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Feel free to keep the topic alive; I won't be drawn in... again.
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Coelocanth: Honestly, I don't want to get in the middle of this, but I really don't see how mystral was arrogant or blustering. He just pointed out that you can reach the XP cap with a multiclassed character and be almost as high a level as a pure class whether in a party or not, no mods needed. Which is absolutely correct. I'm actually quite bewildered why it got so heated.
Simple math will tell the tale... :)

Let's say your party has been awarded enough XP such that each member has 40,000 XP. It doesn't matter if the party is made up of one person, or six, for comparison purposes.

With 40,000 XP a single class fighter is 6th level. He has [w/a Con of 16 say] 96 hp. In Plate he has an AC of 3 and let's give him a Dex of 16 for a -2 AC bonus, so a functional AC of 1.

With 40,000 XP a Fighter/Mage will be 5th lvl Fighter and a 5th lvl Mage. Same Con, so [5x 12 = 60 hp + 5x 6 = 30 hp/ 2] = 45 hp. No Armor and Dex 16 = AC 8.

Now, ignoring the fact that the F/MU *IS* a Mage, it looks like the single class Fighter is a better tank... but that's very wrong.

When our F/MU wants to tank, he will have at least an Armor spell running [it lasts all day so why not?] for a base AC of 6 modified by Dex 16 to AC 4. If he wants to tank, then he will also have Blur running for another -3 to AC, so a value now of AC 1. [note also that Blur also grants a +1 save bonus for all saves - something our single class Fighter misses out on.]

So with two very basic spells, only one of which has to be cast immediately prior or during combat, Blur, our two PCs have an identical AC.

Now if the F/MU *really* wants to tank he can also cast a Mirror Image, meaning some of the *successful* attacks against him won;t hit at all - they will just dispell one of his images. He can also cast Ghost Armor if it's a particularly tough fight. Ghost Armor sets base AC to AC 2.... with Dex 16 that's AC 0 and with Blur it's AC -3...

So a buffed F/MU will have an AC of -3, +1 to all saves and multiple hit "absorbing" images... while the single calss Fighter, with one extra lvl will have an AC of 1, no save bonuses and every hit that hits will hit *him* rather than potentially an image.

What makes a good Tank is that they hold off the enemies from getting to your ranged weapons party members, and to do that the tank has to survive the combat. The fact that the single class Fighter has mor hps is hardly an issue, since he will be taking more hits than the buffed F/MU - more hits means more damage taken compared to the F/MU taking fewer hits and thus less lost hps. So for Tanking, the F/MU has it all over the single class Fighter - to say nothing of the F/MUs access to other spells as well as their buffs.

The fact that the F/MU will be one level of exp behind the single class fighter is pretty much immaterial, since the only advantage the single class Fighter has over the F/MU is raw hp total, and that just isn't a meaningfull advantage when the F/MU will be hit significantly less often than the single class Fighter. And the F/MU will have better saves [due to Blur] than the single class Fighter - helping them better shrug off magical effects compared to the single class Fighter.

All in all, the F/MU wins hands down, as long as they can refresh their spells. Which is no disadvantage, since the Cleric in your party will have to refresh the spells they cast healing the single class Fighter... :)

Of course, this is all moot since the real Tank in BG 1 and 2 is the Blade... ;) With the same 40,000 xp we used in our previous examples they will be 7th lvl, have access to the same spells as the F/MU [so Armor, Shield, Blur, Mirror Image and Ghost Armor among others], 56 hps with the example's 16 Con and access to Defensive Spins, which reduce their AC at 7th lvl by -7!

Back to the original question for a moment... is a single class superior to a multi-class? No. Just different. But in terms of Tanking, specifically, multi-classes geared to do the job are superior to a single class Fighter. Based on the math anyway. :)
Post edited July 07, 2013 by Lasivern
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Lasivern: *snip*
An interesting analysis, but I'm not sure why you quoted me, as I never questioned the efficacy of the FTR/MU. I've played through the game many times with various class/race combinations, so I'm well familiar with the tanking abilities of a fighter-mage.
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Lasivern: *snip*
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Coelocanth: An interesting analysis, but I'm not sure why you quoted me, as I never questioned the efficacy of the FTR/MU. I've played through the game many times with various class/race combinations, so I'm well familiar with the tanking abilities of a fighter-mage.
Well... I quoted you because:
A: I liked what you said
B: I liked how you said it
C: I agree with you that the issue of single class vs multi class, as presented here, is not as clear-cut as some have made it out to be
D: It was a convenient place for me to step in, I thought, with the actual math to back up what I thought that you were saying.

