The Musical Merchant

The companion quest for Aldiirn. It may contain differences to Aldiirn as a tav (as in the comics), notably:

  • Companion Aldiirn's background is Guild Artisan instead of Acolyte
  • Companion Aldiirn is panromantic instead of gay/demi.

Act 1

Recruitment

Aldiirn can first be found at the Chapel Entrance negotiating with the looters. The looters threaten to take everything Aldiirn has, while he tries to explain he has nothing but there must have been valuables aboard the crashed mindflayer ship that are now strewn all over the beach.

  1. Announce yourself.
    1. Aldiirn’s tadpole will commune with the player’s. They get glimpses of dark, beautiful caves, faces turning away, irritability at the sun, the nautiloid reaching down for two figures in front of him. This leads to recognising each other as crash survivors, but the looters don't like the presence of the newcomers.
      1. The player can make checks to convince the looters to leave as normal, including backing up Aldiirn's claims that there's loot to be had at the crash site.
      2. Attack. The looters turn hostile and engage the part in combat. Aldiirn will ally with the player.
  2. [Stealth] Remain hidden.
    1. Success: Aldiirn convinces the looters that better loot is to be had at the crash site and offers to escort them. Violence isn't necessary! Aldiirn and the looters leave.
    2. Failure: Leads to 1-1.
  3. Attack.
    1. The looters turn hostile and engage the part in combat. Aldiirn will flee.

Aldiirn is most grateful if the player resolves the situation with diplomacy, and will not be impressed if the player takes the opportunity to shake him down after. If Aldiirn flees or leaves, or the player skips the Chapel, he can later be found at the Emerald Grove talking with Aron about recent supply chain disruptions.

When the situation is calm, Aldiirn will introduce himself as a merchant and offer his skills in negotiating and trade - and that he knows a few helpful magic tricks, but he prefers to be away from the thick of fighting. He was in Baldur’s Gate on a trades mission with two of his fellow guildsmen and asks if the player has seen any other half-drow survivors or dead amongst the wreckage. If the player expresses doubt, Aldiirn will ask to search the crash site. Otherwise he joins in the party in hopes of reuniting with his fellows at the Gate.

Interactions

Aldiirn is amiable and presents himself as a surface trader trying to prove himself good and not beholden to his evil heritage. Though in how he talks about himself, he doesn't often give direct or full answers or evades by suggesting talking at a later time.

  1. What business does a drow have in Baldur’s Gate?
    1. Aldiirn: I’m only half drow, please don’t let reputation colour your perception of me. I was in Baldur’s Gate to negotiate a trade deal on behalf of my guild.
  2. What Guild are you with?
    1. Aldiirn: We’re actually new to this region! We build bridges so to say, connecting clients and delivering goods on their behalf.
      1. Sounds more like a glorified postal worker.
        1. Aldiirn: I prefer the term courier!
  3. That scar on your face, how would a merchant get such a mark?
    1. Aldiirn: There are many people who take offense to my lineage. They only see what I am no matter what I do to overcome it. I do hope you’ll see me for who I am.

If the player is a Lolth-sworn female, Aldiirn will act much more reserved and nervous and refer to the player as “mistress.” Seldarine drow will find that Aldiirn is glad to meet those who reject Lolth's ways.

Any female player gains situational advantage on intimidation rolls to influence Aldiirn.

Approval

Aldiirn approves of skillful persuasion and deception especially to avoid violence, standing up against discrimination, making smart deals, and building connections. He is loyal to his merchant clan and will approve of actions that aid them and other ways of keeping trade alive in the realm. He will be especially mindful of how the player reacts towards drow and other peoples of the Underdark.

He abhors violence as he sees it as a failure of negotiation. Blind obedience to doctrine, especially following the ways of Lolth, will earn his disapproval. He prefers discretion and may disapprove of the player giving too much trust to those they don't know the intentions of.

Tiefling Party

Aldiirn can be found performing for the tieflings, alongside Alfira if she is alive. He’ll confess to being shy of the spotlight but feeling energised by having made a difference for the tieflings. He usually performs more melancholic songs for just himself, but he’s picked up some jaunty tunes for occasion like this.

If the player's approval is high enough, Aldiirn will ask if the player wishes to hear some of his compositions when the festivities have died down, beginning his romance.

Goblin Party

Aldiirn will be in a resigned mood away from the festivities. Aldiirn expresses that he wishes the outcome could have been different but “might makes right” all too often. He will stay with the party by default, but the player can choose to call him weak and force him out of the party.

