Bard Stronghold
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After rescuing Haer'Dalis from the Planar Prison, you'll be given the playhouse in the basement of the Five Flagons Inn in the Bridge District (assuming that you're playing a bard). When you return to the playhouse after your time in the prison, you'll meet Higgold, a director from Calimport. He'll agree to run the playhouse for you, and he'll quickly rush off to find some actors and a suitable script.

A few days later when you return to the playhouse, Higgold will reveal that he's chosen the play "The Sorcerer's Bane," and that he's also collected a troupe of actors. However, while talking to Higgold and the actors, you'll learn that the actors are superstitious about the play and consider it to be cursed, and so they'll only call is "the Turmish play." (This is a reference to Shakespeare's MacBeth, where actors consider it bad luck to say "MacBeth" other than where it appears in the script, and so they call it "the Scottish play.")

While you're the owner of the playhouse, you'll have to make several decisions about the play. These decisions will affect the Play Quality (PQ). Your goal is to increase the PQ as much as possible, as this will increase your reward at the end, and also affect how much income you'll receive from the playhouse.

You'll make your first two decisions right away. After that, you'll have to wait three or more days for each one, and you'll be notified by a messenger named Meck when you're needed at the playhouse. Waiting for Meck usually isn't necessary, though. You can simply return to the playhouse every few days to see how things are going, and to make any necessary decisions. If Meck summons you, though, then you should return to the playhouse right away, as waiting too long will hurt the PQ.

The decisions are described below.

Decision 1: Actress Choice

You'll have to decide which actress should play the female lead in the play: the veteran actress Iltheia or the ingenue Jenna. Higgold will tell you that Iltheia is a diva but the better actress, while Jenna doesn't have as much experience but is perfect for the role. Either actress will get the job done, but Iltheia will give you a higher PQ (5 versus 3).

Decision 2: Investment Amount

Higgold will ask you how much you'd like to invest in the play. If you choose not to invest, then you'll only earn half profits. Otherwise, the more you invest, the more money you'll make from the performances. This decision won't affect the PQ.

Decision 3: Actresses Bickering

Jenna and Iltheia won't be getting along, and Iltheia will either want more money (if you gave her the lead) or a bigger role (if you didn't). For the former case, you should give Iltheia 500 gp extra. This will earn you +1 PQ and 11,500 xp. For the latter case, you should chastise Iltheia for wanting more. This will earn you +1 PQ and 15,750 xp. Whatever you do, don't tell the actresses to settle the matter themselves. This will reduce the PQ by 2.

Decision 4: Zaren Improvising

Zaren will tell you that he could improve the play if he were allowed to rewrite his lines. He's correct. If you allow Zaren to make changes to the script, then you'll earn +2 PQ and 15,750 xp. If you allow Zaren to improvise his lines, then you'll earn +1 PQ and 11,500 xp. If you tell Zaren to keep to the original script, then you'll lose 1 PQ.

Decision 5: Finishing the Script

When you return to the playhouse this time, you'll learn that Zaren (if you supported him earlier) or some of the other performers (otherwise) keep coming up with new ways to tinker with the script, and that other cast members now just want the script to be finished so they can actually start rehearsing. You'll have three ways to improve the PQ:
  • If you have 17 Charisma, then you can tell the cast to believe in Zaren's changes (if you supported him earlier) or to just use the script as it is now (otherwise).

  • You can pay the cast 500 gp.

  • If you have 18 Charisma, then you can create the final version of the script yourself.
If your decision improves the script, then you'll earn +1 PQ and 11,500 xp. Otherwise, you'll reduce the PQ by 1 or 2, and you won't earn any xp. So by watching the xp, you'll be able to tell right away if you made a good choice.

Decision 6: Removing the Curse

Higgold will inform you that "strange things" have been happening at the playhouse lately, and that the cast thinks it's because of the curse. So he'll introduce you to Shvanana, a Turmish priestess. She'll ask you for 1000 gp to sanctify the production. You'll have two ways to improve the PQ:
  • You can pay Shvanana 1000 gp. With 17 Charisma, you can reduce this amount to 500 gp.

