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SCS - Random Ramblings

Heya,

During my most recent playthrough of Baldur's Gate, I decided to use SCS. I've finished Baldur's Gate 1 with it, and I just wanted to give my opinion. I didn't use any of the difficulty based components. I wasn't looking for greater challenge, only smarter opponents (which of course would add challenge). On the whole, I think I like the mod, but I don't think I like the Smarter Mages. I was playing BGT, not EE.

The issue isn't that every mage was absurdly powerful, or that mages were using their spells too efficiently. The problem I had with it, is that every single mage seemed to have access to the best spells of any given level, which I simply couldn't have access to. Every mage of sufficient level seemed to have Stoneskin; but there were only two scrolls of Stoneskin in the game, which meant my party couldn't even all have Stoneskin, because we had three mages. Every mage seemed to have a Minor Sequencer active, and there was only one scroll of that in the game available to me. And far, far too often did I see mages with Minute Meteors, which weren't in the game at all! The Readme said that a scroll of MMM was supposed to be added to Sorcerous Sundries, but it simply wasn't there.

It was a little absurd. The mage on Balduran's Isle, Daese, had Stoneskins and Minor Sequencers. Where she found even a single scroll, after generations on this island, I have no idea. And Nimbul? Let's just say I shouldn't have gone through the Nashkel Mines on level 1! But I have no problem with Nimbul; he should be rather difficult, and had I encountered him later, at a more reasonable level, it would have been a decent challenge, rather than the one sided slaughter it was (so many, many times). One of the enemies guarding the exit to the first level dungeon in Durlag's Tower was a bit unfair; he had some kind of instant invisibility at will. He wasn't a huge issue, but it was wildly unfair.

Almost every time I faced a mage, it felt a bit more frustrating than fun. The rest of it, I loved. Especially the better calls for help. No longer could I have a fight in one room, while the enemies in the next patiently awaited me. Much, much better that the original behaviour. All in all, it was alright, and I'll likely use it in the future; but I was torn between whether or not I'd install the Smarter Mages component in the future. I got my answer in Baldur's Gate 2:

I really wasn't having too much trouble. All the enemies were slightly more challenging that in the vanilla game, but I hadn't found an opponent who could truly stand before me, until I went to the Windspear Hills. There, I met the Ruhk Transmuter. He was so stupidly OP that I simply couldn't take him. Had he no spellcasting ability at all, he still would have been one tough cookie; he was striking on a roll of 2! I only had -4 AC (which is, of course, a bit rubbish), but still; he was also doing a ton of damage, a minimum of 15 per hit. 3.5 APR. Total beast. Then, of course, we have his spells. It was a mess. There was simply no way for me to beat him.

My best attempt was when I used summons to blatantly cheese him, having him waste most of his spells and both of his sequencers against them. Even then, I still had no chance. He teleported into the midst of my group, and started carving us to pieces. No one died, but Charname was my tankiest character. I used four Stoneskins, along with five Mirror Images trying to take him down, to no avail. I got him to Barely Injured, from the minuscule bits of damage hitting through his Stoneskins. After he brought down all of Charname's defenses, I put Nalia in his way; he carved through her defenses, the several Stoneskins and Mirror Images. Same with Edwin. Same with Aerie. Every time his Stoneskins went down, he had another up in an instant. Being a Rakshasa, my spells were useless against him, as we were on too low a level. Barely Injured, and it took everything I had. After that, he quickly finished us.

I decided that it wasn't for me. So, I uninstalled SCS, loaded the autosave outside the dungeon, and completely destroyed him. It was a joke. He didn't even have a Stoneskin, but even if he did it wouldn't have mattered. He wasn't hitting on a 10, and when he did hit, I only took 7 damage. He died before much else happened.

I recently reinstalled the other parts of SCS, but I don't think I'll ever install Smarter Mages again. It's nice that mages are more powerful; the really ought to be. But I think it takes it a step too far.

