Baldur’s Gate 3: looting guide (Act 1)
This post: circa 6,000 words, estimated reading time, excluding videos: 30 minutes.
Baldur’s Gate 3, looting your way to success
This is (replay) guide is a work in progress. I am adding sections as I go, in the order that I play them. The aim is to unlock all the traders and to get deep into the Underdark while killing as few people or creatures as possible, keeping the traders friendly with me.
This being a guide, there will be a few spoilers. If you don’t like spoilers, don’t read guides!
Intro: First choices
Before we get started, a word on options, specifically race, as class is more subjective; I prefer mages, you may not.
I could be pedantic about vision, etc., but it’s a moot point as the game can’t implement everything. Still…
Drow should be near-blind in bright sunlight; they are not.
Darkvision is not magical (well, maybe for Warlocks), so you should see in infrared in the dark, not clear as day. Particularly for Drow and other Underdark natives, from recollection, the ability to see in pitch darkness (beyond infrared) was ascribed to emanations (radiations) from the bedrock of the Underdark. So, extending far into the ultraviolet range.
As a human, a torch should paint a huge ‘aim here’ target on you in the Underdark, it doesn’t.
You can ‘hide in shadows’ while carrying a shining torch.
Armour and accessories like rings are ‘one-size-fits-all’.
You get the idea.
Race does make a difference though, but as we only have one Act to go in, it’s hard to say which is best. Consider this though, as you enter the goblin camp and Undercamp:
Drow are feared.
So, it comes down to functionality versus character (roleplay). A character with darkvision has a clear advantage, for battles and for looting. Classes and races with keen senses and or perception are better at spotting hidden. You have the option (recommended) of a high-elf rogue covering these, but two sets of eyes are better than one.
Curiously, I find – not being used to later AD&D core rules – there are freeform options you don’t expect, like mages being able to learn clerical and druidic ‘spells’, but other classes not having the same benefit. As a shield dwarf mage you can cast spells in medium armour and swing your battleaxe efficiently.
Early Access: A word on unreachable items
Early Access Baldur’s Gate 3 has a lot of clipping and layering errors, items you walk through, people stood inside you with their head popping out your shoulder, pipes labelled as candles, scrolls that cannot be used. All to be expected. Then there are the items you cannot reach.
Items on a shelf at shoulder level, on the floor by your feet… Poor testing for the most part, but it’s a big game, lot of items, it’s frustrating, even annoying, but not a big game-changer – until it is, like this switch (in the short video below).
Move the boxes, click and… nope.
As I’ve been here a few times I thought it was a bit strange, so I put one of the boxes back. And voila!
There are a few threads about the about, mostly covering a gauntlet in the druid camp and potions in the goblin camp.
Sometimes it’s a potion that you could collect in previous patches. For the most part, you are best to shrug and move on, because no amount of jumping, crates and angling is going to help if the game is showing you an item at 5′ and its z-index is 20′ or its layer is behind the scene, even if the object appears before you. Sometimes, like the gauntlet, it suggests you jump to reach it, and the circle suggests there’s plenty of room to do so – but the game again won’t let you. It’s a big time-waster!
Partial fix for “Can’t reach” item
A workaround is available though! User ‘Capularis‘ on the Larian forums wrote this:
So I discovered I could get to the pouch, ironically, by selecting the throw option. Even though you get the, “Can’t reach,” message, you can often still throw these items onto the floor, where you can then open them up.
I tried it and it works great for this pouch, for books, scrolls and the like, but potions shatter when you throw them. Alas, it doesn’t work on those gauntlets :/
Event order and play choices
Again, play how you want, especially as the next major content patch might kill your saves, but in a recent replay, I had a stack of magic items and over 10,000g, and I’d only cleared as far as the goblin camp. On the journey, I made the following observations:
1. Unless the item is unique and really useful, like the Sapphire Spark amulet or Sunwalker’s Gift ring, don’t waste money on overpriced trader goods.
