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 Baldur's Gate - Shadows of Amn and the Throne of Bhaal

Baldur's Gate - Shadows of Amn and the Throne of Bhaal

*                                ROGUE SOLO GUIDE                             *

Copyright 2006 Steven de Rooij
Version 1.01, last updated 10 june 2006.

General information
I played Baldur's Gate: Shadows of Amn and the Throne of Bhaal
expansion with patchlevel 2.6.498 (the latest patch), and the
Baldurdash FixPack v1.21 installed. I used Core Rules difficulty. If
you do not have Throne of Bhaal installed, some but not all of the
information in this guide will still be valid, so use this guide with
care in that case!

Baldur's Gate II is copyright 2000 by Bioware/Black Isle/Interplay
BG2: Throne of Bhaal is copyright 2001 by Bioware/Black Isle/Interplay

I am not affiliated with Bioware, Black Isle, Interplay or anyone who
had anything to do with the creation of this game. The most up-to-date
version of this guide can be found at This guide may
be reproduced however you like so long as you:
  (1) make no changes,
  (2) do not charge money or anything else for it,
and, when you decide to make it publicly available, you should also:
  (3) send me email
  (4) make an honest attempt to keep your version up-to-date.

Please send comments, suggestions for improvement or questions to
Steven de Rooij, email: rooij at cwi dot nl, where you should replace
the words "at" and "dot" by "@" and ".". Please use the word "faq" in
the subject of your message. Insightful suggestions will be rewarded
by honorable mention in the credits section.

I will use the following abbreviations for some lengthy phrases that I
need to use a lot.

AC    = Armour Class. A lower AC makes you harder to hit.
THAC0 = To Hit AC 0. A lower THAC0 makes it easier to hit enemies.
XP    = eXperience Points
HP    = HitPoints
MR    = Magic Resistance
FR    = Fire Resistance
CR    = Cold Resistance
AR    = Acid Resistance
ER    = Electrical Resistance
MDR   = Magic Damage Resistance
1H/2H = One handed / Two handed (of weapons)
STR   = Strength (character attribute)
DEX   = Dexterity (character attribute)
CON   = Constitution (character attribute)
INT   = Intelligence (character attribute)
WIS   = Wisdom (character attribute)
CHA   = Charisma (character attribute)
HLA   = High Level Ability, extra abilities that you obtain as you reach
        very high levels.
UAI   = Use Any Item, an important HLA.
GWW   = Greater Whirlwind, an important HLA.
ToB   = Throne of Bhaal, the expansion to Baldur's Gate II.

Q: Why read this guide?
A: It provides information to help you decide whether or not a rogue
   is the character you like to play, and it will make you understand
   the fundamental strengths and weaknesses of such a character.

Q: Is this guide useful if you don't want to solo?
A: You'd have to read it and judge for yourself. I didn't have larger
   parties in mind when I wrote it, but you might still learn
   something new.

Q: What is so interesting about rogues?
A: They are very versatile characters who become even more versatile
   when they receive the extremely powerful high level ability Use Any
   Item. They have to apply somewhat more strategy than fighters in
   order to be effective in battle. They have high lore so you won't
   have to use magic or money to identify everything you find.

Q: Where should I find all this brilliant equipment you keep
A: Look it up in another guide.

Character creation

Class: bard vs. thief:
- Bards and thieves can choose different, interesting kits
- Thieves have backstabbing and assassination, detect traps, detect
  illusion, stealth, open locks
- Bards have mage spells up to level 6, higher lore, magic flute, bard
- Both have pickpocketing, Use Any Item, Greater Evasion and can dual
  wield a little bit
- Thieves can be multi class or dual class
- Bards must be human or half elf, thieves can choose a race with good
  racial bonuses (bonuses to thieving abilities and saving throws)
- Swashbucklers (a thief kit) cannot get Assassination but can get
- Even though with UAI a thief can eventually use any melee weapon, he 
  can only backstab with daggers, katanas, scimitars, long swords,
  short swords, clubs and quarterstaves. He can also become proficient
  in darts, short bows and slings, but will incur penalties for using
  any other weapon.

Bards must choose human or half-elf; the latter is slightly better
because of the pick pocket bonus and infravision. Thieves on the other
hand can choose any race. The table below shows each race and its
associated bonuses. Since a single class thief will receive more than
enough thieving abilities, your choice should not depend too much on
bonuses to thieving abilities, but rather on role playing
considerations, saving throw bonuses and racial effects on attribute
points. The dwarf, gnome and halfling receive ridiculously high
bonuses to saving throws, so those are without question the best races
for a solo character. Dwarf is best since you can give a dwarf 19 CON
for the bonus to HP.

