The Let's Play Archive

Neverwinter Nights 2

by Lt. Danger

Part 49: Act Two Chapter Fourteen - An LP's Miscellany

Not a lot happens this update. Or maybe lots of very small things happen. It's hard to tell the difference at times.

Nevalle has a job for us.

: With the troubles with Luskan that we've had, I think you will find this task to your liking.
: We've had our eyes on a local tailor, Larim, for some time now. We believe he's a Luskan agent, but a low-level one.
: With the Arcane Brotherhood cast out of the city, we expected Larim to leave as well. However, he was observed entering the manor of Lord Temar, in the Blacklake District.
: We'd like to find out what's going on. As a member of the nobility in Nasher's service, you have the right to enter Temar's manor and detain Larim for questioning.

Sounds like fun. But Calliope's right - I think Nevalle presumes too much.

: It's not a request, squire. This is official Neverwinter business, which you have been ordered to carry out.
: I said no. Don't ask me again, Nevalle.

Sticking it to Nevalle delights Bishop and Sand no end. Sand might be Lawful, but he still holds a grudge against Nevalle for blackmailing him.

But we actually wanted to do this sidequest, so:

: The elf's right - bow down any lower, and your nose'd be touching Nevalle's boot.
: You'll find my boot touching your face if you keep talking.

Now that's how all Influence ought to be handled in the game.

* * *

Temar's place. This is right on the edge of Blacklake - you can just see the other shore of the lake, and on top of the hill is the Academy and Castle Never.

We're greeted by Temar's butler. He shows us into the foyer.

Ah. This must be Larim and Lord Temar.

And his gigantic flaming sword.

I'm sorry, are we interrupting something?

: Calliope. You're rather famous around here. What's this all about?
: How do you know Larim?
: He and I are old friends, despite our rather different backgrounds. Why the interest?
: I have orders to bring Larim in for questioning.
: Is that so? Has he committed a crime?
: He's accused of being a spy for the Luskan Brotherhood.

: Luskan and I just happen to share the same goal of getting rid of Nasher.

Sadly, this can only end in violence.

I mean, not that we didn't already know that.

: I see. You're a traitor, then.
: I'm a patriot. Neverwinter is a shadow of its former glory, and Nasher has done little to change that. We'll be better off once the city is under my control.

Oh man. Just call me Jane Bond.

: People disappear all the time in Neverwinter, just as you will, and Luskan will reward me well for getting rid of you.

You know, that's a good rationalisation for murder. Mind if I borrow it?

Didn't think so.

The fight with Temar is quick and pointed. However some of his guards (including Larim) have spellcaster levels:

Just so.

But they all drop fantastic loot. The Mercykiller Blade is a pretty sweet rapier... if only we weren't an Invisible Blade!

* * *

Let's take a look at Calliope.

As you know, Calliope's a multi-class Rogue/Invisible Blade/Assassin. We're built for stabbing and stabbing and stabbing and stabbing until whatever it is we're stabbing is dead. Our current MO is to flank enemies while the rest of the party commands their attention, then devastate targets with multiple Sneak Attacks. Once we gain a few more levels in Assassin, this will become a lot easier.

Although as Rogues we can use a variety of weapons (mostly small, light ones), as Invisible Blades we're more or less limited to Daggers. We could use other weapons, but then we'd be missing out on Bleeding Wound and Weapon Focus: Dagger.

This is our current loadout. It's not optimal, mostly because I want Calliope to look fairly consistent: hence why we're still wearing the Harvest Cloak from the tutorial, which grants a mere +1 to Charisma. Contrast to our boots of +3 Dexterity or our Belt of Hill Giant Strength (+3 Strength). Our armour is +2 Studded Leather, we've got a Luckstone for +1 to every skill, and we're wearing a special ring of protection (+2 AC, extra +1 vs. Undead) and a Ring of Regeneration +4. We're also dual-wielding a +2 Dagger (+1d6 Cold Damage) and Bishop's Dagger, which is non-magical but does extra slashing damage and massive criticals.

Decent, but not as good as it could be. But I'm holding off on buying really nice stuff (partly because we can find or make better and partly because I'm saving up for something really nice).

While we're here, let's check out the Feats page.

Whoah! Those aren't in my Player's Handbook!

