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Throne of Bhaal Character Guide (Baldur's Gate 2)

By the time you arrive in Throne of Bhaal, any of the NPC's you bring with you from the first game will be formidable party members, having long ago overcome their original flaws and drawbacks (or at least learned how to cover them up with gauntlets of dexterity or something like that). All of them, even the ones I personally can't stand, will be able to pull their weight, and each of them will ultimately get a resolution to their story.

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By the time you are approaching Throne of Bhaal you will probably already know which characters you like and want to see through to the finish... but you might be vacillating over which of the six or more characters who were sometime members of your SoA group you want to bring with you, or who, if anyone, to leave behind to make room for Sarevok. So here is a brief overview of your possible companions for these final chapters.

Imoen is your adoptive sister and best bud from BG1, and as if that weren't enough to make you feel obliged to keep her around, she was also revealed to be your half-sister and a second Bhaalspawn in SoA. Unsurprisingly, she has a lot to say about the events of Throne of Bhaal, and is very much worth taking along for plot and character development purposes. She also has more remarks and interactions to offer than any of the NPCs but Jaheira. Imoen's original portrait from BG1 remains in the BG2 image gallery, for those of us who may not agree with Bioware's attempts to turn her into an imperilled-looking waif with pink hair. (You can change it back, if you care to, either by renaming the files manually or by using an application like Shadowkeeper. Just change NIMOENS and NIMOENM to IMOENS and IMOENM). Anyway, Immie remains competent enough at locks and traps to free you up from needing a full-time thief around if you don't want one, in addition to her formidable magecraft, and as she hinted in SoA, she starts developing Bhaalspawn powers to boot.

Sarevok is your evil brother from BG1. He is not a Bhaalspawn anymore, but he knows more about them than anyone else alive, and in return for your help at the beginning of Throne of Bhaal, he will come with you on your quest (even offering to swear a geas to you if you want). It's up to you whether to trust him or not, but he has a cool story arc in which you get the chance to direct his future course, and he is very relevant to the plot. Sarevok is basically a straight tank; he has the best stats of any NPC, but also will start out significantly lower-level than the rest of the group. If you give him his old sword, which you may well still have with you somewhere, it will still not regain all its special powers from BG1--Sarevok will explain that's because he isn't a Bhaalspawn anymore. He does have a special ability called the Deathbringer, though, which has a small chance to stun or cause massive damage to an opponent every time he gets a successful hit. (This will cause the screen to shake; it took me a while to figure out why.) Sarevok has an interaction with every other NPC you can have in your party (he has an especially telling conversation with Anomen if the alignments line up right), and it is particularly interesting to have him and Imoen along for the ride together. Sarevok's final "where is he now" blurb is the most irritating of the batch, since it will be the same regardless of the choices you and Sarevok have made during your story arc together and may directly contradict what he just told you two minutes ago.

Jaheira is another friend from BG1, and another victim of BG2's bizarre ugly-pigtail fetish. Jaheira's new look wouldn't be that bad if not for the fact that it was patently unnecessary, as the much prettier original portrait is, like Imoen's, still in their image gallery (change NJAHEIRS and NJAHEIRM to JAHEIRAS and JAHEIRAM to put her back the way nature made her. (-: ) Ratty hair or no ratty hair, Jaheira remains one of the most worthwhile characters in the game from a character interaction standpoint, having the most remarks to make of any of your potential NPCs. She's also the most dangerous multiclass, a true fighter who can cast Ironskins on herself every day in addition to handling the party's healing needs.

Minsc is another old BG1 friend. Either you love him or he drives you up a wall, and if it's the latter, you probably haven't hung with him all the way through SoA, where he is the only character with no subquests or anything associated with him. He doesn't have much to do in ToB, either, but he keeps up the entertaining running commentary with his hamster, so you may want him around anyway. Minsc's berserking power is much more of a pain than it's worth, in my opinion, but at high levels he (like all other warriors) will start picking up some better powers to use in its stead. Minsc's dajemma thingie with Aerie is essentially over now, with the exception of a painfully nonfunny dialogue in which he asks her to cure his jock itch, and having those two together in the party can be a real liability, since he goes berserk and attacks everyone in sight (including you) if Aerie takes heavy damage, something that happens with great frequency since Aerie has the constitution of a box of Kleenex.

