Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Aielund Saga: Act Two - Part III


Orc Fortress & 'Sins

On the road south of Fairloch we bump into the stablemaster and present to him our Letter of the Marque in order to obtain a Light Warhorse for each of the trio (Maggie's mount is down-sized to what I would call a "Light War-Pony").


Pleased to give our feet a rest, we merrily clip-clop further down south onto the Amalis Highway, breathing in that cool, crisp air. Such a contrast from libraries, dungeons and sewer systems - but this pleasantness is short-lived...

... Amidst the howling wind we fight off a few trashy orcs and wolves, and come across a raided wagon surrounded by the corpses of teamsters. The orcs left not a penny.

Poor souls. The orcs may be fighting for their land but this is beyond tolerance. - Maggie.


To the west we hear faint cries for help...

Pretty lady MY new toy! You not take! - Orc Champion.
Please, help me! Don't leave me here with this brute! - Orc Hostage.

We cleave the Orc Champion's skull in two (+308 EXP) and tell the poor woman she's free to continue her trip north to Fairloch (+1 Lawful, +50 EXP, +100 EXP).
 

Level Up to 12!

Lilura: Champion of Torm (3) / Paladin (5)/ Fighter (4), Divine Shield, CON +1
Ronan: Rogue (12), DEX +1
Maggie: Druid (12), Spell Penetration, Wildshape (dire forms), WIS +1

Note that Maggie can't use Wildshape (nor can she summon her animal companion) - they weren't implemented.

Heading south again we enter the lumbering village of Kingswood to speak to Adelay Addams, a bowyer and tanner. It seems the village has a problem with a sadistic Half-orc hunter who has moved from hunting animals up to preying on humans. This behavior simply will not stand, so the trio head west of Kingswood to check it out.



This forest contains many deadly traps laid under the snow, covering wide areas. The dismounted trio crept cautiously onward as Ronan disabled what he could.  

Ever had that feeling you were being watched? I got that now. - Ronan.


We remount our steeds and I ask Ronan and Maggie to wait back a bit. I arrive alone at the hunter's camp where I spot dead animals laying on the ground nearby.

This camp has not been here very long. The fire is fresh. - DM. 

Suddenly a savage Hunting Dog attacks me as a few arrows zip over my head, fired from long distance by a well-camouflaged hunter - Veerak. Pursued by his dog, I charge the Half-orc to force him into a melee duel in which I quickly gain the upper hand. At Near Death status and with his dog dead (+275 EXP), Veerak takes off to hide and fully heal. At this point Maggie is killed when she clumsily trips a trap... sigh. Veerak then returns from the shadows and Ronan and I promptly carve him up, ending him with a solid critical (+346 EXP). Note that Veerak is deadly in both ranged and melee disciplines, able to crit for 50 damage with bow or axe. Stoneskin is recommended.



On his hewn corpse is found the Hide of the Grizzly (+2 STR), Predator +3 longbow (Mighty +4, Mass Crits 1d10, Bonus Feat: Woodland Stride), Battleaxe +2 and Belt of Agility +2. The chest in his camp contains an Imaskari Shield (SR 10), Deadly Electrical Trap Kit (valuable), +204 GP and sundry items.

Having resurrected Maggie the trio head back to Kingswood and hand to Adelay Veerak's blood-soaked ear as proof the sadistic hunter is no more (+750 EXP, +500 GP).

We now head south again where we're the target of more orc packs who have just raided another wagon and murdered the teamsters. Maggie proactively unleashes Ice Storm here to speed up the killin' process.


Leaving the orc corpses to the wolves, the trio arrive in the town of Amalis - but at this stage we're only here to deliver the magical goods. This town looks large but is not even one quarter of Fairloch in size.



We deliver the package to Auberon at the Tower of Sorcery (+300 EXP, +300 GP). As a bonus he hands us a Treasure Map which points to a hidden cave somewhere in the Stoneguard Mountains. We lay this quest to the side for now and bid farewell to Auberon and his sleepy pseudodragon familiar, Ignatius.




Orc Fortress


Leaving behind Amalis for the moment the trio ride back onto the northern highway. From here we venture west into the Deeper Woods wherein our sharp eyes spy the well-hidden Orc Fortress in the distance, just across a babbling brook.


