Chapter 5: Running a Party and Combat


          Just as Chapter 4 exhaustively covered all possible options open to you in Character creation, in this chapter I'll be discussing the basics of directing the other 5 party members: Selecting NPCs to accompany you, keeping those NPCs happy, controlling the positional arrangement of your party members, managing their equipment, etc. The second half of this chapter is given to a brief overview, including some fundamental tactics, of what many people think the Baldur's Gate saga is all about: Fighting.

          Getting a recruitable NPC to join your party is pretty easy: You just talk to them, like you would any NPC, and over the course of the conversation you'll learn whether or not they're the adventuring-type sort or person. Maybe they'll suggest tagging along with you, maybe you'll have to bring it up yourself. Some NPCs may refuse to join you if you don't say the right thing(s) . . . of these, it's possible that some may wander off and never return, others might give you a second chance. Like all NPCs, recruitable NPCs have conversation trees that check their Reaction to you; if they're displeased by your low Charisma and/or poor Reputation, they too will likely refuse to join your group. Some NPCs can be difficult to recruit due to their placement in the game . . . this is more prevalent in BG1
than BG2 (BG1 has 4 potential party members located in areas that are completely inaccessible until you've completed more than half of the Main Plot). Some NPCs might also only be present/recruitable under specific circumstances, but these are, happily, very rare. On the whole, recruiting NPCs is danged easy, like I said. Sometimes, you don't even have to talk to them yourself, they'll see you walk by, and come & talk to you.
          Once an NPC joins your party, you'll see their portrait appear in the column in the right-hand side of the screen, which is also used to show each party member's relative health: If a character is injured, the proportion of his hitpoints lost to wounds is equal to the percentage of red shading over his portrait. You may recieve a small amount of gold when a new party member joins: As soon as they're in your party, the stuff they're carrying is yours to control, including the loose change in their pockets. As a way of making them more unique, some party members will have items that only they can use; sometimes this is done by having the items permanently welded to that specific Inventory slot (a so-called "nonremovable" item), and sometimes it's done by giving the item very specific requirements, so that it can only be used or worn by someone of the exact same race, class, and alignment of the specific NPC, and having stats that are at least as good.

          You can also kick NPCs out of the party: Just go to any character's Records screen, where there's a button marked "Reform Party." Clicking that lets you select which party member(s) to give the boot.
          Some NPCs come in pairs: When you recruit or disband one of them, the other one follows.


