Thursday, 10 November 2016

The Shadowdancer's Vault for Neverwinter Nights 2 Walkthrough Guide Review - Part I

The Shadowdancer's Vault for Neverwinter Nights 2 Walkthrough Guide Review - Part I

Part I | Part II

A fortress known to only the oldest of gods, the Shadowdancer's Vault lays a thick veil over the Underdark’s darkest secrets. Countless have tried to find it, only to fail miserably... and those who do manage to enter the Vault... never come out. Will you be able to find the Shadowdancer's Vault before it is too late? Or will your many enemies, old and new, bring you down?

Jolly Jenkins' Shadowdancer's Vault (SDV) (2008) is the sequel to Shrouded Sun. It is a no-nonsense Underdark adventure designed for fifteenth level characters who must be of Underdark race; ie., Drow (dark elves), Half-drow, Gray Dwarf (duergar) or Deep Gnome (svirfneblin). You can expect to gain two levels over its course, which is the same as in SS.

For the sequel I shall be importing the "battle cleric" that I took through Shrouded Sun, a Fighter (1) Cleric (14).

Notes (this section to be expanded):
• In several cases the module allows you to force-attack and slay non-hostiles thanks to the author not flagging them as plot-critical. Doing so can obviously break the campaign if you slay such an NPC, so don't do it unless I say it's ok in the walkthrough.
• Many enemies sport concealment; ergo, Blind-Fight is a great feat to have on your melee guys. Have Bullhorn take it on his first level-up opportunity.
• For Screed's level-up I had him take Empower Spell & Maximize Spell feats, and IGMS & Greater Invisibility spells. It worked out well.
• Enemies will not only bash down doors to get to you, they will also bash them down in an attempt to flee from you. The latter can cause them to attract reinforcements to your position, which is always bad.
• Both SS and SDV would have benefited massively from perma-death and rest restrictions in their dungeons, a la Swordflight.

Anyway, let's begin the adventure!


Set XP. If you are not of fifteenth level speak with the Avatar of the Module Maker to have your experience points set to 105,000.
Item Strip. The item strip is not enforced in SDV, meaning you can keep your hard-earned items and gold from Shrouded Sun
Vendor. Newly-created or "stripped" builds will receive 75,000 GP with which to purchase equipment from the Avatar, who offers a range of +3 items for sale.
• When you're done take your leave of the Lobby to begin the actual adventure.


Drow Torture Chamber. You find yourself standing in the middle of a torture chamber, bound by an arcane circle. You have been interrogated and tortured for the last three months by Matron Mother Jhael of House Kilana, who is hellbent on learning about your Cursed Amulet and "the vault". A Ulitharid will enter the chamber and probe the amulet, discovering that it holds powers that could allow the illithid to regain their former glory. Suddenly, a demi-human spirit bursts out of the amulet to chase off the Ulitharid, which doesn't care because its work here is done (it managed to broadcast its discovery to the hivemind). Before dispersing the spirit commands you to escape the prison, find Gemcutter, and inform him that "The Sun is Dead".

Quest: Underweb - Prison Break. Now you must orchestrate a jail break. The spirit has broken the ward binding you and the door to this chamber has been left open by the Ulitharid, so that's a good start. Step into the hall lined with locked jail cells and lay waste to the trio of Drow guards patrolling it.
Drow loot: Thieves' Hood (Immunity: Knockdown, Immunity: Poison, Concentration +2, Open Lock +4, Search +4, rogue only), Scarab of Protection +3, Liber Occultatum (recipe book), Drow Poison Arrow (x198), Potion of Cure Critical Wounds, Copper Ring, Copper Necklace.
• Proceed north to the Warden's Office, crush the Bebilith pet within, and loot its crumpled corpse for 493 GP.
Faceless! Probe the ghost of Faceless for info on the Underweb, Warden Verda (his sister) and the location of the key to the prison. He will give you the passphrase for her nearby chest ("Lloth is Life"). When you speak the passphrase aloud the ward on the chest will break, but so will the wards binding Faceless. Destroy the ghost of Faceless ("I fail... yet again") and loot the chest for the Prison Key, Great Sword +3, Short Sword +3, Mace +3, Potion of Cure Critical Wounds, Bolt of Frostbite (x34), Drow Poison Arrow (x12), scroll of Death Armor.

