With a small group of Forgotten Realms fans at Shrimprefuge, we decided to take on the Baldur’s Gate world using only one character (hence “solo”). For most of us, this will be the first solo run so I figured we (and other readers) could use a report writeup as the characters progress through the game. Before picking the class bard and kit blade, I did some basic research on how to play and which strategy should work - and which won’t. The most resourceful report was definitely andijvieschotel ’s one from the BioWare forums. Thanks to him, I managed to get through some very otherwise tough portions of the game, especially in the beginning. Let’s get on with it, shall we.
For those who are not very familiar with Bards in Baldur’s Gate, here is the official kit description. The blade is an expert fighter and adventurer, whose bardic acting abilities make him appear more intimidating and fearsome. His fighting style is flashy and entertaining, but is also quite deadly.
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 armor 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.
After a few decent rolls, I managed to create a character with enough STR, DEX, CON and INT points to cast a decent amount of spells and be protected with enough AC. Too bad a minimum of 15 CHA is required. She’s a half-elf since we can only choose between Human and Half-elf (with a minor infrasion bonus, nothing special), Neutral Good. Here is the statistic screen without leveling:
Right. Let’s face the most difficult part of the game right now: the first dungeon. Since you’re soloing, you should even watch out for a mob of stupid goblins as your THAC0 will be around 18 at level 7 and you won’t hit most stuff unless you activate Offensive Spin. Learn this skill and learn it well since this is your best friend. I tested it out against the first mephit and it went down quickly - I inflicted about 16 damage when hitting. The ogre mage defeated me a couple of times. A lot of teeth grinding will be required here: you don’t have access to any spells before resting and there are only 2 spins available at level 7 (one more at 8). Wow! Forget about dual wielding right now, pick a shield and katana and move. (I’ve put 3 points into dual wielding, one in short bows and one in katanas)
As soon as the first mob of goblins is dead, I head for the golem chamber and after that go for the short bow. Watch out for traps and locks: bashing at 18 STR isn’t nearly enough (use Draw upon Holy Might). Anyway, after luring a couple of mephits to me and 20 minutes of missing and hitting the beast, I finally have access to another interesting weapon: the quarterstaff +1 in the big box, which will be used to defeat the otyguth later. Rest time: Skull Trap and Mirror Image are the most important spell picks.
Armed with the shortbow, I manage to lure most second and third goblin mobs in pieces to the main hallway, where I snipe them one by one (after a lot of running and hiding). I now have access to the library but after trying to enter it with some buff spells I end up reloading very fast. Damn those mephits. However, casting invisibility and standing behind the strongest one (who casts Hold Person or whatever), activating Offensive Spin and whacking away works for the most part. Until you get overwhelmed. Plan B: run like crazy, cast Melfs Minute Meteors halfway and hurl the stones at the beasts.
The duergar to the North of the library are easily defeated if you cast Skull Trap in the center of the room (near the mage who starts casting illusions on himself). If you time it well enough, most enemies will get caught and destroyed. Those who run can be dealt with using the short bow. Watch out for the leader though. I flet, activated my second spin and killed him. To the south of the library is an Otyguth, but it’s too dangerous to approach him from that side. So I backtracked to the crystal area and took the small east hallway filled with more goblins (snipe them one by one). Equip the quarterstaff (extended reach), cast Flame Arrow from a scroll I found (badly wounded) and whack away. Sadly some mephit spoiled the fun and killed me.
The third try was a success.
The cambion holds a bastard sword +1 which can be sold in the Promenade for a decent amount of gold, but I don’t have much inventory space left. Anyway, disarm his shield, activate DEfensive spin (no offensive left, AC -9 is nice! Although I had major trouble hitting him too) and watch. 30 minutes and 2 health potions later I could finally loot his corpse. Made it to the dryads, got the acorns and gathered more health potions to disarm Irenicus’ traps. I had to reload a couple of times as the fireball instantly killed me twice - argh. Helmet of Balduran will be handy for the HLA Use Any Item - amulet of metaspell influence equipped. Cleared the (too many) goblin mob with a Fireball scroll (pfew).
Whoops, I forgot the lesser clay golem guards! Luckily, the last defensive spin + a speed oil quickly kills them (with the needed health potions, again…). I decided to go back to the air portal and help the Djinni - not before resting. Cast invisibility, silently walk past the first two mephits, grab the air elemental scroll and summon him. He cleared the rest of the portal for me - luckily without getting killed. Another junk item to sell for +/- 1.000 gold.
After meeting Yoshimo, I decided I could make use of his trap skills, especially with the enormous amount of those lying around in the area. Whatever - I kept him to act as a meat shield and decoy. Too bad I can’t rip his katana, hehe. Rest time. The mephit portals in the next room proved to be impossible to defeat without the powerful ranged spell minute meteors - again. I entered the area with Yoshimo and everybody immediately attacked him. Sneaked further and stood to the North next to the door while throwing my meteors at the portals. They went down very quickly, oof. The blurry mephit did give me enough trouble, I luckily never went out of healing potions. Armed with my short bow and Yoshimo as a shield and decoy, the assassin in the tube room was easy to defeat.
