Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Hordes of the Underdark Walkthrough - Part VI


CHAPTER 3 - ESCAPE FROM THE HELLS

THE CITY OF LOST SOULS

Ok, a change of pace in this chapter - at least in the beginning. Lots of talking and non-combat questing.

Basically, the trio are stuck in Cania (the Eighth Hell of Baator). Mephistopheles rules Cania and is devouring souls to fuel his undead legion back in Toril. The only way back to Toril is to discover the "True Name" of the Reaper.

Cania is so bitterly cold that the trio takes cold damage just by walking around the City of Lost Souls. You can light a fire with three Velox Berries and become immune to cold for a long time. While that's definitely useful later for most players, at this early stage the low damage doesn't really require it.


The spirits of the City of Lost Souls.

After farming initial dialogue EXP, my first quest is to lead the Scrivener creature to carved posts, after which I gain access to Aribeth de Tylmarande, the famous, fiery Paladin of Tyr from NWN OC, who, in Hordes, has isolated herself in an icy cave after being quenched by Meph for opposing his policy of Devouring. I light a campfire at her feet using collected Velox Berries, after which the ghostly Aribeth turns hostile but then surrenders after taking heavy damage. I choose the good and justice dialogue choices to placate and recruit her as a Paladin(18)/Blackguard(6). Our faithful kobold companion, Deekin, is reluctantly dumped at this point (though he might be recruited again for the final fight).


Aribeth eventually becomes opaque.

Ghostly Aribeth proudly receives the Warlord's Breastplate and Amulet of Divine Radiance for a mighty +12 CHA (+12 divine damage under Divine Might). She wields the North Wind bow bought from the demon merchant, Gru'ul, and upgraded by Rizolvir (now in the Hellbreath Tavern) to +10 (cannot upgrade to +5 infinite ammo because it already does +1d6 cold). Aribeth is now capable of Smite-critting for 100 damage, and she also wears Vestaments of Faith, my old Ring of Protection +6 and a Belt of Agility +10 bought from Gru'ul for +4 AB. Aribeth is far superior geared with sword and shield, but I'm sort of sticking with my archer-only trio throughout this run, if I can. So that Nathyrra doesn't feel left out, her Taralash bow is also upgraded to +10 with +5 infinite ammo. From Gru'ul my Arcane Archer purchases a Ring of Protection +9.  For the trio in general, I buy another Rod of Resurrection.

The trio now confidently decked out, we get down to business. We kill the Tavernkeeper Dragon and Arden Swift for giggles and EXP, then solve the Five-Fold Mysteries and correctly answer Dharvana's test for the Sensei's Amulet. I don the amulet, quaff a potion of Owl's Wisdom and, with WIS 15, am able to enter the Sleeping Man's dreams to learn of the Knower of Places, the Knower of Names and to reveal in his chamber an astral door leading to the first dungeon of Chapter 3, in which a Puzzle Ring is located - all of which are required to find the True Name of the Reaper. (There is another way to learn of all this and reveal the plot-critical door, but the solution is not as elegant.)

So the new-formed trio step through the astral door to the Subterranean Vault and find themselves up against three waves of epic undead, who hit like trucks. Our combined ranged DPS was just enough to succeed in this encounter, though on one occasion we were unable to hold our ground. Anyway, after killing off the undead we loot the three essence orbs of pieces and combine them in the order of Hope-Faith-Love to assemble the Puzzle Ring artifact. (Just a sidenote, there is treasure down here that cannot be looted until end-game when we have a certain device.)


These are called Undead Minions - very misleading.

Anyway, the Puzzle Ring is a cool concept. When you put it on you see the world differently - some things are revealed that you couldn't see before, some are hidden that you could. Sort of like a switchable spectrum doo-dah. So you swap it on and off in order to explore areas and proceed in the plot. With the Puzzle Ring on the trio spots a hidden altar in the Sleeping Man's chamber, upon which an epic helm for Aribeth (Helm of Righteousness) proudly sits. Arrow symbols also appear on the floor now, pointing in a direction the trio follow. Back outside, the arrows lead to a second astral door. We enter.

We find ourselves now in the Wastes of Cania, and here the periodic cold damage is doubled. Spying Meph's Guardian of the Path (the first of three), Aribeth is told to cast Divine Might and Divine Shield; Nathyrra directed to buff me into a juggernaut. During this battle the demonflesh Guardian casts Time Stop and polymorphs me into three different creatures, a bizarre tactic. Aribeth is the standout in this fight, landing two crits (Divine damage also doubled). We loot the corpse for the Astral Blade +8 (2d6 Sonic), obviously custom made for Aribeth (but she won't be using it). Now, using the Sensei's Amulet's unique power, the PC can polymorph at-will into Pixie, Earth Elemental and Wolf form in order to tackle future obstacles.  For example, the Earth Elemental is used to bash away fallen ice blocking a tunnel entrance to the Deeper Wastes. (This concept was later employed by BioWare in Dragon Age: Origins' The Fade.) Now in the Deeper Wastes, the cold becomes even more bitter. There are Ice Troll Berserkers and Shaman mobs here, and an Alpha Hell Frost Worg, neither of which are much of a threat. Unable to proceed due to the lava-flow of the River Styx, we're forced to enter the Mimic's Nest.

