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I may have made a huge mistake...

I thought it would be fun to try some of the tactical challenges in SCS. I think that may have been a mistake, and worst of all, it wasn't like I didn't have some warning.

I initially turned on the "slightly" more difficult Irenicus' Dungeon option and couldn't get my party through it. The lack of sleep was what did it - the duergar are a lot tougher than goblins, but it would have been doable with even a single additional rest. So, needing to adjust the install anyway, I pulled that one, but let many of the others in. Then, I got to the shade lord in the Umar Hills temple area.

Now, this was partly exacerbated by the option to remove unrealistically placed ammo option, but there were no sunstone bullets in the temple. Which left the party trying to focus on the altar while getting pounded like a cheap steak by Patric and the shade lord. The party bailed back to Athkatla, now with Mazzy in the party, to look for sunstone bullets. Not a single store carries them it seems. So, I had to console those in, as there was no way to approach this with that altar operational.

The party returned to the temple area, cleared out the rest of the shadows, but couldn't get Patric or the shade lord before they were getting beaten into rough shape. So once more, back to Umar Hills to rest and return. The next trip allowed them to take out Patric - and this is where it gets frustrating.

The only thing the party had that made a dent in this clown was Holy Smite, and indeed, they managed to get him down a ways - but the level drains meant that they were losing two per round instead of one. He was also saving against Hold Undead nearly every time as well. Note that this was AFTER Imoen had cast Greater Malison and Maeri had cast Doom. Sirene had also cast Protection from Evil on every party member prior to entering the altar area, but that looks to have been a total waste of time.

After a few attempts, they got him to near death, but ran out of spells. The best sword the party has, the Sword of Chaos, wasn't touching him. Imoen Breeched him TWICE, which should have taken down any PfMW buffs. On the other hand, his nearly limitless supply of death spells and level drains were definitely touching the party.

In a fit of frustration, I put the game in story mode just to end the encounter, which I now regret, but jeez, Louise, how are you supposed to take out this guy with this option installed?


  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 11,901
    I've never beaten improved shade lord. I tried it once in an install and never again.

  • KorbenDallasKorbenDallas Member Posts: 28
    I beat improved Shade Lord on SCS insane a week or so ago, I used this approach for the battle:

    My SCS doesn't remove unrealistically placed ammo, because I don't feel they are unrealistically placed from a RP perspective. Though, I didn't use the placed ammo the Shade Lord battle.

    You'll definitely want Negative Plane Protection on at least your main damage dealer with the best THAC0 for the shade lord. I placed Anomen near the altar and had him cast Undead Ward so any summons from the altar basically left the area. I had summons and another damage dealer go for Shade Patrick, who didn't like the Undead Ward much, either. My two magic dealers stayed near the Undead Ward so they could repeatedly cast spells uninterrupted. My party had some level drains but using this strategy the Shade Lord went down quickly.

  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 6,638
    If you can get rid of any protection against energy you can use a Daystar sunray - and presumably you either did that, or he had no such protection in your installation if you were hurting him with Holy Smite. Weapons (like iMoD and Azuredge) may also be an easier route than trying for spell damage. I'm also not sure why you were concentrating on the altar and not the Shade Lord - the odd additional shadow is no trouble for a party that can kill the Shade Lord ...

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 1,178
    I've never used sunstone bullets in that encounter ... huh, didn't realize those bullets had a specific "slay" effect until now. A former sun god's temple does seem like the best place for them - maybe they could be available somewhere like the temple of Lathander too.

    The altar doesn't do anything in the fight except summon normal shadows. If those are a threat, your party is probably too low-level for this encounter.

    The Shade Lord is, of course, the main threat. You have to kill it quickly, or be level drained into uselessness. Of note - the "Shadow Mantle" it casts combines a Mirror Image, a PFMW, and a Spell Turning. It's likely your Breach attempts ran into that Spell Turning and failed because of it. Next time, try a Secret Word first.
    Anti-undead weapons like Azuredge and the Mace of Disruption do work on him; I've definitely killed him before with an axe thrown just before the dialogue started, and that would get through all of his tricks. He has pretty good saves, so you're not terribly likely to kill him in that one hit.
    Turn Undead? No. Even if you've got absurd lich-splatting levels, the Shade Lord has immunity. It is a good way to clear out the lesser shadows, though.
    In case you were wondering about whether a Protection from Undead scroll might help? Nah, he has a trick to counter that.

    The Shade Lord is not a true mage, with this tactical challenge component. It has a number of specific spells, and no limit on how many times it can cast them if the battle goes on long enough. They each have a frequency they can be used, and that's it. None of these spells are Remove Magic, so you can go to town with party-buffing - just don't cast anything that affects enemies unless you want to wake the dragon.

    Casting a paladin's PfE on everybody before the battle ... the duration is just too short on that. If you want PfE for the whole party, use the level 4 cleric spell with a turn/level duration instead.

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 1,178
    Grond0 wrote: »
    If you can get rid of any protection against energy you can use a Daystar sunray...

    The (improved) Shade Lord doesn't cast any protection against magic damage; it just has 50% MR. However, I have a feeling Daystar isn't an option - the narrative makes this sound like a party practically straight out of Irenicus' dungeon. In that case, it's really the low levels that get you; the Shade Lord drains your warriors once or twice with its aura, and then casts Death Spell to finish them.

    It only lasts five rounds, but this is one battle in which casting Negative Plane Protection (cleric/druid 4) may be a good idea. After all, those five rounds will very likely decide the battle.

