The Let's Play Archive

Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer

by Lt. Danger

Part 21: I Suppose This Makes Us The Eagles, Then

Act Two Chapter Thirteen - I'd've Preferred A Three-Headed Dog

The shadow gargoyles said that Lienna had consulted with the Slumbering Coven of Coveya Kurg'annis before kidnapping us from the Merdelain. We're off to find out what they told her.

Mask's development team structured the game around 'design bottlenecks' - the idea being that you could combine a strong, tight narrative with free-roaming player choice, so long as you included key bottleneck points that every player had to go through to progress the game. Players could do as they wished - be good, be evil, go to the Wells of Lurue or visit the Ashenwood - so long as they came back for the bottlenecks and critical story information. Freedom loosely chained with narrative.

The last bottleneck was the fight with Okku, when we found out we were a spirit-eater. Let's hope this bottleneck is less depressing.


'Coveya Kurg'annis' turns out to be a sunny day at the beach. Where are all the hags?

: This place reeks of evil and rot.
: I can smell rotting and corruption in the air - and it isn't you, spirit-eater. It is a stench of bloated corpses and twisted spirits.

: Perhaps the fall of night shall grant us a bridge...
: ...though I fear what that will bring us. We will not be the only petitioners at this gate.
: Are you all right? You sound uneasy.
: It is said one cannot go home again - but for me, this is the first time.
: I have walked to this place many times in my dreams. To be here, in the waking world, it is a little unsettling.

Gann has a lot of content in this module, mostly to do with finding out about his mother and his origins. Some people were caught off-guard by this - they didn't take him along and ended up missing out on his personal quest and romance.

I always hated it in NWN2 when you'd go to a new town or dungeon and miss out on tons of important companion dialogue because it wasn't obvious that you had to take Neeshka to Ammon Jerro's Haven and not Zhjaeve or Qara. But this is the opposite of that: if you're not going to take Gann the half-human-half-hag hagspawn to the city of goddamn hags, where are you going to take him?

Not to mention whenever Coveya Kurg'annis comes up in conversation Gann says "Make sure to take me along for extra content!"

This situation (where one companion gets lots of content in a specific module) will come up two times more in the game and both are equally obvious.

: I have only seen this place in dreams, so I am almost as much a stranger to its waters and its ingress as you.
: But something tells me that nightfall will come with its own clues.

That's the Sunken City. Swimming is not an option (see those tentacles in the water?)

The half-eaten waterlogged corpses bobbing in the tide and washed up on the shore provide no hints either. You'd think sea monsters would swallow their victims whole, wouldn't you? But maybe we're not dealing with sea monsters here.

There is a creepy fisherman though.

: Just as well. You'll not catch any fish in these waters. They don't even come out until night-time.
: Why don't you fish at night?
: Far too dangerous. The last fisherman to own this gear wrote about it in his journal, which is still here.
: What happened to the last fisherman?

What does he mean by that?

Calliope doesn't have the Wisdom to see this, but:


: [Wisdom] You are catching something other than fish?
: Ah ha. You're insightful, so I'll let you in on a little secret...
: There are things other than fish that can get caught on a hook or in a net. This particular place can yield many treasures to the patient.
: What is special about this place?
: See those buildings off the shore? By all appearances they are ancient, flooded, abandoned ruins.
: But if the wind is blowing the right way and you listen closely, especially before dusk, you can hear faint sounds...
: [Listen] Yes, it sounds like malicious laughter and cries of torment.
: Ah good! That means there will soon be good fishing here this day.
: What do you mean?
: Whatever beings inhabit these ruins often dump their victims and other refuse in the Lake, and then the currents carry it within reach of my pole and net.
: You fish for floating corpses?
: As the last fisherman here discovered, it's far more lucrative than selling carp at the going rate of a copper per pound. Many floaters come with their coin purses still attached.

So Fentomy has a secret. But secrets can hide other secrets, as we are beginning to find out with our spirit-eater curse.

: For what do you fish, Fentomy? It is a strange fisherman who plies his trade at the Lake of Dreams.
: Perhaps the city is not the only thing cloaked in illusion in this place? Perhaps there is a greeter, a minder of the antechamber that welcomes petitioners such as we.
: You've been unmasked, Fentomy.