In here an animated chest appears (piloted by a Mimic), from which a demonic grappling hand pops out and steals the armor from my body. After fighting off crack-shot axe-throwing Azer Gem Miners (with insane off-screen range), a simple lever puzzle is solved with the aid of the Puzzle Ring and a door is blasted open enabling the trio to further pursue the Mimic.


The Puzzle Ring reveals two hidden levers.

Now we find ourselves in the Hall of Gems, so-called because machines spit out "gem piles" around the area which the Mimic greedily devours. This area is solved by collecting gem piles, placing them down on the ground spaced out to create a path for the Mimic to follow, luring the Mimic into a Fire Conductor's area of effect, then timing the pulling of a lever such that the Mimic is in the AoE and is thereby destroyed. With this done, the grappling hand is added to my inventory and the Mimic's chest is looted to get my armor back and the Boots of Striding +10 (for Aribeth). In a surprise encounter, the winged Gargamesh flies down to duke it out, is killed, and his corpse is looted for Radiant Death +12 (crafts are limited to +10). We enter through yet another astral door, back into the Deeper Wastes. Here the party peppers more ice trolls with arrows, then uses the grappling hand to pass over the River Styx.


The Mimic is blown up.


Firing at ice trolls on the other side of a fiery rift.

The Puzzle Ring reveals a hidden astral door, but the trio must first buff themselves to the total max, as through the door is the most epic encounter offered by official NWN content. In this battle the trio is up against the NWN OC Monk, Grimgnaw, the NWN OC antagonist Maugrim, the lich Balpheron, the minotaur Koth Uth-Kalin and the rogue Crimson.

First I summon the Djinni merchant and purchase Fletcher's Friend - an AA-only armor for 150,000 gold that bestows +1 AC. I have Nathyrra cast Stoneskin and Improved Invisibility on me, Bull's Strength and Haste on Aribeth and Elemental Shield on herself. Stoneskin is cast by me on Aribeth and Nathyrra from the Gargoyle Boots. I cast Battle Tide on myself from the Dragon Armor, then True Sight from the Gem of Seeing. I quaff a Bless potion and each of the trio quaff a Potion of Aid. Finally, Aribeth casts Divine Might and Divine Shield. We enter the astral door into the Abandoned Entryway.

Upon entry, we find ourselves nose-to-nose with Grimgnaw who is flanked by the four other epics. Without foreknowledge, this fight is touch and go (at least on D&D Hardcore rules). Most new players will have to reload a few times unless they get extremely lucky, since there's lots going on and many things can happen. Instant game-enders are things like Stunning Fist/Knockdown, minotaur 100+ damage crits and Balpheron's necromantics. Hit n run and kiting tactics are limited in a confined area and you can't outrun monk speed, anyway. Not having a solid tank holding back the DPS lords (Grimgnaw and Koth) doesn't help, either. The fight can be made easier with a few potions of full heal, but I don't like relying on more than one or two (even if Grimgnaw's "AI" quaffs like mad.)

Ok, dialogue ends and warcries resound. Ignoring Grimgnaw, I engage Rapid Shot and focus fire on the biggest threat, Balpheron, who drops before he can cast Time Stop (you don't want him buffing the monk and minotaur with Mass Haste, then unleashing Horrid Wilting etc. while you're being beaten to a pulp). Aribeth at this point was soaking huge blows from the minotaur and was knocked down, but was saved from certain death by my hail of arrows, one of which critted for 83 damage. Grimgnaw then kills Nathyrra but he himself follows soon after, his chest pierced with a volly of arrows as he vainly tried to quaff a healing potion. The priest Maugrim, hitherto merrily unleashing his mediocre repertoire unhindered, then stands no chance against a dual volly from Aribeth and myself, taking two stinging crits from me in quick succession (79/83 damage). The cowardly Crimson is then mowed down from afar, ending the epic evil party.

Note that I didn't save-scum in this battle (nor do I in any battle) and that I didn't quaff any full heal potions or even move from my starting position until I mowed down Crimson at the end, who had run away like a coward. The key to this battle, for me, is taking out Balpheron before he casts Time Stop, which my AA was consistently able to do. Note also that Nathyrra is bugged to cast no more than one buff of the same type (if Deekin was with me, all Henchman could have also been under Improved Invisibility). So, I recommend not recruiting Nathyrra unless you intend to build her to assassin because, as wizard, other bugs exist that limit her spell choices as the game progresses (for example, this run I didn't even get her Mantle line or Dire Tiger summon, wtf).


Knocked-down Aribeth is saved from the mighty minotaur, Koth. 


Grimgnaw vainly tries to quaff a healing potion.


 Maugrim takes two crits.


Crimson is dropped last.

I didn't take a screenshot of the first kill, Balpheron, he just died too quickly; four or five arrow shots.

