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@Prime

 

Ah I see the area you're lacking in now (it's not really archers...oops).  It's funny I made this mathematical formula for archer party composition that's unshakeable (no not really).  Rangers/Paladins built as bowmen/Fighters + Fighter/Thieves built as bowmen count as 1, Thieves with high dex count as .75, Mages using darts count as a bonus and sling wielders count as -1.  So according to my rock solid formula you're at -.25.  I'm surprised you're getting anywhere at all! :p

 

In a more serious vein, the reason why i'm anything but fond of slings is their incredibly low fire rate and low weapon speed not to mention that for the previous two massive disadvantages they only come with a mediocre damage range.  As a comparison your throwing axes have slightly higher speed and a higher damage range.  Slings in a word... suck.  Your party composition problems aren't related to archers however (well kind of).  Doing some party head math I don't think you actually have a mage especially if Garrick is singing all the time.  While having Garrick sing does make your other five guys slightly stronger, it also takes him completely out of the fight so you're left dealing with mobs with a group of 5.  Personally, i'd drop Branwen (your Cleric) the first chance I got and pick up Ajantis and move Jaheira off sling duty and put her on the front line with a spear or scimitar/shield combo creating what I consider to be a mandatory meat wall for such things like archers.  I'd say pick up a good Mage but then I remembered you only really have 2 options Dynaheir who you don't want because of Minsc and Xan who I really can't recommend (no magic missiles? I mean really?).  If you "bend" a little Edwin's probably your best choice but you might hate him (personally I think his ego's hilarious).  Then again you might be on the path to dual Imoen to a Mage in which case i'd just keep Garrick but have him be your caster/crossbowman until Imoen's ready to mage it up.  After, i'd grab Kivan or Coran for a truly frightening party that I consider near "perfect."  2 tanks in the form of Jaheira and Ajantis, your go between death machine Kensei, 3 rock solid archers in the form of Khalid specced in bows, Kivan/Coran and Imoen using a short bow, 1.5 healers (a druid too!) with Jaheira and Ajantis and one solid Mage with Imoen.

 

The reason I said your weakness is a lack of a Mage though is because groups of non-skeleton archers fall over dead when you lob a sleep spell their way.  Personally, I consider some of the ambushes almost unbearable if you don't have a web spell ready for them.  I think you're going to have some trouble if you don't find yourself some magic however on the plus side Garrick can sub in as a Mage at lvl 2+ though it would require less singing on his part.

 

As far as Planescape goes I have managed a slightly slow start (forgot how much reading there was) and have left the Mortuary well kind of... as it crashed and it was getting a little late.  At char creation I dumped points into intelligence and wisdom to 18 and put the rest into charisma.  I might have wasted the points into charisma as there's always the friends spell but then again I think there was at least one instance where friends wouldn't help you get the dialogue options you needed.  I'm going full Mage which i've never mained in an infinity engine game until now but i'll swap to fighter/thief if I really need the class to open more options but only then as I won't have the stats to make good use of those respective secondary classes.  Plan on pumping wisdom till 22 and using +wisdom tats as a hold over till I get the various wisdom increases till 25 and swap out the wisdom tats as I go.  Getting 3 more points from specialization in int for 21 total as I think there's at least one REALLY high int dialogue option (as well as whatever other int bonuses I end up getting).  Adding 1 more point into charisma (+ 2 bonus charisma points) as I believe you need a 15 for everything though I could be wrong.  Friends spell might save my rump if it gets sticky (I hope).  Points into str till 15 (with bonuses) after as I think it opens up an endgame dialogue option.  The rest into con or con/charisma.

 

At the very least this run through should be much more efficient as I had a 25 wisdom/25 constitution fighter for my first run and having clashing stats is really freaking annoying.

Edited by Razsius
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Thanks. Things are getting easier. I dropped off Garrick and got that ranger dude instead, which bumped up my offensive power a fair bit. I think a bard is a pretty good addition around levels 1-2 actually because the problem is that you're whiffing all the time, and +1 to hit for everybody can make a big difference.

