Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Baldur's Gate series
- Baldur's Gate (1998)
- Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast (expansion pack, 1999)
- Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000)
- Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal (expansion pack, 2001)
The console title Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and its sequel are not often regarded as a part of the Baldur's Gate series, as the plot is unrelated to previous games, and they were never released (as was the original series) for Windows and Macintosh. See the Dark Alliance article for more details.
The Baldur's Gate series brought many technical advancements in computer-based role-playing games, such as the famous Infinity Engine. It was also the third computer game ever to make use of the Lua scripting language.
The western shore along the Sea of Swords contains a multitude of ecologies and terrain including mountains, forests, swamps, marshes, plains, cities, and ruins. Collectively called the Sword Coast, it attracts adventurers for good and evil alike, and provides the backdrop for this epic adventure. The region encompassed by this game is roughly bordered to the South by the Cloud Peaks, the East by the Wood of Sharp Teeth, the West by the Sea of Swords, and the North by Baldur's Gate (the largest and most affluent city in the region).
You are an orphan raised in Candlekeep, an ancient fortress-turned-library, south of Baldur's Gate and north of the kingdom of Amn and its capital, Athkatla, all on the Sword Coast. Your guardian is the mage Gorion, and your female friend, Imoen, has grown up with you since childhood. Strange things are afoot on the Sword Coast: iron production has virtually halted, metal already produced quickly crumbles, and bandits scour the countryside hunting iron over any other treasure. Strangest of all, there seem to be mercenaries after your life! Gorion knows what is going on, but will not tell you, and he decides to leave Candlekeep and journey to another hiding place where he will "explain everything". As soon as you set out, however, you are ambushed by a mysterious "armored figure" and his henchmen. The attacker instructs Gorion, "Hand over your ward and no one will be hurt," to which Gorion responds, "I would be a fool to trust your benevolence!" The resulting battle ends in Gorion's death, and you flee from the scene. You soon run into Imoen, who had secretly followed you after reading a note on Gorion's desk. She too saw Gorion's murder, and now insists on accompanying you.
You travel the countryside, equipping yourself and forming your party as you explore the countless areas such as towns, dungeons, mines, forests, castle ruins, and the city of Baldur's Gate. The main story involves you finding out who stands behind the iron conspiracy and confronting them, as well as finding out what Gorion didn't tell you about your ancestry and history. The Iron Throne, masterminded by the "armored figure", Sarevok, intends to control the Sword Coast by restricting the iron supply to its armies. Sarevok is also revealed to be the one behind your numerous assassination attempts. As you seek to confront him, you find out that he is actually your half-sibling, and you are both children of the god of murder, Bhaal. Your Bhaalspawn ancestry explains much about your past and raises questions about your future.
Sarevok's plans turn out be much more sinister, as the Iron Throne is just a fašade for his real intentions. Through manipulation of politics and resources, Sarevok plans to start a war between Baldur's Gate and Amn, causing enough carnage to transform him into the new god of murder.
The game is based upon a real-time modification of the AD&D (Advanced Dungeons and Dragons) ruleset. Your party consists of 1-6 members, either created by you according to the AD&D rules or NPCs recruited by you. Numerous side quests and plot twists are associated with particular NPCs and whether or not you have them in your party.
Through extensive, context-dependent dialogue, NPCs inside and outside your party are fleshed out as complex, interesting characters. Very good character and plot design and depth, excellent background art, and a well-made user interface provided by Bioware's Infinity Engine are the series' strong points.
Baldur's Gate Prominent NPCs
- Imoen: Human, Thief, Neutral Good. Your childhood friend and party companion, if you allow her to be.
- Minsc: Human, Ranger, Neutral Good. Minsc's companion Dynaheir was kidnapped by Gnolls and he wants your help in finding her. Minsc is somewhat mentally impaired, if good-natured, but he and his miniature giant space hamster Boo will provide you with endless entertainment. He is also a great fighter.
- Jaheira: Half-Elf, Fighter/Druid, True Neutral. Wife to Khalid, she is smart, bossy, and overly self-confident, she will complain if your reputation is too high(you've done good things) or if it is too low(you've done evil things).
- Khalid: Half-Elf, Fighter, Neutral Good. Jaheira's husband, he is almost Jaheira's polar opposite. They were Gorion's good friends and they await you at the Friendly Arm Inn when Gorion is killed.