I still couldn’t even hit the lowly assassins in the hallway, this proved to be very frustrating… A good thing my arrows sometimes hit - only for lowly 3-4 damage. Offensive spin time. Whack, dead, horray. Good, next area is the trap area. I disarmed them all (Yoshimo + portal keys) and grabbed the Ring of Protection +1 to find out I can’t use it… (Wearing mail of the dead +2 on and off - first casting buffs + meteors, then wearing it. You can’t re-equip armor during combat, sadly.) I helped the fake prisoner and placed Yoshimo in the doorway. Two magic missiles killed him outright. Whoo, this place can be completely ripped empty: scrolls and a lot of potions. I was level 10 by that time (just before going to level 2 of the dungeon).
To get the anti-crushing-belt I had to kill another group of duergars. Good thing I didn’t use invisibility yet. First killed the goblins with help of Yoshimo and my bow. Then cast Mirror Image, invisibility, stood behind the mage, activated offensive spin (I had three now) and killed him in one hit. Yoshimo entered the fight, but not before I slaughtered the other ones without getting too much damage. Too bad the spin doesn’t last very long. Onwards, to the exit! (On the way killing more assassins using scrolls & defensive spin). Bye bye for now, Yoshimo, thanks for unlocking all chests!
Ahh, finally - Athkatla. Upon entering Waukeens Promenade, Imoen is stupid enough to cast a few magic missiles on Irenicus. Anyway after the cut-scene, I first head to the closest empty house: Cernds former home. I dump most of my not-useful-yet items like Baldurans helmet and the Pommel jewel in here. After using the potion of master thievery I found on one of the assassin corpses in the dungeon, I managed to steal the ring of regeneration from Ribald in Adventure’s Markt. A lot ot commoners and guards carry some junk I sell to make some profit. Before heading to the Slums, I first rest in the Den and head towards the Circus Tent. Solved the riddle and moved on.
The next room is full of werewolves and shadows (who cast horror, doom, and more charming stuff on you). I had to reload at least 7 times in order to do it right… First buff up by casting Draw upon Holy might, Mirror Image and invisibility. Get behind the first shadow in the lower right area (make sure the enemies on the left side of the area do NOT spot you or you’re doomed!). Kill him using offensive spin which reveals your position. Three other werewolves jump at my katana (+1 I bought from Ribald, good thing - to hit the shadows) and die pretty quickly thanks to the still active spin. Lure the next couple of enemies and use another spin. The top floor is not so tough: cast one Skull Trap on the left side of Kalah. Unfortunately, it also hit Quaile but he didn’t die. Kalah casted magic missile on him and after that the mustard jelly was gone. Whoops. Whatever, I’m not going to reload just for that. The ring of human influence and a stoneskin spell are mine.
Before starting the slaves quest in the Copper Coronet, I first talked to Mae’Vars friends. Bought a potion of master thievery, walked to the Coronet and got upstairs to pick up Gloves of the master thief which increases my pickpocket value by 20%. Walked back again and stole almost everything from the poor guy after drinking a second master thievery potion. Ha, I imagined I could use some scrolls and upgrades while facing the improved guards there so I first traveled to the Docks to sell my stolen junk to the thief there. After a couple of on- and off runnings, I managed to acquire 35.000 gold and Immediately bought the Zerth Blade (Katana +2, AC+1, 1-4 extra spell slot) from the bonus merchant - and Aegis’ Hide +3 which grants immunity to charm and such. On the way back to the Promenade, I stumbled upon “enemies”. One cloudkill scroll eliminated the entire group and I looted a short sword +2 (grants Free Action - VERY useful later on).
Since the Coronet guards now include more 7 extra “mage guards” which can cast haste, prot. from missiles, power word: sleep and another enchantment spell I had to be very very careful. After resting in the inn, I fully buffed up, including my precious new stoneskin spell. The guard stopped me and called his friends: the fun begins. (After 3 failed attempts that is) Anyway since I also stole a lot of useful scrolls from the Bookkeper in Waukeens, I cast Domination on the first mage I saw - successfully. Made him cast haste & prot. from missiles on me and send him into the hands of his 7+ angry friends. Cast Confusion from another scroll, activated offensive spin and whacked away. Most regular guards in the back died, good.
Second problem: walking back, more than 6 new guards came in and ambushed me. Armed with my stolen shortbow +1 and arrows +2, I lured them in the hallway and picked them off one by one. The last, and biggest mob had been killed with my Skull Trap. Including some commoners in the tavern area. Whoops… Reload. After a few tries and a few offensive spins, they all died. I constantly swapped between dual wielding Zerth +2/Kanta +1 and the short sword to counter the mages hold spells.
Last but not least, the beastmaster. Cast meteors and killed the Winter Wolf. I was stupid enough to forget about the cages and walk right into his trap, but not before casting the second domination scroll. The released animals killed the beastmaster (lol! Go figure) and I flet - on my way out killing some pets with leftover meteors. Another 2 bears and the minotaur came after me but I hold my stance using defensive spin and way too much health potions. I was too lazy to reload so… Hendrak killed the bad guy with the help of my second meteor ammo. Yay! I bought the Azuredge axe from the barman after that, to kill liches later on. Save, loot and sell, and rest time.
