The Let's Play Archive

Neverwinter Nights 2

by Lt. Danger

Part 11: Act One Chapter Eight - It's Never Simple And It's Never Easy

: What're you lot just standing there for? Bring up the sails! Man the oars!

: Why did you try to stop him?
: Lizardfolk have been sabotaging anything floating that comes into or out of Highcliff. The Double Eagle over there's already had to be repaired three times.
: The good captain is a fool to think he can sail out without drawing the attention of the lizards.

: All right lads! See what we can do to help those sailors... let's just hope the lizardfolk let them swim ashore.
: Sorry, but I've got my hands full here. Some of the other sailors here should be able to fill you in.

Don't bother, I think I've got a handle on what's going on here.

So we've finally reached Highcliff. We're supposed to catch a ship to Neverwinter from here, but the harbour's closed because of lizardling attacks. We can't go by land either, since the High Road is closed.

So it's up to us to resolve this bullshit situation so we can progress the plot. Unlike the quests at Fort Locke, this one is compulsory.

NWN1 used a modular tile-based map for all areas, even outdoors areas. All the hills were square and tiered like wedding cakes; rivers and lakes looked like giant jigsaw pieces dropped from heaven.

So when you load up NWN2 and suddenly there's height and gradient and the difference is amazing. Something as simple as these stairs wouldn't have been possible in NWN1 - not without a hakpak and some heavy-duty editing.

I mean, this concept art is actually quite accurate:

Pretty sweet, am I right?

We bump into some drunken sailors loitering outside the local tavern.

: Easy, one of them's a Harborman.
: Harborman? Like I care what a swamp farmer can do.

Some of Khelgar's dialogue here doesn't make sense. We're still outside, silly dwarf!

: Now we're talking my language. Come on, let's see how these fools like taking an early nap.
: There's no reason to fight. This is ridiculous.

For wilfully starting a fight, we gain 2xinfluence with Khelgar and lose one with Elanee. Elanee's not a popular character, it seems - most of you voted to dislike her. Fine by me.

The thing is, it's not as if we can avoid a fight anyway; if you try to calm things down by appealing to common demi-humanity, Khelgar and the sailors both start arguing with you.

Then Khelgar tells the sailor to stop agreeing with him and, well...

: How often does this happen?
: Trust me, things were slowing down a bit before we came here... now it's about back to normal.

Elanee electrocutes the sailors with a lightning storm. Spells are fiddly and awkward, but immensely powerful - and we're only at Level 6.

: Of course it did! We make a good fighting team!
: We didn't need to fight, Khelgar. Next time, rein it in. It's hard to steal from someone when they think you're going to attack them.
: If we're done making more enemies, let's move on.
: I agree. Let's go.

Another non-sequitur from Khelgar. There's a reason I transcribed this encounter out in full.

Firstly, we're missing an area. We're supposed to be able to go inside the tavern. That's where we'd find Captain Flinn, skipper of the Double Eagle, and the band of sailors that we just murdered. Flinn's and Khelgar's dialogue makes a bit more sense in that context.

Secondly, we just murdered four people in the middle of the street and no one batted an eyelid. In D&D proper there are rules for 'subdual damage': hitting people with the flat of your sword so they don't die. Also, you've got an intelligent DM who can always rule "Well, this was a tavern brawl, so no one actually dies, they just get KO'ed."

There's no such option in NWN2, which means we're forced to leave a trail of nonplussed corpses behind us, all the way down the Sword Coast.

Thirdly, we need to talk.

To Neeshka.

We know who Khelgar is, we know who Elanee is, but Neeshka hasn't really introduced herself properly. Khelgar and Elanee have long-term goals, but Neeshka?

: What do you mean?

Neeshka's just trying to survive.

: You mean you get those insults all the time?
: It's not bad. I mean, all those things are true.
: Neeshka - that's an odd name.

A lot of people find it hard to like Neeshka (I certainly did on my first playthrough). Most of the time, if she's talking, it's to berate you for not stealing enough, even if you're a goody-two-shoes Paladin. And because each instance is separate and unique, she never learns to shut up. It's like being nagged by a persistent and unexpectedly single-minded toddler.

