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SCS balance discussion

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I want to voice my opinion on the pre-buff issue;

 

First, I agree that non-prebuffed mages would be too easy. I'm not sure which spells they still prebuff with even under that option of SCS, but I suspected it would trivialize most mage fights.

Stoneskin, Melf's minute meteors, Armor.

 

Regarding the meta-game explanation for pre-buffing, (Scrying, hidden alarms, etc.) I think we should keep in mind AD&D's round system; One combat round is 6 seconds, a turn is 10 rounds or one minute.

 

Actually, in AD&D a round is one minute. BG2 works in a ten-game-seconds-to-one-real-second ratio (similarly, you need to leave the game unpaused for 2.4 real hours to go from sunrise to sunrise).

 

Now, as regards to the prebuffing rationale, it's a bit farfetched to assume every enemy mage would be able to predict the PC party's arrival to within just a few seconds, or even less than a minute. It would only take a minute miscalculation, or an unexpected delay for the party, and the mage would literally be standing there with his pants down and his protections expired, if he buffed up prematurely.

 

The difficulty is: prebuffing is basically simulating what the party can do. And the party can do this: with a modicum of scouting etc, it's dead easy to have shortish-duration buffs running when a fight starts.

 

If you want to go further, you could even include Diviners who always perfectly prebuff, the rationale being that they can predict the party more skillfully, as well as Conjurers not getting to prebuff at all, because they lack divination.

Cute... but I don't use diviners, their spell range is too restricted.

 

And talking about intermediate options; Is my request for Prot. from Normal Missiles excluding +2 and higher enchantments still on the table, or have you decided against it?

 

It's on my list of cute ideas for when I next update SCS, yes.

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Stoneskin, Melf's minute meteors, Armor.

 

I suspected something like that. With BG1 spells only, that's a huge gap in efficiency between the no prebuff/prebuff choices. Which means a third option appears to make a lot of sense.

 

Actually, in AD&D a round is one minute. BG2 works in a ten-game-seconds-to-one-real-second ratio (similarly, you need to leave the game unpaused for 2.4 real hours to go from sunrise to sunrise).

 

Ah, my mistake. I just looked it up to find that AD&D 1st Ed. had 6 second 'segments' and that optional 12-15 second 'combat rounds' were later introduced. Nevermind then.

 

The difficulty is: prebuffing is basically simulating what the party can do. And the party can do this: with a modicum of scouting etc, it's dead easy to have shortish-duration buffs running when a fight starts.

 

It's a good argument. but I'm not requesting pre-buffing to be dismantled entirely, but for an additional option to be added for 'casual but not too casual' players who don't prebuff for every fight, and who don't necessarily require enemy NPCs to play at their best theoretically possible skill. As others said, an unpreventable MGoI on every mage leaves few tactics for a player. If there's variance in how prebuffed a mage is, that'll add some unpredictability, and gives more options to the player.

 

Cute... but I don't use diviners, their spell range is too restricted.

 

Yeah I know you don't use all specialist classes. I don't fully understand why though. Spells don't get more powerful if they're from the specialist school, so a diviner would be less restricted than an invoker. Even if classes are more restricted, that would mean they'd have to use more unconventional spell allocations. More variance = more fun, IMHO.

Yeah, a mage who doesn't have access to the most important defensive spells might turn out to be a pushover, but NPCs shouldn't choose their class according to powergaming principles. To some extent, the same goes for spell choices; we can't assume that every mage in Faerun has already found/bought all the most effective spells there are, and transcribed them into his personal spellbook. There's room for choice between avoiding obvious stinkers like infravision, and having memorized a full complement of spells that are custom-tailored to take on a 6 man player party. Larloch's Minor Drain and Chromatic Orb may be sub-optimal, but it's not unreasonable to assume any mage (not just a specialist) might have them memorized instead or in addition to Magic Missile.

 

It's on my list of cute ideas for when I next update SCS, yes.

