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  1. - Top - End - #1
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    Yora's Avatar

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    Default Yora replays the Baldur's Gate series

    When last we left our heroes...

    A year ago it had been 20 years since the release of Baldur's Gate, which I took as a good time to replay the whole series again. I first played the game in summer 1999 and it was the thing that really got me into fantasy. I had read The Lord of the Rings, thought "nice", and otherwise forgot about it. Baldur's Gate is where it really started for me.

    Somehow I played for two weeks and made a lot of ground, but when I made it into the city itself I kind of lost interest and with each day the desire to continue went down until I just forgot about it. Which interestingly wasn't the first time. I had several playthroughs of that game that ended after the Cloakwood Mines, just as I reached Baldur's Gate.
    Now I really want to play Baldur's Gate 2 and especially Throne of Bhaal, and already being that far in the first game, it was obvious to continue where I left off and wrap it up first, before taking the character over into the second game.

    Baldur's Gate
    The city itself consists of nine maps, which compared to Beregost is just massive in size. There are about 20 taverns, 4 temples, and who knows how many stores. You can go inside most houses and some of them have small side quests, but I found that almost all of them are pretty dull. You see an NPC who tells you he wants an item. You go to another house (usually with no indication which house), talk with an NPC who attacks you and drops the item. Then you go back to the first guy and get some XP and coins. I remember exploring the city was pretty exciting the first time, but the replay value is pretty low.

    At the city gates, you meet Scar, a captain of the Flaming Fist guard, who warns you about trouble in the city and want to talk to you at the Flaming First fortress. You also meet Elminster again who says more cryptic things about destiny. Also at the city gate is the gnome cleric/wizard Quayle. Cleric/wizards are really fun, but somehow I don't like him and so I left him there.

    Scar knows I am after the Iron Throne and he thinks they are causing trouble in the city. He takes me to his boss, who is one of the four dukes ruling the city, who wants me to go investigate the Iron Throne headquarters and find out what strange things are going on there. There are also two merchant houses who both have been taken over by doppelgangers who seem to try to ruin them. I suppose to hurt the economy of the city.

    In one part of the city I ran into two Iron Throne assassins who warned me to stay out of their business. Later in a different area, one of the two approached me again to tell me his partner has poisoned me with a magic poison that will kill me in 10 days. He doesn't want to work for the Iron Throne but is compelled to do so by a geas spell and he wants to trade the cure for the poison for his freedom. He took me to a seer who told me that the spell can be broken by the priestess in the temple of Umberlee. The priestess wants a holy book from the temple of Tymora for unknown purposes. Fortunately, the priests of Tymora are nice guys and gave me the book when I said I need it or I will die. Bring the book to the priestess, then meet with the assassin, who tells me where his partner is who has the cure. Go to another inn, kill the assassin, and my life is saved.
    Unfortunately, this is one of the most elaborate quests in the city, but when you look at it broken down like this, it still looks a bit lame.

    Viconia kept complaining about the party being too good, and with it being really hard to get your reputation down from 20 once you have it there, I took all her gear and send her away. See you later.

    The Iron Throne headquarters is a big tower that was in the intro cutscene. Here are also some merchants inside who say people are acting strangely and wasting the money of the Iron Throne. As I make my way up the tower and convincing guards that I am supposed to be there with my 17 Charisma, I run into a xvart on the fourth floor who mistakes me for a city official and informs me that everyone is waiting for me on the fifth floor for the big meeting, but that the regional manager Rieltar is currently out of town.
    Somewhat surprisingly, the meeting consists of high level fighters, clerics, and wizards. Though actually, this is Forgotten Realms and that's pretty standard for any high ranking people, even corrupt merchants. They know who I am and a big fight breaks out. They also replaced the actual city official with another doppelganger. In a nearby room is one of the three Iron Throne bosses for the city who immediately surrenders and says the other two are responsible for everything. He tells me where the important documents are stored and that the big boss Rieltar is to a secret meeting in Candlekeep, and his son Sarevok out of town to check on what's going on with the Black Talons and the Chill in the bandit camp. Since he doesn't attack and tells me what I want to know, I decided to just let him leave.
    I take this new information to the leader of the Flaming Fist, who tells me I will have to go to Candlekeep and find Rieltar. He gives me an expensive rare book to pay for entrance into the library fortress.

