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Wow... this is really hard. Where do I level?


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Hi everyone,


So I have been playing with quite a few of the harder mods installed like mage pre buffing (which only seems fair considering) and obviously the improved fights, mages, and priests. My party is mostly 10 and 11 and I cannot figure out where to level. It seems like most fights involve multiple mages which obliterate me because I don't have ruby ray yet or even worse, a lich. I cannot figure out which quests to finish to get to level 18 when I can finally get spell strike.


There have been several reloads where I get a party wipe from a single yun-ti mage because I can only cast 2 chaotic commands (with arie) and I can't target due to invisibility and I can't hit him because his stone skin in insanely powerful and then he recasts. So basically, my guys are off killing each other while the mage casts horrid wilting slaughtering my guys. I have been playing this game for 10 years and I have never found it this impossible and I know that this will all be doable once my party gets to be around 18 or 20 but until that point, I have literally no idea what I can possibly do without running into bands of mages or liches. Any suggestions would be most welcome.


BTW, this mod is awesome. I have never been so frustrated with BG2. I find fights with multiple mages impossible though but 1 or 2 are excellent at my current level. There have actually been fights where I will kill everything except a mage which is unharmed and I can't touch them. Those fights I do wonder if mages with this mod are a tiny bit too strong or perhaps everything else is just not quite strong enough. Either that or I am just fighting level 18's or 20's with a party of level 10's.



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One way to understand it is that vanilla Mage scripting is pretty weak, so the baseline game compensates by making wizards high level. When SCS comes along and makes wizards halfway competent, you really feel their level advantage.


I've sometimes toyed with imposing an across-the-board level penalty of 2-3 levels on mages, but I think I'd get complaints from hardcore players...

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Mages (I don´t mean liches) aren´t often protected against spells like Confusion, Chaos and Emotion (if you don´t use Spell Revision). And these spells are Are of Effect spells so they can bypass Improved Invisibility. Together with Greater Malinson there is a pretty high chance that these spells actully hit them. Confused mage = dead mage. And if they don´t use PFMW elemental or poison damage from weapons/arrows can also disrup their spellcasting. I generally don´t fight liches in chapters 2 and 3, these fights are not obligatory. In chapter 6 you have better equipment and sufficient levels to beat them. Only lich in Spellhold is a problem, especially if you have to fight him without equipment.

Also if mages don´t have fire shield, you can cast Insect Plague on some enemy who is standing next to the mage and the spell will spread on poor mage.

Or if you have SCS component that opponents drop potions, you will have enought potions to signicantly improve your chances on survival in battels with mages (especially if you use IR mod). Korgan with potions and berserk mode can withstand almost everything that mages can cast.

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Chaos is quite a good spell against enemy pre buffing mages. In bG2; I try to have at leat 2 mages that can cast this spell.

Don't waste too much anti magic slots Imo.

Thief detection of illusion ability can dispell improved invisibily and save some precious slotsfor your mages/priests.

Chaotic commands and prebuff spell can be dispelled so it's not the best way to win against hight level mages. It's better to focus on items, especially on fighters.


The way I play against mages is the following : Usually I have 2 melee fighters. I manage to equip the first one with all items providing bonus to saving trows (usually a dwarf with good constitution and good saving thows). Add to that some potions/buff spells doing the same anf you have a character that will almost never fail a saving trows. So now only damage spell will be a threat for him and considering he will not fail saving throws, damage will be reduced most of the time.



About my second figther : I don't care at all about his saving trows and I equip him with items that provides complete immunity ( fire, charm,confusion, stun, paralyse,poison,web etc...).

For exemple, if you equip Minsc with Lilarcorn, a ring of free action and ring of fire resistance : he will perform quite well against with many mages now...


Now, enemy mages will cast many spell that will have almost no effect on your characters.


With this strategy, you needsome healing potions of course.


And yes, avoid liches before reaching some hight level with SCS...

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I have mixed feelings on the liches. They are tough, they're high level casters. But I managed to knock out the bridge lich before heading off to Spellhold, so my party was in the 12-13 range (except for Haer'dalis). I play with SR/SCS though, so that might've had something to do with it because Secret Word let me strip all the spell protections so I could fire a Pierce Shield scroll at it. The only lich I found really tough was Alchara Diagott, and that's because of the Wish->Breach + Timestop + Planetar was a nasty combo. To come out of that and have half my party run in terror from the lich aura was a pain.