Dao are a kind of genie. Earth-elemental genies, as it happens, to go with djinni (air), efreeti (fire) and marids (water).

: I have no interest in deceiving you. When visiting more primitive worlds such as this, I typically adopt a form that will not alarm the indigenous inhabitants.
: Why are you really here?

If you don't have enough influence with Gann for him to unmask Fentomy, Safiya will do it automatically. Or you can use Spellcraft, Lore or Spot to do it yourself - and gain Influence with Safiya the Sceptic.

But that doesn't bring us any closer to getting to Coveya Kurg'annis. In fact, the whole area is a puzzle.

The previous fisherman's journal spells it out for dumb players like us:


This is the journal of a fisherman that has been left exposed to the elements. Most of the pages are either stuck together or the ink has smudged so badly that the fisherman's barely legible scribblings are completely unreadable. The last few pages of the journal remains mostly intact:

Yep, this is the place that drunk hagspawn told me about. Found two bodies to salvage just walking along the shore. And I'm about to fish another one out of the water. Don't know which boat these sailors drowned off of, and I don't care. They went to their watery graves with their pockets full of gold!

Strange fella came outa nowhere today, some bloke named Fentomy. Took an interest in my fishing and warned me not to stay here when it gets dark. Crazy talk, but I chased him off with a few choice insults. I was here first, so I gets first right to salvage!

Waited here since morning and nothing, but then in the late afternoon, a pair or rich bodies bobbed up. Maybe the light towards dusk plays tricks on sailors and they crash into the ruins offshore. I never see the shipwrecks, but sometimes if I listen closely I can hear some ungodly screams. Heh, poor fools crying out for mercy from Umberlee when she's got none.

New bodies washed ashore late this afternoon. They was loaded with valuables too. Some of 'em don't look much like sailors, but they're dead and loaded all the same, so they could be floating up from the Hells for all I care. Another week of this and I can retire in a nice place, far away. Maybe the Sword Coast. I hear Neverwinter's a nice place...

Hiding behind a bush as I write this. Umberlee have mercy! I should have listened to that man Fentomy and not stayed here past dusk. I just got carried away and didn't notice the time. Then some black, swirling eye just appeared on the shore, and evil creatures from the Hells came and started walking into it and getting sucked inside. Dear gods, if I survive this night, I'll pack up my fishing gear and never return!

He obviously didn't live to carry out his resolution.

Anyway, the journal spells out what Gann and Fentomy hinted at earlier: dusk will bring the path forward. So we wait until dusk.

Note that this is the second and last time Wait Until Dusk on the rest menu is useful at all.


This puzzle was the cause of some frustration for Evil players. Since the puzzle is based on waiting for nightfall, on arriving in the area the game advances time to make it day so that there is a puzzle to solve. It wouldn't be much of a challenge if you showed up and the Shadow Portal was already there, would it?

But this sudden time advancement would cause some players to run out of Spirit Energy suddenly and die, for no reason at all. They had to time it so that they arrived during the day and only lost a little Spirit Energy from time advancement.


As always, the plane of darkness and misdirection reveals inner truths (?)

Fentomy, for instance.

: Do you recall the fisherman on the beach when you first arrived in Lakeshore? I am he.
: I find it strange that a dao would waste his time fishing.
: If you know the dao, then you are aware of our deep connection to the earth. Personally, I love plucking things from the water to the ground.

Anyway, Fentomy's real mission is to recover an ancient earth elemental hidden in the depths of the Imaskari ruins. He wants us to kill the elemental, banishing it to the Elemental Plane of Earth, allowing him to capture it and use it as a colossal miner. He can't do it himself because Coveya Kurg'annis floats upon the lake and Fentomy has a fear of water.

We've been enslaved before - when we ran errands for Axle and Nevalle and Nasher. We didn't like it much.

: Nor do I, wretched spirit. I should liberate your head from your shoulders and free you of your foolish beliefs.
: Our leader speaks for me, as well. Indeed, you are not wise to talk of such things in my presence, dao.

Yes, yes, point taken.

He gives us a key to a side-door into the city of hags, so we can sneak inside. That's the most boring way to enter, though.

Here it is: the Sunken City!

And they've got their very own double act guarding the front door.

