The Let's Play Archive

Neverwinter Nights 2

by Lt. Danger

Part 58: Act Two Chapter Twenty-Three - A Hundred Blades Of Our Own

It's time for some R&R at the Keep before we head off on our next quest.

Completing Arvahn has deactivated the 25% Time block and we can now progress our Keep further.

We've got a romance moment first, though. Casavir approaches Bishop in the undergrowth.

It's not like that, you perverts.

: I figure whatever it is, it must have you all troubled up to your halo to make you come all the way out here. Maybe it's jealousy.

: Really? Guess I called it wrong then - but thing is, when I shoot an arrow, it doesn't miss.
: I am watching you, Bishop. I do not trust you - and she shouldn't either.
: Sounds like good advice to me. Same thing I told her about you.
: What do you mean?

Limitations of the engine mean that we can't just cut away to a different location - the player avatar has to be in the area currently loaded, even if the camera is directed elsewhere.

So that's why Calliope and party are in shot in the background there. Professional actors, my bum

: It's the problem with you holy warriors - and why you're such trouble on the battlefield.
: All that pent-up frustration, when all you really need to admit is that you need a drink from a wench's cups just like the rest of us.
: Do not speak of her that way.

: I know what she likes. She likes someone who's not afraid to make the hard decisions, who's not afraid to do what needs to be done.
: Because men like me are a sight more honest than anyone with a temple's cloak on their shoulder.
: Now get out of here, and let her make her own decisions. I do.

I don't know whether to be flattered or insulted by Bishop's words. It's good that he has some respect for us as intelligent beings, instead of getting all tripped up on his goony notions of chivalry like Casavir does... but it's Bishop.

Besides, he's just using us to get to Casavir. This is one version of a cutscene we can get at Crossroad Keep - the version where Bishop has greater Influence than Casavir.

Obsidian charmingly calls this 'The War of the Roses', and this is what you get if Casavir is winning:


{Cas is sitting, cleaning his weapon or standing guard (or something suitably stoic), when Bishop comes up behind him. There's a moment of silence, then Bishop begins his attack.}
: {Nonchalant, getting ready to bait Casavir} Heard you had some trouble back in Neverwinter walls - bad enough to make you flee to Old Owl Well.
: {Cold, a little dismissive} There are troubles within and without Neverwinter's walls, both must be faced.
: {Still baiting Casavir} It's just that I thought paladins were loyal to a fault... but had a hard time believing Neverwinter was right all the time, did you?
: {Says nothing, face becomes angry.}
: {Slight smug sneer} It surprised me, because I thought paladins were supposed to be devoted to a cause, to a nation, to its people, no matter where it leads - or what your King commands.
: {Cold, Bishop's getting under his skin} My problems are my own, not Neverwinter's - or yours.
: {Nonchalant, sarcastic} Oh 'course not - a virtuous man like you probably wouldn't dream of lying to yourself.
: {Here's the hook, he's jealous of the female PC's attention for Casavir} It's just, as I see it, a man's gotta be honest not only with himself, but with his comrades and his allies.
: And if a man loses faith in allegiance to something as big as Neverwinter, well, he might go a little too far in the other direction... and lose himself to a woman next.
: {Slight taunt} Might even follow her into death, drop all his paladin vows right then and there. Is that something you want on your head?
: {Cold, appraising} Do my feelings for her really cause you that much concern?
: {Mocking, walking away} Concern? No, I'm just worried about what kind of trouble it's going to bring if you aren't honest with yourself this time around.

With Casavir's side-quest cut, this is the only in-game hint we get that Casavir originally fell because of his love for a woman.

Of course, we won't have to worry about that on this playthrough.

* * *

We've done well for ourselves. We've sold off quite a bit of loot, mostly from Arvahn, and become even richer than we were before.

And there's still more to come. This is just from selling off all the stuff I knew I didn't want to use.

With money in our coffers, we can finish upgrading the Keep's walls and roads. Each Road upgrade provides a +10 to Road Security (for a total of +40) while the same applies to the walls upgrade, but for Land Security (for a total of +30).

Since we chose to become a brutal fascist dictator, I upgraded the walls first. This turned out to be a bit of a mistake.

* * *

Daerred and his friends survived their epic journey to Port Llast, it seems. They've returned to get their XP and a new assignment.

: It's me... you know, Daerred? My fellows and I have been adventuring for some time.
: You got my note about Port Llast, right? Your Kana was right, you know. Dark deeds happening on the Luskan border.