Yeah, these are Epithet feats, which we've been quietly accumulating throughout the game. Most of these are for flavour more than anything else, and you acquire them automatically as you progress through the plot. Harborman explains how people from West Harbor are unusually tough (and smelly), Orc Slayer commemorates successfully completing Old Owl Well without switching off, Squire of Neverwinter is, well, I think you've worked it out by now.

A couple are optional. History feats that you picked at character creation go here. There are two as well that you may or may not get: Shadow Thief of Amn and Master Orator. The first is for choosing the Shadow Thieves in Act 1, the second for beating Torio in a skill check during the Trial.

Shadow Thief is the only one that has any real effect, as it controls whether you're allowed the Shadow Thief prestige class. In the Storm of Zehir expansion pack, however, epithet feats come with minor skill bonuses, making them a bit more worthwhile.

Anyway, in epithet feats I strongly detect the hand of J.E. Sawyer, long-time Obsidian and Black Isle developer who finished up development of NWN2 as its second Lead Designer. Epithets were something he began thinking about back during the development of Fallout 3, when it was codenamed Van Buren and being worked on at BIS, and I remember it was something he was pretty keen on; it was a system that could keep track of the player's personal character development and alter gameplay accordingly. So, for example, certain people might react badly to a Slaver character, or merchants might offer a discount for an NCR Ranger... that kinda thing. He was also considering using it for Baldur's Gate 3: The Black Hound (codenamed Project Jefferson, I believe).

Unfortunately both projects ended up being cancelled, which is a damn shame.

* * *

Since Khelgar's completed all three Vision Quests, it's time to see Prior Hlam about turning him into a Monk.

(Or not.)

: Indeed. Then let him speak, and we shall see for ourselves.
: I think he's faced the Trial of the Maimed.
: It's true - met some of my clan in Old Owl Well. Made me realize what turning away from my blood has done.
: But I was able to put things to right, help them out, and I think I was able to heal the wound.
: I hear it in your voice. You have faced the Trial of the Maimed. Well done, it is not an easy thing for most to see.
: He's learned to judge others on their actions.

: But... traveling with even the worst, slimiest, smelliest of tieflings and no-honor tree-worshipping elves has taught me some of them are all right.
: So who knows? Maybe they're all worth a closer look, instead of lumping them all together and passing judgement on the whole bunch of those good-for-nothings.
: Very well. Seeing the world with such eyes meets the Trial of the Even-Handed, we are pleased.
: When I was on trial - and proven innocent - Khelgar learned what justice is.

Haha, yes. Rub it in, Calliope.

: And I realized then that there was nothing I wouldn't do to clear her name - because it was the right thing to do.
: There's fights you pick, and fights that pick you. And when you've got something more than just your pride at stake - that can be stronger than anything your opponent's got.
: And such strength is the essence of the Trial of Justice.

Now, we don't want to turn Khelgar into a Monk. He's not very good at it - just doesn't have the stats. Plus if we keep him as a Fighter he gets some cool weapons later on.

Oh, but Khelgar doesn't agree with us!

You need an Influence of 10 or more to finish this quest completely - otherwise Khelgar says he needs more time to think.

Only it's bugged. Now, making Khelgar into a Monk works perfectly, mind. In fact, have a conversation excerpt:


: : Hnh. All right, well, let's get on, then.
: What happened?
: Well... nothing happened, really. He just asked me some questions, and then he - uh, listened. He didn't even nod.
: He didn't even tell me to put on any robes - he said that I would know what I had to do next down my path.
: That sounds useless.
: He said that the journey of a monk is one way where you question yourself, the world around you, and evolve accordingly.
: {Trying to recount somebody else's words} As long as I uh... keep... "persist"... doing that, and take every experience as it comes, he said that I should learn that I don't even need to fight to defeat my enemies - if I watch, wait, and study them, I'll have "beaten them before they even attack me."
: Which was disappointing to hear since I was hoping to land a few punches, but I think I understand.
: So what was the obstacle then?
: I think the biggest hurdle was just learning the tenents of Tyr - just being able to do that was enough.
: I was hoping for some ceremony, or celebration, but Hlam said that wasn't how they do things at the Temple - and a monk "needs no such displays."
: I'll take him out drinking at the taverns some night and see if he changes his mind, though - and maybe crack a few skulls for fun.
: In any event, we're done here. Let's go out and punch some githyanki, Luskans, or whatever it takes.

And Khelgar becomes a Monk, re-leveling back up from Level 1 to Level Whatever.

