Notes about this guide to be aware of before reading further:

1) One of the main values of this guide is the level of detail that goes into
   revealing certain game mechanics and the benefits of good planning, both for
   items and character building.  Otherwise, there are other guides that deliver
   much of the information you will find here in a more condensed format.  This
   guide uses a conversational style.  If this is not your preference, stop reading
   now - this guide won't deliver what you want.

2) An assumption is made that the reader is proficient with AD&D 3.5 rules and, by
   extension, NWN2 game mechanics and character design.  Also, that the reader has
   played the Original Campaign before - otherwise a lot of what is written here may
   go over your head.

3) With the possible exception of the Construct Patch (explained later in this
   guide), it is further assumed the player is using the vanilla v1.23 of the game,
   without other patches or enhancements that alter game mechanics (e.g. Kaedrin's).

4) As a matter of necessity, this guide is loaded with spoilers.

5) This guide is designed for the absolute minimum lowest level of play until
   shortly after the beginning of ACT III or, at a minimum, until Zhjaeve is
   acquired in ACT II.  This can mean a lot of grind and re-load for optimal
   results.  For me, this resulted in very slow play to plan things out and record
   them here.  It also meant re-doing most parts (sometimes more than once) as I
   discovered errors, incorrect assumptions, and interesting facts that sometimes
   changed things in ways I didn't expect.  Playing this way allowed me to achieve
   precise customization and power for my entire party.  However, this goal was only
   fully realized in the final act of the game.  If this style is not your
   preference (and I'm prety sure it's not for most), or you know being extremely
   granular and detail oriented is not your kind of thing, save yourself the
   disappointment and stop reading now - little of this guide will interest you.

6) Constructing and revising this guide took over a year of gameplay and research.
   Constructive criticism is welcome, with emphasis on the word "constructive".  If
   you have useful suggestions or corrections to make, I welcome these comments.  
   If, on the other hand, you intend to troll, disparage, insult or otherwise create
   trouble, your comments and/or changes will be edited/erased as needed.  If in
   doubt, remember T.H.I.N.K:
   Is it True?
   Is it Helpful?
   Is it Interesting?
   Is it Necessary?
   Is it Kind?

7) To effectively implement my goals here, I have borrowed proven ideas and plans
   from several sources (in some cases drawing them out further and improving on
   them) to assemble this guide.  Where significant (and where I remember to), I
   will acknowledge this and provide URL's. If you think you've read a variation on
   something I've written here before, chances are you have.  Part of my intention
   was to make this guide largely self-contained.  Most outside information
   incorporated here came from three sources, in order of use:
   A) http://nwn2.wikia.com/   (which is why this guide should only be found here)
      ***It is also worth pointing out many of the notes I have in this guide were
      incorporated into the NWN2 wiki by me before (or as) I added them here***
   B) http://www.gamebanshee.com/neverwinternights2/walkthrough/  ***this guide does
      not appear to have been updated in some time, but I find it highly useful***
   C) http://gq-game-mods.blogspot.com/2011/05/neverwinter-nights-2-walkthrough-
      11b.html  ***the best Crossroad Keep money guide I've ever seen***
   If you find a source you believe I haven't given credit to, please let me know.
   If I find it is the case, I'll make the changes here.  

9) Keeping number 8 in mind, I made no money - directly or indirectly - from writing
   this guide; its sole purpose is to enhance game experience for those who choose
   to implement any of the methods I describe here.

************************************************************************************
            WHY WRITE YET ANOTHER NWN2 GUIDE?  AREN'T THERE ENOUGH NOW?
************************************************************************************
As indicated above, this guide isn't designed for most NWN2 players.  My main
reason for starting the construction of this guide was a response to the frustration
of acquiring companions where automatic leveling often nerfed their potential;
specifically - the selection of skills and feats.  Sand, Zhjaeve and Ammon Jerro
were the ones that bothered me most, but you may have your greivances here as well.
If you do, at least some of this guide's strategy may be for you.  By testing (and
abusing) the boundaries of the experience and money mechanics of the game I sought
to answer two questions, without cheating:
   ONE)    What if I could have all of my companions shaped to my preferences,
    literally from their lowest possible levels - how different and more
    effective could they really be? (a lot, I found).
   TWO)    What would things look like if I almost always got the best wealth results
    out of every outcome where loot has a stochastic component, with nearly
    perfect execution in planninga and without using a hacking tool or in-game
    console? (very little, I found).

The overall goal of the method of play I documented here was to get as much gold and
power and as possible, while staying within the confines of what the game can give
or do by its own design (or lack thereof). No character editors are used, no custom
content is brought into the game, nor are the most blatant bugs/exploits in the game
that yield unlimited gold or XP utilized.

The game is merely pushed to the limits of what it can deliver (and allow you to
craft) and the greatest amount of flexibility with sculpting your companions to your
liking, albeit at expense of time and saving/reloading the game at numerous points.

Specific goals sought by this guide are:

1) Craft, find or buy the best possible items for use as early as possible.  This
   also means getting as much gold, gems and crafting reagents as you can, as early
   as you can - particularly before the trial in ACT II.  The two main parts of this
   power grab are:
   a) From crafting & selling, earn as much gold as you're willing to spend time on
   b) When there is a stochastic component to loot generation from monster spawns
      and opening chests (and there usually is), get the best loot you can from them
      that the game has to offer, without reloading for these results beyond what
      you can tolerate

2) Build the most powerful companions from the earliest levels possible, with best
   best gear you can buy and craft as indicated above.

3) Earn the highest possible influence with companions you want, with a focus on:
   a) Preventing Elanee from leaving the party after fighting the Circle of the Mere
   b) Preventing Bishop and Neeshka from turning on the party at the end of the game
   c) Allowing for the option of preventing Qara from defecting at the end of the
      game (at the expense of losing Sand, if the player decides to earn more
      influence with Qara than Sand).
   d) Allowing for the option of completing Khelgar's quest to become a Monk, if the
      player decides to let him do so (minimum influence of 10 needed)

************************************************************************************

The above goals are accomplished by:
1) Saving often and in discrete steps, so if a mistake is made you can go back only
   as far as neccessary

2) Earning as little XP as possible in ACT I and II while not:
   a) Breaking important plot/storylines, which may cause issues with gameplay later
   b) Missing opportunities to buy/sell from key merchants
   c) Missing valuable or crucial items wherever they may be found, unless they
      lead to too much XP being gained too early during ACT I.  In such cases they
      were delayed (if possible) or skipped (if necessary).

3) Playing your PC and (usually) your companions in puppet mode to keep your PC at
   sufficient distance from monster kills.  Being far enough away when your
   companions kill an opponent allows you and your companions to skip any XP that
   would otherwise be gained.  If both you and your companions are far enough away
   this also usually means you can rest, because game mechanics reflect there are no
   enemies nearby.  If non-companion actors (or companions not in your party yet)
   land the killing blow on opponents you won't get XP, no matter then distance of
   the opponent(s) from you.

4) Adding companions at their lowest possible levels to most efficiently tailor
   their statistics, skills, spells and feats to your preferred purposes and styles.

   The execution of goal 4 is summarized as follows:
   a) Getting Sand before level 6 so he may obtain the Empower Spell feat at level 6
      and be able to Craft Magic Arms & Armor (via the feat) by level 10
   b) Getting Zhjaeve before level 9 so she may get the Craft Magic Arms & Armor
      and Craft Wondrous Item feats by levels 9 and 12, respectively.  Also to plan
      for acquisition of the Extend Spell and Persistent Spell feats - useful for
      her and the rest of the party later on
   c) Getting the Construct before level 8 so it can acquire the Whirlwind Attack
      feat by level 12.  This isn't really necessary because of the work involved,
      but I chose to do it once so I could see how it worked out (I found it didn't
      make much of a differnce).
   d) If you can manage it (and are able to get plenty of XP in ACT III) getting
      Ammon Jerro before level 12 so he can acquire the feats of Shield Proficiency,
      Combat Expertise and Improved Combat Expertise.  Theese feats allow for him to
      develop the highest possible AC.  Getting Ammon at such a low level is not
      recommended for most players, but if you play a Hellfire Warlock like I did,
      have at it and reap the rewards of a very high Armor Class for him as a
      result.

   The more in depth reasoning behind goal four is explained below:

   The earliest companions can be obtained in ACT I is level three - except for
   Bishop, who can be recruited at level four.  Generally, this means the best
   philosophy during ACT I & II is to view XP as a penalty to be avoided whenever
   possible (or demonstrably prudent to do so, given the returns).  More
   importantly, this means recruiting Sand and Shandra at level five when they join
   the party at the start of ACT II.  Also, to recruit Ammon Jerro before level 15,
   just after the PC is knighted in ACT III.

   Getting the PC's companions at such low levels is a very tedious undertaking,
   often exacting and increasingly difficult as you progress through ACT I and II.
   Still it is doable with proper planning (especially with the right gear).  It can
   also be strangely satisfying to defeat opponents, complete quests and (most
   importantly) pick up companions at levels lower than you would have imagined
   possible without using an editor, and almost certainly at lower levels than the
   game designers intended.

   The noted exceptions for acquiring companions in this way are Zhjaeve and Ammon
   Jerro, who are recruited in the middle of ACT II and beginning of Act III,
   respectively.  Here, the only necessity is acquiring Zhjaeve before she is level
   12 to ensure she gets the feats Craft Magic Arms & Armor and Craft Wondrous Items
   by level 15.  However if you recruit her before level 9 as I did, you can get
   both of these feats by level 12 and plan for acquisition of the Extend Spell and
   Persistent Spell feats, useful for her and the rest of the party later on.

   If you are willing to subject yourself to the near-zero XP model all the way
   through ACT II as well, then you can acquire Ammon Jerro before level 12.  This
   allows you to level him up with the highly useful feats of Combat Expertise,
   Improved Combat Expertise and Shield Proficiency (in that order), which leads to
   his having an AC that can be up to 13 higher than foregoing all these feats.

   Therefore you may choose to apply the philosophy of low-to-no XP only until you
   acquire Zhjaeve, and possibly the Construct, in the middle of ACT II.  Indeed,
   there are several arguments to be made only going so far with the low-to-no XP
   model of gameplay:
   a) Minimizing XP through almost half of the game is punishing enough
   b) The game only has 3 acts - and most of the game is done by the end of ACT II
   c) It has diminished value after ACT I since by then it affects only two NPCs
      who, because of their class types, can change their selection of available
      spells and don't need or benefit nearly as much from early level tailoring.
      This is especially the case if you get Sand before level 6, and Zhjaeve before
      level 9, to satisfy crafting feat requirements early on in their level
      progression.
   d) Unless you're playing a Hellfire Warlock, there are almost no opportunities to
      earn unlimited amounts of experience in ACT III.  So if you recruit Ammon
      Jerro at level 11, you'll want to do a lot of leveling as quickly as possible
      the moment you recruit him.
   e) Everything will cost more in ACT II, primarily because:
      1) you won't get Grobnar's inspire confidence inspiration past +4 playing this
     way before you leave ACT II (level 19 is needed for +6)
     *AND*
      2) you'll probably be low enough level that you can't make use of the spell
     Greater Heroism
      These two factors have a +4 impact on the appraise skill, making the buying
      and selling of everything that much more expensive.  More information on this
      is soon found below.   

   Because I wanted to push the limits of the game's potential, especially with
   companions, I pressed on with the low-to-no XP route anyway - all the way until I
   recruited Ammon Jerro at level 11 in ACT III - to prove it could be done (you
   can actually get Ammon at level 10, and I will never do *that* with him again).

5) Wherever possible, find and buy the materials/components needed to craft
   powerful items for character use (and/or sell later, depending on the need).
   Sometimes this means foregoing what might otherwise be more valuable items in
   the short term.

6) For all of ACT I and ACT II, until you get to Port Llast, use the following
   strategy: when opening Chests and other objects that spawn one or more item types
   of varying seed-level ranges (which is most of them), continuing to do so until
   the player gets keys items or the top tier combination of possible yields for
   the kind of items it's capable of generating:
   a) If the object can yield gems and/or essence components, continue to re-load
      the game until the reasonably best outcomes for crafting or selling later are
      found (i.e. the top 95%).  This often means a special focus on gems that are
      used for crafting or enchanting such as diamonds, emeralds or beljurils,
      rather than opting for straight gold or magic items.  Diamonds also have good
      resale value, even if not used for enchanting.  The point is adhereing to the
      overall goal of aiming for what has the greatest potential yield of gold,
      magic items, or enhancement/enhancement of items in the long run.
   b) To the extent that they can be randomly seeded, it's crucial to get essence
      components and rare crafting gems (such as blue diamonds, beljurils and king's
      tears), more than almost any other item in the game.
      Other items are usually secondary in importance and can often be bought or
      crafted later on.  Perfected choking powder, for example, is an easy (if not
      tedious) money-maker that can be crafted in unlimited quantities once you get
      to Port Llast in ACT II - for as little as 80 gold.  It can the be sold for as
      much as 295 gold.  Since your capacity to earn gold in this way is only
      limited by the amount of time you want to spend on it, this makes scraping for
      gold by other methods very unproductive by comparison.
      ****OPTIONAL STEPS - ONLY PARTS "A" and "B" ABOVE ARE REALLY USEFUL****
   c) If traps exist on and/or adjacent to the object, they are recovered (if
      possible), not disabled, so they can be sold or used later
   d) If the object can yield higher value trap-crafting components in addition to
      gems or other items, continuing to re-load the game until the best ones for
      crafting to sell later are found (again, the top 95% of outcomes).  
      I eventually found the three most valuable traps to sell are, in order of
      decreasing value: 1) choking powder for gas traps  2) alchemist's fire for
      fire traps and then 3) an acid flask and tanglefoot bag for acid blob traps.
      This usually meant hoping for choking powder as an accompaniment to any
      top-value gems that could be generated, at least until magic wands become an
      option for generated loot.
      For example, while I always hoped for a combination of alexandrite and choking
      powder with most objects that could randomly seed them during the earlier
      parts of ACT I, it would also be nice to get two greenstones and a choking
      powder or two, or a garnet and 2 choking powders, or a garnet and choking
      powder and alchemists fire.
   e) If I knew an object could yield a high value gem and another very valuable
      item together, such as an emerald and magic wand (especially two wands, with
      one of them being a wand of arcane disjuncture, if I was very lucky) I would
      usually keep loading up to 100 times (this was usually my limit) until that
      combination of items spawned, because in it could mean having an extra 1000
      gold or more - far more than good trap components coming along with an
      alexandrite.  This allowed for the ability to buy very good gear once I
      reached the city of Neverwinter in ACT I.  I don't think anyone else would
      care to go to these extremes as I did and I'll never do that again to such an
      extreme.  
      In retrospect, I found it's not really necessary to pursue anything more than
      rare gems and the belts of agility that you can (rarely) obtain with repeated
      reloads.  I pursued this strategy during ACT I and part of ACT II in part to
      demonstrate you can get by to ACT II without buying anything.  I also did it
      (only once) until I realzied how much money you can get once unlimited
      crafting of high quality items becomes available in ACT II, making my extreme
      money making strategy a waste of time.

7) Buying and selling with the highest possible appraise skill ranking.  Usually,
   this is best done near the end of ACT I and II, when the PC's appraise skill can
   be enhanced as much as possible.  Buffing the appraise skill was especially
   important for me because I never invested skill points in it.  With rare
   exceptions during Act I only, I traded only when Grobnar's Inspire Competence
   inspiration was active.  Until ACT II it usually enhanced Appraise by +2.  

   Assuming your PC has the Merchant's Friend feat, it has been my observation that
   every one point increase in Appraise results in approximately a 1.55% increase in
   gold paid for items you sell and a 1.0388% discount in prices for items you buy
   (for most merchants anyway).  Appraise can be further enhanced up to +10 during
   gameplay by use of the following items and/or spells:

   A) Luckstone            +1
   B) Headband of Intellect +1 to +4 (based on INT enhancement of +2 to +8)
   C) Greater Heroism        +4 (Bard 5, Sorcerer/Wizard 6)
   D) Prayer            +1 (Cleric spell lvl 3) If you have a cleric of
                    sufficient level in your party, don't forget to use
                this spell

                **AS AN ALTERNATIVE**

   a) Heroism            If your spellcaster(s) of choice can't cast Greater
                Heroism yet, use this lesser version for a +2 skill
                increase (Bard 2, Sorcerer/Wizard 3)
   b) Fox's Cunning        If you don't have a headband of intellect that is strong
                enough, use this spell for a +4 INT boost instead
                (Cleric/Bard/Sorcerer/Wizard 2)

   Of course, if you don't have Grobnar and/or Zhjaeve or some of these other
   money-saving effects yet, you'll have to make do with what you have.  However,
   with rare exceptions, you should be able to avoid buying almost anything until
   ACT II and should only sell to the three merchants at the end of ACT I that
   don't carry over to ACT II.

   I usually won't mention containers that have only fixed rewards unless they could
   easily be missed or circumstances require proper handling or planning to obtain
   them.  Having said this, I recorded the best loot outcomes I obtained from the
   multiple re-loads of opening containers in ACT I and a lot of ACT II so the
   reader could see what is (theoretically) possible to get from them.

For the record, I play the game in Hardcore mode where all regular rules of the
pen-and-paper game 3.5 rules are in effect.

####################################################################################
                                        ACT I
####################################################################################

  West Harbor (during tutorial/festival)
      Get Daeghun's furs and trade with Galen for the duskwood bow but skip all
    other aspects of the tutorial; doing so allows you to keep Daeghun's +1 bow
    for free and skip the extra 500XP the tutorial gives, although you lose the
    harvest cloak and cup in the process.  Proceed to the West Harbor battles
    starting with 3000xp.

  West Harbor - under attack
    How you choose to level up Amie deson't really matter since she doesn't live
    long enough for it to make a much of a difference.  Bevil is another matter.      Unless you're playing a rouge or rogue-like bard, be sure to level him with
    open lock (along with choosing skill specialization in open-lock), disable
    device and sleight-of-hand.  These choices will allow him to open many locks
    and disable/recover traps for more gold and item.  It also allows him to
    steal an Amethyst from his mother Rita before you acquire Neeshka as a
    companion.

    Farlong house
    Kill the dwarf on right for his +1 club & Phenalope (easily worth dealing
    with the 18XP). The desk gave me an alexandrite, choking powder and acid
    flask.

    Pierson's House
    The locked chest contained an alexandrite, choking powder and potion of cure
    light wounds.  The desk by the bed gave choking powder, holy water and
    thieves' tools +3.  The basket had a garnet, choking powder and thieves'
    tools +3.

    Tarmas' House
    His cabinet has trap that can be disabled but not recovered (bug?), it gave
    an alexandrite, a potion of lore and thieves' tools +3.
 
    Burning Barn
    A barrel gave two greenstones, choking powder and thunderstone.
    Speak to Georg which starts the start recruiting process for village
    defense for 50xp.  Speaking to Tarmas after Aime dies got me 29xp.
    Recruiting the 5 required soldiers earned 250xp total, for 3347xp so far.

    Starling home
    You can save Bevil's younger siblings and avoid XP by not speaking to the
    kids before you leave the Starling home.  Fight with Bevil and your PC at
    diagonal opposites in the home. Have Bevil in the main room with the Duergar
    and the PC by the exit to the Starling home.  With use of thieves' tools +3
    Bevil can unlock the Armoire in which were 2 greenstones, choking powder,
    thieves' tools +1 & +3 and 5 bullets.  The desk gave an alexandrite.  The
    chest had a +1 dagger, potion of cure light wounds, a healer's kit +1, two
    greenstones, thieves' tools +3, and choking powder.  If you leveled up Bevil
    with slight of hand, he can steal an Amethyst from his mother Rita before he
    leaves.
    Once West Harbor's attackers are defeated you get 150xp (3497 total).

    Swamp Ruins interior
    A crate in the room just south of the Lizard Chief had 2 low level scrolls
    and 2 choking powders.
    A room with a chest and a crate had the chest yielding 2 holy waters &
    choking powder, while the crate contained 2 potions of cure light wounds, an
    alexandrite and choking powder.
    The south end of the ruins had a crate with 2 potions of cure light wounds,
    an alexandrite and choking powder.
    The crates by the lizard chief and the first shard had 5 throwing axes, 2
    choking powders and a scroll of cure minor wounds.
    Somewhere along the way I picked up an extra 50xp, bringing me to 3547
    total.

    Weeping Willow Inn - get Khelgar as companion at level 3
    When you first meet Khelgar outside the Inn he will not be in your party
    yet; simply stand back and allow him to kill the brawlers himself.  Once
    inside, immediately save and leave the Inn.  Re-enter and only save again
    when the Duergar have surrounded the patrons, either in corners or out of
    your walking path and away from the Inn owner/merchant.  Like Khelgar when
    you first meet him, the patrons are plot characters and can be damaged but
    can't be killed; they can occupy the Duergar, literally, forever.
    Once upstairs you'll see Gera.  Ignore her and send your PC to the corner
    next to her.  Have Khelgar run around, gathering the Duergar.  Once they've
    all cast enlarge spells he can lead them into the room where Galen and his
    sellswords are.  It's tricky to do this because they have to be kept close
    enough to Khelgar so they don't run after your PC along the way, but without
    them killing him before they are all in the room with Galen's guards.
    Once they're in the room with Galen his guards (who are invincible plot
    characters at this point) will cheerfully slay the Duergar for you, yielding
    no experience in the process.

    Once the Duergar (and very likely Khelgar) are dead, rest and then repeat
    the process with the Bladelings in the room where Zachan is.  Once all the
    enemies are gone, speak with Galen for the gold, then Gera to start her
    quest.  Offer to save Zachan with no reward to earn +1 influence with
    Khelgar.  Don't open any chests or rescue Zachan yet because this will
    prevent Neeshka from opening containere here for better loot later.
        Instead, leave for the path to the Swamp Cave and watch Galen's guards
    dispatch some lizard men.  Once they're dead, antagonize the guards for +1
    influence with Khelgar (2 total) and leave for Fort Locke.  You can come
    back later once you have Neeshka and Elanee for the better loot because
    Neeshka can pick open all the locked chests (instead of bashing them) for
    better results.

  Path to Fort Locke - get Neeshka as companion at level 2
    Kill the wolves near the start of the path first, then the ones on the way
    to Neeshka.  Leave Galen and his turncoat guards for now.  Once the opening
    conversation involving Neeshka is done, have the PC run away back down the
    path towards Galen while Khelgar leads any soldiers to Neeshka.  Since she
    hasn't been recruited at this point, Neeshka is considered a plot character
    and as such can't be killed.  Left to her own devices she'll eventually
    kill all of the corrupt soldiers - with no XP.  You can speed up the process
    by injuring the soldiers with ranged attacks, just be sure Neeshka lands the
    killing blows.

    A note about Neeshka: now that she's in your party you might be tempted to
    steal from everyone you can that is available so far.  But unless you're
    stealing to get very specific gear (e.g. the Blade of the Gladiator from
    Repko the Weaponsmith), you might want to wait until Grobnar is in your
    party and has his inspire confidence inspiration active.  You'll have an
    easier time with it this way, although it does mean going back again.

  Fort Locke
    Just outside Fort Locke to the West is a corpse that gave me 17 arrows and
    an alexandrite.  Speak with Marshal Cormick first, then Liza and Vallis for
    their quests.  After speaking with Liza, Neeshka will disclose the location
    of the bandit camp.  Suggest to go there and loot it for +1 influence.
    Don't speak with Tor Millows; you don't want his quest or XP.  Once this is
    done head out on the path to Highcliff to recruit Elanee.

  Path to Highcliff (Maiden's Glade, first time only - get Elanee at level 3)
    When you meet Elanee on the path to Highcliff for the first time she will,
    unlike Neeshka and Khelgar, already be in your party and can be killed.
    However, her animal companion Naloch is still treated by the game as a plot
    character at this point and does not have this problem (but only for as
    long as he's in this introductory combat sequence).  Furthermore, because
    he is a plot character during this intro sequence he cannot be dispelled,
    even if Elanee is killed - as long as any one party member remains alive.
    Therefore, feel free to take advantage of the opportunity to let Naloch
    dispose of the Bladeling and his minions for you with no XP gained.  

    When first speaking with Elanee there are two instances where you can gain
    +1 influence with her: being forthright by telling her you're headed to see
    Uncle Duncan about the shard you possess and recognizing "Eridis" is an
    Illefarn name (with a successful Lore skill check, total influence now 2).

    Maiden's Glade
    If you haven't already managed to so in the first battle, as soon as you
    arrive here have Elanee don good armor.  Lead the wolves to the south end of
    the map with all companions.  Run only the PC close to the 3 dead wolves
    near the center of the map while the live wolves chase the companions near
    the south end of the map.  Save.  Re-load and heal all players, then send
    all the refreshed companions away from the PC to kill the wolves without XP.  
    Once this first set of wolves are dead, state your preference to avoid
    bloodshed for +1 influence with Elanee (now 3 total) and your agreement to
    see what's wrong in the glade (+1 influence, 4 total).  Note that none of
    these things cause a loss of influence with Khelgar or Neeshka and it leaves
    you with a good start of influence with Elanee.  Clear the area of all
    animals but skip the bear to avoid the XP it gives.  Then head back to the
    weeping willow with Neeshka to unlock all the locked containers.

  Weeping Willow Inn (part two)
    Speak to Zachan to collect 25gp (75 with successful persuasion) and 50xp.
    You must talk to Zachan in order to trade with Jorik the merchant later,
    otherwise Jorik will still speak as if the battle upstairs is ongoing and
    refuse to trade.  It's probably best to avoid speaking to Gera unless you
    have room to spare for the XP, and only then near the end of ACT I.  She
    only gives 25gp (50 with successful persuasion) for 150xp you don't want.  I
    was at 3597xp total now.

    The room adjacent to where Zachan was has 2 armoires. The first gave me
    choking powder, a tanglefoot bag and a potion of lore. The second had two
    choking powders and thieves' tools +1.
    The room opposite Zachan has an armoire giving a healers kit +1, an acid
    flask and choking powder
    The room opposite the stairs has an armoire with choking powder, thieves'
    tools +1 and a potion of lore
    The room with a footlocker and chest each contained an alexandrite.
    The room that had Galen in it has a desk containing a tanglefoot bag,
    choking powder and a potion or lore.  It also had drawers with choking
    powder and holy water.
    Before you leave the Inn talk to Jorik and ask for a reward (50 gold).

  Path to Swamp Cave
    The small single crate nearest the entrance/exit with a fire pit had an
    emerald.  The crate next to it had an alexandrite, tanglefoot bag, acid
    flask and potion of cure moderate wounds.
    The area near the entrance with fire pit and chest contained a garnet,
    choking powder and an acid flask.
    The area closest to the cave entrance gave an alexandrite and choking
    powder.
    
  Swamp Cave
    The room with the Lizard Chief has two locked chests.  With Neeshka at level
    2, she needed a thieves' tools +1 kit to open it: it contained Boots of the
    Winterlands, an alexandrite, choking powder, tanglefoot bag and a set of
    thieves' tools +1.  The smaller chest had a book, an alexandrite, an acid
    flask and a thunderstone.
    An area at the north end of the has a chest containing a garnet, an acid
    flask and a tanglefoot bag.
    A basket on the east side of the cave had an alexandrite.
    A chest on the south end of the cave had an alexandrite, thieves' tools +3
    and choking powder.
    Note that killing the Lizard Chief earns you a Rod of Frost, very useful at
    low levels.
    Somewhere along the way I got another 48xp, perhaps from a stray lizardling
    or spider I forgot to avoid, bringing me to 3645xp.

  Path to Bandit Camp
    Another tight space to fight in.  Defeat the enemies here by temporarily
    switching to open hand fighting for all companions.  Have them rush the
    archers to force them to switch to melee combat and then lead them to the
    south side of the map as your PC runs north.  Once your PC is out of range,
    re-arm your companions and kill them all.

  Graveyard
    Open area
    The grave in the center of the area gave me Lesser Boots of Tumbling, a
    potion of antidote and an emerald.
    The grave nearest the entrance had an alexandrite.
    The grave nearest the exit to the north had an alexandrite and a book titled
    "Fundamentals of Abjurative Enhancement".

    Crypt One
    The smaller crypt farther from the entrance has three rooms.  Lead the
    skeletons and zombies away from the entrance to the room with the angel to
    kill them away from your character for zero xp.
    The north room has two sarcophagi. The one on the left gave an emerald,
    while the one on the right had an alexandrite.
    The south room has two sarcophagi.  The one on the left yielded an
    alexandrite; the one on the right has the light hammer "Storm +1".
    The east room with the angel has a trapped sarcophagus with nothing but a
    scroll of animate dead.

    Crypt two
    The larger crypt closer to the entrance has several rooms with treasure.  By
    leading the first skeletons and zombies with Neeshka into the large room to
    the west on the map they and rest of the undead can be dispatched without
    earning XP.  I recovered the trap on the door leading to this room first
    (this took several tries).  The room to the east of the entrance is the only
    one where traps must be disabled instead of recovered, since Neeshka remains
    at a level 2 and 3 during all of Act I.  Therefore I'd only have enough
    modified skill to recover them when Grobnar was recruited and I didn't want
    to wait that long.  

    The two sarcophagi here contained an alexandrite and a Ring of Insight along
    with a +1 falchion, respectively.
    The room immediately south of the entrance has one sarcophagus which gave an
    alexandrite.
    The gated room southwest of the entrance has a sarcophagus that contained an
    obsidian, emerald, healers kit +3, a wand of magic missiles and four
    +1 shuriken.
    The sarcophagi to the southwest of the entrance on the map each contained an
    alexandrite, as did the two in the room on the south side of the map.

    Rescuing commander Tann earned me 62 experience (at this point I had 3707
    xp); I don't know why the experience award was not in an increment of 25.
    All other chest-like objects deliver the same loot every time you open them.
    Once the large west room on the map was clear I preferred to kill most
    enemies (especially the shadow priest) with the traps along the west
    corridor, since they can be triggered an unlimited number of times.  Just
    keep your PC and most companions north of the traps, then watch as the
    undead drop like flies as they approach you.

    Rescue commander Tann and get all the loot but don't save all three of his
    men, you don't want the extra 75 XP.  I chose to examine Garret's corpse
    after Tann was returned to camp for +1 influence with Neeshka (2 total), and
    -1 influence with Khelgar (1 total).

    Commander Tann confronting Lieutenant Vallis on the path to Fort Locke
    Have your companions stand still as your PC runs past them.  Once at a safe
    distance, let them attack.  It really doesn't matter if they all die, since
    Commander Tann is considered a plot character by the game until the battle
    is done and can't be killed; he can and will take Lieutenant Vallis and his
    guards singlehandedly.  Rescuing the Commander nets you 75 XP that you can't
    avoid (3782 XP so far).  Talking to Marshal Cormick at Fort Locke nets
    another 200 gold and 75 XP (3857 XP).  If you don't speak with Marshall
    Cormick before you advance to Neverwinter, you won't be able to choose the
    City Watch as a faction (i.e. Moire and her gang or the City Watch) when you
    meet him there to advance the plot.
 
  Bandit Camp
    It's best to rescue the prisoners before dealing the Bandit Chief so at
    least 1 prisoner is killed (but not all of them); this allows you to collect
    a gold reward from Liza, but no XP.  Just keep the PC corralled with the
    prisoners until your companions can deal with the bandits - away from you.
    The chest in the middle of camp contained an emerald and Elixir of Horus-Re.
    Be sure to thank Neeshka to gain +1 influence (3 total).

    Bandit Den
    The first room southwest of the entrance contains two chests.  The first
    gave me drums of haunting, two choking powders, and an alexandrite.  The
    second had an alexandrite.
    The room directly east of the entrance has a trunk which contained a garnet,
    choking powder and a tanglefoot bag.
    The room directly south of the entrance has a chest with 72 gold (fixed),
    Alchemists fire, choking powder and an acid flask.
    The room by the bandit chief had a chest containing an alexandrite and an
    armoire with an emerald, a scroll of heroism and wand of arcane disjunction.
    Although you can collect 500 gold and 100xp for informing Commander Tann of
    defeating the bandit chief, it's not really worth the XP for the gold to do
    so.  Skipping the conversation with him won't stop the story line from
    progressing or break future quests, so that's probably what you should do at
    least until near the end of Act I, when you clean up loose ends and know if
    you have the XP to spare.
 
  Highcliff
    It's probably worth the trade of -1 influence with Elanee (3 total) to
    side with Khelgar prior to the fight with the sailors just by the entrance
    to the village (+2 influence with him, 3 total).  Likewise, it's probably
    worth the additional -1 influence with Elanee (now 2 total) when speaking
    with Gera about her quest and then agreeing with Neeshka about doing it just
    for the money (and +1 influence with her, 4 total).  More influence is
    required to keep Neeshka honest and prevent her from turning on you in the
    end than is required to keep Elanee after she confronts the corrupt druids
    at the Circle of the Mere in Act III.
    Don't speak to Mozah or Juni unless you're near the end of ACT I and know
    you have the XP to spare, as neither of their quests yield high rewards for
    the XP you get in return and they'll otherwise fill your journal with
    background text you can't get rid of.

    Par's House
    By leading the sailors from one room to the next and then re-loading the
    game with all of them all out of your line of sight you can safely recover
    traps and open locks in the opposite room, without being harassed.  You
    definitely don't want to kill any sailors as they each yield a lot of XP.
    The table in the smaller room gave me two choking powders and a potion of
    cure moderate wounds.
    The vase in the main room contained an alexandrite.  The cabinet yielded two
    greenstones, choking powder and an acid flask.

    Path to Highcliff Castle
    Kill Slaan for his map to the Lizardfolk cave and his loot.  Kill all the
    wolves.  If you choose, you can rescue Gera's kids for Zachan's Amulet but
    this also results in getting 100xp (and 100 gold more if you press for it).
    I found it was worth the trade since I had Bishop wear it until late in
    ACT II; it gives +1 HP per level and +1 Will saves.

    Highcliffe Castle
    The last room in the Northeast end of the castle has a sarcophagus that had
    an alexandrite and a choking powder.  One chest (at the south end of the
    room) contained two greenstones, two choking powders and an acid flask. The
    other had an alexandrite and two tanglefoot bags.
    The chest in the room with the shadow priest gave a potion of bull's
    strength, a scroll of aid, a wand of paralyzation, Nasher's nimble boots
    (all fixed rewards) and a greenstone. Nasher's nimbleboots were useful for
    Neeshka and, later in the game, Grobnar.

  Path to LizardFolk Cave
    A chest on the north side of the road yielded an alexandrite.
    A chest by a clearing on the south side of the road had two greenstones and
    two choking powders.

  Lizardfolk cave
    The main challenge here is having Neeshka successfully sneak past the first
    groups of lizardmen while simultaneously disabling the three traps along
    the way.  This may take several reloads to succeed, but should be a bit
    easier if she's wearing Nasher's Nimble Boots and only leather armor.
    Recovering the the traps instead (like I did) is possible but not worth the
    time for the money you'd get.  Once the traps are disabled, have her lead
    the lizardmen past the four way junction eastward and attack; the lizard men
    will then be far enough away to have your companions engage them all without
    earning XP for your PC or triggering any traps.

    One of the lizardmen dropped a +1 spear for me, but I don't know if that was
    a fixed spawn or a lucky drop.
    The three barrels on the south end of the map have low-value treasure
    seeding: I recovered 15 gold from the first, 18 from the second and 16 gold
    in the third but, in retrospect, trying to get that much gold from them was
    a waste of time.

    When preparing to fight the lizard chief, you have two options.  The first
    is pretty straightforward: just move your PC away from the throne room and
    have your companions kill the chief's minions until you can take him out,
    re-loading as needed.

    The second option is to have a long-ranged attacker (such as an archer or a
    warlock with eldritch spear) start an attack just within the 250ft range.
    If you re-load often enough, or get lucky the first time around when you
    attack, you will be able to damage the chief without triggering an attack
    response or movement from him.  His shaman will still cast several spells in
    response, but none towards you and your party.  Continue to whittle down the
    Chief (attacking anyone else will always trigger an attack response) and let
    the shaman waste his spells until the Chief is as close as possible to death
    without actually killing him.  Be sure to save every time you think he's
    close to death before attacking again.  Then move the PC far enough away and
    have Neeshka use the Rod of Frost (which you should have picked up by now
    from the Lizardfolk Shaman in the swamp cave).  If he's close enough to
    death, a single hit by this will kill him before the shaman has a chance to
    heal him.  This should be easy enough to do, since the rod is a ranged touch
    attack.  Once the Chief is dead pick off the rest at will, with the PC
    safely out of range.  When the lizard man shaman dies he drops a Major
    Circlet of Blasting.

    A locked and trapped chest in the chief's treasure room yielded only an
    alexandrite.

    After finishing off the lizard chief you can sail off to Neverwinter.
    You'll get 400xp after making the docks safe for sailing again, and an extra
    100xp on top of that if you decide you want Zachan's amulet by rescuing his
    sons (I did, and this brought me to 4357xp total).

  Neverwinter
    Docks district
    Tips about Neverwinter:
    Some of the city watch will fight enemies you meet on the streets, if they
    are close enough to those enemies.  Of those who will fight, some can be
    injured and killed but some are considered plot characters.  In particular,
    the two guards by the city watch building in the docks district can't even
    be injured and the Sergeant by the docks can't be killed (but only him, not
    his assistants), so you can let them deal with enemies you'd prefer not to.
    They're not fast, but they are effective and you'll avoid XP as long as
    the watch guards land the killing blows.

    As soon as you enter the docks district upon arrival in Neverwinter, have
    Neeshka steal the Blade of the Gladiator longsword from Repko the
    Weaponsmith and the Belt of Agility +1 from Reylene - you'll want these very
    useful (and free) items to deal with foes for the rest of Act I.

      The Sunken Flagon
    While you're speaking to Duncan, say you intend to join Moire & her bandits
    (even if you don't intend to) for +1 influence with Neeshka (5 total) but -1
    with Khelgar (2 total).  Also, take this time to speak with Elanee about
    West Harbor for +1 influence (3 total) by saying "looks like you're not one
    to tie yourself down".  Be sure to leave Elanee in the sunken flagon before
    meeting Bennon.

      Bennon
    Your first order of business after leaving the sunken flagon should be
    letting the city watch kill the bladelings skulking near their HQ in the
    docks district.  Then head a bit north to meet Bennon.  After a brief
    conversation where you should be supportive of Neeshka (for +1 influence,
    6 total) you can simply run by the same city watch guards and let them
    pummel Bennon and his misguided allies for you.  After Bennon's demise, tell
    Neeshka you'll protect her (for +2 influence, 8 total).

      City Watch HQ
    I chose to side with the city watch for two reasons:
    1) I found the rewards at Crossroad Keep to be (a little) better
    2) My PC followed a path of starting as a very bad actor but eventually
       getting redemption that fit nicely with leveling progression
    It is still interesting to side with the rogues; the difference in rewards
    (in type and where you get them from) is more a matter of the kind of PC you
    want to play, what companions you choose to have around and storyline
    preference than anything else.
    Once you side with the city watch, your first assignment is dealing with
    Hagen's shop.  Bring Elanee back into your party (now that Bennon has been
    dealt with) before proceeding there.

      Hagen's shop
    There's no way to avoid the experience from killing the thugs here because
    of the size of the building, so don't - avoid them instead.
    Start by leading the PC to the northwest corner of the building in the extra
    room while your companions lead the thugs towards the entrance door.
    If one or more of them starts to follow the lead PC, have a companion attack
    them so they go after your attacking companion instead.  Once the PC is at
    the north end and your companions are at the south end by the door along
    with all the thigs, save the game and re-load.  You and your companions will
    then be far enough away that you can rest.  Do so, and then have Neeshka
    easily unlock Hagen's box out of combat mode.  For me, it yielded two
    greenstones, a choking powder, thieves' tools +3 and a tanglefoot bag.  Be
    aware that taking any of the contents from the box moves you 1 towards
    chaotic and evil.
 
    Speak to Hagen again, who will thank you for your help even though none of
    the thugs have been killed.  If you're feeling greedy yoy may ask him for
    200 gold, but be aware of the +1 chaotic shift for this.  Once that's done
    have PC run to the thugs and lead enough of them away from the door to
    escape, with zero added xp from this encounter.

      Caleb
    When you report back to Cormick he'll give you 100xp and assign you to
    arrest Caleb.  When you take care of him (or let the city watch guards do
    it for you) Cormick will give you another 100xp and order you to do a
    review of the guard posts in the Docks District (I was now at 4557 xp).
    Once you leave the watch building, you are then (and only then) able to head
    back to the outside of the Sunken Flagon and recruit Qara.

      Qara, Hetha and Glina (get Qara at level 3)
    You can talk Hetha and Glena out of fighting Qara, but doing so misses out
    on any loot they drop; it also seems entirely out of character for Qara to
    let them get away with it.  Just like previous instances similar to this
    one, Qara is not in your party yet.  She's considered a plot character and
    can't be killed; she will cheerfully slaughter both of her former classmates
    for you.

    Once this is done, head back to the sunken flag and bring Qara into your
    party, leaving another companion behind.  The first time you leave the
    Sunken Flagon with Qara you'll encounter Praven and more of her former
    classmates (and in the second wave, Ashni and Glina's father, Johcris) who
    are set on revenge.  Lead them to the city watch guards' HQ and let them
    deal with both sets of students.
    Once that's done you're probably best off leaving Qara at the sunken flagon
    until she's at least level 4; she's not much use with only level one spells.
    Just be sure to speak with her about everything that's happened so far for a
    total of +12 influence before moving on:
    a) In the first conversation when asking her about the academy, agree that
       "instinct and experience are the best teacher" (+3).
    b) When discussing Glina and Hetha say, "just as long as you know when to
       unleash your power" (+3).
    c) When discussing Praven, support her attacks against his house saying,
       "Fair enough. If they were insulting you, then they need to be taught a
           lesson" (+3).
    d) When talking about Johcris say, "If he tries to fight you - and us -
       he'll get what he deserves" (+3).

      Wounded Wolf
    You should probably skip speaking to the wounded wolf with Elanee until just
    before the end of ACT I.  You don't want the 250xp he gives (or the
    completely optional Skymirror quest that comes with it) until just before
    going to the Githyanki Base at the end of ACT I.  Remember, it's best to
    leave at least 1900xp headroom to spare to avoid being level 6 by the time
    you acquire Sand and Shandra at the start of Act II.

      Reylene
    Before going further, be sure you've had Neeshka steal the Blade of the
    Gladiator from Repko and the Belt of Agility +1 from Reylene.  If you steal
    from Reylene at this point, four of Moire's thugs will be trying to extort
    protection money from her.  It's probably best to not try to get a bribe
    from them or allow them to extort gold from her.  If you do, Raylene will be
    called as a witness to be used against you during your trial in Act II.
    That's not necessarily a bad thing, but you need high ranks in appraise
    (12+), diplomacy (10+) and bluff (14+) to have Reylene be any sort of
    positive influence during the trial.  If you sided with the shadow thieves
    and don't want her to appear during the trial, the only way to prevent her
    from being called is to not speak to her at all until the trial is over.

    Have your companions dispatch the thugs or lead them to the guards, as I
    did, to let them handle it.

      Wagon
    Be sure to demand a bribe from the thugs guarding the wagon for 200 gold
    (and +1 chaotic alignment change, so don't bother if you're looking to
    stay/become lawful).  Then take the contents anyway and lead them to the
    city watch for corrective action (and no xp).

    Merchant District
      Leldon's hideout (skip this for now)
    This quest will come up when you visit the merchant quarter for the first
    time.  Side with Neeshka after you defeat Tremmel for +1 influence (9
    total), but if Elanee's in your party don't demand an explanation from
    her about why she's still with you to avoid a loss of influence with her.
    When you speak with Ophala, say "If he's threatening Neeshka, he's going to
    pay" (for +2 influence, 11 total) and you'll learn the location of his
    hideout.  You should skip it until Grobnar is in your party; this way you
    can successfully recover the traps there with the aid of his Inspire
    Competence inspiration and Heroism spell.

      Temple of Tyr and Tomb of the Betrayers quest (from Judgle Oleff)
    When speaking to Judge Oleff, ask if anything is wrong to get the quest for
    the Tomb of the Betrayers.  Get +1 influence with Neeshka (12 total) by
    promising you won't disturb the crypts and reminding her you wouldn't want
    anyone disturbing hers.  This crucial quest can and should be completed in
    ACT II due in part to the unlimited gold and experience you can get from
    it; it's probably best to wait until then to do it.

    Docks District
      City Watch sweep
    If you chose to align with the City Watch the more interesting part of this
    sweep isn't the Watch guards, but the bandit loot you can get along the way
    as you clean the streets.  Most groups of bandits can drop a wide range of
    loot that tends towards the low end.  However, the spellcaster drops can be
    very rewarding.  For example, with enough reloads one group (by the Watch
    HQ) dropped a robe of acid resistance, another (by the sunken flagon)
    dropped a robe of fire resistance, and two other groups (both by the docks
    at  different times) dropped a wand of lesser summoning.

    You can get another trade of +1 influence with Neeshka (13 total) and -1
    influence with Khelgar (now only 1 total) by extorting money from two
    bandits as they try to open a lock, but it can lead to an alignment shift of
    +2 evil and +1 chaotic in the process, especially if you take the money and
    kill them anyway (my favorite) so be aware of your choices.

    Two sets of guards will share their portion of their bribes money with you
    if you press the issue properly (with alignment moves towards evil).
    Once you visit all 4 city watch sergeants Moire's gang will put the Dock's
    District City Watch HQ to the torch; you'll have to report to Captain
    Brelaina for further instructions.

    Merchant District
      New City Watch Headquarters
    Brelaina will issue a series of assignments dealing with Moire's gang you
    must complete before you're given access to the Blacklake district.  But
    first you'll receive 300xp for completing the sweep of the docks (this
    brought my xp to 4857).  Your first task is dealing with the weapons
    shipment in the back alley.  

    Docks District
      Back Alley
    On the way to the back alley you'll meet the child-rogue Wolf being
    confronted by a bandit.  Being nice ensures he and his fellow band of
    roguelings are available at Crossroads Keep once you're placed in charge
    there.

    You should probably use intimidation or diplomacy to convince the first set
    of guards you meet let you pass without a fight.  They won't drop any loot
    anyway and since I didn't want the XP, fighting them served no purpose.

    At a clearing about halfway through the back alley you'll have a chance to
    raise influence with several of your companions before dealing with the city
    watch who were bribed by Moire's gang here.  I chose to increase it by +1
    with Neeshka (now 14 total) by saying, "sometimes you have to do what you
    can to survive." I then increased it with Qara (who I had with me for this
    event - otherwise it was Elanee in her place) by allowing her to set the
    fire that distracts the city watch (+1, 13 total) and, after Qara sets the
    fire, tell her to "burn as much as you like" (+1, 14 total).
    As I worked my way northeast on the map the first barrel gave an
    alexandrite, choking powder, 24 bolts, holy water, a tanglefoot bag and a
    set of thieves' tools +6.  The second barrel had an emerald, a wand of
    arcane disjunction and 16 arrows.  A crate on the southeast side of the map
    before the gang leader had an alexandrite, alchemist's fire, 34 bolts, a
    tanglefoot bag, 17 arrows an acid flask and 6 throwing axes.

    A gang leader blocks your way before the weapons shipment.  Regardless of
    your diplomacy or intimidation skills, it's best to fight him for his loot
    (with possible alignment shifts in the process).  However, at level 3 this
    can be a tough proposition.  To do this, run your PC away as your companions
    stay put to whittle down the leader.  If you're killed simply re-load and
    heal by your PC's location, repeating as often as needed until they're
    eliminated.  The gang leader always drops the very useful Lesser Amulet of
    the Master, as does one of the thugs with a +1 shortsword.  The mage often
    drops a scroll of flame arrow.

    A set of crates southeast after the gang leader contained a Bowl of
    Commanding Water Elementals, an alexandrite, choking powder and a tanglefoot
    bag.  A crate just before the weapons-wagon yielded an alexandrite, choking
    powder and holy water.

    Before you take on the guards and Moire's thugs at the weapons wagon you'll
    probably want to swap out Kehlgar for Qara again.  This is because, when you
    finally  defeat them all (using similar tactics as with the gang leader),
    you can agree with Neeshka saying, "If a few weapons got 'misplaced,' no one
    would be the wiser" for +1 influence with her (15 total) - and no loss with
    Khelgar.  Plus you'll get the +1 rapier Namarra Neversleep for your trouble,
    since neither the guards or thugs will likely drop anything of value when
    they're killed.

