Exploits are the intentional abuse of game mechanics in a way unintended by the developers. Baldur's Gate and Infinity Engine games are no exception, having bugs and glitches even in their fully patched versions.
Because Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II have capped stats, there are technical limits to the abilities of individual characters, and tactics can only go so far to compensate for these limits. Additionally, BioWare selectively ignores many of the D&D rules for dramatic effect or to force a certain course of action, while in a tabletop game the Dungeon Master would be obliged to follow the game rules, even as he/she invents scenarios for the players. This serves as a constraint to true roleplay that would take emerge in later generation RPG games.
Players are discouraged from role-playing as evil characters - despite the most powerful NPCs, Viconia, Sarevok, Edwin and Korgan being of evil alignment - by reducing the rewards for evil actions, and increasing the penalties associated with them. By forcing the player to be either good/neutral, the role-playing, open-ended aspect of these early BioWare games is downplayed, so use of emergent gameplay is required to fully embrace different role-playing experiences.
Use of exploits and the related style of power-gaming follows in this vein, allowing the player in-game options for breaking and surpassing the limits set by BioWare, or compensating for unfair advantages or scenarios awarded to or constructed by NPCs. Exploits can be rationalized in-universe as natural or causal phenomenon, not as bugs or glitches, allowing players new venues for opportunity, discovery, and exploration.
Baldur's Gate Edit
Algernon is a portly old man on the second floor of Feldepost's Inn in Beregost. He wears what appears to be a Nymph's Cloak but it has nearly unlimited charges of Charm, which requires a very high Save vs. Breath Weapon to resist. The quest involving Algernon's Cloak does not trigger until the player arrives in Baldur's Gate, but the cloak itself is available as early as Chapter 1. Most parties would not know Algernon has the cloak, as typically only an evil-aligned party would murder Algernon and discover it, and thieves would not know some random man in an inn would possess such a powerful item.
The cloak can be used to charm almost any character in the game, allowing them to reveal information while under the charmed effect (Baldur's Gate II removes these dialogue strings, preventing players from conversing with charmed/dominated characters) and also allowing one to command them in battle. This even applies to characters far beyond the player's level and abilities, allowing some battles to be won fairly easily so long as the target fails the saving throw. Tactical use of Algernon's Cloak can allow players to command such as Taugosz "Tenhammer" Khosann and Ardenor Crush to destroy their own Bandit Camp (as they are the strongest characters in camp) or to take over a Vampiric Wolf (immune to normal weapons) to massacre the wolf pack it is a part of.
An especially useful exploitation of the unlimited-charm aspect of the cloak is in preventing arrest in situations where thieving could be noticed. This essentially replaces the need for one or more mage members forced to expend Level 1 slots to do the same thing.
Another useful exploitation of the cloak is the ability to kill civilians for their money or objects without loss of reputation, if you have paired members. Separate the paired members by leaving one in a building or a room and dismiss the other member from the team. Charm the civilian, attack the dismissed member, and flee. The dismissed member will perceive the civilian as an enemy and attack him/her. After the civilian is killed, use the separated member to invite the dismissed member back onto the team.
Dagger of VenomEdit
The dagger of venom is a unique item in the Baldur's Gate trilogy. While the "venom" is depicted as a form of poison, it isn't affected by poison modifiers and is actually a special form of damage that no NPCs have resistance against. This means that any monster or NPC is stabbed by the dagger and fails the save will incur damage. In the original Baldur's Gate, even monsters that were not intended to be killed (such as the Demon Knight, Ulcaster's Ghost, Duke Eltan, Return to Candlekeep Ulraunt & Tethtoril) can be slain by the dagger. The dagger's ability to induce "poison" also gives it the ability to break scripts, as NPCs who are stabbed by it miss their timing for delivering scripts.
The best weapon to go along with the dagger are ordinary fists, as fist damage can penetrate Otiluke's Resilient Sphere. Monsters or NPCs captured by the sphere have invulnerability but low evasion, allowing a barehanded opponent to easily reduce their HP to zero and knock them out. Once unconscious, their ability to successfully save against the dagger of venom is diminished, and the dagger only needs to do 1 HP worth of damage to kill the enemy.
Dream Special AbilitiesEdit
Helm of Opposite AlignmentEdit
This powerful helmet was included in the original BG item list but could not be found in game until Tales of the Sword Coast, where the Demon Knight that spawns on the ground floor of Durlag's Tower is wearing it. The Demon Knight in this appearance does not have much in the way of Magic Resistance, but has high HP, suggesting BioWare intended the player to attack it but do little damage. To obtain the Helm, the Demon Knight must be killed quickly before he de-spawns. The most consistent way to do this is cast Otiluke's Resilient Sphere on the Demon Knight, immobilizing him, then using fists aided by Haste to reduce his HP and knock him out. Once knocked out, he can be slain with regular weapons once the sphere dissipates, or be killed through the sphere with the Dagger of Venom.
