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My thoughts about Divine Remix


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Maybe nobody will care, but it is something i felt like detailing for quite a long time, so here we go.

First of all, i really love the sphere concept and i am dying to use it ever since i discovered this wonderful mod 2 years ago. However, i've never installed it due to various reasons.

1) I just launched a new BG2 game on an unmodded original BG2 game. I wanted to do some testing before reinstalling a large BGT install. For testing sake, i created a NG cleric, and looked at the default spheres for cleric spells as described ingame. I won't detail why, but i planned to play a Fitghter (9) dual classed to Priest of Lathander. And, while looking at the spheres for cleric spells in game and in the DR readme, i noticed the following: It seems i won't be able to use the following spells (you'll have to forgive me, i will kind of translate the names from my french version of BG2ūüėě

-LVL1 Armor of Faith, lvl 2 Silence (5 meters), lvl 3 Animate Dead, Dispell Magic, Strenght of one, Obstinate (?), Miscast, lvl 4 Summoning I, Defensive Harmony, Protection from evil (3m), Poison, Holy Might, (possibly) Protection against death and protection against level drains, lvl 5 Flame Strike (Got 1 per day as special power though), Righteous Magic, Summoning II, Champion's strenght, Slay living, Magic resistance, lvl 6 Summoning III, Conjure animals, Bolt of glory, lvl 7 Confusion, Finger of death, Gate, Shield of the Archons, Holy word.

There are a few i didn't bother to list since they are not that usefull to begin with. But looking at that i am like.. 'Holy sh** !' That is a HUGE drawback. Like in HUGE. So i looked at the special abilities. I see that Heal and Greater restoration are already in my spell book (and i will have all the room i need to memorize as many of them as i want, since the other usefull spells won't be there anymore). I get Flame strike once per day and Hold undeads once per day. And... Lathander's boon once per day. Well, things are not as terrible as they were but still... they are far fom being good in my opinion. Consequently, i looked at the Helm kit (since the game won't let me use any DR kits if i dual class, even Shadow Keeper won't allow it). So, i see i will finally get the protection sphere, but for some reason, Helm has no acces to 'Law' (meaning, spells like Defensive Harmony are out of the question again). I have a minor acces to war and major to combat (i can at least have a limited acces to self buffing/protective magic) but i can't have any summoning spells and i have extremely limited acces to healing, restorative and to some extend, protection spells. Ok; so Helm is out of the question for me, too.

So the conclusion for 1) is that i feel like even though DR is full of potential and looks extremely endearing while looking at the readme, in the end, Divine Casters end up being nerfed quite heavily, when i always thought they were somwehat underpowered compared to Arcane Spell Casters to begin with. Obviously, this brings a first question: Is there a revamp of spheres with Divine Remix, or are the spells in the same spheres as in the original game? If this is tweaked, bringing some explanations in the readme would be welcomed, because i'm sure many are interested in Divine Remix but tend to draw the same kind of conclusions as i do. And i believe the purpose of readmes would be to make sure people are not mistaken.

2) To try to balance the problems in 1), i started to look at some mods adding divine spells and improving those already there. So my sights were directed towards IWDification and Spells Revisions. Except.. And this this the second problem... DR readme states that it had some IWD spells before but that they were withdrawn and put into IWDification instead. But nowhere could i find any informations about whether these spells can be used by Divine Remix and its sphere system or not. I've spent hours looking for these informations, and unless i'm blind, i couldn't find anything. And it's the same for Spells Revisions. I don't know if current versions of both mods can coexist peacefully and if Divine Remix can make use of the modified spells of Spells Revisions without messing up the whole sphere system. My worry is that if Spells Revisions replace some divine spells, Divine Remix may not find them anymore, and either crash during installation, provide me with annoying 'string missing' kind of messages in game, or with a well-nigh empty spellbook (because modified spells wouldn't be added properly)

I am far from being very good with heavily modded BGT installations. Actually, i would differ such installations for years because it's such a pain in the ass when i mess everything up. And there are so many wonderful mods for Baldur's Gate that it becomes hard to refrain myself from wanting to add many of them. That's why i won't test every single mod with every single other, desinstall, rince and repeat 100 times, in order to test the whole thing. What is more i feel such an effort would be in vain because sometimes, conflicts come from an unexpected source. I've already spent like one week reading forums, readmes, and such, in order to select my mods. This brings the second question: Is there a reliable way to be sure of DR remix's compatibility with IWDification and Spells Revisions? Actually, the compatibility of DR with mods like Sword Coast Stratagems bothers me, too. But i guess that in that particular case, it would depend more on SCS's side.