A two-stage battle ensues: first we need to deal with orcs external to or on the walls of the fortress; then we can enter into the fortress itself to deal with the orcs holed up inside.

Displaying her elemental prowess Maggie rains down Ice Storm, Flame Strike and successive Chain Lightnings upon the orc-infested walls of the fortress, as I pepper them with Predator and Ronan slices n dices the door guards at ground level. 





I breach the walls by bashing down the 15 soak door with Power Attack; then the trio dismount and leave their horses outside the fortress. Annoyingly, Maggie won't self-buff with Barkskin out of combat. What this means is that she wastes time in combat casting it. Anyway, I have her buff me with Stoneskin and then I quaff a Potion of Speed, cast Eagle's Splendor upon myself from the Gentleman's Rapier, then finally cast Divine Might and Divine Shield buffs. Thugged out, I then barge into the fortress where my Henchmen and I are at once swarmed by dozens of orc-scum.

I immediately target and wail mercilessly on the Orc Captain who is still standing after bring critted then smite critted for 43 and 60 dmg.


(The Orc Captain himself is capable of crits in excess of 70 dmg.)

An orc shaman fails in his attempt to Dispel me of buffs; then soon after the Orc Captain is dropped on his ass, never again to get back up (+572 EXP).


Ronan succeeds in a sneak attack or two, but is then killed when Maggie neglects to heal him. She normally does a great job of keeping us alive, just not this time.


Maggie and I sweep away the remaining orc-trash on the ground level.


After which we turn our gaze to the straggling, cowardly remainder firing down on us from the walls. Maggie is in just the right position here to rain down Ice Storm, Flame Strike and Call Lightning on both walls while I climb the stairs to cut them down, making sure no orc survives and the stronghold is completely laid to waste.


 

With the orc stronghold cleansed we resurrect Ronan and saw off the Orc Captain's putrid head. There are several crates here containing loot taken in raids, but the haul is actually paltry: +173 GP, Strong Acid Splash Trap - and nothing else worth a damn.

The sawed off head is now taken to Reyne in the City Hall of Amalis (+750 GP, +750 EXP), capping off this quest which began in Fairloch. Reyne also refers us now to Lord Richard Sothby for another quest, but for now we defer. While in Amalis I purchase an Amulet of Natural Armor +3 from the Church. Since the orc threat is now removed the teamster here can time-lapse us back to Fairloch by pack ox (25 GP), but we decide to test out the Stone of Recall to bind back to the Halls of Knowledge lab instead. At this point I also decide to do away with mounts, since they're annoying, tedious and buggy. Very cool idea, though.

Back in the Market District, I purchase from the smithy the Bracers of Swordsmanship. I've been eyeing these for a while as they bestow the Expertise feat (plus Ambidexterity and Discipline +8). 


Assassin's Guild


Now it's time to advance the main plot some more, so we head to the Art Gallery (a front for the assassins) in the Senate District. There is another way in by means of the sewers which lets you bypass some enemies, but it really doesn't matter which access point I choose - I want to kill everything for +EXP, anyway.

Entering the gallery...

Here's the secret door, behind this bookshelf. - PC.


We descend into the first level of the 'Sin guild, basically just a large dungeon of winding, trapped corridors.

Bingo. One assassin guild. Watch out for traps around here. - Ronan. 

That seemed a little too easy... - Maggie. (she means the guild was suspiciously easy to access. Remember, too, that I didn't need to use Persuade on Dabbenfold when probing him for info)...

In this first room we interrupt a Manticore busily dining on human remains. Always nice to cap off an enemy with a crit (+308 EXP).


I'm glad I worked out how to reliably have Ronan disable traps before tackling this area. Remember, he must be in Guard Me mode.

Here Ronan disables six traps, five of which are DC 31. Unlike Princess Criosa, he cannot be asked in dialogue to recover traps into his inventory for later sale on the black market, or to re-use. 


After some Mustard Jelly madness we take on another Queen Spider, this one coated with Stoneskin for extra toughness (+748 EXP).


