Part 3: Chapter Zero, Part Two - We Still Haven't Started The Game YetThis interminable tutorial continues to threaten the very existence of the LP. Only by completing the Four Ancient Challenges of the Fair Harvest can we finally bring this nightmare to a close.
So... two challenges down, two to go. Tarmas is our next stop.
: Do you know they're actually granting prizes for the fattest pig? As if the creatures needed encouragement.
Tarmas is the local wizard, and true to the stereotype he's a miserable recluse too smart for his own good. He's also Amie's teacher and foster parent.
: I expect you're here for the aptly-named Knaves' Challenge. Surrounded by muck and reek, and why not encourage our children to be thieves, as well? That's what I always tell them.
: But you'll need to find someone who can pick pockets, and break locks, and search for hidden trinkets, if you want to compete.
: What about Kipp? He's always nicking vials from Tarmas, and he's right over there, behind the tent.
As it happens, none of us have invested any skill points in Sleight of Hand (the picketpocketing skill) - so none of us are allowed to pick pockets.
Which is just as well, because it's useless. And against the law or something.
: For the Knaves' Challenge, right? Yeah, I been watching everybody run about, looking under wagons and poking at that big old chest.
: They're doin' it all wrong. I'll help you win, long as I can be on your team.
: All right. You can join us.
: That was you? Every day during drills I get hit by acorns. And it was this kid - I can't believe nobody told me!
: Georg had me thinking it was pixies!
: Ha! I like this kid already!
Christ, Bevil, he's just a kid. Calm down.
Kipp is also an orphan, hence the dirty clothes and lack of moral fibre. West Harbor's just chock full of orphans, isn't it?
: Don't trouble yourself on my account. I'll settle with the young artiste and his frogs later.
: Before you begin, I suppose you'll want to hear the rhyme?
: Georg asked for a rhyme this year. That's what wizards do, we compose rhymes. Here, I'll demonstrate. Ahem.
: I've hidden three feathers, scattered them wide/Placed White in a box, and locked it inside
: Blue followed termite tracks, down where they ran/Green in the pocket of same-colored man
: Count yourself fortunate for that. I once shared a wagon with a kobold bard. He rhymed "sadder" with "bladder" and sang fondly of his navel.
: As dreadful as it was, did you understand what the rhyme meant?
And now the game tests our level of reading comprehension. How stupid do you think we are, Obisidian?
If the Tourney of Talent was an introduction to wizards and spellcasting, and the Archery Contest and Harvest Brawl are for fighters and combat, the Knave's Challenge is all about Bards, Rogues and skills.
Three hiding places...
...three feathers. All three testing the basic Rogue skills: disarming traps, picking locks and cutting purses.
: Thank the gods. The Knaves' Challenge is won, and I can go someplace dry.
Grumpy bastard. You wonder why he came to live here in the first place. Amie's his apprentice, maybe she knows something.
The War isn't the same War as the War in Neverwinter Nights 1 (DON'T ASK). This is a different epic clash of Good and Evil that shook the foundations of the world over a generation ago.
: Well... nothing, really. I know they were stubborn because they stayed to protect their home when the demons attacked. And I know they weren't from West Harbor.
: Ugh. Bevil think I'd be more like the other girls... whispering about boys and giggling.
Oh, great. Bevil plays with girls all day and Amie's a self-defined asexual. We're the village's weirdo clique.
No matter. We're almost done for the day. One more challenge to attempt before the Fair is done.
Brother Merring is running the Harvest Brawl.
Obsidian likes to make use of skill checks like this. Even though this particular Lore check doesn't net us anything, it adds a little extra flavour to the dialogue tree.
: And a good one, too. Lathander delights in contests of physical skill. People forget that.
: Though I must admit - few such contests are quite as... enthusiastic... as the Brawl.
: Why are you running the Harvest Brawl?
: Better that I'm on hand to do Lathander's work, and to see that all is fought in fairness.
: Have there been injuries already?
: A few scrapes and broken bones, mostly at the hands of the Mossfelds. Poor Garth Lannon is but a wisp of a boy, but still he insisted upon facing lads twice his size in the ring.
: The Morninglord sets us upon strange paths. Before I came to West Harbor, I never imagined I'd be mending broken ribs on High Harvest Day.
: Don't other villages celebrate with a Harvest Brawl?
