Chapter 2: A Glossary of technical terms to know
Attacks per Round: Your ApR is one of your most important combat stats: How rapidly you can attack. All characters have a base ApR of 1, and this is modified by the traits of certain items (for instance, all Shortbows and Longbows grant +1 ApR while in use), and if you're a Warrior, by your experience level and your proficiency with the weapon you're using. All Warriors gain +1/2 ApR at Level 7, and another 1/2 at Level 13. Characters who do not have any levels in a Warrior class will not gain ApR from their levels, or from putting extra proficiency points into a selected weapon type. Whatever ApR they may actually have, all characters will appear to attack multiple times per round, especially when in melee combat. This is done for aesthetic reasons: If your Cleric swung his Warhammer once, and then just stood there for 5 seconds before making his next attack, he'd look pretty stupid. In-game, ApR is expressed as a proper fraction: If your character has an ApR of 2.5, his Records screen will display this as "5/2." Also, you don't actually make a half-attack; In this case, you would make 3 attacks in one round and 2 attacks in the next, and keep alternating, so it averages out to 2.5 attacks per round.
Area of Effect: A large percentage of spells and spell-like abilities have the potential to affect more than one target, depending on the specific spell and where creatures are standing relative to the actual target of the spell. If somebody aims a Fireball at your Tank, and you are within 30 feet of your Tank at the moment that the spell hits, you are in that Fireball's Area of Effect, or AoE, and you will get burned.
Avatar / Paperdoll: These are terms that describe a character's appearance in the game. Your avatar is your sprite-set, the set of animations that show you walking, fighting, just standing around, etc. The little figure in the Inventory screen is your paperdoll, so called because by equipping different weapons and armor, you're essentially playing dress-up. There are dozens of avatars, because every creature in the game needs to have an avatar, or you wouldn't be able to see it. But only a few of these avatars have paperdolls associated with them: There are paperdolls for Male Halfling Cleric, Female Elven Fighter, Male Half-Orc Thief, etc., because those are all perfectly valid character builds, and you need to see what you look like in the Inventory screen. But the vast majority of avatars, like Hobgoblin, do not have paperdolls because there's no valid in-game way of making yourself look like a Hobgoblin.
The other definition of "Avatar" is its in-game meaning: The various gods and assorted deities of the Forgotten Realms pantheons each have their own Avatar, the physical shape in which they choose to manifest themselves before mortals. (Many gods have multiple avatars, actually.) Avatars can be attacked (although that's almost always a reeeeally bad idea), but even if one is defeated, the god will not die, he will simply lose his grip on the Prime Material plane and be forced to return to his home plane, where he rests and heals until he's willing to visit the Prime again. One of the perks of being a god.
Bard Song: A skill unique to Bards, and their signature ability: They have the option to stop fighting, and instead sing and play music to lift the spirits of their comrades and dishearten their enemies. Bards may walk around while singing, but cannot do anything else. Pureclass Bards and all Bard kits each have a different Song with different effects—usually affecting all allies within 30 feet of the Singing Bard. Also known as Battlesong, it may be used an infinite number of times per day, for as long as the Bard wishes.
BioWare: The corporation that made the Baldur's Gate series. The company known as Black Isle (a division of Interplay) was also involved, but relatively loosely: The game's Credits list Black Isle employees as being responsible for such things as Testing, Quality Assurance, and Marketing, while BioWare gets the credit for the real work, things like Writing, Programming, and Core Game Design.
Breath Weapon: A specific type of special ability that involves using magical means to change the nature of one's exhaled breath, with the most well-known example being fire-breathing dragons.
Casting Time: All spells require a certain amount of time to cast; 9 means it takes almost an entire round, 1 means it casts almost instantly. Lower is better not only because the spell takes effect sooner, but because it reduces the amount of time during which you are vulnerable to getting your spell disrupted by an attack.
Critical Hit / Critical Miss: When you make an attack on a creature, the game rolls a D20 to see if you hit it. Regardless of THAC0 and AC, a die roll of 20 always hits, and a die roll of 1 always misses. Any Critical Hit (or "natural 20") means that the damage dealt by that hit is doubled, unless the target is wearing a helmet (or is otherwise immune to Critical Hits). Critical Misses also affect combat: If you're unlucky enough to roll a 1, the game imposes a slight delay before you can attack again, with the rationale being that you lost your balance and had to get back up, or something like that. Also, if you're in Stealth and you roll a Critical Miss, you immediately become visible, because you tripped or hiccupped or something.
