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Menzoberranzan (SSI) - What items to carry around and what to dump.

Discussion in 'Playground' started by Tarjei the Terrible, Apr 26, 2018.

  1. Tarjei the Terrible Gems: 1/31
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    I recently picked up this game after many years and found myself amazed at the amount of items the game throws at you from the get-go.

    I played this through a few times back in the mid 90:s, but it's been way too many years for me to recall anything but the basic quirks of the game, so I thought I'd post a thread on these forums just to see if anyone has any input/insight into this. :)

    As it stands, I'm running through the game with a Dwarf Fighter/Cleric and a Half-Elf Fighter/Mage/Cleric. The NPC:s I will be using are Drizzt, Vonar and Vlakverdling.

    Oh, and there will be spoilers ahead, but nothing too plot-revealing.

    ...

    The biggest waste of space you'll encounter are clerical scrolls. While useful, they really aren't good to haul along in the long run. Your clerics should have high enough wisdom to gain enough bonus spells to really cut down on the usefulness of clerical scrolls, and since clerics have no need to scribe scrolls to be able to pray for them - a benefit of divine magic - clerical scrolls are largely a waste of space, bar a few exceptions.

    Clerical Scrolls worth hauling around:

    Scroll of Cure Light Wounds:
    While the healing provided isn't much, these are way more useful than most other scrolls. There will come a time when your clerics will be hard pressed for healing and there's no rest in sight. Having a few scrolls can ease the load on your clerics and be invaluable! Save these until you need them!

    Scroll of Cure Serious Wonds:
    Big brother of Cure Light Wounds. These things are rarer, and should be kept for emergencies when your cleric runs out of holy juice to power his spells just as a monster decides to eat your frontline fighters.

    Scroll of Raise Dead: Obvious keeper. If you manage to get a character killed, this is the first available way to get them back, provided they're not elves. You'll naturally want to avoid getting killed, but if you do, this'll help you out a lot sooner than your clerics will, since when you find this they are typically not experienced enough.

    Scroll of Passweb: You'll need this to pass some webs early on during the descent into underdark. I'm not 100% sure about it, but this scroll might be able to be used by non-clerics on the simple basis that you absolutely need the ability to go through webs to continue the game, and the only other option is having a mage with the spell scribed in his book. I haven't tried the game without a mage or a cleric, so can't say for sure, but you don't find any potions of passweb early on which makes it a possibility that this scroll is usable by anyone.

    Scroll of Hold Person:
    Unlike most Cleric scrolls, this might actually save your life if you need to beat a hasty retreat from a mob of humanoids, or scythe through them in a hurry while most of them stand there, immobile and unresisting. Keep a few for sticky situations!

    Scroll of Slow Poison:
    This scroll could also save your life - when you find one you might want to save it in case you get poisoned and your clerics don't have any cure poisons prepared. This'll hopefully prevent your character from dying to the poison during the next rest.

    Scroll of True Seeing:
    In a game like this, having the ability to see through illusionary walls is pretty nifty! You should keep this scroll around until you run into places with many illusory walls, since it helps navigating said areas immensely. While this CAN be cast by a clerics and mages, it requires a high-level spell slot which could be put into far better use by other spells. Spares of this scroll don't hurt, either.

    Scroll of Dispel Magic: The occasions when you need this spell are so rare, that it's actually better to keep a scroll around than have your clerics keep it prepared for a "just in case" type scenario. Don't keep too many though!

    Scroll of Free Action: Allows you to resist any movement-impairing effects. You probably won't need this spell too many times so this scroll is good to keep around since it saves your cleric a high-level spell slot when you do need it in a pinch.

    Clerical Scrolls NOT worth hauling around:

    Scroll of Cause Light Wounds:
    This spell does quite low damage, and it requires a free hand and a touch-attack to use. This means you'd need to swap out a weapon (or two), swap in a scroll, read the scroll, use the charged hand icon, hope you'll hit, and then re-equip your weapon. (Or two.) - This severely limits the usefulness of this scroll, so it's best just to leave it be. If you really need or want to use the spell, your clerics can pray for it.

    Scroll of Cause Serious Wounds:
    Same deal as with Cause Light Wounds. The somewhat better damage still doesn't justify the hassle, when you could just simply bonk the enemy on the head with a weapon. Just leave this scroll be or use it immediately for novelty value.

    Scroll of Bless:
    Use when you find it. While bless is a good buff, you should likely have it cast on key party-members already. Pop this immediately on anyone who doesn't have it on already but don't carry it around. You should have a few bless spells on any cleric.

