Sword Coast Stratagems

Sword Coast Stratagems (SCS ) adds over 130 optional components to Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition, Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, Baldur's Gate Trilogy, and Baldur's Gate Tutu, mostly focused around improving monster AI and encounter difficulties, but also including a number of cosmetic and ease-of-use components and tweaks to abilities and spells.

Sword Coast Stratagems is a collection of mini-mods for Baldur's Gate series of games. It is compatible with the Enhanced Editions of Baldur's Gate I and II, the original edition of Baldur's Gate II with the Throne of Bhaal extension, with the "EasyTUTU" conversion of Baldur's Gate to the Baldur's Gate II engine, and with the 'Baldur's Gate Trilogy' and 'Enhanced Edition Trilogy' combinations of the two games. (It is not compatible with the original BG1, or with the original BG2 without Throne of Bhaal.)

Sword Coast Stratagems contains many optional tweaks to various aspects of gameplay, including a full implementation of the Icewind Dale spell system, but at its core it is a tactical/AI mod. It carries out a fairly systematic restructing of the games' core artificial intelligence, affecting spell and proficiency choices, kits, high-level abilities, and most importantly enemy AI scripting, with a full install rewriting the AI of practically every creature in the game, though in most cases without significantly affecting their core abilities. It further offers a large number of tailored components that modify individual set-piece encounters at various points throughout the two games. The idea throughout is to make combat more challenging, interesting, and most importantly immersive and realistic, insofar as that can be done with a 1990s-vintage game engine - I focus on trying to get enemies to use their abilities intelligently and effectively, and in the harder parts on making moderate changes to their powers and spells, rather than the brute-force method of increasing hit-rolls, saving throws and the like.

Since there are a lot of tactics mods out there, of very different styles, it's probably simplest to describe the distinctive features of SCS. (I don't want to suggest that all of these are automatically advantages: there are lots of different styles of play, and different mods fit different people.) Some more thoughts of mine on how to assess tactical mods can be found here.

  • SCS plays fair. I've made a fairly sustained effort to ensure that SCS opponents fight by the rules and don't use powers denied to the player (other than obvious things like dragons' breath weapons, liches' ability to see through invisibility, etc!) This is probably most notable for spellcasters - SCS  mages don't randomly get uninterruptible spells, improved casting time, free Alacrity, or the like. (In fact, I've removed these powers from creatures in the vanilla game occasionally, though I haven't done so systematically.) However, "fair" is sometimes in the eye of the beholder, so please do read the component descriptions if this is important to you!
  • SCS is highly sensitive to the difficulty slider. SCS has five difficulty settings (Basic, Improved, Tactical, Hardcore, and Insane) and the great majority of enemies are affected by the slider. At the lowest settings, SCS is about as difficulty as the unmodded game on Core difficulty; at Improved and Higher then enemies will behave much more intelligently; at higher difficulties, the enemies make more systematic use of their powers, and occasionally gain ability boosts. The difficulty of each individual component may be set in Enhanced-Edition games via a new control on the Gameplay page, or on non-Enhanced games by a new special ability granted to your character; in either case this overrides the difficulty slider for that component.
  • SCS is very focused pure AI. Most components of SCS muck around rather little with the core powers of creatures, and hardly at all with their abilities, resistances, saving throws and the like. Its main focus is on getting creatures to do as much as they possibly can with their existing abilities. In particular, its targeting is very careful - hopefully you'll almost never see a mage do something stupid like cast repeated spells at someone immune to that spell.
  • SCS is quite low-key in its changes. Where SCS does modify something other than AI, it usually does so in a relatively undramatic manner - adding a few more creatures, giving a creature a couple of other magic powers in keeping with powers it's already used, and so forth. It doesn't give new ultra-powerful spells to creatures who didn't have any magic before, or give creatures massive damage resistances, for instance. (Again, there's not necessarily anything wrong with doing this, it's just not what SCS is about).
  • SCS is very customisable. Feel free to install whichever combination of components you like - there is a separate one for each major AI / tactical change.
  • SCS is systematic. I've tried to be very thorough in making sure that there aren't "gaps" in its AI modifications - so that all hostile wizards, for instance, and not just some, are upgraded.
  • SCS tries to be as compatible as possible. I've done the best I can to ensure that SCS will install on top of other mods (especially non-tactical ones) without causing problems for either. In particular, SCS dynamically alters its scripts to take (some) account of new magic items introduced by other mods.

