Author Topic: Ascension experiences and (edited)suggestions  (Read 2703 times)

Offline Ako

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Ascension experiences and (edited)suggestions
« on: August 11, 2005, 12:01:34 AM »
I just finished it for the first time and have been playing on insane difficulty for most of TOB. The finale took three tries (ppl got chunked/pc imprisoned) and about 10 reloads to get the 'rest' wish I wanted. I have to say this is by far the best mod I've played thus far, especially the ending has improved SO much! I really encourage everyone that has beaten the game to give it a go.

BIG SPOILERS about TOB+ASC ahead.

First of this is my install
BG2+TOB+Patch
Ease of Use
Item Upgrade
Tactics (UNinstalled more and more components as I went along)
Ascension
Kivan of Shilminstra (sp?)
Baldurdash fixpack (Actually seemed to 'break' more than it fixed)

This was my 15+ run through BG2 and 5th or so through TOB and I restarted about 5 times on my last try, just around finishing the underdark, because i'm a hopeless perfectionist, lol.

This was my (final) party:
PC: female Cavalier named Faith (great name for dialogues btw, especially balthazar's last one sent shivers down my spine -> Without Faith I could never have overcome the dark taint of my blood and be free to forge my own destiny.' IIRC :)
Really good stats, a roll of around 95, as well as Hell and 'the machine of lum the mad' upgrades.
Most used weapons Carsomyr/FlailOA/Answerer/CromF
The Cavalier class was dissapointing I'd have to say. The immunities/initiate abilities can easily be aquired otherwise and Paladin spell casting is no biggie. Yes, armor of Faith is very good but the rest useless if you have a priest. (Draw upon holy might is gained as a good character at the start of Soa and during the pocketplane trials when you have ascension installed, plus the duration is so short (1 turn) that it's mostly useless.) Of all the paladin classes the Inquisitor is probably the one that's SIGNIFICANTLY better than the standard fare Paladin. Undead Hunter is nice too but overrated I think. The important bonus is immunity to lvl drain but after you get the Amulet of Power that is merely a convenience issue, as it eleimates the need to swap it from your Mage to your Paladin and back ocasionally.

NPC's
Sarevok (Good) (Ravager/Gram the Sword of Grief)
Kivan (Gibberlings-3 Mod) (Upgraded Heartseaker)
Hear Dealis (Any good 1 hander+Scarlet ninja to)
Immy
Aerie

This party was quite good but some NPC's dissapointed me while others proved far better than I expected.
I hoped to see the Aerie/Hear Daelis romance unfold but it never happened, probably some script broke.
Aerie sucks, I used to like her but she whines so much and dies so much. And even though I took her along from the start and did everything, she had access to.. :drumroll: 2 level 9 mage spells just before entering the throne and 4 lvl 7 cleric ones. blegh. Hear Daelis was surprisingly good however! I never tried him before and while keeping him alive for the first part of SOA can be a pain (Green Ioun Stone+Girlde of Fortitude help alot), after that he is quite capable of tanking and casting. Although halfway through TOB I had him singing most of the time because he couldn't stand the heat anymore but that enhanced bard song is SO good that I still liked having him along. I used most of his spell slots for buffing himself and others, during TOB it's nice to have him cast maze/energy drain(scroll) because he can get up close and personal without dieing so fast. I also liked his personality a lot. (And it was great to hear him say 'Fate beckons' all the time, get it? hehe)
 
I heard archers were toned down since BG1, and while this is true, Kivan was still a great addition to my party, both personality and gameplay wise. My only problem with this mod is this whole "Deherianna" business, it seemed forced and she was way too weak to add to my party at that point, even after the 1.000.000 exp bonus. So I didn't bother to have her raised and after 10 hours finished improved Irenicus (first time installed) on insane, then after the elven ceremony, Kivan gone! And all of his loot I might add, from then on I started to actually read readme's lol. I solved the problem by reloading, resurrecting her, keeping her safe till TOB and then having her walk up to that big 'Tazok' guy from Illasera's party butt nekkid for a chat with the the fellow, to my delight he chunked her. Not very good roleplaying but I never asked for the annoying wench anyway. All Kivan said was: 'Oh how I mourn for my lost Deherianna' hehe.
But anyway, with that upgraded bow he rocks, especially after you get high level abilities, this is where 'Smite' REALLY shines, I mean there's little merit in knocking someone away when you're hacking them to pieces with Carsomyr and then running after them while your GWW wears off. But it is real usefull to knock enemies (ascension Abizigal comes to mind) away from a safe distance to keep near dead tanks or frail mages alive when someone comes too close.

