Baldur's Gate II snaps back onto a linear path for a little while here. First, you'll get a cutscene of Irenicus torturing Imoen (the fiend!)
Then, assuming you sided with the Shadow Thieves, you'll witness a long series of conversations between Aran Linvail, a pirate
captain named Saemon who's supposed to transport you to Spellhold, and a Shadow Thief named Sime who Aran's sending along to
keep you from harm. Despite Aran and Sime's laudable efforts (I was impressed), you do, of course, get into trouble anyway,
so fight your way through it and then you're ready to explore Brynnlaw.
Once I'd beaten off the ambush, I hit what I thought were a pair of bugs: an inability to save the game, and Sime repeating the same
line about needing to talk to the long-since-departed Saemon over and over again. Though unsaveability and repeating dialogue are
relatively common bugs, in fact this situation was one that repeated itself every time I landed on the island, and at last I found the
cause--there is a lone, wimpy pirate lurking just offscreen, registering as an enemy, forbidding you from saving the game and making
Sime think the combat is still going on. Go north until you see his red circle, wipe the floor with him, then come back and try talking
to Sime again. She'll have information you need, including the name of a contact.
Your goal in this area is to find a way into Spellhold. There are actually many paths you can pursue in getting there, but in the final count
only two entries--use the wardstone to get in through the front door, or get committed by the Pirate King. I recommend the former, since
the trip around the asylum is more interesting and you also get more information that way. Being committed involves getting an audience
with the Pirate King (you can get this either by completing one of the quests in town or by bribing his guard), then either convincing him you
are crazy (for which you need either a high charisma or, uh, Minsc,) or letting Yoshimo use his Brynnlaw influence to coax the Pirate King
into committing you. Getting the wardstone involves taking it from the resident Cowled Wizard. You can learn about both routes by
meeting with Sime's contact and following the ensuing quest,
The Ho Strikes Back. It is also possible to waltz right in and either grab the wardstone or ask the Pirate King to
commit you, even though you shouldn't have known how yet. This area is much more fun if you follow things through in the general order
laid out for you below.
Yoshimo, incidentally, has some interesting interactions in this chapter, both with Saemon as you're landing and with people in Brynnlaw
1) The first thing you'll probably see, aside from the ambush and all, is a couple of duellists fighting it out. There is no real point to this
sequence, just some ambience. It doesn't seem to matter which man wins.
2) The bar where Sime first tells you to go is primarily full of drunken sailors. Most of them will sing sea songs at you; the one out front
will lose his balance and fall down if you talk to him a few times, which looks pretty funny, and one will tell
you the story of his ship, an amusing reference if you've played BGI at all recently. The important character in here is Sime's contact, Sanik, who
will be friendly and agree to help you get into Spellhold--but then both he and you will quickly become enmeshed in the machinations
of an evil madam. This quest, The Ho Strikes Back, will lead you to the brothel in #3.
3) The brothel will be open for business once you've talked to Sanik in the bar. There are two hookers, a male and a female,
standing around outside. Talk to the one of your opposite gender (the other will recoil amusingly from a same-sex pass) about getting
into the building to get the information you need. Here, too, you have several possibilities: you can just break in the front door and kill
everyone who tries to stop you until you find the girl you need; you can pretend to hire the whore and then sneak out of her room and
around until you find the girl; you can talk to the whore and follow her advice to get the amulet you need to infiltrate the whorehouse; or
you can tell the whore you're going to kill the evil madam, a task she approves of, and she'll not only help you find the amulet but sneak
you up to her room and help you dispatch of the guards. The last way is more fun, lets you communicate with more of the slave girls, and
gives you the most XP. Be careful if you go this route, though, because you'll have to sneak into the kitchen to talk to the women there--
if you are noticed by the guards, they'll attack you and the women will flee. If you do it right, you can get the women in the kitchen to help you
dispatch the guards. Be sure to return to all of them after killing the evil madam to collect their thanks and rewards.
4) For some of the resolutions to The Ho Strikes Back, you'll need an amulet that a pimp named Chremy is carrying. I recommend either picking
it off him or going to talk to the people in #5 first, because this pimp also figures in another quest, and there are too few
quests in this area to discard one!
