Well-balanced mods

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fable
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Well-balanced mods

Postby fable » Fri Dec 26, 2003 3:01 pm

There seems to be a steady (if slow) stream of new, enthusiastic BG2 players appearing in this forum. I think that's pretty heartening. It's nice to know that despite the marketing money spent to hype more recent RPGs, both good and very bad, BG2 continues to draw attention through its quality and features. It's also got a significant number of mods--nowhere near the number for Morrowind or NWN, but hey, BG2 was never intended for the mod market. Again, their presence is very welcome. They extend the pleasure we all receive from playing, both novice and cranky, aged veteran.

That being the case, I thought I'd start up a thread in which we can praise well-balanced mods. These are mods which add areas, classes, party NPCs, items, etc, but always in a way that keeps the original gameplay foremost in mind, without creating godlike conditions. The kind of mods, in other words, that Bioware itself could have provided. ;)

This is not a thread to vote for a favorite, since that could lead quickly to abuse by a developer's friends doing a massive write-in; and it's not a thread to advertise your own mod. That said, let's hear some recommendations. I'll post one or two of my own when time permits. :)
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Postby nephtu » Fri Dec 26, 2003 3:26 pm

My 2 gold worth..

A general note: I would play through SoA at least once unmodded before you add in any MODs, even just NPCs. I haven't loaded any of the scenario or TC mods, so I can't comment on them

Tactics mod, especially with spell-50. This adds NO new majour encounters, but boy-oh-boy does it make a lot of the existing fights more interesting. It is in no sense balanced, as it increases the difficulty by a fair bit, but it is loads of fun. Item upgrades mixes well with this.

The Solaufein NPC mod is also very good, IMAO, as it adds some very nice NPC-specific fights, especially Ritual and Eclipse. Solaufein is a bit cheesy, but very well written and much less cheesy than, say, Valen.

Both are available from Weimer's wonderful wierd world of wacky MODs

Tashia and Kelsey are also good mod NPCs, but Tashia has less specific content. Kelsey has mucho soundests and banter, but is not a good choice for the munchkin player. Both are nice sorceror NPCs.
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Postby Mini Me » Mon Dec 29, 2003 5:16 am

well Horred the PLague (and his team) is one of the most hardworking modders I know. He released Big Picture, which is a combination of Darkest Day, Shadows over Soubar and Tortured Souls and some others i cant remember.
These are the major mods in the BG2 community, and are all very good. The only big problem with balance is that you can have upwards of 200k gold before chapter 3!

Furthermore, Horred recently realeased BP-NeJ (Never Ending Journey) which adds in another mod. This one is still quite buggy and I havent played it yet.

Even better, he just last week released BP-BGT (Bladurs Gate trilogy) and BP-BGT-NeJ. I havent played these yet either as I dont have Tales of the Sword Coast. The baldurs gate trilogy incorporates all of BG1 and TotSC into BG2. As you can imagine, the mixture of these three mods creates a completely different game.
Be warned, as the BP-BGTs have been described as Alpha versions, and need a lot more testing and scripting, but they ARE avaialable to play.

Of course you can just get BGT itself. It creates a better roleplay game ( in my opinion) as you can play the classes and races that arent in BG1 originally.

After reading through this, I realise that it seems like im just advertising, but I really do think these mods are worth getting, on your 3rd or 4th game. They create a totally new experience, and the authors have endeavoured to create balance in their new classes and quests/rewards. As i say the only balance problem i have so far had is too much money.

The Big Picture Website

The Big Picture discussion board

The BP-BGT(NeJ) Thread
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Postby Boris » Tue Jan 13, 2004 10:12 pm

Ascension is surely The Biz

Dave Gaider's Ascension (available at http://www.weidu.org/ascension) is surely the Top Mod. Quite a bit harder than the standard ending, but much more interesting & giving a much greater sense of "completion", IMO. Since Mr. G. is credited as a Senior Designer of the published BGII, I reckon he has more right than most to meddle...

