Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Aielund Saga: Act Four - Part III



The Eastern Front: a gloomy marshland.


Here the trio meet up with a Tusonite Cleric (Cleric [10]/Monk [6]) and two Tusonite Footsoldiers (Fighter [12]) who have been ordered to accompany me into battle, if I so request them to. I don't bother recruiting them, though. Moreover, Nellise and Criosa now buff me fully in readiness for what I decide this time will be a solo mission, at least at first.

 

Under the effects of Improved Invisibility, I leave my five allies behind and pass over a bridge into the thick of things. You can see all Aielundian units highlighted in red, including four patrolling skirmishers in the foreground and four halberdiers, two war clerics and one war wizard encamped in the distance.

 

My first mark is - to no surprise - the war wizard, whose face I plant in the dirt before he could even raise a bristling eyebrow.

 

Now in plain sight of my foes, I rotate 180 degrees and smack down one of the two war clerics, after which I find myself boxed in by halberdiers and four more skirmishers who were undetectably blended into the swampy flora before the commotion began. Not to worry, I am a tank coated in Greater Stoneskin - these poor bastards can barely put a scratch on me. I take em out, one-by-one.

 

As I single-handedly fight off halberdier reinforcements and knights, my old merc-friend Robert Black thunders in from the north to join the fray. The fanatical Aielundian units maintain morale, however, and fight to the bitter end.

 

Most enemy units in this battle yielded +15 EXP ea when killed.

Campsite receptacles and corpses of the many fallen are now looted with relish.
  • War Wizard: Grey Wizard's Robe, Ring of Protection +3, Wizard's Sidearm +1 crossbow.
  • Skirmishers: Composite Longbow +5, Composite Longbow +1 (2), Dagger +2 (3), Longsword +2 (3), Arrow +5 (293), Enhanced Camouflage Armor (Haste, bonus ranger spells 1-2-3-4, Hide/Move Silently +8, Ranger only).
  • War Cleric: Boots of Traveling (AC dodg 2), Bolt +5 (99).
  • Iron-bound chest with heavy lock (DC-DT40/OL45): Robe of the Archmagi and Greater Stoneskin, Bigby's Crushing Hand, Resurrection (2) scrolls.
  • Crates: Strong Spike Trap Kit (2), Strong Tangle Trap Kit, Strong Frost Trap Kit, Deadly Fire Trap Kit, Potion of Heal (3), other trivial treasure.
Robert is revealed to be the "trusted vassal" with whom King Osric sent me to rendezvous. He also warns of a second enemy wave approaching...

 

Aielund's forces are this time headed up by archmage Auberon (and Ignatius!) whom we met in Amalis.

It goes without saying I make a bee-line for Auberon.

 

Before the archmage can so much as whip out his staff, he is critically stabbed in the guts for 70 dmg.

Bugger this! - Auberon.

*Auberon goes ethereal and leaves battle* 

(I hate it when they do that!)

 

As the battle wages on, Nellise and Criosa create a hell hole for our enemies to wail and burn in (Firestorm/Fireball combo).

 

Three Aielund Knight-Commanders then charge us in a bold attempt to turn the tide, but are immobilized by my casting of Earthquake from the Ring of Elemental Earth, and then beaten to a pulp while on their asses (+380 EXP, Knight's Full Plate, Knighthood Tower Shield +3 ea).

With the battle ended, Nellise and Criosa are now ordered to auto-loot corpses, coming up with a few hundred +5 bolts.

We high-five Robert Black and enjoy an amusing convo with him before heading off to meet with General Duquesne at the Tusonite Camp.

+10,000 EXP

  

Level Up to 27!

(Epic Characters)

Lilura: Champion of Torm (11) / Paladin (12)/ Fighter (4), Great Strength II
Criosa: Rogue (15) / Wizard (12), Sneak Attack (+8d6)
Nellise: Cleric (25) / Paladin (2), Great Wisdom II


Tusonite Camp: West of Bracksworth


The music here is one of the most famous and unforgettable of NWN tracks, the one that plays majestically in Lith'Myathar of Chapter 2 HotU. It is also well selected for this segment of Aielund Saga.

