Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal
is a 2001 expansion pack for Baldur's Gate II
, the second game of the Baldur's Gate
series. Unlike the expansion pack for the first game, this one continues the saga's main storyline, bringing it to its grand conclusion. It's large enough that some people at BioWare joked that they might as well just call it "Baldur's Gate III
The expansion provides examples of the following tropes:
- Affectionate Pickpocket: Played with: Imoen suddenly starts acting all love-struck and swooning around Keldorn, much to his horror (since he is Lawful Good, married, and old enough to be her father). After making him squirm for a bit, Imoen chuckles and gives him his ring back.
- Alignment-Based Endings: There are three endings: Good God, Evil God, and Mortal. Though in one sense the trope is avoided: it is not entirely based on your alignment, or a Last-Second Ending Choice (the choice between God and Mortal is, but not the alignment), but rather by having answered correctly to a series of questions you are asked by a Solar over the course of the expansion. Gave the right answers, you can become a Good God. Didn't give enough right answers, and even if you are a Lawful Good Reputation 20 Paladin, becoming a god makes you an Evil God. On the other hand, even if you're a Chaotic Evil Blackguard with a Reputation of 1, giving all the right answers makes you a Good God should you choose that path.
- Armor Is Useless: Both you and your enemies have so much THAC 0 that almost all attacks automatically hit anyway, doesn't matter if you are naked or wearing full-plate armor made of dragon scale, carrying tower shield and being protected by several spells increasing your AC. What's worse is this: remember that "Immunity to all weapons of +1 enchantment and less" innate bonus that you get from using the Tears of Bhaal on the Helldoor? Guess what enchantment nearly EVERY ENEMY'S WEAPON has in ToB? Yup, +2 at least, and usually +3. Now, considering that +3 weapons are supposed to be quite powerful, rare, and hard to make, why does nearly every shop sell them?
- Badass Family
- Player's party may become one if you have Imoen and Sarevok in your party. Add one of the eight possible love interests, who are all badass in their own right, and it becomes an extended family, complete with kids if you chose Aerie. By the end of Throne of Bhaal your party is ungodly powerful and takes on an Almost-Goddess Amelyssan. How much more badass can one get?
- The Turnabout mod takes this a step further, as it allows you to add either Gorion or the PC's mother Alianna (who was a priestess of Bhaal and a Deathbringer) to your party for the final battle. Not to mention that Ascension, which is a base component for Turnabout anyway, also lets a good-aligned player recruit Balthazar, adding yet another sibling to the mix.
- Cain and Abel: In constrast to BG1, played with for all it's worth in this game, which is more like "Cain and Cain and Cain and Cain and Cain and Abel"... only with Abel murdering all the Cains. And going on to become God.... Maybe.
- Cassandra Truth: Gromnir, raving about how the do-gooder Melissan is really trying to get all the Bhaalspawn killed. If only you were given the opportunity to listen to him...
- Darker and Edgier: This was already the case between the first and second games, but Throne of Bhaal takes it even further, with entire cities razed to the ground, genocide and more at stake than ever.
- De Construction: Of high or epic-level adventures. This is a high powered adventure where the stakes have never been higher, but the plot also focuses on how normal people would be helpless in this type of adventure as the people of Saradush can attest to.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?:
- The Bonus Boss battle against Demogorgon, the D&D multiverse's most powerful Demon Lord in a straight fight.
- Amelyssan also counts, seeing as how she was almost 99.99% the Goddess of Murder by the time you fought her.
- Considering that the remaining .01% of Murder God is the Player Character, any "normal" monster that manages to kill you might also qualify.
- Escaped from Hell: To quote Sarevok, "I swore I would scratch and crawl my way back into the world of the living, and I. HAVE. DONE IT!! HAHAHAHA!!!". Not mention getting killed TWICE before doing this.
- Eviler Than Thou: A Villain Protagonist can make plans to ascend and take Bhaal's place as Lord/Lady of Murder, which most evil companions will encourage them to do (although Dorn and Sarevok have a vested interest in doing so, as they hope to attach themselves to their powerbase). To do this, they first have to take on the six most dangerous Bhaalspawn in Faerun — Illasera, Gromnir Il-Khan, Yaga-Shura, Sendai, Abazigal and Balthazar, including breaking through their armed forces. Finally, once all other Bhaalspawn in the world are either dead or don't want their essence anyway (Imoen), you go toe-to-toe with Amellysan, the treacherous high priestess of Bhaal, finally winning the last of your gathered essence and ascending to godhood.
- Evil Versus Oblivion: For a Villain Protagonist, Alaundo's prophecy makes the Bhaalspawn crisis a downplayed version of this. Apparently, even if the Player Character was the worst Bhaalspawn to walk the earth, they would still cause less destruction than the Five would. So the PC's still prophesied to try to stop their plan, whether or not they agree with their goals and methods.
