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Baldur's Gate FAQ

I. The Game in Brief
II. The Story Synopsis
III. Game FAQ

I. The Game in Brief - What You can Look Forward to with Baldur's Gate!
The game is fast paced: action is always happening in the battles. Seen from above in an isometric view, spell casters fire off fireballs with impressive smoke and thunderous explosions, generating real-time lighting effects across the ground and eliciting screams from injured characters.

Bowmen shoot arrows that streak to their targets with a solid "thunk." Fighters race to the front lines and hew their way into the foe with their actual weapons and armor visibly donned by the characters on-screen. Thieves creep in the shadows and emerge to strike from behind.

The gameplay will be more faithful to AD&D than any other computer game before it. All facets of the original rules will be there: the weapon damage, speed factors for various weapons and spells, and the effects of character ability scores on behavior; charisma will affect how characters in the party behave to the leader as well as morale in combat and interactions with other characters.

Intelligence will affect how characters move in traveling - more intelligent characters will get lost less often.

The monsters and characters are fully rendered bitmaps which accurately represent the armor and equipment carried by each. The monsters will be as frightful as in any of Geiger's or Brom's works - they will inspire terror in the player (and his party!).

Dialogue is witty and humorous. The characters in the party will have believable, consistent personalities and will interact with each other (similar to Sir Tech's excellent Jagged Alliance series). They will critique the leader's actions, comment on the scenery, pick fights with each other, make passes at members of the opposite sex, and add to a character's understanding of the game story and world.

When the combat is finished and the booty is collected, the characters traverse a beautiful landscape, fully rendered in 16-bit color - no tiling done here. As time passes, day turns into night and the area visible becomes the dark blue of night - unless members of the character's party have infravision (which shows enemies and key items as red) or if a light source is available.

Trees and mountains, lakes and streams will all be beautifully rendered.

Cities will be equally impressive. Every building is modeled and rendered in fine detail. There will be taverns, temples, houses, arenas, stores and brothels. The alleys in the seedier parts of town will be dens of intrigue - dimly lit, with thieves wandering around waylaying unsuspecting travelers, and clandestine deals being made in the dark passages.

II. The Story Synopsis (or what little we can reveal to you now...)
The story takes place in TSR's best-selling FORGOTTEN REALMS. The western shore along the Sea of Swords contains a multitude of ecologies and terrain including mountains, forests, swamps, marshes, plains, cities, and ruins. Collectively called the Sword Coast, it attracts adventurers and evil alike, and provides the backdrop for this epic adventure. The region encompassed by this game is roughly bordered to the South by the Cloud Peaks, the East by the Wood of Sharp Teeth, the West by the Sea of Swords, and the North by Baldur's Gate (the largest and most affluent city in the region).

Chaos threatens to overwhelm the Sword Coast. The state of Amn is under siege to the south, the High Moor is being overrun in the north, and the region around Baldur's Gate is in turmoil. In an area known for its ample resources, a crippling shortage is slowly developing for the metal that is used throughout the Realms for everything from swords to forks - iron. When iron ore reaching the region is smelted, the resulting wares are plagued with brittleness such that they crack and break with little more than normal use. What's worse, trading caravans coming from all directions into Baldur's Gate are under constant attack from bandits and cutthroats who loot not for gold and gems (although they often take those too), but for iron. The armed factions in Baldur's Gate can scarcely keep themselves equipped and the commoners are suffering all the more. Without iron they cannot mend their tools or purchase plows - and everyone knows that if they cannot farm or craft, they will starve come winter. Some blame Amn for the chaos, others the trading cartels, and still others suspect even the Dukes of Baldur's Gate. Yet, this contagion may be an early omen of some greater evil...

The player begins the game with one character. This character can be generated using any of the races, classes, and alignments allowed by ADVANCED DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS®. Up to five other adventurers may join the central character as the epic quest proceeds. The player starts in the glorious castle of Candlekeep, an orphan seeking self-knowledge. Although once a solid coastal fortress, Candlekeep is now a great library filled with endless dusty tomes and recluse sages. The player is led out of the keep by a mentor into the wilds of the Sword Coast, and the adventure begins...

