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DavidW

Restored Rhynn Lanthorn Quest

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(I've written a very small mod that restores the extended Rhynn Lanthorn search from the beta version of Baldur's Gate II. I'm probably eventually going to roll it into either SCS or another of my projects, so I won't create a full forum space for it yet - I'll just put details here.)

The beta version of Baldur's Gate II contained a mechanic to expand Chapter 6 (the one where you are looking for the Rhynn Lanthorn). As well as the Lanthorn itself, the thief would have stolen several lenses and hidden them in areas around the game. The player would be given clues to where the lenses were, and would have to retrieve them before the Lanthorn could be used to enter Chapter 7. The lenses were actually placed in several of the stronghold quests that the player can explore in Chapter 2 (and if the player had already done all of those quests, no lenses would be placed). The idea, presumably, was to introduce a mechanic to bind the stronghold quests into the main plot of Chapter 6, just as the need to gather gold binds them into the main plot of Chapter 2.

This expanded Rhynn Lanthorn quest was removed from Baldur's Gate II before release (at a guess, because the clues leading to the lenses were a bit too gnomic for casual players, and there wasn't time to fill in the details.) But almost all the machinery of the quest is still present in the game - the scripts that place the lenses, the lenses themselves, and even the dialog lines that give the clues to where the lenses were. That makes it possible to reconstruct almost exactly how the quest worked.

This mod simply restores the quest. There are two options. The first ('classic') is almost an exact restoration of how the original version of the quest would have gone. The second ('expanded') increases the number of locations in which lenses may be found, to include four extra side-quest regions in the original game not tied to a stronghold quest. You can also customise the installation (via the 'dw_lanthorn.ini' file in the mod folder) to deselect any possible lens location you don't want to use.

Download links

Readme

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A few questions:

Q: What does this do?

A: A certain number of creatures (7 in the classic option, 11 in the expanded one) are potential lens-bearers. The game gives up to 3 lenses to creatures that you haven't killed yet. (If you've killed all of them, there are no lenses and you won't notice this mod at all.)

Q: Which creatures?

A: In the classic option: Torgal, Mae'Var, Mekrath (it's actually in his treasure chest, you needn't kill him), Samia (in Firkraag's lair), a troll in the Troll Mound (near the druid grove), the Shade Lord, and the Unseeing Eye. In the expanded option: also Kangaxx, Layene (the Twisted Rune mage), the Alhoon in the mind flayer sewer hideout, and Koshi (in the Guarded Compound).

Q: How is it decided which creatures have the lenses?

A: At random. (This is about my only modification from the original version, which had a preferred order.)

Q: I hate one of those quests! What can I do about it?

A: Set 'skip_[that quest]' in dw_lanthorn.ini, before installing.

Q: When do I install it in my mod order?

A: Whenever you like, I think.

Q: Do I need to start a new game?

A: Yes, definitely. (If you want to hack it into an existing game, count up manually how many lens-holders you've killed and set the global variable 'LensPlot' to that number.)

Q: Which versions of the game does it work with?

A: All my testing is on BG2EE, but it probably also works on BGT, EET and BGII-ToB.

Q: Install time?

A: About fifteen seconds (in a welcome change from SCS).

Q: Any compatibility problems?

A: It's conceptually incompatible with the 'restored Lanthorn' component of Oversight, and with Roxanne's 'broken Lanthorn' quest. Other than that, not as far as I know: it's pretty compatibility-friendly, since it just reactivates code already in the game.

Q: Wait - Oversight already restores the Lanthorn quest? Why bother with this, then?

A: The oversight version doesn't really restore the cut Lanthorn quest so much as write a new quest inspired by the cut quest. (No dialog lines are reused, the mechanics are different, up to eight lenses might be present, Elhan doesn't mention the lenses, and the actual locations are different.) There's nothing wrong with the Oversight quest, but I was interesting in restoring the original one as faithfully as possible.

Q: Is this actually a good idea? Or did Bioware remove it for a reason?

A: I don't actually know. I was more interested in the technical puzzle of restoring it than anything else, to be honest. 

 

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This is quite helpful, as the Oversight version didn't behave nicely with any mods that modified the same CRE scripts in areas where the the lenses were hidden.  Thanks!

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45 minutes ago, DavidW said:

A: In the classic option: Torgal, Mae'Var, Mekrath (it's actually in his treasure chest, you needn't kill him), Samia (in Firkraag's lair), a troll in the Troll Mound (near the druid grove), the Shade Lord, and the Unseeing Eye. In the expanded option: also Kangaxx, Layene (the Twisted Rune mage), the Alhoon in the mind flayer sewer hideout, and Koshi (in the Guarded Compound)

Little bizarre choices by the vanilla game there. I guess, like you said, it was to try to enforce that people actually bothered to visit locations and engage with most of the major sidequests, but none of these guys would pose any challenge whatsoever for a post-Spellhold party, so I imagine it'd be very unsatisfying and feel like a very weird, dissonant end-game quest to bother with. There should be a third option: ONLY expanded options...but of course, you'd have to add more options, and uh, I'm not certain that I can really think of. Maybe Firkraag...and I'm already out of ideas.

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They're seven of the eight stronghold quests (I think the eighth is skipped on realism grounds, as it's almost all in another plane that Bodhi couldn't reach.)

