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[MOD REQUEST] BG2 Items Revised

Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,090
After playing through BG/ToB who-knows-how-many times, there remains one gripe that just annoys me: BG2's items, particularly weapons.

Don't get me wrong, there is a large number of them and fairly nicely spread out; but what gets me is how weirdly they are organized.

The main problem is weapon types. Ever tried finding a bastard sword worth using? There's literally TWO unique bastard swords in the entire game (Jhor the Bleeder and Foebane)! And this is bastard swords, not some exotic weapon you wouldn't see every day in this part of the world.

How about Maces? A single +3 mace in BG2, a single +5 in ToB - again only two weapons worth using in an entire category. Warhammers? Clubs?

Some categories of course are better designed (Long Swords, for example), while others have at least a reason to be rare (Katanas).

I think one reason for the large amount of "useless" weapons is the power creep in BG2. A +1 weapon is already bad, a +2 is borderline acceptable for BG2, and by the time you get to ToB you can't even hit a lot of enemies unless you have +4 or better.

One mod that tries to address this is the ItemUpgrade mod. While the concept is great and very fun to do within the game, the resulting weapons are often unbalanced; and in any case, they are balanced around existing weapons, meaning they can't really remedy the scarcity of certain types.

What I propose now is an almost complete redo of BG2/ToB's weapons. Take those +1 sticks-with-a-story and make them worth using! But make no mistake: I'm not saying you should make all weapons +3 and add Dread Mauls of Doom to every goblin's loot table - in fact, part of the mod should make sure to distribute the weapon's within the world in a way that makes for a more linear power curve.

There's two parts to this: availability by story chapter, and availability by party power. An example of the first would be Bernard in the Copper Coronet selling stuff only after the slaver quest is done, or Ribald selling items only after the Underdark; an example of the second would be Firkraag holding Carsomyr.

Care would have to be taken to balance around this VERY carefully. Daystar, for example, should no longer be accessible to anyone able to pick the lock on the chest and run - the Lich guarding it would have to be actually defeated. Items added by the mod could be distributed in similar ways, possibly even with a system of randomization that shuffles powerful items around the loot tables of powerful enemies.

As for story-gated items, there should be more distinctions than just before/after Underdark. Completing some of the major side quest lines, for example (Cult of the Eyeless, Umar Hills, etc.) could unlock items in certain locations. These could either be for sale, or clevery hidden (above mentioned randomization comes into play again?).

Also, the items should roughly be distributed in a way that has a more smooth flow of upgrades: things could start of with +1 mainly, and a rare +2 or two, as you make your way through Athkatla. Doing side-quests would see more +2s, with maybe a +3 or two at the end of major lines (not as a reward, but an unlock, see above). During the Underdark, +3 would become more common, and afterwards +4 or the rare +5 (really rare, like Carsomyr) could be earned through major challenges.

A tie-in that would support this very well would be an expanded upgrade-system. Cromwell's some-assembly-required-style artifacts are pretty cool - they could do with a little more beef, though! When was the last time you used The Wave? In addition to these fractured gems, upgrading of existing items through unusual and rare components would make sure that you have something to work with for the rest of the game. I'm not talking about making everything +5 - but if, say, you got a unique Mace+1 (Ardulia's Fall, for example) early in the game, you could make it a +3 or even +4 at endgame by acquiring certain materials. It would be great to introduce some choice there: limited availability of components, but multiple possible upgrades (think Eye of Tyr). There could even be multi-tiered upgrades (say, +1 -> +2 at first, and then +2 -> +4 at endgame, on the same base item).

It would be important not to overdo this, of course. It shouldn't devolve into a farm-fest, and some of the more powerful items found naturally should remain 100% competitive (and un-upgradable). This is where the ItemUpgrade mod falls short, as it sometimes produces +5 monstrosities that blow everything else completely out of the water, including ToB items. Items should feel powerful, but not overpowered!