III. General Questions
Q: What is the minimum system requirement to play Baldur's Gate?

A: Currently the minimum requirement is a P120 with a 2meg video card and 16 Megs of RAM. This system spec plays VERY well and is not a minimum that says "I can boot the game up" but "I can actually play" system. You will notice definite improvements if you have a better system. With more RAM, you will see more varieties of animation on the screen at once; with more hard drive space, you will have to wait less for loading from the CD when you enter a new area. With a faster processor, the frame rate should improve and pathfinding should improve. If you have 4 meg of video card memory we plan to implement 24-bit graphics, which should improve the realism to the maximum level. We recommend a P166 with 32 meg of RAM for optimal performance.

Q: Can I beta test Baldur's Gate?
A: No, beta testing will be done in house here at BioWare and in Interplay's Quality Assurance Department.

Q: How BIG is Baldur's Gate?
A: The game is roughly 10,000 game screens large (each is 512x384 pixels, in 640x480 resolution) and these screens scroll contiguously - you walk around and the ground scrolls under your character's feet, just as though you are watching them from 100 feet in the sky. A final playing time is still unknown, but it is probably close to 100+ hours of story, including subquests and side adventures. The area represented by the game area is from Baldur's Gate in the North, to the Wood of Sharp Teeth in the East, to the Cloud Peak mountains and Amn in the South - representing about 300 square miles, compressed down to the interesting bits.

Q: Where is Baldur's Gate and who is it named after?
A: Baldur's Gate is located south of Waterdeep and north of the nation of Amn on the Sword Coast. It's a moderate size city - a relative safe haven compared to the wilds around it. There is an active Thieves' Guild, and vast sewers are under the city - few dare venture into them. Taverns and Inns abound. Baldur's Gate is a coastal city with a thriving seaport. The city is named after a great explorer named Baldurian who first explored the region. He mysteriously disappeared while exploring new regions... it might be interesting to try and find out what happened to him, no?

Q: In which year is Baldur's Gate set?
A: Baldur's Gate is set in the year 1370 DR (Dale Reckoning), 12 years after the Time of Troubles.

Q: Will all the currencies from AD&D be included in the game?
A: Currently all coins from AD&D are in the game. This includes Platinum, Gold, Silver, Electrum, and Copper pieces. However, for simplicity when you pick up coins they change into GP - this is a gameplay consideration.

Q: Which version of DirectX does the game use?
A: The game will use DirectX 5.0 (which will be included with the game).

Q:Will there be seasonal changes or snow?
A: Yes and no. There won't be any seasonal changes in the game, but there is snow in some areas. The game takes place during summer, so there won't be any snow except in the mountains.

Q: Is there an automap feature in the game?
A: A map of the areas that you have explored will be generated automatically. This map will be a smaller rendered version of the ground you walk on. In addition, there will be a journal that will automatically chronicle your adventures including the quests you have agreed to accomplish and major milestones in the story.

Gameplay
Q: Is the game first person (like quake)?
A: No, the game is an isometric (3/4 angle), top down view.

Q: Can my thief hide in shadows?
A: Yes. The thief is invisible (to other monsters) until he/she fails his proficiency check. The brightness of where the thief is standing is sampled; as well, the number of visible enemies in the line of sight determine the proficiency check, to determine if the hide was successful. It lasts a certain time, or until the next attack, which is a backstab (for extra damage). This is sort of a modified AD&D hide in shadows - the first time, we think, that it has actually been properly implemented in a computer game.

Q: How big can my party be?
A: When you start Baldur's Gate you create one character of your choice. Throughout the adventure you meet many different people who can join your party. The maximum number in your party at any given time is six. You can get rid of PC's and get other NPCs to join you whenever you like. We'll be releasing some interesting party combinations of NPCs that you may want to mix to see what happens, soon after the release date for the game. Some may not get along very well - you'll see.