Sarevok is always good to have. Great personality and best tank around. Plus, his "What if we were to return to Baldur's Gate together,.. what would people say do you think? mua ha HA!" comment alone provides the neccesary humour to TOB.
Imoen is good, not the best, but good. She has an acceptable amount of spells and a nice personality. I usually end up taking her along for her thieving skills, all you need with those upgraded thief gloves.

ASCENSION
Alright, now that that's out of the way I'll babble a little about the actual Ascension mod.
Illasera and Gromnir are still pathetic, as for Illasera; I never bothered much with killing her myself, just sent an improved hasted Planetar after her which can see through her invisibility. The rest is easily killed. Gromnir is funny, he is on to Mellisan but too stupid (and weak) to do anything usefull with that knowlege. The only thing to look out for is one of the guys near the stairs that is capable of inflicting miscast magic on your mages, failed my time stop. It would probably best to keep a tank behind to kill that one quickly.

Yaga Shura dissappears after he notices he's vulnerable which I didn't know about, we ran around the map for a minute or two, figured it was another bug or something and I reloaded and saw him reappear that time. Definitively tougher than normal but still quite doable.
Abizigal however provided a real challenge. He's a lot tougher than Draconis now. (Immy dropped Draconis as soon as her time stop+alacrity ended to my dissapointment.) Abizigal's imprisonment on my pc was especially nasty.
Improved Sendai I still find a whimp, I don't know why some ppl have so much trouble with her. I just had Sarevok and me run around all the statues and kill them and then when the real Sendai popped up in the center had Faith, Sarevok and a Planetar chunk her before she got of anything interesting. Hear Daelis was singing and kivan kept the weaker 4 out of harm.
After Sendai you get the talk to change Sarevok's alignment btw and I did. Too bad I had just forged Carsomyr and Unholy Reaver Together (I know, not very role-playingy again, my bad.) and he could no longer use it. So that, together with my guilt over perverting the holy blade forced me to reload and keep the Heart of the Damned for the sword of Grief instead. One of the coolest items in the game IMO, too bad the point in the game where you get reduces its usefullnes. (Same with upgraded Short Sword of Mask)

Ok on to the best stuff, Balthazar and the Throne of Bhaal.
Having Balthazar be able to join me was something I always felt missing from the original TOB. The dialogue is incredibly well done and the way it is executed gameplay-wise was also excellent. I liked having control over him but still being able to use him with a full party. He could tank better than Faith and Sarevok, even though he dropped few foes he was able to stay alive in front of Melissan for minutes on end. His special abilities also rock, especially stunning Melissan sometimes. His ending dialogue and end text was also superbly done and just what I had hoped for.

I had little idea what to expect from the final fight but knew you can't rest so I had Aerie memorize a Wish spell, although I preferred not to use it because its a bit cheesy. My mages had tons of the standard protections memmorized, at least 6 ruby rays plus the RR Wand. Immy had 4 Horrid Wilting and 4 Bigby's Clasping Hand at lvl8 and 2 Planetars, 2 Spellstrikes and 2 Improved Alacrity's memmorized for lvl 9. No Simulacrum or Project image cheese, even forgot to use Vhailors Helmet, lol.
Hear Dealis was packing a Black Blade of disaster Scroll. After buffing I went in.. Bodhi and Jon pop up and to my horror Immy got charmed and turned into the slayer! As she was standing next to Aerie I decided to kill her ASAP and resurrect her afterwards, hoping she'd be friendly.
But she was irrevocably killed!(I read the best way to deal with her is to maze or ignore her untill she regains herself) I hoped Mellissan would 'give her back later' and decided to fight on. The demons at the pools were laughable, except for the Balors. After I cleared all the pools nothing happened.. I remembered you have to click on them. First one gave me some text which I didn't bother reading (I figured it would said something like 'Melissan can no longer use this essence' in long wording) but when I clicked the second I noticed it said something quite different! Faith got new awesome powers like immunity to time stop and imprisonment! (Focus)
Before clicking on the final pool I decide to resort to wish cheese to get Aerie and Hear Daleis's spells back because Immy was still nowhere to be found and Aerie didn't have any Ruby Rays and such memorized. After 10 reloads I was ready to go.

