These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: Baldur's Gate
Abandon Shipping: Not gonna stop everyone, but any amorous ideas you may have had about Imoen in the first game are likely to get shot down in the sequel. Technically, it's possible you have no true genetic relation, as Bhaal seems to have used a lot of avatars to produce all his offspring (otherwise there wouldn't be any pureblood races available besides human), so it's quite possible he had multiple human avatars. It didn't stop two Imoen romance mods from being made.
Beyond merely finding Aerie annoyingly whiny, the most extreme opinion believes that she says all her apparently caring lines just to appear sweet, that her comments about how miserable it is to be stuck on the ground indicate she looks down on everyone else, that her real personality is only revealed the few times she loses her nerve and gets mad, and so on. It doesn't help matters that she's the only one of the three canon Romance Sidequests for male players to attack Jaheira over her dead husband if they should be fighting over the player.
Bodhi too. Is she a simple-minded monster, tunnel visioned on getting her next fix of blood and carnage, or a surprisingly lucid killer whose machinations are solely responsible for the systematic downfall of an underworld organization that dwarfs her own?
Like most of the cast, Mazzy has quite a tragic backstory, but despite seeing her former adventuring companions turned into horrid undead monsters, and feeling responsible for their deaths, she's remarkably un-angsty about it.
Also, Sarevok. His backstory is arguably more tragic than CHARNAME's, essentially living as an outcast and with no positive role models (such as Gorion) to guide him through it. The only hints we get of it are through a (curt) biography and the input of other characters.
Bizarro Episode: Despite having several interesting plot threads, Tales of the Sword Coast ultimately has no impact on the overall plot.
Breather Boss: Winski's Cambion in the first game. After a dungeon full of Demonic Spiders and deathtraps, facing a boss whose only tactic is simply to charge into melee combat is surprisingly refreshing.
Canon Defilement: The novels. Dear god, the novels. It'd be easier to make a list of what they get right then what they got wrong.
Jon Irenicus of Shadows Of Amn introduced himself by putting the hero and his sister through Cold-Blooded Torture, having already murdered one of their companions and dissected the other in his experiments. An inspection of his lair reveals twisted abominations he has created, living in endless agony, and a host of Dryads he has kept enslaved as his concubines. Irenicus forces the hero to awaken his power as a child of the dead god Bhaal so Irenicus can steal his soul, powering his magic with the souls of luckless captives who he states have no purpose but to die by his hand. It is revealed Irenicus was one an elf named Jonoleth who attempted to seize power by usurping a God of the elven Pantheon and killing their tree of life, for which he and his sister were stripped of their souls and banished. Irenicus tries to repeat the same action, and when confronted by his former lover, the Elven Queen Ellesime, Irenicus says he no longer remembers their love, and he feels nothing. He is only 'Irenicus,' meaning 'Shattered One,' and all he desires is power and vengeance.
Neb the Child Killer. His titlealone shouldsay it all. Not only that, but if you try to fight him in 2, then he'll summon the ghosts of his victims and force them to fight you.
Crazy Awesome: Minsc, a heroic version of the Psychopathic Manchild who loves children, believes his pet hamster talks to him and instructs him on what to do, and relishes flying into berserker rages so he can chop people apart and imprint his bootprints to the buttocks of evildoers. FOR JUSTICE!!
Also Korgan. Especially in the epilogue, where he murders a dwarven clan-leader, seizes control of the clan by blaming it on the drow, and leads them to a bloody crusade that ends up with him committing suicide to crush an entire cavern's worth of drow.
Beholders and Mind Flayers. They're both extremely dangerous as Beholders can bombard you with highly destructive spells and Mind Flayers can stun you and eat your brain (if your INT score reaches 0, you instantly die). To make matters worse, they're often in groups.
Umber Hulks also fit into this category, as despite having an easily exploited Weaksauce Weakness they are exceedingly fast and their ability to stun targets at a distance can easily cripple a party if you're unlucky, low-level or ill-prepared.
Sirines who cast dire charm and cause chaos in the party. To make matters worse, they also shoot arrows of biting. Plus, they love to stick in groups with their Sirine Queen. Not fun at all.
Vampires. Especially those in Athkatla's streets if you haven't bought magic licence by the Cowled Wizards. They can level drain you unless you're protected by spells or items and can Mind Control you.
Hell, any undead with the Level Drain ability.
Liches. They have a lot of protective spells at their disposal and can and will bombard you with spells.
For that matter, any sufficiently high-level mage, unless you manage to dispel his weapon protections quickly.
Die for Our Ship: Due to the novelizations, Jaheira is the canonical love interest of the hero, but lots of players prefer Aerie or Viconia, so she draws some hate for it. Others would never dream of thinking the moron in the novels is this Jaheira or that they can be thought to be in the same canon as the game.
