Sword Coast Stratagems II
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.
- SCS II plays fair. I've made a fairly sustained effort to ensure that SCS II opponents fight by the rules and don't use powers denied to the player (other than obvious things like dragons' breath weapons, liches' ability to see through invisibility, etc!) This is probably most notable for spellcasters - SCS II mages don't randomly get uninterruptible spells, improved casting time, free Alacrity, or the like. (In fact, I've removed these powers from creatures in the vanilla game occasionally, though I haven't done so systematically.)
- SCS II is almost pure AI. SCS II mucks around rather little with the core powers of creatures, and hardly at all with their abilities, resistances, saving throws and the like. Its main focus is on getting creatures to do as much as they possibly can with their existing abilities. In particular, its targeting is very careful - hopefully you'll almost never see a mage do something stupid like cast repeated spells at someone immune to that spell.
- SCS II is quite low-key in its changes Where SCS II does modify something other than AI, it usually does so in a relatively undramatic manner - adding a few more creatures, giving a creature a couple of other magic powers in keeping with powers it's already used, and so forth. It doesn't give new ultra-powerful spells to creatures who didn't have any magic before, or give creatures massive damage resistances, for instance. (Again, there's not necessarily anything wrong with doing this, it's just not what SCS II is about).
- SCS II is very customisable. Feel free to install whichever combination of components you like - there is a separate one for each major AI / tactical change.
- SCS II is systematic. I've tried to be very thorough in making sure that there aren't "gaps" in its AI modifications - so that all hostile wizards, for instance, and not just some, are upgraded.
- SCS II tries to be as compatible as possible. I've done the best I can to ensure that SCS II will install on top of other mods (especially non-tactical ones) without causing problems for either. In particular, SCS II dynamically alters its scripts to take (some) account of new magic items introduced by other mods.
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
- The Kuo-Toa prince
- The Rilmani
(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.
SCS II is currently available in English, French, German, Italian, Korean, Polish, Russian, and Spanish.
This component fixes a few bugs in the game not already caught by the Fixpack; it also allow the computer to detect various effects. It is required for most other components.
- Allow Spellstrike to take down a Protection from Magic scroll
- More consistent Breach spell (always affects liches and rakshasas; doesn't penetrate Spell Turning
- Antimagic attacks penetrate improved invisibility
- Iron Skins behaves like Stoneskin (can be brought down by Breach)
- Modify the Harm spell so it does damage rather than reducing target to 1 hp
- Make individual versions of Spell Immunity available, so that players can use them in Contingencies etc.
- Revert Greater Restoration back to only affecting one creature
- Blade Barrier and Globe of Blades only affect hostile creatures
- Cap damage done by Skull Trap at 12d6
- Make Power Word: Blind a single-target spell
- Make Minute Meteors into +2 weapons
- Reduce the power of Inquisitors' Dispel Magic
- Slightly reduce the power of Insect Plague spells (and the like) and let Fire Shields block them
- Cosmetic change: stop Stoneskins from changing the caster's colour
- Slightly increase the power of Mantle, Improved Mantle, and Absolute Immunity
- Make spell sequencers, spell triggers, and contingencies learnable by all mages
- Add extra spell scrolls for hard-to-find spells
- Give True Sight the ability to prevent magical blindness
- Prevent clones made by the Simulacrum and Project Image spells from using their magic items
- Remove the Shield of Balduran from the game
- Remove the invisibility power of the Staff of the Magi
- Move Vhailor's Helm into Throne of Bhaal
- Move the Cloak of Mirroring into Throne of Bhaal
- Move the Robe of Vecna into Throne of Bhaal
- Replace +1 magical weapons with Fine ones
- Remove Arrows of Dispelling from stores
- Make the Healing and Resurrection powers of the Rod of Resurrection into separate powers
- Change Carsomyr so that its dispel-on-contact power grants a saving throw
- Randomly change the locations of many in-game items
- Remove unrealistically helpful items from certain areas
- Remove unrealistically convenient ammunition from the game
- Faster bears
- Grant large, flying, non-solid or similar creatures immunity to Web and Entangle
- Allow the Cowled Wizards to detect spellcasting in most indoor, above-ground areas in Athkatla
- Increase the price of a licence to practice magic in Athkatla
- Increase the price asked by Gaylan Baele
- Make Freedom scrolls available earlier
- Make Watchers' Keep accessible between SoA and ToB
- Recover lost items from Hell
- Improved shapeshifting
- Prevent party members from dying irreversibly
- Randomize the maze in Watcher's Keep
- Customize access to strongholds
- Delay the arrival of the "bonus merchants" in the Adventurers' Mart and the Copper Coronet
- Reduce the rate of reputation gain
- Treat mages' and priests' High-Level Abilities as innate abilities rather than memorisable spells
- Ease-of-use party AI
- Remove animation from the Cloak of Mirroring (leave it for other spells and effects that use the same graphic)
- Move Boo into Minsc's pack
- Remove blur effect from the Displacer Cloak
- Smarter general AI
- Better calls for help
- More sensible choices of weapon proficiencies and kits for fighters
- Potions for NPCs
- Improved Spiders
- Improved Golems
- Increased Staying Power for Fiends
- Improved Fiends
- Smarter Genies
- Increased Staying Power for Celestials
- Smarter Celestials
- Increased Staying Power for Dragons
- Systematise Dragon Immunities
- Smarter Dragons
- Enemy spellcasters use Simulacrum and Project Image spells
- Smarter Beholders
- Smarter mind flayers
- Improved vampires
- Smarter Githyanki
- Add high-level abilities (HLAs) to ToB mages
- Add high-level abilities (HLAs) to SoA mages
- Smarter mages
- Add high-level abilities (HLAs) to ToB priests
- Add high-level abilities (HLAs) to SoA priests
- Smarter Priests
- Improved Watcher's Keep
- Smarter Illasera
- Smarter Yaga-Shura
- Smarter Abazigal
- Smarter Gromnir
- Smarter Melissan
- Ascension demons use SCS II style abilities and AI
- Ascension versions of Irenicus and Sendai use SCS II style AI
- Make the starting dungeon slightly harder
- Improved Shade Lord
- Spellcasting Demiliches
- More Resilient Trolls
- Increase difficulty of level-dependent monster groupings
- Improved Random Encounters
- Improved D'Arnise Keep
- Improved Unseeing Eye
- Improved Faldorn
- Improved Bodhi (Tactics remix)
- Party's items are taken from them in Spellhold
- Improved fight with Irenicus in Spellhold
- Improved Sahuagin
- Improved Beholder Hive
- Prevent Resting in the Illithid City
- Slightly Improved Drow
- Improved Watcher's Keep
- Improved Battle with Irenicus in Hell
- Improved Fire Giant Temple
- Improved Sendai's Enclave
- Improved Abazigal's Lair
- Improved minor encounters
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.
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.
These components could equally well be called "miscellaneous tweaks".