Having beaten Shadows of Amn again, I decided to just mess around with the party creation process and see what I could come up with considering all the new classes. The first thing I decided to try was taking a good aligned party again and toying with some statistics, gear and dual class possibilities. Here’s some ideas I looked at and my findings.
First, if you want a kit of any kind for a character, you will have to start off as that kit. You cannot dual class into that kit. Likewise for any sub-classes that can dual class. Keep that in mind when creating your party.
Another thing I discovered was that multiclass characters can enjoy the benefit of high level abilities unlike their human dual class counterparts. For instance, you can have a fighter/mage/thief hit around level 14 but still get the “Use Any Item” ability from their thief side. However, a dual class thief who split into say a mage at level 7 but hits level 20+ will not be able to see their thief’s side of abilities no matter how high their mage side reaches. In that sense, multiclass characters have some very nice benefits over dual class characters.
Human Swashbuckler/Cleric – Great idea on paper, terrible idea in practice. The original idea was to get the thief’s side high level ability “Use Any Item” to be able to employ non-clerical weapons. However, things didn’t work out as planned. First, in order to reach the “Use Any Item” ability, you must hit level 25 minimum as a human thief. So if you plan to dual class into anything, you’ll be struggling a very long time to catch up. In fact, you just won’t with the XP caps so you won’t ever see your cleric side using this methodology again. Also, the only weapon you get any semblance of an advantage as a thief would be the club and there just aren’t enough good clubs in the game to make it worth the effort. It would’ve been nice having an all-around type of class rolled into a single package but the XP cap and effort required to make this work negates any benefits overall.
Human Swashbuckler/Mage – I decided to give this combination a shot just for the hell of it. Unlike the Swashbuckler/Cleric, you will gain all the benefits of the Swashbuckler class in terms of weapons usage. However, due to the XP cap, if you want to get the “Use Any Item” ability, you’ll never see your thief side again. If for whatever reason you would want to try such a combination, you’re better off dual classing at a lower level (preferably when you have enough thieving skills as you’re penalized slightly compared to a normal thief). Mostly, the reason to go a route like this (as opposed to say picking up Imoen or Nalia permanently) is for the melee combat aspect in conjunction with some thieving capabilities.
Human Kensai/Thief – I heard about this combination and decided to play around a bit with it. First, don’t even bother dual classing from Throne of Bhaal and importing the character in. You will get some abilities and hit points from the kensai side as a result of the higher levels but you’ll struggle through the vast majority of Shadows of Amn playing catch up on the thief side. More importantly though, you really are naked for the vast majority of the game. Until you hit level 25 as a thief, you won’t be able to use any armor. Not even bracers. Most kensai dual class types end up switching to mage because you start off naked but you can use robes. This class is what I call a “long term investment” type of class because you really are looking at the end game for maximizing your results with this combo. One interesting thing that I discovered though was how you can continue to put points into weapon specialization proficiencies once you exceed your kensai’s old level. While you won’t be able to get as many proficiency slots compared to a normal fighter, you should be able to focus on a weapon or two and combine that with dual wielding to make yourself a powerhouse.
Human Archer/Cleric – With the patches added to the Enhanced Edition, it seems that all ranger kits can now once again dual class into clerics. However, because of the weapon limitations as a cleric, I feel that dual classing for rangers is generally a very bad idea (half-elf ranger/clerics on the other hand are just AWESOME). The first thing I noticed is that you cannot specialize beyond two proficiency slots with a sling. Of all the weapons, the sling is the only missile weapon usable as an archer and cleric so you’re essentially nullifying one of the major benefits of choosing an archer/cleric. It might sound silly for an archer to be hurling rocks at people but all the damage modifiers that you gain as an archer make this idea pretty interesting on paper. Also, you would benefit from using a shield which would make up for your poor armor.
