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The Dukes Get Off Their Butts [BGEE playthrough, complete]

jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 1,805
Part 1: Gathering a Party

Some time ago, I noticed that the dukes of Baldur's Gate were all very high-level. This raised the question for me - why don't they go out and deal with the crisis themselves? If a party of low-level adventurers can solve the iron crisis, eliminate the bandit threat, and bring down Sarevok's madness - why can't the dukes deal with it themselves? They've got twice as many levels, after all.

So, to answer that question, I built this playthrough.
Entar is a level 21 fighter, with five dots in long sword and two dots in sword/shield style. His starting equipment is full plate armor, a +1 long sword, and a medium shield. He also gets a potion of strength 24 and a diamond - in a quick slot, for some reason.

SCS gives him three more random potions, while vanilla gives him four dots in short sword that he'll never use. I put those four dots in longbow proficiency instead, on the principle that all BGEE warriors should know how to use a ranged weapon.

Entar Silvershield, duke of Baldur's Gate, worried. His son was due to arrive a tenday ago, and he still wasn't here? What happened to him out beyond the city walls?
No - he wasn't going to get answers just sitting here, waiting for someone to stumble in with the truth. He needed to get out there and investigate for himself. First, the Flaming Fist headquarters - Eltan would know more about what was going on outside the walls.

"Entar, old friend. What brings you here today - and in your armor, no less?"
"My son is missing. He was traveling here from a visit to Athkatla, and his caravan should have arrived a tenday ago."
"That is worrisome. There has been an upswing in bandit activity of late. Perhaps he was waylaid?"
"And what is the Flaming Fist doing about this, Eltan? Suppressing banditry is your duty."
"Not nearly enough. There's something wrong with the iron lately; our weapons break as fast as we can forge them. I can't properly equip my troops, and that means I can't send most of them out. In fact, I've just issued the order to close the Wyrm's Crossing bridge; there are rumors of an organized camp of bandits and mercenaries somewhere nearby. As understrength as we are, they could raid the city itself."
"Then - what, you're looking for adventurers to solve your problems for you? Bah. I'll go out there myself. These old bones aren't as strong as they used to be, but I still have my skills."

With that, Entar left for the palace. Even with his skills, this wasn't a job for a lone man. He would need a party - and his fellow dukes would be the best options.

"Liia, Belt. Thank you for meeting me so quickly. How much do you know about the current threats to the city?"
"I've heard that the Flaming Fist is mostly stuck in their barracks - something about equipment problems? And, of course, Wyrm's Crossing is being closed to protect the city."
"Yes, there's something wrong with the iron. Weapons are breaking far too easily, and that's stopping the Fist from going out. Bandit activity is up too, taking advantage of their weakness."
"What are you planning, then? You have some idea of what to do about it, or you wouldn't be here talking to us."
"I spoke to Eltan already - he doesn't have a plan except to wait for adventurers to show up. If adventurers are what it takes, let's go out there ourselves. We've all got tons of experience. Anything a bunch of rookie adventurers can do, we can do better!"
"It does get boring, sitting around here managing the city all day. All right, I'm in. When do we leave?"
"Make it tomorrow. I'd like to prepare a couple of simulacra to cover for us here."
"All right then, we leave tomorrow at midday."
Belt is a level 19 fighter, with five dots in bastard sword and two in sword/shield style. He starts out with +1 chain mail, a +1 medium shield, a +1 bastard sword, and a ruby ring.

SCS gives him three more random potions, while vanilla gives him two dots in short sword and one in axe. I moved those three proficiency dots to longbow, just like with Entar.

Liia is a level 16 mage; generalist in vanilla, invoker in my SCS installation. She has spells known and memorized all the way up to 8th level - Symbol:Stun in vanilla, Improved Mantle and Incendiary Cloud in my SCS install. Her starting equipment is an Adventurer's Robe, a nonmagical dagger, and a ruby ring. She has proficiency in dagger and nothing else.

SCS gives her some random potions, and I added proficiency in staff and dart.

SCS also adds immunity to panic and charm effects to both Belt and Liia, presumably because those would really screw up the ducal palace battle.

As the party left the gates, Belt turned to Entar.
"We've got potions, but no other source of healing. Our party needs a cleric, or we'll have to stop constantly to return somewhere safe and recover."
"You're right. Kelddath Ormlyr ought to be up for it. He runs the temple of Lathander in Beregost, but his acolytes should be able to fill in."
"All right then, Beregost is our first stop, to pick him up."

A full day's march brought the party to Beregost, and the temple.
"You want me to join your party as they travel around trying to solve this iron crisis?"
"That, and clear out the bandits that have been taking advantage of it"
"Hmm. I suppose it has been too long since I went out to smite some evil. Old Feldepost said the other day that bandits have been seen just north of town, so there's an obvious place to start. Shall we go?"
"Don't you have some equipment to pick up? Armor, an enchanted weapon, anything?"
"Why would I need that here? I sold some of it, and gave the rest to my acolytes. If this adventure is anything like the ones I had in my youth, a lack of equipment won't be a problem for long."
"All right, then. Let's go."
Kelddath is a level 16 priest of Lathander. He has an embarrassingly small spellbook in vanilla - only Hold Person, Glyph of Warding, and Animate Dead. SCS at least gives him spells he can cast at every level, but not access to the full cleric spellbook; the only spells in his spellbook are the ones for which he starts out with at least one instance memorized. He can't cast Slow Poison, Dispel Magic, Remove Curse, Raise Dead, Resurrection, or Greater Restoration - all spells his temple store offers. I filled out that list to everything a good cleric gets... eventually.

Proficiency-wise, his vanilla version has nothing. SCS adds mace and single-weapon style. I added club, sling, hammer, and weapon/shield style to that.

The party saw no sign of bandits. Indeed, they didn't see a single human until reaching the Lion's Way road to Candlekeep.
"Please, can you help me?"
"What's the problem, girl?"
"I snuck out of Candlekeep to meet my friend Abdel and his father Gorion. But... I think something bad happened to them. They should have come by here already."
"Gorion, eh? I think I've met him before - he's a mage, right?"
"Yes, he's a mage. Now, can we go look for him?"
"A bit of divination should help... there's a clearing northwest of here. That's where we need to go."

Not long after, the party reached the clearing, to find a dreadful sight:
"No! Abdel! Gorion! You had so much ahead of you... wait, you're a cleric. Raise them, please?"
"I'm sorry, dear. There's just too much damage to Gorion's body. Whoever did this didn't want anyone raising him."
"And Abdel? What about him?"
"That's something else - I can't reach his essence at all. It's as if some god has claimed him, and no force in this realm can gainsay that."
"That's ... huh, that probably has something to do with why there were killers after Abdel and Gorion hustled him off."
"Killers? Just what has been going on inside that fortress of learning?"
"Just yesterday, Gorion told Abdel that he needed to equip himself for a journey. He wouldn't even say where they were going. Before he could leave, he ran into two people who tried to kill him; they weren't at all skilled, but that means whoever is behind this knows a way into Candlekeep."
"He must have stayed quiet to protect against spies, then. Did he have something in writing?"
"There's a letter here ... the Friendly Arm. He said to meet two of his friends there, named Khalid and Jaheira."
"Would you like to travel with us, then? To the Friendly Arm, and then to wherever our quest takes us?"
"Travel with you? But ... you're all so strong, and experienced. How would I be any use in your party?"
"None of us follow the way of the thief, as you do. We can fight well, but none of us has the nimble fingers needed to disarm traps and pick locks. There are always dungeons on quests like this, and we could use someone with your skills."
"I... I'm honored. Still - why me? I'm sure you could find plenty of thieves in the city. Why not one of them?"
"I see potential in you. When you're done with this adventure, I might keep you around as my apprentice."
"Apprentice? You mean ... I could be a mage? When do I start?"
"Not until we're done with this adventure. And even then, only if you can demonstrate the necessary qualities. A mage must be patient - our arts are dangerous, and far too many students get themselves killed attempting magic beyond their abilities."
"Patience, right. I'll be the most patient thief ever for you!"
Imoen is ... well, exactly what Imoen always is at level 1, in terms of stats.
And that's the party. Guests may join briefly, but this party of five will be powering through the game and crushing all opposition before them.

Behind the scenes:
In BG2EE, it's pretty easy to have an NPC protagonist; you can remove your original player 1 from the party with Control-K, and then have someone join into slot 1. As long as there's at least one other player in the party when you remove the protagonist, you're good.

In BGEE, it's considerably harder.
Removing player 1 from the party with Control-K is an instant game over.
All right then, plan B - edit a save to change which character is in the first slot. Nope; trying it corrupts the save. It might be possible, but not with what I know.
Plan C, then - export Imoen and import her as the protagonist ... nope. I got a stutter AI out of that, constantly canceling anything I ordered her to do.
Finally, plan D. I make a fake Imoen. Give her the right stats, edit her to have the right portrait, sounds and colors. Leave her script and dialogue alone, so she's a normal player 1 with respect to that.

This game is played with my usual mod setup, of which SCS (tactical difficulty) and Portraits Portraits Everywhere (faces for my added party members) are most relevant to this run. It's hard to get much out of the NPC project when you don't actually have any of the normally recruitable companions in the party.

Incidentally, I rolled a 96 on my "Imoen". I could have given her 18 strength without compromising any of her other stats... but I didn't. I just threw away the other 9 points in character generation.

My Imoen, with secondary PC Abdel (the premade fighter), did the Candlekeep chores and headed out. Other Imoen joined long enough for me to see and copy her details, then left. Dump Abdel and kill him off, then cheat moving around to pick up the high-level party members with Control-Q. Entar is in his estate. Belt and Liia aren't in the palace; we have to spawn them in (codes "BELT" and "LIIA"). Kelddath is in his temple.
Then, pop back to that initial area and take a picture. Next time, the real adventure starts.

Tags by request: @Elrandir, @Rao

Post edited by jmerry on


  • ElrandirElrandir Member Posts: 1,659
    Awesome! Thank you for the tag. I'll look forward to updates.

  • lolienlolien Member, Moderator, Translator (NDA) Posts: 3,107
    This is a story i would like to follow too.

  • energisedcamelenergisedcamel Member Posts: 87
    This looks really fun! I'll definitely be keeping my eye on it :)

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,624
    This is the most unique and creative run report I've ever read. I've never seen somebody play the whole game with a high level party, using roleplay as the main thing to make it interesting. Nice use of colored fonts to identify character voices. That must be pretty hard or at least very time-consuming to format correctly.

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 1,805
    Part 6: Waiting for Armor

    As the party waited for the blacksmith's shop to open, the old man from the crossroads returned, and introduced himself properly as Elminster. He did not attempt to hide his interest in Imoen, but offered only the trivial aid of pointing out that the bandits were operating somewhere to the northeast.
    "Elminster? I've heard of him. He has the favor of Mystra herself, right? But ... why would he care? What's so special about me?"
    "I said there was a mark of destiny on you. Has anything happened that might be related?"
    "Now that you mention it, I did have this creepy dream when we rested in that valley. And when I woke up, there was this power there. I can heal people now."
    "Healing? You are definitely god-touched. Only a divine source could have given you that power. But - which god? That troubles me."
    "Well, we're not going to find out the truth by standing around here. Let's go, and get on with our quest."
    "Need I remind you that we're waiting for the blacksmith ... oh, there he is. Taerom!
    "Kelddath? What brings you to my shop?"
    "We brought ankheg shells. Eight of them, since I know you like working with the material."
    "Excellent. They're in good condition, too. I'll give you 500 gold for each of them."
    "Actually, instead of the gold - would you be willing to make one of them into armor for me?"
    "Certainly. Only the best for our High Priest. Are your measurements still the same?"
    "My height should be, but I think I'm more girthy than back in my adventuring days."
    "Then I should measure that... yes, you're definitely bigger around the middle. I'll start work immediately. Come back in a few days when I'm done."
    "Actually, there's another matter I'd like to speak to you about."
    "Not now. Your armor isn't ready yet, and it'll take longer if you keep distracting me. I said to come back in a few days."
    "It's no use. When he gets like this, he's single-minded about his work. Let's just move on. Remember that petrified woman near the temple?"

    The party walked over, and Kelddath pulled out one of his scrolls.
    "I'm so glad you found me out here. Basilisks aren't exactly the thing to face alone. I'm going home but if you want to hunt it down, make sure you take this potion of mirrored eyes along with you. Its lair can't be too far from here."
    "A worrisome tale. If a basilisk came this close to town, they could be a serious threat to the townsfolk."
    "Agreed. But we're not prepared for them, even with the potion. That would work for one if we knew where it was, but there might be others. I need to learn how to protect from petrification before we take them on."
    "There's a mage west of town, in the High Hedge fortress. He sells scrolls and other magic items, so we should visit him for what you need."