But there's a dark humour there, and it comes out when Neeshka comments on the rest of the party - or herself.

: Tell me a little about yourself.

: You sound a little surprised.
: No one usually asks, so finding the words is a little hard, trust me. People usually make up the whole story once they spot the demon blood - if they ask at all.
: Well, I'd like to know, I'm curious.

Neeshka's had a bit of a rubbish life - orphaned, fostered by priests, child of demons, outcast, no friends - but she somehow manages to be incredibly cheerful and upbeat, despite all that. Here she rattles off her life to date, really pleased that someone's taking an interest... not realising it's one of the worst fucking lives you could possibly imagine.

: Priests?

There's been some comment on the voiceacting in NWN2. Personally, I felt it saved the game at times. Robyn Kramer is really good here, investing Neeshka's voice with a lot of emotion and weight. She goes into this pseudo-deep, sonorous voice when listing off Helm's titles, as though she's this slightly dippy young woman doing silly impressions to make the first real friend she's ever had laugh.

Like Neeshka!

: Were they a hardheaded bunch. Really up on the discipline, not so much on the caring and forgiveness. But they're priests of Helm, so what are you going to do?

: What about him?
: Well, he needs to watch his tongue, or it's going to run right out of his mouth and get stepped on.
: I mean, you did me a good turn, all I want to do is help out, and he's yelling at me like some old mule.

There's a little more context to this that we're missing. I'm not certain about this, but originally we may not have started Highcliff down by the docks, watching the lizardlings sinking that ship. There's a conversation that Khelgar starts in Highcliff that goes a little like this:


: {Dismissive, about to give Neeshka the brush-off} Well, I guess this is where we part ways, tiefling. Good luck to you.
: {Someone just told her to leave the party, a little defensive} What are you talking about? I'm not going anywhere.
: {Getting stern} Look, we helped you out at Fort Locke. Even let you share in some of the loot.
: But we're not your sitters - you can go about your business here in Highcliff without us, doing whatever it is your kind does.
: My kind? {Beat, angry} And last I heard, you weren't in charge, Khelgar, so don't start giving me orders.
: What do you mean "her kind?"
: Bah. She's a thief, and we don't need that kind of trouble around us, especially not in any village or town we come to.
: Trouble? I attract trouble? At least I know how to avoid a brawl instead of picking a fight with everyone who crosses my path!
: {Aside to the player, a little exhausted by Neeshka and Khelgar arguing} Are they always like this? It's tiresome just to watch.
: Unfortunately, yes. They've been this way since they first met.
: {Defensive} It's not my fault. Khelgar started it, as usual... which seems to happen whenever he opens his mouth.
: {A little fawning to the player, eager to please} I mean, I've been helpful, haven't I? I know you don't know me very well, but I've had your back in fights.
: [Diplomacy] Khelgar, Neeshka's been loyal and so have you. I say we travel together, and maybe you can teach her a few things about fighting. What do you say?
: [Success] Well... you're right about loyalty. It's a rare quality, and one of my strengths.
: {Reluctant} I suppose I could put up with her for a while longer... {grunts, quieter} but no amount of polishing is going to make a rotten apple taste better, in my opinion.
: {Slight sarcasm} Khelgar, I'm touched. No one's ever called me a rotten apple before... and if you can "put up" with me, maybe I can put up with your smell, too.
: {Impressed, a little quiet, to player} That was impressive - making peace with words is not an easy thing to do.
: Impressing you is the least of my concerns.
: {Irritated} Now that I did not fail to notice.
: Shall we see about getting a ship for Neverwinter? {Curious} The tavern seems the best place to look.

We could also have just sided with either Neeshka or Khelgar... in which case Elanee would barge in and use her Diplomacy to resolve the situation. I'm almost certain this isn't in the game itself, although the conversation file and even the voiceacting lines are. As I said, it was probably replaced by the ship-sinking sequence.

It's also a bit heavy on the party dissension. Sure, a party of companions who all magically like each other as soon as they meet is both irritating and boring, but this sequence threatens to tear the party apart before it's barely begun. It's enough having them bicker over every dialogue choice I make.

: We've spoken enough. Let's move on.

There's a few sidequests in Highcliff that we can do. Par here is undergoing a home invasion.

