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Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn logo

Black IsleBioWareTSR


Frequently Asked Questions

Index:

General:

Q: When is the release date?
A: Street date is set for Fall of 2000 (3rd quarter).

Q: Who is developing Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (BGII:SoA)? BioWare or Black Isle Studios?
A: BioWare Corp is the developer for Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn. BioWare Corp developed Baldur's Gate, Tales of the Sword Coast, and created the Bioware Infinity Engine. Black Isle Studios is the publisher for all of these titles and is developing both Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment using the Bioware Infinity Engine. Bioware Corp and Black Isle Studios have been and will continue to work together very closely on these titles.

Q: Will BGII:SoA use 2nd or 3rd edition AD&D rules?
A: The game will be using 2nd edition AD&D rules, much like the original Baldur's Gate did. In this incarnation of the game, we will be implementing some of the optional rules, such as character kits, to enhance the Forgotten Realms experience. There will be a section in the manual dedicated to explaining the basics, and the rules for the new player.

Q: Are you changing/adding many AD&D rules?
A: We will be adding new classes, spells and items, so that means that we will be adding new rules to accommodate these additions. As always, playtesting can and will change how the game is played, and this means the rule set used as well. Fun and immersion are always our top priority.

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

Q: Is BGII:SoA real-time or turn-based?
A: The BGII:SoA 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 six character party with minimal need to resort to the space bar for pausing. For those of you that recall the excellent Microprose game, Darklands, the real-time combat and pausing system can be considered to be similar. X-Com 3 uses a similar pause feature as well.

Q: But turn-based is so much better than real-time.
A: The game is real-time but we have provided options to permit a pseudo-turn-based system. Beside using the space bar to pause game, you can set options which will automatically pause the game, such as your character being hit, reaching a low number of hit points, or their weapon breaking. It can also be set to pause each time it is the character's turn.

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 actions 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.

Q: Will there be more choices for character sounds, scripts and portraits in BGII:SoA?
A: Yes. We plan to provide additional sounds, scripts and portraits for the player characters. You will also be able to use all the portraits from Baldur's Gate. If you don't like what we offer, you can still import your own custom ones as before. Also, the new character sound sets have more selection sounds and special sounds, such as "Inventory full".

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. Custom sounds should be 22 kHz, 16-bit mono WAV files.

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 for Baldur's Gate at BioWare for your viewing pleasure. We are adding 171,000 more frames for BGII:SoA. This does not include things like animated water, waving flags or other animated objects of any kind.

Q: Have the character animations been improved in BGII:SoA?
A: Yes, each avatar now uses twice as many animations as in Baldur's Gate making them look smoother.

Q: Will the paperdolls on the inventory screen be changed?
A: Yes, the paperdolls have all been replaced with new versions in BGII:SoA.

Q: Will if be possible to hide the interface?
A: It is now possible to hide the left, right and bottom panels of the interface, in any combination. The full-screen mode provides better immersion into the game. When you press pause in full-screen mode, the interfaces will reappear as they were last set, and disappear again when you unpause.

Q: What will the new interface look like?
A: The graphical user interface will feature a Byzantine brown stone instead of the gray stone from Baldur's Gate. There have been literally hundreds of improvments to the interface. Everything from General layout and aethesthetics to cleaning up the functionality to improve the "ease of use" of the game.

Q: Will the Rest button be moved?
A: Yes, the Rest button will now be found on the main game screen. The Guard/Protect button has been removed as most people did not use it.

Q: Will it be possible to exit cutscenes before they are over?
A: We are planning to allow you to press ESC to skip the cutscenes.

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Technical:

Q: What are the minimum requirements for BGII:SoA?
A: The minimum system requirements are currently a P200, 32 megs of RAM and a 2 meg video card. As with any minimum requirement, it is the minimum. Bigger is better, more is faster. For 3D, you need any 2 meg 3D card that supports OpenGL.

Q: Is a 3D required?
A: No. There will be 2D as well as 3D versions of all the effects than can use 3D. If you don't have a 3D card, the 2D version will be used.

