The Let's Play Archive

Neverwinter Nights 2

by Lt. Danger

Part 76: Act Three Chapter Twelve - Sons Of Gith, Daughters Of Zerthimon

Forging the Silver Sword is the 92% block for the Keep. We're close to the end.

There's still one more character we have yet to examine, though.

: I journeyed to your plane to see the actions of the githyanki with my own eyes. This plane... this Faerun... is often in their thoughts and in their speech.
: So you were spying on the githyanki?
: I observed them. The githyanki are hunters, and they rarely release their prey.
: Yet it was the name of the prey they sought that first brought the matter to my People.

The voice direction for Zhjaeve's conversation says that "kalacha-cha" is to be voiced like it was a title.

Literally, the phrase means "shard-bearer," but what's interesting is that the comments also say "say it as though it were 'betrayer'" - a funny choice considering KOTOR2 and NWN2's expansion pack, Mask of the Betrayer.

: And the hunt for me lead you to Crossroad Keep?
: Yes. My feet shadowed the path of the githyanki, but we were both prey of another. In my shame, I did not see Shadow until it was too late.
: They took me, perhaps not recognizing the differences between our People, and chained me within Crossroad Keep.

: Threats to the mind?
: A zerth focuses the wills of others by using the knowing of our People's history and beliefs to remove doubt, and heal one's will through the words of Zerthimon.
: So you're like a priest?
: That title would apply, yes. But while we hold the words of Zerthimon to be of importance, we do not worship him as your people do the Gods of this plane.
: Why is doubt so dangerous?

Kinda wish Zhjaeve appeared in the expansion pack now, weirdly enough.

: The plane of Limbo where we have made our home is a plane of chaos, an unsculpted sea of matter - matter that cannot be shaped by tool or hand, but only takes form through one's thought.
: Many minds united may create citadels no enemy may breach. But if one doubts, then the walls that surround our communities will be as nothing.
: If someone doesn't believe, then your cities becomes vulnerable?

Zhjaeve isn't a very convincing character. Like Ammon she's a plot facilitator - we're gonna need her in a minute to reforge the Silver Sword - but unlike Ammon there's not much else to her. Half of her dialogue is a re-explanation of the game's plot (the Ritual, the shards, etc).

The other half is all the lore that Chris Avellone could find on the githzerai and githyanki, which isn't a huge amount. Most of it is cribbed from Black Isle's Planescape: Torment, which isn't a bad thing but I want you all to know where we're coming from here.

: The words of Zerthimon provide this focus. And it is the purpose of a zerth to pass along his knowledge to our People.

* * *

We return to Arvahn to access the Song Portal - that'll take us to West Harbor while circumventing the life-draining shadow barrier.

: Can you tell me more about your People?
: Know that many lifetimes would go by before I recited but one of the annals of our People.
: If it is your will that you would know more, narrow your question and I shall answer.
: Where are you from?

This is nothing new. This is basic D&D lore.

: Cities are built from our thoughts, as all else that encircles us is chaos. We live within the chaos of these planar currents, with only our knowing and our will to preserve us.
: If not from Limbo, where were you originally from?

Now this you've probably never seen before, unless you were cheating.

I said a long time ago that NWN2 used to use a different Influence scale - 0 to 100 - and that some conversation options were never updated to the new, smaller scale.

This is one of them. You need 40 Influence to unlock this passage.

For reference, you can barely get 4 Influence with Zhjaeve, never mind 40.

The strange thing is that the check after this one only requires 10.

: Then I shall recite our history, as inscribed upon the plates of the Unbroken Circle.
: Once all was chaos, like the plane of Limbo, but encompassing all Planes. From this sea came the First World of our People. This world was born from our thought, our will.
: Our People, the First People, were the thought drawn from that chaos - when they came to know themselves, they were chaos no longer, and their wills became flesh.
: Yet this flesh gave rise to a new chaos, not of matter, but of thought. The minds of our People became filled with hatred, greed, joy, pain, jealousy - and doubt.
: This sounds like human nature to me.

: [Lore] The illithids? Mind flayers?

Ah, mind flayers. Mind flayers are cool and total bastards. Brain-eating psychic octopus-headed schemers... what's not to like?