However, to get him to refuse Monk training, you need exactly 10 Influence - not over 10, but exactly 10.

: These trials taught me some things, and what I learned is I don't see fighting the way you do, maybe never will.
: I'm fine with who I am and how I fight - and that's just being true to myself. I'll stay the same fighter I am - to do anything else would be lying to myself.
: Very well, we respect your decision. We wish you justice on your travels, Khelgar of the Clan Ironfist.

It doesn't stick, though - talk to Hlam again and you'll be able to make Khelgar into a monk, if you so choose.

There's some more cut content with regards to Khelgar's Vision Quests as well. Remember back when we first took Khelgar to see the monks? And we argued with him about what it means to be a Monk, and he promised he'd try thinking it over?

You were supposed to be able to prove to him that the mind was stronger than the body. By getting enough "successes" in his dialogue, you could argue this:


: What I'm saying is there's more to fighting than fighting.
: {Slight irritation, scoffs} It makes no sense, it's wordplay. Riddles.
: {Multiple successes} If there's anything I've shown you, it's when you control when and how a fight begins, you've won already.
: {Reluctant, thinking it over} Well... it just seems like dodging a fight is... well, cowardly, goblin-like.
: Khelgar, those monks you first met in the tavern defeated you easily. Surely there's truth in that.
: [Influence: Success] Maybe you're right. Hmmm.
: It's just an odd thought to get one's arm around and choke, you know?
: All right, maybe by not fighting and being more open to what's going on in the skull before cracking it, maybe there's some truth in there. Somewhere.
: I'll try it, but I warn you, if I don't like it, I'm going back to learning the traditional way.

Alternatively, you could go the other way and convince him to remain a fighter:

Oops. That's not what I meant.


: I think you should give up becoming a monk. It's a fool's quest.
: {Success, sighing} I'm thinking you're right. Maybe it was a fool's quest to begin with.
: I should focus on what I've already learned about being a brawler, a fighter. I've been learning as I've been traveling with you, and I think if it came down to fighting again, I could beat those robed skinnies in a fair fight.
: So I won't be troubling you with anymore with this - I'm going to keep my vision on the path, on the fighting path.

I imagine it was cut because click-happy players might end up screwing themselves out of a quest just by exploring all their dialogue options first. Not all cut content is bad, you know!

But enough about Khelgar. We'll come back to him in due course.

* * *

On our way to Port Llast, we're stopped by this bozo.

: Just curious. You do seem to get around.
: Have we met?
: We've never been properly introduced to each other, so let's do that now, shall we?

: It's a robe, you bastard.
: And now that introductions have been made, there's the matter of the bounty on your head.
: What bounty?
: The Arcane Brotherhood is very unhappy with you right now, so unhappy that they've offered a hefty sum of gold to anyone who brings your head back to Luskan.

Hey, this isn't fair! I went through a lot of time and effort to turn that trial into a farce, and now the Brotherhood won't recognise the verdict? Bastards!

: You're a well-known adventurer, and the fact that you've survived this long means you've got skill and good equipment.

Ah, yes. These are the would-be heroes of Luskan.

We must be their first module end-boss!

: [Success] Forget this, Zinn. I'm not going to die here today.

And they just failed a skill challenge.

As the numbers indicate, this fight is pretty one-sided. Doesn't their DM know how to use ECLs?

I don't know what they were talking about when they said we had great loot. The stuff they already had was plenty good enough.

Oh, if only they'd stuck to fighting zombies and lizardmen, like we did. Gotta earn your stripes, boy.

* * *

The reason we were headed to Port Llast in the first place was so I could show you this option. Haljal sells weapons out of his smithy, but with the special Blessed of Waukeen epithet feat we can access a super-secret-special merchant store:

It's full of some high-quality, very expensive magical items - one specialised for each class, plus a few general-issue items.

There's a couple of these Waukeen merchants scattered throughout the game (Waukeen being the goddess of trade and wealth). The feat was a bonus for pre-order customers, automatically given to their characters on creation. It was later patched into other normal copies of the game so everyone could access the special merchants.

* * *

This is the Academy in Neverwinter - that's right, the school for mages that Qara got chucked out of.

The Academy porter is being harassed by an imp of some sort.

