Sword Coast Stratagems II

A Gibberlings Three Mod
Author: DavidW

Version 21 - Check for the most recent version
Languages: English, French, German, Italian, Korean, Polish, Russian, and Spanish (Polish is a bit out of date)
Platforms: Windows and Mac OS X

Sword Coast Stratagems II (SCS II) adds over 100 optional components to Baldur's Gate II, mostly focused around improving monster AI and encounter difficulties.

Table of Contents

  1. Compatibility with other mods
  2. Installation
  3. Overview
  4. Contents
    • A. Core Components
    • B. Spell Tweaks
    • C. Item Tweaks
    • D. Gameplay Tweaks
    • E. Cosmetic Tweaks and Ease of Use Features
    • F. AI Enhancements
    • G. Tactical Challenges
  5. Power-user options (contains spoilers)
  6. Additional notes on contents (contains spoilers)
  7. Known Issues
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Credits and Copyright Information
  10. Version History

Compatibility

SCS II is designed to work with Baldur's Gate II. It should work fine (and has been tested) on Baldur's Gate Trilogy, but most of its content is specific to the BG2 part of the game. (For BG content, you might want to look at the original Sword Coast Stratagems). It is not designed for Baldur's Gate: Tutu (Tutu players, again, might like to try the original SCS).

SCS II currently requires Throne of Bhaal.

SCS II attempts to be as compatibility-friendly as possible. It should be compatible with most quest, item, NPC and tweak mods (I don't know of any significant incompatibilities other than those listed below).

SCS II is designed to work with the (G3) BG2 Fixpack. I very strongly recommend that you install this fixpack first, before any other mods but certainly before SCS II. It probably installs without the Fixpack (or with Baldurdash) but it's designed on the assumption that Fixpack is installed, and odd things may happen if it isn't.

In general, when installing multiple mods, it matters which order you install them in. A rough guide is:

  1. The Ascension mod
  2. The BG2 Fixpack
  3. Mods which change the spell or item systems
  4. Mods which add new quests and similar game content
  5. Mods which add new joinable characters
  6. Mods which tweak aspects of gameplay
Within each category, as a rule of thumb you should install older mods first. SCS II is a tweak mod, so it should be installed towards the end of your installation. Ideally, SCS II prefers to be installed last, but several other recent mods (aTweaks, Rogue Rebalancing, BiggTweaks, BG2 Tweakpack) also say "install last" in their readmes. You can generally install any of these listed mods after SCS II fairly safely. (In particular, Rogue Rebalancing and aTweaks are designed with SCS II specifically in mind, and should definitely be installed after SCS II). Other mods, and in particular any mods that add new items, really need to be installed before SCS II.

SCS II is fully compatible with my Throne of Bhaal content-enhancement mod, Wheels of Prophecy. Install SCS II after Wheels of Prophecy. (Note: the Wheels of Prophecy Readme says to install SCSII first; this is a typo, ignore it.)

SCS II has slight compatibility issues with Divine Remix. Divine Remix rearranges the spellbooks of some potentially-hostile priests and SCS II, not knowing this, will fail to use their spells effectively. This is unlikely to have any significant effect on play, though.

If you install "Tougher Sendai" from Oversight then SCS II will still work, but the SCS II improvements to Sendai (in the Smarter Mages / Smarter Priests component) will be skipped in favour of the Oversight ones. Pick which one you want.

SCS II should be compatible with Demivrgvs's "Spell Revisions" (SR) mod and Demivrgvs' and Mike1072's "Item Revisions (IR) mod, although as of version 10, SCS II spellcasters use only 1st-5th level modified spells. I have some minor worries that the Spell Revisions modifications to Glitterdust and Faerie Fire may cause balancing problems for SCS II thieves, but there shouldn't be a technical problem. SR and IR should be installed beforeSCS II (and indeed before most mods). Some SR and IR components overlap with SCS II components; these components will be silently skipped on an install of SCS II.

SCS II is compatible with some but not all other tactical mods. The following notes are hopefully reliable but so far I have only done limited testing; I would be very interested to hear feedback from players on whether they are reliable.

Quest Pack

Quest Pack's AI and creature enhancements should be compatible with SCS II. Install Quest Pack first, then install whichever components of SCS II you want: they will override the Quest Pack for the affected creatures. Quest Pack still has some content not influenced by SCS II: notably, it improves Mummies and Umber Hulks.

Tactics

Compatibility between Tactics and SCS II depends on the components:

Ascension

Ascension is fully compatible with SCS II. By default, Ascension enemies use their own scripts instead of SCS II scripts, although a number of components change this. (Note in particular that the Ascension "tougher Demogorgon" component is overridden by the "Improved Fiends" component of SCS II.

However, a number of reports suggest that SCS II is not compatible with "BP-Ascension", the version of Ascension that ships with the Big Picture. I recommend that you use the standard WEIDU version of Ascension (at www.weidu.org) with SCS II. (Users constructing a Big World Project mega-install should probably take advice from www.shsforums.net on the best strategy.)

aTweaks

aTweaks is designed to function with SCS II. It should be installed after SCS II. (This is an exception to the usual rule that SCSII should be installed last.)

Big Picture

My impression is that the latest version of Big Picture is largely incompatible with SCS II. I suggest installing one or the other.

Sword Coast Stratagems I

For the benefit of Baldur's Gate: Trilogy players, SCS and SCS II are designed to be fully compatible. Install SCS first, then SCS II. BGT players who want to use BG2-style spellcasting (sequencers, Remove Magic, Unholy Blight) right through the trilogy might want to experiment in not installing the SCS mage and priest AI, in which case the SCS II AI will apply to all spellcasters, even the BG ones. This is currently untested, though.

Deeper Shadows of Amn

Deeper Shadows of Amn is probably compatible with SCS II. Install SCS II second.

Improved Battles

Improved Battles compatibility with SCS II is unexplored. Good results are probably best obtained by installing SCS II last, but be warned that this may often overwrite Improved Battles AI with SCS II AI.

Improved Anvil

Realistically, Improved Anvil is almost completely incompatible with SCS II on technical grounds (quite aside from the major conceptual incompatibility!) Players who really, really want to try it could have a go at installing SCS II over the top of Improved Anvil (in which case, which one of SCS and IA takes precedence will be highly random) or vice versa (in which case, IA will almost always take precedence) but I don't recommend this and I doubt IA's author does either.

Installation

Installing the mod

To install SCS II, run it and tell it to install in your BG2 folder. (If nothing happens, run "setup-scsii_autoinstall.exe", in your BG2 folder.) You should then be offered three ways to install:

You can get back to this menu (or launch it in the first place, if for some reason it doesn't start) by running "setup-scsii_autoinstall.exe" in your BG2 directory. You can also get directly to a component-by-component list of options by running "setup-scsii.exe" in your BG2 directory. After installing, you can edit your installation by running "setup-scsii.exe".

You don't need to start a new game to install SCS II, although a small number of components will not function fully unless you do.

If you have installed version 16 or later of SCS II, you should just be able to install this version over the top. However, if you have installed an earlier version (v15 or earlier) of SCS II, you must completely uninstall (and preferably delete) it before installing this version.

Uninstalling the mod

To uninstall the mod, run "setup-scsii_autoinstall.exe" in your BG2 directory, and select option 4.

What does the "quick" install include?

The quick install offers you the choice of whether or not to install each of the main sections of the mod: Spell Tweaks, Item Tweaks, Gameplay and Ease of Use (listed together), Artificial Intelligence, and Tactical Challenges. By default, it installs all components in each section, but it lets you choose on the following options:

(This is basically most (not all) of the components where there are genuine choices as to what settings the component should be installed at, plus one or two choices based on my guesses as to what's most useful. I'm open to suggestions from players (though obviously if too many choices get added, the "quick" install gets less quick.)

Installing on non-Windows systems

On Mac OSX, follow the above instructions, except that you should click on setup-scsii.command, and then drop the ".exe" suffixes.

On Linux, usual instructions apply: Download the latest version of WeiDU for Linux from weidu.org and extract (at least) the WeiDU, weinstall and tolower executables in a $PATH directory (E.G. /usr/bin). Following that, open a terminal, cd to your BG2 installation directory, run `tolower' and answer Y to both queries. Finally, run WeInstall scsii to install the mod.

A note on ToBEx

SCSII ships with ToBEx version 21. If you want to use a more recent version, install it wherever you like - before SCSII or after. Either way, things should work fine. (If you don't know what ToBEx means, ignore this note.)

Overview

Sword Coast Stratagems II is a collection of mini-mods for Baldur's Gate II, affecting both Shadows of Amn and the Throne of Bhaal extension. Like its Tutu predecessor, SCS II is mostly a tactics mod, intended to make the combats in the game more challenging and interesting.

Since there are a lot of tactics mods out there, of very different styles, it's probably simplest to describe the distinctive features of SCS II. (I don't want to suggest that all of these are automatically advantages: there are lots of different styles of play, and different mods fit different people.) Some more thoughts of mine on how to assess tactical mods can be found here.

Overall, playing SCS II shouldn't exactly feel like a whole new game - it should feel like the old game, but with your foes acting much more intelligently and realistically.

A full installation of SCS II modifies most major villains ("bosses") and set-piece combats in the game. The only exceptions (that I can think of) are

(I hope that some of these will be modified in future releases.)

SCS II makes no use of the difficulty slider (except in the "Beholder's lair" upgrade, which is borrowed from Quest Pack).

SCS II also contains a number of other small tweaks to the game. Most of these (especially the spell and item modifications) are intended to modify the game in small ways that are helpful from the point of view of tactical challenge - some make the game a little easier, others make it a little harder. I recommend that all the spell tweaks are installed since the AI scripts assume that they are present, but it isn't compulsory.

Finally, SCS II contains a few ease-of-use features (notably, an ease-of-use player AI script with a large number of convenience features) and a few "flavour" features that don't really affect gameplay but hopefully aid the feeling of immersion in the game world.

Contents

Core Component: Initialise

(Almost all components require this)

This component does various setup tasks needed by most other components in SCSII. You won't directly notice what it does, but it fixes a few bugs and extends the game's capabilities to allow the rest of SCSII to function correctly. (For experts: it installs Detectable Spells and (on Windows installs) ToBEx, makes magic items detectable, modifies weapons so that the script engine can detect their enchantment level, fixes the bugged Spell Shield spell, reconfigures area-effect spells so that Mirror Image doesn't block them, and prevents casting from being disrupted by zero-damage attacks.)

