[Baldur’s Gate II： Shadows of Amn]Baldur’s Gate II： Shadows of Amn Walkthrough & Guide
Baldur’s Gate was a revelation in CRPGs in 1998 with unparalleled world building, writing and strategic depth. It also made a previously unknown studio, Bioware, a name to be reckoned with. Baldur’s Gate 2 allowed Bioware to pull out the all the stops, being bigger, deeper, more vibrant and more varied than its predecessor in every way.
That said, the writers literally lost the plot – Baldur’s Gate was about prophecies and your divine heritage while the bulk of Baldur’s Gate 2 fundamentally has you chasing a completely unrelated villain around the world before the plot picks up again in the expansion. However, you’ll be having so much fun in this world of vampires and dragons and demons and mind flayers that complaining about gaping plot holes somehow seems petty.
It’s a testament to the quality of the original game that I was able to revisit it after fifteen years (having played it ten or more times in the early 2000s) and still find something fresh.
The Enhanced Edition
A considerable achievement of the Enhanced Edition is that it makes Baldur’s Gate 2 playable on current systems. No, the control scheme on consoles isn’t perfect but it is certainly usable.
It’s not all roses, however. The game is very unstable and crashes frequently. It also has a pernicious habit of crashing when you try to save your game but not before deleting the savegame that you were trying to overwrite. Therefore, you should at a minimum alternate saves each time to avoid hours of playtime being lost.
I understand that many issues with the original game were addressed but the bug fixes have caused breakage of their own. The pathfinding algorithm, for example, was always bad but it’s been tweaked for the Enhanced Edition and made worse. Internet searches show that bugs that I encountered were reported years ago yet somehow never addressed and then ported wholesale to modern systems.
The Enhanced Edition also contains additional content and that is problematic. Not only was lack of content never a problem with Baldur’s Gate 2 (it’s a 150+ hour game with barely a wasted moment), the new content is awkwardly integrated, tonally different and clumsily written. It breaks one of Bioware’s original design principles, that the game should about you, the player character. That ceases to be the case if you have the new companions in your party; instead it becomes Baldur’s Gate 2 starring Dorn. My problem isn’t merely that I dislike them as characters, it’s that I dislike them as works of fiction which is a different sort of dislike altogether. If I’m being generous, I’d say that Beamdog’s writers were still trying to find their voice. It’s unfortunate that they chose to shout.
This is a big walkthrough for a big game. The first few parts are reference sections for the game’s mechanics, character creation and companions.
The game itself is divided into chapters which open up at critical plot points so the walkthrough for the game proper uses this as a basis for its own structure. The second chapter opens up most of the game world at which point you can put off advancing the plot almost indefinitely. This makes constructing a coherent path through the game challenging. As a compromise solution, city exploration is presented sequentially while the major quests that take place outside the city are presented in their own section.
Companion quests, which are mostly very short, are also presented in their own section. The reason for this is that they happen asynchronously – after travelling with someone for a while, someone will approach you in the street and, for example, tell Anomen that his father urgently needs to see him. Or you will go somewhere in the city and Keldorn will ask to check in on his wife and children.
When you do choose to pick up the plot, the game becomes fairly linear and the walkthrough becomes sequential. The one exception to this is the high level dungeon, Watcher’s Keep, which you can visit at any time between the start of the game and the end of the expansion. Since it is orthogonal to the game, I have to chosen to place it between the penultimate chapter and the finale.
The playthrough was done on Core Rules difficulty. Baldur’s Gate 2 is not an easy game if you’re new to it and I see little sense in making it more difficult
I advise that you turn off party AI to prevent your characters from running through traps or running into the area of effect of a spell cast by one of your own party members. This does mean a lot of micro-management, however, because you have to manually select targets for your characters to attack. You’ll want to do this anyway since you won’t survive on any but the lowest difficulties without pausing frequently to issue orders. It also means that you have to manually engage trap-finding mode and bard-song mode.
In gameplay options, you’ll want to make sure that the game pauses on enemy sighted and on traps being detected since these are lifesavers. The options for casting healing spells on rest and maximum HP on level up are great quality-of-life improvements.
