Thursday, 19 February 2015

Crimson Tides of Tethyr Walkthrough - Part I



After many years of war, Tethyr is finally enjoying a period of relative peace. Despite this, problems still continue to plague the realm. Beasts roam the countryside, pillaging and slaying at random. The Knights of the Black Gauntlet, an order led by the priest Teldorn Darkhope and dedicated to the evil deity Bane continue to plague Tethyr's eastern border. However, the greatest threat of all has arisen recently in the form of the huge monstrous coalition known as the Sythillisian Empire. - DM Alazander.

"Old friend, I fear that Tethyr's future is once again in the balance. The Sythillisian Empire has turned its gaze towards us for reasons I cannot fathom. How can this recently healed nation hope to defend itself from the untold thousands of goblins, orcs, ogres and giants that lurk on its northern border?" - Excerpt from a letter by Royal Court Sage Gamalon Idogyr to Elminster of Shadowdale, 1372 DR.

Walkthrough is complete in four parts: Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

AL2: Crimson Tides of Tethyr (CToT) is the second of three Forgotten Realms classics by Alazander, though only loosely connected to his preceding module, AL1: Siege of Shadowdale (SoS) - which I've already recounted as a Wizard, starting here. CToT is a large-scale module for seventh level characters, and is inspired by the Baldur's Gate series (the player actually visits BG2 locales, and there are even references to BG2 characters). I played it many moons ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, but that was in my youth when I didn't know much about RPGs (I may have also briefly played AL3: Tyrants of the Moonsea, but I can't recall with certainty.)

Anyway, I've decided not to import my character from SoS, preferring to roll with a katana-wielding Elven Female Fighter (1) of Chaotic Good alignment, created with eventual transition to Weapon Master in mind, instead. The pre-reqs are pretty demanding for WM (six feats, Intimidate 4), and being an Elf with Exotic Proficiency doesn't exactly steepen my power progression, but I don't recall this module featuring tactics-level combat, and, from memory, loot is overly rewarding. (My character sheet can be seen below, posted after the two cutscenes).

Just a few notes:

Rules: 1.69 Critical Rebuild, D&D Hardcore rules, no save scumming and no rest spamming (to refill spell slots or heal). Unfortunately, I'm a Max Hit Points=1 retard. Please forgive me. Resting in CToT is restricted to once every four hours (eight minutes real-time), unlike SoS (which had no restrictions, at all). You cannot rest in the gutters of streets or in other peoples' beds; you must find an inn and pay for a lodging. Much of the loot from receptacles is randomized as is common in NWN and its modules. Encounter composition and Exp yield may also vary slightly. Just sayin', your playthrough may differ somewhat from mine.

Mods: Nothing game-play changing is installed. I'm using the Creatures I, II, III override to de-uglify the animals and monsters. I also use a cam hack for extreme zoom-out and first-person view - it's mainly an aide for screenshot taking.

Audio-wise, CToT includes its own custom music which is impressive - ranging from serene pieces to militaristic stuff. I've never heard better in a NWN mod, though Aielund Saga is on par.

There also might be a tiny bit of meta-gaming, though I played this like a decade ago so I doubt my memory is that good.

Obviously this document is spoiler-heavy; new players should not read this if they have any intention of later playing CToT (unless of course they don't mind spoilers).

Ok! So let's begin at the beginning, it's a good place to start.

Cutscene 1: Prelude - The Liberation of Trademeet

A lone Champion of Torm stands over the corpses of freshly slain orcs. A guard approaches him.

Sir, the men are ready to move in. Just give the word. Ah... you were attacked? - Crimson Guard Warrior. 

A brief skirmish. These orcs were poorly trained, in keeping with what we've seen of these Sythillisians. - Levantes Coronel. 

Sir, I can't help thinking... why are we doing this? Naught is left of Trademeet but ruins. We've lost good men already.

This is what Daramus would have us do, Jered. These monsters have caused enough destruction. In Torm's name, they shall be stopped!

Pardon my saying so, sir, but Daramus never did anything for the love of Torm. Why would he-

Wait, lad, did you hear that? 

The two warriors charge more orcs, this time supported by a mountain giant.  

Usta ela Solcano!

Levantes unleashes a blinding beam of divine energy, owning the evil humanoids.

Gather the men, Jered. We move now! Jered runs off to do just that.

*Fade to black*

A second cutscene now plays, but this one can be shown in one pic as it's just a talk-fest.

Cutscene 2: Faerntarn Palace, Darromar - one month later...

A royal herald enters the throne room and announces the arrival of the Crimson Guards to King Haedrak III and Queen Zaranda Star, rulers of Tethyr. The sage Gamalon Idogyr expresses concerns at hiring a mercenary group, but they're gently played down by the royal couple.

