Friday, 29 June 2018

Baldur's Gate Specialist Mage Schools

Formerly a comment on Specialist Mage Schools available to a dual-classing Imoen, I have decided to expand the write-up to cover all Schools. This is for self-reference purposes, since I can never remember which spells I will miss out on if I choose a Specialist school. For example, as a Conjurer, I won't be able to cast Divinations, but what spells does that include, exactly?

Note that Specialists can still employ spells of their Opposition School, but only by casting from scrolls or by waving wands. For example, Xzar the Necromancer, who can't scribe Illusion spells to his spellbook in order to cast them conventionally, may nevertheless cast Mirror Image from a scroll (at full caster level). Xan, who can't cast Fireball conventionally, may nevertheless wave the Wand of Fire to great effect.

I have highlighted key spells in pink. Further to that, I have bolded what I consider to be the Absolute Best Spells. Of course, you need to factor in party composition and preferred tactics. Remember that Bards are treated as Generalists, meaning they have access to the spells of all Schools. However, while I do love Bards and recognize their faster level progression and ability to reach one level higher than Mages (meaning that a few spells with level-based variables are more effective when cast by Bards), they are not capable of the sheer arcane output of Specialist Mages, who receive several extra spell slots and can advance to the fifth circle in order to cast spells such as Cloudkill, Chaos and MS III.

Abjurer (prereq: Wis 15)
Opposition School: Alteration
◦ Burning Hands, Color Spray, Shocking Grasp, Knock, Strength, Vocalize, Haste, Slow, Dimension Door
◦ I have never tried an Abjurer due to the Wis 15 prereq. You could certainly get by as one, though.

Conjurer (prereq: Con 15)
Opposition School: Divination 
Identify, Infravision, Know Alignment, Detect Evil, Detect Invisibility, Clairvoyance
◦ Edwin (Imoen).
◦ This is my go-to Specialization because I always roll with another caster capable of casting Identify (including a Bard on top of that for their Lore).

Diviner (prereq: Wis 16)
Opposition School: Conjuration
Armor, Flame Arrow, Grease, Melf's Acid Arrow, Monster Summoning I, Ghost Armor, Monster Summoning II, Monster Summoning III
Armor is bread-and-butter and MS III is extremely powerful.

Enchanter (prereq: Cha 16)
Opposition School: Invocation / Evocation
Magic Missile, Chromatic Orb, Shield, Web, Agannazar's Scorcher, Stinking Cloud, Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Cloudkill
◦ Xan (Imoen and Safana dual)
◦ Losing the best AoE immobilizer and the best single-target immobilizer (CO: Stun) is pretty harsh. Losing Fireball isn't a huge deal (wands), but the loss of Cloudkill could be hurtful in the latter stages of the campaign, or in Durlag's Tower.

Illusionist (prereq: Dex 16)
◦ Opposition School: Necromancy
◦ Chill Touch, Larloch's Minor Drain, Horror, Ghoul Touch, Skull Trap, Vampiric Touch, Spirit Armor
◦ Quayle (Imoen and Safana dual)
◦ Necromancy isn't strong in BG. Animate Dead isn't itemized for arcane spellcasters and, while Skull Trap is great, I can do without it.

Invoker (prereq: Con 16)
Opposition School: Enchantment and Conjuration
Enchantment: Charm Person, Friends, Sleep, Luck, Hold Person, Dire Charm, Confusion, Emotion, Greater Malison, Chaos, Domination, Hold Monster, Feeblemind ◦ Conjuration: Armor, Flame Arrow, Grease, Melf's Acid Arrow, Monster Summoning I, Ghost Armor, Monster Summoning II, Monster Summoning III
◦ Dynaheir (Imoen dual)
◦ The worst Specialization ever: a loss of two schools! No Sleep and no Emotion (Sleep on steroids). Not to mention a great loss to Divide & Conquer power. Still, maybe you're up for a challenge?

Necromancer (prereq: Wis 16)
Opposition School: Illusion
Blindness, Blur, Invisibility, Mirror Image, Improved Invisibility
◦ Xzar
◦ I generally dual Xzar to Cleric due to his inability to protect himself with Mirror Image. A Mage can easily die in a waylay without Mirror Image.

Transmuter (prereq: Dex 15)
Opposition School: Abjuration
◦ Protection from Evil, Protection from Petrification, Resist Fear, Dispel Magic, Non-Detection, Protection from Normal Missiles, Minor Globe of Invulnerability
◦ Imoen and Safana dual
◦ An underwhelming Opposition School. Resist Fear and Dispel Magic are divine spells, too. You may feel the loss of MGoI, though.

Specialist Ranking (best to worst):

1. Conjurer (Edwin)
2. Transmuter
3. Illusionist (Quayle)
4. Diviner
5. Abjurer
6. Enchanter (Xan)
7. Necromancer (Xzar)
8. Invoker (Dynaheir)

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