Party Makeup

          In Chapter 3, I strongly recommended traveling with a full party of 6, as much as possible. You may or may not agree, many people like to play Solo games at least occasionally, but personally I'm a sucker for good party balance. The "classic" 6-man party is this: 3 Warriors (usually a Fighter, a Paladin, and a Ranger), a Cleric, a Thief, and a Mage. On the whole, this is basically correct, but let me express it in terms of ideals instead:
1) Ideally, the party should be at least half Warrior.
2) Every solidly balanced party needs—note that I said needs—a good Thief, or at the very least a third of one.
3) Ideally, the party should have high-level access to both sides of the Priest scroll; both Cleric and Druid spells.
4) Ideally, the party should be between 15% and 25% Wizard, and be able to cast from all 8 Schools of magic.
The explanations of these guidelines are as follows:
1) The ability to wear Plate armor, Helmets, and Shields is very important, and while Clerics can do this just as well as Warriors, there are certain useful potions that only Warriors can drink, and of course a Cleric does not have a Warrior's all-important combat stats. For 90% of all encounters in the game, the #1 thing that can make it go smoothly for you is havin' a heapin' helpin' of Warrior (or Monk) meat on your side.
2) It's true that almost all of the Thief skills can be approximated by other classes. With a Ranger, a Monk (or possibly a Familiar), and a Bard with every Level 2 spellslot filled with Knock, it's possible to do a lot of Stealth, Detecting Traps, Pickpocketing, and busting open Locks. It's also possible to go camping and carry along a can opener, a saw, a couple of screwdrivers, a pair of scissors, a knife or two, tweezers, and an awl . . . or you can carry a Swiss Army knife. Besides, Thieves are the only means of actually Disarming Traps, and they're also the only people who can Detect Illusions, which can be a very handy skill at times.
3) On the whole, Clerics get some damn good spells that Druids do not, but Druids also have a couple that I'd hate to be without. Having one of each in your party isn't a necessity by any means, but it does help. You really should have at least ONE class of Priest represented in your party, in BG2 anyway . . . in BG1, Priests are mostly used just for healing, so a Cleric is only a little better than a few Healing Potions every day, so a moderately experienced player could easily buy a bunch of Potions instead, and use that extra 6th slot to recruit another Warrior. Druids are actually worth less than a stack of Potions in BG1, because they don't get any truly good spells until BG2.
4) In a party of 6, a primary Mage and a backup Mage (1.5 Wizards) is a party that's 25% Wizard. Having two arcane casters working simultaneously can be a good asset, pulling off properly-timed combos like a Greater Malison immediately before a Flesh to Stone, or chucking two Fireballs simultaneously. Having a backup Mage is also a good way of making sure all bases are covered if there are certain important spells that your primary Wizard cannot learn. I must note that "You should try to have about 1.5 Wizards" is only my suggestion for BG2, not BG1; the combat in BG1 is very Warrior-oriented, and half of the time a Mage would only get in the way, somebody to worry about while your Fighters are busy kicking ass. It's not until BG2, when Wizards get better spells and more spellslots to put them in, that they truly come into their own. A party wherein all 6 members are at least part Wizard. An unusual setup, but you can make it work if you know what you're doing.
          "A third of a Thief" or "half a Mage" are expressions for ways in which a party member can be used. A Multiclassed Fighter/Cleric is clearly half of a Warrior and half of a Priest, a pattern that holds true for all Multiclasses. Dual-classed characters are more complicated and abstract; a Thief who Dualed to Mage at around Level 13 could be considered "half" of a Thief, because he had earned enough Thieving Points to reach nearly 100% in half of all Thief skills, but at the same time he's about 90% of a Mage, because he'll be only 2 levels behind a pureclassed Wizard. A Bard can also be considered half of a Mage.

          Of course, these are just guidelines, not carved-in-stone laws by which you must abide. Build whatever sort of party you think is best, this is just my advice on what I think is likely to work best for you.


Avoiding Dissent in the Ranks

Rep.
Good
Neutral
Evil
20
Happy
Unhappy
Break
19
Happy
Unhappy
Break
18
Happy
-
Angry
17
Happy
-
Angry
16
Happy
-
Angry
15
Happy
-
Unhappy
14
Happy
-
Unhappy
13
Happy
-
Unhappy
12
-
-
-
11
-
-
-
10
-
-
-
9
-
-
-
8
Unhappy
-
-
7
Unhappy
-
-
6
Unhappy
-
Happy
5
Angry
Unhappy
Happy
4
Angry
Unhappy
Happy
3
Angry
Angry
Happy
2
Break
Angry
Happy
1
Break
Break
Happy
          There are three main things that can infuriate a party member: Being in a party whose Reputation is wildly at odds with their personal Alignment, being in a party with certain specific other NPCs with whom they do not get along, and having a personal quest that you either attempted and really screwed up, or never attempted at all.

          The table at left shows how party members of different Alignments feel about how you've been running the party and the decisions you've been making as the party leader. If you're having them perform actions that they don't feel right about, they start to complain. If this pattern continues, they get verbally aggressive, and become more likely to leave the party if you say or do something that upsets them. Finally, when you reach an extreme end of the Reputation scale, they will Break from the party, and either wander off never to be seen again, or outright attack you. If you kick an NPC out of the party while he's feeling Unhappy (or worse) about the way you've been running the show, he will deliver a few choice insults before leaving, and that's the last you'll ever see of him—or the equipment he's carrying. But if he's feeling neutral or happy about the party's Rep, he'll almost always either stay where he is, or go to some agreed-upon location, and wait for you to come back so he can rejoin.