: Yes, and your name for them is well-chosen. But your word for them does not tell the full meaning.
: The illithids, the tentacled ones, they live in flesh and see all that breathes, all that has a mind, as nothing but tools for their will.
: Their blood is as water, their courage too small to be measured - and they fear to place themselves in the way of battle or harm.
: So how did they defeat your people?

Ha. Your honourable Klingon schtick is all well and good but your people still lost to these cowardly ignorant brainsuckers.

: Their cowardice and their desire has given them tremendous power, the power to shape the minds of others to serve them - it was something against which my People were unprepared.
: And so the illithids took our People from the First World and brought them to the False Worlds. Our People lost the place of our birth, and gained the truth of what it meant to be made to feel joy in servitude and death.
: But you are no longer enslaved?
: No, that period of our history is over. And my People shall never be enslaved again, not by the illithids, not by anyone.
: How did you break free from the illithids?

All right I'm gonna shut up for once and let you read this massive wall of text coming up

here it comes

: Know the Rising of the People against the illithid was an act built upon many ten-turnings.
: Many of the People were gathered in secret and taught the ways of defeating their illithid masters - and how to hide this training from their masters.
: They were taught to shield their minds and use them as weapons. They were taught the scripture of steel, and most importantly, came to remember the meaning of freedom, an idea that had been taken from us.
: And when the time was right, you struck.

: She knew battle as she served the illithids across the False Worlds as a soldier. She not only knew war, but she carried it in her heart. Her blade and her will was as one.
: Before her, even Zerthimon ceased to know himself. She was but one, but she caused others to know their strength.
: In the end, Zerthimon came to know himself again. And reminded our people of who we were and why we had suffered.
: What do you mean?

: The rift between our people was made upon the Blasted Plains of Sargassa's End. It was shortly after we had broken the will of the illithids to fight. We were free.
: Yet it was not enough. For Gith, who had come to know herself through war, defeating the illithids was not enough.
: She sought to wipe them out, and when she had cleansed them from the planes, she would bring the fires to war to all other races, all other being across the planes.
: It sounds like your People were about to enter a new age.

: What happened?
: One spoke against her will - Zerthimon. As the green fires died on the battlefield of Sargassa's End, he met her words with his.
: When she commanded that he follow her to war, he told her there could not be two skies.
: In the wake of his words, one people became two. In the wake of his words, came war.

: It is a rift that will never be sealed, with blood or spell. And it will never be over until one race has cleansed the other from the planes.
: Why did you tell me this?
: You carry the history of our People within you. And as long as you do, you must recognize the power of what you hold.
: While you must learn to know yourself, you must also know that you will be called upon to make choices - terrible choices - but you must believe it serves something greater, as Zerthimon did.
: It is easy to doubt and let it stall your blade and your footsteps. And it is easy to become blinded by that which you seek to overthrow.

* * *

I'll admit now that I probably could have told you all just to play Planescape: Torment instead of reading all that. Perhaps you'd like to do it now?

Don't worry, I'll wait.



The basic outline is straight out of the githyanki/githzerai entries in the Monster Manual. The detail, however, is the invention of Black Isle. The githzerai Stoicism and names of heroes and Pronouncements... those are all made up.

There are some changes. My 2nd Edition Monster Manual (the most recent version I have that has reference to the gith races) talks about the githzerai being ruled by a mighty wizard-king; the Zerthimon cult is an underground phenomenon that is brutally suppressed for its millenialist tendencies. Zerthimon is more like a Jesus-figure who died fighting Gith but will one day return to lead the githzerai to eternal life. The githzerai are also all listed as Chaotic Neutral, while Obsidian prefers to portray them as Lawful Neutral types. A big change is that the githzerai were relatively human compared to the githyanki, both in D&D and PS:T; in NWN2 Zhjaeve looks a lot more like the githyanki than she does you or me. Obsidian's version of the githzerai has them as a relatively open and friendly race, while original lore suggests they are more enigmatic and reclusive.

Regardless, it's good stuff and I'm glad Obsidian brought their version back for NWN2. There's an extra level there that you don't normally get in fantasy backstory-padding. I don't think anyone would be surprised if I said that quite a few of Black Isle's developers had degrees in the liberal arts: History, Philosophy, English Lit.

