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BG2:EE Story Tweaks Mod (FEEDBACK!)

shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
Cross-posted from the BG2 Modding section - that one's looking for help on the programming side, this one's meant for commentary on the creative aspect.

This is a proposal for a BG2:EE Story Tweaks mod, designed to address certain plotholes and inconsistencies in the EE content. The scale of these proposed tweaks is deliberately small and limited, to interfere as minimally as possible with existing game content.

Attached is the general overview; I've been working on dialogue/banter, but decided to pause and gauge interest in the project before committing any more time and effort.

So: feedback/technical suggestions are welcome!

Post edited by shawne on
JalilyFlashburnKamigoroshiJuliusBorisovJarrakulArduljackjackelminster
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Comments

  • TressetTresset Member, Moderator Posts: 8,204
    I wonder why my computer can't read .doc files...

    jackjackCrevsDaak
  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 21,908
    Interesting ideas, shawne, no doubt about it.

    I think everything you wrote about Dorn is fine and could actually be included in the existing content. I especially like the part with the corrupted apple.

    As for Hexxat, I find the Cabrina ideas and the shadow avatar to be fresh. I still doubt your view of Hexxat could be included in the existing content but it could become a wonderful mod.

    Overall, it's a very good effort.

    shawnejackjack
  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    @bengoshi: To the contrary, I intend to prove that "fixing" Hexxat is as simple as changing the words "the sun" to "my family".

  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    As a technical suggestion, you could apply a transparency effect to Hexxat instead of changing her animation. Then you could modify her colors to make her more shadow-like, without making her look less like herself.

    I would also ask, why not just make Hexxat a Shadowdancer to begin with? It would make her stand out in the party (in a way that's separate from her being a vampire), and make her transformation feel like a more natural progression thematically, as well as letting the player get used to her different style of play before reaching that crossroads.

    I like the twist of letting Cabrina take her place if she dies. The loss of a party member is something that never sat quite right with me.

    shawneJarrakuljackjack
  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    edited March 2015
    @Dee: In-story, it's a karmic punishment for Hexxat "jumping the gun" and breaking her word (similar to the way Edwin's impatience with the Nether Scrolls comes back to bite him). For all his bluster, Korkorran isn't Larloch; and so he "miscasts" Hexxat's restoration, leaving her in worse condition than before (because now she doesn't even have a proper body anymore).

    Mechanically, the scenario is meant to give a bit more visible/tangible evidence of player agency: siding with Larloch or Korkorran should matter as much as Shadow Thieves vs. Bodhi or Windspear vs. Firkraag. The Shadowdancer abilities would simply be compensation for the loss of her vampiric powers in that case; I'm hoping it might head off complaints of her being overpowered or nerfed as a result of the change (since she's just exchanging one set of talents for another).

    Is it possible to change a sprite's entire palette - clothes, skin, hair - to the same color in-game, similar to Adalon's drow disguises? That might be another way to go about it...

    Having Cabrina step in was the best solution I could come up with for the manpower problem; otherwise, you'd have to delay Hexxat's ToB quest until after defeating Sendai and Abazigal (since a thief is still required for locks and traps during those levels).

    Post edited by shawne on
  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    Is it possible to change a sprite's entire palette - clothes, skin, hair - to the same color in-game, similar to Adalon's drow disguises? That might be another way to go about it...
    It certainly is. When you add the item that gives her the shadow abilities, just add "Color Effect" effects to each of her color locations. You can even have it override her armor, I think, although I haven't experimented with it enough to know for certain, and you might not want to do that anyway depending on how you want her shadow essence to work.

    shawne
  • JarrakulJarrakul Member Posts: 2,029
    I have fewer complaints about Dorn's and Hexxat's quests than a lot of people around here, but I do rather like the proposed changes.

