Part 93: Hammer Into AnvilPART 93: HAMMER INTO ANVIL
The Anvil of the Void, a legendary lost dwarven artifact with the power to create unstoppable golem soldiers. The Paragon Branka disappeared two years ago searching for the Anvil. Now, our heroes follow her trail into the depths of the Deep Roads, battling terrible darkspawn warbands and uncovering a tale of betrayal, insanity, and giant mutant boss fights...
[When we last left our heroes, they had just picked a fight with a giant darkspawn broodmother. Let's see how that turns out.]
[It turns out poorly.
The Broodmother is a menace. It can stun everything in melee range by screaming, pick characters up and crush them for colossal damage, and has a projectile AoE spit attack that can make life hell for your mages. It's totally immobile, but has a massive health pool and near immunity to status effects to compensate.
It can also spawn tentacles, which don't do much damage but have high HP. They're basically there to annoy your ranged characters. They can despawn and respawn anywhere on the Broodmother's... flesh.
Two groups of darkspawn will also show up during the fight to add to the fun.]
Never thought I'd say this but... that's just too many tits.
[The AI can't cope with a battle like this, so you need to micromanage your characters through it. Focusing all fire on the Broodmother, burning down the darkspawn adds when they appear, and keeping your ranged characters away from the tentacles should get you through the battle safe.
You can also retreat the party to the stone platforms behind the Broodmother (the path to the right in the image above) if things get too hectic. Her attacks can't reach back there, and the tentacles won't spawn on rock. It's a good opportunity to heal and buff up if you need to.
Not that I needed to. ]
Where's my applause?
Dunno. Where's my wineskin?
You don't think I'd do something like that sober?
That's where they come from. That's why they hate us... that's why they need us. That's why they take us... that's why they feed us.
But the true abomination... is not that it occurred, but that it was allowed. Branka... my love....
The Stone has punished me, dream-friend. I am dying of something worse than death.
Cheery soul, isn't she?
I don't like the picture this paints of Branka.
Jilted lovers say all sorts of nonsense.
Yes, 'tis probably womanly hysteria that makes her say such things. I'm sure the cannibalism is a side effect.
[The Broodmother has some nice loot. Pick of the crop is this heavy armor, part of the Effort set we've been collecting throughout the Deep Roads.]
Let's skedaddle before the horde outside discover what happened to Mommy.
The Anvil of the Void... this is the only place it could be.
I know at least one. It is a drunken dwarf that travels with the Grey Warden, constantly belching and--
Bah! I mean a real one! You must have overheard at least one or two standing there as you did for years and years!
There was a human man who once started telling a joke to another as he relieved himself on my leg.
I confess I didn't listen. I was too busy planning my revenge.
Eh? And what happened to him?
He disappeared during the fighting in Honnleath. Tragic. Hit his head on a rock, I think.
This is the Anvil? I thought it would be... shinier.
The drunk has gotten us lost. Again.
If Branka is anywhere, this has to be it. She will not be unprepared.
What was that?
About a hundred tons of rock cutting off our escape route.
Let me be blunt with you. After all this time, my tolerance for social graces is fairly limited. That doesn't bother you, I hope.
Shave my back and call me an elf! Branka? By the Stone, I barely recognised you!
Oghren. It figures you'd eventually find your way here. Hopefully, you can find your way back more easily.
And how shall I address you? Hired sword of the latest lordling to come looking for me? Or just the only one who didn't mind Oghren's ale-breath?
Be respectful, woman! You're talking to a Grey Warden!
Ah, so an important errand boy, then. I suppose something serious has happened. Is Endrin dead? That seems most likely. He was on the old and wheezy side.
My father is dead. The Assembly is deadlocked.
[It's a little strange that Branka and the Dwarven Noble PC don't know each other, given they probably moved in the same circles when they both still lived in Orzammar.]
You are... seeking my support? You wish to succeed Endrin and become a ruling queen?
I don't care if the Assembly puts a drunken monkey on the throne.
