I've never played PnP, but my love of dungeons and dragons dates back to discovering the Gold Box games back when I was 10. Lacking instruction manuals and with in-game tutorials being incredibly rare back then, I had to muddle through by trial and error to figure out how stuff worked. For my first few attempts, I didn't even know how to memorize mage spells, so I basically just created a party of perfect-stat human fighters, hired two of the high-level NPCs (who would fight for you for a percentage of your loot), and rolled through the game.
When I finally learned how the spell system worked, my mind was totally blown. I actually understood why the mage class was included! But then my perception of the mage was highly colored by the amazingness that is Fireball in Pool of Radiance; it hit the entire screen minus the corners and the squares adjacent, and when so many of your enemies are kobolds and their ilk, you can basically wipe out a dozen or more in a single casting. That was *the* spell, and mages were amazing beings who could chuck out lasers and explosions and blow everything to hell.
Years later, after approximately a gajillion playthroughs burning this fact into my brain, Baldur's Gate came out, and I treated my mages the exact same way; spellbooks full of direct damage and nothing but direct damage. On my first playthrough, I just accepted everybody I came across into my party until it was full, and wound up with Imoen, Jahiera, Khalid, Branwen, and Xan, who I liked as a character but who basically sucked because he couldn't blow anything up. But still, I could stuff his spellbook full of Identifies and Invisibilities, leaving my main character more space to memorize spells that blew things up.
The first playthrough was hard because I was terrible at the game and thought mages were supposed to be godly characters whose only purpose in life was to cast fireballs. I think I gave up sometime around Davaeorn and moved on to Icewind Dale. I got better at magecraft, even soloing a Conjurer through vanilla IWD. But that involved a lot of reloading, tons of resting, a heavy reliance on PewPewPewLazor spells, and eventually constant Tensor's Transformation to turn her into a fighter-light.
Eventually I wanted to return to BG1 and finally beat it in preparation for BG2. I learned about the amazingness that is Sleep and suddenly the crazy-hard game became a breeze. Later, I developed an appreciation for Slow. But the bulk of my spellbook was still devoted to PewPewPewLazors. The same held true in BG2, where I played through as a Sorceror who had multiple damage spells per level just for the variety.
As I grow older, I gain more and more of an appreciation for the subtle aspects of magecraft, and especially the "Save or Else" (SoE) spells. I'd never risk casting blindness before; what if it fails? I just wasted a round! But, you know, what if I attack with my fighter and his 1 APR and he misses? Sometimes progress isn't incremental but rather occurs in lulls and spikes. This is true for spellcraft as much as the martial arts.
Out of a desire to bring things full-circle, I want to do a playthrough that is as enamored with Save or Else spells as my 10-year-old self was with PewPewPewLazors. Specifically, as a Sorceror with a spellbook full of disablers. But I still need to kill stuff, which means relying on physical damage from party members. But a party of competent physical attackers with buffs on them will rip through the entire game on their own and make my Save or Else spells superfluous rather than a centerpiece, which means I either need to disallow buffs... or disallow competent physical attackers.
Since I still haven't experienced Rasaad's BG1 content or Throne of Bhaal content, I opted for the latter. After working out a couple of quick rules, here's the concept for "Save... or Else!: the Playthrough"
* Save or Else spells must be the true centerpiece of the run.
* Any cheese / tricks / exploits that trivialize content must be avoided.
* I'm not a masochist, so "quality of life" cheese / tricks / exploits are allowed.
* I want to minimize reloads, but also to experience new-to-me Rasaad content, so reloads will be allowed in the case of PC death or anything that interferes with that new content, (Rasaad getting petrified mid-romance, say).
* While I'm at it, I might as well add a bunch of other stuff I've been meaning to try that will be facilitated by (hopefully) facing a host of perpetually-disabled enemies.
* Charname will not deal a single point of damage during the entire saga, either directly or indirectly. This means: no direct damage spells, but also no utility spells with a damage component, (Fireshield, Finger of Death). For the sake of keeping my total kills at zero, I'm also avoiding Disintegrate, Flesh to Stone, or any spell that doesn't deal damage but does result in a kill going down in my character record, even if technically still a "Save or Else".
* It also means *no summons* except for Find Familiar or those that don't deal damage, (Wizard Eye, Project Image).
* Charname's familiar will not be bound by the "no damage" rules. He's free to attack as he sees fit. But...
* Charname's familiar cannot be put into her backpack. Ever. I've never actually used one "in the wild" before, so why not give it a try? (Rule subject to re-evaluation if and only if Charname's constitution drops to 10 or lower.)
* Mages, Bards, and Clerics share Charname's restrictions on spells that deal damage, (no direct damage, no summons). They are free-- and in fact encouraged!-- to attack with their weapons. Except...
* No ranged weapons. They trivialize BG1 too much and take the spotlight off of the Save or Else spells.
* Druids cannot cast direct damage spells, but in the interest of differentiating them, I will allow them to summon animals, insects, and elementals. (I'm counting Insect Plague and the like as insect summoning spells rather than direct damage spells.)
* All spell restrictions apply to usable items, as well, including wands (Wand of Sleep = good, Wand of Fire = bad), Necklace of Missiles, Potions of Firebreath, etc.
* No NPCs with even a single level of a fighter class can be taken. Ever. (For the purposes of this playthrough, I'm not counting "Monk" as a fighter class.) I'll also allow Wilson in BG2 because: (A) new-to-me content, and (B) his lack of defenses means he'll be dependent on the SoEs to keep himself alive, which synergizes nicely with the playthrough.
* No cheesing through the low levels in BG1. Shoal can be helped, but not killed. Korax can be killed, but not helped. No delaying partying up just to recruit higher-level versions of NPCs.
* Metagame knowledge will be used heavily, but I'll avoid hidden stashes. The exception is the Ring of Wizardry, which I will not sell, but am happy to wear. (I consider this a "quality of life" thing for a low-level sorcerer.)
* Buffs are just fine. My main attackers will either be immune to Haste (Rasaad), or capped at 1 APR (Viconia, Cernd, Xan, etc.), so it's not like Improved Haste is going to break the game or trivialize the run, anyway. (Wilson notwithstanding.)
* I'm playing on Core difficulty with the intention to eventually push it to Insane at higher levels, depending on how things go. (I don't find 1-hit-kills from a Tasloi to be particularly fun, so no Insane at level 1.)
* I will be lowering to Normal difficulty to get max HP on level up. I consider this a "quality of life" improvement since my melee front-line will include Xan, Rasaad, and my familiar. I will keep it at Core when scribing spells, though.
* Since I'm on iOS, I'll be playing in a Patch 1.3 environment, with all that that entails.