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Questions about Post-20 levels, Magic scaling, stats, saving throws, etc

It's been many years since I played DnD table top. I only played a few sessions. never had the opportunity to play more. Most of my knowledge comes from BG and NWN computer games. Does spell penetration, damage, vs saving throws, etc, scale past level 20 as a caster? I remember epic levels in NWN being totally broken, as your magic wouldn't scale, but enemies' and other characters' saving throws and health increased. What about ranged weapons? ranged weapons seem very weak because they do not really increase in damage without having high strength and that's only longbows, without magic ammunition. Does BG2EE make magic scale up in damage and penetration / vs saving throws?

Comments

  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member, Moderator Posts: 13,128
    In BG2? Things work very differently from NWN; the BG games use 2nd edition rules instead of 3rd edition like NWN and IWD2. Also, the BG games diverge from PnP rules in many ways, and many spells don't scale beyond level 20 simply because exceeding level 20 wasn't possible for most characters until the Throne of Bhaal expansion came out (mages were stuck at level 17 in pre-ToB BG2).

    These are all of the things that do NOT scale beyond level 20:

    1. Saving throws vs. enemy spells
    2. Saving throws for your own spells (the only one that scales with levels at all is the level 1 spell, Spook; saving throws in general are very static in 2nd edition games)
    3. Spell penetration (does not exist in BG games since magic resistance is a flat percentile chance regardless of caster level; spell penetration is only present in IWD2 as a feat)
    4. Spell damage
    5. Spell magnitude (say, the stat bonuses from Draw Upon Holy Might)
    6. Spell duration
    7. THAC0
    8. Attacks per round (warriors cap at base 2 from level 7 and 13; monks cap at base 4 for unarmed attacks)
    9. Spell slots for sorcerers, rangers, and paladins (they all max out pretty early)

    These are all of the thing that DO scale beyond level 20:

    1. Hit points
    2. Caster level for the purposes of Dispel Magic (Dispel Magic in the BG games is a percentile chance based on opposed caster levels)
    3. Certain kit bonuses like a Kensai's damage bonuses and a Wizard Slayer's magic resistance (depending on how the kit is implemented)
    4. Per-day abilities from kits like a Berserker's Enrage ability or an Archer's Called Shot
    5. Spell slots for mages, druids, clerics, and bards
    6. The level of your Simulacrum clones
    7. Your ability to not die of level drain

    Every single one of these things could be modded with basic tools, to the extent that you could almost replicate 3rd edition rules. A sufficiently dedicated modder could rig a level 25 Flame Arrow to deal 25d6 damage with a save penalty of -5 and a 50% chance of bypassing magic resistance, among many other changes.

    Grond0StummvonBordwehrgorgonzolaRAM021
  • alastair93alastair93 Member Posts: 116
    Doesn't THAC0 improve after level 20?

    On the Wiki for Druid (for instance) it says that a Druid gets a THAC0 of 6 at Level 22, vs a THAC0 of 8 at Level 20.

    Of course I'm a bit reluctant to believe the Wiki...

  • sarevok57sarevok57 Member Posts: 4,343

    Doesn't THAC0 improve after level 20?

    On the Wiki for Druid (for instance) it says that a Druid gets a THAC0 of 6 at Level 22, vs a THAC0 of 8 at Level 20.

    Of course I'm a bit reluctant to believe the Wiki...

    for warriors, the thac0 table stops at level 21, for rogues it stops at level 22, and i think mages are in the same boat, divine casters no idea

    plus there is another caveat to dispel/remove magic for high level characters, and it how the percentile is calculated:

    since all spells are capped at level 20 ( in terms of effects/duration/damage ect) any time you do a dispel check on a target who is level 20 or more, the game will think that there is only a level 20 spell on that character and dispel it easier

    so for example:

    lets say a level 40 cleric casts armor of faith on itself, you would think that the cleric casts armor of faith as a 40th level caster, but based on how the engine is implemented with the spell cap at 20, you ACTUALLY cast the spell as level 20 cleric, so if an enemy is level 30 and they use dispel/remove magic on you, it will work without fail no matter what level you are ( despite the fact it should only have a 1% chance to work), but it's also vice versa, if you are level 30 and cast said spell it will work without fail on the enemy as well, so it's kind of a double edge sword

    joluvGusindaStummvonBordwehrRAM021
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,033
    Dispel magic scales past 20.

    semiticgod
  • sarevok57sarevok57 Member Posts: 4,343
    ThacoBell said:

    Dispel magic scales past 20.

    yes, for the level that you are to dispel the effect, but not for the level to protect against it

    example:

    level 38 viconia would cast protective buffs on herself while fighting abizigal, abizigal uses remove magic and dispels all of viconias buffs EVERY time, even though he is only level 30, based on the level difference he should only have a 10% chance, but his 10% chance seems to happen 100% of the time

    my research indicates the reason why this happens, is because when you cast a spell, the game checks for the minimum level you need to be for the certain effect to happen, if you look at NI it will say: minimum level, not actual level, and since all the minimum levels stop at level 20, the game thinks it would be only a level 20 caster that cast the actual spell

    ThacoBellSkatandunbarRAM021
  • Sar_YehudahSar_Yehudah Member Posts: 109
    Okay so ToB is kind of broken?

