After the voice-over chapter introduction, you find yourself escorted to the elven war camp, where the elven officers Sovalidaas and
Elhan have some words with you. They have a pretty bad attitude, in my opinion, but on the other hand, you just came out of the Underdark,
so a little caution on their part is probably warranted. How do they know you're not a bunch of drow some dragon has ensorcelled
to look like surface people?
So answer Elhan's questions however you want--you'll get different responses from him if you're civil or
obnoxious, but he won't attack you no matter how rude you are. There are some different, more interesting interactions with Elhan
later on if you hold a little information back from him: not mentioning Bodhi's name, for instance, or not asking him for wooden
stakes to kill her with. It won't hurt you to be forthright, but if you already played one game telling him everything you know,
definitely try it the next time keeping some of your knowledge to yourself. A little suspicion will make this story thread more interesting.
Many of your NPCs (Jaheira, Minsc, Valygar, Viconia, Anomen, maybe others) will contribute to this conversation, and at its
conclusion, if Viconia is in your party, Elhan will demand she accept a geas to follow your orders (!). She agreed to this before
I could protest on her behalf, though she had plenty of insulting (and rightfully so) comments for the elves as she did. I don't
know whether her reaction is different if you're not having a romance with her at the time; it might be.
Either way, Elhan will give you a quest, Rhynn Lanthorn, and turn you loose to accomplish it. At
this point you can move freely around the elven camp, the Underdark, and all the Athkatla-and-environs areas from
Chapters 2&3, so you can finish anything you didn't yet do in any of the previous areas (except
for Brynnlaw/Spellhold, the Sahaugin City, and Ust Natha, none of which you can get back to anymore.)
There is nothing of interest here except a place to meet Elhan and the entrance to the Underdark. As you leave this area, however,
you will get the 'honor' of meeting up with Drizzt Do'urden and his famous sidekicks. Whoopee. This situation is
doubly aggravating because there is no in-game reason to hate this guy. He's a hero, he's not annoying, he doesn't betray
you, he's a good fighter, and he'll join your group and let you use him as cannon fodder. Anyone who likes summoning a
berserk warrior or a nishruu should love getting to use Drizzt in that role. In practice, though, most players attack and kill
Drizzt. Why? Well, for one thing, it's set up as a challenge, something few gamers can resist. For another thing, it's irritating
the way all your NPCs kiss this guy's ass constantly. Even the avidly racist Keldorn gushes all over him. More to my point, though, the
in-game reasons for not hating Drizzt fail because there is no in-game reason for Drizzt to keep BEING here. These constant
fawning cameos are out-of-place, insipid, and brainless. This is the single worst element of these games, as far as I'm concerned,
and it completely ruins the feel of whatever section they insist on shoehorning it into. It's like that bad Champions GM back in
high school who forced your team to run into Superman every single mission, no matter if you were in the backwoods of
Bulgaria somewhere or orbiting Saturn. You could go to another plane, and Supe would still somehow manage to put in his
stupid cameo. Remember how you wanted to kill Superman just to get him out of your face? Same thing here.
So, all right, Drizzt just happens to be in Amn this month, seeing as how you are, and he wants to kill Bodhi with you. Hold your
nose and accept his help, send him on his way, or kill him. It doesn't matter, since he's completely irrelevant to the plot and you'll
do just fine against Bodhi without him. (You may take a reputation hit for killing him, depending how you do it, and many of your
ass-kissing NPCs will leave your party and/or side with Drizzt.) If you take his party's stuff, an invincible friend of Drizzt's will turn up
later and take it back, so it won't do you much good. In fact, if you killed Drizzt during his stupid fawning cameo in BG1, he will
actually remember this and yell at you about it, demanding you explain why you
attacked him. "Because your appearance in that game was forced, idiotic, and as much of an insult to your persona as to my
intelligence" is not one of the options; you have to either apologize or kill him again. Your choice. I've heard, though I haven't
tried it myself, that if your character is named 'Drizzt' he will have an entertaining temper tantrum about your stealing his name and
attack him on sight. That's kind of cool, actually. Would that his only role in these games was to tweak fanboys. (-:
Anything from the Chapters 2&3 area guide that you didn't do yet will still be available to you
(with the obvious exception of the guild wars), and you can once again change NPCs at will. Not very much has changed on
these maps (please let me know if you've found anything else that has!) New things include:
1) There are some new items available for sale in the Adventurer's Mart now.