Loot here is suitably epic, mostly +5, +6 and +7 stuff that you wish you had before this fight. I wear Cloak of Epic Spell Resistance (SR 35) and the Robe of Leathers for Greater Cat's Grace (2d4+1 DEX) once-per-day, but its on-hit lvl 15 Infestation of Maggots has a uselessly low DC of 16. Nathyrra now wears the Robe of Balpheron for the cold soak, its on-hit Negative Energy Burst bugged in that it does divine damage (also melee-only...) Aribeth slips on the Epic Gloves of Discipline, there being nothing else she needs, and both Nathyrra and I don Amulets of Natural Armor +6. I also wear the Ring of Elemental Cold Immunity.

There is a blocked exit here and a sideroom requiring the key from Grimgnaw's corpse, and then the Pixie polymorph (Sensai's Amulet) to reach a lever that clears the way. The trio then enter the Puzzlers' Sepulcher. 

This next section is filled with winged Puzzlers who are no match for an archer party. The trio must travel over a large lake of lava by pulling levers which teleport them from one platform to another, sort of like stepping stones. Each platform has rotating arrows indicating the direction of teleportation when the lever is pulled. Three platforms have additional levers which emit a coloured glow. With the colour on the three platforms set to "blue", the trio travel to the other side of the lake, rotate three blue-glowing statues to face a door, then pull one last lever to zap it open.


Lava lake and platforms.


Need more draw distance.

The next lava-lake dungeon is explored by means of the grappling hand latching onto chains hanging down from the ceiling. An inventive mechanic. Again, archery shines here.

Camped at the end of this dungeon is the second Guardian of the Path, a stealthy Black Slaad; a damage sponge. After downing it we enter a portal and come face to face with the Knower of Places, who upgrades our Puzzle Ring and opens an astral door leading to the Knower of Names.


The Knower of Places.

Here in the Deepest Wastes, Cania reaches her most bitter chill, but each member of the trio has cold immunity or at least enough soak to fully mitigate cold damage (regen also helps). We fight through boring Frost Giants packs and yet more Ice trolls on our way to a generic fortress, wherein more Frost Giants dwell.


These giants don't get this close, this is just a screenshot.

Passing through the fortress we enter the Windswept Battlefield where the Blood War rages (demons vs. devils). After killing them all the third and last Guardian of the Path (a pit fiend) commands his legions to end us, and we then confront waves and waves of halberd-wielding Devil Warrior spawns (80 in total).


Pit Fiend flanked by Devil Warriors

His undead legion destroyed, we now face the pit fiend who, under heavy fire, panicked and started spamming heal, but still went down like a sack of shit.


Pit fiend panics, then dies.

With the rubbish on the battlefield swept away, we grapple-hand across the lava to a catapult, polymorph to Earth Elemental, throw the catapult back to the other side of the lava, cancel polymorph, grapple-hand back, rotate the catapult four times counter-clockwise (or, if the "impaled corpse" is 7 o'clock, then aim for 3 o'clock), and fire it into a sunken section of ice, finally revealing the imprisoned Knower of Names, who flutters out and stands before us.

At this point I learn from the Knower of Names the True Name of the Reaper (Hecugoth the Abandoned) and also pay 200,000 gold to learn the True Names of Aribeth and Deekin (I don't bother with Nathyrra's, as I'll be dumping her for Deekin soon). You can also pay 500,000 gold for Mephistopheles' True Name, but there's no fun in not fighting him. Lastly, I learn that I'm the True Love of the Sleeping Man.


The Knower of Names, catapult behind

The Knower of Names returns us to the Sleeping Man's chamber, and here I whisper the True Name of his True Love into his ear: Murdus the Wild (aka Me). The Sleeping Man awakens, we kiss, and he promises to help me against Mephistopheles. But before that I re-enter the Vault underneath the Sleeping Man's chamber and use the grappling hand to reach a chest containing the Shroud of Kings. This cloak has a -4 penalty to CHA but +2 to all other stats (end-game CHA/Persuade checks can be bypassed with True Names, so I might as well wear it.)


Green guy is the Sleeping Man (a celestial).

I replace Nathyrra with Deekin because Bard Song is just much more useful in the Final Battle than a bugged-out wizard. I upgrade Deekin's Crossbow of Murder to +10 and then portal out of the City of Lost Souls into the Gatehouse.

Commanding the Reaper with his True Name to send us back to Toril, he opens a Planar Gate. I step towards it to trigger dialogue with my companions. With their True Names I command Aribeth (Va'ardalia the Twinsouled) to feel no guilt about Neverwinter, and for Deekin (Ixthyria the Scalesinger) to believe in himself.

After sharing this deep and meaningful moment, the trio wipe away each others' tears, and, with grim determination, start buffing. Much like the buff-fest against Grimgnaw, I first cast Stoneskin on the trio with the Gargoyle Boots, then tell Deekin to cast Improved Invisibility and Mass Haste on us all (unlike Nathyrra he can cast the same spell more than once). Deekin casts Energy Buffer and I cast Greater Cat's Grace from the Robe of Leathers and Battle Tide from the Dragon Armor. Now Aribeth casts Divine Might and Divine Shield, and Deekin begins his Doom-song.

2 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I have deleted my previous comment since I have discovered that in Grimgnaw's party all other members except him have an additional page to their inventory (a fact I was not aware of).

    ReplyDelete

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