Baldur's Gate uses the same weighting system for spells and weapons as in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game. In addition, we have applied the same concept of the initiative round to the individual monster and character rather than to the party. That is, instead of a group based turn, when first one side then the other performs all actions, everyone is always in real time mode, but on a personal initiative round.
The personal initiative round is six seconds long, and this represents a ten to one reduction in the time of the round in the AD&D rules (which is 60 seconds long). This is consistent with movement rates (we have balanced these such that a character moving at sixty feet per round, which is the average humanoid movement rate in the AD&D rules, can travel the screen in approximately one round), and with the reduction in global game time.
Most importantly, you can pause (or unpause) the action at any time. This is achieved by hitting the space bar or by clicking on the clock. When you are paused you can assign any action to any character, and then resume the game by unpausing. This pause feature allows fans of turn-based combat to effectively play the game that way. One important exception: we do not allow pausing of the game to occur when you look into your inventory (this is to simulate the effects of changing armor on the fly) - so be careful to have everything equipped that you need!
Note: There are also options to have the game pause automatically when certain events occur in order that you don't miss them.
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