Before taking on the whole sewers beneath the Coronet and facing some tough crowded places, I thought I’d better do something else. Since I am hunting for equipment, Bladesinger chain would be very welcome. But alas, I can’t take on the Planar Prison right now. Stuck in the Bridge district, I thought it would be easy XP to quickly finish the Tanner quest. Not that easy, really. Anyway, initiated the quest and got to the place of the crime scene. Tanner shows up and I cast Magic Missiles just for the heck of it. He flees to the cellar. The place is completely filled with traps, I had to drink at least 4 health potions and rebuff completely before continuing. Good thing Mirror Image really helps against the traps.
Once down the mini port, I quickly ram on the spacebar and start casting a Skull Trap right away, facing the first (and only visible) rune assassin. Oh and before heading down, I pre-cast my stolen True Sight scroll (from a commoner in the Copper Coronet? Strange!) as these guys love to gulp invisibility potions and backstab you to the Nine Hells. Bad luck today.
Tanner disappears, skull trap fires and the first one is injured. I flee back upstairs and the two ghasts follow. Meleed them to death, got back down, fired a magic missile at the injured assassin and started bashing him with offensive spin. Thank god for stoneskin and Mirror Image + blur. Sadly those things wear off quickly when constantly attacked like now. First guy dies, I flee again to recast my buffs (last spell memorizations…) by re-equipping my armor just before the second assassin pops up upstairs. He died quickly after that. The whole process took me 7 damned tries, argh!
Got another level by killing them - 12 right now. Good, another weapon speciality pip to spend: after 5 minutes of thinking, I pumped it into longswords (daystar and other stuff). Although I’t be easy to use axes for the recently acquired Azuredge, but I also want scimitars. That’s post Watchers Keep thinking. Okay, let’s kill some more slaver guards now. Rested in Coronet, entered the sewers fully buffed up. I completely forgot about the stupid Gnoll mobs slowly killing me. Shit. Reload #1. Since they’re cluttered together, one good aimed Skull Trap killed most of them, plus my (again stolen, haha!) Acid Arrows with the beastmasters’ bow (3 attacks/round) killed them. The only problem was the second wave of bad guys - the shaman and his staff. Quickly switched to my anti-hold-person short sword off-hand and cast Minute Meteors to kill them. The 6 left meteors were used to eliminate the second otyguth and one mustard jelly. The next jelly killed me again… How the heck do these things 30 damage? Wow. 3th try, dead. Good.
acquired Lilarcor on the way out, only to find out the stupid blade sells for just 600 GP, bah. The experience is mine anyway. Okay, I really should have rested here, but I didn’t: there was still one skull trap, one full range of buffs and 3 magic missiles left. Stupid as I was, I entered the slavers hold using the sewers… To find out I’m being overpowered by 5 guards, a mage, a cleric and their leader. I quickly jam on spacebar (that button rocks!) and target the first one I see with a well placed Acid Arrow. Fleeing back to the sewers, hoping some would follow and some wouldn’t. The trick worked, but only the leader came after me. Keep ranged distance, hurl 3 missiles at him + finish off with bow. (Drink health potion after of course!) Most of my protection (stoneskin) was still active, so I re-entered the hold.
Most enemies were gathered together, ready to attack me. But that was my chance: using a cloudkill scroll (I love stolen things), I killed 80% of the enemies and flet again. Three guards came after me: offensive spin = dead. I waited a while and went back up to find out the rest has been killed too due to the poison clouds of cloudkill. Good! Next, the most difficult ones: 2 trolls in the cage. Opened the door after using an oil of speed, activated defensive spin and hoped for the best. The battle took 15 minutes (I hate my high THAC0) but I killed them both. Reputation +1. The 3 mages at the entrance were dealt with using ranged hit & run tactics - but they got me twice with Acid Arrow. Had to reload too, good thing I know where the Quicksave button is. The mage left my first useful cloak:Of Protection +1. Do not touch the bookshelf! The trap instantly killed me. Hehehe. Lured the two Yuan-Tu’s one by one and hoped for the best - and they died.
Cloudkill works wonders. Too bad my Mirror Image is gone now. Shopping/stealing time x2. I bought 8 potions of master thievery from Mae’Vars shopkeep and stole a bunch of items throughout the whole town. With the acquired money, I bought items to be used later: the Scimularium helm, Baldurans shield and sword (ha, 10% magic resistance. Good, I didn’t waste the longsword proficiency point), Robe of Vecna, braces of defense AC4, Girdle of stone giant Strength (wow, -2 THAC0 bonus. Finally something useful) and such. I still have 80.000 GP left and I payed Gaelen 15.000. Amazing… This helps a lot, I finally have -4 AC without wearing armor (bye bye annoying switching between armors. Kept Aegis’ Hide for the confusion immunity though). Cromwell also made me a Ring of Preservation +2 (+2AC/Saving throws, regen 1HP/6sec) using Aran Linvail’s Ring of Prot. +2. Oh and I of course have amulet of Power equipped. Using this gear, I could maybe (with a lot of scrolls) take on the Planar Prison and claim the boots of speed.
