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BG2/ToB - Valen NPC Mod Review

Discussion in 'Mod Reviews' started by Mystra's Chosen, Oct 23, 2004.

  1. Mystra's Chosen Gems: 22/31
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    Version: Release v41
    Review first posted on: October 23, 2004
    Review updated:
    Mod download location: http://www.weidu.org/valen.html


    Apparently, Wes Weimer was a little burnt out from doing the Solaufein mod, so he decided to do a totally different one just for fun. There’s no romance as far as I know. There are no Valen specific quests, either. Nevertheless, you’ll still get pulled in by the story. Well, somewhat. Anyway, moving right along, let’s get down to the basics…

    Valen is a chaotic evil vampiric fighter/thief. She won’t get along with Aerie, Keldorn, Mazzy or LN/LG Anomen. She comes ready to rock with a Helm of Defense, Boots of Stealth, her primary mode of destruction, her claws ( screenshot ), and some special, undroppable armor that keeps her from cooking in the sun (because, as a vampire, ultraviolet light will burn her flesh. Thanks, Blade II.) She also comes with a very unique AI setup, which I’ll go into more detail later. Her stats are as follows:

    STR: 18/75
    DEX: 17
    CON: 9
    INT: 16
    WIS: 10
    CHA: 15

    Personality

    No NPC is ever complete without some kind of personality. If they didn’t have one, they’d just be henchmen (damn NWN!). Valen is, of course, no exception. I’d say that’s the best part of this mod actually. She is very evil, and very chaotic, and when she pops in and says something, almost for certain someone is about to die ( screenshot ). She’s also unquenchable in her lust for blood and gore. She’ll push you into a lot of fights, or she’ll just plain up and off someone who’s either annoying her ( screenshot ), or is flaunting their life source about like… ummm… well, I can’t think of a cogent simile for that. She’s also rather ambitious, and always on the lookout for profit ( screenshot ).

    Her AI, which reflects her personality, is very unique and interesting. For instance, she’ll immediately attack anything hostile within her sight, even when the party AI is turned off. But she’s also cool, collected and intelligent, so she’ll hide in shadows constantly, and then immediately start looking for traps. Bodhi ordered her to make sure the PC stays alive, so this makes perfect sense. But once she gets even a hint that there’s something she can kill nearby, everything goes out the window and she hoofs it over and starts swingin’ ( screenshot ). This makes sense, since it fits that a vampire should be practically uncontrollable when there’s fresh meat around. She can also cast Domination ( screenshot ) at will (not at your will; at hers), which gets more powerful as she gains experience. You can turn each option off independently ( screenshot ).

    Content

    Without getting into too much detail, basically the plot is that Valen is supposed to help you in your “dealings” with the Shadow Thieves. Once in Spellhold, Bodhi no longer needs Valen, so you get to keep her. Bodhi refuses Valen’s pleas to take her back a second time as well ( screenshot ).

    Along the way, Valen’s innate vampiric abilities (immunities, level drain, etc.) will increase with experience. She moves up the vampire hierarchy from Fledgling to Matriarch. With each upgrade ( screenshot ) she gets a significant increase in her abilities, either by way of better stats, better claws, or better backstab, or all ( screenshot ).

    Valen, like all undead, has certain strengths and weaknesses. Namely her weaknesses are: sunlight, anti-undead spells (Sunray, Bolt of Glory, etc.) and items (Mace of Disruption, Azuredge, etc. She can also be burned by “holy” items). She can also be turned by clerics, so if you happen to have a non-evil cleric in your party, then there’s the possibility you could blow her straight to the negative plane. Also, like I said before, she just can’t handle the sunlight. She gets really stressed and can’t function when she’s out in it ( screenshot ). Her strengths are: immunities to hold, charm, confusion, stun, and poison and her level drain. She also gets upgrades about every 1.5 million XP, which make her way more powerful. By the end of SoA, she’ll have 21 STR, 20 DEX, 19 INT, and 18 CHA ( screenshot ), she’ll regenerate about 1 HP/second and she’ll drain 4 levels with each hit. Even Firkraag has only 23 levels, so if she hits him 6 times, he’s dead. Another innate ability she has, which is seriously exploitable, is the ability to turn into a gaseous form ( screenshot ) when she gets around 25% HP. In this form, she practically cannot be harmed. This means that for a particularly tough melee battle, you can have her run up, get pounded into mist, then when the baddie is concentrating harmlessly on Valen, your other characters can run up and whack at it for all they’re worth. Luckily it gets switched off on hard difficulty or more (which any respectable BG2 player should be on when Valen is in the party. :) )

    As is Weimer’s style, Valen’s challenge was almost impossibly hard. Three Undead Hunters and a Cleric/Ranger ( screenshot ) , all of whom are Protected from the Undead, swoop in as soon as Valen hits 2.5 million XP and basically massacre her. Once you do finally defeat them though, you realize that for each one you killed, your reputation dropped 4 points. A lot of people aren’t so great at math, me included, so I whipped out my calculator to save you some time. 16 point reputation drop.. That bombshell is probably equivalent to the president getting caught in a motel with a dead hooker and a kilo of coke.

