The Let's Play Archive

Neverwinter Nights 2

by Lt. Danger

Part 61: Act Two Chapter Twenty-Six - My Six Demons

Just as we were about to enter Ammon Jerro's Haven, we lost Shandra. How embarassing!

And inside we find this fellow. Hmm...

It's Mephasm from the Githyanki Lair. What is he doing here?

: Ennnh... not this guy again.
: Ah... the tiefling. You came at last.
: It wasn't my idea, trust me. You don't sound surprised to see me... or us.
: My dear, if Baator teaches one anything, it is that everything has happened countless times before... and the resolutions are just as predictable.

The dialogue for Mephasm here changes depending on if Neeshka met Mephasm before at the Lair, if this is the first time they've met, or if she isn't in the party at all.

: As I am pleased to see you. Unfortunately, this is not the best of circumstances.
: You find me bound once more against my will. This time my cage is larger and more secure.
: I freed you, and yet here you are. You have some explaining to do.
: Yes, I presume you are wondering why you found me first in the githyanki complex, and now again in this place.

Damn. Bad enough we had to deal with the Guardian golem outside - I was hoping the Haven itself would be deserted.

: You of all people should know the power of names. This warlock wears anonymity like a cloak to shield himself from his enemies.
: You escaped one summoning circle only to be caught in another, similar circle...
: If you're implying that I have been less than honest with you, you are correct. The warlock is the master of Zaxis and I, as well as the others here.

Son of a bitch tricked us. Well, can't blame him. At least we're still alive, which isn't usually what happens when you get tricked by a devil.

: Is there a way to free you - assuming of course that I want to free you?

: It appears you know something I did not, for once. I had wondered how you were able to enter this place.
: But if you brought Shandra here, where is she? I do not see her among you.
: She disappeared as we entered this place.
: You must find her. She is in great peril here.
: Why? She's a Jerro - shouldn't she be the safest one of all?
: I've told you all I can about this matter. I fear I may have already said too much.


I don't trust Mephasm, but to be honest he's been pretty good to us so far. As we'll see, there are meaner devils out there.

Mephasm's a tricky one. He looks like an eladrin (an elf-like celestial outsider) but he's obviously of the fiendish persuasion. I thought he was an amnizu at first, because of where he comes from, but apparently he's a polymorphed pit fiend, the most powerful of the devils.

And he's got something to do with Neeshka, hence all the cryptic comments he makes towards her.

Anyway, Mephasm gives us the low-down on this place. To paraphrase:

Demons are Chaotic Evil, devils are Lawful Evil. Because of this, the two sides hate each other. This expresses itself in the Blood War, a colossal inter-planar conflict between the demons and devils that has and will rage for millenia on end. The Blood War is fought to define the face of true evil; should one side win out, they'd become strong enough to conquer the planes and wipe out all Goodness forever. The Haven contains six fiends - three demons, three devils - and their opposing energies are used to empower the warlock who has taken over here.

You should also know that demons are sometimes called tanar'ri and devils are sometimes called baatezu. This is a relic of 2nd Edition, which renamed all the planes from religious stuff like "The Nine Hells," "Nirvana," "Hades," to "Baator," "Mechanus," "The Gray Waste." See previous update on D&D-satanism-scare of the 1980s.

Also, demons and devils aren't the only kind of fiends around. The other big players are yugoloths or daemons - Neutral Evil fiends that play both sides in the Blood War. There are also numerous other kinds of Lower Planes outsiders, like gehreleths, rakshasas and night hags.

Simple enough, yuh?

: Whatever it may have been before, it has been transformed into this... prison.
: If you ever wish to leave this place, you must get into the laboratory which lies at the center of this area.
: You see the portal in the corner? It allows me to summon servants from my home plane, should I wish it. The others have similar portals in their rooms.
: It is possible for me to subvert the portal's power to allow it to do other things - like take you to the laboratory - but my power alone isn't enough.

There's the rub. In order to get to the laboratory and find Shandra, we have to convince the demons and devils in this place to work together. To co-operate.

