I’d played bits of this mod a ways back in the days of TuTu. For those not familiar, Tutu was basically a large mod available that allowed the first Baldur’s Gate to use the second game’s enhanced engine. This meant better screen resolutions and character classes, among other things. After acquiring the newer Enhanced Edition of both Baldur’s Gate games, I was happy to see certain mods updating to become EE-friendly.
So who is Isra, anyway?
Isra is a paladin of Sune, the goddess of beauty and passion. This is sort of a unique spin on the paladin, and is a choice not available in the vanilla game. Correspondingly, Isra is not your average paladin.
While she is still a force for good and will not tolerate an evil party (or Dorn if you’re playing EE), she is generally more laid back than other Baldur’s Gate paladins such as Adjantis or Keldorn. She speaks in a proper knightly sort of way, but doesn’t come off as pompous like Anomen. In fact she’s rather open about her naivete in certain aspects of the world, with her adventure with the PC being the first real campaign she’s been a part of.
Isra is a Cavalier paladin kit. In my opinion there’s really no bad paladin kit, as each of them add either some great immunities or grant some powerful abilities (such as the Inquisitor’s dispel). In the Cavalier’s case the 20% resistance to fire and acid is a nice plus, and the +3 bonus to demonic/draconic creatures is nice for when you face those types of enemies. Admittedly that’s fairly rare, but those happen to be some of the tougher enemies, so the bonuses are helpful.
More importantly, being immune to fear and poison is a big plus. There are quite a few enemies early and mid game that like to throw around charm or morale-affecting spells, and the poison resistance can be very useful in Cloakwood Forest in the spider area.
With her two-handed swords and the ability to wear heavy armor, Isra is a solid front liner for any party. Her strength isn’t as high as other warriors (16), but it’s sufficient early game and can easily be boosted with items or tomes. Her comparative lack of damage prowess is offset by the usefulness of a paladin’s other skills.
Quests and Friendship Track
You’ll meet Isra in the middle of a small quest, but her overall quest to investigate the mines will coincide well with yours. It’s a nice way to write the NPC into the game’s quest line and give the character her own reason for tagging along with you, but in a way that doesn’t force you to derail your own adventure. I’ve played quite a few NPC mods, and while some add cool quests, others get kind of irritating or feel disruptive to the game itself. That isn’t the case here.
Isra’s friendship track in the first game is a nice addition, particularly because vanilla NPCs don’t say much. You’ll get the chance to learn about her upbringing, how she joined the order, and build a loyal follower in your quest to stop the Iron Throne. I felt the mod does a nice job of introducing a character that is not too fluffy or boring, but is also not neurotic like some of the BG2 options.
While I tend to play good-aligned parties most, I rarely use paladins as I prefer a less rigid party. In this way, Isra is a nice alternative that plays well in a Neutral Good or Chaotic Good setting. She’d probably also fit in a Neutral-aligned party okay. This mod also allows for a non-crazy female warrior option (I’m looking at you, Shar-Teel), whereas most of the first game’s female NPCs are thieves and priests.
One last plus is that Isra also has a BG2 component, meaning she’s a companion that can tag along for the Bhaalspawn’s entire adventure through the Throne of Bhaal. Some of the other NPC mods for BG1/Tutu are for that game only.
Overall Isra is one of the better NPC mods I’ve played. She has an optional romance track in the second game that is well done, and her character in general meshes well into the game without stealing focus from the player character. Her more open-minded nature expands her usability across different party configurations from a role-playing standpoint, making her sort of a paladin for people who don’t like paladins.
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