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I wanted to email this, but I couldn't find your address so I will just have to accept public scrutiny.


To DavidW, author of SCSII


I love this mod, and have been playing it a lot over the last six months and particularly the latest version (21). Here is some feedback for you and I apologize in advance if it includes things that have been discussed to death already, but I'm not really following the BG2 community, and I'm writing this from a computer without internet connection giving me no ability to double check if something has been done already by someone else. It ended up being longer than I had anticipated.


My history with this game goes back to when it was released, and I've played it quite a few times over the years. I've recently finished the SoA part of the game and Watcher's Keep three times with SCSII, and the ToB part almost two times. I've used Fixpack, a few things from Tweakpack, SCSII. The only thing I feel that I have left to do is to run my party through SCSII+Ascension.


Table of contents:


1. Enemy mage Spell Shield usage

2. Enemy mage rebuffing

3. Enemy mage spell protection removal

4. Enemy mage Spell Thrust usage.

5. Enemy mage spell protection removal during Timestops

6. Enemy mage offensive Chain Contingency usage

7. The “target nearest enemy” function of Chain Contingency

8. Enemy mage 3x Horrid Wilting

9. PfMW and enemy warrior weapon swaps

10. Warrior weakness against physical damage

11. Nerfing F/M; removal of Whirlwind

12. Casting Absolute Immunity on others.

13. Resurrecting equipped characters

14. Spell Immunities

15. Kangaxx and the other Demi Lich

16. PI and Simulacrum contingency bug

17. Monitoring your buffs

18. Dragons destroying PfMW

19. Monster suggestions

20. Out of combat buffing.

21. Final words



Mages don't seem particularly concerned about their spell shield being destroyed. Players know that keeping spell shield up is important and use contingencies to make sure it is. It would be interesting if this behaviour could be replicated in the AI, instead of it just waiting around begging for a Spellstrike. It's much better to use a contingency now in order to get Spell Shield up again rather then using it later on a stoneskin or pfmw that won't save you anyway. The game might become tedious if every mage plays optimally like this, but it would be nice to see it in the ones that are supposed to be more highly trained and experienced.


Most mages are smart enough to pre-buff with Protection from Magic Energy and Protection from Fire because they know that Horrid Wilting, Sunfire or Incendiary Cloud are dangerous even if they use GoI. However, once you've used Breach successfully once, which removes both of those buffs, they don't use contingencies to get them up again, making them easy kills. They seem to favour pfmw and/or stoneskin even against a solo spell caster. Pfmw is important to not get interrupted by MMM, but Stoneskin really isn't that great. The mage will get interrupted by either meteors or weapons with elemental damage. If a mage has contingencies left to use it seems reasonable that they would attempt to protect themselves against the Horrid Wilting that's surely incoming from the player. And as a player you would actually have to pay attention to their rebuffs, and make your spell choices based on whether they went for a new fire protection, magic energy or something else.



Enemies aren't particularly smart about removing your defences. They often use their high level spells against your spell shield (ruby ray, spellstrike). Even the demi-liches waste their spellstrikes that way, letting you just refresh spell shield waiting for the next one. This leads into the next point.



The consequence of this focus on high level antimagic is that you can ”outlast” most mages as a sorcerer by making sure you refresh your spell shield after they've used their removal spell because you have a minimum of 6 spell shields (or 5 if you've used 1 spell immunity), but in reality 2 more thanks to the ring of wizardry and a lvl 8 trigger prepared the day before. If enemy mages intentionally used Spell Thrust against Spell Shield, just like a player would do if he felt he had to be conservative with his spells, this strategy would be a lot harder. I imagine that a human vs. human mage battle would come down to who could launch the most spell thrusts because if you don't spell shield it, you will lose your spell immunity which you would need to get back up again to not become vulnerable to dispels. Spell Immunity and Spell Shield are both lvl 5 spells which means that you are screwed in the long term since the number of spell thrusts + ruby rays + spellstrikes far exceeds the number of spell shields. The enemy would be equally screwed of course, but they are already being exploited by this strategy.


Furthermore, they don't use Timestop to its full potential when trying to remove your protections. They only cast 1 removal per Timestop which your spell shield will catch. Now, if you cast several removal spells from the same location they will all be caught in the spell shield. I don't know if it is intended or not, but if you cast the second spell further away, it will take effect after the shield is gone. I've personally tried to cast 3 Ruby Rays at a mage during a Time Stop without moving, and then stood there like an idiot with only a removed shield. With that in mind, maybe the average mage wouldn't be aware that you can cast 2 removal spells from different locations in a Time Stop, but it might be a trick that elite mages have picked up from experience.


I've never seen a mage use Chain Contingency offensively except for that 1 Horrid Wilting at the start that some do. Would it be fair if a mage hit your party with a 3x Horrid Wilting? Or what about using removal spells instantly, sending you a nice 3x Ruby Ray just moments after your spell shield was removed?


