Part 46: Sic Semper Deis
The Truth, Part Four - Don't Trust The WraithThis update, like all good updates, starts in a graveyard.
Each stage of companion loyalty brings its own benefits. The first stage that does this is 'Supportive,' available at 25 Influence. For most companions, it's just a single feat that provides a minor stat bonus: +1 Intelligence, +1 Wisdom, etc. For One of Many, however, things are a little more complicated.
: :: Before you created this form, you met another spirit that stood with me, called "the Brute." Excepting me, the Brute is the most prominent of the Many. ::
: :: Yes, go on. ::
: :: The Brute has... different capabilities from me and could serve your will in any situation that requires more forcefulness than subtlety. ::
: :: If you wish it, Dark One, I will temporarily grant control of the Many to the Brute. ::
The Brute sounds like this.
Once the Brute is unlocked, you can switch between the Brute and the Child in conversation. This allows One of Many to swap classes at any time. Need a door unlocked? Talk to the Child. Want an enemy brutalised? Call on the Brute.
The Brute's a none-too-shabby replacement for Okku. His high hitpoints and natural regeneration are especially useful for players with high Craving who cannot afford the cost of resting.
* * *
There isn't much party interaction in Mask of the Betrayer. It's a shame because it makes the party seem a little... static. Like maybe Safiya and Gann and Kaelyn are all really shy and because they haven't been properly introduced to each other, they can't have any conversations together because that'd be rude so they just stand around all the time, awkwardly trying not to catch each other's eye. Perhaps they're British or something.
On the other hand it's clear the companions are intended to stand alone. Each represents a different take on the key themes of Mask - for example, Safiya is mostly motivated throughout the game by her sense of duty to her mother; Gann explicitly rejects all notion of filial piety; and Kaelyn is torn between her relationship to Kelemvor and her grandfather, and her sense of right and wrong.
: The realms of Torm, Tyr and Ilmater lie upon the crest of each mountain, and the triumvirate forms the House of the Triad. It is a place of great beauty, where the orchestrations of devas are carried on wind and sun.
: But it is sealed to me, and never again shall I know its comfort.
: But as a priest of Ilmater, can't you go to this realm.
: The House of the Triad is closed to me, as is all of Celestia... even Ilmater's realm, with its temple that embraces the sky.
One of the reasons Kaelyn is such an interesting character is this inner conflict she possesses. She firmly believes she made the right choice in founding the Second Crusade, but her dialogue betrays her deep regard for Celestia and her family.
That love places her at odds with One of Many, a creature filled with nothing but loathing and hatred for all forms of life.
: Your words are true. Such is the purpose of the House of the Triad.
: :: Hnh. The House of the Triad holds more law than good, I think. But the little priestess discovered that quickly enough among its own blood, did it not? ::
This section is a little strange in that agreeing with One of Many actually causes you to lose Influence with it. Why?
: :: Laws are the thread that stitch the plane's wounds together, and it knows what I have always known - there is no justice in the planes, and such sutures cannot last. ::
: Except what we make for ourselves.
Did that last section seem familiar to you? It's very close to the conversation Kaelyn has with Myrkul at the end of Act Two.
Like Myrkul, One of Many prizes 'comedy' over justice, and baits Kaelyn with it relentlessly. I say relentlessly, this is the one conversation in the game that Kaelyn (or any companion) talks directly to One of Many, but Evil characters will find Kaelyn is very quick to get into arguments about her Crusade, even when she knows better.
Anyway, I get the feeling this conversation may not have been fully finished, because there isn't the proper distinction between agreeing with Kaelyn because you think she's right and agreeing with her to goad her into an argument with One of Many. The next conversation shows how it should have been presented:
: :: Such flattery the songbird makes... "oily shadow"... one day it will drown on such words. ::
: You have constructed a beast from the ashes of the condemned. You have done a criminal act to give voice to those whose hands are thick with the blood of the innocent and helpless.
We've used dialogue skills on our companions before, but mainly to get Influence gains. We've never used them with intent to deceive before.