Skill                Dwarf  Elf(*) Gnome  Half-Elf  Halfling Half-Orc
save vs. p/p/d(**)     +5                              +5
save vs. r/w/s(***)    +5            +5                +5
save vs. spells        +5            +5                +5
STR                                                    -1        +1
CON                    +1     -1                                 +1
DEX                    -1     +1                       +1
INT                                  +1                          -2
WIS                                  -1                -1
CHA                    -2                                         
Pick Pockets                  +5             +10       +5
Open Locks            +10     -5     +5                +5
Find/Remove Traps     +15           +10                +5
Move Silently                 +5     +5               +10
Hide in Shadows              +10     +5       +5      +15
Detect Illusion        +5           +10                  
Set Traps             +10            +5                   
(*)   Elves also receive +1 to hit with long bows and long swords,
      and they have 90% resistance to some charm and sleep spells.
(**)  paralyze/poison/death
(***) rod/wand/staff

About multi/dual classing:
If you play solo, a multi or dual class character is much easier to
play than a pure thief, regardless of which class you choose to
combine with the thief class. Your thieving abilities will end up high
enough anyway, and you will have the extra power of a mage, fighter or
cleric. If you choose to multi or dual class you will have a much
easier time of it, and you will circumvent lots of the specific
problems of the rogue that are so hard to cope with otherwise. Below
is a list of options and a short commentary. However, this guide deals
with the specific problems of soloing a pure rogue, so in the
remainder I will assume you are playing single class.

[Multi class]
- Fighter/Mage/thief:
  this is a very powerful combination that produces a strong fighter
  augmented by all thieving skills, most importantly backstabbing,
  Assassination and UAI (Carsomyr!) AND has support magic. The mage
  reaches reasonably high level, but not enough to be able to memorize
  level 9 spells, so think of this character as a powerful warrior
  with half a mage mixed in.
- Fighter/thief:
  this is also a powerful combination that produces a strong fighter
  augmented by all thieving skills, most importantly backstabbing,
  Assassination and UAI (Carsomyr!).
- Mage/thief and cleric/thief: both classes end up quite strong; but
  the classes don't reinforce each other as much as for the
  fighter/thief. Except that UAI cancels the any item restrictions and
  you can protect your thief with protective magics in combat.

[Dual clas]
- thief -> mage and thief -> cleric:
  this is mostly a mage or cleric with some limited thieving skills
  mixed in for convenience. Reasonable option if you do not have
  another thief in your party. The best thief kit is the
  swashbuckler, mostly for his AC bonus and a much better chance to
  hit with short bows. Not discussed in this guide.
- mage -> thief and cleric -> thief:
  your item restrictions are overcome by the thief's UAI,
  thieving abilities are supported by spells such as Invisibility,
  Glitterdust, Greater Malison, Doom, Bless, etc. However you'll have 
  low hitpoints and pretty lousy spellcasting abilities. Consider
  playing a bard instead, or multi classing.
- thief -> fighter: this is a bad idea, unless the thief is a 
  swashbuckler and you are trying to build an AC/THAC0 powerhouse.
- fighter -> thief:
  this creates a powerful rogue that has more HP, weapon
  specialization, better THAC0, more attacks per round and access to
  more weapons and armour than a regular thief (before UAI). In short:
  do this unless you want a challenge, which is of course what this
  guide is all about! The most useful fighter kit is Kensai, because
  the disadvantages all disappear as soon as you get UAI. Dual at
  level 7 (easiest) or 13 (best) when your number of attacks per round
  have just increased to 3/2 or 2 respectively. You can still use this
  guide with a fighter -> thief, but you will be much more powerful
  and therefore less dependent on careful planning and clever strategy.

Thief Kits:

  - Bonus +1 to AC.
  - Another +1 to AC for every 5 levels.
  - +1 to hit and damage every 5 levels.
  - May specialize in any weapon that a thief can use (but does not
    receive the extra 1/2 attack per round)
  - May place three stars in two-weapon fighting style proficiency
  - Receives the Whirlwind HLA rather than Assassination
  - No backstab multiplier.

This is a very powerful thief. Although the swashbuckler automatically
receives great bonuses to THAC0 and damage, THAC0 is still very
important if you decide to play a swashbuckler, since you will want to
use Whirlwind attack a LOT. You will also want to dual wield (in order
to increase your number of attacks per round). This means that the
fact that you may put three stars in two-weapon fighting is extremely
important: it reduces the THAC0 penalty from -2 in your main hand and
-6 in your off hand to 0 in your main hand and -2 in your off hand.
The ability to specialize in weapons will get you one more bonus:
THAC0 improves by 1 and damage by 2. The AC bonus will help your
character survive. Of all thief kits, the swashbuckler is without a
doubt the best fighter. But you will have to do without backstabbing...

  - May coat his weapon in poison once per day per 4 levels. The next
    hit with that weapon will inject the poison into the target,
    dealing out 1 damage per second for 24 seconds (3 damage for the
    first 6 seconds). A saving throw vs. poison limits damage to 12
  - Bonus +1 to hit and +1 damage.
  - Gets a x7 max backstab (rather than the thieves' normal x5). This
    is gained at level 21.
  - Only 15 points per level to distribute on abilities.
  - Assassins cannot be of Lawful Good alignment

Another attractive thief kit for the backstabbers among us. The THAC0
and damage bonus is a real relief and while poison weapon will never
do much damage it does help out in the early game and can be used to
disrupt spellcasters. Never mind about the 15 thieving skill points
per level: before you know it your skills will be good enough.