Beware of a bug that shows divine spells in a Mage’s spell book. While common sense tells you that there’s no point in selecting an unusable Negative Plane Protection spell, there are some divine and wizard spells with the same name and spell level (the 3rd-level Protection from Fire, for example) and you can easily end up memorising a useless spell. These bugged entries also count against maximum spells known. Erasing them is a temporary solution, but they will appear again.
On consoles, there are two ways of moving your characters. In Tactical Mode, you scroll the camera to a spot and then press “X” to have your party move there. In Drive Mode, your party moves with the analog stick. I generally prefer the former but use the latter in enclosed spaces since pathfinding is awful.
Establish a base of operations where you can store the stuff that you don’t want to carry. I suggest the Copper Coronet which is one of the first places you visit. It has the additional benefit of coming with a conveniently placed merchant.
Talking of merchants, you may want to sell stuff to just one (Bernard in the Copper Coronet, for example). That way, if you sell something in error (a rare or unique crafting component, for example), you don’t have to try and remember who you sold it to.
You have six character slots. Of these, you will want at least three characters capable of going up directly against enemies. You will also want at least one utility (Thief) character, one medic and one magic user.
If you are playing for trophies, you will want to use most companions, at least for a while, since most companion quests unlock trophies. However, the mid game requires you to settle on a fixed party since you are away from your base of operations for an extended period. The party I used were:
PC Fighter / Mage / Thief (front-line fighter, utility, scout)Mazzy Fentan (front-line fighter, ranged fighter)Jaheira (front-line fighter, medic)Anomen (medic, front-line fighter)Viconia (medic, tank, romance option)Imoen (magic user, ranged fighter)
Were I not writing a walkthrough, I would have used someone other than Viconia since single-class Clerics are rather ineffective.
You can unlock almost all the game’s trophies in a single playthrough. If you’re intending to go for the Platinum Trophy, I would use a dedicated playthrough to unlock True Lord of Murder since killing a Silver Dragon, for example, might prove impossible on the highest difficulty.
Unlocking companion-related trophies requires some planning. You will need to recruit the following characters: Jaheira, Anomen, Nalia, Korgan, Keldorn, Jan, Edwin, Cernd and Mazzy. Some companion trophies require them to travel with you for significant amounts of time (Anomen, Nalia, Jan and Mazzy) and / or require you to complete (or at least advance) major quests (Nalia, Keldorn, Edwin, Cernd and Mazzy).
Here’s a rough outline of how to unlock them all while taking an efficient path through the game:
Recruit Jaheira, Nalia and Anomen to start Anomen’s quest timerComplete the de’Arnise Hold quest to start Nalia’s quest timerDo Jaheira’s companion questStart the Unseeing Eye quest, recruit Keldorn and complete the Unseeing Eye questDo Keldorn’s companion quest. You can drop Keldorn at this pointAt some point, Anomen’s and Nalia’s quests will beginComplete Nalia’s companion quest and replace her with JanBegin the Umar Hills quest and recruit Valygar. If you don’t plan on using him, have him at least unlock the Planar SphereRecruit Mazzy and complete the Umar Hills quest to start Mazzy’s quest timerDo the Mae’Var’s Guildhall quest and recruit EdwinRecruit Korgan and do his and Edwin’s companion quests. You can drop both of them at this pointAt some point, Anomen’s quest will conclude and Jan’s quest will beginComplete Jan’s quest. You can drop him at this pointDo the Trademeet quests and recruit CerndDo Cernd’s companion quest. You can drop him at this pointAt some point, Mazzy’s quest will begin. You can complete it right awayBefore completing Chapter 3, recruit Yoshimo.
Two Chapter 3 trophies (Shadow Ally and Friend of Darkness) are exclusive. Unlocking both in the same playthrough requires you to throw away a non-trivial amount of game time.
The 2nd edition AD&D had a couple of strange rules which might be confusing after the twenty or more years since the game’s release.