Hard enough to get normal Evil creatures to get along, never mind demons and devils!

Mephasm activates his portal. We need a simple majority - four fiends - so that's three more to go.

* * *

: My dear, this entire haven is tied to the Jerro bloodline. I imagine you got here exactly how you entered.
: My friends... where are they?
: Around, no doubt. Probably not having as easy a time as you, I expect.

* * *

The Haven has the form of a giant horseshoe. Mephasm's room is at one end. The next room, halfway up, is Baalbisan's.

: A balor demon. Be careful... one wrong answer, and we won't get to ask another question. Just stay calm, don't let him get to you.

Balors are the top dogs of the demon hierarchy - big bastards with flaming swords and short tempers. They lead armies of lesser demons into combat.

: What is this thin-blooded thing I hear, its flesh reeking with the stench of the baatezu? Is it female? It must be - it is too weak to be otherwise.
: "Weak?" Weak?!
: That's a laugh, saying that, while I'm out here and you're trapped inside that summoning circle, you half-witted tanar'ri hindlicker!
: It thinks bold words make it superior? It is a small drop of evil, a random and hissing bloodfly only... weak as a baatezu, weaker as a female.
: And how did you get here? Did they lure you in with the promise of a dozen goblets of blood on a silver platter of horse entrails?

Well, thanks for that, Neeshka. I'm sure he'll be dying to help us now.

But we'll agree with Neeshka for precious, precious Influence.

: The half-breed, it is obvious, but it who orders the half-breed...

Baalbisan's has a bit of a thing about women (as you might have guessed). Admitting that you're female upsets him and he won't talk to you any more.

: It must be very dumb not to know if it is a female. I will trust that it is not female, despite its frail appearance and shrill voice.

He says this even if you're male. In fact...


: (male only) No, I'm not female.
: But it looks so female. How can I be certain?
: I suppose I could show you. Stand back - I'll need a lot of room.
: It offers to reveal its parts, but my vision is not what it was. I doubt I could make out something so diminutive.
: Hey! That's not nice - and from what I can tell, it's not small at all.
: What did you say?
: Hey, I don't know, I'm just trying to help.

Dicks, eh?

: What it asks is not simple. It entreats me use my power, weakening my position, and the female devil Hezebel will gain the advantage.
: Hezebel must obviously be weakened before I agree to its request. This preserves the balance.
: Who's Hezebel?
: Hezebel is the fickle female who sends her erinyes to torment me with their shrill, taunting voices and their sickly sweet stench.
: It must make enemies with Hezebel and slay all of her hateful servants. I will open the path, that it may go forth and exercise my will in such things.

Well, all right then. We have an objective.

* * *

: So I can travel anywhere within this sanctuary? I can rejoin those I came with?
: Eventually... yes. It may require some practice.
: But you may find travel here erratic - this entire place has many locks and seals, their power drawn from the demons and devils caged here. Finding the right path may take time.
: But my friends can't?
: They will have a... more difficult time, yes. I think they will soon envy you when they discover the power you have.

* * *

Three of Hezebel's erinyes confront us in the connecting corridor. Unfortunately we've decided to help Baalbisan, because...


You know, why are we helping Baalbisan?

Hezebel's a little upset but nothing that we can't apologise away.

Angering her further causes her to summon the rest of her servants, which we can kill to please Baalbisan. I'd rather help Hezebel, though.

First things first: we get Hezebel on our side.

Actually, I deliberately failed this Charisma check so I could show you the following:

: Don't get me wrong - I've known my share of banshees, but at least they weren't stupid enough to get trapped inside a summoning circle like you.
: Trapped... in circles... such curious words. Are they taken from a memory, ranger? A memory that carries the scent of blood with it?
: Well now - if you're going to go cryptic on us, maybe we should just put you in a tomb right now.
: There is nothing cryptic in my words - and nothing hidden that is not written on your features and in your mind.
: How long has it been since you defended a woman as you have now? Shown a kindness? Or has life been servitude, always trapped in one circle within another, ever narrowing?

