Maven the Craven Manning the Canon (Baldur's Gate Original Trilogy Run)

JustKneller

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Baldur's_Gate_box.jpg


Table of Contents

Introduction
Episode Zero: From Zero to Hero
Episode One: Till We Meet Again
Episode Two: Like a Rolling Stone, pt. 1
Episode Two: Like a Rolling Stone, pt. 2
Episode Three: You Must Gather Your Party Before Venturing Forth?
Episode Four: We're Gonna Need a Montage
Episode Five: Dungeons, but No Dragons
Episode Six: You Don't Have to Go Home, but You Can't Stay Here
Episode Seven: Another Red Herring
Episode Eight: Less Sharp Than Expected
Episode Nine: You Can't Go Home Again
Episode Ten: Just a Little Detour
Episode Eleven: We're Going In
 
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JustKneller

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<table of contents>

Introduction

Confession: I've never finished the Baldur's Gate series. It is what it is. Unpopular opinion to follow.

IE games are like a pizza. Planescape: Torment is like the signature design gourmet chorizo, onion, and goat cheese pizza that isn't terribly well made, but the flavors are amazing and more than make up for it. Icewind Dale is like a cheese pizza, but likely the best made pizza you ever had. It's a very dependable choice for when you want a satisfying pizza, without worrying about toppings sending the flavor off in a weird direction. Baldur's Gate is like a 60-inch everything pizza. And, by everything, I mean shit that doesn't even belong on a pizza like parsnips, bananas, and scrambled eggs. It's not the best made, and not the best flavor. However, there is a lot of it and if you can finish it in one sitting, it's free and you get your picture on the wall of the pizza place. It's less a meal and more an accomplishment.

BG2 alone is a long game. And, while there is a lot of story to be had, it doesn't all fit together really well. I've finished the first game a fair number of times, but I could never make it all the way through BG2. I don't think I've ever made it further than Spellhold and I've never actually even been in Watcher's Keep or explored the ToB content. I just burn out long before all that trying to complete everything, usually in a nonsensical way. It's been decades and I can't seem to cinch this game up, yet I keep bringing it out every couple years to try. But, I'm determined this time. This time is it.

I figure the thing that will help me is to really immerse myself in it and commit. I guess you could say it's a roleplay run, though I'm not going to be doing funny voices or wearing costumes, at least, for all you know. :p Instead, I'll be making choices based around what I think this character would do and headcanon any narrative gaps, rather than follow the prescribed flow of play in a video game (i.e. follow a MQ while picking up side quests along the way). I'm also posting a screenshot let's play to give myself an extra layer of accountability. Additionally, the SSLP format also forces me to break up play so I don't play “too much” in one sitting.

This will be the time that I play through the whole saga. I just feel it.

You Must Gather Your Party Before Venturing Forth

I was originally going to blow through with a Cleric/Ranger taking along Imoen in BG1 and Yoshi->Imoen in BG2 to speed things up. Full parties can play really slow and I kinda just wanted to get this done. However, I thought I owed it to the canon party, the characters I've dragged along on so many playthroughs that I never could be bothered to finish. Finishing this game won't just be my victory, but theirs as well.

Because I'm going canon, I will also be dualing Imoen at level 7 to a mage to retro-jive (sure, that's a word) with her character in BG2. It gives me smh feels every time I think about it. Level 6 would have been much better for a dual. She could still max out traps and locks, and the catch up period would be much shorter. As is, if you also want to play with the canon party, you either can't follow the prescribed flow of the game, or you end up in a really awkward place without a thief for a long while. Indeed, the very atypical path that I take here is largely due (on the meta) to Imoen's dual. I could also knock her down a level of thief in BG2, and do what I want in BG1. But, for some reason, that doesn't sit right with me.

For BG1, that gives me a final party of Imoen, Jaheira, Khalid, Minsc, and Dynaheir. For BG2, it's Jaheira, Minsc, Yoshi -> Imoen as the core. The remaining slots in BG2 cycled between various NPCs for their quests. I am writing this before the actual run, so I have yet to decide who, if anyone, I'm taking the final slots. I'm leaning towards Jan since he's the only thief that still levels in Classic (and I like turnip stories, and traps are fun, and I'll have an extra back line slot). I'm also leaning towards big ol' Bro in ToB, just to bring the family back together.

This is also intended to be a mostly completionist run. There are a handful of things I might skip for roleplay and meta reasons (and I'll note why/when I do), but I want to try and take a character through all the game's content. It will likely be a challenge to do this, partly due to the character build I have in mind, and partly for it to come off organic with the "roleplay" aspect.

Technical Notes

I'm playing the original trilogy, not the EE, as packaged by GOG. Apparently, you can't even get the original recipe anymore because Beamdog killed it. Booooo! For BG1, I'm playing using EasyTutu (BG1 in the BG2 UI). I considered just going with the original BG1, keeping it real, but it's so low res that I couldn't do it. Plus, playing through with the same res and UI means more consistency in screenshots.

Both the original devs and EasyTutu did some weird stuff with NPC proficiencies. I'll be correcting these in Shadowkeeper as I go with a note to explain the rationale. Additionally, whatever I build in BG1, I will SK in BG2 to maintain continuity.

Who the Hell Is This Other Chatterbox?

You will see some format changes once we really get the ball rolling with this SSLP. I haven't hit my head or anything. This is intentional.

When you see this, you are reading the subjective third-person reliable narrator giving you our main character's perspective.

But, if the text looks like this, the player of the game is sharing some pertinent meta.

One of us figured that pointing this out was important. Don't ask who. We both think it was the other person's idea. ;)

And speaking of chatter, feel free to comment with questions and feedback in the post. Discussion is always welcome. I have a table of contents in the top post and links in the individual episodes to organize the actual Let's Play so it can flow for a reader. As such, we don't need to worried about the thread getting cluttered.

<next episode>
 
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JustKneller

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<table of contents>
<previous episode>


Episode Zero: Zero to Hero

What of our intrepid hero? No, more like a protagonist. Then again, maybe not. Well, let's just say this is a person that, through some divine providence, always happens to be in the room when things are happening. Yes, that sounds about right.

