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Exploring something new (an attempt to do an evil playthrough)

JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 18,066
It's not easy to find something new in these games when you have hundreds of hours in. But I plan to come back to BG, as "the realms call, and you go."

So, I've had an idea. What if I attempt to put more PRing into the run, and RPing as an evil character. Inspired by good runs by @BelgarathMTH, @Arvia , and others, I've decided to create an unusual for me group of characters, and will try to make decisions according to their ethics.

The main character will be a necromancer who can only scribe necromancy spells. All other spells can be cast from scrolls only. For the first level, she went with Larloch's Minor Drain and Chill Touch.

The group which will support the necromancer (neutral evil) consists of:
- a blackguard (chaotic evil)
- a cleric of Talos (chaotic evil)
- an assassin with points into Set Traps (neutral evil)
- a sorcerer (lawful evil) whose spell picks are spells which can be looked at as "evil". I'm not sure about exact spell choices, but Blindness, Spook, Chromatic Orb descriptions suit the evil ethics. In the same way, clerics' Command literally makes enemies "die" (sleep)
- the final party spot will belong to NPCs so that I could complete quests

I won't use "good" cleric spells, such as Cure Wounds. So healing is only possible via potions and spells like Larloch's Minor Drain (thanks to @Tresset's quick fix from here). But I think I can use spells like Protection from Fear - evil characters shouldn't be affected by Fear (as the blackguard kit ability confirms).

If you have further ideas about how to pursue evil ethics in terms of spells, I'd be happy to listen.

Meet Mara, Czernobog, Eruína, Grim, and Nav'. All stats are taken "as is" - no adjusting, which helps create realistic stats. As a consequence, my blackguard will need Dex bracers, and my sorc has the second highest STR in the group.
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With 50 points in Set Traps, Grim managed to set a trap next to Fuller. Mara saw the room was full of chests with potentially important weapons and Fuller carried a nice armour himself. A backstab from Grim failed, but Command worked, while Spook affected the Watcher nearby. Mara's Chill Touch finished the Watcher (because he was shredded to ice pieces all the items were lost), while Fuller didn't recover from his sleep.
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I already can feel the difference - this is the first time ever I used Chill Touch! And the party reputation is 3.

Blindness helped against lone but hard-hitting animals.
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Tarnesh failed his saving throw against Command, with Poison Weapon already activated by both Czernobog and Grim, and Spook flying his way.
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No help for Joia. Turns out she says "I'll find help elsewhere" and just leaves, letting you loot her chests.
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Marl hit hard in melee, so Eruína frightened him with Spook.
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Party level: 1
Party reputation: 3
Reloads: 0
Mods: SCS (full), IWD voice sets: they are awesome, and provide a lot of lines suitable for evil characters. "The silent blade cuts best!"

StummvonBordwehrOrlonKronsteenBelgarathMTHArviaLudwig_IIZaghoulGrond0

Comments

  • StummvonBordwehrStummvonBordwehr Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 620
    Oh the humanity... I cant watch this. A party
    With no min maxed characters after hours of rerolling

    Have fun. And keep us updated.

    JuliusBorisovOrlonKronsteenLudwig_II
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,182
    This sounds interesting and fun to read. Maybe it will bring a renewed flow of traffic to this sub-forum.

    Do you plan to continue if you have a reload? I'm guessing maybe so, since you didn't put this in the no-reload thread.

    JuliusBorisov
  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 18,066
    Pursuing an evil path will be very challenging, I want to focus on that mainly. I actually think it might be more difficult than just surviving in a no-reload playthrough. So if I need reloads, for example, to replay something to better embody this incentive, I will do them. I also want to "feel hooked" again, so stopping and starting anew because of the main character's death doesn't seem a correct choice.

    I certainly hope this vibe of sharing playthroughs will bring in more players.

    StummvonBordwehrOrlonKronsteenArviaBelgarathMTH
  • OrlonKronsteenOrlonKronsteen Member Posts: 667
    It's a lot of fun and I only wish I had the time to do so. I've jumped into the no-reload thread on a couple of occasions, but I couldn't keep up with the documentation of my runs along with all the reading - and playing, of course. I find this run particularly intriguing since I take it you're RPing in a way that's not characteristic to you?

    JuliusBorisovStummvonBordwehrArvia
  • ArviaArvia Member Posts: 480
    @JuliusBorisov , you have my highest respect for trying to really roleplay evil. I think it's much more difficult than lawful good. Especially the way how you limit your spells and keep your reputation so low is going to make the game quite a challenge, I think. And you probably won't have access to several quests.
    Good luck, and have fun. And steer clear of the paladins ;)
    I'm going to follow with great interest.