    I will say, Shadow-Hexxat seems a bit tricky. I strongly agree with Dee about Shadow-Hexxat's character model. Changing all her colors to black and adding a slight transparency effect (such as the one on the Ring of Duplication) would be more appealing than changing her avatar entirely. I'm also not entirely sold on the idea of making her a Shadowdaner, just because of the sheer amount of changes that would have to be made to thief skills and HLAs and such. Maybe just give her some of the shadowdancer abilities to replace her vampiric ones. She also probably shouldn't become more resistant to sunlight after becoming a shadow, although I'm not quite sure how you'd want to handle that, mechanically-speaking.

    I should also note, regarding Cabrina, that elves can't dual-class. It wouldn't be the first time an NPC broke the rules, of course, but it's something to consider.

    While you're at it, it might be worth considering adding an option to allow CHARNAME to become Dorn's patron in TOB, if he falls in SOA. Once you have a pocket plane, that doesn't seem like a stretch to me.

    shawne
  • TressetTresset Member, Moderator Posts: 8,204
    Am I missing something here? You have captured the interests of both Dee and Jalily... That alone makes me wonder what is in the .doc that my computer can't read...

    jackjackCrevsDaak
  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    edited March 2015
    Dee said:

    It certainly is. When you add the item that gives her the shadow abilities, just add "Color Effect" effects to each of her color locations. You can even have it override her armor, I think, although I haven't experimented with it enough to know for certain, and you might not want to do that anyway depending on how you want her shadow essence to work.

    I did a bit of experimenting via EE Keeper. This is what Hexxat looks like with all color locations set to 0x88, sans armor:

    image

    And this is what she looks like with armor:

    image

    Maybe the solution is to transfer her amulet properties to a set of 0x88 black armor, and have it be irremovable? At least that won't interfere with the color scheme...
    Jarrakul said:

    I will say, Shadow-Hexxat seems a bit tricky. I strongly agree with Dee about Shadow-Hexxat's character model. Changing all her colors to black and adding a slight transparency effect (such as the one on the Ring of Duplication) would be more appealing than changing her avatar entirely.

    I agree as well, especially since it doesn't seem possible to have "Shadow" appear instead of "Vampire" on her character record screen.
    Jarrakul said:

    I'm also not entirely sold on the idea of making her a Shadowdaner, just because of the sheer amount of changes that would have to be made to thief skills and HLAs and such. Maybe just give her some of the shadowdancer abilities to replace her vampiric ones. She also probably shouldn't become more resistant to sunlight after becoming a shadow, although I'm not quite sure how you'd want to handle that, mechanically-speaking.

    Can Shadowdancer abilities be assigned to a non-Shadowdancer thief, though? Maybe by switching Shadow Form for Blood Drain, Shadow Maze for Children of the Night and Shadow Twin for Domination? That would allow her to use the powers without having to change the way her skill points have been distributed.

    I actually have no idea how sunlight would affect a Shadow party member in terms of lore/mechanics - the simplest solution would probably be to have her keep using Dragomir's Cloak as needed, but that seems a bit repetitive since she'd have to keep doing that as a vampire too. I'd prefer an approach similar to Dorn here, where Shadow-Hexxat is technically more powerful/useful than her previous form but that the upgrade comes with a heavy cost (at least story-wise).
    Jarrakul said:

    I should also note, regarding Cabrina, that elves can't dual-class. It wouldn't be the first time an NPC broke the rules, of course, but it's something to consider.

    Ah, I hadn't accounted for that when I pulled her stats from her Creature file. Plain Bounty Hunter will do, then.
    Jarrakul said:

    While you're at it, it might be worth considering adding an option to allow CHARNAME to become Dorn's patron in TOB, if he falls in SOA. Once you have a pocket plane, that doesn't seem like a stretch to me.

    Already covered in the proposed new epilogue. ;)

    jackjack
  • TressetTresset Member, Moderator Posts: 8,204
    Yeah, .pdf should work for me. But unfortunately I saw you talking about "L" and since I suspect that means ToB spoilers I can't really read anyway until I finish my wild mage run with Hexxat (which I started before the game was even released). Restartitis and all ya' know...

    jackjackCrevsDaak
  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    Updated with suggestions from Dee and Jarrakul. Still looking for modding assistance.

