Part 74: Act Three Chapter Ten - Weapon Of ChoiceSo we had a slight upset last update. No biggie.
The exact item Mephasm takes from you in exchange for his stat-boost varies from class to class. Most characters will lose their primary weapon - the weapon that they hold in their right hand. However, Monks don't (really) use weapons, so they lose whatever's in their gauntlets slot (which is what NWN2 uses for Monk 'weaponry'). In the case of Wizards and Sorcerers (who prefer to use their brains over their brawn) Mephasm takes their clothing, i.e. any nice magical robes that they might be wearing.
In a way, we've actually come up on top. Mephasm will only take one weapon, so as a dual-wielder we keep our off-hand weapon - it's a much bigger price to pay if you only use two-handers or a sword-and-shield. And new weapons are easy to come by, while unique gauntlets and robes are slightly more difficult to acquire. In fact, we can forge a new dagger that'll be better than anything we could buy in the OC - no such recourse for Monk bracers or Wizard robes.
You can trick Mephasm into taking a dud weapon, of course. The way the game measures it is that it'll check what you're wielding each time you enter the main Crossroad Keep courtyard. Wield something more than three times and that becomes your designated 'bargaining chip'... so, with planning, you can fob Mephasm off with a cheap crappy dagger simply by equipping it every time you enter the Keep.
But that's no fun. We gave Mephasm our Ice Talon dagger and now we're going to replace it via the crafting system.
* * *
There's quite a few parts to the crafting system, depending on what you want to do. As we saw last update, the crafting system can be used to create special one-off plot items like the infernal foci.
We can also use it to create new equipment for ourselves. By that I mean new armour, new weapons and new accessories. We can start from the very bottom, forging a weapon from mineral ingots, all the way up to enchanting it with powerful spells and buffs.
It's best to divide things into two: non-magical crafting and magical crafting.
Non-magical crafting allows you to create all of the base weapons and armour in the game. It's a skill-based check - i.e. it requires ranks in Craft Armour, Craft Weapon, Craft Trap or Craft Alchemy.
It's very simple - you put a mold and either leather, wood or metal ingots on a blacksmith's bench and use a special smithing hammer to turn the ingredients into an item. In the picture above, Khelgar turns a dagger mold and a Cold Iron ingot into...
...a Cold Iron dagger.
The skill ranks necessary for crafting items are very low: the most you'll need is 8 ranks to make Full Plate armour or Exotic weaponry. That's very easy to obtain - but if you want to make items out of special materials, then you'll need more - stuff like Adamantine, Red Dragon Hide and Zalantar Wood all have additional skill rank requirements that are additional to the base item. So if you want a nice shiny suit of Red Dragon Full Plate, expect to need about thirty points in Craft Armor.
The ranks needed for special materials is consummate with their potency. Red Dragon Hide has tons of bonuses/resistances so it has a high skill requirement. Cold Iron is not particularly astounding so the skill requirement is relatively low (as is the number of ranks needed for making Simple weapons like daggers).
For my new set of daggers, I chose Alchemical Silver and Cold Iron, which are the two weaker kinds of special metal. Silver ignores the damage resistance of devils and shapeshifters, and the same for Cold Iron with demons and faeries; neither of these are particularly useful in the campaign. Adamantine and Darksteel are better in that they penetrate Construct and Stoneskin DR and do extra points of damage, but they also interfere with the second half of the crafting system.
The magical side of things is (as usual) far more extensive and much more powerful. Wizards, Clerics and other spellcasters can use their spells to enchant weapons with plusses to hit/damage, additonal elemental damage, special debuffs and other wonders.
Like non-magical crafting, there are recipes to follow which have ingredients; those ingredients are the weapon to enchant, a rare gemstone and one or more essences. Unlike non-magical crafting, skills aren't used (that much) - instead crafting requires specific Feats like Craft Wondrous Item and Craft Magic Arms & Armor, and certain recipes will require the caster be of a certain level for them to be successful.
Sometimes monsters will leave bits of themselves behind as loot (or they can be bought from certain merchants if you prefer). These pieces can be ground up into essences using a pestle and mortar and the Craft Alchemy skill.
There are four levels of essence: Faint, Weak, Glowing and Radiant, in ascending order of potency. There are five kinds of essence as well: the elemental four, plus Power. Essences of the same kind can be merged or divided at no cost to increase potency - two Faint essences make a Weak essence, two Weaks make a Glowing, and so on. Essences can't be mixed between types.
Each monster ingredient will give out a different essence(s). Powerful monsters give out more valuable essences, but require more Craft Alchemy skill to utilise.
