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Opinions on The Fields of the Dead?

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I am curious what people think of The Fields of the Dead.

 

I tried registering on Spellhold's forum a few days ago. The registrations have to be approved by hand apparently and I have not received any notice since then so I'll ask here.

 

It seems like this mod is mage-unfriendly. It removes the Ring of Wizardry from its early accessible location, making mages more boring to play at low levels; removes AC bonus from DEX while casting spells, so mages are easier to interrupt with missile weapons; and adds an extra school, for a total of two schools to each of the specialist opposition schools. This results, for example, in Edwin, formerly the most powerful mage of the game, being unable to cast:

 

- Magic Missile

- Chromatic Orb

- Stinking Cloud

- Web

- Fireball

- Lightning Bolt

 

since these are Evocations.

 

In the words of the space marines from Aliens, "What are we supposed to use? Strong language?"

 

It looks like the mod author is concerned only with the number of available spells impacted by the change, not which ones they are.

 

I am curious for people's opinions on this mod. Since for me, the fun of the game really revolves around magery, anything which makes it less fun to play a mage, or use NPC mages, is a real turnoff.

Edited by chuft

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I am curious what people think of The Fields of the Dead.

 

So am I.

 

It seems like this mod is mage-unfriendly. It removes the Ring of Wizardry from its early accessible location, making mages more boring to play at low levels; removes AC bonus from DEX while casting spells, so mages are easier to interrupt with missile weapons; and adds an extra school, for a total of two schools to each of the specialist opposition schools.

 

I love mages and I did not make FotD to make them less powerful. The RoW in the FAI is obviously just silly. Getting such a powerful item on level 1 is unbalanced. The one remaining RoW has become more powerful, however. The Dexterity penalty makes sense (and applies to all spellcasters) but will be removed as it is a bit buggy. As for opposition schools, I want the specialists to be equally powerful and some, like the Conjurer, hardly came with any penalty to offset the bonus spells.

 

This results, for example, in Edwin, formerly the most powerful mage of the game, being unable to cast:

 

- Magic Missile

- Chromatic Orb

- Stinking Cloud

- Web

- Fireball

- Lightning Bolt

 

since these are Evocations.

 

Edwin is still the most powerful mage in the game due to his additional bonus spell slots that are on top of the ones he gets as a Conjurer.

 

In the words of the space marines from Aliens, "What are we supposed to use? Strong language?"

 

The remaining spell schools, of course.

 

It looks like the mod author is concerned only with the number of available spells impacted by the change, not which ones they are.

 

Not true. I wanted each specialist to have a unique set of barred schools. There is one exception to this, though.

 

I am curious for people's opinions on this mod. Since for me, the fun of the game really revolves around magery, anything which makes it less fun to play a mage, or use NPC mages, is a real turnoff.

 

Due to all the new spells, I think playing a mage or any of the specialists is more fun now than it used to be.

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The RoW in the FAI is obviously just silly. Getting such a powerful item on level 1 is unbalanced.

 

Hmm. I don't think getting one extra first level spell per day (which is all the ring does at level 1) is unbalanced at all. On the contrary, I think low level mages in AD&D are weaker and more boring to play than any spellcasters in any game, pen'n'paper or computer, with which I am familiar (RPGing since 1979). Anything which beefs them up, even a measly bonus like one extra spell per 24 hours, is a great improvement at level 1. It certainly isn't unbalancing.

 

What *is* unbalancing is how overpowered missile weapons are in BG1; a fighter can shoot an arrow, through his friends, through his enemies' shield wall, and hit an enemy spellcaster far in the rear and interrupt his spell, with no targeting penalties whatsoever, no chance of his arrow hitting his friends in the back, or of hitting an enemy shield and getting stopped on the way. It is very rare for me to fight an enemy mage and have them even get off a single spell without being interrupted before they die. The problem is worse if they attempt to cast a higher level, longer-casting-time spell.

 

The Dexterity penalty makes sense (and applies to all spellcasters)

 

It might make sense, but then so would blocking all missile fire at a mage hiding behind his fighter friends holding large shields in the way. Since this common pen and paper tactic is not available in BG1, depriving mages of the measly Dex AC bonus is just an extra kick below the belt at an already weakened class in the game - especially since their archer opponents get to use Dex to help aim their arrows, with no line of sight penalties.

