The Let's Play Archive

Neverwinter Nights 2

by Lt. Danger

Part 83: Act Three Chapter Nineteen - Why Didn't You Just Leave When You Had The Chance?

That was what the Influence system was building up to all game.

It's not entirely dissimilar to what Obsidian had planned for the end of KOTOR2 - unhappy followers (low Influence) would turn against their loyal counterparts (high Influence) and you'd have to kill the traitors to proceed. The once-happy party would tear itself apart as a sort of prelude to the main boss fight.

Alas, KOTOR2's ending was cut due to time constraints. And although NWN2 also suffered from cut content, Obsidian did manage to implement the Traitors' End.

It's good stuff (with one exception, see below) - it's always nice to see how our decisions have had an affect on the game. The only real problem is that it highlights a major plothole: if our companions hated us so much, why did they follow us in the first place? Admittedly you can just get high Influence with everyone, and the only companions that betray you will be Qara/Sand and Bishop, and you may only have to fight one of those at that. But in this playthrough, we're running with a minimum party, and there'll be only the seven of us left at the end.

Arguably this is the real climax of the campaign. Forget the King of Shadows... we've spent most of our time wooing and abusing our companions, and now it's coming back to haunt us. No, the real enemy here is friendship.

Let's see how it could have gone in a different playthrough, shall we?

* * *

We'll begin with Neeshka.

Negative Influence with Neeshka nets you this response when you enter the Inner Sanctum.

: You've been in here all along?
: Oh, yes, just sitting here, waiting, really. Just this portal and me...

Low-Influence-Neeshka doesn't have to be tortured into giving away your secrets. Low-Influence-Neeshka is more than happy to give them away (the first time she's been generous with anything in this game).

And it also changes the way Garius talks about her.

: She saw little value in the Realms to begin with, but with you as the closest example approaching a friend... I think she decided there was no value to this pathetic plane whatsoever.
: The future I hold for her, however, is ripe with possibilities, for any who are willing to take it.
: Neeshka? Why?

: Gods, you saved me on the road to Fort Locke, and then... then everyone else showed up, and it was like you forgot me, like I didn't even exist.
: I just want to go back to the way things were before... when... when I did what I wanted, and I didn't care what other people thought! Including you.
: Don't do this - Garius is using you.

It's actually quite sad, despite Neeshka's misapplication of a common phrase. Calliope is the devil you know, Neeshka, not Garius.

But it's a weirdly accurate portrayal of most players' relationship with Neeshka. You start off with her in the party all the time, because you have to... but after a while you dump her in favour of more interesting and useful companions like Casavir and Sand. Rogues aren't particularly useful in the OC (especially once you have Sand or buy the Chimes of Opening magic item) and Neeshka's adjusted-experience-level means she always lags behind the rest of the party in levels. And then you encounter hordes of undead and even Sneak Attack can't save her...

It's a shame because she still likes you. Even if you've been a dick to her throughout (and you'd have to be to get negative Influence) you're still the closest she has to a friend, and you can see that even when she's cursing your name here.

But maybe you wanted a happy ending?

Neeshka's a special case in that there are three levels to her Influence. Low: she hates you. Medium: she likes you but can't resist Garius' binding. And High, which is over 12 Influence, and is what we see here.

Unfortunately the thread reaction to Neeshka was good enough for us to be nice to her, but not high enough for her to remain on our side during the final fight.

Goodbye Neeshka.

* * *

And then there was Sand.

: Sand... I know you studied at the Hosttower... and what relics you saw there are nothing compared to the ones that lie here, the secrets of ancient Illefarn.
: The power you seek is here... and I can allow you to rectify certain... inequities.

: Somehow, your cowardice doesn't surprise me, Sand - hope you're ready to face what it means, because you're not leaving alive.

Sand and Qara share an Influence barometer. Yes, technically they're separate variables, but at the moment when it all counts - here, now, in the fortress of the Guardian - who stays and who goes depends on who has higher Influence.

In our real playthrough, Sand had the higher Influence, so he refused Garius' offer - and conversely, Qara accepted it. Influence doesn't have to be low for one of the mages to accept, just lower than their rival's.

This time around, we're buddies with Qara, and Sand believes that Qara is so much of a threat that he'd side with the King of Shadows to eliminate her.

It's an interesting idea, but NWN2 isn't very clear on whether this is a unique aspect of Qara or whether the whole "I have no limits!" thing is something that applies to all Sorcerers.

: All the chiding and lessons and lies of the Academy and your father would be nothing against such power.
: I mean, truly... what more is there to learn from the people of Neverwinter? Not much, I think, their time on this plane is done.
: And have your companions offered you any insights, or simply more hostility? It sounds to me as if they are simply another Academy of narrow-minded fools one needs to separate yourself from.

Qara's motivations in this dialogue, meanwhile, are simply spiting Sand.

