Xen, the Blade. My current main character for Baldur’s Gate, replacing numerous attempts to just implant myself into the game. It was kind of lame.

I forgot to write a post on Friday, and since I said I would post here every day, I am rectifying that. What did I do instead of posting? Well, work. Then I got home and played Baldur’s Gate. I discovered that my ennui with the game was not because of my alignment or anything, but rather because I was trying to play a game I’ve played hundreds of time (but beaten only six) straight. Instead, my half-elf Blade Xen and her trusty sidekick, Imoen the thief that I refuse to turn into a mage despite what happens in the sequel, avoided every single enemy we could until we got the team together.

Imoen the Thief. Canonically, she follows me into the next game. It does not go well for her.

First, we picked up Xzar and Montaron, just in case. I took all their stuff. Montaron died against the assassin at the Friendly Arm Inn, and I ditched Xzar and his body inside of it. After recruiting and similarly stripping Khalid and Jaheira of all they owned, I ditched them, too. While according the second game’s story Khalid and Jaheira wound up adventuring with me anyway, I’m just going to assume that most of the others I palled around with during my game went about their own business and my character decided to pick these two up to replace them. There’s a new expansion out that might bear this out. Anyway, after getting all the quests I could in Friendly Arm (including grabbing the Golden Pantaloons) Imoen and Xen had to make it to Beregost to get our next recruit: Neera, the Wild Mage added to the Enhanced Edition. Since the party consisted of a low-level blade and thief and recruiting Neera required beating a mage and two thugs, this did not go very well. This did not go very well at least a dozen times. The best it went was when Xen and Imoen survived and Neera died, but since you can’t recruit her until after winning the battle, this was useless to me. I realized things would be much better if I got the other guys and, after obtaining the scroll case and a Stone to Flesh scroll, set about doing that.

Neera, the Wild Mage. She is potentially more trouble than she’s worth but once summoned a demon that slaughtered a bunch of hobgoblins and then my team. That’s the kind of randomly generated chaos I can really get behind.

The issue was that the remaining three people I wanted were in Nashkel and the next two maps are designed for players to follow the path and get ambushed by Ogrillions and, potentially, mercenaries. Except since I’ve played the game just so many times, I just went to the left of each map and got by in perfect safety. Once I got to Nashkel, my first stop was the Nashkel fair to recruit my healer: Branwen, who is some sort of viking woman?

Branwen the Cleric. The game doesn’t have a lot of decent healers early on and by the time you actually get to them, you’re better off sticking with the person you’ve built up over the course of the game. Clerics are also preferable to druids for this since they can actually raise the dead. Jaheira can in the second game, but not in this one.

She comes with her own quest. Other than Imoen, everyone comes with their own quests that have differing levels of urgency. Branwen was turned to stone by a man named Tranzig who you meet up with a lot later, and that’s why I bought the Stone to Flesh scroll earlier. After remember to set up the AI scripts for her and Imoen, I was on my way. I’m not sure how people feel about putting the NPCs to run on scripts, but the amount of times I completely neglected to use mages and clerics efficiently when I was first playing this game back in 2000 meant that discovering you can make them do their own thing was a godsend. This also reminds me to go back to Nashkel to save a girl from an angry wizard, but that’s for later. Branwen was recruited and so it was off to Nashkel proper to get the other two members of my team.

Rashaad the Sun Soul Monk. He’s kind of like Iron Fist, except unlike the Netflix version, he has motivation.

Rashaad is easily obtainable and is a new character for the Enhanced Edition. He’s a monk and is mainly there because once I’ve filled out my party with the typical fighter-thief-mage-healer group, I have a slot for me and a slot for whoever. Rasheed is that whoever. Later on, his quest-line makes me fight trolls. Rashaad, like Neera, may not be worth the trouble but he’s decent enough to have along. At least, until he started hitting on my character and was shot down for his efforts. The final member of my merry group was just down the road.

Minsc the Ranger. He has a miniature giant space hamster and probably head trauma. He’s voiced by Jim Cummings.

Minsc the Ranger, who is one of the better characters you can recruit. The only downside to Minsc is that he’s paired with a mage named Dynaheir, and she’s been captured by Gnolls. Minsc is very upset about this and if you don’t get that done relatively quickly bad things will happen. I obtained Minsc, grabbed the free Ankheg armor for Branwen, and was off to Beregost to recruit Neera. It took several tries, but with three people capable of taking hits on my side, the battle was won and Neera was on my side. Neera also has a gem pouch which makes inventory management so much easier.

The team was assembled and now, in order to really start playing the game, all we had to do was retrieve Dynaheir from the Gnoll Stronghold. This was accomplished thusly:

  1. Go to Gnoll Stronghold.
  2. Defeat the half-ogres on the bridge
  3. Send a party member with stealth capabilities to get Dynaheir. In this case, it was Rashaad. Since he had faster movement speed than everyone else, this was fine.
  4. Sneak the stealthed party member past all the gnolls. You can fight them, if you want, and I’ve done so. My party was entirely level one at this point and I refuse to buy armor, so most of them would not have survived.
  5. Once the stealthed party member has spoken to Dynaheir and recruited her, as to not lose Minsc, reward them for their efforts by removing them from the party. This has two effects. First, Dynaheir will get killed by Gnolls and cause Minsc to scream in pain. If you want her in your party, this is obviously not an option and you should probably just fight through the Gnolls to begin with. Second, the party member that stealthed their way through the Gnolls will be completely ignored by all the enemies.

Rashaad was able to calmly walk back to the party and let me know he’d be back in Nashkel. We grabbed a stat-increasing tome and went to Nashkel to dump Dynaheir’s body in a temple and recruit Rashaad. This was where day one ended: party assembled and ready to do a bunch of side-quests before going to the Nashkel Mines.