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Why doesn't SCS weaken mages?


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SCS completely destroys classes like the inquisitor, why the hard on for mages? Inquisitor dispel, even in the base game, was the only time dispel magic ever worked. Not a single of the obvious mage overpowered spells are weakened by SCS. Timestop, Improved Alacrity combo, Improved haste, horrid wilting etc, no changes to the big ones. Instead I see stuff  like letting all mages have sequencers  and putting these spells on the special abilities because mages are such a weak class they need such a boost.

Edited by MachoGrande
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Guest Ront

I was undecided if posting inside this topic or not. That's because I don't understand your point of view. Why? I will provide you some explanation.

1) Luckily, you are not forced to install SCS if you don't like it.

2) You are missing the point with the mod itself. It doesn't have a hard on on mages as you describe. The issue that you are meeting is due to the fact that mages are TIER S.
Mages, as soon as they get high level, can beat everything and own everything (and in reality, that's the truth of any D&D edition).

3) This mod is aimed at people that actually enjoy AD&D combat. Do you enjoy it? If the answer is no, I would avoid it. Mages vs mages is one of the things you should enjoy before you install the mod itself.


There are luckily other alternative mods that make the npcs moderately more intelligent without having to add tweaks on tweaks. 


The fact is, combat on high level is pretty much crap. And if you took a reading of AD&D rules, you would not be an adventurer if you got to level 20 with a human DM. But ToB kinda lashed out and you can reach level 40. There would be some ways to fix ToB and make it less crappy, but no one seems to be interested to it apart from a few mods that make it less linear.

Good hunting, Bhaalspawn.

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1 hour ago, MachoGrande said:

SCS completely destroys classes like the inquisitor, why the hard on for mages? Inquisitor dispel, even in the base game, was the only time dispel magic ever worked

I can see where you're coming from re arcane power but I think the nerf to inquisitor dispel is about right (12th level inquisitor having a 50% shot to dispel 18th level mages seems neither weak nor broken). Inquisitors are also not the only class who have a chance to dispel enemy casters, bards can too, (and SCS adds scroll of the more convenient party-friendly Remove Magic for Haer). Even single class mages can have some luck with RM provided you're playing with a party of four or less, rather than six.

1 hour ago, MachoGrande said:

Not a single of the obvious mage overpowered spells are weakened by SCS. Timestop, Improved Alacrity combo, Improved haste, horrid wilting etc, no changes to the big ones.

Hmmm, I mostly agree.

  • Timestop: Should have a reduced duration for anyone except a single class mage or sorcerer, one round of free hits is still very powerful for a fighter/mage (or fighter/thief with a scroll), should probably be two rounds for cleric/mages, because we don't want to weaken Melissan too much.
  • Improved Alacrity: The real problem is The Robe reducing casting time to zero and turning mages into miniguns, if there were some way to ensure that every spell takes at least one segment to activate it would be more reasonable.
  • Improved Haste: This is from the Dark Sun campaign setting where creatures tend to be a lot tougher than in the Forgotten Realms, it effectively halves the time it takes to kill enemies vulnerable to melee or missile attacks, so the SCS options to boost demon/dragon hp are a good start, maybe more enemy fighters (in SoA) need hardiness? It does feel strange that no warriors have HLAs (unlike mages!) until you get into ToB, where even Gromnir's foot soldiers have them.
  • Horrid Wilting: This one doesn't need a nerf so much as cramming three of them in a Chain Contingency does... I'd say CC shouldn't be castable more frequently than every 2 turns (use opcode 101 vs 234).
1 hour ago, MachoGrande said:

Instead I see stuff  like letting all mages have sequencers  and putting these spells on the special abilities because mages are such a weak class they need such a boost.

Yes this is a bit ridiculous, it negates one of the only disadvantages of the sorcerer, who was already better than any mage kit.

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@MachoGrande

You may be misunderstanding SCS's goal. It's not intended as a systematic rebalancing of the game (if you want that, try a mod like Spell Revisions, which does have that aim). It's an attempt at intelligent AI within basically the core rules - "basically", because I tweak the core rules in fairly-small places to deal with situations that were getting in the way of writing interesting AI. (The lack of a good counter to Improved Invisibility + SI:Divination is the first and best example).

Against that backdrop, I found (in playtesting) that Inquisitor dispel magic got in the way of interesting encounters: it was too systematically effective an attack relative to other things that were going on. I also found it a bit thematically excessive: a 12th-level character automatically dispelling an archmage's defenses. Hence the component. But it's not an example of a tweak that my AI assumes or needs, which is why (contra claims in your other post) it's optional. If your assessment differs from mine, don't use it. (There's a reason that I didn't wrap that component into the install-by-default tweaks when I released SCS v32.)

As for giving wizards sequencers as innate, it's mostly a convenience tweak: it reduces the inconvenience of having to repeatedly rearrange your spellbook to relearn sequencers. (And 'inconvenience' is the right description, because for the most part the game imposes only minor constraints on your ability to rest as much as you like.) It's not intended to affect the actual class power. I appreciate that it boosts sorcerers; my own intuition is that it does so in an interesting rather than annoying way but I don't have first-hand experience with a sorcerer party member so I may be misjudging. Again, if you don't agree with my assessment, don't install: once again, it's not something the AI presumes and so it's an optional component, not installed by default.

