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BG Mage Guide

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#1 Suslik



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Posted 09 April 2012 - 09:03 AM

Found a lich and do not how to deal with him? Tired of using dirty tricks such as resting/leaving area when facing a more powerful spellcasting foe than a goblin shaman? Aww, "Cloak of mirroring" is fixed in your modded game? Or do you just want to give playing wizard/sorcerer a shot? I can try and give you a few tips.

What this guide IS:
I will try and explain you the most important principles of building your own strategies when facing powerful spellcasters and using your own mages effectively.

What this guide is NOT:
You will not find a recipe on how to deal with each and every foe using some cheap strategy. All possible tactic spoilers are under hidden blocks, so that you will not spoil fun of exploring the game by yourself.

Why bother with spellcasters? I like swinging axes/hiding in shadows/roleplaying!
Spellcasters are probably the most complex characters both to use as NPC's and to face as enemies. And if one can figure out how to swing an axe more or less easily by.. you know.. swinging it, determining how all those "absolute immunities" and "khelben's warding whips" work may prove a little more challenging.

Who is this guide for?
This guide is for everyone who has some experience in BG series but feels like they do not understand something about all those "Lich: Spell Ineffective" and "Lich: Weapon Ineffective" thingies. Or for someone who is thinking about playing a mage and does not even know how interesting and complex it is.

How powerful can a spellcaster be?
I have soloplayed vanilla ToB and BWP:Standard using pure-wizard and a pure-sorcerer protagonist on insane difficulty without using any *unfair* strategies. It is not too easy and not too difficult, the difficulty is just fine to keep things interesting throughout the whole game.

Let's get started. Basic strategies

1) Defend
2) Attack

Only in that order. You hear me? When you have 50 hp and Fikraag hits ~150 with his fireball, you will definitely want to protect yourself against that somehow. Even a goblin can kill 20-level sorcerer in two hits if you forget your everyday stoneskin.

Always watch for enemy mages' strategies
If you think that Lich is powerful and invincible, try mimicing his actions and see how he can counter it! Feedback window is your friend! After a little practice you will know how to breach each and every kind of protection and how to protect yourself against each and every enemy. Remember, your mages(Imoen, Edwin, Nalia, ...) are no different from Irenicus or Kangaax. Ok, Irenicus has a little higher lvl and Kangaax has a few more resistances but other than that they are no different! They have the same spells which act and can be blocked exactly the same way.

Spell level =/= spell usefullness
Do not think that if you don't have "time stop" or "absolute immunity" you cannot counter those who do. Bleh, I barely use any spells of level >7. Even more, there are extremely useful spell on every spell level.

A little more in-depth explanation of strategies

Stage 1: self-defence
Being a mage, you can protect yourself against any foe. Different foes require different types of protection though. If you are protected properly, you can stand still for a few rounds in front of your enemy without fear of being harmed in any way at all. Yeah, you can do that with *any* foe. If an enemy can harm you in any way, you are doing something wrong. Most brute-like foes can be countered quite easily by simple spells such as invisibility/stoneskin but enemies capable of dispelling protections or using other magical means are usually far more challenging.

Stage 2: attack!
Stage 2.1: breach
If you are facing a brute-like foe, this substep should be skipped. But you have probably noticed that no matter how hard you try, you cannot kill a mage just sending all your party members head-on via attack button. And after you have mastered self-defence, you probably already know how enemies breach your defences. So you should know how to make the mage vulnerable to some kind of damage. Once his defences are breached, the easiest stage takes place.
Stage 2.1: kill
I do not want to discuss this stage at all. Swinging axes, 10 attacks per round, hundreds of backstab damage, a whole pack of destructive spells - once the enemy is vulnerable and you are not, it's just a matter of seconds to kill him. You can probably figure that out by yourself.

Notice, however, that some enemies like using Contingency and Trigger spells which activate under certain conditions. You should know which contingencies to expect of an enemy and have your own contingencies ready in case of.. well.. unforseen circumstances.

