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Syvishtar's Journal


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I've always wanted to do a Let's Play of the greatest mod compilation of Baldur's Gate II. Good mods, bad mods, all mods. A celebration of the work that has been going into this game and this community for about 10 years now. And I started doing it on the Something Awful forums. It's actually still in progress there, but I realize that not everybody can access it. So I wanted to re-post it here and let more people read it. Let's get started!


Let's Play Rules


I want to set down some ground rules to make the game more interesting.


1. Semi-hardcore mode: What happens, happens. I will only reload if I die. I don't expect to be able to do this Ironman style, although that's my goal. But if Minsc gets disintegrated, then he's gone. But this mod brings in so many additional NPCs that replacing a dead one is no trouble. In fact, with enough treasure we can bribe random dudes on the street (or even animals, golems, beholders, dragons...) to join our party. As long as one NPC lives in the Sword Coast we will never be without cannon fodder friends. I also won't cheat in any way.


2. Blissful Ignorance Roleplaying: I need to make this a game I want to play, so I've picked my own character. He is a chaotic neutral wild mage. He'a s wild mage because I want to play a wild mage, and he's chaotic neutral because you all are the voices in his crazy wild mage head that he listens to in order to make decisions. I will poll the thread for every major plot decision, and go with whatever vote is the majority. That's about as chaotic neutral as things can possibly get. Make yourselves heard! Also, there are so, so many mods in this game that its practically brand-new. I worry that if I spend hours on a German-language message board just to figure out the optimal path to take in yet another maze of conversation options I'll never finish the game. So if you want to help me out in research and meta-gaming I'd also appreciate it.


3. Class-changing characters: There are approximately 100 classes total now in this game, and while some of the characters that can join our party have been changed to new classes, some still haven't. Also, sometimes you just think a character would be great as another class. So sometimes I will change a character's class when I first meet them, or I will select some possibilities and let the thread vote on it. The three characters I've got in mind right now for modifications are Montaron becoming a Thug, Xan becoming a Bladesinger, and Coran becoming a Swashbuckler. You can brush up on the available classes by reading this 200 page PDF. Also, I will give full class descriptions during each vote.


4. Party Membership is a Democracy: The mechanics of this modded game allow us to tell almost all the characters we meet to go wait for us in a major inn, such as the Jovial Juggler in Beregost, or the Copper Coronet in Amn. Periodically, such as after 2 or 3 major quests are completed, we will have a party composition vote in the thread. Each thread poster has 5 votes, which they can use to either vote FOR or AGAINST any character to be a party member. You can use all 5 votes for one character, or spread them out. You can vote both positively and negatively. If you vote too many times, only the first 5 votes are counted. If there is a tie, the character with the least amount of negative votes wins. If there's a tie in both positive and negative votes, I'll flip a coin. After voting is closed, the top 5 characters will join the party until they die.


5. Resurrection Rest and Relaxation: All party members get resurrections on the party dime if they die, and we can afford it. However, after being resurrected, party members are required to have some rest and relaxation at the party inn. They will be kicked out and replaced with the next-most-popular character. This will give them time to get over their horrifying ordeal of death and let the other party members work through their guilt at letting them die. Best solution all around. In this way we will be able to switch out characters more often and showcase them all. (Don't worry about spreading the total xp too thin. There's enough xp in this game to open an xp shop.)


6. Game mechanics and commentary: I will transcribe everything that happens in-game into thread updates (I use OCR, don't worry about my fingers) in italics. I will describe what happens in tactical encounters as a kind of play-by-play commentary, also in italics. Finally, I will also include my own roleplaying stream-of-consciousness thoughts in italics as well, to provide motivations for what I do in-game. But when it's time to comment on the game itself or talk extensively about mechanics or bitch about the plot, I'll do that in normal text, and I'll preface it by saying "Gameplay note."

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Journal prologue


25 Tarsakh, 1369




I've finally done it! Vox Interioris Extrinsecus! I picked it up from one of the visiting mages here. He told me that an unexamined life is not worth living, and that a well-documented life is a well-examined life. Then he taught me this spell, or ritual, or whatever. Basically it is a permanent minor enchantment that continuously documents everything I see, everything I hear, everything I say, and my internal monologue. Its the perfect document for the well-examined life!


So, let this be the secret journal of Syishtar, oppressed elven minority member of Candlekeep. Do your chores, they say. Tend to your lessons, they say. The Monk is always trying to keep a good elf down. "Do what you want but you're never gonna break me, sticks and stones they're never gonna shake me oh... oh whoa!" Just a line I picked up from a song by some traveling bard. Damn she was hot. Anyways, I show the Monk he's not going to keep me down whenever I cast magic. And I cast almost every day now! The magic knows me, and I know it. I can feel its true nature - capricious, wild, and free. I love letting it loose to work itself through the world. Always a surprise, always a laugh. Even better when the Monk disapproves. Its kinda dangerous sometimes, but that's just what you gotta deal with when living on the edge!


Part of making the enchantment permanent is putting your vital statistics down early, and to be thorough. Otherwise some other magic-user might be able to co-opt the enchantment. So here we go, so the Monk can't take my journal away from me and pass it off as his own, I'll unequivocally document my vital test scores here. They uniquely identify this journal as belonging to Syishtar, and no one else ever! You hear me, monk?




Who cares about Wisdom anyways? I don't care about wisdom. But the Monk cares. Oh boy does he. The Monk always cares about wisdom and gets onto your back about becoming more wise, cuz the Monk always wants you to be like him. Well, screw the Monk I tell you!