A Stone Golem blocks access to the second level, but its a faceroll (+396 EXP, Fire Bullet [26]).


Things heat up on the second level of the guild as several normal assassins (+88 EXP ea) and three Elites (220 EXP ea) converge on us at the first junction. However, with my high AC (from Haste, Expertise etc.) they can only hit me on a crit which means I can comfortably tank one-third of the guild solo, even without Stoneskin.



Some archer sins fire poison arrows from down the corridors, but aren't able to slow our assault on the guild.

I noticed the DC to Dispel assassin Darkness is 136. Strange...

Anyway, Ronan detraps and unlocks a door to gain access to the next room.


Here we briefly encounter Holister Swiftblade, leader of the sins.

Ah, you're finally here. Gentlemen, please kill this fool for me. - Holister Swiftblade.

He slinks away, leaving us to fight a sin trashmob and a pathetic gnome merc wizard (Globe of Invulnerability scroll, Bracers of Armor +3). First-person view, ftw.


Having put them in their place, we enter the corridor down which Holister disappeared. The door auto-locks behind Maggie and I (leaving Ronan stuck on the other side), and a mechanical gnomish invention called a Spiker rolls up to grind us into mincemeat. Maggie and I have no real difficulty disabling the construct, though, as it's only lightly reinforced (+396 EXP).


Ronan now unlocks the door from the other side to join us in the corridor. We're now standing outside Holister's den of evil.

You can hear someone casting a spell from behind this door. - DM.

The sounds are Holister preparing a few illusions of himself (easily dispelled by hitting them). Ronan unlocks the door (DC 28) and I enter for a duel with the deadliest blade in the city. This extended duel was pretty cool, we both had problems hitting each other.





At Near Death Swiftblade surrenders (+110 EXP), pleading for us not to kill him. He now spills his guts, telling us he doesn't actually know who hired him, who this Number One really is (the papers he hands us sort of back that up), and that he lured us here to be killed (meaning that Peri was involved in setting us up). Moreover, he and the Halfling often worked together...

Peri. That son of a bitch. - Ronan.

He also lets us in on how much he was paid for the job: a godly 500,000 gold. This means that only a member of the Bartlett family could have paid him (if you remember, Ronald was stomped on by mountain giant, so perhaps his son Thomas...) or Augustus Johnson, a wealthy and unscrupulous senator.

I now execute him (+396 EXP) basically because I have no option of restraining him for the authorities, which means he'd sail into the golden sunset with half a million gold glinting on his deck (his client paid in advance), and face no justice for his involvement in a conspiracy which could have brought down the Kingdom. Not to mention, his intention was to return in five years when things had cooled off. As a Paladin, I don't think so.


Cold in life, we now loot the even-colder-in-death Swiftblade for a Rapier +3, Assassin Dagger +2, Stealth Armor (Hide/Move Silently +5, SR 14), Ring of Resistance +2 and Dark Cloak.

A chest here contains two precious gems and +125 GP. Not another penny was found of the half a million gold...

The loot from the Elites was: Assassin's Blade +2 (4) and Leather Armor +2 (4). From the plain assassins we looted several Shortbow +2, Assassin Daggers and poison arrows. Selling off this heavy haul gives us a total of 91,000 GP in the coffers. So yeah, the trio is starting to accumulate some serious wealth now, I hope the author continues to control it - I like making tough decisions on what to purchase from merchants. We'll be catching up with Peri in the next update.

Next up: Act Two - Part IV
  
Fops, Butlers, Dragons, Transcendent Monks and the Feybourne - oh my!

11 comments:

  1. "Note that Maggie can't use Wildshape (nor can she summon her animal companion) - they weren't implemented."

    For good reason! As we've discussed :P

    "At this point I also decide to do away with mounts, since they're annoying, tedious and buggy. Very cool idea, though."

    Precisely, hence why they're being removed. Cool idea, problematic in practice.

    "I'm glad I worked out how to reliably have Ronan disable traps before tackling this area. Remember, he must be in Guard Me mode."

    I'm guessing it's because the AI makes "Follow mode" a "do absolutely nothing but follow me" mode -- so your henchmen doesn't see a trap up ahead and decide to go disarm it while ignoring the 58304 enemies beside it that you didn't want to engage.

