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Let's Play Baldur's Gate 2, and reflect on Pillars of Eternity (2)


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Despite a promising start, my first attempt at enjoying BG2 ended in abject failure as I was unable to play Iggy the Inquisitor the way I wanted to, which was also apparently wrong. The reasons for the failure I listed here

 

Not to be daunted, I started another attempt, this time tailoring my build to address at least some of the things that were annoying me, and determined to change some things about my play-style as well. I am going with Badiat the Bad Hmm-Hmm neutral evil elven mage/thief. 

  • She's good at stealth/scouting, which addresses my irritation with that mechanic ("click-and-wait-until-it-bites").
  • She's good at magic and has INT 18, which addresses my irritation with the spell-memorization mechanic. Also, I know from before that magic scales up very well in BG2.
  • She's neutral evil, which means I won't be bellyaching about ethical choices or staying in character, and just do whatever.
  • She's a she, which means I won't get the awkward and cringeworthy flirts from fellow party-members.

Other things I'm resolved to change, or at least try out:

  • Smaller party, to avoid the herding-cats feel of navigating constrained maps with bad pathfinding (and to level up faster, because multiclass)
  • Different party members, to avoid the same quests.

At this point, I'm out of Irenicus' dungeon, where I told Jaheira and Minsc to go fly a kite, and cleared it with Imoen. Didn't fight the cambion because magic resistance and lousy THAC0, but otherwise cleared all the content without much trouble. Rested for 14 days once though LOL. Recruited Korgan from the Copper Coronet, then spoiled myself about where to find Viconia, and recruited her. Korgan glugged one of my speed potions and murdered everyone who needed murdering, so that was easy. Going to attempt Korgan's quest next, with just me and him and Viconia, to stop him from running off on me.

 

I've already leveled up a few times. Will stop by Waukeen's Promenade to pick up some spells, then head off to the tomb.

 

And, Stun, Hiro, and others who think I suck -- I honestly am trying to enjoy this. I believe there's a great game underneat there somewhere and I'm trying hard to dig it out.

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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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If you want to RP NE to the same extremity as you did with LG, it'll be even harder. Extreme NE is: "Can't offer me anything I want, eh? OK, you've wasted a whole minute of my time so I'll hunt you for sport in 3... 2... 1..."

 

Give it a rest already. I was just unhappy that some of the quests were linear and offered no options other than violence or don't do it at all.

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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PrimeJunta, on 11 Jan 2015 - 2:47 PM, said:PrimeJunta, on 11 Jan 2015 - 2:47 PM, said:

 Going to attempt Korgan's quest next, with just me and him and Viconia, to stop him from running off on me.

 

 

Word of advice: Cut it out with worrying about timed quests. 80% of the time it doesn't matter, and the other 20% gives you absurd time allowance.

Your "too much content" problem would disappear if you relax and accept them as they come, doing at any time what quest you feel like it, leaving the others for when the mood strikes you.

Edited by Malekith
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Regarding spell memorization, almost any temple sells potions of genius and potions of mind focusing, these stack and can get your INT up to 24 which gives you 100% chance to learn a spell. I always save up my scrolls and learn them all at once this way. Kind of cheesy I suppose, but whatever it's a rubbish mechanic. 

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PrimeJunta, on 11 Jan 2015 - 2:47 PM, said:

 Going to attempt Korgan's quest next, with just me and him and Viconia, to stop him from running off on me.

 

 

Word of advice: Cut it out with worrying about timed quests. 80% of the time it doesn't matter, and the other 20% gives you absurd time allowance.

Your "too much content" problem would disappear if you relax and accept them as they come, doing at any time what quest you feel like it, leaving the others for when the mood strikes you

 

 

Yeah this, there's like one quest in the underdark much later that has a time limit that might potentially matter, the companion quests give you ages and will warn you before they leave anyway.

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If you want to RP NE to the same extremity as you did with LG, it'll be even harder. Extreme NE is: "Can't offer me anything I want, eh? OK, you've wasted a whole minute of my time so I'll hunt you for sport in 3... 2... 1..."

 

Eh, Neutral Evil isn't really the kind that hunts for sport on principle. But if you RP Neutral Evil strictly, then yeah, there's a lot of quests you shouldn't even consider doing. The principal tenet of Neutral Evil is pretty much selfishness. If there's nothing in it for you, screw it. They don't go out of their way to be evil, but they tend to do evil because it benefits them.