[Bounty Hunter]
  - +15% to set traps.
  - He can lay special traps (other than the ones that all thieves
    receive). The traps are more powerful than the typical thief trap,
    and the effect varies according to the level. The effects are
    listed below: 
    - 1st: The trap deals out damage and slows the target (if save is
    - 11th: The trap holds the target if a save is failed.
    - 16th: The trap erects an Otiluke's Resilient Sphere around the
            target (if a save is failed).
    - 21st: The trap Mazes the target.
  - Gets only 20 to distribute between thief abilities each level.

This is an interesting kit, definitely an improvement over a plain
thief. The special traps are nice: although much less powerful than
high level traps such as spike traps, they will help out in the early
stages of the game, and the Maze trap actually remains useful because
it will even affect high level monsters. Also the special traps,
unlike all other traps, can be thrown. An interesting kit for die-hard
trappers out there. The 20 thief ability points are of course more
than enough for a single class solo thief.

Bard Kits:

  - May use Offensive Spin and Defensive Spin abilities once per day
    per 4 levels. Offensive Spin lasts 24 seconds, granting the blade
    +2 to hit, +2 to damage, and an extra attack. As well, all of his
    attacks do maximum damage for the duration. Defensive Spin lasts
    24 seconds, roots him to the spot, but gives -1 AC per level of
    experience. This armour class bonus does not go over -10.
  - May place three slots into two-weapon fighting style.
  - Only has one-half normal Lore value.
  - Only has one-half Pick Pockets percentage.
  - Bard Song does not become better with levels.

The fact that you may place three points in two-weapon fighting is
what makes the blade the best bard class: since you will want to dual
wield anyway this reduces the THAC0 penalty from -2 in your main hand
and -6 in your off hand to 0 in your main hand and -2 in your off
hand; thus your effective THAC0 is already one point lower than skald
THAC0 even without using the Offensive Spin.
The Offensive Spin really shines: it helps the bard in all the
departments where he most needs it and greatly increases melee damage
output. Also don't underestimate the Defensive Spin in battle:
although it roots you to the spot, you can still fight and cast
The disadvantages are the least of your worries if you play solo.

  - +1 to hit and +1 damage with all weapons.
  - The skald's song is different from the typical bard and varies
    with level:
     - 1st: Gives allies +2 to hit, +2 to damage and -2 to AC.
     - 15th: Gives allies +4 to hit, +4 to damage, -4 to AC, and
             immunity to fear.
     - 20th: Gives allies +4 to hit, +4 to damage, -4 to AC, and
             immunity to fear, stun and confusion.
  - Pick Pockets ability one-quarter normal.

Since the disadvantage is no real disadvantage (if you must pickpocket
you can always use Potions of Master Thievery) the skald is clearly
better than a plain bard. You will need all the THAC0 you can get!
However the blade is easily the better warrior.

  - Jester's song does not help allies. Instead, it affects every
    opponent within 30 feet, and they must save vs. magic at +4 once
    per round or be confused.
  - None

Since the jester's bard song is offensive, it can actually be used by
a solo character. A jester is therefore a better option than a plain
bard, but it is not a large improvement since enemies will only fail
their save vs magic while your level is still very low.

Attribute distribution:
Given a reasonable 85 attribute points, this is how I would distribute

    | bard | thief
STR |  13  |  18 (-1 for Halflings, +1 for Half-Orcs)
CON |  10  |  18 (+1 for Dwarves, -1 for Elves)
DEX |  18  |  18 (+1 for Elves, +1 for Halflings)
INT |  18  |  10 
WIS |  11  |  11
CHA |  15  |  10

Comments. The 15 CHA for the bard is required. If you get just a few
points more you could get a decent CON at the cost of even worse STR:
nightmarish during Irenicus' dungeon but soon after you will have STR
boosting equipment anyway. You will benefit the whole remainder of the
game because a high CON raises your number of HP. The stats for a
thief are easier to decide upon: you don't need INT, WIS or CHA. In
any case, make sure that you have 18 DEX and 11 WIS to be able to
equip Valygar's armour!

Thieving skills:
All rogues gain special skills. Bards can only pick pockets and set
traps (bards receive traps as high level ability). Bards do not need
to specify how to distribute skill points over their thieving
abilities, they will automatically become quite good at both pick
pocketing and trap setting.
Thieves can learn more skills. They will be very good in all skills
available to them eventually, but they have to choose in which order
their skills are developed. This is very important in the initial
stage of the game, when your character is still lacking in both
experience and equipment.

Below is a list of skills that a thief can choose from, along with the
number of points you have to invest for the skill to work somewhere
near maximum efficiency:

Skill            | Useful max | Priority |
Pick pockets     |    100     |    5     |
Detect traps     |    100     |    1     |
Open locks       |    100     |    1     |
Hide in shadows  |    200     |    2     |
Move silently    |    100     |    4     |
Detect Illusions |    100     |    3     |
Set Traps        |    100     |    2     |

The priority level indicates the recommended order in which to develop
these skills. For example, I suggest that you postpone putting points
in pick pockets until you are satisfied with every other skill you
want to learn. All skills of priorities 1 and 2 are important, and you
probably will not be able to get them all to decent levels at the
beginning of the game. The best strategy is probably to initially set
your detect traps and open locks skills both sufficiently high that
you can handle all traps and locks you will encounter in Irenicus'
dungeon. A level of about 70 is probably sufficient, but I did not
test this. The remaining points can then be distributed over the
priority 2 skills.
The reason I assign priority 2 to Set traps is that it provides a
different way to deal damage, and for a solo rogue the number of ways
in which you can deal damage is so limited that opening up such extra
options is very important. For a thief in a larger party the trapping
skill could be developed later.
The Detect Illusions skill is also very important to a solo thief,
since you won't have easy access to spells such as True Sight. Try to
develop it before meeting Rayic Gethras.
If you are a swashbuckler you cannot backstab, so you probably won't
need Hide in Shadows much. I would consider that skill to be of
priority 4 for a swashbuckler.

