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"Maybe this time" [NO-RELOAD THREAD]: "The Tale of TEN THOUSAND Trials"



  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,615
    @semiticgod , Thank you, your last three posts were a very entertaining read.

    When I first saw that dragon, my first thought was "Let sleeping dragons lie," and I avoided it both in and out. The scene kind of gives a new, ironically literal meaning to the old proverb, which I found kind of amusing.

    I also remember thinking, "I bet a lot of people will fight that dragon, just because it's there, and has a loot container behind it."

    You know, for the challenge and bragging rights, and because they *need* to know what was in that container. Pretty gutsy in a minimal or no reload to attack it, though. I know you were hoping to sneak to the container and maybe still avoid it, but when I saw that setup, I thought it was a pretty obvious DM trap. You know, punish greedy players who want to thwart the DM's plans, and that sort of thing.

    Gratz on managing to defeat it. An impressive display of game skill, there.

    I was also in stunned disbelief at the enemies I still had to fight in the rest of that dungeon. I didn't have much trouble with the worm, probably because I was using a melee heavy party as opposed to your magic heavy party. We beat it down before it had a chance to use most of its abilities. I think its weakness is that it has bad AC. Either that, or Minsc just had really good thac0. He was an awesome and magnificent beast for my party through most of the game.

    I got through the mind flayer battle with no reloads, but it was really close. That teleport field was making me grit my teeth and tear my hair out - I couldn't get to any targets while they were all beating my party to death. We made it through with sheer determination and a lot of healing potions, and then, just as we killed the mage, who wound up being the last one standing (tried and couldn't get to him until the others were gone), he got off a successful chaos that affected nearly everyone left in the party, and my biggest worry became that our badly wounded party members were going to kill each other, after all that. Truly an epic battle waiting there in every run, to be dreaded every time or looked forward to every time, depending on your disposition. :)

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,807
    @BelgarathMTH: Glad to hear it! The technical details can get very dense, so I try to make them fun to read.

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,807
    edited July 2016
    No-Reload Siege of Dragonspear: Poppy the Cleric/Illusionist

    It's, Like, Irony or Something

    Finally, we are heading to the enemy camp to take on the crusaders. Before we leave, Jaheira tells us a bit about Hephernaan.

    I thought he would play an important role somewhere along the line. I think we're going to have to deal with him later.
    The crusaders are non-hostile when I check them out, so I strike up a friendly conversation. Poppy is a smoother talker than I am; she has an explanation when a dwarf pokes a hole in her story.

    I avoid a spellcaster who used Poppy's name, fearing she would recognize us, but otherwise I talk with everybody in the camp. We rescue Dorn, though I don't think he'll be joining the party later.

    I finally find the teleportation circle thingy that we've been looking for. It's just kind of sitting out in the open.

    As usual, plot-related dialogs start up even if the whole party is invisible.

    Apparently the folks down here are fending off an attack from the crusaders just outside. For some reason I thought the teleportation circle thing was about sneaking into the crusader camp, not aiding our besieged friends. Anyway, we find a smith by chance, who offers to make something out of the dragon scales. Since few in our party can wear much armor, I opt for a shield. Looks like that was a good decision.

    Later, she forges some new armor for M'Khiin.

    We poke around the area looking for questgivers. Our meddling slays three people in an instant. Oops.

    We also just got level drained. Edwin warns us it'll keep happening, but the solution is just a short fetch quest. On the way, we find Dorn's old equipment!

    How do we take anything without turning the nearby crusaders hostile? Sanctuary, unlike standard invisibility, doesn't get canceled when opening chests.

    We have to fight an enemy at the end. It seems kind of contrived and unnecessary to throw a wraith at us, but Rasaad excels at killing undead quickly.

    Somewhere along the way--my memory of these events is pretty poor, as I've only seen them once--we find a journal that puts Caelar in a pretty positive light.

    That doesn't sound like a reckless megalomaniacal killing machine.

    Neera is down here as well. I like how SOD makes NPC placement part of the plotline; they're not just hanging around waiting for you to rope them into your crazy schemes, like they usually did in BG1 and BG2. She wants a potion to cure her hallucinations. The ingredients are pretty wacky.

    I've been wondering why I was carrying around that spider leg.

    I can't think of anything else to do, but I can't find Khalid anywhere; I'm supposed to talk to him before invading. I end up summoning him with the console (the .cre file is KHALID7). I let the Flaming Fist run ahead while I buff the party.

    With a bunch of Flaming Fist soldiers in the way, I have to use party-friendly spells. Luckily, we have some really good ones.

    Then I see the enemy spellcasters arrive. They're buffed with MGOI, and I don't have Spell Thrust memorized. They're more or less impervious to harm, so I concentrate on the other enemies instead.

    Oddly enough, the Flaming Fist is not shy at all about using party-unfriendly spells.

    I do have one means of taking down those mages. Hormorn's MGOI won't stop the Wand of Paralyzation, which strikes as a level 4 spell. I spend a charge and hope for the best.

    It seems that Hormorn's saves are just spectacular. Even the Wand of Paralyzation won't be reliable here.

    Viconia has better luck with the Wand of the Heavens, which goes right through the other mage's defenses.

    The battlefield is a mess. Both the Crusaders and the Flaming Fist are scattered around, wounded, and hobbled by disablers. In situations like this, it's harder to tell which foes to target. An enemy cleric I failed to notice heals the Crusaders with Mass Cure, only to see the Flaming Fist blast them once more with a Fireball.

    I actually thought that Mass Cure came from one of the mages, thinking they were cleric/mages.

    As the Flaming Fist begin to fall, the enemy gets closer to our party, until they're right on top of us. We don't have the tanking ability to handle the pressure.

    We shoo Viconia away to drink her potions in safety. We try to take down Kharm before he can chop us up, but he's got potions and lots of HP to chew through.

    I send out Poppy to cast Sunfire (!) using a special shield we got much earlier, but before she has a chance, she gets Breached. Only her Mirror Image remains--until another mage (a third one has appeared) casts a divination spell. Poppy runs away.

    Sunfire will have to wait until either Viconia or Poppy is sturdy enough to wade out into the fray (no one else in the party can use shields).

    We still need to deal with Kharm, the halberdier that nearly killed Viconia a moment ago. M'Khiin finds a way to tear through his massive HP. Call Lightning is slow and single-target, but few can survive the damage for long.

    Now that the Flaming Fist has thinned out, it's safe to use party-unfriendly spells. Edwin uses Fireball; Poppy uses Web and Slow; and M'Khiin uses Writhing Fog. Edwin gets targeted in the process (he got too close), but his defenses will hold if he renews Mirror Image.

    We've broken the enemy's melee force, but we haven't even touched the enemy mages, all of whom still have MGOI active.

    Missile weapons fail to make an impact. Ultimately, we can only harm the enemy mages after their MGOI spells wear off, as Spirit Fire would hurt our allies.

    All three mages go down. But the fight is not over.

    It seems a few enemies remain, and they're going to blow up the bridge if we don't stop them. That means fighting another mage... who also has MGOI active.

    Rasaad can break through MGOI with Sun Soulray, but apparently Mirror Image can block it.

    We don't have many means of breaking through MGOI. But with our allies out of the way, we're free to use Spirit Fire. Poppy, with no such options, instead disables the enemy fighters.

    We're unable to stop the mage from casting her spell. But it doesn't set off the Kegs of Blasting behind her.

    A Fire Elemental. That must how they plan to set off the barrels. We have three rounds before the mage recovers, so maybe we can slay the elemental in time.

    I move Edwin into position--which takes away precious seconds--and use Cone of Cold on the mage and her elemental. Mirror Image protects the mage, unfortunately, and the elemental makes its save.

    We switch to the Wand of Frost. Poppy also tries to disable the elemental with Spook, but it seems to be immune.

    Viconia chips in, but she can't stand up to a monster like a Fire Elemental (this is the level 6 version, not the level 5 spell Conjure Lesser Fire Elemental). Poppy gives the Wand of Paralyzation another shot, but it fails.

    Unable to confront the Fire Elemental directly, we keep using the Wand of Frost on it. The mage goes active again, but fails her second save against the Wand of Paralyzation.

    The mage is doomed. We finish off the Fire Elemental with a Magic Missile and pulverize the stunned mage.