Plus by quoting you, your comments get repeated in another post, and I thought your comment was well worth repeating. :)
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Lasivern: Well... I quoted you because:
A: I liked what you said
B: I liked how you said it
C: I agree with you that the issue of single class vs multi class, as presented here, is not as clear-cut as some have made it out to be
D: It was a convenient place for me to step in, I thought, with the actual math to back up what I thought that you were saying.

Plus by quoting you, your comments get repeated in another post, and I thought your comment was well worth repeating. :)
Ah, well. Carry on then! :)
The assertion has been made that the composition of a party has some bearing on the question of how a single class character compares to a multi-class character. The idea being, I suppose, that the sharing of xp alters the comparison between two characters for this comparison.

In terms of total xp gained in the game, the assertion is without merit, since in BG 1 + TotSC, the xp cap is 161,000 xp, *regardless* of how that xp is divided up among party members, the number of party members or just having one party member, i.e soloing.

If you solo a character through BG1/TotSC you will end up with 161,000 xp - if you adventure with a party of 5 companions, you will also end up with 161,000 xp, i.e. each party member will end up with 161,000 xp each.

So total xp available, and how much you, or each party member can amass, is a non-issue, since everybody, ultimately, regardless of party composition, will end up hitting the level cap at 161,000 xp.

Given that the shared xp is the same, regardless of party composition, in any party with a single class Fighter and a multi-class F/MU, the Fighter will, generally, be one level higher of fighter class, compared to the F/M. If the F has enough XP to be 4th lvl, then the F/MU will have enough xp to be 3d lvl as a fighter. So regardless of party composition or the actual xp shared among party members, within that party a F/MU will be a level behind the single class Fighter.

Now the only difference, regarding xp, is the rate at which one acquires it, not the total one can end up with. Having a 6 person party means each will have 1/6th the xp, all things being equal, compared to the single member of a soloing "party". The effect of this is that is simply that the more people you have in a party, the slower they level up since they have to share the xp among their party members.

So, party member(s) *will* affect how quickly one gains levels, although it won't in any way affect how much xp each party member has once they reach the level cap.

Thus the difference between a solo "party", or a multi-member party is simply when each party member reaches the level cap.

Now, given that the game was designed for parties of 6 members and doles out the xp accordingly, the game allows, as designed, for all members of a party to reach the same level cap as any party with fewer members, or a solo character. The only difference in game play is *when* a particular party member reaches the level cap.

So, sure, a soloing character will reach 161,000 xp before the two members of a 2-person party, and before the six members of a 6-person party. But so what? Is it "better" to have your character reach the lvl cap in Chapter 4, compared to a later chapter for multi-member parties? Is it better to top out and reach the lvl cap relatively early, and thus play the entire rest of the game gaining no further levels, no increase in "power" and acquiring no more xp?

I guess that question comes down to play style and what one desires from the game - all well and good, but it has nothing to do with the OP's original question. They didn't ask *when* a single class vs a multi-class will reach the lvl cap, they asked about a comparison of the two alternatives. Since when you ultimately amass those 161,000 wasn't part of the question, it really needn't be part of the answer... :)

So, the comparison. A single class character will, on average, have one additional level compared to a multi-classed character, with regards to the class they share with the single class character. So a 7th lvl F single class will be matched [in terms of total xp] by a 6/X F/X.

So, is this single additional level reason enough to claim that a single class character is "superior" or "better" than a multi-classed character with a level one less than the single class character - *but* with all of the abilities of another class to go along with that single level difference with the single class character?

Our multi-class F/X will have fewer HPs than a single class Fighter - but they will also have means at their disposal, their spells, to mitigate this, by being harder to hit than the single class Fighter. They will have a THAC0 one point worse than the Fighter, but again their spells make up for this - a Fighter can not incapacitate all of their enemies with a 1st lvl Sleep spell, nor kill all of them in one "blow", via a Fireball. Surely, if one can end a battle with a single action, i.e. a spell, then how many HPs you have, and what your AC is, is pretty moot. :)

Same thing with comparing a single class Thief to a multi-class Thief. A Thief will have more HPs than a Th/MU, but fewer than a F/Th - so that's a wash. The Thief will have, on average, 25 more Thief skill points than a Th/X, but will also *not* have the additional abilities of the multi-classed Thief's other class, which can make up some of the difference i.e. a Th/MU's Knock spell, a Th/Cl's Find Traps spell, a Th/MU's Invisibility spell, etc.

