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Senjak/Dorotea Encounter Much Too Rewarding for Low-Level Parties?

SidoniusSidonius Member Posts: 14
Hello all,

I've started a new game once again, and, as usual, have been having an absolute blast. Immense congratulations to the Beamdog team for making my favorite game even more playable.

This occurred to me recently after playing through the Senjak/Dorotea encounter between Nashkel and the Nashkel Mines: are the item drops too powerful here?

I don't mind Senjak's magical wakizashi so much, since it's only +1 and wasn't available in the original game. However, Dorotea's plate mail and small shield +1 seem like far too much to bestow upon a level 1-2 party.

Up to this point, sticking mostly to the roads and never thieving, my party has only broken a thousand gold once, and we average around 600-900, generally. Splint mail and regular shields are the best we've been able to hope for, and honestly, it felt right. Challenging, but fair.

Dorotea's equipment, however, is easily worth 1,500-2,000 gp. On top of that, it's guaranteed to give any frontliner an AC of 1, which seems overpowered for a beginner party. Throw in Dorn, with his 19 strength, and the Nashkel Mines are basically a cakewalk, whereas before they represented at least some threat to parties who had not at least previously visited the Gnoll Stronghold. To top it off, the battle with Senjak and Dorotea, when working as intended, is basically a guaranteed victory, as Dorn is invulnerable. In my game, he scored a critical hit (40 damage!), and turned Dorotea into pulp with one blow!

My suggestion? Downgrade Dorotea to wearing scale mail armor and an ordinary small shield. This will still make her plenty challenging (putting her on par with Neira, the assassin at the Nashkel Inn), while not advancing a novice party so rapidly. (It probably also wouldn't hurt to reduce Dorn strength to 18/xx, but that's a conversation for another time.)

Thoughts? Agreement? Condemnation? Let me know what you think!

OlvynChuruNoon

Comments

  • SidoniusSidonius Member Posts: 14
    edited June 17
    Regarding the original developers, I do agree their hidden caches were a bit absurd, but I think it's important to remember the original Baldur's Gate didn't feature the tab button, so finding those Easter eggs was quite unlikely without a guide.

    As for Taerom's full plate, I see where you're coming from, but that armor costs 9,000 gp--an entirely different league from the 900-1,000 gp plate mail. I don't remember ever buying full plate before chapter four or five, which is a long way off from the Nashkel Mines.

    It's certainly possible to buy plate mail early--even my party could have done so already, if they had wished. The thing is, at this point in the game, it should basically empty the party's entire gold reserve to do so, which means you can't reasonably spend as much on other things, such as potions, identification, tithing (for evil parties) etc. Investing in plate mail before the Nashkel Mines is a significant strategic choice, since you're basically gambling everything on the ability of one of your frontliners to carry the day.

    To give that to the player for free, along with a magic shield that's guaranteed to make you nigh untouchable for the next three chapters...I'd say it seems unbalanced.

    Then again, I can't even imagine how difficult it is to balance a game this huge, and everyone has different styles of play. Some want to blow through the early phases as quickly as possible. I, on the other hand, relish the difficulty of low-level DnD--the poverty, the fragility. It's great! I want to have to earn every gold piece, every experience point, and every magical trinket that comes my way.

    That said, I did have Kagain and Montaron beat the carnival potion merchant senseless before looting his tent, so I might not be the best role model in every regard. >:)

    CrevsDaak
  • SidoniusSidonius Member Posts: 14
    edited June 17
    @jmerry

    Pretty good arguments! You make a convincing case for the current state of the encounter.

    A few quibbles: Although splint mail does indeed give the same protection as plate against missiles (the most dangerous attack used by bandits and kobolds), plate does have a -4 AC advantage over slashing weapons--not insignificant, especially against bandits and hobgoblins close in.

    The regular small shield, indeed, does not grant any bonus against missile weapons (+1 to AC, -1 vs. missiles). But doesn't the magic version's enchantment bonus count against all attacks? +2 to AC, -1 vs missiles? Therefore, it handily beats any non-magical shield other than a large one, and even then, it's a trade-off: either +1 vs. melee and +2 vs. missiles (large), or +2 vs. melee and +1 vs. missiles (magical small).

    You're right, there are some quests and guards you can either complete or conquer to gain plate mail or other items early on. But those, at least, require investigation, legwork, and skill. Mirianne (from whom you get the ring) is behind a locked door in Beregost and easy to miss, plus you have to go out of your way to deliver her husband's letter. The Flaming Fist guards come in a trio and are a pretty decent fight for a lowly group: if you're wearing their armor, you deserve it. This also doesn't consider role-playing: evil parties have no incentive to deliver the letter, good parties are barred from attacking the Flaming Fist, and lawful parties may not feel inclined to randomly break into MIrianne's home.

    With Dorotea's demise, however, you're simply handed a full set of excellent gear, with no work or role-playing required. You have to encounter her, and, when working as intended, she will always fall to Dorn, sparing you the even the challenge of overcoming her substantial AC.

    I appreciate your point of view, and I can definitely understand those who don't see the reward as being overly generous. To me, though, it's a little like being granted a gift, when I'd rather earn it myself. Practically every other item of worth in the game (not counting the Easter eggs) requires either an investment of gold, the completion of a quest, or for you to personally win a battle. Not so with this one.

