This guide is about how to get that achievement. For those who are somewhat familiar with the game, but trying LoB for the first time and getting pasted by enemies.
Ultimate Cheese Guide
Enemies have additional levels and a substantial thaco bonus, meaning they'll land their attacks almost every time. They also have a large AC bonus and crazy HP, so if you try to tank them with one of your characters they will almost certainly kill you before you kill them.Your summons however have many of the same bonuses that enemies do and will survive MUCH longer against them, making them the best tanks for LoB difficulty. I detail the various ways to summon in a separate section.
This essentially means the mage spells Web or Emotion: Hopelessness, possibly buffed by Greater Malison and/or the cleric spell Doom. Both of these spells will disable enemies if they don't make a saving throw, meaning they can't attack you and every attack against them will automatically hit. This makes killing enemies MUCH easier since with their high AC and HP it can take a while to kill stuff. This also makes the Spider's Bane and Ring of Free Action very useful since they will protect one character from Web and make it easier for you to kill enemies while they're disabled.
Physical Damage is King
Because of the insane HP that enemies have, mage spells that deal direct damage are almost useless. You'll empty your spellbook before killing a single enemy. You'll want to use your mages to disable enemies and summon tanks for you then use your heavy hitters to actually remove their HP.
Basically, unless you're trying to achieve an essential objective, you want to avoid enemies as much as possible. They're simply too much of a pain to kill. So turn on auto-pause for enemy sighted, and immediately run away when they come into view unless you specifically want to/need to kill them. Generally speaking enemies won't have a chance to become hostile and won't pursue if you immediately run away when they come into view.
Ways to Summon
Level 1 Options
Wand of Monster Summoning (Mages, Sorcerers, Bards)
This is the simplest, most ubiquitous way to summon monsters. It can even be obtained at level 1 with a bit of work, and can practically beat the game by itself. See my list of "Early Items & Gold" for how to acquire this.
Algernon's Cloak (Anyone)
Technically this isn't a summon, but it's easily obtainable at level 1 and you can use it to "charm" an enemy into fighting and acting as a tank for you. Again, see the section on "Early Items & Gold" for how to acquire this.
Shamanic Dance (Shaman)
Without items, this is one of the only ways to summon monsters at level 1. You can't use any other actions with it, which is a pain, but you continually replace your summons as they die, so is very good for LoB.
Summon Spirit Animal (Totemic Druid)
This, along with Shaman, are the only classes that can summon monsters at level 1 without items, and it scales very well with level, gaining immunity to normal weapons at level cap.
Arcane Spells (Mage, Sorcerer, Bard)
- Monster Summoning I - 3rd Circle (Mage - Level 5, Sorcerer - Level 6, Bard - Level 7).
- Monster Summoning II - 4th Circle (Mage - Level 7, Sorcerer - Level 8, Bard - Level 10).
- Monster Summoning III - 5th Circle (Mage - Level 9).
- Animate Dead - 5th Circle (Mage - Level 9 - Can't be cast by Illusionists).
Divine Spells (Druid, Shaman, Cleric)
- Animate Dead - 3rd Circle (Cleric - Level 5).
- Animal Summoning I - 4th Circle (Cleric, Druid - Level 7, Shaman - Level 8).
- Call Woodland Being - 4th Circle (Druid - Level 7, Shaman - Level 8).
- Animal Summoning II - 5th Circle (Druid - Level 9).
Early Items & Gold
This is meant to be a list of gold and items you can acquire at level 1 and either sell or use to make the rest of your playthrough easier. If you have any questions for any of these please follow the Dudleyville Baldur's Gate 1guide for that zone. The first few are very well known.
- Diamond - In the zone you start in right after leaving Candlekeep, in a tree right next to the road North of Xzan & Montaron.
- Ring of Protection +1 - The zone E of your starting zone, NE of where you enter, in a rock.
- Ring of Wizardry - In the zone of the Friendly Arm Inn, along the bottom, at the base of a pine tree.
- Red & Blue Potions - Can be purchased at the Nashkel Carnival, in the far South tent for 50g each and after being identified can be sold for 450g total.
- Angkheg Plate - Across the bridge on the far side of the fields in Nashkel. This is excellent starting armor for a warrior class, or can be sold for 4k+ gold. (There's also a pearl in the same location)
- Potion of Master Thievery - In the far West tent in the Nashkel Carnival a thief named Vitiare will approach you. Attack him at range before he can talk to you or he will escape. Drops the potion when he dies. If you have a thief or bard you can use this potion to steal Algernon's Cloak.
