Baldur's Gate 3 Progress (2023)

24,277 words.

This is a hopefully-updated list of videos I’ve recorded from Baldur’s Gate 3, along with their descriptions, which maps out my progress through the game. When you see them all in a row, it turns into a nifty story. Enterprising souls can use this to see exactly where I am in the game at any given moment in time, and how my playthrough compares to yours. (Comparing notes on differing playthroughs is one of the most fun aspects of these RPGs.)

Warning: Spoilers, because I literally just tell you everything that happens in the description, because that’s what descriptions are for.

Our hero, Tavi the Bard, in camp in Baldur’s Gate 3.

Our hero, Tavi the Bard, in camp in Baldur’s Gate 3.

I haven’t really decided yet if I want to publish Baldur’s Gate 3 videos, since it’s not exactly a thrill-a-minute kind of game, and it’s heavy on cut scenes. I still record them, but I tend to avoid uploading games with a lot of cut scenes, because it doesn’t feel like terribly original content. (Then again, since my NAS crashed, I want to upload everything I record, no matter what.)

Okay I think that’s enough at the top of the page here to keep people from accidentally seeing spoilers they might not want to see.

Tavi’s Story (Spoilers)

(This no longer includes “unlisted” videos, which are the “deleted scenes” I cut out of the main narrative.)

1. Escape the Nautiloid. 1:02:39. Friday, 4 August. Tavi, the Lightfoot Halfling Bard with the Bongos, the Real Hero of This Story, begins her journey on Tactician difficulty, held captive aboard a mindflayer nautiloid (it’s a flying ship). The ship is flying around taking prisoners and impregnating them with mindflayer tadpoles, which climb into your eye socket, which is bad, because you’ll soon turn into a mindflayer. Allegedly. Tavi escapes the ship and the combat tutorial, teaming up with Us, a domesticated intellect devourer, Shadowheart, a cleric rescued from a pod, and Lae’zel, a githyanki fighter. 21:44 to skip all the introductory cut scenes we’ve all probably seen a million times before by now. Scorecard: Level=1.

2. Exploring the Ravaged Beach. 52:16. Friday, 4 August. Tavi mysteriously survives the crashing nautiloid. “Us,” the overpowered intellect devourer companion, is gone. First order of business is to find a healer to remove the mindflayer tadpole. Tavi meets up with the cleric Shadowheart on the beach, who carries around a mysterious artifact. Shadowheart is a healer, but obviously can’t remove the tadpole because that would be too easy. Tavi and Shadowheart meet the foppish rogue Astarion, another tadpole-infected refugee from another part of the ship. Lae’zel, however, is nowhere to be found. Also: Playing bongos and gathering herbs on the beach. A tense encounter with unfriendly intellect devourers that comes within 1 hit point of causing the first TPK. Level 2. This battle is a roller-coaster: https://youtube.com/shorts/GzKVNL_9D1Q Scorecard: Level=2.

3. Bandits at the Chapel. 1:02:45. Saturday, 5 August. Tavi rescues another tadpole-infected victim, Gale the Wizard from Waterdeep, from a portal. Then the party of four delves into a Chapel to tangle with some bandits, before making first camp. Gales disapproves of a mind probe. Shadowheart acts oddly jealous. Scorecard: Level=2, Camps=1.

4. Desperate Fight in the Refectory. 1:14:59. Saturday, 5 August. Tavi’s Team opens a door in the Chapel Refectory, behind which a deadly group of bandits with a barbarian and a spellcaster await. A desperate fight ensues, where the first Revivify scroll is needed. A switch opens another area. At camp, Gale and Shadowheart wonder why the tadpoles haven’t turned them into mindflayers yet, while Astarion volunteers to poison Tavi if she starts to turn into a mindflayer. Astarion wanders the night. Scorecard: Level=2, Camps=2, Revivifies=1.

5. Surprise in the Dank Crypt. 1:22:41. Saturday, 5 August. Tavi’s Team descends to the Dank Crypt below the Refectory, where another tough fight with fog cloud-casting undead scribes await. Tavi opens a sarcophogous and makes a deal with Withers, who shows up at camp to offer his services. Tavi finds out Astarion’s a vampire (a shocking surprise that wasn’t at all surprising if you spent any time reading the backstories of the preset heroes on the character creation screen) and impulsively decides to help with his addiction problem. Scorecard: Level=2, Camps=3, Bites=1, Revivifies=1.

6. At the Gates of the Emerald Grove (Level 3). 1:00:43. Saturday, 5 August. Breaking camp, Tavi, Shadowheart, Astarion, and Gale first go back to explore a trap-filled room they missed in the Chapel, then arrive at the gates of the druid’s Emerald Grove, where the group helps fight off a goblin attack, getting our first look at Wyll, the Blade of the Frontier. Apparently there’s a quarrel between some tiefling refugees and the druids in the grove, a xenophobia story as old as time. The party thwarts an assassionation attempt, reaches level 3, and talks to a squirrel named Timber. Scorecard: Level=3, Camps=3, Bites=1, Revivifies=1.

7. The Tieflings in The Hollow. 50:15. Sunday, 6 August. A non-combat episode. Exploring The Hollow, where tieflings are about to be kicked out by the resident druids in the Emerald Grove. The antics of the tiefling children, who are street hustlers. Wyll, the Blade of the Frontiers, is teaching the tiefling children to fight because they’re all going to get killed by goblins if they have to leave the grove. Wyll is recruited, and wants the party to help him track down and kill Karlach, some sort of demonic evil-doer. A talking rat leads Tavi to a chest protected by a wounded tiefling. Scorecard: Level=3, Camps=3, Bites=1, Revivifies=1.

8. The Druids in the Sacred Pool. 1:14:38. Sunday, 6 August. A non-combat episode. Going back to rescue Lae’zel. Back in The Hollow, the tiefling children’s hideout; Mol wants us to steal an idol. Kharga and the druids in the Sacred Pool have kidnapped a tiefling child Arabella to use in their ritual. Shadowheart has a secret backstory. Nettie, a druid healer, tries to help us with our tadpole infection–by killing us. We learn that a more powerful druid healer Halsin held captive by the goblins might be able to help us with the tadpoles. Scorecard: Level=3, Camps=3, Bites=1, Revivifies=1.

9. Camp Preparations. 45:38. Sunday, 6 August. A non-combat episode. Lots of conversations around camp with the new recruits as the team prepares to head west in search of goblins, to help the tieflings. Hiring Brinna Brightsong as an accompaniest bard to play violin with Tavi’s bongos. Scorecard: Level=3, Camps=4, Bites=1, Revivifies=1.

10. The Ill-Fated Owlbear Cave. 1:33:07. Sunday, 6 August. Tavi’s Team, now consisting of two bards (Tavi and Brinna Brightsong), Lae’zel, and Wyll, heads west from the Emerald Grove to pacify a goblin camp so that the tiefling refugees can safely reach Baldur’s Gate. But first the party encounters a pair of cultists of the Absolute who declare Tavi a True Soul. Wyll flirts with Lae’zel. A side quest leads to an Owlbear Cave, where a nightmarish slog of a fight awaits. The two-bard combo starts well but then things get baaaaaaad when the cultists switch sides. To skip the tedium: 1:09:50 Owlbear down, 1:20:20 Brynna cultist down, 1:24:20 Andrick cultist down. The celebration of remaining alive in the face of certain defeat is somewhat undercut by the sad cut scene that followed. Scorecard: Level=3, Camps=4, Bites=1, Revivifies=1.

11. Forest Exploration. 55:38. Monday, 7 August. Hotfix #1 4.1.1.3624901. A non-combat episode. After the disaster in the owlbear cave, Tavi’s Team abandons the two-bard strategy and swaps out Brinna Brightsong for Shadowheart. They continue without a rest further into the forest to explore westward, looking for Karlach, Wyll’s target of revenge, and ultimately the goblin camp. Shadowheart argues with Lae’zel, and Wyll flirts with Shadowheart. Also: Sneaking past the Blighted Village, assassinating a bugbear and a goblin along the way. The devil Raphael appears and makes a tempting proposition. Scratch the dog won’t leave his human. No paths found to where I want to go. Scorecard: Level=3, Camps=4, Bites=1, Revivifies=1.

12. Mirror, Mirror. 1:10:37. Monday, 7 August. With nowhere else to go, Tavi’s Team boldly enters the front door of the Blighted Village, where Tavi uses her new mind powers to stop a group of goblins from attacking. Also: Making a terrible deal with Lump the Enlightened Ogre that couldn’t possibly come back to haunt us later. Exploring a cellar, which leads to an irate Ornate Mirror that causes the first full party TPK of the playthrough, a Secret Laboratory, and the Necromancy of Thay book, which requires a missing gemstone to open. Scorecard: Level=3, Camps=4, Bites=1, Revivifies=1, Reloads=1 (for TPK=1).

13. Fleeing the Reserve Gnolls. 1:22:08. Tuesday, 8 August. Hotfix #2 4.1.1.3630146. Leaving the Secret Laboratory under the Blighted Village behind, Tavi’s Team figures out how to jump over the broken bridge to continue looking for Wyll’s nemesis Karlach on The Risen Road. Instead, they find gnolls blocking the road. Gross gnolls covered in gruesome hyena viscera. Despite a veritable barrage of crowd control spells and desperation ranged attacks, the party can’t stop a single hyena from running up the hill with 1 remaining hit point to notify the battle-hardened gnolls waiting in reserve, and the party has to flee for their lives, leaving poor Wyll to die alone. Luckily, death is meaningless and Withers resurrected him back at camp. Gale consumes his first magic item for mysterious reasons. Tavi flirts with Gale before punching him in the stomach, then asks for another toothy visit from Astarion during a night’s long rest. This hyena is the hero of their own story: https://youtube.com/shorts/UDAD0rBMVaM Scorecard: Level=3, Camps=5, Bites=2, Gale=1, Revivifies=1, Resurrections=1, Reloads=1 (for TPK=1).

14. Beware the Sword of Tyr. 1:09:24. Tuesday, 8 August. Freshly rested (discounting blood loss), Tavi’s Team returns to The Risen Road, now clear of gnolls (mostly), and resumes the search for Wyll’s nemesis Karlach. It turns out she’s not the monster Wyll thought; she’s a friendly devil barbarian, and she joins the group. She has her own nemesis nearby, a Paladin of Tyr named Anders, who is apparently trying to drag her back to Avernus. Attacking Anders turns out to be A Very, Very Bad Idea at level 3 on Tactician difficulty, and two more TPKs ensue, but talking wasn’t an option. Maybe we’ll come back in another level or so–and perhaps with a different party composition than 3 melee fighters and a bard–for Karlach’s personal quest for vengeance. Scorecard: Level=3, Camps=5, Bites=2, Gale=1, Revivifies=1, Resurrections=1, Reloads=3 (for TPK=3).

15. The Githyanki Mean Business (Level 4). 1:12:48. Wednesday, 9 August. Reuploaded because YouTube goofed up the first one. A non-combat episode. Tavi’s Team dismisses Karlach until a higher level, and returns to the Risen Road in search of Lae’zel’s Creche. On the road west, the party helps rescue a counseller at Waukeen’s Rest, which is on fire and a very annoying navigation problem, gameplay-wise. Next, the party finds a githyanki patrol with a dragon looking for an artefact, Shadowheart’s artifact! It seems to be a powerful weapon. The party feigns ignorance about it. Near the Mountain Pass, at the edge of the map, the party is overcome by a godly vision, and the artefact passes into Tavi’s hands. Lae’zel throws herself at Tavi. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=5, Bites=2, Gale=1, Revivifies=1, Resurrections=1, Reloads=3 (for TPK=3).

16. In Case Of My Death.... 1:23:55. Wednesday, 9 August. Tavi’s Team decides to backtrack up the Risen Road to deal with the rest of the gnolls, where the party discovers that machinegun-arrow-firing Gnoll Hunters are no joke. Most of the party is hurt, and Gale dies under a hail of arrows, leaving behind a painful necrotic aura and a mysterious ritual to recover a True Resurrection scroll from his corpse, and a lot more questions about his secret backstory. (In the end a Revivify scroll did the job, the second used in this playthrough so far.) Lots of conversations at camp, where Lae’zel does not throw herself at Tavi, but instead tries to assassinate her to stop the mindflayer transformation. Then everyone has a dream which reveals a mysterious Guardian has been watching over them. In fact, it was The Guardian who mysteriously saved Tavi from falling to her death from the nautiloid flying ship (an absolutely shocking surprise reveal that was given away in the first few seconds of Steam’s video trailer for the game). The Guardian encourages them to use and develop the power of the tadpole. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=6, Bites=3, Gale=1, Revivifies=2, Resurrections=1, Reloads=3 (for TPK=3).

17. Missing Shipment and Audio. 59:12. Thursday, 10 August. Hotfix #2.1 4.1.1.3635601. An unfortunate audio malfunction (a dumb mistake on my part) means I didn’t record any game sound for this one, so I’ll be re-loading next time, and these events didn’t happen: Tavi’s Team found the Missing Shipment. It was in a cave where two people where trying to fend off an attack from a Gnoll Warlord. The party tried to help (they were trapped there anyway), but the level 5 warlord and his friends were too much to handle; Tavi and Lae’zel died, the two people we were helping died, and Shadowheart and Astarion barely managed to flee. But this will all be nullified next time. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=6, Bites=3, Gale=1, Revivifies=2, Resurrections=1, Reloads=4 (for Redo=1, TPK=3).

18. Auntie Ethel in the Putrid Bog. 1:20:24. Friday, 11 August. Hotfix #3 4.1.1.3636828. With game audio restored and previous game loaded, Tavi’s Team sets out on a different path that hopefully won’t run into any gnoll warlords. The party heads south from the Blighted Village into the Putrid Bog, where they encounter Auntie Ethel, a hag in the Riverside Teahouse. She promises to remove the mindflayer tadpoles … for a price. Tavi initially agrees, then changes her mind. The Hag disappears (with mysterious prisoner Mayrina), leaving behind a fight with level 4 Redcaps. The party is nervous, and initially thinks it wise to flee for their lives, but instead stays, fights, and wins. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=6, Bites=3, Gale=1, Revivifies=2, Resurrections=1, Reloads=4 (for Redo=1, TPK=3).

19. Monster Hunter Gandrel. 1:05:59. Friday, 11 August. Exploring further in the Putrid Bog, Tavi’s Team encounters a lone stranger near the Teahouse, the monster hunter Gandrel. He’s looking for Astarion! Tavi gives the go ahead to dispatch this threat to the party, and it’s harder to kill this lone level 5 monster hunter than expected. Gandrel is quick and relentless, and Astarion dies in the fight, and has to be Revivified afterward (the third so far). Later in camp, he explains more of his Secret Backstory(tm) regarding Calazor, his vampire sire. It’s a busy camp night, because Wyll’s devil patron Mizola arrives to scold him for not killing Karlach like she asked, and as punishment, turns him into a devil with horns. He doesn’t seem to mind, because of Secret Backstory(tm) reasons he can’t reveal, and Karlach is grateful. Finally, Lae’zel makes good on her promise to visit Tavi in the night, and not in the way that Astarion has been. (However, since this is a vaguely family-friendly channel, and the nudity filter doesn’t leave anything at all to the imagination, I cut that part out.) Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=7, Trysts=1, Bites=3, Gale=1, Revivifies=3, Resurrections=1, Reloads=4 (for Redo=1, TPK=3).

20. The Emerald Grove Massacre pt 1. 55:38. Saturday, 12 August. With the tiefling and druid conflict back in the Emerald Grove still unresolved, and the road to Baldur’s Gate still harried by a goblin camp, Tavi’s Team decides to go for a quick fix by killing Kagha, the annoyingly xenophobic druid leader, inside the Sacred Pool. After breaking camp, Shadowheart confides to Tavi about her secret wish to be a Dark Justiciar for Shar, right out in front of everyone. After a stop by Arron the halfling trader to buy some more healing potions, the party enacts a decisive victory against Kagha and two of her druid thugs. Unfortunately, the rest of the druids outside begin to attack the tiefling refugees in retaliation. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=7, Trysts=1, Bites=3, Gale=1, Revivifies=3, Resurrections=1, Reloads=4 (for Redo=1, TPK=3).

21. The Emerald Grove Massacre pt 2. 58:13. Saturday, 12 August. Cate Blanchett! That’s who the druid leader Kagha looked like. Anyway, it’s a grim sight on emerging from the Sacred Pool as the druids have started a pogrom against the tieflings. Corpses litter the ground and blood runs in rivers throughout the Emerald Grove Hollow. Tavi’s Team rushes to help, and our heroes manage to kill three more druids, a bear, and Arron the halfling trader, but the druids prevail in the end through sheer numbers. All the tieflings are slaughtered, while the barbarian Karlach and would-be justiciar Shadowheart sacrifice themselves so that Tavi and Astarion can flee back to camp to fight another day. Vengeance will be mine! Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=7, Trysts=1, Bites=3, Gale=1, Revivifies=3, Resurrections=1, Reloads=4 (for Redo=1, TPK=3).

