All Basic and Advanced Combat Mechanics in Baldur’s Gates 3

In Baldur’s Gate 3, every class has its unique set of combat maneuvers and actions that lend a distinct feel to each battle. This guide offers a comprehensive overview of the game’s general combat structure, as well as detailed insights into the distinctive mechanics of each class.


Rooted in Dungeons and Dragons

Drawing inspiration from the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons, Baldur’s Gate 3 beautifully recreates the pen & paper RPG experience. This edition, introduced in 2014, forms the foundation of the game’s mechanics.

The Significance of the 20th Sided Die

Central to the world of Dungeons and Dragons, and by extension Baldur’s Gate 3, is a system that incorporates the use of a 20th sided die, often referred to as the d20. From combat encounters to dialogue interactions, the roll of this die significantly impacts the course of your journey.

The Impact of Spells on Dice Rolls

The use of dice is woven intricately into gameplay; in the current design, the roll of the dice appears in the screen’s center while interacting with NPCs. As you anxiously hope for a favorable outcome, the game’s new PATCH #5 introduces an exciting twist – the opportunity to influence dice rolls. Using your or your Companions’ Spells can potentially sway the NPCs in your favor. However, the careful expenditure of Spell Slots is essential when casting spells.

For instance, casting the Enhance Ability spell can grant you an Advantage bonus, allowing you to roll twice and potentially turn the odds in your favor. Another useful spell, Guidance, can also augment your success rate.

Ability Score vs. Ability Modifier

In Baldur’s Gate 3, your character’s abilities are represented numerically by an ability score. The ability modifier, on the other hand, indicates the bonus or penalty deriving from each ability score. The formula to determine an ability modifier involves subtracting 10 from the ability score and then halving the result, rounding down when necessary. For instance, a Strength of 21 equates to an ability score of 21 and an ability modifier of +5. Conversely, a Wisdom of 6 translates to an ability score of 6 and an ability modifier of -2.

The ability score and modifier collectively dictate the efficacy of your character in a plethora of situations within the game.

Understanding Attack Rolls

Attack rolls transpire when one character launches an offensive on another. The assailant rolls the d20, and if the result matches or surpasses the target’s Armor Class (AC), the attack successfully lands.

While melee weapons utilize the Strength ability modifier, ranged weapons rely on Dexterity. However, exceptions exist, such as finesse property melee weapons that employ Dexterity instead of Strength.

Upon a successful attack, your ability modifier supplements the damage roll, which is determined by rolling the weapon’s assigned die or dice and adding the ability modifier. This essentially means that a high Strength or Dexterity not only enhances the likelihood of a successful attack but also intensifies the damage inflicted.

Mastering Saving Throws

In Baldur’s Gate 3, saving throws represent a character’s defense mechanism against various spells or effects. Each effect or spell comes with a Difficulty Class (DC) that a character must match or surpass via a saving throw to evade or mitigate the effect.

Specific spells or effects target one of the character’s six abilities, using the corresponding ability modifier for the roll. As with ability checks and attack rolls, success is attained by equaling or exceeding the target number.

For spellcasting characters, such as Wizards or Sorcerers, aiming for a high DC on their spells is essential as it raises the difficulty for enemies attempting saving throws. Different spellcasting classes utilize different abilities to determine their Spellcasting Ability modifier:

  • Clerics utilize Wisdom
  • Wizards rely on Intelligence
  • Sorcerers and Warlocks use Charisma

The formula to calculate the DC to resist a spell is: 8 + Spellcasting Ability Modifier.

For instance, consider a Druid casting ‘Call Lightning’ around a group of Goblins. With a Wisdom of 23, the Druid possesses a Spellcasting Ability Modifier of +6, making the DC of the spell 14 (8+6). Any Goblin failing to roll a 14 will incur 3d10 damage (the total of three d10 die rolls), while those who succeed will suffer half that damage.

Understanding Advantage and Disadvantage

The mechanics of advantage and disadvantage are tied to the roll of the d20. Advantage allows you to roll the d20 twice, selecting the higher value for an Attack Roll, Ability Check, or Saving Throw. Conversely, disadvantage requires you to roll the d20 twice but compels you to use the lower value.

Disadvantage should be avoided due to its potential to significantly lower the odds of success. On the other hand, advantage can almost double the likelihood of success, making it a desirable condition.

Proficiency Explained

In the 5th edition of D&D, characters possess what is known as a Proficiency Bonus, a positive modifier that enhances as your character advances levels. It is similar to ability modifiers and is added to d20 rolls.

Starting with a proficiency level of +2, each character gains +1 every four levels, capping at +6. The proficiency bonus remains uniform for all characters at the same level, irrespective of their Class or Race.