    It is over. We finally saved the Shaengarne Bridge.

    Our reward is a rather cool cutscene featuring Cyric murdering Bhaal.


  • sluckerssluckers Member Posts: 280
    edited July 2016

    Io the Avenger

    She's dead.

    For @%$&'s sake... the last 3 no-reloads, I got killed by a random overpowered ambush of 8 archers directly out of candlekeep (insta-kill), my PC getting stuck on a wall due to the rubbing-circle pathfinding issue (and getting caught up by a ghast. I guess dungeon walls get sticky. All she was trying to do was round a corner...), and now this.


    The bandit tent is my most hated trap in the first game if you don't have a thief in your party. It bounces around like a jerk, with little rhyme or reason for the angles at which is does so. It's only mediating factor is that it is, usually, predictable. If you stand by the door or get caught by it, it's game over. It can easily wipe out the whole party. But the bottom of the tent is safe.

    Normally, it behaves like this...

    Instead, this time, it decides to go right through the stove and hit Io directly, as if perfectly aimed. If she had been anywhere else in the party formation she would have lived. Everyone else is untouched. The only person harmed is the one person that cannot die.

    Come on Baldur's Gate... that was intentional.

    Well actually, it kind of makes sense, but it's just a build up of completely separate things and bad luck that it defies understanding, or foresight. Because Garrick was moved to the left instead of the right, it adjusted the path of the bolt ever so slightly. What are the chances that the one person on the end of the formation like that would be the PC? If I had used a different formation she'd be alive. If I'd used her to open the box she would be alive. If I'd been fast enough on the pause button she'd be alive (I had a contingency potion of absorption in her pack).

    Instead, as soon as the bolt went flying I saw what was happening, and where it was going to go, and I was dumbstruck. I just watched it play out...


    Someday, BG, I will crush you.

  • lroumenlroumen Member Posts: 2,288
    Auch. In noreload I never take that kind of thing for granted. I am scared of traps so my party crawls through dungeons and now especially crawls through SoD. The tent trap... I would always use the potion or spell were I not to have any thieves...

    So... new run?

  • lroumenlroumen Member Posts: 2,288
    Hey. I did not get that bridge cut scene x$...

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,807
    edited July 2016
    No-Reload Siege of Dragonspear: Poppy the Cleric/Illusionist


    The attack on the Crusaders ended with a lot of casualties for the Flaming Fist and our other allies. Tharantis died in the fight, and he left somebody behind.

    We have a few things to get done. Edwin gives the party a cool new robe that we'll probably never use.

    It's nice, but we stole a Robe of the Evil Archmagi from Baeloth, and that's more useful than this one. Mostly because no-reload runs reward defensive-oriented items and spells.
    We have a suit of full plate mail that I'm not sure I want to sell (what if we need to bring a fighter into the party?), but we don't have the Strength to carry it. I bring Dorn into the group just so we can leave it with him until we need it later.

    We finally head out to the Coalition Camp. The endgame has begun, and the Siege of Dragonspear Castle is almost underway.

    On the way, we get another cutscene and another clue that Caelar Argent isn't as evil as people keep saying she is.

    The Coalition Camp offers some cool new items from the local merchants. This one would be great if Safana had any pips in clubs.

    It's a cute nod to people's complaint that backstabbing with blunt weapons was implausible. There's also another cool item that we simply can't afford.

    This would combine marvelously with Web. If a thief fails its save against Web when wearing this armor, they're automatically rendered invisible and can try a backstab the next round. Even if they fail multiple saves, it will restore their invisibility, thwarting divination magic as well.

    SOD has so many useful items that grant additional bonuses for special classes and kits.

    They're not game-breaking, but they seem like good fun. However, most of our money goes to wands, which will give us tremendous offensive power even when our spells run out.

    We chat with the locals. Yup, we're definitely going to end up fighting Hephernaan.

    There are a bunch of little quests at the camp, most of which get us a magical item of some sort.

    Looks like we're going to get a shot at sabotaging the enemy, too! We can kill them with fire or poison. Or both.

    The siege won't be all hack and slash, it sees.

    On the way to the next side quest area, we run into some enemies. We're in a bad position from the start--this is a dead magic zone.

    Everyone in the party but Rasaad is a spellcaster. This is going to be tough, particularly since we arrived without buffs. We're facing an enemy party with thieves, fighters, and archers.

    Wands work just fine, and they make a big impact early on.

    Unfortunately, the enemy doesn't rely on magic at all, and Poppy has no real defense against their attacks.

    I don't know if she can survive the next 6 seconds. I have to get her to safety, and the only way to do that is with a Potion of Invisibility. We don't have many, but Poppy could easily die without one.

    The enemy's missile attacks are crippling, dealing high damage as well as poison.

    Safana's aura isn't clear, so she can't drink an Elixir of Health right away. Meanwhile, Edwin gets backstabbed and suffers the same bleeding effect that the thief inflicted on Poppy.

    M'Khiin's spirit animals and Rasaad are holding steady, but our back line is falling apart. Ultimately, Safana simply can't handle the pressure.

    I have no idea how the enemy did 20 damage without landing a critical hit. This has to be a level 9 Archer with grandmastery in bows or crossbows, using magical bolts and a magical bow or crossbow, and it has to be rolling maximum damage each time. No other class could do that much damage.

    Poppy is visible again, and I'm not sure how. One of the enemy archers goes after her. Death is near.

    Poppy downs another Potion of Invisibility... but somehow gets hit again, and turns visible again!

    My only explanation is that an Arrow of Dispelling was coming her way just before she drank the potion.

    Regardless of the cause, Poppy simply has no realistic chance to survive another round. She has 17 HP left and her aura is clouded; it would not be hard at all to finish her off, especially considering the second archer might change targets AND that backstabbing thief is still present, waiting to pounce.

    This is unacceptable. The only way we could have survived this encounter would be if we used a Wand of Monster Summoning at the beginning to mob the archers and then used Detect Illusions to reveal the thief while Poppy and Edwin ran around, stopping only to use the Wand of Frost and Wand of Paralyzation before moving on to avoid further backstabs.

    But I've never played this fight before, so I had no way of knowing any of this could have happened.

    Since this is an ambush area, we will never get another chance to come here and get whatever loot and XP this place had to offer. But the chance of death is probably around 90%, even if I made the right moves.

    We have no choice. We have to flee the area.

    This was a deeply disappointing fight, but sticking around would have been foolish. No matter what the rewards could have been, we cannot tolerate Poppy being in such a terrible position.

  • OtherguyOtherguy Member Posts: 157
    edited July 2016
    Cain didn't get to kill Mencar and co, neither did he get to Trademeet to load up on free gear, no sweet Nalia reminded him that her keep was in danger now, not in a few days when it suited us better. So even if our spellbooks are prepared with Trademeet in mind (hello prot from petrification) we wind up at De'Arnise keep anyway.

    I did stop by Waukeens to buy a few much needed scrolls, my wand of cloudkill and the fortress shield first though.

    Spirit trolls are REALLY annoying, but wand of cloudkill can save you a lot of time, oddly enough other less annoying trolls don't seem to fall to the cloud as easily. Nalia told me that the evil guard was charmed, but he saved vs our attempts at charming him so he had to die, giving me my very own full plate!

    You know what else is annoying? Serpents that cast spells...

    Finally we're at Torgal and my heroic FMT got the honor of tanking and was pretty much the only damage dealer of the party, buffs were bless, chant, prot from evil 10' radius, blur, MI, DUHM, chaotic commands, potion of mind focusing, impr invis and a haste potion. All out of stoneskins sadly enough and didn't memorize any prot from fear spells (was going to head to Trademeet first after all).

    This put Cain at a pretty impressive -17 or so AC with fortress shield equipped, add -2 from prot evil, -4 impr invis and -3 extra piercing from full plate and you're one tough cookie.

    THAC0 is not very impressive, but FMTs don't really lag behind this early so still decent enough.

    The fight itself was a pretty ugly affair, I used 3 cloudkills (2 from the wand and 1 from Nalia) hitting myself with 2. Standing firm in the doorway eating 2 ticks every round, I figured I was smart to use a protection from poison scroll but that turned out pretty pointless as I didn't resist any damage at all. I also used 2 charges of wand of frost and wand of the heavens. Managed to slow Torgal very early with FoA, also hit him with doom, and slowed pretty much all his friends the normal way with Nalia and Aerie. Everybody targeted Torgal for the entire fight but he was still almost the last enemy to fall. He really is quite something that troll. Standing at near death for what felt like an eternity. Funny thing that nothing was held from 3 castings of hold monster (Aerie plus 2 Nymphs).