Robert Black wanders off to the General's tent, but the trio have a little nose around camp, first, before getting down to business.



Visibly occupying the camp itself are eight foot soldiers, four chevaliers, three archers, two clerics, one bombardier, one quartermaster and nine pack oxes.



Our new bombards will be more than enough for their fortifications. - a proud Bombardier.


 

A herd of unhitched pack-oxes graze relaxingly under a tree canopy.


Loot is now sold off to the camp Quartermaster. I also splash out on gear for Criosa (Ring of Protection +5, Amulet of Natural Armor +5 and Ring of Clear Thought +4) and Nellise (Mighty Crossbow of Speed +5 [Bonus Feat: Rapid Reload, Mighty +4, Mass Crits 1d10]). Our wealth has been kept around the 200,000 GP mark.

We stroll over to and enter General Duquesne's command post.


Introductions...


We learn from the General that in order to proceed south to Trinity we must first take the town of Bracksworth (where our adventure began, all those years ago...)


We also learn from the General that we cannot head south through Fort Highmarch, but according to Robert we can go under it, by braving the infamous Lowmarch - a system of deep caverns which wind all the way to Trinity! The journey won't be easy, but we're sort of used to "roughing it" by now.


Time to get some shut-eye; our attack on Bracksworth will begin at first light tomorrow.


The Battle of Bracksworth


We've traveled 15 miles east of our camp to arrive here, just outside of Bracksworth.


The Aielundian force is led by our good old friend, Commander Dante Colt, along with the elven Mona Te'Rei and Priestess Celeste (both of whom we've previously helped and been on friendly terms with). Those three are bolstered by six rangers and three siege engineers operating the catapults behind the wall. The General asks us to parley with Dante.


Quite a defensive setup they've got here. This could be a tough fight. Watch your back. - Robert Black.

The trio buff up, then march towards Dante's Aielundian force.

Don't shoot! Let them approach. - Commander Dante Colt.

 

I fail my persuasion check on Dante, dammit!


Remember Priestess Celeste, from the Culdeny chapterhouse? Well, she's a bit of a hard-liner now. Nellise attempts to snap her out of Ironlord fundamentalism, but also fails.


Mona has also decided to stand by Dante's side, no matter what. She loves him, what can we do?

Shaking their heads in disbelief, the trio march back to the Tusonite force to deliver this news to the General: Dante's crew will not back down.


Suddenly, three fireballs launch into the sky and arc over and down toward us! IT'S ON! 

Sacrebleu! They have started firing! ALL BOMBARDIERS COMMENCE FIRING! Infantry... ADVANCE! - General Duquesne.

(Sacrebleu is a very old French profanity meant as a cry of surprise or anger. - Wikipedia.)


We rapidly advance towards the "enemy" with me as spearhead - outrunning the mounted Chevaliers.


Dante strides out to meet the cavalry, expertly firing piercing volleys from his Thunderstrike longbow as I charge straight past him and towards Celeste, my primary target.


Celeste super-humanly managed to conjure a water elemental and unleash Storm of Vengeance followed by Firestorm before the mighty blows from my sword sent her flying backwards into the dirt (+250 EXP). In the background, you can see Dante has since tucked away Thunderstike and drawn out his Bastion of Power greatsword to wreak havoc on the Tusonites.

I love this screenshot

I now ignore the nearby Mona and turn to flank Dante - who is holding his own against the Tusonite Chevaliers despite being outnumbered - ending him with a 67 dmg crit (+650 EXP). In the background, Nellise and Criosa are keeping the desperate Mona busy, the third and last high priority target in this battle.


As I stride over to hasten Mona's demise, the poor elf is incinerated by bombard fire (+0 EXP).

 

The remainder of the rangers are now mopped up both external to and behind the walls, along with the three siege engineers (paltry EXP ea).

 

Victorious, we stand atop a lookout within Bracksworth's walls, overlooking what was once the town paddocks - and fondly remembering the farm-hands disguised in cow costume! How Nellise and I miss those carefree days, life seemed so much simpler back then! We shed a tear for our good friend, Dante. I can't believe he had to die, and by my hand... forgive me, my friend. This has been a dark day...