Pssh, it's not my fault I'm a protagonist. This sort of thing just happens to me.

Well, okay, mostly to other people.

: Right you are - should I ask him about rumors? No, I'm sure the innkeep will have those.
: Do you know of any jobs for an adventurer?

Oh, the lies sound so interesting and exciting! Besides, Highcliff is perfectly suitable for low-level adventurers and not deadly at all!

Boring, but not deadly.

: The King of Shadows, why y-
: Juen, Candril - we have our quest! To find out about the King of Shadows.
: Pack the saddlebags on the horses, there must be clues around. Adventure awaits!

* * *

Uncus doesn't have anything new for us (not until Act 3) but Kana does.

Strictly speaking, we haven't ordered anyone to do anything yet. We've only just got back from Arvahn.

But reconstructing and upgrading the walls has increased Land Security to the point where we trigger this special event: Ziffer and his village.

: If you ask me, you've got more sense than many a lord. So I-
: Ziffer wants us to sign a village charter allowing him to start a community here. I talked with Sir Nevalle - even though you are just a squire Lord Nasher has left the matter in your hands.
: Tell me more about the town charter.
: I fear I am not the best equipped to answer that but-

: Regardless, you get to carry out the Lord's Tax and we get your protection. I wouldn't have even come here if you hadn't made clear that you mean to make your lands a better place.


: Are there any implications of starting a village on the Keep's lands?
: There are, Captain. Outside the Keep's borders bandits, beasts and monsters wait.
: Villages offer tempting targets for some of them, and we'll need to continue our patrols to make sure they remain safe.
: We're sort of counting on that, Captain. If things get too rough...

This isn't really a choice so much as a warning. Of course we want Ziffer to start a village - more peasants, more taxes.

But we have to keep Land Security high (higher than it is currently, in fact) else Ziffer will leave and that's that - no more peasants, no more taxes.

And that means we have to send the Greycloaks out on patrol. Like, right now.

Anyway, we examine the charter.

And we use our Appraise skill to make it more amenable (i.e. make more money out of these dirt-grubbing peasants).

Money isn't the only thing we get out of Ziffer's village, as we'll soon see.

* * *

We get a special mission to send our tax collectors out to the villages. Not very glamorous, but it has to be done.

Except we haven't increased our taxes beyond zero, so there's no need to send anyone.

If you do send taxmen out, you get additional options to increase the amount you get back. Meaner options (like telling the men to lie, or take everything that isn't nailed down) decreases Civility.

Instead we send the men on patrol. You can order the Greycloaks to either a) patrol the roads, b) patrol the lands, c) patrol both. Patrolling one or the other increases either Land or Road Security. Patrolling both increases neither, but also prevents them from degrading. The amount of Security increased is a function of your Greycloaks' total strength, much like special missions.

When the men aren't on patrol, Security degrades. Road Security degrades faster than Land Security does, so it's best to increase Land Security first, then switch to patrolling the roads, switching back to lands occasionally to keep that high.

As you can see, we're quick enough and strong enough that we get Land Security up pretty high, which means Ziffer won't be leaving our lands any time soon.

Uncus is less happy, but we're not concerned with what the Shadow Thieves want - and there's no negative effect anyway.

This is sort of the Road Security equivalent of Ziffer's charter, except less involved.

: Three of them want to set up a caravan outpost in our Keep. Each of them says it's vital if we wish trade to expand.

: This matter is urgent - and I fear we will insult each of them if we don't respond promptly. Whose offer should we accept?


One of the costers is Good, another is Neutral, and the last is Evil. Each one has a different impact on your Keep.

Unfortunately there are no hints as to which one is which does what, so choose carefully!

Or use Appraise.

Or you might know already. The three costers play a prominent role in the NWN2 expansion pack Storm of Zehir.

Or just guess. The names are hints as to who's who.

We choose the Evil option for Evil alignment points. The Fated Winds decrease Civility, but give a +25 Merchant Tax adjustment, which is huge. The Fated Lords only give +10, while the Circle of Friends give nothing at all.

* * *

Daerred's sent us another note.


To the Captain of Crossroad Keep,

I am pleased to report our findings from the quest you sent us on to gather information about the King of Shadows.

We ventured south, south, south into the Mere of Dead Men. Our goal was to head straight to the Vale of Merdelain, where we supposed we might find many answers about this shadowy King of Shadows. The journey to the Mere was chock full of good times, pleasant weather on the road and accomodating barmaids at most of the inns we came across. Why, Juen even bought a pet ferret at a bargain price from a one-eyed merchant. She named the ferret Pogo, but more on that later.

