I am not a fan of Elminster. This is not new by the way, this goes all the way back to my very first Forgotten Realms encounters and includes completely non-DDO games like Pool of Radiance: Myth Drannor, where Elminster also gave out ominous orders before disappearing, leaving you to do all the work, and reappearing just in time to take credit for your victory.
My dislike goes back even further than that. His very existence offends me in that he is such an obvious rip-off of Gandalf. One could argue that Gandalf is himself lifted from Merlin, Wikipedia makes that implication and who am I to disagree with Wikipedia. But even if true this is different. Gandalf was first, and set the obvious stereotype. So much of D&D was inspired by Tolkien’s work, some derivation is to be expected, but … a wise, white-bearded wizard in a pointy hat that carries a staff and even smokes a pipe? Come on man, use some imagination.
But I digress, I’ve made this point before. This is not about how Elminster is such an obvious Gandalf-clone that if he was a pop song, he’d be sued for copyright infringement. This is about his latest dick move, and believe me, it was a dick move with a capital “Dick”.
So there we are, my Gamer Girl and I, running our two Freezer Burn druids and racing to complete yet another life in the endless Completionist quest. We decided to finish up Mawry’s last three levels by running the heroic Sagas in Eveningstar; it seemed like a nice change of pace from our usual path through the Vale of Twilight and the Inspired Quarter.
Of course, that means a little Elminster. But not too much, he does not directly give any of the quests in the two sagas (Honor of the Huntsilver, Perils of Cormyr). But it does mean a lot of Harpers. Elminster is a Harper, I think, and if not he should be, because they have a lot in common. As in, insultingly cloying commentary + ominous orders regarding very dangerous tasks + disappearing whenever things get hot + reappearing at the end to take credit for your work.
The quest begins in typically Harper fashion, with a snobby classist mage taking the Nether Scroll from us for safekeeping, as we certainly can’t be trusted with it ourselves. And like one would expect from a Harper, he quickly disappears and leaves us with all the killing. He gets his comeuppance though in a rather grisly fashion which I will not spoil here.
Like I mentioned, the quest is intended to be difficult. It wasn’t, not for these two characters, we cruised through essentially untouched right up to the end fight. But then things did get interesting. The boss fight occurs in one large area that is filled with deadly spikes. The boss has this nasty habit of using Telekinesis to throw you up into the air, where you are very likely to land on said spikes. On elite, the quest plays at CR21, and those spikes are sharp indeed. Sharp enough to one-hit kill you if you are not fully healed at all times.
Our various hirelings and summonses are quickly killed off. My tactic is to just keep moving, circling around the big area while picking off the boss’s companions until only the boss remains and then doubling down on DoTs and nukes until he calls for more reinforcements. I can’t see what my Gamer Girl is doing, I am too busy trying to mash the right buttons while in the midst of this rather intricate movement pattern weaving between the deadly spikes without touching them.
When I take damage I heal myself, but I am not taking much damage, the constant movement seems to be working in that I am avoiding the worst of things.
Then suddenly, my Gamer Girl gets spiked, and I am alone. It’s just me and the boss. He is down around 25% of his health bar. Time to finish this.
I head directly towards him, putting myself into Winter mode with Season’s Greetings, then debuffing the boss with Freezing Spray. Time to light him up: Creeping Cold, Greater Creeping Cold, Ice Flowers, Word of Balance, Call Lightning, as fast as I can, one after the other, repeat.
Except suddenly I am flying. I was so focused on my buttoneering that I missed the fact that he had launched me into the air. I notice only as I am about to land on spikes, no time to do anything but one more Call Lightning.
It is enough; the boss dies. I land; I die. Everyone dies. Silence falls.
Then suddenly, there is Elminster! And a Harper! There to rescue us! No … no rescuing is happening, instead Elminster is taking the Nether Scroll from us? Again?
Hey dude, we’re dead here, how about a little Raise?
No, he just keeps talking about how he’ll have to protect the scroll himself as we are certainly not capable. And taking credit of course, after all he did have the brilliant idea of sending us on this series of quests.
Hello, Elminster, you are giving a speech to a bunch of dead people. Bloody corpses here! Hello!
In the end, he finishes his stupid speech, yoinks the Nether Scroll, and leaves! Meanwhile, we are still dead.
It is the ultimate dick move. All of his usual smarminess, all of his usual show-up-at-the-last-minute-and-take-all-the-credit, all of his usual stealing the valuables in the name of protecting them, all of that, except this time, as we lay there dead. And then leaving us there, soulstones, unable to even loot the chests that we’ve earned while playing a minor role in Elminster’s grand schemes.
I hate him so much.