Robert Black now hands us King Osric's seal, which gives us the authority to represent the King when dealing with others. The merc also hands us a Stone of Recall and Recall Gem. At this point he can rejoin the party, but I'm sticking with the Angelic Trio.


We return to the Tusonite General for our reward (+800 EXP, +2500 EXP), concluding the Battle of Bracksworth segment.


Epic loot is epic:

  • Dante Colt: Enhanced Camouflage Armor (Haste, bonus ranger spells 1-2-3-4, Hide/Move Silently +8, Ranger only), Bastion of Power +4 greatsword [+10 magical vs. constructs], Greater Boots of Agility (+4 DEX, Improved Evasion), Thunderstrike +5 longbow (Mass crits 2d12, Mighty +5, Unlimited arrow: 1d6 lightning, Great Thunderclap [13] 1/day) Ring of Power (Resist cold/ele/fire 15/-, Regen +1, Freedom), Ring of Protection +5. 
  • High Priestess Celeste Patterson: Angelfyre +5 scimitar (Holy Avenger, on-hit DC-16 slay Evil), Divine Halfplate (+5 AB, Haste, Imm: Level/ability drain, Greater Planar Binding [15] 1/day), Periapt of Wisdom +6 (WIS +6), Divine Ring of Holiness (Bonus cleric spells 5/6/7/8/9), Bolt +5 (99).
  • Mona Te'rei: Deathwind +5 shortbow (Bonus feat: Crippling Strike, Mass crits 20), Elfblade +4 longsword (on-hit DC-20 Stun, Elf/Half-elf only), Faithblade +4 short sword (+1d6 vs. Evil, Good/Neutral only, Word of Faith 1/day), Greater Belt of Guiding Light (Imm: Death Magic/Fear, +4 Spot, Search, Listen, Lore), Arrow of Piercing (99), Arrow of Intense Cold (99).
  • Arrow +4 (300+).
Nellise is now gifted with Periapt of Wisdom +6, Divine Ring of Holiness and Divine Halfplate; Criosa with the Deathwind shortbow, Greater Belt of Guiding Light and Greater Boots of Agility.

Each member of the trio now has Haste bestowed upon them by their armor.


22 comments:

  1. It's a pity you didn't take Robert with you, just to experience the romance subplot (since you're playing a female character). Some of my best work in the series :)

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    Replies
    1. Cue her trying it and complaining about how no woman would fall for that or something! Playing with fire here, Savant!

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    2. I guess I could do a separate blogpost detailing the romance, but I generally got put off RPG romances in general with Bioware's BG2, and these have now culminated in romance sims... I DO regret not bringing Robert (loved his comments, and Dante's), but then I would have regretted not having Criosa or Nellise!

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    3. Playing a CoT and bringing a high level cleric with you - do not be surprised if the series has felt too easy :P

      My romance plots aren't like other mods, I'm sure you'd get a laugh out of it ;)

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    4. ok, well I can look into it, but probably recount as a separate post. How much of the Saga will I have to replay, does the romance with Robert begin in earlier Acts or can I just begin it.. when?

      Heading into this Saga, I read from a variety of sources that the combat was HARD. I guess those people were noobs, huh?

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    5. Act 3 has the beginning of the romance plots. Robert's starts just south of Culdeny, Criosa's in the Valley of Silence I think.

      At this point of NWN's existence I'm sure a lot of people have figured out how to wtfpwn pretty much any mod they play ;) It's NWN and 3rd edition's fault for terrible class balance imho. Can't make a mod that is balanced for every character variation, especially for CoT and other OP classes. It's things like this that made me start designing my own rpg lol

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    6. Wait, all the way back there? Ugh. I'll see how I go, might even get totally burned out if Act Four gets boring. Just kiddin', this is great.

      Just to be clear, though: I didn't bring Nellise along for "dat OPness!", I brought her along cuz spellcasters (and rogues) are just SO much more interesting and versatile in combat than grunts like Dante, Robert, Sir William, Spartan and Valennia - all of whom would also need healing during/after battle, I suspect. Not fun! Why so many warriors, btw?