Imoen, in sort of an inversion of a Creator's Pet. The writers never seemed particularly fond of her, and in fact wanted to kill her off in the second game, but she was so popular with fans they reconsidered.
Minsc is probably the most popular character in the series, all things considered.
Quite a few people were disappointed Xan didn't make it into the sequel. He makes the most of his screen time in the tutorial, where — judging by his delivery — he seems to find teaching the basics of magic to CHARNAME incredibly tedious.
People wanted Xan in the game so much, two different mods were made to add him in.
Paladins tend not to be particularly popular characters in these types of stories, being cartoonishly uptight, cardboard Knights In Shining Armor most of the time, but lots of players feel Keldorn's an extremely well-written character who retains the essence of the character type while subverting the flatter and more stereotypical aspects of it. Gods bless the Video Game Caring Potential. And now there are even mods making him a possible romance option!
Lilarcor isn't even an NPC. He's a flavor weapon that gained so much popularity that the fans treated him as a core party member and created mods which let him interact with the world around him. There's even a mod out for The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind which lets you use him.
The Spectator Beholder. A non-evil Beholder is bound to get attention.
Viconia because (1) Evil Is Sexy and (2) being the game's best healer.
Neera is probably the most popular of the new NPCs.
Even Better Sequel: For many, Baldur's Gate II is far and away one of the most uncontested examples of this trope, improving upon almost every conceivable facet of what was already considered great.
The "Enhanced Edition" earns a lot of favor for, among other things, reworking the first game to be like the second.
Evil Is Cool: Sarevok and Irenicus are widely considered to be among the coolest characters in the series.
Assassin's poisons if you use them in ways the developers probably didn't intend for you to.
Is your character a mage? With even halfway decent stats? Then you've got dozens of ways to break the game.
Cloudkill and similar Area of Effect spells. You can cast them near enemies and run away. If they don't see you through the Fog of War, they will likely just stand there and die. You can easily kill Firkraag the dragon with this trick.
The Animate Dead spell once its caster reaches level 15. The large skeleton summoned at this level is very powerful, has a ton of hit points and is immune to almost any sort of magic cast at it. Additionally, it will willingly auto-navigate through fog of war to seek out and kill enemies you can't see and can take out packs of beholders on its own without putting your own neck out.
Inexperienced players sometimes underrate Aerie as a mage because she doesn't gain access to the most powerful arcane spells, but the ability to use divine as well as arcane spells with power-amplifying setups like Sequencers and Contingencies more than makes up for it if you know what you're doing. Although, being a multi-class, she won't actually level up enough to get Sequencers until very late in the game.
The Mace of Disruption has a good chance of instantly killing any undead enemy it hits. Even if it's a lich. Even if that lich is Kangaxx.
The combination of the 9th level spell Chain Contingency and three Abi Dhalzim's Horrid Wiltings, set to cast at the nearest enemy on sight. This is capable of doing 250 damage to the target, which will easily kill any non-boss enemy, and works horrifyingly well against some of the most powerful bosses in the game, including Draconis and Demogorgon.
A high enough Turn Undead ability can kill nearly every undead, even vampires.
It's only possible if you're playing the second game or the Updated Re Release, but: human dual-classed Kensai/Mage. All of the hitpoints and combat prowess of the Fighter, the Mage's ability to cast devastating arcane spells (as mentioned above), with the added abilities of higher THAC0, damage and attack speed in melee, as well as the ability to use a "Kai" that causes hits to deal maximum damage while it lasts. All this at the cost of giving up armor, which a Fighter/Mage can't use anyway.
The "talk-fight" bug. Keep trying to initiate dialogue with a non-hostile character without ever actually talking to them and they won't go hostile... even as the remaining five members of the party are tearing them a new one. Only works on some very specific characters, however. This bug can also be used on certain quest characters, allowing for multiple quest reward returns (mainly XP).
Another bug can have you have an absurd amount of gems. You can use this bug to sell the gems as early as Chapter 2, making you filthy rich.
Due to an oversight, multiclassed Ranger/Clerics receive all available priest spells instead of just the ones they're supposed to.
Striking enemies with the Rod of Terror a.k.a. "The Ugly Stick" has a chance to lower your charisma permanently by one and can kill you via charisma drain. However, if you don the Ring of Human Influence, which sets one's charisma to exactly 18, when your charisma is one and then lose another point it causes the charisma stat to wrap back around from 1 to 25. Upon removing the ring you're suddenly the most likable person in Faerun.
Because of an error in the way Dual-Classing was coded, Yoshimo is able to set an infinite number of traps without resting. Since traps were already overpowered to begin with, this makes him, needless to say, ridiculously powerful.
