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Solo No-Reload Archer/Thief SCS2 Run

I have decided to start a new no-reload run, this time solo, for SCS2. I hope to continue into ToB with Ascension.

Our Charname this time is Rolava, a CG Human Archer who will dual-class to Thief at level 13. This is the Generic Archer custom kit from the Tactics mod, which counts as a fighter class and therefore can dual to thief.

Rolava's stats are:
18/96 STR
18 DEX
16 CON
11 INT
10 CHA
Two pips in Two-handed Sword; four pips in Crossbow.

This is a very late-game oriented dual-class, so we are going to have a lot of trouble early on, particularly as we are running a non-caster class that will not get UAI until Rolava collects over 4 million XP.

The game begins! Once we're out of our cage, we send Imoen away and free Jaheira and Minsc for the extra XP, before sending them off as well. We dodge a couple Lightning Bolts, slay a Mephit, deactivate a machine, and tell Aataqah we have no interest in fighting his Ogre Magi or Gibberlings.

SCS2 replaces the Goblins of Chateau Irenicus with Duergar, so this dungeon is filled with fighter-type enemies. As an Archer, Rolava cannot equip any better than Studded Leather Armor, so her AC is at 3. And since we can only rest once in Irenicus' dungeon before we get interrupted every time, we need to save our resources and pick our battles wisely.

Almost every group of Duergar has a pair of archers with crossbows. Rolava can force them to switch to unarmed combat by running right up to them.

She's still quite vulnerable, but this does help her out a lot. We get a crossbow out of the deal, but unfortunately, we won't be able to use it much before having to switch to melee weapons.

Altogether, we have to fight at minimum five clusters of Duergar, with an additional two if we want to take on Ilyich. Fortunately, with rest until fully healed enabled, we can allow Rolava to drop to single digit HP levels before we rest, and get back all our HP in one rest period. Still, we need lots of potions to stay alive, and careful rationing of our Bhaalspawn powers (two Cure Light Wounds, two Slow Poisons, and two DUHMs).

Mindful positioning was immensely helpful for the Otyugh.

It's immune to missile damage, but we can still outrange it in melee.

Here's an ideal example of positioning with a group of Duergar. I was quite pleased with this situation.

The one archer is forced into melee and all the axe users are out of reach. And with Rolava's two-handed weapon, she can take down the axe users first, so she only has to stand up to one unarmed Duergar for this battle.
Notice that Rolava suddenly has a Katana in her quick weapon slot. It's not because I went back to get it (it's worth 150 gold)--it's because I died once in this playthrough, and a few of these screenshots are from different runs of Chateau Irenicus.

Ilyich is tough. I had hoped to defeat him before he had a chance to use any of his potions, but I was not quick enough.

The Duergar mage wasn't too much trouble, though. I talk-blocked him to death. He dies in two hits from Rolava's crossbow.

I ignore the Cambion and the Air Elemental Plane. The former is just too tough, and the latter has some 6-second stun effects that could easily kill Rolava. I also avoid many of the trapped containers. I only bother to get the Helm of Balduran and the Portal Key.

The Mephit Portal room is tricky. There's a Radiant Mephit that could easily spell my doom on a failed save, so I want to clear the area to keep it safe. I didn't know at the time which portal corresponded to the Radiant Mephit, so I didn't know which one to take down first. Instead, I put Rolava at just the right angle to take out one Mephit Portal before the fight began.

The Radiant Mephit doesn't kill me! The rest of the portals fall in turn.

Beyond killing Frennedan, I have no more fights in this dungeon. They're too risky and offer too little reward, considering my limited inventory space. I talk-block the Assassin on the way out and head to the Circus, now free to rest as much as I please.

Some of the lines in this game are really special.

Kalah's response to playing dumb is absolutely golden. I sell some more loot and buy a Potion of Invisibility.

On to the Slums! Cohrvale and Bregg make an easy low-level encounter. I spend some money identifying the Ring of Human Influence so I can try and charm Cohrvale. I use Call Shot to lower his saving throws.

No such luck. But Rolava is tough enough to bring them down anyhoo.

If we're to get any farther in the game, we need to get Lilarcor. At +3 enchantment and with immunities to charm and confusion, it's a must-have for a low-level fighter. But first we have to deal with some Hobgoblins.

I approach cautiously, making sure I can take down the shaman before he throws out Hold Person.

But there are two shamans in this fight, and another Hold Person comes my way. I drink a Potion of Invisibility so the Hobgoblins can't prey on me if I fail my save.

The potion was unnecessary! I made my save.

Unfortunately, that run failed, since I got webbed by some Improved Spiders beneath the Graveyard. And the previous run, I got paralyzed by the Hobgoblins because the Ring of Air Control's invisibility effect activated too slowly.

