NEVERWINTER NIGHTS 2 Character Development FAQ

                  by CondorMan (email: FrGrnDrgns@aol.com)

                           Version 0.70 (01/02/07)


Copyright 2007 by Jorge Sierra, all rights reserved.


This FAQ is for the PC game Neverwinter Nights 2.  It is intended to provide
some *general* ideas on how characters of various abilities (races, classes,
etc. can be developed, and what their potential is.  It is based largely on my
observations and reflections of the 3.5 Edition Dungeons & Dragons rules from
the Dungeons & Dragons Player's Handbook: Core Rulebook I, v. 3.5 and other
D&D rulebooks, and is intended primarily for players who may be familiar with
RPGs but not necessarily 3rd Edition D&D.

In 3rd Edition D&D in general, it's up to you to decide how to develop your
character.  This game gives you many races, classes, and prestige classes,
skills and feats.  Even your most basic warrior or magician class gives you
many choices and may swamp you with options, or you may not know how to make
the most of them.  I will assume you know the basic rules and abilities,
although I'll cover some statistics to make sure we're on the same page.  In
this FAQ I will try to talk more about what choices you can make than about
how things work.  The ideas described are intended to get you thinking, not to
convey all the possible answers.  They are based partly on experience, but
with so many possibilities, they are based more on my own reading and
reflection.

Please read Contact Info. at the end of this FAQ if you wish to email me about
this FAQ or this game.  At this time I can answer more questions about D&D
than I can about the game, and I am only willing to answer questions about
mechanics.


This FAQ is dedicated to the late Gerald R. Ford, our 38th President and a
good and ethical man who lived an honorable life.


Version History

01/02/06: Version 0.70.  Five out of six intended sections complete.


Future Updates

I intend to complete a section discussing each Feat of the game in turn, as
well as touch up and go into more detail in some sections, especially in the
Prestige Class section.

This is a FAQ under development, and at this time reflects more of the D&D
rules than what actually happens in the game--the two are a little different.
It is possible that I may make this FAQ more general or more specific in the
future.


Table of Contents

0.   [Introduction, Dedication, Version History, Table of Contents]

I.   STATS! STATS! STATS!
     A. The Six Ability Scores (Str/Dex/Con/Int/Wis/Cha)
     B. Derived and Additional Statistics (Base Attack Bonus, Saves, etc.)

II.  RUMINATIONS ON RACES

     A. Humans
     B. Planetouched (Aasimar and Tieflings)
     C. Elves (Moon, Sun, Drow, and Wood)
     D. Dwarves (Shield, Gold, and Duergar)
     E. Gnomes (Rock and Svirfneblin
     F. Halflings (Lightfoot and Strongheart)
     G. Half-Elves
     H. Half-Orcs

III. DISCOURSES ON CLASSES

     A. Warriors (Fighter, Barbarian, Paladin, Ranger)
     B. Healers (Cleric, Druid)
     C. Scoundrels (Rogue, Bard)
     D. Wizards (Wizard, Sorcerer)
     E. Warlocks

IV.  PRESENTATION ON PRESTIGE CLASSES

     A. Prestige Class Miss-Outs
     B. Arcane Archer
     C. Arcane Trickster
     D. Assassin
     E. Blackguard
     F. Divine Champion
     G. Duelist
     H. Dwarven Defender
     I. Eldritch Knight
     J. Frenzied Berserker
     K. Harper Agent
     L. Pale Master
     M. Red Dragon Disciple
     N. Shadow Thief of Amn
     O. Shadowdancer
     P. Warpriest
     Q. Weapon Master

V.   SKILL SUBSTITUTIONS
     A. General Ideas
     B. Skill Substitutions

VI.  ON FEATS (Coming Soon!)

     CONTACT INFO

     COPYRIGHT NOTICE

     ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS/THANKS



I.   STATS! STATS! STATS!

A. Ability Scores (Str/Dex/Con/Int/Wiz/Cha)

Six Ability Scores that are innate to your character and affect many actions,
skills and resiliances.  They're mostly static and are not the stats that
improve dramatically at level-up, so character creation is important.

Strength = muscle power, Dexterity = quickness and precision, Constitution =
physical health and endurance, Intelligence = brain smarts, Wisdom = insight
and common sense, Charisma = personality and charm.

With 10 as an average or ordinary score, every two points above 10 in an
Ability Score gives a +1 bonus to certain abilities, "rolls", and effects.
Every two points below 10 makes you incur a -1 penalty for these things.

Now I'll tell you *what* these Ability Scores (usually) affect.

STRENGTH (Str): Bonuses to: hit and damage in melee (close-range) combat; hit
and damage for most thrown weapons.  In addition, Strength determines how many
pounds you can carry without becoming Encumbered.

DEXTERITY (Dex): Bonuses to: hit (not damage) with missile attacks (like
bows); Armor Class for avoiding attacks; Reflex Saving Throws to withstand
certain spells and attacks; the use of certain Skills like Tumble.
(Characters in strong armor can't take advantage of very high Dex Armor Class
bonuses, but you really don't want a Dexterity penalty!)

CONSTITUTION (Con): Bonuses to HP for every character level you have (it adds
up!); Fortitude Saving Throws to withstand certain spells and attacks; the use
of the Concentration Skill.  (Classes with low HP and combative classes with
poor armor can really use a high Constitution, and it's good for every class.)

INTELLIGENCE: Bonuses to: the number of Skill Points you gain at each
character level; the use of certain Skills like Disable Device; how difficult*
your spells are to withstand through Fortitude, Reflex, or Will Saving Throws
if you are a Wizard.  Intelligence determines the highest level of Wizard
spells you can learn, as well as how many bonus spells per day you receive if
you are a Wizard.

*: This is called Difficulty Class, or DC.

(Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma are all "magic"-type stats for different
classes, and function the same way for specific spellcasting classes.)

WISDOM: Governs Cleric, Druid, Ranger and Paladin spells in all the neat ways
described above in Intelligence.  Bonuses to: your Will Saving Throws to
withstand certain spells and attacks; the use of certain Skills like Listen;
The Wisdom bonus famously provides certain benefits to Monks.

CHARISMA: Governs Sorcerer and Bard spells, and Warlock invocations, in all
the neat ways described above in Intelligence.  Bonuses to: Turn Undead
checks (Clerics and Paladins) to determine which and how many undead monsters
can be rebuked; the use of certain Skills like Diplomacy.  The Charisma bonus
famously provides certain benefits to Paladins.

You can only improve one ability score by one point every four level-ups.
Other level-up gains offset some weaknesses more than others.  Beware of
poison and other attacks that temporarily decrease your ability scores, and
swoon over ability score enhancements.

Question: Should you spend extra points to bring some stats above 14?

Well, character Creation gives you enough ability score points (six times 8 +
32 bonus points = 80) to create a character with an average of 13-1/3 points
in every stat.  If you were following the rules we use in the D&D Player's
Handbook, you'd probably get scores totaling about 75.

So there is little reason to fear spending a few extra points.  Most classes
benefit from having one or two stats at 16, and the strongest spellcasters
need it.  But 14 is also a good score especially for secondary ability scores.
Most classes also have at least one stat that they really don't need, and
which can be held at 10 or even 8.

It is pretty unusual to roll base scores of 17 or 18 in paper and pencil D&D.
For that you can always select a raise that gives an ability score bonus.


B. Derived and Additional Statistics (Base Attack Bonus, Saves, etc.)

1. Level: You got several kinds of "Level", it seems.  Holy moley!  There's
Character Level, which is determined by how many Experience Points you have.
And there's Class Level, which is determined by how many times you've leveled
up in that class.  For single-class characters like your Level 3 Warrior, the
two are the same, but multi-classed characters are different.  A Level 3/3
Warrior/Wizard is a Level 6 Character with 15000+ experience points, not a
level 3 Character with 6000+ experience points (3000 + 3000).

