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How should intelligence affect arcane spellcasting in your opinion?

AmmarAmmar Member Posts: 973
Let me preface a poll with a quotation from the Player Handbook:

Spell Level
lists the highest level of spells that can be cast by a wizard with this
Intelligence.

Note that it specifies cast instead of scribed. This means that the current implementation (intelligence required to scribe) is not more faithful to P&P than the old implementation (no intelligence requirement for specific spell levels).
I strongly feel that the current implementation is half-baked. As it stands, the requirement is only a minor annoyance; it sucks if you find a cool new level 9 spell scroll at level 18 and do not have a potion of genius with you.

Since they are easy to find and cheap to purchase, the requirement does not add anything meaningful to the game. It only serves as a "gotcha" for people not familiar with the rule and ways of how to temporarily increase your intelligence. The implementation is also inconsistent as it does not affect High Level Abilities (level 10 spells).

That is why I would like to the game either to revert this change or extend it to casting spells like in P&P. Personally I would prefer a revert, since otherwise the most powerful arcane caster (Edwin) become relatively even more powerful. I could still life with the P&P option, as this would make the restriction meaningful instead of an annoyance.

As a closing note, there was a broken implementation of the rule in the original BG 2. That is why for example @Dee sees this as a bugfix instead of a change. Personally, I wonder if it was left broken on purpose. Maybe the devs back then decided that implementing it would not improve the game? After all it did not even matter for BG 2 pre ToB, since you just need 16 int for level 8 spells (maximum at that time).

How should intelligence affect arcane spellcasting in your opinion? 37 votes

Original BG 2: Intelligence does not affect maximum spell level
10%
NoonbrusAmmarNimran 4 votes
Current Enhanced Edition: Intelligence limits the level of spells you scribe into your spellbook
18%
elminsterDJKajuruJuliusBorisovMeyahiNeverusedEmpyrialcraymond727 7 votes
Pen & Paper: Intelligence limits the level of spells you can cast
70%
DeeTingelBelgarathMTHGemHoundKamigoroshiSylvus_MoonbowKurumiSCARY_WIZARDMoradinYupImMadBrobob_vengCactussubtledoctorSertoriusYgramuljackjackabacusPK2748dockaboomskidunbar 26 votes

Comments

  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    Pen & Paper: Intelligence limits the level of spells you can cast
    A minor (but important) clarification: The INTMOD table being broken was not "intentional". The behavior wasn't working but the code was there and supported by the game's data files, which means that it was supposed to work but didn't (to wit: if they didn't want it to work, the INTMOD table would have been altered to remove the unnecessary column).

    I disagree that the fixed behavior is a "gotcha" mechanic: The table was always in the documentation, and players have always had access to that documentation. It's no different from creating a Thief and then giving your character a Dexterity of 9; there are consequences to that, and as a player you have to accept or anticipate them.

    Level 10 spells are unaffected because, like all HLAs, they're a product of class progression rather than research.

    Personally I wouldn't be opposed to limiting spellcasting instead of spell learning (I'm generally a fan of bringing the game closer to PnP), but that would mean implementing an entirely different behavior from the one that is currently there, and would frustrate a lot of players whose games are already in progress.

    JuliusBorisovsemiticgodelminsterjackjack
  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 11,466
    Pen & Paper: Intelligence limits the level of spells you can cast
    Actually restricting spellcasting would be amazing. Another idea: for every 2 points of INT below 19 or so, impose a 1-point casting speed penalty. There are tons of great things one could do with stat bonuses, if they weren't totally hard-coded.

    But, I wouldn't hold my breath for improvements in this area.
    Dee said:

    Personally I wouldn't be opposed to limiting spellcasting instead of spell learning (I'm generally a fan of bringing the game closer to PnP), but that would mean implementing an entirely different behavior from the one that is currently there, and would frustrate a lot of players whose games are already in progress.

    Very true, but it's so frustrating that the institutional reaction to that fact seems to be "therefore, it's not worth doing." This is precisely the kind of circumstance that begs for externalization. Make it moddable! Then the community will do the rest of the work for you, and no disrupted savegames. :smiley:

    Ammar
  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 19,752
    Current Enhanced Edition: Intelligence limits the level of spells you scribe into your spellbook
    I've got used to the EE version and actually find it suits the game just fine. I don't think it should be changed again or further.