Because our protector, our great invention, the thing that once made our armies the envy of the world, is lost to the very darkspawn it should be fighting.
The Anvil of the Void. The means by which the ancients forged their army of golems and held off the first archdemon ever to rise. It's here. So close I can taste it.
But of course there is a catch.
The Anvil lies on the other side of a gauntlet of traps designed by Caridin himself. My people and I have given body and soul to unlocking its secrets.
This is what's important. This has lasting meaning. If I succeed, the dwarven people benefit. Kings, politics... all that is transitory.
I've given up everything and would sacrifice anything to get the Anvil of the Void.
Does that include Hespith and the others of your house?
I only asked one!
If you wish me to get involved with this imbecilic election, I must first have the Anvil.
There is only one way out, Warden. Forward. Through Caridins maze and out to where the Anvil waits.
Prepare to play... The Game of Death!
What has this place done to you?! I remember marrying a girl you could talk to for one minute and see her brilliance.
I am your Paragon.
Oghren, I think your wife is going to get us all killed.
Ah, well. We'll help her get the Anvil, and then she'll come home and everything will be better.
These caves have amazing acoustics.
[The Anvil of the Void has four challenges to beat before you reach the goal. This room is the first challenge: 3 waves of increasingly strong darkspawn. The first wave is led by a Genlock Alpha, the second by an Emissary and the last by an Ogre.
There are brief breaks between each wave to heal and listen to Branka rant crazily about how shit went south.]
She shouldn't have gone. She was pledged to me. She swore she'd do whatever it took to find the Anvil.
There was no other choice. Most of them were dying of the taint already, but some .. some of the women were... transforming.
I knew what they would become. There would be an endless supply, fresh darkspawn to test the traps. They could still serve me, let me find the Anvil. It was the only way...
You have no idea how they carried on, holding my hand and begging to die. They had pledged me their loyalty! They had no right to ﬁght me.
They say your order is renowned for its wits as well as its brawn. Perhaps you'll do better than my poor clansmen.
There's something about this place.... It makes people despair...
Oghren... I might need to kill Branka.
We'll find the Anvil. Then we'll straighten everything out. Everything.
[Challenge 2: The Gas Room.]
[You take constant damage in here from the poison gas, but it can be reduced by turning off the four gas valves on each side of the room. The golems will also activate one by one after you enter, so most of the party needs to be fighting them to keep you from getting overwhelmed.]
[The exit door unlocks once all the golems are defeated. You can also lockpick it, if you're really good at lockpicking, and bypass this fight completely.]
[Challenge 3: The Spiky Blade Trap Room]
[...It's a room with some blade traps in it. Any rogue can disarm them.]
[You also have to fight some more golems, because of course you do.]
I was expecting more from these traps.
...I mean, I'm not complaining but--
What the living hell is that?
ZARDOZ IS ANGRY!
[Challenge 4: The Spirit Apparatus.
Oh god, a puzzle boss. It's simple when you know how, but a total pain trying to figure it out on the fly.
Firstly, the boss spawns in four Forgotten Spirits. Each is stationary until you aggro it, which is helpful. Kill a spirit and...]
[...a nearby anvil will light up. Activate the anvil and...]
ZARDOZ IS SAD.
[The face you blasted with the anvil will start crying. This will cause constant damage to anyone in front of it. Blast it again and it will 'die'. Kill all four faces of the Apparatus to win.]
[Every 30 seconds or so, the Apparatus rotates and respawns any dead Forgotten Spirits. Crying faces will spawn more powerful Enraged Spirits.
This battle isn't too bad as long as you don't pull more than one spirit at a time (and steer clear of the crying faces). There are lyrium veins around the room to recharge your mages mana, which helps a lot.]
zardoz is sleepy
[Interestingly, on Hard and Impossible difficulties you have to use the anvils three times to defeat each face, and there is another phase between the 'normal' and 'crying red tears' stage. During that stage, the faces cry blue tears, which heal any spirits standing in front of them.