22. The Emerald Grove Massacre pt 3. 1:04:27. Saturday, 12 August. After losing Shadowheart and Karlach, there isn’t enough gold to resurrect both companions (200 gold each), so Tavi welcomes halfling violinist bard Brinna Brightsong back into the party, and hires a barbarian dwarf named Eldra for a measly 100 gold. Oblivious to the death of his companions, Astarion makes his move on Tavi, revealing an elaborate Infernal scar on his back, and acts cold and suspicious afterward. Vampires, am I right? The new, bard-and-cannon-fodder-heavy party of Tavi the bard, Brinna the bard, Eldra the barbarian, and Astarion the rogue return to the Emerald Grove to seek vengeance on the remaining four druids, and they triumph with relative ease for a change. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=8, Trysts=2, Bites=4, Gale=1, Revivifies=3, Resurrections=1, Reloads=4 (for Redo=1, TPK=3).

23. Ransacking The Emerald Grove. 58:55. Saturday, 12 August. A non-combat episode. Everyone in the Grove is dead now, which isn’t quite how I envisioned things playing out. After the battle, Tavi interrogates drow, tiefling, and druid corpses littering the Emerald Grove, and the party reads a lot of books and notes, and picks up as much loot as they can carry, including some nice stuff from the two vendor corpses. Unfortunately every vendor I knew about is dead now, so there’s nowhere to sell any of the loot, and there still isn’t enough gold to resurrect any dead companions. In the end, the party finds a stone on a druid corpse that unlocks a secret spiral staircase in the Enclave Library. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=8, Trysts=2, Bites=4, Gale=1, Revivifies=3, Resurrections=1, Reloads=4 (for Redo=1, TPK=3).

24. Singing in the Secluded Cove. 1:08:35. Saturday, 12 August. The spiral staircase in the Enclave Library leads to a Hidden Vault and a magic glaive named Sorrow. Finished with stripping the Emerald Grove of all valuables, the party finds an undiscovered path east from the Grove and stumbles on a Secluded Cove and a nest of harpies luring a kid to his death. The kid is saved, and disappears back to the Grove where he will undoubtedly experience the horror of finding every single one of his friends and family hacked to death, but not before Astarion dies again and has to be revivified (his second). Back at camp, that old romantic Lae’zel is restless for another taste of Tavi. Meanwhile, Shadowheart’s and Karlach’s corpses lay sprawled out in camp, gathering flies, still awaiting resurrection. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=9, Trysts=3, Bites=4, Gale=1, Revivifies=4, Resurrections=1, Reloads=4 (for Redo=1, TPK=3).

25. Scavenging the Blighted Village. 52:11. Sunday, 13 August. A non-combat episode. The next morning, Brinna Brightsong, the duel-wielding violinist bard, stays in camp while Tavi the Lightfoot Bard, Astarion the Rogue Vampire, Gale the Wizard of Waterdeep, and Eldra Lutherin the Hireling Fodder Barbarian return to The Blighted Village to scavenge for the 400 gold necessary to resurrect Shadowheart and Karlach. Their corpses are starting to stink in camp. Gale weakens from needing another magic artifact, but Tavi persuades him to hold out without one. The party rescues gnome Barcus Wroot from some goblin bullies at a windmill without bloodshed, netting enough gold to bring Shadowheart back, but she won’t talk to anyone (it wasn’t clear if it was a bug or for story reasons). Gale is kicked out to deal with magic withdrawal in camp, and Lae’zel the Githyanki Fighter takes his place. Wyll the noble sorcerer, now with devil horns, replaces Eldra the barbarian. The party investigates a well and discovers an underground cave. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=9, Trysts=3, Bites=4, Gale=1, Revivifies=4, Resurrections=2, Reloads=4 (for Redo=1, TPK=3).

26. Webs of the Whispering Depths. 58:58. Sunday, 13 August. At the bottom of the well in the Blighted Village lies the Whispering Depths, a cave full of spiderwebs and, you guessed it, spiders. Tavi, Astarion, Wyll, and Lae’zel nervously fight two level 3 Ettercaps and two level 3 Phase Spiders, hoping nobody dies and needs another 200 gold resurrection. (The whole reason they’re down there is to find 200 gold to resurrect Karlach.) Exploring further, they find a note suggesting the gemstone that fits the Necromancy of Thay book might be in the caves, but then they spot the level 5 Phase Spider Matriarch, back away rather rapidly, and leave with enough gold to resurrect Karlach and return another day. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=9, Trysts=3, Bites=4, Gale=1, Revivifies=4, Resurrections=3, Reloads=4 (for Redo=1, TPK=3).

27. Party at the Goblin Camp. 59:48. Sunday, 13 August. A non-combat episode. Gruesome murder overnight in camp! I won’t give away who it was but let’s just say Shadowheart is talking again and a certain githyanki warrior won’t be getting a silver sword one day. Tavi the Bongo Bard (now using a lute actually), Shadowheart the Shar Justiciar-in-training, Astarion the Rogue Vampire, and Karlach the Dancing Barbarian finally head west to the Goblin Camp. There’s a goblin party going on, Volo the bard is held prisoner, and a large ogre won’t let us into the Moonlit Tower to find the (presumably last living) Druid Halsin and the Goblin Priestess, who are supposed to help with removing the mindflayer tadpoles. The party plans to sneak into the goblin stronghold because what could go wrong, surrounded by a camp full of dozens of level 1 goblins. Things went so well with the druids. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=10, Trysts=3, Bites=4, Gale=1, Revivifies=4, Resurrections=3, Reloads=4 (for Redo=1, TPK=3).

28. Priestess Gut in the Shattered Sanctum. 58:08. Sunday, 13 August. The party handily dispatches some drunk, sleeping goblins on the terrace overlooking the big goblin party, but fortunately nobody 10 feet below heard the screams or explosions. They make it into the Shattered Sanctum to ask Priestess Gut to remove the mindflayer tadpoles. Tavi impulsively tries to embrace the Absolute instead of the Dream Guardian, but things go awry when Priestess Gut turns out not to be the trustworthy kind of evil goblin priestess. Tavi ends up alone in chains, but an agent of Raphael named Korilla rescues her, then disappears, leaving Tavi alone, split from the party. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=10, Trysts=3, Bites=4, Gale=1, Revivifies=4, Resurrections=3, Reloads=5 (for Bug=1, Redo=1, TPK=3).

29. Priestess Gut Conversation Replay. 04:58. Sunday, 13 August. After the game bugged out and some random halfling vendor dude and his two guards attacked me for no reason, I had to replay a scene with Priestess Gut. To maintain some semblence of narrative flow, and not bore myself to death with repeated content, I cut it out.

30. Underground Adventures with Scratch. 54:46. Monday, 14 August. A non-combat episode. Tavi the Bongo Bard, recently saved from certain death by Rapheal’s agent, finds herself having to make her way back to the party alone (with Scratch), but she gets distracted exploring a Defiled Temple and solving a puzzle, which unlocks stairs down to something apparently called the Nightsong. On the way back to the party, she finds a room packed with explosive barrels and gets an idea to orchestrate what turns out to be an entirely unnecessary attack against the goblins. A large part of the latter half of this video involves sneaking out of sight for no reason and moving barrels around. (I somehow overlooked the fact that none of the goblins were actually hostile.) Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=10, Trysts=3, Bites=4, Gale=1, Revivifies=4, Resurrections=3, Reloads=5 (for Bug=1, Redo=1, TPK=3).

31. Amateur Surgery With Volo. 1:15:53. Monday, 14 August. After strategic placement of some smokepowder barrels behind a door, the party starts an impressive assault with a massive explosion that kills two guards instantly. Yet another vendor in the game is killed unnecessarily, but drops an fantastic great axe for Karlach, and the goblins stand little chance, possibly the first overwhelming combat victory in this playthrough. All done for nothing, because I failed to notice the goblins were yellow, not red. Liam and Volo the Bard are rescued. Gale consumes a second magic item, but it doesn’t satisfy him. The next morning at camp, Volo attempts eye surgery to remove Tavi’s parasite with an ice pick, which is surprisingly beneficial. The game went way over the top to graphically show and describe the gruesome birth of a gnoll out of a hyena, but is mercifually squeamish when it comes to eyeballs. Meanwhile, Lae’zel’s corpse remains festering on the ground in camp, a reminder of Shadowheart’s … um, dark heart. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=11, Trysts=3, Bites=5, Gale=1, Revivifies=4, Resurrections=3, Reloads=5 (for Bug=1, Redo=1, TPK=3).

32. Bear With Us, Druid Halsin. 1:20:06. Tuesday, 15 August. While the party watches on, Tavi enjoys a little light punishment from Abdirak at the Bloodied Shrine, all for the love of Loviatar, the goddess of pain. The party definitely doesn’t kill one or more goblin children while rescuing wild-shaped Druid Halsin from a cage in the Worg Pens. Halsin is very worried about saving his Grove. (Psst! Nobody tell him every living soul is already dead at the Grove.) Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=11, Trysts=3, Bites=5, Gale=1, Revivifies=4, Resurrections=3, Reloads=5 (for Bug=1, Redo=1, TPK=3).

33. Nightwarden Minthara. 1:11:38. Wednesday, 16 August. Hotfix #4 4.1.1.3645567. The party approaches Nightwarden Minthara, the second of the three goblin leaders that Druid Halsin wants us to kill to protect his Grove from the goblins (the first was Priestess Gut, who was killed for us by Raphael’s agent). After a brief conversation with her, battle plans are drawn up. The fighting goes poorly when Karlach is downed by the drow in a single turn, leading to an immediate declaration of retreat. Almost all of the party escapes back into the Worg Pens, but a heartless goblin kicks Karlach into a chasm at the last minute. Luckily there’s enough gold to resurrect her. At camp, the Dream Guardian visits and explains that the Absolute is enchanting the mindflayer tadpoles, and she needs Tavi to find and destroy the source of the evil magic, for unexplained and ambiguous reasons but probably to save the world or something. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=12, Trysts=3, Bites=6, Gale=1, Revivifies=4, Resurrections=4, Reloads=5 (for Bug=1, Redo=1, TPK=3).

34. Missing True Resurrection Scroll. 09:00. Wednesday, 16 August. Boring inventory management. Unable to find my True Resurrection scroll. Swapping in Gale to search his inventory, which leads to a couple of new conversations about the Dream Guardian, but they were essentially the same conversations that we had with others companions. “The dream visitor wanted us to use the tadpole powers to ensure the story is railroaded while fooling us into thinking we have player agency, blah, blah.”

35. Nightwarden Minthara, The Revenge. 37:09. Wednesday, 16 August. A short one, but I had to split it from the next video, which was too long. After a long rest, the party seeks the assistance of the level 5 Druid Halsin before returning to face the level 6 Nightwarden Minthara again. All conversational options are off the table as combat breaks out immediately. This time, things go the party’s way with relative ease, and not even the Scrying Eye can keep them from victory (although the Scrying Eye tried really hard by being impossible to hit or damage). Two goblin leaders down, one to go. After only a short rest, it’s on to the next one, just next door. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=12, Trysts=3, Bites=6, Gale=1, Revivifies=4, Resurrections=4, Reloads=5 (for Bug=1, Redo=1, TPK=3).

36. Dror Ragzlin and the Pit of Spiders. 1:15:33. Wednesday, 16 August. Immediately following the takedown of Nightwarden Minthara, the party, along with Druid Halsin, takes on Dror Ragzlin and his goblin buddies in the room next door. It’s dicey, but the party emerges victorious, thanks to an assist from the giant spiders in the pit below. This time it was Astarion who succumbed to a kick into a bottomless chasm and instant death, but there’s still just enough gold to resurrect him afterward. Loot abounds for everyone, and Druid Halsin is grateful that his Grove will no longer be threatened by goblins. (He doesn’t yet know everyone except one kid in his precious Grove is dead.) He’ll meet us in camp and help us out when we get to the Moonlit Towers, wherever and whatever that is. https://endgameviable.com/gaming/2023/08/dror-ragzlin-baldurs-gate-3/ Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=12, Trysts=3, Bites=6, Gale=1, Revivifies=4, Resurrections=5, Reloads=5 (for Bug=1, Redo=1, TPK=3).

37. Found True Resurrection Scroll. 07:36. Thursday, 17 August. Boring inventory management, and finally finding the missing True Resurrection scroll, which, it turns out, cannot be used on murder victim Laa’zel’s corpse, which still gathers flies in camp. Missed opportunity for a dramatic post-death confrontation between two characters. The murder victim confronting their murderer for a rematch is a story twist you can only achieve in a D&D death-is-meaningless universe.

38. A Look at the Underdark. 51:24. Thursday, 17 August. A non-combat episode. In camp, items are disappearing and Druid Halsin has also disappeared to wherever druids go when the game bugs out or maybe it’s intentional, who even knows any more. In any case, the party has some down time after a long string of fights in the Shattered Sanctum. Unfortunately, all the goblins are hostile now that a single one got to a stray war drum in the Dror Ragzlin battle. The party sneaks down to the puzzle door that Tavi opened by herself, and explores a Selunite Outpost deep underground, guarding an entrance to the vast cavern expanse of the Underdark. The Nightsong, whoever or whatever that is, cannot be found, and the party turns back because there are petrified drow statues ahead and nobody wants to see whatever turned them to stone. Luckily they can teleport out of the Goblin Camp without having to fight anyone. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=13, Trysts=3, Bites=7, Gale=2, Murders=1, Revivifies=4, Resurrections=5, Reloads=5 (for Bug=1, Redo=1, TPK=3).

39. The Secret Zhentarim Basement. 58:38. Friday, 18 August. The party tries to find the githyanki creche at the Mountain Pass, but upon reaching the edge of the map, the game tells us we ought not go that way. Returning to the Waukeen’s Rest, the party finds a secret entrance down to the Zhentarim Basement, where their leader Zarys is looking for a Missing Shipment. The party returns to the scene of gnolls laying siege to a pair of couriers holed up in a cave with the shipment. Karlach uses her illithid powers to convince Flind the Gnoll Warlord to turn on his own group, and then tries to convince him to turn on himself. To be continued. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=13, Trysts=3, Bites=7, Gale=2, Murders=1, Revivifies=4, Resurrections=5, Reloads=5 (for Bug=1, Redo=1, TPK=3).

40. The Gnoll Warlord and The Missing Shipment. 47:46. Friday, 18 August. Karlach fails to tame Flind the Gnoll Warlord, so the party has to take him down before the shipment can be returned to the Zhentarim Basement. Resting afterward in camp, Gale needs another magic item fix (the third), and reveals more of his Secret Backstory(tm). He’s got a Netherin magic orb in his chest because of a falling out with Mystra, the Goddess of Magic. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=14, Trysts=3, Bites=7, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=4, Resurrections=5, Reloads=5 (for Bug=1, Redo=1, TPK=3).

41. Karlach's Infernal Revenge. 1:01:29. Saturday, 19 August. The party helps Karlach deal with the Paladin of Tyr, which goes a lot better than it did when we first met him a million videos ago at level 3. This time, Mister Anders died before he had a single attack! The other two were a little more of a nuisence, though. Karlach displays an impressive amount of fiery rage. We learn more about her Secret Backstory(tm). She’s the “can’t get close to people because of a curse” archetypal fantasy story trope, so we have to find a mechanic to fix her broken infernal engine. (Unfortunately the only mechanic we knew died in the Grove Massacre.) Now infatuated with the unattainable Karlach, Tavi does not ask for a vampire bite from Astarion for the second camp in a row, because she’s given up on getting turned into a vampire. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=15, Trysts=3, Bites=7, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=4, Resurrections=5, Reloads=5 (for Bug=1, Redo=1, TPK=3).

42. Spider Matron and the Cursed Book. 1:19:14. Saturday, 19 August. The party returns to the Whispering Depths to deal with the loose end of the Phase Spider Matron, which is a tense fight in which Karlach dies and needs a revivification. Afterward, they find the gemstone to unlock the Necromancy of Thay cursed book, and at camp, Astarion eagerly unlocks it and reads it. However, some force is still protecting its secrets. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=16, Trysts=3, Bites=7, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=5, Resurrections=5, Reloads=5 (for Bug=1, Redo=1, TPK=3).

43. Changing The Party. 13:44. Saturday, 19 August. I impulsively decided to change the party lineup from one that was working well to something different just for fun. Tavi, Karlach, Astarion, and Shadowheart were replaced with Tavi, Wyll, Gale, and Shadowheart, and I needed to sift through the equipment stores and make sure the new people had decent gear. It’s a lenghthy and boring process to do these things in BG3.