I've been talking a lot about weapons, but the entire concept could be expanded to other items as well. But the glaring imbalances of weapon distribution aren't as prevalent in other slots, and most of the BG2/ToB gear is actually quite well designed and distributed. There could be some improvements, to be sure, maybe a nice jewel or two to aim for. Mage robes in particular seem a bit lackluster; I'm not talking about Robe of Vecna 2.0, but say a Robe of the Archmage with an extra 4th level spell, or something along those lines. Small gifts, not powerhouses. Non-armor magical equipment especially (bracers/gloves, jewelry) should remain rare and special, not something you find under every rock. Upgrades could come into play here as well, maybe turning a +1 Ring of Protection into a +2 with certain components, or add some "special effects" (small THAC0 bonus, small spell bonus, small extra saving bonus vs. X, that sort of thing - small being the operative word).

The "big picture" should always be kept in mind: overall balance between equipment types/slots, power balance throughout the various stages of the game, and slow but consistent power upgrade. The last point in particular would be very important, I feel - nothing of the highest tier should be easy to acquire, no challenge should be "cheatable" (like, say, Daystar, i.e. run in, open box, run away).

I can't be the only who finds character creation unduly limited by weapon availability. I KNOW I'm not going to get a decent bastard sword until halfway through ToB - so why give my char that proficiency? I laugh every time I read the Katana proficiency description... "very rare" indeed, when you can get THE best Katana in BG2, and without ToB arguably THE best weapon in the game, with very little effort (in the unmodded game of course)!

There's tons of small details I can think of for such a mod, and I'd be happy to contribute. I've been playing BG2 for a decade now, and I've given many aspects some deeper and serious thoughts. What I can't do, however, is code all this - I am a complete klutz when it comes to techie-stuff, and that's putting it mildly. If there is anyone, any group, who would consider making such a mod (especially with BG2:EE in mind), I'd be very, VERY happy to make it a reality. BG2 is an amazing game, and amazing games deserve to have EVERY crease ironed out. We have the technology...!

Comments

  • 10thLich10thLich Member Posts: 99
    As I stumbled onto this due to the feature request thread.

    @ bastard swords
    You forgot the Blade of Searing +3, though it's equally bad, because you only get it in chapter 4.

    @ maces
    Mace of Disruption+1 is actually a +3 weapon. The +2 version is actually a +5 weapon.

    But those are probably things you already know.

    If all else fails, take a look at the mod item revisions over at G3.

  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,090
    The problem is, most of the mods only address the issues superficially. They add a handful of new items, but they don't usually affect the existing ones, particularly when and where they can be found.

    I'd just like things to be a bit more linear, and power to be a curbed more, all the while ensuring that you have plenty of choice in weapons regardless of your weapon type. Availability is one thing (bastard swords), power is another. Take flails for example: there are a grand total of *two* good flails in the entire game. Two! Part of that is because for some reason they lop the category together with morning star (even though they are functionally much more similar to maces than flails). More differentiation and distinction would be greatly appreciated!

    I'm thinking of something along the lines of two weapons in each category of +1/+2/+3/+4/+5 level respectively. And I'm not talking about superpowermega Swatsticks of Doom here; but have something like frost damage here, fire damage there, daily use of some spell, immunity to something, etc. Those kinds of things should make up the bulk, but they should be varied and balanced against each other and against the other categories. No sense in making something like Celestial Fury, which outclasses every other weapon for miles, no questions asked. There's already several weapons designed in the way I'd like them to, like Ras, Ilbratha, Arbane's Sword etc. There just should be more, and in more categories. Also, most of these weapons are +1/+2; as soon as you get to +3 territory and higher, things dry off quickly. Why not make weapons of lower enchantment that you'd still want to use on occasion? The +APR weapons are one example for that, being great even at high levels; but surely more can be done!

    I realize that such an undertaking would be very trick to do. Balance is difficult to achieve when people play at vastly different speeds and have vastly different play styles. That's the reason why I would advocate an at least partially "gated" approach, i.e. gradual unlocking of weapons depending on several factors. "Hard gating" as in xp/story progression requirements is one option, "soft gating" as in having to beat a challenge (quest, boss) is another; a mixture of both is obviously best.
    Right now when I play, I plan my entire game around maybe six weapons or so. FoA of course, ridiculously easy to get and incredibly good; Belm and Kundane, the best offhands in the game (and SNT if I take a thief, not that buying something from a vendor requires much planning); Daystar, available easily and early and highly effective against the vast majority of enemies; Celestial Fury with its lol-factor stun that trivializes half the fights; and then eventually Crom Faeyr, the Voltron powerhouse. Note that these are all SoA weapons that are available early in the game (except Crom Faeyr). My entire metagame warps around these selections, and consequently everything else is completely ignored. Now, of course I'm a powergamer and go by oomph more than anything; but can you blame someone for doing so? RP is fine and all, but if you went by RP alone you wouldn't need to care about power at all, just flavor. That's not how it works, of course, and on the contrary, I think power should support RP and vica versa. Having power disqualify 90% of the available weapons doesn't sound healthy to me!