The first is AC or Armor Class which is a measure of how easy or difficult it is for an opponent to hit you in combat. The weird thing is, it starts at 10 and goes down so that more negative is better. Therefore, a bonus to AC makes it go down rather than up. The reason behind this numbering system is that a character’s armour class is a modifier to the opponent’s to hit roll, which brings us onto…
THAC0 or to hit armor class 0. This is a measure of the probability of hitting an opponent with a twenty-sided die. As a ninth level Fighter or a thirteenth level Cleric you will have a THAC0 of 12. This means that you have a 9 in 20 chance (i.e. you hit on a roll of 12 or more) of striking an opponent before armour modifiers are taken into account. If the opponent had AC -2, you would only have a 7 in 20 chance (i.e. hit on a 14 or greater because 14 – 2=12). On the other hand, if an opponent had AC 1, you would have a 1 in 2 chance of success (i.e. hit on an 11 or greater because 11 + 1=12).
The same d20 roll that is used for attack rolls is used for saving throws. If you are attacked by magic, you have a chance to shrug off the effects or take reduced damage, depending on the magic. To succeed, you must roll greater than or equal to your saving throw. For example, if you have a saving throw of 16 vs. spells, you have a 1-in-4 chance of avoiding harmful effects from magic (or at least reducing the damage). Your saving throw goes down as you gain levels. There are actually different saving throw values for different attack types.
If you’ve not played a Dungeons and Dragons game before, magic works in a way that is different to most other RPGs. You don’t have anything like a mana pool from which you draw magical energy. Instead, you have a finite number of spells of varying degrees of power that you can cast. When you have cast a spell, it is gone until you rest. Mages have a further restriction: they can only memorise spells they know. You acquire new spells by buying or finding scrolls and writing them into a spellbook.
In combat, pay attention to the attack speed of your weapons. This is a number between 0 and 10 and lower is better. It determines the order of attacks. If you use magic, the casting time is equivalent to weapon speed for the purposes of when you manage to cast it. Since you won’t be able to get off a spell with a lengthy casting time before opponents get the chance to attack you, you will want to cast magic from a safe distance. If you are hit by an enemy, your casting will be interrupted and you will waste your spell.
Weapon speed is unrelated to your attack rate. This is purely a function of Fighter level and weapon skill. You start off with one attack per combat round (combat is turn based under the hood). If you raise your weapon proficiency to two points or your Fighter level to 7, you will gain an extra half attack per round (i.e. a single attack in one round and two in the next). Level 2 proficiency and 7 Fighter levels will grant you two attacks per round. The highest attack rate you can obtain is 3 which requires level 5 weapon proficiency and 13 Fighter levels. Note that this only applies to melee weapons – missile weapons have different base attack rates which may be one per combat round for a crossbow, but three per round for darts.
Level is an overloaded word in Dungeons & Dragons. Depending on context, it means:
A section of a dungeon: “make your way to the level exit”The power of a character and the magic they can cast: “a 12th-level Mage can cast 6th-level spells”Power in general: “high-level loot”Experience
Characters gain levels by earning experience points (XP). Experience points are awarded for defeating enemies and for completing quests. When a character accrues a certain number of XP, she can advance to the next level, becoming more powerful all round. The number of XP required to advance a level rises exponentially; for example, a Fighter requires 125000XP to reach level 8 and the same again (250000XP total) to reach level 9.
After a certain level (9 for warriors and divine spellcasters, 11 for Mages and Rogues), each subsequent level increase requires a fixed number of experience points, ranging from 220000 for Thieves and Bards to 375000 for Mages and Sorcerers.
Experience points are divided between all party members so that a party of five will level up more quickly than a party of six.
Hit points (HP) are a measure of vigour both for you and your enemies. There’s a difference between them: you can see your HP but not the HP of your enemies. Instead you see enemies go from Uninjured through various degrees of Injured to Near Death to no longer a problem for you. When one of your character’s HP falls to 0, they’re dead. Sometimes, this isn’t as terminal as it sounds since you can pay to have a companion brought back to life at a temple (or use a Raise Dead spell). On Core Rules difficulty and higher, if a character takes a blow that sends them deep into negative HP, they are blasted into chunks and gone for good. Needless to say, this is a reload condition. On Story Mode difficulty, your characters cannot die. On any other difficulty, you will want to do something about your characters’ HP if they are significantly injured: either use healing magic or retreat and sleep off your injuries.