More than any other character, Haer'Dalis benefits from equipping the Ring of Free Action. Since powerful abilities that root the user to the spot (such as his defensive spin) were coded in the same way movement-restricting status effects were, he can move around while in defensive spin if he's wearing it.
Some shopkeepers might sell you items for less than they'd buy. You can thus buy and sell the same goods over and over until you're filthy rich.
Ho Yay: Particularly in the second game, there's a certain... subtext... to the things Xzar says about Montaron, despite his stated dislike for him.
Internet Backdraft: Try to defend, or in some case even mention, the novels on an Infinity Engine fansite and see how far that gets you. This can reach levels of The Scottish Trope for some of the most reactive communities.
The fact that the Player Character is a child of the dead murder god Bhaal was a fairly major twist in the original game. In the sequel it is revealed right away in the intro, and since the sequel ended up being one of the most beloved games of all time it is now common knowledge even among people who haven't played the games.
Jerkass Woobie: Viconia is a huge jerk towards encounters and companions alike (not to mention Aerie), but she's often harassed herself, mostly because she's a drow and not because of her attitude.
Magnificent Bastard: Solaufein. A rouge drow who have kept his true allegiance a secret for many years. Not only that, but he also give an epic f-you to Phaere near the end of the quest line which is truly something to behold.
Magnum Opus: Baldur's Gate II is still considered a milestone of the genre and BioWare's high point.
"You must gather your party before venturing forth."
Moral Event Horizon: Irenicus attempting to enter the elven pantheon is treated as this In-Universe. What the elves did to punish him for it (stealing his soul) is pretty dark too.
Played with with Sarevok. While he waged a war from the shadows that resulted in countless innocent deaths, all to cause enough havoc and chaos to become the new Lord of Murder, many players treat his killing of Gorion (whom Sarevok didn't want to kill in the first place; in fact, he wanted a bloodless encounter with him) as his most visible crossing of the moral event horizon. Sarevok himself sees it as more doing what had to be done, since Gorion wouldn't back down.
"You must gather your party before venturing forth. You must gather your party before venturing forth. You must..."
GET ME. OUT OF THIS. HELL. HOLE!
This was sufficiently annoying to repeat players that there's a hack to remove the "You must gather your party" noise, incorporated into the BG2 Tweak Pack.
Fridge Logic makes it worse when you realize it's the same guy who killed Gorion. Why are you taking orders from him again? Maybe it's because you have been waylaid by enemies and must defend yourself. you have been waylaid by enemies and must defend yourself. you have been waylaid by enemies and must...
"So I kicked him in the head until he was dead! Nwa ha ha!" Bad enough on its own, it gets even worse when you run into half-a-dozen bandits at once, and EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM uses that as his Battle Cry.
Because party members' situational lines will usually be heard several times during a run, some specific NPCs have these too, such as Aerie complaining about how her legs hurt when she's tired or Nalia's voiced concern that the party's dungeon crawling isn't helping the "less fortunate." Nalia will say this when you're fighting the trolls at d'Arnise Keep. When she's the whole reason you're there and she has no reason to complain because you're trying to save her family.
Player Punch: In Baldur's Gate II, Irenicus lands a barrage of Player Punches before you even escape the first dungeon — torturing both the PC and Imoen, killing former playable characters Khalid and Dynaheir off-screen, and abducting Imoen when you escape. Several more follow at intervals throughout the game, from both Irenicus himself and his lieutenant Bodhi. By the time the player finally has an opportunity to kill them, it's very satisfying to do so.
The Scrappy: Khalid, along with Quayle, probably the leading candidate for the "honor" in the first game. In the second game Anomen and Aerie.
Noober. He's even hated by other townsfolk! This commoner will speak to you repeatedly and force you into dialogue mode in a harassing manner. If you get through the ordeal, you get 400 XP, but most player prefer to kill him without hesitation. You won't even lose reputation. Neeber, his Expy show up in the sequel.
Brage, former captain of the Amnish guard and an all around decent guy—until he obtains a cursed sword of berserking. The curse drives him to kill his entire family, a merchant caravan (both people and horses), and who knows how many other people in between by the time you catch up to him. If you choose to return him to the Temple of Helm, Brage will be horrified by what he's done (even though he couldn't control it) and say that he no longer wants to live. Nalin, the priest, instead insists he atone for it all. Try talking to Brage after he comes to his senses and you're met with a mix of insane laughter and distraught sobbing.
Viconia's ending if romanced. It's such a downer that the above-mentioned Edwin romance mod comes with a happier ending for a romanced Viconia thrown in, though it only triggers if the player "redeems her" and causes her Character Alignment to shift to True Neutral.
