The GWJ CRPG Club - Game 7: Baldur's Gate (In Progress)

beanman101283 wrote:

Well I went through the tutorial and learned what the buttons do. No real idea how I should plan to build my party, or what the difference between multi-class and dual-class is, or anything else really, but I'm probably going to play it on Story mode and try not to stress about it.

I find so much of AD&D 2E confusing, and I played Baldur's Gate back in the day! I can only imagine how weird it would be for someone who didn't.

I'll try to break down multi- and dual-classing, in as straightforward a manner as I can.

Multi-classing:

  • Who can multi-class? Any non-human character.
  • How do I multi-class? This is an option that must be selected, for the character, at the very beginning of the game.
  • What happens if I multi-class? The character is, essentially, trying to progress in two classes at the same time. My protagonist, for instance, is a Fighter / Mage. His share of XP is split evenly between the two classes. So, with a full party of six, each of his classes gains 1/12 share of the total XP that the party earns. As a result, he levels very slowly. In exchange, he gets most of the benefits of each class. He can become proficient (one pip) in any weapon that fighters can use, and even specialize (two pips) in those weapons. He can use the different fighting styles. He gains extra attacks per round, as would a fighter. He uses the fighter's THAC0 (odds to hit), which is much better than the mage's. He can benefit from the strength bonuses available to fighters. And, he gets the mage's spell book, spell slots, and the ability to use arcane spell scrolls and any other mage-only items. He also takes the average of the HP he would gain as a fighter, and the HP he would gain as a mage, making him quite a bit less squishy than a mage.
  • Other than the division of XP, are there any restrictions or drawbacks? Yep. Multi-class characters can't use any of the class "kits" that let you customize the class further (except gnomes, weirdly, who are always illusionist wizards). Weapons and armor can be a problem. A fighter / cleric still can't use bladed weapons, because the gods disfavor that. Fighter / rogues have their rogue skills disabled if they wear heavy armor. Fighter / mages have their magic disabled if they wear any armor at all. There are also some racial restrictions: elves can't be fighter / clerics, for instance, because (I guess) fantasy racism.

Dual-classing:

  • Who can dual-class? Humans only.
  • How do I dual-class? At any time, you can go into the character record (the page that shows all your stats). For humans, there is a button that will allow you to dual-class. You also have to have certain minimum skills: I think you need 15 or higher in the main skill for your starting class (like Strength for a fighter) and 17 or higher in the main skill for your new class (like Intelligence for a mage).
  • What happens if I dual-class? Your character has to pick a new class -- and on the spot, that character starts over, in that class, at level 1. I think you retain your HP, but you lose access to any spells, skills, weapon proficiencies, etc., until the level of your new class exceeds the level of your old class. Then, all of a sudden, you remember how to use swords again!
  • Why would anyone want to do this? Two reasons. First, after a while, some classes (fighters and rogues) see less marginal benefit at high levels. Second, some class "kits" go really well with dual-classing. For instance, the Kensai (Fighter) / Mage combo is really popular because the Kensai is a glass cannon who gets extra combat prowess but can't wear armor, helmets, or bracers. Those pair well with mages, who can't wear armor anyway, and who have shielding spells that can provide a similar benefit.

After a few days away last week, I've gone down the rabbit hole playing this game. I've got my party up to level 6 (I think with a couple on cusp of 7) and have done basically everything through to (and including) the Cloakwood. I'm now pressing through Durlag's tower (which is providing a genuine test) before heading to BG proper. Although the writing shows at a lot of points, I'm truly enjoying the flavor that some of the mods offer, such as Chatty Imoen and the NPC mod. It makes it all feel just a little bit more alive and more akin to BG2.

Speaking of, just generally, I'm kind of amazed at how much fun I'm having with the game. I know the old D&D ruleset is crusty, but I actually kind of prefer some aspects of it to modern RPGs, like the slowness of leveling. It feels more consequential despite having fewer decisions to make, and I don't miss the constant ding of a meaningless level gain that's become the norm in many other games. And the painted maps remain beautiful, and combined with the environmental bits (birds chirping, rain dropping, squirrels running around), they create a wonderful sense of place in the world that I think many more modern games could learn from.

