Part 63: I find something hilarious about portraying Demogorgon with a man with a top hat and handlebar moustache.
Chapter 49 - I find something hilarious about portraying Demogorgon with a man with a top hat and handlebar moustache.
Ah, Watcher's Keep's final level before the Imprisoned One.
Here we had a machine that dispensed colored orbs and four colored pillars surrounding it.
The scroll seems to have been written by a scholar who was researching the machine's purpose. You skim down to the conclusion: "It would seem that the purpose of this machine is to dispense glass globes of four colors. The globes have two purposes. Firstly, some of the globes contain magical liquids which can be used as potions of varying degrees of power. Other globes have no practical use and are probably meant to be placed in the containers that match their color. The intelligent thing to do would be to get all of the globes that one can and then place the ones that are of no use into the colored containers to obtain the prize. The globes that cannot be used are always the last ones dispensed. The problem is, every time a globe is dispensed something nasty..." The note trails off. It appears to be splattered with old blood.
Oh, this will likely end squishily.
With nothing else to do, I gave the red button a press. Because, when given a choice of buttons, you should always choose the red one first.
In the order of red, blue, green, then purple, each until done, the buttons produced the following along with an orb.
First, some hobgoblins.
Then, some Kuo-Toans.
The blue button just spawned up mages of increasing power (but none so powerful as me.)
Green was spiders...
Greater Earth Elementals...
And assorted Beholders. (A Death Tyrant, a Hive Mother, and an Elder Orb to be precise.)
The purple button made first some skeletons that were dispatched by Aerie's Turn Undead so quickly that no evidence of them could be recorded. It next made some Devil Shades.
And two liches. This was a fun battle, full of many high-level spells flying around with abandon.
In the aftermath, with possibly the best timing ever to ask the question what with the raging inferno surrounding us...
Oh, my dear Minsc, you and Boo are wonderful, make no mistake. So chaotic, so unpredictable. Such a fist in the eye of sense and reason.
Uh... but mostly evil, right?
HA! Yes, Minsc, mostly a fist in the eyes of evil. Do not let me change a thing you do.
Boo, I think this bard is a little off in the head, no?
This is as good a time as any to show off the power of Wish. Through the use of either a Potion of Insight. I was extra-lazy and used Shadowkeeper to boost Asim's Wisdom. No, I did not exploit this. God knows I had enough game-breaking things to exploit as it was. It's still randomized, but given what some of the results are, it can be quite worth it.
This one shows us one of the best results - the fifth one, to have everyone rest and rememorize spells. It's effectively a path to unlimited spells, especially for the Sorcerer. This is because the game is bugged in regards to that class and no stat has any effect on their spells/level/day, so you can just go right ahead and have a dump stat to boost Wisdom up there and not have to bother with potions or anything. The other famously broken one is to have the genie cast a double-length Time Stop and Improved Alacrity on the caster. You can fire off a lot of spells in that time, you know. Not useful for the biggest battles which have enemies who are immune to Time Stop, but still pretty awesome. I like the one where it casts Improved Haste on the whole party because I am very lazy and love those convenience things. Setting everyone's stats to 25 is vaguely neat but the short duration makes it way too gimmicky for my taste.
Of each four globes of each of the four colors, three had magical properties. For the red ones, it was Fireball, +1 saves for everyone temporarily, and some vague healing potion. For the blue, it was Cone of Cold, Greater Restoration, and Protection from Normal Missiles. For the green ones, these were Summon Shambling Mound, Melf's Acid Arrow, and some temporary magic resistance. For the purple it was Invisibility, Mass Cure, and Cloud Giant Strength. I put the nonmagical ones in their respective pillars and the machine produced a key.
This is the single hardest puzzle in the game for me because I'm slightly colorblind and have a really goddamn hard time telling what color the pillars are supposed to be.
Next up, a set of three random and rather disappointing trials.
That sounds rather ominous.
The trials ahead are not for the reluctant. If you are unwilling or unsure you must not attempt these tests. Return when you are ready to face the challenge.
I am prepared for whatever lies ahead.
I am the Keeper of the Key, the One Left Behind. Duty compels me to remain, to stand guard over one of the keys to the final seal. You must be worthy in heart, spirit and mind before the final seal will be unlocked. My solemn task is to test the perseverance, courage and wisdom of your heart.
I am ready for the challenge!
Behind me are three doors. I may not speak of the gauntlet of ordeals which lay beyond. Complete all three challenges and return to me here - only then will your heart be proved worthy.
