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22 December 2015 @ 01:23 pm
Dorchadas Plays Baldur's Gate II, Part XIV: The Planar Sphere  
The Umar Hills Inn does still have all the stuff I left on the floor there, but I had forgotten what it was and it turns out it's all old quest items, because Baldur's Gate II is early enough that it doesn't automatically clear out quest items after you're done with the quest. I check the merchants, who don't have anything exciting, and spend a bit of time talking to the townspeople. They thank me for solving the problems and for making peace with the ogres, though they're worried about ogres walking through town. And I can't really blame them. I mean, ogres eat people and they're twice as big as humans. This is why I'm not usually a fan of metaphors for actual subaltern human groups that rely on fantastic creatures to make the point. It's worst with vampires, who literally drink the blood of the innocent and can take over people's minds, but generally anything that's hugely different from humanity is a bad choice.

That's neither here nor there, though.

While in town, night falls and Aerie begs Chiyo to rest for a while:
Aerie: "Please...it is so dark and late, and I am so tired... Is there no chance that we might stop and rest for a while?"
Chiyo: "Certainly. We shall set up camp right here."
Aerie: "Thank you... I...I'll try not to be such a bother. I'm just...unused to traveling in such darkness..."
I'm starting to see why there are people who are uncomfortable with the Aerie romance questline and Aerie in general (example: "Depending on your point of view, she is a haunting character trying to overcome childhood abuse to become a person who can make a difference in the world, or an unbelievably whiny self-absorbed brat."). She's the kind of character who is often presented as needing "fixing," and that can go bad places pretty quickly.

In the morning, we head north of town to Valygar's cabin, and I kick Yoshimo out of the party and pick him up. I keep Yoshimo around for thieving things, but in combat he mostly just does archer, and since Valygar is a ranger he can probably fulfill that slot better than Yoshimo can. Yoshimo leaves and tells Chiyo to meet him at the Copper Coronet, and I give Valygar Yoshimo's bracers of archery and the Elven Court bow that Minsc has been carrying around for a while. The combination gives him a THAC0 of 3 at level 9, which is actually really great. I can have him stand in the back and shoot arrows and it'll be like Yoshimo never even left. Valygar also has a great set of armor that, sadly, only he can wear.

Preparations complete, I return to Athkatla, pop into the Copper Coronet to make sure that Yoshimo is there (he is), and then head to the northwest part of the area.

The Planar Sphere
When I walk up to the sphere, Valygar speaks up:
Valygar: "Yes...this is it, this is the planar sphere here in the slums. We should...climb the stairs and find some manner of entrance. If I am right, my blood, my presence should open the sphere."
Immediately after that, Xan speaks to Valygar:
Xan: "We...we are to enter this thing in a moment, are we not?"
Valygar: "Yes. Is something the matter?"
Xan: "No, nothing. I am simply saying my farewells to the sky."
Valygar: "Perhaps I should do the same."
Xan: Sighs. "Perhaps."
Valygar: "Now, shall we?"
Xan: "Yes. Yes, of course. Seldarine, my legs are leaden."
Valygar: "Xan, do not tell Chiyo...but mine are too."
Xan: "Oh. Why, I feel much better now."
Valygar: "I thought you would. Come, let's go."
Looks like Valygar will fit right in.

I walk up and open the door, proving Valygar right, and after I enter I find myself elsewhere:

Through the airlock is another room with doors left, right and straight ahead. I take the left door and end up in a small room with a golem that casts haste on itself and proceeds to nearly rip Chiyo to shreds before I can kill it. She has 3 hp left when it dies, and I pour some healing into her and then have Minsc check the chests. Two of them are locked, so I reconfigure Chiyo's spells since knock can open locked chests, and then rest to memorize spells and heal. During the night, Aerie and Valygar discuss theology:
Aerie: "Valygar, can... can I ask you something? A kind of personal question?"
Valygar: "What is the question? You can ask, though I may not answer."
Aerie: "I understand you do not--do not believe in the gods?"
Valygar: "I believe in them. Only a fool wouldn't. I don't worship them, however."
Aerie: "But they created us. Don't you think we owe them--"
Valygar: "If you give someone a gift, and say nothing of repayment at the time, would you ask for payment later?"
Aerie: "Of course not."
Valygar: "No, most people would consider you quite petty if you did. Why should we mortals be held to higher standards than gods? If my life belongs to anyone or anything besides myself, then certainly I owe no one anything for it."
Aerie: "I--I suppose that makes sense. But why would you wish to reject the gods? My faith kept me from going mad when I was in the circus. Now Baervan comforts me with the knowledge that I am not alone, and helps keep me on the path of good."
Valygar: "Aerie, what's it mean to believe in the gods? Certainly, there are beings of great power... with their own skewed morals and supposed wisdom. At some level they are responsible for this world and everything in it, including me. But look at some of them--like Talos, Cyric, and Shar. Tell me that these gods are in any way morally superior to mortals. If there are evil gods, then gods are not necessarily good. If there are mad gods, then gods are not necessarily wise. If some gods are former mortals, then I need more reason to offer my worship than the simple fact that gods exist. It has been a long time since I needed companionship, and even with what I've learned since joining Chiyo, I have more faith in my own conscience than I would in the whims of some deity."
Aerie: "I think I understand. Thank you for answering my questions, Valygar."
Valygar: "Of course, Aerie. Glad I could help."
And you know, he's got a point. It's the major problem I have with Forgotten Realms cosmology--finding a balance between good and evil is an evil act because by doing so, you're promoting evil.