    Return to Candlekeep
    After about 120 days out on the road and on adventures, the heroes return back to Candlekeep. Several of the people there warn me that strange things are going on and some people started acting suspiciously. In one of the houses I find a necromancer disecting dead cats, and when I keep poking him what he's doing, he's loosing his patience and reveals himself to be a doppelganger and attacks. At the doors to the library, I run into Cadderly, a priest of Oghma who probably doesn't mean anything to most players. But I know who he is and that his presence is fan service, because he does not actually say anything relevant and then leaves. One of the old teachers tells me about a strange visitor named Koveras, who he has seen reciting the prophecies of Alaundo from memory when he thought he was alone.

    Making my way up the castle I run into Koveras who says he's a friend of Gorion and has a Ring of Protection +1 he wants to give me. Further up the library building is a meeting room where Rieltar and other Iron Throne leaders are having a meeting with the Knights of the Shield, another evil merchant group of the Sword Coast. Since I want to explore more, I excuse the interruption and leave. At the top floor of the library a guard arrives to arrest me because Rieltar and his people have been found murdered and Koveras told them it was me and my gang who did it. Not wanting to fight in Candlekeep, I let the guard take me to the cell to explain the situation to the head librarian.

    The head librarian is convinced that I killed the Iron Throne leaders and want the party to be executed the next day. When he leaves another old teacher comes to the cell and says he believes me, and also tells me Koveras is a backward spelling of Sarevok, Rieltar's son. Since Candlekeep is shielded against teleportation he can not get me out of the fortress, but teleport the party into the crypts below it. The crypts are swarming with more doppelgangers wearing the appearance of people from the castle, shouting crazy nonsense, and attacking. There's also a lot of great treasure down there, including two ability boosting tomes.
    At the end of the crypt I get stopped by Elminster, Gorion, and the old teacher, who are absolutely not doppelgangers. The whole situation has been a terrible misunderstanding, Gorion has not actually died but could not find my any earlier, and the whole thing is just unbelievably contrived. I don't believe them and tell them they are doppelgangers and they attack. And die quickly like all the other doppelgangers.
    The next objective is to return to Baldur's Gate to find Sarevok and finally kill that bastard who is behind everything.

    Balduran's Island
    But first a detour to Ulgoth's Beard, to play the expansion Tales of the Sword Coast. There is one small quest where a wizard teleports you to a tiny frozen island in the southern ocean to get back his cloak. Inside the island is a big winding dungeon that has a couple of insane spellcasters trapped there who try to kill you to steal your means of escaping the island. It's a maze of very long and very narrow corridors in which the poor pathfinding of the game has a complete breakdown and characters just wander around randomly if you try to take them around more than one corner at once. And the dungeon is also full of super deadly lightning bolt traps that can instantly kill characters when they bounce around, so there's plenty of reloading. I would say this is the worst dungeon I've ever seen in any game. Fortunately it's not very long and when you kill the final wizard and pick up the cloak, you're teleported back home.

    The village itself is pretty unimpressive. There is one inn that is also the store, which does admittedly have a good selection of expensive magic items, and one named NPC home. There are other houses, but there's nothing at all inside them. One curiosity is a big empty warehouse that has a big empty basement, and in the center of the basement is a big symbol on the ground. Today I know that it's the Planescape symbol of the Abyss, but the game does not tell you or give you any indication why it is there. (I vaguely remember it becoming important later.)
    The village obviously only serves as the starting point to reach the Expansion areas, but I think this effort is pretty lame. The villages in Icewind Dale are much more interesting and that game is a pure dungeon crawler with no more plot than Diablo. Pretty disappointing.

    The one NPC found in the village houses claims to be a wizard from Waterdeep who has heard from sailors going to the new world, that they spotted an island in the ocean that had a shipwreck on it, which had the markings of the ship of the great explorer Balduran, who was lost at sea 300 years ago. He wants someone to go to that island and salvage important historical documents from the ship before other sailors land on the island and plunder it. But first you have to get sea charts that have the location of the island on it, so you need to go to Baldur's Gate and steal the map from a captain. With inventory space always being tight, I also quickly make a detour to Beregost to take Coran back into the group. Not because I am a huge fan of him, but I can't remember the location of any other non-evil characters who can wear heavy armor. So Coran it is.
    Outside his house you meet a local who says he's pretty sure the wizard is lying about being from Waterdeep, but has no idea what he might really be planning.