I feel like the anti-magic may be dependent on whether you play pure SCS or SR/SCS, because my 4th level slots are essentially Secret Word and Stoneskin. I rarely find the other level 4's useful. Maybe a summon here or there for distraction. It seems like the SCS mages only use SI:Abj and SI:Div, I don't think I've ever seen one do anything else.


I would definitely second the Malison + Chaos combo. Or, with your Yuan-Ti example, Secret Word to drop SI:Div if he has it, Dispel/True Seeing to drop his II, and then LR before the Malison + Chaos. My question would be, how many casters do you have, and what quests haven't you done? I'm guessing with Yuan-Ti you're in De'Arnise at the moment? I found that area surprisingly brutal for my fresh from the dungeon party (similar levels to you).

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So I do have SR and SCS installed. I was in De'Arnise when I got my party handed to me with the last fight but what really stuck out was the brutal mage prowess. Power Word is my best friend at the moment. Right now my party consists of


1) Kensi pure fighter

2) Jaheria because I have the mod which allows multiclass fighters to get Grand Master so she is a murdering machine

3) Yoshimo because I need a thief

4) His girlfriend from some misc mod Kensai Mage and mostly worthless. She does have Grand Master but can't cast enough decent spells to make her a decent mage. She is paired with Yoshimo and I need him so...

5) Arie because I need a priest and a backup mage even though she sucks as both

6) My own sorcerer because the game doesn't have any good ones.


When I dual to a thief eventually I am dropping Yoshimo and GF for Viconia and Minsc because I want range and dual handed with a great cleric. Arie sort of fills in some gaps but multiclass doesn't get high levels fast enough for my liking so at best she is a backup.


Basically the way the fights currently go against multiple mages are: They prebuf and cast chaos. I can currently cast 2 CC so The Kensai and Druid get it. My party is maddened and that basically is it. I will try out the Malison and Chaos combo. I have not really used Chaos much but at this point, until I strip mages they have spell shields and spell redirect.


So far I have done the Keep but cheated toward the end with the 5th spirit troll who somehow managed to go invis 3 times in a round and back-stab me and the boss who I guess had a cloak of fear but that caused a party wipe with the 3 mages in the back who dispelled everything I could get up on my party. Basically that fight was amazingly and very unfairly hard. Those spirit trolls in particular are really vicious and I swear break rules under SCS. Basically I have been wracking my mind trying to figure out which quests I can actually do. Umar is out because of the lich. I did the copper cronit. The hold I shouldn't have done yet. I can't quite do the sphere yet because I will get murdered by the demons.


I am really quite surprised how awesome the SR and SCS combo is. It makes the game completely different and causes druids to actually be really useful and causes a party to require a cleric. Until I get my mages up to casting level 7 spells though, mages in general are difficult, groups of mages are impossible. There is nothing quite as spectacular as a group of mages all casting teleportation field and covering the entire area and picking me off one by one. I also don't have a great way to combat that one either save for magic resistance but again, being level 10-12 I don't have awesome gear yet.

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The quest against Mae´Var are very easy. The whole thief strongold is doable. Trademeet and De'Arnise keep are also fine. The final De´Arnise keep is manageable with help of Greater Malinson + 3-4 web + whatever combination of cloudkills and AoE damaging spell is available. With your party it would be easy. Jaheira in the best amor with the best shield + stone skin + free action + whatever improves her saving throws comes first to reveal enemies and lure Tor´Gal. Then mages cast simultaneously combination of aforementioned spells (webs + malinson). This could knock out most of enemies. More webs better. Then Jaheira and Kensais will fight and kill Tor´Gal outside webs. Mages will kill the rest with help of AoE spell.

After all minor quest in Athkatla, Trademeet, Mae´Var, De'Arnise keep you can do whatever you want: Unseeing Eye (you can avoid both liches), Winspear Hills (you can do it easily and kill Firkraag in chapter 6), Planar Prison (is more difficult because the half of wardens are mages). Planar sphere can be very difficult, high level mages are on the same level as liches.

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if you find enemy mages' level make for a too hard challenge (I do) then you can customize the stratagems.ini file accordingly.


