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Amber: A Belated Review

Guest Mahokenshi

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Guest Mahokenshi

I heard about Amber when it was first released a while ago; but I didn't bother to download the mod until recently.


I played through the friendship path to the end, and am about halfway through the game on the romance path. I felt like adding my two coppers to what's already been said.


General Nah, on second thought I'll give that a miss. :cry: Romance mod, fighter (6) - thief, yadda yadda. Read the readme. :beer:


Nuts and Bolts. In both my games, my PC was an import from BG1/ToSC; and so I got the level 12 version of Amber.


Her choice of thief skill distribution is a bit unothrodox by BG thief standards. At first I was daunted by her decent - but - not perfect skills in finding traps and opening locks. But, with the Master Belt from aVENGER's Rogue Rebalancing mod (great mod if you like thieves), lockpicks from the Amber Store, and a single level up (to get 20 more points into Amber's Find Traps skill); and this was not a problem. Amber does, however, have a unique strength. Her stealth skills are higher Jan's or Yoshimo's. That, coupled with her ability to ultimately grandmaster weapons make her a KILLER backstabber. Right from the get - go, she was chunking nasty mages. I had cleaned out aVENGER's RR bonus store of its potions of invisibility, and Amber made very good use of them. The stealth - stab - gulp - stab routine would kill or at least panic just about any foe I faced early on.


I had trouble adjusting to her weapon proficiencies at first. In the first playthrough; I had her using SHORT bows by accident. :beer: Between her high dex (3 point bonus to hit) and warrior levels (only a 2 point THAC0 penalty) it didn't matter much; but I felt less than smart when I realized, halfway through chapter 6, that she was specialized in LONG bows. ;) Spears are a great weapon for a second rank fighter, but i rarely used them, as thieves can't backstab with them. Level 12 Amber had 2 points in sword and shield style. I admit I cheated a bit here, and shadowkeepered the second point away and gave her high mastery in long swords. I do this with most of the Bioware NPCs as well. NONE of the warriors spend their level 9 proficiency slot in ways I like :D , and I usually play through BG1 first; so I often change them They spawn too high, even if I go get them right away. I feel justified as that extra 72k XP i start with shouldn't be hindering my game. The dagger specialization was interesting. A couple of the daggers (pixie prick, duchess stiletto or whatever) make interesting backstab weapons. And yes, :7up: Rogue Rebalancing adds a nice anti-vampire dagger. On the whole, I ended up giving Amber a long sword and a long bow. Because of her high starting stealth skills, and her ability to finish off weakened enemiest toe to toe if necessary, she's the first thief I've ever had in the BG series to have a melee weapon as her preferred weapon.



Character Content. Some romance mod NPCs have a reputation of being rather non-interactive unless you actually romance them. Not Amber. The "tell me about yourself" conversation options have a novella's worth of character information. Amber has a ton of set and timed friendship banters. She has a healthy dose of interjections as well.


Also, it's nice for once to have a non-whacky NPC theif in the BG series. Imoen? Whacky. Coran? Very wacky. Alora? :beer: Yoshimo? "Hi-YYAH. The tourists love that stuff." It's nice to have a thief that doesn't think that she's Errol Flynn.


The romance portion, though, takes the cake. She remembers things about your PC, has flirt options she does and does not like, has riddles, and even initiates flirts on her own. I know Kelsey does that, but I've never seen a female NPC do that before, and Amber's probably the fourth or fifth I've tired out. It really adds to the immersion factor, and fleshes out her character. In the literary sense, of course. :D Well, and also, um, :beer: .


One of the earlier reviews mentioned the kidnapping quest. It DOES happen a lot in NPC mods (Taisha, Saerileth, Fade, etc). But it is well done, and there is a nice twist to it. I still have visions of a crossmod kidnapping pack; however, where Ymmyrt's slavers and Pasha Pook's slavers encounter the party at the same time; each with vague orders to kidnap the red-haired teifling... . :beer:



The biggest tiff I had was ... the tiff. The inevitable argument that NPCs seem to have in BG romances. In Amber's case it is something she feels strongly about, and it is handled in a unique way; but; well, I wish it had been possilbe - even if difficult - to have avoided a protracted argument. :) It DOES happen in relationships, though, and this is a minor quibble. Like I said, it is handled differently from the others.


Random Other Thoughts The latest version of Amber Haer'Dalis is STILL attacking Amber. :D Of all the BG bugs I have ever seen; this has got to be the most universally ironic; that the only other teifling character in SoA would attack Amber. If Hear'Dalis is a neutral participant in that battle, then he probably only has his starting equipment and spell selection. In other words, he isn't all that helpful in that battle. :D Maybe, in some future version, you could include an optional script, chosen during the mod install, for Haer'Dalis for that fight that is little more than "stand there like an idiot" or something. :bday: Or have him feeblemind himself for that fight or something. It's not like most players go into that fight hoping for a neutral Haer'Dalis to carry them through or anything. :beer:


I'm going to add my voice to what has become an exclusive fascination on this board as of late, so bear with me. I would also like to see ToB material for Amber. Authors can grow tired of even their most interesting creations I know. I see that Amber's audio files were dated sometime in October 2003, while the mod seems to have had a public release only last year. And I know that ToB is not exactly the most inspiring backdrop to work with. And that people have real commitments. Even so, Amber's ToB content is the one incomplete mod I have my heart set on seeing. I'm not saying this to bug the creators; I only want to let them know that their work has not gone unappreciated.


Oh, and on a final good random thought; something that I don't think anyone has mentioned yet. The predestination vs free will subtheme was well done; but there was another that I enjoyed as well. Amber is long lived, and has seen at least one generation of her friends come and go. The AD&D world has long lived and short lived species, and it is nice to see the consequences of that addressed.


Finally (at last) I want to thank the creators for providing such an interesting game add-on for free. I am a sucker for a good story and a well drawn character; and Amber has both. Cheers!

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Thank you very much for a very positive review! :cry:


The issue with Haer'Dalis attacking Amber can be solved by using BG2 fixpack, which fixes HD's faulty AI script. In other words it's not a bug in Amber mod, but rather in the original game. Since Amber was largely developed in pre-fixpack era in a game with only the baldurdash patch installed and I never run into this issue during testing, it's possible that using the baldurdash will also solve the issue. But if you want to be sure use the fixpack. (Why the fault in HD's script comes up with Amber more likely than in completely vanilla game, is a mystery to me.)


And yes, the ToB part is in the works, but Corthala Romantique comes first. ;)


One of the earlier reviews mentioned the kidnapping quest. It DOES happen a lot in NPC mods (Taisha, Saerileth, Fade, etc). But it is well done, and there is a nice twist to it. I still have visions of a crossmod kidnapping pack; however, where Ymmyrt's slavers and Pasha Pook's slavers encounter the party at the same time; each with vague orders to kidnap the red-haired teifling...



Hehee... :D

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