Thieves can become proficient in darts, short bows, slings, daggers,
katanas, scimitars, long swords, short swords, clubs and
quarterstaves. They can also put one point in each fighting style. A
swashbuckler can specialize in the same weapons and put three points
in two weapon style. A bard can become proficient in any weapon; a
blade can put three points in two weapon style. A bard without UAI
cannot use Composite Longbows, but that is unrelated to
proficiencies. Once you have UAI you can use Composite Longbows with
no penalties.

Below is my suggested order in which to assign proficiencies:

- Thief (except swashbuckler):
  Long Sword, Short Bow, Scimitar, Katana, single weapon style, Short
  Sword, Quarterstaff, Dagger, ...
- Swashbuckler: Two weapon style x3, Long Sword, Scimitar, Scimitar,
  Long Sword, Katana, Katana, ...
- Bard:
  Two weapon style (x3 for blade), Flail, Short Bow, Scimitar,
  Mace, War Hammer, Axe, Long sword, Quarterstaff, ...

Notice that I recommend giving thieves a point in Single Weapon
Style. This is good for backstabbers who can improve their THAC0 by
removing the weapon from their off hand. They then also double their
chance of scoring a critical hit.

High Level Abilities:
The following High Level Abilities are available to rogues:

Use Any Item
Assassination       (Non-swashbuckler thieves only)
Whirlwind           (swashbucklers only)
Set Spike Trap
Set Time Trap
Set Exploding Trap
Greater Evasion
Enhanced Bard Song  (bards only)
Magic Flute         (bards only)
Avoid Death
Scribe Scrolls

Recommended order of selecting your 17 HLAs:

    thief               swashbuckler           bard
Use Any Item            Use Any Item           Use Any Item
Assassination           Set Spike Trap         Set Spike Trap
Set Spike Trap          Whirlwind              Set Spike Trap
Set Spike Trap          Set Spike Trap         Evasion
Evasion                 Whirlwind              Greater Evasion
Greater Evasion         Evasion                Set Time Trap
Set Time Trap           Greater Evasion        Set Exploding Trap
Set Exploding Trap      Set Time Trap          Set Spike Trap
Set Spike Trap          Set Spike Trap         Set Spike Trap
Set Spike Trap          Whirlwind              Set Time Trap
Set Time Trap           Set Spike Trap         Magic Flute
Set Spike Trap          Whirlwind              Set Spike Trap
Set Spike Trap          Set Spike Trap         Set Spike Trap
Set Spike Trap          Whirlwind              Set Spike Trap
Set Spike Trap          Set Spike Trap         Set Spike Trap
Set Spike Trap          Whirlwind              Set Spike Trap
Set Spike Trap          Set Spike Trap         Set Spike Trap

General discussion

Since you will be selling lots of equipment that your character does
not need, you will soon accumulate lots of money. So, don't worry
about shop prices (use the Ring of Human Influence only while you are
still doing your initial shopping in Athkatla). In your first few
levels, when money is still important, use the following strategy to
maximize your profits: (1) always wear the Ring of Human Influence
when buying or selling (2) sell all items of the same type in one go:
if you split up the items then the shopkeeper will offer you less for
the second batch. The best way to do this requires a bag of holding,
which you will not acquire until after money stops being a concern. If
you always keep everything that is worth selling in a Bag of Holding
throughout the game you may end up a millionaire (but there is really
no reason to bother).

Saving throws:
If you are playing solo, being charmed, dominated, turned to stone,
mazed, imprisoned, petrified, ... means instant death, while being
frightened, stunned, confused, paralyzed or held are other experiences
that you probably will not survive.
You can protect yourself from specific effects using items (of charm
protection, free action, etc) or by building up generic
defenses. Generic defenses are magic resistance (MR) and saving
throws. While both protect against more or less the same attacks, MR
is better (negates rather than reduces the damage of many spells), but
saving throws are easier to get to a high level. Look for equipment
with saving throw bonuses such as: rings/cloaks/amulets of protection,
the Helm of Balduran, the Ring of Gaxx, good shields, anything.  Check
your saving throws in the character record every now and then. Saving
throws are usually more important than AC or resistances! Having low
saving throws is also very convenient when fighting Mind Flayers or
Umber Hulks. Keep in mind that you get no saving throws vs. Maze and
Imprisonment so you'll have to think of another way to avoid those.