  • MaurvirMaurvir Member Posts: 907
    This is a bit of a different party for me - far less arcane magic than usual, and a PC C/T. They shouldn't be under leveled for this encounter, so I'm probably just doing it wrong. As an aside, I specifically wanted to get away from my usual modus operandi, which involves mostly magic, so the party is a bit more melee and archery heavy. Imoen is the only arcane caster, and Maeri and Jaheira are the only divine casters. Sirene only has her innate skills, which may not apply in this scenario, and Sarah has a single 1st level cleric spell slot.

    The altar is really only a problem because the area fills up with shadows, making it hard to maneuver. They really can't do much damage otherwise. The party cleared out the first part of the temple fairly easily with little issue. It's only when they gang up that they are a problem.

    As for Turn Undead, I had no illusion that this would work on the Shade Lord himself. However, I thought it might cause the shadows to spread out. Again, the problem is that there are too many, so they literally have nowhere to go. My cleric is high enough level that occasionally they are killed instead of pushed, but that is why I want that altar out of commission fast.

    I am going to restart this whole area again from the previous save and plan accordingly. (I have a save point from right before the party entered the temple region) I'm just not thrilled about having skated by in story mode to end the encounter.

    I do wish there was a legit way to get those sunstone bullets without consoling them in, though. I regret installing that particular option now.

  • KorbenDallasKorbenDallas Member Posts: 28
    edited September 25
    I cast Undead Ward to the right of the altar. The shadows moved out of the area and didn't crowd the battlefield, and my party didn't waste attacks per round on them so they could concentrate on the Shade Lord and Shade Patrick. After those two went down my party destroyed the altar, and then chased down the spawned shadows scattered across the area that ran from the Undead Ward. Anyway, just a tactic I used in my playthrough for this encounter. My party was around level 10-11 at the time.

  • MaurvirMaurvir Member Posts: 907
    edited September 25
    That could also be part of it. My party isn't quite there. My PC is a multi-class C/T, and is level 8/9, Sirene and Sarah are level 8, Imoen is a level 10 mage (dualed at level 6), Jaheira is a F/D with level 8/10.

    I could get Mazzy (which was the ultimate goal) and come back for the Shade Lord later.

    That said, I watched the video, and Imoen does have Secret Word and Breech. She does not know PfMW, though.

  • KorbenDallasKorbenDallas Member Posts: 28
    I don't have Immy yet, but CharName is a pure mage and did have Secret Word and Breach for the Shade Lord to soften him up

  • jsavingjsaving Member Posts: 965
    I can sympathize, the first time I tried SCS it was a real shock to struggle with some encounters I knew inside and out in the vanilla game.

  • MaurvirMaurvir Member Posts: 907
    I don't have Immy yet, but CharName is a pure mage and did have Secret Word and Breach for the Shade Lord to soften him up

    I'm using Imoen Forever, which lets you have her back almost immediately (until losing her once again briefly later on, but that's a different story)

    Also, I manually (using EEKeeper) put her back to where she was in BG1 once I get "permanent Imoen", so she has the same XP, levels, proficiencies, etc. Backing her up to level 6 thief, and adding the extra XP she got in ID, she just snuck over the line for level 10 mage, which opens up some real options. Add in the Metaspell Influence Amulet the party found, and she is quite capable. I just didn't prepare her properly for that fight.

    I really believe the game itself should have imported stuff like that on its own, rather than only importing the PC. Even if your stuff is gone, you shouldn't have gotten an entirely different cast of characters (stat-wise) if they were in your party in BG1. Which is why I don't consider that "cheating" at all.

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 1,178
    Now that you've mentioned those levels - which amount to about 250K XP per party member...

    You are flat out underleveled for this encounter, and it's a very level-sensitive one. Death Spell kills once you're drained to level 8 - which is within one round of the aura for pretty much anyone in the party. If you came by at a solid mid-level of around 1.5 million XP per party member, it would be a nice challenge but nothing too rough. If you came by with a few HLAs, at a level you could easily take on the dragon, it would be trivial.

    I wouldn't take it on until at least after you've started chapter 3, and picked up the Amulet of Power to protect at least one party member from the level drain. More levels in general are also a crucial buffer for survival here.

  • MaurvirMaurvir Member Posts: 907
    You might be right, especially with the SCS alterations. This used to be a good "first real fight", but with the changes, it is a lot more nasty.

    I was able to retrieve Mazzy fairly easily, though, and even got TO the Shade Lord pretty easily. (You can skip the dragon with the ward stone). I might go ahead and pick her up, then bail - though I am sorely tempted to see if this crew can pull it off on this trip with careful planning.

  • MaurvirMaurvir Member Posts: 907
    Well, they did it. It was a two-part exercise, but they pulled it off. The first step was to nuke the altar and Patrick. Once the Shade Lord was alone, they retreated back to the temple to rest and regroup. Imoen went all out on Secret Word, Breech, and Magic Missile. Maeri maxed out Death Wards, Protection from Evil, Holy Smite, etc.

    So, the final act. Imoen used Invisibility 10' to prep everyone, and Sirene took up a position in front of him. As soon as his spell protections triggered, Imoen dropped them with Secret Word, followed by Greater Malison. Sirene got a bit chewed up, but held out until Maeri could get off a Hold Undead - the second one got him.

    Unfortunately, Sirene died (reversibly), but with him held, Maeri and Mazzy were able to take licks at him until the aura got to them. At that point Mazzy kept pelting him with sunstone bullets (I added those back to the temple), while Imoen helped a bit with some magic missile love.

    Afterwards, Jaheira raised Sirene with Harper's Call and the team healed her back up. Sirene probably missed out on the XP, but by golly, they beat him fair and square.

  • KorbenDallasKorbenDallas Member Posts: 28
    Awesome, sounds like an epic fight!

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