: Join the crowd. We're placing bets on how long each of you will wait before you either give up and leave... or snap.
: Heh, see them snap. Snap!
: [Diplomacy] Can I get in on the betting?
: [Success] Har! No one's ever asked that before. You're a good sport, you. Okay, Mulv, what do you think. Shall we let the nice petitioner bet?
: No! No bet! Bets off!

: Wrong! Mulv wrong! Smash, snap!
: Whoa, calm down Mulv. I'm sure the stupid petitioner didn't mean it.
: Stu... stupid!

My words exactly.

: I imagine such "droppings" were intentional - hags are rarely afflicted with maternal instincts common to other races.

Enough messing about. We need to get inside.

: Yeah, you and everyone else. You'll have to wait.
: Where is the back of the line?

Another puzzle. This is probably my favourite in the game, because it reads like something out of a fairy tale.

: [Failure] Yeah, here's the thing. We'd love to take your gold...
: Gold, goldy gold!
: Calm down, Mulv. If hagspawn could cry I would be close to it right now because, much as I'd like to line my pockets, we just can't let anyone else in.
: Why can't you let me in?

: Snap!
: Exactly, Mulv. It's highly entertaining when the petitioners fight each other, but sending you in would probably turn them on us.
: We've only got the numbers to control a crowd about half this size.
: If I get half of the petitioners to leave, then will you let me through?

We're going to use trickery and underhandedness to get to the front of the queue. And the best way to trick someone is to know more than they do, so we quiz Turlok on the particulars of our plucky petitioners.


: I, too, prefer speaking with you than others of my kind.
: That is a male hagspawn?
: Yes - you sound surprised.
: Well, they look a lot different than you.
: We spawn of hags come in many shapes, sizes, and temperaments, much like the men and women of Rashemen.

: I suspect I inherited the features of my father - and there is a certain awareness I carry that makes me wonder if dreaming shaped me.
: Not all spawns can walk in dreams as I do - in fact, I do not know of a one that can.

* * *

The petitioners are a varied bunch. The first is a genasi - a part-genie.

Fire genasi are especially hot-blooded. We use Diplomacy to work out what his problem is.

: No sooner did I attain my place in line than the Slumbering Coven decided to stop giving audiences. So I waited, with the patience that only royalty can muster.
: Eventually, natural bodily functions imposed themslves and I needed relif. But there are no appropriate facilities within Coveya Kurg'annis.
: So I was forced to come outside of Coveya Kurg'annis to use the facilities here. And when I was finished, the guards would not let me back in! The insolence!
: [Diplomacy] How dreadful. You should not have to tolerate such insolence.

One down. Four to go.

A pack of telthors next. They don't actually have any business with the Slumbering Coven; they just like eating the victims that wash ashore after the hags are done with them.

: We do what comes naturally, cousin bear.
: These telthors act as common beasts and disgrace my kind. Such petulant children should be disciplined - by fear or by fang.
: I agree. Something needs to be done here.
: It has been too long since I have disciplined a wayward pup. I will enjoy this.

That's two.

Now it's the turn of the uthraki. Gruuf's friends are waiting in the queue inside the city. Gruuf himself is waiting to give them food to sustain them.

The last time we met with uthraki, it ended in violence. I like to keep a consistent encounter policy.

After that, it's the mindflayer. Gud-bugh-ka is also waiting for someone on the inside: his illithid pal Gud-bugh-ach. If you like, you can offer to look for him when you get inside as a side-quest.

Alternatively, if you want to get rid of him:

: :: Some illithids deign to push air through their throats to communicate with the slave races. I do not. ::
: I am not a slave.
: :: So utter your meat-flaps, but your mind reveals the truth. By Ilsensine! The manner of your slavery is more cruel than even the illithids could devise. ::
: :: I feel no shame to admit that I would rather face a squad of githyanki than whatever being holds your chain. ::
: I've faced the githyanki before.

The illithids were the ones who originally enslaved the gith races, thousands of years ago. The githyanki and githzerai bear a healthy hatred for their former masters, to the point where they organise illithid-hunting parties.

: :: Preposterous. The githyanki have no business on such a rural planet as this. ::
: [Lore/Bluff] There were no fewer than six Gish Mindslayers, led by a Knight wielding a Silver Sword.

In reward for our 'warning' we get the quest reward and Gud-bugh-ka's disappearance.