    With the map you take a ship out to the sea, and after a long journey it gets caught in storm and sinks just as it reaches the island. There are only six survivors, which all happen to be my party. Lucky me. Surprisingly, there's a girl on the beach who tells me there is a village nearby. All the villagers tell me I am an outsider and to go talk with the wife of the chief, since the chief is currently gone.
    The people on the island tell me that their ancestors came there 300 years ago when their ship was wrecked. Their village has grown and they have plenty of supplies, so they have been planning to build a ship and travel all to the mainland. Unfortunately the island is also inhabited by beasts, who turn out to be werewolves who have made their lair in the shipwreck. They have a small ship ready, but the werewolves don't let them get near it, so I have to kill them. Those werewolves are just brutal! Not necessarily the toughest enemies in the game, but they tend to come in gangs of four to six and they absolutely slaughter even my level 8 guys with 70 hp and AC -4. Jaheira is not the most terribly efficient healer, but I still have to rest after every two encounters.
    Near the shipwreck is a small hut that is the home of an elven wizard who is the last survivor of the original crew. He really wants to get off the island, but left behind his spellbook when the werewolves moved into the shipwreck and can't do anything without it.

    The shipwreck has four rooms, each one tougher than the last. The first two I managed to clear in a row before returning to the hut to heal and rest. After the third room I had to retreat and heal again, but the fourth one with the werewolf leader was by far the hardest. I actually had to retreat during the battle to heal up and then come back to continue the fight because those werewolves were just shredding my party to pieces in seconds. It's also so tight and crowded that you can't spam fireballs, and the beasts have too good saving throws for entangle to work very well. At least I have haste, or everything would have been so much worse.

    Once the werewolves are defeated I return to the village to bring the leader the good news. She wants me to stay with them forever, but the other elder is completely against letting outsiders in and it turns out that the villagers are all werewolves as well. The leaders runs away with the map, and instead of killing all the werewolves I decide to just leg it. Outside the hut, the village's storyteller who I did some quests for wants to help me escape and leads me to a secret passage that leads to the ship. I catch up with the leader before she leaves, but she says now that I know about the village she can not let me return to the mainland and tell others about it. Since she's alone, she's fortunately not that hard to beat.

    The party leaves with the ship and returns to Ulgoth's Beard. The wizard reveals himself to be the chief of the village who wanted to send sea charts back to his wife so they could follow him. Or something like that. What my role in all of this was supposed to be is a bit unclear, as is the reason why the shipwreck werewolves had to be killed. He is of course a werewolf as well and attacks and dies.

    While the exact story does not really make sense, it's actually one of the better ones in the whole game. This adventure is not very big, but still took me about 4 hours to complete, and I knew where everything was. But it's so freaking hard.

    Approximate Play Time: 62 hours.
    We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on very tall tower of other dwarves.

    Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

  2. - Top - End - #2
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    Default Re: Yora replays the Baldur's Gate series

    Durlag's Tower - Upper Levels

    A bard in Ulgoth's Beard offers tours of the infamous Durlag's Tower, a dwarven ruin that has been abandoned since its builder went mad. In the inn, there's also a dwarf who wants you to go to the tower and find the dagger of his ancestor. You can either agree to meet the tour guide at the tower, or just go there by yourself.

    Outside the tower is a merchant who has some useful stuff like potions, but most importantly he will buy most of the treasure that you find in the tower. Which is a lot! But I am
    not sure if it was really needed that he's on the complete opposite part of the map than the gate into the fortress.
    The path to the tower is guarded by Doom Guards, which make it very clear that this is a high level area and coming here early is pointless. There are also doppelganger without disguise wandering around, which needlessly gives away what's going on in the tower. The tower itself is guarded by two more doom guards and some skeletons, but when you have doom guards guarding your fortress, skeletons are purely decorative.
    How the guide got his tourist group past all the monsters is left unclear. Inside he shows you some things in the main hall until one of the tourists takes a look inside one of the side rooms and gets roasted by a trap. Suddenly, a big scary looking demon knight appears in the hall, proclaims that this is now his tower, and kills everyone with fireballs. Hopefully your party is not killed by that, or you have a recent save so you can position them where they won't get fried when you try it again. This is unfortunately how much of this dungeon works.

    The tower itself has four levels, some treasure, and is haunted by ghasts. Which at this point are total pushovers. There is also a ghost wizard who says something about the tower being attacked by doppelgangers who killed the dwarf lord's family and drove him mad, before he recognized that I am not Durlag and attacks. At the top floor of the tower is a succubus that somehow got trapped there. I had not known that there is a succubus in the game since it uses the model of a nymph, and I guess last time I played this I didn't really know what a succubus is. In the end, she of course also attacks and is killed.
    Already it becomes clear that in this tower, everything is trapped. Every chest, every bookcase, every doorway. Always let the thief check everything for traps for a while before touching anything or just moving.
    On the roof of the tower are four basilisk for no apparent reason that I could see. Fortunately I knew they were there, so I saved up two potions of mirrored eyes. My fighter took one and went first, while everyone stayed back and used ranged attacks. With the basilisk attacking only me, and me being immune to petrification, it went really easy. But I was rather disapointed that the potions last only 10 rounds, while a scroll of protection against petrification lasts 6 hours, I believe.