Q: What 3D cards are supported?
A: 3D is implemented via OpenGL. So any card that supports OpenGL will be able to take advantage of BGII:SoA's 3D effects. We have found that the TNT line of cards to be faster (due to a full good implementation of OpenGL). As well, the 3Dfx line of cards will not run in a window, so BGII:SoA will not run in a window if you are using one of these cards to run the game.

Q: Does it use a 3D engine?
A: Yes and no. The backgrounds are still 2D and utilizing the BioWare Infinity engine. The Infinity engine has been updated substantially, and one of the improvements is the inclusion of 3D support. This means that certain things in BGII:SoA utilize the 3D support for visual enhancement and speed. The most visible benefactors of this feature will be the spell effects, but other things, such as "fog of war" and water, now use 3D as well.

Q: What resolutions are supported? What card do I need for them?
A: You can now play BGII:SoA in resolutions up to and including 800*600. Technically, you can play at the 800*600 resolution with a 2 meg 2D card, but ideally you need a 4 meg card to get a reasonable frame rate. You can also choose to use the 640*480 resolution. There will also be unofficial support for resolutions such as 1024*768 etc., which you can use by editing the game's configuration files.

Q: Will 3D sound be supported?
A: We plan to include 3D sound, most likely Creative's EAX and Aureal's A3D.

Q: Which version of DirectX does the game use?
A: The game will use DirectX 7.0 (which will be included with the game).

Q: What is the minimum/full install size?
A: : Although not finalized, it will be very similar to Baldur's Gate in regards to install size.

Q: How many CDs is it?
A: We are not sure yet, probably four, five at the most.

Q: Will there be a DVD version at the time of shipping?
A: We would like to do a DVD version. As it stands, we believe there will be one, but we aren't promising anything.

Q: Will an editor be included to simplify writing custom scripts?
A: We will provide documentation explaining how to write scripts. We have not yet decided whether or not to include an editor.

Q: Will I be able to create my own dungeons and modules?
A: No. The twenty editors and other tools used to create Baldur's Gate are too complex for us to release. We are, however, working on the multiplayer game Neverwinter Nights, where allowing you to create your own modules is a major facet of the design.

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Characters:

Q: What level will a new character be in BGII:SoA?
A: New characters created in BGII:SoA will start with 89,000 experience points (XP), the XP cap from Baldur's Gate. Different classes will begin at different levels, which for single-classed characters are:

  • Fighter: 7th
  • Paladin: 7th
  • Ranger: 7th
  • Wizard: 7th
  • Cleric: 7th
  • Druid: 8th
  • Thief: 8th
  • Bard: 8th

Q: How big can my party be?
A: When you start BGII:SoA, 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 NPCs and get other NPCs to join you whenever you like. Six does not include charmed monsters, familiars, or other NPCs that may be apart of your party from time to time. 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: 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: I loved Minsc. Will he return?
A: Like in Baldur's Gate, NPCs with interesting personalities can join your party. There will be 16 such NPCs in BGII:SoA, including five which are returning from the original game. Four of these are Minsc (and Boo), Imoen, Jaheira and Edwin. Each of these NPCs will have as much scripting as all the NPCs from Baldur's Gate combined to make them more responsive to the protagonist and the world around them. For instance, they may have romances with the main character or betray him/her, and are now aware of your sex. Other NPCs from Baldur's Gate, like Garrick, Coran, Tiax and Xzar can be met but will not join the party. One of the new NPCs will be a gnomish thief/illusionist Jan Jansen, who will invent different items during the course of the game.
*Other new NPCs:
Nalia - human, dualed thief/mage (yes, there is a reason for the T/M thing, not to worry),
Yoshimo: (human, bounty hunter),
Korgan: dwarf, battlerager (this is the only dwarven NPC, so no good dwarven NPCs, sorry. Korgan is a blast, though.),
Haer'Dalis: tiefling, blade

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). This, of course, applies to the one character you can create - the rest will join with the ability scores predetermined in the single-player game.

