Part two of our adventure around Fort Locke in Neverwinter Nights 2. Part one is here.
I left us standing in a dark, zombie infested graveyard, having said farewell to sunshine.
Here we were tasked by Lt. Anton to find the missing commander of Fort Locke and any missing patrols he might have sent this way. Our party was Fengorin, a dwarf warrior, Peri, a druid of some sort, and Sigwerd, a half-elf rogue. In addition, we had as NPC companions Khelgar, the stereotypical fighting and drinking dwarf, Neeshka, the tiefling rogue of some repute, and Bard, Peri’s pet wolf.
And it was here that we would truly test our mettle as a group.
The first order of business was to clear the surface of the graveyard. The zombies and skeletons, which came in small groups, were not terribly difficult. However, contact with the zombies left you diseased. You ended up with the “zombie stink” on you, which among other things was a debuff.
The “zombie stink” could be healed with a healing kit, of which we had limited numbers, or if a saving throw against constitution was met when resting. Khelgar, a dwarf of astounding constitution, shed the stink on the first try most of the time, as did Bard the wolf. Neeshka however was giving us a glimpse of her usefulness by steadfastly failing to get shake the stink no matter what. Experiments with healing spells failed to find a solution, so in the end she just stayed stunk.
More after the cut. Many pictures, lots of words, and so on.
Once the surface was cleared, it was time to descend into the catacombs under the graveyard. There we started our first real dungeon crawl.
Again, like the underground lair of the lizardmen, it was quite a tidy dungeon laid out by somebody with a fetish for right angles. This place, however, was not as nicely tiled or as well lit.
Here we began to see a bit of the weakness of the computer AI. When battle came, Khelgar would rush right into the thick of things. But he is a dwarf fighter. That is totally appropriate for him.
Neeshka would also dive right into combat, usually with some phrase like, “I’ll clean this up!” and promptly get smacked down and incapacitated. She would then spend the rest of the fight sprawled out on the floor groaning.
She also had a tendency to jump right into traps, setting them off and, again, end up on the floor.
Traps themselves were pretty neat, remaining invisible unless you detected them, but glowing red if you did detect. Traps also lead to our first real wipe in the game. We opened a door to a hallway and the usual bad guys on the other side were waiting. Everybody piled through the door except me and my bow. Once over the threshold we were greeted by about a half a dozen traps which managed to drop everybody but Khelgar, Peri, and Bard. They managed to make it through the traps to chase down the baddies on the far side.
In an effort to support them I started working my way through the traps.
only trigger one myself, which dropped me as well.
There, on the floor, I was thinking, “Oh crap. Are we done? What is the penalty for death or defeat?”
Well, in what might be a hat tip to MMORPGs, the death penalty was pretty mild. There was a debuff of some sort, but we were just grouped back up pretty much on the other side of the door where we started the fight.
So we were able to get back up and carry on, though we showed a bit more care. Well, some of us did. Neeshka persisted in running straight at everything and getting incapacitated.
We did end up having to explore the dimensions of resting. The rest option to heal up won’t work if there are bad guys close by, or in areas that I am going to guess are flagged as “no rest.” But we were able to find spots to rest up after fights… generally to get Neeshka back to full health yet again… along the way.
We managed to fight our way through and pick the correct door on the first try to find the main bad guy in the crypts underneath the graveyard. He has plans for us, and set his minions upon us.
Well, him and his five undead helpers were no match for us… to the point that I wonder if we might be unbalancing the story a bit with three of us playing. Is everything built for single player without any scaling up for additional players?
Anyway, it was there we found the garrison leader, Commander Tann, from Fort Locke.
He thanked us for rescuing him and implored us to help find any of his missing men in the crypts. So we began a complete crawl through the place, figuring that there must be more of the Fort Locke team to rescue. We made our way to the end of the crypt and back up to the surface, Neeshka leading with her chin at all times, thus remaining on the floor incapacitated for most fights.
We went through the second crypt, clearing it of undead, dragging the semi-animate corpse that was Neeshka along with us. I realize that you can turn off the AI and take over the NPCs. However, we were doing well enough without her, so it seemed easier just to let her pull aggro.
The second crypt had no troops from Fort Locke, so we went back to the surface and headed into the third crypt, which turned out to be the back entrance for the first crypt. But we had left a couple of rooms unexplored, so went through and killed every last undead and looted every last chest.
We actually started picking up some loot we could use. Along the way I ended up with two rings, including a +lore ring, which helps you identify objects as you pick them up, and which seemed to also give off additional light. Fergorin picked up a nice piece of chest armor. And Peri got a headband that actually showed up on her character. I think you can see it in some of the later screen shots.
After rooting out every last item in the crypt, we began to suspect that just because Commander Tann wanted us to help search for troopers did not mean that we would actually find them. Feeling that we had given a solid junior college try, we opted to pack up and head on back to Fort Locke.
That meant a transition to the zone of green fields and sunshine again. Lt. Anton was out on the road with a couple of troopers to meet us, and he did not look happy. He attempted to cover up his incompetence/treason by trying to kill the lot of us. It is like he didn’t expect us to make it out in the first place!
Neeshka obliged us with one more suicide run, battering Lt. Anton’s fist with her face until she fell over yet again. The rest of us cleaned up Lt. Anton and his cronies. After that we headed into Fort Locke where Commander Tann rewarded us for our help and gave us access to the amenities of the fort. One of the things the fort offered was crafting stations.
I had seen that there were crafting skills on the character sheets, but I had not invested anything in them. Crafting was left unexplored by us.
More important was access to the fort’s vendor.
This allowed us to unload a lot of the stuff we had picked up along the way. I had be squirreling away gems and such. And we were able to pick up a few items as well. There was no armor to be had, but there was a fine list of weapons to choose from. I ended up with a +1 compound bow. And there was ammunition. I had almost run out of arrows in our travels, so I picked up a pile of those.
After doing the vendor and getting ourselves squared away, we took a final screen shot of our current party.
Neeshka and Commander Tann both still have the zombie stink on them. Life in the wilds.
Then Potshot did the big save and we were done for the night.
Overall, it was a much better session than last time. We figured out how to actually do things. We faced our first defeat. And we actually found a vendor, which was surprisingly important to us. It was a very good group experience and I was upfront in saying that we need to continue our NWN2 experiment, even if we have to do it on an off night.
Not that everything was perfect.
The controls are still a bit awkward. The camera sits firmly in the opposition camp. The game has trouble with character movement when you play solo on your own machine, letting you move and jumping you back to where you just were at times. That annoyance was multiplied by all of us depending on Potshot’s machine, where I would move ahead to scout and suddenly get jumped back to the party. And then there is the NPC AI, which is a well known weakness of the game.
But as a group experience, it was still pretty good. As Tipa noted in a comment, you really have to stick together as a group. You are playing as an adjunct to one person’s game, so you cannot expect to run off and have your own independent existence. And Potshot owns the save. Nobody can play the adventure unless he plays.
For the most part though, it is looking good so far.