Baldur's Gate 2 and Icewind Dale 2

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Re: Baldur's Gate 2 and Icewind Dale 2

Postby BlueSalamander » Sun Nov 15, 2009 4:31 pm

As I said earlier, I finished BG2 and the expansion, Throne of Bhaal, with a three-character party, the elf cleric/mage Aerie, human paladin Keldorn and my elf mage/thief, Phindrel.

Using the dark elf cleric Viconia was not an option due to the presence of Keldorn, who would quickly start a fight with her for being a dark elf. The Harper druid Jaheira, I can’t stand her attitude, the lamentations, balance in all things, etc. I used the gibberling-3 option to gain access to all strongholds in order to play quests from all classes.

Things I liked:

- The 'unseeing eye cult' story arch. Genius, it reminds me of Dark Sun's Wyrm story arch (the wyrm was populated with mageras, a smarter kind of ogre. The mageras were tricked by evil wizard Balkazar into thinking that they can aspire to a 'transformation', a passage to a greater form of life, when in fact they would just be killed for sport or to produce tanari demons).

- The character Keldorn. Equipped with Carsomyr, he turns the game from <<*&#@! I can't do any damage?!>> to <<piece of cake!>>.

- The Haer'dalis quest that transports the party to a frozen prison world.

- The paladin quest where you have to protect a young noblewoman hiding in a house. Later, four assassins enter the house. Three of them attack the party while the fourth one goes straight upstairs to kill the noble. That was really smart. Then the noble's godfather turns up to pick her up, and a "Know Alignment" spell reveals him to be evil. Again, very smart. I expected/hoped for more assassin attacks after I killed the false godfather, but nevermind.

- The planar sphere was a good idea. I liked the reference to Dragonlance. However, the sphere could have been much more than a dead-end. For example, it could have given access to one or two villages in exotic planes or distant worlds.

- In TOB, the city under siege by the fire giants was very well designed. You can see archers on the walls shooting at the giants, while the giants bombard the city with fireballs. Some archers get killed and are immediately replaced by new recruits. Very nice.

- In TOB, loved the Sahuagin-city Prince and King plotting, and the sacrificing of the priestess. A classic tale of the rebel faction trying to overthrow a mad king. Except in this case all the factions are evil, even the rebels.

- In TOB, the battle against the bhaalspawn girl that exists in seven copies (with her dark elf allies) was very enjoyable.

- In TOB, experience awards are higher and levelling-up is much quicker than in the first half of BG 2. The reason for this, I think, is because TOB is linear and so more able to offer encounters that correspond roughly to the level of the player characters.

- In TOB, during certain battles the enemies get reinforcements (using a script, I assume) - a good idea for KotC 2.

Things I disliked:

- The tediousness of having to check through each insignificant pile of loot because it may contain something pricey or useful (but usually doesn't). Further, why do I need to pay 15,000 gold to buy a +2 flaming longsword, when selling it yields only 1,000 gold? Why is the game so stingy? As a result, I never sell the good stuff, and instead store it inside the shopkeeper's booth.

- A certain lack of purpose in Chapter 2. It seems that whether you skip, fail or succeed a quest doesn't really matter at all since all this is optional and there is little effect on the game world. Moreover, because this (large) part of the game is free-form, you may well be level 15 or 16 and still be given insignificant things to do. High-level adventurers ought to be involved in great plots with great beings, not mundane tasks like fetching an item or solving a simple murder.

- The main city feels deserted. Where are the crowded marketplaces in Waukeen's promenade? The merchant traffic at the gate and bridge districts? The soldier patrols in the government district? Children running barefoot in the slums? Do people never leave their districts, I never see any passersby leaving a map or entering one, only my party? Simply having Aerie ask if all cities are this crowded, doesn't give me the impression that the city actually is crowded, the way real-world cities often are. I think the city of Baldur's Gate, in BG 1, felt even more deserted than Athkatla. I know of only one game that did the "crowded" feeling well, it's Theme Hospital.

- Creatures with an immunity to spells, like the rakhsasas. I wouldn’t mind this if it was made clear somewhere, anywhere, that no spells below level X can affect this or that creature. But no, it’s left to the player to experiment until he realises that the only viable tactic is to run away, wait for the creature’s Protection from Weapons / Magic Weapons to expire, and then come back for a melee fight. Regarding spells, the manual often uses the term “turn” but never defines it (it is equal to 10 rounds).

- The manual mentions a -1 penalty to the attack roll for using a weapon without proficiency. In fact, the game applied a -5 penalty to my mage/thief character, making the “Use Any Item” ability much less effective.

- At the end of BG 2, you are supposed to pick nuts from a tree of life. Do it as soon as you see the tree, because if like me, you miss them at first and come back later, you won’t be able to pick them.