          Certain NPCs do not play well with certain others, that's just a fact of life. In both BG1 and BG2, there are some specific NPCs who hate each others' guts (or personalities, or ideologies, what-have-you). But take heart: Such pairings are rather rare, and there are warning signs. Most importantly, it's generally a bad idea to mix Good and Evil NPCs in the same party, that in itself can cause a lot of friction. Secondly, problems can also be foreseen if Character A says that he hates people who are X, and Character B is X. So, if you've got a Lawful Good Sorcerer and a Chaotic Evil Wizard Slayer in the party, you're going to be seeing a lot of sparks, and chances are they're going to try to kill each other. I suppose it's possible to get all the way to the end of the game with party members that are supposedly "unmixable," by Reloading every time somebody says something nasty, but that would be a pain. From what I've seen, the odds of interparty conflict are decreased if you (the PC) have a high Charisma, and increased if either (or even both) incompatible NPCs aren't happy with the way you've been directing the party.

          NPC quests are more common in BG2, but BG1 has its share as well. They're essentially just like any other quest, except that the person who gave the quest is in your party. Sometimes they'll mention the quest the first time they join your party, while some party members have quests that don't pop up until later in the game. Regardless, once you have some
specific information on what they want done, it's best to place that quest fairly high on your list of priorities: If you put it off for too long, the NPC will get sick of waiting for you and leave the party, either to strike out on his own or to attack you. Don't worry, you'd have to let their quests wait for quite a while (days or weeks, depending on the immediacy of the quest) before party members would freak out like that, and they always give you reminders first.


Forward March

This party is using the 'V' formation: Two Tanks on point, with a flank attacker and archer on the left wing, and two casters on the right wing. A decent setup, if you can
avoid being attacked from the right.           When the party is walking from one place to another, their relative positions are controlled by the Marching Formation that you select. Whenever 2 or more party members are selected, the bottom-row buttons turn into icons for choosing different Marching Formations—and right-clicking any of those buttons allows you to access even more, so you've got quite a lot of freedom. The default formation for both BG1 and BG2 is the rectangle: Two party members walking side by side, followed by 2 more right behind them, who are followed in turn by 2 more right behind them. If you want, you can choose a formation that has the whole party walking in single file, or marching This party is using the rectangle formation, and has placed their Wizards in the center, with a Tank or backup Tank at each corner to shield against attacks from any quarter.
abreast, or in a circle, etc. Personally, I prefer the pentagon formation, as it allows me to place my best Tank on point, two backup Tanks on the wings, my two weakest archers at the back, and the center position can be any type of character: Another weak archer (safely protected in the center), another backup Tank (ready to follow right in the Tank's footsteps), or a flank attacker (safely screened from the enemy AND ready to jump into melee). The thing that determines which party member occupies which position in the formation is the Marching Order, which is the order of the portraits on the right-hand edge of the screen. To change the Marching Order, just click & drag the portraits up & down. In BG1, the Party Leader (the very top portrait, whether that's the Main Character or not) always occupies the "point" position regardless of what Marching Formation you're using, while in BG2, different formations have the Party Leader in different spots. Experiment and see what works best for you.
It is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT that your best Tank is in the "point" position; i.e. he is the person who always walks at the front of the group and is the first party member seen by enemies. Be prepared to use different Marching Formations, and change your Marching Order, to ensure this.
          And hey, I just used a bunch of terms with which you may or may not be familiar. It's definition time!
Tank: The designated "front-man" of the party, the most heavily armored person in the group, whose function is to attract the enemy's attention and get them to
          focus all their attacks on him, instead of the lightly-armored Thieves and Mages in your back rank. I'll be discussing Tanks in greater detail in a few moments.
backup Tank: Although not the party's primary Tank, these guys are rugged enough to act as a temporary substitute if he gets badly injured, or some enemies
          managed to slip past him. Most parties (should) have at least two backup Tanks.
flank attacker: Any party member that possesses a strong melee offensive, but whose defensive abilities are crap: Monks and Kensai are the best examples of
          this. Flank attackers can only function when a Tank is present to take the heat; once the Tank has the bad guys' attention, the flank attacker can charge in and
          clean up.
archer: Not to be confused with Archer with a capital A, which is a Ranger kit, archers are all party members whom you would prefer to keep out of melee
          combat (against anything but the very weakest of enemies), due to their lack of armor and relatively feeble combat stats. The entire Wizard and Rogue
          superclasses are almost always relegated to archer roles in a party.
Party Leader: The very top portrait on the right-hand edge of the screen. While your character, the PC, is the leader of the party, he is not necessarily the Party
          Leader. The Party Leader is the "spokesman" of the group, the one who (when the whole party is selected and you want to talk to an NPC) does the talking,
          and also the one who does the haggling when you're buying things in a shop. (Also, because of the way EXP is divided among party members, he recieves a
          slightly larger amount of EXP than anyone else).



