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RP Frustrations and Annoyances

I'm really enjoying playing thru the Baldur's Gate series for the first time. Excellent characters, good story, fantastic dialog and exciting battles to boot. But when I play I try to role-play and time and time again engine mechanics, and sometimes the frankly incompetence of the designers, frustrates me. I don't expect the designers to have thought of every little thing the player might try to do. But I do expect the game engine not to hit them over the head when they try to RP a little out of the intended box. Here are some examples, scenes if you like, which genuinely happened to me while playing this series. If this frustrates you too, please feel free to add your own experiences to this thread.

There's a less overtly RP reasoning here too - varying how you approach scenes, setpieces, battles, can make for a more enjoyable experience overall. My primary character, a Battlemage of some impressive ability who specialises in duel-wielded wazikasis, is more than capable of taking on one or perhaps two melee opponents at once at this level. But she never does, permanently confined to the back ranks with her Longbow and spells. Likewise the thief - Hexxat in EE - is simply awesome outdoors, and more awesome indoors. But she's almost never in the front ranks of battle next to the tanks. Separating your party for RP reasons can allow you to use these brilliant characters in ways you might not otherwise have needed to. This was particularly the case in BG1 when, having been banned from the city, my Charname and Imoen made use of copious spells of invisibility, lots of sneaking, and the suers, to finish off the Baldur's Gate quests they'd missed earlier in the game, having left the rest of the party safely in Beregost. And much fun was had.

So here is a list of things, in no particular order, which have frustrated me. Please add your own.

AcridSyphilis

Comments

  • stormsaberstormsaber Member Posts: 15
    Gathering the party

    Setting: The Five Flagons (¿?) Inn in Amn's Bridge District, Baldur's Gate 2. The task: find out information for the Shadow Thieves. It's especially grating given this tactic worked fine at the inns in BG1.

    Player: We enter the room and the first thing I notice is, we're conspicuous as hell. Of course some small part of my brain knows we could probably start letting off Fireball spells at the oblivious patrons and it wouldn't interfere with the quest but this is a role-playing game goddamnit, so that's how it's going to go.. 1 heavily armed and armoured foul-tempered dwarf, two half-elves, a gorgeous human female, and a large, imposing 6ft tall human male. No one will be meeting anyone if we don't make ourselves scarce.

    I imagine Charname gesturing subtly to her attentive companions as her eye scans the tavern patrons, her hands underscoring a hurried plan of action. 'Korgan', she whispers to the dwarf. 'Head to the bar. Flog the +2 Axe we found and the Longsword, buy a round with the proceedings, then see what you can find out. Yoshimo, there's a hot one in the corner. Get chatting to her; see what she knows - but don't get so involved you forget to listen out for signs of trouble upstairs. Minsc and Jaheria - you're just an ordinary couple out for quiet drinks. Sit at that empty table. Hexxat - you're with me.'

    This is what I imagined happening. Confident that her companions would support her without question, Charname immediately heads to the stairs, her heart beating fast as she replays the expected scenario in her head, her acute senses only dimly aware of her thief companion moving silently behind her, shadowing her every move. Maybe it wouldn't work. Maybe she wouldn't find out who the contact was, or they'd see through the ruse when they met. Maybe Linvail's information was wrong and nothing would happen here tonight and it was all a big waste of time. She takes a deep breath to centre herself upon reaching the top step. She is the daughter of Baal. She can do anything.

    Suddenly she hears a voice - a blind voice, a dumb voice, a stupid voice. A voice without reason, rhyme nor parley. The voice of God? Perhaps the voice of her dead father. The same voice that she had heard ever since leaving Candlekeep that fateful evening. A voice that cannot be interrupted, nor understood. A voice of complete, unquestionable power. Did others heard this voice? Perhaps they did, perhaps not. All that mattered was that the voice spoke, and must be obeyed.

    "You must gather your party before venturing forth," it said.

  • stormsaberstormsaber Member Posts: 15
    You may not rest here
    Setting: Any time the party is tired and outdoors.

    Sure there are mods that let you rest anywhere. But if I was RPing, do I really *want* to be able to rest anywhere? I never think "this game is too hard, I really wish I could rest anywhere." Never. So normally that's a constraint I'm happy to live with.

    There's a cabin in BG1 which had some dispute over its ownership with a local druid tribe. I think I helped the Druid tribe in the end, leaving it empty and abandoned. At some point later we were making our way back through the forest when the party, in a not very subtle way, lets me know that they'd like a bit of kip. All right, I think, I know just the place. It's raining right now and who knows what might be lurking up ahead. If you can just last a few more hours we'll be able to put our collective feet up in front of the fire and have a nice proverbial nap. That might be a fun target to meet. Avoid enemies, make it to the cabin before everyone passes out from exhaustion. A nice little quest for us.

    When we do finally make it.. "You may not rest here". You may not rest here. You may not rest here.

    Or, you know, on the ground, in the cold and rain outside the cabin, that's works fine too really.

