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Time of Icewind Dale Content's Availability in the BG Campaign [SoD and IWD spoilers]

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1 hour ago, subtledoctor said:
1 hour ago, Istfemer said:

How are you going to handle IWD's areas if your plan is to let Charname tumble down the time travel hole? Will those areas still be accessible from the world map when Charname and the player finish their 'special adventure' or not? I'm talking primarily about areas that are unique to IWD1.

No. 

Well, I guess this approach of yours does avoid the hassle of rewriting dialogue etc. in order to make those areas compatible with the 'normal' EET timeline. However, it creates a noticeable issue: you'll have many more areas on the worldmap that'll read 'DESTINATION UNREACHABLE' and I have no idea how you're going to justify all that. *Why* should Easthaven be suddenly unreachable in current timeline? Such unexplained unreachableness will stick out like a sore thumb.

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Do they have to go on the worldmap? If IWD2 is part of the base campaign and it shares areas like Kuldahar with IWD1, then I assume the IWD1 areas won't be on the main worldmap in any event...

If IWD1 is a Wish adventure, then it can be its own thing with its own custom map navigation. You know how when you go from IWD to HoW, it transitions to a different worldmap? Same deal. 

Edited by subtledoctor

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If Charname visited Easthaven in the 'timey-wimey' timeline it wouldn't make sense to not also have Easthaven on the worldmap in the current timeline. And since this is EET, if it's on the worldmap it should be explorable unless a *really solid* justification exists to the contrary.

Regarding Kuldahar and similar overlapping areas:

I don't know if the engine of EEs supports the (temporary) removal of known areas from the worldmap. Probably not, but if it does some day: remove IWD2 Kuldahar -> replace it with IWD1 Kuldahar and keep it so until the 'special adventure' ends -> remove IWD1 Kuldahar & restore IWD2 Kuldahar. Shouldn't cause continuity problems, should it?

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Note, in this idea you would only reach Easthaven by teleporting - not by boat. Your travel is thereafter seriously restricted, and even though you go through some areas that might later be accessible from the main worldmap - Kuldahar, the Hand, etc. - during this adventure you are snowbound, and the adventure ends back at Easthaven. So when you go back to the sword coast, it's reasonable that you might not be able to go overland to Easthaven. It was never accessible in the first place, except via a Wish spell, and it's pretty well destroyed at the end of the IWD1 adventure, so who knows if it even exists anymore? (Sure we might know, but Charname wouldn't.)

So I think it's totally reasonable for the IWD1 areas to be inaccessible, except for the ones that are also in IWD2. (And for those, you'll get the IWD2 version anyway.)

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This mod aims to add Icewind Dale to Baldur's Gate, in the same world map. To then re-separate it is..................... why are we even discussing this?

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I understand the need to separate out IWD 1.  There are areas that are repeated in IWD1 and IWD2.  Does that icon on your map for Kuldahar or the Severed Hand take you to the IWD1 or IWD2 version of the map? I would have preferred to have both IWD 1 and 2 coexistent with all of BG, but it just isn't feasible, continuity-wise. IWD1 takes place many years (nearly a hundred, I think?) before the events of both BG and IWD2.  All the IWD2 icons will still appear on the combined map.

When it comes to XP adjustments -- the mod should not force a particular style. One of EET's strengths is that, through tweaks, it can acommodate many styles of play. Some players prefer to ensure that their PC still has no more than 161k XP by the time he faces Sarevok -- despite having undertaken NToTSC, DSotSC, Stone of Askavar, Grey Clan,  etc.  I faced Sarevok at level 13 or 14 (I think?) having done all those things with no XP reduction. I am very strongly opposed to forcing a "you can't take it with you" approach to the rewards from IWD1. Let us decide how to manage our own party's progression.

Accessibility: I have heard many folks talk about *when* in the BG saga should IWD1 fit in. Like above, I think that will vary by player. I've heard some say it should be post-BG1. Others say Nashkel. There are good arguments for many places. I think the best bet is for the option to become available fairly early on, and to leave it up to the player to decide when to make the journey. Likewise, I strongly feel that we should be able to come and go between adventures.

