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A Conservative Modder's Guide to Baldur's Gate 1

There are several modding guides for BG1 out in the wild, but most expect a Tutu or BGT installation.

While both are very worthwhile projects with some wonderful mods specific to them, they aren't flawless conversions and they introduce a lot of additional bugs and gameplay imbalances. For better or worse (and *many* feel it's better), the BG1 experience just isn't the same.

I'm writing this modding guide to provide a much more conservative take on modding BG1--to provide an enhanced game that is suitable for first-timers and people who want to keep the "feel" of BG1 intact.



Highly Recommended Mods:

Widescreen Mod and GUI Mod
Be sure to use one of the following resolutions when installing widescreen or the installing the GUI mod will fail: 1024x600, 1024x768, 1280x768, 1280x800.

To install the GUI mod, unpack the RAR archive you downloaded, run the executable and point it to your BG1 directory, the go to that directory yourself and run Setup-TWM_GUI.exe

Baldurdash bugfixes and text update
Bugfixes and spelling/grammatical errors fixed. Adds some textual hints about hidden items as well, which is nice. Install the TOSTC versions.

Unfinished Business
Adds additional quests, features and areas. Very high quality, and blends with the original game perfectly.

Mini Quests and Encounters
Adds a lot of very small but very fun and generally well-written quests.

Herbs and Potions add-in
A little extra fun for crafters. A reasonably balanced, very low-key mod most people won't even notice. Recommended, but only if it appeals to you.

BG1 Tweak Pack
Tweaks, fixes and cheats. I recommend the following:

Cosmetic Changes:
Weapon Animation Tweaks (less repetitive sword swinging)
Icewind Dale Casting Graphics (uses IWD spell effect which are much prettier!)
Icon Improvements (replaces some icons with their usually more detailed BG2 equivilients)
Force All Dialog to Pause (No cheap shots from enemies while you are talking)

Content Changes:
Reveal City Maps (Probably don't use this your first game if you like the feel of exploration. Removes a minor annoyance if you have played before)

Rule Changes:
Use your discretion.

Convenience Tweaks and/or Cheats:
Does what is says on the tin. Higher HP on level up may be worthwhile for some to avoid some potentially bad rolls on BG1's random HP gains on level up.

Joinable NPC Tweaks:
Give <character> their BG2 stats isn't the biggest cheat ever and can be fun for some people. Everything here is highly subjective of course.



Optional Mods:

Big, game-changing mods or highly subjective tweaks that are worth checking out.

Fields of the Dead
Reworks the ruleset quite substantially to be much closer to AD&D 2E. Adds new quests, areas, spells and more. Quite high quality. I don't use it for every playthough, but it was interesting and well worth at least one.

Dark Side of the Sword Coast
Massive mod, adding tons of new quests, areas, spells and lots more. One of the first mods for Baldur's Gate. It used to be a bit of a mess, but it's much, much better than it used to be thanks to recent efforts to fix bugs and increase compatibility with other mods though use of the (now universal) WeiDu installer.
The quality is of quests and writing is quite variable, some items are cheese-tastic and there are still a few bugs lurking, but under all that, it's quite fun.
If you're craving more content, this mod has you covered.


Dark Horizons
Adds a lot of challenging encounters to the game and a quest or two. Not for everyone, but veterans who enjoy tactical combat should give it a go. I don't think I've experienced the full content of this mod, but I liked what I saw.

The Stone of Askavar
Adds a massive new quest. This one isn't a recommendation as I encountered a lot of bugs and even a couple crash-to-desktops using this mod. I also remember there being a lot of mispellings and grammatical errors in the text. So why mention it? There's a lot of content here and not everyone will share my misgivings. If you're craving more Baldur's Gate, back up your installation and see what you think.

BG1 NPC Portrait Pack
If you don't like the original portraits, or just want to freshen the look of your game a little, check out this collection of high-quality alternative portraits for the games' NPCs.

Not Tested:

May be of interest to some, but I can't vouch for them.

Dudleyfix
A more comprehensive fixpack than Baldurdash. Not as popular so fewer mods are coded to recognize it. I've read that compatibility should be decent, but don't know firsthand.

Back to Baldur's Gate
A "harder enemies" mod that may appeal to tacticians.

The Drizzt Saga adds a quest involving everyone's (least?) favorite Drow.

The Grey Clan Episode I
The first part of a mod trilogy that's isn't likely to ever be completed. This mod has a decent reputation however, and may well be worthwhile.