    Of course I'm exaggerating a bit here to make my point. There's certainly more weapons than the six I mentioned that are useful at some point or another; but they still make up a minority of what's available, and they also skew the proficiency system with noticeable bias (long swords are a main culprit). Some of the issues are systemic; why would I ever use a dagger, for example? They strike with 1d4 and offer no tangible benefit over, say, a short sword, which strikes as 1d6. Speed factor is highly irrelevant in BG2, meaning that outside of flavor, you'd never use a dagger, period. Same with war hammers, why are they 1d4-based? Then we have katana doing the same damage as a 2-handed sword (1d10), and the whole issue of why katana aren't 2h in the first place, given that's how they are usually used IRL. I could go on and on.

    The main reason this whole thing is so much of an issue is the weapon proficiency system. Fighters in particular need to focus on a few select types if they want to be most effective, and that's severely hindered by the wide gaps in availability. Then there's certain classes and kits that further restrict choice, and classes like mages who don't really care about their weapons at all. They should! I'm not talking arcane warrior here, but some more options for at least a little weapon use would be nice. In BG1 mages routinely use things like darts, but in BG2 that's not a particularly effective option as their damage simply doesn't scale well enough. Fine, you have a larger spell selection at higher levels anyway - so expand on that with weapon choice, too! A staff that increases the caster-level, for example. A dart that has a chance to turn into a Melf's Acid Arrow. Stuff like that!

    Well, a bit more ranting from me. I guess I was just too hyped that after all this time, someone finally noticed my post! :P My offer still stands: if someone apt at coding and packaging mods wants to collaborate on this project, I'm all open to do so. I've thought a lot about what could be done to improve the system, and I'm sure we could make something memorable and fun out of it. But perhaps we ought to wait for BG2:EE first and see how things change...

  • smeagolheartsmeagolheart Member Posts: 7,089
    Dude, you have a lot of wall of text going on there, however, I think you have some valid points.

    The balance and availabilty of weapons is way off in BG2 and TOB especially is a mess with OP items all over the place.

    You have my vote for taking the whole mess, throwing them all away and rebalancing them.

  • velehalvelehal Member Posts: 206
    There is a mod at Gibberlings 3 named Item revisions. Current version (3) can be found in the forum, where you can read details about changed items etc. The mod is not fully complete, still more revisions are planned. It works only with BG2 and BGT.

  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,090
    IR is a great effort, but it doesn't go far enough and there's still some balancing issues. Flavor and cleanup is great, though, most of the items have been made very interesting and sensible. I just think it needs a number adjustment so as not to completely invalidate certain weapon types (like daggers, or war hammers). Looking at the detailed list, I don't think much would change for me. I'd still go pretty much the same routes, and the old all-stars like Daystar or Celestial Fury would still remain very good and fairly easy to obtain. Love the non-weapon changes, though, very well done! But the weapons need more balancing.

  • DemivrgvsDemivrgvs Member Posts: 315

    IR is a great effort, but it doesn't go far enough and there's still some balancing issues. Flavor and cleanup is great, though, most of the items have been made very interesting and sensible. I just think it needs a number adjustment so as not to completely invalidate certain weapon types (like daggers, or war hammers).

    If you have actual suggestions I'm eager to hear them, but I fail to see why daggers or hammers would be a bad pick for a character. Both weapon types within IR have a weapon of each enchantment level, going from those able to disable the target to the more classic elemental weapons, as well as special purpose ones (e.g. the anti-summon banishing hammer), not to mention both weapon types offer even ranged options. What do you think they are currently lacking?

    Looking at the detailed list, I don't think much would change for me. I'd still go pretty much the same routes, and the old all-stars like Daystar or Celestial Fury would still remain very good and fairly easy to obtain. Love the non-weapon changes, though, very well done! But the weapons need more balancing.