Unfortunately, before we got far into the Mere, we were chased by some crazed druids. After eluding them, we decided to camp for the night. We all felt as tired as the walking dead by that point, but still I insisted that Maxil take the first watch. Not long into the night, Maxil's screams woke us. He was running around the camp with an undead Pogo clamped onto his left boot. Through tears of regret, Juen uttered a cantrip that sent Pogo skittering off into the underbrush, deeper into the Mere than we dared venture.

We all talked about what happened as we hastened north away from the Mere. Juen said that she believes proximity to the Vale of Merdelain turned poor Pogo into a member of the walking, or skittering, dead.

We agreed that if we had not been disturbed from our slumber, we might have suffered the same fate. I strongly urge you to tell your people to avoid proximity to the Vale of Merdelain.

Boldly yours,

Daerred & Company

P.S. Should you encounter an undead ferret, please put the poor thing out of its misery.

A few hints there at things to come.

We get another special mission from Kana...

...and the results of a mission from a long time ago.

: The 'Cloaks found them and then laid an ambush for them. The battle was intense, but the bandits were routed with only a few injuries on our side.

We get Doman's club and a hefty monetary reward for successful completion of the mission.

* * *

Okay, this is what we really wanted Ziffer for.

A little while after settling in your lands, Ziffer will start offering up volunteers for the Greycloaks. Volunteers are different from recruits in that you actively have to send your men out recruiting to get recruits, while volunteers join your army automatically.

It's a lot easier to get volunteers than recruits, and you can get a lot more of them, so taking Ziffer up on his offer is a good idea.

Ah, but there's a problem: accepting Ziffer's men decreases our Greycloaks' Elite modifier. They're untrained scrubs, after all - it's only natural they'd drag the rest of the unit down.

But you can't say no to Ziffer without upsetting him, decreasing Civility - and you won't get any volunteers, keeping unit sizes low.

But you can use Diplomacy to only take the good volunteers, without insulting Ziffer or his village.

An illustration of the impact volunteers have. Compare to the number of recruits.

Recruitment success depends on the strength, size and morale of your Greycloaks. It's hard to get Greycloaks at first because you only start with fifty men, who are all rubbish at recruitment.

But allowing volunteers into our army has doubled its strength already!

And we're not even close to done yet.

: Our contracts have brought us from the Sea of Fallen Stars to here. We'd like to join your Greycloaks.
: These mercenaries are better than some I've seen - but they're still undisciplined and not used to rules. Or dealing with people, it could hurt us if we accept them.
: Although the Ravens are hardened warriors, our standards are even higher. We look only for the best - and some of them aren't.

Kana's none too keen on the Ravens, for several reasons. One is that she's a big-F Fighter with an Oriental-themed prestige class stuck up her rear end; the other is that (as part of her cut backstory) she used to work as a mercenary for the Night Masks, also from Westgate.

I think the half-orc reminds her of a time she'd much rather forget.

Taking the Raven's Allies on board reduces Greycloak Civility, but we can make it up anyway. More Greycloaks means a stronger army, and who needs manners when you have a hundred swords?

Or four hundred and eighty-two, for that matter?

We sent Katriona and some Greycloaks out for one more round of recruiting, with the inflated numbers from the Raven's Allies and Ziffer's village. A hundred and forty-seven is a big step up from ten.

And we're still not even close to done yet.

Another special mission: to scout out the Mere of Dead Men. Daerred and his adventurers didn't do so hot when they went, but maybe our Greycloaks will do better.

Unfortunately my playthrough bugged out and Kana started telling me about how the Greycloaks defeated Doman the Ogre again. Hey, the King of Shadows is a master of the undead, after all.

Anyway we hit 62% with a (nearly) fully upgraded Keep. Our lands have been fully secured, meaning I've put the taxes and tithes up - hence the five-figure income.

We've got 500-odd Greycloaks, which is very nearly the maximum allowed - in theory. Supposedly you can only get up to 600 Greycloaks total, but Crossroad Keep's a little buggy and people have reported armies of thousands of soldiers.

We'll see what happens. In the meantime, we admire our new guardsmen.

Anyway, this is our block for Act 2. We won't be able to do anything more with the Keep until after we visit Ammon Jerro's Haven, which is happening soon.

Not next update, though. There's someone we need to build first.