(Advanced users who find my mods slightly too good at detecting items may wish to experiment with setting AI_Does_Not_Detect_Items to 1 in scsii/scsii.ini; this isn't recommended, though.)

Spell Tweaks

These components make rather minor alterations to the spells in the game, usually in the interest of game balance or consistency. All changes are fully documented in the spell descriptions themselves. Note that while all these components are optional, many of the tactical choices made by wizards and priests in SCS II assume that they are installed, so you may notice some slight anomalies in enemy behaviour if you don't install them all.

Allow Spellstrike to take down a Protection from Magic scroll

In the original game, the protective sphere produced by a Protection from Magic scroll is completely impenetrable by any spell at all - if you use one, all a hostile wizard can do is run away or fight in melee. This component allows the most powerful mage anti-magic spell, the 9th level spell Spellstrike, to destroy the anti-magic sphere of one of these scrolls. It also allows the anti-magic ray of the Hive Mother beholder to destroy the sphere.

More consistent Breach spell (always affects liches and rakshasas; doesn't penetrate Spell Turning)

Although it isn't documented, the 5th level spell Breach will remove a creature's combat protections (such as Stoneskin) even if that creature is protected by Spell Deflection, Spell Turning or Spell Trap; it will not, however, affect creatures like liches or rakshasas, because they are immune to spells of level 5 or below. This component removes both features: Breach now bounces off Spell Turning (etc.), but it affects even those creatures immune to "normal" 5th level spells.

Once this component is installed, the Breach effect of the Wand of Spell Striking will behave in exactly the same way as the Breach spell.

Enemy wizards will assume Breach works this way (and so won't target characters protected by Spell Turning etc with a Breach), even if you don't install this component.

Antimagic attacks penetrate improved invisibility

This component changes those spells which target a creature's spell defences (e.g. Secret Word, Spellstrike, Ruby Ray of Reversal - but not Breach) so as to allow them to target creatures which are protected by Improved Invisibility. The idea of this component is that these spells can now be cast on enemy mages who are protected by Improved Invisibility - this makes the Improved Invisibility / Spell Immunity: Divination combination less overpowering.

Prior to version 16, this component worked by giving the spells a small area of effect. This option remains, as a legacy component, for those who prefer it.

The antimagic attacks of enemy mages will bypass Improved Invisibility even if you don't install this component.

Iron Skins behaves like Stoneskin (can be brought down by Breach)

For some reason the Iron Skins spell, although it appears identical to a Stoneskin, counts as a Spell Protection (like Spell Turning) and not as a Combat Protection (like Stoneskin). This means that in the unmodded game, Breach does not bring down Iron Skins, but (e.g.) Secret Word does. This component relabels Iron Skins as a Combat Protection.

Enemy mages will assume that Iron Skins works this way (and so will, e.g., cast Breach at it) even if you don't install this component.

Modify the Harm spell so it does damage rather than reducing target to 1 hp

The Harm spell reduces its target to 1 hp in 2nd edition D&D; in 3rd edition, it does a large amount of damage instead. This component modifies Harm to work more like the 3rd edition spell: it inflicts 150 hp damage, with no saving throw, on a successful touch attack. The rationale for this is that Harm (especially combined with Critical Strike) is otherwise an almost-instant way of eliminating even foes with hundreds of hit points. Harm remains lethal in this component, but is not quite so overwhelming.

There are two versions of this component. One version modifies only the player's version of Harm; the other modifies player and enemy versions alike. (The former component is probably more merciful, as rather few characters in the party will have more than 150 hp even at full strength, at least until very late in the game.)

Make individual versions of Spell Immunity available, so that players can use them in Contingencies etc.

Even in the unmodded game (and much more so in SCS II) enemy mages sometimes place Spell Immunities into their Contingencies and Sequencers. This isn't really possible for the player because of the way the Spell Immunity spell works: casting it only gives you the menu to choose which Immunity you want to use.

As of version 20, this component (using Ascension64's "ToBEx") handles everything automatically - you just have to choose the particular immunity you want when you cast the Contingency/Trigger/whatever.

Revert Greater Restoration back to only affecting one creature

Throne of Bhaal makes an undocumented (but widely known) modification to the Greater Restoration spell, making it into an area-effect spell that heals the entire party. This component reverts Greater Restoration to its SoA version, where only one creature can be affected.

Enemy priests assume Greater Restoration affects one target only (and so fairly rarely use it) even if you don't install this component.

Blade Barrier and Globe of Blades only affect hostile creatures

Even in the unmodded game, hostile priests used a special form of Blade Barrier that only affected their foes. (This is probably because, in the Infinity Engine, it is almost impossible to script creatures to avoid them crashing into each other.) This component (again in the name of fairness, and also of hassle avoidance) extends this to the player's version of these two spells: with it installed, players and NPCs use the same form of Blade Barrier. (They don't quite use the old NPC version, which had a rather shorter range: they use a hybrid version, as large as the old PC version but affecting only enemies).

Cap damage done by Skull Trap at 12d6

Skull Trap, like the other L3 spells Fireball and Lightning Bolt, does 1d6 damage per level. Unlike those spells, though (and, I suspect, via an oversight on the developers' part, though I could be wrong) Skull Trap's damage is not capped at 10d6, which makes it extremely lethal for a third level spell by the later part of the game. This component caps the damage of Skull Trap at 12d6 (the slightly higher cap reflects the much shorter range of Skull Trap compared to Fireball.

I don't know whether this component makes the game net easier or harder. I was led to write it after seeing a lich in SCS II playtesting cast a 3xSkull Trap Spell Sequencer, doing about 100 hp damage even to characters who made all their saving throws.

Make Power Word: Blind a single-target spell

Unlike other Power Words, Power Word: Blind has a small area of effect. This both makes it rather powerful, and makes it virtually impossible for enemy AI to use without "friendly-fire" incidents. This component just makes Power Word: Blind target a single creature. (This is another component which the mage AI will assume is installed.)

Make Minute Meteors into +2 weapons

In the unmodded game, the meteors created by the third-level Melf's Minute Meteors spell strike as +6 weapons, enough to penetrate any creature's resistances and to cut through even the Absolute Immunity spell. This strikes me as a bit overpowered for a third-level spell. This component makes meteors +2 - still enough to hit most creatures, but not enough to cut through any of the protection-from-magic-weapon spells.

Reduce the power of Inquisitors' Dispel Magic

Inquisitors have a very fast powerful Dispel Magic ability, which is cast at twice their level. In most bits of the game, this is usually much higher than the majority of spellcasting enemies. This component reduces the power of the Dispel a little; you can choose to use it at 1.5xlevel or at 1xlevel.

Slightly reduce the power of Insect Plague spells (and the like) and let Fire Shields block them

In the unmodified game, Insect Plague and Creeping Doom are very hard indeed for a spellcaster to deal with or defend against. This component (which was partly inspired by Demivrgvs's Spell Revisions) grants a per-round saving throw against the spell-failure effects of the insects; it also cause the insects to be destroyed if the target protects himself/herself with a Fire Shield spell (either colour) or Aura of Flaming Death spell.

Cosmetic change: stop Stoneskins from changing the caster's colour

The Stoneskin spell causes the recipient to turn a uniform grey colour, which is realistic but does get a bit monotonous when your spellcasters are permanently protected by it. Note that this effects NPC mages too. This tweak (which uses Ascension64's "ToB Extender") removes the colour change from the spell.

Slightly increase the power of Mantle, Improved Mantle, and Absolute Immunity

In the unmodded game, Mantle protects you from +2 or weaker weapons, Improved Mantle from +3 or weaker weapons, and Absolute Immunity from +5 or weaker weapons. In all cases, arguably this is slightly too weak given the prevalence of such weapons in the game. This component increases each protective range by one: Mantle protects against +3 or weaker weapons, Improved Mantle against +4 or weaker weapons, and Absolute Immunity against +6 or weaker weapons (i.e., basically everything.)

The mage AI, in choosing its defensive spells, assumes that this component is installed; if you don't install it, mages may be slightly too willing to use Mantle etc instead of Protection from Magic Weapons, though this shouldn't be too noticeable.

Make spell sequencers, spell triggers, and contingencies learnable by all mages

In the unmodded game, spell sequencers, contingencies etc are in the Evocation school, making them unavailable to Enchanters; this is a serious weakness for the class. This component moves them to be in both the Conjuration and Evocation schools (like Wish), so that all mages may use them. The affected spells are Minor Sequencer, Spell Sequencer, Spell Trigger, Contingency, and Chain Contingency.

Note that if you have Smarter Mages installed, SCS enchanters will use sequencers and the like even if you do not have this component installed.

Add extra spell scrolls for hard-to-find spells

This component adds one extra copy of a few spells into shops in Amn and Trademeet. The spells are chosen to be ones which otherwise tend only to be found late in the game or only given good luck with random loot. The affected spells are Bigby's Clenched Fist, Bigby's Crushing Hand, Control Undead, Improved Mantle, Invisibility 10' Radius, Mordenkainen's Sword, Pierce Shield, Remove Magic, Ruby Ray of Reversal, Spell Shield, Stone to Flesh, and Summon Nishruu. The location of the scrolls is determined randomly at install time.

Give True Sight the ability to prevent magical blindness

This spell modifies True Sight (and the clerical version, True Seeing) so that the caster is immune to Blindness while the spell is effective; existing Blindness effects are also removed.

(The main reason for this change is that Blindness is essentially lethal for enemies (especially spellcasters). With this change, Truesight effectively works like Vocalize, in addition to its other effects.)

Prevent clones made by the Simulacrum and Project Image spells from using their magic items.

At present, clones can use magic items belonging to their creator - even one-shot items - which arguably isn't what the spell is intended to do. This component blocks use of useable items, by greying out the quick-item bar for clones. Magic weapons, armour, and protective devices still function normally.

Item Tweaks

These components remove, move or tone down the powers of a small number of magic items. It's not at all systematic (there are mods out there which go through almost all the items in the game and reduce their powers) but it reduces the extent to which a party can coast by on a few über-items.