It is important to remember that the enemy(and you too, if you don't have "Improved alacrity") cannot cast more than one spell each round(6 seconds). So you can breach their defences faster than they build new ones.

Some tips on specific strategies to start with

Tips on defending the mage
There are two kinds of buffs: spell protections and combat protection. And they can be breached by completely different means. For example, "dispel magic" breaches all combat protections but leaves all spell protections. "Spellstrike", on the other hand, breaches all spell protections, but leaves all combat protections intact. Spell protections tend to defend the caster against direct spells attacks and specific magic schools. Combat protections tend to give the caster immunity to certain types of damage and attacks.
Combat protections
If you just buff your wizard by combat protections, he may become invulnerable to everything: weapons, fire, cold, arrows, magical damage. Everything, except for simple level3 spell "dispel magic"/"remove magic", which if followed by by an arrow will kill your wizard in one round.
Spell protections
That's why you will probably want to protect yourself against dispelling your protections. For example, you can cast Spell Immunity:Abjuration(level 5 spell) and make yourself completely invulnerable to any dispel-like spells, because all of them belong to abjuration school. Note, however, that even though spell-protection breaching spells are all abjuration, they cannot be countered by Spell Immunity : Abjuration. And remember that spell protections like "Spell turning"/.../"Spell trap" only protect against direct spells. AoE spells such as fireball and dispell magic will bypass those.
Protecting your spell protections
That may sound somewhat weird and a little more advanced but you will feel the necessity of doing so after catching a "Spellstrike" or "Khelben's warding whip" from a demilich. Think about "Spell shield" level 5 spell which absorbs first breaching spell cast on you. Or about making yourself invisible, because most foes cannot cast direct spells on invisible creatures, and most breaching spells are direct. So you will force your enemy either to breach your spell protections with area-of-effect spells such as "Ruby Ray Of Reversal" or to dispel your invisibility".

Note that there are lots of lots different ways to protect a mage, those tips above are the very basics. At first it all may seem somewhat overwhelming and complicated, but stick to that advice "Always watch for enemy mages' strategies" - try to learn strategies from your enemies. You can mimic them and invent your own.

Tips on defeating non-spellcasting foes
Even though a mage can be easily protected against such foes by a simple "Stoneskin"/"Protection from magical weapons" or "Mislead", some enemies have unique offensive or defensive capabilities. For example golems and drows have magic resistance which you will probably want to lower by "Lower Resistance" prior to using damaging magic against them. Note that magic resistance cannot resist "Lower resistance" spell. "Malison"/"Greater Malison" can reduce enemy's saving throws so that they can be killed quite easily by certain instant-death spells. You should also consider using your cleric to protect yourself against specific monster attacks. For example "Mind shield" protects again Mind Flayers and such.

A little bit more in-depth explanation

A few words on specific combat protections
This section contains spoilers that some players may want to figure out by themselves. So I will put it under spoiler.

Tips on spell protections
Same as above. Under spoiler:

Tips on breaching spellcaster defences

Tips on being solo-mage/making your mage more self-sufficient

When you are all alone, you dont have a tank to take a few hits, no cleric to heal yourself and only a limited amount of spells to deal with all those damned foes. Sometimes you may find yourself simply to run out of damaging spells and that's really confusing: you have properly protected yourself, breached enemy defences but they just have far too much hp. There are a few tips on how to avoid this, with possible spoilers:

Tips on being a sorcerer

I strongly advice against choosing a sorcerer as a first experience in playing a spellcaster. Sorcerers have extremely limited amount of spells, so if you do not want to tear you hair later, you will have to choose which spell to pick at each level prior even creating your character. Otherwise you will 100% find yourself with a character who has unnecessary dubbed spells(such as "Secret word" and "Spell thrust") and you will notice that you use some spell levels far more than others. If you are creating a solo-powergaming sorcerer, you must play a wizard prior to that and choose exactly 5 spells for each spell level.
Which spells to choose?:

I hope this guide can help those who find it difficult to play Baldur's Gate or encourage someone to develop their own unique strategies in the battle system I have tried to view from another perspective.