    Scroll of Protection from Evil:
    Use when you find it. Same as with bless, this spell is a useful buff which you should keep in your normal spell roster. It's not worth hauling around for long, so use upon finding on whomever isn't already blessed, or immediately upon your next rest.

    Scroll of Flame Blade:
    Use when you find it or leave it be. It's exceedingly rare that you'd want to have a flame blade spontaneously when you find this, since it requires you to dump your weapon into your inventory and haul it around. If you are using flame blade, chances are it's already up and you don't need the scroll anyway. If you pick it up, use upon next rest or after your flame blade duration runs out, but don't keep it around for long!

    Scroll of Darkfire:
    Use when you find it or leave it be. As with Flame Blade, it's rare you'd spontaneously want this instead of a regular weapon, and if you do you'll probably have it prepared already.

    Scroll of Spiritual Hammer: Use when you find it or leave it be. As with Flame Blade and Darkfire, it's rare that you'd want this spontaneously - and if you are it's likely that you already have one equipped.

    Scroll of Detect Evil:
    Use when you find it. Most everything in the game is evil and tries to eat you, so the detection sort-of sucks. All it does is add a little "skull" on top of most enemies to make them stand out more in the darkness, but unlike faerie fire this only marks evil beings, and it still doesn't allow detection through walls - even with truesight. There -MIGHT- be situations where this can help you tell if it's worth talking or fighting with an NPC, but I haven't yet confirmed this. Even if that's the case you're still better off with a cleric instead of carrying these around.

    Scroll of Detect Magic:
    Use when you find it. While Detect Magic is useful, you don't need it all the time. Drizzt can do it as a free ability for the beginning part of the game, and later on it's a level 1 spell which your clerics can easily afford. Don't carry these around.

    Scroll of Faerie Fire:
    Use when you find it. It's a good spell, but Drizzt gets it as a free ability and when he's not around your clerics can cast it at level 1. Like with Detect Magic, it's best to not carry these around as scrolls.

    Scroll of Light:
    Use when you find it, or immediately upon next rest. Light is nice to have in the underdark, but you should already have a light on. Use this immediately to add some duration to it, or immediately upon rest to save your cleric some effort.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
  2. Tarjei the Terrible Gems: 1/31
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    Projectile Weapons - Twiddly Timesinks.

    Projectile weapons are another pet peeve of mine in this game. They are frustratingly time-consuming to use since you have to reload all the projectiles, and they take up a HUGE amount of inventory space.

    As far as I'm concerned the Halberd, Two-Handed Sword and the Quarterstaffs which you find in the beginning of the game are by far superior options to shooting enemies, since their longer reach allow your backrow characters to attack and they don't need to be retrieved like the projectiles do. Vonar can use any of them with his fighter levels, and even the wussiest mage can wield the quarterstaff, which should allow you to make attacks with any of your four characters.

    This means that you can RELATIVELY safely toss away most of your projectiles, at least after facing the Aboleth in the lake early on during the descent into underdark. (He diseases your characters so projectiles can help out here to save you a bit of trouble.)

    The sheer amount of projectiles is what kills them: There's bows, crossbows, arrows, bolts, slings, slingstones, throwing daggers, spears, javelins and even a grenade. (Oil of Fiery Burning)

    These things will clog your inventory instantly, since your characters are limited to twelve slots.

    There's really little reason to hoard all of them, since you can deal with most opposition either with spells or melee weapons.

    The exceptions here are the Javelins of Lightning. Those things pack quite a punch and should be saved for sticky situations that need to be solved quickly, and are well worth spending a few inventory slots into!

    If you really want to use ranged weapons, stick with the Composite Bow and Arrows, The Crossbow and Bolts or the Sling and Bullets - since those can be somewhat easier to manage ammunition-wise. You'll find a magical sling quite early too, but it doesn't make using it any more enjoyable - just a little more effective.

    Later on you'll also find a magical boomerang-axe which is worth keeping!

    But the throwing daggers and spears are basically just a huge waste of time and effort to use, so dump those as soon as you can. If you truly want to challenge yourself, try to go through the game using nothing but those. I guarantee you you'll develop some sort of neurosis if you do.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
  3. Tarjei the Terrible Gems: 1/31
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    Extra Armor - AKA "I might need this"

    You should never carry around stuff that you'll never use. This includes the sets of armor and shields you find during most of the game.