    "'I now execute him (+396 EXP) basically because I have no option of restraining him for the authorities, which means he'd sail into the golden sunset with half a million gold glinting on his deck (his client paid in advance), and face no justice for his involvement in a conspiracy which could have brought down the Kingdom. Not to mention, his intention was to return in five years when things had cooled off. As a Paladin, I don't think so."

    Agreed. Definitely wished there was an option beyond "Let him go scot free" and "summarily murder someone who surrendered."

    "So yeah, the trio is starting to accumulate some serious wealth now, I hope the author continues to control it - I like making tough decisions on what to purchase from merchants."

    Have you been enchanting the weapons at all? That is supposed to eat a lot of gold.

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    1. Haven't seen any options to enchant weapons (that would make me ridiculously OP..?), but in subsequent updates I've substantially drained my coffers on various purchases (act 3, part I), so, at least as far as the beginning of Act Three, the restraint continues.. well not really, I've got lots of gear I could sell, but I'm hanging onto it inside 8 bags of holding - not because I'm a packrat but because I like to experiment with various loadouts.

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    2. Desmond (Mage Tower, top floor) in Act 2 can enchant weapons (though not in Act 3) and you'll find another person who can enchant weapons in Act 3.

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    3. The elves, just reached them. Thanks!

      Delete
  2. At one stage, Maggie could indeed use wildshape, but then that's all she ever did. Need healing? Wildshape! Facing a monster vulnerable to lightning? Wildshape! To say nothing of the fact if she used wildshape while on a horse, she'd become a twisted horse-monster, neighing her way across the landscape begging for release.

    I never had trouble with Ronan disarming traps - it always seemed to work fine so I'm not sure what's happened in the intervening years. We'll just chalk it up to laziness on Ronan's part.

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    1. I'm sort of surprised you kept Maggie and Hasrinaxx's Shapechange spell slots, as those also seem to have issues, at least in the version I played. I never had a horse when Maggie first started to cast Shapechange (showdown with Castellan). But yeah, it must be a real pain to fiddle with all those little issues...

      Maggie for example refuses to attack while shifted and she tends to blocks corridors and get stuck. Hasrinaxx - in the siege of Highmarch - only VERY RARELY unleashes his elemental repertoire (recounted by me), preferring most of the time just to boringly shapechange and wade into melee with the rest of the mob.

      The detrap issue I had was only with Criosa and Ronan, in the Acts/module where you meet them. Criosa now doesn't need me to have her in Guard Me mode for her to detrap.

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    2. > if she used wildshape while on a horse, she'd become a twisted horse-monster, neighing her way across the landscape begging for release.

      I found this out the hard way with my Shifter. Unshifted, my horse would be suspended overhead, galloping. It was horrible, and irreversible. Had to go back to an old save game several encounters prior (and a good lesson why you don't use quicksave every time).

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  3. I don't have much of a background with NWN or D&D in general but it's interesting to see how much different your combat experiences are compared to mine. You say Veerak is deadly in both ranged and melee but I just used Bigby's Interposing Hand to instantly render him harmless in both fights. On the other hand, the assassin's guild was incredibly difficult for my 10-constitution, 40-ish HP sorcerer since the assassins were better than any other mobs at slipping past my meatshield companions.

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    Replies
    1. Yep, your sorc will probably find the campaign easier than I did as it progresses into the epic phase (providing your spell selection is wise).

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  4. Mmm... I wonder if the game has been updated since or I have a bug. I didn't find several of the treasures you found, specially on the orc hunter (I really wanted that bow, as an elf bard/archane archer). Also, mounts seem to work fine for me, I haven't encountered any bugs, although I wish we had a button to leave the horses in a place without deassigning them.

    But thanks for writing this! I find it very entertaining, specially as I read along I play.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Balkoth has not yet updated the Saga at this point. You could just console in the bow, though you will have to find its item code in the toolset. Good luck, and lemme know how your archer fares. Lucky you are wielding bow and not xbow because powerful bolts are rare if you don't stock up at a certain point.

      Delete

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