The Let's Play Archive

Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer

by Lt. Danger

Part 51: Justifications

The Truth, Part Nine - Cap'n Calliope's Companion Crunch

Okay, ladies and gentlemen, I have a question.

We've been running around Rashemen, pissing everyone off, ruining people's lives, and every time finishing quests by eating somebody's soul. It's close to the end of the game and we've acquired a fairly extensive collection of named-character essences.

My question is: why?

Well, we're about to find out.

* * *

Act Three brings us great opportunities to destroy lives and ruin several people's life works.

Akachi betrayed his god and almost sundered the planes in order to rescue his love, the Founder.

We can render his sacrifice moot with one sword stab.

Oh yeah, Safiya may have a few objections.

: She wronged you - yes. And you have every right to be angry. But to kill her? I can't let that happen. As a favor to me, at least - reconsider what you're about to do...
: Hush, Safiya, I am not afraid. If I am destroyed, I will become a part of you, my daughter, and all my knowledge will be yours.
: Hessa, Jassim... when I am gone, you will let the stranger go in peace. All our work depends on this.
: Any last words?

Even to the last, she's still utterly devoted to Akachi. Hmm.

: She was a piece of me... she did what she did out of love and you... I can never forgive you for this!

Safiya's Influence immediately drops by 70 points or so. She'll also bring this up in almost all of her conversations from here until the end of the game:


: {Cold and Empty} Spirit-eater, I will continue with you on your journey... but only for Akachi's sake.
: Now leave me be.

Anyway, the Founder's constructs ignore her final instructions and attack en masse. Foes defeated, joint wrecked, hopes dashed. Ho hum.

This is the most boring way to ruin the Founder's life.

* * *

Astute readers may have picked up on an intriguing omission from the last update.

Namely, I showed you how to drive Kaelyn, Okku and Gann out of the party, but didn't show anything on One of Many or Safiya.

That's because there isn't anything. Safiya actually has a block in her script that prevents her from getting below -70 Influence, which was the breaking point for everyone else. Safiya's the 'safe' companion that's always available and always sticks around, but there are ways to get rid of her permanently, most of them revolving around the Founder.

First up is to kill the Founder with less than 75 Influence. She flips the fuck out and leads the constructs in attacking you.

A nastier option is to threaten Safiya during the conversation with the Founder.

: Is that what you think of me? Is your opinion of me so devoid of respect? I trusted you, and in return, you belittle and betray me...
: Akachi sacrificed himself... because he saw what was best in me, even if I did not. To lose Safiya... is to render his sacrifice as nothing.

It's great because now it's the Founder who flips out. It turns out Safiya is the one person who rivals Akachi for the Founder's devotion. I suppose she is basically her daughter...

But this isn't even the best option.


: What? You will do no such thing! Her soul is a part of mine! I cannot let you do this...
: Myrkul forgets the strength of love... memory and identity may fade, but love endures. Even against the hunger of the Wall.

: [You concentrate upon the presence within you... stirring it to wakefulness. It is ravenous, as ever... wanting nothing but to fill itself up.]
: [You can feel the presence recoil... balking as it senses the Founder's soul. But the strength of Myrkul lies behind your will... and you command the presence to feed.]
: [Such a cry of anguish you have never known as that which shrieks in your mind, as you force the presence - the empty shell that was once Akachi the Betrayer - to reach forth and gorge on the soul of the woman he loved...]


It wouldn't have worked if we hadn't eaten Myrkul, of course - love can overcome anything, even the hunger of the Wall. But allied to the will of a god, well...

* * *

As far as I am aware, this is the only way to kill Safiya.

One of Many is like Safiya in that it doesn't have a 'leaving the party' dialogue, but there are a couple of ways of getting rid of the spirit. The first is rejecting it straight away after creating it in the Death God's Vault.

The second is more circuitous and involves being really dumb.

Letting One of Many have its vengeance is so, so obviously the wrong move here. Even Myrkul warns you against it.

: You have no idea what you have done - to yourself, and to the planes. Myrkul's power is now his, and we are in greater danger than ever.

Yeah, yeah, Influence bonus ahoy, but it's much better to take the hit and end Myrkul yourself. After all, this way means you can't torture Akachi by making him eat his beloved later on.

Boom, lights out.

The second phase of our incredibly stupid plan comes when we're back in Mulsantir, after having dealt with the Founder.

: :: Just tell me now. No one else can hear your voice in my head. ::
: :: No, Dark One. I must be alone with you. You will see why... ::

Herp a derp, not suspicious at all!

I don't do things by half-measures. This is about as remote and isolated as we can get.

: :: I have gained another voice, Dark One. One that stands out among the Many. It would speak with you, but has insisted on waiting until you were alone. ::

Suddenly we realise what a bad idea this was.

A scary black cloud of smoke engulfs One of Many, eventually dissipating to reveal...

Oh shit.

Actually, as a side-note, "Oh God, what have I done" sums up One of Many as a character just perfectly. This is most apparent in the various epilogues One of Many can get at the end.

