Death Seekers II: The Wraiths and CON

"I have been, and always shall be, KICKING YOUR ASSES."

“I have been, and always shall be, KICKING YOUR ASS.”

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the dunderheads that screw your quest up.

Here is the second of several installments discussing quests that are far tougher than you think at your level–at least for some people who decided they have little else to do but not pay attention and make matters worse.

Part 1 discussed a few low level quests where ill-equipped PUGs and small parties will suffer nastily without foresight before entering.

Part 2 hikes it up a notch with quests that drag you through the dirt, even if you’re well prepared, due to its overall complexity or difficulty.

We’ll play around the level 5-11 range in this installment. Later installments will look at 12-20 and a few Epic ones–but not too many. That’s why they call them Epic, silly.

Let’s recap the rating system:

  • Navigation: Does the quest require many switches and keys to use to progress? How hard are they to find? How linear is the adventure? Are there traps? Are there quest-required puzzles? How much resistance is encountered to find objectives? Is the quest just plain confusing due to its sheer size?
  • Enemies: How many? What’s the dominant race? Do they respawn? Do they attack with effects that are harder to resist or avoid? Are there one or more kill zones where they’d likely entrap you? Does their nature limit your fighting ability?
  • Bosses: How many mini-bosses? What damage resistance do they have? What special attacks do they do? How do you escape from it if you cannot kill it? How large is their entourage?

The Pit (Level 7)

Navigation: 11, Enemies: 5, Bosses: 6

This quest definitely needs to go up to eleven out of a possible 10.

I heard so much wailing, gnashing of teeth and lamentations from other guildies about “The Pit” early in my DDO history that it must’ve been 2 years before I ever attempted to try it myself. And by the time I did it, I entered in with an overpowered level 16ish Ninja Spy that could dodge bullets in her sleep by then.

I’ve said it time and time again: many players don’t read or listen. The young or immature gamer will often treat MMORPGs like DDO at first as if its a twitch game, hunting for something to immediately kill, failing to realize that there isn’t anything nearby to kill. At that point, their brain freezes in confusion and annoyance. I’d just let them wander off and die. It’s better that way since hunting down their soulstone might be more time consuming than completing the quest.

The Pit is one of a handful of puzzle-as-quest adventures. In the bowels of House Deneith are immense furnaces that have shut down due to troglodyte infestation. Your mission is to clear out the hordes and restart the subsystems. The challenge? Well, let me just post one of many player-designed maps of the place.

Witness the horror of...THE PIT, in 3D

Witness the horror of…THE PIT, in 3D

As you can envision, the Pit is a massive area.  It’s formed of two shafts with occasional interconnects and winding spiral platforms, like interposing helixes. Each area is keyed for the Dungeon Master (DM) to speak its name. Players who don’t read or listen will bail on you for this quest mechanic alone since they’ll go off one way while you go another. Voice chat is particularly useful here if your party bothers to turn their sound on to hear you.

Each player received a little guide to the Pit by the NPC that bestows the quest, but I suspect almost none read it, save the DDO Wiki folks that have taken time to generate a map to clarify the instructions.

It’s DDO Stairmaster time as you search for one or more sub-objectives to complete, which opens a path to each of the furnaces. There,  the armor-clad players with a Jump of -5 suddenly find themselves briefly useful in removing a few troglodytes and worthless while more agile characters make their way up to the furnace under-workings to re-entrap annoyed and enslaved fire elementals that power each furnace.

After a point in all the sojourning back and forth through the Pit, minor force and sonic traps light up. The non-listening dunderhead players who fail to listen are often lit up like a Christmas tree by these non-disarmable traps, not listening to the fact that you can walk carefully to lessen or avoid damage.

The fights in this quest aren’t particularly nasty, save the end-fight where trogs spawn in mobs as you activate the last switches. Good ranged attacks and a tank to gather attention work well there. The challenge is the absolute patience required by all in the party. The Pit is like a good baseball game. Younger generations can’t sit still that long. They expect to be immediately saturated with stimulus. “We’re in game now, entertain us.”

But hey, wait, I have a new quest complaint.