    IR is designed with SCS in mind, and that mod thankfully makes both Daystar and Celestial Fury harder to obtain (e.g. if you enter the crypt to steal the former you get trapped within the room, and SCS liches are kinda powerful). That being said, there's a quite huge part of IR which unfortunately still isn't well documented which rearranges all stores (completely re-done item lists with different "roles" varying from fletchers, blacksmiths, libraries, fences, etc.) and re-allocate several items here and there, trying to achieve exactly what you have described in your previous posts.

  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,090
    edited September 2013
    Demivrgvs said:

    If you have actual suggestions I'm eager to hear them, but I fail to see why daggers or hammers would be a bad pick for a character. Both weapon types within IR have a weapon of each enchantment level, going from those able to disable the target to the more classic elemental weapons, as well as special purpose ones (e.g. the anti-summon banishing hammer), not to mention both weapon types offer even ranged options. What do you think they are currently lacking?

    The problem is their low base damage. 1d4 is not enough to compete with swords, particularly bastard swords and katanas with their very high base damage. The extra abilities are simply not good enough to compensate, nor are the inherent weapon-type advantages (offhand penalties, for example, are largely irrelevant given how unimportant offhand attacks are, really). Ranged options also hardly matter in BG2, as distance is almost never a factor, and several enemies are missile-resistant. Damage is where it's at, and special abilities. The +APR offhands, for example, were rightfully nerfed. I haven't done the math, but they may still be the best choices. APR really is the main culprit in this game, in many ways; it makes fighters disproportionately good, it makes offhands worse (due to the APR cap on them), it makes Improved Haste the perhaps best spell in the game...

    I went through the list item by item, and I haven't really found any special ability that was outstanding enough to make me reconsider the item over a higher damage alternative. There's a lot of utility there to be sure, but that's a drawback as much as it is a bonus; I fear that a lot of items will simply become "buff batteries", swapped in for their "once per day" effect, then swapped out for a high damage item. Sort of means the item sees use, I guess, but in a weird way. Also, several effects are just not meaty enough to compare with pure, brute-force damage (particularly with mods like SCS in mind). The flavor is great and all, but I'm not going to use a weapon with significantly lower damage because it has, I don't know, a 10% chance to do something, that can then be saved against to boot. Rather ignore the effect, and go for more oomph.

    Admittedly, it's a very sober, power-gamy approach; but that's the only "objective" position I can think of, I can't (and won't) judge people's RP value and personal preference. I very much appreciate the general reduction in power level, but the gaps between individual items are not the best thing.

    Take, for example, Spectral Brand+4 (i.e. upgraded) vs. Foebane+5. There's a difference of 1 enchantment level, yet Foebane is available earlier. Comparing the damage between the two, Spectral Brand has an average of 10.5 (1d8+4+1d3) while Foebane (the one you get earlier) has an average damage of 17 (1d10+3+1d4+6) for 90% of the game (as almost every enemy is evil), and still 11 otherwise. The Spectral Brand, of course, has special effects: it summons a sword and "shadow creatures" once per day. The whole issue of once per day aside, summons just tend to not be terribly effective against most relevant enemies. Now I don't know the exact stats of the "shadow creatures", but I doubt that they will be able to compensate for the damage difference at high enough APR. That's an example of a cool, flavorful effect, which nevertheless just simply falls short in the face of pure, brute force. Summons in particular come with a whole range of problems (like blocking access for your other, stronger, melees in tight quarters or against small enemies; dying to AoE spells easily; not dealing enough damage; lagging behind when your party is hasted; etc...), as does the "once-per-day" restriction which for many people is a major QoL annoyance.

    You see where I'm going with this; the "special effects" you get are often not enough in the face of pure damage. Or, conversely, some items still deal too much damage. That's definitely a way to look at it, particularly when "+X damage against evil" is concerned, which in BG2 pretty much translates to flat damage bonuses since soooo many enemies are evil.

    The gap I mentioned was, by the way, between two "comparable" weapon types, scimitar and long sword which are 1d8 and 1d10 respectively. Try to compare them to a dagger with its 1d4, and you quickly see how large the damage gap can become. Speaking of which: it's mentioned under general notes that hammers should be 1d8 instead of 1d4, but the individual items all list 1d4 except for Runehammer, which is 2d4. Odd indeed! To further compound the issue, daggers and short swords (two of the lower-end base damage weapons) both use piercing damage, which is probably the most resisted-against weapon damage type.