    JuliusBorisovLudwig_IIBelgarathMTH
  • Ludwig_IILudwig_II Member Posts: 174
    In my opinion, what's even harder than roleplaying evil is stopping the urge to min max stats after rolling. I have never managed to accomplish that myself.

    Looks like your playthrough will be challenging and fun. I'll follow with interest too. And I definitely agree with you on IWD soundsets, they are amazing.

    StummvonBordwehrJuliusBorisov
  • OrlonKronsteenOrlonKronsteen Member Posts: 667
    Ludwig_II wrote: »
    In my opinion, what's even harder than roleplaying evil is stopping the urge to min max stats after rolling. I have never managed to accomplish that myself.

    I also find it hard to stop myself from rushing through a lot of the dialogue options and quests, because I've done them so many times. I try to immerse myself in the world and the story, but sometimes autopilot takes over and I end up rapid firing through the game, which breaks the RP immersion. One of the leading causes of restartitis, I think.

    StummvonBordwehrJuliusBorisov
  • Mantis37Mantis37 Member Posts: 927
    Pursuing an evil path will be very challenging, I want to focus on that mainly. I actually think it might be more difficult than just surviving in a no-reload playthrough. So if I need reloads, for example, to replay something to better embody this incentive, I will do them. I also want to "feel hooked" again, so stopping and starting anew because of the main character's death doesn't seem a correct choice.

    I certainly hope this vibe of sharing playthroughs will bring in more players.

    As a necromancer I quite enjoy devouring fellow party members' souls if I want a reload, so that's one way to justify it if that helps!

    JuliusBorisov
  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 18,066
    edited May 24
    @Ludwig_II I started to look at the fact you can adjust stats after rolling as something that is opposite to the rolling system. You just wait till getting a 91 and up roll, and then adjust everything important to 18/17. When I use the rolls as they are, actual rolling for stats starts being important again. It also guarantees no 2 characters are similar.

    @OrlonKronsteen Yes, it's not characteristic to me - I've always found it hard to choose evil options.

    Update 1.

    Facing spiders can be nasty. Czernobog used 2 potions of healing not to die from their poison.
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    Considering I can't use healing spells, recovering from that can be expensive. Potions cost 213 gp on Reputation 3 (and CHA 17).
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    The cheaper way is to rent a Royal room at an inn - it costs only 8 gp, restores 4 HP. Absorb health can then heal 2 HP per level.
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    The group returned to Landrin: no sense in keeping worn-out boots, a dead spider, and a bottle of wine if we can be paid for it. However, losing the girdle of piercing (which still isn't identified as I don't use items before identifying them) for "a book" which Unshey promised didn't sound like something Mara wanted to do.

    We completed what Silke asked and got 300 gp for dismissing 3 thugs. We also got gems those thugs brought, and 3 potions of defence. It dropped our reputation to 1.
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    Following that route gave me a Steam achievement which I didn't have. Garrick declined to talk to Mara afterwards.
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    When we entered the Feldepost's Inn, a group of Flaming Fist enforcers sentenced us to death. We immediately fled through the door, and out of town. Getting reputation back to 3 would cost 1500 + 1200 gp, which is very expensive for this stage, and I'm not sure Mara would want that.

    It's better to completely ignore big towns for now, and trade items at the High Hedge and the Carnival.
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    Blindness effect indeed looks quite cruel. 2 Flaming Fist soldiers just stood there while the party shot them down.
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    Grim got our first party level up. He was lucky to score 8 (maximum) HP. Maybe it was a reward from Laduguer, the Gray Protector of the duergar, for his successful backstab kills (the reason I like short swords on thieves is they cut through leather armour with a bonus).
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    We finally reached the Carnival and can sell items.

    Party level: Grim 2, others 1
    Party reputation: 1
    Party deaths: 0
    Reloads: 0

    Update 2.

    With such a low reputation buying anything from stores will be a problem. Even a mundane axe costs 80 gp. Considering the Iron Crisis, it can eat money quickly. Mara is not a fool to stay on the lowest reputation possible, and won't ignore an option to buy back a few reputation levels.
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    The dialogue with Zordral. It has always been difficult to understand which option would mean the witch's survival, but for evil ethics the only possible option was #3, which meant the witch was killed.
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    This fight is very dangerous for lvl 1. The main factor was to pick actions wisely. Zordral saved vs Spook, while Mara and Czernobog fell asleep. Elves' resistance against Sleep worked for the second time when Zordral casted Power Word: Sleep. Zordral saved against Command.
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    Zordral's next spell was Blindness. I made sure he targeted Grim for whatever spell he wanted to cast, but Blindness on a thief who can set traps is actually a blessing. Grim has now 60 in Set Traps, which provides good chances for success. He managed to set a trap, and then it killed Zordral.
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    Mara got a dream, and it's really cool the game shows that following an evil path is completely valid: "the path feels right and will assuredly give you what you seek", "you will have such power as this", "you will have all that he (the armoured figure) has, and more".
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    Finishing the Amazing Oopah off brought the 2nd level for Eruína (3 from 8 HP).

