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BG2/ToB - Item Upgrade Modification Pack Review

Discussion in 'Mod Reviews' started by Aldeth the Foppish Idiot, May 5, 2004.

  1. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    Item Upgrade Modification Pack
    Version: v31
    Review First Posted On: May 5, 2004
    Review Updated On: May 10, 2004
    Download the Mod: here

    Never has a mod sparked more of a Roe vs. Wade-esque controversy than the Item Upgrade Mod. The basis of the mod is simple: Essentially, you take one or more magical items, and have Cromwell or Cespenar combine them with various other items, gems and some gold, to produce an enhanced version of the old item, or an item with the combined properties of the old items. An example of an enhanced version of an old item would be if you have Celestial Fury, a Demon Heart, a Wand of Lightning, and 20,000 gp, Cromwell or Cespenar can combine these items to produce Celestial Fury +5. The new weapon retains all of the old abilities of Celestial Fury, but now strikes (and gives the appropriate to hit and damage bonus) as a +5 weapon instead of a +3 weapon. An example of an new item gaining the combined abilities of old items would be if you have the Boots of Stealth, Boots of Speed, a Rouge Stone, and 10,000 gp, Cromwell or Cespenar can combine these items to produce Boots of Celeritous Stealth. This new item grants the wearer a bonus to Move Silently and Hide in Shadows like the Boots of Stealth, and also grants the wearer an increased movement rate like the Boots of Speed.

    OK, so what’s so controversial? Well, there is the small point that these items were not in the original game, were never intended to be in the original game (as opposed to the Unfinished Business Mod), and are obviously much more powerful that their non-upgraded counterparts. It can easily be argued that perhaps the main reason that Boots of Celeritous Stealth were not available in the original game was that the designers felt that an item that granted enhanced movement rate and thieving abilities was overpowered. Or similarly, because Celestial Fury was already a +3 weapon, and has a ton of other abilities, making it a +5 weapon was overkill, even though in its +3 state it couldn’t hit a very small percentage of creatures you could encounter in the game.

    On the other side of that coin are the people who claim that while the above statements are certainly true, you have to give up quite a bit to gain these items. The combined items are more powerful, but sometimes it is better to have two characters use separate lesser items than one character having a single powerful item. Once combined, the items cannot be separated again, so if you decide it would be better to have one character move fast, and have another character with the enhanced Stealth ability, you’re out of luck. Additionally, gold actually becomes an issue if you are using the Item Upgrade Mod. Not only are many of the upgrades rather expensive (up to 25,000 gp) you also can’t sell the gems and other items you use to make the enhanced item, so you’re missing out on the potential income from those items. Essentially, you’ll be earning a little less money, but spending a whole lot more. Finally, by introducing a whole new set of items into the game, you make it “new” again so to speak. It adds some spice to the game as you can use equipment you never had access to before.

    I’m kind of on the fence with this mod. By the time you get to ToB, there are so many powerful items that Celestial Fury +5 doesn’t seem particularly overpowered when compared to weapons like the Ravager +6 or Carsomyr +6. On the other hand, these powerful items aren’t available until ToB for the very reason that they would be overpowered in the SoA segment of the game. However, since +6 weapons are significantly more powerful than +5 weapons (as they aren’t affected by the spell Absolute Immunity), and with the exception of Soul Reaver +6 there are no +6 weapons available in the Item Upgrade Mod, I feel that most of these items, though very powerful, are legitimate enough to be used.

    Of course, I added the caveat of “most” items are legitimate, for there are some issues with the Item Upgrade Mod that seem to bend the rules a bit too far for my liking. For example, none of the upgraded items are considered “magical” for the purposes of armor compatibility issues. You wouldn’t be able to wear a Ring of Protection +2, along with the Armor of the Hart, because you aren’t allowed to wear a ring, amulet, or cloak of protection along with magical armor. However, if you take a Ring of Protection +2 and combine it with a Ring of Regeneration, a Diamond, and 20,000 gp to make a Ring of Preservation, you can wear that ring with all of the properties of both rings combined with any magical armor that you wish. This is certainly a departure from the standard interpretation of the rules.