Remove the Shield of Balduran from the game

I looked fairly extensively for ways of scripting beholders to deal with the Shield of Balduran without resorting to cheese, or for ways of toning down its powers while keeping it recognisable, but I couldn't find one. Ultimately, the character equipped with the Shield of Balduran is invulnerable to beholders, pretty much irrespective of what strategy they use. This component (which, as always, is optional) removes the shield entirely from the game, leaving beholders as a challenge again.

Remove the invisibility power of the Staff of the Magi

The Staff of the Magi allows the wielder to go invisible, at will and without losing any time to do so, and this is famously overpowered. This component just removes the invisibility power from the Staff.

Move Vhailor's Helm into Throne of Bhaal

Vhailor's Helm is not absurdly powerful relative to some of the items that can be found later in the game, but it's a bit much for something that can be bought for cash at the start of chapter 2. This component moves it into the early part of the Throne of Bhaal expansion (see the spoilers for details).

Move the Cloak of Mirroring into Throne of Bhaal

You can't get the Cloak until later in the game; still, it's hugely powerful and could be argued to be unbalancing at the time it's introduced. This component moves it into Throne of Bhaal (see the spoilers for details).

Move the Robe of Vecna into Throne of Bhaal

Similarly, the Robe of Vecna - one of the most powerful items in the game for a spellcaster - is overpowered for something that can be bought in chapter 2, and so this component moves it into Throne of Bhaal (see the spoilers for details).

Replace +1 magical weapons with Fine ones

This is a flavour tweak rather than a balance-driven one: as with the equivalent component in SCS, it replaces almost all +1 weapons in the game with non-magical versions, which still have +1 to hit and damage but don't have an initiative bonus and don't count as magical. The rationale for this is that the number of magic items lying around the Sword Coast is completely absurd. My alpha version of this component changed +2 weapons too, but that turns out to have unwanted effects on game balance - +2 nonmagical weapons are great to use against mages with the Protection from Magic Weapons spell running, and the protagonist is probably immune to nonmagical weapons in ToB and needs to be affectable by at least some of his opponents.

Remove Arrows of Dispelling from stores

This component (which was previously part of "Improved Minor Encounters") removes all the Arrows of Dispelling from stores; you might want to install this if you find Arrows of Dispelling a bit too effective.

Make the Healing and Resurrection powers of the Rod of Resurrection into separate powers

Having a magic item which not only restores its target to life but also heals them fully is extremely powerful. This component mildly tones down this power, by giving the rod separate resurrection and healing powers. It can still restore its target to life, but they have only one hit point; it can also cast a Heal spell on living targets.

Change Carsomyr so that its dispel-on-contact power gains a saving throw

Carsomyr (the holy paladin sword) dispels all magical protections instantly on hitting its target, which drastically changes the flavour of many battles (notably those with mages and priests, and to a lesser extent with dragons). This component (which was borrowed directly from Demivrgvs' and Mike1072's Item Revisions) grants a saving throw against this effect, which makes it useful but less transformative.

Gameplay Tweaks

These components could equally well be called "miscellaneous tweaks".

Remove unrealistically helpful items from certain areas.

Vampires do not stockpile stakes in their lairs; magic golems are not usually found near stashes of nonmagical weapons; demons' lairs are not usually stocked with books explaining how to eliminate their defences and wands stocked with the requisite spells; trolls are not generally found in places filled with fire and acid arrows; cities under siege do not generally have large quantities of +3 weapons for sale in bars. But in BG2 all these things occur. Presumably this is intended to reduce frustration, but I just find it spoils my suspension of disbelief. This component tries to remove all such implausibly-placed items. (Obviously, things like stakes and fire arrows are still plentifully available, but you can't count on just finding them lying around where you want them.)

Remove unrealistically convenient ammunition from the game

Similarly, the game has vast stashes of ammunition lying around for the taking, presumably because the developers thought you'd be bored of having to buy it. This component removes all the ammunition from containers, for those who find things just a bit too convenient to be realistic.

As of version 8, this component can be fine-tuned. You can choose to remove only the non-magical ammunition, to remove all the ammunition except those nice +3/+4 items you find in Throne of Bhaal, or just to remove everything.

Faster bears

"If you're in the woods, and you run into an angry bear, don't worry about it. Bears can't move very fast, you can outdistance it at a brisk walk".

It's unrealistic that BG2 bears can't catch up with the party. This component tweaks their movement rate until it's about the same as for humans. This also makes the druid's bear shapeshift less annoying.

Grant large, flying, non-solid or similar creatures immunity to Web and Entangle

Logically, things like Fire Elementals, Grey Oozes, and Giants ought to be unaffected by Web and Entangle effects. This component grants them immunity to those effects. Affected creatures are Elementals (all except small Earth), djinnis, efreetis, anything larger and stronger than an ogre (which basically means umber hulks, shambling mounds, large demons, giants, otyughs, and wyverns), magical flying swords, and oozes and slimes.

Allow the Cowled Wizards to detect spellcasting in most indoor, above-ground areas in Athkatla

The Cowled Wizards claim to ban magic everywhere in Athkatla; in practice, though, they only complain if you cast spells out of doors. This component extends their watch to most indoor, above-ground areas in Athkatla (there are a few exceptions, mostly places where wizards live (e.g. Prebek's tower) or where it's likely that the owners have made arrangements with the Cowled Wizards (e.g. the Copper Coronet).

Increase the price of a licence to practice magic in Athkatla.

The default price for a magic licence from the Cowled Wizards is 5,000gp. This component allows you to increase it to an amount between 10,000gp and 50,000gp, depending on which option you choose during installation.

Increase the price asked by Gaelan Baele.

This component aims both to make it more realistic for the player to linger in chapter 2 of SoA (which in gameplay terms is often rather tempting, but is hard to justify on roleplaying grounds) and to add an extra challenge by restricting the player's wealth in the first part of the game. As everyone knows, in the unmodded game Gaelan asks the player to provide 20,000gp. With this component installed, he will want more - between 40,000gp and 120,000gp, depending on which option you choose during installation.

Make Freedom scrolls available earlier.

Scrolls of Freedom (the spell that reverses Imprisonment) are fairly thin on the ground early in SoA, whereas Liches love Imprisoning people. This component makes a few scrolls of Freedom available from Athkatlan stores (the Coppor Coronet and the Adventurer's Mart, in fact.)

Make Watchers' Keep accessible between SoA and ToB

In roleplaying terms, the natural time to explore Watchers' Keep is between the end of Shadows of Amn and the start of Throne of Bhaal. Before chapter 4 you're probably too weak; in chapters 6 and 7 of SoA you're in a desperate race against time; in ToB, the way the start works makes it difficult not to take random time off from urgent business to explore Watchers' Keep.

This component moves the start location of Throne of Bhaal to Watchers' Keep, so that you're moved there immediately after the end of SoA. You can then explore WK to your heart's content. When you want to start ToB, just leave WK via the world map. You can still return to WK after leaving.

Be warned: you don't have any stable base, or any way to change your party, as long as you're starting at WK. If you find you need either, you'll need to do the first part of ToB. Similarly, although you could start a new game of ToB using this component, this is only a good idea if you're masochistic enough to want to solo Watchers' Keep with a starting-level ToB character!

This component is only available on Windows versions of SCS II.

Warning: As of version 12, if you install this component you will not be able to access Watcher's Keep during the Shadows of Amn part of the game. This is to prevent a persistent bug, which I've been unable to track down, whereby going to WK during SoA triggers the chapter counter to advance to chapter 8.

Recover lost items from Hell

Because you're transported directly from Hell at the end of chapter 7, any items on the ground (notably, those dropped by slaughtered companions) are lost in the lower planes. This component (suggested by the bigg) fixes this problem: your items will be on the ground waiting for you when you start chapter 8. The component is compatible with the "Make Watchers Keep accessible between SoA and ToB" component, and you can install them in either order.

Improved shapeshifting

This component (inspired in part by Wesley Weimer's Shapeshifter Rebalancing component) modifies all of the druid innate shapeshift abilities (and the druid/cleric elemental-shapeshift HLA) to be useable instantly (that is, without requiring a six-second cooldown before the next spell can be cast). It does so by creating "symbolic paws": if you equip one, you instantly shapeshift. Other than that, the effects of the shapeshift are largely the same as previously, though some of the ability score and attack bonuses have been tweaked slightly. Note that shapeshifting still blocks spellcasting.

If you have both this component and the "improved priests" component installed, enemy druids will use improved shapeshifting.

Make party members less likely to die irreversibly

This component tries to prevent "chunking", the annoying permanent death of your character when you're reduced below -10 hp. Characters who get reduced to 0 hp or below just die in the usual fashion and can be resurrected. It isn't possible to prevent quite all forms of chunking (massive damage from fire, in particular, still seems to cause chunking fairly reliably), but this component should make it a rarer occurrence. This may be useful in the later stages of the game, when melee opponents often do 30-40 hp damage per blow - that 10 hp safety margin starts to feel slender.

Randomize the maze in Watcher's Keep

This component is for the benefit of people who've now basically got the Watcher's Keep teleport maze memorized. It randomly rearranges the maze to one of three different alternative configurations. Don't install or reinstall this component while you're exploring the maze (before you enter it, or after you've left it, will be fine).

Customise access to strongholds

This component is actually eight separate components, one for each stronghold available to players (the Radiant Heart, Nalia's Keep, the Planar Sphere, etc.) It lets you choose, stronghold by stronghold, to make the stronghold available to all classes (it also drops the rule that says you can only have one stronghold).

The idea of this is that it's a rather more fine-tuned version of the long-established Tweakpack component that lets you get access to all strongholds. It might be useful if, say, you think your Paladin ought to be offered the Cleric and Fighter strongholds, but isn't likely to be offered the Mage or Thief ones.

Delay the arrival of the "bonus merchants" in the Adventurers' Mart and the Copper Coronet

This component causes the "bonus merchants" (Deidre and Joluv) to appear a little later in the game (by default they are in the Adventurers' Mart and the Copper Coronet, respectively, as soon as you go there). One of them (chosen at random) will appear once you've started Chapter Six; the other will appear once you've either completed four of the "stronghold quests" or recovered the Rhyn Lanthorn.

You don't need to have the bonus merchants already installed (e.g. through Tweak Pack) to run this component; if you do, it won't matter.

Reduce the rate of reputation gain

In general, if you're playing a half-way honorable character in BG2, your reputation fairly rapidly reaches 20 and stays there. The idea of this component is to slow down the rate at which you gain reputation: you can choose the degree of slowdown.