      And actually, your Saga DOES seem to have the odd difficulty spike, for me anyway (a NWN noob), where I didn't expect to find them... the duergar coven in Stoneguard was a good example, did you giggle your ass off placing down five wizards in one area? The prob is difficulty isn't sustained. I realize that's extremely difficult to tailor, though. BUT.. while I find most of the combat easy, almost all of it is fun. Congrats on that!

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    7. I did my best with the tools at my disposal :) And of course you took Nellise, she's the only available cleric! Also a lovely person, as paladin clerics are. Yes 3e also had terribly boring non-caster classes too, guh, what a badly thought-out system.

      I put in a lot of fighters as I had those characters in mind which fight that role. The old knight, the female barbarian, the drunken ranger, the warrior dragon and the wily mercenary. I guess I could have put in an extra spellcaster or two! I guess I wanted to keep Aielund a sort of low-magic world where spellcasters were rarer. You don't get a wizard npc til act 4 part 3 so yeah.

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    8. I meant 'fit' that role btw!

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    9. I thought it might have been cuz it's easier to balance encounters for warriors since their limitations are clear, but I think a dwarf monk would have been cool (monastery nearby) and gnome gadgeteers or bard are always adored. The gnome could have given lots of flavor to all the ancient devices and military equipment found in the saga - and bards are so versatile with UMD and always good to write for (poems etc).

      New post up btw:

      http://lilura1.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/the-aielund-saga-act-four-part-iv.html

      Oh, and I don't mean to "criticize" - just throwin' ideas around. Feel free to criticize my blogposts, though! ;)

      Delete
    10. "Heading into this Saga, I read from a variety of sources that the combat was HARD. I guess those people were noobs, huh?"

      "At this point of NWN's existence I'm sure a lot of people have figured out how to wtfpwn pretty much any mod they play ;)"

      It's more the former than the latter, really. For example, a mistake I see a lot of people make -- they don't realize how much an AC is worth. They think "Oh, it's only 2 more AC" when having 2 AC means you take like 20% less damage. So you see stuff like a fighter wearing a Scarab of Protection (+1 saves) over an Amulet of Natural Armor (+1 AC). That's not the end of the world, taking 10-15% more damage usually isn't a problem.

      But then you get to higher level and now it's +5 saves versus +5 AC -- and suddenly you're taking nearly double the damage you should because you don't realize how important AC is.

      "Can't make a mod that is balanced for every character variation, especially for CoT and other OP classes."

      Well, you technically can (or come pretty close to it) if you're willing to actually tweak the classes (hammer down some nails, buff up some of the weakest stuff). You can accomplish a lot with not that many changes. Not perfect, but massively better.

      And module design can help a lot -- look at the difference between the NWN campaigns and Aielund.

      "Why so many warriors, btw?"

      Apparently Savant had a different reason, but I always figured it was because they were a staple of the party -- especially in a somewhat limited rest environment. Someone who could avoid more hits, soak up the hits that did connect, and dish out consistent damage.

      Ergo you need a Dante in Act 1 and Robert in Act 4 in case the PC isn't a warrior.

      In Act 2, 2/3 of the alignments can't recruit Sir William (only LG/LN/NG) and the idea of a Dragon henchmen probably just sounded cool (but he won't join evil characters). Hence Valennia in Act 2 and Robert in Act 3.

      Interesting to see my reasoning was completely off the mark.

      "BUT.. while I find most of the combat easy, almost all of it is fun. Congrats on that!"

      Echoing that, which is why I've played it so many times both in single player and multiplayer. Not because I find it challenging, but because I find it fun.

      "I guess I wanted to keep Aielund a sort of low-magic world where spellcasters were rarer. You don't get a wizard npc til act 4 part 3 so yeah."

      I thought that might be part of it, also wondered if the fact that AI controlled arcane spellcasters usually suck at low levels also factored in.

      Delete
  2. "I don't bother recruiting them, though."

    Could have and taken their +3 Tower Shields!

    "I fail my persuasion check on Dante, dammit!"

    The sad thing is that it's only supposed to be of "medium" difficulty -- and you're a paladin with it as a class skill and high charisma. This is exactly the kind of issue I was talking about.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, I could have looted them of much more than shields, too. But for some odd reason I just didn't.