In the morning, Chiyo uses her new magic selection to open the other chests. Along with a bunch of scrolls, some coal, and a key to the planar sphere, I find the arm to a golem. I'm not sure how I can tell that it's a golem's arm, but I take it anyway because this is a CRPG and that's got to be useful for something.

The door on the other side has a magical map of Athkatla and a single steam mephit, but is otherwise empty. Then I head over to the central door, and, when I activate it, the game tells me that Chiyo inserts the lever and pulls and then this happens:

That's not good.

Now I remember why I ended up quitting the last time I tried to play Baldur's Gate II! I got stuck in the Planar Sphere after activating that lever, couldn't kill some monster along the way, and quit in disgust. But this time I am filled with determination!

With nowhere else to go, I go through the door and into the next room, where three people in armor demand to know who Chiyo is:
Reyna: "Stranger, identify yourself before you come any closer."
Chiyo: "Chiyo. It appears that I am as trapped as you and your companions."
Reyna: "Trapped indeed. I am Reyna. Myself and my fellow Knights of Solamnia, Onvo and Anca have been imprisoned in this strange dungeon for a long time."
Chiyo: "Knights of Solamnia?"
Reyna: "We are the knights of honor and Good upon Ansalon, a world so far removed from this one."
Chiyo: "Are there any traps up ahead that I should be wary of?"
Reyna: "Traps? No, but in the dark rooms of this place I have witnessed horrors. These terrors I am loath to discuss but if it helps your cause then I shall. When we first arrived here, my fellow Knights and I thought to explore our new surroundings. I wish we hadn't. To the west we were ambushed by small creatures, children in size but not in appetite. We were hard pressed to battle our way out of the trap."
Chiyo: "Perhaps they were halflings?"
Reyna: "Halflings? If halflings seek to rip and rend the flesh from your body, to swallow your flesh and suck the marrow from your bones, then halflings they may be. You must be careful if you encounter them. They are crafty and the worthy foe of any Knight. Fare thee well."
Of course she doesn't know if they're halflings or not. Krynn doesn't have halflings. And Lilarcor takes this very opportune moment to start laughing hysterically.

A Pain in the Athas
I head through the door and it turns out that they are halfings--Athasian halflings from the Dark Sun setting (incidentally, my favorite D&D setting of all time). They chug roughly two dozen potions--I guess the potion consortium has outposts in the Tyr Region as well--and attack. I slice through the first group pretty easily, and the second group but beyond them, among blasted terrain and rude skin huts, I find a group of halfling spellcasters and their bodyguards:

After one attempt where I almost kill them until one of the wizards gets off a symbol of stunning and stuns the entire party and another where a summoned cornugon teleports next to Aerie and Xan and murders them before I can react, plus a few more on top of that because all the save-or-die spells flying around means that every fight is rocket tag, I kill off the halflings and loot the bodies, finding a strange surfeit of metal armor, more coal, and a set of gauntlets of ogre power which I give to Jaheira, raising her strength from 15 to 18/00. There's also a bow called Ripper, but it's not as good as the Elven Court bow so it goes into the sack.

I walk through the fragment of Athas and open the door to the next room and find it filled with spiders, thus proving the Planar Sphere's Gygaxian bona fides. On a table is more coal and a "Golem-Building Book," describing a golem used to clear the Planar Sphere of the monsters it picks up while traveling through the multiverse, and a machine with a partially-built iron golem in it. Chiyo deposits the golem arm she found in the machine and then I take another door out of the room...which leads to a door with a plot-lock, so I use the other door and find more cannibal halflings and their wizards. One of them drops the Stiletto of Demarchess, which sounds like it would be great if I had anyone who used daggers.