In terms of death dealing, a F/Th is a better Backstabber than a single class Thief, because of the F/Th's better THAC0 [using the Fighters THAC0 progression] and better chances to hit and additional damage due to the F/Th's access to weapon specialization, which the Thief doesn't get. All things being equal, the F/Th will hit more often, and do more damage than a Thief.

Bottom line is that since the game nerfed the only meaningful disadvantage multi-classes have vs single classes, i.e Racial class level limitations, there is little reason to play any single class character compared to a multi-class character. The single extra level the single class character can achieve, and the rate at which they level up is, IMHO, completely offset by the multi-classed characters increased abilities due to their having two classes rather than one.

There are really only two exceptions to this; single class spell casters vs multi-classed spell casters having the same class, and of course, classes that can't multi class in any event, such as Monks and Paladins, etc.

Given the way that spell slots are doled out upon level up, a single class spell caster can, at times, have a meaningful advantage over a multi-class character. Whether or not this is an actual advantage depends upon what you want from the character - if you desire the best spell caster possible, then the single class is superior in those terms, while for a more versatile and more "survivable" character, the multi-class is superior, over all.

Much of this depends, ultimately, simply on one's approach to the game. From a power gaming pov, the single class is "better" and will become the "best" quicker than the comparable multi-class. However, this is a very narrow pov if it ignores the other abilities that the multi-classed character gets *from* their other class...
From a role playing perspective, the multi-class character *always* has more versatility due simply to their abilities from that other class.

Personally, I would *always* happily trade away some HP's, a one point THAC0 advantage and advanced weapon specialization that a single class Fighter has, to get all of the abilities of a multi-classed Fighter's other class - be that a F/MU, F/Th, Cl/Rgr or whatever. The fact that my multi-classed character will gain levels a bit slower than the single class is simply not an issue for me, since either character is going to hit the level cap with the same number of xp.

Different strokes for different folks, of course. I would be interested in hearing from someone who disagrees with the above, and why they disagree. For example, in what *meaningful* ways is a F "better" than a F/MU, F/Th or a F/Cl at being a Fighter? In what *meaningful* way is a Thief "better" at being a Thief than a F/Th? etc
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Lasivern: Of course, this is all moot since the real Tank in BG 1 and 2 is the Blade... ;)
what blade?
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Lasivern: Of course, this is all moot since the real Tank in BG 1 and 2 is the Blade... ;)
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taltamir: what blade?
In BG2 [and BG1 with TuTu or Trilogy] one of the Bard kits is the Blade. As a Bard, they get to wear Chain [and can cast their own buffs before they put it back on], can find Elven Chain [and other nifty types of Bard-only Chain] that allow them to cast spells in armour AND they get a delightful little kit ability called "Defensive Stance" - which lowers their AC by 1 for every exp level they have attained, up to a maximum of -10 to AC at level 10 and above.

Now, they can cast all the same buffs as a F/MU, can wear [in BG2] a very nice set of Bard-only Chain *and* can use the Defensive Stance - so they will always be able to get lower AC than virtually anyone else, when it matters.

They are a bit of a slog in BG1 [w/ TuTu/Trilogy] but certainly not as difficult to "babysit" as say the Monk, since at lower levels you can forgo their [limited] spell casting ability and simply wear Chain [and even employ a Buckler, if you choose]. Since Bards use the Thief XP table, however, they gain levels very quickly and once they can use their Defensive [and Offensive] Spins more than once per day, they begin to come into their own.

In BG2, where you can begin with an exported Bard [as a Blade, or as a Bard from vanilla BG1, wherein you get to choose a kit when transferring from BG1] you can start at 161,000 xp. That puts your Blade at 10th lvl to begin with. A 10th lvl Blade, with access to Armor, Shield, Blur, Mirror Image, Ghost Armor, Spirit Armor and Stoneskins [among other spells] is a force to be reckoned with when they employ either their Defensive or Offensive Spin! :) And since character level is important in many spells [with regards to damage done, duration, etc] their higher casting level vs a pure class Mage or an X/MU will be another little bonus.

So no, I wasn't referring to a "blade", as in a weapon, but the Bard kit Blade. My personal pick for best Tank in the game and one of my personal favorite Class/Kits to play. :)
thanks for explaining
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taltamir: thanks for explaining
No problemo... :) There are a few things in BG2 I can't talk about enough; Kundane's Short Sword, The Tuigan Bow and Blades.... So, thank *you* for being appreciative! :)

[although after scrolling through a few of my rants, you may not be *as* appreciative... laffs]