Baldur's Gate: Epic Level Abilities
While epic level abilities do not come into play until Baldur's Gate 2, considering the end-game development of your party is critical if you are importing into Baldur's Gate 2.
General Ability Notes
Many abilities can be taken multiple times. When you take an ability more than once, it allows you to use the ability one more time per day. Single and multiclass characters gain epic abilities any time they level up when their total amount of experience points is 3,000,000 (3 Million) or above, regardless of the level associated with that number. Multiclass characters get to access BOTH of their classes' abilities. So, a Fighter/Thief would get to access both Hardiness and Use Any Item, for example. Dual-classed characters only have access to the abilities for their active class, and gain them only when they have 3 million experience points or more in their active class.
Warrior Epic Abilities
These are the epic level abilities for Fighters, Rangers, Paladins, Barbarians and Monks. Exceptions will be noted.
Effect: Gives you 10 attacks per round. These attacks incur a -4 THAC0 penalty. Lasts 1 round. Prerequisite for Improved Whirlwind Attack. May be taken multiple times.
Comments: A good, solid ability. You'll only take it once, though, since it unlocks an improved version of itself. Keep in mind the Swashbuckler thief kit takes this and Improved Whirlwind Attack instead of Assassination.
Improved Whirlwind Attack
Comments: This is one of the most powerful abilities that warriors can take. Note, however, that as you are only able to activate one ability per round, you should NOT attempt to pair this with other abilities that only last one round (Assassination in the case of Fighter/Thieves, for example).
Effect: Instantly slays any creature struck under level 10. Lasts 2 rounds. Prerequisite for Greater Deathblow. May be taken multiple times.
Comments: Very forgettable. If an enemy you're fighting is below level 10, it's no real threat anyway. Your Ability points are better spent elsewhere.
Comments: Again, there's really no enemy under level 12 that's any serious threat to you by the time you're epic level. Forgettable.
Comments: This has varying use. In a smaller party of only two or three characters, this ability is fairly forgettable. There's a lot of magic resistance equipment around, and getting up to 50% or higher is not terribly difficult. If your party is full, however, this skill becomes indispensible against the titantic magics you'll run up against in Throne of Bhaal. It doesn't last very long, but it can easily save your life. Note that this ability is not available to monks, who already have better magic resistance.
I find this ability absolutely essential for killing mindflayers from a distance with a ranged weapon. They can suck your brains even if you have protections up against psionics.
Effect: A struck opponent must save vs death at a -4 penalty or be stunned for 2 rounds. Ability stays active for 2 rounds. May be taken multiple times. Prerequisite for Critical Strike. May be taken multiple times.
Comments: This can be a godsend when you're trying to disable a priest or mage, but beyond that it's only passingly useful. Pick it up so you can get to Critical Strike, but don't take any extra levels.
Effect: All attacks for 1 round are natural 20 critical hits. Prerequisite for Smite. May be taken multiple times.
Comments: Note that because of the way Critical Strike makes your attacks crit, it also guarantees that your attacks will HIT, too. This is a great ability, and a wonderful trump card. It's guaranteed damage when an enemy needs to die NOW.
Comments: This is basically Critical Strike with a knockback added. The knockback is rarely useful, more commonly a novelty or an irritation.
Comments: Why in the world would you use an Ability point to give yourself what amounts to a level 2 Mage spell (Horror)? Absolutely worthless.
Effect: Grants +40% resistance to all forms of physical damage for 1 round per 2 levels of the warrior. May be taken multiple times.
Enhanced Edition: Does not stack with Dwarven Defender's Defensive Stance.
Comments: The damage resistance from Hardiness stacks with any other resistances you might have picked up. That, plus the relatively long duration of this ability, make it indispensible for the hardcore warrior. When in doubt of what ability to take, take Hardiness.
Rogue Epic Abilities
Both thieves and bards have access to the abilities in this section. Exceptions will be noted.