- Algernon's Cloak - You can pickpocket this from Algernon on the second floor of the Feldepost Inn. Otherwise just kill him and loot it from his corpse. You'll lose 5 reputation (if you have reputation 12 at least), which can be gained back by 2050g in donations to a temple.
- Scroll of Protection from Undead - Dryad falls, npc reaction of 15+. Talk to the girl near the waterfall then pick up her cat from the base of the falls and bring it back to her.
- Wand of Monster Summoning - In the zone East of the Nashkel carnival there is a tomb near the Eastern edge, just South of center that is guarded by some skeletons on the outside and some ghasts on the inside. You either need to sneak past them (Sanctuary for a Cleric or Protection from Undead scroll for anyone else), or bait them away or kill them so you can loot the sarcophagus for the wand. This cave also has a Chainmail +1, Potion of Frost Giant Strength, Pearl Necklace and a couple other minor things.
- Ring of Free Action - Pickpocketed from Dushai in Ulgoth's Beard (60 pickpocket skill required. Can be obtained with 20 base skill and a Potion of Master Thievery. Another potion can be purchased from Erdane outside of Durlag's tower) or looted from her corpse (with the same penalty as killing Algernon). She's not essential, but does offer some additional dialogue for a quest, so you might want to at least get that far before killing her if you go that route.
- The Tale of Captain Brage Quest - Can be done without combat and nets a nice 1000g.
- Bassilus Quest - If you choose the right dialog options all of his skeletons will die so you can fight him alone. With the Wand of Monster Summoning he's pretty easy at level one and nets a 5000g reward. You can also make several hundred from selling all the weapons of his skeletons.
- Scroll of Magic Protection - Gibberling Mountains
- Ring of Fire Protection, Star Sapphire - Gibberling Mountains
Character & Party Guide
Archer is the king of damage dealers in BG1, even outside LoB difficulty. Being an Elf gives them an extra 2 thaco; one from their racial trait and one from 19 dex. Then they have 2 more by level cap from the Archer bonus. Then they have the thaco bonus from both the bow and the arrow, and the same base thaco as fighters. Putting all this together means they have the best thaco and damage in the game. I literally recommend having 3-4 of them in your party, it will make killing things so much faster. Recommended Build: Elf Archer S:18/00, D-19, C-17, I-11, W-14, Ch-8 (18/00 Str isn't essential, but is useful when you come across those enemies immune to ranged attacks and you need to melee).
I only recommend Kensai if you're wanting to import them from BG1 to BG2 with extra stats. In BG1 they will do less damage than Archers, cost more for ranged ammo, and be harder to keep alive. The only magical, returning weapon in BG1 is an Axe, which is also the best magical returning weapon in BG2, so I highly recommend it. Single-Weapon proficiency, 18 dex, the shield amulet from the Nashkel Carnival, and potions of defense/invulnerability are recommended for keeping them alive. Improved Invisibility and other buffs can also help. Recommended Build: Really depends on whether you're planning to dual and what you will dual into.
Recommended because of their buffs and level 5 access to a great summoning spell, Animate Dead. They're also very useful at level 1 for their Sanctuary spell that let's them sneak through areas and acquire early items. See Recommended Build under Cleric / Mage.
If you don't have a mage or a bard in your party you're not doing it right. Without this you won't be able to use the Wand of Monster Summoning or disable enemies with Web, and will make your play through immensely harder. See Recommended Build under Cleric/Mage.
Cleric / Mage
The best of both worlds. Gives all the benefits of Clerics and Mages and since it combines both roles into one it leaves more slots for physical damage dealers. (Have I mentioned enemies have insane HP and can take forever to kill?) In my opinion this is probably the best Charname class for LoB difficulty. Recommended Build: Gnome Cleric / Illusionist S-18, D-18, C-17, I-18, W-17, Ch-3 (It can take a while to roll that. Sacrifice some strength if you don't have the patience for it. 17 Con is so you can use the Claw of Kasgaroth without losing any HP bonus once you have the Tome of Bodily Health).
When you have lots of physical damage dealers and multiple summons there's not much that can beat a Skald giving a 2 thaco, damage and AC bonus to all of your allies with Bard Song. Plus they can be your pickpocket for Algernon's Cloak and Ring of Free Action. Plus they give you additional Web and summons spells. Plus with their high minimum charisma and ability to cast Friends they can be your face character (move them to the first position in your party list). Plus with their high Lore stat they can identify most items by endgame. Plus they can use wands and scrolls. What's not to like? Recommended Build: Half-Elf Skald S-18, D-18, C-16, I-18, W-10, Ch-16 (Sacrifice Str and / or Cha if you don't have the patience to roll that).