- Xzar: Human, Necromancer, Chaotic Evil. He is among the first companions in your group albeit an uncomfortable partnership as his unpredictable and evil nature pervades the atmosphere in the group.
- Montaron: Halfling, Fighter/Thief, Neutral Evil. Xzar's closest friend and partner in crime. His boorish manners are somewhat expected although he seemed very devoted to his friend. Also known as 'Monty'.
- Branwen: Human, Cleric, True Neutral. The player would have to free her from stone in order to have her in the party with the 'Stone to Flesh' scroll. She is dependable and loyal to the group and is devoted to the God Tempus.
- Xan: Elf, Enchanter, Lawful Neutral. Pessimistic and depressed. Does little to influence the good-nature of the group with his negative comments but can be relied on during battles. Is equipped with the powerful 'Moonblade' sword.
- Garrick: Human, Bard, Chaotic Neutral. Jester with the most lively outlook on life and love. Can be likened to Yoshimo in the Shadows of Amn but with a more charismatic nature.
- Edwin: Human, Conjurer/Mage, Lawful Evil. Always insults the main character constantly. He is on a quest to kill Dynaheir, Minsc's companion.
- Quayle: Gnome, Cleric/Illusionist, Chaotic Neutral. A bad-tempered and proud gnome. Sarcastic in comments like Edwin but not more malicious.
- Safana: Human, Thief, Chaotic Neutral. She is a thief with a dark history first met in the Seawatcher Area. She can be considered the most sensual female character in the game with her comments and quotes.
- Tiax: Gnome, Cleric/Thief, Chaotic Evil. Gnome with unrealistic goals of world domination. Mentally suspect and highly critical of the player's actions although he would be more prone to be occupied with his singular habitual comments about ruling the world than take to note of the actions of the party.
Baldur's Gate selected credits
- Lead Design: James Ohlen
- Design: Rob Bartel, Ross Gardner, Scott Greig, Matt Horvath, Lukas Kristjanson, Ray Muzyka, James Ohlen
- Lead Programming: Scott Greig
- Graphics/3D Programming: Gilles Beauparlant
- Music/Sound Programming: John Winski
- Writing/Dialogue/Story: Rob Bartel, Matt Horvath, Lukas Kristjanson, James Ohlen
Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast
Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast is an expansion pack for Baldur's Gate which adds three bonus areas to the existing Baldur's Gate game map: Ulgoth's Beard, a pirate island, and Durlag's Tower. These areas allow additional side quests and exploration within the main story line.
An interesting facet of this expansion is that the characters have to deal with (relatively) powerful monsters - werewolves, greater werewolves, wolfweres and greater wolfweres, as well as the odd demonknight.
(A werewolf is human who polymorphs into a wolf, often retaining the bipedal stance; a wolfwere is a wolf that transforms into a quadrupedal human shape).
It must be remembered that, at this stage, the characters are, at best, of fairly middling levels - probably not in double figures.
Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn
Baldur's Gate II: The Shadows of Amn takes place just a few months after the events of Baldur's Gate. The player character wakes up alone in a cage, and soon discovers he or she has been stripped of all money and equipment, and made prisoner by a mysterious mage named Jon Irenicus.
However, as the mage prepares to perform more 'endurance' experiments on the player character, he is interrupted by a golem servant who reports a commotion in the upper levels of the dungeon, and is forced to depart as a band of thieves raid his underground complex. Not far off are old friends Imoen, Minsc and Jaheira. The main character are bandied together with those friends (if they so choose to remain as a group) and would have to seek their way out of the dungeon where they hope to escape the clutches of Irenicus. However, as they battled their way out, the grand 'City of Coin' Athkatla's marbled arches greet them as well as a furious battle being fought out between unidentified personnel in cloak and hood as well as Irenicus himself. Imoen grows agitated at the prospect of being captured by their captor again and casts a 'magic missile' spell, an error, as unlicensed magic is banned in Athkatla. The result is that Irenicus and Imoen are 'captured' by the powerful mage organization called the 'Cowled Wizards' and sent to be imprisoned in a distant detention center called 'Spellhold'.
The story progresses with the main player character seeking the release of Imoen as the primary objective although there are many other sub-quests which the player can undertake in order to garner invaluable experience points in order to upgrade their character stats as well as to gain more money to secure the passage to fight for Imoen's release.