 

Sweet!

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Stoneskin, Melf's minute meteors, Armor.

 

I suspected something like that. With BG1 spells only, that's a huge gap in efficiency between the no prebuff/prebuff choices. Which means a third option appears to make a lot of sense.

 

Actually, in AD&D a round is one minute. BG2 works in a ten-game-seconds-to-one-real-second ratio (similarly, you need to leave the game unpaused for 2.4 real hours to go from sunrise to sunrise).

 

Ah, my mistake. I just looked it up to find that AD&D 1st Ed. had 6 second 'segments' and that optional 12-15 second 'combat rounds' were later introduced. Nevermind then.

 

The difficulty is: prebuffing is basically simulating what the party can do. And the party can do this: with a modicum of scouting etc, it's dead easy to have shortish-duration buffs running when a fight starts.

 

It's a good argument. but I'm not requesting pre-buffing to be dismantled entirely, but for an additional option to be added for 'casual but not too casual' players who don't prebuff for every fight, and who don't necessarily require enemy NPCs to play at their best theoretically possible skill. As others said, an unpreventable MGoI on every mage leaves few tactics for a player. If there's variance in how prebuffed a mage is, that'll add some unpredictability, and gives more options to the player.

There already is variance, though: it's in which spells a mage has in the first place. Specifically, a 7th level wizard has a 25% chance of MGI, an 8th-11th level wizard has a 50% chance, and a 12th-plus level wizard has a 67% chance.

 

Cute... but I don't use diviners, their spell range is too restricted.

 

Yeah I know you don't use all specialist classes. I don't fully understand why though. Spells don't get more powerful if they're from the specialist school, so a diviner would be less restricted than an invoker.Even if classes are more restricted, that would mean they'd have to use more unconventional spell allocations.

 

Actually, checking my notes I'm misremembering. I don't use Abjurers and Transmuters because they lack access to some "core" defensive and antimagic spells, so I'd have to rebuild the core defence part of the mage scripts from the ground up. I'm not sure I could do that effectively and I certainly don't want the work.

 

I don't use Diviners and Illusionists because there's nothing terribly distinctive about them in the BG/BG2 setting. In terms of attack spells, we have

 

Enchantment: mind-affecting stuff like Sleep, Emotion, Chaos, Dominate

Evocation: direct damage stuff like Fireball and Magic Missile

Conjuration: various stuff, but notably Summoning spells (and later, Power Words and Wish)

Necromancy: a mixture of stuff, all of which is fairly distinctive

 

The same isn't really true of Divination and Illusion. And the point of giving out speciality classes was to get a bit more variety in the range of spells used.

 

More variance = more fun, IMHO.

Yeah, but more variance = more work too, and there's a tradeoff. I don't think the added interest of using the other four kits justifies the work.

 

There's room for choice between avoiding obvious stinkers like infravision, and having memorized a full complement of spells that are custom-tailored to take on a 6 man player party.

The great majority of mages you meet in BG1 and BG2 are expecting to meet a 6-man player party when you meet them (sure, there are plenty of exceptions). Players choose their spells to fit the situation; shouldn't wizards do the same?

 

In any case, actually my spell selection is randomised from a list of spells that strike me as worth memorising. If some BG spell isn't used in SCS, it's either because there's no way I'd memorise that spell myself in any circumstances (Larloch's Minor Drain, anyone?) or because I can't effectively script for its use because of scripting limitations.

Larloch's Minor Drain and Chromatic Orb may be sub-optimal, but it's not unreasonable to assume any mage (not just a specialist) might have them memorized instead or in addition to Magic Missile.

I use Chromatic Orb fairly extensively, at least in BG1. (About 1 Orb per 2.5 MM.) But why is it "not unreasonable to assume" that a mage might have memorized Larloch's Minor Drain instead of Magic Missile? In almost all circumstances it's an objectively worse choice.