    The area around High Hedge was infested with skeletons and gnolls. It was clear that the mage rarely ventured out of his sanctum, so the party killed a great many of the monsters.
    "A short sword? What was a gnoll doing with this?"
    "It probably took the sword from its owner, and was holding it as a trophy. There's a name inscribed on the hilt - Perdue."
    "Perdue lives in Beregost. We'll most likely find him in a tavern, if he's still alive."
    "Then we'll look for him when we return from this excursion. Shall we go in?"
    The party entered, and found the mage in the central room.
    "I don't have much patience for strangers on my property. Do us both a favor and move along. Unless, of course, you have magic for sale."
    "We're looking to buy, actually. Do you have scrolls of protection from petrification?"
    "Indeed I do. Care to take a look at my stock?"
    "All right, I'll take those two scrolls, and the potion case. I'd love those archmage robes, but I can't afford them right now."
    With that, the party stepped out again.
    "I just remembered something. There's a mad priest of Cyric named Bassilus, and rumor has it he's raising undead somewhere southwest of town. I had intended to offer a bounty for him, but now that we're out here we should deal with him ourselves. Let's go south and look for him."

    As they traveled ...
    "You there, is your name Imoen? Hurry up and answer. Your answer better be truth, for your life depends on it."
    "Bounty hunters, again? You have one chance to back away and get out of this alive."
    "Insolent pigs! You know not who you speak to. Your arrogance will cost you your lives."
    With battle joined, Kelddath opened with a Greater Command and Liia with a Magic Missile.
    Although the enemies did manage to land a Hold Person spell on Imoen, they dealt zero damage. After the three visible enemies were dealt with, a True Sight spell revealed the invisible and unconscious one.

    With the bounty hunters defeated, the party continued south to arrive in an area of rough terrain and walking dead. The mindless monsters were easy prey for Kelddath:

    Farther south...
    "You surrender, or you die. You make choice, and you make choice quickly! Zargal has no patience to wait for slow-witted city folk."
    "Ah, Zargal, is it? We have a counter-proposal: you die instead. We don't appreciate bandits."
    The fight was short and brutal.
    "Hey, this looks like a nice sword."
    "Indeed it is. The enchantment is of exceptional quality. You should use it."
    "Thanks. *yawn* I'm getting a little sleepy."
    "Then let us rest. I need to learn that new spell and prepare a couple instances anyway."

    And then, they reached Bassilus. He seemed to be under the delusion that his undead minions were actually his family.
    "There's no reasoning with a madman like this. Destroy him, in Lathander's name!"
    With that, the battle was joined. Kelddath broke the undead ranks with his turning, while Liia broke Bassilus' concentration with attack spells and the warriors attacked him with their swords. Under this combined assault, he did not last long.
    "Ooh, that's a nice hammer. It doesn't just have a superior enchantment - it also strikes with the power of lightning. I doubt you'll find a better weapon, Kelddath."

    Returning northward, the party came upon an odd sight - a talking chicken?
    "Thank ye. *cluck* You have saved *cluck* me."
    "Yes, I see how a hungry wolf would be a serious threat to a chicken."
    "I am no chicken! Well, aside from my *cluck* current form. I am Melicamp of Beregost, a *cluck* mage adept in the mystical arts. A... misread... incantation seems to be *cluck* the source of my troubling form."
    "Ah, a transformed human, a tale of magic gone wrong. We could try to dispel it for you."
    "Yes, please. Do it *cluck* now!"
    Kelddath cast the spell ...
    "It didn't *cluck* work! Bother and blast, your skill- Um, rather, I fear that *cluck* no simple dispel can remove this enchantment. My only *cluck* recourse now is to find my master Thalantyr."
    "We were headed that way anyway. It would be no hardship to bring you along."

    With that, they set off again. Thalantyr did not greet his wayward apprentice warmly; it seemed the man had stolen a pair of cursed bracers, and they rather than a miscast spell were responsible for his state.
    "I might still be able to help him, but I believe it will require a reincarnation spell. Would you fetch a piece of one of those skeletons outside?"
    "Yes, we have a skull here. Does that work?"
    "It does. It is still a risky spell, so please stand back... and that, they say, is that."
    "I have arms! Arms and hands and feet and- Oh, thank you Master Thalantyr, thank you."
    "Yes, yes, boy, now be quiet a moment. Blast it. The bracers are no longer on him. It is as I feared. Likely they either spent what magic they had in a single charge, or it is their wont to be whisked away after inflicting the damage they do."
    "If we encounter them again, we'll bring them back to you. Now, can we see your wares? We're interested in some of your enchanted darts and bullets."

    With that dealing complete, the party traveled east to face the basilisks. A ghoul greeted them:
    "Wait, me no want fight. Me Korax, me friend!"
    "A walking dead friend? I think not. Begone with you!"
    "No one likes me. Me so sad."
    "Now that that's out of the way, I'm ready to cast my spells. You'll only have one hour of protection from basilisk gazes, so you'll have to move fast."
    "Then we'll use oils of speed and potions of giant strength to get the most out of that hour. Are you ready, Belt?"
    "As ready as you are. Let's go!"

    While the basilisks were the worst threat here, some "civilized" beings had set up as well.
    "Small-town hick adventurers? You need a lesson in humility!"
    "Ohh, and what kind of lesson is that going to be? Are you going to paddle my rump with a big bad sword?"
    They attacked, but against the enhanced prowess of our two fighters, they didn't last long.
    "Must you always respond to such provocation? These killings were unneccesary."
    "You heard what they said. For the pride of Baldur's Gate, I could not let that stand!"

    A little north of there, they found a mage:
    "Greetingssss, I am Mutamin. I hope you enjoy the artwork my pretty lizards have sculpted. They sculpt with their eyessss. They sculpt when nasty travelers comb by, yesssss. I don't like nasty travelers. They should keep to the roads."
    "Is that why you brought so many basilisks here, or sent some nearly into Beregost? We will not allow you or your lizards to continue!"
    "You will go nowhere! You will join the beautiful work of art that standssss before you. You will become a piece of the art... forever."
    With that, battle was joined with Mutamin and his pets. Sadly, he had not counted on the attackers being protected from the basilisks' gaze. A Remove Magic spell failed to dislodge any of Entar's or Belt's enhancements, and Mutamin quickly fell.

    With the basilisks all dead along with the mad mage, Kelddath freed the one intact statue, a woman named Tamah. From what she said, she had likely been petrified for years.

    Finally, they all returned to Beregost.
    "Ah, Kelddath. Your new armor is ready. Would you try it on, see how it fits?"
    "Yes, thank you. This is an excellent fit, and excellent protection."
    "Ah - there's another matter we wanted to speak to you on. We found this vial on one of the kobolds in the mine. I believe it is what was tainting the ore."
    "And you think I might know how to counteract it, and get better use out of the weak iron we have? Not alone, but I have a friend I can call in to look at this."
    With that, it was time to head into the Wood of Sharp Teeth and search for the bandits' camp.

    Behind the scenes:
    Imoen reached level 6 during this update, from the bit of experience when we rescued Tamah. She improved her skills to 95 Find Traps and 90 Open Locks. That also brought the party to reputation 19.

    The ankheg deal was actually seven shells sold and armor commissioned on the eighth, for a net loss of 500 gold.

    Kelddath being in the party means that we can't collect the bounty on Bassilus - we'll just have to settle for Ashideena.

    The potions Entar and Belt used in the basilisk hunt were for strength 21 - double movement, 4 APR, and about 20 average damage will make short work of just about anything.

    One of the basilisks dropped a random fireball scroll; that's not one Thalantyr sells, so it's very welcome at this stage.

    On process - a response to @BelgarathMTH:
    The writing on this one is certainly time-consuming, but the way I've integrated the formatting keeps that part from being too much of a burden. I have two text files for this.
    First, there's my log file tracking what actually happened in gameplay, and where the pictures go - those pictures are marked by both a name and a number, so it's easy to find them when it's time to upload.
    Second, there's the story file, which contains what I post with all the markup. It also contains my master list of colors for each character; before posting, I do a find/replace operation for all the colors in that part. That way I don't have to remember that Belt's color is #8000FF; I can just replace each instance of BeltColor. While I'm willing to repeat colors for minor characters - two in this update have the same "orange" color - the party's colors are reserved for them only.

    When choosing colors, I look at the colors associated with that character in-game. I don't try to match exactly, but it's always based on what's there. Imoen wouldn't feel right as anything outside the pink/magenta range, after all.
    My previous run, with its "Power Rangers" theme, was what gave me the idea of colored character voices. With colors so strongly associated with my party due to the theme, it was only natural to start using them in the writing.

    Much of the formatting - the color tags (with variable names rather than actual colors) and the spoiler tags for my pictures - are done as I write. Putting them in is mindless enough, and not a big deal compared to the actual writing.
    I do look at dialogue files fairly often, especially for minor characters' lines. The party can develop their own voices, but everyone else has to fall back on the game's writing.

    As for making time to actually play the game... gameplay on this one was finished before I even started posting. When I play, it's a completely unrelated party.

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 1,805
    Bandits in the Woods

    From Beregost, the party traveled north to reach the Wood of Sharp Teeth - or, as this part of it was known locally, Larswood. It did not take long to find some bandits.
    "Drop ye weapons and mayhaps ye outlive the day! I'll no be sayin' it twice!"
    "I'll not compromise with bandits. Surrender now, or die!"
    "At their throats, men, for today they wish to die!"
    With that, battle was joined. Liia used her new Color Spray spell to weaken them, but mostly the fighters simply slaughtered the bandits.
    "Did you consider ... we could maybe have offered to join them? I mean, these bandits must be recruiting all sorts, and they'd lead us to their camp that way?"
    "No, it wouldn't work. We're too recognizable. Grunts like this Teven and his crew don't know us, but I expect the higher-ups would recognize the dukes of Baldur's Gate. We might reach the camp that way, but we'd be exposed and surrounded."
    "So then, how will we find the camp?"
    "We'll just have to explore the wood until we reach it. Look for tracks; the bandits are moving in large enough numbers that they can't hide the paths to their camp."

    A little east of there, in a clearing inhabited by gibberlings and overlooked by an abandoned watchtower, a strange magical discharge brought forth a drow.
    "You fool! I am not fully revived! I am diminished, damaged, and DANGEROUSLY DETERIORATED! Why, I've even lost some of my perspicacity!"
    "A drow? Here? I heard - they're evil, aren't they?"
    "Stay your hand. An evil nature is not enough to condemn anyone, and even drow have their renegades who do not follow the norm. Have you heard of Drizzt?"
    "Oh yeah, the swordsman hero. So, then, we don't know about this guy. What should we do?"
    "We listen. He seems intent on boasting of his deeds, and we will know his nature from his boasts."
    The drow noticed the party and began to engage Entar in conversation. He revealed his name as Baeloth Barrityl, and his profession as an "entertainer". Further conversation drew out the nature of his "entertainments":
    ... The roaring crowd, my obedient djinn slave keeping the prisoners in line, the sound of hammer crushing bone - ah, such fond memories!"
    "I've heard enough."
    "So have I. He's evil to the core. We can't let him run around and start anything like that up again."

    The rest of the area held few bandits; instead, the normal dangers of the woods abounded. A bit to the north, the party found a cluster of standing stones, and a lone druid approached.
    "Arrogant fools! You return to the very slaughter for which you were responsible. Your blood will soak the ground before I allow any of you to leave! I will avenge the deaths of my brothers!"
    "What are you talking about? We haven't even been here before, let alone killed any of your fellows."
    You think your excuses can work on me! I know what you are, what all of you are! Let the wrath of Malar destroy you and your faithless companions."
    With that, the maddened druid attacked, and set a number of animals on the party as well. They did not last long.
    "What was that about? Anyone with a lick of sense would have known it wasn't us."
    "You heard him mention Malar, yes? Malar is a god of beasts, who encourages his followers to embrace that bestial rage. When they do so, they abandon good sense and simply act. Anyone who walked by would have faced that accusation."
    "I must apologize for the actions of Osmadi. He had lost his mind after what happened here... some days past. A group of bandits, calling themselves the Chill, entered our camp as we worked upon this shrine. They killed and murdered everyone they came across, including some of Osmadi's close friends."
    "And where were you? Hiding as a bear, like you were just now? It is your duty as a druid to help your fellow, whether to calm down and regain balance or to hunt down the killers. To simply leave him here ... no, your story rings false."
    "You want the truth? Where was I when the slaughter happened? I was there leading it, for I am a Shadow Druid! I poisoned Osmadi's companions, so that we could be rid of their weakling presence and Osmadi could be converted to the true cause. Still, even without him, we should be able to make this land our own. Unfortunately, there will be no room for meddling city folk. It is time for you to feel the fury of nature, as only I can administer it. Goodbye!"
    With that, Corsone attacked - and fatally overestimated his abilities.
    "And there we see the other sort of fanatic among druids. The Shadow Druids preach that civilization is destructive to nature, and must be beaten back at every opportunity. Fortunately, they tend to keep to their groves deep in the wilderness, and rarely set themselves directly against the cities they hate."