44. Underdark Catastrophe to Forget. 31:57. Saturday, 19 August. With a new lineup of Tavi the Bongo Bard, Wyll the Alcoholic Warlock, Gale the Wizard of Waterdeep, and Shadowheart the Dark Justicier-in-training, a change just for fun, and soaring with confidence after a decisive victory over the Phase Spider Matron, the party goes to check out the petrified statues in the Underdark. The game had been hinting strongly that it would be dangerous and I’d likely encounter a Spectator, something I assumed (correctly) would something like a Beholder, but it was the only place I could think of to go next. It was a tremendous mistake, as the Spectactor essentially wiped out any chance of fighting back in the first surprise round, downing Gale instantly. Tavi was the only survivor, and only had enough funds to resurrect Gale and Shadowheart back in camp (thanks to yet another game bug where Withers will happily take your money to resurrect two people during the dialogs but actually only resurrect one of them afterward). Then I learned a crucial UI lesson that you don’t actually have to pay Withers to resurrect people; you can just use Revivify scrolls on the corpses he brings back to camp for free. However, mistakenly using the True Resurrection scroll instead of a Revivify scroll convinced me to just reload and forget any of this disastrous attempt at a new party lineup in the Underdark ever happened. Scorecard: Level=4, Camps=16, Trysts=3, Bites=7, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=5, Resurrections=5, Reloads=6 (for Bug=1, Redo=2, TPK=3).

45. The Road to Level 5. 1:09:42. Saturday, 19 August. A series of relatively uneventful and uninspiring loose ends culminating in finally leveling up to 5th level. The forgotten trap door in the house of the Paladin of Tyr, which leads to a storeroom bursting with traps but little content. Karlach explains that infernal coins can be used to power up her infernal engine in a fight. An unexplored area in the Putrid Bog, which is mostly empty. Desperate for the measly 51 xp required to reach level five, the party finally strides boldly up to the first Goblin Guardhouse and slaughters them all, and finally reaches the next level, and the coveted second barbarian attack per round. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=16, Trysts=3, Bites=7, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=5, Resurrections=5, Reloads=6 (for Bug=1, Redo=2, TPK=3).

46. Preparations for the Underdark. 25:38. Saturday, 19 August. A non-combat episode. At the Mountain Pass, the game is allowing us to proceed to the next Act at level 5, however I got worried I might miss out on something because the game is so vague and scary with its “tie up any loose ends” warning. Nobody likes to leave things unfinished in RPGs, guys, and nobody’s got time to play a hundred-hour RPG sixteen different times to see everything. I got the idea I should explore as much of the Underdark as I could because I might lose access to it in Act 2, so I went back there and poked around the Selunite Outpost again. Discovered the magic canons at the front door also shoot the party. Trying to find healing potions at a vendor. An uneventful camp. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=17, Trysts=3, Bites=7, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=5, Resurrections=5, Reloads=6 (for Bug=1, Redo=2, TPK=3).

47. Underdark Minotaurs. 1:10:26. Saturday, 19 August. A more sensible return to the Underdark. This time, the standard party (Tavi, Karlach, Astarion, and Shadowheart) figured out how to disable the magic cannons at the front door of the Selunite Outpost, and went through the portculis, in the opposite direction from the petrified statues and certain death. Tavi claims a magic glowing sword, and the party successfully dispatches a pair of Minotaurs. Then, Tavi gets separated from the group and has to explore a Zhentarim storeroom by herself. She finds an elevator to parts unknown, but unfortunately, thanks to accidentally burning up a rope ladder because the game inexplicably does not stop everyone’s movement when someone perceives a trap, they couldn’t use it because there was no way to get the party back together. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=17, Trysts=3, Bites=7, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=5, Resurrections=5, Reloads=6 (for Bug=1, Redo=2, TPK=3).

48. The Myconids of Ebonlake Grotto. 1:00:05. Sunday, 20 August. A non-combat episode. The party continues exploring areas of the Underdark that do not result in instantaneous death. They enter Ebonlake Grotto, a village of happy fungus people called mycanoids, asking for help exterminating hostile duergar nearby. Derryth wants to know where her missing husband went. Grymforge gnome survivor and runaway slave Thull also asks for help saving her people from the very same duergar, and gives us a pair of boots. Another Us versus Them situation, which will hopefully turn out better than the Grove Massacre. Shadowheart questions her faith in Shar, wondering if suffering the pain from her secret wound actually hurts the party. Also, a friendly mindflayer explains there might be a fungus concoction that could help with the tadpole infestation, and the party restocks on healing potions from not one, but two friendly vendors. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=17, Trysts=3, Bites=7, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=5, Resurrections=5, Reloads=6 (for Bug=1, Redo=2, TPK=3).

49. Filro's Hook Horrors. 1:25:58. Sunday, 20 August. The party first locates Derryth’s missing husband Baelen, only to watch helplessly as he explodes in a fiery apocalypse. Whoopsie! Then the party tries to clear out some hook horrors around a Sussur Tree. Things start well until Filro the Forgotten–a very pesky wizard–and more hook horror reinforcements show up to ruin everyone’s day, at the same time that Shadowheart succumbs to madness from using Yeenoghu’s flail. A TPK and a painfully old reload is almost certain, but Astarion manages to flee, while everyone else dies on the battlefield. Karlach and Shadowheart are revivified back in camp, but for some unknown reason Withers won’t recall Tavi’s body (bug? intentional?), so Astarion has to return to the battlefield for a desperation hail mary attempt to revivify Tavi while dodging the murderous claws of the two remaining hook horrors. It works. Tavi makes it back to camp with 1 hit point after using an invisibility potion and gratefully allows Astarion to bite her again. Only then does the party realize they don’t have enough camp supplies, so while a long rest was technically taken, it didn’t have the full effect. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=18, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=8, Resurrections=5, Reloads=6 (for Bug=1, Redo=2, TPK=3).

50. Hook Horror Revenge. 56:47. Sunday, 20 August. Shadowheart ditches the maddening Yeenoghu flail, and with only a minimal rest without camp supplies, the party gambles and returns to the Sussur Tree to finish off the last two hook horrors, and luckily, it works out. With sussur bark in hand, the party is able to craft a master weapon back at the forge in the Blighted Village: A Sussur Greatsword, which is nowhere near as great as the Blooded Greataxe that Karlach was already using, but it has a Silence effect that might be good for fighting casters. Then the party scrounges for camp supplies and manages to find enough to pull off a full long rest. Ah. Also, adventures in pickpocketing Withers. Returning to the Underdark to venture to the Duergar camp, the party stops before an ominous autosave and a tombstone. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=19, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=8, Resurrections=5, Reloads=6 (for Bug=1, Redo=2, TPK=3).

51. Bulette to the Decrepit Village. 55:52. Sunday, 20 August. At the mysterious tombstone, the party faces the long-foreshadowed bulette encounter, who explodes out of the ground. Then, the party enters the Decrepit Village, a beach town, where Gekh Coal leads a group of duergar slave-hunters looking for a runaway gnome and a pair of boots. We know the gnome from the Myconid village and have the boots, but refuse to hand them over (who would hand over Boots of Speed?!?) There’s very little moral ambiguity about which side to help in a conflict between angry slave traders and happy fungus people, so the party considers a plan of attack. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=19, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=8, Resurrections=5, Reloads=6 (for Bug=1, Redo=2, TPK=3).

52. Gekh Coal, I Smite Thee. 1:25:02. Sunday, 20 August. The party leaps into action (from hiding, that is) and attacks Gekh Coal and his slave traders in the Decrepit Village. The game warned I might be overmatched by this level 7 boss and the first enemy that can counterspell, but pssht, Karlach has two attacks and a new Branding Smite. There were some tense moments, as Gekh Coal summoned an army of undead helpers, blinded Shadowheart, turned invisible, and teleported all around the battlefield, but the party came through it without casualties, thanks largely to Karlach’s absolutely monstrous damage potential. The party returns to the Myconids to collect their rich rewards, and learns more about the Adamantine Forge from the corpse of the wizard who summoned that pesky Spectator back near the Selunite Outpost. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=19, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=8, Resurrections=5, Reloads=6 (for Bug=1, Redo=2, TPK=3).

53. Spectator Rematch. 1:22:40. Monday, 21 August. I had some ideas for dealing with the Spectator, so I made a change to the party lineup and spent an inordinate amount of time preparing after a long rest (using up the last of the camp supplies yet again). With Tavi the Bongo Bard, Karlach the Dancing Barbarian, Shadowheart the Dark Justiciar-in-training, and welcoming returning companion Gale the Nuclear Wizard from Waterdeep, the party set out to fight the Spectator, hoping a different outcome would occur at level 5. It did. The party delivered a decisive victory, blinding and cursing the Spectator, and breaking its charm on each unpetrified drow to gain new allies every turn. Unfortunately Dhoure, the wizard who may have helped find the much-talked-about Adamantine Forge, was melted into goo. It opened a new Underdark path to explore in the direction of something marked on the map as an Arcane Tower. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=20, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=8, Resurrections=5, Reloads=6 (for Bug=1, Redo=2, TPK=3).

54. Across the Water to Grymforge. 1:17:10. Tuesday, 22 August. The Arcane Tower seemed to be protected by some scary magic cannons. It looked like a certain trip to Act 2, but then I remembered there was a boat in the Decrepit Village, so the party jumped on and travelled to Grymforge, where the duergar slave traders hang out talking about how great slaves are and kicking deep gnome corpses into the water. There’s a True Soul named Nere trapped under some rubble, whose head we’re supposed to return to the Myconids. Anyway, in a side passage, the party helped some duergar convince stubbon oxen to clear a passage to the Adamantine Forge, but then they turned on us (the duergar, not the oxen), and we had to kill them. The party scrapes together enough camp supplies for a long rest and talks about whether or not to save Nere. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=21, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=8, Resurrections=5, Reloads=6 (for Bug=1, Redo=2, TPK=3).

55. Through the Jelly to the Hiding Spot. 1:09:44. Wednesday, 23 August. I didn’t feel prepared for the Adamantine Forge, where we’ve been told there’s a scary fire guardian, so, after a long rest, the party explored other areas of Grymforge, keeping the new lineup of Tavi, Karlach, Shadowheart, and Gale. (Now that Gale has Counterspell and Fly, he seems like less of a liability, but I sure miss Astarion’s movement and sneak attack damage.) The party looks in on the cave-in where True Soul Nere is trapped, and the deep gnome slaves that Thull asked us to rescue. Explosives are needed to clear the cave-in, so the party searches for Philomeen’s Hiding Spot, where she has what we need. Three surprisingly hard-hitting ochre jellies blocked our passage, and Tavi spent most of the fight unconscious, going down 3 times. In the end, Philomeen won’t hand over a whole barrel of the powerful and expensive runepowder, but she gives us a vial before disappearing. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=21, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=8, Resurrections=5, Reloads=6 (for Bug=1, Redo=2, TPK=3).

56. Failing The Kobayashi Maru Test. 1:04:19. Thursday, 24 August. Nothing can go wrong if we pop back over to the Grymforge cave-in, blast away the rubble, and free True Soul Nere, right? We’ll just make some persuasion rolls and everyone will walk away safe and happy. Alas, nope. All dialog choices lead to death, death, and more death, with no possibility for persuasion rolls or even fleeing. The most outmatched the party has ever been, and the biggest combat disaster of this playthrough so far, leading to many reloads. We’ll have to come back to this later with a much better plan, because being surrounded by ten level 5 enemies with multiple attacks and spells per turn is definitely a no-win situation at level 5 without a long rest on Tactician difficulty. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=21, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=8, Resurrections=5, Reloads=10 (for Bug=1, Redo=3, TPK=6).

57. Failed Again. 41:26. Friday, 25 August. Patch #1 4.1.3669438. (Hey, Shadowheart’s duplicate finally looks like Shadowheart.) I had an idea that dealing with the duergar at the cave-in might work better if I snuck up on them and attacked them from a perimeter, perhaps killing a few at a time, before clearing the cave-in and letting Nere out. It did work better, but not nearly better enough, as attacking any single duergar pulled the entire room, and the party still died. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=21, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=8, Resurrections=5, Reloads=11 (for Bug=1, Redo=3, TPK=7).

58. Journey to the Ancient Forge. 56:35. Friday, 25 August. Finally abandoning the cave-in as a lost cause, the party explores a long, overly-complicated passage of traps, jumps, and levers that leads to the Ancient Forge, and unlocks another fast travel sigil. It’s a bit of a tedious slog because this game engine isn’t designed for traversal or jumping puzzles but they put them in anyway for some reason. Gale’s new Fly spell makes its first appearance. Four Animated Armors are dispatched, restoring the party’s confidence that they actually can still win a fight on Tactician difficulty. Finally taking a long rest, the journal tells us that Nere didn’t survive the cave-in. What will happen to the gnomes we’re supposed to rescue? Incidentally, night life in camp remains quite dull because there have been no developments in companion stories for quite some time. Presumeably everyone is waiting for Act 2 before resuming the juicy companion soap operas. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=22, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=8, Resurrections=5, Reloads=11 (for Bug=1, Redo=3, TPK=7).

59. Saying Goodbye to Grymforge. 39:20. Saturday, 26 August. A non-combat episode. After a long rest, the party descends to the Adamantine Forge and finds … a forge, that apparently makes stuff, but I don’t know how to do that or why I’d want to and can’t be bothered to learn. Maybe we’ll come back later. The party returns to the site of the Grymforge cave-in, where the annoying duergar and the deep gnome slaves we were supposed to rescue are sadly gone, disappeared to parts unknown. True Soul Nere didn’t survive the cave-in, and he’s dead on the floor where he belongs. The party takes his parasite sample and his head back to the Myconids for a frankly disappointing reward. Then it’s finally time to stock up on healing potions and head to the Mountain Pass to start Act 2. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=22, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=8, Resurrections=5, Reloads=11 (for Bug=1, Redo=3, TPK=7).

60. The Mountain Pass. 1:03:13. Saturday, 26 August. Tavi, Karlach, Shadowheart, and Gale enter the Mountain Pass leading to Act 2 and arrive at a somewhat anticlimatic Rosemorn Monastery Trail and a fork in the road. The party chooses left, and walks directly into undead Death Shepherds accompanied by a Ghast and a horde of Ghouls. Things were going okay until Karlach was paralyzed by the Ghast, went down, and then the Death Shepherds started bringing the dead undead back to unlife. Tavi and Gale technically succeeded in fleeing, but when all the enemies get returned to life, you’ve lost all your progress anyway and you might as well reload. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=22, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=8, Resurrections=5, Reloads=12 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=7).

61. Aw Look at the Cute Gremishkas. 1:07:34. Saturday, 26 August. After reloading, the party goes right at the fork in the road to avoid certain undead death. After a chat with delightfully cheerful would-be githyanki egg-stealer Lady Esther, the party takes the scenic route across the gorge, and promises a Blue Jay they’ll deal with some eagles. Then they arrive at Rosemorn Monastery, where there are no NPCs, just a lot of red dots on the minimap. The party avoids the Kobolds on the first floor by entering on the second floor, only to discover a nest of cute little level 1 Gremishkas. The little furballs attack, and they turn into monstrous little buggers anytime magic is used near them, including heals. The combat goes badly, and this writer starts to get annoyed at how Act 2 is starting out potentially with two unwinnable TPKs in a row. Karlach dies, but the party barely survives after Gale is forced to throw out desperation third-level AoE Shatter spells. The tide turns after a clutch Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, and a clutch buff-and-shove sends another sailing off a cliff, and an impossible victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=22, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=9, Resurrections=5, Reloads=12 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=7).

62. Exploring Rosymorn Monastery. 1:05:14. Saturday, 26 August. After nearly dying to Gremishkas, the party continues to explore the upper floors of Rosymorn Monastery with just a short rest. The ruins are absolutely infested with enemies. The party continues to avoid the Kobold looters on the first floor (turns out they are level 5, not the low-level nothings I thought kobolds were). Then they run into a pair of Githyanki Warriors accosting somebody named Corliss at a door. Tavi tries to help with a Cutting Words reaction, but poor Corliss dies. After dispatching the githyanki, we learn from Corliss’s corpse that he was a True Soul on his way to the Moonlit Towers, where all True Souls of the Absolute are gathering. (Those are the bad guys.) Then, the party discovers a big magic cannon of the roof of the monastery, protected by a pair of grumpy Ancient Eagles, who have to be dispatched in another brief fight, much to the delight of the Blue Jay. We don’t know how to use the cannon, but one can’t help but wonder if it might be useful against the githyanki’s big red dragon pet. The party takes a well-deserved long rest in camp, where exactly nothing happens with companion stories. Disappointing. My playthrough is way more combat than story. Luckily for Larian Studios, the combat is still fun. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=23, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=8, Resurrections=5, Reloads=12 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=7).

