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Sword Coast Stratagems v33 now available


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No apology needed. But I don't really mind that Kahrk can be more powerful than Sarevok (there's a very long tradition of optional bosses being tougher than the main boss) and if I did, I'd probably respond by nerfing Kahrk. Consensus seems to be that SCS Sarevok is already powerful enough.

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Guest Ront

Your reasoning is not wrong at all and I kinda agree. 

 

But I m still sad that a child of bhaal is worse than him  :p

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Guest Guest

Karkh was crap compared to sarevok in old version of bg.

So the buff to sarevok or nerf to karkh would be warranted if one took a look on how originally things were meant to be

 

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True, but it’s a special case of “spellcasters are weak compared to non-spellcasters”. SCS systematically increases the efficacy of spellcasters relative to non-spellcasters, just because spellcasters benefit much more from improved AI. Compensating for that is way outside the scope of SCS.

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Guest Guest

I m not debating that scs improves mainly spellcasters. I'm advocating that karkh being so strong was not how things are intended to be in vanilla bg.

And the compensating thing is not on point, considering that some components from scs added actually do that.. e.g the amazons being immune to sleep. Not all amazons are spellcasters, but they are touched anyway.

 

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“This is how it was supposed to be in vanilla BG” isn’t a persuasive argument for a tactical mod.

if SCS actively improved Kahrk’s level, or attack rolls, or resistances, I’d be more sympathetic. But it just gives him better AI and spell/proficiency choices. The normal philosophy for SCS is : give creatures the best AI possible; if they’re still not challenging enough, mess with their abilities. I hardly ever actively nerf creatures’ abilities.

”Hardly ever” isn’t “never”. I’m not averse, in principle, to reducing Kahrk’s abilities. (I can see the case that interpreting his level as a spellcaster level is inappropriate given that he doesn’t use sixth level spells.) But I don’t find the comparison to Sarevok in the vanilla game to be a good argument for that reduction.

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I don't find Karkh exceptionally difficult to bring down. Bring his defenses down, spam him with summonlings, cast insects, shoot him from afar... I don't want to say it is easy, but quite doable.

And for the comparison with Sarevok - Sarevok is not that special on his own, as is the Baalspawn PC. It is the combination with the companions that makes a strong force. Karkh is on his own. A single foe will never be as powerful as a party.

 

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I also think Khark is ok : really tough to beat but, hey, he's a 12th level fighter/mage in vanilla also. Like David says, only the AI and spell selection has been improved. Also, this is an entirely optional fight.

I'm more concerned about Icharyd. I'm always having a really bad time with him. My feeling is that he's maybe the only fight which isn't fair, and so it's the only encounter, to my eyes, which isn't really treated the way SCS do things usually (in BG1 at least). For your information, i usually wait to be at least level 6 before meeting him, because i know he's one the toughest fights in the game (unless maybe you're waiting till the endgame to fight him, which would make no sense to me, since Ulcaster is not designed for an endgame group).

He's not optional if you want to enter the ruins. That's a big difference from other tough guys like Khark or Shandalar. There is no way you  can escape him. He has already good stats, being undead : resistance to magic, slashing and piercing weapons. He strikes really hard, and is also a tough guy to beat with warriors, especially since there is no single class warrior in the game who is proficient with crushing weapons, if i'm not mistaken.

I think the script that gives him back all his HP when he's almost down, + wipes out all your active spells and summonings + launch call lightning without any warning is a bit too much. Really, hard metagaming is required here, moreso than in any other fight of BG1 to my knowledge.

Basically Icharyd is healing himself to full HP + debuffing all your magic on all your characters + launching a powerful attack spell. All of that in just one second.

I think the main issue is the automatic dispelling of all your active spells. There is no way you can escape it. It feels like massive cheat to me (no spell in the game can do that). Also, the fact that your characters are moved back near Icharyd at this moment can lead to some nasty, deadly strike.