    With the region scoured of hostile presence, the party continued on to Peldvale. Rest was needed.
    During the first watch...
    "Wake up! Spiders!"
    And again...
    "Up now! Bandits!"
    Kelddath handled that one with a Holy Smite. Finally, Imoen was able to get some sleep - and to dream.
    "I had another dream. I think I can heal more now. I mean, more often."
    "What was the dream like? What sorts of imagery?"
    "It was back in the mines at Nashkel, something about Mulahey's death, and letting him go. There was this creepy voice too."
    "That sounds like one of the darker powers to me - but not a strong one, or its will wouldn't allow you to get healing out of it. Curious."

    Spiders and other forest-dwelling creatures were common here, but so were bandits.
    "Hold. That looks like a group in Blacktalon colors, and they're wearing metal armor."
    "Better equipped than most, then. They must be their elites. I'll drop a web on them, and you two move in to take them out."
    It worked, mostly. Belt was tangled up briefly, but Entar remained free while the bandits did not.
    "You'll have to be more careful next time. That web spell is a lot of trouble."
    "Perhaps you could use your bow instead, and stay out of the web?"

    Indeed, the next time was more trouble, as some of the bandits got free while both dukes were tangled. Still, the party won through with only a little damage.

    A bit to the west, the party encountered another drow.
    "Help me! If you don't help me, they'll kill me."
    "Calm down, we'll help. Who is it that's going to kill you?"
    "The Flaming Fist ... oh no, he's here!"
    "Step aside, travelers. I am a member of the Flaming Fist. The woman you are harboring is wanted for murder of the foulest sort. She is a dark elf; it should be obvious that she is evil."
    "They lie. I've done nothing wrong."
    "I see. What evidence do you have for this accusation, soldier?"
    "She is a drow. Her evil is as clear as the darkness of her skin."
    "Are all our soldiers complete idiots? No, that is not sufficient reason to persecute anyone. Leave this woman in peace and investigate the so-called crime properly!"
    "A stupid decision! For harboring a murderer I sentence you all to death!"
    "You don't have the authority to do that. I am Duke Belt of Baldur's Gate, and you are required to follow my commands. Leave!"
    "Then she must have bewitched you with her vile magics! The drow will die!"
    The fool attacked, and swiftly died. With the reprieve, the woman turned to Entar once more:
    "I thank you for risking yourselves on my behalf. I am a dark elf, but I am an outcast. I need your help. I no longer receive my powers from the spider gods you surface-dwellers fear so. The goddess Shar grants me wisdom, and she is a surface divinity. If you'd let me join your group, I would be most grateful. I have nowhere else to go."
    "I am a priest of Lathander, the Morninglord. With our gods so fundamentally opposed, I doubt you would be a good fit for our group."
    "That is true. Very well, then, I will find somewhere dark to stay now that I need not fear that fool's blade."

    One last group of bandits remained.
    "It's your choice which hits the ground first, your swords or your heads! Be smart now, and you'll all live to grow wise!"
    "Challenging us will be your last mistake, fools!"
    With that, battle was joined - and swiftly ended. Raiken's band was no real threat.
    "I see tracks to the north. That must be where this group came from."
    "Then we follow. Keep it quiet. We must be getting close, and I'd like the element of surprise when we hit their camp."

    Indeed, the path led straight to the bandits' camp. It was night as they arrived, and even the sentries were drawn in near the fires.
    "Imoen. Can you scout the perimeter of the camp for us? Stay out of the light, and don't be seen. We're looking for a good spot to set up an ambush, where we can't be surrounded."
    "Can do. I'll come back here when I'm done."
    With that, Imoen crept off into the night. The southern perimeter of the camp was dominated by dense thickets, with only a few narrow passages between them. The west was much more open, with a large clearing that Imoen had to skirt around. The north was blocked by both trees and rocks, but with passages to approach on both east and west sides. And finally, the eastern edge of the camp was fully blocked by impenetrable thickets.
    "I think the southeast corner of the camp is our best bet. There's a little nook in the forest with only one entrance. If we set up there and draw them to us, they'll be walking into a killing field."
    Trusting her judgment, the party moved there.
    "All right now. I've got a plan. But to pull this off, we'll all need to be protected from the spells I'm using. They don't discriminate between friend and foe."
    Both Liia and Kelddath began casting their wards upon the party members. When all were covered, Imoen got her orders.
    "Now, go out and get their attention. Make sure you're spotted, and they raise the alarm. Then come back here. I'll set my spell at the entrance, where they have to come through."
    Imoen did so, and Liia cast her spell just as the first bandits arrived.
    Taurgosz Khosann, leader of the Black Talons, was one of the first to arrive. He survived the fire, only to fall to the attacks of Entar and Belt. The others with him were even faster to die.

    The burning cloud dissipated, and the sounds of the night settled down to the dull crackle of campfires and smoldering underbrush.
    "Did we get them all?"
    "I think so. I certainly see enough of the leaders here. But don't let your guard down too far. There might be stragglers, especially inside the tents."

    Indeed, there were a few stragglers - most notably a group of gnolls that had been thrown into a cave for attacking their allies. The party looted the tents, and then came to one that towered over the others - clearly, the command tent where any critical documentation would be. Inside, they found not more bandits, but instead a prisoner.
    "The Iron Throne? They're not an organization to take lightly. If they're behind this mess ... what could the purpose be? No, wait, untainted iron has gotten a lot more expensive. They're supposed to be importing it, but what if this hidden mine is their real source? That would be a considerable source of profit for them."
    "We'll have to investigate the mine. You know how much clout the Iron Throne has - we can't accuse them without more evidence."
    "Then that's where we'll have to go next. *sigh* And I was hoping we'd have this wrapped up soon so I could get back to my wife. I've been into that forest before, and it's always slow getting anywhere in there."

    Behind the scenes:
    Not too much to report here. I had a crash in Peldvale most likely attributable to an overheating problem. I have since improved my laptop's physical setup to make such things less likely, at least.

    Claiming Color Spray on Teven's bandits ... I don't actually know if it's true, but it's at least plausible. Liia did learn and memorize the spell before entering the Wood of Sharp Teeth.

    The big fight against the bandit camp came down to casting Protection from Fire on everybody and then putting an Incendiary Cloud at the chokepoint. A few got close enough to shoot at, but only Taurgosz got fully through the cloud. And of course, here I'm using the foibles of the SCS AI against it. The alarm gets raised, all the bandits converge on the protagonist ... and they all die in the fire.

    The fire protection/incendiary cloud technique will return. It's probably the most powerful move this party has access to within daily resources.

    I had to compromise on Baeloth's color here. He should have a dark purple, but that really doesn't show up well against the forum's black background. In the interest of readable text, I made him a flamboyant pink instead.

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,624
    You know, I knew that guy in the wyvern cave was a tongue-in-cheek reference to an old 1970's porn star, but I never realized just how dirty his dialogue really is, until I just reread it with that context in mind. :)

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 1,805
    Part 10: Shopping Trips and Farm Troubles

    Before leaving the Friendly Arm, the party visited the Temple of Wisdom.
    "Glittergold guide your eye upon your travels. What do you need?"
    "I'm looking for some potions today, of intelligence and mind focusing."
    "Certainly. My best prices for heroes such as you."

    With that dealt with, the party headed south to Beregost, arriving at night.
    "I'd like to check in with the blacksmith about that vial we found, but he's not in."
    "I trust him. Besides, we don't have anything we need to buy from him. I would like that enchanted bow Feldepost is selling, though."
    "You go do that, and sell the wyvern heads while you're at it. I'll talk to Officer Vai about her bounty on bandits."
    "All right. When you're done with your errands, let's meet here on the west side of town. I want to visit High Hedge next."

    After completing their errands in town, the party traveled west to High Hedge.
    "Why do I live in such a pissant town? Oh, you're back. You're my best customer in some time."
    "Yes, I'm back. I'd like that robe of the good archmagi, plus a selection of scrolls."
    "Of course. May I interest you in this claw?"
    "No, I'm not looking for any cursed artifacts today. On the other hand, I could use some of those acid darts."
    "Used up the fire darts, huh?"
    "Yes, I did. I had to resort to nonmagical throwing daggers for a while there."
    "A terrible fate, I'm sure. Here's your order."
    With the aid of the potions, Liia filled out her spellbook and the party moved on toward the city.

    Upon reaching the river, the party found a group of fishermen, standing around on dry land and complaining.
    "Damn it, Jebadoh, we can't go on like this forever. There is no way we can keep quotas up when we're afraid to come near the nets. Excuse me, who - oh, you're the dukes? Maybe you can solve our problem."
    "What problem is that?"
    "It's that bitch of Umberlee! She's the one!"
    "Steady, Telman. What he means is, we're being harassed by a priest of the Bitch Queen Umberlee. We don't even know why, but whenever we attempt to fish she turns the weather sour. Two of us were washed away just walking to the docks, but we cannot prove to the guard it was her. We be needin' someone to strong-arm her into leaving us alone. Will you help a group of poor fishermen?"
    "All right, we'll help."
    "Ah, I knew we could depend on you to do what's right. She hides out near a small shack to the north. Watch yer backs and act quickly; she's tricky."
    Once the party was out of earshot, Imoen spoke up.
    "Are you sure of this? Something about how they were saying things just rubbed me wrong... I can't put my finger on it, but I don't trust them."
    "And right you are. From the markings on their clothes, I believe they are Talos worshippers. They shaded everything to say to make this priestess of Umberlee sound bad and dangerous, but it is likely they did something to provoke her."
    "Indeed. We'll visit the priestess, but we'll talk first and only use force if it's truly necessary. We need her side of the story, too."

    After that agreement, the party set up camp in a nearby field and made to rest - only to be interrupted by rumbles from below.
    "Six ankhegs? They must be really swarming here."
    "Less talk, more killing. This Color Spray ought to thin them out..."
    The fight continued, with the enemy forces weakened.
    "Hey, did you have to kill that chicken?"
    "Well, excuse me, duchess. What was I supposed to do when it attacked? You're the one that hit it with a spell!"
    Once the ankhegs and angry chickens were dealt with, the party rested.

    After that rest, they found a haggard-looking farmer.
    "Please, will no one help me? Anyone? I've nowhere else to be turnin' I beseech thee, kind sir, please help. It's strange happenings at my farm, and I've not the strength I once had. I've nothing to offer, and even if I did I doubt such as you would have need of it. Please."
    "You need look no further. What can I do?"
    "Oh, by the Great Mother, thank you! My son Nathan and his friends went out looking for our missing cattle, then they just up and disappeared! Been gone for days now. I don't know where they were heading, but I saw some sort o' tracks to the west."
    "Judging by what we've seen, it's probably ankhegs. We'll look for him, but don't get your hopes up."

    Where Brun's son had gone was easy to find - an enormous ankheg burrow, which had collapsed in one place to provide an easy entrance. The party entered it, dealt with the ankhegs easily, and found Nathan's body in a pile of treasure.
    "Hey, there's a magic wand here too!"
    "It's a wand of fire. Nice find, Imoen."
    "Could you be more respectful of the dead? I'm carrying a body here."
    "Uh, sorry about that."

    Back up top, the party delivered the bad news.
    "I'm afraid Nathan is dead, sir. We found him in a nest of ankhegs. No doubt he tried to defend your farm, but they were too much for him. May Lathander bless you in this difficult time."
    "No, my only son... it is a black day. He died for this farm, but I am too old to work it and too poor to hire someone else. I've lost him AND the land. At least now I know. Thank you for your help but... I wish to be alone now."
    "If you can't afford to work the land anymore, perhaps this gold will help? It's part of what was down in that burrow, and we've got far more than we need anyway. It'll tide you over wherever you go, until you can get a decent price for the land. And when you do sell the farm, you can tell the buyer that we've sent a squad of Flaming Fist soldiers down to cull the ankhegs so that it's safe to work."
    "A squad of soldiers? Who are you to say that - oh, I recognize you now. Duke Entar, on my farm! Well, I never... Thank you for your kindness and generosity."

    A bit further north, a woman accosted the party.
    "You've come here to fight ankhegs? Well, listen up: it's mating season, so it's primarily females coming up to the surface, looking to put on a little extra weight. They're hungry, they're aggressive, and there are a lot of them. Now the point of this exercise is not to exterminate them, but to keep the population to a manageable level. No more than four ankhegs per party."
    "Four? We were attacked by more than that just walking through the farm south of here! They killed the farmer's son! I think your quota is altogether too low for the current circumstances - we're already well over it."
    "Get out of here, then, and watch your back! I report all poachers to the Flaming Fist."
    "Don't bother with that. We'll be talking to the Fist ourselves, and I expect they'll pay more attention to the dukes they work for than some commoner. You can expect some patrols coming through soon to cull the swarms here, since they're so badly out of control."