A way to make this all occur is for there to be an item or ability that simply transports the party between the IWD campaign map and the full BG-EET map. Why the PC has that item or ability can be left up to others. That's where time-travel, demon scroll, wish, or whatever can come into play. It does appear that the events of IWD1 must remain in the past, and the present-time BG-EET map can and will have the IWD2 (etc) icons on it. Whatever the justification, I very much want to be able to come and go from IWD1 and BG-EET -- just like I would with any other large quest mod. Or IWD2, for that matter.

I'm intrigued by the level scaling mentioned. I'm glad to see that for IWD1, at least. Let's face it, the early parts of IWD1 would be an absolute cakewalk for a moderately developed vanilla BG1 party -- especially late BG1. A party that has done other large mods has an even easier time. I will probably use the scaling option.

Thanks so much for all of your hard work so far, K4thos!

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regarding worldmap concerns - current timeline worldmap will point to IWD2 versions of areas that exists in both games (Kuldahar, Kuldahar Pass, Dragon's Eye and Severed Hand) Revealing area in the past worldmap doesn't mean that the same area will show up in the current time worldmap.

While other IWD1 base areas won't be available in the current timeline, IWD-in-EET is meant to be open platform (just like EET), so if anyone will come up with a mod idea that repurposes locations like Dorn's Deep and The Vale of Shadows, and fills them with current timeline content, such mods are more than welcomed.

8 hours ago, Istfemer said:

I don't know if the engine of EEs supports the (temporary) removal of known areas from the worldmap. Probably not, but if it does some day: remove IWD2 Kuldahar -> replace it with IWD1 Kuldahar and keep it so until the 'special adventure' ends -> remove IWD1 Kuldahar & restore IWD2 Kuldahar. Shouldn't cause continuity problems, should it?

the engine supports dynamic worldmap switching as well as hiding and reviling areas.

45 minutes ago, Lightbringer said:

Likewise, I strongly feel that we should be able to come and go between adventures.

A way to make this all occur is for there to be an item or ability that simply transports the party between the IWD campaign map and the full BG-EET map. Why the PC has that item or ability can be left up to others. That's where time-travel, demon scroll, wish, or whatever can come into play. It does appear that the events of IWD1 must remain in the past, and the present-time BG-EET map can and will have the IWD2 (etc) icons on it. Whatever the justification, I very much want to be able to come and go from IWD1 and BG-EET -- just like I would with any other large quest mod. Or IWD2, for that matter.

It's one thing to come up with a wish that can be twisted (I assume that's the option you prefer). But it would be hell a lot more difficult to come up with story justification for teleporting in and out of the past/parallel timeline at will. Ideas how to explain this without it all sounding silly (even by Forgotten Realms standards) is of course welcome.

45 minutes ago, Lightbringer said:

I'm intrigued by the level scaling mentioned. I'm glad to see that for IWD1, at least. Let's face it, the early parts of IWD1 would be an absolute cakewalk for a moderately developed vanilla BG1 party -- especially late BG1. A party that has done other large mods has an even easier time. I will probably use the scaling option.

I'm surprised that level scaling portion of the post has not been discussed here. Based on the posts from this topic I was expecting strong reactions 😛

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Edited by K4thos

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The discussion there pretty well highlights why going to either extreme is a bad odea, when it comes to scaling. As I said, 100 goblin chiefs with 10 HD each sacking a single farm outside Kuldahar is just stupid. They could take over the town!

OTOH giving them 4 hp each is boring. There is a middle ground, buffing them slightly, but keeping in mind that goblins are *supposed* to be easy. The early portions of the campaign are supposed to ease you into things, not just for tactical reasons but for psychlogical and storytelling reasons. 

Lizard men could reasonably be buffed, but things like sword spiders and bombardier beetles and trolls should not be. (Those are SoA enemies.)  tl;dr: a light touch works best when it comes to scaling. 