 

*Fade to Black*

Part I: The City of Darromar
 Darromar - The Sea Lion's Pride - Second Floor


I awaken in my room, feeling refreshed. I'm given the opportunity to Level to 7, which I take (CToT is apparently balanced for 6-8, and two Henchmen). 

The starting gear is standard fare, apart from the Rod of Revival (Raise Dead [9] Unlimited/day).

  • Starting gear: 4050 GP, Short Sword, Torch, Studded Leather Armor, Woodsman Outfit, Potion of Cure Light Wounds (3).

Unlike in SoS, for this adventure the DM gives me a little background on myself, and on the current situation in which I find myself. The short of it is: I'm an adventurer who has traveled a long way to finally reach Darromar (capital of Tethyr), probably seeking more adventure; the nation has known civil war for the past ten years ("the Interregnum"); the new leaders have restored some hope, but problems persist: roaming beasts pillage and slay, a Banite order plagues the eastern border; and now, a newly-arisen '"monstrous coalition" known as the Sythillisian Empire' are apparently the greatest threat. Tethyr needs heroes, and I'm gonna be one. I'll start off as a merc, work my way up. My skills will be in demand in Darromar. Time to seek my destiny...

The rain lashes down outside, battering the roof of the inn. You can vaguely hear a group of men talking downstairs. - DM.

I decide to take a peek in the other rooms (which for warriors means bashing down the doors with Power Attack). Inside one of them I almost trip over a passed-out drunkard! I swipe his wine and guzzle it down (-2 INT), resisting the urge to coup de grâce his sorry ass on the way out.

Bashing down the door to another room, I find myself face-to-face with a foul-tempered dwarf smelling like a brewery, Merkul Stonegrin, with whom I couldn't resist picking a fight. Alcohol-fueled violence ensued, lasting for several rounds.

Center: Elf versus Dwarf, it could go either way! Right: ... But Elf wins!
  • Corpse of Merkul: Masterwork Warhammer (Attack bonus +1), Splint Mail, Large Shield, Boots of Expeditious Retreat (Expeditious Retreat [5] 3/day).
  • Other loot: 95 GP, Masterwork Dagger, Wine. I also find a Note on the floor, on which is penned: "Red Nazala says it's almost ready. Where have I heard that before? Still, they say three is my lucky number..." (part of a quest)
Theft is monitored: for each item stolen expect a shift towards Chaotic. It's possible to murder three lodgers in cold blood (the drunkard and a naked couple), but it results in an obvious shift towards evil.

Having finished up here, I now head downstairs.

Darromar - The Sea Lion's Pride - Common Room

Several crimson-cloaked men dominate the center of the inn. An officer appears to be examining a large map of the region. - DM.


I attempt to coerce the bartender into giving me compensation for my damp lodgings, but not a dime is forthcoming. He informs me that the the guys in red are the Crimson Guard, a mercenary group, who recently crushed the Sythillisian force in Trademeet. The "Syths" - for short - are led by an ogre mage warlord (Sythillis) and his partner, the warrioress Cyrvisnea. For now, the Crimson Guard have settled in the Black Quarter of Darromar, one thousand strong in number (an army). But why are they here? They're waiting for war, as the Syth are about to orchestrate a full-scale invasion. The Syth comprise of orcs, goblinkind, kobolds, ogres and giants marching under one banner - hence the term monstrous coalition.

The tone of conversation with Officer Loric is amusing. Bursting with Crimson Guard pride, he recounts the battle at Trademeet. The CGs took Trademeet, but Sythillis escaped. The horde then marched on them in great number from the Empire's stronghold, Murann, forcing the CG to retreat south to Darromar, where we all are now. The reasons for the Syth leaving Murann vulnerable to Amn in the north and now targeting Tethyr are unknown (it isn't because they lost Trademeet). Anyway, amazed by my responses and informed of my intention to join the mercs, Loric refers me to the recruiting officer at the Grand Barracks.

There are many references to the Baldur's Gate series in Loric's dialogue, from the nostalgic Candlekeep (where BioWare's RPGs began) to Amn (Shadows of Amn) to - the perhaps unintended? - Tuigan (BG2 veterans will fondly remember the bow of the same name).

Alazander's modules will probably feel richer for those with Realmslore, and, in the case of CToT, experience with the BG series also helps (but is definitely not a requirement).


