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28 June 2015 @ 02:32 pm
Dorchadas Plays Baldur's Gate II, Part VI: The Play's the Thing  
The party arrives in the bridge district and almost immediately overhears a group of Athkatlans chatting about the gangguild warfare. A group of Shadow Thieves was found dead nearby with "strange marks" on them, and the war seems to be escalating. Considering what I saw near the city gates and those marks...nah. I'm stumped.

Chiyo questions a nearby halfling fishmonger about the guild war, and while he's dismissive of the "tallies" killing each other he doesn't have any new information, and the party leaves to the sounds of him shouting after them to buy more fish.

The Missing Protagonist
In the Five Flagons Inn, slumming nobles and peasants mingle. One of the nobles says he must have misplaced his signet ring, and Yoshimo points out that maybe this wasn't the best area to be flashing ostentatious jewelry. Samuel and Thalia Thunderburp, the tavernkeep and his wife, tells us about the fabulous performing troupe downstairs, all the way from Sigil, and suggest that we check them out. After a night in the inn's finest quarters, we do so.

The Sigil acting troupe is performing a thrilling tale of true love conquering all odds:

I wonder what "hast" refers to when speaking Common?

...which is somewhat ruined by Biff the Understudy flubbing all his lines. Once the play completely falls apart, Raelis Shai comes out from backstage and apologizes for the performance:
Raelis: "I...I am sorry, good folk of the audience. As you can see, things are not right with our troupe due to circumstances beyond our control."
Minsc: "What is this? Minsc and Boo were just getting into this wonderful story when it was sadly interrupted. A work of mastery, this is!"
Raelis: "I beg of you, good people, come back another day when we have restored matters...we shall prove to you then that the Sigil Troupe is worthy of your attention and coin, and we shall do so for free, of course...and one final...odd...request, good folk. If you...or another...knows of those who are skilled in the arts of sword and adventure...do send them to speak to me. It is a matter of utmost urgency. Tell them to come and speak to I, Raelis Shai. Until then, I apologize again and bid you a fair evening..."
Of course, I immediately answer the call.
Raelis: "Ah, hello? I am afraid if you are looking for a refund for tonight's performance, I can only tell you to come back when our troupe is not in such disarray."
Aerie: "Oh, we're not here to... that is, we've come to help you, if we can. My uncle... well, he's not really my uncle... he seems to know you and asked me to come and see you..."
Raelis: "Then you are certainly welcome here amongst us, dear child. But I am afraid you have me at somewhat of a loss. Who is this uncle you speak of?"
Aerie: "Quayle... his name's Quayle. He raised me in the circus."
Raelis: "Ahhh, yes. The young illusionist gnome. I heard he had come to this city, but had not expected him to reply to my letter so quickly. How does he fair, dear elf?"
Aerie: "The young... ? You must have known him a long time ago, then. Quayle is fine. He is running the circus here in the city, and asked us to come when he received your letter."
Raelis: "If this is so then yon gnome has done far more than I thought possible. A more than fair return for the time I aided him in Sigil. Will you help me, child?"
Aerie: "It... it's more up to Chiyo, really, ma'am. I've been traveling with her, but she's the one with the experience to help you. Maybe you could... tell us what's wrong?"
Raelis: "You must hear our story, then. One of our actors, Haer'Dalis, has been kidnapped by a wizard native to this city... he has made no effort to negotiate with us. The wizard's greed may have called to him at the sight of Haer'Dalis' beloved gem... something our sparrow would not gladly surrender. So this wizard has stolen both away and there is nothing we can do. I would ask that you return our sparrow and his gem to us both, by whatever means possible."
Chiyo: "Who is this wizard and where can I find him?"
Raelis: "His name is Mekrath, I believe...I know that his lair can be accessed through the city's sewers, though where exactly it lies is a mystery."
Chiyo: "I see. I need to gather a large amount of gold to rescue a friend of my own, however, so I would be interested in some kind of reward."
Raelis: "We are but a destitute troupe of players, child, and can afford little. Mekrath may have treasure of his own... wrest it from his grasp if you wish to do so. But coin is e'er on the tongue... I can offer you 300 gold for our sparrow's return. Bring back the gem and I can more than double that. Is that sufficient?"
Chiyo: "I would ask, first, why you do not go to the authorities?"
Raelis: "I am...unsure of your particular customs, but it has never been this Sigil's fortune to be treated fairly by the many city authorities that we have come across. As well, though Haer'Dalis might be released, would the gem be returned? The wizard could say it is his...and we could offer no proof to the contrary. No...we must have our brother and his gem both safely returned, with no questions asked of us due to our strangeness. This is the best way."
Chiyo: "Very well. I shall do as you ask."
Raelis: "Fly, then...fetch our brother away from his captor however you might, and return to us soon. My prayers go with you, my good woman."
I liked that option to ask why the actors don't just go to the guard. It's a problem in a lot of RPGs--why do the authorities tolerate these heavily-armed murderhobos wandering around everywhere and getting into trouble--and seeing it both called out and effectively refuted is nice. The guards of a wizard-ruled city would assume that a valuable gem belonged to a wizard before they would believe an actor owned it. Even if that actor is from Sigil, possibly the center of the multiverse. Why are these people in an inn in the bridge district instead of headlining in the government district, anyway? It makes me wonder if they'd be blasé about angels drinking in bars the way the characters in Planescape: Torment were.