Comments: This is a murderously lethal trap that is one of the rogue's most powerful abilities. There are a number of monsters that can ignore damage by this trap, but many, many others that cannot. Just one of these things can kill most enemies in an eyeblink. Highly recommended; multiple Spike Traps per day never hurt anyone (save, of course, for people you hate).
Comments: This is basically a Delayed Blast Fireball that you can't set at a distance, except that it ignores Magic Resistance. It's still very useful, especially for shaking up large groups, but generally speaking it's often less useful than a Spike Trap. By no means a waste of an Ability selection, though.
Comments: The usefulness of a Time Trap varies wildly with the rogue that's using it. It is nice for getting behind a target so you can pop Assassination. Mage/Thieves can use this to great effect when paired with Improved Alacrity, and Fighter/Thieves can pop Improved Whirlwind Attack to go completely nuts on an enemy. Blade Bards, however, have arguably the best use for this trap. Going under the effects of Tenser's Transformation and popping an Offensive Spin with two weapons is one of the most damaging, if not THE most damaging tactics in the game. Keep in mind that many of the game's most difficult bosses are immune to time stop and this ability will work against you in those situations as it basically pits your thief against a powerful enemy for the duration of the effect.
Effect: The rogue gains a -4 bonus to AC and a -2 bonus to saving throws. Lasts 3 rounds. May be taken multiple times. Prerequisite for Improved Evasion.
Comments: Evasion helps, but there is no purpose in multiple ranks in the ability as you will be able to get Improved Evasion afterwards.
Comments: Far better than normal Evasion, Improved Evasion allows the rogue to get close to Fighter AC for a short time. It's useful for situations where your rogue is under attack by magics, or when he gets stuck in melee combat against a quick opponent. Swashbucklers using this ability or Blades combining this ability with Defensive Spin are next to untouchable.
Use Any Item
Effect: The rogue is able to use any item in the game regardless of class, alignment, or race restrictions but ability score restrictions remain in place. Permanent once taken. Prerequisite for Scribe Scrolls.
Comments: This is often thought to be the best ability in Baldur's Gate 2. Get it with your first Ability selection. This is incredibly useful for dual-classed thieves if their former class limited item usage (such as Kensai not being able to equip armor or gauntlets) and allows for some of the cheapest metagaming in the entire series.
Effect: Every attack in the next round will be a backstab, using the rogue's current backstab multiplier. May be taken once only, except for certain multiclass thieves (because of a bug fixed by the G3 BG2 Fixpack).
Comments: Note that you must still actually HIT the enemy, and this ability does not help your THAC0. If you can reliably hit an enemy, though, this ability is incredibly powerful. Recommended, especially for assassins. Note that Swashbucklers do not have access to this ability as they have no backstab modifier, but are able to take points in the warrior feat Whirlwind.
Comments: This ability is underwhelming for anyone using a cleric as they can simply cast the 4th level spell Death Ward. The extra HP are handy as is the extra save vs. death for ability that are not instant death (such as avoiding a ghoul's paralyzation) but that's about it. However, solo thieves or mage/thieves will probably want to take this ability a few times.
Comments: This is a nice bonus, but nothing too amazing. Many of the potions this ability produces are either common or not very useful. Still, with Bags of Holding and Potion Cases aplenty in the late game, there's no reason to not pick this up and make yourself a little bit more prepared for the worst.
Comments: Many of the scrolls this ability produces are pretty nice, including the always needed Invisibility and Monster Summoning scrolls. Still, you can come across many of these scrolls in shops very easily. Recommended over Alchemy, but not by much. If combined with a mage or bard, you could unlearn the spells you create with the scrolls and re-learn them to gain some bonus experience.
Divine Epic Abilities
These are the epic abilities for Druids and Clerics. Exceptions will be noted.
Arcane Epic Abilities
These are the epic level abilities for both Mages and Sorcerers. Exceptions will be noted.
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