Part 12: Act One Chapter Nine - In Which We Finally Get Things Moving
We've amassed quite a collection of locations on our World Map. Soon we'll be leaving them all behind for the close confines of Neverwinter City.
That's the castle, up on the hill. First we got some business to take care of, though.
William, Juni's husband, has made camp down by the water. He's your typical henpecked husband who's had enough of nagging and left his wife for a solitary existence.
In medieval Europe there was a whole load of cultural baggage regarding marriage and the relationship between husband and wife. 'Charivari' was a sort-of community protest at an improper marriage, e.g. one with a dominant wife who often scolded the meeker husband. There were lots of different forms and names for the custom; in England, such a wife would be forced to ride backwards on a horse throughout the village while being scolded herself by the outraged villagers. This specific custom was called 'riding the stang'.
Unfortunately Obsidian didn't include horse models in the original release of NWN2, so we're unable to perform anything so elaborate. Instead we just yell at William to go home (we could also have helped him by lying to Juni and saying he was mauled by bears).
The hills are infested with wolves.
I'm serious, these are unsustainable lupine population levels. I have seen maybe four boars and three dire badgers since leaving West Harbor, and absolutely no deer, sheep, cattle...
I mean, maybe if they were evil wolves, plotting to sack Highcliff... but these are just dumb animals, and there's nothing for them to eat.
Well, okay, but two little children won't feed a full pack of wolves. You need something that fills you up for the entire day.
: It was my fault. Da was tellin' us stories about someone he met in the Mere an' how they fought off a thousand lizardmen and evil dwarves an' stuff.
: Your father was just telling stories. No one is able to do what he said.
: Ow! What was that for?
: It was you, wasn't it? You were the one that saved Da in the Mere!
: Even if I was, do I look like I could take on a thousand enemies at once?
: No, I guess not. And you're not as big as Da said you were.
: I'm glad that's cleared up. Now go home.
Too damn right.
: Bah. On the off-chance I get tired of cracking skulls - I'll need to find a comely dwarven wench and make me a whole clan of Ironfists.
: I really don't want to hear this - especially anything about comely dwarven wenches.
: So says the girl with horns and a tail. Don't be judging dwarven women too harshly, what they lack in stature, they make up for in spirit.
What Khelgar doesn't mention is that up until 3rd Edition, dwarven women were all bearded.
A little look at Elanee's spellbook. On the left are the spells Elanee can memorise; on the right are the spells she has memorised and can cast. Spells are organised by level, from Level 0 (cantrips) to Level 9 (awesome spells of utter devastation), although things are a bit different for Bards, Warlocks, Paladins and Rangers.
The thing about Druid spells is that they're often great against animals but not so hot against anything else. We're about to go up against some undead - so what use is Hold Animal or Dominate Animal?
Zer Cassle. It looks a bit more intimidating at night.
Inside the grounds we find a lizardman fighting some zombies. Like idiot adventurers, we charge right in.
Thank God, it can talk.
: We don't? All right - it's your choice.
: What kind of help are you talking about?
: Slaan must ask chief for more warriors. Dead ones kill many clansmen already. More warriors trapped below.
: Slaan leads clan here to sink human boats. Dead ones attack Slaan's warriors.
: How can Slaan trust you? You might attack chief.
: I haven't killed you yet. I could if I wanted to.
Yes, Slaan, take the person who just threatened to kill you to your beloved chieftain. That's a good plan.
* * *
This is Slaan.
Slaan has fake-joined our party for the duration of Highcliff castle. He'll help us take down the Shadow Priest raising these zombies while we search for his lizardling warriors.
He's a Barbarian, which I suppose is appropriate for a dumb lizardling. I highlight this because of the dozen or so companions that end up joining our party through the course of the game, none are Barbarians. Wizards, yes, Paladins, yes, Clerics, yes... but no Barbarian.
Barbarians are a specialised kind of Fighter in the Arnold-as-Conan mold: trading skill at arms, wide feat selection and heavy armour for loads of hitpoints and the ability to Rage. Rage increases a Barbarians hitpoints and damage for a short while, but winds them after some time has passed. Barbarians are a very physical class, which is another way of saying they're dumb as bricks - but note Slaan's hitpoints. Calliope's three levels higher than him and she only has two hitpoints more than him - and that's with special item bonuses as well.
* * *
We head into the castle. Previously, we were dual-wielding daggers for the extra attack each round, but daggers = piercing weapons = bad against zombies.
So out comes the Bone Phoenix for some pyromaniac fun.
Oooh, a cutscene. We're about to see our first Bad Guy.
: There have been complications, milord. One of our disciples near Fort Locke has been slain.