    Kind of entertaining to listen to Nalia during this quest, reminds you that this is not a very new game..

    Nalia asked Cain with her small puppy voice if he couldn't help her with the keep and he couldn't really turn her down after the recent death of her father and all.

    After this we went to Trademeet (finally) and will use up the last of our spells before resting for the second time.

    Also I figured out a way to be less upset by the early and very very rewarding quests of Neera, Rasaad and Hexxat. Just don't do them. Nobody is forcing me to. If the liches start kicking me all over the place I might have to pick up the wand of spell striking from the red wizard enclave though..

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,615
    @semiticgod , sorry about that last battle going so badly. At least you got out before you lost your no-reload status. In the future, you'll have the metaknowledge to prepare. If you actually make it through a first run successfully as a no-reload, that will be quite an accomplishment. And if you don't, I hope you won't feel too bad.

    You're using SCS, right? That could be making some of these encounters behave differently than intended. Maybe it's affecting certain scripts in unpredictable ways to cause some of the odd damage spikes. Also, could some of those archers have been using Arrows of Piercing? And one of the thieves using Detect Illusions?

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,807
    @BelgarathMTH: I have SCS installed, but it shouldn't have too big of an impact on gameplay, since the SCS install predates SOD, and presumably no SOD critters will have SCS scripts.

    That said, I've seen substantial evidence that SOD enemies use SCS-grade tactics, and I understand that the devs incorporated SCS tactics in SOD. SOD effectively comes with SCS already installed!

    I'm pretty sure a hostile Detect Illusions ability wasn't responsible, since the thief seemed busy backstabbing us. I think it was an Arrow of Dispelling already in flight that revealed Poppy.

    Arrows of Piercing couldn't have been the cause for the high arrow damage, either. The extra +6 damage is counted separately, so it wouldn't appear in the same line as the base damage. I'm thinking the damage actually came from a heavy crossbow.

    I've been hoping I could finish SOD without any reloads, but I've tried not to think about it too much, lest I make it harder for myself.

    After all, I only get one chance to do a no-reload on my first run.

  • lroumenlroumen Member Posts: 2,288
    I will post progress through that pretty soon. I did manage to get them through scorched earth tactic. Doesn't the
    anti magic zone
    dispel invisibility every round?

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,807
    edited July 2016
    No-Reload Siege of Dragonspear: Poppy the Cleric/Illusionist

    Cool Items and Creepy Crawlies

    After escaping the dead magic zone, we move on to the next area. For some reason, Dread Wolves need to be killed with elemental damage. They fall unconscious and become immune to all non-elemental damage, just like Trolls.

    We fetch some bark or sap or something from a tree on M'Khiin's advice, and when we go back to camp to raise Viconia, who was slain by a Shambling Mound, we take the tree stuff to some sick folks. We get our first reputation boost in a long time, and a truly spectacular weapon.

    We won't have much opportunity to try it out, since nobody in the party can use it without STR-boosting spells (and even then, Viconia and Poppy only have 1 APR), but it seems like it has great potential. Combine it with single-weapon style for the critical hit bonus and you could deal tremendous damage to boss-type enemies.

    If any of these weapons can be found again in BG2:EE, they would be very exploitable in TOB due to Critical Strike.

    We return to the forest to look for more goodies. A new enemy appears, and I feel more than ever before that Invisibility 10' Radius is one of the best spells in the game.

    The danger is marked on the map...

    ...but if you didn't look at the map, like we didn't, you receive no indication this would happen. Without Invisibility 10' Radius, we might have seen Poppy get petrified. We retreat, buff with basically everything we have, and destroy the basilisk.

    We get ambushed immediately after, but the first round shows that the new enemies aren't going to get an advantage on us.

    One of the things I like to do with Invisibility 10' Radius is to summon monsters and turn invisible before resting, so that we can get some more XP from nighttime ambushes without losing our invisibility. Nymphs are a standard here, mostly because they're the only summoning spell M'Khiin has besides Ghostly Defender (which I keep forgetting to use).

    This map is actually pretty empty. All that's left besides foraging for medicine is to go snooping around the basement of a broken down house.

    Looks like the owner is home.

    This is worrisome. I have no defense against level drain, really, and the Wraiths I've had to deal with before are much weaker than a Fledgling Vampire.

    I opt for a simple strategy: shield Rasaad with Greater Sun and Batalista's Passport, send him in as a decoy, and blast everyone from afar. But the vampire sees it coming, and when Edwin fails a save, he loses his Fireball.

    I specifically had Edwin buff with Improved Invisibility to prevent this one spell. What's especially bothersome is that Safana, trying to use her kiss ability, demonstrates the rule that the vampire just broke!

    Edwin wasn't the backbone of our strategy, at least. M'Khiin floods the opposing room with a party-unfriendly Spirit Fire spell, while Rasaad nails the vampire with the instant-casting, spell protection-ignoring, MR-bypassing, anti-undead fire damage spell, Sun Soulray.

    Unfortunately, the single hit that the vampire landed on Rasaad took away just enough HP for Spirit Fire to do him in.
    The vampire goes down within seconds of Rasaad's demise; M'Khiin's Spirit Fire hits too hard. It can't finish off the Dread Wolves, but Edwin recovers and helps out.

    Moving right along, we stumble into another ambush area. The local goblins hassle M'Khiin for fraternizing with pink-faced townies like us. M'Khiin summons a few spirits and demonstrates one of her signature lines.

    "Push me around, you might get pushed back."

    Goblin Grandma kicks ass.

    The goblins don't relent. It takes a savage beating to get them off M'Khiin's back. Safana shows off the backstabbing ability I often overlook.

    There's just something about M'Khiin that seems very real. She really seems like who she is: an experienced, jaded adventurer with a practical mind, a blunt attitude, and a keen understanding of the world she lives in.

    Tough but mellow, mystical but down-to-earth. Curt but not sour, cynical but not negative.

    At the Underground River area, we try to outwit a dimwitted Cyclops, and embarrass ourselves in the process.

    Sure made us look stupid.

    After an abrupt Myconid side quest that we perhaps did not complete, we grab a curious new item.

    I'm not sure if the resulting summons would be friendly to us or not, so I just hold onto them. We just might need some extra summoning power for the siege.

    I can't figure out how to get past that Cyclops, so I just zap it a few times.

    Two enemy mages takes us by surprise and manage to knock out Poppy, but Edwin rescues her with Improved Invisibility while the rest of the party turns the mages to paste. Our saves hold off further disablers.

    We rush into the next area, right into the sights of a gang of archers. Viconia and Rasaad hold up just long enough for us to blind them with Glitterdust and fry them with Fireball and Spirit Fire.

    The fight goes on for a few more rounds, but those area-effect spells broke the enemy's strength.

    We enter the Crusaders' secret river cave hideout thingy in search of stuff to sabotage. On the way, we get a cool new type of wand.

    With only 5 charges in the thing, and not knowing if recharging it would get us anymore, this will probably sit in our inventory unused until an emergency comes along.

  • lroumenlroumen Member Posts: 2,288
    You surpassed me so I have to stop reading your adventure now. Good luck! Hope we make it to the end.

  • OtherguyOtherguy Member Posts: 157
    edited July 2016
    Short update on Cain. Trademeet is usually my safe haven for gold and loot without any risk. Not this time. First Aerie died to teleporting sword spiders, which I admittedly tried to handle when very low on spells/health. Then Jaheira died to those 3 druids guarding Faldorn because I really didn't take them too seriously since they've never caused me any problems before. They cast insect plague, summoned bears and fire elementals and quaffed quite a few potions, plus I was less geared than I usually am at this point. It is a long trek back to that temple to raise Jaheira only to go all the way back before challenging Faldorn though, won't underestimate those druids again. Faldorn managed to cast creeping doom, man that spell really hurts. Luckily Jaheira was prebuffed with resist fear so she could melee Faldorn to death, end the duel and thus down a potion of extra healing to avoid yet another trip to the temple.

