The Let's Play Archive

Neverwinter Nights 2

by Lt. Danger

Part 78: Act Three Chapter Fourteen - Remorse


We're battening down the hatches, preparing for a siege, and Ammon Jerro's gone missing.

: Looking for Jerro? Ol' tattoo face left the Keep a while ago, thought you'd finally told him to shove off, "Captain."
: And you let him leave?

: As if any of us could make him do anything except for you. I thought he was on one of those fetch-and-carries you love to do.
: Why would he leave now?
: If he's gone, so what? I can track him, if you want. Personally, I think we should let him go or kill him, but that's just my copper on the matter.
: Yes, let's go find Ammon Jerro.

* * *

Here he is.

Is this... Shandra's farm?

The one and same.

: I stayed my hand until you could see this ruin for yourself - this pain is something that I cannot inflict upon you in Baator.
: Here is where she played in her youth... there is where she slept... and in your sanctuary is where her body now lies, grave and tomb.
: If you have come for retribution, you are a fool.

: Perhaps in your cowardly burrow you commanded power, but not here.
: You should have enjoyed your freedom while you could. You know I'm more than a match for you.
: Your skill in the craft is sufficient to give me pause, true. But I have learned from my mistakes... while you are still making them, I think.

: This one... this one was present at her death as well. Ah, all loose ends tied together at once.
: I thank you for these gifts, Ammon. You will have company as you burn in the hells.

Oh my.

Koraboros Battle

If I was to guess at a fiend to come after Ammon seeking revenge, I'd have picked Zaxis. Koraboros seemed so polite and reserved!

It really is the quiet ones you have to watch out for.

It's a tough fight - the Horned Devils (cornugons) rush the party while Koraboros hangs back and casts paralysing/stunning spells. Occasionally he'll open another Gate and summon another devil to the fight.

Obviously eliminating the pit fiend is your primary concern. In this instance Grobnar turned Sand invisible so he could run past the Horned Devils and get in range for a few Avasculates (halves the hitpoints of a target). That quickly puts a stop to Koraboros' summoning antics.

After that it's just a matter of cleaning up.

But we still have one last battle yet to fight.

: If I wanted to waste time trading words with you, I would have remained at the Keep - that is not why I am here.
: Did you come to pay your respects to Shandra?
: You're mistaken, of course. No, there is something I placed here long ago that may be of use in our war now.
: Is that all this place means to you?
: Is it all it means to me? Yes.

Grand-daughter, possibly, but the game never was clear on this. Also, can you imagine Ammon having kids?

: That is because I know there will be hundreds, thousands, countless more unless the King of Shadows is stopped - and he must be stopped if people are to live.
: Is that why you've killed people you've been trying to save - like Shandra?
: Ah, and so you pass judgement on me yet again. Do you realize how you sound or are you deaf to it?
: As you condemn my actions, perhaps you should ask yourself how well you knew her - really knew her.

I think this is probably the most honest option.

: So your preaching is not only irritating me, it is a hypocrisy I commonly observe in the Neverwinter nobility... Captain.
: [Influence: Shandra] I can tell you everything I knew about her, then you can decide.

* * *

: She could have remained here, and been safe, but yet she followed you... why?
: If you ask yourself why you fought the King of Shadows, you'll probably have the same answer.

: Maybe this is why your name has been hated all these years... and why people mistook you for the King of Shadows.
: I did what I had to do, always. They were hard decisions, but they had to be made by someone - and if no one would do it, I would.
: And before you judge me for my crimes, perhaps you should look back - the trail of dead behind you is long, indeed, "hero" of Neverwinter.
: Ask yourself truly if everything you have done has been done because you believe it was right - and then ask yourself if because of it, the innocent have suffered.

This question doesn't make a lot of sense, considering that we're Lawful Evil and don't care about other people's lives. On the other hand, Ammon is Neutral Evil and does care, perhaps a little too much.

Grrr... I blame alignment.

