Saturday, June 20, 2009

Day 23: Tribunal, main quest

Certain enemies in the Tribunal expansion seem to be much tougher than any in the unexpanded game so far.  I attribute this to their increased use of spell reflect.  I'm in the upper 40s in level now, and although I haven't yet finished the main quest in the original game, I've started doing some of the Tribunal quests, including the main quest.  There was a boss lich that I had to fight in the sewers for one quest, who I found very tough for the reflection reasons, as well as the lich having a very hard-hitting spell with wide range that killed me in one shot every time, if she managed to land it near me.  Also, Gaenor, who I mentioned before.

I ultimately dealt with the lich by using my Ring of Equity, a very late Telvanni quest reward, which made me immune to everything she cast at me for 30 seconds, then, since she was just reflecting any spells I was casting at her, I went in with my Devil Tanto and hacked at her until she died.  I think possibly she may have also gotten a bit of one of her spells reflected back at her, though I'm not sure.


Thie same strategy didn't work with Gaenor, though.  I'm not sure what did, really.  Gaenor is a very lucky wood elf grifter who hits people up for money, using a lot of hard-sell techniques (seriously, read the dialogue on this page to see how persuasive this guy is), and you can't exit conversation with him once it begins.  Eventually, no matter what you do or say, he'll fly off the handle and vow revenge for either not giving him enough, promising ridiculous amounts, or refusing him outright, and after he's had a day or two to think about it, he'll return to the area in full ebony armour and attack you on sight.  I had been sneaking around him whenever I needed to go to the temple, because the several times I tried to kill him before had all ended in failure (he walks up and challenges you if you get too close to him).

I tried everything, buffing myself up with potions, spells, and items, using summoned creatures (I used Aryon's Helper and Gothren's Cephalopod Helm, as well as my Golden Saint ring, so I had 5 summoned creatures attacking him at once, and they were having no effect on him), as well as a bunch of poisoned darts I picked up from the Black Dart gang, again, with no effect.  I had my luck buffed up a decent amount, but of course his luck is off the charts, which is why he's so hard to kill.  I had also buffed up my own reflect and spell absorption, but I couldn't see that it did any good.  I don't know if a double-reflect is possible or not (such as I cast a spell, they reflect it back on me, and I reflect it back on them), or if reflections are one time only.

Finally, and I don't know why this worked at this time, I used a few Lightning Storm rings, and was surprised when they took his health down noticeably.  3 or 4 hits with those rings, and he died.  But I tried it again later on an earlier save, because it was a shame to have wasted all those great poisoned darts on him, and it didn't work that time, so it's a good thing I also kept a save from after I killed him.  I probably wouldn't have used those darts on anything anyway.

I had so many things going on, I can't tell what may have contributed to his demise, but it could have been some kind of skill damage that the summoned creatures landed on him, or possibly the fact that he was swimming in the canal at the time I shocked him, or possibly some buff I was using helped.  I think by the time you have a chance of defeating him, the ebony stuff isn't really worth the trouble, and the luck-boosting Gaenor's Amulet isn't really all that powerful or worthwhile as loot, considering how lucky you'd already have to have been to finish him off.

Almalexia and Tribunal quests

I also got to meet the lovely Almalexia.  Well, she's lovely if you've installed Better Almalexia, anyway, which I did.  She seemed nice enough, for a god, though a bit patronising, especially considering who she used to work for.  But still, she spoke with kind words, and the five fawning men she likes to surround herself with seem to like her, too.  Everyone is particularly impressed with Her Hands.

The way Tribunal's main quest is set up, you can either start out working for the smug, sneering Tienius, captain of the guard of the recently crowned Imperial King Claudius -- er, I mean Helseth (who is very obviously the one who ordered an assassination attempt on you), performing tasks for him that make you feel like a fascist informant turning in your fellow citizens for the glory of the State and getting no reward, or you can work for the Temple, curing people of diseases, fighting goblins, cleansing a shrine, and fighting the aforementioned tough lich boss to stop a plague, and getting good gold, item, and spell rewards.  I'm not sure why anyone would keep working for a king who ordered his or her own assassination, not even those who are roleplaying an evil character, or a diehard Imperial loyalist, unless perhaps they're hoping to get close enough to him to slip a blade between his ribs.

Perhaps not really much of an either/or choice, as you have to do most of the Temple quests anyway at some point, it's just that the Imperial quests and the lich/plague quests are optional and can be skipped.  I did a couple of the Imperial ones, but they really felt dirty, and it only strengthened my anti-Imperial feelings.  When I refused the third quest, Tienius unsubtlely remarked that I should change my mind if I knew what was good for me, as I wouldn't like to be on Helseth's bad side.  I think he forgot that Helseth already sent the Dark Brotherhood after me.  I would think he might reconsider threatening someone who shows up wearing the armour of the assassins who were sent to kill them.

Main quest progression

Back in the vanilla game, I think I'm pretty near the climax of the main quest.  I've been sent through the Ghostgate to retrieve the artifacts Keening and Sunder in preparation for facing the big evil bad guy, who as of yet I still haven't met.  All I know about his looks is from the descriptions from the dreams that he wears a golden mask.  At this point, I just want to take care of it to get rid of those annoying ash storms where I can't see anything and my mana won't regenerate (that's a feature of Regional Mana).

So I've been to one of the vampire citadels so far.  I decided to go counterclockwise among the markers that were put on my map, and found the first artifact there.  The cliffs were steep, and I couldn't find a pathway leading up to it, but that was no problem with my high acrobatics and Tinur's Hoptoad, or the wide range of levitations available to me.  Judging from the steepness of the cliffs, and the fact that I found a bridge leading off in the opposite direction once I got up there, I'm thinking I was "supposed" to find this place last, because I found one of the artifacts in there -- Keening.  The dagoth who came to say hello when I was looking around the place claimed that it was "well-hidden" and that I'd never find it even if I got past him.  But his idea of "well-hidden" actually meant "on display in an easily-accessible tower room".  A bit anticlimactic after getting me ready for a challenge.  The whole place was anticlimactic, really.  It was called a Dwemer training academy, so I thought there would be some kind of theme to that effect inside, but it was just a standard, very small dwarven ruin.  I've been disappointed in those in general after the high standard set by the first one I experienced outside Balmora, which was much bigger and had large cave areas combined with it.  The rest have just been small building interiors, for the most part, without even any caverns.  What I really wanted was something to make me think "Wow, what were they doing in here?"

Keening is a very nice shortsword, probably named for both having a keen (sharp) edge, and after the kind of ritual wailing the people of some cultures do over the bodies of dead loved ones, which is also called "keening".  It has five constant effect fortification enchantments on it, and a unique look, and better attack stats than the bound daedric dagger that comes with my trusty old Devil Tanto from Ra'virr's shop, except without the short blade skill fortification and 10-second fire shield, and it's 5 pounds heavier.  I suppose the fire shield was too short to be useful anyway, and if I need the blade skill fortification I can just make a spell to do it anyway, so I might as well retire the Devil Tanto to one of my storage cabinets at this point.

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