Another quick note--Baldur's Gate II does not fall prey to the common CRPG problem of everyone relevant to the plot having names and everyone irrelevant being called "peasant" or "bandit" or whatever. The Five Flagons has several named patrons who have single-line barks, like the halfling who insults Chiyo for assuming that all halflings are thieves or the cook who shoos the party out of the kitchen, and the rest of the places I've been have plenty of named NPCs as well, so I can't assume that everyone with a name is relevant and everyone else is set dressing. Even in Planescape Torment I could rely on that.

With a choice of tasks before us, all of relatively equal urgency, we decide to undertake the closest one and head to the Temple District, which is much nicer-looking than anywhere we've been in Athkatla so far:

We poke into the temples of Helm and Lathander, gods of guardianship and of dawn and renewal, respectively, and then come on a crowd assembled in the streets. A man named Gaal is insulting the gods:
Gaal: "Listen to me, my brothers and sisters...heed my words. We have been chosen as the recipients of a most holy miracle, one that should neither be dismissed nor ignored! I, Gaal...I, who have been stripped of my eyes most mercifully, have been shown the truth that has eluded the sighted! The gods that you worship are false gods, icons that serve to increase the wealth of churches and heathens! Listen to them not!"
Cleric of Lathander: "Hold! You speak of blasphemy! The Morninglord Lathander has always shown His benevolence and power. His presence among us is unquestionable!"
Gaal: "Is it, priest? I ask all of you to question, for a moment, if what the priest says is true. Yes, his false god grants him power to fuel his spells, much as any wizard might possess. I say that the churches lie to you! They claim their gods are present when they do nothing other than require your coin to fill their pockets!"
Townsperson: "No! What you are saying cannot be true! The gods have ever protected us!"
Gaal: "Is that so? Have they protected you from famine? Have they protected you from disease? Have they wrought harmony upon Faerun? No, they have not! They lie and cloud your sight to gain your worship of their false images! I have stripped myself of their foul eyes and I see what is the truth! The truth, I tell you!"
And you know, he does have a point. Especially if you've read The Avatar Trilogy, it's pretty obvious that the gods of Faerûn range from whining child to mass-murderer on the moral development scale. And if you don't like what they're doing, or think the gods aren't worth worshipping? Too bad, mortal, you have to pick a side or you're stuck in the Wall of the Faithless and either your soul dissolves slowly over eons or its stolen by demons and tormented until a new demon is born. Titanomachy is pretty much a moral imperative for every single person of non-evil alignment in the Forgotten Realms.