One last thing. Divine Remix is probably one of the most difficult mod to approach for me. I stated it already, but while the mod concept itself makes one think 'This should have been in the game from the start', it feels that in the end it's more of a 'Mod that will nerf your cleric like no other could'. Which is why i asked the questions in 1) and 2) , in order to make sure i'm not mistaken. But all in all, as i see things right now, some of the most usefull priest spells should be more easily acessible (there are only 2 kits in DR that can actually use Defensive Harmony), or ultimately, some more usefull spells should be added to compensate for it. I don't have a D&D Rule Book, but i'm sure there are ways to make Divine Remix the 'Absolutely must have Mod' it was destined to be from the start.

Forgive my english mistakes if you may, and thanks to whoever was patient enough to read the whole essay :)

EDIT: Correction of various typos

 

 

Edited by Nox
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I haven't really played with Divine Remix, but (many years ago) I played quite a lot of pen-and-paper AD&D using the sphere system. In my experience it's extremely difficult to balance it properly - the spheres are in no way equal in power, and so creating two equivalently effective cleric kits has to be done manually and is very hard to get right. There is a reason why it got entirely abandoned in third edition D&D.

I think the DR mod is a pretty faithful implementation of the AD&D second edition system - and, as such, suffers from a lot of the same problems. They're probably made a bit worse by the smaller number of spells in BG(2), but the basic issue comes from the AD&D system, not from its CRPG implementation.

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Hey, we care, all right? :) And you are absolutely right, while Divine remix is theoretically great stuff ( README was quite detailed and actually enjoyable ) all it does actually is nerfing already relatively weak class while ( inadequately) trying to compensate with couple of innates and not to mention myriad of game breaking  bugs. Not sure about DR- IWDicification - SR combo, perhaps others can answer you more precisely, never in my wildest dreams tried to install and play such combination but there are couple of better divine substitution mods out there. Unfortunately they are ( currently ) EE only. 

Edited by Greenhorn
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Yeah, i pretty much thought as much. By the way, is Divine Remix compatible with ScS? (like in: does ScS uses the DR sphere system for its clerics NPC? I think that, probably, making these divine casters consider the presence of DR sphere system would ask for major tweaks of their IA in the tactical components of SCS, so i'm not that hopeful). SCS in another of my Must Have mod by the way. Let me grab this opportunity to tell you how wonderfull this mod is.

I understand (i think) how creating balanced kits using the core sphere system is difficult. Considering that it is so difficult and that BG2 doesn't have as many spells as D&D PnP, how about considering the sphere system from the same kind of perspective as the mage specialist system? Rather than going with a detailed approach of each sphere, each deity and kit could have a few major spheres, with some discarded ones. Like... a Holy Strategist would have War, Thought and Law as major spheres, and suchs clerics would only have minor access to kind of 'opposed domains' such as Plant/Animals/Summoning, and Chaos. I believe the kits and spheres would retain some individuality, while not preventing access to a huge many number of usefull spells.

 

Hey, we care, all right? 

:) And you are absolutely right, while Divine remix is theoretically great stuff ( README was quite detailed and actually enjoyable ) all it does actually is nerfing already relatively weak class while ( inadequately) trying to compensate with couple of innates and not to mention myriad of game breaking  bugs. Not sure about DR- IWDicification - SR combo, perhaps others can answer you more precisely, never in my wildest dreams tried to install and play such combination but there are couple of better divine substitution mods out there. Unfortunately they are ( currently ) EE only.

Yeah, i didn't try either, sounds foolish, but would be fun if actually possible :). Still, not everybody is interested in the EE versions of the games. I trust there are still many who, like me, look for good old BGT mods. And i'm sure many are still looking with sparkling eyes to Divine Remix. I, for one, sure am hopeful to see it become what it is meant to be, someday.