Character Level and Class Level are each important stats in themselves.
Character Level can affect whether you are affected by certain spells that
wallop weak targets.  Monsters have a stat like this; it's called Hit Dice
(after how many d4, d8, etc. you roll to determine their Hit Points).  Class
Level can determine which feats you can learn.  Caster Level also comes into
play fairly often.  If you're a spellcaster, your Caster Level is usually
equal to your Class Level... but sometimes special rules apply.  For example,
prestige classes with the Spellcasting ability also improve your Caster Level
as you level up, and Paladins and Rangers have lower Caster Levels since they
learn spells later.

Gain lots of experience points to stand up tall and proud, and recognize which
enemies are standing tall against you, and you will not find "Level" too
dismaying.

2. Attack Bonus and Armor Class: "I've seen high-level Fighters swat sprites
out of the skies and pierce walls of plate armor with ease!  Clerics can maybe
bring down a bird or smash through chain armor.  Wizards?  They can stab a
Goblin in the belly, if they're lucky."

2a. BASE ATTACK BONUS (BAB) is essentially your hit rate, and ranges (in this
game) somewhat between +0 and +20.  That's how good you are at combat.  BAB
depends on your class and level, so you can make class and level comparisons
easily.  When magic and other weird stuff happens, we say they change your
(current) Attack Bonus, providing bonuses and penalties to hit.  As you know,
having a high or low Strength (Dexterity in ranged combat), or being really
big or really small, also provides basically constant bonuses and penalties to
hit in melee combat.  Technically we add that in to our (current) Attack
Bonus.  But as a constant, some games add it in to BAB instead to make things
easy to understand.

Combat has an element of randomness to it.  As a Level 1 Wizard, you have a
Base Attack Bonus of +0, because you know next to nothing about combat.  This
number (Zero) is added to (1)d20, one "roll" that generates a random number
between 1 and 20 every time you swing that useless little dagger of yours.
If that number exceeds the enemy's Armor Class (see below), you've struck home
and delivered DAMAGE!  Sometimes you'll get lucky... and sometimes you're even
more embarrassingly inept than usual.

As characters attain higher Base Attack Bonuses, they gain extra attacks,
albeit at progressively lower hit rates.  Level 20 Fighters get an astounding
+20/+15/+10/+5 BAB.  Fighters are very good at combat and improve their BAB
rapidly.  Clerics are average and Wizards are poor, but they improve, too.

2b. ARMOR CLASS (AC) is essentially your evasion.  Either strong armor or
great speed can improve your Armor Class and make you more difficult to hit
(quite helpful when you're surrounded by Orcs).  The most common AC bonuses
come from your Dexterity stat and whatever armor you are wearing.  Many other
bonuses (e.g., from small size or from magical items) may come into play, some
fleeting, others more constant, but those are the big ones.  Your Attack Bonus
is effective against all.

As an ordinary civilian of average Dexterity and wearing no armor, you have an
Armor Class of 10, meaning even that pitifully inept Wizard is going to hurt
you with about half of his slices--and that's if you're paying attention.

(Base) Attack Bonus and Armor Class affect how often you'll hit but do not
affect damage.  You'll either hit your enemies a lot of times and send them
crying back to their makers, or you won't.

3. HIT POINTS: When spells and attacks hit you, you take damage and your Hit
Points decrease.  When your Hit Points reach 0, you become unconscious and are
out of commission for the rest of the battle.  Heal yourself with spells and
rest before that happens.  Unconscious characters can be recovered with
revival magic during combat.  After combat, they'll recover with 1 HP.

4a. DAMAGE (Weapons): When your Attack Roll exceeds the enemy's AC, you
inflict DAMAGE.  How much?  Well it's random but it depends on what weapon
you're using.  Long Swords inflict 1d8 damage, so "roll" (1)d8 once for 1 to 8
damage.  Greatswords inflict 2d6 damage, so "roll" d6 twice for (1-6) + (1-6)
[or 2 to 12 damage].  Your bare hands inflict pitiful damage unless you're a
Monk.

Add bonuses (or penalties) from Strength and other weird stuff to get your
final damage score or range.  That's why you'll see figures like 1d6+2.  Roll
d6 once for 1 to 6 damage and add 2.  That's 3 to 8 damage.  Weapon and
Strength are the major constant contributors to damage, so that's what we'll
write down as your damage.

As a Level 1 Rogue, you'll often land Sneak Attacks that deliver an extra 1d6
damage.  But we can always add in special stuff like that later.

4b. DAMAGE (Magic, etc.): What does it mean when they say Fireball deals 1d6
damage per level?  Why, it's like saying 1-6 damage per level.  As a Level 5
Wizard, your 5d6 Fireball deals (1-6) + (1-6) + (1-6) + (1-6) + (1-6) damage,
or 5 to 30.  Spell damage often involves lots of these random rolls at once,
so there is a fair tendency to inflict the average amount of damage.  Many
spells have a maximum damage range.  Fireball's damage cap is 10d6 (10-60).

If we had a spell that deals 2d6 damage per level, that would be like
(1-6) + (1-6) per level.  Don't be confused.

Of course, a defender can often halve magic damage with a successful Saving
Throw, and some have Damage Reduction or other defenses.

5. SAVING THROWS (Saves): Enchantments, poison, paralysis, and other nasty
stuff does not always work.  Even attack magic damage can often be halved.
For most of these, defenders get a chance to roll a Saving Throw with a d20 to
halve the damage or resist the effect.  As with Base Attack Bonus, you get
Base Saves that depend on class and level, and make a d20 roll onto which you
get all kinds of bonuses and penalties.  You need to roll at or better than
the nasty effect's Difficulty Class (DC) to succeed.

There are three types of Saving Throws (and associated Base Saves): Fortitude,
Reflex, and Will, that come into play as you are beset in different ways.
Fighters have good Fortitude Saves but poor Reflex and Will Saves.  Rogues
have good Reflex Saves but poor Fortitude and Will Saves.  Wizards have good
Will Saves but poor Fortitude and Reflex Saves.  Each Save is improved by a
a different stat's bonuses (Dex for Reflex, Con for Fortitude, Wis for Will).

Even though Base Saves appear to improve more slowly than Base Attack Bonuses,
in practice a character's strong Save will usually keep up with more powerful
attacks, while weak Saves will fall behind and leave characters vulnerable.

6. SKILL RANKS: So you've learned a skill like Craft Armor or Open Locks and
are trying to use it?  The game rolls d20 and adds the Ranks you've purchased
in your skill.  (Each of your skills will have its own Rank.)  If it exceeds
the Difficulty Class of the task you're trying to perform, you've succeeded.
Like Attack Bonus and Saving Throws, each skill is modified by one of your six
ability scores, so Open Locks receives a bonus or penalty from your high or
low Dexterity score.  In some non-critical situations, you automatically
receive a 20 roll to your attempt, and certain Bard abilities require a
specific rank in the Perform skill to use.

Some Skills like Listen can be attempted even though your Rank is 0.  Others
like Spellcraft can only be used if your Rank is 1 or greater.

So if one of your stats is high, consider learning appropriate skills.  Many
races also receive bonuses to certain skills.  Good training to a high rank
will make you succeed more often than not even in challenging tasks.

7a. DIFFICULTY CLASS (Magic): When YOU cast a spell, it may have a Difficulty
Class (DC) that a defender's Saving Throw roll has to meet to succeed.  As
a Level 1 Wizard, your Charm Person spell will retain the same DC as you level
up even as successful charms last longer.  Raising your Intelligence will
help, and higher level spells like Charm Monster will have higher DCs.

7b. DIFFICULTY CLASS (Skills): This one can be a bit slippery.  Some Skill DCs
are constant, such as for crafting a specific weapon or armor.  Others depend
heavily on how well an opponent uses one of his own skills.  For example, if
you're using Hide, your opponent's opposed Spot check becomes the DC.  If
you're using Spot, your opponent's opposed Hide check becomes the DC.  I'm
sure you'll train your skills to high ranks and succeed against your crafty
foes without too much trouble.

