Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Shrouded Sun Walkthrough - Part I


   S H R O U D E D  S U N   
A NWN2 module by Jolly Jenkins 

Part I | Part II

Deep down beneath the earth lays the dark tunnels and caves that make up your home - or what surface dwellers like to call it - the Underdark. You are a denizen of the Underdark that is on the run. Will you be able to out run your pursuers? Or will you join the many cold lifeless corpses that litter the dark hell known as the Underdark?

Jolly Jenkins' Shrouded Sun (2008) is a no-nonsense Underdark adventure designed for thirteenth level characters who must be of Underdark race; ie., Drow (dark elves), Half-drow, Gray Dwarf (duergar) or Deep Gnome (svirfneblin). Without an ECL penalty you will likely reach fifteenth level by its finale.

The adventure at times features brutal encounter design, pitting you against custom umber hulks, mindflayers, cave trolls, beholders, Drow and other deadly denizens of the Underdark, all of which don't hold back in unleashing their full repertoire. Be prepared for your (initially) under-equipped, thirteenth level party to be wiped a few times as you get used to Shrouded Sun's unforgiving nature.

To be clear, this is a combat-centric adventure. Role-playing, storytelling and characterizations are simple and serviceable in Shrouded Sun, with most of the focus and fun coming from killing things and taking their stuff. The module is short but has good pacing. Veteran players can expect to knock it over in just a few hours, depending on how much trouble you have with the lich puzzle...

There are countless grammatical errors that stem from the author not being a native English speaker. I don't deduct points for this because what's going on is never in doubt and it isn't like anyone would have bothered their ass to translate it if the author released it in his native language (which I think is French).

Load times are fast because the areas are not bloated with placeables and fancy effects. After playing Storm of Zehir and other ambitious modules (that tend to go overboard, imo), this is just SO welcome.

For this adventure I chose to roll as Fighter (1) Cleric (12); i.e, a "battle cleric". It worked out well because there are no cleric companions, and so the spells and abilities of the cleric served to complement the party. I chose Earth and Time domains for their respective Stoneskin and Haste spells. When fully buffed up and using the right tactics this build was almost unstoppable, though I can't say the party wasn't wiped a few times. Shrouded Sun is no cakewalk...

Here is my Quickbar setup at the end of the module:


So yeah, lots of buffing was going on...

Note: Those who roll with arcane spellcasters may be in for a difficult time due to the many magic-resistant Underdark foes. Make liberal use of Assay Resistance.

Anyway, let's begin the adventure!

Lobby

• Speak with the Avatar of the Module Maker to have your experience points set to 78,000. This brings Half-drow up to thirteenth level, Gray Dwarf to twelfth, Drow to eleventh and Deep Gnome to tenth (ECL).
Item Strip. You will hear a sound indicating an "item strip"; i.e, imported characters will have their items removed for game balance reasons. If you have no qualms about cheating then drop your items on the ground before speaking to the avatar and then pick them back up afterwards to keep them for the adventure. But that IS cheating.
Chest o' equipment. The storage chest offers some basic items, all of which you should take and try to make use of: Potion of Heal (rare and very useful), Dwarven Waraxe +2, Club +2, Dagger +2 (x2), Scythe +2, Longsword +2, Shortbow +2, Light Crossbow +2, Arrow +2 (x99), Bolt +2 (x99), Leather Armor +2, Scale Mail +2, Mithral Full Plate (mithral heavy armor +2, magic resist 10/-), Light Shield +2 and Magi Robe (AC Arm. Bonus +2, Concentration +4, Regeneration +3). Don't worry about encumbrance: you will soon be joined by companions who can bear the burden (aka pack mules).
• Rest to memorize any spells, buff up, and take your leave of the lobby.

Shrouded Sun Inn

• You begin the adventure in the common room of the Underdark inn known as the Shrouded Sun (after which this module is named). Two companions are currently adventuring with you: Bullhorn & Twilight.