2. Look carefully, everywhere. I’d played the game three times before I found the ring of poison resistance, and it wasn’t even hidden. I was so focused on a sarcophagus I couldn’t get the lid off I’d missed it. That sarcophagus? Even though the lid is highlighted, it can’t be lifted off; instead, you peer into the coffin through a crack.
Other items depend on who you kill – or don’t kill. For instance, if you kill Zevlor for his loot, he’s not in a position to reward you different loot for saving him. Quest rewards can similarly be either/or. Furthermore, due to dialogue changes, who is in the party may be a factor in some cases.
3. Ideally, do not kill traders. Unfortunately, the game pushes you to turn some traders hostile. Side with the goblins, the druid trader turns aggro; side with the druids and tieflings and then the traders in the goblins camp turn aggro. In this currently play, I’m not taking sides, but if I were, as in my last playthrough, I’d take everything from the traders.
You may decide to alienate a trader in Act 1, only to find – in futures Acts – that it wasn’t the best decision. I suspect the Zhentarim fall under that category.
4. You level fast and are capped at 4 (partway to 5). You will spend most of the (early access) game not gaining XP – not being rewarded. Still, serves to refine the play. As I show below, you can nearly reach level 3 before you even leave the illithid ship!
5. I have yet to find any benefit for giving Gale your best magic items to absorb (destroy). Nor does refusing his requests have a negative effect. Indeed he finds his own solution. Whether allowing that later proves to be a mistake remains to be seen.
6. Imminent invasions never happen – time is not a problem. You can leave the Tieflings and druids fretting, blag your way into the Underdark and leave all that for another time, like when it gives XP.
7. Passive-aggressive for the win?
Take the goblin camp, for instance. If you go for a passive entrance, they allow you to wander around freely, for the most part. As long as you don’t steal, they are happy for you to place explosive ordinances like nautiloid tanks and barrels of gunpowder, oil and firewine in various strategic places. When the fight comes, a single well-placed firebolt can take out an army. Luring goblins to strangle points like a narrow bridge makes for an effective killing field too. Just a shame they removed the ability to use heavy barrels as missiles, that was fun!
8. Find all the portal sites for fast travel.
Top tip: your entire party doesn’t have to be there to unlock a waypoint, one member can do it with stealth and invisibility. The rest can then portal there as normal.
9. Unless it’s heavy and only worth 1g, loot EVERYTHING. Goblin bows, plates, the lot. To be honest, there’s so much gold available in early access you’ll never spend it, but it’s good practice for the final release. Keep the lightweight stuff in a pouch, though – the rings, gems, so forth. Similarly, leave any high value enchanted weapons and armour in the camp.
You can drop a chest beside your ‘go to’ trader and store items there until you can get the best prices. HOWEVER, I have encountered a bug were the trader decides that your chest is in their trade area, so it’s theirs now, and you have to kill them if you want it back!
9. Use the character in your party with the highest charisma to buy and sell stuff and only them. It makes a difference, especially when buying.
For example, using Shadowheart to trade, you get an extra 1g for a shortsword, possibly more if you use Wyll or have a high charisma Warlock character. 1g, hardly worth it. But 1g for 100 items, that starts to add up. Buying, the price for leather armour +1 drops from 1,500g to 1,280g. With a charisma of 18 or higher, it would be better again.
Also, it seems, the more you trade, the more you can improve your reputation with a trader, though questing may also play a part. Increasing reputation greatly improves the prices you buy and sell for. A rare necklace dropped from 1,690g (with Shadowheart, Chr 14) to 1,3650g with Wyll (Chr 18), then down to 1,150g as the reputation with Blurg improved further.
Here are some of the best tactics I’ve found, especially in a difficult fight you’ve encountered before and want a better way to survive it.
Stay friendly – until you don’t have to. This allows you to lay traps like gunpowder and oil strategically. To separate the party and position them where they can do the most damage.
The first time I fought the duergar, it took a few tries and well over an hour, the last time it was over in a minute. I shoved the boss off the platform to initiate the fight (he died), shoved another to their death the same way. Mopped up the remaining foes.
