At a certain point where you feel you’ve accomplished your basic goals in a game, the way you can take it to the next level is modding it. With Baldur’s Gate 2, there’s a really cool utility called EE Keeper that allows you to modify your saved games for the Enhanced Edition. The main purpose is to modify your characters for both single and multiplayer saved games. This blog talks about my little experience working with it on a Mac.
EE Keeper is the updated version of Shadowkeeper. You will need to run it on an emulator platform like WineSkin for a Mac as it is written for the Windows platform. There’s a great article on getting a pre-wrapped version of WineSkin over here that talks about the technical aspects. Definitely, read up on how that works if you intend to modify your games using EE Keeper and WineSkin.
I’m using Mac OS Yosemite and have no issues thus far running the program. When I first tried it, it rebooted my system for some odd reason. But I re-installed it using the wrapper on the website and followed the instructions with regards to the install and save game directories to success.
The editor itself is pretty rough with little documentation but some of it is fairly obvious such as changing attributes. The way I look at using this program is that if there’s a hexcode involved, you’re better off avoiding it. But it does allow you to modify any party member in the saved game. It won’t allow you to modify an NPC that isn’t part of your group. So if you want to modify every single NPC in advanced, you can’t as far as I can tell. The only way you can do something like that is by having the NPC join your party, save your game, then load the game up and start adjusting their values.
So what kinds of things can you do with this editor? It’s a fairly decent editor in that you can change a party member’s class, race, attributes, proficiencies, etc. You can even do some things that might be normally prohibited such as changing a party member’s class to something not normally allowed. For instance, I changed Aerie from a Mage/Cleric to a Fighter/Mage/Cleric, despite the fact that elves normally cannot use this triple class.
Another really cool thing is switching around a party member’s weapon proficiencies. For example, I decided to switch Minsc into an Archer. Normally, he specializes in two handed swords and the dual weapon style. I removed these and put all his points into the Long Bow. Now, one of the aspects that might feel a bit off here is that the editor does not seem to discriminate how many points you into a weapon, despite levels (not sure about classes). So if you’re leveling and gain a new proficiency, the game might not provide the new slot (something I haven’t really tested thoroughly. However, I might’ve mis-estimated for Aerie and did not see any weapon proficiencies pop up while she was leveling, thus not being 100% sure if the game calculates the total before allowing you to choose new weapon slots.
Also, there’s a really odd format for weapon proficiencies where it says “first” and “second at the top with two separate columns. I believe the way this aspect works is intended for dual classes. I noticed for multi-classes they just use the “first” class for all proficiencies, regardless of their classes. In that sense, people should be careful in putting the right number of proficiencies while editing these values.
Next, I want to mention that while you can change the attributes of your characters, you might want to be very careful when it comes to Constitution. The editor seems to not adjust your hit points after boosting your Constitution. So if you want a higher Constitution, you should either pre-calculate the amount of hit points that would be affected or use something in game like the Manual of Bodily Health.
On the bright side, if you do modify your attributes with the editor, you will have the opportunity to dual class NPCs that normally would not be able to swap classes. For instance, after boosting Minsc’s intelligence and wisdom, I saw that the Dual Class option on his character profile was highlighted. I found this feature to be pretty cool as you can then change NPC classes to fit your needs but retain their storylines and side quests.
You might have to be very careful when doing these modifications though. A few years ago, I tried editing a few values in one of the .ini files to permit me to dual class my archer into a cleric or mage. When I went back to the game and tried dual classing, the game inadvertently crashed. I think part of the issue was that some of the values were hard coded into the system. From what I’ve seen, you can’t do odd ball combinations like paladin/druid/mage multi-classes. I haven’t tried seeing if you can dual class from kits like a kensai to another kit like a swashbuckler. I do think the editor does restrain you here (will have to take another deeper look).
There’s a lot of other things that the editor permits you to do like changing items, levels, setting flags, etc. Outside of boosting levels for one of my triple class combos, I really attempt to avoid doing too much with the editor at this stage. Instead, my main purpose is to open up the game possibilities in terms of making the NPCs more interesting. Doing things like changing Aerie into a fighter/cleric/mage has added a lot more flavor to my game. I don’t feel that these are game breaking changes either but a way to supplement some severe issues with the existing NPCs and creating more incentives in using 5 NPCs for your party.
I did talk a bit about some ideas that I was bouncing around in my head in my previous blog. So what I ended up doing is following most of them with a few exceptions. Here’s a summary of what I decided upon:
- Minsc – Definitely switched to Archer. The nice thing is that you get a lot of bonus dialog. He probably will be my primary switch character.
- Aerie – Went with the elf fighter/cleric/mage. No seen penalty thus far in triple classing her in this manner. Main benefits include more hit points (I boosted her constitution quite a bit) and the specialization with blunt weapons. I took out my half-elf ranger/cleric who normally dual wielded and replaced her with Aerie. Right now, Aerie wields a flail/shield (Flail of the Ages) but my goal will be to have her special in dual wielding down the line. She loses a bit on armor compared to a ranger/cleric and a few druidic spells, but she has more access to items from the mage side and can cast more defensives. Can be an absolute terror with the right armor pieces and one of the mega hammers. Won’t be able to cast the high level mage spells, but she will be more of a versatile character rather than a dedicated spell caster.