I personally think that the enemy target function of Chain Contingency should be removed because it's overpowered. I generally don't use it because with your 6 CCs, you can remove all the protections from a mage and kill him before he can react. From the enemies' point of view, they are dead before they even knew what hit them.


1. Use a random removal to get rid of spell shield.

2. 3x Ruby Ray.

3. Breach (assuming True Sight has been ticking).

4. 3x Horrid Wilting.


There is no defence against this afaik because it's all pretty much instant. If the enemy mage can't do this, the player shouldn't be able to. This strategy also completely devalues Spellstrike. Why would you use Spellstrike when you can use an instant 3x Ruby Ray instead? Another thing that devalues Spellstrike is Robe of Vecna + Improved Alacrity which gives you instant cast Ruby Rays. You can just launch however many RRs you want, and still have time to do other stuff with the rest of your IA. I want to pick Spellstrike, because I think it theoretically serves a purpose in forcing the opponent into using a lot of contingencies to get his defences back up, but there are too many workarounds. The Robe should be nerfed in my opinion (I don't have to will power let go of it on my own). A potential fix to the item could be to reduce the casting time reduction slightly (2 instead of 4?), but compensate by giving it a bonus 5th and 6th level spell. It doesn't seem very impressive, but those are the spells you need for tactical mage vs. mage battles; Spell Immunity, Breach, Spell Shield, Contingency, True Sight, Prot. Magic Energy, etc, they are all there.


And about the 3x Horrid Wilting. I think this would serve a purpose from a balancing point of view. It would essentially force you into protecting characters, at least the ones close to the enemy mage if we assume he can only cast it on himself, with Protection from Magic Energy which in turn would use up some of your level 6 slots. This would make you have less pfmw available. Protection from Magical Weapons is currently too strong compared to Improved Mantle and Absolute Immunity in my opinion. If your Wizards have to waste even more of their level 6 spells on protecting against Horrid Wiltings, it will make it attractive to use Improved Mantle. The downside would be that the game might become unplayable without an arcane caster in the party.


Another reason pfmw is too strong is that you are immune to normal weapons and that the dangerous monsters only use magic weapons. Pfmw is essentially Absolute Immunity. The solution to this is to remove the Hell reward that gives immunity to normal weapons, and give enemies with higher intelligence that carry weapons the option to swap to a normal weapon if you use pfmw. The average goon is probably not important or smart enough to carry two weapons, but if you are some elite high level warrior wearing a unique +3 or +4 weapon you've probably seen a thing or two and carry unenchanted weapons as well. These two changes wouldn't make pfwm useless, far from it, considering that all the demons and dragons and stuff still hit magically, but it would force an intelligent wizard to have other options available to him should he face a smart opponent that can switch weapons.


I've mostly been playing a Sorcerer. Solo, and as the main character of a powerful but reasonably balanced custom party (sorc,f/m,paladin,berserker, fighter7/thief, viconia) and it seems to me that characters that can't completely protect themselves from damage suffer a lot towards the end of the game because they take too much physical damage. An extreme example being that my berserker even with the +20% physical resist mace in his offhand and Hardiness got dropped from 100% to dead in a Timestop by Melissan (core difficulty). Irenicus' final form in Hell did something similar. I know that you can turn off their attacks during timestop, and I still beat the fight even with my fighter dead, but from a power gaming perspective I would much rather just have 3 F/M instead of a more varied fighter group.


Speaking of Irenicus, the Irenicus you face in the first fight with the sword, dragon, beholder and the sarevok thing, is behaving very strangely. He doesn't seem to do much, and when the rest of the guys are dead, he just kind of moves around casting invisibilities. He is also susceptible to vorpal attacks and got one-shot by my Planetar. Not that I had any problems with him dying faster so that I could move on to the next fight, but I don't know if it's intended. I read that you imported that fight from another mod so it's understandable that it isn't as polished as the rest.


This was an issue when I played the game 10 years ago as well, and I'm not saying that it's up to you to fix it, but is the F/M really supposed to be so much better than pure fighters? I'm sure that there are various rebalancing mods out there but I wouldn't really want to “taint” my SCSII install with those. The grand mastery unnerf in particular doesn't really do anything, because when it really matters and something has to die yesterday, all your warriors will have Greater Whirlwind running. A fix could be to remove Whirlwind and Greater Whirlwind from the F/M HLA pool. It would prevent the super high damage from 10 attacks a round with the best two-handers. Maximum attacks per round for a F/M would be 6 with two-handers and the gloves, and 8 (?) with Belm in the off-hand. Still impressive considering all their defensive capabilities, but not quite what a pure fighter can do with Whirlwind.