    There're several (or I can even say many) differencies between BG and PnP rules, for example, @ZanathKariashi is a known fan of implementing each and every PnP rule into BG.

    But sometimes I feel that changing something that huge now, after 15+ years since the SoA release, will result in more people getting upset by it than other way around.

    We've seen traces of such an upset with the cleric/ranger characters and their "nerfing" by the last BG2EE patch.

    semiticgodSkatan
  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    Pen & Paper: Intelligence limits the level of spells you can cast
    It's less that it's not worth doing and more that it would involve more than just implementing a new system; it would mean tearing down the old one as well, and that means it's not as easy as "Yes this is a good idea, let's do it".

    Which means that it might be worth doing, but it's not my call to make. Trust me, if I had free reign over what we do with the engine, there'd be a whole lot of weird stuff in there just because it seemed cool at the time. ;)

  • AmmarAmmar Member Posts: 973
    Original BG 2: Intelligence does not affect maximum spell level
    @Dee: I know the code is there and I agree that it proves that one point in time the feature was intended to work. However, if the original devs later changed their mind about it I think it is an open question whether they would have changed the table or just left the broken code as is. The later option is faster and there is a lot of evidence that they were rushed in the game files. I am not saying this is what happened, but it seems at least possible. Especially since this feature would not have any noticable effect pre ToB -> so if was noticed that it is broken in ToB fixing it then would have been a considerable nerf to Imoen & Co. Leaving it broken might have been the simplest option when making a conscious choice to not fix that feature. Many games have these ascended bugs, which are never removed because the game has been balanced around them.

    I also think the comparison with a thief with low dex is apt. Dex has a gradual effect on the skill of a thief, and there are no thieves with a dex low enough to really hurt. I think a good comparison would be thieves not being able to pick up "Assassination" when having less than 18 Dex at level up.

    Also it is more of a gotcha moment, because you have to keep it in mind the entire time. With the thief you have to remember it just when creating a character. Again, a better comparison would be for the thief to require special potions (easily obtainable in town) to disarm certain traps. Actually, I sort of like games where you have to take care of logistics (original Magic Candle!), but BG is not that kind of game otherwise.

    Also disagree about level 10 spells. They are different from scribed spells that they are not learned but instead "invented" by the character, but this would actually be even more difficult. And while they are abilities they are also explicitly level 10 spells, even though they take up level 9 slots.

    But I think I tend more toward the P&P option myself, now. @subtledoctor makes a good argument. An early available +1 int item or two, would make the P&P option much more feasible. If you have more than two spellcasters the P&P rule still penalizes you for low int, but it is less of an issue.

  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    Pen & Paper: Intelligence limits the level of spells you can cast
    @Ammar Since I've already covered this at length elsewhere, I'll just quote myself from last year when this fix was first released:
    Dee said:

    Just to clarify, this change was a fix to a rather major bug from the original games. It had been implemented, but not effectively, so that if your intelligence was too low it simply ignored the failure chance when writing high-level spells into your spellbook. You could have a 70% chance of success and successfully write level 9 spells 100% of the time, which is a bug no matter how you look at it.

    INTMOD.2da is the file you can change if you want to get rid of the restriction, but this was a straight bug fix, nothing more.

    In other words, the broken functionality did more than just fail to implement the restriction it was aiming for; it actually broke the game's existing functionality.

    elminsterjackjack
  • elminsterelminster Member, Developer Posts: 15,982
    edited October 2015
    Current Enhanced Edition: Intelligence limits the level of spells you scribe into your spellbook
    Its worth also remembering that in the original Baldur's Gate (with TOTSC) if you had 9 intelligence you couldn't learn from a scroll of a fifth level spell (like Cloudkill). So this is not unprecedented behaviour.

    Post edited by elminster on
    semiticgodJuliusBorisovjackjack
  • DJKajuruDJKajuru Member Posts: 3,205
    edited October 2015
    Current Enhanced Edition: Intelligence limits the level of spells you scribe into your spellbook
    I think it's fair - after all, in ToB you'll be given the opportunity to increase the intelligence of either Imoen or Nalia (the ones who wouldn't be able to cast 9th level spells).