Prove Your Worth (Level 5)

Navigation: 9, Enemies: 5, Bosses: 3

This Three Barrel Cove adventure rates high on my annoyance meter. Fighting isn’t an issue.

The challenge, even for agile characters such as Monks, first comes from the agility trial. It’s a series of incomplete ladders in a shaft where all in party must ascend. To move from one ladder to another, you have to twist your character as you break one grip on that ladder in hopes of grabbing the next one behind you. Miss, and you fall downward and lose your place. (It’s the same frustration you find much later if you lose your step within the shafts of  “The Coalescence Chamber.”)

Party members without a feather-falling item will be a burden to advancing. Even experienced players will get steamed when your character just can’t time things right. You may need to tweak your turn rate in your game settings to help.

The next challenge is the puzzle of Rackum’s Conundrum. You will need the DDO Wiki puzzle hints here, and even then, the puzzle is far from intuitive.

The Faithful Departed (Level 8)

Navigation: 8, Enemies: 7, Bosses: 9

How many people you know have done this free-to-play adventure in House Phiarlan?

If you’re in a PUG, you’ll learn the definition of “frustration” and begin to understand why some people can rationalize murder as you watch your own party members wreck this quest.

The adventure begins in a beautifully rendered area of meandering cliffs where an old elven burial temple resides. Drow have decided to enter these ruins for something shiny and, in the process, are desecrating the remains of Elves there. The mission is simple: Stop the Drow. There’s a catch, of course. There are four special Elves buried there that come to unlife when they are threatened with attack. You must not allow them to be destroyed by the Drow forces. The catch to the catch? These Venerated mummies are vulnerable to your attacks as long as there are enemy Drow left standing in their rooms.

For that reason alone, a PUG filled with Hulk Smashers will quickly fail this quest. “Don’t use AoE spells,” you’ll shout to one guy. “Stop hacking the Venerated!” you scream to another.

At least 3 of the 4 Venerated must survive. Of course, there are sizeable mobs of Drow, scarrow and spiders throughout, switches to pull where said mobs like to have a cup of coffee while waiting some action, and a several nice traps for your armor-clad hipster player to stumble into and make sushi of himself by not listening to a knowledgeable party leader.

If you’re able to save the first three Venerated, then you can go in with guns blazing at the end fight where the last Venerated exists. But the reason why I note this quest is that you’ll likely have killed one mummy too many beforehand and have a very hard time saving this last one from the hands of your own party.

The Ruins of Threnal (Level 8-10)

Navigation: 6, Enemies: 9, Bosses: 5, Incredible NPC Stupidity: 11

That’s right. I’m adding the entire chain. Many players run this quest chain as hard as they can just once so as to obtain their matching set item, the Mantle of the Worldshaper, or a special end-chain reward.

Why only once? One reason: Coyle. Second reason: A terrible quest chain mechanic that sometimes bugs advancement for the unaware.

It’s not that the Threnal quests are particularly difficult, save one. Many players hate the dialog choices with the NPC quest givers. They aren’t clear, and choosing the wrong selection will negate a a couple hour’s work of completing a part of the adventure. In short, the player actually has to read what’s in the dialog.

The adventures in Part 1 and 2 are generally linear, but get hairy in part 3. Sadly, as DDO adventures go, the storyline barely makes sense, so the entertainment value is lost. (What do giants have to do with Threnal? Why are they about in the end fight? And what kind of lame non-epic end fight was that?) Threnal seems to be a developer’s attempt at a cave-based horror story that didn’t work out.

(I know, it's not the same as KHAAAAN!

“…And I shall keep on…hurting myself, leaving you all here in this library…bored alive…bored alive….” Party: “COYYYLLE!”

Let’s jump to the one adventure, the nadir of quests at this level, that annoys even the experienced adventurer: In “Hold for Reinforcements,” you must protect Coyle, a zerging, raging spellcaster that is only effective in getting himself killed, which, not so coincidentally, causes you to fail the quest. Your mission, for 15 mind-numbing minutes, is to keep Coyle alive.