Yoshimo is dead and you can't have him back. The ghost teases you by offering his name as a former companion he can bring back, but if you ask about him, the ghost won't be able to do it on account of he's dead. It doesn't matter if you brought him to Spellhold or not, saw him die or not. This will always happen. Crime just doesn't pay, does it, Yoshi?

Aerie, the waiflike fairy who lost her wings to infection while she was a slave in a circus and NEVER LETS YOU FORGET IT, is a true magical dynamo by this point in the game, with her high stats giving her so many spells they had to add an extra menu button to help you scroll through them all (press the little book on the far left to toggle between her mage and cleric spells). Aerie's voice set changes a little partway through the game, replacing her inane battle cry "I... I don't like the looks of this!" with a couple of less grating alternatives. A welcome measure, but she continues to whine and snivel every time she gets wounded or tired or it gets dark out or you're in a dungeon, something that gets progressively more irritating the more experienced and competent she gets. Aerie's interplay with Minsc is over (except for a painfully nonfunny dialogue with him about his jock itch), and her romance with Haerdalis a thing of the past (oddly, she does continue to call him 'my bard'). Aerie has a few interesting dialogues with Imoen, Nalia, and Valygar, and if you've somehow managed to keep her and Korgan together in your party, they will reward you with one of the funniest conversations in the entire game. (I mean this. I'm not usually that into Aerie, but she had me weeping with laughter. If she's in your party, it's almost worth summoning Korgan just to listen in on this one.) And, of course, if she's romancing you, Aerie's romance continues to its ludicrously unrealistic but nonetheless cute happy ending. All in all, she's not the most interesting Throne of Bhaal character unless you're dating her (and her romance is the least interesting of the three women's anyway), but she does have a moderate amount to say and she's a very solid party member, so if you've spent enough time nursing her up to a high level, you're probably not going to want to leave her behind now.

Unbelievably, Nalia has actually gotten even more annoying in this game. Without losing her condescending attitude of self-indulgent noblesse oblige, she has somehow gotten completely full of herself about what a wonderful archmage she is, and she won't shut up about it. Fair enough that she's overcompensating for her failure to help her father, as Mazzy points out, but it's still annoying as hell. At least they got rid of that obnoxious line "How are we helping the less fortunate trudging around in HERE?" There are a few odd implications during the game that Nalia is lusting after power and may become a lich or something, but it was apparently abandoned, as her "where are they now" wrap-up was just more self-indulgent treacle about what a great archmage she is and how wonderful she is for helping people. Blarg. Aside from snotty conversations with Aerie, Valygar, and particularly you (who she's suddenly decided is a danger to the world--thanks for the party loyalty, kid), Nalia is curiously devoid of comment in this game--she doesn't even complain like the other good characters if you start down evil paths. Either this was a gross oversight on the writers' part or the Nalia-becoming-evil plot was deleted at the last minute; either way, she is left as one of the less interesting Throne of Bhaal companions because of it. Like Cernd, there is little to recommend bringing Nalia through ToB with you unless you're already extremely attached to her--Imoen is a more competent thief and has much more interesting character interactions to contribute, and for all her posturing, Nalia still isn't as good a mage as the equally pretentious but much funnier Edwin.