In more detail: any time you would have gained 2 or more reputation points, you gain one fewer point than you should have. Any time you would have gained one, it's decided at random whether you actually do gain it, according to the probability you choose at install time.

Treat mages' and priests' High-Level Abilities as innate abilities rather than memorisable spells

This component causes the 10th level spells that mages get as High-Level Abilities, and the Quest spells that priests get likewise, to become disentangled from existing 9th level mage spells and 7th level priest spells. If installed, 10th level and Quest spells are no longer added to the character's list of spells to learn. Instead, each can be cast once per day in addition to the character's normal spells. Each spell can only be taken once. Note that clones (Projected Images and Simulacra) of the spellcaster do not get High-level abilities.

The component should be compatible with other mods (notably Refinements) which change the High-Level Ability system. If it is installed, SCS mages and priests will also receive High-Level Abilities in this way.

I'm grateful to TheBigg and Vilcakis, from whose rather similar mod I took significant inspiration, and to Ardanis for the suggestion that each ability should only be available once, which changed me from a strong opponent of this change to a (cautious) supporter.

Cosmetic and ease-of-use tweaks

Ease-of-use party AI

This AI script, suitable for all characters, is not intended to help you fight difficult battles, but it might make your life simpler (especially where pre-casting spells is concerned - SCS II virtually requires you to do a lot of precombat spellcasting of long-duration spells, but it's tedious to do manually.) The AI has 5 functions:

  1. The character will fight, prioritising opponents who are not immobile and helpless, not fighting if they're trying to Turn Undead, and not wasting Melf's Minute Meteors, Energy Blades or Invisibility (the idea of this AI is to help you mop up weak opponents, so it conserves resources). You can shift the character between melee (D) and ranged weapons (F) using the hotkeys.
    If you'd rather that your character did not enter melee, you can toggle melee off by pressing (K). Characters with melee toggled off will fight if enemies are in weapon range but won't be proactive about getting into range.
  2. The character will cast some long-duration spells when out of combat. There are 4 settings for this, which you can toggle through using (S). On setting 1, the character uses no spells. On setting 2 and up, the character will cast all of the following spells if they are memorized (and not already active): Stoneskin, Iron Skins, Armor, Melf's Minute Meteors, Goodberry.
  3. On setting 2 and up, the character will consume Goodberries if injured and out of combat. On setting 3 and up, the character will also consume potions of healing. On setting 4, the character will consume potions of extra-healing.
  4. On setting 2 and up, the character will automatically activate the following items once per day: the Cloak of the Stars; the Gargoyle Boots; the Belt of Fortitude.
  5. On setting 2 and up, the character will automatically cast low-level healing spells on the party if they have them. The casting is highly accelerated and cannot be done in combat; characters will only cast healing spells of a level 2 or more below the highest level of spells which they can cast.
  6. The character will cast some spells, by hotkey, on the whole party. This casting is highly accelerated, cannot be done in combat, and only casts on characters who are not already protected. Its main function is for later in the game when you can afford to carry enough spells to protect the whole party. The hot-keys are: C for Chaotic Commands; V for Death Ward; B for Protection from Fire, Protection from Lightning, and Protection from Magic Energy; Z for the paladin's Protection from Evil. (The latter key is already allocated to a hotkey (sleep) - sorry, I was running out of hotkeys. To use it you'll need to disable Z in the Configuration program. Later versions of SCS II will feature a more flexible hotkey-allocation system.)

Remove animation from the Cloak of Mirroring (leave it for other spells and effects that use the same graphic)

The Cloak of Mirroring creates an annoying spherical animation that is a pain to have around permanently. The BG2 Tweak Pack eliminates that animation entirely from the game, but that can be a nuisance for SCS II as the animation, annoying or not, is a good way of telling which mages have which defensive spells running. This component just removes the animation from the Cloak, leaving it in place for other spells and items.

Move Boo into Minsc's pack

Identical to the SCS component of the same name, this component shifts Boo from his normal quick-slot space into a free slot in Minsc's inventory. It must be installed before the start of the game.

Remove blur effect from the displacer cloak

Like it says really: this removes the annoying blurry graphic when someone wears the displacer cloak.

AI enhancements

The distinction between this section and the next ("tactical challenges") is a bit arbitrary, but basically components in this section either don't alter creatures' abilities at all, or do so in a relatively low-key way.

Smarter general AI

This component improves the generic AI used in melee and ranged combat throughout BG2. It will mostly affect fighters, thieves, and monsters without large numbers of special abilities.

Main features of this component include:

Better calls for help

This component improves the way in which intelligent enemies call for help from offscreen allies. The unmodded calls for help in BG2 are much better than the ones in BG, so this component will have a less dramatic effect on play than the SCS component of the same name, but it should still lead to a smoother experience.

More sensible choices of weapon proficiencies and kits for fighters

This component ensures that the fighters in the game make intelligent use of their available weapon proficiency choices, by taking weapon and style specialisations as appropriate. It also allocates kits to a (fairly small) number of fighters, and corrects some inaccurate saving throws etc.

Potions for NPCs

Potions are one of the most effective and cheap ways for a humanoid creature to enhance its combat ability. The party collect literally hundreds of them through BG2 and can easily buy hundreds more; it's not that realistic that enemy NPCs don't have them. This component gives healing and protection potions of various sorts to humanoid NPCs; it also gives combat-boosting potions to fighters and invisibility potions to thieves. The potion allocation is based on level (the higher level your opponent, the more likely he is to have good potions); it also requires a higher level for a Throne of Bhaal NPC to have potions than for a Shadows of Amn one, since Throne of Bhaal is crawling with mid-level grunts. (Similarly, even the SoA component gives potions out less readily than the SCS version of this component.)

This component "plays fair", in the sense that potions are given to NPCs when they are created, not beamed into existence just in time to be drunk. This means you'll probably end up with (even) more potions if you use this component, since you'll be able to steal a few from enemies who are killed before being able to use them.

As of v5, it's optional whether potions carried by your enemies are droppable. (As Alesia_BH pointed out to me on the Bioware boards, it's not exactly unrealistic that glass bottles get smashed in the heat of battle!) As of v10, you can choose any of six different rules for what fraction of potions are recoverable.

The Superior Healing potion only gets given to enemies in Throne of Bhaal (to preserve a flavour difference between the two components).

Improved Spiders

This component is basically identical to the SCS version: it gives some spiders the ability to cast webs and tightens up the scripting for phase spiders. Realistically it won't have much effect on your game except at a fairly early stage.

Improved Golems

This component doesn't really make golems smarter (they're supposed to be stupid) But it streamlines their scripts a bit, gives their weapons a sensible range, makes them immune to Lower Resistance and to poison, and tries to prevent situations where golems get stuck behind barricades It also fixes an animation glitch in the Iron Golem animation - this hopefully makes iron golems a bit prettier when they attack and blow clouds.

Increased Staying Power for Fiends

This isn't really a separate component at all, more of an option for the "Improved Fiends" component. All it does is increase the hit points of the Baatezu and Tanar'ri by around 60 percent. This shouldn't make a drastic difference, but it will lead to fiends remaining around in battle for a bit longer.

Improved Fiends

This component overhauls the "Fiends" (i.e., Baatezu and Tanar'ri, aka Devils and Demons) throughout SoA and ToB. More than any other component of SCS II, this component not only upgrades their scripting but actually gives them a variety of new magical abilities. I've based the abilities the fiends received on a combination of 2nd and 3rd edition pen-and-paper D&D; details can be found in the Spoilers section. However, the fiends' basic combat abilities and defences remain essentially unchanged: other than a certain amount of systemisation (where two similar-looking fiends have wildly different immunities, for instance) I've left their hit rolls, damage, immunities, magic resistance etc pretty much alone. In fact, in one or two cases I've removed a power (e.g. permanent haste) that seemed to be added as a cheesy way of making a fight harder.

As of version 7, this component includes Demogorgon and the Chromatic Demon. Again, they mostly get changes to their spells and strategies, though the Chromatic Demon is now 100% immune to physical damage, not just 95% immune.

This component, and the next three, all offer a choice as to how creatures' magic works. If you visualise fiendly magic as being an innate power, cast at will and instantly, you can choose for fiends to have "fast, uninterruptable magic". Fiends will still cast spells only once per round, but do so instantly and cannot be interrupted. If you prefer fiends to cast spells in the normal way, that option is also available. (Fiendly AI is optimised for option 1, though; if you choose option 2, fiends may occasionally make slightly suboptimal magic-vs-melee choices.)

This component also makes a substantial change to the way fiend-summoning magic works (this is one of the few places where SCS II breaks the rule that players and NPCs should be treated equally). I assume that enemy spellcasters (who, after all, have been learning high-level magic far longer than the party) summon demons with whom they have a pre-existing pact. These demons won't attack their summoner - and, crucially, will attack the party even if they are protected by Protection from Evil. The practical upshot is that the only demons in the game now kept at bay by a Pro/Evil are the ones that your party summons. This makes summoned demons rather more useful, and you'll see more of them being summoned. Note: this component will only have an effect on the game if you also install SCS II's "Smarter Mages" and/or "Smarter Priests" components; unmodded priests and mages continue to use the original version.

Smarter Genies

This component improves the various genies (djinni, efreet, and the like) in BG2. Mostly this is done by improving their scripts and systematising the rather chaotic list of spells and abilities that different genies get (in the original game, if you charmed a genie you'd see that it had a totally different list of spells from the ones it was actually using!) However, the component also changes summoned genies so that they count as "Gated" rather than "Summoned"; the practical consequence of this is that they are immune to Death Spell. This makes genie-summoning rather more useful.

As with the "Smarter Fiends", component, this component has an option to let genies cast their spells instantly and uninterruptably.

Increased Staying Power for Celestials

This isn't really a separate component at all, more of an option for the "Smarter Celestials" component. Rather like the equivalent component for fiends, it just increases the hit points of celestials by about fifty percent, giving them the ability to hang around in combat for a bit longer.

Smarter Celestials

This component improves the way in which summoned devas and planetars use their magical and combat powers. It only affects celestials summoned by enemy NPCs, and it doesn't grant any extra abilities - it just uses the existing abilities more effectively.

As with the "Smarter Fiends", component, this component has an option to let celestials cast their spells instantly and uninterruptably. This component will also affect PC-summoned celestials; it will not, however, affect the celestials in the "PnP celestials" mod.