Aldiirn will not spend the night with the player at the goblin party.

Waukeem’s Rest

At Waukeem’s Rest, the player can find an Iaurrhen Crest on a dead drow body. Aldiirn will recognise it with confusion and alarm, but must be persuaded to explain why. He explains that Iaurrhen is the name of his merchant clan - drow merchant clan. But it's not like Lolth-sworn clans! Iaurrhen aims to build connections and unite the Underdark through fair trade, providing an alternative to the survival of the fittest and tribal attitudes many cultures have. Surface raids are not part of Iaurrhen’s ways. Part of the reason Aldiirn was sent to the region was to look for his missing fellows, and he doesn’t know what would make them act so aggressively.

The dead drow can be spoken to with Speak With Dead. He reveals he was acting under the Absolute’s orders, which has Aldiirn worried that all the missing couriers might have been converted.

If the player doesn't find out about Iaurrhen, Aldiirn simply asks that they keep an eye out for the crest.

Underdark

Aldiirn expresses joy at returning to the Underdark, his home. If he hasn’t revealed his true feelings about his heritage yet, he will apologise for hiding it. He’s used to going to the World Above for business and it’s much easier to convince people that he’s a poor abused half-drow trying to overcome his evil lineage. Which he is, but it’s more about rejecting Lolth and less about being drow.

If in the party, Aldiirn will give ambient banter on the types of fungi and creatures encountered. Notably, he encourages the party to walk towards a timmask mushroom, and laughs if they fall for the prank. Having him in the party also makes for easier social interactions with other Underdark peoples.

Special Delivery

Aldiirn's companion subquest, Special Delivery, begins on visiting an isolated residence in the Underdark. The sole inhabitant is frail old woman who hasn't received correspondence from her friend near Reithwin Town for ages and believes that the couriers she's hired aren't delivering her letters. She asks the players to deliver a letter and make sure it gets there. Aldiirn accepts the order, and will beg to take it on if the player interjects that there's no time for side jobs. Investigating the old woman's house reveals that the last correspondence from her friend was over 100 years ago. No payment or reward is offered or can be extorted, as the woman has nothing of value.

If Aldiirn isn't present, the woman insists she will only trust a professional courier to take on the job.

Society of Brilliance

Aldiirn scoffs at Blurg and Omeluum. He believes the Society of Brilliance wants to make the Underdark more like the surface, rather than appreciate the caverns' dangerous beauty as-is. Aldiirn would rather see the Underdark be made more welcoming by changing peoples’ attitudes, so they can lift up each other when difficult times arise.

Aldiirn likewise cautions about Lady Esther on the path to Rosymorn Monastery. The society pays well for rare materials and artefacts, but it never does well to trade in sapient beings.

Grymforge

Couriers

Iaurrhen couriers can be found at the elevator leading to the Shadow-cursed Lands, leading a small caravan to Moonrise Towers. Before Aldiirn can question them, a tadpole connection is made, revealing that they are all controlled by the Absolute. They say Absolute has promised the unity that Iaurrhen has failed to achieve, and it will spread to the rest of the Underdark in due time. The couriers will leave immediately after the conversation, with a warning that True Soul Nere has the only other Moonlantern. The party can choose to follow to Moonrise or remain in Grymforge.

If the player does not engage with the couriers, they will move on if Nere dies or is freed from the cave-in.

Aldiirn is disturbed at discovering the fate of the missing couriers. It had been assumed that Throrgar, a massive cavern with portals to the Abyss, was active and causing danger, but now it's obvious that the Absolute has been recruiting everyone it can find in the Underdark. The party will need to find a way to cure every True Soul of their tadpole, not just their own. Aldiirn prays the two fellows who accompanied him to Baldur's Gate are there, and not delivered to the Absolute by way of the Nautiloid.

Duergar Revolt

The duergar will mock Aldiirn as a half breed with surface stink who became a true soul just to fit in with the real drow. Aldiirn will be unhappy and the player can choose to encourage him to stand up for himself. Successfully doing so will spur Aldiirn to goad the duergar into fighting amongst themselves for gold, thinning their ranks and making a combat encounter with Nere much easier.

Camp

Dream Visitor & Tadpole

Aldiirn is cautious of the dream visitor as grand gestures usually come with great expectations. It would be easier if he knew what the visitor wanted - everyone wants something, and knowing what it is gives negotiating power. Aldiirn is hesitant to use tadpoles unless convinced.

Raphael's Deal

Aldiirn cautions against taking Raphael's deal, as one must always read the fine print when signing any contract - and devils' contracts come with lots and lots of fine print.

