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 Baldur's Gate II - Thief Guide

 
   
 
 
Baldur's Gate II - Thief Guide
 
=======================================================================
              C h r i s    L e e ' s

                           T h i e f    G u i d e        v 2.87
=======================================================================



=======================================================================
  The officially latest (as well as latest, official) version of this 
FAQ/Guide can be found at www.gamefaqs.com.
=======================================================================



=======================================================================
Table of Contents
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
  A word on navigation: to jump to a specific section, simply use the
'FIND' command (CTRL-F) and type in the 5 letter key next to the
section (doing only the 3 numbers within the brackets will probably 
send you to a random section of the guide).
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
  0.  Pre-introduction: Why am I still updating this guide?  [000]
 
  1.  Introduction and Contact Info (aka what the hell is this?)  [100]

  2.  Basic Thief Skills/Abilities  [200]

  3.  High Level Skills/Abilities  [300]

  4.  Kits  [400]
    a.  Vanilla Thief  [410]
      i.  Fighter/Thief  [411]
      ii. Thief/Mage  [412]
      iii.Cleric/Thief  [413]
      iv. Fighter/Mage/Thief  [414]
    b.  Multi-class Variants [420]
      i.  Berserker  [421]
      ii. Kensai  [422]
      iii.Wizard Slayer  [423]
      iv. Specialized Cleric  [424]
    c.  Assassin  [430]
    d.  Swashbuckler  [440]
    e.  Bounty Hunter  [450]

  5.  The Secret of Traps [500]
    a.  Normal Traps [510]
    b.  Bounty Hunter Traps [520]

  6.  Stronghold  [600]              

  7.  Tactics  [700]
    a.  Backstabbing Notes [710]
    b.  Trapping Notes [720]
    c.  Hiding Notes [730]

  8.  Items of Note  [800]
    a.  Weapons [810]
    b.  Armor [820]
    c.  Accessories [830]

  9.  The Solo Challenge [900]

  10. Miscellany  [A00]
    a.  THAC0 Tables  [A10]
    b.  Backstab Growth  [A20]
    c.  Saving throw Tables  [A30]
    d.  HP Growth Tables [A40]
    e.  Backstab Analysis [A50]

  11. Final Notes [B00]
    a.  Conclusion/Special Thanks [B10]
    b.  My Works [B20]
    c.  Appendix [B30]
    d.  Legal Disclaimer [B40]
    e.  History [B50]
=======================================================================



=======================================================================
0.  Pre-introduction:  Why am I still updating this guide?        [000]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
  (POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT.)

  Baldur's Gate II is now an incredibly old game by entertainment 
standards.  I remember reading the manual back in early 10th grade;
that was over 3 years ago.  Since then, many other games have come out,
and even an expansion for Baldur's Gate II has come out.  And many
people have moved onto other games, like Diablo II (also still going
strong after all these years) or Unreal Tournament 2004.

  Yet, here I am, in front of my computer, still typing out stuff and
information for a game that is probably already forgotten by the short
memory of our gaming society.  Why?

  I think I can finally say it.  For years, Final Fantasy VII and 
Civilization II duked it out in my mind as the best game ever made.  
But now, three years after Baldur's Gate II and six years after 
Baldur's Gate started it all (as of this writing), I finally can
conclude it:  the Baldur's Gate Saga is the best game ever made.

  Because it is one game.  Baldur's Gate II is not a sequel.  Fallout
II is a sequel.  Warcraft III is a sequel.  Quake III is a sequel.
Baldur's Gate II is a continuation, it is just one massive expansion
pack for the original Baldur's Gate.  And Throne of Bhaal another one
on top of it.  (I'm not forgetting Tales of the Sword Coast, that was
a nice diversion.)

  And as one game, I have spent more time playing it, replaying it,
studying, and enjoying it more than any other game.  Final Fantasy VII
once held the record for most number of replays, and it probably
still does (I lost count), but Baldur's Gate has the highest quality
of replay.  Even after the umpteenth time I've watched Jon Irenicus
scream in pain, the umpteenth time I saw Sarevok fall down dead, the
umpteenth time I saw the final epilogue in Throne of Bhaal, the game
continues to challenge me and give me a breadth of experience that no
other game has been able to.  Final Fantasy VII, I've mastered.  The
Civilization games I understand through and through and can work 
through the game mechanics on instinct.  But even knowing all the rules
and the tactics of Baldur's Gate, an early Lich battle continues
to make my heart pound, seeing a mage cast "Wail of the Banshee" 
continues to make me scream in delightful frustration, and watching 
Minsc get charmed by a dryad in the original Baldur's Gate never ceases
to make me cry in pain.

  Yet, Baldur's Gate is massive, epic, and at the same time, 
individual, never forgetting the player in the midst of a grander and
grander story.  Even as the realms seem to be ready to implode, your
character is always in control of his destiny, always ready to choose
good or evil, and for that, Baldur's Gate has achieved an existential
triumph over almost every other game created.  No other game has made
the choice to not ascend into deityhood a choice well-respected, and
a rest and reward well-deserved.

  Even six years after it began, I still find myself drawn back to the
game.  It might not boast the latest in vertex-weighted technology,
but the artwork is still expansive and beautiful.  It might not offer
support for 5.1 surround sound systems, but the music still stirs.
But above all, the game has achieved a gameplay that, while first 
ingrained into the workings of Dungeons and Dragons, has eventually
achieved independence and superiority to the system that spawned it.
Even six years after the story and quests began, I still find myself
drawn into the city of Baldur's Gate, I still find myself eager to 
smash into Candlekeep again, I still find myself ready to destroy 
Irenicus, and still always await the final epilogue.

  Because I will always return to this game, because this is the game
that for the rest of my life will define all other games, because this
is THE epic, and furthermore because it is a game with near-infinite
possibilites, this guide will continue to recieve its occasional
updates.  I think it is the best tribute I can make to the men and
women who labored so long to give us such a fine product.  And for you,
the reader, if you managed to read through all my ramblings, I hope you
enjoy the work I put into this guide, because I myself enjoyed every 
second of it.  Nothing more needs to be said, only to go and play the
game once more.

                                                    -2004, Chris Lee
=======================================================================



=======================================================================
1.  Introduction and Contact Info (aka what the hell is this?)    [100]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
  So you gaze upon this guide/FAQ, and you wonder, "What's the point of
this guide?"  Well, the point of this guide, oh so curious one, is that
while there may be loads of general literature (walkthroughs, 
DSimpson's excellent Class FAQ), there are very few FAQs for Baldur's
Gate II/Throne of Bhaal that actually focus specifically on a given 
character class.

  Why would this even be a necessity?  Arguably, some classes do not
need so much detailed investigation.  In fact, if this were Baldur's
Gate 1 and I chose the Fighter class, I'd probably have all of 2 pages
to write about it.  However, this is Shadows of Amn with many items,
many tactics, many unique party members, many enemies, and furthermore,
with Throne of Bhaal's high level abilities and uber-items, almost
every class explodes in potential.

  So then why the thief?  First, I love thieves (especially 3rd ed 
D&D variant Rogues).  Screw you if you hate them.  Second, the average 
player uses rogues to the extent of Jan/Imoen/Nalia disarming and 
detecting traps, MAYBE occasionally pickpocketting a Ring of 
Regeneration or some other decent item.  Which is a pity since Rogues 
are potentially the most versatile and powerful class in the game. 
 
  What?  Rogues?  Powerful?  You might never have thought that, 
especially since Jan and Yoshimo do a damn good job of getting 
themselves killed in combat.  My goal with this FAQ is to hopefully
illuminate the wondrous possibilites of a thief, to clear
misconceptions, and to hopefully show some inadequacies of current
opinion on the thief.  (Note:  While DSimpson's aforementioned Class
FAQ is a good read, I do have some issues with it.  Nevertheless, if
you haven't taken a look at it, I recommend you do; it's a good piece
of work.)

  By the way, much kudos goes to DSimpson's excellent guides (whom I
will occasionally mention), since it really is his work that has 
inspired me to do this.

  Self-plug:  I take pride in the fact that I appear to be one of VERY
few people (heck, I haven't seen any other guides...) that have
actually taken the time to study how Traps evolve and behave.  If you
need some new insight into traps that no one else seems to know, head
right on over to section 5!

  A word on e-mail:  If you have an issue to discuss, e-mail me
with subject heading "THIEF FAQ : " followed by whatever your topic is.
This allows me to parse through my e-mail easier.  The e-mail address
is:  
    s__i__m_u_l___c_r__a@uchicago.edu
*WITHOUT THE UNDERSCORES* (the underscores are there to prevent 
internet parsing software from grabbing my correct e-mail address for
spam purposes).  So, the correct e-mail address should read as 8 
alphabetical characters followed by "@uchicago.edu".
=======================================================================



=======================================================================
2.  Basic Thief Skills/Abilities                                  [200]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
  So, in order to start convincing how amazingly powerful the thief
is, I'll have to start by taking a look at the thief's abilities, that 
is, the seven increasable skills that are the hallmark of the thief:

    Pick Pockets
    Detect Traps
    Pick Locks
    Move Silently
    Hide in Shadows
    Detect Illusions
    Set Trap

    And also Backstab

  Note that atleast in BG2, the maximum for Thief Skills seems to be 
250.

  Pick Pockets - Unfortunately, this skill has been given a bad rap
throughout BGII: SA/ToB.  After all, what good is improving this when
you can rarely get a good payoff, and when you do, you can always
prepare for it by drinking 2-10 Potions of Master Thievery?  While
Pick Pockets should rarely ever be a first priority, this skill is
still immensely useful in that Potions of Master Thievery aren't
infinite in quantity, and that a high enough Pick Pockets will give
you the freedom to steal freely without being item-dependent.  In
case you don't think the payoff is worth it (aside from Ribald and
some other rare stealing opportunities), try stealing a bit from
Nobles and soldiers of sorts.  Sometimes the individual payoff can
be quite significant (a high-level scroll perhaps), and regardless,
the tiny payoffs add-up.  Of course, you'll need to buff up this skill
quite a bit before you can steal so freely.  Keep in mind that wearing
armor of any kind penalizes your pick pocket score (although it doesn't
show up on the character sheet).  Also, some items that you can try
to steal from stores incur greater penalties, I believe.  (Full Plate
Armor is harder than a Gem).
  Also, while in SoA most good stores won't let you steal, in ToB,
much more stores, relatively, with great items you want, will allow
you to steal from them.

  Find Traps - Perhaps the single most useful ability that the thief
possesses.  Ironically, depending on how you play, you may not want to
put a single point in this skill.  The reason being, Bioware realized
that not all players would choose a thief as their main character, and
considering how many traps there are in the game (overwhelmingly more
than in BG1 or even IWD) created many thief dual classed NPCs, along
with the Bounty Hunter Yoshimo, that specialize in detecting and 
disarming traps.  So, if you play with Imoen/Nalia/Jan/Yoshimo, you 
may not want to have your own character be redundant...
  I'm not exactly sure how detecting traps works on a mathematical
meta-game level, but traps atleast have a minimum threshold before 
being able to be detected.  (So you can theoretically program a script
to always detect traps even if you aren't a thief, and they would just
have 0 Find Traps and would be able to detect any traps that have
a threshold of 0.)  You definitely do have incentive to go beyond 100
since the higher it is, the better you can meet the threshold, and
the faster you will generally be able to detect traps.

  Open Locks - Another very important ability, important enough that
it may not be possible to beat many quests without an adequate thief
(or many potions that increase strength so bashing is possible).
Example:  the final door in the Windspear Hills quest is locked.  An
18 Strength player cannot bash it open.  Again, though, you may never
need to increase this skill for the same reason as Find Traps.
  There are very few "difficult" locks and traps in BG2, although the
thief guildhall with all the locked doors and vaults will give you an
idea on how difficulty "varies."  The way BG works is that you have 
undisputed lockpick/disarm trap rolls, meaning unlike pickpocketing 
or detecting traps/illusions (where every time you try it/every turn 
its activated you have a % chance of success), the lockpick/disarm 
works on a threshold.  That is, a certain lock or trap has a certain
requirement, and if you don't have atleast that level, no matter how 
many times you try, you won't be able to crack it (otherwise all 
locks would be able to be picked with 1% lockpick skill with constant
clicking), but if you do have that level, you crack it instantly.  
There are only two really hard traps I can think of in BG2, and one 
is in Neb's room, the other is in the Sahuagin city.  In BG2:ToB 
there are far more difficult traps, so you do want to get disarming 
and lockpicking up to a decent level.

  Move Silently - Determines your ability to stay hidden near
enemies and such, it is generally pointless to increase either Move
Silently or Hide in Shadows to the exclusion of the other.  These
two skills, in tandem, can make the thief the most powerful character
in the game.  More on that later.
  Trying to Move Silently or Hide in Shadows in broad daylight (not
even in shadow, that is, shadow that actually darkens your character's
game apperance) incurs massive penalties, which creates quite an
incentive to boost both beyond 100%.  You would probably want to in
the first place, since any kind of armor also incurs a penalty.

  Hide in Shadows - Determines your ability to hide in the first place.
Note that if any enemies are within the character's visible range, then
regardless of skill, you cannot hide.  Generally, unless you want to
spend one round hidden when near baddies, you probably want to increase 
Move Silently in tandem with Hide in Shadows.  These two skills, in
tandem, can make the thief the most powerful character in the game.
  There's a nice perk to hiding:  it's the same as being invisible.
Meaning you get an attack bonus when attacking visible guys, and they
have a penalty when striking you (yes, some enemies can see through
invisibility, two big examples in Shadows of Amn include all sorts of
Demons and the Vampiric Mists that you'll see scattered throughout the 
game).  Plus, if an enemy was in the process of casting a spell, and 
you moved out of visible range and hid, the spell is cancelled if it 
was targetting you, since spells can't target invisible characters 
(so the annoyance that you had to deal with when enemies Shadow 
Door'ed their mages also applies to them).
  Hiding is slightly different from actual invisibility in that it
can combine with non-detection (cloaks, amulets, or spell) and avoid
True-Sight and other such spells, while Invisibility (even when 
wearing a Cloak of Non-detection) dissipates quickly.
  Trying to Move Silently or Hide in Shadows in broad daylight (not
even in shadow, that is, shadow that actually darkens your character's
game apperance) incurs massive penalties, which creates quite an
incentive to boost both beyond 100%.  You would probably want to in
the first place, since any kind of armor also incurs a penalty.

