Travel: Lone House
To reach this location from your capital, follow these directions:
Southwest to reach landmark: A Ford Across the Skunk River
South (cross Skunk River)
This area might not appear until you reach it, but never fear, once you hit the node it’s on, you’ll be able to enter.
Clearing the Road of Bandits
When you arrive, you’ll hear a man whining in the distance… at least, if you pay attention to your text window at the bottom right of the screen. Anybody screaming that loudly can’t be all that hurt, but it’s something to keep in mind as you explore the area.
You’ll start out in the southwestern corner of the area, so just venture east along the southern end of the map, running along a dirt road that runs through the area. Eventually you’ll come across two bandits, who can to little but roll over and die when they’re confronted with the full might of your party. Further east you’ll find another group of bandits, including a Bandit Conjurer, but again, they should be no match for you and should require no special strategy to defeat. When this second group of bandits is dead, loot a chest near a corpse to find an Amulet of Agile Fists which… well, might appeal to a very limited selection of characters. As in almost none.
Traps off the Trail
Further east you’ll find an area transition. That being the case, it’s time for a change in direction. Note a sign along a fork in the road to the north which promises traps lurk ahead. Fun. Sure enough, venture up the trail to the north and you’ll spot [Perception 20] your first trap just off the road to the west. Disarm it [Trickery 20] and enjoy that juicy experience… a rather silly amount for such a trivial task, really.
Continue north and disarm a second trap, beyond which you’ll find the estate of Bartholomew Delgado, along with the man himself. First find [Perception 22] and disarm [Trickery 22] a trap along the front of his fence to the west, then head east of his house to find [Perception 7] some rocks you can loot for a Dwarven Helm Shard.
Bartering with Bartholomew
Once done, introduce yourself to the magically-adept hermit and chat a bit, if you must. He’s got little of interest to say, but he does sell a variety of interesting trinkets, including a Giantslayer’s Clasp (good against Trolls!), two Wands of Acid Arrow, and a number of arcane spell scrolls, including Hold Person, Fireball, Haste, Acid Arrow, Scorching Ray… and the humble Recipe: Kameberry Pie. It’s worth noting that most of these items are useful against Trolls. Curious thing, that.
When you’re done dealing with Bartholomew, continue north to his house and look a chest [Trickery 18] which contains two Scrolls of Acid Arrow and some baubles. Next venture northwest to find a barn which you can’t enter without a key, but you can disarm a trap on the ground nearby. Disarm it, then continue west from this barn to find another pair of traps [Perception 22] worth dealing with [Trickery 22]. From this second trap turn south to find a man named Waine standing amidst some trees, screaming for help.
This is the man whose screams caught your attention when you entered the area, and you might as well see what’s going on. Talk to him and, after he recovers what little courage he has, he’ll tell you a tale of explosive traps and the little merchant who was perhaps a bit too curious. Simply put, he had a close call with one of Bartholomew’s traps, and has been standing here screaming ever since. Apparently Bartholomew put too much faith in literacy.
Eventually, after much whining on Bartholomew’s part (and a bit of intense disdain from Amiri) you’ll be able to help this poor merchant through the power of dialogue. If you pick the [Neutral Evil] action, you’ll do nothing but convince him to stay put after which you’ll get nothing more out of him. Meanwhile, both Amiri [Chaotic Neutral] and Octavia [Neutral Good] have their own approaches that both successfully get Waine back to the road to the south in one piece. Pass a [Diplomacy 15] check and you can convince him the way back is free of traps, while an [Intimidate 10] check will offer a boot-propelled solution to his problem. The former option is a [Lawful Good] dialogue choice, while the latter is, somehow, a [Chaotic Good] choice.
If you picked Amiri’s [Chaotic Neutral] approach or the [Chaotic Good] choice, you can finish up with a [Chaotic Evil] dialogue option by talking to Waine again when he hits the main road to the south, sending him running off again. You can also tell him about the fate of his friend, Lesken. Seems that when it comes to a choice between wizard traps and bandits, traps are the safer option. Regardless of how you deal with Waine, no reward is forthcoming, but you can loot a chest [Perception 17] near two corpses to claim a Bastard Sword +1.
Speaking of bandits and wizard traps, there’s one more encounter worth dealing with in this area. First, the traps. There’s a pair of traps west of where Waine was standing, and another two to the southeast. All of these traps require a [Perception 22] check to spot, and a [Trickery 22] check to disarm, yet give less experience for dealing with them. Yet another trap [Perception 20], [Trickery 20] can be found to the northwest of where Waine stood, near some bandits.
Battling Well-Armed Bandits
Deal with the traps, then turn your attention to the bandits. While the other bandits you encountered in this area have been worthy of little more than your contempt, these ones are strong enough to give you trouble, if you just rush in and attempt to bully your way to victory. The Bandit Leader is incredibly well armored, boasting a fine Armor Class and being capable of dishing out more damage than he rightfully should be capable of dealing a feat in which he’s aided by drinking one of his Potions of Enlarge Person. On top of this threat, there’s a Bandit Alchemist safely tucked away behind some rocks, who will make your life hell if you let them chuck bombs at you for any length of time.
Haste, Slow, Bless and Prayer should decisively tip the odds in your favor, but the good old double Web strategy works fine here, too. In the latter case, keep your take equipped with melee weapons and up front, as you’ll want to draw missile fire to them. Have your archers target the alchemist first, then the bandit archers, then the lesser bandits. The Bandit Leader’s Armor Class is high enough to be troublesome, and he should be saved for last, as you’ll have a much greater chance of quickly eliminating his goons. If he escapes, lure him far enough away from your Web spells that you can safely encircle him, then engage in melee - against the full might of your party, he should die fairly quickly.
Defeat the bandits, then loot the Bandit Leader to find out what, exactly, made him such a tough nut to crack. The answer? His gear. He’ll leave behind a Masterwork Bastard Sword, a suit of Full Plate Mail, a Potion of Cure Serious Wounds, two Potions of Enlarge Person, a Belt of Mighty Constitution +2, Torag’s Pendant and the heavy shield Protector of the Unjust. This artifact is a Heavy Shield +2 that also gives its bearer a +2 Resistance bonus to Saving Throws. Furthermore, it imparts an additional +2 bonus to Armor Class and Saving Throws against outsiders of Lawful or Good alignment, and subsequently cannot be worn by Lawful or Good characters. Bad news for Valerie, but the shield will suit Harrim just fine.
Also be sure to loot a corpse near the bandits, as on it you’ll find a Wand of Fireball, 376 GP, an Amulet of Natural Armor +1 and a Shard of Knight’s Bracers, to just name the noteworthy loot. Maybe those bandits would have fared better had they equipped some of this stuff, eh? Oh well, their loss, your gain.
To finish up the area, head south along the western edge of the map and you’ll spot a branch you can loot, which is a fine way to end this area. While perhaps not as lucrative as the Ruined Watchtower area, you did score some fairly nice loot here, and disarming all the traps in that area should have earned you a hefty bit of experience.