    We then handled Vitiare (a thief who steals 100 gp from you) - on good playthroughs I usually let him leave, but not this time. Command helped to hold him still.
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    We travelled to the Area North of Carnival. There upgraded kobolds spawned surprisingly. There was no way Czernobog wouldn't suffer a bad incoming THAC0 roll against those dangerous fire arrows, so we retreated from the map. You probably know how important I consider an option to flee.

    So, we returned, and knew the AI will search for us. Once the first kobold showed up, Czernobog one-shot it. Then Grim set a trap, and it dealt with another commando. Finishing the rest wasn't difficult.
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    Dealing with Arghain and his 4 half-ogres brought the 2nd level for Czernobog (5 from 14 HP). I also can note that while Poison Weapon "nerf" has a bad reputation among players, so far I've found this ability very useful: once the poison starts ticking, the enemy is slowed down with each tick, which lets me increase the distance between this enemy and my party.

    Party level: Grim, Eruína, Czernobog 2, others 1
    Party reputation: 1
    Party deaths: 0
    Reloads: 0

    Post edited by JuliusBorisov on
    OrlonKronsteenStummvonBordwehrArviaBelgarathMTH
  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 18,066
    edited May 29
    A kinda 5.5 update.

    I've been impressed by how good Horror works when cast by a Necromancer (enemies have to save with a -2 save penalty), so I've been thinking more about my approach towards spells for this run.
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    Should spells like fireball be considered evil? I'm against healing spells, but damaging spells are ... damaging. There's a chance to look at them as if the caster wants their victims to suffer (something along the lines of a pyromaniac). But then, you can look at it this way: elementals represent elements, and water/fire are neutral. But then again, a Priest of Talos has a special lightning ability and uses elements for protection.

    The more I thought about it, the more difficult it seemed.

    Maybe I should use the approach such as - if a lich uses these or those spells, I can use them as well, as there can be only a few more evil creatures than liches. But a lich uses such spells as Stoneskin, i.e. totally protective.

    All Illusion spells (which you can imagine a wizard could use to trick their enemies, eg. with Improved Invisibility) are not available to necromancers. Are they evil? Are they good?

    Of course, such spells as Imprisonment and all kinds of demons suit the run.

    In end, this is my conclusion: I should first pick spells that are directly evil, eg. on the 4th level, it would be Contagion (Necromancy), or Emotion: Hopelessness, or Confusion. Then I should pick spells that more or less tricky, eg. Fireshield (not only protection, but also damage to those who attack), or different spell turning spells. Then I should pick other spells that are not entirely protective.

    What do you folks think? And what difference should be between a Necromancer and a Sorcerer in this regard? So far, I've been using only necromancy spells from memorization by Mara. Should I use sequencers?

    Post edited by JuliusBorisov on
    BelgarathMTHOrlonKronsteenArvia
  • Grond0Grond0 Member, Moderator Posts: 5,032
    I agree that restricting your choice of spells seems more related to an enhanced difficulty run than an evil RP run. Are you also giving thought though to the lawful / chaotic axis of alignment, which I would have thought would be much more relevant to discussions of whether to cast nasty spells on party members? As an example I see your sorcerer is lawful evil and I imagine the lawful aspect might make her a bit hesitant to send a lightning bolt blasting through the party - while your chaotic priest of Talos would probably love to do that >:).

    JuliusBorisovOrlonKronsteendunbarBelgarathMTH
  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 18,066
    edited May 29
    Great support, keep these ideas coming. The challenge for me right now is figuring it out.

    What about another aspect: evil and good clerics in IWD have completely different spells to choose, and there are also neutral spells available to all alignments. See here - https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/comment/834356/#Comment_834356

    Post edited by JuliusBorisov on
  • OrlonKronsteenOrlonKronsteen Member Posts: 667
    IWD clerics: I don't play IWD, but I think it's safe to assume that the same applies. You could use any spells provided they were for self preservation or to further your goals - or the goals of your deity. So I suspect an evil deity would be fine with you using benevolent spells in the right circumstances. There is probably a bit of a scale of acceptability depending on the deity. My Forgotten Realms lore is really weak, but hypothetically a really vile and chaotically evil deity would likely be less tolerant of one of their clerics using benevolent spells than a more neutral or calculatingly evil deity.