    Genies folded nicely though, the basilisks of BG2, prot from petrification and you're golden.

    Now at 34k gold and 20 rep, time for a bit of shopping and then to save Mazzy since for the first time I plan to recruit her early and have her tag along all the way to Melissan (hopefully).

    I no-reloaded BP2 on my first run on core just a couple of weeks ago without any issues whatsoever a lot thanks to a dwarven berserker and a dwarven F/C. Learned to love those saves! I never used any triggers, sequencers, PI or wishes so my melee actually had to tank a lot.

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,807
    edited July 2016
    No-Reload Siege of Dragonspear: Poppy the Cleric/Illusionist

    Confronting Hephernaan

    With Rasaad chunked, we need a new party member. We especially need a fighter, as we have none left.

    But with both Minsc and Rasaad gone forever, there are only two fighter types remaining at the camp: Dorn and Corwin. I don't especially like Dorn, so I bring Corwin into the party.

    Her stats aren't too special, but they're close to getting bonuses, so after some very careful reorganizing of our inventory, I get her DEX and CON boosted without weakening Safana or M'Khiin too much (they also have suboptimal stats). She specializes in longbows, with one pip in halberds, and comes with a rather nice set of armor (10% magic resistance) and a magical longbow.

    Her THAC0, APR, and damage output are quite respectable despite being only level 8. She can't tank very well due to being an Archer, but she will be able to cut down enemies much faster than Rasaad could.

    We return to the river cave with Corwin in tow. I don't see an opportunity to poison any supplies, as there is no message when I add the poison to the crates with sacks of grain in them. Instead, we do some grunt work for the nearby supervisor, hauling around the sacks for him. Turns out this accomplished nothing.

    We do get some XP out of the chore, though.

    After reuniting the drow couple with their brethren and sending the ghosts off to the Fugue plane, there's not much left before the next area. We got some cool items in the process, along with a fair amount of XP, though Corwin is a ways away from level 9 and therefore grandmastery with longbows.

    That halberd will be very nice for Corwin should ranged attacks be impossible. The cloak has the curious ability to replicate the effects of a Potion of Stone Form, which could prove very useful as a pre-buff, but the main thing that catches my eye is the immunity to critical hits.

    That could have saved Rasaad's life if we had found it sooner. Instead, it will go on Safana, since M'Khiin and Edwin, despite having no helmets, have Ironskins and Stoneskins to protect them.

    We move on to the last area, but the next few dialogs and/or journal entries give me the impression that time is short. We need to move on to the end of the level and accomplish whatever it is we're supposed to accomplish... before whatever timer we're on might expire.

    We trick a couple of ogres into sending us up an elevator. When Safana tries to hit the next pack of enemies with blind traps, I realize that moving a DEX point from Safana to Corwin during our post-Rasaad reorganization reduced her Set Traps skill below 100.

    Safana fails to hide, so I send her away. The enemy archers apply heavy pressure on Viconia, so I pull her back and send out Poppy, who has Mirror Image and Stoneskins to protect her. Edwin minimizes the threat with Emotion.

    Even with most of the enemies knocked out, Viconia still has a backstabber on her tail. While Safana destroys the enemies out front, Viconia runs from the thief and M'Khiin uses Detect Illusions to keep Viconia safe while she casts Sanctuary.

    Viconia heals herself and the last enemy fails his save. We're in the clear.

    We sneak past a few enemies and stumble upon Hephernaan, scheming with some unknown voice.

    When Hephernaan sees us, the next fight begins. Hephernaan activates his pre-buffs, two spellcasters at his side.

    We send in our Skeleton Warriors to absorb spells, while Safana picks a spot to lay a new trap and Edwin begins casting Cone of Cold into the next room, knowing that our skeletons won't get hurt by the blast.

    Things get complicated very quickly. Heifer hurls a Fireball right at us, and two Stone Golems flank us, ready to disable us with Golem Slow.

    Edwin's Cone of Cold makes contact, but he exposes himself to Breach in the process. Meanwhile, the Stone Golems close in on M'Khiin. Corwin, having failed to harm them with +1 arrows, switches to +2 arrows, hoping to take them down before they can slow the whole party.

    Safana finds just the right spot to attack. She lays a trap in the doorway and hits all of the enemies at once. The missile damage hits the golems right away, but the poison damage won't affect them.

    The enemy mages, however, will absorb the missile damage but suffer the poison damage in the following rounds.

    Badly wounded, Safana retreats to safety, while M'Khiin fails to harm the golems. She has failed a save vs. Golem Slow, but the rest of the party has remained unaffected.

    Golem Slow strikes again, and Corwin fails her save. But we don't need her to finish off the golems; Safana's traps wipe them out. The golems weren't immune to the poison damage like I had expected.

    Unfortunately, Hugh Hephernaan had Physical Mirror active, and bounced Safana's traps back onto her. She suffers both the physical damage and the poison damage.

    Our Skeleton Warriors have held strong, keeping us safe from the mages, but I'm concerned about the next strike. Poppy is casting Invisibility 10' Radius to give Safana some time to heal herself; Edwin takes the opportunity to haul out some new summons before he turns invisible.

    I don't remember where that Mass Cure spell came from. Normally I use Nymphs for that, but I think this time Viconia cast it.

    One of Heifer's allies has fallen. The other holds out, still suffering the same poison damage afflicting Safana.

    Safana goes in to set her last trap. She fails a save against confusion in the process, but it's not a problem anymore. Without any traps left, we don't need her much anyway.

    Hephernaan reflects the trap once again. Safana will surely die before we can save her. Instead, we buff ourselves and send in M'Khiin to remove the enemy's Mirror Image buffs.

    Safana finally dies, but we've secured the advantage. Heifer is now vulnerable to Poppy's Breach, and after suffering so much pressure from our skeletons, Heifer's second mage has run out of Stoneskins.

    Now Hephernaan is alone. He lashes out with a potentially fatal spell, but with most of the party hanging out in the adjacent room, he fails to disable any of us.

    Just as we break down Hephernaan's defenses, he flees to gather reinforcements.

    Party members warn me to get out of there, fast. Heifer will be back soon. But I figure we have a few moments of freedom. M'Khiin brings back Safana so we can search for traps before looting Heifer's chambers. Offscreen, new enemies gather their strength. The reward is worth delaying our escape.

    I don't see much use for the robe, but the crown will be marvelous.

    It's time to go. Edwin has brought out some new summons to distract the enemies. Just as they invade the room, Poppy hides the whole party.

    We should be safe from here on out. There's still one container we haven't looted yet: the little hole in the floor of the hallway outside. Viconia casts Sanctuary so she can snatch it without turning visible.

    Then we get blocked on the way out.

    We need to move that guy to reach the elevator and escape. But breaking invisibility could be fatal. Edwin turns visible by throwing a Minute Meteor, drawing the enemy his way. But before they can take him down, he turns invisible.

    The way is clear. We go down the elevator and run back to the camp. I check out of the armor we snatched from the hole in the floor. It's quite nice.

    Viconia will need high STR to equip it, but it's light enough that she can still move around without STR buffs.

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,807
    edited July 2016
    No-Reload Siege of Dragonspear: Poppy the Cleric/Illusionist

    A Preemptive Strike

    We escape the tunnels beneath Dragonspear, planting a bomb but failing to poison the enemy's supplies or slay Hephernaan.

    On the way home, Caelar intercepts us. She wants me to come peacefully. If I surrender myself, there will be no more war. I try to agree to her terms--in spite of everything, her character and honor seem sound--but my comrades forbid me from going with Caelar. Peace is unacceptable for my friends.

    The last area before the camp isn't very eventful. The only danger comes from a high-pressure situation with a Killer Mimic, a Neo-Otyugh, and some jellies. Most of the party got paralyzed by the mimic's glue, but Viconia rescued us. We collect a variety of strong but balanced items on the way.

    I'm not sure what that last one is good for, though.

    We finally return to camp. I gathered several quest items, but it seems I took too long to complete the quests. We're too late.

    Shortly after we arrive, we receive word that Caelar's forces are marching on the camp, trying to stop the siege using a preemptive strike. The coalition forces gather in the south and await for the Crusaders to arrive.

    The first invasion comes from a pack of Trolls and other melee foes. We ask for help from the coalition archers.

