Month: November 2015

chargen

(from Character doc)

Anyone familiar with the original PnP will know how difficult it is to roll an 18.

.               % chance
score          on 3d6
3                    0.42
4                    1.25
5                    2.50
6                    4.17
7                     6.25
8                    8.75
9                     11.7
10                    15.0
11                    15.0
12                    11.7
13                    8.75
14                    6.25
15                    4.17
16                    2.50
17                     1.25
18                    0.42

That’s right:  a less than one half of one percent chance of getting an 18 (less than once per 200 rolls), and a less than 10% chance of getting a 15 or higher.  It is more than 50% likely that a roll will fall into the average range of 9-12.

As you can see, 18’s were monumentally difficult to achieve.  Most of the alternative rolling methods dealt with how to assign them to the attributes, as much as slightly raising the average.  You could also raise one attribute by one by lowering another by two — once.  This was when you rolled before choosing a class and not the other way around as in BG2, making being a paladin or druid or ranger much less likely and way more awesome.  The net result is that no one ever had more than one 18 if any, and having more than two stats higher than 14 was exceedingly rare.  Imoen’s stats (18 17 16 16 11 9) are absolutely godlike and should be treated as virtually cheating.  Multiple 18’s and the rest as 10’s should be disallowed, as should any stat below 6.  There’s no way to do this with BG2’s character generator, which makes any other workaround an automatic fail since re-generating Charname in Candlekeep/CI via scripts and dialogs would be cumbersome and clumsy.

Most (combat) grunt NPCs should have their primary class attribute in the 13-15 range with “bosses” 16 or higher.  Only unique or rightfully powerful NPCs should have 17 or higher or multiple attributes over 14.  Non-class attributes should be 12 or less.  The sheer number of fodder NPCs that routinely have 18’s is ridiculous.

One thing missing entirely from BG2 are class level limits for nonhumans.  Even 2e held this concept over as a way to balance power and justify a human-centric milieu.  Even though BG2’s setting, The Forgotten Realms, was born of that era, it is understandable a game that would see human characters attaining level 19 and upwards would not want to keep nonhumans in the 8 to 16 range.  Had they done so, multiclassing would have gone from optional to required just to maintain viability.  The glaring problem is, of course, that any class available to a nonhuman is going to automatically be more powerful played by a nonhuman, i.e. outside of class availability restrictions, there is a tremendous disadvantage to being human.  While I can’t easily — and don’t want to, anyway — impose level limits on nonhumans, I will be giving humans in non-exclusive classes some advantages

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Salvaging Quests, part 1: the Roenalls

AR1300

Area 1300, aka d’Arnise Keep

Isaea is a slaver, and the slavers deal with trolls.  It’s certainly possible that the trolls at the Keep are acting coincidentally, if not independently, but there’s no doubt that the “Stronger” that Torgal refers to is a Roenall (or a representative of).  Despite most of the trolls in BG being erroneously given an Intelligence of 16 in their CRE file, trolls are supposed to have Low intelligence (5-7).  That’s borderline retarded, and certainly illiterate.  Combined with their fearlessness and Chaotic Evil nature, any kind of coordinated attack, like the one seen at the Keep, would need multiple handlers capable of keeping them all in line.  Torgal is given only an 11 INT, and the fact that he is somehow immune to being tricked, bribed, or otherwise swayed from betraying his benefactor, is a massive failure of design.  Chaotic Evil doesn’t feel enduring loyalty as Torgal displays.  In fact, betrayal in this situation is pretty much a defining feature of that alignment.  Another is the respect or fear given to those more powerful.  Despite Isaea having control of a portion of Athkatla’s military, Charname and his smaller force have, at that point, displayed at least as much power, and a much more immediate threat.  Torgal should be taking the money and running.

Would Nalia’s aunt, Lady Delcia, have worked with Isaea to bring about their mutual goal of the Roenalls in charge of the Keep?  Possibly, and even if not, she certainly benefits from the results, if not the methods.  In any case, she had no real ability to influence events at the Keep, other than a promise of reward if things went her way.

Glacius seems to be the lynchpin.  I cannot handwave away the fact that he was somehow “permanently” charmed, yet still retain enough functionality to command the trolls in accord with Roenall’s wishes.  There is no spell capable of this, outside of a perfectly phrased Wish.  Regardless, the only explanation is that Roenall must have hired a mage to ensorcell Glacius, the obvious partner being a Cowled Wizard.

These revelations of basic logic can help rectify an otherwise ludicrous plot, and provide the player with more options for how to resolve it, besides the too-often-available “kill everything, sort it out after” option.