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 101
    Enchanted small shields are still no protection against missiles. The enchantment only helps against attack types that the shield already offers some protection against. Note that this also applies to the +1 buckler you find in BG2; with no protection against piercing or missile attacks, it's not really any more protective than a point in single-weapon style.

    I was also thinking of the Flaming Fist guard that menaces Viconia. You have to go a bit out of the way to Peldvale for that one, but it's quite reasonable for a party to head there early and get that plate mail in the process. With her Command spells supporting your party, it's an easy fight.

    SidoniusJuliusBorisovThacoBellCrevsDaak
  • SidoniusSidonius Member Posts: 14
    Ah, good to know about the shield. I guess I wasn't understanding that mechanic correctly (after only 20 years, ha, ha). Thanks for clearing that up--that does reduce its effectiveness considerably!

    Also, thanks for clarifying the Flaming Fist situation--I mistook you for meaning the three boyos who accost you between Beregost and Nashkel. Certainly, the numbskull attacking Viconia is easy pickings and siding with her is the obvious choice for either a good or evil party. I couldn't remember off the top of my head where to find Viconia, but I agree it's not unreasonable to track her down before hitting the mines.

    Come to think of it, I should actually get on that: Branwen is a poor fit between Kagain, Montaraon, Dorn, Edwin, and a lawful evil monk. ;)

    JuliusBorisov
  • PingwinPingwin Member Posts: 181
    edited June 17
    I also think that encounter is unbalanced. The Dorn fight and the Neera fight should be designed so that the NPC in question will likely die if charname doesn't intervene, but should be easily winnable if charname does choose to save them. Indestructible NPCs annoy me...

    When you are on your way to the mines, even +1 weapons should be relatively rare and buying platemail takes up a good chunk of your available cash. A good party picking up Minsc around the same time can probably afford just about afford platemail for him, but for an evil party recruiting Dorn it is handed out on a plate along with a +1 two handed sword for Dorn, and the +1 wakizashi and +1 shield, which even if you don't have anyone who can use them, that's a lot of gold for doing nothing.

    With his STR19, Dorn is cheese anyway so it is probably fitting that the encounter where you recruit him is also too rewarding.

    On the positive side, if you don't like the encounter, you can just ignore Dorn in the FAI and then you won't see him en route to the mines.

  • tedmann12tedmann12 Member Posts: 57
    I just did this encounter. I was already level 3 and had 3 suits of platemail from the flaming fist guys who dared question me on that road.

    So an extra piece of platemail and a +1 shield are no big deal in my mind.

    StummvonBordwehr
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,799
    I often nab full plate pretty early, first the ankheg plate, then the heavy steel suit. Its often a 3rd suit at the camp, and I usually don't need it.

    I think its a big influx of cash, but you can choose not to take it, and either way it quickly feels kinda 'drop in the bucket'.

  • elminsterelminster Member, Developer Posts: 15,899
    edited June 18
    tedmann12 wrote: »
    I just did this encounter. I was already level 3 and had 3 suits of platemail from the flaming fist guys who dared question me on that road.

    So an extra piece of platemail and a +1 shield are no big deal in my mind.

    Worth noting two of those Flaming Fist were added in Bgee.

    DreadKhanCrevsDaak
  • ChroniclerChronicler Member Posts: 823
    Though if anything having only one Flaming Fist Officer there just made it easier for a low level newby to get some early game platemail.

    In the originals I'd always just bum rush that guard, but now I usually skip the encounter and come back to it when I have a mage who knows sleep.

    DreadKhanCrevsDaak
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,799
    TBH, I've never run an evil enough playthrough to bother killing that trio, and I usually try to munchkin resources early, so I don't think the +1 shield and armour are a big deal. if it was full plate, then yes, it'd be a big deal I think, but platemale is usually getting weak by the time you're done the mines anyways, so getting a suit here where you'll actually use it is kinda nice. Some games in Tutu I never used platemale, just switched from scale to full plate for my party. It wasn't that challenging to do really, and how often do you need more than 3 suits of full plate, with one being light weight? IMHO you're pretty much given 3 suits before Cloakwood, which is usually enough, even if you have a PC that needs light weight gear you can build ANOTHER suit of ankheg plate.

    Now, that Ring of Wizardry you get early, THAT is broken and I shouldn't use it on most playthroughs.

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,318
    Has the bug been fixed where Dorn isn't invulnerable in that encounter any more? He died last time I played.

  • Mush_MushMush_Mush Member Posts: 476
    I think the fight should be somewhat even if you don't intervene, with risk of Dorn dying. I don't like immortal NPCs, takes all the fun out of the fight if there's no risk.

  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 18,462
    Has the bug been fixed where Dorn isn't invulnerable in that encounter any more? He died last time I played.

    No, that is a bug related to the 2.5 version. WIll be fixed with the 2.6 patch.

    BelgarathMTH
  • necaradan666necaradan666 Member Posts: 9
    My brother always used to steal from the upper level of Candlekeep Inn, get attacked by a Watcher and get a set of plate right from the start.

    StummvonBordwehr
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