As said before, I need three very important items there: armor, boots and gauntlets. You’ll have to rescue Haer’Dalis first though. Figured I could use some major help down in the prison and Sintel pointed out you could improve the Black Spider Figurine from the graveyard crypts thanks to the improved item mod as well. Good: off to the graveyard. I was stupid enough to take the wrong door entrance and ended up with the Crypt King instead: whoops. Luckily this one doesn’t cast timestop or anything, so I simply meleed him to death very quickly (with of course the perfect introduction: my dear friend Skull Trap). Also initiated the buried alive and child with lost bear quests here. The second door led to two enhanced skeletons, which bit the dust fairly soon. I was still fully buffed up.
As for the crypts, I entered and encountered the first bunch of spiders (sword, giant, phasing, whatever…) and cast another Skull Trap. The little ones died and the rest approached me. One magic missile, another offensive spin and they were gone. Second mob roughly same tactics. Third one - I didn’t have any area damaging spells anymore so I picked them off one by one (my bow did too little damage, katanas worked well). As soon as I enter the spider cavern, I jam on spacebar (again) and cast Cloudkill - my first actual learned level 5 spell. All spiders died and the mage woman took some damage (injured). Her spell failed and I killed her with another spin. Hurried to Cromwell and improved the summon. Yay!
This could work. I quickly ran to the sewers to pick up the Cloak of the Sewers (but I actually rarely use the morphs). The little creatures died easily with Minute Meteors and the cloak wearer too, using a spin. I had to reload twice though, one kobold shaman cast Hold Person and I forgot to quickly swap to my anti-hold shortsword. The other kobolds have fire arrows equipped and the hold didn’t wear off in time. Anyway, safely ignored the evil looking party demanding some gold and got to Haer’Dalis captive room. Killed the mephits and…
And fully buffed up to face the mage. Result: reloads, reloads, reloads. The bastard kept on using Finger of Death and I din’t roll high enough to save. I managed to hurt him well enough and he ran away but I bumped into the Yuan-Ti’s after chasing the wizard. Reload again. Okay, first kill the Yuan-Tis and those mages, then go after the “boss”. Those damned lightning traps almost got me too. Strangely, after reloading and casting (before talking to him) Skull Trap, he failed to resist both shards and got 2x32 magic damage, which killed him outright. Wow! No need for breach (which I forgot to memorize and I only had one scroll left… He has two sequencers or so. Shit.). Got back to the Bridge district and got experience for finishing the quest successfully.
The astral prison proved to be… Hard in the beginning, very easy in the end. The improved sword spider handled most of the battle for me! Amazing little creature. After my first eight tries, I started to develop a new tactic. As soon as you enter, hit pause and cast Skull Trap directly behind most fighters. Doing this will kill the second Yuan-Ti mage and give me more time to run and less time to worry about another finger of death. Two fighters also died, the rest got injured. The other mages started casting True Sight (I had invisibility) which gave me enough time to run to the north, out of sight. I placed my spider there, and we killed most thieves and fighters together, with an offensive spin. The mages still gave me trouble, but luckily most of the time they targeted my summon. I quickly casted breach and killed another one, while the spider hold off the final mage. Pfew. This worked, after 8 or so tries.
I evaded most of the pits, but entered the second one on purpose: it contains five or six githyanki’s (is that spelled correctly?). They die instantly thanks to my cloudkill wand and I could gather some health and invisibility potions. Next, a little more tough: a lot of mages and salamanders and such - including the Wyven. My spider helt fairy good (had to heal him once, innate ability) but I had to deal with the mages myself. After reloading twice that is. First one “killed” me with a stupid Confusion spell (arg) and the second one with a chain lightning followed by a normal lightning spell. I wasn’t quick enough with healing. After that, the Thrall Master fell quite fast: fire resistance potion & Offensive Spin - the spider took care of the elementals.
The Cambion lord was already “Near Death” when I entered the battle! Those escaped prisoners work very well. After acquiring my precious equipment, I head back to the “surface”. I had to leave the Wave Shaft there though… Can’t carry it all. Cromwell combined my boots of grounding and speed and I am one happy person. My new gauntlets and the Ioun stone in the spider cavern gave me an extra -2 THAC0, the elven chainmail took my AC to -6 and the grounding boots extra -5 AC (ranged) + haste (no extra attack round? pfrt). Improved Kitthix + haste = everybody dies. Hehe. Level 15 now, ready to cast very good skeletons.
After the last events, I walked into the lich to the north of the thieves guildhall for fun, just to know what kind of enemies there are. And damn, that was a pain! The improved lich casts Spell Immunities (two!!), improved invisibility, spelltrap and such, and of course after her protection is up time stop + a lot of damaging over time spells. At level 15, there’s virtually no way to deal with her - except some cheesy ways of course. Reload and save it for chapter 6 or so.