 

My party is now between levels 4-5 and I'm coping pretty nicely by now. Splatting ankhegs without much trouble. I like divine spellcasters; they're good all-arounders and having lots of healing power is good. I had Xan tagging along for a bit but he was too emo for my blood so I dropped him off, although Sleep on a bandit group was, indeed, very effective. But I think I'm over the initial hump. I'll dual Imoen after another level or two; I want to bump her find traps/open locks skills up to respectable levels before I do that. I'll only dual Athia late, perhaps not until BG2.

 

And you know what? Now I get where your "combat XP FTW" party is coming from. BG is extremely grindy. Half the fun is finding tough but just-killable enemies and splatting them to level up -- and you do level up pretty fast that way. There is definite enjoyment to that dynamic. It's like going back to the old days of dungeon-crawling D&D with graph paper and entering a 30 x 30 foot room with an ogre guarding a chest. Nostalgia. I can understand how that would become the definitive, core Infinity Engine experience for you, and how you'd be seriously miffed when it's taken away from you.

 

Personally... I'm kind of over that gameplay mechanic, much like I'm over playing tabletop D&D with graph paper and elaborate dungeons. It was fun, but I'm older now, and I'm looking for other things. For me, Torment was the definitive IE experience -- not because it was perfect (it certainly wasn't!) but because it showed that a cRPG could be more than just good clean gnoll-splatting fun. And ironically Torment wasn't really all that good a fit for the IE and the AD&D ruleset.

 

I think there is a possible synthesis to be found between the two styles, though. It could be possible to have enough grindy elements to make that aspect of gameplay appealing; enough tactical fun to make that part worthwhile, and enough story and depth to make the whole thing worthwhile. P:E could very well be that synthesis.

 

So thanks for encouraging me to give BG another shot. I still won't miss combat XP in P:E -- but I understand why you would, and sympathize... and if they change their minds about it and put it in, I'll be happy for you. And I'll keep playing.

 

Re Torment, it sounds like you know very well what you're doing. Perhaps... too well. For me, the real key to enjoying it was to hit myself on the head with a brick until I stopped metagaming, and then enjoy the ride. When I returned to it this time, I played in self-imposed "no savegame abuse" mode -- I did whatever I felt was right and never looked back. I only had to "cheat" twice over the entire game; once when I painted myself into a corner and once when I picked a game-ending dialog option. (The Modron Maze doesn't count, since that's designed as a place for grinding.) And I'm sure I missed stuff or picked sub-optimal choices at times. It was also an enormous amount of fun.

 

Torment is really all about paying careful attention to what people are telling you, and following up. And examining absolutely everything, especially weird items in your inventory, not just once, but multiple times. It's all about attention to detail. Not just mechanically talking to everyone and then ticking off questions.

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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@Prime:

 

That's a really good point about Torment, and I think that's what many people don't "get" about it. It's an unusual game in that its greatness really isn't in the systems, which are mostly just functional "B-minus" ones, but in the feelings evoked by the player's interaction with the systems.

 

That's actually true for all the IE games, albeit in different ways. The IWD series is the strongest mechanically, but it's often considered lesser than the other two, because it doesn't quite activate the player's imagination in the same way.

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I feel like a damned fool Prime...

 

@#$%!  I mean really?!  How the HELL did I miss this?!

 

 

You see a tired-looking, sorrowful old man who is gazing at the ash-dead tree in front of him.  He is mumbling to himself and tapping his chin, as if trying to figure something out.  Occasionally, he shakes his head sadly.

 

"Greetings..."

 

He seems momentarily startled as you interrupt his train of thought.  He speaks in a calm, unhurried tone, but one filled with sadness.  "Oh... greetings to you too, friend.  How does this day find you?"

 

"Does it matter?"

 

The man is caught off-guard, but then nods assent confidently.  "Yes, friend, it does.  To me at least... though that doesn't count for much, it seems."  He seems about to turn back to the tree.

 

"Doesn't count much?  What do you mean?"

 

"It's a long story... not something the casual passer-by would want to stand around for, I'm sure.  Let's just say that any efforts I've made to rouse the people here to action have been... ignored."

 

"What is it you had wanted the people to do?"

 

"I had wanted them to... to..." he seems exasperated, frustrated at his loss for words "...to *care*.  Is that so much, friend?"  He looks at you in earnest.

 

"Care about what?"

