Bioware Archive

Bioware Archive V2 => Hordes of the Underdark Official Campaign => Topic started by: Legacy_MrZork on October 05, 2014, 06:09:37 am

Title: Shield guardian leveling
Post by: Legacy_MrZork on October 05, 2014, 06:09:37 am


So, I am replaying HotU with my wizard and I created the Shield Guardian henchman on the Isle of the Maker. I notice that every time my toon levels up, an error appears saying that the level-up for the Shield Guardian failed for class 13. Basically, every time a PC finishes leveling up, a script runs that tries to level up that PC's henchmen and it fails for the SG because his feats and so on aren't set up properly for a legit level-up from level one.


(BTW, I historically prefer Deekin as my henchman in HotU because I find his dialog the most entertaining. And, he can be a useful sidekick, with the right gear. But, I was a little less interested in chatting with henchmen on this run and wanted to try something different.)


Obviously, the easiest thing is to just ignore the SG's level-up error message, but I thought this might be an opportunity to learn something about the henchman level-up process. So, the first thing I was going to do was to set the X2_JUST_A_FOLLOWER flag on the SG and be done with it. That tells the leveling script not to bother leveling this henchman, basically the same result as what was already happening, but without the error message. Setting that flag would be totally straightforward and I expect that that's what Bioware intended to do. Probably, either they forgot to set it or some mod that I added at some point changed it. (I don't recall doing that and no mod I have used has any obvious reason to change the HotU-specific script that spawns the SG.)


Another option, and one that worked well with my goal of learning about the henchman level-up process, was to make the SG an actual level-able henchman. In addition, I was looking to do this play-through without hiring any other henchmen, like Aribeth or Valen, but I wanted a tank to help out my mage. This approach would allow the SG to scale a bit as my PC leveled, so that he isn't stuck with the same 28 AC and 160 HP that he had at level 20.


It was remarkably easy, once I figured out how things worked. A few 2DA changes, a couple small script changes, and a new creature template and it was done. I am generally happy with it. Now the SG will get more HP as my toon levels and also increase its AC a bit as time goes on. Since the scripts and template fit nicely in an ERF (or potentially in the override) and the 2DA changes are easy to plop into something like CEP's custom HAK, I could also bring this guy along to another module if I decide to continue this toon along after HotU.


I was wondering if anyone else has done something similar and what approach they took?


Title: Shield guardian leveling
Post by: Legacy_HipMaestro on October 05, 2014, 07:46:33 am


Never got that message myself, MrZork.  :(


My problem was that the amulet would destroy itself at some point, which was really annoying because I wanted it for the massed battle and also vs. the Valsharess.  Can't recall if the disappearance coincided with a level-up, though your report makes me wonder.  I suspect not.  I think it was unrelated to any unique occurrence like leveling or finishing a quest.  When the guardian was destroyed, so was the ammy, not always the first time, but eventually.  Yet it didn't happen in every game that way.  I seem to remember the first time I built a golem it worked as designed, essentially an item with infinite summoning charges.  I tried keeping it equipped, never moving it into inventory but that didn't help.  Still went *poof*. :huh:


I believe the scripting places a prereq on minimum wiz or sorc levels before the golem parts begin to appear in caches.  I've never tested it, but reaching that prereq while leveling between visits may throw a monkey wrench into the mechanics of seeding the parts correctly (dunno if the script is loaded entering the island area, the ruins or touching each of the cache placeables).  Perhaps there is a similar prereq set on using the ammy?


TBH though, the golem really wasn't all that handy for an XP hog like me who must tolerate Deekin's incessant complaints about repeatedly dropping him off as I solo the combat sessions.  So consequently, I never summon any help,  But I'd still like to have it available at least as a decoy under special circumstances (like vs. Meph in Ch3).


Just for reference, I've always played HotU w/pure vanilla resources so there never could have been an override conflict of some sort, though I believe one or more of the premiums installed some hakpaks.  But they have been there along with the original Diamond v1.66 installation so I never paid them any mind.