CHARNAME: This is another name for the main character, originally used in modding circles because "< CHARNAME >" is a dialog token used by the game, as a string reference to whatever name that the player chose for the main character during Character Creation. "Player1" is also sometimes used, but this is a script reference, not a dialog token.
Cutscene: A couple of times in BG1, and more often in BG2, the game uses cutscenes to show action: Your user-interface disappears, and the screen shows characters (sometimes including your own party members) moving and interacting without any input from you—you are essentially just watching a movie of what's going on.
There is no point in investing more than 100% skill in Find Traps, and even 80% is enough to remove almost all Traps. A few Traps, however, cannot be disarmed, and some very rare ones cannot even be detected at all. Detect mode will also discover secret doors (all characters can do this, using Detect mode just works better) and reveal illusions—see Detect Illusions. A Thief's Detect/Disarm Traps ability can be approximated by having a Monk in the party, using your Familiar (depending on which Familiar you have, if you have one at all), and the Priest spell of Find Traps.
BG1 states that the success of disarming a Trap depends on one's Pick Locks score; this is incorrect. As I said, Detect Traps is the only skill used.
Detect Illusions: Although far less important than skills like Find Traps and Pick Locks, it's still pretty useful: When the Thief is paying close attention to his surroundings (the Find Traps ability is turned on), each round the game will roll a D100 and compare the result with his Detect Illusions score, allowing the Thief to potentially see through all harmful (cast by an enemy) Illusionary magics in the immediate area—it seems to work best if the Thief is within 15 feet or so of the enemy, but the range might be greater than that, I'm not too sure. There is no point in going higher than 100% in Detect Illusions.
The Detect Illusions ability can be approximated through the use of spells, as both Priests and Wizards have access to spells like Detect Invisibility, Oracle, and True Seeing. All of these spells are from the Divination school, however, so an enemy Wizard under Spell Immunity: Divination will be protected from all of them—but the Detect Illusions ability cannot be blocked by any means.
Dice: The PnP game of Dungeons & Dragons places heavy use on many-sided dice, and Baldur's Gate works the same way—it just uses a random-number generator that mimics the results of throwing said dice. These dice come in many shapes, defined by their number of sides: There's the D2 (a coin), D3 (a cube that has the numbers 1, 2, and 3 each written on opposing faces of the die), D4, D6 (a common 6-sided die), D8, D10, D12, D20, and D100 (a big, round sucker, but a lot of people just roll a pair of D10s instead). Throughout the game, and this website, you'll see notation such as 1D10, 4D6, 2D4+5, etc. These stand for, respectively, "The result of 1 10-sided die," "The sum of four 6-sided dice," and "The sum of two 4-sided dice, with 5 added to the total."
Experience Points: EXP is extremely important to every character, as it is the means by which a character gains experience levels, the predominant indicator of a character's power. Every time you accumulate enough EXP to advance to the next experience level, you Level Up—meaning you get more hitpoints, weapon proficiency points, spellslots, and Thieving skills, better THAC0 and Saving Throws, and maybe access to a new level of spells. So if you're Level 1 with 0 EXP, you're a wimpy little nothing, but if you collect enough EXP, you're an epic figure to shake the heavens and trouble the counsels of the mighty. There are two basic "kinds" of EXP: The first is regular EXP, gained by killing enemies and completing quests, and in BG2 your Thief also wins EXP for picking locks and disarming traps, and your Mage collects it for successfully scribing new spells into his spellbook. All EXP gained by any of these methods is automatically divided by the number of people you have in the party, and shared equally among them, regardless of who "earned" it by killing the monster or scribing the spell. So a protagonist who runs a Solo game, facing all challenges alone without any other party members to help, will gain levels much faster than a PC who always travels with a full party of six. The other kind of EXP is Quest Experience, which only occurs in BG2: At certain points in the game, usually major plot events, the game will award Quest EXP to every member of the party—and each character always gains the same amount, regardless of how many other people are in the group.
Notes: In BG1, if you manage to kill something while it is not hostile to you, the party only earns 10% of the creature's full EXP value. Every time the party gains EXP, if the number of gained points is not equally divisible by the number of people in your party, the remainder goes to the people at the head of the party. Example: You have a party of 6, and you kill a monster worth 100 EXP. 100 divided by 6 = 16, leaving a remainder of 4. So the four party members whose portraits are the highest on the right-hand side of the screen all earn 17 experience points, while the other two get 16 EXP. So the characters who are higher in the "marching order" get a little bit more EXP than the others.