So, I had to start over again.

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  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    Surprised you didn't spring for the Army Scythe... isn't it for sale via Bernard? The extra apr until people close is forcing melee sounds handy, and I thought it was pretty cheap. I could be remembering wrong though.

  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    edited February 2015
    I thought the mage dropped a bunch of scrolls, IE saleable loots. :wink: However, sanity is valauble, and not every scrap of loot will be needed for a solo. But I am usually a packrat until I can get a nice, fat gold horde to be able to buy the bare necessities. Firetooth is a good crossbow though, for sure. Probably better damage than the Army Scythe, but iirc it is much, much more expensive. With that Improved Kith though, thats a nice buffer to hide behind. The original form was of dubious value I found, though I usually kept the fellow around for sheer coolness.

    Edit: How soon will you go visit Watcher's Keep? The Manual and the Case would be worth zipping in and out to nab, even if you aren't ready for any fights really. Probably nab those right after Firetooth I suppose.

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,773
    @DreadKhan: Firetooth is indeed more expensive. In fact, it's over twice as expensive as the Light Crossbow of Speed, 13,000 to 6,000 base value.

    I always liked Kitthix, though it was never a big part of my strategy (its Web Tangle did prove extremely helpful in Sil's run, though). Mostly it was just there because I would usually have one warrior who had no spell to cast and therefore was better off summoning Kitthix.

    I am actually terrified of spiders in real life.

    Watcher's Keep will likely be the next one up. Good idea. But it might depend on where the monsters are, and if I can sneak past them with the Ring of Air Control. What good is invisibility if it gets dispelled as you're opening a container next to a gaggle of trolls?

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,773
    With Kitty upgraded, I decided Rolava was ready for some bigger challenges. First up, I tackled some of the undead in the Graveyard District, notably the Crypt King.

    Called Shot synergizes marvelously with Kitty's new attack. Called Shot drops the target's save vs. spell by 1 per hit, and the effect lasts for 15 seconds. Kitty webs the target on a failed save vs. spell with a -2 penalty. With multiple APR and the effects of Called Shot, we can net almost any target that's not immune. Unfortunately, this won't work well with spellcasters, who will have weapon immunities. Kitty has no recourse against PFMW, Mantle, Improved Mantle, or Absolute Immunity. We'll have to play things carefully around enemy mages.

    I returned to the Copper Coronet to get some easy XP from the slavers. Amalas bad-mouthed me on the way. Kitty changed his tone.

    I'm starting to like this spider.

    With the Ring of Air Control, I intended to enter the slaver compound while invisible and seek out an advantageous position. In reality, the positioning made no difference.

    Rolava still got targeted after breaking invisibility, since Kitty likes to teleport to her targets and doesn't stick around to draw enemy fire. But Rolava is still safe from the cleric, since his divination spell failed to reach her (she ran out of its range).

    I'm terrified of the Prismatic Spray trap, so I had Kitty fight the next battle solo.

    She slaughters everybody.

    I have to go outside and enter the slaver compound from the exterior of the Slums if I want to bypass that Prismatic Spray trap, and I have to down a Potion of Frost Giant Strength and cast DUHM in order to bash open the door. I still had to deal with a poison trap, but Rolava has a couple of Slow Poisons available. I cleaned up the whole place, avoiding the remaining traps, but failed to open the door to the Trolls. I don't have a fire weapon to use against them just yet.

    I don't have enough money for Firetooth, but if I go to the de'Arnise Hold, I can get some free Fire Arrows, and buy a shortbow to use against the Trolls once I get back. But I get ambushed along the way.

    For some reason, Rolava couldn't activate the RoAC right away, so she got pummeled a little and hit with Greater Malison. But I have great confidence in Kitty, so I summon her and see how she does.

    The battle has just become unwinnable. I am forced to flee the area.

    Since I have no Potions of Invisibility left, I decide to check out Watcher's Keep instead of going right to the de'Arnise Hold, in the hopes that Garlena sells some of them. She does not.

    I return to Athkatla and search for Potions of Invisibility, but I cannot buy them from Ribald, Roger, the thief in the Slums, or the thief in the Shadow Thief hideout. I give up and decide to leave again, but since I checked Garlena's inventory and Firetooth is only just over 12,000 gold, and I have about 9,000, I decide to wait to finish the Trolls in the slaver compound until after I can afford Firetooth. So, no de'Arnise Hold yet.

    Instead, I head to the Umar Hills, which I understand will not trigger another one of those nasty Orog-heavy ambushes. From there, I go to the Windspear Hills, since I figure I can make some nice money off of the first encounter of the area. Plus, I'll be able to get rid of the Acorns.

