Chapter 6: Items and their Use

          Naturally, your success in the game depends a great deal on outfitting yourself and your party with proper equipment. This chapter covers armor, shields, weapons, and ammunition in detail (though without describing specific items), discusses the basics of potions, wands, miscellaneous equipped items, and containers, and outlines the various facets of the Inventory screen.

          I'll begin with armor. The Gnome at right is under attack by four damage types from four directions: A Missile coming down from above, a Blunt instrument swinging at him from the right, a Dagger trying to Pierce him from below, and somebody's Slashing at him from the left. But he's smiling because he's decked out in Full Plate, a Helmet, a Large Shield, and a melee weapon, so he knows he'll likely be able to waltz through this ambush without taking a scratch. The table below lists all 9 types of armor, their effectiveness against all 4 types of Physical attacks (AC + AC Modifiers), and which classes and kits can wear them.
          In the image of each type of armor, the red-shaded area illustrates the amount of actual protection granted by the various armors—again, Missile is up, Blunt is right, Piercing is down, and Slashing is left. Note that these values are only for nonmagical armors: Enchanted ones almost always improve the base AC setting, and may have different AC Modifiers than their base itemtype as well.




Armor Type
AC & Modifiers
Usability / Notes / Abilities
Mage Robe
Base AC = none
vs. Missile: +0
vs. Blunt: +0
vs. Piercing: +0
vs. Slashing: +0
Average AC = 10
Usable By: Mages (including all Dual- and Multi-classed Mages) and Sorcerers

Notes: Unenchanted Mage Robes provide absolutely no physical protection: They are cloth robes and nothing more. All protective benefits come from their enchantments, and this Guide does not discuss specific enchanted items.

Abilities: Allows Wizard spellcasting, and the use of all Thieving skills with no penalties.
Leather
Base AC = 8
vs. Missile: +2
vs. Blunt: +0
vs. Piercing: +2
vs. Slashing: +0
Average AC = 9
Usable By: All classes & kits except pureclassed Mages & Sorcerers, Kensai, Monks, and Shapeshifters.

Abilities: Allows the use of all Thieving skills with no penalties. Blocks Wizard spellcasting.



Studded Leather
Base AC = 7
vs. Missile: -1
vs. Blunt: +0
vs. Piercing: -1
vs. Slashing: -2
Average AC = 6
Usable By: All classes & kits except pureclassed Mages & Sorcerers, Avengers, Kensai, Monks, and Shapeshifters.

Abilities: Allows the use of all Thieving skills with no penalties. Blocks Wizard spellcasting.


Hide
Base AC = 6
vs. Missile: +2
vs. Blunt: +0
vs. Piercing: +2
vs. Slashing: +0
Average AC = 7
Usable By: All classes & kits except pureclassed Mages & Sorcerers, Avengers, Kensai, Monks, and Shapeshifters.

Abilities: Allows the use of all Thieving skills, but with penalties: -20% to Move Silently (Stealth in BG1), -10% Pick Locks, -10% Detect/Disarm Traps, and -10% to Pick Pockets. Blocks Wizard spellcasting.

Elven Chain
Base AC = 5
vs. Missile: +0
vs. Blunt: +2
vs. Piercing: +0
vs. Slashing: -2
Average AC = 5
Usable By: Fighters (except Kensai), Paladins, Rangers (except Beast Masters and Stalkers), Clerics, Bards, and Thieves.

Abilities: Allows Wizard spellcasting. Allows the use of all Thieving skills, but with penalties: -10% to Move Silently, -5% Pick Locks, -5% Detect/Disarm Traps, and -20% to Pick Pockets.

Chain Mail
Base AC = 5
vs. Missile: +0
vs. Blunt: +2
vs. Piercing: +0
vs. Slashing: -2
Average AC = 5
Usable By: Fighters (except Kensai), Paladins, Rangers (except Beast Masters and Stalkers), Clerics, and Bards.

Abilities: Blocks the use of all Thieving skills except Detect Traps and Detect Illusions, although it confers no penalties to these skills. Blocks Wizard spellcasting.


