Reading up on some 1st Edition D&D rules and classes, the old Bard was a class that interested me greatly. So in the interest of that, here is a guide on the Fighter/Druid multi- and dual class. This guide is meant to be usable for anyone who wants to play this combination of classes (or use Jaheira), but the roleplaying advice will be leaning more towards the Bardic side of things. It'll be more clear what I am on about in a moment.
This guide assumed you change from a Fighter to a Druid if you dual class. I haven't tried the other way around, but spellcasting tends to scale better than pure stats into higher levels, especially in Throne of Bhaal. This is even more so the case with Fighter > Druids/Clerics than most other combos, since Druids and Clerics generally have the 2nd highest stats in the game and loses much less on that front compared to capping their spellcasting early.
I will describe bonuses with a + and count upwards, while describing penalties as - and count downwards. I know the THAC0 system displays things differently, but this is also written for people who are less familiar with the 2e system. So if I say a Weapon Specialization gives +1 accuracy, I mean it modifies your THAC0 by -1 on your character sheet, which is a 1 point bonus to your chance to land a hit.
Important note: The spell list for Druids in Icewind Dale EE is very different from BGEE, so the Fighter/Druid combo will play differently in that game. There are also fewer reliable guides for what spells are in the game at any given point, so I will add a section for the Icewind Dale spell selection when I've had a chance to look over and try out the spells in that game.Fighter/Druids as Bards - Background from 1st Edition
This might seem like a strange combo for a bardic character, because ever since 2nd Edition, the Bard class has been tied primarily to Arcane magic and usually works as a pre-made multiclass between Rogue/Thief and Wizard/Mage. Back in the very old days of D&D, this was not the case.
Bards were the first Prestige Class in some ways, requiring the player to fulfill certain requirements before advancing into it. You had to be a human or half-elf* and start your adventure as a Fighter. After reaching Fighter level 5, but before reaching level 9, you had to dual class into a Thief. As a Thief, you had to reach minimum level 5 and maximum level 9. This is because Fighter level 9 (Lord) and Thief level 10 (Master Thief) were milestones that came with certain perks and obligations that would prevent the character from being accepted for Bard training.
*I am not sure how half-elves are supposed to do this, since only humans can dual class. Do they start as a multiclass Fighter/Thief or are they allowed to cirumvent the rules if they declare ahead of time they plan to be a Bard?
Once you had both Fighter and Thief at the levels you needed, you would seek out Druid training and it is at this point you would become a Bard, not a Druid. Unlike the dual class mechanics we are used to in BGEE, however, it seems you automatically got full access to your Fighter and Thief at Bard level 1.
Bards cast Druid spells as a Druid of equal level up to level 12, at which point the Bard stops advancing as a Druid, but still gains stats according to their class. Then, at level 23 (3 mill. exp), you would finally reach Druid level 13. Bards could not reach 14th level as a Druid, which prevents them from becoming Great Druids or Archdruids. In return, they have significantly greater abilities outside of their casting due to their Fighter and Thief levels.
Ordinarily the stats required to go through these three classes would be 15 Str and 17 in Dex, Wis and Cha. Declaring yourself to be on a quest to become a Bard at character creation, however, seems to change the rules slightly. You needed 15 in Str, Dex, Wis and Cha, 12 Int and finally 10 Con. Certainly not something you'd expect to ever roll in a tabletop setting, but a lot more manageable than having three stats at 17. And the non-linear progression of stats in the early additions likely made DMs more willing to let you begin with the stat requirements already in place.Adapting into Baldur's Gate
We cannot play Fighter/Thief/Druids in Baldur's Gate, but we can do the next best thing; Fighter/Druids, both as a multi- and dual class. Multiclass Fighter/Druids are required to be half-elves, while the dual class demands that you play a human.
Playing this character also has the added benefit of more closely resembling later edition Bards in terms of gameplay, especially 3rd Edition Bards and the College of Valor or Swords from 5th Edition. They are more martially inclined than 2e Bards and have a specialized spell list combining support, utility and offense. They can also cast in any type of armor.Character Creation
Race: Human, half-elf
Alignment: Must be True Neutral
Dual class requirements: 15 Str, 17 Wis & Cha
Rolling for stats on a Fighter/Druid dual class is painful, as you have so many stats to care about. However, I find that Str doesn't really need to be above 15 and Con is easily compensated for by a Potion of Fortitude when you absolutely need it. I'd go for 15 Str, 17 Wis and 17 Cha, then prioritize Dex and after that Con. The inherent strength of a Fighter/Druid tend to compensate for less than ideal stats and equipment will take care of the rest.Fighter/Druid Features and Restrictions
Generally the Fighter/Druid will get all abilities associated with the level they have in each of their classes, but there are some things to keep in mind for the specific combo of Fighter and Druid. Druids are in the Priest class group, which usually comes with a "mythos" restriction on certain types of equipment that the Fighter class cannot override. Druids have limitations for weapons and armor, but these are not fully enforced when mixing with Fighter.