2) Many of the organizations you had dealings with your last time through here will have new conversational options
available for you to ask them for help fighting Bodhi. Try your stronghold, the temples in the temple district, the Shadow
Thieves, and the Order of the Radiant Heart. Their responses to you depend on your reputation, your charisma, and your
previous dealings with them. The conversation with Aran is the most interesting, since he discusses the fate of Saemon
Havarian with you and has worthwhile exchanges with Imoen and Valygar.
3) And, of course, Bodhi's lair in the Graveyard District is ready for another visit from you. If you talk to enough people
before assaulting her you can show up with a ludicrously massive army (six different groups may lend forces to this battle.)
The Shadow Thieves were especially interesting to bring along, as a special interaction may occur between two of their number if a Shadow
Thief is killed by the vampires; also the head assassin will actually move around locating and disarming traps for you. Anyway, even if it
seems like this army may make the final struggle with Bodhi rather unwieldy, it actually doesn't--each force you've collected starts in a
different area of Bodhi's dungeon, and once the vampires in their immediate area have been slain they will go home, with only the leaders
tagging along with you. It was quite nicely done. If you have an active romance you will get a special quest, Vampiric
Touch, when you enter the graveyard, by the way. Your final confrontation with Bodhi is much more interesting if you have Imoen with
you in your party, for obvious reasons; many other PCs, including Jaheira, Anomen, Korgan, Minsc, and Haerdalis, also put their two
cents in. Either way, Bodhi will tell you a little more of the truth of the Suldanalessar situation, and then you will have the chance to
slay her once and for all--a satisfying end to an elusive and dangerous villain.
UGH. This was my least favorite section of the entire game. This area was extremely difficult to move around, because the
whole forest floor is littered in fallen trees. Some of them you can walk over, others you cannot. You can't tell the difference
by looking. Basically, the forest is one big maze you have to stumble through by trial and error. Oh, and there's nothing in it.
You can spend fifteen minutes trying to get to one darkened quadrant of the map, only to find there is absolutely nothing
there. As if that's not enough, the entire area is plagued by annoying, low-level wandering monsters who get in your way
constantly--and it's hard to reach them to shut them up because of the fallen trees in the way.
Here are the precisely three things of any note on this map.
1) In the northwest is a cabin belonging to your old friend Coran, who has settled down with another old friend,
Safana. He gives you a quest to rescue her from some wolfweres, Puppy Love. It's a really lame
quest. Just follow him to the east, listen to the spiel between Coran and Safana, and then fight. The hardest part is
keeping Coran alive. Living with Safana has apparently sapped his strength--he has about 20-30 hit points, tops, so either
stick him in an Otiluke's Sphere or quickly get between him and the wolfweres before they can target him. Or, let him die. It
depends whether you liked him in BGI, I guess.
2) In the southeast is a hidden cave. Go in and find a little bit of hidden treasure and a fight with some crappy
kuo-toans. What are these aquatic creatures of the Underdark doing in the middle of the forest? Who cares anymore? I
think the designers were badly burned-out by this point.
3) In the far northeast is the entrance to Suldanessalar, once you've gotten the Lanthorn to locate it with.
There is nothing of interest on this map at all. Fight with a couple of efreeti, another with
an evil adventuring party. Neither says a word to you, and there's no reason why either
group is here. There's also a vampire that turns into a bat and flies away without saying
anything to you, and a tree with a couple of crumpled skeletons under it but nothing you can
do with them nor any explanation as to how they got there. At least this area was easy to move
around in. You are safe completely skipping it, however, and will probably enjoy your game
more if you do.
There is nothing here either. You can wander around these meaningless ruins and kill pointless wandering monsters. Uh, yay.
To add insult to injury, there are large sections of this map which are inaccessible, so you can't even have the
feeling of accomplishment from thoroughly revealing an empty map. You're safe completely bagging this area; there is
nothing of any value here.
Okay, finally a sign of life. The other three areas Elhan shows you how to get to are so devoid of content they made me
wonder whether they were recycled BGI maps that I didn't recognize and the ruins, waterfalls, dead bodies, and so forth once
used to have a purpose beyond pointless decoration. The elven city, however, is a compelling contrast to Ust Natha (finally
answering the question of why the underground city of the drow was made of skyways and raised platforms--obviously they'd
modelled the place on the treetop city they'd been expelled from!) Suldanesselar is irritating to navigate around because the
narrow skyways thwart the pathfinding AI even when it's turned on full blast, but it is satisfying in that almost every area has
some civilians or besieged soldiers you can save if you try hard enough, and it also offers interesting information about the
elven culture and Irenicus' past with them. The game is definitely winding up for
its conclusion by now, but things to do in Suldanesselar first include:
1) When you first enter, you will get some more information from Elhan and then a little cutscene of elven warriors being deployed
throughout the city.