    If you can't use it on your characters right when you get it, you'll never have use for it. Whenever you pick up a new NPC to your party, they come either pre-equipped with their own armor or you'll run into armor around where you find them.

    If your party includes a non-NPC fighter/mage, fighter/mage/thief, or fighter/mage/cleric, you will -NOT- want to wear any armor on them since they can't cast arcane spells with any armor on no matter what they multiclass into. This is easily remedied by casting Magical Vestment on them, and Blur later on. Plop on the +2 Helmet you get in the beginning of the game, and they'll be sturdier than your fighters. I don't believe the Armor spell stacks with Magical Vestment, which is all good since it allows you to memorize more magic missiles.

    There are a few rust monsters in the game which -CAN- cause you to lose a piece of armor or a weapon, but they still don't justify hauling around armor that's not worn by anyone.

    The hack-and-slash nature of the game engine doesn't really favor the use of shields, as you'll likely want to use two weapons for your front-row characters and long-reaching two-handed weapons for your backrow. There aren't too many situations where you want to sacrifice your melee damage output by equipping a shield, but feel free to keep one or two around if you feel like roleplaying it with a swoard-and-board fighter-type.

    The truth is you'll save yourself a lot of time and anguish if you discard the useless pieces of armor as soon as you run into them. They're just not worth it to haul around.

    In case you really desperately need armor, your cleric can supply even a naked character with decent AC by casting Magical Vestment on them, so you should be fine until you find them some replacements. (Yes, this game allows Magical Vestment to be cast on others than the caster!)
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
  4. Tarjei the Terrible Gems: 1/31
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    Extra Weapons - "The gray zone"

    Okay... Weapons. I love hauling around weapons, but I'm pretty sure most of them are more or less junk as well.

    Needless to say, you should have all your characters equipped with weapons. The game favors the use of two weapons on the front-row (middle) characters, and long-reaching weapons for the back-row (side) characters.

    I don't recall there being -any- monsters in the game that can't be damaged with the weapons supplied in the beginning of the game. You don't need bludgeons to deal with skeletons or edged weapons to deal with slimes. As long as you can wield it and whack stuff with it, generally whatever you whack will eventually perish. If you really can't hurt something, cast a few spells at it.

    (As far as I know, EVERYTHING in the entire game can be killed with magic missiles. Force damage is no joke!)

    This means that you can pretty safely toss away your excess maces, battlehammers, battleaxes and whatever you have that you can't use!

    Since I'm not 100% sure how the game treats the weapons, I really can't be too specific on this yet.

    As far as I know, Drizzt is the only character able to wield both Twinkle and Icingdeath simultaneously. The other characters CAN wield his weapons, but they need to pair them with other weapons to be able to swing them. (Anyone can just hold them.)

    The game also disallows any weapons you try to wield while using a Spiritual Hammer. I'm not sure why, maybe since it's a heavy weapon? It moves by telekinesis so this doesn't really make sense to me, but still... You can use Darkfire with it to enter a pew-pew mode while double-wielding unlimited projectiles (*), but sometimes the hammer just doesn't come back... which means you're stuck with a grafted weapon which you can no longer use until you rest or it runs out of duration.

    Some weapons can't be used simultaneously, but others can. I guess the game wants you to use a light weapon for your off-hand, but I haven't had the time to really dig into this yet. :)

    After entering the tightly closed quarters of the Underdark, the back-row characters are limited to long-reaching weapons, all of which seem to require two hands. At least the Halberd, Two-Handed Sword and the Quarterstaff can be used from the back-row. There could be more weapons like this, but I'm still running through the game after a twenty-year gap so I haven't found any yet. ;)

    After all your characters have weapons, preferrably magical ones, you can get rid of the rest. Just toss them in a pile somewhere close to a level-exit and you can come back for them if you really REALLY wanna try new weapons. (You shouldn't have to, but you can if you feel the need to experiment.)

    (* Incidentally, the Spiritual Hammer + Darkfire combo makes Cleric by far the best ranged attacker in the early game, since he has effectively unlimited ammunition which never needs to be retrieved. The damage output is rather low, but if you enjoy turning the game into a clunky Doom-clone (Heretic/Hexen while using the wand) then go for it!