While on the topic of pure fighters dying, an idea I've been toying with in my head is to make Absolute Immunity castable on others. I think it could be interesting to be able to save a fighter that gets targeted by something that hits very very hard or has a vorpal attack like the planetar. Additionally, it would clearly differentiate the spell from PfMW and give sorcerers a new tough lvl 9 choice. Enemies would naturally see it as important to quickly dispel the warrior that gets the immunity. The potential for abuse, or it drastically changing the game, seems low considering that the opportunity cost of a lvl 9 spell is pretty high.


Btw, I love that enemy mages imprison your planetars; very neat, but they don't seem to make it enough of a priority. The statues on WK1 did eventually imprison my planetar, but not until it had already killed almost all of their warriors. I also think that the planetar should be something you summon for a quick surgical strike to force the enemy into reacting to it, and not a high powered party member that can last throughout a longer fight; duration should be drastically reduced. It's just too good, especially with those instant cast Heals it has. Why is a mage summon a better healer than a lvl 40 cleric? I could live with the quick fix of just removing Heal from its spell book because it's clearly dumb. I'm surprised they didn't just give it Chaotic Commands as well.


Something I would love to see would be an option to resurrect characters with their items still equipped, and their inventory as it was when they died. In the harder fights with a large party, someone always seems to die, and it's a chore to always have to manually equip their items. You are not supposed to be able to equip your armor in combat, but I can live with having to manually pick that piece up. And it's always the same damn dude dying; credit to the AI for picking on the weakest member!


When I played my solo sorcerer I played around a lot with the various spell immunities and a feature that would be pretty cool would be an option to see what school a spell belongs to in the combat log. I occasionally tried looking up what school the player version of a particular spell belonged to in order to defend myself, but that really wasn't consistent. For example, the confusion cast by Umber Hulks and those Myconid spawn mushroom dudes can't be defeated by any of the spell immunities, but it does get picked up by spell trap. There were some other things I couldn't seem to defend myself against like some random stuns (not the symbols). I have no idea if this is intended behaviour or not. The important stuff does seem to work, but I'm confused (pun intended!) about those Umber Hulks.


You requested some feedback on Kangaxx, and there does seem to be one small thing that could be improved. His first form doesn't seem concerned about projected images. The way I beat him solo at lvl 28 was to make sure I mainly used images and simulacrums on his first form. He let my completely unprotected image cast timestop and imprison all his demons. The demi version however seemed to actively interrupt my images with meteors and dispel them. My strategy ended up being to play defensively and exhaust his spell book which just about worked. It seemed like he regenerated his health too fast to whittle him down with minute meteors, and I ended up having to kill him with timestops, improved haste and a black blade. I don't remember the original Kangaxx at all, but fighting this guy solo was an incredible gaming experience, and you really feel like you've earned that ring.


In a high level SoA party without HLAs he's just about beatable assuming you can keep a warrior alive to finish him off, and the weapons to hit him of course. A berserker is obviously a nice thing to have. The main problem seems to be to have enough magic removals for the entire fight, and I definitely needed scrolls. Once you have a full party with HLAs he becomes very easy.


The demi in WK arguably is too easy both solo and with a party. It's only half the Kangaxx fight, and he doesn't seem to regenerate health. Maybe he could be improved somehow? A quick fix could be to let him summon more creatures. Currently it's pretty easy to just imprison the two demons and the planetar in a timestop. It might be interesting/funny/scary/hard to have him fill that small room with a lot more stuff.


If a projected image or simulacrum uses a contingency, which I assume they are not supposed to be able to, you get stuck in an empty contingency spell select screen. The pop up that asks you to cancel or dispel has buttons that don't do anything, and you are forced to restart the game. I have no idea where this bug comes from but I'm using the Gog.com version of the game, fixpack, a bit of tweakpack and scsii.


It's important to monitor your buffs, and BG2's interface really isn't designed with that in mind. That portrait fills up, and most of the icons have the same colour. It's mildly annoying having to go into your character screen mid fight to double check a buff. Thankfully, pfmw is one of the more recognizable ones. I don't know if it's within your power to do something about it, but it would be a great improvement to the game to have the kind of list you have in your character status sheet somewhere on the screen. A quick fix would be to simply remove the permanent buffs that the Amulet of Power gives you from the portrait, which would save you one row. And other permanent buffs too for that matter. I'm keep saying quick fix, but I honestly don't know anything about how this engine works; sorry if I sound silly.


