Thursday, 8 January 2015

The Aielund Saga: Act Four - Part IV


Bracksworth

The town appears to have been deserted before the battle took place. Little remains of the town you once knew. - DM.

A scroll of Raise Dead can be found in the barracks. The Inn can also be entered, but only contains broken furniture.

Both the northern and eastern gates are barricaded, but that's cool because we're not visiting Culdeny or the barbs this time - we're headin' south.


Spartan flutters down in front of us at the south gate...


He promises to aid in our diversionary ploy at Fairloch, also handing us a coin with which we can summon him. With a few mighty wing buffets, Spartan launches himself into the air and is gone.

 

Stepping out of Bracksworth's south gate, we find ourselves once again in the...


Highmarch Foothills


We've been here twice before, the first time hounded by wolves; the second time battling ogres and mountain giants. This time, there is nothing to kill as we follow the road south, west and then north to what was once the entrance to a wolf den. We step into the cave...



Cave


We locate the ancient self-illuminating crystal of which Robert spoke, marking our point of entrance into the water.

I hope this leads somewhere... I don't particularly want to drown in an underground river! - Nellise.

You jump into the water and swim as hard as you can. - DM.



Lowmarch: North


Well, that wasn't so bad, I... oh my, this doesn't look promising at all. - Nellise.

A vast subterranean environment stretches out into the darkness, sort of like a mini-Underdark...

Note the map-size

Well, it beats tromping through a sewer! - Criosa.

A lithe figure approaches and beckons us to follow him.


We refuse to be lured into a trap, so the dual-wielder draws swords even as two of his fellow Drow Nether Elf Rogues ooze out of the darkness. The trio promptly send them to an even darker place.


  • Mysterious Stranger: +100 EXP, Nether Elf Longsword +4 (Keen, Mass crits 1d10).
  • Nether Elf Rogue: +8 EXP ea, Nether Elf Light Crossbow +6 (1d10 crits [2]), Kukri +5 (2), Nether Elf Poisoned Bolts (on-hit DC-22 Slow [52]).
Not far from that point, a pair of wizards and one no-nonsense grunt get the jump on us.
  • Nether Elf Wizards (+10 EXP ea).
  •  Nether Elf Warrior (+850 EXP, Nether Elf Longsword +4).


Venturing deeper into the cavern, Criosa now disables a DC-45 trap.


Just after this, a pair of Beholders drop from the ceiling! They open up with antimagic cone and then spam negative energy from range, knocking us down.


Our MVH implodes them (+450 EXP ea).


Now reaching the cavern's heart, I scope the area out a bit. Looking down from atop a ridge, I spot two non-hostile Vampire Rogues and two Vampire Warriors led by Cadmus, just below, who has them standing in formation.


En route to the vamps this rockfall manages to inflict about 30 dmg on me. Bah!


The passageway opens up into a clearing of sorts in which the vamps begin battle with more Nether Elves, right upon our arrival. (Nether Elf Cleric [+750 EXP], Nether Elf Wizard and a pair each of Nether Elf Rogue and the drider-like Nether Elf Abomination (+350 EXP ea, Mild Poison Arrow [198]). 

We join the friendly vamp side, turning the tide greatly in their favor. The fight is over with quickly.


Cadmus gives us the lowdown on Nether lore, then explains that these dark elves have a Draco-lich at their disposal.


I vow to aid the vamps in destroying the Draco-lich (+800 EXP); and Cadmus explains that a Priestess is in possession of it's phylactery. We agree to meet him and his vamp force in the southern caverns, where we'll join forces against the Nether Elves and Draco-Lich.



 Lowmarch: South


I REALLY hate this place! - Criosa

There is something immensely evil ahead... we must be prepared for the worst! - Nellise.

Rounding a corner we find ourselves face to face with two more Nether Abominations (+350 ea, couple hundred Mild Poison Arrows) and one dual-wielding Nether Abomination Weapon Master (+950 EXP, Nether Elf Longsword +4 [2]) who is not to be trifled with.

This guy is a DPS machine

 

We catch up with Cadmus who now leads us over a bridge that crosses a large underground lake.


*Nellise inhales sharply*  Something wicked this way comes. - Nellise.

Three vamps await us on the opposite side of the bridge... and the Draco-lich.


Wailing on the over-sized bag of bones will drop it, but then it just reanimates - so don't bother.  
 

Instead, we make a bee-line for she who holds the soul jar.

Destroy them my pet, destroy them all! - Nether Elf High Priestess.


One of the rules of D&D: always kill the mouthy one with the phylactery FIRST. She took some killin', though! And her scream as she died echoed cavern-wide and curdled our blood. I take the soul jar from her cold, dead hand and shatter it against the rock wall...