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There already is variance, though: it's in which spells a mage has in the first place. Specifically, a 7th level wizard has a 25% chance of MGI, an 8th-11th level wizard has a 50% chance, and a 12th-plus level wizard has a 67% chance.

 

Ok, that looks very reasonable.

 

Actually, checking my notes I'm misremembering. I don't use Abjurers and Transmuters because they lack access to some "core" defensive and antimagic spells, so I'd have to rebuild the core defence part of the mage scripts from the ground up. I'm not sure I could do that effectively and I certainly don't want the work.

 

I don't use Diviners and Illusionists because there's nothing terribly distinctive about them in the BG/BG2 setting.And the point of giving out speciality classes was to get a bit more variety in the range of spells used.

Yeah, but more variance = more work too, and there's a tradeoff. I don't think the added interest of using the other four kits justifies the work.

 

The absence of certain spells would make them distinctive, but I understand if the amount of work required is prohibitive, compared to the result.

 

The great majority of mages you meet in BG1 and BG2 are expecting to meet a 6-man player party when you meet them (sure, there are plenty of exceptions). Players choose their spells to fit the situation; shouldn't wizards do the same?

 

Well, to be fair, we can't assume even the plot-line opponents spend the entirety of their day waiting for the PC to arríve, or that the PC party is the only threat they need to prepare against. Nevertheless, I get your point.

 

In any case, actually my spell selection is randomised from a list of spells that strike me as worth memorising. If some BG spell isn't used in SCS, it's either because there's no way I'd memorise that spell myself in any circumstances (Larloch's Minor Drain, anyone?) or because I can't effectively script for its use because of scripting limitations.

 

I use Chromatic Orb fairly extensively, at least in BG1. (About 1 Orb per 2.5 MM.) But why is it "not unreasonable to assume" that a mage might have memorized Larloch's Minor Drain instead of Magic Missile? In almost all circumstances it's an objectively worse choice.

 

LMD may not have been the best example, as MM is so ubiquitous. And for higher level spells, you already seem to have plenty of variance. Still a mage, especially one without a cleric buddy, might have a one or two memorized as last-ditch healing, in addition to MMs. The lower level a mage is (less total hp, less missiles per MM, less access to healing potions) the more valid an alternative LMD is. It also works for enchanters, which don't get MM at all.

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I use Chromatic Orb fairly extensively, at least in BG1. (About 1 Orb per 2.5 MM.) But why is it "not unreasonable to assume" that a mage might have memorized Larloch's Minor Drain instead of Magic Missile? In almost all circumstances it's an objectively worse choice.

 

Apologies in advance for the tangent to follow:

 

It's long been a pipe dream of mine... because I lack the skills to realize it... But I have always hoped a modder would one day make it so that specialist mages enjoy susbtantial bonuses when casting their own school's spells. I.e., amp up the specialty school spells compared with a generalist mage. I'd also throw in a slight penalty to opposition school spells. Ideally, I would like to see such bonuses follow a sliding scale according to caster's level. So at low level the bonuses are noticeable, but not tremendously game changing. But at high level those specialty school spells would be very badass indeed.

 

Anyway, under such a system it would truly mean something for a mage to specialize in a school of magic.

 

I think this could be especially satisfying where enemy mages are concerned. Depending on how great the bonuses and tweaks to specialty schools spells are, I would think certain types of specialists could be devastating.

Edited by Lemernis

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LMD may not have been the best example, as MM is so ubiquitous. And for higher level spells, you already seem to have plenty of variance. Still a mage, especially one without a cleric buddy, might have a one or two memorized as last-ditch healing, in addition to MMs.

In practice, though, a spellcaster who is using his round's action to heal 4 hit points has basically already lost.

 

The lower level a mage is (less total hp, less missiles per MM, less access to healing potions) the more valid an alternative LMD is.

Fair point: at 1st and 2nd level things are different. I don't allow for that basically out of laziness: it doesn't seem worth it.

