Project Image creates an illusory copy of the caster which has the same spells and items from its parent at disposal.
|“||When this spell is cast, an illusionary copy of the caster steps out of his body. This copy has the same Hit Points and can cast the same spells as the original caster; however, it may not make physical attacks. As long as the image is in existence, the original caster is rooted to the ground and only his projected image may move around; if the image is destroyed, the spell ends and the original caster can move again. Also, if during this time the caster takes any damage, the image will disappear and the caster can move around again. Otherwise, the image will remain for the duration of the spell, or until affected by a Dispel Magic or anything that reveals illusions, such as True Sight.||”|
- For the 1st-generation Project Image clone, which is created directly out of PC or companion NPC via the Project Image spell, all the memorized (if the caster is a mage) or castable (if the caster is a sorcerer) spells that the caster has at the time of the cloning spell being cast are cloned. The clone may cast any of the cloned spells without affecting the caster's spells in any way. All the innate abilities that the caster has at the time of cloning, such as Dragon Disciple's Breath Weapon and the abilities acquired by the caster from casting the Shapechange spell, are cloned, so the clone may use them separately. The caster's quick items and equipped gear are cloned. The clone may consume quick items and/or use item charges without affecting the caster's items or inventory in any way. For example, if the caster stacks up 3x Time Stop scrolls in a quick slot before casting Project Image spell, all the three scrolls will be cloned. As for the caster's pseudo special abilities, such as active sequencers, and plot-related abilities, such as Slayer Change: in BG2 EE v2.x, they are not cloned and are not usable to the clone.
- In BG2 and BG2 EE, all 1st-generation clones and subsequent clones are allowed to use Project Image and/or Simulacrum spells to further clone themselves, provided that they have the spells (or scrolls) to do so. However, the rules of cloning are not well defined and details vary with each patch/update. BG2 allows every clone to use cloning spells to make more clones.
- As of v2.3, BG2 EE does not allow a Project Image clone to further clone itself via the Project Image spell, whereas a Simulacrum clone is allowed to use either Project Image or Simulacrum or both spells to further clone itself (provided that it can cast the spells). As a result, no matter how many clones a high-level caster may have, only the 1st-generation Project Image clone is supposed to have a full copy of the caster's useable spells and may cast spells up to level 9/10 without using quick items.
- As of v2.3, BG2 EE does not allow 2nd- and later generation clones to have access to the inventory of 1st-generation clones. Those clones of clones are essentially created with no equipment. They are unable to use quick items, item charges or any special abilities other than class-specific innate ones such as Dragon Disciple's unique breath weapon.
- In BG2 and in early releases of BG2 EE, the 7 traps and 5 summons limits do not apply to the clones of PC or companion NPC. A player may use Project Image to summon any number of creatures until all summoning spells and usable summoning items have been consumed. This was widely considered as a long-standing bug in BG2 and the tactics relying on the bug are always considered as exploits. One infamous but popular exploit was to combine Project Image and Chain Contingency to have up to 4 Project Images cloned out of PC. Each of the 4 clones can independently cast spells and summon creatures including Planetars.
- Starting with v2.0, according to its official release notes, BG2 EE finally fixed the unlimited summoning bug, by making the Project Image spell "respect party summoning limits." However, what summoning limits must now be respected are unspecified in the release notes. As of v2.3, BG2 EE (probably erroneously) still allows a sorcerer to have up to 6 summons (1 Planetar + 5 regular sommons), provided that the caster's clone summons a Planetar before the widely known 5 summons limit is reached.
- In BG2 EE v2.x, the Project Image /CC exploit (mentioned above) obviously ceases to work. However, as of v2.3, BG2 EE (probably erroneously) still allows PC to have up to 2 full clones of himself, both independently having access to spells up to L9/10. One way to have 2 such clones is to have a sorcerer PC cast Project Image to clone himself, have Imprisonment spell cast on the clone, then have the PC cast Project Image again to make a second clone, and use a Freedom spell to bring back the first clone. Now the sorcerer PC has 2 perfect clones of himself. Both are in full control of the player and both are able to independently cast spells up to level 9/10.
- In BG2 as well as in BG2 EE (as of v2.3), a player party is always allowed to have multiple Project Image and/or Simulacrum clones at the same time. Clones are not summons. There seems to be no limit on the max number of clones that a player party may have.
- Items stolen by clones will drop if killed, with the help of Farsight or Wizard Eye, players may use this exploit to obtain items from natural targets ahead as clones won’t trigger dialogs.
- In BG2 and in BG2 EE up to at least v2.0, items acquired by a clone from casting a spell (such as Limited Wish) will drop if killed, and can be picked up by PC.
- In BG2 and in BG2 EE, a Project Image clone is never allowed to make physical attacks using its equipped weapon, fists, or a spell weapon conjured by casting a spell. But the clone may use a spell to shapechange or polymorph itself into a different creature. Once in the form of another creature, such as Mind Flayer, the clone is able to make physical attacks using the creature's innate weapon or ability. A melee-oriented high-level mage (such as Figher>Mage) can take full advantage of this trick, which can be significantly more destructive than attacking with a Simulacrum.
- Unlike Simulacrum clones, a Project Image clone can be brought down by enemy caster's True Seeing or True Sight. Similar to Simulacrum clones, a Project Image clone can also be brought down by a successful Dispel Magic. It's usually a good idea, especially in combat situations, to protect 1st-generation clones with Spell Immunity: Divination (aginst True Seeing or True Sight spells) and/or Abjuration (against Dispel Magic and enemy caster's Remove Magic).
Project Image is on the shortlist of the most "broken" spells in the Baldur's Gate trilogy, and many players would vote it #1. That reputation is perhaps unearned. It was reasonably balanced in BG2 because clones, like summons, cannot be manually controlled in the fog-of-war. This meant that the clone could only use spells on enemies or allies within the caster's line of sight. While the clone benefited from shortened casting time items, the level cap was low enough that it would not persist long enough to empty its spellbook.
Throne of Bhaal pushed Project Image into a new tier of power through a combo with Improved Alacrity, which was accessible only to Project Image's clone. It now became possible to constantly cast and dispel Project Image, emptying the spellbook of each clone, and then use Wish to refresh all uses of the spells again. Often, Time Stop and Wish were also added to guarantee the spellcaster peace from attacks during the spam and (perhaps) refresh the caster's spellbook.
While this tactic was infamous and appears easy to abuse, it was only practical in a handful of big battles during Throne of Bhaal. Random encounter enemies in the expansion were too powerful, numerous, and magically resistant to justify the heavy setup necessary for a Project Image combo. This scheme also required considerable slot dedication: Improved Alacrity and Time Stop in the Level 9 slots, and at least one Project Image as a memorized Level 7 spell. Countermeasures were also suggested to combat enemy True Sight and ample Magic Resistance lowering spells (Lower Resist, Pierce Magic, Pierce Shield) were needed for demons, devils, drow and dragons. If Wish was also carried, this limited the potential damage output of the spellcaster in favor of maintaining the combo, versus dedicating all slots to offense.
Finally, casting too many spells while under the effects of Time Stop caused framerate lag, and while lagged the player had limited ability to interact with the game. By the time normal framerate is reestablished, party members may have already been killed by an NPC swarm.