2) Inside the house just north of the entrance (labelled "house of the horn" on the map) is an elven couple being terrorized by golems.
Save them for some XP and directions to the house the priestess is hiding in (that house is labelled on the map too, actually, but
it makes more sense to have to ask for directions from a local).
3) Further north along that path is the temple of Rillifane, also marked on your map. The altar you need for Demin's quest is here, and
there is a toady of Irenicus' hanging around it who will taunt you a little before trying to kill you. If you've put this temple off to the
end of your itinerary, you can summon the elven
avatar before killing these guys, at which point the avatar will smite them. Otherwise, do the smiting yourself. They're not the toughest
fight in the city anyway.
4) On a platform east of the entrance (south of the temple) is a large house, unmarked on the map, with a penthouse area up top. If you go up to the penthouse, there are a couple
of children cowering up there. Their parents were apparently outside when
the golems attacked. It doesn't seem to have any effect whether you fib and tell the kids their parents are alive or be honest and
say you're not sure, but you will get a reward for helping them to safety.
5) Continuing northwest from the penthouse, you will reach a platform with the Moonblade house. As you enter, you will get to watch a
confrontation between an elf and a demon. I couldn't help wondering if this elf and his Moonblade was supposed to have been Xan, but
you'd think he would have been named and gotten a funny exit line if so. Anyway, you can't affect this battle at all; just watch it unfold,
and loot the house once all the dust has settled. Just northeast of here is a gate guarded by a very skittish elf you will need to talk into
opening the sealed gate for you (you'll need a high charisma, intelligence, or wisdom, but you can talk to him with any party member you
like). On the other side is an elven healer, Rierra, tending to some wounded. They will offer you advice and healing and wish you
good luck. Past them is the elven palace, but you won't be able to get in there yet, so keep going west around the city.
6) Further northwest from the Moonblade house is another platform with a house labeled "house of the harp." These labels are rather
annoying, as the broken pieces of statuary stashed in people's cabinets are really not going to be indicated on a map. But anyway, go in
and steal the stone harp. It's rather hard to keep the elven warriors alive during the fight with the golems outside this house, but if you
succeed, one of them will have an interesting conversation with you.
7) Following the southwest skyway, you will come to Demin's house. After a brief conversation and battle with the drow guarding the
house, you can enter and rescue the high priestess. This is the woman Elhan told you about, and she will fill you in on the rest of the
story, though you have probably already surmised what happened by now. Apparently being the child of a god does not really have
anything to do with how well you're going to succeed in later life, because Ellesime, daughter of Rillifane, is a FUCKING IDIOT. Like
villains in the old "Batman" TV series, she apparently decided against executing her worst and most dangerous opponent because it
would be better to do something "worse than death" to him, worse than death meaning of course that she put him in a sticky situation
and then wandered off somewhere else to let him hatch a successful plan of escape. Though Ellesime may deserve her fate, however, the
rest of the city does not, so go ahead and accept Demin's quest, Nature Take The Life She Gave. You need
to do this to find Irenicus anyway, and it's fun to see the avenging avatars of the forest kicking his minions' butts every which way to
Sunday. You can refuse to help Demin, even attacking and killing her (though the lawful good crowd and the druids will mutiny if you
do,) but it won't help you--as far as I could tell, summoning the nature god's avatar is the only way to get into the temple. Many of your
NPCs will contribute to the conversation with Demin (Haerdalis, Imoen, Edwin, Korgan, Anomen, Aerie, Jaheira, and probably others), and
the three elves (Aerie, Jaheira, and Viconia) will help you out in the ensuing conversation with the avatar by giving you the cliffnotes on
the elven pantheon.
8) Southwest of Demin's house, southeast of the penthouse, is the "house of the talisman," named, once again, for the item of loot you
can get inside. There are no survivors in this house, but you can find a puzzle box in the living room containing the promised talisman. Solve
the puzzle (the answer is on a tablet upstairs, but you can probably figure it out from common sense) to get it.
9) In the far northwest of the map are some stairs leading down to a new section of the city, where, as many of the elves will already
have told you, a black dragon is hanging out. You'll need to get the last piece for summoning Rillifane from this dragon. You can do
this by killing him, bribing him, or stealing the cup very quickly before he turns red and then running like a rabbit (the dragon is too
big to follow you onto the skyway).