NPC mod integration

I wish there were a way to line up all the NPC mod authors, so that when this is finished, their work would be immediately compatible.  Sadly, I am not far enough along to even tell them how they could be integrated.  On the other hand, by release, I hope I will have a 1-shot batch converter, since 99% of them won’t need handcrafted customization.  They (authors) might even want to add in support for all the new plot options and outcomes.  We’ll see.

Matt Eulmen likes The Cure?

The rabbit holes of the internet are quite amazing.  In my search for an archive of BGT development, I stumbled across this mp3 of a Diablo song that didn’t make the cut for the first game.  I really like Matt’s stuff already, but listening to this definitely hearkens to early 80s Cure stuff.  This is aptly named outtake3, but tell me if it doesn’t make you think of the outro to The Cure’s A Forest.

outtake.mp3

such hope dashed

Remember this?

convman1

It was the conversion booklet put out by WotC for the changeover from 2e to 3e.  Just skimming through it, I knew it was not the direction I was interested in.  Whereas 2e was definitely more structured than 1e, it also felt soulless as it was obviously trying to compensate for uncreative DMs, leaving no room for innovation by the players or DMs.  Instead, 3e just broke things down even more, getting rid of race/class restrictions, making weapon groups available to any class, butchering thieves to spread their skills to all, etc.  Toss in that Neverwinter Nights was boring as hell, it’s no wonder I got into modding BG.

the summoning-oning-oning

I’ve been making up games and rules since I was a kid.  The thing I’ve always understood is that while you are free to make anything you want to be possible (This is magic”), you should still try to have internal consistency.  If your game is meant to be an alternative version of reality, like a medieval analog of our world except magic exists, then it should still conform to reality outside of the alternative aspects presented.  It’s fine to say “The king was assassinated by a spell,” but you better have some sort of logical reasoning behind how that spell works if you expect your players to be able to investigate the assassination.

Given the bugbear in the room regarding the concept of summoning spells, the best way to reconstruct them is to start with where we got the concept from in the first place:  consorting with demons.  Accepting and henceforth ignoring its religious origins, the early demon summoning spell itself was a drawn-out ritual, requiring obscure research and meticulous preparation.  The spell was intended to summon one specific creature, that would be trapped by the use of sigils and runes, and obligated to negotiate for its release by performing a service for the wizard.  There was an unstated understanding that, much like the power of words used in spells, words used as vows also had power, and that the Universe enforced or punished those involved.  Cf to 1e spells Suggestion, Geas, and Quest.  Note that the service might still not have been entirely paid for by releasing the demon.  Either way, the two big takeaways are that it was a tremendous effort, cost, and risk to the wizard, and that it was a unique event (although there might develop a “professional” relationship between the demon and wizard).

1e at least had it as a ritual spell with all the prep and risks.  2e pretty much avoided any talk of demons, having kowtowed to religious fundamentalists.  So too with demon summoning, removing (at least initially before its horde of DLC handbooks were published) the 7th rank spell Cacodemon.  Gate was already more of a generic “outer plane” summon spell, and so didn’t need further toning down. If someone can clue me in when TSR or WotC brought back demon summoning spells, I’d appreciate it.

Still, there at least was a bit of hope introduced in 2e, where in one of the MS descriptions was an indication that sometimes adventurers were whisked away, and not just monsters or evil humanoids.

does anyone understand summoning?

Think about what the 3rd rank spell Monster Summoning I, a staple of spellbooks since 1e, is capable of doing.

  • seeks out random creatures, usually of the types that would otherwise be enemies to the caster
  • teleports them to the caster’s location (no save)
  • enslaves them to the caster’s will (no save), including (and usually) fighting to the death

Break that down:  Depending on distance, the first one might be worth a 2nd rank spell.  The second is already a rank 6 spell, but has qualifiers, including a chance for destroying the caster.  That this version would be bringing multiple creatures from places unseen, this spell would be at least rank 7.  Finally, the last one is like Mass Charm, a rank 8 spell, but with no save, forcing it to 9.  Three spells of a combined rank value of 16, all in one 3rd rank spell!

The absurdity is obvious.

kits 0.001

Introduced in 2e, kits started out as barely more than what the term implies:  a load-out for a particular play style.  Along with this, some cultural context might be included, or associating them with certain backgrounds, personalities, or alignments.  As each class got its own handbook, rules tweaking crept in, where instead of the content being mostly about fluff and role-playing, you got the mechanical push/pull kits like most of the ones in BG:  a few bonuses to class skills, a small selection of activated abilities, balanced by penalizing or removing inherent class benefits.