Skip to content

Kensai Kit Class worth it? Solo or Dual Class? Need some extra brain here.

RawrbarianRawrbarian Member Posts: 40
Almost 2 years later, back to playing this game. Always go back to the great ones. I want to make a group with a Kensai, but I am a bit stuck. Trying to figure if solo or dual classing would be better/more helpful to the group. I do want to take advantage of the EE additions. Though I do miss Vanilla.

Fighter Kit: Kensai

Half-Orc for the 19 Strength and Constitution.
Dward for fun, plus 19 Constitution.
Elf for the 19 Dexterity, but 19 and 18 are the same for an AC bonus.
Same with the Halfling, but gimped with a 17 Strength.
Gnome, why? I guess for the meme effect.
Half-Elf, why? I could get better bonuses with an Elf.
Human for Dual Classing.

Dual into? Mage or Thief?
Thief easier because of Dexterity?
Cleric off the table since they only use blunt weapons? Plus, easier to just fighter/cleric?
I can't Dual from one kit class to another without a mod? Kensai to Invoker or Illusionist if Mage. Kensai to Shadowdancer or Bounty Hunter, if Thief? Kensai to Priest of Talos or Priest of Tempus, if Cleric.

All successful attacks with in the next 10 seconds deal maximum damage.

Mage? Would spells count as 'attacks'? Is that why the Kensai/Mage dual class is considered broken?
I am thinking of a Level 10 Mage with Fireball. 60 points. 30 points with a save. If you can cast 2 fire balls within a 10 second period, then wow, full on melting your opponents. Could you possible cast 3 fireballs within 10 seconds? You would need a haste spell first?

Thief? Would it work on backstabs? It would maximize the weapon damage? Best case, 8 points?

Can't use armor, gloves, gauntlets, or bracers?

AC becomes 8 with Kit Bonus
AC becomes 4 with Dexterity 18
AC becomes 2 with 2 points Single Weapon Style

Items that grant AC are weapons, necklace/talisman, maybe a belt?
If I get lucky and find both, an additional -2 to AC.

AC 0 best without weapons, Fighting Style, spells, and potions?

Maybe hold off on Single Weapon Style and go Two Weapon Style for 2 weapons that grant AC each?
If I remember there is an Axe and a Long Word that grants +2 AC bonus (well -2 actually)?

Singe Weapon Style + Weapon with -2 AC bonus = Two Weapon Style with weapons granting -2 AC bonus, but I have a better chance at critting Single Weapon Style if I can make it toe to toe with a target.

Warrior Thac0 is nice, especially with the +1 to hit every 3 levels. Even with the +1 damage to compliment the +1 to hit, isn't the Kensai awfully squishy? Who cares if you can hit and do damage, if you end up dying in most of the encounters. I guess that's when the mage kicks in? Spells like Improved invisibility to grant another +4 to hit? Also helps with AC as well?

I know that items are random, but what would be the best I can hope for items wise doing a full playthrough and getting lucky? I now I can import items by creating characters through Heart of Winter and exporting them, but I want to do this legit. Also, once end game characters are saved, but I don't have those anymore. I deleted this game to make room for Grimm Dawn. Now I have deleted that game in favor for this one. I guess, in hindsight, should have kept the save files. I don't mind starting from scratch.

How would you roll a Kensai? Race, proficiencies, weapons, ect.?
Post edited by Rawrbarian on


  • RawrbarianRawrbarian Member Posts: 40
    edited April 2022
    So, doing a bit of digging and I found a site that lists all of the items in IWD:EE. Head (Sune's Laurel +1AC), Neck (Black Wolf Talisman +1AC), Back or Finger (Cloak or Ring of Protection +2 +2AC), Feet (Boots of the Fox +1AC), Waist (Simmering Sash +3AC, there is another that gives +1 to non-good), & Weapon (Morning Star +4 Defender, Mage Dagger +4, Battle Axe +2 Defender +2AC) combined = a +10 AC bonus. Granted you have to be good aligned, and you have to find all the items or cheat, but that's encouraging.

    Kit + 18 Dex + 2 points Single Weapon Style + all those items and you get -8 AC?

    To boot if you can stay solo class, invest points in either axes or morning stars for some serious damage. There is a ring that give +1 Strength at the cost of 1 Dexterity for a 19 to Strength, 20 if you double it with a -2 to Dexterity. The belt grants 19 Strength but you will lose out on 3 AC points. If you were so inclined to be reckless, belt + 2 rings for 21 Strength and drop Dexterity to 16, at a cost of 5 AC points.

    Or play a good aligned Half-Orc for the 19 Strength and Constitution and then add the two rings for a 21 Strength. The sash would be able to compensate for the loss of Dexterity.

    Okay, so fully buffed out this kit is nice solo.