    Already at this point, I went back to the merchant to sell all my loot since I ran out of inventory space. And even this part of the tower took me two hours to play.

    Durlag's Tower - First Level
    Here is where it's getting really meaty. I notices that by this point, my fighter Naderion, Khalid, and Jaheira have all already reached max level, with the fighters being 8th level and Jahreira being a Fighter 7/Druid 8. Imoen and Xan both are very close to reaching theirs, and Coran of course still has a long way to go, having been out of the party for a long time.

    As soon as you come down the stairs to the first dungeon level, there's a fireball trap leading into the first room. This tells you immediately that traps are going to be even worse down here. This is probably my favorite area in the whole game, and perhaps in the series. At the center of the area is a big main hall that has a large elevator in the middle that is guarded by four dwarven ...things? They certainly aren't real dwarves, but they don't seem to be ghosts or golems either. But they seem to be some kind of bound spirits or magical constructs. They each have a task to perform before they let you take the elevator down to the second level.

    I found most enemies here to be very managable, even wraith spiders, mustard slimes, and flesh golems are no longer a threat. The greater doppelgangers are a different story, though. There's a small library with three of them and those turned out to be a really though fight. They can hit my AC -4 fighters probably about half the time and easily do over 10 damage on a hit. With my fighter only having 80 hp when fully healed, those guys tear the party to shreds. Fortunately I had been collecting scrolls of stinking cloud, cloudkill, web, and hold person for just such an occasion. I had Xan sneak ahead and throw both a a web and a cloudkill into the room and then quickly run back. Amazingly, this still was not overkill! Those guys have amazing saving throws. Only one of them got killed by it, but when the other two came after Xan, they were already wounded enough so that they both went down without killing any of my party.
    This is a dungeon where you really need to save after every room, because you will be reloading a lot. It also had enough treasure in it to make me go to the merchant a second time because I ran out of inventory space again. And there was still more stuff down there. There's also something like 30 healing potions on this level.

    The four puzzles are reasonably fun and interesting. Not hugely amazing, but considerably more sophisticated than in the rest of the game. After each of the four dwarves got what they wanted, they of course immediately attacked. Like everything in this place does! Good thing I knew and saved before talking with the final dwarf. This was by far the hardest fight I had in the game so far. Much harder than the werewolves on the ship.
    First I summoned some dogs and also had Xan equip a staff of monster summoning. Then I had him and Jaheira cast protection from fear, bless, and haste and send three of the dogs to the second and third dwarves each, which my whole party surrounding the first dwarf. The fight was complete chaos and a total massacre. With everyone piling on the first dwarf, he went down relatively quickly. By that point, my six buffed dogs were of course all already dead. Using Xan's wand, I summoned six hobgoblins to keep the third dwarf occupied while I had everyone pile on the second. Then the four dwarf arrives where my party was, and with the hobgoblins being slaughtered, I summoned six more gnolls as additional meatshields.
    I think at the third or fourth try, it actually worked without any of my party getting killed.

    To my big surprise, this one dungeon level almost took another two hours to get through. I believe the deeper levels are not as big, but there's still a lot to do in this dungeon before the end.

    I am feeling super annoyed by Xan being an enchanter. Enchanter is the worst type of wizard because they can't use any of the good damage and crowd controll spells. No magic missiles, no fireballs, no lightning bolts, no stinking cloud, no cloudkill. I'm basically using him only for identify, acid arrow, haste, and dispel magic. And now summon monster 2 at 4th level. So many spell slots and nothing useful to do with them.

    Another thing I noticed that it probably would have been pretty easy to reach the original XP cap of 89,000 without the expansion even without completing all content in the game. And given how many XP the enemies on Balduran's Island and Durlag's Tower give, I think even the raised cap of 161,000 is still too low.
    We are not standing on the shoulders of giants, but on very tall tower of other dwarves.

    Beneath the Leaves of Kaendor

  3. - Top - End - #3
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    Default Re: Yora replays the Baldur's Gate series

    Kudos to you for going through this. I don't have the patience for it these days. I played and finished BG1, after finishing TOB several times. The "gotcha" moments are too many, the healing too manual and inefficient, and the unlabeled maps make it too hard to navigate. It was not fun enough to repeat.