8a. SPELLS PER DAY: If you've ever played the original Final Fantasy, you will
have seen "magic" meters like this: 7/5/4/3/1/0/0/0.  Spells were divided into
spell levels, and each number indicated the number of times you could cast a
level 1 (7 times), level 2 (5 times), level 3 (4 times), etc. spell.  In D&D,
your maximum spells per day can be described somewhat like that.  Indeed,
Sorcerers and Bards work very similarly.  Spells per day indicates how many
times they can cast spells before they need to rest again.  During combat (or
whenever), they can select any spell they know and decide which one to cast,
as long as they have remaining spells per day for the appropriate spell level.

Wizards and every other class that uses magic has to pour over all the spells
they know *before* they rest, deciding which spells they want to cast well
before they actually enter combat, etc.  You might say they have to "equip"
their spells as they rest, and cannot exchange them in the middle of combat.
In this case, spells per day indicates how many spells they can memorize at
this time.  More spells per day means they can memorize or "equip" a long list
of spells at once, each of which they can cast only once--that's why they
memorize some spells twice.  When they run out, it's time to rest again.


9. For the Extraordinary!

9a. Damage Reduction (or is it Damage Resistance)

Some enemies have the ability to ignore or reduce damage from most physical
attacks even though you hit them.  This frightening ability usually requires
you to find the right kind of weapon (magical? Adamantine?) to fight them
fairly.  A few exotic classes gain this ability, or you can cast it on
yourself.

There is also Damage Reduction for energy attacks such as fire.  It's usually
a protection that ignores or reduces damage from a specific type of energy or
attack.  Attack the enemy with something else or throw a really strong attack.

9b. Spell Resistance

Some enemies have the ability to resist or block any magical attack.  They
fizzle out, no Saving Throw required.  Spell Resistance is like Armor Class
for spells and requires you, the spellcaster, to roll d20 plus your Caster
Level in a manner similar to an attack roll to overcome it.  Some creatures
have it naturally, while Monks earn it.  Higher level characters and enemies
have stronger spell resistance.


RUMINATIONS ON RACES

A. Humans

HUMANS are well-rounded characters who gain a bonus feat and bonus skill
points.  These features are great for covering class and character weaknesses.
With a Favored Class of "Any", Humans can easily multi-class as oddball
classes such as Paladin and Sorcerer which few races excel in.

As you know, most non-human races receive "Skill Affinities", a flat bonus to
specific Skills such as Listen and Hide.  This adds color to the races, but in
all cases the Human's extra Skill Point per level adds up to more total Skill
Points eventually.  Only among characters who maximize their Ranks in their
Listen and Hide skills, for example, will you see some non-Human races edge
out Humans in any way.  In some cases the bonuses are quite significant,
more so if they're in a character's non-class skills, but it's usually best
to look at the races' other qualities first, and consider Skill bonuses a gift
that *other* non-humans do not have.


B. Planetouched (Aasimar and Tiefling)

AASIMAR have bonuses to two enemy detection Skills.  That's four less Skill
Points you'll have to spend on them.  This is decent because their best
classes don't get many skill points, but these are good skills to have a token
rank in.  Colorful abilities of questionable utility round out their innate
abilities (although they appear to have elemental resistance).

More significant are their ability score bonuses to Wisdom and Charisma.
Those are two powerful Cleric and Paladin stats that will continue to give
great returns despite their level penalty.  Classes that rely on only one of
these stats don't gain as much, but perhaps some multi-classes are optimal.


TIEFLINGS have bonuses to two skills best used by Rogues, who get a lot of
skill points anyway.  Darkness plus Darkvision makes for an interesting
combination (although in D&D Darkvision doesn't work in magical darkness) and
may complement a Rogue's reliance on stealth.

Their ability score bonuses to Dexterity and Intelligence are among the
Rogue's best stats to have, eventually gaining them more skill points than a
higher-leveled character (Humans win out, though), and an equivalent aptitude
in Dex and Int-based skills.  Other classes that rely on these stats will
usually lose out on more abilities than Rogues do for being low-level.


C. Elves (Moon, Sun, Drow, and Wood)

ELVES know how to use swords and bows no matter what their class, making their
arcane and divine spellcasting classes a lot less useless when they're not
using spells, and allowing Elves slightly better prestige-class options.  High
Dex benefits the right kind of Fighter and Ranger.  I don't like having low
Con for Wizards, but they're one of the few classes that play cautiously
anyway.  Their specific magical resiliances round out their exotic nature.
Say hello to our basic MOON and SUN ELVES.

DROW (DARK ELVES) have Darkness plus Darkvision, which let them fight dirty in
many types of combat, especially if they learn the Blind-Fight Feat, while See
Invisibility thwarts some dirty tricks against them.  Their most telling
characteristic is Spell Resistance, however.  Drow villains are frustrating
opponents for mid-level heroes.

Like Tieflings, Drow ability score bonuses lend themselves well to Rogues.
As any class, they'll gain more skill points than most other races after a
while (Humans are far better), and the Wizard's or Sorcerer's 1-level lower
level spells will be as difficult to resist as other magicians' due to the
Intelligence or Charisma bonus.

WOOD ELVES may wish to avoid the Fighter, Paladin, and Cleric class, as their
Skill Points will be very low.  Rangers, Barbarians, and Druids give enough
skill points to offset the Intelligence penalty if you chose them over the
former three.  Dexterity is helpful for all three classes (although Druids
don't use Strength as much).


D. Dwarves (Shield, Gold, and Duergar)

DWARVES have good abilities vs. Orcs, Goblinoids, and Giants.  Dwarven Rangers
with some of these as favored enemies would be devastating.  Their
Constitution bonus and further bonuses vs. poison and magic help for all
classes, although for some non-combat classes Gnomes are better.  Their bonus
skill affinities are of questionable utility, but they're there.  SHIELD
DWARVES are perhaps better meat grinders with GOLD DWARVES perhaps better in
supportive divine classes.

DUERGAR (GREY DWARVES) also fight dirty with Invisibility--and hit hard with
Enlarge.  Several bonus affinities give them relevant extra skill points that
further recommend Fighter/Rogue class setups.  High Constitution and Enlarge
eliminate much of the disadvantage from the level penalty, at least in combat.


E. Gnomes (Rock and Svirfneblin)

ROCK GNOMES can be fun support characters and magicians and are a capable, if
specialized race.  Rock Gnomes have good Con and benefit (like all Gnomes)
from a bonus to landing and avoiding attacks, making them interesting Wizards
and Rogues.  Gnomes' proficiency with and resistance to Illusion magic is
equivalent to two free feats.  High-level sneak attack (Rogues) or favored
enemy (Rangers) damage suffers very little from their small size, and Gnomes
are already strong against specific enemies.  Their skill bonuses are perhaps
slightly less useful than other racial bonuses.  Alas, their favored class
(Bard) gives Gnomes few "classic" multi-class options.

SVIRFNEBLIN (DEEP GNOMES) have such a heavy level penalty they may not be
worth taking, and their poor Charisma qualifies them out of their favored
class.  Their abilities grant a potent defensive combination, and Blindness
and Invisibility let them land sneak attacks more easily, but most of their
class-related offensive abilities will be weak.  The Wisdom bonus impacts some
Monk, Cleric, and Druid offenses, and Svirfneblins' defensive skills fit these
classes' defensive properties and shortcomings very well, the Monk most of
all.  These may be the least painful options, but their offense will still
suffer.


F. Halflings (Lightfoot and Strongheart)

HALFLINGS of both types are good at being Rogues, and perhaps Rangers as well.
They have bonuses to hit when using slings and thrown weapons.  Be sure to max
out the skills they do best at if you pursue those classes.  The bonus against
Fear is nice to have but probably most appropriate to warrior classes.
LIGHTFOOT HALFLINGS gain a slight Saving Throw bonus (good for Rogues who
don't really do much), while STRONGHEART HALFLINGS' bonus feat gives a little
extra oomph that makes them decent spellcasting classes, many of which could
use an extra feat.  I'm not sure Halflings are that exciting, but they make
great mascots.


