The Let's Play Archive

Neverwinter Nights 2

by Lt. Danger

Part 71: Act Three Chapter Seven - I Backstab The Dragon

Our last chance for an alliance is the Ironfist Clan.

We liberated their stronghold from bugbears back in Act 1. Let's hope we get a warmer welcome this time around.

So far so good!

: And you have brought the ones that helped us with those bugbear pests.
: Good to see you as well, Khayar, glad to see you standing guard rather than in a cage, like we saw you last.
: Ha! Again, thank you, Captain, for the help. Since you left, many of our halls have been uncovered.

Khelgar's the required companion for these quests, much like Grobnar for the Wendersnaven and Elanee for the Circle.

: Suits us, doesn't it? Good stonework, solid foundation... everything about it says Ironfist, it does.
: Anyway, we'd love to see the old halls, but we're here on business - there's a war brewing, and all the Ironfists need to march, yesterday.
: Only Keros can make that decision.
: Eh? So Keros finally got here, did he? Where is he?

That's not how I would put it.

: True enough - but Keros is one hard rock to crack. He also doesn't hear too good.
: He hates you, Khelgar.
: Well, yes, that's probably true. Was hoping he'd gotten over that.

Why am I not surprised?

Stronghold cleans up pretty good, don't it?


: Let me in? I'm an Ironfist, it's my right.
: An Ironfist is many things, but he is not a deserter.
: He does not leave his clan when they need him most to chase after personal glory.
: Khelgar helped liberate this hold.

Ah, nuts.

I thought we'd sorted this out ages ago. Yes, Khelgar got a bit carried away and hurt his family by going to Neverwinter, but Khelgar realised his mistake and we helped Khulmar find this stronghold and everyone is friends again now.


: This isn't just an Ironfist matter - the King of Shadows, he threatens us all, and we need to band together if we want to have a chance!
: You clearly have no idea how much danger your people are in.
: Ah, yes. And what are we supposed to do about this "threat?"
: Ally with Neverwinter, of course, march with us on the dead streaming out of the Mere!
: Ally with Neverwinter?! Neverwinter... Ha!
: Do you know what we uncovered after you left, Khelgar?
: We found libraries, chronicles of our past deeds. We, as true Ironfists, stayed to learn about our past.
: These halls weren't always decayed and barren. Once this hold stood proudly under the rule of Torim Ironfist himself.

: Maybe you'd prefer it if I ranted endlessly along with you?
: King Loudram, my ancestor, led the charge and died gloriously in battle that day.
: Do not talk to me about allies. The Ironfists have remained strong by themselves.
: The King of Shadows will not stop with just Neverwinter.

He's got a point. This is what you get if you allow fantasy-bad-guy-inflation to run amok. Now no one bothers getting out of bed for anything less than the total destruction of the multiverse.

: On behalf of Neverwinter, I pledge our support to the Ironfists.
: Mere words. The Ironfists have received pledges in the past, and they were no more than lies with smiles.
: How can we prove ourselves to you?

Hmm, tall order. Can't I just make a Diplomacy check instead?

: Keros, I wouldn't be here if I didn't think the Clan was at stake.
: Do not speak to me as if you're one of us. I value your opinion less than that of the strangers you follow.
: I am one of you! I am an Ironfist, and you will hear me, damn you!

Don't worry, we'll bring him around to our way of thinking. I mean, it's in our journal, so there has to be something we can do.

See what I mean?

: Have you come to add more words, then? It seems my name is already bloodied enough.
: No, I don't think you betrayed us. I... think you have proven your worth on your travels.
: But Keros is our leader, and the clan will unite under no other.
: How can we gain the clan's support?
: Let Torim be your voice.

There's a long story behind this, and Khulmar's slow in the telling of it, so I'll summarise:

A long, long, long time ago, Torim and his family left their old clanhold to found the Ironfists in the Sword Mountains. This stronghold - the one we're in - was the first Ironfist stronghold.

The fire giants who lived in the Sword Mountains didn't like that one bit. They stomped up to the stronghold and demanded tribute of the dwarves. Undaunted, Torim issued a challenge to the giants: if any of them could lift his little hammer off the ground, the dwarves would give them the mountain... but if they couldn't, then the mountain would belong to the dwarves.

Laughing, the giants accepted the challenge, only to discover that they could not lift Torim's hammer. They refused to accept such an outcome and threatened to storm the Ironfist stronghold anyway - but in the meantime, the Ironfists had gathered their forces and encircled the giants.