Q: Can I import my characters from Baldur's Gate?
A: Yes, you can take your characters from the original Baldur's Gate or from the expansion, Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast. Because there have been some changes to the rule set and character generation, you may have to reselect certain skills during the importing process. You can use either an exported character(s) or a saved game. All characters are brought up to 89,000 experience, the XP cap from Baldur's Gate, unless the character was from Tales of the Sword Coast. In that case, the character may have up to 161,000, a perk for those that decided to purchase the expansion pack.

Q: If I import my character will I get to keep my ability scores?
A: Yes. You will be able to keep your ability scores, even if they are over 18. You will also keep all your special abilities, gained through the dreams.

Q: Can I import my multiplayer party?
A: Yes, you can import all characters that you created and start a new multiplayer game. You cannot import any NPCs that joined your party.

Q: Can I import my character from Planescape: Torment or Icewind Dale?
A: No. At this time, you cannot import characters from these products.

Q: Can I use my Baldur's Gate II character in Baldur's Gate?
A: No, characters from the sequel are not compatible with the original game.

Q: What is the level/XP cap for BGII:SoA?
A: The current XP cap is set at 2,950,000, resulting in the following maximum levels for single-classed characters:

  • Fighter: 19th
  • Paladin: 17th
  • Ranger: 17th
  • Wizard: 17th
  • Cleric: 21st
  • Druid: 14th
  • Thief: 23rd
  • Bard: 23rd

Q: Why does druid only get to level 14?
A: Because at level 15 and onwards, druids will gain many new extremely powerful abilities which are very difficult to implement properly. We do not want to put in a "half feature", it's all the way or nothing. Maybe in a possible expansion pack...

Q: But won't the druids be very weak compared to other characters?
A: No. Duids will still be very powerful and fun to play. We have added many new spells, such as Firestorm. They will also have new shapeshifting abilities, which are even more powerful if you take the Shapechanger kit.

Q: What about racial level limits?
A: We have decided that we will not be implementing racial limits in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn.

Q: Can I play the assassin class?
A: Yes, you can play that class as well as many others. We have added 20+ kits and classes to the already large list from the original Baldur's Gate.

Q: Which kits are there to choose from?
A: Although not final, and subject to change, the current list of kits is: Fighter (Berserker, Wizardslayer, Kensai), Ranger (Archer, Beastmaster, Stalker), Paladin (Cavalier, Inquisitor, Undead Slayer), Cleric (Priest of Talos, Priest of Lathander, Priest of Helm), Druid (Shapeshifter, Totemic Druid, Avenger), Mage (8 specialty mages as in Baldur's Gate), Thief (Assassin, Swashbuckler, Bounty Hunter) and Bard (Blade, Jester, Skald).

Q: Can I choose a kit for my cleric at the start of the game?
A: No. You must complete a quest in order to become a specialty priest. Each priest type (including regular cleric) will have their own stronghold.

Q: Are there any new classes?
A: Yes. We have added three new classes to the game, sorcerer, barbarian and monk.

Q: What are the new classes like?
A: The sorcerer will be spellcaster which gains new spell levels very slowly, but will be able to cast much more spells per day than a regular mage. The monk will be a kung-fu fighter with completely new animation. The barbarian... that's a secret.

Q: Can my imported character have a kit?
A: When importing a character, you are given the option of reassigning the class and thus may choose a kit for that character.

Q: Will I be able to change my class when I import a character?
A: No you won't.

Q: What kits can multiclassed and dual-classed characters have?
A: Multiclassed characters are not permitted to use kits. Dual-classed characters may select a kit for their first class.

Q: Can I be a wild mage?
A: They are difficult to implement properly, but we they are quite high on the "to do" list. They might be implemented if we have time. If we do not have the time to put it in, it would be a great addition to a mission pack, wouldn't it?

Q: What new races have been added?
A: We have added the Half-Orc to the playable character races. These big brutes make great warriors due to their strong physiques. The list of playable character races are: Human, Elf, Half-Elf, Dwarf, Gnome, Halfling and Half-Orc.

