My good friend, frequent Long Shot commenter and contributing writer recently pointed out the lapse in DDO-related stuff here lately, and senior developer Knockback’s recent forum post giving a sneak peek at Update 24 seemed like a good opportunity to do just that.
Heart of Madness
The first item mentioned, which based on replies to the post seems the least well-received, is a new adventure pack involving the plane of Xoriat encroaching on Eberron. In game lore for the Eberron setting, Xoriat is the realm of madness and the source of bizarre creatures like the iconic D&D monsters beholders and mindflayers. The craziness from Xoriat that spills over into the regular world features in more than a couple of quests, including the Harbinger of Madness pack that has your adventurer working with reporters from the Stormreach Chronicle. That has long been one of my favorite story arcs, if only for the fact you get to act as a freelance journalist while investigating a mystery in the harbor.
The new pack features three dungeons, the return of characters like the Lords of Eyes and Stone as well as a notoriously nutty fan favorite to appear in the quest “Fashion Madness.” The pack will be 450TP (free for VIPs), and is slated for preview on the Lammania server this weekend.
Since rolling up my main DDO toon Schir Gold as a chaotic neutral-aligned character years ago, and maintaining that alignment throughout her many lives, i always felt a bit of connection to the Xoriat-related content, with all its googly eyeball imagery and insane situations like constructing an airship out of animated furniture. Many DDO players seem to dislike a lot of these quests…but then again, the forums are filled with people who seem to dislike just about everything and yet continue to play. Who’s crazy now?!
That other place DDO ventures
On the other side of the dimensional rift, the Forgotten Realms side of DDO will have a new dungeon themed to tie in with Wizards of the Coast’s main storyline running through their pencil-and-paper D&D material “The Tyranny of Dragons.” This is very exciting news, because it tells me the D&D license relationship between Turbine (the makers of DDO) and WotC is strong enough that their big picture promotions are cross platform. i’ve always been a proponent of a stronger relationship between the two and long hoped DDO was the flagship D&D videogame. News like this makes me think that is something the folks at these two companies are working towards, which is great news for DDO.
The new content for Tyranny of Dragons is going to be free-to-play for everyone, which gives further reason to suspect stronger support for WotC towards DDO. If it’s free, then PnP players might be more likely to check out tabletop D&D’s digital counterpart.
Classic D&D adventures
The success of the DDO iteration of classic D&D adventure The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar is getting another installment with Update 25’s plans for the release of
The Temple of Elemental Evil!
Dungeon magazine ranked this beloved D&D adventure the 4th greatest of all time in 2004. The quest has been around since 1979 when Gary Gygax designed it for his group of gamers, and was collected and published in 1985 for geeks everywhere to enjoy. There was a sequel to the story in 2001 called Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, as well as a 2003 computer game hailed as “one of the most authentic PC Dungeons & Dragons experiences of the past few years.” As a diehard D&Der myself, i of course played through the game which was both extremely challenging and supremely fun – and the closest to PnP gaming that i’ve ever experienced in a videogame. My fondest memory of playing it was when i found a particular room’s battle to be too difficult that i snuck past it, around the corner to a secret door through which i discovered a treasure hoard. The moment i plundered the gems there, a shriek came from the other side of a curtain to a larger space where, apparently, the BBEG of the whole thing waited. The gems were linked to her power somehow, and by simply swiping them i’d defeated her, whatever elementally evil plans she had and therefore the entire quest.
Several posters on the DDO forum responded to news of this classic dungeon making it’s way to our game with pleas to develop it as more than a single standalone instanced quest, which is something i agree with wholeheartedly. The whole story includes an adventure called The Village of Hommlet and in total is just a huge adventure. Later developments of the story had it dovetail into several other adventures like Scourge of the Slavelords, Against the Giants and Queen of the Demonweb Pits, and perhaps we’ll see those make their way into the DDOverse at some point. The latter of those stories led the heroes into a fight against Lloth, who is already a big part of DDO, so maybe this enormous storyline will someday link together. The Forgotten Realms in DDO at this point is primarily high-level adventure, and personally i’d like to see some top-down development that would include lower level heroic content there as well.
