I've always wanted to do a Let's Play of the greatest mod compilation of Baldur's Gate II. Good mods, bad mods, all mods. A celebration of the work that has been going into this game and this community for about 10 years now. And I started doing it on the Something Awful forums. It's actually still in progress there, but I realize that not everybody can access it. So I wanted to re-post it here and let more people read it. Let's get started!
Let's Play Rules
I want to set down some ground rules to make the game more interesting.
1. Semi-hardcore mode: What happens, happens. I will only reload if I die. I don't expect to be able to do this Ironman style, although that's my goal. But if Minsc gets disintegrated, then he's gone. But this mod brings in so many additional NPCs that replacing a dead one is no trouble. In fact, with enough treasure we can bribe random dudes on the street (or even animals, golems, beholders, dragons...) to join our party. As long as one NPC lives in the Sword Coast we will never be without cannon fodder friends. I also won't cheat in any way.
2. Blissful Ignorance Roleplaying: I need to make this a game I want to play, so I've picked my own character. He is a chaotic neutral wild mage. He's wild mage because I want to play a wild mage, and he's chaotic neutral because you all are the voices in his crazy wild mage head that he listens to in order to make decisions. I will poll the thread for every major plot decision, and go with whatever vote is the majority. That's about as chaotic neutral as things can possibly get. Make yourselves heard! Also, there are so, so many mods in this game that its practically brand-new. I worry that if I spend hours on a German-language message board just to figure out the optimal path to take in yet another maze of conversation options I'll never finish the game. So if you want to help me out in research and meta-gaming I'd also appreciate it.
3. Class-changing characters: There are approximately 100 classes total now in this game, and while some of the characters that can join our party have been changed to new classes, some still haven't. Also, sometimes you just think a character would be great as another class. So sometimes I will change a character's class when I first meet them, or I will select some possibilities and let the thread vote on it. The three characters I've got in mind right now for modifications are Montaron becoming a Thug, Xan becoming a Bladesinger, and Coran becoming a Swashbuckler. You can brush up on the available classes by reading this 200 page PDF. Also, I will give full class descriptions during each vote.
4. Party Membership is a Democracy: The mechanics of this modded game allow us to tell almost all the characters we meet to go wait for us in a major inn, such as the Jovial Juggler in Beregost, or the Copper Coronet in Amn. Periodically, such as after 2 or 3 major quests are completed, we will have a party composition vote in the thread. Each thread poster has 5 votes, which they can use to either vote FOR or AGAINST any character to be a party member. You can use all 5 votes for one character, or spread them out. You can vote both positively and negatively. If you vote too many times, only the first 5 votes are counted. If there is a tie, the character with the least amount of negative votes wins. If there's a tie in both positive and negative votes, I'll flip a coin. After voting is closed, the top 5 characters will join the party until they die.
5. Resurrection Rest and Relaxation: All party members get resurrections on the party dime if they die, and we can afford it. However, after being resurrected, party members are required to have some rest and relaxation at the party inn. They will be kicked out and replaced with the next-most-popular character. This will give them time to get over their horrifying ordeal of death and let the other party members work through their guilt at letting them die. Best solution all around. In this way we will be able to switch out characters more often and showcase them all. (Don't worry about spreading the total xp too thin. There's enough xp in this game to open an xp shop.)
6. Game mechanics and commentary: I will transcribe everything that happens in-game into thread updates (I use OCR, don't worry about my fingers) in italics. I will describe what happens in tactical encounters as a kind of play-by-play commentary, also in italics. Finally, I will also include my own roleplaying stream-of-consciousness thoughts in italics as well, to provide motivations for what I do in-game. But when it's time to comment on the game itself or talk extensively about mechanics or bitch about the plot, I'll do that in normal text, and I'll preface it by saying "Gameplay note."