: Yet your actions? Would you change them, if you had to do them over?
: I did what I had to do, always. Always. The King of Shadows must be stopped, there is no middle ground in this.
: Yes, but ask yourself why you were fighting the King of Shadows in the first place.
: To save Neverwinter, of course.

Fucking finally.

: I will not condemn all I have done, but there are times I have acted rashly - and innocents have paid the price. It is pride, and it is arrogance.
: And I do wish I had known Shandra, even for a short while. I had thought her lost in the war, you know - and in the end, she was.

* * *

It could have been a lot different.

We didn't have to go running off after Ammon. If we'd chosen to wait, eventually he'd return, looking a little worse for wear.


{Fade in, Ammon Jerro walks into library where Aldanon and the party is assembled.}
: Tattoo-face is back. Looking cheerful as ever.
: Where did you go, Ammon?
: {Dismissive} There was something I had to do, and it is a matter that does not concern you.
: You shouldn't leave without telling us where you went.
: {Cold} Indeed? I shall heed your counsel in the future, provided I both choose to listen and I choose to care.
: We are both needed to defeat the King of Shadows, and we shouldn't split up.
: {Irritated, but realizes he should have been more thoughtful} Very well... I understand. It was not my intention to be gone for long - nor to place our chances of victory in jeopardy.
: It was a private matter, and now it is done.

That way's no fun, though. And you don't get anything from it except possibly an Influence shift.

The other resolution is to let Ammon get on with what he's doing at the farm. Instead of arguing with you, this happens:


: I don't care why you're here, but do what you need to do, and let's go.
{Ammon walks over by the rubble and destroys it with a spell, revealing a lockbox}
: This is what I came for.
: {Opens lockbox, then studies contents} And it is still intact, as I hoped.
: {Rueful} If Shandra had had this, she might still be alive, but it was not meant to be. {Beat} That is all that remains here, now let us go.

And what is "it," exactly?

A fiendish weapon designed especially for Warlocks. The Flee the Scene and Hideous Blow invocations aren't tremendously useful because Ammon already has those, but the extra Charisma and feats are good.

It also looks pretty cool. A massive flaming two-handed mace? Sounds like something out of Warhammer.

There's something else hidden at Shandra's farm - something Ammon didn't know about.

Buried in the field are two chests with magic items: a +3 negative damage Longsword, some caster-orientated chainmail (ideal for Ammon), a Scarab of Greater Protection (good against level/ability drain) and a Ring of Regeneration. A good haul.

These we can pick up at any time after the conversation with Ammon Jerro. The other rewards require taking the conversation path to the very end. A successful Influence check for Shandra results in a +10 Influence boost for Ammon (the greatest shift in the game). Shandra's Pendant, however, is something we can only get through successfully convincing Ammon that he was wrong - truly wrong.

Again, a nice amulet well-suited for Ammon.

* * *

In some ways this sequence is incredibly frustrating, and it's all Khelgar's fault.

Remember when we were trying to convince Khelgar that he wasn't approaching becoming a Monk in the right way? Especially when we were helping the Ironfists, and trying to tell him that while he talks a good talk about how great the Ironfists are, he doesn't actually do anything to help them, ever?

And remember when we haemorraged Influence with him because of it?

It's not just Khelgar. Try to talk Neeshka out of her feud with Leldon and she'll not like you any more. Hint subtly to Qara that there might be something of worth in all those dusty books and she threatens to set fire to you next.

So you learn not to question the companions and just nod and agree with whatever they say.

And then Ammon comes along and Obsidian is expecting you to push the issue of Shandra's death and get him to feel remorse when you've learned that contradicting the companions is a big No-No. So a lot of people's first play-throughs see them meekly backing down to Ammon, not realising that this is the moment of catharsis for the old Warlock.

Catharsis is the right word, and it's what I would have chosen as a title update if the dialogue file hadn't already been titled "3070_cut_remorse."

I've compared Ammon Jerro's story arc to a classical tragedy before, and I'd like to revisit that idea.