A second exploit available through use of the Helm is to permanently alter a character's alignment. When a character is wearing the helm, apply the Girdle of Masculinity/Femininity, which will invert the character's sex while also reverting their alignment back to what it was before donning the helm. Once the curses are removed, the player will be permanently of the opposite alignment, and will behave just as an evil character would.
This alignment exploit applies in both Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II, and also alters the behavior of characters with the new alignment. For example, paladins with Lawful Evil alignment will not fall if a party's reputation plummets, and rather will complain, leave or fight the player if the party's reputation climbs too high. Use of this odd interaction with cursed items can allow players to (somewhat) legally expand the number of good, evil characters they want to party with in both games.
Ghoul Touch is a Level 2 Necromancy Spell that gives a Wizard (or Priest) the ability to paralyze with a touch, but do nothing else. It is not a routinely used spell because it's rather useless and situational. However, Flaming Fist Battle Wizards often use it as a last resort, and killing them after they've cast Ghoul Touch reveals that the Ghoul Touch hand was accidentally flagged as a drop-able item in Baldur's Gate, so it is almost like being able to equip the rigid hand of the deceased Flaming Fist. Party members who die while using Ghoul Touch will also exhibit this phenomenon.
Although interesting, Ghoul Touch is not a useful weapon even if it can be equipped, as it is treated as a mace and Wizards do not have any proficiency in it. However, if the character is exported to Baldur's Gate II and allowed to bypass the inventory wipe in the Irenicus Dungeon (only available in multiplayer), they will retain the Ghoul Touch in one of their primary weapon slots where it is an effective weapon, capable of dealing damage alongside paralyzing an opponent without time limit. However, it is easily dispelled and is less potent as the game increases in difficulty.
Only arcane spell that bypasses magic resistance. This allows wizards to damage Drizzt, Sarevok, and Mustard Jellies, who are otherwise not fun to fight against in a magic-centric party.
Most enemies have spells encoded on items that have limited timers, so by not pausing the game in places like the Temple of Bhaal or the Northern Island, bosses becoming much weaker in time due to their protection spells running out.
Killing Powerful NPCs Edit
If Drizzt can be surrounded by NPC party members (it will take a full party of CHARNAME plus the 5 NPCs and can be a bit tricky to accomplish as he wanders hasted) and then Reform until all former members become neutral, his attack will be limited to close-range melee. In that situation, Drizzt can be killed with either a ranged or long-range melee weapon with total safety for the CHARNAME. Only natural 20 rolls will hit him and none of those will register as critical hits since Drizzt is immune to those. A sizable reputation loss will result from his death.
It is also possible to play tag with Drizzt around the lake, using the Boots of Speed to evade his strikes. Drizzt's pathfinding in Baldur's Gate is not that great and he can get stuck in the middle of the lake, with the player on the other side. For wizards, using Dimension Door to cross the lake is advised. The player can then pepper him with arrows or ranged spells with impunity until he dies.
Ultaunt is very killable but has high physical resistance to weapons and a high magic resistance, like a human Kangaxx. Players will have to attack him for a long, long time (or get lucky with the Dagger of Venom) but he will eventually die by normal means.
Gorion (Prologue) Edit
He casts a number of Level 3 spells but autokills any enemy he targets with the spell once it is cast. Stay out of his line of sight and use spells like Cloudkill or Stinking Cloud to pacify him from a distance, then awaken him with offensive spells, arrows or melee. The best option possible is to bounce a lightning bolt off the stairs so it hits him multiple times.
Tethtoril (Prologue) Edit
Possesses Deity Kill, which is as unstoppable as Gorion's instant-kill command, but Diety Kill has a weakness: it is lower than Level 3, and is blocked by Minor Globe of Invulnerability. Use a globed Wizard to soak up Tethtoril's attention while attacking him with whatever other weapons (preferably the Dagger of Venom) are at hand.
Single most powerful NPC/boss in Tales of the Sword Coast, in terms of difficulty and experience given (24,000 EXP). He casts a number of Level 5/6 spells with Improved Alacrity after casting Globe of Invulnerability on himself, eventually teleporting away when he's out of ammo. Attack him from a distance using area spells, Cloudkill, Stinking Cloud or wands, casting Otiluke's Resilient Sphere on him and punching him out with fists, finishing him off with melee or the Dagger of Venom. Can also be paralyzed with a wand, it might take a lot of reloads.
Killing them gives immediate access to plate armor, so even for players of good alignment, killing one can be valuable as plate armor is difficult to find early in the game.
Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn Edit
Find Familiar Edit
Hell Trial Rewards Edit
All of the Hell Trial rewards stack, so having a player go through them multiple times can lead to 127% magic resistance and 127% resistance to fire, cold and electricity, which have the in-game effect of immunity. Going through the evil trials is not recommended because due to a negative bug, the player's alignment will be altered to Neutral Evil (even if they are a different form of Evil).
