Butt-Kicking, For Goodness! Part IV
By Dwip November 23, 2007, 1:11 am Comments (1) RSS Feed for this post

Continuing the series begun here, and continued here and here.

In which I finally, after many years, bring my time with Nargol the Bard to an end:

Nargol: (CN Half-Elf Male Bard)
BG1 stop date 09/24/00 (Level 6); Coran, Kivan, Branwen, Xan, Yeslick
BG1 end date 08/16/06 (Level 10); Coran, Kivan, Branwen, Xan, Yeslick
BG2 end date 06/17/07 (Level 25); Haer’Dalis, Mazzy, Jan, Xan, Aerie
ToB end date 11/23/07 (Level 37); Haer’Dalis, Mazzy, Jan, Xan, Aerie

It took me slightly more than 7 years to finish Nargol’s run through the game, which I suppose tells you a lot about how fun bards are to play in BG2. It’s not so much that they’re bad, because they aren’t, really, it’s that, compared to all the other cool classes, they’re not that great. This gets compounded tremendously in Throne of Bhaal, where your mages and fighters are doing ridiculous things with 9th level spells and whirlwind attacks, and your bards are sitting there with 6th level spells and crappy THAC0. It’s disheartening, really.

On the other hand, the bard stronghold, the playhouse, is single-handedly the second-best stronghold behind the Nalia-in-your-party fighter stronghold. Who knew herding actors could be so much fun, but it is.

As a party, mine was extremely mage-heavy. Only Mazzy couldn’t cast things. Given the excellence of Stoneskin, this worked out quite nicely in most fights, except when it didn’t. It was also something of an issue keeping everyone in scrolls, but I worked that out, and then picked up enough elven chain for all the bards, and I was able to throw down some very serious firepower when I needed to.

But that aside, a few words about my companions:

Haer’Dalis – If there was ever an NPC with wasted opportunities, it’s Haer’Dalis. In the story sense, he’s fantastic. He’s got a great quest, and his banter is generally pretty good. He’s got some great scenes with Aerie. It’s just that his only quest is when you rescue him, and he could have so much more. His real tragedy, however, is that he’s a bard, and he’s a bard set up to be a frontliner with the blade kit, and he has 9 constitution. Sparrows are tougher than Haer’Dalis. And that makes him useless.

Mazzy – Mazzy, on the other hand, is fantastic. She’s a solid fighter, who single-handedly kept my group alive through most of Throne of Bhaal. When she has something to say, it’s usually pretty good. It’s just that there’s not a whole hell of a lot of her in the game.

Jan – Yes, I took the gnome. And I feel dirty for doing it. I’ll never do it again, I promise you. And actually, you know, when he’s not being supremely annoying, which is often, he’s actually pretty funny. His only real problem is that he sucks. Thief/illusionist isn’t a particularly powerful group class, especially not in my group. Your spell selection sucks, and being a thief in a heavy firepower group isn’t all that great. There’s a reason I always go with Imoen, and that’s because she doesn’t suck.

Xan – Xan’s appearance in BG2 is the result of a truly excellent mod, which is by far the best NPC mod I’ve ever seen for anything ever. On the one hand, enchanters aren’t the best class in the world, but by the end of Throne of Bhaal, I assure you that you won’t know the difference – he blows shit up with the best of them. What’s more, his writing and character is supurb. He chimes in everywhere on everything, and it’s interesting, what’s more. He has a variety of interactions with all the other NPCs, including a pretty long running rivalry with Jan that’s hilarious and helped sell me on keeping Jan when I almost ditched him. Xan’s mod is now likely my favorite mod for anything ever.

Aerie – It’s no secret I love Aerie as a character, and in fact I’ve had a whole one game without her in my party, out of six different groups. Part of the reason is that cleric/mages are incredibly diverse and useful. She heals! She blows things up! She identifies, cures, and restores! On top of that, she’s this innocent, pure sort of girl that’s kind of refreshing in what’s really a quite dark game about the God of Murder, and I like that. Her romance in particular is, if a little too sweet sometimes, straightforward and refreshing. I still like Jahiera’s better, but I’ll always be an Aerie fan.

For the record, Najah the assassin is still going. We last left him in the Underdark in Chapter 5, and he’s got a long, hard road ahead of him. But at least he killed the gnome village. All of ’em. It’s kind of my revenge for playing Jan.

Also of note, I still haven’t:

1. Played an evil party through the trilogy, which means 8 different BG1 NPCs and 2 different BG2 ones (and a romance) I haven’t done;

2. Soloed a mage through both games (the start of BG1 is HARD)

3. Played the Paladin Party Of Justice (PC Paladin, Ajantis, Branwen, any 3 others in BG1, PC Paladin, Anomen, Keldorn, Aerie, any 2 others in BG2), which could also be a female PC romance with Anomen, though I hear doing that is quite painful.

4. Played the Kivan mod for BG2 I’ve been wanting to try;

5. Played the parts of the Ascension mod I don’t find ludicrous (which isn’t many of them – ToB boss fights are already ridiculous, why would I want them harder?).

6. I have a hankering to once more play the Stock Party through both games – Imoen, Jahiera, Khalid, Minsc, and Dynahier in BG1, Jahiera, Minsc, Yoshimo/Imoen, any 2 others in BG2 – again.

Replayability? What replayability?

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Comments on Butt-Kicking, For Goodness! Part IV
avatar Comment by Weave #1
November 29, 2007 at 3:25 pm

I hate crappy THACO…