    When you report back to Brelaina you'll receive 250xp and your next
    assignment: The Warehouse (I was now at 5107xp).

    Merchant Quarter
      The Warehouse
    Killing the bandits here is the usual matter of keeping the PC at distance
    from your companions as they clean up.  Save often.  If they die in the
    process (and they likely will - numerous times) save and reload - they'll be
    by your side again.  Heal, attack, save and repeat.
    When you finish off Barlowe you can pick up his documents.  This triggers a
    cut-scene with Neeshka and Khelgar.  To maximize influnce allow Neeshka to
    loot the place saying, "Have fun. Let me know what you find" (+1 influence,
    16 total).  When Khelgar voices his dislike of her respond with "You're
    right. I'll try to keep her out of trouble from now on." (+1 influence, 2
    total).  When Neeshka comes back saying she found something for you, only
    respond with, "Thanks, I'll make good use of it".  Otherwise she won't find
    the Nighttheif's Nimbleknife.  She can make good use of this dagger until
    she gets the two-weapon fighting feat at level 6, much later on.  Then ask,
    "Are you sure that's all you found?" and answer her denial by saying, "Come
    clean. What else did you find?".  This is the only response that relies
    solely on your (high) influence with her and is more than enough to get the
    ruby she had pocketed for herself, with no loss of influence in the process.
    
    The first crate on the south-eastern end of the map gave me 16 darts, an
    alexandrite and choking powder.  A barrel just north of it had an emerald.
    A crate east of where Barlowe was barricaded had a potion of barkskin, a
    scroll of bless weapon and a wand of arcane disjunction.
    A crate just north of the entrance to the warehouse at the end of a hallway
    contained a scroll of false life, 18 throwing axes, thieves' tools +6, two
    wands of magic missiles, an emerald, a potion of cat's grace and five +1
    arrows.
    A barrel in the first room just northwest of the entrance yielded an
    emerald.
    A room just southeast of where Barlowe was has a crate that contained an
    alexandrite, two tanglefoot bags, 21 bolts and an alchemist's fire.

    When you report back to Captain Brelaina you'll receive another 300xp
    (5407 total) and your next assignment - rescuing Fihelis.

      Fihelis Estate - get Grobnar at level 3
    This another challenging area.  Your first task is to shepherd the bandits
    on the first level away from your PC to the northeast side of the map and
    then move your PC to the southwest side of the map before you kill any of
    them.  This task takes as much luck as is does skill; it will probably take
    several rounds of shepherding to get them all to one side because some
    bandits either start off using HIPS or aren't spawned until you walk past
    certain trigger points.

    Once you've defeated all the bandits on the first and second level you can
    prepare to fight Moire.  Defeating Moire at character level 3 is very
    difficult, especially without your PC nearby.  This is mainly because,
    unlike ANY other boss you fight during Act I, she has the Evasion feat *and*
    regeneration.  To prepare have Elanee, Khelgar and Qara in your party
    before entering the room Moire and her posse are in.  Make sure Qara has a
    fully charged wand of magic missiles and wand of lesser summoning ready in
    her quickslots.  Give the Rod of Frost to Elanee.  Prior to leaving Neeshka
    at the Sunken flagon you could try setting several traps all over the long
    hallway you'll be using, but because Moire has Evasion it's likely few to
    none of them will work on her; I chose to save my traps to sell later.  On
    the way back from the sunken flagon, stop at the Weeping Willow Inn and buy
    Khelgar a suit of full plate and a +1 tower shield.  I found Jorik and
    Edario had the lowest prices of the merchants I had access to (at that time)
    for theses purchases.  Make sure Khelgar has a few potions of cure wounds at
    the ready in quickslots and give him every piece of protective equipment he
    can use.  For me this was a ring of protection +1, ring of resistance +1,
    bracers of Armor +2, full plate, +1 tower shield, a belt of agility +1, an
    amulet of vitality +2 and the silver shards of health and acid & electrical
    resistance.  He kept wielding the Blade of the Gladiator for the weapon of
    choice - although he used never used it against Moire; he spent all his time
    running from her.

    If this prospect seems too difficult, you can always buy a Rod of the Ghost
    from Pap in the Merchant Quarter, which will make surviving Moire (and
    shepherding her thugs on level one) much easier, along with just about every
    other battle in ACT I. However, I wanted to see if I could work without it
    and didn't want to spend the extra 6000 gold on this - yet.  In retrospect,
    it would've been worth it to buy it now instead of in ACT II, where I only
    saved 400 gold.

    First, take care of Moire's minions as Moire herself will at first run to
    the corner of the room where Fihelis is kept prisoner.  She'll figure out
    soon enough you have no intention of fighting her right away but by the
    time she does, and moves to follow your team, they'll be well on their way
    to killing her accomplices.

    Lead your PC to the northeastern portion of the map by the stairs.  At the
    same time, have your companions lead Moire's minions to the southeastern
    room to kill them all; Moire should follow her minions automatically.
    Once Moire's minions are dead and she is by you in the corner, out of sight
    of the doorway, save and reload - then the real work begins.

    I found the best way to beat Moire is for Qara to pepper her to death with a
    wand of magic missiles, after she exhausts her spells.  Like a lot of what
    is done to defeat enemies when you're only level 3 this is slow, but it
    works.

    To do this, lead your companions back up the long hallway to the room where
    Moire is waiting.  In order to get a good start to this process have Elanee
    cast Barkskin on herself and Khelgar just prior to fighting her.  Make sure
    Elanee has her badger animal companion out as well.  Then have Qara use the
    lesser wand of summoning to summon her own dire badger to assist in acting
    as a distraction and meatshield.  As Elanee gets close to where Moire is,
    she will sneak attack Elanee and abort hiding in plain sight.  It's
    important that you only continue the battle if this very painful first
    attack misses - otherwise it may be a one-hit kill.  Timing of all your
    companions actions will be very important and you'll definitely need Elanee
    to heal Khelgar as Moire wears him down with occasional attacks of
    opportunity while he runs in long track patterns up and down the hallway and
    Qara slowly whittles her down with magic missiles.
 
    Have Elanee positioned near the left of the door by Qara to cast heal spells
    as Khelgar runs past, with Moire hot on his heels.  If Elanee is not healing
    Khelgar in any given round, and you don't anticipate her doing so in the
    next round, have her use the Rod of Frost on Moire to help wear her down.
    Qara's dire badger (and Elanee's, if it's still around) will keep Moire
    distracted for a while.  When the badgers die, Qara should only re-summon
    hers to give Khelgar a chance to drink a healing potion, something that may
    become more pressing when Elanee runs out of healing spells.  Remember, any
    break given to Moire will allow her to regenerate more, so only summon the
    dire badger if you have to.

    Khelgar's AC should be high enough with all his buffs so that Moire only
    hits occasionally with her attacks-of-opportunity as he turns corners
    during his runs.  He should never stop to fight her toe-to-toe; she'll
    finish him off fairly quickly if he does and the others probably won't last
    long once he dies.

    As usual, I kept all my companions in puppet mode to time their activities
    properly.  By the time Moire was dead she had killed Khelgar, then Elanee
    (as she took his place as the track-runner) and Qara only had 5 hit points
    left.  This was because I didn't have Qara stop to re-summon a dire badger
    and give Khelgar a chance to drink a few healing potions.

    Once Moire dies she drops a +3 Rapier and the Moonstone Mask, which somewhat
    makes up for having to spend about 2000 gold on full-plate and a +1 tower
    shield for Khelgar.  It doesn't hurt for him to have these items for the
    rest of ACT I, but without the Rod of the Ghost (sold by Pap in the merchant
    quarter) fighting Moire with that armor was an absolute necessity.

    When you speak to Fihelis, you can shake him down for 2000 gold plus some
    gems (and a shift towards chaotic evil), which can be found later in the
    park in the Merchant Quarter.  Thankfully, Brelaina awards no experience for
    rescuing him.    
************************************************************************************
    Once you've rescued Fihelis from Moire (and his wallet) you can pick up
    Grobnar at level three.  Then, after outfitting him properly, head back to
    the Fihelis estate to loot the place.

    On the first level of Fihelis' estate, the northeastern room by the stairs
    has two armoires. The locked one had choking powder, 2 greenstones and an
    acid flask.  The unlocked one had a sash of shimmering, choking powder, 2
    greenstones and an acid flask.  Just south of this room is another where
    you'll find a gas-trapped chest (I could never "find" the gas trap to
    recover it); it gave an emerald.

    The room on the northwest corner has a crate that gave me 2 greenstones,
    choking powder, an acid flask, holy water, 12 arrows and thieves' tools +3.
    A room directly east of it has a bookcase.  It had 2 greenstones, an acid
    flask and a tanglefoot bag.  A room just south of the one at the southwest
    corner has a locked and trapped chest that yielded thieves' tools +3, an
    alexandrite, holy water, choking powder and a tanglefoot bag. A crate in the
    room just north of the entrance has a crate that contained 2 greenstones, 10
    darts, a healer's kit +1 and choking powder.

    On the second level of Fihelis estate are two rooms just east of the stairs.
    Both are low-yield armoires.  The locked and trapped one contained a copper
    necklace.  The unlocked one had a Phenalope and Malachite.  The large
    central room with a locked and trapped chest contained a deadly frost trap
    kit, 4 aventurines and 95 gold.  The room where Moire held Fihelis prisoner
    has a locked & trapped low-yield trunk which only gave a greenstone
    (sometimes it was empty).

  Old Owl Well - part 1
    Bonegnasher Clan Approach
    Brelaina's next assignment for you is rescuing the Waterdeep emissary,
    Issani.  Starting off I worked with Elanee, Neeshka and Khelgar.

    A locked and trapped chest at the southwest corner of the map contained 2
    acid flasks, an alexandrite, 28 shurikens and choking powder.  A chest on
    the northwest corner of the map had an alexandrite, acid flask, 10 arrows, a
    tanglefoot bag and 9 throwing axes.

    A crate by Guyven of the road contains 99 +1 arrows, bolts and bullets
    (fixed).  It also had 2 greenstones, 2 alchemist's fires, 37 bolts, choking
    powder and 12 arrows.  I chose to wait to speak to Guyven until just after
    rescuing the Waterdeep emissary due to the 250xp he gives in the hopes of
    recruiting Bishop at level 3.  However, I found there's no significant
    difference between getting Bishop at level 3 or 4, so feel free to speak to
    Guyven as soon as you see him.  Remember to be polite and let him tell you
    about the history of the place for the loot he can ultimately direct you to
    as a guest in Crossroads Keep in Act III.

    A chest near the entry to the Bonegnasher cave had 2 choking powders and an
    alexandrite.

    Troll Cave - northeast corner of Bonegnasher Clan Approach
    A vein of Ore (1 vein so far) here gives 50xp (I was now at 5457xp).  There
    are four more veins of ore to be found in Act I, and you'll want all the
    others for the upgrades to your army at Crossroads Keep.  I chose to wait on
    collecting the other four until after rescuing the Waterdeep emissary in the
    hopes of adding Bishop to my party at level three but that turned out to be
    impossible, so feel free to collect the ore as soon as you find it.  Also
    don't forget the scabbard of blessing here.  You'll want this very useful
    item in the inventory of Shandra, Khelgar or Casavir for the many difficult
    battles ahead.
    
    Bonegnasher Cave
    As one might expect, as I progressed through Act I enemies grew
    progressively more difficult.  As such, my companions (who remained very low
    level) would often die several times fighting groups of foes.  Just make the
    most of your gear, tactics and the ability to buff with spells.  When
    neccessary, re-load from saves, rest and send your companions back into
    battle.  Again, if you bought (or choose to buy) the Rod of the Ghost from
    Pap in the Merchant Quarter it does to its user's ability to withstand a
    fair amount of punishment.
 
    After defeating Yaisog he will beg for mercy, but sparing him simply means
    you'll have to fight him again at the Eyegouger clan lair, so it's best to
    kill him now and get it over with while there are less foes around.

    A room just east of the entrance has a trapped chest.  It contained an
    alexandrite, tanglefoot bag, choking powder, a healer's kit +6 and thieves'
    tools +6.
    A chest in the room just south of where you meet Yaisog for the 1st time
    gave an emerald.
    A chest in a room northeast of the entrance with three beds in it contained
    2 greenstones, an alchemist's fire and choking powder.
    A chest near the cooking room of the Orc Matron had an alexandrite, choking
    powder and an acid flask.
    A chest in the room where the Orc Shaman starts had a book titled
    "Fundamentals of Terrible Destruction", a wand of Arcane Disjunction, and 3
    scrolls: shield other, ghostly visage and infestation of maggots.
    A chest in a heavily trapped room on the way to the final encounter with
    Cheif Yaisog of the Bonegnasher clan contained an emerald, a potion of fox's
    cunning, a wand of lesser summoning, and a scroll of keen edge.
    A chest by the sorcerer Olov contained two +1 healer's kits, choking powder,
    2 greenstones and a tanglefoot bag.

    At the end of the cave, I chose to take Olov (the fake emissary), into my
    party for +1 influence with Neeshka (now 17) stating, "I'll keep an eye on
    him" when she said she doesn't trust him.  The only downside to this is
    fighting Olov in an ambush where, by definition, you have no time to
    prepare.  You will earn some extra loot in the process, but it is not easy.
    
  Old Owl Well
    Olov's Ambush  
    Once you leave the Bonegnasher Cave make like you're leavaing the area - I
    attempted to go to the docks district.  Doing so triggers an encounter where
    Olov reveals himself by ambushing you with a posse of orcs.  You can then
    kill everyone for some extra loot, although winning this battle at such a
    low level requires an almost perfect start while fighting Olov.

    Before the encounter with Olov and his band of Orcs make sure Khelgar and
    Elanee have a few strong cure wounds potions ready.  If you bought the Rod
    of the Ghost from Pap, this is another good place to use it.

    While attempting to return to the Docks district Olov announces, in classic
    villain-like fashion, his plot and laments on how gullible you were for
    bringing hinm into your party.  The most difficult part of this battle is
    killing him immediately because if you don't, he'll quickly eliminate your
    companions while the orcs on the hill kill your PC, who has to run the other
    way and can do little while orc archers to fill him/her with arrows.  Olov
    appears to be a sorcerer of around 8th level with a generous helping of hit
    points and good armor class.  

    Have your PC run in the opposite direction while your companions immediately
    rush him.  I had Khelgar, Elanee, and Neeshka for this task.  Again, there's
    no time to prepare and you may have to re-load several times to be able kill
    him in the first two or three rounds, hoping he misses your companions with
    a fireball or other spells while at the same time you score several good
    hits (or like I did, a couple of critical ones).

    After Olov died, I chose to save and re-load so I wouldn't have to repeat
    that part of the battle.  Khelgar still had around 20 hit points, while
    Elanee had been killed and Neeshka was on the brink.  In the first round of
    continued fighting Elanee cast barkskin on Khelgar (this took three tries
    because the Orc archers kept killing her as she only had 1hp) while he drank
    a potion of cure serious wounds.  After that he was able to kill the rest
    of them on his own.  I got Olov's gear and a +1 chain shirt for my troubles.
    I also avoided any xp.

    Eyegouger Clan Approach - part one - get Casavir at level 3(!)
    As you head towards the Eyegouger Clan you'll encounter two waves of orcs.
    Once you dispatch the first wave and the second approaches, Casavir and his
    associates will appear.  As with most first encounters of the PC's
    companions, Casavir and his associates are not in your party and cannot be
    killed; just stand back and allow them to do the work for you with no risk
    of earning XP.  Afterwards Casavir will replace a party member of your
    choice; I chose Khelgar and then went back to the sunken flagon to transfer
    all of Khelgar's gear to him.  For the rest of the quest to rescue Issani I
    used Elanee, Neeshka and Casavir - with a few exceptions for influence
    building.

    Eyegouger Clan Approach - part one
    A chest at the northernmost section of the map by a fireplace and tent
    contains Hideo's kama (fixed).  It also gave me an emerald, a wand of magic
    missiles and a scroll of dispel magic.  
    A crate just before the entrance to the lair contained an alexandrite, a
    potion of cure light wounds, 23 shuriken, wine, 12 darts and choking powder.
    
    Eyegouger Lair - level 1
    As with all battles you'll be facing now for the rest of Act I, prepare:
    Elanee cast Barksin on Casavir and herself.  Casavir used the Scabbard of
    Blessing to Bless the party and then cast Aid on himself.
 
    Keep in mind the A.I. in the game is usually such that after most foes kill
    a PC, companion or summons, they will (with rare exceptions, and this
    situation is not one of them) inevitably move to be in range of where their
    next target is for whatever attack they prefer to use.  Therefore, if your
    companions manage to stay alive long enough, the PC's opponents will
    eventually move towards your surviving companions.  Use this AI tendency to
    your advantage, because this is exactly what you want in order to establish
    a safe zone where enemies are not near your PC when you kill them.

    The lair has a tough start because of the imperative priority to lead every
    orc near the entryway west, away from the PC.  Your PC may die in the
    process (mine did, eventually), but this shouldn't be problematic as long as
    no Orcs are near the entryway when you re-load, because you'll then have to
    lead them away once more, and if that happens you're probably better off
    starting over with the process.  Just remember: have your companions survive
    as long as possible.

    I established this safe zone with two methods.  The first was by having my
    companions move to the west end of the map one at time in relatively short
    succession, starting with Casavir, since he has the highest AC and hit
    points.  This encouraged any orc stragglers to follow along.  The second was
    to occasionally have Casavir and the others go just around the bend at the
    southwest end of the map to be out of the way of the archers and ranged
    spellcasters, but not so far as to attract the other orcs just north up the
    hallway; it encouraged the enemies to move closer to my companions (and away
    from my now dead PC).

    This process may take a few tries (it took me 3) but once all the orcs are
    close enough to the southwest room you can start killing them all off and
    rotate, with your companions at one end of the map and your PC at sufficient
    distance on the other, until the level is clear.  If things are tight at the
    beginning (and they were for me) just save before your last companion is
    killed and heal to establish a safe zone.  You can simply leave the lair if
    needed but, again, it's probably a bad sign if enemies are close enough that
    you have to leave and re-enter.

    Many enemies on this level will not spawn until you move past a certain
    point or from a certain direction, so be careful to clear out one group of
    enemies before moving on to another and clear the level completely before
    bringing your PC along to avoid unwanted XP for kills.
 
    A heavily trapped and locked chest in the southeastern-most room contains an
    emerald.
    There's a vein of Ore in the northeast corner but I didn't collect it (or
    the 50xp it yields) until after I got Bishop.
    A room slightly northeast of the entrance has some starved wolves.  With
    Elanee in your party they won't attack you.  Instead, when the conversation
    starts, say "I don't want to hurt them" for +1 influence with Elanee (4
    total) and allow them to leave for +2 influence (6 total).

    It is possible to raise your influence with Elanee here well past 20 by
    simply closing the door to this room before speaking to the wolves, then
    speaking to them multiple times as they leave (and making the appropriate
    conversation choice).  Personally, I found this be a too much of an exploit
    and therefore chose not to do so.  In addition, it's not necessary to have
    Elanee's influence be very high to prevent her from leaving the party near
    the beginning of Act III - while confronting her corrupted kin in the Circle
    of the Mere.

    A makeshift throne room near the center of the map has a chest that
    contained a set of thieves' tools +1, 10 arrows, an alexandrite, a
    tanglefoot bag, 7 bullets, thieves' tools +6, holy water, 22 bolts and
    choking powder.  A so-called torture chest in the northwest corner contained
    a journal, Mage's Battle Robe (both fixed) and an emerald.

    Just before proceeding to level 2 of the lair I let the wounded orcs die in
    peace for +1 influence with Elanee (now 7 total).  This also resulted in a
    two point alignment move toward Good and +1 move towards Lawful.  You can
    choose to build influence with Casavir here instead, but not both of them.

      Eyegouger Lair - level 2
    This level requires establishing a safe zone just like the start of level
    one, but it's not as hard.  The main difficulty is having Neeshka stealth
    around and disarm the first two traps without the orcs noticing first.

    A room east of the entrance has a trapped and locked chest with a
    Neverwinter Kukri in it.  There are also three barrels in the room.  The
    first one by the bed had an alexandrite and 9 bullets.  The second one had
    an alexandrite and 9 arrows.  The last one has 6 bullets, an alexandrite and
    30 bolts.

    The locked and trapped chest by Chief Logram gave me an alexandrite, acid
    flask, thieves' tools +1, a scroll of cure minor wounds, holy water, 15
    darts and healer's kit +1

      Eyegouger Lair - level 3
    When you encounter the lined-up bodies on level three, respond to Casavir by
    saying "these bodies deserve funeral rites, not to rot in a cave like this"
    for +2 influence with him.  Then, when Elanee says she's felt this darkness
    before, answer with "we have a responsibility to find out what's going on
    here" for another +2 influence with Casavir (total 4).  Finally, when
    Neeshka expresses her reservations about the place, support her by stating
    "I trust your instincts on this one - but I'd rather know what's here than
    have it come after us later" for +1 influence with her (18 total).

    Just prior to fighting the shadow priest on level three I went back to the
    Sunken Flagon to exchange Neeshka for Qara.  Then when the shadow priest
    announced his intentions to take Qara I had the PC respond, "I won't let you
    have her" for +1 influence (now 15 total).  Once the priest and his lackeys
    are dead, I went back to the flagon and swapped out Elanee and Qara for
    Grobnar and Neeshka.  Using Grobnar's inspire competence skill was the only
    way to recover the trap on the shadow priest's chest and open the lock
    without using thieves' tools.  In retrospect that wasn't worth the time for
    the gold saved - just use theives' tools.

    When you meet Issani let him know, "we're here to help" for another +2
    influence with Casavir (6 total).

    At the south end of the first main room is another (third) vein of ore,
    which I did not collect until after I got Bishop.  Again, looking back since
    there was no way to get Bishop at level 3, there was no need to wait.
    The southwestern-most room has a chest that yielded an alexandrite and
    choking powder.
    A chest in a south-easterly room had an emerald inside.
    A chest in the chamber just north of this gave me an alexandrite,
    thunderstone, choking powder, 9 arrows and an acid flask.
    A crate in the northern-most room contained an alexandrite, alchemist's
    fire, 18 arrows and 2 choking powders.

  Old Owl Well - part 2
    Just before speaking to Callum I picked up the other three Ore deposits I
    had skipped earlier.  The first was on the west side Bonegnahser cave, the
    second was on the east side of the first level of the Eyegouger cave and the    
    third was on the third level of the Eyegouger cave about halfway through
    (this brought me to four veins of ore total). I also spoke to Guyven of the
    Road (250xp), bringing me to 5857 XP.

    When you meet Callum again you'll be awarded 1000 gold and the Greataxe Re's
    Redemption for rescuing the Waterdeep Emissary.  You'll also get 500xp for
    bringing back Logram's Eyegouger's Banner (this brought me to 6357xp).
    After some experimenting, I found the only way to avoid getting "Logram's
    banner" is simply not kill him - it doesn't matter whether you have any
    of his loot, including the Orcish Medallion, when talking to Callum.

    Unfortunately, killing Logram is a requirement to move on with your quest
    and keep the plot-line moving smoothly.  Keep in mind when Logram dies he
    does drop a Watchmen's Helm, a Luckstone (the ONLY item in the original
    campaign which directly boosts the appraisal skill), +2 chainmail, and the
    warmace Ardulia's Fall.  

    When speaking to Callum be sure to stand up for Casavir by saying, "whatever
    trouble Casavir is in, know that he helped us - and you - willingly" for +1
    influence and, "you'll have us to protect you as well" for another +1 (now 8
    total).
    
    Before leaving to see Brelaina ask Pentin about a reward (for a final total
    of 300 gold) by saying, "is your life really only worth 30 gold?"
    
    Once you report to Brelaina about the rescue of the Waterdeep Emissary
    you'll receive another 500xp (this brought me to 6857xp) and your next
    assignment - the Sea Ghost.  However, now that my party was level 4 I chose
    to level up and take care of Khelgar's Dwarven Scouts side quest before
    going there.

  Dwarven Scouts
    Since there's no way to get Bishop before level 4 this is a quest that, in
    retrospect, would've been better completed before dealing with the
    Bonegnasher or Eyegouger Clans because the Gauntlets of Ironfist you get
    here make every fight easier.  I managed without them, of course, but it
    would've been better if I had use of them earlier.
    At the end of the conversation with Khulmar tell Khelgar, "We are with you"
    for +3 influence (5 total).
    A set of crates north of the Dwarven scouts yielded a greenstone.
    At the north end of the map is an unlocked chest that gave a Canaith
    Mandolin, an emerald, healers kit +3, a scroll of invisibility sphere, a
    wand of magic missiles, and a scroll of remove paralysis.
    Farther along the map are a group of bugbears debating how tasty Khayar
    might be.  After freeing him say, "I am honored" for +1 influence with
    Khelgar (6 total).
    Along the way to the Ironfist Clanhold is weapons rack, tucked away on a
    ridge after Khayar with a +1 composite longbow (fixed).

    Ironfist Clanhold
    It will take some maneuvering to distance the companions from your PC once
    you enter and have to immediately attack the bugbears.  Just use the same
    tactics as with the Eyegouger clan on level one to kill the first wave
    bugbears with no XP; it's not as hard to do here.
    There is another vein of Ore just up the first hallway that yields the usual
    50xp (6907xp total; 5 veins of ore total).
    I brought Grobnar in once I reached the gears so he could figure it out and
    have the PC say "well done" for +1 influence with him.  You have the
    opportunity to raise or lower your influence with Khelgar and Neeshka by 1
    each here.  I chose to give a neutral response to keep Khekgar's influence
    at 6 and Neeshka's at 18. You can increase influence with Neeshka (and lose
    it with Khelgar) by +1 saying, "any treasure belongs to us now" or the
    reverse by saying "We're not here to act as scavengers."
    There's a pile of gold with variable yield by Grausch that I was able to get
    274 from.  The chest in the room with Grausch contains the (almost
    indispensable) Gauntlets of Ironfist. Offer them to Khelgar for +4 influence
    (now 10 total).  When you speak with Khulmar again he'll give you 300xp, but
    I chose to avoid doing this until just before I went to the Githyanki base.

  Merchant Quarter
    Leldon's Hideout
    Note: you can complete this quest in ACT II without impacting the storyline.
    I chose to do it once I had Grobnar as a companion because:
        A) I thought I could (a challenge is a challenge, after all)
    B) There's no way to get Bishop earlier than level 4 and
    C) it didn't prevent me from recruiting Sand or Shandra at level 5 at the
    start of ACT II

    Now that I had the Gauntlets of Ironfist and my PCs companions were level
    four I set out for Leldon's hideout.  Leldon's hideout is best handled in
    two stages.  The first is recovering the various noise traps without
    alerting his small army of thugs.  Do this by bringing Grobnar, Neeshka and
    Khelgar for the first stage.  Have Grobnar use the inspire competence
    inspiration and the spell Heroism while Neeshka recovers noise traps after
    using an invisibility potion (one should be enough to recover them all).
    Once all the traps are recovered and Neeshka's invisibility potion wears
    off, have her shepherd the thugs into the large room with Khelgar following
    behind to get them to the north side of the room.

    The second stage is to swap out Grobnar for Qara, who at level four, can now
    cast Fireburst; this is the key to easily defeating all the thugs.  Just
    have Khelgar run into the room (or act as a doorstop to the thugs) while
    Qara casts Fireburst until she's dead.  Then simply re-load, heal the party
    by the PC (who should be right by the southernmost entry door) and repeat
    until the thugs are finished off.

    The Armoire in the western-most room contains a scroll of resistance, a wand
    of magic missiles, an emerald, healer's kit +3 and wand of lesser summons.
    A Wardrobe next to it has a Robe of Electrical Resistance. Piles of treasure
    by Leldon's chest gave 299, 27, 299, 55, 58 and 55 gold.  Leldon's chest
    yielded an emerald.

    The next time you return to the Sunken Flagon, Wolf will tell you how Leldon
    wants to meet your PC and Neeshka in the Merchant Quarter (this only happens
    if you don't set off any traps in Leldon's hideout, otherwise you have to
    fight him there).  The dialogue options give the impression you can refuse
    the "offer", but you can't.  When you meet Leldon, respond to his threat to
    kill Neeshka by saying "Touch her, and you die" for +1 influence (now a 19),
    then run to the guards by the Watch HQ and let them correct Leldon's
    misunderstanding about using violence to solve problems on city streets.
        You earn 400xp after they defeat him (7307xp total).

  Docks District
    Ahja the Azure
    Ahja is an easy kill.  Simply lead his minions to the guards by the torched
    City Watch HQ and let them take care of his thugs.  Then have Qara stand
    just inside magic missile range to kill him.  Ahja drops a +2 quarterstaff,
    a gold necklace, a book titled "accoutrements of masterful wizardry and
    their construction", a potion of bless and an alexandrite.  I got 300xp
    after reporting his defeat to Brelaina (7607xp), who then directs you to
    deal with some assassins.

  Merchant Quarter
    Githyanki Hideout
    Brelaina sends you out to stop assassins but the location is actually a
    Githyanki hideout.  The key to defeating the Githyanki here is to fight them
    in small groups by leading them up the corridor to the north just outside of
    the room where the Blade Golem will appear.  They are far too dangerous to
    deal with in larger numbers (at least when you're only level 4), being an
    effective combination of good fighters, spell casters and magic resistant.
    Fighting them in piecemeal fashion will allow your companions to wear them
    down and, if killed, appear next to the PC who remains safe just next to the
    entrance door.  The last batch of Gith, just southwest of the room with the
    Blade Golem, are the largest group. They're an ideal choice for dispatching
    the Blade Golem once all the others are dead.  Just lead it to them; it will
    take a few of them out (along with the companion who leads it there) before
    it's weakened and forced to retreat back through the gate from which it
    appeared.  You can then finish off the rest of the Gith.

    A cautionary note about the numerous Githyanki here: they will appear in
    multiple waves, depending on where you are and what direction you're
    approaching from.  Sometimes they will appear more than once in the same
    location, so be careful not to move too quickly down any corridor or you
    might find them being lead to the PC by accident.

    There is no useful treasure anywhere here.  The best you'll find is a locked
    and trapped chest in the room where the Blade Golem appears, containing only
    a Wand of Sleep.
    
    Once you defeat the Gith, Brelaina will award you with another 300xp (7907
    total) and finally let you seek out Aldenon the Sage in the Blacklake
    District.
    
  Blacklake District
    Neverwinter Archives
    When you speak to the caretaker you'll get another 250xp (8157).  I swapped
    out Neeshka temporarily for Casavir to say "I vow to protect Neverwinter and
    keep its secrets safe" for +1 influence with Casavir (now a 9).
    
    After defeating the Githyanki here (not an especially difficult task with
    Khelgar's newfound Gauntlets of Ironfist and the Greataxe, Re's Redemption)
    but before solving all the riddles I collected the loot from the chests,
    moving counter clock-wise from 6:00pm by the entrance to the Archives and
    back again.  Take care to examine or keep the books as they may be needed to
    have the correct dialogue options available to answer the questions of the
    books on the four pedestals correctly.  They may also help during the trial
    in ACT II.

    * the first chest at 5 o'clock had two lesser wands of summoning
    * the second chest at 3 o'clock had a lesser wand of summoning & scroll of
      magic vestment
    * the third chest at 1 o'clock had an emerald
    * the fourth chest at midnight had 2 alchemist's fire, a wand of arcane
      disjuncture and a scroll of glyph of warding
    * the fifth chest at 11 o'clock had an alexandrite, potion of lore and a
      healer's kit +1
    * the sixth chest at 9 o'clock had a scroll of protection from alignment and
      wand of arcane disjuncture
    * the seventh and final chest at 5 o'clock had two lesser wands of summoning
      and a scroll of remove fear

    Answering all of the questions correctly the first time will earn you a
    periapt of wisdom +2, along with a +3 influence gain with Grobnar (for a
    total of 4).  The pedestal asking about the Luskan Threat to Neverwinter
    earns no additional influence with him, even if answered correctly.  Also,
    the pedestal that asks questions referencing the book "To Counter the
    Assumption of a Flat Faerun" will only earn you +1 influence with Grobnar if
    it asks the question, "What does the author believe pulls objects towards
    the ground", so be sure to save only if it asks this question.

    After the Neverwinter trivia quiz, I swapped out Grobnar for Casavir before
    the final fight with the Githyanki in the archives, making it an easier
    battle.  Reading the archives afterwards brings you to Shandra's Farm again,
    for a reluctant rescue.

  Highcliff
    Shandra's Farm - Part Two
    None of these battles are particularly difficult.  It's just a matter of
    keeping the PC far enough away from the action to avoid XP.  Once you're in
    Shandra's home, it involves shepherding the first three Githyanki northeast
    while moving the PC to the southwest room; the diagonal positioning makes it
    easier to establish a good distance.  After the first dialogue with Shandra,
    run the PC away in the most expeditious way, but eventually to the
    southeastern room instead so you can have your companions safely fight with
    no risk of XP.

    You can't rest in Shandra's home, but there's nothing to stop you from
    leaving, resting and returning to wear the Githyanki down until they're
    defeated.  With Khelgar, Casavir and Neeshka leading the charge it shouldn't
    take many rest-and-reloads to accomplish this.  I found it helps to use the
    door to the room where Shandra goes as a bottle-neck to let Khelgar and
    Casavir take them out in controlled numbers.

    You'll earn 500XP when you finally rescue Shandra (which is to say, when she
    finally *lets* you rescue her) and she agrees to come back with you to the
    Sunken Flagon for her protection (This brought me to 8657xp).  Ironically,
    Shandra is finally kidnapped by the Githyanki during the cut-scene following
    your arrival and you'll then have to deal with their raid of the tavern,
    which serves as a delaying tactic and cover for her being spirited away to
    their base.

  Docks District
    The Sunken Flagon - get Bishop at level 4
    Like many situations before this one, the best way to deal with the enemy
    (Githyanki) here is to let the NPCs handle them for you.  Since none of your
    companions are in your party in this battle (they act as plot characters)
    they'll kill the enemy for you earning no XP in the process.  In particular,
    Duncan can't be injured and he'll club all the Githyanki into submission -
    alone if need be. Just lead them to him and watch the other-worldly
    bar-brawl.

    You'll earn 250XP for surviving the Flagon raid (this brought me to
    8,907xp).  Bishop will then be pressed into service with you, as Duncan
    calls in an old debt, to rescue Shandra for a second time.

____________________________________________________________________________________
Quest clean-ups to level 5:

    Now that I had Bishop in my party at level 4, I set out to do quests I had
    skipped earlier and also to complete quests I had done, but had not
    collected rewards on.  The goal here was to bring my companions to just over
    10,000 XP and be level 5 before setting off for the village of Ember.  Being
    an extra level higher really helps there.  Plus, I wanted the leftover gold
    and items I had left behind now that I knew I had the XP to spare to still
    acquire Sand and Shandra at level 5 at the start of ACT II.

1) Docks District
     The Wounded Wolf
    When you meet the wounded wolf ask Elanee "is there anything you can do to
    help?" for +1 influence (now 8 total).  When Elanee speaks of the troubles
    in the land, be sure to mention the shards as a suspected part of the cause
    to prevent a loss of influence.  This results in 250xp (9,157 total) and
    reveals Skymirror on the world map.    
2) Skymirror
    Speaking with Naevan results in 400xp (9,557 total) and brings about
    eventual combat with a shadow priest who dropped a scimitar +2, light shield
    +1 and thieves' tools +10 after his defeat.
3) Highcliff
    Speak to Juni for her quest to find William and Mozah for the other half of
    his money.  When you find William, just speaking with him will net you 75xp
    (9,632 total).  You can extort 100 gold from him in exchange for keeping
    quiet about his running away, although this results in a shift by 1 towards
    evil.
    When you recover Mozah's backpay you can lie to keep the entire 500gp (with
    a +1 shift towards chaotic), let him keep all of it (for a +1 shift towards
    good), or give him half for no alignment changes.  You'll get 125xp
    regardless of your choice (I was now at 9,757 total).
    Speaking to Juni again nets 150xp.  If the conversation ends with her being
    at least reasonably happy with you, another 75xp is earned (9,982 total) and
    a 200 gold reward, regardless of the outcome.
4) Fort Locke
    Speaking with Commander Tann about the dead Bandit Chief nets another 100xp
    (level 5 at 10,082xp) and 500 gold.
____________________________________________________________________________________

  Village of Ember
    I chose to fight here with Elanee, Khelger and Bishop (who remains as a
    required companion through the end of ACT I).  To prepare, Elanee can buff
    herself and Khelgar with Barkskin and use the spell Flame weapon on his
    Greataxe, Re's Redemption.  Khelgar can use the Scabbard of Blessing to
    bless the party.  Bishop and Elanee's animal companions can distract the
    Githyanki for a time while all three wear down the two waves that appear.
    At level 5, my companions took two re-loads to take them all down.

    You can build influence to 5 with Bishop here with the following, earning +1
    each time, with no loss of influence or alignment change:
    * When you enter the village for the first time, agree with Bishop the place
      doesn't seem right by noticing people are missing
    * After the above, suggest holding back and waiting to see what happens
      instead of rushing into combat
    * After dispatching the Githyanki, note that with a smaller force they'll be
      harder to track and move more quickly
    * Immediately after the above, suggest leaving Ember immediately
    * When Alaine appears, blame her and the village for allowing the ambush to
      happen

    To avoid a loss of influence with Bishop, when you meet Marcus, promise him
    riches in exchange for giving up his knife.  If you say you didn't mean any
    harm to the village, your alignment will shift by one towards good.  Giving
    Marcus Bishop's knife helps with the Trial in ACT II and nets you an extra
    magic item later (Bishop's dagger).

  Dwarven Scouts
    I returned to Khulmar to collect 300xp and ensure the plotline runs
    smoothly (10,382xp total).

Preparing for ACT II and cashing in:
    In order to keep all of your hard earned loot in ACT I it must be in the
    inventory of your PC or companions; you can't store items or gold in any
    other way between Acts.  Also, you should consider selling any unwanted
    inventory sell to the three merchants who will either not be present in
    ACT II or will not perform as merchants there (at a minimum, you should sell
    to Sand until he runs out of money with which to buy your items). Otherwise
    you'll have an over-abundance of items and may exhaust the ability of
    merchants to buy what you don't want or need when you decide to sell.
    Later, with proper management of Crossroads Keep, you'll likely have more
    gold than you'll need, but by then key merchants selling unique and/or
    special gear will no longer be available; timing is everything.  The three
    merchants, and their available gold reserves with which they can buy your
    possessions, are as follows:

    A) Jorik, with 51,999 gold, is at the Weeping Willow Inn (the Inn isn't even
       on the map in ACT II).
    B) Tor Millows, with 50,600 gold, is in Fort Locke (you can't interact with
       him at all in ACT II).
    C) Sand, with 100,000 gold, is at his shop in the docks district; his
       Merchant Elemental will act in his stead in ACT II - with a completely
       new inventory and a buy/sell pricing ratio that's worse than almost any
       other merchant in ACT II.

    A note about Sand in ACT I as a merchant: he is unique in this capacity in
    that all of his prices are roughly doubled - both for what he sells and what
    he buys. It may be more than mere coincidence that this pricing strategy
    lines up with a quote from Sand in the cut-scene where he is introduced to
    the PC during the first visit to the Sunken Flagon and he states, "... but
    just in case, bring a great deal of gold as well".  Unfortunately, Sand is
    like most other merchants in that his overall money pool for purchasing
    items is limited and, once you have exhausted it, the only way for Sand to
    be able to buy more from the PC is to buy something from him first - at
    about twice the normal price.  
    
    Therefore, remember two things about Sand as a merchant in ACT I:
    1) Try to sell him any items that would normally have a value of zero gold
       and, as such, cannot otherwise be sold
    2) Buy from him any items that are hard to acquire or you know you'll want
       for later, even if they're twice the normal price.  An example of this
       would be the ruby or the rare and highly useful fairy dust he sells

    Also remember when buying or selling to only do so with the PC's appraise
    skill enhanced as much as possible.  Since I was only level five near the
    end of ACT I, I    used the following enhancements, for a total of +7:
    * Grobnar's inspiration "Inspire Competence" (+2)
    * Luckstone                     (+1)
    * Heroism spell                     (+2)
    * Fox's Cunning spell (scroll or potion)     (+2)
    
    It doesn't really matter who you sell to first, but I preferred to start
    with Sand and made a point of prioritizing the bulkiest and heaviest items
    over lighter and more valuable ones to simplify my inventory.

    Also, it's important to note that, because Sand offers about twice as much
    for whatever you wish to sell, you can buy about 100,000 gold worth of items
    from other merchants and sell them to Sand at a profit.  In this way, you
    can earn about an extra 50,000 gold (as compared to selling your own
    unwanted monster drops that you paid nothing for).  However if you do this
    and you choose to sell your unwanted gear (to other merchants), you'll only
    get about half as much for it, so it's arguably a wash either way.  The
    exception being if you delay selling most of your unwanted gear until your
    appraise is higher, typically later in ACT II.  For now, I preferred to
    avoid this kind of merchant manipulation and sold unwanted gear directly to
    Sand.  

    When I went to trade with Jorik at the Weeping Willow Inn I finally spoke
    with Gera.  Doing so earned 150xp (10532 total) and 25 gold.  You can get an
    additional 25 gold (and a +1 chaotic alignment shift) with a successful
    Diplomacy check.

    Once all the selling was out of the way I put Neeshka and Grobnar in my
    party and had her steal from everyone I could. I couldn't steal from Jorik,
    presumably because of the Duergar combat going on and it wasn't worth the
    gold for all the XP I'd get by killing them, so I skipped stealing from him.

    Finally, in case you haven't done so, remember to make sure you pick up all
    five ore deposits available in ACT; they won't be available in ACT II:
    * two are with the Bonegnahser Clan - one is at the back of the Troll cave
                          the other is in the Bonegnasher cave
    * two are with the Eyegouger Clan   - one each on the first and third levels
    * one is with the Dwarven Scouts    - the ore is in the (currently
                          abandoned) Clanhold

  Githyanki Base Approach
    Remember to speak with Guyven of the Road.  Be polite and hear out his
    story, which also provides a prelude to how King of Darkness came to be.
    The conversation nets you another 250xp (10,782 total).  While you can skip
    speaking with Guyven, doing so loses out on a valuable magic item later in
    ACT III and an amusing token honorific (feat).

  Githyanki Base
    Level one
    Remember to fully buff your party before entering the base.  Bishop can use
    the Scabbard of Blessing on the party and Grobnar can cast Heroism on Bishop
    and Neeshka before you go in.  I also gave Bishop the Gauntlets of Ironfist
    and Re's Redemption for those moments when it's better to cleave the enemy
    than shoot them full of arrows.  Finally, I had Neeshka use the bard item
    Doss Lute for the spell Ghostly Visage it provides (for 30 rounds at a
    time); her use of this item is possible once Grobnar's Heroism spell and
    inspire competence inspiration are active.

    As soon as you enter the base, you'll have a conversation with the Gith
    SwordStalker who killed Aime before the battle that can be as long or short
    as you like, for more historical background and context for why they're
    hunting you (and some possible entertainment as well).  To fight the Gith
    here with no XP, rush forward to where the Succubi are to before killing.  A
    few guards are likely to move after your PC. This is fine, but remember to
    have a companion go back to lure them away towards your battle action so
    by the time your last companion is at deaths door you can save and re-load
    with enough space to rest without having to leave.  The succubi can be
    annoying if they cast Ghostly Visage.  If they did, my preference was to
    kill the Gith first and then, if their spell is still active, have Bishop
    cleave them with Re's Redemption; its magic damage appears to bypass that
    spell.

    Level two
    When fighting the Succubi down here, leave the PC by the door and rush to
    the Northeast or Northwest corners to kill without risk of earning XP.
    When you finally speak with Mephasm and Neeshka threatens him, respond by
    saying "I don't trust him anymore than you do, Neeshka, but follow my lead,
    all right?" for +2 influence (21 total).  When Mephasm speaks of the barrier
    ahead, respond with "So what?" for another +1 influence (22 total).  When he
    suggests banishing him to remove the barrier, recognize with a successful
    spellcraft check how "...if another extradimensional object touched it, it
    would collapse, wouldn't it?" for +1 influence with Grobnar (5 total).
 
    You can avoid a fight with Zaxis (a demon you'll have the olfactory pleasure
    of meeting again later) with a successful series of skill checks; she'll
    drop an Amulet of Will +3 regardless. Engaging in conversation with Zaxis
    reveals yet more behind the events that have unfolded, and will in the
    future.

    When the conversation with Zeeaire begins, be sure to warn her "You
    kidnapped Shandra against her will, and you will answer for that crime" for
    +1 starting influence with Shandra in ACT II.  Also, it is possible to cause
    two of Zeeaire's minions to leave before the impending battle, with a
    successful diplomacy check of 15.  Doing so also earns an additional +1
    influence with Bishop, but be aware this means losing the valuable
    Adamantine Heavy Shield and Bracers of Armor +4 they would otherwise drop. I
    chose to fight them all for this reason.  The Githyanki here are fairly easy
    to defeat anyway, even at level 5, provided you buff before the battle (just
    like with the Succubi) and run out of the chamber where Zeearie waits so you
    may both fight more effectively in the open and avoid Zeearie's meddling
    while you dispatch her minions.  Once her pawns are dead, you can safely
    proceed with sending Zeearie to her just end by smashing the arcane posts
    surrounding her interdimensional sphere, thereby saving the one Mephasm
    gave you to sell later on.

    Defeating Zeearie starts a conversation where you can learn why they
    hunted you and a warning of what comes your way later.  I chose to snap her
    neck (with a +1 shift towards evil) just before the end of the dialogue for
    +1 influence with Bishop (now 6) and 385xp (11617 total).

    Before leaving for ACT II remember to collect all the loot.  Re-loading the
    game to get the best possible yields from the chests on level two of the
    Githyanbki base was the most time-consuming part of ACT I; it literally took
    days to get excellent combinations of both emeralds and magic wands from the
    chests that could give them.  They are listed below as follows:  

    1st chest: at the southeast corner of the map by the entrance, it contains
           a robe of fire resistance, 8 throwing axes, a scroll of find
           traps and fox's cunning, a wand of magic missiles and arcane
           disjuncture and a potion of aid
    2nd chest: just north of the first chest, this one contains an emerald, a
           a lesser wand of summoning and a wand of arcane disjuncture
    3rd chest: in a northwest corner of the area before passing Mephasm, this
           chest contains 13 darts, 3 +1 darts, 46 bolts, a potion of
           barkskin, a wand of arcane disjuncture and a wand of magic
           missiles
    4th chest: farther east of the entrance, this one contains choking powder,
           a scroll of improved mage armor, a wand of magic missiles and a
           wand of arcane disjuncture
    5th chest: north of the 4th chest, it contains 23 shurikens, an emerald,
           healers kit +3, 4 +1 darts, a scroll of greater magic fang, a
           wand of lesser magic summoning and two wands of magic missiles
    6th chest: slightly southwest of Zaxis, it contains an emerald
    7th chest: slightly southeast of Zaxis, it contains an emerald
    8th chest: in the northeast corner of the chamber just before Zeearie it
           contains an emerald
    9th chest: just south of the 8th chest, this one has an emerald, a scroll of
           gust of wind and stinking cloud, 3 +1 throwing axes, a wand of
           magic missiles and a wand of arcane disjuncture

####################################################################################
                                        ACT II
####################################################################################

A note for ACT II: As noted in the beginning of this guide I chose to minimize my
gain of XP, to get Zjhaeve and the Construct before level 8.  I found that if you
start ACT II with your companions at level 5, the philosophy of minimal-to-no-XP
allows this and, if you choose to do so, the ability acquire Ammon Jerro in ACT III
at level 10 or eleven (probably not a good idea for most players unless you're
playing a Hellfire Warlock).  I also delayed completing some quests, especially
ones that gave a lot of fixed XP, until after I got Zhjaeve and the Construct just
near the end of level 7.

  City of Neverwinter
    Docks District
      Sunken Flagon
    Although the game's conversation dialogue states you receive 1500xp at the
    start of ACT II for rescuing Shandra (again), I only received 1050 (?) for a
    new total of 12,667xp.