The Care and Feeding of a Tank

          If all you're concerned about is winning a particular fight, offense is probably more important than defense: It's all right to take some damage, because you can heal yourself later, but if you lack the means to kill the enemy, then you're guaranteed to lose. But if your aim is to win many engagements in a single day, then the very highest priority is a strong defense: You obviously can't use an entire day's worth of healing spells after every single scuffle, and if you have to bring 2 or 3 of your party members back from the dead after every moderately important battle, you are going to get absolutely nowhere. That's why many parties use Tanks, concentrating all of their very best defensive equipment onto the party member with the very best natural defensive abilities, and then using him to bait the enemies into attacking the one party member that they cannot hit. This frees up all your other party members to fire ranged weapons and spells at their convenience, without having to worry (much) about coming under attack themselves.
Building a Tank: Juggle your available equipment to get the best possible values on 1 character. In order of priority, they are: AC, Saves vs. Death and Spells, Hitpoints, Immunities to specific effects, Magic Resistance, Elemental Resistances, and Physical Resistances. Then you give that character at least 1 Quickslot full of the best Healing Potions you've got, and you push him in the enemy's collective face.
You'll notice that I don't mention THAC0 or ApR in my list of important Tank characteristics. That's because, although the Tank is used in a very offensive manner, running up to the enemy and all, his actual function is a thoroughly defensive one. Being able
to serve as a strong melee attacker and a Tank at the same time is great, of course, but largely unnecessary, as your archers, backup Tanks, flank attackers, and casters should be able to tally up a large number of kills on their own account. Note that no matter how well you cover your Tank in thick armor plating, he's never invincible: You're certain to run into boss-type enemies whose THAC0 is low enough to penetrate even your Tank's defenses, and of course there are always Critical Hits. So your Tank will be taking damage, he'll simply be taking much less damage than the party would suffer if he were gone. In the event that your Tank has become so heavily injured that keeping him on the front line anymore would be a serious risk to his life, simply pull him back while sending up a backup Tank or two to take his place. Sending up replacements is a very important step: 90% of the time, the enemies will attack the first party member (or allied creature) that they see, and continue to attack him until something forces them to re-evaluate what target they should be aiming at. Most of the time, they will switch to the target creature that is currently attacking them, which only makes sense. So if your party is walking merrily along, you may find that your Mage has somehow blundered his way to the front of the group (which happens fairly often, annoyingly enough, Marching Order or no Marching Order), and was the first person seen by a pack of Hobgoblin Elites, who cheerfully aim a score of poisoned arrows at your Mage's soft white underbelly. When this happens, you have to get your Tank up in the Hobgoblins' faces as quickly as possible, to make them put their Bows down, switch to a melee weapon, and attack the person that's attacking them (your Tank). But it's unlikely that your Tank will be able to distract all of them at once, so you also have to pull your Mage back out of the Hobgoblins' sight range, or some of them will still keep shooting at him. Note that the Tank doesn't actually have to stay in melee range of those enemies he's distracting: If all they're carrying is a melee weapon, he can dance all over the place and they'll still follow, unless something prompts them to attack a different target. But it's a good idea to keep your Tank
The proper use of a Tank: He is well forward from the party and attracting the attention of all enemies simultaneously. The party also contains a large number of backup
Tanks.  just out of their melee range, to keep him safe while ensuring that he holds the bad guys' attention.
          Your Tank should ALWAYS be carrying a full stack of Healing Potions, so that if he gets badly injured he can heal himself quickly, without interrupting his Tanking duties. Healing Potions are to be used when you're in combat, Healing Spells are for when you're out of combat. Most healing spells take a long time to cast, so if you cast them in a combat situation, you risk the caster being hit and losing the spell, or the target being hit (again) and dying. Potions, however, take effect as soon as you click on them.
Go ahead and use your Wizards as Tanks, charging into every melee fight, with your Warrior bringing up the rear. You won't get swarmed by Hobgoblins or anything. That
never happens.