A closely-related matter is the EXP Cap, a ceiling that prevents characters from advancing beyond a certain point. This one done partly to keep the game challenging, but mostly so BioWare wouldn't have to worry about characters reaching certain levels. For example, if the EXP cap in BG1 allowed Mages to get to Level 12, they would have had to make a whole bunch of Level 6 Wizard spells, and incorporate them into the game. So the caps exist, and they are as follows: BG1 (plain): Each character can attain no more than 89,000 EXP. BG1 with TotSC installed: All party members stop at 161,000. In BG2:SoA, the cap is at 2,950,000. And BG2:ToB lets you go all the way up to 8,000,000 EXP. Experience awarded to a character who is already at the EXP Cap does not "trickle down" to other party members who can still benefit from it, it just vanishes into thin air.
Faerun: The Sword Coast and Amn are both situated on the western edge of the continent of Faerun, which is the predominant landmass on the world commonly known as Toril, although its full name is Abeir-Toril. Just about every place you can visit—or even hear about—in the BG saga is in Faerun. Another area of note is the continent of Kara-Tur, separated from Faerun by a desert, a couple of mountain ranges, and a huge stone wall. The people, culture, and religions of Kara-Tur roughly correspond to medieval China/Japan. There is also the newly-discovered continent of Maztica, a region that parallels pre-Columbian Central America.
Familiar: If you're playing a Wizard or Bard in BG2, you can cast Find Familiar, which summons a small creature to be your companion. Only the PC can cast this spell—even if other party members learn it, they can't cast it. Your Familiar is completely under your control, and can fight, cast a couple of low-level spells, and use a couple of Thieving skills . . . and if you're smart, you will never use it to do any of those things, because you're going to keep it safely in your backpack for the entire game. BioWare saw fit to make all the Familiars so weak and frail that to expose them to any kind of combat situation would be very risky, so the only reason to use the spell at all is for the hitpoint gain: Upon casting FF, your maximum hitpoints increase by an amount equal to 1/2 of the Familiar's max hitpoints. If the Familiar should die, however, your max hp drops right back down again, you take damage equal to half your Familiar's max hp, and you permanently lose one point of Constitution. You can cast FF again to replace a slain Familiar, but you can't have more than one at a time.
Fatigue: Any party member who's been awake for a long time will become Fatigued, which imposes penalties to Thieving skills and attack rolls when in combat: You can still hit your opponents, but the game won't let you roll Critical Hits anymore. If you keep the party going and going for long periods of time, these penalties continue to increase, but go right back to normal as soon as you Rest. Fatigue is much more of a problem in BG1 than BG2: In BG1, everyone gets tired at about the same time (usually around the 24-hour mark), the wilderness maps are much further apart and there are many more of them (meaning, as soon as you enter a new map area, the whole party gets Fatigued, so you're fighting at a disadvantage more than half the time), and the Fatigue penalties make much more of a difference when you're low-level. In BG2, the amount of time a character can go without getting Fatigued depends largely on their Constitution.
Hardcoded: This is a modding term, and refers to aspects of the game that are written directly into Baldur.exe and therefore cannot be altered simply by editing a few files. For all intents and purposes, anything that is hardcoded cannot be changed—while this is not strictly true, it should be accepted as true by anyone who is not already very familiar with the intricacies of modding.
HLAs: Characters who attain "epic" levels in ToB will gain a new High-Level Ability each time they Level Up. Some of these HLAs are new and powerful spells, while others are very potent Special Abilities. Each class, class combination, and (to some degree) kit has a different HLA pool to choose from. Most of the Ability HLAs can be chosen again & again, allowing you to use that ability an additional 1x/day each time you choose it. Spell HLAs, however, can only be chosen once, as choosing the ability adds it to your available spells: Wizard HLA spells get added to the Level 9 page in your spellbook, Priest HLA spells appear on the Level 7 section on your Priest Scroll. These spells break a couple of rules—namely, they act as Level 10 spells even though Mystra herself ruled that no spell above Level 9 could exist, and the Wizard spells are "schoolless" in that they can all be learned by any school of Specialist Mage. HLAs are gained each time you Level Up, provided that the class(es) in which you are currently gaining levels have a combined total of at least 3,000,000 EXP. To be specific:
If you're playing a single-classed character, every time you hit a new level after passing 3 million EXP, you get a new HLA.
If you're Multi-classed, you start getting HLAs once your classes' combined EXP total exceeds 3 million. At each Level Up, you get to choose from all the HLAs open to you, regardless of which class gained the level—meaning a Fighter/Thief can Level up as a Thief, and choose an HLA from the Fighter pool. Cleric/Rangers actually get their first HLA a couple of levels too early, but they miss out on a couple later on—this is a bug, but at least it evens out.