  Detect Illusions - Perhaps the most overlooked ability in Baldur's 
Gate II.  This acts as a True Sight that your thief can activate by
selecting "Find Traps" as a modal action.  If you're going to use
this, you probably want to go all the way as fast as you can, since
generally you want to dispel illusions as fast as possible (although
the circus illusions are harmless and leaving a Detect Illusions at
10% on for a few rounds doesn't hurt you any).  
  In some respects, a high level Detect Illusions is even better
than True Sight, since it doesn't wipe out your own illusions and
since you essentially have an infinite use of it.  
  So what are illusions?  The really annoying spells, fortunately for
a high level Detect Illusions:  Mirror Image, (Improved) Invisibility
(which also includes Shadow Door, Invisibility 10' Radius, etc.), 
Mislead (yes!), Simulacrum (woah!), Project Image (holy crap!), and
Blur.  Also, the werewolves and shadows in the Circus Tent are 
illusions, but the clones in Irenicus's dungeon are not (though they
seem like Simulacra of your characters).
  The only problem is that it takes a while to "activate" after 
selecting "Find Traps."  Fortunately, this doesn't really 
translate into anything but a shorter casting cost of a True Sight.

  Set Traps - Perhaps the most abused ability in Baldur's Gate II.
Yes, I'm sure by now you've delighted in setting a 100 traps to
wipe out a Diseased Gibberling (seven after Throne of Bhaal).  
Fortunately for gameplay purposes, the seven trap per area limit now
sort of forces players into using traps into actual devious uses,
although the average player does nothing more than use them to
advance-eliminate Dragons and Liches and other large, initially
neutral (or initially not present) creatures.  However, should
you choose to learn how to, Traps can be used in a much more active
role, which also helps make the thief insanely powerful.
  If you want to know in detail how Traps work (damage, special
abilities, etc.), head on over to section 5.  You won't believe how
powerful these can be, especially since Bioware never ever released
information on them, and since most people who write guides DON'T 
KNOW THEMSELVES how Traps specifically function.
  It's important to note that you cannot set a Trap if enemies are 
within your thief's visible range (as oppossed to party's visible
range, an important distinction).
  For setting traps, you have no reason to go beyond a skill of 100.
You may notice yourself fail on occasion, but this is due to a critical
failure, not because of inadequate skill level.

  Backstab - I'm sure the average player has never bothered to use
it, except once or twice with Valygar as a novelty.  However,
consider that a normal thief will obtain 5x backstab (equivalent to
5 attacks... well, almost), and that an assassin will obtain 7x
backstab (insane!).  Beware though, contrary to popular literature,
being hidden or invisible wears off with the first attack, not
after the first round, meaning you will only get one backstab a 
round.  Note:  strength modifiers to damage only apply AFTER the 
damage has been multiplied.
=======================================================================



=======================================================================
3.  High Level Skills/Abilities                                   [300]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
  With Throne of Bhaal came the High Level abilities, skills obtained
upon a level up that will surely strike fear in the hearts of many.
But will they?  Have a look:

    Alchemy
    Assassination (or Whirlwind Attack)
    Avoid Death
    Evasion
    Greater Evasion (needs Evasion)
    Scribe Scrolls (needs Use Any Item)
    Set Exploding Trap
    Set Spike Trap
    Set Time Trap
    Use Any Item

  Alchemy - Once per day, randomly creates a potion from the following
list: Master Thievery, Perception, Extra Healing, Superior Healing,
Regeneration, Antidote, Speed, Frost Giant Strength (that only rogues
can use).  
  Unfortunately, of the eight options, Master Thievery, Perception,
and Antidote are really duds.  By now, your thieving skills are high
enough that you don't need further enhancement by potions, and also
most poisons won't really do much to your characters.  Still, that
means a greater than 50% chance of getting something good (especially
with Superior Healing and Frost Giant Strength).

  Assassination - Every attack in the next round is enhanced by the
backstab modifier.
  Awesomely good, especially when combined with Haste or something
like Belm, which means extra backstabs.  This makes the thief an
even better character, since if their hit-and-fade attacks fail,
they can still have some offensive muscle.
  Don't think that Assassination makes backstabbing obsolete.  
Backstabbing still has the advantage of giving you an attack bonus
and also essentially keeps you invulnerable until you actually do make
your attack.
  Note, however, that since Swashbucklers can't backstab at all, they
instead get...

  Whirlwind Attack - Gets 10 attacks next round, but at penalty of -4
to THAC0.
  Awesomely good, in some ways better than Assassination (since
it's potentially 10x when getting one normal attack a round), but in
some ways weaker (-4 to THAC0 and not as much an advantage when
using weapons with more than one attack).  Nevertheless, combined with
a Swashbuckler's other benefits, this effeciently replaces
Assassination as the thief's offensive kicker for high level abilities.

  Avoid Death - +20 HP and for 5 rounds gets a +5 bonus to Save vs. Death
and becomes immune to Death Magic.
  This is a great way to buy time for the thief.  Especially if you
are paying attention to the message box in the bottom of the screen and
you see something like "Mage - Finger of Death: You" and you activate
this ability.  Or if a fireball goes off with your weak character in
its grasp, you can try and activate it before the flames reach him.

  Evasion - +4 bonus to AC, +2 bonus to saving throws for 3 rounds.
  Hmm... honestly, this isn't too great of a high-level ability.  This
is more useful in that it lets you get Greater Evasion, but otherwise
+4 AC and +2 saving throws for 3 rounds just isn't that great.

  Greater Evasion (needs Evasion) - +6 bonus to AC, +3 bonus to saving 
throws, +2 to movement, and immunity to normal missiles for 5 rounds.
  This is a far more useful ability since your character to do some
intense hit-and-fade attacks, since now, even without Boots of Speed
or Haste, you can outpace enemies and prevent yourself from being
stopped by stray attacks so you can live/hide and strike again.

  Scribe Scrolls (needs Use Any Item) - Once per day creates a scroll
randomly from the list:  Magic Missile, Haste, Fireball, Dispel Magic,
Dire Charm, Invisibility, Cone of Cold, Monster Summoning II, Monster
Summoning III.
  This is a joke ability.  Unless you've really been skimping magic,
your mages should easily be able to cover any spell needs.  Your
thief is better off shooting arrows, hitting-and-fading, tossing 
traps, and generally making life hell in a strategic, non-magic way.

  Set Exploding Trap - This trap explodes like a fireball, dealing
10d6 damage (Save vs. Spells for half) and propels victims away
(like a Dragon's Wing Buffet), regardless of save.
  Generally, expect this to do 5d6 damage since in ToB, enemies will
generally be able to save quite frequently.  Its greatest asset is
that it will propel victims away, which means it buys you time to
hide, set more traps, or deal with enemies in discarded groups.  
This is a highly tactical trap.
  By the way, since the game isn't very explicit about this, 
Exploding Trap is party-friendly.

  Set Spike Trap - This trap deals 20d6 damage to whatever enemies
activate it (no save).
  Generally the cheese trap that most players love to exploit to
hell.  Nevertheless, it does have its wonderful tactical advantages,
aside from just piling them up in front of a stationary dragon, then
laughing as they all activate and chunk the dragon to floating bits
of meat.  This is a highly aggressive trap.

  Set Time Trap - Activates a Time Stop for 10 seconds.  
  This, like Exploding Trap, is highly tactical, but for different
reasons.  Exploding Trap buys you temporary time and deals some
damage, but Time Trap gives you a massive initiative bonus.  
There is a difference.  Time Trap can allow your thief to prepare
more traps, but also get in better position, maybe down some potions,
or even Assassinate/Backstab (since all attacks in Time Stop are
automatic successes).

  Use Any Item - Removes item restrictions for the thief.
  This is perhaps one of the strongest high level abilities at the
thief's disposal; this allows anything (from the Helm of Balduran
to Fortress Shield +3) to be used by the thief.  This makes your
thief much more useful than many other characters for this reason.
=======================================================================



=======================================================================
4.  Kits                                                          [400]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
  While DSimpson did a great job in his Class FAQ, since he worked on
every single class offered in BGII:SA/ToB, he had to sacrifice some
detail and analysis.  I intend to, by specialization, to give some 
greater depth to the various options offered by the thief classes.
  I mark positive analyses with a '+', a negative with a '-', and
neutral assessments with a '='.  I don't give letter grades since they
tend to oversimplify issues.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
4a. Vanilla Thief                                                 [410]

  Abilities:
    Thief Skills (25 points a level to distribute).
    Backstabbing capability.
  Restrictions:
    Can only wear up to Studded Leather Armor and Bucklers.
    Can only use Short Swords, Long Swords, Katanas, Daggers, Short
      Bows, Scimitar/Wakizashi/Ninja-to, Darts, and Light Crossbows.
    Cannot be of Lawful Good alignment.

  +Contrary to what DSimpson writes, the Vanilla Thief has credibility
on its own; its kits do not make it obsolete (like what the Cleric's 
kits do for the Cleric itself, for example).  That is because every kit 
has a sacrifice that is critical in many ways for a given style of play.
For someone who wants the general experience of a thief, this is the 
best choice.

  =Being restricted to only using Bucklers is pretty bad, since magical
bucklers are severely limited; in fact there's only one in the game.
(For more on this see Items of Note - Armor and Final Notes - History.)
In some respects, Single Weapon Proficiency is actually better than 
equipping an actual buckler, even the magical one (since in addition to
the -1 AC of SWP that also applies against missile weapons headed your
way, which normal bucklers won't protect against, you now critically 
hit twice as often: 19-20 as oppossed to just 20).

  By the way, thieves are great for dual-classing, as opposed to
multi-classing.  On one end, you want to increase a few specific
abilities to maximum success then completely change over to a mage
or a fighter, on the other, you want to get some magical/fighter
perks before going completely as a thief.

  Because multi/dual-classed thieves function much differently than
just normal thieves, I'll mention some of the more particular ones.
.......................................................................
  i.  Fighter/Thief                                               [411]
    
    Abilities:
      Can specialize in any weapon.
      Can wear any armor, but can't use thief skills when wearing
        anything beyond studded leather.

    +Specialization is massively good.  +1 to-hit, +2 damage!  Extra
  attack!  That extra attack doesn't mean much for backstabbing (you
  lose stealth after the first attack), but for Improved Invisibility
  or Assassination, you sneak in good extra hits.

    +You get extra HP.  Woo!  This makes your thief a bit more 
  durable in combat, useful if he messed up setting a trap or missed a
  backstab.

    =The armor bonus isn't that great at first glance, since if you
  wear full plate, then you essentially have a fighter with less 
  health and less weapon ability.  The reason you're a thief is for
  the thief skills anyway, right?

    You're VERY much better off starting off as a fighter and dualling
  to a thief, since if you multiclass, your thief skills progress VERY
  slowly.  Since you probably only want to use a few weapons, stay a
  fighter long enough to max out potential HP and get specialized in
  those weapons.

    A fighter/thief is good if you want to do more backstabbing damage
  or you want a utility thief that can also survive in combat.  But,
  in the latter case, a Swashbuckler is almost completely better in
  every way.
.......................................................................
  ii. Mage/Thief                                                  [412]

    Abilities:
      Spellcasting.

    +Magic = good.  Plus, being part thief, the mage/thief gets the
  amazing extra perk of being able to wear elven chain mail (although 
  you probably would rather opt for the Robe of Vecna).

    -You lose HP.  At least you still have more HP than a pure mage.

    -If you multiclass, your spell development will be INCREDIBLY 
  behind pure mages.  Early on this doesn't mean much, but when you
  start getting level 8 and 9 scrolls without being able to memorize
  them (whereas Edwin, Imoen, and Nalia have no problem), it gets very
  frustrating and your relative power level drops.

    A mage/thief is a combination geared more at traps and passive work,
  like detecting illusions or setting traps.  Which ever way you do it
  (dual or multi), a mage/thief will be generally very poor at backstab
  or aggressive hit-and-fade work, since HP will be generally much 
  lower.  
 
    Note that even your mage/thief will be comparatively weaker,
  spell-wise, to your magic counhterparts, being a thief could more
  than make up for it.  You can use Melf's Minute Meteors to much
  better effect (lower THAC0), equip decent weapons (like Gesen's
  Short Bow or one of many different other better-than-sling bows
  and corssbows), and do stuff like hide (which makes spellcasting a
  nice surprise).  

    If you multi-class, you'll get slower development, but you'll have
  the potential of having Time Stop traps (combines well with a flurry
  of Spell Triggers) or other fun stuff (Use Any Item, Avoid Death,
  Greater Evasion, the last two being particularly useful for a part
  mage).  If you dual-class, you can get what you need in one and max
  out the other.
.......................................................................
  iii.Cleric/Thief                                                [413]

    Abilities:
      Clerical spellcasting.
      Turn Undead.,
    Restrictions:
      Can only use clerical weapons.

    +Magic = good.  Although, clerical magic doesn't mesh as well with
  a thief as normal magic.  Although with clerical magic, you can wear
  that Grandmaster's Armor and still toss out spells.

    +You gain a piddling extra HP.

    +You have better THAC0 in the long run.  Although, because the way
  a cleric's THAC0 develops, in the short term, it might seem like you
  have crap THAC0.

    +You can turn undead.  Combined with a thief's ability to Hide,
  you can Hide for one turn, then immediately activate Turn Undead.
  Just as you go visible, you should do a Turn and either destroy/scare
  lots of the baddies, or gain control of some of them (depending on
  alignment).  Otherwise, it can give your thief a last resort protection
  if Vampires are relentless pursuing it after a messed up backstab
  or something to that effect.

    =You can't use normal thief weapons.  On the one hand, this means
  being able to use a whole slew of generally more-damage weapons, but
  on the other, alot of thief-good weapons are now forever lost.

    A cleric/thief is interesting, to say the least.  It gives the
  thief alot more versatility (such as being able to pump himself up
  via magic), but it doesn't particularly complement the thief's 
  abilities or make up for any shortcomings.  It might be nice to have
  Time Stop traps with some clerical spells, and I suppose a Use Any
  Item goes far into making weapons better.
 
    Still, a backstabbing thief buffed with a Righteous Magic means
  absolute destruction.  (Righteous Magic increases strength, HP, AND
  deals maximum damage on each hit... ouch!)
.......................................................................
  iv. Fighter/Mage/Thief                                          [414]

    Abilities:
      Can specialize in any weapon.
      Spellcasting.
      Can wear any armor, but can't cast spells when wearing non-elven
        metal armor, and can't use thieving abilities when wearing
        anything past Studded Leather.

    +Here's a fun equation - Magic+Fighting+Thieving = Supertank.  Out
  of all the thief variants, this is perhaps the most capable of
  soloing the game by itself.  Your hide-in-shadows fail?  Your
  stoneskin takes care of that.  Piddling backstab damage?  Tenser's
  Transformation takes care of that.  

    =Here's a not-so-fun equation - 2 950 000 / 3 = 983 333.  Do you
  know what that is?  That's the Pre-Throne of Bhaal level cap divided
  by the three classes that'll be splitting the experience.  Do you
  realize how LOW of a cap that is?  Your Fighter/Mage/Thief levels 
  will be, respectively, 11/12/14.  Sure, you'll be able to cast 
  spells, but only up to level 5.  Sure, you can use thieving
  abilities, but you'll actually have LESS theiving points to use than
  the highly crippled Assassin.
    Then again, why bother with putting points into Hide in Shadows
  when you have numerous casts of (Improved) Invisibility and Shadow
  Door at your disposal?  Why bother with Detect Illusions when you
  have Oracle?