Q: Do you have to manage things like eating (rations) and such?
A: No, there is no ration management. We thought this was kind of mundane - Baldur's Gate is epic and heroic. You don't have to worry about going to the bathroom either (your characters are smart enough to do that when you aren't looking.)

Q: Will there be banks in Baldur's Gate?
A: No, each person has a limit to what he/she can carry (based on weight and strength of the individual characters) but there is also a group inventory. You don't need a bank in the game - the entire party keeps money so you don't have problems with weight of coins. Extra objects can be kept in the group pool or left on the ground, but sometimes NPCs or monsters may come around and help themselves if they find said objects left just anywhere...

Q: Where will my party be able to rest?
A: You can rest anywhere, but there is always the chance of a wandering encounter. No need to post a guard - it is assumed that you apportion guard duties out evenly. Rest is instantaneous but time does pass during rest (in the game) - and you will wake up in the next morning unless interrupted by a combat. There are inns and taverns where you can get a much more secure and restful night of sleep (for a price, of course!)

Q: How will Thief skills improve with Level gains?
A: Thieves will be able customize their character by allocating points to the different thief skills at each level gain (ala' AD&D 2nd Ed)

Q: Will invisible characters be able to been seen by other members of the party?
A: Yes, the character image will be dithered, or some other effect (like being outlined) but still visible in some way to the rest of the party.

Q: Can my party travel in formation when the leader moves?
A: Party members (PCs and NPCs) will be able to follow the party leader in a formation. The formation is determined by the relative location to the leader when he/she selects "follow". You will be able to form and reform at any time. There are a lot of formations planned right now - some are offensive, some are defensive. The formation movement and positioning is really quite slick, and you'll see this in the interactive demo.

Q: Do actions not in accordance with my alignment have any effects?
A: There will be a "reputation" for your characters as well as an alignment. Alignment per se doesn't change anything, since no one knows what your specific alignment is. However, you will get more or less experience points and the others in your party will react differently to each other depending upon the alignment breakdown of the party, how it corresponds with the reputation you've built up, and the initial alignment you chose at the start of the game. Reputation is something you build during the course of an adventure, and it will generally parallel your alignment. It represents how much people know of your previous history of choices - and guards may react differently to you in the next town you visit!

Q: Will I be able to tell other characters' alignments?
A: Alignment will not be stored on the character sheet - you have to figure it out. Remember that casting "know alignment" is mentioned in the rules as potentially offensive to many NPCs - they might not like it too much... You know your main character's alignment, but no one else's.

Q: How will infravision work?
A: Characters with infravision will see everything in shades of red, not just heat sources. It is still under consideration if the leader does not have infravision whether he/she will be able to select a character with infravision and "see" with infravision.

Q: Will encumbrance be a factor in determining how much I can carry?
A: Yes and no. Encumbrance will be tracked for each character and is determined by your strength attribute. However, there will be a "party pool" of items and money that can carry a fixed number of slots for each member of the party. This item/money pool is accessible by all party members, so essentially there is no group weight limit (but there is a maximum number of items that can be carried by the group). It was decided to include this as a balance between frustration and convenience. Note that the individual weight limit does apply however.

Q: Will I have to walk all the way across town every time?
A: You will have the option to travel to previously visited places instantaneously (in real time), although game time still passes.

Q: Will changing armor or weapons during combat occur instantaneously?
A: Currently, you can pause the game at any time, but it will stay paused on the main page only - if you switch to another page it will restart. This is to simulate the effects of changing armor or inventory on the fly. You will thus be allowed (real-time) to change the armor you carry, but if you do it in combat, you'll pay a price! This is meant to compensate for dual and multiclass characters, and not make them too powerful. The same applies to changing the shield and equipped weapons (although you can rotate between quick weapons during combat with no penalties, as these are prepared in advance). The only way to maintain the pause mode is to stay on the main GUI screen and just select your targets and mode of attack for your party members. If this method doesn't work well in playtesting, the alternate method will be to make characters changing armor wait a few seconds before they can act. This is not our preferred method because it will lead to paralysis of one of your party, which would probably be frustrating.