If your character is Dual-classed, you get an HLA if your active class is over 3 million EXP. You can take a Fighter up to Level 20, choose 1 HLA and Dual to Mage, and then you're not going to see any more HLAs until you hit Mage Level 18. You can only access the HLA pool of your active class: Your first HLA came from the Fighter pool, and once you start getting HLAs again they will all be from the Mage pool, because you are no longer gaining levels as a Fighter.
Hostile: You and your party are shown with green circles around your feet: You are Allied creatures. In any combat engagement, your opponent(s) are shown with red circles: They are Hostile creatures. Innocents and other creatures not on either side of the conflict will have light-blue circles: They are Neutral. There are also less common distinctions of a creature's Enemy/Ally status, like "GoodButBlue" (fighting for your side, even though you aren't directing their actions) and "Purple-Circled" (completely immobile and not under anyone's control, not even their own), but these are rather less important.
Gaze Attack: A specific type of special ability that requires no more than being able able to meet (and sometimes hold) another person's eyes, with the most well-known example being a Gorgon's ability to turn you to stone merely by looking directly at you.
A Level Drained character can still earn EXP, but he cannot benefit from it: The game remembers how much EXP you had originally, and it keeps track of how much you earn while you're Level Drained, but it won't let you see it, or Level Up. In most cases, Level Drain is permanent—the only way to undo it is by recieving a Restoration spell, which brings back the stolen levels: You're back to being a Level 14 Fighter, and your THAC0, Saving Throws, hitpoints, Thieving skills, and spellslots are all completely back to normal. (You'll have to Rest again to re-memorize the spells you had in those slots, though.) Restoration also lets you access the EXP you earned while you were Level Drained—it is possible to get Restored, and immediately Level Up. The downside of Restoration is that it causes the person who cast it, and/or the person who recieved it, to automatically become very Fatigued. This can be a real pain in the ass, having to listen to one of your party members whine about being tired every minute or so.
In TotSC, there is one enemy who can Energy Drain you. This is not true Level Drain, all that can happen is a couple of your stats go down by a couple of points, an effect that wears off after a few rounds. Any creature will die, however, if any of their stats reaches 0.
Lore: Every party member has a Lore score, which is a function of their class and level, with modifiers from their Intelligence and Wisdom on top of that. Bards have the highest Lore, with 10 points per level. Mages and Thieves get 3 per level, and everyone else (including Sorcerers) gets 1 per level. Multi- and Dual-classed characters use whichever of their classes has the higher Lore. What Lore does is save you from having to actually Identify unidentified items: Instead of taking the item to a Store/Temple or using a spell yourself, just pass it to whoever has the highest Lore. If their Lore score is at least equal to the Lore requirement on the item, they will automatically ID it. In general, the Lore required to identify an item increases with the strength of the item's enchantment(s), as well as the monetary value of the base item. For example, anyone with at least 20 Lore can ID an Arrow+1, but a 2-Handed Sword+1 (the exact same enchantment) requires 40 Lore.
Metagaming: This is the practice of playing a role-playing game from the point of view of the player, rather than the character. The player knows exactly where to obtain the +20 Sword of Cutchamuch, but the character might not even have the slightest idea that such a weapon even exists. The player knows that in a minute, a group of dangerous enemies is going to suddenly appear out of nowhere, while the character presently has no reason to suspect anything out of the ordinary. Etc. Also known as "out-of-game knowledge" and "Reload knowledge," this is a rather relative term—nearly everybody does it to at least some extent, by doing things like making early trips to the specific maps where they know they'll find the recruitable NPCs they want to have in the party, or letting the Main Plot wait for a bit while the party does a few sidequests and gains a level or two. It's up to the individual players to decide how much metagaming they're comfortable with.
Morale: This is a measure of how brave/confident a creature is feeling. Normally, all creatures feel pretty good about themselves, although certain things can cause their morale to fail: If they suddenly lose a large percentage of their hitpoints from a number of hits in rapid succession, if they see multiple allies being killed right in front of them, or if they are affected by a spell that induces Fear (such as Horror). A Morale Failure may take any of three forms: Running (the creature does nothing but try to run as far away from combat as possible), Berserk (the creature freaks out and attacks any & all targets that come near it), and Panic (the creature erratically attacks others, runs in some arbitrary direction, or stands around not knowing what to do). All creatures under Morale Failure are completely uncontrollable until they gradually calm back down.