5) At night only, you can encounter a couple of downtrodden youngsters on this map: Ason, on the left side of the map up a flight of stairs,
and Ginia, on the right side by the doghouse. Ason will have a small interaction about trying to pickpocket you, but Ginia will tell you their
sordid story and give you a side quest, Save the Street Kids. This quest isn't necessary, but it ties in
nicely with The Ho Strikes Back, and it sure is easy. You can still do this if you've already killed Chremy to get his amulet, but it's a better
quest if you haven't.
6) The Pirate King's house is guarded by a doorman who will let you in if you bribe him. The first time I came here I did this just because he
offered me the option, and found myself off on route to Spellhold without ever even having heard that the Pirate King could do that for me.
I recommend you don't do this, instead finishing the Ho Strikes Back quest and then choosing your path to
Spellhold from a position of knowledge. It's up to you, though. If you do decide to have the Pirate King commit you, you'll need either a
high charisma or Minsc or Yoshimo in your party. The Minsc way is, as usual, funniest.
7) Perth the Adept, the local Cowled Wizard, lives in the house to the northeast of town, and he seems to be having some significant
mental problems. (Aerie will point out exactly what's wrong with him, if she's around; Yoshimo will have a curious converation with
him.) There's no way around violence, so you might as well enjoy it. Besides the wardstone you need, this wizard has a special magic
item called the Book of Infinite Magic. I haven't usually been noting magic items, but this was one I spent a lot of time checking the
powers of, so let me just relate to you: This book lets a non-mage cast
one and only one spell from it on a daily basis, and you can keep trying till you get a good spell. However, the available spells in this
item are very limited. The Spell Turning ability of the book is by far and away the best. There is also a Wyvern Call spell. Don't settle
for a wimpy Protection From Evil or something like that--you can just turn the page and try for a new spell.
8) Except for Ason and Ginia, most of the people on this map are out during the day. The ordinary folk didn't have much of interest to say;
there is one smuggler, Calahan, who besides figuring in one of the local quests is an old friend from BG1. (I didn't remember him, to be
honest, but he seems a good enough sort.) At one point a pair of pirates started fighting with each other somewhere in town, but I have
no idea why or what became of it, since one killed the other before I could get close enough to them to see what was happening. Another
passel of pirates picks a fight with you, but then begs you to let them go once they realize you're stronger than they are. You can refuse,
make them pay you to let them go, or let them go with a warning, depending on your playing style. There is one house which is labeled
on the map as Cayia's; this place will be of importance later in the game, though you're welcome to loot it immediately. There is also a store.
9) The road to Spellhold, conveniently labeled on your map, is the exit you'll leave by if you get the wardstone. Sime waits for you here, and
you can bid her goodbye. I liked her quite a bit--too bad she couldn't join the party.
As previously stated, you can get to Spellhold in one of two ways: through the front door with the wardstone, or into a cell via the Pirate King.
If you enter through the door, a poorly disguised Jon Irenicus will meet you and give you a tour. Since your characters haven't been privy to the
cutscenes, you can charitably take their compliance here as dramatic irony rather than total stupidity--they don't know he's taken the
place over and is leading them to their doom, after all. He will introduce you to the various residents of the asylum and comment on their mental
states, allowing you a chance to talk to each one before revealing himself,
taunting you, and taking you to his evil lab. Alternatively, if you get
the Pirate King to commit you, the warden (Lonk the Sane) will let you out of your cell to explore a little, and you can meet and talk to the inmates
yourself. After you've had just about enough time to realize there is no way out of here without some special keys, Irenicus will gate himself in,
taunt you, and take you to his evil lab. Either way, this place had a nicely disquieting feel to it. Be sure to talk to all the prisoners (you will need
to talk to each multiple times to get the full effect). Inmates include Aphril, a crazed woman who can see multiple planes of existence (and may
foreshadow Neverwinter Nights at you); Tiax, a
megalomaniac gnome you may remember from BG1; Dradeel, a paranoid schizophrenic you can get to give you
recipes for desserts (I don't believe there's anything you can do with that); Naljier, an odd fellow who will create gems and jewelry out of thin air
and hand them to you; Dili, a little girl who can shapeshift; Wanev, the former administrator of the asylum, who will give you bizarre enciphered
messages about his pants (I've heard it said that these
messages have something to do with building a special artifact in ToB out of pantaloons); and, finally, Imoen--although she's much too messed
up to join your party just yet. Anomen, Yoshimo, and especially Jaheira have comments as you talk to the prisoners, and several of your NPCs
turn around and give Jan a good ribbing after talking to Dradeel. If you're getting the full Irenicus tour, your party members will also comment
on the things he says, so try to keep the party clustered together as you follow Irenicus from point to point or you may miss out on their
backtalk--Korgan's comments about Wanev, Minsc and Valygar's about Dradeel, and Jaheira, Edwin, and Anomen's about Tiax are particularly
worthwhile. (-: )
Once you're in the evil lab, Irenicus and Bodhi (if you hadn't yet figured out these two were working together, you just weren't paying attention)
will talk with you a bit, though there are no satisfying rejoinders among your dialogue options, alas, and Irenicus is rather disdainful
of the traditional villainous exposition, so you still won't know exactly what he's up to, though he will give you some tantalizing hints. Don't
worry--it really will be revealed in time, and
the mystery makes him a scarier villain in the meantime. Most of your party members will get some input into this conversation, especially
Yoshimo. After the dialogue and a little torture session, you lapse into a dream sequence. You will get to move yourself around it and make a
few choices, but there is only one way this dream will end. When you awaken from it, Bodhi will prove herself less able than Irenicus to resist
evil cliches, and rather than slaying you immediately, she will release you into a fiendish maze. Pick up Imoen and run for it.