Apart from using a possible Cure Light Wounds special ability and
healing service at temples, you can recover hitpoints by (1)
polymorphing into a Troll using the Cloak of the Sewers, (2) by using
a Ring of Regeneration or a Ring of Gaxx and (3) by casting Draw upon
Holy Might before resting: this raises your CON which in turn
increases your regeneration. Over a period of eight hours this will
allow you to recuperate most if not all your lost hitpoints.
(Strictly speaking this is a cheat: spell duration is not computed

To open locks with a bard, increase your STR to insane levels, and
force them. For some locks you need maximum STR to have a decent
chance. Some you will not be able to bash at all, but bashing will
work for the important ones. The best ways to raise STR are (1) to
wield Crom Faeyr, (2) if you have UAI you can drink a Potion of
Somekinda Giant Strength (Roger the Fence in the Temple sewers has
very good potions), or (3) you can use Draw Upon Holy Might. Try to
bash the lock about 5-10 times, if that does not help then you might
as well give up.

Rogues as warriors:
A rogue fights poorly. Compared to a warrior class the rogue is
lacking in three very important qualities:

 (1) Base THAC0 does not improve beyond 8, while a warrior class
     character's base THAC0 ends at 0. This means that a rogue will
     have a hard time hitting powerful foes even if he works hard to
     improve his THAC0 (see below for tips on how to do this).
 (2) The rogue receives only 1 melee attack per round. A warrior gains
     one extra attacks at level 13, and can specialize in weapons to
     further increase his number of attacks. Also a warrior can use
     GWW to increase his number of attacks per round to 10. None of
     these methods work for the rogue.
 (3) A rogue has worse AC because he cannot wear heavy armour (before
     UAI, a thief can use up to studded leather armour and a bard can
     use up to chainmail but this disables spellcasting).

Luckily there are ways to deal with all three problems, and a
carefully planned rogue can become a reasonably powerful
fighter. There are a lot of tricks to improve THAC0 and the number of
attacks per round, and you will probably need to combine most of the
following tricks if you want to become an effective warrior at all.

Improving THAC0:
- Use a weapon with a good bonus to THAC0 (obviously, but for a rogue
  this becomes much more important than for a fighter).
- Make sure you are proficient in the weapons you wish to use.
- For monsters that are hard to hit, you may have to remove the weapon
  from your off hand unless you have three proficiency points in two
  weapon style.
- Wear THAC0 improving equipment: see the equipment section below.
- The Equalizer's bonuses to THAC0 apply to both hands, so it might
  help to wield the Equalizer in the off hand. Check the bonus on the
  To Hit rolls in the battle text to check whether or not it is
- The Spectral Brand can temporarily raise your THAC0.
- The swashbuckler, blade and skald kits help improve THAC0 (the blade
  needs to use Offensive Spin to get the bonus). See the Kits section.
- A bard can cast Tenser's Transformation to get great THAC0 at the cost
  of losing his other spells - very useful in demanding battles. A
  thief with UAI can cast it from a scroll.
- You can quaff a Potion of Heroism to lower your THAC0 by 1 for 10
  turns (a long time) or a Potion of Power to lower your THAC0 by 2
  for 4 turns (long enough for most battles). These potions are the
  only way to temporarily increase THAC0, so hold on to them if you
  find them!
- The most important trick is to raise your STR as high as you can!
  The following table lists the relation between STR and your bonus to
  THAC0 and damage:

     STR | THAC0 bonus | damage bonus
      17 |     1       |      1
      18 |     1       |      2
      19 |     3       |      7
      20 |     3       |      8
      21 |     4       |      9
      22 |     4       |     10
      23 |     5       |     11
      24 |     6       |     12
      25 |     7       |     14

  You can increase STR with equipment in many ways, see the Equipment
  section below. You can also increase STR temporarily with Draw
  upon Holy Might if you have that special ability (only at the
  beginning of the game).

Improving your number of attacks per round:
- Dual wield. This is especially effective for the swashbuckler and
  the blade, because they are allowed to put three proficiency points
  in two weapon style, but any rogue warrior should dual wield just to
  increase his number of attacks. Completely forget about 2H weapons
  because you will not attack often enough with them, EXCEPT when
  using the Staff of the Magi and of the Ram in a cool backstabbing
  strategy (see the Weapons and Backstabbing sections).
- Get Belm, Kundane or the Scarlet Ninja-to in your off hand to get an
  extra attack in your main hand! This way, you get two attacks with
  your best weapon rather than one, which doubles your damage output -
  add to that the damage you will occasionally do with your off
  hand. However, thieves can put only one slot in two weapon style, so
  the extra attack in your main hand will be made at a -2 THAC0
  penalty. Also, Belm tends not to hit tough monsters in ToB.
- Use Haste to get one more attack for a long time, or Improved Haste
  to double your number of attacks for one round. You can drink an Oil
  of Speed to Haste without fatigue.
- A blade can use Offensive Spin for yet another attack. Other than
  stated in the game text, this can be combined with Improved Haste to
  get 8 attacks per round, each of which does maximal damage. A
  swashbuckler can use Whirlwind for 10 attacks per round.

Improving your AC:
- Get about 3 instances of the Greater Evasion HLA.
- Get good armour and/or the Bracers of Defence AC3, see the equipment
- You can cast Spirit Shield or Tenser's Transformation, or ignore
  AC altogether and use Stoneskins or Protection from Magic Weapons.
- A swashbuckler receives a substantial bonus to AC and THAC0.