Move Silently: See Stealth.
Movement Rate: How fast a creature is able to move across open ground. The normal Movement Rate is 6, although this can be changed through means like Haste and Slow spells, and being Encumbered. Certain character clases/kits have altered Movement Rates, and changes to walking speed can be conferred by some avatar animations as well.
Opcode: A modding term, opcodes are a major part of items and especially spells. For example, a suit of Plate Mail armor has multiple Equipping Effects: One iteration of Opcode 0 to set the wearer's base AC, another Opcode 0 to apply Plate's AC Modifier against Slashing weapons, three instances of Opcode 7 to describe what colors the armor is, two cases of Opcode 144 to grey-out the wearer's Stealth and Thieving buttons (if the wearer has them), and a call to Opcode 145 to block the wearer's ability to cast Wizard spells while the armor is worn. There are over 300 opcodes, most of which accept parameters to further customize their use (e.g., how much Acid damage is added to the weapon's impact, how long the creature remains Stunned, etc.).
Pick Locks: This fairly self-explanatory skill is extremely useful in the game, as a good number of doors and almost all chests & similar containers are locked. Just use your Thieving button to click on the locked item, and the game will compare your Open Locks score, plus or minus a random modifier, with the difficulty rating of the lock. Don't count on the randomness factor to be any real help: It's so small that really its only function seems to be to ensure that, frequently, you can't open a lock on the first try. Your chance of success depends almost entirely on your Open Locks score—if you fail 10 times in a row, give up. 75% in Pick Locks is enough to open most things, and with 100% you're guaranteed to get them all on the first attempt. The Pick Locks skill can be approximated with the Knock spell,
The Pick Pockets skill is also used for shoplifting: Some stores (usually those that sell very important/valuable items) have security people and other antitheft precautions, but at other stores, it is possible to shoplift: Thieves and Bards have access to a "Steal" screen that shows all the items in that store's inventory, and you can choose what you want to try to slip under your cloak. Items are shoplifted one at a time, and on each attempt the game rolls your Pickpocket score against the store's Shoplifting difficulty—there is no chance of a Critical Fail when stealing from a store, but if you get caught, naturally the shopkeeper goes Hostile and will never sell to you again. If you succeed, the item is transferred to your Inventory, but with its "Stolen" flag set. Most stores will not purchase items that have been shoplifted, even if there's no way they could possibly know: You can steal a completely nondescript, unenchanted Longsword, take it to a store at the other end of the country, and they will recognize the sword and know that it's stolen merchandise.
A Thief's Pick Pockets skill can be approximated by using a Bard, or your Familiar if it is sufficiently skilled in that area.
Plane: The universe presented in-game (and in the AD&D setting of the Forgotten Realms, where the BG saga is set) is broken up into many distinct layers of reality called Planes. The central and probably largest one is the Prime Material Plane, which contains the planet of Abeir-Toril and its various landmasses, the sun & moon, and I assume there are a fair quantity of stars as well. The Prime Material contains aspects of just about every other plane of existence, of which there are hundreds: The most basic are the major ones like the Elemental Planes of Air, Earth, Fire and Water, the Positive and Negative Energy Planes, there is a Plane of Shadow, etc. Very powerful beings can create new planes, and in fact many gods have "home planes" custom-built for the purpose. Planes can be any size and shape (some are barely any larger than their sole resident), and under certain conditions can exhibit certain "warpings" of the rules that bind other planes, such as the laws of physics, magic, and time. Upon their deaths, all mortal residents of the Prime Material leave that plane and find themselves in one of the "Outlands" planes that make up the afterlife—though not all residents of these planes are dead. Apart from death, the only way to move from one plane to another is by planar travel, which usually takes the form of portals or Spelljammer ships.
PnP: Baldur's Gate is the computer version of the rules of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons; PnP is the acronym for "Pencil & Paper," the old-school, analog method. This term mostly crops up in modding circles, in a discussion of a particular item or spell, when somebody asks or explains how the thing works in the PnP canon lore set down in the D&D sourcebooks. There are some differences between BG & PnP (for instance, the PnP city of Esmeltaran is called "Trademeet" in the game), but these are rather minimal.
Psionics: Powers of sheer mental energy, these can take many forms—some are relatively familiar, such as mind control and mind-reading, while some seem very strange because they affect physical reality, doing actual damage to creatures or even throwing them across a room. These powers are most frequently displayed by Illithids, but other races can learn to employ them as well. Psionics are not a form of magic, and therefore are not stopped by Magic Resistance—they frequently allow victims a Saving Throw to escape their effects, however.
