Part 28: Bargain Basement SecurityUpdate 6: Bargain Basement Security
"Um excuse me, miss?"
"Why are you following us around town?"
"Oh, I'm Amanda. You know, your new paladin. Didn't anyone tell you?"
"Wait, who told you?"
"Paladine, Majere, and Kiri-Jolith for starters. They didn't say anything about any thieving kender, though. Keep your hands to yourself, you hear me?"
"What? Well, I never!"
"He's not kidding, either. He's actually more of an amateur archaeologist than anything else."
"Oh, and speaking of which you'd better make any passes at me you elven hussy. My mother told me all about elven debauchery."
"Elven hussy? Rip, please tell me this woman isn't serious."
"I kind of wish I could but I think she's for real. I'm being told that she has to go with us."
" alright, listen Princess. Keep your mouth shut, stick to the front of the group, and try to follow Boo's lead. He's twice the hero you are, and less than half the pain in the ass. And that ratio might change after I've known you for more than 10 minutes."
"My name is Amanda, not Princess! It wouldn't kill you to be nicer."
"I wouldn't take that bet, Princess. And if you Sam calls you Princess, you're Princess. Last more than two weeks we might bother to remember your name."
"All of a sudden, I'm looking forward to dealing with undead hordes in the tower."
The High Clerist's Tower is tucked away on the western side of the map, and is one of the few places that actually has a clear road attached. This does nothing to prevent random encounters, but it's actually a fairly peaceable trip this time.
"You see, it's not exactly detailed, but "
"I see. I do not mean to dispute your honest concerns, but the High Clerist's Tower has never fallen to an assault. Our scouts have noted no siege equipment or large forces in the vicinity."
"I wish I could be so confident, sir, but we are not dealing with foolish or unorganized adversaries. They must have a plan they think could succeed."
"Still, to allay your suspicions, we shall take a tour of the crypts. If nothing else, we can admire their workmanship."
"I'm sorry, you were saying?"
"Hold on, we're coming!"
"Right after you, Princess."
"We must survive to give warning! Have at them!"
"We were warned that something like this might happen. We'll help you fight them off until the Tower's defenses can be mustered."
"Y'know, I can't help but think that there have to be easier ways for them to get dead bodies."
"They don't seem to be having that bad a time of it here."
This is one of the occasions where having a Knight comes in very handy. Boo can lead our new companion, and most of the scripted battles within the tower proper will have a few Knights who will also follow Boo's lead. As for our new companion...
He's evidently quite a respectable knight, although you can see that he's ancient. He's got great stats across the board (of course, you need those to be a Knight of the Rose ) and I'm not sure where exactly his armor class is all coming from. If it weren't for that somewhat low HP, he'd be outstanding.
"Just out of curiosity, have you changed the layout of the tombs or the location where you store your honored dead in the centuries since Soth was a living knight?"
"I couldn't tell you, lad, I'm not that old. Look sharp! More coming!"
The game refers to this as a horde of undead. I tend to disagree.
"Considering that there were only four of them, I think you're right."
"And most of the might here isn't Solamnic."
"You've got to be kidding me."
"I think we're fighting the ones who are too rotten in the head to manage a proper attack."
Seriously? This is what you call being surrounded? There's a couple more, but this is pretty sad. Especially when we've got a few knights to throw between us and the enemy.
"Wait, you were keeping a dragon here? Why?"
"Where else were we going to keep it?"
"I can't believe I'm agreeing, but somewhere where if it escaped it could just fly away and never come back? Rather than in the middle of your fortress where it could wreak bloody revenge on its way out?"
"Or you could have just killed it. It's not like it's a person."
"It's so badly mangled I can't tell if it was burst open by something fighting its way out or driven in by undead force."
"Either way, they're here now."
"This was the place of interrogation. The dragon was held to the north. He may already be freed!"
"So the best case scenario is that the dragon has already left, and the worst case is that the dragon has joined our enemies just ahead of us?"
