Viconia brings two very very big things to the table:
- 30% magic resistance in a game where the toughest enemies are magic-users.
Eh, maybe I'm just more of a "best defense is a good offense" kinda guy, but I never found her magic resistance to really be all that great at killing mages. I'd much rather have Keldorn's array of Inquisitor immunities along with his Dispel Magic and True Seeing, cast at twice his level, to punch through any mage shenanigans. Or Aerie, who as a mage herself has access to better anti-mage abilities than just a piddly Dispel Magic.
- ability to not just turn, but CONTROL undead
Control Undead is definitely fun and useful. Forgot about that facet of evil Clerics. It's pretty cool how many options the game presents as far as taking out different enemies. I guess it would be pretty fun to turn Viconia invisible and just go around the map, gathering a massive army of undead.
I guess that is definitely something in her favor.
is the only way you're going to be able to stand your ground and get the sweet exp from those fights rather than either fleeing or coming out of it with a huge temple restoration bill.
There's actually plenty of other ways.
Any Fighter/Caster can wear the Amulet of Power and be immune to level drain while hacking up the vampires...though Domination and Vampiric Touch spells could still be a danger, and they might have to go it alone. Negative Plane Protection and Protection from Magical Weapons also work to protect from vampire attack. You can also do clever things like use powerful illusions/invisibility to sneak into rooms full of vampires and detonate a Sunfire (or two in a sequencer/contingency), Sunray, or False Dawn. Web is great at entrapping vampires to be taken out via ranged attacks, AoE magic, or spiders (summoned or polymorphed into).
And as a cleric, the ability to have more spells per level (allowing you to have plenty of heals AND a good mix of buffs and offensive spells) is, for most of the game, more important than max spell level.
Yeah, it's just that Viconia's 18 Wisdom buys her only marginally more slots than other casters. She could probably do with 20 or so Wisdom to really drive home the "pure" vs "diluted" setup Bioware seemed to be getting at with the evil/good NPC selection.
I did forget to mention Edwin? Until you can turn into the slayer, he's hands down a better mage than you can ever be, with no conflicts.
Barring any sort of Fighter/Mage, Sorcerer, or Wild Mage stuffies...yeah, he's head and shoulders above any other arcane caster because of his amulet.
I still think he should have clashed with at least 1 or 2 of the hybrids - clashing with Jaheria would have made sense; left-over hatreds from BG1 and it would force you to think about whether you want a powerful backline casting contingent, or a hybrid that can fill the healing role adequately (but without distinction) while having the right buffs and stats to be able to double as a very competent frontline fighter.
Yeah, more meaningful (in a gameplay sense) tension between Good/Evil NPCs and the Neutral ones would have been interesting and certainly could have been justified flavor-wise. Keldorn and Edwin both disapprove of a lot of the NPCs, but only act on their feelings in a few instances. Would have been interesting to see Keldorn's anti-nature views clash with some of the Druids/Rangers and Edwin's ill-temperment clash with...well, practically everyone.
I really wish more games actually took this mechanic a bit further; it was interesting in JA2 and BG2...it certainly has legs.