63. The Githyanki Creche and The Zaith'isk. 1:20:09. Sunday, 27 August. A non-combat episode. The party enters the Githyanki Creche, which, it turns out, is in the Rosymorn Monastery. Who knew? It’s full of githyanki training for githyanki business. If only Lae’zel were still alive to see it. It turns out Shadowheart is afraid of wolves. The githyanki are still looking for Shadowheart’s artefact, but we don’t hand it over. Some githyanki kid named Varll is bullied by his teacher and fellow students and dies. In the Infirmary, the party meets Ghustil Stornugoss, who offers to try to remove the illithid tadpoles with a Zaith’isk machine. It doesn’t work, Tavi barely escapes with her life, and the machine breaks. Stornugoss is furious, locks us in the room, and leaves. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=23, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=8, Resurrections=5, Reloads=12 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=7).

64. Oops We Broke Ghustil Stornugoss's Toy. 1:05:30. Sunday, 27 August. When the party attempts to leave the locked Infirmary, they’re attacked by Ghustil Stornugoss and everyone else nearby. It’s a close battle. The githyanki are no joke and there was even a pesky gremishki pulled into the fight from the other room. Tavi went down immediately and never got back up again, and both Tavi and Shadowheart required revivification after it was over. Karlach was the only one left standing at the end, thanks to the timely purchase of superior healing potions at the githyanki quartermaster just before. Thankfully, the rest of the githyanki in the Creche don’t want to attack the party, and they find the githyanki egg hatchery, but they don’t try to take any eggs for Lady Esther because that’s horrible. The party takes a long rest afterward, and, you guessed it, nothing happens in camp. Scorecard: Level=5, Camps=24, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=12 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=7).

65. Leaving Rosymorn Monastery at Level 6. 1:16:11. Sunday, 27 August. The party reaches level 6, then deals with the Kobold looters, the only remaining enemies in the Rosymorn Monastery. It’s a bloodbath–a veritable war crime committed against those poor, drunk kobolds. Karlach leaped from kobold to kobold dispatching almost all of them with one hit each, while Shadowheart blocked the entrance, allowing Tavi and Gale to fire shots into the room with complete impunity. A ceremonial mace is recovered and added to the mysterious puzzle upstairs, leaving two of the four slots left to fill. The party returns to Lady Esther, tells her off for trying to steal githyanki eggs, then has to kill her. Cool vendor loot is recovered from her corpse, then the party takes another long rest, even though they didn’t really need one, but two party members said they were tired. No further conversations in camp. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=25, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=12 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=7).

66. Death Shepherds Attempt 2. 52:26. Monday, 28 August. With Rosymorn Monastery fully explored, the party needs to get past those Death Shepherds on the road to proceed to the rest of the game. The second try was close, but no cigar. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=25, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=13 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=8).

67. Death Shepherds Attempt 3. 1:33:51. Monday, 28 August. With Rosymorn Monastery fully explored, the party needs to get past those Death Shepherds on the road to proceed to the rest of the game. The third try had thrills, chills, spills, fireballs and fog clouds, polymorphs, banishments, near-deaths, paralysis and nausea galore. It was a lengthy, adrenaline-fueled, back-and-forth thrill ride that ended in victory and, miraculously, nobody died. https://endgameviable.com/gaming/2023/08/death-shepherds-baldurs-gate-3/ Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=25, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=13 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=8).

68. Elminster and Gale. 41:10. Monday, 28 August. A non-combat episode. The party is just short of supplies needed for a long rest, so has to scrounge around some vendors to find some. Then they decide to just keep going anyway. Beyond the Death Shepherds blocking the road, the party runs into Elminster. He’s from the first Baldur’s Gate game! Anyway, he delivers an message for Gale from Mystra. Mystra will forgive him if he uses the nuclear magic bomb inside him to destroy the Absolute for her. It’s the talk of the camp when the party finally does a long rest. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=26, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=13 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=8).

69. Shadow-Cursed Lands. 1:27:07. Tuesday, 29 August. The party enters the Shadow-Cursed Lands and The Real Act 2. A friendly goblin greeter explains that we need to have a torch handy at all times to remain safe from the shadows. A short walk down a hill leads to a small gathering of goblins and orcs awaiting a True Soul, so they can escort them to Moonrise Towers. But Minthara’s Spider Lyre (from one of the dead goblin leaders) is needed to summon the escort, which we left back in camp. Meanwhile, an abused hyena is set free. Exploring a nearby tower, the party is attacked by some Shadow-Cursed Vine Blights protecting a chest. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=26, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=13 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=8).

70. Drider Convoy to Moonrise Tower. 56:13. Tuesday, 29 August. The Spider Lyre summons a spooky drider, who leads a convoy of goblins, orcs, and the party through the Shadow-Cursed Lands to the Moonrise Tower, using his magic Moonlantern to keep the shadows at bay. Along the way, the Harpers ambush the convoy, which was easy to fight off because the evil goblins, orcs, and drider did most of the work. A chest proves difficult to get to. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=26, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=13 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=8).

71. Climbing boxes to get to a chest. 07:16. Tuesday, 29 August. There was a locked chest up on a shelf that I spent a long time trying to figure out how to get the janky box-stacking mechanics to work so I could climb and/or jump up to get to it. This is that epic journey, which I cut out of the main video.

72. Touring Moonrise Tower. 1:11:25. Tuesday, 29 August. A non-combat episode. Touring the delightful sights and sounds of the Absolute’s headquarters, Moonrise Tower, where everyone accepts the party as True Soul disciples of the Absolute. Lann Tarv, who has infernal coins and guilt for Karlach. Araj Oblodra, who makes potions out of Tavi’s blood, and wants to meet Astarion for mysterious reasons. Steelclaw, the cat who plays with mindflayer tadpoles. Ketheric Thorm, who can’t die. Disciple Z’rell, who has a job for the party: Find someone named Balthazar and return his relic. We volunteer to help, because we’re here because the Dream Guardian wants us to infiltrate the cult and find the secret of how it’s using the mindflayer tadpoles. Also, Balthazar’s gruesome room and Moonlantern. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=26, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=13 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=8).

73. A Stroll Through Reithwin Tollhouse. 1:05:46. Wednesday, 30 August. The party heads north from the Moonrise Tower and encounters some Shadow-Cursed Harpers. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=27, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=13 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=8).

74. Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves. 1:09:48. Wednesday, 30 August. A non-combat episode. Unlocking a Sharran Sanctuary, and then the party enters what we must presume to be the Curse of Strahd section of the game, the House of Healing. The party encounters creepy Morbo Throm and his Sisters, and convinces him to let the Sisters conduct their final experiments on him, circumventing combat. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=27, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=13 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=8).

75. Gauntlet of Shar pt 1. 57:47. Wednesday, 30 August. A non-combat episode. After leaving the House of Healing, it’s time to head north toward the Mausoleum to find Balthazar. But first we have a chat with Raphael, who informs us we’re probably going to die, but if we don’t, he wants us to kill his old rival. He doesn’t tell us who it is, but we have to assume it’s Balthazar. (It’s not.) Entering the Graveyard, and then the Gauntlet of Shar, we find a road paved with tricks and traps. So, so many traps. So many traps it’s actually quite tedious to disarm them all. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=27, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=13 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=8).

76. Gauntlet of Shar pt 2. 54:30. Wednesday, 30 August. In the lower levels of the Gauntlet of Shar, the party runs into some level 7 Reconstituted Duelists, who want to chat. They tell us we’re ruining everything. Then a pack of level 7 undead Dark Justiciar Avengers, Soulhunters, and Nightweavers appear and attack, much to Shadowheart’s regret. It looks like the party might be outmatched at first, but Gale casts Haste on Karlach and she roflstomps them, killing four Justiciars in just two turns. Unfortunately all the would-be Reconstituted Duelist allies are killed in the melee. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=27, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=13 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=8).

77. Karlach Plays Shadow Tremor Pinball. 47:59. Thursday, 31 August. The party continues to explore the Gauntlet of Shar, which appears to be a massive area that will take quite a long time to explore. The party runs into another group of Reconstituted Duelists, and sure enough, another more level 7 Dark Justiciars soon attack. This time, the party understands that the Shadow Tremors will spawn more enemies, so Shadowheart throws a bunch of Guiding Bolts that do double damage (they are vulnerable to Radiant damage), and Gale casts another Haste on Karlach and she bounces around the room destroying them quickly with four attacks per round and doubled movement speed. The party only has to face two actual enemies, for an easy victory. It turns out the Reconstituted Duelists are agents of Balthazar, and he’s in the next room, and wants to talk. The party suspects a fight might break out, so they take a long rest first. Astarion frets about the infernal scar on his back, and just wants a friend. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=28, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=13 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=8).

78. Balthazar's Request. 56:11. Thursday, 31 August. Patch #2 4.1.1.3686210. Balthazar doesn’t want to fight after all. Instead, he tasks the party with finding the Relic he’s searching for, and he tells his massive flesh golem to help. The party explores the Gauntlet of Shar, and ends up in an area that looks like the Underdark, and they’re attacked by a level 8 Cloaker and three Phantoms. It’s a tricky encounter but the party survives more-or-less unscathed. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=28, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=13 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=8).

79. Self-Same Trial Failure. 1:08:16. Thursday, 31 August. The party starts doing the Trials in the Gauntlet of Shar. First, the Soft-Step Trial, which is easy as pie. Then, the Self-Same Trial, which is ridiculously hard and unfair. For some reason, every D&D game has to have an encounter where you fight copies of your own characters. This one makes it even harder by giving Mirror Gale unlimited Fireballs, and imposing a Curse if you attack anyone other than your own double. It’s a TPK, and I have to reload. (At this point, I’ve largely given up on the running-away strategy, because there aren’t enough camp supplies in the game for unlimited long rests.) Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=28, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=14 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=9).

80. Take Off All Your Clothes. 59:30. Thursday, 31 August. Instead of reloading to try the same fight again, I reload further back and try the classic how-to-fight-your-duplicates game strategy. I entered the Self-Same Trial with my characters not wearing any armor and not carrying any weapons. It worked. The mirrored duplicates were all naked and bare-handed. Then I put all my armor and weapons back on and slaughtered them. :) (Naked Mirror Gale still had unlimited Fireballs, though, even though I removed Fireball from Gale’s prepared spells.) Then I had to redo the Soft-Step Trial, which took longer because I forgot for the longest time that Tavi was a walking light source. Then the party completed the Faith-Leap Trial, which wasn’t even remotely challenging because, even without adjustments, my monitor was bright enough to see where to walk. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=28, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=14 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=9).

81. Full Soft-Step Trial Redux. 15:20. Thursday, 31 August. The Soft-Step Trial for the second time, complete and uncut, which features me not realizing that Tavi’s sword was a light source for the longest time, and wondering why it was so hard to remain hidden the second time when it was so easy the first time.

82. Silent Library and the Spear of Night. 1:20:59. Friday, 1 September. Shadowheart wanted to go back and complete all the Trials, so the party enters the Silent Library with only a short rest to fight a host of Dark Justiciars. The party survives. Afterwards, perhaps overcome by the beauty of Shar, Shadowheart stops in the middle of everything and promises to make some time for Tavi at camp. There’s a lot of traps to disarm and books to search. In the end, the party is beat up, three of them have exactly 1 hit point, they have no short rests remaining, and they don’t have enough camp supplies for a long rest. But Shadowheart has the Spear of Night and some cool new armor. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=28, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=14 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=9).

83. Yurgir Are You Kidding Me?. 1:07:54. Friday, 1 September. The party has to buy supplies to do a long rest. At camp, Karlach tells Tavi she really needs someone to tune up her infernal engine. Unfortunately the only mechanic I know of died in the Grove a long, long time ago. There’s no sign of Shadowheart, but Wyll wants to dance. Tavi spurns his sudden advances, as dramatically as possible. After resting, the party heads down the elevator to the end of the Gauntlet of Shar, only to discover they need four Umbral Gems, not three. The search is on for the fourth Umbral Gem. The search leads to … Google, because I can’t find the stupid thing. It turns out it’s way back at the beginning of the Gauntlet, in that one dead end I walked past and never returned to investigate. Typical. Unfortunately, the gem is protected by a Displacer Beast and an ambush by Raphael’s old enemy, level 10 (!) Yurgir. As if Yurgir’s insta-kill explosive bomb attack every round wasn’t enough, he turns invisible at will, and he has a horde of Merrigold… I mean, Merregon… buddies. And that Displacer Beast. Balthazar’s 250 hp Flesh Golem summon isn’t nearly enough. It’s a TPK with no possibility of winning. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=29, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=15 (for Bug=1, Redo=4, TPK=10).

84. Searching for another Umbral Gem. 18:21. Friday, 1 September. A non-combat episode. Cut for time, a bunch of wandering around the Gauntlet of Shar looking for a fourth Umbral Gem. In the end I had to Google where to find it. It was way back at the beginning of the Gauntlet. I walked past it right from the start.

85. Stealing the Umbral Gem. 1:04:56. Friday, 1 September. Four more attempts at level 10 Yurgir and his insta-kill mechanic, which is basically impossible for my party at level 6 on Tactician difficulty. Then I realized I might be able to steal it instead of fighting, and it worked. Praise be to Shar. Sorry, Raphael, your old enemy is going to live a while longer. The party returns to unlock the end of the Gauntlet. They find an entrance to the Shadowfell, where Shadowheart’s destiny awaits. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=29, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=20 (for Bug=1, Redo=5, TPK=14).

86. Balthazar in the Shadowfell is Ridonkulous. 48:25. Friday, 1 September. Despite another one of those vague and meaningless warnings to finish everything else first, the party enters the Shadowfell to fulfill Shadowheart’s destiny of becoming a Dark Justiciar. There, we find Balthazar and the Nightsong–an asimar named Aaylin–whose life powers General Thumb’s … I mean, General Thorm’s … immortality. She’s the relic that Balthazar is supposed to bring back to Moonrise Tower. Battle ensues. Fighting level 8 Balthazar at the Nightsong is just ridonkulous. He summons twenty undead to his side, which is plenty to kill the party just through numerical superiority, and then he casts a Cloudkill. Yeah, no thanks. We’re going to reload outside the Shadowfell and try something else. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=29, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=21 (for Bug=1, Redo=5, TPK=15).

87. Grym pt 1, or Just Stay In The Lava. 45:43. Friday, 1 September. I’m disappointed that entering the Shadowfell is apparently not an option for my party, so after a reload, the party returns to the Adamantine Forge to finish up that loose end. (It was one of the things that became unavailable after entering the Shadowfell.) Activating the Forge reveals the guardian that we were warned about, a big level 8 mechanical golem named Grym with 450 hit points. It’s essentially invulnerable except to bludgeoning damage. So Karlach and Shadowheart start beating on it with maces, and actually manage to get it down to half health, and it looks like everything is smooth sailing. Then Grym moves out of the lava, it loses the Superheated condition which is what gives it that bludgeoning weakness, and it’s a TPK, and it’s yet another ridonkulous encounter on Tactician difficulty, the third in a row, and I’m annoyed. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=29, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=10, Resurrections=5, Reloads=22 (for Bug=1, Redo=5, TPK=16).

88. Grym pt 2, or How to Save Scum. 1:44:09. Friday, 1 September. Disgusted with the game for being so frickin hard and unforgiving on Tactician difficulty, I give up and save scum my way through the Grym encounter (it takes 12 scummy reloads). Even after discovering I could stamp him with the forge itself, it still takes almost two hours to beat this bastard, and it’s a hollow and unsatisfying victory, and the rewards are pretty lame anyway. After this, I think I’m fully done with Tactician difficulty in this playthrough. I didn’t realize until now that the game actually gives the enemies bonuses for dice rolls and juices their AC too. I thought Tactician difficulty just added more enemies and used a smarter AI. But nope. It cheats too. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Also, Gale died and had to be revivified, but he doesn’t go nuclear when he dies anymore. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=29, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1, Revivifies=11, Resurrections=5, Reloads=34 (for Bug=1, Redo=5, TPK=16, Scum=12).

89. The Laughing Amulet. 39:09. Saturday, 2 September. (Balanced difficulty.) A non-combat episode. It’s a new era because I switched from Tactician difficulty to Balanced difficulty to save my sanity. The fights in the Gauntlet of Shar and the Adamantine Forge finally broke me. Anyway, while the party was at the Forge anyway, they went to find an amulet in the lava for a Cursed Monk, a quest I don’t even remember getting. (Another quest line that closed off after going to the Shadowfell, incidentally.) The party finds it in a chest guarded by a Fire Elemental, which the party sneaks around and doesn’t have to fight. The sentient amulet wants to be returned to someplace called Wrym’s Crossing, a place I’ve never heard of. I’m going to reset the combat stats on the scorecard. Scorecard: Level=6, Camps=29, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Balanced Revivifies=0, Resurrections=0, Reloads=0 (for Bug=0, Redo=0, TPK=0, Scum=0).

