Monday, 11 September 2017

Baldur's Gate 2 BG2 Best Character Builds Ranger Cleric Dual-Classing Guide Archer Cleric and Stalker Cleric

Baldur's Gate 2 BG2 Best Character Builds - Ranger Cleric Dual-Classing Guide Archer Cleric and Stalker Cleric



Shadows of Amn never allowed you to dual-class to kits but it always allowed you to dual from kits. Originally, this included Archer or Stalker to Cleric but in the Throne of Bhaal expansion BioWare removed that capability. But since the Ranger can still be dual-classed into Cleric in ToB (multi-class is also an option), and since other kits can dual-class, I think this represents an unnecessary change by BioWare.

Luckily, fixing this yourself is pretty easy; you don't need a mod. And really, following the below process is probably going to be quicker than finding out what mod does the same thing, and then downloading and installing it. And I guess this short guide is for people who just want to mod the dual-classing rule in DualClas.2DA back to the way it was in Shadows of Amn, and not play around or be tempted by anything else. That said, don't modify anything else in the 2da unless you know 100% exactly what you are doing. Expect BG2 to glitch out and crash if you try to modify its core files in ways that were not intended by BioWare. Back up your override beforehand if you're worried about mucking something up!

Ok, let's do this!

• Navigate to your BG2 install folder, open the Override folder, and look for DualClas.2DA.

• Open DualClas.2DA in a text editor such as Notepad++ (right-click the 2da and tell it to open as a text file in Notepad++).

• Scroll down the text file and you will see the following two lines:

FERALAN 0 0 0 0 0 0
STALKER 0 0 0 0 0 0

• Now, change it to this:

FERALAN 0 1 0 0 0 0
STALKER 0 1 0 0 0 0

• Save the file.

That's it! Your Archer and Stalker kits can now once again dual-class into Cleric, just like in Shadows of Amn and just like the base Ranger can.

Of course, backstab-capable Clerics are limited to Quarterstaffs and Clerics are limited to Slings for ranged weapons, but there are some great quarterstaffs and slings itemized in the campaign, such as Rynn, Ram, Seeking and Everard (see below). 

Archer & Stalker/ Cleric Dual-Classes



Starting stats should be as follows: 18/91-18-18-dump-18-dump. Archers should get Grandmastery in Short Bow [1] and Stalkers should Specialize in Quarterstaff and Two-Handed Weapon Style. 

[1] What the - why? Clerics cannot even wield bows! Before the dual-classing takes place Archers should fire from a Short Bow for +1 ApR (+2 under Improved Haste). GM in Short Bow will also enable them to dodge a proficiency allocation bug which will not allow you to level your Cleric later in the campaign; that is, you must spend every proficiency point available to you in levelup mode but you won't have enough proficiency allocations to do so; thus, you cannot level up! (You could also employ Shadowkeeper to remove proficiencies and free up allocations.) At the end of the day all you want is Specialization in Sling but there is nothing wrong with having GM: Short Bow in the meantime, is there.  Especially since the Tuigan Short Bow bestows +2 ApR over the Sling (+4 ApR under Improved Haste).

I would suggest a Racial Enemy that sports low AC and is no push-over. You could factor in common enemies but they are usually dead easy to take out. Thus, it's probably going to be a toss-up between Dragon, Vampire or Demon/Fell. My order of preference would be such. You will receive a 4-point THAC0 bonus against your chosen RE. Yes, the bonus is not huge but you may as well choose wisely.

Playstyle for the Archer is stealth and snipe. First, the Archer's Called Shot special abilities stack with each hit and their on-hit negative status effects flaunt solid durations, scale with level and are also cumulative. Thus, the Called Shot of a 16th level Archer inflicts -1 THAC0, -1 save vs. Magic, -1 Strength and +2 dmg on the target per hit. Not too shabby. An Archer 12 dual-class (we dual at 13 for full warrior ApR) will get the two best ones: THAC0 and Strength drain. Now, an enemy whose Ability Score (Str, Dex etc.) has been drained will just die; any deep HP pool is simply bypassed. Either rely on ApR or increase killspeed by casting a Strength debuff on the victim first. Of these, Ray of Enfeeblement is the most notable as it lowers the target's Strength to 5, making them easy pickings.