    Ranged weapons are another matter entirely. With the overall reduced damages of melee weapons, they are a little bit more competitive, but it's still a significant issue. APR in particular is a concern, I'm not sure I'd use anything other than Tuigan Bow and Light Crossbow of Speed even with the mod. Slings, darts, and throwing weapons are almost universally useless in BG2 because their damage scales so poorly and their special effects (if any) can be replicated too easily (unlike BG1 where they can be quite handy indeed). Part of the issue is connected to range being of such low importance in BG2, which is arguably the main advantage of the aptly named ranged weapons.
    Demivrgvs said:

    IR is designed with SCS in mind, and that mod thankfully makes both Daystar and Celestial Fury harder to obtain (e.g. if you enter the crypt to steal the former you get trapped within the room, and SCS liches are kinda powerful). That being said, there's a quite huge part of IR which unfortunately still isn't well documented which rearranges all stores (completely re-done item lists with different "roles" varying from fletchers, blacksmiths, libraries, fences, etc.) and re-allocate several items here and there, trying to achieve exactly what you have described in your previous posts.

    It's good to hear that things are shuffled up more. Concerning the two items I mentioned, though, I too have SCS in mind. While the mod certainly helped in making it harder to get the weapons, it's still something that can be done in Chapter 2 fairly easily. The Lich in particular is easy to cheese because of his dialogue, which makes it almost trivial to get hits in with Azuredge and/or Mace of Disruption. I think you touched on the issue of undead disruption and mentioned its power; I completely agree. Liches being blasted by these weapons is fairly ridiculous, lore or no lore. I hope once I am a centuries-old undead mage of incredibly power, I'll find a way to stop the next best adventurer with a glowing stick from chunking me!

    I do very much appreciate your work, though, especially the flavor that went into it, and the attention to detail when replicating lore or PnP templates. If you really would like more detailed, piece-by-piece input, I'll be glad to go through the list and make annotations. You might also want to check out the powergaming thread on the General forum here, as most of my analyses concerning power and the importance of certain factors (namely damage output) are outlined there in great detail. It's good to see work is being done, and I do hope that the coming of BG2:EE will revitalize such projects to help make the experience even better.

  • DemivrgvsDemivrgvs Member Posts: 315
    edited September 2013
    @Lord_Tansheron, I fear no one will ever bear to read this discussion with our huge walls of text. :D Anyway...

    WEAPONS BASE STATS (aka not only dmg output)
    You seem to think that the base weapon's dmg output is all that matters, but there's plenty of other factors to consider within IR:
    * weapon damage type (I don't know why you think piercing is worse than slashing, the latter is actually almost always the worst even in a non modded game. Anyway, within IR piercing weapons have +1 thac0 bonus vs. armored opponents, and blunt weapons get a +2)
    * weapon speed factor (in a vanilla game this was irrelevant because enchanted weapons got improved speed by default, making even greatswords as fast as daggers, but within IR small/light weapons will always attack much faster, making them better suited to many purposes such as backstabbing, hitting before mage's buffs get renewed, landing a melee strike against a moving target, etc.)
    * weapon size/weight (this was irrelevant in vanilla, but within IR dual wielding big/heavy weapons is less efficient, while small/light weapons work best)
    * weapon proficiency (e.g. daggers can be used by anyone - it is kinda obvious that a dagger cannot be the weapon of choice for a Barbarian or Berserker, but for a thief I can assure you that daggers are better than long swords or even katanas within IR)

    Taking a couple of your examples:
    * warhammers don't deal 1d4, but 1d4+1, thus compared to the classic long sword they deal 1 point less of damage on average, but get +2 thac0 bonus vs armors and are generally more effective in many cases (e.g. golems)
    * short swords deal 1 point less of damage compared to long swords, but they are faster, they can be dual wielded without penalties, they get +1 thac0 bonus vs armors and they have a better backstab multiplier!

    On a side note, if you think that having +1 or +2 dmg per hit is the most important thing in the world, think twice about it, especially later on when such a difference becomes less and less relevant % wise with the addition of all other dmg related bonuses (enchantments, STR, mastery, etc.). Inflicting 4.5 dmg instead of 3.5 might be relevant early on, but causing 20 dmg per hit rather than 19 isn't really a big deal later on.