Flashburn
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Comments

  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,416
    Hello!

    Well I have to agree that Ruhk the transmuter is a rude awakening call in scs. I consider him an anomaly of the scs, much like Kahrk the ogre mage in a bottle in bg1. He was suprisingly and unexpectedly overpowered too. I think scs makes them fighter/mages of very high levels and they become VERY lethal.

    Other fights are more fair and I like how mages act intelligently. They switch tactics and targets according to the situation and even have randomness in every install (kit and spells) and load (contingencies and triggers)

    I agree about the every mage having the best spells. I wanted to see a mage casting blur. Or aganazar's scorcher. Or burning hands. Or ice storm. Or polymorph other. Etc they have a narrowed list of (arguably the best) spells to choose from. BUT they employ them so well. At times it feels like fighting a real person as they react very intelligently, and do their best with their resources.
    Maybe think most of the enemies as sorcerers trained in the same umiversity? To explain how they got the same powerful spells. Lol

    I still recommend installing smarter mages, it makes the game more fun and challenging. There are only a few anomalies in which it goes a bit too far. Ruhk is one. Tanova the vampire mage is another. Overall, pros>cons IMHO.

    bob_vengsemiticgoddessCrevsDaakCyberDirectorFreedom
  • brunardobrunardo Member Posts: 514
    Im about to install SCS too so great feedback...how wouldve you handled Ruhk @lunar

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,799
    BG1 always had a relative paucity of spell scrolls. Once you get into SoD and BG2, that changes a lot: Belegarm in SoD has multiple copies of of almost every scroll you can cast (but nothing above level 5, since mages can't get level 6 spells with SoD's XP cap), and there are numerous places where you can buy scrolls in BG2. By the time ToB comes around, Lazarus Librarus has two copies of every scroll in the entire saga. Only Dimension Door and maybe Wraithform are absent.

    To be fair, mages in BG1 are usually pushovers without Stoneskin. Mirror Image, Shield, and Protection from Normal Missiles aren't that hard to get past. Minor Sequencer isn't necessary, and having some extra level 4 scrolls here and there would be nice in BG1, but if SCS mages didn't use Stoneskin, they simply wouldn't pose that big of a threat.

    The Ruhk Transmuter has always been tough for me. In my no-reload runs, I usually use summons and invisibility to drain his spells and wear out his defenses before pouncing--and even then, we need strong fighters to handle him.

    CrevsDaakCyberDirectorFreedomJuliusBorisov
  • lunar said:


    Other fights are more fair and I like how mages act intelligently. They switch tactics and targets according to the situation and even have randomness in every install (kit and spells) and load (contingencies and triggers)

    I did like the fact that the mages were more intelligent. It's what drew me to the mod in the first place. I think it's just a shame that the Ruhk was to be found so (relatively) early. From a roleplaying perspective, it makes sense to do this quest somewhat early on. Yes, you're told there are trolls and ogre magi, so it's not something you'd jump on out of the Gate (see what I did there? ;) ). But considering you're trying to make a large amount of money, and this would cover half of it (and even if you've already made the money, 10,000 Gold is nothing to sneeze at), it makes sense that you'd go there before leaving (not to mention, how long do you think Lord Firkraag will be willing to pay you? If you only free his land after it has been destroyed by trolls and ogres, he's not like to be all that thankful. Of course, it doesn't matter, even from an in universe perspective, but there's no reason for Charname to believe that).

    I tend towards a minimal reload sort of playstyle, but I also tend towards roleplaying. There was no way for me to continue, so normally I'd turn back; but there's no way my character would turn back. So...
    brunardo said:

    Im about to install SCS too so great feedback...how wouldve you handled Ruhk @lunar

    Easiest way I could think of would be Horrid Wilting. A few of those, he'd go down pretty quick. I don't think he had any sort of resistance to such spells. It does, however, mean that if you're in a party, that'll pretty much necessitate doing this quest post Spellhold.
    DavidW said:

    A lot of these are difficult or impossible to use because of AI limitations (or rather: impossible to use without looking very stupid). In particular, Ice Storm, Burning Hands and Scorcher are party-unfriendly and that's very awkward to allow for. Polymorph Other doesn't work on PCs. I do use Blur occasionally. V31 will try to be a bit broader in its spell range (though I think it's still quite a lot wider than the vanilla game, especially in BG1).