I realize my comments really don't address your particular issue and I apologize for that, but it seems its (respawning the golem on demand) implementation is bugged somehow or under certain circumstances so all the anomalies related to the care and feeding of the golem may have some common connective tissue.


Would be sweet if you could piece together a fix, though. :rolleyes:


Title: Shield guardian leveling
Post by: Legacy_MrZork on October 06, 2014, 06:12:55 am


HipMaestro, I am pretty sure that the amulet is destroyed when the Shield Guardian dies. At least, that's the only time I have seen it happen and that's what the SG's OnDeath script calls for. And, you are right that there is a minimum arcane caster level in order for the golem parts to show up when searching the Maker's area. I think the PC has to have at least 5 levels of wizard or sorcerer when he enters the for the golem parts to be created. However, I think (haven't tested) that the PC can return any time before chapter 2 is done if he has the levels and the golem loot will be created for the PC to find.


Related to that, having the SG be re-create-able after each death by using the amulet might be more of a change than a fix, in the strict sense. At least, when I was looking over the scripts, it seemed pretty likely that Bioware's intent was that the Shield Guardian was intended to last only as long as you could keep him alive. The amulet isn't intended to respawn dead SGs. As best I can tell, it's a tool 1) in case the golem gets stuck somewhere and using it is supposed to teleport the SG to the PC (I never tested if it worked) and 2) in case the SG hasn't died by the end of chapter 2, using the amulet will bring him to Cania to rejoin the PC in chapter 3. Anyway, I suspect that BW didn't intend the SG to be a renewable summons. That's partly why I wanted to have him scale a bit better (I didn't go so far as to allow the PC to give him gear). I figured that if the player wanted the SG as his henchmen, rather than one of the others, he ought to advance a bit as the PC did.


BTW, one can also avoid some of the XP loss from associates by using the radial menu to remove the SG from the party. I understand that doing that (rather than via dialogue) can cause trouble with some henchmen, but it works fine with the golem. Talking to him later starts up his usual spell-charge dialogue and pops him back into the party. From my recent run through, my wizard got to level 28 before the big battle with Mephie, even having the SG in the party the whole time, which is as far as I expect to get in HotU.


However, it wouldn't be hard to change that behavior. Changing a few lines in the SG's OnDeath script and a deceased golem could fade like a normal dead creature and then be called again by the amulet. Or, it could remain, but be resurrect-able. Or, some other mechanism could give the amulet a limited number of uses, as a compromise between what Bioware intended and an unlimited free-respawn henchman. What did you have in mind?


Title: Shield guardian leveling
Post by: Legacy_HipMaestro on October 06, 2014, 04:05:09 pm


bah! BSN duplicated post by selecting Edit! :angry:


Title: Shield guardian leveling
Post by: Legacy_HipMaestro on October 06, 2014, 04:19:33 pm


Hmm.  That's really interesting.  Never realized the default script actually caused the ammy destruction.


So, the "bugged" games must have been the ones where I was getting multiple summonings somehow.  I'm wondering now if I had been disconnecting via radial.  Memory fading. :(  I also seem to remember the golem never making it to the Reaper's realm and may have been resummoning after exiting the realm when that happened.


What is misleading is the in-game item prop that clearly states "Unique Power Self Only Unlimited Uses/Day".  But what is that supposed to be doing?  Providing unlimited resummoning? Or other action?


The item description itself is equally cryptic.


"This amulet establishes a special connection between the owner of a shield guardian and the golem itself. While the amulet is worn, the golem would be extremely protective of its master, reflecting blows and magical attacks."



This seems to infer that once summoned, removing the ammy would change the behavior of the golem, perhaps becoming a neutral NPC.  But that doesn't happen when I swap ammies.  It still attacks as part of the party and under control.


"Also, the power of the amulet is capable of teleporting the golem to its master, even if they are on different planes of existence."



