An unpublished fanfic for Baldur's Gate II. This site grew from a One Note page I had, and I just thought it would be nice to have a version of it that I could write in markup.
As the title implies, this iteration of the Bhaalspawn is a female paladin who struggles to hold on to her ideals and humanity in the face of nearly overwhelming odds. Without being a Sue. This is an attempt at an Original Flavor - style fic, with some reimagining, expanding of perspective, and only a few major deviations from canon. Everything attempts to fall under one of these three categories: 1) It's canon; 2) It's added in by a popular and well-regarded mod; 3) It's possible and plausible based on the setting.
Speaking of mods, I'd also like to give some credit where credit is due (an odd impulse for a fanfic, I know, but hey). Besides the base game, I've also used material from the following mods:
- Banter Packs v. 14
- The BG 1 NPC Project
- IEP Extended Banters v. 4.2 (I like my BioWare NPCs chatty, what can I say)
- Quest Pack
- Unfinished Business
A brief synopsis of each part:
Lidia finds herself in Athkatla, along with two of her closest friends and a mysterious but friendly stranger from Kara-Tur. All she wants to do is rescue Imoen and just generally do good as a paladin should. However, she finds that doing both is impossible: she must either set aside her moral code, or lose her chance to find Imoen. Instead, she chooses to Take a Third Option: she does favors, pulls strings, and eventually gathers a large group of allies to break the power of crime over the city and to rescue Imoen on her own terms. Despite her heroism, the dark power of Bhaal strongly beckons, promising unparalleled strength for a price. Along the way, she has to try to move past the death of her fiance Ajantis, even as a certain cleric of Helm finds himself in way over his head...
Six months after Imoen's arrest, Lidia is finally on her way to Spellhold just before fall sets in, hoping against hope that her friend is still alive. However, as it turns out, finding Imoen was the easy part. After Irenicus steals her soul, she is forced to directly confront the darkness inside her; it threatens to destroy her relationships, her will, and her humanity.
Even though Lidia has recovered her soul, her life still hasn't gotten any easier. The results of her political meddling in Athkatla are catching up to her; she's trying to restore the team's confidence in her ability to lead them; five powerful Bhaalspawn are threatening massive destruction; an old enemy resurfaces and offers his service. Prophesied events are swiftly moving towards their conclusion. In the face of a revelation about her parentage and a struggle for Bhaal's throne, Lidia must decide what her place in the world will be.
Besides those found in Baldur's Gate II, this fic would add the following tropes (spoilers unmarked):
- Action Girl: Natch. Lidia's class kit is a Cavalier, which means she's exclusively a frontliner.
- All-Loving Hero: She would like to be. As it is, it's downplayed, because circumstances make it impossible for her to resolve all situations peacefully. Her strongest trait is most definitely her compassion, to the point that when she's rude and dismissive to her teammates after the loss of her soul, they instantly know something is wrong.
- Archnemesis Parents: As it turns out, she has to off Mom and Dad both, but doesn't really angst about it.
- Badass Boast: Normally eschews this in favor of Face Death with Dignity, but saves a good one for Melissan:
- "You meant for me to be your weapon, but instead I am refined and honed to run you through!"
- Or the Master Wraith. See Berserk Button.
- Being Good Sucks: Gets hit with this hard, and by the events of To B she Took a Level in Cynic.
- Beneath the Mask: On the surface, she's a calm, capable leader and a selfless hero, who always has time to deal with any problem the city or her teammates can throw at her. Beneath, she's deeply hurting from the loss of Gorion, Imoen, Ajantis, Khalid, and Dynaheir; she's keenly aware that people tend to die around her and would deny herself personal happiness to protect her friends from that; and, if all that wasn't enough, she struggles against the dark impulses of being part murder god, not even finding peace in sleep.