    ONCE/DAY ABILITIES
    Those who know me are well aware that I actually declared war against this. :D Within IR I always strive to favor "while equipped" effects over once/day wand-like abilities, exactly because I don't want amulets or even weapons to perform like wands/potions rather than real equipment. That being said, I reduced the amount of x/day abilities since earlier versions, and will continue to do so if possible (e.g. within next version Spectral Brand will not have a x/day Summon Shadow ability, instead if a target is slayed by the weapon there will be a chance that such target will be "transformed" into a shadow).


    UNIQUE WEAPONS
    If you want to point out particular cases go ahead, feedback is always welcome, but afaik each and every weapon type has at least 1-2 outstanding specimens. You may think FoA, Daystar and Celestial Fury are still the only good/obvious picks, but they are not. For example, Staff of Earth's Stone Hold ability or Flame of the North's Freezing effect are good alternatives to Celestial Fury's stunning strikes, and specializing in bastard swords or halberds within IR is going to be as viable as going for the more classic long swords or two-handed swords.

    April
  • Lord_TansheronLord_Tansheron Member Posts: 4,090
    @Demivrgvs: Thanks for the reply!
    Demivrgvs said:

    if you think that having +1 or +2 dmg per hit is the most important thing in the world, think twice about it, especially later on when such a difference becomes less and less relevant % wise with the addition of all other dmg related bonuses (enchantments, STR, mastery, etc.). Inflicting 4.5 dmg instead of 3.5 might be relevant early on, but causing 20 dmg per hit rather than 19 isn't really a big deal later on.

    But why would I want to cause 19 when I could cause 20? I don't think that weapon base damage is *all* that matters, however I do think it's part of the equation very much. Perhaps I'm too biased by my usual party setups, because they include so many max-damage effects (Kai and Righteous Magic) which scale very well with high base damage.
    Also, I do take special effects into account in the comparison as well, but you have to understand how irrelevant many of them are, particularly the ones that don't directly translate into damage. Even things like the CF stun are actually not worth enough to offset damage loss in many cases (in my own setups I use CF as a switch-in for specific fights only). The reason is simply that killing the enemy > disabling it. With proper setups, you'll kill fairly quickly those enemies that are susceptible to being disabled, and for those that aren't... well, why use a weapon with that effect when it doesn't work (like stun vs. dragons), or is irrelevant (like... almost anything vs. Mages)?
    Demivrgvs said:

    * weapon damage type (I don't know why you think piercing is worse than slashing, the latter is actually almost always the worst even in a non modded game. Anyway, within IR piercing weapons have +1 thac0 bonus vs. armored opponents, and blunt weapons get a +2)

    The THAC0 is a valid point, as for the resistance, maybe I'm misinterpreting my own experience there. I've always had the most trouble with piercing resistance, but I do not rule out confirmation bias; I haven't looked at all the .cre files to confirm.
    Demivrgvs said:

    * weapon speed factor (in a vanilla game this was irrelevant because enchanted weapons got improved speed by default, making even greatswords as fast as daggers, but within IR small/light weapons will always attack much faster, making them better suited to many purposes such as backstabbing, hitting before mage's buffs get renewed, landing a melee strike against a moving target, etc.)

    I think you grossly overestimate speed factor, especially given the high number of APR a properly built party will be able to pump out. Attacks happen so rapidly at that point that speed factor is basically completely irrelevant.
    Demivrgvs said:

    * weapon size/weight (this was irrelevant in vanilla, but within IR dual wielding big/heavy weapons is less efficient, while small/light weapons work best)

    From what I've gathered, your size/weight system only influences offhand THAC0, doesn't it? Given how little the OH actually contributes to damage output (since it's capped on 1 APR, with IH), that penalty is actually not very relevant. Though annoying, it would not be enough to reconsider and pick a different weapon as the most important thing about the OH remain its bonus abilities, not its damage.
    Demivrgvs said:

    * weapon proficiency (e.g. daggers can be used by anyone - it is kinda obvious that a dagger cannot be the weapon of choice for a Barbarian or Berserker, but for a thief I can assure you that daggers are better than long swords or even katanas within IR)

    Why are they better for a thief? Because of backstab? I've gone over the problem of backstabs before in the powergaming thread; basically, it's not very good because of the time it takes to set up. At high APR, you have a very small window in which to perform the BS if you actually want to edge out regular attacks. Think about it, a BS is a x5 hit, but with 10 APR you do 5 attacks within 3 seconds. That gives you preciously little time to go invisible, get into position, and attack. Then of course you need to hit the target; you do get a bonus, but if you miss that one strike, you did 0 damage. It's unlikely you'd miss *all* of your 5 regular attacks you'd do in the same time frame, making it a hedge against variance.