Questions and suggestions are always welcome.

Edited by Suslik, 09 April 2012 - 08:25 PM.

#2 phordicus

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 05:02 PM

So you will force your enemy either to breach your spell protections with area-of-effect spells such as "Ruby Ray Of Reversal"

I don't want to have to guess why RRR is AoE in your game, so you should pretend most players don't use the same mods. If this is a mod-specific guide, that mod's forum is a more appropriate place for this guide.
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#3 Suslik



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Posted 10 April 2012 - 06:49 PM

So you will force your enemy either to breach your spell protections with area-of-effect spells such as "Ruby Ray Of Reversal"

I don't want to have to guess why RRR is AoE in your game, so you should pretend most players don't use the same mods. If this is a mod-specific guide, that mod's forum is a more appropriate place for this guide.

Shame on me, I have not played the vanilla game for quite a while and I have even forgotten that those breaching spells were not originally AoE.

But hey, since "Spell thrust", "Secret word", RRR, and "Spellstrike" are all targeted in vanilla, how is it possible to breach combination of SI:Divination, SI:Abjuration + improved invisibility? I think one can cast targeted spells on semi-invisible creature by spell sequencers, but I hope there's a better way.

Edited by Suslik, 10 April 2012 - 06:51 PM.

#4 Eleima


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Posted 10 April 2012 - 06:54 PM

While Phordicus does have a point (I thought Ruby Ray of Reversal targeted a a single natural or magical hazard), the guide is still general enough for me to allow it here.
It is my opinion, however, that choosing to play as a sorcerer can be a rewarding experience, even for a first playing experience, as having too large a choice of spells is sometimes confusing and annoying. Of course, it make take a bit of trial and error to figure out what spells you want to use, but I hardly even bother with the other mage classes anymore. To each his own, I guess.

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#5 Suslik



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Posted 10 April 2012 - 07:02 PM

Thanks for the kind words. I have tried to make the guide as general as possible. I did not even want to include references to any particular spells at all, because my primary goal is to explain the very basic principles to help the player to discover everything else by themselves. But in the end I have decided to add those sections under spoilers with more.. specific strategies.

But anyway, calling those spells AoE is definitely my fault and I will fix that.

About sorcerers. I think I have created more than 4 sorcerer characters and leveled them up till ~20 level each(by honestly completing BG1->SoA numerous times) just because somewhere in the middle of ToB I have decided that I am not using some "Melf's acid arrow" often enough and it would have been cool if I had chosen "Knock" instead of it. That's enough for me to start all over. I do want to prevent that from happening with other players lol. It's far harder to screw any other class build. And anyway, if you are not that serious about your choice of spells, you can just ignore that advice ; )

Besides, English is apparently far from being my native language and I would really appreciate if you guys would point out the sentences that you have found the most weird/unreadable.

Edited by Suslik, 10 April 2012 - 07:14 PM.

#6 phordicus

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 11:17 PM

The strategies are entirely dependent on the mods used, especially the two I'm guessing you have that are of relevance. If your guide is only valid with Mod X + Mod Y, you should indicate that. If you really want to be a badass, give a vanilla guide and a modded guide side-by-side. It'd be a great point of reference.

Edited by phordicus, 11 April 2012 - 11:18 PM.

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#7 Suslik



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Posted 12 April 2012 - 03:32 AM

Strategy I discussed with AoE secret word, RRR, spellstrike, etc. can only be used with Spell Revisions. But I do not remember how to dispel SI:Divination + SI:Abjuration + Mislead in vanialla, so can you help me here?

#8 phordicus

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 03:49 AM

I'm not saying you have to do the side-by-side (BG/2 is one of the few games I actually haven't written a strategy guide for), but at least point it out for the reader what mods you use. I've modded my own spell system beyond recognition, in large part to get far away from the all tedious and uncreative A-counters-B-counters-C-counters-D stuff, so I must decline. I definitely admire the effort that's gone into the R mods, but for me the flaws are deeper than the spells/items/whatevers themselves.