90. A Wraith on the Road (Level 7). 1:00:29. Saturday, 2 September. (Balanced difficulty.) Leaving Grymforge, the party returns to the Shadow-Cursed Lands to explore missed areas. The party battles a Wraith, 2 Shadows, and some Shadow-Cursed west of the House of Healing, on the road to a Morgue. It’s a challenging fight, but nowhere near as challenging as a Tactician difficulty fight, and the party controls the battlefield. The party wins handily, with no casualties. More importantly, the party reaches level 7! Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=29, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Balanced Revivifies=0, Resurrections=0, Reloads=0 (for Bug=0, Redo=0, TPK=0, Scum=0).

91. The Zombie Morgue pt 1, The Fighting. 58:02. Saturday, 2 September. (Balanced difficulty.) It only takes 40 camp supplies instead of 80 for a long rest on Balanced difficulty (wow), so the party is able to take a long rest. At camp, Gale wants Tavi to watch the stars with him because he’s afraid he’s going to die soon (Mystra tasked him with blowing himself up to destroy the Absolute). This ruins another chance for the promised alone time with Shadowheart. The party enters a Morgue filled with poison, three level 6 Zombies, and three level 6 Greater Zombies. The zombies are dispatched, but Tavi goes down a couple of times. Still, nobody died, and few resources were used up. I’m starting to wonder if I made things too easy with Balanced difficulty. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=30, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Balanced Revivifies=0, Resurrections=0, Reloads=0 (for Bug=0, Redo=0, TPK=0, Scum=0).

92. The Zombie Morgue pt 2, The Exploring. 34:32. Saturday, 2 September. (Balanced difficulty.) A non-combat episode. After finishing off the Zombies, the party investigates The Morgue, which proves to be a very annoying chore because of the lingering effects of poison gas that the AI grouping mechanics can’t understand. Some interesting reading about the curse of the Cursed Lands, and a new robe for Gale is found. And there’s a door that nobody can unlock. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=30, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Balanced Revivifies=0, Resurrections=0, Reloads=0 (for Bug=0, Redo=0, TPK=0, Scum=0).

93. Wandering the Shadow-Cursed Lands. 35:05. Saturday, 2 September. (Balanced difficulty.) A non-combat episode. The party wanders the Shadow Cursed Lands looking for something interesting, wandering through a Reithwin Mason’s Guild and a Ruined Battlefield near where the Harpers ambushed the drider convoy. Almost literally nothing is found, it’s a ton of empty space in the game that Larian apparently forgot to put content into, so there’s no reason to bore an audience with this section of video.

94. Last Light Inn, or She's From The First Game!. 42:03. Saturday, 2 September. (Balanced difficulty.) A non-combat episode. The party discovers the Last Light Inn, a Harper refuge, in a bubble of protection from the Shadow Curse maintained by resident Selunite cleric Isobel. Jaheira (she’s from the first game!) leads the rebel Harpers in a noble fight against the forces of the Moonrise Tower. Jaheria doesn’t trust us, but we convince her we’re not Absolute cultists, with the help of a mysterious Flaming Fist named Marcus. Karlach has hero worship for Jaheira. Art Cullagh recovers from a coma and tells us that Druid Halsin can help us break the Shadow Curse, but sadly, the game has informed us that Halsin is dead, even though he was very much alive last time we saw him. Apparently, since we didn’t kill every single goblin in Act 1, Halsin died offscreen. All hope for reversing the Shadow Curse is lost. Meanwhile, Flaming First Marcus turns out to be a spy working for the Moonrise Tower, and tells us to help him kidnap Selunite cleric Isobel for General Thorm. We confront Isobel in her room and are faced with an important decision. Side with Jaheira and declare war on the Moonrise Tower, or side with Flaming Fist Marcus and further infiltrate our way into the Absolute cult? Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=30, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Balanced Revivifies=0, Resurrections=0, Reloads=0 (for Bug=0, Redo=0, TPK=0, Scum=0).

95. Massacre at the Last Light Inn. 1:03:29. Saturday, 2 September. (Balanced difficulty.) On the advice of the Dream Guardian, Tavi decides to help the spy, Flaming Fist Marcus, kidnap Selunite cleric Isobel for General Thorm, so that the party can further infiltrate the Absolute cult at Moonrise Tower. Things turn ugly, and we’re reminded of the Grove Massacre. It’s a really confusing situation, mechanically speaking, because the game never tells us how to help abduct the cleric. All we were told was “don’t kill her.” A general melee breaks out, Winged Horrors fly in, Jaheira turns against us, and to make a long story short, everyone at the Last Light Inn dies, including Jaheira and Karlach, who has to sacrifice herself so that Tavi can flee. And the Winged Horrors kill Isobel and Flaming Fist Marcus carries her body away, even though we were explicitly told many times she had to survive. Confusing. Anyway, Karlach is resurrected back in camp, and the party takes a long rest, which is a lot easier to do on Balanced difficulty. And somehow we escaped the total carnage without any companions seeming to care. But I’m really starting to suspect the motives of the Dream Guardian now. Incidentally, I still haven’t consumed any of the Parasite Specimens–I have like 10 or more of them just sitting in my inventory–because I don’t know what they do mechanically, and I never really trusted the Dream Guardian lady and I made a decision early on to avoid using the Illithid powers. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=31, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Balanced Revivifies=0, Resurrections=1, Reloads=0 (for Bug=0, Redo=0, TPK=0, Scum=0).

96. Imprisoned in Moonrise Tower Prison. 1:04:18. Sunday, 3 September. (Balanced difficulty.) After the catastrophe at Last Light Inn, the party decides to head to Moonrise Tower to check in on the status of poor abducted Isobel, and gather praises for their work in helping Flaming Fist Marcus. Isobel is nowhere to be found, Flaming Fist Marcus is nowhere to be found, and nobody cares about the Last Light Inn. Disciple Z’rell is still waiting impatiently for us to help Balthazar find a relic. Then the party stumbles into the Moonrise Tower Prison, a previously-unexplored area, and talks to deep gnome Wulbren Bongle behind bars, who wants some tools to help him escape. The party remembers that they failed to help the deep gnomes in Grymforge, so they vow to help Wulbren. That leads to the Warden’s office, where a guard finds us rummaging in places we don’t belong. To make a long story short, there’s some bad rolls, and a fight breaks out with the guard. How bad could it be? It’s just one guard. And the Warden. And three Scrying Eyes. And then lots and lots of ever-increasing reinforcements. Mistakes were made. The party manages to kill the guard, incurring a permanent kill-on-sight penalty, but dies from all the reinforcements. But wait, there’s more. Instead of a normal TPK, the party is thrown into a prison cell with 1 hit point left. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=31, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Balanced Revivifies=0, Resurrections=1, Reloads=0 (for Bug=0, Redo=0, TPK=0, Scum=0).

97. Solo Escape from the Prison. 44:11. Sunday, 3 September. (Balanced.) A mostly non-combat episode. Things are about to get weird. After getting imprisoned, Karlach somehow teleported back to camp instead of the prison cell. So Tavi, Gale, and Shadowheart sit in a cell with 1 hit point, empty inventories, and no weapons. Tavi is marked kill-on-sight for killing a guard. Then, it turns out the party is still in combat with a guard outside the cell, who tries to kill the party, and a nearby Scrying Eye call even more reinforcements. Gale and Shadowheart are killed almost immediately, but Tavi jumps down a hole and escapes into an Oubliette by herself. Thinking I’m going to die soon and have to reload anyway, and with no weapons and very few spell slots left, Tavi consumes a Mindflayer Parasite Specimen for the first time to see if those powers will help her escape. It doesn’t, but it gives her a fairly unimpressive new ability and a new UI. Meanwhile, back at camp, Karlach tells Withers to get Gale and Shadowheart’s corpses. Tavi sneaks past a pair of Hook Horrors and finds a boat that would take her back to the Last Light Inn. It’s the last place she wants to go, since it’s full of Shadow-Cursed zombies now. She also finds a breakable wall to Wulbren Bongle’s deep gnome cell. She doesn’t have enough strength to break it down herself, so she goes back to camp and enlists the help of Karlach, Wyll, and Astarion, and they’re able to free the deep gnomes, avoid the Warden again, and flee back to camp. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=31, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Balanced Revivifies=0, Resurrections=1, Reloads=0 (for Bug=0, Redo=0, TPK=0, Scum=0).

98. Wyll and Astarion's Big Adventure. 30:34. Sunday, 3 September. (Balanced.) Wyll and Astarion haven’t been in the party for a long time, so I spend some time leveling them up to 7. Gale and Shadowheart remain dead, because nobody has enough gold to buy resurrections from Withers, and nobody has any Revivify scrolls, because all the party’s inventory was confiscated back in the Prison. Tavi can’t go back to Moonrise Tower without being attacked on sight (I reloaded to undo a fight when I discovered this), and Karlach doesn’t have any weapons, so Wyll and Astarion go back to Moonrise Tower by themselves to scout out the Prison, find and potentially recover the missing equipment. Unfortunately, as soon as Wyll and Astarion enter the Prison, they’re attacked immediately by the first guard, which they dispatch. Before reporting back, they check out some docks where they find crates full of mindflayer parasites on their way to Baldur’s Gate. A problem for another day. On the way out, Astarion talks to Araj Oblodra, the blood-obsessed drow vendor, who wants him to give her a vampire bite. He refuses very dramatically. Wyll and Astarion rejoin the others. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=31, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Balanced Revivifies=0, Resurrections=1, Reloads=1 (for Bug=0, Redo=1, TPK=0, Scum=0).

99. Equipment Recovery Mission. 24:17. Sunday, 3 September. (Balanced.) A non-combat episode. I consider how to get my stuff back from the Moonrise Tower Prison. With Gale’s invisibility ring, Tavi turns invisible, and the party (now Tavi, Karlach, Wyll, and Astarion, because Gale and Shadowheart are still dead) enters Moonrise Tower, past the guards at the front door without incident. Luckily the Scrying Eye that reveals Tavi inside the tower doesn’t trigger the guards. The party sneaks into the Warden’s office in the Prison, where the Scrying Eye was previously dispatched and the party’s missing equipment resides in a chest. It takes roughly an hour to transfer a thousand loose items in a chest back into the party’s inventory, because of the long-standing tradition that inventory management in RPGs has to have a garbage UI. The party fast-travels out without incident, and it’s a successful mission. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=31, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Balanced Revivifies=0, Resurrections=1, Reloads=2 (for Bug=1, Redo=1, TPK=0, Scum=0).

100. Arcane Tower Exploration pt 1. 1:10:36. Sunday, 3 September. (Balanced.) A non-combat episode. With Gale and Shadowheart still dead, the party returns to the Underdark for a relaxing exploration of the Arcane Tower, with Tavi, Karlach, Wyll, and Astarion. Tavi and Karlach are still pretty beat up from the Prison Debacle, but Wyll and Asterion are fresh. It takes a long time, and I had to consult a wiki once, but the party makes it to the bottom of the Arcane Tower to turn on the generator. Along the way, they find some potion ingredients that need to be delivered back to the Mindflayer Omeluum, so he can investigate the mindflayer parasites occupying our eye sockets. Once the generator is on, it unlocks an elevator that takes them to the top of the tower. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=31, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Balanced Revivifies=0, Resurrections=1, Reloads=3 (for Bug=2, Redo=1, TPK=0, Scum=0).

101. Arcane Tower Exploration pt 2. 44:59. Sunday, 3 September. (Balanced.) The party encounters Bernard at the top of the Arcane Tower, and he’s not very friendly. But it’s a lower-level encounter and party has no issues, although Tavi was downed once. The party takes a long rest afterward, however, it will soon be undone by reloading an older save file. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=32, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Balanced Revivifies=0, Resurrections=1, Reloads=3 (for Bug=2, Redo=1, TPK=0, Scum=0).

102. Giving Up and Reloading Old Game. 03:30. Monday, 4 September. It seems that Gale and Shadowheart will never be able to leave camp or leave the party, so I give up and reload an old game from just after the Last Light Inn massacre, after the 31st long rest, just before the Moonlit Tower Prison debacle. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=31, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Balanced Revivifies=0, Resurrections=1, Reloads=5 (for Bug=4, Redo=1, TPK=0, Scum=0).

103. Arcane Tower, Again. 1:24:06. Monday, 4 September. (Balanced.) After reloading from an old save file, I wanted to redo the Arcane Tower, so I did. Everything played out just like it did before, except this time I had Gale and Shadowheart instead of Wyll and Astarion. The Bernard fight seemed slightly harder than before. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=31, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Balanced Revivifies=0, Resurrections=1, Reloads=5 (for Bug=4, Redo=1, TPK=0, Scum=0).

104. Moonrise Tower Prison Breakout, Again. 1:12:06. Monday, 4 September. (Balanced.) The party returns to the Moonrise Tower Prison (weirdly the party is mysteriously healed while fast traveling from the Underdark). The goal is to redo breaking Wulbren Bongle out of prison, preferably without corrupting my save file this time. I swapped Shadowheart for Astarion, for his sneaking skills. This time, Astarion gets caught stealing Wulbren’s hammer. He’s thrown in prison by himself, and escapes through the Oubliette. Karlach joins him and breaks down the wall of Wulbren’s prison from the outside, and the gnomes escape again by boat. Then, the Warden appears and attacks the party, but everyone is able to flee except Gail, who got stuck in an awkward place, died, and had to be resurrected. Shadowheart rejoins the party, so we don’t need to recover Astarion’s gear just yet. The party takes a long rest, and Astarion complains about the drow lady vendor again, while Shadowheart continues to ignore her promise to talk to Tavi alone. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=32, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Balanced Revivifies=0, Resurrections=2, Reloads=5 (for Bug=4, Redo=1, TPK=0, Scum=0).

105. Cleanup at Last Light Inn. 1:00:50. Monday, 4 September. (Balanced.) At this point I’ve replayed most everything that I did after the game bugged out and I had to reload an earlier save. The party (Tavi, Karlach, Gale, and Shadowheart) returns to the Last Light Inn and finds eight level 4 and 7 Shadow Creeper Vines and an army of twelve level 6 Shadow-Cursed undead Harpers, the only thing left of the once-blessed last bastion of good and decency in the Shadow Lands, after we betrayed Isobel. At first it looks like the party might have trouble handling all the enemies, but Tavi casts some crucial crowd-control spells, while Gale uses his trademarked Hasted Barbarian move, so Karlach can wreak havok with 4 monstrous attacks per turn. The party mows down the Harpers and Vines without any casualties, and I start to consider going back to Tactician difficulty. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=32, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Balanced Revivifies=0, Resurrections=2, Reloads=5 (for Bug=4, Redo=1, TPK=0, Scum=0).

106. Looting the Last Light Inn. 45:03. Monday, 4 September. (Balanced.) A non-combat episode. After clearing out all the remaining undead at the smoking remains of the Last Light Inn, there’s nothing left to do but loot everything. A fairly mundane episode of opening tons of containers, juggling inventory, and reading documents, similar to the aftermath of the Grove Massacre. Nothing is left of Jaheira but a backpack of her gear, which makes me think she could have been a playable character. Oh well. We only talked to her for like 2 seconds before she died. Afterward, the party takes a long rest, and Shadowheart continues to ignore us, despite saying she wanted to talk alone. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps+1=33, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Balanced Revivifies=0, Resurrections=2, Reloads=5 (for Bug=4, Redo=1, TPK=0, Scum=0).

107. Search for Blood of Lathander. 48:21. Tuesday, 5 September. (Tactician difficulty.) Hotfix #5 4.1.1.3696083. A non-combat episode. The fight at the Last Light Inn convinced me that I should switch back to Tactician difficulty. I might change my mind again when I get back to the Gauntlet of Shar, no promises. But anyway, the party continues to tie up loose ends before returning to the Gauntlet of Shar and the confrontation with Balthazar in the Shadowfell (and desperately hoping to reach level 8 before then, but I don’t think that’s going to happen). The Blood of Lathandar was another such loose end, so the party returns to the Rosymorn Monastery to conduct an extensive, extremely boring search. It leads to Google, because I couldn’t find any more Ceremonial weapons to solve that stained glass puzzle, and never would have, because the remaining weapons were in non-obvious places I walked past many times and never checked. It led to another puzzle piece which, according to Google, is used deep in the Githyanki Creche, something else that never would have occurred to me because it wasn’t very obvious. That led me to think I needed to kill all the githyankis, or at least the Commander, who kept demanding I give over the artefact. I’m resuming the Tactician scorecard values: Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=33, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=11, Resurrections=5, Reloads=34 (for Bug=1, Redo=5, TPK=16, Scum=12).