In turn, powerful essences can be used in more powerful recipes. A +1 recipe may only require a Faint Power Essence; a +5 recipe will need Glowing essences at the very least.
There are a ton of different recipes, which can be found piecemeal in books ingame or all at once on the Internet. Some recipes are for enchanting weapons, others for armour or creating accessories.
Weapon enchantments are the most important to know, simply for the reason that some of them are quite rubbish.
All right, so that didn't stop me from choosing some non-optimal enchantments, but there's a certain look I'm going for.
Good enchantments are stuff like +5 hit/damage (naturally) and also the elemental enchantments. +1d6 damage of a type of your choice is great because very few enemies in NWN2 have elemental resistances - maybe dragons and some fiends, but not much else. Fire is especially recommended for Mummy-killing.
Other enchantments are situation-dependent. Keen is good as it doubles the chance of a Critical Hit - but is redundant if you have Improved Critical Feats. Vampiric enchants will give you health every time you strike an enemy - but they are the most expensive to create.
The bad ones are debuffs. Poison and Disruption sound useful until you realise that a Difficulty Check of 14 is very low for high-level play; like Death spells, the enemies that you want to use Disruption on will just save against it while enemies that you can use it on are so weak you can just kill them normally anyway. The Massive Criticals enchantment promises to do extra Fire damage on a Critical Hit, but was and may still be bugged so caveat emptor.
You can only have three enchantments on a weapon, and that includes the plus to hit/damage (which is fairly essential at this stage). Also, the Adamantine and Darksteel bonuses given as part of a weapon also count as a enchantment, so you will only have two enchantments to apply to those weapons.
These are the weapons I chose, based partly on suggestions from the thread and partly on style:
These will give us good chances to hit, penetration versus Damage Resistance, a chance to do good criticals with one and a source of healing in combat with the other, and an extra 1d6 of damage per strike - of which we get six or so a round. The extra power against fiends is more for character than anything else.
Calliope's Critical Analysis Alchemical Silver +5 Hit/Damage Keen +1d6 Fire Damage Calliope's Biting Retort Cold Iron +5 Hit/Damage +5 Life Stealing +1d6 Acid Damage
We could have chosen to make them Holy weapons - to do +2d6 against creatures that are Evil, or Chaotic, or Lawful, or Good. Choosing +2d6 vs. Evil would have been the best, cheesy option, but I couldn't justify Lawful Evil Calliope wielding a Holy weapon. There's no prohibition or anything, just my own personal sense of honour (and lack of room for more enchantments).
Unfortunately they do look a bit like airport landing beacons but we'll just have to cope, that's all.
Oh, what's that? 28 Dexterity?
Yeah, I made a few accessories as well. Crafting accessories is more rigid than weapon or armor crafting - instead of applying an enchantment to an item, you create the item as a specific thing in and of itself. So, the recipe is to create a Belt of Agility +8, not apply a +8 Dexterity bonus to any old belt you have.
That's the interesting thing about weapon/armour enchantment - although you can't apply interesting buffs like stat boosts or extra Feats, you can apply or upgrade the usual buffs to pre-existing weapons with those unique abilities, provided they have less than three enchantments already (since three is the max). So Namarra, a +1 rapier with a nice Sleep debuff, could be upgraded to +4 or +5, then given Keen or extra elemental damage and become a fairly decent late-game weapon. Although that was a bad example because stuns don't work against undead, so forget I said that.
Anyway, I made myself a Belt of Agility, Scarab of Greater Protection (debuff immunity), Boots of Striding (Constitution +6) and Bracers of Armor (+8), which is why I'm now looking rather spiffy in the stats department. The only thing I'm missing is an Amulet of Natural Armor +5; Sand and Zhjaeve can craft almost every item in the game between them apart from Natural Armor, because the enchantment requires Barkskin which is a Druid spell and Elanee is dead.
Craftable items way outweigh anything you can find as loot or from merchants in the OC, but you'll only make a few truly excellent items: the best recipes require gems like Blue Diamonds, Beljurils and King's Tears, which are correspondingly rare.
* * *
Act 1 was like a journey, a long slog to get to the next objective (which was always 'over there' somewhere). Act 2 was like a blender, taking all of the characters we'd met and chopping most of them up into fine mist.
Act 3's like getting up in the morning before going to work. You've got to wash, dress, make breakfast, all in preparation for starting the day.
We're maybe two-thirds ready to face the King of Shadows. We've made our alliances, gotten the True Names and forged two new daggers to use. There's more yet to do - but we've also got two very important weapons yet to examine.