 

As for clerics, they can wear heavy armor and use shields; the situation is not comparable.

 

Do you disallow fighter/mages from using shields because it would tie up one of their hands while casting? That would make sense too.

 

It sounds like Edwin is, indeed, neutered, since those are basically all the spells I have him cast for the first two thirds of the game, the only exception being Sleep at low levels.

 

The early Easter eggs of the RoW, the RoP and the Wand of Frost are what make Level 1 mages bearable in the early going in BG1. Not sure I would want to play a mage without them - and I definitely would not take Edwin if he couldn't use any of the standard offensive spells.

 

Of course it's your mod and I expect you to defend it. But it does seem awfully mage-unfriendly at low levels, which the vanilla game already is to far too great an extent in my opinion. I don't want to make the situation worse by using a mage-crippling mod, which is why I am asking for opinions.

 

In pen and paper days, me and every other DM I knew always gave low level mages lots of magic items, extra spells based on Int the way clerics get them based on Wis, and other bonuses to make mages fun to play; otherwise nobody ever wanted to play them at low level. And of course, they could not be shot at if they were being protected by a wall of fighters, which they always were.

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After posting that I went back to my current game, where I was about to fight Ragefast the mage.

 

I finished the dialog, Ragefast went red and the game autopaused and I gave my orders, including an order to Edwin to cast Magic Missile. Ragefest died so fast from the arrow and crossbow fire that Edwin did not even get to cast Magic Missile before Ragefast hit the floor - a spell with a casting time of 1. Ragefast, of course, didn't get to cast anything either.

 

I remember BG2 did something to nerf missile weapons against spellcasters but I don't remember all the particulars. Maybe it was instant Contingencies to throw up Stoneskins, Mirror Images etc. as soon as an enemy was sighted. Mages certainly need something to defend against this murderous barrage of arrows at the start of every battle.

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Hmm. I don't think getting one extra first level spell per day (which is all the ring does at level 1) is unbalanced at all.

 

It is not just a +1 bonus, it is a 100% bonus. At 2nd level your mage will be able to memorise 4 spells instead of 2, 6 if he is a specialist. Having access to all spells comes with a price tag.

 

What *is* unbalancing is how overpowered missile weapons are in BG1; a fighter can shoot an arrow, through his friends, through his enemies' shield wall, and hit an enemy spellcaster far in the rear and interrupt his spell, with no targeting penalties whatsoever, no chance of his arrow hitting his friends in the back, or of hitting an enemy shield and getting stopped on the way. It is very rare for me to fight an enemy mage and have them even get off a single spell without being interrupted before they die. The problem is worse if they attempt to cast a higher level, longer-casting-time spell.

 

Yes, that is overpowered but should the wall of allies not likewise prevent the spellcaster from throwing direct damage spells at his enemies? Regardless, I have done a lot to protect enemy spellcasters in FotD. They basically use every spell at their disposal rather than just the same 10 spells that they would cast over and over previously. All enemies also use potions now. Personally I think mages are more challenging than they used to be but of course you would have to play the mod to judge that.

 

Do you disallow fighter/mages from using shields because it would tie up one of their hands while casting? That would make sense too.

 

I am not sure it says anywhere that both hands need to be free for spellcasting.

 

It sounds like Edwin is, indeed, neutered, since those are basically all the spells I have him cast for the first two thirds of the game, the only exception being Sleep at low levels.

 

Necromancy has a number of damage spells, Burning Hands and Shocking Grasp belong to Alteration, Melf's Acid Arrow and Flame Arrow belong to Conjuration, and honestly, until you reach 5-7th level spells that charm, hold, sleep, weaken, etc are more powerful than damage spells.

 

The early Easter eggs of the RoW, the RoP and the Wand of Frost are what make Level 1 mages bearable in the early going in BG1. Not sure I would want to play a mage without them - and I definitely would not take Edwin if he couldn't use any of the standard offensive spells.

 

I would not take these items even if they were still there. The game simply becomes too easy.

 

In pen and paper days, me and every other DM I knew always gave low level mages lots of magic items, extra spells based on Int the way clerics get them based on Wis, and other bonuses to make mages fun to play; otherwise nobody ever wanted to play them at low level.