They Wasted A Perfectly Good Character: While justified in that the transition from the more quantity-driven first game to the far more intricate storytelling of the second would result in several familiar characters being cut—and not to mention the implausibility of the entire cast moving south to Amn—several popular and interesting party members from the first game were left out of BG2 with nary a reference given to them.
Kivan is a prime example. He was a memorable character and arguably the best archer in the game, with a distinct, gruff personality and some interesting racial (and moral) conflict with Viconia. His Arch-Enemy Tazok even survived the first game, reappearing as a minor villain in the second. Kivan himself was neither seen nor heard of in the second game.
Xan too. One of the most iconic Baldur's Gate characters for his bleak, laughably nihilistic outlook and unique quirks (that awesome moonblade, anyone?), he was Demoted to Extra in the second, not appearing outside of the tutorial.
Several BG1 characters who did appear in the second game were treated to somewhat disingenuous fates. While done very well with some characters (Faldorn, for example, was a much better-characterized individual in the second game, despite becoming a ruthless villain in it; even Tiax, while never a particularly serious character, actually had a fitting role to play in BG2, and even had an ill-fated showdown with the Big Bad), others reappeared simply to give the odd quest, shrug off any questions about their current status, and to die in short order. Safana, Montaron, Xar, Ajantis (whom you're actually responsible for killing, despite not knowing it), etc. Some of it evokes quite a bit of pity and feels rather well done, adding to the Anyone Can Die mechanics, though some felt it became excessive and predictable, especially if you had prior knowledge of who exactly the BG2 party members would be.
It's also a good example of a subjective trope; players will naturally feel worse for characters who were a core part of their BG1 party only to be unceremoniously killed in the second, though not everyone will have taken the same characters.
That One Boss: Abazigal's son and literal Dragon Draconis, who's even harder to beat than Abazigal himself. As if a dragon fight isn't hard enough, he's also hasted (which he'll almost immediately recast if he's slowed down), regularly turns invisible, and summons hoardes of Invisible Stalkers. Fortunately, if you don't feel like playing fair, setting up a ton of traps in one spot before the fight and luring him into them finishes him off almost immediately.
The full Ascension mod for Throne of Bhaal, on top of turning the Final Boss into both That One Boss and Best Boss Ever, also jacks up the difficulty for the boss fights with Ilasara, Gromnir, Yaga-Shura, Abazigal and the Demogorgon, turning them all into this. Yaga-Shura, for example, now loses his Healing Factor gradually over time instead of instantaneously, is accompanied by powerful lieutenants, can now chuck fireballs at will, and is surrounded by so many respawning Mooks that the fight becomes The War Sequence on top of everything else.
That One Puzzle: The chessboard fight at the end of the third basement floor in Durlag's Tower seems to be trying to be some sort of forced tactical battle puzzle. Unfortunately it has several issues. Your party of one-to-six adventurers can only move like certain chess pieces lest they trip infinite, invisible deadly traps, but it's not clear who represents what piece, and the AI will stupidly run all over the board if given half a chance. The opposing AI force has a full compliment of 16 pieces, a deadly assortment of high-level melee fighters, spellcasters and archers, unrestricted movement, and will immediately charge as a giant mob the second one of your characters moves a step forward. The end result is being stuck with a party you can't move (unless you get 100% electricity resistance and know where to avoid the non-lightening trapped tiles) while a giant army of end-game enemies stampeds towards you.
Say what folks will about Aerie in BG2, they tend to be much more forgiving about her in ToB.
Many people feel resolution of Anomen's Knighthood quest does this for him.
Sacred Cow: It's a golden rule among the BioWare fandom to never criticize Baldur's Gate...ever! Unless we're talking about the (hypothetical) novels. In which case, it's the opposite.
Seinfeld Is Unfunny: By modern standards, Baldur's Gate is a Nintendo Hard game with a rather steep learning curve and some very unforgiving elements, most notably, the 2nd edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons ruleset. At the time, it was praised for how user-friendly and accessible it was, being called an "RPG for a wide audience", in contrast to how ridiculously difficult older western RPGs tended to be. The sequel was more forgiving, thankfully, though no doubt owing partly to starting off with a more experienced party.
The Untwist: We see Irenicus offing the Cowled Wizards in Spellhold during a cut-scene. When you enter the stronghold, you're welcomed by a "Cowled Wizard" played by David Warner. You're just following him, knowing that he will turn on you at any moment.
Wangst: Aerie is the only-sometimes-disputed queen of it among major characters in this series.
Ellesime makes Skie look like a freaking genius. Take away everything that makes Irenicus, a powerful and villainous mage, at all human, but leave him with everything that makes him evil and let him keep his vast power? And then hope that he'll learn from his mistakes? Nice going.