Spells and Potions

bards can cast spells up to level 6 and from scrolls. Thieves can also
cast from scrolls once they obtain UAI. The spells marked (B) or (T)
are important and/or useful mostly to bards or thieves,
respectively. The other spells are so useful that if you cannot learn
them, you should collect as many scrolls you can find for that spell:

Magic Missile                   (B)
Knock                           (B)
Skull Trap                      (B)
Lower Resist                    (B)
Greater Malison
Resist Fear                     (B)
Protection from Fire            (B)
Breach                          (B)
Lower Resistance                (B)
True Sight                      (B)
Tenser's Transformation
Haste (for Mordekainen's swords)
Improved Haste
Mordekainen's Sword
Abi-Dalzim's Horrid Wilting
Protection from Magical Weapons
Spell Immunity
Mislead                         (T)
Simulacrum and Project Image
Time Stop

Find Familiar
  You can consider finding a familiar for more HP, although it will
  probably sit in your backpack occupying valuable space all the

Protection from Undead
  Very useful against all undead. Only use it if they are not scripted
  to say something to you though (Kangaxx).

Protection from Magic
  This is ideal against powerful magic users, especially in the
  beginning of the game. Also protects against Maze and Imprisonment.

Collect the following potions:

Oil of Speed:
  Useful because of its long duration. Especially useful before you
  have the Boots of Speed, but it also increases your number of
  attacks by 1. This is especially important when using 2H weapons
  (staffs) because then your number of attacks is increased from 1 to
  2, a very significant increase. If you already had more attacks,
  then you should really try to get Improved Haste instead.

Potion of Invisibility:
  Useful mostly to backstabbers. Use it AFTER backstabbing so you
  don't have to run away from your other enemies but can backstab them
  again instead.

Potion of Power / Potion of Heroism:
  These are actually the best potions, because they provide the only
  effective way to temporarily improve THAC0. Their improvement to 
  HP and thieving skills is icing on the cake.

Potion of Master Thievery:
  Useful at the early stages of the game where your thieving skills
  may not have been developed to their maximal potential. For example,
  you may want to drink two Potions of Master Thievery before
  pickpocketing Ribald at the Adventurer's Mart.


For different purposes you probably need different weapons, but
multiple weapons are often useful for the same purpose. I group these
weapons together so that they don't have to be discussed individually.

It is sensible to keep hold of at least one weapon from each class,
for specific circumstances. Also, always hang on to the weapon with
highest enchantment you could find, to kill immune monsters or mages
who have cast Absolute Immunity type spells. (The upgraded Mace of
Disruption counts as a +5 weapon and may be the first weapon of that
high enchantment that you find.)


- For bard: Crom Faeyr (War Hammer)
  Sets STR to 25 which raises THAC0 and damage to very high

- For bard: (upgraded) Flail of Ages (Flail)
  Does elemental damage that kills Trolls and disrupts
  spellcasters. Also slows its targets: very useful since victims
  don't get a saving throw, so all enemies are affected.

- For bard: upgraded Axe of the Unyielding (Axe)
  This weapon produces a ridiculously high regeneration rate; its
  decapitation effect makes for efficient killing.

- For bard: Dak'kon's Blade
  A good general-purpose weapon that improves your AC and spell
  casting. Probably not very useful at higher levels.

- For bard: Carsomyr
  Carsomyr grants 50% MR; in combination with other equipment you can
  raise this to 100% MR so that you need not worry about magic at all
  anymore. Even if you don't raise MR higher than 50%, it is still a
  mighty bonus. Beyond that, Carsomyr dispels magic with each hit: an
  extremely useful property especially if you have no mages to Dispel
  Magic for you.

- For thief: Celestial Fury
  This is one of the best single handed weapons in SoA. It offers
  great damage and other modifiers. Give it to your thief and use it
  until you reach ToB.

- For thief: upgraded Spectral Brand
  This weapon is very suitable for backstabbing, it grants negative
  plane protection, it can raise your THAC0 by 5 for 3 rounds. As an
  added bonus, you can use it to summon a Spectral Blade which you can
  use as a decoy.

- Upgraded Mace of Disruption or Runehammer
  This is ideal against undead. You can increase the chance that they
  die instantly by casting Greater Malison on them before
  attacking. This is very useful against Greater Mummies for instance.

- Staff of the Magi
  This weapon is more effective against mages than any other. While
  they waste their time casting True Sight or raising defenses, you
  simply clobber them to death with this weapon. Even though you
  cannot use this weapon to backstab, it's Improved Invisibility makes
  it very useful to backstabbers: it gives you the opportunity to run
  away after a backstab. I found it convenient to carry another staff
  to do the actual backstabbing, good ones are the Staff of Rynn and
  the Staff of the Ram. Also see the Backstabbing section. Beyond that
  this weapon grants an AC bonus, a bonus to saving throws and a Spell
  Trap ability. Do not miss it!


- Belm, Scarlet Ninja-To or Kundane
  These weapons grant an extra attack to the main hand. Very useful to
  a rogue since rogues have so few attacks per round. Only use this
  when your THAC0 is good enough to hit your enemies with your main
  hand and occasionally with your off hand as well. If it isn't,
  switch to one of the other off hand weapons.