Overall, playing SCS shouldn't exactly feel like a whole new game - it should feel like the old game, but with your foes acting much more intelligently and realistically.

SCS also makes a number of small tweaks to the spell system, all intended to modify the game in small ways that are helpful from the point of view of tactical challenge - some make the game a little easier, others make it a little harder. These spell tweaks are installed by default since the AI scripts assume that they are present, but advanced users can deactivate them. (See under Spell Tweaks for the details, and under Customisation for how to fine-tune them.) If you are playing with Spell Revisions, almost all of the tweaks are skipped.

SCS also incorporates, as an optional component for the Enhanced Edition only, most of the new spells in Icewind Dale, which will be used intelligently by the AI if they are installed.

Finally, SCS contains a few miscellaneous tweaks to gameplay, a few ease-of-use features (notably, an ease-of-use player AI script with a large number of convenience features) and a few "flavour" features that don't really affect gameplay but hopefully aid the feeling of immersion in the game world.

(These project pages are slightly outdated; I am in the process of updating them.)

Core Component

This component fixes a few bugs in the game not already caught by the Fixpack; it also allow the computer to detect various effects. It is required for most other components.

Spell Tweaks

These components make relatively minor alterations to the spells in the game, usually in the interest of game balance or consistency. All changes are fully documented in the spell descriptions themselves. Note that while all these components are optional, many of the tactical choices made by wizards and priests in SCS assume that they are installed, so you may notice some slight anomalies in enemy behaviour if you don't install them all.

  • Standardise spells between BG and BG2 (TUTU,BGT)
  • Make Protection from Normal Missiles affect some magical projectiles
  • Allow Spellstrike to take down a Protection from Magic scroll (BG2,BG2EE,BGT)
  • More consistent Breach spell (always affects liches and rakshasas; doesn't penetrate Spell Turning
  • Antimagic attacks penetrate improved invisibility
  • Iron Skins behaves like Stoneskin (can be brought down by Breach)
  • Modify the Harm spell so it does damage rather than reducing target to 1 hp (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Make individual versions of Spell Immunity available, so that players can use them in Contingencies etc (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Revert Greater Restoration back to only affecting one creature (BG2, BGT)
  • Blade Barrier and Globe of Blades only affect hostile creatures (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Cap damage done by Skull Trap at 12d6
  • Make Power Word: Blind a single-target spell (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Make Minute Meteors into +2 weapons (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Reduce the power of Inquisitors' Dispel Magic
  • Slightly reduce the power of Insect Plague spells (and the like) and let Fire Shields block them
  • Cosmetic change: stop Stoneskins from changing the caster's colour (BG2, TUTU, BGT)
  • Slightly increase the power of Mantle, Improved Mantle, and Absolute Immunity (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Make spell sequencers, spell triggers, and contingencies learnable by all mages
  • Add extra spell scrolls for hard-to-find spells (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Give True Sight the ability to prevent magical blindness (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Prevent clones made by the Simulacrum and Project Image spells from using their magic items (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)

Item Tweaks

These components remove, move or tone down the powers of a small number of magic items. It's not at all systematic (there are mods out there which go through almost all the items in the game and reduce their powers) but it reduces the extent to which a party can coast by on a few über-items.

  • Make elemental arrows like BG2 (BGEE, TUTU)
  • Replace +1 magical arrows and other projectiles with Fine ones
  • Replace many magical weapons with Fine ones
  • Reintroduce potions of extra-healing (BGEE, TUTU, BGT)
  • Remove Arrows of Dispelling from stores
  • Remove the Shield of Balduran from the game (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Remove the invisibility power of the Staff of the Magi (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Move Vhailor's Helm into Throne of Bhaal (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Move the Cloak of Mirroring into Throne of Bhaal (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Move the Robe of Vecna into Throne of Bhaal (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Make the Healing and Resurrection powers of the Rod of Resurrection into separate powers (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Change Carsomyr so that its dispel-on-contact power grants a saving throw (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)

Gameplay Tweaks

These components could equally well be called "miscellaneous tweaks".