Q: Can I be a Drow Elf?
A: Subraces have not been introduced in BGII:SoA. You can choose skin and hair colours for your Elf which will make you look like a Drow, but you will not receive any special bonuses or penalties for doing so. However, you will have the opportunity to visit a Drow city and the Underdark.

Q: What changes have been made to weapon proficiencies in BGII:SoA?
A: Instead of becoming proficient in groups of weapons, you will now spend your proficiency slots on single weapons as in AD&D (eg. long sword instead of all large blades). You can also learn weapon styles using weapon proficiency slots. If you imported a character, you will need to reassign your proficiency slots.

Q: What are weapon styles? Does it have something to do with dual-wielding?
A: The weapon styles you can choose from are: one-handed weapon, two-handed weapon, weapon and shield, and two-weapon. Two-weapon style allows you to wield two one-handeded weapons, one in each hand (like Drizzt). You select weapon styles from the same proficiency list as weapons. Each style increases you combat abilities, for example, the two-handed weapon style gives you faster attack speed and an increased chance to score critical hits.

Q: Will Rangers be able to use a weapon in each hand?
A: Yes. Rangers will know two weapons style and have fewer penalties than other classes.

Q: Will wizardslayer be able to use any magic items?
A: Wizardslayers may use magical melee weapons, but nothing else (like armor or rings).

Q: Can kensai use magical weapons?
A: Yes, they can.

Q: Are there new weapons I can use?
A: Several new weapons have been added including the katana, wakizashi and ninja-to.

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. Rangers, Paladins, and multiclass fighters can be Specialized. All other levels of proficiencies are available only to Fighters.

Q: Have the allowable character's skills changed in BGII:SoA?
A: Some changes and additions have been made to the character's skills. For instance, the Stealth ability of Baldur's Gate has been split into Hide in Shadows and Move Silently as in AD&D. Thieves will also be able to Set Traps and Detect Illusions. You will need to redistribute your skills when importing a character.

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. These 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: Can my thief climb walls?
A: No. As the game is 2D, you cannot climb walls. However, certain areas on the map are higher than others so it is still possible to gain a height advantage.

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 (as in AD&D, 2nd Edition).

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: Will my Ranger be able to Hide in Shadows in the wilderness?
A: Yes, the Ranger will be able to Hide in Shadows, essentially making them invisible to 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.

Q: Will Druids be able to Shapechange into animals?
A: Yes. At 7th level, Druids will be able to Shapechange into a selection of animals.

Q: Magic resistance made it impossible for me to heal some of my party members. Can you change that?
A: Magic resistance in BGII:SoA will likely only affect offensive spells cast at the character and not defensive spells such as healing or Haste.

Q: How many new spells are there in BGII:SoA?
A: BGII:SoA will feature 300 spells, compared to 130 in Baldur's Gate. This includes 7th level priest spells and 9th level mage spells, the most powerful in AD&D. Some of these spells are: Contingency, Chain Contingency, Gate, Spell Turning, Delayed Blast Fireball, Time Stop, Disintegrate, Power Word: Kill, Finger of Death, Resurrection, Chain Lightning, Conjure Elemental, Blade Barrier, Meteor Swarm and Cacofiend.

Q: Can my mage learn 9th level spells?
A: Yes and no. Because of the XP cap, a player's mage will not be high enough level at the end of the game to memorize 9th level spells from his spellbook. However, it will be possible to find scrolls with these spells which the character can use to cast the spell.

Q: How do I copy a spell into my spellbook?
A: You must copy spells from scrolls. Right click on the scroll and select write magic. Whether you are successful or not depends on your intelligence. Intelligence also limits the number of spells you can have for each spell level in your spell book. If you are not given the option to write the spell in your book, it means that you already have the spell in your book, you have reached the maximum number for your intelligence or, in the case of specialist mages, it is from an opposition school so you cannot learn it. Priests do not write spells in a book. Once they reach the appropriate character level, they can choose to memorize any spell from a given spell level.

