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 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.
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.
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.