 

 

 

Edited by Nox
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SCS ignores DR completely. (I think some earlier versions made limited concessions to it, but they caused more harm than good.)

 

That is what i expected. Thanks for getting out of your way to answer. That will make things more simple for me :)

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The best sphere balanced system I've seen is the Spheres of Power/Spheres of Might for the Pathfinder system by Drop Dead Studios.  It is a customizable system that bolts into the 3.P system and allows caster type characters to do some really cool stuff they couldn't otherwise at the cost of being a system that more closely resembles the martial class design.  Honestly it would probably representa rather cool basis for a series of kit mods for casters or melee character.

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One thing is for sure. And it's that what tried to initiate Divine Remix is something that is much needed. I'm no coder, and i'm unsure how much of a pathfinder system could be imported in a 21 years old engine for a D&D 2 RPG. But from the sounds of it, it is interesting, on a conceptual level, at least. I still hope, in 2020, that some talented and proficient people would get interested to try and tackle these matters. As of now, my best hope is Divine Remix.

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If you are looking for a more modern Spheres system for bg2 I would check out the Faiths & Powers mod (see misc mods on this site).  It is currently supported and I think has had a bit morework done to balance it.

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7 hours ago, Greenhorn said:

 not to mention myriad of game breaking  bugs.

Huh?

...

Re: Divine Remix... I'm not sure what the current state of the mod is, as far as compatibility with the old engine.  You don't say whether you installed v7 or v8.  I know that with v8 at least, the sphere system is optional, you can play with the extra cleric kits and use the vanilla dumb spell system, where clerics of an undead-hating god like Lathander can cast Animate Dead, and clerics of Helm can cast Confusion and clerics of chaotic Talos can cast Protection from Evil, etc. etc.

I feel like the mod needs someone to defend it.  First, the most recent update was released six years ago (!) so I don't think criticism, even if constructive, is going to do much good.

Second, the concept of the sphere system is great.  It makes no sense that every cleric should be able to cast all the cleric spells, and no others.  It's a ridiculous and arbitrary distinction.  Giving different spell lists to different clerics makes all the sense in the world, and encourages players to play each kit in different ways, relying on different strengths, which match up with the themes embodied by the chosen deity.  It's a great idea, and if done well it can be a lot of fun to play.

But.

The fact is, for a sphere system like the one in AD&D 2E, which had between ~15 and ~25 spheres (depending on your source material), you need a lot of spells to make it work well.  And pen & paper D&D has a lot of spells!  Spells of all types, for all different circumstances.  Some clerics might have no spells that particularly help in combat, but lots of spells that are great in role-playing contexts. 

Unfortunately, BG2 has little to no actual role-playing, it's all about combat; and the list of spells is piss-poor. So when you divide them into spheres, each ends up with very few spells.  And when you assign spheres to kits in a way that is very faithful to the pen & paper rules, as DR does, it means several kits will be fairly nerfed.  When we started to design the FnP sphere system, the first thing we did was move away from being limited by the 2E rules, since they just weren't meant for a game like this.  Even then, with the base 2E spell list, we could only fill out 12 spheres.  So we made IWDification mandatory, and that allowed for about 18.  Now we don't require IWDification, but we add all of the IWD spells, and a bunch of others, and support SR spells as well.  That gets us 24 spheres that are fairly well balanced.  As for balancing kits, we give each kit a unique list of spheres but make sure that the total number of spells available to each kit  is pretty broad.   For instance, in the base game a druid has 7 1st-level spells.  With our sphere system, it has more than 20.  Shapeshifters and Avengers get a different list of spells, so they lose some that a normal druid can cast... but they all have about 20 spells to choose from, instead of 7.

Divine Remix could work that way.  I mean, it has built-in support for spells and kits from other mods.  Use that, and it wouldn't be too hard to make sure every kit has access to a good amount of useful spells.  Incorporate IWD spells and SR spells, and allocate them carefully, and it could be a great experience.  My understanding is, at some point the DR devs intended to add a bunch of custom spells and/or spells adapted from PnP.  But, the work involved just never got done.  As I say, this mod hasn't been touched in 6 years. 