Similarly with the goblins. The first time it was mayhem, last time, I lured them onto bridges and slaughtered them. Other fights, like the hobgoblin boss, Ragzlin, you can remove a few – even the majority including the boss – at range, in stealth. (Strange how that firelight broke free…). Cut off access to the drums. Initiate fight by (say) dropping the other firelight. Kill the boss fast and mop up.
One of the hardest fights was with the minotaurs. It’s possible to get the bulette to fight them, which makes life easier. The thing keeping popping up at set places. You need it to pop up in the middle of the minotaurs. Failing that, Command (Halt) works on minotaurs 50% of the time. It also works 75% to 80% of the time on the bulette. Fights are so much easier when they can’t hit back. You can also get one minotaur to kill the other in the same way.
Also, don’t forget or underestimate (or overestimate!) the wikis. It may be new with this patch, but I don’t recall the Club of Hill Giant Strength in previous plays and it’s not exactly obvious. You can sit on the chair to discover its nature, but have to smash it to discover the item! Other times, the wikis are not kept up to date and things are no longer available or are perhaps relocated or removed – like the Explorer’s Ring (Nature +1, Survival +1).
Some of the items are just plain obscure. To get the Greatclub (2d12) you apparently had to recruit Glut, kill the minotaurs, loot them, then get glut to resurrect them, so you can take the club off them. Hardly intuitive! Also, it’s nerfed – I tried it and got no such weapon. Still, having a minotaur in the party makes other fights in the area easier 🙂
Make lots of saves! I have a separate save for each area I venture into, plus ‘fight’, ‘current’ and ‘temp’ saves.
Beginning: Owning the Nautiloid ship
Depending on how much time you want to spent (or waste) and whether you think using ‘tricks’ to win is cheating, there are a few possibilities and loot options, including briefly owning the Nautiloid ship. At least until you move to the next part and crash it.
Easy mode nets scrolls of Mage Armor and Firebolt. There are also a couple of battleaxes lying around. Make sure you recruit the Intellect Devourer and the cleric, Shadowheart. And the Gith warrior, of course.
Step it up a notch and you can kill the Cambion commander and loot his sword, Everburn, a greatsword enchanted with 1d4 fire. Killing him nets you 250 XP, with another 50 XP for the Mindflayer who turns on you.
Get creative, gather up and place all the nautiloid tanks (as below) and you can clear the ship for another 300 XP, a greatsword, and be halfway to level 3 before you even crash land!
First steps: landing site
First, gather up your followers from the crash area: the priest, mage, rogue, and warrior. Might as well start with a full crew.
Depending on the path you took around the ravaged beach, and with little fighting, by the time you reach the druids’ gate, you can already be level 3 now – if you killed all the cambion on the ship. You get XP for talking your way past the band of adventurers and their gear is basic, so that fight can be avoided, as can many others.
Next, before exploring further, go to the druid camp, recruit Wyll, and starting turning all the junk into cash with the traders there.
Druid camp: Silvanus’ Grove
Several quests, three traders, initially, and harpies to slay if you want.
Dammon, the tiefling blacksmith, has a number of +1 weapons, +1 scale armour, and a Blooded Greataxe which does an extra +1d4 if you are below 50% health. Makes a good point about just how powerful the Everburn Blade from the Cambion commander is, eh.
Auntie Ethel has a selection of potions – including hill giant strength – and Corellon’s Grace, a staff with a very useful enchant:
“If the wielder is attacked while not wearing armour, they receive a d4 bonus to saving throws”.
It’s around 1,000g, so not an impulse buy. Or, as an option, you can kill her later and prise it from her cold, dead body.
Note that she soon leaves the compound, never to return. If you want anything from her now, buy it while she’s still there.
Arron, the halfling trader is the best known and most obvious. He has a selection of low-level spell scrolls and +1 weapons. The more interesting items in his stock include the Rain Dancer staff, which gives you a ‘create water’ spell – handy if you are stood in burning oil, say.
The Amulet of Element Torment is interesting. If you are stood in flames (etc) and take damage, then deal damage, the target shares your pain. The first thought is “just don’t stand in the flames!”, but really, the effect is more practical. If someone throws a vial of poison at you, some of the damage you take is added to your next attack. It’s around 1,000g though.