    It's important to maximize your influence with Shandra to keep her loyal
    during the Trial later in ACT II.  Fortunately, there are several
    opportunities to gain influence with her before you even leave the Flagon:
    * At the start of ACT II when speaking to Shandra after Casavir does, say
      "she seems capable enough to me" for +2 influence (3 total)
    * Later in the conversation when she says "you're not leaving me behind",
      answer with, "you have my word - I will teach you what I know and stand by
      you" for another +1 influence (4) and +1 lawful shift
    * After asking Shandra about her family, tell her about Duncan for +3
      influence (7)
    * When speaking again with Shandra, choose one of the options where the PC
      shares some background about his/her mother for another +3 influence (10)
    * After observing Shandra looks "...a little lost" tell her finally "Don't
      worry, I have faith you'll pull through" for +1 influence (11)
    * In another conversation, tell Shandra "you look a little lost again" and
      then accept her apology for +1 influence (now 12 total)
    
    Docks District
    The first time you leave the Sunknen Flagon in ACT II with Neeshka, Leldon's
    latest fling, Tasha, will taunt Neeshka with their plan to rob the
    Collector in Blacklake.  Side with Neeshka by answering "If you want to rob
    this Collector before he does, I'm with you" for +2 influence (24 total) and
    a +1 alignment shift towards chaotic

    A note about the Merchant Fibba: If you're playing a PC that acts primarily
    as a spellcaster, the beginning of ACT II just might be the perfect time to
    pick up the highly useful light crossbow "Swift Flier" from this merchant,
    who is only available during ACT II.  Persistent haste is a magic property
    available on precious few items in any NWN2 module, and the Swift Flier is
    the ONLY item with this property in the original campaign.  

    These are the items with persistent haste that can actually be obtained in
    official campaigns of the NWN2 game:
    Swift Flier (OC)
    Swift Golem legs (MOB)
    Heart of Rasheman (MOB)

    Although I played a Warlock variant, I didn't buy this item until just
    before the fighting the vigilante guards in Port Llast.  I liked using the
    Swift Flier to quickly get distance from enemies to avoid experience from
    party companion kills, at least until I was character level 6 and could cast
    Flee the Scene on my own (and with an ECL of 2, that meant level 8 for the
    rest of my party).  

    However, my PC didn't use it at all once I assumed control of Crossroad Keep
    until all my bargaining with Mephasm in ACT III was done.  This was because
    of a misunderstanding of how his final bargain comes to be offered - a
    misunderstanding that was later corrected.  If you choose to bargain with
    Mephasm (an option that only becomes available during ACT III) as I did, one
    of the bargain options you may choose involves getting a statistic boosting
    item called "infernal token of Mephasm".  The Token will boost a statistic
    of your choosing by 3 points simply by keeping it in your inventory (and not
    in a storage container, such as a bag of holding).  Like almost all other
    statistic enhancing items, its bonus will not stack with others.  

    I wanted Mephasm's Infernal Token but, due to bugs in the game, getting this
    item is more specific/difficult than it lets on, and the bargain has
    caveats.  Specifically, at the Keep, Mephasm will offer to grant this token
    in exchange for the PCs "most prized possession" after 3 bargains have been
    completed - and where each bargain uses one Infernal Focus (the "final
    bargain" itself does not use an infernal focus).  After some experimenting,
    I found the most prized possession appears to be determined as follows:

    1) Each time you enter the Crossroad Keeep courtyard the game will:
       * check your gloves if your main class is Monk
       * check your armor if your main class is Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard
       * check your main hand weapon for any other class, but if your weapon is
         the Silver Sword of Gith, fall back on armor
       However, there are severe bugs that prevent the game from checking the
       favorite item properly.  In particular, Mephasm will take your favorite
       weapon instead of armor (if you're an arcane spellcaster) and will take
       away the Silver Sword of Gith from you, if that's your favorite weapon.
    2) You must have 8 or more levels in a class for it to be considered your
       main class.
    3) The item selected in this way must be the same the last three times you
       entered the courtyard.  
    4) The item selection is only applied/checked *after* you have bargained at
       least three times with Mephasm.  Specifically, you must enter the
       courtyard (with the same qualifying item) at least three more times after
       you have already bargained with Mephasm at least three times.
    5) The item must currently be equipped when you talk to Mephasm for the
       final bargain option to be available.

    Failing to meet all of the above criteria will result in Mephasm not making
    the offer.  Especially, take note of qualifiers three through five: if you
    don't meet all of them, the trade option for the final bargain - and the
    infernal token that results from it - may never appear.

    Blacklake District
    As soon as you finish speaking with Tasha, head directly to Blacklake with
    Neeshka, Elanee and Grobnar in your party.  First, steal a Magic Bag and
    Chime of Opening from the merchant Dayne Lynneth; buy from him later.  You
    can now store all of your heavy, valuable and/or useful items in this bag
    (which provides 60% weight reduction) with Khelgar or another high strength
    companion until you decide to sell or use them later.

    Second, while you're in the area, take the opportunity to have Neeshka steal
    from the other merchants in the area.  Collectively, they offer a lot of
    gold.  In particular, the book merchant has a scroll of invisibility sphere,
    while the Tiefling merchant has a gold necklace, seven hundred and fifty
    (as in 750) gold rings and a diamond.  Sold individually, these lesser gold
    rings are, in fact, worth less than a standard silver ring, but they are
    worth more than copper rings.  200 gold rings alone can fetch about 9980
    gold with an appraise of 11.  Note that because the rings are stolen, they
    can only be sold to merchants that act as a fence, such as Haljal Throndor
    or Yask in Port Llast.  Also, they can only be sold to standard inventories,
    not Blessed of Waukeen that Haljal also has.

    Third, head over to assistant kennel-keeper Jenks.  With a successful
    diplomacy check you can gain +1 influence with Elanee (now a 9) by
    responding with "You'd get better results with a firm voice and a kind hand"
    when he reveals he beats the imps he has trapped in the crates.  You can
    then head north to speak with Kiggo, the Imp who wants to free his friends.
    I chose to decline his request so I could kill him and the imps later for XP
    and loot, but you can choose to free them if you want, earning some scrolls
    from Kiggo and a +10 Chaotic shift in the process.

    Fourth, head over to the Amphitheatre to play in a competition with Cain
    Lethellon for his instrument, the Golden Lute of Shazar.  By using Grobnar's
    Heroism spell and his Inspire Confidence inspiration while wearing the
    Lesser Amulet of the Master and using the Beguiling Influence invocation
    (now you know I was playing a Warlock variant) it would've been easy to beat
    Cain with successful skill checks, but I didn't want the XP for doing so.
    Specifically, I could intimidate him after the first two tunes and use
    Diplomacy after the last one.  Asking Grobnar to join you in playing the
    last tune earns +3 influence with him (and I did so, now 8 total).
    The songs require these strings:
    First:  44124754
    Second: 234451122
    Third:  2332233175
    Fourth: 35345272725
    If you fail the competition, as I chose to, you can still set Cain on fire
    to get his lute (and a +1 shift towards evil in the process).  Since I
    failed, I remained at 12,667xp and moved one towards Evil (02/09).

    Fifth, head over to the Collector's Mansion and speak with Kyli Bruce.  At
    the appropriate conversation points say, "Lisbet should do as she pleases. I
    always did." for +1 influence with Neeshka (now 25 total) and a +1 Chaotic
    shift (which I chose to offset with another conversation choice to stay at
    (02/09).  Then volunteer to bring her sister Lisbet back by stating, "Don't
    worry, Kyli.  I'll bring your sister home, safe." for +1 influence with
    Elanee (now 10 total) and a +1 shift towards Good (02/10).  I chose to save
    this quest until just before the end of ACT II.

    Merchant Quarter
      Watch Headquarters
    Speak to Captain Brelaina to accept the quest at the Gannish Estate.  Then,
    after accepting the invitation to be a Squire from Sir Grayson, you'll be
    brought to the Solace Glade.

  Solace Glade
    Shandra will meet you here once Grayson departs.  When she arrives, thank
    her for coming by stating "I appreciate the concern, but I wouldn't want you
    to get into trouble if you stayed (+1 influence and +1 good, 2/11) and again
    before she leaves (+2 influence, for a total of 15).  Also, Shandra can,
    with some difficulty and re-loading (since you can't rest here), kill the
    assassins for you with no XP by having her fight them in one corner while
    your PC runs in the opposite diagonal direction.  Be sure Shandra's AC is as
    high as possible before you fight.  If you really need to, drink a few light
    healing potions to regain the health needed to finish them off.  I didn't
    need to do this and simply saved after every successful hit she scored
    without taking too much damage herself.  The assassin leader can be
    difficult to kill if you allow him to successfully cast Ghostly Visage, but
    I did not, so he was easily defeated.

    The assassins leader here has a fixed loot drop of a +1 scimitar and
    scorpion venom, with his minions having bee venoms.  The other portion of
    their drops are randomly generated upon your arrival there.  I got a potion
    of cure serious wounds from the leader, a +1 tower shield from one of the
    minions and a scroll of contagion from the other.

  City of Neverwinter
    Blacklake District
    After accepting Lord Nasher's charge to investigate the Massacre at Ember
    I was awarded 1000xp bringing me to 13,667xp. I then went back to the Docks
    District to get Neeshka to steal an Amulet of Acid Resistance from Pepin.
    This must be done before you speak with him because once you buy the
    portrait of Shandra he disappears and does not return.  I then returned
    Neeshka to the Sunken Flagon and set out to the Merchant Quarter.
 
    Merchant Quarter
      Moonstone Mask
    You can get +1 influence with Sand here (1 total) by asking Ophala about
    Torio Claven and then complimenting Sand's abilities.  As with Elanee
    earlier in ACT I, it is possible to raise your influence with Sand here well
    past 20 simply by asking Ophala about Torio again multiple times (and making
    the appropriate conversation choices).  Personally, I found this be too much
    like a bug exploitation and therefore chose not to do so, although it is
    worth pointing out it's harder to raise your influence with Sand than Qara.
    So if you want to keep Sand instead of Qara at the end of the game when
    fighting the King of Shadows (I chose Qara) and have already nearly
    maximized your influence with her as I did, you may choose to leverage this
    bug anyway.  If you visit the Moonstone Mask before becoming a Squire, the
    Torio conversation option won't appear.

      City Watch
    Speaking with Captain Brelaina activates the City Watch undercover quest and
    opens the door to Gannish Estate in the Blacklake district.

    Before leaving the Merchant Quarter I bought the Rod of the Ghost from Pap
    for use during the rest of ACT II (and the upcoming battle at the Gannish
    Estate in particular) for 5,277 gold with an appraise of 11 and gave it to
    Elanee.  This left me with 219,962 gold.

    Blacklake District
      Empty Estate
    I brought Grobnar, Bishop and Elanee for the buffs and extra companions to
    fight the thieves here.  Successfully completing various skill checks allows
    you to complete the "sale" before fighting, earning 300xp (13,967 total) and
    7500 gold.  At level 5, it is an extraordinarily difficult task to create
    the right circumstances which allow any of the undercover watchmen to
    survive, let alone manage to kill not only Limm but his two backups and his
    other 4 shadow thief minions.  However, it can be done:  

    First, before battle, I did the following:
    1) Elanee cast barkskin on three of the four watchmen
    2) Shandra used her scabbard of blessing to cast bless on everyone, then
       cast aid on the three watchmen who had barkskin on them
    3) Grobnar cast heroism on two of the watchmen that had barkskin on them
    4) Grobnar and Elanee cast ghotly visage on themselves
    5) Grobnar started his inspire courage inspiration and then swapped out his
       Doss Lute for the Golden Lute of Shazar
    6) I placed all my companions in puppet mode and saved the game
    7) While speaking with the Undercover Watch leader I moved the dialogue
       along quickly to prevent my buffs duration from shortening
    8) Once combat began I saved the game again
    
    Once in combat I worked these strategies:
    1) Elanee positioned herself to cast call lightning to affect as many
       enemies as possible and soften them up for the undercover watch
    2) Using the Shazar Lute, Grobnar positioned himself to caste haste on as
       many friendly combatants as possible, especially undercover watchmen; I
       got all of my companions and the two watchmen closest to me who were away
       from most of the shadow thieves - this was absolutely crucial to
       survival
    3) My PC and Bishop used ranged attacks on Limm and his two backups to bring
       down their hitpoints as quickly as possible
    4) As the battle progressed, Shandra and Grobnar distracted as many Shadow
       theives as possible to keep the heat off the undercover watchmen while
       my PC and Bishop used ranged attacks on either the healthiest opponents
       or the ones who were closest to Undercover watchmen who could finish
       them off
    5) Anytime an undercover watchmen killed a foe I saved the game
    6) Once most opponents were near death I had Shandra and Bishop run around
       the combat area as Elanee healed Watchmen (that didn't work very well,
       but it did distract the shadow thieves so I was OK with it).
    7) While I ran around, the Watchmen hit foes with attacks of opportunity
       (and that did work well, especially with the two hasted watchmen)
    8) While number 6 and 7 were underway, Grobnar cast minor heal spells on the
       remaining two watchmen or got into melee with foes as needed
    9) Until near the end of the battle, re-loading was not useful because it
       re-positioned my companions and opponents in ways that were (usually)
       tactically unhelpful

    After three re-starts of battle and very slow fighting, with a great deal of
    pausing and un-pausing to micro-manage my companions, I was able to emerge
    victorious with two surviving watchmen, who landed the killing blows on all
    seven enemies.  I received zero experience for their deaths and only lost
    Elanee in the fight.
 
    Most of the drops here appear fixed.  Aside from what Limm had, I got a
    +2 dagger, a +1 heavy shield, 2 sets of 50 +2 shurikens, two +1 daggers, a
    +1 kukri, 17 bolts of frostbite, 53 gold and a copper necklace.  Limm's loot
    made the battle worthwhile: he dropped Rogue Links armor, a Greater Cloak of
    Protection vs Law, 50 +2 shurikens, a potion of lesser restoration, giant
    centipede venom and a +3 dagger.

    Once the battle is complete you can report to Captain Brelaina for 1,000xp,
    but since no direct interaction with her is needed in the future, I skipped
    it (at least for now).

    After swapping out Elanee for Khelgar, I chose to speak with Pepin Pollo and
    offered 500 gold for the portrait of Shandra for +2 influence with her (now
    a total of 17) and a +1 shift towards Good (now 2/12).  It may be possible
    to get more influence if you're playing a male PC and to lose influence with
    female companions if you speak to Pepin while female companions are present.

  Port Llast
    When you arrive, thank Sand for coming along for +2 influence (now 3 total).

    Eventually, while investigating here and before I moved on to the Alliance
    Arms Inn and Ember, I fought the 4 vigilante guards by the Inn rather than
    use diplomacy or intimidation to get them to stand down.  I did this for two
    reasons.

    First, while their loot drops are random and typically weak, they can
    occasionally drop good items.  It's important to note that like all
    opponents that generate random loot, their loot drops are generated the
    moment they spawn (in this case, the first time you visit Port Llast) not
    when they die.  Therefore, I didn't do anything else here until I first
    determined what they would drop when they were finally confronted later,
    just before I was ready to move on to Ember.  My best run had all four drop
    loot bags as follows:

    1) a bloodstone and 47 gold
    2) a glittering necklace, distilled alcohol a topaz and a Rod of the Ghost.
       The Rod of the Ghost, in particular, was quite a find - since only one
       merchant (Pap, in the Merchant quarter) sells it and, like almost all
       rods, any other class can use it - even while silenced.
    3) 183 gold
    4) a potion of antidote

    The second reason I fought was to have my PC run away to avoid all further
    XP.  If you pacify the watch guards to avoid combat, you'll not only miss
    out on potentially good gear but earn an unwanted 250XP in the process.

************************************************************************************
           GOLD EARNING TASKS PRIOR TO CONTINUING IN ACT II
************************************************************************************
A note before reading this section further: most of what is written here is for the
purpose of earning enormous amounts of gold to buy just about anything you want from
any merchant currently available - and most of the merchants in ACT II are by this
point.  In particular, the rare items only to be found with Dayne Lynneth in
Blacklake or Fibba in the Docks District of the City of Neverwinter are only
available during ACT II.  It's also useful to have plenty of gold for Haljal
Throndor in Port Llast since he also sells special stock, although he does remain
available in ACT III.  If you already have (or will craft) the gear you need and
don't have a need or interest in spending the time to earn the extra gold, you can
safely skip this section.

Now that I had finally reached Port Llast and seeded the Rod of the Ghost from the
short tempered guards there, it was time to get serious about getting the best gear
possible, from every merchant available, in preparation for the task of defeating
progressively difficult foes in the rest of ACT II while my party remained at very
low levels.  This was only possible for me at level 5 now that I had access to Nya
and the Greater Gloves of the Artificer she had available for me to buy.

Here was my shopping list, as divided into the 4 rounds in which I bought them:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Item                   Cost    Sold by        Primarily used by    
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
ROUND    Rod of Thunder & Lightning (1)    80,101    Nya        Shandra or whomever
 ONE*    Ring of Regeneration        73,143    Nya        Whomever needs it
    Swift Flier - lght crossbow (7)    31,739    Fibba        My PC
    Ring of Invisibility (6)    13,348    Nya        Sand or whomever
    Brooch of Shielding (5)        12,689    Pap        Shandra
    Mithral Scale Mail         3,402    Yask        Bishop
    Ysridian's Soul               521    Dayne Lynneth    Grobnar
    Sturdy Feet of Pim           456    Dayne Lynneth    Khelgar
                       215,399    at appraise 11

ROUND    Headsman - falchion (2)           379,471    Fibba        Casavir
 TWO*    Gutspiller - kukri (4)        66,638    Dayne Lynneth    Khelgar
    Scabbard of Keen Edges (2)    23,516    Repko        Casavir
                       469,625    at appraise 11

ROUND     Pharaoh's Mace (3)           248,014    Haljal Throndor    Casavir
THREE*    Boots of the Sun Soul +4    28,800    Dawnbringer    Grobnar then Neeshka
    Gargoyle Boots            14,515    Merchant Elem    Shandra then Casavir
    Boots of Hardiness +2        13,600    Dayne Lynneth    Elanee
    Ysridian's Touch         9,051    Haljal Throndor    Grobnar, then my PC
    Ring of Protection +3         8,936    Nya        Sand
                       299,625    at appraise 12

ROUND    Vengeance of Asenath           579,436    Dayne Lynneth    Whomever needs it
FOUR*    Alrec - Battleaxe (9)           195,707    Dayne Lynneth    Whomever needs it
                       775,143    at appraise 14

ROUND    Bracers of Blinding Strike (8)    68,363    Dayne Lynneth    Elanee
FIVE*    Graena's Bond            48,554    Dayne Lynneth    My PC (eventually)
    Amulet of the Master        45,600    Dayne Lynneth    My PC
    Great Wyrm Gauntlets#        42,968    Fibba        Khelgar as a Monk
    Falling Star - longbow        38,831    Dayne Lynneth    Bishop or Sand
    Cloak of the Bat        21,285    Dayne Lynneth    Neeshka
    Periapt of Wisdom +4        15,329    Dawnbringer    Zhjaeve
    Wanderer's Ring            13,989    Nya        Sand
    Anagrys' Mindmaze        18,820    Fibba        Sand or whomever
    Nymph Cloak +4            14,817    Dayne Lynneth    Grobnar
    Amulet of Health        10,780    Reylene        whomever needs it
    Amulet of Health        10,646    Dawnbringer    whomever needs it
    Necklace of Prayer Beads     8,846    Deekin        Zhjaeve, then my PC
    Shortbow +4             6,361    Haljal Throndor    Grobnar
    Heart of Ilum Lura         5,571    Dayne Lynneth    Bishop
    Ring of Might#             3,950    Judge Oleff    Khelgar as a Monk
    Robe of Blending         3,072    Simmy        Neeshka (eventually)
    Finch's Fine Chapeau         1,850    Deekin        My PC

    Various crafting item purchases 83,247    Various merch    Various
    (detailed later below)
    
                       462,879    at appraise 14
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total cost for all 5 rounds: 2,305,918
 
    1-9 These items are highly recommended as detailed below, in order of
    usefulness:
    1 The Rod of Thunder & Lightning produces a 20d6 Chain Lightning Spell
      (1x/day, DC 19) and (at least initialy) tops everything else in its
      usefulness until your spellcasters are very high level later in the game.
      I found this to be so for these reasons: it can be used by anyone, does
      not have to be equipped, works while silenced and also functions in the
      Duskwood area, where most other magic items won't past the 1st round
    2 The Headsman, when paired with the Scabbard of Keen Edges, will cause a
      critical hit 30% of the time.  If it does, a failed reflex save (DC20)
      will instantly kill targets not immune to critical hits.  This is an
      excellent weapon for Khelgar (espcially if he has greater weapon focus
      with a falchion) and can make short work of many battles.
    3 Pharaoh's Mace requires a hefty DC22 fortitude save for each instance it
      strikes undead (who are fairly common once the player assumes control of
      Crossroad Keep), instantly slaying those who fail it.  Unlike most weapons
      found in the Original Campaign, this one is and remains useful in any
      module where undead can be found, up to and including the Mask of the
      Betrayer.
    4 In battles with human opponents (a frequent occurrence, at least through
      Act II) Gutspiller requires a fortitude save on every hit (DC16),
      instantly killing the target if it fails.  It also works on more than just
      humans.
    5 Of particular use to non-spellcasters, the Brooch of shielding is very
      inexpensive, considering what it does:
      1) affords its user a +4 shield bonus to AC
      2) does not have to be equipped
      3) can be used by anyone
      4) after use by its holder, can be handed off to other (N)PCs to be cast
         two more times before resting is required to recharge it
    6 Cheap to buy, the ring of invisibility allowed my PC to easily run from
      and avoid combat, thereby avoiding unwanted XP.  It's also very useful in
      assisting Neeshka with recovering traps while not catching the attention
      of (most) enemies
    7 Swift Flier is the ONLY item in the OC that grants persistent haste,
      though its effectiveness is limited largely to spellcasters.
    8 Aside from the +4 armor bonus to AC, the Bracers of Blinding Strike allow
      any (N)PC to cast haste (level 10) four times before resting is required
    9 The battleaxe Alrec can be useful for turning almost any singularly strong
      opponent from foe to ally, under your full control, for up to 200 rounds
      of game time.  However, its usefulness is diminished by the fact that most
      powerful bosses are immune to mind affecting spells - Light of Heavens is
      an example.

        # The Great Wyrm Gauntlets & Ring of Might greatly enhance the damage
      potential of a monk in your party (such as Khelger, if you plan to convert
      him into one).  The Gauntlets in particular, are arguably more powerful
      than the Fists of Balance you can later acquire (from Rolan at the
      Monastery at Crossroad Keep) since they are +6, not +5, and the penalty to
      dexterity from wearing them is easily avoided.

      *    Round One of buying was done as soon as I purchased the Greater Gloves of
    the Artificer from Nya in Port LLast.  I was able to make those purchases
    with gold and (selling) items on hand.
      *    Round Two of buying was done after my party leveled up to 6, just before the
    Trial, when Neeshka was able to craft, and then sell, Deadly Gas Traps.  I
    also began my first round of crafting perfected choking powder here (and
    with every round of buying after this one), where Sand or Grobnar crafted
    672 perfected choking powders.  They were sold at 2,632 gold in stacks of
    10 to complete my purchases.
      *    Round Three of buying was done once I acquired Zhjaeve and the Construct
      *    Round Four and five of buying were done before I left ACT II, in conjunction
    with round 4,5, and 6 of choking powder crafting, after I had almost
    finished with the approach to Ammon Jerro's Haven


With all of the buying, selling and crafting I did, its important to take note of
the various monetary aspects involved:

WITH ONE EXCEPTION, ALL OF THE FACTS AND NUMBERS RELATED TO BUYING AND SELLING SHOWN
HERAFTER MAKE THE ASSUMPTION THAT YOUR PC HAS A (MODIFIED) APPRAISE SKILL OF AT
LEAST 11 AND ALSO HAS THE "Merchant's Friend" FEAT.  Unless otherwise indicated
below, if your (modified) appraise is lower than 11 and/or you lack the Merchant's
Friend feat, some of the advice listed below may be less profitable - or not work at
all.  As I mentioned near the beginning of this guide, assuming your character has
the merchant's friend feat, each point in appraise normally* results in a 1.55%
increase in gold paid for items you sell, and a 1.0388% discount for items you buy.

    In ACT II, you can buy trap kits from the following vendors:

        Fibba (docks district)             sells 25 trap kits
        Repko the Weaponsmith (docks district)     sells  7 trap kits
        Jacoby (fort locke)             sells  8 trap kits
        Yask (Port Llast)             sells  7 trap kits
        Pap (merchant quarter)             sells  2 trap kits

    Sand's Merchant Elemental sells an unlimited supply of: Belladonna, Garlic,
    Giant Bee/Centipede/Scorpion Venom glands, Distilled Alcohol, Leather Hides,
    Iron Ingots, Wooden Planks, Bone Wands, Blank Scrolls, and Magic Potion
    Bottles.  They are the basic crafting components for many items - most
    notably choking powder. You absolutely should buy as many Garlic and
    Belladonna components as you need to craft 49 Deadly gas traps

    It takes 343 (7*49) Garlic & Belladonna to make the 343 choking powders
    needed for 49 Deadly Gas Traps.  Garlic costs 4 gold, Belladonna 17 gold and
    finally a trap kit costs 16 gold.  I already had 60 choking powders. So,
    [(16*49) + (283*21)] = 6727  gold spent to buy all components for 49 deadly
    gas traps.

    Pap (Merchant Quarter) also sells an unlimited number of Garlic, Belladonna,
    Diamond Dust, Quicksilver and Venom Glands, albeit at higher prices.

    Each Deadly Gas trap can be sold for a small fortune, especially compared to
    other traps:

        (Deadly) Trap Type    Sell price
         Gas              2,688
         Fire               1,450
         Blob of Acid           711
         Tangle               162
         Holy               130
         Acid Splash           130

     With the sale of all 49 Deadly Gas traps, there is a profit of 2,688 for
    each, resulting in a profit of 131,712 for all 49.  The net profit is 2,651
    for each sale, or 129,899 net gold for all 49 of them (assuming you have no
    choking powders to start with).

    Merchants in the game operate on a pricing mechanism which may vary,
    sometimes significantly.  I express this possible variation as a Gold Ratio.
    This Gold ratio is listed in percentages based on selling one stack of ten
    (10) perfected choking powders, where its maximum resale value is 2,632.  If
    a merchant offered me this price, I rated them at 100%.  To the extent they
    offered a lesser price, this affected not only a lower price offered for
    other items, but also the price paid compared to other merchants selling the
    same item(s) at 100%.  Of course, this differing ratio was in effect for
    merchants found earlier in ACT I as well.  I didn't bother doing this then
    because I sold to three of them regardless, until their supply of gold was
    exhausted.  This included Sand (who had the best ratio in the game - about
    200%) and the other two merchants, Jorik and Tor Millows, who weren't
    available after moving to ACT II.  Also, I only bought one expensive item in
    ACT I (full plate mail).  It's probably best to wait to sell to these three
    until just before leaving for the Githyanki lair, when your modified
    appraise is as high as it can be at the time.  If you don't sell them out,
    the pool of merchants' gold you can access later on is diminished by around
    200,000.
         
    From the below table, it's usually a good idea to sell items worth slightly
    more than 10,000 gold to merchants with lower gold ratios.  Items worth
    12,000 or more to Jacoby or Edario at Crossroad Keep are probably best sold
    to them there rather than having the extra wasted on merchants elsewhere.  

    Also, it's worth noting the PC's companions can sell items to Edario and
    Jacoby at Crossroad Keep for more than what it costs the PC to buy them back
    due to a pricing strategy that's similar to Judge Oleff (if you refuse his
    reward for rescuing Onan).

    Merchant          Location        Gold Ratio    Starting Gold Pool
    Branson    Marlek          Highcliffe    100.00        50 (as in 50,000)
    Simmy              Old Owl Well    100.00        50
    Edario                Highcliffe    100.00        50
    Jacoby              Fort Locke    100.00        50
    Werth              Docks District    100.00        100
    Repko              Docks District    100.00        100
    Fibba            (5)   Docks District    100.00        100/100
    Deekin              Merchant Quarter    100.00        50
    Pap              Merchant Quarter    100.00        50
    Judge Oleff b4 rescue Merchant Quarter    100.00        30
    Dawnbringer b4 tithe  Blacklake Dist    100.00        100
    Dayne Lynneth   (5)   Blacklake Dist     98.48        100/100
    Reylene              Docks District     98.48        100
    Tarmas              West Harbor     96.92        50
    Yask            (4)   Post Llast     89.18        100
    Haljal Throndor (5)   Post Llast     89.18        100/100
    Nya              Post Llast     84.61    
    Sand's Merchant Elem  Docks District     82.44
    Dawnbringer   (1,2)   Blacklake Dist  90.53 (100.00)
    Jacoby          (2,3)   Crossroad Keep  68.92  (94.60)
    Edario @ Keep (1,2)   Crossroad Keep  71.62  (91.88)
    Judge Oleff     (2)   Merchant Qtr    75.66  (79.11)
    after priest rescue

      1 Dawnbringer and Edario (at Crossroad Keep) are two (of very few) merchants
    affected by use of Grobnar's bardsong "inspire competence" and the Cleric
    spell "Prayer".  If you use these to boost your appraise skill, be sure to
    apply them at a carefully calibrated distance, sufficient to increase the
    PC's skill but not the merchant's; this is best achieved with Grobnar and
    Zhjaeve in puppet mode.

      2 Edario and Jacoby (at Crosroad Keep only), along with Judge Oleff and
    Dawnbringer Natrisse, offer bifurcated pricing strategies that allow quick
    paths to wealth.  The PC's companions will obtain proportionately better
    selling prices (but worse buying prices) as a result of this duality, and is
    reflected in parenthesis.  Note that the split pricings of Judge Oleff and
    Dawnbringer Natrisse are not automatic: Dawnbrinbger will only offer hers if
    the PC returns the tithe box to Brother Merring, while Judge Oleff will only
    do so if the PC refuses his reward for rescuing the priest Onan from the
    Tomb of the Betrayers.

      3    At appraise 18 at Crossroad Keep, Edario and Jacoby give the seller about
    27.84% and 23.37% respectively more than what the dialogue box offer states
    (up to their purchase limit of 20K gold per item); this increased price is
    reflected in the dialogue history box.  This may be a bug in the game
    similar to Oleff's (failed) pricing protection, intended to prevent the PC
    from selling him an item for more than its purchase price.  In this way you
    can exhaust their supply of gold with which to buy your items while actually
    selling them almost nothing.  I did not do this (as I consider it another
    unreasonable exploitation of a bug) but again, the money is there for the
    taking if you want it.

    Your companions will sell to Edario and Jacoby at Crossroad Keep at normal
    price offerings.

      4    Yask and Haljal Throndor act as fences, but Haljal will not while you're
    examining his more exotic items (available with the Blessed of Waukeen feat)

      5    These three merchants, who offer separate sets of special items for the PC
    due to the Blessed of Waukeen feat, also have completely separate pools of
    gold within these special sets to buy your items (although their buy/sell
    ratio remains the same).  So you can sell out these merchants with their
    normal offerings, but then proceed to sell to them again in their special
    items category until that pool of gold is exhausted as well.  It follows,
    then, that items sold to these merchants in their special items category
    will only show in those categories - if decide you want to buy them back
    later.

Because of their ability to sell unlimited quantities of certain items at prices
lower than any other merchant in ACT II, Jacoby (Fort Locke and Crossroad Keep),
Edario (Crossroad Keep), Oleff (Merchant Quarter), Fibba and Sand's Merchant
Elemental (both in Docks District) offer five rare opportunities to earn vast
amounts of gold; the amount you can earn is limited only by the total of every
(accessible) merchant's pool of gold from which they can buy what you're selling.  Jacoby and Fibba, in particular, are the only two merchants in the game that can
sell unlimited numbers of iron ingots, leather hides and wooden planks for prices as
low as 2gp each.  

Remember, however, that when you buy from merchants, it also increases the pool of
gold from which you may then further sell to them in return.  So by using the
techniques listed below (at least in ACT II), you can buy anything you need from any
merchant and still have more than enough gold left over to fund every improvement
project at Crossroad keep without worry.  

1) A modified appraise that is high enough (13 or higher should be sufficient) will
   allow the player to buy individual iron ingots, leather hides and wooden planks
   from Jacoby (before being stationed at Crossroad Keep) or Fibba at a price of 3
   gold each and sell them back in bulk at higher prices. For example, an appraise
   of 20 allows the player to buy 99 iron ingots individually from Fibba or Jacoby
   at a cost of 297 gold, but sell them all back in bulk for 366 gold. Note that
   Jacoby and Fibba sell unlimited quantities of these three items.  This pricing
   variance also works with leather hides and wooden planks and begins with a
   quantity as low as two (if your appraise is high enough), where you can buy two
   iron ingots individually for 6 gold but sell them back together for 7.  Three
   individual ingots cost 9 but can be sold back for 11, and so on...

   This strategy only works if you buy these items one at a time, at a price of 3
   gold each.  If you sell to another merchant, who does not offer unlimited
   quantities of these items but can still sell them individually for three gold
   each (e.g. Repko the Weaponsmith), a quantity will appear once they have more
   than one of the item available to sell.  Buying more than one at a time from
   these merchants will result in their selling at the correct prices for multiple
   quantities, so be sure to only buy one at a time; you can still sell up to 99 at
   once - making money in the process.

2) Once Jacoby has been recruited and is stationed at Crossroad Keep, he can sell an
   unlimited supply of iron ingots individually at a cost as low as 2 gold (Appraise
   16 required).  At the Keep he and Edario buy back these ingots at profitable
   pricing percentages similar to number one above.  However, if you haven't left
   ACT II, you can sell these items to other merchants at a greater profit margin.
   For example, 99 iron ingots cost 198 gold at the Keep with Jacoby, but can be
   sold to merchants elsewhere for as much as 366 gold - a net profit of 168 gold.

   This method of buying and selling offers the first opportunity to make a net
   profit (specifically, from buying and selling ingots), even without the
   Merchant's Friend feat, due to the profit percentage of gold you can get from
   every sale.  However, a very high appraise skill is required to make a profit in
   this way without the Merchant's Friend feat (30+).

3) As mentioned later in this guide, if you refuse Judge Oleff's reward for
   rescuing the priest Onan from the Tomb of the Betrayers, he will reduce his
   buying and selling prices by about 25%, but ONLY for the PC - not his/her
   companions.  The fact that this applies both to items bought and sold by the PC
   only is crucial because (if your modified appraise skill is high enough - a 19 or
   more is needed) this reduction breaks the normal in-game protection against a
   player selling an item to a merchant for more than that merchants purchase price.
   Specifically, anything a party member other than the PC sells to Oleff is sold at
   full price, without the 25% pricing reduction.  The PC who refused his reward can
   then buy back the same item with Oleff's 25% discount in effect making a small
   net profit.  This small profit can be significant on more expensive items.  For
   example, Khelgar can sell the flail "Ardulia's Fall" to Oleff for 9,953 gold, but
   the PC can buy it back for 9,447 gold - a 5.08% profit.  In this way, you can
   easily buy everything Oleff has, plus exhaust his supply of gold, without having
   to surrender a single item.  Again, this method is not fast, but it is
   potentially available much sooner as long as your appraise skill is at least a 19
   at that (presumably earlier) point in the game.

   In addition, because Oleff sells unlimited quantities of every potion he offers
   (except his single Potion of Heal), you can buy an unlimited number of these from
   him and re-sell them to other merchants in the game (at higher prices) to pay for
   any and all items you desire.  This method of profit making does not require an
   appraise of 19 (although it is somewhat slower) and is the earliest profit making
   option of this kind (where you don't have to craft anything) and is available as
   early as ACT I in the game.

4) If Edario and Jacoby are recruited to Crossroad Keep, they offer a pricing
   structure very similar to Judge Oleff, except with a better ratio (possibly as
   thanks for their new and more rewarding posts).  For example, one of the PC's
   companions can sell a Major Circlet of Blasting to Edario for 19,990 gold, but
   the PC can buy it back for 15,580 gold.  Similarly, one of the PC's companions
   can sell the the Amulet of the Harpers to Jacoby for 19,930 gold (this, despite
   the offered price of 18,791), but the PC can buy it back from him for 14,520.
   Edario does not sell unlimited quantities of any goods but, as mentioned in
   method two above, Jacoby does.  This is the second method of buying and selling
   that offers an opportunity to make a net profit without the Merchant's Friend
   feat and is the simplest/quickest way to do so.

5) Sand's Merchant Elemental sells unlimited quantities of Garlic (4 gold) and
   Belladonna (17 gold).  These two reagents can be used to make choking powder, the
   most profitable grenade-like object you can make in the game.

   This method of buying and selling offers the third opportunity to make a net
   profit (by crafting choking powder), even without the Merchant's Friend feat, due
   to the profit percentage of gold you can get from every sale (around 150 gold net
   - with an appraise of 20), as detailed below:   

   Item           Total      Total        Net
         Purchase   Avg Sale   Profit
           Price     Price      (average)
   Standard    20(21)      26 (22)    6  (1)
   Improved    40(42)      78 (68)   38 (26)
   Greater    60(63)     118(104)   58 (41)
   Perfected    80(84)     295(260)  215(176)

   The above prices assume you sell to Fibba or Dayne Lynneth - other merchants may
   buy at higher or lower prices of varying margins.  The prices in parenthesis are
   roughly what you can expect with an appraise of 11

Because the fifth method is easily possible without use of the Merchant's Friend
feat or taking advantage of any in-game oversights on the part of the game designers
that allow for unlimited gold with virtually no work on the players part (e.g. the
unlimited gold/xp option by continually stealing and returning Arval's Journal to
Lord Nasher) I consider it a fair, though very lengthy, way to earn gold.  I made
use of this technique soon after it was practical to do so - once I reached Port
Llast.  If you're willing to invest the necessary points in craft alchemy for your
PC or one of his/her companions (I was not), you can begin this process as soon as
you start ACT II.  I chose to wait until I got to Port Llast to avoid wasting any
points in Craft Alchemy and also because, with the exception of Jacoby and Edario at
Crossroad Keep, Haljal and Nya represented the last of the merchants that became
available with high-value items I wanted to buy or steal from; the Rod of Thunder
and Lightning, in particular, was crucial to my strategy for success.

I did make one exception with skill points: Neeshka.  I spent 5 points to allow her
to craft Deadly gas traps when she leveled up to 5.  She had enough to spare that
the 5 point impact to her skill set was negligible and crafting perfected choking
powder is a very tedious business.  

The final price tag on all of the items during rounds three and four I wanted to buy
was 1,074,768 gold.  In addition, I wanted at least 150,000 left after buying all of
the above items, so I had to find a way to pay for it all.  I chose Sand's Merchant
Elemental and its path of a marathon streak of crafting perfected choking powder,
then selling the finished product.  PCP requires 4 each of the above reagents.  I
raised Sand's base craft alchemy skill from a 8 to a 16 (16 is needed to make PCP)
with the Greater Gloves of the Artificer

At appraise 11 and 12, garlic and belladonna cost 4 and 17 each.  Perfected choking
powder sells for as high as 263.2 gold at appraise 11, or 179 gold net profit on
each perfected choking powder sold.  The 263 price assume you sell to 100% ratio
merchants like Fibba - other merchants may buy at lower prices of varying margins;
Sand's Merchant Elemental, for example, will buy a stack of 10 perfected choking
powders at 2106 gold each - a very poor deal, so I never sold these to him.   

It took me about an hour using Craft Alchemy to turn 400 garlic and belladonna to
100 perfected choking powder.  Assuming one stack of 10 sells for 2632, that's a
maximum of 26,320 gold per hour, if you care to deal with that extremely tedious
work.  Put in other terms: spending an hour with this kind of crafting is roughly
the (mindless) equivalent value of finding ten (10) wands of Arcane Disjuncture to
sell.  So once you're able to craft perfected choking powder, this is a FAR better
option for earning gold than re-loading for better wands from loot spawns or trap
recovery as gear to sell later.

I did four rounds of crafting for my last three rounds of buying (and a lot of
binge-watching of Star Trek) according to the following timetables:
Round 1:    Done just after I defeated Lorne. I could've done this much earlier
Round 2:    After I was assigned control of Crossroad Keep, this was done once
        I had sold to Tarmas for a better pool of gold to buy reagents with
Round 3:    Done after I had activated the construct, leveled the party to 8,
        recruited Edario to the Keep, selling him and Branson out for a
        better pool of gold to buy reagents with.  This round of crafting
        took a while

        Also, once most of my party was level 8, I took the opportunity to
        craft these items (Caster must also have Craft Wondrous Item feat):
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    BELT OF AGILITY +8        Used primarily by Neeshka (but later by my PC),
    ------------------        provides a +8 bonus to Dextrity and Freedom of
                    Movement as per the spell
                    Requires:     Caster Level 8
                    Ingredients: Leather Hide + Radiant Air
                         Essence + Beljuril
                    Spell:      Cat's Grace
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    BELT OF CLOUD GIANT STR        Used primarily by Khelgar, provides a +8 bonus
    -----------------------        to Strength
                    Requires:     Caster Level 8
                    Ingredients: Leather Hide + Radiant Fire
                         Essence + King's Tear
                    Spell:      Bull's Strength
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    HEADBAND OF INTELLECT +8    Used primarily by my PC with merchants, provides
    ------------------------    +8 bonus to Intelligence
                    Requires:     Caster Level 8
                    Ingredients: Leather Hide + Radiant Fire
                             Essence + Beljuril
                    Spell:      Fox's Cunning
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Round 4:    Done after I almost ready to enter Ammon Jerro's Haven.  I was level
        9 and had crafted a helm of intellect +8, for a final appraise of 14
Round 5:    Done immediately after round 4 and some more selling of unwanted
        gear, I used the gold from the proceeds to the most expensive item
        in the game, the spear Vengeance of Asenath and some other items.  I
        left 92,904 gold left to purchase goods for my final round (6) of
        buying and then used those  proceeds for the rest of what I wanted
        before moving on to ACT III.  Round five of crafting, by far, took
        the longest - over a week, and also yielded the least amount of
        gold.  This was because I had exhausted the buying pool of more
        favorable merchants and instead had to sell a substantial portion of
        my earnings to Yask and Haljal Throndor, who only pay 89.18% of top
        value.  Once I was able to buy the spear Vengeance of Asenath from
        Dayne, this was no longer a problem.  
Round 6:    Done before I moved on to ACT III, this final round of crafting
        allowed for me to buy the rest of the items on my wish list.  In
        particular, it allowed for me to buy materials to craft valuable
        items for personal use or sale later for a great deal of gold, if I
        needed it, without having to craft again.

The results/details of the crafting and selling are detailed below:

Round    Amt of Garlic            Hours/        
    & Belladonna    cost    PCP    days to     Gross profit    Appraise required
    purchased    to buy    craftd    craft     from sale    at point of sale    
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1    2,688         56,448      672     7/1     176,870     11
2    1,748         36,708      437     5/1     115,018    11
3    5,816        122,136    1,454    15/3     388,654    12
4    3,900         81,900      975    10/2     266,677    14
5      14,444        303,324    3,611    38/8     908,854*    14
6    6,380        133,922    1,595    16/5     432,723    14
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
       34,976        734,438    8,744    91/20  2,288,796      

* At appraise 14, Yask and Haljal Throndor only offer 2430 for a stack of 10
  perfected choking powders, and since I sold 94 stacks of 10 to them (224,420 gold)
  earnings were somewhat diminished in round 5

Equally important was eliminating the need for the following tedious tasks for the
rest of the game, since I front-loaded all of that work with my money-grinding over
all the above collective crafting work:
    A) constant reloads just to get higher value items seeded out of loot
       generation for selling later (as opposed to gems, for example)
    B) crafting items of very low value (less than 1000) just to sell for gold
    C) recovering traps to re-sell (now I can just trigger them and regenerate)
************************************************************************************
************************************************************************************

  West Harbor & onward to other increasingly expensive merchants
    While fulfilling my wish list from merchants, I sold perfected choking
    powder and low-value gear to them as I bought to replenish my buying pool of
    gold, as long as their pricing ratio was 98% or higher.  This kept my buying
    and selling efficiency reasonably high until I finally moved to the likes of
    Haljal and Yask at Port Llast and Sand's Merchant Elemental, leaving me with
    enough gold to just buy from them without having to sell my PCP at
    relatively poor ratios.

  Port Llast & other locations
    After defeating the short-tempered vigilante guards, I visited the Alliance
    Arms Inn, spoke to Malin with Bishop in the Party and, at the first
    conversation option, said "If you have a problem with Bishop, I suggest you
    forget it while I'm here" for +1 influence.  Later in the dialogue, add
    "It's a good thing I have you instead of her" for another +1 influence (now
    an 8 total).  The barkeep and Malin offer the other two clues to corner
    Elgun in his fibs.  If you chose to expose his lies you earn 500xp (which I
    avoided for that reason and another - see below).  Calindra offers a quest
    to find her Partner Bradbury in Duskwood.  You must (eventually) find
    Bradbury if you wish to recruit Calindra to Crossroad Keep later when you're
    assigned control by Lord Nasher.  I chose to do this, along with several
    other tasks, only after I recruited Zhjaeve and the Construct at level 7.

    There's no need whatsoever to confront Elgun, and not doing so can lead to
    much more interesting dialogue during the Trial *if* you have the skills
    to back it up and you've spoken to Marcus or Alaine before the trial.
    Specifically, if you have the skill ranks in diplomacy (8), intimidate (7)
    and bluff (10) and Elgun is called as a witness by Torio, it can actually
    help your case much more than if he is not.

    While completing round one of buying I also did the following:
    1) accepted Nya's wyrmsage quest
    2) gave the Swift Flier to my PC (for now)
     3) had Neeshka steal from the above merchants to gain several thousand extra
       gold and these items:
       a) Thieve's hood     (from Yask   - gave to Neeshka)
       b) Bleederkin rapier (from Haljal - gave to Neeshka)
       c) Ring of Hiding     (from Nya    - gave to Neeshka, for now)
    4) have Grobnar forge my first suit of Mithral Full Plate for Elanee.  I
       raised his base craft armor skill from a 6 to a 18 (18 is needed to craft
       Mithral Full Plate) with the following enhancements:
        +6    Greater Gloves of the Artificer
        +2    Heroism
        +2    Inspire Confidence inspiration
        +1    Helm of Intellect +2
        +1    Grobnar's base INT enhancement

    I put the Mithral Plate on Elanee along with other gear for an AC as high as
    38, absent enhancements by spells.  I also gave her the Rod of the Ghost I
    looted from the Port Llast guards.  The complete package of defensive gear,
    coupled with a ring of regeneration, made her nearly invulnerable at lower
    levels to physical attacks and far easier for her to cast Call Lightning
    without interruption. It also helped take some of the heat off Shandra or
    Casavir while they tanked opponents.

    Also, from the Garrison, Neeshka can steal gold from Alaine (after unlocking
    the door to her room), a healer's kit +10 from Haeromos and an obsidian from
    one of the guards.

  Duskwood - visit one
    If you have Elanee with you the first time you enter Duskwood as I did, you
    can respond to her first concerns about poison in the area by answering,
    "Maybe we can get to the source of this poison and try to heal this place"
    for +3 influence (now 13 total).  Sand will also caution of a magic
    dampening effect from the trees in Duskwood.  When he does, thank him for
    the warning for +2 influence (now 5 total).

  Ember - visit one
    While in Ember you can pick up several clues for the trial but I waited
    until just before the trial to do so.  Instead I explored the Glowstone
    Caverns and Duskwood first.

    Going down the well will allow you to meet Marcus again for additional clues
    about the massacre and have him return Bishop's Dagger.  You'll receive
    750xp for the information (14,717xp).  He'll also appear at the trial in
    your defense.  There is a vein of Ore(#6) just by the bucket that I skipped
    until after I got control of Crossroad Keep, recruited Zhjaeve and activated
    the Construct.

    Just after speaking with Marcus in the well I spoke with Bishop and agreed
    that it's better to "stand up and fight" for +1 influence (9 total).  Then,
    ask him "Any thoughts on the trial?" and pass a diplomacy check when you say
    "If I obeyed everything I heard, then I wouldn't have any respect for
    myself" for +1 influence (10 total).  Continuing the conversation, when
    Bishop suggests you kill Ambassador Torio, agree by answering "That might be
    the best thing to do - and nicely ironic, considering the accusation" for +1
    influence (11 total) and a +1 shift towards evil (now 2/14).  Finally (for
    female PCs only), when Bishop suggests running away for a year or two to
    avoid the trial, agree with the idea for another +1 influence (now 12) and
    when he responds that Casavir wouldn't like it, reply stating, "His faith
    can keep him warm... or judging by his actions, keep him cold" for another
    +1 influence (now a 13 total).