Erinyes are another kind of devil - the seductive, rather than destructive, kind. An erinyes can look into your soul, see your very heart's desires...

: Look... I appreciate it, but I can handle her. Don't protect me, you're just... playing her game by trying to be a hero.
: Ah, "heroes"... such disdain on your voice.
: For every hero, ranger, a thousand fall. For every one born of West Harbor, there are a thousand weaker, driven from their homes in shame.
: But what makes my life so sweet, my existence so sweet, is those that stab back when such things wound them, and for whom every kindness shown them lashes them like a whip.
: Tell your "lovely" friend, who does not even realize what it means for you to defend her, to journey with her, what it meant when this... "Duncan" saved you.

...or your deepest fears.

: She can't - her words are the only things she's got, and they're empty, like she is.
: Oh, I am done talking. I have planted a seed that will take some time to grow, and that is enough.

Even though we failed the Charisma check, Hezebel is willing to help us - if we can find out the True Name of Baalbisan's matron. She suggests Taunting him so that he blurts it out in a moment of rage, though we have a more circuitous solution in mind.

This option is incompatible with helping Baalbisan, since Hezebel won't talk to you if you kill her erinyes, and Baalbisan won't open the gate if you successfully Taunt him.

* * *

: Ah... a gift. After all this time, I am touched. Tell me, little one, how did you get here?
: I... I'm not sure. A demonness told me I could travel anywhere in this place... and suddenly, I was here.
: Blood powers this place, girl.
: Now here you are of your own free will, and the balance shifts.
: What balance?

: And who is that?
: A powerful wizard, one whom your friends have hunted for some time. He has thwarted your efforts time and again.

: Then he better be prepared for a beating. My friends in here have handled a lot worse.
: My dear, as long as we remain in our summoning circles, the one who commands us will rise from every defeat anew, more powerful than before.

* * *

Top of the horseshoe now. The passage is guarded by an Air Elemental and a pair of mephits.

I was actually slightly disappointed by the Haven. I was expecting a real deathtrap of a dungeon, a maze full of deadly traps and terrible monsters, something outta the dreams of Gary Gygax. Something in the vein of Durlag's Tower, or the Tomb of Praecor Loth.

The Tomb of Praecor Loth was one of the last worlds in Ultima Underworld 2, a classic FPRPG. A vast underground structure, it was filled to the brim with fireball traps, golem guardians, pressure plate puzzles, and so on. The third floor in particular was just huge, and there were no tricks, no gimmicks; just one big maze, designed to kill. That's what I was expecting from Shandra's descriptions of the Haven - something designed to keep people out.

In reality the Haven is pretty simple and straightforward, but the interactions with the fiends make up for it.

* * *

: Then I'll get his attention... somehow.
: Oh, you could try. But I am certain his energies will soon be consumed with murdering your friends.
: And after that, he will no doubt crush you beneath his heel as an afterthought. A shame, I've rather enjoyed our brief time together.
: He's not stopping them, and he's not going to get me.
: And your plan?
: I'll think of something.

* * *

Oh, brother.

: Oh by the gods, not this idiot again.
: How dare you speak to Zaxis that way! Zaxis will smear you into a bloody paste with his hands, he will tear y-
: Look, as amusing as your whole "Zaxis this" and "Zaxis that" thing is, that's not the proper way you should talk to people.

Poor old Zaxis.

It really should have been Zaxis sent after Lord Tavorick, not that Qaggoth-yeg or whoever. Zaxis is the kind of demon you could really love to hate.

: You just wait. The Master will come and crush you, then give your remains to Zaxis to feast on.
: It's nice to see you too.
: Were Zaxis not trapped here, Zaxis would soon be tasting strips of your flesh in the bowels of the Abyss.
: Unlikely. However, you will be opening the door to the laboratory for me.

Hahaha, yeah, we might have been able to successfully persuade Zaxis into killing himself before, but we won't be so lucky second time around.

: The Master will destroy you when he arrives. He will let you run, but when he grows bored of you, he will crush you beneath his heel.