Iaurrhen

Once the clan has become known to the player, Aldiirn will tell them more about Iaurrhen’s structure and goals. Aldiirn fervently believes in the clan's goals to unify the Underdark and does his small part to help. As a half-drow, he uses his better sunlight tolerance to run deliveries to and from the surface, but is also sometimes held back by inferior darkvision underground.

Aldiirn will also elaborate that he and two other couriers were sent to Baldur's Gate to investigate why many couriers in the region had gone missing. The two were also half-drow and close friends, all chosen for the order because they could travel overland to start the investigation from above. Given that no sign of his friends were found at the crash site, Aldiirn must believe that they are still in Baldur's Gate.

Negotiating Tips

Aldiirn offers a lesson in haggling, including his greatest weapon: big ol’ watery eyes. He claims that most topsiders have an overwhelming urge to care for the weak and triggering it gets his way every time. Even if the target isn’t the sympathetic sort, it will either get their guard down so they don’t suspect you of being capable of anything nefarious or it will get aggressive types to back off as they won’t gain credit for beating up a weakling. If the player says his tactics feel a little underhanded, Aldiirn refutes that no one gets hurt and any discounts he gets for his clients mean more of a tip for him.

Romance

During a long rest, the player will overhear music on the wind. It sounds like a flute, ethereal and haunting, lonely and yearning. Aldiirn isn't in his bedroll, and the player can surmise he's playing outside of camp and follow.

The player finds Aldiirn performing and can choose to let him finish the song or interrupt. He will be embarrassed at being caught, stating it's something personal he does to center his mind and calm his nerves. Drow, Half-Drow, and Clerics of Eilistraee recognise the performance as Evensong, but Aldiirn denies it, stating he doesn't worship a drow goddess.

Aldiirn will invite the player to sit and talk since they're both still awake and Aldiirn prefers night to day anyway. The Player can pry that Aldiirn has not said much about where he's from, to which he said he was rejected left it behind. Even as his mercantile travels have lead him far and wide, high and low, it's difficult to find a place accepting of a half-drow - he's either seen as pure evil or something weak and pathetic. Always the other. A passive insight check informs the player that the weariness is real, he's still not saying everything.

The scene plays slightly different if his work with Iaurrhen is already known, with no passive insight as Aldiirn will be up front about wishing that he fit in with Underdark societies. Half-drow and tiefling players can commiserate with experiencing discrimination, and drow players have some unique lines as well.

The player can reassure Aldiirn or confirm his woes:

  1. I see a five-star merchant!
  2. I see someone who's lonely despite bringing everyone together.
  3. [Seldarine][Cleric of Eilistraee] I see a man of two worlds who's not let hardship harden his heart.
  4. I see those cruel drow eyes. Cover it up all you want, evil is in your nature.
  5. [Lolth-sworn] I see a weakling of impure blood. Had you been born in the Underdark, you would have been culled.
  6. We all deal with racism, get over it.

Any of the first three options will lift Aldiirn's mood and progress the romance. He'll be glad that he has finally met someone who sees past his lineage.

Aldiirn apologises for bringing the mood down, and offers to play a more lively tune or lullaby to send the player to sleep. The player can accept, leave, or press for spending the night together since they're already alone outside of camp. Aldiirn will baulk at the last option, saying he's flattered but very tired after a long day - maybe some other time.

Rejecting Aldiirn for his lineage - or hiding his true feelings - at any point will end the scene and possibility of romance.

Music Lessons

Similar to Alfira, Aldiirn offers to teach the player Musical Instrument Proficiency, or they can create a song together.

The player can take the opportunity to question why Aldiirn doesn't perform as a career, and that surely he could have his pick of suitors as a bard. Aldiirn answers that being a courier has its own rewards and he doesn't like the attention of the spotlight.

If romanced, the player can also press that they've enjoyed spending more time with Aldiirn and hearing more of his performances, but are surprised he hasn't made a move. Aldiirn makes excuses about long adventuring days and the time just never being right - but does, with concern, ask if it's been a problem for the player.

  1. No, not at all, just surprising. Even with the scar you're cute, I thought someone would have you by now.
    1. Aldiirn: Oh! Well you should know I'm cute and very hard to catch!
  2. Yeah, I have to say I like a more active relationship.
    1. Aldiirn: I'm sorry then… maybe soon? A day I'm not drained of all my casting by the end.

Answering yes or no allows the romance to continue.

Act 2

To be continued!

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