  • bob_vengbob_veng Member Posts: 2,307
    this is simply great. i agree with everything the way it's proposed.

    shadow hexxat is awesome.

    she would lose vampire augmented stats, right?

    shawne
  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    bob_veng said:

    this is simply great. i agree with everything the way it's proposed.

    Thanks! Hopefully I'll find someone who can help me implement it someday. :)
    bob_veng said:

    shadow hexxat is awesome.

    she would lose vampire augmented stats, right?

    Actually, I'd have it go the other way around - she'd have the same stats, maybe with permanent invisibility and/or an AC boost, and she wouldn't need the Cloak of Dragomir anymore. The idea is that she's actually more powerful as a Shadow, but the cost is absolutely devastating to her (that provides a nice thematic contrast with Dorn, who wouldn't have cared about the price of that kind of upgrade).

  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    According to the precedent set by BGII, shadows get destroyed in direct sunlight. So you'll need to account for that somehow in the lore (although just not implementing that piece of it would actually be easier from the scripting side).

    shawne
  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    edited May 2015
    Dee said:

    According to the precedent set by BGII, shadows get destroyed in direct sunlight. So you'll need to account for that somehow in the lore (although just not implementing that piece of it would actually be easier from the scripting side).

    Eh, BG2 also establishes that vampires drain levels on hit. Hexxat's a rule-breaker. *shrug*

    Maybe that can be Larloch's reward in lieu of restoring her humanity - he destroys the Cloak of Dragomir and uses its magic to cast a permanent Protection From Sunlight spell.

  • bob_vengbob_veng Member Posts: 2,307
    edited May 2015
    i don't think that that's a general precedent because it's just the shadows that appear on a specific location that are of a specific origin and they're destroyed by a divinely imbued item, not actual sunlight

    @shawne oh i see. i thought she would be getting more powerful just because of free HLAs. but were they meant to be free uses (i presume one of each) or just selectable on level-up?

    edited to restore accidentally deleted part

    Post edited by bob_veng on
  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    bob_veng said:

    oh i see. i thought she would be getting more powerful just because of free HLAs. but were they meant to be free uses (i presume one of each) or just selectable on level-up?

    Well, the idea - bearing in mind that I really want to do the most I can story-wise with the least amount of coding/programming work possible - is as follows:

    In her default state, Hexxat's amulet is the item that confers all her vampiric abilities as well as her inability to use certain items and her vulnerability to sunlight. That's why the amulet can't be removed, because she'd just be a human thief otherwise.

    When the transformation effect takes place, the amulet is destroyed and replaced with a similar item, a set of armor that contains the following traits:

    1) It changes all color points on Hexxat's paper doll to black (and since the suit can't come off, it'll give her new form a consistent look).

    2) It gives her the Shadowdancer HLAs as special abilities, similar to how the amulet gives her Blood Drain, Domination and Children of the Night.

    3) There should be some other unique attribute that functions as an additional power boost - my first thought was permanent invisibility (like the Staff of the Magi) but I'm not sure what would happen if someone cast True Seeing or Dispel Magic on her. Definitely something I'll devote some more thought to.

  • bob_vengbob_veng Member Posts: 2,307
    those free hlas are a great advantage. it's bound to make her a monster


    i have an idea...
    she's a shadow which means she's incorporeal and shouldn't be able to wield weapons

    truly she *is* incorporeal

    but her default state is actually the one in which she first appears where she's only semi-incorporeal.
    even though it's the default form in terms of mechanics it can't be sustained forever.
    this is because in this partial-shadow form, her substance dissipates, she loses hp relatively rapidly. this can't be stopped.
    so to prevent herself from perishing she lets herself regress into stable incorporeality (actually transform via special ability button) of a true shadow which works as following:

    - she's unable to use weapons (they remain equipped but are replaced with a permanent "spell weapon") and instead relies on strength draining attacks (maybe 1d6 str damage). they do very little physical damage
    - unable to set traps
    - has the 'shadow form HLA' effects permanently (improved invisibility status including actual being invisible which is broken in normal ways, 50% physical resistance)
    - additional vast immunities and resistances (various, normal weapons, 50% elemenal resistance, 100% poison, saving throw bonuses; a notable thing she *doesn't* have is innate magic resistance)
    - only has a fraction of her hp (less than half; maybe fixed max hp such as 36hp)
    - regeneration

    after transforming into a shadow to survive she can again reemerge in her semi-corporeal form, after a cooldown (unlimited number of uses) and then:

    - is able to use weapons (spell weapon goes away) and set traps
    - has no special immunities- is restored to full hp; loses hp steadily

    in this form she can *at any time and without cooldown* regress into the stable state

    she can use the shadow twin and shadow maze abilities once per day in either form. she doesn't get the shadow form ability because it's already incorporated into one of her basic states

    her armor, head, boots and bracers slots should be all occupied by shadow-something-something
    but she should be able to use other items normally in either form

    however, ideally, she wouldn't be able to use healing potions and receive healing

    how's this look? :smile:

  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    edited May 2015
    Honestly? I think it's a bit much.

    As I told Dee, Hexxat is already lore-incompatible, there's nothing that can be done about that without turning her into Valen. So within that framework, I'd much prefer simple solutions over Weimer-level complications. Remember that this is happening towards the end of ToB; it's far too late in the game to introduce so many fundamental changes to a party member.

    Post edited by shawne on
  • bob_vengbob_veng Member Posts: 2,307
    edited May 2015
    it looks complicated on paper but in practice it would work very simply...it's too complicated to implement i know.

    imho it'd be nice to give her some disadvantage

    incorporality is usually associated with being unable to interact with physical objects and also when corporeal creatures become incorporeal they lose a portion of hp (later edition rules)
    also str draining ability i think is a necessary thing for a shadow creature

    edit:

    how about something simpler

    she still has two states:

    state #1 - low str, permanent shadow form effects, regeneration
    state #2 - high str, loses shadow form effects, "bleeding"

    - max hp doesn't change & no other resistances or immunities
    - she has several uses of a str draining touch power she can use any time

    Post edited by bob_veng on
  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    The problem, from my POV, is that saddling her with a different disadvantage just loops her back to where she was before - which is exactly what's wrong with her story in the first place.

    In the context of the mod, there are three possible outcomes to Hexxat's ToB quest: she dies and is replaced by Cabrina; she remains a vampire; she becomes a shadow. Each of these have to be different enough to justify the player's agency in that moment.

    From Hexxat's perspective, being a shadow is probably the only thing worse than being a vampire; the only thing you could say to her at that point that might convince her otherwise is that she's actually more powerful now than ever before. For that to be true, Shadow-Hexxat has to be a net improvement over the original, without crossing the line into OP territory.

  • bob_vengbob_veng Member Posts: 2,307
    don't you think that overall the above concept is still more powerful? i mean she has improved invisibility she can pop into unlimited times a day

    i'm mainly aesthetically concerned with giving her an ability called 'shadow form' when she's already more of a shadow than a shadowdancer emulating a shadow will ever be :smile:

  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    edited May 2015
    I just think ToB is way too late to be introducing so many moving parts, different forms with different mechanics/traits... again, Keeping It Simple is the prime directive here.

    One possibility occurs to me: if her Shadow Form could be implemented as a permanent attribute of her armor (50% physical resistance plus Improved Invisibility), then her third special ability could be Shadow Step instead.

    Maybe @Dee can clarify - is it possible to have a character become permanently invisible? What happens if someone uses True Seeing or Glitterdust?

  • JalilyJalily Member Posts: 4,681
    edited May 2015
    shawne said:

    is it possible to have a character become permanently invisible? What happens if someone uses True Seeing or Glitterdust?

    You can give her permanent, undispellable invisibility through her equipment. Note that this means you can't rerecruit her normally, as the PC won't be able to initiate dialogue with an invisible character out of the party.

    shawne
  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    @Jalily: Excellent point - also, unless I'm mistaken, this would also mean that no enemy would ever target Hexxat at all, right? The only way she'd ever take damage is if someone launched an AoE spell in her general vicinity. Too OP by far, I think.

    Perhaps permanent Wraithform instead?

  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    You could give her a permanent miss chance similar to Blur; people can see her, they just can't hit her reliably.

    lolienshawneNimran
  • bob_vengbob_veng Member Posts: 2,307
    edited May 2015
    shawne said:

    @Jalily: Excellent point - also, unless I'm mistaken, this would also mean that no enemy would ever target Hexxat at all, right? The only way she'd ever take damage is if someone launched an AoE spell in her general vicinity. Too OP by far, I think.

    Perhaps permanent Wraithform instead?

    that's why i brought up the transformation concept
    there she has innate improved invisibility which is activated upon "shapeshifting" - it's breakable but the protective bonuses remain

    you lose the innate status upon shifting-back but regain it on subsequent shapeshifting

    i think honestly that this is the best way to include invisibility in the equation

    this is similar to giving her many uses of shadow form

    except calling it shadow form in the first place is a bit lame and many uses of it would probably be op so i've come up with some disadvantages too...

    ***
    putting that on side...
    permanent wraithform is a good idea
    other than that, permanent shadow form implemented by the way of 50% phys + toggleable many uses imp.invisibility is imho also ok (but that could be balanced out by subtracting some hp after korkorran)
    permanent blur is imho a less great idea because it's not so consistent with her near-shadowdancer way of functioning. (edit: @dee - sorry you said "similar to blur"; but even that i think doesn't mesh well with the fact that in bg the miss-percentage when attacking incorporals seems to be translated to 50% phys resist which can be seen in the shadow step hla; i'd have done the same as a designer because you can't properly emulate it by AC or any other mechanic other than phys resist afaik)

    ***
    edit: hey how 'bout this (none of my potential future posts on this thread will be longer than a single paragraph i promise)

    GREATER SHADOW FORM (special ability instead of shadow form)

    - 50% resistance to both physical and elemental but not to magic
    - improved invisibility
    - immunity to normal weapons
    - str drain on hit

    shawne
  • shawneshawne Member Posts: 3,239
    @bob_veng: I'd prefer to avoid introducing a transformation mechanic to a character who didn't have one before - again, it seems like an unnecessary complication, especially since it would just lead to more micro-management.

    That said, I agree that 50% physical/elemental resistance is probably the best way to mimic the miss percentage.

    My concern re: STR drain is because that's exactly where the Valen mod got so screwy: she'd need to use her bare hands, which means no backstabbing (and Hexxat already has a leg up in that she'd have Shadowdancer abilities coupled with a thief's multiplier); and killing characters through STR/level drain can cause gamestopping glitches, particularly with someone like Sendai. It would be lore-appropriate and a proper upgrade, but I'm convinced it would cause more problems than it'd solve.

  • DeeDee Member Posts: 10,447
    That is the key, isn't it? You want Hexxat to "feel" like a Shadow, without actually making her one--because doing that would mean altering the way that the player interacts with the game, and that's not what you want to do.

    I would target effects and abilities that make Hexxat "feel" like a Shadow. Your instinct to use existing spells and mechanics is a good one.

    I would give Hexxat the Shadow Step ability straight off; it's relatively minor in the grand scheme, and it's full of flavor. Then I would give her immunity to nonmagical weapons (which won't be super powerful in ToB where most enemies wield +1 or better weapons anyway), and to be honest that should probably be enough. I would also consider giving her a permanent "Frozen Fists" effect (like from the Dark Moon Monk). It will only affect her fists when she's unarmed, but it won't prevent her from using weapons, and it adds nice flavor which is always good.

    I'd bump her Dexterity up, especially since you're taking away her ability to wear better armor. I'd drop her Strength down to 10, and then I would give her an innate +5 (or possibly less; use your judgment) to THAC0 to represent a shadow's quick reflexes.

    You shouldn't really need to do much more than that, unless you want to give her one of the Shadowdancer HLAs.

    shawne
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