Bartholomew, 3rd BG1 update
The tricksy three had explored most of the Sword Coast and reached the stage where they really had to look for excuses not to help the Nashkel mayor and his people with their troubles in the mines. They found one such excuse: the Ankhegs that had been terrorizing farms over Chionthar. This was urgent!
Or not so urgent... On their way north, the Gnomes made a bit of detour, and ended up having an unfriendly encounter with four hunters near Mutamin's garden. With their Skeletons, Blindnesses and Hold Persons, a Web from Quayle, and a backstab by Bart, the Gnomes prevailed.
The three then traveled south again, via Gullykin (where a second Sling +1 was procured, for Quayle), to the Nashkel Mines. They encountered them occupied by Kobolds, annoying little buggers - a racial enemy of sorts for Gnomes - and quite dangerous in large numbers. Stealth and invisibility allowed the trio to slip past most of the Kobolds. A few small packs they eliminated with fire though. Deep down in the mine they met a Half-Orc priest of Cyric, Mulahey, who proved to be the leader of the Kobolds.
[I was still trying to roleplay here. The Gnomes didn't know for sure Mulahey was the leader, so they wouldn't attack before having spoken to him.]
Mulahey got nervous when he faced the Gnomes. He betrayed his allegiance (to one Tazok), summoned Skeletal and Kobold minions, and started a familiar-sounding incantation. Imoen and Quayle cast Sleep at the approaching Kobolds, causing the creatures to lay down and block the way for Mulahey's Skeletons. The Half-Orc then Held Imoen, right before a painful sneak attack from Bart caused him to beg for mercy.
The Gnomes were willing to accept their foe's surrender, but he started casting another spell. Bart disrupted Mulahey's casting with a Flamestrike of a Wand of the Heavens he'd bought in Ulgoth's Beard. Quayle saw himself forced to cast a Web at the Kobolds - whom he had thought sound asleep - when an Elite Kobold somehow found its way to them. Bart then disrupted another of Mulahey's spells with a sling bullet, and saw his foe fall soon after.
Bart, Quayle, and (as soon as she could) Imoen finished off the Kobolds and Skeletons with fire and ranged attacks. The three released an Elven prisoner and made their way back to the surface through a long tunnel.
They resurfaced in the Valley of the Tombs, rested and met a wizard who was overly protective of his alleged intellectual property, a Slime Conjuration spell. He Blinded Bart for asking him for the components of the spell, and he might have Charmed Quayle if it weren't for the Helm of Charm Protection. All three Gnomes found ways to go invisible however, and they patiently waited for the wizard's buffs to exire. When that moment came, Uncle Quayle (Wand of the Heavens) and Imoen (Wand of Fire scorcher) fried the wizard.
Bart looted the area's tombs and, Protected from Undead, slew the undead creatures that were guarding the tombs.
The three reported back to the Nashkel mayor, and became local heroes in that town. This tasted sweet but the Gnomes had little reason to celebrate. They were no fools; they had studied some of Mulahey's letters. The letters suggested a link between the iron ore contamination in the Nashkel Mines and the rampant banditry on the Sword Coast, and so the Gnomes feared having become involved in a big plot to destabilize the land, and they feared having made powerful enemies. These fears proved justified when an assassin tried to kill them in front of the Nashkel inn. Thankfully Amnish soldiers intervened and made short work of the man, but the Amnish military would not accompany them elsewhere to guard them. The trio realized they'd have to try and find evidence in order to expose the conspirators, and maybe get the Flaming Fist to deal with them.
In Beregost a wizard who was clearly a member of the secret organization gave the Gnomes directions to the bandit stronghold before he died.
There was also party of female assassins or bounty hunters that had come after them. Bart felt very sorry at this point about having dragged Imoen, who could have simply stayed at Candlekeep, and Uncle Quayle, who'd had a job at the Nashkel Carnival, into the mess he found himself in. [This was actually a nasty situation. I had just started the session this morning. Bart & co were standing at the Beregost town border where I had left them yesterday. Within a second or two Lamalha and her friends appeared out of thin air.]
Thankfully Quayle and Imoen were invisible (but so were Telka and Maneira, which was dangerous). Bart decided to quaff a potion to go invisible as well. He walked off and summoned two Skeletons at a safe distance to occupy the ladies (and to cause the invisible ones to reveal themselves). One of the rogues followed Bart into a house he had entered to hide in shadows. With a backstab, an Invisibility Purge, and another backstab Bart took care of the woman.
