Sword Coast Stratagems: AI Modifications
The distinction between these components and the "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 significantly improves the "generic" AI used by most non-spellcasters in the game. Characters with potions will use them; archers will choose their targets intelligently; creatures have less chance of just randomly losing track of where the battle is; if you go away and rest then so will the monsters.
One general principle of this component (and of most of the AI components) is that enemies usually will not waste time finishing off helpless (paralysed, asleep, feared, etc) characters. With very few exceptions, BG opponents do not see themselves as there to soften up players so that later opponents can do better. They're fighting to win (albeit we as players know they're unlikely to) and so they're not going to kill someone paralysed who's out of the fight already.
What this means in practice is that although this mod hopefully makes the battles harder, it doesn't make them that much more lethal unless you're defeated altogether. As well as being (in my view) more realistic, this reduces the frustration of those constant trips back to town to resurrect someone.
BGT users please note: this component should be installed before any mod (such as Big Picture or SCSII) which are intended to have the same function for the BG2 part of the game. If you do not install any such mod, all creatures (including BG2 creatures) will use this AI.
Better calls for help
This component substantially improves the (almost nonexistent) BG scripting for monsters to help one another. Even the stupidest monsters will fight in groups (so the advance-a-few-steps-at-a-time strategy will fail); intelligent monsters will call out to nearby allies. There are some ways to abuse this component but generally it seems to strike a good compromise between amazingly unrealistic behaviour on the one hand, and the entire map emptying towards you on the other.
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.
This component is identical to the SCSII component of the same name.
Potions for NPCs
Potions are one of the simplest ways in which BG characters can boost their chances - this component evens the odds, by distributing potions to humanoid enemies. Most creatures get potions according to a level-based randomising process; a few have individual allocations. Roughly speaking:
- everyone above L4 has some chance of healing potions, rising to certainty at L9
- everyone above L6 has some chance of a magic-protection potion, rising to certainty at L11
- fighter-types above L4 have some chance of a battle potion, rising to certainty at L9
This component introduces extra-healing potions (in moderation) into the game. Note that (since I don't believe in undroppable items) it will probably mildly increase the number of potions that your party acquires. Playtesting suggests that this stays fairly under control, though.
There isn't much point installing this component unless you're using "Smarter general AI" - otherwise enemies usually won't drink them.
As of version 9, you can optionally choose for some, all, or none of the new potions to be recoverable from enemies' bodies..
This component substantially increases the intelligence of the wizards (and ogre magi) who encounter the party. Area-effect spells won't be cast so as to kill the caster, wizards will use defensive spells like Invisibility and Minor Globe of Invulnerability, attack spells will be targetted at the most useful target rather than some random summoned monster, etc. Magic items such as wands and scrolls will be used against the party; fighter-mages will use spare moments to attack.
The component also changes the spell choices made by wizards so as to use less hopeless spells, and in some cases to remember to memorize the right number of spells; and in some cases it adjusts a wizard's level to match the spells he actually demonstrates in the game.
As of version 9 of this mod, 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.
Also as of version 9, you can choose at install time if wizards will restrict themselves to BG spells - no spell sequencers, no Stoneskins, etc - or if they will memorise and use BG2 spells. Particularly if you choose the first of these, I recommend that you install the "Make Protection from Normal Missiles affect magical projectiles" mod in order to make the wizards have a bit more of a fighting chance.
In addition, you can choose at install time whether or not wizards "pre-buff" - that is, whether they pre-cast a range of defensive spells (Minor Globe, Mirror Image, etc.), simulating the pre-castings that players can do just before a fight starts. Mages presumably prepare in advance for a party's arrival by scrying, scouts etc., but this is impossible to simulate within the game engine. (Mages cast very-long-duration spells (Armor, Stoneskin, Minute Meteors) whether or not you install this component, because they're assumed to have cast them at the start of the day or beforehand.)
Prebuffing is optional because opinions seem to vary about this sort of pre-battle casting. If you normally scout and raise defensive spells yourself, use it in order to ensure a fair fight; if not, you might not want to bother. Note, though, that "Smarter Mages" is primarily designed to use with this component; it's slightly less well optimized if you leave it uninstalled.
Incidentally, if you're worried about realism, it might help to assume (contradicting pen-and-paper D&D, to be sure) that mages can mentally deactivate their running defence spells, rendering them invisible and ineffective, at will. You more or less have to assume something like this for the party anyway, to explain why various people you meet don't bat an eyelid at the panoply of defensive magic swirling around the party mages!
This component substantially increases the intelligence of the priests and druids who attack the party. Offensive spells like Flame Strike and Hold Person will be intelligently targetted, magic items like the Wand of the Heavens will be used against the party, paralysed and fearstruck allies will be healed, druids will shapechange in some circumstances, etc. The component changes the spells memorised by priests to more optimal choices, and in many cases adds extra spells, since the game often seriously undersupplies priests with spells.
Priests use a limited amount of healing magic on themselves, but in general don't bother healing allies - it's too difficult to script in a way that avoids ludicrously stupid actions in some circumstances.
Pretty much all the priests you meet use the same script, but it has enough randomisation in it to (hopefully) remain varied and interesting.
As with the Smarter Mages component, you can choose at install time whether priests will pre-buff and whether they will use BG2 spells or confine themselves to BG spells. However, this has been bent slightly in this component to allow druids use of Iron Skins and priests use of Physical Mirror even if you choose the latter option - these spells are high enough level that the player usually won't have access to them anyway, and without some sort of basic defence BG priests and druids (who are often encountered alone) usually get slaughtered.
Many BG enemies foolishly walk right up to you before announcing their desire to kill you, despite the fact that they're spell-casters or archers. Other BG characters who are blatantly going to turn hostile sit around waiting for you to surround them before talking to them.
This component modifies a couple of dozen opponents so that they talk to you on sight (like Davaeorn does) rather than waiting for you to talk to them or walking up to you.
Smarter sirines and dryads
This component improves the intelligence of sirines - their charms will be better targetted and they make more intelligent use of their invisibility. It also adds a little defensive magic to the hamadryad of the cloakwood - she is hopefully a little more of a challenge now.
This component has not been tested with the "Lure of the Sirine's Call" mod by Ghreyfain, but I expect it to be compatible.
Slightly harder carrion crawlers
This small component increases carrion crawlers' attacks to 5 (closer to pen-and-paper D&D) and gives them a slightly smarter script - carrion crawlers know enough to continue paralysing moving opponents before feeding.
This component spreads basilisks' gaze attacks around, rather than mechanically petrifying the nearest target. More importantly, it gives them the intelligence to see (eventually) that some targets are immune altogether, and to concentrate on others.