Sunday, 18 September 2016

Harp & Chrysanthemum Walkthrough - Part III

Continuing from Harp & Chrysanthemum Walkthrough - Part II.

   F l a m e  S t o n e  C l e a r i n g   

—This grove is a holy site of Sune, the goddess Ianth worships. At its center stands a flaming pillar of stone, guarded by several warriors.

• When you first arrive Ianth reveals that she has visited the grove every ten-day for the past year. She tells you how the Stag Warriors and Knights of the Ruby Rose are both orders of Sune, but worship different aspects of the goddess. Then, she invites you to approach the stone.
• Ascend the slope to the mound's summit and click on the Flame Stone.
• Ianth is troubled because Spring & Summer have gone and, unlike others of her order, she has not received a sacred flower from Sune, a rose that shows her deity's favor and blessing. She doesn't know why and we can do nothing for her at this stage.
• Orcs are loitering on the outskirts of the grove. You can seduce them into giving chase and lure them towards the stone, at which point they will be struck down by flaming bolts from above.
• There is nothing more to be achieved here at this point, so take your leave and head into the woods.

   N o r t h d a r k  W o o d  ( N o r t h )   

Main Quest Phase 2: Harp & Chrysanthemum. We are here to investigate the Zhentarim presence in this area.. to find out how many there are, what provisions they have, and what they are doing encamped around Drawn Swords. We are also here to avenge the death of Vroman's brother, Manfred, who was slain en route to Drawn Swords (from Sunset Vale), when he stumbled upon the Zhentarim.

• Upon arrival in the woods the party is confronted by a hulking Banite priest, Gurkik, backed up by heavily armored Zhentarim guards. Gurkik orders the party to leave or feel Bane's wrath. Ianth accuses him of killing Manfred, but the half-orc says it was in self-defense (i.e, "he was dangerous, he killed some of our men"). Gurkik also denies that the Zhentarim have any interest in Drawn Swords. But then, suddenly, he draws steel.

• You don't have much room to get into some semblance of formation (narrow road with steep banks on either side), but my party won this encounter fairly easily by simply having Ianth charge and tank the mob while the rest hung back to fire their projectiles at Gurkik.
Gurkik: 103 XP, 26 GP, Potion of Cure Moderate Wounds, scroll of Cure Moderate Wounds, Masterwork Warmace.

• You start off on a road in the east section of the map, high up on some hill that overlooks most of the zone. You should spy a few more Zhentarim units nearby; and, indeed, from this height a Zhentarim camp is visible in the west, far below. That's our destination!

• Ianth recommends taking the "less-traveled" route on the south side of the hill, and Vroman and Gossam seem to agree with that, but there is nothing stopping you sticking to the road that leads directly to the camp. We are going to map out the entire zone, anyway.
• Here is what we're up against as we descend the hill to the stream below: one cleric and four guards, then one cleric, one mage and two guards, and then finally five scouts who are nosing about just across the stream.
• Ianth was quite able to tank each pack in succession as both rogues landed their ranged sneak attacks from behind her.

• Note that enemy units may respawn after a time, though only in dribs and drabs.
• Cross the stream and head south towards the camp (there is a transition marker here that leads into the southern Northdark, but don't take it yet).
Zhentarim Encampment. The camp is walled-in and well concealed by the trees and shrubs. You can lure the gate guards away from their posts and slay them without drawing the ire of the other units stationed within the walls, but just watch out for any respawns that may flank you.

• Once that's done you need to take out the Zhentarim Field Marshal, Freusen Esk, and his pet Shadow Mastiff, Beast of Bane. They both charge you from the pavilion. Beware of the latter's fear-inducing howl. An Animate Dead casting from Gossam should help out here because skeleton warriors are pretty good at soaking up blows and doing a bit of damage.
Freusen Esk (201 XP): Freusen's Falchion (+1, on-hit Doom DC-14 5% / 5 rounds).
Shadow Mastiff (134 XP).
• With those two out of commission you should have no problems mopping up the stragglers towards the back of the camp (though they may have already come to Freusen's aid).

• Ok, the camp has been cleared. Head over to the Marshal's tent and loot the place.
Chest (DD DC-17, OL DC-18): 787 GP, assorted gems, Boots of the Unicorn (Hide, Move Silently, Survival, Tumble +2, Good-aligned only), Wand of Missiles.
• Most importantly, click on the Zhentarim Military Portfolio. It reveals that the Zhentarim have lost Darkhold to other forces and are now scattered over 100 miles of land. It does not seem they are directly interested in Drawn Swords, but they may be here in the Northdark to scout out a temporary base of operations. Anyway, the relevant documents are folded into your journal to present to Hamfast when we return to report our findings (200 XP).
• A non-hostile trio now enter the camp: Marcellus, Teurneia & Belforet. Marcellus is an ex-lover of Ianth and also used to be a mercenary in her father's employ. But now the charming fellow works for the Black Network.