    JuliusBorisov
  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 11,466
    Pen & Paper: Intelligence limits the level of spells you can cast
    elminster said:

    Its worth also remembering that in the original Baldur's Gate (with TOTSC) if you had 9 intelligence you couldn't learn from a scroll of a fifth level spell (like Cloudkill). So this is not unprecedented behaviour.

    I think the OP's point, though, is that the game makes it trivially easy to get around this restriction - you drink a potion once, scribe everything, and then you can cast 9th level spells even if you are a 9-INT dunce. The question is, should it be harder to game the system like that. Like maybe, alternatively, make it necessary to use those potions for each *encounter* in which you want to cast high-level spells. Instead of just once.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    I really like the more meaningful stats of 3rd ed. There, intelligence gives you more skill points, it makes your spells harder to save against, and it gives you more spell slots.

    semiticgodDJKajuruArdul
  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    Pen & Paper: Intelligence limits the level of spells you can cast

    elminster said:

    Its worth also remembering that in the original Baldur's Gate (with TOTSC) if you had 9 intelligence you couldn't learn from a scroll of a fifth level spell (like Cloudkill). So this is not unprecedented behaviour.

    I think the OP's point, though, is that the game makes it trivially easy to get around this restriction - you drink a potion once, scribe everything, and then you can cast 9th level spells even if you are a 9-INT dunce. The question is, should it be harder to game the system like that. Like maybe, alternatively, make it necessary to use those potions for each *encounter* in which you want to cast high-level spells. Instead of just once.
    I think it's more likely that Bioware decided back in 1997 to deviate from PnP here, since the current mechanic is significantly different (meaning that its difference is significant, not that the degree to which it differs is significant) from what's written in PnP. To that end, they likely had a reason for designing it the way they did; my guess would be that they realized (decided? assumed? take your pick ;)) that actually preventing players from casting the highest-level spells based on their Intelligence scores was too great a penalty, and settled on the current solution: that a low intelligence will prevent you from learning said spells, but you can get around it by drinking a potion, and you only have to deal with the restriction once rather than every time you want to cast spells.

    It prevents a low-Int mage from becoming useless, while still giving the player the "sense" that their Intelligence is low. It's almost (not quite, but almost) on the level of a roleplaying element, rather than a mechanical penalty.

    semiticgodbruselminster
  • elminsterelminster Member, Developer Posts: 15,982
    edited October 2015
    Current Enhanced Edition: Intelligence limits the level of spells you scribe into your spellbook
    I mean Bioware may have thought about making it more PnP oriented. They certainly put enough intelligence boosting potions scattered around the many churches of BG2 for you to get away with it.

    That said my main concern regarding implementing it so that you needed to have 18 intelligence to cast level 9 spells would be the confusion it would cause for casual players. I've seen enough confusion around needing to have 18 intelligence to learn level 9 spells on places like the Steam forums to suspect that applying further restrictions would cause issues for casual players (especially if they received an update and found that suddenly their characters could no longer cast certain spells).

    Since the existing system allows you to pretty easily roleplay not having access to these spells I'm ok with keeping the status quo (but I appear to be in the minority on that one :) ). Though none of what I've written here should be understood as being a reflection of Beamdog's stance surrounding this though (I don't have the power to make such decisions). Its just all my personal view.

    Post edited by elminster on
  • AstroBryGuyAstroBryGuy Member Posts: 3,414
    edited October 2015

    I really like the more meaningful stats of 3rd ed. There, intelligence gives you more skill points, it makes your spells harder to save against, and it gives you more spell slots.

    In 2nd Edition, high intelligence gives additional nonweapon proficiencies (i.e. skills) - very useful for a rogue who wants nonweapon proficiencies in blind-fighting, disguise, setting snares, tightrope walking, etc.. High INT also gives immunities to low-level illusions (up to 7th level at 25 INT). So, it's certainly not meaningless.

    semiticgodGemHoundGrum
  • FlashburnFlashburn Member Posts: 1,739
    3E style: You can cast spells up to your INT level - 10 (e.g. 16 INT means you can only cast up to level 6 spells), plus bonus spell slots for high INT/CHA.

