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Need advice on XP reduction/management for mega-mod EET run


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I have been working on a mega-mod install to do an EET trilogy run. I started about a week ago and, trying to do as much as possible in chapter 1, did everything outside of Nashkel. I enjoyed the concept, as there was no perceived (IC) time pressure to do anything, but my party hit the mines at level 7. What is even wilder is that Imoen was narrowing in on level 8 thief, so I dual-ed her with mage. For some reason, this must have set off some SoD script, because the entire party got set to 230k XP - level 9 for everyone! Needless to say, bandit camp was deeply underwhelming for this party.

I did anticipate this somewhat and cut reputation gains to 2/3, XP from enemies and quests to 75%, but I still feel like I overshot. My options going forward are up the difficulty (which I will do for this run) or again reduce the XP.

Right now, I have SotSC, DSofSC, NTotSC, Ascalon's questpack, Balduran's Seatower, Lure of the Sirene's Call, and a few other quest mods. What would be the recommended XP reduction to keep this from becoming a nerfed campaign? I have toyed with going all the way to 50%, but importing a level 2 character to start.

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If you're running an EET install there actually isnt any global modifier you can use by just setting and forgetting. Not with how xp-per-level scales and how long the whole journey will be.

Even in vanilla bg1 it wasnt particularly hard to hit the level cap and then totsc dropped, adjusting the cap, but also adding yet more stuff to do.

I personally just use the per-campaign xp clamps from eet tweaks to keep my squad at a reasonable level throughout the first half without using some 50% cut tweak that nudges far too many quests and monsters into irrelevance (mechanically). By BG2 the extra xp doesnt matter so much and is all but unnoticeable in tob.

Honestly I've found some of the item drops do way more to throw off "balance" than any xp piñatas. IIRC one of the "must have" mods drops a +3, extra apr, hold on hit sword before nashkel.

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What I do:

- reduce XP to 50%

- use JMerry’s “More Candlekeep XP” mod

- take Charname & Imoen (alone) through Beregost before swinging north to FAI. Complete the slime neighbor, the arguing parents, Firebead’s book, Marl’s grief, the guy who sees interdimensional beetles, Mirianne’s letter, Jumper the rabbit, the drunk near the temple, the spider house, the ogre’s belt, and Joia’s ring. Maybe rescue Melicamp, but don’t tackle the rest of the red canyons. You should be 2nd level now.

- Then recruit the rest of your party and go to Nashkel. Maybe go to the Gnoll Fortress first but honestly, these days I tend to save that for after Nashkel. 

This way, I am level 2 recruiting my party, level 3 by the end of the Nashkel mines, level 4 after clearing the bottom of the map, level 5 at the bandit camp, level 6 in the Cloakwood, and level 7 in BG City. More or less. 

Also,

- Don’t grind! Taking lots of fights early and cheesing them = not fun. Becoming overpowered and stramrolling the later fights in your sleep = not fun. Being slightly under-leveled through most of the games makes for fun challenges and emergent chaos.  

- Don’t pick up any non-vanilla loot that’s better than +1. Some mods are just stupid with their loot. 

Edited by subtledoctor
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If you're adjusting quest XP ...

- Halving quest XP first causes my component to do nothing, and the chores are 25 XP each.

- Halving quest XP second causes the chores to be 200 XP each.

Now, why 400 XP per chore? Because with six chores, that's 2400 XP. Enough to get any solo single-class character that's not on the mage progression to reach level 2 before going out into the world. And getting the chance to level up once feels right for a tutorial zone. 200 each ... well, that's not enough for anyone to get a level. Watch out for those wolves.

In the grand scheme of things, the experience is practically nothing. You get just as much extra XP from fighting a pack of carrion crawlers (22 HP and 420 XP each in BGEE, 35 HP and 975 XP each in BG2EE or EET). But that extra level right at the beginning goes a long way to making you feel less fragile in the early game.

Edited by jmerry
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Oh, sorry, yes I understood the idea behind it. My sense of what is too much or too little is purely subjective and to fit my bespoke setup. For instance, to play alongside aionz's new mod "Candlekeep Revisited", Breagar, temnix's Out Brief Candlekeep, Dark Horizons...

Edited by megrimlock
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I have a couple other mods, so I end up with about 1400 XP upon leaving Candlekeep when getting 200 apiece from JMerry’s mod. That, plus the minor/easy/mostly-no-combat quests between Beregost and FAI generally gets me to about 2,500-3,000 before recruiting my full party. 

I also use a slightly modified XPLEVEL.2da table, which makes the jump to 2nd level a bit quicker for non-thieves. 

So for example in my current game I have a level 2/2 cleric/thief with ~3,200 XP as I recruit Jaheira & Khalid. Imoen is a level 2 single-class thief with 1,700 XP. This is a pretty comfortable way to head to Nashkel. 

