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I'm currently playing Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, which uses a modified version of AD&D 2nd edition. Please note that even though it's a modified version, most of the modifications were made to allow for the pausable real-time combat, and AFAIK, Strength wasn't changed.

So I'm a Fighter (dwarven defender specialization), and during character generation, I noticed that Strength does not work like in later versions: instead of going straight from 18 to 19, it gains a percentage, like 18/57 or 18/78. I did some googling on this, and this was apparently a method to balance fighters. However, I don't understand how it works.

How does this work?

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It's exceptional Strength, available only to warriors

Baldurs Gate Enhanced Edition does indeed use the AD&D 2e rules as the chief designer confirmed.

In AD&D 2e, members of the Warrior group of classes (including fighters, rangers and paladins), with 18 Strength have what is called exceptional Strength.

This means that members of other classes can only have 18 Strength, whereas warriors can have have 18/01 to 18/00 Strength, giving warriors a big bonus in combat.

In the pen-and-paper game, if a Warrior has 18 Strength, the player rolls percentile dice, and records this after a slash after the 18, hence 18/57 etc.

The benefits can be seen in the Strength Table (AD&D 2e Player's Handbook, p. 14) duplicated on this Baldur's Gate wiki.

How does it work?

Exceptional Strength is divided into the following tiers:

  • 18/01-50
  • 18/51-75
  • 18/76-90
  • 18/91-99
  • 18/00

Thus each tier gets more and more unlikely (and powerful), and 18/00 is truly remarkable.

For example a non-warrior with 18 Strength has +1 Hit Probability, +2 Damage on attacks, whereas a warrior with 18/01 (the lowest) has +1/+3, and a warrior with 18/00 (the highest) gets +3 to hit and a whopping +6 to damage. This is a huge combat advantage in a system where 15 Strength gives you no bonuses to hit or damage.

Note: In Baldur's Gate it is possible for a starting half-orc character to have 19 Strength, which gives +3 to hit, +7 to damage. In pen-and-paper AD&D 2e it is extremely rare for a player character to have Strength over 18, hence this subdivision for warriors. Although the Strength table went up to 25, these scores were usually reserved for powerful monsters, gods, the effects of powerful spells or magic items etc.

See also: Where did exceptional ("percentile") strength come from?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ IIRC, StackExchange doesn't support tables in markdown. You'd be better off linking to the table offsite \$\endgroup\$ – David Reeve Apr 16 '15 at 11:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @harlandski Is it possible to have STR above 18/00? like 19 or 20 or even more STR? \$\endgroup\$ – Nzall Apr 16 '15 at 15:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NateKerkhofs Yes, but... the usual means of getting a higher attribute apply: race, magic items or special conditions. However, they were rare. As in rare. I cannot remember a race getting a strength bonus in the basic rules. Dark Sun and the elves (of all races) had some options. You did not get higher attributes with higher level. That left magical items. Gauntlets of Ogre Power or Giant Strength. But in 2e, magic items are not as abundant as in 3.5e or 4e. Depending on your GM, you might not find one of those for your whole adventuring life. \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Apr 16 '15 at 15:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nvoigt In this particular setting, you could generate a half-orc with +1 STR, so a max STR of 19 on creation (baldursgate.wikia.com/wiki/Races#Half-Orc). How does that compare to 18/00? \$\endgroup\$ – Nzall Apr 16 '15 at 15:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NateKerkhofs Read the link in the answer above? There is a table that goes beyond 18/00. \$\endgroup\$ – nvoigt Apr 16 '15 at 15:54

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