DDO is a huge world. There are (at least) 405 quests and 37 wilderness areas.
Yet there are several I have yet to see, or may never see.
One down, Lynncletica…only 58,295 more undead left to kill. (Credit: Claudio Pozos)
Many people complain about the design of the “Ruins of Threnal” quest chain, and I understand why. But any issues there do not compare to the clusterfrak that is the Necropolis.
The DDO Wiki article alone shows how almost incomprehensible it is to know which NPC gives what to progress in which chain.
In the very few times I’ve run in the first part of the chain, I’m almost always overcome with confusion. The quest designs are (in comparison to others) poorly executed. It’s never clear what to find, what to do. With the fewer times I’ve completed part 1 and entered parts 2 and a little of 3, I’ve only become more confused, lost, and summarily frustrated and bored.
As I noted in a recent post, the undead are legion. The Necropolis illustrates this with mind-numbing effectiveness. Even possessing hale and hearty undead-bashing Shintao Monks like Lynncletica or Syncletica does not encourage me to seek out the quests here.
Long ago, prior to Cannith Crafting, I wanted to make runs out here for the rare Devout Handwraps, the only named Metalline of Pure Good-styled handwraps in the game at the time. No longer (not even for their red augment-slot version).
Bashing endless skeletons and ghosts is one thing. Bashing said undead for hours on end is as fulfilling as bashing trolls on the internet–who seem more numerous than the undead. No, thank you.
I will never likely see my Silver Flame favor higher than the first tier reward.
But then again…there is Update 23’s Epic Orchard of the Macabre and its terrifyingly awesome new loot there as well in Crystal Cove. The Epic Muffled Veneer is +20 Hide/Move Silently–with a “Mythic” version as well. And a favorite but hard-to-find Epic version of the Belt of Thoughtful Remembrance is attractive as well.
Too bad that most of the items are ML27 or better. I’m not inclined to keep characters that über for so long, save Szyncletica the star-thrower, and only because she’s a proven build I can use specifically for anything super-tough.
But maybe culling a few skeletons wouldn’t hurt.
The Necropolis has several quests where extra players are mandatory to activate switches or buttons to proceed. I’m all for parties and cooperation, which is part of DDO’s roots as a D&D game. But this mechanic completely sucks. A quest should not assume that a party is always available. (Now for raids, I can understand this requirement, by their very nature.)
That said, an alternate means to proceed (with some penalty for XP or loot, or HP) should always be incorporated in a quest design. Always. “The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar” showed this properly at its start, if I recall. A lever opens a gate, but requires STR. If you haven’t got it, some True Seeing or a good Search will find a way around it.
As with those particular Necro quests, I’ve rarely entered Xorian Cypher. In fact, I’m certain I’ve entered it precisely twice in my four years of gameplay.
And there were little reasons for me to do so. The loot there was around before the Monk class came to be, it seems. Even with the Update 19 changes to the items found there, there’s little to attract me to slay more skeletons or find a way around boring game mechanics.
This area should be a nice pastime to play.
But, like the Necropolis, all these quests suffer from a poor kick-the-dog design that all but fully discourages my desire to complete the chain. These three tedious flagging quests eventually lead you back to Sor’jek, now sporting a nice lich look and a timed, shallow-story slay-it-all chain conclusion.
What starts as a serviceable and aesthetically interesting dungeon and combat is suddenly c-blocked by a complex puzzle that can only be completed by most of us if you use the DDO Wiki article that explains it.
Only one player should enter it, else, the puzzle lights are not lit properly. It takes several tedious minutes with even a good puzzle-master in any group that dares to join you to complete this action-halting puzzle. And your reward for doing so, one chest, requires everyone to make their way through the puzzle to get it.
The end-fight is against some efreeti, a very angry death spell-casting kobold and massive fireball damage that even few evasive characters can tolerate for long. Did I mention the one-way hole into the quest that seals behind you, blocking any attempt to retreat? You can put a hireling there, but having them retrieve soulstones might be a bit problematic.
I do love, love, love the wilderness area surrounding this quest: Soami Gardens, and for good reason.
The area was, as the name of the quest implies, once a monastery, a home for Monks.
The area is filled with small shrines and DDO’s lovely pseudo-Shinto aesthetic.
There is an absolutely stunning bridge over a pond near the large remnants of the supposedly empty monastery. I was captivated when I first visited here.
The flavor text in-game is limited, however, noting only that site was abandoned after an apparent attack by Xoriat forces destroyed its caretakers long ago. Was this area just made up specifically for this adventure? If not, is there more to the story?
An Eberron tabletop rules wiki has some great campaign background on the world’s monastic orders. You do learn, in the course of the adventure, that this place was taken over by monastic followers of the Mockery, which does suggest that the developers did a little homework in fleshing out the storyline beyond making a place to play. I would’ve liked to know what general order had once lived here.
I’ve taken Ryncletica, in a past life, throughout the entire complex, including into the interior of the monastery where it’s very hard to access without a strong Jump skill.
This area is most tranquil, especially after slaying a rare encounter beholder that occasionally takes residence near the boulder-blocked entrance to the building’s interior.
You’ll forget all this beauty in death within the Garden once your joy is insta-killed by the overbearing objectives of the quest. The Drow monks (kamas in hand) and others inside are hardly challenging. In fact, these Mockery guys are just that: a mockery. They give monks a bad name.
Finding the various buttons to unlock the way forward isn’t bad. The highly trapped and force-fielded shrine and chests seemed quite irrelevant to the quest and unnecessarily difficult.