And Torim leant over and casually picked up the hammer.

The giants fled.

We first heard about Torim's hammer when we first recovered the Gauntlets of Ironfist. The Gauntlets were a part of a set of Ironfist artifacts, with the Hammer of Ironfist being the most famous.

: What? The hammer's been recovered?
: Come and see.

: It's part of our history, a legend... the one who can lift the hammer is the one who should lead the Ironfist clan.
: You see, Torim had a belt of great strength. With his gauntlets and this belt, he was able to use the hammer when not even a giant could lift it.

Khulmar will give you the Gauntlets if you didn't pick them up previously.

In fact, if you didn't do the Ironfist stronghold quest in Act 1, the game will just gloss over it entirely. Everyone assumes that because Khelgar's travelling with the Knight-Captain of Neverwinter, then he must have sorted himself out and is now a respectable dwarf.

Even if we're Lawful Evil, I know.

: This isn't all we've uncovered. As Keros mentioned, the old records here tell us of a long conflict that ended with the loss of this hold.
: We don't know what happened, but the Ironfists were betrayed hundreds of years later. The Belt of Ironfist was stolen and delivered to a clan of fire giants.
: What? Delivered to the giants?

Aha. I get it.

Recovering the Belt of Ironfist will put us in good graces with Keros. Then he'll listen to our proposal of an alliance.

And all we have to do is kill some giants.

How hard can it be?

* * *

Really fucking easy, as it turns out. The giants go down in one round for Khelgar and Construct, and the same for Calliope if she gets a full round of Sneak Attacks off.

Obsidian must have gotten confused because I don't remember statistics for paper giants appearing in the Monster Manual.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Mount Galardrym's a stonking huge area: a big old mountain with lots of smoking lava pits, winding paths, and angry, angry fire giants.

I'd be angry too if I had such obvious texture-mirroring.

The fire giants are strong but incredibly fragile. Calliope, Qara and Construct make absolute mincemeat out of them.

Be warned: we are being lulled into a false sense of security.

There are a couple of things of note on the mountain: prisoners to free for experience and ore nodes to pick up for the Keep minigame. There's enough ore here to finish fully upgrading our Greycloaks' armour and weapons.

The fire giant lair is at the very summit of the mountain.

: Is this some sort of joke? You came all the way here, to my seat atop these peaks, for what?
: To take back what you stole from my people, the Ironfists, that's what!
: We're looking for the Belt of Ironfist.

As though we needed the clarification.

: The Belt? Ah, you mean the one I'm wearing right now?

: It doesn't belong to you, you overgrown fire-eating oafs - it's only to be worn by true Ironfists.
: Ah, the Ironfists. You always were a pathetic clan, hiding behind your gates in the earth.
: We still tell stories about your efforts to our children. About the little dwarves, tumbling down our mountains like pebbles.
: Keep this up and you'll go for a dive.
: Is that so? Do you know how we got your precious Belt?
: That's an easy one. You stole it.

Oooooh boy.

: What nonsense is this? We don't have time for your lies.
: He came to us and gave us the Belt. Begged us to end the fighting and lie for him.
: Loudram never died on this mountain, dwarf. He pretended to lead his men into battle. He let them die, while he fled.
: That's an Ironfist king you're talking about - he wouldn't do something like that, it's not in our blood.
: Don't let him get to you, Khelgar. Loudram has nothing to do with why we're here.

You're damn right it doesn't matter to us.

As you've guessed, this is Khelgar's side-quest again, revamped: we've got to recover an Ironfist artifact from some enemies and, in so doing, Khelgar learns a Valuable Lesson.

: Believe what you want. This one did. He was tired of keeping your raggety clan together and fled like a coward.
: We have known, for many years, that the Ironfist clan is strong in name only.
: That does it. I'm not letting them say another word.
: Hold, hold little Ironfist. Let's be fair.

Oh snap!

Not so snap.

* * *

The red dragon lair is around the other side of the mountain. It's a long, boring trek, especially since we killed all the giants along the way the first time through.

There's some nice cinematography going on in this area. We've seen tricks like this before, in some of the set-pieces Obsidian is so fond of: the trial, Ammon Jerro's Haven.

Mount Galardrym's the first dungeon/wilderness-type area that uses custom camera angles to any great effect. There's no plot-twists or grand reveals either, just some nice panning of the mountain landscape and scary shots of the fire giant chieftain. You can't really see it in screenshots, unfortunately.

Two things:

1) Nice hoard.