    Viconia tanks the enemies while our spellcasters Slow and bomb the opposition. Fireball ends the fight in short order.

    The next wave is a cabal of wizards. We call the coalition Wizard Slayers to tackle them.

    Honestly, the other two choices seem like terrible ideas. Bringing mages could be dicey--do they have the AI to debuff the enemy mages, or are they just going to throw Minute Meteors and try to hit somebody with Confusion--and it's difficult to imagine how backstabbing thieves could help us when SOD mages use Stoneskin and Mirror Image as pre-buffs.

    The mages approach, and quickly establish a strong hold. They have excellent buffs already active, and our Wizard Slayer friends don't have the MR or saves to block the enemy's disablers.

    Viconia uses Dispel Magic. She's probably a lower level than the enemy mages, but not so much that Dispel Magic has no hope of making an impact. It seems to have some partial success in debuffing the enemy and dispelling confusion on our Wizard Slayer buddies.

    The wizards respond with their own Dispel Magic, and Viconia fails a save against Horror despite her MR.

    The enemy follows up with more disablers, but a Minute Meteor from Edwin suggests that Viconia's Dispel Magic removed at least one Stoneskin. The enemy is getting weaker as well.

    The enemy presses forward and debuffs us even further with a second Dispel Magic.

    But their own defenses are rapidly crumpling, and soon the battle is won. We good an excellent robe for our trouble, but it's useless given that Poppy is Chaotic Neutral.

    It's a reminder that our enemies are not evil people. Quite sad.

    The next batch of enemies drives home the point: now we have to fight a band of paladins. The coalition mages join us, but we hardly need them when we have a fully charged Wand of Fire. The battle is quick and decisive.

    We might have lost some pretty valuable loot due to that last Wand of Frost charge. I avoid using our own Wand of Frost on well-equipped enemies close to death, but the coalition mages do not make such distinctions.

    One final assault is on the way. Corwin charges out alone and disrupts a priest spell. Her reward is an arrow to the face from the opposing archer, Kegleg. Poppy seizes control of Kegleg before he can cause any more trouble.

    Corwin stays on the run, but there are too many enemies for her to handle on her own. The enemy fighters destroy her.

    Notice Viconia taking down the enemy mage with a Wand of Fire. It's a reliable way to slay SOD mages if you can remove their Mirror Images first.

    Also notice that M'Khiin and Edwin are both paralyzed. We're already at a severe disadvantage.

    It's not all bad news. Safana failed her save against Poppy's Blindness spell, and uses blind traps to mess with the remaining enemy spellcasters.

    Blindness comes at a high price, however. It imposes a +4 penalty on Safana's already poor AC, making her even easier to hit. And since she invested so many skill points in traps, she is terrible at stealth, making Hide With No Sight useless in a daytime environment.

    Viconia has already spent her Remove Paralysis spell, and Poppy is suffering from spell failure, so M'Khiin and Edwin remain paralyzed. Poppy strikes from a safe distance using one of our spare, undercharged Wands of Fire, since Edwin has our fully charged one. She picks the sickliest enemy soldier and torches him.

    Still blind and vulnerable, Safana can't stop the arrows coming her way. Her HP gives out, and we lose our second character.

    Kegleg has expired as well. We've lost two characters while the enemy has lost three, but we also have two characters disabled, while the rest of the enemy is perfectly functional.

    And without Corwin to apply pressure on the enemy spellcasters, we can't stop Call Lightning from striking Viconia, right through her massive MR. Her aura isn't clear, but she manages to drink a Potion of Invisibility to escape. Poppy does the same, having drawn unwanted attention from the enemy archer just after Insect Plague removed her Stoneskins.

    Safana may be dead, but the lingering damage from her traps are still active. The enemy cleric can't heal himself even when protected by Sanctuary. The coalition forces are also applying heavy pressure. Two enemies fall in sequence as Viconia and Poppy, who has just recovered from spell failure, heal themselves.

    More good news is on the way. M'Khiin and Edwin break free of Hold Person. The last surviving enemy doesn't have a chance.

    Nothing else is left for us to do. M'Khiin resurrects Corwin and Safana, Poppy turns the party invisible, and we rest.

    We finally march to Dragonspear Castle. Caelar Argent awaits.

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,807
    edited July 2016
    No-Reload Siege of Dragonspear: Poppy the Cleric/Illusionist

    A Duel with Ashatiel the Avariel

    We reach Castle Dragonspear. Though we failed to poison the enemy's supplies, we can bomb open the front gate with the explosives we laid earlier.

    We march forward and a horde of Crusaders descends upon us. We hold back so the coalition forces absorb the attacks that our party cannot.

    Corwin and M'Khiin thin the enemy ranks with arrows and Call Lightning, while the rest of us sap the enemy's strength with disablers. Area-effect spells will be especially useful in a fight like this, where so many targets are packed together.

    The enemy cleric to the northeast has just failed a save against Poppy's Wand of Paralyzation--Poppy had to strike her specifically, as she wasn't close enough to the crowd for us to hit normally.

    Wands will be extremely important here, as this will likely be a long and taxing fight. Our resources are sure to run low.

    I see arrows coming in from further north--there are more foes than we can see. Edwin summons some monsters to help take down the first wave of enemies before the second wave can rescue them. M'Khiin makes her presence felt.

    Both Corwin and Edwin have failed saves vs. Slow. There must be a mage striking from beyond our field of vision, but I don't notice it at the time.

    Worried that I'm not making efficient use of Corwin's limited time, I tweak auto-pause to make sure she doesn't stop fighting when her enemy goes down.

    Changing Corwin's script also could have worked, but it can lead to target switching that spreads damage across a group rather than concentrating it on a single target. Unlike real life, it's more efficient in D&D to kill one rather than wound two.

    Now Viconia is Slowed as well. The enemy mage finally enters our field of vision, hurling a Fireball our way and disrupting a Call Lightning spell.

    The first wave of enemies goes down, already disabled and badly burnt. An Emotion spell, either from Edwin or a friendly mage, takes out most of the second wave, but the mage resists it. Poppy tries to debuff the mage with Spell Thrust, but we can't stop the mage from tossing a second Fireball into the fray.

    Viconia is in good shape, but the rest of the party has to fall back while Viconia monitors the situation. Another mage appears, but the first loses MGOI. One of our allies responds with a Fireball while the coalition soldiers cut into the enemy's ranks.
    Edwin hastes the party while M'Khiin summons a Nymph to cast Mass Cure and get the party strong enough to return to combat. Yet another Fireball comes our way, but it barely misses the Nymph.

    Eager to bolster our defenses, Edwin uses the Wand of Monster Summoning. But it seems the field is already crowded.

    We need a way to get past the enemy mages' defenses before they destroy us with more Fireballs--or worse, Confusion. Poppy blinds Safana so she can deal poison damage via her traps.

    But it proves unnecessary. The coalition has already broken the strength of the mages. Corwin slays the last one.

    We nab a couple of interesting items from the fallen. Corwin has a new bow, even better than her old one.

    Then, new mages appear. Edwin adds a couple Gnolls to the battleground, but they can't shield us from Confusion. Half our party and many of the coalition soldiers fail their saves.

    M'Khiin could remove the confusion with Spiritual Clarity, but she too is confused.

    Viconia is hurt, but I settle for a Potion of Healing instead of a Potion of Extra Healing, as her defenses are fairly strong. Safana, however, is in trouble. Our allies have targeted Safana in their confusion, and she is sure to die without assistance. Edwin turns her invisible. Hopefully her blindness will keep her from attacking somebody and breaking invisibility.

    I call our Nymphs out to help, but she's already spent her Confusion and Hold Monster spells. We need to dip into our wand supply to handle these mages. Luckily, all three of our primary wand users are intact. Edwin's Wand of Frost charge fails for an unknown reason (Mirror Image? Minor Spell Deflection?) and a successful save blocks Poppy's Wand of Paralyzation, but Viconia's Wand of the Heavens breaks through.

    The enemy spellcasters don't have MGOI, so Edwin can blind them with Glitterdust, which gets a -2 save penalty thanks to Edwin's Conjurer kit. By the time Corwin, M'Khiin, and Safana recover from Confusion, we have already broken the enemy's strength using wands.

