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In Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, spells, innate abilities, item abilities, traps, on-hit effects from weapon and ammunition, consumables, and more, act on their target(s) through a series of effects. Each effect has an associated power level, a number between 0 and 9. Though not introduced in game interfaces and manuals, power level is used in combat to determine whether an effect can pass through certain defenses.

Note: This information is significantly more useful in Baldur's Gate II than in the first opus, but there are exceptions such as against the Ogre-Mage Kahrk where it comes in handy.

Description[]

Power level is a characteristic that all effects have, and a number of defensive effects rely on it for two tasks:

  1. Deciding whether they should block an incoming effect or let it pass through,
  2. Counting the total power of effects they blocked so far, to be compared with a "blocking capacity" beyond which the defense will crumble.

These defensive effects are Immunity to power level (used by e.g. Globe of Invulnerability), Power level deflection (e.g. Spell Deflection), Power level turning (e.g. Spell Turning), Power level trap (e.g. Spell Trap) and Spell type deflection (e.g. Spell Shield).[1] Immunity to power level only cares about the first task, Spell type deflection only cares about the second, and the other three care about both.

As far as the first task is concerned, all four relevant defensive effects are configured to target a specific power level — when they target level 3, they will entirely ignore effects with power level 0-2 and 4-9. So a spell aiming to give protection from low level effects will typically contain several copies of the protective effect, one targeting power level 1, another power level 2 and so on.

The second task is more of a countdown: The defensive effect starts at a certain value, for example 12, and decreases it by the power level of the effect that was blocked. When reaching zero or less, the defensive effect is removed after the effect is blocked. Finally, when several effects hit the defense over a short time period, only the first one is counted. [verification needed][2] This behavior seems similar to saving throws.

Spell level vs power level[]

When it comes to spells, the power level of each effect contained within is very often the same as the spell level, the value frequently advertised in game interfaces. So a player can expect that all effects within the Fireball spell, which has spell level 3, will have power level 3. But it isn't always true. For example when Minor Globe of Invulnerability is said to shield from spell level 1, 2 and 3, what it really does is shield from effects with power level 1, 2 and 3. If both Remove Magic and Spell Thrust, two level 3 spells, can bypass the Minor Globe, it is because their effects have respectively power level 0 and 4.

Spell level has no bearing in combat, it is only used for spell learning and memorization concerns. [verification needed]

In the wiki and elsewhere, the distinction is not made explicitly; the reader has to understand from context whether "level" means spell, power, or the caster's level. There is also some confusion around the web, where the words "spell level" are routinely used when talking about power level. As for in-game descriptions and manuals, they don't introduce it at all, preferring to either talk about spell level or stay silent.

Usage in combat[]

The five defensive effects are found in the following spells and items:

They are also used to grant the innate characteristics of some enemies. A Bone Golem and a Demi-Lich, for example, are immune to level 1-9 effects because they benefit from nine Immunity to power level effects.

It should be noted that no defense in the game blocks effects for being level 0.[3] So when an attack contains a level 0 effect, that effect can only be blocked if either the attack or the effect itself can be grabbed from an angle other than power level. For example it could be through the spell type "Offensive damage" thanks to the Cloak of Mirroring, through the spell school thanks to Spell Immunity, through weapon immunity thanks to Protection From Magical Weapons, through damage type immunity thanks to Protection From Fire, or through explicit immunity to the status effect, thanks to the Amulet of Power for Level drain for instance.

Note:Of the five effects discussed above, four can be exhausted by the power level of the effects they shield against. Immunity to power level is the only exception.

Finding level 0 effects[]

Having a sense of just what is likely to include power level 0 effects can help in combat. That level is largely used to configure effects that aren't supposed to be magical, like those from abilities such as Whirlwind Attack or from elemental attacks that can be considered natural such as a Potion of Explosions. But effects that may conceptually be seen as magical are still made level 0 in a number of cases:

  • When it is clear they should bypass generic spell protections, like effects from Remove Magic
  • When they are attached to a weapon or to ammunition, though some exceptions exist with power level 1+
  • When they come from potions
  • When they are produced by item charges, in which case there's a reasonable chance effects might be level 0. See examples down the page.