- Berserk Button: If you want to pick a fight with her, she'll try everything else before having to fight you. If you have a disagreement with one of the squad, she'll stand between you and them and offer to find a solution. Just don't try to hurt her by gunning for her teammates, especially Anomen or Imoen. She considers that an act of unparalleled cowardice, and you'll wish you had just confronted her directly because she will end you. Bodhi, the Master Wraith, and possibly Abazigal find this out the hard way.
- Book Dumb: Reflected by her 14 Intelligence (Makes sense, since Mom is a Red Mage). She's sharp-witted and a quick study, but has far too much energy to sit down and examine papers. Unfortunately, in order to rescue Imoen, she's forced to do just that.
- Character Development: She's outright stated to have had a more combative attitude before Gorion's death. By the time we start in BGII, she has come to terms with what she is, and made a conscious effort to change. She is also much more ready to assume the role of a paladin, rather than just being a fighter with some extra perks.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Hit with this hard, and her choice of religion doesn't help matters.
- Combat Pragmatist: Downplayed and subverted. Her fighting style is unconventional and meant to counter opponents stronger than herself, so she will occasionally pull out moves meant to surprise or buy time (knocking people upside the head with her pommel, using a rock, using a Belt of Giant Strength, etc.). She tends to use those methods in fighting evil opponents; when she's sparring against fellow knights, however, she'll tend to fight defensively or redirect their blows to throw them off-balance. Justified in that she was trained by Candlekeep militia, who would have been CombatPragmatists themselves.
- Deceased Parents Are the Best: She and Gorion were very fond of each other, and he encouraged her to spend her considerable energy into a passion for doing good. The whole mess with the Harpers causes her to question his benevolence later, but she considers him her real father in any case. Long after she's become a heroine in her own right, she still refers to herself as "Gorion's Ward."
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: A subtle example — instead of being outright defiant, she'll deflect questions about her feelings and state of mind, and it takes a lot for her to admit that she's hurting.
- Doom Magnet: As par for the course for a Bhaalspawn, she is this. She's sensitive to that, and spends a lot of energy into trying to avert this trope, but isn't always successful.
- Evil Me Scares Me: Upon encountering a version of herself that was never raised by Gorion, she's quite rattled, and finds a lot more sympathy for Sarevok afterwards.
- Expy: She seems to have taken a few pages from two BioWare Red-Headed Heroines: Aribeth and Commander Shepard.
- The Face: Knows a thing or two on how to accomplish what she wants through talking — she can pass any Charisma check one could throw at her. And, in a conscious effort to avoid violence and uphold Martial Pacifist, she becomes something of a Guile Hero — through persuasive words she's often stopped any bloodshed.
- Fearless Fool: Averted. She's a Cavalier, so she's immune to magically induced fear. Her own native fears are something to be reckoned with.
- The Fettered: Deliberately invokes this trope in contrast with her many Unfettered half-brothers and sisters.
- Good Is Not Soft
- Has a Type: Strong, moral, idealistic men dedicated to fighting evil. Lampshaded.Imoen: "Your Bhaal powers apparently include Seduce Handsome Knight."
- Red-Headed Hero: Full-stop—to the point where she's identifiable by it. In fact, this (and the fact that she teleported into Saradush) is how Melissan is tipped off right away to who she is.
- Heroes Prefer Swords: She can handle several different kinds, and later learns to use a katana.
- Ideal Hero: A reconstruction. Even though her inner demons happen to be stronger and more aggressive than the average person's, and even though she's oftentimes forced to kill as a last resort, she will not harm an innocent and will use peaceful options first when confronted with an opponent. It's the determination to overcome Bhaal's taint that turns her into this.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Played with. She's more than happy to be a paladin, and makes absolutely clear that she loves her job. However, for a host of reasons, she's less than thrilled to be a Bhaalspawn. See Tragic Dream below.
- I Let Gwen Stacy Die
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Inverted — Lidia can't hit the broad side of a barn, with anything (a reference to her class-kit disadvantage of no ranged weapons). This comes back to bite her on several occasions.
- It's Not You, It's My Enemies / I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: She tries this on Anomen, oh yes she does. But he rightly points out that his sense of honor's going to put him in danger anyway, and that they're much better off facing it together. She comes around to that.
- Jack-of-All-Stats: Her only "average" stat is in Dexterity, with decent-to-good scores everywhere else (plus an 18 in Charisma, which she weaponizes). Justified in that she's a Bhaalspawn, and therefore more powerful than an average human (which ironically gives her more than sufficient stats to be a paladin).
- Knight in Sour Armor: Becomes this as time goes on — especially when she finds out that it's very likely that, no matter what she does, she'll end up in the Abyss. Her mindset becomes, "These things need to be done, I'm here, so I'll do them anyway."
- The Leader: A mix of Levelheaded and Charismatic.
- Lawful Stupid / Stupid Good: (Hopefully) averted. Not only is her party usually more Neutral than Good, her emphasis is on showing mercy and protecting the innocent whenever possible. Notably, she wants to redeem Sarevok, instructs her party to spare any Shadow Thieves or vampires who surrender, and will prioritize Good over Law if she absolutely has to. Generally, she tempers her passion for doing good with warmth and heart. At the same time, she does her best to be smart about it (her combined WIS and INT are high enough to pull this off): trust is precious commodity for a Bhaalspawn, after all.
- Magnetic Hero: Her combined Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma is enough to make her into this. Her first action when confronting evil is talking it down, rather than killing it.
- Martial Pacifist: Makes a conscious choice to be this after Ajantis's death, and becomes this as she comes to terms with her heritage. To her, it's a way to keep her darker side under control, especially once she starts developing a "spiky little problem". By the events of To B, she will almost always use her words first when trying to resolve a problem, but if it becomes clear that someone only understands violence, she'll show that she's pretty handy with the language—and that she does enjoy using it."I see great value in leaving a battle unscathed, as you said. But, to me, the greatest victory of all is when the good is upheld without bloodshed. When that happens, I know for certain I am serving the cause of good — and not my darker instincts. I know the sword is necessary and I live by it, but when murder's in your family tree, it's hard to be too careful."
- My God, What Have I Done?: Gets slammed hard with this twice, for nearly killing Imoen when first turning into the Slayer, and for My Greatest Failure, mentioned below.
- My Greatest Failure: Not seeing through Firkraag's deception in time and preventing Ajantis's death.
- Odd Friendship: Has a habit of forming these, but most notable is with Minsc and Yoshimo.
- The Paladin: A sympathetic and (hopefully) well-developed example. Initially, she doesn't have a patron deity—instead, she is committed to "right" in general. Starts following Ilmater at some point in BGI. A key problem she faces throughout the series is how she can keep and uphold her moral code despite being a Bhaalspawn. She's a lot closer in attitude towards Mazzy and Keldorn (a Fire-Forged Friend and her Team Dad, respectively) than Ajantis and Anomen (both of whom she romances, and shifts away from Lawful Stupid).
- Religious Bruiser: Comes with the deal. She's a follower of Ilmater, which lines up with her emphasis on patient endurance, compassion, protecting the weak and innocent, and showing mercy whenever possible. Often has to correct the misconception that she worships suffering itself, as well as having to explain that she happens to be slightly more proactive than an average cleric.
- Samaritan Syndrome: Lidia can get hit with this. She solves the problem by letting her team help out and by delegating where needed.
- Screw Destiny: Her destiny seems to be to accept the power that Bhaal had and Amelyssan gathered (initially, at least for her). She's not going to buy what they sell."I would either lose my life to the fire, or lose my will and become it. I want no part of either fate. If I can forge my own path, I will."
- Sliding Scale of Leadership Responsibility: Tries being The Superman, but ends up being more The Theoden (at her friends' insistence).
- Small Steps Hero: Almost always willing to do good in the immediate present, even though it might (or does) endanger her long-term goals. Anomen calls her out on this occasionally, with mixed results. Eventually, she does her best to be smart about it, and is constantly seeking a way to solve two problems at once. This is justified by her religious beliefs — she's honor-bound to help those who are suffering.
- Stone Wall: A classic example of a "paladin tank." Not only does she No Sell a lot of status effects, she also makes a lot of her saving throws, and has excellent defensive skills meant to wear down her opponent. Moves away from this to a Lightning Bruiser when she picks up three things: Gauntlets of Dexterity, some Strength-enhancing belts, and Carsomyr.
- Sugar-and-Ice Personality: She's calm and professional, but can be drawn out of her shell rather easily if you're nice to her. It's her negative and darker feelings that she keeps under wraps.
- Tragic Dream: After the events of BGI, she just wanted a normal life (or as normal as a paladin can have), and it's implied that she rushed into a relationship with Ajantis in order to accomplish that. It takes a lot of knocks for her to acknowledge that her heritage does play a hand in who she is, and to take steps to deal with it. So, she tries to be normal by actively fighting Bhaal's taint, and in this she is largely successful. Then Spellhold happens, and she finds out that not only is a normal life impossible, she won't even get a normal afterlife.
- Instead of breaking her, however, letting go of this dream means making some adjustments to it. Maybe Dad is evil, but she can still identify with the Good Parent who raised her. Maybe her powers do stem from the taint, but she can use them to help and heal her teammates. Maybe she will be a lightning rod for danger, but she'll take advantage of that to help and save others (lightning rods draw the storm away from more vulnerable places, after all). Maybe she won't get the afterlife she deserves, but she'll still worship Ilmater and work for the cause of good because it's the right thing to do (something Keldorn commends her for). But, a side effect of this is that, where she would have jumped at the chance to dismiss her taint, she now has reason to consider taking the rest of Bhaal's essence — what if it should fall into the hands of someone who can't use it responsibly? Ultimately, Tragic Dream is subverted, because she does eventually achieve it after a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but it comes very close to being played straight.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Gets deconstructed — Ajantis is so unambiguously a good guy that The Reveal of Lidia as a Bhaalspawn causes him to reconsider their relationship. Even when they decide to stay together, his honor demands that he leave to ask his parents' blessing on their marriage — which, in a chain of events that no one could have predicted, ultimately leads to his death. Reconstructed with Anomen — they each bring in their own issues, but are more than happy to work through them together. Not to mention that he's a lot more understanding of her darker side than Ajantis ever was.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: In a big way in the second part — Played for Drama, as this is a side-effect of the loss of her soul, and severely tests her relationships with everyone. She gets a lot better once her soul is recovered, but there's a certain edge to her that remains after that.
- Upbringing Makes the Hero: Played straight — she goes so far as to call Gorion the "father of my soul". Makes her a Foil for both Sarevok (a Bhaalspawn without any good influences) and Anomen (despite having evil In The Blood, she's much more centered and equipped to deal with difficult moral decisions than he is).
- Violently Protective Girlfriend: Downplayed. She's confident in her boyfriend's ability to handle himself, and won't necessarily blow a fuse if he gets hurt. But, as mentioned under Berserk Button, she reacts badly to people threatening him.
- You Are Not My Father: To Bhaal and Amelyssan. Not only does she consider Gorion her real father, she completely rejects her biological parents' goals and outlook, to the point where she angsts relatively little about having to kill both of them. Her rejection of Bhaal's power is in large part a final f-you to both of them.
[[folder: Other Tropes]]
- Jaheira refers to the Slayer as Lidia's "spiky little problem."
- Valygar walks in on a vampire about ready to bite someone, and drops this one-liner: "Catch you at a bad time, comrade?"
- Valygar also is told that "ruin has come to our family."
- Imoen has made a "List of Things We Won't Do Again" and references it.
- When Lidia makes her final decision about whether or not to accept Bhaal's power, she gets a moment very similar to Galadriel's test in The Lord of the Rings.
- Jaheira makes a rather sarcastic remark to Galvarey that he's trying to convict Lidia of sending Elminster to Hell — a reference to the wizard's series, where he does exactly that.
- Imoen rather irritably tells Anomen to "go tilt a windmill."