Q: How do I cast a spell?
A:To cast spells, you must first memorize them by selecting them in your spellbook or priest scroll, and then sleep overnight, without interruption. Click on the spell icons to move them around in your spellbook or priest scroll. Once the spell is cast, it is erased from your memory until you relearn it. It is possible to memorize multiple copies of the same spell. AD&D does not use spell points or mana.

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

Q: Are there diseases in the game?
A: Yes. BGII:SoA will have disease so Cure Disease will be an important skill. One of paladins' abilities is immunity to sickness, which will come in handy.

Q: Are there horses in BGII:SoA?
A: Ones you can ride? No. We thought about this carefully and decided against it. We took into consideration that using horses would unbalance combat, break scripts, add a layer of complexity to gameplay AND add tons of animation. It does not benefit the game as much as it would cost to implement.

Q: Can I run (as opposed to always walking) in BGII:SoA?
A: No. Very similar to the horse debate. However, we did speed up the overall walk speed (1.5x), and there are far fewer "empty" areas. The "long walks with nothing happening" issue has been addressed.

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 - BGII:SoA 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).

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Gameplay:

Q: How long is BGII:SoA?
A: BGII:SoA is shaping up to be a very large game. The "critical path", or main plot, of the game will be around 50-60 gaming hours. If you do every quest, go for the best armor etc. and class specific subquests our estimates are between 200-300 gaming hours.

Q: Where does BGII:SoA take place?
A: An epic continuation of the plot that was started in Baldur's Gate, BGII:SoA is set along the southern portion of the Sword Coast, a detailed and rich area of the Forgotten Realms called Amn. This region includes such varied environments as the Elven forests of Tethir, underwater cities, the Cloudpeak Mountains, cities of the Underdark, the Astral plane, the Abyss, and the capital city of Amn, Athkatla. We are working closely with the talented group at TSR and they are very excited with what we are exploring in BGII:SoA. With all of the source materials from the AD&D world to work with, we have the ability to create a detailed setting that is truly immersive.

Q: In which year is BGII:SoA set?
A: Baldur's Gate was set in the year 1370 DR (Dale Reckoning), 12 years after the Time of Troubles. Shadows of Amn takes place several months after the fall of Sarevok and the city of Baldur's Gate has been saved from a war with Amn.

Q: What is the plot?
A: In BGII:SoA, you face an uncertain future, with a lineage that tempts the unscrupulous to use you and the ignorant to fear you. You will face a foe that views you as no more than chattel, that toys with you at every turn; a villain whose goals go beyond a quest for power, and who threatens to use a lost companion as a tool for destruction unparalleled. The choices to be made will not be easy, and you may have to align with the lesser of evils, when all evils cannot help but seem equal. In the end you will have mourned lost loves, celebrated new ones, and had adventures that profoundly shaped the Realms.

Q: Where do I begin the game?
A: You awake imprisoned in a cage. Imoen appears, releasing you and saying that you need to escape. Nearby, you find Minsc and Jaheira, also locked up, but no key. And because of your imprisonment, you lack your equipment and money from Baldur's Gate.

Q: What do you mean I've lost all my stuff? What about my Defender +5?
A: You will be able to recover some of your equipment as you explore BGII:SoA. For instance, instead of a longsword +1 that a new character will find, you might find your longsword +2. However, some magic items will be removed for balancing reasons, such as your Defender +5. Don't worry. Hundreds of new magic items, many more powerful than what you had before, can be found in BGII:SoA. If you imported many characters (from multiplayer), you have bigger chances to find the items you had (assuming that they have different items).

Q: Will there be magical tomes to increase my ability scores?
A: No. There will be no tomes in BGII:SoA. They unbalance the game as we learned in Baldur's Gate.

Q: Will there be any sub-plots in the game not related to the main story?
A: There will be 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 own a castle?
A: Each class will be able to posses some sort of stronghold, once they reach the appropriate level and complete a major quest for it. Which stronghold you get depends on your class with multiclasses being able to choose which one by deciding which quest to pursue. Some examples are a keep for fighters, a hall with many secrets for wizards, a temple for clerics and a thieves' guild for thieves. You do not design the stronghold as it is pre-rendered art. You can only own one stronghold and for multiplayer games, only the protagonist may possess a stronghold. The stronghold quests, although interesting, are optional and not part of the central plot.