 

He pats the tree beside him.  "It's the trees, here, in the Hive.  They're dying, friend -- and no one cares."  Seeing the look on your face, he holds his hands up, as if to silence you for a moment.  "It may not matter to some, but it's important to me.  I feel it's a shame to see the last tatters of life and beauty in this ward left, uncared for, to die.  Can you understand that friend?" (No I couldn't Mourns-for-Trees I was too busy metagaming my way through that I was completely oblivious to what you were *actually* trying to tell me... the first time)

 

Note: Here's where it get's interesting.  Your FIVE dialogue options are thus:

 

"Yes... you're right, it's a sad thing"

"No.  All things die, in time; why concern yourself with the when and how of it?"

"No, I can't.  Unless the trees are of some use to someone who would care?"

"Yes. I had some questions..."

"I understand. Farewell."

 

Okay, it's time to pay attention people.  Class is in session.  You see 4 of these responses in your everyday life ALL the time however, one and only one of them do you see rarely.  Mourns-for-Trees asks one very simple question but you can show you DO NOT understand by picking 4 of the options.  Aren't the personalty types for options 2-5 something along the lines of this:

 

"I am the 'logical' person you find in everyday life, the fatalist who simply can't care to ask anymore."  "I am your best friend."

"I am the manipulative bastard who finds glee in using you." "My whims define your will." "I am your father."

"I am the individual who fakes understanding yet never stops demanding things from you." "I am your sibling."

"I am the 'human being' that asks you how you are doing yet never responds to your answer as I do NOT actually care" "I am the extended family."

 

Only by picking option 1 do you understand what Mourns-for-Trees is actually asking.  This wouldn't show up in any game system however, in fact it generally doesn't show up even if you are paying attention but it is there.  I completely missed it the first time but I did rather like Mourns-for-Trees, I just couldn't put my finger on why....

 

Now I know.  Sacred Path if you're still around I have a question for you that you'd probably be unable to answer.  Why does the "gutter rat" Annah with Tiefling blood have the most beautiful tune of the companions?

 

Edit: God I love Dak'kon's response when you ask him if he can care for the trees.

 

"One finds your request most intriguing.  Trees, in the Hive?  Like cities, in Limbo.  They would stand as a testament to the will of the People not to bow to that which would surround and devour them; to take what has been thrust upon them or left behind and make good of it.  I, too, will care for these trees."

Edited by Razsius
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You know, Razsius, I think it was that same interaction that sold me on PS:T. Up to that point I was more like "wait, wut?" but from there on out I knew I was dealing with something unique and unusual.

 

So yeah, you have it now.

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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@Raz:

 

Exactly. You're getting it.

 

It's the moments like that one that make Torment a special game. It's such a gloriously weird interaction by RPG standards, and something that would be unceremoniously chopped out of most RPGs for being "boring" or "pointless."

 

But it isn't boring, and it isn't pointless. It's just not an interaction that's immediately understandable and gratifying. And if that bothers you as a player, it's not like the other interactions are wrong. If you don't care about the trees, you can tell him as much. You don't get anything for it, but that doesn't make it the "wrong" answer. It's more of a "What did you expect, that he was gonna force you to care?" kind of thing. You didn't care, and you told him you didn't care. Choice, consequence. ;)

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Now I know.  Sacred Path if you're still around I have a question for you that you'd probably be unable to answer.  Why does the "gutter rat" Annah with Tiefling blood have the most beautiful tune of the companions?

You're right, because I don't remember a thing about this.
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@Prime
 
Oh yea no pressure or anything.  I assume i'll be the ideas guy who has to come up with the plan of action to end fighting that's quite literally been going on for hundreds of years.  The last crusade as it were.  I definitely feel like the master tactician around here that I play in Fire Emblem: Awakening.  Well I do know one thing... you'd definitely be a good individual to watch my back.

 

And you know what? Now I get where your "combat XP FTW" party is coming from. BG is extremely grindy. Half the fun is finding tough but just-killable enemies and splatting them to level up -- and you do level up pretty fast that way. There is definite enjoyment to that dynamic. It's like going back to the old days of dungeon-crawling D&D with graph paper and entering a 30 x 30 foot room with an ogre guarding a chest. Nostalgia. I can understand how that would become the definitive, core Infinity Engine experience for you, and how you'd be seriously miffed when it's taken away from you.

