Mar 13, 2011

Let's Play Baldur's Gate - Part 10: "Field Trip"

I apologize for the delay, as well as mishaps in formatting. Blogger's editing engine seems to be throwing a hissy fit today.

After we finally get through the spider infested part of Cloakwood, we move on to search for the mysterious Iron Throne base, rumored to be in the northwestern part of the enormous forest.

We come across a cave. Inside we find two hostile baby wyverns and... a neutral guy standing in front of them? I take advantage of hyperactive politeness, and inability to disturb other people talking, which seems inherent to all living creatures in Faerun and strike up a conversation. He introduces himself as Peter of The North (well, he doesn't really introduce himself but that's what the game titles him as) and starts nervously explaining how he's just a humble woodsman doing a little spelunking to find subterranean trees, which are best for "wood and wood-related activities". I inquire further and, amazingly enough, discover that he's lying through his teeth. He's trying to train the wyverns to be guardians of some mine, but now that we've disturbed them and the cat is out of the bag, he tries to cut his losses and "placate them with meat. YOUR meat!". We fight.

The wyverns have, aside from great attack speed and damage, an absurdly powerful poison effect, which consistently knocks me on my ass (seriously, never make the Player Character the main tank!) and their master saves versus my party's assortment of charm spells, but, after I use my gift of quicksave clairvoyance and go into the cave with Blessing and Barkskin cast on me, the three enemies fall. Surprisingly I find no interesting loot, the trainer has a bunch of elemental and +1 arrows (which I will never use because of the acute "I might need them later" syndrome) and the dungeon-standard Big Chest simply has nothing! What a waste of time. We sleep and restore spells on the cozy cave floor (decorated with the freshly spilled baby-wyvern guts), and continue our search for the Iron Throne. The trainer mentioned needing guard wyverns for a mine, the Iron Throne has a mine so we must be getting close. We run into a bear and some undead creature, and dispose of them, afterwards Jaheira the druid fighter proclaims: "Tread lightly. You must show respect in Nature's house!", which is an interesting thing for one to say when one is standing on the head of a bear one just killed.

Druids have a strange way of showing respect.
The whole area is thick with cave bears (go figure). We stumble around for a while fighting them, find The World's Largest Stump but consistently fail to locate the dwarven mine or even an area transition marker... until I finally discover the tiny door in the side of the stump, which is, in fact, the entrance we've been looking for.

Talk about hiding in plain sight.
 Or not.

We can sleep in a cave full of fresh monster corpses, but I'll bet you anything we can't rest here.
It's looks like someone's residence. We move upstairs to investigate (after stealing everything that isn't nailed down on the first floor, like good adventurers that we are) and find yet another druid, Amarande. He claims to know Jaheira and says he subscribes to a more radical school of druid thought (and that's saying something!), before proceeding to "cleanse the world of her naive ideals" or whatever else is druid-speak for "fight".

"Nature should be respected! That's why I live in the hollowed-out corpse of a thousand year old oak, fill it with products of the despicable civilization and use nature's marvelous gifts to fuel my fireplace!". There is no word for "irony" in druid-speak.
This is actually a recurring theme in Baldur's Gate. You walk up to some guy, he initiates conversation, announces his (usually ill-conceived) murderous intents and attacks you. Say what you will about recent Bioware titles but their conflicts generally tend to be more complex and branching that this.

Anyway, Amarande repeatedly tries to get a cast out but gets pummeled by the party. He drops a unique club "Root of the problem", which looks like a tree branch and grants a +3 modifier against "unnatural creatures". No one in my party specializes in clubs, but it should net a considerable sum at the nearest pawnshop.

The area is starting to run out of unexplored space, so we move south where we find...

more crazed "Shadow Druids"! We fight him, if your definition of "fight" translates to "curbstomp utterly". All those treehuggers are making my snipers run out of arrows.

Further south, in a stone circle, we finally find Faldorn, a less bloodthirsty druid who offers us to join her in her fight against the Iron Trone, whose fort is located to the east. I don't have much faith left for druids giving me directions, but there is nowhere else to go, so I agree. And then I have to disagree because she tries to join the party, but that's unimportant since we're going to raid the fort anyway. We go east.