Ideally, though, make it moddable. If a mod wants to make IWD1 a Wish quest available from Athkatla, let that mod tune the enemies to be tougher. If a different mod sends you there before fighting Sarevok, let it turn off any such scaling and turn down XP rewards, etc. 

Dunno how feasible that is, but keeping as modular as possible would be best IMHO. 

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Does it matter if some fights are easy in IwD? I cut down Sarevok in less than thirty seconds with my party at the end of BG1. There are some nice rewards and loot to be had in IwD but the catch is that you have to finish the campaign before taking all that loot home with you. ;)

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I'm personally torn on the level scaling thing, myself.  I tend to agree that some of it is good (specially when it's done correctly) but on the other hand, you get things like Oblivion and Neverwinter Nights where trying to play a high level character to make the game easy, actually makes the game much harder... which I hate.

In my mind, if the scaling is done well, I'm of the type that prefers scaling to mean more mobs over super-buffed mobs, and vice-versa let difficulty slide control the buffing of each actual mob or not.

But, as said by @subtledoctor above, there's cases where it makes no sense (narrative-wise) to have many-many more enemies than designed, so, it's a double edged sword. It has to be approached on an encounter by encounter basis, which is a lot of work.

I don't know what your chosen solution might be, but if it's feasible I'd suggest a double-tiered approach, where there are level bands inside whom high level only means more enemies until you reach the next tier... i.e. for example, taking levels as offsets from the actual designed area base-level, L+1 to +2, as designed, L+3 to +5 some spawns randomly spawn 1 to 3 more enemies, L+6 to +8 all spawns spawn double enemies plus some spawn beefy-ed up versions with low chance but those spawns are back to normal numbers, L+9 to +10 more beefy spawns start appearing, but standard mobs always spawn at max number, and so on... then it comes a point where all base mobs are replaced by buffed ones and the next tier of them is introduced as buffed versions... perhaps is not perfect and it might be better to just provide several buffed up version of opponents, but if you do so, there will be slices of levels that might be harder than designed.

You also have two paths when buffing up mobs in a spawn, one is introduce a copy of the same exact type of mob but with increased stats, and the other is just replace it with a more challenging enemy from the same thematic list (if it's available in the game ofc.) so there are plenty of options to tweak!  In any case, whatever path you chose, it'll surely be a balancing nightmare, I tell you! 😃

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@K4thos It's definitely a tricky problem. If you consider a "typical" idea of progression for a BG1 game, you might be level 2-3 for Nashkel, 5-6 for the Bandit Camp, then hit the level cap in Baldur's Gate City proper. Of course, all this varies widely with party numbers (1? 4? 6?) and play style -- or level cap removers. Regardless, Nashkel or Beregost could be a good first place to introduce the IWD1campaign.

Here's why it's important to be able to go back and forth between segments of IWD1 and BG1 -- you finish IWD1 near level 20.  That's Spellhold/Underdark levels, and you haven't even been to the Cloakwood. It would completely ruin the rest of BG1 to do it all in one haul. I can see, then, the reasoning behind the whole IWD1 experience not affecting the rest of BG-EET.  However, I still think we need to find a way to combine it all meaningfully. Many of us want to enjoy the rewards of IWD1 just like we would any other large quest mod.

I see this as two different problems -- mechanics, and lore/story.

Mechanics: what is the best way to allow a party to experience IWD1?

Lore/Story: How is the above mechanic justified within the world of the Forgotten Realms?

Personally, I believe the first problem must be solved independent of the second.  Only afterwards should we find a way to justify it. With all the creative minds here, I'm sure we can come up with something that can work.

As stated above, I believe we need a way to go back and forth at will between campaigns. Perhaps do the Intro plus Vale of Shadows after Nashkell, Dragon's Eye after Baldur's Gate City, Severed Hand after Chateau Irenicus, Dorn's Deep before Spellhold -- or whatever other order fits a player's own idea of progression.

Now as to the justification: There are many possibilities. Here's one.

