Kicking Beholder Ass – Playing Baldur’s Gate II, 23/2/15

BurgandyBeholder

I stride into the centre of the living room and perform a perfect karate kick, exclaiming as I do so

“That’s me kicking Beholder ass”

Pleased with myself, I do the action again. My wife sees a forty-one year old, overweight, white guy wearing glasses do a crap little kick that would barely reach someone’s knee and hears me proclaim:

“That’s me kicking Beholder ass”

“You look like Van Morrison”, she dryly declares (a family joke).

But my mood cannot be shattered, I feel like a million bucks, because I have just kicked Beholder ass.

After two weeks faffing around I finally settled on a starting character, and so spent a good chunk of Saturday battling through Balthor’s (my character’s) first real quest. Having learnt from my previous indecision I decided that I would concentrate on discovering the truth behind a new cult that has appeared the city, whose adherents allow their own eyes to be removed so they can truly see. Thus began the quest to destroy the Cult of the Unseeing Eye.

*Spoiler* The Cult of the Unseeing Eye quest described in detail

Since I am playing a Dwarven Cleric of Lathander, I decide to head to the Temple district and say hello to my cult. Curiously they don’t seem that pleased to see me, which makes me wonder what I have done to annoy them, but they do give me the quest to investigate the mysterious Cult of the Unseeing Eye.

So off we all go, me and my crew of companions, down into the sewers to discover what’s going on. Tramping around the sewers, we dispatch a couple of big nasty looking worms and take out a biggish group of goblins, before discovering the entrance to the quest proper.

This involves talking to a nutter called Gaal, who thinks that cutting people’s eyes out allows them to see…hmm, I don’t think me and him are going to get on. Still, it looks like the only way to move things along, so I agree to collect part of a sacred rod that he needs. I mostly do this because I need to get chummy with him and the only other way to achieve this appears to be to let him rip my eyes out, which frankly is going to ruin my THAC0.

After the conversation, Yojimbo (Yoshimo), my thief in residence, comments that this task must be difficult since a beholder failed to secure the rod. This is news to me, obviously I had been skim reading; still, he is right, if a big floating eye couldn’t get the rod maybe I should be worried.

But a quest is a quest, so we wander off to the locked door round the corner and, using the key provided by Gaal, enter the dungeon. At which point we meet an ex-priest of the Unseeing Eye who claims that it is an evil cult which worships a Beholder; this sounds about right and since the guy is blind and cannot see, I kind of trust him. The ex-priest thinks that the rod could be used to defeat the Beholder, but that involves me getting hold of the first section of the Rod. So, a-dungeoneering we will go.

Down another passage and a set of steps leads us into a big room which kind of reminds me of someone’s rib cage. At the end of the room is a wall relief of a screaming face, but before I can admire it we get attacked by spiders, which we manage to dispatch. Reaching the wall I investigate it and more spiders turn up, along with some sort of shade which kills my mage.

So I reload, kill the first set of spiders, save, get to the wall, and when the shade turns up I get my ass kicked.

I reload and decide to place my mage, druid and thief off to the right hand side so they can provide fire support; the shade and spiders turn up, and then a load of lizard men walk down the passage near where I have placed my mage and things go horribly wrong.

Reload; try it again, with the same result.

Reload, OK, new tactics, everyone heads straight for the passage on the right and takes out the lizard men first; good plan, pity about the execution, since the lizard men turned out to be hard and I get my ass kicked, again.

Reload, buff everyone I can, head straight for the right hand corridor, summon a spider and send it up into the fog of war. It starts fighting and so I creep forward slightly so I can see the edge of a lizard man and cast Ice Storm on the fuckers; my spider doesn’t last much longer, but then neither do they. Having killed the lizard men, I save (I think I am slowly grasping how necessary it is to save constantly). Then, I approach the wall, mage and fire support off to the right, fighters in the centre. I click on the wall, the spiders and shade appear and I hit them with everything I have got, concentrating on the spiders since I figure they are easier to kill. After a long battle in which half of my crew stands around like idiots frozen by some spell that the shade casts, I finally defeat them, save, breathe. I click the wall again without really thinking; two spiders and a shade appear.