 

It also works for enchanters, which don't get MM at all.

Also true. (Though SCS uses Sleep/Spook/Charm Person in that slot instead.)

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(generally about LMD&)...heal 4 hit points has basically already lost...
That's only for now... as in, if somebody will make the Larloch's Minor Drain to affect 1d4+1/3 level up to 30th level(1d4+10), you might wish to reconsider, right? Or... Edited by Jarno Mikkola

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(generally about LMD&)...heal 4 hit points has basically already lost...
That's only for now... as in, if somebody will make the Larloch's Minor Drain to affect 1d4+1/3 level up to 30th level(1d4+10), you might wish to reconsider, right?

 

I'll grant the counterfactual: if LMD had worked that way, I would have reconsidered.

 

Allowing for mod-changed spells, though, is tricky, largely because SCS has to work with the unmodified spell too. I make some allowance for SR and am likely to make more in the future, but it's never straightforward.

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Well, I'm newbie with SCS, but I decided to try it after completing Durlag's Tower in my TUTU solo no-reload. Still, some thoughts:

 

Larloch's Minor Drain or Chromatic Orb are very viable choices of an enemy mage (although Sleep and Blindness are alsovery good alternatives). Magic Missile is extremely good, but not versus mages with pre-buff Shield (which negates MM). In this case, even a Minor Drain is much more effective than MM.

 

I usually use Minor Drains in my solo-games as some sort of healing spell - resting with an wounded mage and casting Minor Drains or Vampiric touches on an item on the ground(or nearby chest) until fully healed. Works fine as well when PC needs short-time HP boost (for example, entering a trap, dealing significant amount of damage against which PC cannot for some reason protect against). So Minor Drain is a very versatile and useful spell.

 

I like enemy pre-buffs (kinda accustomed to higher-level mage prebuffs in Improved Anvil, so these are no different). And it's still extremely possible to cheat the SCS AI, at least with a solo. For example, vs that cleric in Nashkel, PC entered the tavern averagely buffed, the cleric started casting 'Hold Person', PC equipped Free action ring. Hold person hit, PC unequipped ring, enemy cleric started a second Hold Person, PC re-equipped Free Action ring...i.e. in this case was used the 'item recognition' exploit.

 

Enemy wizard buffs can be 'waited out' under Invisibility. Even a buff like Stoneskin (it lasts 12 hours, while Invisibility lasts 24). Works like charm for a soloer...altjough I will test more, since it seems that enemy mages re-activate their initial buffs after PC breaks invisibility (no resting).

 

Also, while the game engine is splendid in 'tracking' an invisible or hidden PC, there are still some exploits which may be used, examples:

 

Taking out enemies with large groups of summons, while PC is invisible. Works like a charm for a M/C, C or F/M/C with sanctuary/invisibility + Animate dead. In addition, enemy casters (since they see no legal target for their Hold Person, Sleep or other spells) tend to waste them (in some occasions) vs the immune Undead. Some would say that 'Invisibility Purge' for enemy clerics would fix that. No. PC can simply walk away out of the range of the Purge (it has a long casting time).

 

Separating enemies is still possible to some extent.

 

I will do much more testing (wanna try a solo-noreload SCS some day), and will post the more interesting facts.SCS, from what I see so far, is a great mod, much like Improved Anvil.

 

Just one thing to DavidW - IMHO casual (non-unique) enemies should not be allowed to go over the TOTSC xp cap in both experience and according level. They can still be made extremely tough - for example, an enemy 9-th level mage can be made a specialist (for more spell slots) and still legitimately have (and use) a 6-th level spell scroll in his inventory. Or the enemy mage may be dual-class cleric 1-> specialist 9 (which allows usage of helmet, shield and cleric-specific items like Wand of the Heaven).

Basilius can also be lower level (10), but can have a Wand of the Heavens, which will free his 5-th level spell slots for other choices, like Slay Living.