Q: Will my paladin get a holy sword?
A: By completing his quest to find a Holy Avenger sword he may gain entry into the Order of the Radiant Heart. This is the paladin's "stronghold". At the opposite side, there will be a life-draining sword that only evil characters are able to use. There will also be a Sunblade, which is extremely powerful against certain evil and undead creatures.

Q: What are the Holy Avenger's attributes? What type of sword is it?
A: The Holy Avenger is a two-handed sword which will work as a regular +2 weapon if used by non-paladins. In the hands of a paladin, it will act as a +5 sword, which inflicts additional +10 damage to chaotic evil creatures. It will also give the wielder +50% magic resistance and the ability to dispel magic.

Q: How do I become a Great Druid?
A: You earn this position by completing the character-specific quest for the druid.

Q: Do I need to manage my stronghold?
A: Yes. Owning a stronghold has certain responsibilities. You must give orders to your underlings and listen to your subjects or risk losing your stronghold. In return, you will gain information, money and other rewards. Take the bard's stronghold, a playhouse, as an example. You need to hire actors and choose their roles, separate two competing divas, possibly rewrite the music and the play itself, and live through opening night. If you are a fighter, be prepared to defend your keep from attacking enemies.

Q: There were too many FedEx-like fetching quests in Baldur's Gate. I hate those types of quests.
A: We've made the scripting much more complex and thus the quests in BGII:SoA will be more intricate. There will also be more puzzles to solve. You'll be hard-pressed to find a simple FedEx quest in BGII:SoA.

Q: Can I have a familiar or a pet?
A: Yes, we have permitted wizards to have familiars, such as Imps, and rangers may have animal companions.

Q: I haven't played Baldur's Gate. Will there be a tutorial to help me play?
A: Yes, there will be a detailed tutorial unrelated to the main story that will familiarize you with the interfaces and teach you how to control your party.

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. You will now be able to annotate the map. Clicking on a location brings up a dialogue box in which you type your text. This then appears as a "flag" on the map, which can be viewed by pressing the TAB key when over the flag, or double clicking the flag.

Q: Can I annotate my journal?
A: There will be a journal that will automatically chronicle your adventures including the quests you have agreed to accomplish and the major milestones in the story. The journal will be separated into four sections: active quests, completed quests, critical path notes, and player comments. The new journal and ability to annotate maps will make record keeping easier and more comprehensive than before.

Q: Will I have to walk all they way across the world every time?
A: You will have the option to travel to previously visited places instantaneously (in real time), although game time still passes and there is still a chance of random encounters.

Q: Will I be able to tell the alignments of other characters in my party?
A: Alignment will be stored on the character sheet. Once a PC or NPC joins the party, you can access their character sheet.

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. 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! Alignment will help determine how people, NPCs especially, treat your character, and how well or poorly they get along with him. If you imported your character from Baldur's Gate, your reputation won't follow you as no one has heard of you in Amn.

Q: How does the communication with NPCs work?
A: Upon initiating dialog, you will be given choices to select from, usually at least three different ones. Further choices will depend on the first answers, as well as your charisma or other statistics. 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.

Q: What changes were made to the dialog in BGII:SoA?
A: Dialog is still based on selecting choices, but has been made more complex. We have broken dialogs into smaller pieces, normally 2-3 sentences, giving you greater chance to affect its course and cutting down on non-essential material. The leader and reputation will also have greater affect on conversations. While you are talking, one of your NPCs might take part to the conversation and let you hear his/her opinion.

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. Unidentified items will have a blue shading over its icon.

Q: How will infravision work?
A: Characters with infravision will see everything in shades of red, not just heat sources. Moving a character with infravision into a dark area will automatically turn on infravision. It is possible to select an option so that if any character in the selected group has infravision, such a view will be used on the screen, instead of having to select the actual character with infravision.

