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24 June 2015 @ 09:28 pm
Dorchadas Plays Baldur's Gate II, Part V: Every Hamster Has His Day  
I had intended to head straight to the docks and get embroiled in gang warfare, but the moment the party arrives in Athkatla a messenger uses the power of plot to find the party and strolls up to Aerie with a message that her adopted uncle Quayle wants to see her.
Messenger: "Excuse me, miss... but you would be named Aerie, yes? The young elven lass that was Quayle's apprentice in the circus?"
Aerie: "Well, yes. Why? Has something happened to Uncle Quayle? What is this about?"
Messenger: "Oh, no no. Nothing's happened to him, miss. He gave me a very good description of you, in fact, and asked me to track you down. He mentioned that you and your new companions may be able to help him out with something, and asks that you return to the circus to see him as soon as you can, miss."
Aerie: "Uncle Quayle needs my help? Then we should go back to the circus! Oh, Chiyo, please...I couldn't bear the thought of him needing me and not being able to go! Please!"
Messenger: "Well, I've done as I were asked, miss, so I really should be going. A good day to you all."
Remembering the lamp in my pack given to me when I left the circus tent of illusionary horrors, I put aside my mafia-related activities for the moment and plan to head to Waukeen's Promenade.

Stop! You have violated the law!
But first I make a quick detour to the government district, cheat in 5000 gold, and buy a magic license. I normally wouldn't mind operating under interesting restrictions if they were applied equally, but the reason I thought that the anti-magic law was bugged was because the AI can't deal with applying it to NPCs. When I run into bandits who have apparently all plopped down the 5000 gold for magic licenses, but when I go into a private residence and get attacked for casting stoneskin, that's when I draw the line. One of the things I hate the most in games is when rules are unevenly applied. It's why I don't play on higher difficulties when the only effect is to change enemy HP or damage or when it lets the AI cheat--I'm still annoyed about Civilization's ocean-wandering AI triremes--and since Baldur's Gate II can't handle magic restrictions across the board, the solution is to get rid of them.

Not so tough now that I can cast chaos freely, are you?

While in the government district, Minsc notices that something is missing.
Minsc: "Ahh, this is a fine place for an adventure, isn't it, Boo? So many holes for a hamster to snuffle in, especially a miniature one such as yourself! Boo? Boo? Where are you? Oh! Boo is playing a joke on Minsc! He is hiding in Minsc's backpack! Boo? BOO?! You are not there!! Where has Boo gone?!"
Chiyo: "Look harder. Boo's probably sleeping in your armour somewhere."
Minsc: "No!! Minsc has checked his armour thoroughly, from front to back and down and up! No, Boo was stolen!! Who is so evil that he would take Boo from his Minsc?! It was you, Chiyo! All this time you have been envying Minsc of his rapport with great Boo! You wish the title of Great Hero all for yourself!"
Chiyo: "You have got to be kidding."
Minsc: "Minsc never jokes about Boo! Weasels, maybe! Boo, NEVER!"
Chiyo: "Calm down, Minsc. We'll help you find your Boo."
Minsc: "You will help Minsc find his Boo? Oh you are a true friend to join me on this most noble quest! We are such heroes, to be rescuing hamsters in distress, are we not?"
Chiyo: "Do you have any idea where he might be?"
Minsc: "I last saw little Boo near all those sailors and pirates in the docks. He will be so scared without his great ranger friend to protect him! We must head there with no delay! Minsc..." Sniffs "... Minsc misses his little Boo."
I leave the government district, pausing to annihilate a random encounter of bandits along the way, who are much easier to deal with now that the Cowled Wizards aren't harassing me specifically. I don't head to the docks immediately, though, instead taking a quick trip to Waukeen's Promenade to answer the message to Aerie.
Aerie: "Uncle Quayle! It is good to see you again! Is... is everything alright? You sent somebody to ask me to come?"
Quayle: "Aerie! It is always good to see you! And, yes...I did ask you to come. With Chiyo and her friends, I think you can help me. Or one of my friends, rather."
Aerie: "I'd be happy to. Which friend are you talking about?"
Quayle: "No one you know of, my dear. A lass I met in my earlier days, when I happened to find myself in the Outer Planes. That's a long story I won't get into. She is here in Athkatla, and has herself in a bit of a bind. She wrote me a letter asking for my help... but you and Chiyo may be able to help more than I."
Aerie: "I'd be happy to help her, Uncle Quayle. That is... if Chiyo thinks we have the time. What...what do you think, Chiyo?"
Chiyo: "It wouldn't hurt to see if we can help out."
Quayle: "There's no rush on such a thing. If you find the time, her name is Raelis Shai. She can be found at the playhouse beneath the Five Flagons Inn in the Bridge District. If you can't help her... well, then you can't help her. But Raelis is a dear heart, and it would do an old gnome's heart good if you could try."
Aerie: "I'm sure we can find some time to at least speak to her, Uncle Quayle."
Quayle: "I hope so. It's been good to see you again, dear one. Be safe."
And then I go on a shopping spree.