There are the tiefing kids too, but they have nothing of worth and no gold to buy your stuff.
And there’s more…
Early quests and exploration within the Druid camp also yield:
a Ring of Colour Spray,
a Bracing Band (shoving an enemy grants +1 AC for a turn),
a Cherished Locket (grants Dancling Lights cantrip)
and Amulet of Syvanus (grants Lesser Restoration).
There’s also plate gauntlets. However, at present an annoying pathing error means you can’t pick it up.
In a hidden passage, there’s also a staff, Nature’s Snares (has a chance to snare none plant/animal targets).
The rewards for rescuing Halsin are worth it too, but that’s for later.
Ruins near the crash site
I passed this earlier, scaring off a few adventurers, now it’s time to return as there are a few items of interest and a camp follower to acquire. I would have liked the opportunity to negotiate with the party inside, but they are of the ‘shoot first’ persuasion.
Ray of Enfeeblement
Protection vs Good and Evil
Also, The Watcher’s Guide, spear, enchanted with Death’s Embrace (if you miss, your next attack get an advantage roll).
The very rare Amulet of Lost Souls (enchanted with Speak with Dead) is more useful, if you can find it. This find will also allow you to add You also get a Talkative Skeleton to join your camp. You can also trader with him; he can around 2,000g and sells vivify scrolls.
Edowin and the Owlbear
Edowin has a broken spear shaft, the other half is still stuck in the Owlbear that killed him. If you combine the two halves, you get an enchanted spear that does extra damage to spiders.
Whether you kill the poor Owlbear is down to your conscience, but goblins will kill her later anyway. There is enchanted leather armour in the Owlbear cave too, but she’ll attack if you try to find it. A carefully placed fog cloud can help here.
Also in the cave is a Handcrafted Pendant, enchanted with Writhing Dance, which can protect against attacks of opportunity.
There is a spider egg sac, and also a very handy Rusty Necklace, enchanted with a divination cantrip. Essentially, +1d4 to many check rolls.
Don’t forget to look for and rescue Scratch, your canine camp follower.
Under ‘examine everything’ – I also found a +1 dagger stuck in a joint of meat.
The Blighted Village of Moonhaven
The first stop is the Ogres. You can kill and loot them, the circlet of intelligence (18) is nice – or you can recruit them to your cause. The smart money is to recruit them; you can loot them if they die fighting for you, until then, in Act One (and possibly early Act 2), having three ogres for hire to fight for you is a game-changer. Note that you can only call on them three times, make them count.
Alchemy shop and hidden laboratory
An exploration uncovered a longbow and several magic scrolls:
Shield of Faith
Down the well, but first…
Before venturing down here, if you haven’t already slaughtered the poor, maimed Owlbear that was only trying to protect her baby (#NotJudging), return to the cave and you should find the goblins have done the evil deed for you, stealing your XP in the process.
Still, it’s now safer to explore the Owlbear Cave, where you’ll find the broken spearhead and a decent medium armour chest, The Oakfater’s Embrace. Undead attacking suffer 1d6. However, if beasts attacking the wearing do 1d6 extra damage.
Combine the broken spear staff and broken spearhead to get Vision of the Absolute, enchanted for ‘Absolute Night’ (regular foes may be blinded, multi-eyed foes like spiders take an extra 2d6 damage). This could come in handy shortly!
The Whispering Depth’s offer a safely accessible pair of Spiderstep boots, along with a handful of scrolls:
Armour of Agathys
Venturing deeper the fights can start to get ugly, but can get you the Poisoner’s Robe which adds 1d4 to all your poison spells (to Ray of Sickness, then!)
You’ll also be able to discover a quest item (Dark Amethyst), unlock a portal and find your way into the village’s smithy, where you’ll find a few recipes for later and +1 Steelforged shortsword.
Tollhouse and Risen Road, then Waukeens Rest
At this point, I don’t need to focus on the quests, but unlocking the portals and traders is useful, and there’s some free loot to be had, so, Tollhouse first.
Risen Road Tollhouse
Added Risen Road portal and explored the tollhouse, in a friendly matter. Looting yielded plate gloves and helm for the gith, Lae’zel, +1 greataxe, and a scroll of cure wounds. Trading takes the parties gold to just under 3,000g, with all spells found learnt by the mage. By now I already have a further 2,500g worth of gems and jewellery, plus sundry items stored in camp.
The trader here, Cyrel, offers a selection of potions (including Hill Giant Strength), arrows (ice, fire and darkness), scrolls (including Mirror Image) and sells a few other interesting items like holy water (2d6 vs undead) and bombs.
If you are the homicidal type, depending who you believe, you can slaughter the adventurers in the Tollhouse, looting all the traders stock, plus the Sword of Justice, a 2d6+1 greatsword granting a level one spell: Tyr’s Protection. I didn’t take sides, but one’s a badly injured tiefling, the other is a group of Tyr’s finest that are OK with using poison and want you to behead someone for them. (Tyr being an honourable, lawful good deity).
Beyond this, there are a few potential battles around here but I’m going to around them for now. In this general vicinity, though – again without drawing aggro if you are careful – are a couple of arrows and a heavy crossbow.
Also, in the Risen Road is an enchanted mace (to be won in battle) and, if you look carefully, a Smuggler’s Ring.
Another area, another portal. Exploration and a help quest in the village yielded scrolls of colour spray and fog cloud and a loot reward of either Circlet of Fire, or a Glowing Shield. The circlet offers ‘Fiery Return’, which allow a bonus action after a fire spell (not cantrip). Useful in the long term. The shield had ‘Living Protection’, which, once per short rest, grants 8 temporary HP if you fall below 50%. There’s also a faded Drow armour which is equal to a +1 padded armour, so better than Asterian had.
Bearing in mind, aside from the ship, I have avoided most possible confrontation (e.g. owlbears, goblins, gnolls, paladins, Gith patrol, hag…) and haven’t even reached the main goblin camp or Underdark – my characters are already level-capped.
As well as another portal, the hideout has another trader, Brem. Unfortunately, you have to get on the right side of his boss to get access to ‘the good stuff’. It is possible to complete the quest without pulling aggro (e.g. stealth), or you can join the fracas.
I was at level 4 by this point.
However, if you take this detour, involving an artefact, gnolls and a missing caravan. it also rewarded a +2 mace, Shattered Flail, enchanted with Yeenoghu’s Gift:
“Dealing damage with this weapon heals the wielder for 1d6 hit points and instils them with an insatiable hunger – they can go Mad if they do not deal damage each turn”. Good for Shadowheart, as long as she doesn’t miss much!
As for Brem’s good stuff, I wasn’t impressed. Studded Armour +1, and a handful of +1 weapons (dagger, glaive, rapier and longbow).
There’s also a painter to free – for a price. It’s more trouble than it’s worth, but you can try to free him by killing all the Zhentarim. The story is cut short in early access, but I freed him anyway. Good for 80 XP if you needed it. It’s more trouble than it’s worth, but you can try to free him by killing all the Zhentarim. I prefer to stay on the good side of the Zhents, myself!
Giving this place a wide berth, for now. There are a few nice items, but it’s a tough area and Underdark items make it easier. Plus Asterian is kicking up a fuss about all the running water!
I will explore this area again later. There is a mushroom waypoint portal here from the arcane tower in the Underdark; shame the tower lacks a portal though.
Rather than the riskier front entrance, I used a back entrance and sauntered into the camp. Once you are in, unless you attack or steal, you are treated as if you belong there unless you attack or steal. You are a true soul, after all. Right? As a drow I can just stroll straight it, other races are not met with such grovelling deference.
Grat the Trader
Sells healing potions and a few +1 weapons (Greatsword, War pick, Greataxe and Greatclub). He also sells Boots of Aid and Comfort, but this appear to do nothing, so maybe it’s something they’ll add to later.