    As for enemies getting the best spells, I tend to think that the typical (say) 9th level wizard has been learning magic and collecting spells for years or decades, whereas your character hits 9th level a few weeks or months after starting out.

    It looks as if the Ruhk needs a nerf.

    For Scorcher, perhaps you could have them only target ranged enemies (so that it's like to hit your melee characters, too), and only have them use it if they can't see any allies? Not sure it'd be worth the effort, though it is a nice spell. It's a shame you don't see it too often. I only ever use it from the Wands, myself.

    But there is definitely a wider range of spells being used. That Ruhk Transmuter cast Mordenkainen's Sword (as if he wasn't tough enough ;) )! No enemy in vanilla Baldur's Gate casts that spell, so it was nice to see.

    I guess it just seems a little unfair that every enemy has these spells, but you can't even hope to have your entire party know them. I don't know... to me I guess it seems somewhat like having relatively standard enemies have special abilities (akin to, say, a Dragon's Breath) that you simply can't get. It's a bit of an exaggeration, but I can't help but feel that way. But, of course, mods could've fixed that issue (aTweaks has a component that allows you to scribe scrolls from your memorized spells, so perhaps I should've used that (I was using aTweaks, too, hah).

    But yeah, I think the Ruhk is definitely too strong. I think his spellcasting is fine, it's just his melee skills. As it stands, it looks like the only way to beat his is to have level 8 spells (or Celestial Fury. That Stun effect would probably make him pretty easy). I'm guessing, by the damage and how much he was hitting, that he got a strength increase, the correct THAC0 of a fighter his level, and perhaps Grandmastery? Perhaps without the high strength I could've taken him (after cheesing the pants off of his spell list, of course). After he got through all the Stoneskins and Mirror Images, he was sometimes doing upwards of 20 damage per hit, but at least 15. At 3.5 APR, hitting on a 2, we were going down way too fast to be able to handle it. We couldn't just spam potions of extra healing, for instance, to alleviate the damage, as before the round was over, he'd have done more damage than was healed (it helped a little, of course, but not much).

    I'm not sure why he bothers with his Transmutations, honestly.


    The Ruhk Transmuter has always been tough for me. In my no-reload runs, I usually use summons and invisibility to drain his spells and wear out his defenses before pouncing--and even then, we need strong fighters to handle him.

    Ah. I was trying to avoid cheesing him (though even when I tried, I still couldn't win). It just seems to me that if I have to (essentially) cheat to win, then it's not really worth it. It seems so... unfair to just wait out all of his defenses and spells. Avoiding things like that is why I decided on SCS and not Tactics or something. I was hoping that I wouldn't need to do things like that to win (to be fair, I hadn't had to up until this point, so that's something). I wanted it to be necessary to play smarter, not cheaper, I guess.

    brunardo
  • Mantis37Mantis37 Member Posts: 1,128
    SCS is a great mod, but its wizards often seem to be excellent tacticans imprisoned by the logic of the vanilla game. A few more opponents could probably do with following the Bernard Risling line of reasoning and just exiting by any means available after you have slaughtered the rest of their party....

    I think that I started to leave Windspear until after Spellhold because of Ruhk for awhile- but with SCS there are fewer doable quests anyway!

    Sadly there aren't really enough spells in an unmodified game for truly varied strategies, unless one forces specialists to memorise a large number of spells from their own school.

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,799
    @CyberDirectorFreedom: Oh, you can definitely beat the Ruhk without cheese. True Seeing and Breach would be enough to render the Ruhk vulnerable, and SI: Evocation, Zone of Sweet Air, and Protection from Fire are great ways of minimizing the damage your party takes.