Let me say again that one of the best parts of Baldur's Gate II is the way that almost the magic items have a backstory and aren't just a Sword +3. Most of the +1 items are generic--though not all of them, see flametongue--but anything more powerful than that has a name and a few notes about it. It's a big part of the reason why I'm finding it hard to get rid of all these items I keep picking up, because they aren't just generic hunks of metal. They have names. They have names.

It's something I need to keep in mind for my own games, really.

The room where those halflings were has three furnaces arranged radially around a central point:

And fortunately I have three sets of coal, so I throw them in. Each one spawns a fire elemental, which I kill, and then...nothing happens. Well, onward, I guess.

The next room is filled with golems.  photo emot-orks.gif After three tries where the clay golems cast haste on themselves, slow on my party, and murder Chiyo in three hits, I finally take them down by having Xan summon some gnolls and distracting the golems with cannon fodder. The clay and stone golems dead, I head over into the next room and kill the iron golem, who was stuck there because it couldn't make it through the door, by summoning a nishruu to bait its attacks and having hasted Jaheira, Minsc, and Chiyo beat it to scrap metal. The room has a giant clockwork mechanism and a small chest containing a golem's head, more coal, and a few gems. I go back and add the golem head to the assembler and then, with nowhere else to go, retrace my steps to the Solamnic Knights.

Through the other door is a room with a wavy blue tile pattern and a bunch of sahaugin, who are understandably pissed off at the complete lack of water anywhere nearby. Jaheria's insect plague sends most of them scurrying around for cover and makes them pretty easy to mop up, though Chiyo and Minsc nearly die from poison and I have to pour healing spells and potions into them to keep them alive. When that's done, I loot the bodies, don't find any other doors in the room, and then head back to the door I couldn't open before, but it's still locked.

To shorten things, it turns out what I need to do is click on the disassembled golem again to assemble it. It barks out that an intruder has been detected and runs off toward the door, unlocking it along the way. It runs through a room with four runes and an orbiting sphere in the center and into another room where the golem's intruder is--an elder orb!

I'm ready for an epic battle, but the golem runs over and does 64 damage to it with the first attack of the first round of combat. None of my party members even take any damage. After it's dead, the golem says that there are no more intruders and shuts down, and I keep going deeper into the sphere.

Guilty of Lichcraft
In the next room is the source of all this trouble--Lavok, Valygar's ancestor:

When I approach, he excoriates me for setting the Planar Sphere traveling again:
Lavok: "You! You are the ones who have caused the sphere to travel once again! You fools!! I was close to escaping!!"
Valygar: "Lavok!"
Lavok: "You will die, mortals! You and your kind have stood in my way for far too long!!"
Valygar: "You will not pass! I shall fulfill my family's vow and end your hideous life once and for all!"
Lavok: "You understand nothing, mortal! I am not who you seek...this be merely the body! And your intrusion has caused the sphere to leap back to my own dimension!! I have been denied the material plane! I will have my revenge!!"
And then he goes hostile. I say "goes hostile" because he doesn't actually attack, he just lets Chiyo hit him until he's almost dead, then he "snaps out of it" and claims that the force that has been possessing him is gone:
Lavok: "Wh-where am I? The...the force that possessed me is...is gone?"
Valygar: "What is this, some manner of trick?"
Lavok: "Who might you be? I...I can barely see you..."
Valygar: "I am your descendant, Lavok. I am Valygar Corthala, and I will not allow you to take my body to extend your life. Since you yet live, I shall end it now!"
Lavok: "Corthala...yes, I remember this now. My family. Oh, I am dying, Valygar Corthala, of that you can be certain. Nothing would bring me greater relief."
Valygar: "Eh? I warn you, necromancer, I shall not be fooled!"
Lavok: "Nor do I intend to fool you, young one. I have been imprisoned in my own mind by that strange force for half an eternity. Death would be a blessing."
Valygar: "Are you trying to tell me that you are not evil? That you are not the sorcerer who preyed upon his own family as a ghoul would, whose legacy has haunted my family always?"
Lavok: "No, no. I am he. I am all those things that you have said and more. I have spent half an eternity keeping that force from prying the secrets of the sphere from my mind. I could not unleash it upon...my home. Thank you for ending its existence."
Valygar: "And this should redeem you for all you have done? I say it is a fitting punishment!"
Lavok: "Indeed it is. I have had years of pain and anguish to consider my sins. I can offer to you nothing other than my sorrow, Valygar, if I have brought you pain."
Valygar: "I..."
Lavok: "If I could call it all back... Ah...if I could go back and convince the man I once was that the sphere was a mission of pride doomed to failure. But I cannot. Death shall release me soon enough from my overlong life."
Xan: "Oh, yes. Alas, years of pain are far more capable of bringing out the good in a man than the pleas of his victims or the severity of the law." Sighs. "It is an ironical world."
Lavok: "I would ask one thing of you, Valygar Corthala, although I know you have no reason to grant it to me."
Valygar: "I...I don't...what would you ask of me?"
Lavok: "I would wish to see the sky of my homeworld one final time. To be at peace, knowing that I have died in the place I was born so long ago. I am dying...and I wish to die there. Under my own sun. In return...in return I shall tell you how to return the sphere to our own plane. I...I am glad that you entered the sphere when you did. I was able to keep from the force...the fact that the sphere had a defense against intrusion. It would automatically travel to another plane... A trap...that would allow me to deal with the intruders...at will. But...that was another time. Bring me home, Valygar Corthala, and I will tell you how..."
Valygar: "This...this is not a trick?"
Lavok: "It is no trick, my descendant. I have no strength left for tricks, nor any desire. I humbly beg it of you."
Valygar: "You are not the man I expected, Lavok. I...I shall do as you ask."
Lavok: "Very well. The sphere...the sphere is powered by the heart of a powerful demon. Our last trip, now, would have depleted the power source of the last heart the sphere had... You need to go out into the plane... and acquire the heart of another demon. I... know not how, but you must... Bring the heart to the engine room of the sphere and place it inside the golem there...and I will pre-set the controls while you are gone. But go quickly, Valygar...there are things that will stir in the planes and take notice of the sphere now that it is here! Go! And I...will try to hang on long enough..."
A demon's heart. Oh, is that all?

Looking at the layout of the room, I'm pretty sure that this is the fight I couldn't beat on my last playthrough. I don't know what it is that made him not attack me this time, but in the interests of me actually beating Baldur's Gate II, I won't complain about it too much.

There are two other doors out of the room. I go out of one of them and find a myconid-filled garden with no other exits, and then come back to the main room. The first time this happened, I came back and found that Lavok was dead, because he's scripted to survive the fight no matter what unless a single condition is met. Due to programmer oversight, if you cast a damage over time spell on him, leave the room before it expires, and then come back, he dies. This happened to me and I had to reload because without him I have no way of getting out of the sphere. Fortunately I have good save hygiene and didn't have to do any console shenanigans...

The northern door has a group of lizardmen standing around in what looks like some kind of weird science fantasy stasis chamber, and when I kill them I find the Protection of the Second, a battle axe +2, and a ninja-to +1, all of which are worthless.

With no other doors, I head back the way I came to the runes-on-the-floor room, looting a couple of caches of scrolls along the way through timely pressing of the tab key revealing their locations. When I get there, I find out that there are no clues. Just a guessing game.

...a guessing game where if you guess wrong you get fireballed. Screw trial and error, I look it up. It's top, bottom, right, left, by the way.

Though the door in the south is a set of stairs, and down the stairs in the next room is...Tolgerias, the Cowled Wizard who told me to do this task in the first place! He chides me for betraying him--which, to be fair, is absolutely what I'm doing--and then attacks:
Tolgerias: "Fools! Did you believe that you could betray the Cowled Wizards with impunity?! Now you will be rewarded with nothing but death and Valygar will be ours!"
Valygar: "Never!! You shall never have me and you shall never have your precious sphere!"
Tolgerias: "Idiot! You should have ran much further! We have followed through the doors you opened, using you as we saw fit! Now suffer our wrath!"
Things are going well until Tolgerias casts time stop and then ZA WARUDOs the party. Chiyo dies pretty much instantly when the spell wears off. I guess I need to rethink my strategy.

This fight becomes pretty frustrating and is evidence of one of the major problems with Sword Coast Stratagems's design. See, in Baldur's Gate II, most of the mages' levels were set 5-10 level about the area where they were supposed to be to compensate for their terrible AI, but they weren't assigned spells of some of the higher levels. That way they had enough spells that wasting a few wouldn't matter, but you didn't have, say, mages casting time stop on a quest designed to be done by 12-14th level characters. SCS adjusts AI and spell selection and does not adjust mage levels, hence a lot of reloads.