Increased Staying Power for Dragons

This isn't really a separate component at all, more of an option for the "Smarter Dragons" component. All it does is triple the hit points of all the dragons in the game. At the moment dragons have about 200 hp, which by the late stages of Shadows of Amn really isn't enough to go toe-to-toe with an entire party. Somehow, it doesn't seem right that dragons have to rely on Stoneskin and Protection from Magic Weapons - this component gives them the ability to hang around in battle for longer.

Standardise Dragon Immunities

Again, this isn't really a separate component at all, more of an option for the "Smarter Dragons" component. It tries to be a bit more systematic about the powers that dragons are and aren't immune to (it varies wildly through the game, especially between Shadows of Amn and Throne of Bhaal. In particular, basically all ToB dragons have immunity to Imprisonment, death magic, and "vorpal" attacks (i.e. decapitation). This component extends that immunity to SoA dragons.

Smarter Dragons

This component improves the intelligence of all the dragons in the game (including Adalon and Fll'Yissetat as of version 10, but Abazigal is only modified if you also install the "SCS AI for Ascension" component). It tries to do this without granting them new abilities (the main grey area is exactly how many spells dragons should have: the unmodded game is somewhat inconsistent about it). At any rate, in play you should - hopefully - see dragons being a bit more discerning with their targeting and their spell priorities. (So: this component is trying to pretty much exactly what the Tactics smarter dragons component tries to do. Obviously I prefer my one, but it's a matter of taste!)

The component also modifies dragon breath to penetrate magic resistance (the unmodded game is a bit inconsistent on this point, but since the spell Dragon's Breath goes through MR, presumably real dragon breath should too!) and lets dragons cast spells at a more realistic level (usually 15-25 or so).

As with the "Smarter Fiends", component, this component has an option to let dragons cast their spells instantly and uninterruptably.

Enemy spellcasters use Simulacrum and Project Image spells

This isn't really a separate component at all, more an option for the "Smarter mages" and "Smarter beholders" components. If it and they are both installed, mages and/or Elder Orbs will sometimes use the "clone" (Simulacrum and Project Image) spells against you. This component is optional partly because some people regard clones as cheesy, but mostly because I'm worried it might be a source of serious slowdown on low-end machines.

Smarter Beholders

This component upgrades the AI of the beholders, gauths, elder orbs and hive mothers in SoA and ToB. (It basically tries to do it non-cheesily, but it's hard to define this exactly since beholder powers are almost all scripted). Beholders get to use their eyestalks once per round each, but they will tend to manage to get through more of them in a round; their targeting has also been drastically improved (the new scripts are about 150 times the length of the old ones!)

In accordance with PnP 2nd edition rules, beholders are now immune to most (not all) of their own eyestalks, which makes them more willing to bombard their way through Spell Deflection. I have removed the Disintegrate eyestalk power (I don't like scripting for powers that require you to reload on a failed save) but I have added a Telekinesis eyestalk (more for fun than for increased challenge). And I have borrowed, with thanks, the Quest Pack component which allows beholders to lose their eyestalks when damaged. Beholders are also unable to use eyestalk powers when blinded (although their allies may use anti-magic rays to remove the blindness).

As of version 2, players of a masochistic disposition can turn the disintegration power back on at the console. Just enter CLUAConsole:SetGlobal("DMWWBeholderDisintegrate","GLOBAL",1).

Hive mothers use the same range of powers as in the original game, but use them more efficiently, and use their eyestalks in the gap while they're waiting to cast spells again. Elder orbs were tricky because of the rather inconsistent range of powers they show in the unmodded game, but I have interpreted them as casting spells just as standard mages do, and as knowing 2 spells of each level. Their choice of spell, and of Contingency, Spell Trigger et al, has been optimised more, and they too use eyestalk powers while waiting to cast again (and show a preference for short-casting-time spells, so as to allow more eyestalk use.)

It might be worth noting that, even in the unmodded game, hive mothers can see through invisibility (though elder orbs cannot).

(New as of version 6). Beholder eyestalk rays ought to be able to work their way through Spell Turning spells and the like: a few beholder rays ought to be enough to overwhelm a Spell Turning spell (and for that reason, beholders are scripted to use their rays even on protected characters). However, for whatever reason this doesn't seem to work very well in-game. So instead, beholder rays now have a random chance (thirty percent) of dispelling a spell protection on contact; this should work out, on average, to the same thing. This is optional: you can choose whether or not to let beholder rays "burn through" defences in this way.

Also as of version 6, beholders have an additional trick to use against certain characters; see the spoilers for details.

As of version 16, you can choose at install time to have beholders use an alternative form of their antimagic ray. In pen-and-paper D&D, a beholder's eyestalk blocks all magical effects, beneficial or otherwise, on the target for as long as it's targetted. In BG2, the eye is more powerful: it removes all magical effects, blocks spellcasting for several rounds, but doesn't block enemy magic attacks (including the beholder's other eyestalks). Optionally, the beholder antimagic ray blocks all magical effects, including harmful ones, for one round, and also disables magical activity (spellcasting etc) by the target for one round; this is supposed to simulate the beholder bathing the target with its antimagic ray for one round. This subcomponent obviously requires different scripting, so beholders will use their antimagic ray a bit more cautiously if it's installed.

Also as of version 16, if Spell Revisions is installed then Beholders will use a Spell-Revisions-style disintegrate ray (at 10th level for ordinary beholders, 20th level for Hive Mothers). The default in this case is that they do use Disintegrate; entering CLUAConsole:SetGlobal("DMWWBeholderDisintegrateSR","GLOBAL",1) will disable it.

Smarter mind flayers

This component improves the intelligence of the mind-flayers and their kin (specifically, it upgrades flayers, ulitharids, vampiric illithids, and the Master Brain). It allows the illithids to use a somewhat wider range of abilities than before (notably, they have access to a few physical psionic attacks, like Ballistic Attack, and they can astrally travel to more convenient bits of the battlefield); it significantly improves their targetting; it allows them to use each power every 2-4 rounds and choose the most appropriate available power; it lets them avoid attacking targets who are immune to their abilities or to their physical attacks.

There are a variety of options in this component. You can choose whether to let mind flayers see invisible opponents (I'm inclined to think that their great intelligence and wide range of psionic powers means that invisibility is no barrier to them; not everyone agrees, though). You can also choose to give mind flayers 50% resistance to melee and missile damage. (The Tactics version of smarter mind flayers grants both these powers; both are optional in SCS II.)

The component also makes a few changes in how psionic powers work. It mildly increases the damage done by physical psionic attacks (though not to anything like the extent that Tactics does) and it changes "anti-psionic" items so that they do not protect from physical psionic attacks. (On my interpretation, "Ballistic attack" involves using psionics on a rock, not on a PC). This gives illithids a few more options when facing enemies who are shielded from mental attack. The component also systematises illithid magic resistance and level, so that all of them are 90% magic resistant (previously there were a few exceptions) and the same level. As of version 16, it allows illithids' detonation power to destroy skeletons automatically (in accordance with the 2nd edition rules, as it happens). (This can be disabled at the console.)

If the "Smarter Mages" component and this one are both installed, the Alhoon is also upgraded. I interpret him as a L18 mage with the psionic powers of an ulitharid, I also give him the "split mind" psionic power, which allows him to cast a spell and use a psionic power in the same round. (Yes, purists, this is a valid 2nd edition psionic power!) This guy is now fairly dangerous.

Improved Vampires

This component - which has been completely overhauled as of version 16 - upgrades vampires' intelligence and abilities, roughly in line with pen-and-paper Dungeons and Dragons. They should target their magic more effectively, pick on people vulnerable to their level drain, and so forth. The component also standardises vampire statistics a bit (usually increasing vampire ability scores slightly). It allows vampires to summon wolves, bats, or rats (the bat summoning was present in earlier versions but has been toned down), to drink blood (which drains Constitution) as well as draining levels, and to make much more use of their various shapeshifting abilities (bat, rat, wolf, gas cloud).

This component does affect Bodhi, but only if you don't install the "Improved Bodhi" component (in other words, if you want Bodhi to use her original-game abilities more effectively but don't want to give her the extra powers of that component, install Smarter Vampires but not Improved Bodhi).

Smarter Githyanki

This component improves the githyanki in the game, mostly through better scripting for their psionic powers (those which they demonstrate in-game in one way or another), although it does also slightly raise the level of some of the stronger gith. It also makes the same general upgrade to psionics that the "Smarter Mind Flayers" component does. Finally, it upgrades the githyanki lair in ToB by the rather simple expedient of opening all the doors. ("Sir, just a suggestion, but maybe we should fall on our enemies all at once rather than dividing our forces into four bite-sized chunks?")

Add high-level abilities (HLAs) to ToB mages

This component (which has basically no effect unless you also install ("Smarter Mages") gives HLAs (i.e. 10th level spells) to mages in Throne of Bhaal and Watchers' Keep (almost none get HLAs in the unmodded game). This works the same way as the spell-swap component of "Smarter Mages": existing 9th level spells are swapped for HLAs. The HLAs used are Dragon's Breath, Summon Dark Planetar, Improved Alacrity, and Wish (which, I know, is technically not a HLA).

This component has two options. If you think that HLAs are special powers available only to demigods and those who ally with them, then install the "only selected mages" component, and only special creatures in ToB will get them (e.g., liches, the Five and their lieutenants - but not random enemy wizards). Probably a little under half of all ToB wizards of level 18+ benefit. If you think that HLAs are just something everyone gets above a certain level (or if you just want a challenge) then choose the other option, in which case pretty much all level 18+ ToB wizards will get HLAs.

Add high-level abilities (HLAs) to SoA mages

This components is self-explanatory. I include it mostly for completeness (personally, I prefer HLAs to be restricted to ToB) but they're there if you want them. If you start getting planetars and Dragon Breaths dumped on you when you're fourteenth level, don't blame me. Note that a much smaller fraction of spellcasters get HLAs than in ToB if you choose the "special characters only" options.