So tl;dr: the concept of the mod is very good, and the design of the mod is very good.  It only hasn't fully realized its aims. 

EDIT - I just noticed, apparently IWDification and SpellPackb6 are in fact supported by DR's sphere system.  So it might be worth seeing how spell availability is with one or both of those installed.

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huh?

Seek it and you shall find it, oh ye unbelievers. :p;) Especially in BGT mega mod install. 

But seriously one has to appreciate idea and effort behind this mod as well as your valiant effort to defend it SD. Unfortunately final result is subpar for variety of reasons listed in above posts. Too many incompatibilities and bugs ( if you ask me to quote them, actually never played it but found lots of issues here and on SHS as well as in BWP guide which totally discouraged me ). 

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The sphere system, while once the backbone of the mod, was moved to an optional component for a reason. Like @Nox mentioned, the lack of spells ends up making it a major nerf for divine casters instead of being this awesome, cool thing that differentiates clerics from one another other than their special abilities. The 'solution' was to try and throw more spells onto the pile, but ultimately it's just a bandaid for a deeper and more problematic issue. Ultimately, you run into multiple, reinforcing issues with this approach:

  • Every spell you add stands out more and more as mod content unless you also adjust the enemy AI to detect, react, and use these same abilities.
  • Every spell must be checked so that it doesn't wildly imbalance power
  • Spheres are still ultimately unequal; some will always be better than others
  • Creating new spells which are non-PnP sourced makes all of these problems even worse.

And that's not even counting the fact that we're trying to force the old engine to do something it's not really well-designed for and the resulting bugginess. I could definitely do more by abandoning the originals and making DR EE-exclusive but that's not what I'm about, now or ever. Plus there's already a pretty good mod in that space, the aforementioned Faiths and Powers.

As for compatibility, DR's got a pretty easy library system to support other spell mods. IWDification and Galactygon's spell mods are already covered, and it's simple to extend it to cover other mods if anyone has one that's not already in.

 

Edited by CamDawg
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Posted (edited)

Yes, that's exactly what i meant. I may be a scum by saying that, as if i was the one who poured the work into DR... But there are so many great things about DR, it's so frustrating. The good points about the mod:

-1) It was, to my knowledge, the very first one to attempt something like this. While other mods only added spells to the party members, or items, and such... DR actually had a serious designer view on improving the divine spells system as a whole. It is one of the first mod that didn't planed to just 'add content', but tried to improve 'core content'.

-2) DR was meant to be used with BGT. While (and i don't seem to find this info anymore) i seem to recall i've read somewhere that 'Faiths and Powers' (which several recommend here) was designed with the EE in mind, meaning however buggy DR is, it may still be better if i'm going to use spheres on a BGT mega install.

-3) DR has several of the qualities i value most when it comes to mods. DR is designed with one goal in mind: revamping the Divine Spells system to account more for the very nature of Gods (portfolio, alignement and such). And the mod tries to do just that. It uses a few Oversight fixes (or developed its own?), adds much needed kits (though there are none for dwarves/half and such yet), and use all this to improve the purpose of the sphere system. The mod doesn't try to touch to anything and everything. Nor does it plan to make BG another game.

-4) the mod was translated in French. Yes this is important, since it would be awkward to have some bits of my game in French (i'm french), others in spanish, and some more in english. Note that i do plan to install a few mods in english though, like Amber, Keto or Northern Tales of the Sword Coast. But i would like to avoid doing this too much.

-5) It was obvious the mod was developed with care. All i read made it clear that it was a difficult work to make it, and that modders wouldn't hesitate to almost restart from scratch if needed. Even though it's still bugged, i could really put my trust and faith in it. I've played quite a few old mods which didn't seem to care much about much. DR was sort a refreshing at this time. Although more mods are considered with such care nowadays.

Quote

As for compatibility, DR's got a pretty easy library system to support other spell mods. IWDification and Galactygon's spell mods are already covered, and it's simple to extend it to cover other mods if anyone has one that's not already in.