10) Finally, in the far northeast of the map is the palace. You won't be able to enter here until you've released the avatar of natural
fury. Inside there is not very much, actually: the Tree of Life, and a very silly 'puzzle' where you simply have to put the other two leftover
items from the city into the fountain to make it open. Once you do that, you can take the stairs to go face the big I himself!
A nice touch before you go is that the game not only warns you Irenicus is downstairs (giving you time to rest and prepare if you
want to,) but gives you one last chance to talk to each of your NPCs before the big fight, reviewing a little bit about how they've
developed in your party and giving them the chance to articulate their own feelings about Irenicus and about you. These conversations
do change slightly depending on your circumstances (whether you have an active romance with them, for instance, or whether certain
of their personal quests have been resolved or the associated characters killed), but all will end in solidarity. Honestly, if you've
managed to keep Korgan in your party all game, I believe even he would stay loyal to you out of sheer respect for your tenacity. So
brush the tear from your eye, save your game, and have at it!
Quick, punchy, and to the point. Ellesime meets you here and tells you how to kill the three parasites, you do, you fight Jon, and you
all go to Hell. In between, Jon and Ellesime have a very well-done conversation. It seems to me that Ellesime really has her head in the
sand vis-a-vis her own culpability here. Maybe, just maybe, the reason Irenicus "no longer remembers her love" is because she
stole his soul in the first place? Surely she could have come up with some better plan to redeem him; she could hardly have thought
of a worse one.
Though your journal says that the reason your companions fall into Hell with you is because of their grievous wounds, I've never
seen a character stay behind in Suldanessalar, even if that character was unwounded.
After a little movie, your party arrives in Hell. Each of your NPCs gets to comment on this; most are understandably freaked
out, though Haerdalis sounds pretty chipper about it and Edwin is nonchalant ("I would have come here anyway, you know.")
Now you get five trials of your soul before meeting Irenicus for the third and final time. These tests are not as mindless as tests you
have faced elsewhere in this game. You can complete each trial in either a generally 'good' or 'evil' way--in some trials the evil way results
in extra fighting and hardship, in others the good way does. There are no right or wrong answers, only choices. You will be able to
reach Irenicus and finish the game just as well regardless
of which paths you choose, and you will get special bonuses to your main character either way. These bonuses are slightly different
depending on which trial you completed which way--use a link to a walkthrough site if you want to see what
all the options are. However, I strongly suggest against trying to plan what to do at each trial based on your foreknowledge of which
reward you'll get and which you'd rather have. All the rewards are nice, and these trials are a lot more fun if you do them in character.
If you finish even one of the tasks evilly, you will become evil forevermore.
There are two special conversations, one introducing you to the level and one bidding you farewell, that go somewhat differently
depending on the order you do the trials in. Whichever demon you visit first will tell you about Bhaal's realm and how you and Irenicus
arrived here, and whichever you visit last will tell you what you have achieved and how to reach Irenicus. These conversations go a little
differently depending which of the demons you have it with, and which conversational options you pick, but they are basically the same
conversations no matter what you do.
You will not have any trouble working through these trials on your own, but there is one
potential problem I do feel I should mention: in the Selfishness trial, when the demon tells
you what's behind the "door to my left" and the "door to my right," regardless of which way
the demon is facing when he says it, he means the door to the left of your screen and the one
to the right of your screen. You wouldn't want to make a mistake here. (-:
Once you've finished all five trials, no matter how you did them, you will face Irenicus again and battle for ownership of your
soul. When you win, as you surely will (you do have the 'reload' option Jon does not, after all), you will get a cutscene back to
Suldanessalar, where Ellesime throws a party for you. Her speech praising you goes a little differently if your reputation is high
or low. The closest she gets to an apology is "I can't help feeling we might be partially responsible somehow." You do not, in any
of your meetings with Ellesime, have the option to say anything in any way uncomplimentary to her, one of the game's few
role-playing flaws, for I had no sympathy for this incredibly stupid, self-righteous queen who got us all into this mess by playing
god with other people's souls. Water under the bridge; accept her accolades, wave at all the cheering elf kids in the audience, give
your love interest a little kiss, and get ready for ToB. Or, if you're like me, immediately start the game over. It's your call. (-:
Oh, and there's a final movie, but it's not very good: a superfluous scene of Irenicus being tormented in Hell by some kobold-looking
demons (I thought he was supposed to be destroyed forever after death, since he didn't have any soul?) and a foreshadowing scene
of some oddly floppy-wristed mysterious strangers discussing your final fate, meant to lead the story into
Throne of Bhaal.
Makes me want to run out and get it! Uh, well, just as soon as I finish the game where I side with Bodhi, that is... (-: