I made two changes to my install: I uninstalled Tactics' Random Encounters (advice from Musigny over at the Beamdog Forums) and I installed the SCS component Caster HLAs as innates, which will make Bardin able to cast a larger number of powerful spells but will also make enemy casters a lot more dangerous because the component applies to them as well. 'Caster innates as HLAs' in combination with 'All eligible ToB and SoA spellcasters get HLAs' means that pretty much every high level mage in SoA will toss out Comets, Firebreaths and Dark Planetars, in addition to casting Gates, Time Stops, Meteor Swarms and Wishes. Bardin will have to be very careful...
Bardin, LN Cleric/Thief, in SoA (Part 2)
The rogue priest takes his role of protector of Gnomes very seriously, he always has, but he's first and foremost an enforcer of universal laws, not the least of which is the tenet that 'Thou shalt not kill'. Thus the priest did not stay his hand when an Ogre Mage that had killed and enslaved several beings in a Circus Tent turned out to be a fellow Gnome.
(Note how in the first screenshot Bardin blows up a Shadow with this Turn Undead ability.) When he left the circus tent, Bardin was given a lamp that Kalah had used to summon a Genie. He'd have to figure out the command word before he'd be able to use it though.
Bardin visited the filthy and sketchy Slums District where he had dealings with a rogue, Gaelan Bayle, that told him he could help him find Imoen and Irenicus, albeit for a considerable price: 20k GP. The Gnome didn't own anywhere near that amount of gold. He visited the Copper Coronet Inn to rest, but he soon discovered more injustices for him set straight: slaves fighting in pits, forced prostitution, trafficking of children, and the like. He had to battle a Beast Master and his monsters and, sadly, animals, for the keys to the slaves' cells. Bardin got into some trouble when a backstab failed to kill the Beast Master and the latter retalliated with a poisoned arrow striking true from close range, while his pets were surrounding the Gnome.
'Each battle may be my last', the Gnome reckoned, so he didn't hesitate to quaff his only potion of invisibility. With the help of his Skeletons, two snares, and his damaging sling shots, Bardin defeated the pets and the Beast Master.
He freed the prisoners, battled more guards (including two mages),
and saw slave leader Hendak defeat innkeeper Lethinan in a duel. Hendak took control of the inn and asked Bardin to deal the slavers a final blow in their base in the slums. Hendak's assistant Bernard gave Bardin a letter from a mysterious, voluptuous woman.
The letter contained an invitation to meet the woman at the Five Flagons Inn in the Bridge District.
Bardin rested at the Copper Coronet, and decided to seek out the woman in the Five Flagons first. The Bridge District was in an even more abominable state than the slums: flayed bodies lay scattered about on the ground, and several people were exchanging bits of information in order to understand who had been responsible for these disgusting practices. Bardin introduced himself to Lt Aegisfield, and learned from the latter and from several witnesses that elephant hide and tannins had been found on the scene. The Gnome went to the local tanner shop to ask its owner if he knew anything. Tanner Riejek Hidesman confessed but he refused to accompany Bardin to the garrison. He fled downstairs. Bardin, hid in shadows and followed suit. He found the floor littered with corpses and heavily trapped and guarded:
(This is a BP addition.) Bardin retreated, cast Sanctuary, returned, removed the traps, and descended further to a small dock where Riejek escaped, leaving Bardin to deal with two Ghasts, two Rune Assassins, and a Bone Golem. Bardin swiftly retreated to report back to Lt Aegisfield.Here a bug occurred: one of the Rune Assassins followed Bardin, but for some reason he didn't become visible and they didn't attack. Bardin was ready for him, he had an oil of speed to escape, but even after some experimentation (e.g. going downstairs again, injuring the Rune Assassin with his Divine Wrath ability), nothing happened. The assassins just stick to Bardin as is they're his shadows. I can now no longer save game in the Bridge District because there are enemies nearby...
Outside, there were more of Riejek's henchmen, but Bardin decided to fight them later if he had to.
Back at Waukeen's Promenade the Gnome rested at the Den of the Seven Vales inn, but got bullied and threatened by a Dwarf with four companions who approved of the Dwarf's provocations. The only one to protest was a human rogue. Bardin decided to teach the group a lesson. He placed seven snares upstairs and seven downstairs, Silenced a human mage and an imp,
and asked the Dwarf how brave he was now, without the help of his spell-casting buddies. The Dwarf was brave enough to attack, as were the others. Snares killed the human wizard and a Barbarian, and a well-placed sling bullet meant the end of the Imp.
The Dwarf, clad in full plate and thus much better equipped for battle than Bardin who was wearing plain studded leather, eventually fell after two Amnian soldiers came to the Gnome's aid.
Bardin let the rogue, who had never wanted to get into a fight in the first place, go free.
Considering his need of lots of gold, Bardin reluctantly decided to follow Gaelan Bayle's suggestion of working for the Shadow Thieves. He was asked to infiltrate one of their guildhouses and spy on its leader, a suspicious fellow named MaeVar. Bardin had difficulty assuming the role of obedient servant when he met the arrogant rogue,
but he successfully carried out a first assignment - a simple theft from the Temple of Talos, nothing for Bardin to lose sleep over - and so earned himself some goodwill. A second task weighed more heavily on the Gnome's conscience: killing a Cowled Wizard. On the one hand, Bardin had no love for the Cowled Wizards. They had sent Imoen to a high security prison for casting a Magic Missile, while allowing others, such as one of Riejek's accomplices, to freely cast spells. On the other hand, the Cowled Wizards were the lawful authority on arcane matters within the jurisdiction of Athkatla. Bardin gave himself some time to think the assignment over.
In the Crooked Crane, a small inn near the city gates, Bardin's traps convinced a Rakshasa into giving him the command word to use Kalah's lamp.
Bardin then used the lamp to offer Kalah the chance to redeem himself. Death seemed to have made Kalah a humbler and more reasonable Gnome:
The two parted as friends.
Not surprisingly, the slavers were less than pleased with Bardin's actions at the Copper Coronet. A delegation of them ambushed Bardin while he was exploring the city. The Gnome used his hiding skills to get away to a quiet corner. There he set three snares, and he summoned three Skeletal Warriors. He buffed both himself and the summons with PfE 10' Radius and Strength of One, and he further buffed with HP and DUHM. His plan was to suffice with taking out their leader, a man named Eldarin, in part because he liked Eldarin's shiny blade but also because felling their leader might cause the others to flee. Unfortunately the traps were triggered by a henchman,
Bardin returned to Trademeet to bring the town's mayor the good news, while Cernd stayed at the Grove to reorganize it.
The Gnome received further praise and rewards, enough to buy himself the Belt of the Inertial Barrier. Fortuitously, Bardin had another rendez-vous with Riejek and one of his accomplices. This time the rogue priest didn't let his foe escape. Finally he was asked by two feuding families to retrieve Waukeen's Mantle from a tomb, but he hasn't accepted either request yet.