 

Chaotic Evil is the kind that hunts other sentients for sport.

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I was just unhappy that some of the quests were linear and offered no options other than violence or don't do it at all.

Mmm. Technically what you say is true. BG2 isn't the most non-linear game ever made. Outside the main quest you're mostly free to do whatever you wish though. And the main quest... I know there's no time limit but linearity helps to create some air of urgency and inevitability. In contrast with BG1 the situation isn't under your control (it's a recurring theme starting from the rough awakening in Irenicus' dungeon) and you're never really given an opportunity to regain control. You have to deal with it and diplomacy isn't always an option.
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If you want to RP NE to the same extremity as you did with LG, it'll be even harder. Extreme NE is: "Can't offer me anything I want, eh? OK, you've wasted a whole minute of my time so I'll hunt you for sport in 3... 2... 1..."

 

Eh, Neutral Evil isn't really the kind that hunts for sport on principle. But if you RP Neutral Evil strictly, then yeah, there's a lot of quests you shouldn't even consider doing. The principal tenet of Neutral Evil is pretty much selfishness. If there's nothing in it for you, screw it. They don't go out of their way to be evil, but they tend to do evil because it benefits them.

 

Chaotic Evil is the kind that hunts other sentients for sport.

Don't most quests offer a reward? Sounds like a pretty good reason to do anything for another human being: you get paid!

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OK, first interim report.

 

One, I'm having fun again. :thumbsup:

 

Two, the evil options have so far been very well catered to. I got the poisoned man quest again, and took him back, asked for a reward for the "good deed." Got a few pennies, but then when that Xzar guy approached me, it's fairly clear there's an evil path to follow here. Me gusta.

 

However, I was on Korgan's quest, and with my paranoia about timers I was totes beelining it. It was a good quest. There was one seriously good fight in the tomb, which took me a couple of tries to win but was challenging in a good way. This time my spell prep was right out of the box; going into a tomb, I had memorized Negative Plane Protections, summons, various direct damage, a Haste, and a Lesser Restoration, and it was exactly what was needed. I also liked that map a lot -- not too constrained and visually very very cool.

 

I'm liking the gameplay with my mage/thief a lot better too. Sneaking and backstabbing is fun rather than teeth-grating, and I'm feeling my three mean tomb raiders are at least as efficient at mummy-punching as my big emo party from the previous attempt. 

 

Korgan's writing is also less grating than any of the other party-member NPC's so far, even if the Scots thing is laid on a bit thick. I LOLed at some of the insults. 

 

I've also been simply not talking to people to avoid getting overencumbered with quests. I trust both Korgan and Viconia will now stick with me as long as I don't turn into a knight in shining armor. 

 

Taking a breather now before deciding what to do next. Someone on the street offered me a government job, would you believe it?

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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Eh, Neutral Evil isn't really the kind that hunts for sport on principle.

 

...

 

Chaotic Evil is the kind that hunts other sentients for sport.

Nah. Notoriety for the sake of notoriety is NE thing as is backstabbing someone just to make them feel miserable. CE is more about random havok and destruction with not much logic behind it. Extreme CE is: "I'm weary and going to sleep but I still have a fireball memorized so let's set this crowd on fire. Dying screams are the best lullaby." Edited by prodigydancer
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Eh, Neutral Evil isn't really the kind that hunts for sport on principle.

 

...

 

Chaotic Evil is the kind that hunts other sentients for sport.

Nah. Notoriety for the sake of notoriety is NE thing as is backstabbing someone just to make them feel miserable. CE is more about random havok and destruction with not much logic behind it. Extreme CE is: "I'm weary and going to sleep but I still have a fireball memorized so let's set this crowd on fire. Dying screams are the best lullaby."
Evil covers all kinds of characters. You can easily be a hero and be evil just because you don't care who gets hurt. Bad guy holding hostages? Ok blow him up and hostages, if he gets away there will be more dead.
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I've always figured there are two kinds of aligned people: those who are actually ethically committed to their alignment, and those who just are what they are. The paladin is the extreme example of ethically committed. The NE you're describing here would be an ethically committed NE, i.e. a stark staring psychopath. I think a far more common variety of NE is just someone who's selfish, calculating, and constantly looking for an advantage. Not necessarily utterly devoid of empathy or emotion.