 

That's kind of it but it isn't so much nostalgia but rather that feeling of accomplishment. Take, for example, your difficulty dealing with archer groups. If the game designers had simply said you would only get xp for them in groups of x number or that the reward would come later or much later because it was only when you hit whatever that goal was then you might end up saying to yourself "why then?" The decision might seem somewhat arbitrary to you no matter where they placed the "bar." You could, for example, design a very difficult encounter with a dragon only to at the end of it assign no xp and no loot because he's both a destitute and a feeble dragon. It would work for story purposes but it should be an obvious no no for game design. I have seen such in the objective based xp games I have played (not the actual dragon encounter). That might be the reason I asked for ones that did it right.

 

I think there is a possible synthesis to be found between the two styles, though. It could be possible to have enough grindy elements to make that aspect of gameplay appealing; enough tactical fun to make that part worthwhile, and enough story and depth to make the whole thing worthwhile. P:E could very well be that synthesis.

 

I agree. There's certainly a whole bunch of potential for Project:Eternity I think the only thing we want around here is for it to be realized.
 

@Ffordesoon

 

Except Ffordesoon, that encounter with Mourns-for-Trees has absolutely nothing to do with him being a naturalist and everything to do with Dak'kon's response.  For those that have forgotten what Limbo was, it was the formless home plane of the githzerai.  His sword, for example, was made of the "chaos matter" found in Limbo that was essentially only given shape based on his will.  Thus, cities in Limbo only exist due to will.  So when Dak'kon says the trees would be like cities on his home plane he quite literally means that the trees in the Hive would grow based upon the will of the people there (any phrase starting to look familiar to you guys?).  In Sigil, belief is everything but ironically enough that is fundamentally true *here* in real life.  Anyone that tells you that talent will get you somewhere in life is lying to you.  Will is the number one determinant of you getting anywhere in life.  The ability to try and then fail and try again.  There is a certain basketball legend who has

repeatedly in life and it only made him that much stronger.

 

Here in America we have this rather small faction of radio talk show hosts who basically (whether they know it or not) hold close to immeasurable power because their following is colossal.  Generally, they nearly incessantly whine about the country going down the tubes yet fail to actually *do* anything about it aside from talk.  The few times these heavy hitters actually told their base to go do something are the few things (miraculously enough) things actually happened.  They could easily shape where this country is going at almost any time they basically please.  This is the power of will or belief that is held by many.

 

Remember those 5 choices to Mourns-for-Trees dialogue?  Take a second look.  Do they look familiar to you now?

Edited by Razsius
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Whoa that's a long discussion. Which is to be expected.

Felt like adding a few syllables myself.

 

I basically agree with OP, though not as strongly.

At the time BG1 was an amazing game, not anymore. It added many, many elements to RPG's we now take for granted and can't appreciate.

 

And I disagree about D&D systems, 3.x in particular are great for CRPG. Well.. unless you play a spellcaster, but spellcasters suck. Always.

 

And as a final note. Considering how badly BG1 has aged, it's amazing how Fallout 1 that came out the previous year, has maintained it's glory so much better.

Must be the turn based thing that's so forgiving.

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@Jarmo, at least for me the glory of Fallout is in the writing. Fallout's combat is IMO worse than in any of the IE games in fact; if it weren't for the glorious death animations it'd be just about intolerable. And it's not that it's turn-based; in fact I prefer turn-based for isometric party-based stuff. 

 

However the world is quirky, funny, loaded with layers upon layers of satire and commentary and play upon tropes and what have you, and the dialog is mostly nothing short of brilliant. Monty Python meets Beaver Cleaver in the post-apocalyptic wasteland.  

 

The point? Graphics and gameplay systems age, but good writing stays good forever. That's another reason I think PS:T has a real shot at immortality -- the stuff that makes it worthwhile won't be out of date as long as people are able to read. 

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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Oh, and, another interim BG Let's Play report.