- Crom Faeyr (War Hammer)
  Sets STR to 25 which greatly improves the THAC0 and damage of the
  main hand weapon as well. The only way to get STR higher than 25.

- The Equalizer (Long Sword)
  Grants immunity to charm and confusion, but more importantly grants
  to hit and damage bonuses to enemies of particular alignments. These
  bonuses are applied to main hand as well as off hand, which is what
  makes this such a useful off hand weapon. To see if this weapon
  actually helps you, check out the bonus to To Hit rolls in the
  battle text.


Short bows are quite useful, especially during the early stages. I
hung on to the Tuigan Bow, Gesen Bow and Darkfire Bow. Tuigan offers
three attacks per round, which is very useful. The Gesen Bow can be
used against Adamantite Golems (although it takes a long time to kill
them with it). And the Darkfire Bow has a good THAC0 bonus, although I
have to say that I hardly ever used it.

For the bard the Robe of Vecna is best, since it significantly powers
up your spell casting while also allowing you to wear a ring or cloak
of Protection +2. If you need better AC you can use Defensive Spin
(blade) or Greater Evasion or cast Spirit Armor or Tenser's
Transformation. Heavier armour is only occasionally useful. By the end
of ToB enemies will hit you even if your AC is around -20, so by that
time it is not worth investing in.
Unfortunately the bard-specific armours are not especially useful:
Melodic Chain is just not as good as the Robe of Vecna, and Jester's
Chain disables spellcasting.  Of course, bards should always hang on
to the armour with the best AC that they can find, for those battles in
which you don't need spellcasting and AC is still beneficial. The
Corthala Family Armor and Human Flesh are also very good options.

The following armours provide good protection to a thief without
disabling stealth. The best is probably the Human Flesh armour, but you
have to be pretty evil in order to acquire it. Aeger's hide is useful
and easy to acquire. Once you have UAI, the choice is between two,
possibly unexpected solutions: if your saving throws need a boost, a
good option is to use the Robe of the ? Archmagi together with a Ring
of Protection +2 to get the same AC as with the Aeger's Hide but
boosting your saving throws by 3 at the cost of a ring slot and
elemental resistance. Under most circumstances though, the Corthala
Family Armor is better, and free (if you don't feel bad about
stripping Valygar). I consider both these options to be better than
the Shadow Dragon Scale. For optimal AC, you have to wait until Throne
of Bhaal to obtain the White Dragon Scale.

Armour                AC  Mods
White Dragon Scale    -2  50% CR
Aslyferund             0  free action
Drow Adamantine Chain  0
Grandmaster's Armor    1  fast movement (frees up your boots)
St. Leather of Thorns  1  1d4 thorns damage on each attack
Shadow Dragon Scale    1  50% AR
Corthala Family Armor  2  25% to FR, AR and MDR, charm immunity
Human Flesh            3  saving throws +4, 20% to MR [EVIL!]
Aeger's Hide           3  15% to FR, CR, AR. Confusion immune.
Robe of the ? Archmagi 5  +1 to saving throws, +5% MR, can combine
                          with the Ring/Cloak of Protection +2
The bard should use the Amulet of Power. For the thief, the Amulet of
Seldarine is best. For a thief, the Amulet of Power is only useful to
protect against level drain. The Amulet of the Master Harper is useful
to lower AC.

Before you get UAI, a good and easy solution is to go get the Pale
Green IOUN Stone from the spider freak in the Graveyard District
crypts. Once you do get UAI, don the Helm of Balduran. It is the best
helmet because all its bonuses are badly needed by any rogue. The Helm
of Defense is also very good.

Best are the Gauntlets of Extraordinary Specialization; before you
get those you can use the Gauntlets of Weapon Expertise or the
Gauntlets of Weapon Skill. Alternatively, especially during the early
game, you may want to improve your AC using the Bracers of Defense AC 3.

The Ring of Gaxx and Ring of Protection +2 are both very good because
of their two point bonus to saving throws. The Ring of Fire Control is
also useful. If you don't have the Baldurdash Fixpack installed, the
Ring of Earth Control grants an (undocumented and unintentional) bonus
to saving throws, and can be used together with magical armour.

Carry the Shield of Balduran with you for encounters with beholders.
Beyond that, keep hold of all shields with interesting mods for those
special circumstances in which they may come in handy. (Shield of
Harmony can be useful.)

Cloak of Balduran (if you have imported it from a BG1 game), Cloak of
Mirroring (there are mods to disable the annoying graphic), Cloak of
Protection +2, Cloak of Displacement, Cloak of the Sewers (-1 AC and
polymorph into a troll to regenerate HP)

Boots of Speed. If you are wearing the Grandmaster's Armor, you get
the movement rate for free, freeing up your boot slot - nice for a
thief when he has found the Gargoyle boots for their extremely useful
Stoneskin ability. But you can also swap your boots and use a better
suit of armour.


Here is a list of strategies that I found to be especially effective
during my run through the game. The first few are in fact so effective
that they become cheesy and not so much fun, so avoid those if you
feel that way.

