I started Baldur’s Gate two after completing the Siege of Dragonspear and it’s a lot less onerous than I remember it being, but I chock that up to my characters being stronger and my own greater sense of strategy and the like. In this game, you’ve been kidnapped by Jon Irenicus (who was in the Siege as the Hooded Man, a fact you wouldn’t know unless you’ve played both games with the sound on) and your immediate goal is to escape his dungeon. This is probably the longest you’ll spend in any one area this early on, and it’s filled with traps and various things trying to kill you. You’re also alerted to the fact that vampires not only exist, but they’re engaged in a feud with the thieves’ guild. This is all before the game properly starts. You are given so much information, and the game starts you off with some companions:

Imoen, the thief who spent the expansion learning spells. She’s the one who rescues you, more or less.

Jaheira, the druid who now has a resurrection spell which makes her an ideal healer.

Minsc, the ranger who continues to be one of the better NPC options. This game actually has a lot of them.

And Yoshimitsu, who is a bounty hunter. This is just a thief. Why does the game start you off with two thieves? Because (SPOILERS) as soon as you’re done with the starting area, Imoen and Jon Irenicus are taken away by a bunch of wizards and locked up. Your goal, then, is to save Imoen from this fate. You’re also freed from having Minsc and Jaheira bogged down with their respective partners because Jon Irenicus killed them both. So there’s that. Lucky for you, the game tells you immediately that some guy is willing to intervene for you in exchange for 20,000 gold. Since you start off this game with naught but the spells in your head, it’s a bit of a climb. Also luckily for you, there’s no shortage of side-quests, including those to nab the rest of my chosen team:

Neera, the wild mage whose new area is one of the most annoying early areas in the game. There’s lots of traps and magic keeps backfiring, but once you get to the Neera’s camp you get a lot more NPCs and their quests. This includes what has to be the most annoying quest in the game, which involves herding cats. Anyway, once you’ve spent some time here, you can take Neera wherever. I left that camp a while ago and she hasn’t complained once.

The other recruit is the monk Rashaad, who has lost the belt I gave him that transformed him into a woman. He’s on the hunt for some guy and there’s some monk stuff going on. He also doesn’t complain when you agree to help him and subsequently don’t, and I’m honestly not sure what I can even do to help him and don’t intend to find out until I deal with a lot of these other quests. I’ve gotten a lot of them, and these are the ones I’ve done:

  • Save one thieves’ guild from another one! One guild is going to potentially help you. The other has a bunch of sadists working for them. Things went well with this quest until we discovered that a Red Wizard named Edwin was working for them. He was in the first game and was insufferably then. In this game, he immediately made Neera, Minsc, Jaheira, and my own character very angry. The quest he gave us was cancelled when we killed him, though we still succeeded in ending this upstart thieves guild.
  • -Solve the tanner murders! It was a tanner who was skinning people and turning their skin into armor. It was unpleasant.
  • -Save the Umar Hills from some monster! It turned out to be something called a Shade Lord. It had a dragon that we managed to completely avoid. Also in this area, we encountered our first mimic and helped unite two young lovers. Oh, and set up trade between the village and some monsters who just wanted to live.
  • -Save Trademeet from druids and djinn! This area was swarming with trolls, which are annoying and why I haven’t done another quest yet. Trademeet is now druid and djinn-free and we did it with minimal killing.

We’ve saved up enough to save Imoen but I think I’ll feel bad if I don’t finish a few more quests before setting out. I’m sure they’ll be there when we get back but it just seems like a jerk move, you know?