• Marcellus thanks the party for doing his dirty work.. it seems Freusen was to be slain by him for secretly worshiping Cyric and conspiring against the Zhentarim (who are of Bane).
• After a bit of back and forth the trio leave the camp in peace to go and collect their payment for Freusen's head.
• Climb the watchtower and take in the view before leaving the enemy camp.

—With the Zhentarim documents in our possession this phase of the main quest has been satisfied, and we must report to Hamfast in order to continue Harp & Chrysathemum.. but first, there are a two other things of interest in northern Northdark: a goblin cave and a side quest. We might as well do them now, while we're here.
• Head southeast along the water's edge, slay a few more Zhentarim units, and cross the water again at the point where rocks are jutting up out of it. Next, wind your way up the steep banks to find a well-hidden cave entrance guarded by goblins. Slay them, unlock the door to the cave (DC-18), and step inside.

   H i l l h o l l e r  C a v e   

• To no surprise the cave is teeming with goblins. Worse still, when you attack them two trolls zero in on your location quite quickly, wondering what the fuss is about. And the worst part is, you are probably lacking the means by which to kill them: fire and acid.
• Luckily, there is a supply of acid flasks in a nearby chest. (Flask of Acid x4).
• This is how I handled the situation: The party slew as many goblins as they could before the trolls lumbered in. Ianth then tanked the trolls while someone else looted the chests for the flasks. By that time Ianth had managed to knock the trolls down to the ground, and so it was just a matter of hurling the flasks at them to finish them off (ranged touch attack). Hardly an elegant solution, but it got the job done.

• Now, head north and open the door at the end of the tunnel to find a goblin shaman waiting in its den, flanked by a couple of zombies and a few elite goblin allies. Slay them all.
Thurgish: 103 XP, Grish-Thurgish (quarterstaff, +1, Cause Fear 1 charge/use).
Harvest the Indigo Hallowscap: Sleight of Hand: DC-17, 100 XP, Indigo Hallowscap (Ethereal Visage [9] single use).
Chest (DD DC-18), 127 GP, gems Chest (OL DC-18): scrolls of Heroism, Haste, Fireball, Divine Favor, Amulet of Namer Auvyrion (Wisdom +1).

   N o r t h d a r k  W o o d  ( N o r t h )   

—Ok there is one last point of interest in the northern Northdark Woods. Climb the rest of the hill and then drop down its northern side to arrive at the river once more. Here you will spot a dryad standing by her tree.

Side Quest: The Dryad's Fire. Voeae the Dryad wishes you to light a fire for her and her beloved. But no one else is in sight. Ask her where the body of her elven lover is and she will tell you he is sleeping, buried beneath her tree. 

• Now, there is basically a peaceful and violent solution to this quest, with the latter being the more rewarding and yielding only 20 fewer XP.
a. Peaceful solution. Pass a Diplomacy, Bluff or Intimidate check (DC-16) to have her free the elf from his burial under the tree. Gilathias the elf will materialize, and she will let him go and be on her way (300 XP). The elf will thank you and tell you his story before leaving to rejoin fellow Evereskan scouts (200 XP).

b. Violent Solution. Light the fire (OR refuse to light it OR tell her you're simply leaving). Again, Gilathias materializes. But this time Voeae turns hostile and you are forced to slay her. For the purposes of this battle the elf is your immortal ally so try to take advantage of that. Dispatch the dryad's Dire Wolf ASAP and then move out of Voeae's Storm of Vengeance AoE. She does pursue the party but you should be able to handle her because her attacks consist mostly of kicks and punches. Voeae's death yields 280 XP, and her corpse is holding an Alexandrite and Scarab of Protection +3 (Saving Throws universal +3). As per the peaceful solution the elf is grateful, tells you his story, and then takes his leave (200 XP).
LEVEL-UP! Each party member reaches their sixth level.
Lilura takes her fifth in Rogue (I also have one level of Fighter), chooses Mobility, and gains Sneak Attack (3d6).
Ianth takes her sixth in Paladin, chooses Cleave, and gains Remove Disease.
Vroman takes his sixth in Rogue, chooses Point Blank Shot, and gains Trap Sense (2).
Gossam takes his sixth in Cleric and and chooses Zen Archery.

• Return to Swordskeep.

   D r a w n  S w o r d s — S w o r d s k e e p   

• Report your findings to the leader and smith of the hamlet, Hamfast Bairnson.

• There is some good dialogue here as Ianth & Gossam console the grieving Vroman, who can't make sense of his brother's death. The party chemistry in this module has been pretty good, thus far.

• Hamfast intends to consult with Sword Dragon innkeeper, Danmar, about the Zhentarim problem we are facing, and requests that you join them for dinner at his house this evening. He offers you 200 GP for your work so far. You should probably take it.

Ok, this concludes the second phase of the main quest: Harp & Chrysanthemum (500 XP, rest bonus: 250 XP).

Continued in Part IV..

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