that role to another party member in BG1.

    Of those two kit combinations... a pure kensai is more drawback than anything in BG1. You get +2/+2 to attack and damage, but can't use the gauntlets of weapon expertise with their +1/+2. And between no helmet and no armor, you always have to pay attention and not let melee enemies gang up on you. Once you become a thief, stealth is another option to protect you, and that dovetails nicely with a backstab focus. Get your fighter levels back, and now you're suddenly dealing massive damage with your stabs. Reach Use Any Item, and the main drawback of your kit goes away.
    The fighter-assassin is a much smoother progression, though probably a little less powerful in the long run. No extra equipment restrictions, so you're not fighting at a drawback early on. But on the flip side, much less of a free attack/damage boost once you overcome that, and slower skill progression so you take longer to develop non-stealth options.

    If you go for a mage option, keep polymorphs in mind. Ogre form isn't great for stealth (and it's bugged to strike as a nonmagical weapon in BG2EE 2.5), but it can backstab and deals shockingly high weapon damage. I had Imoen stabbing for 50+ regularly in one run. At the extremes, I recently theory-crafted a build that could one-shot Sarevok.

    Adam_en_tium
  • Balrog99Balrog99 Member Posts: 6,738
    edited December 2020
    F/T is pretty fun. Go with a dwarf or halfling for the shorty saves and more survivability. Dwarf is more powergamey with the higher strength but the halfling is a better thief and you can use belts/gauntlets to overcome the strength detriment. A halfling F/T is the closest ive come to finishing a solo no-reload in BGEE. I chose CG so I could use Drizzt's scimitars. He was quite good (but alas succumbed to the Iron Throne gang in Baldur's Gate).

    Aerakar
  • Adam_en_tiumAdam_en_tium Member Posts: 68
    Hello @jmerry ,

    Merry Christmas to all :smiley:

    At what kensai/fighter level do you dual from ?
    Thanks for your insightful posts !

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 1,395
    edited December 2020
    When I've done it, I've gone for a level 13 dual. Full APR, better saves than an earlier dual, and better THAC0. The downtime can be long, but there are ways to accelerate it. One time, I timed things to reach 1.25 million XP just as I reunited with Imoen, and brought enough scrolls to have her scribe/erase through all of the downtime as the rest of the party stood by temporarily dismissed (880K XP for 14 thief levels, 1.76 million total for two characters).

    An earlier dual can work well too; dual-classing at level 9 early in BG2 leaves you with hardly any downtime before you're fully functional and stabbing with a grandmastered weapon. But in the long run, you end up with a base THAC0 of 10 instead of 8, saves of 8/4/7/9/5 instead of 5/4/6/5/5, and a smaller kensai bonus if using that kit.

    Tactically, the thing to watch for is that backstabbers take a lot of attention and micromanagement to handle right. One focused backstabber in a party works well, but two are more trouble than it's worth. A second thief is fine, but they should be focusing on other skills like traps and locks.
    For a backstabber's AI, I typically have them automatically hide, but not auto-attack. Auto-pausing when a character's target dies might be useful, but I wouldn't do that now; it just goes off too much, and I like a smoother combat flow these days.

    P.S. In my time zone, it's not Christmas quite yet.

    Adam_en_tium
  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 984
    Weighing the benefits of grandmastery and the kensai kit against the loss of shorty saves and fighter HLAs (and the tedium of extended downtime) is not an easy decision to make. The good news is that just about any properly built FT will be plenty strong.

    Adam_en_tiumAerakar
  • alceryesalceryes Member Posts: 375
    If you don't mind making a wee bit of an edit.
    Gnome Fighter/Illusionist/Thief, FTW!

    They are soooo much fun!

  • masteralephmasteraleph Member Posts: 136
    alceryes wrote: »
    If you don't mind making a wee bit of an edit.
    Gnome Fighter/Illusionist/Thief, FTW!

    They are soooo much fun!

    Just for the extra spell (and shorty saves, I guess) more or less? How are you doing the edit? EEKeeper to change kit, or does it require modding?