    The final issue is that some of the items are completely, utterly, and unquestionably overpowered. The best example I can find for this is the available upgrade for the Impaler +3. The Impaler is a spear that you get from the Fish King (whose name I will not even attempt to spell) in the City of Caverns. This nifty weapon is a +3 spear that adds an additional 10 points of damage per strike, so that it has a base damage rating of 15-20, as opposed to a typical +3 spear with a base damage rating of 5-10. As it so happens, you can combine the Impaler, a Rouge Stone and 15,000 gp to upgrade the Impaler. It becomes a +4 weapon, makes it into a throwing spear that has a long bow rate of fire and that also returns to the thrower’s hand. To put that into perspective, a character with grand mastery in spears would be able to throw it four times per round, giving him a base damage potential of up to 80, before any additional strength or mastery bonuses are factored in. Once those strength and mastery bonuses are added, it simply becomes the most damaging weapon in the game bar none. If that’s not the definition of overpowered, I don’t know what is.

    Based on all of this, it is impossible to rate this mod. If you view the above as cheating, you would give it 0 out of 10. If you see nothing wrong with this, then you would give it 10 out of 10. Of course, that’s a decision for each individual player to make on his or her own. I, myself, have adopted a middle-of-the-road approach with this mod. I don’t make or use any of the extremely overpowered items, and I don’t wear rings/amulets/cloaks/etc along with magical armor, even though the game will allow you to do it with the upgraded items. My personal sentiment is that the mod offers a layer of enjoyment to the game if it is implemented properly. That having been said, cheesers will exploit it, and purists will despise it.

    [ May 10, 2004, 16:15: Message edited by: Aldeth the Foppish Idiot ]
     
  2. Splunge

    Splunge Bhaal’s financial advisor ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Agreed. The "wearing more than 1 magical item" thing is a perfect example.

    Personally, being somewhat of a poweergamer, I love this mod. Pitchwife +5 is one of my favorites. But it's true that it can be difficult to raise gold for these items, particulary if you don't have a thief who can steal items and then sell them to a fence (I am talking about doing this only once per fence, not the cheesy sell-steal routine with the same fence over and over again). So for me, it adds a new and enjoyable dimension to the game.
     
  3. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    I should probably add the caveat that gold is an issue in the SoA segment of the game. Gold is very rarely an issue in the ToB section, as every guy you run across is wearing +3 armor and wielding a +3 weapon, so you're essentially earning a couple thousand gold pieces per kill. But in SoA, there simply isn't enough money unless you do the steal/sell technique.

    EDIT: And yes, Pitchwife is the bomb. Especially good for Jaheira and anyone who is part theif, as it hits everything, and you can backstab with it.
     
  4. david w Gems: 19/31
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    Really? My understanding was that Protection from Magical Weapons protected you from all magical weapons no matter what their bonus. Don't you mean Absolute Immunity which grants immunity to anything less than +6?


    I've always been in two minds about the mod itself. On one hand, it adds some truly amazing items to the game and it's a real kick watching your upgraded Kitthix take down Liches and Dragons single-handedly. On the other hand, it adds a lot of items to the game that are way too powerful, even on insane difficulty. If a mod could be brought out to increase the difficulty to take into account all of these upgraded items then Item Upgrade would work better, but in its current format it just adds too many overpowered items.

    The money side of things is also a pain as in the original game you can have Cromwell forge Crom Faeyr (the most powerful weapon in SOA) for a fraction of what the Upgrade mod charges for an item a fifth as useful. Admittedly, you generally end up with so much gold that it seldom becomes too much of an issue but it often seems strange that you can acquire the best weapon in the game for a third of what a slightly upgraded magic ring costs.
     
  5. Earl Grey

    Earl Grey Mmm... hot tea! Veteran

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    I feel the same as david w. Please confirm if Pf Magical Weapons does not protect against +6 weapons!

