Recently, I joined some guildies on Ryncletica the Ninja on an Epic Elite run of “Foundation of Discord,” a walk-up optional quest within Gianthold.
I’ve played this one before. I rank this quest with others like “Proof is in the Poison” and “Acid Wit” as quests that are far tougher running at-level than other adventures. I would assert that “Foundation” is the toughest quest in Gianthold. Here’s why.
I completed this quest on Ryncletica in solo mode (no hirelings) on Epic Hard, so I knew what to expect in EE. You have to slay three Concord guardians to reach Patrick, a very nasty boss in a very well guarded room with archers on platforms, several Aurum mages, fighters and clerics, and continually respawning fire, air and earth elementals. All the guardians and bosses are surrounded by Bards that love to use stunning spells, Clerics abound who are too good with Cometfall and Greater Command, Wizards appear that freeze and zap you silly, and shadowy Rogues amerge with brutal sneak attacks.
On my EH run, after using several turns of Shadow Manipulation (dominate) turns on two earth elementals that guard Patrick to whittle down his HP, I finally dove into the recess where he stood and pummeled him. Stealth and infiltration tactics (pulling individuals to kill and controlling the volume of attacks) helped a lot.
But EE was a different matter.
Ryncletica’s skills at stealth are partially negated with a party, naturally. Stunning things in EE is harder. It’s the versatile nature of “Foundation’s” mobs that’s the key to its difficulty. Some quests have fewer spellcasters and more fighter-types. This one is caster-rich and their AI is relentless in targeting. It’s as if the mobs are more coordinated than in previous updates. Remember that the dwarf-like Duergar that dominate this area are very resilient and resistant to paralyzing and stuns.
We were all getting sniped by Rogues but the real challenge involved taking down each Concord guardian. I don’t know how they were trained but it was clear that they had Ryncletica’s number: Monks are most vulnerable to slashing damage. My high Dodge and Reflex did little here to keep from getting eviscerated several times by the guardians. Others in the party fared no better. A few Shadow dominations put one enemy on our side for a time. I started to target the Bards and Rogues to give the mobs a taste of their own medicine.
Bloodied and dead more than a few times over, we make it to the large room. I was able to sneak in and enable all the sonic traps to bust Patrick out of his invulnerable forcefield while the rest of the party kept the elemental’s initial attention. Then the fun started as the elementals began to earthgrab everybody. Normally, earthgrab is a just a nuisance, releasing you before something serious happens. But in EE, earthgrab holds and then squeezes the life out of you with 100-point or greater damage. Further, other elementals often took advantage and walloped you to death if you weren’t there already.
After several attempts to lure and Dominate the spare elementals in an attempt to bum-rush the boss, as well as removing any Aurum guards (which, thankfully, don’t respawn) I came up on one idea, borne of desperation after looking at Patrick’s stats. Apparently my dojo characters really hate dwarves and duergar, as I’ve amassed quite the collective kill counts in my Monster Manual, allowing me to see the boss’s hit points.
Patrick had 118,000 HP. Between the elementals tagging us, there was no way we were going to survive for any length of time in direct melee. We were all running out of resources.
But one advantage came to mind. Patrick was effectively immobile in the center of that pit, Since we had access to pillars above him, I suggested we take the “death from above” strategy, smacking him with any ranged attacks we had.
The elementals still threw Fireballs and made long-range earthgrabs, while an irritated Patrick used ice spells to pull us off of our perches. I took advantage of Ninja Vorpals with my tiny throwing star and extra attacks to pull a few more HP off the boss. Some of us were still dying to elemental waves but not nearly as rapid as before. Thank goodness Patrick did not regenerate during this battle.
After nearly 1.5 hours, of which nearly 30 minutes was spent trying to kill the boss, it was over. Our repair bills were more epic than our rewards, that’s for sure.