Still if you go this route, you’re best bet is to import your character from Throne of Bhaal since you will have all the levels and benefits as a high level archer in dual classing to a low level cleric. There’s no other reason to dual class as an archer to a cleric if you don’t go this route. Originally, I wanted this class to use the Amulet of Power. With the Enhanced Edition, rangers and paladins in general can use the Amulet of Power so you no longer have to deal with that issue (if you’re worried about energy drain).
Elf Archer – If you decide to take a pure archer, then there’s only one race to use and that’s the elf. The main benefit is the additional +1 to hit modifier with bows as an elf. Essentially, the elves and archers are a natural pairing (too bad half-elfs can’t multiclass as archer/clerics; that would be even cooler!). One great thing about the Enhanced Edition is that all paladins and rangers can use the Amulet of Power, hence being able to become immune to life draining abilities. So this makes taking a pure ranger or archer very viable. In my normal setup where I choose a half-elf ranger cleric though, I would lose out on the cleric side along with someone dedicated to dual wielding the Flail of Ages and Crom Faeyr, so in going this route, I’d have to come up with someone else dedicated to using those weapons.
Elf Fighter/Mage/Thief – Originally, I had panned this combination but over time I grew exceptionally fond of how this multiclass operates. With a character like this in your party, you will be able to handle 75% of the situations. Her magic though weak functions more on a support level where most of the spells I give her are defensive. Most of the focus is on her thieving abilities since she can progress further into the game than most of the other thief NPCs (outside of Jan Jansen). But she can also use armor to boost her normally low AC. Sure, you’ll compromise on magic during battles, but again her spells are more along the line of defensive. If you need spell strippers or offensive spells, equip her with scrolls and wands. Either way, she’s a VERY powerful and useful class to include in any party. Lastly, she will be able to gain high level abilities like “Use Any Item” without having to hit level 25 like a human thief. You probably won’t require it because of how you can practically use most items in the game, but it’s there in case you see a need. Main thing you need is to get elven chain to have both high armor, be able to cast spells and use thieving abilities.
Elf Dragon Disciple – Now, this is a character class I am very tempted to try. The main benefit is the added AC, fire resistance, constitution bonus and killer dragon breath as well as high than normal hit points for a pure mage. However, you still will be lacking in overall armor and weapons. But it’s a class that looks interesting since you’re playing a beefier mage.
Human Inquisitor – When I say Human Inquisitor, I really just mean Keldorn. The Enhanced Edition now allows all paladins and rangers to use the Amulet of Power. So if you decided to go the route of a non-undead hunter paladin, you might as well get Keldorn in your party. But make sure you get him in your party early on and figure out what role he will play since you’ll have less people with this dedicated NPC slot.
Half-Elf Blade – Some people might think of Haer Dalis’ in this role but there’s a bigger question to determine in having a Blade in your group: what are you trying to accomplish with this class? As interesting as a Blade might sound, the reality is that Bards in Baldur’s Gate do not have the same oomph as those in the 1st edition rules. Sure, you don’t have to go through the torture of progression through two other classes but you still can’t do anything all that well. In picking a Blade, what you’re really saying to yourself is that you want an elven fighter/mage/thief. The only novelty in choosing a bard/blade is having the song and instrument aspect. Beyond that, this class remains useless for all intents and purposes.
Human Blackguard – This is one class I really want to check out. Now, the real novelty in the game is the NPC Dorn. What makes Dorn special is the fact that he’s a Half-Orc, which apparently you cannot create as a Blackguard. At first, I wasn’t too sure about how the Blackguard would pan out but one thing I discovered in my current play through of Baldur’s Gate 2 Shadows of Amn was finding an unholy avenger weapon. Obviously, this weapon was made specifically for the Blackguard class so you will have a shot at being a tough SOB. Still, I’m considering that with Dorn around, if I tried a purely evil party, I might just pick him up (much easier than Keldorn in terms of location).
I might try goofing around with an evil party later on. Right now, I haven’t thought of a composition but I am finishing up Throne of Bhaal for the second time. If anything, I just want to see where the romance quest goes with Jaheira.