Second, strength damage modifier of the character is applied to the Sling of Seeking +2 and the Sling of Everard +5, both of which are itemized early in the campaign (both in the Copper Coronet, actually). Strength bonus means you're self-buffing with Draw Upon Holy Might and Righteous Magic for 25 Strength (they stack with each other) in order to make your bullets penetrate engine blocks. DUHM's +Dex buffs your THAC0, too. Moreover, the weapon damage roll is going to be maxed with RM, so with nothing but one of those slings in hand you will be inflicting about 30 dmg hits and 60 on crits, which is monstrous. Aside from unlocking the full divine repertoire, this is why you would dual to Cleric rather than roll with a single-classed Archer. I'm not saying Archer/Clerics are better archers than single-classed Archers; they're not. They just get their damage a different way (divine buffs), and it's fun to experiment with these things.

Note that only the Sling of Seeking +2 and Sling of Everard +5 apply the bonus strength damage (Erinne +5 and Arvoreen +3 do not). Also note that conventional ammo stacks with Everard's auto-ammo, making it the most damaging sling and one of the most damaging ranged weapons in the campaign (conventional ammo also stacks with Firetooth, Gesen and Tansheron auto-ammo). SoA itemizes +2 bullets and ToB itemizes +3 and +4 bullets (1d4+5). Elemental bullets are rare (Sunstone Bullets add +2 fire and can be found in the Temple Ruins and Watcher's Keep). Anyway, your THAC0 should be -9 (buffed only with DUHM and RM) and your attack rate should be 6 ApR under Improved Haste. Fully buffed, you should reach about -20 THAC0 by end-game. Such a THAC0 is comparable to a single-classed 34th level Archer wielding the Gesen Short Bow with 21 Dex, and enables you to hit AC gods like Abazigal.

This setup is not OP in comparison to other setups I've covered, but it's most certainly solid. Plus, how cool is it to wield a SLING with 25 Strength, max weapon dmg roll and cumulative debuffs!

Playstyle for Stalker is stealth and backstab: it's pretty underwhelming in comparison to the Archer. Again, DUHM will add the 25 Str modifier to the backstab (not multiply it) and Righteous Magic will ensure maxed weapon damage roll (which will be multiplied). This is similar to Kensai Kai but for a duration of 1 round per level! Get the Staff of Rynn +4 from Ribald ASAP. The Staff of Striking bought in Tradmeet is also great but you will want the Staff of the Ram in the end for its +6 enchantment and flat +10 crushing bonus with Knockback/Stun. See also Best Weapons.

Of course, full divine spellcasting (circles 1-7) is a varied playstyle in itself, allowing for buffing, debuffing, tanking, warding, healing, summoning, disablement and direct damage. Buffing has been covered above but warding is also strong thanks to Chaotic Commands, Negative Plane Protection, Protection from Evil 10' Radius, Free Action and Death Ward. Summoning is solid due to Skeleton Warriors (caster level 12) and the Deva which is capable of on-hit undead disruption. You will get the Elemental Princes of the Druid, too. Lastly, tanking is supreme due to Armor of Faith stacking with itself, Iron Skins mitigating a lot of damage, and Regeneration doubling its rate under Improved Haste.

Wait - Regeneration and Ironskins? Yes, Ranger duals and multis erroneously gain access to Druid circle spells above third in addition to the Cleric ones, and their kits are no different. That means they boast of the greatest spell range possible in the Bhaalspawn Saga: 12-14-17-17-17-14-24 (+3 Stalker arcane spells). To be clear, those are not spell slots per circle but spell ranges; that is, they are the number of unique spells per circle that a Ranger/Cleric gets access to. See below for spell slots.

All of the duals treated below get to select each of the HLAs spells; that is, Summon Deva, Energy Blades, Globe of Blades, Elemental Summoning, Aura of Flaming Death, Mass Raise Dead, Storm of Vengeance and Implosion.

Turn Undead will hit 30+ and thus allow for the disruption of liches and even demi-liches.

Here is a breakdown for dual downtimes and what you get for suffering through them.

Ranger 7th (75,000 XP): Dual downtime equates to 110,000. Rangers begin at seventh level in SoA. Thus, one may dual-class to Cleric straight out of the cage and have their dual active by Chapter One. Seven levels of Ranger gets you +½ ApR, 108 HPs and solid starting Stealth which is easily boosted by items. The Archer THAC0 and damage bonus is +2 and their Called Shot x1 inflicts -1 THAC0 on the target. Stalker backstab is x1! Thus, one would never dual-class Stalkers at 7. Divine circle spell slots cap out as follows for what becomes Ranger 7/Cleric 39: 12-12-11-11-9-8-7.