    I just use summons and invisibility because I like to do that fight rather early on, at lower levels, rather than sneak past him. Plus, I play no-reload, which is really unforgiving.

    JuliusBorisovStummvonBordwehrCrevsDaak
  • @CyberDirectorFreedom: Oh, you can definitely beat the Ruhk without cheese. True Seeing and Breach would be enough to render the Ruhk vulnerable, and SI: Evocation, Zone of Sweet Air, and Protection from Fire are great ways of minimizing the damage your party takes.

    I just use summons and invisibility because I like to do that fight rather early on, at lower levels, rather than sneak past him. Plus, I play no-reload, which is really unforgiving.

    Well, you'd need a few Breach spells, because he has a few Stoneskins. But yes, of course you can beat him without cheese; higher levels, better spell selection, etc. will all help. I suppose one issue I had with it is that it's just some random fight, one that you can't know about previously (without metagaming, of course), but one that you need to come prepared for. Of course, you should always have Breach and True Sight available, but what if you used them earlier (I always have a few Breach spells, but tend to rely more on the lower level one time invisibility removers; level 6 mage and level 5 cleric have some nice spells, which you have to lose to have True Sight)? Or what if you only had one cast of Detect Invisibility, but need to contend with his Improved Invisibility and his Shadow Door? Or your Cleric is killed between Improved Invisibility and Shadow Door, thereby removing True Sight?

    The Ruhk pretty much demands that you either know it's coming, and plan accordingly, or that you're a high enough level that you're ready for anything. Which would be okay if it were post Spellhold, but there's every opportunity for you to be there earlier.

  • KuronaKurona Member Posts: 881
    The Ruhk is a Rakshasa, not a regular mage. This is an important detail because SCS Rakshasas have a uniquely aggressive AI compared to most of the arcane spellcasters. Because they're natively immune to spell levels under 8 they have little qualms with blanketing the screen with AoE spells and clouds which can really kill you in seconds if you are not prepared with protective gear and buffs. Furthermore you can't cheese it out by polymorphing into a Mustard Jelly: they're Fighter/Mages and they'll just slash you to death if you do this.

    I'd go as fas as to say the Ruhk is on the easy side by Rakshasa standards, for the simple reason he is fought in a relatively large area where you can move. The Druid Grove trio, on the other hand, is really infuriating because they are fought in a small hut where AoE cover almost the entire field.

    semiticgoddessJuliusBorisovineth
  • bob_vengbob_veng Member Posts: 2,305
    ruhk is probably a misspelling of rukh
    rukh are warrior rakshasa (they focus on combat more), and since he's also a transmuter i'd let him use *only* combat-centered alteration spells and flesh to stone and shocking grasp (i'd reduce his casting speed by 1, and let him spam shocking grasp - by the time you meet him). however i'd reduce his physical damage to vanilla levels

    CrevsDaakHudzy
  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,416
    edited February 2017
    Yeah I do like what @semiticgod does, use summons from off screen or invisibility to drain him off of his dangerous spells and sequencers. Even then it is very difficult and required reloads from me.

    Or you need to be higher level and buffed up to the vazoo and have high lvl spells.

    Improved vampires in Frkraag's dungeon were a nightmare, too! Luckily it was bugged for the ee when I looked so I did not get that component. Dunno if it is fixed.

  • bob_vengbob_veng Member Posts: 2,305
    imho it's okay to concieve of windspear hills as high level dungeon, but the rest of the encounters would then need to be revamped too.

  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 6,916

    Ah. I was trying to avoid cheesing him (though even when I tried, I still couldn't win). It just seems to me that if I have to (essentially) cheat to win, then it's not really worth it. It seems so... unfair to just wait out all of his defenses and spells. Avoiding things like that is why I decided on SCS and not Tactics or something. I was hoping that I wouldn't need to do things like that to win (to be fair, I hadn't had to up until this point, so that's something). I wanted it to be necessary to play smarter, not cheaper, I guess.