 

Now I'm up to level 5-6. I dualed Imoen to mage; she's now T6/M4, meaning still fairly useless although Stinking Cloud and Sleep are handy enough; one more level and she'll get L3 spells, which should make for even more rest-spamming. To fill in until she gets her mad thief skills back I picked up someone who wanted to raid a cave with flesh golems in it. Her banter is getting on my nerves a bit but she's getting those traps cleared nicely enough.

 

Those flesh golems proved good grind material to get Imoen her first few mage levels. Jaheira is unhappy with my leadership, presumably because I'm too much of a goody-goody for her True Neutral druidness. Mowed through the bandit camp leaving behind mostly a bloody smear; no trouble there. Now I'm traipsing around some old ruins full of kobold commandos shooting fire arrows, which is a bit tedious, but perhaps the reward will be worth it.

 

Anndd... it's getting a wee bit monotonous again. Feeling a little stalled. But we'll see where this goes next. There's an ominous Durlag's Tower on my map, perhaps I'll check that out after I clear these ruins.

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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@Jarmo:

 

Care to say more about your reasoning for liking D&D as a cRPG system? Not gonna try to convince you otherwise or anything. I just like to understand opinions that differ from mine.

 

@Raz:

 

No, I understand what you're saying. I'm just pointing out that the conversation with Mourns-For-Trees is an interaction with a character in a cRPG that actually made you think. As you mentioned, it's not a metagame-y, explicitly transactional conversation. It's a quiet, reflective one that doesn't start out seeming like it's going to go anywhere important. But if you pay attention and really think about what's being said, your imagination and your conscience are activated. The conversation moved you, in a very real way.

 

It's not "go here, kill this/get this thing for me, come back." There's no immediate, visceral reward dangled in front of you. It's a guy hoping and praying he can convince you to care about something he cares about, knowing all the while he can't force you to care, or even to listen. How many cRPGs - hell, games - have conversations like that? For all the preening elitist bluster of the cRPG purist ("cRPGs are simply more intellectual than your dudebro twitch action games!"), how many cRPGs actually try to make you think about anything more than which spell to use, and of those, how many succeed? :)

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...that wizard dude that keeps following me around, and so on.

Calling Elminster "that wizard dude" made me rofl and cry at the same time.

 

That said I sort of started my cRPG career with BG2 (I actually played a little bit of BG1 in a cybercafe which convinced me to spend my allowance on BG2 when released, ergo, I finished BG2 years before I did BG1) so it has a special place in my heart.

 

The main thing that set BG2 above (many) later attempts at similar games is the way they combine a rather linear story with enough freedom to actually take a break from said story without it all breaking down into aimless wandering à-la Elder Scrolls ("OOOOOOH SHINY" *clear dungeon* "Right where was I, oh yes, saving the universe from impending doom, let's get back to that... Oooooh, shiny!" repeat ad nauseum). In BG2 each sidequest was again a rather linearly focused well told story in itself, quite often taking you around a few areas as well. It is quite common for sidequests to feel tacked on, tedious, awkward (why the hell am I doing this when I should be doing *main quest objective*?) or an afterthought, I can't say I had that feeling with most of the sidequests in BG2.

 

DA:O got the main quest part nailed down, unfortunately there was only the main quest, the few side quests there were boiled down to picking something up while resolving a main quest. No Windspear Hills or Trademeet-style optional quests. You wanted a break from the main questline? Well, better hope you got another game lying around.

 

Which brings me to a second "issue" I have with many "other" cRPGs: the strict division in "acts", "chapters" or what-have-you. Now my memory might be fuzzy but I don't remember actually getting locked out of any major sidequests in BG2 when you advanced the main story. Firkraag will still be there, there'll still be a blind Beholder in the Sewers and people will still be dissapearing in the Umar Hills. In the vast majority (tbh I don't think I personally know of any exceptions, then again I have only played a limited number of games available) of games out there you better make sure you have rounded up pretty much everything before advancing the main quest, this for me creates a kind of pressure to round up things before progressing that I can't say I think is very positive for the overall experience.

 

This is what I feel is the main thing setting BG2 apart from other games and something that I can't say I've ever seen mentioned elsewhere as a strong point of the game (it obviously has others, and weaknesses, but those have been discussed here and elsewhere over and over already and obviously "de gustibus et coloribus non disputandum est").