It gets worse from here. Once that puzzle’s forcefield is passed, your party needs superior reflex saves to survive getting to at least one switch that turns off the antigravity field that holds you against the ceiling and nasty spikes that zap your HP. If your party can figure out where to land on a sparse group of cross-beams, getting to a second switch disables a force field for a chest below. In either case, prepare for a gelatinous cube dropping down on you.
The multi-sided puzzle platform isn’t highly annoying but, like “Enter the Kobold,” delivers a harsh buzzkill to your combat energy, save the occasional respawning guard. Trying to navigate the various jets in the upper walkways to reach switches that activate a single jet to the end-fight only adds to the tedium.
And then, there’s the end-fight, starring Sannyasi, Engine of Destruction. A scorrow on steroids on steroids, he immediately trashes a central puzzle in his lair that’s intended for you to solve so as to kill him. No amount of stealth helps here by design: He charges once you pass a specific point.
You must either kite him about without harming him as others solve the puzzle, or fight him. Of course, he has minions to whittle at puzzle-solvers, even if you have someone that keeps the scorrow’s aggro. Should you land any blows on the scorrow, your blows permanently damage the puzzle lights, increasing the chances that the puzzle will become unsolvable and that you must kill Sannyasi yourself. He is not easy and dangerous at-level, with movement and attack speed that taxes even Monks.
Of course, killing him directly robs you of an extra chest, too. No, thank you.
The wilderness area here, Aussircaex’s Valley, is a small snowy wasteland filled with frost giants. There’s little reason to explore here, save a few rare encounters and a portal gateway that’s always here where you can test your character’s DPS.
This quest is a gauntlet. You must triumph over the respawning giants and their friends to find a lever or two to open the way through a series of icy caves. I don’t mind this part at all. In fact, running like hell and using any creative means to go all-out to slay whatever gets in your way–and fast–has been a fun challenge in times past. Frost giants are tough.
You reach a mini-boss fight that’s invigorating enough. And then, yet again, your adrenaline rush is brutally quelled as you approach the end-fight, guarded by a extremely mood-killing maze. You have only so much time to find the single path that leads to the beleaguered white dragon that’s besieged by frost giants. Take too long and it dies, leaving you 30+ minutes you’re not getting back.
Once you reach the dragon, don’t expect her to be friendly to you. She hates everybody. As a result, you can accidentally accelerate her death since she’s a targetable hostile just as are all the giants about her. Very soon, a red-named frost giant joins the fray and the dragon’s death is assured if you cannot get his aggro and that of the other giants off Aussircaex.
Should you defeat the giant horde, Aussircaex comes back to her senses and holds off on eating you in exchange for offering you one of the dragon essences that you came for. Normally, here, I just take the item and leave.
Next time that I ever do this quest, I’m going to kill that smug dragon to emphasize how she’s so not going to be part of the Prophecy if I can help it.
She’ll wish she was enthralled again by a mindsunder after I filet her and her mate for dragon steaks and stew for the dojo’s next tailgate party.
Wow. See how frustrating these quests can be? I just threatened dracoicide simply because I got fed up with rescuing ungrateful beings in a nearly impossible adventure.
Completing these three quests opens up a new battle against Sor’jek Incanni. Yep. You did kill him atop Tempest’s Spine. Now he’s back as a lich and using dead dragons as well as elementals and giantish magic, manipulated by The Truthful One to make an undead draconic army.
Sound exciting? Well, not really.
Again, fail to read up on this quest on the DDO Wiki and you’ll likely fail. It’s timed, and you must complete specific parts, activating runes or switches and slaying a mini-boss that controls part of Sor’jek’s machinery. The fights are tedious, long, difficult, and hardly fun: they’re simply a slay-them-all format. Worse of the four is a quest where you’re on rising platforms with air elementals and giants ready to blow you or knock you off, requiring you to reenter the fight.
Once all that nonsense is done, fighting Sor’jek is allowed (try to approach him before this and you’re killed by a force field). Not that the fight is exciting. He’s a haughty, huge bag of HP with little gained for you at the end of it all.
You see, throughout these four quests you’ve not only gathered dragon essences but Draconic Runes, collectibles used to create Dragontouched armor. While once, this apparel was worth the grind, the game now offers armor and clothing that’s far easier to obtain and is far more versatile.
Further, the runes come in many types that may or may not offer you what you want on your armor. You can convert three runes to gain a new random one, but that means you’d also have to run the Reaver’s Reach chain over and over again to obtain more of these bound-to-character collectables.
And did I mention how much of a pain it is in terms of time to enter and exit the Reach? You jump off a ship and have to swim to enter, and then you’ll need to get the Stormreaver to give you the Fly spell to fly up to the area’s exit. I don’t mind that the first few times, but yikes! Would it hurt to add a direct teleport to and from the Refuge and not to its airship?
Concluding my list of rarely-completed quests, the Restless Isles will leave those without a Shard of Improved GPS quite lost and confused.
The two quests, “Slavers of the Shrieking Mines” and “Bring Me the Head of Ghola-Fan!” aren’t bad at all.
Trying to get to either of them through the underwater paths from micro-island to micro-island is a bit tedious as you must find keys to unlock your paths if you haven’t a lock picker handy.
To give the area some credit, finding quests in the Kings Forest and Underdark is much harder.
I add this here because I have never, ever entered the raid here, “The Titan Awakes.” I hear its a pain to do, with bashing pillars in the right way and then using a frickin’ laser to zap a maddened Warforged Titan. It’s so off the list of things-to-do in the game that I’ve never seen an LFM for it in several years to even tempt me to try it.
Sir Geoff of Hanna noted a recent (successful but overly daunting) trial of completing the raid, very short-manned, with two hirelings. Were I to have a Gamer Girl like his–and boatloads of patience and perseverance I lack–and he reminded me that there’s a pre-raid to complete first.
What quests have you given up on ever doing again?