I recasted protections that had ran of, 4 Mordy's Swords and a Planetar and clicked on the last pool. Melissan summoned the five and retreated.
I focused my main assault on Abizigal to get the dragon to pop out and deal with it. Taking him out took quite a while (he is IMO the toughest one) and the Mordy's Swords (3) I sent to him to keep him busy died fast. He hits for about 60 magic? damage on this difficulty AND has protections on.
After he died no dragon appeared, rather a pissed off priestess with a big double bladed staff, which was both a relief and a pain, lol.
It got quickly out of hand with time stops by her and sendai and a horde of summoned demons and Fallen Solars(!). So I reloaded to after the wish rest.
This time I focused on killing the weaker bhaalspawn quickly (Gromnir, Illasera) then Abizigal. Kivan was very usefull at this point with the smite ability to keep them where I wanted them and stun and confuse(<--bow) them. Sendai and Yaga Shura proved very hard to damage at all so I had a Deva (Planatar Died) keep Sendai busy and had Haer Daelis Maze Yaga Shura. Big lumbering oaf like him stays away for a VERY long time.
I read that he's quite vulnerable to magic though so I guess a few Horrid Wiltings can do it. I ended up GWW him to death with Faith and FoA equipped (elemental damage) while Sarevok Drained him with GtSoG.
Whenever Fallen Planetars appear try to GWW them to death ASAP! They are the most annoying scum I've encountered (great scripting!!) They have the nasty habbid of going after mages and other weaklings, which is not so hard to deal with in itself, but they have bows! Bows that do over 40/50 damage per hit! (Insane Diff.) The most important thing in this battle is to try and not let it get out of hand. Don't get swarmed and try to have more green than red circles on the map. Each time you kill a bhaalspawn it weakens Mellissan and when they're all dead you can kill her. Easily. Aerie's Energy Blades did around 50 damage per round while Sarevok, PC and Balthazar hacked at her. She did little but whine.
Something strange, nasty and funny that happened during the battle was that someone imprisoned Sarevok in the middle of the fight (probably Abizigal), luckily I had prepared for this possibility by buying all the usefull scrolls at the spell shop in Amkethran, including both Freedom Scrolls. So I had Aerie take out the scrolls and cast one (took forever) to my surprise he returned with a blue circle (makes sense I guess) right in front of Mellisan! He started hacking away at her immediately ROFL, now that's what I call a loyal NPC! I had Faith run halfway across the map for a nice chat right in front of Mellissan(!) to get him back in and re-equip the Ring of Gaxx which showed up in my inventory when he was imprisoned. (Quite ironical when you think about it, he took 3/4 of his gear with him but not the ring from a Demi Lich that casts imprisonment every damn round.)

ASCENSION CONCLUSION
All in all the ending felt like a mini-game inside a game, seriously that's how good it is! I didn't eat or pee for 8 hours straight, glued to my monitor. Playing this gave me a big kick and a feeling of having finally experienced the deeply satisfying ending the baldur's gate series deserved all along. This mod puts your abilities to the test and presents you with questions like: How much did you learn while playing through the saga; have you been paying real close attention to the spell descriptions and feedback window for instance? The gameplay can best be described as action RPG on steriods with great roleplay and dialogue to boot!
David Gaider and Weidu: thank you!

SUGGESTIONS
On the finale:
- On insane and hard difficulty I think it would be a nice idea to disable saving. Right now you can save between the pools and before clicking on the final one. This makes it less hard and makes saving spells and charges and such less neccesary. It would also prevent wish cheese a bit. The solar could explain to the player that the gods won't interfere in the oncoming battle so you will have to do without mystra's luck. (Save/Load) This could be implemented by disabling the save/load button if that is even possible or by having something hostile on the map perhaps or a permanent cloud spell somewhere like cloudkill.
-The Focus ability is perhaps the coolest addition but it is hard to time it right, reducing some of the fun of it. Maybe add a line floating text over Mellisan's head saying "You sense Mellisan is trying to influence the flow of time" one round before she casts time stop. Still hard to spot in the heat of battle but a nice minor addition I feel.
-Sendai's AI in the final battle is poor IMO. She was never a real threat, hard to take down yes, but that's it. Her time stops usually go of in some remote corner of the map and she likes targeting summons with spells. Having her ignore summons more and stop fiddling with her onyx ring like an obsessive-compulsive(no offense) would be essential improvements I say.
Also when she dies, have her drop her ring as well which can be used like an item special ability that can be used once per 3 rounds FI. It is only wearable by bhaalspawn as it needs their essence to function. (PC/Immy) This would also free up the special bhaalspawn ability teleport which sounds cool but is dissapointing and makes going after Sendai earlier more interesting. Replace the ablility with anything cool you can come up with or leave it out. (IIRC you gain four powers now, Focus, Control Demon, the energy bolt and the teleport, while there are only three pools so losing teleport would be ok and is what I suggest.
-Control Demon is a cool ability but the name has no flavour, I suggest renaming it to "Infernal Influence" or something similar.