G. Half-Elves

HALF-ELVES are average characters with the helpful Favored Class of "Any" and
with the same magical resiliances as Elves.  Bonuses to detection and
Charisma-based skills save you seven Skill points.  That's it.  That's it???
Half-Elves were beefed up a bit in the 3.5 D&D version and the charisma-based
skill bonuses are worth glancing at, but they still pale in comparison to
Humans and Elves, excelling in very few ways.


H. Half-Orcs

HALF-ORCS are strong, and that's really all they are.  At least that's
something few other races can match, and their lack of an annoying
Constitution penalty gives Wood Elves some competition.  Like Wood Elves,
Half-Orcs can choose the Ranger, Barbarian, and Druid classes over Paladin,
Fighter, and Cleric to make up for the Int-related hit they take in skill
points.  With a net penalty to their ability scores, Half-Orcs aren't good
all-around characters, but maybe you could use a meat cleaver mascot.



III. DISCOURSES ON CLASSES

This section will mostly give advisories when developing your characters.
In D&D, classes aren't just predestined heroes on whom the game selects new
abilities and spells for you.  You've already assigned your character specific
Ability Scores.  You will also decide which Skills and Feats to learn, spells
to learn and memorize, and in many cases which special features to gain.  You
have a lot of say in just how your character will level up and develop.  This
section will hopefully help get you in the right mindset to think about
developing your own character's talents.

A. Warriors (Fighter, Barbarian, Paladin, Ranger, and Monk)

These are the classes with the highest Base Attack Bonus, the best and most
attacks, and generally the most Hit Points.  Their job is to bring down the
enemy.  Rangers and Monks fight with a little more guile and specialization,
but even the most generic warriors are more than just boring strong sluggers.

(Monks are really in a class of their own and don't share many of these
characteristics, but I've tried to make this section relevant for them.)

1. In D&D, it's helpful for most warrior classes to learn a few good combative
Feats to make them really good at something.  You can learn how to fight with
two weapons, disarm, or Power Attack to gain an edge in combat.  Think up a
good combination of Feats to learn as your warrior levels up. Perhaps you'll
learn the Whirlwind Attack series or the Power Attack series.  Maybe grabbing
the Knockdown and Improved Critical Feats is how you'll train.  Wise choices
will round out your profile as an expert warrior by about Level 15 or so and
give you a few unique and effective tricks well before then.

2. Fighters can have all that done in less than half the time, moving on to
get even more feats.  They have a fast-track path to prerequisite-heavy feats
and become truly fearsome and versatile in combat.  They are also the only
class that can learn all the weapon specialization feats, gaining bonuses to
hit and damage that rival the special boosts other warrior classes only
sometimes benefit from.  The disadvantage is that they have the weakest
defenses against magic.

3. Rangers and Monks earn specific Feats for free (Rangers can choose whether
to learn two-weapon fighting or archery-related Feats).  Since these classes
have lower Hit Points and are restricted from using their class abilities when
wearing inappropriate armor, they may feel more comfortable with other classes
way up front, surrounded by enemies.  They should take an active role in
damaging enemies and look for opportunities to use their unique skills.  Both
classes can also become good at sneaking and scouting, and can probably take
out solitary enemies if they get the first attack in.

4. Paladins and Rangers gain divine spells at high levels and have special
abilities vs. certain enemies, but don't forget that they're warriors, even if
some of their ability scores aren't quite up to par.  Give them enough Feats
and enhancements to make them count in a straight fight.  Most of their spells
are outdated by those of your stronger magicians (Rangers more so), but enough
of are worth stocking up on to make both classes useful reservists.  In the
"Gold Box" games all Rangers were strong against Giants--and were they ever!--
but here *you* choose which specialty your Ranger has.  I think undead is a
safe bet; they're dangerous and frequent enough in almost every D&D game.
Dragons are rarer and more dangerous, while aberrations, evil outsiders, and a
few others probably round out the "frequently appearing dangerous D&D game
monster" list.  But it is up to you.

5. Barbarians and Paladins are the "other" front-line warriors, with
Barbarians usually being more offensive and Paladins more defensive.  Each of
these archetypes is very easy to improve with the right Feats, making them
good choices for beginners.  Paladins are one of the most difficult classes to
obtain good Ability Scores for (they need 4 or 5 of them), while Barbarians
are one of the easiest.

6. Strength is usually the most important stat for warriors, but with many
combat and multi-class options available, warriors, especially Fighters and
Rangers, don't have to be muscle powerhouses.  Most already have a strong Base
Attack Bonus.  Dexterity can avoid frustration when it's time to take out a
bow.  Some excellent Feats favor Dexterity or require Intelligence.  Warrior
classes can generally afford to miss out on at least one strong physical stat.
It's just that most can even more afford to miss out on the mental stats.

7. At very high levels, an extra level of Fighter won't give you much to cheer
about.  Consider adding a level of Wizard/Sorcerer or Cleric to gain the
ability to use some magic items plus a few trickeries such as True Strike that
will really unbalance your combat skills.  One or two levels in Paladin,
Ranger, or Barbarian can give you something new as well.


B. Healers (Cleric, Druid)

1. At least one of these classes is highly recommended.  Clerics learn
powerful healing spells earlier, and good Clerics are highly recommended
for their ability to spontaneously convert memorized spells into curative
magic.  Druids are versatile spellcasters and can fulfill many roles when
their healing services are not needed, gaining a few strong attack spells and
being able to convert memorized spells into summoning magic.  Evil Clerics
have the unsettling ability to convert memorized spells into close range
damaging spells, and quite a few Cleric spells are malevolent enough to suit
their tastes.  Yeah, maybe some other time.  Both Clerics and Druids have
defensive magic and will be a primary source of the party's healing.

2. Clerics have a Turn Undead ability and Druids have Wild Shape.  Turn Undead
is probably more unique and urgent.  Wild Shape gives Druids some combat
damage and is probably useful in more situations.  Divine Feats and Wild
Shape Feats turn these rather square abilities into good all-around skills.
Focusing more on spellcasting or combat instead is still a fine choice.

3. As servants of the gods, each Cleric has unique "domain" powers and spells
that reflect their deities' natures.  This makes an otherwise boring class
more interesting, as does the distinction between good Clerics and evil
Clerics, but why do the more wicked domains have better bonus spells?

4. Clerics can usually stand in the front line for a while, but are
not necessarily skilled at bringing opponents down with their weapons.  Druids
have more options for offense but need to be more selective and cautious
overall.  Druids are probably more useless in fights against standard enemies.

5. Since Clerics and Druids can put most of their stats to some use, they are
likely to have at least one crippling weaknesses.  They have a handful of
strong prestige-classes, but you will probably want to learn at least Heal
before changing to a warrior class.


C. Scoundrels (Rogues, Bards)

1. Rogues and Bards are lightly armored characters with many special and
mundane abilities.  They have more class skills than other classes, and gain
enough Skill Points to perform several (not all!) of these skills well.
Rogues are the only characters who can perform some Skills well, and gain the
most Skill Points out of all the classes.  Their most famous special ability
is the Sneak Attack, and they gain other useful talents like Evasion.  Bards
are more jack-of-all-trades characters who can learn good scouting and
charisma-based abilities and a fair selection of spells.  Their spells and
Bard Songs can bring the most out of other party members' talents.  The rest
is up to you.  Which others skills will you learn, which roles will your Rogue
or Bard play?

2. Overall, Rogues are much more necessary for exploration and more difficult
to get any use out of in combat.  A Rogue's many Skill Points can make up for
a rather skill-less party, and five or six skills are almost certain to be
learned by them.  They're the only basic class with Open Locks and Disable
Trap, and some traps can only be found and disarmed by Rogues.  However Rogues
can't do much in combat except act as sub-fighters and try to Sneak Attack.
Sneak Attacks are very powerful, but they can be a chore to set up, and Rogues
otherwise don't last very long in close combat.  Bards can incapacitate some
enemies with spells, or sing a Bard Song when they're feeling useless.  Their
spells and songs provide them with better defensive options, but you'll need
someone to take another class if you want to learn the Rogue class skills.