  Glowstone Caverns    
    Before fully exploring the Glowstone caverns I eliminated Glek and his
    minions to avoid any xp, although if you bargain with him you get an
    interesting story (regretfully, about how they are a peaceful band) and an
    opportunity to avoid fighting them.  None of these battles were particularly
    difficult now that I had two Rods of the Ghost and the Rod of Thunder &
    Lightning to soften up opponents.  Don't forget the crossbow Glorious
    Revolution on the corpse near the vein of Ore (7 total so far) before the
    exit to Duskwood.  I skipped the ore, along with Kistrel, until after
    getting Zhjaeve and the Construct.  At this point I still had 14,717xp.

  Duskwood - visit two
    On my second visit here I chose to fight Lyssa and her forest friends.  I
    did that without Elanee in order to get the Dire Bear Claw from Lyssa's
    summoned bear and the Dire Boar Tusk from one of her forest friends.  If
    Elanee is present she will prevent Lyssa from summoning the dire bear or
    rallying her two animal companions to aid her.  While this is amusing to
    watch, it results in the loss of those two valuable reagents.  The Lesser
    Magic Bag and Alteration Powder Lyssa has are fixed, while the last item she
    drops appears to be randomly generated at some point (I got a potion of
    Owl's Wisdom).  

    Be careful to pick up any loot here (or anywhere else you may have left some
    behind) before the trial.  If you don't, you'll see the dim glow on the
    ground where they used to be, presumably signifying items that can no longer
    be picked up.
    
    Before speaking with Mirri and Jilla, I made sure I had Grobnar in my party
    and suggested he stay while speaking to them for +1 influence (now a 9).
    While I fought most of the wolves in the cave for the Dire Wolf tooth one of
    them drops, I chose to delay fighting Mirri and Jilla as werewolves there to
    avoid the 900+ experience I'd get for doing so until I recruited Zhjaeve and
    the Construct at level seven.  The same went for finding Bradbury.

  Ember - visit two
    Sand will remark on a discolored corpse if you get near it, where you can
    say "Good eyes. What does it mean, though?" for +1 influence (now 5) and
    400xp (now 15,117 total and enough for level 6).  The Quartermaster's log
    offers another point in your defense at the trial and yields another 400xp,
    should you choose to examine it.  I did not, since you can safely skip one
    piece of trial evidence and still have complete success.

    The slaughtered village of Ember is the last place you can encounter Guyven
    of the road.  There appears to be a bug in the game where Guyven will only
    appear at Crossroad keep if you say "You will always have a place at my
    fire" and not "You are welcome to stay at my home".  The correct
    conversation option might only appear if you ask him, "Why is this our last
    meeting?" during his introduction.  You'll also get 250xp for the final
    conversation with him (in Act II anyway).  I chose to delay speaking with
    him until after I activated the construct at Crossroad Keep and remained at
    15,117xp.

    Using the bag of wyrmsage on all 10 corpses yields another 750xp and the
    Amulet of the Doomguide, once you speak with Nya about it (now 15,867
    total).  When Bishop comments, "Beware a woman bearing gifts... taking one
    is like wearing a brand" respond with "I wonder how much it's worth" for +2
    influence (now a 15).  Be careful not to say this with Elanee or Casavir
    around to avoid a loss of influence with them.

  Port Llast
    When seeking to question Alaine you'll get 500xp from passing a skill check
    with Haeromos to allow it and another 500xp if you choose to take a
    conversation option with her that passes a diplomacy check of 15, which
    gives her cause to doubt the PC was the Murderer at Ember.  However, you can
    still speak with Alaine even if you fail a skill check with Haeromos
    (purposefully or not).  Just have Neeshka unlock the door to the North room
    where she's cloistered away, walk right in and, in addition to Neeshka
    stealing some gold from her, skip the 500xp otherwise associated with
    Haeromos allowing the conversation.  If you tell Alaine "We're here to help
    you, not hurt you" you'll gain +1 influence with Shandra and move 1 point
    towards good.  If you then refuse Sand's request to use her at the Trial
    you'll trade a -1 influence with him (now a 5) for a +1 influence with
    Shandra (19 total) and another +1 shift towards Good (2/14).

    If you choose to speak with Alaine (regardless of how you get to her), be
    sure to ask her as many questions as possible about the massacre at Ember
    before ending the conversation.  Note that it's completely unnecessary to:
    A) pass a diplomacy check with Alaine
    B) take Sand up on his suggestion to compel her to testify
    or    C) speak with her at all
    This is because, as long as you speak with Marcus first, you'll still be
    able to bring up every subject again during the trial to your advantage.
    The only reason I spoke with her at all was for extra influence with Shandra
    (with Neeshka's help) and I avoided any XP from doing so.

  Various locations
    Once I was finished with Ember and the rest of my evidence gathering for
    the trial I leveled my party to 6 and did my first round of buying
    components for and the crafting of perfected choking powder.  Neeshka
    crafted deadly gas traps and Sand also crafted one suit of Adamantine Full
    Plate (usually worn by Khelgar, until another was made later).  I then did
    round two of buying, spending almost 500,000 gold on just two weapons.  The
    Trial was next.

  City of Neverwinter
    Blacklake District
      Castle Never
    The trial can be a lot of fun if you choose to go all the way through it
    with all its possible conversation options.  To this end, I wanted not just
    to win the trial and not merely obtain the "Master Orator" history feat but
    win the trial by the largest margin of victory possible and drag out all of
    the possible ways to toy with Torio (and expose all her falsehoods in the
    process) for as long as possible.

    In order to do this, I had to accumulate enough of what have been described
    as "trial points".  You lose the trial if you don't have enough, win the
    trial if you do, and get the Master Orator feat if you sufficiently finesse
    your way through to earn enough of a surplus.

    Basically, every time Torio sways the court audience in her favor you'll
    lose trial points.  Examples of ways this can happen are when she:
    * sows doubt about your innocence
    * catches you making a mistake during the trial (this includes mistakes of
      omission as well as commission)
    * catches you "pushing your luck" too far with unsubstantiated arguments,
      or failed skill checks
    * shows your use of poor debating skills
    * otherwise exposes your PC's immoral nature (if you were playing your PC
      that way, such as poor treatment of Shandra, Alaine, or Nya)
    
    Every time the PC sways the court audience in your favor, demonstrates good
    morality, substantially exposes the plot to frame your PC for the Luskan
    massacre of Ember, catches Torio making a mistake or otherwise exposes her
    lies or duplicitous nature, you win trial points.

    In most cases, you can readily observe any instance where you or Torio gain
    or lose points as a consequence of a statement or exchange (or, sometimes, a
    series of statements or exchanges) because the audience will give clear
    verbal and non-verbal cues showing their assessment of what transpired.

    Here are thirteen pointers to win the trial and guarantee your earning the
    Master Orator feat:
    1) Examine/acquire items that can serve to expose the Luskan plot. They are:
       a) the quartermaster's log in Ember
       b) the poisoned corpse in Ember
       c) the signet ring from Glek in the Glowstone Caverns
       d) the Alteration Powder from Lyssa in Duskwood.  Also, killing Lyssa for
          the powder as I did, instead of her handing it over, results slightly
          less influence during the evidence portion of the trial.
    2) Have high ranks (15+) in Diplomacy, Bluff and Intimidate.  Of these
       three, Diplomacy is the most useful.  There are several ways to get these
       skills fairly high without investing any points in them:
       a) If you are playing a Bard, or have enough points in the use magic
          device skill, wear Ysridian's Gloves (+3 diplomacy, -3 bluff).  I
          didn't wear these during the trial because of the bluff penalty
       b) If you are playing a Shadow Thief, or have enough points in the use
          magic device skill, wear the Shadow Theif Leather armor (+6 bluff and
          intimidate)
       c) If you are playing a Warlock, use the invocation "Beguiling Influence"
          (+6 to bluff, diplomacy and intimidate) before speaking with Sir
          Nevalle to start the Trial
       d) Wear the "Amulet of the Master" (+6 diplomacy) or, if you can't afford
          it, the "Lesser Amulet of the Master" (+2 diplomacy).
       e) Have Grobnar in your party with his Inspire Confidence inspiration
          active before speaking with Sir Nevalle to start the Trial
          (bonus varies from +2 to +6)
       f) Have your PC, or one of your companions, cast Heroism or Greater
          Heroism just before speaking with Sir Nevalle to start the Trial
          (+2 or +4)
       g) Wear a Nymph Cloak +4 (or greater).  Alternatively, have Sand cast
          Eagle's Splendor (with the Extend Spell feat, if he has it) just
          before speaking with Sir Nevalle to start the Trial (+2 by either
          method)
    3) Refuse Sand's suggestion to compel Alaine to testify while speaking with
       her in Port Llast.  You'll get a chance to use her testimony on your
       behalf anyway during cross-examination, after Torio is through with her,
       usually with better results
    4) Accept and complete Nya's task to use the Wyrmsage on all the bodies in
       Ember and then have her to testify on your behalf during the trial
    5) If you gave Marcus Bishop's dagger during your encounter with him in
       Ember in ACT I, talk with him in the well beneath Ember during ACT II, so
       he can appear as a witness during the trial
    6) Have Callum testify during the trial & pass a diplomacy/intimidate/bluff
       check (13) with him when a certain secret is exposed
    7) Have the highest possible influence with Shandra *and* pass a diplomacy
       check with her so she agrees to testify on your behalf near the end of
       the Trial
    8) Expose Elgun's fairytale stories of glory in Port Llast to prevent him
       from being called as a witness at the trial.  Even better - don't.
       Instead, let him be called as witness to expose all the holes and
       inconsistencies in his story.  The second option is also far more
       entertaining and effective.
    9) If your modified appraise (12+), diplomacy (10+) and bluff (14+) skills
       are high enough at the point of the trial, you can arrange for Torio to
       call Reylene as a witness.  However this must be done much earlier, in
       ACT, I by allowing the thugs to shake her down for protection money (if
       you sided with the Watch) or simply speaking to her (if you sided with
       the Shadow Thieves)
       10) Have a high enough Intelligence (15), or have it buffed by item or spell.
       Note that open weapons and the wearing of hats/headgear is not permitted
       in the courtroom, so you won't be able to make use of a Headband of
       Intellect or Finch's Fine Chapeau
       11) Follow Sand's advice about how to conduct yourself during the trial
       (assuming you even asked him in the first place).  Do not allow yourself
       to be baited by Torio and her multiple attempts to entrap you, thereby
       risking loss of the trial by default. If you choose to make use of bluff
       and intimidation with Torio or her witnesses, be sure it will work first.
       12) Question every witness thoroughly to expose flaws and weaknesses in the
       plot to frame the PC.  Just be sure to be respectful and polite while
       doing so (or have very good intimidate/bluff ranks).  Therefore, be
       mindful of dialogue options that end conversations or lines of
       questioning prematurely
       13) Practice makes perfect.  Pay attention to your choices and the results of
       them.  If you don't get the Master Orator's feat on the first attempt (I
       didn't, so I made the step-by-step guide found below), try again

    Note that if you joined Axle and Moire instead of the Watch you can, and
    should, call Venton Orley to speak on your behalf.  

====================================================================================
Assuming the PC has a modified rank of 15 in Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate, what
follows is a path to complete victory while being as antagonistic as possible
towards Torio and Elgun (both serial liars) and dragging the trial out as long as
possible - literally by the numbers

Note: skill checks, where applicable, are indicated in parenthesis

    ***Introduction sequence***
2 I think the Ambassador speaks out of turn. No guilty verdict has been issued.

    ***Conversation with Sand immediately after introduction***
2 Do you have any advice?
1 What strategy would you suggest?
2 But? you don't sound convinced
2 I'll heed your advice
1 Thanks for representing me (+1 influence, now 6 total)

    ***Torio is dismissive of evidence***
2 (Intimidate) Why do you want to distract us from the evidence? Scared... Luskan?
    
    ***Torio calls Elgun as a witness***
4 If he's a witness, then his testimony can only help me
3 Have the witness continue his story
3 I was actually thinking about just cutting his throat
1 Yes, we have some questions concerning his story
4 You said there was more than one attacker. How many?
8 I spoke with a survivor.  I heard there were only about a dozen... and no demons
1 And what did these demons look like?
1 Well, you saw the demons - describe them
1 That was it? That's pretty vague for someone who saw a demon
6 How could you fight so many? Your own townspeople say you're terrible with a blade
4 What were you doing in the area?
1 You were hunting deer in Duskwood?  Malin says there's no deer to be found there..
1 Were there "dozens?" Just like the numbers of "attackers?"
1 (Diplomacy) Any chance from being struck so hard, some things might be unclear?
1 Is it? How did Elgun get away safely? Why wasn't he killed with the rest?
1 And perhaps you were in too much of a hurry... where are the scars?
1 (Diplomacy) I'm glad you made it...your story certainly doesn't have the same legs
7 (Spot) You fought them?  Where are the scars?
1 Where was the wound?
1 But you said you were hit from behind
1 (Intimidate) I think you're a fool that's told too many stories
1 (Intimidate) Who says it's just me you have to fear?  My friends are still free...
2 So you didn't see everything?
1 Now the story isn't going in your favor, you no longer wish your witness to speak?
1 (Bluff) Do you know what the penalty for lying before the god Tyr is, Elgun?
1 I mean, this is just a trial, but divine retribution... I wouldn't want to be near
3 With the gods, there is very little room for such explanations
1 I have no more questions, Reverand Judge.  It seems the winess has retracted story

    ***Torio calls Alaine as a witness***
1 The Luskans must have gotten to Alaine
1 (Influence) Shandra, can you say anything?
6 Let her speak, we'll ask her questions after Torio's had her show
1 I have some questions for her first
4 Tell me more about the attack, if you can
1 (Intelligence) Did "I" cut off his head in one stroke? (STR 15 or less required)
1 I am not known for my exceptional strength - was this quartermaster think in neck?
1 It would probably be as easy to do that as magically impersonate someone
2 How did you survive Ember without a scratch?
3 (Intelligence) Wait.. what were you doing outside Ember in the first place?
1 Why was trade season light?
1 Where were these shipments supposed to come from?
1 Why didn't Luskan send any shipments?  That seems strange.
1 Almost as if they knew the village would be destroyed?
2 What did you see when you came upon Ember exactly?
2 Alaine, do you know this woman here, Shandra?
1 Can you speak to her character?  Is she a good person?  A friend?
1 And do you know she has been traveling with me for some time?
1 Shandra was traveling with me when Ember attacked.  Why would your friend do that?
2 It seems she just retracted her certainty of what happened.  Could've been...
    
    ***Torio calls Shandra as a witness***
3 Shandra, feel free to speak to Torio, if you want

    ***Torio calls PC as a witness***
1 Are you finally finished?
4 Very well, about time.
5 (Intimidate) I have put up with enough of your lies
5 (Diplomacy) Ambassador, you presume guilt when no verdict has been reached
2 (Diplomacy) That does not make me a murderer, only a witness to what was left
1 (Diplomacy) Ambassador, as I've said, I am innocent.  I mourn the loss of...
1 (Diplomacy) But I can't. It has no military value. It is not even a viable target
1 (Diplomacy) But again, it makes no sense - if one wished to kill Luskan people
1 (Diplomacy) I do not know, Ambassador.  But in this case, I think it was actually
1 (Lore) It is well known there is animosity between Luskan and Neverwinter
1 (Lore) History is important to this case, as are borders and treaties.. by history
1 (Lore) We are all familiar with the Luskan War, and the atrocities committed...
1 (Lore) The burning of much of Neverwinter, the slaughter... it is well documented
1 (Lore) And furthermore, many of the atrocities bear striking resemblance to Ember
1 (Lore) I believe "Lord's Alliance account of the Luskan War" contains examples
    
    ***Conversation with Sand about witnesses***
1 As long as you are sure to consult me before any witness is brought into court

    ***Sand asks to call Callum as a witness***
2 Call Callum forward
1 (Diplomacy) History of Sand no bearing on this case. It is Ember that concerns us

    ***Sand asks to call Nya as a witness***
1 Call Nya
1 Well met again, Nya
2 It was the least I could do, considering how much you were doing
1 (Diplomacy) It pains me to hear you make light of such an important task

    ***Sand calls Marcus as a witness - without your permission***
2 (Diplomacy) Do you have a question for Marcus or not, Ambassador?

    ***Sand calls Shandra as a witness - without your permission***
4 (Diplomacy) This is for Ember, not me

    ***Torio, infuriated, demands trial by combat***
3 Is this true?
====================================================================================

    Should you earn the Master Orator's feat you'll receive 1000xp (this brought
    me to 16,867) and an Amulet of Truth as a symbolic gift from Lord Nasher
    both for ridding him of Torio in such a delightful way and giving him an
    excuse to remove the Luskan presence in the city - both accomplished (at
    least most of the time) by using the truth to expose their lies.  The
    amulet, if earned, is received at the Sunken Flagon in a second chest after
    the battle with Lorne.

    Somewhere along the way in the trial I said something to move me another
    point towards good (now 2/15).

    Merchant Quarter
      Temple of Tyr - Battle with Lorne
    Due to a bug in the script of the game, if you have to reload the game to
    defeat Lorne, you must do so either:
    A) from a point before entering the Temple of Tyr for the first time
    OR    B) from a point after the battle actually begins
    If you attempt to do this from a save after entering the temple but before
    the fighting starts the sequence before the battle will never load properly
    and you (or your champion) will simply stand in the arena waiting for a
    battle that will never commence.

        Depending on the influence you have with your companions, they may offer to
    fight for you.  Khelgar will always offer, but in my case Qara also did.
    Declining Khelgar's offer causes no issues.  However, even a polite refusal
    of Qara's offer (e.g. stating "This isn't about killing him - I just want
    justice and I need to do it myself") will still cause a -1 influence with
    her, while accepting it gains +1 influence.  Because I wanted the additional
    +1 influence (now a 16) with Qara, and had enough XP to spare, I accepted
    Qara's offer to to fight Lorne.

    High influence with Bishop caused him to offer advice.  My answer of
    "Anything you can do to tip the odds is fine by me" moved me another 1 point
    towards lawful (3/15) and earned +1 influence with him (now a 16).

    Killing Lorne was easy for Qara as I loaded her up with useful magic gear:
    * Swift Flier crossbow (for spellcasters on the battlefield with Lorne,
      haste is essential)
    * Rod of Thunder & Lightning (a missed save by Lorne on a 20d6 Chain
      Lightning bolt makes him a dead man walking)
    * Rod of the Ghost
    * Brooch of Shielding
    * Ring of Regeneration
    * Silver Shard - Health Bonus

    Immediately after starting combat I had Qara use the Rod of Thunder and
    Lightning, only accepting the results of a failed save by Lorne (this
    happened on the first try, since it has a DC of 19).  She then cast mirror
    image, used the brooch of shielding and then the rod of the ghost to stay
    safe.  Several magic missiles later he went into his deathless frenzy and a
    final sound burst from the Rod finished him once it ended.

    Defeating Lorne results in 2,500xp (now 19,367)  Be aware that if you have a
    companion fight for you as I did - they'll kill him, not just defeat him,
    and you'll earn additional XP based on you level (420 for me at ECL 6, for a
    total of 19,787).  If your PC fights and your influence with Grobnar is high
    enough (9 should be), he will use a one-time inspiration that grants the
    equivalent of a lesser, more time-limited version the spell Ghostly Visage
    (and its damage reduction of "5/magic") during the battle.  Fighting Lorne
    with the PC also allows for interesting dialogue just before combat, where
    you can usually succeed in taunting Lorne as per the skill (even if you have
    no ranks in it) and at the end, where there are possible shifts in alignment
    of up to 10 towards good/evil or lawful/chaotic, depending on whether you
    kill Lorne and what you choose to say.

  Path out of Neverwinter
    Encounter with Zinn
    On the first occasion you leave the City of Neverwinter after the Trial
    you'll encounter Zinn and his friends, intent on collecting a bounty offered
    by Luskan on you after their falling out from losing the trial.  Zinn is a
    polite fellow, who will tell you all about it and introduce his friends by
    name if you ask who they are, right until he makes the mistake of trying to
    collect.  Somewhat ironically, it is he and his posse that will drop a good
    amount of useful, fixed gear for *your* use after *their* defeat.  I left
    Neverwinter immediately after the trial to get this gear and then moved on
    to Aldenon's mansion with Elanee, Khelgar and Casavir.

    Blacklake District
      Aldenon's Mansion - outside
    Before you enter the mansion you'll encounter Marshall Cormick near death
    because of Scab's robbers, who gave Aldenon to kidnappers inside his mansion
    earlier.  You can save Cormick with the right conversation options and
    social skills checks, earning 500xp in the process.  However, I wanted to
    skip the XP and get the (fixed) loot from the bandits, so I deliberately
    chose ones that resulted in his death.  You'll never see Cormick again,
    regardless of the outcome.
    
      Aldenon's Mansion - first floor
    Once inside the mansion there are plenty of traps, so it's probably a good
    choice to bring Neeshka to recover or disable them all.  The robbers are
    easy enough to kill, even at level 6, with or without the XP for dispatching
    them.  One of them had a wand of stinking cloud and another a +1 handaxe.
    On the first floor in the center area are two bookcases.  The first
    contained a book titled "On The Crafting of Mystical Garb For All Climes",
    and can give a wand of arcane disjuncture and possibly a scroll.  The second
    can also give a wand of arcane disjuncture.  Since I already had all the
    gold I needed, I no longer bothered with trying to seed the best items and
    took what I saw the first time.  Higher value gems were the exception to
    this change.

    The northern room on the first floor has the butler surrounded by three
    thugs on the verge of killing him.  If you manage to save him you can earn
    500xp.  I found the easiest way to do this was to have my entire party
    hasted before battle and have a companion use the Rod of Thunder & Lightning
    on the thugs once my PC was far enough away to avoid experience.  If you're
    level 7 or higher you can include Elanee in your party to rush them and cast
    stoneskin on the butler.  Another option that helps, especially if you're
    lower than level 7, is have someone cast invisibility on him.  Note you will
    only get the 500xp if you speak with him, so I skipped that part.  One of
    the thugs here dropped a +1 dagger.

    A shelf just west of the room where the butler was can yield a wand of
    arcane disjuncture.

    The western room had several robbers, one of which had a fixed drop of a
    kukri named "Ladymist Talon".  A shelf in the room can yield up to two wands
    or some scrolls.

      Aldenon's Mansion - second floor
    The second floor also had its fair share of traps.  Thugs on the way to the
    final encounter with Scab dropped a +2 dagger and +3 spear. When you finally
    get close enough to Scab he will discover your presence (even if you're
    in stealth mode or invisible) and set his companions to kill the hostages.

    The way around this problem is to direct any companion (I choose Neeshka) to
    the area in puppet & stealth mode and then immediately switch control to
    another companion or the PC as (s)he walks past the point that activates the
    change which would normally turns Scab and the rest of his posse into enemy
    combatants.  As long as you are not in control of the companion as they walk
    past this activation point (located shortly before the trap I had Neeshka
    recover), Scab and his companions will remain neutral.  While this means
    they can't be attacked, it also means you can have Neeshka disarm all of the
    traps there, including the one by the locked door which leads to the first
    floor.  In this way, you can have all of your companions attack Scab and his
    minions at close range, greatly increasing the odds of saving all of
    Aldenon's servants - if that's your wish.  You may also choose to buff
    Aldenon's servants with stoneskin or invisibility before fighting, virtually
    guaranteeing their survival.  

    If you manage to save the hostages (and I chose not to, avoiding the XP)
    you'll get 250xp for rescuing Harcourt, 100xp for the cook and 50 for saving
    the maid.  Even if Scab or his minions kill all three of Aldenon's servants,
    Harcourt will still speak to you on the brink of death to give you glimpses
    of what has transpired and why.  He won't actually die of his seemingly
    mortal wounds because he appears later on when your PC is awarded control of
    Crossroad Keep.  If you heal him afterwards (I did) and then speak with him
    again (I didn't), you'll get his full story on what is going on and the
    250xp for saving him anyway, although it's not necessary to do this to
    advance the storyline.

    There are two locked chests by Scab.  Aside from the the fixed loot of the
    Falchion Decision and a Canary Diamond, I eventually got a diamond and other
    minor gear from the first, while the second eventually yielded a King's
    Tear and a scroll.  It is possible to get more valuable gear with enough
    re-loads (most notably a Wand of Arcane Disjuncture), but now that I could
    craft unlimited quantities of Perfected Choking Powder in much less time, I
    no longer bothered with this more tedious task of money making.  Most of the
    loot Scab and his companions drop appears fixed, such as Naylie dropping a
    sapphire.

    Once you've dealt with Scab and his posse, left Aldenon's mansion and
    spoken with Sergeant Brockenburn, you won't be able to go back inside.  So
    make sure you've taken everything you wanted before you speak with him.

      Castle Never
    When you report what's happened to Lord Nasher you'll earn 2000xp (I was now
    level 7 at 21,617) and be ordered to Lord Tavorick's estate.  You can also
    speak with Sir Nevalle for the Temar Estate quest.  If you have Casavir with
    you when you accept Nevalle's quest and say, "It is my duty.  I will attend
    to it at once, Sir Nevalle" your alignment will move by one towards lawful
    (now a 4/14) and your influence with Casavir will also increase by one (now
    a 10).  I chose to delay this quest until after I recruited Zhjaeve and
    activated the Construct.

      Tavorick Estate - first floor
    Before speaking Lord Tavorick you can, and should, inspect the rooms.  In
    particular, the southwest room contains two crates of blastglobes.  Telling
    Grobnar you intend to use them to defend the estate earns +1 influence (10).
    If you go along with his idea to "take a peek" at the contents, you'll earn
    another +2 influence with him (now 12 total) and a warm experience as a
    result.  Even if the barrels are destroyed, if you instruct Captain Ballard
    to use them in the Estate defenses they will still be available during the
    battle.
    
    When you speak with Captain Ballard you'll have a chance to instruct him on
    how you'd like to defend the Estate.  I found it useful to have all the
    doors barricaded to prevent enemies coming at me from multiple directions
    and have the crates of blastglobes positioned near the entrance to deal with
    Qaggoth Yeg.  You'll face Qaggoth here on the first floor on your way out if
    Lord Tavorick dies before proceeding to the basement (as he did, by choice,
    with me).  Even so, the choices don't make a huge difference in the end and
    are more a reflection of your goals and fighting styles than anything else.  

    If you choose to, you'll receive 1,000xp for saving Tavorick from the
    demons and 100xp for each Watch soldier who survives. This is not at all
    difficult to do if you have Grobnar in your party as I did; I just didn't
    want the XP.
    
    Once you instruct Captain Ballard to secure the area and head to the second
    floor you can choose how to station Comely Finn and Deorwin Greylocks. I
    chose to have them both stay and guard Tavorick; this allowed them both
    to deal with the fire imps that eventually showed up here.

    The first two rounds of battles that proceed on the first floor go best, as
    always, with some planning.  I chose to have Elanee (essential for her high
    AC here), Grobnar, and Casavir along.  You could have Elanee use barkskin
    and stoneskin on your melee fighters but with all my high cost purchases
    from merchants their AC was high enough so this wasn't necessary.  I did
    have Grobnar and Shandra (with her Scabbard of Blessing) cast Heroism, Bless
    and Aid on Captain Ballard to speed things up a bit once the fighting got
    started.

    During the first two waves of attacks Captain Ballard is a plot character
    and cannot be killed, so I just stood back and let him do the work while my
    PC ran towards the door that leads to the crypt and my companions (in puppet
    mode for the duration) moved to the east of entrance doors to watch the
    show.  A few enemies might attack them, but they usually moved on to Captain
    Ballard when I didn't fight back and had Grobnar use his inspire
    regeneration hymn to heal any incidental damage.  You can instruct Wetherly
    and Guff to head to the stairs and tend to their wounds when they warn you
    of the invaders (with a +1 shift towards good if you do), but I found they
    won't.  Instead they simply stand still and, as non-combatants, are ignored
    by the enemy during the first two waves of battle.  You may choose to heal
    them while the battle unfolds, but I did none of these things since I didn't
    want them to survive the initial onslaught.  Instead, I let them fight and
    die in the process.

      Tavorick Estate - second floor
    Once you go upstairs, Finn and Graylocks can kill the imps while Grobnar's
    regeneration hymn keeps them, and Lord Tavorick, alive.  For extra buffs,
    use the scabbard of blessing and Grobnar's heroism on them while they fight
    off the imps.  You can then rest, heal everyone (if that's your choice) and
    buff again before going back downstairs for the dash to the crypt.  One of
    the imps here dropped an obsidian for me; it appears to be a fixed drop.

      Tavorick Estate - first floor
    I chose to let the invaders kill everyone (to avoid XP) before eliminating
    them myself and heading downstairs to the Crypt, although it wouldn't be
    hard to save them all if that's your goal.
    
      Tavorick Estate - Crypt
    As with the battle on the first floor, I had my companions rush the enemy
    and move towards the opposite end of the chamber before killing them to
    avoid XP.  After Tavorick was mortally wounded on the first floor, he can
    follow you to the Crypt in a temporary plot-character state if you don't
    speak to him first.  When I did speak with him, he revealed how everything
    here was a ruse to distract the enemy and prevent the shard from falling
    into enemy hands, urging me to warn Melia at the Moonstone Mask before he
    dropped dead (this will happen even if heal him to full health).  

      Tavorick Estate - first floor
    If Tavorick is mortally wounded before you enter the Crypt as he was with
    me, Qaggoth-Yeg and his minions will be waiting by the entrance door of the
    Estate, blocking your exit.  If Tavorick is still alive before you enter the
    Crypt, you'll instead face him in the Crypt.

    Because of the powerful gear I had purchased, defeating Qaggoth was easy:
    Casavir was ready with his new weapon of choice, the falchion "Headsman",
    enchanted with the spell Keen Edge.  The first hit was a critical hit, where
    Qaggoth-Yeg failed his fotitiude save (DC 20) and died instantly.  It was a
    very satisfying feeling to have the otherwise very formidable Qaggoth-Yeg be
    killed on the very first hit from a level 7 melee fighter.

    Without this gear at such a low level the battle would have been a two-step
    process of divide and conquer.  After buffing, I'd give Grobnar the highly
    useful Swift Flier to lead Qaggoth in circles in a state of perpetual haste
    while the rest of my team took out the others.  It would have been effective
    for him to run back and forth by the table along the west wall while Qaggoth
    ran up and down on the opposite side of the table, unable to touch him as my
    companions took out his accomplices, one by one.

    For level 7 PCs without high powered gear, Qaggoth can be tough.  In
    addition to a full lightning resistance and a healthy dollop of hit points,
    Qaggoth has damage reduction, magic resistance and a nauseating aura that
    can weaken and slow opponents in melee range.  He can also cast Finger of
    Death and Power Word Blind.  Be aware if Qaggoth takes out any low level PC
    early enough, it can mean the end for the party, especially if none of the
    Watch are around to assist you.  Fortunately, Qaggoth does not regenerate
    and if your melee companions are adequately protected, he can eventually be
    worn down to defeat.  This is especially the case if the rapier Bleederkin
    is used on him and he fails his fortitude save (a certainty, sooner or
    later).  To ease this task you could have Grobnar and another melee fighter
    each use a Rod of the Ghost.  To block Qaggoth's Finger of Death spell, you
    could have Grobnar wear the Amulet of the Doomguide (given by Nya after
    completing her Wyrmsage quest in Ember).  

    Finally, if things get too rough, you can always keep one companion near the
    staircase to Tavorick's quarters and run up to rest - before someone dies.

    Despite the small army of foes in the Estate, none of them (not even
    Qaggoth) dropped any valuable gear for me.  The best I got was a gold ring,
    a single alexandrite, garnet and topaz.

    Leaving the Tavorick Estate, I still had 21,787xp.

    Merchant District
      Moonstone Mask
    After leaving Tavorick's Estate I swapped out Grobnar for Khelgar and went
    to the Moonstone Mask to meet Ammon Jerro and his infernal minions, who
    had already killed Melia and several Mask Patrons before my arrival.

    To avoid experience, have your companions lead your opponents to the
    Northeast corner of the map and move your PC to the Southwest corner of the
    room just north of the stairwell.  This is much easier to do if your PC uses
    the ring of invibility to remain unobtrusive.  Once positioned there, your
    companions can take out the Succubi, Erinyes and Fire Mephits without XP.

    You can't rest on the second level of the Inn, so just go to the first floor
    to do this before fighting Ammon Jerro's Nessian War Hounds.  After the
    introductory cut-scene, have the PC run to the southeast room before your
    companions land any killing blows.

    The treasure drops for the Succubi, Erinyes and Fire Mephits are fixed: I
    got a sapphire and 9GP from the lot.  However, the loot from the Nessian War
    hounds is randomly generated during the cut-scene when Ammon Jerro summons
    them.  I managed to get a gold ring from one of them.

    Blacklake
      Castle Never
    You'll receive 1500xp after informing Lord Nasher of Lord Tavorick's stolen
    shard and Melia's assassination (I was now at 23,287xp).  While speaking
    with Lord Nasher about Melia, Sydney Natale will appear.  Her arrival starts
    a long dialogue, during which Sydney's arrogance and deception can show in
    not-so-subtle ways.  If you accuse her of lying and refuse to accept her
    denial of Luskan involvement in the massacre at Ember you'll shift 1 towards
    lawful (I was now 5/15) and gain 4 influence with Shandra (now a 23).  I
    I also asked Shandra "Were you really worried about me in the fight with
    Lorne?" and then responded with "Thanks for caring - I appreciate you
    looking out for me" for +1 influence (now a 24).

  Crossroad Keep
    Abandoned Farm area
    For the first part of the battle to liberate Crossroad Keep I chose to
    retain Elanee, Bishop and Neeska.  When you arrive you'll encounter a corpse
    on the road that starts a dialogue between Bishop and Shandra.  I chose to
    side with Bishop, stating "It's just another corpse, we're not going to
    waste any tears or prayers on it" for a trade of +2 influence with Bishop
    and -2 with Shandra (now an 18 and 22, respectively).

    When you meet Vale you'll earn 750xp (now 24,037 total), just for watching
    the assault begin.  It's useful to know that Vale, Nathe, Sevann and the
    rest of his lackeys are all plot characters for every battle to retake
    Crossroads Keep, except the following:
    1) the final battle to stop Garius
    2) the escape tunnel (where they aren't around)
    and 3) the first battle inside the keep before the two Arcane Brotherhood mages
       are killed (they appear *after* the two mages defending the door are
       killed and the cut-scene following it concludes)
    Outside of the above, you never have to lift a finger against anyone.
    Therefore, I let them do all the work.

    The guards by the farm yield random loot, while the ones inside the gate
    have fixed drops.  The best random drop items I managed to get from the
    guards by the farm was +1 scale mail.  The Luskan War Priest has a fixed
    drop of a Cape of the Firebath, while the Luskan Captain drops a bastard
    sword named Decision.  The defeat of the Guards by Vale's troop got me
    another 750xp, just for watching (I now had 24,787xp total).

    Since Vale misjudged the preparedness of the Luskans to secure the Keep, and
    his lackeys can't open the main doors while the Arcane Brotherhood mages
    guard it from the inside, he instructs you to navigate/explore the secret
    tunnel (which leads to the library) and then kill the mages preventing his
    entry.  

    Secret Escape Tunnel
    The tunnel is loaded with traps and large insect critters that prefer to be
    left alone; this is where Neeshka was helpful.  With the right gear (cloak
    and boots of elvenkind, the chainmail Rogue Links, a Watchmen's Helm and the
    Amulet of the Master) she can sneak past every opponent and, after dozens of
    re-loads, recover every trap.  Once that's done it's easy to lead the
    critters away from my PC, who stayed by the entrance, and kill them with no
    XP.

    There is a vein of Ore a little less than halfway through the tunnel that
    gives the usual 50xp (putting me at 24,837 xp total; 8 veins of ore total).
    It's important to get that ore, and the rest of loot here, before Crossroad
    Keep passes to your control because once it does the escape tunnel and
    secret entrance in the library will no longer be accessible.

    Shortly before the entrance to the library is a room with two sets of crates
    and a table from which I was eventually able to get a diamond from each,
    along with minor gear.  Again, it is possible to get more valuable gear with
    enough re-loads (most notably a Wand of Arcane Disjuncture), but now that I
    could craft unlimited quantities of Perfected Choking Powder in much less
    time, I no longer bothered with this more tedious task of money making.

    I chose to aim for diamonds as randomly generated loot now because it's
    easier to craft non-essential items using low power essences with them.
    
    Crossroad Keep Interior
    When you meet Aldenon in the Library you'll receive 750xp for rescuing
    him once the conversation ends (this brought me to 25,587).  For the battles
    inside the keep I kept Neeshka, Bishop and Grobnar.  The bookcase by Aldenon
    has fixed loot of scrolls and a book titled "The Ancient Art of Golemcraft",
    the second of three items which can be used to help Grobnar re-activate the
    Blade Golem you'll be fighting soon enough.

    There are two crates in the chamber just before your first conflict in the
    Keep.  I was able to get a diamond, a wand of lesser summons, a wand of
    missiles and a scroll of invisibility from the first crate.  The second
    contained a scroll of minor globe of invulnerability and energy drain, a
    potion of cure serious wounds and a wand of arcane disjuncture.  

    The main objective is to defeat the two arcane brotherhood mages preventing
    entry to the keep.  As your companions rush to swiftly take them out, have
    your PC stay in the southeast corner of the library to avoid any XP.  Once
    the mages are killed, Vale and his troop will burst in and start a cut-scene
    conversation.  When Vale expresses doubts about being able to stop Garius,
    respond by saying "If you're not going to help me destroy him, then get out
    of my way" for +1 influence with Bishop (now a 19).  Then simply stand back
    and let Vale kill all the remaining Luskans for you, free of any unwanted
    XP.
    
    Your next encounter is with some Shadow priests.  Instruct your companions
    to stand back a bit, but not too far from the entrance to the room where
    they stand.  When the conversation is over, run the PC back near the
    entrance to the tunnel, then send your companions to finish them off (if
    Vale and his troop haven't done so first).  Just like the battle with the
    Blade Golem downstairs, I chose to Keep vale and his posse away from this
    battle because they had the annoying habit of blowing up the crates in this
    room with fireballs and other AOE spells, which would've interfered with
    proper loot seeding of the crates there (and the other storage containers
    downstairs).

    There are three crates in the room with the Shadow Priests.  Repeated
    reloads got me the following gear:
    Crate one:    thieves' tools +1 & +3, a belt of agility +1, 24 shurikens,
            a healers kit +1, a potion of cure light wounds and 32
            bullets
    Crate two:    a beljuril
    Crate three:    a diamond, a scroll of cure serious wounds, 3 +1 bullets, 16
            darts and a wand of lesser summoning

    Crossroad Keep Basement
    Keep you PC by the stairs while your companions take out the Blade Golem for
    the last time.  There are two shelves and crates that give random loot in
    the area with the Blade Golem just before Garius.  I was eventually able to
    get the following from them:
    Shelf one:    a King's Tear, choking powder, a scroll of least spell
            mantle and a wand of lesser summoning
    Shelf two:    a Beljuril, a scroll of greater spell breach, bigby's
            interposing hand and chain lightning and a potion of
            cure serious wounds
    Crates:        3 malachites, 2 healer's kits +1, a belt of agility +1, an
            amulet of will +1, thieves' tools +1 & +3, 16 shurikens and
            a cloak of protection +1

    Crossroad Keep Basement - Ritual Chamber
    Remember to buff everyone first with the best gear you have before moving
    on to fight Garius.  Since Vale and his lieutenants follow the PC wherever
    (s)he goes, I kept them out of this battle by positioning my PC next to the
    stairway to the first floor of the Keep before the battle began.  Once one
    of your companions enters the chamber where the ritual is performed, the PC
    is snapped to the area for the conversation and has to run back to the
    stairs once combat starts - Vale and his two lieutenants don't get very far
    on the way back.  Keeping Vale out of the fight was a precaution because he
    and his buddies can be killed in this battle.  Should Vale be killed in the
    conflict (and he usually was for me, if he fought), he is usually restored
    (at "near death" health) immediately after the battle is won.  Be aware if
    he dies *after* the battle by some fashion (such as a summons in the party
    that turns hostile) you will have to restore from a save prior to his
    demise, because speaking with Vale is the only way to leave the Keep once
    the final battle is concluded.

    Defeating Garius results in another 750xp (26,337xp total) allowing me to
    acquire Zhjaeve as a companion at level 7.

    As with the escape tunnel, be sure to collect all the loot here before you
    speak with Vale to leave - anything left behind will be gone by the time you
    return with the Keep under your command.

Notes about Crossroad Keep:
Once the player is awarded control of it, Crossroad Keep can occupy a major portion of the game.  Crossroad Keep management can be as intricate and involved as you like
(or not). One of the main benefits of careful management of the Keep is obtaining
gold - vast sums of it. Unfortunately, by the time you get to make use of most of
this wealth, the game is almost over.  There are some token gifts and/or honorifics
you can also get with very good (or deliberately evil) management of the Keep and
these fit nicely with one of my stated goals of this guide: to milk every bit of
power and awards that I could from the Original Campaign.  Crossroad keep was a
significant part of this.

Disclaimer and credits: Nearly all of the specific advice I give on management and
progression with Crossroad Keep is based on the walkthrough from blogspot:

http://gq-game-mods.blogspot.com/2011/05/neverwinter-nights-2-walkthrough-11b.html

and a trove of facts and bugs from the NWN2 wiki:

http://nwn2.wikia.com/wiki/Crossroad_Keep

I had several goals with the management of Crossroads Keep. They were:
A) Earn as much gold as possible while not significantly impacting the gear I could
   craft, buy or use for my PC or its companions
B) Bargaining with Mephasm for a token that increases your statistic of choice by
   +3.  While the modifier is relatively modest it is nevertheless helpful because
   it is applied just by having it in your inventory (and not in a bag) and is one
   of very few items the Construct can use (+3 STR is best for it)
C) Earn the "Warden of the Keep" feat, an honorific that also yields these 2 items:
   1) The Charm of Joy: just keeping this item in your inventory will passively
      increase your Charisma by 3 and provide a +3 AC (dodge based) bonus vs. Evil
      opponents.
   2) Champion's Fist: given by Light of Heavens is a +3 mace which, if used vs evil
      opponents, also has a +5 enhancement & +2d6 damage bonus
   To earn this feat, Greycloak civility must be high, the Church of Tyr must be
   built, Joy & Light of Heavens must have been recruited, and Uncus & Caelryna must
   not be in the keep.  Refusing Uncus requires the PC to have sided with the City
   Watch in ACT I, as joining the thieves prevents you from refusing him.  Once this
   feat is earned, Caelryna may be safely recruited.
D) Gift from the Greycloaks: available in ACT III, this event only occurs if all
   four keep sergeants have been recruited and the following five greycloak
   qualifiers are met: (1) training is best (2) best weapons and armor (3) quality
   is elite (4) morale is high (5) the Captain's Company is formed.
E) In tandem with the above, recruit as many optional actors/lieutenants to the keep
   as possible. The optional recruits are listed, in alphabetical order, as follows
   (from the NWN2 wiki):
   1) Bevil Starling - One of the sergeants. He joins the Keep in Act III as a
      sergeant if the PC talks to him in Act II before proceeding to Arvahn,
      whereupon all of West Harbor's residents are killed.
   2) Caelryna Seerar - serves as a merchant. Can be recruited once she is rescued
      on Mount Galardrym.  Caelryna acts as a fence.
   3) Calindra - serves as a miner and gives the PC gold for each ore deposit
      discovered. She can be recruited by the PC in Port Llast after (and if) the PC
      helps her find Bradbury's corpse in Duskwood.
   4) Deekin Scalesinger - serves as a merchant. Can be recruited in Neverwinter's
      Merchant Quarter after the Merchant's Shop is built.
   5) Edario - an essential merchant who also serves as an armorer for the
      Greycloaks at the Keep. He can be recruited at Highcliff.
   6) Guyven of the Road - serves as a scout. Can be recruited if the PC finds him
      in the following spots and is kind to him at each of the three encounters:
      A) at the Bonegnasher Approach in Act I
      B) at the Githyanki Approach near the end of Act I
      C) at the slaughtered village of Ember in Act II
   7) Ivarr the Blessed - serves as a priest at the church of Tyr. Joins only if the
      PC decides to build the Church of Tyr.
   8) Jacoby - serves as a weaponsmith for the Greycloaks. Jacoby can be recruited
      at Fort Locke only after the smithy is built.
   9) Jalboun of the Two Blades - one of the sergeants, joins only if the PC bribes
      him and manages to keep him alive during the battle with Sydney Natale.
  10) Joy - dances at the Phoenix Tail Inn and improves keep morale.  She can be
      recruited by the PC in the Neverwinter Merchant Quarter near Blacklake Gate
      during Act III.  If the PC is evil, recruiting Joy requires a skill check.
      Joy increases Keep income by 10%
  11) Katriona - serves as a sergeant. She be recruited at Old Owl Well.
  12) Khulmar - acts as a liaison for the Ironfist clan. He joins the keep only if
      an alliance is forged between Neverwinter and the Ironfist Dwarves.
  13) Kistrel - knits the PC a cloak.  It joins only if it is befriended by the PC
      in the Glowstone Cave.
  14) Lasshiva - acts as a liaison for Batha's lizardfolk tribe. Joins only if an
      alliance is forged between Neverwinter the Lizardfolk.
  15) Light of Heavens - serves as a sergeant.  She can only be recruited if the PC
      defeats her 3 times in progressively more difficult duels.
  16) Mephasm - offers to enchant the PC's items for a price (the PC must give him
      his/her favorite weapon or armor at end of 3 transactions).  Mephasm can be
      summoned in Act III if the PC bargains with him. There are severe bugs that
      prevent the game from checking the favorite item properly. In particular,
      Mephasm may take the favorite weapon instead of favorite armor from arcane
      spellcasters and will take away the Silver Sword of Gith from you, if that's
      your favorite weapon.  Be prepared for the possibility of losing something
      you really like if you haven't planned for what your favorite weapon will be
      beforehand.
  17) Orlen - helps to look after the Keep's farmland and manage the peasants. Orlen
      can be recruited if the PC talks to him in Act II before proceeding to Arvahn,
      whereupon all of West Harbor's residents are killed.
  18) Pentin - serves as a miner that gives the PC ingots for each ore deposit
      discovered.  Pentin can be recruited at Old Owl Well only if he was previously
      saved from the orcs in the Bonegnasher Lair.
  19) Rolan - passes on his secret teachings to the PC if he/she is a monk. Rolan
      joins only if the Sun Soul Monastery is built instead of the Church of Tyr.
  20) Startear - takes residence in the keep only if the Wizard's Tower is built.
  21) Torio Claven - provides information for potential recruits.  Torio joins only
      if the PC saves her from execution and requests that she be transferred to the
      keep.  Torio's advice isn't really needed, but can make for some interesting
      conversation and adds some history and background to certain events/recruits.
  22) Wolf - provides quick travel around the keep. You must have a good reputation
      with the beggar children of Neverwinter (obtained by siding with them during
      any event in the city).

Effective management of Crossroad Keep is complicated by the fact that game
mechanics driving several aspects of it are loaded with bugs.  Rather than list all
them here, I have oriented this guide towards getting around them while still
getting the most out of what Keep management experience can give. From my
perspective, there are no big rewards to be gained by exploiting any bugs here
(aside from the gold), though a few make it easier to deal with.

  Crossroad Keep
    Once you return to Crossroad Keep there's a long conversation with Zhjaeve
    that will result in no influence changes regardless of your choices, but can
    provide a some interesting background on your current situation, the King of
    Shadows, Githyanki, Githzerai and the lost Illfarn Empire.
    
    When I traveled to Crossroad Keep for the first time I brought Bishop and
    Casavir for conversations to increase influence with them. When speaking
    with Casavir, ask "You look troubled. Are you all right?" and when he
    responds with concern about Bishop, say "I appreciate your concern. Its good
    to know you're looking out for me." for +1 influence (11).  Next ask "What
    is your concern with Neverwinter?", followed by "Can you tell me more about
    this?" and "But why did you leave?".  Finally, say something supportive
    like, "It was a good chance to help others, and for that I am grateful." for
    another +1 influence with him (now an 12 total) and +1 towards good (5/16).

    When speaking with Bishop at Crossroad keep for the first time here he'll
    get prickly. Respond by saying "Actually, pulling your own weight with a
    little less backtalk would be good" and when he gives his reply, answer with
    "Do you really think I care about the nobility beyond getting more coin?"
    for +1 influence (now a 20) and +1 shift towards chaotic (4/16).

