You wake up in a cell, with no memory of how you got there or where you are. A dark figure approaches you. He talks about experiments and torments you with his magic, but is distracted by an attack on his dungeon, and leaves. You lose consciousness again. When you wake once more, you have the opportunity to escape your cell. You find some old friends and make your way out of the dungeon. However, immediately upon leaving the dark confines below, you are attacked by your captor, Irenicus, and he and your oldest friend Imoen are taken away by the Cowled Wizards of Amn. You must then set off to rescue your friend, battling monsters, dragons, and many vile humans on the way.
Based on the 2nd edition AD&D role playing system, your hero in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn can be created from the classes of Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Mage, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Sorcerer and Thief, with further options within each class and multi-classing between. Each class also has the opportunity to control their own stronghold, with the location being suitable for the class. You control a party of up to six characters, which you can add or remove as you meet new people throughout the game. Some of these characters, such as Imoen, Minsc, Jaheira, Edwin, and Viconia, will be familiar to those who have played Baldur's Gate, but there are also many new heroes that can join you. Each character has their own sub-quest and their own dialogue interactions, which adds interest to the game and encourages a dynamic adventuring party.
The game also has a multiplayer option, which allows up to six people to adventure together, each controlling one character within the party. The option to "Pause and play" is still available in multiplayer, although all players are required to read conversations even if they are not the person who initiated it. However, one person needs to be the protagonist for the sake of the core plot.
Baldur's Gate II had one expansion named Throne of Bhaal.
Classes and Kits
Baldur's Gate II has all of the character classes of Baldur's Gate, and adds three new ones:
- Monks - Lawful warriors that prefer to fight with their bare hands.
- Barbarians - Tough, fast fighters with the ability to Rage.
- Sorcerers - Wizard who cast spells without memorizing them but are unable to scribe new spellscrolls.
In addition to these new classes, the old classes can be specialized through the use of kits. Mages still have their specialization, and the other classes get three kits each, with opportunities to pick new abilities at the cost of losing some of the skills and abilities of the standard class.
- Fighters can be Berserkers, Kensai, or Wizard Slayers
- Clerics can be specialist priests of Lathander, Helm, or Talos.
- Thieves can be Bounty Hunters, Swashbucklers, or Assassins.
- Bards can be Blades with better fighting abilites, Skalds with rousing songs, or Jesters with songs that confuse the enemy.
- Druids can be Totemic Druids with spirit animals, Shapeshifters who can become werewolves, or Avengers with extra shapeshifting abilities and some mage spells.
- Rangers can be Archers, Beast Masters, or Stalkers.
- Paladins can be Cavaliers, Inquisitors, or Undead Hunters.
Baldur's Gate 2 features an impressive number of locations for players to visit - many places never before seen in a CRPG adaptation of the Forgotten Realms. These locations include:
- Athkatla - The capital of Amn is the main city in BG2. It is divided into eight districts:
- Waukeen's Promenade - First location after Irenicus' dungeon and home to numerous shops
- The Slums - Home to the Copper Coronet and the Planar Sphere
- The Temple District - Home to the churches, the Order of the Radiant Heart, and the sewer entrances
- The Docks - The Shadow Thieves' main domain
- The Bridge - An area plagued by a horrific murderer and home to the Five Flagons
- The Graveyard - Bodhi's base lies amidst a number of tombs
- The Government District - Government buildings and the homes of nobles surround a lush green park
- The City Gates - A small area that must be visited before the party can leave the city. Home to the Crooked Crane
- de'Arnise Keep - A run down castle owned by the NPC Nalia de'Arnise's father.
- Windspear Hills - A mostly barren zone, home to Baron Jierdan Firkraag's dungeon.
- Umar Hills - A small village with an inordinate amount of associated quests.
- Trademeet - A small trading hub for Amn, a town with some affluence but many problems - the PC has plenty to do here.
- Brynnlaw - A small island with a port town that has been taken over by pirates.
- Spellhold - The secret prison for 'deviants' with Mage powers. It is a massive building that looms from the highest cliffs of Brynnlaw.
- The Underdark - The player must roam the dark tunnels of the Underdark, battling Mindflayers, Dark Elves, and more.
- Ust Natha - A Dark Elf city in the Underdark
- Suldanessellar - The player gets to travel to the Elven city in the trees, where you assist Queen Ellesime and the rest of the city against a devastating attack.
- Forest of Tethyr - A small trip through one of Faerun's landmark forests.