    The Fighter/Mage/Thief lacks a lot in relative power.  The Fighter/
  Thief elements don't make up for the fact that the mage is never
  going to be able to cast powerful spells.  The Fighter/Mage elements
  don't make up for the fact that the thief will be missing out on LOTS
  of abilities.  The Mage/Thief elements don't make up for the fact 
  the fighter will be severely crippled in THAC0 and AC.  Still, with
  a loss in absolute power, it gains versatility, which in some ways
  far outweights any penalty from the low levels. 
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
4b. Multi-class Variants                                          [420]

  If you're a human, you have the possibility of starting off the game
as a more specialized variant of Fighter, Cleric, or Wizard and then
dual over to a thief later.  I mentioned before that it's perhaps even
better to dual-class over multi-class, since you can either start off
with a Fighter set and get the proficiencies you want then switch over,
or start off with a Thief set and get the abilities you want then
switch over.  So, here are just some quick analysis on how the various
fighter/cleric variants function and when you probably want to switch
over.  Specialized Mages aren't different enough from normal Wizards
to warrant their own section.
.......................................................................
  i.  Berserker                                                   [421]

    Abilities:
      May use Enrage ability once per day per 4 levels. While enraged: 
      +2 to hit, +2 damage, -2 AC. The berserker at this time is 
      immune to charm, hold, fear, maze, imprisonment, stun and sleep. 
      He also gains 15 hit points while enraged. These hit points are 
      temporary, and are taken away at the end of his berserk spree, 
      possibly killing the berserker. Enrage also makes him immune 
      to level drain.

    Restrictions:
      Becomes winded after berserking. While he's winded, he receives 
        -2 to hit, -2 to damage and a +2 penalty to AC.
      Cannot specialize in ranged weapons.
      Cannot be of Lawful alignment.

    I'm not quite sure why you would want to do this.  Enrage isn't
  very synergestic with the Thief's abilities.  In a pinch it's a
  nice boost to your backstab abilities, but it's very temporary and
  you're left with a nasty side effect when it wears off.  Plus, 
  if you're not going for backstabbing, then you lose out on the 
  ability to specialize in Short Bows, which just stinks for little
  gain.
.......................................................................
  ii. Kensai                                                      [422]

    Abilities:
      +1 To-Hit and +1 Damage bonus per 3 levels.
      -2 bonus to AC.
      -1 bonus to Speed Factor per 4 levels.
      May use Kai once per day per 4 levels, starting with one use at
        level 1.  Lasts 10 seconds and causes max damage to be
        inflicted with weapons.

    Restrictions:
      Cannot use missile weapons.
      Cannot wear armor.
      Cannot wear gauntlets or bracers.
      Cannot be of Chaotic alignment.

    The Kensai makes actually a strong backstabbing thief.  The fact
  that the Kensai has almost no recourse of improving AC is offset by
  the fact that the backstabbing thief will have both higher HP and
  the ability to go invisible (via Hide in Shadows).  

    The bonus to THAC0 and Damage is exceptionally good for improving
  the thief's ability to pull off a devastating backstab.  Especially
  considering the damage bonus is multiplied by the backstab multiplier
  as well.  

    The bonus to AC doesn't really do too much, other than pair well
  with a shield to cut down on missile weapon damage.

    The bonus to Speed Factor is actually most beneficial for a 
  backstabber.  With even a -2 bonus, you can start using the more
  damaging (but slower) long swords to greater effect for
  backstabbing.  With a -3 bonus, you can also branch out to other 
  weapons, like Katanas, Quarterstaves, and War Hammers, that 
  ordinarily would be terribly difficult to use with backstabbing.

    Kai is simply amazing with backstab.  It'd require expert timing:
  activate Kai, hide, and then you have 4 seconds to land a strike.
  (The first 6 seconds are eaten up since you have to wait a full round
  before your next round begins and you can hide.)  However, when
  you do land a strike, you'll probably slay most anything with a 
  single hit.

    There are two levels at which point you'd probably want to dual
  over, depending on your tastes.  If you dual over at level 8, you get
  a nice 10 + 7d10 amount of HP (not counting constitution bonuses),
  you get a +2 To-Hit and +2 Damage, -2 to Speed Factor, and three uses
  of Kai.  Plus, you get a headstart on your thief building.

    Alternatively, you can dual over at level 12.  You'll get +4 To-Hit
  and +4 Damage, -3 to Speed Factor, and four uses of Kai.  This will
  maximize the benefit you can get out of the Kensai, since you'll also
  be getting the full 9 hit die worth of d10 HP.  But be warned!  
  Your thief, while guaranteed to regain his fighter abilities, may
  have trouble reaching high levels, especially if you have a 6-person
  party.
.......................................................................
  iii.Wizard Slayer                                               [423]

    Abilities:
      Every successful hit adds a cumulative 10% spell failure.
      2% magic resistance per level.
      At level 20, magic resistance gain rate is 5% per every 2 levels.

    Restrictions:
      Cannot use magical items (aside from weapons and armor).

    This class is bad news.  For you.  The thief has almost nothing to 
  gain from this class.  Sure, you gain magic resistance, but the
  thief, unlike the fighter, has a really huge dependence on magical
  items, like Boots of Speed, Rings of Protection/Invisibility, and
  even Potions of Speed/Invisibility.  If somehow you don't need
  these items, well, a Swashbuckler is almost better than a Wizard
  Slayer in every single way.  When you dual over, you'll most likely
  have a piddling amount of resistance, say 20% or so.  Not worth it.
.......................................................................
  iv. Specialized Cleric                                          [424]

    Abilities: 
      (Depending on alignment; first ability is useable once per day
        per 10 levels, starting at level 1 with one use, second ability
        is usable once per day per 5 levels, starting at level 1 with
        one use.)
      Good - Boon of Lathander, Hold Undead
      Neutral - Seeking Sword, True Sight
      Evil - Storm Shield, Lightning Bolt

    Out of all these options, Neutral is the worst.  True Sight is
  redundant with Detect Illusions.  Seeking Sword has limited
  application to the thief since rarely do you want a thief to go out
  and tank it with enemies (and you won't be a Swashbuckler to give
  you any THAC0 bonuses or the like).

    Good and Evil are both somewhat tied in terms of quality.  Boon of
  Lathander gives you +1 To-Hit, +1 to Damage, +1 to Saves, an extra 
  attack, and immunity to level-drain.  The extra attack combines well
  with a bow or other ranged weapon, and the bonus To-Hit and Damage 
  mesh well with a backstabber.  Combined with some of the buffer 
  spells the Cleric has, and your Cleric/Thief will be able to hold his
  own quite easily.  Immunity to level-drain is almost meaningless for
  a backstabber/trapper, but for all other thief variants, it saves a
  lot of headaches.  However, Hold Undead isn't terribly great.  While
  there are lots of Undead out there, there are only a few nasty enough
  to warrant a Hold Undead (really vicious Vampires, for example).
    
    Similarly, Lightning Bolt may be pretty good early on and will
  give the Thief something to do during pitched battles where he or
  she can't really backstab or lay traps, but enemies start making
  their saves very well later on, so the general usefulness of being
  able to cast it starts getting pretty bad.

    Storm Shield gives you immunity to fire, cold, lightning, and 
  missile weapons for a good amount of time (1 round per level).  The
  only problem is (like all specialized protective spells), it's very
  hard to judge when an enemy will use fire, cold, or lightning.
  This can be certainly useful when you're about to encounter
  Salamanders or Elementals, but in general, enemy mages will be
  flinging Magic Missiles, Fingers of Death, and Domination more than
  Cone of Cold or Chain Lightning.  Still, the immunity to missile
  weapons is seriously useful for any thief that works on distance
  or creating distance (backstabbers, trappers, ranged attackers).
  Lightning Bolt gives the thief a last-stand weapon or something else
  to do to help the party out.  With careful aim, you can hit an enemy
  twice with it, sometimes even more.  

    No matter what you choose, dual over at level 11.  This will 
  maximize Clerical benefit; you get two uses of your first ability,
  three uses of your second ability, and can cast up to level 5 spells.
  Anything more and you start reducing the effectiveness of your thief
  for little gain.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
4b. Assassin                                                      [430]

  Abilities:
    Backstab x6 at level 17.
    Backstab x7 at level 21.
    Bonus +1 to THAC0 and Damage.
    Can coat weapon in poison, meaning that in the next 24 seconds, any
      hits will cause 6 damage to be dealt over 6 seconds for 30
      seconds, Save vs. Death to 6 total damage over 6 seconds.  In
      addition, the effect strengthens as the Assassin gains levels:
        At 10th level, this changes to 30 damage over 14 seconds (Save
      for 6 damage over 2 seconds).  So, it's roughly twice as fast,
      damage-wise.
        At 15th level, this changes to 42 over 14 seconds (Save for 
      12 damage over 4 seconds).  So, it's roughly three times as fast
      as normal poison, in addition to being more damaging.  In 
      addition, the enemy must Save vs. Death or be slowed for 30 
      seconds.
      << NOTE - The poison effect is actually different than listed in
      the manual and in most guides.  It's not significant enough to
      warrant a separate section, like Traps.  I have taken a look at
      the actual script files as verification. >>
  Restrictions:
    Can only be Chaotic Neutral or Evil alignment.
    Only 15 points a level to distribute for Thief skills.

  =This is pretty much the class for people who wants to go hardcore
with hit-and-fade attacks and backstabbing.  The 15 points a level
essentially forces you to focus only on Hide in Shadows, Move Silently,
and perhaps one other skill.

  +Even without x6 and x7 backstabbing capability, the Assassin is
always a better damage dealer, since the +1 Damage bonus gets magnified
by the multipliers.  Meaning at first it deals out +3 damage per
backstab, +4 once you get 4x, and onward, so all other things being
equal, if both an Assassin and a Thief had a 5x backstab, the Assassin
would still be doing +5 more damage on average.

  +Backstab x7 is simply crazy.  That's essentially seven attacks in
one round.  Combined with something like Belm (which gives you 2 
attacks a round) and Assassination, that's potentially 14 attacks 
worth of damage.  

  =Poison is extraneous, sorta.  It really doesn't have much to add
to the overall backstabbing experience, especially since enemies are
quite adept at making their saving throws.  Nevertheless, when you're
in a situation when you can't hit-and-fade (ambushed, forced encounter,
out of invisibility rings/potions, small area), Poisoning your arrows
makes the Assassin an actually capable force.

  =Being CN isn't that bad, and being Evil means you can choose
freely your path at the end of the game without worrying about
spiritual consequences.  However, this does mean that certain good
spells like Holy Word and Holy Smite no longer will be effective or 
will need quite a bit more micromanagement.  On the other hand,
the occasional use of Unholy Blight by the enemy will be completely
useless on you.

  -Having only 15 points per level will REALLY hurt you early on.  
Eventually, by level 23, you'll have some more breathing room, but this
will essentially force you to rely on someone like Jan or Imoen to do
the trap work for you.  And the lock work.  And pick pocketting.
Perhaps those damn illusions, too.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
4b. Swashbuckler                                                  [440]

  Abilities:
    +1 to AC.
    An additional +1 to AC every 5 levels.
    Bonus +1 THAC0 and Damage every 5 levels.
    Can specialize in any thief weapon.
    Can obtain three proficiency points in two weapon fighting.
    Can obtain Whirlwind Attack as a high level ability.
  Restrictions:
    Cannot backstab.
    Does not gain the extra 1/2 attack by specialization.
    Cannot obtain Assassination as a high level ability.

  +This class combines the fighter and the thief into one, 
non-exp-splitting combination, and even improves upon it.  Of course,
he still can't wear Full Plate Mail (and even with Use Any Item, won't
be able to use thief abilities, but maybe you won't need to), and he
won't attack any more often than a normal thief, just beetter.

  +The AC bonuses keep on applying far up to level 40, meaning that
your Base AC by the end of the game will by 1 (-9 AC).  Combined with 
Shadow Dragon Leather (AC 1), then Dex 18 (-4 AC), you will have a 
potential AC of -12.  That's before items like Ring of Gaxx or Cloak
of the Sewers (+1 AC).  So even if the thief can't use Full Plate Mail,
he'll be able to more than compensate for that.

  +The Bonus THAC0, while not making the thief like a fighter, brings
him atleast into the range of a Cleric's THAC0.  The damage bonus
is absolutely nice.

  =While it is true that the thief can get three points in two weapon
fighting and can specialize in any thief weapon, keep in mind the thief
is a thief and will have very few precious proficiency points.
Meaning you will be able to use very few weapons if you actually choose
to specialize in some.  Considering the Celestial Fury is not really
the end-all be-all weapon after ToB, this is bad.

  =Whirlwind Attack is a replacement for Assassination.  In some 
respects this is good (potentially more damage, considering the damage
bonuses that stack up), in some ways bad (Assassination is more
flexible since a thief could potentially have three attacks, two from
weapon, one from haste, so could actually result in 15x normal attacks,
21x if an Assassin).  Though, Whirlwind Attack is better for spell
disruption and getting rid of Mirror Images/Stoneskins.

  =Backstabbing is out.  Meaning for someone like me, this means the
Swashbuckler is almost out of the picture.  For some people, the 
additional fighting prowess of the Swashbuckler makes up for it, but
for me, backstabbing ultimately becomes a much more powerful tool.
Perhaps by the end of this guide, you will realize that perhaps this
should be a massive '-' instead of a '='.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
4c. Bounty Hunter                                                 [450]

  Abilities:
    +15 to Set Traps ability
    Can lay Special Traps.  Gained at the same rate as normal traps,
      and they have the following abilities depending on character
      level (not cumulative):
      1st:  Deals out damage and slows if Save vs. Spell failed.
      11th: Deals out damage and holds if Save vs. Spell failed.
      16th: Encloses target in Otiluke's Resilient Sphere if Save vs. 
        Spell failed (no actual damage).
      21st: Mazes the target (no Save, no magic resistance allowed,
        but no actual damage).
      << NOTE - If you want more detail on how these Special Traps 
        work, head on over to section 5. I'm just quoting the in-game
        information here, which is actually misleading and 
        in some ways, completely incorrect. >>
  Restrictions:
    Only 20 points a level to distribute on thief abilities.

  =This is definitely a class geared towards trap-laying.  While not
quite as extremely exclusive as the Assassin, the reduced number of
thieving points makes this more specialized than a Vanilla thief.

