Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Dual-Class-capable Companions in Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate 2: Imoen

Dual-Class-capable Companions in Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate 2: Imoen



Don't know what dual-classing is, or how to dual-class? I kindly refer you to my Kensage write-up, because I won't be repeating what I have written in that in-depth dual-classing guide.

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When dual-classing, the question is always "How much do I want out of the class I'm dualing from, and the class I'm dualing to?" For example, in the case of Fighter dualing to Mage, "How much Fighter, and how much Mage, do I want out of the character? Do I want that +½ ApR or do I want access to fifth circle arcane spellcasting? Maybe I just want to make my Mage less squishy, at practically no cost?"

For veterans who possess deep knowledge of mechanics, and foreknowledge of campaign structure, the answer is generally simple, but for newbies who do not, the many considerations are daunting and off-putting, perhaps to the point of "I think I'll just keep my precious companions as single-class characters. That way, they will maintain a clearly defined role in the party at all times, will always be capable in that role, and I won't be able to accidentally gimp them".

Thus, to help the newbies out (and my aging memory), this write-up will cover the dual-class-capable companions in the Bhaalspawn Saga; recommending when to dual them, what to dual them to, and providing explanations.

So let's get going with our first entry, shall we?

Imoen: Thief / Conjurer Specialist Dual-Class


So yeah, the first question is "How much thief do we want out of Imoen?" Namely, Open Locks and Find/Remove Traps, which are easily the two most important thief utility skills. It is true that Knock, a second circle arcane spell, can largely replace Open Locks, providing that we don't mind filling spell slots for utility actions which thieves can perform without limit and at no cost. As its name makes clear, the second circle divine spell, Find Traps, only reveals the trap's location; it does not remove them. Thus, since many traps cannot be walked around or otherwise easily avoided, the spell is no substitute for the skill. We certainly don't need Pick Pocket, and the Invisibility line of arcane spells renders modal Stealth more or less redundant, in that it is unlikely that Invisibility status will be dispelled, and its duration is generous (up to 24 hours!). The backstab modifier (x3 max for a dual-class of this kind under the 161,000 XP cap), is another consideration. Yes, Imoen's Strength score is a laughable 9, and she can't quaff Strength potions or wear the Gauntlets of Ogre Power as a mage, but we can buff her with arcane Strength (18/50 for 1 hour per level) or divine Strength of One (18/75 Str for 1 turn), which is pretty decent [1].
[1] While Strength is not multiplied by the backstab modifier, it is still important for accuracy and adding a l'il damage. Of course, you will be backstabbing with the Dagger of Venom, the best weapon in the IE games.

In assessing just how many points we should spend in Open Lock and Find/Remove Traps, we can also take into account readily itemized potions such as Potion of Master Thievery (+40 Open Lock & Pick Pocket for 3 hours) and Potion of Perception (+20 % bonus to all thief skills for 6 hours). I personally do not like to rely on potion-based buffs because their bonuses can be dispelled, and they will be lost upon resting. In addition, how many points we spend depends on whether or not we have, or will have, another thief in the party. If, for example, we have a dedicated thief, then we can dual-class Imoen to Conjurer as early as second level, and turn her into a full-time Mage who can also fire from the Eagle Bow. Nice.

And yes, I do recommend dualing to Conjurer due to its underwhelming Opposition School, Divination. However, I do not recommend Conjurer if Imoen is your only Mage, Edwin is your only other Mage, or if you don't have a Bard in the party, such as Garrick, for their incredibly convenient Lore. The reason? Identify, a first circle Divination, is very useful in the campaign (especially when you're delving Durlag's Tower, or are adventuring in far-flung regions, away from vendors with ID capability). In that case, you might want to dual-class Imoen into another Specialist, or just make her a Generalist. As a Generalist, Imoen will be able to cast any spell, but she will miss out on the bonus spell slot per circle that Specialists enjoy. 

So, with all that said, let's have a look at when to dual-class Imoen. Remember, we are working within a 161,000 XP cap.

Thief 2nd (1,250 XP): This is the "To hell with thief skills, I just want Imoen to be a Mage" choice. That said, she can fire a bow as a Mage (2 flat ApR), she can backstab x2, and her skills are as follows: Open Locks (25), Stealth (30), Find Traps (50), Pick Pocket (25). Note that, with such skill levels, we can still force her into a thief role if we really need to (by virtue of the abovementioned potions). Basically, it cost us almost nothing to get this added potentiality for what is essentially a full-time Mage with circles 1-5 arcane spellcasting: an active dual-class after 6,250 total XP (1,250 for 2 levels of thief and 5,000 for 3 levels of Mage). Assuming Specialist, arcane circle spell slots cap out as follows for what becomes Thief (2) / Conjurer (9): 5-4-4-3-2. Thus, we lost no spell slots over a pure Specialist Mage. Not bad, huh? 