          That's a description of the all-purpose Tank. But there are specialized Tanks as well, depending on what needs to be done: It would be pointless to try to Tank with someone whose strength is their AC, when the enemy's main form of attack is one that completely disregards armor. If your opponent is a solo spellcaster, your best Tank is going to be a party member with very high Magic Resistance and/or very low Saving Throws. With the powerful array of defensive spells in BG2, it so happens that the best possible Tank is a Wizard (or Bard)—it's just that they can only hold that Tanking position for a very short time each day.


A lot can happen in a Round

          The most important unit of time in combat is the round, which (in real time) is six seconds long. During a round, five kinds of things can take place: Attacking, casting a spell, using an item or ability, using a "state," and walking.
Attacks are limited by the number of Attacks per Round each character has. A creature with 2.5 ApR does not actually make 2 and a half attacks in each round; rather, he makes 3 in the first round and 2 in the next. Depending on the Speed Factor of your weapon, it is possible to attack and perform any other action in the same round, though not at the exact same time.
Spells may be cast at the rate of 1 per round. It doesn't matter if you have 2 spells that have an almost-instantaneous Casting Time of 1, you still can't cast them during the same round. The PnP explanation for this is that casting a spell creates a certain amount of magical pollution in your personal aura, and you must wait until your aura is clean before you can access the Weave again. You also cannot use an item or Special Ability in the same round that you cast a spell, but depending on the Casting Time of your spell, you will be able to do a certain amount of walking, attacking, or entering a state during that same round.
Items such as Potions, Scrolls, and Wands (and others) can also only be used at the rate of 1 per round, and not in the same round as a Spell or Ability.
Special Abilities such as a Paladin's Detect Evil or a Thief's Set Snare are also limited to 1 per round. Again, an Item cannot be used during the same round as an Ability cannot be used during the same round as a spell. As far as I know, PnP provides no explanation for this. After (or before) using your item or ability, you can walk, attack, or use a state before the round is over.
States are the semi-passive actions of Turn Undead, Stealth, Bard Song, and Detect Traps/Illusions. You can walk around freely with any of these states in effect, but taking any other action (including activating another state) will cause the state to end.
Walking can be done during the same round as any of the above actions, though (with the exception of states) never at the same time.