    When I reach the first ambush, I talk-block the monsters to give myself enough time to summon Kitty.

    From there, I cast DUHM, turn invisible, and fire at the monsters while they're busy attacking Kitty. They drop a lot of nice loot besides their plate mail.

    At Garren's house, I manage to summon Kitty again before Plath Rededge attacks us. Rolava is also able to activate the RoAC at the beginning of battle, protecting us from any nasty spells Plath might use. I keep Rolava a good distance away from Plath anyway, just in case she tries anything funny (she approached Rolava early on, possibly because she had Slay Living, which I've seen her use before). Rolava still got hit by the orcs a couple times, but the battle went well. Once we've brought the acorns to Vaelasa and gathered up the fallen knights' loot, we return to Garlena. But we don't quite have enough gold.

    So, we head to Trademeet. Rolava drinks a Potion of Insight and speaks to Wilfred the Red in the blue tent to the southwest.

    We see through Wilfred's elaborate facade, and receive 1000 gold in hush money to maintain his reputation for studly heroism.

    Finally, we return to Garlena and buy Firetooth. We now have an end-game weapon, which will help us take down everything from Golems to Trolls. We finish the slaver quest with Firetooth in hand and gain a level.

    Rolava is finally gaining some power. But it won't be long before we'll be back at level 1.

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  • BlackravenBlackraven Member Posts: 3,466

    With Kitty upgraded, I decided Rolava was ready for some bigger challenges. First up, I tackled some of the undead in the Graveyard District, notably the Crypt King.

    I wonder why your Improved Kitthix look like four improved Kitthixes (or at least a Mirror Imaged one) while mine doesn't...

    Anyway, nice work so far.

    I see you're soon off to d'Arnise. Hopefully you are prepared for the Spirit Trolls who cast Flamestrike, Unholy Blight (which may affect you since you're Chaotic Good), and Greater Command and whose invisibility you cannot dispel.

  • MusignyMusigny Member Posts: 1,018
    Improved Kitthix (from the item upgrade) always appears with a mirror image, as far as I know.
    Very powerful.

  • BlackravenBlackraven Member Posts: 3,466
    @Musigny, mine doesn't... :neutral:
    She also doesn't have it as an innate. Oh well, she's powerful anyway.

  • MusignyMusigny Member Posts: 1,018
    Ah interesting.
    In my original BG2 installation it wears the MAGE03 item (mirror image).
    The mod is not installed on my BG2EE game at the moment but I will check.

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,773
    @Blackraven: The Spirit Trolls won't be casting Greater Command in my install, I don't think. I might change the install options, but Rolava doesn't have many defenses against Greater Commands. The Spirit Trolls might not be able to target her when she's under the effects of the RoAC, but they can target Kitty, who might not hold off the enemy long enough for Rolava to survive.

    Rolava is at level 11 and has a base 10 save vs. spells. With the Cloak of Protection, Helm of Balduran, and Ring of Earth Control, it'll be 7, so I would need to down two Potions of Stone Form or two Potions of Invulnerability to achieve immunity, and that's a very expensive prospect considering there are multiple Spirit Trolls in the keep.

    I might just have Kitty fight the Spirit Trolls alone, and have Rolava remain invisible the whole time. But I don't want to rely on Kitty, considering how overpowered she is.

  • BlackravenBlackraven Member Posts: 3,466
    edited February 2015
    I don't have a list, and my knowledge of the game's deadly traps is incomplete. Like @DreadKhan i usually play thieves (and/or shorties with really good saves).

    Maybe it would be good to make a list... Apart from the trap that ended Rolava's run, I can only think of the following traps:

    - petrification in sewers below Copper Coronet (on door that functions as bridge);
    - prismatic spray in Slaver Compound;
    - finger of death in Planar Sphere;
    - petrification on door that leads to Lich's house in Bridge District.

    Post edited by Blackraven on
  • VreejackVreejack Member Posts: 50
    In the original unmodded BG2 I would try to run a party through at level 1. Never tried it no-reload though.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    This isn't really no reload anymore, just only-reload-from-the-beginning.

  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 21,459


    That exact place has become a tomb of many heroes. I feel you, semiticgod.

    As for the petrification/sudden death traps, I find @Blackraven 's list quite solid.

    I can add a trap on the container with the Horn of Valhalla.

    Also, there's a petrification trap in the Maevar's guild, on the 2nd floor.

    Another petrification trap in on the alter in the Mekrath's lair.

    This kind of traps is the reason why it's hard to believe it's possible to solo the game in a blind mode if you're not a thief : ) The constant "Protection from Magic" from the Simulacrum helmet can help.

    I should mention that in the sewers below Copper Coronet there's another bridge to the south that you can cross without any problems.