1. Why didn't you use <insert class="" here=""> or let us help you choose? I have a very specific Plan ™ for my character's progression as a wild mage and a Child of Bhaal. The chaotic nature of magic is extremely compelling to me from a storytelling perspective, and I plan to have my character be extremely superstitious of the random number generator. He will believe that the Magical Weave speaks to him through wild surges, and tailor his gameplay and spellcasting practices based on signs he appears to get from the Weave in the form of wild surges. If he does some type of magical tactic and he gets a bad wild surge, he will interpret it as the Weave not wanting him to do those types of things anymore. And if he gets a good wild surge, he will interpret that as approval of his actions. Also, later on there are other plot-related devices that I will inflict upon him. Finally, the mods in the BiG Picture make playing a wild mage more compelling than any other class, with special items, unique spells, and even a secret class that we could potentially convert to. So there's that. Also, when Irenicus captures me and tortures me for months in order to unlock my true potential, he's going to be successful. Don't worry, I'm not going to give myself a ton of xp. I'll still be entirely within the rules. But it's going to be good, trust me.
Also, there is a really frightening gameplay mechanics reason for playing a mage. I tested out quite a few different characters by starting them up in the Throne of Bhaal section of the game and playing around with them at the quite high levels you begin with. There's a demon that attacks you right away there, a difficult fight. And horrifyingly enough, he easily gibbed every single character that I rolled up. Druids, paladins, bards, fighters - all gibbed in about 10 seconds. Now the characters were solo, and only had the sub-par magical equipment that is automatically given to a new ToB character, but still. It was one demon! The only character to survive his attack was a bladesinger. The bladesinger managed to cast Summon Fallen Planetar and then Energy Blades. The Energy Blades were the only weapons that ever hurt the demon, contrary to everything in the new character starter kit. And the Fallen Planetar was the only summoned creature that could stand up to the demon (the Planetar managed to vorpal his ass in about 3 rounds). So I decided that in order to actually survive this game, I would have to be someone who could summon Planetars. That meant either be a mage or a cleric. And since I want to become a god, that ruled out clerics.
2. How do you feel about spoilers for the original game's plot? The original games are old, and there's already Let's Plays all the way until Throne of Bhaal. I'm trying to focus on and emphasize the number and scope of the mods, and how they add to, differ from, and perhaps subtract from the original game. So I'm totally fine with people referencing everything in the original game without spoilers. Besides, there are so many changes that what people think are spoilers may not be. One of the best things I am looking forward to is people losing their shit and saying, "But it was supposed to be <original way="">! It is now <modded way="">?! Holky fuck!"
3. How do I install this myself? Theoretically you should be able to simply download the Big World Project installer and the Big World Project pdf and follow the pdf exactly to install the Big World Project. However, there are some common misunderstandings and hiccups that always seem to come up.
First most common problem is that you should not use the beta installer, which despite being a more recent file with a higher version number in the same file collection, does not work. It is called BiG World Setup v9.10, and it doesn't work. Don't use it.
Another common problem is that you must make sure to have a full installation of Baldur's Gate I on your hard drive, preferably installed to a very simple directory to type such as C:/baldur. You should start BG1 and save a game after you have installed it. Later on, during the batch file installation of the Big World Project, the install script will seem to stop and a cursor will appear. If you don't catch the note, this is the prompt for you to enter in your BG1 installation path, which in this example would be C:/baldur. Hence the easy-to-type directory advice.
Still another common problem is you MUST have a full installation of Baldur's Gate II and Throne of Bhaal with patch 26498 installed to ../BGII - SoA. For some reason the installer requires that exact directory name. It can be anywhere, but it needs to be named that. Also you should start a game and save a game in both the Shadows of Amn and Throne of Bhaal portions of the game, just as you did with BG1, before beginning installation.
Another common misunderstanding is what the Big World Setup program actually does. It downloads, extracts, and updates all of the mods you tell it to, and arranges a custom batch file to install them all. But then you have to click on the batch file yourself and run it. You should expect the process to take anywhere between 6 to 24 hours depending on a lot of variables. You can run the Big World Setup program multiple times to make sure that everything is exactly the way you want it to be, and you probably should. Some files may be hosted on sites that are slow, or currently down, and a second, third, or fourth try may be what it takes to get a complete set of install files. Also, running the program several times will familiarize you with the possible options, so you can make better-informed choices. Nothing is set in stone until you end the Big World Setup program and start the batch file, so take your time.