I guess that the Shade Lord, the Unseeing Eye, and Torgal are the endgame bosses of their respective stronghold quests, and so at least moderately challenging - especially to a party who went fairly directly to Spellhold. The others are speedbumps, but I suppose the idea is that if you did the stronghold quest already then you probably killed the lens-bearer, and conversely, if you go to the area to get the lens-bearer you'll probably do the quest while you're at it.

You can get the third option by installing 'expanded' and disabling all the vanilla quests via dw_lanthorn.ini.

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2 hours ago, Caedwyr said:

This is quite helpful, as the Oversight version didn't behave nicely with any mods that modified the same CRE scripts in areas where the the lenses were hidden.  Thanks!

Also (see above) the content of the Oversight version is pretty different.

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How does this interface with Roxanne's Broken Lanthorn quest?  What's the proper install order?

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Completely missed this! Congratulations on the release!

There area few stronghold quests I'll surely do in Chapter 2 in all my playthroughs, but with the other places this is a nice expansion that makes chapter 6 a little longer without giving a bad conscience about letting the elven city wait.

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6 hours ago, Endarire said:

How does this interface with Roxanne's Broken Lanthorn quest?  What's the proper install order?

Having now looked at this:

- The two quests are conceptually incompatible: they tell basically-inconsistent stories about lenses being removed from the Lanthorn. (Roxanne's is basically a new quest, inspired slightly by unused game files.)

- It looks to me as if they are also technically incompatible - they edit the relevant bits of Elhan's dialog in incompatible ways. In view of the conceptual incompatibility, I'm not minded to find a fix for the technical issue.

Choose one or the other, basically. 

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Great idea!

I remember having proofread these lines of text when updating the French correct Pack, and I am so happy they will be actually used. ;)

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Huh.  This is sort of shockingly similar to an idea I had to introduce macguffins in order to give a bit more reason for the player to go around and do the various stronghold-antecedent quests, in the face of apparent urgency to get on with the main quest.  Who knew that the original devs had a similar idea!

OTOH my idea was to do it in chapter 3, and I still think that makes more sense.  In Chapter 6 you are hot on Irenicus' trail, and well-equipped to confront him.  I get the general sense that most players, at that point, are more interested in getting on with the show rather than side-questing.  Very speculatively, maybe the chapter 6 placement had something to do with why this was cut.  In Chapter 3, these could be lenses of a magical telescope, or something, that is required to find Brynnlaw.  That seems perfectly reasonable, given how everyone says Spellhold is so difficult to find.  (Heck, tie it back to BG1, make it the same telescope that was used to find Balduran's Isle!)  IMHO something like this go a lot further toward hepling the player feel immersed in chapters 2/3 than simply raising Gaelan Bayle's price. 

And I wonder how hard it would be, given that the actual implementation is already done!  Maybe change some of Aran Linvail's dialogue, instead of Elhan's?  I don't know without looking at it, and this is not the sort of thing I'm good at even if I did look at it.  But I would be VERY interested in a version of this that could, at the player's discretion, be installed in either chapter 3 or chapter 6. And I'd be willing to help out, to the extent I am able, to make that happen.

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I think the devs regarded the need to collect gold as the reason to do quests in chapter 2; this was supposed to do the same for chapter 6 (the other period where you have free access to the map). And of course my own solution to the problem of why you don't just rush to Spellhold is SCS's increase-the-fee component.

As for moving this to chapter 3: technically it's not too difficult, especially if it's intended as an alternative to the chapter 6 lens quest rather than a supplement. You would need to replace the existing description for c6lens with appropriate text. You'd need to move the existing randomizer script from ar2401 to some other appropriate area. And you'd need to write a few lines of dialog to stich the quest into the new questgiver's dialog. (The existing sage lines would work fine, especially if the magical telescope-or-whatever is elven.) The coding of the .d files would be a little delicate because I generate some of it at install time, but nothing unmanageable.

Conceptually, I'm less convinced. Spellhold is on the same island as Brynnlaw; Brynnlaw is reachable by mundane vessels; it is at least moderately well known by commoners at Brynnlaw that Spellhold is there. I don't find it plausible that an organization as well-connected as the Shadow Thieves wouldn't know where it was already. And that's if you join up with Aran. If you join with Bodhi, she knows where Spellhold is anyway, and by that stage she's probably keen to get you there.

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@DavidW
In a minimal spoilerific fashion, what does Roxanne's Lens Hunt quest do compared to yours?  As you said, they use some of the same files.

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2 minutes ago, Endarire said:

@DavidW
In a minimal spoilerific fashion, what does Roxanne's Lens Hunt quest do compared to yours?  As you said, they use some of the same files.

Mine is described as above. It's hardly 'mine' at all - it's restored content, with a few dialog lines to replace lines that were lost irretrievably from the original.

Roxanne's (on the basis of a quick look through the files, I haven't played it) has Elhan discover, after the Lanthorn is returned, that some lenses were lost when elves chased Bodhi through the Forest of Tethir and the Small Teeth Pass. You have to go and get them; there are a couple of new encounters in those areas. This is almost entirely of Roxanne's creation: it uses a couple of unused item files from the original game, but I think that's it.

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