Apr 3, 2011

Let's Play Baldur's Gate - Part 15: "Devils Wear Prada"

Having STILL not found the local shopping center, we resort to wandering aimlessly around the city.

Looking for things to do, we decide to investigate the house of a local mage known as "Ragefast" (these people seriously have no taste in names, at this rate I soon won't be surprised to find myself taking quests from Jim Darkmagic). Some noblewoman approached the party sometime during our stay in Baldur's Gate, screeching about how inappropriately he is acting, fornicating with a forest nymph. I was busy looking for a little boy's corpse, and told her to kindly take her accusations elsewhere, but sidequest is a sidequest, and us are us, so we decided to pay a visit to the old man, if only on the off chance of seeing some early bioware fanservice.

Immediately the old bastard shows remarkable cunning by locking his door, but thankfully we have a rogue in the party so we break in (we're adventurers so it's okay).

We catch the mage giving the nymph the classic Dracula speech (we shall be together, it is your destiny, muahahaha etc.). Out of her natural element, the nymph looks weak and sickly, but Ragefast doesn't want to hear it. He finally notices the crowd of heavily-armed thugs that just broke into his home, and, strangely enough, becomes enraged and demands an explanation for us trespassing on his property. I dodge the question by answering with one of my own: what sort of unnatural sickness is he up to? The nymph pitches in, trying to make the mage see reason, while he continues to play "you'll grow to care for me with time" card and I wonder how many health potions the fight will take, what kind of loot an old lecherous mage might have, and whether or not I'll actually want THAT kind of loot. Finally I pass the charisma check, he budges and lets her go. She teleports away and leaves some hair as a "gift" of "gratitude", and the mage refuses to speak with me, which I take a sign of his agreement with us looting the place. Unfortunately all of his bookshelves are just for show, and don't actually contain anything useful. The guy's probably not even a real mage!

I should have gone with the violent option. What a waste of time!
With that distraction out of the way, we continue to look for trouble, which seems surprisingly reluctant to show up. We almost get an invitation into the sewers, but I pick the wrong dialogue options and scare the guy away, wasting an opportunity of a lifetime. Even the Helm's Temple, which is usually a surefire way to get sent to correct injustices for some quick cash, brings nothing.

Finally, a fancy-looking fellow in a robe stops me on the street. He looks for mercenaries to "perform an act the guard would frown upon", and asks if I'm okay with doing a little guard-frowning. Having just murdered a nobleman on the street in the middle of the day, purchased a corpse from some shady cultists, broken into a private residence with murderous intent, recieved half a dozen invitations to partake in burglary and looted every single barrel in the city, I answer that yes, I would, infact, be willing to slightly overstep the boundaries of law. His name is Ramazith, and he would have me break into the house of his colleague Ragefast and, oh.

Trying to keep a straight face, I ask a few questions reinforcing the idea that I'm actually considering whether or not I should commit to the job, and, after a theatrical pause, agree. Ram promises a magical weapon as payment, and everything seems peachy except for one small detail: he wants the nymph for himself and in his house, but it appears that this particular ship has sailed. Oops. Still, we do have the damn thing's hair, so maybe we will be able to work something out.

We go into his house and I start waving the hair around, but he won't listen. Instead, he whacks me with some flashy shock spell and invites upstairs to "have a go at it". Well, I'm not the one to back down from a fight, especially the one where I'm outnumbering the enemy 6-to-1, so the party ascends the ladder. And runs into some jelly monsters. And ascends the ladder again. And runs into some ghasts. And ascends it again. I'm guessing the mage put these monsters there with the intention of opposing us, but I'm not entirely sure.

I can think of a few flaws in this plan.
Finally, after about 6 floors of intense ladder running, we reach the attic and pummel the dubiously-devious spellcaster and take all his stuff. And he has some good stuff: a heap of enchanted trinkets, some scrolls, a few coins and even a skillbook! We briefly consider dealing with all the monsters we've left roaming in the tower (eh, the authorities will deal with them when they start to smell), and make our way down and away from the murder scene.

This was bound to happen, sooner or later.
As we try to rent a room to recuperate in, we find out that our smell is finally catching up with us, as a local drunkard accuses us of stinking up the place. With the rush of the "battle" still fresh in my mind, I feel like starting a bar brawl, and respond appropriately (not that the game gives any particularly diplomatic options here), but the knave sees reason and backs down. We load up on something called "Evermead" (as opposed to normal Mead, which is only Mead during a very specific period of time), get some R&R and decide it's time to go looking for the plot again.

Both Elminster and that elven guy from the Harpers talked about Duke Eltan being a man we can trust in the city, so we head to the palace to talk to him. Unfortunately, the palace is under lockdown, so we have to look for an alternative way in.

Out of ideas, we explore the few remaining parts of the city and end up in a tavern called "Blushing Mermaid", where an ogre approaches and threatens us.

As far as Iron Throne assasins go, this is pretty fucking pathetic.
As they say: "Evil is an equal opportunity employer". And I'm an equal opportunity murderer, killing anyone they throw at me with impunity, regardless of their race or character class. Still, Larze gives us a good thrashing and manages to take down Xan before he dies, reminding me that I haven't had any losses for a while, and leaves a pair of magic gauntlets on his corpse. One trip to the temple and one ressurection later, and we're back on the streets, trying to find the Iron Throne compound.