Back outside, Imoen Blinded a priestess when she tried in vain to Hold Bart. The two Gnomes finished her off with range attacks. A second priestess (who had been near the house that Bart had used for stealth purposes, and had thus missed the attack on the first priestess) awaited the same fate. This time it was Quayle who appeared from invisibility to cast Blindness.
The last amazon, a rogue, was invisible inside the aformentioned house. Quayle had the least HPs but with buffs (Ghost Armor, Blur, though no MI memorized), the best AC. He suffered a painful backstab before Imoen Blinded the woman outside the house.
The trio then finished her off with ranged attacks.
Bart's feeling of guilt toward his companions translated itself into him deciding to face the bandit camp alone. That is, the party infiltrated through a patrol of bandits in Peldvale, and Imoen emptied almost all the chests at the camp, but it was Bart who addressed the bandit leaders in the camp's main tent. These bandits were highly aggressive and included a wizard that removed a number of the Gnome's preventive protections. Bart swigged an invisibility potion, and three fire protection potions, so that the inferno he was about to bring about with his Necklace of Missiles and explosive potions would actually heal him.
The tent was soon cleared, save for an Elf who turned out to be a prisoner. The Gnomes released him, and in return the Elf had a name for the organization: the Iron Throne, with offices in Baldur's Gate and a secret base in Cloakwood.
Imoen and Uncle Quayle were still invisible when they left the tent. Bart was hidden in shadows. A potion of defense he had quaffed earlier was still effective, and so was his fire resistance. It occurred to the Gnome that he might try and leave an impression, a message that he and his friends weren't to be messed with. Slaughtering dozens of people was very unlike him, but he realized - with a sense of horror - that it might be the only way for him to be left in peace. And it was not like he was about to kill innocents.
His first target was a Black Talon lieutenant clad in full plate mail, but soon after a number of bounty hunters turned up. Apparently they didn't see the bandits as competitors, for they operated in concerted action with the bandits.
[I could have had the trio travel to places they'd already visited for no other reason than to trigger Molkar's appearance before the Bandit Camp, but that wouldn't have felt true to the spirit of this more or less roleplayed run.]
With an oil of speed Bartholomew could outrun his enemies (except one or two who also applied oils of speed, and had to be dealt with separately), hide in shadows, and find good spots for fireball-attacks.
This process had to be repeated several times before the coast was clear. It cost Bart all the remaining charges of his Necklace but one, all of his potions of explosions, and a second oil of speed. In return he got lots of sellable scalps, and some enchanted weapons and suits of armor. When he returned to Imoen and Uncle Quayle, a near death experience awaited him. A priest (Drasus) Commanded Bart to sleep right, and attacked with a hitherto invisible Gnomish battlemage. Both were hasted, courtesy of the latter, and very close to unconscious Bart. Ergo: both got two free hits each. It's a wonder that Bart still got up after that (he was down to 3 HPs). He did get up though, and crucially saved against another Command before he managed to gulp a potion of invisibility.
Imoen and Quayle saw Bart's plight and intervened, which moved the dandy Gnome to no small degree. He learned that his friends were there for him, whatever the circumstances. Uncle Quayle used a wand to paralyze the priest just after the latter Animated a Skeleton, and Imoen Blinded the battlemage. The summoned Skeleton and the appearance of two Hobgoblin bandits couldn't stop the trio from felling the priest and the mage,
nor from reaching the shelter of the FAI run by their Gnomish friends Bentley and Gellana Mirrorshade. The Mirrorshades told the companions that another Gnome had recently been with them, Finch, a priestess of Deneir and an old acquaintance of Bart who had previously visited Candlekeep when he still lived there. Finch had traveled to Beregost.
The trio decided to see if they could catch up with Finch in Beregost. (They were going that way anyway, to get Uncle Quayle a Robe of the Neutral Archmagi. Imoen had got herself a Good Archmagi Robe after the Lamlha & Co iirc.)
The Gnomes split up to look for Finch. It was Bart who found her, at the Red Sheaf Inn. However that place also harbored a Dwarven assassin that was after Bart's hide. A backsmack had the Dwarf cower in panic, but when he regained his valor, he quaffed a (hill giant) strength potion and he brutally struck down Finch before Bart could finish the Dwarf.