@Ront: My own view on comparative power levels (at least in party-based BG2) is that asking whether mages are the most powerful character is like asking whether artillery units are the most powerful units in an army battalion. In both cases, the point is that you have a collection of different units with different skills that complement each other. (In pen-and-paper D&D I think it depends a lot on how much you optimize and use edge-case rule advantages - my own, fairly low-optimization campaigns don't tend to end up with wizards outclassing others.)

@polytopeThose are all defensible tweaks but I don't think any are actually required to make SCS work. (I do voluntarily refrain from putting multiple ADHW into a CC.)

As for warrior HLAs: SCS uses the in-game power levels to determine who gets HLAs, and then filters it. So you have to have 3 million XP to get HLAs, no matter what. There are quite a lot of wizards in SoA who have 3M XP, but very few fighters; that's why you basically don't see fighter HLAs in SoA.

(Buried in there is a deeper issue: why, in Bioware's original designn, are the mages in SoA higher level than the non-spellcasters? I think it's partly thematic (Amn is intentionally being portrayed as a high-magic setting, even if that's a bit thematically in tension with the PnP description) but mostly I suspect it's because the original game's mage AI is very weak, so that a mage badly underperforms against a fighter of the same level. So they upped mage levels as a brute-force fix. SCS comes along and gives mages AI more commensurate with their abilities, and now it really shows that they're so high level. By this stage I think this is part of the flavor of the game, but of course SCS does have an ini option to lower mage levels if you want to use it.)

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Guest Ront

Thank you DavidW.

1) What's the option to lower mage levels and how does it work?

2) can I decide the level of individual mages?

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23 minutes ago, Guest Ront said:

Thank you DavidW.

1) What's the option to lower mage levels and how does it work?

2) can I decide the level of individual mages?

1) Before installing, edit stratagems/stratagems.ini in a text editor. Change mage_level_scale to a value lower than 100, and/or mage_level_add to a negative number. All mage levels will be scaled according to

new level = (old level x (mage_level_scale)% ) + mage_level_add

to a minimum of 1. The same applies to priest levels. 

2) Before installing, edit stratagems/mage/override/bg2/level.2da in a text editor. (Swap bg2 with bg1 if you want to alter BG1 wizards' levels.) You'll see a long table where in each row, the first entry is the name of a CRE file and the second entry is their level. If the mage you want to edit is listed, just change their level to what you want it to be. If they're not, add them in the same format. (You'll need to use Near Infinity to find the CRE file name of the mage you want to edit.)

A few points:

(i) If you do both, note that the global level scaling (controlled by stratagems.ini) comes after the individual level scaling. So if you lower all wizards' levels by 5 and then set Tolgerias to level 15, he'll be level 10 in game.

(ii) As a point of interest, SCS infers levels from a combination of (1) the actual level on the CRE file; (2) the level of spells the creature has memorized. (The original game is not always consistent: some spellcasters use 8th level spells but are given a CRE level of 10, etc.) That algorithm occasionally gives wild results, usually for high-level wizards who get set to ridiculous levels; the manual override is to adjust for that.

(iii) Both (1) and (2) (and lots of other tweaks like this) are documented in the readme, under 'customization'.

(iv) In an ideal world I'd have made spellcaster levels responsive to the difficulty slider. But it's not practical. (Quintupled install time, just for starters.)

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Those are all defensible tweaks but I don't think any are actually required to make SCS work. (I do voluntarily refrain from putting multiple ADHW into a CC.)

I never suggested you did, the fact that CC can be recast in combat is to the player's advantage though, rather than the AI's.

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Buried in there is a deeper issue: why, in Bioware's original designn, are the mages in SoA higher level than the non-spellcasters? I think it's partly thematic (Amn is intentionally being portrayed as a high-magic setting, even if that's a bit thematically in tension with the PnP description) but mostly I suspect it's because the original game's mage AI is very weak, so that a mage badly underperforms against a fighter of the same level.

True, but fighters are more item-dependent, so it's difficult to make enemy fighters level-appropriate in power without providing a surfeit of loot (and many in the vanilla game are useless anyway, as you know, 9 in every stat, no proficiency in the weapons they use etc.).

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I appreciate that it boosts sorcerers; my own intuition is that it does so in an interesting rather than annoying way but I don't have first-hand experience with a sorcerer party member so I may be misjudging.

I used to play sorcerers but not so much with SCS anymore as I find them simply too powerful (fine for Improved Anvil though, which I've recently tried out, and I feel the same way about fighter -> mages). In my experience sorcs end up restricted in terms of metamagic (and that's a good thing because they're otherwise stronger than mages): So it's unlikely that a 12th level sorcerer for instance, takes contingency for a sixth circle slot when there's so many other crucial spells to choose from and they will in any case eventually have the superior Chain Contingency; an experienced sorc player will also probably skip Spell Sequencer because they will later take Spell Trigger (the power gulf is less in this case, but being able to put Sunfire, Pierce Magic/Lower Resistance and ProMW in a Trigger decides in the 8th circle variant's favor).