108. Storming the Githyanki Leadership. 56:12. Tuesday, 5 September. (Tactician.) The party confronts Commander Kith’rak in the Githyanki Creche, who keeps demanding we hand over Shadowheart’s artefact. The Dream Guardian keeps whispering in our ear not to do that. Previously, I’ve been happily obliging, and simply walking away, but according to Google, there’s no way to get the Blood of Lathander for this quest without getting past a glowing door in the Commander’s room, and the only way I can think to do that is to start killing githyanki. I figure it’ll be a relatively easy fight, since the githyanki are only level 5 and 6 enemies, but it still kept me on my toes and Gale goes down quite a few times. The party continues with just a short rest. Past the glowing door, we find Inquisitor W’wargaz… drop a beat, wuh wuh wuh Wargaz… and he also demands the artefact. The party can’t talk their way out of that one, and a fight breaks out. The fight goes badly right from the start, W’wargaz and many githyanki roll high on initiative, they pack a big punch for level 6 enemies, Tavi goes down immediately, then Shadowheart goes down and there’s no more healing, so there’s very little chance of winning, and a TPK ensues. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=33, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=11, Resurrections=5, Reloads+1=35 (for Bug=1, Redo=5, TPK+1=17, Scum=12).

109. Inquisitor Wuh Wuh Wuh W'wargaz. 53:16. Tuesday, 5 September. (Tactician.) The second attempt at fighting Inquisitor wuh wuh wuh W’wargez goes vastly better. The initiative order is much more favorable for the party, and Gale and Shadowheart position themselves at the start of the battle up on a ledge overlooking the battlefield and remain largely uncontested. The party withstands W’wargez’s onslaught of psionic nonsense, Karlach kills both Ardents early, Gale casts an ice storm that causes one of them to slip and fall, while Shadowheart kills another with a Guiding Bolt. There’s a near-disaster when Karlach also slips and falls prone in the ice, takes a critical, and goes down, but the party heals her enough to recover. Tavi dies, but Karlach stays alive long enough for Gale to cast Haste on her with his last 3rd-level spell slot, so she can go one-on-one with W’wargez, the last one standing, and kill him in the end. Afterward, the party discovers the statue puzzle that I remember being mentioned from Google a couple episodes back, and the search for the Blood of Lathander resumes with the discovery of a secret stairway. But it seems unwise to continue without a long rest, so the party camps, where nothing happens again. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps+1=34, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies+1=12, Resurrections=5, Reloads=35 (for Bug=1, Redo=5, TPK=17, Scum=12).

110. The Blood of Lathander. 47:59. Wednesday, 6 September. (Tactician.) The party returns from camp to continue the search for the Blood of Lathander down a secret staircase. It turns out that resting was unnecessary, as there are only tricks and traps to overcome, but in the end we get The Blood of Lathander, which is a cool mace for clerics. One can imagine Shadowheart refusing to swap Shar’s Spear of the Night for some cheery sun god’s mace, but she says nothing about it in-game. Then the party tries to leave the Githyanki Creche, to see if anyone else is hostile now that they’ve killed the enter leadership structure, and it turns out, yes, they’re all hostile now. The party first has to deal with the level 6 Quartermistress and two friends. Tavi goes down but the battle is won, and the Quartermistress drops some cool vendor loot. (By this time, the party is absolutely swimming in magic items that aren’t terribly useful.) Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=34, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=12, Resurrections=5, Reloads=35 (for Bug=1, Redo=5, TPK=17, Scum=12).

111. Githyanki at the Gates. 1:02:56. Wednesday, 6 September. (Tactician.) After dispatching the Quartermistress, the party makes their way to the entrance of the Githyank Creche, where an assortment of level 6 githyanki wait to stop them. Battle commences. Tavi goes down again but the party handles the enemies without much issue, but afterward they’re still well short of level 8–about three-quarters of the way there. After two fights in a row, they have to take a long rest back in camp, where nothing happens. Then they wander around, revisiting the Grove and Blighted Village to see if they can find Halsin’s supposedly dead body, or to see if anything’s changed there. There’s a mysterious poison cloud covering the Sacred Pool in the Grove now, but that’s about it. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps+1=35, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=12, Resurrections=5, Reloads=35 (for Bug=1, Redo=5, TPK=17, Scum=12).

112. The B Team Assault on Yurgir. 1:24:49. Thursday, 7 September. (Tactician.) Hotfix #6 4.1.1.3700362. The party devises a plan to return to the Gauntlet of Shar and defeat Yurgir, Raphael’s old enemy, who previously wiped the floor with us in comical fashion. Step one is to respec Tavi so she has Faerie Fire. Step two is to fill the party with three hirelings: Returning favorites Brinna Brightsong the violinist bard and Eldra Luthrinn the dwarf barbarian, and newcomer Danton the tiefling druid. The goal is for the hirelings to sacrifice themselves to thin down the number of enemies. The party enters Yurgir’s room from the north side where the mysteriously unexplained spider carcass aphrodesiac lies. The Displacer Beast was lured closer with a minor cat illusion, and combat begins amazingly well. Yurgir is so far away that he isn’t even a factor in the battle for many, many rounds. We’re positioned under the upper shelf so we’re able to shelter from a lot of crossbow bolts raining down from the Merregons above, and a field of plant growth kept enemy movement bottlenecked in one place. Tavi summoned Balthazar’s Flesh Golem to help out, which wasn’t all that much of a help to be honest, because it killed some rats which had dire consequences later on. Unfortunately, something I forgot to consider in my new party composition is that nobody had any ranged damage (or healing) capabilities. So we had a lot of rounds where we could have done a lot of damage, but the bottleneck worked against us too, and nobody could get close enough to hit anything. In the end, though, the party dispatched the Displacer Beast and two Merregons before Yurgir jumped right into the middle of everything and Eldra, Brinna, and Danton all went down. The plan was for Tavi to flee the battle, which she did, but it was very close and she nearly didn’t get away. It was a successful mission, although less enemies died than I’d hoped. Karlach, Shadowheart, and Gale rejoin the party, and they take a partial rest to restore a couple spell slots for Tavi, which I guess I’ll count as a camp even though nothing happened. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps+1=36, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=12, Resurrections=5, Reloads=35 (for Bug=1, Redo=5, TPK=17, Scum=12).

113. The A Team Assault on Yurgir. 45:57. Thursday, 7 September. (Tactician.) Now the real fight begins. With the A Team back in place, the party returns to Yurgir’s room for the second wave of the assault, after the B Team weakened the enemy forces by killing the Displacer Beast and two of the eight Merregons. (They’re only level 5 but they’re a serious nuisence with their immunity to fire and poison and two attacks per round.) This time we find Yurgir on the lower floor, near the entrance to the room, so the party sneaks up to approach the upper floor from the south side, where all the remaining Merregons are bunched together. Gale cackles and opens with a level 4 Ice Storm, and only then remembers the Merregons are resistant to cold damage, too, so it does minimal damage. Yurgir, who always goes first in the initiative, leaps up from the bottom floor directly in front of the party, throws grenades, and does a Concussive Burst. Luckily nobody died instantly this time, which is what usually happens, but Tavi and Shadowheart are thrown backwards, leaving Karlach alone in front of an unusually visible Yurgir. Karlach uses a new item which gives an enemy vulnerability to slashing damage (I thought it lasted for 3 turns, but it’s only for the first hit), and knocks almost a third of Yurgir’s health off in two swings, and I’m suddenly feeling good about this fight. Long story short: That was the last time we got to hit Yurgir in the battle. Faerie fire doesn’t prevent invisibility like I thought it did, at least in BG3, which is known for arbitrarily changing about a thousand D&D rules. In any case, the party, by which I mean Karlach, is able to kill the remaining Merregons, while Tavi, Gale, and Shadowheart end up doing very little except fleeing for their lives, constantly going down and getting back up again in their efforts to run away. Gale died and had to be revivified at one point. Karlach died on the battlefield fighting a one-on-one duel with Yurgir in the end, and she actually got him down to only 47 hit points remaining before dying to one of his ridiculous insta-kill moves. She’s resurrected back in camp and the party takes a long rest to prepare for the final push. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps+1=37, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies+1=13, Resurrections+1=6, Reloads=35 (for Bug=1, Redo=5, TPK=17, Scum=12).

114. The Final Yurgir Showdown. 40:51. Thursday, 7 September. (Tactician.) A rat warns the party to stop killing rats or there will be consequences. Tavi promises not to (we weren’t doing it intentionally, they were just collateral damage). Then it’s off to kill Yurgir, who is all by himself on the upper floor near his big throne. Gale casts Haste on Karlach before the battle. The first two tries to start battle resulted in Yurgir immediately killing one or two party members with randomly exploding bombs, so I save scummed those away because dying to random chance is just dumb and unfair. The third try almost started the same way, but Karlach miraculously survived the insta-kill explosion. But Yurgir turned invisible, and Karlach had nothing to attack. Faerie Fire again didn’t work. Gale tried a Shatter spell in the general vicinity and it worked! Yurgir dropped invisibility, then Karlach got 4 attacks on him, dropping him nearly to half his health. Karlach was killed immediately afterwards, so it was up to Tavi, Gale, and Shadowheart to finish the fight, which they did, from range, with a succession of scrolls, Shatter spells, and Guiding Bolts. Shadowheart revivifies Karlach. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=37, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies+1=14, Resurrections=6, Reloads+2=37 (for Bug=1, Redo=5, TPK=17, Scum+2=12).

115. Guantlet of Shar, Following the Rats. 35:21. Thursday, 7 September. (Tactician.) On returning to the Guantlet of Shar waypoint, the party follows a line of rats to the bottom of the big Shar statue, thinking that this will be the promised reward for not killing any more rats, because they didn’t. Then the party gets killed by a swarm of angry, vengeful rats coming out of Rat Holes. Oops. Survived Yurgir, died to 1 hit point rats. They do a shockingly large amount of damage for rats, though. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps=37, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=14, Resurrections=6, Reloads+1=38 (for Bug=1, Redo=5, TPK+1=18, Scum=12).

116. Revenge on the Rats. 46:22. Friday, 8 September. (Tactician.) The party takes on the rats a second time, and Lyrthindor, and emerges victorious. Camp, nothing happens. Scorecard: Level=7, Camps+1=38, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=14, Resurrections=6, Reloads=38 (for Bug=1, Redo=5, TPK=18, Scum=12).

117. Return to Balthazar's Room (Level 8). 1:22:19. Saturday, 9 September. (Tactician.) The party continues to tie up loose ends, and one of them is Balthazar in his little room with three ghouls. Fleshy the Flesh Golem is dead and gone (killed by Yurgir), but Balthazar still has that Cloudkill spell which is a, well, a killer. On the second attempt, Shadowheart remembers she has a Protection from Poison spell, burns all her level 2 spell slots and casts it on everyone in the party, and the fight turns out much better. (I restarted the second fight with a reload because I screwed up a Grease spell. I screwed it up the second time, too, but I let it go.) With the Protection from Poison in effect, Balthazar only attempts one Cloudkill, which Gale counterspells, and the rest is easy. And the party reaches Level 8! Scorecard: Level=8, Camps=38, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=14, Resurrections=6, Reloads=38+2 (for Bug=1, Redo=5, TPK=18+1=19, Scum+1=13).

118. He Who Was. 1:04:00. Saturday, 9 September. (Tactician.) The party remembers they never went up the Grymforge elevator to the Shadow Lands, and finds it’s jam-packed with more places to explore. They find He Who Was looking to judge Madeline, and fight some Shadow-Cursed Vines and Ravens, which are little trouble, even with just a short rest. Scorecard: Level=8, Camps=38, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=14, Resurrections=6, Reloads=38 (for Bug=1, Redo=5, TPK=19, Scum=13).

119. Judging Madeline. 1:13:45. Saturday, 9 September. (Tactician.) More wandering around the Shadow-Cursed Lands to tie up loose ends. Fighting Mummy and Daddy at the House in Deep Shadows. A drinking contest with the bartender in The Waning Moon. He Who Was judges Madeline harshly. (Well, actually, Tavi does.) A long rest, but nothing happens in camp. Scorecard: Level=8, Camps+1=39, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=14, Resurrections=6, Reloads=38 (for Bug=1, Redo=5, TPK=19, Scum=13).

120. The Nightsong Freed. 1:14:16. Saturday, 9 September. (Tactician.) The party gathers its courage and returns to the Shadowfell for what is expected to be another showdown with an army of 20 undead. But … that doesn’t happen. I didn’t think for a second Balthazar would stay dead, but he does, and he’s not there, and there’s no army of undead. It’s just the Nightsong this time, and Shadowheart, shockingly, decides all on her own not to kill her. The Nightsong, the asimar child of Selune, flies away to do battle against Ketheric Thorm at Moonrise Towers. The party follows, and meets Disciple Z’rell blocking the way into the tower, and a fight erupts. Z’rell has a nasty Black Hole spell that slows the party, which is one of the worst things that can happen, especially to Karlach. Still, there’s a chance the party could win, but then they accidentally pull more enemies into the fight, and it’s a TPK. Annoying. Scorecard: Level=8, Camps=39, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=14, Resurrections=6, Reloads+1=39 (for Bug=1, Redo=5, TPK+1=19, Scum=13).

121. Moonrise Tower Misery pt 1. 40:35. Saturday, 9 September. (Tactician.) The party’s options are limited after returning from the Shadowfell, since almost all of the waypoints on the map are gone. So it’s back to the Moonrise Tower for more fighting against Disciple Z’rell, which seems even more impossible than Balthazar in the Shadowfell. It’s two more solid TPKs and a big, impenetrable difficulty brick wall. Scorecard: Level=8, Camps=39, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=14, Resurrections=6, Reloads+3=42 (for Bug=1, Redo+1=6, TPK+2=21, Scum=13).

122. Moonrise Tower Misery pt 2. 52:01. Saturday, 9 September. (Tactician.) Disciple Z’rell’s un-counterable Black Hole and her double-Divine-Smiting Zealot buddies continue to wreck the party no matter what I do. Not much else to say about it. It looks completely hopeless, and I don’t know of anywhere else to go in the game. Scorecard: Level=8, Camps=39, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=14, Resurrections=6, Reloads+2=44 (for Bug=1, Redo=6, TPK+2=23, Scum=13).

123. Moonrise Tower Miracle pt 1. 47:42. Saturday, 9 September. (Tactician.) It’s gotten to where I’m tired of narrating my own inevitable defeats, so I take off my headset and there isn’t much commentary at the start of this one. It looks like it’s going to be another beatdown of the party, and Tavi, Gale, and Karlach go down and die. Then Shadowheart tries to run away into the Cursed Lands, just to see what happens. All the enemies follow, and then a miracle happens: Disciple Z’rell and her cohorts all happily follow Shadowheart into the cursed shadows, die to the curse, and turn into Shadow-Cursed undead, with half their original hit points. Shadowheart remains immune to the curse. They eventually stop chasing her, but they’re scattered and divided across a wide area. Shadowheart returns to camp and gets Withers to recover Gale and Karlach, but she can’t reform a party without Tavi, so she has to go back for the party leader all by herself. In a heroic solo mission not seen since Astarion rescued Tavi’s body from the Hook Horrors in the Underdark, Shadowheart doubles back, kills some stragglers one-on-one with cantrips and her Blood of Lathander mace, and sneaks back to revivify Tavi back at the entrance to the Tower. They regroup in camp. Scorecard: Level=8, Camps=39, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies+1=15, Resurrections=6, Reloads=44 (for Bug=1, Redo=6, TPK=23, Scum=13).

124. Moonrise Tower Miracle pt 2. 44:54. Saturday, 9 September. (Tactician.) After resurrecting and reassembling, the party returns to Moonrise Tower to mop up the leftover enemies on just a short rest. They track down and dispatch the former defenders of Moonrise Tower one by one, who are now undead spread out across the shadow-cursed lands, thanks to Shadowheart’s previous kiting. Disciple Z’‘rell finally falls, a shadow of her former self, hyuk hyuk. Returning to the Tower, the Warden and two others are now waiting to defend it, but they’re also dispatched after a tense fight that sees Tavi die again, and that’s the first floor of Moonrise Tower finally cleared out. The three goblins in the side room don’t want to fight, so they’re left alone. Sadly all the vendors are gone (Lann Tarv was killed in the fighting, Araj Obladra disappeared). Then it’s back to camp for a long rest, despite all of the companions yelling at Tavi that they need to hurry to the top of the tower to help the Nightsong battle against Ketheric Thorm.Hopefully camping wasn’t a mistake. Scorecard: Level=8, ** Camps+1=40**, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies+1=16, Resurrections+2=8, Reloads=44 (for Bug=1, Redo=6, TPK=23, Scum=13).

125. Radija, Mistress of Souls. 42:57. Sunday, 10 September. (Tactician.) The party continues to climb the Moonrise Tower, encountering Radija, Mistress of Souls. It’s a straightforward encounter and the party saves most of their resources for the inevitable fights to come. Then the party explores the second floor before preparing to move on. Scorecard: Level=8, Camps=40, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=16, Resurrections=8, Reloads=44 (for Bug=1, Redo=6, TPK=23, Scum=13).