    Bottom Line

    This is a really good concept, with a great story and wonderfully original AI, but the fact of the matter is, is that she is so powerful that she makes even the most powerful enemies laughable. Her level drain is too powerful, her stats are crazy by the end of SoA, and she’s immune to every disabling spell in the book. She can single-handedly take on Mind Flayers, with no buffs or special items.

    Also, there is no way to develop her. The mod does it all automatically. You can’t choose anything with her when she upgrades, whether it’s which stats get boosted, or whether she gets better at dominating enemies vs. a better backstab multiplier. In my opinion, that is very, very bad. Basically, when she leveled up, I didn’t know what to do! I just threw away the proficiency points. In BG2, a whole lot of the fun is in simply getting new and better items and building your character. With Valen, the only thing I put on her throughout the whole game was a Cloak of Protection and a couple rings. I realize that this adds to the fact that, because of Valen chaotic personality, she should be uncontrollable, but this doesn’t change the fact that it seriously puts a damper on any replayability this mod might’ve had.

    Now don’t get me wrong. I really enjoyed playing this mod. I couldn’t wait to find out how Weimer would unravel the storyline (i.e. how is it that Valen, who serves her “mistress and no other” ends up staying with you to kill Bodhi?), which, I must say, he did masterfully. All I’m saying is that I can’t see myself playing it again in the near future.

    Overview

    Pros: Interesting character & plotline, great AI, no bugs were encountered.
    Cons: Overpowered/Unbalanced, limited replayability.

    Rating: 6/10

    [ October 24, 2004, 21:24: Message edited by: Taluntain ]
     
  2. Kam Gems: 15/31
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    Just to let you know, if you didn't, some folks (not weimer) are working on an expansion over at PPG. They aim to develop her character more, possibly with a romance. Hopefully, they'll balance her a little bit better. If they pull it off, it should be worth a comparison review. As it is though, you're totally right; Valen is hideously overpowered, though far from invincible.
     
  3. joacqin

    joacqin Confused Jerk Veteran

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    The screenshot of Valen in the sun dont work, otherwise a kickbutt review. I might try her out for one of my wickedly evil kill everything SoA runs.
     
  4. Eric Xanthus Gems: 10/31
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    I greatly enjoyed Valen when I played it. Sadly I never finished it, thanks to a power surge that fried my computer. But the comment about replayability is right on--I'm not sure I'll ever want to start a new Valen game just to see the ending.

    However, everyone should try this mod once--my favorite aspect (other than the smiting part) is how well integrated Valen's interjections are to the main storyline. Hmm....maybe I'll talk myself into replaying it after all.
     
  5. Mystra's Chosen Gems: 22/31
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    Joacqin - I don't know what's with that screenshot. I'll PM Tal. He should know what to do.

    Kam - Yeah. T.G. Maestro rebalanced her quite a bit. http://forums.forgottenwars.net/index.php?showtopic=2352


    I considered making Valen more balanced by a) making her a vanilla thief, b) giving her no proficiencies in Daggers, which is what her claws count as, c) giving her no items.

    This should at least make her even with the other NPC's :p

    [ October 24, 2004, 05:45: Message edited by: Mystra's Chosen ]
     
  6. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    I prettified the review a bit, added the missing screenshot, and broke it down into paragraphs so it should be easier to read now.
     
  7. Aldeth the Foppish Idiot

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

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    @MC

    Good review. A couple of things I'd like to add. First, I tried Valen out but I was unable to finish it because she suddenly stopped attacking any enemies once she hit 1.5 million XP (her first upgraded level).

    One thing I have found that makes her more enjoyable is to unequip her claws and give her regular (or magical) daggers. That kills the level drain abilities, and uncheeses the character somewhat.

    The other thing I noticed is that when you start the fight with Anath (the Werewolf), that Anath is damn-near untouchable other than by level draining her to death. I don't know why, she's a greater werewolf, and so she should be able to be hit by anything a greater werewolf could be hit by, but I simply couldn't touch her.
     
  8. Mystra's Chosen Gems: 22/31
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    Yeah I noticed that too. Even with +4 weapons nobody could touch her. I ended up just using magic to beat her down. I guess Weimer figured Anath, being the leader of a pack, should be completely immune to even the most enchanted weapons.

    Oh well, I'm thinking he might've lowered her magic resistance, because I encountered little, if any.

    Weird about that bug you expierienced. For my game she was as bloodthirsty as ever right til the end. I assume you tried a re-install, eh?
     
  9. Disciple of The Watch

    Disciple of The Watch Preparing The Coming of The New Order Veteran

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    Valen. Now THAT'S a mod I really dig! A babe with a true attitude, and as opposed to Saerileth, doesen't end up getting on my nerves.

    This mod was quite the refreshing change, I still definitively dig it, and I am looking foward to Thorium Dragon's expansion of it. I'm especially looking foward to the romance part, even though many might disagree with me. The fight with the vampire hunters in ToB was pretty darn intense too.

    Truly a must-have for evil parties. We need some more evil mods out there!
     
  10. Drew

    Drew Arrogant, contemptible, and obnoxious Adored Veteran

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    Since this thread has been revived.......
    Actually, it's in the unmodded game. Weimer didn't do that. You need to use a "cold iron" weapon to hit Anath. Unfortunately, almost no weapons found in SoA or ToB are flagged as cold iron.
     

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