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Unmodded Thief Kits, how to make them shine?

I always had a Thief (pure, multi or dual) in my party in every playthrough save for a solo one. However, I always only used them to find and disarm traps and unlock stuff until my last BG2 playthrough where I had a F/T and realized just how fun and versatile they could be with good backstabs and eventually late game with the several cool HLAs and special traps.

I'm not focusing on Thief this time around because I already have a Blade (can pickpocket), a Stalker (scout and backstab plays) anda C/T mostly for utility in BG1 (I can't afford the stealth, traps and detect invis since I needed to max out the trap detection and unlock with my party setup).

I was very curious about the thief kits or kits into dual class. I only use SCS and some few extra items mod (and Ascension for ToB but I'm not there yet) so the kits aren't modified or buffed.

On paper, they seemed quite bad but since I haven't played that much with thieves, maybe I'm just lacking some knowledge or imagination for it.

1- Assassin:

This is the one I was mostly excited for (for the huge backstabs). The +1 for dmg and THAC0 is nice, mostly early game but not enough for the Assassin to be able to be a proficient melee sustained DPS.

The poison I feel is lackluster (same poison as BlackGuard). Many enemies are immune to poison (undead), then they can still save against it to prevent most of its damage (especially bad later on in the game when enemies get better saves) and it doesn't last very long for interrupt purposes. The best use I can think for it is vs casters but with SCS, the thief will not land a hit through a caster defenses and if I manage to strip those defenses, the caster is normally going to die shortly after no matter what. I think that I read that the poison can stack which would be the big highlight for it?

As for the backstab, it seems very interesting but comes late into the game. By the time you can play with it, I'm guessing you're late into SoA (unless maybe you're soloing?) and by the time you hit ToB, a lot of the stronger enemies are immune to it. My F/T also could activate Critical Strike before backstabbing for massive damage that would normally already kill enemies that aren't immune to it in 1 shot so the x7 backstab damage might be wasted?

Since you need lvl 21 to unlock the full Assassin's potential, I'm guessing a Kitted Assassin is kind of out of the question (needing to reach lvl 22 in a different class to reactivate it would take forever)? If I understood Dual properly, I don't think someone can Dual INTO Assassin as 2nd class.

2- Bounty Hunter:

The penalty isn't as severe as for the Assassin but all you get are extra traps. If you start one from BG1, I guess this means you need someone else to disarm/unlock because you'll have to spend most of your early thief points into set traps to make use of its specialty. The early traps seem to do good damage but all of it can be negated by saves which seems bad. Then you've got a trap that just takes an enemy out of the fight for a while (if they fail their save) which doesn't seem very good and finally you get the Maze trap (no save?) but still, I'm unsure how useful those traps would be if some random trash mobs walk into those. Once again, the strong traps come very late meaning that Dual Class for this kit also might not be viable?

3- Swashbuckler:

The bonuses seem more interesting for possible Dual class and there are no thief skill points penalty. However, not being able to backstab is kind of big as I feel like it's one of the only direct combat advantages thieves have. I'm not sure what to think about this one. I guess it's a bit like weaker fighter that could take care of disarm/unlock and maybe lay some traps?

4- Shadowdancer:

Bonus to hide and move stealth are ok (but only 10%). Being able to hide in plain sight might be good, mostly to save on having to use invisibility spells/items/potions but I normally can get the stealth opener and have more than enough of these items if needed so I'm not sure how big of a deal it is. +1 saving throws is alright but nothing major. Fewer thief points, no traps (does this include HLA ones?) but above all, weaker backstab.

The main thing that seemed great about this kit at first was to be able to stealth back during fights and chain more backstabs.

Shadowstep seems interesting but you can't attack or cast spells (so no backstab?) so is it only to reposition yourself or are there other things you can do with it?

Overall, this kit seems interesting and might have potiential for a lot of fun plays but since I've never used it, I don't know what it can be good for. Also, can it be good for specific Dual Class combos (mostly due to Shadowstep)?

When do you use the different kits? In which situation do you manage to make the most out of them or what do they excell at? Are there some good Dual Class combos to make with some of them?



  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 5,751
    The assassin is pretty good if played just as an assassin, rather than a utility thief. If all points are put into stealth in BG1 he becomes good at backstabbing. There are a lot of fights where you can cut them short by moving the assassin into place behind an enemy as a tank draws their attention. The poison doesn't stack, but it's still quite effective in BG1. I agree, it's generally less so in the later stages of BG2, but there's no saving throw against the basic poison damage which helps single backstabs finish enemies off. You can also get round the prohibition against stacking a bit by targeting different enemies during a round with missile attacks.

    The bounty hunter's special traps are extremely powerful. At low levels they do more damage than normal traps (and there is no save against that damage). I agree that the Otiluke sphere traps are not much good, but the maze traps are vicious. They can help a lot with crowd control in fights against multiple enemies and there's something really satisfying about first mazing a powerful opponent and then laying down a few spike traps where they will reappear >:). The other nice thing about bounty hunter special traps is you can throw them. If you keep your bounty hunter at the rear of the party you therefore don't even need to blind him to chuck traps in - which then act rather like a party-friendly fireball.

    The swashbuckler takes quite a long while to really get into his stride. For most of the game he's useful as a utility thief (locks, traps, scouting), but best using missiles in combat. At higher levels though his passive bonus to AC and use any items ability can give him a formidable defense (even stiffened up with scrolls if you want). That provides an alternative strategy to using a buffed mage as a tank.

    The shadowdancer is powerful, but you probably won't get the most out of them if they're in a party - their strength is using repeated backstabs, which needs a lot of micro-management. The typical use I've found for shadowstep is to retreat if stealth fails, but it can also be used to do things like run away from spells.

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 3,215
    you play scs and i am not the better one to give suggestions in that setting. also i never used a shadowdancer, maybe one day i will give it a try, but surely not with the vampire npc, as for rp reasons i can not play npcs with the level of evilness of her and the blackguard.

    but anyway my 2 cents.

    plain thief and swash: they can use traps, not as the bounty hunter, but as you have in the party some one other for pick pocketing and scouting/stabbing you can invest early points in setting them. and traps can be very powerful with a little tactical planning. they can also invest in detecting illusions.
    i usually push towards hiding and stabbing with my party thieves, to have those other skills active and well working in early soa should be interesting.
    the plain thief can later focus on stabbing, even if there is a stalker, 2 is better then 1 and open some tactics where the battlefield is wide enough. or can dual into something other.
    the swash late game is a perfect dual welder, that gain a very high ac, up to +8 thac0 and dmg and wirlwind attacks. in EE is possible to equip both the blade and the swash with 2 +apr weapons using the returning daggers MH and belm/kundane OH.

    bounty hunter: his special traps are useful, but not game breaking, an alternative to the plain thief, if you can dual him at the right level to have the special trap kind you like.

    assassin: in not EE had his glory, the way EE has changed the poison weapon (to introduce their evil paladin kit without having it OP?) make him way less interesting. as you told the higher stabbing multipliers come so late that are less useful, even if is possible to stab even in mid or late tob, not every boss, not every enemy, but is still possible.

    so i would probably go for a plain thief, or bounty hunter, dualing him when he has enough points in the skills that the blade and stalker can not cover or a swash, without dualing him. in end game the latter will have a super ac, good enough thac0 and dmg, good apr trough the speed weapons and whirlwinds when he equip other weapons to hit foe that require more enchantment levels. with the returning dagger or the tugian bow he is also a good ranged support, as the added damage from the kit is applied to 2-3 attacks/round.

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