Actually, the fiendish maze isn't that fiendish. I think this area was meant to provide a little comic relief after all the heavy Irenicus stuff, but the
overall effect is very distracting, with creepy and disturbing drama interspersed weirdly with easy, goofy game-show games. I've called
these quests The Price Is Right, collectively, and they mostly involve easy puzzles, kobolds and gibberlings, and
tons of magic prizes for every other thing you do. It's fun, but it really belonged in Aerie's circus or something, not the dreaded Spellhold
Asylum, where it's nothing but an anticlimactic distraction. Don't get cocky, though, because Irenicus is
around here somewhere and if you run into him unprepared he will spank your butt like about four Kangaxxes. So even though the
monsters may seem laughably easy and the loot oddly free-flowing, concentrate on the creepy traps and on peeking uneasily
around each corner to see if you're going to get to live another few minutes or not. That should help restore the appropriate feel to this area.
By the way, the monster opposition in here is not, as in most of the other dungeon areas, standardized. I've seen
different monsters in the same room: yuan-ti or minotaurs, goblins or gibberlings, wandering horror or mummies. The most
serious discrepancy I noticed was in the southern tomb area--there was a lich there in my second game, which there most certainly
had NOT been my first game. I think some of the monster variations may be based on how high-level your party is when they enter. I'm not
entirely sure of the game mechanics behind it, but different people will get different monsters in these areas, so don't rely on a walkthrough too
much down here--or pester walkthrough writers about a perceived lack of accuracy!
One final note: I already warned you about this, but unless you came here with five or fewer members of your party, you will have to make a
serious personnel decision now. It's possible to send Imoen home on her own, but she gives you the mother of all guilt trips about it, and
really, it isn't very nice after all she's been through. Jaheira offers to leave the party in Imoen's place if you try to kick her out, and you may
want to take her up on this, since she and Yoshimo are the only other party members who can leave the group at this point without being
trapped in Spellhold forever (a sorry fate for any comrade). Alternatively, you could leave an NPC you hate here. It's your call.
The first section of Bodhi's maze can be reached from either the north or the east staircase--both lead to the same area. If you go either
up or down the north staircase, you will have a dizzy spell which will prompt a conversation with Imoen. You can avoid this by not using this
staircase, but it won't change your future--just give you one less hint about it.
1) In the room full of statues holding bowls is a fun little quest sort of reminiscent of a game show--take the items from the central chest, read
the riddle on each statue, and put the item most closely associated with the answer into the bowl. Completing this gives you some XP and a
reward, including one of the portal gems you need for area #3.
2) In the room surrounded with stone heads, there is another riddle session. Answer each head's
riddle in turn to get some XP and a reward. These were good riddles, but it would have been much more challenging had you
needed to figure them out on your own. With multiple-choice, these things were a total breeze.
3) In the northernmost room is another man named Ruhk (I don't think he has any connection to the exploding-kobolds guy in Windspear
Hills). He won't do anything but attack you. In this room is a portal which can be activated three times using the three portal gems hidden
on this level. The portal will not transport you anywhere once you've activated it the three times, though. All the three gems will
do is summon two monsters for your party to fight and one djinn to give you a prize.