The challenge lies in the precision and preparedness of your party. Specifically, you need to do all that you can to keep Coyle out of the picture, protected and out of sight. A party playing at-level may or may not have Invisibility, Blur, significant elemental protections and resists, Blade Barrier and summoned creatures that are helpful after you talk to Coyle, giving him a tap on the head to knock him out, lying prone in the library’s center.

You can finally let the Hulk Smashers in your party off their chain, hoping they’ll listen to your instructions to watch out for Coyle and protect him should he reawaken.

If your party is savvy, the enemies attack you and don’t get close enough to see Coyle, waking him from their attacks and causing you distress. If all your party can do is to knock Coyle out, this quest is a grave pain, especially when the ice mephits spawn directly in the center and will quickly wake Coyle to fight and force your party to reset.

In Part 3, you’ll encounter a couple of beholders. You’ll know what people don’t have Deathblock on at the sound of the ding(s). Screams of “What happened to my sword/axe/armor?!” will come from the dunderheads that start hacking the handful of rust monsters indiscriminately.

Should you feel inclined to play this awful chain again, just use your quest log to abandon only the West series of quests, which will reset South and West but keep you flagged for the Eastern quests where Coyle must be baby-sat. Friends don’t let friends run the Eastern expedition…again.

With the addition of the Artificer came an addition to the chain end-rewards, an in-joke from the devs. It’s a runearm named Recoyle. It’s item description says, “A part of his spirit lingers on, and is STILL causing you problems.” The runearm throws out Force damage and, naturally, increases your own Threat level by 25%. Enjoy.

Delera’s Tomb (Level 5-8)

Navigation: 8, Enemies: 9, Bosses: 6, Incredible Player Stupidity: 8

Yep, I’m adding an entire chain again. This quest series is very popular to obtain the Voice of the Master experience trinket. Like Ruins of Threnal, this chain can get borked up for the final fight, “Thrall of the Necromancer,” if you don’t know the proper order to speak to Delera and Hargo (speak to Hargo twice, then go speak to Delera). Unlike Threnal, the trips through the spacious catacombs of Delera’s undead hideaway can be quite fun.

But “fun” is relative, as these quests are filled with all manner of undead. In the first quest alone, traps are abundant, locked doors and many incorporeal wraiths are present. How many parties have you been in where somebody didn’t bother to have a Ghost Touch weapon or item for the stat-damaging wraiths, or a Good-aligned weapon for the non-ghostly Ghostly Skeletons?

It’s an experience-rich chain but is also a quintessential example of a dungeon that requires a talented and versatile party at low levels to complete without deaths. I can’t count how many times someone’s gotten roasted by the fire trap at the start of one of the quests, or skewered by a spike or dart trap. Please–let the Rogues lead.

The tombs can be a bit winding with mild to moderate puzzles, jumps and lots of stairclimbing. It’s practically DDO Stairmaster in there. Arcane mages are weak physically but are nasty to the armor-clad that fails to target them immediately.

Warn your Hulk Smashers not to go silly on breaking sarcophagi in some areas. Often this spawns far too much fighting for an at-level party to handle without some ramifications later.

Power-casting isn’t a very good idea in Delera’s catacombs. While most quests have more than one shrine, most are a long ways off.

Spawn of Whisperdoom (Level 11)

Navigation: 7, Enemies: 8, Bosses: 9

You remember this spiderly magical beast, don’t you? She was completely unkillable in a quest in the Groundhog Day…er..the Attack on Splinterskull series. Now, you’ll find her again and see that she has been downgraded to barely killable.

It’s an expansive cavern, with a small fortress and many ogres to fight to obtain a key. There, you’ll find one of two shrines and a trap-filled corridor to said key. With key in hand, you kill off Whisperdoom’s daughters to make the mom appear, while also slaying many orge mages.

The caves of Whisperdoom’s lair are circuitous with many cul-de-sacs. Spiders are very numerous, with web attacks quite effective in slowing or killing your party, and they continually respawn even after quest completion. Evennote the Everlost is right in that we do need to be able to craft an Improved Shard of GPS for places like these.

