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Some balance/difficulty questions


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As I'm preparing for a new game with SCS installed, I'm somewhat worried about the difficulty reported by some people. So I have questions...


First, a few general questions:


(1) If I find a component makes an encounter too difficult, and uninstall it, is there anything I should take into account, such as having to go back to a save from before I entered the map (or even worse, before I entered it for the first time), or will the changes be effective immediately?


(2) With the added protection for arcane and divine casters, as well as the increased levels of some important enemies, I'm worried about being able to bring their protections down (having a low chance with Dispel Magic and no second 3rd-level slot for most of the game). Any comments about this? Any recommendations about tactics? I *really* don't want to increase the number of fighters in my party beyond 2...


(3) Too much poison?

As if there isn't enough of that in BG already. I remember one particular game where there weren't any antidotes to be had any more in most shops. So how does the supply of antidotes hold up with the increase in the number of enemies who use poison?


About specific components:


(1) PNM protects against most magical arrows

I'd like to know if that applies to party members as well as enemy mages.


(2) Better calls for help + Potions for NPCs

Uh...this combination seems to be an altogether too drastic increase in the difficulty of standard battles. Or not? I remember some early bandit ambushes that weren't so easy to begin with.


(3) Caster pre-buffing

See above. My main worry is that mage encounters will go from ridiculously easy to ridiculously hard this way, particularly when combined with the improved PNM, because of the lack of reasonably reliable Abjuration spells.


(4) Harder spiders

Will this make all Phase Spiders on a map teleport to one battle location? If yes, then I'd rather skip this one.


(5) Harder Doppelgangers

This doesn't touch the Greater ones, does it?


(6) Improved Demon Cultists.

Uh...improved? I found that battle rather hard to begin with, mostly because of Aec-Letec itself. I am an experienced player, but I have little patience with multiple reloads. So what can I expect here with a L7-8 party which is not optimal for powergaming?


OK, that was it. I guess I'll try most of the SCS components and see how I'll hold up. But I'm interested in any tactical hints and other recommendations anyway.

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I might not be the best person to answer all of these, as obviously I'm biased, but here goes anyway:


General questions:


(1) [uninstalling] Most SCS changes affect creature scripts; they'll be effective immediately. (If you uninstall Smarter General AI, you'll probably find one or two creatures have potions that they don't use). When SCS edits a creature's statistics, you'll normally have to go back to before the first time you entered the area, but this happens relatively rarely. A very few creatures will stand around like idiots because they're trying to use scripts that don't exist any more; again, you'll have to go back to before you entered to rectify this. If you uninstall "improved chapter 3 assassin deployment" at the wrong moment, you might end up with two (or no) copies of the assassins, depending on where you've explored.


... this is all based on theory. In practice, people seem to report that they've switched components in and out without major mishap.


(2) [dispelling mage buffs] Arrows of Dispelling are invaluable in the later game. Beyond that, I'll leave this to others to comment upon.


(3) [poison] I don't deliberately increase the number of antidote potions, but in practice if you're using some of the other AI components (e.g. Smarter Mages/Priests) you'll find that enemies often have antidote potions they don't actually need to drink. I certainly wasn't running short on my own playthrough.


Actually, SCS doesn't dramatically increase the amount of poison. The exception is the Kobold Guards in Nashkel Mines, but their poison isn't actually all that lethal.


About specific components:


(1) [PNM]


Yes, it applies to party mages as well as enemies (SCS makes a fairly sustained effort to play fair). Enemy archers will notice the (fairly distinctive) protective aura after a round or two and will stop targetting you, though (if you use Improved General AI). And PNM won't stop "exotic" missiles like winter wolf breath weapons or ochre jelly slime.


(2) [better calls for help + Potions for NPCs]

I'd say it's a "significant" rather than "drastic" increase in the difficulty. But different people have very different difficulty preferences. See what others think.



(3) [Caster pre-buffing]

Nothing extra to add.


(4) [Harder spiders - Will this make all Phase Spiders on a map teleport to one battle location?]


No, it's not that crude. It gives every phase spider on the map an independent but not all that high chance of teleporting in once you're already fighting phase spiders. I forget the actual numbers. It also gives a phase spider some chance of just randomly turning up.


(5) [Harder Doppelgangers - This doesn't touch the Greater ones, does it?]

'Fraid so, sorry.


(6) [improved Demon Cultists.]

I don't touch Aec'letec, because as you say, he's lethal enough as it is! I do upgrade the wizard with Aec'letec a bit, and I let the stooges in the summoning room defend themselves. But the improvements are more aimed at the waves of cultists you meet in Ulgoth's Beard and in the room above the summoning room than they are at the demon battle.

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