- Imoen/Nalia – Decided to change their thief class to a swashbuckler then give them a few points in short bows, short swords and dual wielding. Gives a little more utility overall. Won’t be able to get Use Any Item but not really necessary with this combo. Retain both for RP aspects. Allows parties with Aerie to have her use heavier armor so that this slot has the option to cast mage spells.
- Korgan – Not modified but if I decide to go with an evil party down the line, then I’ll either make him into a fighter/cleric or a fighter/thief. The nice part about the fighter/cleric choice is that you can have him dual wield and essentially replace a ranger/cleric (even gaining the ability to use the Dwarven Thrower weapon). Fighter/thief is only offered as a possibility but I think in the end the fighter/cleric option is a lot better.
- Viconia – Since I can switch Aerie into a fighter/mage/cleric, I figure I can do the same with Viconia. The other option I was thinking was switching her into a cleric/thief. Unfortunately, I don’t think you can multiclass kits (except for the Illusionist/Thief or Illusionist/Fighter). But as a cleric/thief, you will be able to obtain the Use Any Item ability down the line. I suppose you can fudge things a bit by adding some proficiencies in swords to gain the bonuses as an elf. So it really depends on what your party needs.
- Valygar – Before going on to what I think this guy needs, let me preface this by saying that I saw on some strawpoll how he was the least popular NPC. Given that Stalkers are pretty useless, I’m not surprised. Probably, the only kits that are worse are the Avenger, Shapeshifter and BeastMasters (or worse yet the cleric ones). Stalkers don’t make any sense to me. A ranger who wants to backstab? Why not just take a fighter thief? Well, that’s why I think the better solution is to convert Valygar into a fighter/thief. Or better yet a kensai/thief. I did mention that we could change him into a kensai/mage, but at this point, I’m far too loaded on mage combos. But a kensai/thief makes perfect sense for this NPC. The downside is the long road to Use Any Item. But once you gain Use Any Item, you will be able to start using armor again as a fighter. In the end, the real question becomes whether you want to stick it out that long just for this NPC. You could even change his alignment to neutral or evil if you need another evil NPC.
- Edwin – The Dragon Disciple class is something I’ve been wanting to toy around with but I haven’t found a good motivation to using one on my own. I suppose with an evil aligned party, you pretty much are limited in choices for NPCs, making Edwin very compelling. The Dragon Disciple class makes him even more compelling.
- Mazzy – Fighter/Thief? I suppose with the editor you CAN change her into a paladin, perhaps even an undead hunter, which would make her super cool. Unfortunately, I don’t think she can use a two-handed sword or even a bastard sword, which would invalidate her from using a Holy Avenger. This is something I really would love to experiment with since I never use Mazzy.
- Sarevok – I’ve never used Sarevok in any of my parties mostly because I take a lot of custom parties, which precludes the use of non-essential NPCs. I consider Sarevok non-essential but incredibly interesting. It’s just that a plain fighter is too plain. Sure, you can dual-class Sarevok but at the heart, he’s still just a plain old fighter. Since you entering Throne of Bhaal at a much higher level, why not dual class him into something really cool? So What could be fun? Kensai/Mage? Kensai/Thief? Wizard Slayer/Thief? Berserker/Mage? Berserker/Cleric? All are legitimate and offer fun combos to compliment an existing party. I’m kinda leaning towards the Kensai/Thief, even though I wanted Valygar to take on that role. The idea here is that you wouldn’t have to invest as much in Throne of Bhaal since you’re expected to play at a much higher level than Shadows of Amn. So boosting Sarevok up a bit and making him competitive makes his character far more compelling to use in your group.
With my newfound love for mod’ing, I ended settling on Minsc, Keldorn, Aerie, Nalia/Imoen, Jaheira with my elf fighter/mage/thief leading. I figure at certain points in the game I can swap out Minsc or Nalia for NPC side quests, perhaps leaning towards replacing Minsc entirely in Throne of Bhaal for Sarevok. It would be interesting to see Keldorn and Sarevok’s dialog.
For an evil party, I still haven’t really come up with a good solution. Pretty much I’m looking at Viconia (Fighter/Mage/Cleric), Edwin (Dragon Disciple), Korgan (Fighter/Cleric), Jaheira (Fighter/Druid) (only temporarily for Trademeet Quest), Dorn (Blackguard) with the intent of using Sarevok (should Jaheira not make it). Unfortunately, you’re kinda screwed early on because you only receive neutral or good NPCs. So I found it difficult figuring out a good starting character. Fighter/Mage/Thief? Or perhaps a Blackguard that replaces Dorn or skips out on Jaheira entirely.
Anyway, the game has opened up once again. And for the record, yes I am bored when it comes to games since I stopped subscribing to World of Warcraft and am burnt out on D3 for the time being.