Sword Coast Stratagems II: 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 Gaylan 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 Gaylan 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.