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15 years since last play, best way to do one full BG1, DS, and BG2 playthrough?

SpaceHamsterSpaceHamster Member Posts: 5
I played through many, many times in my teenage years but it's been probably 15 years since I've done a full playthrough. I have an opportunity here in about a month do ONE playthrough and I'm looking to hit all the bases. My goals are to do a canonical playthrough and hit as much of the main line plot as possible while also making the most of the new stuff from enhanced edition, team up with as many NPCs as possible (temporarily) and do their main quests, and do as much of the game as possible knowing that it may be many years again before I can do another playthrough.

Questions:

1. What difficulty is the most fun to play at for a former 'expert' player? I was thinking classic rules. I don't think I ever played on the super difficult mode as I'm concerned it may make it unrealistically difficult for the sake of being difficult. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

2. What party should I end with to make the most of BG2? (I was think good/neutral only, no evil party members).

3. What character should I play? I know this is an age old question, but in light of my one-time opportunity here I'm looking for some advice. I recall from many years ago having a blast playing a fighter because I got to try out every weapon and armor but in reality without gimping myself I always wore the best armor I had and put all my masteries in 1h swords which kinda limits what you can use. I think I played through as dwarf and human but stayed away from other races, and I never did any kits. I also don't think I ever did a full playthrough as a wizard. I thought BG1 was pretty limited for wizards and BG2 there's so many good wizard NPC's there's no reason to play as one. Am I wrong about that? Did I miss out on anything?

4. Technically speaking, do I play through BG1 and load a save into BG1:DS and finish that, then load a save again into BG2? I was thinking it would be better to stay away from the mods that let you do a trilogy without saves, not sure if that introduces bugs, etc. Dont want to finish the game and find out that there's a problem with my save file.

5. Any must-do's or tips before I jump in?

6. I'm really looking to complete the prologue book retrieval quest. I remember holding onto that book through like 10 playthroughs trying to complete that quest but it was bugged in the disk version I had. I assume that got fixed in EE. :P

JuliusBorisov

Comments

  • ElysianEchoesElysianEchoes Member Posts: 310
    2. The commonly accepted canon party for BG1 is Immoen, Jaheira, Khalid, Minsc, and Dynaheir. At least, that is what BG2 basically starts you with. With SoD now, though, it doesn't much matter, imo. I won't say more lest I stray into spoilage.

    4. At the end of BG1, a final save us automatically generated, and can be imported by SoD. Same for SoD that can be imported into BG2.

    5. The best tip I can give you is to get anything important out of containers before those final saves happen. I was so sad to lose my potion collection.

    6. Yes! You can, indeed, give the book to its owner before leaving CK.

    I can't really say much about the other questions. I've never tried harder than core, and the only character I enjoyed enough to finish the first two games with is a shadow dancer, but that doesn't mean you'll like it as much.

    Enjoy! Let us know how it goes.

    JuliusBorisovSpaceHamster
  • PsicoVicPsicoVic Member Posts: 196
    edited July 2
    Only one play? I do not really know if I will manage to do that in this game O.O. I understand you want no mods, but I encourage you to download at least the fixes to make your play more enjoyable (And I also think BG1 NPC/bg2 banters, Ascension, Unfinished business and mods that restore cut content are a must, IMHO).

    1. You are safe with classic, you can up or downgrade the difficulty at any time.

    2. Of the canonical npc, they say that you have the most dialog with Eltoth-Skie-Garrick and pairs like Alora-Edwin, etc but without mods, there are plenty of characters you do not get until mid-to-endgame. If you go for continuity with bg2 and only one play I suppose you can pick Minsc-Dynaheir, Jaheira-Khalid, and Imoen. Edwin and Viconia are evil but also fit. You can take those until you recruit Dynaheir, for rpg purposes. Not the most strong and balanced party, though.

    3.Just one and no kits? I´d say the most popular are fighter-mage, ranger-cleric or fighter-druid, dual or multiclass variations. But it depends on your party and your preferred gameplay.
    With the proficiency rules of this game, you can only be competent in 2-3 types of weapons, there are too many of them. Just pick one melee type weapon (katana is a no-no in bg1), one ranged-type weapon and in bg2-tob one blunt type weapon and stick with them. Axes and warhammers have ranged and melee variations (and you can use them with shields too).
    Just for the record, the enchantment, web and summoning spider spells of mages in bg1 are the best cc of the game, hands down, and you usually need two mages to take down faster other mages in bg2. Mainly abjuration, divination, necromancy and summoning spells(enchanting are not that great in bg2 besides greater malison). There are heavy caster fights in Bg2.
    There are good mages indeed (Edwin, Jan, Neera) but also great fighters (Minsc, Keldorn, Korgan, etc) or clerics (Viconia). Most of them can do things that you´ve never been able to do with your main character, so be free to be what you want.
    The game does not have unique dialogs for races, so go with the race you like most and that have the class you want. Only humans or elves have huge differences, the other races have only some minor stat changes, only useful if you want min-max.