My Zerth blade isn’t really effective, except the free AC bonus. The 1-4 lvl extra arcane spell slots don’t do much since I constantly swap weapons to adapt to the situation and occasionally use my beastmaster bow (less than in the beginning). I decide to pick up Daystar at the City Gates, but another lich is guarding it. Luckily, that one doesn’t have a seemingly closed array of protection spells at his desposal: only improved mantle + globe of invulnerability + stoneskin etc. The mantle grants him immunity to magical weapons of +3 and below so there goes my Azuredge. After a few reloads (once he casts timestop you’re toast: Gate + Meteor Storm + some Chaos spell), I drastically changed my tactic.
Instead of attempting to kill the guy with my current arsenal, I cast improved invisibility (he doesn’t have True Sight), wizard eye and Skeleton Warrior as fodder for the lich to tinker with and put a knock scroll in my quickslot. The treasure chest next to him gets unlocked while he empties his spellbook on my summons but completely ignores me (watch out for AoE spells: Mirror Image + stoneskin fixes that). I grab Daystar, and identify it: it hits as a +4 weapon and undead are dead within the few rounds. Breach has no effect on liches (immune to level 5 spells and below) but that’s not even needed since Daystar cuts right through his Mantle and the Globe is spell protection. Activate offensive spin and whack a few seconds later the lich drops dead. There’s only one slight problem: the summoned Pit Fiend (gate). I still had a Power Word: Stun scroll. After that he quickly died too. Yes!
After acquiring my beloved long sword, I head to the Sewers for a second time to buy some Magic Protection potions from Roger. I noticed the party demanding a fee if you pass (north on the map, near the Mind Flayer entrance) I skipped earlier. Let’s get rid of those goons for good. Since I am level 15, I have 2 slots in level 5: Animate Dead and Breach. I start buffing up and casting two summons - the spider and a skeleton warrior. Haste them, cast improved invisibility from the Ring of Earth Control (better than Ring of Invisibility! Get yours at Adventure’s Mart) on myself and send my beasts to the party. They are still friendly, so I make good use of this by sending a Skull Trap their way - whoo (my skeleton is immune for magic damage). After that, the spider follows and six man struggle heavily, while I watch and enjoy the carnage of my summons. The skeleton is so extremely effective!
The second Skull Trap killed three warriors outright, BAM. I decide to help the spider and enter the fray with a spin activated. Only the annoying mage remains, I forgot a True Sight scroll and don’t have access to level 6 spells yet… Great. Can’t target him… But! My skeleton Warrior still wasn’t dead and occasionally hit the mage - how I don’t know. the Kitthix ran because of some Confusion spell and bumped into a group of goblins (it of course killed them all). I waited for the skeleton to kill the mage and sold all good stuff to Roger. 95.000 GP remaining, enough to buy everything I’d ever need.
Stole the amulet and reported to Mae’Var. He send me to Edwin, and I had to do his dirty job and kill some mage in the Docks District. Good, since the mage has a Mislead scroll I definitely will be needing. Entering the house: a lot of golems and mephits, whoops. My wand of Cloudkill eradicated most of them, and I bashed others to dead. Next floor basically same tactic. The mage himself didn’t prove to be a strong opponent since Breach + offensive spin killed him quickly. What a waste. The stupid trap on both tables almost killed me though! Learned Mislead. Got a level after finishing Mae’Vars quests and immediately put the new spell in my first level 6 slot.
Improved Mae’Var indeed proved quite a challenge: upon entering the basement, there’s no way to retreat and lure enemies to the top floor. I forgot to cast some important defensive spells so already had to reload… After that one shadow thief on the first floor carried a True Sight scroll! Isn’t that a coincidence? Head to the stairs, casted everything I knew (minor spell turning, mirror image, blur, stoneskin, prot. from Evil, True Sight scroll, Draw upon Holy Might). As soon as I enter the basement, I start casting my Skeleton Warrior. All enemies already noticed me entering somehow since they all come to me but luckily I keep them in their place using the skeleton as bait. The Kitthix follows, and I cast a Mislead. The image stayed at the stairs so there’s no way to dispel my invisibility!
As soon as I turned around the corner, the skeleton was already dead (ouch) and the spider injured. The battle was fierce and very hectic, a lot of stuff going on at the same time. I somehow caught Chaos Dust (the priest?) but the status change didn’t punch through my Magic Resistance (thank you Sword of Balduran). By quickly casting Skull Traps, most assassins scream “I need healing!” and disappear using invisibility potions. Ha, face my True Sight bitches! (It wore off way too soon but anyway…) The Kitthix killed the cleric and the familiar, while I activated offensive spin to get rid of the assassins. Annoying thieves, constantly retreating… Not even one backstab got through the protection once True Sight was gone. They all died and Mae’Var remained. I didn’t dispel his invisibility so couldn’t target him with Breach, argh. Bashed at him a minute or two (recasting Mirror Image) until his Stone Skin wore off. He quickly recasts it, but my Breach took care of it. After that Mae’Var is nothing but a pushover. I had to reload once because my Skull Traps hit the prisoner and my reputation decreased… Puh. enormous amounts of junk to sell and another level once reporting to Renald Bloodscape. Joy!