4) There is one stretch of hallway in the north-east section which looks very odd. There are things that look like pistons lining both walls.
The first time I came through here there were the dead bodies of some Yuan-Ti littering the floor here, and I assumed this hall was just
supposed to look creepy. On my second time through I learned the terrible truth. This hall is a deathtrap, probably the coolest-looking
one in the game. Step a character in and watch the walls suddenly crush together and the poor character get vividly squashed. It is
impossible to disarm this trap. Send a few summoned monsters through to clear the way, or just go around it--or, as I unwittingly did
the first game, cast Horror on some nearby monsters and let them flee into its maw. (-:
The second area of Bodhi's maze is to the west of the starting hall. In that room is a giant stone head which won't let you pass until you
find the proper item. Don't you hate bossy stone heads? Once you've got it, you can go up some stairs here to the
Spellhold Upper Maze.
The third area of Bodhi's maze is to the south, either through the starting hall's southern exit or the door to the south of
the first maze area. They are equivalent; you'll just enter the third area from different sides. You're looking for the hand the head wants
so it'll let you leave.
1) One room down here has a big book lying prominently open on the floor. Use it and it will summon a monster for you to fight--a
progressively harder one each time you try. Slay all five and get some presents and an XP bonus.
2) In the cave dominated by the big glowing crystal, there is a plot I was utterly unable to understand about kobolds and some
kind of sentience named Kurtulmuk trapped in the crystal. I get the frustrating feeling that I missed some dialogue somehow, but obsessively
re-trying the encounter has not helped. As far as I can tell the kobolds will not speak in your presence, and once you've slaughtered them all,
a would-be kobold avatar named Altar teleports in, says some things that do not make any sense, and then teleports back out again, leaving
a few more kobolds behind for you to slay. Once you have, the game claims you've killed the kobold avatar--even though he seemed to have
escaped--and gives you some confusing text about the crystal, as well as a piece of it as a quest item. Who and what Kurtulmuk is will never
be explained. Another odd thing about this encounter is there is one enemy who is labeled a "kobold" but looks instead like a halfling or
perhaps a dwarf. I was unable to do anything with that character either.
3) Dace Sontan, one-time architect of the Spellhold Asylum, is lurking around in the crypt area. He'll speak briefly with you before attacking, telling you
that the crystal from the kobold room is necessary to escape but not who or what it is, unfortunately. After you've slain him his ghost will
appear to thank you for freeing him from undeath. If you forget to stake his body for some reason (it's hardly a secret that he's a vampire,) the
ghost will appear in the library and remind you to do this to free his soul--and, coincidentally, to get what you need to open the door out.
4) A rather clever trap in the left wing of this section manages to split your party in half and attack each with some umber hulks--a nice tactic
if you keep the spellcasters in the back as most tend to. It's awfully easy to open the gates and reunite the group, though, so don't panic.
Once you go up the stairs behind the big stone head, you'll be in the final part of this maze. The first level was full of riddles and the second
full of fighting; this level is all about collecting items to exchange for loot. It has the odd feel of a skeeball arcade.
1) One of the first rooms that you come to has doors with pictures of monsters on them. You'll find oil paintings of the same monsters
throughout the maze; bring them back here and put each on the right door to open it and slay the beast within. Or don't--it's completely
optional. You'll get magic items if you do, though. The djinni door has a passage to another room behind it, too.
2) In that room, behind the djinni door, is a machine which will give you prizes for the tokens you collect around the dungeon. Most of
these prizes are boots. You can experiment for yourself, but for some reason the 20-token prize is near-worthless (an exceptionally ugly suit of
chainmail armor). You're better off with the 15-token and 5-token prizes.
3) The room with the oil paintings in it is trapped, and the traps cannot be disarmed. When you take the paintings, you will suffer the
consequences. Send someone with good magic resistance and saving throws to retrieve them for you. As far as I know there is no way around
triggering these traps.
