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Overview

Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal is an expansion to Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, expanding on the Baldur's Gate II story, and it's the last chapter in the Baldur's Gate series for the PC/Mac. It takes place on an entirely new map, located just south of the map in SoA. Most of the map is unaccessible in the SoA part of the game, with the exception of Watcher's Keep. That dungeon is added to the SoA map in addition to appearing on the ToB map, and can be accessed in the first part of the game - however, due to the way the dialogue interjections are coded, your party members will only comment on what they see in Watcher's Keep if you go there while playing the expansion part of the game. The expansion raises the level cap even further, adds a multitude of new and powerful items, weapons, and spells, and introduces new class-specific high level abilities. In addition, it adds the class of Wild Mage to the engine, allowing you to create a Wild Mage from the very start of SoA, and provides a new recruitable character: Sarevok.

The expansion is the first time in the series that being a Bhaalspawn is the protagonist's most defining characteristic. Every NPC's response to the party is based on the protagonist's identity as one of the Children of Bhaal, the entire premise of the expansion is the fate of the Bhaalspawn, and your character will experience events that bridge the mortal and the divine.

Plot

Throne of Bhaal takes place following the events in Shadows of Amn. Unrest has broken out amongst the Bhaalspawn plaguing the lands of Tethyr, each fighting to claim the throne of Bhaal and become the new God of Murder. Being one of the most powerful Bhaalspawn, the player's character is thrust in the middle of it all and forced to take on five of the most powerful, legendary Bhaalspawn before they fully rise to power. The player, however, has the choice of fighting for the sake of the people of Tethyr, or for their own evil ambitions to ascend the Throne of Bhaal and become the new God of Murder.

The expansion starts by a cluster of giant stone heads, which speak of prophecies regarding the Bhaalspawn. Immediately after that, there is a fight with a powerful Bhaalspawn named Illasera, who is one of The Five. When she is beaten, you (and any party members) are taken to a pocket plane of Hell, a small section of Bhaal's former realm that is now under your control. A solar, a powerful celestial being, awaits you there, and informs you that you are to be tested in that place. Once the solar leaves you to the first test, the ghost of Sarevok appears and forces you to use your divine essence (or Imoen's) to resurrect him. He is restored to life, but is no longer a Bhaalspawn, and can be recruited into your party.

Once you pass the first test, you are instructed to head to the city of Saradush, which is full of fleeing Bhaalspawn, under the control of the Bhaalspawn Gromnir, and under siege by Yaga-Shura, a fire giant Bhaalspawn. There is also a woman there named Melissan, who apparently offered refuge to all of the Bhaalspawn, and is responsible for them all gathering in the city. Your task is to find a way to end Yaga-Shura's siege before he destroys the city and every Bhaalspawn within. Melissan continues to be a part of the plot, at first through giving you information about The Five whom you must destroy, but in the later stages she becomes more directly involved. In the end, you must fight at the very throne of Bhaal.

Every time you destroy one of The Five, you are returned to your pocket plane and told that you are ready for another test. There are five tests in all before you are pronounced ready to fight for the throne.

Gameplay

The expansion can be played with a party that has completed Shadows of Amn, but it is also possible to start a new game and only play through the expansion. Like the previous game, Throne of Bhaal is a top-down RPG, using the 2nd edition of the AD&D Rules, but with a few tweaks and changes of its own.

The world map of Shadows of Amn lacked much of the flexibility and exploration options that were possible in Baldur's Gate, and Throne of Bhaal is even more so. With the exception of visiting Watcher's Keep, a few smaller quests in the city of Amkethran, and the choice between which of two members of The Five you go after first, the order of gameplay is very rigid. Maps are unlocked only as Melissan informs you about them, and the progression of the plot will lock some maps from returning. Travel is, as usual, mostly by foot, but there are some instances where the pocket plane will aid you in traveling from place to place. You are able to travel to and from the pocket plane at will, and even when it doesn't give you a travel benefit, it does provide a safe spot to rest, and your imp butler, Cespenar, can upgrade some of your items there. The pocket plane is also home to the summoning statues, which can be used to summon almost any playable character from Shadows of Amn as a party member. This mechanism allows the use of characters that were not in the final party in SoA, and also allows the use of a full party in a game that is started in the expansion.

One of the features of the expansion is the addition of High Level Abilities. These evolved from some planned additional Bhaalspawn powers into abilities that are given to every character in the party as they level up. The abilities vary from class to class, and the player gets to choose from a list of abilities. Some can only be chosen once, such as a Mage's ability to memorize an extra level 7 spell, or they can be chosen multiple times, such as a Fighter's Greater Whirlwind ability.

The romances from Shadows of Amn continue into the expansion, and the final status of a romance will affect the romanced character's epilogue, but otherwise, most of your party members will not have any associated quests. Sarevok, and a romanced Viconia, may come to change their alignments through dialogues with the protagonist.

Locations

  • The Pocket Plane
  • Saradush
  • Watcher's Keep
  • The Oasis
  • The Marching Mountains
  • Amkethran
  • Abazigal's Lair
  • Sendai's Enclave
  • The Throne of Bhaal

Availability

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.

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