    I've thought about re-playing BG2/TOB, but I was at the point where I've already beaten it with everything except like "solo poverty sorcerer" type approaches.

  4. - Top - End - #4
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    Default Re: Yora replays the Baldur's Gate series

    In the meantime I finished Baldur's Gate and I'm now probably halfway through BG2.

    Unlike the Ice Island and Balduran's Island, Durlag's Tower turned out to be actually a really substantial expansion. In total it took me about 13 hours to finish, but a great deal of that comes down to progress being very slow. I believe somewhere on the third dungeon level all five of my primary party members were maxed out at 161,000 XP with still a decent amount of game to go.
    The demon at the very end of the dungeon is a really hard cookie and took me everything I had to throw against it. I think when I did kill it, it had actually glitched to stop attacking, but at that point I didn't really care to do it again on principle. Where the game just gets really ridiculously hard is when you return back to Ulgoth's Beard to deliver the family dagger to a dwarf. You are ambushed by cultists who take the dagger from you and the leader teleports away to a nearby warehouse that previously had been mysteriously empty of anything. After fighting a short path through a massive amount of cultists, that for the most part were not that hard, you get to the basement of the warehouse where the cult leader is summoning a nabassu demon.
    That might perhaps the most ridiculous fight in the whole series. My party was almost completely maxed out and decked out in the best weapons and armor in the whole game, and with loads of rings and other stuff like christmas trees. And it's still nearly impossible. The demon is surrounded by seven cultists who just stand around doing nothing, but when the demon is killed it just reincarnates in one of them and you have to do the whole fight all over. There is no way to know this in advance, so you have to try and fail the fight at the very least once. But it might take a couple of fights to even get to that point before you learn you completely have to change your strategy and kill all the cultists first. When the design of a fight relies on having to figure out its abilities through trial and error before you can even hope to actually fight it, it's terrible design for a single player RPG. Every fight should potentially be beatable on the first try. Reloading previous saves should not be part of the combat design.
    The demons hit points, armor, and damage are not a terribly huge problem, and I took care of that by spamming Xan's monster summoning wand over and over. Just create and maintain a big wall of meat between the demon and the party that attacks only with ranged weapons. The biggest problem is that the demon has a magic attack that can disable several of your characters at once for the rest of the fight, which it can use several times. And it also has a unique magical attack that puts a character on a timer of four rounds or so that will kill them instantly with no save, I believe. Fortunately, both these effects can be removed with a dispel magic spell and I had a couple of casters who can all cast it. But that also removes your own buffs. And it only works if none of your casters get hit by the initial mass hold spell. So there is a lot of reloading. I quickly became so pissed with the fight that I set the difficulty to easy since I just wanted it to be over with. I only bothered with it because I am pretty certain this is the very last time I am ever playing this game and I want to make a 100% of the whole series. Otherwise I would just have let that demon in that basement and continued with the main quest. In the end, it took me who knows how many reloads and 90 minutes to beat an enemy where victory and defeat is often already decided in the first 5 seconds. There is no attempt of balance with this fight. It's just made as hard as it can be to be at least potentially possible to beat.

    After that it was back to Baldur's Gate and there was not much left to do. You get some documents in the Iron Throne tower that explain that the main character and Sarevok are both children of the dead god of murder, and Sarevok believes he can gain the divine power of Bhaal by causing the violent death of thousands of people. So he arranged for a war between Baldur's Gate and the neighbouring country Amn through the iron crisis he created. There was never any plan to make money from it, as he pretended to the rest of the Iron Throne. He killed one of the four dukes of the city and one of his doppelgangers is poisoning the leaders of the Flaming Fist army. When you save the commander he tells you where to find two assassins who plan to kill the remaining other two dukes during the reception where Sarevok will be made a duke for saving the city by supplying it with iron for the coming war. You kill the assassins, take their invitation, and expose Sarevok. He teleports away and a wizard tracks him to a dungeon under the thieves guild. The dungeon leads to a large cave with a big ruined underground city that has a big temple of Bhaal at the center. There's a group of Iron Throne mercenaries hunting Sarevok for destroying the Iron Throne's branch in Baldur's Gate that try to kill you too, and one of Sarevoks loyal flunkies who tries to convince you to spare his life, which you obviously can't agree to, so you have to kill her too. They have some really cool equipment, but at this point of the game it's really completely redundant.