I understood Qara being tempted into power - of the two, Qara presents as the more overtly evil - but this seems almost trivial. Then again, what's unstated is that you and Qara are best friends. Qara becomes incredibly loyal to you if you're nice to her, possibly because she doesn't have any other friends and doesn't get on with her father.

In a way, she's a lot like Neeshka... if we'd been a bit nicer, she'd be on our side. But then again, we'd have lost Sand, and that wouldn't do.

Goodbye Qara.

* * *

And now for Construct.

: Wait! What are you doing? Stop!
: You don't command it anymore, gnome. It's mine now - you've seen it tear into opponents, but that's nothing compared to what it's going to do to your friends.
: No! I...

Construct obviously doesn't have any Influence of his own (though he does have his own global variable, even if it's never used) so he uses Grobnar's Influence.

As per Grobnar's other Influence checks, it's not really a matter of whether Grobnar likes you or not; Grobnar doesn't have it in him to hate anyone. It's more literal than that: high Influence means you have a lot of influence over him and can inspire him to be a better person. A person who is smarter, perhaps, can remember more things, cast better spells... all for a mere 10 Influence.

: You see, an idea came to me not long after I spoke to our leader - gave my noggin a little kick, it did.
: And I thought - well, I don't know everything there is to know about golems, and I've been wrong before - and frequently. So I made a second safety command word... just to be sure.
: But it doesn't control the Construct, it just sets him free to do what he wants. Like he should have been, long ago.

I didn't think a non-sapient Illefarn golem could have a story arc, but Obsidian just proved me wrong.

Unfortunately, in our playthrough, our audience didn't like Grobnar enough for us to inspire him to greatness. He languishes in mediocrity, always struggling to keep up... and Construct falls prey to Bishop's machinations.

Goodbye Construct.

* * *

: History can be rewritten this hour. Your allegiances need not remain - there is so much pain that can be undone by my lord. All those wasted decades - they need not have been in vain.
: The contracts with the infernal legions that bind you... with enough power, those are easily broken. As for the githyanki, we can take the battle to them as well. You need never fear either group again.
: And your dear Shandra... she need not remain dead. We can return her to you, and her life that you missed, you can come to know her again.

What... you didn't think Ammon Jerro would side with Garius, did you?

Ammon's entire character is defined by his hatred of the King of Shadows - there's no way he'd join forces with his hated foe, even if he finds us idealistic and hypocritical. All his Influence does is change how strongly he defends us to Garius (and you don't even need that much - just over 0).

So, uh, hello Ammon Jerro.

* * *

There's more to this sequence than meets the eye.

For starters, your loyal companions were originally supposed to defend you around about this point. Nothing elaborate - just an affirmation that they believed in you.


: [Influence: Success] I would die for her without hesitation.
: [Influence: Success] We are here, aren't we? I think you have underestimated us, Garius.
: [Influence: Success] Why would we leave? {Frowns} I say, for a minion of evil, this Garius fellow doesn't seem to be very insightful when it comes to our friendship.
: [Influence: Success] From the Weeping Willow Inn to here, I've followed, followed gladly, and there's no way in the hells I'm backing down now.
: [Influence: Success] In this one who leads us, I have seen the strengths I lacked so long ago. And as for you, Garius, I do not see Lorne nor Torio standing with you any longer.
: Know that the choice is a simple one, Garius. If you fight us, you fight us all.

These are all in-game, by the way, it's just that they require over 50 Influence (which is no longer achievable). As it is, Zhjaeve's the only one who speaks out for you, and her entire Influence scale is shot to pieces, so...

Moving on: Casavir was going to be tempted as well, if the PC was very Evil. Unfortunately what I assume is a scripting error prevents this from firing:


: And Casavir... you know where the path of your leader lies.
: You have seen the evil done in Neverwinter's name, yet you have followed this far... no longer, I think, can your soul bear much more of this "loyalty."
: If it means standing with you, Garius, then there is no choice at all - you have given yourself to evil. There is hope for this one still.
: {Angry at Bishop} And I would sooner die than stand with that traitor... no matter how much he and our leader are alike.
: So you admit it, finally? I'm impressed. For a Neverwinter dog and follower of the church... I thought such truths were beyond you.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. There's time for this kind of talk coming up very soon.

Garius is mis-representing us here.

Clever players might realise what's about to happen and remove all the equipment from their disloyal companions, so that they make easy pickings in the final fight. The game checks for this and equips them with some generic Shadow Armor and Shadow Weapons.

I didn't actually manipulate my companions' inventories - this is either the result of me keeping everyone in their default armour for style's sake, or something to do with Construct not being able to equip anything and the game not realising that.

* * *

The most involved companion in this sequence is, of course, Bishop. He was the first to betray us - both physically at the siege, and mentally long before that, when he started plotting against us.

It all has to do with Duncan Farlong.