Why you need Stealth

          The most important weapon you could possibly have in the kinds of combat situations you'll find in-game is just this: Knowledge of your enemy. You need to know if the enemy lurking around the next corner is a Gibberling or a Beholder. You need to know the enemy's positions, their numbers, how many of them are likely to be spellcasters, their probable strengths and weaknesses. With Stealth, you can do this. I have said that the Thief skills of Detect/Disarm Traps and Pick Locks are must-have abilities for your party; Stealth is even MORE important,
Almost all creatures in the game have the exact same sight range: If you can see them, they can see you. Therefore, just about the ONLY safe way to scout out the enemy is by using Stealth.
especially for a player who's unfamiliar with the game. Doing some simple, regular scouting is frequently the deciding factor in just who gets to take whom by surprise, especially if you have spellcasters in the party: There's nothing like scouting ahead, discovering a cluster of enemies just over the hill, and coming back to warn the rest of your party—so you can cast some buffing spells if you think it's warranted, and then have your Mage stand just out of their sight and let fly with a Fireball, softening up the area right before your Tank goes charging in. Other tactics include bringing the party around to attack their group from the "rear," if they seem to have one, or even separate your party to attack from 2 or 3 directions simultaneously, trapping the enemy in a pincer movement before they even know you're there.
Art by Mike Sass           Stealth is also useful for its own sake: Any Stealthed or Invisible creature gets a -4 THAC0 bonus (which of course vanishes after the first successful hit breaks the creature's Stealth / Invisibility), so your Thief should try to be in Stealth as much as possible, just for the increased chance of connecting with his first shot. There is also the tactic of Backstabbing, which Thieves (and, in BG2, Stalkers) can do: While in Stealth, you move behind your enemy and attack with any melee weapon that a pureclassed Thief can use. (Yes, you can Backstab with a Blunt weapon.) You don't have to be exactly behind them; the arc of valid Backstab positions is pretty large, even being just over their shoulder is good enough. Anyway, you attack, and if your attack connects, the damage done is multiplied by your Backstab multiplier, making for a particularly damaging strike before the enemy even knows they're in danger. A good Backstab can frequently kill the target instantly. Not all enemies are vulnerable to Backstab; some, such as Slimes and related creatures, have no "back," while others, such as Golems, have no vital organs or other particularly vulnerable areas in which to strike. The enemy can Backstab, too, and due to a quirk of the game engine, they don't
have to stand behind you to do it—you can get Backstabbed right in the face if that happens to be the direction you're looking. Very few enemies in BG1 will try to Backstab you: BioWare decided that such a (potentially) powerful attack being used on (potentially) low-level characters with relatively few hitpoints was a bad idea, as seeing your party members get chunked by an enemy you couldn't even tell was there tends to be Not Fun.


Using your AI

          BG1 and BG2 come with a number of artificial-intelligence scripts, which your party members can use when you're not giving them specific instructions. These are useful for letting you decide just how closely you want to micromanage your party. There are scripts that make the user shy away from melee combat and use ranged weapons instead, scripts that have Stealth-capable characters attempt to Stealth whenever possible, scripts that have characters attack every enemy they see, scripts that automatically cast Healing spells on any party member that could use one, etc. You can assign different scripts to individual party members, or even no sript at all, and in the bottom right of the screen is the "Party AI On/Off" button, which you can leave On when you want to party to go on on autopilot for a while, and Off when you enter some hairy combat and you want to make sure you have absolute control. The AI script that I most commonly select for my characters is called "Fighter Aggressive" in BG1, and "Standard Attack" in BG2. It's the script that tells party members to attack all visible enemies—all decisions of a higher level than that are decisions I'd prefer to make for myself; that's just my personal preference.
          Each party member's AI is reset to the game's Default every time they join (or rejoin) you, so if you're in the middle of a fight and the new guy is just standing around, it's probably because you forgot to assign him an AI.