Of course, Gaal then ruins this by saying he's got a new deity that's better than all those other deities, and the Unseeing Eye is totally who you want to worship and it'll let you stay up as late as you want, dad. Some of the crowd think this sounds silly, but a few people do fall for it and go off with him. Immediately after that, High Watcher Oisig, having cast detect murderhobo, approaches Chiyo and asks if he can hire her:
Oisig: "This must not come to pass. The everseeing eye of Helm must be made aware of what they intend. You there. You have the look of a of faith. I would ask a service of you. If you perform well you may gain the favor of the Temple of Helm. Follow me to the temple of Helm. I will discuss what is required of you there. Do not take too long; Helm requires you now."
I go there immediately, and Oisig is happy to tell Chiyo his concerns:
Oisig: "Good, you have arrived. Know first that I will give no more trust than you prove worthy of. Despite your fine reputation you are unknown until it is verified by deeds. The task I ask will be treacherous but you seem capable. Serve well and you will be rewarded. Display any treachery and it will be seen. Now to the task. You heard that fool in the street? If what he says is true, it threatens to upset a delicate balance. A new power would only disrupt the way of things. If he is lying, then whatever cult he is proposing can only serve to hurt those it bilks into following him."
Chiyo: "What signs point to this? I would not wish to upset a legitimate faith."
Oisig: "Nothing points to the emergence of a new deity. It would be impossible to hide such an event from the Great Guard that is Helm. What does remain unseen is the fate of those that have chosen to follow. We have lost some of our younger faithful, and they must be accounted for."
Chiyo: "Then I will help as I can. Can you detail what is required?"
Oisig: "He of the Unsleeping Eyes must know of this cult. The blindness they promote is abhorrent to Helm. We ask you to investigate and identify what is happening. The Vigilant One informs that the cult is underground and close, but we cannot see past the sewers. You must infiltrate, as friend or conqueror. The sewer entrances are marked on your map. You must suffer the filth of the sewers to find the filth of the cult. They are not hiding amidst the pipes, so there must be a passage leading further away."
Chiyo: "And what is the payment for this task?"
Oisig: "There will be reward. Do not tax your welcome by demanding it now. You will be given your due when the time is right."
Chiyo: "I will help as best I can."
Oisig: "May the Great Guard give light to all wrongs against you. You may seek healing and tools to aid you here as you need. Ask an acolyte and you will receive. Our resources are thin at the moment, but an ally of Helm and servant of Torm is awaiting you in the sewers now. Seek Keldorn to serve with you. Faith guide you both."
Jaheira: "I am glad that you have chosen this course, Chiyo. This cult stinks of wrongness, an affront against nature that must be stopped!"
Off to the sewers.

The Worst Level in Any Video Game
Two missions in the same place acquired, we head off for the sewers. They're your typical fantasy city sewers: improbably large and filled with an inexplicably large number of enemies. The slimes and carrion crawlers and so on all fall easily beneath the party's blades, but there's a group of kobolds that display intelligent tactics when their shaman uses hold person on the party before other kobolds backstab the now-frozen Chiyo and Minsc from the shadows. They still die easily, because they're kobolds, but at least they tried.

Around the corner is Roger the Fence, who is apparently unfazed by the ninja kobolds nearby:

I'm not sure "location, location, location" applies here.

Roger: "Hmmn. I don't remember seeing you down here before. New customers, perhaps? Me name be Roger. Is there something that you....need?"
Chiyo: "Why are you down here in the sewers?"
Roger: "Down here? Oh, the sewers aren't so terrible. The guards don't be comin' down here, and my customers like to be somewhere... out of sight. 'Tis the beasties that are the biggest problem, especially as of late. There's this sea troll. People have 'em as pets and when they grow too large, they huck 'em down here to torment me."
Chiyo: "What would you give me to take care of your problem?"
Roger: "Well, now, that depends. What are you lookin' for?"
Chiyo: "Coin, of course."
Roger: "I suppose I could part with a few coins for the deed. I tell you what...dispose of the sea troll beastie for me an' I'll be pleased to pay you 500 gold pieces, aye?"
Chiyo: "It's a deal."
Roger: "Good, good. I could use some peace from the nasty devil. Come back when you've done the deed, then. He lives in the southwest corner of the sewers."
So the party continues its mission of scouring the sewers clean of life. The sea troll falls easily, and after seeing Roger's inventory is mostly very expensive potions, I move on. There's another group of ninja kobolds down a different tunnel from Roger than the one I came from that gives the party some trouble until I remember the lesson of De'Arnise Keep and send Xan to cast chaos on them from offscreen. I'm rewarded with a satisfying number of kobold death messages in the combat log, and head in to mop up after all the spellcasters are dead. The rakshasa leading them takes a bit more time until I reconfigure my spell selection to counter his invisibility spell, but once Jaheira casts true seeing he falls as easily as the rest.