Free your companions!
Companion: Bullhorn. Chaotic Neural "battle-hungry" Gray Dwarf (duergar) Fighter (14). Main role: Tank! Give him the heaviest armors, the Imaskari Shield, and the Troll Bane dwarven waraxe to wield, which is custom-made for him. Equipment: Bullhorn's Mithral Chain Mail (mithral light armor +3, magical resistance 10/-), Amulet of Natural Armor +3. Bullhorn sticks with you through thick and thin, from the beginning of Shrouded Sun, to the end of SDV.
CompanionTwilight. Neutral Evil "clever yet heartless" Half-drow Rogue (13). Main role: scouting and utility (Open Lock & Disable Device) and dual-wielding sneak-attacker (or ranged if you think he's a lil' too squishy). Equipment: Twilight's Armor (light armor +2, Regeneration +3, rogue only). Tip: Access his Skill tab and drag the Search icon to his Quickbar. This is how he detects traps.
Companion: Sasha. Neutral Good Drow Cleric of Eilistraee (13). Main role: Healbot & buffer. Domains: Sun & Healing. Equipment: Sasha's Armor (iron heavy armor +3, Resist magical 10/-, Concentration +7, cleric/good). Tip: Sasha has taken ranks in Lore for ID'ing items.
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 in The Shadowdancer's Vault.
• Switch to Strategy cam mode and turn ceilings OFF, Marquee select ON and free cam ON.
• Ok, explore the rest of this section. Gob Gob the goblin is holed up in one of the cells. Free it and it will join the party as a "summons". Don't expect this weak-ass to last long, though.
• In one of the other cells you will witness Erdips the Spider King feeding chunks of orc flesh to spiders. Slay this grub.
• The door at the southern end of the halls opens to the barracks holding four Drow. You know what to do!
Weapon Rack: Cold Iron Short Sword, Cold Iron Greatsword, Cold Iron Warhammer, Cold Iron Mace, Mithral Light Shield +2. The Weapon Shipment Note reveals that Screed Nightwalk has supplied House Kilana with cold iron weapons to wield against demons, and is awaiting their payment.
• The Prison Key also unlocks a metal door that opens to a hall leading east. Beware of the trio of Drow assassins who emerge from the shadows to protest your escape. It may be that four Nessian Hounds in the next room break down the door to get to you, too. If that's the case, you may be in trouble.
Chest: Potion of Heal, Potion of Speed, Troll Bane (dwarven waraxe +3, +1d4 fire, +4 to-hit vs. Giants, Light), Intimidating Eyepatch (Charisma -3, Concentration +5, Intimidation +6).
• It doesn't matter which door you choose here: they both lead to the encounter with Underweb Warden Verda, who has just returned from the Underdark to discover the prison break. You will face off against two Greater Bebilith and one each of Drow marksman and wizard.

Verda: Chainmail +2, Darksteel Short Sword (darksteel short sword +3, electrical +3), Umber Hulk Hide Heavy Shield (heavy shield +2, Immunity: Mind-affecting), Cloak of Protection +3, Healer's Kit +10.
Wizard: Wizard's Hat (saves vs. Mind-affecting +3, Concentration +8), Bolt of Frostbite (x22), Potion of Cure Critical Wounds.
Archer: Drow Poison Arrow (x99), Breastplate +2, 361 GP.
• The transition point to the Underdark is just beyond the DC-15 trapped door.
Completed Quest: Underweb - Prison Break - 2,000 XP.

Shrouded Sun Inn

• Your party has traveled through the Underdark for a week to finally arrive at the Shrouded Sun inn, where your adventures began.
• Buff the party to the heavens before speaking to "Gemcutter" because it isn't actually him but rather a Ulitharid attempting to trick you into handing over the amulet. The illusion also has giant thralls and two other mindflayers disguised as patrons. They don't seem to drop any loot of note, though.