    I then swapped out Bishop for Grobnar, who asked about the Tome of Iltkazar.
    When he mentions it, say "So?" and when he asks about retrieving it so he
    can upgrade the golem (construct), answer with "Sounds good. If we can
    restore him fully, he'll be an asset" for +1 influence (now 13 total).

    You are awarded 500xp at the same time you are assigned control on Crossroad
    Keep; this brought me to 26,837xp.

  West Harbor
    While you're here, it's worth your time to speak with Georg while Elanee
    or Sand is along for an amusing conversation.

    While visiting West Harbor for the last time I recruited Orlen as a
    lieutenant at Crossroad Keep before heading on to the Ruins of Arvahn.  This
    must be done first because if you visit Arvahn before recruiting Orlen, he
    is killed during the destruction of West Harbor wrought by Ammon Jerro (or
    the King of Shadows; the game never clearly states which is responsible).
    For the same reasons, I sold un-needed gear to and some perfected choking
    powder I crafted to Tarmas until he was out of gold. I brought Grobnar and
    Zhjaeve to boost my appraise skill to 12 (all I could get to at level 7)
    before selling.  Tarmas has a pool of gold of about 50,000 with which to buy
    your items, unless you fund(ed) him further by making one or more purchases.

    You can speak to Retta Starling about Lorne for 500xp and deliver the Tithe
    Box to Brother Merring from Dawnbringer Natrisse for another 1500xp, but I
    chose to skip them both since XP was something I still wanted to avoid
    until after I had both Zhjaeve and the Construct while still level 7 - and I
    was now very close to this goal.
    
  Path to Arvahn (part one)
    On your first trip to Arvahn you'll encounter some Malarites on what they
    consider to be a sacred hunt: in this case, a hapless un-armed peasant.
    You can stand aside and let them finish him off to avoid a conflict, but I
    chose to fight by stating "I'm not going to allow you to harm this man" for
    a +3 shift towards good (now 4/19) and some loot.  Unlike most foes, the
    Malarite's (mostly) random gear drops can be quite good.  So after various
    loot seeding attempts I was (eventually) able to get some valuable gear: the
    Huntmaster dropped a scimitar of speed (as long as I didn't let him shape
    change into a dire bear, which would destroy it) a dire bear claw/tusk/tooth
    and a +3 Kama.  The rest of his hunting posse dropped 156 gold, 222 gold, a
    +2 longsword, a scroll of neutralize poison, and 6 asp's nest darts.  
    Feeling contrarian, I decided to announce to the peasant "Don't be so
    grateful - I'm killing you next" for a +1 shift towards evil (4/18).
    Whomever deals the coup-de-grace will shift by 5 towards evil.  Oddly
    enough, this will affect any of your companions, should they land the
    killing blow.  Since my PC killed him, I got 7 xp (now 26,844) and moved to
    4/13.

    The peasant drops no loot.

    Note that unlike many battles, you can run from the Malarites towards the
    navigation beacon and flee (presumably leaving the peasant to his fate)
    without having to defeat your opponents first.  If you do, you won't be able
    to return to this encounter again, missing out on what could be very good
    loot, and will encounter the pixies on your second attempt to travel to
    Arvahn (part two).  

  Path to Arvahn (part two)
    On your second trip to Arvahn you'll encounter some Pixies.  If you're evil,
    they'll fight you unless your diplomacy, bluff or intimidate skills are high
    enough to convince them to leave you alone.  If you're neutral or good, you
    can go along with their prank to obtain a ring of invisibility.  Fighting
    them earned me a pixie lance and fairy dust.  Since I had already purchased
    a ring of invisibility earlier from Nya (and was still evil anyway), I chose
    to fight for the pixie lance and fairy dust.

  Ruins or Arvahn (first visit)
    Uthanck Camp
    For my first visit here I brought Sand.  When I first spoke with Uthanck I
    passed an intimidation check, saying Logram lost Old Owl Well because he was
    weak for +1 influence with Sand (now 7).  Note you can only obtain Ilrah's
    Rib by agreeing to kill Ghellu for Uthanck and then being friendly with his
    shaman Ilrah.  Ilrah's Rib is very useful for the Blind Fight and Toughness
    feat it provides just by carrying it in your inventory, so you should agree
    to kill Ghellu even if that isn't actually your plan. Therefore I (lied and)
    agreed to kill Ghellu and, after eliminating the Goblins and Orc berserkers
    along the countryside, proceeded immediately to the Gem mines.  I had my PC
    proceed while invisible to the cauldron at the northwest corner of the map
    to retrieve the Rune Inscribed Iron Piece, the last component needed to
    reactivate the Construct at level 7.  I then set about recruiting two Keep
    assistants for the Keep before continuing on.  I was still at 26,844 XP.

    It's worth noting that during your first visit to the Ruins, one of the Orcs
    in Uthank's camp will generate a random number of Mild Poison Arrows.  It
    will drop them later on should you choose to fight Uthank and the rest of
    his clan.  While the effect of these arrows on targets is not particularly
    impressive (CON drain of 1 to 2) the DC of 40 (!) is, making them, by far,
    the most powerful arrows in the Original Campaign.  Save them for worthwhile
    battles.

  Old Owl Well
    I recruited only Katriona (one of the 4 Sergeants available) and Pentin
    because, at this point, they were the only two where doing so involved no
    additional XP.

  Crossroad Keep
    Courtyard
    Upon speaking with Master Veedle, the PC starts with 70,000 gold from Nasher
    for improvements.  The first project I commissioned was the smithy at a cost
    of 10,000 gold (60,000 Keep funds remaining).

    Keep interior
    On my first visit to the keep interior I first spoke with Kana and did the
    following:
    1. Set Merchant Tithes to 0 and institute secret Merchant Tax with appraise
       (minimum 12 required)
    2. Set Farmer Tithes to 0
    3. Set Greycloak quality to Best
    4. Set Greycloaks to Training
    5. Set Katriona to Training (this may not do anything, but it can't hurt)

    I then sent Uncus away and set about activating the Construct.  When I first
    with Grobnar he asked about the Tome of Iltkazar.  When he mentioned it, I
    said "So?" and when he asked about retrieving it so he can upgrade the golem
    (construct), I answered with "Sounds good.  If we can restore him fully,
    he'll be an asset" for +1 influence (now 13 total).
    
    After activating the construct, I replied to Grobnar saying "I'm impressed
    you got it working again, good job" for +2 influence (now 15 total).  I also
    got 1,000xp for activating the Construct (at level 7!) and now had 27,844xp.

    Upgrading the Construct requires passing three skill checks: craft Armor,
    Weapon and Alchemy.  It's probably best to have the PC fail at the craft
    Alchemy test so that Sand will offer to make this upgrade himself (earning
    +1 influence in the process, now an 8).  This is another situation where you
    can raise your influence with Sand an unlimited number of times: as long as
    you continue to fail the Craft Alchemy check with the Construct any time you
    examine it and choose to upgrade it, Sand will continue to offer to perform
    the Alchemy upgrade for you, earning another +1 each time you "let" him.  I
    had him do this just once, but if you want Sand to fight with you instead of
    Qara in the final battle with the King of Shadows, you may choose to boost
    influence with him at any time prior to the final battle by failing this
    check repeatedly and allowing Sand to assist every time.  This will continue
    to work as long as A) the PC hasn't successfully passed the craft Alchemy
    check on its own and B) the Construct upgrade patch has not been applied.
    Specifically, from the NWN2 wiki that I edited frequently:
    
           "As a pure fighter acquired in the second chapter, the Construct
        isn't very customizable, aside from its skills and feats, but it
        is well prepared for its intended role as a tank and high
        damage-per-round dealing companion.  The player can also apply
        several enhancements through the use of Craft Alchemy, Craft Weapon,
        and Craft Armor, but due to programming missteps this section of the
        Construct's dialogue is bugged so that succeeding will provide the
        wrong feats: five (5) point Warlock resistances to fire, cold, and
        electricity. These resistances upgrade to 10 points when the
        Construct reaches level 20.

        To fix this, download the mod and copy the "gl_construct.DLG" file
        into the "...\Campaigns\Neverwinter Nights 2 Campaign" path where
        the game was installed, overwriting the original.  Alternatively,
        the file can be placed in the Override folder.  Doing so will make
        sure all the correct feats are applied (as detailed below) and
        Sand's intervention will always succeed.  However this must be done
        prior to doing any upgrades, as this patch will not work
        retroactively."

    At level 7, the unimproved Construct Starts with an AC of 26, 112 HP and a
    23 STR.  However,

           "if the mod patch is installed, these upgrades give the Construct a
        +3 AC boost from the armor improvement, a +6 Strength from the
        weapon boost and +15 hit points from the alchemy upgrade. After
        killing the Shadow Reaver who carries the Tome of Iltkazar, you can
        use it to upgrade the Construct further: Have the tome in your
        inventory, and both Grobnar and the Construct outside of your active
        party. Talk to Grobnar and ask him to use the tome to upgrade the
        Construct - it will gain +2 to Strength, Dexterity & Constitution.

        Note that the above upgrades are considered base statistical
        enhancements; spells and passive items may boost its statistics
        further without overlapping each other. Consider the following
        examples:

        * Bull's Strength will still increase its strength by 4
        * Mephasm's infernal token (strength based) will further boost the
          Construct's strength by 3 (this will not stack with statistic
          enhancing spells such as Bull's Strength shown above). At level
          20, this can leave the Construct with a Strength as high as 38.
        * Ilrah's Rib will grant the feats Blind Fight and Toughness
        * If the Construct has enough rank in Use Magic Device, the Charm of
        * Joy will boost its Charisma by three and provide a +3 (dodge)
          bonus to its AC vs. evil aligned opponents"

    Note that if you choose to apply the available patch for the Construct and
    then have Sand apply the Alchemy Upgrade on it, Sand will do this properly
    the first time.  Therefore, you will only get one +1 influence increase with
    him.

  Ember
    Now that I had successfully activated the Construct at level 7 and upgraded
    it as much as I could before obtaining the tome of Iltkazar, I went back to
    Ember to speak with Guyven and recruit him to Crossroad Keep.  I earned
    250xp in the process, bringing me to 28,094xp and level 08.

  Various Locations
    Once my party leveled to 8, I set about the third round of perfected choking
    powder buying, crafting and selling to get to my third round of buying (most
    notably the Pharaoh's mace and other choice items) before continuing on to
    the Ruins of Arvahn again.

  Ruins of Arvahn - revisited
    Riverguard Keep
      Level One
    I had Neeshka disable all the traps and unlock all the doors before clearing
    the level of opponents (an easy task at ECL 17).  A conversation with
    Ralidor earns the chance to avoid combat if you agree to bring him Ghellu's
    head when you leave the keep.  However, I chose to immediately leave the
    keep and face his posse for the larger cache of loot they drop by fighting
    outside the keep rather than immediately upon encountering him inside.  Most
    of the loot drops with Ralidor outside the keep are fixed.  The chests
    inside the Riverguard Keep can yield better loot.  By the time I moved on to
    level two, I remained at 28,094xp.

      Level Two
    I chose to wait on meeting Ribsmasher until I was almost finished with
    Riverguard Keep.  

      Level Three
    Being polite while speaking with Ghellu allows the option of accepting his
    offer to kill Uthanck in exchange for gold and access to the Statue of
    Purification he guards.  If you're careful and shrewd in the manner of your
    bargaining with Ghellu, you can agree to killing Uthanck in a way that
    doesn't move you towards evil by one (if this happens to be a goal of yours)
    For example, asking "Will you allow me to use it if I can get to it?",
    answering him with "You can't get to the statue, but you're promising me I
    can use it?" and finally saying, "the fact that your bargaining with me
    means I could take it by force" will allow this option.  In any event,
    agreeing to Ghellu's bargain by whatever method will gain +1 influence with
    Bishop (now 21).

    Uthanck Camp - revisited
    Speaking with Uthanck after accepting Ghellu's deal starts a conflict with
    his tribe the second time you speak with Uthank, resulting in mostly fixed
    loot drops.  At level 8, this is not an easy battle, so take time to
    prepare.  Curiously, the +3 axe Ice Reaver that is dropped from the battle
    is not worth nearly as much gold as the mild poison arrows you also get
    (about 255 gold/arrow), probably due to the DC40 for the 1d2 CON damage on a
    failed poison save for each arrow hit.  Again, the number of arrows you get
    is randomly determined the first time you visit Arvahn - I got 77.

    Riverguard Keep - revisited
      Level Three
    After defeating Uthanck I informed Ghellu of the deed.  He offered his
    reward but I chose to rout him and his minions for their substantial loot.
    Most of the loot from every monster drop is fixed (but not from the objects
    found on this level), including a bone ring, ring of protection +3 and The
    Nomad's Ring.  Regardless of how you deal with Ghellu, you'll earn 1,500xp
    for gaining access to the statue (now 29,594xp total).

    Once Ghellu and his posse were defeated I set about collecting treasure in
    the Keep.  Of note:

      * A chest in the southernmost room on level one can yield a belt of agility +1
    and I kept reloading until it did.
      *    Many chests and other storage objects can yield wands of arcane disjuncture,
    but these were no longer worth my time now that I could craft unlimited
    quantities of perfected choking powder
      * An open crate in the eastern room on level three can yield a high-quality
    gem.  I chose to re-load until it gave a blue diamond.
      * If you choose to fight Ribsmasher he'll drop Gloves of the Long Death +3
    upon his defeat.  You may choose to do so because they're worth about 3,200
    gold.  However if you chose to let him loose as I did, he can smash open the
    door to the room with the second statue of purification.  He'll die in the
    process of doing this and egging him on to do so open earns +1 influence
    with Bishop (now 22), -1 influence with Shandra (now 21) and a 3 point shift
    towards evil (now 4/10).  If you chose this route, it's advisable to wait
    until you're done loot collecting because he'll also smash every door and
    chest he finds along the way, and if you don't first seed the chests and
    other storage objects with the desired items you want generated in them
    beforehand, you'll likely end up with low grade gear and some broken items
    as well.  Ribsmasher is a tough candidate at ECL 8 and is worth 560xp at
    this level, should you chose to fight him.  Freeing Ribsmasher as I did
    results in 100xp (bringing me to 29,694).

    Once all the treasure collecting was done I touched the first statue of
    purification by the entrance to the Ruins of Arvahn and then proceeded to
    the second one at level 3 of the keep.  Neither statue grants XP.

    When you are at the second statue of purification you'll have another
    opportunity to gain unlimited influence, this time with Zhjaeve.  After the
    door to the chamber with the second statue is opened, you can select the
    (open) doors to bash as much as you like.  Every time this is done,
    conversation options can lead to an additional +2 influence with Zhjaeve.
    Because I consider this a hack, and since improved influence with her
    appears to have no impact whatsoever on gameplay, I didn't do it and instead
    chose to let Ribsmasher take care of the door for me, increasing my
    influence with Bishop as described above.
    
    Note that if you, or any combination of members in your party, possess the
    complete set of the Master's Shield, Sword and Scepter, the doors guarding
    the statue of purification will recognize you as the long awaited Master of
    the Keep and open automatically.  Dropping any of these three items on the
    floor will prevent this from happening.  Should you choose to bash the door
    open yourself, be prepared for the 50+ points of magical damage you'll incur
    in the process.

    Gem Mines - revisited
    Vanquishing the hordes of undead here, and the Baelnorn in particular, was
    made far easier at level 8 by Bishop smiting them with the Pharaoh's Mace.
    While hasted, Bishop always went directly for the Baelnorn first, since they
    can cast a variety of spells that can kill the entire party in one fell
    swoop if they're all unlucky enough to fail their saves at once.  Similarly,
    the Umber Hulk was taken out while protection from evil spells were active
    and prevented its confusion ability from affecting anyone until Bishop
    managed to fell it with a critical hit from The Headsman.

    When you meet the elven spirit historian Balaur, asking him "Are there any
    books you could share with me?" in the conversation will result in him
    giving you the three volume set of books on Illfarn history and The
    Guardian which, if you care to hear his recitation on the history of Illfarn
    and the King of Shadows, can nicely supplant what he tells you.  The books
    have no impact on gameplay but, along with Balaur's re-caption, enhance the
    story.
    
    When you meet the first elven spirit, responding to his introductory
    statement about The Guardian with "Patriotism. A foolish notion" or "No
    nation is worth such a sacrifice" earns +2 influence with Bishop (now a 24).

    After clearing out the undead I set about gathering the sprits.
    Collectively, they provide details in the interesting and ironic tale of how
    The Guardian came to be, was corrupted and ultimately lead to the downfall
    of the society he was created (and surrendered his very soul) to protect.

    Aside from the fairly useful fixed drops in the gem mines (such the Hammer
    of the Lost Empire and Broewende Family Armor), I was able to get the
    following randomized gems after about a dozen reloads:
    * A footlocker in a room on the west side of the map contained some scrolls
      and a wand of lesser summons (you can do better if you reload enough)
    * A small chest in the same room can yield a high value gem (Blue Diamond)
    * A skull pile by one of the Dwarven spirits had a diamond
    * A large chest on the south end of the map contained a diamond, a wand of
      arcane disjuncture, thieves' tools +6, 3 darts and a potion of eagle's
      splendor
    * A room on the southeast end of the map has two small chests and a
      footlocker.  One of the small chests can yield magic wands (I got none),
      while the footlocker gave me a diamond.  The other small chest has fixed
      loot that is worth mentioning because of its contents: a ring of improved
      evasion, 25 adamantine ingots and potion of cure disease.
    * Three sections of archives near the entrance contain scrolls of randomly
      varying quality/power, and can also yield low to mid level power wands.
      Of note, I was able to get a scroll of Mordenkainen's Disjuncture from one
      and Implosion from another.

    It is difficult to overstate the potential usefulness of the Broewende
    Family Armor.  Although it only has a base armor class of 4, it has a
    maximum dexterity bonus of 4 and a +1 armor bonus, so it offers the same
    defense as base full plate in protection.  More importantly, it has three
    very useful properties, listed in increasing order below:
    1) it has acid/fire resistance of 5
    2) as light armor, it can be worn by almost every class except wizards and
       sorcerers and - finally:
    3) it confers immunity to mind-affecting spells - as an item property.  This
       is important because spells such as Protection from Alignment that confer
       this immunity can be (and are) dispelled by opponents, whereas immunities
       conferred by item properties cannot.  Specifically, from the NWN2 wiki,
       Mind-Affecting Spells have:

           "A (usually) hindering effect that is directed to the mind of the
        target. Feeblemind and Fear are two examples of a mind-affecting
        attack/state.  Constructs, undead, and vermin are immune to
        mind-affecting spells.  To determine the results of these effects,
        Will saving throws are usually used.

        Immunity to mind-affecting spells makes a character immune to fear,
        stun, dominate, charm, daze, and sleep effects, even if not caused
        by a spell."

       In addition, any spell or spell-like effect that is mind-affecting in
       nature (e.g. Feeblemind, Hold Monster) usually won't work on those
       immune to mind-affecting spells, regardless of the source.

       Once I acquired this highly useful armor, any companion (but particularly
       those with low will saves) who needed to fight unimpeded would usually
       wear it (along with an amulet of health) to deal with opponents who might
       otherwise defeat the entire party with charm/stun/hold/death effects.

       Specifically, this armor allowed tank-types like Khelgar who are (usually
       by this point in the game) fully armed with weapons that can dramatically
       change the tide of most battles (e.g. the Headsman, Pharaoh's Mace or
       Gutspiller) to do their work without being neutralized mid-stream,
       thereby endangering the rest of the party.

       There are, of course (along with spells), several items in the Original
       Campaign that confer immunity to mind-affecting spells (mostly weapons),
       but few are available this early and able to be used by as many class
       types as this one without a (modified) rank of 11 or higher in use magic
       device.

       Take the Broewende Family Armor everywhere.  Use it often.   

    Completing the Communion Tree earns another 1,500xp (31,194 total) and
    access to another statue.

    Temple of Seasons
    Although you can skip the four trials and go straight to the fourth statue
    by unlocking the door to the chamber containing it, I chose to complete them
    for the items.  Enough reloads before the first and fourth trials earned
    some reasonable loot; mostly mid-value gems.  In order to avoid experience
    here I had Neeshka unlock doors to each room once fighting began (they'll
    lock automatically once combat begins) and then moved my PC move to a safe
    distance before engaging my opponents.  

    The fourth room with the Trial of Spring presented a challenge because, as
    the battle progressed, a lightning blaze would periodically damage the
    entire party, regardless of their distance from the battle.  At level 8 this
    was problematic, so I gave my PC the shard that grants Acid and Electrical
    resistance and the ring of regeneration I had.  You could also have Zhjaeve
    cast Endure Elements, though I didn't find that necessary to last long
    enough to get enough distance to avoid XP from other party members killing
    the pixies - before my PC was killed anyway (that happened on the second
    lightning blast).
    
    Completing the 4th statue earned another 1,500xp (32,694 total).

  West Harbor
    When you arrive at West Harbor after going through the Illfarn Song Portal
    you'll have up to four chances to increase your influence with Shandra by a
    total of +5.  The first is after the opening dialogue is completed and if
    you cross the bridge to the other side, closer to Deaghun's home.  This
    starts another exchange with Shandra.  Answer her with, "I wish I'd been
    here to defend it" and "Well, it's the truth. I thought leaving here would
    have kept it safe, but I was wrong" (+3).  Then respond with, "Growing up
    here was probably a lot like growing up on a farm - you yourself might be
    bound for greatness one day (+1 influence and, tragically, she is).  The
    third opportunity can occur if you speak with her immediately again, where
    she will say, "I'm still sorry about West Harbor.  Are you alright?  I know
    we talked a little, but...." eventually you'll have the chance to respond
    with, "They might have been, if no one had stopped the lizardfolk" and "It's
    better to think of how much we're preventing" (+1 influence).  I forgot to
    do the last one until just before I entered Ammon Jerro's haven, so my total
    influence with her was now 26.

  Illfarn Temple
    Because the room is too small there is no way to avoid experience from
    killing the Shadow Reaver and his minions: two each of shadow priests,
    greater shadows and dread wraiths.  Bishop used the Pharaoh's mace to easily
    dispatch undead, starting with the Shadow Reaver to avoid his potentially
    problematic spells.  Shandra took out the priests with Gutspiller.  Along
    with other buffs, I also had Zhjaeve cast Protection from Evil and Death
    Ward on everyone prior to entering the structure, just in case Bishop wasn't
    quick enough in killing the Reaver (he was).

    I received 2,075xp for defeating the Shadow Reaver and his posse and another
    4,000 for surviving the encounter, bringing me to 38,769 and level 9.

  Blacklake District
    Road to Crossroad Keep    
    On the way back to Crossroad Keep I encountered the Qara Animus for the
    first time.  This appears to happen if you travel from Blacklake to
    Crossroad Keep with Qara in your party.  Defeating it earns no XP, but does
    result in interesting conversation with your companions.  If you return to
    the Blacklake District and then immediately set out again for Crossroad Keep
    (I did), you'll encounter the Animus a second time.  This leads to a
    considerable amount of amusing whining on the part of your companions, but
    still no XP.  On a curious note: it appears casting Shadow Simulacrum on the
    Animus (at least at this point) has no effect.

  Duskwood
    Werewolf Cave
    After leveling up and redistributing my equipment from the Ruins of Arvahn,
    it was time to take care of housekeeping in preparation for a return trip to
    Crossroad Keep.  First on the list was additional recruiting.  I went to the
    cave by Mirri and Jilla to finish them off, keeping my PC at sufficient
    distance to avoid unwanted XP.  However, I was still awarded 900xp for
    finding Bradbury's remains (now 39,669xp).  After looting their insect
    collection, I went back to the glowstone caverns near Ember to visit
    Kistrel.  Along the way I collected two ore deposits #7 & 8 (50xp each, now
    39,769 total).  After feeding Kistrel I asked him to join us, stating
    "Allies from Nature are welcome - I hope we can gather more", for +1
    influence with Elanee and 1,100xp (14 and 40,869 total, respectively).

  Post Llast
    Alliance Arms Inn
    Having found Bradbury's remains, I reported his demise to Calindra for
    1,000xp (41,869 total) and recruited her to the Keep.

  Fort Locke
    I recruited Jacoby to Crossroad Keep.  Note that even after you recruit
    Jacoby, he will remain available to buy and sell equipment at both
    locations.

  Crossroad Keep
    Farm area and Courtyard
    I entered the courtyard first but didn't speak to anyone, then went back to
    the farms area to speak with Calindra for 2,000 gold and to report my
    findings of the 8 ore deposits (so far) in the game.  I then went back to
    the courtyard and again to the farm area to collect from her another reward
    of 2 each of Iron Ingots, Cold Iron Ingots, Alchemical Silver Ingots and
    Mithral Ingots.  This also registered the ore I collected for armor and
    weapons upgrades for the greycloaks there.

    Returning again to the courtyard, I commissioned good armor and best
    weapons, doing area transitions to and from the farm and courtyard, but not
    into the Keep.  Also, remember to avoid speaking with Veedle about building
    anything until later to prevent progression of time for the Keep.  
    
    Armor                Weapons
    Basic/Leather         3500    "Real"        5000
    Decent/Studded Leather    15000    "Good"        15000
    Good/Scale Mail        30000    Mastercraft    35000

    After the armor and weapons upgrades, I had 28,451 gold remaining.

    Keep interior
    After speaking with Aldenon for the secret location of Ammon Jerro's haven,
    I went to the Keep basement to speak with Kistril, stating "You're welcome
    to stay.  There's plenty of room for anyone who's a friend" for a +1 shift
    towards good (now 4/11) and to start the timer for his cloak spinning - a
    gift given to the PC later on.
    
    After redistributing equipment gained from Arvahn and my first encounter
    with a Shadow Reaver, I went to Ammon Jerro's Haven.

  Ammon Jerro's Haven (1st visit)
    Haven Approach
      Open Area
    Upon arriving here my companions first took out all of the shadow opponents
    and Gargoyles, avoiding XP while doing so.  I then proceeded to the Jerro
    Guardian.   You'll earn 100xp for meeting it if Guyven has already been
    recruited to Crossroad Keep (41,969xp).

      Path of Determination
    The Path of Determination is very easy to complete.  Simply run along the
    very edge of the Geyser path and you will avoid all but one of the random,
    scalding steams coming from the ground.  Even if you fail a dexterity/tumble
    check at the Geyser (16 seems to be enough) you'll still fill the vial.
    Passing a skill check avoids damage entirely and earns +2 influence with
    Neeshka (now a 27).  The 500xp awarded here brought me to 42,469xp.

      Path of Sight
          Lighting all the braziers for this task can be a bit tricky as one grouping
    of fire elementals often have a habit of being out of the PCs line-of-sight
    on a hill north of the last brazier.  They're easily seen from the top of
    the hill by the Shaman's vantage point.

      Path of Righteousness
    I waited to speak to the Jerro Guardian about The Path of Righteousness
    until last, because it is only when you ask about this task that the Shaman
    is spawned.  Once spawned, he comes with two fixed items and one or more
    random drops, which can be very valuable.  Eventually, I was able to get a
    +2 sickle and a Greater Archer's Belt.  You will only get this gear if you
    choose to fight the Shaman.  Otherwise you'll face the 5 barbarian spirits
    he summons.  

    Upon meeting the Shaman, after his introduction, I choose to ask, "The Golem
    said you were a threat. Is this true?" then answer his reply with, "You've
    done nothing wrong - I'm not going to kill you" for +2 influence with
    Casavir and Shandra (now 14 and 27 respectively) and +1 towards good (now
    4/12).  After his warning I stated, "Then I have no choice but to kill you."
    Like all other opponents here, I ran to a safe distance before permitting my
    companions to defeat him, receiving only the 500xp that is given for
    completing this path (now 42,969xp).
    
    With the tasks for all three paths complete I spoke with the Jerro Guardian
    for a second time about the Paths of Sight (500xp) and Determination
    (1,000xp) and now had 44,469 xp total.  I waited to claim credit for having
    finished the Path of Righteousness because it's possible that acknowledging
    the completion of all three paths with the Jerro Guardian may prevent you
    from being able to leave the Haven Approach area - essentially forcing entry
    to Ammon Jerro's Haven and finishing ACT II; this happened to me once.
    Also, if you acknowledge all three paths with the guardian and then ask
    Shandra to hold off on offering a drop of blood while you take care of
    unfinished business, you will miss out on +1 influence with her when you're
    finally ready to enter.
 
    And there was still a lot to do.

  Various locations
    Various merchants
    After finishing my fourth and fifth rounds of perfected choking powder
    crafting I set about selling to enough merchants to get enough gold to
    purchase the spear Vengeance of Asenath from Dayne Lynneth.  At appraise 14
    it cost 579,436 gold.  Since I had already exhausted the gold supply of most
    merchants who would buy perfected choking powder at the best ratios, I had
    to make do with the best of what was left.  Starting with 29 gold I sold to
    the following merchants:

    Merchant    Location    Gold ratio    PCPx10 sold    Gold earned
    Reylene        Docks District     98.48%        36.8         99,838
    Dayne - spec    Blacklake     98.48%         3.3          8,953
    Dayne - norm    Blacklake     98.48%        41.8        113,403
    Dawnbringer    Blacklake    100.00%        46.7        128,611
    Yask        Port Llast     89.18%        42.5        103,275
    Haljal - spec    Port Llast     89.18%        51.5        125,145

    Blacklake
      Dayne Lynneth
    Once I had sold enough powder to Haljal get to get to excatly 579,436 gold I
    went back to Dayne and bought the spear Vengeance of Asenath.  Now that I
    had bought the most expensive item in the Original Campaign, Dayne was once
    again able to buy a lot more powder from me.  After selling the remainder of
    my perfected choking powder from round 5 of crafting I had 329,629 gold.  I
    then purchased the battleaxe Alrec from him (for its level 17 Dominate
    Monster ability) and used the remaining gold to do my 6th and final round of
    perfected choking powder crafting.  At this point I had exhausted the gold
    supply of the following merchants:     

    Merchant          Location        Gold Ratio    Starting Gold Pool
    Branson    Marlek          Highcliffe    100.00        50
    Simmy              Old Owl Well    100.00        50
    Edario                Highcliffe    100.00        50
    Jacoby              Fort Locke    100.00        50
    Werth              Docks District    100.00        100
    Repko              Docks District    100.00        100
    Fibba              Docks District    100.00        100/100
    Deekin              Merchant Quarter    100.00        50
    Pap              Merchant Quarter    100.00        50
    Judge Oleff b4 rescue Merchant Quarter    100.00        30
    Dawnbringer b4 tithe  Blacklake Dist    100.00        100
    Dayne Lynneth          Blacklake Dist     98.48        100/100
    Reylene              Docks District     98.48        100
    Tarmas              West Harbor     96.92        50
    Yask              Post Llast     89.18        100

  Various locations
    Various merchants
    I then set about round five of buying and, in the process of doing so,
    purchased the following items for crafting at some point, either for party
    use or re-selling for a profit:

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Crafting item(s)    Qty    Cost    Sold by        Total Cost/Merchant
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Half Plate Mold            225    Jacoby
    Darksteel Ingot            197    Jacoby
    Mithral Ingot            118    Jacoby
    Duskwood Plank             79    Jacoby
    Longbow Mold             51    Jacoby
    Heavy Crossbow Mold         31    Jacoby
    Light Crossbow Mold         19    Jacoby
    Warmace Mold             15    Jacoby
    Shortbow Mold             15    Jacoby
    Heavy Shield Mold         11    Jacoby
    Rapier Mold             11    Jacoby           772
    Umber Hulk Hide        x2    504    Simmy
    Zalantar Plank        x3    252    Simmy
    Longbow Mold             54    Simmy
    Heavy Crossbow Mold         33    Simmy
    Light Crossbow Mold         21    Simmy
    Warmace    Mold             16    Simmy
    Shortbow Mold             16    Simmy
    Heavy Shield Mold         11    Simmy
    Rapier Mold             11    Simmy           918
    Blue Diamond              4,680    Pap
    Jacinth                  1,820    Pap
    Diamond                  1,040    Pap
    Adamantine Ingot    x2    1,050    Pap
    Fire Opal            780    Pap
    Ruby                702    Pap
    Darksteel Ingot        x2    520    Pap
    Shederran Plank        x2    312    Pap
    Mithral Ingot        x2    312    Pap
    Zalantar Plank        x2    208    Pap
    Duskwood Plank        x2    208    Pap
    Trap Kit Mold        x2     42    Pap
    Obsidian        x2     30    Pap        11,704
    Faint Earth Essence        118    Deekin
    Fairy Dust        x2      4    Deekin           122
    Darksteel Ingot            197    Repko
    Duskwood Plank        x2    158    Repko
    Longbow Mold             51    Repko
    Heavy Crossbow Mold         31    Repko
    Light Crossbow Mold         19    Repko
    Shortbow Mold             15    Repko
    Warmace    Mold             15    Repko
    Heavy Shield Mold         11    Repko
    Rapier Mold             11    Repko           508
    Duskwood Plank        x6    594    Werth           594
    Glowing Earth Essence        711    Dawnbringer
    Dragon Blood            632    Dawnbringer
    Umber Hulk Mandible        355    Dawnbringer     1,698
    Full Plate Mold        x25  14,700    Fibba
    Half Plate Mold        x25   5,700    Fibba
    Longbow Mold         x25   1,283    Fibba
    Heavy Crossbow Mold     x25    790    Fibba
    Light Crossbow Mold     x25    493    Fibba
    Shortbow Mold         x25    395    Fibba
    Warmace Mold         x25    395    Fibba
    Darksteel Ingot     x2    394    Fibba
    Shederran Plank     x3    354    Fibba
    Rapier Mold        x25    296    Fibba
    Heavy Shield Mold     x25    296    Fibba
    Breast Plate Mold     x4    268    Fibba
    Umber Hulk Hide            237    Fibba
    Zalanter Plank         x3    237    Fibba
    Falchion Mold        x4    205    Fibba
    Chain Shirt Mold     x4    126    Fibba
    Short Sword Mold     x25     98    Fibba
    Greatsword Mold        x3     94    Fibba
    Katana Mold         x4     79    Fibba
    Light Shield Mold    x25     19    Fibba
    Studded Leather Mold    x4      3    Fibba
    Kama Mold         x4      3    Fibba
    Club Mold         x4      3    Fibba
    Dagger Mold         x3      2    Fibba
    Leather Armor Mold    x3      2    Fibba        26,472
    Frost Giant Head        672    Dayne Lynneth    
    Phase Spider Mandible        504    Dayne Lynneth
    Ghost Residue            336    Dayne Lynneth     1,512    
    Blue Diamond              3,825    Merchant Elemen
    Beljuril              2,592    Merchant Elemen
    Canary Diamond              2,550    Merchant Elemen
    Jacinth                  1,487    Merchant Elemen
    Diamond                850    Merchant Elemen
    Sapphire            765    Merchant Elemen
    Ruby                573    Merchant Elemen
    Rapier Mold        x25    318    Merchant Elemen 12,960
    Half Plate Mold            236    Yask
    Heavy Shield Mold         12    Yask           248
    Adamantine Ingot        415    Haljal Throndor
    Darksteel Ingot            207    Haljal Throndor
    Mithral Ingot            124    Haljal Throndor
    Longbow Mold             53    Haljal Throndor
    Light Crossbow Mold         20    Haljal Throndor
    Warmace Mold             16    Haljal Throndor
    Shortbow Mold             16    Haljal Throndor
    Rapier Mold             12    Haljal Throndor       863
    Vampire Tooth            504    Nya
    Ghost Residue            336    Nya
    Ice Mephit Hide            168    Nya         1,008
    Full Plate Mold            426    Edario at CK
    Salamander Hide        x2    290    Edario at CK
    Half Plate Mold            165    Edario at CK
    Heavy Shield Mold          8    Edario at CK       889
    Adamantine Ingot    x25   7,249    Jacoby at CK
    Shderran Plank        x50   4,350    Jacoby at CK
    Darksteel Ingot        x25   3,624    Jacoby at CK
    Duskwood Plank        x50   2,900    Jacoby at CK
    Mithral Ingot        x25   2,175    Jacoby at CK
    Longbow Mold        x25    942    Jacoby at CK
    Heavy Crossbow Mold    x25    580    Jacoby at CK
    Light Crossbow Mold    x25    362    Jacoby at CK
    Shortbow Mold        x25    290    Jacoby at CK
    Warmace Mold        x25    290    Jacoby at CK
    Rapier Mold        x25    217    Jacoby at CK    22,979
    --------------------------------------------------------------
                                83,247

  City of Neverwinter
    Blacklake District
    Be aware that once you enter ACT III Fort Locke, the Blacklake and Dock
    Districts are no longer accessible.  So if you have any quests there you'd
    like to complete, as I did, they will have to be done before you enter Ammon
    Jerro's Haven.     In addition, Deekin is the only merchant from ACT II who
    remains in the Merchant Quarter in ACT III, albeit with substantially
    different gear for sale.

    With this in mind, I set about completing several side quests, starting in
    the Blacklake District.

    Before moving on, I crafted a Belt of Cloud Giant Strength for Khelgar, a
    Nymph Cloak +8 for my Warlock PC, a Mithral Shield for Grobnar, and another
    suit of Adamantine Full plate which Khelgar used for the time being.

      Temar Estate
    Due to space constraints, it is not possible to avoid experience from
    disposing of Lord Temar, Larim, Arren or the rest of their posse, and they
    each gave the following experience:
    Arren:          54
    Temar:        595
    Larim:        220
    Private Guard:    500 (100 each)
    In addition to the fixed loot from Temar and his minions (most notably the
    ring of regeneration from Larim) there were 2 alexandrite gems.

    With the 1,369 xp from this event I was now at 45,838xp and level 10.
    
      Collector's Mansion, level 1
    For this quest I brought Neeshka, Grobnar, and Khelgar.  The guards here are
    easy enough to kill at level 10, especially with the gear I had.  To
    prepare, Grobnar cast invisibility sphere on the party and buffed Kehlgar
    with heroism.  Shandra used the Scabbard of Blessing to bless the party and
    cast aid on Khelgar.  Khelgar used the Rod of the Ghost for damage
    reduction.  Everyone stayed near the entrance door by the northwest corner
    of the map except Khelgar, who ran southeast near Vania and, wielding the
    Headsman, took out all the guards without any XP.
 
    You'll need to find the empty bottle in the servant's room and fill it by
    placing it in the vase of water.  Doing so allows you to douse the fire at
    the fireplace on the second floor to retrieve the key there.  The fireplace
    key, along with the collector's key and vault combination, will allow you to
    open the vault and face Leldon for the last time.

      Collector's Mansion, level 2
    I chose to use diplomacy with Vania to meet the collector, but not before
    stealing her Saintsblood Pearl.  After confronting him, I chose to fight for
    a 3 point shift towards evil (now 4/9) and 100xp (45,938 total) in exchange
    for his valuable fixed loot drop: the longsword "Angurvadal", the mace "Kiss
    of Sune", a potion of Cure Serious Wounds, 15 gold (unless you steal the
    gold from him first) and Gloves of the Balanced Hand.  Note these gloves are
    bugged; they only add +2 to the Parry skill and do not grant the Two-Weapon
    Fighting Feat as described.

    I focused on getting a Beljuril from the Collector's armoire.  It also gave
    a scroll of Etherealness.

    A note: If you kill the collector, his 4 servants will be flagged as
    hostile - if they weren't already.  They won't attack you if they weren't
    hostile in the first place (only if you told them "you're dead"), but this
    will allow your companions to attack and kill them, earning a small amount
    of XP with no shift towards evil - as long as your PC doesn't land the
    killing blows; I chose to spare them at least for the time being.

    When I approached the collectors vault I chose to enter the code (513)
    correctly to avoid xp from guards that would otherwise appear.  However, you
    may choose to deliberately get the code wrong to get extra xp and gear from
    killing those that appear.  A total of eight guards (2 in the first round
    and 3 in the second and third rounds) can spawn with random treasure drops.
    I found I could get up to sapphire gems (for gems) or an amulet of will +3
    (for items) in top value.

    Be aware there is a bug in the game while inside the Collector's Vault which
    allows for unlimited gold: there is a short delay between when you click on
    a particular pile of gold and it starts to fade away.  However if you pause
    the game, you can click on any pile an unlimited number of times, without
    causing it to vanish.  I did not do this as I consider it an unfair
    exploitation of a loophole.  However if you're so inclined it is, literally,
    there for the taking.  Note one of the smaller piles on a table on the North
    side of the vault yields 420 gold.  

    While I did loot the collector's vault I chose delay killing Leldon because
    of the 1,500xp that would be earned from finishing Neeshka's quest (which
    gives no other rewards) along with the 277xp from defeating him at level 10.

    Now that I had finished almost all of the collector's mansion I gathered the
    loot on the first floor.  I kept re-loading (not for very long) to get
    diamonds from Vania's armoire and the chests in the guard's room.  It is
    possible to get a wand of arcane disjuncture from the armoire of the
    Collector, Vania and one of the guard's chests but, due to the time
    required, it's much more efficient to simply craft perfected choking powder
    instead for the gold (if you need it).

      Bryce Crypt
    For the first part of my visit here I brought Khelgar, Bishop, and Neeshka
    (to deal with locked and trapped containers).  While in this Crypt there
    are several opportunities to affect your alignment.  In particular, there is
    a bug in the game that allows for unlimited experience and alignment
    shifting towards good or evil, based on your conversation choices with
    Savanna.  Should you manage to convince Savanna not to fight your party with
    a successful diplomacy check you'll earn another 500xp (I was now at 46,438
    total.  Then, if you speak with her after the battle with her (sort-of)
    shadow-initiate friends, in addition to the 400xp you may earn, you may also
    move one step towards good or up to three towards evil, based on choices in
    your conversation.  This is assuming she didn't get killed in battle first
    (and it's not hard to save her, if you choose to).  Once you finish your
    conversation, she will start to walk towards the exit and will disappear
    once she passes the doorway where her (former) friends were.  However you
    can speak with her immediately after your first conversation ends, with the
    same conversation choices and results being available.  You may repeat this
    process as often as you like, as long she remains.  You can prevent her from
    disappearing by simply closing the door to the room.  Be aware that if    you
    (accidentally) walk into her once she is stopped at the door, she will
    disappear anyway.

    Like most other exploits, I chose to avoid this one.  However, if you're
    looking for a rapid and/or radical alignment change towards good or evil
    and/or want any extra experience, this is a perfect opportunity to do so.
    
    I chose to leave Savanna where she was and moved on to confront Arval.

    Prior to fighting Arval I buffed the party with Bless, Aid, Haste and
    Barkskin.  Fighting Arval wasn't hard, but surviving long enough to get
    adequate distance between my PC and Arval's alcolytes (to avoid XP) took two
    tries.  Once Arval was defeated, I waited on speaking with Lisbet until
    after Neeshka disarmed and unlocked Arval's chest (and I had exchanged her
    for Elanee).  With Elanee in the party I protected Savanna with Barkskin and
    Stoneskin.  Before speaking with Lisbet I moved Elanee, Bishop and Shandra
    near Savanna to distract the shadows that would appear next to her
    afterwards.

    When the shadows appeared, Khelgar fought the ones near him and Lisbet with
    the Pharaoh's Mace, while my others companions defended Savanna until my PC
    was far enough away to defeat them all without any xp.  Once the shadows
    near Savanna were defeated she ran to where Lisbet was to continue fighting,
    but before she arrived Khelgar had destroyed the shadows near him.  If you
    choose to defeat all the shadows before speaking with Savanna, be aware that
    as she is in a different room, she may disappear before she approaches the
    door out of the chamber where Arval and his novitiate acolytes were.  This
    only matters if you want to take advantage of the experience or alignment
    shifting she offers.  You may increase the chances of her staying around by
    keeping out of her way until she stops by the closed door of the room where
    her former friends were.  Also, you can always pause the game to greatly
    slow her movement between conversations, but you won't be able to keep it up
    forever here.  So if you want to guarantee easy xp from her, it's probably
    best to do it while she's still in the room where her former friends were,
    before speaking with Lisbet.   

    Once the shadows are defeated a dialogue between Lisbet and the PC starts.
    I chose to respond with "No, it worked fine. Or did you miss the shadows and
    the fighting and the killing?", then "Are you insane? Do you know what could
    have happened?" and "Stupid girl. You'd have traded your soul for a kiss and
    some pretty words" for a +1 shift towards evil (now 3/8) and +1 influence
    with Bishop (now 25).

    I escorted Lisbet out of the Crypt but avoided speaking with Kyli Bryce for
    the moment because of the 2,000xp I would get from doing so.  The same went
    for Savanna and the 400xp I would eventually receive from conversing with
    her.  Again, if Savanna survives and you decide to speak with her again,
    your alignment can shift by up to one towards good or up to three evil.  If
    you choose conversation options three or four from the start, your alignment
    will shift by three towards evil and you won't get the 400xp otherwise
    awarded for saving her from the shadows.  Choosing option four will, in
    addition to a three point shift towards chaotic, cause Savanna to attack you
    in a rage.  If killed, she drops a +2 Kukri and yields 220xp (at level 10).

     (Castle Never)
    I delayed handing in Arval's Journal to Lord Nasher to avoid the XP.  If
    you choose to deliver it (as I eventually did), it will complete the Bryce
    Crypt quest and also offer an opportunity to take advantage of what I
     believe is (another) one of the biggest loopholes in the final version
    (v1.23) of the game: when you hand over Arval's Journal you get 500xp and
    200 gold.  However, Neeshka (or any sufficiently capable PC/companion with
    enough skill in slight-of-hand) can steal the Journal back from Lord Nasher
    without consequence, even if an attempt is detected.  Speaking with him
    again yields the same conversation with the same rewards.  This can be done
    an unlimited number of times but, again, since I consider this a form of
    hacking, I only spoke with him once, later on.

    Merchant Quarter
      Tomb of Betrayers
    Now that almost all leftover quests were finished (minus the XP involved)
    I went to the Tomb of Betrayers.  This location is one of the few places in
    the game that offers unlimited experience to level up via the endless supply
    of Tomb Guardians you can kill there.  Notably, it is available in ACT I,
    so for many this can make it an attractive option.  I, of course, was the
    exception to this rule so I waited until I was almost finished with ACT II
    to finish this side quest.

    While in the Tomb I brought Elanee, Neeshka and Khelgar.  This combination,
    along with Shandra, allowed for easy dispositioning of the undead and traps
    therein.  I managed to collect two wands and two diamonds before I left,
    along with some minor fixed loot.  If you choose to rescue Onan (I
    eventually did) your dialogue choices can allow for a alignment shift by one
    (1) towards good/evil and one towards lawful/chaotic.  You'll also get 300xp
    if/when you report Onan's rescue to Judge Oleff.  You don't have to actually
    rescue Onan to leave the Tomb: just throw the switch in the room with
    Fenthick.  By delaying the rescue of Onan, I left with the same 46,438xp I
    started with when I entered.

    If you decide to take advantage of the unlimited experience the Tomb
    Guardians offer, xp is awarded based on your effective character level
    (ECL), in a manner that may approximate what is shown below:
    10)  33xp per kill
    11)  24xp per kill
    12)  19xp per kill
    13)  12xp per kill
    14+) 04xp per kill
 
    The precipitous drop in XP at level 14 makes using them past that point a
    a fairly slow process.  You can grind onward for more xp as long as you:
    A) avoid opening & going down the gated hallway with the Tomb Guardians AND
    B) don't rescue Onan and leave the crypt (once you leave the doors lock
       behind you).

************************************************************************************
                A CHANGE IN STRATEGY
************************************************************************************

    My initial goal was to enter ACT III with as little experience as possible
    to get Ammon Jerro at level 10.  However, after doing so, I discovered this
    was an unwise path of character progression for my PC and her companions for
    the rest of the game.  Here's why:

    Although the earliest you can acquire Ammon Jerro is level 10 (a nearly
    impossible task), doing so requires skipping the completion of several
    non-essential plot stories.  More to the point, I found out the hard way
    this severely hampers your ability to advance in level in ACT III where, as
    it turns out, opportunities to earn experience are scarce in comparison to
    ACT I and II.  Somewhat more realistically, I found, he can be recruited at
    level 11 and there's little point in getting him earlier - just a minor
    savings in skill point allocation.