As a random thought, I have to question the morality of my ‘local hero’ selling arms and armour to a goblin raider…
Besides slaughtering goblins and their allies, there’s Volo to free (eventually), an Owlbear companion to rescue for your camp (eventually) and other tasks. As my party consists of an acquisitive Drow, a cleric of Shar, a blood-thirsty Gith and a Vampire, it’s not really for us to judge good and evil. Or get ourselves killed.
There are one or two items to be had if you want to slaughter the camp, the most interesting one being a ring of movement (+3m).
Inside the sanctum are more to hit and a selection of drops, particularly from the bosses, but as I want to keep the trader alive at this point, I’ll play nice.
Roah Moonglow, Halfling trader
Nothing outstanding, but the best general selection of goods so far. Metallic gloves, boots and helm, potions (including potions of Aniimal Speaking and Invisibility), a few scrolls (including Heat Metal), a +1 chainmail shirt, and a few +1 weapons, including a halberd, heavy crossbow and trident.
Exploring further – while still careful not to aggravate – there are more scrolls (including Hold Person) and the Ring of Poison Resistance I mentioned earlier. There’s also a well-hidden area in the sanctum, but at present, there’s nothing in there. Good to remember for the future.
It is actually possible to discretely kill most of the camp, but killing bosses tends to trigger a whole lot of hostility.
I did have a bug where Volo was not in his cage, going back to an earlier save and playing up to that point sorted it. Once you free the bard and he joins your camp you can trade with him, as an option. He has potions of animal speaking and a ring, The Whispering Promise (when healing a creature it also receives 1d4 to attack rolls and saving throws).
Also freed the tortured prisoner, but realistically that would blow your cover completely. I’d have added an option to accidentally or discretely poison him to put him out of his misery. Or you can just murder him.
You can loot the bosses treasure and the Zhent stash without getting caught too. This nets you around 4,000g, a rare amulet you can feed to Gale (or not) and the Helmet of Grit which give +1 to dexterity saving throws and add action bonus is the wearer is below 50% HP.
At this point, besides Crusher’s ring, there is a rather tempting reason to slaughter all the bosses: Wapira’s Crown. I’m not clearing as I want to leave a few people alive and killing the bosses turns them aggro, but for saving the tieflings you can get this reward. Being nice, I always told them no reward is necessary, but that’s maybe not the best idea as:
When Zevlor offers you gold from the Tiefling refugee collection, you must accept and thank him. If you reject it, you also reject the Helmet.
If you heal someone, you gain 1d6 too, so it’s desirable.
Still, if you want to try, Minthara’s loot includes a mace, Xyanyde (can apply Faerie fire on hit) and the Amulet of Misty Step, giving you the step of the same name. There’s also a Blur scroll on the table there.
Can be killed without turning the entire camp against you.
Gut, the high priestess, has a decent if ugly enchanted shield and a Absolute’s Talisman with a handy enchant: when the wearer has less than 25% of their health left and deals damage, they regain 1d8 HP.
Have to be careful with this fight or it spills over and the whole camp can turn against you.
Raglzin has a rare warhammer, but little else of interest.
Killing him automatically turns the entire camp (and traders) hostile.
Polma and beyond
Interestingly, the potions scrolls you find in this area are random treasures. It could be Misty Step, or Flame Blade, or Blur or something like Heat Metal – or some old bones!
You can steal the treasure using stealth. However, getting past her to the Underdark seems to require invisibility.
Easier and quicker (and cheaper) just to dispose of her, after all, she’s seen you sneaking around the high priestess’ private quarters, your cover is blown!
Entering the Underdark
Underground fort: Selunite Outpost
Offers another portal, a couple of scrolls (aid, plus random e.g. Barkskin), and another heavy crossbow. Staging area rather than anything more.
Nearby, the bulette will keep popping up. When you get around to killing it (it does run away a lot) it has a Slippery Chain Shirt that’s decent for Shadowheart.
A greater concern is the minotaurs. I suggest you avoid them for now.