      My Persuade is only 5, though. And I only typed "dammit" cuz I failed the check, NOT because I believe I SHOULD have succeeded. I can accept a failed check, it's part of the game.

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    2. I mention the shields specifically because you still have a mundane shield at that point -- the shield is actually a gear upgrade, unlike the rest of their stuff.

      Ah, and here I was foolish enough to think you had actually fully invested in the skill. So yeah, you had absolutely zero chance of success. One thing I never liked about that dialogue either was that you HAD to have Persuade to succeed. You cannot success with just Bluff or Intimidate...but you can succeed with Persuade alone.

      Unless Savant objects, greatly tempted to alter the conversation in terms of where the checks are so that you can get to the Bluff/Intimidate checks without having to succeed on a Persuade check first. So you could use any of the three.

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    3. Cheers for Author of Aielund Saga. Dialogues before battle of Bracksford are really well written -- very emotional and believable. I managed to convince Dante to step aside thanks to a few levels of Paladin (taken for Persuade 25 and whacking capability) of my Sorcerer. Having read that Lilura had to fight in spite of playing pure Paladin, I feared the worst, but then I managed to save my old pal :) As to inability to Bluff/Intimidate to make this conversation work I do not see the problem with this particular part of the plot, as I believe in real world sometimes it is only sincere persuasion (that stimulates positive emotions, ie. irrational instincts of the heart) and not reference to sb's fear (Intimidate) or ignorance (Bluff) that saves the situation. Dante was emotional, but not cowardly. Having this in mind, there still might be a way to change this conversation without depriving it of its dramatism.

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    4. Keep in mind Lilura didn't take any points in Persuade :P

      Greg, the problem I was pointing out was that if you have Persuade, you don't need Intimidate or Bluff. You can get through with just Persuade. However, you cannot get through with just Intimidate or Bluff -- you need Persuade just to hit those checks. But if you need Persuade to get there...then what's the point of needing Intimidate or Bluff since you can do the whole thing with Persuade anyway?

      Real world wise, Bluff often stimulates positive emotions and irrational instants of the heart too. Intimidate tends to be negative emotions but can still be stimulating irrational instincts of the heart.

      Nor in this case does Intimidate have to do with Dante being a coward -- Intimidation would likely more reference convincing Dante that he has no hope of winning and that throwing his troops' lives away would be pointless. Even if *he* would prefer to fight and die, does he want all of his men and women to die too? For no good reason? Failing to intimidate Dante would probably result in him still thinking that his forces still have a *chance* at winning or at the very least could do enough damage to the invading force that dying there would serve a purpose.

      Delete
    5. "Keep in mind Lilura didn't take any points in Persuade :P"

      I'm not sure why I didn't... maybe not enough skills points to distribute, or I just forgot. Don't have access to my savefiles atm to check.

      I intend to play Bard in my next game, so I'll make sure I have Persuade for that.

      Another bad thing about Dante was that I killed him dishonorably, a Paladin striking from behind as he was engaged with others (see screenshot). I facepalmed when I uploaded that shot :P

      Delete
    6. "Another bad thing about Dante was that I killed him dishonorably, a Paladin striking from behind as he was engaged with others (see screenshot). I facepalmed when I uploaded that shot :P"

      Don't worry, your "I AM EVIL" skull helmet kept your identity hidden.

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    7. Thanks, I feel so much better now... :P

      Delete
    8. Auberon never teleported away for me. He simply turned non-hostile and watched the rest of the battle. I was expecting him to surrender when the fight was over or something, but he just waited until I advanced to the next area by talking to Robert. I think this might have happened because he was paralyzed at the moment his health got low enough to teleport.

      Hilariously, he had summoned a mummy warrior, which also became non-hostile and just watched the fight.

      Delete
    9. "I think this might have happened because he was paralyzed at the moment his health got low enough to teleport."

      I'd assume so. The code probably just tells him to teleport away but the paralysis prevented him from taking the action and it never repeated the teleport command.

      Delete
  3. I also failed the persuasion with 10 CHA and 12 ranks in the skill.

    For information, Mona is worth 250XP.

    ReplyDelete

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