That makes it, I think, the only boss in the game that has new attack patterns at higher difficulty levels, rather than simply getting cranked up stats.]
Is this it? Are we finally here?
[Somewhere, a Games Workshop lawyer is crying.]
My name is Caridin. Once, longer ago than I care to think, I was a Paragon to the dwarves of Orzammar.
Caridin? The Paragon smith? Alive?
Ah, there is a voice I recognize. Shayle of the House of Cadash, step forward.
You... know my name? Is it you that forged me, then? Is it you that gave me my name?
Have you forgotten, then? (Sigh) It has been so long.
I made you into the golem you are now, Shayle, but before that you were a dwarf... just as I was. The finest warrior to serve King Valtor, and the only woman to volunteer.
The only... woman? A dwarf?
I laid you on the Anvil of the Void, here in this very room, and put you into the form you now possess.
The Anvil of the Void... that is what we seek.
If you seek the Anvil, then you must care about my story, or be doomed to relive it.
You made the Anvil, I take it?
Though I made many things in my time, I rose to fame and earned my status based on a single item: the Anvil of the Void.
It allowed me to forge a man of steel or stone, as ﬂexible and clever as any soldier. As an army, they were invincible. But I told no one the cost.
No mere smith, however skilled, has the power to create life. To make my golems live, I had to take their lives from elsewhere.
This would come as a surprise if I hadn't read your journal two updates ago.
But I haven't had a chance to exposit in centuries!
It sounds like blood magic. A dangerous road. Covered in fleshy growths and random tentacles.
The darkspawn were pressing in. Originally I only took volunteers, the bravest of souls willing to trade their very lives for the chance to defend their homeland.
But King Valtor became greedy. He began to force men... casteless and criminals... his political enemies... all of them were to be given to the anvil.
It took feeling the hammer's blow myself to realize the height of my crimes.
What now? Do you want revenge?
Not revenge. The blow of the hammer opened my eyes.
My apprentices knew enough to make me as I am, but not enough to fashion a control rod. I retained my mind.
You were amongst the most loyal, Shayle. You remained at my side throughout, and at the end I sent you away out of mercy.
I... do not remember.
We have remained entombed here ever since, and I have sought a way to destroy the Anvil. Alas, I cannot do it myself. No golem can touch it.
The Anvil is mine! No one will take it from me!
Shayle... you fought to destroy the Anvil once! Do not allow it to fall into unthinking hands again!
You speak of things I do not remember. You say we fought... did you use our control rods to command us to do so?
I destroyed the rods! Perhaps my apprentices eventually learned to replace the rods, I do not know, but if so, then all they need is the Anvil to make all the slaves they need!
You! Please... help me destroy the Anvil! Do not let it enslave more souls than it already has!
I need it to bargain with Branka. I won't make golems.
As long as the Anvil exists, it may be used to create slaves. And it will be used. Why seek a more difficult path when another, easier path is available?
Help me destroy it!
THE FUTURE OF DWARFKIND...
Well kids, here we are. Finally made it to the Anvil, and a big decision has been thrust upon us.
Branka is stone cold crazy, but she's right. The dwarves are losing against the darkspawn. New golem production could change that.
Caridin is a broken metal ghost, but he's right too. Restart the Anvil and it won't be long before the poor and the unlucky start getting fed to the machine.
It's time to vote!
A. Destroy the Anvil and kill Branka. It's the moral choice.
B. Claim the Anvil and kill Caridin. It's the smart choice.
C. Kill Caridin and Branka and blow the goddamn Anvil up as well. SCREW EVERYTHING.
No matter what you choose, we'll get the Paragon endorsement we need to settle the power struggle in Orzammar.
One last point: despite Shale's ambivalence, she will side with Caridin if we fight him, and we will have to kill her. We can avoid that if Shale isn't present for this confrontation, which is possible through the Magic of Quick Load.
So, if you vote to kill Caridin please also make it clear if you want Shale to die or not.
NEXT TIME: An Election to Remember