    Ashatiel, an avariel allied with Caelar, calls for a ceasefire. She proposes a duel to settle the fight. Since it could spare many lives and Poppy is our sturdiest character, we agree to her terms. Poppy downs a potion the moment the fight begins.

    Our party isn't supposed to help Poppy, but they're not disabled like the drow geas fight in Sendai's Enclave in TOB. They could pass some items over to her--which she could really use, given Edwin has most of the wands--but I'm concerned this could break the agreement and end the duel.

    Ashatiel reveals Poppy with a divination spell, but Poppy has enough time to turn invisible again without using a potion. This time, Ashatiel's divinations fail.

    Poppy casts Mirror Image while Ashatiel triggers her pre-buffs. Her defenses are pretty strong, but she has no defense against the Wand of the Heavens.

    I'm concerned that she will heal herself if I keep using the Wand of the Heavens, and Poppy's wand only has a few charges (Viconia carries the fully charged wand). I try the Wand of Paralyzation instead, but Ashatiel resists it.

    Switching wands was a costly mistake. Without fire damage to disrupt her, Ashatiel finishes casting Sanctuary and heals herself.

    I could use the Necklace of Missiles on Ashatiel, but I'm worried that the area of effect might hit somebody outside the arena and end the duel.

    Ashatiel breaks her invisibility and lands a hit, but based on her previous attack roll, a 15 which failed, I don't think she's going to break through Poppy's defenses anytime soon. Plus, Poppy's saves are subzero. She's already immune to any disablers Ashatiel might use.

    Poppy hits Ashatiel with another charge from the Wand of Paralyzation and Ashatiel keeps firing away at Poppy. Judging by our rolls, neither of those weapons will be much use in this fight.

    Checking on saving throw rolls and attack rolls can be very illuminating. Aside from the above examples, you can tell if a monster is immune to an effect by checking if they made their save. If no save or "Magic Resistance" message appears and they remain unaffected by your attack, you know they must have an innate immunity.

    With Ashatiel's saves as strong as they are, we can't rely on the Wand of Paralyzation. Poppy switches back to the Wand of the Heavens, but it seems Ashatiel has boosted her fire resistance.

    When I realize Ashatiel has no spell protections active, I have Poppy Breach her. It works!

    But with only one charge left in Poppy's Wand of the Heavens, I'm hesitant to use it again. Ashatiel re-casts Mirror Image, so Poppy resorts to the low-charged Wand of Water Elemental Summoning to help cut through the images.

    Ashatiel's MGOI finally wears off. Now she's vulnerable to the Wand of Fire!

    Ashatiel's Mirror Image blocked the first strike, and our Water Elemental is suffering, but Poppy has several more charges from the Wand of Fire to spare.

    Then, something terrible happens.

    Poppy's spell hits her right back. Worse yet, she takes full damage! Poppy gave her Ring of Fire Resistance to Viconia.

    At the risk of ending the duel, I bring Viconia over to toss Poppy the ring, but it turns out to be unnecessary. The Cloak of Balduran soaks up both strikes from the scorcher charge that Ashatiel bounced back at us.

    Poppy downs a potion to keep her HP up, but with her Improved Invisibility worn off, Ashatiel is free to Breach her.

    Then, somehow, Ashatiel's reflected scorcher strikes a third time. The Cloak of Balduran doesn't help, but Poppy's newfound fire resistance does.

    With Poppy wounded and debuffed, and our Water Elemental struggling to survive, I decide Poppy needs more breathing room to handle this situation. We don't have many Potions of Invisibility left, and we might really need them later on, but this fight could go very badly in a flash.

    While the Water Elemental dissipates, Poppy prepares for melee combat. Ashatiel, curiously, resorts to a nonmagical weapon when she knocks out the Water Elemental, allowing it to survive another round.

    I'm not sure if Poppy is really able to handle Ashatiel, but I don't want to spend another charge from the Wand of Water Elemental Summoning, as we might need them for the final battle. The Wand of Monster Summoning has many more charges, and we can safely drain them in this fight. But Edwin has that wand.

    I'm not quite sure if giving Poppy the wand will end the duel. It seems against the rules, but we already gave Poppy a ring and Ashatiel didn't mind.

    I think it's worth it the risk. We hand Poppy the wand. As our elemental dies, Poppy tries to use the Wand of Monster Summoning.

    Ashatiel stops her.

    I wish I had known the limits of Ashatiel's patience. We could have defeated Ashatiel by relying on the Wand of Water Elemental Summoning; I just didn't want to spend the charges. We could have avoided this fight.

    It's too late.

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,807
    edited July 2016
    No-Reload Siege of Dragonspear: Poppy the Cleric/Illusionist

    The Last Hurrah

    Ashatiel sets the Crusaders' strongest forces loose against us. It's another diverse group of enemies, with well-buffed spellcasters at full strength.

    We are worn out and weakened, but we have resources stored away. Safana lays another trap in plain sight.

    This should frustrate their spellcasting for the next three rounds, but it's no guarantee of success. The first hit does missile damage, which Stoneskin will block outright. Safana's trap doesn't stop the enemy from silencing both M'Khiin and Edwin.

    We have an amulet with vocalize on it, but Edwin can't wear it, and I forgot to have M'Khiin try it on.

    Viconia deploys her Wand of the Heavens once again. She, Corwin, and the coalition soldiers start tearing down the enemy fighters.

    Safana lays another trap, and we see the impact of her previous snare.

    Safana keeps up the pressure, switching to backstabbing when her traps run out. The enemy crumples.

    But more soldiers have arrived, and M'Khiin has failed a save against Emotion.

    We need to reorganize. Viconia summons some new critters to hold off the new enemies a moment longer, while Poppy cures Safana's blindness so she can switch to her bow. Hide With No Sight is little use with Safana's low stealth scores.

    The last two elite enemies succumb to poison. The new enemies march forward, but Poppy halts them with the Wand of Monster Summoning.

    The monsters prove an ineffective barrier. A hostile Emotion spell from offscreen knocks them out.

    The mage enters our visual range. A foolish mistake. He Breaches an already helpless Edwin, but it costs him his life.

    The coalition forces do much of the heavy lifting, both in terms of disabling and damaging the enemy. Edwin pitches in when they're neglecting a hostile cleric.

    The enemy advances on us. Another charge from the Wand of Monster Summoning gives us a new barrier, but the enemies quickly destroy it.

    A new wave of enemies arrives. Edwin, still unable to cast spells, draws the Wand of Fire.

    The enemy soaks up the damage but won't go down. They apply heavy pressure to Viconia, costing us a big potion. But we've been saving up those potions, and we have plenty more.

    Ashatiel has finally joined the fight. Edwin keeps launching Fireballs from the Wand of Fire, but it doesn't stop Ashatiel from casting Greater Command. She knocks out half the party in an instant.

    It's a huge blow, but Poppy is impossible to knock out without PW: Stun or Greater Malison. She still has a low-charge Wand of Fire--and Ashatiel, already Breached from the duel before, has no buffs left.

    With Ashatiel dead, the Crusaders retreat. We loot the bodies and find a lot of nice goodies, including many wands.

    We move forward, almost losing Edwin in the process. Safana gets to work clearing the way.

    Caelar Argent appears, demanding an end to the fight. She wants us to join her, but the momentum is ours.

    I feel that we're not supposed to wait, but the siege has worn down the party. I don't think we can face Caelar in our current condition. We rest twice to refresh our Stoneskins and prepare a new Minor Sequencer for Poppy.

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,807
    edited July 2016
    No-Reload Siege of Dragonspear: Poppy the Cleric/Illusionist


    Belegarm awaits us inside, ready to replenish our supplies. It seems we were expected to rest before the final fight. I have everyone start drinking potions. We may need the extra boost for the final battle.

    Viconia, Corwin, and Safana all have suboptimal Constitution scores. Potions of Fortitude are very valuable here, but they are quite rare. If they get dispelled twice, we won't have the spare potions to restore it.

    On the way up, I find a scroll of Enchanted Weapon. I had heard that +3 weapons would be useful at the end of Siege of Dragonspear--it's the only thing I've heard about SOD combat. I don't scribe it, however. Spells can be disrupted; scrolls cannot. And I'm not sure if spellcasting will be easy in the final battle.

    We find Caelar Argent waiting for us, Hephernaan by her side.

    We can't find a way to talk this out. Hephernaan strikes. But it isn't what I expected.