So… What to do next. I guess I could take on the Unseeing Eye cult. Right. But before that, I had to go to the Five Flagons Inn to take care of my newly acquired stronghold. Once resting there, I decide to toy with the stupid Cowled wizards since they mostly have nice treasures (read: some very useful scrolls and gems) and I want to test some new spells anyway. Fully buffed up, I head outside the Inn and cast an Animate Dead to trigger the cowled wizards encounter. “Unsanctioned use of magical energy!” Oh no. Four mages appear, time to have some fun. Sadly, some Skulltraps outright killed three of them! The remaining one tries to get rid of my skeleton by casting some Power Words, but he’s stupid enough to ignore the magic resistance bonus. Uh oh, a problem: one of the shopkeepers nearby starts walking into the fray and I just casted another Area of Effect spell. Great, there she goes, bang dead. Reputation decrease blabla. Nahh, I’m not chaotic Evil. Reload.
Second attempt roughly the same, besides the interfering shopkeeper. Only now a second major problem arises: one of Bohdi’s troops wants me dead - six or seven vampires! And I didn’t even finish off the mages first. Shit. Time to try the innate ability of Daystar: BLAM 6 vampires “die” and the next one is near death. Double damage against undead really helps here, so does the amulet of Power: immune to level drain. Those vampires proved to be a pushover (be warned - I have enhanced undead installed).
Anyway, on to the Temple District. Hello Inquisitor, no I don’t need your services, goodbye. I equipped Azuredge to test it’s ranged attacks, but I only have one stupid attack/round and my THAC0 isn’t really that great as a bard. Time to sell the weapon to Roger, Daystar does a much better job against undead. Once inside the lower sewer complex, I had to reload twice thanks to a bunch of Shadow Fiends (huh, there only used to be simple shadows here…): a Held Blade is a dead blade. Once they punched through my stoneskin and mirror images, I quickly died. I was smart enough to lure most of them into my Area of Effect blasting range with a summoned Skeleton Warrior since they are immune to most alignment change stuff anyway. Got the quest, walked towards the Shade Lich and decided to try and kill him just for the heck of it, otherwise I had to come back anyway. He proved to be fairly easy with Mislead + Remove magic (three times or so, the damn lich quickly recasts his protections) and one low level summon to empty his spellbook on (Death Spell for instance - after that recast your powerful ones).
The lower reaches proved to be very very hard after the bridge riddle. The stupid ghasts have been replaced by three ghasts and a beholder! Plus they’re smarter now and constantly use anti-magic ray which completely strips away your whole buff arsenal and ignores magic resistance plus any spell immunities. Great… After at least six reloads (damn, once my Tenser’s is gone I die in two hits) I managed to kill the bastards. The beholder also casts another Death Spell which sends my summons back to hell. Using a wizard eye decoy and Mislead plus a lot of lucky resist rolls, they have been taken care of. (Remember to activate offensive spin at all times! I have 5 or so per day so whatever). Got part of the rift device, returned upstairs and threw myself into the Unseeing Eye pit, after grabbing some spells from the member’s chests.
Once inside, a lot of undead greet me and I greet back with two fireballs and a cloudkill. Luckily bards also can use the wands so that frees up a lot of spell slots at level 5 and 3. Even the greater mummies die fairly quickly using these techniques. Once inside the little zombie house, most of the vermin is killed quickly, except the area to the North. There’s a Bone Golem and some spellcasters there who love to cast enchantment spells on you. My summons didn’t stand a chance and I died three times too. Melf’s Minute Meteors + luring worked after a while.
The beholders in the lair were as hard as the lower reaches beholder, maybe even harder since they come in packs of three or so, with a couple of ghasts as “Inflict Major Wounds” throwers. Spell Immunity: Necromancy takes care of those annoying bastards, and a Mislead plus distance throwing spells (Skull Trap works wonders!) plus a Death Spell net (low level summon) does the trick. You can’t simply walk in there, cast a cloudkill and wait for them to die: improved beholders walk around when damaged and when they can’t see any enemies (there goes my Mislead). I did manage to kill one lowly beholder with a death fog scroll this way, the poor bastard locked himself up in one of the side rooms. The cult priests died after two Chaos spells and some Skull Traps. Time to summon the Unseeing Eye: cast all buffs you have and bash away. I had a lot of luck here, since he first saw my two skeleton warriors and not me, which gave me time enough to kill him from behind.
After getting rid of the beholder group, I decide to travel to Trademeet first, because they sell a lot of level 6 spells (True Sight!). Sadly, I forgot you can’t buy or sell anything before solving the local problems there: the trade problem and the druid grove disaster. This also gives me Belm +2 and some other goodies, so why the hell not. After killing Ihtafeer and brining his head to the genies, I travel to the Druid Grove (without Cernd, he had to go on his own). After learning it the hard way (dying, that is), I was very careful with some troll packs. Usually, meteors, mislead, my occasionally equipped bow for acid arrows and fireball plus a decoy works. But at the entrance of their hideout, a lot of Spirit Trolls plus umber hulks appeared! Cloudkill took care of the umber hulks, but I still died. Left them alone and decided to come back after getting my new level 6 spell scrolls. Got to the grove centre and let Cernd clean up the mess. Yay for me. After learning Improved Haste plus True Sight, I killed the troll mob and sold all the useless junk to the trademeet merchants.