Changing these metamagic spells to automatically gained innates is imo unbalancing because the sorc no longer needs to sacrifice an actual spell choice, considering that their limited repertoire is the only real disadvantage to the class. You wouldn't normally get a 4th sixth circle spell choice until level 21 (22 for 7th and 23 for 8th - those are the tiers where metamagic is available and there's something of a bottleneck in terms of spell selection). As you guessed this metamagic-to-innate change is more of a convenience for the mage who will usually have scribed those spells by then anyway, though swaps them out of his memorized slots before entering battle. Mage HLAs as innates is also overpowering in my experience, but at least enemy mages and liches benefit from that, there are no enemy sorcerers to benefit from the changes to the metamagic system.

Of course, like you say, it's at the player's discretion to install this component, and it's your mod rather than mine; but I'd be cautious about including components in a difficulty-enhancing mod which exist solely to make things easier unless they've been thoroughly playtested for balance.

Edited by polytope
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Guest Ludwig

I want to say that I really like that component which changes sequencers into innates. It helps quite a bit with convenience, and though it makes sorcerers a bit more powerful, in my opinion the power change is negligible compared to the benefit/convenience it provides. To be honest, Sorcerer becomes so powerful later on that I wasn't even bothering to use sequencers. I think the only one that makes a considerable difference in power spike is getting Chain Contingency for free.

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6 hours ago, Guest Ludwig said:

I want to say that I really like that component which changes sequencers into innates. It helps quite a bit with convenience, and though it makes sorcerers a bit more powerful

Very quick plug, Tome & Blood has various options to fine-tune this, such as preventing sorcerers from getting innate sequencers.

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Against that backdrop, I found (in playtesting) that Inquisitor dispel magic got in the way of interesting encounters: it was too systematically effective an attack relative to other things that were going on. I also found it a bit thematically excessive: a 12th-level character automatically dispelling an archmage's defenses. Hence the component. But it's not an example of a tweak that my AI assumes or needs, which is why (contra claims in your other post) it's optional. If your assessment differs from mine, don't use it. (There's a reason that I didn't wrap that component into the install-by-default tweaks when I released SCS v32.)

As for giving wizards sequencers as innate, it's mostly a convenience tweak: it reduces the inconvenience of having to repeatedly rearrange your spellbook to relearn sequencers. (And 'inconvenience' is the right description, because for the most part the game imposes only minor constraints on your ability to rest as much as you like.) It's not intended to affect the actual class power. I appreciate that it boosts sorcerers; my own intuition is that it does so in an interesting rather than annoying way but I don't have first-hand experience with a sorcerer party member so I may be misjudging. Again, if you don't agree with my assessment, don't install: once again, it's not something the AI presumes and so it's an optional component, not installed by default.

This is a prime example of what I was trying to say. What was supposed to be a spell CHOICE, is now an inconvenience. The mod maker thinks that because sequencers are very powerful, all mages should have them by default. By his logic, all melee classes should get greater whirlwind at level 5 because melee in the BG games is pathetic.

 

The inquisitor class is explicitly stated as a DIVINE anti-mage class. It isn't supposed to be "fair" to mages. This is isn't world of warcraft. Mages have near god like power, the inquisitor class is balance. The inquisitor gives up almost all paladin powers and it is for almost the entire game just a weak fighter unless a mage is there.

Edited by MachoGrande
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On 7/20/2020 at 3:43 PM, subtledoctor said:

Tome & Blood has various options to fine-tune this, such as preventing sorcerers from getting innate sequencers.

Is this an install option, as in "Add in innate sequencers for arcane sorcerers" ?or the like. Cause if it's not, then you need to name the how/why etc. AS in, "various options" could be also quoting out install code from a .tpb file ... that's strictly not a common option, but a hack, that you might well use, but a common user might not have any knowledge of it.

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9 hours ago, MachoGrande said:

The inquisitor class is explicitly stated as a DIVINE anti-mage class. It isn't supposed to be "fair" to mages. This is isn't world of warcraft. Mages have near god like power, the inquisitor class is balance.

So, let’s say there’s an evil wizard. We’ll call him “Tolshmerious.” He has various evil schemes that can tend to hurt innocent people, which might put him on the radar of the “be-nice-or-I’ll-smash-your-face-in police” aka paladins. And he knows there is this particular kind of paladin called “Inquisitors” that has a special ability geared toward defeating evil wizards. But Tolshmerious also knows there is a spell that blocks the Inquisitor’s special ability. The spell is readily accessible and any wizard can easily have it prepared in case they run across an aggro’d Inquisitor. (Excep Transmuters - ha, dumb Transmuters.)

Given that set of facts, which are set up by the game and not any mod... you want Tolshmerious to not use SI:Abjuration against a murderous Inquisitor??

Simple solution: don’t install SCS. Just play the vanilla game and you’ll encounter a dumb-as-rocks version of Tolshmerious who doesn’t use all of the tools available to him. 

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