Additional Resources

Pocketplane keeps an updated index of many known Baldur's Gate mods.


rartino wrote a guide with a similar purpose that explains some things in greater detail and has some great troubleshooting tips, you can read it here.
Post edited March 13, 2011 by xenobrain
Another awesome (and unique) guide, thanks a bunch.
Hope GOG fixes the title though (and they let us do that in a future update..)
Post edited October 06, 2010 by chautemoc
thanks very much!
You know what I always wanted to find but could never seem to, a mod for BG2 that swapped some of the character portraits for their BG1 equivalents, like replacing Imoen's portrait with her BG1 original. I'm sure there is, and if not maybe I should get off my fat arse and learn how to do it myself...

EDIT: It's easier than I thought:

http://portraits.chosenofmystra.net/npc_portrait_change.html
Post edited October 07, 2010 by FlintlockJazz
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xenobrain: Herbs and Potions add-in
A little extra fun for crafters. A reasonably balanced, very low-key mod most people won't even notice. Recommended, but only if it appeals to you.
personally I didn't really like this one. For some reason the herb graphics really bothered me and the crafting felt sort of tacked on on the rest of the game..
I am using the first three of your highly recommended mods, though it took a while to search them.
Thank you for this guide.
Anyone use The Secret of Bone Hill or Sword Coast Stratagems? I am contemplating a BG1-only (GOG version) playthrough and it's hard to know when this stuff should be added in. I used to just use the Big World Project but I'm not positive on how it works with the GOG version of BG1. Can the install.bat from BWS be used to correctly install mods in BG1 only? Sorry if that doesn't make sense.
The Secret of Bone Hill and Sword Coast Strategems are some of the many, many mods that require BGT or BGTutu, and so are not available with a vanilla install, hence their lack of inclusion here.

I use both as part of my Big World install, though I haven't really played Bone Hill. I certainly enjoy Strategems though!

As for Big World compatibility with the GoG version of BG1, I haven't tested it with GoG's version yet but given how the installer works I'm 99% sure it will work just fine.
Post edited October 10, 2010 by xenobrain
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xenobrain: The Secret of Bone Hill and Sword Coast Strategems are some of the many, many mods that require BGT or BGTutu, and so are not available with a vanilla install, hence their lack of inclusion here.

I use both as part of my Big World install, though I haven't really played Bone Hill. I certainly enjoy Strategems though!

As for Big World compatibility with the GoG version of BG1, I haven't tested it with GoG's version yet but given how the installer works I'm 99% sure it will work just fine.
Thanks, that's what I had figured but haven't had a chance to try. Hopefully this week I can give it a go.
I was just gifted this(Props to nasajkeram!) and figured this needed bumping.
This is a great topic. Needs a bump :)
Thanks for this list! I've just purchased the game from GOG, and as a conservative modder I really appreciate this info.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to get past the first step. I tried installing the widescreen (1280x800) and UI mods, and when the game launches it displays in the upper left corner of my monitor screen. Same thing happens when I apply just the widescreen mod but not the UI mod.

When I play the game without mods, it fills the screen completely, although it's stretched to fit. I'm using a 24" monitor, native resolution 1920x1200. My graphics card is an nVidia 8800 series model.

Am I missing a step somewhere?

EDIT:

I was indeed missing a step. I hadn't realized that extracting the UI mod archive into the game folder wasn't enough. I also had to run the setup program (Setup-TWM_GUI) to get the UI mod installed and working. Once I did that, everything was fine.

I noticed one glitch: birds flying by were surrounded by black boxes. Turning on the bottomost graphics option fixed that. The framerate seems acceptable. Time to start playing this new GOG!
Post edited November 07, 2010 by Midville
You're not the first to think the GUI mod's unpacker was also an installer. It's confusing, to be sure. I've updated the post for hopefully better instructions.
Is there anything like SCS for BG1 that will work without BGT? That's pretty much the one thing stopping me from doing a BG1 "pure" experience right now.
Well the "Back to Baldur's Gate" mod mentioned in the "Untested" section is the same idea--a tactics mod. His description is simply,

"Back To Baldur's Gate is essentialy a "Harder Enemies" patch, with more
than 130 enemies changed!

These have new Stats/Skills/Scripts to give the player a
much more tactical/satisfying gaming experience."

Also note that the mod requires "Dark Side of the Sword Coast".

I've tested it a little, and so far it's not bad but seems it hasn't gotten the playtesting of SCS yet.

If you try it be sure to report your experience back to the author. From reading his forum I get a strong impression he would appreciate and be very receptive to feedback.
Post edited November 07, 2010 by xenobrain