Author Topic: My run with the NPC project  (Read 3642 times)

Offline Kneller

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My run with the NPC project
« on: December 30, 2015, 10:12:15 PM »
I decided to take another run through IWD for my xmas holiday. I was starting a run through BG2, but with the whole HLA, timestop, vorpal uber cheesiness, I got bored. I've actually yet to finish that game because of all that nonsense, but that's another story.

I discovered the NPC mod recently and decided to use that. Out of all the IE games, I've always liked IWD best in terms of gameplay. It's much more "toned-down" in terms of power levels, even when you get to the higher levels. However, as we all know, the vanilla game lacks a little depth. I'm still in the early stages (Vale of Shadows, level 4ish), but this mod really breathes some life into to this game. Really, this warrants emphasizing. A lot of mods just add some fun little tweaks, or maybe a side quest here and there, but this makes it feel like a different game. I can identify with my protagonist, while also enjoying the other characters. The characters are invested, and that's great.

So, kudos to the devs for making it. Overall, it's a great mod that I would recommend to anyone.

What I'm about to say next is going to sound like criticism at first, but it really isn't. Side note, I did use Dalekeeper to adjust some proficiencies to make it work a little better for me. Someone in another thread said that Dalekeeper didn't work for them, but it's working fine for me. I'm playing the GoG version, if that matters.

Now, not to be all backhanded-compliment-like, but there was something I wanted to point out. For the mod to function properly, the main has to stay in the first slot. In effect, unless you really want to fiddle with formations and movement (which I don't), your main has to be a good front liner. What would be a good front liner? Well, a paladin is an obvious choice, but there's already one in the party. This isn't that big of a deal. Pale justice aside, you can have two paladins. There are plenty of other good weapons in the game. Besides, I wouldn't want Holvir on the front lines. With his mediocre dex, he's just begging to be a punching bag.

Additionally, there are three things this party doesn't have from the get go. A cleric, a mage, and a druid. Obviously, Nella was made for dualing. Her character just screams druid, though cleric is an option. I agonized over this for a bit. I really wanted a single (or dual) classed cleric in this game with all the undead. However, it was obvious from her dialogue that she was born to be a druid. So, yeah, that's the direction I went there. As for the mage, because Nella went druid, her and the bard can cover that role pretty well. That just leaves me short a cleric.

I started a game as a fighter that I was going to dual over to a cleric at level 3. However, the problem with having a cleric on point is that your healer and resurrector  is going to be the first to get the stuffing knocked out of him. That is unless you really want to micromanage party movement across the map. No thanks.

I restarted as a dex-based paladin. Actually, I got a pretty decent roll right from the start so he's no slouch in Str/Con department either. He's my sword-and-shield wielding front man. Holvir is behind him with two handers. Korin is interesting. He's easily my best archer, but he is also my best striker with getting an extra attack with one-handed weapons. I should probably have him in heavier armor, but I'm frequently keeping him in leathers so he can scout for me (I don't like to cheese and armor switch in the middle of things). Nella took ** in clubs and *** in missiles before dualing to a druid. I figured missiles because she'll be better off in the back with slings and darts in between spells. The bard is the bard. He's going to function as my mage. With how much faster he levels, he's not going to trail behind an actual mage too much, but being a higher level, his buffs will have a longer duration and he'll cap out on damaging spells sooner (or just do more damage if there is no cap). No, he's no mage, but he's no slouch either. Finally, Teri, my fighter/thief. The only odd thing about her is that her dialogue paints her as a swashbuckler, but I'm getting way more use out of her as an archer (and trap monkey, of course).

All in all, this is a first for me. I've never played an IE D&D game (or PnP for that matter), without a cleric and a mage, and here I am running without either. It's odd, but it's working, and I like the party. They feel more like people than your typical fighter, mage, cleric, thief stereotypes.

And here's why I don't mean this all critically:

1) I really appreciate having NPCs with personalities in this game. It fills a void this game desperately needed filled to make it more than a gauntlet of combat. To be honest, and I've really tried, but I just don't like BG2. It's too hokey, and trite, and just over the top at times. These NPCs are more "human" and relatable than anything from BG2. Honestly, good writing is hard to come by in video games.

2) This mod made me give bards a chance. I've never liked them before, but I really respect them now. For a relatively low-magic game like IWD, bards are pretty solid. Your mages in most games generally aren't slinging spells all the time and have nothing useful to do in between. With the bard, I can sing and provide better ranged support (but he is probably better off singing unless using Tenser's). Even though he has fewer spells, he's better able to spread them out and still be viable. And, he can pickpocket, which has come in handy all of three times in this game. :P

If I were to critique this mod, I'd be tempted to say that I wished the mod content all fit into 3 NPCs so I could run with a party of 4 and hit higher levels by the end of the game. However, each character really made their own contribution and I wouldn't want to run without them.