126. Showdown with Ketheric Thorm. 1:19:55. Sunday, 10 September. (Tactician.) The party faces off against Ketheric Thorm and friends at the top of the Moonrise Tower, with help from Dame Aylin, the Nightsong. The party targets Susdera the Mistress of Souls and kills her quickly. Kar’liss the creepy drider and the necromites are constant damaging nuisences. Tavi dies and has to be revivified mid-battle, and Gale goes down many times (one of which is an accidental friendly fire from Shadowheart). And for the daughter of a god, the Nightsong is pretty squishy and dies quite easily. Luckily, she just keeps coming back with 1 hit point every time Ketheric murders her. Eventually the party triumphs, but Ketheric Thorm flees before he can be killed, and a big tentacle sprouts out of the Tower for reasons that weren’t terribly clear and captures the Nightsong again. Scorecard: Level=8, Camps=40, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies+1=17, Resurrections=8, Reloads=44 (for Bug=1, Redo=6, TPK=23, Scum=13).

127. Mind Flayer Colony and Meeting Myrkul. 50:40. Sunday, 10 September. (Tactician.) I was led to believe that I had to follow Ketheric Thorm down the hole immediately for a followup battle. Even though the party was fairly depleted, I didn’t want to take a long rest, because I figured he’d heal all the way back to full. So the party jumps down the hole without taking a long rest, but there’s no followup battle. Ketheric is nowhere to be found. Instead, it’s a big new area to explore; the Mindflayer Colony, adjacent to the Oubliette that we saw previously escaping the Prison. The party finds Mizola, Wyll’s patron devil, in a Mindflayer Pod, and accidentally kills her and Wyll by pressing an unlabeled button. Oops. Karlach is way more upset about it than anyone would have expected. The party goes down an elevator and finds the 3 Main Villians; General Ketheric Thorm, Lord Gortash (Karlach seems to know him), Orin the Slayer. They’re implanting a mindflayer tadpole into Wyll’s dad, the Duke, before leaving. The General stays behind, the party confronts him, one thing leads to another, and the Apostle of Myrkul appears. It’s a very cool story beat, but, not surprisingly, since the party is surrounded by constantly-spawning Necromites, Intellect Devourers, and a Mindflayer who does 109 hit points of damage in a single attack, the party is mostly dead within 2 rounds and it’s a TPK. And also Myrkul is invulnerable until you free the Nightsong again. Once again I question the sanity of playing on Tactician difficulty, and wonder how and why the game lets me stumble into these encounters when I’m so obviously not ready for them. A good DM would warn the players if they’re about to die! Scorecard: Level=8, Camps=40, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=17, Resurrections=8, Reloads+1=45 (for Bug=1, Redo=6, TPK+1=24, Scum=13).

128. Apostle of Myrkul, Balanced Difficulty Experiment. 16:26. Monday, 11 September. (Balanced.) I wanted to see how hard the Myrkul encounter would be on Balanced difficulty. It was better, but still a TPK. It would have helped if I’d known sooner that all I had to do was a help action to free the Nightsong. I’m going to count this experiment as a redo for the scorecard. Scorecard: Level=8, Camps=40, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=17, Resurrections=8, Reloads+1=46 (for Bug=1, Redo+1=7, TPK=24, Scum=13).

129. Apostle of Myrkul, Explorer Difficulty Experiment. 16:53. Monday, 11 September. (Explorer.) And I wanted to see how hard Mrykul would be on Explorer difficulty. This time, it was a fairly straightforward victory, but I’m going to reload. I’m going to count this experiment as a redo for the scorecard. Scorecard: Level=8, Camps=40, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=17, Resurrections=8, Reloads+1=47 (for Bug=1, Redo+1=8, TPK=24, Scum=13).

130. Zombie Horde in the Necrotic Laboratory. 1:10:27. Monday, 11 September. (Tactician.) Reloading after the disaster with the Apostle of Myrkul, the party looks for a way out of the Mindflayer Colony so they can take a long rest. Unfortunately, there’s no way out, and there’s nowhere to camp. It was a big mistake to jump down here on just a short rest. Then, the party engages a room full of zombies, the Necrotic Laboratory, in the hope that an exit might be beyond them. Only then does the party realize there’s a dreaded Death Shepherd in their midst, and it’s creating new enemies to fight every round. Karlach tries to run into the room to kill it, but is swarmed and dies before she can do much of anything. Tavi, Gale, and Shadowheart expect to die, too, but Gale casts a clutch protective Fire Wall with his last 4th level spell slot, and all the zombies run into the fire and die. The three of them manage to hold off all the remaining zombies from the other side of the Fire Wall and kill the Death Shepherd, too. Karlach is revivified, and it’s another miraculous victory on Tactician difficulty. Scorecard: Level=8, Camps=40, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies+1=18, Resurrections=8, Reloads=47 (for Bug=1, Redo=8, TPK=24, Scum=13).

131. The Mindflayer Grand Design. 57:41. Monday, 11 September. (Tactician.) A non-combat episode. With all the zombies dead, the party explores the Necrotic Laboratory, which has a large assortment of interesting things to look at, but very few answers or explanations. There’s a puzzle to solve to open a door, which I hoped would be a way out, but it’s just a large stone relief of the Mindflayer Grand Design. There’s a side room with a Mind-Archive Interface where we can, presumably, see what all those minds we’ve been picking up have to say, but it’s buggy as hell and doesn’t work and I can’t do anything with it and have to reload the game many, many times because Tavi gets stuck in a conversation that I can’t see and can’t exit and it wastes a ton of time. There’s some notes from Balthazar, and some about Orin and Gortash, two of our primary villains. It sounds like Orin, the slayer lady corpse, might be suaded to turn on the other two villians. I thought I might have to reload the game from before I jumped into the Mindflayer Colony so I could get a long rest before the big battle, but it turns out that the Restoration Pod at the top of the elevator also restores all the party’s spell slots. Scorecard: Level=8, Camps=40, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=18, Resurrections=8, Reloads+4=51 (for Bug=5, Redo=8, TPK=24, Scum=13).

132. Apostle of Myrkul Marathon. 2:44:34. Tuesday, 12 September. (Tactician.) Strap in for an exhausting marathon that comes down to a photo finish. Having finished exploring the Mind Flayer Colony, the party returns for its rematch against Ketheric Thorm and friends. A Restoration Pod restored all of the party’s spell slots, but it didn’t recharge any of the party’s magic items. First the party witnesses a meeting between Ketheric, Orin, and Gortash, the three principle villians, and a mindflayer is implanted in Wyll’s dad, the Duke. The villians call forth an Elder Brain who begins an attack on Baldur’s Gate, part of The Grand Design to turn everyone into mindflayers. Ketheric Thorm stays behind while the rest leave for Baldur’s Gate. Just to see what would happen, I first selected the option to have Gale blow himself up, and, as expected, it worked, but it ended the game immediately. Then, Tavi persuades Ketheric to jump in the pit, so at least I didn’t have to fight him again, but his replacement is the Apostle of Myrkul, a monstrosity with 297 hit points. Also Isobel, who we helped kidnap and return to Moonrise Tower (oops), and a Mindflayer, and wave after wave of constantly-spawning Necromites that sap the party’s health every round and feed Myrkul’s Finger of Death attacks. Shadowheart freed the Nightsong (who wasn’t much of a help in the fight), while Gale flew up to a platform on the left and fired ranged attacks. First Isobel is killed, then the Mindflayer, then everyone focuses on Myrkul, or at least tries to, because half the party is frightened on any given round. At some point, Myrkul stopped doing Call of the Damned, the big vacuum sucking move that hurts everything and everyone in the room, which was a big help. I didn’t think I’d win this fight because I was scrambling the whole time to damage Myrkul, because Karlach was neutralized for a lot of the fight. In the end, it’s a photo finish, with two of the party down, it’s a puny burning condition inflicted by Tavi’s desperately summoned elemental Azer that does the last 7 hit points of damage to kill Myrkul before it can do another Finger of Death. Ketheric Thorm is finally dead for good and the party gets his Netherstone, which is one of the three stones that allow the Elder Brain to be controlled, and a portal exit is revealed. 6:55 One Last Gale, 21:17 Round 1, 36:04 Round 2, 51:02 Round 3, 1:07:03 Round 4, 1:16:28 Round 5, 1:25:11 Round 6, 1:32:51 Round 7, 1:43:22 Round 8, 1:50:20 Round 9, 1:59:51 Round 10, 2:12:14 Round 11, 2:18:21 Round 12, 2:26:04 Round 13 Victory. Scorecard: Level=8, Camps=40, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=18, Resurrections=8, Reloads+1=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

133. So Goodbye Shadow Cursed Lands. 58:35. Wednesday, 13 September. (Tactician.) A non-combat episode. Exiting the Mindflayer Colony, the party arrives back in the Moonrise Tower. Gale expresses great interest in the Netherese crown that controls the Elder Brain. Withers mysteriously declares illithids don’t have souls. Dame Aylin arrives in camp and pontificates about her mission to defeat the Dead Three. In camp, the party finally gets a well-deserved long rest, and we confirm that Wyll is indeed a pile of ash because I pressed the wrong button back in the Mindflayer Colony. At least that solved his drinking problem. Karlach remains upset about it. Tavi resurrects hireling bard Brinna Brightsong, who died in the multi-stage Yurgir encounter. The party sets off again, but first stops back in the Moonrise Tower Prison to recover Astarion’s gear, which he lost back when he was imprisoned, and take a closer look around now that the place is empty. On leaving the Moonrise Tower, the Dream Visitor declares that the party needs to find allies in Baldur’s Gate. After reviewing the log to make sure I haven’t left any loose ends, the party leaves the Shadow Cursed Lands (still cursed) and takes the Road to Baldur’s Gate, and weirdly enters camp, where Dame Aylin drops the story bombshell that Shadowheart wasn’t rescued by Sharrans, she was kidnapped and brainwashed by Sharrans, and the Sharrans still hold her parents. Dame Aylin returns the Spear of Night to Shadowheart, which is now blessed by Selune. Incidentally, Shadowheart’s diety on her character sheet is now listed as Selune. Scorecard: Level=8, Camps+2=42, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=18, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

134. Superpowered Astral Monks pt 1. 52:17. Wednesday, 13 September. (Tactician.) Leaving camp on the road to Baldur’s Gate, we break the established POV and see a cut scene of events far, far away for the first time in the game–a conversation between villians Gortash and Orin in Baldur’s Gate, the so-called Chosen and the last remaining two of the Dead Three, who are twirling moustaches and plotting their villianous deeds. That segues to another camp, where we get our first glimpse of the city. Tavi resurrects another hireling who died in the Yurgir assault, Danton the druid. Ending the day, the Narrator gives us a very concise summary of the plot, and Tavi (by random selection) chooses to dream about dominating the Elder Brain and thus the world. Before sleep, however, the party is attacked by three superpowered level 9 githyanki monks. The Dream Visitor beckons us to escape into an Astral Portal, but poor Gale dies not once, but twice before getting there. (It wouldn’t have happened if I’d realized sooner that only one party member needed to reach the portal.) The portal takes us to the Astral Plane where the Dream Visitor needs help fighting off githyanki monks with four or five apostrophes in their names. Two more of the superhuman crazily-overpowered monks block our way to the Dream Visitor, but Karlach manages to shove both of them to their deaths before anyone else gets killed. Scorecard: Level=8, Camps+1=43, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies+2=20, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

135. Superpowered Astral Monks pt 2. 55:17. Wednesday, 13 September. (Tactician.) Pressing onward to help the Dream Visitor, the party finds out the Dream Visitor is one of them thar dirty stinkin Mindflayers! Shock! Surprise! Revelation! (I didn’t trust the Dream Visitor’s motives, but I actually didn’t see this coming, but it’s not like I’d developed any personal investment in that character so it doesn’t really matter.) We decide to help instead of killing the Mindflayer because it seems like the most advantageous thing to do, although in hindsight, I wish I’d decided differently, because I decided against using the tadpole specimens early on. (But then I probably would have had to fight the monks and a mindflayer.) But anyway, the Dream visitor is surrounded by four more superpowered githyanki monks and this time, we can’t just shove them off an edge for cheap kills, so it’s a fight to the death. Their deaths, thankfully, despite their superpowers. Luckily a Mindflayer ally is quite an advantage. Still, Tavi dies in the fight, but the Dream Visitor revivifies her so the followup conversation can happen. The Dream Visitor tells a sad(?) story of being a former adventurer who was turned into a Mindflayer, and upon finding the Artefect (which is really called the Astral Prism, even though it looks nothing like a prism), yada yada yada, something something something, I didn’t and still don’t really follow, now they’re a renegade Mindflayer called the Emperor, and their job is to keep Prince Orpheus imprisoned in the Astral Plane. (Prince Orpheus is an outlaw githyanki in opposition to Queen Vlaakith.) Somehow all of that plot word salad allows the Astral Prism to keep the Absolute from controlling the mindflayer tadpoles in the party’s heads, and we finally understand why we haven’t become thralls to the Absolute like everyone else. Furthermore, the Emperor formerly known as the Dream Visitor explains that we can evolve into mindflayers, without actually becoming mindflayers, and Tavi balks at the idea, since we’ve been trying to avoid that the whole game. It’s all very confusing, quite frankly, but in the end, the party ends up back in camp, with an Evolved Mindflayer Tadpole anyone in the party can use to evolve into … something? Something that’s not in any way mechanically explained or even hinted at, but some unspecified powers will supposedly be gained to fight future fights. Tavi approaches Gale about evolving, but he seems hesitant if Tavi herself won’t do it. As per usual, there’s not enough information to make a tactical decision about evolving, without trying it out and reloading later if we don’t like it. Scorecard: Level=8, Camps=43, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies+1=21, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

136. Act 3, Rivington. 52:45. Thursday, 14 September. A non-combat episode. The party finishes the pseudo-camping on the road to Baldur’s Gate (thankfully getting a long rest without having to use any camp supplies). Shadowheart has a brand new look, thanks to rejecting Shar and embracing Selune. They enter the suburbs of Rivington near Wyrm’s Crossing, which is the official start of Act 3, and a long string of mainly conversational episodes. Yenna and her cat Grub ask for food. The locals have beaten back an attack by the armies of the Absolute, but refugees are everywhere. The Circus of Last Days is in town, and it’s bustling with acts and activities; a facepainting Mummy, a loud Djinn, an earth elemental sculptor, Lucretious the owner. Seriously, there’s people everywhere to talk to; it’s quite possibly the busiest town full of NPCs I’ve ever seen in a single-player RPG, and it goes on and on and on. Scorecard: Level=8, Camps+1=44, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=21, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

137. Dribbles the Clown (Level 9). 43:43. Thursday, 14 September. The party finds Dribbles the Clown, the headlining act in the Circus of Last Days. It turns out Dribbles the Clown is one of the murderous types of clowns, because Absolute cultists and dopplegangers have infiltrated the circus, and a fight breaks out. It’s a handy win, but unfortunately one innocent bystander is melted by acid. But more importantly, it’s enough for the party to reach level 9! Scorecard: Level=9, Camps=44, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=21, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

138. Continuing Rivington Exploration. 54:31. Saturday, 16 September. A non-combat episode. The circus empties out after Dribbles is gone. Lucretious wants us to find Dribbles, the real one from before a doppleganger murdered him–his corpse, that is, because he’s probably dead. On the way out, Tavi declares her love for the fickle, jaded Shadowheart before a Dryad, who turns out to be Orin in disguise. The party explores more of the area around Rivington, talking to an assortment of refugees, and another shapeshifted Orin in the form of a blacksmith. Orin seems eager for us to eliminate Gortash for her. Scorecard: Level=9, Camps=44, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=21, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

139. Open Hand Temple. 57:47. Saturday, 16 September. (Tactician.) The Gur are looking for revenge against the vampire Cazador, who has kidnapped their children. The Flaming Fist ask for donations for refugees, while shadily keeping anyone from seeing what’s in a barn. Sharran Freg Drogher reveals the Sharran cloister where Shadowheart’s parents are held is in the House of Grief. The party locates the Temple of the Open Hand, where Tavi promised to return the Sentient Amulet for the Cursed Monk. They find that Father Lornal has been murdered, and agree to investigate. Returning the amulet leads to a crypt below the template, where the Cursed Monk causes zombies to attack when Tavi refuses to take on the monk’s curse. Sadly, the monk remains cursed forever. Scorecard: Level=9, Camps=44, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=21, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

140. Under the Open Hand. 1:05:56. Saturday, 16 September. (Tactician.) Continuing to investigate the murder of Father Lornal, the party handily defeats three dopplegangers in the caves below the Open Hand, and finds Lornal’s murder weapon, an assortment of Orin’s murder victims, and part of Dribbles’s corpse. The party camps, where they find Yenna and her cat Grub have joined them. She promises to cook. Scorecard: Level=9, Camps+1=45, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=21, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