 

I have done similar things in tabletop games, but FotD is not Echon's Houserules Mod, it is a P&P mod.

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After posting that I went back to my current game, where I was about to fight Ragefast the mage.

 

I finished the dialog, Ragefast went red and the game autopaused and I gave my orders, including an order to Edwin to cast Magic Missile. Ragefest died so fast from the arrow and crossbow fire that Edwin did not even get to cast Magic Missile before Ragefast hit the floor - a spell with a casting time of 1. Ragefast, of course, didn't get to cast anything either.

 

I remember BG2 did something to nerf missile weapons against spellcasters but I don't remember all the particulars. Maybe it was instant Contingencies to throw up Stoneskins, Mirror Images etc. as soon as an enemy was sighted. Mages certainly need something to defend against this murderous barrage of arrows at the start of every battle.

 

This is a great example of a battle that was easy to win before it even started. You cannot kill him like that in FotD. Well, I have done all I could to prevent you from doing so.

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It is not just a +1 bonus, it is a 100% bonus. At 2nd level your mage will be able to memorise 4 spells instead of 2, 6 if he is a specialist. Having access to all spells comes with a price tag.

 

So at first level he gets one extra spell per DAY, and at second level gets two extra spells per DAY. As compared to, say, an archer, who gets two arrows per ROUND, each of which do more damage than a Magic Missile.

 

Sorry, you'll never convince me the RoW is overpowered in the least. It is a pretty lame RoW actually, compared to the others that exist in the rules, or to the Ring of Holiness, which grants an extra 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th level spell to a cleric.

 

As far as price tags - I grew up with the game, and in 1st edition, which I consider the best, there were no specialist mages, and the "extra" spells they got in 2nd edition was a compensation for their crippling lack of spell selection. They were even more unpopular than regular mages at low levels. It was hard enough finding spells as it is, and rolling to learn them - but then having a lot of them just be un-learnable to boot? Ugh. Edwin is good because he gets even more spells and can (unless using your mod) use all the best ones. Otherwise I would never waste a party slot on a specialist mage.

 

Yes, that is overpowered but should the wall of allies not likewise prevent the spellcaster from throwing direct damage spells at his enemies?

 

What? Of course not. It's magic. It can operate at a distance.

 

The function of wizards in battles comes from the original Chainmail rules and the miniatures tradition of simulating field battles. Their role is that of artillery - indirect fire over the heads of the front line which is protecting them from the enemy front line. They basically should be impossible to get to other than with magic, so long as their front line is intact. The best counter to a wizard is another wizard. Or at least, that's how it should be. Combined arms should always beat a less diversified force. Pure archers should not always win.

 

It sounds like you subscribe to the "low level wizards should suffer because they get powerful later on" school of thought, rather than the "wizards should always be fun to play, even in BG1 at level 1" school of thought, so I suspect we'll never agree on anything having to do with them. I guess I learned what I need to know about the mod though, so thanks for responding. New spells would be interesting but not if I don't have the memorization slots to actually use them.

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It sounds like you subscribe to the "low level wizards should suffer because they get powerful later on" school of thought, rather than the "wizards should always be fun to play, even in BG1 at level 1" school of thought

I think it's rather the "low level mages in AD&D 2nd ed. pen and paper are hugely underpowered, deal with it" school of thought. The two opposition schools are from the stock p&p rules.

 

But removing the easter eggs may be a bit drastic for some tastes.

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In pen and paper the DM had a duty to make sure the players were having fun. The way to do this for low level mages was to make available, early on, powerful magic items only mages could use. Being able to use such items in fact is one of the main class advantages listed for mages.

 

As the first edition Player's Handbook stated, "There are many powerful items of magic which only this class of character can employ. Most magic scrolls, wands, staves, and many of the miscellaneous items of magic are usable only by this class."

 

Similarly, the Dungeon Master's Guide states "Because spell casting will be so difficult, most magic-users and clerics will opt to use magical devices whenever possible in melee, if they are wise."

 

The wizard's inherent spell casting ability is supposed to be supplemented, early and often, by powerful magic items specific to wizards. It's up to the DM (or the computer game maker) to make sure this is the case if he wants anyone to actually volunteer to roll up a first level magic-user. Wands, for example, are of little use to higher level mages; these characters can cast the same spells themselves, and do more dice of damage, than they could using a wand. Wands are primarily a joy to the lower level caster who can't cast that spell yet, or can only cast it once a day at the expense of some other spell. Similarly Rings of Wizardry make the most impact on lower level mages, who have few spells to cast when going "bare bones" and won't make much of an impact in combat without some tasty magic items.