I was worried in voting for this one that I'd burn out on it early, as I did DA:O, but I'm feeling increasingly like I'll be able to see this one through to the end.

Been picking away at bg2. Turns out changing from a solo run to a ‘solo with cleric’ run was a good idea...I forgot just how prevalent level drain was in the sequel!

Since realizing my kensai/mage scheme wasn't feasible til higher levels I moved on to BG 2 too. Tonight I've been helping out Drew Barrymore Nalia with her family's troll woes.

For some reason the D&D games lend themselves so well to 3/4 perspective overhead gaming, moreso than Pillars. Maybe it's the sense I'm playing a pencil & paper module, with figurines moving around the map.

Running Man wrote:

Maybe it's the sense I'm playing a pencil & paper module, with figurines moving around the map.

That's another small touch that's stood out. The narration between chapters has that wonderful DM narrating to the group quality about it. I don't know who did the VO for it, but it fits right in there (cue metaphor about putting on comfortable old slippers).

ubrakto wrote:

And the painted maps remain beautiful, and combined with the environmental bits (birds chirping, rain dropping, squirrels running around), they create a wonderful sense of place in the world that I think many more modern games could learn from.

Particularly with the outdoor maps there's something about even the sparsest areas that remain wonderful to look at. It's hard to pin down exactly what's so perfect about it but even finding something mechanically meaningless like a little brook with pebbles around the shore feels special. I can't remember much of anything from PoE but can easily recall many small landmarks from around the Sword Coast.

ubrakto wrote:

Speaking of, just generally, I'm kind of amazed at how much fun I'm having with the game. I know the old D&D ruleset is crusty, but I actually kind of prefer some aspects of it to modern RPGs, like the slowness of leveling. It feels more consequential despite having fewer decisions to make, and I don't miss the constant ding of a meaningless level gain that's become the norm in many other games. And the painted maps remain beautiful, and combined with the environmental bits (birds chirping, rain dropping, squirrels running around), they create a wonderful sense of place in the world that I think many more modern games could learn from.

These are the qualities that see it remain one of my favourite experiences. I recall many areas due to the care and detail in the artistic choices. I love the ambient sounds of the birds and the rain.

Running Man wrote:

Since realizing my kensai/mage scheme wasn't feasible til higher levels I moved on to BG 2 too. Tonight I've been helping out Drew Barrymore Nalia with her family's troll woes.

For some reason the D&D games lend themselves so well to 3/4 perspective overhead gaming, moreso than Pillars. Maybe it's the sense I'm playing a pencil & paper module, with figurines moving around the map.

It's been way more than a New York minute since my last go round (and I hear that EE ported all the kits back to 1), but would Kensai/rogue, perhaps, be more viable in original BG? I seem to recall that combo being a relative powerhouse too, in either BG 1 or 2.

Are we talking just in PoE1, or PoE2 also? PoE1 was just kind of.. bland environment-wise. Then again, I'm probably bias as I liked the vertical feeling of the Neketaka hub in 2. Either way, really looking forward to how Larian handles this in BG3. I had my issues with D:OS 1 over D:OS2, but they both seemed to do big town environments well -- and 2 had some really nice countryside area design.

Recreational Villain wrote:

It's been way more than a New York minute since my last go round (and I hear that EE ported all the kits back to 1), but would Kensai/rogue, perhaps, be more viable in original BG? I seem to recall that combo being a relative powerhouse too, in either BG 1 or 2.

The issue with most dual-class combos in BG1 is that the exp cap is just so low. It's very hard to both a) get the first class up to a level where it sees meaningful benefits and b) still have enough exp left to get the second class above the first class's level.

Dualclassing is much more viable in BG2.

^ Ah! that makes sense too. I was parsing the comment as, specifically, along the lines of not enough room for impactful [half] mage growth.

not when you mod out the level cap!

Okay, I got side-tracked by a real life basement flood, but that's all sorted out now and I should be back to this tonight.

I'm debating starting over, because I've been away from it for a couple of week and feels like there might be some decisions I'd do differently. I was only 6-8 hours in.