    The final fight inside the Temple with Sarevok and his three lieutenants is pretty big, but after having completed Durlag's Tower it's not really much of a challenge. I was considering fighting this battle fairly, but I didn't have the motivation and instead relied on the tried and true method of using only ranged attacks and spells and keeping Sarevok away from my characters by spamming summon monster. This is the final fight after all and you can throw all your limited use equipment at him. Sarevok disintegrates in the same way as you do during the death cutscene and the dust disappears into a crack below the temple floor. Far below it reaches a statue of Sarevok that crumbles into rubble, but it turns out to be surrounded by hundreds of other statues, some of them already shattered as well.

    All in all, I spend some 80 hours on the game, doing probably 99% of the content except for a few evil party member mini-quests. And that on my sixth or so playthrough. New players could probably spend 100 to 120 hours with this game easily. For the most part, I did quite enjoy my time with this game. But I think this was mostly because it held little challenge for me at this point, and because it was a pure nostalgia trip. This is clearly the most important game in my life, and I probably spend much more time with it than any other game, even the endless hours I've put into Dark Souls.
    As such, I would not actually recommend it to anyone. The only people who should play this game are people who have already decided that they really want to play it. And it probably can be quite fun for them. But for everyone who is wondering "should I play this game I heard great things about?", I would say probably no. You have to be a fan of this style of games to enjoy it, and even then it's not really offering that much by today's standards. It was really impressive 20 years ago, but it's good qualities have been far surpassed by other games since then.

    In the last three weeks, I've been playing a lot of Baldur's Gate 2, and I think I am now probably halfway through the game. To my great surprise, I found this game not to be as good as I remembered it. There are much fewer quests than in the first game, but they are almost all much longer and much more complex. Yet at the same time, I was really surprised that the writing is really bad. 15 years ago I didn't see it that way, but this playthrough is one of the most cringy experiences I ever had playing a game. The character writing really hurts to read and listen to. I already noticed it right in the first dungeon with Imoen being overly melodramatic in a very corny way every time she was saying anything. Then Jaheira gets upset and you will have her shout abuse at you for the next 10 hours or so. the writing for women in this game is so awful it is outright insulting. Not just Imoen and Jaheira, but also Airie, Viconia, and Nalia. They all constantly have to tell you their sob stories about how terribly mistreated they have been by evil men and how they rely on the main character for support. The minor villains of Jaheira's and Nalia's questlines are cartoonish carricatures and the big bad Irenicus is a monologing edgelord. When I was 16, I thought Minsc and Jan Jansen are comedy gold. Today I have no idea how I ever thought there is anything remotely funny about them.
    Character dialog in this game is really painful.

    After having done most of the stuff in the starting city of the game, I noticed something really interesting. A very good number of my playthroughs of the first game ran out of steam and ended all around the point where I finished the Cloakwood Mines and entered Baldur's Gate. I think I stop playing at that point more often than I actually continued to the end. There is something about the shift from the big open world in the first two thirds of the game to the city in the final third that makes me lose my interest, and it was exactly at this point that this playthrough went on pause for an entire year.
    With Baldur's Gate 2, most of my past playthroughs ended about the time I had completed everything to do inside the city and started to head out to the wilderness areas. I probably got this far five or six times in the past, but completed the game only twice from what I remember. And it is precisely at this point that I find my interest flagging again now. I did Trademeet, which I think wasn't very fun and I might not have been two since my last completed playthrough in 2001. And I also did the Umar Hills, which were not nearly as interesting and much shorter than I remembered. And now with the Planar Sphere, everything is grinding to a halt. I eventually did complete it, but it took me a whole week, with several days were I played only one hour or not at all. I still have to rescue Haer#Dalis and his gang from the prison and then do the Windspear Hills, which I am not particularly looking forward to, and from that point it will be main quest only until the end.
    That might help with the motivation, but now that my party is all around level 14, I am finding the combat to be increasingly less fun. As common knowledge says, D&D starts to show cracks at 10th level and really breaks down around 15th level, and that already applies to 2nd Edition as well. There are now way too many big monsters that can only be hurt by +3 weapons, of which I have only two, and are immune to magic, and there are lots of spells that take characters out of the fight for much longer than the fight will last. And it seems I have just now reached the point where enemy wizards have horrid wilting, which can be instant death for anyone standing nearby. This isn't really that fun anymore. And in addition to that, it seems like every wizard now has a contingency ready that casts four protection spells which make them immune against various forms of attack. This does increase their staying power, which I can understand from a developer's perspective. But since they now start throwing instant death spells, fighting them isn't really more fun either. I expect this to only get worse as I make it further into the game and the expansion.
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    Default Re: Yora replays the Baldur's Gate series