It is better in Torment though, probably because there's no voice-acting limitations. Dak'kon, the githzerai companion in that game, has more room to talk and so can cover a broader variety of topics: not just his race's history, but also karach blades, his native language, the Unbroken Circle, and of course his own personal character development.

Here's a picture of Zhjaeve I forgot to post during her introductory update.

She looks a lot better, doesn't she? Perhaps it's just the craftsmanship of an artist against the cold rendering of a machine, but I think there's more to it: she appears more feminine and more attractive (shut up); the veil adds mystique rather than obscuring detail. She seems more trustworthy, somehow - and more human.

It's funny how she shares a role with Elanee, overshadowing her towards the end, and yet neither show well in NWN2 - but for different reasons. Elanee's creepy and obsessive, but Zhjaeve is just boring. And maybe a little obsessive too.

She's not particularly well written. Note that we've had a potted history of the gith races but I still couldn't tell you what city Zhjaeve's from or what hobbies she has. There literally isn't anything more to her than plot and backstory.

That may be what Obsidian was aiming for (hence the veil) but it makes her extremely unlikeable. Even something as simple as an alien speech pattern would turn her into something less one-dimensional.

Githzerai in PS:T would often speak in metaphor, a bit like that Darmok episode of Star Trek. So to speak of "Vilquar's Eye" is to refer to the myth of Vilquar the traitor, who betrayed Zerthimon to the illithids for short-term gain and ended up being eaten by his masters for his efforts; to say someone has Vilquar's Eye is to suggest they are greedy, treacherous and unwise.

Slipping in one or two phrases like that into Zhjaeve's dialogue would have livened it up considerably, even if it is cliched ("By Grabthar's Hammer!")

It doesn't matter, not any more. We've officially 'done' our companions and can move on with the plot.

* * *

The Song Portal is still active from the last time we visited Arvahn.

This time it dumps us inside the swamp ruins, by the Statue - as intended.

Unfortunately this time around we want to go out to West Harbor.

: Yet I do not feel the effect of the King of Shadows as I thought.
: I feel strange... like there's energy in the air.
: The Illefarn must have known to blunt the darkness outside.
: You sound pleased.
: Know that this gives me new resolve. It means that it's more likely than ever that the Ritual of Purification can be used to unmake the King of Shadows.
: Glad to hear you've found some faith.

* * *

: This place is a gravesite - it's destroyed.
: Where the blade was shattered, the land will be marked. That is where we must go if we are to make the blade of Gith as it was.
: Why here?
: The reasons are twinned. The scar on the land, your village, still holds some of the blade's strength.

: And once Gith's blade has tasted the essence of a foe, it never rests until its enemy lays dead before its master.

West Harbor (destroyed) Theme

Gravesite is an apt description.

Act 2 implied that Ammon Jerro destroyed West Harbor - back when he was supposed to be the King of Shadows. That wasn't what was originally planned.


: Have you noticed anything strange in the village recently?
: Strange dreams, and little else. Why?
: I'm not sure. I have an odd feeling something took place here - it feels different.
: {Slight reservation} Perhaps. If something did occur here, it left little physical trace. But perhaps someone saw something I did not.


: We encountered demons and shadows in the ruins near the village. Did you see anyone going there or going from there?
: Demons and shadows? {Beat} If they walk, then we are in more danger than I thought... it seems the war will soon be upon us.
: It is impressive you were able to walk away from such an encounter with no scars. You have truly come into your own since leaving the village.


: Have you noticed anything strange in the village recently?
: {Thinking} No more attacks, that is for certain. {Beat, trails off as if remembering something }Things have been quiet... but there has been a strange... feeling in the air.
: What do you mean?
: {Tarmas' usually has a troubled sleep, but not the other night, which is weird} Well, I noticed it the other night. I... have some difficulty sleeping, but not the other night - and while I slept, my dreams were troubled.
: There was the smell of fire, and ash... and when I awoke, it was as if I could almost hear swords clashing, but as if from a great distance.
: And this just happened recently?
: Yes, it is almost as if something passed through the village... and left a faint trace behind.