    There is also the type of evil you're playing, to consider. Again there's a scale from demon-worshiping, bloodthirsty psychopath to milder incarnations (like a greedy politician who wouldn't kill people, but is willing to use bribes, etc.). The D&D alignment system doesn't really help IMO, as it's not really based on any scientific understanding of psychology, and is incredibly limited in it's ability to profile people in real life. For what it's worth, I pretty much ignore it. My paladins, for instance, while generally good, have darker sides to them. Theirs is a vengeful brand of justice, and they're not afraid of breaking rules for the greater good. This isn't in accordance with the description of Lawful Good in the Player's Handbook, but I think it makes for more 'realistic' and interesting play (not to mention justifying Jan Jansen's shoplifting sprees when your pc is a pally). ;)

    I think the most important question to ask is this: who is your character? This is probably best answered during character creation. When you know their background, personality, and goals, it's easier to make decisions that are consistent from a RP standpoint. If they're a vile, demon-serving crew they'll be much less likely to behave in a benevolent manner, and will generally sow chaos and misery. If they're only mildly self-serving, they'll be more likely to do good things on occasion, and be more sympathetic to their comrades. If they're clerics, they'll presumably follow less evil deities, too.

    JuliusBorisovBelgarathMTH
  • ArviaArvia Member Posts: 480
    I ask myself how the difference between lawful evil and chaotic evil would influence the decision on spellcasting.
    Your chaotic evil cleric would probably use anything that works for him, no matter the cost on others. Protective spells on himself are probably justified because he will use anything to his advantage, but protective spells with a group effect?
    Your lawful evil sorcerer will maybe follow their leader and therefore also cast protective spells on the group, because it helps them reach their goals.

    I think there are many spells that can't be put into a good or evil category. Illusions, like Improved Invisibility?
    You can use them to sneak in and kill everybody quickly (evil), or you can use them to scout ahead and avoid unnecessary fights (good).
    Some spells aren't good or evil per se, it depends on how you use them.

    Also, if many spells, like Blindness, or Horror, look cruel and seem evil, does it mean a good-aligned character shouldn't use them? Again, it depends more on the situation and the reason why you use them, not on the spells themselves.

    And I wonder if chaotic evil persons could really stay part of a team for a longer time.

    JuliusBorisovOrlonKronsteenBelgarathMTH
  • OrlonKronsteenOrlonKronsteen Member Posts: 667
    I hope your run is still going! But if you're like me you abandoned your current play through(s) to upgrade SCS. :)

    JuliusBorisov
  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 18,066
    No, I didn't abandon it - but at the same time didn't have time to play. I'd wait before upgrading the SCS mod probably till BG2 (if I reach it) - as I got accustomed to the characters.

    Arvia
  • ArviaArvia Member Posts: 480
    Still hoping to read more of Mara and her team in the future! Although I would immediately try to Smite your party if I met them, of course! 🙂

    JuliusBorisov
  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 18,066
    Update 6.

    Based on the feedback in this thread, and also @elminster 's comment here with the following detail: "An evil character can do "good" things and still be evil if they have a long term goal of acquiring power or (in the case of a Blackguard) doing their masters wishes" - I think I've solved the big problem I had deciding on spells:

    - I still won't use healing and other "good" spells by my cleric and blackguards, taking into account the list of IWD Core Cleric spells with alignment restrictions (in the end, not using healing spells is a challenge)
    - But for Mara, I will use spells other than Necromancy, but with the following approach - the biggest amount of active spells (memorized and available to cast) on each level should belong to Necromancy, other spells might be added only after that. So it means, for example, that for the 1st level (for which she has 3 spell slots) she has 2 Larloch's Minor Drain, and 1 other spell - it might be Identify, Sleep, etc.
    - For Nav' I will pick spells evaluating their evil nature, not picking, or picking in the very end, entirely self-protective spells

    Back to reporting!

    Sendai, who threatened killing us "for sport", suffered the consequences. I used Grim to drop a potion next to Delgod, and then Eruína targeted that potion with the Hold Person spell. Delgod was held because the spell has a small AoE.
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    Vax and Zal wanted to show us a world of hurt but failed.
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    We decided to kill Caldo and Krumm because they seemed alone and well-equipped for letting them just cut the tree and go away.

    A fight with Borda (from whom we required all his goods for free) for a low-level party with SCS is a nightmare. He's completely immune to magic and a good caster himself. Eruína and Grim fell in the battle.
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    Party level: Eruína, Grim, Czernobog 4, everyone else 3
    Party reputation: 6
    Party deaths: 4 (Czernobog - Dribben; Grim 2 - Kobold Commando, Borda; Eruína - Borda)
    Reloads: 0

    HP: Czernobog 42 from 56, Mara 15 from 18, Grim 24 from 32, Eruína 19 from 32, Nav' 9 from 12, Dorn 28 from 30

    StummvonBordwehrelminsterArviaMantis37
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