Open stratagems.ini with a text editor and change mage_level_add 0 to mage_level_add -3 in order to have all enemy mages in the game be of three levels lower than they'd normally be with SCS. Change the -3 to any other number that you feel would suit your gaming.


The author explicitly warns that this kind of customization is "at your own risk" and not really supported though.

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The way I took Tor'Gal was to send in my main with invis + cloak of non-detection, only the improved Tor'Gal can see you so he'll run towards you while the two mages and various other stuff stay away. I ran back to my party (in the umber hulk room) and when Tor'Gal came in I slammed the door shut and focused on taking him out. I don't have the Yoshimo mod with his gf, so I can't really comment on their functionality.


What I found useful at low-levels with SR was multiple casts of Chaos instead of Malison+Chaos (although I'm aware this takes two 5th level spots instead of a 4th and 5th). Chaos hits with a -4 penalty by itself, so early on the saves generally aren't good enough to resist it, and for whatever reason I always had better luck landing dual (and later triple when I had Haer'Dalis) Chaos than the Mal/Chaos combo.


With the two Yuan-ti mages consider having Aerie memorize a couple of dominate spells too. Again a super nasty -4 penalty which tends to stick easily in the Chapter 2 quests. When I went up against those I was able to Dominate one and then have it Dominate the other. That provided some fun as the enemy turned on the dominated ones and took out the mages for me. It sounds like you're having some of the same issues I had with Spirit Trolls and their annoying natural invisibility (which wrecked me when combined with Full Plate's "everyone can backstab" component). All I can say is: use tons of potions of Stone Form (if you're using IR) or else memorize tons of Glitterdust and Detect Invis (which is what I ended up doing).


What adds the lich to Umar? I don't remember facing one there, just the annoying Improved Shade Lord. I would agree with minor Athkatla quests + Trademeet (although there are a ton of Spirit Trolls in the forest, but if you avoid the mound you can skip a few...I did hit a Greater Earth Elemental which was kinda nasty). Unseeing Eye isn't too bad, although the final battle is a bit rough with the spellcasting Eye that summons death tyrants. Mae'Var for sure (very nice xp there), harpers and xzar as well.

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What adds the lich to Umar?

It's vanilla game, provided your level is high enough OR you have installed "Always spawn toughest random monsters" with SCS (which I don't really like tbh, and is one of 2 components I don't install - along with Improved Spiders)

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Thanks for all your very valuable input. I have actually changed how I run a play through with this mod installed. I am really holding off on a lot of side quests and mod content. I actually really enjoy the spawning toughest encounters. A double whammy lich fight followed by another lich fight when saving Mazzy is brilliantly fun. It also means that I need two mages/sorcerers with 1 that has spell strike and the other at least casting ruby ray. I never used Chaos or Greater Malison before but now I am finding them to be my best friend. Spell Sequencers are also really brutal. Even Improved Invis and Non-detection work wonders. It has forced me to actually pay attention which is very new for this game.


The Unseeing Eye has a 100% avoidable, really really ugly lich when you go to kill the zombie lord. That fight is brutal. Also fun as hell as long as you can survive the two meteor drops.


I actually do hate to say it but I am cheating with this game more. I particularly find the total lack of +3 scimitars in any store and very very rare or non-existent random drops disheartening. As a GM, I personally find the idea of locking people up in a room with dudes which can only be harmed by >+X weapons and then not giving or providing and >+X weapons horrible. With the Spawning Monster's and the "Taking Weapons from the Gauntlet" it is actually impossible as in you cannot possibly survive unless you are somehow magical. You have a +3 spear and eventually a +3 staff. That isn't even a challenge... that is just instant death. Armed with those two weapons you have to take down 3 greater mummies and a lich. No other weapon can actually hurt the mummies and they basically have 100% spell resistance. The lich isn't so bad but the mummies destroy you with really horrible DoT diseases. So that one was an either or for me. I know it doesn't make sense to not have my gear stripped away but I have to be able to hit the things in the location I am in. That was a small compromise.


Actually, I do give Jaheira +4 scimitars just to hit the Demi-lich and I either give Mazzy cut-throat or switch her to long swords. A fight is no fun when you can't hit the creatures. That isn't a challenge so much as slow and unrelenting death.

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