Personally, I'm growing increasingly suspicious of Mods - in particular, I think the majority of Tactics Mods are ridiculously difficult & give away too much treasure, so unbalancing the whole campaign. Maybe I'm just a weak player, though I do play very carefully...
My feeling (no offence intended!) is that a lot of Mods are developed by & for those who just want extra difficulty in Computer Game terms - they're only do-able by parties specially prepped for the particular challenge, which doesn't make sense if considering what the characters should know, etc.

That being said, I do use the Ease-of-Use, Item Upgrade & aPack (pro-Thieves) Mods. I like Shiney Ones - the more the merrier! And anything that cuts down the huge amount of time spent fiddling with equipment can't be all bad...

Perhaps a Mods section, with links & reviews, would be a worthy addition to this already-excelent Banshee site?
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Postby Sirfin » Mon Jan 19, 2004 6:35 pm

Bg1 TuTu

Nephtu pointed this one out originally:

http://japh.fwstudios.net/bg1tutu/BG1Tutu_Readme.htm

http://www.infinitynetwork.net/bg1tutu/bg1tutu_v4.exe

Well worth the 700k download, just point and click. Brilliant mod that lets you play BG1 using the BG2 engine. You can start from the begining (BG1)and play right through ToB. :-)

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Postby Luther » Fri Mar 26, 2004 11:03 am

Well, I just started a new game with a lot of the common mods out there so I haven't experienced them yet. But I did use Weidu's ease-of-use mod in Icewind Dale II and it made things a ton more fun. The mod of the same name for BGII seems similar so I would recommend it for veterans. It looks like the tactics mod and unfinished business mod are two that even new users might want. The improved fights in TOB were awesome and not impossible. The unfinished business mod is cool too because it adds a lot of small new dimensions that should have been in the game to begin with.

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Postby Tegumiril » Wed Apr 07, 2004 3:29 pm

I've only just recently gotten into the use of mods after spending several years with the unodded versions of all of the games. However these are my findings thus far:


The level 50 xp cap and Spell cap mods are quite handy, combined with playing through with a pc created party once or twice, and the use of some of the tactics mods on the second go around, these can make for some interesting game play. A+

Solafaein mod works nicely, he's got a lot of content, and interacts quite a bit with the other characters. Won't give much away, but can be given over to vapid moralizations too much of the time :p ... Good character, and good mage all around. A

ITEM mod, oh my god this is nice. This allows you to take about half that junk you let sit i nthe bags of holding cause you don't want to sell it (just in case you ever need it right?) and combine them and augment them using cespenar or cromwell. Some ToB level items can be forged from 2-4 SoA items, a few reagents, and a ton of gold. Also stuff like the hallowed redeemer which got kinda outclassed very quickly can be upgraded. I give this one an A+++

Valen mod, not used it much as I play mostly good parties, seems well developed however with some interesting special items and abilities. Also fills the need for a theif that isn't Jan and isn't that traitorous lout Yoshimo (I was so shocked my first playthrough... good times). Give it a A?

http://weidu.org/

These were put together by one of the dev's for Baldur's Gate, and as you might expect they are very polished, and well put together. Good things to have when you want to play a classic with a new twist.
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Postby kopywrite » Mon May 10, 2004 9:15 am

I'm a big fan of Tactics and all the Wes mods in general. However, a very well written critique of the mod by Six of Spades can be found here, which highlights a number of possible areas for improvement etc. It does contain some adult language, so if that sort of thing offends, don't go there. :)

Edit: it was originally written about V15 and subsequent versions of the mod have addressed a number of these issues.

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Postby Ekental » Sun Jul 11, 2004 12:39 pm

Forgotten Wars Studios website as a whole has a bunch of mods as well, Tashia, Chloe i.e. is on here, as well as some other npcs... FWstudios has been mentioned but only specific pieces of it, so here's the whole thing, lol
Redemption and Oversight appear here as well, and there are many links to other mod sights/mods. i.e. Epic Endeavors, the list goes on
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Postby Elvis » Sun Jul 18, 2004 9:39 pm

Quote:
I think the majority of Tactics Mods are ridiculously difficult...

________________

Yep, some, perhaps. Improved Faldorn, for one.

In my view, this particular component of the Tactics Mod is more than "a bit too strong," as I believe the author dubbed it.

Or perhaps he simply said this as a joke?

In my view, Improved Faldorn's powers are egregious to the point of omnipotence (she also cheats by casting offensive and defensive spells simultaneously), which makes fighting her ungodly hard, exasperating and virtually impossible.

If any of you have beaten Improved Faldorn straight up without using cheese, I'd sincerely like to hear how you accomplished it, because after seeing her flay Jeheira repeatedly to ribbons during many reloads, I'm beginning to seriously doubt if she can be beaten at all.

On the other side of the coin, I found the Ritual component of the Tactics Mod to be quite well balanced indeed, meaning I eventually completed it while keeping the reload/cussing factor to a minimum, even though I employed a wee elf mage as a main character.

It's ironic to me that the Ritual and Improved Faldorn even appear together on the Tactics Mod because they differ so drastically in quality.

While the Ritual is nicely balanced and enjoyable (given the strengths and abilities of your party), Improved Faldorn is a bust.

Frankly, if you install the Tactics Mod, I recommend leaving Improved Faldorn off unless you revel in masochism.

Note: If the author tones down Improved Faldorn in subsequent versions of the Tactics Mod, so much the better. But I don't believe that's happened yet, has it?

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Postby nephtu » Sun Jul 18, 2004 10:28 pm

I doubt it...

Don't forget, like the Ritual (and Eclipse, and many of the other wicked Weimer fights), Improved Faldorn is a side fight - any you don't enjoy, you can skip. I haven't yet fought Improved Faldorn, but I look forward to it. I suspect there are things you can do, though - although most of tactics is fairly cheesy (inexhaustible spell casting scripts spring to mind) ;)

The really extraordinary thing about the Ritual is the awesome scripting - low level, low stat NPCs with no cheesy no-drop gear give you an incredibly tough fight, along with some cool dialogue :eek:
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Postby Elvis » Mon Jul 19, 2004 6:41 pm

Quote:

I doubt it...

Don't forget, like the Ritual (and Eclipse, and many of the other wicked Weimer fights), Improved Faldorn is a side fight - any you don't enjoy, you can skip.

__________________

True.

In the case of Improved Faldorn, though, if you skip that encounter, you miss out on becoming Champion Druid (or whatever it's called). Plus, and please correct me if I'm wrong, the Druid party member who declines to take on Improved Faldorn has no chance of gaining title to the Druid stronghold.

The only saving grace from that situation is that the flow of the game remains uninterrupted. That is to say, if you avoid Improved Faldorn, there are just a few threads in Trademeet that aren't tied up, is all, and the game continues as per usual.


________________
Quote:
I haven't yet fought Improved Faldorn, but I look forward to it. I suspect there are things you can do, though - although most of tactics is fairly cheesy (inexhaustible spell casting scripts spring to mind)

________________

Yeah, I've tried a few things myself. Nothing imaginative. One or two experiments, is all, eg, (possible spoiler...highlight to read):

-hitting pause before the fight starts, then tossing armour, weapons and healing potions to Jeheira in the arena
-having a character outside the arena heal Jeheira with a rod of resurrection while the fight is underway
-I've even tried having my party jump Improved Faldorn when she's still in neutral blue mode before the one-on-one fight starts. This way, I find she can be reduced to "near death." Problem with that is, she also regenerates like an automoton while casting Nature's Beauty again and again and again....

An unpleasant challenge, to say the least.

I also find that when my party jumps Improved Faldorn outside the arena and attacks her en masse, she eventually casts an unreal version of Time Stop or suchlike that goes on perpetually. In order to break out of it I have to reload and start over. Might be a bug, perhaps.

____________________
Quote:
The really extraordinary thing about the Ritual is the awesome scripting - low level, low stat NPCs with no cheesy no-drop gear give you an incredibly tough fight, along with some cool dialogue

__________________


I like it, too (except for the ending in the glade before the Pontifex battle).
Possible spoiler below.
Highlight to read.

My beef is, the Priestess (or whatever she is), who performs the Ritual is largely wasted as a character at that juncture because she does virtually nothing beyond uttering a few lines before she begins the Ritual. Moreover, no matter what you do at this point, you have to bump her off anyway in order to disrupt the Ritual. So in that regard, confronting her is rather a letdown.

The Pontifex fight that follows is very entertaining, though.

I eventually got the better of him by sequestering my party on one of the staircases to the left of the Keep. I clogged up the stairs with a planetar and some mordys, lured P's minions up there individually and then attacked them with a combination of ranged weapons and whirlwind attacks, upon which the minions fell pretty fast.

After which I was able to focus on P. himself.

As I recall, my mage character eventually reduced P. to "near death" by casting three horrid writings in a chain contingency while the other hasted party members and five summons bashed him into oblivion.
Nothing fancy at all.


I suspect my mage may have nailed P. with a lucky hit, because the speed of his demise was very unexpected.

Still, I enjoyed the battle.

In truth, it sounds much easier here than it actually was.

I needed a lot of reloads to (a) figure out what going on, and (b) work out the necessary strategy. (Ditto for clearing out the ritual skulls, which can be very frustrating. Ironically, despite the reload/cussing factor, the Ritual is still a lot of fun.)

Which is good, because when I play this game, I like to think my party, given enough experience and preparation, should have a reasonable chance to defeat any opponent.

Which is also why attempting a straight-up, no cheese one-on-one with Improved Faldorn annoys me so much, because it appears to be a no-win situation.

To be candid, I really can't see the logic of fighting a second-string opponent in Chapter 3 who possesses powers equal to or even superior to those of Irenicus. Makes no sense to me at all. In that regard, I think Improved Faldorn is just plain wrong. The balance is out of whack.

When you have your own go at Improved Faldorn, please let me know how it turned out, hey?

BTW, I'm no power gamer by any stretch.

Just a BG fan who likes to use core rules with a minimum of cheese.

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Postby Elvis » Wed Aug 04, 2004 2:17 am

Tonight I tried the Twisted Rune for the first time, (the Improved
Twisted Rune from the Tactics Mod, that is).

What?

The Twisted Rune, for the first time?

Yeah.

It's like this, eh?

While I'm not an SoA/ToB neophyte, I'm no expert either.

Meaning there's still much about the game I know little about or
haven't tried.

Until recently, the Twisted Rune was in fact one part of the game I
knew virtually nothing about.

Matter of fact, if I hadn't read a few posts about it on this board, I
I'd likely still be totally unaware of it.

So as you might appreciate, I was very pleased to educate myself about
it and try it out fresh, so to speak.

[Great board, here, by the way. Thank you, all you contributors, for
sharing your game information. You've increased my enjoyment of the
game astronomically.
]

But anyway, about the Improved Twisted Rune.

I enjoyed the fight.

In fact it was a damn good fight.

Not by-geezly hard, but challenging, to be sure.

So saying, though, I also have to mention that I'm playing this
current game with a level 25 mage in my party (imported from a prior
game), which provides some serious spellcasting grunt in the early
chapters.

I'm doing this because as I say, I'm no expert player, and the
juiced-up mage helps make the Tactics Battles more balanced at core
difficulty (at least for me, anyway, at this stage of my playing development).

For example, in the Twisted Rune, my mage was able to take out Shangalar right away with a 3X blast of horrid writing in a chain contingency, after which I still found the remaining battle a really good test.

Which is fine with me.

Each to his own, hey?

Just one question, however, about something I noticed.

Shagalar expired in the middle of his round table/dais, after which
none of my party could reach him to frisk his corpse because the game
wouldn't allow anyone to cross the table surface.

Kind of irritating, actually, because I couldn't find out what he had on him.

For anyone who's done the Improved Twisted Rune before and killed
Shangalar in the middle of the table, is this result normal?