2) Big dragon.

: I was hoping for guests. This lonely crag does little to satisfy my appetite.
: So what is it, this time? Did I destroy your village? Devour your favourite sheep?
: Let's not be hasty. We have no quarrel with you, dragon.
: I think you misunderstand me. I'm savoring the moment precisely because we have no quarrel. Yet.

This is a good dragon encounter. Too often dragons are far too small, far too stupid, far too weak and far too poor. Tholapsyx, however, has brawn, brains, beauty and the hoard to match it.

She's also tough as all hell - if you choose to fight her.

: Our fight today is with the fire giants, not you.
: Really?
: Perhaps I shouldn't dispose of you just yet.
: What do you want with the fire giants?
: Killing fire giants is one of our hobbies, you might say.

: Why do you want them dead?
: These brutes dared to come to my lair and steal from my hoard. Quite absurd, I thought.
: I tracked them recently to this side of the mountain, but they have a fondness for breeding that I did not expect. Their numbers are too great.

Do we really have a choice?

I'm not sure who we're lying to at this juncture.

Anyway, back to the fire giant camp.

: Not yet.
: You are a fool to return empty-handed. Leave now and finish your task, or we will return you to your earth quickly.


The crummy camera positioning shouldn't distract you from the fact that we just double-crossed both parties in this endearing mountain-top feud.

It's a fun, messy fight - tons of fire giants running around, attacking everyone; Tholapsyx breathing fire all over the place; and us in the middle of it all, stabbing wildly (and getting stabbed back).

The fire giants aren't much trouble - the dragon is what you have to worry about. Ideally you can finish her off before she runs out of giants to eat. Unfortunately those same distracting giants tend to run over and attack your casters in the middle of their spells - and though Calliope, Khelgar and Construct have nothing to worry about from the giants, Qara and Zhjaeve definitely do.


It's the second-easiest way to take care of things. The easiest way is just to fight all the fire giants, straight off - you never have to even see Tholapsyx if you don't want to.

Of course, if you promise to kill the giants for her and are foolish enough to let her live, she turns on you if you don't pass a Diplomacy check.

The hardest way is to fight Tholapsyx alone. It's probably the hardest fight in the game, harder even than the King of Shadows.

Although, as you can see, I didn't have much trouble. Barely even a scratch.

Dragons are tough opponents: high hitpoints, high strength, good saves, Colossal size, spell-casting ability, powerful breath weapons. Tholapsyx' firebreath does something in the region of 130 damage, insta-killing Qara and severely inconveniencing Calliope and Zhjaeve.

This is bad, because Qara (and Sand) are key to winning the Tholapsyx fight. Melee won't even touch most dragons (not even the massively overpowered Construct), so spells are your only option - and this requires you to 'prep' the target using debuffs to remove all those Spell Barriers and Stoneskins that dragons like to put on before a fight.

Then, once that's done, spam Isaac's Greater Missile Storm until she keels over. Saves won't help, nor will elemental resistances - nothing stops 20 missiles of 2d6 magic damage, especially when you can cast as many as Qara can in a day.

The sad thing is that even after you've slain the dragon for the fire giants, they turn on you anyway - and no checks this time. Not that you should need them (I mean who seriously tries to kill a dragonslayer??)

Anyway, we grab the belt off the king's corpse.

We also free Caelryna Seerar, drow merchant. We then recruit her for Crossroad Keep - she can share a shop with Deekin.

Caelryna has some nice rogue-orientated items for sale - poisons, daggers, and so on. We need her for something else entirely, though.

And we claim the dragon's hoard. Very nice.

We can't pick up all that gold (there's about 200k there) but we can loot the chests for magic items and gems. We'll send the Greycloaks out to recover it later.

When we get back to Crossroad Keep, the amount we get from the hoard is modified by Land Security (in case raiders come along and attack the caravan) and Greycloak Civility (in case any of them try to pocket some of it). Both variables are really high for us, so we get the full amount!

: I don't know much about your King Loudram.

Very diplomatic, Calliope.

: Well, I don't know how much I truly know, either.
: You see, there was always one part of the histories that didn't ring true concerning Loudram - it's one of the few tales I remember.
: How he was able to "defeat" the giants, yet they still held the mountain as if nothing had happened... or if the giants had won.
: So you think it might be true?
: Well, that's what eats at me the most.
: I remember that I wanted to be like Loudram, ready to take the battle to the enemy, fight huge numbers and emerge on top of the pile.