To have a reasonable chance of hitting an enemy with a weapon, you must spend at least one proficiency point to become proficient in its use. Attempting to use a weapon that a character is not proficient in will incur a THAC0 penalty ranging from 2 (warrior types) to 5 (mage types).
Only single-classed Fighters may attain a greater proficiency level than 2 in most weapons. The Archer kit may obtain Grand Mastery in bow weapons. Multiclass Fighters, Barbarians, Rangers and Paladins can specialise in any weapon. The Swashbuckler kit may specialise in weapons available to the Thief class.
The benefits of proficiency are as follows:
The attack rate bonus from weapon proficiency stacks with the attack rate bonus from Fighter levels so that a level 7 Fighter with Specialization in his chosen weapon would attack twice per round. Grand Mastery will add an additional half attack for a total of five attacks per two rounds.
AD&D abstracts morality into two axes: Good-Evil and Law-Chaos. In-game, however, alignment is simply a value you select on character creation, although it feeds in a small-way into the game’s actual morality mechanic. Roleplaying your alignment is up to you.
The Reputation mechanic is how the game rewards or punishes you for your actions: a high reputation leads to reduced prices when shopping while a low reputation will result in higher prices and – ultimately – a price on your head.
Your PC’s alignment determines starting reputation as follows:
Recruitable companions react to the party’s reputation according to their alignment values: evil companions will start to complain as your heroic deeds accumulate while good companions will voice their displeasure at acts of villainy. At extremes, companions may desert your party with some choice parting words.
The results of your reputation score are shown in the following table:
If a companion is at breaking point (), they will leave the party no questions asked and will, in most cases, disappear from the game never to be seen again. An angry party member (!) will leave permanently if dismissed from the party for any reason (such as to accommodate a temporary party member for the purposes of a quest). Unhappy party members (?) and happy party members (?) will criticise or praise your party management.
If you try to keep evil party members actually happy, you will run into a problem besides paying through the nose for scrolls and magic weapons: at a Reputation of 5, you will start to encounter hostile law enforcement officials (Cowled Wizards or Amnish Soldiers) when you enter new areas.
Reputation can be increased (to a maximum of 8) by donating money to temples.
If you are playing a good-aligned party, just play the game. You will eventually hit 20 reputation without really trying. Jaheira will complain but oh well!
However, a number of best-in-class companions (notably Edwin and Korgan) are evil-aligned. If you want to use them, you will have to manage your Reputation score. Unfortunately, Baldur’s Gate 2 is not sufficiently nuanced to make this possible without metagaming. You’re either required to murder the occasional innocent (which will take your Reputation down from the 18 danger zone to 9) or take care to not take on or turn in sidequests that give you unwanted increases and seek out opportunities to lower your Reputation score. The walkthrough will point out Reputation gains and losses – look for “Reputation Management” callouts.
The reaction mechanic determines how NPCs react to you and can determine a number of things under various circumstances:
Whether a sidequest is given (certain unsavoury sidequests require a low reaction)Sidequest rewardsWhether a companion may be recruitedWhether an NPC is friendly or hostile
Your reaction modifier from Reputation (see above) and Charisma (see here) is added to 10. A final value of 7 or below is a hostile reaction while a final value of 15 or above is a friendly reaction. Values in between represent a neutral reaction.
Copyright 2020 Christopher Williams
This guide may not be reproduced without my express permission for anything other than personal use. Use of this guide on any site where permission to use has not been sought and given is a violation of copyright and forbidden. Permission to use is extended to gamefaqs.gamespot.com.
Walkthroughs and strategies are my own original work and taken from my own playthrough. I took advantage of a number of Internet sources for reference material:
The Baldur’s Gate Wiki
https://baldursgate.fandom.com/wiki/Baldur%27s_Gate_WikiLilura’s blog articles
https://lilura1.blogspot.com/p/baldurs-gate.htmlThe mechanics of the Deck of Many Things were explained by the following forum post:
Corrections and clarifications are welcomed. Please contact me at c.c.williams at hotmail dot com.
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