The last petitioner is the vampire. We could just open the coffin (it's locked, but either Calliope or Safiya's familiar Kaji could pick it) and fight Count Crowroost.

It's more fun to do this, though.


* * *

: Gold?
: No, Mulv, not this one. We'll charge the next one through double, har-har.

You only have to drive off half the petitioners for Turlok to let you through. However, he'll demand a bribe of 50,000 gp.

Unless, that is, Gann is with you and you have sufficient Influence:


: {Interrupting} I think you will make an exception for ones such as us... these you see beside me are merely my servants.
: To lesser beings they serve as my voice in mundane matters, but your insolence has forced me to voice my thoughts.
: Must my words be sharpened with anger for you to stand aside? It is not my wish to shame you - nor mention your insult to the Coven.

* * *

Inside at last.

Coveya Kurg'annis consists of a ring of chambers and corridors that circle a central hall. Each chamber is a spot in the line; this first chamber is Spot 4.

If we want to get to the Slumbering Coven, we'll need to jump the queue. Unfortunately, this means going through Spots 3, 2 and 1 - and the people waiting are unlikely to let us through peacefully.

Spot 3 is Gawatha the ogre-mage. He has a slave: a human child named Kepob, bought from an archmage with the promise of 'especial significance.'

: Ah, 'Kepob' has a less than flattering translation... let us say "dog that eats its own excrement" is the most polite translation. I imagine this boy is treated little better than his nickname.

We buy Kepob for 20,000 gold. Gawatha no longer has any need to see the Coven, so he goes home.

The other petitioners won't be so helpful.

Uthraki again. The only thing notable about the inevitable fight

is that Kepob dies in it. Don't worry, even if you do bring him to the end of the queue, he just runs away anyway.

Spot 1 is taken by Ankhriva the lich.

: Your life is limited to a certain number of years, days, hours, or minutes. Yet you chose to fritter that precious remainder in an attempt to be first in a line that does not move.
: My minions and I have infinite patience. I will remain here at the front until the Slumbering Coven is ready to see me, whether they take days or years.

It's fitting that the last obstacle is a lich and his undead minions. Similarly, it's odd how the hagspawn guards call everyone "petitioner" - a term I last heard in Planescape, used to refer to the souls of the dead. And remember what Gann said about Fentomy? "Perhaps there is a greeter, a minder of the antechamber..." were the words he used. Personally, I would have chosen "psychopomp" - an entity that greets individuals on death and guides them to their afterlife, e.g. Charon the boatman, or St. Peter at the gates of Heaven.

I mean, he literally catches the dead on his fishing hook and brings them ashore. This is too easy, Fentomy.

Ankhriva proves uncooperative and we have to fight him as well for first place in the queue. Although I'm not sure what this is supposed to accomplish. The Slumbering Coven aren't giving audiences any more... the queue is not moving.

We're first in line for nothing.

Maybe not. Mistress is major-domo to the Slumbering Coven and boss of the hagspawn guards. The lockdown is her doing.

: We came all this way, and you deny us entrance? Do you truly speak for the Coven, or for yourself?
: Filthy half-breed, speak to me in such a tone again, and there shall be bloodshed.
: I dare you to act on such words, Coven servant! Let us pass! We have w-

: You echo the words of a half-breed? Revolting!
: "Revolting" is not the first word we would have used to describe you, but it is close enough.
: By coming here you forfeit your life and those of your companions. The Coven must be protected at all costs.
: [Diplomacy] I came here to speak with the Coven, not harm them.
: [Success] I believe you. However, one rarely controls one's own destiny. And those that carry the spirit-eater curse are particularly at the mercy of fate.

Hah! The mess with the petitioners and the unmoving queue - this entire update - was our fault, just like the troubles in Ashenwood. And we've never even been here before!

: She could have consumed me, but she did not. For the time being, the spirit-eater's hunger remains at her mercy.
: If the curse grants you the power to make a Bear King bow to you, then you are too much of a threat.
: Your fate will be the same as others who proved dangerous, or nuisances to the Coven.
: What do you mean?

: What of my mother? I want to know her fate, and why I was cast out - and you will answer me, hag.
: Yes, I remember you now. How ironic that you should ask of your mother.

And we're teleported away.

Oh dear.

Oh dear.