EP00-01.jpg

Maven was not cut out for the life of an adventurer. At the start of our story, she will have lived in the cozy fortress of Candlekeep since infancy. The only adventure to be had was found in the great library's books or in the imaginations of her best friend, Imoen, and herself. Her foster father, Gorion, had tried to get the local guard to teach her some basic self-defense, but even the thought of participating in a fight induced vertigo. As far as Maven was concerned, fighting and killing were absolutely not in her nature. Perish the thought!

We are also going Female since one of the things I find to be ill fitting (and sometimes cringey) are the game's romances. Anomen is the only option for female characters, but I don't expect I'll be taking him, at least not for long. Meanwhile, Jaheira (who I am taking) is a romance option for male characters. Going with female will head that off at the pass so I don't have to worry about angering Jaheira by turning her down.

This will be somewhat of a pacifist run in that I am going to try and keep Maven's kill count to zero. I wouldn't call this a challenge, per se, since the rest of the party will be fighting, but more of a character/roleplay choice.


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In my opinion, the age continuity thing wasn't addressed well in this game, and I'm not talking about the dragon Bhaalspawn. For someone who came to Candlekeep with Imoen and grew up together, also having a “big sister” vibe, the only races that really make sense are Human, Halfling, Half-Orc, and Half-Elf. Dwarves, Elves, and Gnomes would be too immature at this age. For a Cleric/Wild Mage, a Half-Elf is really my only choice.

She was somewhat mockingly known as “Maven the Craven” around Candlekeep and she was aware of the nickname. She did not see what was the big deal. She understood that violence was sometimes a necessary course to protect good people, but warfare was not a skill that had any use for someone in her position. It was why Candlekeep had guards. Besides, she had other talents. Maven was a devout cleric of Oghma and and also started learning the arcane arts. Gorion mentored her in the latter pursuit. She was diligent in both her service and studies, though more than just a little accident prone.

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She is actually a Cleric/Wild Mage. Class combination made possible by Shadowkeeper. But it was not straightforward at all to set up correctly. Don't even get me started. In the end, the Wild Mage side is working fine. I can get wild surges on Cleric spells, but not variable casting level. That's ok. I'm just in this for the wild surges. Because of the pacifism element, she won't learn any direct damage spells, and if she accidentally kills someone (i.e. through a wild surge), it will be a reload.

It was not her fault. Magic just seemed to occasionally have a mind of its own around her. But, her father was always there to help undo what gets done. In any event, not everyone is born to be a warrior. There are other paths in life to follow that don't involve wanton bloodshed and destruction. Maven was cut from a different cloth. Simply put, Maven's path was one of mind over muscle and brains over blood. And, she was probably better off for it.

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Maven means well, truly, she does. It is just that sometimes a situation gets carried away or out of hand. Even with the powers of the divine and the arcane, things happen that one doesn't intend. She has long since given up on trying to control anything, thinking this a futile pursuit.

I think Chaotic Neutral was one of the most debated alignments back in my tabletop days, even more so than Lawful Good. Some people think Chaotic Neutral makes you a coin tossing sociopath, but I think one can be a perfectly reasonable and down-to-earth person with this alignment. Chaotic can be someone who cares more about the people around them than the bigger picture, Neutral can be someone who doesn't want bad things to happen to anyone, but isn't inspired to be some kind of crusader for good.

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Even if she wanted to be the fighting type, Maven simply did not have the physique for it. She could barely lift a sword and only draw the string on the weakest of bows. She would be lucky if she could hit the broad side of a barn. On top of that, such exertion was so tiring. She couldn't fathom how wars could last for years, as just a few swings of her walking stick (barely a quarterstaff) left her winded.

Where Maven excelled, though, was in the higher minded undertakings. She easily followed the teachings of her spiritual mentors. She was a top student of the arcane. And, even when she had an accident with either divine or arcane magic, she was always able to smooth things over.


Let's make this interesting. The absolute “worst” character in the game, who also happens to be a Cleric/Mage (Quayle), is 67 points. So that's the budget we have to work with here. If you consider that the traditional method of character creation (in original D&D) had characters averaging 63 points, we have a whole 4 extra ability points here. That's practically powergaming! :p

Maven's physical stats are Str 7, Dex 6, and Con 7. Low enough to be on the weaker and clumsier side of things, but not so low as to take any major penalties (except Str, but the tome will fix that). Considering I'm playing a non-combat spellcaster, I shouldn't have to rely on my THAC0, AC, or HP for anything. If a situation gets to that point, I probably did something terribly wrong and should just reload. As for the other attributes, we have Int 18, Wis 16, and Cha 13. For a character with such a terrible ability point total, she is actually pretty cherry. With the Int tomes, she will have room for all mage spells and at a 95% scribe rate, a heap of bonus cleric spells, +24 Lore, and max shop discount with a Friends spell. I could have sank Cha for max Wis to optimize, but there are roleplay reasons for this.


I also ended up dumping 20 ability points when I created this character! Wow, that hurts.

Her starting spells are Blindness, Charm Person, Find Familiar, Friends, Identify, Sleep, and Spook. Of course, she also has Nahal's Reckless Dweomer, Chaos Shield, and Improved Chaos Shield.


EP00-06.jpg

All things considered, Maven had it pretty good in Candlekeep. This was definitely the life for her.

<next episode>
 
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BelgarathMTH

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I look forward to reading this. I haven't seen a story-based documented run in a while. I think it's good to put it in its own thread this way, so that it doesn't get mixed up with more mechanics-based no-reload runs. I see you're not going for a no- or minimal-reload any way, but rather just prioritizing your story.

It's a lot of work, but hopefully you will find it motivational enough to keep going. Any time I ever used to start a story-based documented run, I would usually get tired of writing detailed chapter-length story posts and start giving shorthand summaries of what happened in the game without writing in full characterization or detail. It'll be interesting to see how it works out for you in the long run.

Thanks for using spoiler tags on your screenshots so that the thread loading doesn't get out of control. I always appreciate that courtesy.
 