Okay, time to try and get Celestial Fury. I arrived at the compound, fully buffed myself including various spell immunities (will be needing them: traps + enchantment stuff, and I still was chaotized a few times). I figured the easiest way to get rid of them was luring the members down one by one and letting them bump into my summoned destruction party (three skeletons, two sword spiders, an efreeti and my kitthix, all hasted!). Shit, this tactic only worked with the kensai (which directly gave my katana). Improved Haste with some other stuff gave me 8 attacks/round, so I decided to try it anyway. Ran upstairs, whacked and successfully killed the rogue and one minotaur and fled. Another minotaur followed and was quickly dead too. The mage tried to cast various hold stuff on me but after Remove Magic and breach, the poor guy was found bleeding to dead too. That wasn’t so hard, I don’t think I had to reload one single time!
Did I grew so strong and powerful? Why not test it with a little challenge. I walked into the docks district and greeted the lich to the north again - and died over and over again. Okay. I guess I’ll leave her until chapter 6… But Kangaxx has new guards on the first floor: two liches, an improved-hasted dwarf with an instant-killing sword and a bunch of minotaurs. Good. After entering the building, I got a little bit scared and ran away, to leave them for chapter 6 too. But whoops, most of the minotaurs followed me outside! I quickly cast some skull traps and killed them, but this triggered another cowled wizard encounter. Grr, they’re really pissing me off. I went back inside, lured a lich outside (another summon party was waiting there) and ran back outside. The cowled wizards started casting a bunch of stuff - on the lich instead of on me! But they were still hostile. Good, this gave me an easy time taking them out, and letting my summons handle the lich (which obviously didn’t simply die like that).
I had to reload four times, thanks to the annoying little dwarf or halfling bastard. His sword has a chance of simply instantly killing you, no save at all. Great! So stay away as much as possible, or constantly use Mirror Image. That’s exactly what I did - plus improved haste and Celestial Fury. The second lich wasn’t that hard after his spell protections were gone (two remove magics, the first one was absorbed by some spell?). Anyway, I still needed to get one body part of Kangaxx and wouldn’t even dare to try and defeat him until I got another Fury upgrade to +5 or so. Note that as soon as you engage enemies in melee as a bard and have access to level 6 spells, you should have casted Tenser’s Transformation to get a very big boost in THAC0 and AC, plus your HP doubles! Only downside: you can’t use innate abilities and cast spells as long as the spell is active, and it can be simply dispelled by dispel magic.
I knew Kuroisan the Acid Kensai from tactics was going to spawn since I equipped Celestial Fury. traveled back to trademeet and bwam, he appeared. After a lot of teeth grinding and reloading, I managed to kill him… This fight was a lot harder than the liches or even the beholders, go figure. First of all, the bastard has the habit of yelling “ooh, this is not a good day” and running away, as soon as someone besides myself attacks him (the trademeet guards or summons!). Great, I buffed up and he disappeared. Huh? I walked around to find him, but he was nowhere to be found… Reload. After the tirth reload just to find him, he ran away into one of the now empty genie tents. How strange… Anyway, as soon as I enter the tent and I’m not invisible, he attacks and I’m dead. One slash of his katana brings my HP down to 1⁄2… That’s not completely fair. His magical protection stays up since he has 4 scrolls of them. Spell Immunity: Conjuration got rid of the acid backlash (Melf’s acid arrow) and Mislead got rid of him attacking me. After all my breach and dispel magic spells were gone, I simply bashed him until they wore off. “Ooh, this is not a good day!”. Grr, shut up and die! He saw my clone and dispelled it. I died. Fuck this… Again and again, finally managed to eliminate him.
After all these events, I took on Firkraag’s challenge and cleaned out his entire dungeon by myself. Even the adamantide golems fell with Improved Haste and Celestial Fury. Firkraag proved to be a complete pushover at my too high character level (improved dragons, puh, my ass - he only uses wingbuffet constantly and has stoneskin precast, that’s it?). Couple of remove magics, Complete warrior transformation with Tenser’s + improved haste and a lot of other stuff = dead dragon. The summons didn’t even do anything besides standing there, watching me whack away. No reload needed. Firkraag was stupid enough to kill his own mage companion using Dragon Breath which I simply resisted, hah! The Red dragon scales plus my elven chainmail formed a nice new piece of armor with AC0 and +25% fire resistance while still being able to cast spells. Yes that’s right. (Incarnadine Elven Chain)
Good, now my Blade is even more resistant to, well… basically everything. The extra fire bonus might come in handy if I decide to swing my rod of Fire now and then, that spares me 4 or 5 Hit Points total. Without Tenser’s, that will be more than needed as I’m still physically weak without too much buff-ups. Time to enter the sphere! I already initiated the Valygar quest while entering the government district and talking to our beloved cowled wizard. I toy with the idea to simply Kill Valygar (as I’m soloing anyway) but my alignment doesn’t tend to that idea. I decide to travel to his hut, take him with me and dump him once inside the Sphere. And off we go.