In the northwest corner past some city sewer workers is the paladin Keldorn, who slaughters the ghoul he's fighting and then asks us what we're doing in the sewers.
Keldorn: "Halt and go no further laymen! There be a grave evil here, the source of which I have yet to find. Please, forgive the harshness of my tone, but state your business in this place."
Chiyo: "We have been sent by the church to search these depths for missing followers."
Keldorn: "Aye, then we are well met. I am a humble servant of the Most Noble Order of the Radiant Heart, and I believe I am to meet you here. Our quests are linked. The evil of which I spoke, its presence is quite strong and, unsurprisingly, it emanates from somewhere deep below us. Come, let us seal our fates together and seek it out. I was instructed to await the group that I would aid in this matter. It is my duty to serve for the greater good."
Chiyo: "I think it best that we maintain separate paths. May the gods bless and keep you."
Keldorn: "They always have, for some reason. They always have... After your work in this place is done, seek me out at the Order of the Radiant Heart. This city is the heart of much corruption and the work of an old paladin is never done."
Since I've picked out my party, at least for the moment, I declined. Keldorn has a spot in a lot of people's parties, especially those playing with Sword Coast Stratagems, due to the presence of Carsomyr in the game and his kit, Inquisitor, which makes him a lot better at dispelling magic. But there's no way I'm willing to kick out Minsc.  photo emot-colbert.gif

As we head further down the passage, the party's elf senses tingle:

With three elves, this happens every time I get within eyesight of a secret door. They may as well not even build them.

On the other side of the door is a staircase, and on the other side of the staircase is a library guarded by mephits. We've obviously found the sanctum of the kidnapping wizard.

Wizards: Not Actually That Subtle
Mekrath the wizard is in a far room down a hallway, and when we find him and tell him we're here for Haer'Dalis, he asks he why exactly he should return the thief to us.
Mekrath: "What is this? Intruders within Mekrath's domain? What brings you here, foolish woman...speak quickly, for I do not suffer errant fools gladly!"
Chiyo: "I am here to free Haer'Dalis, your captive! Give him to me now!"
Mekrath: "Give you the little thief? Now why should I do such a thing, when he has made me such a perfect little slave, hm?"
Chiyo: "Thief? What are you talking about? He's an actor!"
Mekrath: "Perhaps he is at that, it matters little to me. He stole into my sanctum as a thief...I captured him and it amuses me to keep him as my slave."
Chiyo: "I thought you kidnapped him because of his gem?"
Mekrath: "His gem? Ah...THAT gem. I see what game you are up to, little woman, and it shall not work! I'll not be divested of my gem by thieves and fools!!"
Chiyo: "What are you talking about? What game?"
Mekrath: "I tire of this constant barrage of thievery! You shall not get your hands upon my gem, little woman. Now you shall suffer the other one's fate!!"
I have a feeling that Raelis Shai may not have been entirely truthful with me.

Fortunately, since Yoshimo was talking to him alone since he was checking the hallway for traps, I have him stealth and sneak back down the hall. Mekrath doesn't follow, and I use the time to check out the rest of the complex. In a side room I find two salamanders with a yuan-ti mage, who I dispatch thanks to Aerie's detect invisibility spell and a few combat spells from Xan and Aerie blowing through its stoneskin. In a room past the salamanders is Haer'Dalis, but he stares at the party blankly and robotically says, "I-only-serve-Master-Mekrath." Obviously, I'll have to deal with the wizard before I can proceed.