JustKneller

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<table of contents>
<previous episode>


Episode One: Till We Meet Again

“Courage is found in unlikely places.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien

EP01-01.jpg

Maven was on her way to Winthrop's Inn to purchase sundries for a journey with her father. She knew little more than this, just that they needed to prepare fast and leave faster. Maven believed it was all her fault but would insist it was an accident, if anyone would listen. She was only trying to use a Friends spell to convince a Reader to let her into a restricted area so she could study a fascinating tome on Mythals (tipping the hat to Icewind Dale here:)). But, sometimes accidents happen when Maven does magic, and this accident was to twist the Friends spell into a Fireball. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, aside from a few patrons needing to regrow their eyebrows. However, the librarians were quite cross over their History of the Drow section now being just history.

She was currently prohibited from even entering the library. Maven would admit that it was her worst accident to date. Still, she thought it was excessive and unreasonable to expel her and her father from they place they have called home nearly her entire life. Maven shuddered to think how she would fare in the world outside these walls. She had heard tell of bandits and other villains. She also had read about creatures that inhabited dire places and wandered the lands. A life on the road was simply not the life for her.

In any event, Winthrop's stock was essentially just weapons and armor. Maven was hoping to find a good book to read on the road and a decent bottle of wine, perhaps even some Baldur's Grape (
yeah, it's actually a thing). Sadly, Winthrop had neither so Maven decided to squirrel away her meager riches for another time. She had her walking stick and her cat, Jinx. That was all the outfitting she needed. She was sure Father would cover the rest.

Maven bid farewell to Firebead Elvenhair, a regular visitor to the library. The elf asked her to find Tethtoril and fetch a scroll and she happily obliged. Firebead was always pleasant company and Tethtoril bailed her out of many a (usually spellcasting) kerfuffle. After she returned, Firebead repaid her with a blessing to protect her against evil. However, Maven was hoping he would also tell her about the world outside the walls so she would better know what to expect. She bought a glass of mead from Winthrop and proceeded to bend the old elf's ear.


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Maven must have bent it a little too much because Firebead generously gifted her with a tidy sum of three hundred gold for her travels and urged her to seek out her father. She thanked him sincerely and took her leave.

Probably a well known hidden trick, but if you talk to Firebead exactly 30 times (including quest dialogue) and then wait a bit, he kicks 300 gold your way.

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Maven passed by the Priests' Quarters while she was out and about. She considered stopping in to apologize to the cleric she accidently turned bright red when she was trying to bless him. It was apparently no consolation when Maven mentioned that Oghma actually prefers bright colors. She only made it just outside the door when she decided to leave it be. Maven figured that the crimson glow would wear off eventually. Her accidents never left a lasting mark. Well, except the fireball in the library, but she refused to beat herself up over that.

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She paused for just a moment as she passed by the bunkhouse. Despite their unflattering nickname for her, "Maven the Craven", she still held the guards in good esteem. They provided a valuable service to the library and she did not take it for granted. She quietly wished them well under her breath and kept walking.

I intentionally skipped the confrontations between Shank and Carbos at the Priests' Quarters and Bunkhouse, respectively. Generally, I'm aiming for a completionist run, but considering these two somehow show up in BG2, I thought it appropriate to the narrative to give them a pass.

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Jondalar and Reevor were out and about today. Jondalar was always “picking fights” with Maven, as she called it. Though, she knew he meant well and was just trying to train her. Reevor was the same way, always offering her some “real combat experience” with the rats in the storehouse. As she passed by, Maven jokingly asked Jinx if he wanted to earn his stripes with “Commander Reevor” and kill some rats. Jinx replied that he “couldn't be arsed” and nestled back into Maven's rucksack. As she continued on, she wondered where he learned such language.

I did attempt the Jondalar practice fight on first pass, but apparently the damage is real with EasyTutu and you can (and I did) die. As for Reevor, I favored letting Jinx show his personality over completing a simple rat killing quest. Jinx could haven taken out the rats without giving Maven a kill count, though.

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Yet another of Candlekeep's finest attempted to teach Maven the ways of war. You would think that she was born to kill with how this combat curriculum is being thrust upon her. She politely declined and continued on her way.

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Maven thought Hull could have been a little more thankful. She was only looking for an antidote for Dreppin and offered to pick up Hull's sword which he forgot in his footlocker. She also picked up some crossbow bolts for another Watcher, Fuller, and received the same treatment. Maven though it was quite undeserved since she was only trying to help. She especially always seemed to rub Hull the wrong way, at least since that Cure Light Wounds spell she once cast on him went awry. On the other hand, Hull having to spend a couple of hours as a woman could have been an enlightening experience, had he given it a chance. There is just no pleasing some people.

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One of Maven's last goodbyes was to her dear friend Imoen, who she considered to be practically a sister. This would be the first time they would be apart in as long as they have lived in Candlekeep. Maven offered to ask Gorion if Imoen could tag along, but Imoen rebuffed and even seemed to know more than she was telling.

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Having made her preparations and said her goodbyes, Maven met up with her father. She was full of questions, but he did not seem to be in the mood to give answers. As they left he instructed her to make her way to the Friendly Arm Inn should anything happen. Maven was now wracked with worry. How terrible was their exodus going to be?

EP01-10.jpg

Thanks wild surge! I now have a Cat +1. I actually almost forgot to summon a familiar before leaving Candlekeep. It more than doubled my HP from 5 to 11!

<next episode>
 
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Black Elk

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Just had to join the peanut gallery right quick hehe. I'm a sucker for a nice table of contents, annotations & illustrations! A little tangle of blue and a great intro - Hell yeah!

I'll admit to reading it over first and then going back up to open the little windows, only to discover pure joy at the visuals there. That's the look! Something about the color grading, and the tiny UI elements. I can just hear that level-up sound in my head without even needing to hear it lol. Also, I can fully get behind this choice to port BG1 into the BG2, cause it fully activates all my nostalgia for the happy aughts. Like maybe a little rough around the edges sure, but with Shadowkeeper held close to the shadowheart, a little dreamwork & some elbow grease, it's basically perfect. Or if not quite that, at least it's got provenance. Good call! The big box image at the top that alone would have me showing out, but then I see Imoen in that last frame, and I'm instantly transported! Well done!!! Have fun on the adventure and all the best
 

JustKneller

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<table of contents>
<previous episode>


Episode Two: Like a Rolling Stone (pt. 1)

"How does it feel,
how does it feel?
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown,
like a rolling stone" -- Bob Dylan

Upon their exit from Candlekeep, Gorion led Maven immediately off the road and through the forest. In the dark of the night, Maven could not make heads or tails of where they were going and was astounded that Gorion was able to move with such intent and purpose. They did not make it far before they were intercepted by a viciously armored figured and his goons.