- Can use any type of armor, shield and helmet without specific class requirements (Melodic Chain +3 is a Bard only chin, for example), as long as both classes are active. This bypasses normal Druid restrictions.
- Can use daggers, scimitars, clubs, quarterstaffs, slings, spears and darts. This keeps Druid restrictions.
- Gain access to Specialized (2 slots. Multiclass) or Grandmaster (5 slots. Dual class) ranks in Druid weapons. The multiclass uses a compromise between Fighter and Druid restrictions.
- Gain full access to all ranks in fighting styles.Multiclass versus dual class
Multiclass characters will play more like martial characters with good spellcasting, while the dual class will play more like a "true" mix of the two. Here are some specific differences between the two:
- Gets the best of Fighter or Druid stats (apart from HP) for their lvl. THAC0, saves etc.
- Can put 2 points into any weapon type available to Druids
- Can reach max rank in any fighting style
- Gets both Fighter and Druid HLAs
- Has no downtime after dual classing to get back Fighter abilities
- Must play as half-elf, giving a 30% resistance to certain enchantment spells.
- Progression from Druid lvl 13-15 is extremely slow because of split experience. The multiclass reaches Druid lvl 15 at 6 million total character experience, which is towards the end of the ToB.
- Doesn’t get 7th lvl spells until 3 mill. exp.
- Can put 5 points into any weapon type available to Druids once they regain their Fighter abilities
- Can reach max rank in any fighting style
- Get pure Druid stats apart from HP gained as a Fighter
- Only gets Druid HLAs
- Gets access to Fighter class kits (Berserker, Kensai, Wizard Slayer)
- Has downtime before getting back Fighter abilities when changing class
- Gets faster spell progression, totaling at 7 more spell slots and much higher caster level
- Must play as human, who have no racial bonuses
- Less downtime between Druid lvl 13 and 15. Will reach lvl 15 in early ToB or maybe even late BG2.
- Gets their first 7th lvl spell at 1.5 mill. exp. in their Druid class (plus however much you spent on Fighter beforehand)
Who is the better fighter or caster?
It might seem intuitively obvious that the multiclass will fight better, while the dual class will be better with spells and the latter is certainly true. Earlier access to high level spells, a higher caster level and more spell slots ultimately makes the dual class much better at the Druid side of things. One can, however, argue that the dual class is also competitive with the multiclass as a martial character, at least with a sufficient number of FIghter levels. Bear with me.
There are 2 primary things separating the martial abilities of the multi- and dual class: HP gains and total THAC0 score. Because both classes has access to the same equipment and stats, we don't need to compare them.
Between Weapon Specialization (+1) and innate values (+20), the multiclass will eventually reach a base accuracy of +21. The dual class gets Weapon Mastery (+3), a lower innate value (+14) for a total of +17 to hit. This is a very small difference in terms of BG2, seeing as even +10 classes (Thief, Bard) can be equipped to get a reliable accuracy.
Multiclasses will reach +17 accuracy at 4.5 mil. exp. and +21 at 6.5 mil. exp. Dual classes will reach +17 at 4.15 mil. exp., The multi- and dual classes will have very similar numbers before going into epic levels (3+ mil. exp.), sitting at +12 and +11 respectively, while a 4 point difference will not make much of a difference in the epic levels. Ultimately, a multiclass Fighter/Druid will never have a significant lead on a dual classed one in terms of THAC0.
Furthermore, Grandmastery gives 3 additional points of damage and 3 additional points to weapon speed compared to Specialization, meaning the dual class will hit slightly harder and faster. Assuming Fighter 7 -> Druid, both classes will have 2.5 APR base when including weapon proficiencies.
HP gains on multiclasses always confused me, but it seems to give you your HP dice for each class divided by 2, rounded down and then your highest Con modifier once for each level. If that is confusing, I'm with you and I can do little more than to offer a practical example from the first game: Jaheira and Khalid. If someone can show the actual calculations, I would appreciate that.
Jaheira is a Fighter/Druid multiclass with 17 Con or a +3 modifier. Khalid is a pure class Fighter who also has 17 Con. They have fairly similar starting values for their HP, but over the course of the first game you will see Khalid skyrocket his HP numbers compared to Jaheira. much more than one would expect the average between a d10 and d8 to result in. In short? Multiclasses seem to sacrifice a fair bit of their HP progression to get the best of all the other stats from their classes.