Companion: Bullhorn. Chaotic Neural "battle-hungry" Gray Dwarf (duergar) Fighter (12). Main role: Tank! Give him the biggest baddest armors, the Imaskari Shield, and the Troll Bane dwarven waraxe to wield, which is custom-made for him. Equipment: Dwarven Waraxe +2, Light Shield +3, Bullhorn's Mithral Chain Mail (mithral light armor +3, magical resistance 10/-), Ring of Fortitude +1, Copper Necklace, Potion of Bull's Strength, Potion of Cure Critical Wounds (x2), Wine, Potion of Heal. Bullhorn is the only companion who will stay with you from beginning to end.
CompanionTwilight. Neutral Evil "clever yet heartless" Half-drow Rogue (13). Main role: scouting and utility (Open Lock & Disable Device) and ranged sneak-attacker (bow or xbow). Equipment: Twilight's Armor (light armor +2, Regeneration +3, rogue only), Boots of Reflexes +2, Mithral Short Sword (mithral short sword +3, magical dmg +2), Ring of Protection +1, Longbow, Arrow (x99), Potion of Fox's Cunning, Average Sonic Trap Kit, Average Spike Trap Kit, Healer's Kit +3, Potion of Cure Critical Wounds (x2). Pro-tips: Have him wield a bow because he's too squishy to square up on basically any foe you are gonna encounter. He should be firing elemental arrows whenever possible. Also, access his Skill tab and drag the Search icon to his Quickbar. This is how he detects traps.
Note: Companion multi-classing is not employed but you can select their skills and feats when they level-up (they only gain a couple of levels at the most, anyway).
• Set Puppet mode to ON and Party AI to OFF. This gives you full control of what your companions do in combat, which I think is especially important Shrouded Sun.
• Switch to Strategy cam mode and turn ceilings OFF, Marquee select ON and free cam ON.
Ok, to the situation at hand. You and Bullhorn are being pursued by Matron Mother Jhael of House Kilana for escaping enslavement in her mithral mines. Twilight was the one who aided in your escape. You are at the Shrouded Sun inn in the hope that loremaster Gemcutter may be able to shed some light on the nature of the Cursed Amulet you are wearing, one which you cannot remove from around your neck. The small-talk between you and you companions is rudely interrupted when several Drow step into the inn. They are led by one named Faceless, who calls out and points to you as the one who has caused him "so much suffering." Faceless identifies himself as First Boy of House Kilana and the ex-overseer of slaves at his mother's mithral mines. Matron Jhael punished him for your escape by pouring a potent acid over his face, which is why he now wears a white mask and is called Faceless. In short, he is extremely butthurt and vengeful. It doesn't matter how you respond: a bar-room brawl is inevitable.
Taste the might of House Kilana! This can be a tough battle when you're just starting off. Focus all aggro on Faceless (a wizard) whenever possible because he will teleport away after incurring enough damage, leaving you to slay the four mundane Drow, and Watcher, that remain. Loot their corpses for Fire Arrow (x65), Potion of Cure Critical Wounds (x3), Poison Bolt (x32), Sapphire (x2), scroll of Tenser's Transformation, Wand of the Heavens.


A note on loot. Some treasure is randomized and some important treasure is hand-placed. Treasures that are notable or quest/plot-critical are bolded in purple for readability. Notable item properties, such as blanket immunities, are highlighted in pink.
Quest: Living Dead. When all the hostiles are dead speak with Gemcutter the duergar loremaster (3,000 XP). He requests you deal with the undead troubles in the mines; after which, he promises to inspect the Cursed Amulet you are wearing.
Quest: Dragon's Breath. Also speak with Gromph the duergar bartender. He gives you the key to the vault known as the "Icebox" and requests that you retrieve a bottle of Dragon's Breath hard liquor from it.
Vendor. Gromph offers limited wares for sale: utility potions, Greater Magic Bag, Magic Pouch and +2 arrows and bolts. ID'ing items costs 200 GP. Gromph can pay a max of 30,000 GP for any given item, and seems to have infinite buying power.
Lodgings. Your room is currently locked and you won't be able to access it until after you have completed the Living Dead quest. You can rest in the common room free of charge, anyway. The room opposite yours is Gemcutter's.
• Anyway, rest, buff up and take your leave of the inn. First up, we're gonna tackle the Dragon's Breath quest.

Underdark

Pro-tips. The Underdark is dark! Who would have thunk it? Make liberal use of the Light spell unless you like groping around in the dark.
• The party will find themselves in the southern section of the main dungeon, with the Supply Room to the north and the Undead Lair to the east.
• Hunt down the Enraged Umber Hulk patrolling the southeastern quadrant and loots its corpse for Topaz, 264 GP and the Umber Hulk Hide Half Plate (half plate +3, Immunity: Mind-Affecting). This grants the wearer immunity to umber hulk DC-16 confusion gaze, which can be deadly.
• Make your way to the Supply Room Entrance in the northwest (check your map markers).

Icebox

• You will arrive in the supply room to find that several cave trolls are also searching for the Dragon's Breath liquor. The boss of the trolls, a fell variant named Bog, orders you to retrieve the liquor for him in exchange for not becoming his next meal. Just agree for now.


• Loot the place. Chest (DD DC-31, OL DC-37): Troll Bane (dwarven waraxe +3, +1d4 fire, +4 to-hit vs. Giants, Light), Lightning Arrow (x99), Spirits, Potion of Cure Critical Wounds, scrolls of Acid Fog & Call Lightning Storm. Chest: Thick Leather Garment (Cold 75% immunity, Fire 100% vulnerability), Boots of Reflexes +3, Cape of Winter (All saving throws +2, Cold resistance 10/-).
• Give the fiery axe to the duergar, for whom it is custom-made.
Don the two anti-freeze items, proceed down the frozen passageway, pass by Jokku the Frozen Troll, and loot the liquor crate at the far end for two bottles of Dragon's Breath. A hostile orglash will spawn as a security measure; slay it. (Not donning the anti-freeze items means you incur 1000 damage, btw.)
• It's best not to give Bog one of the bottles because the trolls just leave for the surface, and there is no reward; so, slay them instead.
Bog (fell troll): Greater Archer's Belt (piercing resistance 20/-), Composite Longbow +3, Potion of Cure Critical Wounds, Lightning Arrow (x97).
Trolls: Potion of Cure Critical Wounds, Gold Ring, Topaz, Sapphire, Alexandrite, Silver Necklace, 51 GP.
• Return to Gromph the bartender for your reward.
(Completed Quest: Dragon's Breath - 2,500 XP & 1,000 GP).
• Ok, let's do the other the quest, the one for Gemcutter: Living Dead. Return to the Underdark and make your way to the other side of the main dungeon, slaying the umber hulks, cave trolls and beholder en route to the Undead Lair.