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,773
    @FinneousPJ: That's kind of what no-reload means. It doesn't mean you give up on any run where Charname dies. It means you don't let yourself just reload whenever something goes wrong. This prevents you from using risky tactics (reload until the enemy fails its save, reload until you make your own save) that rely on luck rather than thought. No-reload is a tactical test, not a means of deleting save games and Charnames.

    @bengoshi: You can also avoid the petrification trap beneath the Copper Coronet by walking on the wooden plank instead of the door. I actually didn't know about the south bridge until somebody mentioned; I always just used the plank.

    I have a special policy for simulacra and magic items in this run. If I use the trick freely, then Rovala can be immune to all spells all the time, which would render all mage battles rather uninteresting. Or, she could use the scroll on the enemy, and prevent the mage from summoning spells as well. Complete immunity to magic or Protection from Undead is a little game-breaking.

    But, if I restrict myself from the trick entirely, then my simulacra will be terribly weak. So, I'll let my simulacra use magic items, but they'll only be able to use them on themselves. This will make Vhailor's Helm useful without making Rovala nearly unkillable.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    @semiticgod But you are reloading when something goes wrong, only from the beginning of the game ;)

  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    No, he is restarting, and since he is only using a BG2 PC, he restarts from there. He is weaker than an imported BG1 PC for sure, so its hard to say if that is really a big edge, other than time. Personally, a restart is not a reload at all.

    Super Simulacrum man is GO!

    @bengoshi I think it is safe to say it would be impossible to blindly solo the game without reloads, even if you are a thief. The game has some nasty surprises for PCs that did not metagame to prepare for certain situations. Though you could get mileage out of Protection From Magic + Simulacrum from the Helm, a first time player will not think of this usually.

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,773
    @FinneousPJ @DreadKhan: To be technical about it, it's not reloading because I was not LOADING an existing save. I was creating a new character who had roughly the same stats and a similar name. I clicked the New Game button, not the Load Game button.

    That said... now that I've worked out a formula for the early game, I might use that as a checkpoint, much as trilogy no-reload runs use the end of BG1 and SoA as checkpoints. So, if I die again, I can start over at this current stage (upgrading Kitty) instead of running through all the same steps again. But I would probably have to go through it one more time to make sure it's really a foolproof formula.

    So, next time I die, I start over at the beginning. But if I then use the formula and pull it off without a hitch (that is, if bad luck could not have ended the run), I'll consider that point to be the new starting point, which will save me a couple hours of monotony if and when I should die yet again.

    For me, no-reload is more about tactics than masochism. Alesia did a trilogy no-reload run with a Bounty Hunter a while back, and though her Charname died in the final battle with Melissan, I consider her run to have been a success, since she later worked out a foolproof formula for winning the final battle. Even if her Bounty Hunter did die once, I still consider Alesia to have finished the first no-reload SCS+Ascension trilogy run, since she came up with a formula that solved the luck problem.

    I don't know if she retried the run with another Bounty Hunter, but if she didn't, I don't think it matters. She still won the challenge.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    @DreadKhan The only difference is technical. The end result is the same as reloading.

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,773
    @FinneousPJ: An additional difference is that restarting imposes a higher cost.

    I don't see why it matters, or why you brought it up. The reason I wanted to try this run was to see if an Archer/Thief could beat the game without relying on luck. It's a measure of the strength of the character and the tactics it uses. I want to learn the strengths and weaknesses of the Archer/Thief, how to maximize the former and minimize the latter.

    What is the alternative to restarting? I could reload when stuff goes wrong, but that would just let me rely on luck to win the game, instead of finding ways to compensate for the Archer/Thief's weak points. I could also not restart at all, and just give up when Charname dies, but that doesn't help me learn anything, either. Is there something I should be doing different?

  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859

    @DreadKhan The only difference is technical. The end result is the same as reloading.

    If by technical you mean 'actual', sure. Reloading is a specific mechanic, one he is not using to date. By your position, once you fail a no-reload EVER with a kit/class/multiclass, that build becomes magically incapable of completing a no-reload. This is a dumb position to take. If his 'repeats' bother you, don't read them. If you think repeating over and over with a similar character with subtle tweaks to streamline strategy is 'tainting' a no reload, you are free to, much like you are free to try forcing round pegs in square holes.

  • BlackravenBlackraven Member Posts: 3,466
    edited February 2015
    @FinneousPJ, to you rerolling a new character and starting a new BG2 game after charname dies is the same as reloading? Interesting concept, one I fail to grasp I'm afraid.
    @semiticgod, instead of rerolling you can also roll a character once and export it. If the character dies you can import the exported CHAR-file at character creation to save some time.

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