  +++The Special Traps are supergreat (contrary to some opinion).
First, they are the only traps that can be THROWN.  Whereas all other
traps your character has to walk to that point and set it, your
character will simply throw a Special Trap to the location.  Meaning
potentially you have a mechanical fireball at your hands.
  Furthermore, Special Traps evolve as do your normal Traps.  At
first, your Special Traps will be your offensive weapon while your
plain Traps serve as a last-stand tactical weapon (Special Traps start
off by doing around twice normal Trap damage).  However, around
level 12, your normal Traps gain a very nice poisoning ability, where
they persist their damage (of a completely different nature than the
initial strike) for several rounds, making them more offensive, while
your Special Traps start becoming more tactical (being able to Hold),
while still being slightly on par with your normal Traps, damage-wise.
  Now, you may be wondering why the hell you want to go beyond that;
your Special Traps no longer deal actual damage starting at level 16.
Well, you don't need them to; at this point your normal Traps have 
plenty of kick.  Your Special Traps become immense tactical weapons.
About to be overwhelmed by enemies or about to go into a tough fight?
Toss a Special Trap and watch the fighting force get cut into a smaller 
chunk.  I don't think it can be overemphasized how much easier a battle
becomes when you can deal with enemies in smaller groups.  In addition,
because you can actually THROW a Special Trap, this works great as a
pre-emptive move; sort of like a projectile, area of effect Sphere.
  At level 21, the Special Trap becomes the most compelling argument
for soloing a Bounty Hunter through the game.  Your Special Trap will
become your most valuable asset.  Why?  First, almost NOTHING can
resist being Mazed by this trap.  No Saving Throw, no magic resistence,
not even game-important characters can resist it.  In fact, it is 
actually possible to slightly break game scripting by using this trap;
for example: 

<>  

In fact, only VERY hugely game important characters seem to be able to 
resist this effect; the Demogorgon is the only enemy I've encountered
that will consistently resist being Mazed (and he can also resist
the Time Stop effect of Time Traps).
  In addition, Mazing is a much greater tactical advantage than
Sphering enemies.  Why?  Even if you Sphere the battle group in half,
the other half will all unsphere at the same time (unless you planted
another Special Trap out of their visible range).  But Mazing will take
out all in-range enemies and return them based on their intelligence
(like the actual spell).  It is uncommon for enemies to share identical
intelligences in one battle encounter; it is further uncommon that
you will see identical dice rolls for the randomly generated durations.
This means you can take a huge battle crowd (like the Northern Tunnels
in Sendai's Lair if you just run through till the end and let thirty
some odd dwarves and Orogs follow in hot pursuit), and reduce it to 
small skirmishes of two or so enemies at a time.  In addition, because
enemies are effectively no longer there, you can take the time you 
bought to Hide your thieves, set more Traps (Spike, Exploding, Normal, 
whatever), or just better prepare your characters for battle. Or, 
completely run away and live to fight another day.  
  Another side bonus is that in skirmishes mixed with mages, the mages
will generally have the highest intelligences, meaning they will
generally be the first to reappear... alone, without support.  Meaning
their toughness becomes greatly reduced.
  Of course, there is no actual damage that it does, but it still 
becomes the ultimate support ability in the entire game.  Combined with
some smart tactics (elaborated on later), your Bounty Hunter can end
up taking the lion's share in experience value and kills.

  =The 20 points per level hurts you a bit (not nearly as much as
the Assassin's 15 per level), but this is slightly offset by the fact
that you start off with +15 in Traps, so if you so choose, you can 
afford to divert some extra points elsewhere.  The Assassin, by 
contrast, has no such bonus to their Hide in Shadows or Move Silently 
abilities, so has to focus more on them.
=======================================================================



=======================================================================
5.  The Secret of Traps                                           [500]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
  One thing that severely irritated me about Baldur's Gate II was the
plethora of information hiding in certain areas.  Like, the game never
telling you what exactly Minsc's Berserk does for him (does it also
give him the +2 THAC0 and Damage, +2 bonus to AC that Enrage does for
Berserkers?).  The big thing, though, is the fact that there is VERY
little documentation on the thief traps (save for the higher level ones
which are actually fully explained).  So little documentation, in fact,
that I had to hunker down and read through the actual trap scripting
files to determine what they actually do.  So, enjoy the product of
my hard work!
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
5a. Normal Traps                                                  [510]

  First thing to know:  you gain the ability to set a Trap once per
day per every five levels.  So, one use at level 1, two uses at level
6, and so on.  You'd think such a simple thing like this Bioware would
actually tell you.
  Second thing to know:  every time you get an increased use of a trap,
the trap also becomes more powerful.  So, without further ado...

  Level 1 Trap:  Doesn't exist, since you start off higher than level 6.
  Level 6 Trap:  Deals 2d8+5 damage to any enemies within the area
    of effect of the Trap when it goes off.  This is non-magical damage
    so Magic Resistence can't stop it (as is the same for all initial
    damage of later Traps).
  Level 11 Trap: Deals 2d8+5 damage to any enemies within the area
    of effect of the Trap when it goes off.  In addition, for the next
    three rounds, it deals 2d6 poison damage per round (hence
    resistence or vulnerability to poison also affects the damage).
    In addition, this extra damage also disrupts spell casting (like
    Melf's Acid Arrow).
  Level 16 Trap: Deals 3d8+5 damage plus 4d8+2 fire damage to any
    enemies within the area of effect of the Trap when it goes off.
    Like poison, any vulnerability or resistence to fire also effects
    the extra damage.
  Level 21 Trap: Deals 3d8+5 damage plus 20 poison damage to any
    enemies within the area of effect of the Trap when it goes off.
    Plus, enemies must Save vs Death with a +4 bonus or die instantly.
    Again, the poison damage can be reduced or increased according to
    resistence/vulnerability.

  Note that in Shadows of Amn pre-seven Trap restriction (which is
pre-ToB and I believe pre-patch), damage per trap is about half listed,
rounding down.  My hypothesis is that after Bioware put the Trap limit
per area, they beefed up the damages to still keep their power level
up.  Interestingly, pre-patch and pre-ToB, the Save to avoid instant
death was harder since enemies weren't given a bonus.

  As you can see, normal traps do rock incredibly.  Unfortunately, the 
instant death effect at level 21, thanks to the bonus to save and the 
general late time you get the trap, is more just frosting than actual 
meat since most enemies will actually make the save.  A Greater 
Malison, however, will go far into making it effective.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
5b. Special Traps                                                 [520]

  Even though the game seems to tell you what they do, there's still 
quite a bit it doesn't tell you.  Like normal Traps, you can use them
once per day per every five levels starting with one use at level 1.

  Level 1 Special Trap:  Doesn't exist, since you start off higher than
    level 6.
  Level 6 Special Trap:  Deals 3d8+5 damage to any enemies within the
    area of effect of the Special Trap when it goes off.  In addition,
    enemies must Save vs. Spells with a -4 penalty or be slowed for 5
    rounds.  (Like normal Traps, the initial damage is non-magical.)
  Level 11 Special Trap: Deals 4d8+5 damage to any enemies within the
    area of effect of the Special Trap when it goes off.  In addition,
    humanoid enemies must Save vs. Spells with a -1 penalty or be
    held for 5 rounds.
  Level 16 Special Trap: All enemies within the area of effect when
    the Special Trap goes off must Save vs. Spells or be affected as
    Otiluke's Resilient Sphere for 7 rounds.
  Level 21 Special Trap: All enemies within the area of effect,
    regardless of Magic Resistence, are Mazed as the spell of the same
    name (except Spell Trap and the like cannot stop it from occuring).
    The Maze lasts according to intelligence, as according to the
    actual spell.

  What the game (and apparently every single FAQ and guide ever
written) doesn't tell you is that enemies actually recieve penalties to
their Saves for slowing and holding.  Ironically, you will notice more
enemies succumbing to the effects of the Sphere effect despite the fact
that there is no penalty to the Save.  That is because, again the game
doesn't tell you this, the hold effect of a level 11 Trap is based on
Hold Person, meaning non-humanoid creatures cannot be held, so there 
are alot more valid targets for Sphere to work on than the Hold effect.  
=======================================================================



=======================================================================
6.  Stronghold                                                    [600]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
  The thief has perhaps the most advantageous stronghold of any class.
I don't mean to say "the best," since that is a very arguable point,
but rather that it is advantageous for the following reasons:  it is
easy to obtain, it has the most convenience (subjective, but this is
based on the fact that things you want you'll obtain by doing this),
and it is the most profitable.

  This is the easiest to obtain by the sheer fact that you can walk
out of Irenicus's dungeon, head to the Docks, and proceed to the do
the quests.  There are only two tricky battles, one in Rayic Gethras's
home, the other when you take down the entirety of Mae'Var's guildhall.
For the most part, though, the quests involved are fetch and carry.

  This has the most convenience mainly because you can get a decent
weapon for the thief, loads of cash, and Edwin, hands down the best
mage in the game.  Of course this is subjective, and relative to some
of the other stronghold quests, the payoff isn't that great (although
I DO think Edwin rules over Carsomyr +5).

  The most profitable?

  Here we go with some basic math...

  First, when you start managing the stronghold DO NOT BE A COWARD
AND KEEP YOUR THIEVES AT LOW RISK.  Doing so means they will BARELY be
able to cover average quota, meaning you are gaining almost no benefit 
from managing the stronghold.  What is average quota?  Well, after
the first four weeks (which are preset), it's a 50% chance of 500 gold,
20% chance of 300, 20% chance of 900, and 10% chance of 1000 gold.
So, expected value would be sum of all (chance * value), or
(.5 * 500) + (.2 * 300) + (.2 * 900) + (.1 * 1000) or 600 gold per
7 days.

  Second, if you keep all your thieves at high risk, (choices 1,2,1)
then the payoff/failure is like this:
    Hanz - Success 50% of 900 Gold, Failure 50% of -100 Gold, 
      expected average yield of 400 Gold.
    Goshan - Success 50% of 750 Gold, Failure 50% of -200 Gold,
      expected average yield of 275 Gold.
    Kretor - Success 50% of 1000 Gold, Failure 50% of -50 Gold,
      expected average yield of 475 Gold.
    Morsa - Success 50% of 750 Gold, Failure 50% of -250 Gold,
      expected average yield of 250 Gold.
    Varia - Success 50% of 800 Gold, Failure 50% of -300 Gold,
      expected average yield of 250 Gold.
  So, in a typical half-tenday period, you will accumulate 400+
275+475+250+250 Gold or 1650 Gold.  But of course, you have to
subtract the quota from your yield.
  But, there's an interesting catch.  The Thief Stonghold is the only
one that yields gold on a 5-day basis.  Interestingly, Renal only
comes for the money every 7 days.  So in one week, you are actually
going to earn 1.4 times your average yield (since you have those
extra two days).  So, then your expected yield over a 7 day period 
would be 1650*1.4 - 600.  Which is an average yield of 1710 Gold
per 7 days.

  Compare this with the other money makers: the Fighter and Bard 
strongholds.  On the surface, the Bard's seems immensely profitable,
since, with an optimal performance, you begin earning 1800 Gold, then
100 less Gold with each successive week until it reaches a steady
500 Gold per week.  However, this is ignoring the fact that you have
to invest MUCH time and 10,000 Gold in the first place.  Meaning you
have to wait 7 entire weeks (1800 + 1700 + ... + 1200) until you can
recoup the gold you invested in the first place.  In the meantime,
the Thief Stronghold has been earning an average of 1710 Gold per
week, meaning the Bard Stronghold can never catch up since it only
continues to decrease in yield (1100, then 1000, etc.).  

  The Fighter Stronghold produces a consistent 500 Gold, but it's
true money-making abilities come in the fact that you can continuously
tax your people to get 1000 Gold instantly (it seems up to about 10
or so times).  The problem, though, is that they will eventually
revolt.  However, you can prevent this from happening by choosing
options, in your miniquests, that will make them happy.  Unfortunately,
this usually involves putting in money.  Especially when you have to
pay off the Blackmailers (which can potentially offset you 1000 Gold)
or repair the dikes (which, unless you want a revolt, will offset you
5000 Gold for the farms, then 2000 for the actual dikes).  Furthermore,
taxing your people is finite; after all the miniquests, you can't push
your people just to make them happy at a later date.  So in the end,
you have a much narrower profit margin than a Thief Stronghold
(while Bards get the shaft).

  In short, Thief Strongholds are awesomeness, especially when you 
consider how little relative work goes into obtaining them. 
 
  By the way, DSimpson has some excellent and more complete thieving
charts on his FAQ, but you needn't really need to know anymore than
what I've given you.
=======================================================================



=======================================================================
7.  Tactics                                                       [700]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
7a. Backstabbing Notes                                            [710]

  If you're going the Swashbuckler route, you'll probably want to skip
this entire part, since it won't apply to you.  Unless you want to use
the piddlingly weak Jan to backstab your enemies to doom.
  Backstabbing will actually become your most powerful weapon, 
regardless of whether you are an Assassin or not.  First, it is 
important to note that you actually DO have to be relatively behind
your enemy before a backstab registers (unlike pre-patch BGI).  
Second, you do get a +4 attack bonus for being invisible as you
attack.  Third, you will not unhide/uninvisify until you actually make
your attack or an entire round passes.  So if you made a mistake, you
still have time to run out of the enemy's view and re-hide.
  By the way, that sums up your strategy with backstabbing:  running
and rehiding.  If you really want to abuse it, you will probably want
to learn to love the F6 key, as this is the shortcut for Hide in
Shadows/Move Silently.  Now, you may first be discouraged because
enemies will run at the same rate as you, sometimes even faster.  That's
why you should learn to love your surrounding geography and your party.
  As long as the enemy isn't within your THIEF's visual range (an
important distinction), it is assumed that the enemy can't see your
thief, and thus the thief can Hide to his heart's content.
  That means your first best friend will be the surrounding geography.
Corners will become one of your best friends, as you can simply go a
bit past a corner so that the enemies are no longer in your visual 
range, then hide and backstab again.  Doorjambs also are great; there
is generally a sweetspot where you can stand beyond the door where
enemies can't see you from a certain angle.  Hide away.  
  Your party members and/or summons can also pitch in.  While your
thief is fading (retreating), your party members and/or summons can
move in to stop the enemy from advancing.  Simply keep moving your 
thief back until they are no longer "visible" according to thief.  You 
maystill be able to see the enemy, but this will be because of your 
other party members, who are closer.  It may be a bit difficult at 
first to  estimate when it's good to hide again; it's about equivalent
to the radius of a fireball that your thief can see.  Then, move back 
in, backstab the enemy, and fade again outside of the enemy range while
your party members keep them from following.
  