Q: Will there be traps in dungeons and on chests?
A: Yes. There will be both mechanical and magical traps. Some traps may even be a combination of both! A Thief with a high Find/Remove Traps skill or a Cleric with a Find Traps spell will be extremely useful in the game!

Q: Will there be any sub-plots in the game not related to the main story?
A: There will close to 100+ sub-plots in the game. Some of them will have something to do with the plot, while some are completely unrelated. Some may take a matter of minutes, while others could take days (real time not game time). Some are rewarding, others are painstakingly difficult, and some are even lethal. Some are very important to the game as a whole, while some are insignificant except for the characters' reputation scores. All of these are up to the player'(s) discretion whether they will accomplish a particular sub-plot or not.

Q: Can I assign hotkeys to actions?
A: The hotkey system will be very unique and totally customizable. You can set up different hotkeys to perform different action with the same weapon. For example, you can have a hotkey to fire normal arrows from your bow as well as a hotkey to fire magic arrows. You can have a hotkey to throw a dagger and a different hotkey for melee with your dagger. In addition you can set up hotkeys to cast spells.

Graphics
Q: Are those graphics for real?
A: Yes, but the game will look even better. Screen shots that you have seen are quite old and out of date compared to the graphics that will be in the game. We think that the graphics in the game are actually a lot better compared with the ones that have been featured in magazines and previews thus far. They are fully rendered and textured in 24-bit color; our goal is to make you feel that you are watching the Sword Coast of the Forgotten Realms from about 100 feet in the air! There are a lot of new screen shots that will soon be posted on the web site - most are captures of art from the game.

Q: How many frames of animation are there in the game?
A: At last count there were roughly 108,420 frames of character and monster animations rendered at BioWare for your viewing pleasure. This does not include things like animated water, waving flags or other animated objects of any kind.

Characters & NPCs
Q: What races can a character be?
A: A player can choose from: Human, Elf (you can be a Drow, but won't get any special bonuses or penalties for doing so), Half-Elf, Dwarf, Gnome, and Halfling.

Q: How many different classes and/or combinations can I play?
A: There are 26 classes (including multi- and dual-classed) you can play in Baldur's Gate. These are the same ones listed in the AD&D players handbook. This includes the eight specialist mage classes.

Q: Are there NPCs from other Forgotten Realms sources? (Novels, Adventures, Sourcebooks)
A: Yes there are some familiar faces that you may recognize. Volo? Drizzt? Elminster? Others?

Q: How much control do I have over my NPCs?
A: All NPCs have their own AI scripting, outlining their basic reactions to basic situations. At anytime, the player may "override" what the NPC is currently doing. AI may be turned off or on at will. The scripts can be modified to some extent; they help create a NPCs personality and adds to the immersion level of the game. There will be several levels of scripting available. We want to allow players to be able to modify scripts not at all (the scripts that come with NPCs should be quite adequate), a little (e.g. load in cautious mage, aggressive fighter, etc.), or a lot (e.g. if enemy gibberling sighted then cast magic missile at it). It will be up to the individual player to decide how much to tinker with AI on his or her party members.

Q: How does the communication with NPCs work?
A: There will be choices to select from. Usually at least three different ones depending on the character you want to portray. Additional choices will depend on the first answers, as well as your charisma or other stats. We figured this was better for the story, and it avoids the frustrating "I don't understand thee" NPC answers as you try and find the proper keywords. It's similar to the dialogue in Fallout.

Q: How do I use my character's skills and abilities?
A: When a character is selected he/she has a group of Icons at the bottom of the screen. There are the basic "attack" and "move" icons, as well as class specific ones. These will include such skills as the thief's hide in shadows and detect traps. Secret doors and certain traps will be "noticed" by a character with the appropriate skills. There are keyboard hotkeys for the main actions and everything else in the game, which you will be able to modify as you like.