    Note that I'm talking power-setups here, i.e. optimal ones. You can certainly construct situations so that they fit the model to your advantage, but those would not be optimal. I think a theoretical baseline can only work if you assume optimal behavior, otherwise you introduce bias one way or the other.
    Demivrgvs said:

    ONCE/DAY ABILITIES
    Those who know me are well aware that I actually declared war against this. :D Within IR I always strive to favor "while equipped" effects over once/day wand-like abilities, exactly because I don't want amulets or even weapons to perform like wands/potions rather than real equipment. That being said, I reduced the amount of x/day abilities since earlier versions, and will continue to do so if possible (e.g. within next version Spectral Brand will not have a x/day Summon Shadow ability, instead if a target is slayed by the weapon there will be a chance that such target will be "transformed" into a shadow).

    I'm glad to hear that, I was never a fan of those abilities either. I very much prefer weaker but permanent effects, though I understand it's hard to replicate some of them without being completely bonkers (like Righteous Magic). I also understand your desire for cool, unique effects; don't let me deter you from them. Most of my theoretical assumptions have very highly optimized setups in mind, but those are not a common occurrence. I'd even say they make up the minority. That doesn't mean I believe everything should be cool > functional, though, or that balance doesn't matter; but the occasional gem like Spectral Brand is totally fine. The only thing that bugs me about it is that it basically means you have no alternative in its respective weapon type. There is no competitive scimitar around, so you end up not using that type if you want to play optimally. That, in turn, has ramifications throughout the game. If you know you won't have an endgame scimitar to use, why invest points into them at early game? That's an extreme example, of course, and quite some bit of hyperbole; but I think it illustrates my point, and why I voiced a desire in my OP for more selection both in terms of quality and quantity.
    Demivrgvs said:

    UNIQUE WEAPONS
    If you want to point out particular cases go ahead, feedback is always welcome, but afaik each and every weapon type has at least 1-2 outstanding specimens. You may think FoA, Daystar and Celestial Fury are still the only good/obvious picks, but they are not. For example, Staff of Earth's Stone Hold ability or Flame of the North's Freezing effect are good alternatives to Celestial Fury's stunning strikes, and specializing in bastard swords or halberds within IR is going to be as viable as going for the more classic long swords or two-handed swords.

    As for the CF vs. rest debate, I'm sure you see how 100% chance on a 1h weapon is leagues better than 50% on a 2h, even with the nerf to the +APR offhands (not to mention that the staff deals significantly lower damage, too). Maybe I'm being to fussy over small margins here, but that's what I do, I look for an edge, any edge. These things add up after all! And as I pointed out earlier, the stun is only part of it, the damage is another. Flame of the North is definitely competitive in that respect, I grant you that, albeit still being 2h, and harder (i.e. later) to acquire.
    Your example also helps to illustrate my earlier point; why would I use a 1d6 staff over a 2d6 two-hander? It's double the damage! Class availability plays a role, of course, but any class that can use staff but not 2h is pretty much not being utilized optimally already if they do pick the staff, making the decision a moot point. Your mage won't go into melee no matter how hard the staff hits!

    Anyway, another huge wall of text. Writing it, I did get the feeling that I'm being too serious about things, though, and looking at them from too narrow a perspective. Perhaps my nit-picking is just the result of die-hard optimization, which admittedly does not apply to the vast majority of players. While I appreciate theoretical perfection and streamlining, I think that your approach of having fun, cool, fitting effects is completely valid, even at the cost of a point here and there. I may not enjoy it as much as a more power-balanced approach, but I'm not the target audience; other people are, and they have different needs and perspectives than my own.

    I'll still give you a detailed list if you like, but I think that you'll agree that my degree of fine-tuning may be overkill after all, and not worth the headache. Let me know what you think!

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