: :: For your fatal lapse in judgment, I am thankful. I was a dead god, soon to be forgotten, with no hope of escaping the Astral Plane. ::
: :: Now I have a new, powerful form that, in time, will allow me to reclaim what I have lost and become a god again! ::

So hilariously pathetic.

: [Failure] :: Oh yes, you can help me, but I will not break your curse. ::
: :: Ironically, your little "curse," which I wisely bestowed so long ago, will prove the key to taking what is rightfully mine. ::
: What do you mean?

Admittedly this is pretty awesome. Now there's someone I can finally stab in revenge for this spirit-eater curse. You know... if I knew where to stab.

One of Many's God form is one of the toughest fights in the game, largely because you're entirely on your own. The God form hits hard in melee and casts Warlock invocations at range.

Lucky for us that Rogues excel at single combat, eh?

: :: Why did this happen? ::
: :: I... underestimated the strength of the God's voice, and he claimed control of the Many. I can assure you it will not happen again, Dark One. ::

This is how we kill One of Many once he's in the party proper.

I admit it wouldn't be too bad an idea to let One of Many consume Myrkul. Having Myrkul on call within the construct would be quite handy - for his knowledge or perhaps even as a Wizard or Cleric manifestation. However, we need Myrkul's strength inside us to do all the really cool things in Mask, so we'll take the Influence hit and Devour Myrkul ourselves.

* * *

There's a couple more special ways to force companions out of the party. For Okku, we have to speak to the Wood Man of Ashenwood:

: No, little one, the mistake was mine. I should have torn you in half while you slept...
: Prepare yourself, little one. I will wash myself in your blood and pick my teeth with your shattered bones!

Gann doesn't have a trigger that causes him to turn on the party (aside from low Influence) but Kaelyn has two additional ones. The best we won't see until next update, but the other way is right back in Act One, when we first recruited her.

: That would imply I have admitted defeat.
: I have not. This gate will open, I merely need to find the means to unlock it.
: No matter what I try, this gate blocks my efforts. I can find no key, no means of opening it. I do not know what more to do.

Yeah, I know, that came out of nowhere.

Now, if you remember, we were originally looking for Kaelyn for her siblings Efrem and Susah. What the hell are we going to tell them?

: [Success] No... No, Kaelyn... my dear sister.

Hilarious. The best part is that Susah is actually totally right!

: I... I know you are right, Susah. But I should have been with her. drat grandfather's court and the laws of Kelemvor that they uphold.
: I was Kaelyn's guardian, she named me her Stag. Now the Menagerie is broken, and I am... lost.
: Brother, no!

: Come, Susah, we must retrieve Kaelyn's body and return it to Celestia. Grandfather's exile only applied while she yet lived...
: Oh Efrem...

Angel tears are the sweetest tears of all.

* * *

The purpose of all this, apart from being funny as hell, is to gather essences.

There are fifteen unique essences in the game, though most are not available without Devour Soul. Our five companions make up five of these essences, the rest are various important NPCs from all over the campaign.

Specifically, we have: Araman, the Founder, Gann-of-Dreams, Gnarlthorn, Gulk'aush, Kaelyn the Dove, Myrkul, Okku, One of Many, Safiya, two Shadow of the Voids, Shape of Fire, the nine members of the Slumbering Coven, U'juk the uthraki, and finally the Wood Man.

These essences can be molded to form unique and powerful special items. In fact, these are the most powerful items in the game, in reflection of how difficult it is to gather the necessary ingredients. In reality we don't actually have all of these essences - obviously I don't want to lose my companions, while getting all the Coven essences is really fiddly and Araman's isn't available until you fight him in the City of Judgement at the end of the game. Also, two of the additional ingredients (the Broken Scythe and the Broken Ring) are only available through the console, making those essences effectively useless.

Anyway, the items:

Gulk'aush's Essence + any magical Gem (Orglash Crystal, Gem of Seeing, etc.)

Amulet of Pure Love

This amulet appears plain and unordinary. When you hold it in your hand, you think you feel a faint echo - an echo of happiness, of complete fulfilment. But as soon as you release the amulet, the feeling is gone and you're unsure whether it was real or imagined.

Immunity: Fear
Immunity: Level/Ability Drain
Regeneration: +2
Greater Restoration 1/Day

2 Coven Essences

Lesser Eyes of the Coven

This mask was constructed using the essences of the Slumbering Coven.

Charisma: +4
Intelligence: +4
Wisdom: +4
Deep Slumber 1/Day
Phantasmal Killer 1/Day

5 Coven Essences

Eyes of the Coven

This mask was formed from many spirits of the Slumbering Coven.

Charisma: +9
Intelligence: +9
Wisdom: +9
Premonition 1/Day
True Seeing 1/Day
Weird 1/Day

Gnarlthorn's Essence + Rags

Gnarlthorn Bow

This powerful bow has been infused with the essence of the ancient treant, Gnarlthorn. It is strongly bound to the natural world of the Prime Material Plane, making it a mighty weapon against those from other planes.