Smarter mages

This component drastically improves the intelligence of pretty much all the arcane spellcasters (liches, mages, fighter/mages, thief/mages, bards) in the game. It does so in three ways:

  1. Better choices of spells and sequencers. The spell lists of mages are systematically restructured to swap useless for useful spells. I've tended to err on the side of variety over usefulness: Maze is less useful than Horrid Wilting but it's still fairly useful, so I've kept it; but Meteor Swarm just can't compete with other 9th level spells, so it goes. Enemy sequencers, spell triggers, contingencies and the like are all completely reworked. Both the spellswap and the sequencer choice are done at random (though occasionally I've tweaked it for specific mages) - I think an 18th level wizard has about 4000 different possible combinations of contingencies and sequencers! Spell choices will change each time you reinstall SCS II; sequencer and contingency choices will change each time you reload.

    Note that no 10th level spells (i.e., HLAs) are added by this component.

  2. Much better targeting. SCS II mages are very, very careful to choose sensible targets for their spells and to avoid silly or unrealistic actions. They will renew magic defences as soon as they are destroyed, try to show some discernment in when to use antimagic attacks, prefer to target fighters with Dire Charm and mages with Power Word: Kill, etc. Multi-class characters will try to intersperse their mage and non-mage abilities. There is quite a lot of randomness, though - partly because it's tactically unwise to use too-fixed a strategy, but mostly for variety.

    SCS II tries extremely hard not to cheat. It's impossible within the engine to be completely certain of this, but as far as I can manage, no SCS II mage does anything that the party can't (assuming that you have installed the Spell Tweaks components of SCS II). There are two exceptions:

    • As noted in the "Improved Fiends" component, if you install that component then NPC-summoned fiends behave a little differently from PC-summoned ones.
    • I assume that NPC wizards (who have years and decades more practice than the PC) can specify the conditions on which their contingencies go off with more discernment than the PC, so I haven't restricted myself to the conditions that the game allows for PC spellcasters. Otherwise, I have kept to the standard Contingency rules even when the unmodded game breaks them (no choosing different targets in the same sequencer; no 9th level spells in Chain Contingency, etc.)

    SCS II mages obey the rules on invisibility: only spells which can be cast at a point on the ground can be used against improved-invisible opponents. So they will cast Horrid Wilting or Fireball at your improved-invisible character, but not Breach or Magic Missile. One unavoidable game-engine, glitch, though, is that (unlike with PC spells) an NPC-cast Fireball will land at the feet of its target even if s/he has moved after casting began. I can't do much about this. Note that sequencers cannot be, and are not, targetted at invisible opponents (even if they contain area-effect spells); but note also that liches can see through invisibility (even in the unmodded game).

    Out of mercy, enemy mages won't cast Imprisonment on the main character. If you're masochistic enough to want to change this, enter CLUAConsole:SetGlobal("DMWWImprisonPlayer","GLOBAL",1).

  3. SCS II allows mages to cast some spells instantly, to simulate casting before battle begins (in BG2 it's very difficult to script enemies to do the sort of pre-battle buffing that PCs can do). They will always do this with any spell with a duration of more than a couple of hours (e.g. Stoneskin, Melf's Minute Meteors). There are three options, though, for the casting of short duration spells. (Note that whichever option you choose, mages will still use contingencies and spell sequencers.)
    • Option 1: Mages are always allowed to cast spells instantly at the start of combat. This is basically the same way magic works in SCS, and is tactically the hardest challenge; however, on occasion it might appear a bit unrealistic.
    • Option 2: Mages are allowed to cast spells instantly at the start of combat only when they are created near the PC (e.g. enemy mages teleporting in to ambush you). This is basically how Tactics handles this (though I think I keep to the rules more strictly than Tactics does). It's somewhat less challenging, but since even casters whom you catch off-guard have contingencies and sequencers to defend themselves with, mages can slam up defences pretty quickly.
    • Option 3: Mages never cast spells instantly. (Though, again, they can very quickly use contingencies and sequencers to defend themselves.)
This component also makes some systematic adjustments in the levels of NPCs. The unmodded game is very inconsistent: it often makes casters much too-low-level for the spells they have (this matters because many spells have different effects at different levels, and also because Dispel Magic depends on the difference in levels between the casters. SCS II goes through every arcane caster in the game and modifies their level according to the following rule: an NPC is raised to the lowest level consistent with all the spells s/he knows, except that no-one is raised to a level that would let them cast higher-level spells than they actually have, and (almost) no-one has their level reduced by SCS II. As of version 10 of this mod, this is fine-tuned manually in the case of a few already-high-level wizards who were arguably being raised to too-high levels.

Also as of version 10, many wizards will be specialists of one sort or another (I use necromancers, conjurers, invokers and enchanters), and this should - hopefully - lead to a little more variety in the kind of spell use you see.

The component uses whatever memorization rules are in the game. If you've installed a component which changes the number of spells a caster of a given level can learn, this will apply to enemy mages too.

Since Irenicus is a mage, this component upgrades him too. He gains no new spells, but he should use his existing spells more effectively, and this makes him a lot more dangerous (particularly in his final incarnation). Illasera is a fighter-mage in the unmodded (non-Ascension) game, so if you don't install Ascension then she gets upgraded. If you have the "Smarter Clerics" component then Sendai is also upgraded (unless you've installed "Tougher Sendai" from the Oversight mod).

Add high-level abilities (HLAs) to ToB priests

Add high-level abilities (HLAs) to SoA priests

These work exactly the same as the equivalent mage components, but for priests.

Smarter Priests

This component upgrades the intelligence of the clerics and fighter-clerics in the game, in much the same way as the "Smarter Mages" component does for mages etc. It has the same three pre-casting options; note, though, that since clerics do not have access to sequencers or contingencies, enemy clerics are at a huge disadvantage on options 2 or 3.

Smarter Illasera

This component changes the AI of the Ascension version of Illasera (and her flunkies) to match the SCS II norm. Hopefully this makes them more rather than less dangerous (although Ascension AI is pretty good, so I'd welcome feedback - the first version, I think, was quite a lot less difficult than the Ascension baseline).

This component has no effect on the non-Ascension version of Illasera (who is a standard fighter/mage and gets modified by the "Smarter Mages" component). Both the original and the finale versions are affected.

Smarter Yaga-Shura

This component changes the AI of the Ascension version of Yaga-Shura (and his flunkies) to match the SCS II norm. Hopefully this makes them more rather than less dangerous (although Ascension AI is pretty good, so I'd welcome feedback). Both the original and the finale versions are affected.

This component has no effect on the non-Ascension version of Yaga-Shura (who is a standard fighter and gets modified by the "Smarter General AI" component).

Smarter Abazigal

This component tries to upgrade the AI of Abazigal. Both his humanoid and dragon forms are affected; if you have Ascension installed, so is the finale form of Abazigal, and so is his companion Tamah. I try to systematise Abazigal's magical talents a bit, but I don't do anything for which there isn't some existing in-game justification.

Smarter Gromnir

This component changes the AI of the Ascension version of Gromnir Il-Khan (and his flunkies) to match the SCS II norm. Hopefully this makes them more rather than less dangerous (although Ascension AI is pretty good, so I'd welcome feedback). Both the original and the finale versions are affected.

This component has no effect on the non-Ascension version of Gromnir (who is a standard fighter and gets modified by the "Smarter General AI" component).

Smarter Melissan

This component upgrades the AI of Melissan, in both her Ascension and non-Ascension forms. I try fairly hard to use only those abilities she demonstrates in-game, although I do fix a bug in the non-Ascension version of Melissan whereby her last form wasn't using quite the right script.

Ascension demons useSCS II abilities and AI

Ascension versions of Irenicus and Sendai use SCS II abilities and AI

These components do exactly what they say: they modify these aspects of Ascension to fit the SCS II norm. (Note that only the chapter 10 version of Sendai is affected: the chapter 9 version will use SCS II scripting anyway.)

Tactical Challenges

Though the distinction isn't hard-and-fast, components in this section are less concerned with improving the intelligence of creatures, more concerned with increasing their abilities and numbers. (Though hopefully, creatures remain intelligent and changes remain fairly low-key.)

Make the starting dungeon slightly harder

This is a very low-key modification to the initial dungeon. It replaces the pathetic goblins with duergar (which I think has a better "feel" to it in any case) and it prevents you from sleeping more than once. (I allow you to sleep once because (i) it gives you a chance to choose your spells, and (ii) Imoen has some rest-related dialogue that I don't want to block.)

Improved Shade Lord

This component upgrades the Shade Lord, mostly by giving him additional magical powers (though his hit points are also increased). Unlike most SCS II components, this one doesn't make any particular effort to stick with the vanilla game or with anything from PnP source material: like the Wolf of Ulcaster, the Shade Lord has his own unique abilities.

Spellcasting Demiliches

This component (which requires "smarter mages") makes demiliches more like their third-edition versions. The demilich Imprisonment ability has been nerfed: it now grants a saving throw vs. death at -5, although it also causes level drain even on a successful save. Demiliches are still 100% immune to magic, but they are not additionally immune to spells of L6 or above (this means that high-level antimagic works on them).

On the other hand, demiliches are now by-the-book 35th level wizards with significantly accelerated casting times. (Only the demilich in WK has access to HLAs.) The net effect should be to make demiliches quite significantly more dangerous - I would be unsurprised to discover that Kangaxx is now beyond most SoA parties, though I'd welcome feedback on this.

As of version 10, Demiliches can use their Imprisonment ability and cast a spell in the same round.

More Resilient Trolls

This component tries to turn trolls' regeneration from a minor book-keeping nuisance to a genuine threat. Trolls still collapse when reduced close to death, and still require fire or acid to finish them off - but a more significant amount of damage is needed (ranging from 2 hit points for ice trolls to 8 hit points for spirit trolls) and they will get up again (at partial strength only) much more quickly.

This component probably isn't for everyone. Some will find it tactically and role-playing-ly interesting; others will find it a chore.

Increase difficulty of level-dependent monster groupings

At various points in the unmodded game, BG2 chooses the strength of the monsters you face based on your level. Typically there are four encounters, and which one you get depends on your experience level.

This component causes the game to give you somewhat tougher choices; there are four options available. "Mildly increased difficulty" causes you to get a fight one step too high-level for you; "significantly increased difficulty" gives you a fight two steps too high, and "almost-maximum difficulty" gives you the hardest possible fight whatever your level (with one exception: see below). Other ability-dependent components are modified in a similar way to try to achieve the same effects.