    The party continued north past the Wyrm's Crossing bridge to find a cottage - and a young girl outside it.
    "Stop! You are trespassing on my land-home! None come this way armed as you are. It was those horrible fishermen that hired you, wasn't it? Speak!"
    "Yes, the fishermen did send us. We doubt they told us the whole truth, so we would like you to explain what is going on."
    "What goes on is none of your business! Leave now, lest you earn the same fate that they have!"
    "And what did they do to earn that fate? If you refuse to explain yourself or relent, we will have no choice but to use force."
    "Sonner and the others, THEY are the EVIL ones. They killed my mother, and now you help them? She only did her duty, collecting the offerings from those that would use the sea. They stole her elemental summoning bowl and tortured her for the words that make it work. Now they all misuse a gift from Umberlee to pillage the seas, and my mother's spirit can't rest until it is returned. All I can do is hurt them till they give it back or die, but I'm so tired."
    "Yes, that is a worthy reason for your goddess' anger. We shall help as best we can, and see to it that the bowl is returned to you."
    "Oh, thank you! The Sea Queen may yet be satisfied with the return of the bowl, but one way or another Sonner's group must no longer profit at her expense."

    Thankfully, no violence was needed to acquire the bowl. Sonner and his friends folded easily under Entar's stern words and sheathed steel.
    "I suppose I have little choice then. I've had it on me the entire time; we felt it was safest that way. Take it, but know that the Storm Lord knows who it is that opposes him."
    "For a bunch of lay worshippers having their scheme foiled? He won't do anything. I've clashed with plenty of Talosians over the years, and never seen any retaliation of note."

    Back at Wyrm's Crossing, Tenya gladly accepted the bowl and left for the city.
    "Umberlee is mother now, and she is well pleased. She will deal with Sonner's group in time, and Talos will no doubt abandon them for their failure. If they are wise they will never set sail again, for the sea will take their worthless lives. You will be paid... in time."
    "I doubt Umberlee will take any direct action either. Sailing without the blessing of either Umberlee or Talos is dangerous enough even without either god in direct opposition."
    "What about her promise? What's that good for?"
    "A favor from the Umberlee priesthood - it could be many things, but it is certainly not something to be trifled with. We shall see what comes up."

    Before entering the city, two more stops awaited to the north. First, Kelddath investigated a farm and cleared out their zombie problem with his holy power.
    He never even had to draw his hammer.

    Next, the party went to Ulgoth's Beard for more shopping. A better staff and some scrolls for Liia, a wand of the heavens for Kelddath, and an enchanted cloak for the fighters. Distractions called, but the party held firm.
    "Step right up folks and HEAR the tale of dread placed before thee. Join with me as I, adventurer extraordinaire Ike Cascadion Vendar, lead another group of brave souls through the very SEAT of danger in the realms. To Durlag's tower we shall go, and witness the perils that have taken the lives of hundreds of courageous men and women."
    "That sounds interesting. A tower full of traps and monsters?"
    "No.I've been away from my wife long enough. If you want to go on another adventure when we're done with out current quest, you can. But I won't be with you."
    "Neither will I. The city doesn't just run itself."
    "I thought you wanted to be my apprentice? Learning magecraft is best accomplished in a quiet setting, with few distractions."
    "Oh, all right. I won't go to Durlag's Tower anytime soon, and I don't need that tour. But it would have been interesting."
    With that, the party left Ulgoth's Beard. It was finally time to return to the city of Baldur's Gate.

    Behind the scenes:
    A pretty quiet update this time, with a lot of shopping and only a little conflict.

    The six-ankheg spawns are BG1's level scaling in action; you can't get that many at once with a normal party under the level cap.

    With the more isolated ankhegs in the burrow, this party took zero damage.

    Unlike the "over the quota" dialogue I showcased here, Gerde actually did pay her bounty. It turns out the only ankhegs she counts are a cluster of six to the east of her, of which only one or two appear at any given time. To go over the limit, you have to stand around for hours waiting for them to pop up.

    Tenya ... this party did beat on her so she would talk. The nonviolent dialogue presented here is wishful thinking; the only way to resolve the quest without hitting anybody is to pickpocket the bowl you don't know about yet in-character.

    The zombie farm was indeed cleared entirely with Turn Undead. It's king of a weird spot, as a low-level quest gated behind "don't get killed by an ankheg".

    I'm pretty sure I didn't actually talk to Ike, but that was a perfect spot to show some character motivations. This party is not going to clear everything, or even come close. Vast swathes of the map will remain entirely unexplored.

    Preview worked fine, posting this comment failed four times... stupid erratic wireless connection. I am now posting this from outdoors, using a (much better) connection from the next building over.

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 1,805
    Part 11: Home Again

    On the bridge into Baldur's Gate, the party met a Flaming Fist guard.
    "We're from the city. At least, most of us are. I don't believe there's any tax for citizens returning home."
    "I don't recognize you ... but you might be telling the truth. Wait here while I fetch my commander."
    "More competent than most of the Fist, I see. This one at least investigates properly."
    The guard returned shortly, with a man in an officer's uniform.
    "See, this is the party I told you about. They said..."
    "Yes, I see them. Those are the dukes Belt, Entar, and Liia. They are certainly welcome to come and go as they please.
    Duke Eltan told me that the three of you left the city to investigate the bandit problem a little less than a month ago. Who are your new companions?"

    "Our new companions are Kelddath Ormlyr, high priest of Lathander from Beregost, and Imoen, a thief from Candlekeep that Liia is looking to apprentice."
    "A thief? I hope she does not ply her trade on the innocent citizens of this city. Now, what did you find in your investigations?"
    "Our investigations began with the Nashkel mine, where we foiled a plot by a priest and his kobold minions to poison the ore and drive off the miners. You may have heard about that."
    "Yes, I have. Please continue."
    "The priest Mulahey had documents in his possession from a bandit leader named Tazok. We tracked him to a camp in the Wood of Sharp Teeth, and destroyed the Blacktalon and Chill forces stationed there. Unfortunately, Tazok himself was not present."
    "So you are responsible for the recent decrease in bandit raids in the area? Excellent."
    "The camp's main tent had more documents inside, pointing to the next link in the chain. The bandits were hired by the Iron Throne, who were also operating a secret iron mine in the Cloakwood. We traveled to that mine, and found it to be manned by slaves and guarded by more of those Blacktalon and Chill mercenaries alongside the Iron Throne's own guards."
    "A slave mine? I hope you shut it down. We need iron, but we don't need such depravities in our realm."
    "Yes. We found the mine's true owner, a dwarf named Yeslick, imprisoned there and flooded the mine with his help. After freeing the slaves, of course."
    "Do you have any concrete evidence?"
    "Here. Letters from Rieltar Anchev to the man who was running the mine. They've been planning this for years, and it goes all the way to the top."
    "Thank you. I'll take these to Duke Eltan. He'll likely want to see you when he decides what action needs to be taken. Until then, perhaps you could be of aid in another matter?"
    "Of course. We'll look into this issue at the Seven Suns for you."
    "Thank you. Now, I've kept you here long enough. Please enter the city, and come see me after you've dealt with the issue at the Seven Suns."

    Just inside the gates, Elminster appeared once again.
    "Good day to thee, young one. What a marvelous happenstance that we should again cross paths, especially in such a grand city as this. Ahh, I see by thine eyes that you've no time for my wry banter, though I do honestly take pleasure in seeing thee again."
    "Ah, I see that the old meddler admits the truth this time. He knew exactly where we would be."
    "So, what brings you here this time?"
    "Forgive my continued meddling but I believe it is warranted, especially considering the pressures thou art no doubt confronting. My pestering of thee certainly pales in comparison to the influence thou hast felt from others, including thine own self. Gorion raised thee as best he could, but 'tis hard indeed to overcome what is bred in the bone. Much more so in this case, I would imagine."
    "Influences? What is bred in the bone? You know something about these powers I've been getting - Kelddath says I must be god-touched."
    "God-touched? As good a word as any, I suppose. I shall not tell thee more, but instead leave such to Gorion. The opportunity will come soon enough."
    "And how is a dead man going to tell me? Wait, how do you know so much about him?"
    "He was long my friend and we talked often, though less after he settled down with thee and Abdel. He was quite the traveler in his day, though he never regretted his new role as foster father. He felt a stable childhood would better prepare thee for, well, the problems that would eventually come. He cared deeply for thee. I hope this was not lost on you."
    "He was a Harper, then. And I see you have no intention of telling us anything of substance that we didn't know already. We can take it from here."
    "Very well, then. I am sure the future will be kind to thee. For now I will give thee my best wishes, and goodbye."

    With that, Elminster walked away, and Imoen thought of something.
    "Wait a minute - he never answered my question. How is Gorion going to tell me about myself?"
    "A letter, I imagine. One he had already composed, and planned to give to you when the time was right. It would be at Candlekeep."
    "Candlekeep, huh? Wait, he said the opportunity would come soon. Does that mean our quest is going back to Candlekeep for something?"
    "Quests have a way of coming full circle remarkably often. I wouldn't be surprised if we find a reason to go there."

    The party then split up for some shopping. Entar and Liia visited the well-marked Sorcerous Sundries store for wands, scrolls, and enchanted arrows, while Belt visited the unmarked shop of the fence Silence to sell off the dubious equipment acquired from Baeloth and buy an enchanted sling for Kelddath.

    Once reunited, a pair of men approached the party.
    "Could we have a moment of your time?"
    "What is it?"
    "First, let me introduce the two of us. I'm Marek and this is my companion, Lothander. I thought it would be nice for you to know our names, 'cause if you don't take our advice you'll be seeing more of the two of us. I know that you've been taking an active interest in destroying the Iron Throne, our employer. We thought it would be polite to give you one last warning. Stop interfering. You can decide to disregard this warning, but if you do, it'll be the last decision you ever make. See ya later."
    "Interfering? You think yourself and the Iron Throne above the law? No, we will not stop because some hirelings threatened us. Begone."

    The party turned west, following the inner wall to the gate that provided entry to the upper half of the city. From there, they turned north, intending to head toward Entar's home. This was not to be, as they were accosted in the street by a woman.
    "There ought to be a law to keep lecherous old men like Ragefast off the streets!"
    "Ragefast... he's a mage who lives west of here. What has he done?"
    "While I don't agree with you about all men, we will certainly look into this rumor of Ragefast's actions. Enslaving a nymph can't be allowed to stand."
    "Oh good. This world still has some honor left. I wish you luck and all the passion of my fury in your task."

    And then, a more serious interruption came.
    "Excuse me, please let me speak before you attack."
    "You were with that man who threatened us - what is it?"
    "My partner, Marek, has poisoned you. While you slept, he slipped a slow-acting magical poison into your rations. You have about ten days to live. Common priest spells won't help you. Only one thing can, and that's the antidote. I can help you find it, if you help me first."
    "When we slept? We haven't slept since arriving in the city. You'll need a better story than that. I don't think your partner poisoned us at all."
    "That's what he told me. He might have lied to me... he doesn't trust me. But can you afford to risk it? My problem is this: I don't work for the Iron Throne because I wish to but rather because I have been forced. I have been enspelled with a geas to obey everything that Marek orders. I know of a diviner in the market square who may know how to break the geas, but I don't have the money to pay him. Will you help me?"
    "Oh, very well. We'll see about removing your geas, and then you can point us to your partner and his antidote."
    "I could cast such a divination myself, but I don't have the right spell prepared. Let's just pay for the service now."
    With that, Entar entered the tent to speak to the diviner. He emerged a few minutes later.
    "All right, where to next? ... Imoen, what's that you're holding?"
    "Oh, this amulet? It's a good luck charm; a woman wanted me to deliver it to her son, in one of the taverns."
    "All right, you can find the boy and deliver it. But don't try to order any drinks while you're investigating the taverns! I won't have you getting drunk on my watch."
    "Moving on, then... the diviner said Jalantha Mistmyr of the Umberlee temple has what we need. We should head south now."

    The party soon reached the docks and entered the temple.
    "What - this temple doesn't even have a floor?"
    "Yes. It is to remind us to always respect the threat of the sea. These paths are wide enough to walk on safely, and the water below is shallow enough that there is little true danger for those that fall, but that reminder is always here in the Water Queen's House."
    "Well spoken, priest. You understand our ways. For what purpose do you visit the Bitch Queen?"
    "We wish to speak with high priestess Jalantha Mistmyr."
    "For a noble such as yourself, she will make time. Wait here and I will return with the High Priestess."
    It was not a long wait. Only a minute or two later, the high priestess emerged.
    "I am Jalantha Mistmyr. What reason do you have to see me?"
    "We wish your services in removing a geas from a friend."
    "For such a special service, a simple monetary donation will not be enough. If you wish your friend healed, you will first have to do a favor for Umberlee."
    "What sort of favor? I am wary of favors for evil gods."
    "Nothing to strain your morality, priest. The holy day Storm Call approaches, and it will be the first time I have overseen this ceremony. To ensure that the ceremony is flawless, I require and item of power known as the Book of Wisdom. It is possessed by the clergy of Tymora, at their temple they call the Lady's Hall. If you can get this book for me, I will do as you ask."
    "Very well, we will do as you ask."