    I have been playing BG2 lately as a paladin
    and then the weirdest thing happened during shadows of amn
    I was at watcher's keep at the machine of lum the mad
    and I fiddled with it for a bit
    and when i was done I left watchers keep
    (because i didn't want to go to the fourth seal at the level my party was)
    so I travel back to Waukeen's promenade and the whole town of Athkatla had reset
    so I had to do ALL the quests again
    I killed Gaxx and Firkragg a second time each and had two rings and two Carsomyr's
    I wrecked the game though as I couldn't travel to spellhold
    so I had to restart

    have you even had this problem?

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    Default Re: Yora replays the Baldur's Gate series

    I always liked BG2 much better than BG1 (I played these games in a weird order: IWD, BG2, BG1). I like Athkatla a lot, the coolest RPG city until Kirkwall in DA2 imho. And also had fun with the outside quests, especially the Umar Hills and the temple of Amaunator, and not just because my main playthrough was with a ranger
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    Default Re: Yora replays the Baldur's Gate series

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    That might help with the motivation, but now that my party is all around level 14, I am finding the combat to be increasingly less fun. As common knowledge says, D&D starts to show cracks at 10th level and really breaks down around 15th level, and that already applies to 2nd Edition as well. There are now way too many big monsters that can only be hurt by +3 weapons, of which I have only two, and are immune to magic, and there are lots of spells that take characters out of the fight for much longer than the fight will last. And it seems I have just now reached the point where enemy wizards have horrid wilting, which can be instant death for anyone standing nearby. This isn't really that fun anymore. And in addition to that, it seems like every wizard now has a contingency ready that casts four protection spells which make them immune against various forms of attack. This does increase their staying power, which I can understand from a developer's perspective. But since they now start throwing instant death spells, fighting them isn't really more fun either. I expect this to only get worse as I make it further into the game and the expansion.
    That's a pretty common sentiment. AD&D 2E really was not meant to go into the regions that BG2 takes it. AC fails to scale, saving throws outscale spells to the point you can't make them stick without Greater Malison... it really narrows down viable strategy. And a lot of it just comes down to stripping enemy mage defences so they can be stomped flat by your own spellcasters' Muggle sidekicks. Late BG1/early BG2 is probably the kind of experience that people remember fondly.
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    Default Re: Yora replays the Baldur's Gate series

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    That's a pretty common sentiment. AD&D 2E really was not meant to go into the regions that BG2 takes it. AC fails to scale, saving throws outscale spells to the point you can't make them stick without Greater Malison... it really narrows down viable strategy. And a lot of it just comes down to stripping enemy mage defences so they can be stomped flat by your own spellcasters' Muggle sidekicks. Late BG1/early BG2 is probably the kind of experience that people remember fondly.
    OTOH, a lot of myths about BG2 progression persist on the net, like Archers being useless in ToB (when they're pretty amazing even at that point), everyone in ToB being immune to +3 weapons (when it's like 5 dudes and only one of them has to be killed). In the meantime, while Greater Malison is a nifty spell, many spell-like effects (Stunning Blow or the Celestial Fury stun) can be easily just applied by force because most ToB enemies actually have a Save vs Spell around 6 at most; some other spells are cast at a saving throw penalty (like Slow), which means you generally have a 50% chance of applying a debuff of that sort, and then there's also the potential bonus from being a mage specialist. Similarly, Armor Class works very well for the entirety of Shadows of Amn and it's only ToB that cranks it up to eleven while giving you very little AC itemization, but characters that actually bother to reach the AC cap (which most cookie-cutter dual-wielders don't) will have decent avoidance.

    There's a reason this game was also fully solo'd with every class, after all, and many of those attempts were even successful no-reloads. There are multiple approaches to disabling mages, after all - some very well known, which is why we adore Keldorn, and some much less so, which is why Cernd has a memetic hatedom instead of the credit he deserves.
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    Default Re: Yora replays the Baldur's Gate series

    Aside from Insect Plague/Creeping Doom, how is Cernd good against casters?