    If Human add Mage, Thief, or Cleric and watch out IWD monsters.

    But how much of a headache would it be to play this kit legit?


    Okay, so messing around with the Kensai dual classed into a Mage and the 'maximum damage' special ability didn't effect the spell at all. So, how and why is Kensai D/C Mage broken or overpowered if it doesn't maximized spell damage? Is it for the defensive spells? Or the fact you can use low AC mage robes to counter not using armor for the Kensai? Or can you take advantage of the maximum damage ability on attack spells such as Shocking Grasp?


    Disregard post. I did more digging and the Kensai (especially the OP/broken Kensai/Mage) is a Baldurs Gate (I and II) thing, not Icewind Dale. A boring Fighter/Mage multi-class or dual class will work just fine in IWD. Though, I don't know about IWD II. I haven't played that game or the BG's. Plus, I prefer Cleric/Mages over Fighter/Mages anyway. My first group years ago had two of them and they mopped with the help of 3 unkitted Paladins and a Fighter/Thief. Also, I left off trying to form either a Marvel and/or DC group, so I will just go with that plan. Some of the people on this site came up with some good groups.
    Post edited by Rawrbarian on
  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 3,847
    edited April 2022
    Attacks that get maximized: weapons dealing physical damage. If, for example, you have a sword that deals 1d8+5 base slashing damage and 1d6 cold damage, you'll do 13 (plus proficiency/strength/other bonuses) slashing damage and 1d6 cold. I used stats from a BG2 item there, but the principle is the same across games.

    Unlike most fighters, the kensai is not a tank. Without a helmet or armor, you're very vulnerable to physical attacks. You can still be effective, but it requires a different play style; you have to be more mobile, willing to retreat if you draw too much attention.
    The kensai-mage dual popular in BG2 relies on using mage spells to compensate for that defensive weakness. If you're absorbing that hit with a mirror image or a stoneskin, it doesn't matter that it might be a crit. If you're blocking that hit completely with something like Protection From Magical Weapons, it doesn't matter what your AC is. All you're getting from the kit now is a powerful constant bonus to your attacks - as long as those spells last.
    The other popular dual for a kensai is into a thief. In BG2, that eventually gets the "Use Any Item" high level ability which permanently negates the kensai's weaknesses, but I find that it's quite synergistic even before/without that. The key is that the extra damage from the kensai kit gets multiplied in a backstab, as do proficiency bonuses, allowing you to deal truly monstrous damage that way. Killing giants in one hit is something you can look forward to. And on defense - you're always hiding except when you've just delivered a hit. The enemies can't attack what they can't see. You're far more of a specialist than a traditional fighter/thief, but you're the absolute best at your specialty.

    Oh, and the kensai bonuses work on all melee weapons. There's nothing stopping you from dual-classing into cleric or druid. It's just not as good a mechanical fit as thief or mage.
  • RawrbarianRawrbarian Member Posts: 40

    Gotcha. Maxing out a spell damage roll would be too much. An automatic 60 point fireball at level 10 would be abusive to say the least. A maximum weapon roll sounds nice, but I would rather see double damage instead. Of course that's what crits are for.

    Now, in 2nd edition rules, a round = 1 minute. If I had a maximum of 5 attacks in a round, that's 1 attack every 12 seconds. The Kensai ability is only for 10 seconds. Basically, 1 attack gets the maximum weapon roll if it lands. Unless you are maxing out a 1d12 weapon, it seems very tame at best. Yes, max roll is better than rolling and hoping you luck out with a max roll, but computer combat is so fast paced compared to tabletop gaming, it's barely noticeable unless it's a critical hit.

    I did think about that backstab. If it lands, I would still have time for one attack with a maximum weapon roll. Those two could be enough to fell a giant as you said, or even a tough spell caster. Also, a mage and/or cleric can always cast some good spells on you before you take your chances being sneaky.

    I'll have to try that out and see how it works. Though I seem to have an issue with my character leaving shadows to do a normal attack. Is that supposed to simulate a failed backstab attack? Because it happens a lot.

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 3,847
    If you're invisible and behind the enemy when you attack, you will deliver that backstab. The only thing that can stop you is a creature immunity, often seen on golems and the like. And that will show up in the log as "backstab failed".

    Now, if you're not actually hidden, because your stealth timed out, you don't get a backstab. That can happen pretty easily, especially if you've left AI auto-attacks on and your character tried to attack at the wrong time. Backstabbing requires a lot of player attention to do properly.

