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Suggestion for mage component


Guest Loz

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Hi there,

I'm playing your mod through and really enjoying the improved ai so far. However i have noticed in your mage component that the contingencies and triggers reset themselves every time you reload. Unfortunately this means that no mages are going to be immune to the dreaded insect plague, and regrettably i have taken full advantage of this. I went to the planar sphere almost immedietly after the irenicus dungeon and after a tough fight with kayardi and the rest of the halflings which was very enjoyable i was very much looking forward to the fights with tolgerias and lavok. Unfortunately it was all too easy to simply cover them with an insect plague the entire fight, and i suspect the same will be true of the rest of the mages in the game including irenicus. Perhaps liches will be a little more troublesome being immune too level 5 spells but i have not got to fighting them yet. I think the component would really benefit from certain mages, particuarly ones that are encountered on their own, to be tweaked to always have Immunity: Conjuration in their contingency. This would also remove the slightly jarring feeling you get when you reload and all their triggers etc are different. Also it is a little annoying that currently at level 10 i have no real way of penetrating the defenses of mages, since they have globe of invulnerability, making them immune to secret word etc, and breach no longer passes spell turning and the like. I'm sure this will improve once i reach level 12 and get pierce shield, but it is a little annoying to have to 'wait out' even level 14 mages.

 

Another way to deal with the insect plague problem would be to include a 'scrolls and wands for mages' component similar to the potions one for fighters. Since scrolls and wands can be used even at 100 cast failure and always succeed, they could be very useful in situations such as this. This would also have been a way to avoid the antimagic spell tweaks, since scrolls and wands bypass improved invisibility, but i guess its too late for that now.

 

Also a few more notes:

-thieves sometimes stay invisible and don't bother attacking unless you go close, leading me to have to find them at the end of a fight.

-I believe Shangalar of the twisted rune may still lack his lich like ability to see through invisibility.

-Some mages (particuarly low level ones. though perhaps becuase they run out faster) seem to just run around once they run out of spells, as opposed to engaging in melee.

-Some creatures no longer turn hostile when attacking. Noticed on the kobolds and the carrion crawler in the Lilacor quest.

-The autobuffing of mages seems a little lame sometime. Yes it is believeable that they would buff before a fight, but with 15+ protections? many of these are short duration spells and by the time the last one was cast the first would be running out again. Add to that the amount of spell slots that are needed to achive this, a PC mage would likely waste half their spell slots.

 

 

Finally i'd just like to say the ai in your mod definetly makes the battles in the game a lot more fun. Demon summoning mages have never been more enjoyable to battle. The potions component also makes fighters much more useful for enemy parties. As previously stated i am not yet that far in the mod, but from what i've seen so far it it a huge improvement over both the difficulty and enjoyment factor of battle in the vanilla game. It would be great if you could do something about the 'randomness' of triggers and contingencies since that would be my only real complaint so far.

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Another option would be to nerf Insect Plague, eg. to allow a save with a -4 penalty, similar to Summon Insects. I think Improved Anvil does something along these lines.

 

All I know is that the adpack spell-altering mod nerfs summon insects. Maybe it also nerfs summon plague as well - who knows?

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Another option would be to nerf Insect Plague, eg. to allow a save with a -4 penalty, similar to Summon Insects. I think Improved Anvil does something along these lines.

 

I'm not too keen on changing spells, I definetly agree that insect plague is overpowered, but if you are going to start changing every spell that is overpowered its going to get out of hand. Whats next? natures beauty? imprisonment? project image? improved alacrity? In the end you will simply remove what makes the game fun, and have a BG2 that no longer feels like it originally did. Druids are already have much less choice and versatility than clerics and are unable to dual or multi class as mages, i think having a couple of very good spells isn't too out of line for keeping them useful.

 

Also another thing i noticed, random mages in athkatla buffing themselves with among other things, stoneskin. It does look a little odd when you can't see the traditional colours of ribald etc. This was particuarly strange when i found all the actors in the play to be stoneskinned, I would imagine the spectators viewing the play were none too impressed with the costume designer.

