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Rolled characters vs. game-provided NPCs

FalkeepFalkeep Member Posts: 41
edited June 2018 in Feature Requests

For the record, I play on normal level (not story / easy level). I don't mind fighting and even losing battles where I might have to reload a bunch of times to figure out how to win those battles, but I want the best party with the best equipment, etc. I play simply for my own enjoyment, not to somehow drive myself to "master" the game... I just want to get through it. I also usually create my own party of characters because it is easy to roll better characters than the ones we have the option of finding in the game. While this results in me having a good, strong party, it also means that I miss on most interactions and quests that go along with adding various NPCs to your party. I usually leave one slot open to add an NPC... that I have to carry, because they usually don't carry their own weight compared to the rolled characters I have in my party... but even that severely hampers the "story telling" aspects of the game. For example, I can't add pairs of characters, or get the achievements for having certain combinations of characters in my party.

Again, I understand the "richness" of the storytelling aspects of the game with the NPCs but, honestly, I don't think that there is a single one I would pick "in real life" to go on adventures with because I wouldn't be able to count on them to survive, or fulfill their given roles in a party. For example, when I roll for a character, I will roll until I have between, say, 91-95+ stat points to allocate to a character. None of the NPCs come anywhere close to that with their own stats. In addition, I feel an investment in characters I create that I don't with NPCs. What I wish we could have the option of is to have a party of rolled characters and then have a max of, say, 4 or 5 NPCs "tag along" with my party without being a part of it. We could interact, have discussions, fulfill their quests, romance them, maybe even be able to resurrect them and "help them" chose what abilities they will improve when they level up, etc. but we wouldn't be able to equip them, or order them what to do in a fight, etc.

I would also like to say, when I started playing original pen and paper D&D in 1975, we had the view that people who would be good at, and even survive a game needed to be extraordinary. We learned from hard experience with rigidly rolling three dice for each stat and applying them as they were rolled for a specific stat, we didn't even pick which roll total went with which stat. Picking a class was done based on the rolled stats we got... for example, if your first roll gave you a 5 for STR, you probably weren't going to make that character a fighter. We learned that "ordinary" / "average" characters didn't survive very well or very long. That was when we started fooling around with different systems to roll characters to maximize what stats each character had. That is how I feel about the NPCs, they are ordinary, average people... and I just don't find any enjoyment covering for them, or wasting extra time keeping them alive or figuring out how to maximize the little they could do in a fight.

Anyway, I would like there to be an option to incorporate NPCs while having up to 5 rolled characters in your party permanently.

Post edited by Falkeep on
lost1mashedtaters

Comments

  • GusindaGusinda Member Posts: 1,332
    Hi @Falkeep, which version of BG are you playing? I say this as the 2.3 version (at least on the PC) has a 'Create Party' button on the creation screen. It allows you to create more than one character at the start. Is this what you mean?

    Gus

  • FalkeepFalkeep Member Posts: 41
    edited June 2018
    No, that is not what I mean. I know how to create a solo multi-character game. I've been doing that since I first played the original BG (pre-EE).

    What I'm asking about is if a feature could be added where you create a base party of rolled characters (up to 5 or 6). If you make a full party and want to still complete NPC quests, that you can ask them to "tag along" with your party. If you do this, you surrender control over what those NPCs do, or how they participate / behave in a fight. But you could still talk to them, engage with them, and work to fulfill their quests.

    I ask this because, when I've tried to remove one of my rolled characters in order to actually add an NPC, there is no way for me to later remove that NPC AND put the rolled character I first removed back into my party.

    They way I have always played is that I have a party of 5 rolled characters which leaves me with a single slot for adding NPCs. This, however, does not leave me with an option to do quests that require a specific pair of NPCs, or of adding several NPCs for different achievements without having to disrupt my core party of rolled characters.

    Does that make sense?

    Post edited by Falkeep on
    Gusindalost1
  • thelovebatthelovebat Member Posts: 218
    edited June 2018
    To be fair, while you will always be able to roll up mostly better characters than what the in-game NPCs are, some of those characters have special abilities or characteristics that make them unique from rolling up your own character (at least from playing Baldur's Gate). I've never really had any difficulty with the available characters in the first Baldur's Gate game as particularly with good aligned parties you get plenty of options for all your needs. As far as character stats and viability go, neutral aligned characters in that game tend to get the short end of the stick. By the time you reach Baldur's Gate 2, characters can end up being developed enough where how the character is built becomes quite important, and not having an 18 in every key stat doesn't mean they'll be underpowered or not viable.

    Now if you wanted this sort of feature while playing multiplayer games with other people, I could understand. Because if you played with a larger party of people, then you may not be able to bring along NPCs for their respective quests or you'd have to boot out one of the players that's in your party potentially. But this would really only apply if you were to have 5 or more people in a session, and I personally have a hard time just finding one or two people to join me for a playthrough.

    For Baldur's Gate 1 you can invest tomes into your own character to raise their stats, but as far as what you can get naturally in character creation and sticking with those stats some in-game NPCs still stack up decently well and have their interesting personalities and voice sets to match.

    Here are some things which relate to the first game and NPCs.

    You can't start off with a stat of 20 in any stat, and two NPCs have that. Several other NPCs have a stat of 19 in something. 2 of the NPCs are dark elves, something you can't roll up yourself for an evil character. Coran is a Fighter/Thief with not only the 20 Dexterity, but with 3 skill points in longbows, a stat of 20 you don't naturally have with a created character and you can't normally be that skilled with a weapon as a multiclass. Yeslick gets an innate Dispel Magic ability (nerfed heavily in a recent patch, but he does have it). Minsc has a really high Strength and a Rage ability, along with a cute miniature giant space hamster. You can't be a Ranger and get that same sort of ability (and Minsc's hamster is one of a kind). Dorn is a Paladin while also a Half-Orc, something you can't roll up at character creation (he also comes with a unique sword). Edwin gets a special item that gives him more spellcasting, an item that is only usable by him. Rasaad gets his special boots which boost his AC which only he can use. Xan gets a moonblade, a really awesome weapon (too bad he's not a Fighter/Mage by default). And etc.

    A number of the NPCs (a fair amount, though not all of them) have something unique which provides them a nice thing that makes them stand out from the crowd, and some of them also have some generally nice stats on top of that. Someone like Imoen for example may not have 'ideal' metagame stats. But as a Thief, you don't need a high Strength if you're just using shortbows, her Dexterity is as high as it can go, her Constitution gives her the max HP bonus per level a Thief can get, and an Intelligence of 17 is good enough to allow her to dual class and give you a versatile character who casts spells and does Thief things. Edwin has generally low overall stats if you added them all up together, but he has the stats that count which are Intelligence and Constitution giving him the best benefit. Viconia has a 19 Dexterity making her a nice ranged Cleric who will be harder to hit, even if her Strength is subpar for armor her Dexterity is great and she has that Drow magic resistance.

    lost1Skatan
  • brunardobrunardo Member Posts: 508
    I like the RPG aspect so much always prefer NPCs and dialogue between em, except for IWD, but enough of the NPCs are OP enough (Korgan, edwin, Dorn etc) and items can compensate the weaker ones.

    mashedtaters
  • FalkeepFalkeep Member Posts: 41
    edited June 2018
    I started playing D&D when I was 15, in 1975... in the days when it was still the three little booklets. It was mind-blowing when the Greyhawk supplemental booklet came out. What wasn't known then was that I was a high-functioning autistic (Asperger's) and severely introverted. I invested myself in the game and my character, focused much of myself in him. Then in 1977, some of the players in my group decided that it would be fun to murder my character by shooting him full of arrows in the back on a dungeon crawl, it absolutely devastated me and I kind of fell apart in the real world, because they just laughed at me and made it clear that they just got tired of playing with me because I was strange. For a long time afterwards, I wouldn't even go near a D&D game, especially as I learned to understand how potentially damaging it was to myself to immerse myself into a fictional character.

    When games like 'A Bard's Tale' and, later, 'Baldur's Gate' came along I would play them but I would never let myself take that step of getting invested in the role playing aspects of the games. When I play now, I play mainly as a way to eat up minutes and hours in my life as I get ever older. I'm not trying to role play (although I do follow my own personal moral code with my characters), I'm not trying to imagine any aspects of my characters lives, or how they would interact with anyone else. I play alone, never on-line with other real people, just by myself. I'm not very good at playing mages or clerics, my clerics are mainly for healing, and mages are mainly used to cast straight-forward offensive spells like magic missiles and fireballs, and to use wands like fireball and frost. I also use explosive potions, arrows of detonation, explosive necklaces, and the Victor ring as much as I can because I think it is fun to just blow my opponent up ("There is no personal problem so great it cannot be solved with the proper application of high explosives"). I do get better about some things as I play them more but I am still simply trying to get through to the end of the game and then move on the next one. I am a very simplistic player. It is safer that way.

    So, I prefer to have my own characters to play, characters that are tough enough to just tank my way through the game, characters who I can count on to mostly survive. I want stats as good as I can get with the best equipment I can get. That is why I really have no interest in playing just one or two rolled characters and pick up NPCs along the way to round out my party and fill up my slots. But I am going to try to make it through a game with just two rolled characters... my primary character and a thief. I do not try to finesse the game, or get into the role playing aspects, I don't want to... I just want to get through the game a few hours closer to death.

    Does that make sense?

    Post edited by Falkeep on
    Zaghoulronaldo
  • SkatanSkatan Member, Moderator Posts: 3,954
    It does make sense, but sometimes it's hard to eat the cake and still have it. So you want all the benefits of a created party but still keep the option to stack up NPCs which, if I read your post right, means you want to roll with 10 characters on screen at a time, 5 premade and 5 NPCs. Even if you, as per your suggestion, can't directly control the NPCs, unleashing 10 chars on the enemies is just such a massive overkill there would be no challenge what so ever. I don't care about challenge though, it is a single player game and you have the right to play it the way you want, but asking the dev's to crete something this unique to tailormake the game to fit your very precise way of playing? Well.. that's asking for quite alot IMHO. Again, not judging, just stating what I think.

    If I may give one suggestion it would be to remove one of your created character but then play as usual, so playing with 4 IIUC. Then the next round, remove one more and play with 3 premade chars. Trust me, you can steamroll the game with 3 premade characters on normal/core. Then you have room for a couple of NPCs, and IIRC, there's no interactions that require more than 3 NPCs at a time. I might be wrong though, I'm no expert.

    Falkeep
  • FalkeepFalkeep Member Posts: 41
    Overwhelming an enemy is usually not a problem as it is. Sometimes I have to reload 1 or 12 times to get through an encounter. Some I just need to walk away from and come back when I'm a higher level. I really don't even care if the NPCs in that case wouldn't do anything to contribute to a battle. I just want to see what it's like having the interactions and the quests that I can't do with a party of rolled characters.

    And as for you judging me or not, I wouldn't take it as such, at least not more than most people would because, yes, it would be pretty much a single-person request. But even if we could just let rolled characters be dropped and come back and get them later would be nice. If you remove a rolled character, the are where you leave them, but you can't put them back into your party. Another feature you could do in old BG was reload a saved game, and click on the characters you want to drop and who you want to add in. As long as you kept your main character, at any point in the game when you load a save game, you can change the make-up of your team with any saved / exported character in your bullpen.

    Skatan
  • KenethKeneth Member Posts: 18
    Falkeep said:

    For example, when I roll for a character, I will roll until I have between, say, 91-95+ stat points to allocate to a character. None of the NPCs come anywhere close to that with their own stats.

    That's because it's an inordinately high stat range. You're not supposed to roll the dice until you get to 90+, the game simply allows you to do so. You might as well be pressing ctrl+8 and set them to whatever you want them to be. Most companions have stats in the order of around 80 points and that's still slightly above average for you standard 4d6b3 roll per stat that most people use for D&D. So, "in real life", that is to say in a proper game of D&D, you'd probably be glad to have any of them along.

    But anyway, that's all besides the point. It's not impossible to turn a companion NPC into a follower, but what you're asking for is so niche and would require such a massive time investment from the devs that I just don't see it happening.

    However, there already exist mods that allow you to seamlessly dismiss and recruit back custom characters. I suppose the devs could integrate that feature into the game itself, but you know, it takes you like five minutes to install the necessary mods. Or, if you don't mind a more hackish way, enable debug mode and use ctrl+q to add the characters back into the party.

    I'm also pretty sure you can still control your party composition in a multiplayer game as you could before (unless I missed a memo). I don't think you ever had that option in a single player game but I haven't played the original in a very long time.

  • FalkeepFalkeep Member Posts: 41
    edited June 2018
    Keneth, I was trying very hard to explain my own situation. No, I would not expect anyone to invest the time or effort in making such a change just for me, but I would like it if they did. I am under no delusions about how many people would want that.

    I also tried to explain that I do not do this to make it difficult and challenging, I do it to have the best characters I can get... and don't tell me what I am or am not "supposed to do". The game has the capability to reroll and I am not using any mods or doing anything to trick the game. What I am doing is perfectly legal and is built into the game. So, just because YOU wouldn't take the time required to get the best character possible, you have no right to judge me for being willing to utilize such a built-in function of the game.

    If YOU want to roll once and take what you get, fine, great, knock yourself out. It doesn't bother me that people really invest in the role-playing aspect and to say that anything in such a game is "realistic" is rather ridiculous. BTW, I never knew about a ctrl 8 function. I'll have to try it out. Your response and reaction perfectly illustrate why I don't play on-line with other real people. I'm just doing this to have fun and, as I said many times, use up time. I neither need or want someone like you in a party with me because I don't need the judgmental attitude.

    Oh, and when I first played pen and paper D&D, we rolled 3d6... your first roll was you STR, you again rolled 3d6 and that was your CON, etc. VERY strict... and we all had a lot of characters die at low levels. I went through all of that 43 years ago, when I was a kid. Get off my back.

    Post edited by Falkeep on
  • mashedtatersmashedtaters Member Posts: 1,848
    Hey @Falkeep !

    I totally sympathize with you. I played IWD first, and was like, “Wuuuut?” when I first started playing BG1&2. Even now, after years of playing, I still don’t like the idea of not creating my own party. I think it’s why I’ve always wanted to make my own mods.

    But I assure you that the additional story and entertainment you get from the joinable NPCs is totally worth it.

    Can I make some suggestions that I used to help me get my feet wet?

    First, you can edit the NPCs to be different classes if you want. You can do this multiple ways. One easy way is to google and download the Level One NPCs mod. This allows you to change character classes of NPCs.

    Alternatively, you can use Shadowkeeper (or EEKeeper for the enhanced edition games) to edit NPC character classes after you meet them. This is how I like to do it. For example, I don’t like druids, but I like Jaheira, so I usually edit her to a Ranger/Cleric.
    Be aware, however, that there is a specific method of doing it. I have not used the mod I sourced above, but I think this is a little more easy than using EEKeeper. Make sure you follow the instructions in this thread:
    https://sorcerers.net/community/threads/changing-classes-with-shadowkeeper.20510/

    You can also use EEKeeper to edit the attributes of the NPCs in your party. This is really useful if you, for example, you like Imoen but wish she could carry more gear, or you want Viconia to tag along, but wished she could take a bigger hit.

    The other thing that I think would help you and you would later find as absolutely vital is the BGTweaks Anotholgoy Mod. This is a freaking huge mod that does a ton of things, but the one that I feel could be useful in your case is the tweak that allows you to tell multiplayer created NPCs to either “wait here” or “go to an inn and wait there” by talking to them.