The challenge is Whisperdoom herself. She’s not a spider, but a magical beast. Her defenses are ridiculously formidable, and she casts all manner of deadly spells, particularly Horrid Wilting and Acid Fog. Her weakness is Light damage. Good luck in finding light-damaging weaponry at your level. You need something to kill her fast as she also regenerates.

There are a few locked items and hidden items throughout. A person that picks them all up for delivery to an NPC later might get a web-immunity cloak.

And the Dead Shall Rise (Level 11)

Navigation: 5, Enemies: 9, Bosses: 9

This a fun one but with a design dynamic that eats the unprepared for lunch. Set in a uniquely and awesomely rendered death-tower, the whole adventure is filled with hordes of undead of all kinds, especially wraiths, skeletons and neg-leveling wights. But it’s the many, many traps that kill at-level players with ease without a determined Rogue in party. There’s precisely one shrine in the place, and that is behind a hidden door. Don’t rely on True Seeing or Detect Secret Doors with Update 19–remember that certain doors now have saves that require a Rogue or Artificer to find it.

Being a spiral climb, it’s almost impossible to get lost. Roman numerals mark the floors in the central shaft. Traps exist in both the central shaft and in the passageways between altars. One combines an air blower with a blade trap.

It’s the boss himself that’s a cheating bastard. You haven’t much time to charge Validus the lich as you instantly materialize in his chamber. Try to keep him by his throne or you’ll have nothing to stand on, literally. He begins to break the floor up, causing you to fall down the height of the shaft and forcing a return run up the spire.

You may return to find Validus standing contentedly on the non-floor where melees cannot walk, leaving only spellcasters and ranged weapons a chance at killing him, a powerful undead sorcerer that lobs death spells and chain lightning any chance he gets. He’s got a permanent Fire Shield of Cold, too. You did bring something to deliver ranged damage, right? And deathblock? At the ding(s), the time will be dead o’clock, precisely. Melees have a tough time, but casters will have a very hard time damaging him as he will save 50% of the time against a Disintegrate spell.

After all is done, don’t recall out right away. Two or three chests await. A couple are on isolated ledge within the inner heights of the spire (some resistance might be encountered). The last is at the ground floor that opens up on Valdus’s (second) passing. It’s trapped–as you see by the dead party members that reached it earlier.

Back with more quests o’ doom in a later installment. I’m sure I’ve missed a few gems you’d like to hear, so mention them for a later write-up.

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22 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. EvenNote
    Oct 17, 2013 @ 20:48:03

    The first time I ever went into the Pit was with my now-ex-boyfriend and his nephew. I didn’t even have a feather fall item, which definitely didn’t help, and the ex really had NO clue what he was doing, telling me to stand at the bottom of the furnace rooms and range the fire eles (on a paladin, ’cause, y’know, they make such awesome ranged toons). After about two and a half hours of this, it was a relief when we finally wiped and hauled our scorched, acid-burned, lightning-struck bodies out of there, swearing to never, ever, EVER go back.

    But then he told me, rather condescendingly, that I could never solo the Pit. His bad, ’cause that was all it took for me to decide that yes, I damn well WAS going to solo the Pit. And now it’s one of my favorite quests (it was THE favorite, but now has stiff competition from What Goes Up); if I’m feeling down or just killing time or whatever, I head for Pit. Even Acanthia, now lvl 28, enjoys an occasional Pit zerg (monk style: Run through as fast as possible, charge up an EiN, aggro entire final room, drink a few wonder pots to see what happens, nuke it all).

    I’ve been kicking around an idea to do my “Letterman Lists,” or top 10-ish quests, bosses, etc. You’re inspiring me to do more with the idea than kick it around. LOVING this series. 🙂

    • teachersyn
      Oct 17, 2013 @ 23:00:02

      That made my night. Might want to give Acanthia the nickname of “Nuke ‘Em”! Haven’t completed all of the Storm Horns yet–gotta get out there. Yeah–once you get in the Pit, it’s hardly intimidating. It’s not like you need to be in two places at once. It’s just a place to explore and learn. I loved being able to use full stealth in there to complete things. Would be great if the Pit went Epic, you think? 🙂

      As for the Potions of WTF…that’s braver than me!