First trial - the imp!
I shall prove my worth to you, imp. I await your challenge.
Let us see if that lump between your shoulders does more than hold up your hat. We begin with a riddle. Pay attention. I have as many brothers as sisters, but my brothers have twice the number of sisters as brothers. How many children do my parents have?
Correct. Perhaps you are a worthy mental adversary, despite your doltish appearance. But to complete this challenge, you must beat me at a game of coins.
More games? Fine - get on with it.
The rules are simple. Here are 11 coins. We alternate turns, taking 1,2 or 3 coins at a time. Whoever takes the last coin loses. A simple game to learn, but a difficult one to master. Since I always play fair, I will let you start. 11 coins are left. How many will you take? Remember - whoever takes the last coin loses.
I will take 2 coins.
Well played. I will take 1 coin. There are 8 left, and it is your move.
I will take 3 coins.
Damn - you are smarter than you look. Or sound. Or act. Fine, I will take 3 coins and leave just 2. Try not to sprain anything figuring this out.
I will take 1 and leave the last coin for you, imp! The victory is mine!
You may have won, but I'm not going to stick around here and listen to your gloating!
If you get the imp's riddle wrong the first time, she will inform you that she is female and then give you another chance. If you get that wrong, it's Imprisonment with no save for the whole party, in cutscene mode! The coins thing can be done until you win.
Second, a classic battle. That I had done many, many times before this one.
You have come to challenge me or perhaps for the Warrior's Skull. You shall have neither victory nor the skull. Let the slaughter begin.
The dragon had Hindo's Doom (Can you say it? Hindo's DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM) and the Warrior's Skull.
Lastly... the Horde. Since when the hell do I live in Icewind Dale?
That's a lot of items dropped. Even more when you consider that I was killing a lot of them quickly enough that they died on top of each other so many of those are 4 or 5 puny orcs deep.
Ixil's Nail was hiding in the pool.
Behold, a key!
I headed over and put the skull on the altar that called for it.
Your true body seems paralyzed, almost frozen in time. Your senses are assailed with a strange double awareness. Part of you remains in front of the altar, but another part of your being is now held within the body of the spirit warrior. You instinctively understand that you can use the Spirit Panel on the altar to control the spirit warrior body you now partially inhabit with simple mental commands. You look around you with your spirit warrior eyes, and find yourself in what is obviously a dungeon. Implements of torture hang from the walls, and there is a pile of bones in the corner of the room.
Exit to the east.
Oh son of a bitch, my life has degenerated into some sort of text adventure. Curse you, budget cuts!
Attack the goblin.
Go through the east exit.
Examine the treasure chest.
Attack the skeleton.
Open the chest.
Inside the chest is a wand of missiles. You pick it up and stick it inside the belt of your spirit warrior form.
Go through the north exit.
Attack the war dog.
Search the room.
You find an iron key, and a blue potion which the spirit warrior immediately quaffs. Fortunately the potion heals your wounds somewhat, and you tuck the iron key into your belt.
Exit to the west.
Search the room.
Stuffed inside a hollow bone in the corner is a scroll inscribed with an unfamiliar incantation and a picture of a gibberling. You decide to save the scroll for later, and place it inside your pack.
Exit to the west.
Exit to the north.
If you drink from the fountain, it burns you.
Attack the ghost.
Open the chest.
Inside the chest is a magical helm. You place it on the head of your spirit warrior body, knowing the extra protection will come in handy.
Exit to the east.
Exit to the east.
Open the desk drawer.
The desk is coated with a powerful contact poison. Fortunately, the hardy constitution of the spirit warrior's body allows you to shrug off the effects of the deadly toxin. Inside the desk are a pair of bracers. You strap them on and feel an instant increase in the combat skills of your spirit warrior body.
It really is fortunate, since it's up to a random number generation if you take 25 acid damage or get away unscathed.
Exit to the north.
Use the scroll with the gibberling picture on it.
It makes the gibberling run away!
Exit to the west.
Examine the chest.
Using the iron key you found earlier, you unlock the lid of the chest. Inside is a blue potion. Instinctively, the body of the spirit warrior seizes the potion and drinks it down, causing your wounds to heal greatly.
Go through the ominous archway.
As you approach the door a disembodied voice fills the chamber: " THE CRYPT BEYOND AWAITS! ONCE THE THRESHOLD IS CROSSED THERE IS NO RETURN!"
Pass through the arch and enter the crypt.
