Travel: The Menagerie
This quest should begin some time after dealing with the events at the "Pitax River Bend" area as part of the quest The River’s Justice. One of the three areas you’ll have to travel to in order to deal with Irovetti’s varied threats - in this case the beasts Irovetti is loosing on your kingdom - is "The Menagerie". Its location, starting at the Rushlight Fields, is as follows:
Dispatch the Troll Guards
When you arrive, venture northeast and you’ll find opposition in the form of several Troll Guards. Unfortunately, the cavern is just large enough to prevent you from bottlenecking them, so you’ll probably have to engage all of them at the same time. They get numerous attacks per round, but their Attack Bonus and damage aren’t worryingly high. They are, however, sporting armor, which gives them a significantly higher Armor Class than most Trolls you’ve fought thus far. On top of that, they’ve got an obscene amount of Hit Points (likely over 300 HP per troll), so while they’re not meat-grinders, they’ll persist for quite a while.
From here there are several directions you can go. If you head west you’ll find a smaller side-chamber, the north leads deeper into the cavern complex, while to the east there’s a gate and a slope you can slide down.
You probably don’t want to go down the aforementioned slope, as it puts you in a somewhat tricky fight against three Ancient Wyverns (many attacks per round, poison, a higher Attack Bonus and Armor Class than the armored trolls you fought earlier), after which you’ll end up in a disadvantageous position to fight another encounter.
If you go into the side-chamber to the west you may find Karga and Argadd - the stone troll children of Kargadd. Provided you allowed them to live, that is. They’ve got little to say right now, but you can search a pile of rocks to find a Token of the Dryad.
Through the gate to the east you’ll find the leader of this little operation, but again, there’s a better strategy for dealing that encounter, which involves going north, first.
Battle: Smith Overseer
That being the case, head north around a chasm until you find a Smith Overseer complaining about his lot in life. To the north of him are two armored trolls, and another waits to the northwest. You can approach fairly close without provoking any of them, which allows you to set the field. Keep your warriors wedged between the chasm and the nearby wall, then cast Phantasmal Web targeting the Smith. The trolls will have significant trouble resisting this spell, but the Smith has a good chance of making his Saving Throw. If you have the spellpower at your disposal, you can try to coordinate the simultaneous casting of Chains of Light and Phantasmal Web. It’s not guaranteed to work, but the Smith’s Reflex Save isn’t great.
Left to his own devices, the Smith will spellbuff himself with a variety of illusions, including Greater Invisibility, Displacement and Mirror Image. This will make him incredibly hard to hit, after which he’ll wade into combat, holding his own with these buffs, along with a decent Attack Bonus and Armor Class. That said, all his buffs can be ignored by your warriors if you cast True Sight on them ahead of time, which is encouraged if you’re having trouble with this guy. In any event, after your first spells go off, rush the Smith Overseer and try to cut him down, then focus on his minions.
After you’re victorious, loot the Smith Overseer for a Warhammer +1, a suit of Full Plate +2, a Belt of Giant Strength +4, a Headband of Vast Intelligence +2, an Amulet of Natural Armor +1, a Ring of Protection +1 and a Cloak of Resistance +2. You can also find some crates and sacks to loot in side-chambers to the north and west, but they contain little of interest.
What is interesting, however, is a route to the east that’ll lead to a larger chamber housing the mastermind of this operation. Note this route, as it could come in handy very shortly.
Return back south past the chasm and turn east to find a gate, which also leads to the mastermind’s lair. When you approach you’ll witness a scene where this aforementioned mastermind - a diminutive spellcaster named Nyrd Zottenropple - is busy teleporting monsters… presumably to your lands. He won’t teleport them all, unfortunately, leaving himself with two Troll Guards and two Ancient Wyverns - more than enough to occupy your warriors.
In combat, Nyrd Zottenropple will cast Mind Fog, lowering the Will Saves of your warriors, which already probably aren’t that great. Afterwards he’ll follow up by casting Dominate Person and Hideous Laughter, which can decisively turn the tide against you. It’s imperative that you don’t let him sit back and cast whatever spells he pleases, but charging through his minions is a less than ideal tactic, too. Spells, then, may prove to be your salvation, if employed properly, and this will be made much easier if you can facilitate a two-pronged assault.
The gate in front of you is your primary obstacle, being locked [Trickery 40]. If you can get it open, however, you’ll make this fight much easier. Spellbuff to the max, open the gate, then send a caster around to the northern entrance to the cavern. Keep this lone caster out of sight until combat begins, which you should provoke with your main party to the south. Bottleneck your foes at the gate to give you better odds against the large, dangerous beasts employed by Nyrd. Fortunately the monsters are too dumb to use the northern exit, and all will pool around the gate to the south.