... after which a disc of white light radiates through the cavern...


... causing the Draco-lich to be engulfed in a conflagration (+3000 EXP).


Surviving a heavy fight in the dark with three undeterred warriors finally ends this encounter.


  • Nether Elf High Priestess: +1200 EXP, Nether Elf Flail +5 (on-hit Wounding DC-22, NegEn +1d10), Nether Elf Plate Armor +5 (Haste, Imm: Darkness, Hide +12, CHA -2), Nether Elf Shield, Ring of Fire Resistance.
  • three Nether Elf Warriors: +850 EXP ea, Nether Elf Longsword (3). 
If you're curious, Cadmus can easily die in this fight if left to charge the Draco-lich alone. His weapon is the companion blade wielded by Carthach (Elemental Longsword +4 [+1d4 cold +1d4 elect +1d4 fire]), but Cadmus' is upgraded to +5, does 1d6 elemental and has on-hit DC-16 slay elemental.

We now farewell Cadmus (+2500 EXP) and continue on our underground journey.


Will we ever see the end of this infernal passage? - Criosa.

There was but one last hostile encounter en route to the exit, consisting of four more Nether Abominations and a second Nether Abomination Weapon Master.

 Level Up to 28!

(Epic Characters)

Lilura: Champion of Torm (12) / Paladin (12)/ Fighter (4),  STR +1
Criosa: Rogue (16) / Wizard (12), DEX +1
Nellise: Cleric (26) / Paladin (2), WIS +1
 
The southern exit of Lowmarch is reached
 The daylight blinds us as we transition back to the Hocarum desert.


North of Trinity


Well, aside from the hordes of evil monsters, that wasn't too bad really! See? I can joke around too! - Nellise.


There being nothing else to do here but admire the view, we head southeast into Trinity.


Trinity

My, this place has certainly prospered... after a fashion. - Criosa.

The Villeancourt tent has been replaced by this fancy piece of architecture: 

Honest Hakim - Merchant Prince
Looks like Hakim's done well for himself, he had nothing but a tiny tent pitched in the sand last time we dealt with him. How shrewd to take advantage of the mercs selling off their spoils so cheaply, including some gear that used to be ours? Such business acumen! Ah well, there's no way to demand him to return our items, so I guess we have to pay through the nose... again (Unfavorable Reaction, again!)

Mmm... but nice work salvaging one of the Ironlord's golems.

Please enjoy your shopping experience. Any attempt at theft will be met with swift justice. - Iron Golem.

(But Hakim! You might wanna set it to react to an attack on the proprietor. Not that I, as a Paladin, would have any reason to suspect it doesn't - just sayin'!...)

A reworked Iron Legionnaire

Hakim's buying cap has been increased to 30,000 GP per item. He also purchases "stolen" items of all kinds, including traps and the three portraits painted by Anatole Badeua (~11,000 ea). On top of that, he doesn't seem to run out of money when purchasing our stuff.

What does all this mean? Well, it means we're filthy stinkin' rich! Basically, +600,000 GP (bal = 800,000 GP).

Time now for an epic splurge!

  • Lilura: Nymph's Cloak +6 (CHA +6), Ring of Resistance +3.
  • Nellise: Blessed Vestments of Faith (DR 20/+5, Imm: Death Magic & Level/Ability drain), Boots of Striding +6 (CON +6).
  • Criosa: Ring of Clear Thought +6 (INT +6), Hood of Intellect (INT +6, Saves +1, Conc +10), Amulet of Vitality +6 (Con +6), Belt of Frost Giant Strength (STR +4).
  • Utility items: Potion of Epic Heal (5), Potion of Heal (10), Bag of Holding (4). We can't afford the Fortified Shield of Endurance (400,000 GP); I'll grab it later.
= 700,000 total outlay.

As explained earlier, Trinity is a merc gathering point that stands neutral in Aielund-Tusone affairs. At this point, both the south and west gates are locked, Sahir seems to be off on a expedition and the palace is in lock-down due to drunken mercs. It doesn't matter; we're here just to hire the mercs and then return to Bracksworth - a simple mission from this point, I'd wager. So let's hop to it.

Cooling off in the central oasis

Trinity is currently hosting only three merc groups: the Hellfires, Sand Dragons and Juggernauts. 

One wrong word spoken could cause a riot - some of these mercenaries don't like each other much. Be careful. - patrolling Desert Warrior.

If you're looking for my commander, he's at the command tent in the southeast. - Hellfire merc.

Oh, you're from Aielund aren't you? Shame about the war and all that. - a Sand Dragon.

If you're after our boss, she's at the inn. - a Juggernaut.

Southwest Trinity, and the west gate to Tusone

We skip into the Inn, first.