3. Both classes are useful not only as scouts, but for ambushing unsuspecting
enemies and initiating surprise attacks.  Rogues can gain sneak attack damage
even when attacking with bows to grievously injure enemies.  Bards are the
most powerful spellcasting class with good scouting and stealth skills
(although of the former they only gain Listen) and may be best suited to
slamming a group of enemies with a nasty spell like Confusion.

4. Rogues eventually are likely to benefit more from multi-classing than from
continuing to remain single-class Rogues, and the list of classes that combine
well with Rogue abilities (especially with high skill ranks) is fairly long.
Multi-classed Rogues in particular may benefit from higher Intelligence and
Dexterity, since they will gain less Skill Points for their vital skills.


D. Wizards (Wizard, Sorcerer)

1. The Fireball series and other area effect damaging spells are usually the
primary attraction to these classes.  Sometimes they soften up armies of
enemies, sometimes they send bodies flying.  In just about every D&D video
game it's very easy to fry your own characters with this spells with bad aim.
(That's why your warriors have high HP :P)  It will happen at first, but you
will get better with your aim and timing.  See if you can figure out how to
visualize the area of effect correctly so you can damage enemies attacking
your warriors but not your warriors themselves.  And try not to let anyone get
surrounded; you will probably not be able to hit every enemy without damaging
your party members.  Some very decent damaging spells avoid these pitfalls.  I
believe Horrid Wilting is one that also happens to be an area effect spell.

2. These classes also get quite a few instant kill spells and enchantments.
Even spells like Dominate Person or Hold Monster essentially remove one or
more enemies from the combat instantly, it's just that they may come back!
Most of these spells are "all or nothing", so you'll want a high Ability Score
if you're focusing on them.  Also note that many "area effect" enchantments
affect only enemies, so you can cast them anywhere.  Don't overlook spells to
enhance and protect your allies, either.  As you learn more powerful damaging
spells, you'll probably replace your weaker attack spells with these.

3. Wizards seem more complicated to play, but they're simpler for beginners
who don't know which spells they like the best.  Since the usefulness of
specific spells waxes and wanes as characters and their enemies become more
powerful and higher level spells become available, having dozens of spells
learned in a single spell level does come in handy.  With Sorcerers you have
to plan out which spells you want now, and which spells you think you'll use
when you're tired of them.  Specialist Wizards also require a bit of
fortunetelling to select and are somewhere between the two in terms of raw
power, but much closer to Wizards in functioning.  Wizards also have a more
useful all-around Ability Score than Sorcerers.

4. In the ancient times, console RPGs gave your magicians a total of 10
spells to learn.  Your Sorcerer gets over 30, so trust me you can pick a good
selection.  Look for spells at adjacent levels that are redundant; you
probably don't need both if you can cast one up to six times a day.  Picking
up Empower Spell or Maximize spell essentially gives you extra spells.  In
many cases an Empowered or Maximized spell of a lower level is actually
superior to a similar spell of the adjusted level.  This is true for the Spell
Mantle series of spells and some damaging spells.

4a. Empower Spell improves numerical spell effects to 150%, while the effect
of a Maximize Spell is for most spells about 170% of the average effect.
Getting both is a waste, especially for Sorcerers who don't have many Feats.
In paper-and-pencil D&D, Sorcerers take slightly longer to cast Metamagic-
enhanced spells to make up for being able to cast them on the spot (basically
they can take fewer actions in that combat round).  Wizards have to determine
which spells they want to enhance as they memorize spells.

5. To specialize or not to specialize? Specialization gives you one extra
spell you can cast per spell level before you're a helpless, magicless
civilian, but that extra spell has to be from your specialized school, and
there are some spells you can never cast.  It's not that great a cost compared
to Sorcerers, and personally I think Wizards have too few spells per day and
far too many available spells as it is, but I still favor Sorcerers.  If
you're going to choose Wizards over Sorcerers, you might as well keep as much
versatility as possible, and be a little more cautious in adventures.  Look at
the spells you give up and see if you are happy.

5a. Evocation is hard to give up because it contains most of the damaging
spells. Conjuration can be a paltry substitute.  Some effective arcane
archetypes (especially multi-class magicians) rely very little on Evocation,
however.

5b. Transmutation has a few useless spells, but it hurts to give this one up.
Most of its spells can be filled in by other Wizard spells or by Clerics.

5c. Abjuration may not be something you want to specialize in, but it has too
many powerful protections to give up easily.  Most of them can be substituted
by other Wizard spells or picked up by Clerics, however.

5d. Illusion spells round out the array of protective and affective magics
Wizards have, including several very powerful defensive and utility spells.

5e. Enchantment is a nice secondary weapon to have.  These are essentially
knockout or miss spells, or enhancements.  Yet many other spells overlap with
them.

5f. Divination has maybe two useful spells.  I cannot imagine specializing in
this school, but it's hard to justify giving up Identify.

5g. Conjuration gives up many Summoning spells and a few useful utility and
baneful spells, but nothing that can't be substituted.  Most of these can be
cast by the Shadow Conjuration series of spells, but they will be weaker.

5h. Necromancy is something I've never relied on.  It contains some spells
that you won't like to give up, but few necessary spells.  Most of them are
easily substituted, especially by Clerics.

6. With Sorcerers even more so than Wizards, you can plot out your own
character's identity as a stylish and powerful magician with a specific spell
selection.  Just as with your warriors and their Feats.  I once played a
Sorceress as a "witch" who only learned non-damaging magic (but who would
eventually learn Chain Lightning).  Sorcerers with primarily damaging spells
are probably more common, but save some space for beneficial spells for when
you move on to stronger damaging spells.

7. Both Wizards and Sorcerers can shore up their respective weaknesses should
they be fortunate enough to find wands and scrolls with the right spells.  My
Sorceress found a wand of Lightning.  When she felt flustered from using up
all her enchantments, she just threw lightning at the enemy.  Wizards have the
Bonus Feats and the spell selection to let them create these items easily.
Ultimately I'm not sure it all matters much at higher levels.

8. Wizards are *generally* more effective than Sorcerers in multi-classes
because they learn higher-level spells earlier and can exchange low-level
spells that are no longer useful with low-level spells that remain a little
useful even to high level characters.  Effective fighter/magician multi-
classes will primarily be talked about in the Prestige Classes section.


E. Warlocks

1. Unfortunately I don't know much about how Warlocks actually play, but I
will do the best I can.  Warlocks are like villainous casters who throw bolts
of magic (their Eldrich Blast) at their enemies whenever they feel like it,
over and over again.  They gain a small selection of magical "invocations" of
increasing power that they can use limitlessly to enhance their abilities,
bespell enemies, and enhance their Eldrich Blast with added effects.  Their
Eldrich Blast itself becomes more damaging as they level up.

2. Like many other classes, Warlocks require some selectivity on your part
to shape what kind of powerful heroes (or villains) they will become.  Many of
their invocations develop sequentially in a manner similar to Wizards--both
damage-dealers and enchanters--while others strangely give them Roguish
abilities.  Since their invocations and damaging Eldrich Blasts never run out,
they are frequently very offensive characters, although their stealthly
invocations never run out, either. With only 12 invocations total to learn
(but only a little over 30 to choose from), it might be a good idea to think
in the long-term rather than in the short-term.

3. Warlocks aren't as versatile as Wizards and Sorcerers at face value, but
they do fight as well as Rogues and may have more potential in certain multi-
classes, despite what the game manual says.  Several of their invocations make
various multi-class setups with Rogues look interesting.  As multi-class
warriors, they will gain four attacks per round (onto which Frightful Blow
can be added).  Free armor proficiencies will allow Warlocks to easily make
use of the Battlecaster feat.  Heavy armor probably isn't needed with the
right invocations.