      • DanIAm
        Oct 20, 2013 @ 04:01:26

        Speaking of potions of wtf…

        I remember one bright spark using some in the raid “A vision of destruction”

        First off a cow appeared mid raid that none of us was expecting. Cool, no problem, it wasn’t like it was a man eating cow.

        Then we all went “Boom” as the very small dungeon was now the right size for a mine field and we were all running around after Suulomades and his mobs, expecting a way different demise (e.g. remove curse pots or spell points running out).

        I didn’t work out who it was, but there is a spot in the abyss reserved for them. After all the cat herding to get through the subteranne to the quest let alone waiting for the raid to fill in the first place, they deserve first place on the ignore lists of the other 11 questers.

    • Mernom
      Oct 18, 2013 @ 05:36:28

      all you need is to remember the way,and a shield clicky\fire\acidres,and some melee resistance vs the warlords,now that the force traps got nerfed…
      I BB’d it befor that,by splitting the party and placing it in the rooms befor starting them,completion time was ~25 mins,with 1 death that could be avoided.

  2. EvenNote
    Oct 17, 2013 @ 23:11:27

    Heh, I LOOOOVE Potions of WTF. Acanthia’s got 300+, so I really need to use a few one of these days. And epic Pit? OH FREAKING HELL YES! Saw something on the forums a while back, people talking about what quests they’d like to see epic, and one guy suggested the Depths chain but was afraid that they’d make epic Pit the capstone… I mean, he seriously sounded like he thought that was a BAD thing. *g*

  3. ddomicki
    Oct 18, 2013 @ 02:51:18

    A few quests in your list, I can’t seem to remember right now, lol, so I’ll skip those. Oh, btw, seems like u’ve added pug frustrations to this chain, lol. It’s funny.

    First, The Pit. The Pit is good XP (or so I’m told) for a TR who knows it well and can run it fast. Me? I’ve only run it a few times, and I still get lost. I don’t find the navigation to be that hard if you read the objectives and have the wiki map in front of you, lol. (I use this one: http://ddowiki.com/page/File:M_pit.png) But the traps and casters are pretty nasty.

    Then, Threnal. I’ve never done the abandon west before to rerun, but last time I ran Threnal and abandoned west after completing the chain, it did not keep me flagged for south. I am certain I only abandoned west, then we re-ran west and south was not open.

    Oh, and P.S. using ddowiki pictures on your blog doesn’t work. Donno if it’s the wiki format or the link or what, but wordpress doesn’t show the pics.

    • teachersyn
      Oct 18, 2013 @ 09:40:27

      I keep forgetting not to use hotlinking from the DDO Wiki site and it breaks the photos. Fixed that.

      Abandoning the Western part automatically deletes the South. It’s the Eastern part we want to keep, so it works.

      Oh, yeah, adding PUG frustrations is core to these observations. An experienced party will have issues with most of these quests. A PUG sends it up a couple orders of magnitude!

      • ddomicki
        Oct 18, 2013 @ 09:50:06

        Wiki says “To do a fast-repeat of the chain simply check your journal, if it has West, East and South listed as completed, select West and abandon it. That will reset South and West but will keep you flagged for East. Once you have completed West again, speak to Sal Danek and ask “is there more to do here” and this will open the Southern Excavation set of quests again.”

        I did this, abandoned west, re-ran it, and it did not open south for me. I wanted to get another chain reward (a second cloak), but this did not work.

        🙂 oh, and I know pug frustrations, lol.

        • teachersyn
          Oct 18, 2013 @ 09:52:20

          …and the difficulty in staying flagged in Threnal is why it’s on the list! I’ve used that trick myself and it worked for me, but if you click the wrong thing…damn, you have to start completely over as the chain is borked. Sigh.