Q: How will ability scores be determined?
A: Random attributes that have the minimum requirements for the class chosen (with racial limits) are generated, so you can always play the class you've chosen. You can modify the attributes on a 1-1 ratio (meaning to raise one statistic 1 point you must lower another by 1 point). Modification of Strength to 18/xx (Fighters, Rangers, and Paladins only) will take 1 point for every bonus group (01-50, 51-75, etc. as per AD&D Players Handbook). This of course applies to the one character you can create - the rest will join with the ability scores predetermined.

Q: What is the maximum level in the game?
A: You will be able to reach somewhere between 6th and 7th level depending on which class you choose to play. There is a limit to the amount of Experience Points (XP) that you can attain in the game, but the add-on packs will raise the XP limit to allow for an additional level or two. Sequels will allow you to continue the adventure and gain more levels - about 6 per sequel. Currently we're planning at least two sequels.

Q: At what age will my character start the game?
A: You start at approximately 20 or so. More or less (more for some of the older races). But this doesn't impact on much in the game.

Q: Can I import custom pictures for my character?
A: Yes. You will be able to import custom character portraits as well as digitized speech for your character. The dimensions for the custom character images are: 40x62 8-bit BMP for the main GUI (this is to allow for the overlapping color to indicate character status) and 110x170 24 bit BMP for the Character Sheet.

Q: Will Druids be able to Shapechange into animals?
A: Yes. At 7th level, Druids will be able to Shapechange into any animal available in that area (with the exception of birds).

Q: Will my Ranger be able to hide in shadows in the wilderness?
A: Rangers will have a Stealth skill in woodland settings which is a combination of Hide in Shadows and Move Silently. Essentially, the Ranger is invisible (to other monsters) until he/she fails his proficiency check. The proficiency check is determined by sampling the brightness of where the Ranger is standing as well as the number of visible enemies in the line of sight, and the density of the foliage to determine if the hide was successful. It lasts a certain time, or until the next attack.

Combat System
Q: Is Baldur's Gate real time or turn based?
A: The Baldur's Gate engine (The BioWare Infinity Engine) is real time but the game is pauseable and actions may be assigned to characters in your party at that time. This is just an option that a player may use if the action gets a little "out of hand." In general the AI scripting will permit easy control over the 6 character party with minimal need to resort to the turn-based mode. For those of you that recall the excellent Microprose game, Darklands, the combat real-time and pausing system can be considered to be similar. X-Com 3 uses a similar pause feature as well.

Q: How does the combat system actually work?
A: The combat system is based on the rules set out by the Player's Handbook. Baldur's Gate uses these rules and adapts them to the real-time format used in the game. In the game manual there will be a complete rundown explaining all that is needed to know how to play the game. Your characters have a sophisticated AI system (using a scripting language) that will allow them to independently and simultaneously execute your orders. If you wish, you can turn their AI's off and control all of them one by one, in a turn-based mode. This is achieved by pausing the game and then giving orders to each of the PC's you wish. We want the game to be enjoyed by both real-time and turn-based RPG fans.

Q: How does initiative work?
A: Each character on the field is on a "personal initiative round." This personal initiative round will be on the order of 3-6 seconds long (you probably can adjust it) - and it corresponds roughly to one 60 second round in AD&D. The rounds are equal in length but are non-simultaneous; that is they do not have exactly the same start and end points for all characters and monsters. Within the personal initiative round the weapons and spells fire off at the same proportionate time that they would get released in an AD&D round. That is, a dagger is used quicker in a round than a two-handed sword. A magic missile gets released sooner after spellcasting starts than a fireball, etc. Initiative is determined each round and modifies the timing of swings and spell casts slightly every round, so each round will be slightly different from preceding and following rounds. If a mage is hit between the time he or she starts to cast and the time that the spell is due to get released, the spell is disrupted. Thus shorter cast-time spells are a definite advantage, exactly as in AD&D. We have been careful to adapt the AD&D ruleset to a realtime system maintaining the exact weapon weightings, spell weightings, and the same proportionate timing occurs in Baldur's Gate as in the original ruleset. All in all we hope the net result is a real-time adaptation of the rules, maintaining the original flavor and balance.