IV.  PRESENTATION ON PRESTIGE CLASSES

The majority of this section contains some of my ruminations on how various
prestige classes might play or be developed.  Generally I don't make
recommendations, just comparisons.  I spent more time on and understand some
prestige classes better than others, so I'm sure I will be updating this
section for some classes.  But first...

A. Prestige Class Miss-Outs

Many classes can qualify easily for prestige classes that give them a little
extra oomph or useful extra abilities.  But most of the time a character who
advances in a prestige class will stop developing an aspect of their basic
class in some way.  The same applies to a character who multi-classes to
another basic class.

0. Among the many prestige classes with High Base Attack Bonuses, you will
notice that some give you Weapons and Armor proficiencies similar to what
Fighters have, and some don't.  Fighters don't lose anything and are just as
good no matter which prestige class they select, but classes such as Wizards
need to be selective.  Wizard/Blackguards know how to use martial weapons and
heavy armor, but Wizard/Divine Champions do not!)

1. Fighters will usually give up their extra Bonus Feats for every other
level.  If they become the Divine Champion prestige class, they will retain
this benefit and learn additional new abilities, but may delay or miss out
from learning Fighter-exclusive Feats such as Greater Weapon Focus or Greater
Weapon Specialization.

2. Clerics will no longer improve their Turn Undead ability in most prestige
classes.  Moreover, most magician-type prestige classes will hold back a
character's spellcasting prowess by at least one or two levels.

3. Rogues frequently stop gaining extra Sneak Attack damage and unique Rogue
abilities, though several prestige classes continue to offer some of them.
It's worth noting that Rogues gain the most Skill Points per level out of all
classes, and will learn fewer Skill Points in any new class.

4. Wizards will give up their extra Bonus Feats in addition to sacrificing
some spellcasting.  A Familiar's acquired special abilities will no longer
improve.  In D&D some basic familiar stats *should* continue to rise along
with your character's basic stats.

5. Rangers will no longer improve upon their Favored Enemy ability or their
combat style, will miss out on high-level abilities, and as usual will stunt
their spellcasting.  Unlike Familiars, in D&D all of an Animal Companion's
abilities and vital stats depend on Ranger and Druid levels.

6. Paladins usually stop improving their Lay on Hands, Turn Undead, Smite
Evil, (and Remove Disease) abilities, in addition to their spellcasting.

7. Barbarians will no longer improve their Rage ability or damage reduction.

8. Monks in compatible classes no longer improve their unarmed attack damage
and many other abilities.  The rate at which Flurry of Blows becomes better
than the Monk's Base Attack Bonus *should* not rise, but I'm not sure if this
game resolves that the way it should.  Stunning Fist attacks will continue to
improve (since it's a Bonus Feat), although Monks earn the most uses of it.

9. Druids give up improvements to their Wild Shape and similar abilities, miss
out on at least some spellcasting, and their Animal Companions will no longer
improve.

10. Bards will no longer improve their Bardic knowledge or the number of times
per day they can use Bard songs, and their spellcasting will take a hit.  Most
other miss-outs are self-explanatory.

11. Sorcerers can even less afford to delay their spellcasting development
than Wizards, and like Wizards their Familiars will suffer.

12. Warlocks' Eldrich Blast damage and other special abilities will no longer
improve.  There aren't any other classes that will help them there.


B. Arcane Archer

1. Most classes will require multi-classing to qualify for this prestige class
by Level 10.  Bards will qualify, Wizards need at least two levels in a
warrior class or will qualify at Level 12, warriors need a level in an arcane
class.  All of them have something to offer to a ranged warrior/magician
multi-class.  Rangers and Bards have the stealth to make the first powerful
attack without fear.  Wizards and Sorcerers have a few spells that will
enhance their archery skills--I'm thinking Web--and are overall good at long-
range attacks anyway.  Fighters and Rangers learn powerful archery feats and
have the best Base Attack Bonus.

2. Depending on the setup, this class can either inflict lots of damage on
single enemies, or clear out multiple weak enemies.  Rangers will pick up
slightly better armor (which they may not want to wear) and a few minor
tricks that will help, namely True Strike.

3. Most warrior/magician multi-classes and prestige classes will probably
require an adjustment in focus when it comes to spell selection.  A level
10/10 Fighter/Wizard is not very powerful at face value.  However, Wizards
and Sorcerers gain many spells that help other characters or themselves become
powerful warriors and take less damage.  These can help make such characters
powerful and versatile warriors.  Many prestige classes also make things
easier for these characters than basic warrior classes would.  This one gives
a little extra magical power, and significant attack bonuses when using bows.


C. Arcane Trickster

1. The most direct route to this class is a Rogue/Wizard multi-class; such a
character will qualify at Level 8 (3/5).  Rogue/Wizards can be very powerful;
this prestige class is a beefed-up version with fewer Hit Points and Skill
points.  Wizards who take this prestige class can learn Level 9 magic and 6d6
Sneak Attack damage, making them Level 11/17 Rogue/Wizards in that respect,
having slightly more Hit Points and Skill Points than a single-class Wizard,
and picking up Evasion.  This is a character who is very adept at delivering
Sneak Attacks without exposing himself to too much danger.  Low Base Attack
Bonus and Hit Points gives Arcane Tricksters a poor combat presence, but they
manage to squeeze in three attacks toward the end and Wizards can get around
that anyway.  Picking up a decent package of Rogue skills may be more
challenging.


D. Assassin

1. Probably the closest thing to a genuine ninja class in the game, Assassins
have the same important class skills as Rogues but far fewer Skill Points.
Each Assassin probably has their own specialties which you should feel free to
make up, although all have at least the minimum stealth requirement.  I don't
know if Assassins without Rogue levels can find and disable difficult traps.
They rely pretty heavily on their Death Attack, which Fortitude-heavy warriors
and healers can probably shrug off.  Go after the wizards or take advantage of
how easily they poison their weapons.  Evil Rangers, Bards, Monks, and Rogues
can qualify at Level 5; others should multi-class or gain the right class
Skills.


E. Blackguard

1. Essentially a Dark Paladin with the unsettling ability to Sneak Attack but
far fewer spells.  I will cover my eyes for the Bull's Strength-enchanced
Smite Good Sneak Attack, thank you.  I've seen a few interesting Blackguard
setups with several classes, but I will have to look them up for a later
update.  The key is that Blackguards improve on several non-warrior
abilities... we've already discussed warrior/magician multi-classes a bit.  As
warrior/ magician multi-classes, Blackguards offer excellent weapon and armor
proficiencies, but for Wizards their requirements are rather steep without
adding a couple of levels of Ranger anyway.  Dark Blessing makes this a good
class for evil warriors to pick up even minimal levels in.


F. Divine Champion

1. A warrior class that combines some features of Paladins, Fighters, and
Barbarians.  I'm not sure I want to be a fanatic, but warriors should take a
serious look at this one.  Others should say away because this class offers
no free weapon or armor proficiencies.


G. Duelist

1. Small characters may be well-suited to this class, as Duelists seem to rely
on avoiding hits and their abilities inflict extra dice of damage if they
simply hit (mitigating the weaker weapons small characters use).  There are a
few Fighter setups that will gravitate toward this class.  Since warriors with
Weapon Finesse are better at hitting the enemy than damaging.  Int-based Feats
like Disarm and Feint are natural additional feats for this prestige class.
As the name implies, with strong parrying abilities, good Hit Points, but poor
Armor Class, Duelists are almost certainly stronger against strong bosses than
against mobs of foes, but they might be able to stick-and-move against heavily
armored mobs.


H. Dwarven Defender

1. Dodge can be a difficult feat for Gold Dwarves to learn.  This is something
like a Barbarian class that is much harder to hit due to heavier armor and
dodge bonuses.  But you need to select a few good OFFENSIVE feats for this
one.  This class makes an interesting one-time level up pick for high-level
characters.