  At first, your thief is ideally suited for taking out enemy mages
and clerics.  This is because they tend to have lower HP and higher
ACs than the rest of the group.  Also because they have the 
tendency to cast True Sight when you're in range, and you won't have
Non-detection as early as you would like.
  Of course, I use "taking out" loosely, since you probably won't
be dealing that much damage.  At most, you do some initially damaging
action so that either a) the cleric is forced to waste the next few 
rounds healing or True Sighting or b) the mage is forced to waste
the next round doing True Sight and potentially waste an allied
cleric's round by having him heal the mage.
  Thieves are also good targets simply because they are terribly 
annoying (Bioware stocks most of them with invisibility potions, and
some have insanely high attacks per round so that they can backstab
you eagerly if you give them a chance).  Later on in the game, 
enemy thieves will actually be Detecting Illusions when a hidden you
is around (the earliest moment is in the Underdark when you're first
ambushed by a mixed enemy party after Adalon turns you into Drow).
This generally makes them higher priority if you don't have 
Non-detection or you had to down an Invisibility potion or use the
Invisibility effect of a ring or another item, since Non-detection
doesn't combine with those.
  Much later in the game, when you obtain quintuple backstabbing,
things become immensely wonderful for your thief (and things keep
getting better for the Assassin).  Combined with a decent weapon,
you can now effectively take out most mages in one good backstab,
and many creatures you can bring to badly injured or nearly dead
(if not outright killing them) with a good hit.
  When deciding between weapons, always give preference to one with
a higher enchantment and a lower speed factor.  Thus, you actually
would probably want to use a Cutthroat +4 or a Yamato +4 over the
Celestial Fury +3.  Why?  First, Cutthroat and Yamato both have
higher minimum damages, which is more important for a backstabber
than a high maximum damage.  Second, both have an additional +1
bonus to THAC0.  This is immensely useful, as you want every possible
modifier helping you to hit an enemy.  Third, in the case of the 
Yamato, it has a lower speed factor.  Meaning, with a Celestial Fury,
you will end up waiting for a bit before attacking.  This is precious
time that can be lost if the enemy turns around (foiling backstab) or
moves (making it harder for you to land a hit, since you now have to
follow the enemy around).  A lower speed factor means quicker 
hit-and-fades.

  Unfortunately, not all that is gold glitters (yeah I know it's the
other way around, but bear with me).  There are a few enemies that
can't be backstabbed.  Beholder-types and Golem-types all cannot be
backstabbed.  In addition, any enemy that can see through Hiding
(more on that later) cannot be backstabbed: Demons (not Imps and
Quasits, I mean like Pit Fiends and Cacofiends), Vampiric Mists,
and Demon Knights.  Kuo-Toas are an exception: while they can see
through your Hiding abilities, they CAN be backstabbed, although
this generally requires a diversion so that a Kuo-Toa is too busy 
attacking a party member or a summon to turn around.
  In Throne of Bhaal, the number of enemies that can't be backstabbed
increases a bit:  Flaming Skull, Fell Cat, Bone Fiend, and basically 
almost anything that looks incredibly demonish (eg Marilith, 
Demogorgon).
  Sometimes it may be also VERY difficult to determine the orientation
of a creature; you may wonder, "Am I behind or in front of him?"  This
generally becomes an issue when a creature is unconcious and lying
down.  In this case, simply attack from the direction of where their
head is (if they're humanoid):  this is their "back."

  One more note (elaborated more on the Items of Note section),
Boots of Speed will become your best friend.  When you have these,
you hardly have to worry about geography since you can just outrun
most enemies and hide when you've escaped their gaze.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
7b. Trapping Notes                                                [720]

  Ah, the finer art of trapping.  There are two types of trapping:
tactical and bombardment.
  Bombardment is basically the cheese of laying tons of traps (or 
five post-ToB) in front of a vicious enemy (Dragons, Liches, etc.)
then waiting for said enemy to go hostile.  Boom!  No more enemy.
This is perhaps the most commonly used method of trapping, and takes
the least advantage of traps.
  Tactical is what I shall be discussing, a much more active element
of trapping.  
  If you're not a Bounty Hunter, poor you, since they have such 
awesome trapping abilities they could rock the game and then some.

  Nevertheless, with conventional Traps, your best bet would be to use
them as fall-back devices.  Generally, you want them as support for
backstabbing or blitzing a mage towards the enemy to let off a spell 
and then pulling him back.  The enemy (angered by being stabbed or
fazed by a spell) will follow and run into the trap.  
  In combination with backstabbing, you'll find this terribly useful
since traps force enemies into a "damage" animation, where they stop
moving so that they can look hurt.  This buys you precious time to
leave their sight and Hide away, return and stab some more.
  In addition, level 11 Traps are useful anti-Golem devices, especially
in Firkraag's Dungeon or the Golem Sanctuary in the De'Arnise Hold.
Simply lay one down and lure a Golem (especially Adamantine ones) into 
it; the initial damage won't do too much, but the poison will lay waste.
  Furthermore, with mages, liches, and clerics, if you can preemptively
trap them, the poisoning effect will prevent them from spellcasting for
the next three rounds.

  Combined with the Bounty Hunter's Special Traps, trapping takes on
a wildly new dimension.  Generally, you can use the throwing capability
of his Special Traps as a "bait" of sorts to get enemies to walk towards
your Bounty Hunter in a group.  Hopefully you've laid a conventional 
Trap for them to wander straight into.
  When the Bounty Hunter reaches level 16, the two uses sort of become
distinct.  Generally you can use conventional Traps with conventional 
tactics, and the tactical use of his Special Trap is distinct from 
that.
  However, when he reaches level 21, they both merge in a beautiful 
way. The Mazing Traps can clear the enemies out of an area long enough
for the Bounty Hunter to lay a few traps in anticipation of the enemy's 
return. Here alot of tactics come into play.  First, you can either lay 
down a whole lot in one chunk (bombardment, effectively), but this is 
only really effective if you've Mazed one or two really tough enemies. 
Second, you can lay down one trap and hide, so that you damage the 
enemies and are primed for backstabbing, or for fading away and tossing 
another Maze Trap.  Third, if you remember where the enemies were 
before you Mazed them all (generally by advance scouting), you can 
systematically place conventional Traps in certain areas so that you 
can anticipate how enemies will return and maximize damage.  For
example, say in a large room, there are two mages to the left, a thief
to the center, and two Orcs to the right.  You might place a Trap in 
the far left, one slightly off center to the right, and one or two in 
the upper or lower right corners of the room.  Why?  The mages are 
generally going to be the first to return, possibly at the same time, 
so they will both be getting the trap to the left, and hopefully 
you've hidden in the meanwhile so that you can knock them out quickly.
When the thief returns (since he probably has moderate intelligence),
he gets the one slightly off center (and hopefully this one was out of
range of the mages, so it didn't activate with their return).  When
the Orcs (being dumb, they are probably last) return, they get the 
furthest right Traps, which hopefully weren't activated by the thief.
Even if you were completely wrong with your estimations of when they'll
return, hopefully the traps will beplaced such that even if by 
statistical chance the Orcs return first and Mages last, there will 
still be a trap left unused to deal with the Mages.
  A good tactic you can use: if a battle is pretty tough, run your
Bounty Hunter out of every enemy's range, then toss a Special Trap.
If you aim it right, you can Maze a vast majority of the enemies and
greatly simplify your life.  This is useful for battles you can't
prepare for (like when being ambushed).

  When you get the higher end Traps, possibilites explode.  For a 
non-Bounty Hunter, this slightly expands tactical possibilites since
an Exploding Trap or a Time Trap goes far in Tactics, and a Spike Trap
makes Trap-baiting (and yes, bombardment) more effective.
  For Bounty Hunters, this becomes a field day, as their Maze Traps can
now be supported by a myriad of ways.  Whereas a Bounty Hunter might
find need of conventional Traps (since Mazing doesn't need to be done
nearly as often as normal trapping), Exploding, Time, and Spike Traps
wipe away the need.  Exploding ones are a sort of cross between
conventional Traps and Maze traps, best if you expect multiple enemies
to return at once, since you can knock them out of your sight and set
another or simply Hide.  Time ones can buy you time when enemies
appear to Assassinate or backstab to your heart's content, especially
with mages, before they have a chance to reestablish their defenses.
Spikes make excellent gifts for returning Golems and super-warriors.
  With a Bounty Hunter, ordinarily tough battles like the Final 
Guardians in Watcher's Keep, can become greatly simplified with a few
well-thrown Maze-effect Special Traps.

  Final note:  if you are out of sight of enemies, set a Trap that
activates and hits enemies (generally by means of throwing a Special
Trap) and damages them, you can avoid them coming after you by 
immediately Hiding.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
7c. Hiding Notes                                                  [730]

  Hiding will often be a life-saver for a thief, even for the
unconventional Swashbuckler.  Moreso than just because you can pass by
enemies simply waiting there, but also because you can completely
avoid spells and consequently empty out enemy spellcasters' memories.
How?  Let's say your hiding "accidentally" wore off in the middle of
a spellcasting group (hopefully you have Boots of Speed or are hasted
in some way).  Then all those casters begin casting spells at you.
That's when you run out of their sight and Hide again.  Suddenly,
all their spells have no targets, so they dissipate harmlessly.
(Doesn't work if they finish casting and a projectile is on your way,
although you do have enhanced Saves for being invisible.)  This is
great for messing with a Lich, if you have the running room, since 
you can get them to waste their most powerful spells (doesn't work
for Time Stop or Wail of the Banshee for an obvious reason: doesn't
directly target your thief).

  However, there are a few important notes, generally in tandem with
backstabbing, that you probably want to know.  There are some enemies
that can actually "see" through all sorts of Hiding, whether
(Improved) Invisibility or even a Non-detection Hiding.  This means
that while True Sight might not reveal you, or Detect Illusions fail
to dispel your hidden quality, these enemies will still know where you
are and attack you appropriately.  Generally, these enemies make sense
to have these abilities, since they are generally very much not of
the material plane and probably can percieve whatever plane you phase
slightly into when becoming invisible (or are just really perceptive
in seeing your hiding spots).
  Demons (not Imps or Quasits, but the big ones), Vampiric Mists
(interestingly, ONLY these types of Mists; all other Mists can't see
you if you're hidden in any way), Demon Knights (there are only three
instances you meet them; the Cambion in Irenicus's dungeon, the 
Cambion in the Planar Prison of the Bard Stronghold quest, and the
ones you summon in the Kuo-Toa area in the Underdark), and, 
interestingly, lowly Kuo-Toas.  So this means that Demons will
gleefully Paralyze you, Demon Knights will happily dismember you,
and Kuo-Toas will... uh... miss while attacking you, all while you may
be thinking you can get into position for a backstab.  Generally,
these creatures can't be backstabbed as well, but in the case of 
Kuo-Toas, it's possible, but you have to distract them so they don't
keep turning around.
  Vampires, while they can't see, will act on their AI script as if
you were visible but just couldn't touch you (like Protection from
Undead).  Meaning, normally they just stand their waiting for
arrival of prey, but instead they wander around aimlessly and 
randomly.  This can make trapping and backstabbing VERY tricky as
they are quick and very random in their movements.  Plus, they might
accidentally head to your party members who are waiting a bit back
from where you came.
  However, if you're playing into ToB, the number of enemies that
can see through your Hiding grows massively.  Here's a somewhat
comprehensive listing:  Skeleton Mage, Skeleton Cleric, Fire Troll,
Flaming Skull, Fell Cat, Bone Fiend, Ogremach, any Elemental Prince,
Hive Mother, the really powerful Mists (like Demon Mist), and that
chicken at the beginning of the Marching Mountains that casts spells
at you.  In addition, powered-up, unique versions of normal creatures
may be able to see through your hiding.  For example, some of the
Final Guardians in Watcher's Keep are variants of Drow or Nymphs, but
they can still see through your hiding.  In general, if they look 
tough and have a specific name, they may be able to see through your
invisibility.  Note that quite a bit of these you can still backstab
(like the Elemental Princes or the Final Guardians), you just need to 
now distract them in some way (or use a Time Trap...).

  Also, in ToB, the game seems intent on preventing you from 
preemptively Hiding (I guess to prevent backstabbing the main enemy
into death in the first round or two of combat).  In SoA, you could
generally have another party member initiate dialogue while your
main character (or other thief) Hides, then wait for combat to
begin.  Many times in ToB, no matter who talks to initiate the
scripted sequence to battle, the game generally resets modal
abilites (toggle-able abilities, of which Hide in Shadows is one).
This means that even Hiding beforehand won't allow you to surprise
the enemy as you intended.  But fortunately...
  
  You'll find plenty of Rings of Invisibility (called the Sandthief
Rings, but more often slanged by gamers as Sandman rings).  These
are once-a-day items that, while taking a few seconds to activate,
work just as well as Potions of Invisibility (with the same caveat
that Non-detection has no effect).  Furthermore, Ring of Gaxx has its
own Sandthief ability built in, so you can afford to upgrade without
fear of losing backstab potential.
  It seems in SoA that Potions of Invisibility are in very limited
supply.  Very few people sell them, and most enemies will use them
before you can kill them.  However, three notable enemies you want to
make a point of killing quickly: the Rune Assassins in the Bridge 
District Tanner quest carry quite a bit of invisibility potions. 
If you can somehow kill them quickly, you can reap the benefits.
In the Guarded Compound of the Temple District (where you get the
Celestial Fury), on the second floor, there is a thief in the battle
(starts off right to your right when you appear).  If you can kill her
quickly, you get 10 Potions of Invisilibility.  Finally, in Delosar's
Inn (Bridge District), one of the people you CAN fight (the angry 
adventuring group) is a thief.  Kill him quickly and you can get some
invisibility potions.
  In ToB, the potions are a dime a dozen.  Not only do most 
storekeepers carry about five (sometimes more), but you'll frequently 
encounter thief-type enemies that by now, you can dispatch quickly;
these thieves will have leftover invisibility potions.
=======================================================================



=======================================================================
8.  Items of Note                                                 [800]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
  OK, this is basically where I describe pretty significant items in
a thief's life.  I'll name them, where can get them, for whom they're
appropriate (Assassins have different priorities than Swashbucklers),
and why they're significant.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
8a. Weapons                                                       [810]

  Belm, Scimitar +2
    Where: The first you'll find in an abandoned tower in the Druid
Grove, next to where you get the head of the Rakshasa the Djinnis in
Trademeet are after.
    Whom:  Good for all, although Assassins and backstabbing Bounty
Hunters in particular will probably use this quite a bit longer than
Swashbucklers.
    Why:   For all involved, this gives you an extra attack.  This 
means extra killing power for Swashbucklers.  But more importantly for
Assassins and Bounty Hunters, it has a speed factor of 0, and will
probably be the first one you can obtain.  Also, for the non-fighting
thief variants, the extra attack provides some much needed muscle to
allow the thief to be a bit independent of fighter/cleric support.
Plus, if you want to keep it for that long, the two attacks mesh well
with Assassinate (since it applies backstab to EACH attack in one
round).

  Celestial Fury, Katana +3
    Where: Second floor of the Guarded Compound in the Temple 
District, off of one of the corpses you'll create after a battle.
    Whom:  Good for all, especially for Swashbucklers, less so for
backstabbers, almost not at all for Thief/Mages.
    Why:   It's Celestial Fury, probably THE most famous weapon in 
BGII: SoA.  Fighter types will love the two awesome effects of the
weapon - a possibility to stun, and maybe 10 more damage.  Plus, you
can activate two spell-like abilities and mess with the enemy. 
Backstabbers will probably use it through the Underdark when Belm 
becomes a bit useless and until Cutthroat +4.  In fact, Backstabbers
may not even want it once they can do enough damage to not need Belm's
extra attack - they can just opt for Short Sword of Backstabbing, 
since it may not be worth a proficiency point just for this weapon.

  Short Sword of Backstabbing +3
    Where: As a reward after completing the Thief Stronghold quest.
    Whom:  Mainly backstabbers, although figher-type will see some
use of it.
    Why:   0 speed factor, +3 enhancement.  Mainly useful when a 
backstabber doesn't need the extra attack Belm offers to survive.

  Cutthroat, Short Sword +4
    Where: In Bodhi's coffin in Chapter 6.
    Whom:  Probably backstabbers; fighter-types will probably want
to supplement their Celestial Fury with a more vicious weapon (like
Equalizer or Blackrazor).
    Why:   While it has 1 speed factor, it has a +4 enhancement.  For
backstabbers, the +4 enhancement is more important than Celestial
Fury's other abilities, since it means a greater chance to hit, more
minimum damage (so you don't do piddling backstab damage), and it also
means you can hurt Kangaxx and backstab Mages who've cast Improved
Mantle (which tends to become annoyingly frequent at this point in
the game).  For BGII: SoA, this is the best weapon backstabbers can
own.

  Yamato, Scimitar +4 - BGII: ToB only
    Where: Tavern owner in The City Under Siege(tm) of BGII: ToB
    Whom:  Anyone will enjoy this, but especially backstabbers.
    why:   Like Cutthroat, except 0 speed factor, +1 AC bonus, and
d8 instead of d6 damage.  This is almost a backstabber's wet dream.
Swashbucklers and fighter types may find better swords/weapons soon.

  Short Sword of Mask +4/+5 - BGII: ToB only
    Where: One of the people selling items at the beginning of 
Watcher's Keep.  You can find the Heart of the Damned (to upgrade it
to +5 level) in Sendai's Lair.
    Whom:  There are plenty better weapons for fighter types, but
for backstabbers, this is a glorious weapon.
    Why:   At the +4 level, you may not want to opt for it, since
it doesn't have the AC bonus of Yamato, but it does have a 15% chance
to entangle the target.  At the +5 level, this is a great hit-and-fade
weapon, since not only is it a +5 enhancement (mega backstab damage!)
but also, entangling the enemy prevents them from following (making
it easier to run and hide).  The level drain is a neat additional 
effect that'll make it harder for them to hurt others, and it's useful
against enemy mages and clerics since it'll wipe out their more 
powerful spells.

  Dagger of the Star +4/+5 - BGII: ToB only
    Where: The +4 version you can find off the Demi-Lich in Watcher's
Keep.  You can upgrade it to +5 with five Star Sapphires and 
Cespenar's good work.
    Whom:  Mainly backstabbers.
    Why:   Despite its lower damage, this may actually trump the Short
Sword of Mask.  Why?  Well, it only deals 1 less average damage (which
means a difference of 5 for 5x backstab, 7 for 7x) and makes up for it
with lots of goodie abilities, although ONLY after you've upgraded it.
Then, the 15% chance of invisibility is a HUGE boon, maybe better than
15% chance to entangle, since it means you can potentially backstab
immediately, with possible minor movement so that you're behind
the enemy again.  In addition, it can potentially deal 2d8 damage of 
various elements (1d8 fire, 1d8 electrical) but only 5% of the time.  
When you factor this into the average damage, then it is only .55 
behind the Sword of Mask (although this extra damage isn't amplified by
backstab).  Still, that extra 1 damage can be very valuable and mean
the difference between an insta-kill or a "Badly Injured" hit.  
Furthermore, Entangling has the side effect bonus of making it very 
hard for melee creatures to harm the rest of your party.  Plus, level 
draining activates much more often (three times more often) than the 
elemental damage, and is potentially more beneficial an effect for your
party, since it reduces severity of spell casters and fighters alike.
Also, mages with Stoneskin can still be level-drained to the point of
uselessness, so it's really a coinflip for backstabbers.  For fighter
types, though, many better-suited swords exist.

  Angurvadal, Long Sword +4/+5 - BGII: ToB only
    Where: You can find Angurvadal +4 off one the Gith Captain on the
floor of Watcher's Keep with the machine by Lum the Mad.  You can find
the Liquid Mercury to upgrade it in Sendai's Lair.
    Whom:  Backstabbers and fighter-types.
    Why:   Backstabbers are actually better off with a Belt of Fire
Giant Strength and a Short Sword of Mask +5, since then you still have
the bonus of Entangling or Level draining; you only lose about 5 
backstab damage from Angurvadal +5.  Still, this is one of the VERY few
non-Short Sword or non-Dagger weapons that have 0 Speed Factor.  For
Fighter-types, this is a very good weapon to have, since it also prevents
that annoying Level Drain from happening to you (Backstabbers, ideally,
can avoid this from happening).

  Spectral Brand, Scimitar +4/+5 - BGII: ToB only
    Where: Within the Watcher's Keep, the imp who likes to gamble has
it.  You can upgrade it with the Skull of the Lich found in the Lich's 
room in Sendai's Lair.
    Whom:  Anyone can enjoy it, but potential solo-ers high priority.
    why:   A speed factor of 1, which is somewhat passable for
backstabbers, but the real attraction is having a mini-Mordenkainen's
Sword effect; that is, an independent sword that'll act for 4 rounds.
For mage-types, this means that you have an independent sword that can
keep baddies busy while you fling spells around.  For fighter-types,
this means an extra hand while fighting tough enemies (especially
when trying to disrupt enemy mages or eat through their Stoneskins).
For backstabbers (and particularly potential solo-ers), this means
an extra hand in keeping the enemy busy while you retreat to backstab
again.  Thanks to Superdroideka for pointing it out.

  Tuigan Short Bow +1
    Where: In the Copper Coronet, during the quest to either free the
Hendak and the slaves (in the back room near the arena) or punish them,
you can fight a Beastmaster (on the right side of the arena).  You can
salvage this bow off his body.
    whom:  A supplementary weapon for backstabbers, especially for 
Assassins.
    Why:   The advantage that this has over the Short Bow of Gesen +4
(see below) is that the Tuigan Short Bow fires three shots a round.  
It's also technically available as soon as you leave Irenicus's dungeon
since you are forced to go to the slums anyway.  More importantly for
Assassins, their poison affects all attacks in the following 24
seconds, which translates into 12 attacks with a Tuigan (versus 8 with
a normal bow, 4 with a normal crossbow or melee weapon), each poisoning
the enemy.  Very effective way to make sure every single enemy on screen
is suffering under the continual HP drain of poison.  The Tuigan, by the
way, is also good for spell disruption, thanks to its massive rate of 
fire.

  Short Bow of Gesen +4
    Where: You find the shaft in a crate during the Tanner Quest in the
Bridge District.  You find the bow strings in the asylum (the part 
where you have to find Mithril Tokens).
    Whom:  A supplementary weapon for backstabbers and a main one for
magically inclined thieves.
    Why:   For thief/mages, this is a good main weapon since it has a 
massive enchantment, grants +20% electrical resistance (for those damn
lightning bolts), and has very powerful arrows (essentially +2 arrows
that do lightning damage).  For backstabbers, this is a good weapon
when backstabbing can't work too well, such as against swarms of 
Kuo-Toas or creatures that are annoyingly hard to get away from or when
Sandman rings are exhausted.

  Staff of the Magi +1, counts as +5
    Where: Off the body of one of the super-mages in the area you can
only access with a Rouge Stone in the Bridge District.
    Whom:  A great supplementary weapon for very interesting backstab
possibilities.  Only the mage variety of thieves need apply.
    why:   You'll never ever need to worry about having to Hide ever
again.  why?  If you ever become visible, simply tap the weapon in the
weapon quickslot and you'll immediately go invisible again, with no
delay, unlike using a Potion of Invisibility or a Sandthief Ring.
This means you can immediately hide after a backstab and get into
position for a second backstab.  Plus, you get a whole slew of extra
abilities along with it (like Dispelling).  NOTE:  YOU MUST BE A
MAGE/THIEF OR HAVE "USE ANY ITEM" BEFORE YOU CAN USE THIS AT ALL, MUCH
LESS IN AN EFFECTIVE WAY.  Special thanks to Skidi Wili for pointing
this weapon out.

  Staff of the Ram +4/+6 - BGII: ToB only
    Where: You have to kill the red dragon Saladrex in Watcher's Keep.
    Whom:  A great supplementary weapon for interesting backstab
possibilities.
    Why:   One special thing about these staves is that they have a 
massive bonus to damage.  Specifically, 1d6+10 for +4 level, and
1d6+12 +1d4 piercing for +6 level.  The base damage (not the extra
piercing damage for +6 level) gets multiplied by the backstab
multiplier!  That means even for just a +4, you can get an average
of about 65 damage per strike!  This final damage doesn't even
include potential strength bonuses from say a Girdle of Fire Giant
Strength or damage bonuses from two-handed weapon specialization.
NOTE:  YOU MUST BE ATLEAST A CLERIC/THIEF OR HAVE "USE ANY ITEM" BEFORE
YOU CAN USE THIS IN ANY EFFECTIVE WAY.  Special thanks to Skidi Wili 
for pointing this weapon out.

  Staff of Striking
     Where: You can buy it from several locations, the quickest one 
being the Temple of Lathander.
     Whom:  A great supplementary weapon for super backstabbing.
     Why:   If you don't have Throne of Bhaal or haven't gotten to it
yet, this will hold you over pretty well.  While because it lacks 
significant magical enhancement (no THAC0 modifiers, no way to hit
Kangaxx, etc.) you won't be as effective a backstabber, it's sheer
raw damage is amazing:  1d6+9.  Unfortunately, it uses charges per
strike, although you can recharge the staff by selling it to a store
and then repurchasing it (and unlike most other chargeable items, it
doesn't become ridiculously expensive to buy back).  It has a max
capacity of 25 charges, but will have 5 when initially purchased. 
Special thanks to John B. Sprague for pointing this weapon out.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
8b. Armor                                                         [820]

  Mask of King Strohm (Helmet)
    Where: Inside the massive dungeon at Windspear Hills, you'll need
to assemble this in order to make a creature called the Guardian
visible.  Each part is guarded by a different djinni.
    Whom:  Any non-fighter or non-cleric variant.
    Why:   This, while operating exactly like a helmet in preventing
critical hits, is actually equippable by all classes, meaning the poor,
sub-armored thief can get some defense against the critical hits of
enemies, which can generally be devastating to the thief's low hit
points.  However, once you get Use Any Item (in Throne of Bhaal), this
item become completely obsolete since the thief can then equip any 
one of the amazing helms at will.  Special thanks to Gegengheist for
reminding me about this.

  Buckler +1 (Buckler)
    Where: In Mae'Var's guild, on the second floor, you'll see a myriad
of doors and safes, each progressively harder for a thief to crack
open (and the safes are progressively more intensely trapped).  In the
last safe, you'll find the rare, unique, magic buckler.
    Whom:  Anyone who goes the Sword and Shield route, probably more
magical variants of thieves.
    Why:   This is the only magical shield a thief'll be able to use.
It gives you an additional -1 AC (not against missile weapons, though)
over simply using Single Weapon Proficiency, and at the cost of not
being able to critically hit more often, you can get Sword and Shield
proficiency and get an additional -2 AC against missile weapons (which
does end up sort of negating the downside of a buckler).  So, for a
thief who might not need to worry about extra critical hits 
(thief/mages) or one who worries more about avoiding arrows for 
survival than hitting for damage (backstabbers), this might be an 
important pick up.  Special thanks to Gegengheist for finding this
singular buckler.

  The Night's Gift +5 (Leather Armor)
    Where: Reward for completing the Umar Quest (talk to the Mayor).
    Whom:  Really for anyone; particularly of benefit to backstabbers.
Magical types won't need this.
    why:   3 AC, but also +20% to Stealth.  Even if you're not using
stealth at all (Swashbucklers, Fighter types), the AC is pretty good
for a thief and for this point in the game.  But if you've already
gotten this, then you should probably have...

  Shadow Dragon Scales (Leather Armor)
    Where: Get the scales for killing the Black Dragon in the Temple
Ruins of the Umar Hills Quest, have Cromwell make it.
    Whom:  Anyone except magical types.
    Why:   1 AC (the lowest thief armor in SoA), +50% resist Acid.
The Acid isn't important, since that type of damage is rare (in the
form of either certain Dragon Breath or Melf's Acid Arrow).  The 1 AC
is VERY enjoyable for all types of thieves, save for the mage variety.

  Bladesinger Chain +4 / Aslyerfund Elven Chain +5
      - Aslyerfund Elven Chain +5 is BGII: ToB only
    Where: You get the Bladesinger quite late in SoA, in Suldanessellar
to be exact.  You can upgrade it quite quickly, though, as the magic
store in the City Under Siege(tm) sells Protection from Normal Weapons
and you probably already have 40,000 Gold on hand.
    Whom:  Magical types and fighter types mainly, but backstabbers
probably not
    Why:   Low AC (1, then 0) is very good for Thief/Mages, plus it
also grants immunity to normal weapons (a somewhat good plus for 
magical types to avoid damage) once upgraded.  The reason why 
backstabbers may not want it is because there is another piece of armor
that, while not as low in AC, has another very good benefit.

  Grandmaster's Armor +6 (Leather Armor) - BGII: ToB only
    Where: Off the corpse of Gromnir Il-Khan.
    Whom:  Mainly backstabbers.  Fighter types who haven't upgraded
their Bladesinger, maybe.
    Why:   Also a 1 AC, but it's main reason why it surpasses Shadow
or White Dragon Scales and Aslyerfund for backstabbers is that it acts
like a Boots of Speed.  Meaning, for backstabbers, they can replace the
Boots of Speed with Boots of Avoidance or Boots of Stealth/Elvenkind or 
something like that.  Plus, being leather armor, it has less Stealth-
related penalties than Elven Chainmail.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
8c. Accessories                                                   [830]

  Cloak of Non-detection
    Where: Off the wizard (who's familiar is Pooky) in the aggressive
party you CAN fight on the second floor of the Den of the Seven Vales.
    Whom:  Backstabbers and maybe trappers/magical types who appreciate
the need to Hide.
    Why:   This becomes THE most important item, since this will let
you laugh in the face of True Sight, Detect Illusions, and the like.
Note that this will not apply when using spell-based Invisibility, only
when you Hide in Shadows. NOTE - Thanks to Edward for pointing out
that this *will* work with the Staff of the Magi. Merry backstabbing!

  Ring of Invisibility
    Where: Multiple places, earliest is off the thief in the aggressive
party you CAN fight on the second floor of the Den of the Seven Vales.
    Whom:  Mainly backstabbers and probably trappers.
    Why:   When you're too enclosed to run and Hide, you want to
activate this.  Very useful since you will occasionally find yourself
surrounded, nearly dead, or in some awkward social situation (you wish).