Edited by marelooke
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@Prime

 

Oh gods no Prime!  Leave well enough alone with Durlag's Tower.  I wouldn't even *think* about trying to do that place till your characters are ~lvl 8 so... sometime after chapter 4 really.  I could've sworn you had already played Baldur's Gate.  Durlag's Tower can crush you so hard your ancestors and future great grandchildren will feel it.  Which is naturally why I believe it's one of the best mega dungeons ever created.  I always leave there never wanting to step foot in it again.  I so hope Prime sees this before it's too late...

 

Sounds like you're on chapter 4 btw so if wandering around is getting a little old i'd start hitting up Cloakwood.  I really think the game starts picking up from here on out.  Cloakwood's one of my favorite places in the game.

 

@Ffordesoon

 

Great point about game storytelling.

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Damn you Prime and Raz! Now I really want to run through PST or BG. I can't bring myself to break from the MotB playthrough I just started though.

 

BTW, is BGEE worth it?

"I am the expert, asshat." - Hurlshot

"You need to be careful, lest I write another ten page essay on mythology and how it relates to Sailor Moon." - majestic

"I won't say what just in case KaineParker is reading" - Bartimaeus

"Oh no! Is there super secret ending as well? I don’t care." - Wormerine

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Start Icewind Dale. We need variety.

Well they do have an IWD module for NWN2.....would that count? IMO 3/3.5E/Pathfinder rules are much better than 2E(and translate into video games slightly better).

"I am the expert, asshat." - Hurlshot

"You need to be careful, lest I write another ten page essay on mythology and how it relates to Sailor Moon." - majestic

"I won't say what just in case KaineParker is reading" - Bartimaeus

"Oh no! Is there super secret ending as well? I don’t care." - Wormerine

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Start Icewind Dale. We need variety.

Well they do have an IWD module for NWN2.....would that count? IMO 3/3.5E/Pathfinder rules are much better than 2E(and translate into video games slightly better).

It counts, but i cannot understand why someone would prefer to play the game in NWN2 engine instead of IE. Good way to ruin a perfectly good game :p

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It counts, but i cannot understand why someone would prefer to play the game in NWN2 engine instead of IE.

I dislike the 2E ruleset quite a bit.

"I am the expert, asshat." - Hurlshot

"You need to be careful, lest I write another ten page essay on mythology and how it relates to Sailor Moon." - majestic

"I won't say what just in case KaineParker is reading" - Bartimaeus

"Oh no! Is there super secret ending as well? I don’t care." - Wormerine

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Okay, now I've got to go see how hard Durlag's Tower stomps on me. I'm not sure which chapter I'm in, I stopped paying attention to the numbers. Five maybe. That ranger dude started nagging me about the bandits so I wiped them out and got another screenie with some s-l-o-w narration pointing me towards Cloakwood, so naturally I took off in the opposite direction. 

 

Really hating that cramped labyrinth dungeon full of lightning traps and respawning kobold commandos with fire arrows. It's incredibly tedious as the only way not to get my squishy rogue constantly turned into a flaming pincushion is to creep s-l-o-w-l-y along so she'll find the traps before stepping on them, with my fighters close behind to mow down the kobolds when they pop up. That's not hard, it's just excruciatingly slow and tedious. And the cramped corridors play hell with the pathfinding so I have to micromanage the characters to keep them from wandering off across half the maze to end up in the corridor behind the wall.

 

I'll probably just leave and look for something else. 

 

And Raz, no, I hadn't played BG before. I have played BG2 through several times though, but this is not the same game at all, it feels so different it's like it's not even in the same series.

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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That ranger dude started nagging me about the bandits so I wiped them out and got another screenie with some s-l-o-w narration pointing me towards Cloakwood, so naturally I took off in the opposite direction.

Hehehe.

 

"It's IMPERATIVE that you travel east, to the land of... ... what are you doing?"

 

"Hmm? Oh, sorry. Keep talking. I'm gonna go see what's in this cave."

 

"... But I'm telling you how important it is to-"

 

"Yeah, I get that. And I'll get right on that... just as soon as I pillage all these caves."

 

"Oh, all right... it's not really THAT important, I guess. As long as you promise you'll get to it before we're all doomed, u_u..."

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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