  • Sar_YehudahSar_Yehudah Member Posts: 109
    gorgonzola wrote: »
    no it is not.
    even if many things are capped at lev 20 or before almost every class continues to improve after that moment.
    the casters gain spell slots and the fighters gain hla.
    even if his skull trap never improves after lev 20 a lev 30 mage is much better as he has more spells memorized in the spell book, having 4 lev 9 spells and 5 lev 8 ones is very different from having 2 and 3.
    a fighter with a bunch of gww and hardness is more effective than an other without, even if they share the same thac0.
    probably without cap on spells and thac0 the high level characters would be too much powerful, think at the damage that a single not capped skull trap od flame arrow could do, or buffs that last something like 40 rounds if not more, cast some IH on your fighters and then let them clear a whole dungeon before it expires.

    More spells memorized, same damage, same vs saving throws, same casting time. combat classes can inflict swift damage in proportionate to that. This complaint also applies to nwn and probably MORE to neverwinter nights. I just completed BGI, and am doing dragonspear. (I find dragonspear to not be anywhere near as good :(. ) That being said, eventually I'll make my way to ToB. Maybe I just remember things poorly in ToB to some degree.

  • NuinNuin Member Posts: 447
    edited July 7
    It's actually not so much that THAC0 stop improving after level 20, it's that THAC0 never progresses past 0 (relevant for multiclasses and non-fighters with potions of heroism/power).

    Level ~20 is something like a soft cap for AD&D simply because the sourcebooks don't really give you much info about how to progress after that (just about everything was up to the GM's discretion). Some stuff should have been pretty obvious - for example, bard spell progression should have continued to improve past level spell level 6 - but some stuff is not - should THAC0 really continue to improve past 0 considering relative AC levels and the fact that most AC sources are static?

    Anyway the BG2 approach was to simply skip all that and just add HLAs, and that's why we have them. It's not a perfect system, but outside of a few oversights (ranger's Track HLA...) it works OK.

    Sar_Yehudahgorgonzola
  • Sar_YehudahSar_Yehudah Member Posts: 109
    Nuin wrote: »
    It's actually not so much that THAC0 stop improving after level 20, it's that THAC0 never progresses past 0 (relevant for multiclasses and non-fighters with potions of heroism/power).

    Level ~20 is something like a soft cap for AD&D simply because the sourcebooks don't really give you much info about how to progress after that (just about everything was up to the GM's discretion). Some stuff should have been pretty obvious - for example, bard spell progression should have continued to improve past level spell level 6 - but some stuff is not - should THAC0 really continue to improve past 0 considering relative AC levels and the fact that most AC sources are static?

    Anyway the BG2 approach was to simply skip all that and just add HLAs, and that's why we have them. It's not a perfect system, but outside of a few oversights (ranger's Track HLA...) it works OK.

    Hi nuin. Would you explain all of this in a bit more laymen's terms? I do not understand the system well. Does hit die gain drop to a tiny fraction after level 20? What is HLA? I do not understand this stuff well. My knowledge of DnD is, unfortunately, primarily through ADnD computer games, with a very tiny amount of experience in 3rd edition many years ago. What does HLA do with spells? What does it do also with summon spells?

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 2,596
    HLA = High Level Abilities, those special class dependent abilities that a character start to gain after 3 million xp. Like WW and GWW of the fighters that grant for 1 round 10 apr (attacks/round) or for casters special spells you can not learn trough scrolls like summon deva or summon planetar.

    after lev 20, that is also the cap for the capped spells that don't cap at 10, the Thac0 of the characters do not further improve, so a lev 20 fighter has the same 0 thac0 of a lev 30 fighter, and a lev 20 cleric has the same 8 thac0 of a lev 30 cleric. also gear matters, but the character level, before reaching 20, is really important in having a good thac0.

    the AC (armor class) is mainly gear dependent, even if in few cases progressing in level gives an AC bonus and if some spells can make AC better.

    so we can say that (gross approximation but useful to understand) thac0 is level dependent and AC is gear dependent.
    as the gear is what it is, the best enchanted full plate in the game has only some points of advantage compared to a mundane full plate, to have a thac0 that continues to improve without a cap at 20 would have at high level give to thac0 an advantage over AC.
    This because the crpg system is based on the pnp one and the pnp is not designed for the really high levels that can be reached in ToB.
    The (original) ToB developers chosed to introduce the HLA instead of rebalancing the combat and spell system for the ToB levels.

    Both for fighters, that don't get further thac0 improvement but get fighters HLA instead and casters that has the level dependent spells capped at 10 or 20 (damage done, duration of buffs and so on), but get powerful HLA spells like summon deva or improved alacrity.

    i hope that what @Nuin meant is now more clear, more in laymen's terms.

    RAM021
  • Sar_YehudahSar_Yehudah Member Posts: 109
    Okay so Thac0 effects saving throws against spells? Saving throws against spells don't increase, and hit die gain is minimized after level 20? that somewhat solves the problem if i'm interpreting it correctly.