    I'm not entirely surprised. Hephernaan always gave off an evil vibe, and looking like a discolored Poquelin from IWD didn't help. We're in trouble.

    To my distress, the process removes all of our buffs. We have to replenish them, at the cost of very limited spell slots.

    We enter the portal, and a new chapter begins.

    I stumble upon the Crusaders fighting with demons (I know they're actually devils, but whatever). I catch them casting Charm Person at Safana, but I have her drink a Potion of Clarity before it hits.

    Poppy guards the party from fear, remembering that we lost our Remove Fear buff. Another Charm Person comes our way, and I don't react fast enough to stop it.

    M'Khiin is in enemy hands, but fortunately she doesn't attack us (her axe does magic damage to humans, bypassing Stoneskin).

    I hoped the Crusaders would occupy the enemy's attention, but one of them targets Safana with poisoned arrows.

    I keep seeing arrow damage values above 20. It's obscene. Corwin has trouble striking that hard, and she's an Archer. Safana's poor AC and inability to wear helmets are crushing weaknesses.

    Edwin nails the enemy archer with the Wand of Frost, but it doesn't do much. Safana holds off on drinking a potion so her aura won't get clouded; Poppy cures her poison instead.

    Another arrow comes Safana's way. The archer poisons her again! Another failed save.

    We really need to take this archer down. Corwin, unable to harm it with +1 arrows, has to switch to +2 arrows, and we don't have very many of them. The archer costs us two Elixirs of Health before Edwin and Corwin finally defeat it.

    The Crusaders tear apart the archer's friends--and when the last one, a Hellcat, goes invisible, they come for M'Khiin instead, since Goblin Grandma is still charmed.

    Edwin rushes over to hide her.

    She could have lost a lot of Ironskins, or even her life, without Edwin's intervention.

    We help the Crusader put down the Hellcat and they explain some things.

    Caelar never meant to kill Poppy at all. Just everybody else in Faerun.

    Safana activates the Shield Amulet once more, wary of getting targeted in the next fight. We're running low on charges; losing our buffs when the portal opened was a nasty blow to our resources, wasting several valuable buffing potions.

    We have more demons to deal with, but Corwin is in good shape to handle them. Her critical hits are incredible.

    Unfortunately, these demons all seem to require +2 arrows. I think it's because our +1 arrows strike as nonmagical due to SCS. We're going to run out of +2 arrows pretty soon, but at least in Siege of Dragonspear, all fire arrows strike as +2.

    As strong as Corwin is, she's only useful as long as she can make her saves. And the demons know who to target with their spells.

    I could have Corwin drink a Potion of Clarity, but there's a cheaper alternative.

    Cheaper doesn't always mean better, though. Particularly since a Helmet of Charm Protection only blocks charm if you wear it the whole time. I foolishly switch helmets to improve her Constitution.

    There is a third option, however. M'Khiin puts Corwin back under our control.

    Corwin kills the remaining demons and we move forward.

    It seems Caelar's friends are upset at the turn of events.

    I'm sure the final battle is up ahead. I spend some of our finite resources buffing the party.

    With our items switched around a little since the fight with Ashatiel, Poppy's saves aren't completely ironclod. Chaotic Commands, cast from a scroll since Poppy doesn't have level 5 priest spells yet, will ensure her safety. Assuming she can cast SI: Abjuration before somebody casts Remove Magic on her.

    To get past the next door, we have to pass a Cornugon named Thrix. I think he's supposed to throw some enemies at you and then let you pass when you beat them. Instead, he congratulates you for your victory and then summons demons to kill you.

    Corwin is already safe from Hold Person thanks to the Ring of Free Action, so I move the rest of the party away from her. The same thing happens to M'Khiin, who drinks a Potion of Freedom to avoid getting paralyzed.

    Viconia gets hit twice in a row, but a third attack roll from a Bone Fiend reveals that she is actually quite safe where she is.

    She drinks a potion and keeps tanking them while Edwin and Corwin cut them down.

    Every once in a while, Chromatic Orb does something amazing.

    The enemies land more criticals on Viconia, but they're not lucky enough to finish her off before Corwin seals their fate.

    We reach an elevator. A Glabrezu's spirit appears. I thought the only spirit you could summon with the Spectacles of Spectacle was that elemental in Baldur's Gate!

    The demon turns out to be kind of a Grumpy Gus.

    Glabrezus are deadly critters with high APR and Mirror Image spells. In BG2, SCS Glabrezus will cast Unholy Blight and Power Word: Stun.

    This one casts neither, but it's still a tough cookie. M'Khiin dispels its Mirror Images (with the spectacles, her Detect Illusions skill is at 89) and Corwin stuffs it with arrows.

    We activate the elevator and make our ascent. M'Khiin puts a positive spin on the situation.

    This is taking a long time. I'm sure the final battle really is at the top of this elevator. We need to prepare.

    An Imp and a Lemure stop by to visit. Corwin destroys them, and Edwin crows about the victory.

    More enemies come out to play. M'Khiin changes her mind about the elevator.

    Things get bad. So much time has passed that our long-lasting Remove Fear buff--our second one, actually, due to the dispel magic at the portal--has actually worn off. Viconia gets spooked.

    Poppy casts her last Remove Fear spell to cure Viconia; Corwin and Safana handle the enemies.

    Things are looking bad. Viconia already lost a Remove Fear spell by accidentally switching from her Wisdom-boosting mace, Glimmer of Hope. Without Remove Fear spells, our only defense against fear effects are Potions of Clarity. I bought plenty of them, mostly to block confusion effects, but drinking potions clouds your aura, and a single missed round can be fatal in a high-intensity battle.

    No more enemies approach. I'm sure this is the end. I spend our last moments drinking potions to boost our stats.

    I don't know what's going to happen next.

    Post edited by semiticgoddess on
  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,807
    edited July 2016
    No-Reload Siege of Dragonspear: Poppy the Cleric/Illusionist

    The Final Battle

    The elevator reaches the top of the tower. Caelar Argent is there, along with Hephernaan and... Belhifet, the same demon who tried to open a portal to the Nine Hells in Icewind Dale.

    It seems that she's been trying to free some guy named Aun. Belhifet has other goals. He kills all of Caelar's friends at once.

    This is not good news. Belhifet's not gonna be nice to Caelar! That's so mean.

    Also, in IWD, Belhifet was a murderous nightmare. He was immune to weapons below +3 enchantment and ALL spell levels, and dealt permanent poison and disease damage with every hit with no save. The encounter was basically designed to be impossible for caster-heavy parties like ours to succeed.

    On the plus side, Belhifet's machetes seem to have gained a small amount of texture, whereas in IWD they were just flat grey slabs. He's still by far the dumbest-looking villain I've ever seen in a game, but at least he's not as embarrassingly, immersion-breakingly goofy as he used to be.

    More importantly, Caelar is no longer our enemy. She can help us kill the demon!

    Caelar runs out to engage Belhifet. Perfect. No one in our party could stand up to Belhifet if he's anything like he was in IWD. He launches a Symbol, Pain spell at us, but our saves hold up.

    M'Khiin casts Summon Ghostly Defender; we may need the help taking down Hephernaan, who has reverted to the form of an Abishai. Corwin switches to fire arrows, as they strike as +2 weapons, while Edwin uses the Wand of Frost on Heifer. It doesn't do much damage, but the Wand of the Heavens and Wand of Paralyzation would both probably just bounce off of him.

    I don't know what Heifer can do, and I don't care to find out. The whole party concentrates on Heifer while Caelar hacks away at Bellyfeet.

    I think Caelar is going to play an important role here. I doubt anyone else in our party has the stats to tank Bellyfeet.

    M'Khiin's summoned spirits bash in Heifer's face, and the demon's life bar starts running down. Looks like the Goblin Chieftain spirit has an on-hit effect of some sort; Heifer has to save against something when the chieftain strikes.

    A Green Abishai jumps on Safana, but I keep Corwin, our primary Abishai killer, focused on Hephernaan. With all our energy focused on one point, it doesn't take long to slay the demon.

    Heifer could have been a wild card; I have no idea what powers he possessed. I get the party moving to escape the two Abishais breathing down our necks. Belhifet doesn't take Heifer's demise very gracefully. He floods the screen with fire.