    4. Right now trilogy installs, like EET, are fairly bug-free due to several months of playtesting. They also have auto-installers. I rarely have a problem with them, and I have like a ton of mods installed. You can do save import anyway, but the trilogy installs have more continuity (Returning characters have changes in portraits and stats in bg2, for example, but there are more differences).

    5. Pick the golden pantaloons :D

    6. Yeah, that and many bugged quests. Also better UI.

    Post edited by PsicoVic on
    JuliusBorisovSpaceHamster
  • IseweinIsewein Member Posts: 113
    Second that. No imaginable reason why anyone would want to play without BG1 NPC mod or SCS. Same arguably goes for Unfinished Business. If you are hesitant to wade into mods, just stick to those. If you want to play "canonically" anyway, I would recommend going for the new Siege of Dragonspear as well, since it assumes the canonical party and ties into some plot points quite nicely.

    JuliusBorisovAerakarSpaceHamsterPsicoVic
  • SpaceHamsterSpaceHamster Member Posts: 5
    Hey guys,

    I really appreciate the advice. I should be able to start my run in a few weeks and I'm super excited about it.

    A few follow up questions:

    1. I never played with any mods, but you've convinced me to give it a try. It seems like if I have time for another playthrough later (which I'm sure I will but it might be a few months or years due to work schedule), it would be great to try one with a ton of fan mods and see what the community has put together for a really big experience. For now though, if it's not too picky I think I'd like to limit myself to mods that stick to the "rules" (kinda vague I guess) and/or had involvement or blessing by the official team, so individuals that worked on BG1/2 or BG1/2EE. For instance, it looks like Ascension was worked on by David Gaider and is then official in the sense that it could have been added if they had more time to work on the game. Are there more mods like that that I should know about?

    2. Likewise, it sounds like Swordcoast Stratagems's work has made the game even closer to a more realistic DND experience. The more I read into this mod the more it sounds super amazing and I'm really looking forward to a more challenging experience that doesn't just add HP and dmg arbitrarily. Super excited about fewer magical weapons existing!!! Plus, I love that this affects the iron crisis more. I never felt like the iron crisis was serious with so many magical weapons around, and a full playthrough you just kind of have them lying around everywhere like sticks. Also super stoked about not having to kill every animal I see with Jaheira, amazing changes to wildlife @DavidW !!!). A few questions though:

    A. For the difficulty (Basic, Improved, Tactical, Hardcore, and Insane), which is best for an authentic/fair rules experience?
    B. For the spell changes, are all of them consistnet with DND rules or were some of them changes arbitrarily to make the game more challenging? I read through the spell subpage but it doesn't make it clear that all changes are consistent with DND rules, or which ones were. Probably still good decisions but I think it would be good to know which ones.
    C. "Remove the Shield of Balduran from the game." I read the subpage on this but I can't recall if this was super game-breaking of an item or not. Only one player can use it, are beholders still a threat when only one of your players is immune to them or is it super cheesy and kills the quest? I mean finding an item used by balduran should be pretty significant, right?
    D. "Remove the invisibility power of the Staff of the Magi" Was this item proportionally difficult to get? I know it's super powerful but should it be?
    E. For the items moved to ToB, are they one of a kind and definitely shouldn't be sitting a store (as in 'obviously a legedary item at that price someone else would have bought them if they were for sale' as a cannon way to move them elsewhere?). Without spoilers is that the general idea or are they just moved to a different store?
    F. "Treat mages' and priests' High-Level Abilities as innate abilities rather than memorisable spells" I read the explanation that explains nicely how this works but not why. I actually don't know anything about this topic and more info would be helpful.
    G. It says it includes "full implementation of the Icewind Dale spell system". What does that mean?

    3. For the Unfinished Business mod, it sounds good and I read the list of components but it doesn't make clear which are true fixes and which are fan improvements. Who decides what needs fixing? Is this still needed with BGEE? Looks like good things but I can't find enough info to form an opinion on it.

    4. For the NPC mod, upon further reading this looks like it was a massive undertaking by the team and adds a ton of well thought-out depth to the game. Not a bad thing at all that this was fan-driven, but was there ever an official comment by the devs that this should be accepted as cannon? Not saying it "needs" that (it obviously seems like everyone loves it) just curious for more informaiton about reception of it from an official capacity. It looks amazing but I'm curious if I should hold off until I have time for a full community playthrough instead of a cannonical one. I guess I see it as a more recent cannonical playthrough will help give me perspective for when I do get to do the community one as well. Maybe a better question would be if it removed anything or just added to it?

    THANK YOU SO MUCH. I feel like this is super picky but I love the game and never have any time to play it. This might be a once-in-another-few-years kinda thing and I'm very thankful for everyone's advice.

    StummvonBordwehrJuliusBorisov
  • Very_BigSwordVery_BigSword Member Posts: 103
    edited July 2
    Just a quick throw-away here, but vanilla BG1 NPCs are generally boring. The canon party if you go with that is very boring. Grab BG1 NPC Project for fun and novelty. The writing is well matched for the NPC personalities considering how sparsely most are presented in vanilla.

    For a more authentic experience just ignore the obvious added magical items that come with the new NPC quests and take a "dialogue only" policy. There are not too many of those but they will be notable when you find them and you can just drop them on the ground.