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Another way to deal with the insect plague problem would be to include a 'scrolls and wands for mages' component similar to the potions one for fighters. Since scrolls and wands can be used even at 100 cast failure and

 

I like the idea.

 

This would also have been a way to avoid the antimagic spell tweaks, since scrolls and wands bypass improved invisibility, but i guess its too late for that now.

 

I never noticed this, is a bug?

 

Also it is a little annoying that currently at level 10 i have no real way of penetrating the defenses of mages, since they have globe of invulnerability, making them immune to secret word etc, and breach no longer passes spell turning and the like

 

Regarding Breach, it was your decision when you installed the mod. And anyway, you can always buy some high-level scrolls to help you out. :suspect:

 

The autobuffing of mages seems a little lame sometime. Yes it is believeable that they would buff before a fight, but with 15+ protections? many of these are short duration spells and by the time the last one was cast the first would be running out again. Add to that the amount of spell slots that are needed to achive this, a PC mage would likely waste half their spell slots

 

This is another decision of yours, Loz, and you can choose a less challenging pre-buff option next time. :blush: Sure, you didn't know the exact amount of defensive spells the enemy CPU would spend, but that's all.

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Also another thing i noticed, random mages in athkatla buffing themselves with among other things, stoneskin. It does look a little odd when you can't see the traditional colours of ribald etc. This was particuarly strange when i found all the actors in the play to be stoneskinned, I would imagine the spectators viewing the play were none too impressed with the costume designer.

 

Sorry, i can't follow you. Are you saying that the Stoneskin animation effect is annoying because it masks the spellcaster clothes colours? If so, i agree. :suspect:

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Another way to deal with the insect plague problem would be to include a 'scrolls and wands for mages' component similar to the potions one for fighters. Since scrolls and wands can be used even at 100 cast failure and

 

I like the idea.

 

Thanks!

 

This would also have been a way to avoid the antimagic spell tweaks, since scrolls and wands bypass improved invisibility, but i guess its too late for that now.

 

I never noticed this, is a bug?.

 

No i don't believe it is, the improved invisibility thing only ever extended to spells and i believe its been like this since the start of the bg series. Some enemies in ascension make use of this fact i believe, such as irenicus with his spell striking wand. I don't know how you guys have been removing his protections if you haven't been using scrolls and wands, just waiting his protections out? :suspect:

 

Also it is a little annoying that currently at level 10 i have no real way of penetrating the defenses of mages, since they have globe of invulnerability, making them immune to secret word etc, and breach no longer passes spell turning and the like

 

Regarding Breach, it was your decision when you installed the mod. And anyway, you can always buy some high-level scrolls to help you out. ;)

 

Its not a problem, i have managed the encounters fine, even at this low level, i was merely pointing out that 14th level mages(i think) being almost impervious to 10th level parties may seem a bit off. The reason is it just encourages lame tactics against them such as avoiding them and waiting out their protections or getting them to waste spells as opposed to battling them fair and square. For me the most enjoyable fights are the ones that are very difficult, but do not require or encourage too much of this kind of waiting. I have no problem with 18+ mages being almost immune to low level parties.

 

The autobuffing of mages seems a little lame sometime. Yes it is believeable that they would buff before a fight, but with 15+ protections? many of these are short duration spells and by the time the last one was cast the first would be running out again. Add to that the amount of spell slots that are needed to achive this, a PC mage would likely waste half their spell slots

 

This is another decision of yours, Loz, and you can choose a less challenging pre-buff option next time. :blush: Sure, you didn't know the exact amount of defensive spells the enemy CPU would spend, but that's all.

 

Again i am not complaing about the difficulty, once you get spell strike they all go down together anyway right? Only about the realism, and the fact that enemy mages are perhaps doing something you can't really do here, starting a fight with many short duration protections at full duration.

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Some mages (particularly low level ones. though perhaps because they run out faster) seem to just run around once they run out of spells, as opposed to engaging in melee.