I. Eldritch Knight

1. Qualifying for this class requires the ability to use martial weapons in
addition to level 3 arcane magic, in contrast to my manual's description, and
gives two free Feats--so don't pick them up earlier.  A Wizard who spends a
Feat to learn martial weapons can qualify at Level 5.  Spending a level in the
Fighter will grant that proficiency for free plus a free bonus feat, and
qualify Wizards at Level 6.  As with the Arcane Trickster, this is a beefed up
warrior/mage multi-class with fewer Hit Points, good Skill Points and a fair
armor selection.  An Eldritch Knight can learn Level 9 magic and attain skills
equivalent to a Level 15/19 Warrior/Wizard, or 16/18 Warrior/Wizard to squeeze
out four attacks per round if the one warrior level method is used.  This
makes this a viable prestige class for Sorcerers who still want to learn
Level 9 magic.  With poor Hit Points, defensive magic is a must for combative
Eldritch Knights, and you need to watch out for arcane spell failure.


J. Frenzied Berserker

1. The Bonus Feat of Toughness seems a fair exchange for Frenzy's more massive
Armor Class penalty and self-damaging effects.  You don't get any extra weapon
or armor proficiencies from this prestige class.  Frenzy's Strength bonus will
at least add to your Power Attack's accuracy, if this class is going to push
it that strongly on you.  Get someone to assist you in reducing the enemy's
Armor Class, perhaps with Knockdown.  I think strong characters like your
Frenzied Berserker are good at Knockdown.  I wonder if it's possible for
your Wizard friends to create Potions of True Strike for you?


K. Harper Agent

1. With few differences, Harper Agents have the same class skills as Bards,
and the same skill points, so this is a good transition for them.  It's
difficult for Barbarians, Rangers, Fighters, Wizards, Warlocks, and Sorcerers
to attain the acquired Diplomacy rank without multi-classing.  Most of its
class features are defensive in nature, and rather boring.  So... tell your
oh-so vital Cleric or Druid or that Mr. Idiot Fighter or Paladin that s/he can
pick up a jaw-dropping +8 Saving Throw bonus against devious charm, confusion,
fear, and some illusion magic (including two death spells), making the
warriors on par with the spellcasters and the spellcasters nigh-untouchable.
How?  +2 Will Save from the Iron Will feat required for this class, + 2 Save
against mind-affecting spells at Level 2, +2 Save against all spells at
Level 5, and temporary +2 to all Saving Throws from the ability learned at
Level 3.  The warrior's Hit Points may suffer a bit, Base Attack not so much.
It's only five levels.


L. Pale Master

1. Since Pale Masters improve their spellcasting only every other level,
Level 10 Pale Masters can only learn Level 8 magic if Wizards and Level 7
magic if Sorcerers.  For Wizards that's still very powerful.  Pale Masters
have the same Hit Points as... Eldritch Knights!  And about the same or
protection, too (unless the latter get heavier armor).  But unless I'm missing
something, Pale Masters' abilities pale in comparison (oops, that wasn't
intended).  Their special abilities are redundant with arcane magic, and they
gain immunities to ailments that are more vexing to other classes.


M. Red Dragon Disciple

1. At first glance this prestige class doesn't look like it offers much to
magician characters, but this is a capable warrior/magician sub-class.  A
Level 10/10 Dragon Disciple/Sorcerer has the Base Attack Bonus of a Level 12
Fighter (not much), but boosted Draconic Strength brings the highest attack to
the same as a L16 Fighter with 10 Strength, which is at least better than a
Cleric.  And with more damage.  Red Dragon disciples have the endurance that
most other warrior/magician multi-classes do not.  Apply as many spells as you
can to improve your attacks, spells like Heroism, Haste, and perhaps Polymorph
Self, and you can dish it out as well as you take it.  Probably the best such
spell is Tenser's Transformation which essentially turns you into Fighter.
You'll have to be at least a Level 12 Sorcerer to learn it.  Even eight
levels of Red Dragon Disciple makes for a fearsome combination.  Like Arcane
Archer, this class gives you a little extra bang for giving up all those
Sorcerer levels.


N. Shadow Thief of Amn

1. With most of the Rogue skills and slightly fewer Skill Points, this
prestige class seems to be more charmer than scoundrel.  Bards, Monks, and
Rangers can also attain enough skill ranks to qualify easily.  Some of the
bonus feats, the Sneak Attack ability, and the charisma-based abilities
may be useful to them as well.  With two Bonus Feats in four levels, it may
be a better compliment post Level-10 Rogues than the Rogue class itself.


O. Shadowdancer

1. Even one level in this class makes lets Rogues Sneak Attack more easily in
combat and gives Monks excellent protection, but other abilities overlap.
Shadowdancers have good Hit Points, though.  Bards, Rogues, Rangers and Monks
can qualify for this class by Level 8; others have to multi-class.


P. Warpriest

1. Clerics and Druids alike can qualify for this class at Level 7 without
much fuss.  Level 10 Warpriests can only learn up to Level 8 magic, but as
a warrior/healer prestige class they fight as well as Level 17 Fighters.
Actually that's a minuscule improvement over what you can get just with Cleric
and Fighter levels, and Warpriests don't get Bonus Feats or improve Turn
Undead or Wild Shape.  Bonus spells and special abilities, including one Level
9 spell unavailable to Druids, make you think twice.  Since you've committed
to giving up at least some divine magic, check your other options and figure
out the best number of levels to gain in this or other warrior classes.


Q. Weapon Master

Ever since meeting the Weapon Master in Quest For Glory (I never beat him;
I know magic much better than fighting), I've always wondered what it would be
like to have one of these crotchety old men Swordy Lordys on my side.  Well I
can at least see why they're so fast and lure apprentices into false openings
easily.

1. The earliest that a *Human* (or Strongheart Halfling) character with no
levels in Fighter can qualify for this class is Level 12.  Take at least two
Fighter levels and any race can qualify by Level 9.  This class gives the
equivalent of at least five Feats, so Fighters aren't giving up much.  With so
many Feats decided, you may feel you don't have many left for your own use.
Fighters can still get another package of Feats to make them an expert in
something else.  Even Two-Weapon Fighting is an option: the Weapon Focus
bonuses mitigate the penalties for not wielding a light weapon in your off-
hand.  The other obvious choices are the Fighter exclusive Feats.


V. SKILL SUBSTITUTIONS

A. General Ideas

There are 27 skills in Neverwinter Nights 2.  As a Level 1 Rogue who gains,
at least eight skill points per level, even you cannot learn and be expert at
them all.

Skills are an important part of your character's identity.  You should decide
beforehand what he or she is good at, allocating skill points to maximum or
near-maximum rank.  Perhaps your character is fairly good at several skills
that you'll bring to half the maximum rank.  Are you a premier scout, a
skulker, a charmer, or someone who is good with devices?  What do you think?
Give your character some personality and do not despair that he or she cannot
do everything.  The fact that you have some strengths will help you.

However, your friends can help.  Many skills really only need one party member
to be proficient in them.  Band together with Fighter, Cleric, and Wizard and
you'll have more options.  Let's see how many Skill Points they have:

Dwarf Fighter with 10 Int...... (2)
Half Elf Cleric with 10 Int.... (2)
Halfling Rogue with 12 Int..... (9)
Elf Wizard with 16 Int......... (5)

Uh oh.  With only 18 Skill Points total per level, I can only "max" out up to
18 out of the 27 skills in the game.

Create characters with higher Intelligence or the Human "Skilled" bonus if you
want more skill points.  Rangers/Barbarians, Druids, and Rogues gain more
skill points per level than their respective similar classes, and they also
have more class skills.  For example a Fighter's max rank in the "Listen"
skill is only half of a Ranger's max rank in that same skill.  Wizards will
usually have higher Intelligence than Sorcerers and thus gain more skill
points.

Another viable option is simply not to max out your Skills.  Perhaps you will
only want to spend half the maximum skill points in two of your class skills.
I'm sure you'll decide some skills are useless and not worth your time.