  4. grimorde
    Oct 18, 2013 @ 04:16:04

    I love The Pit! Admittedly, the first time I ran it – I hated it with a passion 🙂 But now it’s very rare that I don’t run it. Sometimes more than once 🙂 Oh and really glad you used Lessah & Clankenbeards map – in my opinion it’s still the best one to use 😛

    Faithful Departed – yep that one is just… just… bah! I actually hate that one more than Threnal.. and that saying something…

    • teachersyn
      Oct 18, 2013 @ 09:45:09

      DDO Wiki player maps are a godsend. The Pit and Coal Chamber are great article examples as they have several maps that allow you to look at things as three-dimensionally and with as many perspectives as possible to avoid getting disoriented. I think I used 2 maps for my first solo Pit run, but now I’m usually OK on using one.

  5. John B.
    Oct 18, 2013 @ 08:09:31

    Honestly, my first few times through The Pit didn’t offer too much of a problem. My wizard at the time made a habit of soloing it 10 times before I moved on. Admittedly though… When you have one of MrCow’s videos teaching you the way…. I’m pretty sure he spoiled it for me that way. After two -three runs, I had it memorized. xD I’m going to enjoy it on my sorcerer’s life, however. Only thing I really use the wiki for these days on that one is those puzzle wheels.

    I usually run Delera’s on solo, so never had a problem with groups. I haven’t run the others, as far as I know. Most of my questing up until Gianthold is essentially the same quests over and over again.

    Your list mostly just encouraged me to PuG more.

    • teachersyn
      Oct 18, 2013 @ 09:42:28

      There’s a dark reason to run a PUG for me, and I’m sure you can guess what that is now. You’re probably feeling the same. I’ll be exercising my jaw so the muscles won’t seize later from laughing too much during the usual chaos. 🙂

  6. philiptraldiw
    Oct 18, 2013 @ 10:14:49

    Another great post 🙂

    Let’s see, I also love The Pit (after I learned it).

    I think Prove Your Worth is great too. I learned from DDO wiki the trick for the ladders: when you want to jump from one to another, go into mouse look and set the little round circle on the spot you want to jump. This makes it much easier.

    Now The Faithful Departed I hate with a passion (as I do most escort quests). I always skip this one every life I do.

    To me, The Ruins of Threnal, especially the Coyle part, really depends on which class I’m playing. With a melee it’s a pain, with an arcane a bit easier, but on a Fvs, it was a cakewalk. Just buff up Coyle, knock him out and BB your way to victory. But the flagging is really screw up.

    I’ve got no beef with Delera’s or Whisperdoom (but she is one tough mother), but And the Dead Shall Rise can be a PITA on a melee if you could’nt corner Validus by his throne.

    • teachersyn
      Oct 18, 2013 @ 14:59:50

      Mouse look mode always gives me a headache, but I’ll remember that next time I’m in that quest. Better to have a minor headache than suffer a larger one.

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  8. Jason Smittenaar
    Oct 18, 2013 @ 22:21:49

    i remember i hated The Pit after running it the first time. Now, however, it’s still one of my favorite quests and i have the entire thing memorized (even the puzzle wheels!)

  9. erdrique
    Oct 21, 2013 @ 15:56:21

    LOL, the terrors of the Pit and Faithful Departed. Like many others, I remember my first occurrences in the Pit and spending multiple hours in there until we finally figured out its routine. Faithful Departed was claimed to never be run again by a few of my old friends. I remember when you couldn’t let a single venerated die or the quest would fail and that always happened when you got the last fight, as soon as you would drop down into the last hall the mobs would spawn and it would take a miracle to get there before the venerated would die.

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention any of the Necro II quests. The Tomb of the Shadow King was always an annoying quest for me (and still is) and Invaders I also found quite annoying with the first few beholders.

    • teachersyn
      Oct 21, 2013 @ 16:01:21

      The Necropolis series…I have *never* completed it in all my years on DDO with any of my characters. Part of the problem was usually scheduling; you can’t easily solo some of them, and after the first 2, I’ve just never been familiar or interested enough to try. I should be able to mop the floor in there with my Light Monks but haven’t any grouping love. Maybe I’ll gather a couple of friends to get favor and familiarity.

      • John B.
        Oct 21, 2013 @ 18:47:45

        I usually ended up avoiding the Necro series for the reason of, I just really, really dislike undead quests. My sorcerer plans on being my first character to actually run through it on my own. I forsee lots of Wall of Fire.

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