All along the gameplay, the player has to make crucial choices, not all of them detrimental as they are vital in dictating the method as to how the story would unfold for the player. Briefly, the more important choices to make would be to work for vile shadow thieves or to work for a more secretive organization with a deeper vendetta towards bloodshed—vampires. Regardless of the choices, the player would have to turn on either of the rivalling factions rooted in the heart of Athkatla.
Shadows of Amn is different from the first installment as the player can also 'manage' an actual stronghold which depends solely on the selection of their character kit at the beginning of the game. For example, as a fighter class, the player may successfully complete the quest at Nalia's Keep and begin to take over the stronghold in their control. It is not much of macromanagement at this level, but adds an interesting segment to the game when constant fighting and spellcasting become too much of a routine. Similarly, a mage may take over a magical Planar Sphere, whereas a thief character may choose to manage the other branch of the thieves' guild in the Docks district.
As the game progresses, the player has the basic idea that his nemesis Irenicus would stop at nothing to realise his personal vendetta and many encounters along the way would pave way to betrayal and sudden realisation that the mage's dark history was a result of love and its many hidden detractors that could destroy the integrity of a greedy individual with an insatiable lust for power.
Baldur's Gate II Prominent NPCs
- Aerie: Avariel Elf, Cleric/Mage, Lawful Good. Aerie is a winged elf who was captured and mutilated by slave traders. If the player character is male, he may have a romance with Aerie.
- Anomen Delryn: Human, Fighter/Cleric, Lawful Neutral. Anomen is an acolyte of the Most Noble Order of the Radiant Heart. He is insufferably vain and constantly brags about battles he most likely never fought. If the player character is female, she may establish a romance with Anomen.
- Aran Linvail: Linvail is the secret master of the Shadow Thieves of Athkatla . He has his own personal plans of the player character if ever such an opportunity arises although he clearly would not hesitate to backstab those that stand in his way.
- Bodhi: A powerful vampire headquartered in the Athkatla graveyard district. She develops an interest in the player character during the hunt for Irenicus and offers to help... for a price.
- Imoen: (See above.) Troubled by torture and games played upon her by Irenicus, Imoen loses some of her zeal as it dawns on her she is a Bhaalspawn too. She remains a faithful companion to the player character however, and would be one of the fundamental characters in the overall plot outline.
- Joneleth Irenicus: Irenicus is an ambitious, vindictive mage and the chief antagonist of the game. As the adventure begins, the player character and what remains of his or her party from Baldur's Gate are held prisoner by Irenicus and must escape his dungeon.
- Jaheira: (See above.) If the player character is male, he may have a romance with Jaheira. In the 'Shadows of Amn', her character has seemed to mellow a little from the 1st instalment, possibly as a result of the strife and struggles that she encounters with her party members. She, however, still enjoys nothing better than to take authority in certain situations and it shows in her banter with other party members whom she perceives as naive and unschooled in the ways of the world.
- Jan Jansen: Gnome, Thief/Illusionist, Chaotic Neutral. Jan loves turnips. Like most gnomes he is very eccentric, and loves to ramble on with stories that never get to the points. He wants to steal Boo from Minsc, and if he ever succeeded, one would imagine he wouldn't live long after that. He could be found in the 'Government District' peddling his wares which in actuality are dangerous weapons in their own right.
- Keldorn Firecam: Human, Paladin, Lawful Good. He is the only Paladin in the game that can join the player's party. Like all other NPCs, he also has a sub-quest where the player character could voluntarily allow him to leave the party.
- Korgan: Dwarf, Battlerager, Chaotic Evil. He is considered one of the best fighters in the game, however he causes conflicts with Good-aligned party members. He has a quest involving obtaining the 'Book of Kaza' from the 'Graveyard District' and would follow the player character indefinitely after completing it.
- Saemon Havarian: An unctuous sea captain of dubious character, with a penchant for putting the player's party in danger and quickly scampering away when the situation gets desperate. Depending on the player's actions, Havarian may appear recurrently throughout the Shadows of Amn and Throne of Bhaal.
- Valygar Corthala: Human, Stalker, Neutral Good. Valygar's family has long lived in the shadow of magic. His own mother went mad with the power of it and was destroyed. Valygar wears his beliefs on the sleeve and always makes for interesting party interactions.
- Mazzy Fentan: Halfling, Fighter, Lawful Good. A brave fighter who wanted to be a Paladin, Mazzy Fentan and her Fentan Knights sally forth Amn from their town of Trademeet doing good deeds. Don't mention her height. She tends to get very sensitive over it. You rescue her from the clutches of the Shade Lord in the Temple Ruins near the Umar Hills.