Splint Mail
Base AC = 4
vs. Missile: -1
vs. Blunt: -2
vs. Piercing: -1
vs. Slashing: +0
Average AC = 3
Usable By: Fighters (except Kensai), Paladins, Rangers (except Beast Masters and Stalkers), and Clerics.

Abilities: Blocks the use of all Thieving skills except Detect Traps and Detect Illusions, although it confers no penalties to these skills. Blocks Wizard spellcasting.


Plate Mail
Base AC = 3
vs. Missile: +0
vs. Blunt: +0
vs. Piercing: +0
vs. Slashing: -3
Average AC = 2.25
Usable By: Fighters (except Barbarians and Kensai), Paladins, Rangers (except Beast Masters and Stalkers), and Clerics.

Abilities: Blocks the use of all Thieving skills except Detect Traps and Detect Illusions, although it confers no penalties to these skills. Blocks Wizard spellcasting.

Full Plate
Base AC = 1
vs. Missile: -3
vs. Blunt: +0
vs. Piercing: -3
vs. Slashing: -4
Average AC = -1.5
Usable By: Fighters (except Barbarians and Kensai), Paladins, Rangers (except Beast Masters and Stalkers), and Clerics.

Abilities: Blocks the use of all Thieving skills except Detect Traps and Detect Illusions, although it confers no penalties to these skills. Blocks Wizard spellcasting.


          There are also armors made from the plates and scales of various insectoid and Draconic animals, and depending on their creatures of origin, these armors can have characteristics and Usabilities of almost any class of armor, from Leather all the way up to Plate. Because they (usually) contain little to no actual metal in their construction, they can be worn by Druids—although, curiously, not by Beast Masters. All of these armors are enchanted, and because they have no unenchanted "base" type, they cannot be included in the table above. For those armor types that are listed, "basic" enchantment on armor improves its base AC: Each additional level of enchantment lowers the base AC of the armor by 1 point—normal Leather has an AC of 8, so Leather+1 would be AC 7, Leather+2 would be AC 6, etc. Enchanted armors usually have the same AC Modifiers as their base type, so a Leather+2 would be precisely 2 points better than plain Leather at stopping attacks made with each of the 4 types of weapon. "Basic" magical Shields follow this same pattern.
          Next up: Same thing, just for shields. Note that, in order to make the red "actual protection" shading easier to see, I've magnified the scale threefold, as compared to the scale used on the armor.
Shield Type
AC Modifiers
Usability
Buckler
vs. Missile: +0vs. Blunt: -1
vs. Piercing: +0vs. Slashing: -1
Average AC Bonus: -0.5
Usable By: All classes and kits except pureclassed Mages, Sorcerers, and Monks, and Kensai.
Small Shield
vs. Missile: +0vs. Blunt: -1
vs. Piercing: -1vs. Slashing: -1
Average AC Bonus: -0.75
Usable By: Fighters (except Kensai), Paladins, Rangers, and Clerics.
Medium Shield
vs. Missile: -1vs. Blunt: -1
vs. Piercing: -1vs. Slashing: -1
Average AC Bonus: -1
Usable By: Fighters (except Kensai), Paladins, Rangers, and Clerics.
Large Shield
vs. Missile: -2vs. Blunt: -1
vs. Piercing: -1vs. Slashing: -1
Average AC Bonus: -1.25
Usable By: Fighters (except Kensai), Paladins, Rangers, and Clerics.
Having a LOW Armor Class is GOOD.
I know it's counterintuitive, but in this game, the lower you can get your AC, the better. Drive it well into the negative range if at all possible.

(Nonmagical) Shields don't really improve your AC a whole lot, certainly not in comparison to armor, as they're just a handful of rather minor AC Modifiers. But your Tank would still do well to carry one, and Shields can be quite powerful once they get some enchantments on them.

WEAR A HELMET. (Unenchanted) Helmets won't improve your AC one bit, but every time somebody lands a Critical Hit on you, the Helmet will prevent your taking double damage from the hit.