But I am going to critique one or two things. In terms of the party's functional dynamics, Holvir was kind of a bum. You can use him as a bruiser, but god forbid be pulls any aggro. The most minor change that could be made that would have the most benefit for the party was if his character was actually a cleric (of Tyr, if one would like to run with that storyline) with a Str/Dex/Con in the 15-16 area. This way he could be a back up tank and then have some fun with DUHM at higher levels. I was tempted to edit him in Dalekeeper, but I haven't finished yet and I wasn't sure how changing him from a paladin to a cleric would jive with his future narrative.

The other thing is that I would have worked in some more of the other races. I believe it's three humans, and elf, and a half-elf? Where's the shorty love? In fact, if you were to make a shorty NPC mod (new characters with their own motivations), it would give me a reason to make yet another run through this game *hint hint*. :D

But hey, no big deal. As far as I'm concerned this dev did better than most professional game designers. The only thing this mod takes away from the game is my desire to create my own custom party. Why would anyone want to create their own mute companions when they could run with characters that makes a dungeon crawl feel like a story?

Offline Kulyok

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Re: My run with the NPC project
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2015, 11:07:15 AM »
Thank you very much both for the kind words and for the detailed review. It's New Year's Eve, so a very Happy New Year to you!

I just want to repeat what I often say - if you feel like an edit with Dalekeeper helps, please, feel free to do it for your game. I've provided a few "alternative" classes, but really, if the gameplay suffers, I don't think you should limit yourself in any way. Severn being a bard/Holvir being a paladin is an important part of their life story, but it's also a game, which is supposed to be entertaining and perhaps challenging to the degree where it still remains enjoyable.

Again, thank you so much, and I'll give this post another read, when I'm back from the holidays.

Offline Kneller

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Re: My run with the NPC project
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2016, 01:45:21 PM »
That's the thing. I wouldn't dalekeep Holvir to a Cleric because of his story. It would just be weird and break immersion. And that's what makes the mod great. I'd rather play with this party and get the personalities then one I completely build myself that would be more optimized, but devoid of any depth.

I think a large part of why Holvir (or characters like him) are bums are largely due to how 2e D&D rules worked. The stat that makes you a good archer is also the stat that boosts your AC and makes you a good tank. So if you have someone who has rubbish dex and isn't a spellcaster, they're going to be pretty mediocre at anything. Meanwhile being a hulking two-handed sword wielding bruiser doesn't have an advantage over a sword and a shield. You're looking at 1d10 vs. 1d8 or 2d4. Big deal. Maybe if the strength damage bonus was doubled for two-handers it would be a thing, but I don't even think the IE engine does the 1.5x multiplier that PnP does (maybe that's 3e, though). I got Kresselack's 2h sword at the exact same time I got a +1 phasing bastard sword. That latter loses 1 point of damage on average and Holvir can use a shield on top of it. Very disappointing.

With IWD, figure the best two-hander in the game is probably the Static Two Handed Sword +4, 11.5 damage on average with a 25% chance of stun. With one handers (nevermind Pale Justice, other weapons are arguably better than it), there's Bhaal's Fire (12.5 average damage, 15% chance of stun), LS of Action (8.5 average damage, but +1 Attack/round), Restored/Singing Blade of Ainohen (10.5 average damage, bonus HP and resistances) and on top of that you can use a shield for more bonuses (you can easily get 3-4 AC from a decent enchanted shield).

But I digress. All that being said, I still have Holvir on two-handers. This is largely for theme. Truth is, he's not in melee much, but instead in the back with a bow. Dex is more important for a tank (up to 4 AC) than an archer (up to +2 to hit). For the most part, he just sits in back with a bow. I'll send him in a second wave occasionally if the front line needs support. When he is in melee, the hope is the two handers will give him some reach and hopefully not draw much, if any, aggro. However, he is definitely my least useful party member.


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Re: My run with the NPC project
« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2016, 05:12:12 PM »
In response to the formation issue, in case other people ever read this and think they have to have a front liner in the main slot. This is not the case, I realized that the party already had enough front liners in it and decided to make a sorcerer. Then I ran into the same problem... How am I going to make this work in formation if my 1st slot has to be a sorcerer. This is what I did:

I used the triangle formation. The party leader is at the back and in the middle, so in other words is the most protected person in the formation. So if you make your order of characters:

1. Protagonist (For me I chose Sorcerer)
2. Holvin (I used Undead Hunter)
3. Nella (I used Fighter/druid)
4. Korin (I used Cleric/Ranger)
5. Severn (Bard)
6. Teri (Mage/Thief)

Then you end up with the formation like this:


                     Nella                     Korin

        Severn           Protagonist              Teri

So far it has allowed me to keep my sorcerer as a leader in the first slot without ever being exposed to danger. Hopefully this will help someone along the way. :)


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