    Here is the mod:
    http://www.gibberlings3.net/tweaks/

    The change you want is listed under “content changes” as:

    “Improved Multi-Player Kick-out Dialogues
    BGEE, BG2EE, IWDEE, EET, BG (requires TotSC), BG2, BGT, Tutu, IWD-in-BG2

    This allows you to ask multi-player created NPCs to "wait here" or go to a nearby meeting place. For BG2EE/EET/BG2/BGT, options are added to send NPCs to the Copper Coronet or the Pocket Plane. For BGEE/EET/BG/Tutu, options are added to send NPCs to the Friendly Arms Inn, Jovial Juggler in Beregost, the Temple of Helm in Nashkel, or the Elfsong in Baldur's Gate. For IWDEE/IWD-in-BG2, options are added for the Winter's Cradle Tavern in Easthaven, the Root Cellar in Kuldahar, or the Whistling Gallows in Lonelywood.”

    If you’re new to installing mods, it’s actually fairly simple, especially if you use a G3 mod. Just download and run the executable and it will walk you through the process. Make sure you read along with the ReadMe as you’re installing the mod so you don’t install something you don’t want.

  • mashedtatersmashedtaters Member Posts: 1,848
    BTW, the Tweaks mod is completely customizable. You can install every component or only one, and you’ll be fine.

  • ZaghoulZaghoul Member, Moderator Posts: 3,760
    @Falkeep
    This is a reminder that we have guidelines regarding politeness on the forum. Folks will make suggestions and will try and help much more freely when that is followed.
    Thanks
    -Site Staff

    JuliusBorisov
  • KenethKeneth Member Posts: 18
    @Falkeep What's with the attitude? I was neither judging you, nor was I "on your back" about anything.

    The game allows you to reroll and reallocate your stats exactly because they didn't want people to be stuck with unplayable stats (they'd just restart the process anyway). Some people choose to abuse this feature in order to get ridiculously high stats but are usually opposed to using ctrl+8 because it's technically a cheat. Personally, I don't see the distinction, but I don't judge anyone if they want to do it one way or the other. If you didn't know about that shortcut, you're welcome, it saves me a lot of time I would otherwise spend rolling the dice for my personal sweet spot.

    And you're the one who brought up the whole "in real life" angle to this conversation. All I'm saying is that the companion NPCs are actually quite good by core rule standards and they're more than capable enough to handle anything that gets thrown at them, so saying you would never pick them "in real life" (whatever that means) is what's actually ridiculous here. And if you don't like their stats, there are plenty of tools to change them. Hell, you can even cheat in some stat tomes to up their stats if you don't want to use external software.

    Anyway, I was trying to be helpful and letting you know that plenty of solutions to your problems already exist within our vast modding community. I don't see why would feel attacked by anything I said.

  • FalkeepFalkeep Member Posts: 41
    edited June 2018
    Keneth said:

    @Falkeep What's with the attitude? I was neither judging you, nor was I "on your back" about anything.

    Keneth said:

    You're not supposed to roll the dice until you get to 90+, the game simply allows you to do so. You might as well be pressing ctrl+8 and set them to whatever you want them to be.

    Keneth said:

    So, "in real life", that is to say in a proper game of D&D, you'd probably be glad to have any of them along.


    Btw, as I said, I don't play "in real life" and haven't since the late-1970s so, probably, no, I wouldn't.

    Post edited by Falkeep on
  • SkatanSkatan Member, Moderator Posts: 3,954
    Everybody already knows this, but I still feel it fits this convo:

    Charname is a god-child, something way more than any simple adventurer. It makes sense to have high stats since both Imoen (87, though retconned to be a bhaal spawn) and Sarevok and other Bhaal spawn all have very high stats. If Charname had 75 in stats it would be.. odd.

    All NPCs are just regular adventurers and considering 10 is the average stat point, they are pretty much all super-beings way, way overpowered compared to what they "should" be. Rolling a party of 6 where everyone has 90+ stat points (which is possible in IWD) would of course be "wrong" from one point of view ("aka realism within the game rules") but still 100% your own choice.

    Roleplay is roleplay and powerplay is powerplay. How each player mix the two is subjective, but no matter that the NPCs are all still very, very good based on the rule set basics.

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