Not much of one, because the merchants' stock defies the AD&D 2e random treasure tables and has almost no magic swords, but I buy a few new spells and more ammo for Yoshimo, Aerie, and Xan. I also take advantage of my magic license to fulfill a childhood D&D dream and whistle up a pseudodragon familiar, who Chiyo promptly stuffs in her backpack to keep out of danger:

I always wanted one of these, but I'm pretty sure the only wizard I ever played who cast find familiar was a dark elf who got an azmyth, which isn't bad either.

The HP bonus brings Chiyo up to 71, which is pretty respectable. Thus fortified, it's time to find Boo.

Hamster Hunter
I head to the docks and, in the tradition of murderhobos everywhere, decide that the tavern is the place to go for answers. Outside the Sea Bounty Tavern is a boy named Billy, who gasps and runs inside when he sees Minsc:
Minsc: "You! Minsc remembers you! You were looking at Boo, little boy! You know!!"
Minsc chases after him, and when we enter, we find Billy standing near three men:
Vivick: "You there, woman! You'd betteren' explain why that oaf in your party is picking on this poor childer!"
Chiyo: "You'd better explain why you're guarding petty thieves!"
Vivick: "Now what's this about thieving? We won't be harbourin' crims, eh, boy? Explain yourself!"
Billy: "I.. uh-"
Vivick: "Someone set us straight here! You, woman- why were you chasing this boy?"
Chiyo: "Minsc? Would you like to explain?"
Minsc: "Oh, it is a sad and tragic story to rival the greatest and most unfortunate tales of all time! A hero and his hamster are parted! Minsc and Boo, taken from each other by this evil little boy! Where is justice? Is it not right that Minsc should buttkick this boy?"
Vivick: "Your HAMSTER was stolen? That's what this is about?! Some hamster named Boo?!"

A ruffian laughs.

