One of the cooler, immersive quests below level 12 (Stormcleave Outpost, Tear of Dhakkan and Jungles of Khyber are others) is “Gwylan’s Stand.” It’s a level 7 adventure that will knock your ego down several pegs if you don’t come in prepared for the traps, the heavy load of cargo you must carry and unload at each objective, and the army of enemies that await to kill you from the moment they spot you.
The Thuranni incursion obviously haven’t met a determined kunoichi ninja like Ryncletica, that doesn’t like to be seen unless she really wants to be.
I tried soloing Gwylan’s Stand a few days before, with a hireling in tow. The hireling ensured that everyone saw us and, on Elite difficulty, promptly killed us. Worse, I wasn’t “in the zone.” There’s a specific mindset I have to use when playing as an infiltrator.
Infiltration mode differs from pure stealth in that it requres some fighting and more patience. Infiltration is pure aggro management: For enemies I cannot sneak past or reside too close to an objective (I must kill several lieutenants as well as taint the supplies), I pull enemies in your path using one strike with a throwing star from as far as I can spot them, drawing them far from their friends. I eliminate that enemy and repeat as necessary until I clear a path to that objective.
This time, Ryncletica entered alone on Elite difficulty.
“…The Chinaman leapt up and said, ‘Supplies!'”
Getting the supplies in the cave wasn’t too difficult. You beat down a few trolls and rust monsters there for some ki, and there weren’t enough trolls around the last of the supplies to cause much of a fuss. Ryn’s way to limit damage comes from being 20% Concealed, 25% Incorporeal and with a 14-16% Dodge when she has to fight. A little healing wand whips to bring her back to health, and she was ready for the big game.
After pulling and dispatching two lieutenants and their patrols, it was time to round the corner to the first trap and single Elf Fighter/Wizard. I really, really wanted to kill that SOB so he wouldn’t ever activate the spike trap there. Sure, I could just sneak past him, but I was in a pissy mood. He was too fast for my attack and managed to activate the spikes, but it was a minor nuisance than a threat.
The Plaza and West Complex: What Traps?
The first real challenge was getting to the West complex ahead. Another Fighter/Wizard patrolled the stairs. I swallowed my assassin tendencies since there were two traps to watch: a force trap all along the stairs, and sonic traps along the path forward to a lieutenant and the first complex. The traps will never activate if I wasn’t detected…and I wasn’t seen.
After ending the next lieutenant, I looted quickly and went back to stealth mode as a patrol spawns to reinforce that lieutenant. They run back to some nearby stairs and stop, leaving me open to individually lure some trolls and minotaurs from the area below with a throwing star to the head to clear the way to my first supply crates. I was able to hide in a nook between these crates while activating them. Then it’s back to stealth mode, sneaking by yet another Elf and his stair traps, never to see him again. Past the patrol and on into the West complex.
This one had no traps but lots of enemies to pull. I took the left path and lured quite a lot, including the boss, before running down to dispatch the two remaining. Two more supply crates completed.
Back outside, a few squatters by the West entrance met their demise, then it was on to the North complex, but not before luring and dispatching another lieutenant and his patrols. I slipped by the spawning minotaurs here and entered to avoid a fight.
Inside the North complex, you can only go one way; the other is barred. I was forced to fight three enemies on top but luckily no others were alerted. The path down has cold traps on each pillar. But–the traps don’t activate if you walk to the opposite pillar of each trap and hug it as you go around.
After pulling more enemies, I eliminated yet another boss and ruined more crates. I returned the way I came: I wasn’t here to slay, but to complete a mission.
Go South, Young Ninja
The path to the South complex is guarded by a standing patrol and a nasty fire trap along the stairs in front of them. After taking some precautions (Ocean Stance for better Dodge and saves, and a Heroism potion), I went invisible and jumped, switching back to stealth just before landing so the guards wouldn’t hear me vaulting over the fire traps. Up the ramp and into the last complex.
This one always seems too easy for parties I’ve been with. Some always forget the blade trap at the top of the ramp. More invisibility and a vault, then it was time to pull enemies one-by-one once more.
The boss was too lightly guarded. I pulled a couple and pounced on the rest like a hungry, rabid cat. After smashing the last of the breakables and slipping on my Voice, it was time to contemplate the mysteries of ninja domination. About 11,000 XP for my trouble. And no, I left alone the deadly acid-trap chest outside. It’s the joy of the challenge that’s the true prize here…
…And there’s not any gear in that quest that would suit a Monk, anyway.
House Phiarlan’s spy ring should be sending me my Double-O number and ID card any time now. And I want my green tea stirred, not shaken.