All in all, i really don't like the script you gave him, and I think a less "cheated" way of modifying this encounter would be appreciated.

That's my opinion on him anyway. Ulcaster's final wolf encounter is much more balanced and fun from my point of view.

Apart from this guy, I must add that v33 is extremely stable and really fun to play with. Thanks again, David.

Edited by Palanthis
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Quick observations:

1) Icharyd is sensitive to the difficulty slider. (It's not documented for some reason). On Improved (or Basic), he doesn't get his hit points restored and you don't get struck by lightning. So the quick way to tone the fight down is just to move the slider for that battle.

2) It's not actually intentional for him to dispel your spells. I think that must be a side effect of my making it dark: it gets implemented by moving the game timer forward. I'll mark that up as a bug.

3) While he does have to be killed to get at the ruins, he's only there in the first place if you install Improved Ulcaster, and that component only does two things: improve Icharyd and improve the Vampiric wolf. So I don't think it's a problem per se that you have to fight him to get in. (Contrast Kahrk, who's affected by one of the core 'improved AI' components, rather than being a tactical challenge.)

4) Icharyd has been essentially unchanged since the release of SCS back in 2006(!) and so I'm reluctant to change him now, especially as feedback has mostly been positive. (But I am inclined to fix the debuffing since it was never intentional, and that may address your concern in any case.)

5) I'm very happy to hear that about stability. That seems to have been consistent feedback about v33 (and to a large extent about v32, putting aside the problems with the NPC customization component.)

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The dispel did kill me the first time because I had forgotten about it from previous playthroughs, but it just ended being that I cast some buffs at the start of the second phase instead. Does require a little bit of meta-knowledge, but overall didn't think he was that bad...as compared to Kahrk whom I faced like an entire level or two later and the battle of which lasted for literally like 30 minutes using exploits because I wasn't even remotely powerful enough to kill him fairly, :p. It was a bad idea to take Confusion instead of Secret Word on my sorcerer first.

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6 hours ago, DavidW said:

2) It's not actually intentional for him to dispel your spells. I think that must be a side effect of my making it dark: it gets implemented by moving the game timer forward. I'll mark that up as a bug.

Changing day to night advances the in-game clock, causing spells and effects with a duration to run out (and the party to be fatigued if you're unlucky).  This is the only annoying thing in a fight that I find otherwise challenging but enjoyable.  I usually take the ruins on around level 5-6.

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Amusing that I haven't noticed that in fourteen years!

(I would have caught it instantly if I'd coded it any time recently, but this is code from long ago.)

I suppose I should ask: is it actively good that Icharyd dispels defenses? My inclination is not, but sometimes accidents lead to serendipitous results, and if people like it I'll keep it.)

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I did this fight a couple months ago.  I didn't particularly care about defenses being dispelled - they come and go anyway in difficult fights, and this fight is a slog.  Like a little BG1 version of a lich->demilich or Draconis->dragon fight. 

The bigger issue is fatigue.  It can be pretty debilitating, and you cannot prevent or counter it when applied like this.  Plus it is annoyingly variable, depending on how long the party has traveled and what their CON scores are.  If you are not changing anything else, I would consider adding an opcode 93 effect that sets the party's fatigue to a low value after the clock change, to prevent this unintended effect.

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I think the Icharyd fight (which I experienced a few times using the Improved Ulcaster component) only needs to have the dispelling removed but subtledoctor is also raising a good point about fatigue. I agree much less with him about keeping the dispelling effect just because defenses in difficult fights "come and go anyway". To me, that is actually one more reason to remove it.

Everything else is top notch, in my opinion.

Edited by Salk
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Personal opinion (of course) :

  • dispelling is not a problem for me (read : I like it as it is).
    It's just "one more" fight with dispelling :) I eventually cast/drink after the dispelling.
  • fatigue can be a problem : I know it, so I sleep just before for years :)

All in all, is it worth fixing ? I don't know :)

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