After completing my first Epic Elite solo run with Szyncletica, I’ve gotten more emboldened since last weekend.
I turned my eye to one where the role-play factor would be excellent: “The House of Rusted Blades.”
Syzncletica’s backstory is as a daughter of that house, culled early from the matron mother competition and nearly killed before smuggled to Eberron. She wants vengeance on the whole house. It’s totally personal.
Role-play may be quite secondary to DDO itself, but it can really psych you up if you enjoy that kind of thing.
That same rush of adrenaline, too, came to me later from advance knowledge of Forgotten Realms lore.
Epic Elite “The House of Rusted Blades”
This quest is a short and sweet one. House Dun’Robar is filled with dangerous fighters. Fortunately, they buy into your magic disguise at first. I skipped the weapon room optional, opened the shrine room just in case, and went to the Blademaster’s weapon rack to poison it.
Things went slightly pear-shaped from there. A Diversion dummy I left for the fighters didn’t take (or last long). Soon, a small force chased me down the halls. Unfortunately, the angry Drow activated those who were passively standing guard, and I became deadly close to getting a Dungeon Alert.
But Syzn had a new star in her hands, a L24 spelltouched shuriken with Fracturing and Improved Destruction, among its other hidden effects. With this heinous weapon, designed to destroy the living, she targeted the hindmost and used Improved Precise Shot to rip through her pursuers. The wide expanse of the House with its ramps allowed me to line up targets and evade by leaping off the ramp to line everyone up again until the mob was eliminated.
My original plan was only to isolate and kill the senior Blademaster. But now that the whole house became alerted to me and on the aggressive, I changed my tactics: Kill everyone (save those in the weapons room and the Matron Mother’s lair–I wasn’t suicidal, especially without an ability to remove the spell wards in either place).
Clearing out the last enemies in the canteen and space by the Blademaster’s quarters, I returned through the side passage to ring the bell to alert the Blademaster–and immediately skedaddled, heading back up the ramp adjacent to the path to the double-gated weapons room and the upper level to the entrance.
The Blademaster boss did not move as I removed any and all targets from around him on the upper level, including the four guards by the entrance. Dropping down, using all ninja skills, I retraced my steps back through the lower level and side passage where many enemies that spawned from the central room (once the bell rang) had ran and stopped. Nice one, Devs–this would be a natural place for an EE party to camp to avoid direct confrontation with the boss until they could remove his support. Too bad that enemy party left their own flank open, allowing me to follow and pick them off from a long, fatal distance.
With no others left, I returned to the upper level and pummeled the senior Blademaster. Using Pin to slow him down with other Shiradi and spelltouched effects, the EE Blademaster slowly but inevitably met his end.
Delicious win. I want to re-do this one, but next time I’ll bring in a Rogue hireling to remove the spell wards to the matron mother. Yes, it’s quite bloodthirsty to role-play the notion of killing your own sister (or mother), which technically would leave Szyn as the new Matron Mother by bloodline. But since she’s also slaying any defenders, she’s really not feeling inclined to be a leader. She’s the angel of Death for the entire House, not its salvation.
Epic Elite “Impossible Demands”
After completing the last two initial Heroic quests before the prison chain in Wheloon to add a few more favor points, I managed to catch a “Caught in the Web” PuG run on Epic Hard. A brutal raid as always. I survived fairly well up to when most others chickened out of luring the trash around the last portal keepers and I decided to volunteer–and die–twice to get things moving along. But the group was generally reliable and efficient.
To get the last of my favor, I entered “Impossible Demands.” Priestess Vicala is not a nice person, but the mechanics of fighting her and saving the hostages is no different for me than completing it on lower difficulties.
The true challenge was having sufficient maneuvering room to fight. The tiny rooms were too tiny against Drow that could lop off 100 HP a swing. I modified my typical plan for this quest: Let the priestess head downstairs and then kite an enemy out and dispatch each one by one. The Improved Paralyzer star helped. An earlier attempt left me Stoned and dead as I didn’t hit the wizards fast enough. Luck proved better the second time in. My only mistake was in setting one hostage free a moment too early, and Vicala sacrificed her. All the others were freed and Vicala was defeated with only a comparatively moderate struggle given Epic Elite. Strange that she is invulnerable to negative energy…and I would have really loved to have Sting of the Ninja working to help with the damage (perhaps it’ll work again with Update 22).
And after all that work, I don’t really have anything to upgrade with the PDK vendor, short of some Spidersilk Robes that have no collective features I’d be able to use from the War Wizard’s Battle Arcanist set.
A Break in the Ice
If I’m not slaying the Drow, I’m stopping the insanely evil plans of the Netherese in the Storm Horns now.