You know what the best thing in the world is? Magic. Personally, I prefer Wild Magic. It's really alive, you know?




And just in case the Monk has some more tricks up his sleeve to steal my journal, I'm also going to include all the spells I know. Then nobody will ever be able to say that this journal is theirs! Nobody else. Besides me, I mean.




Azragan's Chanelling [sic] is the first spell I learned. I like it because its effects cannot be predicted. Late at night when I can't sleep I imagine casting it at enemies. I imagine that they are usually as surprised as I am!




Armor is how I survive fights. Or, it would be if I ever had any. This one time a stableboy got pushy with me, but after I cast this and my body glowed everywhere, he backed down. Magic really intimidates the uninitiated. That boy was probably working for the Monk, but I showed him.




Color Spray is actually good at parties. Get a few drinks into you and your friends and they start asking you to cast it. But not many of them can really handle the spell. And of course the Monk says that stunning and temporarily blinding your friends could have long-term health problems. Yeah, they WOULD say that!




This spell I just learned today. Find Familiar. The monks say that I should wait until I'm ready to care for a familiar full-time before I cast it. They talk about feeding and walking and dealing with the shit. But then again they all have them. I don't know what the big deal is. One day I'm going to cast it and then we'll see what the Monk says.




I've only ever cast Grease when one of my tutors was around to dispel it. Its actually a pretty disgusting thing to do. I feel like the magic doesn't want to do this, but I can see how it would be useful in a combat situation. The monks call it crowd control. I bet its their first resort when confronted with a peaceful protest, too.




I love Identify. With it I can know the Truth that the Monk doesn't want you to know. They used to be able to hide things from me, but not anymore. Now I, too, can know the real truth behind anything.




This is my favorite spell - Nahal's Reckless Dweomer. When I use this spell I can realy feel like the magic is speaking through me, ya know? The magic knows what it wants, and where its needed. I just come along for the ride, sometimes. Together we make some beautiful harmony, and this is the best spell to let that happen. The Monks say this should be a last-resort spell, but I tend to lead with it. Or I plan to tend to lead with it. The Magic and I, we know what's best together. You just gotta feel it.

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Chaos Shield is the only level 2 spell I know, and the only way I can cast it is by using Nahal's Reckless Dweomer first. I love the way it feels. The magic just comes down on me and embraces me, ya know, and lets me know everything is going to be alright. I can successfully cast this more often than not, even though its a level 2 spell. The magic is strong with me.




I can feel Improved Chaos Shield in the back of my mind, waiting for me. The magic wants to protect me more than it does, but I have to be worthy first. I have to prove myself. I have tried to cast this through the medium of Nahal's, but the result was almost too dangerous for me. I'm not sure if I should even try to use this, or to just stick with its lesser brother for now. We'll see some day, won't we.




I remember the day I learned this spell. Gorion taught it to me himself. He told me that if my life was ever threatened, and there was no other alternative, I should cast Magic Missile. He said not to hesitate to aim for the face. He gave me a little wink and an eyebrow wiggle. That old man is pretty cool sometimes. I've never actually had to cast it, though, but the day I do, its going right for the face!


The other thing I learned from Gorion was 5 techniques for how to talk to people.




Gameplay note: These special abilities are additions from the relationship mod. This is basically an extensive bribery interface. If you give enough items to a random NPC, they will be nicer to you, help out when you are in combat, and possibly even join you as a fully-controllable party member. These are not NPCs like Imoen or Minsc, these are random people standing around like townspeople or bartenders. Or, perhaps, a dragon. When I was testing it out I got Firebead Elvenhair to join me from the Candlekeep Inn. He was an 11th level wizard. He also automatically gained the ability Scribe Scroll, so with enough money he could have given me all of his spells. I plan to bribe high-level mages as often as possible. The only drawback is that higher-level NPCs want higher-level treasure.


Using the Detect Relationship ability, you can always find out your current standing with NPCs. It goes something like Hostile > Relation Crisis > Neutral > Close > Special Friend > Bosom Friend (the mod was translated from Chinese). NPCs will be open to joining your party when they feel Close to you. You can seal the deal with Invite to Party. If you want to get someone to like you more, use the Show Friendship button. If you have what they want in your inventory they will take it and you'll get a message that they are friendlier. Humanoid NPCs such as people, gnolls, and goblins want necklaces. Animals don't want anything, they just appreciate the attention. They are the easiest to make friends with, but you can only do it once a turn. The Undead want to drain your experience. Giants, ogres, golems, and similar want gemstones. And for beholders, dragons, and other monster npcs you can just outright pay them. If you want a given NPC to like you less, hit Show Hostility. I imagine if they hate you enough they will just attack. Finally, to get help from those allies of yours which are friendly to you in a given area, use Call for Help. You can imagine a scenario here in which you pass out jewelry to an entire room full of people, then show hostility to one guy in the middle. When he attacks you, call out for help, and the whole room will jump him with you. I don't know if that's ever going to be necessary but its sure as hell going to be funny!


Gorion said a little friendship goes a long way. I'm thinking a little glad-handing and jewelry in the right palm and you can 'make things happen.'


I gotta go do chores now. I should hide this somewhere safe. Somewhere that nobody will ever find it. Then again, nowhere is safer than on my person. Yes... yes... I will never let this go. How could I? Its everything to me now. Journal, you're staying with me!


That's the sum total of Syishtar's abilities at level 1. Lets do this!

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