- Being of good alignment, the party considered Pirate Lord Desharik to be a tyrant and attacked him on sight. Later, Desharik came back from the dead to threaten the party not to take his ship. Then I killed him again and took his two scimitars +1 again. A design oversight, apparently.

- Losing the ranger cabin and ranger quest arc in retribution for offering wine and swords to some youngsters, a bit extreme innit? Villagers, don't bother calling for help the next time! The game actively promotes a detrimental course of action by giving experience points for completing the wine-and-swords Fedex quest, which later on triggers the loss of the ranger stronghold (and all that the stronghold contains).

Notes on difficulty:

The only battle I would qualify as being as difficult as the Keep end-battle in KotC would be the one against Melissan at the very end of TOB, if you’re not using a thief’s traps. With the spike trap ability that you get from the high level abilities, it’s a piece of cake. Second hardest would be the battle against Draconis, because of his powerful invisibility-wing buffet-heal self sequence. The “fission slimes” are impossible to beat until you find out that only fire can eliminate them. All the other battles are quite easy (in hardcore mode) as long as Keldorn is hasted, wields Carsomyr and uses the Greater Whirlwind ability from time to time. Watcher's Keep probably has some tough creatures, I haven't checked it out yet.

To beat Firkraag early, I found that 2 Lower Resistance followed by 4 or 5 Magic Missiles work more reliably than chromatic orbs (even with greater malison). Summoning an earth elemental also helps.

The spells and high level abilities that I used (all the others seemed ineffective, inconvenient or simply not as useful as these):

Magic Missile
Blur
Horror (used once or twice)
Know Alignment
Melf’s Acid Arrow
Mirror Image
Fireball
Haste (nearly every battle)
Invisibility 10’ Radius (used a few times)
Protection from Fire
Emotion Hopelessness (few times)
Fireshield red/blue
Improved Invisibility
Stoneskin (always)
Conjure Lesser Elemental and Conjure Elemental (Compared to Monster Summoning, the elementals are tough, have nice immunities and stay longer)
Lower Resistance
Contingency: Dispel upon Helpless status (few times).
Disintegrate (once or twice)
Improved Haste (nearly every battle)
Tenser’s Transformation (few times)
True Sight (from Keldorn’s abilities)
Mass Invisibility (often)
Abi-Dalzim’s Horrid Wilting (few times)
Bless (few times)
Chant
Lesser Restoration
Protection from Evil 10’ Radius
Harm (once or twice)
Heal
Summon Planetar and Summon Deva (nearly every battle once I got the ability)
Elemental Summoning
Whirlwind attack and Greater Whirlwind (often)
Hardiness (often)
Set Spike Trap
Set Exploding Trap
Use any item
Comet

Me: "The monster will trouble you no more."
NPC: "Yes, and with all haste."


Six different ways of saying "Make your prayers, scum."



'Say there is a chunk of meat. Pirates will have a banquet and eat it! But heroes will share it with other people. I want all the meat!!' - Luffy in One Piece
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Re: Baldur's Gate 2 and Icewind Dale 2

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Re: Baldur's Gate 2 and Icewind Dale 2

Postby VentilatorOfDoom » Mon Nov 16, 2009 4:54 pm

Things you liked:

The character Keldorn. Equipped with Carsomyr, he turns the game from <<*&#@! I can't do any damage?!>> to <<piece of cake!>>.


this is because Mages in the Vanilla game are uncertain of the usefulness of the spell Protection from Magical Weapons. But yeah it's the best sword, maybe only the upgraded 2h-sword Gram the sword of Grief is quite as powerful (poisons, drains levels, is +6 etc)

The Haer'dalis quest that transports the party to a frozen prison world.


Haerdalis is a pretty cool guy, very useful, a lot of people thinks he's weak, but they don't have a clue. You should take him into your party next time.

The planar sphere was a good idea. I liked the reference to Dragonlance. However, the sphere could have been much more than a dead-end. For example, it could have given access to one or two villages in exotic planes or distant worlds.

hehe, good idea :)

Things You disliked:

- The tediousness of having to check through each insignificant pile of loot because it may contain something pricey or useful (but usually doesn't). Further, why do I need to pay 15,000 gold to buy a +2 flaming longsword, when selling it yields only 1,000 gold? Why is the game so stingy? As a result, I never sell the good stuff, and instead store it inside the shopkeeper's booth.


prices depend on CHA iirc

- Creatures with an immunity to spells, like the rakhsasas. I wouldn’t mind this if it was made clear somewhere, anywhere, that no spells below level X can affect this or that creature. But no, it’s left to the player to experiment until he realises that the only viable tactic is to run away, wait for the creature’s Protection from Weapons / Magic Weapons to expire, and then come back for a melee fight. Regarding spells, the manual often uses the term “turn” but never defines it (it is equal to 10 rounds).