: We encountered demons and shadows in the ruins near the village. Did you see anyone going there or going from there?
: {Interested} Indeed? Perhaps that would have been related to some of the strange events taking place in the village in the past few days.
: After you passed through here, I spoke to some of the others, and they cited some strange events as well.
: Like what?
: Some of the outlying crops withered, and although there was no signs of a fire, the tips of the harvest were burned, as if a flame had passed too close to them.
: And the children mentioned that the scar within the village... any animal that passes through there, whether rat, or bird... simply dies.
: There is something stirring in the Mere, and something came to the village because of it.
: {Sighs} I have no idea how the two are related, but if you encountered demons near West Harbor, then what we have seen may have much to do with their presence.

There's a whole bunch of these conversations for the villagers of West Harbor that were never used. The timeline appears to be a bit off: there's two dialogues, one for after Ammon Jerro has appeared, one for after you've fought the Shadow Reaver. It's the same with everyone... a few nights ago the entire village fell into a deep slumber, waking to find only the traces of fiends left to show what had happened.

It's possible the trek to the last Ritual Statue was more involved - perhaps a retread of the original swamp ruins we visited early in the game, but this time filled with shadows and demons. And afterwards you'd be able to go back to West Harbor and talk it over with the villagers; presumably the village would be wiped out during the Act 2/3 transition, along with Fort Locke.

Anyway, you never see these because as it is the village is destroyed as soon as you trigger the last part of the Ritual quest. Just remember that it was the King of Shadows that did it, not Ammon Jerro.

So. knowing what we do now, spot the deliberate mistake.

: Look at what has happened to our village - to us.
: You're... dead?
: Many of us are, or at least we think so.
: Certainly none of our elders told us the next life would be like this. Something isn't right.
: [Intelligence] Your story doesn't make any sense. You are either a shadow, an illusion, or both.

And the Mossfelds turn into shadows. If we didn't have so much Intelligence, we'd have been lured into a nasty trap.

The river is toxic and causes ability drain. Characters with Craft skills could build a bridge out of the timbers scattered around the village, but we don't have the knowledge to lay planks of wood across a small gap

Another trick?

: You aren't going to try to take me too, are you?
: I remember you. You're Danan, Starling's child.
: You know my name? None of the hollow men ever say my name.
: Do I know you? You look familiar. I can't remember...
: I'm Calliope, Daeghun's daughter.
: Who's Daeghun? I don't remember... I - I need to find my Ma.
: Who are the hollow men?

Hmm. It would appear Danan's a legitimate survivor.

I mean a legitimate victim.

I mean he's not undead.

Fuck, you know what I mean.

A pack of shadows interrupt us before we can get any information out of Danan.

We find him later 'round behind one of the ruined homesteads.

: Ma, what's she talking about?
: Don't listen to her, son. We need to leave, and soon. Come to me.
: Danan, this woman isn't your mother.
: Ma?
: Leave the boy, shadow. You'll have to deal with me regardless.


It's not a good idea to waste your best spells on these lowly shadows, since the ruins of West Harbor are one of the few areas in the game that you cannot rest in.

We're gonna need those Level 9 spells very soon.

We lay Danan to rest...

...and as he vanishes, he gives us a talisman that cures us of our statistics drain.

All right, on with the show.

: Yet without your presence and focus, this is but a place. Is your will here?
: I am ready.
: Very well. Sit with me. Listen to my voice, grasp the hilt - and close your eyes.

It's done. The Sword of Gith is reforged.

This is official Hero territory now. The Sword is the symbol of our power and righteousness; the ruins of West Harbor our humble origins, which we have now shed. And Zhjaeve's our Mother, as I believe we have already discussed.

Which means she's also our Campbellian Goddess-figure. Couldn't we have had Princess Leia instead?

: It worked. You did it.
: It was your will that reformed the blade. I merely walked with you.
: Only for you will the sword live. No longer do you carry the Heart of the Sword. Truly, now, you are its Heart.
: The... power from this blade - it's incredible.
: That is not the power from the blade you feel. It is your own strength focuses in the blade itself.

: Know that the material of the blade is not as important as one might think.
: It is the will that guides it, that gives it power... without what lies within your heart, this would be no sword, only a thing of shards.

Ah crap.