    The party traveled north past the wall and west to the temple district. There, the priests of Tymora easily parted with the book in exchange for some gold. Upon leaving the temple, a boy approached.
    "P-please, might I have your ear a moment? My name is Varci, and I have heard you sometimes help those in need. Please, would you meet with my guardian at my house? He will reveal the nature of the job once we arrive. Please, it's a matter of death or life."
    "Lead on, then. We will follow."
    "Oh, excellent. I may yet repair the damage I have caused. This way. I'll show you to my house."
    At the house, his guardian awaited.
    "Varci! Who have you brought here?! I told you I must be alone with my thoughts!"
    "Your thoughts know as I do, and there be no denying it. We need outside help to fix what's done, and I hear these adventurers have stopped the bandits and helped all sorts of folk."
    "You are correct. We are in need of assistance and none in the clergy must know. Greetings to you all. I am Lord Priest Tremain Belde'ar, a humble servant of Our Smiling Lady Tymora. My request of you is an odd and very dangerous one. I would have you enter the Water Queen's House and retrieve my son's body. He and Varci sought to indulge their restless nature by sneaking about the place, and a high price was paid."
    "Perhaps not so dangerous for us. We already have business at the Water Queen's House, and one of their priestesses owes us a favor. But, why have you not organized your own temple brethren for this? They could certainly offer enough in trade."
    "An astute question. High Priest Chanthalas has deemed that Casson knowingly took a risk, and luck determined his fate. I however, disagree. While Casson did dare and fail, I see no reason that I should not take a risk to rescue him. It makes no sense to me for Tymora to grant her servants resurrection powers, if to use them would interfere with the "fate" of another. So now I find I must move against the wishes of my church, but not the spirit of it."
    "I agree with your reasoning. I would raise him myself, but I believe you would rather do that yourself. We'll bring him back for you."

    Indeed, the return to Umberlee's temple was uneventful. Tenya gave up the body as the favor she owed the party, and Jalantha gave up a scroll in exchange for the book.
    "Good. Take this. An incantation upon this scroll will dispel the geas upon your friend."

    Back at Tremain's house, the resurrection went smoothly.
    "I've your payment here. Tsk, it will be some time before Casson and I get a night out again. It is good to have him back among the living, though I take some small pleasure in the trouble he's in for what He did. You'll notice I've not sat down since you've known me. Sometimes "Our Lady Who Smiles" downright laughs out loud."
    "This is an excellent shield. I'll be glad to use it. The gold is welcome too, after all we've spent recently."
    "Look to us if you need aid in the future. Many a Tymoran will look favorably on you now. Good day."

    With that, the next stop is the Blade and Stars tavern, in the southeastern part of the city.
    "So, how did you fare. Do you have the cure to my geas?"
    "Yes. The cure is on this scroll."
    "This appears to be colored water. I can't detect any magical properties, or even any useful herbal elements."
    "We had already established that this man was fool, and likely duped by his partner. That he would have a worthless 'antidote' is no surprise. Let's just confront Marek and get this over with."

    Outside the tavern, Imoen had been continuing her investigations.
    "Hey, I found that Euric kid and gave him his good luck amulet. Oh, and I ran into a guy... he said that there's a basilisk loose in one of the docks warehouses."
    "A basilisk? We need to deal with that before it gets out into the streets. Thankfully, I've got a protection spell memorized. Entar, would you handle this one?"
    "Of course. My blade will make short work of any such creature, if you protect me from its gaze."

    With that taken care of, the party turned north, to head past the palace and on to the eastern corner of the city's upper section. On the way, Imoen returned to the woman she had spoken with earlier about the "good luck" amulet, and was rewarded with a magical necklace.
    "Hey, Liia, what does this do?"
    "It's a necklace of missiles. Each bead represents a fireball you can blast your enemies with."
    "Oh, that's really nice. Much better than a good luck charm."
    "Maybe, maybe not. That good luck charm was an amulet of protection - pretty useful, if you didn't already have a ring for it."
    "Oh. Well, I like fireballs, so this necklace is great!"

    Just before reaching the Blushing Mermaid, a man approached the party in the street.
    "Greetings to you and yours, my friend. Might I have your ear a moment?"
    "Certainly. What is your concern?"
    "I've a service needing completion, and it require that which I think you have. I reward well, but the mission is dangerous and beyond what the law would technically allow. Interested, yes?"
    "Get to the point. What is it you want us to do?"
    "I would have you enter into the home of a colleague of mine and effect the release of a creature he has imprisoned there. Ragefast be his name, and he has in his possession one of the most beautiful and useful creatures in all of Faerun. It's a nymph he captured some time ago, and I know not what laughable plans he has for her, but I am sure she be more... productive in my care. I not so rich as to be able to offer huge gold, but as competent wizard I do have the odd magical item of worth. Perhaps an enchanted item will serve your needs, no?"
    "We will visit this Ragefast and remove the nymph from his custody, yes."
    "Most agreeable! Already you show intelligence needed to succeed! I give you directions to Ragefast's abode, and you take it from there, yes?"
    "No need for the directions. We already know where to find him."
    "Good. We meet at my home when you complete your mission."
    With that, the mage entered his tower home.
    "Hey! Why did you agree to that? I don't know what he's going to do to that nymph, but it didn't sound nice!"
    "I never said I'd return the nymph to Ramazith. I expect we'll free her, and then simply not return here at all."
    "Oh. That's better."

    Inside the Blushing Mermaid, the party found an ogre waiting for them.
    "Huurm. I be Larze. You be Imoen. Don't try deny it. You should not hve come to Baldur's Gate. You given many warning before, but you ignore them. Now you must pay. Sorry, but Larze must kill."
    "More hired killers, I see. Your employer is certainly persistent."
    "Larze will crush you now, crush you to paste."
    One shot from a wand of paralyzation, and, well, it was Larze being chopped to bits. The party headed upstairs, to confront Marek.

    "So you've come, I assume, to take the antidote. All you're going to accomplish is to hasten your death, but I think that isn't the foremost worry you have at the moment."
    With that, battle was joined ... but Entar and Belt were already in melee range, and made short work of him.
    "This is certainly a powerful antidote he was carrying. Imoen? Take a sip. It certainly can't hurt, and it will help if he truly did poison you."
    "That ... I feel better already. I think he really did find a way to poison me earlier, maybe one of those times I was away from the rest of you."
    "Good to know. On another note, here's the bow Marek had. It's a considerable improvement on the bow you've been using."

    The party went back down and left the Blushing Mermaid, only to meet another woman seeking help.
    "Could you wait for a while so I might talk with you? I am Brielbara, a mage of minor power. I have heard that a group fitting your description were righting many wrongs. Is that true?"
    "Yes, we've been helping out along the way while we pursue a greater quest. What do you need?"
    "Of course."
    "Yago's been staying at the Low Lantern. All I want you to do is find him and take his spellbook. I have enough magical skill to reverse the curse if I had the formula for the spell. When you're finished, come meet me in the Splurging Sturgeon Inn. I'll be there for the next few days."

    The party had accumulated a number of tasks by now, but none were truly urgent. And so, Entar finally returned home, to speak to his wife and daughter.
    "Wait. This is your home. Why is Imoen picking the lock?"
    "I ... ah ... forgot the key when I left. It's easier to get in this way than to get a guard's attention from out here."

    On the second floor, Entar spoke to his wife first.
    "My dear Brilla, I bring grave news."
    "News? Oh... you went out to investigate what happened to our son Eddard. Then, he is ... he is... "
    "Yes, he is dead. His caravan was attacked by bandits. All I found was this clasp of his."
    "Will you be staying now that you have found what is left of him?"
    "No, I cannot return to your side just yet. We have been tracking the bandits that killed him and those who hired them. The plot we follow leads ever deeper, and I suspect our investigations will lead us out of the city again before the end."
    "Then I will mourn, until you are able to return. Skie is over in her bedroom, if you wish to speak to her."
    "I do, thank you."

    With that, Entar walked over to deal with the more difficult conversation.
    "Father! You're back?"
    "For now, my dear sweet Skie."
    "You were out looking for Eddard, right? What did you find?"
    "He... he's dead. Bandits killed him, and his caravan."
    "No... no... M-m-y brother... o, no! Wait, you have a priest with you. Couldn't you raise him?"
    "I'm sorry. We didn't even find his body, just his necklace. There was nothing we could do."
    "Oh ... oh, I wish Eldoth were here. He'd know what to say to cheer me up."
    "No, you won't be seeing that scoundrel again. He was never good enough for you. Now that you're of marriageable age, we need to find you an appropriate husband. And by 'appropriate', I mean one that cares about you and not just my money!"
    "Father... what happened? Eldoth was always kind to me, and ..."
    "We met that boy on our travels, and he didn't recognize me right away. So then, he started explaining his plans. He was going to find some adventurers to help, and come here to steal you away."
    "Steal me away? But... I would have gone with him willingly."
    "Yes, he was counting on that. It's always easier to 'kidnap' a willing victim. But he wasn't going to tell me about that part. Instead, he was going to try to blackmail me, and send ransom demands. You were a pawn in his scheme to steal my money."
    "Oh. He was ... he was that bad?"
    "Yes. But don't worry. As I said, you'll never see him again."
    "Because you didn't help him ... wait, he'd just try again with a different group of adventurers. You ... you killed him?"
    "Yes, I killed him. It was the only proper action."
    "You killed him, because he wanted to run off with me? I HATE YOU, FATHER! I'M NOT SPEAKING TO YOU ANYMORE!"
    "I'm leaving now, so I'll leave it like that for the moment. But when my quest is done and I get back, you had better be done with this tantrum!"

    Behind the scenes:
    A long update today, delayed because it took a long time to write. There just aren't a lot of natural break points in the city, and I scrambled the order of a few things to shorten it. For all its written length, this is the shortest update since the first in terms of in-game time - it's all within the no-travel-time zone of the city of Baldur's Gate. It's also extremely low on combat, with only three enemies of any kind fought in the narrative.

    And to think, I thought I would be able to maintain a buffer when I started posting this...

    No, there aren't secret ways of avoiding the fees to enter the city or speak to Jalantha. It just made sense to write things that way in character. The Umberlee priestess calls you commoners when she demands the fee, which certainly wouldn't fly with this bunch.

    While most of my runs find some way of getting Jalantha's scroll without giving up the tome, this party didn't. Good relations with a major temple in the city are important to the dukes. Also, Lothander was allowed to leave, rather than being killed for his boots.

    The visit to the fence ... Baeloth comes with an expensive set of archmage robes, along with some other bits of gear. Unfortunately, they're all flagged as stolen so normal merchants won't buy them.

    The conversation with Skie ... is 100% role-play. There isn't even the flimsy framework of an in-game conversation as with Brilla.

    I usually try to maintain some balance in how much dialogue the party members get, but, well, this episode was kind of Entar's show. Between being the party's preferred face in general and having the whole last scene to himself, he got more than twice as many lines as anyone else.

    A slight color collision here, as Elminster and Jalantha both got "red". I forgot Elminster was in this one on the first color pass, and, well, that happened. I've elected not to change it, as they're not in nearby scenes and the difference should be very clear.

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,624
    edited June 2020
    Great chapter; I enjoyed reading. I'm getting curious how you're going to handle the dukes getting framed for the murder of Rieltar. It seems they'd realistically get some manner of "high justice" not available to a commoner. No need to reveal it early; I can just wait to read it when it comes up. But I'm guessing you'll be doing some rewriting on how that scenario plays out.

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 1,805
    Part 13: Murder in the Library

    The party arrived just before dawn, and found trouble waiting for them.
    "Little pink ones, you shall all die. The son of Murder offers 10,000 gold for the head of Imoen, and we shall have it."
    With that, the five ogre magi attacked. For all their strength, they did not last long.
    "Hey - it looks like the leader was carrying a message. It says something about that gold he mentioned, and then more: 'as you know, I am destined for great things, and I will remember those who aided me in mortal life'. It's just signed with an initial - S."
    "That shines some light on things. Do you know about the Time of Troubles?"
    "It was ... something about the gods walking on Toril? I didn't pay much attention in history lessons."
    "Very well then, I'll elaborate. Not so long ago, around the time you were born, the overgod Lord Ao banished all of the other gods here to Toril. While here, they were vulnerable, and indeed some of the gods died. One of those was the old god of murder, Bhaal. He fell not far from here, in fact."
    "So - that 'son of murder' line means that this 'S' is a son of Bhaal?"
    "Yes, most likely. Bhaal must have left children behind, and Sarevok is one of them. From the letter, it seems he seeks more divine power, and believes he can grasp that through murdering others with power - like you."
    "Don't forget the other part - the identity of 'S'. This is most likely Sarevok. He certainly has the money to pay exorbitant sums, and we already know he sent those killers at the Iron Throne."
    "I agree with your deduction - but this means that Sarevok is not truly working with his father. Instead, he is spending the Iron Throne's resources for his own personal gain. Where Rieltar seeks profit, he seeks power directly. This scheme is more complex than we thought."
    "Well, that was cheery. Let's just get inside and rest. We spent all day and night on the road, and my feet are aching."