To confirm whether an effect within an attack is level 0, one way could be to use it against a character protected only by Globe of Invulnerability. If any effect in the attack has power level in 1-4, it should be blocked even if it's a weapon's on-hit effect, and the combat log should display Spell ineffective. If nothing appears and there's no reason to think power level would be in 5-9, then it is likely level 0.

But hidden as they are, the best way to search the game for good power level candidates is to use a tool such as Near Infinity.

Leveraging power level[]

In a general sense, a good understanding of power level and other hidden mechanics helps to think up creative approaches that free up spell slots, reduce resource consumption, suggest better equipment selection and better strategy, and generally give an easier time roaming the land.

Here's a couple suggestions:

  • Effects with high power level can be used to restore used spells through Spell Trap. The mage does not actually need to be the target of one level 9 spell to regain one level 9 spell, he only needs to be hit by an attack whose first effect has power level 9. This can translate to regaining one level 9 spell per hit from an Energy Blade or the Black Blade of Disaster for example.
  • Conversely, an enemy's Spell Trap could be exhausted with a Black Blade of Disaster: A single spell slot then serves both for offense and as an opportunistic spell protection remover.
  • Demiliches are opponents renowned for their immunity to all magic, extremely high physical damage resistance and immunity to all but the most direly enchanted weapons. And yet a single Potion of Fire Breath or two can make short work of them thanks to power level 0. Consider using Remove Magic if the thing casts Protection From Energy, leveraging level 0 once more.
  • Any amount of a Beholder's Anti-Magic Rays or of Black Dragon Breaths can be brushed off by Spell Shield without it breaking down, because their first effect has a power level of 0.
  • Make Cespenar's grating voice stop forever thanks to a level 0 killing effect he is not immune to.

Items by power level[]

Type Item Power level
Ammo Frag Grenade 0
Two-handed Sword Hallowed Redeemer Magic shield: 0
Horn Horn of Blasting 0
Potion Oil of Fiery Burning 0
Potion Potion of Explosions 0
Potion Potion of Fire Breath 0
Ring Ring of the Ram 0
Ammo Scorcher Ammunition 0
Ring The Victor 0
Wand Wand of Cursing 0
Wand Wand of Wonder Petrification: 0
Haste: 0
Stoneskin: 0
Strength: 0
Other: As real spells
Wand Wand of Magic Missiles 1
Wand Wand of Sleep 1
Wand Wand of Fire Fireball: 3[4]
Agannazar: 2[5]
Wand Wand of Frost BG1: 3[5]
BG2: 5
Wand Wand of Lightning 3
Wand Wand of Fear 4
Wand Wand of Paralyzation 4
Wand Wand of Polymorphing 4
Wand Wand of Cloudkill 5
Wand Wand of the Heavens 5
Wand Wand of Spell Striking Breach: 5
Pierce Magic: 6
Wand Rod of Reversal 7
Amulet Necklace of Missiles 9

Footnotes

  1. In Near Infinity, they are respectively named Immunity to spell level (ID 102), Spell deflection (ID 201), Spell turning (ID 200), Spell trap (ID 259) and Spell type deflection (ID 226), not to be confused with the Wizard spells of the same names.
    More effects of this type exist in the Infinity Engine that runs the game, but they remain unused over the course of the Baldur's Gate series.
  2. Technical detail: When there are multiple copies of that defense (as per the needs of the first task) they will all count down by the power level of the first effect to hit one of the copies. [verification needed]
  3. The Sewage Golem's innate immunities are the only exception, it was made immune nine times to power level 0 where the intent was to make it immune to power levels 1 through 9.
    In addition, a handful of fake, invisible "creatures" meant to facilitate scripted events also have level 0 immunity as part of "anti-bug" measures, to make sure they aren't affected by player action.
  4. 4 in the original BG1
  5. 5.0 5.1 8 in the original BG1
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