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These were not common bandits. They were on the hunt and their prey was apparently Maven! She was beside herself with shock. Before she could regain her senses, her father had chosen to square off against their adversaries. He demanded that she run, though it was a fiery bolt from one of the ruffians that grazed her which broke her out of her daze. And then run she did.

The battle raged and slowly faded away behind her. In the darkness, in a strange land, she knew not where to go, but just to run. Eventually, she stumbled into a thicket gasping for breath. Maven hid and tried to collect herself. She could not hear the battle anymore. Was it over or had she run that far? Where was her father? He was a powerful mage. Was he victorious? If not, where shall she go? What shall she do?


This next bit is a little extra. I always wondered why Sarevok didn't just follow GW's trail after taking Gorion down. It wasn't a long fight and he clearly was the superior combatant.

Eventually, Maven heard someone approaching. Two someones, actually. Thankfully, they blew by her thicket without pause. Maven was practically holding her breath. They suddenly stopped a mere ten paces from where she was hiding. Maven thought she was caught and could barely muffle a cry. They regarded the ground quite seriously and growled something about how the tracks stop at the road. Then they took a quick look around, grumbled some more, and headed off.

Right after they left, delirium arrived and Maven passed out.


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Maven was woken the next morning by none other than Imoen. She had found where Gorion made his last stand and confirmed his tragic fate. Maven asked how Imoen could have known and her friend admitted to reading a letter when snooping through Gorion's things recently. Imoen pledged to stick to Maven's side, though, whatever is to come. The reunion was bittersweet to Maven. On one hand, Imoen is the one person aside from her father she would want with her in this situation. On the other hand, Imoen leaving Candlekeep meant she could not return due to their strict entry rules. Imoen sacrificed everything for Maven, and Maven would never forget this.

Imoen helped Maven extract herself from the thicket. As they plucked the cockleburs off the disheveled Half-Elf, Maven thought of the trackers from the night before and asked Imoen how she found her in the thicket. Imoen reminded her of the thicket in Candlekeep they would always hide in as kids after some mischief or another that they inflicted on the Readers. Maven flashed a smile that quickly faded away. This was much bigger trouble than any of their childhood shenanigans. That was for certain.

Maven wanted to see Gorion. Imoen started to say something, but changed her mind. She then mentioned that his body was to the north. Even if those goons were not around anymore, the forest still teems with dangerous creatures. So, Maven took Jinx out of her pack and requested he stick to the shadows and scout ahead. He begrudgingly complied.


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They found where Gorion had fallen and also saw the bodies of two Ogres he had slain before his own life was taken. Maven fell over his body and wept. As she did, she tried to lift him up. If she could only drag him to a temple, he could be risen. She could barely budge him. For the first time, Maven cursed neglecting her fitness. Even with Imoen's help, they simply did not have the strength to move him. (carry weight 80lbs. between the two of them). Maven could not leave him to the wild creatures of the forest, but they simply had no choice.

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They gathered the possessions of the fallen, including the letter that Imoen mentioned. Maven wondered who “E” was. It was this “E” who directed her father to leave Candlekeep. Could “E” be trusted? If they had stayed, they would have also had the protection of the Watchers and many other mages. Questions started to flood into her mind, but Imoen urged that they should make haste. Maven snapped out of it and they departed, trying not to look back as they went.

Jinx continued to be their scout as they headed east. They stayed near, but off the road, as much as they could. Jinx discovered another two travelers on the road, but reported back that they had an odd way about them and one of them stunk of death. And so, they steered clear.


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The one silver lining of this day was that Jinx caught the glint of something in a tree. Upon investigation, they discovered a diamond that had been tucked away! With their resources so limited, it was a much appreciated boon.

Thank god for the cat. I now have a roleplay reason to find the hidden stashes. :)

<next episode>
 

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JustKneller

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<table of contents>
<previous episode>

Episode 2: Like a Rolling Stone, pt. 2

The one where I discovered the 10000 character post limit. :p

Continued...


There's a Ring of Protection +1 in a rock north of this encounter, but as you will see, there was no roleplay reason to head over there.

On the Lion's Way, they crossed paths with a strange old man who encouraged the women to seek friends at the Friendly Arm Inn and then quickly made his exit. This stopped Maven in her tracks. Gorion was directed to go to the Friendly Arm Inn, but they did not take the road there. Instead, they cut straight through the woods. Yet, their attackers seemed to know exactly where to find them. At the very least, they must have known they were going to this inn and supposed they would stay off the roads. Maven was the one they wanted and she presumed that they still wanted her. So, was it even safe to go to the Friendly Arm Inn? Could her new enemy be there with his goon squad, just waiting for her? Who was that strange, old man anyway? Is he part of a trap?

Maven was ever so exhausted (
fatigued, that's what Con 7 gets you) and just wanted to rest in a comfortable bed. But, she had a horrible feeling about continuing their course. On top of that, she now had Imoen with her. She simply could not bear losing both her father and her best friend. Whoever was hunting her was still out there. If she did not want to be found, then she must do the unexpected. The Friendly Arm Inn was to the north. So, they must head south.

Southwards would bring them to the town of Beregost. It was not Waterdeep, but it was a place where they could likely blend in. She had no idea how they would survive there, but Maven felt this was their best chance. Between the diamond they found and the gold from Firebead, they should be able to last a while on their savings while they sorted out their next move.

Aside from a pack of gibberlings that they were able to outrun, the trio (as we cannot forget Jinx) made it to Beregost by nightfall without incident. They were greeted by a local guide. He gave them the lay of the land, part of which mentioned that Feldepost's was the place to be for some luxury. Maven swore that they would be frugal going forward, but just for this one night, she wanted the best Beregost had to offer.

Their experience at Feldepost's started with being accosted by a drunk. However, Maven was able to talk their way out of the situation (
easy 900xp). Aside from that, the inn lived up to its reputation.