Or might it be a possible bug?

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Postby Quitch » Mon Aug 09, 2004 8:19 am

[QUOTE=kopywrite]I'm a big fan of Tactics and all the Wes mods in general. However, a very well written critique of the mod by Six of Spades can be found here, which highlights a number of possible areas for improvement etc. It does contain some adult language, so if that sort of thing offends, don't go there. :)

Edit: it was originally written about V15 and subsequent versions of the mod have addressed a number of these issues.[/QUOTE]

Sad to see that Weimer felt the need to cheese up Xyx's smarter beholders. Is the man incapable of releasing a non-cheese mod?
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Postby Ellester » Wed Oct 13, 2004 9:59 am

My Opinions

Here’s my grade of well-balanced or not well-balanced mods, with some descriptions. at least this is how I feel about some mods being fair or balancedwhen I tried them.

Kelsey NPC – Has a couple of encounters attached that are balanced. He's not superpowerful, either. Overall it fits within the game, Balanced.
Banter Packs – Just banter so of course it’s balanced
Unfinished Business – Balanced
Improved Oasis II- Balanced
Kensai Ryu’s Restored Drow Innate Abilities – A little tougher but balanced
Sim’s Miscellaneous Tweak Pack (DingOTweak)– Some of it, like removing Summoning Caps can unbalance the game, but something like Improved Goodberries makes them better without unbalancing the game. Overall balanced.
Iron Modder 1 Greyfain’s entry – Balanced
Turnip Golem Encounter – Balanced
Cal-Culator – An item, Balanced
Cleric Remix – Seems unbalanced as Clerics get a special ability at each level, but they lose a spell per level and some spells are removed all together, including some precious healing ones. The ones I tried, Viconna and Anomen were balanced.
Dark Ritual – 1st encounter is very hard (had to use ctr+y), encounter in Windspear Hills is normal difficulty. Also adds some weapon upgrades that can be a little more powerful, but not too bad. I’ll say this one is unbalanced because of the first encounter is too hard.
Solaufein NPC – Unbalanced, He's superhuman and the encounters are way too hard.
Totemic Cernd – Balanced
Ascension – Very Hard final encounter. This is probably unbalanced as it’s too hard. The rest of the improved battles and extra abilities are balanced.
Planar Sphere Return Mod – Balanced – Adds some different spells and encounters, not sure if I am finished with all the encounters, though.
The Darkest Day – Unbalanced because it allows you to get so much loot and experience the rest of the game will be a bore.
Ease of Use – Kinda unbalances the game. But, most are just to make some parts of the game better or easier. I’ll say Balanced.
G3 Tweak Pack – many stuff can imbalance the game, but a lot don’t. If you use the ones that don’t its balanced.
Rogue Rebalancing – makes them tougher, but they were nerfed initially. So I say Balanced.
Subraces – Balanced
Bag Bonus – kinda unbalanced. But more ease of use. I say Balanced
Freedom’s Reign/Reign of Virtue – It has some unbalanced item drops (shadow Dragon for example). But the stores are balanced as they don’t offer any super powerful items. I’m 50-50 on this one.
Improved Horns of Valhalla – Makes it more realistic – Balanced
Munch Mod – it’s been a while, but I think there are some super powerful items in this one. Items cause it to be unbalanced.
The Magnificent Magic store – Not super unbalanced, but the items are powerful nevertheless. Unbalanced.
Item Upgrade – Some are overpowered, some are not. 50-50 on this one.
The Unusual Oddities Shop – Meant to be Unbalanced. Super items.
Underrepresented Items – I found these to be fair. Balanced.
Tactics – Some are unbalanced as they are way to hard, Improved Ilych, The Ritual, Improved Sahuagin City, Improved Bodhi and Irenicus, Karoisan the Acid Kensai, Improved Twisted Rune, Improved Kangaxx, smarter Mages and Liches and I hear the druid Grove (haven’ttried It) is ridicously hard. And these two are unbalanced because they give out too much experience and too much gold and items: Random City Encounters and Random Wilderness encounters. And one I find boring because all the trolls are now spirit trolls (and the final fight can be a little hard) Improved Torgal. But I like all the others in his list and I feel they add good stuff to the game and are balanced.