This part is really confusing to me. Does it mean that "teleportating" is just another term for "summoning"? Or does it mean I should be able to bring it into the Reaper's realm when it seems lost?  Or... does it mean that the golem can't actually die, but only sent to an alternate plane?  I've never had an occasion to see if the shield golem could be dismissed or banished via hostile spell.  Perhaps you already know the result?


I'm pretty sure the ammy's +AC prop is working as designed. Haven't had an occasion to check the Reflex save boost, however.


As far as what I feel would be the optimum situation, well...


If the ammy was assigned a limited # of charges, it could be made effectively infinite with a recharger available (like the one from SoU).  I don't know if that's worse or better than the way it has been designed.  However, it would be VERY handy to be able to self-destruct the golem during combat without convo menu (my version of sending it to the other "plane of existence" in the item description) if its demise by hostiles was inevitable.  That way it could be recalled later, healed and then be able to be used "fresh" in another combat encounter. Henchmen leave a corpse that can be resurrected by divine means, but that seems inappropriate for a construct, henchman-like or not.  Perhaps an additional special property on the same ammy could accomplish that but the default script would need to be able to discern "modes" of destroying somehow.  (A related question for my own edification: are the available props the same for all jewelry slots whether ammy item or ring item or are they limited differently?)


As far as leveling a construct, boosting the stats, expanding feat list... or whatever, I think it would easier to extend the list of spells (via convo) that can be loaded, similar to how the typical spell caster hench menu escalates when they level up.  Since it already possesses the typical construct attributes like crit immunity, spell immunities/resistance and regen, I expect expanding the spell repertoire into higher level spells would be more significant.  I do like the BW implementation of customizing the active spells on demand, similar to how a sequencer robe works.


Title: Shield guardian leveling
Post by: Legacy_MrZork on October 06, 2014, 08:42:26 pm


Sorry, I forgot about the use of the amulet in multiplayer games. More broadly, the overall function is to give the PC a means of summoning the Shield Guardian as many times as needed, as long as the SG never dies. In other words, if you lose the SG because he is stuck (or left) on a different part of the map, or he isn't there when you start the next module, or some cut-scene disappears him, or you log off in a multiplayer game, or some other issue, you can can use the ammy to get him back or call him home to the PC. But, by Bioware's design, once he actually dies, the ammy is gone, along with the ability to summon him again.


Actually wearing the amulet is only necessary to summon the SG in one of those situations or to gain its AC and reflex save benefits. In fact, because of the way the amulet is scripted (where little attempt is made to distinguish between the activation, acquisition, equip, etc. events), it's not always even necessary to activate the amulet to summon the SG. Often, just taking it out of a container or equipping it will call the SG. That's actually what usually calls him the first time, when he is first created in the Maker's sanctum and the PC acquires the new Controlling Amulet (which is a different amulet after the machine is used than is found on the earlier level of the ruins).


There is no change in the SG's behavior when the amulet is worn. Despite any implication in the section of the description you quoted, it doesn't change his AI at all after he is summoned. It's worth noting, though, that if you remove him from the party (say, for XP purposes), his normal faction is merchant, so it's possible to turn him hostile with friendly fire. The version I cooked up is of the defender faction by default, to avoid potential hazards that can largely be filed under the heading Robe of Balpheron. ;-)


The second part of the description you quote is, I believe, intended to refer to the ability to summon the SG after the PC has arrived in Cania. Any other henchmen can be brought in via dialog with the Reaper, but the SG is retrieved by the amulet.


As far as limited uses goes for any revised SG/amulet system, I was actually thinking of scripting limited charges and not using the normal BW item charge mechanics for that. For one thing, the electrifier is too obvious an exploit. But, even beyond that, we don't want the amulet to disappear after the SG is summoned for the last time because we might still need to call the SG to the PC if he is separated for some reason other than the SG's death. So, using that final charge has to be done differently.