    The disease-inflicting Aboleth can also be dispatched quite easily like this without ever allowing him into melee-range to inflict you with his nasty aboleth-slime-rot-turns-you-to-goo disease which you can only cure at the Fountain of Healing, several monster-filled levels down from the lake where you meet said Aboleth!)
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
  5. 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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    We usually merge multiple posts in a row from the same user, but the amount of dedication you've put into these is impressive, so I'll leave them. :D
     
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  6. Tarjei the Terrible Gems: 1/31
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    Thanks! I did it to sort-of keep track of everything. I'll try to bear this in mind in the future, though!
     
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  7. Tarjei the Terrible Gems: 1/31
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    Mage Scrolls - More Power!

    The basic rule is that all mage scrolls are invaluable, and should be scribed into your spellbooks as soon as you find them!

    You should, however, always THINK before scribing them in. You'll want to balance your spells out if you have multiple mages, since in Menzoberranzan a mage never learns new spells except by scribing them from scrolls. This means that if you have a single mage learn every possible spell, your other mage will have to sit around with unused high-level spell slots! This is a situation you'll obviously want to avoid, since high-level spell slots are what makes the game fun! :)

    The thing with mage scrolls is, as soon as they're IN your spellbook, most of them turn into inventory-eating junk. The occasion where you'd want to spontaneously cast a spell from one upon finding them are really few and far between, and since your mage should be holding a weapon using a scroll requires you to swap the weapon out to use the scroll. This limits the use of them somewhat.

    Also keep in mind that the game is much stingier with mage scrolls than with clerical scrolls - obviously since the mages grow rapidly in power after scribing the spell to their own spellbooks for later use! This means you won't be having too many "extras" of any of the truly usefull scrolls like fireball or lightning bolt.

    You should find two copies of magic missile and fireball early on, and -eventually- you should also get a second copy of lightning bolt, so your basic arcane damage-dealing ability should be OK for the most part of the game. You also get a gem which casts Cone of Cold once per day.

    Oh, and it's possible to screw up while scribing a spell, so you should definitely SAVE your game before you attempt it! Losing a scroll of fireball or passweb due to scribing it wrong is a game-breaker.

    All this being said, there's a FEW useful mage scrolls which you come across which you should keep until you need them. These however are rare and I can only think of a few off the bat.

    Mage Scrolls worth hauling around:

    Scroll of Comprehend Languages:
    This one is an OBVIOUS keeper, since you can't scribe it! There's a few places where you can read elvish/dwarvish runes, and if you don't have an elf or a dwarf in your active party, you're boned. That's where these scrolls come in! With a mage, you can use these to decipher -ANY- language. There's only a few in the entire game, so this is the rare scroll you should definitely keep in your inventory until you NEED it, no matter how much space they eat up!

    Scroll of Magic Missile: Oddly enough, there seems to be a spare of these. Your mage always knows magic missile from the start, so you'll find more than you need to fill your spellbooks. Magic missile is a useful damaging spell, so you should keep it for some of the tougher encounters. An extra spell is an extra spell, and there'll be a few times when you might really need it.

    ...

    The mage scrolls really don't add up that fast, so I'll update this as I find more on my way through the game again. ;)

    The only thing I can add is: Make sure to give your first Melf's acid arrow scroll to the mage that doesn't have agannazer's scorcher. Otherwise you'll have to wait a while before the other mage (Vonar *cough*) learns any damaging spells for level 2.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
  8. Tarjei the Terrible Gems: 1/31
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    Potions - This is where it's at.

    Potions are what you WANT to fill your inventory with. They're basically spells-in-a-bottle, usable by anyone in the party and they can really help you out when your party finds itself in the middle of trouble without much warning.

    The basic rule is that all potions are worth carrying. The second rule to follow is that too much of anything is usually a bad thing, so if you don't find yourself using the potions you carry, you should cut down on your stock.

    The lesser healing potions aren't all that useful on higher levels, so it's a balancing act between the useful ones and the not-so-useful ones. Your clerics should be your main source of curative magic, but there's a limit to how fast they can cast spells - so when you find yourself flanked by baddies and you get torn up from all sides, potions are literally a life-saver.

    Potion of Healing: Heals you up a little, helps your cleric keep you alive if you're dying in the middle of a battle. You should keep some of these on every character, and remember to use them if you seem to have too many.

    Potion of Greater Healing:
    Heals you up some more. Each character should have some of these, they WILL be useful later on.

    Potion of Jump:
    Save these until you need them, and DO NOT rest immediately after using them since they'll wear out and they can leave you stranded! Drinking one of these gives you the ability to go through openings that are on another level! You can trigger it from your spellbook/ability menu for as long as the potion's duration lasts.