This is the hook for a quest that we're not going to do. The imp is hiding around a corner - talk to him and he'll ask you to free his buddies, trapped in those crates right there. Freeing them looses a horde of unruly imps upon the students and nobles of Blacklake; it's a massively Chaotic act, one of the largest alignment shifts in the game, and we're not going to do it because we're Lawful Boring.

But I'd like to talk to Jenks a moment. Trust me, it'll get us back on track in a weird roundabout way.

: [Success] Aye, that's right. Assistant Kennel-Keeper Jenks, that's who you're talkin' to.
: Dangerous beasts are my stock and trade, they are. Lockin' 'em up, movin' 'em in and out, beatin' them as deserve it...

: Half a candle... you're that magister's daughter, the one what got expelled. Twice the temper of any normal girl, and half the wit.
: And I ain't never ogled you, girlie, with your scowls and your boyish looks. You ain't no better than me, not no more... not since your daddy cast you out.



Hrm... hey, whatever happened to Qara's little subplot anyway? You know, with the Hosttower mage and the animus elemental?

* * *

First we tell Nevalle some good news.

: Both of them? What happened?
: Larim was Lord Temar's agent. Temar was trying to use the Luskans to overthrow Nasher.
: I see. I knew Temar wasn't fond of Nasher, but a traitor?
: In any case, well done, squire. You've served Neverwinter well.

And then we tell Nasher some bad news.

: That is... terrible news. Without her, the Nine are weakened tremendously, and she will be missed.
: The killer - were you at least able to catch him?
: Against demons? Not likely.
: Then it seems there is little more to be done. I can dispatch the Many-Starred Cloaks to the Moonstone Mask and Cyran's home to look for clues...

: Keeping her identity a secret was not meant to harm you or her - but there were too many uncertainties in these deaths as it stood to risk it.
: I am sorry if you find that difficult to understand, but it was my decision to make, not yours.
: I don't like being lied to or deceived, especially when I'm putting my life at risk.

I'm outraged! Seriously outraged!

*has max skill ranks in Bluff*
*is a Shadow Thief*

: If there was a trial, I would ask you to track down this murderer... but without one... I fear we will have to bide our time.

And so our adventure comes to a close. No more leads. Aldanon's gone, the Warlock has vanished without trace, and everyone else we know is dead.

Unless... plot ex machina?


: I said I would send for you later, after I am done here.

This camera angle isn't my doing, by the way - this is a dramatic reveal of the latest person to enter our story.

: Ah, is this the Harborman... the Squire I have heard so much about?

: Whoever she is, she's powerful... and she's masking it well, too.
: I am familiar with your exploits... and as exceptional as they are, I am certain we could spend most of the day discussing them.
: [Diplomacy] Milord, if this is an inappropriate time, I will take my leave.
: [Success] No, no - I want you here, this merits your attention.

Hrm. She looks familiar...

Oh yeah, this is Johcris' friend - the one he hired to kill Qara. So we already know she's Evil (I mean more so than just being Luskan).

: Her associate is Khralver, I believe-

No, I'm not sure exactly what she's saying here either.

: No, in fact, far from it.
: There has been a miscommunication, so I have traveled from Luskan to straighten certain matters out. If they were left to rumor, gossip, or surface appearances, they might be... misconstrued.

Ah, I get it. She's damage control. Luskan realised they messed up and have sent someone to do some heavy-duty PR. Plausible deniability.

It's also background for our old friend Black Garius.

: There are four towers in Luskan, each ruled by a skilled mage... and we four work tirelessly to aid Luskan and its people.
: But there is a self-styled "Master of the Fifth Tower," who, as his title suggests, has... overstepped his bounds.
: This mage is a man by the name of Garius - "Black" Garius, I believe is yet another title he uses - silly, really, but he really does believe he casts a longer shadow than he does.

I really love these bitchy options we have. Nasher and Natale are busy playing Diplomacy, while we're still in Topple Blocks mode.

: Ambassador Natale informed me earlier that she believes Black Garius began the war with their island neighbour, Ruathym.
: Yes. And it has served as a convenient means to distract Luskan from its real priorities. Regardless, Ruathym was an aggressor for quite some time, so action needed to be taken regardless...

I say, she isn't anywhere near as good as Torio.

: I am certain they would have, milord. But since Ruathym attacked us first, it is our responsibility to deal with their aggression and quickly... you can expect little else from island barbarians, really.
: You see, Ruathym believed that Luskan had stolen a precious artifact from them - a book called the Tome of Iltkazar.