Basically I don’t like super hard encounters that require cheese tactics or cheating to get through, and I don’t like super powerful items. The ones I say are balanced may be tough, but not too tough, and the items that are included don’t drastically change the game by making you into a superhero, but they might be a little powerful.

Hopefully this helps as I always wanted to know someone's opinion on a mod before I tried it.

Btw, I’m sure I forgot a few. :)

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Postby Ekental » Sun Jan 02, 2005 4:00 pm

Isnt there an FAQ stickied about mods already? (And just about everything else)?
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Postby MitchMc » Wed Jan 12, 2005 11:26 am

[QUOTE=Elvis]Tonight I tried the Twisted Rune for the first time, (the Improved
Twisted Rune from the Tactics Mod, that is).

Just one question, however, about something I noticed.

Shagalar expired in the middle of his round table/dais, after which
none of my party could reach him to frisk his corpse because the game
wouldn't allow anyone to cross the table surface.

Kind of irritating, actually, because I couldn't find out what he had on him.

For anyone who's done the Improved Twisted Rune before and killed
Shangalar in the middle of the table, is this result normal?

Or might it be a possible bug?[/QUOTE]

No items but about 3000 in gold as I recall

If you kill him while he is on the table you can ctrl J onto it
Grab the cash and ctrl J off,

Not a cheat in my opinion. ;)

If you don’t get him on the table and he gets off the battle becomes much more difficult.

Before I would freeze him with the staff of power and use the undead throwing ax from the copper cornet (Alderidge ?SP?) on him. Killed him before he had chance to move. Problem was getting the cash :mad:

Now I like to freeze the bugger with the staff of power, then use the
Ring of the ram to knock him off, he stays frozen and you can thump him
while he lies there helpless. :D after he is dead the gold awaits :)

With the right tactics you can get the STAFF of CHEESE :p very early in the game even with tactics and w/o an uber level character.

Cheers
MitchMc

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Postby Andyr » Wed Jan 12, 2005 6:20 pm

I would like to think that Song and Silence from http://www.gibberlings3.net is balanced - though I am one of the creators. :)

If anyone disagrees, I am more than happy to hear them.
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Postby Qwinn » Wed Jan 12, 2005 8:26 pm

Since it hasn't been mentioned elsewhere in this post, I feel obligated to throw in a word on the Gibberlings Three Anniversary Mod. I just finished the recently released version 3, which turns a great mod into an almost perfect mod. Very balanced, very funny, gives a great deal of depth and atmosphere to the inns around Athlatka and definetly a "must-install" as far as I'm concerned. It can be found at the Gibberlings Three boards that Andyr just linked to in the previous post.

Qwinn

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Postby Edar Macilrille » Mon Jan 24, 2005 4:21 pm

Apart from the official patches etc here are the mods that I have downloaded and hope to get working for my next BG game, starting with BG I and ending with ToB.

Ascension
Item Upgrade
Ease of Use
Oversight
Ashes of Embers
Banterpack
The House of Sim Mods
Virtue (hope it works I really want to try it and last attempt it did not)
Kelsey (though I usually have e female elven sorcerer named Mordana and also a transferred NPC from Rolemaster with me, she is baaaaad news to opponents;-) I like Kelsey and two good sorcerers sometimes come in handy)
Unfinished Biz
BG II Refinements
Tactics (though only parts, I have completed one game with it installed and now know what encounters to avoid beefing up)
Flirtpacks
Rogue Rebalance
Restored Drow Innates
Clerical remix
Calculator
G3 Tweakpack
G3 Annerversary pack
Subraces
Bag Bonus
Underrepresented Items
Solaufein
Ironmodder 1, Ghrey's part of it.

Apart from Tactics, not too cheesy and if refined a bit I hope Tactics will prove less cheesy.

Best wishes; Palle