Quest: Where is Gemcutter? Speak with Gromph, the cowardly bartender who has been hiding in Gemcutter's quarters, under his desk. He reveals that the illithid banished Gemcutter to the Astral Plane using the Banisher's Coin, the artifact that the mercs recovered in the Undead Lair on behalf of Jhael in our last adventure. Gromph opens a secret door in Gemcutter's room that leads beneath the inn and into Imaskari ruins. He also offers to sell you standard wares that are no different from what he offered at the beginning of Shrouded Sun. I suggest you purchase whatever you think you might need, like a second Greater Magic Bag and an assortment of utility potions and ammo.
• Rest and buff up before leaving the inn.

Imaskari Ruins

• Upon entry you will be assailed by a Ulitharid Mage backed up by a mindflayer and cave troll thrall. You should come out on top with a Wand of Fear, Wand of Summoning and Arrow of the Vampire (x18).
The Portal Master. The Imaskari golem has had its portal-control system damaged by the mindflayers. Input the correct code to get it back "online" ("40" and "12, 7").
• Give your magic bags to a companion before stepping into the portal to the Astral Plane; otherwise, "insta-death".

Astral Plane

• You will be transported directly to a demon's camp. Juriz the hezrou has captured Gemcutter, bound him in a soundproof barrier of static energy, and is preparing to trade him to a balor for Blood War fodder. Juriz demands that you recover the Silver Sword of Tir'su from the abandoned Githyanki fortress and deliver it to him in exchange for Gemcutter's release. You have no choice but to accept the demon's offer.
• Climb the hill and enter the fortress at its summit.

Githyanki Fortress

Quest: Gray Dwarf Mercenaries. Lay waste to the duergar mercs in the entry chamber. One of them drops a Journal revealing that the duergar are also in search of the Silver Sword of Tir'su, and on behalf of Matron Jhael. We'll be catching up with the duergar leader in due time.
Duergar mercs: Cloak of Movement (Freedom of Movement), Bracers of Armor +2, Periapt of Wisdom +1, scroll of Remove Disease, Journal, Sapphire, Potion of Antidote.
• Explore the halls, taking out the two death tyrants and undead. There are three other chambers of note in this dungeon.
Central chamber (OL DC-40): Lurking in here is a mixed bag: dread wraith, skeletal mage, rogue shadow and githyanki blackguard.
Chest (OL DC-41): Sword Staker Ring (True Seeing), Belt of Agility +3 (Dexterity +3, Freedom of Movement), Healer's Kit +10, scrolls of Create Greater Undead and Word of Faith.
Weapon Rack: Ripper, Arrow +3, Bolt +3.
Northernmost chamber. The death tyrant in here is backed up by zombies.
Chest: Githyanki Key, Phantom Bow (shortbow +2, Mighty +3)Astral Blade (longsword +3, Sonic +1d10), Thieves' Tools +10, and scrolls of Bigby's Interposing Hand and Dismissal.
Westernmost chamberZochan's sanctum. The entrance is guarded by an eye tyrant, gith blackguard and two rogue shadows.
• Enter the sanctum to face off against Zochan the Githyanki General, flanked by undead and wielding the wicked Silver Sword of Tir'su. This is an epic battle. The General opens proceedings by unleashing Abyssal Blast, an AoE that inflicts fire and divine damage. Then, he moves to melee position. His skeleton mage also insta-casts Web against which your tanks should have Freedom of Movement status. Once Zochan has taken a beating he will summon forth a death tyrant to complicate matters. Destroy them all and loot the gith's corpse of the Silver Sword of Tir'su (alchemical silver greatsword +2, AC def. bonus vs. Good +3, negative energy +2).
Graystone the duergar. The leader of the duergar mercs is imprisoned in a side chamber. He reveals that Matron Jhael wants the Silver Sword to use as a "bargaining tool" in order to get the githyanki on-side. Free him from confinement and then slay him when he tries to take the sword from you. His corpse should hold the contents of the already-looted chest: 4744 GP, Ring of Major Electrical Resistance, Cloak of Protection +3.
Completed Quest: Gray Dwarf Mercenaries.
• Ok, backtrack through the dungeon and be sure to buff up before leaving.
Astral Plane. Back outside Shaugalis the Blue Death is waiting for you. This Blue Dragon was sent by Matron Jhael to take you out. Whale away on its ass and it should drop like a sack of shit, leaving nothing behind but a Potion of Cure Critical Wounds and two Fire Opals. How pathetic.
• Descend the slope and deliver the sword to Juriz as promised, but then slay him and take it back. He also drops the Book of All Elements (recipe book).
Completed Quest: Where is Gemcutter? 3,000 XP.
• Speak the words "The Sun is Dead" to Gemcutter. He will go into a trance and recite a cryptic message about the amulet and the vault.