    Therefore, should you choose to recruit Ammon Jerro before level 12 as I
    did, the only opportunities to obtain unlimited experience and still have
    all party members at level 20 (or any other reasonable level for that
    matter) in ACT III are as follows:

    A) Grinding for experience while you are in Merdelain, which is almost the
       end of the game anyway.
    B) if you are playing a Hellfire Warlock, you may grind for unlimited
       experience at any point once (s)he is able to make use of the use the
       Summon Baatezu feat.  In my case this was ECL 14 (since my Yuan-ti
       pureblood Warlock is ECL +2)
    C) Use a character editor or the in-game console to hack your XP. However
       this makes little sense because, if this is your playing style, you are
       likely better off gaining experience normally throughout the game,
       manually reducing your companions to level 1 and re-leveling them as you
       see fit as soon as you get them.  If this is your preferred style of
       play, you probably wouldn't be reading this guide - most of it wouldn't
       apply to you.

    To this end, I went back to this point, just after I had finished collecting
    loot from the Tomb of Betrayers, with four goals:

    1) Aiming for experience to get Ammon Jerro as close as possible to level 12
       (66,000xp) without actually being there.  Since I had previously acquired
       Ammon at level 10 with 52,953xp, that meant I had roughly an extra 13,046
       to fill in.  Fortunately, there were plenty of unfinished quests to do
       this with.
    2) Sell my un-needed equipment at level 11, instead of level 10.  This put
       my maximum appraise at 14 instead of 18.
    3) Do another round of perfected choking powder crafting to buy better gear
       in ACT III as soon as it becomes available.
    4) Craft some magical items I bad been needlessly holding out on that would
       make gameplay easier.
____________________________________________________________________________________
    Step one of five was to finish seven uncompleted quests:

  City of Neverwinter
    Blacklake District
      Bryce Crypt
    1) I picked up Arvan's Journal and spoke with Savanna, saying, "You did the
       right thing, Savanna.  We'll keep you safe."  After her reply about
       Raven I said, "Don't look. Can you make it back to your parent's house?"
       which finished this quest with a +1 shift towards good (3/9) and 400xp
       (46,838).

    2) Speaking with Kyli outside earned another 2,000xp and 300 gold.  I now
       had 48,838xp.

      Collector's Mansion
    3) Finishing off Leldon earned 277xp (at level 10) and 1,500 more for
       completing Neeshka's quest to be Neverwinter's Greatest thief (now
       50,615).  Before I left I went to the servant's quarters and opened the
       door.  The now hostile servants could be attacked and I helped dispose of
       two of them.  If your PC lands the killing blow on any of them it results
       in a five point shift for each one you dispatch.  Since I wanted to stay
       evil until I was finished leveling as a Blackguard in ACT III and my
       Crossorad Keep management style would have otherwise resulted in my
       changing alingment prematurely, I killed two servants for a +10 shift to
       evil.  Two servants gave 5 xp each, the other two 16 each.  I was now 3/0
       with 50,657xp.

       On the way to Castle Never I spoke with Kiggo and declined to help him
       take revenge on his captors.

      Castle Never
    4) A conversation with Sir Nevalle about Larim and Lord Temar earned 1,500xp
       (52,157).
    5) A conversation with Lord Nasher where I handed in Arval's journal earned
       500xp (52,657) and 200 gold.
    6) After meeting Kiggo again and declining to help him take revenge I
       eventually fought him (71xp) and the five imps he freed for 33xp each
       (52,893 total).  They dropped minor random loot.

    Merchant Quarter
      City Watch Headquarters
    7) Speaking with Captain Brelaina about the City Watch undercover quest
       finally yielded me 1,000xp (53,893 total xp).
____________________________________________________________________________________
    Step two of five was to advance to level 11:

      Tomb of the Betrayers
    I killed 34 Tomb Guardians at 33xp each to advance to level 11, with
    55,015xp.

____________________________________________________________________________________
    Step three of five was getting more gold for some expensive gear in ACT III:

    Blacklake District
      Dayne Lynneth
    Having leveled to 11 and re-distributed some equipment, I sold unwanted gear
    worth 10,000 gold or less to Dayne Lynneth and then set about taking all of
    the proceeds to do another round of perfected choking powder buying and
    crafting.  At appraise 18, a stack of 10 perfected choking powders sells for
    2875 gold to Dayne and 2916 to Fibba.  Details are below:

    Amt of Garlic            Hours/        
    & Belladonna    cost    PCP    days to     Gross profit    Appraise required
Round    purchased    to buy    craftd    craft     from sale    at point of sale    
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
7    7,016        140,320    1,764    18/4     special*    18
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
       *Dayne was only able to buy back 248,438 of gold before he ran out of funds.
    The rest of my perfected choking powder was saved to buy the most expensive
    items in ACT III.  In the meantime I did buy these items from Fibba:

    5 Arrows of petrification     3,130
    Water's Edge            44,921

____________________________________________________________________________________
    Step four of five was selling gear I decided I didn't need later and a bit
    of extra crafting:

  City of Neverwinter - various merchants/locations
    Before saying goodbye to Shandra and moving on to Ammon Jerro's Haven I sold
    most of my unneeded gear worth 10,000 gold or less to Dayne in Blacklake.  I
    also fashioned Mithral Platemail and shields for use later on (along with
    two medallions of thought) and redistributed/reorganized equipment in my
    party.  Finally, I bought 99 leather hides and five arrows of petrification
    from Fibba as insta-kill arrows for possible use later on.

    Merchant Quarter (optional)
      Temple of Tyr
    A final note before leaving ACT II: all three of Khelgar's vision quests can
    be completed by speaking with Hlam for 250xp each, although your influence
    with Khelgar must be a 10 or higher for him to decide to switch classes.
    With less influence, even if Khelgar completes the Vision Quest Trials of
    Tyr he will say, "need to think about it - I still have some things I need
    to work out in my head, get straight." If you choose to allow Khelgar to
    become a monk you will get a chance to "re-level" him from level 1 back to
    the current level your main PC's experience total affords.

    Any or all these can be delayed or skipped.  Note that if you delay one or
    more of these until ACT III, Hlam will be instead be found outside the
    Temple of Tyr - he will still allow Khelgar to complete his vison quests
    to become a Monk.  I did want to have Khelgar make the switch, but it was
    impractical to do so at this time because of my desire to delay the XP and
    my need for his fighter skills - until my party killed Tholapsyx in ACT III.
    Therefore, I waited on his switch until later.

  Haven Approach
    Entering Ammon Jerro's haven required acknowledging completion of the path
    of Righteousness (earning 500xp, now at 55,515) and saying goodbye to
    Shandra, who always seemed to get the raw end of every situation in the
    game.  

    Before entering, I spoke with Shandra to build influence by one with a
    conversation I had forgotten earlier.  She started by saying, "I'm still
    sorry about West Harbor.  Are you all right? I know we talked a little,
    but...." Eventually I had the chance to respond with, "They might have been,
    if no one had stopped the lizardfolk" and "It's better to think of how much
    we're preventing" (+1 influence, now 28).

    Speaking with the Jerro Guardian and Shandra for the last time I said, "Only
    do this if you want to, Shandra" for +1 influence (a final 29, before she
    disappeared into the Haven).  I brought Khelgar, Grobnar and especially
    Neeshka for the humorous dialogue that results from her tagging along and
    easily opening trapped/locked items.
    
    Again, be aware that once you enter the haven, you cannot exchange any
    companions until after after your solo battle at Castle Never (and
    Neverneath below it), so make sure you have all the gear you and your party
    may need for these events.  Any gear Shandra was wearing/wielding or had in
    her inventory at her departure will be in Ammon Jerro's inventory once he is
    added to your party.

____________________________________________________________________________________
    Step five of five was making sure I acquired Ammon Jerro as close as
    possible to level 12 (66,000xp) without being there.  Details are below:

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Event            XP     Total    Notes
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ***Experience from Ammon Jerro's Haven***
    Erinyes    x3 (x5)         78 each  000    I skipped the xp from these three
                        (2 more appear if you make Hezebel
                        angry - and I did - for the extra
                        loot)
    Ice Mephit x4        111 each  444
    Fire Mephit x4        111 each  444
    Elder Air Elemental    241 each  241
    Hezrou x3         50 each  000    I skipped the xp from these three
    Iron Golem        429 each  429
    Hell Hound x6        111 each  666
    Succubus, greater x5    429 each  2145    (this included killing one w/hounds)
    Succubus, minor x2 (x4)    241 each  482    (2 more appear if you try to leave
                        before agreeing to help Blooden -
                        and I did - for the extra loot, but
                        skipped the XP involved)
    Nessian Hell Hounds x2    302 each  302    (I skipped the xp from one of these)
    Blooden opens portal   1000      1000
    Baalbisan opens portal 1000      1000
    Zaxis opens portal    No xp

    I had 62,668xp when I left Ammon Jerro's Haven
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ***Experience from Castle Never***
    Royal Guard          45 each  45    A ShadowReaver earns you this when
                        it kills a guard during the intro
                        sequence; it cannot be avoided
    Elite Vampire x4    472 each  000    I skipped the xp from these
    Wraith (number varies)    396 each  000    I skipped the xp from these
    Survive the Ambush          500
    Discover Neverneath          250
    Shadow priests         472 each  472

    I had 63,935xp when I entered Neverneath
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ***Experience from Neverneath***
    Tomb questions answered    200 each  800    I chose to answer 4 of 6 correctly
                        deliverately missing two for some
                        much needed high powered crafting
                        reagents
    Ice Mephits x20         16 each  256    leave 4 behind by entrance (kill 16)
    Fire Mephits x6         22 each  132
    Swords of Halueth x8     16 each  128
    Guardians, greater x2    220 each  000    leave these two behind
    Guardians, lesser x2     71 each  142
    Take notes for Guyven    100      100
    Survive Neverneath    500      500

    This brought me to 65,993xp before recruiting Ammon Jerro
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

  Ammon Jerro's Haven
    I increased influence with Neeshka by five here (from a 27 to 32) as
    follows:

    1) When I met Baalbisan, Neeshka taunted him by saying he was foolish to
       be lured with false promises of blood and sacrifices.  I showed my
       support saying, "I think a few more taunts may suffice.  What can this
       demon do to us, after all?" (+2 influence).
    2) When I encountered Zaxis (again) and she continued to refer to herself in
       the third person, Neeshka chastised her finishing with, "Referring to
       yourself when you speak... it's a sign you're really losing it."  I went
       along stating, "Might want to listen to her, Zaxis.  She's got a point"
       (+2 influence).
    3) After learning Zaxis' true name from Blooden she asked "How may Zaxis
       serve you... Master?" I answered with, "I command you to stop referring
       to yourself in the third person" (+1 influence).
 
    Mephasm aside, you can enlist the aid of up four of the five demons and
    devils trapped here, but only three (plus Mehpasm makes four) are needed to
    open the portal to confront Ammon; I chose Baalbisan, Blooden and Zaxis.  In
    my case only Blooden (1000), and Baalbisan (1000) gave experience.  If you
    want 1000 more, you can free Koraboros' imp and then speak with him after.

    The ancient book by the imp has pages that can be torn out for unlimited
    use, but only while inside the Haven; they have the opposite/detrimental
    effect on you and/or your party.  Successfully passing Lore and Spellcraft
    checks earns 500xp each in addition to revealing the nature of the book and
    its effects (by now I had passed by Baalbisan, Hezebel and Zaxis).  If you
    wish to skip the XP from deciphering the book and still free the imp in
    Koraboros' service, reading the third phrase "Tilo ut lon" will accomplish
    this goal.  Humoring Blooden with her battles earns 1000xp (61,668 total)
    and the second way to learn the true name of Zaxis.  You can also learn it
    by successfully taunting Baalbisan; doing so in this way appears to have no
    effect on Zaxis directly, though it does satisfy Hezebel's requirement to
    assist in opening the portal.  You can earn another 1000xp (now at 62,668)
    either by sharing Zaxis' true name with Hezebel (however you discover it) or
    lie and, after the ensuing battle, speak with Baalbisan for the same
    results.  I chose to side with Baalbisan for the extra loot from Hezebel's
    minions.

    When speaking with Blooden, asking "Who are you?" starts a conversation that
    can hint at secrets of several joinable NPCs.

    Combatting foes with the gear I used was (usually) fairly effortless,
    especially with adequate preparation.  It's probably a good idea to fight
    as often as possible - to earn additional loot and monster parts that can be
    reduced to essences.  I was able to get loot as detailed below:

    * The first bookcase in the room next to Baalbisan had a wand of arcane
      disjuncture and scrolls of planar ally and crushing despair.  The second
      one yielded a book titled, "The Tome of Alchemy" a wand of arcane
      disjuncture and a scroll of lesser invulnerability.
    * I was (eventually) able to get a blue diamond from the footlocker in the
      room with the imprisoned imp.  The armoire was capable of giving a belt of
      agility +2 so I kept re-loading until it did - along with a +2 longsword,
      +2 greataxe, a wand of missles and a potion of bless.
    * Various monster drops yielded lesser items of value and some fixed loot,
      but I did manage to acquire a 6 alexandrites, 4 sapphires, 37 ice arrows,
      26 bolts of lightning, a copper necklace and a silver necklace.

    When you finally enter Ammon's chamber you can, and should, destroy the
    spikes there prior to combat using ranged weapons to prevent them from
    hitting you with energy beams during the ensuing battle.  Having the ability
    see invisible enemies is also helpful due to Ammon's immediate use of the
    Warlock invocation Retributive Invisibility once fighting begins.

    Again, it's important to note that once you defeat Ammon Jerro and leave his
    inner chamber, you won't have access to any of your companion's gear until
    later in ACT III (after your solo battle in at Castle Never and Neverneath
    below it), so take care to keep any items you will want to make use of
    during the upcoming solo battles that takes place in Castle Never prior to
    leaving this area.  

  Crossroad Keep
    Phoenix Tail Inn
    During the cut-scene that follows your departure from Ammon Jerro's Haven,
    conversation dialogue allows you to shift three points towards good/evil or
    lawful/chaotic (mine shifted by 3 chaotic to 0/0).  

    Before speaking with Ammon, have a conversation with Zhjaeve to discover why    
    the Githzerai can't enter the conflict with the King of Shadows.  I've tried
    various approaches at conversation with Zhjaeve just after arriving at the
    Phoenix Tail Inn to raise influence with her, but found none accomplished
    that goal at this point in the game.
    
    Your first conversation with Ammon Jerro after the cut-scene arriving at the
    Inn allows several opportunities to increase/decrease your influence with
    him (by up to eight) depending on the wisdom of your choices.  To aid in
    this, before you begin, be sure to lift your diplomacy as high as possible -
    a minimum of 25 is needed to get past Ammon's stubborn righteousness to see
    how his extreme reclusiveness and secrecy only made recent events worse.
    Some conversation pointers are as follows:

    1) Ask him "Why do you want to stop the King of Shadows?" and eventually
       pass a bluff check (20+) answering his accusations of your motives with,
       "I only wish to protect Neverwinter, and all its people" (+1) and agree
       with his reasoning by (for example) saying, "I need all the help and
       allies I can get, so I accept that - for now" (+1).
    2) Ask, "Why do you have so much disdain for Zhjaeve?" and when he replies,
       answer with, "She has her uses, as do you" (+1 influence, +1 evil), along
       with "I know why Zhjaeve's people cannot enter the conflict... the
       Githyanki would fight them instead of the King of Shadows"
       (+1 influence).  Finally, when he states he wished he had paid more
       attention to the politics of the Githyanki and Githerzerai in the
       conflict, ask the (rhetorical) question: "Is there wisdom in being tied
       to politics and laws when so much is at stake (+1 influence, +1 chaotic).
    3) Lastly, tell Ammon, "I'd like to know more about your past", and when
       he's done with his rant, pass a diplomacy check (25+ required) while
       stating, "If you hadn't shut yourself off from the people you were trying
       to protect, we wouldn't have had the troubles we had" (+3 influence).

    Of all the conversation dialogues in the game, the ones above with Ammon
    cover an awful lot of ground and are one best suited to taking your time
    with for full enjoyment and appreciation of the game's plot - if you've
    never done so before.  If you take the time to investigate all the options,
    you can learn a great deal about Ammon's extensive history and orchestration
    of various events that brought everyone together (rather tragically, as it
    turns out) to this point.  In my opinion, full exploration of all the
    conversation options shows the masterful skill with which Obsidian's writers
    tackle a variety of ethical and moral dilemmas.  Right or wrong and Good &
    Evil can take on contextual, subjective, relativistic and particularly
    Machiavellian tones (often dangerously so).

    Be aware that as soon as you approach Sir Nevalle, a series of conversations
    and cut-scenes will land you in Castle Never for numerous solo battles, so
    don't go near him until you're finished with Ammon Jerro and Zhjaeve.

####################################################################################
                                       ACT III
####################################################################################

  City of Neverwinter
    Castle Never - level one
    ACT III begins as soon as your conversation with Sir Nevalle at the Phoenix
    Tail Inn is concluded.  You're sent to Castle Never to accept your
    appointment to Knighthood, but a Shadow Reaver and his crew of undead
    minions ambush you.  Anyone slain in the ambush becomes another wraith to be
    defeated.  Clerics and Paladins of high enough level may have some measure
    of success saving Neverwinter's citizens by turning undead and using AoE
    spells.  Also, if you wield the Pharaoh's mace, you may manage to save more
    than a few.  However, because Ammon Jerro was still not in my party I chose
    to avoid XP and use my Ring of Invisibility while Sir Nevalle, immortal as a
    plot-character, killed everyone on his own in the conflict.  Occasionally,
    one of the Neverwinter citizens may be lucky enough to escape attention and
    survive the battle, though none did for me.

    During the cut-scene of accepting gear from Sir Nevalle and meeting Lord
    Nasher it is, oddly enough, your PC that will get the experience when one of
    the Shadow Reavers kills a royal guard (45xp in my case at level 11, now
    62,713xp total)

    Surviving the initial assault earned me 500xp, even though I didn't lift a
    finger (now 63,213).  In the guard room, your alignment can shift by one
    towards good/evil or lawful/chaotic based on your response to Nevalle's
    entreaty.  I answered with "You have to be joking.  There's no way I'm
    leaving here" for a +1 shift towards chaotic (remaining at 0/0).

    Most opponents carry cheap or pre-set loot here, but three shadow priests
    near the tapestry to the lower level of Neverneath are notable exceptions;
    they spawn with random gear as you approach the area.  From these misguided
    souls I was eventually able to get Gloves of the Rogue.  More interesting
    than the gear they dropped was the way they died: I lead enemies to Sir
    Nevalle, thereby luring him out of the guard room and, eventually, to the
    room where the shadow priests spawned so he could kill them.  I did defeat
    one of them myself (for 472xp) while he dispatched other enemies along the
    way.  Finding the secret entrance to the lower level earns 250xp (63,935
    total).

    Castle Never - level two - Neverneath
    At first glance it may seem like a good idea to answer the questions posed
    by the six statues here about Neverwinter correctly and there is some logic
    to this, since each time you do 200xp is earned and a gate opens allowing
    you to skip a combat encounter with two or more Guardians of Neverneath.  In
    addition, if you get all six questions right you earn the longsword Blessing
    of the Daystar when you finally reach Halueth's final resting place.

    However, you can earn up to two high quality gems if you answer the third
    statue incorrectly and another (along with reasonable loot) by doing the
    same with the sixth.  Each time a wrong answer is given, a door to an
    alternate pathway is revealed, forcing a conflict with one or more Guardians
    of Neverneath.  The alternate pathways by the third and sixth quizzing
    statues are the only ones with rooms hidden behind tapestries.  You may
    enter these rooms after dispatching the Guardians (who are easy enough to
    defeat) in each of these otherwise inaccessible areas.  Questions and
    answers are listed below:

    Q1: How many fingers have I? (Nine)
    Q2: What name has the lake beside Neverwinter? (Black Lake)
    Q3: Enemy of Neverwinter is buried where? (The Tomb of the Betrayers)
    Q4: The more common name for the Artery of Neverwinter? (Neverwinter River)    
    Q5: Where might an enemy of Neverwinter find map of our city? (Say Nothing)
    Q6: How many gates must one pass through? (Three)

    As I got 4 questions correct, that was 800xp

    I lured 4 Ice Mephits and two larger Guardians to the stairway entrance of
    Neverneath instead of killing them.  I then ran away after turning invisible
    and closing the doors behind me to keep them blissfully unaware of my
    activities and remaining where they were.  This positioned me to leave
    Neverneath with 65,993xp, just 7 shy of level 12.

    Swearing loyalty to Neverwinter, truthfully or not, will have the eight
    floating swords by Halueth start neutral towards you, otherwise they will
    attack you on sight.  If you approach Halueth's coffin from the north by the
    missing 9th sword, you can skip a fight with the other eight and get an
    extra 1000xp.  I chose to not take the oath.

        If and when defeated, each floating sword drops lifeless to the ground as a
    +1 longsword.        

    Once all enemies were defeated or hidden away, I gained the following items:

    1st secret room: The first (trapped) chest contained a bolt of piercing, a
             king's tear and 19 bolts +1.  The second contained a broken
             item, a blue diamond, 7 shurikens +1 and 4 bolts of
             lightning.
    2nd secret room: There were three chests in this room, two of which were
             trapped.  The first chest on the right contained 25
             adamantine ingots and a blue diamond.  The first of two
             locked chests (which I had to destroy to get their
             contents) contained a broken item, a book titled "Advanced
             Abjuratives" a wand of sleep and a scroll of phantasmal
             killer.  The second was capable of yielding a belt of
             agility +2, so I kept reloading until it did, along with a
             spear +2, 706 gold and a broken item.

    I obtained these items from the 6 locked chests in Halueth's chamber (in
    counter clockwise fashion from 11 o'clock to 1 o'clock) before moving on to
    the surface with the Rod of Never:

    1) a broken item, 4 fire agate gems and (eventually) a belt of agility +1
    2) a broken item, a scroll of confusion and a wand of summoning      
    4) a broken item, a scroll of mass cure serious wounds and a wand of
       arcane disjuncture
    5) The Wizard's Ally (dagger)
    6) a broken item and a blue diamond  

    Note that if you managed to recruit Guyven of the road to crossroad keep by
    this point you will earn another 100xp as you pass the threshold of
    Halueth's chamber back to the surface with the message "Guyven will be
    interested in hearing about this place."  You get another 500xp for
    surviving Neverneath and resurfacing next to the throne room (65,993 total).
    

    Castle Never - level one - Throne Room
    After defeating the ShadowReaver a long cut-scene takes place.  Be sure to
    mention recruiting the Lizard Folk with Nasher before moving on.  Most other
    conversation choices merely determine what you discuss first.  Once your
    dialogue with Nasher is finished, you're returned to Crossroad Keep.

  Crossroad Keep
    Upon arrival another cut-scene begins where plans and goals are discussed.
    I particularly enjoyed Grobnar's suggestion about the Wendersnaven and
    Sand's reaction.

    At this point I was finally able to add Ammon Jerro as the last companion to
    my party at level 11, with 59,993 experience (6 to spare), an extremely
    difficult and tedious task nevertheless accomplished.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    This completed the low-to-no experience portion of game play.  With this
    herculean task behind me, I switched gears to what most consider the normal
    method of play: maximizing experience with each event and encounter,
    particularly Crossroad Keep.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    As a reminder, I wanted to recruit all available sergeants and other Keep
    associates.  Those yet to be recruited are listed first, are IN CAPS and
    have descriptions of how to be obtained after their name.  The four
    possible sergeants, in particular, have an asterisk before their number:

       *01) BEVIL STARLING - appears automatically at the Keep and can be recruited
        just by speaking with him there
       *02) JALBOUN OF THE TWO BLADES - Joins only if the PC bribes him and manages
        to keep him alive during the battle with Sydney Natale
       *03) LIGHT OF HEAVENS - Can only be recruited if the PC defeats her 3 times
        in progressively more difficult duels
        04) JOY - dances at the Phoenix Tail Inn and improves keep morale.  Joy can
        be recruited by the PC in the Neverwinter Merchant Quarter near
        Blacklake Gate during Act III (100xp)
    05) IVARR THE BLESSED - serves as a priest at the church of Tyr. Joins only
        if the PC decides to build the Church of Tyr.
    06) ROLAN - passes on his secret teachings to the PC if he/she is a monk.
        Rolan joins only if the Sun Soul Monastery is built instead of the
        Church of Tyr.
    07) STARTEAR - takes residence in Keep only if the Wizard's Tower is built
    08) DEEKIN SCALESINGER - serves as a merchant. Can be recruited in
        Neverwinter's Merchant Quarter after the Merhant's shop is built
    09) CAELRYNA SEERAR - serves as a merchant. Can be recruited once she is
        rescued on Mount Galardrym.  Caelryna acts as a fence.
    10) KHULMAR - acts as a liaison for the Ironfist clan. He joins the keep
        only if an alliance is forged between Neverwinter and the Ironfist
        Dwarves
     11) LASSHIVA - acts as a liaison for Batha's lizardfolk tribe. Joins only if
        an alliance is forged between Neverwinter the Lizardfolk
    12) MEPHASM - can be recruited/summoned in ACT III if the PC fashions a Gold
        Filigree Charm.  Each bargain with Mephasm requires an infernal focus,
        where he will offer to give the PC an item for a price (the PC must give
        him his/her favorite weapon or armor at end of 3 transactions for the
        final bargain)
    13) TORIO CLAVEN - provides information for potential recruits.  Torio joins
        only if the PC saves her from execution and requests she be transferred
        to the Keep.  Torio's advice isn't really needed, but can make for
        interesting conversation by adding some history and background to
        certain events/recruits
       *14) Katriona
    15) Kistrel
    16) Edario
    17) Jacoby
    18) Orlen
    19) Calindra
    20) Pentin
    21) Guyven of the Road
    22) Wolf

  City of Neverwinter
    Merchant Quarter
    My first order of business after recruiting Ammon Jerro was recruiting Light
    of Heavens, but before this I wanted to be level 12.  So I first went to the
    Merchant Quarter and then headed back to Crossroad Keep.  On the way back,
    there was an encounter with greycloaks fighting some trolls.  Now that I had
    recruited every NPC (Ammon Jerro especially) I chose to fight alongside them
    for the experience.  At CLVL 11, the troll hunter was worth 525xp (bringing
    me 66,518 and CLVL 12).  The 2 other trolls (at CLVL 12) were worth 50 each
    (66,618), along with some fixed minor gear.

    After leveling my party I went back to the Merchant Quarter to engage in the
    first of three progressively more difficult battles to earn her loyalty:
    Here, then in Port Llast and (finally) at Crossroad Keep.  However, it's
    worth pointing out it's not at all difficult to beat LoH if you play a
    hasted PC, attack her at range and have sufficient renegeration (I fought
    her while wearing a ring of regeneration and the Neverwinter Knight's
    Cloak).  From the NWN2 wiki article (which I contributed to):
 
           "True to her calling, Light of Heavens will not knowingly serve
        anyone of malicious intent.  If the PC is evil aligned and answers
        her initial query to the nature of his or her character with "That
        is none of your concern" or "'Dark Could that hastens the night?'
        I like the sound of that", LoH will take notice and ask if the PC
        is evil.  Should the PC then admit their dark nature she will
        reluctantly attack but if defeated will, rather than yield and offer
        her service, be killed and drop some of her gear as loot instead.
        Evil aligned PCs who answer in any other way may still enlist her
        service, just as they may with her twin sister, Joy."

    Note that you gain no XP from recruiting Light of Heavens.

  Crossroad Keep
    Courtyard
    After recruiting Light of Heavens I spoke with Bevil several times to
    essentially do the same with him.  The principal goal in these conversations
    was to ensure he was effectively assigned to patrol the neighboring roads,
    but there were other effects as well.  One of them was alignment drift of 3
    towards good where, in answer to Bevil's question, "I don't know if I should
    follow Kana's example or try to get them to be proficient both with manners
    and words, too" I replied, "We all have to be good people first, and
    warriors second", (now 0/3).  The right questions eventually lead to Bevil
    admitting he was kidnapped by the Githyanki who tortured him into revealing
    the "Kalach-Cha" had some of the silver shards.  I chose to forgive him,
    saying "Everyone breaks under torture - everyone", though this had no effect
    on alignment.

    Phoenix tail Inn
    A conversation with Bishop about the Wendersnaven led to him asking why.
    When I said Grobnar mentioned them, he replied "Well, then that's a
    guarantee they don't exist" and I answered with "you're probably right" for
    +1 influence with Bishop (now 26) and -1 influence with Grobnar (now 14).

    To repair this loss with Grobnar I next spoke with him and empathized with
    the loss of Shandra by stating, "I am sad that we lost her... but there's
    nothing to do but carry on", for +2 influence (now 16).  I then asked about
    the Wendersnaven, which lead to an amusing exchange between him, Khelgar and
    Neeshka.  I humored him, but eventually expressed doubt saying, "This is
    kind of hard to follow, Grobnar".  When posited with his statement of,
    "Well, yes.  But you see, there's so many fantastical things in the realms,
    does it really seem like it's that improbable after all?" I responded "Yes.
    Yes it does", which lead to a surprisingly cogent argument on his part.  I
    replied saying, "I... concede you may have a point, Grobnar" for another +1
    influence (now 17).

  City of Neverwinter
    Merchant Quarter
    Now that I had recruited Light of Heavens it was time to get her twin
    sister, Joy, as well.  She is located near the gates leading to Blacklake.

    From the NWN2 wiki article I made several contributions to:

           "If the PC is evil aligned, recruiting Joy will require a successful
        bluff or diplomacy check, skills easily enhanced by items and/or
        spells. If the attempt fails you may always try again later.

        Joy increases Keep income by 10%.

        Joy may give you the 'Charm of Joy', a miscellaneous item that looks
        like an amulet. Earning this amulet has the following qualifiers
        (which are the same as obtaining the Warden of the Keep epithet):
        * In addition to Joy, also recruit her sister - Light of Heavens
        * Build the Church of Tyr
        * Greycloak Civility at Crossroad Keep must be "High". This requires
          the PC to turn Uncus away at Crossroad Keep, which in turn has the
          prerequisite of siding with the City Watch in ACT I.
        * Along with Uncus, Caelryna also must not be in the keep (she can
          always be invited after the charm is obtained).

        You receive 100xp for successfully recruiting Joy, regardless of the
        method."

        As long as you are good aligned (or have high enough rank in the Use
        Magic Device skill), just keeping Joy's charm in your inventory will
        passively increase your Charisma by 3 and provide a +3 AC (dodge
        based) bonus vs. Evil opponents.

    This brought me to 66,718xp    
 
  Port Llast
    After an amusing verbal exchange, you're awarded 250xp when the Gnome
    Wendersnaven Sages let you see their map, which allows you to proceed to the
    Strange Clearing to meet the Wendersnaven. (Sort of. Now 66,968xp total).

  Strange Clearing
    If you've recruited Guyven to Crossroad Keep you'll receive 100xp by
    discovering this area and being able to report it to him (now 67,068).

    There is a vein of ore here that gives another 50xp (67,118).

    Once you recover the remains of the relentless poet, you can increase your
    influence with Grobnar by three answering with, "We'll find the Wendersnaven
    someday. I want to believe" (now a 20).  You receive 750xp for recovering
    the Wenderkazoo (67,868 total).

    The Wenderkazoo is of little use to most anyone, except Bards like Grobnar.
    However, if you have any companion keep it in their inventory (and they have
    the required rank in Use Magic Device to use it), it will boost their
    Charisma by three.

    The Orcs which appear here immediately afterwards can be a bit of a
    challenge if you don't prepare properly beforehand.  As usual when facing a
    combination of melee and spellcasting opponents, the most important thing is
    to render your tanks immune to mind-affecting spells.  Spells like barkskin,
    stoneskin, bless, aid, shield, tortoise shell and greater heroism can help
    speed up the pace.  Khelgar (using the Headsman) made short work of Shamans,
    Elanee and her fully buffed dinosaur companion helped dispatch the others
    and Sand provided backup with Isaac's Greater Missile Storm and Fireball.
    Enemy Orcs awarded XP as follows at CLVL 12:

    Orc Berzerker     x4    111 each
    Orc Shaman     x2    409 each
    Orc Scout     x4    111 each

    The Orcs here drop random gear, of which most is typically useless, but
    after many reloads I was able to get a Cloak of Protection +4, a wand of
    missiles and a Katana +1.

    I now had 69,574xp.

  Road to Highcliffe
    While journeying to Highcliffe you encounter Gera and Zachan aagin, whose
    sole purpose in life appears to be getting into trouble so you can rescue
    them.  This time, it's with LizardFolk.  You can make skill checks to taunt,
    bluff or intimidate them (I tried taunting but failed) for 50xp.  I earned
    300xp for dispatching the Shaman and 241 each for the 7 Warriors.  Once the
    battle was done I got another 1,000xp.  Conversation choices afterwards can
    lead to more alignment shifts (1 towards good in my case, now 0/3) and/or
    gold.

    There is another vein of ore here as well, worth the usual 50 more xp
    (72,611 total).

  Highcliffe
    Speaking with Elder Mayne again offers chances to shift your alignment by
    and increase influence with Casavir, both by up to two.  First by offering
    to reason with the Lizardlings (+1) and then by promising not to leave until
    the villagers are safe (now alignment 0/4 and influence of 1).

    When you approach the Lizardfolk captive you can increase your influence
    with Elanee and Casavir further by 1 each if you agree to heal him (now a 15
    and 17, respectively).  This also moves your alignment by one towards good
    (now 0/5).  If you did not kill Slaan in ACT I you will find him here,
    otherwise this lizardfolk will be named Vlssk.

    You will earn 50xp if you successfully use diplomacy, bluff or intimidate
    with the Lizardling and another 250 for getting information from him (this
    brought me to 72,911 xp).

    When you confront Batha you'll get 600xp at level 12 for defeating him the
    first time.  After defeating him the second time his four personal guards
    will join in (worth 111xp each).  It is not possible to kill Batha instantly
    with a critical hit from the Headsman; I believe a script in the game
    prevents it and in any event I had to beat him the regular way both times.
    It's probably best to convince him to ally with you.  If you elect to kill
    him instead you won't get the useful fixed gear he otherwise gives you, or
    the experience.  If you pass a diplomacy check and persuade him to listen to
    you after the battle, 50xp is earned - along with an additional 1,000 for
    successfully enlisting the aid of his tribes at the Keep (now 75,005) and a
    one point shift towards good (now 0/6).  Batha and his personal guards all
    drop fixed loot.

    Note that if Batha suffers more than one killing blow (i.e. damage from a
    weapon or spell that brings him to zero hit points or lower) you will earn
    600xp for every blow that is landed.  For example, if Batha is near death
    with 3 hit points and then Sand hits him with 6 magic missiles, he (you)
    will earn 1,800xp instead of 600.  I considered this a bug and avoided it -
    with some difficulty.

    Before leaving Highcliff, don't forget to get loot from the chests by the
    docks.  I had to swap out Sand for Neeshka to unlock several of these
    chests.  Aside from the fixed loot that is offered, I was eventually able to
    get a King's Tear, three wands and a diamond.  

  Crossroad Keep and Merchant Quarter
    Prior to advancing the clock at the Keep I did four things:
    1) Registered the two newly discovered veins of ore with Calindra and spoke
       with Edario, both to obtain the Armor of Comfort he gives (as thanks for
       building his shop) and to upgrade the Keep Greycloak's armor to Chainmail
       - at a cost of 50,000 gold.
    2) Bought & sold from Nya, Haljal Throndor and Randolph (new to the Merchant
       Quarter in ACT III) using the list below (assumes appraise of 18):

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Item                    Cost    Sold by        Primarily used by    
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Potion of Heal x150        89,700    Nya        whomever needs it
    Boos of the Sun Soul +5        49,898    Randolph    Khelgar or Ammon
    Robes of the Shining Hand +5    18,448    Randolph    Khelgar as Monk
    Bracers of Armor +4        11,712    Randolph    Casavir
    Ring of Resistance +2         7,412    Randolph    Whomever needs it
    Star Sapphire x2         5,544    Randolph    for crafting
    Blue Diamond             3,465    Randolph    for crafting
    King's Tear             3,080    Randolph    for crafting
    Boots of the Sun Soul +2     2,780    Randolph    Casavir
    Beljuril             2,348    Randolph    for crafting
    Canary Diamond             2,310    Randolph    for crafting
    Adamantine Ingot x5         1,925    Randolph    for crafting
    Lich Dust x2             1,848    Randolph    for crafting
    Jacinth                 1,347    Randolph    for crafting
    Umber Hulk Hide x3           693    Randolph    for crafting
    Frost Giant Head           616    Randolph    for crafting
    Vampire Tooth               462    Randolph    for crafting
    Salamander Hide x2           384    Randolph    for crafting
    Wyvern Scales               192    Randolph    for crafting
    Bat Tooth x2               154    Randolph    for crafting
    Belladonna x6                90  Randolph    for crafting
    Bladeling Spike                77    Randolph    for crafting
    Zalantar Plank                77    Randolph    for crafting
    Imp Stinger                77    Randolph    for crafting
    Garlic x6                18    Randolph    for crafting
    Trap Kit Mold x1            15    Randolph    for crafting
    Fairy Dust                 2    Randolph    for crafting
    Full Plate Mold               565    Bill Logan    for crafting
    Sherran Plank               460    Bill Logan    for crafting
    Red Dragon Hide               385    Bill Logan    for crafting
    Mithral Ingot x3           345    Bill Logan    for crafting
    Half Plate Mold               219    Bill Logan    for crafting
    Darksteel Ingot               192    Bill Logan    for crafting
    Trap Kit Mold x7           105    Bill Logan    for crafting
    Duskwood Plank                77    Bill Logan    for crafting
    Zalantar Mold                77    Bill Logan    for crafting
    Longbow Mold                50    Bill Logan    for crafting
    Shortbow Mold                15    Bill Logan    for crafting
    Warmace Mold                15    Bill Logan    for crafting
    Heavy Shield Mold            11    Bill Logan    for crafting
    Rapier Mold                11    Bill Logan    for crafting
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total Cost               207,201    

    I funded the above purchases with leftover Perfected Choking Powder and the
    sale of un-needed items worth no more than 15,000 gold, since this was the
    limit Bill Ogan and Randolph would pay.  A stack of 10 perfected choking
    powder sells to them for 2,916 (at appraise 18).  Randolph sold out at
    348,825.  Bill Ogan still had room to buy at 488,501 when I ran out of
    perfected choking powder.

    3) Sold most of the rest of my unwanted gear to Edario and Jacoby.
    4) Reorganized my gear - again.  For better and worse, inventory management
       is frequent in this game.

    With the above tasks complete I started to advance the Keep timer.  Here is
    my modified guide from the below website, by the numbers:

http://gq-game-mods.blogspot.com/2011/05/neverwinter-nights-2-walkthrough-11b.html
####################################################################################
                Start Crossroad Keep Time Management
####################################################################################

 01) Time 2%
     A.    Speak with Master Veedle to widen the roads (cost: 10,000 gold).

     B.    Once you approach the Keep main doors there is a conversation between
    Khralver and Sand.  Once completed, there is a scripted entry into the
    Keep's Library with Aldenon (which is rebuilt automatically - for free if
    you hadn't done so earlier).  A bookcase in the library has a scroll of
    cloudkill.
    Be aware when you speak with Kana for the first time you must choose Bevil's
    assignment, which can yield the following results:
    * Recruiting Greycloaks     : +20% recruitment rate
    * Collecting Tithes         : tithe up 10%
    * Patrolling Roads         : merchant growth +1/time unit
    * Patrolling Surrounding Areas     : peasant growth +2/time unit
    * Special Assignments        : +1 to outcome
    Unlike other sergeants, Bevil cannot be re-deployed later on.  Choose
    carefully.  
    While speaking with Kana, assign Light of Heavens to Training and Bevil to
    patrol the High Road.  From the blogspot guide:
     "1. Whether you put any sergeant on Recruitment or Training makes no
         apparent difference at this stage. If we put Katriona or Light of
         Heavens on Patrol, they will probably trigger the Leeves event too
         early to get the best result.
      2. It also appears impossible to get the best result from the Leeves
         mission if Light of Heavens is on Patrol too soon."
 
     C.    Speak with Kana again and offer to pay Nasher's war levy of 6,000 gold,
    sparing the Keep's farmers and merchants from it.  This shifts your
    alignment by three towards good (mine was now 0/9) while also possibly
    increasing Keep income and/or morale.

     D.    A final conversation with Kana has her reporting the Greycloaks have
    slightly improved their training; the additional conversations with Kana
    about the Keep's status are not necessary and do not in and of themselves
    advance Keep time, but can provide an overview of Keep progress.  

     E.    If you haven't already done so at least once since visiting the Keep's
    basement after Kistrel's arrival there, do so now; if you don't he won't
    start his timer for weaving a cloak for you and may never finish it.  The
    cloak takes at least 20% additional Keep time to complete.  In my case, even
    speaking with him here at 2%, he finished at Keep time 30%.

     F.    Speak with Guyven about the three places you have seen so far.  It will
    require at least three conversations to do this.  Once you discuss two of
    these locations (it doesn't matter which) your PC will earn the Pathstalker
    epithet (feat).  He will also reveal the location of a dirt mound along the
    outside of the south wall of the courtyard.  Buried in the dirt is a single
    gold piece and the Crossbow of the Unicorn.  The Crossbow is a strong
    weapon, but is likely of little value at this point if you've crafted your
    own custom gear as I had.

     G.    In the basement, approach the center of the summoning circle.  When Ammon
    cautions the PC saying "Be careful with that - it is a summoning circle,
    inscribed by Garius and his allies", respond by saying "With you around, I
    think I'll be in little danger" for +1 influence (now 9).  Regardless of
    your response, you are then able to convince Ammon to share the Gold
    Filagree Charm recipe.  This recipe is best used immediately to start
    bargaining with Mephasm and make progress towards the ability to make the
    final bargain with him.
      1. Make use of Ammon's recipe to craft a Gold Filigree Charm - used for
         summoning Mephasm in Crossroad Keep:
         Requires:      Caster Level 1 + Mephasm Quest + Craft Wondrous Item feat
         Ingredients: 1 each of Faint Power & Glowing Fire Essences + Star
              Sapphire + Gold Necklace
         Spell:      Darkness
      2. Craft three (3) infernal focii - used for bargaining with Mephasm in
         Crossroad Keep.  I used the following recipe, since it had the least
         impact on my resources for crafting other items later on:
         Requires:       Caster Level 1 + Mephasm Quest + Craft Wondrous Item feat
         Ingredients: Glowing Fire Essence + Sapphire + Mithral Ingot
         Spell:       Darkness

     H.    Summon Mephasm.  A Dialogue ensues between you, him and Ammon Jerro.  You
    can pick up hints about Ammon's past but none of the choices from this first
    conversation impact the game or influence with Ammon.  Mephasm and Ammon
    will caution you several times against bargaining and warn of potentially
    dire consequences, but the only result (aside from trading an infernal focus
    for an item or gold) is a +1 shift towards chaotic every time you do so.
    Trading results are as follows:
      1. Weapon: The Angry Soul: +3 Club with 1d6 lightning & DC14 save vs Fear
                  for 2 rounds/hit
      2. Armor:  Mask of Death: Death Armor (3), Finger of Death (13) and
             Vampiric Touch (5).  Each has spell/effect has one use/day.
      3. Something else: Boots of the Shifting Sands: Dex -1, Earthquake (20)
             1 use/day and Haste (10) 4 uses/day
      4. Gold:   5,000 gold:  This trade can be done as often as you have an
             infernal focus to bargain with.  Since I could easily earn gold
             on my own in more effective ways, I never used this trade.
    I traded for the first three items, as this is a prerequisite for starting
    the timer for the final bargain.
    As mentioned earlier in this guide, the final bargain entails trading an
    item of value the PC uses often for a Token.  The "infernal token of
    Mephasm" will boost a statistic of your choosing by 3 points simply by
    keeping it in your inventory (and not storage container, such as a bag of
    holding).  Like almost all other statistic enhancing items, its bonus will
    not stack with others.  
    Again, I wanted Mephasm's Infernal Token but, due to bugs in the game,
    getting this item is more specific/difficult than it lets on, and the
    bargain has caveats.  Specifically, at the Keep, Mephasm will offer to grant
    this token in exchange for the PCs "most prized possession" after:
      1. After bargaining for the 3 items he offers has been completed    AND
      2. The PC enters the Keep courtyard on the next three consecutive
         occasions with an item that qualifies as his/her "most prized
         possession."
    This item, the PC's "most prized possession", is determined as follows: Each
    time you enter the Crossroad Keep courtyard the game will:
      *  check your gloves if your main class is Monk
      *  check your armor if your main class is Sorcerer, Warlock, or Wizard
      *  check your main hand weapon for any other class, but if your
         weapon is the Silver Sword of Gith, fall back on armor
    However, there are severe bugs that prevent the game from checking the
    favorite item properly.  Specifically:
      1. Mephasm will take your favorite weapon instead of armor if you're an
         arcane spellcaster  AND
      2. If a weapon is selected by Mephasm then neither its type, value or
         power will matter: whether it's a plain un-enchanted dagger, a Holy
         Avenger or the Silver Sword of Gith (if that happens to be the
         qualifying weapon your PC has been wielding), that is what Mephasm will
         take from you; it simply has to be what the game mechanics sees as your
         PC's favorite weapon.
      3. You must have 8 or more levels in a class for it to be considered your
         main class.
      4. As stated above, the item selection is only applied/checked AFTER you
         have bargained three times with Mephasm.  Specifically, you must enter
         the courtyard (with the same qualifying item) at least three more times
         after you have already completed three bargains with him.
      5. The item must currently be equipped when you talk to Mephasm for the
         final bargain option to be available.
    Failing to meet all of the above criteria will result in Mephasm not making
    the offer for the Token.  Especially, take note of qualifiers three through
    five; if you don't meet all of them, the trade option for the final bargain
    - and the infernal token that results from it - may never appear.  Therefore
    I did my first three trades now, with the goal of getting the Token as early
    as possible - at Keep time 10%.
    You will receive 500xp for summoning Mephasm the first time, whether you
    bargain with him or not - this brought me to 75,505xp.

     I. Talk with Daeghun outside.  While speaking with him there will be three
    opportunities to increase your influence with Elanee by one (up to 18
    total).  They are as follows:
      1. When he mentions knowing Elanee is part of The Circle of the Mere,
         respond with, "I won't have you sending her on dangerous missions like
         you did with Bevil and I."
      2. When Elanee chimes in with her suggestion about finding them, affirm it
         by stating "They may be in danger. We should go to them immediately."
      3. When Daeghun departs, answer Elanee's observations of him as a father
         in a supportive way.  Depending on your answer, your alignment will
         shift by one towards good or lawful.  I chose to say "He has a duty and
         he takes it seriously - even when it came to me.  Such devotion is
         something to be respected."  This option moved me towards lawful by one
         (I was now 1/9).

     J. Re-assemble the Party of your choice (since it now consists of only the PC
    and Elanee) and pick up the stash just outside the Keep's walls.

     K. Come back to the courtyard -- Talk to StarTear, who now appears outside
    the Tower.  Doing this allows you the option of building the Wizard's Tower.
    Zhjaeve and Sand have different opinions of Startear.  As you might expect,
    the choice of building the Wizard's or Guard's Tower is mostly a matter of
    preference and playing style.  Fighter types will likely opt for the Guard's
    Tower with its handsome selection of weapons, armor and rare metal ingots,
    while spellcasters may opt for the Wizard's Tower and the resulting
    availability of another Wizard's Ally dagger to purchase.  Since my style of
    low-level gameplay was specifically designed to allow me the option of
    crafting my own high-quality arms and armor (or buy them elsewhere), I
    eventually opted for the Wizard's Tower - and the Wizard's Ally dagger in
    particular.
    The NWN2 wiki states building the Guard's Tower "Offers a chance for the PC
    to spar with Nevalle and gain +1 BAB boost" and if you do, an in-game
    message will state, "Sparring with Nevalle has given you a slight bonus to
    attack."  However, I found this assertion did not bear out in subsequent
    gameplay.  In particular: it did not result in a relevant feat being listed
    on my PC's data sheet, nor did it reflect in the combat log where one
    would've expeteced I'd hit an opponent where I otherwise would have just
    barely missed.

 02) Time 5% - Income 2,665.
     Speak with Master Veedle to Build Road (Cobble) 35,000.

 03) Time 7% - Income 2,962.
     A. Veedle  - Build Road (Renovate) 50,000.

     B. Kana
    1. Daerred's visit (1 of 3); ask what they can help with.  If you give them
       legitimate work, they will survive their assignments and (eventually)
       give you a gift.  If you lie, or send them to investigate the Guardian
       directly, they end up dead in the King of Shadows' lair.
    2. Torio - whether or not you send for Torio has no effect whatsoever on
       gameplay or Keep management.  Because I found the resulting conversations
       amusing, in line with the game's clear goal of storytelling and in
       general liked the idea of having the Keep filled with aides, I sent for
       her anyway.