Traveler's Rest Inn


Ah, I have fond memories of this place! This is where I had the bar-room brawl with Drake, the last living Ironlord Cultist.

This looks like a good place to find mercenaries. Just.. watch your back. And mine, while you're at it. - Criosa.

The Juggernauts are led by the female Half-orc, Viga Sudeten. After emptying our pockets of the 100,000 gold required to hire the group, we are left quite literally broke! (+1500 EXP).

What IS that thing?
Also in the inn...

The Sand dragon leader (Eredel Mason) wants us to kill the Hellfire leader...

Eredel Mason is an awful person
... and the Hellfire leader (Marcus Kanange) wants us to kill the Sand Dragon leader.

Marcus Kanange looks is badass

So as predicted, all three merc leaders are assholes and I share Nellise's disgust of both Eredel and Marcus. These guys've got nothin' on Robert Black...


Anyway, I choose to do Eredel's dirty work for this recounting, since the fight against the Hellfires is harder and more of a spectacle.

Cue buff-fest.

Marcus loves to open up by casting Meteor Swarm followed by Epic Spell: Epic Warding, followed by Epic Spell: Greater Ruin, and then followed by all sorts of nasty stuff.

Thankfully the DR 20/+5 and 50 soak/lvl of the second spell doesn't come complete with an overly long duration.

The white shields = Epic Warding

The Hellfire grunts are obsessed with Criosa - it doesn't matter if I tuck her in the corner, at least one will sniff her out.

Center screen: Greater Ruin
I lay the smackdown on Marcus as Isaac's Greater Missile Storm is hurled by a Hellfire Brigade Sorcerer at my two Henchmen, and Criosa is knockdown-critted by a persistent grunt, and then killed soon after!

Right: Knockdown crit

I mop up the sorc, raise Criosa and sever Marcus' head.

I was praying for Nellise to completely trivalize this battle with a single casting of something like Implosion or Destruction - but neither were forthcoming. Ah well.

Note that it's entirely possible to simply wipe the floor with all three merc groups, thereby yielding all phat lewt (You just have to hire at least one group, then you can kill 'em. I wonder if they still appear at the diversion lol?). However, that isn't exactly "role-playing" a Lawful Good Paladin, is it? Not only would I feel dirty and feel the need to bathe in holy water, I'd also feel cheap. Plus it just doesn't make sense from a story PoV to jeopardize the plan by limiting the diversionary force.
  • Marcus Kanange: +950 EXP, Robes of the Dragon (DR 10/+6, CHA +4, Haste, Conc +12, Sequencer [3 spells] 1/day, Clear Sequencer Unlimited/day ), Third Eye (True Seeing, Search +5), Belt of High Sorcery (Spell Focus: all schools, Bonus spell slots 6-7-8-9, Resist bludg/pierce/slash [5/-]), Wand of Meteor Swarm ([17], 5 charges use), Marcus' head.
  • two Hellfire Mercenaries: (Epic Gloves of Discipline [2], Disc +30), Hellfire Shield (+5 AC shld mod, SR 22, Regenerate [13] 1/day) and one Hellfire Brigade Sorcerer.
I didn't wipe out the other merc groups, but here's their EXP yield and loot if you're curious:
  • Eredel Mason: +1200 EXP, Tainted Short Sword +5 (Neg-en +2d6, Regen +10), Sand Dragon Light Chainmail (Haste, SR 30), Zen +7 longbow (Will saves +6, Mass crits +2d6, Mighty +10), Potion of Epic Healing. 
  • two melee Sand Dragon Mercenaries (Short Sword +4, Arcane Arrows [198]) and two ranged who have Arcane Archer levels and fire Imbue Arrow (Arcane Arrows [198]).
  • Viga Sudeten: (850 EXP) Decapitator +5 (Keen, on-hit vorpal DC-14), Battle Axe +5, Phalanx Plate of Resilience (DR 10/+6, Haste, CON +4, Imm: Knockdown/Paralysis, Regen +3, Barb/Fight only), Phalanx Helm (AC def +5, Imm: Critical Hits, Darkvision, 100,000 GP (if you payed her).
  • three Juggernaut Mercenaries: Razor's Edge +5 (Keen, Mass crits 1d10, on-hit DC-14 Greater Dispelling, +1d10 piercing [2]), Ring of Resistance +3 (3), Greatsword +5 (2).
On the way out I splatter the door guards against the tent's canvas.


The gruesome head of Marcus is now delivered to Eredel (+2500 EXP).


Back outside the inn...

So I heard you hired us. Smart move, we'll kill anyone you want, no questions asked. - a charming Juggernaut merc.