- Minsc: (See above.) Found in Irenicus' dungeons along with Imoen and Jaheira.
- Solaufein: Drow Elf, Fighter/Mage, Neutral Good. Originally a minor character found in Ust'Natha, who assists you in your tasks there, Solaufein betrays his employers to help you as it turns out he is a worshipper of Eilistraee. A popular modification to the game can be downloaded from an independent site to add him to your party, where the player character may have a romance with Solaufein, regardless of gender.
- Viconia: Drow Elf, Cleric (of Shar, Neutral Evil. An old acquaintance of the player character, Viconia is on the run from persecution because of her race. She was caught by fanatics of Athkatla after blowing her cover as drow, a sworn enemy of the humans in Amn. She claims that she has no malicious intent but her captors refused her liberty. Whether or not she survives would depend on the player as she was to be burnt on the stake at the Government district. If the player character is male, he may have a romance with Viconia.
- Yoshimo: Human, Bounty Hunter, True Neutral. Yoshimo has a complicated story that gradually unravels before the player.
Several characters from the first game make a comeback, some of which as NPCs that can (re)join the player's party. These are Imoen, Minsc, Jaheira, Edwin and Viconia. Other NPCs appear only in sub-secondary roles, mostly to supply the player with quests. Because Baldur's Gate II doesn't check the status of these characters at the end of the first game, they appear even if they perished in the course of the previous adventure (often prompting the player character to ask: "Aren't you dead?"—which can be disconcerting, if they didn't die—or if they survived it presents the player with the opportunity to ask the ubiquitous "Can you remember me? etc." when the NPCs probably do not even have an inkling as to the player character's dark history.)
Selected NPCs making an appearance from Baldur's Gate I
- Edwin, Imoen, Jaheira, Minsc and Viconia: (See above).
- Xzar: The player would be able to meet him at the Docks district in Athkatla after returning the dying body of a friend of the Harpers. He has an unusual quest for the player involving his friend Montaron but can remember little else of the player.
- Xan: He will guide the player through a series of tutorials before the game proper. He will not make another appearance in the game other than his precious sword, the 'Moonblade' in the later part of the game.
- Khalid: First discovered in Irenicus' dungeon. Like most other BG I NPCs, his fate has been sealed and does not play an active part of the game although Jaheira clearly misses him.
- Quayle: He is still the same sarcastic gnome in the BG I game although he has doted upon an elf named Aerie who calls him 'Uncle Quayle' and has changed his proud and moody nature considerably. He claims that her innocent nature has made him more tolerant towards others and has embraced a good-natured outlook of life. He has a quest in the circus tent at Waukeen's Promenade at an early part of the game
- Garrick: He can be found in the Temple district of Athkatla attempting to woo his new beloved, the Lady Irlana near the Helm quarters. His efforts were assisted by a gnome named Cyrando who has a good head for love poetry but shies himself from the Lady as he thought himself inferior even though he loves her. Over a period of time, the player can notice the events of this romance as a 3rd party and can be amusing to watch.
- Safana: She can be found at the North Forest Area near the log cabin with her companion Coran.
- Tiax: He is a 'deviant' imprisoned at Spellhold and is still mentally unstable. The player can also temporarily 'team' up with him in the first encounter with Irenicus after the Spellhold dungeon trials.
Baldur's Gate II Selected credits
- Division Director: Feargus Urquhart (He also makes a cameo appearance in the game near the circus tent at Waukeen's Promenade)
- Senior Producer: Chris Parker
- Associate Producer: Douglas W. Avery
- Production: Ray Muzyka (Exec. Producer), Andrew Nobbs (Line Producer), Nathan Plewes (Line Producer), Ben Smedstad (Producer), Greg Zeschuk (Exec. Producer)
- Lead Designer: Kevin Martens, James Ohlen (Director of Writing and Design- BioWare)
- Core Design Team: David Gaider, Brent Knowles, Lukas Kristjanson, John Winski
- Lead Programming: Mark Darrah
- Music: Michael Hoenig (Metamusic Productions)
Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal
Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal is an expansion pack for Baldur's Gate II which adds one large optional bonus area to the game, Watcher's Keep. It also extends the main plot line to an epic conclusion.