But maybe, for reasons of convenience, we would at least like to max Find/Remove Traps, which is the most important thief skill in the campaign?

Thief 5th (10,000 XP): This gives us 100 points in Find/Remove Traps, another 10 points in Open Locks, and +1 to our backstab multiplier (x3). We will be casting Knock, buffing with potions, or relying on another thief in order to unlock doors and chests. No biggie. However, this costs us 50,000 in downtime. Assuming Specialist, arcane circle spell slots cap out as follows for what becomes Thief (5) / Conjurer (9): 5-4-4-3-2. Thus, we actually lost no spell slots over the above dual by adding such utility and acute DPS, but we pay for it with downtime. 

In fact, thanks to the speed of thief level progression, we can advance to 6th and still maintain 5-4-4-3-2 spell slots, but we are increasing our downtime just for extra thief skills (two out of four of which can be substituted by arcane spells; Pick Pocket barely even mattering). The maximum thief level we can attain under the 161k cap is 7th (40k), but we still can't max both Open Locks and Find/Remove Traps, we don't hit the quadruple backstab multiplier (9th level or 110k), and we miss out on fifth circle arcane spellcasting, which is bad.

Thus, to sum up, if you just want Imoen as a Mage who can fire shortbows, dual at 2nd. But if you want her to max the most important thief skill in the game (Find/Remove Traps), and attain x3 backstab as a l'il icing on the cake, dual at 5th.

Note that you can't dual-class to Specialists in BG2 or BG running in the BG2 engine (Tutu, BGT, EE). You can only dual to a Generalist Mage. Original BG, ftw!


3 comments:

  1. Going up to Lvl 6 as a Thief for a few more skills is a very viable build, and might make sense if Imoen is going to be the only thief in the party It is also possible to dual Imoen at Lvl 7, but I doubt I would recommend it since it would prevent one getting a mage level higher than 8, as well as preventing one from having both classes active until very late in the game.

    I cannot see much reason to make Imoen a generalist if playing a version of the game that does not require that. It is all but certain that there will be some spell school you can afford to give up (though as you note exactly which school will depend on who else is in the party).

    Coran makes an excellent partner for a dual-classed Imoen, as she can then focus entirely on Find Traps, leaving the other thief skills for him (Find Traps being the one where Coran is weak - strangely IIRC none of the NPC thieves other than Imoen start with very good Find Traps scores despite that being the most crucial thief skill), and being such a good archer he is a strong addition to the party quite apart from his thieving skills.

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    Replies
    1. Good points. And I generally do go for the Imoen/Coran combo.

      SPECIALISTS AVAILABLE TO A DUAL-CLASSING IMOEN (incl. Opposition School and Opposition School spells):

      Conjurer
      ◦ Opposition School: Divination
      Identify, Infravision, Know Alignment, Detect Evil, Detect Invisibility, Clairvoyance

      Enchanter
      ◦ Opposition School: Invocation
      Magic Missile, Chromatic Orb, Stinking Cloud, Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Cloudkill

      Illusionist
      ◦ Opposition School: Necromancy
      Chill Touch, Larloch's Minor Drain, Horror, Ghoul Touch, Skull Trap, Vampiric Touch, Spirit Armor

      Invoker
      ◦ 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

      Transmuter
      ◦ Opposition School: Abjuration
      Protection from Evil, Protection from Petrification, Resist Fear, Dispel Magic, Non-Detection, Protection from Normal Missiles, Minor Globe of Invulnerability

      I would be hesitant to dual Imoen to anything other than Conjurer/Transmuter.

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    2. Skull Trap is a good spell but there are alternatives to it, so Illusionist is not a bad choice either (though perhaps I only think so because I frequently play gnomes in IE games and thus am accustomed to coping with the Illusionist's limitations). And while I would not recommend it from a pure power-building perspective, playing Enchanters can be a lot of fun. Since they lack access to most of a mage's standard workhorse spells this specialty forces one to think outside the box a bit in terms of coming up with good tactics.

      Delete

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