Recommended Maximum Cheese Party
- Charname - Gnome Cleric / Illusionist.
- Half-Elf Skald.
- Elf Archer x4 (3 longbow, 1 shortbow).
Basilisk Exp Trick
East of Beregost is a temple. East of the temple is a zone called Mutamin's Garden, which has a large number of basilisks, along with the mage Mutamin and several smaller enemies. Just Northeast of where you enter the zone you will be approached by a ghoul named Korax, who will join you temporarily as an ally if you let him. He is immune to Petrification and can disable enemies on a successful attack, making it easy to kill them. This makes him ideal for being your tank for attacking all of the basilisks and Mutamin. Avoid the other smaller enemies if you can. The Lesser Basilisks give you 1400 exp, and the Greater Basilisks give you 7000. By clearing the zone you can basically get all of your characters to level 3 or 4, making the beginning of the game much easier. If you take too long Korax will eventually turn and attack you, but he's easy to kill.
One useful mechanic of Baldur's Gate is that if you petrify an enemy you immediately get the Exp for killing them. Then if you use a scroll of Stone to Flesh you can bring them back to life and kill them again for more exp. How to use this to farm Exp in Mutamin's Garden:
- Acquire Algernon's Cloak either by pickpocketing him or killing him.
- Use my Early Items & Gold section to acquire enough gold to purchase lots of scrolls of Stone to Flesh. There are 4 temples where they can be purchased in the early game: Next to the Friendly Arm Inn, Nashkel, East of Beregost and the winery in Gullykin, for a total of 72 scrolls.
- Enter the Mutamin's Garden zone, equip the cloak on a character and have a mage cast Protection from Petrification on them (I take this as a starting spell in character creation for my mage), or use a scroll.
- Take this character to the Southeast of where you enter the zone until you find a lone Lesser Basilisk.
- Use Algernon's Cloak to charm the basilisk. If you fail, either reload or exit the zone, rest and return and try again.
- Continue moving East and a bit South from the first basilisk with your character in front and the charmed basilisk following until you come across another group of basilisks, which should include 2 Lesser Basilisks and a Greater Basilisk.
- Leave your character out front to tank their petrify attacks and let your pet basilisk petrify each one in turn. As soon as you see the splash animation indicating that the Greater Basilisk was petrified tell your basilisk to move so he stops attacking it. If he successfully attacks it again while it's petrified it will die permanently. You can permanently kill off the two Lesser Basilisks.
- Now move both your character and your pet basilisk out of sight range of the petrified Greater Basilisk and save your game.
- Move your character back towards the Greater Basilisk and as soon as he comes into view (you should have auto-pause on enemy sighted turned on) use a scroll of Stone to Flesh to bring him back to life.
- As soon as he returns to life, tell your pet basilisk to attack him. Within a couple of hits (using their ranged attack) you should see the splash animation indicating that the Greater Basilisk was petrified and receive another 7000 exp. Immediately tell your basilisk to move back so you don't permanently kill it.
- Repeat steps 8-10 until all of your scrolls are gone. Refresh your Protection from Petrification as needed.
- Cross your fingers that Beamdog doesn't remove this mechanic.
Occasionally your basilisk will try to move toward the other one to melee it. Once this happens he will no longer use his petrify ability and you will need to leave the zone, rest and return and charm it again to get it to petrify again (or just reload from before he started to melee). Make sure you move him out of range of the other basilisk before you leave the zone to make sure he doesn't attack and kill it when you charm it. The Greater Basilisk will also occasionally move to melee you. If he does just kite him with your character until your pet basilisk petrifies him.
All told this can net you 500k exp, enough to get 3 characters to level cap, or a full party to around 85k each, basically level 7 or 8. At this point you have lots of options for spells and summons and your archers will actually be able to hit enemies fairly consistently even without Web disabling them. You can follow the Dudleyville guide[forgottenwars.com], or just progress the main quest now if you want.
I look forward to dedicating this section to all the cheesiest ways to beat bosses/difficult encounters on LoB difficulty. Unfortunately I don't have near enough experience with LoB to do an adequate job of this at the moment. I would very much appreciate help from more experienced players with this section. I'll absolutely credit the first person to send me any specific tactic that I include here. Otherwise, as I cheese fights and feel I have something relevant to offer I'll start filling this section in. Spamming summons and Web are considered standard tactics and will not be included here (and incidentally will probably also be adequate for most fights).