 04) Time 10% - Income 3,460.  
     A. Veedle - Build Fortifications (Repair) at a cost of 25,000.

     B. Speak with Kana.  This triggers the Sheriff from Leeves event.  Send half
    the men (alignment shift by 1 to good, now 1/10).  Kana will express
    concern about your choice, but she can be safely ignored.

     C. Set Katriona to Special Assignment.

     D. Set Light of Heavens to Patrols.  This will offset sending half the
    Greycloaks to Leeves.

     E. Ask Kana about special missions.  This starts the one for Old Man Morris of
    which Katriona is now a part.

     F. Summon Mephasm for the final bargain.  Since I had been carrying a Darksteel
    Dagger for my last three trips into the Courtyard and was wielding it now,
    this was my "most prized possession" that Mephasm took in exchange for his
    token.  When Ammon advised against this bargain I responded with, "Thanks
    for your advice, but I need this power to defeat the King of Shadows" for +1
    influence and +1 chaotic (now 0/10).
    I chose to trade for a +3 strength boosting token because it is the only
    item in the original campaign that will passively boost the Construct's
    strength by three, just by having it in its inventory.  At CLVL this 12 this
    brought the Construct's strength to 34.
    It is worth noting now that my influence with Ammon was past 10 (now 11), he
    was willing to share secrets he'd withheld in prior conversations.

 05) Time 12% - Income 3,804
     A. Veedle - Build Fortifications (Reinforce) 50,000

     B. Kana - the Special Mission for Old Man Morris is total success.

     C. Now that Greycloaks training is "Best", set them to split patrol of
    Surroundings.  Specifically, move the Greycloaks from 'Training' to 'patrol
    the road and land.' Also, From the blogsopt guide:
           "Focusing on Patrol Surroundings ultimately causes a situation where
        income cannot sustain Greycloak recruitment even if you start taxing
        Peasants.  You can lose all income and your treasury won't grow, but
        that is probably an oversight on the coding where it doesn't draw
        keep funds to sustain the military."

     D. Further, from the blogsopt guide:
           "Kana dissuades you against split patrols, but in the long run you
        get income plus recruitment and is the best option.  Your Greycloak
        count is slowed initially, but you don't stall later on."

     E. The above events might reset the special merchant tithes; set them again
    before you leave.

 06) Time 15% - Income 4,148
     A. Veedle - Build Fortifications (Towers) 75,000

     B. Kana
    1. Daerred letter 1/3
    2. Leeves Mission - Best Success.  From the blogspot guide:
       a)"This is the only time we were able to achieve best success with this
          early Act III timeline. Triggering this event earlier appeared not to
          work. Triggering this event later seemed to cause it to conflict with
          the Neverwinter Evacuation and also make best success impossible.
       b) In any case, the two success results ('bandits slaughtered' and
          'bloody fight') yield the same bonuses because the morale bonus for
          the best result is not implemented."  
          My results were 'bandits slaughtered'.
    3. Neverwinter Evacuation - Send 20% (alignment shift by three towards good
       and lawful, now 3/13).
    4. Katriona to Patrol

     C. Before moving to 17% Keep time I wanted enough gold available to cover
    upcoming Keep improvements and expensive purchases.  This involved the
    following steps:
    1. Crafting monster components into essences.  I had been saving these since
       the start of the game and had collected the following:
       MONSTER ITEM           QTY    MONSTER ITEM           QTY
       Demon Blood        7    Blade Spider Legs    2
       Devil Blood        2    Skeleton Ribs        5
       Dragon Blood        2    Dire Bear Claws        2
       Troll Blood        2    Iron Golem Fragments    3
       Frost Giant Head    1    Dire Boar Tusks        3
       Ogre Mage Skull    1    Phase Spider Mandible    1
       Shadow Residue    1    Bat Tooth        3
       Wraith Residue    8    Dire Wolf Tooth        9
       Ghost Residue    2    Bugbear Tusks        5
       Wyvern Scales    1    Hellhound Tooth        3
       Ice Mphit Hides    3    Gargoyle Horn        2
       Fire Mephit Hides    6    Imp Stinger        4
       Ghast Claws        2    Stag Beetle Horn    2
       Ghoul Claws        1    Lich Dust        3
       Fairy Dust        6
       ------------------------------------------------------
       I also had the following essences:
       1 Radiant Air, 2 Glowing Earth, 3 Weak Air, 1 Weak Power, 1 Faint Earth
       and 1 Faint Fire
       After crafting, I had the following essences remaining:
       RADIANT    GLOWING        WEAK        FAINT
       3 Earth     06 Earth    04 Earth    10 Earth
       5 Air    04 Air        13 Air        03 Air
       0 Fire    05 Fire        08 Fire        14 Fire
       1 Water    06 Water    11 Water    09 Water
       5 Power    13 Power    13 Power    04 Power
    2. Craft 8 Deadly Gas Trap Kits.  Since Bill Ogan sold 7 more of these with
       the one I already had, I also purchased the other components to make the
       additional traps, worth at least 3,175 gold each (assumes appraise 18).
    3. Craft profitable Arms & Armor to use or sell - mostly to sell.  I
       already had enough items worth 20,000 gold each saved for resale to get
       over 500,000 gold, but wanted more as a safeguard, so I crafted the
       following items:
       QTY    DESCRIPTION           SALE PRICE (EACH)    USED BY
        3    Brooches of Shielding           8,825    Whomever needs them
        2    Cloaks of Resistance +4          15,000    Whomever needs them
       10    Mithral heavy shields (keep 3)     9,892    Ammon, Qara, Sand
       15    Adamantine heavy shields       7,225
       45    Adamantine warmaces           1,138
       10    Darksteel warmaces             432
       26    Darksteel rapiers             425        
       31    Duskwood longbows           4,269
       24    Shederran longbows           1,476    
        5    Shederran shortbows           1,411
        5    Zalantar light shields (keep 3)      15,000    Arcane spellcasters
        1    Salamander Hide studded leather       5,865
       It is worth pointing out Randolph sells unlimited quantities of garlic
       and belladonna - at prices similar to Sand's Merchant Elemental in
       ACT II - but the above items are worth more (and take less time to craft)
       than perfected choking powder.  So I started with these first, knowing I
       could move to perfected choking powder later if I needed.
        4. Buy and sell in the Merchant Quarter.  I sold out Bill Logan at 177,736
       after buying an Adamantine Greatsword (1,255) Longsword +4 (23,466) and
       Shortsword +3 (12,966).  Next was Deekin with his slightly updated supply
       of gear in the Merchant Quarter in ACT III.  I bought a Shortsword +4 for
       23,438 gold, and sold him out at 327,630.
    5. Buy and sell in Port Llast.  I bought Boots of the Sun Soul +3 from Nya
       for 6,897 gold.  I sold every item I wanted worth 10,000 gold or less to
       her.  Because I had bought several costly items from her earlier, she
       still had room to buy when I was finished selling at 551,790 gold.

     D. Visit the Ironfist stronghold to buy and sell from Revorax & collect the
    quest from Keros for the Belt of Ironfist from Mount Galardrym.
       ITEM                            COST
       Rift Hammer (+6, very rare in the OC)       - 109,978
       Greater Storm Armor of the Earth's Children - 107,462
       Black Flame Armor                   -  91,502
       Shield of the Void                   -  75,473
       Mithral Ingot x5                   -     585
       Adamantine Ingot x3                   -   1,155
       Full Plate Mold                   -     565
       Half Plate Mold                   -     219
       Longbow Mold                       -      50
       Heavy Crossbow Mold                   -      30
       Light Crossbow Mold                   -      19
       Warmace Mold                       -      15
       Shortbow Mold                   -      15
       Heavy Shield Mold                   -      11
       Rapier Mold                       -      11
       Shortsword Mold                   -       4
       -----------------------------------------------------
       Total Cost                       - 387,094
    By the time I had finished buying and selling with Revorax, I had 176,830
    gold remaining, although I still had not sold any of my gear worth 20,000 or
    more.
    Upon first entering the Ironfist Stronghold, call the great halls
    "impressive" for +1 influence with Khelgar (now 11).  Later, when speaking
    with Khulmar about recovering the belt of Ironfist, support Khelgar's desire
    to go after it immediately by saying, "We'll need all the allies we can get.
    Let's go." for +1 influence (12).

     E.    Buy and sell to Edario and Jacoby until they're out of gold.  With over 36
    items worth 20,000 each, this didn't take long.  Remember from earlier in
    this guide, both of these merchants buy items (from the PC only) at about 27
    and 23% more respectively than the dialogue box offer states, yet the PC can
    buy them back for the offered price.
    Because of this you can, if you so choose, buy anything you like from them
    essentially for free while still emptying their coffers and re-selling what
    you don't need to other merchants.  I didn't do this, as I consider it an
    unfair bug exploitation and had plenty of gold from selling un-needed items
    anyway.  By the time I had sold out Edario and Jacoby I had 791,323 gold and
    had purchased these items:
       ITEM                MERCHANT      COST    USED BY
       Lichskull            Edario        26,354    Ammon Jerro
       Chain Shirt +5        Edario        13,501    Bishop
       Iron Ingot            Edario             2
       Composite Longbow +3        Jacoby         8,676    Bishop
       Iron Ingot            Jacoby             3
       Favor of Ilum Lura        Haljal Throndor    14,288    Sand    
       Anagrys' ShackleBreaker    Haljal Throndor    73,908    Grobnar
       Nasher's Ring of Strength    Nya        10,171    Zhjaeve

     F.    Re-organize equipment after all the above buying and selling

 07) Time 17% - Income 4,578
     A. Veedle - Build Tower (for Startear, although either Tower option is
    supposed to improve Land Security) - 100,000

     B. Kana - You will have to go in and out of the basement several times for the         cutscene events.  During these tips to the basement I crafted another Umber
    Hulk Hide heavy shield, Brooch of Shielding and Medallion of Thought.
    1. Ziffer Village Charter - Sign charter, but only after successful use of
       appraise and diplomacy: appraise first to account for the Miller's Wheel
       and, after use of appraise again, diplomacy for the increased frequency
       of regular taxes "to protect the new land."
    2. Ziffer Volunteers - diplomacy to avoid reducing Elite quality.
    3. Daerred visit 2/3.  As always, if you lie to Daerred and his troop, they
       end up dead later on.

     C. If you're a spellcaster and built the Wizard's Tower, see Startear for
    scrolls and Wizard's Ally dagger.  Otherwise, go to the Neverwinter Nine
    Guard Tower for Arms, Armor and exotic metal ingots.
    As I had built the tower, I went there.   Note there is a bug in the game
    where the appraise level of the PC here appears to be somewhat randomly
    determined when you first enter the courtyard just prior to entering the
    Tower.  Therefore, to get the lowest prices for your level, be sure to raise
    your appraise to the highest possible level just before you leave the castle
    and re-enter the courtyard.  You may have to try this several times to get
    the lowest possible prices.  Several items were worth buying in the tower.
    Here was my list:
       ITEM                      COST    USED BY
       The Wizard's Ally            97,119    Ammon Jerro
       Ring of Wizardry (5)            14,681    Sand, then Grobnar
       Greater Mantle of Spell Resistance    11,229    Grobnar (for now)
       Dragon Blood                   463
       Vampire Tooth               348
       Wyvern Hide x2               290
       Winter Wolf Pelt               231
       Umber Hulk Hide               174
       Wyvern Scales               145
       Bat Tooth x2                   114
       Bladeling Spike                57
       Imp Stinger                    57
       -------------------------------------------
       Total cost                   124,908

     D.    Equipment re-organization after buying the above items

     E.    Circle of the Mere
    Now fully outfitted, I went to the Circle with Elanee, Qara, Khelgar, and
    Casavir.  Bishop joined upon arrival.
    A long conversation begins where Vashne and rest of the corrupted circle
    criticize Elanee for watching the PC all this time instead of protecting the
    Mere.  A fight eventually ensues, but the PC is offered another two chances
    to build influence with her before it begins.
    First defend Elanee when Vashnee accuses her of being "...too distracted
    with the trappings of civilization or its people".  I responded with, "I am
    certain Elanee meant no harm to the Circle" (+1).  Later, when Elanee
    questions Vashne's perspective by asking him: "Do you truly believe what is
    coming is for the best?" I interrupted saying, "Listen to me. Vashne's right
    about one thing - the Mere's time has passed".  She answered with, "What do
    you mean?"  I replied "You're more in touch with the land than they are -
    you hear its pain, they're dead to it", along with: "They are the Circle,
    not the Mere. And you have seen what the King of Shadows can do with even
    the strongest of people." for another +1 influence (now 20).
    Even though Vashne was a level 18 druid, defeating him - and the rest of his
    corrupted companions - was easy.  They all dropped fixed gear and yielded
    experience as follows:
    * Mere druid          300
    * Mere druid female    409
    * Dire boar         13
    * Dire bear         37
    * Mere druid x2        482
    * Mere druid        111
    * Mere druid female    111    
    * Dire rat x5         20
    * Vashne         482
    * Dire wolf x2          8
    ---------------------------
      Total XP          1,973
    Vashne the rest of his corrupted druidic posse aren't very discriminating
    about how they throw their spells around so they may, somewhat ironically,
    kill some of their animal friends in the process, thereby lowering your
    experience a bit.
    You also earn another 1,000 xp for defeating the Circle and supporting
    Elanee.  This brought my total xp to 78,478xp and my party to level 13.
    Now that my PC was level 11 (ECL+2) and a level 2 Hellfire Warlock, I was
    ready to make up for lost time being at artificially low levels and
    experience.

************************************************************************************
Before continuing it's worth providing a primer on how experience is earned (or not)
in the game:
    
The NWN2 engine scales experience based on the challenge rating (CR) of the
opponent(s) faced and the average of the *actual* playing level of all characters in
the party, not the average of *Effective* Character Levels (ECL), for any given
encounter.  This is important because high ECL races will cause the party to earn
accelerated experience points during play, since they bring the party's Average
Character Level (ACL) down.

Put another way, the higher the party's ACL vs the CR of the opponent(s), the less
experience the party will receive.  Conversely, if your party has a very low ACL and
you go off fighting enemies at a lower level than the game designers aimed for, you
may find yourself quickly recovering lost ground as you gain significantly more
experience than normal for opponents you kill.  Quest based experience is an
exception  - awarded at a flat rate regardless of the party's ACL. Technically, it
is the experience total driving every party member's contribution to ACL, not the
actual ACL.  What this means is if, for example, you have enough experience to be
level 6, you'll gain experience based on your character(s) being treated as level 6
for the purposes of driving the party's ACL, even if you don't "level-up".

Experience is awarded in any encounter regardless of the state of the PC (i.e. dead
or alive) unless the PC is too far away from the action or an NPC lands the killing
blow. When I say "NPC" I mean characters/monsters that are not in your party roster
or haven't actually joined your party yet.  Almost always, this means if the PC
would be far enough away to rest before an opponent is killed, no experience will be
gained.

Companions (including their familiars and animal companions), NPCs and summons
usually do not affect earned XP, but temporary NPCs that appear in the party roster
(such as Commander Tann in the crypts during the Fort Locke quest and Onan in the
Tomb of the Betrayers) do - usually by lowering the party's ACL in any given
encounter.  When you earn experience it is awarded instantaneously to you and
companions in your party.  Companions who have joined the party but are not in your
roster have experience your PC earns placed in a queue, which is added to their
total once reinstated to your active party roster.  Newly added companions have
their starting experience (and appropriate level) commence based on your PC's XP
total at the time they are recruited.
    
For the most part, the original campaign in NWN2 has a limited number of fixed
events, quests and enemies by which experience can be awarded, gold can be obtained,
and items earned/acquired.  Therefore, once you're at a point in the game where you
do want to earn experience, it can be more difficult to get to character level 20 if
you're playing a race with a significantly higher ECL and/or have multi-classed in
such a way that your PC has an experience penalty.  However, there are bugs (or
loopholes if you prefer to call them that) that still exist in the v1.23 of the game
which allow for unlimited shifts in alignment (both on the law/chaos and good/evil
spectrum) and gains in experience and/or gold - should you choose to make use of
them.  I will point them out as I go but chose not to use them, as doing so would
brake my stated parameters of play.  I did observe three methods to generate
unlimited numbers of foes by which one can (eventually) advance all the way to level
20 with methods I consider fair/legitimate:  

The first method only works for Hellfire Warlocks and involves exploiting their
ability to Summon Baatezu. From the NWN2 article to which I contributed:
    
       "Once per day, the Hellfire Warlock can randomly summon a Baatezu from the
    Nine Hells to fight for the party. Control of the Baatezu lasts for a
    number of rounds equal to 1 round per hellfire warlock level + 1d8 + their
    Charisma bonus.  When the ability expires, the     caster loses dominance over
    the Baatezu - which can be problematic     for the caster, as devils typically
    despise being bothered by lesser beings. The summoner is advised not to
    leave this up to chance, and dispel this summons before this time is up,
    sending the Baatezu back to the Nine Hells - though the devil might not
    attack, dispelling it is the only way to be sure of avoiding a violent
    confrontation with the creature.

    Generally, only certain Baatezu summoned in this way will turn on the party,
    and only then in specific settings. Mephasm is an example of a sympathetic
    devil who never turns on the party, while Hezebel, Nrungnorog, and Korarobos
    will always do so, if they are in certain areas.  The PC controlled path to
    Crossroad Keep and Port Llast are consistent defection zones, while the
    Ruins of Arvahn and the Sunken Flagon never result in apostate summons.

    If the devil turns on the party, NPCs will react accordingly (e.g. 'active'
    town guards will attack it) and if defeated, (s)he will give XP upon its
    death. Repeatedly dispatching Baatezu in this manner allows a path for
    players to grind their way up to their maximum level, albeit very slowly,
    especially at higher character levels. Turncoat devils yield experience
    based on their challenge rating, with Koraboros providing the most
    experience."

Provided you're playing a Hellfire Warlock of at least second level to Summon
Baatezu in the first place, this option can be undertaken at any point in any
module, not just the Original Campaign.

The second method works for any class, but only under tight parameters in the Tomb
of The Betrayers quest assigned by Judge Oleff.  This quest can be undertaken at any
point in the game through ACT I or ACT II as long as the PC has access to the
Merchant Quarter in the City of Neverwinter.  There is a room on the northeast side
of the map in the Tomb.  In the area just before the gate, there are visible (and
invisible) pressure plates.  If you activate the invisible plates while the east
gate to the hallway beyond is closed, a wave of two Tomb Guardians will appear
(presumably to defend the tomb).  The invisible plates are to the left and right of
the (closed) gate.  If you walk straight up to the gate, no guardians will appear.
If you choose to trigger the invisible plates, Tomb Guardians will continue to
appear, one wave after the next, until you open and pass beyond the (east) gate
which leads to the treasure chest at the end of the hall; note that the gate will
only open and remain so while someone is standing on one of three the visible
pressure plates.  It is also possible (though not guaranteed) the Tomb Guardians
will stop appearing if you leave the Tomb of the Betrayers and then return before
rescuing Onan, though I haven't been able to pinpoint exactly when or why.  To
guarantee an endless supply, it's best to simply stay in the room and not step on
the visible pressure plates (after having stepped on them the first time as you
entered the room) again until you are done earning experience there.

The third method is one most who have completed the original campaign already know
about: attempting to rest in the Vale of Merdelain, which usually results in a
somewhat randomly generated assortment of undead foes accosting the party.  Since
this third method is near the end of the game, it's of limited value - unless you
want to level the party prior to the final battle with Garius and his minions.

All of these methods yield substantially less experience as you level up, and since
the experience gained requires real work (and is awarded in a manner consistent with
the normal leveling process) I consider them a legitimate path to obtain it.
************************************************************************************

     F.    Using my PC's Summon Baatezu ability, I chose to summon the Baatezu at the
    outer grounds of Crossroad keep for safety and accessibility reasons and
    took care to do so away from Calindra, Pentin, Orlen, the outer wall
    Greycloak guards or Wolf's assistant, since they can be killed by a turned
    summons.  With the exception of the guards, their deaths could impair the
    ability to navigate and/or improve Crossroads Keep.
    You can randomly summon one of six devils with the Summon Baatezu feat.
    However, since Neeshka (who rarely appears) and Mephasm (who, by contrast,
    is merely uncommon in frequency) never turn on the Party (and therefore
    grant no xp after being killed), I didn't include them in the below list:
    Level     Name        Difficulty    Frequency    XP earned
    13    Hezebel       (H)    Easy        common        294
    13    Nrungrong  (N)    Medium        common        294
    14    Hezebel       (H)    Easy        common        255
    14    Nrungrong  (N)    Medium        common        255
    13,14    Koraboros  (K)    Hard        rare        482
    13,14    Avernus FC (A)    Hard        very rare    482
    15    H & N / K & A                    195/482
    16    H & N / K & A                    117/420
    17    H & N / K & A                     90/420
    18    H & N / K & A                     63/403
    19    H & N / K & A                     65/351
    20    H & N / K & A                     46/247
    21    H & N / K & A                     41/223
      While Mephasm and Neeshka never turn on the party - Hezebel, Nrungrong,
    Koraboros and Avernus Fried Chicken will (in most settings) - after control
    of them expires.  The length of dominance of these four recalcitrant devils
    is: 1 round/hellfire-warlock level + 1d8 rounds + 1 round for each Charisma
    bonus integer of the caster (e.g a charisma of 18 = 4 extra rounds of
    control).
    Mephasm is a level 6 outsider and level 8 cleric.
    Neeshka is a level 8 outsider and level 12 rogue.  Neeshka appears less
    often than Koraboros (who is rare to begin with) but more often than
    Avernus, who has roughly 1 in 100 chance of showing up.
    Nrungrong is a level 14 outsider with damage reduction, spell resistance
    (25) and regeneration.
    Koraboros, a level 18 outsider, is the most powerful normal summons with an
    AC of 42, damage reduction, spell resistance (32) and ability to create
    undead as per the Blackguard ability.  He has a 1 in 10 chance of appearing.
    Avernus Fried Chicken is an Easter Egg and a bit of a joke, but he's the
    best of the bunch, with stats very close to (though slightly better than
    that of) Koraboros; the only significant difference is his AC of 45.
    I chose to stop leveling my party at 16 (for a while) because this was the
    minimum level required to use the Craft Magic Arms & Armor and Craft
    Wondrous Items feats to fashion the rest of the high powered gear I had been
    saving reagents and patiently waiting for.
    That wait was now almost over.

 08) Time 20% - Income 5,867
     A.    Veedle - Build Roads (Bridges and Towers) 100,000

     B. Kana
    1. Greycloak and Volunteer count suddenly jumped, even after not having done
       any recruiting.  Probably because of Ziffer and the village charter.
    2. Katriona to Special Missions.
    3. Special Mission: Doman the Ogre - Start

     C.    In anticipation of the coming battle with Tholapsyx, craft some of the key
    high powered arms, armor and magic items I had been saving for.  Unless
    otherwise stated, all of items listed later below require the Craft Magic
    Arms & Armor feat (for weapons, armor & shields), or the Craft Wondrous
    Items feat for everything else.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    With crafting/enchanting, keep in mind the following facts:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    1. The caster/crafter must possess every feat and spell needed to
       create/enhance/craft the item.  Contrary to in-game descriptions, merely
       having a companion with the needed feats/skills in close vicinity while
       you perform the missing actions will not work.
    2. Weapons and Armor can be enchanted with multiple effects that will act in
       parallel fashion.  For Example: You can use an 'Adamantine Longsword +5'
       in the +5 Vampiric recipe and will end up with an 'Vampiric Adamantine
       Longsword +5'.
    3. On the other hand, multiple enhancement bonuses on the same object (in
       the case of armor and weapons), creature (in the case of natural armor),
       or ability score do not stack - only the highest enhancement bonus
       applies. This can be problematic in the case of weapons with an "attack
       bonus", because if you enchant them with an "enhancement bonus" it will
       count as a separate item property and the bonuses still will not stack.
       Consider, then, the attack bonus of a Composite Longbow +3, which would
       read in-game as follows:
        Composite Longbow +3
          Attack bonus +3    
          Mighty +5
       If this weapon is enchanted with an enhancement bonus of +5 it will,
       after enchantment, display as:
        Composite Longbow +3
          Attack bonus +3
          Enhancement bonus +5
          Mighty +5
       The higher enhancement bonus will not stack with the attack bonus for the
       purposes of its "to-hit" quality, and will instead overlap. Therefore,
       after the +5 enhancement bonus is applied, the +3 attack bonus is
       effectively wasted as an enchantment slot. Further, if the PC using this
       composite longbow has a strength higher than 20, the character's info tab
       will show their current strength damage bonus, but only +5 of the
       strength damage bonus will be applied in combat.  Another, simpler
       example: if you use a 'Longsword +2' in the basic +3 recipe, you will end
       up with a 'Longsword +3', not a 'Longsword +5'.
    4. All Weapons and Armor have a maximum of 3 Magical Properties (including
       Base Bonus) although epic characters may craft items with 4 properties.
       This includes ranged weapons such as Arrows/Darts/Bolts/etc, as well as
       Shields and Clothes.  Be careful when enchanting items crafted from
       special materials, as some of them have inherent abilities that will take
       up an enchantment slot. Examples: Adamantine's +2 Magic Damage or a
       Mithral Weapons' Weight Reduction.
    5. Weight reductions and reduced Arcane Spell Failure on *armor* do not
       count as enchantment properties, but they do on Shields.  Therefore,
       Mithral Armor special properties do not take up slots, making it perfect
       for enchanting.
    6. Filling all the enchantment slots will prevent you from upgrading any
       earlier existing enchantments, so you should upgrade existing
       enchantments before adding new ones.  As an example, the spear "Vengeance
       of Asenath" cannot be upgraded, even by epic characters, (level 21+)
       because it already has 4 magic properties:
       a) Enhancement Bonus [+ 2]
       b) Keen
       c) On Hit: Mordenkainen's Disjunction [DC=20] [Type: Piercing]
       d) Use Limitation: Class: Sorcerer
    7. Depending on the class your PC is playing, the level of your party - and
       those you typically keep in it - Greater Magic Weapon, Keen Edge and
       Magic Vestment may be able to effectively substitute for using valuable
       enchantment slots for "+5" (or other) weapon/armor enchantments.
    8. You can use text formatting tags when naming your items:
       Text in here is bold.
       Text in here is italicized.
       <c=red>Text in here is red</c>
       You can look up the color constants in Colors.2da (?) or you can enter
       colors as hexadecimal values:
       http://www.december.com/html/spec/color.html
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    SHADOW LINKS            Used by my PC, this armor requires 2 mithral
    ------------            ingots, a chain shirt mold and a rank of 14 or
                    higher in Craft Armor to make the base item.  It
                    was enchanted with the following 3 properties:
    1. Fortified Armor        Immunity to Critical Hits/Sneak Attack
                    Requires:      Caster Level 13
                    Ingredients: Glowing Power Essence + Radiant
                         Earth Essence + Blue Diamond
                    Spell:      Banishment (Zhjaeve)
    2. Silent Armor (greater)   +15 competence bonus on Move Silently checks
                    Requires:     Caster Level 15
                    Ingredients: Glowing Water Essence+ Blue Diamond
                    Spell:     Silence (Zhjaeve)
    3. Shadowy Armor (greater)  +15 competence bonus on Hide checks
                    Requires:     Caster Level 15
                    Ingredients: Glowing Water Essence+ Blue Diamond
                    Spell:     Invisibility (Sand)    
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    PENUMBRAL DISC             Used by my PC, a standard light shield enchanted
    --------------            with the following three properties:
    1. Armor Enhancement +5        Armor gains a +5 Enhancement bonus (shield)
                    Requires:     Caster Level 15
                    Ingredients: Glowing Power & Earth Essences +
                         Blue Diamond
                    Spell:     Light (Zhjaeve)
    2. Silent Armor (greater)   +15 competence bonus on Move Silently checks
                    Requires:     Caster Level 15
                    Ingredients: Glowing Water Essence+ Blue Diamond
                    Spell:     Silence (Zhjaeve)
    3. Shadowy Armor (greater)  +15 competence bonus on Hide checks
                    Requires:     Caster Level 15
                    Ingredients: Glowing Water Essence+ Blue Diamond
                    Spell:     Invisibility (Sand)    
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    DEFENDER'S BLADE        Used by my PC (or any spellcaster that may need
    ----------------        it) this weapon requires one adamantine ingot, a
                    dagger mold and a rank of 17 or higher in craft
                    weapon.  It has the following two properties:
    1. Weapon Enhancement +5    Weapon gains a +5 Enhancement Bonus
                    Requires:     Caster Level 15
                    Ingredients: Glowing Power & Air Essences +
                         Blue Diamond
                    Spell:      Light
    2. Defending (Greater)        Adds +3 Deflection AC Bonus
                    Requires:     Caster Level 5
                    Ingredients: Radiant Earth Essence + Blue
                         Diamond
                    Spell:      Mage Armor or Shield of Faith
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    SEVERANCE PAY            Used by Khelgar or Casavir, this item uses the
    -------------            Falchion Headsman's Vorpal quality (DC20) as its
                    base property and is renamed in the process of
                    adding the following two enchantments:
    1. Weapon Enhancement +5    Weapon gains a +5 Enhancement Bonus
                    Requires:     Caster Level 15
                    Ingredients: Glowing Power & Air Essences +
                         Blue Diamond
                    Spell:      Light
    2. Holy Weapon            +2d6 Damage against Evil creatures
                    Requires:      Caster Level 7
                    Ingredients: Faint Power & Water Essences +
                             Diamond
                    Spell:     Cure Critical Wounds
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    AASTERINIAN'S TOOTH (x2)    Used by Neeshka these items each require one
    ------------------------    adamantine ingot, a shortsword mold and a rank
                    of 20 or higher in craft weapon to make the base
                    weapons. They have the following two properties:
    1. Acid Weapon             +1d6 Acid Damage
                    Requires:     Caster Level 10
                    Ingredients: Weak Earth Essence + Emerald
                    Spell:     Melf's Acid Arrow
    2. Holy Weapon            +2d6 Damage against Evil creatures
                    Requires:     Caster Level 7
                    Ingredients: Faint Power & Water Essences +
                             Diamond
                    Spell:     Cure Critical Wounds
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    FRECRAID            Used by Khelgar or Casavir, this item requires
    --------            two adamantine ingots, a Falchion mold and a
                    rank of 23 or higher in craft weapon to make the
                    base weapon.  It has the has the following two
                    enchantments:
    1. Axiomatic Weapon        +2d6 Damage against Chaotic creatures
                    Requires:     Caster Level 7
                    Ingredients: Faint Power & Earth Essences +
                         Jacinth
                    Spell:     Inflict Critical Wounds
    2. Holy Weapon            +2d6 Damage against Evil creatures
                    Requires:     Caster Level 7
                    Ingredients: Faint Power & Water Essences +
                             Diamond
                    Spell:     Cure Critical Wounds
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    BRACERS OF ARMOR +8 (x2)    Used by Ammon Jerro and my PC, these bracers
    ------------------------    provide a +8 Armor bonus to AC
                    Requires:     Caster Level 16
                    Ingredients: 2 Iron Ingots + Radiant Earth
                         Essence + King's Tear
                    Spell:      Mage Armor
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    AMULET OF NATURAL ARMOR +5  Used by Ammon Jerro, it provides a +5 Natural
    --------------------------  Armor bonus to AC
                    Requires:     Caster Level 15
                    Ingredients: Weak Power & Radiant Earth Essences
                         + Beljuril + Iron Ingot
                    Spell:      Barkskin
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

     D. Level the rest of my party to 16 and redistribute equipment based on the
    above newly crafted items in preparation to fight Tholapsyx.
     

 09) Time 22% - Income 5,671
     A. Veedle - Build Temple of Tyr (50,000)
    You may choose to build the Monastary instead (if you have a Monk) for the
    Fists of Balance Rolan will offer should your PC successfully complete the
    Sun Soul Trial.  The Sun Soul Trial will only be offered under the following
    circumstances:
    1. The Monstary must be built (instead of the Church of Tyr)
    2. Your PC must be a level 10 Monk or greater
    3. There must be six or more students in the monestary, not including the
       shopkeeper or Rolan.  If there are not at least six students present, the
       passage of time will bring more.
    Completing the Sun Soul Trial requires your monk PC defeat the elemental
    Lords of Earth, Air, Fire and Water.  After defeating each element your PC
    must refuse their rewards and then, when Rolan asks you why, reply with "My
    answer is my own."  The Fists of Balance he ultimately gives you are very
    good for Monk Gloves.  However, the Great Wyrm Gauntlets Fibba sells much
    earlier in ACT II may be preferable.  Consider their respective properties:
       FISTS OF BALANCE             GREAT WYRM GAUNTLETS
       Attack Bonus [+ 5]                  Attack Bonus [+6]
       Damage Bonus: Cold [1d6]         Damage Bonus: Fire [2d6]
       Damage Bonus: Fire [1d6]         Decreased Ability Score: Dexterity [-4]
       Damage Resistance: Cold [15/-]        
       Damage Resistance: Fire [15/-]
       Cast Spell: Flame Arrow (12) [1 Use/Day]
       Cast Spell: Ice Storm (9) [1 Use/Day]        
       Use Limitation: Class: Monk
    If you are playing a Monk and also choose to have Khelgar become one, it may
    be advantageous to Build the Monastary for the Fists of Balance.  However, I
    prefer the Great Wyrm Gauntlets because:
       1) A +6 bonus is better than +5, especially since Gauntlets cannot be
          further enchanted by recipes using the Craft Magic Arms & Armor feat.
       2) The dexterity penalty is easily avoided by spell or magic item
       3) The resistances and spells offered by the Fists are relatively minor,
          particularly when one remembers the Great Wyrm Gauntlets are available
          as soon as you begin ACT II, while the Fists of Balance are only
          available much later in ACT III.

     B. Speak with Kana for the Merchant Costers event.  From the NWN2Wiki:
      "Note that the Merchant Caravan triggers if there are 50 or more
       merchants at the keep. The PC gets to choose one of the 3 Merchant
       Caravans to set shop at the keep, or none of them.  If the PC's Appraise
       skill is high enough to know about each Caravan, you may choose that
       dialogue option but be subject to major alignment shifts (+10 for Circle
       of Friends or Fated Winds). If that dialogue option is not available or
       you choose not to use it, you are more or less choosing blindly, so the
       shifts are minor (+1)."
       1. Circle of Friends: Civility +1; +1 Lawful or +10 Lawful with appraise
       2. Forgotten Lords:   Civility +1, Tithe +10%; +1 Chaotic with or without
                       appraise
           3. Fated Winds:      Civility -2, Tithe +25%; +1 Chaotic or +10 Chaotic
                 and +10 Evil with appraise
       4. None (merchant number cap lowered from 100 to 50).
    Because I wanted High Greycloak civility as soon as possible yet still
    wanted some increased profit, I chose the Forgotten Lords (alignment now
    2/13).  If you are playing an Evil aligned PC, and want the Dreadlord of the
    Keep feat, Fated Winds are probably the better choice.  The Merchant event
    might reset tithes; set them again before you leave.

 10) Time 25% - Income 6,915
     A. Veedle - Build Merchant's Shop (10,000)

     B. Kana
    1. Captain's Company - Protect the land and its people (+1 shift to good,
       now 2/14).  Forming the Captains company gives the +20% Greycloak Morale
       necessary for the Warden of the Keep epithet as well as the Charm of Joy
       when the PC next visits the Church of Tyr.  Earning this Charm has the
       following qualifiers (which are the same as obtaining the
       Warden of the Keep epithet, finally fulfilled by formation of the
       Captain's Company above):
       a) In addition to Joy, also recruit her sister - Light of Heavens
       b) Build the Church of Tyr
       c) Greycloak Civility and Morale at Crossroad Keep must be "High".  This
          requires the PC to turn Uncus away at Crossroad Keep, which in turn
          has the prerequisite of siding with the City Watch in ACT I.
       d) Along with Uncus, Caelryna also must not be in the keep (she can
          always be invited after the Charm is obtained).
          As long as you are good aligned (or have high enough rank in the Use
          Magic Device skill), just keeping the Charm of Joy in your inventory
          will increase your Charisma by 3 and provide a +3 AC (dodge based)
          bonus vs. Evil opponents.
    2. Daerred letter 2/3.
    3. Special Mission: Doman the Ogre - Total Success.  Receive the Club +1
       "Will of the Lost" as a reward (useless except for its resale value).
    4. Katriona to Patrols.
    5. Greycloaks to split Land/Road Patrol.  Note that you MUST do either Road
       Patrol or Land/Road Patrol if you want to get the maximum amount of gold
       from the dragon's horde later.
    6. Daerred visit 3/3. He appears now, at the same time as the second letter,
       because he is scripted to appear at the start of Act III, but obviously
       cannot do so before the earlier two appearances.

     C. Ivarr
    1. Warden of the Keep epithet and gifts from Light of Heavens & Joy
    2. Path of the Holy quest (if Good Cleric or Paladin)
    3. Redemption Quest (if Evil aligned and seeking to become Good, as I did)
    4. Now that you have the epithet, you can recruit Jalboun and Caelryna and
       still retain that epithet
    5. I bought sveral items from the shop keeper.  By the time I was done I
       only had 699 gold remaining, but this didn't matter since almost all my
       expenses were done with and I still had plenty left to sell and craft, if
       needed.  As stated earlier above, there is a bug in the game where the
       appraise level of the PC for trading here is appears to be somewhat
       randomly determined when you first enter the courtyard immediately prior
       to speaking with the merchant.  Be prepared for the possibility of
       reloading several times if you want to get the best pricing.  Also, the
       Shop Keeper here is another merchant who, if your appraise is high
       enough, will buy items for a higher price than she sells them for.  It
       It probably won't mean much at this late point in the game, but she is
       another merchant who has this bug and offers another opprtunity to buy
       whatever you need without having to spend anything in the end.  The items
       I bought were:
       a) Shield of Prator         216,027
       b) Greater Amulet of Health      16,686
       c) Periapt of Wisdom +5      16,372
       d) Girdle of Holy Might      14,884
       e) Scarab of Protection +4      14,117

     D. Neverwinter Merchant Quarter - Recruit Deekin.  After recruitment, I
    bought the below items from him in his new shop:
    1. Cloak of Fortification +3          18,733
    2. Boots of Hardiness +3          16,105
    3. Ring of Resistance +3           8,910
    4. Greater Magic Bag               4,193
    5. Greater Cloak of Protection vs Evil       2,641
    Again, be sure to raise your appraise to the highest possible point just
    before you re-enter the courtyard to speak with Deekin (not just before you
    enter his shop) and be prepared for several reloads if you want the best
    prices.
    At Crossroad Keep, Deekin is another merchant who may buy items from the
    PC's companions at higher prices than he would re-sell to the PC, allowing
    for easy profits.  For example, at appraise 18, Deekin may buy Bracers of
    Armor +3 from Khelgar for 4,974 gold, but will sell them to the PC for as
    low as 3,700 gold.  As usual, I did not take advantage of this.

     E.    Crossroad Keep Inn - See Sal and get a Ring of the Ram.

     F. Because I wanted to change my PC's alignment to good. I spoke to Ivarr
    at the church to open the Path of Redemption quest before proceeding to
    Mount Galardrym.

     G. Mount Galardrym and Tholapsyx.
    Immediately prior to leaving for this quest you can take advantage of a bug
    in the game.  It works like this:
       Once you recover the Belt of Ironfist you are able to proceed to the
       Ironfist stronghold and have Khelgar use it, along with the Gauntlets, to
       lift the Hammer of Ironfist from its mantle and claim his rightful place
       as King of the Dwarves - in a manner not entirely unlike King Arthur.
       When Khelgar attempts to lift the Hammer of Ironfist, the game will check
       to see if he is currently wearing the Belt and Gauntlets.  If he is not,
       it will automatically remove them from the equipment and/or inventory of
       whomever has them (whether they are in the active party roster or not)
       and have Khelgar equip them instead.  This is because the game is
       scripted as such so that only Khelgar can use the Hammer of Ironfist
       (under any circumstances) and only then if he is also wearing the Belt
       and Gauntlets of the same name.  This is true even if the PC or one of
       his/her companions has a rank of 23 or more in use magic device.
    Therefore, if you leave the Gauntlets of Ironfist on the ground by the lamp
    post by the path to Crossroad Keep, they will not be equipped or in the
    inventory of the PC (or any companions) and the game will equip Khelgar
    with a second copy of them when he uses the Belt to lift the Hammer.  Since
    the Gauntlets are useful to enhance Bishop's damage potential with his
    longbow of choice, I "forgot" to bring the Gauntlets along and left them by
    the lamp post before I left for Mount Galardrym.
    I brought Khelgar, Neeshka, Zhjaeve and the Construct for this expedition.
    When first arriving at the area say, "We'll make the fire giants sorry they
    stayed" for +1 influence with Khelgar (now a 13).
    Along the way to Tholapsyx, you'll meet a dozen or so fire giants and hell
    hounds that, at CLVL 18, can be dispatched with great ease.  There's minor
    loot and some lesser, fixed magic items to be found along the way.  XP was
    given as follows:
    ----------------------------    ---------
    Foe            QTY    XP
    ----------------------------    ---------
    Hell Hounds         (17)    04xp each
    Lesser Fire Giants     (27)    27xp each
    Greater Fire Giants     (02)    55xp each
    Prior to meeting Tholapsyx you can push over some rocks to kill a few giants
    in the canyon below for 50 XP, but then you miss out on a little more from
    killing the three fire giants you'd otherwise get later on.  Of course, you
    can come back later to do this, but I didn't bother.    
    Tholapsyx is one of the most challenging foes in the game, mainly because of
    her capacity to exploit the normal weaknesses found in almost any party.
    Once those weaknesses are properly addressed it's easy to take her down - I
    did it in just 3 rounds.  I got ready using the following seven methods:
      -----------------------------        --------------------------
      ADVANTAGE/PREPARATION APPLIED        REASON USED WITH THOLAPSYX
      -----------------------------        --------------------------
    1 Zhjaeve cast energy immunity        Breath weapon. Enough said.
      (fire) on the entire party.
    2 The party was rendered immune to    Aura of fear and her many mind-
      mind-affecting spells (by items    affecting spells.  Plus, if she can
      only, since others can be dispelled)    be immune to them, so can we.
    3 Khelgar used the Sturdy Feet of Pim    Although red dragons are not listed
      and Neeshka the Thieves' Hood to    as having this ability, she does -
      confer immunity to Knockdown.        and uses it frequently.
    4 Khelgar and Neeshka used adamantine    Her damage resistance is 15 and she
      weapons (with extra damage vs evil)    has plenty of healing spells, so
      and belts of storm giant strength.    hitting hard & often is both ideal           Khelgar's falchion Frecraid also     and required.  Also, even though red
      does extra 2d6 damage vs. chaotic     dragons are not listed as having the       creatures.                ability, she regenerates and can
                        cast greater stoneskin.
     5 Combat buff spells, both offensive    Same as above - hit hard and often.    
      and defensive in nature, were cast:    Having a higher AC (like she does)
      Greater Magic Weapon, Greater        doesn't hurt either.
      Resistance, Bless, Mass Aid, Prayer,
      Recitation, Bull's Strength,
      Regeneration, Haste and Shield.
    6 Zhjaeve memorized three Earthquake    With a spell resistance of at least
      spells.                20, Earthquake is one of very few
                        spells that bypasses it.
    7 Everyone in the party had 10 potions    She can easily deal over 100 HP of
      of heal in their taskbar.        damage in a single round. Therefore,
                        once any party member fell below
                        100 HP, it was time for a drink.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    You receive 600xp for defeating Tholapsyx, and 1,000xp more if you selected
    the redemption quest before doing so.  Also, it's safer to fight her and the
    fire giants separately.  This is because neither side can be trusted to hold
    up their end of the bargain - they will turn on you the moment you defeat
    your mutual foe, and you'll have no chance to rest beforehand.
    Keep in mind you will only earn the Dragonslayer epithet if your PC lands
    the killing blow.
    There's a great deal of treasure to be had once Tholapsyx has been dealt
    with, the most valuable of which are the (up to 3) top notch gems that can
    be generated from the chests there, many of which were trapped and/or
    locked; Neeshka took care of them with a few reloads.  In addition,
    Tholapsyx has a chest that always yields a blue diamond, king's tear, star
    sapphire, 2 rogue stones, 2 diamonds and 2 rubys, along with a small set of
    other random, lesser items.  There are other fixed items as well, but none
    approached the power or usefulness of anything I had purchased or crafted by
    now.
    When you meet the Fire Giant King you'll be given another two chances to
    increase your influence with Khelgar by one.  First, when the king prattles
    on about dwarves "falling down the mountains like pebbles" I responded with,
    "Enough of this. Deal with me or fight me. Nothing in between." (now 14).
    Finally, when the King refused to honor his word and hand over the Belt
    even with the red dragon defeated, I affirmed Khelgar's threats saying, "I'm
    with you Khelgar. Let's see this through" (now 15).
    With my party fully buffed just like before Tholapsyx, taking out the King
    and his (remaining) subjects was almost effortless.  In particular, the king
    has very poor will saves for a level 20 opponent (a mere +11, meaning he
    fails these saves fully half the time) so I used Alrec's Dominate Monster
    ability once the battle started and had him fight alongside while my party
    slaughtered what was left of his clan in just 3 rounds.  Two of the King's
    henchmen were worth 86xp each, while the King (who would normally give 420xp
    at CLVL 18) yielded none, since he was dominated and dropped dead once all
    the others had been killed.
    Along with the Belt of Ironfist and other fixed loot, I was able to get one
    of the chests in their treasure hoard to yield a high value gem (I chose
    another blue diamond).  I now had 122,9255xp.  Also, now that I had obtained
    the Warden of the Keep epithet (and the gifts from Joy and Light of
    Heavens), it was safe to recruit Caelryna to the Keep (and I did).
    Once you leave the Fire Giant King's canyon with the Belt of Ironfist you
    will have another chance to increase your influence.  When Khelgar expresses
    doubts about the stories of Loudram and the Belt of Ironfist after hearing
    the Fire Giant King's unwelcome assertions about him, Khelgar begins to
    realize Loudram was not what he and the rest of his clan Clan thought he
    was.  I expressed my support by eventually saying, "Searching for glory may
    be a mistake, but you are not Loudram, Khelgar." (+1, now 16).
    
     H.    Ironfist stronghold / Recover the Hammer of Ironfist.
    Just before Khelgar retrieved the hammer I said "If anyone deserves to lift
    that hammer, Khelgar, it's you" for +1 influence (17).  You receive 1,000xp
    for earning the alliance of the Ironfist Clan (now 124,925 xp).

     I. Crossroad Keep farms.
    Since my PC has an ECL of +2, I used her Summon Baatezu ability to bring her
    to level 15 (a level 3 Blackguard) and the rest of the party to 17.

     J.    Ivarr / Fulfill path of redemption.
    Having finished this round of leveling, I directed my PC to Ivarr and
    accepted his offer of redemption.  Just for kicks, I had Mephasm with me
    when I did this.  It was amusing, in an ironic sort of way, to see my PC -
    who had just become a level 3 Blackguard - now become Chaotic Good (2/85)
    with Mephasm standing as witness while I received absolution.  Unlike
    Paladins, if a Blackguard changes alignment they do not lose any of their
    class abilities, only the ability to progress in that class.  And since I
    had finished advancing as a Blackguard, that no longer mattered.  My PC
    received 1,000xp "for being absolved of your sins by Ivarr" (137,001 total).

     K. Crossroad Keep farms.  
    With the above tasks behind me I took the gloves off, so to speak, as far as
    getting experience goes: in preparation for the battle the rest of the game    
    (and the upcoming battle with Sydney Natale in particular) I leveled my
    party to 20 with further use of my PC's Summon Baatezu ability.  Since my
    Yuan-ti pureblood PC had an ECL of +2, this took a few days.  Once my PC had
    reached level 20 (22 for the rest of the party), I moved on.