There's a verisimilitude issue about enemies being buffed with a half-dozen spells which all have a duration of less than a minute, but I can accept that as countering how I use knowledge from an alternate timeline to buff before I fight bosses.

In the end, after a dozen attempts ruined by time stop, Abi-Dalzim's horrid wilting, meteor swarm, or summoned fallen planetars (a tenth level spell!), I get sick of playing fair and decide to solve things the murderhobo way. I have Chiyo and Minsc drink potions of frost giant strength, Xan casts haste on them, and then Aerie buffs them with improved invisibility. They run into the room and, before Tolgerias knows what's hit him, cut him to ribbons. After that, mopping up his apprentice is easy. He drops a Ring of the Ram, which I toss on Minsc because why not?

I feel a little better about this attempt, though, because when I ran into the room Tolgerias shouted, "Show yourself! You cannot hide from a mage!" and started casting something...but not fast enough!  photo emot-black101.gif

As Chiyo searches the room, Valygar strikes up a conversation with her:
Valygar: "I am curious. How much experience have you had with magic?"
Chiyo: "I have had considerable encounters with magic throughout my travels, Valygar, if that's what you mean."
Valygar: "So you, too, are drawn into its wake? Sometimes I believe that my life is so caught up with magic that there will never be an escape from its foul presence."
Chiyo: "What do you mean?"
Valygar: "I told you of Lavok: His influence did not end with his disappearance. Like a curse, my family has been afflicted with magic, and it has brought us only ill."
Chiyo: "Why do you consider it a curse?"
Valygar: "It is a curse because magic twists the soul. Once you begin, you put aside concerns of life. There is never enough books, scrolls, or time to study spells. Soon one can challenge the boundaries of life and death. The unnatural becomes commonplace, and before you realize, you are on a path that only leads ruin. Perhaps it is fortunate that I am the last of my line. It might be fitting that the family and the fortune that paved the path both end with Lavok's death."
Chiyo: "That's terrible. All your family is gone?"
Valygar: "They either killed each other in their pursuits or have been...dealt with. It was not a large family anyway...few sorcerers see the need for a family life. And those that do are rarely happy with it. No, no...it is very likely best that I am the last of us. A sad thing, but true enough. But enough talk. We should be going."
Yeah, Valygar is cool and all, but this is one of the reasons I'm going to swap him back for Yoshimo. Right now, he's in a party with Chiyo, Xan, Aerie, and Jaheira, all of whom are spellcasters. He likes wizards less than clerics, but he's a misotheist (re: the early conversation with Aerie), so he doesn't like either of them much. I guess he can hang out with Minsc?

Hot Potato, Cold Potato
There are three doors out of the north side of the room. One of them is covered in a thick sheet of what I thought was stone, but turns out to be ice, and on the other side are a bunch of snow trolls, winter wolves, and ice mephits, and some kind of weird cold machine that's freezing everything:

Wizards, man. I was going to write a rant here about how games never let you be the crazy madman who builds the nonsensical tower of sorcery, except they totally do.

In the room is a helm of defense, which I give to Jaheira, and then I go out and take one of the other doors. This leads to a fire room filled with hell hounds, fire mephits, and a noble efreeti, which come approximately 10x closer to killing me than the ice room does, but in the end I take them down without a reload through copious use of healing potions. The machine in the center of the room has a worthless (to me) magical shield and a Staff of Fire, which I know that Cromwell can combine with the Staff of Air and one other such Staff to make a Staff of the Elements, so I keep that.

North of the rooms of fire and ice is a room suspended over water with a giant statue in the center that must be the engine room. A clay golem spawns while I'm exploring and I kill it, and I find a couple gems in a cache on the north end. When I leave through the other door, more golems spawn, but I get out before they can do more than damage me a bit. I'll have to deal with them later, I guess. I head back out and cast knock on the third door and get a note that it leads to storage room and there's no point in going that way. This strikes me as crazy--we're murderhobos, looting storage areas is what we do--but there's no way to open it, so with nowhere else to go, I head back to the front door of the Planar Sphere and find that now it opens on to the Abyss.

I wander around a bit, killing imps, and pretty soon come on one of my targets:

Immediately after I took this screenshot the demon summons a dozen quasits, making the fight a bit more difficult than I was expecting. Fortunately, that's the only complication--the demon just teleports around and does physical attacks, so it's just a matter of keeping everyone healed while I pour damage into it. The whole party is nearly dead, but I have my demon heart. After ducking back into the Planar Sphere to rest--no way I'm setting up camp in the Abyss--I head back out to see what else is out there.