Actually, doing it specifically for SR is a good idea because there are already a ton of mage & sorcerer, party-based and solo, guides out there which would be impossible to add anything of value to.
Speaking of which and of no relevance to anything, I didn't get a lick of modding done today.

Edited by phordicus, 12 April 2012 - 03:57 AM.

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#9 Dakk

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 07:24 AM

I echo the sentiment of an SR (and IR as well, as the changing of equipment gives other options - like no-cheese Robe of Vecna etc) strategy guide. There are lots of vanilla guides, good and bad. But to my knowledge there isn't one for SR, and SR is hugely popular. Just note that this is for SR+IR and keep at it, it's appreciated and needed.

#10 -max-

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 08:11 AM

Interesting guide but clicking on the spoiler tags isn't doing anything, they don't show up.

#11 Suslik



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Posted 14 April 2012 - 10:56 AM

Wow, that's definitely weird. I suppose it's either forum engine's bug or your browser's. And the second seems to be more possible since guys above managed to open the spoilers, at least according to their comments. What browser are you currently using?

Edited by Suslik, 14 April 2012 - 10:56 AM.

#12 -max-

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 07:12 PM

Hey Suslik, I'm using Firefox. I checked a couple of other forum topics and the spoilers work there. Strange.

#13 Suslik



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Posted 15 April 2012 - 07:12 AM

I have just checked this thread as a guest in my firefox 11.0 and it seems to work fine. Scary. Do you have any related plugins installed? Can you please try this with Internet Explorer? It works for me as well.

Edited by Suslik, 15 April 2012 - 07:13 AM.

#14 Scipio


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Posted 17 April 2012 - 09:59 AM

I say well done, Suslik, your guide is a very good overview of how to play either a mage or a sorcerer. It took me quite a few play-throughs to understand the most efficient way to use either a mage or a sorcerer.

I haven't played solo with any class. The best I've done is to get through SoA with myself as a fighter-thief accompanied by my darling Aerie, who becomes a mighty priest-mage at higher levels.

We probably all develop our own sets of strategies. I use similar protection methods to yours, but for offense I do a lot of summoning. From the first skeleton warrior who knocks the stuffing out of mind-flayers, the summoned allies just keep getting better. They substitute very well for the tank NPC if necessary. They often die quite quickly, but by then I've usually knocked down the enemy defences.
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#15 Suslik



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Posted 17 April 2012 - 12:39 PM

I say well done, Suslik, your guide is a very good overview of how to play either a mage or a sorcerer.

Glad you like it.

I use similar protection methods to yours, but for offense I do a lot of summoning.

I intentionally did not mention anything about using summons as I count them as a somewhat "dirty" strategy : D No offense, of course but I find it unsatisfying when there are all kinds of summons who do the fighting instead of my tweaked and polished companions/protagonist. But no doubt, you have a point here - summons are an effective offensive and defensive tool(remember how lvl3 skeletons tanked basilisks in BG1 ? ; ) )

#16 taltamir

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Posted 09 September 2013 - 11:06 AM

Thanks for this useful guide.

Out of curiosity:


Consider the worst case. You are facing a pre-buffed demilich which has ALL(I mean it) combat and spell protections at once. He is invisible, protected agains ALL schools at once, his magic resistance is 100%, he is invulnerable to all weapons and all types of damage and all that bad stuff. Your actions:


Couldn't you use a thief detect illusion ability to drastically shorten this process?

Edited by taltamir, 09 September 2013 - 11:07 AM.

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#17 Almateria


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Posted 13 June 2014 - 04:20 PM

I used PROPHET OKPOBO's spell casting tips and I finally got through Twenty Bucks Improved Anvil.

Without Valygar in my party.

#18 Creepin

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Posted 14 June 2014 - 04:38 AM

Whoa now that's a good zerg rush! :)

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#19 Tempest


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Posted 14 June 2014 - 07:36 AM

Good Lord. Spambots with religion now. I suspect the title may have done something to attract the bot, so I changed it and will be watching in case it pokes its head out.

Edited by Tempest, 14 June 2014 - 07:37 AM.

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