 

For example, the poisoned guy offered "his gratitude and that of his friends," which is actually entirely appealing to this type of NE suddenly alone and adrift in a strange and obviously dangerous city -- and after all it's not like taking him somewhere is a huge inconvenience.

 

I read a column a while back by a thrusting business type on how to get ahead. He said "Always buy everybody lunches. They cost practically nothing and people will feel they're in debt to you." That is an extremely Neutral Evil sentiment from where I'm at.

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There was a quite a bit in the other thread (not that it went down very well in certain quarters). I don't want to force it, but I'm fairly certain I'll have things to say about it as I go along. 

 

Of course if you feel C&C is better for this, by all means move it (and change the thread title).

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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...

 

But hey: let's reflect on P:E. Here's another thing that's different between BG2 and P:E -- alignment.

 

We've been talking a quite a bit about how (not) to play a paladin, or a Lawful Good character in general.

 

Now we're talking about Neutral Evil. P:E doesn't have alignment, only reputation and disposition, and the various paladin orders have their ethoi you're supposed to follow. It seems these are being tracked, since there are some talents which let you work around them if you do the "wrong" things.

 

I've always felt ambivalent about alignment in DnD and am in fact not sorry to see it gone in P:E. On the one hand it's constraining and pushes especially less experienced RPG'ers into caricatured Chaotic Evil mwahahaha stereotypes. On the other hand, I really dig the Planes, and the Planes would not work if they weren't aligned to the ethoi. Alignment gives us the Blood War, spells like Protection from Evil, Holy Smite, Unholy Blight, the good DnD3 priests'  spontaneous spell conversion, Turn/Rebuke Undead and so on. It's quite crucial to many mechanics, and greately enriches the multiverse.

 

So, thoughts. No alignment. Gain or loss?

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Bad guy holding hostages? Ok blow him up and hostages, if he gets away there will be more dead.

Rationalization = LE.

 

OK, sorry. I won't do any more derailing here, I promise. I just like D&D alignment system - it's impractical but it's fun. People tend to hate it for some reason though.

Edited by prodigydancer
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Not sorry to see alignment go. Their reputation and disposition system is incline in my books. One thing it does encourage though which could be unfortunate is a bunch of cosmetic replies that do nothing except alter reputation. 

Edited by Sensuki
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...

 

But hey: let's reflect on P:E. Here's another thing that's different between BG2 and P:E -- alignment.

 

We've been talking a quite a bit about how (not) to play a paladin, or a Lawful Good character in general.

 

Now we're talking about Neutral Evil. P:E doesn't have alignment, only reputation and disposition, and the various paladin orders have their ethoi you're supposed to follow. It seems these are being tracked, since there are some talents which let you work around them if you do the "wrong" things.

 

I've always felt ambivalent about alignment in DnD and am in fact not sorry to see it gone in P:E. On the one hand it's constraining and pushes especially less experienced RPG'ers into caricatured Chaotic Evil mwahahaha stereotypes. On the other hand, I really dig the Planes, and the Planes would not work if they weren't aligned to the ethoi. Alignment gives us the Blood War, spells like Protection from Evil, Holy Smite, Unholy Blight, the good DnD3 priests'  spontaneous spell conversion, Turn/Rebuke Undead and so on. It's quite crucial to many mechanics, and greately enriches the multiverse.

 

So, thoughts. No alignment. Gain or loss?

 

I always thought the rationale behind Lawful/Chaotic and Good/Evil interesting. The combinations had very interesting potential. But on the other hand it felt like it made some characters more flat. It's a Chaotic Evil character, everyone beware, there will be no reason whatsoever behind their actions! And if you try to deviate and make the Chaotic Evil character more interesting, you often had to change alignment too. Or sometimes it didn't fit at all. (Like, where would you put Kreia? True Neutral? Chaotic Evil? "We don't really know, she's kinda weird"?)

 

Or the definitions for Neutral characters were always wonky. Do you have to do five bad deeds and five good deeds per day to be Neutral? Does killing someone in self-interest make you evil? Does saving a person just because you like them good? 

 

It just feels like Neutral characters can slip into one or the other cathegory (Good/Evil) way too easily. 