We butcher the rogue sailors and loot Par's house clean for good measure.

The other three we'll do as part of the main quest. First we'll see the village elder about these lizardling attacks.

It looks like the elder is in the middle of an appointment. Juni's husband, William, has gone missing, and the village elder won't send anyone to look for him.

: I need a ship to take me to Neverwinter.

: Each time we've made repairs, the lizardfolk promptly damage the ships again. Trade with Neverwinter has stopped, and without trade, this village will not have an easy winter.
: I want you to give the Double Eagle permission to leave.
: This has nothing to do with my giving anyone permission. No one can sail anywhere until we've put a stop to these attacks.
: Then how do I stop these attacks?
: The lizardfolk have been concentrating their attacks on the farms outside the village...

: You could start your search with her, she may know something that could help... or you could simply wait there and ambush the lizardfolk should they attack. Allow me to mark the location of her farm on your map.

All right, we have a goal. We'll go see this farmer, find out more about the lizardlings, then do some smiting. We'll also try to find William along the way.

Oh, and Gera and Zachan (who you may remember we saved from duergar back at the Weeping Willow Inn) have lost their children as well. William, children, lizardlings. Right.

On our way out of Highcliff, we bump into Mozah, who also demands our help. He was hired as a guide by adventurers who have all now disappeared without paying him. He wants us to find his employers and get him his money. So, it's William, children, adventurers, lizardlings. Got it.

Where are we going again?

* * *

Shandra's farm. This shouldn't take too long.

: Whoever you are, you look a little too important to be wandering out here on your own bothering with the commonfolk.

: Not too far for a fight, I hope.

This must be Shandra, our quest-facilitator.

: Good, glad to see the Elder finally got wise enough to protect the grain shipments into Highcliff before winter hits.
: I've been alone out here ever since the others abandoned their farms and took shelter in Highcliff... and I don't know how much longer I can hold out.
: Defending this patch of land with your life doesn't seem worth it.

: I'm supposed to be making the merchant run through Port Llast and Ember right now, but with the recent troubles... I can't leave the farm, let alone take the trade road from Highcliff.
: I can't even move my harvest into town. And if I can't sell it, I won't make it through the year... not to mention the towns counting on the trade. I have friends in Ember and Port Llast expecting shipments this season.
: Have you been attacked?
: Not yet... but it's only a matter of time.

: That's strange. I would have thought the lizardfolk would have tried to kill the farmers first... they tend to, uh, eat people, from what I've heard.
: I agree. It is unusual... but the lizardfolk may be afraid to push Highcliff too far.
: Too far? After all this? Don't know how much farther these people can be pushed.

So these lizardfolk are basically pissing on our front doorstep? Nice.

Still, it's good that Elanee is making a positive contribution for once, instead of yelling about helping animals or some such.

: When did these attacks begin?

: What do you mean?
: Tribes of lizardfolk have left the Mere recently, and I don't think it's by choice... something's driving them out. From the looks of it, they may be ranging farther and farther in search of food.
: Well, I'm more than willing to leave them alone if they left us alone, but when they start burning homes and crops... well, that's when I get worried.
: I have a feeling it's going to be a rough season ahead, and they're not mkaing things any better.
: Do you know where the lizardfolk are striking from?

: I doubt it's their main lair, it's too far from water, but I've seen fires up at the old ruins - it's only been in the past few days, though, which is strange, since the lizardfolk were attacking long before that.
: It's like something going on up there. I haven't been able to leave the farm long enough to tell anyone... I guess I was counting on the Elder to actually send help.
: What ruins are you talking about?

Neeshka's a tiefling, which means she has a sort-of 'demon-sense' that kicks in around stuff to do with fiends. It's going to come up later in the game... like practically everything we've covered so far.

: My barn. And the harvest...
: I let my guard down for a second - and they were waiting for it. Waiting until I got distracted.

I can never turn down the opportunity to be snarky.

: Look, if you're going to help, do it - I'm so tired of Neverwinter, and Fort Locke, and the militia and the elder and all of them promising to help us out and nothing ever happening.

Okay, so I suppose we owe her. One lizardling-free Highcliff coming up!