Sometimes the Big World Setup program will not be able to find some mods automatically. There may be timeouts or naming inconsistencies. During the install the Big World Setup will inform you of those and allow you the opportunity to download the mods manually, fix the typos yourself, or just say fuck it and move on without those mods. Up to you. If you do choose to download the mods manually, then you can use this site to track them down.
If you have more specific questions about the install, you should ask in the Spellhold Studios Mega-mod Help forum.
And finally, according to the GOG Baldur's Gate forum if you buy BG1 or BG2 there they both come in the condition you need to start the install, no further patching or whatnot necessary.
4. How do I change NPC classes or kits, like changing Khalid to a Duskblade or Rose to a White Dragon Disciple? To change NPC character kits, you have to follow a bit of a complicated procedure using Shadow Keeper, the BG2 save game editor. Shadow Keeper can change the kits of any NPC for you, but it doesn't have all the data it needs to name them. So you have to first discover the value by making a character with that kit, then copy the value from one save to another. I'll give an example of changing Minsc to a Feralan, but the procedure works with all kits.
1. Download, extract, and run Shadow Keeper. It can run in the background of BG2 no problem.
2. Fire up BG2, and save your current game with the NPC whose class you want to change in the party. Save it with an easy name to remember, like "Change Minsc to Feralan."
3. Exit your current game and start a new one.
4. Create a new character for yourself that uses the Feralan kit.
5. Save the game with a name you can easily remember, like "Generic Feralan".
6. If you have a full-screen BG2 game going, just press Alt-f4 to close BG2 and get the little popup window that says "Are you sure you want to quit? Boo will miss you..." Ignore that window and switch to Shadow Keeper.
7. In Shadow Keeper, open up both save games "Generic Feralan" and "Change Minsc to Feralan."
8. In the save "Change Minsc to Feralan," use the scroll bar under your character portrait to change the selected character to Minsc.
9. Write down the amount of XP that Minsc currently has, like 9882.
10. On the Abilities tab (default tab you should be looking at already) change Minsc's Base HP and Current HP to 1. Change THAC0 to 20. Change Experience to 0. Change Levels to 0/0/0.
11. On the Characteristic tab (next one after Abilities) change Class if necessary.
12. Then select the "Generic Feralan" save. Look at that character's Characteristic tab. Click on the Set Value button for the Kit. A small window will pop up with two boxes in it, Value and Known. Copy the Value ... value, which will be something like "0x40A70000". This is the Feralan kit value.
13. Then press cancel, select your game save that you called "Change Minsc to Feralan" and again click on the Set Value button. Paste the value that you copied earlier, and press OK. You should have changed the Value from "0x00000000" to "0x40A70000". That will give the kit to Minsc.
14. Go to the Memorization tab and erase all spells.
15. Go to the Innate tab and erase all Innate abilities.
16. Go to the Wizard tab and erase all spells.
17. Go to the Priest tab and erase all spells.
18. Go to the Proficiencies tab and erase all proficiencies.
19. Go to the Thieves tab and set all thief skills to 0.
20. Save the game in Shadow Keeper. It will be called "Change Minsc to Feralan (Edited 0001)"
21. Alt-tab back to the confirmation dialog for BG2 and select No to get back to BG2.
22. Load the game "Change Minsc to Feralan (Edited 0001)"
23. Minsc should level up from 0 to 1 on game load. Click his Record, level him up, and press ok. This will give him all the stats and skills and hit points and what-have-you for his new kit.
24. Then give Minsc back the xp he used to have, which in this example is 9882. You can do that by pressing CTRL-Space and using the cheat code CLUAConsole:SetCurrentXP("9882")
25. Level Minsc up to the level that his current xp allows and continue the game as normal.
Edited by Usurper, 17 June 2014 - 11:41 PM.