Undead Lair

Note: Once you enter this place you cannot leave until you are done with it. Upon entry you will be greeted by your third prospective companion, Weave - and an Alhoon, an "illithilich".


Companion: Weave. Lawful Good Aasimar Wizard (12). Equipment: Quarterstaff, Wizard's Robe (AC arm. bonus +2, +3 vs. Evil, Darkvision, Intelligence +2, planetouched/wiz only), Bracers of Armor +2. (Don't get too attached to her because she is actually a doppelganger.)
Alhoon Puzzle. Ok, this segment is a MAJOR pain in the ass. What you need to do first is deal with the hostile Alhoon, an incredibly powerful foe to go up against at this humble level range. This undead-psion is capable of instilling fear, turning ethereal (cannot be targeted), summoning a vampire warrior or warlock (formidable foes in themselves), and casting party-wipers like Horrid Wilting. You need to get in its face and smack it down QUICKLY or you're going to be in for a world of hurt. Of course, this thing is a LICH, so, as per lich-lore, it's just gonna respawn over and over again until you destroy its phylactery. But the soul housing (aka phylactery) is invincible and also guarded by an iron golem. How the hell do you destroy it? Well, the clue is given when you click on the unlit brazier nearby to the soul housing.

Start with one and move onto many.
Then the blue flame shall be seen.

• But what does that mean? Well, exploration of the dungeon will reveal four chambers that each contain a number of pillars and a single chest. Firstly, you need to go to the chamber that contains one pillar and loot the unlocked chest for the Ancient Key. This chest also holds the Gemsword (greatsword +3, +1d6 electrical), btw. Then, you need to go to the chamber that contains two pillars and use the key on its locked chest to receive the next key. Get it? The fourth chest is holding the Torch of Dispel with which you can light the brazier to make the soul housing vulnerable to your attacks. You will then need to slay the Alhoon again in order to vanquish it, utterly.
All of this is easier said that done. For one thing, exploration is made more difficult by the respawning Alhoon who is almost always hot on your heels and mad as hell. Two, there are two non-trivial undead mobs lurking on either side of the dungeon who are rather effective at impeding your progress through it. Three, the iron golem guarding the soul housing is one tough mutha. Btw, it drops a Wand of Missiles, 278 GP and the Iron Golem Helmet (AC def. bonus +1, Concentration +3, Acid Fog [11] 1/day).  


The key to success in this place is speed and stealth. You really don't won't to deal with the Alhoon more than twice, three times at the most. It just drains too much of your resources (though you can rest in the dungeon if you manage to escape the aggro and tuck yourself away in a corner somewhere). Haste yourself and quaff a Potion of Invisibility (Gromph) as you go about your business of getting the keys. That way you can fly by the aggro like a thief in the night as you solve the puzzle (except for the Alhoon which has innate True Seeing).
Chest: Potion of Heal, scrolls of Sound Burst and Greater Dispelling.
• Anyway, destroying the soul housing also breaks the ward on the nearby door. Beware the DC-36 proximity trap here.
• Having used you to escape the Alhoon, Weave will now expose herself as a doppelganger when you reach the next passageway. She may attack or simply disappear into the shadows. But either way, you are done with her.
The Death Tyrant. Speak with the Death Tyrant in the treasure room. It recognizes your amulet as once being around the neck of its master, the Alhoon. Slay it for the Eye of the Beholder (Greater Dispelling [15] 1 charge/use, True Seeing [9], 1/day).


Two Drow Corpses: Zalantar Light Crossbow (zalantar light crossbow +3, Dexterity +1), Bolt of Lightning (x38), Sharpshadow Blade (dagger +3, +1d4 negative energy, Hide +5, Move Silently +5).
• Speak with Belith of the Bladed Coin Mercenaries. He is trapped within an arcane circle. You will learn that Twilight was a traitor to the Order and that the mercs were raiding the undead lair on behalf of Matron Jhael of House Kilana, who employed them to recover the Alhoon's Banisher's Coin and the Cursed Amulet that you are wearing. Jhael is now in possession of the former.
• When this dialogue is over you will be timelapsed back to the Shrouded Sun inn.

Shrouded Sun Inn

• Inform Gemcutter of your success in neutralizing the undead threat to his inn. He promises to inspect your amulet in the morning.
(Completed Quest: The Living Dead - 4,000 XP). The party leveled-up here.
• Rest in your lodgings for the night.

Continued in Part II..

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