Mar 29, 2011

Let's Play Baldur's Gate - Part 14: "Bright Lights, Big City"

We finally reached Baldur's Gate, and are ready to embark on our next epic quest - looking for a shopping mall. We also have to find an Iron Throne base somewhere in the city, but we'll deal with problems as they come.

First place that attracts our attention is a place called "Lucky Aello's discount store" located right across the gates. A fraudulent little shop - all of the merchandise items are "off" in one capacity or another.

Gee, I wonder why the prices are so low
The only item worth something is the cursed studded leather, which actually carries a hefty Armor Class bonus, with the downside of attracting missile attacks (it also carries a curse, so its impossible to take off without a "banish curse" spell). With a sufficiently protected leather-wearing class character this can be used to create a dedicated "arrow sponge" party member, and not have to worry about snipers. I'll have to think about it.

As we continue our search for merch, we run into a shifty character which might as well carry a neon sign saying: "Talk to me, I have sidequests". And talk we do: he says his boss wants to have a talk (that's how you know this operation isn't on the up and up - honest people don't call their boss "boss") and even goes as far as offering 50 gold to entice us to come (which, given my financial situation, is right there with offering a candybar as a bonus for buying a house, but it's the thought that counts). Never the one to turn down a good sidequest, I take the cash and follow the guy to his "Guild", which is hidden in an ordinary-looking house.

We find a den full of crates, chests and lightly-armed thugs - looks like we've been invited to the local Thieves Guild. I look for the fanciest-looking thug, who turns out to be an envoy from the nation of Halruaa, so I look for the second fanciest-looking thug and find the "boss" - Alatos "Ravenscar" Thuibuld (those people have no taste in nicknames!). He acts all sophisticated and well-mannered and gives me the skinny: apparently a local mage has come up with a way to reproduce the world-famous Halruaan skyships, and is intending to sell the technique to Grand Duchess of Baldur's Gate Liia Jannath. Obviously the Halruaans have a problem with people replicating their tourist attraction and, since international patents have not been invented yet, contracted the Guild with "retrieval" of necessary components, which the offending mage distributed among his nine (!) daughters for no immediately apparent reason. And, since the organization is suffering from an alleged shortage of thieves, Pigeonhole Ravenscar decided to go for the second-best option: hire a random group of mercenaries off the street and hope they don't botch the job.

He promises big money, but I look back on my alignment, remember that I already have a stealth-mission quest, and refuse his offer. He understands my decision and wishes-I'm just kidding, everyone in the hideout turns hostile, Xan casts Haste on the party and we cheerfully slaughter everyone and take all the illicit, ill-gotten gains for ourselves. Unfortunately we find more traps than treasure, apparently the establishment hasn't been doing so well (I can't imagine why!), the only notable trophy we find is a +1 Dexterity manual which, in a display of DRM technology way ahead of its time, disappears after one use. We briefly consider telling the authorities about the incident (eh, they'll find out when the corpses start to smell), order a room in a nearby inn, snoop around for sidequests (there aren't any) and continue our search, which finally bears fruit as we discover the thunderdome magic shop.

Mages of this realm seem to be quite fond of domes.
Inside, a fella named Ordulinian gives me a quest to steal a pair of trinkets from two necromansers feuding over a breakup. What is it with this city and robbery?! I guess this is the part where game designers try to make up to rogue players for the preceding six hours of pain and humiliation. Still, I do have a rogue in the party and the save/load method ensures that pickpocketing never fails, so I might look into it later.

Finally I get to the counter and start browsing: the mage has a bunch of +1 items and fancy arrows, but, more importantly potions ahoy! I remember my previous run-ins with bosses and wyverns and purchase a whole bunch of buff potions, invincibility potions and exploding potions (which I normally ignore).

Next we find the local fence (which actually has a few decent magical items we buy), get another quest about killing ogres in the southwest, turn down another proposal to rob someone, fight a rabid chicken horde in an abandoned poultry store (your guess is as good as mine), run into a relative of those druid-killing nobles we've murdered back in Cloakwood and fight him (cool, consequences!), visit a museum and otherwise pass the time.

An interesting offer comes up: Tremain Belde'ar, high priest of the luck goddess, asks me to retrieve his son's body from a different god's temple, where he was found trespassing and killed. While this sounds like another stealth assignment, I take the priest up on his offer hoping that there will be a violent option, besides, being a high-ranking member of the clergy, he might have some good magic items as a reward.

We also encounter a man named Entillis Fulsom, who recognizes Jaheira and Lexter, and reveals that he is a Harper agent and, big shock, so are Jaheira and Khalid (it's like CIA, but with Harps), which raises the question of why they were so badly equipped when they joined me, but whatever. Entillis also hints that there are more trials to come, but refuses to give any details to keep the intrigue in the plot, promptly finishes the conversation and walks away, which is just as well - explaining why Khalid isn't present would have been pretty awkward.

We find the Water Queen's House, which is the temple where Tremain's son was murdered, and go in. The guard at the entrance asks about our intentions. Hoping to strike a bargain, I give her 50 gold so I can speak with the high priestess. The one good thing about dealing with adepts of an Evil god is that they don't ask uncomfortable questions, like "why do you need a mangled corpse of a little boy". The price is 2000 gold - pretty steep, but affordable. I pay up and grab the corpse (which looks surprisingly similar to the one we brought to that poor farmer). We go back to the priest, throw the body out of the bag of holding, and witness the ressurection. This is too easy. The wayward son raises up to live again, although his father gives him such an earful he probably wishes he did not. Then they both sorta leave - one of the ways of despawning NPCs in BG is by walking them to the closest door in the vicinity, which leads to hilarious situations like the above father and son leaving their own house. Either way, the other kid in the family returns the 2000 gold as a reward, as well as 5000 xp, so it's not a complete waste of time.

All of those distractions have sidetracked us once again! We shall return to our main task - finding a place to lighen our collective purse! And deal with that Iron Throne business too.


bucaneer said...

"fight a rabid chicken horde in an abandoned poultry store (your guess is as good as mine)"
I take it you missed the side quest about the mysterious disappearance of an entire class from the local mage school, then?

Someone said...

I haven't visited any mage school yet, so I guess no.

Wait, considering what happened the last time I've dealt with mages and chickens... an entire class... a horde...

Oh. Oh dear.

Well, that's going on my list of things not to put on the resume, right next to "corpse trafficking" and "kobold genocide".

bucaneer said...

If it'll help your conscience, I haven't played BG1, and unless there was some particularly twisted game designer involved, there's no quest about a missing class of mages. However, it can surely count as a good example of unintentional nightmare fuel (and/or comic relief).

Someone said...

Well, the store has to be involved in SOME quest, it can't just be a random horde of rabid chickens... chicken? Chicki?

Also, what's a conscience?

Melfina said...

There's actually a cheat code that summons a horde of rabid chickens. Great for a laugh, but I wouldn't recommend doing it in any town unless you want the guards to try to kill you.