Minsc: "You... you all dare LAUGH at Minsc's plight?!! RRAAARRR- RRAARRRRGG- RRAAARRRGGHHHH!! FEEL the anger of Minsc as it boils through his veins!! SEE the great berserker rage build up in Minsc's eyes!! TASTE the steely blade of justice poking into your eeevil laughter!!! Gather your swords!! Minsc and his great buttkicking friend Chiyo will cut down every one of your stinking smirks with heroic might!! RRAAARRRRGHHHH!!! BUTTKICKING FOR-"
Chiyo: "That's enough Minsc! Killing them won't help you find Boo."
Minsc: "BUTTKICKING- Wait!! This is not the way to find little Boo! Even if I cut down these bad men, little Boo will still be quite lost! What should we do Chiyo? How can Boo be safely returned to us?"
Chiyo: "It is for Billy to tell us the truth of Boo's disappearance. Nobody else can help us."
Billy: "I'm not telling and you can't make me! Nyah! Unless- unless you give me- 50- no, 5000, no 50,000 gold! Yeah!!"
Chiyo: "You must be out of your mind! I could buy 50,000 hamsters for that money!"
Billy: "Well you're not getting that smelly rat back then!"
Chiyo: "Vivick, this is getting us nowhere. You seem to have some control over this child. Make him talk."
Vivick: "Okay okay, everyone calm down. I'll get Billy to tells you where your rat is, if you'll give me good reason to do so."
Chiyo: "Here's 500 gold. Now get the child talking."
Vivick: "Now that be a good reason! Billy, open your yapper."
Vivick: "Good you recognisen that. I WILL wallop you a good one if you don't tell what's happened to this fella's mouse."
Minsc: "HAMSTER!"
Vivick: "Whatever."
Minsc: "You would not be saying that, nasty man, if you could feel Boo's wrathful gaze centered on your chest!"
Vivick: "Be more like centered on me ankles, I'd say. Stop interrupting, less you don't wanten' your gerbil back. Well, Billy?"
Billy: "Oh, all right. I- I sold that little hamster of yours to a funny halfling man. I think his name was Smethy."
Minsc: "You SOLD Boo?! To a funny halfling man?! Boo is a heroic space hamster! He CANNOT be sold! But you have done it, little boy! Such villainy in so small a package, it makes Minsc quite pale with horror! Evil seller-of-Boo, prepare to feel the justice of my boot as it connects with your backside, no matter how small you may be!"
Billy: "Eek! Don't hurt me, mister! I'll take you to Smethy! He'll give your hamster back to you!"
Minsc: "Yes, I will hold off my boot until Boo is back safely in my hands. But I will be watching you, little boy! Do not think that you can run away again!"
Billy: "O- of course not, mister. Follow me."
Smethy remembers Boo after a bit of prodding, but says he sold him on to a mage named Eleana who mentioned teaching him to swim. Minsc is understandably outraged, but Chiyo asks him to send the party to him--he's already explained that there's no door because his shop is enchanted to open to multiple locations (and also that way there's no way for me to inconveniently come back later)--and he does so.

In the government district, Minsc suggests the party check all the fountains, and finding nothing in the nearby fountains I head south. On the way, the party is accosted by a gnome named Jan Jansen, who tries to sell me deathsticksflash bombs:
Jan Jansen: "Are you interested in purchasing a bit o' merchandise, my friend?"
Chiyo: "Why not? What merchandise do you carry, good gnome?"
Jan Jansen: "Well, you've got the look of an adventurer about you. I've been one myself, betwixt stints as a turnip salesman that is. Occasionally the markets get down and the formerly self-respecting purveyors of fine veggies are forced to prostitute their abilities in the form of adventuring."
Chiyo: "All right, all right. What are you getting at?"
Jan Jansen: "What I'm getting at, o-so-friendly one, is that I've items to sell you that are especially created, by yours truly, to aid one on the dangerous path to heroism. They're known as Jan Jansen's (that's me) Flasher Master Bruiser Mates. Now pay attention, you take one o' these babies and chuck it at average Joe Orc, close your eyes real tight and WHOOSH!, he's running around in circles clutching at his eyeballs and screaming and yelling like Uncle Sven after three days on a turnip beer bender..."
This continues until the guards show up and accuse him of illegal weapons dealing. They ask the party about him, and Chiyo, being Neutral Good and having no love for Athkatla's government, replies that they were merely discussing the weather, causing the guard to metaphorically throw his hat on the ground and stomp on it before storming off. Jan is relieved that Chiyo bailed him out and offers to join the party, which makes me wonder why all these people are offering to throw their lot in with me after having known Chiyo for minutes. Maybe the people of the Forgotten Realms all have Detect Murderhobo as a spell-like ability?
Detect Murderhobo (Sp): The creature has the ability to detect all murderhobos within the range of its normal senses. Murderhobos are those who who no fixed abode or domicile, or if they do, no not spend more than two consecutive nights at a time there and leave the running of it to seneschals; have no living family, especially if their family died tragically to propel them on a journey to seek their fortune; resort to violence as either the first or second solution to all problems; loot the bodies of anyone they find, including fallen friends and shield-companions; and any and all paladins who have ever killed an orc of age four or less.
That's 3.x format, but it's easily portable to your favorite edition of The World's Most Popular Roleplaying Game.