Avoid the minotaurs and make directly for the myconid colony to the west. Several reasons, including a portal, quests, a new and fifth party member while in the Underdark (Glut) and two new traders with useful goods.
Unfortunately, Glut can’t leave the Underdark and you can’t camp with him in the party. However, if you do need to camp, he’ll leave and wait for you in the colony, along with which every creature he’s controlling. You can now have a party of 6, plus any pet minions, plus others like the Ogres you can summon if need be. Being able to camp, you can heal Glut and keep kill alive while you explore most of the Act I Underdark.
Now’s a good time to get your Warlock or highest charisma character. Your gold stash is likely to take a hit and you want all the discounts you can get! I dropped a chest of my own there and put all the wares into it for selling as required. I keep spare sussur bloom in the chest too, nicely shielded.
The Sapphire Spark (adds 1d4 psychic damage to magic missiles, doubling their 100% chance to hit damage).
Sunwalker’s Gift (dispels shadows, so a ring of light)
Circlet of Blasting, (grants the level 2 spell: Scorching Ray)
He also has a couple of spell scrolls, including Barkskin and Prayer of Healing
Derryth Bonecloak sells:
+1 ranged weapons (light crossbow, short bow, longbow)
Herbalist’s Gloves, enchanted with Cleansing Touch (cure poison).
She also sells potions and bombs.
She also wants you to find her useless husband, plus (undisclosed) find a rare mushroom. Note that if acquire and you hand over the Noblestalk she’s after, she packs up and leaves, so don’t hand it over until you are ready for the next act (whenever that is). There is no reward for this – but it appears it will be repaid in later acts.
If you are struggling to rescue Baelen (let alone find magic mushroom) I’ve done a video for that too, but do try yourself first. Find the mushroom picker. The quest gives good XP and rewards a choice of enchanted gloves.
In the Myconid area, including quest rewards, there’s a scroll of Blindness, and Shadow of Menzoberranzan, which shrouds the user in shadow. You can also gain Boots of Speed (grants a bonus action), but someone will want them back, later. (Act 2).
Near to the colony is a Shortsword of Firstblood, granting Break the Unbroken (+1d8 slashing if target it at full health).
Behind the Fort
This is the area with the petrified drow – and other surprises you are warned about (if you read the journals).
Best tactics, go slow, save often, smash the statues (You still get full XP and they return to flesh form for you to loot). There’s nothing much of great interest here, in all, but you can find a frayed drow hood (dexterity saving throw +1) on the floor and a scroll of Disguise Self, around 1,000g and weapons and armour to sell from bodies.
Festering Cove Kuo-toa camp
Elsewhere is a well-hidden kuo-toa camp. On the way you can find the helmet of automony (proficiency in wisdom saving throws).
You can also get the Sickle of BOOOAL (1d4 plus advantage against bleeding targets). Few ways this can go, depending on the dialogue and your actions. Violence isn’t the only answer to everything. If you take the weapon by force it loses its magic. Regardless, you can’t feed it to Gale.
As a conversation option observes, Boooal is the kuo-toa pronunciation of Bhaal. In lore, if not in the game:
The subconscious energy of belief of enough kuo-toa simultaneously was actually capable of causing the entity to manifest in reality.
Makes you wonder if – perhaps – having the creatures worship you instead of – other options – plays out later on.
You can take a safer, more direct route, or skirt around the statuesque drow above and see what pops up!
In this area and on the way there, you can find a Drow Studded Leather Armour.
You can work it out for yourself, or watch a video I prepared on how best to access the tower. For good reason, it’s entitled ‘The Arcane Tower: where fools rush in
Outside the tower is a +1 Light Hammer that grants Searing Smite.
Within the tower loot includes several scrolls, Mystra Grace (boots granting Feather Fall).
Upstairs you’ll eventually encounter Bernand and associates. Fighting can be avoided and you can still get most of the loot, including a magic ring Guiding Light (Grants the Light cantrip) that helps unlock a hidden area, more scrolls, and the Staff of Arcane Blessing (grants Mystra’s Blessing, once per long rest:
“Bless grants an additional 1d4 to saving throws and normal attacks, and an additional 2d4 to spells using attack rolls”.
