Martha, half-elven Totemic Druid, adventuring with Imoen, Kagain, Minsc and Dynaheir
Actually, I hadn't really planned on having Minsc and Dynaheir around anywhere near this long but things have just happened that way. Dyna's Stinking Clouds are just so darn convenient (and, just like that spell does with skeletons, combine perfectly with Martha's spirit animals) and her Fireballs quickly end otherwise boring fights against the low-lifes. For example, if I have an errand at High Hedge, we can stealth bomb two skeleton packs (one close to Kivan's spot going in and one just SSW Thalantyr's building going out) and that's easy 780 XP in just a couple of seconds.
We've done the basilisk map. Minsc dressed in leather and borrowed the stealth boots (so he could sneak better) and was treated with the famous protection scroll. I chose him because he's so efficient taking out the gnoll packs that are also here. He also took out all lesser basilisks that weren't accompanied by greater ones. Some in melee, but mostly just by running away from them and firing arrows. Recruited Korax for the packs with Greater Basilisks. Southern one went perfectly (no damage to Korax) but I had forgotten that Mutamin walks to you if you start attacking the basilisks just east of him. Oops.
But mighty Korax saved the day! Mutamin hit him with one Magic Missile before feeling the icy ghoul touch. Found a Robe of the Neutral Archmagi on him. Thought long and hard if I would need it later. Xan, Quayle and possibly (and that's a long stretch) a dualled Safana are the only NPCs that can use it, right? My plans don't involve any of them so I sold if for a whopping 9k gold. Found the Golden Girdle on Kirian, so I suppose the 5% chance of randomly not randomize items had kicked in there. Or possibly that it isn't affect at all by the Randomizer.
Had some unfinished business on the Brage map. Here's an interesting fight:
The fight is so spread out that it can't fit on a single screen. What's happened is that one of the Commandos hit Dynaheir. She retaliated with a Magic Missile (see corpse) and fled SE, out of range from the others. Minsc and Imoen have shot down one archer and are now going for the next. Martha and Kagain go melee to each tame an archer. The one above Kagain is soon going to be Minsc and Imoen's third kill. Kagain got poisoned but as soon as Ba'ruk had died, Dynaheir could go over and use her special ability on him. Martha summoned a Nymph that cast Mass Cure and we got ready for Doomsayer.
Aha, so thief traps do not work on him. Probably immune to piercing damage then. It can't be just immune to normal weapons because Flesh Golems are that and Imoen's traps damage them just fine. I also found out that it's lightning immune. Call Lightning did nothing. But as you can see in the screenie, nymph cast Hold Monster and that stuck:
Next up were the two coastal maps. As usual for me, Kivan took the Kiss o' Death. Was careful this time to have only one character damage Shoal, so we got to fight her master. I never actually saw him while he was alive, though!
My spirit animals ate him up. Got the traditional Helmet of Defense from him (I think it's at least three campaigns since I last saw it) and also a Domination scroll (the first 5th-level arcane scroll Martha has seen).
Kivan's sea elf quest was a pushover (the sahuagin really are much wussier than I thought. Got a little scare when both of the grunts 'attacks Dynaheir' but they are melee-only and their path to her was clogged up with several people and creatures. Only the chieftain has a crossbow but he starts by attacking Jozzi). The overpowered (for BG1) Boomerang Dagger +2 is now Martha's. She will no longer use regular darts. Just this dagger in one slot (switches to melee when she needs to, even for better AC vs. missiles) and Darts of Stunning/Wounding in the other.
A funny thing happened when we left this map. Before starting the sea elf quest, I did some cheesy metagaming - preparing the battlefield. But I had forgotten on which one of the two small peninsulas near the shipwreck the battle takes place. Imoen had trapped the northern one and Martha had summoned spirit animals on the other. So Imoen had trapped the wrong place, and now that we got waylaid, enough time had passed so that her trapped spot had been re-populated. Apparently, the waylaid map counts as the same one as the one we just left:
So an unexpected extra 1260 XP right in our lap. Sweet.
Lighthouse map had some ups and downs. I helped Sil by killing the pirates. Annoyingly, they stayed within their house, just when I had prepared traps and summons outside. Martha and Kagain took turns battling them, took a lot of damage, had to pull back several times. Used up all my Goodberries in stock. But we won in the end.
Once you've made friends (uh, kinda...) with Sil, the trio of sirines a bit SE of her also becomes neutral (blue circle). I didn't know, since in other games I've always killed them before talking to Sil. Black Alaric's cave gave us the tome of CON and a Robe of the Good Archmagi. Great, that is the best armor in the game for Dynaheir (and later, for Imoen). Kagain received the tome, giving him his regeneration back.
(it was either that, giving Minsc a bunch of extra HPs, or possibly keeping it in reserve in case Imoen has an accident).
You saw earlier that Martha did some tanking duty. Main reason I can now let her do that is that she can wear Ankheg Armour! I had no idea. I knew Beast Masters can but I didn't know about Druids. I mean, she can't wear chainmail or even a small shield...