    Unfinished business used resources that were present in the original game files but not implemented. They were either cut official content, or unfinished original content, hence the mod name. It is not a big deal whether you use it or not but I see no real reason to avoid it. It is not player-created content as such.

    SpaceHamsterPsicoVic
  • SpaceHamsterSpaceHamster Member Posts: 5
    edited July 2
    @Very_BigSword awesome, thank you! I think I'll go for that as well. When you say throw away the new items, do you mean from EE or NPC Project? I think I'm generally feeling all for the EE content, and it seems like with SCS magic item bloat shouldn't be a problem.

    I guess another good question is do you feel the same way about BG2EE? Should I go with NPC Project for that as well or is it needed?

  • PsicoVicPsicoVic Member Posts: 196
    edited July 2
    Trust us, you don´t know but you really want Unfinished business, BG NPC and SCS for both games. Also Ascension, with "Redemption" for good measure. As said before, most of those are cut or unfinished content from the original game. It is not needed strictly speaking, but they add more depth to some quests and characters and tie some loose ends. They remove nothing beside bugs and add plenty.

    There are also plenty of high-quality mods that add new quests and companions but the recommended ones are more fixes than fan-made mods.

    Most of the SCS changes make the game more challenging by improving the tactics of the enemies and remove or modify cheesy items and spells from the game.
    "IWD spells" adds the new spells from the IWDEE game into BG, fully implemented (scrolls, spells gained by level). It is especially good for druids because it adds more variety on offensive spells that the class really need. All of the new spells are also from D&D, of course.

    There are not many new items in the EE version, and nothing game-breaking or overpowered. Mostly items customized for the new companions and classes.

    SpaceHamster
  • DavidWDavidW Member Posts: 687
    A. Tactical or Hardcore.
    B. None of them are particularly inspired by PnP.
    C. I don’t think I do remove it any more.
    D. It’s very easily exploitable to break the AI. (On-equip powers that have an active effect tend to break things - and don’t replicate anything in PnP, if that matters to you.)
    E. Yes
    F,G. See readme; not sure what to add to F beyond that. (If you want a PnP description, it’s the choice between having HLAs function like overpowerful 9th/7th level spells, and having them function like 3e epic spells, or (iirc) 2e Dark Sun 10th level spells (i.e. usable once a day, and not counted against the normal spell list).

    SpaceHamsterJuliusBorisov
  • SpaceHamsterSpaceHamster Member Posts: 5
    @PsicoVic Thanks!

    @DavidW Thanks a ton, I really appreciate the detail. That all makes a lot of sense.

    For F, I understand what the change is just not why. I think it sounds good for them to be special abilities, is it just so that you don't alwasy have to pick them for limited spell slots? Like they're so good you would never be able to/want to pick any other ones? And also I guess so that you can't use them multiple times in a day by filling your spellbook with them?

  • Very_BigSwordVery_BigSword Member Posts: 103
    When you say throw away the new items, do you mean from EE or NPC Project? I think I'm generally feeling all for the EE content, and it seems like with SCS magic item bloat shouldn't be a problem.

    I guess another good question is do you feel the same way about BG2EE? Should I go with NPC Project for that as well or is it needed?

    The NPC project adds some new items with quests that are specific to certain companions. There are specific encounters related to those companions and the items are associated with those encounters.

    If you want I could give more detail about that but hard to balance against spoiling the content. Maybe just an item list and if you find one don't keep it? Or you could just go with the flow and use whatever you find.

    BG2EE would not have an equivalent afaik because the purpose of BG1 NPC was to give dialogue and content to the vanilla BG1 NPCs that was equivalent in depth to BG2 vanilla. If there is a mod like that for BG2 I have not played it.

  • PsicoVicPsicoVic Member Posts: 196
    edited July 3
    @Very_BigSword BG2 Banter packs, not exactly the same but adds more interactions between your chars.
    http://www.pocketplane.net/mambo/index.php?option=content&task=blogcategory&id=95&Itemid=78

    Also BGRE. Not all of them are romantic encounters (you almost always have the option to just talk). you have extended conversations with characters you met in the game, like Thalantyr or Melicamp, and some new npcs, like a female sylvanas in BG. There are also banters with your companions and extra conversations when you give the girdle of gender, etc.
    https://www.gibberlings3.net/mods/npcs/romantic-encounters/
    https://www.gibberlings3.net/mods/npcs/bg-romantic-encounters/

    I like them because you do not get xp, more combat or plenty of items so they do not unbalance the game. Those are just something to read between quests and waylayding´enemies. You can relax while baalspawning, yes?

    SpaceHamster
  • DavidWDavidW Member Posts: 687

    @PsicoVic Thanks!

    @DavidW Thanks a ton, I really appreciate the detail. That all makes a lot of sense.

    For F, I understand what the change is just not why. I think it sounds good for them to be special abilities, is it just so that you don't alwasy have to pick them for limited spell slots? Like they're so good you would never be able to/want to pick any other ones? And also I guess so that you can't use them multiple times in a day by filling your spellbook with them?

    Pretty much exactly this, yes.

    SpaceHamster
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