I think Khelgar's learning the wrong lesson from this. Loudram's failing wasn't that he was headstrong like Khelgar is, but that he was a coward who sold out the Ironfists when things got rough. And then the Ironfist clan covered it all up, to protect their sainted 'honour'.

What Khelgar needs to learn is that his clan isn't always right: though he did them a wrong by running off to become a monk, that doesn't excuse them from ever being wrong either.

And that maybe heroes aren't all they're cracked up to be.

Maybe it's just that Obsidian isn't being very clear about this. The legend of King Loudram has literally only just appeared in this quest, and it's had to share time with the legend of Torim Ironfist, who's an entirely different dwarf altogether.

: Searching for glory may be a mistake, but you are not Loudram, Khelgar.
: It means a lot for me to hear you say that. It does, I thank you.

* * *

: Guards! Remove this deserter from my sight.
: We are here to take Torim's Challenge.
: You think you can lift the Hammer? Only he who wears the Belt of Ironfist can do so, and it has long been lost.
: Actually, it's quite snug around my waist at the moment. Can't quite see it over the gut fully, but it's there.
: Guards, throw this traitor out! We have no use for your lies.
: So it comes down to this - you're going to refuse me the right of rule? After all your claims of devotion to the Ironfist Clan?!

* * *

: Hope I don't make a fool out of myself with this...
: Too late for that, I can't believe I went along with this.
: Glad to see someone has some faith for the both of us. Here goes.

This quest would be better if it more closely followed the original Torim legend. There, dwarves used their superior sense and fortitude to outwit the giants and defeat them in an honest fight.

In the Mount Galardrym quest, we beat up some giants and some hellhounds and there was a dragon and then we found the Belt.

: This can't be. How can an impudent, brash outcast like th-
: It is not your place to question, Keros. Khelgar has proven himself through his actions.
: Keros, this is our way. Khelgar has proven himself and reunited our greatest artifacts. He has earned our allegiance.

So I suppose what really ought to be happening now is a regiment of Greycloaks surrounding the Ironfist stronghold and forcing them to sign a treaty of alliance at swordpoint.

That'd be a legend worthy of Torim.

: Look, I came here with a message and you need to hear it. This King of Shadows coming out of the Mere of Dead Men - he's a threat to us all, no matter how deep we dig in.
: We have to stand with Neverwinter - it's what's best for everyone, and we have to fight, there's no sitting this one out.
: What must we do?
: Keros here can organize you - he's done a fine job, and I don't see any reason he should stop.
: I... it shall be done.

Khelgar's now the King of the Ironfists, apparently - well, he's done well for himself, at any rate.

And he now has the Hammer of Ironfist: a pretty potent weapon, lots of plusses to hit and damage, and hitting people charges up a special lightning power to really call down the thunder. Very nice... at least, if you kept Khelgar a Fighter and gave him feats in Warhammer, completely opposite of everything the game tells you to do.

* * *

Post-script: a different conversation appears if you turned Khelgar into a Monk.


: {Surprised, then calm} I... look, all of you, rise. I don't want you to kneel to me - show respect through your actions and wisdom, not through bending your knee.
: I... I have traveled far on my journey along the Sword Coast, and learned much about what is just and what is right - and what it means to truly fight for something.
: {A little quiet} That strength comes from inside.
: {Show camera on player} All it took was someone to show me.
: {To Keros} You say that Neverwinter did not aid you in the past - that may be true. But, if you consider such actions shameful, does that give us cause to act the same?
: {Quiet, shamed} We will stand with Neverwinter. You speak true.
: {Curious, hopeful - Khelgar is like a beacon of hope here} What happens now? Khelgar, will you lead us?
: No.
: You need one who has fought tirelessly to aid the Clan, strengthened it, and I think there is still much we can learn from Keros... and his leadership.
: {Gracious, showing a little wisdom here} You were right, Keros, about my leaving - and it has taken me some time to see the truth of things, and what is right.
: I want you to lead the clan to Crossroad Keep. There, the Ironfists will carve their name in history, and see a great foe brought down by Neverwinter and dwarves, standing side by side.
: {Humble} I... I will do so.
: Follow his lead, all of you, and prepare for travel to Crossroad Keep. I will meet you there, and when the King of Shadows comes...
: ...then we shall show him the strength of two peoples united, and teach him the truth of fighting for what one believes in.

I prefer the Fighter dialogue, myself - fitting, really, because Khelgar's a better Fighter than he is a Monk. No matter.