  • NeverusedNeverused Member Posts: 770
    Current Enhanced Edition: Intelligence limits the level of spells you scribe into your spellbook
    With my understanding of what intelligence actually is, the EE implementation makes sense. Intelligence should be the capacity to learn, so an intelligent yet ignorant person grasps new concepts quickly.
    So the scribing to spell book requires the learning then. You have a complicated scroll in your possession, which already has a completed spell. INT would be the ability to reverse engineer the spell to make it castable from the beginning.

    After it's in your book, however, you don't need to remember why it works, necessarily, since you basically have all the instructions now.

    JuliusBorisov
  • SkatanSkatan Member, Moderator Posts: 4,955
    Pen & Paper: Intelligence limits the level of spells you can cast
    I don't understand why it would be confusing for players if there were an INT requirement for casting higher level spells. I have never seen anyone question the STR requirement for weilding certain weapons or larger shields etc.

  • GreenWarlockGreenWarlock Member Posts: 1,354
    While I would prefer to play the literal 2nd Ed AD&D rules, the game has not been balanced for mages who cannot cast their highest level spells - a large part of the trilogy would be frustrating for a party heavy in arcane NPCs, and good parties would almost always require that the Bhaal spawn themselves play the arcane to guarantee an INT score for the end-game. That said, the INT bonus in Watcher's Keep would become that bit more precious.

    For reference, I just did a double-check:
    INT 18+
    Edwin

    INT 17
    Imoen
    Nalia
    Sarevok
    Neera

    INT 16
    Aerie
    Jan

    INT 15
    Haer'dalis

    So with exactly one perm +1 INT boost in the game, the good side could have one lvl 9 caster other than the PC, and Aerie and Jan should struggle to cast even lvl 8s. Evil could rock both Sarevok and Edwin with a PC raining death and destructions all round...

    Actually, I think am just one +1 INT boost away from being happy with the change (PC gets their own in hell), and maybe the deck of many things could luck that out too?

    Could really do with that +1 occurring just a little sooner though - the machine is almost end-game material, which is a nice time for a bonus 2nd caster getting 9th level spells, but a bit too deep into the game (which was not balanced to lack them) for the first.

    Dee
  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    Pen & Paper: Intelligence limits the level of spells you can cast

    Dee said:

    a low intelligence will prevent you from learning said spells, but you can get around it by drinking a potion, and you only have to deal with the restriction once rather than every time you want to cast spells.

    Right - so, INT is basically meaningless. The game actually encourages players to make INT a dump stat when creating a wizard, and put points in STR/DEX instead. I'm just saying, from a game design perspective (and IMHO of course) that is terrible. [at]elminster "role-playing" is not something you should do simultaneously with, but separate from, actually playing the game. I'd never buy something that calls itself an RPG, but only gives you the bare mechanical structure of a game and then tells the player "you can imagine the role-playing!!"
    Okay, two things. First, this is one mechanic out of hundreds, so reducing the entire complexity of Baldur's Gate to a single aspect is a bit silly.

    Second, I disagree that it makes Intelligence meaningless. It makes Intelligence meaningful in a way that can fundamentally alter how you use your character. An Intelligence of 17 means you're never going to cast 9th-level spells, unless you find a potion of genius and then use it before scribing your spells into your spellbook. Potions of Genius may be plentiful, but they're not arrows: if you use a potion every time you find a new scroll, you're going to run out of potions before you have a chance to learn all the spells you want to learn. So it's a consideration, and a meaningful one, just like potions of strength on a low-Strength character who wants to wield a Composite Longbow.

    I agree that it's not as meaningful as restricting your actual spellcasting, but (as @GreenWarlock pointed out above) the game wasn't balanced with that restriction in mind, so coding the restriction in after release would be problematic, and definitely shouldn't be done lightly.

    There's also the fact that a sorcerer wouldn't be bound by these restrictions (unless we made them bound by them, which again is a significant alteration to the game's balance and design), so more than anything such a change would encourage players to be sorcerers instead of mages.

    That being said...
    To use a concrete example: elminster's IWDEE mod "Frosty Journey" mod has a component to include spell restrictions for different cleric kits, for instance preventing priests of Gruumsh from casting high-level healing spells. Of course he could have coded the kit to have no restrictions and just let players role-play themselves, being on their best behavior to follow voluntarily a restriction that, according to the lore, the god Gruumsh makes mandatory.