    Inside, Candlekeep was seemingly unchanged from the last time Imoen had seen it ... on the surface. Underneath that, an undercurrent of worry flowed everywhere. The troubles outside the wall were on everyone's minds, and some of those troubles had come inside.
    "A doppelganger? Here? We'll have to warn the Watchers."
    "You lived here before. They're most likely to trust you, so you should speak for us in that. Ah, there's one."
    "Hey kid, nothing to see here."
    "But we saw something. There was a doppelganger in the priests' quarters, impersonating a priest. We killed it, but if there's one, there are probably others."
    "Doppelgangers, huh? I'll have to warn my superiors. Thanks, Imoen."

    Afternoon came, and the party rose. It was time to enter the central keep and find the Iron Throne leaders. Inside, Imoen found more familiar faces.
    "Imoen, my child, look at you. Your face has gained some new lines since the days I tutored you."
    "It has been an eventful month out there. And it seems the trouble has come here as well. Have you seen anything strange?"
    "Strange? Why yes, that is just the word I would have used for that Koveras fellow. He was right here beside me, taking Alaundo's prophecies from their place on the shelf and reading them. I could hear his voice, recognize the Seer's words upon his quiet breath, but when I turned to steal a glance at him from the corner of my eye, it was the strangest thing... his eyes were closed and he was reciting page after page, as if from memory!"
    "That's all? The chanters recite those prophecies from memory all the time. Of course someone interested in Alaundo's prophecies would come here to study them - this library is where they're all collected."
    "Did you miss the name, Imoen? 'Koveras' is clearly Sarevok. Reversed names are a common ploy for unimaginative sorts trying to hide their identities. If he is here to study those prophecies... what did Alaundo write about Bhaal and his children?"
    "I dunno. I never paid attention to that sort of thing."
    "Perhaps we should search the shelves of this library then, for anything that might be relevant?"
    "Oh, yeah... here's something. These two scrolls have been moved recently. Oh, and I found some spell scrolls too."
    "Thank you. 'During the days of the Avatars, the Lord of Mudeer will spawn a score of mortal progeny. These offspring will be aligned good and evil, but chaos will flow through them all. When the Beast's bastard children come of age, they will bring havoc to the lands of the Sword Coast. One of these children must rise above the rest and claim their father's legacy. This inheritor will shape the history of the Sword Coast for centuries to come.'"
    "I see. So Sarevok wishes to help this prophecy along, and become the inheritor it singles out."
    "Yes. There's more. 'The spawn of the Lord of Murder are fated to come into their inheritance through bloodshed and misery. It is the hope of their father that only one shall remain alive to inherit his legacy. I foresee that the children of Bhaal shall kill each other in a bloody massacre.' Fitting for a god of murder, really. The conflict feeds his domain, and shapes the essence so that the inheritor shall be the same as the father."
    "Sarevok's one ... and the other children?"
    "I have my suspicions about two of them, but nothing I'd care to voice."
    "Suspicions... oh. Right."

    Up on the next floor up, a man approached Imoen.
    "Ah, I thought I might find you somewhere around here. Allow me to introduce myself."
    "I don't recognize you. Please do."
    My name is Koveras. I used to work for Gorion, running messages to his Harper friends..."
    "Don't make me laugh. You've been sending killers after me ever since I left Candlekeep, Sarevok. Whatever bullshit you're trying to shovel at me, I'm not buying it."
    "If you be so void of trust, I am surprised you have made it this far. Go seek your vengeance or your doom at the hand of the Iron Throne. I wash my hands of it."
    "Vengeance? Doom? No, we are here for simple justice, even though the Iron Throne's scheme killed my son. But you don't care about that scheme, do you? This has never been about profit for you."
    "He left already. You don't need to keep talking at him."

    The third floor held a meeting room, in which the Iron Throne leaders waited.
    "My dear sir, you must realize that it is manners that make the gentleman, so would you kindly prove that you are one by leaving?
    "I'm afraid not. Rieltar Anchev and Brunos Costak, you are under arrest for insurrection and fomenting banditry, by unanimous order of the dukes of Baldur's Gate. Come quietly and confess to your crimes, and some parts of your organization may be spared."
    "Arrest? What utter nonsense. We will not be coming with you, quietly or otherwise. The laws of Candlekeep forbid such actions by any outsider."
    "Then we will be back shortly with the Watchers. Don't go anywhere."
    Back at the central staircase, the party briefly paused.
    "Before we get the Watchers, I'd like to see if Gorion left anything for me. Can we go up first?"
    "Of course. Rieltar and Brunos won't just leave."

    The fifth floor finally brought Imoen the answers she sought, as a monk guided her to Gorion's quarters.
    "So, there it is. I'm a daughter of Bhaal, just like Sarevok. That's the god that my powers come from."
    "Yes, as I suspected. Just remember that your powers are shaped by your choices and your will. You have chosen a path of good, and your powers reflect it. You are not any sort of servant of the dead god's darkness."

    Finally, the party reached the top floor, where the mages Ulraunt and Tethtoril stood. Despite an overly officious guard trying to convince the party to leave, Tethtoril greeted Imoen warmly.
    "Imoen? Hast thou come to collect the inheritance from your father? He left thee several items, all of which are in his old room. You remember where his old room is, don't you?"
    "I've already been there and collected them."
    "Good. Please forgive my abrupt nature, but much requires my attention this day. It is important that we later speak of Gorion, but not now. Meet me in the outer grounds."

    Over at the staircase, though, it was a different story for the rest of the party.
    "Don't you have something better to do than trying to annoy us into leaving?"
    "No. Sorry, but ye're not to be allowed in here. Now go run along and do somthun' useful."

    The other room held Ulraunt, who was not so friendly.
    "Someone disturbs me?!"
    "It's me, Imoen. I grew up here?"
    "Why hast thou disturbed me here? Hast thou no manners? Get out!"
    "If you're going to be like that, then fine. I'm leaving. Hmph."

    With the exploration complete, the party descended the keep to meet with the Watchers.
    "Stop and surrender yourself. You are accused of murdering the men Bronus Costak and Rieltar Anchev. If you give yourselves up now, you will be assured of a fair trial."
    "What? We were just coming down here to bring you up to arrest them. Look - here's the warrant."
    "You can't arrest dead men. Now come with us."
    "As inflexible as the Flaming Fist in following orders, I see. Very well, take us to speak with someone that can actually think."

    Sadly, they got Ulraunt instead.
    "So, Imoen, you have sullied Gorion's name by defiling his home and bringing ruin to a peace that has lasted for centuries. I spit on you and all of your friends. Your transgressions will be punished in the most severe form. I formally accues you of the murders of Brunos Costak and Rieltar Anchev."
    "Murder? We were there to arrest them, on our authority as dukes of Baldur's Gate. Who accuses us?"
    "You were seen fleeing the murder scene by the guest named Koveras."
    "And you would take the word of a man who lies about his own name over that of the highest authority in the region? When, in all this farce, will we be allowed to defend ourselves?"
    "Assassins in service of Amn? Have you gone utterly mad? Are you trying to start a war? ..."
    "He's gone. And I don't think he's gone mad. There is a simpler and far more sinister explanation - I'm pretty sure that was a doppelganger in Sarevok's service. You noticed how it didn't recognize anyone but Imoen? For all their skill at shapeshifting, doppelgangers are poor at improvisation. Throw one into a scenario it has not prepared for, and it will either repeat its irrelevant script or abandon its disguise. That doppelganger had prepared for Imoen, but not for us."
    "Doppelgangers? What was that you just said?"
    "Tethtoril? That was Ulraunt who just came in here to accuse us - or, at least, it looked like Ulraunt. Liia thinks it was a doppelganger working for Sarevok."
    "Why would you think this? What has he done that was suspicious?"
    "Aside from trusting the word of 'Koveras' over the dukes of Baldur's Gate, he called us assassins in service of Amn. Either he has gone mad, or that was not Ulraunt at all."
    "And the accusations of murder against you? What do you say to them?"
    "We are innocent. We came here to arrest Rieltar and Brunos, only to be arrested in turn when we went to fetch the Watchers to enforce the warrant."
    "I am convinced. That warrant holds greater weight than any of the evidence laid against you. But I do not have the authority to command that you be freed on my own. I should be able to expose the false Ulraunt's treachery and secure your release, but with the unknown infiltrators working against you it is not safe for you to remain here while I do so."
    "Is there anything else you can do for us?"
    "I can help you escape, by teleporting you to the catacombs under Candlekeep. There are many guardians and traps, but it is far safer for you than staying here at the mercy of false authority. Goodbye, and good luck."

    Down in the catacombs, the party inched forward through the trapped corridors, and found valuable treasure.
    "I've got a book and a ring here. Can you identify them?"
    "Gladly. The ring provides fire resistance, and the book increases wisdom. Kelddath, this one's yours."

    Another corridor led to a nest of phase spiders, which bit Imoen and forced her to use a potion to cure the poison.
    "Let's see if this treasure is worth it ... a cloak and another book."
    "The cloak is a double-strength cloak of protection and the book increases strength. Yes, I'd say this is worth it."
    "I'll take the book. Entar's already got his gauntlets for strength."

    A third path was less lucrative, but the ghasts there were easy for Kelddath to destroy.

    The party moved on, then, into a large hall. The central area was infested with skeletons that Kelddath easily eliminated, while the rooms off to the sides held doppelgangers practicing for roles as Candlekeep residents.
    "Why do these doppelgangers always just reveal themselves right away?"
    "Down here ... there's no reason for the real people to be here. They know they're discovered anyway, so there's no reason not to fight at their best."
    "But of course, they have to deliver their oh-so-clever lines first. The disguise would be a complete waste without that."
    "Wait - there's a group of three of them."
    "Imoen! Stop this madness, child, I beg of thee! Thou hast soaked these halls with the blood of innocents, and I cannot permit it to go further."
    "What? You think I'd actually believe you? What about your companion there, who wears Gorion's face?"
    "It's okay, Imoen, it's all right. I didn't die that night, nor have I yet. The blade that you thought slew me had been treated with a magical poison. It left me, a living soul and a lively mind, imprisoned in a body that gave all appearance of death."
    "No, it didn't. I examined his body, and saw it was too badly mutilated to raise. There was no poison, doppelganger."
    "I see you have a false Tethtoril as well, but no Ulraunt. I suppose that doppelganger must be up in the keep playing his role for a wider audience."
    "Thsss, then, fleshling! Go mad, if you will, and feel the rasp of our claws against your mind!"
    With that, the doppelgangers transformed into their true selves and attacked. It didn't go well for them.
    "I see the false Elminster was a stronger sort of doppelganger. It explains this bunch holding their disguises as long as they did."

    The party marched on, past more doppelgangers, until they left worked stone behind and entered a system of natural caverns.
    "Hold! There's a party ahead of us, and they don't look friendly."
    "Then I'll burn them. I think I can cast my spell before they see anything."
    The party waited for the burning cloud to dissipate, and then entered to claim the spoils.

    The rest of the caves were infested with spiders, which were defeated easily - although the party did trip some web traps. And then...
    "I see statues, like people were petrified and eroded."
    "Then we won't risk that happening to us. Entar, I'm casting a protection spell on you. Go investigate the statues."
    Entar found two basilisks, and ignored their gazes to chop them up.
    "There were two basilisks, but I dealt with them. It's safe for all of us now."

    There were no obstacles beyond the basilisks' cave, and the party approached the surface - only to meet a man just before the exit.
    "It's about time you got here, Prat! It is Prat, isn't it? I don't need to tell you that we must not keep the Sarevok waiting! I trust you didn't have any trouble in there? He said that the monks fell for the ruse, so he took the surface route out of the keep instead of meeting you in the crypts. We really must get moving if we are to catch up with him!"
    "Er... yes. Prat... that's me all right. What was the point of us waiting in the crypts anyway?"
    "The point? Did Sarevok not tell you? I suppose he might not have; he does have a tendency to only give information on a need-to-know basis. It hardly matters now, though. You and your band were not needed to guard the boss's escape route after all. Everything went as planned. Shall we go now?"
    "This is a remarkably gullible man. Doesn't he know Prat was a man?"
    "Well, you certainly seem like SOME sort of prat, if not the precise one I was looking for. Why he thinks you could stop his take-over of Baldur's Gate, I have no idea. Do you mind if I don't stay to fight? I've rather more important things to be doing. We've a war to concoct, you know."
    With that, he left. The party followed him up to the surface, but he was gone by the time they emerged.
    "That was an enlightening conversation. A plot to take over the city and start a war? We need to get back there immediately."
    "We do represent an obvious obstacle. The council of dukes must ratify any war declaration or change in governance, and all of us know of Sarevok's perfidy."
    "An obvious obstacle, yes. And for a man such as him, an equally obvious answer. Murder is his solution to any problem. If a duke is dead, their place on the council must be filled, and that gives him an opportunity to be elevated. Then he will get his way by silencing any dissenting voices..."
    "Eltan. We need to get there quickly, or he'll kill Eltan to make room for himself. Let's get moving."

    Behind the scenes:
    As is fitting for the location, Imoen takes the leading role for this part. Lots of lines, as we discover the Bhaalspawn plot.