In the large fountain at the southern end of the district, we find Eleana De'Lyl, who is the very image of an arrogant noble, taking "her" hamster for a swim. I resist the urge to murder her and accept her riddle challenge for ownership of Boo
Eleana: "Well, the De'Lyl family is not without its charitable inclinations. I will ask you three questions. If you answer them to my satisfaction, your friend may have his hamster back. If not, then I keep 'Boo' and will hear no more from you. Those are my terms. Now do you agree, or do we battle to the death this day?"
Chiyo: "I agree to your terms."
Eleana: "Good. Now my first question... I'll make it a riddle. All members of the De'Lyl family are well-versed in intelligent past-times. I would like to know if you are. Listen carefully."
"It goes along with the carriage,
It comes with the carriage,
The carriage has no need of it
Yet the carriage may not go without it."
Chiyo: "Noise."
Eleana: " 'Noise' is correct. Hmm, perhaps I misjudged you. You are more intelligent than your appearance suggests. I will give you some advice, woman. Take a bath. The layer of dirt encrusted on your skin does you no favours. For my next question- another riddle."
"I stand on one leg with my heart in my head. What am I?"
Minsc: "Stands on one leg? Oh! I know this one! An eeeevil pirate! Tell me, is Minsc right?"
Chiyo: "A cabbage."
Eleana: "You are doing rather well. For my last question, I will deviate from the norm. Tonight I am attending a banquet at which I will be presented to many nobles. What stone should I wear with my dress?"
Minsc: "Hmm, you are so pretty that you do not need a stone. But being a witch, you would look best with a Laeral's Tear. They were all the rage in Rashemen. But not in a beserking way, although that is the best kind of rage."
Aerie: "I.. I like the idea of a pearl. White and gleaming... like.. like.. oh, never mind."
Chiyo: "A colourless stone with hidden magic, such as the Laeral's tear."
Eleana: "Your friend is insightful indeed. A Laeral's Tear, though perhaps a little on the tawdry side, truly embodies my nature. How perfect. Beautiful, unassuming, yet intrinsically magical. I tire of this riddle business and so, I suspect, do you. I gladly return 'Boo' to you (Pootles suits him much better, I dare say). He keeps stealing my crackers. The De'Lyls are not too proud to admit their mistakes. I was mistaken about you. Perhaps it is the sad state of your clothing that misled me. But you have proven yourself worthy of my notice. Here, I shall even compete my spell on Poot- nay, 'Boo', for you. Be grateful for this opportunity... it is not everyday that you shall spy a talent such as mine."
She hands over Boo and, as a bonus for getting all the riddles correct, a jade hound figurine that can summon an astral hound.

She leaves, and immediately afterward two Cowled Wizards teleport in and thank the party for getting rid of her without all that annoying bureaucracy.

They ask if Chiyo has bought a magic license, and the conversation goes something like this:
Cowled Wizard: "You have purchased a magic license for 1000 gold pieces, have you not?"
Chiyo: "Actually, it was 5000 gold pieces."
Cowled Wizard: "As I said, 1000 gold pieces."

He gives the party 100 gold pieces.

Cowled Wizard: "Thank you for your assistance in this matter."

Wizards teleport out.
It's possible that one of my mods is affecting this by reducing monetary rewards so I don't become filthy rich too quickly, but I like to think it's because the Cowled Wizards are just complete assholes. And this retroactively justifies cheating in the money for a magic license, since it only affected a single fight.