It's got all the ingredients right: a young, innocent female to be murdered; a secondary heroic figure to act as a foil; divine intervention/forewarning; and a primary character who, though accomplished and prestigious, ultimately falls due to his own overweening hubris. And then there's the audience - us - sitting in our seats, screaming as the characters charge blindly into conflict and to their deaths.

Part of the key is forewarning - everyone had every chance to avoid a fight, even us. We should have known something wasn't right from the start, when we learned that Mephasm had lied to us and when none of the fiends would give us a straight answer about their master. Ammon had no excuse either: his fiends warned him, hinted that Shandra was his granddaughter, but he didn't listen - undone by his pride and arrogance, but also his reliance on demons and devils, who orchestrated the entire thing from within their summoning circles. But ultimately Ammon believed that he was the only one who could act, the only hero on the stage, and this enabled him to do terrible things. Worse, he believed his willingness to do evil made him even more of a hero - that by sacrificing his morals, his soul, he was actually more moral than ever. I call this the Torturer's or the 24 Fallacy.

The only character that's blameless is poor innocent Shandra, who just wanted to save the life of someone she cared about.

That's what makes it a tragedy, though - the failure to avoid fate due to one's own weaknesses. And it's the realisation of that that's called catharsis, which is what we have here.

I think I was too harsh on NWN2 before when I said it didn't have any themes. 'Heroism' probably is the theme of the game - it's just not developed very well.

Let's think about all the heroes we've seen in this game. Can you name them all?

There's one very obvious candidate (us) and then there are a couple of others as well: the Guardian, Ammon Jerro. But dig a little deeper and they start popping out all over the place: Lorne and Cormick from West Harbor; Zeeaire was a legendary Sword Stalker of the githyanki; Nasher was a former adventurer; Garius was arguably the 'anti-hero' of Luskan; Casavir defended Old Owl Well from the orcs; Bishop and Shandra had heroic origins; Batha united the lizardmen of the Mere; even Daerrad and his troupe are heroes of a sort. And you can even delve into the backstory for heroes: Torim and King Loudram of the Ironfists; Gith and Zerthimon from githzerai legend.

The key is that they're all flawed heroes. Not "flawed" as in 'he doesn't like snakes' or 'he's very volatile' but "flawed" as in 'you are a bad hero, please stop'.

The Guardian was corrupted by the Shadow Weave. Ammon Jerro killed more innocents than he did undead. Lorne became a thug, Cormick fell into middle-management. Zeeaire was tempted by the power of the shards. Nasher retired. Garius overreached himself. Casavir was running away. Bishop failed to rise above his beginnings. Shandra was murdered by her grandfather. Batha was misled. Daerrad was a fool. Loudram was a coward. Gith and Zerthimon, the most important after Calliope, the Guardian and Ammon, couldn't stay united long enough to establish their new race on the Planes; Gith became crazed with bloodlust and lost herself in the Hells... and if you want to know about Zerthimon, perhaps you should ask Dak'kon's opinion on the matter.

Someone at Obsidian was intent on taking a sledgehammer to the concept of heroism. My only complaint is that I wish they had finished the job.

What I don't understand is why we don't screw up. All these other heroes messed up or are inappropriate in some way, but we just bounce around, happy as lambs, saving the day with no worries at all. We never had to make the hard, practical decisions that Ammon did. We never had to choose between leaving Illefarn undefended and submitting ourselves to the Shadow Weave. Why is it that we're the perfect hero and everyone else is such an abject failure? Why are we here berating Ammon instead of the other way around?

I would have accepted something as trite as "true spirit" or "courage" or something... but as it is, it's this big empty question that hasn't had any thought put into it at all. You just have to make it up - and not in the good "makes you think" way, because it's simply never addressed at all.

That's the disappointment with NWN2, and I've been waiting seventy-seven updates to say it.

* * *

The good news is that we can finally get Ammon to open up about himself.