 

Also, justifications for your actions are ultra important in DnD system. It may work in tabletop games, but games like BG won't ask you "geee, did you help that old man because you are nice or because you want to use him later?". It's just decided that you did a good deed, bham, now you are the good guy. 

 

With reputations the system does not work against you. Yes, you may be cruel, but it happens that everyone sees you as a benevolent person. The joke will be on them when you rob them and kill their dog. 

 

Equally a person who defines themselves as fair and good, may actually come across as too cruel. Oh woe, the world does not understand that this witch was evil and needed to be killed. But I shall still bring peace and justice to the world, no matter what others may think of me.

 

Reputations really just add more roleplaying potential and make the world more believable. After all, not everyone will know exactly what kind of person you are just from hear and say.

Edited by Sonntam
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Here's an item description from Icewind Dale 2 that I'm really fond of. A subtitle could be "I was a Dungeon Master for 20 years, and all I got to show for it is this little text I was allowed to write".
 

 

"How To Be An Adventurer"

This ludicrously huge and heavy book - more a compilation of volumes in a single binding than anything else - claims to be an extensive manual on the "the fine art of adventuring." Its many chapters include:

- Henchmen: Loyal Companions or Seedy Pack-Mules?
- Making Your Kit Work for *You*
- 101 Uses for a 10' Pole
- Catapults: Yes, That's as Far as it Shoots
- Getting the Most Out of Your Party's Thief
- Today's Tinderbox - It's Not Just for Lighting Torches Anymore
- Dungeons to Tackle:
   - Stinky Pieter's Halls o' Poorly Guarded Gold
   - The Caves of Soundly Sleeping Monsters
   - Archmage "Loose-Bowels" Wozley the Milksop's Enchanted Item Warehouse
   - The Wooden Citadel of Darmos the Old and Crippled
   - Uncle Fralin's Tool Shed
   - ...and more!
- Dungeons To Avoid Like the Crotch-Rot:
   - The Iron Fortress of Blodax, Devourer of Souls
   - Dominara the Erinyes' Nine-Layered Brothel of Violent Emasculation (No Slaking... or Slating... allowed)
   - The Crimson Hell-Pit of One Billion Miserable Deaths
   - Uncle Fralin's Bedroom
   - ...and more!
- Your Lantern and You
- Twelve Uses for Twelve Iron Spikes
- 99 Uses for That Little Hammer That Comes With Twelve Iron Spikes
- Face It, You're Actually "Neutral Evil"
- The King's Lovely Daughter: Look But Don't Touch
- Don't Put Your Hand in That Dark Hole

...and over eighty more information-packed chapters covering all aspects of adventuring, from hoarding to spell-casting and bold heroics to arse-saving cowardice.

 

Face it, you're actually Neutral Evil -- that line always cracks me up, because it's so true. It's stuck into my mind ever since I've first read it. Most RPG players, be they tabletop or computer players, are very selfish, that's their most defining trait. Any moral scruples come only after their selfishness has been satiated. When it doesn't cost them that much in terms of gains...

 

The alignment system isn't bad, it's good for players who are new to role-playing. Sooner or later, you'll probably turn into an RPG gourmand and the alignment system will start to feel constricting. I dislike only one aspect of it: you're predefined. Such systems are following the thoughts of ancient philosophers, their classification ideas survive even to this day, like the choleric-melancholic-sanguine-phlegmatic system popularized by Hippocrates. Modern psychology showed us that no matter how solid we claim our morals are, we're not unbreakable. Apply enough pressure, and we break. If you want proof, just look at the famous prison experiment, but there are many others. In human behavior, dynamics matters more than statics.

 

Josh explained in interviews that the rep/disp system in PoE has its roots in BG3: The Black Hound's design documents. I'm happy for him and anyone involved with the canceled BG3 project that they got this chance, many years later, to offer a more nuanced alternative to the alignment system. It's too early to pop the champagne, but it looks good. It's more in line with psychology's findings.

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The Seven Blunders/Roots of Violence: Wealth without work. Pleasure without conscience. Knowledge without character. Commerce without morality. Science without humanity. Worship without sacrifice. Politics without principle. (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi)

 

Let's Play the Pools Saga (SSI Gold Box Classics)

Pillows of Enamored Warfare -- The Zen of Nodding

 

 

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