 

 

In addition to this, the last Sequencer for mages is Invisibility and Mirror Image, not usually a problem but after using it the mage will run and hide, then do absolutely nothing until the spell duration expires, which is 24 game hours. I'd normally dispel it, but I'm doing a Solo Berserker run through with SCS II and I have no counter for this except to CLUA in a True Sight scroll, because every experience point and gold piece counts.

 

As an aside, "mage/mages" showing up as a spelling error is weird on G3. :suspect:

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Cool, lots of interesting stuff here.

 

Starting with the easy stuff: there's a known glitch with v5 thief AI, to be sorted out in v6 (hopefully out next week). And yes, mages need better "I'm out of spells, so ATTAAAACK!" scripting - again, added for v6. And Shangalar lacks see-thru-invisibility; will fix.

 

Buffing levels is always a bit tricky; I've just had another look. Taking (say) a 15th level mage as a baseline case, s/he gets, if maximum-buffing options are installed:

 

Stoneskin

Melf's Minute Meteors

Protection from Fire OR Cold OR Magic Energy

Spell Immunity to Divination OR Abjuration OR Conjuration

Globe of Invulnerability

Shadow Door

Spirit Armor

Protection from Normal Missiles

Mirror Image

 

Of these, Stoneskin and Melf last long enough to have been cast before the mage last slept. Protection from Fire lasts 15 turns. Protection from Normal Missiles lasts 5 turns. Spirit Armor lasts 10 turns. Mirror Image lasts 18 rounds, and Globe of Invulnerability and Spell Immunity last 15 rounds each. So only three of the buffs are realistically going to run out in combat, and they'd run out only slightly later with SCSII prebuffing than "for real". This looks okay for me. (You'll notice I'm fairly careful not to cast genuinely short-duration spells - like Mantle - in prebuffs.)

 

Spell slots is a fairer point. This guy has 5/5/5/5/5/2/1 spells. Ignoring Stoneskin and Melf, his buffs use up (in a worst-case scenario) 0/1/1/1/1/2 slots. This is basically okay, but not perfect at 6th level. I don't think it's terrible, though.

 

(I don't make too much effort to get spell slots precisely right, just because the vanilla game is so hopeless at it (wizards' memorised spells bear only the faintest resemblance to the number they'd be entitled to). But I try to stay vaguely sane.)

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Splitting the post for ease of reading:

 

Stoneskin by non-combatants... again tricky. I'd actually rather just turn off the stoneskin coloration, on aesthetic grounds (at least for enemies) but I don't know how, or even if it's possible (I suspect not, at least without hacking the engine). But the thing is, if you lived in Athkatla and could cast Stoneskin - come to that, if you lived in Manhattan and could cast Stoneskin - wouldn't you do it first thing in the morning? That's what I'm trying to simulate. (It also means you can't backstab about-to-go-hostile wizards, but that's a fringe benefit, not the main point.)

 

As for the impossibility of piercing the defences of L14 mages at L10, I think that's probably a feature, not a bug. (Yes, it's doubtless annoying). As someone pointed out, the Breach component is optional. But in any case, the "hack-em-up" strategy should work - very few such mages are immune to normal weapons, after all.

 

I'm not much minded to de-randomise sequencers. To be honest I don't see the motivation to, and I think it discourages metagaming. (You may know what's in a wizard's sequencers, but your character doesn't!)

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The trickiest bit is Insect Plague, an issue I dithered over for a while when writing SCSII. It's slightly better for liches, of course - and spell sequencers and contingencies help - but ultimately it's just too damn good. I could put spell immunity:conjuration into every contingency, but it feels odd and awfully specialised.

 

Equally I've been quite reluctant to edit the spell, for very much the reasons someone gives above: where do you stop? I was quite keen in writing SCSII to preserve the flavour of BG2, warts and all, and not go for the wholesale spell-revision of Improved Anvil (this isn't intended as a criticism; different people have different style preferences). So generally I've kept spell changes to a minimum.