Oh, sod this, reload. I don’t click the wall, instead I just loot the small box in it and move on.

Up the corridor I encounter a second group of lizard men, but I fight through them and reach a room with a sort of broken temple in the middle of it. The temple has a big crack running through the centre of it and after wandering around for a bit too long, I realise that my party can’t cross it. So I stare puzzled at the screen for a while, until I release that I can click on the top of the temple and something will happen. Which leads to a series of riddles; nothing too taxing and luckily I had saved before I started them, so when I get one wrong I can reload. Still, I crack them in the end and the party moves on.

After a little scuffle with some goblins we enter a large cavern with a temple in the centre. Ahead is a standing corpse, hovering over him I see the talk sign rather than attack (friendly?) so I place my fire support off to the left, bring the fighters up close behind, and go and have a chat. It turns out the depressed, dead, sarcastic leader just wants to die but none of his village can because of some ancient pact to protect their God and the rod he is protecting. But this has gone on so long they can’t even remember their God’s name, which all seems a bit harsh, but they do at least let us through without a fight.

We enter the temple and are confronted with a horrific creature that moves to attack us, it appears to be nearly dead so I send the fighters in and start buffing Balthor; meanwhile the mage, thief and druid begin providing fire support. But after a few turns it become apparent no-one is doing much damage, so I start powering up the mage, send Balthor in, and retreat one of the fighters so I can heal him. The mage unloads literally everything he has at the monstrosity and I send in everyone else, but nothing is working; as I watch people’s hit points go down, I start to contemplate defeat and decide on a tactical withdrawal. Everyone legs it out of the temple and luckily the horror doesn’t follow them. Hmm, something is not right, every other time I have been spanked things have gone wrong fast, this time I stood against the creature for a long time but didn’t do it any harm…hmm I wonder…what if…when it kept saying “pain, help me” it meant that what I actually needed to do was heal it rather than attack it. Well, got to be worth a try, load my Cleric and the Druid up with healing spells, go back in and see what happens. Balthor casts minor healing on it and “poof”, it disappears and is replaced by a ghostly image – Result.

Quick chat to the ghost later and we have got the piece of the rod we had come for; as long as we return it after use everything will be fine. Best head back; I trust the blind priest who can’t see more than I trust Gaal, so we head back to the priest to see what he suggests we do next. Quick chat and it’s off to find Tad, who can let us in a side entrance to the Beholder’s lair so we can loot the second piece of the rod, put it together, and use it to take down the Beholder.

Everything is looking rosy until we enter the pit that leads to the Beholder’s lair and encounter undead. I have always kind of felt that undead were a bit crap and not very scary, but this lot are tough, everyone keeps losing levels, which makes the whole thing a bit of a nightmare. Still, we struggle through the first lot and then encounter a second group almost immediately, at which point everything falls apart and party members start dying.

Reload, let’s try this again, kill the first lot, save, encounter the second lot, at which point I realise there is one of to the left who is talking, which is odd. He says something about going to warn the Mayor and disappears through a door. Right, new plan everyone, through the door that the talking undead went through; maybe we can reason our way out of this, if not, at least we will lose the ones who are attacking us. So through the door we go, before I can gather my thoughts the undead who we were fighting are coming through the doorway and attacking. Oh dear, it seems NPCs can move through doors.