    IMO gold is not an issue in SoA!
    Perhaps Aldeth tFI means it can become an issue if you want to construct lots of the items in the Item Upgrade Mod? I don't know since I have never used that mod.

    My opinion is that ToB is far too Monty Haulish as it is with all the +5/+6 weapons and I would/will not use this mod.

    Very good review of the mod, Aldeth! :thumb:
     
  6. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

    Aldeth the Foppish Idiot Armed with My Mallet O' Thinking Veteran

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    Yes. My bad - editing review for that change.

    Obviously, yes. If you don't want to make many of the items, then gold won't be an issue, just as gold won't be an issue in the game without the mod. The hard part of doing this review was I wanted to try every new item out (which is why I played a fighter/thief to get the UAI ability). I also wanted to compare them to the existing upgrades that Cespanar and Cromwell could make. So I needed a ridiculous amount of gold. I actually had to wait until ToB to make all of the upgrades, because I simply didn't have the money during the SoA section.
     
  7. Bombur

    Bombur I'm always last and I don't like it

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    Chalk me up in the "overpowered" column. And just how does a dwarven blacksmith suddenly become well versed in the creation of all sorts of magical items. He's now a jeweler, a tailor, and an incredibly powerful mage. Not only can he make armor and weapons out of parts, he can actually merge existing items into different items, mystically combining the essence of multiple weapons into one "pitchwife," for example. Just how is a smith supposed to accomplish that?

    Anyway, it's not like it isn't in the spirit of ToB. Cespenar does as much with certain original items. Peons like smiths and imps shouldn't be making these things, but as long as Cespenar does, I guess it's okay for Cromwell.

    Personally, I think there are already too many powerful items in the game without adding more. That being said, if you combine this mod with others that make the game more difficult (tactics, etc.), I suppose you can argue that there is a kind of balance.
     
  8. Mystra's Chosen Gems: 22/31
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    I use this mod all the time for Keldorn's and Valygar's armour. I agree that many of the items are overpowered, like the Unholy Reaver, but just don't upgrade them. I never use the weapons anyway. The only thing I've ever used is the armour.

    I just like the look of Keldorn's upgraded armour.
     
  9. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Veteran

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    Cromwell has lost the ability to upgrade the ordinary items since I installed this mod. I get some other dialogue when I ask him to go on after he has listed what he can do with the new stuff.
     
  10. Splunge

    Splunge Bhaal’s financial advisor ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    @ joacqin - that's what I thought at first, too. But when you talk to him, just follow the first dialogue choice, and you'll get there.
     
  11. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Veteran

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    All right, I will try that. It is a huge chunk of dialogue thingy he spouts off though.
     
  12. JSBB Gems: 31/31
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    He should give the normal three choices in the first dialogue tree and then should give a list (it can be huge depending upon how many upgradable items you have) where the first option is, as splunge said, for him to Go to It (i.e. go through your pack like he would unmodded).

    After that there should be listed any of the mod-upgradable items as dialogue choices 2 to whatever. Choice 1 will usually not be visible without scrolling up the dialogue box.
     
  13. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Veteran

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    It worked after me and Cromwell exchanged part of the Ritual dialogue he finally found my Gesen parts and got to work.
     
  14. Omnipotent Gems: 1/31
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    The unholy reaver is powerful but isnt made in SoA and wont be complete 4 most people untill nearer the end of ToB so i dont think it really spoils anything. (it does look good on Sarevok though).

    yeah its a bit sucky wearing loads of magical gear together so its up to yerselves to not do it or wotever. just ramp the hardness up and make it challenging - its a good feature.

    pitchwife rules - i love clubs now - hehe

    i liked the combined boots and elemental ones - a bit over kill but i cant make them all anyways unless u cheat for the money u usually have to wait til ToB to see everything.

    i liked it cos if u have a pala the mod fixes the avenger so it performs as its described to do.

    anyway like all mods it optional choose to use it or not. i install it everytime now. just dont abuse its 'bugs' too much.
     
  15. virtualsri Gems: 2/31
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    But Cromwell is no ordinary smith is he, not even by a far shot IMHO
     

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