Now Comes the Dawn

One thing I neglected to mention in depth from the latest Update 27 content in “Trials of the Archons” is the named loot.

Like the archons themselves, the quality and amount of named gear is luminous.

But one item in DDO’s page that details the items grabbed my attention immediately.

The hunt began with the release, and part 1 of that hunt ended last night in spectacular fashion.

Tyrs Paladium, my home on the Ghallanda server, completed a Heroic run of the three new quests in Amrath earlier in the week, and then proceeded on a Epic run last night. I led a group of four able-bodied folk into the three quests, all on Epic Elite.

I’m usually pretty conservative on difficulties when in a live party. But I was in control of Szyncletica the Starwielder, Solitary Destroyer of the Shroud. My strongest offensive character.

After gathering for buffs, the very first thing I wanted to check was the CR level of the trash we needed to clear at the start of “The Archon’s Trial.”

The trash was CR 76. That’s not a typo.

Szyn behaved as a ranged tank, her Improved Precise Shot and off-hand Fiery Detonations by her off-hand Celestia easily aggroing everything in sight. Combined with her permanent Haste and attack speed from the Blinding Speed epic feat, I was able to keep the swarms from overwhelming us in most locations.

Then there were the bosses. The bebilith mid-boss was a CR 83 as was the Planetar leader end-boss. While the bebilith fell after about 5 minutes, the green-skinned Planetar was the biggest bag of HP I’ve ever encountered. Before we could concentrate our fire on her, we had to dispatch her entourage of super-deadly Lantern Archons that peppered us with Searing Light rays of 150 points of damage or more, and Devas with brutal bludgeoning attacks.

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It took over 10 minutes of continuous fire and beat downs to defeat the Planetar.

Onto “Demon Assault.” That run gave our team no dramatic surprises until the end-fight. I tried to pull a few enemies at a time, keeping the team far from the lethal Shavarath blades.

Having run this quest a couple of times before, I recommended that the team fight the boss first to complete, which typically has left a gate between the boss fight and a shrine open to us. But on Epic Elite, that gate closed, and we were met by dozens of Shavarath renders of fire, frost and flesh, trapped there to fight or die.

It looked like we were about to immediately wipe as Dungeon Alert built up to Orange, but IPS came to the rescue. I circle-strafed the entire legion of renders to keep them off the main party while they chewed on the boss. That had to be one of the most intense tanking fights I’ve done in a long while. Thankfully, the spawns did stop and we completed the quest and then took on the optional meralith for a trivial chest and some additional XP.

In the last quest, “The Devil’s Details,” even the normally trivial Tiefling Marksmen were deadly as we raided a stronghold of Aaretreikos. By the end fight we chose to stay at the top of the stairs to limit what we had to fight. The Erinyes boss–so strikingly beautiful as she was deadly–was a CR 83 as well and took some time to kill. After completion we finished off what trash remained between us and our end-loot.

I didn’t see what I was looking for in my allotment, but a fellow guildmate did receive it and passed the item to me.

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Behold, the Dawnbringer. The fourth named shuriken in-game and the second one to come with both Heroic and Epic versions and an augment slot. And, like all other named stars, this is a Bound-to-Account weapon.

The stats you see above reflect what the weapon does when I, as a Ninja Spy, equip it.

The day was over and I haven’t yet a chance to see what it can do. But soon, legions of evil, soon you will follow and fall to the Dawn.

 

Hark, The Herald Angels Fight

I'm captivated by the erinyes, red-winged and powerful. Why am I attracted to bad girls? You'd think one divorce would fix me of that.

I’m captivated by the erinyes, red-winged and powerful. Why am I attracted to bad girls? You’d think one divorce would fix me of that.

Real-life and work have definitely curbed my blogging efforts of late, leaving me little precious time to complete the substantial updates in The Book of Syncletica with builds and what-not, as well as general help here and there in the player-base. A crisis caused me to miss a scheduled appearance as podcast guest on DDOCast last week, which vexed me greatly. I can’t provide enough apologies to Shamgar and anyone who tuned in.

So I’m trying to make up for lost time and posts by going straight to a brief talk on the new release of Update 27: “Trials of the Archons.”

For past update, the most we’d seen of the Good-aligned celestial forces in the battlefields of Shavarath are skeletal remains of fallen archons on the battlefields and one living archon we are able to free and speak with briefly in “Wrath of the Flame.” Atop the floating fortress of Amrath, we can see one of the celestial cities floating far off. And that was it, until now.

Something (perhaps our collective ass-kicking adventurer lifestyle) has compelled the archons to call on the adventurers to assist them. But the trust of the archons is not given easily.

“Trials of the Archons” is broken down to three quests and one raid. The first, “The Archon’s Trial,” sends you through an increasingly difficult set of challenges. The archons initially say that they had a nice battery of canned tests but, since a force of devils and demons have decided to invade that day, why, say you adventurers go off and clean them up for us?

The archons are angelic beings, all appearing to be stunning, flying statuesque humanoid females, always flying and hovering. This holy appearance, however, doesn’t seem to preclude them from applying a certain kinder, gentler type of dickery. It’s understandable from their point of view as the archons have seen how the mortals are easily tricked (see “Wrath of the Flame”) or are corrupted from within (“The Lords of Dust”). Given that their war against the devils and demons (with the devils and demons in-fighting in a perpetual civil war to boot, as noted in “Bastion of Power”) is filled with endless strategy and counter-attack, the archons’ thoughts about who to trust border on insular considerations only.

Thankfully, through the three quests you can complete, you show that you can hold your own in a fight. “The Archon’s Trial” eventually pits you against archons in a duel, and they are hardly pushovers. Since they are Good-aligned (like the Eladrin in the Vale of Twilight) your Holy weapon has no effect, forcing you to change your game.

Quest #2 is “Demon Assault.” If the name rings a bell, it’s because you’re getting a sequel of sorts from the Marketplace quest, “Devil Assault.” Rather than being locked in a small room in arena-style combat, you’re placed in ruins and must navigate through them, slay wave after wave of demons that pour through portal gateways. It’s a trial. You have an optional rescue before your party gets the beatdown of your life from a boss fight.

The last quest, “The Devil’s Details,” requires your party to find out what the great pit fiend Arraetrikos is planning in a new offensive to win the endless war. You’re introduced to the erinyes: The dark, corrupted version of the archon, with red wings and a very nasty attitude.

Complete these three quests and you’re flagged for a new raid: “Defiler of the Just.” I have no more information on this one since it was just released except that it’s got a few serious bugs that may make it unplayable right now.

“Trials of the Archons” has both level 13 and level 30 quest modes to satisfy your tastes. The loot is absolutely incredible. While completing the first quest, I received an Epic quarterstaff that basically will kill anything unholy with great ease.

I first tried quest #1 with the ever-prepared Kiricletica, master of soloing. As I learned later with a party, completing this one took time and, likely, I would have failed my final fight one-on-one against a group of archons. Ninja prowess can only go so far, even with dark finishing moves and deceptive effects. I aborted my Heroic run to join guildmates for an Epic Hard attempt with Szyncletica the star-thrower.

Being what she is, Szyn was able to help beat back the hordes with spamming shuriken. In “The Archon’s Trial” there is a puzzle situation where you should be wary without a lot of electrical resistance and absorption.

In conclusion, these new quests, at least, are a refreshing new addition after the welcome but highly time-intensive “Haunted Halls of Eveningstar” and “Thunderholme” content.

I tried to keep this review spoiler-free, so keep your comments that way, too and let me know how you’ve enjoyed this new stuff.