AD&D and Baldur's Gate (Second Opinion)
By: Terry "DysoN" Martin

Note:  the purpose of this editorial is to attempt to answer most of questions regarding the previous editorial, AD&D and Baldur’s Gate.

Referring back to the editorial, AD&D and Baldur’s Gate, it is true that you get very outrageous rolls for characters in Baldur’s Gate.  (You can even subtract and/or add to a specific stat, something that you can not do in AD&D.)  When rolling for your character’s stats, it is also true that it is very uncommon to get very high rolls or a player rolling 18 on a 3d6.  The only way of getting average (or above average) stats is for the DM to choose the higher character creation methods, specifically IV to VI.  (It is also true that you can not create your own character class/kit in Baldur’s Gate, something that would’ve been more interesting and “better.”)

Player’s in Baldur’s Gate, when creating a new character, get very high hit points.  The mage does get 4 hit points; however, in AD&D, rolling a 4 on a 1d4 die is indeed very hard.  The reason why they (wizard classes) start with 4 hit points was mainly because if they started out with lower hit points, they would die—fast (even the slightest damage can kill a mage).  So, BioWare has made it final that mage characters should start out with 4 hit points (hit die of 1).  Players in a DM’s campaign do indeed get very disappointed when they get low scores.  (In the DMG, there are three categories where below average and too powerful players can be categorized:  ‘Hopeless,’ ‘Hopelessly Average’ and, of course, ‘Too powerful.’)  When they do get really low scores, they can either play that character or create a new one… Not so with Baldur’s Gate.  You can keep rolling until you’re pleased with the scores. 

Players in an AD&D campaign would have to roll for the amount of gold they start out with; ie – fighters roll 5d4x10, whereas Baldur’s Gate, they are randomized (depending on how good or bad your rolls are).  Because of this, players who start out in the town of Candlekeep are “rich”—they have a lot of gold pieces to start the game (because of this, you can sort of “buy” your way out of a problem).

If you could remember this paragraph from the previous editorial:

“If you’ve read the Baldur’s Gate manual, right off the bat, it says that wizards were made weaker to balance out the game more.  Now, that is where I will have to disagree.  Wizard classes in the AD&D games are very weak and don’t have many weapons to start out with.  If you were to play as a mage in a friend’s AD&D campaign, mage’s are indeed weak, but are very intelligent and wise.  In order for a mage to use a spell, that player character (PC) must first memorize the spell, then that character must find the spell ingredients plus the spell components, finally, that character can now cast the spell.  That player has to tell everyone, including the DM, his or her motive(s), then roll 1d10 for initiatives… the lowest will start first.  If you’re casting a spell and it says “4,” uh, well, you would have to add that to your initiative; ie – rolling a 1 and the casting time says 4, you will have to add that up to your initiative, totaling 5.”

Wizard characters, being weak and all, are very powerful classes, depending on how powerful the spell that was cast, can wipe out an army of monsters in seconds (Fireball, Meteor Swarm, Ice Storm, etc.).  The wizard player must indeed memorize the spell first, and then they must find the spell ingredients for it to work.  Casting time was incorporated in Baldur’s Gate, though most spells don’t take that long to cast.  If you were to be interrupted when you’re casting a spell, the spell will no longer function and requires you to do it again… The same goes with AD&D.

If you could also remember this paragraph:

“By making the wizard class find the ingredients, you make that class more balanced.  (Some spell components are:  Vocation, Materials, etc.)  In the AD&D game, there are no such things as “scrolls,” that was something created by the developers of Baldur’s Gate, which was, without the slightest doubt, quite intricate and unique in a sense.  Spells in Baldur’s Gate are rather… weak; they are so weak that very few people would want to play as a mage.  To show, er, rather, prove to you how weak the spell ‘Armour’ is…”

Yes.  It makes it a lot more balanced by making the mage find the spell ingredients.  BioWare, however, has removed this.  If you were to make the player find spell ingredients for a spell, you are wasting a lot of your time, inevitably making the game repetitive, boring and dull.  Regarding scrolls… Scrolls are not mentioned (at all) in the Player’s Handbook.  Period.  They are only mentioned in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.  I was mistaken when I said that they do not “exist.”  Below is a paragraph in the DMG concerning scrolls:

“Scrolls are generally found in cylinders—tubes of ivory, jade, leather, metal, or wood.  Some tubes are inscribed with magic runes or writing PCs must read in order to open the container.  This is up to the DM.  Taking approach encourages players to select and use read magic or comprehend language spells.  It also makes it possible to protect powerful scrolls with traps (symbols, explosive runes) and curses.”