Before the party takes up the matter of Kalah's lamp, we head back to the docks to check up on this Valygar Corthala that the Cowled Wizards are looking for. Using the magic of Plot, we find his house on the map and enter, finding a servant named Hervo within, who tells me that the wizards came to visit his master with a request, he heard arguing, then fighting, then the wizards came down and told him that Valygar was a wanted murderer, which is really not making the Cowled Wizards look very good here. Chiyo asks where Valygar could have gone, and Hervo says that he has friends among the wilds due to having been a scout and has gone to ground, but if anyone knows, it'll be his old flame Suna Seni at the Copper Coronet in the slums, and Chiyo should talk to her.

Thus fortified with new info, I head out on an entirely different quest to find this "Jafir" character that the circus girl Myarah told me about.

The Magic of the Lamp
I arrive at the city gates and head for the Crooked Crane. On the way, I find a man threatening a merchant and intervene because that's the kind of civic-minded adventurer that Chiyo is. It scares off the man, and the merchant says that he's all bark and no bite, but offers me a price-break on his services anyway, so I buy a spell for Aerie and then enter the inn.

Upstairs, I find a couple named Aulava and Tiiro arguing. The innkeep downstairs had talked about how their being together was a disaster and how everyone who lived near the gates was against their relationship, and the pair are despondently telling each other that everything is doomed and they should give up:
Tiiro: "So, Aulava... that's it then?"
Aulava: "Tiiro... I... I guess so. Nobody wants us together. Guess we shouldn't be."
Tiiro: "That's what... my family says too. I didn't think we did that bad. A few scraps here and there...
Aulava: "It was fun... while it lasted. I guess I have to settle down though."
Tiiro: "Yeah. Father said he can't keep it quiet any longer. Don't know what the fuss is about though. It's not like it's their lives. Guess they're embarrassed."
Aulava: "Yeah... I guess. Hey, looks like we have an audience. Hey you! Get a portrait painted, it lasts longer!"
Chiyo: "I'm Chiyo. I heard about your families trying to split you two up."
Tiiro: "Word certainly gets around. Hear that, Aulava? We're famous."
Aulava: "Your father couldn't keep it totally quiet. I like that. I feel important."
Tiiro: "It is kind of interesting. What did you hear, stranger? What are they saying?"
Chiyo: "It sounded like they were embarrassed that you two were together."
Tiiro: "That's one word for it. Embarrassed, horrified, outright angry."
Aulava: "They don't like the way we act when we're together. They say we'll just end up in trouble and they won't be able to help."
Tiiro: "Not like they've been help so far. They've just had guards following us, making sure we don't do anything wrong. "
Aulava: "Can't watch us all the time though, hmm? We slipped away for a bit. Old man Maunu's barn was never the same."
Tiiro: "Oh hush up you. You know we're not supposed to talk about that. Father kept it quiet."
Aulava: "Maybe I don't want to be quiet. How about you, stranger? Should I be quiet?"
Chiyo: "It sounds like your families think you're not the best influence on each other."
Tiiro: "Well that's true enough, but what do they know? It's not their lives."
Aulava: "I know, I know, but are we ready to go it alone? I mean, your father has kept what we do quiet."
Tiiro: "I know. I'm not sure."
Chiyo: "You seem to know what you want. You don't need to hear it from me."
Aulava: "Yeah. Yeah! The complete and total stranger is right!"
Tiiro: "You know, I think so too. What do we care what others think? This life is too short to worry about it."
Aulava: "Wonderfully short, and getting shorter. Damn them all. Damn them all, let's go for it!"
Tiiro: "You are so right, Aulava! Let's make our time short and sweet! Like we planned! Larger-than-life!"
Aulava: "Thanks Chiyo! We owe this all to you! "
Tiiro: "Absolutely. Damn the parents; we'll let people know what a stranger has done for us!"
Then they leave. I'm pretty sure I just enabled some kind of Faerûnian Bonny and Clyde. Hopefully that doesn't come back and bite me!

In the room next door is Jafir, and as soon as he senses the lamp he starts calling the party "Primes" and gives up the silly charade:
Jafir: "Greetings. I am Jafir, a simple merchant... Wait! I sense you have the lamp, and there are still wishes to be granted. Intriguing... So that foolish Prime Kalah must have met his demise, mwahahaha! There is no point continuing this ruse, mortals. I sold Kalah the lamp knowing the destruction his petty little mind would cause when given access to its power. Now you bring the lamp to me, and why? You do not know how to unlock its secrets. There is a command word, Prime, and that is the key to the lamp. And in case you are foolish enough to try and harm me for it, behold this: my true form!
Jafir reveals that he's actually a rakshasa who gives out the lamp and command word to other people and watches them ruin their lives. He offers to sell the lamp to Chiyo, and being adventurers, I choose Plan B:

Murderhobos gonna murder.

I don't think he did a single point of damage before we beat him into the ground, but before he dies he snarls the command word of the lamp to us--Markesh, the name of the djinni within--and teleports out. Chiyo immediately whips the lamp out and says the command word and Markesh appears.
Markesh: "Ah, the adventurers from the tent, I see. Greetings, mortals... You are neither Kalah nor that despicable rakshasa, I see, so I must assume at least one of them has fallen."
Chiyo: "Yes, Kalah is dead though the rakshasa has left."
Markesh: "Ah, then there is just the matter of the final wish left to attend to."
Chiyo: "One wish? I thought genies were supposed to grant three to each of your masters."
Markesh: "The magic word that calls me from the lamp works only three times, after which I am trapped again and return to the possession of that infernal Rakshasa, with a new word of its choosing. Kalah did indeed make two wishes, though it seems they didn't do him too much good. Pity. For a Prime, he was interesting. Society did seem to take an exception to his kind, causing his unhappiness and ultimate demise. But I digress. You want to know what it was he wished for... His first wish was to be able to command the respect of others, so I granted him a ring, which I would expect you have pilfered. He had the power, then to influence others but didn't know how to do it. People paid him more attention, but that only meant they laughed harder when his magics failed. So, his second wish, made in anger. He wanted sorcerous power, like that of a powerful ogre mage. So, I gave him the power and the body... Though that didn't help either, as you saw. Truth be told, I expected as much when I first posed you the riddle in the tent. Which means, mortals, this last wish is for you. What, then, will your wish be?"
Chiyo: "I wish my childhood friend Imoen was here by my side..."
Markesh: "Your wish is my command... Wait! Intriguing, most strange. My powers cannot seem to accomplish that wish. It seems, Mortal, that I must grant you another instead. What, then, will your wish be?"
Chiyo: "You say you must continue to serve this rakshasa? Then my wish is for your freedom."
Markesh: "You would do this for me? I thank you, mortals... Finally I can return to my home!"
Overjoyed, Markesh banishes the lamp and teleports away, leaving me with the warm fuzzy feeling of a job well done.

Game time elapsed: 11 days, 20 hours
Imoen rescue fund: 3,659/20,000

I'm bad at saving money.

Almost all the quests in this writeup are from the Unfinished Business mod, meaning they were originally going to be in the game and were cut for time. I assumed that Markesh was just Kalah in disguise, and that might be true in an unmodded game, but Unfinished Business makes him a real djinni and the source of Kalah's powers, which is a neat way to wrap up that quest. And the Cowled Wizards are appropriately dickish.

I really need to get better at saving money or I'm never going to free Imoen.  photo emot-sweatdrop.gif

Next: Part VI: The Play's the Thing.
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dorchadas: Pile of Dicedorchadas on June 25th, 2015 04:00 pm (UTC)
It also explains why I keep running into people who attack on sight and fight to the death. They know what they're dealing with.