 

Wands, having charges, are inherently self-balancing. You have to choose when to use them, and not waste them. The Ring of Wizardry provides a modest increase in the caster's native abilities, but it does not add any new spells, allow the casting of spells at a higher level of ability, remove any opposition schools for specialists, or any other powerful abilities. A wizard using Magic Missile and a Ring of Wizardry at 1st level is still going to do most of their damage in a day in the form of sling stone damage, not spells, despite their horrible THACO.

 

I don't think it's an accident that a Ring of Wizardry and a Wand of Frost can both be obtained by first level mages in the game without having to defeat any powerful foes to get them. Removing them just sucks the fun out of being a 1st level mage in BG1, a game where mages are already much weaker than they would be in pen and paper, where enemy archers would not be allowed to simply shoot through everybody, friend and foe, between the archer and the mage, and where bowshots would definitely always come AFTER 1 segment spells in the order of action, unlike BG1. In a pen and paper game I would always ensure a mage player got some nice items to make levels 1-4 bearable. (Having Fireball in your list of memorized spells probably triples, or more, the enjoyment of playing a mage.)

 

Even with the Ring of Wizardry and the Wand of Frost, being a 1st level mage in BG1 is still not very rewarding. It's just that most people don't realize it because they are controlling the whole party. If they were playing live multiplayer and controlling only the 1st level mage, they would be bored to tears. If they didn't even have the Ring and the Wand...I doubt they would volunteer to play the mage at all. I wouldn't.

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Incidentally the reason I am analyzing this so much instead of just trying it is because BG1 is such a long game. It's a real time commitment to play it through, especially when I could be playing IWD or BG2 instead, neither of which I have played for years (I have played BG1 several times recently and am playing it right now). I don't mean to disparage the mod, everyone's tastes are different. I just wanted to know what I would be getting into if I tried it.

 

I do think BG1 is probably too easy, but for a real challenge I would play it without bows, rather than making life harder for low level mages.

 

Either that or try to get through it with a 1 Reputation, although I am not sure that is possible since stores won't buy/sell with you at 1 Rep. Not sure if the Tweaks Pack reputation/stores tweak would alter that effect or not. Hard to live without stores in the game!

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It sounds like you subscribe to the "low level wizards should suffer because they get powerful later on" school of thought, rather than the "wizards should always be fun to play, even in BG1 at level 1" school of thought, so I suspect we'll never agree on anything having to do with them. I guess I learned what I need to know about the mod though, so thanks for responding.

 

I thought I had made it clear that I subscribe to P&P as far as FotD is concerned. If your history lessons and rulebook quotations are attempts to make me change my mind about the easter egg items, do not bother.

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Chuft, registrations don't need to be approved by hand at SHS -- if it still doesn't work, send me an email at kae at spellholdstudios dot net and I'll sort it out for you.

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Chuft, registrations don't need to be approved by hand at SHS -- if it still doesn't work, send me an email at kae at spellholdstudios dot net and I'll sort it out for you.

 

Thanks.

 

When I registered last week, I got an email saying

 

"Your registration request at Pocket Plane Group has been received, chuft.

 

The username you registered with was chuft and the password was ********

 

Before you can login and start using the forum, your request will be reviewed and approved. When this happens, you will receive another email from this address.

 

Regards,

The Pocket Plane Group Team."

 

 

so I have been waiting for that email. I just tried logging in and it says invalid name or password.

 

(The email supplied the password I used, I just asterisked it out for this post, so I know I'm using the right password.)

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That's because you registered at Pocket Plane Group; Spellhold Studios (SHS) is an entirely different community at www.shsforums.net/www.spellholdstudios.net :)

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Doh! :)

 

There is an explanation for this though. I simply misspoke when I said Spellhold Studios. What I was trying to say (and failing epically) was that I tried to register at the site where Fields of the Dead was hosted and has its forum (Pocket Plane Group), and never received approval so I couldn't discuss the mod there, thus my post here.

 

Sorry for the confusion.

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