"Don't forget that the skeletons could have turned on the dragon and it could have destroyed a bunch of them."
"How on Krynn did we miss a dragon and an entire group of undead?"
"Couldn't tell you, but it looks like Durfey was right about their ultimate destination."
"A chained dragon and a recently excavated second exit? You guys really weren't trying to make this difficult, were you?"
"Those tunnels were a secret!"
"And if they're new, Soth couldn't have known about them. There really must be a traitor."
"They can't be too far ahead if we hurry we can still catch them."
Two steps into the tunnels...
"That sword there's something wrong here."
"There's no reason for him to have it out like that. It's like he's got to have it out for some reason."
"Heh, heh, heh. Sir Karl has revealed the true path. In life or death you will all serve him eventually!"
"This is so annoying. I wish they'd just stick around and fight."
"That boulder collapsed the tunnel behind us. We're either going to have to catch up to them and win, or die here in the tunnels."
"It if makes you feel better, there's plenty of undead to fight."
This fight adds some zombie giants, which we've seen before. They're still a secondary concern compared to the skeletal warriors. That's not the only place we'll see them, though...
13 encounters like this are scattered throughout the tunnels. Each one has between 3 and 5 zombie giants. They're not strictly necessary, but they're easy experience and it just feels wrong to leave these things at work tearing the tower down.
This starts to be a depressingly familiar sight. There are a total of four delaying actions fought by the undead army, which vary widely in strength.
This second fight is a good example. The wights are inconsequential, but if they get lucky you can start to see levels disappearing pretty quickly. After the second delaying action, we get something a bit different.
" where are the rest of you?"
"You obviously have no idea who you're dealing with."
"This time, you're not being taken prisoner."
Poor thing. I almost feel sorry for it. Even without a dragonlance, he's in serious trouble.
"If we can catch up to him through all these walking corpses."
Delaying action three nets us a Short Sword +4 and a Staff Sling +3. A non-kender thief would get a lot of use from that sword. Hell, Gable still might.
For some reason, a single dead end pathway has the wrong ceiling and shows a standard sky tile. Either that, or there's a shaft leading up to the surface here. I find the thought cheerful.
The final delaying action. The prize for beating this one is a Hoopak +3. I don't know why any respectable wizard would spend time enchanting a hoopak.
This is actually one of the tougher set encounters, especially since we don't have an escort of knights anymore.
Random encounters can be far more dangerous in this area. Something like this is likely to end with several characters unconscious, since these things get multiple attacks per round and seem to have a pretty good THAC0.
"Put it down, lad, and let's talk this over."
"Hell with talking. I've got his arms, the rest of you get his legs. Princess, get that sword away from him!"
"That was actually pretty impressive."
"I don't know how he can hope to turn one already dead into a death knight. Are not such curses handed down from the Gods themselves?"
"If anyone could find a way, it would be Soth "
"Not while I have anything to say about it."
"Y'know, things like this are why we keep looking at you when people ask if one of us would be willing to sacrifice their life."
"It hasn't killed me yet, right?"
"Ah, excuse me. I was unclear. I intend to challenge all six of you."
For such a build-up, Soth isn't actually all that impressive. He's got a few dangerous attacks, but with that AC and less than 60 HP this actually ends pretty quickly. It could have gone much worse, however, if he'd gotten a good roll on his fireball attack and one or two characters failed their fear saving throw.
"What does it take to kill him?"
"I don't know, but I'm willing to keep trying until I figure it out."
"With what I have gathered today, I shall have an invincible army. Treasure your pathetic victory, it will not be long lived."
And after all that, it's definitely time for a well deserved rest before continuing onward.
Most of our characters are at or near 1 million experience at this point, and it's showing. We're actually coming up fairly close to maximum level at this point for a few characters, although it'll still take a bit longer to reach it. Amanda came in at level 8, and is catching up nicely. She won't have any issues given the amount of experience that gets passed around in this game. Gable died and was raised down in the tunnels, but as a thief it doesn't really matter since he doesn't benefit from constitution over about 16.