- Fighting a Shadow: Killing Demogorgon frees him from his prison, since he respawns on his home plane.
- Final Boss, New Dimension: The final fight occurs on a different plane.
- Foreshadowing: Although he initially seems like a madman spouting lies, Gromnir basically outlines, in his first and only moment on-screen no less, how Melissan is more than she appears and plotted the downfall of Saradush and his death from the start, among other things; this is because "Melissan" doesn't exist, being merely an alias for Amelyssan, the true Big Bad of ToB.
- Gameplay and Story Segregation: Until the Enhanced Edition at any rate. Clerics receive a holy symbol at level 25 that functions as a ring and allows them to cast more spells. These symbols are of Lathander, Helm or Talos, depending on alignment. In the player's case, it can be seen as a Pragmatic Adaptation, as you never specify your patron deity during character creation unless you pick a kit, and since the Forgotten Realms have literally hundreds of deities, implementing all of them in the game mechanics just wouldn't be feasible. But it becomes quite jarring when it happens to your party member clerics, who each have established patron deities. Aerie (a wizard/cleric of Baervan Wildwanderer) will receive a symbol of Lathander. Anomen (a fighter/cleric of Helm) will, if he has become Lawful Good, receive a symbol of Lathander instead (especially bad since he will receive a proper holy symbol of Helm if he remains Lawful Neutral). Viconia (a cleric of Shar) will receive either a symbol of Talos or Helm (the latter if her alignment has changed to Neutral) instead (the incredibly uptight and judgemental Helm is probably the last god Viconia would worship, but Talos might have a fighting chance due to his emphasis on chaos and evil). Mods aside, a later patch in the Enhanced Edition changed this to give NPC clerics symbols reflecting the gods they actually worship.
- God's Hands Are Tied: One of the tests in your Pocket Plane has you facing an avatar of Cyric, Bhaal's murderer and the current Lord of Murder. He's there mainly to find out whether you intend to become The Rival for his portfolio. But he also mentions that Ao, the chief deity of the Realms, has taken an interest in the Bhaalspawn crisis, and has forbidden the other gods from interfering. Though the Solar is their agent, the gods only directly intervene once it's clear that Amelyssan is defeated.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The Bonus Boss battle against Demogorgon, in which defeating him results in sending him back to his home plane of existence rather than re-sealing him in his prison. Whoops. Hey, at least he's not terrorizing the Material Plane, which is what would've happened if you didn't stop him.
- Old Save Bonus: The savefile from Shadows of Amn can be imported, allowing for a seamless transition of character level, abilities and any inventory that is carried over in a Bag of Holding. Completing Amn with certain character decisions is also reflected in the gameplay (for instance, if you romanced Aerie, her character model is changed to reflect her carrying around the player character's child!) and it is also the only way to hear certain companion NPC sounds that aren't present otherwise.
- Peninsula of Power Leveling:
- The town surrounded by giants has a spot on the ramparts where unseen giants cannot harm you but can be auto-attacked by a character set with a ranged offensive action script. Equip all the infinite ranged ammo items you have, set those characters to auto-attack and go watch a movie. When you come back, you will have max experience on all characters.
- The slave tunnel in Sendai's Enclave. Infinite numbers of derros and orogs will attack you until you procedd to actually fight your way through the tunnel. Many yeilds 10 000 XP each and should be easy enough to take out at that point. Even better: Well placed Cloudkill and similar spells will kill large amound in short order, enough for you to reach multiple levels or maybe even max out.
- Permanently Missable Content: If you choose to play Watcher's Keep in Amn, collect enough rare components or weapons, stash them at your stronghold and fail to have them with you when the team is sucked down to Hell, you're never going to get them back, robbing you of potentially great weapons/armor like the Flail of Ages +5, White Dragon Scale, Wondrous Gloves or the Helm of the Rock.
- Philosophical Choice Endings: Once you've defeated the Final Boss, the ending you choose is based on whether you take Bhaal's essence or not. As noted under Alignment-Based Endings, the type of god you could become depends on how you answered the Solar's questions. While Good party members encourage you to stay mortal and Evil party members will do the opposite, you can just as easily ascend as a Good power — though it's left an open question on whether you'll stay that way, because Power Corrupts.
- Pixel Hunt: Softened from previous games: hold the "tab" key, and every item and hiding place on the screen will be highlighted. Then came the mod that allowed the first game to use the second game's engine...
- Porn Stash: A banter between Anomen and Imoen reveals that the Radiant Heart donated a book to Candlekeep that turned out to be this, and that Imoen sneaked a peek at it. Depending on whether and how you resolved Anomen's personal quest in the first game, he'll either take exception to this, or snark that the Prelate gave it as a present after being finished with it.