Maven and Imoen shared the largest flagon of Evermead Feldepost's had to offer. While they imbibed, the heard a rumor about a bounty on an evil Cleric. Maven facetiously toasted him with Imoen and uttered, “pity to the hunted”. Though really she was talking about herself. After their drinks were drunk, and so were they, they retired to their royal accommodations.

The next morning, they decided that they needed a plan. First, they were no longer Maven and Imoen. Instead, they were Lucy and Ethel Nessa, two sisters who came to Beregost to strike out on our own. Maven figured that the enemy was looking for a single traveler with no family, not a pair of sisters. Maven doubted their enemy also knew Dreppin and his cows well enough to see through the false surname. Next, they had to figure out how they were going to make their means. They had no ideas here. However, they knew Firebead Elvenhair lived in town and should have returned from Candlekeep by now. He was a trustworthy acquaintance and so they decided to visit him.



You can do the gold trick again for another 300 gold here.

Firebead was home, as expected, and gave them a quick errand to fetch a book at Feldepost's. After they completed the task, Firebead gifted Maven with a book about how Myrkul, Bane, and Bhaal came into power.

Headcanon time.

They then explained their situation to the elf, their new assumed names, and need for a plan. Firebead was immensely helpful. First, he put them onto Borland, a slightly eccentric fellow across town who would give them free lodgings. Second, he suggested a shop in town manned by a surly dwarf that builds adventuring companies. Additionally, he mentioned that one of Borland's neighbors might want some assistance tracking down her husband who is traveling on business. Third, he informed them that there was a reclusive mage living to the west that sold arcane supplies, but that the path was treacherous and they should not go alone. Finally, he gave Maven another three hundred gold to help them on their way. The two women expressed sincere gratitude and left to get started on a new life.


This container is safe unguarded storage.

Borland was a tad eccentric, as Firebead mentioned. However, he was pleasant enough and kept out of the women's business. They set up in a backroom and stashed away Gorion's letter and Firebead's book. The day was still young and they now had leads to follow. They rested for a moment before they set out on their course.

It was then that a darkness blanketed Maven's heart as she thought about her enemy. Maven had no inclinations to do harm to another until now. She tried not to think about how she had to leave Gorion, but could not stop thinking about the foul monster that struck him down.

Maven decided that she would find a way to have his head, even if she had to do it herself, somehow.


<next episode>
 
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JustKneller

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So, I've already bungled a few obstacles that I'm trying to fix.

1) Working out Maven's motivation for adventuring. She wants revenge, but wandering around doing random quests isn't going to get her there. Meanwhile, for someone with her upbringing, she would be more inclined for Imoen to take work at an inn while she finds some sort of bookish profession in Beregost. This would give her a place to blend in while she works out a plan to track down her enemy. I think I made her too timid and bookish. I'm trying to cobble something sensible together, but I kinda wrote myself into a corner a little.

2) Party dynamics. I had a plan for the flow of play. I have to pick up Jah and Khalid later because they effectively start the MQ. I had a plan to get Minsc and Dynaheir sooner (so I can build his profs the way I want). And then a handful of NPCs in between to fill the gaps. However, I'm realizing it's not going to work as intended so I need to restrategize.

3) Nashkel. Specifically Brage. It would be hard to "happen" to miss him while wandering the sword coast. However, once you turn him in to Helm's temple (which is what I would do) and leave, you're forced to cross paths with the Mayor and get the quest for the mines (which puts you on the MQ.

4) Screenshots. I slacked off the past session or two and am trying to back track to get something.
 

JustKneller

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Ok, I think I have it all figured out except for the party thing. I think when I envisioned the path for BG1, I had a frontliner in the mix. Where it gets complicated is that I intend to pick up Safana to cover Imoen's dual. But if I also have Minsc and Dynaheir, that means I have a cleric/mage, mage (with thief levels in limbo), mage, thief, and ranger. That's four in the back, and max two in the front. I could hold off on Minsc and Dynaheir until round the time I'm ready for Jah and Khalid (and take two front liners in their place). However, Minsc and Dynaheir's dejemma was going to be the core of our motivation for wandering around the Sword Coast before getting hooked up with Jaheira and Khalid, as well has helping Maven appreciate the path of the adventurer, and Imoen dual classing to a mage. This is a huge chunk of game, more so the larger the party (because it will take longer for Imoen to catch up).

It's way too weak of a front line, but the story kinda falls apart without them. :censored:
 

JustKneller

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<table of contents>
<previous episode>


Episode Three: You Must Gather Your Party Before Venturing Forth?

E03-01.jpg

Maven decided to start with the Dwarf, Kagain. They would not fare too well on their own, so they were hoping to team up with some muscle. Firebead was slightly misinformed in that Kagain's business was actually hiring sword arms to guard caravans. However, at the moment, he was looking for help to investigate a missing caravan. He would accompany them, of course. This was not the kind of thing for which Maven was hoping. Then again, she was not sure what she should expect from the “adventuring” life. She considered a different course. Imoen could work at an inn as she did for Winthrop and Maven could find something more in line with her talents. Then again, Beregost did not appear to be the kind of place with many opportunities for scribes and sages. And so, despite the Dwarf's unpleasant demeanor, they accepted the job.

EasyTutu gives Kagain Axes++ and Two Weapon Fighting++. However, the original game has him at Axe++, Blunt+, and Missile+. I corrected this to Axe++, Hammer+, and Crossbow+

Before leaving town, the women spent some of their meager funds to outfit Kagain with better armor and a shield. They had wished the Dwarf was better equipped, as he is essentially all that is standing between them in death by gibberling. It was a necessary investment that the Dwarf greedily accepted. Additionally, Maven requested they visit the mage to the west to see what his inventory was like. Kagain grumbled but ultimately agreed.

E03-02.jpg

On their way to the mage, they crossed paths with a rather intense Elf. He was wandering the region seeking revenge for a lost love. Maven understood revenge and as they were now wanderers themselves, he was welcomed into the fold.

EasyTutu switched Kivan's Spear++ to Halberd++. I get it, spears suck in this game (though halberds aren't much better). However, we're keeping it real so I changed it back. I'll put him on swords from here, as per the original game, so it won't be all bad. Besides, he's mainly an archer.