Suggested improvement for the improved five component:

On hard or insane difficulty disable resting in the area where Illasera pops up. If I remember correctly you start fully rested, this would make it more important which spells you select for the final hell battle(if you play through SOA-TOB seamlessly), as these will also be the ones you'll be stuck with against her. The best way to do this would be to have the stone heads initiate dialog immediately upon arrival as well so you have only a short time to prepare.

-I know Gromnir is not a member of the five but he falls too fast too tanks. I suggest making him hit harder or have more hitpoints and HLA's. Other than that the battle is fine.

The fight with Yaga Shura himself was actually very well done. But his army and the Fire Giants are too weak. I have tried the improved fire giants mod that is around but that is WAY too much. they cast a chain of non stop lower fire resistance and have initiate Meteor swarms to REALLY abuse that. What I'm thinking about is increase their HP by roughly 50%. His army itself could be smarter, tougher and more numerical. The easiest strategy for this map is still to immediately buff upon entering, fight to the bridge and guard both ends with summons and let the army come to you while the party stands in the middle safely. To disable this I suggest putting a tough fire Giant general on the bridge with 2-4 fire giants. (makes sense to guard the bridge with an ACTUAL guard to protect the siege camp from attempts to destroy it.) While battling the general the army comes rushing in, lead by Yaga Shura from the western end of the bridge. When you hit him and he leaves to come back with his reinforcements have him reappear at the Eastern end of the bridge after a minute or so. This would force you to fight a realistic TACTICAL battle on both ends of the bridge simultanuously for control over it and enhance the feeling that you are really trying to breake a siege. (although too late)

-Abizigal's loot could be better. Gram the sword of Grief(upgraded) is one of the coolest items in the game, but you get it soo late, real pity. Perhaps Abizigal could drop the upgraded version instead so it would be interesting to kill him before killing sendai. It would also be a nice improvement to his human form, leveldraining your fighters w/o protections.
The heart of the damned can then be used to either upgrade the Shortsword of Mask or combine Reaver&Carsomyr with IU installed. Also, the armour that can be forged from his scales is not good enough, it is strictly worse than the white dragon chain(doesn't disable stealth), Yaga Shura's Plate and the armour that can be bought from the smugglers. (AC of armour of the Hart is better too) It should be at least AC-2 and perhaps have another minor improvent as well.
These improvements would be justified because the battle is a lot harder.

-Sendai is still too weak for my taste, perhaps the 'real her' that appears after all the satues are destroyed could use the portal to flee to the surface immediately. (have the portal appear after the last staue is destroyed instead of after she is finally killed)
The player can then choose to follow her immediately through the portal which she will trap from above with a remove magic trap, or if you're feeling really mean add some damage on top of that. Or take the long way back to the surface which gives her time to buff and summon adequately. Realistic and more difficult! The armour she drops (Leather of Thorns) sucks, it is worse than the white dragon scales and the grandmaster armor(can be used with gargoyle boots FI) that one of Gromnirs lackeys drops. Sendai is supposed to be really powerfull and her armor should reflect that. I suggest at least improving the armour class or the backlash ability.

Miscellaneous stuff:
- Sarevok - Is there really no way to give him back the animation he used in bg, it worked fine then. I mean for the whole of TOB btw. And while you're at it why not give him back his sword and armor too? :) Nothing overpowered, just comparable too TOB gear. The current upgrade for his sword is too weak, it is obsolete as soon as you give it too him. (Extra dissapointment after carrying it through whole of Soa.)

Ok that's all for now, hope you enjoyed reading, g'night.





 
« Last Edit: August 11, 2005, 11:28:20 AM by Ako »

 

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