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Need Help Getting Into This Game

TigerBlazerTigerBlazer Member Posts: 1
Hello there! Over the past 3 years I have been really, really trying to get into the Infinity Engine games from time to time so I'm trying to get into Baldur's Gate for the 5th time, but every time I start one I play for a bit and just give up and move on to other CRPGs like KotOR and Wasteland. I haven't really gotten into the games for one reason: I really don't like the combat at all. I always never really liked RPGs with real-time for combat because frankly pausing every so often to set up moves is something I really find tiring (I think KotOR would be the only exception to this since it's slow enough that I don't need to pause and I can plan 3 moves ahead). Had the game been turn-based, it would be a lot slower, sure, but I'd probably enjoy it more. I honestly think this is the thing that breaks the enjoyment for me as a whole and is usually why I stop playing. I know Story Mode exists, but frankly it just makes the game to easy and boring that I can't enjoy it that way either.

Along with that, a few things still really bother me and I don't understand how they work, so beginners help for these would be helpful:
*I don't know how to memorize spells for spell-casters so I can use them without using up a scroll constantly.
*I'm kinda unsure of what exactly makes a good character, so maybe a few starting build recommendations would be nice.
*I'm unsure whether I should pursue side quests or not. They aren't my thing all that much but if they are helpful let me know.

I really want to enjoy this game, I really do. I feel like I'm missing out on something really fantastic and I want to actually enjoy the journey and actually have an urge to keep playing. Thanks for reading, and I appreciate anything given to me on this.
Post edited by Davide on


  • DavideDavide Member, Moderator, Translator (NDA) Posts: 1,698
    Hello, and welcome to the forum. :smile:

    I can help you with the first point and the third one. The second is largely covered in many guides.

    There are three steps for an arcane spellcaster (priests and alike don't need the first step).
    First, you have to put a scroll in the inventory, then right click and select the option to memorise the spell. A small caveat: specialist mages cannot learn a spell from an opposite school, so in that case the option shouldn't be there, or it will give you the information that the character cannot learn it. Also, this step has a percentage of failure, in which case the scroll is lost without learning the spell. Increasing the Int of the character, for example with a potion, increases the chances.
    After that, open the mage book after selecting the character, for each spell level you should see some empty squares, whose number corresponds to the slots the character has available depending on his level and on magic items worn. Click on the icon of a learnt spell and, if there are free slots, the spell will be in the first available slot (with shaded colour). In order to free a slot, if I remember correctly, you should right click on the slot and confirm that you want to cancel it.
    At last, in order to be able to cast that spell, the character needs to sleep. After you sleep, the icon in the slot in the mage book will be in full colour, which means that the character will be able to cast the spell (from the quick bar in the bottom in the standard game view).

    About side quests, they are mainly important for the reason that they let your party gain the needed experience and levels, to be able to face the further parts of the main quest. Also, they are what contributes to create the feel of the region the party is exploring, and of the game in general. There are a lot of stories to discover, some funny, some sad, some just nonsense. But they are part of what makes this game memorable for a lot of players.

    About your conundrum of "wanting" to like the game, I must say that I played the game in its early times, when there was nothing (or almost) much better in terms of gameplay, graphics and so on. I suppose that being "spoilt" by modern games can somehow make it harder to appreciate a game that can inevitably feel less fluid and also with a steeper learning curve.

    PS: I am moving this discussion to the proper section.
  • orchidMantisorchidMantis Member Posts: 17
    hello!, I am also just starting with these games, I started with "Icewind Dale" because I always wanted to play it but I couldn't at the time. well now my personal advice but I don't know if it will be correct:
    Starting with icewind dale allowed me to know almost everything about combat, maybe then you can get past that part, you can create your own characters.
    As for baldur's gate there is a lot of roleplaying, for me it was necessary to resort to the wiki, otherwise I would spend a lot of time guessing what to do, in order to get to the moments of action.
    It is highly recommended to configure the scripts for each character, this will allow you to fight without much micromanagement except with many pauses in the most difficult enemies, but you will have to re-memorize the spells according to the place and / or the enemies from time to time.
    Sometimes you will also have to recover some previous save file and go another way, for example doing side quests, choosing another companion, etc.
    I hope you can enjoy.
  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 3,321
    When it comes to starting a character, there are several pre-built characters you can choose from if you wish (hit the "import" button, and choose "character file"). They're not exactly optimized, but they're generally reasonable. A fighter, a thief, a mage, a paladin, a cleric, a ranger, a barbarian, a bard, a fighter/mage, and a shaman. If you pick one of them, all you'll have to do from there is make some cosmetic choices.
    (Well, OK, I took a look ... why on earth does the pre-made paladin come with proficiencies in two-handed sword and single-weapon style? That should be two-handed style!)
    After that, in the BG series, you can pick up party members out in the world. The very first area you go to after the Candlekeep tutorial zone has three potential party members - human thief Imoen, human mage (necromancer) Xzar, and halfling fighter/thief Montaron. They aren't quite so common after that, but there are still a lot of potential friends out there.

    And now, some tips on building a functional character.
    First, stat allocation. What do all the stats do for you?

    Strength boosts your melee attack ability, your damage with thrown weapons and slings, and your carrying capacity. Many items have strength requirements. Front-line melee combatants should have as much as possible, and even back-line characters should have at least middling strength. The bonuses are pretty light until you get to 18 strength, but the difference between 18 strength and 19 is massive. Warriors (fighters, paladins, and rangers) that have 18 strength at character creation also get "exceptional strength", a 1-100 die roll that covers the intermediate range between 18 strength (+1 attack, +2 damage, 200 carry weight) and 19 strength (+3 attack, +7 damage, 500 carry weight).

    Dexterity boosts armor class, attack rolls with ranged weapons, and thieving skills. Everyone gets a lot out of high Dex, though thieves get the most. It's rare to see a player-built character that doesn't max this one out. Note that the bonuses start at 15 Dex; if you're not going there, you can afford to dump a few more points off it without losing anything more.

    Constitution boosts your hit points. And if the protagonist's hit points go to zero, that's game over. A vital buffer. The short races (dwarves, halflings, gnomes) also gain bonuses to their saving throws from high constitution. Warriors will want to max this out, while non-warriors stop getting bonuses at 16 Con. Except for shorties, who get their best saves with 18 Con.

    Intelligence boosts spell learning ability and lore - the ability to identify items without spending a spell. The latter is generally only relevant for the classes that get more than one lore point per level - thieves, mages, and bards. The former is only relevant for mages and bards. Characters that will be continued to BG2 should also note that the illithids in that game have an Int-draining attack; higher Int keeps you alive longer in a fight with them. Also, there are potions in the game that temporarily boost intelligence; these can be used to compensate for a lower Int score on an arcane caster, since you don't need to keep the high score you learned a spell at in order to use it. Generally, only mages and bards will want to invest heavily in this. Other classes might want 9 for the use of scrolls and wands, or 10 to avoid a lore penalty.

    Wisdom boosts divine spellcasting ability, granting extra spell slots to clerics and druids. It also boosts lore just like Int. An easy dump stat for anyone that isn't a cleric, a druid, or someone who cares about lore. Unless your class requires a high wisdom score - looking at you, paladins and rangers.

    Charisma boosts your "reaction score" that determines how favorably many NPCs will deal with you, and improves store prices. As the game goes on, you will also have opportunities to improve your party's reputation, which does the same thing and stacks with the charisma bonus. Evil NPCs will leave the party if your reputation gets too high, though. The best store prices come when you reach 20 charisma/20 reputation, and the best reactions come with a total modifier of +5 or more - either 18 charisma and neutral rep, 13 charisma and max rep, more than 18 charisma and poor rep, or various points between. On the other hand, you only really need one party member to play "face" and have high charisma. Everyone else can dump the stat, mostly safely. Several of the NPCs you meet are suitable for this "face" role, so a protagonist that dumps charisma is just fine.

    Proficiencies: There's generally one or two top-level magic weapons in each proficiency group. You don't want everyone to have the same weapon proficiencies, because they'll get stuck with weaker options. Warriors should specialize in their chosen weapons and go beyond that if possible, and they should diversify so that they aren't competing with each other for a limited weapon supply.

    Thieving skills:
    - Pick Pockets: lets you steal things from people and shops. Failing a Pick Pockets roll generally results in the target becoming hostile. You can do some crazy things with this if you know what you're doing, but I wouldn't recommend doing much with it until you know more. Bards also gain the ability to pick pockets.
    - Open Locks: lets you open locked chests and doors. They can also be forced open with high strength or the Knock spell, though strength-based bashing has its limits; even 25 strength is only the equivalent of 80 skill.
    - Find/Disarm Traps: lets you search for and disarm traps, on a thief. Monks can search for traps but not disarm them, and priests have a spell that finds traps without disarming them. Traps are only encountered in dungeons, aside from some web traps where spiders and ettercaps dwell and the occasional trapped container to keep you on your toes. Most traps early on have a pretty low search/disarm difficulty, but that scales up later. You'll want at least 50 skill to handle traps in the Cloakwood (chapter 4), and Durlag's Tower has traps all the way up to difficulty 99. (Plus one trapped container that you can't disarm at all.)
    - Move Silently and Hide In Shadows: allow you to hide and become invisible. Great for scouting or backstabbing. Your chance of success is the average of your two skill values here, modified with penalties if you're trying to hide in a brightly lit area. It's always nice to have some skill here, and dedicated backstabbers should invest heavily. Monks and rangers can also use these skills.
    - Detect Illusion: allows you to detect and dispel illusions from enemy creatures. Your skill is the chance of success each round. Since mages love putting up mirror images and other defensive illusions, this is very useful in mage fights. Shamans and Dark Moon Monks can also use this skill.
    - Set Traps: allows you to use the "Set Snare" ability that thieves get. Or the "Set Special Snare" ability from the Bounty Hunter kit. Your skill here is the chance of success; failure also incurs a risk of the failed trap hurting you. Traps can't be set in combat, but they're very powerful if you know where a fight's going to happen in advance. The Shadowdancer thief kit doesn't get traps, so it also loses access to this skill.

    With BG1, it's not so much side quests as exploration. There are 53 "overworld" areas in BGEE that show up on your world map. And I've done a speedrun that visited less than half of them while still beating the game. Plus that's the "visited" count; I just ran through most of those areas without interacting with anything. You don't need to go there ... but it'll earn your characters experience and loot, and it's just a huge part of the game.
    You'll be directed to some of those areas off the beaten path by quest content. If you recruit Minsc or Edwin, you'll have a reason to head to the gnoll fortress in the far southwest, through several other wilderness areas. If you visit Ulgoth's Beard and talk to the NPCs there, you'll have a reason to go to Durlag's Tower in the east, passing through another wilderness area or two. There's a paladin in Beregost who tells you about some half-ogres, and where to find them if you want his reward of a magic shield. But even with that, a lot of the wilderness areas are just there for you to wander across and see what you find.

    All right, one more thing about building characters: the game system this models, AD&D (2nd edition) is rather deadly at low levels. It's easy to have a character fall to just a few bad rolls. How do you mitigate this danger? Well, the biggest risk at low levels is melee combat. And your best bet for reducing that risk is to use ranged weapons. Particularly bows, as they deal solid damage and get an extra attack each round. Having as many archers and other ranged attackers as possible in your party is highly recommended, though you'll want at least one heavily armored melee tank to take the heat; melee attackers get big bonuses against characters with a ranged weapon equipped, and ranged attackers take big penalties when firing at point-blank range. If you find yourself choosing proficiencies on a character so as not to give them a decent ranged option, stop and think - is this really a good idea?
    The enemies are not unaware of this. Many of the more dangerous foes in BG1 are archers - kobold commandos, hobgoblin elites, Blacktalon elites. Scouting helps a lot against them; if your thief/ranger/monk hides in the shadows and finds them before they can see you, you can get the drop on them. A spell? A backstab?. However you choose to play it, it's a lot better for you than if they get the drop on you and hit you with their magic arrows when you're not ready.
  • AerakarAerakar Member Posts: 912
    Excellent summary @jmerry !
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