remove magic/dispel magic are not subject to these immunity rules, liches/rakshasas are affected by it (more precise: could be affected by it if the spell succeeds) , so you could dispel their ProMW, Rakshasas are pretty weak, so even if you have to wait 6 rounds, hardly much of a problem

- The manual mentions a -1 penalty to the attack roll for using a weapon without proficiency. In fact, the game applied a -5 penalty to my mage/thief character, making the “Use Any Item” ability much less effective.


it's even worse, if you equip a weapon without proficiency you get only 1 attack per round even if you could have 4 or 5 (as a fighter)


- Losing the ranger cabin and ranger quest arch in retribution for offering wine and swords to some youngsters, a bit extreme innit? Villagers, don't bother calling for help the next time! The game actively promotes a detrimental course of action by giving experience points for completing the wine-and-swords Fedex quest, which later on triggers the loss of the ranger stronghold (and all that the stronghold contains).


if you don't come fast enough to their rescue when they call you, you'll lose the quest arc too , happened to me

Notes on difficulty:

The only battle I would qualify as being as difficult as the Keep end-battle in KotC would be the one against Melissan at the very end of TOB, if you’re not using a thief’s traps.


The end battle in the Vanilla game is not all that difficult

With the spike trap ability that you get from the high level abilities, it’s a piece of cake.


spike traps are complete cheese it's ridiculous, I never use them, it's like an *I win lolz* button, meh

The “fission slimes” are impossible to beat until you find out that only fire can eliminate them.

could have learned that from elminsters almanach which you'll find in Watchers Keep, oh wait...

All the other battles are quite easy (in hardcore mode) as long as Keldorn is hasted, wields Carsomyr and uses the Greater Whirlwind ability from time to time. Watcher's Keep probably has some tough creatures, I haven't checked it out yet.


Improved Haste is one of the best spells. 3+1 round/lvl duration, double number of attacks, double movement speed. Greater Whirlwind is useless compared to that (double number of attacks, but no doubled movement, duration only 10sec or something). Should pick actually useful HLAs like Hardiness, Critical Strike or Greater Deathblow . Keldorn can pick summon Deva, which is not that bad either.

Now that you finished the game, did you have fun?
If yes you should play the game now the way it was meant to be played, with Ascension http://weidu.org/asc.html and SCS2 http://www.gibberlings3.net/scsii/ installed, crank up the difficulty a bit too. Install SCS2 with all the options to benefit the enemies most (like enemiy mages getting automatically fully buffed before combat). Report back on the difficulty of the final ascension fight (and the boss fights in general) when your done with that. ;)
For some additionaly challenging encounters you could take a look at Tactics or even Solaufein (again: http://weidu.org/main.html). Only a few components of Tactics don't conflict with SCS2, those are pointed out in the SCS2 readme.
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Re: Baldur's Gate 2 and Icewind Dale 2

Postby BlueSalamander » Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:50 pm

Thank you for the links.

Now that you finished the game, did you have fun?
I did, but not enough to want to play again.

Report back on the difficulty of the final ascension fight
That fight was horrendous, why make it even harder. Having to fight Melissan four times, too, isn't what I would call good design.

Hardiness, Critical Strike or Greater Deathblow
Keldorn had lots of hardiness HLAs - it's the warrior's stoneskin. He also had Summon Deva. But greater deathblow? can't see the usefulness. "any creature of 12th level or lower is instantly killed."? it's the bosses that are trouble, not the low level ones. With or without deathblow, Keldorn nearly instantly kills any creature below 13th level.
'Say there is a chunk of meat. Pirates will have a banquet and eat it! But heroes will share it with other people. I want all the meat!!' - Luffy in One Piece
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Re: Baldur's Gate 2 and Icewind Dale 2

Postby VentilatorOfDoom » Wed Nov 18, 2009 2:48 pm

That fight was horrendous, why make it even harder. Having to fight Melissan four times, too, isn't what I would call good design.


in ascension you'll only fight her 1 time, but she has more allies on her side.

But greater deathblow? can't see the usefulness. "any creature of 12th level or lower is instantly killed."? it's the bosses that are trouble, not the low level ones. With or without deathblow, Keldorn nearly instantly kills any creature below 13th level.


demons, illithids etc most of them have less than 12 HD
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Re: Baldur's Gate 2 and Icewind Dale 2

Postby Archangel » Fri Dec 04, 2009 10:17 am

I found boss fights in ToB difficult enough to not need mods to increase it even further. Some Dragon fights were usually win if they fail some death spell save before they kill you.
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