Just because a spellcaster knows a spell, he isn’t automatically endowed with the knowledge to create a scroll or potion of similar function.  The processes and formulae used in each are different.  A spell on a page in a wizard’s spellbook is different from a spell contained on a scroll.  The first requires memorization and may need components or gestures too active.  The latter needs only an utterance to be effective.

The first step in creating a spell scroll (not a protection scroll) is for the wizard or priest to know and able to cast the appropriate spell—the desired spell must exist in his/her spell books.  This means that you can not create a spell scroll if you have never seen the desired spell or has failed to learn it; he/she certainly can not create a scroll for that spell.  If the wizard knows the spell, he/she can begin fabrication.  His/her first step is to assemble the appropriate materials:  quill, ink, and paper.

In Baldur’s Gate, you do not have to (or can) do any of these.  You simply have to find a spell scroll and once you’ve found one, you can either use it or attempt to memorize the desired spell.  It would be interesting if you actually had the ability to do these things (create scrolls and potions).  Unfortunately you have to be at a high level to do so (9th level).  I apologize deeply when I said that scrolls do not “exist” and that it was a unique thing added to Baldur’s Gate.

And now, to talk about the level one spell, Armour…

“When casting the spell in Baldur’s Gate, it only lasts for a few rounds, and is quite, in my honest opinion, useless because it isn’t very effective and doesn’t give you bonus-hit points… it just increases your Armour Class.  Now, cast the same spell in a friend’s AD&D campaign, you will know how powerful the spell is.  The spell will literally last forever until someone or something does 8 points of damage to the level 1 mage; even after the mage has received 8 points of damage, the player will have the same hit point(s) they started out with—talk about effectiveness.  In order for the mage to cast that same spell, the player must find the spell’s ingredients.  Although the player will undoubtedly have a harsh, strenuous time finding the ingredients, the player will know that they have to do it, no matter what.  Again, by making the mage characters do this, it makes the game more fair and balanced.”

Ah, here is a full description of that spell:

  • “Range:  Touch
  • Duration:  Special
  • Area of Effect:  1 creature
  • Components:  V, S, M
  • Casting time:  1 rd.
  • Saving Throw:  None

By means of this spell, the wizard creates a magical field of force that serves as if it were scale mail armour (AC 6).  The spell has no effect on a person already armoured or a creature with Armour Class 6 or better.  It is not cumulative with the shield spell, but it is cumulative with Dexterity and, in case of fighter/mages, with the shield bonus.  The armour spell does not hinder movement or prevent spellcasting, and adds no weight or encumberance.  It lasts until successfully dispelled or until the wearer sustains cumulative damage totalling greater than 8 points + 1 per level of he caster.  (It is important to know to note that the armour does not absorb damage.  The armour merely grants an AC of 6; the wearer might suffer 8 points from an attack, then several minutes later sustain an additional 1 point of damage.  Unless the spell were cast by a wizard of 2nd level or higher, it would be dispelled at this time.  Until it is dispelled, the armour grants the wearer full benefits of the Armour Class gained.

The material component is a piece of finely cured leather that has been blessed by a priest.”

(The spell takes one (1) round to cast… So, you can not be disturbed for 60 seconds or one round.)  Nowhere in those paragraph(s) does it mention that the spell has a limited time.  The spell doesn’t last for 9 hours (or a certain amount of time), but forever until dispelled or the wearer has received 8 points of damage.

I hope this somewhat explains everything.  Heh.