The only exception to the general rule is the "spawn-undead" script, whose highest-level setting causes liches to spawn. SCS II liches are so much more powerful than vanilla ones that it is nearly suicidal to take them on at lower levels (at least without cheesy tactics), so even on the "almost-maximum difficulty" setting they don't spawn unless you have at least 1 million XP. If you really, really want a massively-hard-to-injure undead archmage dumping Pit Fiends and Horrid Wiltings on you at 8th level, install the fourth option, "maximum difficulty".

This component is rather like the "always tougher spawns" component of Tactics, but it's rather more customisable (and, since modding tools are much improved since Tactics was written, it installs in a way that's less likely to mess up other mods).

Improved Random Encounters

This component adds a little more variety and challenge to the "You have been waylaid by enemies" encounters. The main point of this component was not so much to make random encounters more difficult (though it does that too, to some extent) as to make them less repetitive - there are now about a dozen encounters, and the order in which they occur is somewhat randomised.

Improved D'Arnise Keep

This component, though not identical to the "Tougher Torgal" component of Tactics, is strongly influenced by it. It adds more trolls to the keep, upgrades Torgal a bit, and gives Spirit trolls some magical abilities. The main differences from the Tactics version are more detailed targeting for the spirit trolls, a wider variety of troll reinforcements (not just spirit trolls) and a (hopefully!) cleverer, but slightly less tough, Torgal (who, in this version, has not stolen one of the flail heads).

As of version 2, the magical powers of spirit trolls are optional; purists can choose to get the original, non-spellcasting spirit trolls.

Improved Faldorn

This component makes Faldorn into a by-the-book sixteenth level avenger. She has no special powers (and begins the druid duel unbuffed, as does your character) but hopefully her kit powers mean that she's still reasonably effective.

Improved Unseeing Eye

The original Unseeing Eye is actually a fairly ineffectual high-level spellcaster. This component shifts it into an Elder Orb (I assume that, just as the Eye grants magical sight to its blind followers, so it grants itself the magical use of its eyestalks even though strictly it's blind; I do assume its central eye is inoperative, though) and makes it virtually immune to damage (Demilich-level immunities) until the Rift device is used. Even once the device is used, the Eye will still put up a reasonable fight.

Improved Bodhi (Tactics remix)

This component is very closely based on the Improved Bodhi in Westley Weimer's Tactics mod. To quote from the readme to that mod:

Sigh. Bodhi is worth 91K XP -- more than almost anything else in the game. And yet she is a mere brute-force melee fighter who doesn't even drink healing potions. We make her more intelligent ... and give her some impressive pseudo-magical powers associated with vampires of myth and legend. Bodhi gains dominion over bats, the cold, the ground and the grave.

The SCS II version of Improved Bodhi is updated to use modern WeiDU coding (to help with compatibility-friendliness) and SCS II AI scripting. She comes in two versions: a "hardcore" version which has the same stats and powers as Westley's version, and a toned-down version with stats closer to Bodhi's vanilla-game stats, less ferocious saving-throw penalties for her spells (-4 instead of -10) and no Deathly Shroud (Bodhi's lethal Fire Shield power).

You can fight Bodhi in chapters 3 and 6; in chapter 3 (again, following Tactics) she'll pull her punches, slightly more so in the toned-down version than the hardcore one.

Party's items are taken from them in Spellhold

This component does essentially what it says: when the party are captured in chapter 4, their equipment is taken from them and they have to survive the maze beneath Spellhold without it. (They have an opportunity to reclaim it before the final battle of chapter 4). A small amount of nonmagical equipment is available relatively quickly in the Asylum. Players (even solo players) might want to note that Imoen does carry the Enchanted Weapon spell.

As of version 16 of SCSII, there is a `hardcore' version of this component available. In this version, you don't receive a small stash of items shortly after entering the Asylum, and you don't get to retrieve your equipment until after the final battle of chapter 4. (This was implemented by a request from Loz, so you know who to blame if it's impossible!)

This component is rather similar to a component of the "Big Picture" mod, but it's coded rather differently: most importantly, it creates a dynamic list of all the items in the game, which should prevent the "missing-item" bugs that caused some problems with the Big Picture component. It's compatible with the Big Picture version in the following sense: if you install the SCS II version after the BP version, SCS II dynamic-item-generation will be added to the BP version but that version will otherwise be left alone. Don't install the BP version after the SCS II version, though.

Improved fight with Irenicus in Spellhold

This component improves the clones summoned by Irenicus in the end-of-chapter-4 battle (see the Spoilers for details).

Improved Sahuagin

This component improves all sahuagin in the game (but especially the ones in the sunken city). No new creatures are added, and no special powers are granted, but the sahuagin statistics are systematised and generally improved slightly, and their scripting is smarter. Various clues in the vanilla game suggest that sahuagin priestesses are cleric/mages; I take this seriously and give significant cleric and mage magic to all of them. (The main priestesses in the game are now L18/16 cleric-mages and are reasonably challenging; the minor ones are somewhat lower level).

Overall, this component should be a bit more difficult than the vanilla sahuagin, but nothing like as powerful as Tactics' Improved Sahuagin.

Improved beholder hive

This component (adapted from Quest Pack) adds a few extra beholders to the hive in the Underdark, notably including a Hive Mother.

Prevent resting in the illithid city

This component does just what it says it does: it prevents you from sleeping in the city. This is partly on role-playing grounds (it's blatantly implausible that you could rest there), partly on tactical grounds (a party at the kind of level that's likely to enter the city can protect everyone with Chaotic Commands, nullifying most illithid powers. This will force you to ration your protections a bit, and to be more creative.

Slightly Improved Drow

This component makes a number of small improvements to the drow of chapter 5 (it doesn't affect the drow of Sendai's enclave). It slightly increases the combat proficiency of drow soldiers, it adds a few extra drow to one of the Underdark ambushes and a few extra priests to the Ghaunadans; it improves the drow battlegroup defending the doors to the Underdark; it slightly optimises House Jae'llat nobles and adds one more noble and a few commoner priests and mages.

Notably, it also dramatically beefs up the defences of Ust Natha (as of version 8, this is an optional subcomponent). The place is a drow city, not the kind of place that even a 15th level adventuring party should be able to wipe out. Now, more defenders will continuously spawn. For the first twenty rounds or so, this will be disorganised, low-level groups. After that, the drow will get more organised and start sending serious war-parties against the party. Eventually truly powerful groups of mages and high priestesses will turn up.

IMPORTANT: this component is not intended to make the conquest of the drow city somewhat more interesting and challenging: it is meant to make it virtually impossible. I predict that it will be enormously difficult for any party to defeat all of the drow and conquer Ust Natha. The sane thing to do is to get out as soon as you can; even that will probably be a bit trickier than usual.

Players who do want a challenging but doable battle to conquer Ust Natha can make it more manageable at the console; see the Console section for details.

Improved Watcher's Keep

This component makes small changes to a few areas in Watcher's Keep to make them more tactically interesting. It's a work in progress: expect more to be added in later releases. The changes (as usual for this mod) aren't too dramatic; they shouldn't change the feel of the place much. See the spoilers section for details.

Improved Battle with Irenicus in Hell

As with Improved Bodhi, this is a SCS II version of the classic Tactics component of the same name by Wesley Weimer, updated to use modern WeiDU coding (to help with compatibility-friendliness) and SCS II AI scripting. It also tweaks a few details of the battle.

Players of the original Improved Irenicus will recall that it consists of three successive fights (of which the first is generally felt to be much the best). In this version, you can choose (at install time) to have either (i) all three battles, or (ii) a hybrid version, consisting of the first Tactics battle followed by SCS II's version of the battle (which is the unmodified-game battle, but with SCS II scripting and fiend abilities. I say more about this in the Spoilers section.

Improved Fire Giant Temple

This component improves various aspects of the Yaga-Shura part of chapter 8. Fire giants acquire some high-level abilities; elemental creatures are slightly improved and given better scripts; a couple of bonus monsters are added.

Improved Sendai's Enclave

This component improves a number of sections of the approach to Sendai. Drow spellcasters become slightly higher-level and can summon more dangerous allies; the drow war-parties are tougher and reinforced by other creatures; the illithid ambush is less of a joke. Also, the final battle with Sendai is modified: no actual creature in the battle is altered at all (though other components of SCS II will alter them) but the statues activate and attack in a more efficient fashion.

Improved Abazigal's Lair

This component (which has been drastically changed in version 6) improves some parts of Abazigal's lair by adding several new encounters and toughening up the existing ones. See the spoilers for details.

Improved minor encounters

This component slightly improves the difficulty of a small number of encounters scattered across the game (see spoilers for details).

Power-user options (contains spoilers)

A certain amount of "fine tuning" of SCS II is available over and above your install options via the console. (For those who don't know, the console can be accessed by (1) adding the line "Cheats=1" (without the quote marks) to the baldur.ini file in your BG2 directory, just below the line "[Game Options]", and then (2) pressing CTRL-SPACE in-game.)

The options are all controlled by setting certain global variables, which is done by typing this command:

CLUAConsole:SetGlobal("[Global to set]","GLOBAL",[value to set it to])

So for instance, to set the variable SeduceBodhi to 3, type

CLUAConsole:SetGlobal("SeduceBodhi","GLOBAL",3).

The variables that can be set in SCS II are these (all start as 0):

It's also possible to make a few more fine-tuned install options by editing the file scsii/scsii.ini. (This must be done before installing the mod.) This file can be edited in a text editor. Each line consists of a configuration option, then a space, then a number. The only thing you should edit is the number.

The current configuration options are:

Additional notes on content (contains spoilers)

Move Vhailor's Helm into Throne of Bhaal

Vhailor's Helm is now worn by Gromnir Il-Khan, who is not afraid to use it. (He'll use it whether you're confronting the unmodded or the Ascension versions of Gromnir.)

Move the Robe of Vecna into Throne of Bhaal

The Robe of Vecna is now worn by Azamantes, the lich guardian of the Seal of the Imprisoned One. If you install the Smarter Mages component, you will find that he has received a memo explaining that the Improved Alacrity spell has never been more fun...

Move the Cloak of Mirroring into Throne of Bhaal

The Cloak of Mirroring is now worn by the demilich of Watcher's Keep. (Don't ask me how a demilich can wear a cloak; according to 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons, they can benefit from equipment even if they don't wear it.)

Improved fiends

Alu-fiends:

Balors (cast at 24th level):

Balors will only use their Implosion power in Throne of Bhaal. All Balors now wield the vorpal swords that the Watchers' Keep Balors wield; but these have been modified so that they kill but don't chunk, and so that they allow a saving throw.