  • BlackravenBlackraven Member Posts: 3,425
    alceryes wrote: »
    If you don't mind making a wee bit of an edit.
    Gnome Fighter/Illusionist/Thief, FTW!

    They are soooo much fun!

    Just for the extra spell (and shorty saves, I guess) more or less? How are you doing the edit? EEKeeper to change kit, or does it require modding?

    EEKeeper will do the job. Gnomes are special in that they can even have two kits, one of them being Illusionist, without needing mods. If you create a Fighter/Mage/Thief with the Kensai kit in EEKeeper, your Gnome will automatically become a Kensai/Illusionist/Thief. This is because Gnomes are hard-wired to be specialist mages.

    AerakarStummvonBordwehr
  • alceryesalceryes Member Posts: 375
    edited December 2020
    Yup. High Con gives you a great bonus and who doesn't like extra (spell) firepower!

    Blackraven
  • Adam_en_tiumAdam_en_tium Member Posts: 68
    This discussion has given me a lot to think about.
    I don't have a lot of time to play and I would really like to play a bounty hunter starting in candlekeep. But backstabing is also cool.
    Is a pure thief a viable option to backstab a lot ? Set trap, hide, backstab and lure remaining enemies in traps, kind of gameplay.

    I could also start as a bounty hunter and do a late dual into fighter ? But I fear the downtime and the late game immunities to backstab.
    The other option is to create 2 characters, one BH and one kensai planned to dual and play them as a duo. Or modify an existing npc (but which one...)

    Blackraven
  • BlackravenBlackraven Member Posts: 3,425
    This discussion has given me a lot to think about.
    I don't have a lot of time to play and I would really like to play a bounty hunter starting in candlekeep. But backstabbing is also cool.
    Is a pure thief a viable option to backstab a lot ? Set trap, hide, backstab and lure remaining enemies in traps, kind of gameplay.

    I could also start as a bounty hunter and do a late dual into fighter ? But I fear the downtime and the late game immunities to backstab.
    The other option is to create 2 characters, one BH and one kensai planned to dual and play them as a duo. Or modify an existing npc (but which one...)

    A bounty hunter is definitely a viable trapper cum backstabber even if you don't dual them.

    Obviously no one can compete with the bounty hunter when it comes to traps. And while their backstabs won't be as dependable or damaging as those of say, a Cleric/Thief (Holy Power, Righteous Magic) or a Kensai->Thief, a 19 STR Half-Orc with Aule's staff is a backstabber to be reckoned with as early as in Chapter 1 of the first game.

    The damage bonus from 19 STR won't be multiplied by your backstab multiplier, but it does add to your damage. And the +2 Thac0 bonus compared to an 18 STR character will allow you to hit enemies more reliably. If you're more patient you could also pick another race with 18 STR and wait till the tome in Candlekeep to get 19 STR. An Elf for example gets +1 Thac0 bonus with longswords and short swords. But if you want to play the type of character you describe form the start, I'd go Half-Orc. The strength tome for 20 STR (only +1 damage) won't be as good for them as for characters with only 18 STR, but on the other hand from 20 STR it'll be possible to get +1 with the machine of lum the mad and +2 in Hell if you attack wraith Sarevok. That's 23 STR, or permanent cloud giant strength. Only Crom Faeyr can top that, and you'll always have a +1 Thac0 and a +1 damage advantage over a character that can 'only' reach 22 STR. The Thac0 advantage especially counts, because Thieves' Thac0 stops progressing once it reaches 10 (unless you mod your games like I do). So Thac0 bonuses from high STR, high weapon enchantments, and items will be helpful for your bounty hunter to keep being dependable backstabbers / damage dealers.
    I mentioned Aule's Staff, but there are lots of really good staves throughout the saga:
    - Staff Mace +2 (a one-handed weapon, can be useful in certain situations, available in BG1 and BG2),
    - Staff of Striking (rechargable, most damaging backstabbing weapon until ToB, available in BG1 and BG2),
    - Staff of Rynn (+4 available from Ribald Barterman in Chapter 2 SoA),
    - Staff of the Magi (usable once you've picked the Use Any Item HLA),
    - Staff of the Ram (most damaging backstabbing weapon in the game).
    Another advantage of staves for backstabbing purposes is that it's a two-handed weapon. If you place a pip in two-handed weapon style, you'll get critical hits on a roll of 19 as well as 20, and you get another +1 to damage which will actually get multiplied by your backstab multiplier.