 

However, with Insect Plague I'm beginning to feel minded to make an exception. I don't much like giving a saving throw (it adds yet more randomness) but I wondered about removing the casting penalty. It's still damn hard to cast through an insect plague because of the damage; Stoneskin blocks damage but will be eaten through very quickly. What do people think? (As always, this would be an optional component).

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I have to say on the metagaming point, that to be honest everyone here is metagaming to a degree since likely the only people installing a tactical mod will be people who have completed the game several times. The thing is i enjoy trying out different tactics on boss encounters and seeing what works - perhaps this playstyle seems off to some but its what i enjoy doing. This unfortunately isn't very easy when the mage bosses are changing their spell triggers each time. It doesn't bother me so much with random mages around the game, but perhaps it would be possible to include some kind of optional component to remove the randomness at least from certain important set piece mage battles in the game, such as the irenicus fights, twisted rune, assorted lich fights, lavok, suneer etc. I can't imagine it would be too difficult to code since if i am right in thinking you have already done this for some mages, but of course it the designers choice. :suspect:

 

On insect plague - your idea of how to nerf is probably the best way if you do go ahead. The thing about insect plague is its so long, 6 rounds(even creeping doom is only 3) of no spellcasting is hard enough to survive, but since its only a level 5 spell, a druid is free to memorise enough of them to keep the mages disabled the whole fight. If you change it in another way however, such as giving it a saving throw, it will just become a save or else spell like any other and lose what makes it worth casting. I still think it might be worth considering adding a scrolls and wands component to mages even with this nerf, as it seems realistic that most mages would carry some scrolls with them, and high level ones wands aswell. This also enables them to survive other incidents of their spellcasting being disabled.

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I have to say on the metagaming point, that to be honest everyone here is metagaming to a degree since likely the only people installing a tactical mod will be people who have completed the game several times. The thing is i enjoy trying out different tactics on boss encounters and seeing what works - perhaps this playstyle seems off to some but its what i enjoy doing. This unfortunately isn't very easy when the mage bosses are changing their spell triggers each time.

I see that must make things annoying. As always SCSII tends to be based around my play style, and actually I'm only on my third playthrough, so I guess that affects things... to be honest (and this may sound silly) one of the reasons for so much randomisation is that I don't want to spoil the game for myself too much by having to peek at all the encounters! (I mean, obviously I remember the major ones, but...)

 

 

On insect plague - your idea of how to nerf is probably the best way if you do go ahead. The thing about insect plague is its so long, 6 rounds(even creeping doom is only 3) of no spellcasting is hard enough to survive, but since its only a level 5 spell, a druid is free to memorise enough of them to keep the mages disabled the whole fight. If you change it in another way however, such as giving it a saving throw, it will just become a save or else spell like any other and lose what makes it worth casting.

Yes, I agree, there are millions of those.

 

I still think it might be worth considering adding a scrolls and wands component to mages even with this nerf, as it seems realistic that most mages would carry some scrolls with them, and high level ones wands aswell. This also enables them to survive other incidents of their spellcasting being disabled.

Oh, sorry, I should have replied to that idea.

 

What worries me about it is that it could easily get out of hand. I notice that the potions component results in the party picking up rather too many potions, but the effects of that on the game are manageable. But if I scattered mid-to-high level scrolls over a couple of hundred wizards, I feel it might do more harm than good - the party would inevitably end up with a vast storehouse of spell scrolls.

 

(It would be a bit of a pain to add, too, but that's secondary. I could have done it at the start without much trouble, I decided not to for these reasons.)

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I don't much like giving a saving throw (it adds yet more randomness) but I wondered about removing the casting penalty.

 

While this sounds neat in theory, I fear it may cause issues with older mods (and non-DS mods) which use CheckStatLT(Myself,100,SPELLFAILUREMAGE) for detecting Insect Plague instead of !CheckStatGT(Myself,0,CLERIC_INSECT_PLAGUE) (DS version).

 

Therefore, I'd be more inclined to add a saving throw to the spell and/or remove the area effect (which is cheesy anyway since you can target party members/summons and have the effect spread onto invisible enemies).

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