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BG2 - Expanded Thief Stronghold Mod Review

Discussion in 'Mod Reviews' started by Montresor, May 2, 2012.

  1. Montresor

    Montresor Mostly Harmless Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder

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    BG2 - EXPANDED THIEF STRONGHOLD

    This is a review of the Expanded Thief Stronghold mod for Baldur's Gate 2 – Shadows of Amn. The mod can be installed with or without the Throne of Bhaal expansion installed but it only affects Shadows of Amn.

    Download Location: Spellhold Studios

    Version: 2.20

    Please note: The version originally reviewed was version 2.14 but this download link is no longer active. I have not checked version 2.20.

    Installation and removal: As the Readme says, just double-click the BAT file and let WeiDU do its magic. Double-click the BAT file again to remove the mod.


    INTRODUCTION

    Any adventuring party hoping to make it through the Shadows of Amn (and beyond) needs a good thief. Or an evil one, or a neutral one. Problem is, the selection of thief NPCs is rather limited. You could choose Nalia, but she is really a mage who can wield thief weapons – her thief skills are hopelessly inadequate for your needs. Or you can go with your little half-sister Imoen whose thief skills will see you through the game (albeit barely). Or there is Jan Jansen, if you can stand his crazy tales and turnip jokes.

    The fourth solution is to play the party thief yourself. But the thief stronghold is ... well, a bit boring. You get two small stronghold quests, and you get to run back to Athkatla every few days to issue instructions to your thieves, bail them out of jail when they get into trouble, and pay off Renal's quartermaster. And that's about it.

    This is where the Expanded Thief Stronghold mod comes into play. It adds a bit of oomph to an otherwise rather bland stronghold.

    I tested the mod with two different parties; a good party and an evil party. In both cases the protagonist was a multi-classed Fighter/Thief.

    NEW CONTENT

    The mod makes a number of changes to the Thief stronghold: Two brand-new stronghold quests, the option of breaking your thieves out of prison if they get caught, a few new characters ... and it makes it a lot harder to run your thieves' guild profitably while maintaining a decent reputation.

    New stronghold quests

    The old stronghold had two minor quests: To meet Ada in Waukeen's Promenade, and to solve the problem of the thief who is "skimming" the "profits".

    Once you have solved these, wait for a few days and then return to the guildhall. Jariel will tell you that you will shortly receive reinforcements. Turns out the reinforcements are a couple of old acquaintances from Baldur's Gate; Narlen Darkwalk and Black Lily. As it happens, Narlen turns up alone and you will have to follow him to a new area and fight a moderately hard battle to free Black Lily and the rest of the thieves. The enemy boss, Gruuk the Hairy, drops a very nice dagger, the Cat's Claw +2, which gives you two proficiency points in two-weapon style – perfect for the off hand.

    Once you have freed the thieves, Narlan and Dark Lily can be found on the 2nd floor of the guildhall and every five days they will leave some nice loot in your safe – a few hundred gold pieces and some gems; up to and including Rogue Stones if you are lucky.

    A few days later you will be warned that the new captain of the guard has decided to put an end to the Shadow Thieves' "activities" in the Docks. Naturally, you'll have to stop him before he stops you! You will also receive an offer from Renal Bloodscalp to lend you some of his finest assassins to help out. By all means accept!

    NOTE: Before taking on this quest, I recommend that you pay a short visit to the Barracks building in the Docks, especially if like me you have the Unfinished Business mod installed! Please see under "Bugs" below.

    Your job will be to clear out the Barracks building in the Docks, all three levels of it. Outside the building wait your assassins and also Lt. Betta and a couple of guards. You will have to kill the soldiers, costing the party 3 reputation points. Inside waits a battalion of guards on levels one and two. On the third floor you'll have to fight even more soldiers plus Captain Sterling and a couple of mages. Killing the captain costs you another 3 reputation points.

    Thieves in Prison

    When your thieves ended up in prison, you would normally have the options to bail them out or to leave them to rot. The mod gives you a third option: To enter the prison in the Government District and break them out yourself.

    In fact, bribing their way out of prison is no longer a viable option if you want to run the guild profitably, since the prices for bailing them out have been raised considerably. With the mod it will cost you between 1000 and 2000 gp to bail a thief out. So ...

    To break a thief out of prison you'll need to go to the Government District and find the southern entrance to the prison. Outside you may meet anything from a couple of very hostile guards up to (I think depending on your level and the number of times you have broken your thieves out) several guards and Cowled Enforcers. Inside the prison may be more guards and wizards. Find your imprisoned thieves and speak to them to get them out.

    Kamuzu the Alchemist

    Remember Kamuzu? The old man who Mae'Var had held imprisoned for ten years? The one who warned you against Ada's treachery. Turns out now that he is an alchemist. If you let him, he will open a Potion shop on the third floor of the guildhall. His store inventory includes: Potions of Extra Healing, Potions of Perception, Potions of Invisibility, Oils of Speed, Potions of Mind Focusing, Potions of Power, Potions of Stone Form, and Potions of Firebreath – and he has it all in unlimited supply.

    BUGS

    I found one incredibly annoying bug while testing the mod. The bug is discussed at the Gibberlings 3 forum here: http://forums.gibberlings3.net/index.php?showtopic=19252 and is apparently caused by a combination of the Unfinished Business mod and the Expanded Thief Stronghold.

    When you first enter the Barracks building in the Docks, you will find the Guard Captain speaking to another guard before turning to you and telling you that you are not welcome there.

    For the battle of the barracks (please see above) both the Captain and the guard should not be present. But the problem is, the Captain IS present on the first floor and repeatedly initiates the dialog with the non-present guard every few seconds. If you kill him, your reputation takes a heavy blow because the game considers him an innocent bystander.

    You can avoid the problem by visiting the barracks before the battle to play out the dialog. Still, the bug should be removed from a later version of the mod.

    CONCLUSION

    The mod adds a considerable amount of content to what used to be a rather bland stronghold. You get two new challenging stronghold quests and running the thieves' guild profitably becomes a lot harder unless you learn to break your thieves out of prison rather than paying their way out. The thief stronghold becomes less like running a business as you get to engage actively in a bit of thuggery.

    Also, the mod makes the game much harder for a thief. Your reputation takes a blow during the battle in the barracks, making it more difficult for you to maintain a decent reputation. But then one could easily argue that a thief ought to have a poor reputation. This is especially problematic for a thief of good alignment, in which case you could also argue that a good-aligned thief shouldn't accept the stronghold and run a pack of thieves who smuggle dangerous goods, burgle people's homes and lift purses in the slums.

    The annoying bug described above can't be faulted on this mod alone; nonetheless it would be nice to see it removed from future versions of the mod.

    Overall evaluation on a scale from 1 to 10: 8 points.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2013

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