They also found a rather unusual short sword while seeking out the wizard. It was not fancy by any means, but someone took the trouble to engrave “Perdue” into the blade near the hilt. Maven decided to hold on to it. She could stash it at Borland's. You never know.

Unfortunately, the wizard did not have anything of interest that they could afford. The four of them returned to Beregost to rest up and prepare for this caravan search.


E03-03.jpg

The party headed north as the caravan's path was from Beregost to Baldur's Gate. They did not get far before Kagain decided to give up on his job. He was content to travel with them, but he apparently just could not be bothered to find the lost caravan. Maven was nonplussed at this behavior and questioned what kind of companion the Dwarf would be.

E03-04.jpg

Maven quickly found her niche in this adventuring party. While she was very much not inclined to spill blood, she could contribute in other ways. Her healing would always be welcome, but even in the fray, a strategic use of a blindness or sleep spell could make short work for her more martial companions. To think, she previously only ever used this spell to sneak by Readers in the library.

E03-05.jpg

Found this on a Gibberling on the map north of Beregost. A magical scimitar? I've never seen this before. I think this is what I'll build Kivan into. What a random find.

I also picked up the Ring of Protection +1 in the northwest quadrant of the map while we were here.


E03-06.jpg

My first wild surge. Sorry, Kagain, guess you're going to have to use your natural regeneration on this one.

Maven and company returned to Beregost after the carvan job fell through. They did not have much of a plan from here. There were a few jobs to be taken in Beregost that would take them out of town and into the wilds. Kivan was particularly interested in such a course since he was not comfortable in the city. Maven already thought that Borland's was more than “rustic” enough for her tastes. Sleeping outdoors? On the ground? Maven let out an exasperated sigh at the thought of it. But, this was the life of an adventurer, and the only life available to her at this time.

Still, she inconspicuously looked around at her companions and had to wonder. Of course, she was glad for Imoen's company. But, the Dwarf was quite unpleasant and avaricious. And the Elf, while decent, was also rather intense. Neither of the two seemed to like each other much and were like polar opposites (
LE and CG, go figure;)). This is not the kind of party Maven had read about in any book in Candlekeep. Sure, this was not to be her fate.

Ok, I hopefully figured out the party problem. However, this involves traveling with larger parties than I intended for longer periods of time. I might not hit the levels I need when I need them and it could brick my run. But, we'll see what happens.

<next episode>
 
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BelgarathMTH

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I'd forgotten how much EasyTutu changes the game from its vanilla version. NPC Project also puts in a lot of little-known changes besides just adding dialogues, that wind up changing the base gameplay.

After years of modding, it gets hard to remember what adds what - the tendency is to start misremembering mod material as always having been part of the game.
 

JustKneller

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I'd forgotten how much EasyTutu changes the game from its vanilla version. NPC Project also puts in a lot of little-known changes besides just adding dialogues, that wind up changing the base gameplay.

After years of modding, it gets hard to remember what adds what - the tendency is to start misremembering mod material as always having been part of the game.

Thankfully, this site is still up and running. It's based on BG classic, not EE, Tutu, or any other mods. :)
 

JustKneller

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<table of contents>
<previous episode>

Episode Four: We're Gonna Need a Montage

Maven and company continued to take odd adventuring jobs around Beregost.

EP04-01.jpg

They "disbanded" a group of goblin bandits,

EP04-02.jpg

liberated a talking chicken,

EP04-03.jpg

and restored him to humankind.

EP04-04.jpg

They even took down the evil cleric that Maven and Imoen heard about their first night there.

The company was not the best of friends (except for Maven and Imoen, of course), but they all played their part in getting the job done.


EP04-05.jpg

Despite Kagain's frequent grumbling, it was actually Jinx who was the malcontent of the bunch. After being sniffed out by a couple of ogrillons, he started to question why he was the scout when we had a perfectly capable Ranger in the party. Maven did not want to offend the Elf by remarking as to how Jinx made for a better scout. It would not have mattered anyway. Jinx made himself a permanent home in her pack and said he refused to partake in any more death-defying solo missions. As his master, Maven could have made him continue his service, but for the sake of diplomacy and consideration, she acquiesced to his "retirement".

EP04-06.jpg

The party finished the last of the jobs in Beregost by eliminating some ogres for Bjornin the Paladin.

From here, it was up to them to find new opportunities. They had heard rumors of treasure to be found in the Firewine Ruins as well as the Ulcaster school. They also could just explore the wilds around the Coast Way and see what adventure was to be had. As they rested in Beregost before their next expedition, they mulled (and sometimes squabbled) over their next move.


EP04-07.jpg

Are wild surges really wild or does the game just not want me to heal Kagain?

<next episode>
 
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JustKneller

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<table of contents>
<previous episode>

Episode Five: Dungeons, but No Dragons

Maven decided they would explore the Ulcaster School and then the Firewine Bridge. She was not keen to visit such dank and dark places, but such places are more likely to bear fruit than just wandering around the wilderness. Kagain was on board with his usual grumble. Kivan would have rather have ventured into the wilds, especially since he had an ogre to find. Still, he stayed on with the group. Imoen, as always, was by Maven's side.

They started with the school. Maven hoped, if not great treasures, she would at least find a good book. She already read the gift from Firebead more than once and could use some fresh material. The path to the school was fraught with skeletons, hobgoblins, and kobolds. The opposition posed no difficulty for our party. For as much as they seemed to hate each other, Kagain's hammer (which he looted from the cleric, Bassilus) and Kivan's bow made a great team.


EP05-01.jpg

I guess third time's a charm.

The surface of the ruins of the school itself was inhabited by more kobolds and undead. Of the latter there was a rather stalwart skeleton warrior, though the party dispatched it with ease.

EP05-02.jpg

The most interesting inhabitant was none other than the ghost of the eponymous Ulcaster himself. His spirit was at unrest and could not be settled without a tome of knowledge that lay within the ruins below. This must have been an interesting tome if it was keeping a spirit in the world of the living. Maven thought, should they find it, she would keep it for herself (that sounds pretty CN to me).

Now that Maven could cast Invisibility, Imoen was the new party scout since, unlike Kivan, she could also check for traps and other hazards as she went. Underground, the party found a giant spiders' nest and a couple of jellies.