Spells and Spellcasting

Area-of-Effect spells rule. Anyone wanna buy some cheap armor?           Most of my discussion of spells is in Chapter 7, of course, but no discussion of combat would be complete without covering the basics. In the majority of fights, the most dangerous types of spells are Area-of-Effect (AoE) spells, and Save-or-Die spells. AoE spells are those that can affect a large number of creatures; while Magic Missile can only harm a single target, a Horror spell can affect all creatures standing within 30 feet of the creature or point selected by the caster. AoE spells can be devastating in combat situations, particularly against victims that are bunched close together (like your party). Save-or-Die spells are those where the victim(s) can make a Saving Throw; if successful, the effects of the spell are negligible, but if the Save fails, the victim is either dead (such as Finger of Death or Disintegrate), or
might as well be (such as Sleep or Flesh to Stone). All spells that cause the effects of Hold, Stun, or Unconsciousness are considered Save-or-Die, because an immobilized character has no defenses at all: When any creature that cannot move is attacked, the game doesn't even roll the die, all attacks automatically hit. (Which means, ironically, that you can't get a Critical Hit against a helpless enemy.) Your enemies know easy prey when they see it (in BG2, anyway), so if one of your party members is paralyzed, they will commonly attack that party member to the exclusion of all else. As Hold and Stun effects commonly last for a few rounds, there's not much hope of them surviving a combat situation. Characters who are affected by Web also suffer being auto-hit, but because a Webbed character is allowed a Save every round, they can usually escape before they're killed. Another Save-or-Die condition is being Poisoned, especially in BG1: The venom delivered by Spiders, Ettercaps, and Wyverns is so lethal that almost any character who becomes Poisoned by them will die in a matter of seconds if he doesn't have fairly immediate access to antivenom measures.
        Some spells and effects deserve special mention because they can cause the permanent death of the victim. Effects which kill beyond resurrection are being "chunked" (whether it's through massive damage or a Vorpal hit), being Petrified and then damaged (even 1hp of damage shatters the statue into itty-bitty fragments), losing one's last few hitpoints to Cold damage (this turns the body into a statue of ice, which then shatters on its own after a few moments), or failing to Save against the Disintegrate effect. Most of these means of death destroy not only the creature's body, but also any items it was carrying, with the exception of gold and certain quest-related items. Most forms of permanent death can be disabled by going to your Options screen, looking under "Gameplay," and turning off Gore. The effects of Charm, Confusion, and Maze also deserve special mention because although their effects are not lethal (or even damaging) under normal circumstances, they will immediately end the game if you are playing a Solo character. Apparently this is a quirk of the game engine, something about the player not having any controllable party members.
          Beware the Lightning Bolt. This Level 3 spell is incredibly dangerous, to victim and caster alike, because when it hits a target, it can bounce off in some other direction, and then it goes bouncing off whatever wall(s) it touches, until it has traveled a total distance of 120 feet. This means, in confined areas, it can bounce back and forth, hitting the same target over & over again. Even one hit from it is very damaging, but being caught in the ricochets is just horrendous. Sadly, BG1 Mages use this spell pretty frequently, even in tight spaces, so they'll usually kill themselves with it, but they might take out a good chunk of your party as well—perhaps permanently. BioWare wised up for BG2, and made those Mages cast Lightning Bolt a lot less frequently, at least in indoor areas.
        The counterbalance to spellcasting is Spell Disruption: If a spellcaster takes damage while he is casting, he usually loses his concentration, and the spell is wasted, fizzling away into the empty air with no effect. The caster must wait for the start of the next round to begin casting another spell, during which time he is vulnerable to being hit again, and again. This is the #1 reason why spellcasters should not be on the front line of a battle. Now, Spell Disruption does not always work, I've seen enemies take hits and still get their spells off plenty of times, but then again it's happened to my benefit a few times as well, so I suppose it's fair. Spells that are cast by reading them directly off a scroll cannot be disrupted by any means (other than the death of the caster, or the death/invisibility of the target).


You have been Waylaid by Enemies, and must Defend Yourself!