And this is exactly what i'm talking about. I'm not really surprised to read this, since it's DR.

Obviously, the mod will be defended.

'Faith and Powers' looks interesting, too. But i didn't manage to find one clear documentation about it. There are many things i don't quite get about the mod. Just a few:

-The compatibility. With BGT, mostly. And with other mods that touch kits or HLA. It looks like some mods were integrated in it, like a differerent version of IWDification, and Spell Revisions is seemingly taken into account. But that is as far as my knowledge go regarding the compatibility stuff. I don't know if spells are used by ennemies, especially when SCS is installed, either. I read that the mod wanted to account for DR's kits, but i don't know if it is done yet, or not. Neither do i know the actual state of the mod, regarding stability or progress to completion. Since i plan a mega install, i would like to avoid taking chances. Even though i know mods need testing. And i'm not proud to have to admit i would like to avoid bêta testing on such a mega install which will take me forever to complete (if i complete it someday).

-The mod has been split in two. There is a multi class and a non multi class folder. Why? Like, install one if you never, ever plan to use multiclasses, and the other if you plan to multiclass until the world crumbles? :D Is it about PC, joinable NPCs, neutral NPCs, opposing NPCs? Several of them? All of them? I tried to browse various forums on different websites, and spent 1H looking for informations, but i don't have the time or patience to read all english forums in existence that may, or may not talk about the mod. Note that it would have merits though, since i'm still looking to improve my self-taught english :)

-I looked at this google sheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1uQJia0z1FePlkodb_AHajvlOl7dyRavOMR9US8acNP4/edit#gid=571285541

But i don't know everything about D&D. I guess Champion is a bit like D&D 3.5 Divine Champion? But i don't have a clue about what the differences between Cleric, Zealot, Acolyte, and such are. Are these kits from some class? Or new classes added in the kit menus for engine limitation reasons? Again, i may end up finding answers on the net, given i have a lot of time to look for it. But it's been one week already since i started looking for mods again and reading readmes, forums and such. All in order to try one BGT install. I won't bother if the mod looks like EE exclusive. I don't plan to use EE. I will probably never use it.

That's why i discarded 'Faith and Powers'. I would be happy to be wrong though.

EDIT: Various typos, again.

Edited by Nox
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1 hour ago, Nox said:

Yes, that's exactly what i meant. I may be a scum by saying that, as if i was the one who poured the work into DR... But there are so many great things about DR, it's so frustrating.

This is exactly the type of passionate, in-depth response that I live for; that it happens to point out shortcomings of the mod doesn't make it any less welcome. (You were also completely nice about it, though your comments would be welcome even if that wasn't the case.) More than anything it echoes my frustrations that I've yet to find a constructive way to address these deficiencies.

1 hour ago, Nox said:

2) DR was meant to be used with BGT.

Well, yes and no. Yes, because it's always my goal to mod for as many platforms as feasible, but also no, because there wasn't anything special required to support BGT.

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7 minutes ago, CamDawg said:

Well, yes and no. Yes, because it's always my goal to mod for as many platforms as feasible, but also no, because there wasn't anything special required to support BGT.

Lately, i have seen more than a few mods stating in their readme and such 'It is meant for EET'. Reason is: the EE gives more tools for modding. One great modder which work i value a lot doesn't develop for BGT anymore (Lava, author of the acclaimed 'Colours of Infinity' series). I am no coder. That's why i said 'DR was meant to be used with BGT'. and not 'DR was developed specifically with BGT in mind'. The end result is that i know for sure DR's design makes it compatible with BGT, and that's a great feature for every player who don't plan on getting their hands on the EE versions. While 'Faith and Powers' is a different story, since i don't quite understand this one.

12 minutes ago, CamDawg said:

More than anything it echoes my frustrations that I've yet to find a constructive way to address these deficiencies.

Yes, that's why i felt almost like a scum saying that... I feel the leisure to be frustrated when i never worked to make it work (admittedly, i don't have the qualifications to), while you would obviously feel more frustrated than myself, since you put the hours in it. BG is 22 years old. It's impressive the modding community is still at it. I believe i would voice everyone's feelings by thanking everyone for their involvement.

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