You are pretty much immune to dragons if you buff yourself with SI:Abjuration, PfMW and an appropriate elemental resistance. It doesn't seem “realistic” to me that dragons would survive for hundreds of years if they couldn't defeat any random wizard capable of casting lvl 6 spells. One obvious solution to this would be to give dragons spell protection removal spells, but that would just turn them into fighter/mages with huge models – not cool. Something that might be interesting to try out would be to give dragons a chance to destroy PfMW and similar immunities with each strike due to their “immense strength and size”, or however you want to motivate it from a role playing perspective. That way they would actually be attacking instead of just standing there looking dumb. I don't know exactly how effective this should be but if PfMW only lasted, on average, 1 round against a dragon you wouldn't be able to just stand there at lower levels. Not until you got plenty of spells and proper contingencies anyway. I haven't really thought about how targeting would work if there are unprotected fighters and a protected wizard, but even when I'm playing with a party I only send my wizards in at the start to weaken the defences. I imagine if you had to fight a dragon in real life with medieval type weapons, you would have to rush him, and hope you killed him before he killed all of you. Casualties would certainly be guaranteed unless it was sleeping, but dragons don't seem to sleep in BG2.


There are a couple of areas of the game that feel really weak still compared to at what point in the game you face them. The elven city for example has some fairly challenging wizard fights, but when you reach what you think is the climax at the Tree, the elemental guardians are pathetically easy for a party of the appropriate level. Considering that they are defending Irenicus who is trying to become a God or whatever by extracting something from the Tree, they should be the most powerful elementals you can dig up. They would probably still be easy, but at least they would be bigger and look more impressive. Those named princes maybe?


If you want to work more on Watcher's Keep, one small area that could be improved is the one with the two big safes where you pick up the mallet to destroy the glass of the machine. It's the final fight of that level, and they put up zero resistance. After how cool the maze is, and how scary the two fights with the demons holding the gems are, it feels like a bit of a let down. But what it does do is highlight how tame the unmodded game really is. The current configuration is a group of salamanders and the two named minotaurs. I don't know exactly how it could be improved and still maintain its flavour since the monster types there just aren't very challenging. One of them is carrying the Axe of Unyielding so maybe he could be given the same power that the upgraded version has (10% decapitation with no save) even if that alone would hardly matter.


Another area of Watcher's Keep that strikes me as very lame is the endurance challenge. It doesn't seem like much work at all to stay alive against some normal orcs. The goal, imo, should be surviving, and killing everything should seem futile. Towards the end you should be sweating, and praying that the ghost dude comes back to tell you that you've passed the challenge. Here's how I see it going: you would start out with the orcs that are there now, giving people who haven't read the spoilers a false sense of security. When you've killed off say 10 or 15 orcs, the guy comes back, and people would think that they were done, albeit faster than normal. Instead there is a second wave of stuff that's actually hard to survive against. At an appropriate time you are saved by the NPC. If you somehow manage to kill everything in this second wave which should be very very hard, you might get some item for your troubles. If Nalmissra's party notices that you have this item, they comment on it, saying that they have one too.


I should have written about this earlier with the rest of the mage stuff, but a feature that I think would cool is a restriction on short term buffs out of combat. The logic of course being that it isn't “realistic” that the player knows exactly what is ahead and what kind of buffs he should be running. I'm thinking about stuff like true sight, pfmw, the globes, SI, Spell Trap, etc. What this does is to force you into using contingencies, and later chain contingencies at the start of fights to buff yourself just like the AI does which is cool as fuck in my opinion because all your shit goes up just as their shit goes up, and that contingency sound rocks. And for some reason it makes you feel more powerful. Additionally, it's a less tedious way to play since you don't manually have to buff yourself for 10 rounds before every important fight. It also prevents sorcerers from having an overpowered number of Chain Contingencies for offence. It probably wouldn't be for everyone, but I pretty much already play like this and I enjoy it very much, and I'm sure that other people who haven't thought about it will like it as well once they get used to it. Now, you obviously don't need to mod the game to do this on your own, but if it isn't a lot of hassle to implement, it removes the ability to rationalize away your self-imposed ban when things get hard.


Finally, I would like to say that SCSII is fucking amazing, and thanks to the modifications you've done, it easily has the best magic system of any RPG ever. I'm blown away by how good it is. The way it raises the difficulty without feeling dumb is nothing short of amazing. If things get overwhelming, you pause the game, think things through, and what should work, actually works. Of all the features the one that makes me smile the most, believe it or not, is that the AI is able to move out of cloudkill etc, and even remove it. I recognized how cheesy that was when I was a kid playing this game 10 years ago already. Another specific feature that I love is the Improved Fiends. The Glabrezus is so very scary looking with mirror images up; at first I thought it was some new monster because I didn't remember them at all. The fights in the maze in WK are amazing, and the way they just rain down Unholy Blight on you is cool as hell. I would love to do a themed build with fiend summoning, but the fact that you don't get experience from their kills makes it a bit meh. Please please let them give me experience. Anyway, thanks for reading.