: I think you will find its edge more than a match for shadow and mere words. Will you test it, thrall of shadows?
: My master does not fear a poorly-forged blade... nor a poorly-forged hero.
: We'll see what your master thinks.
: Hold the thrall of shadows at bay - I will give voice to its True Name, by which it may be undone.

This is a tougher fight than the one we had a couple of updates ago. We're surrounded on all sides, with a good mix of enemies (shadows, fire elementals and two Blade Golems), and the Shadow Reaver is a lot more likely to cast high-level spells.

It's best to eliminate the footsoldiers before beginning the recitation of the True Name; you'll need Zhjaeve's spells to escape the ambush alive. A well-deployed Mass Heal can not only restore your party to full health, but also kill all of the shadows attacking the party instantaneously.

: That reaver seemed to be tougher than the last few.
: Know that time was their ally before, but with the blade reforged, they will be forced to act more quickly than they thought... and fight more desperately than before.
: That Shadow Reaver said that the Sword wouldn't be enough.
: Shadows hide many truths, even from themselves. It will be enough, and you have proved it this day.

You Have Been Warned.

* * *

Check this shiny new artifact we're wielding. You know you've hit the big time when you're holding an ancient relic of the Planes themselves!


This sword is rumored to have been forged by Zerthimon for Gith, before their separation into two races: the githzerai and the githyanki. Gith used this blade to free all gith-kind from their ages-long enslavement by the illithids. The sword was rumored to have been lost in the Nine Hells when Gith ventured there to seek an alliance with the red dragons and never returned. The sword ended up in the hands of Ammon Jerro, who used it to smite the King of Shadows in a devastating battle that sundered the sword into dozens of shards. The sword has now been reformed, though several pieces are still missing. The parts of the sword that are still incomplete display a ghostly outline.

This sword has acquired a new master and has tailored its powers to complement its owner in a powerful bond. The heart of the blade now resides within the Shard-Bearer, who serves as the binding force that holds the weapon together. This intimate connection confers the unique ability to manipulate each individual shard by strength of will alone.

There are three powers: Blade Storm, Shard Barrier and Shard Hail.

Blade Storm and Shard Barrier cost charges; there are three charges, which can be replenished by meditating with the Sword in a safe place (so basically on rest). Shard Hail does not require charges to be used. Using these special abilities negates the Silver Sword's base damage, which is why you can Reform the blade at any time, turning it back into a weapon.

The other bonuses of the Silver Sword depend on class. As a Rogue, we get:

Enhancement +3
Alchemical Silver
Damage Bonus vs Outsider +1d12
Damage Bonus: Magical +1d4
Strength +1
Dexterity +4
Constitution +1
Intelligence +1
Wisdom +1
Charisma +1
Freedom of Movement
Wounding DC18
Acid Resistance 5
Cold Resistance 5
Electrical Resistance 5
Fire Resistance 5
Hide +5
Move Silently +5
Other classes get other bonuses. A Wizard may get a higher bonus to Intelligence and Spell Resistance, for example. Clerics have Disruption and immunity to Death Magic.

All in all... it's pretty underwhelming. We're better off with our custom-crafted weapons. Hell, we'd be better off with the crummy daggers we found as loot during the campaign. Most of the bonuses are very small (elemental resistance? may be handy if someone casts Burning Hands or something) and/or redundant (stat bonuses don't stack, so that +4 Dexterity's completely useless). The special abilities are interesting but often do less damage than just attacking normally. Add that it's a Universal Sword so none of our feats use it and it's very disappointing.

The good news is that it's apparently quite strong if you're a Fighter. Suddenly it's a +5 Sword of +4 Strength +3 Constitution Keen Bonus Piercing +5 Bonus Bludgeoning +5 along with everything else... not too shabby. Unfortunately that doesn't help us, the Rogue/Invisible Blade/Assassin.

(Sadly I'm not 100% certain on what classes get what because it's hard-coded into the engine so I can't get a look-in (without massive effort) and no one in the community has thought to compile a reference for all the different kinds of Silver Sword.)

Ultimately it's best to think of it as a particularly nifty plot item. We're only going to use it once, but it'll be at the most important moment in our entire lives.

And it has lots of pretty animations. That's kinda cool.