The prophecy in Baldur's Gate told of a great "Time of Troubles," where the Bhaalspawn would destroy and murder to feed the God of Murder and bring about a new occupant of his Throne of Blood. Bhaalspawn fight, some to gain their Birthright, others to cast out the Evil God's essence and bring forth a new light of Balance, and some simply fight to survive.
War breaks out throughout Amn between the agitated Bhaalspawn who turn out to be numerous and fight each other for power. Five legendary Bhaalspawn, each so powerful that they are impervious to normal weapons, rise to power and notoriety, forcing the player character to defeat them either for Personal Glory or for the fate of Amn. The player comes a long way from his or her humble beginnings in Candlekeep. Ultimately, the player must vanquish all competitors and be presented with the choice of ascending the throne of Bhaal and becoming the new god of Murder, or destroying it and returning to peaceful life as a mortal. The Main Character may also ascend the throne of Bhaal and banish Bhaal's evil essence, becoming a deity dedicated to good and Righteousness.
The Five Bhaalspawn destroying Amn and attempting to fulfill the prophecy are:
- Illasera: A surprisingly weak Bhaalspawn with a lot of Bravado. She would be the first Bhaalspawn the player character would encounter in the ToB.
- Yaga-Shura: The Fire Giant besieging the city of Saradush with his army. He would be invulnerable but for a Achilles' heel in which the player character would sooner or later be led to solve in a series of quests which would involve destroying his heart to render him vulnerable but no less fearsome.
- Sendai: Drow Warrior/Cleric. The player character would not get the chance to draw swords against her immediately but must encounter wave after wave of attacks when plundering her lair.
- Abazigal: A Dragon of great power. The player character would first have to destroy his guardian Dragon outside his lair before setting up a meeting with him.
- Balthazar: A Good Monk of immense power, who feels the only way to destroy the curse of Bhaal is to become the Lord of Murder, and then end his own life.
The expansion disc adds Sarevok to the game, who is resurrected (albeit with none of his original divine essence) and may join the player's party. Other prominent NPCs are the magess Melissan who has a compelling story of her own and the imp Cespenar who can refer to his 'secret recipes' in order to forge wonderful weapons from special bits of items that the player collects along the journey. He claims that he is your private butler although there is a sneaky suspicion that he works for no one after Bhaal's demise.
The ability to modify the resources used by the engine underlying the PC Baldur's Gate games allows fans of the series to make their own homegrown additions to it. With the right tools, the game is relatively easy to modify. While some projects merely seek to enhance cosmetic attributes of the original games, others exist that improve the quality of the games by adding new characters, quests and alternate endings. A comprehensive list of mods is available. Some of the most ambitious and popular are:
- Ascension, a mod primarily written by BioWare staff member David Gaider. It changes the ending of Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, while increasing the difficulty of some encounters and providing a variety of bonuses. Gaider says Ascension is what Throne of Bhaal should have been like, if only the developers had more time to tinker with the game.
- Unfinished Business attempts to tie as many loose ends as possible by recreating and completing aspects of the game that were removed or left unfinished by the original developers in Shadows of Amn.
- BG1Tutu is an ambitious project which automatically converts the resources in a Baldur's Gate, or Baldur's Gate + TotSC install to the BGII engine.
- Redemption: The Longer Road is a mini-expansion that allows the player to incarnate Jon Irenicus, the tormented antagonist in Shadows of Amn.
- Kelsey and Solaufein are among the many popular mods which add romanceable NPCs to the game.
The Baldur's Gate novels
Philip Athans , editor of the Forgotten Realms novel line, wrote a trilogy of novels --- Baldur's Gate, Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, and Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal --- based on the storylines of the computer game series. The novels avoided quite a lot of the games' numerous subplots and only included a few of the NPCs. The Bhaalspawn main character is named Abdel Adrian in the novels. On the whole, these novels are compelling in order to introduce the basic story behind the City of Coin 'Athkatla' but ultimately readers should expect to read the novels as it presents itself and not grasp the mental picture of the events that may have unfold when playing the actual game itself.
- Baldur's Gate (1999; set 1368 DR; ISBN 0-7869-1525-0)
- Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000; set 1369 DR; ISBN 0-7869-1569-2)
- Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal (2001; set ? DR; ISBN 0-7869-2630-9)
- Bioware website
- RPG Codex (covers all CRPGs)
- Sorcerer's Place (extensive coverage of all (A)D&D CRPGs)
- Planet Baldur's Gate
- Moby Game's entry on Baldur's Gate
- Moby Game's entry on Baldur's Gate II
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