One more thing, that mage you can Freedom in the Underdark, he got chunked instantly when he performed his ritual at the first gate (earth), before he could actually enter the portal. I thought it was funny as hell that his hubris got him killed, but I'm not sure that's how I remember the quest going. His one second demise might have something to do with the very big elemental that probably wasn't there before. I do remember fully completing that quest in SCSII so maybe it had something do with where I stood when the elementals were summoned and they ended up all targeting him. Either way, there really wasn't any way I could prepare for what happened since I was already standing fairly close to him. Foolishly I didn't reload to see if I could replicate it.


Another quest related quirk I discovered when I played early this year with what must have been version 20, was that Faldorn would go invisible in her fight against an AI controlled Cernd, and stay invisible for a very long time while Cernd just stood there. When her invisibility ended, she would cast it again. Resting didn't fix the problem and I ended up having to kill her with the console which then triggered Cernd's victory. The three times or so I've played the druid grove since then Cernd has landed the first blow in wolfwere form, interrupting her and killing her in seconds. She is still casting a spell the first thing she does, but I don't know if it's that invisibility.

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This is very cool feedback - thank you. Some of it lies a bit outside SCS's remit, but a lot of it is very valuable.


A few specific thoughts in reply:


1) The original-game Spell Shield is buggy, and so when I originally coded SCS I didn't use it at all. A couple of years ago Ardanis worked out a fix, and I added Spell Shield use into the mod, but it was done in a bit of a hurry and there's probably room for some optimisation.


2) the problem with a lot of your suggestions about contingencies et al is that I only get one contingency and one chain contingency. So I can't have both contingency: Protection from Magic Energy and Contingency: Protection from Magic Weapons, and if I use my opening Chain Contingency offensively I don't have enough time to get defences up.


3) I don't use ADHWx3 contingencies because I think it's a bit all-or-nothing. If the party aren't heavily protected, they probably have to reload. If they are, it's useless.


4) IIRC I don't really use Imprisonment as a proactive spell. SCSII wizards are going to imprison you if you're in weapons range, but they won't chase you down. This is a scripting-language limitation to some extent.


5) The elementals in Suldanesselar have been on my to-do list for a while, as soon as I work out something interesting.

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Most mages are smart enough to pre-buff with Protection from Magic Energy and Protection from Fire because they know that Horrid Wilting, Sunfire or Incendiary Cloud are dangerous even if they use GoI. However, once you've used Breach successfully once, which removes both of those buffs, they don't use contingencies to get them up again, making them easy kills. They seem to favour pfmw and/or stoneskin even against a solo spell caster.


Well it looks like you play a solo sorcerer. Maybe enemy mages could have a spellbook more optimized against this kind of "opponent" but SCS enemy scripts are and should be optimized in case enemy are fighting against a balanced and standard party.

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Sorry if this is off-topic, but the Captain Haegan hotfix didn't work, he just stood there and did nothing. In addition, something causes the monster summoning I, II and III spells to not work. I've not encountered any users of the animal summoning I, II and III spells or animate dead yet, but I'll yet you know if they don't work. I can't say for certain, but it may be the BG1 summoning spells component from Ding0 tweak pack, which affects all 7 of the above summoning spells. (I have no way of confirming this, so if I'm wrong, then I apologize)


Edit: - If anything else comes up, I'll edit it here or in a new post.


Edit 2: - Both spider spawn and invisible stalker work as normal, neither are changed by the above component.

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Most mages are smart enough to pre-buff with Protection from Magic Energy and Protection from Fire because they know that Horrid Wilting, Sunfire or Incendiary Cloud are dangerous even if they use GoI. However, once you've used Breach successfully once, which removes both of those buffs, they don't use contingencies to get them up again, making them easy kills. They seem to favour pfmw and/or stoneskin even against a solo spell caster.


Well it looks like you play a solo sorcerer. Maybe enemy mages could have a spellbook more optimized against this kind of "opponent" but SCS enemy scripts are and should be optimized in case enemy are fighting against a balanced and standard party.


I've only really finished the game with a full party with a sorcerer as the main character with SCSII. My party is sorcerer, barbarian, F/M, cavalier, viconia, imoen - reasonably balanced, but strong. Solo I'm only at the Fire Giant temple (non-Ascension). I do however agree that it seems hard to balance the game for parties both with and without a sorcerer; it's just that much better than a normal mage. This problem wouldn't be as bad if you could pick up a sorcerer NPC, but sadly you can't. I think I would rather have 1 sorcerer than 2 mages because it's just so much easier to stay alive with that many contingencies and the flexible play style.