During most of the game, the Copper Coronet in the Slums district in Athkatla will serve as a kind of default base location. It is an inn with one or two equipment vendors, and it is the location that most of your party members will return to if they are dismissed. However, it is possible for the player to acquire a separate base location, a Stronghold. This is a location that is described as the property of the player. Many of the Strongholds offer additional income at fixed intervals, they all offer a safe place to sleep (without having to pay an innkeeper), and they all have separate quests associated with them. The Strongholds are unique for each class, and a dual-classed or multi-classed character must choose which of the possible Strongholds to acquire - once a Stronghold is acquired, the player will not be offered the second (or third) one. There are, of course, mods that will allow a player to acquire multiple Strongholds, as well as mods that will let the other party members acquire the strongholds instead.
- Fighter/Barbarian/Monk: de'Arnise Keep - Once the quest to assist Nalia in clearing her home of trolls is completed, she will ask a Fighter, Barbarian or Monk class player to take over management of the keep for her in order to prevent it from falling into the hands of the Roenall family. If the player refuses, Nalia will leave the party; if the player accepts, you gain ownership of the keep, which becomes outfitted with servants, farmers, and a majordomo who will manage the day-to-day activities for you. The keep will gain a weekly income, which can be collected from a chest within the keep. Through interacting with the majordomo, you will have to decide on repairs, difficulties with the staff, whether or not to raise taxes, and how to deal with the Roenalls when they come knocking. As a good master, you will be respected by your people, but as a poor master, they will despise you and eventually revolt against you. If this happens, you will lose control of the keep.
- Mage/Sorcerer: The Planar Sphere - Once Valygar's quest with the Planar Sphere is completed, he will offer it to a Mage or Sorcerer player (it will also become the player's if Valygar is dead). You will be able to use the Sphere as your base, and can gain an alliance with the Cowled Wizards. They will give you a class of apprentices to instruct in the arcane arts. These apprentices can create magical items for you, at the risk of their own deaths if they try to create items that are too difficult for them. Once they have tried to create three different items, any survivors will graduate. If all survive, you will get a bonus from the Cowled wizards; if all die, you will be scolded. Later, one of your apprentices may return and offer to create potions for you.
- Cleric/Monk: Membership in a Temple - The cleric Stronghold is determined either by alignment alone - Good clerics can gain membership in the Temple of Lathander, Neutral clerics in the Temple of Helm, and Evil clerics in the Temple of Talos - or by having one of the three cleric kits. The Temple will first offer the Unseeing Eye quest; when this is completed, the Temple will offer membership to the player. There are no adverse consequences for refusing. As an acolyte in the temple, you gain a room inside (and thus may rest within the temple) and will be called upon every few days to pass judgement upon matters concerning commoners that apply to the Temple for guidance. If your advice is not consistent with that of the Temple you are in, you may be dismissed from the temple - a Lathanderite is good and kind in judgement, a Helmite will strictly follow the law, and a Talosian will opt for the cruelest, harshest path. The Cleric stronghold is also available for Monks.
- Thief: Mae'Var's Guildhouse - Once Mae'Var has been exposed and dealt with, Renal Bloodscalp of the Shadow Thieves will offer a Thief player the ownership of Mae'Var's guildhouse. There are no adverse consequences for refusing. If the player accepts, you become the manager of a smaller unit of Shadow Thieves. You decide which heists your thieves are to attempt, always having to balance the chance of gold against the risk of capture, and you have to pay a cut of your earnings to Renal Bloodscalp every tenday. The earnings are collected inside a chest within the Guildhouse. Poor management of your group of thieves will lead to Renal Bloodscalp taking the Guildhouse from you.
- Bard: Theater beneath Five Flagons - After first rescuing Haer'Dalis from captivity in the sewers and then rescuing him and his troupe from the Planar Prison, a Bard player will be offered management of the theater. A director will help you manage the place and stage a play, and every few days, you will be called upon to help with such decisions as which actresses to cast and how much gold to put into the play. You will also have to manage actors' disputes, missing musicians, and other small problems before your play's Opening Night. After Opening Night, you can either continue running the playhouse, or you can sell it to your director.
- Ranger: Merella's Cabin - After clearing the Shadowed Temple, Minister Lloyd of Umar Hills will ask a Ranger player to become the village's Ranger Protector. Accepting will give you ownership of Merella's Cabin, which can serve as a base for you. Every few days, you will learn of problems or disturbances you need to deal with, culminating in the return of the infamous Umar Witch. Many of these quests, and the rewards for completing them, are gained through talking with a Druid Spirit.
- Druid: The Druid Grove - After Faldorn has been Challenged and dealt with, a Druid player who sleeps within the grove will be visited by the Spirit of the Grove, who charges you to seek out and destroy a particular troll, after which the Spirit will reward you with a weapon. If the player sleeps within the grove again about a tenday later, the Spirit will offer the quest to save a special child in Trademeet from the evil spirits that seek to destroy him. Official ownership of the grove can be attained once the druid player is level 14. It is then possible to Challenge for ownership of the grove; if victorious, the player will gain the title of Great Druid.