This bonus only applies to d20 rolls in areas where your character is proficient. These proficiencies depend on your character’s Race, Class, Background, and Feats, indicating areas where your character excels. Some instances include:

  • Attack rolls using weapons you are proficient with
  • Ability checks using skills you are proficient with
  • Ability checks using tools you are proficient with
  • Saving throws you are proficient in
  • Attack rolls with Spells you cast
  • Saving throws DCs for Spells you cast

However, the proficiency bonus does not influence the damage roll.

Deciphering Penalties

In D&D’s 5th edition, players do not face penalties for employing weapons they are not proficient with. Instead, they forego their proficiency bonus. However, if they use armor or shields they are not proficient with, they experience disadvantage on ability checks, saving throws, or attack rolls involving Strength or Dexterity. Moreover, they are unable to cast spells. Hence, using armors without proficiency should be strictly avoided.

Delving into Feats

In Baldur’s Gate 3, feats function similarly to talents or perks in other RPGs, offering specific bonuses to characters. These feats aren’t gained automatically. Players earn an Ability Score point every 4 levels (at levels 4, 8, 12, 16, and 19) and can choose to forego this ability score improvement to secure a feat instead. Certain characters like Humans and Fighters acquire additional feats.

Some feats have prerequisites; for instance, the ‘Heavily Armored’ feat necessitates Medium Armor Proficiency for unlocking.

Understanding Weapon Proficiency & Damage Type

Baldur’s Gate 3 allows any character to wield any weapon. However, you forfeit your proficiency bonus while attacking with a weapon you are not proficient with. The lack of penalty does not offset the reduced chances of hitting an enemy due to the missing proficiency benefit.

Weapon proficiency is dictated by the character’s Race and Classes. Elves, for instance, are proficient with Longswords, Shortswords, shortbows, and longbows, whereas Wizards are proficient with Daggers, Darts, Slings, Quarterstaffs, and Light Crossbows. Hence, an Elven Wizard would have proficiency in all nine of these weapon types.

Every weapon inflicts a specific damage type – either Bludgeoning, Piercing, or Slashing. This is crucial information as some enemies exhibit damage reductions to certain types of damage.

Loaded Dice: Balancing the Odds

This optional feature moderates the extremes of the bell curve, thus ensuring a balance in RNG (Random Number Generator). Players can neither be excessively lucky nor unlucky with consecutive dice rolls. The system is segregated into dialogue dice rolls and combat dice rolls and only impacts the d20, leaving damage rolls unaffected.

Non-lethal Attacks: The Art of Restraint

Baldur’s Gate 3 now facilitates non-lethal attacks, providing you with more flexibility during quests. This option allows you to incapacitate characters instead of killing them, leading to a broader array of branching paths.

Comprehending Armor Class (AC)

Armor Class serves as your shield against any assault involving an attack roll, inclusive of Spells. The level of protection you garner hinges on the weight of the armor you sport. For instance, Padded Armor offers 11 AC, meaning an adversary must attain at least 11 on the attack roll to hit you.

Wearing lighter armor endows players with an Armor Class bonus derived from their Dexterity. Light Armor enables the full value of your Dexterity modifier to be added to your Armor Class. Medium Armor allows a maximum of +2 AC from your Dexterity modifier, whereas Heavy Armor provides no benefit from your Dexterity modifier.

Unlike weapons, proficiency in an armor type is indispensable to avoid severe penalties. Characters donning armor they lack proficiency in will face disadvantage on any Ability Check, Saving Throw, or Attack Roll that engages Strength or Dexterity, and they cannot cast Spells.

Additionally, while wearing armor, it’s crucial to consider whether it imposes disadvantage on Stealth checks and whether Heavy Armor has a Strength prerequisite.

Introducing New Melee Combat Options

The Power of Thrown Weapons

Now, a new class of weapons can be hurled from afar. Thrown Weapons like Daggers, Javelins, Handaxes, and Spears deal damage based on their Damage stats instead of their weight. Barbarians commence the game armed with two Handaxes alongside their primary Greataxe weapon.

Innovative Improvised Weapons

The game now allows you to employ furniture, instruments, animals, limbs, and NPCs as Improvised Melee Weapons.

The Scope of Expanded Throwing

The game permits the hurling of objects or characters weighing up to thrice your Strength ability score. The range of the throw scales with your Strength and the weight of the object. Provoke your foes by launching a badger at them or by hurling a goblin to assess their aerodynamics.

Decoding Reactions

You now have the option to employ counterspell during an enemy’s turn as a reaction. When your character gets an opportunity to react, a popup box will emerge, enabling you to select your course of action. (Remember, a counterspell necessitates a spell slot.)

High Ground Rules

When you launch an attack from an elevated position, you gain a +2 bonus on the Attack Roll. Conversely, if you attack from a lower position, you incur a -2 penalty. The height difference between you and your target must be at least 2.5 meters.

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