          As the Newbie Note says, normal Helmets don't do a damn thing except protect you from Critical Hits, but that's still ample reason to slap one onto your noggin if you can. Classes unable to wear Helmets (Monks, Bards, Thieves, Mages, and Sorcerers) can wear Ioun Stones, which are pebble-sized stones, usually semiprecious gems, which are highly enchanted and when placed in proximity to your head, will whirl around it like a moon orbiting a planet. As bizarre as it seems, these little twirling rocks will deflect Critical Hits so that they only do their normal amount of damage. There are no Ioun Stones in BG1, which gives those characters who cannot wear helmets yet another reason to stay out of the front lines of a battle.

Q: "What happens if I don't wear any armor at all?"
          A: You get your ass handed to you.
Unlike some games, where going skyclad improves your ability to dodge, and unlike most fantasy art, which suggests that the power of a sorceress's magic is inversely proportional to the amount of clothing she has on, in BG there's absolutely no reason to go berserking into battle in the nude. The obvious exceptions are the Kensai, Monk, and Shapeshifter, who get their AC from natural sources.

Q: "Will the same suit of armor fit any character, no matter what race they are?"
          A: Yes.
In PnP, magical armor resizes itself to fit the wearer, and for the sake of convenience the BG games treat all armor in this fashion. So your Halfling can remove his Full Plate and toss it to your Half-Orc, who fits into it just fine.



          Weapons! Weapons weapons weapons. Sure, it's theoretically possible to beat the game using nothing but spells, wands & Summons, but chances are that you're going to be stabbing at least one or two monsters, somewhere along the way. The following table catalogues all the various types of weapons (melee, then thrown, and finally launchers) and ammunition you will encounter in the game, listing whether each weapon is 1-handed or 2-handed, its amount and type of Damage, its Speed Factor, Range, and finally who can use it & and any special attributes the weapon type may have.

Icon
Weapon / Ammo
Hand
Dam. & Type
SF
Range
Usability & Specials
Dagger
1
1D4 Piercing
2
0
All except Clerics & Beast Masters.

Short Sword
1
1D6 Piercing
3
1
All except Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, pureclassed
Mages, & Beast Masters.
Wakizashi
1
1D8 Piercing
3
1
All except Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, pureclassed
Mages, & Beast Masters.
Club
1
1D6 Blunt
4
1
All except Sorcerers and pureclassed Mages.

Warhammer
1
1D4+1 Blunt
4
1
Fighters, Paladins, Rangers (except Beast Masters),
Clerics, Bards.
Staff
2
1D6 Blunt
4
2
All except Monks.

Ninja-To
1
1D8 Slashing
4
1
All except Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, pureclassed
Mages, & Beast Masters.
Katana
1
1D10 Slashing
4
1
All except Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, pureclassed
Mages, & Beast Masters.
Long Sword
1
1D8 Slashing
5
1
All except Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, pureclassed
Mages, & Beast Masters.
Scimitar
1
1D8 Slashing
5
1
All except Clerics, Sorcerers, pureclassed Mages,
& Beast Masters.
Spear
2
1D6 Piercing
6
2
Fighters, Paladins, Rangers (except Beast Masters),
Bards.
Axe
1
1D8 Slashing
7
1
Fighters, Paladins, Rangers (except Beast Masters),
Bards.
Mace
1
1D6+1 Blunt
7
1
Fighters, Paladins, Rangers (except Beast Masters),
Clerics, Bards.
Flail
1
1D6+1 Blunt
7
1
Fighters, Paladins, Rangers (except Beast Masters),
Clerics, Bards.
Morning Star
1
2D4 Blunt
7
1
Fighters, Paladins, Rangers (except Beast Masters),
Clerics, Bards.
Icon
Weapon / Ammo
Hand
Dam. & Type
SF
Range
Usability & Specials
Bastard Sword
1
2D4 Slashing
8
1
Fighters, Paladins, Rangers (except Beast Masters),
Bards.
Halberd
2
1D10 Piercing
9
2
Fighters, Paladins, Rangers (except Beast Masters),
Bards.
Two-Handed Sword
2
1D10 Slashing
10
2
Fighters, Paladins, Rangers (except Beast Masters),
Bards.
Dart
1
1D3 Missile
2
20
All except Clerics, Kensai, and Cavaliers.
Grants +2 ApR.
Throwing Dagger
1
1D4 Missile
2
30
All except Clerics and Beast Masters.
Grants +1 ApR.
Throwing Axe
1
1D6+1 Missile
4
75
Fighters, Paladins, Rangers (except Beast Masters),
Bards. Adds STR Damage.
Sling
1
see Bullet
6
40
All except Kensai and Cavaliers.