: Perhaps that is a question you should ask yourself, since your motivation in all of this has been unclear from the start.
: Unclear? You're one to talk.
: Really? Then let us speak plainly on this.
: Does he threaten you specifically? Do you feel that the Sword Coast, cast beneath shadow, would be an unwelcome thing, all life turned to death and ghosts?
We could have asked this question when Ammon first joined the party, at the end of Act 2.
There isn't really a wrong answer here. You can say you're only doing it to protect yourself and Ammon will say "At least I know you're in this for sure." Going mad with power or failing the Bluff are the only two options that'll upset him.
: I think you will find we are of the same opinion on the matter, though I suspect our methods differ.
: Despite whatever onus has been placed on my actions, desperate measures were required to stop him the first time, and will be again. More can be saved as a result, and that is all that matters now.
: So for the "greater good?"
: Yes. An unpopular idea - for anyone who does not truly see the threat to this plane.
Probably one of the few reasonable Evil dialogue options in the game.
: That is the first piece of wisdom I have encountered from someone in Neverwinter's service for some time.
Ammon Jerro and Zhjaeve are the two main companions for Act 3. Once we've gotten through the final companion subplots, all that's left is defeating the King of Shadows - Ammon and Zhjaeve's business.
They also serve as signposts and quest-givers for the final phases of the game. It's no longer appropriate for us (as landowners and high-level adventurers) to go running to Nasher every time we need a new quest. Ammon and Zhjaeve are basically Obsidian's way of letting us feel like we're making our own decisions and doing our own thing when we personally don't actually know a damn thing about what to do next.
But I don't get why they have to be so catty about it?
: There is blindness in such things.
: She has her uses, as do you.
: Yes, that is true. She has insights that we may not, and if nothing else, is an extra target for those who seek to harm us.
: We need allies who understand our enemy, yet her people do nothing. The people of Faerûn are ignorant of the King of Shadows, yes, but her people are not.
These sound like excuses. We can explain why this is to Ammon, but it won't change his feelings toward the githzerai.
We'll need to talk to Zhjaeve first, though.
: Gith herself held the same belief. She was willing to sacrifice the reason we fought our masters to fuel her hatred, and her lust for revenge.
: What does one's purpose matter if it becomes that which you fight against? It is a question that Jerro must ask, before to the Lower Planes he goes.
: Do you hate him for stealing the Blade of Gith?
At least Zhjaeve is easy to figure out. She doesn't like Ammon because he's like Gith and the githyanki (and, by extension, unlike Zerthimon and the githzerai) - hasty, short-tempered, blunt-fisted.
: What I do not know is how he obtained the blade - its location has been lost since the time my people split from the githyanki.
: It has taken us lifetimes of failures, without word of its presence. I would know how Ammon Jerro came by it.
: And what else he knows of the one who first held it.
: Yes. She took it with her on a pilgrimage to the Queen of Dragons, to secure an alliance for her people, the githyanki. She never returned, but the blade was last with her.
: How Jerro came to hold it is something I would know.
: I wanted to ask you more about the githzerai.
We haven't actually asked her anything yet, but we'll save it for another time.
: If it is your will that you would know more, narrow your question, and I shall answer.
This is what Ammon wanted to know.
: If my people moved against the King of Shadows, know the conflict would be over, and it would end in the destruction of all our peoples - yours, the githzerai, and githyanki.
: What? Why?
: If we entered this conflict, the githyanki would turn upon us - and with his opposition divided, the King of Shadows would destroy us both.
: That makes no sense. The githyanki and githzerai have a common enemy.
: Whatever hatred exists between the githyanki and the King of Shadows is a dim flame to the hatred the githyanki bear my people.
: It is not a thing of reason. Know the githyanki will not listen. And know that neither will my people.
: Why do you think I can save us?
: I have known many heroes before they knew themselves.
Obviously Zhjaeve never knew all of these characters. These are figures from githzerai myth and legend (and one from an old Black Isle RPG, Planescape: Torment).
: So when you ask if I think you can save us all, know that I have seen others with your will move the planes themselves and turn aside war. Trust this. Trust yourself, and even the King of Shadows will fall.
"Zhajeve" I mean jesus
Act 3 is riddled with these silly typoes. "Illefarn guardian" "Sword of the Gith" "Shadow Reaver/shadow reaver" and so on. Be warned: we are soon to enter the "rushed for release" zone.
: Among my people, we hold belief, the ability to focus one's will, as a powerful thing.