Bone Fiends (cast at 12th level):

Cornugons (cast at 17th level):

Demon Knights (cast at 18th level):

Erinyes (cast at 12th level):

Glabrezus (cast at 17th level):

Lesser Demon Lord (casts at 25th level):

Mariliths (cast at 20th level):

Maurezhi (cast at 10th level):

Nabassus (cast at 12th level):

Pit Fiends (cast at 24th level):

Succubi (cast at 12th level):

Chromatic Demon (cast at 28th level):

Demogorgon (cast at 30th level):

In addition, Demogorgon has a gaze attack (either a charm or a confusion effect) which he can use each round in addition to his spells. My original version of Demogorgon also had a Time Stop usable once per day (as in Ascension) but I worried that this was too much; if you want to turn this back on, enter SetGlobal("DMWWDemogorgonTS","GLOBAL",1) at the console.

Smarter Beholders

The beholders can now use their telekinesis power to steal the Cloak of Mirroring and the Shield of Balduran. They don't do it in the first couple of rounds, then they have a 1/3 chance per round (per beholder). The idea isn't to make the items useless but to block the move of just giving them to one person and sending them in. If it annoys you, you can turn it off at the console: set DMWWDisableBeholderTheft to 1.

Give HLAs to mages and priests

If you install the "only selected" components, then the following creatures are affected:
ToB mages: Yaga-Shura's lieutenant; Sendai and her statues; the Skeleton Mage; the fire giant mages; Karun the Black; the Hell Trial form of Irenicus; Semaj; Draconis; Illasera (non-Ascension version); Iycanth the Mad; all named liches.
ToB priests: Yaga-Shura's lieutenant; Sendai and her statues; the Skeleton Priest; Nyalee; Berenn; Ameralis Zauviir.
SoA mages: Alchra Diagott; Suneer; Irenicus (all forms); Shangalar; the Shade Lich; the Elemental Lich; Layene; Kangaxx the Lich; Lagole Gon.
SoA priests: Matron Mother Ardulace, Stalman, Hindra Jae'llat

Improved Irenicus in Spellhold

The clones are now direct copies of the party.

Improved Irenicus in Hell

Irenicus originally splits into five copies:

After that, you get an autosave, and (unless you set "DMWWIINoRest" to 1 at the console) everyone gets resurrected and healed. Then you get either the original Tactics 2nd and 3rd round (see that mod for details) or the SCSII standard Irenicus battle. Note that the Dragon, the Orb, and Selfish Jon only get SCSII scripting if you've installed the appropriate AI components (otherwise the original version is used).

In the original version, each of the fragments steals an item from you (the Dragon takes the Amulet of Power, the Orb takes the Shield of Balduran, the Wraith takes Crom Faeyr, the Sword takes Weimer's "Acid Kensai" sword, and Selfish Jon takes the Cloak of Mirroring). I find this a bit unrealistic so it's disabled by default; you can re-enable it by setting "DMWWIIStealStuff" to 1 at the console.

Also in the original version, on Insane difficulty the fragments all spawn allies - wraiths for the Wraith, beholders for the Orb, wyverns for the Dragon, Mordenkainen's Swords for the Sword, and liches for Selfish Jon. I tie this to a variable rather than the difficulty slider: it's off by default, but setting DMWWIISpawn to 2 enables all spawning and setting it to 1 enables all spawning except for liches.

Improved Watcher's Keep

The statues on level one are rearranged: a fighter becomes a thief, a random monster becomes a high-level mage, and an archer gets a proper archery script. Some random extra fiends are added to the teleport maze as random encounters for when you return to already-cleared areas. The two spellcasting glabrezu gain four brethren. The number of mind flayers in the lair on level four is greatly increased.

Improved Drow

The drow defenders of Ust Natha look like this: I will be favourably impressed if anyone beats that lot.

If you want a tough fight but something a little less hideous, set DMWWDrowCityLite to 1 (in which case after group A you'll get two group-B war parties and the third and fourth elite groups) or to 2 (in which case after group A you'll get a group-B war party and the first and second elite groups).

Improved Fire Giant Lair

Fire giants gain 2 HLAs and elites gain 5; both become Berserkers. Flaming Skulls become tougher and get access to Stoneskin and more powerful fireballs, and Burning Men get a dispel-magic attack; both get a smarter script. One of the groups of fire creatures behind the force fields is replaced by a group of Efreeti and a Fire Lich (a creature removed from the original game). Imix becomes tougher and gets a Greater Whirlwind ability. A red dragon of about Firkraag's strength joins the giants in the inner temple.

Improved Sendai's Enclave

Drow mages are raised to 16th level; drow priests are raised to 17th level and gain a Gate spell that summons a Balor (summoning Pit Fiends isn't appropriate for the chaotic evil drow). The random (and weak) drow spawns in the city region of the enclave are replaced by two war parties - one backed up by glabrezu, one by beholders. Odamaron gets two apprentices (one vampire, one lich) and two skeleton warriors. The pathetic illithid ambush is replaced by two battles: one with the vampiric illithids reinforced by three more illithids with umber-hulk guards, one with a three-stage illithid strike force consisting of human thralls, illithids, and ulitharids supported by umber hulks. Sendai's statues animate once per round whether or not the previous one is dead.

Improved Abazigal's Lair

The Earth Elementals are replaced by Lizard Men, as are the Salamanders. A strike force of baatezu (two pit fiends, four cornugons) attacks the party on their way back from collecting the Breath Potion. All eyes except the eagle eyes get better targetting; the sentinels now summon much tougher monsters (elementals, mordenkainen's swords, efreeti, and skeleton warriors). A strike force of tyrant golems (golem beholders; lots of HP and 100% MR) and undead beholders protects the entrance to Iycanth's sanctum.

More importantly, there are two new encounters with dragons. The bone fiend area where the Breath Potion is has been replaced with the lair of a yellow dragon (and L20-odd mage) who was ousted by Abazigal. You have to fight the dragon one way or another, but depending on how the conversation goes, it may not be to the death. There is a rather nice item available if you play nice, and the dragon's scales if you play nasty.

Part way through the lair, you'll have to return to town. On coming back, there will be a posse of dragons waiting for you: two black dragons, then a green dragon, and finally a red dragon.

The dragon encounters have (for a tactical mod) a reasonable amount of dialogue; I welcome feedback on it (and everything else, as usual.)

Improved minor encounters

Known Issues

Acknowledgements

Firstly, many thanks to Gibberlings Three, and especially Cam, for hosting!

Huge thanks of course to Westley Weimer, who created an astonishingly flexible and powerful mod editor for IE games, and to the bigg for his modifications to that editor (many of which are essential for SCS II). Many thanks also to the creators of the Infinity Engine Structure Description Project, which clarified what the hell was going on several dozen times; and to Jon Hauglid, for Near Infinity.

I'm grateful to SimDing0 for permission to borrow the beholder eyestalk code and a few other fragments from Quest Pack, to Westley Weimer (again) for general inspiration and more concretely for letting me borrow Improved Bodhi and Irenicus to make SCS II versions (and a few other bits of Tactics too), and to other tactical-mod writers for the many fragments of inspiration that SCS II borrowed from their mods.

I'm also very grateful to Demivrgvs, Gort, Lemernis, Salk, and especially Coaster, all of whom beta-tested the mod and provided much useful feedback and many bug reports.

Thanks to Nythrun for some very useful code-optimisation tips, and to Steve, for his patience in helping me produce a Mac-friendly version.

Many thanks to the translators: Leonardo Watson, ClanDLAN, and Yarpen.

Some bits of version 10 are directly based on code and/or ideas from Taimon, Mike1072 and Demivrgvs, for which many thanks.

For version 10, I'm also particularly grateful to Temujin, Avenger_RR and Stworca for their very detailed lists of bugs and feedback.

For version 16, I'm grateful to Ascension64, both for providing the remarkable ToB Extender, and for indulging my request to include it as part of an SCSII install.

Beyond that, thanks to the players and modders - too many to name - who've played and commented.

And finally, as always I'm very grateful to Hannah Wallace for putting up with all this...

Tools Used in Creation
WeiDU by Wes Weimer and TheBigg
Near Infinity by Jon Olav Hauglid
IESDP maintained by igi

Copyright Information

Sword Coast Stratagems II is 2007-11 David Wallace.

Since in practice I'm obviously not going to sue anyone, I'll use this section to say what I'd like people's attitude to re-using and redistributing my mods. Basically, I don't mind what you do provided you (a) give me full credit when you borrow or re-use my code, and (b) don't actually mirror this mod somewhere else.

Version History

V closed-beta 1: Initial closed-beta release 10th August 2007

V closed-beta 2:

V closed-beta 3:

V closed-beta 4:

V closed-beta 5:

V closed-beta 6:

V closed-beta 7:

V 1:

V 2:

V 3:

V 4:

V 5:

V 6:

V 7:

V 8:

V 9 (July 2009):

V 10 (August 2009):

New or heavily modified content Optimisations and minor tweaks and additions Bugfixes and compatibility fixes

V 11 (October 2009):

New or heavily modified content Optimisations and minor tweaks and additions Bugfixes and compatibility fixes

V 12 (October 2009):

V 13 (February 2010):

Minor new components, and minor tweaks, optimisations, and additions Bugfixes Compatibility fixes

V 14 (August 2010):

New or heavily modified content Minor tweaks, optimisations, and additions Bugfixes (special thanks to Ardanis for many of these) Compatibility fixes

V 15 (September 2010):

New or heavily modified content Minor tweaks, optimisations, and additions Bugfixes Compatibility fixes

V 16 (February 2011):

New or heavily modified content Minor tweaks, optimisations, and additions Bugfixes Compatibility fixes

V 17 (March 2011):

New or heavily modified content Minor tweaks, optimisations, and additions Bugfixes Compatibility fixes

V 18 (March 2011):

New or heavily modified content Minor tweaks, optimisations, and additions Bugfixes Compatibility fixes

V 19 (April 2011):

Updated French and Italian translations.

V 20 (November 2011):

New or heavily modified content Minor tweaks, optimisations, and additions Bugfixes Compatibility fixes

V 21 (June 2012):

New or heavily modified content Minor tweaks, optimisations, and additions Bugfixes Compatibility fixes