- Paladin: Membership in the Order - Once Garren's child has been rescued from Firkraag in the Windspear Hills, a Paladin player will be offered membership in the Order of the Most Radiant Heart (the same Knight order as Keldorn and possibly Anomen). You will be granted a room in the Order's headquarters to use for resting and storing equipment, and you will be tasked with performing missions for the Order - all of which *must* be performed in a timely fashion, or you will fail! Your first task will be to rescue a group of paladins in the Umar Hills, then to negotiate between a baron and some squatters, also in the Umar Hills. Finally, you must guard a girl in a house in the Docks district, and deliver her into the care of her uncle. An imposter might show up instead of the uncle; the truth is discovered through the use of the quintessential paladin spell Detect Evil. Once that quest is performed to the Order's satisfaction, you will be awarded a grand suit of armor.
In addition to recurring characters from Baldur's Gate, a number of new characters are available.
- Imoen - She is now a Thief/Mage, and was captured along with you. Much of the plot revolves around rescuing her from Spellhold.
- Jaheira - The Half-elf Fighter/Druid returns without her husband, Khalid, who is found slain in Irenicus's dungeon.
- Minsc - The lovable Boo-wielding Ranger is in the starting dungeon along with you.
- Edwin - The Evil Conjurer from Baldur's Gate is working for the Shadow Thieves in Athkatla when you meet.
- Viconia - The Dark Elf Cleric returns, and is, once again, in deep trouble when you meet her.
- Yoshimo - The Human Bounty Hunter you meet in Irenicus's dungeon ends up being a major figure in your quest.
- Aerie - An Avariel elf who has lost her wings, you can recruit this Mage/Cleric after you save the circus she belongs to from disaster.
- Anomen - An arrogant, troubled nobleman who is on a quest for knighthood - your dialogue choices will make him or break him.
- Nalia - A Human Thief/Mage who needs help to save her home from an unnamed enemy.
- Korgan - An evil mercenary Dwarf Fighter.
- Haer'Dalis - This Tiefling Bard is a plane-walking Doomguard from the city of Sigil.
- Jan - A Gnome Mage/Illusionist and inventor who talks way, way, way too much.
- Keldorn - An old noble Paladin of the Order of the Radiant Heart.
- Cernd - A Human Druid on a quest to right the wrongs that plague the druid grove near Trademeet.
- Mazzy - A Halfling Fighter who yearns to be a Paladin.
- Valygar - A Ranger with a cursed heritage.
Other Important Characters
- Jon Irenicus - The main antagonist throughout the game. His capturing and experimenting upon you are just the beginning of his sinister plans.
- Bodhi - Head of a group of vampires in Athkatla and sister of Irenicus, she offers you the means to reach Spellhold and find both Irenicus and Imoen. Her own agenda is not revealed fully until later.
- Aran Linvail - The leader of the Shadow Thieves in Athkatla. He offers to take you to Spellhold - at a price.
- Ellesime - Queen of the Elven city of Suldanessellar and daughter of the Elven god Rilifane, she is connected to Irenicus both in the past and in the present.
- Elminster - Once again, the old Wizard gets his cameos in the Baldur's Gate series, and appears in disguise to advise you and Jaheira at certain points in her quest.
- Drizzt Do'Urden - He has also gets a recurring cameo in this series, but this time, he brings all his friends. You will encounter his group on your way to a pivotal battle, and may recruit them to fight by your side (but not in your group).
- Phaere Despana - Daughter of the Matron Mother Ardulace Despana, you become her hireling in the Dark Elf city of Ust Natha, and get the chance to work both for her and against her.
Baldur's Gate II's music was composed by series veteran Michael Hoenig.
Jon Battle and Peace
Galean Bayle Sailing
The Pirate's Isle
The Domain of the Dragon
Jon Irenicas Encounter Theme
Forest Battle I
Forest Battle II
Plains Battle I
Plains Battle II
Mountain Battle I
Mountain Battle II
City Battle I
City Battle II
Nighttime in the Docks
The Planar Sphere
The Druid Grove
Amongst the Sahuagin
Original System Requirements
- Windows 95/98
- Pentium II 233MHz Processor
- 32MB RAM
- 800MB Hard Disk Space (1.2 GB for full installation)
- 4MB Video Card
- DirectX 7
On November 15, 2010 GoG.com released Baldur's Gate II Complete, a version of the game including both Shadows of Amn and the expansion Throne of Bhaal made to be compatible with modern operating systems, for the price of $9.99 US.