Random Encounter: When traveling from one map area to another, there is a chance that you will run into some local wildlife or other creatures:
Random Spawns: Most maps are populated with enemies who are scaled to be an appropriate challenge for the party: As soon as the party enters the map area, the game checks what types of creatures are appropriate to find on that map, and sets their number and relative strength based on the EXP Level of the main character. Since a large percentage of map areas (in both BG games) are available to characters just starting the game, yet could also be postponed until much later in the game, adjusting enemies to suit party strength is a solid way to keep things appropriately challenging.
A related matter is respawning: If you clear a map of all enemies and then return to it some time later, it will have a new batch of creatures in it. This happens most often with wilderness maps, and simulates new creatures wandering in from the surrounding lands to fill the vacated territory/ecological niches. Respawns can even occur if you stay on the same map for more than a couple of hours (although certain maps, and even individual spawn points within those maps, may have their own timers), which is actually noticable in some cases, creating situations where you come back through a portion of dungeon that you had "just" cleared, only to find it full of Kobolds again. Respawns can also be prompted by Loading the game: If you clear a map, then Save/Reload, all of the random spawn points will be repopulated.
Reaction: This is an evaluation of how likely the average person on the street is to react favorably to you; based on a combination of the party's Reputation and the Charisma of the party member actually doing the talking, it determines whether or not the person you're talking to will be willing to answer your questions, tell you about quests, give you the news, etc., as opposed to simply telling you to get lost.
Reputation: A way to keep track of what the general public thinks about you, your, party, and what you've all been doing. Reputation ranges from 1 (Despised) to 20 (Heroic), and responds to your actions in-game: Deeds like rescuing infants from burning buildings, saving towns from outbreaks of disease, and donating significant amounts of money to Temples (even Temples to Evil gods) cause your Reputation to go up. Deeds like getting caught stealing, killing innocent civilians, and fighting officers of the law cause your Reputation to go down. The Reputation you have at the start of the game depends on the Alignment you select for your character. During the course of the game, your Reputation influences such things as how much stores will charge you to buy goods, and your Reaction score.
Resistances: There are three main types: Magic, Elemental, and Physical.
Physical Resistances: There is one for each of the 4 types of physical damage: Blunt, Missile, Piercing, and Slashing. These function exactly the same as the Elemental resistances, reducing the amount of damage you take from damage of that particular type. They are frequently used to make creatures more vulnerable to one type of weapon than another: For example, if you're fighting a Skeleton, you're not going to have much luck trying to shoot it or stab it, because the arrow/blade will just go right between their ribs—you'd be better off smacking it with a Warhammer or something. So BioWare gave Skeletons some Piercing and Missile Resistance, but no Blunt Resistance. It is possible to make your Physical Resistances exceed 100%, and thus be healed by enemies hitting you, but this idea makes almost no realistic sense at all.
Resurrection: Death is not always permanent in D&D, and the two main ways of returning from it are Raise Dead (available only at Temples in BG1, you cannot cast it yourself) and Resurrection. PnP has various rules & regulations about these spells, and none of them were implemented in Baldur's Gate. Here's how the spells work in-game: Raise Dead and Resurrection both have a 100% chance of returning the target to life, regardless of their Constitution. You can use Raise Dead on a character who has been dead for more than 24 hours. Bringing a party member back to life has no permanent negative effects on said party member—it does not lower their Constitution by one point, or subtract 1 of their levels. Elves and Half-Elves can be Raised and Resurrected just as well as any other race. You do not actually have to possess the dead person's remains to restore them to life (a Mage with 3 Strength can "carry" all 5 of his deceased friends to a Temple simultaneously), but they do have to be in the party.
Here's how creatures (including party members) can die permanently: They can be chunked (either through massive damage or a Vorpal hit), they can be Petrified and then damaged (which shatters the statue), they can be Disintegrated, they can be hit with spells/attacks that have a chance of Disintegration (such as Prismatic Spray and Black Blade of Disaster), their last hitpoints can be lost to Cold damage (which freezes their body into an ice statue, which always shatters a second later), or they can die through any means and then be booted from the party. Or they could be the main character, to whom ANY death is permanent death.
Round: See Time.