    The letter on the ogre mage leader is added by SCS, to reinforce the dialogue. My log also indicates a crash there, so I had to reload and do that fight again.

    That picture on the top floor ... that's an outright bug. Somehow, the Gatewarden (GATEWA2) that should be there is replaced by a Watcher (WATCH02) normally found in the prologue barracks. The script the area imposes tells him to arrest you, but he doesn't have the right dialogue options to do that, so he just keeps repeating his one line every second or so.
    How did the creature get replaced? I have no idea; it's a Gatewarden in the area file.

    I was constrained in the prison scene by the picture I took, so I had to come up with an explanation for Ulraunt staying on script. I hope this satisfies.
    On reflection, I find the theory quite plausible; you run into doppelgangers copying practically every other Candlekeep resident of note in the catacombs, but no Ulraunt. Why would that be so, if not that the Ulraunt doppelganger has already replaced him?

    In the first level of the catacombs, Kelddath got to Wis 19, Belt got to Str 18, and Imoen reached the milestone of 89K XP:
    That's the original BG1 experience cap, without TotSC. Since we haven't done any TotSC content or even explored far off the main quest path, that's fairly impressive.

    That wasn't the first try against Prat and company; the first try had them get off a Confusion and a Slow. Liia hit back with a wand of paralyzation on the melee attacker...
    ... but it wasn't enough to save Kelddath, and I reloaded.

    I took some shots at Diarmid on the way out, but he has an immortality item.

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,624
    edited June 2020
    That was brilliant, using the doppelgangers to explain how the dukes were so easily framed and almost killed. It seems so obvious, now that you thought of it, but for some reason it didn't occur to me before.

    I suppose you could also say that the doppelganger infiltration in Baldur's Gate goes far further than in the original story, such that the (fake) Flaming Fist is now trying to arrest you there. It could also be that the party is accused of being doppelgangers instead of the real dukes. The plot thickens. :)

    Also, it looks like SCS makes some of the endgame fights so dangerous that a no-reload could still be challenging even for a high level party.

  • monicomonico Member Posts: 571
    As @BelgarathMTH said, simply brilliant !
    That Ulraunt plot-twist blew my mind, and actually convinced me that it may indeed be what the developpers had in mind (at least, there is now a possibility that Ulraunt is more than just an idiotic douche).

    I can't wait to see how Sarevok managed to replace / frame our traveling dukes (some clever use of doppelgangers seem plausible)

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 1,805
    Part 14: Endgame

    The way to Baldur's Gate was clear, and the party reached Wyrm's Crossing at night. A man greeted them:
    "Hey there, travelers, y'all seem rather road worn. Perhaps there's a reason for that, eh? Well, I shan't come across as rude: My name's Tomlin, and I'm the owner of a small trading coster that operates out of Beregost. Who do you happen ta be?
    "We're the dukes of Baldur's Gate, returning to stop a plot against the city."
    "The dukes? Wow, I never thought I'd be in such lofty company. But, I recognize the girl's face from the wanted posters that have been put up."
    "A smuggler, eh? The trading costers here in the city have been rather depleted of late. If you'd be willing to move here and go straight, we might consider offering an amnesty for past actions. But for now, we've got our own resources. We should be able to get into the city on our own."
    "If that's the way you want to be, I guess I'll be on my way."
    The smuggler left, and Belt turned to Imoen.
    "Are you up to scouting ahead for us? Don't be seen - just tell us where any patrols are."
    "Got it. They won't see anything."

    A few minutes later, Imoen came back.
    "It's clear. No patrols on the bridge, no guards at the gate. We can just walk in."
    "What? Eltan and Scar are better than that. Leaving the way into the city completely unguarded goes completely against all of the Flaming Fist's rules. There must be something seriously wrong in that organization."
    "I suspect it means that Sarevok's agents have already moved against Eltan. We may already be too late to save him."
    "Then we shall make haste. But first, we need rest to be at our best."
    "I know a place. Silence won't ask questions. Her beds aren't luxurious, but they're safe."

    Imoen woke from a restless sleep.
    "I had another of those odd dreams... I think I can make myself stronger? Not for long, though."
    "Anything else?"
    "I had a premonition - if the Flaming Fist catch us, they're going to kill you. No trial, just dead."
    "How did they catch us?"
    "We were leaving the Flaming Fist castle, when a patrol came in from the east. They were on us before we could get clear of the doors."
    "Then we'll have to be extra careful there. Out here, too. While we're in the streets, we'll need you to scout ahead."
    Imoen left to scout, and returned shortly.
    "Let's go south around the Elfsong. There's a Flaming Fist patrol to the north."
    Beyond the tavern, they were accosted by an unfamiliar man.
    "Hello there. I must speak with you; it's of utmost importance. Will you wait and listen."
    "We can. Who are you?"
    "Good then. I am Delthyr. I represent those who harp. Things have changed here since you left three days ago, and I can tell you everything you need to know."
    "That would be most welcome."
    "The second-in-command of the Flaming Fist, Scar, was assassinated. Grand Duke Eltan has come down with some mysterious ailment, and a man named Angelo Dosan has taken command in his place. Your companion Imoen has been accused of murdering the Iron Throne leaders, and rumors have spread that she is an agent of Amn. The Flaming Fist is out in force searching for her, and the new Iron Throne president Sarevok has placed a price on her head."
    "That's nothing new. He's had a price on my head ever since I left Candlekeep a month ago."
    "Before I continue, Imoen, are you guilty?"
    "No. We were there to arrest them, but Sarevok and his doppelgangers framed me."
    "I am relieved. If you have any questions for me, ask them now. I'll be gone for the next few days."
    "Who killed Scar? Aside from the obvious fact that it was Sarevok or his agents."
    "Evidence was found at the scene to incriminate the Shadow Thieves of Amn, and Angelo has publicly accused them."
    "What of Eltan's illness? What is known about that?"
    "Nothing. Eltan has been attended to by his healer Rashad, but no word has come."
    "Then this healer has most likely been replaced by one of Sarevok's doppelgangers. That's enough questions. I hope we will not need to speak again before this crisis is over."
    "Then I must be off. When I return, I will be at the Three Old Kegs inn."

    After Delthyr left, Imoen turned to Entar.
    "With all the patrols in the streets, I don't think we should be traveling on the surface. It'll be a lot easier to get to the Flaming Fist's castle and rescue Eltan if we go through the sewers."
    "Agreed. There's a grate just west of the castle, isn't there?"
    "Yes. I noticed that when we were looking for those missing people. Well, shall we go down?"

    The sewer travel was uneventful, except for a few spiders.
    "I see the Fist didn't take our advice about sending patrols to smash the eggs. It looks like the new leadership is neglecting most of their duties."

    Imoen emerged first, and confirmed that the streets were clear west of the castle.
    "You can come up now. We can get in safely."
    "Good. Wait, someone's coming this way."
    "Shhh, I must talk to you in private. These are troubled times."
    "Very well. Who are you?"
    "You may call me Tamoko. I do not presume to be your friend, or even someone you can trust, but fate demands that I place myself at your disposal. I have details worth listening to, and again I must ask if you are interested in a trade of sorts. Do you wish to hear what I have to tell?"
    "Yes. What do you wish in exchange for this knowledge?"
    "I wish of you a promise. You must defeat Sarevok. You must destroy his plans and stop his scheme in its tracks. You must strip him of the belief that he can succeed in this path he follows. You must do this for me, and you must also leave him his life. I will... I will help him to live his life as a man, not the god he thinks he can be."
    "We will do what we can, and offer the chance to surrender. But for one such as him, who follows the path of murder, I do not believe he will accept. If he should fight to the bitter end, we may have no choice."
    "Sarevok seeks to destroy everyone, not just you. You, Imoen, are of particular interest because of your shared origins with him."
    "That we're both children of Bhaal, right? He's trying to fulfill a prophecy and gather the god's power to himself."
    "Yes, he believes that a war and the grand slaughter it brings will empower him as Bhaal's successor. He may possibly be right, but I cannot lose him to this. Even if he succeeds, the man he is will be gone forever. More likely, he will not survive his plan. Gods are not known for bequeathing their powers, especially if they have foreseen their deaths. Whatever he is, I would keep him here, grounded firmly among those of us that are all flesh."
    "Then we shall do our best to defy Murder itself, and see that he lives if possible."
    "I thank you. Sarevok can be redeemed. For now, I shall speak of secrets to aid you. There are two murderers in Sarevok's service that claim they have killed Duke Eltan, but I see their claims are false. Still, they have killed others, including Scar. You must go to the Undercellar to find Slythe and Krystin, two unsavory beings that revel in the violence Sarevok allows them to commit. They are no more than animals in human guise, even by the standards of the company they keep. Kill them and you shall know much of the plan."
    "The Undercellar? What's that?"
    "It is the city's largest brothel. The main entrance is in the Blushing Mermaid, but there are also several ways in through the sewers."
    "There is... another. Atop the Iron Throne base is a woman whose... whose influence is a poison in Sarevok's soul. If she were removed I know he would listen to reason, to my pleading. Cythandria is her name, and she holds much power in this matter. She seeks Sarevok's favor as well, though she is content if he self-destructs, so long as she profits in the deed. I... I must go. He cannot know I have helped you.
    With that, Tamoko left. Silence reigned for a moment, until Belt broke it.
    "Ah, love. Is there anything else that can so delude a person?"
    "And yet, we will do as she wishes and make the attempt. To simply murder Sarevok would validate his mad scheme. No, we act in the name of justice."
    "Enough talk. It's time to go in and find Eltan."

    Inside, a group of mercenaries stood guard.
    "What foolishness is this?! Are you trying to storm the Flaming Fist compound?! You'll find no friends here! Angelo now commands the Flaming Fist. Friends of Duke Eltan can only expect death from Angelo's new order. To arms, to arms!"
    "No pretense of proper authority, I see. They're not even wearing proper Flaming Fist uniforms."
    With that, battle was joined. Holy and unholy spells were exchanged ... but ours were better.

    Upstairs, the false Rashad stood over Eltan.
    "Who are you? What are you doing here?"
    "We're here to rescue the duke from you."
    "Stupid primates. It was your last mistake to come here. Let us see how your vaunted skills perform against one who was born an assassin."
    With that, it transformed into its true form and fought. Briefly.
    "Let's see... poisoned. I can cure that easily, but he'll need some time to recover."
    "Thank you, friend. Please take me to the Harbor Master. He can shelter me until I'm fully recovered."

    Heeding Imoen's warning, the party was exceptionally careful on the way out. They followed the sewers to an exit near the Harbormaster's building and delivered the duke without incident.

    And then, it was time to tackle the Iron Throne and find this woman Cythandria that Tamoko had spoken of. The building was nearly deserted, with the common workers losing faith in the leadership.
    "Out of my way, interloper! I am getting off this sinking ship as fast as I can!"
    "Sarevok has done that much damage in three days? I knew he wasn't concerned with profit, but how is that possible?"
    "He has abandoned us in favor of his new position, that of soon to be appointed Grand Duke. We are simply to be cast off, and I would not be surprised if he marches the Flaming Fist through here tomorrow as a sign of his stance on mercantile crime."
    "Grand Duke? That isn't possible. How is he being appointed?"
    "Wait, Duke Eltan? Oh, thank the gods, you're not dead. He can't be the new duke if there aren't any openings. It's too late for the Iron Throne here, but you might be able to save the city from his madness. Now, do whatever you came here for. I'm not waiting around."

    Cythandria was at the top as Tamoko had stated - and she was eager for a fight.
    Her Remove Magic spell dispelled the strength potions Entar and Belt were under, but they had more in reserve. Aside from that, she wasn't much trouble.

    From there, the party simply went down to the basement, out into the sewers, and from there to the Undercellar. The killers awaited in the central lounge area.
    "Well, well, well, dear. What have we here... blade fodder?"
    "I don't know, Slythe. They're so big and threatening... Oh, my mistake, I was thinking of someone else."
    "We're here to deal with you two incompetent idiots before you kill anyone else."
    "Hey now, my girl Krystin tells me that yous all have a soft spot for the Grand Dukes. Sure is a shame about Entar Silvershield, isn't it?"
    "One down and two to go. Poor Dukes... Wouldn't it have been better if they all died together?"
    "Ahem. The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
    "What? You came back from the dead? Ah, enough of this cat and mouse stuff, anyhow. I ain't cut out for it. We'll kill you again now and do the other dukes after lunch like Sarevok said us to."
    "Mmm, I love you for your mind, Slythe."
    The two fell swiftly enough, once Krystin's defenses were broken.
    "And here I thought you had to be smart to learn magic. Those two idiots actually thought they killed you?"
    "They probably did kill somebody - one of my servants, maybe? I'll have to check when I get home, and maybe pay for them being raised. Imoen, have you found anything?"
    "Ooh, this is a nice sword. And here, they had invitations to Sarevok's coronation later today."
    "That sounds like where we need to me. Let's go crash our party.