This works for ordinary traps and even more for the traps you receive
as HLAs. Bards also receive traps als HLAs. Traps are used most
effectively against single, very powerful opponents, such as: ALL
dragons in the game, ALL Bhaalspawn (except Sendai), Demogorgon, the
Ravager and all other pocket plane challenges except the first, the
Chromatic Demon, etc, etc. The basic idea is to place about four Spike
Traps; lead the monster there, poof, dead monster. There are a number
of tips and tricks that can be applied with traps. If the enemy has
helpers who cannot see through invisibility but the target itself can,
a good trick is to walk up to them invisible so that only the intended
victim follows you to your traps. (This works well with TorGal.) In
the Throne of Bhaal challenges once you enter a challenge room you
typically don't get the time to set all those traps. You can do it
anyway by casting either Project Image or Simulacrum. Have your image
set the traps before you enter the challenge room. If you want to
defeat Demogorgon with traps, be sure to set them immediately the
first time you enter his room, because later on you won't have time to
do it.

Backstabbing and Assassination:
Bards and swashbucklers cannot backstab, so this only pertains to
plain thieves, assassins and bounty hunters. You can only backstab
with melee weapons that can be used by single class thieves without
UAI, namely daggers, katanas, scimitars, long swords, short swords,
clubs and quarterstaves. Note that you can NOT use bastard swords.
Some enemies cannot be backstabbed, most notably demons, beholders and
Bhaalspawn. Almost anything else is vulnerable. Backstabbing is
especially effective against mages, who tend to have few HP so they'll
die before they can cast spell protections.
For targets vulnerable to backstab, the way to proceed depends on
whether or not they can see through invisibility. If they cannot, then
the best strategy is to equip the Staff of the Magi in the main hand
weapon with the Staff of Rynn or the Staff of the Ram as alternate
main hand weapon. Equip the Staff of the Ram, hide, backstab, then
reequip the Staff of the Magi to become Improved Invisible. Run out of
sight of your enemies, switch to the Staff of the Ram, hide again, and
repeat until all enemies are dead. Note that the Staff of the Magi
cannot be used to backstab because it cannot be used by a single class
thief, so you should only attack with it if you want to dispel magical
If your enemies CAN see through invisibility, such as Balthazar's
monks, Sendai's army or the mercenaries who attack you when you're
making your way to Amkethran, then you can still backstab them by
using the Mislead spell. They will attack your image and not notice
while you chop them all up in quick succession. In this case you can
use any weapon that is suitable for backstab. Mislead is most
effective when there are lots of enemies, if there are only few
targets then you can also use the Assassination HLA to chop them to
bits in a few hits. Although I found that I didn't use Assassination
that much.

Simulacrum / Project Image:
You can cast Simulacrum from a scroll or using Vhailor's helm. A
Simulacrum or Image can set traps for you. A Simulacrum may also act
as a decoy or actually help you deal melee damage in battle. If you
find that your Simulacrum or Image is dispelled through a True Sight
spell, then you can prevent this from happening by equipping a Spell
Immunity scroll in your quick items. Have your Simulacrum cast it and
select Immunity: Divination. Add Immunity: Abjuration if your puppet
is dispelled rather than seen through. Notice that Simulacra and
Projected Images can cast spells from scrolls for free, so feel free
to unleash Time Stops, Gate in fiends, cast Abi Dalzim's Horrid
Wilting a couple of times or summon hordes of Mordekainen's Swords
(and don't forget to (Improved) Haste those).

Protecting yourself:
To protect yourself, get an armour that grants good AC such as the
White Dragon Scales or Shuruppak's Plate. You can combine armour with
Greater Evasion to get a really good AC. However, in late ToB monsters
will typically hit you regardless of AC. So if you find that you're
being hit anyway, switch to an armor that grants good bonuses such as
the Corthala Family Armor. Beyond AC, you can cast Protection from
Magic Weapons, Fire Shield or Stoneskins or use the Gargoyle boots. If
you find that your protections are being dispelled all the time, don't
hesitate to throw in a few Spell Immunities (Abjuration and Divination
are usually the schools you want to be safe from) and get decoys such
as a Simulacrum and/or a couple of Mordekainen's swords if things get

Level progression

Level   Experience   backstab

 1             0       x2
 2          1250
 3          2500
 4          5000         
 5         10000       x3
 6         20000
 7         40000
 8         70000         
 9        110000       x4
10        160000
11        220000
12        440000         
13        660000       x5
14        880000
15       1100000
16       1320000         
17       1540000       x6 (assassin only)
18       1760000
19       1980000
20       2200000         
21       2420000       x7 (assassin only)
22       2640000
23       2860000
24       3080000         
25       3300000                  
26       3520000                  
27       3740000
28       3960000         
29       4180000
30       4400000
31       4620000
32       4840000         
33       5060000
34       5280000
35       5300000
36       5720000         
37       5940000
38       6160000
39       6380000
40       8000000         


- Maurice Beane pointed out that the race bonuses and penalties to
  attribute points were incorrect; I have subsequently tested all of
  them in the character creation screen and it turns out that a number
  of them were different than what was listed in my source. I
  corrected all the numbers for version 1.01.

- Many thanks to the people at the Planetbaldursgate forums
  ( for proofreading
  this guide. Most corrections are due to Nibby, thanks!

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