Q: Gems took up too much of my inventory. Can you give us a bag of holding?
A: We have added a gem bag, as well as a scroll case. Now you can carry all those precious gems and important notes without running out of space.

Q: Which currencies from AD&D are included in the game?
A: : Currently, we are using only gold pieces. We felt that adding complexity to the monetary system would not add to the gaming experience.

Q: Will there be banks in BGII:SoA?
A: No, each person has a limit to what he/she can carry, based on weight and strength of the individual characters. Money is kept in a common party pool and has no weight. Extra objects can be left on the ground, but sometimes NPCs or monsters may come around and help themselves to those items. Objects stored in containers, like chests and cupboards, are safe from these scavengers.

Q: Will encumbrance be a factor in determining how much I can carry?
A: Yes. Encumbrance will be tracked for each character and is determined by your strength attribute.

Q: Will there be seasonal changes?
A: Yes and no. There won't be any seasonal changes as the game is set in the summer, although snow may be found in the mountains. It may rain and there is a slight chance of being hit by lightning in a thunderstorm.

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 high Find/Remove Traps skill or a cleric with a Find Traps spell will be extremely useful in the game. The traps on the floor have been changed so that they will only take a portion of the space and don't cross the whole corridor anymore.

Q: In Baldur's Gate, characters had problems navigating small passages and staying in formation. Has this been improved?
A: Pathfinding is much better in BGII:SoA. Characters will now bump others out of the way instead of "taking the long way".

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Combat:

Q: How does the combat system actually work?
A: The combat system is based on the rules set out by the 2nd edition AD&D Player's Handbook. BGII:SoA uses these rules and adapts them to the real-time format used in the game. In the game manual, there is 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 AIs 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 PCs you wish. We want the game to be enjoyed by both real-time and turn-based RPG fans.

Q: How does initiative work for combat and spell casting?
A: Each character on the field is on a "personal initiative round." This personal initiative round will be 6 seconds long - 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 rule set to a real-time system maintaining the exact weapon weightings, spell weightings, and the same proportionate timing. BGII:SoA will follow the same system as in Baldur's Gate. All in all, we hope the net result is a real-time adaptation of the rules that maintains the original flavor and balance of AD&D.

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: 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: Will changing armor or weapons during combat occur instantaneously?
A: 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 your 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 modes of attack for your party members.

Q: Can characters cast spells while wearing armor?
A: Multiclassed 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, one that can be found in the game. Bards must also follow these restrictions, although some special armor for bards will be added in BGII:SoA.

Q: Will invisible characters be able to been seen by other members of the party?
A: Yes, the character image will be transparent but still visible to the rest of the party.

Q: How can I find out how badly damaged everyone is?
A: Pressing the TAB key over a character will tell you their current hit points and maximum hit points. If the game is paused, the TAB key will result in these statistics for all characters on the screen being shown. For non-party NPCs and monsters, pressing TAB over their animation will reveal how badly hurt they are using descriptions like "Heavily Wounded" or "Near Death". Damage will still be shown over the party members' portraits using red shading as in Baldur's Gate.

Q: What are the rules on death and unconsciousness?
A: Being reduced to 0 hit points results in normal death, from which you can be resurrected. If the character is reduced to -10 then the character is irrevocably dead. Normally, dead characters will remain in the party and can be revived at temples.

Q: What happens when a party member dies?
A: When a party member (other than the leader) dies, the character's body disappears while all of the character's equipment drops to the ground. The body can then be transported to a place of healing like a temple. 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). The dead character's equipment will have to be carried by other party members until that individual is once again alive. If the main character dies, the game must be reloaded.

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. However, if you are using a ranged weapon in hand-to-hand combat, there is a severe penalty to hit.

Q: Can I retrieve arrows that I shoot at monsters? What about other thrown weapons?
A: No, you cannot. Once you use an arrow or other missile weapon, it is not retrievable.

Q: My darts were always running out, forcing me to switch to a new pile manually. Have you changed this?
A: No. We are not planning to make changes to how darts are handled.

