Part 24: Received Wisdom
Act Two Chapter Sixteen - Hatavat Halom
We bust out of the Skein with a vengeance and find ourselves in the back room to the Slumbering Coven.
Mistress and her guards are hostile, so we kill them. Harsh, but there's worse to come.
And then we're left with the Slumbering Coven and their accumulated wisdom.
: The energy fields prevent us from slaying these crones as they sleep, but from here we can invade their collective dream, and perhaps destroy them from within.
There are six dreams in the Coven's dreamscape. Three are helpful to us. Three are about helping others. The plot-related ones are pretty cool and I'll show them in depth. The other three are interesting but more fun to play than to show, so you're getting the edited highlights.
* * *
This is the central hub of the dreamscape. At the moment, it's empty save for us and three thralls - puppets of the Coven. We can enter the dreams of these thralls, however, and free them from their imprisonment. That'll draw the Coven out, make them accessible... make them vulnerable.
Freeing a thrall triggers another plot dream. After the second such dream, we can talk to the Slumbering Coven, so we need only rescue two thralls (I'll show you all three anyway).
The illithid's dream is set in a maze of tunnels. Gud-bugh-ach is being pursued by a githyanki Mindslayer.
Lead Gub-bugh-ach through the tunnels, evading the hunter, for some experience and a crack in the hags' dream-armour.
The bard's dream is more puzzle-orientated. Durler is a slightly odd individual with an aversion to hags and a strange inability to distinguish men and women.
: Very funny, sir, but you and I both know there are no women allowed in this establishment. Gotta keep the hags out.
: But I am a woman.
: Your womanhood is not in doubt, but it may be difficult for this one to see past his madness.
: You may be more comely than the average man, sir, but you are not female.
: Yes, I am.
: No, sir, you are not.
: Yes, I am.
: I'm afraid not, sir. Sorry... I won't repeat myself.
: Yes, I am.
Did that seem completely random to you?
It's all to do with
The idea is to use trial-and-error to figure out which Hells Durler has picked. By changing around one or two picks and comparing Durler's responses, you can figure out which Hells he's picked and in which order they go. This is called the scientific method.
Winning games also wins us bets with Durler. Once Durler runs out of money, he'll leave the tavern - and the dream.
This seems like an indomitable task but Durler provides clues if you explore his other conversation options. Apparently, Durler loves Nessus, the ninth Hell, most of all, and always picks it as his first Hell. He also despises Avernus, the first Hell, and never chooses it at all. You can use Avernus as a wildcard to pinpoint which exact Hells are in Durler's answer.
He also (aha!) never repeats himself - never choose the same Hell twice in a round. So no Nessus, Dis, Dis, Cania.
Thankfully someone at Obsidian worked out the probabilities and included them in the script comments. So without further ado:
*** Notes on number of posssibilities *** Normal MasterMind has 6^4 = 1296 possibilities, and 10 guesses Hells has 9^4 = 6561 possibilities. Notes: The player can learn some additional info about what things the demon will pick: - he never chooses Avernus, the first plane of hell - 8^4 = 4096 possibilities - he never chooses a duplicate in his combination - 9P4 = 3024 possibilities - he will always choose Nessus, the last plane of hell, first - 9^3 = 729 possibilities With all info this becomes 7P3 = 210 possibilities
: Never mind that, I'll be captured by a hag if I step out of this inn in my skivies. Well, sir, I suppose I've no need to wish you good fortune, for you've taken all of mine.
And that is that.
The last thrall is a human wizard.
There were originally four thralls to be freed, the fourth being a genasi mage of some sort. I'm not sure if he was just an earlier iteration of this guy or a separate dreamer in his own right.
Our wizard friend, Faras, is in a bit of a state. He signed a minor contract with a baatezu - a devil from the Nine Hells - and has just been informed that his soul is forfeit. Faras doesn't want to be turned into a putrid maggot or mindless flesh-soldier to serve devils for all eternity so he's trying to find a way out of the contract.
It's a good quest. Our job is to mediate between Faras and his tempter, Enzibur, and find a way to get Faras off the hook. The best way to do this is to carefully listen to everything Faras and Enzibur say, then cross-reference with the contract to find a loophole.
There's lots of fun dialogue, too much to show here unfortunately. Faras has a long-winded story about his mediocre apprenticeship and making a pact with Enzibur to increase his prowess and impress his master, Galban. Enzibur can tell us all about why devils desire souls and how they get them - through contracts with mortals and arrangements with the various gods of the dead.
The gist of the situation is that Faras' contract stipulates the exchange of boons for Lawful Evil acts. If Faras inflicted pain on a helpless being, he'd get a magic item. For increased skill, he'd have to play a trick on an enemy. For a Limited Wish spell, he'd have to cast an Evil spell (like summoning a devil). Improved intellect, cause serious harm to someone. Infinite cosmic power? Kill a guy.
: Did you receive "increased skill in one area of endeavor"?
: Actually, yes. The following week I started noticing a change in my potion-making. It began to come to me naturally. Pretty soon, I had surpassed Ithias. Master Galban even complimented me one day on what a fine potion I had made.
: Wow, and it only cost you your soul.
: Yes... it only cost me my- ahh, that's right! What am I going to do?!
Unfortunately for Faras, if he fulfils all the terms of the contract, his soul becomes Enzibur's property. This is Enzibur's main argument and the one part of the contract that Faras failed to read.
Now, as it happens Faras was found out by his master a while ago and ran away. His master caught up with him, but then suddenly disappeared without a trace.
Enzibur says Faras did it with his Limited Wish. But...
: In a manner of speaking. I didn't say out loud 'I wish my master would go away', but I did think it over and over at the time.
: It says in the contract that the third favor was a wish of limited power. Since Galban attacked you after you summoned Enzibur, you would have had a wish...
: You're right! Oh gods, I did it. I'm responsible for my master's death. Galban had friends, powerful friends! Oh gods!
: Did you actually wish for his death?
Which means someone is playing silly buggers.
: Oh it is, is it? And how exactly did you come to that conclusion?
: You broke Baatezu law.
: Oh, you think so, do you? Then regale me with the tale of how I managed to break laws I know by heart and whose existence you learned of mere minutes ago.
: You claim that Faras fulfilled all of the conditions of the contract of his own volition, correct?
: What about it? It required him to kill someone, and he did.
: And what death did Faras cause?
: Why, his master Galban, of course. I'm sure Faras has told you all about it.
: He has. How did Galban die again?
And that counts as coercion, which violates Baatezu law.
: I said wait! Let me think for a moment!
: Think all you want. You broke the law. The contract is null and void.
And that sets Faras free.
There are alternative ways to ends these quests. You can help the Mindslayer find and kill Gud-bugh-ach; you can lose to Durler on purpose so he has enough gold to go home; you can let Enzibur out of his summoning circle and kill Faras.
But these were nice dreams. Our nightmares have only just begun.