Attack Bonus: +4
Bonus Feat: Improved Critical (Longbow)
Unlimited Ammo: Nature's Rage

Myrkul's Essence + Broken Scythe

Myrkul's Wrath

This scythe appears to be made of black stone. It is infused with the spirit of the dead God of the Dead, Myrkul. You sense that it wants you to die the most horrible death imaginable.

Damage Bonus: Negative Energy 5d6
Enhancement Bonus: +10
Immunity: Death Magic
Massive Criticals: 2d12
On Hit: Slay Good DC 26
On Hit: Wounding DC 24
Gate 1/Day
Decreased AC: -12

Founder's Essence + Broken Ring + 2 Pristine Earth Essences + 2 Pristine Fire Essences

Ring of the Founder

Melding Nefris' essence with the broken ring has relieved its anemic appearance. Not only has the ring perfectly mended, but it seems that all of the gems have been restored and empowered. Strangely, even though the ring radiates power, it appears to be absorbing nearby energy.

Bonus Spell Slot: Wizard Level 7
Bonus Spell Slot: Wizard Level 8
Bonus Spell Slot: Wizard Level 9
Damage Reduction: 5/-
Intelligence: +8
Wisdom: +8
Regeneration: +2

U'juk's Essence + Adamantine Ingot

Ring of the Uthraki

This ring appears to be made of a soft, malleable clay, and will indeed change size as needed to fit its wearer snugly. Once in place, however, it becomes as hard as diamond.

AC Bonus vs. Shapechanger: +5
Freedom of Movement
Eagle's Splendor 1/Day
Shapechange 1/Day

Wood Man's Essence + Charred Branch

Staff of Ashenwood

This artifact is infused with the ancient spirit of the Wood Man and all of the might of Ashenwood. Holding the staff fills you with great vigor, but also a flood of emotion and power that's challenging to control. The savage anger of the staff is matched in intensty only by its pity for you.

Hitpoints: +20
Damage Bonus vs. Beast: 3d12
Damage Bonus vs. Magical Beast: 3d12
Damage Bonus vs. Plant: 3d12
Enhancement Bonus: +9
Immunity: Disease
Immunity: Poison
Reduced Saving Throw: Will -10
Mass Heal 1/Day
Storm of Vengeance 1/Day

I love creating minor magical artifacts. So much fun.

The other essences are a special case. They can be applied individually to magical items to give a stat boost, like so:

Gann + Cloak = +10 Charisma
Kaelyn + Amulet = +10 Wisdom
Okku/One of Many + Belt = +10 Strength
Safiya + Helmet = +10 Intelligence

Interestingly, we can use Araman's Essence in the same way - applying it to a ring adds a +10 Intelligence bonus.

However if you're ruthless enough to gather all four of the companions' essences (Okku and One of Many are interchangeable), you can combine them to form

Hitpoints: +50
Damage Immunity: Negative Energy 100%
Charisma: +12
Constitution: +12
Dexterity: +12
Intelligence: +12
Strength: +12
Wisdom: +12
Immunity: Level Drain
Reduced Saving Throws: Universal -15
Damage Vulnerability: Divine 100%
Damage Vulnerability: Positive Energy 100%

Tempting, isn't it?

But if we're going down the path of ultimate power, I'd rather keep Safiya, Gann, Kaelyn and the rest alive. It's nice to have witnesses to your ascent to cosmic domination.

* * *

One last thing to show off.

Nak'kai's the shaman of the Ice Troll Berserker Lodge in Mulsantir. When we took Okku to see him, he performed a magical ritual to restore the bear god's memories. This time around, we have One of Many.

: You have done what? I see...
: Yes, I... suppose such a spirit could be used for what I have in mind...
: There is a ritual that I can perform which should sate your hunger... at least temporarily.


: On the contrary, it has worked just as I intended. In fact, it worked even better than I had hoped.
: Explain yourself now, shaman!
: I cannot, in good conscience, strengthen what is essentially an abomination of nature. The spirits warned me of its existence and I had to step in and do something.
: The abilities that your curse has given you provided the perfect opportunity for me to take control of the situation.

What results is a very, very, very big fight.

I take it this means I can't join the lodge?

As soon as the last berserker falls, the guard telthor from outside runs in.

The 'Badger Apocalypse' fight is supposedly the hardest battle in the game. 30 levels of Barbarian, stats of 30 and above... the only weak spot is his Will saves, and most strategies for the Angry Badger involve using mind-altering spells to render him useless while the party hacks away at him. We don't seem to need that though, for some reason.

To be honest I'm not sure what is going on here - he should be hitting for massive amounts of damage, not scoring zeros all over the place.

Oh well, no biggie, I Devour his soul and get a crummy Volatile for it. Good XP though, and a nice magical ring too.

What a mess. We'd best clear out sharpish before somebody notices. To the Fugue Plane!