The game tends to get easier with more arcane casters up to a point if you have the patience to micro manage them. Playing through Ascension, I've had Imoen in the party for the new RP elements, and I mostly keep her in the back without doing much because having 2 casters is overkill most of the time. The obvious balance flaw here is that the mage can cast roughly the same number of spells per day as the sorcerer. Having to pick spells in advance is hardly the disadvantage it's supposed to be, but that's obvious to anyone. The mage would have to have a significantly higher number of slots per level for it to be on par with the sorcerer and if the mage had say 50% more slots per level, sorcerer or mage would actually be a style choice instead of mage being strictly worse. Another fix could be to no longer let the sorcerer cast from scrolls which would prevent you from just using the 3 or 4 scrolls you have of every spell towards the end of the game if your spell selection happens to be suboptimal for a particular fight. It's not far fetched that the sorcerer's innate talents means that he never went to a mage school, and never learned how to use scrolls.


I just installed Ascension, and in the readme someone says that Illsera, the first fight, actually is really hard. It might be, if you are working with a suboptimal party. I personally found it really easy on Insane and I ran a party that, while great, does have some room for RPG elements (not 3x F/M, 2x Sorc or anything silly like that). I'm not saying this to brag or anything, but if you balance a game around what's perceived to be a balanced party, it'll be too easy as soon as someone starts to "power game", and vice versa. An example of power gaming in this case would be that my single class "fighters" are a barbarian (80% physical resist) and a Cavalier (65% physical resist). The Barbarian is particularly solid, but they still get hit pretty hard if swarmed by bad stuff. Running fighters that only have Hardiness, and not using Defender of Easthaven doesn't seem remotely viable in comparison.The Cavalier makes up for it somewhat by having Armor of Faith and 50% MR.


Step 1 to more balance in this case would be to remove a silly overpowered item like the Defender, and work from there. It's particularly overpowered for characters that already have a lot of physical resist. Going from 60% to 80% doubles effective health (!). If a mod added an item that doubled HP, people would surely laugh. The item was added before ToB and Hardiness, and I don't think they considered what would happen if high level barbarians used it.


It's obviously up to the mod author how to go about things when faced with the "balanced" vs. "power gaming" dilemma, but in games like WoW they fix it by making the classes roughly equally powerful, but exercising that power in different ways. Players still prefer one class over another, but you aren't completely handicapped because you picked the wrong one (if some WoW veteran is reading this, I know that this wasn't always the case). Basically, it requires less meta game knowledge to play the game effectively. BG2, and especially with tactical mods installed, requires a lot of trial and error and/or forum reading to play. The advantage to actually having the barbarian being so much better than a fighter would be that it gives the player a sense of mastery once they know enough about the game to put together a great party. The same thing goes for spell selections for a sorcerer for example. A more modern game would probably never have the strict one time spell selection and if it did, it would allow you to change your picks at some NPC. This isn't a critique against this mod, and just an observation about BG2 in general.


3) I don't use ADHWx3 contingencies because I think it's a bit all-or-nothing. If the party aren't heavily protected, they probably have to reload. If they are, it's useless.


I totally agree, and it's equally dumb that a sorcerer can just run in and unload like 8 ADHW instantly. Contingencies only being able to hold defensive spells would fix it, and it would fix the issue of stripping and killing mages with chain contingency as well.

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As a quick comment on mod-design philosophy: I generally have two design goals for SCS.


1) Most importantly, change the AI so that antagonists use their existing resources (as defined by game files and existing scripts) at an appropriate level of intelligence (which usually means, as intelligently as possible).


2) If any given encounter, after (1) is done, is still uninterestingly easy for a balanced party of core-game NPCs, played with reasonable care but not exhaustive attention to detail, make it more challenging.

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I can't comment on arcane casters being OP or otherwise, but I like the idea of contingencies being defensive spells only, but that sounds more like a Spell Revisions change.


A little more on the summoning thing, Animate Dead and Summon Fiend both work perfectly. Summon Efreeti works in that the Efreeti appears, but they do nothing but stand completely still.


Edit: - Animal Summoming works fine, so it looks like just the Monster Summoning spells are broken on my install. I have no idea why though.

(Sorry if I'm banging on about this, the mod is as usual top class)


Edit2: - Sorry for the late edit, but further testing shows that Monster Summoning I works, but II and III do not work.

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I can't comment on arcane casters being OP or otherwise, but I like the idea of contingencies being defensive spells only, but that sounds more like a Spell Revisions change.
In fact I do suggested that ages ago! :D Anyway, the problem here is that such tweak indeed belongs to SR more than SCS (the latter is not supposed to tweak spells), but I cannot make such change within SR if the AI (aka SCS) ignores it. Long story short, it all depends on SCS, either implementing the tweak by itself, or using it if SR is detected.



I'd really like to write a huge post on this matter as I've much to say, but I have very little time. Just a couple of things:


1) Difficulty level: using OP combos and items such as Barbarian + vanilla Defender or the silly vanilla Carsomyr, and then complain the game it's too easy is a vicious circle. That's what made Improved Anvil really absurd imo: you fight uber cheesy monsters but you get in exchange uber cheesy items, making the the former improvement pointless. Considering that SCS cannot give a Carsomyr to each and every opponent you face, after a certain point (aka after SCS has done all it's possible to improve the AI) it's better to make the game harder by "nerfing" player's OPness rather than trying to make the AI as OP as the player.