    You mention late game backstab immunities, but I'd like to say that those shouldn't be overstated. Yes there are a number of bosses with backstab immunities in ToB, but in those boss fights, you'll generally be fighting groups of enemies. There will be plenty of sidekicks that can be dangerous in their own right for your bounty hunter to take out in those fights.

    You say you'd be willing to play as a duo, so I guess no full party for you. I'd go with a Cleric/Mage companion in that case: Quayle in in BG1 and Aerie in BG2. For SoD you'd either have to use EEKeeper to edit an NPC, force Quayle into the party at the end of the starting dungeon, or create a custom character. Or you could take a wizard (my advice would be Baeloth) and do without the divine magic. The reason I mention Cleric/Mage is that they have so many useful spells to complement your playstyle:
    - Summons can clear up whatever survives your backstabs/traps,
    - Debuffs will allow you to one-shot otherwise untouchable enemy mages,
    - Buffs will make you strike harder and more often,
    - Protection spells will help keep your bounty hunter alive,
    - Cure type spells will help your bounty hunter come back to their senses after having been charmed, stunned etc.
    If you want to play with a full party, you'll have even more options, but you can be sure that your bounty hunter can remain a useful member of the party all the way till the end, not just with traps and stabs, but also detecting illusions, reading scrolls, using items they're not supposed to, etc.

    Curses, now look what you've done lol. You've made me want to roll a Half-Orc bounty hunter, and I was just enjoying my priest of Talos and his party of elementalists.

    Adam_en_tiumAerakarStummvonBordwehr
  • Adam_en_tiumAdam_en_tium Member Posts: 68
    I tend to play parties of 4 or 5. But my current playthrough is with 6 members. The more micro intensive my main char is, the lower the number.

    I want to play a BH because I'm currently testing this mod : https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/comment/1084804 by @kjeron
    I invested in the set trap skill with Alora and had a lot of fun with all the traps you pick up (web traps, fireball traps, lightening traps, charm and domination traps, etc...)

    Epic thief skills by @OlvynChuru seems like a very cool mod too.

    And yes THAC0 is what I worry about. What mod do you use that changes rogue TACH0 progression ?

    Half-orc is pretty cool, but my Idea is to do an evil (Money-grubber) female protagonist who will romance Edwin in BG2 and the mod require you to be human, elf, half-elf, halfling or gnome (https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/77361/edwin-romance-now-also-eet-compatible).
    Maybe I'll go with elf for a short-sword specialty, and maybe rp her as a drow (just thought this now ^^)
    The single weapon style might be a good idea for crits and a little AC boost.

    in BG1 my team will be : Edwin, Eldoth, Garrick, Safana (replaced by Skie), Kagain
    Unbalanced but it will be the occasion to test the triangle between Edwin, Skie and Eldoth. Kagain and Eldoth are consistent with my greedy main char. Maybe I'll kick Garrick and get Viconia later.

    SOD : Edwin and Viconia
    Maybe add Dorn to have a melee char. or just rely on summons...

    BG2 : Edwin, Viconia, Korgan and Yoshimo (maybe replaced by mr S. in ToB)

    BlackravenAerakar
  • BlackravenBlackraven Member Posts: 3,425
    Looks like a fun set-up and theme. That mod by @kjeron looks really good, and I'm definitely going to try it too. Am glad you pointed it out to me because I didn't know about it.

    The Tweaks Anthology has a component called Un-Nerfed THAC0 Table, which lets the Thac0 progression of non-warrior classes continue after level 20. Rogues can end up with a base Thac0 of 1 IIRC.

    Adam_en_tiumAerakarStummvonBordwehr
  • Adam_en_tiumAdam_en_tium Member Posts: 68
    Thanks, I use the Tweaks Anthology but I didn't notice, there is so many components !

    Glad I made you discover this cool mod. It makes traps more fun, I always found them quite unfun...

    BlackravenAerakar
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