B. SKILL SUBSTITUTIONS

All of the skills are useful, but it's hard to learn all of them.

However, our Fighter/Cleric/Rogue/Wizard party is not helpless!  In this
section I will tell you what you can do to "substitute" for the fact that
you may not have a particular skill.  Or not!  I will talk about each skill in
turn.


1. APPRAISE: A non-combat skill, in some games your fighting party doesn't
need to learn it at all.  You can use the "get someone else" who knows it
solution: Get someone else who knows it or can train in it, and throw him out
of your party when you don't need the skill.  Fox's Cunning can help
marginally; it's sometimes easy to prepare for when you need to use this
skill, so there's less need to max it.  In almost all cases only one character
needs to learn it.

There are some skills that may come into play in special situations, and as
the hero of the game, they may be skills that YOU need to know.  This could
be one of them.  I'll get back to you on that, though.  There may be some
situations where your allies can't help; you either know it or you don't.

2. BLUFF: For dialogue, you'll either need the skill, have to get someone else
for special missions requiring truly outrageous lies, or ignore it.  If you
can foresee at what intervals you'll need it, Eagle's Splendor may allow you
to spend a few less points on it.  Decide if it's really necessary.  Bluff is
a sneaky skill that's not very appropriate to simple-minded warriors.

The Feint application of this skill can be substituted by many other combat
feats if you're a Duelist or other warrior, or just by hiding or being
invisible if you are a Rogue.

3. CRAFT (Alchemy, Armor, Trap, or Weapon): Get someone else.  Only one
character needs each skill, and most of these skills can be learned by several
classes and characters, so train the spare guys in them or just give each to
an appropriate mascot.  You can approach the Brew Potion, Craft Magical Arms
and Armor, Craft Wand, Craft Wondrous Item, and Scribe Scroll Feats in the
same way, if you want them, particularly the lower level Feats.

4. CONCENTRATION: Every spellcaster either needs it or has to work around it,
healers especially.  Strong armor (for Clerics) and learning Combat Casting
are really more highly recommended supplementals to a maxed out Concentration
skill than substitutions.  Wizards can try staying out of combat or casting
potent defensive magic beforehand.  In paper and pencil D&D, you can sometimes
step away from the enemy, even if it provokes an attack of opportunity (it
sometimes doesn't), and cast while not in melee in the same round, but some
spells won't let you do that.

5. DIPLOMACY: Get someone else.  See Bluff.  Possibly the dialogue skill that
requires the most heavy-lifting: *someone* should have it or you'll be playing
the game differently, that someone will want it to be high, and as the hero
that someone may be you.  Otherwise, in some games you'll want to perfect your
stealth and enchantment magic.

6. DISABLE DEVICE: One person should have it.  Many traps can be withstood by
beefed up Fighters (Barbarians with trap sense are better), and Monks are
strong against magical traps, but in paper-and-pencil D&D the most powerful
magical traps WILL nail you.  Sometimes the Dispel Magic family or abjuration
magic will squash them or protect you, though.

7. HEAL: A party with a Cleric has little need for this skill, especially at
high levels.  Druid parties may want it.

8. HIDE: For sneak attacks or scouting, Invisibility makes you "hidden" to
most enemies anyway and is good in a pinch.  In combat, casting Blindness on
an enemy does much the same thing, and you don't reveal yourself when you
attack. It's not always perfect; some creatures can see invisible, and many
Fighters can Blind-Fight when blinded or vs. invisible enemies.

It's hard for an entire party to be skilled at sneaking by an enemy,
especially in bulky and noisy armor ("Swiff-Swiff-Clank!").  Use magic for
that.  Hide and Move Silently are for your scout or sneak.

9. INTIMIDATE: If Intimidate doesn't work on enemies, you could always cast
Charm or Fear on them?  Has the same issues as Diplomacy and Bluff.

10. LORE: In D&D, "Knowledge" skills really shine and add color to the game
when at least one character possesses the right one, but Wizards and Bards can
use magic (Identify and Legend Lore) that tells them a lot, too.  Since this
skill is primarily non-combat anyway, you can get someone else who knows it.

11. LISTEN: Your party scout (a good Ranger, Barbarian, Monk, or even Rogue)
should have Spot and Listen, and others may want a token amount.  With four
characters performing both Listen and Spot checks, and the ability to stand
still (+5 bonus to Listen) and enter Detect Mode (bonuses to Listen and Spot),
you will probably notice most normal enemies and be surprised only
occasionally by them.  Some magic helps when you *know* you need it.

12. MOVE SILENTLY: Casting Silence on yourself or a target *should* have the
same effect if it works.  Casting Blindness and Deafness on the target is
simpler.

13. OPEN LOCK: Wizards have Knock.  You may not want to memorize this spell at
lower levels, but it may save you from having to max this skill.

14. PARRY: Get someone else and put him in the front line while YOU kill the
enemy.  But what happens when the enemy turns around and whacks you instead?
This skill (and others like it) is best suited to parties with multiple
warriors and is itself a substitute for strong armor, defensive magic like
Displacement, and healing magic.

15. PERFORM: Perform should be maxed for Bards.

16. SEARCH: Find Traps can help, but a Rogue with a high Search rank has few
substitutes.

17. SET TRAP: Get someone else.  Either your playing style will use it or it
won't.

18. SLEIGHT OF HAND: This is usually a non-combat skill, so get someone else.
Since you always know when you're going to use it (unless you're one of those
absentminded Kender, but that's a different game world), a timely Cat's Grace
prevents you from having to max it.  See Hide for how to avoid opposed Spot
checks.

19. SPELLCRAFT: At least one character should have it, but it can be a mild
luxury.

20. SPOT: See Listen.  In dark areas bring a character of the right race.

21. SURVIVAL: Some other skills and spells may overlap this Feat, but you can
always get a Ranger or Druid who knows it.  Actually the Ranger's Track Feat
overlaps with Survival.

22 TAUNT: Use magic like Slow or Stinking Cloud.  This one's for warriors.

23. TUMBLE: Certain character and party setups need it; most don't.  Get
better armor, use defensive magic, or blind your opponents.  Fighters in heavy
armor can easily take the Dodge and Mobility feats, which are almost as good,
and then earn the Spring Attack Feat, which is better.  But as a Trained only
Skill that requires a reasonable DC of 15 to work, for many classes a few
ranks are better than nothing.

24. USE MAGIC DEVICE: For items restricted by your class, a single level in
Wizard or Cleric (and don't forget Paladins and Bards) lets you use Staves,
Scrolls, and Wands.  If you want to use items restricted by race or alignment,
use this skill.  Warlocks should probably get this skill instead of multi-
classing.


VI.  ON FEATS (Coming Soon!)

-------------------------



CONTACT INFO

Email me at FrGrnDrgns@aol.com if you wish to give feedback about this FAQ.
Please include "Neverwinter 2 FAQ" in the Subject because I'm very suspicious
about unsolicited email.  Also be advised that I don't always check my email
right away... sorry.  Please don't email me about subjects unrelated
to this guide or game.



COPYRIGHT NOTICE

This guide copyright 2007 by Jorge Sierra.  This guide may be reproduced only
for personal private use.  The reproduction of this guide for any other
purpose is strictly prohibited.  This includes (but is not limited to)
reposting this guide on any other web site, reproducing this guide in
published works for profit, and reproducing sections of this guide.  If you're
going to write or comment about this guide (though I cannot imagine why anyone
would want to do this), be sure to credit the author and this guide properly
to avoid plagiarism.

As of 01/02/07, the following sites have permission to use this FAQ:

www.gamefaqs.com (always has my latest update)


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS/THANKS

Much thanks to CJayC for his comprehensive on-site guide on how to write and
submit a FAQ to GameFAQs.

I thank Jeff, Ryan, Katherine, Max, Jen, Ben, Randall, and Emmett, my old
DM and D&D teammates, for a fascinating and rewarding year and a half.

Thanks for reading this FAQ!

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FIN