EP05-03.jpg

However, wolves were the main inhabitants of the ruins. There were more than a dozen, for sure, that had set up dens across the ruins. Their pack leader was a vicious vampiric wolf. Even for this party, it was a challenging opponent...

EP05-04.jpg

..more so because Maven's blindness spell twisted into a hold spell, which then twisted into a harmless swarm of flies. Still, the party managed to take out the leader of the pack with no casualties.

They found the tome amongst the assorted rubbish in its nest. Maven brushed the loose debris off the book and opened it to see what kind of tome they discovered. A wizards spellbook? An arcane manual that confers a new power to its reader? She started to read the pages and found...


EP05-05.jpg

disappointment. This great “Tome of Knowledge” was just a book on the history of Selune and Shar. It was also one of the first books she had to study as part of her lessons with the Namers (i.e. Clerics of Oghma). Maven was dejected. She slapped the book closed and the party returned to the surface.

EP05-06.jpg

Having no use for the tome, Maven turned it over to the ghost who then went (presumably) into the light.

Overall, Maven was disappointed with their haul from the school. She had thought old ruins were the best places to find interesting relics. However, the bodies of what she assumed were other adventurers, and the ruins having been a mere wolf den, suggested that this place was long picked clean.

They returned to Beregost to restock and rest up. Maven hoped that Firewine would produce something more interesting. But, some old bridge ruins? It did not sound like a great prospect. Nevertheless, it was their only prospect at the moment so they embarked.

Kagain had been growing more ornery. He had complained when they sorted out the talking chicken without a reward. He had grumbled when the party saved a farmer's cow from some xvarts, despite party coming through without a scratch and the xvarts even having had some gold on them. He had even groaned over helping the injured paladin in Beregost, even though he was using the shield the party received as a reward. He seemed to be hoping for more riches and fewer good deeds. Maven would hardly consider herself a crusader for good, but this just happened to be where they found their opportunities.


EP05-07.jpg

The surly dwarf was mid-rant when the party came across a bizarre swordsman outside Firewine. Honestly, Maven just wanted to be on her way, but Kagain was spoiling for a fight and just could not keep his mouth shut. The swordsman did not stand much of a chance, but Maven found the whole affair to be quite unnecessary.

He was still dour when the party crossed paths with a mad wizard.


EP05-08.jpg

However, what finally gave him pause was when that wizard summoned a terror of an Ogre Mage.

EP05-09.jpg

This opponent was far beyond the party's abilities, so they retreated. Kagain still grumbled, but his mutterings had lost their edge. Maven wondered what they released into the world due to the Dwarf's ire.

The ruins themselves were less eventful. There was another ghost to put to rest, a startling number of kobolds equipped with fire arrows, and at the end of the maze a gang with a wizard, some ogrillons, and another ogre mage (
totally forgot screenshots). Fortunately, Maven's silence spell took hold and the mage fell quickly. The orgillons were short work as well. The orge mage would have posed more of a problem but Maven also managed to successfully cast a blindness spell. The ogre mage only managed to cast a confusion on Kagain before it could not see anyone to cast another spell.

Clearly, Kagain was still feeling quite irritable because he continued to attack the ogre despite being confused. The rest of the party supported from afar and steered clear of Kagain's hammer. After the ogre fell, the others fell back while they waited for Kagain's confusion to pass.


EP05-10.jpg

However, the ogre mage was not the mastermind behind it all. In fact, it was one of the halflings from Gullykin. For what reason he turned against his own people was unfathomable. They had no time to question him before he attacked and subsequently was slain.

This was hardly the most excitement to be found in Gullykin.


EP05-11.jpg

Apparently, Maven's enemy did have henchmen scouring the land to find her. And to find her in such a remote place like Gullykin! How did they even recognize her? And, just how many of these goon squads were out there?

The party returned to Beregost, with Maven deep in thought the whole way.


<next episode>
 
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JustKneller

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<table of contents>
<previous episode>

Episode Six: You Don't Have to Go Home, but You Can't Stay Here

One thing was for certain. The Dwarf had to go.

During the entire trip back to Beregost and for the couple days they remained to rest up, Kagain was asking prying questions about the bounty on Maven and why they even called her Maven when her name was Lucy. Maven was evasive, vaguely saying that there was clearly a misunderstanding, but that they would sort it out after she took some time to study and identify the treasures they found. Really, she just needed to buy some time to work out their next move.

How did her enemy know, or even guess, to find her in Gullykin? Granted, their deeds had been giving them some visibility. But, was Kagain in on it from the start? Did he already know who Maven was? Was he an accomplice to the bounty hunters in Gullykin? That could not be it. If so, he would have turned on them in that fight and not have been asking so many questions since. No, the Mayor of Gullykin already put out the word that they needed help, and the bounty hunters figured that Maven and company would be drawn to the prospect. That must be what happened.

Regardless, the Dwarf had to go. That was a given. Kivan seemed trustworthy enough, but Kagain was always looking for an angle. What would they do next? They could not stay in Beregost. If Kagain were to find out more about the bounty and then try to collect it himself, he would know right where to find them. They had a tidy sum of gold to their name and various treasures from Firewine and other ventures. They expected Kagain would want to take a sizeable cut when they part ways, but they still should have plenty afterwards to relocate.

Maven devised a plan. When Kagain was away checking into affairs at his shop, Maven explained the whole situation to Kivan: the death of her father, their secret identities, their life on the run, and her vow for some kind of revenge. Kivan understood, especially when Maven mentioned the part about revenge. She told him that her plan was for Imoen and her to go to Baldur's Gate. It was a much larger city and they should be able to fade into the crowd there. Both of them then would find some proper work while Maven figured out a way to track down her enemy before he found her. Maven asked Kivan if he could escort them to the city after parting ways with Kagain, just to make sure they made it safely. Kivan was happy to help, if only because it meant sticking it to the Dwarf.


E06-01.jpg

Maven and Imoen hastily gathered their things and met up with Kagain at his shop. Maven explained that a messenger had just arrived from Amn. Apparently, a cousin in Athkatla has reached out to her with an opportunity to work as a scribe with Imoen as her assistant. As such, her adventuring days were over. Kagain offered to accompany her to the city, Maven presumed so as to not let his “prize” out of his sight. Maven rebutted by telling the Dwarf that her cousin's house already had an escort arriving shortly to manage her journey. The Dwarf had no response for this, so he reluctantly acceded to the split.