  Ring of Gaxx
    Where: Off Kangaxx the Demi-Lich.
    Whom:  EVERYONE!!!  But especially backstabbers.
    Why:   Everyone loves it.  But backstabbers can especially abuse
the invisibility function while still recieving the myriad of other
effects.

  Boots of Speed
    Where: Multiple places (enough to supply your entire party with
them by the time you get out of the City Under Siege(tm) in ToB).
Earliest is off a thief in the Planar Prison of the Bard's Stronghold
quest.  Also, when buying something with Mithril Tokens, only spend 15;
you'll get Boots of Speed which is better than the armor you get for
20.
    Whom:  EVERYONE!!!  But especially backstabbers and trappers.
    Why:   Backstabbers can abuse it for hit and fade attacks,
and trappers can use it to better bait and lure enemies.

  Bracers of Weapon Skill/Expertise
    Where: Skill you find in the Bard Stronghold quest, Expertise
you find in Chapter 6 when clearing out Bodhi's lair (it's in the 
room of spikes).
    Whom:  Magical types need not apply.
    why:   For Backstabbers, Expertise means +2 damage multiplied by
backstab modifier.  For fighter types, it just means goodness.

  Belt of Inertial Barrier
    Where: One of the merchants in Trademeet after you've become 
their Hero (so if you do the evil way, you can't get this).
    Whom:  Backstabbers, trappers, and magical types
    Why:   Magical types and trappers will generally find themselves
fighting from a distance, so missile weapons will be your main plague.
So, getting 25% damage resistant to missile weapons, and 50% to
magical missiles will save your skin quite a bit.  For backstabbers,
one of the most annoying things is that when you're trying to fade
away from a backstab, missile weapons will pepper you.  This will
go far in saving your butt.  

  Boots of Avoidance
    Where: On one of the goons in the Buried Alive quest (where you
have to hunt down a guy dressed completely in red).  Note that the
goons will never turn hostile until you actually attack them, 
otherwise they'll just run away and off the area.
    Whom:  Backstabbers, trappers, and magical types
    Why:   Generally, only backstabbers and trappers can afford to
use this, after they've made their Boots of Speed obsolete with the
Grandmaster's Armor.  For similar reasons as the Belt of Inertial
Barrier, the +5 AC bonus vs missile weapons will go far in making
missile weapons harmless.  Very useful for backstabbers, since even
with the belt, the damage incurred while fading away will cause them
to stop and do their "pain" animation, which will make it harder to
run away from enemies.

  Girdle of Fire Giant Strength - BGII: ToB only
    Where: In the Marching Mountains temple.
    Whom:  Backstabbers and fighter-types (may include Trappers)
    Why:   This will make Backstabbers have huge amounts of power,
since 22 Strength means a nice +4 bonus to THAC0 and a solid +10 bonus
to damage (but this isn't applied until after backstab modifiers have
kicked in).  For fighters, well, it's always nice to have super-duper
damage.  Note that this will make Angurvadal +5 obsolete, or vice 
versa (both give 22 Strength).

  Gauntlets of Extraordinary Specialization - BGII: ToB only
    Where: Off one of the Final Guardians in Watcher's Keep.
    Whom:  Fighter-types or anyone with a decent THAC0 and
Assassination.
    Why:   Fighter-types obviously benefit from the extra 1/2 attack
bonus over Gauntlets of Weapon Expertise, but anyone with Assassination
also gets a huge plus since that extra 1/2 attack gets modified by
backstab modifiers as well.  NOTE: YOU MUST HAVE EITHER BE PART FIGHTER
(like a Fighter/Thief) OR HAVE "USE ANY ITEM" TO USE THESE GAUNTLETS.
    
=======================================================================



=======================================================================
9.  The Solo Challenge                                            [900]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
  NOTE:  It's been a while, and it looks like I'll never do this.
Fortunately, someone else has beaten me to it at gamefaqs, so you
should check out their work instead!

  Once upon a time, there existed a game called Final Fantasy Tactics.
It was a tactical game with a wonderful and delightful battle system.
It was just too easy, though.  So, a group of dedicated GameFAQs 
forumers decided to create for themselves various challenges to make
the game difficult and extend its lifetime, and thus was spawned two
big challenges:  the Straight Character Challenge (whereby every member
of your attack force had to be the same class) and the Solo Straight
Character Challenge (whereby you could only use the protagonist).

  Now, the entirety of BG2 (including ToB) is by no means an easy game.
And the only successful solo venture of which I was aware was the mage
Elmonster (you can find his journal at www.BaldurDash.org, which also
has numerous fixpacks which are a must download for anyone who loves
the Baldur's Gate game).  I had only heard brief mention of a Paladin
solo, but seen no actual reports.  Now, after FFT's SSCC (as the latter
challenge is known), I began to wonder what other classes could 
successfully solo BG2?

  Naturally, the thief came up to mind.  But the thief lacks a lot of
things the mage has that allowed him to solo the entirety the game.
Most of the thief's power is conditional; it relies on backstabbing
and traps, not on the brute force power of a Horrid Wilting cast
in the midst of a swarm of Drow.  In fact, I would venture to say that
Throne of Bhaal is all but impossible for the thief thanks to the
final battle (whereby the final enemy can see through your hiding and,
with no one else to divert her attention, impossible to backstab, in
addition to being immune to the Time Trap and the Bounty Hunter's
Maze Trap).

  But nevertheless, I propose trying to solo at the very least 
the length of Shadows of Amn with a single thief.  I expect to 
undertake this challenge myself, but I will only be using the Bounty
Hunter.  I'd like to encourage anyone daring enough to try other
variants (the Thief/Mage should be relatively easy, the Kensai/Thief
could be interesting, and the Assassin seems suicidally difficult).

  I don't know how long it'll take, but I'll eventually put up a
small adventure walkthrough of sorts should my Bounty Hunter quest
prove successful.

  But for starters, here's how I plan on doing it:

  -Getting a Cloak of Non-detection ASAP.
  -Getting potions/rings of invisibility ASAP.
  -Minimal sidequest action for the essential treasures (thief
stronghold); should hit a high EXP since I'm not splitting anyway.
  -Throughout the main storyline abuse Hide in Shadow and 
Sphere/Maze Traps not for tactical purposes, but to avoid as much
combat as possible.  Limit fights to significant ones and relatively
easy ones that will boost my experience level.
  -Lots and lots of rest to refresh traps.
  -And since I'm principled and high-minded - avoid any sort of
bombardment tactic with traps; this essentially means that all
dragons are now impossible to defeat.

  Some battles will be particularly difficult, and I'm already thinking
about how I would go successfully pulling them off; most of these are
battles that will probably occur before I have Maze Traps or Sphere
Traps.  Probably a huge reliance on Potions of Speed (for additional 
speed in fading away after a backstab) and the various Strength potions
(for extra damage).  But off the top of my head:

  -The battle to get a Cloak of Non-detection.
  -The final battle of the Thief's Stronghold.
  -The Bodhi battle 1 (no allies to help me there)
  -Final Irenicus battle (don't even know if the Slayer form is 
backstabbable; definitely is Maze-able, though).
=======================================================================



=======================================================================
10. Miscellany                                                    [A00]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
  The following are tables that will basically judge the relative 
strength of varying thief variants.  Atypical of such tables, I won't
list them on a per-level basis, but rather on an experience basis.
For benchmark, I'll use the individual experience levels necessary to
obtain each level of a normal thief, and compare them to what other
thief variants have at those experience levels.  Note that for my
multi-class variants, I'm assuming a pure multiclass.  Your mileage
will vary if you dual-class, since you can dual-class whenever you
feel like it.  Just know that after you dual-class, your secondary
class bestows no HP/THAC0 benefit until you exceed your primary 
class's level, at which point you gain HP/THAC0 at the rate of your
secondary class.  Use this knowledge to your advantage.

  Note that for space-saving purposes, I'll use scientific notation
when necessary to denote experience points.  If you're unfamiliar, 
something like 1.54e6 translates to 1.54 * 10^6 or 1 540 000 experience
points.

  Abbreviations in use:  Exp = experience, T = Thief, F = Fighter,
M = Mage, C = Cleric, AND * = Any Class.

  I start with 89 000 experience points even though the experience
level that translates to for a thief is 8, which is 70 000 experience,
because since EVERYONE begins out with 89 000, that translates to
different power levels for all variants.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
10a.THAC0 Tables                                                  [A10]

  NOTE:  This table itself only shows up to the Shadows of Amn
experience cap, see below for Throne of Bhaal information.

  Exp     :   T :   F/T :   M/T :   C/T :   F/*/T

  89 000  :  17 :    14 :    16 :    18 :      15
  110 000 :  16 :    14 :    16 :    16 :      14
  160 000 :  16 :    13 :    17 :    16 :      14
  220 000 :  15 :    13 :    16 :    16 :      13
  440 000 :  15 :    12 :    15 :    16 :      12
  660 000 :  14 :    11 :    15 :    16 :      12
  880 000 :  14 :    11 :    15 :    16 :      11
  1.10e6  :  13 :    10 :    15 :    14 :      11
  1.32e6  :  13 :    10 :    14 :    14 :      11
  1.54e6  :  12 :     9 :    14 :    14 :      10
  1.76e6  :  12 :     9 :    14 :    14 :      10
  1.98e6  :  11 :     9 :    14 :    14 :      10
  2.20e6  : *11 :     8 :    13 :    14 :      10
  2.42e6  :  11 :     8 :    13 :    12 :       9
  2.64e6  :  11 :     7 :    13 :    12 :       9
  2.86e6  :  11 :     7 :    13 :    12 :       9
                      a       b       c         d

  * This is the best that this variant can obtain; no further natural
improvement is possible.

  (a) Maxes out at 0 THAC0 at 6.00e6 experience

  (b) Maxes out at 11 THAC0 at 4.40e6 experience

  (c) Maxes out at 8 THAC0 at 4.45e6 experience

  (d) Maxes out at 2 THAC0 at 8.00e6 experience (max Throne of Bhaal
cap); good luck getting that high without going mad from boredom.

  At first blush, it may seem like the Thief and the Mage/Thief
variants do the worst in terms of THAC0, but for all but the
Fighter/Thief, it may take a *very* long amount of exp-grinding in
Throne of Bhaal to do better than the straight out Thief.  

  Note that you could probably do better with some dual-classing.
Goin up to level 20 fighter and then dual-classing into a thief may
cripple you severely for a while, but you'll get 0 THAC0 and all your
thieving abilities online at 5.20e6 experience, instead of 6.00e6
experience for a multi-class Fighter/Thief.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
10b.Backstab Growth                                               [A20]

  Exp     :     T :   */T : */*/T

  89 000  :    x3 :    X3 :    X3
  110 000 :    x4 :    X3 :    X3
  160 000 :    x4 :    X3 :    X3
  220 000 :    x4 :    X4 :    X3
  440 000 :    x4 :    X4 :    x4
  660 000 :    x5 :    X4 :    x4
  880 000 :    x5 :    X4 :    x4
  1.10e6  :    x5 :    X4 :    x4
  1.32e6  :    x5 :   *X5 :    x4
  1.54e6  : *x5/6 :    X5 :    x4
  1.76e6  :  x5/6 :    X5 :    x4
  1.98e6  :  x5/6 :    X5 :   *x5
  2.20e6  :  x5/6 :    X5 :    x5
  2.42e6  : x5/*7 :    X5 :    x5
  2.64e6  :  x5/7 :    X5 :    x5
  2.86e6  :  x5/7 :    X5 :    x5

  In conclusion, all thief variants will eventually be able to max out
their backstab within Shadows of Amn, although the plain thief, as
expected, as a huge early-growth advantage.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
10c.Saving Throw Tables                                           [A30]

  I really hate guides that have a section "under construction."  Quite
hypocritically, this section is under construction.  I was about to
type it up until I realized I have no idea how saving throws develop
in a multi-class environment.  Sometime by summer of 2005, this
section should have some meat, and the only reason why I have this
section now is so that you, the reader, knows that I care about you
and like teasing you with information to come.

  2009 Update:  I officially have no idea how these work.  I thought
it worked like THAC0, where the best class gets the benefits, but
that's not correct.  So, if anyone has info here, give me a holler.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
10d.HP Growth Tables                                              [A40]

  SPECIAL NOTE:  I am in the process of going in-game to verify my
equations.  Once I have done so, I will continue on to Throne of Bhaal
experience level tables, but until then, these tables will remain
strictly Shadows of Amn.

  These tables are for Average HP.  That is, it takes the average 
value of each HP roll (save for the first, which is always at 
maximum).  I always play at normal difficulty, so my HP rolls are 
never maximized, so in case you have a similar play preference, these 
tables are for you.  There are two tables for the average section,
one with no constitution modifiers and one with a constitution of
18, to help show the difference between what non-fighter variants
can get as oppossed to fighter variants.

  If you play with Max HP, then you simply need to exaggerate the
differences to get an idea of the relative power levels; furthermore, 
any class that has higher HP than the normal thief will continue to 
have higher HP for a much longer time (even though the thief meets up 
with and exceeds some classes on an average HP basis) since the 
initial difference is greater.

  There is currently an unfixed bug (whether by BioWare patches or by
BaldurDash.org/Gibberling3's bugfixes) that gives the protagonist
extra HP on creation, given certain conditions.  It generally
translates to an extra die of HP.  If, like me, you're a purist and
don't want the extra HP, you can either Shadowkeep it out or do the
following:  create a multi-class character, go through the creation
process until the end, then click cancel/start over, then create a
character normally and you won't get the erroneous HP.

  Exp     :   T  :   F/T :   M/T :   C/T :   F/M/T :   F/C/T 

  89 000  : 30.5 :    35 :  24.5 :  31.5 :    25.5 :    33.5
  110 000 :   34 :    35 :  24.5 :    34 :    27.5 :    35.5
  160 000 : 37.5 :    40 :    28 :    36 :      30 :      37
  220 000 : 39.5 :    42 :  31.5 :  40.5 :    34.5 :    42.5
  440 000 : 41.5 :    48 :    36 :  43.5 :      40 :      48
  660 000 : 43.5 :    51 :  37.5 :    46 :    42.5 :    50.5
  880 000 : 45.5 :    52 :  39.5 :    47 :    45.5 :    54.5
  1.10e6  : 47.5 :    54 :  39.5 :    48 :    45.5 :    54.5
  1.32e6  : 49.5 :    55 :  40.5 :    49 :    47.5 :    55.5
  1.54e6  : 51.5 :    57 :  41.5 :    50 :    48.5 :    57.5
  1.76e6  : 53.5 :    58 :  42.5 :    51 :    48.5 :    57.5
  1.98e6  : 55.5 :    58 :  42.5 :    52 :    49.5 :    58.5 
  2.20e6  : 57.5 :    61 :  43.5 :    53 :    49.5 :    59.5
  2.42e6  : 59.5 :    61 :  44.5 :    54 :    51.5 :    60.5
  2.64e6  : 61.5 :    64 :  45.5 :    55 :    52.5 :    61.5
  2.86e6  : 63.5 :    64 :  45.5 :    56 :    52.5 :    62.5 

  This time with CON 18...
  
