Part 10: Act One Chapter Seven - ElaneeWe've defeated the undead plaguing Fort Locke, but bandits are still running rampant all over the High Road. Once again it's up to us to save the day.
Refugees fleeing lizardling attacks were taken prisoner by bandits. Liza, their leader, has been trying to raise a ransom but is willing to give it to us if we rescue her friends.
Neeshka proves herself useful by marking the bandit camp location on her map. We pick the greedy loot-crazed option for an Influence point.
: Now that's what I like to hear. After all, these bandits have been stealing from others... we should even the score, see how they like it.
The Fort's priest, Tor, lost his holy symbol to bandits on the way here from Highcliff. It's useless to us, so we'll probably give it back.
The sun is setting as we approach the camp.
We're quick enough killing the guards to stop anyone sounding the alarm.
The refugees are all corralled up in this pen outside. We're all set to make a stealthy exit...
...but some arsewipe of a bandit is watching and calls the guards.
What you're supposed to do here is run for the camp exit like a madman, leading the refugees behind you - and hoping they don't get killed by the guards.
But they're all set to follow Calliope - so we hide back here in the pen while Khelgar and Neeshka deal with the guards.
: Uh... our thanks to you, friend... and to your dwarven friend, too. We'll make our way to Fort Locke from here.
: A true hero doesn't need the thanks of others.
: Oh, really? You were puffed up so much when they thanked you I almost thought there were two of you.
: Well... thanks. I mean, you did good in there. Didn't think we'd actually get through that in one piece.
We've rescued the prisoners, now all we have to do is bring down the bandit chieftain. This tiny little house must be his den!
The tiny little house is actually really big inside. It's also full of hundreds of bandits.
Seriously, you can't see it due to corpse decay, but we've killed several dozens bandits inside this house alone. You kill seven measly people in the real world and they call it a massacre, but this? Nothing.
The chief is lurking at the back of the house.
There's several different ways to deal with the chief. You can get him to bribe you to leave him alone (and bluff Tann into giving you the reward back at the Fort), or convince him to surrender to Fort Locke in exchange for amnesty and a new job as an officer in the Greycloaks.
For maximum Lawful/Evil points, though, we butcher him and his allies.
The nonviolent solutions would have made more sense had we not been forced to kill fifty bandits just to get to this point.
We return Tor's holy symbol to him. Well, actually, because Khelgar's got it and not Calliope, the script doesn't trigger right and we've actually still got it. A shame it's useless.
Liza is grateful for the return of the refugees. We get reward money and an experience bonus for getting everyone out of the camp alive.
We also pick up a reward from Tann, finishing the Fort Locke questlines and freeing us up to move on to Highcliff. Finally, plot progression!
: We'll just have to keep killing them until they stop.
: Heh. That'll be a lot of killing before this is over, I'll wager.
: And we were just getting to know each other.
: Fool. I shall enjoy killing you.
It's that elf that was following us before... at Fort Locke, and at the swamp ruins before that.
But she's on our side?
: Forgive me, but I saw these... things about to attack you, I found I could not simply stand by while you were ambushed - again.
: I'd like to help, if I could. I've been trying to follow you without interfering, but I don't think you'll reach your destination without someone who knows the land.
: Now, now, no need to be jealous, barrel-house.
: Of an elf? And a tree-worshipper on top of that? Ha!
: Would the two of you please let me do the talking?
: Always talking, and to the elves and half-demons and the like. It'll end badly, I tell you.
: Yes, and who knows where talking might lead us next. Stow it, Khelgar.
At times I think the humour is the only thing saving the early parts of NWN2. Neeshka in particular is just brutal.
: I've watch you stumble through thick and bramble, miss paths right in front of your eyes, and let those beasts catch you what feels to be a dozen times over.
: Before casting insults, maybe one such as I could actually help you, Harborman, did you think of that?
We take the reasonable option, but lose an influence point with Elanee because of it. Hey, it was Khelgar who said it first, not me!
: If that is your answer, then keep your village-born suspicions, they matter little to me.
: Fine. How long have you been tracking us?
Oh, by the way, Elanee is lying.
: But they seem to be following you, which leads me to believe that there's something you have... something they want, so...
: I thought perhaps my enemy's enemies would at least welcome some company to their destination - and with my help, even get there faster.
: There is a druid sanctuary not far from here, the Maiden's Glade, where members of my Circle would go for refuge when traveling the land.
: I can lead you there, and with no further attacks from these hunters of yours. Not that you can't handle yourself, but I am sure you're growing as tired of these attacks as I am.
: Agreed, we've been doing fine without your help. You're mistaken, sorry.
This is actually the pretty tame version of this dialogue. If you're male, Neeshka becomes incredibly defensive and suspiscious of Elanee, constantly warning her to keep her eyes off the player character (with good reason, as it turns out).
: Am I? It doesn't take a sage to see where you're bound - these beasts will keep finding you again and again.
: Let's invite all the realms! Make a grand army, tromping through the wilderness! "Enemies, come get us! Here we arrre!"
: We will not be tromping through the wilderness, we will be weaving through it like the wind.
: And speaking of wind, shut your mouth, Khelgar - before your breath summons more of those creatures.
: Besides, wouldn't you rather have our new friend right here where we can see her, rather than behind us the whole way?
Wait, what? Just how closely has she been watching me?
: Yes, but we don't know why.
: Hmmm. Well, if they seek it, then let us do what we can to keep it from them.
: Regardless, I appreciate your trust in telling me - thank you.
* * *
Elanee is voiced by Ursulla Abbot (Listen here).