Ranger 9th (300,000): Dual downtime equates to 450,000 which is still easily manageable. Nine levels of Ranger nets full warrior HD for +28 HPs, a two-point THAC0 reduction and more Stealth. The Archer THAC0 and damage bonus is +2 and their Called Shot x2 inflicts -1 save vs. Spell on the target. Stalker backstab is x2. Divine circle spell slots cap out as follows for what becomes Ranger 9/Cleric 39: 11-11-10-10-9-8-7.

Ranger 13th (1,500,000): Dual downtime equates to 1,350,000 which is not as easy to overcome. That said, thirteen levels of Ranger nets us +1/2 ApR, a 4 point THAC0 reduction and +12 HPs. The Archer THAC0 and damage bonus is +4 and their Called Shot x3 inflicts -1 to Strength on target. This allows for Strength drain kills especially if your Mage casts Ray of Enfeeblement on the victim beforehand. Unfortunately, Stalker backstab remains at x2 and while 12th level Stalkers net Haste, Protection From Normal Missiles and Minor Spell Deflection arcane spells, they are utterly useless in balanced parties (but yeah, they do carry over to the Cleric spellbook once the dual is active). Divine circle spell slots cap out as follows for what becomes Ranger 13/Cleric 36: 11-11-10-9-9-8-6.

• Ranger 16th (2,400,000): Another sweetspot for the Archer but dual downtime equates to 2,025,000. Warrior base THAC0 is 5. The Archer THAC0 and damage bonus is +4, Called Shot x4 inflicts a further +2 damage on the target, and here the scaling of the ability stops. Divine circle spell slots cap out as follows for what becomes Archer 16/Cleric 31: 12-11-10-11-9-8-5.

• Ranger 17th (2,700,000): Dual downtime equates to 2,250,000. This is the level that nets the Stalker x3 backstab. Divine circle spell slots cap out as follows for what becomes Stalker 17/Cleric 3111-11-10-10-9-8-5.

Ranger 21st (3,900,000): Dual downtime equates to 3,150,000. Someone make it stop! This is as far as it goes, I promise. The Archer THAC0 and damage bonus is +7. Called Shot x5. Warrior base THAC0 caps out at 0. Divine circle spell slots cap out as follows for what becomes Archer 21/Cleric 2612-11-10-11-9-8-3. You get four Fighter HLAs which unlocks Greater Whirlwind (10 ApR), Critical Strike (6 crits per round) and Smite (Knockback and Stun) plus five Cleric HLAs.

Thus, the sweetspot for the Archer is 13th and for the Stalker there isn't really an attractive dual-point: you're either content with max weapon roll backstab x2 and the ability to cast both Cleric and Druid spells (it works; power-gaming isn't everything), or you go for x3 backstab.

Note that one could simply Shadowkeep the Archer and Stalker kits into a Cleric multi-class and be done with it. :P This would mean no downtime and give you the full 11-point THAC0 and dmg bonuses of the Archer along with all the Fighter and Cleric HLAs. Suffice to say, it would be grossly OP. Alternatively, you could install Westley Weimer's Tactics Modification Pack for its Generic Archer Kit for the Fighter base class, which naturally allows you to dual-class (not just to Cleric but to Mage, Druid and Thief also) and gives you faster level progression. (You don't have to install the tactical components of the mod.) Again, OP.

Can Valygar dual to Cleric now? No, he lacks the Wisdom. And after reading what I've written here on Stalker duals you probably wouldn't want to bother, anyway. Just give him Celestial Fury and set him a backstab target.

EoP

3 comments:

  1. looking at Sling of Everard in DLTCEP, 'Use Strength' is not ticked so it doesn't appear that the STR bonus is applied to any sling besides the Sling of Seeking. Possibly an erroneous conclusion drawn from the exploit of double dipping phantom ammo + real ammo that you mention in the next paragraph.

    Doesn't really change the point of the article though, as Everard/Seeking are still best in slot for an archer cleric d/t adding extra damage, though which is better becomes a bit more nebulous.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I should note that this is in reference to the classic edition, and not EE which I have no experience with. I have heard that STR damage applies to thrown daggers in EE which is also not the case in classic so it's possible that it's simply another change introduced by beamdog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While I did specifically check the damage of the slings in-game, it is possible that I made an error on Everard. And yes, all of my pro-tip/retrospective write-ups are for the original Infinity Engine games, as released and patched by BioWare/Black Isle.

      Delete

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