Someday I will get around to making my Candlekeep tutorial quest mod to explicitly get Charname to level 2… someday…

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7 hours ago, rigidjelly said:

Honestly I've found some of the item drops do way more to throw off "balance" than any xp piñatas. IIRC one of the "must have" mods drops a +3, extra apr, hold on hit sword before nashkel.

Which mod ?

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11 hours ago, maurvir said:

I have been working on a mega-mod install to do an EET trilogy run. I started about a week ago and, trying to do as much as possible in chapter 1, did everything outside of Nashkel. I enjoyed the concept, as there was no perceived (IC) time pressure to do anything, but my party hit the mines at level 7. What is even wilder is that Imoen was narrowing in on level 8 thief, so I dual-ed her with mage. For some reason, this must have set off some SoD script, because the entire party got set to 230k XP - level 9 for everyone! Needless to say, bandit camp was deeply underwhelming for this party.

This is why I largely take the opposite approach.  Unless an NPC I want to recruit has an associated quest that I must complete within a given timeframe (Minsc) I just grab everybody, pick up whatever Bassilus has today, and go straight to Nashkel.  No milling for EXP until after Mulahey is out of the picture.  Is it riskier?  Sure. But I'm also then forced to actually strategize my way through Mulahey.  The lack of time pressure on the main quest also means that I'm not obligated to put it off any longer than I need to, and Chapter 3 is just as good for building up power as chapters 1 and 2 (and honestly?  from a clean start it's probably better anyway since then you have whatever scrolls Mulahey's hoarding today too)

Edited by pokota
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Yeah it's Dark Horizons. Though I was mistaken, it is in fact a +2apr weapon 🙄

Spoiler

@383  = ~Doufas' Sabre
The Doufas' Sabre was created to be the perfect assassin's tool. It is highly sought after by any who settle differences with a blade, and many that possess it do not do so for long.

STATISTICS:

Damage: 1D8 +3 (+1D4 Magical damage)
THACO: +2 bonus
Damage type piercing
Weight: 5 
Speed Factor: 0
Proficiency Type: Small Sword
Type: 1-handed
Special:
 +2 attacks
 +Holds opponent unless save

Drops from a bounty hunter on the way to beregost I think. It's been ages since I played it.

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2 hours ago, rigidjelly said:

Yeah it's Dark Horizons. Though I was mistaken, it is in fact a +2apr weapon 🙄

  Reveal hidden contents

@383  = ~Doufas' Sabre
The Doufas' Sabre was created to be the perfect assassin's tool. It is highly sought after by any who settle differences with a blade, and many that possess it do not do so for long.

STATISTICS:

Damage: 1D8 +3 (+1D4 Magical damage)
THACO: +2 bonus
Damage type piercing
Weight: 5 
Speed Factor: 0
Proficiency Type: Small Sword
Type: 1-handed
Special:
 +2 attacks
 +Holds opponent unless save

Drops from a bounty hunter on the way to beregost I think. It's been ages since I played it.

For a must have, I never saw it recommended in the last five years.

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Posted (edited)

Part of my frustration is that I like the extra adventures and content, as they help "fill out" the setting, but mod creators put in creatures or rewards that are a bit unbalancing. The youngling vampires added to Firewine Bridge, for instance. Those came in at 6k EACH. For a BG1 campaign, that's enough to level most classes in a single dungeon. Now admittedly, a low-level party would get wiped in that dungeon, but still. That's a lot of XP for a single dungeon in that campaign.

This is a tough one because I love these extra adventures. I am all about seeing more of the sword coast on these runs and the mod content I choose has generally been carefully curated in favor of "more content". If I tweak items, it is more for cosmetic or balance reasons, not power gaming. However, when the bandit camp goes from "insanely hard" to "meh", it takes the shine off. On this last run, my party completed it in two stages - but only because the mages ran out of spells and had to retreat.

I was hoping for some tweaks like the "vanilla-friendly progression" tweak for thieves - but party-wide. I may still drop the quest XP as I would do the quests for the pure fun of it, not necessarily the XP reward. Either that, or leave it alone, but up the difficulty when things get a bit too easy.

Edited by maurvir
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13 hours ago, pokota said:

This is why I largely take the opposite approach.  Unless an NPC I want to recruit has an associated quest that I must complete within a given timeframe (Minsc) I just grab everybody, pick up whatever Bassilus has today, and go straight to Nashkel.  No milling for EXP until after Mulahey is out of the picture.  Is it riskier?  Sure. But I'm also then forced to actually strategize my way through Mulahey.  The lack of time pressure on the main quest also means that I'm not obligated to put it off any longer than I need to, and Chapter 3 is just as good for building up power as chapters 1 and 2 (and honestly?  from a clean start it's probably better anyway since then you have whatever scrolls Mulahey's hoarding today too)

Yeah, I don't plan to ever do this again - or at least not to the same level. While it was nice randomly adventuring without any sort of set plan or schedule, it made the Nashkel mines ridiculous. I do install the Better Kobolds component of SCS, and having Imoen capable of handling traps is nice, so I may try to aim for level 3 and then hit the mines.

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