     L.    Sydney Natale / True Names meeting.  Recruit Jalboun.
    Loot from this event is fixed.  You can gain +1 influence with Qara before
    the battle by asking Sydney "Who is your companion?" and, when Jalboun
    introduces himself, say "Sydney, send your thug away before I let Qara use
    him for target practice" (now 17).  You can eventually recruit Jalboun by
    first offering to double his wages and then, if he survives the coming
    battle, offering to have him serve as a sergeant at the Keep.  Typically,
    Jalboun is useless because he does more harm than good on most assignments.
    However, he does increase the outcome of most special missions by +3, so
    it's worth recruiting him for this reason alone.  Also, you cannot get the
    Gift from the Greycloaks event without him.
    At CLVL 22, The Animus Elemental is worth 89xp.  The 4 Luskan assassins are
    worth 26xp each and Sydney is worth 141.  Note that like Lorne, the game is
    scripted as such that Sydney cannot be charmed, dominated or duplicated (via
    the Shadow Simulacrum spell) so she has to be beaten the old fashioned way.
    You get an additional 500 xp for learning the names of the Shadow Reavers.
    Once you return to Crossroad Keep, you can gain an additional +1 influence
    with Ammon Jerro.  When Zhjaeve says she alone has been entrusted with the
    true names of the Shadow Reavers respond by saying, "Enough.  We need to
    trust each other if we are to survive" (total influence now 12).  There is
    another vein of ore here which, even though not needed, is worth 50xp and
    will yield additional special ingots as a reward from Pentin or Calindra.
    I now had 232,018xp.
    

 11) Time 27% - Income 7,531
     A.    Sir Nevalle - talk about allainces and true names from Sydney Natale

     B.    Veedle - Build Keep (West Wing)

     C.    Kana:
    1. Shadow Reaver camp found.
    2. Report last location of interest (Mt. Glardrym) to Guyven and ask him
       about the Shadow Reaver camp.
    3. Summon Mephasm.  Talk to him about the Shadow Reaver camp.
    4. Gift from the Greycloaks event.
    5. Dragon's Horde recovered - 200,000 gold (maximum possible).
    6. Jalboun to Special Assignments.  Remember, Jalboun gives +3 to most
       special missions outcomes.
    7. Special Mission: Tax Collection
       a) Maximum tax (requires Good alignment and Charisma 15+)
       b) Diplomacy adjustment
       c) Appraise adjustment
       d) Assume Peasants to be truthful (results in +10 towards good).  You
          will get less gold this way but, if you've followed any part of this
          guide, you should have already:
          1. earned plenty of gold (or know how to get it)
          2. built most or all of the keep's exterior improvements (especially
             the more expensive ones)
          3. bought and/or crafted nearly all of the gear you need
          Also, assuming the peasants to be truthful gives no penalties and
          results in net peasant growth greater than not collecting any taxes.
       e) Send only Jalboun. Sending Light of Heavens along with him results
          in no extra gold, and slightly less population growth.

     D. I enchanted items as detailed below.  The first four require the Craft Magic
    Arms & Armor feat.  The last two require the Craft Wondrous Item feat:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    MITHRAL HVY SHIELD +5 (x2)  For Ammon Jerro and Qara, their existing mithral
    --------------------------  heavy shields were enchanted with a +5 Armor
                    (shield) bonus
    +5 Shield enchantment        Shield gains a +5 Shield bonus to Armor Class
                    Requires:     Caster Level 15
                    Ingredients: Glowing Power & Earth Essence +                             Blue Diamond
                    Spell:     Light (Zhjaeve)
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    UMBER HULK HIDE            For Zhjaeve.  Her existing Umber Hulk Hide Heavy
    HEAVY SHIELD +5            Shield was further enchanted as above
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ARC OF WINTER            A standard longbow (used by Bishop) enchanted
    -------------            with the following properties:
    1. Weapon Enhancement +5    Weapon gains a +5 Enhancement Bonus
                    Requires:     Caster Level 15
                    Ingredients: Glowing Power & Air Essences +
                         Blue Diamond
                    Spell:      Light
    2. Holy Weapon            +2d6 Damage against Evil creatures
                    Requires:      Caster Level 7
                    Ingredients: Faint Power & Water Essences +
                             Diamond
                    Spell:     Cure Critical Wounds
    3. Frost Weapon             +1d6 Cold Damage
                    Requires:     Caster Level 10
                    Ingredients: Weak Water Essence + Star Sapphire
                    Spell:     Ice Storm   
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
       KIARANSALEE'S        The +5 Shortsword (Gift from the Greycloaks) is
    UNEXPTECTED BLESSING        further enchanted with the following two
    --------------------        additional properties:
    1. Holy Weapon            +2d6 Damage against Evil creatures
                    Requires:     Caster Level 7
                    Ingredients: Faint Power & Water Essences +
                             Diamond
                    Spell:     Cure Critical Wounds
    2. Weapon of Life Stealing  Vampiric Regeneration 5
       (Greater)            Requires:     Caster Level 15
                    Ingredients: Radiant Power & Fire Essence +
                         Beljuril
                    Spell:     Enervation
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    THE HELPING HAND        Used by Qara, this weapon requires one
    ----------------        adamantine ingot, a dagger mold and a rank of 17
                    or higher in craft weapon.  It has the following
                    two properties:
    1. Weapon Enhancement +5    Weapon gains a +5 Enhancement Bonus
                    Requires:     Caster Level 15
                    Ingredients: Glowing Power & Air Essences +
                         Blue Diamond
                    Spell:      Light
    2. Holy Weapon            +2d6 Damage against Evil creatures
                    Requires:      Caster Level 7
                    Ingredients: Faint Power & Water Essences +
                             Diamond
                    Spell:     Cure Critical Wounds
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    ROBE OF THE ARCHMAGI        Armor Bonus +5, Spell Penetration feat, Bonus
    --------------------        Level 5, 6, & 7 Wizard/Sorcerer Spells, Spell
                    Resistance 20, +3 Universal Saves, Only Usable
                    by Wizard or Sorcerer (used by Qara)
                    Requires:    Caster Level 14
                    Ingredients: Glowing Power Essence +
                         Radiant Air, Earth, Fire & Water
                         Essence + King's Tear + Iron Ingot
                         + Leather Hide
                    Spell:     Mage Armor (Zhjaeve)
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    BRACERS OF ARMOR +8        Used by Zhjaeve, provides a +8 Armor Bonus to AC
    -------------------        Requires:     Caster Level 16
                    Ingredients: 2 Iron Ingots + Radiant Earth
                         Essence + King's Tear
                    Spell:      Mage Armor
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

     E. Speak to Hlam in the Merchant District to move Khelgar to a level 20 monk.
    Many players will prefer to keep Khelgar as a fighter, and there's good
    reason to do so: he hits often and deals high damage as a fighter,
    especially with a highly enchanted weapon.  He's also a lot of fun and very
    effective wielding the vorpal falchion "Headsman", and even more so in its
    upgraded form as "Severance Pay".
    Nevertheless, there is a strong argument to be made for playing Khelgar as a
    Monk, especially at higher levels.  This is arguably true from both an
    insta-kill perspective (via the Quivering Palm feat, which has similarities
    to the Vorpal quality of the Headsman) and a purely damage-dealing angle,
    where the Monk clearly wins.
    For the purposes of comparison, we will assume Khelgar is level 20
    and fully buffed with the best possible equipment, feats and skills, and has
    the same final base statistics of STR 22, DEX 13, CON 18, INT 10, WIS 10,
    CHA 7.  His equipment will be as follows:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    MONK                    FIGHTER
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Belt of Cloud Giant Strength        Belt of Cloud Giant Strength
    Thieves' Hood                 Thieves' Hood
    Boots of the Sun Soul +5        Boots of the Sun Soul +5
    Ring of Power                Ring of Regeneration (+4)
    Ring of Might                Ring of Freedom of Movement
    Cloak of Protection +4            Cloak of Protection +4    
    Great Wyrm Gauntlets (+6)        Falchion "Severance Pay" (+5)
    Robes of the Shining Hand +5        Greater Storm Armor Earth's Children
    Amulet of Greater Health        Medallion of Thought
    (no equivalent item)            Gauntlets of Ironfist
    (no equivalent item)            Heavy Shield +4
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    BASE ATTACK BONUS +15            BASE ATTACK BONUS +20
    BASE ATTACK PRPGRESSION (6 attacks)    BASE ATTACK PROGRESSION (4 attacks)
     32, 32, 32, 27, 22, 32    - comprised of:     37, 32, 27, 22 - comprised of:
     15 Base                 20 Base
     10 Strength Bonus             10 Strength Bonus
     01 Weapon Focus (from ring)         02 Greater Weapon Focus
     06 Great Wyrn Gloves              05 Falchion "Severance Pay"
    TOTAL ATTACK BONUS: 177            TOTAL ATTACK BONUS: 118
    AVERAGE ATTACK BONUS: 29.5        AVERAGE ATTACK BONUS: 29.5
    TOTAL BASE DAMAGE: 30, detailed by    TOTAL BASE DAMAGE: 33.5, detailed by
     2d10 Unarmed damage (avg 11)         2d4 Falchion (avg 5)
     +10 Strength                 +10 Strength
     +00 gloves (attack bonus only)         +05 weapon
     +02 weapon specialization (from ring)     +04 greater weapon specialization
     +2d6 fire from gauntlets (7 average)     +2d6 vs evil (almost all opponents)
     (potential quivering palm property)     +1d4 from gauntlets (2.5 average)
                          Vorpal Property (hard to measure
                             directly but very valuable)
    AVG DMG=180 (if all attacks hit)    AVG DMG=134 (if all attacks hit)
    ARMOR CLASS 36 - comprised of:        ARMOR CLASS 42 - comprised of:
     0 Armor                 8 Armor (+7 armor bonus)
     4 Cloak of Protection +4         4 Cloak of Protection +4
     2 Tumble                 1 Tumble
     3 Dex Bonus (boots add +3 to dex)     1 Dex Bonus            
     5 Boots of the Sun Soul +4         5 Boots of the Sun Soul +5
     4 Robes of the Shining Hand +5         2 Heavy Shield (+4 shield bonus)
     4 Amulet of Natural Armor +4
     4 Monk Bonus
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Offensively, the Monk hits more often and does more damage as a result, but
    it has less hit points & does not have the Vorpal quality with its attacks.
    It does have the quivering palm ability, but this is arguably of much lesser
    value, since it can only be used once/day, whereas the Vorpal quality of
    "Severance Pay" requires a reflex save on every critical hit - which Khelgar
    gets roughly 30% of the time.
    Defensively, the Monk's AC is 7 lower, but this is more than offset by its
    Empty Body feat, which grants 50% concealment for 20 rounds twice per day.
    In addition, this monk configuration is immune to energy/ability drain.
    In conclusion, at levels 14 and lower I find Khelgar better as a Fighter.
    At higher levels (especially 19 and 20) he is more effective as a Monk.

     F.    Redistribute equipment after the above activities & level Khelgar to 20 as a
    Monk.

     G. Sell all un-needed equipment.
    
     H.    Don't go to the Shadow Reaver Camp yet. Here, the blogspot NWN2 Crossroad
    Keep walkthrough authors observed some sort of bug where, if they went to
    the Shadow Reaver Camp (even without instructing Veedle to build anything),
    Keep time jumped to 32% and the Tax Collection Mission did not complete.

 12) Time 30% - Income 23,777 - 84 merchants/94 peasants
     A.    Veedle - Build Keep (Personal Quarters).  Crossroad Keep now fully upgraded.

     B. Kana & Keep interior
    1. Special Mission: Tax Collection - done.
        2. Greycloaks to Land/Road Patrol.
        3. Get Key from West Wing to unlock the drawer in the Personal Quarters for
       the best storage object in the game: a Bag of Holding.
    4. Collect Kistrel's completed cloak (this is the earliest it is available,
       assuming you spoke with him as at Keep timer 2% or earlier to start
       progress on it).  Kistrel takes at least +25% Keep Time to finish it.

     C.    Shadow Reaver Camp.  
    At Character Level 22, with all of my custom gear, all battles were easy.
    The only challenge (not much of one) was to keep Zhjaeve un-accosted during
    the battle so she could use the True Name Scroll to remove the Shadow
    Reaver's immortality.  Otherwise its health never drops below 50% and can
    never be defeated.  Successful use of a true name scroll takes about four
    rounds, and if Zhjaeve or Ammon Jerro take any damage in the process (and
    fail a subsequent Concentration check), they have to start over.
    The two blade golems and greater shadow here are worth 5xp each at CLVL22.
    The Shadow Reaver is worth 89xp along with another 1,000xp bonus for its
    defeat.  Use of the spell Control Undead on the shadow reaver will not work
    unless Zhjaeve or Ammon have completed their recitation.  Then, if the
    Reaver fails its save, it is killed almost immediately.  Shadow Simulacrum
    does work.  When the Shadow Reaver is defeated you can recover the last of
    the Silver Shards needed to rebuild the Silver Sword of Gith.
    Once you return to Crossroad Keep an exchange takes place between the PC,
    Zhjaeve and Ammon Jerro.  You can build or lose influence with either of
    them by up to three, depending on your responses.  Since influence with
    Zhjaeve does not impact gameplay in any discernable way, I chose to continue
    my focus on building influence with Ammon.  The three opportunities are:
    1. When Zhjaeve states she was not present when the blade was shattered
       eventually ask, "Ammon, can you offer any insight?"
    2. When Ammon reveals the existence of Nolaloth, eventually respond with,
       "Then let's make use of this fellow enemy of the King of Shadows."
    3. When Zhjaeve expresses suspicion with the timing of Ammon revelations
       about Nolaloth answer with, "I think both of you need to be more
       forthcoming with information."  This also causes a loss of influence with
       Zhjaeve by one, bringing influence with Ammon Jerro and Zhjaeve to 15 and
       -1, respectively.

     D.    Nolaloth's Valley. Ores #15-#16 (last ores).
    The last two ores (15 and 16) of the game are found here.  One is by the
    entrance to the winding passage of the valley.  The other is on the walls of
    the open area by the dragon heart.    
    At level 22, the Elder Elementals here are merely distractions and yield
    76xp each.  
    The conversation with Nolalothcaragasint offers another, more direct,
    perspective on the King of Shadows.  The imprisoned crystal dragon
    eventually relates the story of his failed battle with the Guardian and his
    two views that the Illfarn empire:
    1. lacked perspective as mortals and were therefore "incapable of planning
       beyond a few thousand years"  
       AND
    2. predictably demonstrated hubris and folly by attempting to fashion
       anything so powerful with the notion it could be guaranteed to faithfully
       and always serve the interests of its creators ("What could possibly go
       wrong?")
    You receive 1000xp for finding out from Nolaloth where to reform the silver
    Swords and another 2000 for freeing him so he may finally die.
    The two black dragons here are worth 273xp each.  You can destroy Nolaloth's
    crystal heart to defeat the dragons without having to fight them directly.
    Although you miss out on experience this way, it is faster.

     E.    West Harbour and reform the Sword of Gith.  
    Similar to the Gauntlets of Ironfist, remember to cache all your Silver
    Shards somewhere if you want to keep them even after reforming the Sword.
    Unlike the gauntlets, which could simply be placed on the ground, the shards
    have to be placed inside an object that is not being carried on your PC or
    his/her companions - a corpse or other storage object fixed on the ground is
    needed.
    For example, if you place the silver shards in a bag of holding and then
    place the bag on the ground, the shards will be immediately returned to your
    inventory, though the bag will remain where you set it.  Furthermore, they
    must be in a different area/location than West Harbor or they will still be
    lost in reforming the sword.  One solution is to place the shards in the
    mound that held the hidden cache Guyven revealed just outside Crosroad Keep,
    as I did, or on the remains of one of the black dragons in Nolaloth's
    Valley.
    It's advisable to have the party immune to energy/ability drain before
    entering what's left of West Harbor (e.g. Death Ward).
    While in the ruins of the village, you can earn 250xp by passing an
    intelligence check to see through the ruse the corrupted Webb Mossfeld tries
    to play.  Another 50xp is possible if you use the four logs in the area to
    build a makeshift bridge to the other side (skill 15+ required).  Also, the
    spirit of Danan Starling remains in the area.  If you are kind to him you
    will, after confronting a few additional shadows, meet a Greater Shadow
    posing as his mother Retta.  After you defeat it (for 51xp at level 22) you
    can release Danan's spirit for 250xp and also use the root he was carrying
    to restore your diminished statistics from entering the area (if you didn't
    protect yourself from this first as I did). The Greater Shadow impersonating
    Retta drops 5 shadow residues.
    You earn 1500xp for reforming the silver sword.

     F.    Callum and the Shadow Reaver.
    The four Golems here are enhanced by the Shadow Reaver and his use of the
    Tome of Iltkazar, but at level 22, they are only a distraction and are worth
    76xp each.  The Shadow Reaver yields a Greatsword "The Golem's Blade", a
    Ring of Power, the Tome and 89xp upon its death.

 13) Time 32% - Income 27,257.  98 merchants/102 peasants
     A. Kana
    1. Daerred Letter 3/3 and Ring of Positive Thinking.
    2. Set Greycloaks to Patrol Surroundings.
    3. Kana will inform you the Keep's populace is upset about the high taxes
       (put into place at 25% Keep time).  However, as long as the player was
       successful with the 4 requisites to have these high taxes started without
       ill effect, keeping them at maximum for the rest of the game does not
       appear to slow growth of the merchant or peasant population.     
     B. Talk to Aldanon about the Tome of Iltkazar.  Ammon Jerro and Zhjaeve must
    be in your party for this or dialogue will break after Qara.
     C. While near the Construct in the Keep basement, speak with Grobnar to upgrade
    it with the Tome of Iltkazar.  Assuming the player has installed the
    Construct patch, the Tome grants +2 to Strength, Dexterity and Constitution.

 14) Time 35% - Income 31,620.  112 merchants/119 peasants
     A. Kana: Dobson (City Watch only) - After successful use of appraise, I chose
    to pardon Dobson for a +1 Chaotic shift, morale +1 and merchant growth +0.5%

 15) Time 37% - Income 35,563.  127 merchants/143 peasants
     A. Kana
    1. Katriona to Special Missions.
    2. Special Mission: Bugbears - Start. Although Jalboun is on Special
       Missions, Katriona or Bevil are also required to have best success here.

 16) Time 40% (uneventful) - Income 39,440.  141 merchants/165 peasants

 17) Time 42% - Income 43,083.  154 merchants/187 peasants
     A. Kana
    1. Special Mission: Bugbears - Total success.  Receive Nasher's Ring of STR
    2. Reset Greycloaks to Patrol Surroundings.
    3. Katriona to Patrols.

 18) Time 45 to 50% (uneventful) - Income 64,237.  254 merchants, 244 peasants

 19) Time 52% - Income 78,401.  307 merchants/261 peasants
     A. Kana:
    1. Raven's Allies - I allowed Kana to decide; she refused them.
    2. Katriona to Special Missions.
    3. Special Mission: Mere of Dead Men - Start.

 20) Time 55% - Income 96,169.  356 merchants/277 peasants
     A. Kana:
    1. Special Mission: Mere of Dead Men-Total Success, receive Watchman's Helm.
    2. Reset Greycloaks to Patrol Surroundings.

 21) Time 57% - Income 112,619.  400 merchants/306 peasants
     A. Kana: Katriona to Patrols.

 22) Time 60% to 77% (uneventful) - Income 167,456.  639 merchants/1,069 peasants

 23) Time 80% - Income 165,420.  658 merchants/1251 peasants
     A. Kana: Conscription - No conscription.  Kana and Katriona have differing
    viewpoints on this subject.  When Kana asks "Why don't you want to conscript
    men?", I answered with, "I fight to protect my people - not to throw them to
    the enemy out of expediency."  This response shifted my alignment 3 towards
    good (now 0/98) and resulted in the only instance where Kana backed away
    from an opinion.

 24) Time 82% to 85% (uneventful) - Income 155,076.  693 merchants/1,699 peasants

 25) Time 87% to 97% (uneventful) - Income 87,180.  758 merchants/3,455 peasants
     A. Before moving on to Keep time 100% I finished a forgotten task: I spoke with
    Calindra to register the last of the ores I had found and collect her
    Adamantine samples.
    Unlike Calindra, Pentin is a bit of a cranky and impatient opportunist. So
    after your first conversation with Pentin, he will state his intention to
    leave if you speak with him at any point in the future without having ore
    deposits to report.  One way to deal with this is, if your PC is Evil
    aligned, to threaten Pentin and pass an intimidate check to "persuade" him
    to stay, for +1 influence with Bishop (and if Casavir is in your party
    roster, probably a -1 influence with him as well, though I didn't verify
    this).  Good aligned PCs may also attempt to intimidate Pentin, but will
    always fail the skill check no matter how high their rank.
    Alternatively, when Pentin threatens to leave, you may kill him as I did for
    +2 influence with Bishop (now 28) a +10 shift toward chaotic and total +4
    shift towards Evil (now 0/95).  Although Pentin screams for help, no guards
    come to his aid and there are no negative consequences for the player
    slaughtering him (unless Casavir is in the party, in which case there's a
    loss of 2 influence with him).  Pentin drops a potion of Cure Serious Wounds
    after his summary execution and yields 5xp.
    
     B. OPTIONAL: Recruiting
    At this point, the Blogspot authors of the Keep Optimization Guide found if
    they switched Greycloaks, Katriona, and Light of Heavens to recruiting,
    income plummeted to 18,447 at Keep Time 95% and stayed there.  The treasury
    stopped growing as well.  They believe this is a scripting oversight where
    you don't have enough income (presumably due to the cost of an increasing
    Greycloak population), yet it will not draw from the treasury or cause a
    loss of population in any category.  They did find that at 100% Keep time
    this change in focus resulted in 1481 Merchants, 1486 Peasants and 12,767
    Greycloaks (8311 of which were from recruitment).
    I am of the opinion that, strictly speaking, the population in any category
    beyond a certain number (what that is I have no idea) has little-to-no
    bearing on gameplay.  Specifically, only the ratings indicated in the
    Crossroad Keep report given by Kana have any tangible impact.  These ratings
    are:
    * Peasant Civility
    * Greycloak Civility
    * Morale    
    * Training
    * Unit Strength
    * Weapons
    * Armor
    * Sergeants present (and where they are assigned, especially Jalboun)
    * Keep buildings constructed, which further impact Security categories of:
      - Fortifications
      - Land Security
      - Road Security
      - Road Condition
    Not mentioned in Kana's pop-up report, but still very important for key Keep
    metrics, are:
    * Income modifiers (e.g., whether Joy is present and the player's choice
      at the Merchants Costers event)
    * Security and Unit Strength modifiers (e.g. where and when the Greycloaks
      and applicable Sergeants are deployed).
    If you've done a reasonably good job of following the Blogspot authors
    advice, you've already managed to max out all these categories, as I did.
    Therefore, I chose to remain focused income and the security of Surrounding
    Lands and kept taxes at maximum.  For me, income reached its apex around 60
    to 77% and slowly went down from there.  Again I presume this is due, at
    least in part, to the increasingly disparate ratio between the merchant to
    greycloak population (the peasant population may have played a role as well,
    but I have no data to back this up either).
    By most measures, I managed to more than double the results of the Blogspot
    Authors Team, as shown at 100% Keep time below:

 26) Time 100% - Lockout.
    *******My results********     **Blogspot team results**
    Keep Funds    3,256,602    Keep Funds    1,433,765
    Income           64,445    Income          113,163
    # of recruits        0    # of recruits        0
    Merchants          767    Merchants        1,744
    Peasants        3,945    Peasants        1,750
    Greycloaks       11,833    Greycloaks        5,248
    Volunteers       11,783    Volunteers        5,198
    *************************    *************************

####################################################################################
        This concluded the Crossroad Keep management portion of the game
####################################################################################

  CrossRoad Keep
    Courtyard    
    Once you are at 100% Keep time you can speak with Sir Nevalle and inform him
    "Crossroad Keep is Ready."  A non-animated cut-scene begins afterwards where
    Nasher's army quickly falls to the undead hordes.

    Once the cutscene is done the PC is left standing near Veedle.  When you
    next enter the Keep and approach Aldenon in the library, he tells you he is
    looking for Ammon Jerro but can't find him.  If Ammon was in your active
    party roster, he will vanish as soon as you enter.  Bishop tells you he
    left unexpectedly and will offer to track him down if you express an
    interest in why he left or where he went to.  You can decline his offer and
    wait until Ammon returns, skipping the encounter entirely, but doing so
    misses out on valuble gear and a key late game episode central to the game's
    story.

  Shandra's Farm (optional)
    Even though Bishop offers to take you to Ammon Jerro, you don't have to have
    him in your party when you leave and, unlike the Circle of the Mere episode,
    he won't be with you when you arrive unless you also selected him for the
    mission.  You'll have a chance to buff your party when you arrive before
    moving to face Koraboros, who will taunt Ammon for his mistakenly tragic
    killing of his granddaughter and (prematurely) gloat over his perceived
    fortune at the chance slay everyone present in return.  Ammon joins your
    active roster just as the battle begins, so be sure he was properly
    outfitted before you entered Crossroad Keep.
 
    At CLVL 22 and with up to 4 other companions on your side, it's easy to
    dispatch Koraboros and his minions back to the hells; so easy, in fact, that
    I went alone.  I also went alone with the idea that the revealing
    conversation that would begin after the battle's conclusion would be more
    plausible if it happened only between Ammon Jerro and my PC with no other
    companions around and (considering the location and circumstances) he would
    have little holding him back from speaking freely and confronting his past.

    Of note, this otherwise short battle presents another opportunity to get a
    little more experience: Koraboros summons two Cornugons before the battle
    begins.  He and his minions (if given enough time) summon more Cornugons,
    Erinyes and Imps to aid him in his ill-fated attempt to exact revenge on
    Ammon Jerro and the rest of the party.  They will eventually stop calling
    allies (after around 20 summons or so) but it can be somewhat amusing to
    have the entirety of Koraboros' infernal army easily defeated by just Ammon
    Jerro and my PC.

    In addition, just before thigs got started, I kept reloading until my Summon
    Baatezu feat brought forth another Koraboros, just for the ironic humor of
    seeing him fight himself (complete with screenshots).  At CLVL 22 Horned
    Devils are worth 51xp, while Erinyes and Imps are worth 5xp each.

    Once the battle ends, a long conversation ensues where you can build up to
    11 additional influence with Ammon Jerro.  This was the script I followed:
    Jerro:    I don't recall asking you to come with me. I won't bother asking how
        you knew I was here, you always    seem to be underfoot, interfering
        with everything.    
    PC:    I can't afford to lose you and the part of the Ritual you possess.
        (+1 influence)
    Jerro:    True. I had not thought to be ambushed here, but it is the nature of
        the Lower Planes to harbor grudges once humiliated.
    Jerro:    In any event, to waste time trading words with you is not why I came
        here.
    PC:    Did you come to pay your respects to Shandra?
    Jerro    You're mistaken, of course. No, there is something I placed here
        long ago that may be of use in our war now.
    PC:    Is that all this place means to you?
    Jerro:    Is it all it means to me? Yes.
    Jerro:    I never knew this place, never knew my niece until you brought her
        to me. So should I feel something as I look at this place? I think
        not.
    Jerro:    It is a burnt ruin, and I have seen many of these strewn with
        corpses - some caused by me, but many more caused by the King of
        Shadows, so it affects me little.
    Jerro:    That is because I know there will be hundreds, thousands, countless
        more unless the King of Shadows is stopped - and he must be stopped
        if people are to live.
    PC:    Don't you think you should pay your respects anyway?
    Jerro:    Ah, and so you pass judgement on me yet again. Do you realize how
        you sound or are you deaf to it?
    Jerro:    As you condemn my actions, perhaps you should ask how well you knew
        her - *really* knew her.
    PC:    She was my friend, she was part of our family.
    Jerro:    Indeed. Because from all that I have heard, you were constantly
        placing her in danger, and you knew very little about her at all.
    Jerro:    So your preaching is not only irritating me, it is a hypocrisy I
        commonly observe in the Neverwinter nobility... Captain.
    PC:    I can tell you everything I knew about her, then you can decide.
        [An influence check with *Shandra* is made with this conversation
        choice. If successful, influence with Ammon Jerro is increased by 10
        and the conversation continues as shown below]
    Jerro:    Very well, I am listening.
    Jerro:    That.. that was a great deal more than I thought.
    Jerro:    She could have remained here and been safe, but yet she followed
        you... why?
    PC:    If you ask yourself why you fought the King of Shadows, you'll
        probably have the same answer.
    Jerro:    Still... despite what you have said... she is the reason why I have
        to fight this war, because no one else has the strength to do it -
        or is willing to make the choices that I can.
    PC:    Keep telling yourself that, and you'll soon become what you're
        fighting.
    Jerro:    I did what I had to do, always. They were hard decisions, but they
        had to be made by someone - and if no one would do it, I would.
    Jerro:    And before you judge me for my crimes, perhaps you should look
        back  - the trail of dead behind you is long, indeed, "hero" of
        Neverwinter.
    Jerro:    Ask yourself truly if everything you have done has been done
        because you believe it was right - and then ask yourself if because
        of it, the innocent have suffered.
    PC:    [Truth] Don't think that I am unaware of my deeds.
    Jerro:    Yet your actions? Would you change them, if you had to do them over?
    Jerro:    I did what I had to do, always. *Always*. The King of Shadows must
        be stopped, there is no middle ground in this.
    PC:    Yes, but ask yourself *why* were you fighting the King of Shadows in
        the first place?
    Jerro:    To save Neverwinter of course.
    Jerro:    They didn't move fast enough, see the threat for what it was, so I
        acted.
    PC:    By acting without thinking - isn't that how Shandra died?
    Jerro:    [as if struck by the words, says nothing for a moment]
    Jerro:    You're right. I won't argue it with you anymore.
    Jerro:    I will not condemn all I have done, but there are times I have acted
        rashly - and innocents have paid the price. It is pride, and it is
        arrogance.
    Jerro:    And I do wish I had known Shandra, even for a short while. I had
        thought her lost in the war, you know - and in the end, she was.
    Jerro:    I am sorry, Shandra. Wherever you walk now, forgive me.
        [A glimmer of light from Shandra's Pendant shines briefly in the
        distance, catching Jerro's eye]
    Jerro:    It seems the land has answered me. This... looks to be a pendant of
        some sort
    PC:    I'm glad. Is there anything else you need here?
    Jerro:    [who appears to have changed his mind about his original intentions]
        No, I have found what I was looking for.
    
    The above exchange brought my influence with Ammon Jerro to 26.  I also
    earned 1,000xp for convincing him to be remorseful for (at least some of)
    his actions.

    In addition to recovering Shandra's pendant, Koraboros drops one of the most
    valuable non-crafted objects in the game: a Staff of the Magi.  Also, By
    opening the crate next to Shandra's home, you will also recover Balafour's
    Gnashing Rod - a fitting weapon for Ammon Jerro, were he not using the +5
    heavy mithral shield I had previously outfitted him with.  Finally, if you
    examine the Scarecrow here you may pass an Intelligence check (16+).  If you
    fail this, you may examine the ground with a Spot/Search check.  If you pass
    any of these (16+) you find a hidden cache of two chests with more fixed,
    valuable gear: another copy of a Ring of Regeneration and The Sly Blade,
    along with the medium armor Spellchain, and a Scarab of Greater Protection.

  Crossroad Keep
    Courtyard
    Before moving further, keep in mind this is the last chance you will have to
    access the Crossroad Keep's basement, courtyard, outer grounds or any of its
    merchants.  As such, it also represents your last opportunity to:
    * withdraw any funds from the Keep's treasury
    * craft/enchant items
    * buy or sell (anything)
    * freely redistribute equipment amongst all your companions

    Also, because you're restricted to two companions for most of the rest of
    the game and almost all your enemies are undead, it makes sense to prepare
    your PC and his/her chosen companions appropriately.  Casavir was always my
    first choice because of the Pharoah's Mace he was best suited to use; I gave
    him the best gear available, except for defensive items - those stayed with
    Ammon.  My next overall choice was either Khelgar (due to his speed and
    damage-dealing ability) or Zhjaeve (with her persistent spells).

    Before moving on I crafted these items:
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    PERIAPT OF WISDOM +6        Wisom +6     (for Elanee)
    --------------------        Requires:    Caster Level 8
                    Ingredients: Glowing Power Essence +
                         Radiant Air, Earth, Fire & Water
                         Essence + King's Tear + Iron Ingot
                         + Leather Hide
                    Spell:     Owl's Wisdom (Zhjaeve)
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    BRACERS OF ARMOR +8        Used by Elanee, provides a +8 Armor Bonus to AC
    -------------------        Requires:     Caster Level 16
                    Ingredients: 2 Iron Ingots + Radiant Earth
                         Essence + King's Tear
                    Spell:      Mage Armor
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    BELT OF AGILITY +6 (x2)        Used by Bishop and Qara, provides a +6 bonus to
    -----------------------        Dextrity and Freedom of Movement per the spell
                    Requires:     Caster Level 8
                    Ingredients: Leather Hide + Glowing Air
                         Essence + Rogue Stone
                    Spell:      Cat's Grace
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
    
    I also unloaded all of my unwanted gear to the Shop Keeper in Ivarr's
    Temple, and Caelryna, in Deekin's Shop.  Note that at appraise of 20, both
    merchants will buy items from the PC for more then they sell them for, with
    obvious potential consequences.  As a reminder, Caelryna acts as a fence.
    This can be useful if the PC sent Uncus away after assuming control of the
    Keep, especially if you're looking to unload stolen gear this late in the
    game.  By the time I had finished selling all my unwanted gear, I had
    608,397 gold.

    Things progress quickly after the PC speaks with Sir Nevalle and says "The
    Keep is ready to stand against the Shadow Army."  If you haven't already
    had Bishop lead you to Ammon Jerro at Shandra's farm, you may want to do
    that first, as this event precludes doing so later.

    You'll be brought the conference room in the Keep to speak with Kana,
    Nevalle and Nasher about plans to defend the Keep from the upcoming assault:
    you are to slow the progress of the approaching undead army by destroying
    the two nearby bridges that lead to Crossroad Keep.
    You must choose two of your companions and a set of three greycloak archers
    or melee fighters to assist you in this task.  Choosing a companion may
    raise influence with them by one (if you say something supportive or
    encouraging) with the following exceptions:
    * You gain no influence choosing Sand or Elanee.
    * You can gain up to two influence with Casavir by choosing him.  Further,
      if you also select Bishop (order does not matter), you can gain an
      additional +1 influence with Casavir by saying you want him to keep an eye
      on Bishop.  Curiously, this causes no loss of influence with Bishop.
    * If Sand and Qara are chosen and you choose Sand first, you will
      automatically have -1 influence with Sand by choosing Qara, and an
      additional -1 if you support her when Sand chides her.  Similarly, if you
      choose Qara first, you may loose the influence you gained with her by
      defending Sand when she insults him.
    * If both Ammon Jerro and Zhjaeve are chosen, you will lose influence (1)
      with Ammon if you choose Zhjaeve first.  In any case, you may lose (more)
      influence (1 or 2) with your second choice by saying something insensitive
      in reference to your second choice.
    * The Construct cannot be chosen for this mission (likely a programming
      oversight).

    I selected Bishop, then Casavir, for this mission (influence now 20 and 29,
    respectively).

  Road to Rrossroad Keep
    Your alignment may shift by one towards good/evil or lawful/chaotic,
    depending on your instructions to the greycloaks as you arrive, but your
    instructions from the cutscene will otherwise have no effect on their
    fighting style.

    If you bring Ammon Jerro along on this mission, Daeghun will be indignant at
    his presence and question why he is with you.  This has no impact on
    gameplay, but it can be interesting to see their exchange.  If Ammon is not
    with you, Daeghun will chastise you if you respond to his greeting with
    anything other than, "Just tell me what you've seen, and go back to the
    Keep."

    The first group of Ghasts you meet here will be fighting three Greycloak
    footsoldiers, who will be immune to damage as plot characters until that
    battle is done.  You can let them kill all the skeletons if you want, though
    you'll miss the XP by doing so.  Once the skeletons are defeated the
    Greycloaks will join your party and can be injured.  When they join, they'll
    ask who they should follow and an in-game dialogue box will state their
    bonuses (or penalties) in combat will be dependent on your influence with
    the companion they follow.  I don't know if this is true or not, but I had
    an influence of 29 with Bishop by now and saw no noticable difference in how
    they fought as a result.

    Unlike your companions, the fighters and/or archers you bring along will
    stay dead if they're killed along the way.  This won't matter much in the
    end, since they won't last long against the giant skeltons when you confront
    Garius by the bridges, but it may slow things down a bit not having them
    around.  As always, you can buff them before combat and rest between battles
    to extend their lifespan.

    Along the way you can earn an additional 500xp by finding a supply area past
    the first bridge along with the additional xp from defeating the Shadow
    Priests (and their undead minions) guarding it.  There's random gear to be
    found in the barrels (up to level 9 scrolls) and possibly one or two +2
    weapons in the chest (or up to a belt of agility +2, if you reload enough)
    but, if you've been playing like I did, likely none of it holds a candle to
    what you're using now.

    Also, there are nine vampire coffins here; you'll get 200xp for each one
    that receives sunlight purification.

    At this point I maxxed out my PC's experience at 253,000, so I had to rely
    on the Gamebanshee website to report on possible experience hereafter.

  Crossroad Keep
    Although there are hints of it with Bishop, the only romance options in the
    game are with Casavir (for female PCs) or Elanee (for males).  Once the
    bridge mission is complete the PC may choose to culminate any brewing
    relationship with them (provided there's high enough influence to make this
    happen).

    Afterwards, the player will be awakened up in their Keep quarters (with
    Casavir or Elanee standing by their side, if you had the PC accept their
    advances) to news of an impending assault.  As with the bridge mission, the
    PC will choose two companions to assist them, this time on the walls of the
    Keep, as seige towers lead the assault against them.

    As before, who the PC selects (and how they explain the rationale of their
    decisions) may raise or lower influence with their respective companions.
    Some notes on possile results of your choices:
    * You gain no influence choosing Ammon, Sand or Elanee.
    * If Bishop and Casavir are chosen and you choose Bishop first, you may lose
      1 or more influence with either depending on how you explain your choices,
      though it is possible to still come out ahead by +1 influence with both.
    * If Sand and Qara are chosen you may loose the any influence gained with
      Qara by telling her to follow Sand's lead.
    * If both Ammon Jerro and Zhjaeve are chosen, you will lose influence (1)
      with Ammon if you choose Zhjaeve first.  In any case, you may lose (more)
      influence (1 or 2) with your second choice by saying something insensitive
      in reference to your second choice.
    * As before, the Construct cannot be chosen on this mission.

    I selected Khelgar, then Casavir (and the Pharaoh's mace he'd equipped) for
    this mission, with an influence now of 18 and 21, respectively.

      During the assault, siege towers will approach the Keep with their undead
    payload.  The PC and his/her chosen companions will be subject to random
    archer fire.  If you pay attention, you'll be able to see these towers in
    the backround as they approach the Keep.  Once close enough in their
    approach you may attack them with ranged spells and weapons to both shorten
    their lifespan when they arrive and limit the flow of their undead payload.
    However, if you're in need of more XP, you can let them keep coming out
    until none are left.  By now you're probably high enough level and with
    strong enough gear that success here is easy.

    Once the seige tower assault is done a cut-scene occurs during which the PC
    again chooses two companions to defend the Keep's courtyard.  Tellingly,
    Bishop is not one of the available choices (though the Construct is) and he
    betrays the party for reasons that may become clear later, if the PC's
    influence with him is high enough.  It's illustrative here to remember
    Bishop's quote from earlier in ACT I where he says, "I doubt you'll survive,
    but I will -- and I'm never on the losing side."

    For the Courtyard battle I kept Khelgar and Casavir since they were the most
    efficient at dispatching the constant stream of undead that appeared.
    Eventually (once the PC's companions destroy enough of them) Black Garius
    arrives and summons a Nightwalker, which he proudly annouces is an avatar of
    The King of Shadows.  However, this Nightwalker is surpisingly easy to
    defeat and once it is, the player then chooses Ammon or Zhjaeve (or neither)
    to use their copy of the True Name Scroll to perform a recitation, banish
    Garius back to Merdelain and finally claim victory in defending Crossroad
    Keep.  The NPC not chosen to perform the recitation is struck down by Garius
    and, when (s)he appears with the party again in Meredelain, has only about
    half of their hit points remaing from his knockdown blow.

    I experienced what appears to be a bug in the game where Garius fails to
    summon the Nightwalker more than 75% of the time.  If he fails, the battle
    will never end and you will have to re-load to an earlier save to continue.
    After learning of this the hard way, I created a save point just prior to
    Garius' arrival to minimize any potential delay.
    
    After a cut-scene the player is able to speak with Aldenon again, who then
    offers to use the Tome of Iltkazar to teleport to the party to Merdelain,
    where (s)he and the party will soon confront the King of Shadows in the
    final portion of the game.  You don't have to leave for Merdelain
    immediately, but since there's almost nothing else you can do in the
    meantime, I did.

  Vale of Merdelain  
    As soon as you arrive there's an opportunity to lose influence with Sand.
    A conversation ensues between him and Qara, who responds to his explanation
    about the Tome of Iltkazar by saying it was "useless", since the party did
    not get taken directly to the King of Shadows.  Sand becomes indignant with
    her impatience and insults her.  If you respond with, "I think I'd rather
    have taken my chances in going through the Mere than teleporting here",
    there will be a loss of 3 influence with Sand, who will continue to live up
    to his name by insulting the PC as well.

    Another opportunity to affect influence is with Casavir, who comments on
    Bishop's betrayal.  If the PC defends Bishop by saying "I'm still not
    convinced Bishop turned on us on purpose" you'll lose 1 influence with him.
    Conversely, if you answer saying, "We'll find Bishop, Casavir, and he will
    answer for his betrayal" you will earn +1 influnce.  However, there appears
    to be a bug in the dialogue because, regardless of your answer and influence
    (or lack thereof), Casavir will reply with: "This journey... traveling with
    you has been an ordeal, and it is not one I can bear much longer. Let us
    find the King of Shadows and end this so we may part ways at last."

    Neeshka is whisked away as these conversations conclude.  You can choose up
    to two additional companions along with Ammon Jerro and Zhjaeve as you
    progress to the game's finale.  I chose Casavir and Khelgar for the same
    reason as the Crossroad Keep courtyard battle: they're the most efficient at
    dispatching the large quantities of undead you face, and Casavir's use of
    the Pharoah's mace is often a one-hit kill with its DC 22 fortitude against
    them.

    There was an added benefit to choosing Khelgar and Casavir for this final
    leg of the game: as fighter types they don't need to rest to maintain their
    offensive potential, which is a bad idea in this area anyway (unless you're
    looking for more experience from the undead foes that are usually generated
    when you try to do so).  In fact, with my party, only Zhjaeve would get any
    real benefit from any resting and, with her persistent spell selection, I
    didn't rest at all until just before the final battle.  Prior to moving on,
    I had Zhjaeve cast Death Ward on everyone except my PC (who wore an amulet
    of health) and the following persistent spells:

    SPELL                TAGRET
    * Lesser Visage of the Deity    Zhjaeve
    * Light                Zhjaeve
    * Divine Favor            Zhjaeve
    * Aid (x5)            All party members, one at a time
    * Mass Lesser Vigor        AoE (party)
    * Bless                AoE (party)

    Once you move past the arrival area of Merdelain a small army of Bone
    Spiders is generated; I sent Khelgar and Casavir to dispatch them.  Once
    they were defeated Khelgar bashed the door at the end of the causeway.

    With the exception of five golems, a Nightwalker and two shadow priests, I
    usually sent Casavir alone to defeat enemies we encountered, since the rest
    of them were undead and easy targets of the Pharoah's mace he wielded.
    Against others (like the Shadow priests) he used the falchion Severance Pay
    and had Khelgar lend a hand (no pun inteneded).  I avoided resting until my
    party arrived at the point just before the Inner Sanctum to fight the three
    Shadow Reavers there.  To aid in the goal of avoiding rest, Casavir wore the
    first two rings of regeneration my party had, along with a greater amulet of
    health; Khelgar wore the third ring.

    As you move through Merdelain you will have to walk though three black mist
    clouds to continue.  They act as one-way teleporters and will bring your
    entire party to a different section once someone walks through them, so be
    sure you haven't left anything behind as you move to the next area.  These
    clouds have no discernable center points to click on, so just move a
    companion or the PC into the middle of the cloud to be transported.

    While the three Shadow reavers don't require preparation to be defeated, it
    pays to rest and prepare with (persistent) spells first if you intend to
    destroy them without anyone dying in the process.

    Even thougn Zhjaeve and Ammon Jerro can use their true name scrolls at the
    same time to take out the shadow reavers more quickly, I found their use of
    the scrolls could be interrupted for no apparent reason, so be prepared for
    the likely need to make more than one attempt to rid yourself of each
    Reaver's dark immortality before taking them out.  Also, the spell Control
    Undead and similar countermeasures will not work on the Reavers until the
    recitation of their true names is completed.  There is no shortcut to
    defeating them and it's best to keep them occupied by others until this is
    done.

    
    Antechamber
    The antechamber is the last place your party can rest unaccosted and prepare
    for your final battles in the Inner Sanctum.  Since I chose to build higher
    influence with Qara than Sand, I knew he would turn on the party during the
    cutscenes with Garius.  Therefore, I had him memorize and cast only spells
    to buff the party before entering (e.g. greater heroism on everyone).  I
    left him with only low-level, benign spells and swapped out his existing
    quality gear for junk to keep his irritation to a minimum when I took him
    down later on.  Spell prepartion was similar to what I did earlier in
    Meredelain, with Zhjaeve's persistent spells and an added focus on Elanee's
    dinosaur pet.

       
    Inner Sanctum - cutscenes
    Before you fight, Garius will attempt to sway Ammon Jerro, Neeshka, Sand,
    Qara, Bishop and perhaps Grobnar to his side - though he does not always try
    with Grobnar.  His attempt to lure Ammon never succeeds; a failed influence
    check will only change how Ammon speaks of the PC, not his allegiance.  

    Neeshka requires a simple influence check to retain her services.  For an
    extra nudge towards your side, say "I need you Neeshka", for +3 influnce
    before the actual check is made (at 32 beforehand, mine was high enough that
    this was not neccessary).  Other conversation options will cause a loss of
    influence.  If you are so inclined, you may choose to brand her a traitor,
    forcing her to Garius' side.
    
    It is no secret that Qara and Sand do not get along, and the one you have
    lower influence with will leave to side with Garius.  Qara will defect if
    your influence with Sand is equal to or higher than hers, complaining of how
    "...I'm tired of him and all the rest telling me what to do and how...",
    even if the PC is female.  Otherwise Sand will defect, warning Qara's
    uncontrolled power is too dangerous and must be stopped at all costs:
    "...the lesser of two evils," as he describes it.

    Bishop's allegiances remain as they always have been in the game until now:
    conflicted and complicated.  You can't get him to join your side (at least,
    not in the first battle).  However, although gameplay may lead one to
    believe otherwise, you can shape the conversation to make Bishop walk away
    and not fight you, no matter your influence.  If influence with Bishop is
    low, preventing his defection could follow these conversation lines:

    Bishop:    My debt to you is over, "Knight-Captain."
    Bishop:    Don't think I didn't see you and the Paladin here, right before the
        siege. And to think, before that, I was willing to fight for you - I
        would have died for you.
    PC:    That's not what happaned Bishop.
    Bishop:    Of course not. Don't play me for a fool like you've done with the
        paladin there. You're both going to be in a grave soon enough.
    Bishop: It could have worked out differently, you know. But you're too much
        like your Uncle for my tastes.
    Bishop:    And you make the same bad choices, just like Duncan did - and that's
        why I'm on this side, not yours.
    PC:    I have no idea what you're talking about.
    Bishop: [Failure] Nice try, but I'm done listening to you - and your Uncle.
    Garius:    I think we've heard enough from this knight of Neverwinter... and
        from you, ranger. Now be silent.
    Bishop: Is that so? Well, in that case, you can handle the Shard-Bearer on
        your own.
    Bishop: After all, you really don't need me, do you? I think it might be
        best if you stopped having people stand between you and the
        Knight-Captain here - Torio, Lorne, your reaver friends... I'm not
        going to fight your battles.
    Garius: You will die here if you leave, Bishop. I will come for you when I
        am done here.
    Bishop: [Laughing] Garius, you're going to die if you stay.

    The key to preventing Bishop's betrayal is showing sympathy for his
    position, but not implying weakness by "feeling sorry" for him.
    Apologizing, saying you're sorry (aside from the very beginning) or you
    don't care will always cause him to turn on you.  However, if you get him to
    (or allow him to) state his case without belittling his position, Garius may
    eventualy tell Bishop to be quiet.  And if there's one thing Bishop hates
    more than anything else, it's being told what to do; a command by Garius for
    Bishop to be silent will make him walk.
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