First reaction to thumbnail: "Baldur's Gate! *shriek of delight*"
*skims through article* "Torment! *glee*"
your characters will often decide to cast off the yoke of your control and declare independence in the middle of a crucial fight, whereupon they immediately die for having foolishly charged at a dragon by their lonesome.
Unless, of course, its Minsc, with a vorpal blade...(Gotta love 20's on fallen divas...)
I love the Baldur's Gate series. I picked up the first (and expansion) together and then, of course, picked up 2 and Throne of Bhaal. Personally, I had a harder time deciding between NPCs in the first game but the interactions in the second were, as you said, much better. And yes, the AI is something to be desired and the fights were *insane* sometimes, but it gave you one heckuva sense of accomplishment once you out-thought that lich...(I micromanage my fights *anyway* so AI wasn't always an issue for me.)
Torment, too, is a fantastic game and I played Neverwinter Nights so much I thought my mother was going to start an intervention...
As for the 2nd edition rules, I played the game back before 3.0 had come out, so it wasn't that difficult to wrap your head around. I'd imagine now it would be difficult, but back then, it wasn't that much of a stretch.
Four pickles, I say. Four!