    The description says "ten seconds", and that's real seconds. Nearly two rounds, as a round in this game is six real seconds. You'll probably get multiple attacks out of it, if you stay in melee.
    I still hardly ever use the ability.
  • RawrbarianRawrbarian Member Posts: 40

    I need to wait till I can get that improved invisibility. I have the second level verson, but I have those slots used for acid arrow. Undead and other non-living creatures/monsters would result in a failed backstab, that I understand. It does make sense too. I think you are right about the timing. I can wait the extra 1 or 2 seconds for confirmation that my Hide in Shadows succeeded, then go for the strike. I am waiting for that x4 multiplier so I can see those 50s.

    3rd edition round timing, gotcha. I was going to ask about that if the 2nd edition '1 minute' round timer didn't hold true. 10 seconds would be enough time for Kensai/Thief to backstab and attack with max weapon damage. That class combo does make more sense that Kensai/Mage. Without a mod, too bad you can't Kensai/Assassin. That would be interesting to test.

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 3,847
    Timing is a bit weird in these games, because there are two time scales involved. In real time, a round is six seconds. But there's also game time, with minutes, hours, and days. A "minute" is five real seconds, an hour is sixty minutes/fifty rounds/three hundred seconds. And a day is twenty-four hours, which is the same as two real hours if you just let the game run and don't shortcut it with travel/rest or slow it down with pauses.

    While a mod can let you dual into classes and do something like Fighter-Assassin, the engine won't let you have two kits on a character. For a kensai-assassin, you'd have to fake it by giving the abilities from the inactive class.

    While I'm not familiar with the exact things IWD does, you can backstab most undead in the BG series. After all, they're ex-humanoids. Though I think those games are a bit too liberal in places - you can backstab oozes in BGEE.
  • RawrbarianRawrbarian Member Posts: 40
    Yeah, that is a bit weird. Then again, the only alternative is turned based and that can get very boring very fast. I played a few and it took way too long to play the game, I never finished them. Somethings don't translate very well from tabletop to pc. Same idea with book to movie or tv. I like the style of IWD. It reminds me of Ultima VII, but with better graphics. I prefer to run a group vs. a solo character like Diablo games or even WoW.

    Makes sense that you can't dual class into a kit class, or from a kit to another kit, but you can from a kit to a non-kit. Kits are supposed to be specialized. But, that is via table top. Since the computer game is mainly hack and slash. I can see a some rule bending or breaking for the sake of combat. I prefer not to use mods to mess with classes or kits, there are plenty of combos to play without mods.

    The BG games will be next. I haven't played them yet. Maybe after a few group completions IWD II will have an EE version. If not, I'll play that game with as many characters/groups as I can. I do want to play Torment again, but if I remember correctly it's only 1 character vs a group. It's been a long while and I think I only played it once.
  • Silver_ArrowSilver_Arrow Member Posts: 23
    To me personally, a Kensai/Mage is overrated and I don't get all the fuss about it from so many players over the years. It completely loses to a Berserker/Mage. Additionally, many people who choose any Fighter kit into Mage end up playing as a melee character, which is a complete nonsense to me. The way I see it, the only reason to a pick a fighter is to get much more HP plus defensive kit bonuses such as the Berserker kit provides. Primary gameplay should then revolve around using arcane spells of all sorts and OCCASIONALLY when NESSESSARY doing some melee. Instead, for some weird reason, many players choose to use spells mainly to buff themselves up and go into melee carnage. It is a much weaker approach, viable on normal/core difficulty :smile: but not much higher.

    You can easily dual class from a non-kit to a kit using the Keeper, no mods required. You can even do non-kits into custom kits with slight readjustments. You don't need to code or script anything. The rule still applies - you can have only 1 kit.

    So, for normal kits:

    1. Create your character and choose a non-kit class
    2. Play the game until you get to the desired level and click on dual-class.
    3. Select your second class and save the game.
    4. Open the save in the Keeper and under "Characteristics" tab change the kit from options available to your class that you chose to dual to :smile:

    (Well, you don't really have to start with a non-kit class, you can change it all once you dual, but I think it would be more fair to start with a non-kit class since you're kinda cheating anyway)

    With custom kits the approach is similar, but often they are scripted to provide your character with some class specific abilities or spells at level one, which would be avoided if you manually set the kit in the Keeper.

    Hence, with some custom kits you would have to:

    1. Start the game with that kit, obtain all things scripted
    2. Obtain level 2 and dual to non-kit class.
    3. Play the game until you get to the desired level.
    4. Save the game.
    5. Open the save in the Keeper and under "Characteristics" tab change the original class to your second non-kit class.
    6. Continue playing as a level 2 kit class until you out level your non-kit class.

    Enjoy a whole new lot of possibilities :smile:
  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 3,847
    If you're using Keeper to dual into a class, you're best off setting that kit before you dual. That way, you get the level 1 bonuses properly. Only "at the beginning of the game" script stuff won't work with it, and that isn't present in any standard kits.
Sign In or Register to comment.