Math wrote:
Recreational Villain wrote:

It's been way more than a New York minute since my last go round (and I hear that EE ported all the kits back to 1), but would Kensai/rogue, perhaps, be more viable in original BG? I seem to recall that combo being a relative powerhouse too, in either BG 1 or 2.

The issue with most dual-class combos in BG1 is that the exp cap is just so low. It's very hard to both a) get the first class up to a level where it sees meaningful benefits and b) still have enough exp left to get the second class above the first class's level.

Dualclassing is much more viable in BG2.

Yes, this exactly. I did a little "math" and determined my kensai would have to dual class to mage at level 8 -not the optimal 9- if he was going to reach level 9 in mage before the exp cap. The idea of being a fully functional dual class only near the end of the game was a bit of a bummer.

making some decent progress. Nashkel mines done, gnoll stronghold is out of the way. Running with Jaheira, Khalid, Imoen, Minsc n boo and Dynaheir.

I went back to Nashkel mines to explore the outside and ran into Prism.

Spoiler:

I let him finish his sculpture, killing Greywolf to protect him. I left the emeralds, then later got the quest to return the emeralds for a big reward..., now I'm torn between conscience and substance.

I’m finding there are actually a lot of things about the old 2E rule system that don’t bother me. THAC0, for instance: though kind of dumb, I don’t mind it. But this game is drawing attention to a few things that I don’t miss from this era of game:

1) How fragile level 1 characters are.
2) Healing 1 HP when you rest, which requires you to use all your healing spells (and then, maybe, to rest again).
3) How hard a time most level 1 characters had at hitting enemies. I roll my eyes whenever my guys charge up to a group of kobolds, and then everybody misses for a few hits.
4) Mages who use a crummy physical attack as their default. I feel like once Dragon Age gave mages a weak, basic ranged attack, NO ONE went back.

I think we all also need to appreciate the slowburn of the story and how it unravels as you play. When I play Baldur's Gate 1, I feel like I'm embarking on an adventure. Not other games I've played have been able to achieve this, but somehow it does. And as you explore the world, you begin to unravel the conspiracy that is engulfing the Sword Coast in a really organic way. It is also a pretty interesting story.

Toss in some mods that improve the game's rough edges and add party banter and you've got a game that will forever be in the top 10 CRPGs there are.

So, finished Arcanum, pondering what modern marvel of a game I could play next. Battletech? Druidstone? Back the loneliness of Space and Elite Dangerous?

Baldur’s Gate it is then. Reckon I last played this well over a decade ago - probably closer to 15 years back. Should be an experience!

BoogtehWoog wrote:

I think we all also need to appreciate the slowburn of the story and how it unravels as you play. When I play Baldur's Gate 1, I feel like I'm embarking on an adventure. Not other games I've played have been able to achieve this, but somehow it does. And as you explore the world, you begin to unravel the conspiracy that is engulfing the Sword Coast in a really organic way. It is also a pretty interesting story.

Toss in some mods that improve the game's rough edges and add party banter and you've got a game that will forever be in the top 10 CRPGs there are.

Endorsed. For whatever reason, in a time where few games are holding my attention at all, the pacing and general mood for this game are really working together to hold my attention.

Sorbicol wrote:

So, finished Arcanum, pondering what modern marvel of a game I could play next. Battletech? Druidstone? Back the loneliness of Space and Elite Dangerous?

Baldur’s Gate it is then. Reckon I last played this well over a decade ago - probably closer to 15 years back. Should be an experience!

My memory of this game is best described as: very very vague. I've got a rough idea of some of it, next to nothing of most of it. I'm quite grateful all the EE stuff seems to be flagged. At least so far.

I'm playing as an Elven Archer, just picked up Jaheria and Khalid at the Friendly arms. I'm allowing Zhar and Montaron to join us until they they can be replaced. This is likely to be a "cannon" playthrough, purely on the basis it's been so long since I last played it i can hardly remember.

Currently at my favorite BG2 location...