Expanding the spell-storage options isn't a bad idea, but maybe not one I would want to do. The scripting BW put together for that purpose isn't especially flexible, IMO, but, they also haven't given us great tools for examining arbitrary spells that a caster has available without cycling through every sorc/wiz spell at that level. Honestly, it's certainly doable, but I wouldn't really want to muck with it. Additionally, there would be a lot of judgement call decisions in expanding the spells storable on the SG to include higher level spells, calls about high-level spells that have much more impact than level 1-4 spells have. For one thing, lots of higher level spells (like Premonition, Mass Haste, etc.) would be duplicating defensive properties available to the PC at golem creation. Also, lots of those higher level spells aren't intended to be usable on henchmen (they are caster-only spells). For example, should a mage be able to let his golem cast Shadow Shield? Giving an associate a +5 natural AC bonus is kind of a big deal and something mages can't otherwise do. And, at least for mages who are level 17 or higher in caster level, allowing the SG to store those higher-level spells isn't really making the SG scale better, since those spells are available when the PC first gets the SG anyway and stored spells won't be cast at a higher level from the SG as the PC advances. (BTW, the latter bit about the level at which stored spells are cast is true even if the mage was only caster level 5 when he made the SG,)


BTW, another potential option for scaling the SG would be to make sure the SG is level-able as I have done, but also allow the PC to choose (most easily and perhaps logically at creation) a couple of leveling options. Perhaps the SG levels with some other leveling package that emphasizes offense or defense or some special gimmick. When I created the SGs construct leveling package, I was interested in tweaking the standard creature leveling package to give the SG a minor offensive boost, but also toughening up an epic SG a bit with some extra HP and extra AC.


I could probably just make the files I changed available in case anyone wants them. There is only a custom HAK (I used the cep2_custom.hak file since I have CEP installed, but there is nothing in that HAK file specific to CEP) and an ERF to import into the 2nd and 3rd chapters of HotU. I think most players would think it's an improvement and more playable than the default version. Of course, I may have unconsciously tailored things to my goal for the SG, which was that he tanks better as the PC advances, but that he's still similar to the SG that BW designed, basically a big iron lug and not a dexer or tumble machine.


Title: Shield guardian leveling
Post by: Legacy_MrZork on October 06, 2014, 09:16:38 pm


LOL, forgot that the whole whole of the changes I made could be put in one small HAK. Anyone wanting to try it can simply unzip this archive into the HAK folder and use the Toolset to add ShieldGuardHench to the Custom Content tab for HotU chapters 2 and 3. It should not matter where in the HAK list it appears and it is unlikely that it would conflict with other HAK that doesn't alter packages.2da (e.g. HAKs that modify the way classes level).


Title: Shield guardian leveling
Post by: Legacy_HipMaestro on October 07, 2014, 03:04:28 am


Sounds interesting, MrZork.  I'll be giving it a whirl next HotU run-through... can't say when, though.  Unless you are treating your hak as beta, perhaps consider creating a new project on the new Vault. It will probably be a more suitable venue for getting user input and downloading seems faster than with the IGN server.


Title: Shield guardian leveling
Post by: Legacy_MrZork on October 07, 2014, 07:02:47 am


I didn't realize that the IGN server was back up. That's good news. I hadn't planned any sort of general release for such a small tweak, but if I did I would put it on the new Vault.


Title: Shield guardian leveling
Post by: Legacy_HipMaestro on October 08, 2014, 02:50:58 am


I didn't realize that the IGN server was back up. That's good news. I hadn't planned any sort of general release for such a small tweak, but if I did I would put it on the new Vault.

It's not. I wish it was, though. I found the legacy comments, especially by the author, most helpful for understanding much of the content.


I suppose I should have stated, more accurately "downloading seems faster than it did with the IGN server.". I think it's because the IGN file server was located in the Far East and I don't mean New York. :P


In similar respect to the recompile tweak to get the Illithid pit wagering working again with v1.69, campaign players would appreciate any adjustments no matter how minor that help to make the experience more enjoyable.  The new Vault is the new posterity for NWN.