 

Also I noticed that although Basillus was hit 4 times while casting Flame Strike (3 melee and 1 from Magic Missile), his casting was not interrupted.

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You forget you cannot dual class at level 1. :)

 

Icen

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Yes, well, then would be Cleric 2 -> specialist mage 9. It's still possible under TOTSC xp cap.

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Just one thing to DavidW - IMHO casual (non-unique) enemies should not be allowed to go over the TOTSC xp cap in both experience and according level. They can still be made extremely tough - for example, an enemy 9-th level mage can be made a specialist (for more spell slots) and still legitimately have (and use) a 6-th level spell scroll in his inventory. Or the enemy mage may be dual-class cleric 1-> specialist 9 (which allows usage of helmet, shield and cleric-specific items like Wand of the Heaven).

Basilius can also be lower level (10), but can have a Wand of the Heavens, which will free his 5-th level spell slots for other choices, like Slay Living.

 

I'd need to hear a good reason for this.

 

Also I noticed that although Basillus was hit 4 times while casting Flame Strike (3 melee and 1 from Magic Missile), his casting was not interrupted.

 

Vanilla-game issue, hitting NPC spellcasters (especially clerics) doesn't reliably disrupt them. (I actually wouldn't be surprised if this is a deliberate cheat by the game designers to make it viable for clerics to get spells off.)

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Just one thing to DavidW - IMHO casual (non-unique) enemies should not be allowed to go over the TOTSC xp cap in both experience and according level. They can still be made extremely tough - for example, an enemy 9-th level mage can be made a specialist (for more spell slots) and still legitimately have (and use) a 6-th level spell scroll in his inventory. Or the enemy mage may be dual-class cleric 1-> specialist 9 (which allows usage of helmet, shield and cleric-specific items like Wand of the Heaven).

Basilius can also be lower level (10), but can have a Wand of the Heavens, which will free his 5-th level spell slots for other choices, like Slay Living.

 

I'd need to hear a good reason for this.

 

 

I think that the AI improvement doesn't need to be augmented further by enhancing enemy levels. I remember reading on Bioware forums about SCSII - how an entire mid-leveled bandit group slaughtered a higher level player party with just using superior AI (better target picking, spell usage and spell selection). IMHO this is sufficient for difficulty.

 

To me, it makes far more sense that a not-so-high leveled enemy might have obtained powerful items to use (Wand of the Heavens or 1-2 high level spell scrolls being a good example) rather than encountering an absurdly high leveled enemy. In addition, meeting equally leveled spellcaster will actually give a chance to a player's Dispel/Remove magic, which otherwise seem pretty useless when they should help most. In addition, due to vanilla game bug, dispel/remove magic doesn't dispel anything cast by an even 1 level higher caster (i.e. 10th level Dispel magic should have 30% of dispelling enemy 12th level caster buffs, but if you test it, you'll find that in fact it never dispels them).

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Also I noticed that although Basillus was hit 4 times while casting Flame Strike (3 melee and 1 from Magic Missile), his casting was not interrupted.

 

Vanilla-game issue, hitting NPC spellcasters (especially clerics) doesn't reliably disrupt them. (I actually wouldn't be surprised if this is a deliberate cheat by the game designers to make it viable for clerics to get spells off.)

 

Although being overall happy with and grateful for SCS implementations, would remark, that I also experience much more frequent - if not exceptional - occurences of uninterruptable NPC spellcastings with this fine Mod.

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You forget you cannot dual class at level 1. :)

Icen

Actually, you can. It just requires the character to have more experience than the 2nd level level-up requirement to attain the ability to dual, so even lv1 mage can dual to a cleric for example, but he has to all ready have the 2500xp to do it, and as you know, the extra and so all the 2500 will be lost for nothing... but on the othar had it won't be reduced from the level cap limit either. Edited by Jarno Mikkola

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