1.  If you implement the Twisted Wish idea, you could have Arundel (the Druid I think?) in Kuldahar sense that you are "displaced" and give you an enchanted seed that allows you to travel back and forth between times. You can make it at will or time limited -- even working only once per large story event in IWD1. Why does Arundel have that seed? A gift from Sylvanus, of course. Sylvanus, being Neutrally aligned, could present such a gift to a party of any alignment.

Here's another.

2. No twisted wish. Your destiny as a Bhaalspawn has distrupted the fabric of spacetime in the Realms. Why?  Good question. Perhaps we'll never know.  A powerful being from the past has his destiny altered by your future. The whole thing is coming unraveled. You must return to the past and ensure that what happened remains so -- defeat Balhifet in Icewind Dale -- thus insuring that his fate remains intact for you to defeat him in SoD. Whoever reveals this to you (probably highly cryptically) gives you a strange object that allows you to go back and forth in time (as you grow in power) to ensure that the past events in IWD1 proceed as they must.

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One idea I thought of for keeping IWD1 separated would be to treat it like a "dream", maybe? I.e. something like, if you rest in a certain place (I don't know where, something specific or relevant to the IWD1 quest/story line, maybe?) you experience this as a sort of an alternate reality/timeline from your current one, and when you end that you come back right to where you were at the start in the normal timeline. The transition could even give you the option of taking your companions with you or not. The good side of this is that it implies that time doesn't necessarily passes on your current timeline while you're "out" thus you could come back and  reset the current date to what it was before you went out (+8hs), if it's something feasible to do, of course.

The con with this is that you can't easily justify bringing back items with this approach, but you could potentially justify bringing back levels and knowledge (learnt spells...)  But, having said that, since as you said IWD1 happens in the past, it's entirely possible to give the player a choice of leaving items in some sort of "hidden" container in one the "overlapping" areas, and then go there in the current timeline after you finished your IWD1 adventure, and find that items you left in the "past" are actually there now.

But the important thing is, this could be just an additional way of transferring, maybe, over the normal ones, to be used by people that doesn't want to bring back items (or even XP, given the possibility of an option of turning that off too, all under player choice.)

Edited by Leeux
rewrote a phrase

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I like the idea of a "dream" you get by resting in specific location, that was mentioned. It allows you to consume IWD1 in bite size chunks in between stuff you do main campaign and also lets you do IWD1 even during IWD2 or after, because that stuff already happened anyways, you just "observing it". Also there is a lot of things you can do to play with this idea. For example dreaming could be explained like: you encounter part of some artifact, that when you sleep in specific place pulls you to relive it's history and see where missing part ended so you can fix it. Or instead of artifact it could be that you need to relive past of your ancestor. Dream also allows you to easily explain other stuff, like why is your party there with you (you just replace past party members with familiar faces), potential power shifts when going in and out, why you don't keep items (could potentially get them after ending IWD1, like @Leeux mentioned, hidden in some area)

ofc dream explanation may seem like cheap one, but if done with care it can make sense and it solves a lot of issues present in other ways of handling IWD1 content.

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I guess there's another way to make the campaigns fit into the Bhaalspawn saga as others have pointed out above. You would slowly make progress in both settings (IwD and IwD2) as you leveled up in the main game and be done with them towards the end of ToB. Works for me as well. I guess balancing would only be a matter of reducing XP gain in that case.

Edited by The_Rock

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The dream idea could work, but I'd need a way to bring back items.  It may sound weird at first, but there's already plenty of precedent for dreams to produce physical effects for the bhaalspawn -- sounds lingering, cold, pressure, etc. You wake up with new abilities. It's not that far of a further stretch to awake with physical objects.

I think we all need to agree going in that, for IWD1 to appear in EET at all, there's going to have to be a little extra willing suspension of disbelief. One advantage of the dream approach is that you could allow the player to decide in-game whether or not XP, Spells, gold, items, etc are brought back -- perhaps even on a per-dream basis. Total customization.

Edit: H/T @Leeux, you already noted the customization ability of the dream :D

Edited by Lightbringer

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