Anomen is a frustrating compatriot, not just because he is annoying (though he is) but because the game designers really did a half-assed job on his character development. After going through a complicated plot in which Anomen reveals the reasons for his bad attitude, acknowledges that he's gone about some things in very much the wrong way, and has significant changes of heart, demeanor, and even alignment, his character action comments remain the same. Mercifully, in Throne of Bhaal the lines about honor and the Order have at least been replaced if Anomen failed his test (in SoA he would continue stupidly repeating them!), but if he passed it, despite the much-improved attitude he takes in his dialogues, he will still have the same irritating phrases every time you click on him that he did when you first met him--and his final "where are they now" wrap-up is identical whether he is chaotic neutral, lawful neutral, or lawful good. This makes it very difficult to believe the otherwise well-done character development arc that was set up for him. Anomen continues to be one of the most talkative NPCs available, though, interacting frequently with you, your other party members, and map characters, and though his romance isn't as well-thought-out as the ones for male characters, it's the only one available for women, and it does have a reasonable conclusion (going a little differently depending on whether Anomen passed his knighthood or not). If you can put up with his voice, he's a potent warrior, good cleric (especially if he passed his test), and an interesting NPC to have along.

Viconia is a really interesting character, an exiled drow with culture shock. I liked her in BGI and was glad to see her again (she was also the only holdover character whose portrait actually looked better in this sequel--not a difficult feat, if you remember how poorly drawn she was last time). The fights Viconia could cause in the party are in the past now, so you no longer need to worry about Viconia goading Aerie and Valygar or Keldorn launching a racist sneak attack. Her comments during the game are few and not very interesting... unless you're having a romance with her, that is, and since she's got the sultriest lines and is also the only woman in the game who doesn't wear her hair in lots of natty rubber-banded pigtails, this has a certain appeal to it. Viconia's romance truncated very abruptly in SoA, as if the game designers just didn't get it finished by press time, but in ToB they finish it, and it is extremely rewarding, one of the best story arcs in the game if you take SoA and ToB together. Viconia is also the best cleric in the game, although she's increasingly weak as a fighter the more the games progress. Viconia has extremely entertaining exchanges with Cernd and Jan in Throne of Bhaal. Her "where are they now" wrap-up is particularly poignant, especially if you are romancing her.

Valygar has a strong personality but it's not one that translates as well across the computer divide as some of the others. He has a difficult backstory and an old bitterness vying with a desire to do the right thing. I found him interesting but very underdrawn. If he had half as much attention to his character as Anomen does he would have been the best NPC in the game. Unfortunately the game developers seem to have abandoned several plots involving him: one with a mercenary ex-girlfriend, one about him trying to maintain celibacy so as to end his family curse (there are aborted pieces of this scattered around the maps of SoA, including one conversation with a courtesan that actually results in his attacking Viconia when she mocks his manhood), and, most frustratingly of all, a romance plot (I found dialogue where Valygar told Mazzy his heart belonged to the PC, and sound clips of Valygar saying "whatever you think is best, my love" or something like that). What a shame... I would have liked to have seen all three of these. Valygar is the one character I came out of this game most wanting to know more about. Even without these story arcs, the ranger is a worthwhile companion; he has interesting conversations with many of the other characters, has the least annoying voice set of any of the NPCs, and is an excellent fighter. His subplot about being Mazzy's squire continues in Throne of Bhaal, though I found this subplot much too irritating to keep those two in the party together any longer. (Valygar was higher-level than Mazzy was, and it really ticked me off for the usually well-mannered halfling to suddenly announce she'd decided he'd make a good servant and keep going "Shine my shoes, boy" to him all the time.) If you're more able to put up with this than I, you will be rewarded by Valygar making the most insightful comment about Mazzy in the game, and the two of them having an interesting conversation about it. Valygar also has one of the more touching "where are they now" wrap-ups at the end of the game, probably because he had the most unresolved stuff floating around that it was rewarding to see concluded.