: So because Duncan saved your life you're going to take mine?
: No telling what Duncan had told you, so yeah, that was the plan. Need to tie up every potential loose end - and considering how much he talks, that means you as well.
: Thing is, I was the one who burned that place to the ground, and I didn't want any witnesses. Then Duncan comes along, right when I was wounded, barely holding on... and I can't do anything to silence him.

Oh, I wish it were so. It turns out this little tale is as bloated as they come.

What the fuck? Where did that come from?

: It's something they order all new recruits to do, whether they want to or not. And I don't care for that too much.
: You see, they order you to slaughter a Neverwinter village as part of the initiation ceremony. I decided to take care of two problems at once - and I chose my own.

You're telling me.

This old gripe again.

Bishop's village, by the way, is Redfallow's Watch. I'm sure he's mentioned this before - so he should be referring to it by name now.

Only it doesn't really matter, because Nasher believes Redfallow's Watch was overrun by orcs (that's where he knighted Sir Nevalle) and Elanee believes it was swallowed up by the Mere over fifty years ago!

: So when they ordered me to destroy a village of my choosing, I saw a chance to kill the Luskans and kill that place that helped make me the fine, upstanding man you see before you... all as a fortunate accident.
: So what happened?
: I was going to burn the village to try and kill the Luskans who were watching over me, it was a trap... but those villagers, those fools, they wouldn't leave when I told them. So they died, too.
: I set a bunch of fires around the perimeter, let it all come circling in, and they all burned like sheep trapped in a corral.
: I told them to leave, to run, but they wouldn't leave their houses, especially when I told them, so they deserved to die right along with the Luskans watching me.

: I took a few arrows, had some wounds... and to be honest, wasn't sure I was going to get out of there at all. I was too weak to fight back, but it didn't matter, because for the first time, I felt all these chains come off of me.
: I felt free at last... but then Duncan came along, right at the end, tying me to that place, tying me to Luskan... tying me to the past.
: He saved my life, then he said I owed him - in that stupid joking voice of his, but I knew what he meant, he was blackmailing me with what he knew. Then he called his debt due, and that debt was to help you.

This is the answer to a question first posed in Act 1. It's taken us all game to answer it, and it was in no way worth it.

I mean, holy shit how ridiculously and unnecessarily circuitous is that?!

Bishop joins the Luskans, but he doesn't like the Luskans, so he tried to kill the Luskans. Bishop hates his village, he tries to burn his village, but he also tries to save them. And then Duncan is there as well. It really makes no sense.

It sounds like a major casualty of the cut Bishop romance. Perhaps we'd have heard all this in a conversation on the rooftops... a final confession to try to explain his actions in the morning. That way, it wouldn't drag down the rest of this sequence with a long and confusing wall of text right at the game's climactic encounter.

Maybe I'm reading it wrong. Thinking on it, Bishop's explanation is so convoluted, maybe he's insane and this is the cover story his deranged mind came up with to explain why he burned down his village and killed everyone in it. "It wasn't me, it was the Luskans!"

Or maybe it's all one massive lie, and the real reason Bishop is betraying us is because he's in love with us (as hinted) and he can't handle that, so the natural thing to do is sell the Sword Coast out to an entity of unimaginable evil.

It's just so unnecessary. Bishop doesn't need this long backstory to explain his actions - just let him be a dick and the rest will follow naturally. Look, here's a better and simpler explanation for why Bishop betrays us:


: Don't think I didn't see you and the paladin here, right before the siege. And to think, before that, I was willing to fight for you - I would have died for you.

There, simple jealousy. Much better, much simpler, much cleaner.

That aside, let's turn to the business of Bishop's betrayal.

: Was that an order I heard?
: [Influence: Success] You watch it... I'm not anyone's lackey, not anym-

We can't redeem Bishop or bring him back to our side, but we can get him to betray Garius.

: Is that so? Well, in that case, you can handle the Shard-Bearer on your own.

And Bishop vanishes for the last time.

The way this conversation is scripted, you can't fail to turn Bishop. So long as you have enough Influence to get Bishop to explain himself (and ask him to do so), then you'll get the dialogue options to persuade him to abandon the King of Shadows.

The thing is, they're all bugged - instead of checking for 25 ranks in Diplomacy/Taunt/whatever, they check that you don't have them. And even if you did fail, the result still leads into the same conversation: Garius gives Bishop an order, Bishop takes offence and leaves. So long as you have even some Influence with Bishop, enough to get his dialogue rolling, then you can't fail to get him out of the fight.

Unless you choose combative options, that is. And that's what I did - because if Bishop leaves, then he's not around to use the secondary command word on the Construct, meaning that there's no Influence challenge for Grobnar at all. Also, I felt that four traitors would make for a better conflict than just two... and finally, because Bishop's just deserts have been coming for a long time now.

So goodbye Bishop - and good riddance.