That turns out to be much easier than I expected after a couple failed head-on confrontations. Yoshimo loads the hallway with traps, then sticks his head around the corner and waves at Mekrath, who loads himself down with protection spells and charges after the bounty hunter. He apparently didn't cast protection from traps, though, and the trapped hallway kills him without me even having to land a blow, after which the magic binding Haer'Dalis ends and he addresses the party. I can see what all those people online who talk about traps being overpowered mean now:
Haer'dalis: "Ahhh...my head spins with sullen fire and strange, lurid notions instead of memories. But...what is this? My captor lies dead...I can feel it!...and the sparrow spies his glorious saviors! Oh, what grand joy! Poetry o'erwhelms this sparrow's heart! 'In a blaze of trumpets, with wicked blades held high, thus came ye fates of chaos to let this sparrow fly!' "
Aerie: "You... you're Haer'Dalis? Raelis sent us... to free you."
Haer'dalis: "You are with Raelis? Well, well, well...my hide may yet be saved. Come, let me join with you and we shall be done with the foul humors of this place."
Chiyo: "I was hired to rescue you and I doubt Raelis would be pleased to find I'd stolen you into my own fold."
Haer'dalis: "Honor-bound and honor-branded, then, is it? Very well, lawyer, you have set me free and for that I thank you. But within this wizard's lair is an altar containing a most necessary gem that dear Mekrath stole from me. Find it and bring it to me at Raelis' side where we may discuss your foolish contract further."
He makes his way back to the Five Flagons Inn, telling us to bring the gem, which we find in an altar in one of the rooms. It's labeled "Portal Stone."

Something tells me this doesn't actually belong to Haer'Dalis...

Having played Planescape: Torment, I'm pretty sure I know why the Sigil troupe wants this now, but I have other tasks down here to take care of first. Like looking the sanctum. For a powerful wizard, there isn't actually much treasure, but I do find a robe of fire resistance that I give to Xan, a harp of discord that would be great if I were going to keep Haer'Dalis on permanently, and a rod of resurrection that I'm sure will sell for a pretty penny. After a rest in Mekrath's bedroom to further rub it in, the party heads back out to where we found Keldorn and heads to sell off the loot.

On the way out, we run into a group of thugs led by Tarnor the Hatchetman, who demands payment for the privilege of passing through. We refuse, and a couple reloads later--hey, their wizard kept summoning cornugons on me--I beat them though the time-tested combo of chaos, entangle, ice storm, Yoshimo's traps, and Minsc and Chiyo's weapons. One of them drops a helm of charm protection, which Chiyo immediately rams on Minsc's head so he'll stop getting mind controlled during battle, and various other small items are also distributed among the party.

After exiting the sewer and selling the loot, the party heads to the Copper Coronet to buy a room. That night, Jaheira wakes Chiyo up with a nightmare:
Jaheira: "nnn...No! NO!! Wh...what?"
Chiyo: "Restless dreams. I have them myself on occasion."
Jaheira: "Do you? Yes, you have lost people close to you, as well. It is awful, isn't it, to watch as people die again in your mind."
Chiyo: "Awful, yes, but it reminds you of what you've lost."
Jaheira: "And what you still have. Wise words. From Alaundo, are they not? Thank you for the reminder."
Chiyo tactfully does not bring up the rod of resurrection that they pawned off hours before for 3,000 gold.

Thus fortified, the party returns to the temple district and enters the lair of the Unseeing Eye.

Losing My Religion
The cult compound looks pretty good compared to the rest of the sewers. Yoshimo sneaks along the walls, looking for traps or signs of life, and narrowly escapes death as a bunch of hell hounds and shadows appear all around him. He narrowly makes it back to the entrance, where the party dispatches the summoned monsters.

The only other door is locked and unpickable, and past the hellhounds and the ramshackle bridge patrolled by shadows, Yoshimo finds a suspicious round room with a wheel in the center. Trying to sneak around triggers a trap that summons poison gas and vampiric mists, and Yoshimo again barely makes it out by sprinting for the wheel, turning it, and leading the mists back to the rest of the party.