Irenicus Dungeon PauseEdit
When a new game is started in Shadows of Amn, a cutscene begins with Irenicus where the player character has no items. Items imported from Baldur's Gate are removed by a script at the start of this cutscene. However, there is a brief period where the player has control right before cutscene mode goes into effect. The screen is dark and because the character starts out in a cage, he/she cannot move. A quick player can pause the game during this period of freedom, and dump all items on his/her person. This avoids having the items wiped by the script and allows them to be requipped after freedom is restored. However, the Double Rings of Wizardry won't work if this method is applied.
No Portrait Import Edit
When importing a character from Baldur's Gate or Tales of the Sword Coast, Baldur's Gate II has the player reassign their stats on their character sheet, then wipes their inventory before dropping the character in the Irenicus Dungeon. However, if the player is using a custom portrait but doesn't carry that portrait over from the BG1 director to BG2, all of this reassignment is skipped and the player is automatically forwarded through the character creation right to assigning appearance and name.
Level Up TwiceEdit
As a side effect of skipping the character creation stat reassignment, the player character is reduced to Level 1 but retains all their Experience, allowing them to repeat the level up process up through Level 7 or 9. This can double a player's HP, although ultimately it has no effect on total weapon proficiencies or spell level acquisition.
Double Ring of WizardryEdit
Some items like the Rings of Wizardry are disallowed on both fingers in Baldur's Gate II, but if one is wearing double rings going in, they're still able to gain the effects of both in BG2, they just cannot swap between items and must wear the double rings at all times.
Because the Ring of Wizardry worked differently in Baldur's Gate, granting double the Level 1 spells instead of a Level 5,6,7 spell, if the player has memorized the maximum number of spells allowed by two rings in BG1 (20) they'll retain that memory in BG2 and go overslot with the spells. As with modifying the Rings of Wizardy themselves, this means the Level 1 spells can no longer be adjusted, but it also means the player effectively has 20 Magic Missile, Chromatic Orb, etc. instead of just 5.
Being able to spam Magic Missile in Throne of Bhaal becomes extremely powerful, when combined with items that reduce casting time, alacrity and time stop, it can be cast instantaneously, disrupting all moves an opponent will attempt (even walking) while inflicting upwards of 200 damage if there is no immunity or Magic Resistance.ny
Dimension Door Edit
Dimension Door is a cool if impractical spell in Baldur's Gate, as the player's version is limited to line-of-site (the NPC version is like a long-distance teleport). The spell was removed from Baldur's Gate II because it broke scripts in play testing, but it can be retained via the No Portrait Exploit where the player can teleport to line-of-site areas that are inaccessible by walking (such as the goblin pillars in Spellhold). The spell's value truly shines in the final battle at the Mana Forge, where a wizard is capable of teleporting onto any of the platforms around the forge and avoid the hordes of melee-only baatezu Melissan is constantly gating in.
The spell can still break scripts, possibly Yoshimo's (allowing him to remain with the party into Throne of Bhaal).
Summon Cacodemon, Summon Demon, Gate Edit
Gated demons provide experience, so they can be summoned and farmed for experience in a safe environment by players who know those spells.
Nishruu Infinite ChargesEdit
Be attacked by a Nishruu while possessing a weapon with a finite number of used charges, and the Nishruu warps the item to have near-infinite charges and allowing those weapons to be sold for millions of Gold. Especially useful with items like the Staff of Power, which are not once-per-day (which wipes the excess charges).
Stacking Bard Songs Edit
Equip Vhailor's Helm and Mislead scrolls on quick item slots, cast Simulacrum from Vhailor's Helm, cast Mislead scrolls from the Simulacrum image. When all sing bard songs together, the effects stack. Using this method, Enhanced Bard Song and Skald song are capable of granting 4 x the number of singers bonus to THAC0 and damage per hit for the entire party. (eg. 24 bonus if the number of singers is 6)
This exploit no longer works in Enhanced Editions.
Immune to physical damage Edit
Gain multiple Hardiness, each lowers damage from blunt, slashing and piercing damage from melee weapons and piercing damage from projectiles by 40% for one round for every two levels of the warrior. Hardiness stacks with itself, allowing warrior classes to gain 120% physical resistance or more, making them immune to physical damage and instead gain health from being attacked by physical attacks.
This exploit no longer works in Enhanced Editions.
The spreading effect of fire seeds bypasses the targets' immunities, when combined with Assassin's poison weapon or being thrown by Wizard Slayers, the corresponding status is much easier to penetrate the targets, especially useful when encountering mages.
Enhanced Editions nerfed Poison Weapon's lasting poison effect (from no-save to saving-throwable), making this method less effective.