    You must gather your party before resting
    As a player, when I make a game decision, I always try to justify it as RP. If I can't justify it as RP, I always feel like I'm somewhat cheating, because it's out of character. For example if we're to wait around for a few hours until a quest starts, maybe we could stake out the area so we're not surprised when the time comes. Simple, right?

    When we got the quest to support the shadow thieves dock operation it was still early in the afternoon. To the pub for a quick meal and some ale, perhaps some banter with the locals, then I head my party head for the docks. Darkness won't fall for another 4 or 6 hours, and our services wouldn't be needed until a few hours after that. But if we get there early* I scatter the party around the large concourse near the warfs. I imagine Yoshimo bantering with local fisherman about their catch, Jaheira and Minsc (being the most conspicuous of the party) towards the northern area, scanning the square. I imagine Charname and Hexxat buying or stealing beggars robes and bedding down close on the warf next to an old crate, the world blind to them as they watch. My party in position I push the rest button to advance time…

    * Besides, more importantly, having nothing else to do, not wanting to go off on some other quest until we have this one done.

    "You must gather your party before resting."

    FFS..

  • stormsaberstormsaber Member Posts: 15
    General bad level design
    Setting: The forest outside Sarevok's illegal mines in BG1. The task: infiltrate, assault, destroy. Preferably not head-on. Now I'm not exactly expecting Deus Ex here but is the following too unreasonable…?

    When I RP in tabletop D&D I always push for a grounded, tactical approach. I imagine the film noir detectives of old, staking out a target for sometimes days at a time. We once staked out a whisky priest for 3 solid days before we felt confident enough to make the raid. Good intel, always, is key to any successful action. And that's exactly the approach I'd use in real life, too.

    Traveling the old dirt track in standard military convoy formation, our two scouts moving silently a league ahead of the main party, tanks to the side, mages in the middle, we see the fortress' loan patrol before they see us. After signalling to the main party to get off the road and move in to the forest, the scouts go to ground. 15 minutes later, a council of war.

    "We're close," I imagine Imoen saying to Charname. "Did you see that patrol?"

    "Yes," I imagine Charname replying. "A frontal assault would be madness - they already know we're coming for them; we can't let them know we're here."

    Some minutes later, the scouts prepare to move out as the main party sets a look-out and makes themselves as scarce as they can. The brief is deceptively simple: "We need to know as much about the surrounding area as we can," said Charname. "We need to know how often their patrols are, where their patrols go, and try and find somewhere where we can camp tonight without being noticed. Move silently at all times. Then try and get as close to the fortress as you can without being noticed. Surveil it from all sides. There must be a hill or a tree or something you can climb to see inside. We need to know the general layout of the fortress and how many troops they have, but most importantly of all we need to know if there is any other way inside it except the front gate. I don't care if we have to swim across the river at dusk or if I have to summon winged valkyries as a distraction - we're not going in the front gate."

    After a good, thorough look at the map as the scouts return to the main party preparing for rest after their trek through the forest, I mentally curse the incompetence of whoever designed this level.

    Well, a frontal assault could work too I guess…

    Caradoc
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,456
    @stormsaber, your first two examples are legitimate gripes imo, but come from limitations of the computer program, written in 1998 for 1998 computers, so I'm willing to give them suspension of disbelief on those. I just fill in the blanks with my imagination, much as you are doing, even though I can't make the toons actually play it out on the screen the way it's going in my head.

    Your last example just seems to me like good fortress design. If you are conducting a secret mining operation using slave labor, deep in the woods, and you want it well-protected, and your entire evil master plan depends on it, why *wouldn't* you design it with high walls and only one way in or out?

    jackjackDragonspearCalmar
  • ShinShin Member Posts: 2,338
    I as well agree with the first two scenarios. It should be pointed out though that the resting issue is to a great extent alleviated by the "rest anywhere" component of the BG Tweaks mod (though you'll still need to keep your party together to rest).

    The "gather your party" issue is a little trickier but can be worked around as well by any dedicated user. You need an editor like Near Infinity that lets you alter area files. Then take a look here to identify the area you want to change, in this case the ground floor of the Five Flagons Inn, i.e. AR0509 (or AR0522 if it's your stronghold). If you look at this file in Near Infinity you'll see it contains exits to three other areas: the bridge district, the theatre in the basement, and the second floor. All of these exits have the "party required" flag, which is what you should remove if you want to be able to split your party in that location.

    I agree the fix to that issue isn't as intuitive as checking through commonly recommended mods, but even so I feel that for a game this old and this open to user editing, it's the responsibility of any serious player to learn as much as possible about how to enable things he feel are important inside the game. Splitting your party inside the Five Flagons may not be doable by default, but all the tools you need to make it so are certainly at your disposal.


    As for the cloakwood mines fort, well.. like @belgarathmth says, it could be viewed as good design. I don't know that it would necessarily be more immersive to add a (more or less contrived) "stealth option" to every fortress.

  • stormsaberstormsaber Member Posts: 15
    I think any option that allows for more role play vs. less is a good thing to put in a role playing game, no?

    DragonspearStuckinMud
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