From within the darkness of the crypt comes the sound of slowly shuffling feet. The sight of a desiccated corpse wrapped tightly in bandages emerging from the crypt comes as no great surprise. You sense this is the final confrontation for the spirit warrior, and realize retreat is not an option.
Use the wand of missiles.
Then a fight ensues, and if you've done things right, you win! I seem to recall doing things wrong far in the past but don't remember what happens if you do.
As your life force is made whole, the strange force immobilizing your own body releases you. You notice a large key in your possession that was not there before.
Oh thank the gods, we have funding again.
We never lost it.
So it was just a really tedious puzzle?
Seems that way.
...I hate this place.
The final key for the seal!
Seal Guardians, round one - the Rilmani.
My arcane powers outmatched theirs. One of them (the Aurumach) had the Club of Detonation.
Round two, a lich and his flaming skulls. Nothing in particular happened here, although he had the Erinne Sling and the Serpent Shaft, which was immediately delivered to Cespenar, who used it to complete Ravager for Sarevok.
It's such a pity this thing comes along so late in the game. It's lovely versus hordes if you've been mad enough to do Watcher's Keep this far before you do much of Throne of Bhaal, though I think I broke the game enough without doing anything like that.
The final guardians!
In vanilla Throne of Bhaal, these guys are probably the hardest battle in the game, beyond Demogorgon and the final boss. However, we are not playing vanilla Throne of Bhaal and they are a pretty wimpy fight by our standards now.
Well, Y'tossi here is a Marilith and they're annoying little fuckers with lots of Stoneskin and Protection from Magical Weapons to spam. But aside from that.
That battle gave us the mighty Gauntlets of Extraordinary Specialization as well as Taralash.
And thus, the portal was opened! And in a far more impressive manner than the preceding ones, let me tell you.
You do not see anything physical within the chamber... but you feel its presence all around you. A phantasmal hand brushes your cheek, a curious gesture that startles you and is gone just as quickly.
I sense something, here. A... presence. It's so powerful! So powerful, I can't sense anything else about it at all! Baervan preserve us!
The presence then moves away slightly, as if considering. You hear it speak within your mind. Its speech, however, is not in words. It is a mix of indecipherable emotions that burn across your brain, leaving an impression that is clear: 'I am the Imprisoned One. You intrude upon my solace, mortal.'
What are you?! Why have you been imprisoned here?
Impressions assault your mind briefly... knowing amusement combined with bitterness and images that your mind's eye refuses to recognize and turns away from. Deeper impressions instill a sense of one name that the being prefers... one that applies to you and it both: prisoner.
I am no prisoner, here! What do you imply?
Low power suddenly thrums throughout the room as the presence gains a measure of respect for your willingness to listen. Faint anger and outrage flood through you, directed towards something other than yourself. It is simple, your mind interprets... you are being deceived. Another image forms in your mind, and you recognize dour men in armor... and further, behind them, lurks a sinister purpose. Helmites, you are told, the Knights of the Vigil. There is bitterness and anger in the presence as it conveys its unjust imprisonment by a sect who do not worship Helm at all, but secretly take succor from Helm's darkest enemies. You are told that this is why the Imprisoned One is kept here, to keep their secret. Echoes stir in your mind as it asks why you think the Knights would send you into this place instead of coming themselves. You are told to ask yourself what will occur when the seals are strengthened. Impressions of amusement swirl as you are asked if you believe the holy symbol will truly let you leave, then?
You are merely trying to dissuade me from reading the scroll!
An alien chuckling rings through your head as the presence draws closer. It smells murder on you and names you as the spawn of Bhaal... a being to be feared. What better a pawn for the false Helmites to send for this task? Why imprison only one dangerous being? Why not imprison two?
I shall read the scroll, then... I trust you less than anything else.
The presence reels from your mind with disdain and outrage, settling to amused acceptance. It calmly tells you to read the scroll of the false Helmites, but warns you not to be surprised if the results are not what you expect.
And that's exactly what I'm going to do!
All of the impressions in your mind become more vague as it withdraws from you, waiting for you to commit your act.
You gain 80k quest XP for reading the scroll, so even though it isn't at all required, only an idiot wouldn't do it.
This is what comes of trusting those Helmite fools. I have little doubt this...'presence'... speaks the truth. What has it to lose?
The Imprisoned One was, infuriatingly, correct.
BETRAYAL and other such exclamations of outrage
Alright, then, what do you propose?