Q: How do Experience Points get divvied up?
A: Experience will be divvied up among each member of the party equally regardless of who kills what. This, of course, is subject to change once we begin play testing.

Q: Will morale effects be included in the game?
A: Monsters and NPCs (even those in your party) will suffer and benefit from morale related decisions. Everyone engaged in combat will periodically do a morale check, with failure or success based on how well or badly the fight is going. This involves how much you are outnumbered or how much you outnumber your opponents, whether you have taken or given damage, if comrades of yours have been hurt or killed, etc. The only people immune to this check are PCs, because it is assumed they are bright enough to get out of harm's way if they're not doing so well. However, the NPCs in the party may have other ideas if you insist on fighting a lost cause. Although..there are some characters that might see retreat as a sign of weakness.

Q: How many monsters will there be in the game?
A: There are about 20 base types of monsters (not including uniques) in the game. Each of these has several skews. A ghoul and a ghast are completely different monsters, even though they are counted as one (since they share an animation type). With all the skews there are about 60+ monsters. Not only this, but each monster may have different AI from its compatriots - a brave kobold, a cowardly kobold, for example. Unique monsters add more, as well as NPCs you may encounter - all told there are hundreds of different monsters you can meet.

Q: Will weapon specialization be included in the game?
A: There will be five levels of weapon proficiencies: Proficient, Specialized, Double Specialized, Master, and Grand Master of a weapon. The base level, Proficient, is available for all classes. All other levels of proficiencies are available only to Fighters.

Q: Will critical hits be in the combat system?
A: Absolutely! Not only are they calculated, they are graphically displayed with blood and gore! Of course, the level of graphic violence will be adjustable to allow people of all ages to enjoy the game.

Q: Will bow specialists get bonuses for Point Blank range?
A: What we decided was to implement a consistent bonus for specialists with the bow. It is technically unfeasible to implement point blank bonuses without taking up a lot of the CPU time by continually checking the range.

Q: Will there be different sizes and shapes of shields?
A: Yes. There are three types of shields. They each have different shapes and sizes. The AC of the shield is dependant both on the type and material of the shield.

Q: What's the maximum number of foes you can fight at one time?
A: Currently, the maximum number of monsters on the screen at once is about 20. This will really be decided based on playtesting. It might be a little less in order to maintain the frame rate on a P120 (the minimum recommended system).

Q: Will there be an option to select more or less opponents per battle?
A: No. Technically this is possible, but it would be too difficult to balance the gameplay.

Q: Will monsters just blindly fight or will they make tactical decisions?
A: Monsters have AI. They will run away and regroup, swing around to attack your flank or rear, and have morale that will break according to AD&D rules. Only the bosses will have the smarts to plead for their lives (and some will).

Q: Will I be able to fight with two weapons (one in each hand)?
A: Unfortunately, no. Neither Rangers, nor any other class will be able to fight with dual weapons. It was decided not to include this due to the massive amount of additional graphics required.

Q: What happens when a party member dies?
A: When a party member (other than the leader) dies or falls unconscious, the character's body is placed into the party inventory. The body can then be transported to a place of healing (like a temple etc.). Your main character could conceivably end up carrying 5 bodies if he/she was the lone survivor of a battle (not a very pleasant task).

Q: What are the rules on death and unconsciousness?
A: The game uses the Optional Death's Door rule of AD&D. Once your hp drops between 0 and -9 HP, you are unconscious. You steadily lose HP until you reach -10 HP at which point you are dead, but still resurrectable. If you receive urgent aid (ie healing within a minute or so of gametime) while you are between 0 and -9 HP, you are revived and brought back to 1 HP. However, you will require a full day of rest before further healing will raise your HP above 1. If you sustain a massive amount of damage from a single blow, you may be irrevocably dead. The exact amount of the required damage for this to happen is currently being tweaked in playtesting.