Short Bow
2
see Arrow
6
75
Fighters (except Kensai), Paladins (except Cavaliers),
Rangers, Bards, Thieves. Grants +1 ApR.
Long Bow
2
see Arrow
7
100
Fighters (except Kensai), Paladins (except Cavaliers),
Rangers, Bards. Grants +1 ApR, -1 THAC0.
Composite Longbow
2
see Arrow
7
100
Fighters (except Kensai), Paladins (except Cavaliers),
Rangers. Grants +1 ApR, -1 THAC0, +1 Damage.
Light Crossbow
2
see Bolt
5
100
Fighters (except Kensai), Paladins (except Cavaliers),
Rangers, Bards, Thieves.
Heavy Crossbow
2
see Bolt
10
100
Fighters (except Kensai), Paladins (except Cavaliers),
Rangers, Bards. Grants +2 Damage.
Bullet
-
1D4+1 Missile
-
-
All classes & kits.

Arrow
-
1D6 Missile
-
-
All except Clerics, Druids, and pureclassed Mages.

Bolt
-
1D8 Missile
-
-
All except Clerics, Druids, and pureclassed Mages.

Icon
Weapon / Ammo
Hand
Dam. & Type
SF
Range
Usability & Specials
Having a low THAC0 is good.
I know it's counterintuitive, but in this game, the lower you can get your THAC0, the better. Drive it well into the negative range if at all possible.

All of the red attributes listed as "Specials" are beneficial enhancements. You want your THAC0 to be low, and your Attacks per Round & Damage per hit to be high. All melee weapons add (or subtract) damage due to their user's high (or low) Strength, but Throwing Axes are the only weapons to do this from a distance.

          A Range of 0 indicates touch-range, meaning you can only reach targets as far away as the end of your arm. Characters wielding weapons with a range of 2 (i.e., any 2-handed melee weapon) are just able to hit enemies while standing directly behind characters using weapons with a Range of 1. Most of the Ranges listed for missile weapons and launchers are largely irrelevant: Almost all creatures in the game have a sight radius of 32, and you cannot target missiles (or spells) at creatures outside your own personal sight range anyway.

          All weapons can be given a "basic" enchantment such as +1, +2, etc. For melee weapons, each level of enchantment grants -1 bonuses to THAC0 and Speed Factor, and a +1 bonus to damage. Crossbows and Slings likewise recieve -1 bonuses to THAC0 & Speed Factor, and +1 bonuses to Damage for each level of enchantment, while Bows (both Short and Long) get bonuses to THAC0 and Speed Factor, but not Damage. This pattern continues in their respective ammunition: Bolts and Bullets gain bonuses to THAC0 & Damage, whereas Arrows only get THAC0. As for magical thrown weapons, Darts get improvements to THAC0, Damage, & Speed Factor. Enchanted Throwing Axes also carry benefits to THAC0, Dam, & SF, and also have a maximum Range of 20. Magical Throwing Daggers are weird because they have a base damage of 2D4—double the amount inflicted by any other kind of dagger, they're really more like Throwing Bastard Swords—and they also have 100 Range and a Speed Factor of 1. The only things normal about magical Throwing Daggers are that each level of enchantment grants bonuses of -1 to THAC0 and +1 to Damage. Magical Throwing Axes and Throwing Daggers frequently have the enchantment of "returning," which is the property of reappearing in the user's hand immediately after they are thrown. While thrown weapons that lack this property can each only be thrown once (at which point it vanishes forever), thrown weapons of Returning can be used an infinite number of times.