The presence is now far more intent, hope seizing upon opportunity. You have been deceived, you are told... you know that now. Deceived by the unworthy false Helmites, just as they imprisoned it. It wishes to be free... and it also wishes revenge. More images flood in, telling you that the Imprisoned One has been slowly marshaling its power to free itself... a process that would take an eon all told. But it has enough power now to open the smallest of holes in the seal... not enough for it, but enough for you. Pleased images swirl in your mind, telling you to go to the Knights of the Vigil and tell their leader that the Imprisoned One is destroyed. Then it may have its revenge. With his death, it will be free... and it will reward you handsomely. Indeed... various fleeting images hint to you that it has knowledge of how to unlock the powers of Bhaal within you.
No, I will not take part in such a plan! There must be another way out!
Various sensations from the presence tell you that this is true... but there is an undertone of faint amusement. The other way out, it suspects, is to destroy it. Without the Imprisoned One within, no doubt the prison will open.
Show yourself then and let us have this over with!
The swirling images clarify suddenly, overwhelming your mind with a strong sensation of evil... it crawls along your consciousness like the blackest of oils. The stench of sulphur and sweet carrion fill the room as a form begins to take shape before you. One last, fleeting thought comes... words from an ancient evil so alien to your awareness that communication is barely possible. But this thought sears into your consciousness clearly... 'Know me then by my best name, mortal. You face Demogorgon, Prince of Demons.'
He, uh, actually managed to get Time Stop off before the traps got to him. So he got to do some stuff and then lose all semblance of dignity.
NEWS FLASH - PRINCE OF DEMONS FOILED BY MORTALS WITH TRAPS
Mmmm, 100k quest experience. You can actually milk more out of it and get a 'good' ending for it that ends in Demogorgon being sealed with you outside by playing along with him, but that makes it so much more difficult to be a cheap moron and kill him with traps. Besides, at this point XP isn't really useful. Too much horrible cheese being thrown about by both sides of the final battle for one level to make a difference. Anyway, that way works out with you going out, lying to Odren and the rest of the Knights of the Vigil, then reading the scroll that the ghost of a PROPER Knight of the Vigil shows up and gives to you. Or going in and killing Demogorgon that way. Whichever. Or you can commit the most evil act possible and just run away, which if the game actually accepted this as a consequence and didn't just assume you intended to come back would result in Demogorgon walking the earth!
Pretty neat bell thing, even if we had just rid it of its purpose.
What kind of moron puts a portal to the Prince of Demons at ground level?
Yes, I did! And I bet you know exactly what happened next!
But... but if you were able to cast the ritual... no! Your presence here means that Demogorgon is destroyed! By Helm, you destroyed him?!
You tricked me! You *meant* to lock me up in there with him!!
We... I did. I am ashamed to say it, but I did. I did not think you... or anyone... would be strong enough to actually slay the Prince of Demons.
We have been betrayed after all! Even Boo cannot believe this, look at his tiny head shaking in disbelief. Or maybe he is cold. No... definitely disbelief!
Not... not that Demogorgon is dead. You destroyed his form on this plane, freeing him to return to the Abyss. For him, this is just as good as his freedom. Oh, we have failed our god! We were too cowardly to accept our duty... to enter the Keep and seal ourselves within with the ritual! And now... now the Imprisoned One is free. But... but at least Demogorgon is not free to roam the land. That would have been... horror beyond belief. Perhaps... perhaps Helm will forgive us, for at least you have prevented that. I have done you a great misdeed. My pride told me I could not be sacrificed, but that... a Bhaalspawn... it... it was a grievous wrong. Can you forgive a foolish man?
I hope your god forgives you, Odren, because I won't. Not ever. Get out of my sight!
We have fallen far from our true calling. You are too kind, Asim, to allow us the chance to redeem ourselves in the eyes of Helm. Come, my brethren! We go on a pilgrimage, now... we must atone for our wrongs and redeem ourselves. Farewell, Asim. If we meet again, may it be under fairer circumstances.
And it's at this point that I remembered one of the things that Ascension adds! Once you cross I believe it is the 6 million XP mark, you gain access to a new option if you try to become the Slayer.
That's right, for 3 reputation points you can become The Ravager! Pity it's still not as useful as using the cheese available, which I didn't even use all of. I could have had someone use Flail of Ages +5 and Belm combined with Improved Haste and the Gauntlets of Extraordinairy Specialization to end up with 9 attacks per round with the Flail, but I did not. Instead I just was a bastard and spammed exra-powerful Planetars all over the place.
It is pretty damn powerful, though.