Baldur’s Gate 2: Perfect Combo Party? 3 Custom and 3 NPCs?

Before getting into something I’ve started up recently, let me just rant about how my Alienware just bit the big one today. I am having a repair guy come down to replace the motherboard, which I think has been going after a while (I thought it was the video card or memory), so hopefully I can get setup in a few days again on my gaming rig. Before that happened though, I decided to reroll my party once again and want to talk a little about some ideas I had been experimenting with in Baldur’s Gate 2.

Prior to rerolling, I decided on trying the 4 custom PC party with 2 NPCs. Jaheira has become a permanent spot in my party now and Kheldorn acted as what I call the “rotational spot.” However, little did I know that the Inquisitor could not use the Amulet of Power. That deflated me quite a bit. More than likely my version of the game wasn’t properly patched so I might be missing a thing or two. That said, I didn’t want to mess with my game anymore and just decided to deal with the situation by simply re-doing the game. In the end, I just felt that Kheldorn really didn’t add much and was too much of a pain to acquire (since you pretty much have to ignore a lot after emerging from the first dungeon and head straight into the sewers). More than that, I just felt that the game was lacking something special overall.

That convinced me to investigate the way I was structuring my party. In the end, I felt that the kensai/mage that I had been using for so long just ran its course and that I really wasn’t maximizing his usage. Not to mention, I grew bored of having the kensai/mage and not truly utilizing the offensive spell capability while suffering in taking a long time before regaining the kensai aspect.

However, along the way I realized that the elf fighter/mage/thief was actually quite an interesting class to bring along because of how he could adapt to numerous roles. Usually, the thief aspect would suffer with most of the NPCs since all but one could reach very high thieving capabilities. At the same time, I wanted a tank/fighter rather than a strict mage/thief. Sure, I would probably not gain the “Use Any Item” ability, but as a triple class, it wouldn’t be necessary. Leveling does suck as a triple multiclass character but I cover all my bases in a single character.

Now, in my last party I tried bringing along both an elven fighter/mage and an elven fighter/mage/thief. Both served in various roles, mostly as defensive spell casters. Here, I considered the option of just taking the elven fighter/mage to level faster. But you would have some downtime after losing Imoen. Also, I pondered trying either an elven fighter/thief or half fighter/thief. But again you’d have to wait a while for the thief side to hit the level capable of employing “Use Any Item” to really make that class combination more interesting.

Either way, I ended up settling on a human undead hunter as my lead, an elven fighter/mage/thief and a half-elf ranger cleric (because they’re just uber cool!). What this threesome does is allow my front line guy to act as a tank while my fighter/mage/thief can switch, depending on what his gear and the fight calls for. Of course, Jaheira acts as my primary tank since I have her focus on using the scimitar and shield. Now, that opens up two more slots and ton of great RP opportunities.

I decided that Imoen would become a permanent addition to the party in the end game. Nalia and Imoen are very interchangeable but both offer some interesting RP dialogs throughout the course of the game. Also, that spot becomes the rotational NPC slot since it’s known that Nalia will eventually be traded for Imoen. I would gain some melee and ranged attacks since both can utilize bows and short swords. Also, I gain another spell caster that can switch between offensive and defensive spells as needed.

So what happens to the last slot? After careful consideration, I ended up going with the long lost Aerie. This choice was difficult because of how weak Aerie is at the beginning. However, things began to make a lot of sense for me when Imoen left the party. In the starting dungeon, I picked up Minsc, Jaheira and Imoen, implying that I would start with two mages. With Imoen gone and the circus quest right after the starting dungeon, I realized that Aerie actually fulfills the role as a permanent mage spot better than anyone else. The thing is that she’s always going to be weak but more than likely you’ll confer upon her magic items that allow her to cast her mage spells. Still, she can use a shield (and helmet) which allows for limited tanking (or at least not getting severely whacked). At this point, my elven fighter/mage/thief can simply function as a tank until I find equipment that permits him to use his mage and thieving capabilities. Until then, Aerie can act as my main spell caster since she’s always going to be a ranged character with her limited life and armor.

The thing I figured is that at this point, I can cover all my bases if I switch out Nalia/Imoen for an NPC quest. Right now, that slot is simply redundant no matter how you cut it and that makes the situation perfect since you can move people into that role as you see fit. Here, once Nalia’s NPC quest is completed, you can simply swap her for another NPC like Korgan or Amomen and your party will still do quite well.

Probably, the main weakness in this party structure that I’ve discovered is the lack of hit points and armor. Because in the end, you’ll be very mage heavy, you will have to find equipment that can boost your mages’ armor somehow. The way I’m planning it is to have Aerie utilize the Robe of Vecna (until I can get some bracers) while using a shield and a ring of protection. Unlike Nalia/Imoen, Aeria CAN use a helmet (and shield) while casting spells so you should take advantage of that where possible. Nalia/Imoen will probably use the Bladesinger Chain mail down the line (or high AC bracers of defense) and the Ioun Stone. The Bracers of Defense is probably better for them since they too can use rings of protection to stack more defensive magical items while the Bladesinger armor will go to my fighter/mage/thief. If you play Nalia/Imoen smart, you’ll keep her out of range and make her into a ranged fighter with either bows or spells. Add a weapon that augments they’re AC and you can make them have a reasonable amount of defense.

Nonetheless, I think this party setup is really good. I enjoy the RP element that I was lacking in my previous playthroughs while not being entirely dependent upon an NPC like Kheldorn just to wield something cool like the holy avenger. Also, I get quite a bit of variety in equipment and management of characters without feeling bored in getting locked into “normal” classes. The party ends up becoming pretty balanced and not redundant.

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