Kaelyn's a tough mark to con - this check requires 32 ranks in Bluff to pull off. This isn't even the hardest check she has.
Successfully deceiving the Dove nets us Influence gains with both Kaelyn and One of Many - and there are several more opportunities further on in Kaelyn's dialogue tree. This is probably the easiest way to gain Influence with One of Many.
: If the time comes to make a stand, make sure I am with you. My powers are strong against the dead.
: [Bluff/Lie] I would be interested in knowing how you... I mean, you and I... would defeat him.
: [Success] Of course. I have been thinking a great deal about such strategies since it made its presence known.
: :: This should prove... amusing. Let us listen. ::
: :: Sage advice, were I not warned in advance. ::
: Do not attempt illusions or anything affecting the mind. He is hundreds of souls in one, and he will shrug off any such attack easily. That advice is all I can offer.
Hmm. Reasonable advice, if not unexpected. Will we get the opportunity to act on it in future, or is this just a characterisation set-piece? Only time will tell.
Though there is interesting dialogue if you decide to defend One of Many from Kaelyn's accusations:
: I can barely see you through your moral pronouncements. One of Many will prove its worth.
: [Influence Gain: One of Many] :: Let the songbird preach, it fuels arrogance. Let it fly high - and fall again. The greater the distance, the more amusing it is to watch. ::
: [Influence Loss: Kaelyn] Cast away my opinions if you will, but you will not be pleased in the presence of that abomination for long.
: Heed me - you cannot make a servant of such a thing. It is death's shadow, and it shall haunt you until death comes for you.
* * *
Let's skip ahead a few Influence gains. Kaelyn is now at Loyal status and wants to bestow us with the Blessing of the Menagerie.
: Only when I have traveled with one for some time may such a blessing be done - as you have supported me, allow me to support you with this gift.
Oh wait, it gets better. Let's cheat Kaelyn up to Devoted.
: There was a time in the past where I felt I had the power to lead others in a righteous cause. Now, I see what a true leader is capable of.
: I, and my brothers and sisters, bow to you. You have earned our loyalty, our devotion, and the bond that comes with it.
The check for this is 35, which we normally can make, but I thought I'd show you what happens if you fail because it's just heartbreaking.
No second Influence gain, but the satisfaction of knowing how utterly we have deceived Kaelyn is just as good.
: Our philosophies and our desire to save others link us already. In traveling with you and seeing proof of your heart, I can channel my strength through that link to empower you.
: You may find greater calm in seeing wisdom and learning from the events around you, but it is not solely a meditative bond. When others seek to prevent you from acting, they will find they cannot.
Remember this? We chose the Wolf last time, and it suited us well.
: A name? I had not thought of that. What name would you like?
: My siblings are the Stag, the Lions, and the Crow. I am the Dove. What title would suit you?
She's not happy...
: :: Yes, that title fits you well... like a shroud. It is done. ::
...but too late, no backsies. The Jackal joins the Menagerie.
(Actually since this is a cheat I'll be reverting anyway, so no it doesn't count for real.)
* * *
Finally for today, we unlock One of Many's Loyalty feat.
: :: Yes, I've noticed that. ::
: :: Perhaps you do not realize it, Dark One, but I have noticed that you have begun to emit a faint energy that is very similar to my own dark aura. ::
: :: If you were to embrace this energy, it could empower you, like it does the Many. ::
: :: Are there any drawbacks to this? ::
: :: But your strength will be such that you can force whatever is needed from your adversaries. ::
Negative Aura grants both us and One of Many some miscellaneous stat bonuses: +1 Strength, +1 Intelligence, +1 Constitution, +1 Dexterity. Additionally we receive Fast Healing, a +6 bonus to Intimidate, a -6 penalty to Diplomacy and a 10% bonus to all energy gained from the Spirit Gorge power.
Pretty handy, right? Well, it's not the last upgrade One of Many gives us - and it's not the last upgrade One of Many can get either. For that, though, we'll need to visit the Sunken City.