You can't be serious! Look at this shit! What is this?!
Throughout my journeys between the several locations of the forest, I keep being haunted by the ridiculous random encounter pictured above. TWO mature wyverns, which IMMEDIATELY have my party surrounded, with a few spiders thrown into the mix just in case you still think it's a fair fight. The only options here are to either keep loading the save you made before the area transition and hope the RNG doesn't pick the random encounter again, or just try to leave the area, Fallout-style, either of which is unnecessary and annoying.

A rendered cinematic tells us that we're entering the forest proper:
On the upside, the cow gets to see a beautiful aerial view.
We encounter a new, extremely annoying type of enemy - the Hamadryad. It's unable to do any serious (or direct) damage to the party, casting crappy charm spells and entangling roots, but it teleports around so it's very hard to hit with melee, and it seems to have a good enough armor class to shrug off most ranged attacks. And, of course, you have to wait for the area-of-effect roots to fade before you can save the game and move forward.

After some more aimless walking we find a peculiar stone bridge, guarded by 3 armed men and two spiders (no, I don't know how that works). On the island across the bridge we follow a footpath and find another cave, with a trail of blood and a cloud of flies marking the entrance. I try to resist, but foul caves are my specialty and so we dive in.

The interior feels incomplete without a treasure chest.
The cave is PACKED with vicious wyverns. I consider running away, but remember thinking about all that stuff I never use and decide to stay. Lexter gulps down potions of Heroism and Absorption I've been saving for a rainy day, snipers break out elemental damage arrows and we start dancing with death. It actually goes well, all of the wyverns gang up on the overbuffed PC, almost unable to deal any damage, we bombard the monsters with enchanted arrows, magic missiles and wands and it's only due to a dumb misstep that we lose Dynaheir and have to go back to Llathander temple in Beregost to get a rez. On the upside, I recall hearing that the temple was offering bounties on wyverns, and the only treasure we've gained was a pair of wyvern heads.

Before we head out, I decide to further demonstrate the game's strange idea of a proper campground by trying to rest in the smelly, corpse-smeared, fly-infested monster cave and, wouldn't you know it, find it to be a valid place. Unfortunately we get a "random encounter" and another wyvern materialises in a corner of the cave before we can rest. Since my character still has potions effects on him I decide to try and take it down, succeed and gain 1400 xp which brings me to level 5.

We travel to Beregost, circumvent the annoying random encounters, ressurect Dynaheir and try to get the bounty for 3 wyvern heads, but noone in the temple seems interested, offering us a scoop on "a madman named Bazillus" instead, so I have to add the wyvern heads to my lovely collection of trophies, right next to all the bandit scalps. Ah well, we've managed to amass 12000 gold so far, so we should be okay for a while.

After the mandatory resting/shopping/spell restocking we make our way back to the forest and, finally, locate the mines we've been looking for. The small footpaths leading to them are teeming with Iron Throne guards, who show heavy resistance, with wardogs and snipers all over. We give them a what for, even scare off one of the lookouts by (technically not untrue) tales of wyverns about, and keep moving east until we see the wall of the mining camp.

Being of the devious sort, I start looking for a rear entrance but the whole camp is secluded by a wall and a moat, so we have to take the main path, defeat some heavily armored guards watching it and get engaged in conversation by a miniboss.


bucaneer said...

Huh, these wyverns, do they ever make a kind of shrieking noise? Or perhaps move around the vicinity of cliffs in a manner that could be described as "racing"?.. Just wondering.

Also, it seems that your party has gained such bad reputation (or smell) that everybody you talk to can't help but make a random half-assed excuse to kill you or die trying; and since you haven't done anything particularly evil, I'll stick with smell.

Someone said...

You can say they shrieked, yeah, as much as any bird-like monster creature would, anyway. At least they didn't constantly get themselves stuck in level geometry, and that's good enough for me.

It has to be smell, we're completely innocent! I mean we've butchered and slaughtered our way across half the continent, killing hundreds of sentient creatures, but they were showing hostility and therefore were evil and didn't deserve to live. That also explains why the clerics of Lathander didn't take our three smelly rotten wyvern skulls and kept trying to send us on another journey for justice instead.