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    Default Re: Yora replays the Baldur's Gate series

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    Aside from Insect Plague/Creeping Doom, how is Cernd good against casters?
    Because of Insect Plague/Creeping Doom. Do you need anything else? You can fill all of your level 5 spellslots into Insect Plague and just go to town. The spells are broken to the point SCS nerfs them. You can also insist on Nature's Beauty, which is an AoE blind with no save. Blindness is an insanely powerful debuff in BG2. Ofc, Jaheira is much better at 6,000,000 XP when she equalizes in spellslots (and has other tools at the table too), but Cernd isn't given a fair shake nonetheless. No comments about his personality and personal quest, of course.
    Last edited by Winthur; 2020-03-15 at 06:19 PM.
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    Default Re: Yora replays the Baldur's Gate series

    Cernd's physical stats are pretty terrible, though. He's only good either actively casting at a few spell slot levels, or as a greater werewolf. The rest of the time, he's a 2nd-tier healer without the ability to remove negative levels.

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    Default Re: Yora replays the Baldur's Gate series

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    Cernd's physical stats are pretty terrible, though.
    And Korgan and Minsc have low Wisdom. Neither of them cares. With Cernd's Ironskins, he doesn't care either. The best tank in the game under any hardmode setup (Haer'dalis) has pitiful CON and he doesn't care that's the case as well.
    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    He's only good either actively casting at a few spell slot levels
    Yes, and those spells are among the strongest in the game. To the point where difficulty mods nerf them for you. Insect Plague is extremely good and it, alone, elevates Cernd to a good NPC, and he has more spells on top of that. Which includes an AoE blind without save, which is, again, a complete AI shutdown in most encounters. And more. And at level 4, he summons a Nymph that has access to level 5 spells.

    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    or as a greater werewolf.
    The form's low AC, combined with Ironskins, also allow Cernd to lampoon as a damage soak throughout SoA. In a pinch, it's not bad. I'd argue all Druid kits, generally, only benefit from their kits early in the game, as the benefits fall off and they transition more to being a full caster.
    Quote Originally Posted by J-H View Post
    The rest of the time, he's a 2nd-tier healer without the ability to remove negative levels
    "Healer" is not a role in high demand in BG2; Regenerate and Heal are still on the Druid's spell list and healing in combat, as always in D&D, is inefficient; long casting times on spells make it so that spamming Heal on a tank is a risky proposition at worst, strictly inferior at best. Potions and items like Rod of Resurrection are more efficient at healing than any healer. BG2 also showers you in items that allow you for immunity to level drain or items that completely shut down undead (Azuredge and Daystar in Chapter 2 alone, and then also Mace of Disruption), the main users of the status effect. Instead of memorizing Heals, you could be shutting down encounters before any Heal is necessary with Harm. Using a single tank with really high AC also generally prevents getting hit by many nasty on-hit effects including mindflayer touch and level drain touch, since these on-hit abilities don't generally belong to adversaries with good THAC0.

    What mostly matters is damage prevention. The best tanks in the game (arcane casters and characters maximizing high levels of damage reduction, like from Hardiness+Defender of Easthaven+Armor of Faith combo) aren't relying on outside heals, but on their own abilities and weapons like Foebane and Axe of the Unyielding.

    And also, Druids do have Negative Plane Protection and, like anyone else with sufficient Intelligence, can read the scrolls of Lesser Restoration, which aren't uncommon.
    Last edited by Winthur; 2020-03-16 at 12:54 PM.
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    Default Re: Yora replays the Baldur's Gate series

    Attributes in Baldur's Gate are frequently overestimated. Sure, it helps to have them higher than not, but they can be compensated for. And until they get to the highest levels, they might not matter at all. I think the only difference between 9 and 15 strength is what armor you can wear... but it's been a while.
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    Default Re: Yora replays the Baldur's Gate series

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    Attributes in Baldur's Gate are frequently overestimated. Sure, it helps to have them higher than not, but they can be compensated for. And until they get to the highest levels, they might not matter at all. I think the only difference between 9 and 15 strength is what armor you can wear... but it's been a while.
    Strength in BG is mostly useful for toting around the huge quantities of sellable crap the game drops on you. Your THAC0 and damage might not change between strengths 8 and 15 but your ability to haul loot almost triples.

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    Default Re: Yora replays the Baldur's Gate series

    Quote Originally Posted by GloatingSwine View Post
    Strength in BG is mostly useful for toting around the huge quantities of sellable crap the game drops on you. Your THAC0 and damage might not change between strengths 8 and 15 but your ability to haul loot almost triples.
    True, although I do wonder how low everyone's strength would need to be for it to become an issue. Past a certain point there's not much reason to pick up anything that's not a +1 item or plate armor.
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    Default Re: Yora replays the Baldur's Gate series

    This is true, my brother is playing.

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