No, not the Tome of Iltkazar!

What's the Tome of Iltkazar?

Good question.

This isn't particularly fun. Nobody cares about pretend politics in the Forgotten Realms, of all places. Sadly Obsidian decided a great big long info-dump was the only means possible to advance the plot.

: That is a matter we feel best left to Neverwinter... the matter is a domestic one, as it turns out.
: But that is not all that concerns us - we believe that Black Garius has made an alliance with someone known as "the King of Shadows" - a man or creature - of whom we know very little.
: Garius was no doubt able to steal the Tome of Iltkazar with help from this ally - and use it to bolster his armies with golems awakened by the Tome.
: He sparked a war for a book? Isn't that a Luskan matter?

Right. That's useful information.

: I have heard of the loss of your local sage, Aldanon, but I suspect he is a part of this.
: I knew it all along!
: He is not guilty of being Garius' compatriot, if that is your belief. I think in such an instance, a kidnapping would not have been needed.
: I suspect he was kidnapped to provide the last of the missing pieces to the ritual - a ritual that will steal power from the "King of Shadows" - and grant it to Garius.

: We felt it was not only our duty to clear up any ties you might believe exist between Luskan and this criminal, but also inform you of his whereabouts - he and his forces are in a ruined castle, Crossroad Keep, within Neverwinter lands.
: Normally, Luskan would not hesitate to take action against such a criminal, but with the confusion that has already occurred, we felt it was best to advise Lord Nasher - and you - of the situation and allow you to do what you feel is best.
: I find it very hard to believe that Garius could have done all this for so long in secret - without the knowledge... or support... of the mages of Luskan.
: I am ashamed to admit this, but that is the truth of the matter.

: What happened at Ember was unfortunate, but Luskan would never condone such an action.
: You're lying.

I've been waiting a long time for this. Luskan has been up to no good since... forever. Time for payback!

fucking realpolitik

: I see the Harborman - and his (sic) lackey - are as stubborn as I have heard. I did not expect you to understand the subtleties of state and the delicate touch that politics requires, especially in these equally-delicate times.
: No, she's right! This isn't about politics, it's about the people of Ember - you had to have known what was going to happen, and to let it - just be conveniently forgotten like this... it's... it's...
: Shandra Jerro, the strength of Neverwinter comes from its citizens, and you have shown me that now.
: But listen to me. There are greater threats to Neverwinter as we speak. What happened at Ember is unfortunate, but I believe the one responsible has been punished for that crime.
: If we carry the accusation further to Luskan, I do not believe it is warranted, and furthermore, I am the one who sets policy in this court.
: This is not about one man, or one village. This is about Neverwinter, and it is about protecting what exists.

: I know, and I am sorry for their loss. But unless this Garius is stopped, I fear that another tragedy will occur, much greater than what occurred at Ember.
: Justice will come for those - in time, but not today.
: And I need you to accept it. We all have burdens to bear, and if they must be carried so that the people of Neverwinter may be safe, that is what must be done.

He almost makes it sound noble.

: Lord Nasher, forgive me, but Black Garius may have begun the ritual, quick action is needed. I have done what I could to inform you of what we know - it is up to you to act, if you wish.
: And Harborman, as further proof of my good faith and the good faith of Luskan, rest assured I will keep looking for information on this King of Shadows... and any proof I can bring that Luskan had no involvement with Ember.
: I imagine such "proof" will come in time.
: Yes, girl, in fact, I know it will.

Phew. Hell of a lot of , eh? Especially since it reads a bit like a first draft at times.

It was probably intended to be a full-on cutscene - it certainly feels that way - but time constraints led to what you see here. Sydney and Khralver hang around after the conversation has finished - and someone forgot to give them specific voicesets because when you click on them you hear the default "I HEAR YOU" Aasimar soundset.

But it's out of the way now, so relax. We've got an old score to settle.

: I want you to leave as soon as you are able to travel. Rescue Aldanon, and you are to do everything in your power to stop this ritual Garius intends to perform.

Right, will do. But one last thing before we go: Arval's journal.

: We found this journal being used in a ritual within Neverwinter - it looks as if it belongs to a shadow priest.
: Indeed? Let me see that - I shall have some of the Many-Starred Cloaks examine it at once.

200gp? Cheers, Nasher.

On the other hand, Nasher's about to give us something much, much better than gold.