I did some switching around and checked out the ankheg armor's AC values. For most purposes, one can think of it as a lightweight Plate Mail +2 that can't break. Same bonus (3) vs. slashing weapons, unmodified vs. blunt but then it's better than a Plate Mail +2 (an extra bonus of 1) vs. piercing and missile. So with two of my characters now wearing plate (that has extra bonus vs. slashing) it makes sense to equip them both with Girdles of Bluntness and give the Golden Girdle to Imoen. Minsc was also wearing plate, but his broke in a fight and he's currently in chainmail. He's mostly given up on tanking, he's now a full time archer and 'flank attacker' (hits "over the shoulder" of a tank, using his long halberd). Here is Martha's armor values (and keep in mind that's with no DEX bonus to the AC) when she holds her dagger in melee:
And HP is starting to build up nicely. She's now a far cry from the wimp that was half dead from two bandit arrows a few of my posts back!
I also really like the 'P&P restrictions' of protection items I run with, where you can toggle a Ring/Amulet/Cloak of Protection to either work as in vanilla (with AC bonus but can't be worn together with magical armor or with other items of protection) or "switch off" the AC bonus but can be worn alongside those items. So here Martha wears a Ring of Protection (for the saves bonuses) along with the ankheg plate. A save vs. spells of 11 means she saves half the time against spells with unmodded save, right? That's not very comforting...better keep the dwarf (if anyone!) up front against spellcasters!
I confronted Tenya (sided with her, although I actually think that neither side is without blame in this matter...) and did some more shopping at 18 rep/19 CHA. Finally bought the Shadow Armor, then also bought some Acid Arrows (Thalantyr), scroll of Skull Trap, assorted potions from different places (elixir of health, extra healing, explosions, invisibility), Scolls of Emotion and Greater Malison from Ulgoth's Beard.
I didn't know if Tenya would award us with a reputation point but I was pretty certain Wenric the farmer would later. So it was now time to kill an innocent, to secure further company with the grumpy dwarf. (I do not like this aspect of the game, probably going to install a mod component that prevents evil chars from leaving at super high rep for my next playthrough.)
But who? My first pick was Firebead back in Beregost. Nice reward, but no loss of rep. Huh? I was pretty sure I would be hit by one there. OK, who's next?
That's a pretty impressive spellbook! Add Mirror Image and another Stoneskin that's already been cast, plus the Chaos she's already released. Looks like a level 9/10 Cleric/Illusionist to me...
But the power of the cold damage from a spirit wolf is great. Causes casting failures right through the Stoneskins. She was soon overpowered, but Dushai was here the least of my problems! Us attacking her turned Ike hostile, plus the female commoner a bit more to the left. Once Dushai was dead, I had a rampaging spirit bear I could not control (could it have been the Chaos? I don't know). Main mistake (other than perhaps trying this in the first place) was that I kept most of my party inside the tavern. When Ike fled in there, the bartender also turned hostile, he went outside and was promptly killed by the bear.
Rep was now down to 6. I managed to move the spirit wolf to the right, out of sight of any hostiles and I had to keep restraining the nymph that kept Dimension Dooring after those civilians. I moved the rest of the party outside, so at least Ike (who got hit once by the bear but survived) would go inside and stay there:
Bear shambled over to the women to the left and killed her, too. Rep down to 4.
I had no idea if I would be able to quickly kill my bear with spells and arrows, so I did something else. I gave Minsc an Oil of Speed and had him rush over and try to physically just be in the way of the bear's passage. But thankfully, it could not see any more hostiles. Nymph timed out, and even more thankfully, THIS GUY remained neutral:
We could now leave this map. Phew! Such is the nature when you do adventurous things in no-reloads runs. There might suddenly be a need for major damage control.
Got the rep up to 11 with temple donations.
So I will miss out on some sweet stuff the bartender still had for sale, mainly 5 Polymorph bolts and a scroll of Improved Invisibility. And for the record, Dushai didn't drop her famous ring (blame Hard Times), just a Free Action potion, two healing potions, a Web scroll and some minor treasures. And barkeep dropped like 3 gold...
Martha has levelled up to 8 (hit a nice 6 on the d8, so now her four last rolls have been 6 or higher) and, apart from some small unfinished businesses on some maps, I now need to ponder what to do next.
My planned endgame companions are Imoen (dualled to Conjurer at level 9 (yes, I think I've learned how to accomplish this with ShadowKeeper)), Kagain, Eldoth and Skie, with the 6th slot open for quest NPCs and special guest stars. To make him not lag behind too much, I really want to recruit Eldoth soon (Cloakwood 1-4 are open from the start in my game) but those improved Phase Spiders scare me. I really want Imoen to still be a Thief in Cloakwood Mines. Martha will reach level 9 around 20k XP (per character) before Imoen does, so I suppose my window is there. Complete chapters 2-3 soon (probably doing bandit Camp the sneaky way, maybe borrow Viccy/Branwen for a Sanctuary looting of the chest). The Cleric/Thieves assassins can be dealt with by making sure I face them outside Feldepost's. Martha can drink a Free Action potion if Hold Persons are coming her way, and Imoen and Dyna can go back inside when the Unholy Blights start dropping. Minsc will have to take them like a man...
Say goodbye to Minsc and Dynaheir, skip nearly all Cloakwood quests/maps for later, make a beeline for the Mines (pick up Eldoth along the way). How to get past the phase spiders? Pixie Dust! Then probably use my Protection from Poison scroll on Kagain so we get rid of them.
And a question about Eldoth: does he have a timer on when to rescue Skie, or can I take my sweet time with that?