Saving Throws: For your defense against physical attacks, you have your Armor Class. To guard against spells and spell-like effects, you have Saving Throws. There are five Saves in total: Save vs. Death (usually to avoid being Poisoned or having the life sucked out of you, etc.), Save vs. Breath Weapon (used when a Dragon breathes fire at you or something), Save vs. Petrification/Polymorph (to avoid drastic harmful alterations to your physical form), Save vs. Wands (used when a spell is cast through a Wand/Staff/Rod, or when such an item is used to hit you), and Save vs. Spells (the catch-all Save, also invoked when you're trying to avoid the effects of many actual spells). Now that I've said that, forget that I've said there are 5 Saves, because there are really only two: Over 95% of the Saving Throws you will roll in the game are going to be either Death or Spells . . . the other three might as well not even exist.
Be warned: Some spells & effects don't allow a Saving Throw at all.
Set Traps: Although it's hardly a "must-have" like Find Traps and Pick Locks, the Set Traps skill can be quite a useful ability. At any point in the game where there are no hostile creatures within his line of sight, a Thief can attempt to set a Trap near the point where he is standing—the game rolls a D100 and compares it to his Set Traps score. If he fails the roll, the attempt is wasted, and if he fails it badly enough, the Trap will actually go off and injure the Thief instead of his intended victim. If the roll is successful, however, the Trap will remain in place until it is set off by a hostile creature passing within 15 or 20 feet of it (even flying creatures such as Wyverns can set them off). The Trap then fires an arrow which unerringly strikes the hapless creature, doing a fair bit of damage and sometimes Poisons the target as well. No more than 7 Traps (set by the party) can exist in any one map area at one time. Thieves gain their first use of Set Snares (the game calls them Snares, but nobody else does, because they obviously look like bear-traps) at Level 1, with additional uses gained every 5 levels thereafter. There is no point in investing more than 100% in the Set Traps skill.
Set Traps can be approximated through the use of certain spells like Skull Trap and Glyph of Warding.
Special Ability: Any type of usable skill or talent that a creature has, especially if it's a spell-like effect, is a Special Ability. Party members have Special Abilities too, accessible through the button on the bottom right of the screen, the one with the 4-pointed star, when that particular party member is selected. Special Abilities are usually conferred by one's class or kit (such as a Ranger's Charm Animal ability, or a Priest of Helm's True Sight), but abilities like ToB HLAs are displayed here as well. Certain NPCs may also have Special Abilities that are unique to them, personally. Some spells also give you Special Abilities: For example, Polymorph Self adds abilities like "Shapeshift Ogre" and "Shapeshift Mustard Jelly," which are accessible at will until the duration of the spell expires.
In some rare cases, certain skills that would normally be in your regular bottom-row buttons get pushed over into the Special Abilities list, simply because the game ran out of room. For example, a Cleric/Thief has so many buttons (Weapon, Spell, Turn Undead, Stealth, Detect Traps, Thieving, etc.,) that there just isn't enough space to fit them all, so BioWare had to stick their Thieving button behind the Special Abilities icon.
Speed Factor: Each type of weapon has a Speed Factor, which determines at what point in the round the attack will actually be made. A Speed Factor of 4 means that at the start of each round of combat, the character will wait for 4/10ths of the round to pass, and then attack. Cumbersome weapons such as Flails and Crossbows have the slowest Speed Factors, and small weapons like Daggers have the quickest. Note that the Speed Factor of your weapon does NOT affect how rapidly you can attack with it (that is determined solely by your Attacks per Round), it simply reflects how long it takes between the time you issue the Attack command, and when the attack is actually made. It is important largely only for characters attacking from Stealth, where a quicker Speed Factor can give you a second chance at a Backstab (before you become visible) if you missed the first time.
Stealth: A skill that enables the user to walk around, unseen and unheard. Only Thieves, Rangers, and Monks can Stealth, and their success depends on their Stealth rating (Thieves & Monks choose how many points per level to invest in the ability, while Rangers' Stealth is based solely on their level and Dexterity), and to some extent the amount of ambient light in the area (darker is better). It is only possible to enter Stealth mode while no hostile creatures are in your line of sight, although once you are in Stealth, you can walk around freely and remain unseen—as long as your luck holds. In BG1, there was only the one skill—Stealth—which in BG2 was broken up into the skills of Hide in Shadows and Move Silently. The way the game engine was set up created a bias that makes Move Silently far more important than Hide in Shadows (an imbalance that I find unfortunate): When you attempt to enter Stealth, the game takes your HiS and MS scores, averages them together, and compares that average with the result of a D100 roll (plus or minus any modifiers due to light conditions where you're standing). If you succeed, the game then continually checks to see how long you will remain hidden: The chance of staying concealed, the length of time that elapses between checks, and how long you will remain unseen after a failed check, all depend on your Move Silently score. One important benefit of this ability is that all Stealthed characters recieve
Straight: Not an indicator of sexual preference, in BG terms this means a relatively unadorned character class: It is used to refer to a "straight Paladin," meaning a Paladin who has not taken any of the Paladin kits. Synonyms include "pureclass," "true-class," and "vanilla." Depending on context, it can also mean a character who does have a kit, but is neither a Dual-class nor a Multi-class (e.g., a straight Diviner, as opposed to a Fighter->Mage or a Cleric/Mage.)