    Safana staggers out of the inferno to heal herself. Poppy remains inside; she's already pre-buffed with Protection from Fire. I want to see if Bellyfeet has the same immunities he had in IWD.

    The Abishais let Safana go, attacking M'Khiin's goblin spirits instead. Edwin and Safana start recovering from their burns.

    Poppy hits Belhifet with the Wand of Frost. The result is interesting.

    That message doesn't just show Belhifet has magic resistance. It also shows that he does not have spell level immunities like he did in IWD. If he did, those immunities would have taken precedence, and we'd see "Spell Ineffective" instead.

    He likely has 100% MR anyway, but this means we can hit him with Lower Resistance, and maybe make some progress using the Wand of Frost.

    Corwin takes a shot at Belhifet. He still has his IWD weapon immunities.

    Safana finally gets her aura clear and heals herself. None of the enemies bother her, not that it matters much. She's kind of a dead weight in this fight; there are no traps for her to disarm. M'Khiin's Goblin Chieftain has been taking the punishment instead.

    We need Corwin to get started on Bellyfeet, and we only have 20 Arrows +3 for her to spend. Edwin prepares to buff her with Enchanted Weapon. Bellyfeet teleports away.

    Safana may be some use against the Abishais with her bow, but her THAC0 is terrible and Belhifet is our real target. She's more useful to us blind, I think.

    Of course, a save vs. spell stops that outright. At least it gives me time to realize Safana's Set Traps ability is only 90, as Symbol, Pain reduced her DEX by 3. A Potion of Mind Focusing can fix that.

    Bellyfeet vanishes. So does his little red buddy.

    M'Khiin reveals Bellyfeet so Corwin can keep sticking him with arrows. Poppy prepares for combat, too.

    What can Poppy hope to do here? There are two possibilities. For one, the flind form's halberd strikes as a +3 weapon. Or, Poppy could use her Shocking Grasp+DUHM Minor Sequencer in spider form to use her +3 hammer at 18 STR and 4 APR. In Siege of Dragonspear, the spider gnome trick still works!

    But that's very risky--I don't know what Belhifet could do to Poppy if she engaged in melee. For now, we should focus on ranged attacks, and let Caelar deal with Belhifet's machetes.

    They're not curvy enough to be scimitars, mind you. They're machetes.

    Corwin runs away from the demon, who has no ranged weapons to use against her--at least, none that matter. Hold Person can reach all the way across the map, but Corwin has the Ring of Free Action to compensate for her terrible saves.

    Unable to reach Corwin, Belhifet turns to Caelar, just like we want him to.

    While the Shining Lady and Bellyfeet dance, I prepare for the next few rounds. I want to use up Safana's traps, and help our Wand of Frost break through Bellyfeet's MR.

    Safana's traps aren't very impressive. Corwin has the same problem, but at least she can fire more than three arrows a day.

    Viconia and M'Khiin both try to cast Doom (it doesn't sack; the double casting is just to bypass his MR), but SOD and EE Doom spells have a long casting time. It's easy for Bellyfeet to escape.

    Oddly, invisibility doesn't stop the wand. But MR does.

    I only had one Lower Resistance spell memorized; I didn't know I'd need more. Even if Bellyfeet's MR is below 100, that's no guarantee we can actually hit him.

    Belhifet slices through Caelar's armor. Good news and bad news.

    The good news is that Belhifet's on-hit effect offers a save vs. death. The bad news is that Belhifet does in fact have an on-hit effect. And it's probably not good.

    Edwin wasn't able to reach Corwin to cast Enchanted Weapon on her before, and that was okay for a while, but now we're running out of +3 arrows. Corwin needs Enchanted Weapon before she can even touch Belhifet. Meanwhile, M'Khiin sticks close by to use Detect Illusions, Safana keeps laying her traps, Poppy uses the Wand of Frost, and Viconia waits to see if she can contribute anything to the fight.

    Belhifet floods the area with fire once more. Safana takes a bad hit, but it's not a big problem. Her traps aren't helping much anyway. The important thing is that Corwin now has Enchanted Weapon active. She'll be able to hit him with any arrow now, and we have hundreds on hand.

    We keep trying to get past Belhifet's magic resistance. Spell after spell, it just doesn't work. The best we can do is pluck away at Corwin's bow and spend a scroll of Cure Serious Wounds on Caelar to help keep her HP high.

    Belhifet is getting weaker, while Caelar is holding strong. Belhifet gates in some allies, still clinging to life.

    Belhifet's allies aren't so hard to kill. Corwin stays focused on Belhifet, since she's the only one who can hit him, while the rest of the party chops up the lesser demons.

    Belhifet teleports away and floods the area once more with fire. As always, Safana suffers the most.

    Corwin is right in the middle, but she resists the spell outright thanks to the tiny 10% MR granted by her armor.

    Caelar lands the final blow.

    Victory! Caelar goes to free the guy in the cage. It seems she came all this way just to save this one man from the Nine Hells, her uncle. It was never about freeing everybody else; that was just an excuse she told her followers. She even considers all the destruction to be worth it. Just for this one guy.

    She is, though, in some way repentant.

    We head back to the portal. But Caelar isn't going back--she'd rather stay behind to guard the exit, making sure no one else tried to open it again. SOD won't let me thank her for the last good deed, so I just pick the least judgmental dialog option.

    It's a massive waste of life just to save a single person...

    ...but after all this, I can't think of a better person to guard a portal to the Nine Hells than Caelar Argent, the slayer of Belhifet.

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,615
    Congratulations, @semitcgod . It's pretty amazing that you succeeded on the first try. You've really got something to be proud of with this run.

  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,615
    @semiticgod , That's an excellent review, with no-reloaders as the target audience, and I very much enjoyed reading it. Have you considered posting a copy of it over in the Bioware no-reload thread? It might be enough to convince some of the community's elder no-reload folks to give it a try, if they haven't already.

  • YgramulYgramul Member Posts: 1,059

    No-Reload SOD: A Retrospective

    Siege of Dragonspear far exceeded my expectations. As a fan of BG2 for 16 years, I can say with confidence that SOD is categorically superior to BG2. It's a close call, but in every dimension, SOD came out at least a little bit stronger than the sequel. The only true weakness of SOD is that there isn't more of it.

    Great review, @semiticgod

    Could you comment on the current state of stability of SoD with SCS installed? I consider doing another no-reload run across the whole trilogy, including SoD (which I have not yet touched), but will wait if it needs a few more versions (for both SoD or SCS) before it is all seamless and stable.

    Thanks in advance.

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,807
    @Ygramul: As far as I can tell, SOD is no less stable with SCS installed. I don't think SCS changes much of anything in SOD.

    The only visible influence from SCS was basic item and spell changes. We had some messed up strings for +1 arrows (changed to be nonmagical in SCS) and certain spells (like Spell Thrust, which SCS changes), but everything functioned fine.

    I had several crashes, but the only one that ever recurred after reloading was when I tried to rest in the river cave area. I'm guessing one of the nighttime ambush spawns had a corrupted .cre file, crashing the game when it tried to summon them. Using a custom rest spell in lieu of actual resting allowed us to avoid the problem.

    The sole remaining bug was Khalid, who
    went missing during the siege on Bridgeport. I needed to talk to him to complete a questline; he was supposed to appear by the drawbridge. I used the console to summon the "khalid7" .cre file to fix the problem.

  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,420
    Fantastic run and review! Congratulations!

  • FardragonFardragon Member Posts: 4,511

    The sole remaining bug was Khalid

    Are you sure he didn't just die in battle off screen? Even though he is a quest receiver he isn't protected by immortality like in so many modern crpgs. I like this lack of hand-holding in SoD. Sorry, you can't hand in that quest because the person is dead. Move along.

  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,807
    @Fardragon: He often dies in a certain cutscene, I hear, but he survived in my run--I spoke to him after that event, and he left no equipment anywhere, which would indicate a death. Also, he didn't die in battle, as the only fights he was in (by that point) were in the first chapter, all of which he also survived.

    I spoke to him after he survived the cutscene but before the fight; therefore he definitely did not die. I searched for help online and others confirmed that he sometimes fails to show up where he's supposed to. So yes, his absence was a bug in my case.

    He also showed up later on in the game, which shows that his death variable never triggered. Minsc died and never showed up again; Khalid lived.

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