Q: Are multiple simultaneous battles possible?
A: There can be any number of battles within the same 8x8 area occurring simultaneously. However when the leader pauses the combat, all battles in progress are paused.

Q: Can I retrieve arrows that I shoot at monsters?
A: Currently, thrown/missile weapons (arrows, axes, daggers, etc.) will be in the monster's inventory if you hit them. Of course that means you will have to hunt down that monster that you hit with your +1 throwing dagger. If you miss, the weapon will drop to the ground, or be destroyed.

Magic System
Q: How many spells are included in the game?
A: There are currently over 100 spells planned for the game (we've implemented about a third at this point). About 2/3 of these are Mage spells. The other 1/3 are Priest spells. We're adding new ones cautiously where possible - particularly where the effects are similar to spells that are already implemented.

Q: How does casting time affect spellcasters?
A: Each character on the field is on a "personal initiative round." This personal initiative round will be on the order of 3-6 seconds long (you probably can adjust it) - and it corresponds roughly to one 60 second round in AD&D. The rounds are equal in length but are non-simultaneous; that is they do not have exactly the same start and end points for all characters and monsters. Within the personal initiative round the spells fire off at the same proportionate time that they would get released in an AD&D round. That is, a magic missile gets released sooner after spellcasting starts than a fireball, etc. Initiative is determined each round and modifies the timing of spell casts slightly every round, so each round will be slightly different from preceding and following rounds. If a mage is hit between the time he or she starts to cast and the time that the spell is due to get released, the spell is disrupted. Thus shorter cast-time spells are a definite advantage, exactly as in AD&D.

Q: How will magic items be able to be identified?
A: You will be able to identify magic items either by casting the wizard spell, Identify, or taking it to a store that offers item identification. Most stores (particularly ones that sell magic items or temples) will offer this service (for a fee). As well, each character will have a Lore attribute based on wisdom, intelligence, race, class, and experience that can be used to identify items. Bards in particular will have higher Lore skills than other classes.

Q: Can characters cast spells while wearing armor?
A: Multi-classed and Dual-classed Mages must abide by Mages' armor restrictions, and will not be able to cast while wearing armor. The only exception to this is a character wearing a suit of Elven Chainmail. However, if there were elven chainmail in the game (and we do mean IF, because it would be incredibly powerful for low level characters) it would allow your elven magic user to cast spells while wearing it. However, Bards will be able to cast spells while wearing armor. While this is contrary to the rules in the AD&D Player's Handbook, this decision was made to compensate for other talents and abilities that couldn't be implemented. A lot of their spellcasting and abilities were intended to influence role-playing, which is notoriously hard to capture in a CRPG. Playtesting will determine if this is an overcompensation, and the type of armor which Bards may wear while casting might get restricted. However, they will probably be able to wear some form of armor while casting.

Q: Can characters cast spells while wielding weapons?
A: No character class will be able to cast spells while fighting with a weapon. That would be altogether too convenient for fair gameplay. However, Clerics (and multi-classes Clerics) will be able to cast while holding a weapon; you just can't be in combat swinging it.

Multi-Player Game
Q: Is Baldur's Gate going to be multiplayer?
A: Yes. The multiplayer and single-player games are actually based on the exact same story. The whole point of all of this is that we want to capture the feel of the old AD&D adventures, where you entered a campaign world with friends and adventured! The multiplayer game that we are creating is a simulation of the old AD&D sessions of our youth. People can "join" the adventuring party (up to six people per game) by taking over one of the NPCs and if they have to go for supper the party can either stop or continue (with an NPC AI back in the character). We are not creating a "story-less" multiplayer game, we are creating a complex story-based RPG that can be played either single player or multiplayer.

Q: How many people can play Baldur's Gate multiplayer?
A: A maximum of six can play (that's how many people can be in a party).