Spoiler:

The Planar sphere, interacting with Knights of Solamnia, Cannibal Halflings from Dark Sun and with a brief stop off in the Nine Hells

And since my character is a mage... I shall make it MINE!
I'm also now wearing a Robe of Vecna, which quadruples my casting speed for spells and is...A-MAZING, but pretty much wiped out all my current gold I need for a rescue mission. OH WELL *shrug emoji*

Imoen can wait! She isn't going anywhere. Also, if she can't understand your need to fling spells FASTER, then is she really worth rescuing? I say nay.

Sorbicol wrote:

My memory of this game is best described as: very very vague. I've got a rough idea of some of it, next to nothing of most of it. I'm quite grateful all the EE stuff seems to be flagged. At least so far.

Yeah, it is incredibly easy to identify what is original and what is EE. The EE stuff sticks out like a sore thumb. Thankfully, there isn't much of it and it can be safely ignored.

BoogtehWoog wrote:
Sorbicol wrote:

My memory of this game is best described as: very very vague. I've got a rough idea of some of it, next to nothing of most of it. I'm quite grateful all the EE stuff seems to be flagged. At least so far.

Yeah, it is incredibly easy to identify what is original and what is EE. The EE stuff sticks out like a sore thumb. Thankfully, there isn't much of it and it can be safely ignored.

It's so true. I'd have appreciated finding new party members in out of the way places, not just placed in the most obvious path so they can't be missed.

Finished the TOSC content. Almost tapped out in Durlag's Tower on the 3rd level. I think this is the second time I've gotten through it. Probably will be the last. The payoff is really good but not worth the slog IMO.

Back to Baldur's Gate to finish a couple of things and then onward. Hoping to finish this weekend.

My party is up to level 6 and is on to chapter 5. Started roaming around Baldur's gate proper, just unlocked all the travel areas, didn't really have it in me to explore the city. I might be at the point where I'm going to use a walk through.

tboon wrote:

Finished the TOSC content. Almost tapped out in Durlag's Tower on the 3rd level. I think this is the second time I've gotten through it. Probably will be the last. The payoff is really good but not worth the slog IMO.

Back to Baldur's Gate to finish a couple of things and then onward. Hoping to finish this weekend.

I tapped out on Durlag's after completing the second level. My party was run down and overloaded with loot. Originally my intent was to go sell off, rest up, etc. and then go back, but ended opting to just go to Baldur's Gate instead. Not sure if I'll go back and complete the tower or not.

Question:

Spoiler:

Do you need all those rune stones you collect on level 2 once you've opened up the way to level 3?

ubrakto wrote:

Question:

Spoiler:

Do you need all those rune stones you collect on level 2 once you've opened up the way to level 3?

Spoiler:

No, I dropped mine after shortly after getting to the third level

Dunno if anyone else follows Shamus Young, but Bob Case (aka MrBtongue, a contributor on Shamus's blog) seems to be starting a long-form analysis/LP of Baldur's Gate.

https://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=47570

Got a little bit further in this today. After making it to level 2 of the Nashkel mines, I decided to take a detour and level a bit; I also decided that Kagain, though tough, did not have the offensive firepower I was looking for. It was time to GO FOR THE EYES, BOO!

So, I just finished rescuing Dynaheir, and I ended up booting Neera out of my party to bring in my new mage. Dynaheir actually has a decent constitution and starts with proficiency in slings, so I feel like this was a solid trade up!

The gnoll fort was a wonderfully twisty and turny map, and it was fun exploring all the caves. One of the few things that I actually remembered about the fort, from my original play through about 18-19 years ago (wow!), was that it contained one of those permanent stat-boosting tomes. I was thrilled to stumble across that again. I also enjoyed, but was frustrated by, some bad iron: both Minsc and my MC had their swords break during or shortly before the battle with the gnoll chieftain in front of Dynaheir's prison. Minsc, in particular, was just throwing haymakers and doing non-lethal damage all over the place.

LastSurprise wrote:

The gnoll fort was a wonderfully twisty and turny map, and it was fun exploring all the caves.

It is such a great area. I loved that twisty turny nature as it created a vastness to uncover. There are also so many Gnolls. Stronghold indeed! What a rush it was.