141. Raphael's Deal. 1:13:36. Saturday, 16 September. (Tactician.) A non-combat episode. Issue 86 of the Baldur’s Mouth Gazette. The party seeks to cross the bridge, but the Steel Watcher automaton tries to arrest them, but some Ironhand gnomes rescue them so they can escape, and the party enters the South Span of Wyrm’s Crossing. The party enters the brothel Sharess’s Caress. Mamzell Amira wants us to find Ffion, the Stern Librarian, a customer favorite, whose gone missing. Investigator Valeria needs more evidence in the cast of Father Lornal. Astarion replaces Gale (and levels up, and reads more of the Necromancy of Thay book) before the party meets heads upstairs to meet Raphael, but the devil has nothing to say about Astarion’s infernal scar. Instead, Raphael offers to give them a Hammer to destroy Orpheus’s prison, in exchange for the Elder Brain’s Crown. Tavi considers, but refuses, because Gale expressed interest in the crown. The Emperor grows suspicious. Scorecard: Level=9, Camps=45, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=21, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

142. Fraygo's Flophouse. 1:16:55. Sunday, 17 September. (Tactician.) A mostly non-combat episode. Kira the Cat. Searching the Stern Librarian’s Room. Barging in on The Nymph’s Grotto, and fighting a Mindflayer in disguise. Searching Fraygo’s Flophouse. Astarion talks to a pair of vampire spawn, and learns Cazador is planning a Black Mass underneath his palace. Playing music to distract a guard. Reading Ffion the Stern Librarian’s diary. The party finds a secret room with a list of Bhaalist murder targets, evidence of a Bhaalist plot, and the murdered body of Ffion, killed by her own son. Investigator Valeria gives us a pass so we can enter the Lower City and report to Gauntlet Devella. Mamzell Amira rewards Tavi with a free gift. Scorecard: Level=9, Camps=45, Trysts=3, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=21, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

143. Ironhand Gnomes. 54:11. Sunday, 17 September. (Tactician.) A non-combat episode. A free visit with drow sister Nym Orlith, which is luckily suitable enough for YouTube. Hoots’s special drink. A cave where the Ironhand Gnomes are hiding out, last seen breaking out of Moonrise Tower Prison. They give us a massive Runepowder bomb and want us to destroy the Steel Watcher Foundry. Rivington General, where dragonborn Exxvipyap (seriously, that’s the name) pines for the missing blacksmith (who was killed by Orin, probably). The depressing graveyard behind the circus, where Fumm the doppleganger’s body is awaiting burial, so we can have a chat. More conversations and vendors on the South Span. Scorecard: Level=9, Camps=45, Trysts+1=4, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=21, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

144. Welcome to the Lower City. 58:15. Sunday, 17 September. (Tactician.) A non-combat episode. Just a whole lot of talking to background NPCs. Practically every NPC we see has a line or two of dialog from different voice actors. (We’ve come a long way since the days of Oblivion.) Carm’s Garms, a clothing shop. Danthelon’s Dancing Axe, where they sell weapons and armor. The Velveteen Elixir, where potions are sold. Remembering that we forgot to talk to Ffion’s corpse. Investigator Valeria’s pass allows the party to enter Wyrm’s Rock Fortress, where Gortash invites the party to his coronation, and Steel Watchers tell Karlach her infernal engine is obsolete and she should report to the Steel Watch Foundry for dismantling. The Lower City, which looks even more jam-packed with street NPCs than ever before. A gallows. A reporter tells us we’re going to be featured in the next issue of the Baldur’s Mouth Gazette. A Steel Watcher murdered a citizen. The Stormshore Tabernacle, a place of worship for all dieties. Gale reflects on the statue of Mystra. Tavi pays homage to Oghma, Patron of Bards, but it’s too expensive. Scorecard: Level=9, Camps=45, Trysts=4, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=21, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

145. Gortash's Coronation. 53:49. Sunday, 17 September. (Tactician.) A non-combat episode. Replacing Astarion with Shadowheart so she can pray to Selune at the Tabernacle. A dragonborn hawker praises the Steel Watch. The offices of the Baldur’s Mouth Gazette, where editor Ettvard Needle gleefully tells us about the propaganda hit piece they’re going to print so everyone will hate us tomorrow. Citizens gather to slander the Gazette. A broken Steel Watcher lies in the street. Then I realize the coronation of Gortash is actually taking place back in the Wyrm’s Rock Fortress, so the party backtracks and attends. Gortash wants to strike a deal with us to kill Orin, after which he’ll share power over Baldur’s Gate with us. As a token of his good faith, he warns us there’s a shapeshifter in our camp. The party returns to the Lower City and finds a sewer entrance. Scorecard: Level=9, Camps=45, Trysts=4, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=21, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

146. Sorcerer's Sundries. 1:03:25. Sunday, 17 September. (Tactician.) A non-combat episode. Nine-Fingers in the Guildhall under the city. She wants our help to deal with a rival and possible Absolutist called the Stone Lord. Back on the streets of the Lower City, keys and notes in postboxes. The murder scene of Franc Peartree. A poor tiefling kid whose parents were murdered right on the street that we can’t help. Sorcerer’s Sundries, and looking for Gale’s books on the Elder Brain crown, and the wizard Lorroakan, who wants us to deliver the Nightsong to him so he can imprison her and become immortal. Scorecard: Level=9, Camps=45, Trysts=4, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=21, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

147. Dame Aylin versus Lorroakan. 1:21:47. Sunday, 17 September. (Tactician.) Finally some combat again, the first real test of Act 3, and a return to the top of Sorcerer’s Sundries to help Dame Aylin deliver righteous punishment against Lorroakan for trying to imprison her again. Karlach goes down almost immediately after striking Lorroakan the first time because of his deadly Elemental Retribution linked to his four elemental Myrmidons, and a harsh lesson is learned that they have to be killed first. Tavi also goes down in the middle of a Vortex, and Gale dies and has to be revivified. Even Dame Aylin goes down, but strangely does not pop back up the next turn with 1 hit point like she always did before. But Shadowheart maintains her composure and the party emerges victorious. Dame Aylin is unsatisfied with the retribution. Something strange is going on with her. Scorecard: Level=9, Camps=45, Trysts=4, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies+1=22, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

148. Sorcerous Vaults. 1:18:55. Monday, 18 September. (Tactician.) A non-combat episode. After a short rest, and while the party is still in Sorcerer’s Sundries, they make their way into the Sorcerous Vaults, disarm about a thousand traps (making for quite boring gameplay and video content), and eventually find the Annals of Karsus, the Very Special Book that Gale needs to understand the Elder Brain Crown. They also find a book that will allow them to unlock the secrets of the other book, the Necromany of Thay, that Astarion has been reading. Leaving Sorcerer’s Sundries, the party finds Elminster standing outside, and he tells Gale that Mystra is waiting to commune with him at the Stormshore Tabernacle. There, Mystra tells Gale that if he returns the Elder Brain Crown to her, she will remove the nuclear orb from him. But, with the knowledge he gained from the book, he can control the Crown himself. It looks like all roads are leading to a difficult decision on what to do with the Elder Brain Crown at the end of the game. Raphael wants it, the Emperor wants it, Gale wants it, Mystra wants it, Orin wants it, Gortash wants it, and little old Tavi the Bongo Bard also secretly wants it. Meanwhile, there’s still about a thousand more quests to finish and places to explore and NPCs to talk to in the Lower City. Also, mysteriously, and possibly foreshadowy/spoilery, the game log told me that we killed Dame Aylin and she can’t help us in the final battle, even though she’s still standing there confused and uncertain at the top of Sorcerer’s Sundries waiting to return to camp. Incidentally, the game log also informed me that potential final battle ally Isobel is dead and gone, which I knew already. According to the game log, we aren’t doing very well at recruiting allies for the final battle. Scorecard: Level=9, Camps=45, Trysts=4, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=22, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

149. Elfsong Tavern. 54:06. Wednesday, 20 September. (Tactician.) A mostly non-combat episode. Getting a bit weary of this part of the game. It’s way too much talking to NPCs and wandering around not knowing what to do or where to go. At this point it’s pretty easy to see past the curtain to know that 95% of the bystander NPCs in the city deliver exactly one line of dialog that’s unrelated to anything and that’s it, but you still have to click on every one just in case something different happens, because sometimes it does. Anyway. Continuing on without a rest, because Tavi still has a Rapture buff (and also some debuff), the party enters the Elfsong Tavern, where Gauntlet Devella is investigating the murder of Duke Stelmane. We were supposed to tell her about the Bhaal conspiracy, but for some reason the game doesn’t let me. Still a lot of weird bugs in this game, folks. Otherwise, losing a comedy duel, talking to a bunch of people, and cats, and killing swarms of rats in the basement, which was hardly a bother, even without most of our spell slots. The Emperor wants the party to investigate his old hideout in the basement, but there are githyanki hanging out there, and I didn’t want to risk a fight with a level 11 githyanki paladin and lots of friends before a long rest. Scorecard: Level=9, Camps=45, Trysts=4, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=22, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

150. Orin's Ultimatum. 47:13. Saturday, 23 September. (Tactician.) A non-combat episode. Patch #3 4.1.1.3732833. The party tries to investigate an alleged murder at Candulhallow’s Tombstones, but can’t get in from the streets. Returning to the sewers to look for an underground entrance, they find a new path to the Emperor’s old hideout, but the party still doesn’t want to fight githyanki yet. Then the party is surprised when a battered and bloodied Yenna appears from a doorway, claiming to be chased. But it’s Orin in disguise again, and she’s kidnapped the real Yenna. She’s going to kill Yenna if Tavi doesn’t kill the Chosen Gortash and bring his Netherstone to her afterward, where they will then fight to the death for the last one. Orin’s a bit murder-happy, even if it’s her own. Then the party stumbles on some Bhaalists killing refugees, but can’t intervene for fear of Yenna getting killed. The party begins camping, and Tavi changes her hair with the new Magic Mirror, but once again, the cruel fickle mistress Shadowheart doesn’t pay any attention to Tavi. (I mean I complimented her new hair!) Dame Aylin leaves to help a Selunite enclave near Baldur’s Gate, but promises to return for the final battle. The game journal informs me that our reputation will be ruined the next day because we didn’t stop the propaganda hit piece from being printed (how were we supposed to do that?). Scorecard: Level=9, Camps=45, Trysts=4, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=22, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

151. When Vampires Attack. 41:13. Saturday, 23 September. (Tactician.) The party finally goes to sleep for a long rest, but they’re interrupted by four level 11 Vampires attacking Astarion. They need him as the seventh for Cazador’s Black Mass ceremony. Astarion refuses and it’s a fight to the death. Undeath. Second death. Whatever. Anyway, despite having limited spell slots from an incomplete rest, the vampires are killed with relative ease thanks mainly to Tavi’s crowd control spells. Incidentally, Astarion is a horrible fighter when the AI controls him, he didn’t fire a single sneak attack shot the entire fight. Scorecard: Level=9, Camps+1=46, Trysts=4, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=22, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

152. The Old Garlow Place (Level 10). 1:11:00. Sunday, 24 September. (Tactician.) The party continues the seemingly endless exploration of Baldur’s Gate, a city full of distracting NPCs but little questing. The Baldur’s Mouth Gazette published a hit piece overnight, and now everyone thinks Tavi is a criminal and delights in pointing it out. The party barges into the Old Garlow Place and busts up a Dead Eyes gang of thugs, who are apparently associated with the Stone Lord, Ninefingers’ rival. The party reaches level 10 from the effort. Scorecard: Level=10, Camps=46, Trysts=4, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=22, Resurrections=8, Reloads=52 (for Bug=5, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

153. Counting House and the Blushing Mermaid. 52:56. Sunday, 24 September. (Tactician.) A non-combat episode. Continuing endless exploration of the Lower City. The Counting House bank, where we’re somehow supposed to enter a Vault for Ninefingers, but I had no desire to try to break into that place through all the puzzles and door codes, when the sneaking mechanics in the game are not that great. Then, the Blushing Mermaid, a tavern where exactly nothing interesting happens. Lots of messages in mailboxes. Scorecard: Level=10, Camps=46, Trysts=4, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=22, Resurrections=8, Reloads+1=53 (for Bug+1=6, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

154. Rescuing Volo. 1:03:55. Sunday, 24 September. (Tactician.) Heading toward what looked like it might have been a factory building that could have been a Steel Foundry (it wasn’t), the party stumbles onto Volo the Bard and Amatuer Surgeon being held by an angry mob by the docks. I don’t know this for sure, but I assume it’s another illusion of choice situation and all dialog options would have led to the same outcome: A fight. My choice certainly did. The party wins and rescues Volo from the explosive barrels (thanks to a Misty Step and a Dimension Door from Shadowheart), but there’s some tension because even at level 10 against level 8 enemies, Gale, Shadowheart, and Tavi all freakishly die before the end, leaving only Karlach to finish off the thugs by herself. Three revivifications later, the party goes on to witness a funeral rite at the Wavemother Temple, and promises to help deal with a metal beast leaking oil into the sea, which I assume is some kind of metaphor for oil spills being bad for the environment. Volo appears in camp, and gives us a book to help fight Orin. Scorecard: Level=10, Camps=46, Trysts=4, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies+3=25, Resurrections=8, Reloads=53 (for Bug=6, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

155. Lady Jannath's Estate pt 1. 1:26:29. Monday, 25 September. (Tactician.) The party stumbles into Lady Jannath’s Estate, where the recently-married artist Oskar is possessed (last seen in the Zhentarim hideout in Act 1, where I spent 600 gold to free him). The less said about Jannath’s Estate, the better. This part of the game was a horrible experience. Tedious, broken, confusing, unrewarding. The party runs from extremely annoying Poltergeists, but Karlach isn’t able to escape and has to be revivified back in camp. Scorecard: Level=10, Camps+1=47, Trysts=4, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies+1=26, Resurrections=8, Reloads=53 (for Bug=6, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

156. Lady Jannath's Estate pt 2. 1:36:47. Monday, 25 September. (Tactician.) Before leaving camp, Asterion finishes reading the Necromancy of Thay book, which was a big letdown. Then the party resumes trying to clear out poltergeists from Jannath’s Estate. The less said about Jannath’s Estate, the better. This part of the game was a horrible experience. Tedious, broken, confusing, unrewarding. The party makes it upstairs past the incredibly annoying Cursed Skulls to find a possessed portrait, but there’s still 6 more poltergeists in the basement that I don’t want to go anywhere near, and I still can’t figure out how to resolve this accursed, interminable Free The Artist quest. Scorecard: Level=10, Camps=47, Trysts=4, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=26, Resurrections=8, Reloads=53 (for Bug=6, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

157. Mystic Carrion. 53:49. Tuesday, 26 September. (Tactician.) Since Tavi ran out of lockpicks, the party returns to camp to fetch Astarion to open the chest at the top of Lady Jannath’s Estate, which contains a clue to the next part of the godforsaken Free The Artist quest. The party has to find a dude named Mystic Carrion, way far away on another part of the map. Of course, he won’t just do anything for free, and asks us to find his missing zombie Thrumbo before he’ll perform an exorcism for the artist. So it’s another long tedious search through the enormous sprawling city for me I guess. A zombie beggar tells us Thrumbo is near the beach. Also, stumbling on a wine tasting event and Cora, one of the potential victims on the Bhaalist hit list, which turns into a fight with level 8 dopplegangers. It was a fairly easy victory despite having no long or short rests recently, thanks to Astarion’s new ability to summon four ghouls at will, used for the first time, except Shadowheart got killed and had to be revivified. (If you don’t heal a downed player immediately on Tactitican difficulty, the enemies will target them for a fatality.) Using one of the only two remaining Revivify scrolls discovered or purchased since the start of the game. Then camp for a long rest, and I start to question why I’m still playing this game. Scorecard: Level=10, Camps+1=48, Trysts=4, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies+1=27, Resurrections=8, Reloads=53 (for Bug=6, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

158. Graveyard to the House of Grief. 1:01:17. Saturday, 30 September. (Tactician.) Hotfix #7 4.1.1.3735951. A non-combat episode. Wandering around the Lower City looking to see if there’s any possibility of resolving any more quests within my lifetime. There are still a ton of shops and areas in the Lower City I haven’t visited yet. The Graveyard, where another zombie gave us another clue on where to find Thrumbo. The Devil’s Fee, where a diabolist works. The actual Baldur’s Gate, where the Emperor warned us to stay away because we aren’t ready. The House of Grief, where Shadowheart’s Shar mates lie in wait and her parents are held captive, but I’m not ready to deal with that yet. Scorecard: Level=10, Camp1=48, Trysts=4, Bites=8, Gale=3, Murders=1; Tactician Revivifies=27, Resurrections=8, Reloads=53 (for Bug=6, Redo=9, TPK=24, Scum=13).

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