Zaxis summons three hezrou to smash us into pieces.

It's a rough fight, because hezrou stench reduces our physical stats and they're tough enough as it is.

It gets worse when an Iron Golem overhears the noise from next door and comes wandering past, though. Unpictured: me controlling Qara as the sole survivor, trying to kill the last hezrou while staying out of reach.

I take back what I said about the Haven being easy.

* * *

: Is there any way to reach your master?
: No... not for you. And what would you say if you could?
: Tell him to surrender, let my friends alone.
: You are here with friends? Oh, you might have a better chance of getting them to listen than our master.
: Is there a way to speak to them?

: Simply think of them... perhaps you can speak to them, but I do not know how long the connection will hold.

: Shandra?
: This place is sealed by demons... and devils. But listen... they say that their lord is unbeatable.
: Stay where you are, we're going to try to get to you.
: I don't think we can get to each other yet - I've tried, this place is... difficult to figure out.
: Be careful. I don't think they were lying about this.

* * *

The pattern of fiends along the horseshoe alternates between the two kinds. Devil, demon, devil, demon...

Individual fiends are aligned against each other. Koraboros the pit fiend is opposite to Baalbisan the balor. Wordy Mephasm stands against Zaxis the taciturn hezrou.

: It's a pit fiend. I can never figure these guys out... they're always plotting something.
: So, mortal, what can I do for you?
: What do you know about the Master?
: Powerful, ruthless, unstoppable. He looks human, but I suspect he's much, much more. That is all I will say about him.

Between this and what the fiends said to Shandra, I have a bad feeling about the Warlock.

: I guess I'll find out how "unstoppable" he is, but first you have to help open a portal to the laboratory for me.
: Ah, a plot to strike at the Master, is it? Bold. Suicidal, but bold.

Pit fiends are the top of the chain for devils. Smart, cunning, incredibly patient... and brutal in a fight, too. They are generals, schemers, plotters, tempters-in-chief.

: Not directly, no. This is a more... personal matter.
: There is an imp who serves as my eyes and ears in this place. I've not seen him for some time, and I want you to locate him and see that he is able to return to me.
: What if he's dead?
: He lives, that much I know, for I can still feel his presence. It's faint, distant, so I suspect he's trapped somewhere in the Haven.
: I'll be back when I've found him.

We head down a side corridor and find Koraboros' imp about two rooms away. Lazy bastard.

The book is cursed - doubly so. Not only is it written in a dead language, but the words of power do the opposite of what they say. "Tilo ut lon" is Imprison, but actually frees the imp of his bondage.

We can tear the pages out and use them as spell scrolls, though it's not strictly necessary.

In return, Koraboras opens his portal. Two down, two to go.

Last fiend now. She's guarded by succubi.

: Watch out, she's a succubus... they bore easily.
: And the things that amuse them... well, we don't want to go there, trust me. Or at least I don't.
: Please, speak... and do keep it interesting, hmm?
: Who are you?

: Breeding grounds?
: Oh, yes, I am the mistress in charge of arrangements, and seductions, and the chase and the catch and the mating and the slaying. Very little escapes my eye, but here... my sight is limited.
: I have the power to trace heritages, blood lines, all along the great barbed tree that divides us all, from the most full-blooded of the lords to lowest half-breeds...
: A half-breed such as you, little one... my, I can even see from the slope of your horns and the curve of your tail the twisting path of your breeding. Such an odd combination... what was its purpose, I wonder?
: Like I care.

: There is a smell in the air, a common blood. I suspect one of your ancestors is here, half-breed - a distant father, maybe? But who knows?

How interesting.

Neeshka's ancestry isn't hugely important, but it's a recurring theme that pops up whenever we encounter fiends.

Anyway, enough about Neeshka.

: Oh, but wait... look at this. A male vessel, with a soul so much like a dagger that barely keeps itself in its sheath...
: What back does that dagger seek, I wonder?

Hur hur hur oh sorry I thought she was making a double entendre.