Just read the books, save often, talk. Of course, if you are homicidal or loot crazed, Bernard is wielding the Light of Creation, a polearm doing 1d12+1 plus 1d6 lightning. However, it can stun the wielder in battle, so is not without risk.
There’s also a Club of Hill Giant Strength from a stool. I’d have rather keep the fun stool, but you can’t take it with you. Besides, the club gives you a strength of 15, which is useful, if only for carrying more loot.
Decrepit Village and Hostile Duegar
Another area, another portal.
You will depart Act 1 from a raft here – eventually. For now, it’s good to just save and watch the cut scene. It’s not what you might expect. Well worth it!
In the ruined deepgnome village is a group of duergar. The way you approach the area, the dark dwarves and indeed your race affects the outcome. You can side with them or not. If not, along with a few scrolls, you’ll find one of the them has an Exterminator’s Axe (1d12 plus 1d6 fire vs plants and insects).
Another portal here, and hook horrors, and a mad mage that drops a few scrolls (e.g. Blur, Hold Person). If you are making a Sussur weapon, you are looking for the bark, not the flowers. It can be hard to find but actually, the map tells you exactly where it is, up the tree. Look where the diamond square is on the minimap. It’s precisely there.
Crafting the sussur weapon: It is not intuitive!
Portal to the Blighted Village and its blacksmith forge.
Light the forge and click the + to add the bark.
Then close the window and repeat, adding the weapon.
The +1 sussar weapon silences the target on hit. It’s the sort of weapon you might like fighting a Hag, for instance.
Harder fights: Firing bullets at Minotaurs and Hook Horrors
There are lots of ways to deal with the minotaurs, starting with avoiding them. You can fight them fairly, or lure the bulette to them and leave them to it. You can kill one, resurrect it to right on your side and have it kill the other one. Or you can kill the bulette, resurrect that, and have that fight for you. Unfortunately, it gets stuck a lot, due to its monstrous size, so it is not as ideal as it sounds. No reason you can’t take a hook horror the same way.
The sad thing, if you read all the in-game hints, is the poor bulette was once the pet of the owner of the Arcane tower, a replacement for her beloved dog. Poor thing, left all alone in the Underdark, its ‘mother’ gone (presumed dead) and it was just running around trying to find its mum – until you kill it (and maybe turn it into a myconid zombie). Shame on you!
I doff my cap…
I realised I had reached the imposed hard cap just after killing the Duergar in the Underdark. This was at 2,300 XP, around halfway to level 5).
At this point, I still have a number of Underdark quests to hand in, all the Goblin bosses and camp to do, the Hag and all of the swamp, the Gith patrol, Tyr mercenaries, all the gnolls, and a few other quests.
*Twiddles thumbs, waiting for more content and the removal of the cap.*
Curious to see what XP was left, I did a little more exploring.
The fetid swamps to the south offer little loot value but are good for around 600 to 700 XP (so many mephits!)
However, the real reason to visit the swamps and Riverside Teahouse is Auntie Ethel. The Hag and her minions are good for another 350 XP, plus more if you free anyone. Loot rewards include the staff Corellon’s Grace, first seen for sale in the druid camp, The Ever-seeing Eye amulet, with grants protection for good and evil once per short rest (lasts until long rest) and the Staff of Crones which grants level 1 Ray of Sickness (unlimited casts at 2d8 poisoning, stacks with +1d4 from the Poisoner’s Robe).
The Gith patrol near Wakeen’s Rest depends on how you approach it, and with whom. You can talk your way out of it, fight up close (and probably die) or get creative. Dead, they are good for several +1 weapons (shortsword, longsword, greatsword and heavy crossbow). Done right it’s easy – even without cheesing or barrels, or even summoning the Ogres to fight with you. Good for another 200 XP or so.
Cap out of the way, these would take me to around 3,500 XP, with easily enough XP from the gnolls, goblin camp, Underdark hand-ins and Tollhouse to reach level 5 before getting on the skip to Act II (whenever that it).
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