- Prophecy Twist: The Bhaalspawn are prophesied to bring great destruction to the Sword Coast...but, according to the Solar, that's only what will happen if Charname fails to stop the Five. A Good-aligned PC can express relief at this.
- Save Scumming: There's a spoof reload sequence when an NPC party charges at the player only for a fake reload to occur when the protagonist party butchers all of them, by which then they leave peacefully. Comically it's as if the creators acknowledged this element of the game of continual reloading.
- Schmuck Bait: By the docks in Saradush, your party can find a woman in black killing several people. Turns out she's another Bhaalspawn who can kill with a touch. When she sees you, she tells you that she can free you from your life of pain and suffering. You can select a dialogue option that eagerly accepts her offer... which promptly results in a Total Party Kill.
- Sequel Hook: Retroactively. The standard BG series storyline is a perfect example of how to wrap up a plot so completely that there is practically no way to continue it without feeling forced. But David Gaider's Ascension mod, in addition to its gameplay changes, restores epilogue text that was written but not implemented in game. The romance endings all indicate that CHARNAME's offspring with their chosen love interest (including Jaheira, who doesn't have children in the vanilla ending) grow up to become adventurers as prolific as their parents are. This was probably scrapped when Bioware realized how corny that would be as a basis for a sequel.
- Shapeshifting Squick: The sheer range of creatures which show up claiming to be Bhaalspawn is... well, it raises some interesting questions about what the God of murder was doing while "walking the earth". Everything from humans to dragons to werechinchillas. Considering that he foresaw his death while walking the earth and decided the best thing to do is sire as many kids as possible, to use their essence as a springboard back to life, it makes perfect sense.
- Suicidal Overconfidence: Parodied with the three rookie adventurers you can run into, who convince themselves they're good enough to slaughter you for your awesome treasure. One (cut scene) Slayer change and about five seconds later, they're dead (only to then "reload" and try just talking to you).
- Take That!: Cespenar makes an off-hand comment about running out of recipes and needing to find "Martha", who's somewhere around in Hell.
- Teleport Interdiction: The siege of Saradush is complemented by a magic field that blocks teleportation out of the city. Certain special means bypass this, including the Player Character's ability to shift to another plane. But even the player's party is limited by this, because they can only shift back to the Material Plane inside Saradush or at a considerable distance from it; the time it takes for them to approach it from the outside becomes a plot point.
- To Be Lawful or Good: A minor example with Marlowe's quest in Amkethran. He begs you to stop a lich from stealing his daughter Malla's soul, but, as it turns out, the lich took Malla's soul because Marlowe owes his own. You can either choose to let Marlowe give his soul to the lich, or double-cross the lich and kill him after he gives you Malla's soul. While the first choice is Lawful, the second is Good (and you get more XP for it). You could also take Malla's soul for yourself and use it as a powerful ioun stone, but the game makes you feel like a heel for doing this, and the item is only useful for Neutral or Evil characters anyway.
- Video Game Caring Potential: Even in the midst of hunting down Bhaalspawn, you can still do plenty of good deeds for random townspeople, making the city of Amkethran in particular a better place.
- Video Game Cruelty Potential:
- Now you can abuse everything from chinchillas to Solars!
- Of course, there's ample opportunity for this during the romances, all the way up to kicking Aerie to the curb after you've knocked her up.
- The game allows you to summon characters to the party that didn't travel with you from Shadows of Amn; they get a set of slightly better equipment and are upgraded to 2,500,000 XP. This is handwaved by your ability to touch the fates of others connected to you, especially potential party members. Of course, once you summon them, many of them are none too thrilled that you've yanked them away from whatever they've been doing. And once you've summoned them, you can insult many of them and make it very clear that you've got them over a barrel.
- Vocal Evolution: Some characters don't sound quite the same in Throne of Bhaal.
- You Can't Thwart Stage One: You can't stop Yaga-Shura from razing Saradush, nor can you stop Melissan's plan to kill all the Bhaalspawn until it's only you and (possibly) Imoen left.)
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Once the Pocket Plane is destroyed at the start of the endgame, the Solar states that she will return any companion(s) left there back to where they were before, but unlike those in your party they won't be given an epilogue. There's a mod that allows you to watch the left behind character's epilogue right before you choose your ending, however.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Balthazar. His methods of preventing Bhaal's resurrection are questionable, which he admits if you call him out. He also wants you killed because you're a Bhaalspawn and you won't be able to convince him that you want the same as him, even if you're Lawful Good with 20 reputation, unless you play with the Ascension Mod. He will, however, admit that you're as much as a victim in this conflict as he is.