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 2,596
    No, thac0 is compared vs armor class to determine if the to hit dice roll is successful or not. If the hit connects a further roll for the damage is done.

    It does not affect the spells, for those a specific roll is made and compared with the ST or sawing throws, that depend on level and class. If the save is successful the spell is not effecttive or its effect is reduced, halved damage or only some effects applyed.

    Back to thac0 it means to hit armor class 0.
    A character with 10 thac0 has to roll at least 10 with the 20 facets dice to hit an AC 0 enemy. The difference from the actual AC of the enemy and 0 is factored in, so the same character with 10 thac0 needs to roll at least 5 to hit an AC of 5 and at least 15 to hot minus 5 AC.

    RAM021
  • Sar_YehudahSar_Yehudah Member Posts: 109
    Alright but saving throws vs spells, they dont scale past level 20? if so that compensates a lot

  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 2,596
    edited July 8
    for the ST take a look at
    https://cdn.baldursgate.com/files/AdventurersGuide.pdf
    in the appendix you find the tables with the throws for the different classes and you will see that there is not a cap at 20, ie the paladins and rangers cap ST at lev 17, but yes, all classes stop to improve the ST around lev 20 or a little earlier.
    So it is the opposite of thac0 vs AC.
    for physical attacks the ability to hit (thac0) rise with level and the defense is static (gear and buffs dependent but not level dependent).
    for spells the ability to hit is static (not level dependent) and the defense, the ST, get better with level.

    Around lev 20 the characters stop to improve their Thac0 and ST.

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,033
    Not really related, but every time some says "Thac0" now, I think they are talking to me :P

    Balrog99leeuxgorgonzola
  • Sar_YehudahSar_Yehudah Member Posts: 109
    gorgonzola wrote: »
    for the ST take a look at
    https://cdn.baldursgate.com/files/AdventurersGuide.pdf
    in the appendix you find the tables with the throws for the different classes and you will see that there is not a cap at 20, ie the paladins and rangers cap ST at lev 17, but yes, all classes stop to improve the ST around lev 20 or a little earlier.
    So it is the opposite of thac0 vs AC.
    for physical attacks the ability to hit (thac0) rise with level and the defense is static (gear and buffs dependent but not level dependent).
    for spells the ability to hit is static (not level dependent) and the defense, the ST, get better with level.

    Around lev 20 the characters stop to improve their Thac0 and ST.

    So basically epic levels in ToB are largely just additional HP and HLA?

  • CamDawgCamDawg Member, Developer Posts: 3,394
    sarevok57 wrote: »
    lets say a level 40 cleric casts armor of faith on itself, you would think that the cleric casts armor of faith as a 40th level caster, but based on how the engine is implemented with the spell cap at 20, you ACTUALLY cast the spell as level 20 cleric, so if an enemy is level 30 and they use dispel/remove magic on you, it will work without fail no matter what level you are ( despite the fact it should only have a 1% chance to work), but it's also vice versa, if you are level 30 and cast said spell it will work without fail on the enemy as well, so it's kind of a double edge sword

    This is not accurate. The effect list will be identical due to the structure of the spells, as you mention, but the effects when applied to a creature retain the level of the caster for dispel purposes. A level 30 and 40 caster will not produce the same effects on their targets despite using the same spell header when casting--you can verify this yourself by comparing effects attached to a creature in a save game (offset 0xc8 in the effect itself).

    RAM021
  • Sar_YehudahSar_Yehudah Member Posts: 109
    CamDawg wrote: »
    sarevok57 wrote: »
    lets say a level 40 cleric casts armor of faith on itself, you would think that the cleric casts armor of faith as a 40th level caster, but based on how the engine is implemented with the spell cap at 20, you ACTUALLY cast the spell as level 20 cleric, so if an enemy is level 30 and they use dispel/remove magic on you, it will work without fail no matter what level you are ( despite the fact it should only have a 1% chance to work), but it's also vice versa, if you are level 30 and cast said spell it will work without fail on the enemy as well, so it's kind of a double edge sword

    This is not accurate. The effect list will be identical due to the structure of the spells, as you mention, but the effects when applied to a creature retain the level of the caster for dispel purposes. A level 30 and 40 caster will not produce the same effects on their targets despite using the same spell header when casting--you can verify this yourself by comparing effects attached to a creature in a save game (offset 0xc8 in the effect itself).

    But this still means that dispel shreds through level 40 characters' defenses against it right?

  • CamDawgCamDawg Member, Developer Posts: 3,394
    But this still means that dispel shreds through level 40 characters' defenses against it right?

    No, the opposite. A level 20 and 40 cleric will both cast an Armor of Faith that shields 25% of damage and lasts 23 rounds. However, the one cast by the level 40 caster will be substantially more difficult to dispel since the game retains the caster level for this purpose.

    RAM021
  • gorgonzolagorgonzola Member Posts: 2,596
    So basically epic levels in ToB are largely just additional HP and HLA?
    Are also more spell slots for the casters, more weapon proficiency points and there are other things that continue to improve but yes, the thac0, ST and spell effect and duration are capped around lev 20, if not earlier.

    RAM021
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