4) Bodhi is waiting for you at the end of this maze, and after a short conversation will engage in combat with you. However, this combat is
interrupted by your main character turning into the Slayer, an H.R. Giger-esque monster who wrenches the mood of this otherwise
cornball level back into dramatic form singlehandedly. Bodhi is visibly shaken by this unexpected turn of events (a nice touch, by the
way--bad-ass villains are too seldom really surprised by anything) and flees. You should get a conversation with Imoen about what's
happening to you; if Imoen is not there, one of your other NPCs will talk to you instead. You will only get one of these NPC dialogues, and
they are in a set order, so that, say, Cernd will only comment if no one is in the party except him and Minsc. It's really too bad you can't hear
all your NPCs' reactions to the Slayer, as many of them are really priceless (Edwin: "Ok, I'll put up with incompetence and all manner of
foolishness, but I have to draw the line at transformations into dead gods of murder!" Haerdalis: "Well... reminds me of home, I guess..."
Minsc: "I think Boo just soiled my backpack." (-: Not to mention Viconia getting kind of, uh, aroused by it, or something, and Korgan
turning serious on you and warning you against giving in to it again...) The next time you sleep (which you can do in this maze,
incidentally) you will have a second Slayer episode, one which is doubly disturbing if you have a love interest in the party with you.
5) Once Bodhi has been dispatched, you can solve the last stupid collecting-items puzzle (horns for the minotaur statues) and open the door
to escape the maze. These stairs will lead you to a narrow mezzanine which would have been a challenging place for a fight--except that your
opponents are goblins and kobolds. The fight, accordingly, is lopsided and brief. Once it is finished, an apparition will arrive and give you a
quest to test your sanity, My Analyst Told Me. It is impossible to fail this test. If you give the apparition all
violent and incorrect answers, you will be teleported into various areas with increasingly difficult combats and no rewards, but even so, by the
end it will let you go. If you give calm and correct answers, though, you will get riddles (with XP awards) rather than combats, and you will be
sent to a bonus area where you can get a magic weapon before being released. If you tell the apparation you don't know the answer to
his riddle, he will accept that and give you a new question asking your impressions of the landscape. This is mostly worthless, but if you're
in the 'fertile' area when he does this, Jan will pipe up in a way that is entertaining even if you usually want to cast 'Power Word Silence' on
Jan. (-: In some of these test areas there are blue "openable" spaces on
the map which you don't have time to reach and search before the apparition catches up with you and teleports you. This is frustrating, but
having already done the boring reloading and replaying it took to search in each of these, allow me to reassure you: there is nothing worth the
trouble in any of these openable spaces. 24 gold pieces. A gem. Some magic arrows. Nothing you can't get much more easily any of a hundred
other places. The only exception is the table in the banquet hall, where there is a magic cloak. A note if you're playing this game a second or
third time: you can get a new puzzle screen, with a box of levers and a logic problem, if you answer the last riddle in the banquet hall incorrectly.
The reward is really lame (a pair of mediocre bracers), but I'm always on the lookout for a new puzzle to spruce up an old area...
Once you've finished being tested, you will arrive back in Spellhold, refreshed, riding high, and feeling ready to take on Irenicus. Ha. Remember
how before these fun little carnival games you and Bodhi have been playing around with, you saw Irenicus cast a spell called "Rapture of the
Father" (cool spell name, by the way) that caused six Shadow Thieves to instantly die? Well, he's memorized this spell again since you saw him
last. If he sees you he will cast it on you, so unless you like that disintegrating-hand movie a lot, you'll want to do like Saemon and Jaheira
suggest and come at this from a different angle.
1) As soon as you enter this level, Saemon the pirate will come back and give you some advice you probably could have figured out on your
own: if you release the other prisoners, you will have allies. You can talk to Saemon a little, and a few of your NPCs will voice their opinions
(Jaheira is all for finding some allies; Anomen is feeling cocky. If you want to listen to Anomen, I suggest saving the game first.)
2) Most of the doors on this level are locked. One, leading to a magic portal, is warded and cannot be passed. Some doors are openable and
lead to safe storage rooms with a few darts or arrows in them. Other doors are openable and will disturb Irenicus, who will cast a spell that
will kill your entire party. (I don't think you even get a saving throw.) Explore this area nervously. There is one
room, marked on your map as an exit, which contains stairs up to the asylum cells, and that's where you're trying to go.
3) Upstairs, Lonk the Sane will confront you. There are three ways to free the prisoners: kill Lonk, bribe Lonk, or, simplest of all, just tell him
what you're doing. He doesn't like Irenicus any more than anyone else, and will help you if he can. Once you've got the prisoners free, you'll
get a long, slightly unhinged conversation with all of them about Irenicus, and then you can talk them into helping you. You will NOT get a
chance to prepare between the time when you climb the stairs and the time when you confront Irenicus--you will be moved about by
cutscene--so cast any spells you're going to need first. It's a wild and crazy fight on the way.