The minions and critters in the first chambers of the sphere are no match to the powerful web + summon combination, or even simply throwing a fireball into the dark (To the Juan-Ti’s) seems to be very effective. Once I gathered all golem parts, I let him open the door, still fully buffed thanks to the dwarven fight (that priest can prove to be quite a pain if you’re not fast enough!) to help the golem with the elder beholder if needed. I whack away with my dual katana’s and he drops dead a few seconds later, focusing his attack power onto the completely immune golem. Fun stuff! Anyway, I make my way to the wretched wizard who started the whole project, and he orders me to get a demon heart. Oh wait, first I of course had to defeat him. The trick here was to keep on breaching his defenses (argh, stoneskin, as have I) while letting him waste his spells on my illusions and/or summons. The first few summons die rather quickly, he has adept necromancy spells at his desposal. Well anyway, after 2 reloads I managed it without too many trouble.
Did I burn anything? Sorry! Kangaxx: Morale Failure, Running. WHAT? The rest of the sphere wasn’t really hard at all, not even the demons. Well, at least if they don’t constantly cast blindness or whatever it was which increases my already not too low THAC0 value and renders me completely vulnerable since I can’t hit a damn thing. Running away usually does the job just fine, but my spider keeps on dying in the fog of war. I grab the heart, kill Tolgerias on the way using a sequencer/spell trigger (that was easy!) and exit the sphere. Ding, another level up. What to do next? Hmm, I need a new ring. Kangaxx’ ring will do! As I should have both parts now, why not try it? The first liches proved to be a major pain in the ass (thanks to the invulnerability trick of those bastards, see Spell Protection).
I can’t exactly remember anymore how I killed him, but I do remember that in his normal form, he should be okay to beat. Use the same tactics as other mages: distract him with summons, strip his defenses and whack away after the stoneskins disappear. Minute Meteors are considered +5 weapons so these should do okay, at least if he doesn’t cast a prot. from magical elements. The annoying part is the demi-lich form. Imprisonment… Right. Well guess what, after a few tries, I figured I could use a protection from school spell (conjuration or abjuration) to dismiss that spell. He empties his whole spell book on an immune me, while a misled Xindra drains his hitpoints. The whole plan failed the first few tries because my protection wore off, but still. Kangaxx gave up: Morale failure: running. I laughed and killed the bastard.
Having killed most ugly things except another dragon, I figured I could strip his scales for the shadow armor or so before entering Spellhold and the underdark. All surface-quests (the ones that mattered) would be done after that.
As you may know, the Shadow Temple crawls with undead. Therefore, it’s best to come fully prepared: all anti-undead gear you can get your hands on, the most useful being Daystar thanks to it’s innate ability. A few vampires take within range +1000 damage and drop dead immediately (haha, dead, yeah well…). Too bad you can’t use it more than 1 time a day without an upgrade (items upgrade mod, requires Holy Water after underdark, I think).
The Shadows and Elder Shadows proved to be very annoying because of their “glare” attacks. A stunned/held blade is usually a dead blade, even with buffs, it only takes a few rounds to knock all protection off your skin. Once stunned, you’ll be surrounded immediately, so it won’t be as easy as it looks. Thankfully, I now have a skeleton warrior to my disposal myself and he’s pretty much immune to all those status effects. Let him lead the way and support using mid- to high range spells.
After whacking my way through the maze and solving all the puzzle quests (the ritual, the passage, the sunstone, etc), I’m ready to head to the shadow dragon himself. Most BG2 Guides tag Firkraag to be more powerful than this dragon, but do not be fooled, wing buffet still pretty much screws with all your tactics, even the “jamming spacebar” one. The slightly smarter dragons mod in SoA actually make Thaxll’ssillyia a much more potent spellcaster: he has several protection spells pre-cast instead of at the beginning of the battle. There goes your run & gun tactic. Keeping the beast busy, using/casting Breach and magic missile plus some whacking usually still works though. Thankfully…
Last problem: the “shadow lord” awaiting outside at the temple. After the dragon’s death, I leveled up and could finally pick a few more level 6 spells! Woohoo. Time to learn Death Spell and see if their Hit Die/dice are high enough to resist this one. Fully blurred, stoneskinned, hasted and offensive spinned, I pop up and the lord starts his speach. the End Conversation button results in the shadow patrick and other guys attacking me, but I squeeze out a death spell just before they reach me. Everybody dies. Wow! That was a good show… Guess everyone threw a very very bad save, right.
Anno 2018, I managed to revive this lengthy report. I am ashamed to admit that I never played further than the Shadow temple with Xindra. It is time for a complete replay with Baldur’s Gate 2: Enhanced Edition but I’m not quite sure who’s up for it (would I be up for it?)
Baldur’s Gate is one of those games I know by heart. Every trap, every location of every highly prized artifact and every line of every NPC. But that doesn’t matter and I would play it again and again. The only thing holding me back right now is time!