Part 10: Masters of DisguiseUpdate 7: Masters of Disguise
We're finally going ahead with the storyline, and heading to Gargath in pursuit of a Dragonlance. I should point out that at this point there are literally hundreds of Dragonlances running around. The secret to forging them was rediscovered during the War of the Lance, and they were used extensively. Why we're chasing after this one instead of just opening up the armory and pulling out another one is difficult to explain.
"We're uh.. merchants.
"Nice armor there, merchant. What do you trade?"
"I don't think this is working. Well, time for plan B."
Got to hand it to Gargath, hiring ogres as part of your guard force is a very EOE move. Despite their large size and disturbing loincloths, they're actually not that dangerous. Elvish rogues can be a problem, though, as rather than being rogues they're actually fighter/mages. As a note it is actually possible to avoid this fight, but once things start popping in the city you'll have to fight on your way out.
"I believe that this indicates that the element of surprise has been well and truly lost.
" should we?"
"We are currently standing in front of the gate with every guard in the city heading in our direction. Even heading into an ambush would be a better situation.
"Well, as they say, when in Ergoth "
"You can get more information in the tavern to the west, just beyond the inn."
"Y'all just wait out here. I've got this."
"What an unusually helpful group of tavern wastrels."
"And yet not one who would not cheerfully vomit on your shoes."
"Let's keep looking around town before we enter the keep."
"We're uh.. with the 101st."
"Very good then. Have some food while we're doing our planning."
"I think we're just about done here."
Attacking after dinner grants you a surprise round, which is more than enough to give you the edge for a small group like this. The number of spell casters is slightly worrisome, but not a real issue. The prize for this fight includes a set of Plate Mail +1, and a set of Gauntlets of Ogre Power. These boost the user's strength to 18/00, meaning they're great to give to someone like a cleric who can't go into the exceptional strength range.
"Something is slightly for-putting about this design."
"Four sets of secret doors? Are they nuts?"
A second worthwhile encounter can be found in the barracks, where the soldiers are more than happy to have live practice dummies.
It's a much larger fight, but without clerics and their hold person spells this one is much easier. There isn't a great reward for this fight, but it just feels more like you're accomplishing something by clearing out the enemy troop concentrations.
"How is this even a question? There's only one entrance and they're in the way."
"Some of us might prefer doing things a bit more quietly."
"I'm kind of with Sam on this one I mean, they're really evil."
"They are also quite overmatched."
"This wall is broken!"
Welcome to the theme of this area. You have to pass through a number of secret doors to find your way to the keep, an approach that is meant to be confusing to outside forces. These doors aren't the only thing we can find in the false entrance, though.
"That's an odd combination."
"Certainly an odd use for snake charm."
This fight is far more dangerous than it looks. Those snakes are poisonous, and the only effect poison has in this game is to put you into a pseudo-death state. The screen of zombies also makes it more likely that the cleric will get a hold person spell off, but it's easy enough to clear them out with a spell or turn undead.
Winding through the maze of secret doors, some of them are actually guarded. Despite having seen a bunch of draconians come through it, you'll still have to search to find the door.
At this point, Baaz are nothing more than a speed bump but they can still take even magical weapons away from you. It's much easier to deal with them using magic or ranged weapons, especially when they're perfectly situated for a lightning bolt.
Another fixed encounter, notable only for the fugly nature of the icon.
"Myrtani? It seems we are in the right vicinity."
Seen here, one to the few enemy formations in this game that is suitable for a fireball. It's also worthwhile to note that the game actually does mirror the terrain in its battlefields. Just to the north of us you can see where the doorway is leading into the tower proper.
"C'mon, what's a guy got to do to catch a break?"
"Not invade an enemy stronghold through the front door, perhaps?"
Two fights back to back would be more intimidating if they were well, intimidating. This still puts you on notice that this tower won't exactly be a cakewalk.
"Oy! Who're you, and what the hell're you doing here?"
"I don't think that has ever worked."
A few seconds later...
"Myrtani eggs ambush wait, who the devil are you?"
"We're in a hurry."
"Loot! Now that's what I'm talking about!"
"And wherever you find four fighters, you'll find a fifth!"
"Is that what you call a squad, you miserable snaggletoothed pansies? You couldn't overwhelm a children's birthday party, much less an actual adventuring party!"
There's a hidden exit located on the bottom floor, which could be useful later. In the meantime, there's no indication that you're at the keep wall so it's quite possible to wander out and have to go through the front door again.
The Tower of Gargath has 12 floors, by the way, but they get smaller as you go up. We've got some climbing to do. On the next floor...
"Rest in peace, friend. We'll take it from here."
"And we'll make sure to pay them back for what they've done to you."
"The Castellan, I presume?"
"I think it is fair enough to say that his mind is gone "
"I only hope that he doesn't find his children like we found that prisoner."
"Anybody want to make a bet about what color a spleen actually is?"
(violence censored for youthful audiences)
"Probably a good thing we didn't take them up on the offer. The dice were loaded."
"People around here have a strange definition of a door."
"An enchanted longsword and yes, what appears to be a cursed two-handed sword. The fact that anything was left at all indicates that they were after something specific."
"Dibs on the longsword. I'm tired of being the only fighter here without a magic weapon."
"He's still got it? We must have missed the guy by all of two minutes."
"We're between him and the exit! Let's get it!"
"Just a bit easier said than done. Although
"And I as well."
"Where in the Abyss does he think he's going?"
"'m startin' to get a bad feeling about this "
There are about three nearly identical fights as the party follow Myrtani up the circular stairs toward the top of the tower.
Most of them end kind of like this.
"We should, perhaps, have taken into account that our enemy might have an air capability."
"Seriously, where's a good dragon when you need it?"
"We'll, we've got more dragons.. just the wrong type."
This has the potential to be a nasty little fight, since we're in such a tight space that it's impossible to use any kind of damaging spell without also getting our own fighters. Luckily disabling spells still work and have a smaller area of affect.
"On any other occasion, I would find some humor in the fact that the situation is now reversed. We are trapped at the top of the tower, with every enemy soldier in the place between us and the exit."
"That's just more incentive to start fighting now before they get really organized."
Random encounters don't stop now that Myrtani has left, and any enemy encounters you haven't triggered are still there. This includes the gate guards if you managed to talk your way past them. It's much easier to go out the secret door in the bottom of the tower, returning to base to find...
"I'm going to track them and bring him back!"
"Wait, Sir Karl? He's important, granted, but enough to stage a raid on an outpost just to kidnap him?
"Sounds like we need to find out what that reason was."
Our party is coming along nicely at this point, and is starting to approach max level for this module. Gable and Sam are only one level away, while most of the others still have 2 left to go. Sam's new longsword is +1/+4 vs reptiles, which includes draconians.
We're approaching the beginning of the end, so the question is whether we should Rescue Sir Karl
or screw around and do the last sidequest first.