Irenicus will start it all off by having an incredulous conversation with you (Jaheira and Imoen will put their two cents in). Turn the sound on
for this one. It's nice to hear his smooth, supercilious voice actually lose its cool. Not that he's actually concerned about anything you might
do, or anything, but he is pissed off that you released all his prisoners. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do to stop him from casting
Rapture of the Father on them and killing all six. At least he won't be torturing them anymore, and they've bought you the time you need.
Once Irenicus is wounded heavily enough to storm out of the fight, there will be reinforcements on the way, and you'll get a new quest if
Yoshimo is one of your NPC's: Yoshimo's Heart. And finally, once the battle has wound completely down,
Aerie and Haerdalis, should you have them both in your party, will have an argument about it all that is definitely worth being a fly on the
wall for. (-:
4) All the fireworks over with, you still need to get out of here. Go back to the cells level and surprise surprise, who should you
find skulking about just out of harm's way, but that rather faint-of-heart Saemon. Jan gives him a little backtalk which is entertaining even if
you're not a Jan fan (I'm not, but hearing him call the pretentious pirate "Sammy" was well worth it,) and several of the other NPCs contribute
to this conversation, but they need to be close to him to trigger it, and Saemon starts speaking to you from far away, so it's easy for them to be
left out, especially if your main character has boots of speed on. I suggest casting Haste on the party and putting them in a tight formation for
the remainder of this dungeon. Anyway, Saemon will present you with a choice: you can go through Irenicus' portal to the Underdark, or let
Saemon give you a lift on his boat. You may be rather resistant to the idea of trusting your life to this bumblefart again, and you'd be right--he
will get all of you into more trouble--but it really is the better option, as you'll get a whole new area to adventure in by following him. You can
skip that area and go straight to the Underdark via Irenicus' portal, though, if you prefer it that way--your game will
still end just as well. If you don't, however, you'll need to go back to Brynnlaw and solve Saemon's quest
for him there.
5) Finally, though you may be in a rush to leave, do look in Irenicus' room just inside the Spellhold Asylum before you go (you can go back in the door
if Saemon brought you outside). Besides a little bit of treasure, there are two highly illuminating journal pages, written by Irenicus himself,
which give some very nice clues into what is going on with him and Bodhi. Don't miss them.
You can still do anything in Brynnlaw you didn't get to your first time through here, but now you have a new quest:
Get Off My Boat. Go to the bar and talk to Saemon; he'll tell you what the problem is. Jaheira, bless her sharp
tongue, will make some appropriately nasty comments about the whole situation, and Haerdalis will contribute as well, but Saemon is
still the best route off the island, so you'll probably want to go do his stupid quest. Besides, it's hilarious listening in on Cayia and her
latest boytoy gossiping in bed. You don't have to kill them--send a thief in sneakily and you can just steal the horn you need. Or, you can
kill them. It doesn't matter; you'll have to fight the Pirate King anyway when you get to the boat.
Once you make it back to Brynnlaw, the next time you sleep you will get another dream sequence about Imoen and the Slayer--the best dream
sequence of all, in my opinion. This one really creeped me out--I was expecting her to stop counting at three. After this dream, yes, you will
be able to transform into the Slayer at will, but be careful with it--if you stay in that form long you will drop dead, and even if you don't
you'll sometimes lose control of it. You will also lose two reputation points every time you do it. Such is the price of power.