Haerdalis is an interesting character and a unique party member. He's a jack of all trades but master of none, which some people find versatile and other people find useless and annoying. This situation is greatly magnified in Throne of Bhaal, where Haerdalis acquires some powerful new abilities but finds himself increasingly outclassed by the tougher opponents in a straight-up fight. HD is a good fighter, but has about as many hitpoints as Aerie. He's a good archer, but switching him back and forth between missile weapons and his dual swords is a pain in the ass. He's competent as a spellcaster, but will never get the higher-level spells. He will get an extremely powerful new bard song at higher levels, but will not be able to take any other actions while he's playing it. He will get the high-level thief abilities--including Use Any Item!--but cannot backstab nor disarm traps and locks. It is sometimes hard to figure out what his combat round would best be spent doing. If you're willing to take the time to figure out how best to use his smorgasbord of talents, he is one of the most formidable NPCs available. If you prefer charging into things, he's going to be a real liability for you. His simultaneously grim and jaunty worship of entropy is a lot of fun, and I'm fond of his action comments. On the other hand, he doesn't have very many interactions anymore (his relationships with Aerie and Yoshimo are things of the past, and the few dialogues he has with other party members are filler more than real insight). Either you'll love him or you'll hate him. Personally, I think he's definitely worth a try, especially if you're playing the game for a second time.

Edwin is a repeat character from BGI, the rude, haughty, and evil mage on the bridge who wanted to kill Dynaheir. Frankly I'd killed him in BGI, and I wasn't expecting much from him this time, but he won me over in SoA with his hilariously sarcastic commentary and the cool comeuppance he got in his "Edwina" plot. Unfortunately now that that plot is over, Edwin's character interactions in Throne of Bhaal aren't nearly as interesting or funny (except for his "where are they now" wrap-up at the game's conclusion, which made me laugh out loud). There were a few cryptic comments in SoA between Edwin and Aerie, hinting that Aerie "knew" something about him, but to the best of my knowledge this is never returned to in ToB, unfortunately. Edwin himself is a real munchkin. He has special abilities to which no player character has access: two extra spells every level, in addition to the extra spells he gets by being a specialist mage in the one field where he loses the fewest spells, and an 18 intelligence. Unsurprisingly, this makes him the best mage available. It also makes him annoying to those of us who feel that there should be some semblance of an equal playing field, and that we ought to be able to build a PC who has the same abilities as any given NPC. Perhaps the game designers were trying to compensate for the fact that Edwin doesn't have the thief levels that Imoen does (giving her extra abilities and more weapon proficiencies without damaging her spellcasting), but I still feel it was going overboard. By the highest levels this free superpower of his is less important, but at early levels it's both very useful and rather unbalancing.

Korgan's main character trait is insulting and mocking all the other party members. Though this could be entertaining in SoA, it tended to lead to problems: Aerie would quit the party due to his constant harassment, if you recall, and if you made the mistake of insulting Korgan back he would attack you and you'd have to kill him. Well, all of that's in the past in Throne of Bhaal. Korgan won't fight with any of the NPCs anymore, including you. Unfortunately, he also won't give you any of the dialogues from SoA anymore, so this is actually *not* a good time to add him to the party, as he'll sort of start in the middle of a lot of relationships that are more interesting if you've had a chance to see them all the way through (the ones with you and with Mazzy in particular, also to some extent with Aerie). The interesting friendship Korgan developed with Mazzy in SoA seems to have devolved in ToB, unfortunately--Mazzy was the only way to evoke any three-dimensionality from the bristly dwarf, who opened up to her, told her his life story, and actually promised to try to behave himself better for her sake, between raunchy passes. In Throne of Bhaal there are only raunchy passes, and Mazzy's attitude towards Korgan has hardened into insults only. A shame. Other than that, Korgan has a few good dialogues up his sleeve (funny ones with Imoen and, if you're female, you, and one with Aerie that had me dissolved in tears of laughter), but very little to say about the quest or the people you meet on it. He's very switchable for the more relevant fighter Sarevok.