  • If you have less than 500 gp but 18 Charisma, then you can tell Shvanana that you can't afford her.
If you improve the mood around the playhouse, then you'll earn +1 PQ and 11,500 xp. Otherwise, you'll reduce the PQ by 1 or 2, and you won't earn any xp. So just like with the previous decision, you'll be able to tell if you made a good choice by watching the xp reward

Decision 7: Replacing the Musician

Higgold will tell you that the musician he hired for the play has disappeared -- and that he took the score with him. You'll have three options for how to remedy this problem:
  • You can hire Balmitance the harpist for 500 gp. This will earn you +3 PQ and 15,500 xp.

  • You can let Marcus play the harp and create a new score. This will reduce the PQ by 2.

  • You can write the score yourself and let Marcus play it. If your Intelligence is less than 16, then you'll reduce the PQ by 1. If your Intelligence is 16 or 17, then the PQ will remain the same, and you'll earn 6750 xp. If your Intelligence is 18, then you'll earn +1 PQ and 11,500 xp. If your Intelligence is over 18, then you'll earn +2 PQ and 15,500 xp.
Intermission: Fighting the Barbarians

A week or so later, Meck the messenger will show up and let you know that barbarians have invaded the playhouse. This is one of the few times during the bard stronghold questline where meeting Meck is required. We've only seen Meck appear in the Bridge District, but it's possible that he'll show up anywhere.

When you enter the Five Flagons Inn, you'll run into Higgold by the staircase leading to the playhouse. He'll give you roughly the same message as Meck, except he'll reveal that the "Turmish fanatics" are trying to stop the play by any means necessary.

Inside the playhouse, you'll encounter a Turmish leader, a Turmish thief, two Turmish thugs, and a Turmish sorceress. You'll earn 13,300 xp for defeating them, and you'll find Bracers of Defense AC 7, Leather Armor +1, a Short Sword +2, Studded Leather Armor +2, and a Two-Handed Sword +1 on their corpses.

After the battle, Higgold will enter the playhouse, and he'll tell you that the troupe is just about ready for a dress rehearsal. This conversation will earn you 15,500 xp.

Dress Rehearsal

When you return to the playhouse the next day, you'll get to watch a dress rehearsal for the play. You won't need to do anything for this, but you should pay attention to Zaren's lines, since you'll need to know them later. Afterwards, Higgold will tell you that opening night is still over a week away, but he's wrong. You won't have to wait nearly that long.

Opening Night

Three days later, Meck will find you again, and this time he'll inform you that there's an "opening night emergency" at the playhouse. When you arrive, Higgold will tell you that councilmember Pehllus Tanislove is going to watch the play (good), but that Zaren is too sick to perform (bad). That means you'll have to play Zaren's part yourself, even if you're female. If you refuse this assignment, then the playhouse will close, and Samuel Thunderburp (the proprietor of the Five Flagons Inn) will buy it from you for 5000 gp.

Assuming you accept the role, you'll automatically appear on stage, and you'll have to recite several of Zaren's lines -- which hopefully you remember from the dress rehearsal. If not, the correct responses are 2-1-1-1-2-1-2-1-2-1.

At the end of the play, Tanislove will stand up and rate your performance:
  • If you got more than 7 of the lines correct, then you'll earn 49,500 xp, and Tanislove will give you Azlaer's Harp.

  • If you got between 4 and 7 of the lines correct, then you'll earn 35,500 xp.

  • If you got fewer than 4 of the lines correct, then you'll earn 19,500 xp.
Tanislove will then rate the rest of the production:
  • If you had a PQ of at least 10, then you'll earn 50,000 xp.

  • If you had a PQ between 1 and 9, then you'll earn 28,500 xp.

  • If you had a PQ of 0 or less, then you'll earn 19,500 xp.
Finally, if you had a high enough PQ, then Higgold will offer to buy the playhouse from you for 10,000 gp. If you don't accept this offer (or if the offer isn't made to you), then you'll keep the playhouse and earn profits from it each week. This money will go into the chest by the playhouse's entrance. You'll earn at most 1800 gp the first week (depending on the PQ and your investment), but then the amount will drop by 100 gp each payment until you're only earning 500 gp per week.