The next room has Gaal and his bodyguards, and he imperiously informs the party that only those who serve the Unseeing Eye may enter.
Gaal: "Hold, you tread on sacred ground! Only those who serve the Unseeing Eye may enter. I am Gaal, High Priest of the One God."
Chiyo: "Who is this 'Unseeing Eye' of yours?"
Gaal: "The Unseeing Eye has brought us enlightenment. Only by removing our eyes can we remove the veil of lies and deceit clouding our lives. He is the most ancient and wise of the race you might know as 'beholders'. We servants have flocked to him gladly, and his mighty power protects us. You would be wise to serve him as we do."
Aerie: "A... beholder? Beholders are incredibly powerful and smart! They have magic in their eyes... or, or they're supposed to. I've never heard of an eyeless beholder, myself..."
Gaal: "Without his eyes, the One God is stronger, not weaker. He has made mountains tremble and easily destroyed those fools who have come seeking his destruction. Only those who serve Him are safe always."
Chiyo: "Alright...so how does one become a servant?"
Gaal: "The One God has demanded that his disciples achieve a higher state of wisdom... you must remove that which is limiting and offensive. The unholy eyes are removed from your head during the sacred initiation. If you survive and are proven faithful, the Unseeing Eye accepts you into service."
Chiyo: "What if I'm not interested in having my eyes removed?"
Gaal: "Hmmmn. It is a sign of weakness to refuse the enlightenment. Would you walk about willingly without arms, without feet? I do not think so. Still, the Unseeing Eye could use the skills of one such as yourself. An exception... could, perhaps, be made in your case. There is... something that you could do that the great one cannot, despite His vast power. Assist in that and I will admit you into our ranks and into the Unseeing One's presence, yes?"
Chiyo: "Tell me what it is and I'll consider it."
Gaal: "These holy grounds are part of a larger, ancient structure... dangerous if one ventures into the lower levels. The Unseeing Eye knows of a valuable item in this area."
Xan: "Of course. Wherever Chiyo goes, there is an artifact and a mission which awaits her and her alone. How convenient. You will delay the plucking of our eyes until our return, I presume?"
Gaal: "If you were to venture below you could prove your worth by retrieving this artifact for Him. Do this and I will allow you into our ranks and the One's divine presence."
Chiyo: "How would I get to these lower levels?"
Gaal: "I have a key I can give you... this will allow you entrance to the inner chambers through a door a short distance back the way you came, at the sewer passages."
Chiyo: "Very well, I shall do as you suggest."
Gaal: "You are worthy in my eyes, faithful one. Here is the key. Once you have the rod, bring it to me and together we shall present it to the Unseeing Eye."
Yoshimo: "Hmmmn. It seems to me that if this task cannot be performed by a beholder or its minions that we are in for a chore, indeed. Best to proceed most cautiously, Chiyo."
Gaal's detect murderhobo finally triggered!