    That would be terrible. Actually coding in those restrictions makes the mod better. RPGs are best when they turn meaningful role-playing elements into meaningful gameplay elements. The BG games do a pretty good job of this for the most part, but in a few areas, like stat bonuses for INT and CHA, they are pretty pathetic.
    I totally agree with all of this. In theory, your stats should feel meaningful. If the game were being built from the ground up today, I would be a strong advocate for implementing the rules as-written from PnP. But this game wasn't designed that way; which again, doesn't mean changes like this couldn't or shouldn't be done, but it does mean that making those changes shouldn't be automatic. Like the pathfinding improvements in the 1.3 update, it requires research and testing to make sure that the game still plays as designed.

    Now, all that being said, there's an easy way to mod the game so that Intelligence is more meaningful in the way you're proposing: Reduce the number of Potions of Genius from the game--or get rid of them entirely. You can't cast a spell if you can't learn it.

    Add one or two equippable "+1 Intelligence" items to the game to give the player some leeway (you don't need an Intelligence higher than 18 to cast 9th-level spells), and that should do the trick--though it won't make Intelligence-draining effects stop you from casting spells, unless you add a "Disable Spellcasting" effect to them.

    jackjacksemiticgod
  • elminsterelminster Member, Developer Posts: 15,982
    Current Enhanced Edition: Intelligence limits the level of spells you scribe into your spellbook
    Skatan said:

    I don't understand why it would be confusing for players if there were an INT requirement for casting higher level spells. I have never seen anyone question the STR requirement for weilding certain weapons or larger shields etc.

    Strength requirements have always been in the games. To the best of my knowledge they also havent been changed (though I suppose it's possible they varied between the original bg1 and BG2). Either way I'm not sure that is the best example.

    jackjack
  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 11,466
    edited November 2015
    Pen & Paper: Intelligence limits the level of spells you can cast
    Dee said:


    this is one mechanic out of hundreds, so reducing the entire complexity of Baldur's Gate to a single aspect is a bit silly.

    Well, I wouldn't want to be seen as silly :tongue: which is why I said "the BG games do a pretty good job at this for the most part" and only fall flat "in a few areas."
    Dee said:

    there's an easy way to mod the game so that Intelligence is more meaningful in the way you're proposing: Reduce the number of Potions of Genius from the game--or get rid of them entirely. You can't cast a spell if you can't learn it.

    Add one or two equippable "+1 Intelligence" items to the game to give the player some leeway

    That's a great idea. BUT it would be nice to be able to do the opposite instead - make INT restrict casting and add more consumable/wearable INT buffs to the game, so the player could make strategic decisions about when they need high-level magic, and when to burn those buffs. Not to mention having different effects like casting speed modifiers. More options = more fun.
    elminster said:

    Strength requirements have always been in the games.

    This doesn't have to be a problem. Beamdog could externalize more options in INTMOD.2da but have the default game behavior remain just as it has always been. You guys have the keys to the kingdom source code, so only you guys are able to open these things up and allow modders to produce more creative mods. All we can do is be squeaky wheels and make externalizations requests in relevant forums threads. :smile:

  • BillyYankBillyYank Member Posts: 2,769
    edited November 2015
    Pen & Paper: Intelligence limits the level of spells you can cast
    I played a lot of PnP back in the 2e days, and the result of this rule was that, in a long term campaign, no-one ever played a mage with less than 18 Int. The only time anyone played a mage with 16 or 17 was when they knew they weren't ever going to reach the requisite levels anyway.

    It is a weird mechanic. No other class has this sort of restriction. Fighters with a 16 or 17 Str can still get 5 pips in their weapon of choice. Thieves with 16 or 17 Dex aren't restricted to 80% or 90% in find traps.

    semiticgodSkatan
  • AmmarAmmar Member Posts: 973
    Original BG 2: Intelligence does not affect maximum spell level
    I think in P&P I would expect a high level mage to be able to increase his int by a point or two by the time he is level 18. For example, a Wish spell could do it. Or a crafted magic item.

    Fighters have other issues, for example they basically need a girdle of giant strength to excel at high levels.

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