I’ve never completed this quest chain and thought it would be good to get its Heroic Elite side completed to help me learn it for a later Epic completion.
Frost Giants! Ever the annoyance to Lynncletica, Szyn’s not fond of them, either. Stealth helped a lot in strategic killing. But what impressed me was the storyline, the music and the voice work for the NPCs. It really provided an immersive story experience.
I’ve played the 2000-era Neverwinter Nights game series from BioWare. The “Shadows of Undrentide” expansion explores some crazed medusa trying to use old Netherese resources to do the unthinkable: Raise a ancient fallen Netheril city, Undrentide, buried for thousands of years of sand, to float again in the skies, complete with its side benefit as a flying fortress that could decimate cities and become an nigh-unstoppable ruler of the world of Faerun.
So when Syzn hears from the Harpers that they’ve heard of something called a “mythallar” involved in the Horns, Syzn took in the news with her usual tranquil, stoic expression.
Her player (me) said “Oh…shit!” quite out loud.
You see, mythallar, in Forgotten Realms lore, is a terribly overpowered magical substance used for two things: Power and flight. Think of it as magical plutonium, with all the good and bad that implies.
The Netherese with any amount of mythallar is like giving more gamma rays to the Hulk, or metal to Magneto. Whatever the Netherese had in mind to attack Cormyr, I knew in my heart it involved or included the dreaded words of air bombardment or air invasion. I learned that much from my adventures in the wastes of the Aranoch desert and the ruins of that ancient city in another life.
I removed the Netherese mage that had supervised the excavation. Unlike the NWN version, this mythallar was planetary in size, a blueish globe surely 1000 meters in diameter.
Now it was time to make my way to stay the Netherese for good. I expected a good fight; the Netherese are not pushovers.
What Goes Up: The Best Storyline and Music in DDO
Many, many thanks to Turbine for this quest. I felt like I was in a powerful fantasy drama and I was the star.
Still learning the quest, I entered in on Heroic Elite. I needed to remove many Netherese and Shadar-Kai forces with controls that blocked the upper entrance to the summit. With a Rogue hireling in tow in case things got weird, I routed any resistance. My Concentration score was more than high enough to disable any force fields that blocked my path.
The MUSIC! I think this is one of the games best scores. It pumped me up greatly as enemies came left and right.
I did read up a bit on this quest before I entered, about being careful not to fall off the glacier, whatever that meant. But nothing prepared me for what I saw as I made it atop the summit.
Damn, Turbine. That’s some fine artwork. I couldn’t go fighting for several seconds. I had to take it all in.
Combined with the majestic music, the grandeur of the view, the free sky and clouds about me generated more sensations of being the hero in the last, climactic scenes of the last movie of a long-awaited trilogy.
With that feeling came the realization that I should’ve been a bit more careful. And that everything that the devs could throw at me was going to show up to stop me from destroying the mythallar.
Giants and orcs and gnolls, oh my! Killing them wasn’t a problem. And then I stepped into a crevasse.
Dead. Thankfully, Turbine moves your s0ulstone next to a resurrection shrine most of the time.
I rebuffed as best I could with inventory items and remove more and more enemies, finally reaching the boss, standing atop the huge mythallar globe.
This seems familiar, I thought. Shades of Undrentide haunted me as I realized these guys were going to fly a frakking glacier over Cormyr, packed with troops and destroy Cormyr from the sky. The size of this thing suggested that they could fly to the kingdom itself and just colony drop the city out of existence with the entire glacier. Wow.
Szyn went to work, not realizing at first that killing the boss was secondary. He would summon large reinforcements when he lost even a small amount of health. What I missed in the Objectives list was: Destroy the flight pillars. I had to do something similar in NWN, destroying enough of the mythallar to sink the city once more. Here, I remove some mechanisms which would empower flight.
It was harrowing, although my thrower skills had the upper hand to remove the pillars while Improved Precise Shot allowed me to hit pursuers as well.
After losing my ship buffs and without some good resistances and greater familiarity with the glacier’s cracks and crevasses, death came calling often for me, falling once more, blasted by many ice elementals that ganged up, and getting turned to stone.
But the quest was too damned fun not to try again and again. By the fifth death, I reluctantly decided I’d like to have my gear intact and not permanently damaged, and I aborted the run.
I have never, ever had so much fun in failing a quest in any DDO adventure since, perhaps, “Frame Work.” The backstory I knew of the Netherese only made the experience that more real.
Turbine and Staff: Epic Win, +1 and gratz to you. Sorry I got to this one late. I have similar praise for you with the Haunted Halls, but that’s for another time.
And I’ll be back there. The Netherese are toast…even if I have to cross the streams to do it.
And I might have to reload Neverwinter Nights on some computer, somewhere.