He was sure to take his “fair share” of their treasure. He took all the gems and jewelry from the ruins, a magical suit of chainmail, the shield from the paladin, the hammer from the evil cleric, and a generous portion of their potions. His position was that, since they were out of the adventuring game, they would have no use for any of these items anyway. Maven was able to negotiate for the Girdle of Piercing that Kagain had been wearing under the pretense that she wanted to gift her cousin with it as a show of thanks for the opportunity. He also would often travel with caravans and would have some use for it. Kagain begrudgingly agreed, but only if she would throw in a few more potions.


That really hurt, but I had to keep it real for roleplay reasons. I'm not going to miss the money, as I'll have more than enough, I would have even given him a share of our gold if I could. But, that sweet hammer would come in handy if I pick up another cleric. Still, I couldn't give up the girdle.

And with that, they parted ways. Hopefully, if Kagain was the rat that she suspected, she would throw the bounty hunters off by sending them south while she was going north. Maven quietly chuckled to herself after they left his shop. She thought how silly it would be for someone like her to go to the City of Coin. She had read more than she cared to about the place. Never had she heard of a more wretched hive of scum and villainy, all under the guise of "trade". The only way she would ever end up in such a place is if she was knocked out and dragged there.

The trio stopped by Borland's one last time to collect whatever possessions were worth carrying. This included Gorion's dagger and the letter from "E". Maven had a plan for these. Maven also packed away her small collection of books as she could not bear to part with them. They sold most of the remaining haul from the ruins. When all was said and done, they had just short of twenty five thousand gold to start their new life. The women could practically buy their own castle with that kind of money. Though, obviously, they will be living much more inconspicuously.


E06-02.jpg

Maven took a look through her pack before they set out. She had a handful of scrolls, her meager personal library, some potions, what she had left from Gorion, her walking stick from Candlekeep, and Jinx. That and their coffers was all she would take into her new life. In a way, she felt like she was starting all over, yet again. She let out a sigh, cinched up her sack, and joined the others to start the journey to Baldur's Gate.

They had to pass by the Friendly Arm Inn on their way to Baldur's Gate, but they dared not enter. If their enemy had hunters in remote Halfling villages, then the Inn was surely under watch. Besides, her father's friends were certain to be long gone by now. However, under the cover of night, they stopped at a grove outside the inn's walls. There was an evergreen that caught Maven's eye. It was tall and straight, and stood close to nearby trees, but yet still had an austere distance, save for a smaller tree right in front of it. It reminded her of Gorion. At the base of the tree, she dug a small hole with Gorion's dagger. In the hole, she placed his dagger and letter and started to push the dirt back in to the metaphorical grave with her hands.


E06-03.jpg

While doing so, Maven felt something hard and cold with her hands. It felt of metal, not stone. She fished the mysterious object out of the soil and discovered a rather unusual ring. She pocketed the lucky find to examine further later and finished filling in the hole. Kivan kept watch while Maven and Imoen said a few kind words, Maven said a few sentimental prayers, and both shed more than a few tears. Maven apologized to Gorion for not following his instructions, for good cause, and that this was the closest they would get to the inn. When they had finished their wake, the women gathered themselves and continued north with Kivan, staying off the roads.

E06-05.jpg

This was just horrible. Due to the iron crisis and bandit raids, Baldur's Gate was completely shut down. Nobody could enter, nobody could leave. Maven plopped to the ground outside of the gates. She had no idea what to do next. They could not go further north to a place like Waterdeep. They would have to pass through the Trollclaws, which were overrun by, as one might guess, trolls. She knew nothing of the lands to the east. She could not go back to Beregost with Kagain sniffing around. West was just an endless sea. Finally, she could not go further south to Amn, even if she wanted to, due to the red herring she left for Kagain. She was just stuck.

She sat for what must have seemed like an eternity. Eventually, Kivan broke the gloomy silence with a suggestion. If she could not go any direction, then her best bet might be just to stay in the Sword Coast and wander the wilds. He knew it was not the life she was seeking, but he also knew how to stay hidden and could keep anyone seeking them off their scent. This was hardly an attractive option to Maven. What little time she spent camping under the open sky was very uncomfortable. And to what end would they follow this course? Still, she really had no other option at this time. Maven decided that they would remain hidden in the Sword Coast with Kivan, if only for Imoen's sake.

Kivan knew of a fortress far to the southwest taken over by hostile forces and suspected that might be where he could find Tazok, his nemesis. He was actually on his way there when the women met him at High Hedge. Maven shrugged, picked herself up, and was ready to set off. As she trudged along behind Kivan, Imoen was happily bouncing at her side.


<next episode>
 
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JustKneller

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316
I'm starting to wonder if Kivan's timer is going to run out on you, or are you Keepering your way around that?
I think I'm ok. I believe the quest/timer is only in the EE edition, but I believe I do have Unfinished Business installed. If something happens, worst case scenario, I'll have Minsc as an archer and pick up Ajantis to tank. It's going to be a rough party for Durlag's Tower, though. Minsc, Kivan/Ajantis, Dynaheir, Safana, Imoen, and Maven. Only one real front-liner, an archer, and four on the back line. However, it's the only way I could work it out with non-evil characters (my rep is going to be 18-20 before long).

To be honest, I've been tempted at times to scrap Maven and start over with Beatrix. Party logistics would definitely be tons easier in both games with a Paladin. On the other hand, a cleric/(wild) mage is more strategic, wild surges are fun, and the pacifist Bhaalspawn angle has some good story potential.
 

OrlonKronsteen

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It's going to be a rough party for Durlag's Tower, though. Minsc, Kivan/Ajantis, Dynaheir, Safana, Imoen, and Maven. Only one real front-liner, an archer, and four on the back line. However, it's the only way I could work it out with non-evil characters (my rep is going to be 18-20 before long).
IMO that party is just fine for Durlag’s. If you want two front-liners, you’ve got them: all three warriors mentioned can tank just fine. Imoen and Safana can handle the archery, and you have arcane and (admittedly minimal) divine support.

And great job on the narrative! I’m really enjoying this.
 
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