: It is said that sometimes belief can stave off death. And if that is possible, I think belief in you is not so unlikely.
: I must believe you can defeat the King of Shadows. And I believe that more strongly than any who walk upon your plane.
I want Elanee back.
Nah, just kidding.
We pass the information along to Ammon.
(Except that, once again, it's a one-off conversation, so if you didn't know beforehand you have to reload to get the answer.)
: If they were to enter the conflict, the githyanki would fight them instead of the King of Shadows.
We sound like a schoolgirl delivering a correct answer to the teacher.
: Ah... and again, I ignore politics in my haste to do battle.
: I had thought that perhaps because they were not tied to Faerun and the courts of Neverwinter, that perhaps the people of Gith would have a broader view.
: But I forget the unreasoning hatred of the githyanki - the fear of such a division in battle should the githzerai join the conflict... there is wisdom in such a decision.
Sucking up to Ammon shamelessly here.
: There is much lost with such a decision, but there is more to be lost if one does not make such a break with politics and laws and do what must be done.
It's a shame we couldn't get the Gith races to join the fight - although considering that the last time they tried to help, they kidnapped Shandra, burned down West Harbor and attempted to kill us... so maybe it's not such a huge loss.
As a Cleric, Zhjaeve has access to tons of powers to help combat the undead. Spells, turning, so on so forth.
Ammon's positively crippled in comparison. His general Warlock invocations will do all right against undead foes, the same as any other enemy, but some of his spell choices are bizarre (Beshadowed Blast?) and he doesn't have any other tricks up his sleeves.
Except one, of course.
: Now, each of us bears the necessary pieces of the ritual, and together, we are the only one who can harm him.
: Like it or not, we need each other if we are to succeed.
It's not as fruity as Zhjaeve's declaration of weird hero-love, but that's fine by me.
: What does your Ritual Power allow you to do?
It's Web of Purity, by the way. This power can paralyse undead foes (a very rare ability indeed) and can be used in conjunction with Cleansing Nova to spread the damage further: if one enemy in a Cleansing Nova is also caught in a Web of Purity, the Cleansing Nova damage will travel along the Web and affect all the other creatures trapped as well.
But I just think it's funny how Ammon changes so quickly from "We must work together to survive!" to "Hmm I'm gonna play this one close to my chest, thanks."
: If the githzerai did not already explain, the Ritual is designed to unmake the Illefarn Guardian... what the King of Shadows once was. And still is, in part.
: But the Guardian is a shell, a vessel for what the King of Shadows has become. When it drew life from the Shadow Weave long ago, it became something else... something greater.
: Still, its outer skin is still that of the Guardian. We must break that armor first - and once shattered, then we may strike at his essence.
: Once the shell is broken, how do we strike at his essence?
: The silver swords of the githyanki are the only weapons I have seen that have harmed the King of Shadows, and the Sword of Gith is the mightiest of such weapons.
: But the Sword of Gith is broken.
: That fact did not escape me. We will need to remake it if we are to suceed.
: Do you know how to reforge the sword?
: No, but it is something we must discover, and soon.
: I do not believe reforging the sword will require all the shards - but as I have never done such a thing, I do not know for certain.
This is Zhjaeve's other use as a character. Not only is she a mighty Cleric and wise quest-giver, she's also our go-to-gal for the Sword of Gith.
: Are you sure the sword of Gith can kill the King of Shadows?
Well that's good to know.
: So what are our chances of success?
* * *
We're not done assembling our weapons. The True Names we found, for example, are some of our most potent ones.
: Yes, I did.
: Excellent - I've had our scouts scouring the lands for the reavers.
Knowledge is the best weapon we have - and we have two incredibly knowledgeable sages living in our Keep.
No, not Grobnar and Aldanon.
Guyven is one, and he'll tell you a story if you let him:
: Long ago when I was but a leg-less tadpole - metaphorically, of course - Luskan was at war with Ruathym, something they do quite often.
: I was in Ruathym at the time, briefly living the pirate's life. The cities on the coast of Ruathym fell quickly to Luskan's surprise attack.
: But the Ruathym were cunning. Rather than trying to defend their cities, they just left them and headed inland where the great might of Luskan's navy couldn't reach them.
: The Luskans left their fine, purple-sailed qar-ships and traipsed straight throught the maze-like jungle to find the Ruathym.
: So we set up ambush after ambush, and each time the fool Lusks fell for 'em. After a few weeks, they were so disorganized and overextended in the jungle that Ruathym was able to take back their cities with ease.
: If the Luskans weren't so accustomed to straightforward sea battle, they might have tried a different tactic and won the land.