    @CyberDirectorFreedom remember that everyone's ideas of what is cheesy are different. It sounds like you like to take a very melee-concentrated approach, but others may prefer sneak attacks or missile tactics - either of which can make the Ruhk pretty easy. Given that you're heading into a dungeon with some potentially pretty challenging encounters this opponent doesn't seem over-powered to me.

    CrevsDaak
  • Son_of_ImoenSon_of_Imoen Member Posts: 1,802
    edited February 2017
    I hate the Rukh transmuter as well. My cheesy tactic is to take out the kobold commando's with a fireball from out of their line of sight, then use invisibility on all my melee characters, buffed to the max with (improved if available) haste and STR potions of 23+, backstabber behind him, all other melee-ers surrounding him (I'm invisible, he ain't hostile yet), then hit him in melee all at once so hard and fast that he can't get his spells of. This works as he won't get hostile until he gets his dialogue up and he won't start talking if everyone within LoS is invisible.

    But BG without SCS is too easy. The game done right is Siege of Dragonspear and Throne of Bhaal, those expansions are challenging, even without SCS installed (which does pose some problems with importing though, so far I've only played SoD and ToB vanilla, but with characters imported from a modded game, meaning I miss out on some things I like, such as Spell Thrust and Secret Word being able to target invisible characters, which is done by SCS having them make into AoE spells).

  • brunardobrunardo Member Posts: 514
    Great thread, Agree with no tactic is too cheesy if allowed and kiting, spamming and all of the above is good with me...admit though sneaking up to some mages before they put up there defenses and wail on them is a bit cheating if I know already the fight from previous playthroughs...I still do it though :smile:

  • DavidWDavidW Member Posts: 817
    I honestly don't know what SCS does to the Ruhk transmuter! He's not a bespoke editing target. Mostly, SCS just looks at a creature's level and gives it a set of proficiencies and spells appropriate to that level. The problem is that occasionally the vanilla game gives someone an over-high level and then compensates for it with really poor scripting. When that gets SCS-ified it can lead to overpowered enemies.

    Anyway, in this case the RT clearly needs a level drop.

    Mantis37JuliusBorisovsemiticgoddessCrevsDaak
  • KuronaKurona Member Posts: 881
    @DavidW
    You actually lowered his level. Vanilla Ruhk Transmuter is level 18 but only has up to level 6 spells for some reason. SCS version is level 15 and has appropriate slots, including a level 7 one.

    JuliusBorisovCrevsDaak
  • RelSundanRelSundan Member Posts: 918
    edited February 2017
    I think Rukh is fine. One of the real challenges in the SCS components. He is a tad too OP maybe, but not unbeatable.

    JuliusBorisovCrevsDaak
  • Kurona said:

    @DavidW
    You actually lowered his level. Vanilla Ruhk Transmuter is level 18 but only has up to level 6 spells for some reason. SCS version is level 15 and has appropriate slots, including a level 7 one.

    From what I recall seeing in NearInfinity when I still had Smarter Mages installed, I think he was changed into a 15/15 Fighter/Mage. In vanilla he's a level 18 mage, but somehow has 3.5 APR. Bizarre. But a level 15 Fighter has more than enough proficiency points to reach Grandmaster, with some left over for Single Weapon Style. I use a True Grandmastery mod, by the way, but I highly doubt that was the tipping point.

    It's possible, though I think quite unlikely, that his base APR is 3.5, which would give him 5 APR (which is, of course, the maximum) with his proficiency and level. Perhaps this is the issue.

    I just checked, and NearInfinity says my Charname has 1 APR, which isn't taking into account proficiency/level, but I recall that it said 7/2 for the Ruhk Transmuter. I'm not sure if it's just different for Player Characters.