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: 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 game time does pass during rest 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.

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 character's relative location to the leader when he/she selects Follow. You will be able to form and reform at any time. Quite a number of formations are included - some are offensive, some are defensive. Right-clicking the formations on the game screen will bring up additional choices.

Q: Will there be different sizes and shapes of shields?
A: Yes. There are three types of shields of different shapes and sizes, as well as bucklers. The AC of the shield is dependent both on the type and material of the shield.

Q: Will there be an option to select more or less opponents per battle?
A: No. But, encounters can be adjusted in the Options page using the difficulty setting. Setting it to easier will weaken the enemies that are encountered (and provide less experience points), while choosing a more difficult setting will make the encounter harder, although no extra experience points will be gained.

Q: How do experience points(XP) get divvied up?
A: Experience will be divvied up among each member of the party equally regardless of who kills what. This will ensure that the mighty fighter that gets the killing blow does not get more experience than the cleric that healed him throughout the battle.

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. Some of the smarter ones may plead for their lives.

Q: How many monsters will be in BGII:SoA (and what)?
A: There will be over 130 unique monster types in BGII:SoA (compared to about 60 in Baldur's Gate). Some of those that you will fight are: Beholders, Djinni, Elementals, Githyanki, Golems, Kuo-Toa, Leopards, Mephits, Mind Flayers, Otyughs, Sahaugin, Spectres, Trolls, Umber Hulks, Vampires and Wraiths.

Q: Will there be dragons?
A: The game engine can now handle very large monsters. The largest monster we have won't even fit one screen. Whether there are dragons, is a surprise.

Q: Can we meet Drizzt again?
A: It may be possible to meet Drizzt again, and he may not be happy if you killed him in Baldur's Gate. Black panthers now roam the Realms.

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Multiplayer:

Q: Is BGII:SoA going to be multiplayer?
A: Yes. The multiplayer and single-player games are actually based on the exact same story. The whole point 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 again controlling 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. All players can also create their own PCs, with one being designated as the story's main character.

Q: How many people can play BGII:SoA multiplayer and how does it actually work?
A: Up to six people can join a game of BGII:SoA. Each must have a copy of the full game - this is because all of the graphics for the game are still stored on the CDs. 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, the player who started the game may assign them control of one or more NPCs. 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 connections (two players, head-to-head, cooperative mode) via modems or serial cables are also supported.

Q: What is the difference between multiplayer and an online version?
A: A multiplayer game features a small group of players (six in the case of BGII:SoA) that share the adventures and story together. The persistent world supports only the six 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 BGII:SoA.

Q: How far can I separate myself from my friends when playing multiplayer?
A: You can go about one 8x8 array of 640x480 game screens away from the rest of the party.

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, or someone that has been granted leader permission, has the ability to "pause" the game; you have to be ready for a little more action. But with fewer characters to control, the task should be fairly easy. Otherwise, combat is essentially identical to the 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: Yes, you can import characters from single player into multiplayer mode. You can also create all six characters in multiplayer, and play through the game with them by yourself. It would be just like playing the single-player game, except you have total control over the creation of all six characters.

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.

Q: What happens when the leader of a multiplayer game dies?
A: If the main character dies (whether in single- or multiplayer 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 multiplayer game have?
A: You can think of the leader as having some of the powers that the Dungeon Master has in a pen and paper AD&D game. When the leader spawns a new multiplayer game, others may ask to join (via TCP/IP 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, 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.

Q: What changes have been made to multiplayer in BGII:SoA?
A: Multiplayer in BGII:SoA has been modified to remove some irritations that were present in Baldur's Gate. Speaking with NPCs will no longer pause the game for all players, except when that dialog is important for the plot. Thus, you can chat with the locals without bothering the other players, but won't miss any of the story. For other players to learn what that NPC had to say they will have to talk to them themselves or the other player will need to relay the information. The lack of pausing also applies to conversations with shop owners, allowing you to buy and sell independently of the other players. Finally, players can now write the histories that appear on the character sheet, which other players can read while the character is in the party.

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