          When traveling from one map area to another, you will occasionally run into somebody else while en route. These encounters almost invariably end in combat; whether the meeting was one party's deliberate attempt to ambush the other, or simply the result of pure chance, both sides tend to assume the worst in a dog-eat-dog world. Most of the time, it can safely be assumed that you walked into a trap that your enemies laid for you, because of the relative placement of your party members and the various enemies: Sometimes they attack from "behind" your regular orientation (your party is in its usual Marching Formation, and your Tank is the person furthest from the bad guys), and sometimes you're completely surrounded. Sometimes you've wandered into a dead end in a box canyon or mountain cliff, and the only way We were all in good health when we set out . . . Hey, don't laugh. If it happened to me, it can happen to you.
out is through your foes. Also, due to the time elapsed from traveling from one map area to another, any buffing spells you had active earlier are likely to have expired. As I'm sure you've guessed, Waylay combat can get pretty hairy, especially near the beginning of a game. It's not that bad, though: Most Waylay enemies are fairly low-level and not too much of a threat, the element of surprise is their only real advantage.
          The map areas on which Waylays occur are unlike regular maps in several ways: Most notably, they do not exist on the World Map (once you leave, you cannot go there again, unless another random Waylay pulls you to the exact same area), you cannot Rest there, and you cannot Save your game there. One Waylay area in BG1 contains a Basilisk, which I mention only because it can cause the equivalent of permanent death: Normally, if a party member gets Petrified, you can leave their statue there, go buy a Stone to Flesh scroll, come back, use it on them, re-recruit and heal your party member, and continue on your way. But because you cannot travel back to a Waylay map, anyone who gets Petrified there is likely going to be lost to you forever (unless you happen to be carrying a Stone to Flesh scroll with you, of course).
          Waylay areas exhibit the kinds of environment and creatures you would find in the areas you are traveling between. This is most prevalent in BG1, where forests, mountains, plains, and arid badlands all have landscape-specific Waylay encounters. In BG2, there are also Waylays that take place between city areas.


Combat Summary

The Basic Rules of Engagement:
1) Scout ahead.
2) Stay behind your Tank.
3) Kill the Mage.
4) Don't let your enemies fight they way they want to fight.
5) Drink (healing potions) heavily.
1) Scout ahead. The reasons for this were explained thoroughly in the section on Stealth.
2) Stay behind your Tank. This, too, is intuitive, but it's so important that it wouldn't hurt to reinforce the message. It doesn't much matter if only 1 or 2 bad guys slip past the Tank, as your backup Tanks can surely handle that much, but if the enemies are smart enough to ignore the Tank en masse and go for your soft, tender meat instead, don't be afraid to pull your
back rank away from the fray entirely while the Tank remains in the thick of it, refocusing the enemies' attentions solely on him. Running away is almost always an option, and frequently it's a good one. If you have room to maneuver, don't be afraid to use it.
3) Kill the Mage. Spells, especially AoE and/or Save-or-Die spells, can change the course of a battle, very dramatically and very quickly. Therefore, it is imperative that your enemies not be allowed to cast any. You must neutralize enemy spellcasters by killing or incapacitating them as quickly as possible, even at the expense of ignoring other threats. Losing a few hitpoints is something you can handle—having half the party fail their Save against a Chaos is something you cannot.
4) Don't let your enemies fight they way they want to fight. Keep your foes at a disadvantage by playing to their weaknesses, not their strengths: If he's coming at you with a melee weapon, dance away and don't give him a chance to use it. If he would rather shoot you, get in his face and stay there.
5) Drink heavily. All characters (most especially the Tank) should carry Healing Potions at all times, just in case. They should drink one (or recieve a Healing spell) whenever their health falls below 50%, OR they are missing enough hitpoints that they would get the full benefit of the potion/spell. When in city areas, it's advisable to take advantage of local Temple services, thus saving your own spells and potions for when you're out in the wild and Temples aren't available.





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