In the central area of this part of the Abyss, past some more imps and maurezhi, I find another demon. This one doesn't summon anything and so, other than the attempt where it casts vampiric touch on Chiyo and then gibs her, it's easy. I head back to the Planar Sphere, rest again, and head out on the hunt one more time. Near where I found the last demon, I find another one, this time with a name--Lae'liyl. It casts death gaze, but Chiyo manages to resist and runs back to the rest of the group. Lae'liyl teleports over, leaving its maurezhi guards behind, and I cut it to shreds. The first maurezhi shows up right as Lae'liyl dies, and they're easy. Now I have three demon hearts, so it's all the way back through the Planar Sphere to the engine.

The Heart of the Sphere
I walk into the engine room and find it's filled with golems. There are a bunch of clay golems lead by iron golems...and the iron golems are in front. On narrow catwalks. Which means that they can't move and they're blocking the path for the clay golems, which means no one can get to me.

Missing from this screenshot is the twitching dance party as the golems try to move.

I hang back and pour spells into them, but golems have so many immunities and resistances that it's slow going. In AD&D 2e, golems are basically DM grudge monsters, like rot grubs, ear seeker, or lock lurkers, except with a more obvious mythic basis. For example, iron golems are totally immune to all magic except that lightning attacks slow them and fire attacks heal them. Does that make sense? Why doesn't heat metal work? Because fuck you, that's why.

Anyway, because of that, I'm not bothered when I leave the room to rest, come back, and find that the golems have shifted positions and I have a clear path to the engine. Chiyo walks over, sticks in the heart, and we all leave and head back to Lavok.

Chiyo picks up Lavok and carries him outside, under the night sky, and as he dies, he gives Chiyo the Planar Sphere:
Lavok: "Ah, it is the sky, after all. I had forgotten how it looked after so long. I thank you...and I wish to repay you for your kindness...I sense within you a power and ability similar to my own, yes? You are a mage. Yes, I am correct. Take the planar sphere, mage. I grant it to you, in payment for my release. Use it...use it far more wisely than I ever did..."
After he dies, Valygar muses:
Valygar: "He is dead. Lavok the necromancer is finally dead. I can scarce believe it. My family's vow has been fulfilled, and I am now safe, and yet I feel no satisfaction. I had no idea that it would be like this. Could he actually have been redeemed? After all that time? Did he actually fight that demon to prevent it from escaping the sphere? If you had asked me such a question even a day ago, I would have answered that such redemption was impossible. Now I'm not so sure. I think, perhaps, that I do not know all that I think I do. I have not seen as much of the world as I thought I did. A disturbing realization.:
He then asks to keep traveling with me, and I say that I cannot promise how long it will be.

I then head to the Copper Coronet, bid farewell to Valygar, pick Yoshimo back up, and the party sleeps in real beds for the first time in days.

Game time elapsed: 45 days, 13 hours.
Shadow Thief Tasks Completed: 0/3

Yep, I spent over a week in there in-game, and probably five hours of real time. The longest single in-game task I've done, though admittedly some of that was that I was alt-tabbing out to write this as I played. This also means that currently I'm the furthest I've ever gotten in playing through Baldur's Gate II! Though I haven't done the Firkraag quest in Windspear Hills, which I know I've done on previous playthroughs, but that's next on the list. At least, next once I go talk to Cromwell, deal with a couple things in Athkatla, and see what's up with this new Planar Sphere stronghold I have!

Now that I think about it a bit more, I'm not sure if it was Lavok or Tolgerias who caused me to give up last time. The room where I fought Tolgerias did look pretty familiar, but I didn't actually get to fight Lavok so I can't compare my fragmentary memories to that fight. I did a bit of googling and all the results I can find about fighting Lavok are about how annoying and hard he is, so I don't know what could have caused the problem. I mean, I probably could have dealt with it the same way I dealt with Tolgerias, but I won't complain about not having to do so.

I was really happy to see the references to other D&D worlds here, even if the halflings wore metal armor and the Solamnic Knights didn't actually do anything. Like I said, Dark Sun is my favorite of TSR's old group of settings, and now that the Dark Sun games are up on GOG I've been tempted to go back and replay them. I remember really liking Shattered Lands, and I never got to play Wake of the Ravager. But I also have ~150 games in my Steam library that need attention, plus the rest of this game, so...

Next: Part XV: Never Deal with a Dragon.
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