2) Spellcaster's OPness: at high levels spellcasters are supposed to be much more powerful than a fighter in a 1vs1 duel, like it or not, that's how it should be in D&D world (exception: fighter's magical equipment can even the odds). BUT, that doesn't mean a mage is strictly more powerful than a fighter, it's just that more often than not games and DMs don't make players face challanges where the most obvious spellcasters' weaknesses come into play. For example:

- prevent resting during Nalia's Keep quest (it makes obvious sense) and see if your mages can finish the quest before emptying their spellbook. Fighters would be necessaty there.

- make spellcasters face multiple hordes of enemies in a row, even better if those creatures are resistant to various spells (e.g. elementals) or have high magical resistances (e.g. drows, demons, not to mention golems). I guess SCS "escape Drow City" component is supposed to be like that.

- anti-magic areas or wild magic zones are kinda drastic, but it's not difficult to imagine situations to implement them or similar situations


P.S On a side note, IR's undispellable potions can be a tremendous buff to non-spellcasters imo, and I hope that combined with KR's upcoming improvements to warrior classes it will be able to make non-spellcasting characters more effective and more threatening.

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such tweak indeed belongs to SR more than SCS (the latter is not supposed to tweak spells)


Well, the latter can tweak spells if it feels like it, but I normally only do it if it's urgently necessary. I don't feel that's the case here. I don't overuse offensive magic in my scripts' contingencies and it's up to players if they want to or not. (The usual "don't block deliberate exploits" principle.)

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Here's an odd little thing. If Solaufein is Mazed by one of the Mind Flayers during the fight to rescue Phaere, Phaere will start her speech once every second and you get 20,000 exp each time she speaks. This stops when Solaufein returns from the Maze effect. (If it is possible, perhaps moving the experience reward to after Solaufein speaks would resolve this) I'm not certain that this is an SCS II issue, can Mind Flayers use Maze in vanilla BG2? Admittedly this is very minor, but better safe than sorry I suppose.

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I finished that SCSII with Ascension on Insane run I mentioned in my first post in this thread and I'm going to write a few sentences on the experience.


My SCSII install was a standard quick install with 3x hit point dragons, 150 damage Harm. I used the Fixpack and some minor features from the Tweak Pack. Incidentally, I found out that TP allowed me to remove the permanent icons I complained about earlier. I only played the ToB portion of the game, and reused a six member party save from before Illasera with characters that had completed pretty much everything in SoA including Watcher's Keep (4 million exp). In hindsight this might have been a mistake because I suspect that WK on insane with appropriate level characters is actually harder than most of ToB. Looking back on it, I wish I had used Item Revisions, because having recently checked it out, it has many appropriate changes.


From a technical standpoint, pretty much everything ran flawlessly. There was only one fight that had an AI controlled character doing something that broke immersion and made me wonder what the hell he was doing, but more on that later. There is however considerable slowdown when dragons are around. During the four dragon fight in front of Abazigal's lair, the game literally ran at half speed on my 3.2 GHz AMD from 2010. Normally there's a tiny pause if some new enemies are being loaded, but this persisted throughout the entire fight. I don't remember the Abazigal fight itself being quite as severe in this regard but it could very well have been. By the way, the increased hit points really make dragons more interesting so big thumbs up for that. The final fight crashed several times in the transition between the phase where you face the Five, and when Melissan jumps in, but if I had to guess I would say that it's a problem originating in Ascension and not SCSII. We're talking about a hard lock here that required me to shut down the game in the task manager.


With tech out of the way, I'd like to comment on the actual difficulty. I expected it to be pretty damn hard, and ultimately it did deliver, but not until the final fight. It's easy to bombard your way through most ordinary enemies and all Ascension improved bosses died in the first or second attempt. Ironically, Sendai was definitely the hardest and the only one where I felt that I was balancing on a knife's edge. Ironic of course because she's not changed by Ascension. The minor amount of reloads I had up until the final showdown were mainly from sometimes being too lazy to prebuff when facing ordinary enemies. This isn't a knock on you; I guess the game just isn't that hard when you've played it as much as I have.


The (spoiler) armor you can craft if you kill the new yellow dragon interacts a bit funny with Ascension's final fight because it gives a fighter 90% reduction against Illasera. It also highlights a major weakness in the AI; there is no target changing as long as some damage is taken. Yaga-Shura can be tanked in the same way by using Rornach's Horn. It's also easy to get both rewards because the dragon just stays there after giving you the amulet, and I actually killed it more or less by mistake because I had 3 GWWs running.