She's a druid, and the last companion we'll be picking up for a while. She makes up the fourth member of our initial party, which is the maximum party size for the first act of the game.
- likes trees and flowers and animals
- likes helping people and being kind
- likes nonviolent equitable solutions (talking)
- dislikes cruelty, especially to animals
- dislikes violence
Like or dislike? She's the first proper good-aligned character in the game; Khelgar's Neutral Good, but only by default, since he doesn't actually really try to help others or defend the weak at this point in time.
The side-effect of this is that if you're not as good as her, she comes off as incredibly whiny and demanding. Actually, this is true of pretty much all the companions in NWN2.
(Thread reaction was overwhelmingly negative towards Elanee - Ed.)
Elanee's a druid, which... oh God, this is complicated.
There's two kinds of mag- okay, three- okay, more like sev- there's a lot of ways to cast magic in D&D. Wizards copy scrolls into their spellbook to accumulate an arsenal of spells; Sorcerers and Warlocks choose a selection of spells they know intuitively at level-up. Clerics and Druids aren't limited by their spellbook - they receive all the spells they're entitled to from their god, gratis.
Divine magic (Cleric and Druid spells, which are largely similar) is mostly focused around defensive magic. Clerics and Druids can heal allies, protect them from attacks and make them stronger, more powerful or immune to certain spells. Divine magic wasn't as flashy as arcane magic because Clerics and Druids were decent fighters in their own right - they could wear armour while casting and wield weapons effectively in combat.
I say wasn't, because in 3rd Edition Clerics and Druids got a massive boost in power. The divine spell list used to cop out at 7th level - now it goes up to 9th. Clerics and Druids have access to offensive magic of their own, as well as retaining all of the old buffs and heals. A lot of the old weapon and armour restrictions (no edged weapons, no metal armour) were removed, meaning a Cleric, properly buffed up, could be just as effective as a Fighter in close combat.
It's just as bad in NWN2 - if not more so, since NWN2 features a lot of undead enemies, and Clerics have a lot of anti-undead abilities at their disposal.
Druids are pretty much the same as Clerics, except instead of being crusaders of the faith, Druids are defenders of nature. The Druid spell list has lots of nature-themed spells like Entangle and Spiderskin, and although Druids can't wear full plate armour off the bat like Clerics can, they gain a number of special unique abilities at higher levels - like Shapechanging into a huge elder elemental.
* * *
: Agreed. How much farther is this place?
: This is Eridis... the "Maiden's Glade" in the tongue of Harbormen.
: [Lore] Sounds elvish... almost Illefarn, in fact.
Impressing Elanee with our knowledge gives us an Influence point.
It's easy to miss a lot of these Influence gains, since Influence messages only show up in tiny yellow text in the chatlog at the bottom of the screen. With a cinematic conversation like this, it's hard to tell whether you've gained or lost Influence - or if there was an Influence point to be found at all.
Quite frustrating, considering that Influence is a major part of the game.
: Just as the Mere of Dead Men was once Merdelain, the Slow-Marching Court, this place also had a name long before settlers from Neverwinter set foot here.
: Did they ever set foot here? I can barely see where we're going.
: Trust me, it's no better at my height, either. Sure as the hells couldn't find my way back to the road now.
: The glade up ahead was a retreat for druids, a place of shelter if they needed to heal or rest. Many such places exist along the coast.
: The animals here would protect the druids... and they will shield you from your pursuers, if they should find you.
: Well, I say we avoid any wolves or anything trying to kill us.
: I say we fight them - they attack us, we attack them. 'Sides, could use new boots.
Three party members, three plans of action, three conversation options, three mutually exclusive Influence gains. This early-game party management is one of the most headache-inducing parts of the game.
: Whatever is wrong must be here in the glade... I had thought the Circle of the Mere would be aware of any disturbance here, but now it seems the task must fall to us.
Good point. Save this trippy nature bullshit for another adventuring party, we've got better things to do.
: Agreed. We've saved a day, but let's not waste it digging through the brush for some wolf-killing... thing.
To the right we find a clearing with a bear in it. A bear?
We attempt to land some deadly ~*Sneak Attacks*~ by attacking the bear from the rear, but it negates our cunning strategy by turning around.
The bear doesn't have a talking animation, so it looks (and sounds) a bit silly. Instead it just pants and gives us a mournful death-stare.
: I... I... came here, came to try and find you, Elanee, to try and escape the Mere... to seek refuge here...
: The Mere? What is wrong?
: The Mere, it speaks with a different voice now... and its waters, once clear to the Circle, are now dark... and run deep, so deep...
There's two reasons why Elanee has joined our party here. One is because the next most useful party member (after meatshield and skill monkey) is party healer.
: Vashne and the others... they are lost.
: Only you remain... I thought I could find you, or Naevan... but what claims the Mere overtook me... clouded my vision with shadows and blood... trapped me in this form.
: Do not return to the Mere, Elanee... do not, or you shall fall to its corruption as I did.
The other is to remind us of the plot. Khelgar and Neeshka are just a pair of young reprobates, along for the ride... but Elanee actually has stated goals and objectives. Her story gets us away from tavern brawls and bandit camps and back to the terrible evil blighting the Mere.
: What was he saying about the Mere?
: I don't know. I... I have been away from the Circle for some time...
: Kaleil and I are part... were part... of the Circle of Merdelain, the Mere of Dead Men. If the elders, if Vashne is lost... and Naevan is lost...
: But we should press on. I promised to lead you to Highcliff... and to safety, and so far, this path has proved longer than I wished.
: Farewell, Kaleil. May you rest... and may the Glade become peaceful again.
Next update is Highcliff. And no, we're nowhere close to getting to Neverwinter.