Sailing with Saemon Havarian is such a stupid move it's almost counterintuitive--by the time he offers it to you, it will have become quite clear
he's either going to betray you or help you, and since Saemon makes Jar-Jar Binks look competent and cool, it's hard to say which would
be worse. However, going with him is hands-down the best option. Going straight to the Underdark would cheat you out of the entire
Sahaugin City area, which is if nothing else beautifully drawn and home to one of the funniest characters in the game. And after you're done you'll get to
go to the Underdark anyway, so what's to lose? Once Saemon proves me right (he both tries to betray you AND
screws it up, so it's sort of a push, I guess), sahaugin warriors will interrupt the ensuing bedlam to attack the ship and kidnap you. If you want
to, you can kill Saemon for the insultingly lame way in which he tries to pin his stupid shenanigans on you. I would have minded a serious
betrayal less than that rickety attempt at finger-pointing, man. It was like something your six-year-old brother might have tried to pull on the
babysitter. Anyway, killing him didn't have any ill effects on me in SoA, though I have the sneaking suspicion it may come back to haunt me in
At any rate, so you've put up with Saemon's cowardly yapping long enough to get to the sahaugin city. The High Priestess (don't ask me to
remember these guys' names--they have them, but they're all something like X'xitsissixltsssxis) will chat you up and claim you're here to fulfill a
prophecy (Haerdalis and Jaheira will
contribute). In fact, you're here to be used as a pawn in yet another power struggle, as you'll find out as soon as you've survived the obligatory
arena fight and the king has granted you an audience. You can agree to get embroiled in this Sleep With The Fishes
quest, or refuse and just fight your way out. If you
take the latter path, you just kill all the sahaugin and leave, and that's the end of that. If you want to see what's going on here, though--which I
recommend--agree to the king's quest and he'll turn you loose to wander his underwater city.
1) The city is visually quite appealing--and if you click on particularly interesting pieces of architecture, you'll get a text-over about them.
Too bad there weren't more buildings or civilians to chat with or anything else to give it a little more of a dwelling-place feel. All the sahaugin
you run into on the sidewalks will be hostile. There is a war going on, after all. The two sides will attack each other, and they will both attack
you. Luckily they're not very strong opponents.
2) The first place you want to go, as instructed by the High Priestess, is the temple you started at. There, after politely waiting for the High
Priestess to sacrifice her rival, you will get instructions for reaching the rebel prince's base... and a new twist to your plot. Who to support,
the King or the Prince? Well, for a nice change, neither of them is in league with Irenicus, so your choice is purely aesthetic. The King is a much
worse ruler, but you may not want the marauding sahaugin to have a great leader anyway. On the other hand, they're primarily fighting the
illithids and drow right now, neither of whose armies you really want to win either. Just go with whichever ruler appeals to you or your
character more. There is no plot difference.
To the side of the temple there is another priestess, simply labeled 'Priestess,' and from her you can buy healing and a few items (she
also offers good prices on surface goods).
You also have the option of betraying the High Priestess to the King, by the way. Go back to him and you'll get a special option to tell him
she's plotting against him. Aerie will get very upset over the senselessness of this treachery--and she's right, there's no point to it at all--but I
always kind of appreciate it when extra paths that might occur to a player have been budgeted for by the game designers.
3) You'll need to go into the drow tower to retrieve the tooth you need to reach the exiled Prince. Besides the traps the guard warned you about,
there are two encounters in this area. First, two bored imps will ask you to play an Impish Parlor Game with them--match some objects to holograms of
famous Greyhawk personages, and you can win a few magic items. This is completely optional, and the holograms give you such explicit
hints you don't need to know Greyhawk from Timbuktu to win.
4) Beyond them is the Spectator, one of most entertaining characters in the game. You can kill him to get the tooth thingie, but it's
much more fun to talk him into letting you have it (your NPCs all chime in to help, especially Haerdalis, Imoen, and Aerie). His personality
had me in stitches, and single-handedly made up for having to put up with Saemon on the way over.
5) Down the northwest flight of stairs is the sealed door leading to the exiled Prince. If you go through with one of the
rebel spheres, the Prince and his cronies will talk to you. Make your decision to either kill him or side with him. (You won't have the option of
siding with him unless you've talked to the High Priestess, by the way.)
Once you finish talking to the Prince, you will get the unexpected combat message that the High Priestess' guard has died. As the King will tell
you later, this is because he sacrificed him to celebrate your victory. However, when I went over to the temple to see what was going on, I found
the High Priestess also dead, and the priestess with no name hostile. This happened to me two different times. Perhaps it is part of the story--if
you side with the Prince, the High Priestess' daughter says something about taking her mother's place at the end--but it is never explained what
happened to her or why. You'd think if the mad King had killed her, he would have said so. He announced it every other time he killed anyone.
It remains a mystery to me.
6) Other things in this area: there is a pit full of aquatic undead things in the southern part of town. They'll give you a line or two of
dialogue before getting down to the business of trying to kill you. In the King's safe (you need his key to get in--steal it, earn it, or take
it from his corpse) you can find, as well as treasure, a scroll with some insights into sahaugin culture.
When you're all through with the Sahaugin City, climb down the pit into the Underdark!