Anti-chunking isn't working on Insane. I can only speak for the final fight because there's where the majority of my deaths occured, but the Five routinely chunked characters that didn't have a lot of physical resistance. Pure clerics in particular have it tough because the AI will sniff them out even with Sanctuary up and pretty much kill them in two hits. Being a cleric must be the worst job in the BG2 universe. Dragon breaths also chunk, but that really isn't much of an issue because on insane you either protect yourself or get one-shot. Melissan did some kind of blade barrier thing in the final phase that also chunked, but I honestly don't really know what happened there because she killed two characters from 100% to 0 instantly.


I've come to appreciate characters with over 200 hit points a bit more after this playthrough. While I still think that the F/M, theoretically, is much better, there's very little room for error with so little health.


The final fight has some wonky AI at times. The Five move around a lot looking for new targets if something is immune. I totally see the purpose of this, but they fairly regularly moved completely away from the action, effectively making them useless. If I was fighting in the area where you spawn, I occasionally found Abazigal (I feel like he did this the most but that could just be coincidence) on the north east island. Illassera away from everyone, and in hiding, and so on. I felt that my kill attempt worked fairly cleanly, but it would have been disappointing if I killed it because a few of them weren't engaging.

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the game literally ran at half speed on my 3.2 GHz AMD from 2010.
Have you used the Generalized biffing mod ? The SCSII makes the AI scripts so large and run so often that it's almost required, especially with other media mods... that the game needs to be able to read them faster than just from the override folder. The other fixes for that are in this list, but they have less to do with the SCSII's changes and more of the games integrity.
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There is however considerable slowdown when dragons are around. During the four dragon fight in front of Abazigal's lair, the game literally ran at half speed on my 3.2 GHz AMD from 2010.
That's a video issue. A lot of magical effects playing at once and dragons are known to cause slowdowns if 3D acceleration is disabled in config. IIRC it has to be disabled for newer video cards for some reason, so playing with old hardware may be preferable (I play BG2 on GeForce MX440 with 3D enabled and it runs flawless).
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Apologies for the bump, but I have some feedback on SoA's dragons, as well as your changes to Watcher's Keep.


First, the dragons.


1. I didn't fight Adalon, good characters don't fight silver dragons on roleplaying grounds.


2. Thaxll'ssillyia. This is by far the weakest of the dragons imo, there are several reasons why. Firstly, it only casts Protection from Magic Weapons once, and seems to have no other arcane spells. This is a huge weakness, even a Stoneskin/Haste combo is much stronger. Secondly, its breath weapon does no damage, and only causes level drain (easily blockable) and blindness, which only lasts 2 rounds. Lastly, there are areas where you can hide, out of range of its claws (Melee is by far the most dangerous thing any dragon does) and hit it with ranged weapons until it dies.


3. Firkraag. Several times stronger than Thaxll'ssillyia, for all the above reasons as it turns out. It has several castings of Haste, Stoneskin, Breach and Melf's Acid Arrow. There are no areas you can avoid melee combat, and red dragon breath is 100+ damage, which when combined with the Lower Fire Resistance spell, very difficult to block entirely. A hasted dragon hits really hard, really often. By far the hardest of the SoA dragons I fought.


4. Nizidramanii'yt. Not as strong as Firkraag, but still dangerous. I don't remember much about it to be honest. Definitely much stronger than Thaxll'ssillyia though, mainly on the back of Haste/Stoneskin and never able to out of melee range.


5. The Dragon of Pride. All the weaknesses of Thaxll'ssillyia, plus it doesn't get the 3x HP boost from the Increased Staying Power component. A bit pathetic really.


Watcher's Keep.


6. The library. Not much to say really, but the statues are actually quite dangerous now. Btw, the Ogre statue has no equipment. Is this intentional?


7. The Chromatic Demon. Now that this is 100% immune to physical damage, its much more dangerous. Luckily there are plenty of damage sources that can hit it, even as a solo fighter/thief.


8. The teleport maze. ATweaks is actually responsible for more changes here than SCSII. Not much to say that hasn't been covered in the OP.


9. The Machine of Lum the Mad. Again covered by the OP.


10. The final seal. Azamantes and the Rilmani are not all that tough, although this is more due to my equipment more than anything. The other fight, with the six seemingly completely random guardians, is much more dangerous.


11. Demogorgon. I like the changes myself, they're not too overpowered. I managed to beat it by fighting it on the stairs, so that only 2 of his Glabrezu could hit me, rather than being surrounded by 4 or more.


12. Saladrex and the Green dragon. Saladrex can't fit through his own front door (how did he get in there in the 1st place?) and the green dragon is essentially a green Firkraag, with additional Heal spells.


I'll go into the rest of ToB another time. Apologies for the length.

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