The area specified is past the door that the group couldn't open previously, and past a trapped hallway the party meets a blind man named Sassar, who claims to be an old high priest of the Unseeing Eye but says he was expelled when he learned the true depths of the beholder's evil. When he learns that we're here to retrieve an artifact, he exclaims that we cannot give it to the beholder, since it already has the other half of the rod it seeks:
Chiyo: "The church has bid me investigate the cult, but I also seek a rod from below."
Sassar: "No! You must not do this! You cannot give the rod to the beholder, my lady! It is an artifact of immense power!"
Chiyo: "Why not? What do you know about this rod?"
Sassar: "When I was the high priest for the Unseeing Eye, I discovered that its purpose for coming here was to gain the powerful artifact below. It is an item of such destructive power that the gods themselves determined it should not be used again. It was split in two and this half was secreted here."
Xan: "Chiyo, do not tell me that we are going down below to retrieve both of these artifacts and reassemble this... this..."
Sassar: "The rod is an artifact of immense power and danger, my lord."
Xan: "Exactly."
Sassar: "It is protected against intrusion by powerful magic and beasts that live in the caverns. Many of the beholder's followers have perished trying to retrieve it. I know, my lady, that the beholder has the other half of the rod! If he were to acquire this half, he would be capable of wreaking terrible destruction!"
Chiyo: "If this is true, then the cult must be destroyed. I shall not retrieve the rod."
Sassar: "No, my lady, the exact opposite is true! If you are able to retrieve this rod, you must do so!"
Chiyo: "Why? I thought you said the beholder cannot get ahold of this item?"
Sassar: "We tried to get the second half of the rod ourselves, to use its destructive power to defeat the beholder. That is the only way to destroy the creature. The beholder has failed to acquire the rod because the gods have cursed the item. This lets you determine the artifact's true worth... or threat. Would you...would you be willing to go below and retrieve the artifact, my lady?"
Chiyo: "Can this half of the rod work without the other half?"
Sassar: "No, that is true. The beholder's half must be stolen for the power to be used. I know of a way to do this. Retrieve the first half and I shall tell you of it."
Chiyo: "Very well...I shall return as soon as I am able."
Sassar: "I am most grateful, my lady. We have tried, but our blindness limits us. This chamber we are in is safe...so long as the sarcophagus is not opened. I would ask that you do not try to open it yourself... I sense great evil from it. And I do wish my brethren and I to remain safe, here. Oh, I pray that my god will someday forgive my great trespass and restore my sight! Be careful in the levels below, and remember that the gods will likely not allow one to take the artifact for themselves for long. Remember that! Godspeed!"
The sarcophagus they're talking about is pretty obvious.

The room may as well have "danger, radioactive!" signs all over it.

Somewhat paranoid now, I have Minsc discretely cast detect evil, and while the various guards and Gaal all show up, Sassar and his friends do not, so I assume they're the more trustworthy group and head down the hallway, past the shadows and the single wraith, past the secret door Yoshimo finds that none of the party can open and, after restoring the level that Minsc lost to the wraith's life-draining touch, descend into the depths.

Game time elapsed: 14 days, 1 hour
Imoen rescue fund: 14,112/20,000

I don't remember any of this from my previous playthroughs of Baldur's Gate II. I remember the first time I loaded up the Throne of Bhaal expansion after I got it, to see if I could just start there and skip the boring part in Shadows of Amn--the answer is no, because I didn't even get halfway through the game and had no context for anything in Throne of Bhaal--but one of the people in my party was Haer'Dalis, and I remember thinking how cool he sounded. Not this playthrough, though. I've already got my party picked out.

I don't understand why fantasy cities build these incredibly elaborate sewer systems that entire groups of people can walk around in comfortably and then let them get overrun with carrior crawlers, oozes, kobolds, and rakshasas. The odd otyugh I could understand, but there's a whole menagerie down there. Well, at least there was before Chiyo and her party went through like a gelatinous cube, cleansing the sewers of all that they found and hoovering up the loot. You can see the results of that in Imoen's rescue fund total, which I managed not to blow on new adventuring gear only because the gear I wanted was mostly too expensive for me. Dak'kon's zerth blade for Chiyo? Someday...

Also, I can see I'm either going to have to resolve not to trap everything, or just accept that traps are going to be doing huge amounts of my damage and win through supreme cheese. Some of it is just that Sword Coast Stratagems imposes a "spellbreaking tax," in that most NPC wizard start with improved invisibility, sanctuary, protection from normal missiles, and a bunch of spells pre-casted, and I have to spend a few rounds stripping those spells off before I can hurt them. That makes sense, but it happens ever time, and I'd like some variety rather than every NPC all knowing and using the same protection spells. This is more of a problem with D&D's lack of themed spell lists rather than anything innate to Baldur's Gate II, though. The way to fix that is to strip out D&D's magic system and add something more like Greg Stolze's Reign, but at that point I'm changing the game into unrecognizability and I don't think that's in the scope of possible WeiDU mods anyway.

Oh well. Fight fire with fire.  photo emot-hellyeah.gif

Next: Part VII: Dies Eyerae.
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Baldur's Gate I - Hero of the Heartlands (Scott Buckley OC ReMix)