  • Faster bears
  • Grant large, flying, non-solid or similar creatures immunity to Web and Entangle
  • More realistic wolves and dogs (BGEE, TUTU, BGT)
  • Improved shapeshifting
  • Make party members less likely to irreversibly
  • Reduced reputation increase
  • Allow player to choose NPC proficiencies and skills (TUTU, BGT)
  • Allow BG1 NPC pairs to separate (BGEE, TUTU, BGT)
  • Allow Yeslick to use axes (BGEE, TUTU, BGT)
  • Skip the Candlekeep tutorial sections (BGEE, TUTU, BGT)
  • Allow the Cowled Wizards to detect spellcasting in most indoor, above-ground areas in Athkatla
  • Increase the price of a licence to practice magic in Athkatla
  • Increase the price asked by Gaylan Baele
  • Make Freedom scrolls available earlier
  • Make Watchers' Keep accessible between SoA and ToB (BG2, BGT)
  • Recover lost items from Hell
  • Randomize the maze in Watcher's Keep (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Remove unrealistically helpful items from certain areas (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Remove unrealistically convenient ammunition from the game (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Delay the arrival of the "bonus merchants" in the Adventurers' Mart and the Copper Coronet (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Treat mages' and priests' High-Level Abilities as innate abilities rather than memorisable spells (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)

Cosmetic and ease-of-use tweaks

  • Ease-of-use party AI
  • Move Boo into Minsc's pack
  • Remove blur effect from the Displacer Cloak
  • Remove animation from the Cloak of Mirroring (leave it for other spells and effects that use the same graphic) (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Stackable ankheg shells, winterwolf pelts and wyvern heads (BGEE, TUTU, BGT)
  • Ensure Shar-Teel doesn't die in the original challenge (BGEE, TUTU, BGT)

AI enhancements

  • Initialise AI
  • Smarter general AI
  • Better calls for help
  • High-level abilities for spellcasters (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Smarter mages
  • Smarter Priests
  • Potions for NPCs
  • Improved Spiders
  • Improved Golems
  • Smarter dryads and sirines (BGEE, TUTU, BGT)
  • Slightly smarter carrion crawlers (BGEE, TUTU, BGT)
  • Smarter basilisks (BGEE, TUTU, BGT)
  • Improved Golems (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Improved Fiends (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Smarter Genies (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Smarter Celestials (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Smarter Dragons (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Smarter Beholders (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Smarter mind flayers (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Improved vampires (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Smarter Githyanki (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Smarter final ToB Villain (BG2, BG2EE, BGT)
  • Smarter Illasera (BG2, BG2EE, BGT - requires the Ascension mod)
  • Smarter Yaga-Shura (BG2, BG2EE, BGT - requires the Ascension mod)
  • Smarter Abazigal (BG2, BG2EE, BGT - requires the Ascension mod)
  • Smarter Gromnir (BG2, BG2EE, BGT - requires the Ascension mod)
  • Ascension versions of Sendai and Irenicus use SCS abilities and AI (BG2, BG2EE, BGT - requires the Ascension mod)
  • Ascension demons use SCS abilities and AI (BG2, BG2EE, BGT - requires the Ascension mod)

Tactical challenges for BG

  • Improved doppelgangers
  • Tougher Black Talons and Iron Throne guards
  • Improved Deployment for Parties of Assassins
  • Dark-Side-based kobold upgrade
  • Relocated bounty hunters
  • Improved Ulcaster
  • Improved Balduran's Isle
  • Improved Durlag's Tower
  • Improved Demon Cultists
  • Improved Cloakwood druids
  • Improved Bassilus
  • Improved Drasus party
  • Improved Red Wizards
  • Improved Undercity assassins
  • Tougher end-of-chapter battles
  • Improved end-of-BG battle
  • Improved miscellaneous encounters
  • Improved Watcher's Keep

Tactical challenges for BG2

  • Make the starting dungeon slightly harder
  • Improved Shade Lord
  • Spellcasting Demiliches
  • More Resilient Trolls
  • Increase difficulty of level-dependent monster groupings
  • Improved Random Encounters
  • Improved D'Arnise Keep
  • Improved Unseeing Eye
  • Improved Bodhi (Tactics remix)
  • Party's items are taken from them in Spellhold
  • Improved fight with Irenicus in Spellhold
  • Improved Sahuagin
  • Improved Beholder Hive
  • Prevent Resting in the Illithid City
  • Slightly Improved Drow
  • Improved Watcher's Keep
  • Improved Fire Giant Temple
  • Improved Sendai's Enclave
  • Improved Abazigal's Lair
  • Improved minor encounters