Mazzy is a classy halfling knight with a British accent who must be incredibly bitter over the ugly orange dreadlocks and ridiculous action sprite she's been saddled with. She has one of the most pleasant voice sets in the game. Though she has little to say about the quest or the map characters in Throne of Bhaal, she does have a number of conversations with the other NPCs, including continuing her snotty attitude towards Valygar. (I guess every paladin needs a fatal flaw in their heroic mantle. Keldorn's is Viconia bringing out the racist in him; Mazzy's is Valygar, and her bizarre decree that he should do menial labor for her because she is a knight and it is an honor to be chosen as the servant of a knight.) If Aerie is in your party, she and Mazzy will have a silly conversation about AD&D's third edition (no kidding). The interesting friendship she developed with Korgan in SoA seems to have devolved in ToB, unfortunately--Mazzy was the only way to evoke any three-dimensionality from the bristly dwarf, who opened up to her, told her his life story, and actually promised to try to behave himself better for her sake, between raunchy passes. In Throne of Bhaal there are only raunchy passes, and Mazzy's attitude towards Korgan has hardened into insults only. A shame. Anyway, Mazzy is a good fighter, although she is excessively specialized in the bow which will not fit everyone's playing style.

Cernd is a decent, determined, pleasant enough guy without too much to say beyond the occasional comment on the greatness of nature. Too bad he doesn't have a more outgoing personality; he's by far the most attractive male NPC. The game designers, however, continue to hate him, making almost all the other characters insult him and handing him a bitter, nasty "where are they now" wrap-up to go with all the abuse his former friends had to heap on him in SoA for divorcing his wife. (Somebody in Bioware, it seems, was still stinging a bit over their own divorce.) Like Nalia, there is very little to recommend bringing Cernd through Throne of Bhaal with you; he has very little to say, other NPCs' interactions with him tend to be annoying, and you'll only be rewarded with an unpleasant ending to his story at the end. Cernd's special power of turning into a werewolf also becomes weaker as the monsters get tougher, and the bonuses his extra levels give him over the much more fearsome multi-classed Jaheira are very slight indeed. Plus he should really be home with his baby.

Keldorn is an older paladin who emanates a sort of weary dignity. The biggest downside to him is that he's a racist, and will sometimes try to kill Viconia in SoA. By ToB, though, he seems to have mastered his urges to righteous homicide, or at least decided that Viconia might be worth giving a chance after all. You will have no further problems out of those two. On the other hand, you won't get much else out of Keldorn, either (except for the ability to wield Carsomyr, which, actually, any thief or bard could also do, and with much better dexterity too). His most interesting interactions were with Anomen and Valygar during their plots in SoA, and those are over now. He'll still have a few fatherly conversations with other party members (and one truly funny one with Imoen), but nothing that really sheds any light on anyone's character. Plus, like Cernd, he has children he should really be at home with, and he will say so if you try to leave him in Hell. Better to leave Keldorn behind, in my opinion, but he'll certainly hold up his end if you do bring him with.

Jan is an extremely long-winded gnomish inventor with absolutely nothing of any importance to say and an avid desire to say it. 95% of his conversations will be long, boring stories about turnips. I am not kidding. Despite this oppressively boring personality, Jan can be fun to have around, as he has invented all sorts of funky-looking gadgets for himself which you can't get any other way than by having him with you. He's also the only active thief available as an NPC. He's a very weak character, though, with unimpressive stats, mediocre spellcasting, and hand-to-hand skills too poor for backstabbing. Haerdalis and Imoen, as a pair, are much stronger than Jan and anyone (Imoen can handle locks and traps in addition to her major talents, HD picks pockets well and can get the high-level thief skills, and he's almost as good at magery as Jan but infinitely better at fighting). If you find Jan funny, it won't hurt you to have him along, but if he grates on your nerves even a little, lose him or leave him in Hell, because it's only going to get worse. Jan's "where are they now" wrap-up at the end of the game is particularly painful, turning the previously innocuous gnome into a rather unpleasantly domineering gangster for no apparent reason other than that one of the writers thought it might be funny. (Click here if you want more details).

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