The Enchantment Level of your weapon is CRITICALLY IMPORTANT. All weapons that strike the enemy (melee weapons, thrown weapons, and ammunition) have an Enchantment Level, which is vital as it determines what the weapon can actually hit. Many types of magical and/or extraplanar creatures are immune to Normal weapons: If you are wielding an unenchanted Long Sword against a Fire Elemental, you could roll a natural 20, a Critical Hit, but your attack still won't actually affect the creature because Elementals are completely immune to Normal weapons—you must use magical weapons in order to
harm them. A weapon's Enchantment Level is usually consistent with its other magical effects; e.g., a Long Sword+2 strikes as a +2 weapon, carries -2 bonuses to THAC0 & Speed Factor, and a +2 bonus to Damage. There are exceptions to this, however, usually among weapons that are designed to be especially effective against a particular type of foe. For instance, a certain Club may grant THAC0 and Damage bonuses that make it act like a +3 Club when fighting Ogres, but when used against anyone else it behaves like a relatively normal Club+1. This hypothetical weapon may have an actual Enchantment Level of 3, or it may only strike as a +1 weapon. In these cases, the G3 Fixpack generally gives the weapon the higher of the two possible Enchantment Levels (in case you have to fight, say, an Ogre who's immune to +1 weapons).

          Depending on their nature, origin, and power, certain creatures may be immune to different Enchantment Levels of weapons. Creatures immune to (for example) +1 weapons are immune to Normal weapons as well, but can be struck by all weapons of +2 enchantment and above. In general, you should try to acquire (and use) weapons of as high an enchantment level as possible. In BG2 especially, make it a priority to ensure that each of your party's Warriors carries (and is at least Proficient in) a weapon of +3 enchantment or higher. Note that using a heavily enchanted launcher (such as a Bow) won't make a damn bit of difference if you've only got Normal ammunition (such as Arrows). Since the ammunition is what actually strikes the target, only its Enchantment Level factors into whether or not you can actually score a hit.

          In BG1, Normal weapons will break. As the game will very thoroughly explain to you, there is an ongoing "Iron Crisis" wherein even brand-new swords can snap like twigs at the very worst of times. This affects ALL weapons that include a significant amount of metal: Crossbows and all melee weapons except Clubs and Staves have a 1% chance to break every time you use them. The resulting Broken Weapon you get is completely useless; Spears and Halberds do not turn into Staves when they break. Now, this happens only to Normal weapons; magical weapons were forged before the iron crisis hit, and therefore were made of good, sound steel. It is extremely important that all of your party members either carry spare weapons, or simply not use any breakable weapons at all. Armor, even nonmagical metal armor, is happily (but oddly) unaffected by the iron crisis. In BG2, the crisis is over, & Normal weapons are once again trustworthy.

Q: "What happens if I don't use any weapon at all?"
          A: You get your ass handed to you.
If you go into combat emptyhanded you've got three big disadvantages (none of which apply to the Monk):
1) You won't get the benefits (THAC0, Damage, Speed Factor, ApR, etc.) of a weapon proficiency, a weapon style, or the weapon itself.
2) If you're not holding a melee weapon in your on-hand, anybody using a melee weapon against you gets +4 bonuses to their Attack and Damage rolls.
3) You can't kill anything. Your Fist counts as a Normal weapon that only does 1D4 Stunning damage (plus a possible STR bonus), and the thing about Stunning damage is it's non-lethal: You could inflict hundreds of hitpoints of Stunning damage on somebody, and all it will do is take them down to 1hp and knock them Unconscious for a couple of rounds. This can actually be a benefit sometimes: Suppose some pompous Noble insults you, and you want to get even but you don't want the Reputation penalty that comes from killing an innocent? Just sheathe your sword and beat the crap out of him until your honor is avenged.

Q: "My Cavalier can't use Slings, Bows, or Crossbows, so why can he carry Bullets, Arrows and Bolts?"
          A: Because he still has a Quiver.
Just because he prefers to fight only in melee combat doesn't mean he can't carry a little extra ammunition for when his friends are running low.



          Before I move on to other types of items, I should explain the Inventory screen itself. On the left is the Inventory screen in BG1; click the image to change it to the BG2 version, and double-click to change back. Both screens show the same character, a Female Elven Mage/Thief, carrying the exact same equipment. The number inside the shield-shaped icon shows her base Armor Class of 3, the numbers inside the circular icon show her current hitpoints (51) over her maximum hitpoints (57), and the number next to the piles of coins is the amount of gold the party currently has.

Quick Weapon slots are a means of keeping more than one weapon ready for action. By storing them in his Quick Weapon slots, a Fighter can switch from a Spear to a Mace to a Crossbow to a Two-Handed Sword, without ever visiting the Inventory screen. Fighters have four Quick Weapons, other Warriors and Monks have three, and all other characters should have two. You will see that the BG1 screen only shows one Quick Weapon: This is due to the limited number of bottom-row buttons in the main game screen. Mage/Thieves need buttons for Cast Spell, Stealth, Detect Traps, and Thieving (and Cleric/Thieves also need another button for Turn Undead), meaning there's simply not enough room to display a button for a 2nd Quick Weapon. In BG2, however, that's amended, and all classes have at least 2 Quick Weapons (although Cleric/Thieves still have their Thieving button hidden behind their Special Abilities menu).

Quick Items, also known as Quickslots, are locations for keeping things like Potions, scrolls, and Wands ready for use, accessible from the main game screen. All classes and kits get 3 of them.

The 16 slots at the bottom of the screen are your Backpack, items that you're carrying but cannot actually use until you equip them somewhere on your person. (Exception: Potions can be drunk directly out of your pack. Don't ask me how you get your mouth into your backpack.) Next to the Backpack icon are the weight of all items you're carrying, and your total Weight Allowance.

Your Quiver is for storing ammunition: Arrows, Bolts and Bullets. (Thrown weapons do not go here, they are used directly from your Quick Weapon slots.) If your launcher-weapon empties one slot of ammunition, your character will stop attacking, even if he has more ammo in other Quiver slots. He will only start to draw ammo from another slot if you specifically tell him to Attack again, or the character is running an AI script that gives that command for you.

Items on the Ground are just that: If you kill an enemy, walk over to the pile of items it dropped, and then go to your Inventory screen, those dropped items will be visible in these slots.

All other slots are for equipping items that your character actually wears: Armor, Bracers/Gauntlets/Gloves, Helmet/Ioun Stone, Necklace, Belt, 2 slots for Rings, a Cloak, Boots, and Shield (which in BG2 is Shield/Weapon, reflecting the possibility of Dual-Wielding in that game.)
General Inventory notes: Items can be passed from one party member to another by picking them up and "dropping" them over the right-hand portrait of the person you wish to recieve it. In BG1, visiting the Inventory screen automatically Un-Pauses
the game: This is to prevent the unrealistic action of changing one's gear instantaneously in the middle of a fight. In BG2, however, BioWare went with the same intention but a wholly opposite implementation: In the second game, going to the Inventory screen automatically Pauses the game (so you can rearrange the contents of everyone's backpacks without an entire game day slipping by), but you cannot put on or remove your armor while you are in combat (or have just finished combat) with any Hostile creature.



          Both BG1 and BG2 offer an impressive array of auxiliary gear such as Potions, Wands, Scrolls, and Wand-like Items; but the different physical forms that these items take isn't really as important as what they do, and how they do it. Here is a list of how, and when, various magical effects are implemented.

Equipping Effects are the most common type: These effects are conferred simply by wearing this Helmet, that Ring, those Boots, etc., and remain in effect for as long as you keep the item equipped. The "backup" weapons in your Quick Weapon slots do not count as Equipped for this purpose; only the weapon you are actually holding with your on-hand (or your offhand as well, if you're Dual-Wielding) confers any While-Equipped Effects.

Charge-Depletion Effects are for those items with a set number of uses; Scrolls, Potions, and Wands follow this format, and some other items use it as well. When you drink a potion or cast a spell from a scroll, the item vanishes—if you drank from a stack of potions, there is now 1 fewer potion in that stack. Some wands can be used until they are completely out of charges; trying to use it after that point only displays the message "Item Drained." Other wands will destroy themselves upon expending their last charge. Both types can be recharged, by selling them to a store and buying them back. (Wands placed in your Quickslots will display how many charges they have left in BG2, but not in BG1; you may want to offer to sell the wand to a merchant, and consult the "Wand Prices in BG1" table in Appendix 1.) To use a Charge-Depletion item, either click on its Quickslot icon, or click your "Use Item" bottom-row button & then select the item you want to use.

On-Hit Effects are seen only on weapons and ammunition, and fire whenever they strike an opponent, doing things like adding some amount of Elemental Damage to the regular amount of Physical damage that they inflict upon the victim, or forcing the creature to Save vs. Death or be Nauseated for 3 rounds, etc.

Use-per-Day Effects are an implementation seen only in BG2, and allow items to cast spells (sometimes spells unique to that particular item) a certain number of times each "day." Once the daily charges have been used up, the item remains in place (and any Equipping Effects it may have will still function normally), but the spell(s) cannot be used again until the party Rests, at which point the item's charges are fully refreshed. This implementation is common for Wand-like items (items carried in Quickslots but that are not technically Wands), but is frequently seen on equipped items as well. These items are used in the same manner as Charge-Depletion items.

Backlash Effects are also BG2-only, and occur only rarely even there. They fire when you are wearing/using an item with said backlash effect, and you are hit with a weapon or spell targeted directly at you—usually by an opponent standing within melee range. The Backlash is so named because it most often takes the form of retaliatory damage against your assailant, but it could just as easily have some effect that targets your character instead.

Those are the forms that enchantments can take—what the enchantments can do is another matter, and one about which I'm not going to get very specific, at least on this page. I will tell you, however, that the variety is huge, and many times will force you to stop and consider your options: Is it better to use the Bow that has a 10% chance to Blind the victim on every hit, with no Saving Throw, or the Morning Star that forces its victim to Save vs. Wands or have take a +2 THAC0 penalty? Should you use the Amulet that wards off Charm spells or the Belt that grants Free Action, and why can't you wear both? These are the kinds of questions you will have to face: Deciding what items will be used by which party members when is a major part of your job as the leader of the party.
          The order in which you equip items can be important: Some effects/items will set some statistic (such as THAC0 or Save vs. Breath Weapon), while other effects/items will alter that statistic. Suppose you have a Helmet that grants 30% Slashing Damage Resistance while equipped, and a Ring that confers +15% Slashing Resistance while equipped. So if you put on the Helm & then the Ring, you'll have 45% Slashing Resistance. Equip the Ring before the Helm, however, and you'll only have 30%. Now, there's a weirdness with weapons that have Equipping Effects, which is that those effects are re-applied nearly every time you use the weapon to attack. So if that "Slashing Resistance = 30%" item were a Spear instead of a Helmet, you could equip the Spear before the Ring to get 45%, but then after whacking some dude you're back down to 30%.

          One special type of item is Keys (and key-like objects such as wardstones). There are a few of them in some regions of TotSC, and many more scattered throughout BG2. Keys typically allow you to open certain specific doors and chests that can only be opened by using that key. Other keys will allow access to certain places by granting immunity to some nasty affect that occurs whenever somebody is trying to reach that place, etc. It is pretty common for Keys to vanish out of your Backpack after being used; Keys that remain in place are usually used more than once, so you should probably play it safe (at least on your first game) and store them somewhere, in case you ever need them again.