    On a side note, I was doing the Planar Prison recently (without Smarter Mages, but with some of the other SCS components) and the Warden heard the kerfuffle between my party and the Bounty Hunters who greet you on arrival, and decided to walk down. Without his Thralls, he died pretty easily (and I already had some summons for the other fight, so that helped), so it was hardly a problem, but I don't think this should've happened. I'm guessing it's the Better Calls for Help component which did it. Also, a few of his thralls walked over that trap in front of Raelis's cell (I'm using a mod that lets summons and enemies set off traps) and a few were petrified. Not sure why they were going that way at all. The Master of Thralls wandered over to where the Warden should've been, and the Wyvern was over where the Master of Thralls should've been. It was bizarre, to say the least!

  • So I reinstalled Smarter Mages, loaded an old save and cheated the Ruhk into my party to check, and sure enough, 5 APR. He also had Improved Haste available, but I'm not sure if he ever cast it. There was a lot going on, so I may have simply missed it, but I didn't see it. I was wrong about the damage, though; looks like he does the same, vanilla or SCS. Grandmastery seems to make you do a lot more damage; he's using a normal longsword (so, 1D8) and he's able to do 18 damage! Never knew. But he's able to do that without SCS, as he has Grandmastery there, too (I just killed him way to fast without SCS, and got lucky on the only roll that hit through my defenses). The difference is that he's not a Fighter without SCS (he has no kit at all), so he didn't get the extra APR from level 7 and 13, nor from the Proficiency. He has the same THAC0 with or without SCS, so I'm not sure why I thought he missed on a 10 after I uninstalled. Evidently, I misread the log. My bad.

    Setting his base APR to 1 (which I imagine it should be; I see no reason it should be higher) would leave him with 2.5 APR (more if you're using True Grandmastery). His melee damage potential would be cut in half; honestly, I think I might have been able to take him (with the cheese) if this were the case. His buffs might've worn off during the fight, my Stoneskins and Mirror Images would've lasted twice as long, etc. It would be a very easy fix too, which is nice.

    CrevsDaak
  • DavidWDavidW Member Posts: 817
    SCS ought to be (but, as of v30, isn't) removing or restricting hard coded bonus attacks from creatures who get assigned proficiencies, exactly because of this sort of double-counting.

    RelSundanJuliusBorisovCrevsDaak
  • The user and all related content has been deleted.

    CrevsDaakRelSundansemiticgoddess
  • RelSundanRelSundan Member Posts: 918
    To beat him:

    Have a fighter with an appropriate weapon attack the Rakshasha, after he's don his protection, chunk a potion of invisibility. IF Ruhk tries to dispel it, move out of his way. Boots of speed recommended. If he doesn't, wait out his protections. If you got a good evil cleric (I have Viconia) you can charm the Mists and occupy him with them, as well trick him to unloading his spellbook. Once he is out of protection, dispel his invisibility, breach him and viola.

    semiticgoddess
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    CrevsDaak
  • ArdanisArdanis Member Posts: 1,736
  • RelSundanRelSundan Member Posts: 918

    Ya but who wants to play the game that way?? Might as well just turn on story mode, or ctrl-Y him.

    I understand it's not to everyone's preferences, but if they really can't beat him they could try this. Doesn't bother to give some advice. I was pretty occupied with other enemies while his spells wore off, so it didn't bother me that much.

    For the sake of argue, the "wait-out-his/her-protection"-tactic is pretty common I take it, seen it a lot on this forum.

    CrevsDaakGrond0
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 6,916
    RelSundan said:

    For the sake of argue, the "wait-out-his/her-protection"-tactic is pretty common I take it, seen it a lot on this forum.

    Indeed and in fact I regularly see SCS mages try that sort of thing when they realise they can't hurt visible targets. Personally it seems a perfectly appropriate tactic to me (particularly if playing solo) and a lot more interesting than indulging in a game of who can break down who's mage defenses first ...

    RelSundansemiticgoddessCrevsDaak
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