Things go wrong. Having undead popping up behind my party and arriving where the mage and druid are is not good. As I move them out of the way they trigger more undead in the new area and I am seriously worried about how I am going to get them out alive. It is around this point that in desperation I trigger Balthor’s “turn undead” ability and leave it turned on rather than immediately asking him to hit something or cast a spell. This takes a lot of determination on my part because my instinct is to click on things when stuff is going wrong. But, amazingly, it works: the undead start fleeing; the fighters start getting a handle on the situation. Things are looking up, when one of the fleeing undead moves off away from the party and drags Minsc with him; this triggers more undead and the whole nightmare starts again. But with “turn undead” doing its thing the situation is finally saved and the undead defeated; save. Sadly I couldn’t communicate with the talking undead guy because my crew murdered every undead in the area, still, never mind, at least I know what “turn undead” does now.

The party moves on and finally enters the lair of the Unseeing Eye, which is disturbingly like the inside of a Beholder in its general layout. This is when I encounter my first Beholder, curiously called Gauth, it seems a bit small but it’s nasty and causes me some problems. Then round a corner I encounter another one, also called Gauth, hmm, maybe I misunderstood. Still I manage to take out the second one and carry on, round another bend I meet…a Beholder. I know it’s a Beholder because it says so when I hover over it, oh that means the things that I thought were Beholders were actually just babies, oh dear this could be very bad. The Beholder starts zapping Minsc with its big eye, but I think I am so surprised by the fact that a real Beholder is so much bigger than I thought it was that I just go nuclear on his ass and blow the crap out of him.

On we go through the living maze of tunnels that is a Beholder’s lair, until we come across a strange nodule which contains a load of treasure but, sadly, not the other piece of the rod. Still, the obvious thing to do when finding a treasure room in a Beholder’s lair is to sleep, so we do. To be honest it doesn’t matter if I want to or not, we have to, because my mage has hardly any spells left. Still, we make it through the night and move on; after dealing with a few more Gauths, we find a second treasure room with another nodule and this time our luck is in, we have the second section of the rod. Right time to have a kip, after a nice sleep the party is ready to move on and…as we turn the first corner we come face to face with the Unseeing Eye, who turns out to be a big-assed Beholder. Balthor fires the wand at him and everyone else beats on his ass and it works, he goes down surprisingly easily. Well, if that’s the case we had better go and loot the rest of the lair, luckily I save.

Off we go, full of confidence, round the next bend heading for the centre of the lair, when we encounter a couple of Gauths and a Beholder. I kick everyone into action and it all goes pear-shaped quickly, one minute everything looks fine, the next most of the party is disabled and getting screwed over by glare attacks. I can’t even retreat, because most of the party can’t move, I carry on until I have lost a couple of characters and then, reload.

Right, that’s it, we came here to do a job and we have done that job, so it’s time for a tactical withdrawal. Running away does feel a bit pathetic, but on the plus side we got to the lair, got the rod, killed the Unseeing Eye, so I think it can definitely be called a success – it’s time to chip.

So, instead of looting, I pile everyone up the nearest set of stairs and escape. After a quick diversion to return the rod to the temple and release the dead people from their servitude it’s all done, well, nearly: time to go and sort out Gaal. The crew make their way to Unseeing Eye temple, but before we can enter, Gaal confronts us. He is accompanied by some of his followers and while he is talking a couple leave, saying it is all a sham. But this doesn’t stop him from attacking us: the fight is hard, being unprepared in this game can be a real problem. Still, finally we manage to overcome him and his followers.

Now it’s time to tidy up, which is a nice euphemism for looting the temple. So in we all go, Yojimbo picking the locks and then everyone cramming their pockets with stuff. This takes a little while, but I do love a good bit of looting.

With the temple gutted and the Beholders and cultist followers defeated, all that is left is to tell my temple of my overwhelming success. I arrive pretty damn pleased with myself, since they only asked me to investigate and instead I have uncovered and defeated a Beholder cult. I talk to the main guy who thanks me and gives me some stuff and then comments that whilst my reputation isn’t very good at least I sorted this situation out. What? What do you mean my reputation isn’t very good? I even refused to ask for a reward in order to show how holy I am. Oh well, I guess you win some and you lose some, but at least I got to kick Beholder ass.

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