Dual class HP gain is fairly straight forward. You get to increase your HP by your class' Hit Dice (d10 for Fighters, d8 for Druids) one time for each time to reach a new level. If you have already reached level 3 as a Fighter, you will not gain HP on your 3rd level as a Druid. Let's take an example character:
Fighter 7 -> Druid 9
This character would have gotten HP as a Fighter, d10+(full Con*), from levels 1-7. While they are leveling as a Druid, they would get no HP at Druid levels 1-7, but would get a d8+(restricted Con*) for Druid level 8 and 9. So the final HP value for this character would be:
7(d10 + full Con) + 2(d8 + restricted Con).
Assuming a Con of 17, that would look like this:
7d10 + 21 + 2d8 + 4 or between 34 and 111 depending on rolls. Or just 111 if you have max HP gains turned on.
*Martial characters (Fighter, Ranger, Paladin) get full benefit of their Con modifier, while non-martial characters can only get at most +2 bonus from Con.
In short, the dual class variant can have HP numbers much closer to an actual Fighter for the first portion of their character progression, depending on how high they decide to go with their Fighter class. After level 9, HP gains change to a fixed value and the multiclass seem to begin to close the gap.
Between THAC0 and HP gains, the multi- and dual class seem to be fairly similar in their abilities as martial characters up until the multiclass gets Fighter High Level Abilities (HLAs). But when said abilities come into play, the dual class skyrockets their caster abilities, so it arguably doesn't matter much.
Both classes are fun and very good, but I would give the edge to the dual class for who scales best into the higher levels.Dual class specifics
I will repeat the requirements for changing from a Fighter to a Druid:
You must be human
You must have an alignment of True Neutral
You must have 15 Strength
You must have 17 Wisdom AND Charisma
You must be at least level 2
Dual classes temporarily "loses" the abilities of their original class when they change into their new class and regain said abilities (updated with the restrictions of the new class combo) when their new class is one level higher than the level of their first class was when they changed.
This means that if you change when you're at Fighter level 7, you need to reach Druid level 8 before you get your Fighter abilities back. Dual classing at low level means you get your original class back quickly, but gain less from it overall. Making the change late means you get more out of the original class, but a longer downtime overall.
Your HP remains unchanged from dual classing until getting your old abilities back. For example, if I have 50 HP as a 7th level Fighter, I will stay at 50 HP until I reach level 8 as a Druid, at which point I begin to gain HP as a Druid going forward.
When to dual class
There are many levels worth considering if one wants to play a dual class Fighter/Druid. Here are some milestones:
- Fighter lvl 3: 3d10 Hit Dice, +1 weapon proficiency point.
- Fighter lvl 7: 7d10 Hit Dice, +2 weapon proficiency points, +½ ARP. The latest you can dual within the BG1 experience cap.
- Fighter lvl 9: 9d10 Hit Dice, +3 weapon proficiency points, +½ ARP.
- Fighter lvl 13: 9d10 Hit Dice, +4 weapon proficiency points, +1 ARP. Reaching Druid lvl 14 takes a lot of exp, so this is often not worth it.
For Fighter/Druid, I recommend changing at Fighter level 7. This allows you to both regain your Fighter abilities within the BG1 exp. cap (161k) and reach 5th level spells (Druid level 9), while also getting almost all of your Fighter Hit Dice and +½ APR.
Fighter 7 -> Druid 8 is a great combo because it takes 64k exp to get to Fighter 7 and 60k exp to get to Druid 8. This means you can have the full benefit at only 124k exp. That leaves 30k experience to reach Druid 9 and get 5th level spells in late BG1 or early Siege of Dragonspear/BG2, depending on which you take your character into.
Dual classed characters can use a class variant or kit for their first class, which for the Fighter/Druid means we can use the Berserker, Kensai and Wizard Slayer kits. Barbarians and Dwarven Defenders cannot dual class.
Berserker - A clear upgrade on the regular Fighter. You lose the ability to put more than 1 rank into slings, but in return you get Rage, which is one of the strongest innate abilities in the game, easily on par with many of the Fighters HLAs. It makes you immune to a number of control effects and other nasty debuffs that only become more useful the higher level you get. Highly recommended!
Kensai - The Kensai is amazing for dual classing... into Mage and Thief. They sacrifice their ability to wear armor, armored bracers and helmets, which undermines the primary benefit of combining Fighter with a divine caster; no armor restrictions for your magic. Recommended only for people looking for a challenge.
Wizard Slayer - You sacrifice a lot of equipment for some additional magic resistance and applying a debuff on casters when hitting them. I'd say it has better synergy with Druid than Kensai, but still only recommended for those looking for an unconventional build.
Unkitted Fighter - No drawbacks, no extra benefits. You can't go wrong with this one, but Berserker is undeniably stronger.
Ranking the kits for Fighter/Druid:
Wizard Slayer: C
I generally recommend Fighter/Druids to stay away from this. You're limited to normal Druid monster forms, which are somewhat underwhelming already in BG1, especially since you need to reach Druid level 7 to get them. By the time you get them, you will likely be more fearsome on your own, and you'll only get more powerful from here.
Continued in next post.