: No, well yes, but that's not the point of the story.
: The Luskans tried to march straight through the jungle, so it was easy for us to set up ambushes. We knew where they were coming from and we knew where they were headed to.
: If the Luskans had instead just circled round the island and come at us from a different side other than straight on, they would have avoided the ambushes.
: Right them, I see how this is going. I'll just lay it out straight for you.
: From what I noticed about the shadow reaver's movements, he is only expecting us to come at him from the north, because everything south of him is dead.
: So, if you take the long way through the wilderness, and loop around well behind him, I think you'll be able to get the drop on him, rather than him on you.
Phew. That was longwinded.
Why didn't he just say "sneak up on him from behind?"
The other option is Mephasm.
: I can tell you precisely where the shadow reaver will be, and how he will lay his trap for you.
: Travel south until you can see a circular constellation resting in the cusp of two great peaks.
: Search for a tall, dead tree, blackened by lightning laying within a basin. Circle the basin until you see the path downward - and walk it quietly.
: Do this, and you will catch the shadow reaver by surprise.
He'll then recommend you bring Bishop or Elanee - or neither, if you're a Ranger, Druid or have Guyven's Pathstalker epithet.
Regardless, some good advice from Guyven and Mephasm.
* * *
: You should have learned then that I cannot be destroyed. Yield now, and I shall make your end quick... defy me, and you shall die for days.
: I have your True Name, fiend.
: You think that will make a difference? The ritual burned clean all of my ties to pathetic mortality.
: I defeated you once. I can do so again.
This fight's not too bad. The Shadow Reaver is immortal, same as before, but he won't run away at zero health this time. Either Ammon or Zhjaeve must read the True Names scroll for several rounds while the rest of the party runs interference - after that, he can be killed.
The only drawback is that the AI never used to recognise reading the True Names scroll as a real action, so if you weren't controlling Ammon or Zhjaeve directly at the time, it'd decide to do something else instead (usually using a Healing Kit or turning into a badger or similar). Luckily the AI's been fixed but what can I say? I'm paranoid.
Now, because we talked to Guyven and Mephasm, we only have to deal with the reaver and four minions. If we'd charged straight into the camp, more enemies would have spawned behind us and it'd be significantly trickier.
As is, though, we defeat the Shadow Reaver without too much fuss.
: We should take it to the gith in Crossroad Keep, she will know if it is enough for the task ahead.
* * *
Zhjaeve is waiting for us again. If we'd taken her to read the True Names scroll, it'd be Ammon standing there.
: May I see it? Ah.
: Know that other pieces of the blade are missing... but I think with this shard, we now have enough.
: Enough to remake the blade? And how do you know that?
: I simply know. But the pieces are not enough - I still do not understand how the sword was broken in the first place. Was it the power of the avatar of the King of Shadows?
: I was not there when it shattered. So I do not know.
Zhjaeve, who is normally so calm and boring, suddenly comes over all bitchy and insinuating.
: I was too busy being detained on the Lower Planes after the battle with the avatar... and have had little time since then to discover how the blade was broken.
: But... there is one who has had much time to consider it, and knows something of the King of Shadows.
: Nolaloth was defeated, unfortunately.
: So this dragon is dead? What, is this a joke?
: He was struck down, but his spirit was chained to this realm by the Illefarn Empire until they could find a way to heal him.
: He was their mercenary, you see, but neither he nor the Illefarn were able to give the other what they needed... Nolaloth was defeated, and so were the Illefarn.
: So why are we talking to him now, when we should have been talking to him earlier?
: Know that I, too, have suspicions concerning sudden revelations... such as this dragon you have suddenly cast light upon.
You know who these two remind me of? Parents in a particularly vicious custody case. We're the kid in the middle of it all, of course.
: At some point, you will all need to trust my reasons if we are to get through this.
Ammon actually gains Influence for the last option, presumably because it's a swipe as Zhjaeve as well.
: It is not a question of trust, I think.
: In any event, this information may prove useless. The last time Nolaloth and I spoke, we did not part on friendly terms. He has little reason to help us, or me.
: I inquired after information to defeat the King of Shadows, and Nolaloth wished more than I could give... at the time.
: If this Nolaloth knows how the blade was broken, then that is knowledge we must have.
: What's the catch? Reaching him can't be simple.
: He is something of a... legend in their eyes, and they make the pilgrimage to bask in his presence... and perhaps to steal secrets of the ancient Illefarn ruins where he resides.
Indeed she will.
The last of our weapons awaits.