: Through him, I was able to achieve certain of my goals... and learn mysteries long thought lost. Especially concerning the Sword of Gith.
: Where did you get the Sword of Gith?
: [Influence: Success] I see little harm in telling you now. I think there is some measure of trust between us... and if the blade is lost again, then you may need to seek the same sources as I.
: The Lower Planes have watched since evil existed... and since before Gith led her rebellion against the mindflayers.
: And when Gith had achieved victory, it is known she went to the Lower Planes to seek allies and did not return.
: So you went there in search of answers?

The 'Still Lord' is Prince Levistus, the fifth Archduke of Hell. He upset Asmodeus (chief devil) a long time ago and was punished by being encased in ice.

: He lies imprisoned in the Lower Planes, and he can do little more than watch from his cage.
: And so I sought him, and he was able to reveal to me the location of the blade.
: And he wanted nothing in return?
: There was a price, yes, but it was a price I was willing to pay, and it was little more than I had already paid for the service of my other infernal allies.

This is why I thought Mephasm was an amnizu; Levistus' domain is Stygia, home to the amnizu devils.

: The Lower PLanes do not grant gifts. Surely there must have been some other reason.
: Perhaps. But defeating the King of Shadows was my goal, and I needed the blade.
: But that is all. With that knowledge, I was able to find the blade and carry on the war.
: Did you find a trace of Gith?

Hmm. Interesting.

Gith originally journeyed to the Nine Hells to form an alliance with Tiamat, Queen of the Chromatic Dragons. She succeeded - and the githyanki often use red dragons as mounts and allies - but Tiamat's realm was on the first layer of Hell. What could have happened to her?

Nothing, really - it's one of those Big Mysteries for DMs to decipher on their own.

Unfortunately even though we've made peace with Ammon, his dialogue doesn't change to reflect this.

: How did you get free?
: [Influence: Success] I had assistance from the Arcane Brotherhood, of all organizations. One among them sought information on the King of Shadows and freed me.
: But they were careless... and I was easily able to slip free of them once summoned.
: From there, I was also able to rectify certain injustices in Neverwinter as well before beginning my campaign against the King of Shadows anew.
: Do you know who summoned you?

: I think he sought some means by which to control the King of Shadows... a foolish quest, but he has no doubt already paid the price for such a goal.

Mm, yes indeed.

We can now ask Ammon what his Ritual power allows him to do:

: Any shadow spawned from him that enters it will be caged, unable to get out. While such a power has a limited use outside his fortress, it will be necessary for us to beat him.
: These powers don't seem useful to me in general.

My thoughts exactly!

: It may seem that way, but I believe the closer we get to the King of Shadows, the more use we will get out of them.
: Here, now, we may only be able to use them once every day before their power is expended - the closer we get to our enemy, we may be able to use them much more - and with a greater effect.

There's one last thing we have to ask.

: But yes, I thought the Jerro line had been ended in the war with the King of Shadows.
: During the battles that waged near the Mere... near Highcliff... there was so much chaos, I thought what remained of my family was lost. Now they truly are.
: Was it the loss of your family that drove you to fight?

You probably won't ever see this line in-game. That's because you need 20 Influence with Ammon to unlock it, and it's a once-only - so if you fail, you can't try again.

: The King of Shadows had to be stopped.
: But that some of my blood had survived because of what I did... it is a new thought. I thought I had lost them all.
: And now that you know differently?
: And now I wonder what their lives were like.

The thing is, there's only 19 Influence for Ammon in the game leading up to this point. Yes, there's more after - especially if you pass the Shandra Influence check during the Remorse conversation - but not so before.

: If you like, I can tell you what I know about her, it might help.
: I would like that.

* * *

: I see. It seems she lived much in the short time left to her.

Which is why it doesn't make sense. Hello, Ammon, guess where we are now!

He shows regret perhaps a little earlier than he should - we don't have to argue it out of him as we did before. So it doesn't feel as earned.

Okay, that's the last sidequest we have to do. Not much more game left.