Tank: This is the character who runs toward the enemy and gets their attention (drawing aggro, if you play World of Warcraft) to bait them all into attacking him, rather than other party members. This poor bastard has to soak up all their damage and spells, not to mention haul around all the armor he has to wear if he wants to take all that damage and stay alive. Tanks are the linchpin of pretty much any combat encounter, and I discuss them in much more detail in Chapter 9.
Time: The basic unit of time is the round. Ten rounds equals one turn, and 6 turns make one hour, in game-time; in real time, a round lasts for 6 seconds and an hour is over in 6 minutes. When you Rest, it must be 8 uninterrupted hours, or it won't count: Your magic-users will not memorize their spells, and X-per-day items will not be recharged. Just like on Earth, 24 hours make a day, although there are about 14 hours of daylight per day because the game is set in Toril's Northern Hemisphere, during summer. Time in the Sword Coast is usually measured in 'tendays,' rather than 'weeks,' as is the custom in some other regions.
Most combat encounters are over in no more than 10 rounds. Apart from walking around and attacking, characters can perform only one "action" in any single round: Casting a spell, using a Special Ability, drinking a Potion, using a Wand, all of these have a "cooldown" period that forces the character to wait before another such action can be attempted, although a character can cast a spell and fight in the same round, if both the spell and the attack are quick enough.
"How much time do I have to complete this quest?" Most quests, including the Main Plot, have no time limit at all, but that's only a general rule. If the person telling you about the errand gives you a specific deadline ("Meet me at my chambers in one hour"), they tend to mean it. If they're rather vague about it ("The city is in danger! You must hurry!"), you can usually dink around for months and it won't make any difference. Try to prioritize your quests in order of urgency (help put out the burning building before you go on that archaeological expedition to find curios for a museum), and you should be able to complete them all without anyone getting mad at you because you took too long.
THAC0: The acronym stands for "To Hit Armor Class Zero," and is a measurement of how likely you are to score a hit in combat. What the game does is take your target's Armor Class, factors in the creature's Dexterity, applies any AC Modifiers it may have against the type of weapon you're using, and (in some rare cases) any additional AC bonuses it may have when attacked by creatures like you. That number is the creature's Effective AC. The game then takes your base THAC0, and applies any bonuses or penalties from the proficiency you have in the weapon you're using, your Strength or Dexterity scores, the enchantments on your weapon, and (in some rare cases) any THAC0 adjustments you may have when attacking creatures like your target. That number is your effective THAC0. Finally, the game makes the actual Attack Roll, with a D20. The all-important equation is this: ( THAC0 - AC =< Attack Roll ). If this condition is fulfilled, that is, if the number on the D20 is greater than or equal to your Effective THAC0 minus the target's Effective AC, then you have succeeded in hitting them. If the die shows a number less than the result of the calculation, however, then your attack missed. So, as the attacker, there are three things that improve your odds: You want your own THAC0 to be very low, you want your enemy's AC to be very high, and you want the die roll to be very high. Of course, if the die roll is a 1 or a 20, the attack is automatically a Critical Miss or a Critical Hit anyway, so the game actually does that part first, before it goes through the business of crunching all those numbers. See AC.
Turn: See Time.
Vanilla: Used to refer both to basic character classes (see Straight), or to the games of BG1 and BG2 in their default, original forms, without any mods installed.
Vorpal: Inspired by The Jabberwocky, a "Vorpal" weapon is any weapon that has the power to instantly slay its victim, regardless of how many actual hitpoints they may have left. To avoid such weapons from overpowering everything else in the game (whether we're talking about BG or PnP), Vorpal weapons are usually only vorpal on a certain percentage of their hits, and/or allow their victims a Save vs. Death to avoid the effect of instant fatality. It is important to note that these weapons usually cause death because they are "magically sharp," meaning that whatever they hit, they chop clean off—BioWare chose to implement this as dismemberment, meaning that a party member killed with a vorpal weapon cannot be resurrected. Therefore, creatures capable of Vorpal hits should be handled with extreme caution.
Waylay: See Random Encounter.