Q: How does multiplayer actually work?
A: Up to six people can join a game of Baldur's Gate. Each must have a copy of the full game - this is because all of the graphics for the game are still stored on the CD's. If starting the game together, they each generate a new character which is one of the six in the party. If entering the game after it is already under way with less than 6 players, they may be assigned control of one or more NPCs by the player who started the game. Each player may take control of as many NPCs as they wish and may trade control of them. The players now may play the full game with their friends via LAN or the Internet with a TCP/IP connection. Direct connection (2 players head to head cooperative mode) via modems or serial cables may or may not be supported - we're working this out still.

Q: What is the difference between Multiplayer and an Online version?
A: A multiplayer game features a small group of players (6 in the case of Baldur's Gate) that share the adventures and story together. The persistent world supports only the 6 players working together though a common story and quest. In contrast, an online game (text-based MUDs and Ultima Online are examples of true Online games) consists of a persistent world in which many (hundreds or even thousands) of characters play together. Typically there is not a strong story element as the many players make their own quests. We'd love to do a Baldur's Gate Online but recognize that it is truly a massive undertaking, even larger than Baldur's Gate (which has been in production for 2 years and currently has 30 people working on it). We're still not sure whether there will be a Baldur's Gate Online - we'll keep you posted on this subject!

Q: How far can I separate myself from my friends when playing multiplayer?
A: You can go about 1 - 8x8 array of 640x480 game screens away from the rest of the party. This may change as we tweak how information is shared between computers.

Q: Can you build castles, buy land, or own larger "things?"
A: No, you are thinking of an online game. This is a "classic" RPG with adventures in dungeons and with dragons.

Q: How is the gameplay while in multiplayer?
A: The gameplay is essentially the same as in single player except you play with a group of your friends. It's either AI-controlled NPCs or real live human party members.

Q: How does the multiplayer combat system work?
A: In multiplayer only the leader has the ability to "pause" the game; you have to be ready for a little more action. But with less characters to control, the task should be fairly easy. Other than only the leader having a pause capability, combat is essentially identical to the main (single player) game.

Q: Can I duel with my friends in multiplayer mode?
A: Sure. This could be a lot of fun actually. Just make sure you don't kill them if you don't mean to! Of course, the multiplayer mode is a long-term undertaking (you play through the same story as the single player game), so the game is meant to be played as a cooperative venture - you might want to be cautious about attacking your friends!

Q: Can I import my characters from single-player mode into multiplayer mode?
A: This is still under consideration, but the answer is probably no - it is pretty hard to integrate a different strength character into an active storyline without seriously unbalancing gameplay.

Q: How much will the multiplayer service cost?
A: The Multiplayer service will be FREE (as it should be!), but each person will have to own a copy of the game and applicable expansion pack(s).

Q: What happens when the leader of a multi-player game dies?
A: If the main character dies (whether in single- or multi-player games), the game cannot continue and a saved game must be reloaded. The story revolves around a main character, THE main character. If he/she dies, the story cannot go on.

Q: What kind of control does the leader of a multi-player game have?
A: You can think of the leader as having some of the powers that the DM has in a pen and paper AD&D game. When the leader spawns a new multiplayer game, others may ask to join (via TCPIP over the Internet or a LAN). The leader assigns slots to the others and also sets whether they can import/export characters with or without items, and with or without experience, to/from other games. Hence in some games the leader may not allow any items to be imported in, while in others the leader may require setting the starting level of any new characters to 1st level. The type of game is really defined by the leader, and if the other players don't like the type of game or the leader, they can form their own games or find another! Once they have joined, the leader has the only save game for the multiplayer, though players may export their characters to back them up. Additionally, the leader can remove any player from the game at any time. Things that are assignable by the leader to other players include the ability to initiate dialogue with NPCs (which everyone is then forced to read), the ability to leave areas that require the whole group to leave, the ability to spend group funds on purchases, and the ability to pause the game. In some games the leader may elect to reserve assigning these sorts of things to players until they demonstrate maturity. Or, if all the players know each other, the leader may assign these sorts of things to everyone.

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