Built in a hidden location known to only the oldest of Gods lies the Shadowdancer's Vault. 
It is a great hope to many souls of the amulet...
... the fiery heat of the Singesoul Furnace's flames can break the amulet and end the imprisonment of the souls within it.
But the secret location of the Shadowdancer's Vault is only known in the minds of a few... and few only.
And the Singesoul Furnace lies within the Shadowdancer's Vault.
And so the amulet searches for a champion... someone with enough capability to find the vault.
.... to find the vault and free the souls within the amulet.
Once freed the spirits can finally come to rest or be put at the mercy of the one who liberated them.
Quest: The Sun is Dead... But why?
• Gemcutter has been condemned to remain in the Astral Plane for one year, as per the rules of the Banisher's Coin wielded by the illithid. There is naught you can do for him but leave him to his devices or slay him.
• Take the portal back to the Imaskari ruins beneath the Shrouded Sun inn.

Shrouded Sun Inn

Screed Nightwalk greets you upon your return from the Astral Plane. He offers you info on current events and an alliance with his mercenary order, the Bladed Coin. Apparently, House Kilana is pursuing Gith for recruitment into their ranks in retaliation against the theft of the Banisher's Coin by the illithid. But we have put a spanner in the works because we have the bargaining tool they intended to use: the Silver Sword. House Kilana's nobles are dead by our hand, too: Faceless, Rizzen & Verda. We also slew the dragon that Matron Jhael sent after us. On the other hand, the illithid seem to be in a better position than the Drow: the Ulitharid probed your amulet and discovered the location of the Shadowdancer's Vault, which he then broadcasted to the hivemind. The Illithid Inquisition is now determined to make sure its location remains a secret, known only to them. But Screed has a lead on the whereabouts of the vault founder - the "Architect". Sources within the Bladed Coin have reported a Deep Gnome archaeological excavation that has unearthed an Imaskari vault that is, strangely, still sealed by magic. So, that's our next destination!
Companion: Screed Nightwalk. Chaotic Evil Drow Wizard (13). Equipment: Staff of Power (quarterstaff, Fireball [5] 3 charges/use, Magic Missile [5] 2 charges/use, Ray of Enfeeblement [2] 1 charge/use, sorc/wiz only), Encircling Scale (belt, Darkvision, Immunity: Poison, Use Poison [5] 3 charges/use), Ring of Fortitude +3 (Consitution +2, Fortitude saves +3, evil wiz only).
Bladed Coin Agent. The agent standing in the common room will escort you to the svirfneblin excavation site.

Excavation Site

Quest: The Imaskari Vault. Burrow Warden Gissen will greet you upon arrival and inform you that the obelisk standing in the center of this chamber is the key to entering the vault, but its ancient markings can only be read by the Imaskari linguist who has been kidnapped by beholders. Ergo, we need to find her first.
• Bephanis the merchant. This Fire Genasi offers some good gear for sale; namely: Black Dragon Armor (heavy armor +3, resist acid 25/-, 80% of weight), Imaskari Battlemage Armor (mithral light armor +3, arcane spell failure -10%), Lesser Golem Armor (iron medium armor +5, Strength +4, Immunity: Level/Ability drain), Potion of Heal (x3), Ring of Resistance +2, Healer's Kit +10 (x2), scrolls of Greater Stoneskin, Bigby's Interposing Hand, Spell Mantle, Summon Creature VII, Mind Blank, fire ammo, Stonefire Axe (greataxe +1, fire +2), Troll Bane (dwarven waraxe +3, +1d4 fire, +4 to-hit vs. Giants, Light).
• Exit the chamber in the south to arrive in some burrowed caverns.
• Slay the cave troll chief guarding the entrance chamber, and also the Crazed Surface Elves just to the north. Loot: Wand of Stinking Cloud, Tansheron's Bow (shortbow +2, unlimited +3 ammo), Nymph Cloak +2.
• The entrance to the Beholder Caves is in the west...

Continued in Part II..

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