On our way to the docks, we meet a self-described "mage of minor power" Brielbara, who offers a paltry sum of 200 gold for the spellbook of a more powerful mage, which she, allegedly, is going to use to reverse the curse he put on her daughter. Even though the payment is chump change, I seem to have made it my personal goal to piss off every single mage in the city, so in keeping with that fine tradition I agree. Filed under "Things to do to pass the time".

We finally reach the merchant district when I remember that someone told me Duke Eltan has been spending a lot of time at the Flaming Fist (Baldur's Gate guard) headquarters, running drills, so I drop by, but, unfortunately, none of the area transition markers necessary to see the Duke seem to be working, so we have to return to prowling the streets. This is going to be one of those problems, isn't it?

Before long, we locate the Iron Throne tower. This is it. The Dark Citadel. The Belly of the Beast. Time to Get Some Answers. Time for Action! We kick the door in...

It's pretty green for a Dark Citadel
And find ourselves beset by an Iron Throne rep screaming about acolytes practicing dark magic in the halls above. With all that fighting I sort of forgot that above the sinister conspiracy the Iron Throne is a perfectly legitimate trading organization. So, technically, we are trespassing right now, and, when we are finished killing everyone in the building, we would, technically, be accountable for mass murder.

Aw hell, when have such small obstacles as law stopped me from bringing justice? We march in as if nothing happened, bluff our way past the one guard patrolling the lobby and go to the second floor. The second floor guard asks who goes there, but we name-drop Sarevok and he lets us through.

This "Storm of the dark fortress" is nothing like I imagined it to be, as we go through the medieval skyscraper and everyone acts as if we belong here, even going so far as to ask for directions. We even run into an emissary from the Grand Dukes, seeking to negotiate the prices and revealing that the Seven Suns and the Merchants Consortium, the other two major trading houses, have given the Iron Throne permission to use their mines, establishing the Throne's monopoly on iron. This is not good news.

We continue this bizarre journey, descending floors and mingling with Iron Throne merchants and servants, trying to glance useful information. At last, we reach the mysterious acolytes on the fifth floor, and finally have a long-expected showdown.

The fight with two fighters, two mages and two snipers (or, rather, two fighters and FOUR mages) is, of course, a frustrating hectic clusterfuck, which takes me some 13 tries and liberal application of my favorite potions of magic shielding and invincibility, as well as wands of fireballs, magic missiles and a whole bunch of other force multipliers.

The whole operation turns out to be rather costly, but at least we'll know what the hell is going on, right?!

We get a slew of magic items, proportionate to the amount of bosses we've just encountered, but only one letter - from Sarevok, stating that the specific order of the group we fought was to destroy us , an order which they successfully, and with much gusto, carried out 15 times.

Unsatisfied, I search through the drawers and tables, and finally get what I'm looking for. A letter from someone named Tuth, speaking about a meeting in Candlekeep. Apparently Tuth wants to meet with Rieltar to discuss an alliance between their organisation, (which leads me to assume that Tuth is from Seven Suns traders), claiming that Candlekeep will be safe from Zhents and Harper agents, so I know who's party I will be crashing next. Another interesting letter is from Sarevok to Rieltar, in which Sar describes to his father (oh yeah, Rieltar's his father) his success in murdering me and my band of mercenaries. He claims that, before dying, I've admitted to working for the Zhentarim, and apologizes for being unable to attend the meeting in Candlekeep. We also find Thaldorn, one of the Iron Throne liutenants, hiding in a side room. As usual, he begs to be spared in exchange for information, offers redundant intel (Rieltar, Candlekeep) and runs away.

Tazok, Sarevok, Rieltar and now Tuth. So many names, so many questions.

Welp, guess it's time to wrap up my business in the big city, try to get another audience with Eltan and head to Candlekeep. No rest for the wicked, it seems.


bucaneer said...

Oh wow. I just knew the game was keeping track of your party's smell, but I didn't think it'd show the, um, progress directly. Though I'd say Shep is politely understating there, and both your possible responses are clear overreactions. Then again, maybe the dialogue tree is different if you go to the sewers first.

I was hoping the game would take a Kafka-esque turn with the Iron Throne tower, with you having to fight metaphorical monsters representing bureaucracy and the corporate world. But mages and fighters are good too, I guess.

Also, I'll just leave this inconspicuous link here: http://losingmove.blogspot.com/ (you said you had a reason why you don't advertise your blog in comments; god thing I don't remember what it was)

Someone said...

I imagine defeating bureaucracy would have been much easier, cheaper and less time consuming than fighting four goddamn mages at once.

Also, while I'm sure the OTHER 5 readers of my blog will appreciate the tales of your feudal shenanigans, I would advise you to seek recognition at afteractionreporter.com . My blog effectively doubled in popularity after they gracefully accepted my plea for a link on their site and, unlike mine, your source material is a TBS so it's right up their alley.

Someone said...

Although I would advise you to get a couple more posts out before you contact AAR

bucaneer said...

Thanks! I don't think I've done anything to deserve the label "better" (your writing keeps improving, so I have quite a lot of catching up to do), or to be put alongside CH and Twentysided for that matter, but thanks a lot nonetheless. I'll be sure to keep AAR in mind.