When the monsters are clear of the northern entrance to the chamber, run forward with your northern caster and target Nyrd. Baleful Polymorph will again come in handy, as his Fortitude Save is low enough to make him quite vulnerable. His Armor Class against Ranged Touch Attacks also isn’t great, giving you a good chance of hitting with Disintegrate. The former will take Nyrd out of the fight in one go, while the latter will seriously wound him, and two should take him out… obviously varying quite a bit depending on whether he saves and/or if your character lands a critical hit or botch the attack roll. A caster with a +5 bonus to their primary casting attribute (a very conservative amount at this level) should have around a 50% chance of these working… give or take.
If you can’t get the southern gate unlocked (you should have a +20 Trickery skill check by now, making it a matter of luck…) you’ll just have to adopt a messier approach. Muster up at the northern entrance, hit the two trolls with Phantasmal Web, then rush into melee against them. Move a caster around the northern edge of the cavern to the east and try to take your spell-shots at Nyrd from this vantage. Once he’s dealt with, you may want to retreat into the narrower tunnel to the west, which makes for a fine bottleneck.
After Nyrd is neutralized, you’re looking at a straight melee battle which you should be able to win. Bottle-necking the enemies and spellbuffing (aided by the odd Heal spell and perhaps some offensive magics of your own) should suffice. Just be sure to retreat with your northern caster after dealing with Nyrd, as the beasties may get restless and start sniffing up that direction. If they start to look like they might flank you, use Web (or similar spells) to discourage their movement, or at worse, summons to buy yourself more time. Spells like Hold Monster and Chains of Light should have some chance of affecting the monsters, although you shouldn’t expect the Wyverns to be deterred for long.
Defeat your opponents, the relieve Nyrd of his worldly possessions, including a Belt of Mighty Constitution +2, a Headband of Vast Intelligence +4, an Amulet of Natural Armor +2, a Ring of Protection +2 and a Cloak of Resistance +2. As with the Smith Overseer, Nyrd has his own little cubby hollowed out to the east. In his private chamber you’ll find a chest and a dresser you can loot, the former of which contains the Unbound Blade. If you’re a long-suffering Longsword user, your deliverance is at hand, as this is a Longsword +4 with the "Shock" property which also grants its wielder a +4 bonus on Saving Throws against mind-affecting effects.
With Nyrd dead, Irovetti’s beast threat will be neutralized. There’s still more to do in this cavern if you wish to secure every bit of possible experience, however.
Battle: Ancient Wyverns
South of the cavern where Nyrd practiced his foul magics you’ll find a slope leading down to another cavern. Here dwell three Ancient Wyverns, this being the chamber you could have dropped down into earlier. From this vantage, however, you can make use of the slope to bottleneck your foes instead of fighting them one at a time. Not only that, fighting Nyrd was arguably easier if you attacked from the west, as it gave you ample opportunity to neutralize him with magic without exposing your caster to monsters… or at the very least, it allowed you to use Phantasmal Web on the more vulnerable trolls instead of immediately having to contend with Ancient Wyverns.
Anyways, the fight with these wyverns is a pure melee battle on their end. With spellbuffs and bottlenecking you should come out victorious, especially if you flavor your attack with the odd debuff and offensive spell. When they’re dead, search to the northwest of the slope you presumably came down to find a pile of rocks [Perception 10] hiding a Token of the Dryad, while along the eastern end of the cavern you may find [Perception 38] a secret passage.
This secret passage is well worth finding, as it leads to a hidden chamber. Inside you’ll find a crate which holds a Ring of Blur (a fantastic item that permanently endows its wearer with the namesake spell - a permanent 20% concealment is great for any front-liner), and a variety of spell scrolls, including a Scroll of Firebrand, a Scroll of Ki Shout, a Scroll of Invisibility, Mass a Scroll of Horrid Wilting and a Scroll of Polar Ray. A larger stack of crates paradoxically holds a smattering of gems and a handful of coins. Oh well, they all can’t be winners.
When you’re done with this area, make your way back to the Rushlight Fields area and from there follow the directions to another of Irovetti’s staging grounds (War of the River Kings - River Blades’ Camp or War of the River Kings - Littletown). On the other hand, if this was the last of the three threats you needed to neutralize, skip ahead to the page The Path of the Dreams. On the other hand, if this was the last of the three threats you needed to neutralize, skip ahead to the page The Path of the Dreams.