: I'm not sure the Harvest Brawl is observed in any other villages... though a Harvest Ball is certainly common enough.
Let's learn how to fight!
Unfortunately there's not a lot of room for tactics in NWN2. Archers shoot through their allies, enemies run right past your fighter screen to assault your fragile spellcasters... most of the fun comes from carefully aiming your Fireball spell so your enemies get smoked but you don't.
Taking a club from the barrel, we viciously assault a practice dummy.
Goddamn. I think we may be taking this a little too seriously.
: As always, I expect a clean fight. Melee attacks only - no arrows or magic. You may fight bare-handed, or you may arm yourself with a Training Club, the choice is yours.
: The Harvest Fair is an act of worship, Calliope, a prayer of thanks to Chauntea, and to all the gods. The events must be fair and just.
All thoughts of strategy and technique fly to the winds as the two teams charge at each other.
Luck is on our side, it seems. Barely a scratch. This is pretty much how all early-level combat in NWN2 plays out: who can roll the better numbers.
: The Mossfeld brothers are the only team still in contention.
: We're ready to fight the Mossfelds.
: They await you at the edge of the ring. Tell Wyl that you are ready, and I'll begin the final fight.
: Think she's Cormick, this one.
: Stow it, Mossfeld. You're not smart enough to be funny.
What the hell is this guy's problem?
: Fine then. You want my title, you'll fight my brothers and me. We've beat this Brawl three-years running.
: About time. You've stalled long enough.
: If you're so eager to fight, why not raise the stakes a bit? Make a friendly wager?
Yes, that's right, it's the return of...
...the Influence system.
In most games, party companions are more than happy to tell you their life story given half a chance, even if you've just met them. This isn't very true-to-life though, so Obsidian decided to make it more realistic by defining your entire relationship with your companions with a single integer. You can no longer simply 'ask' companions to tell you a little bit about themselves; now you must drag them to specific arbitrary moments in the plot where one of the designers could be bothered to write an option to gain influence with them. I hope you're psychic, because there won't be any hints!
Influence was pioneered in KOTOR2, but it hasn't changed much in NWN2. Certain dialogues contain certain nodes that will increase or decrease your 'Influence' with a particular companion. If you get a high enough Influence, you unlock special dialogue and quests... theoretically, anyway. The only difference to KOTOR2 is that it only works one way: only positive Influence has an effect.
Where were we? Oh yeah.
: Come on, brothers. We'll fight these cowards anyway...
The Mossfelds are a tough bunch, but in the end Bevil is victorious. Huzzah!
Actually, what I'm not showing you is that I lost this match the first time around. Luckily Wyl is gracious enough to allow a rematch, which (if you win) somehow invalidates his first win and gives you the Brawl.
Like I said, it's all in the dice.
: You've won the Brawl, and you've won the Cup as well. Georg will want to see you at once. Thank the gods, Calliope, for truly, they have shown you favor today.
We can ask Bevil about what the Mossfelds have against us, and he says:
: Well, the story got better every time you told it. I can't even remember what really happened, anymore.
Again, this changes a little based on your character attributes. Characters who are evil or have the Bully background feat actually laughed at Bevil dangling in the well. If your characters is a Tiefling (part-demon) or Drow (evil underground elf), then Bevil will instead suggest that as a reason.
It's a lot of attention to detail that doesn't really appear much later in the game.
: You'd think joining the militia would have straightened out the Mossfelds.
: Webb's not so bad, when his brothers aren't around. Even Ward forgets to pester me, if we're on the practice field.
Well, that's that! We've completed the four challenges, won the Harvest Cup, and beaten the boss fight - the Mossfelds - too. Congratulations, guys, we've finished Neverwinter Nights 2! All that's left is the ending sequence and epilogue and we're done!
: That warrants a special reward, of course. I have a Harvest Cloak for you, courtesy of the village council. It'll be yours at the end of the day.
: If there's anything you wanted to do before the award ceremony, now's the time. Maybe a mug of Harvest Mead to celebrate, eh?
Hell of a crowd waiting for us. A shame someone made an accident in the middle there.
: But we came back. Cleared burnt farms, buried our dead, and put our ashes behind us. And we rebuilt, tougher and stronger than ever.
Well there it is! That was my Let's Play of Neverwinter Nights 2! Thank you for reading!
A lot shorter than you thought, wasn't it?