: Oh, if this form displeases you, perhaps taking the form of your noble leader would stir that heart of yours.
: If you think that'll get a rise out of me, you're wrong.
: Such restrained anger. You are wasted on the open road, scout... when you could be keeping a woman's bed warm.

Again we get another romance conversation. Like Hezebel, there are equivalents for Casavir and Elanee.

And for Sand, Khelgar and Grobnar, believe it or not.


: Oh, but wait... look at this. You have brought something of interest, after all.
: {Curious, seductive - targetting some weak males in the party} Now, who is this small one?
: {Squeaks, a really hot chick just asked who he was} Me?
: {Coughs, grunts} I think she was talking to me.
: {Interjecting} No, no, it was me. Stand back, I am ready to face her charms.
: {Protesting} Oh no no no, clearly she was addressing me. She did say "small one." And I am clearly the smallest one here.
: {Accusing} You were hunching! When you don't hunch, you're taller than me.
: It is really a matter of perspective. To her, we must all seem small, but I was most likely the first one she saw.
: Please, my dears, no need to argue. You, little one, what's your name?
: {A little louder, blustery} Why, I'm Grobnar Gnomehands!
: {In a cutesy voice, like talking to a baby} Why of cooooourse you are. And why are your hands called that?
: {Smiles, confused, but answering honestly like an idiot.} Why, because I'm a gnome! With hands!
: My, I bet you're quite the charmer with the females of your species.
: {Shucks, looks down, a little downcast} Well... I... haven't really had time to settle down... really, traveling and exploring's the only life for me!
: {Mock sympathy} Oh, that's such a shame. Such a cute little soul deserves a kiss - step closer, just ignore the little circle on the floor.
: {Smiles, eager} Sounds safe enough to me!
: Snap out of it. It's a trick.
: {Pouts} Oh, you spoil all my fun. {Seductive, knowing} And his. I would have given him back to you, you know... partly.

I'm a little disappointed they didn't voice-act this sequence.

: Why don't you pick on me, demon? I'm the one in charge.
: You had such potential. Servants!

Blooden's succubi don't last very long.

Although she doesn't seem to mind.

: I have no idea why Koraboras stopped attacking me. I would ask him myself, but I'm trapped in this circle, and his hounds kill my messengers on sight...
: What do you want me to do?
: Why don't you go to see Koraboras and convince him to send another pack of his hounds against me?
: I'm not sure I like this idea.

Well, if it gets us into the laboratory...

Because we've already rescued his imp, Koraboras is willing to help us (with some prodding).

Devils are Lawful Evil so we'll be siding with the hellhounds. Succubi are more annoying to fight but the less we have to do with Blooden, the better.

Blooden rewards us with a portal. That's three, one more required.

: One last thing... you could bring me much pleasure by tormenting the hezrou imprisoned here. I will gladly provide you with her True Name.
: Wait... you mean Zaxis? He's a she?
: Indeed! She used to be a maralith, but she just wasn't... cut out for it. Just look at her progeny, that pathetic balor Baalbisan.

Well, well, well. Three birds with one stone.

True Names are the, well, true names of a creature - names which describe the essence of a person, that remain constant even when you cloak yourself in aliases. Everyone has one, though mortals generally don't know theirs, and knowing the True Name of another grants you control over them. This is especially important when dealing with fiends, since without the use of a True Name they tend to prove uncooperative.

Headed back along the horseshoe. We compel Zaxis to help us with... her... True Name.

: No! How could you have learned Zaxis' true name?
: How can Zaxis serve you... Master?
: I command you to stop referring to yourself in the third person.
: Finally!
: Zaxis... does not understand. Who is this "third person?"
: Oh, well. I command you to help open the portal.

As you see, we could have Bluffed a name for Hezebel as well as Taunted it out of Baalbisan, but this route is better. It also requires no skill checks.

We didn't need Hezebel's help, since we already have four, but whatever.

We can enter the laboratory via any of the fiends' portals.

Unfortunately, on entry, an alarm rings out.

: You think whoever set that alarm could have made it a little quieter.

Oh shit.