Heading north towards Hakim's and the north gate, we fight off the last of Hellfire trash, including  two last grunts (Epic Gloves of Disipline [2]) and one last brigade sorcerer.

Right: A Celestial Avenger, conjured by the sorc
I still can't afford the Fortified Shield of Endurance from Hakim because I didn't kill all the mercs and take their stuff! I guess I'll come back here later, when I'm cashed up. For now, I use the Stone of Recall to teleport instantly back to the Bracksworth recall point.


Back in Bracksworth


The barracks

10 comments:

  1. "One of the rules of D&D: always kill the mouthy one with the phylactery FIRST."

    I'd be very amused if there was a module where the mouthy one was just a decoy, perhaps with even a fake phylactery.

    "I was praying for Nellise to completely trivalize this battle with a single casting of something like Implosion or Destruction - but neither were forthcoming. Ah well."

    Did you rest after the Lowmarch? Poor girl probably needed a nap.

    "I wonder if they still appear at the diversion lol?"

    No idea. Could check. Talk about powergaming to the max.

    "Plus it just doesn't make sense from a story PoV to jeopardize the plan by limiting the diversionary force."

    Which is probably what Savant was thinking :P

    "two melee Sand Dragon Mercenaries"

    More of them should appear from upstairs if you fight him. Wind up getting like 5-6 stacks of arrows, not 2.

    "I still can't afford the Fortified Shield of Endurance from Hakim because I didn't kill all the mercs and take their stuff!"

    Interesting. Maybe it was the unfavorable roll, but I recall being able to buy anything I needed at the shop. I may also only be remembering recent 2 person multiplayer playthroughs and solo playthroughs, meaning I needed less gear.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We rested before that battle with Marcus, yes. Then she buffed me, but didn't cast much during battle. It was probably a proximity thing.

      Powergaming? I'm holding back gimme some cred. I did an experiment, I killed the Juggernauts after hiring them, then reported back to the General that they were hired, and he was glad lol.

      I did get like four stacks, did you misread? Two arcane archers appeared on the stairs to flank us. Maybe cuz you solo, you get 2 extra for being over leveled?

      For me, Hakim is the hardest to get fave rolls with (then again, my Appraise is minimal). But yeah, that's the reason why I couldn't buy absolutely everything.

      Delete
    2. Maybe, I think the cleric AI doesn't cast offensively if they start meleeing or something.

      "Holding back," eh? I never even considered killing them after hiring them and I'm a hell of a powergamer.

      Ah, I see. I did misread, but that's a very confusing way to phrase it, sneaking in "and two ranged" WITHOUT the bold letters you usually used to indicate NPCs.

      Hakim may be, not sure. Still surprised.

      Delete
    3. I'm slowly working out the nuances of allied AI to the point of being able to second guess what it's gonna do. "Slowly" because it isn't like Aielund Saga's combat has forced me to sit down and work out how allied AI works.

      And I did bold SAND DRAGON MERC, but not the two melee or two ranged. I only bold actual names given by the author, not names I invent for more detail. ;-)

      I'm also not convinced Aielund sensibly balances loot yield with the ability to sell it...

      Delete
    4. "Two melee Sand Dragon Mercenaries (Short Sword +4, Arcane Arrows [198]) and two ranged who have Arcane Archer levels and fire Imbue Arrow (Arcane Arrows [198])."

      Could have read

      "Two melee Sand Dragon Mercenaries (Short Sword +4, Arcane Arrows [198]) and two ranged Sand Dragon Mercenaries who have Arcane Archer levels and fire Imbue Arrow (Arcane Arrows [198])."

      or something!

      What do you mean by the last sentence? You're actually running out of gold to buy stuff at times, and worst case you don't seem to be overflowing. Very different from many mods where you wind up with millions at this point with nothing to spend it on (note that you likely will have that problem in Act 4 Part 3, though).

      Delete
    5. I talk about it in Act Four Part VI update, coming up.

      Delete
  2. I think I had bad luck during my visit in Trinity. I first refused to kill any of the two leaders, so they did not want to talk to me anymore, then screwed diplomatic relation with the third (failed bluff check with mercenary woman, after which she attacked). Then the journal suggested I will have to cope without their support, but somehow Tusonite General in Bracksworth just did not treat the mission as finished. Is not this a plot-related bug?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds like it, yes. I'm wondering if it's because you failed the bluff check AFTER "failing" the other two options (entirely possible Savant assumed you'd deal with the half-orc lady first).

      Delete
  3. Found an error in the game here. Bought the Greater boots of agility from Hakim and they are listed as having Bonus Feat: DM Tool 9

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, but I've already reported it here, comment #190:
      http://forum.bioware.com/topic/501536-aielund-saga-improvements-need-inputfeedback/page-8

      Delete

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