Two very notable types of items are Items of Protection and Cursed Items.
          Items of Protection are very useful, providing a boost to your AC and Saving Throws at the same time. I mention them specifically because, according to PnP rules (and therefore in BG as well), you cannot equip more than one of them at a time: The enchantments somehow interfere with each other, etc., similar to the way that you can't wear more than one Ring on each hand. Items of Protection also conflict with all forms of enchanted armor except Mage Robes: You will have to choose between
wearing your Plate+2 and having a better AC, or wearing your unenchanted Plate and enjoying the Saving Throw bonus granted by your Item of Protection.
          Cursed Items can be very dangerous. Not only do they carry strong negative enchantments, but they cannot be removed normally: Part of their effect is to enchant the wearer so that he does not WANT to remove them, in fact he'd rather die than put them down. Clerics, Wizards, and Temples all have access to the spell of Remove Curse, which can be cast on a party member carrying a Cursed item, giving them a moment of mental clarity long enough to see the Cursed item for what it is, and drop it like a hot rock. This does NOT remove the item's harmful enchantments, or the "bind-to-user" effect: If you equip the item again, even on the very same character who just dropped it, it will once again be glued to them. Any item that is not yet Identified is potentially a Cursed item, so use Unidentified items at your own risk.

          There are certain things that can cause the permanent destruction of items, which can be quite a downer when you learn that some enemy was carrying some fabulous weapon or whatever, but you didn't get it because your method of killing him also destroyed everything he was carrying. A creature's body (and everything on it) will be shattered by: Losing one's last few hitpoints to Cold damage, being Petrified and then taking damage, or being Disintegrated. Only gold, and certain specific quest items, are exempt from being destroyed. You will also not recieve any loot if you trap a foe with an Imprisonment spell: The items are still being carried by the enemy, who is technically still alive.



Q: "This item in my Inventory is shaded red. What does that mean?"
          A: It means you can't use it.
Either because your basic stats (usually Strength) are insufficient, or you're of a class / kit / alignment / race that isn't allowed to use the item. If an item is shaded blue, however, that means that the item is magical, and Unidentified.

Q: "I just found a note that says something about a chair having arms and legs. What the heck am I supposed to do with it?"
          A: Sell it.
This is just a weird item that, for some reason, can sometimes get dropped as random treasure. It has absolutely no purpose in the game, but at least it's worth a couple of bucks. Just don't ask me why anyone would pay good money for it.

Q: "I just found an empty potion bottle. What the heck am I supposed to do with it?"
Art by Mike Sass
          A: That depends on which game you're in. If you're still in the SoA portion of BG2, those are just there for flavor: Apparently somebody thought it would be more realistic to have the physical evidence of your enemies drinking potions in combat, just like you do, but then they only implemented this idea for one solitary fight. The empty bottles are useless, ignore them. Then again, if you've progressed all the way to ToB, that empty bottle is indeed used for something, in fact it's impossible to continue down the Main Plot without it. Hold on to it.

Q: "So . . . where can I stash my stuff?"
          A: In any Container(s) you want.
Items (except certain specific "quest" items) left lying on the ground will disappear after about 24 hours, but objects placed in containers such as chests, barrels, crates, etc., will stay there forever. So just find a nice unoccupied spot (possibly one that used to be occupied until you killed everybody) and move in. Be sure to avoid leaving wanted items in areas to which you will be unable to return, and in areas where the map can change: If you leave items in the old map area and then the game shifts to the new map area, the containers in the new area will not let you access the items you placed in the old ones. Don't worry, I indicate all of the "you can't go back here" areas and "this map might change" areas in Chapter 9.

          Speaking of storing items, one entirely new type of item introduced in BG2 is Containers, which are carried in your Backpack and can hold a limited amount of items of a certain type: SoA includes a number of Scroll Cases and Gem Bags, which are quite handy in keeping large numbers of spell scrolls and gems/jewelry from overflowing your entire Backpack. ToB brings us a Potion Case and Ammo Belt (which is still carried in your Backpack, not actually worn as a Belt) as well. Another convenience tweak offered in BG2 is doubling the amount of (most types of) ammunition that can be stored in a single Inventory slot. You may have noticed that in both Inventory screenshots above, the character was carrying 120 Arrows, but in BG1 only 60 of them would fit in her Quiver, the rest had to go down in her Backpack.





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Spells