  Exp     :   T  :   F/T :   M/T :   C/T :   F/M/T :   F/C/T 

  89 000  : 46.5 :    54 :  37.5 :  44.5 :    41.5 :    50.5
  110 000 :   52 :    54 :  37.5 :    51 :    44.5 :    53.5
  160 000 : 57.5 :    62 :    43 :    54 :      49 :      56
  220 000 : 59.5 :    65 :  48.5 :  58.5 :    56.5 :    64.5
  440 000 : 61.5 :    74 :    55 :  62.5 :      66 :      73
  660 000 : 63.5 :    79 :  57.5 :    65 :    69.5 :    76.5
  880 000 : 65.5 :    80 :  59.5 :    66 :    74.5 :    82.5
  1.10e6  : 67.5 :    82 :  59.5 :    67 :    74.5 :    82.5
  1.32e6  : 69.5 :    83 :  60.5 :    68 :    76.5 :    83.5
  1.54e6  : 71.5 :    85 :  61.5 :    69 :    77.5 :    85.5
  1.76e6  : 73.5 :    86 :  62.5 :    70 :    77.5 :    85.5
  1.98e6  : 75.5 :    86 :  62.5 :    71 :    78.5 :    86.5 
  2.20e6  : 77.5 :    89 :  63.5 :    72 :    78.5 :    87.5
  2.42e6  : 79.5 :    89 :  64.5 :    73 :    80.5 :    88.5
  2.64e6  : 81.5 :    92 :  65.5 :    74 :    81.5 :    89.5
  2.86e6  : 83.5 :    92 :  65.5 :    75 :    81.5 :    90.5

  An interesting observation: in terms of long-term HP growth, the 
normal thief has the best prospects.  While other variants may have
a good early growth, anything beyond Shadows of Amn (Throne of Bhaal),
their consistent rate of 2 HP gain eventually surpasses the much slower
HP, if larger, gain that multiclasses enjoy (or suffer).
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
10e.Backstab Analysis                                             [A50]

  So what if you really want to know the best way to squeeze every
iota of efficiency out of backstabbing?  Well, courtesty of John B.
Sprague, I present to you a relatively math-easy explanation that a 
Kensai/Thief is more adept at this than the Assassin.

  "Looking at how backstab damage is calculated is revealing. 
Basically, every damage modifier except for STR bonus damage gets 
multiplied.  You can express it as an equation as follows:

BSD = ((WR + WDB + WPB + WSB + CB) * BSM) + SDB

where:

BSD = total backstab damage
WR  = weapon roll (e.g., 1 to 6 for a short sword)
WDB = weapon damage bonus (e.g. 4 for a +4 sword)
WPB = weapon proficiency bonus (i.e., damage bonus from 
         specialization)
WSB = weapon style bonus (i.e., bonus damage from weapon style)
CB  = class bonus (i.e., any +DMG from class/kit)
BSM = backstab modifier
SDB = strength damage bonus

For great, consistent backstabbing, you want to achieve the highest 
minimum damage possible so that the smallest possible hit (WR = 1) 
still results in considerable, crippling damage.  So how do you crank 
up that minimum damage?

I think the Kensai/Thief dual-class takes the cake.

  Obviously, the further you develop the Kensai before dualling the 
better, but I for one hate waiting forever to be a fully realized dual 
class, so I'd dual at 9.  The significant stats this nets you for 
backstabbing: -2 to speed factor, +3 THAC0, +3 damage, and 3 uses of 
Kai.

  As for weapon proficiencies: both single weapon style and two handed 
weapon style give you critical hits on 19 and 20, so they are equal on 
that count; but, two handed style *also* gives you +1 minimum damage. 
Since the only thief-usable (i.e., backstab-enabled) two handed weapon
type is the quarter staff, I decided on grand mastery in quarter 
staves.  I developed to grand mastery because that fifth star nets you 
an extra +1 minimum damage (for a total of +3).

  So, with the layout decided, let's see how our Kensai/Thief stacks 
up against the assassin.  I'm going to assume quarter staff use/two 
handed style for the assassin as well for an apples to apples 
comparison (giving the assassin the benefit of that extra +1 from the 
two handed style).  In both cases, I'll assume use of the Staff of 
Rynn +4 that Ribald sells. I'll assume 19 STR for both.

  So, the assassin's variables are:

WR  = 1 (we're calculating min damage)
WDB = 4 (+4 Staff of Rynn)
WPB = 0 (no specialization)
WSB = 1 (two handed weapon style)
CB  = 1 (assassins get +1 hit and damage)
BSM = 7 (7x backstab at lvl 21)
SDB = 7 (19 STR belt)

BSD = ((1 + 4 + 0 + 1 + 1) * 7) + 7
BSD = 56 min at level 21

  How about max?

BSD = ((6 + 4 + 0 + 1 + 1) * 7) + 7
BSD = 91 at level 21

  So, our level 21 assassin does 56 to 91, with an average of 73.5.

  What about our lvl 9 Kensai turned thief?

WR  = 1 (min damage)
WDB = 4 (+4 Staff of Rynn)
WPB = 3 (grandmastery yields +3 damage)
WSB = 1 (two handed weapon style)
CB  = 3 (lvl 9 Kensai gets +3 hit and damage)
BSM = 5 (regular thief tops out at 5x backstab)
SDB = 7 (19 STR belt)

BSD = ((1 + 4 + 3 + 1 + 3) * 5) + 7
BSD = 67 min at 910,000 XP for 9/13 Kensai/Thief

And max:

BSD = ((6 + 4 + 3 + 1 + 3) * 5) + 7
BSD = 92 max at 910,000 XP for 9/13 Kensai/Thief

  So, our lowly 9/10 K/T does 67 to 92 damage, with an average of 79.5.

  What conclusions can we draw here?  The Kensai/Thief has a higher 
minimum damage (which is very desirable), and a higher average, with 
a comparable (yet still higher) max.  Furthermore, he is fully realized
at 910,000 XP, compared to the assassin's 2.42 million!

  And there are more benefits as well:
  -Better THAC0 due to Kensai bonus and grand mastery
  -More thief points! (thieflvl * 25) + 20 vs. the assassin's 
(thieflvl * 15) + 40
  -Kai! When you positively have to have that fantastic backstab, the 
Kensai can do max damage at will, 3 times a day
  -If your victim survives your brutal opening attack, you have two 
attacks per round to the assassin's one (and those attacks can be 
boosted by the same Kai that maxed your opening attack)

  I'd like to note in closing that a high level assassin dualled to a 
fighter can achieve even more fantastic backstabs than the Kensai/Thief
I have described here, but a 16/17 or 21/22 Assassin/Fighter takes a 
*very* long time to realize, and furthermore are only possible in the
expansion.

  Lastly, there are gloves available very late in the game that will up
the assassin's minimum damage and put him back on top... but what fun 
is it being the best for so short a space of time?  The Kensai/Thief 
rocks from shortly after emerging from Irenicus's dungeon!  And 
besides, if the absolute max at any price was the goal, you could 
develop a Kensai to 12 or 13 before dualling. But I want power *now*, 
dagnabbit!

  So go go Kensai/Thief!"

  EDITOR'S NOTE:  Don't forget, though, that the Assassin enjoys some
abilities that may be worth more to you than a pure high backstab 
(since backstabbing is not always possible or effective), namely Use
Poison.  So one can still not say that a Kensai/Thief is strictly 
better than an Assassin. 
=======================================================================



=======================================================================
11. Final Notes                                                   [B00]
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
11a.Conclusion/Special Thanks                                     [B10]

  So hopefully by now, at the end of this guide, you now understand how
trully powerful and wonderful a thief can be.  And if you don't get
that, then atleast I hope you have gained greater insight into the
wonders of trapping, backstabbing, hiding, and the like.  
  Now what the hell are you waiting for?  Get back to playing!

  Kudos go out to DSimpson (for his excellent guides) and to the
TeamBG people.  Without DSimpson, I never would've felt compelled to
try to write something as awesome as his.  Without TeamBG, I never
would have figured how to open up .spl files for Baldur's Gate 2 and 
learn how those damn Traps actually work.  

  PlanetBG.com also gets kudos since their singular description of 
the Assassin's Poison Weapon effect (it's different from every other
guide on the internet) made me curious as to see if they were onto 
something.  Which led me to opening up .spl files and realizing they
were mostly correct (meaning almost everyone else is wrong).

  Thanks also goes to Gegengheist, Skidi Wili, and Superdroideka, as
they have helped contribute information to the guide.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
11b.My Works                                                      [B20]

Heart of Fury Guide (Icewind Dale 2)
Party Creation Guide (Baldur's Gate)
Thief Guide (Baldur's Gate 2)
Ultimate Analysis (System Shock 2)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
11c.Appendix                                                      [B30]

  Over the course of the guide, I reference a few things that you might
have never heard of.

  BaldurDash.org - www.baldurdash.org - It contains FixPacks and 
Text fixes for both Shadows of Amn and Throne of Bhaal that fix
numerous minor and major bugs that have been confirmed (but have been
left unaddressed) by BioWare.  In fact, unless you download either the
Shadows of Amn or Throne of Bhaal FixPack, you will NOT be able to 
backstab anything while equipped with Boots of Speed.

  ShadowKeeper - http://www.mud-master.com/shadowkeeper - It is a 
saved-game editor.  Many people use it to cheat (give themselves free
items or unlimited strongholds), but I use it to fix the extra HP bug
if I forget to do the proper steps during character creation.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
11d.Legal Disclaimer                                              [B40]

  I am not affiliated with Bioware/Black Isle/Interplay in any way, and
any information I provide should be treated as third party information.
Therefore, Bioware/Black Isle/Interplay cannot be held responsible for
any misuse of information provided herein, and I cannot give a full
guarantee that the information provided herein is 100% accurate. 
Therefore, no party, that is, Bioware/Black Isle/Interplay/Me, cannot
be held responsible for any problems that may result in the misuse of
information or use of faulty information; the best reparation that can
be made in the latter case would be for me to correct the faulty 
information so that it is accurate.
  
  In addition, you (the party reading this) are free to distribute this
work freely on the internet and in any other media as long as credit is
given to the original author (Chris Lee).
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
11e.History                                                       [B50]

  10/27/11:  v2.87 completed
    - Added "my works" section.

  9/20/11:   v2.86 completed
    - Changed Spectral Brand to scimitar (thanks again Edward!).

  9/16/11:   v2.85 completed
    - Minor addendum to Cloak of Non-Detection (thanks Edward)!
    - Changed solo challenge from "TODO" to "NEVER WILL" and added
mention of the other guy's extensive solo guide.

  3/8/09:    v2.8 completed
    - Fixed THAC0 tables.
    - Expanded a bit on Cleric/Thief dual-classing.

  9/1/06:    v2.7 completed
    - It appears that someone else has gotten a solo-challenge up.  
Whattdya know.
    - Removed Fighter/Cleric/Thief (my bad).
    - If you've submitted tips into me since March, apologies (my mail
went kaput), so I haven't updated them.

  3/9/06:    v2.6 completed
    - Finished the Berserker section.
    - Fixed a few errors with some of the restrictions in multiclasses.
    - I swear to GOD I'll get to info about the solo-challenge at some
point (maybe when I graduate).

  12/17/04:  v2.5 completed
    - Minor change to the introduction.
    - Added a backstab analysis, courtesty of John B. Sprague.
    - New weapon added to items of note.
    - Added extra information to Skills.
    - Gave myself an extended deadline for finishing the tables and
doing the solo challenge; stupid schoolwork...
    - TO BE ADDED SOON:  Solo challenging stories from thief/mage Aust.

  9/9/04:    v2.1 completed
    - Added extra note in HP Growth Tables section.
    - Completed HP Growth Tables for Shadows of Amn experience, fixed
a few erroneous calculations.
    - Added "Appendix" in the Final Notes section.
    - Added more information on multi-classes (specifically dual-
classing).

  9/7/04:    v2.0 completed
    - That's right, a COMPLETE jump in version number!!  Big changes.
    - Added two new sections (Solo Challenge, Miscellany).
    - Expanded several sections.
    - Fixed some grammatical/syntax issues.
    - Revamped the method of jumping through text. The jumble of 
letters such as KV4, which while based intuitively (first letter of
section, first letter of the subsection, number of the section), 
started to prove less than optimal with the two new sections, so a more
intuitive system was used (first number designates section number in
hexadecimal, second number designates subsection, third number 
designates sub-subsection).

  8/12/04:   v1.6 completed
    - Added two new items:  Mask of King Strohm (thanks again, ever-
diligent Gegengheist) and the Tuigan Short Bow +1.

  8/2/04:    v1.57 completed
    - Made a slight change in to the Assassin section; not only is the
poison about three times faster at level 15, it's also more damaging.

  7/28/04:   v1.55 completed
    - It's actually just "Buckler +1" and not "Clandestine Buckler,"
thanks again Gegengheist.

  7/27/04:   v1.5 completed
    - Made significant grammaer/syntax fixes.
    - Added two big extra equipment notes.
    - Gave credit for the past equipment note edit and these two
current ones.  Thanks Skidi Wili and Gegengheist.

  7/26/04:   v1.4 completed
    - Added a new section, "Pre-introduction."
    - Some forthcoming edits...

  6/20/04:   v1.3 completed
    - Added some extra equipment notes.
    - Expanded the Vanilla Thief section to include some multiclasses.

  12/31/03:  v1.25 completed.
    - Fixed some various minor typographical errors.
    - Added some extra minor details.
    - Did some studies with the Assassin's script files (thanks again
TeamBG for your software!) and corrected the class description to 
match the reality.

  12/29/03:  v1.2 completed.
    - Fixed some GROSS factual errors that I overlooked in the initial
release of the FAQ.  Quite embarassing as it seems my brain must have 
stopped functioning.  Exploding Trap does NOT harm allies, for one.  
Two extra days for earning money in the Stronghold means 1.4 times 
expected yield, not 1.2.
    - Added some corrections to various areas (like typos).
    - Corrected some minor errors throughout the guide as well as
adding some detail.
    - Added Angurvadal, Girdle of Fire Giant Strength, and Gauntlets of
Extraordinary Specialization to Items of Note.

  12/27/03:  v1.0 completed.
=======================================================================



=======================================================================
The Stinger
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
  Spectator:  Oh, Captain, my Captain!

  Captain Egeissag:  Eh?  Why do you address me as such, beholder?  You
    have a most peculiar attitude... I shall have to report it to the
    mistress soon.

  Spectator:  Oh, never mind that.  I always wanted to say that, and
    there you go getting all upset.
=======================================================================
 

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