Kiricletica reached level 14 last week, quickly donned some White Dragonscale Robes for some much-needed protection, buffed up and made a beeline to the preliminary quests in Lordsmarch Plaza.
I’ve been anticipating the fight with the mighty Droaam armies for some time now. They’ve become a welcome favorite to many players because of the humorous but immersive story line as well as the challenges, loot and experience you can gain. Overall, I see it as one of DDO’s premier questing areas.
The Droaam is a monster nation from the distant land (to the continent of Xen’drik, anyway) of Khorvaire. It’s the place where the Eberron pen-and-paper campaigns do their thing. My understanding is that DDO chose Xen’drik to avoid story/plot conflicts while still sharing in the Eberron world lore.
With the Droaam apparently considering Stormreach as a fine place to colonize, three linked quests (all cleverly named) serve as a prelude to the actual invasion of the Droaam seen in the four-part chain, “Attack on Stormreach.”
Being what Kiricletica is, her primary mission was to scout and report.
Her secondary option, if required, is to slaughter the leader.
I’ve always found the Droaam a curious, formidable enemy with substantial flaws. For one, the bulk of their ground-pound troops are orcs. They’re far more heavily armored than what one would encounter to this level, but they are still orcs, easily outwitted in combat and picked off relatively well as individuals. As an organized force, however, orcs are very dangerous.
But what makes the Droaam interesting isn’t their sheer brute strength. It’s their specialty forces.
The Droaam warpriests and warmages deliver relentless punishment, from Cometfall spells, Finger of Death, Enervation, Blade Barriers. Divine Punishment, while reliably keeping their party healed. I placed priority in removing the mages first.
But killing the mages is harder, as they stay where they should, behind their guards: orcs, light conscript fighters, archers and the Vanguards, huge juggernaut ogres that prey on the weakest in your party first. Their presence is designed to scare and bludgeon a party into breaking formation, as other Droaam exploit the break to their advantage.
The greatest challenge, overall, is the sheer numbers of the Droaam that hit you as a zerg rush. They often run in support groups not unlike a player character party, where mages heal and attack in the rear ranks while soldiers take the assault directly to the player character.
As AI goes, the Droaam behave more as coordinated enemy parties than the relatively individualistic fights you see elsewhere in the game.
The best solution against a zerg force, for the solitary Kiri, is to be ignored, like a butterfly flying above a stampede. Such a loud, overwhelming mob won’t hear or pay attention to the whisper sounds of a passing butterfly.
Too bad the Droaam zerg didn’t know that my butterfly packed venom as I fluttered to its heart to stab it.
The first, “Diplomatic Impunity,” requires only a few objectives: Speak to Henritta, your quest giver, meet a scout that’s found a Droaam staging area, report back to Henritta, and find and kill the Droaam war captain.
In terms of drama, the sight of a whole beach filled with legions of Droaam and their siege machines always fires me up. I want to jump down from the scout point and give them what-for. Alas, all you can do is report back.
When I do begin my attack, a moment of outside distraction in my home gets me killed, but not before I removed two-thirds of Ilos Hrolk’s health using a crapload of poison attacks.
Quickly rebuffing and returning, I learned that the Droaam closest to the fortress disappear once the final fight started. Back inside, I threw a star to pull the good captain away from the bulk of the mob.
A couple of soldiers come too, and I mow them down. With the captain isolated, I puncture and poison him silly to complete with only 4 kills total and a Devious bonus.
No wildmen were harmed in this mission. I’m a little sympathetic for them. They’re often the literal and figurative butt monkeys in many DDO quests, often used as slaves or getting their territory screwed by outsiders. Slaying them would also violate my self-imposed rules. No wonder they’re always edgy and attack on sight.
I talked my way through their village.
Stealth-lovers know of Mr. Cow’s video on how to complete this in about 3 minutes. I took a bit more time but gained the same results, albeit sloppier than I wanted it to go.
After gathering up a bunch of ballista parts, I used one to inject me into the fortress, rather than doing the “Cowabunga Approach”, leaping over a wall near the gate by the water.
After avoiding a close call or two of being discovered, I used a second inner ballista to launch me into the chieftain’s stronghold. I stoned the runt in there to keep him from ringing an alarm bell, buffed and then threw a star at the chieftain to begin.
Sometimes you’ll be lucky in that only the chieftain comes to engage you. I wasn’t that fortunate and soon his entourage came to greet me with axes and spells. But the new White Dragonscale Robe helped a lot in defense as I moved from place to place to get back to the chieftain.
My poison attacks worked well, taking out the ogre mage and a Cabal Seer to allow me to focus on the chieftain once more to carve him up quickly. Unfortunately an alarm sounded elsewhere as I grabbed the loot and escaped.
I completed with another Devious bonus but lost the no-alarm objective. I’ll be going back to try this again as a matter of honor. I need to remember that the Chieftain can be fought briefly without his guards caring during Hesstess’s retreat, leaving me a small window to quickly take him out as the Cow did.
Eyes of Stone
In the final prelude quest, I did something I’ve never quite considered in getting the Stone-to-Flesh salve. I stayed atop the library shelves as much as possible, leaping to each and avoiding attention from kobolds. I had one or two kills here as I retrieved the salve before heading up to the Coin Lords.
While the developers design quests with some stealth in mind, they don’t always have triggers that work in stealth, such as the ones that cause an enemy to attack when they see you. I took full advantage of this by moving to point-blank range of each Gnoll mage that guarded each Coin Lord. When they activated, two of the gnolls forgot to summon their elemental henchmen, leaving me the pleasure of dispatching the gnolls without a lot of fuss.
After freeing the Coin Lords, I moved quickly to the end-fight, sneaking by everything else to get there.
I wasn’t going to make the same mistake here as I did in “Impunity.” I ran through my fight strategy. There are two NPCs that could draw aggro briefly before they died; I applied Blur on them to give them a little more life.
I double-checked that my Poisoned Soul Ninjutsu ability was active (I learned later that I didn’t have it running during “Impunity” at all). I checked my Poison Neutralizing potions on my toolbar (Medusa Snake Venom will kill you with 1,000 points of damage if you leave that untreated). Finally, I buffed with a Blur and my Death Ward clicky, pulled out the Vampiric Fury Shortswords and got to work.
I didn’t have an extremely hard fight once I removed the Vanguard and supporting mages. I dosed Hesstess with a boatload of poison. Despite the fact she’s more reptilian herself and has her own poison attacks, she herself is not poison-immune. Fighting her is typically a stick-and-move matter for any player to avoid getting turned to stone, so the DoT effects are helpful.
On her death, I made my third Devious bonus for the night as well as a welcome pair of Stonedust Handwraps that Kiri can use for special cases.
A first life VIP character levels rapidly. I wrote this post on hitting level 14, but I finished writing it on reaching level 16 only 4 days ago. The Hard Bravery Bonus is rewarding with 10,000 XP or more on some places.
Now, I have the Envenomed Blades dual-wielded. More on the pleasantries of this weapon combo in my next account.