    Potion of Flying:
    Big brother of the Jump potion. These allow you to fly freely around the underdark, which means you can't fly ALL that freely... But you -CAN- bypass a few nasty areas, if you know exactly what you are doing! This limits their usefulness somewhat on the first playthrough, but if you know when to use them you can skip a lot of enemies. You'll be missing out on exp, though. ;) You'll also need the ability to fly when you reach Menzoberranzan, so it's good to save a few of these until you really NEED them.

    Potion of Levitation:
    Possibly the crummiest potion. It gives you the underwhelming ability to levitate, which means you can go up to the ceiling, and... stay there. Since this doesn't allow horizontal movement, its uses are very limited. I think you might need one in Menzoberranzan, but I could be wrong. Still, save one, just in case.

    Potion of Passweb:
    Oddly enough another crummy potion. By the time you get this, you'll already have needed to go through several webs - which means you would've needed a cleric or a mage anyway. (Or maybe the scroll of passweb is an exception since it's mandatory to go through a web early on during the descent into underdark? Not sure.)

    Potion of Speed:
    This is where it gets good: Haste in a bottle! If a melee character drinks this, he'll be able to swing his weapons at a MUCH higher rate, allowing any low-thac0 class like the fighter or the ranger to just rain death upon any enemy foolish enough to enter melee range. If you ever face a tough monster that really seems to be giving you trouble, drink one up and see carnage follow.

    Potion of Giant Strength:
    Another great potion. This one increases your strength to 18 and allows for percentual strength on fighters and rangers. Unlike the potion of Speed, this one shouldn't necessarily go to your toughest melee warrior, but rather the wimpiest, since the added strength will benefit them more than your already-high-strength main characters - especially if you cheated at character creation and rolled all 18's.

    Potion of Fire Resistance:
    Does what it says in the label. There's not too many enemies that deal fire damage, but there are a few places with fireball traps where this might come in handy. Still, not terribly useful, but good if you find yourself assailed by fireballs.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
  9. Tarjei the Terrible Gems: 1/31
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    "Quest Items" which aren't really quest items.

    Oh boy...

    This category is a tough one, but here goes...

    There's a ton of items in the game which LOOK important, but really aren't. Some of these exist to add flavor to the game in form of bits of lore, with the possibility of some decent voice-acting thrown in as an added bonus.

    Most of these are in NO WAY required to complete the game. However, the temptation to keep them around simply for the sake of their novelty use is a big one.

    As far as I can tell, you don't need to haul around the buckets of water, the stones, Various clothing items (green robes, piwafwi cloaks, Helm of Disguise), the various parchments (Drizzt's, Vermulean's) or the coins you find in one of the bags for any particular reason, with the possible exception being the map you get from the dwarf Manahath.

    Now, since I'm running through the game with a Drow who will eventually be replaced by a Deep-Gnome, a Dwarf, a Half-Elf and a Kenku, there's really no way for me to confirm this, but I'm assuming the "Helm of Disguise" is useful in disguising classical elven features from enemy drow. I'm not sure about this, but it could be that the enemy drow encountered will preferentially go after true-elven characters first, in which case the Helm would actually be useful. As far as I can tell, it's just decorative. Feel free to plop it on someone's head, but I guess it just looks cool and does little else.

    So, I'll update the situation as I play through the game, but so far I'm assuming all the items mentioned here (with the possible exception of the map) are more or less garbage, which you can safely toss away.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
  10. SlickRCBD Gems: 24/31
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    I'd forgotten I had this game as part of the "Forgotten Realms Silver Edition", but I could never get it to work on my Dell Optiplex GX110 with Windows 98SE, and is now a dual-boot with Windows XP.
    It crashed in Windows 98SE, and rebooting into MS-DOS mode failed to provide any sound.

    May I ask for any tips on getting the game to work on either the aforementioned system or a Gateway DX4200-UB0001A that dual-boots Vista and Windows 7? Note that I haven't booted Vista in years.
    Now that I remembered I had it, I'd like to actually get to play it for once.
     
  11. 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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    DOSBox? Or just get it off GOG.com for 2 bucks currently.
     
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2018
  12. SlickRCBD Gems: 24/31
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    I didn't even think of DOSBox, mostly because DOSBox either didn't exist or at least I hadn't heard of it until years after I tried and failed to get the darn thing to work on the computer running Windows 98SE, then put it away as I was able to play most of the other games in the set.
     
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