    Expecting a fight, Liia prepared a Spell Trigger. Even without the idiotic killers there, Sarevok would likely have other forces try to start something. A few more buffs, and the party entered the back of the hall where the coronation would take place.
    "Now that all of our guests have arrive, we can begin with the ceremony that you have all been awaiting."
    "The votes have been tallied from those submitted by the landowners. The result was nearly unanimous. Introducing the new Grand Duke, Sarevok Anchev."
    "I am honored to be here before such a respected assemblage of noblemen. I accept my new position with full awareness to my new responsibilities, and I will have many of them. I would first like to address many of the questions that had been asked earlier. The rumors about Amn's mobilization for war are entierly true, as is the involvement of their Zhentarim cohorts. But do not worry, we are not bereft of a defense. When my father was most recently murdered, I inherited his control over the western branch of the Iron Throne, and its stockpile of iron. I will give this to the city to do as you will. To ensure that the Flaming Fist is well led, I will be assuming control, with permission from its current steward Angelo."[/color
    "Wait one moment. That is not in your power to decide!"
    "Instead of waiting for the war to come to us, we will take it to them. With the Flaming Fist, we should be able to easily take the town of Nashkel and then quickly fortify the mountain pass through the Cloud Peaks. What?! Who dares to interrupt?!"
    At that moment, the assembled nobles revealed themselves to be doppelgangers and attacked. Two Chain Lighting spells, a Slow, and a Holy Smite... there wasn't much left of them.
    With their morale shattered and many of them dead, the doppelgangers only lasted about a round after that.
    "What? The audience was all doppelgangers? And now there are two sets of dukes, and a dead man standing there? Stay back! I'm not letting any more doppelgangers attack."
    "We're the real dukes, all three of us. Those two are simulacra I made - though they were not supposed to take such precipitous action as choosing a new duke, especially when there was no opening."
    "It was lucky that such brave people as yourselves intervened on our behalf. Is there anything that I can do for you in return?"
    "You? No. Captain Finn, here are some documents we found. Sarevok is the one who poisoned Eltan and ordered those doppelgangers to attack. Not only is there no position for him to claim, he is a criminal that should never have been considered. And with doppelgangers replacing so many nobles, the vote cannot be considered valid."
    "Let me see that."
    Another scuffle ensued, with Sarevok killing some guards before teleporting away. Thankfully, the captain of the palace guard survived.
    "I think you need to hunt down Sarevok now, and kill him before he does the same to you. I should be able to divine his location..."
    "All of you, stop! I need explanations now! No more doppelgangers!"
    "I have three words that should clarify things. Klaatu. Barada. Nikto."
    The simulacra froze in place, with Belt in the middle of gesturing for his spell.
    "Why is the simulacrum of me trying to cast a spell?"
    "I don't know. Something went wrong with these simulacra, and they diverged too far from us. That's why I shut them down. I need to study them, so this doesn't happen again."
    "I'll say! Those copies of us nearly started a war! I am not letting you do that to me again!"
    "What? What did you just do to them? Why are they frozen like that?"
    "Like I just told Belt, that was the command to shut them down. Those two were simulacrums I made, which have been filling in for us for the past month."
    "Doppelgangers and simulacra and no open seat to claim... was anything about this ceremony real? Yes, I recognize you as the true dukes now. Stand down, men. But wait, Duke Entar? How are you alive?"
    "I've been out of town, and I didn't have a simulacrum replacing me like Belt and Liia. The idiots Sarevok hired claimed they killed me, but it was probably just one of my servants. Now, captain, are you ready to receive new orders?"
    "Yes, Duke Entar. What should I do?"
    "First, Sarevok Anchev and Angelo Dosan are to be considered traitors. Remove Angelo from his position in the Fist by any means necessary, and consult with Duke Eltan on his replacement. You'll find the duke at the harbormaster's building. Second, organize a group to check on the nobles who were supposed to be here. Doppelgangers often kill those they intend to replace, and we need to know. For those victims you find, inform their families that we are willing to pay for them to be raised at the city's temples."
    "Yes, sir. I'll get my men on that immediately. What about Sarevok?"
    "He's beyond your men's ability. We'll deal with him ourself. On that note... Liia, Kelddath! Do you know where Sarevok went?"
    "Yes. He teleported to a large complex in the eastern portion of the town, just north of Sorcerous Sundries."
    "The Thieves' Guild. There are lots of exits, but I don't think he went there to run away. We have to be ready for anything."

    Arriving in the Thieves' Guild, the party found a scene of carnage. Clearly, Sarevok had slaughtered most of the thieves as he came through.
    "Hey, I found something in this barrel."
    "It's a manual of quickness. It's yours, to improve your dexterity."

    The few survivors were happy to point down, and so the party entered the maze below. The slimes fell easily before their might, then Kelddath drank an invisibility potion and switched to turning mode:

    "Hey - there's a mark on the wall here, and a trap on the floor."
    "Nice of the thieves to mark things like that. If you keep an eye out for those marks, we can move faster."

    Then another passage down, and a vast cavern opened up.
    "What is this place ... the ruins here..."
    "We call it the Undercity. It's a remnant of the settlement that was here before the current city of Baldur's Gate was built. A great earthquake buried part of the city here, and it fell into ruin."
    "There's something off in the distance ... it looks like an intact building."
    "Definitely more recent construction. We'll have to take a closer look."
    "I can feel the restless dead all around... let me clear them out."
    "All right. We'll stay here while you do that. Be sure to report back anything you see."
    Some time later, Kelddath returned, with his invisibility still intact.
    "There's a party waiting in the road ahead of us. They look hostile, so we should just avoid them. Then that Tamoko woman is in front of the intact building. From what I could see, it's a temple to Bhaal. Oh, and there are a few skeleton warriors out there I couldn't kill. You need to deal with them."
    "All right. Belt and I will handle those skeleton warriors. Let's meet back up just east of the temple."

    Before long, the party reunited and walked in front of the temple to confront Tamoko for the last time. She stood shakily in front of the doors, but firmed up her resolve and approached Kelddath.
    "Hello again, priest. I fear this time I have not come to speak, and must take up arms against you. You have... you have done what you must, I suppose. Sarevok knows of my treachery, you know. He has forsaken me, left me to die in your path. I must fight to regain his trust, his... attention. And so I stand before you, knowing that if I defeat you he shall continue his plans elsewhere and I shall lose him, and if you defeat me, you shall go on to kill him. He will not yield to either of us. I have... I have no choice."
    "You always have a choice. Walk away, and we shall have no cause to harm you. You need not be our enemy, and we will not attack you first."
    "You must! I stand before you, I block your path! I am an obstacle that holds you back! You will free... you will fight me!"
    "You sound as if you are trying to convince yourself of that. Do you see death as freedom now? If you have given up all hope to redeem Sarevok, what is there to gain by fighting here? Walk away, and find something new to live for. instead of throwing your life away for nothing."
    "You ... you're right. I have been a fool. Go! Your path is clear and I wish you well."
    "We shall honor our promise and offer surrender. Lathander's blessings be upon you, that you may find your way anew."
    Tamoko vanished into the distance, and the party stood at the temple's foreboding doors.
    "Well, here it is. Let's prepare for a fight and go in. This is what we've been saving the potions for, so don't be stingy."

    Once the preparations were complete, the party entered and approached Sarevok.
    "Sarevok! You need not die today! Surrender, and we shall spare your life!"
    "There shall be no surrender today. This is a temple of murder, and only death will end this! Father Bhaal is dead, but the slaughter I will orchestrate shall prove me to be his most worthy successor. It will raise his power from the ashes. The streets will run red with blood when my work is finished!"
    "Successor? You delude yourself. Deities are not known for sharing their power willingly!"
    With that, battle was joined. With our well-prepared high-level party, it's as easy as one (standing in an Incendiary Cloud is bad for Semaj's health)...
    two (the fighters strike Angelo hard)...
    three (a dispelling arrow breaks Diarmid's protections)...
    four (Tazok wasted most of the battle attacking an Aerial Servant he couldn't hit, then fell to Imoen's arrows)...
    five (with the field cleared, everyone engaged Sarevok. Belt struck the final blow).
    "And so the false duke falls. Now we can repair the damage to our city, if not all the hurts we have suffered."
    "Yes. I need to get back to administration. Ugh, now I'll have to read all that paperwork to find out exactly what my simulacrum mucked up."
    "I'll head back to Beregost now. Fortunately, I left my temple in the hands of trusted acolytes."
    "Now that the adventure is over, Imoen, do you wish to stay with me and be my apprentice? The path of the mage is long and arduous."
    "Yes. Yes, I wish to learn the ways of the mage from you. Here is as good a place as any to make my new home."
    With those final words, the party ascended to the surface and the afternoon sun. Peace had returned to Baldur's Gate.

    Behind the scenes:
    Yes, the bridge and gates are completely unguarded. There's no reason to ever hire the smuggler when you can literally just walk across the bridge and into the city unmolested.

    I went with another premonition marking a reload. That patrol east of Fist headquarters is really awkwardly placed, and catches parties leaving the castle far too often. No picture for it this time.

    Delthyr's conversation is one I took pictures of - that I didn't use. Too many things that don't fit. Tamoko got her first two conversations merged into one scene and rewritten somewhat. Telling Entar about how Entar was killed ... well, that needed to change.

    I reloaded for an apparent bug in the Krystin/Slythe fight. Despite her illusion having been dispelled by True Seeing already as seen in the picture, Breach couldn't target Krystin due to alleged invisibility. On the second try, I used a more reliable Remove Magic, and got all of her combat buffs out of the way in one spell.

    The palace scene... I've been looking forward to that practically since I started writing this. It also marks the only point in the whole story that I flat out invented a speaking character for; for the purposes of this story, the captain of the palace guards is named (something) Finn.

    Melee skeleton warriors eventually blow up against level 16 TU, but the archers have more levels and merely panic. The assorted lesser undead in the Undercity are all just toast. Incidentally, SCS gives an "immunity to Turn Undead" effect to skeleton warriors, which appears not to work.

    Some final stats:
    The run finished at day 29, hour 16. Not the absolute fastest possible, but it's a very reasonable time for the dukes to be away - if they didn't have a plot aimed directly at them.
    Imoen reached 126327 XP for level 9 at the end. She picked up the first five good Bhaalspawn abilities, but never had a chance at the final DUHM.
    Kill stats; percentages here ignore temporary guests in the party.
    Entar - 412 kills (34%), 224568 XP (42%). Strongest kill Argh (8000).
    Belt - 305 kills (25%), 164046 XP (30%). Strongest kill Ungh (6000).
    Liia - 156 kills (13%), 52801 XP (10%). Strongest kill Davaeorn (6000).
    Kelddath - 268 kills (22%), 74713 XP (14%). Strongest kill Greater Doppelganger (4000).
    Imoen - 65 kills (5%), 23863 XP (4%). Strongest kill Greater Doppelganger (4000).
    This one's a very traditional division of labor - the fighters do most of the killing, the cleric keeps the party healthy, the mage takes down the toughest fights, and the thief stays mostly out of the way.

    My document collecting the story is a 230K plain text document. It's comparable in size to any one of the pictures embedded in it.
    There are 96 speaking roles here as represented by my count of color codes. Accounting for the codes that represent multiple characters (such as the "Flaming Fist" role) and characters that get pictures but not text dialogue (such as simulacrum Liia) pushes the count over 100.
    There are 81 screenshot pictures embedded here; I took 85, but left a few out.

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,624
    Congratulations on finishing the run. :)

    I have a mechanical question - the one time I ever mounted a direct assault on Flaming Fist headquarters, I got the ten point reputation hit for every officer killed, and my party abandoned. So now I use Invisibility to get in and out to talk to Duke Eltan. What am I misremembering about that? Was it maybe a mod I had at the time? Or did you just take and ignore reputation hits since you were playing with a custom party? Thanks.

  • jmerryjmerry Member Posts: 1,805
    In chapter 7, the Flaming Fist headquarters is populated by Benjy and a bunch of Mercenaries who attack on sight. They're not true Flaming Fist, and they don't have that reputation hit when you kill them. Now, if you kill the guy on the second floor who doesn't attack you - that's a real Flaming Fist member you lose rep for.

    In character, the dukes are noticing the absence of the Flaming Fist uniform (UNIFLAM item in the cloak slot). In game, the fact that they don't have the FLAMING_FIST class is more relevant.

    This party never budged from 20 reputation after reaching it in the Cloakwood.

  • monicomonico Member Posts: 571
    edited July 2020
    congrats @jmerry , that was a very interesting read ! I liked that somewhat confused simulacrum twist (instead of Sarevok simply replacing the simulacrums with doppelgangers, there are already too many of them in the story haha).

    Obviously, I guess the run with high level characters was not a difficult one, but the RP was spot on and interesting, aided by great storytelling and layout with colors and screenshots

  • RedRodentRedRodent Member Posts: 78
    Great playthrough and well told. Had a fantastic time reading through this!

  • ElrandirElrandir Member Posts: 1,659
    Wonderful job. I fell severely behind and just read the last five updates in one go.

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