: It shall not affect our plans at the Fort, nor the raising of our troops.
: As long as Neverwinter is occupied, then you have served me... and through me, your Master.
: We are all in the service of the King of Shadows, Lord Garius. Sometimes we forget he is all around us, and there are no ranks and hierarchies before him.
Obviously the dialogue would be different here if you hadn't rescued Commander Tann back at Fort Locke.
: I suggest you deal with them before you share the same fate.
Unlikely, you big spectral meanie!
I'm not entirely sure how this works. We're indoors. Where is the lightning coming from?
Among the bodies we find the Shadow Priest's journal...
...and the money that was promised to Mozah. Those zombies we killed must have been the adventurers he was looking for.
All that's left to do is clear house.
Which is harder than it seems. We got ambushed by two packs of zombies and half the party got munted.
Slaan's lizardling buddies are barricaded behind a locked door.
: These warmbloods different. Fight well, have honor. Slaan bring them to see chief.
* * *
: Slaan is foolish, but bargain can not be broken. What do you want, warmblood?
Okay, so there's two ways we could have gone with this. One way is to help Slaan find his buddies and make peace.
: Humans need boats to walk on water. If we break boats, humans go away.
: What are you talking about?
: Warmbloods think all lizardfolk are the same. Always want to kill us.
: Clan not interested in warmbloods, but not want to take risk. We must chase them from our land.
The other way is to butcher them all. Slaan had a map on him that would lead to the lizardling hideout, along the coast. You'd march in, slaughter the lizardlings and defeat the chief in mortal combat.
: Warmbloods in village will always cause trouble. The Clan must make them leave.
: So if the village agrees to stay away, you'll stop the attacks.
I know I said Calliope was going to be a sane, reasonable protagonist who didn't chop people's heads off all the time, but these lizardlings are really pushing me. They want to avoid a fight with the villagers... so they decide to sabotage all their ships.
: [Bluff] I have a lot of influence in the village. They will listen to me.
: [Success] If you can promise this, clan will stop attacks. But if warmbloods hurt members of clan...
: You'll let the village elder know so he can stop it.
Hey, I'm Lawful Evil. So long as I don't have to uphold any part of the bargain, why should I care?
: The important thing is that we have come halfway in this... which is more than the villagers were willing to do. There is enough room in Highcliff for both tribes... lizardmen and villagers.
: Trust me, if you were able to get this tribe to listen to you, the elder should be no problem.
* * *
Back in Highcliff.
We give Mozah his backpay. We could lie and keep it all for ourselves, but I already bargained him down to giving us half, so...
Gera and Zachan are grateful for the return of their children and give us a nice little amulet for our trouble. We get a slight bonus to our Constitution statistic and our Will save (to resist against spells that affect the mind).
Juni is also happy to have her husband back. We also get enough experience points to take us up a level.
By popular vote, Calliope is going down the path of Invisible Blade.
For the record: prestige classes are advanced classes that characters can take once they meet certain prerequisites. Prestige classes are usually hybrids of two existing classes (the Eldritch Knight is a cross between a Fighter and a Wizard) or else some kind of niche specialist (Assassins are Rogues that are very good at Sneak Attacks).
Invisible Blades are knife-fighters that use light, speedy weapons to inflict tons of damage. We can do extra damage with our Sneak Attacks and eventually become better at Feinting (making enemies easier to hit).
We tell the village elder the good news.
That's what we said!
: But... I will listen. What do they want?
: They've agreed to leave Highcliff alone if the village agrees not to trespass into their territory.
: How were we to know that our village was so close to their lair? Surely it would be easier if they were to find another home along the coast?
: The thought of a lizardman clan living so close to our village... I don't like this.
: This wasn't easy. Make the deal.
Come on, man, it's an easy deal. You don't actually have to do anything.
: Of course. I shall ensure that every man we can spare will help with repairs to the Double Eagle.
That wasn't what I had in mind... but at least we'll get out of here all the sooner.
* * *
: There's enough there to pay for your passage to Neverwinter. It's not a lot, but you've done so much that we had to find some way to show our appreciation.
Actually, this is a lot like the conversation we had earlier with Zachan and Gera - the evil option is always some kind of horrible, selfish, rude response. Stay classy, Calliope!
: I'm afraid so. We are not a wealthy people, but we do what we can.
: Ehhh... my stomach's already started churning. How long is this trip?
: Oh, do be quiet, Khelgar. Enjoy the waves while you can.
: I'll say. And it'll be nice to travel without being hunted for once.
Too true, at that. We're safe and well hidden on board this ship. Time to relax, I think.
* * *
* * *