En route to enlist my services, I bump into an extremely butthurt Wizard blocking the front door to the inn, his staff dripping with acidic residue. It seems Neremul has been cast out of the Mages' Guild here in Darromar. I ask him to join with me; having little else to do, he agrees. Neremul has a decent repertoire of spells: Invisibility, Stoneskin and Summon Creature IV (dire spider). I'll talk more about his combat spells later. Anyway, CToT doesn't let you access Henchman inventories, but I assume Neremul has decent gear, too (his staff, for e.g).

Neremul
The newly-formed duo step out of the cozy inn and onto the rain-soaked streets of Darromar.

Darromar - Royal Quarter 

The rain continues to poor down, and aside from the market traders and a few unfortunate citizens the streets appear to be empty. - DM.

Rain - Darromar Royal Quarter - Faerntarn Palace in the background
 

At this point you're permitted to explore the four quarters of Darromar (Royal, Black, Caravan, Temple), but I make a bee-line for the barracks, stopping only at a general merchant on the way, to upgrade my gear.
  • Masterwork Warhammer Katana Large Shield Tower Shield Splint Mail Half Plate, Amulet of Natural Armor +1, Ring of Protection +1, Ring of Insight (Lore +5). (-4000 GP)
The barracks is only a hop, skip and jump away from the inn. The duo head inside.

Grand Barracks

This place is busy.

I need a swig of some strong, dwarven ale! - Dwarf Merc (famous BG quote).

I push in front of the rowdy dwarf to be first in line to see recruiting officer Alandra Kayne.


 Alandra & Vard
Exasperated by my bad attitude, Alandra nevertheless signs me up as a merc under the Tethyrian army. Scout reports have not yet come in, so I'm free to explore and quest in the city before we're all summoned for a war-briefing. But first, Vard offers a flavorsome convo about the Syth and the war strategy. Like Loric earlier, he dismisses as "horseshit" the theory that the Syth invasion of Tethyr is rooted in the Crimson Guards retaking Trademeet, citing  that Sythillis isn't so stupid as to march a horde into an unknown region, the farms of which could not supply the food to support it. Besides, spies have reported that the ogre warlord is now marching the horde directly south into the Forest of Tethir to take the elven city of Suldanessellar - which could support an army, for a time. Vard spits out facts and figures pertaining to army size and composition, mentioning a few other notable "personalities" of the Syth force: Ogrim, an ogre mage necromancer raising an undead legion; Maresh, a Gruumsh-worshiping orc; and an unnamed bloodthirsty goblin worg rider with an undying hatred for kobolds. Ok, well I'm sure they'll all receive a lethal poke from my sword in due course, but for now my attention is on the pink elephant green troll in the room, Arrk. I recruit Arrk as my second Henchman for 500 GP despite not really needing him. Not only are his physical stats quite impressive, his hide bestows Regen +5 and his Greatsword +1 inflicts on-hit DC-14 wounding - hence the dripping blood.

Arrk
Ok, so I've formed a trio of adventurers, signed up as a merc and equipped myself ready for exploration of Darromar. I'll cap this post off with pics of the first "banters" for each Henchman, continuing the adventure in the next post. For those who don't know, banters occur when you take time out to specifically engage in dialogue with a Henchman. They became (overly) popular in Baldur's Gate 2, and just seemed to go on forever. CToT also features Henchman "interjections" (also popularized by the BG series). Interjections are when the Henchman interrupts your adventuring or conversation with someone else to add their own two cents - that is rarely of interest. Anyway, behold the banters of Neremul and Arrk!

Idle banter is a foolish habit. - Neremul.


 Side questing in Darromar, the first dungeon crawl.

4 comments:

  1. Hey Lilura, tried to send you an e-mail but I could not find e-mail address. I am looking for some good NWN module like Aileund Saga. I noticed your recounting of "Crimson Tides of Tethyr". Is it comparable in scope, length and writing? Btw. does this blog make it possible for me to receive e-mail updates every time you publish something about NWN?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. CToT is comparable, yeah, but it feels richer if you understand FR lore and have played Baldur's Gate.

      You could just "Follow Me" to know when I post something new.

      Delete
  2. So I'm trying to play as a Vampire for this module series and have two questions.

    1. Does this game's setting allow for me to play as a vampire without breaking immersion too much?

    2. How compatible is this module with other haks? I tried Ercan's vampire subrace system but the items that give vampire properties keeps getting deleted when I try to start the game. Are there any other good haks that let you play as a vampire subrace(D&D 3e rules) that can work with this?
    https://neverwintervault.org/project/nwn1/script/vampire-subrace-system

    Thanks! Also you have a great blog!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Gigacat. Sounds like a cool idea, though I have never tried out the hak you have linked to.

      Your best bet is to register on neverwintervault.org and post your question on this forum.

      The only vamp module I know of that actually lets you build a vamp char (and other undead chars) is akkei's The Breach.

      Delete

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