And if anyone on the DDO team is reading this and thinking about other classic adventures to develop, i’d like to throw Expedition to the Barrier Peaks into the ring right now. And also appeal to your good (extra)senses to add psionics to DDO!
Personal DDO milestones
On a smaller scale, my DDO play experience has had some cool developments recently. Due to becoming a lot more busy with two jobs as well as a dedicated regular feature here on The Long Shot (that will be included on The News-Herald blogroll soon!) i left my VIP subscription behind to go to a free-to-play, or premium account. So far, i haven’t noticed much difference. Notably, there are several adventure packs that i don’t have access to which is kind of a bummer, but there is still more than enough content to keep me busy having fun. That being said, i’m not sure which ones i may have already purchased in the last eight years during spurts of non-VIP status. And the announcement of Update 24’s Heart of Madness pack means i’ll have to start stockpiling TP earned through favor rewards since i no longer get my VIP 500TP each month. While i could just purchase TP in the DDO Store, i’ve been trying to avoid that so perhaps i’ll have to do some farming via multi-server questing to fill my coffers. Since i have access to iconics, i’m thinking that shouldn’t be too tough to just roll up some level 15 toons across the servers and blow through enough content to get TP.
Going premium and avoiding DDO Store purchases also meant i had to earn my Heart of Wood to reincarnate Schir the old fashioned way – through Tokens of the Twelve and Commendations of Valor. Fortunately, when i cancelled my sub i was also on the last life of the TR train i boarded years ago. At that time, when Schir was just a lowly first life artificer – the class that immediately became my favorite – i decided on a plan to acquire a suite of past lives that i felt would make her the ultimate representation of her class. The plan was three ranger PLs for the ranged damage, three sorcerer PLs for the evocation DC and spell points, and along the way the druid class was released so three of those for the buff on the artificer’s iron companion. At one point, i deviated from the plan to try out a pale trapper build, from which i snagged a wizard PL for +2 spell penetration that doesn’t hurt.
At times i contemplated getting three barbarian PLs because hit points, and fighter, rogue and monk PLs for their bonuses, but while on my last life as a ranger i simply couldn’t wait to get back to artificer. And also, remaining strictly chaotic neutral in all Schir’s lives meant i couldn’t do monks anyway.
Now, settled back into life as an artificer to stay, i am having a blast!
Never one to min/max an optimal build, i instead built Schir’s final life the way i envisioned it those years ago. She has the Dragonmark of Making which boosts her Cannith Crafting skills and, although that subsystem of DDO isn’t the greatest, it’s still fun to experiment with. Plus, you get decent ROI by breaking down junk loot for platinum and essences. My system has been working out pretty well so far. After a day’s questing i hit the auction house and post anything lucrative on the shard exchange, and anything with augment slots on the regular auction. The rest is broken down at the crafting station. One day, i hope Turbine gives Cannith Crafting a pass at which point my investment into Schir’s skills will pay off handsomely.
Another great aspect to settling into this as a final life is in regards to her vast collection of loot. When it comes to gear, i’m a bit of a snob and like all my stuff to have at least dark blue borders from named and raid loot. Over the years i’ve amassed a substantial hoard of doodads, thinking that someday i might need them for some life or another. But since i’m an artificer to stay, it’s been great to unburden my vault of things i know i’ll never use. A lot of the stuff was bound to character, which basically meant i just sold it off cheaply to a vendor. That being said, the real treasure trove was in my gargantuan ingredients bag that held things i could sell off for tidy sums like Scrolls of the Antique Greataxe and other commonly sought epic crafting ingredients.
Speaking of ingredients, i noticed Schir has been carrying around thousands of trap parts for who know how long, so i thought i might get into crafting traps and grenades a bit as well. From what i understand they’re not all that spectacular, but still, i’ve got the ingredients so i might as well use them for something. There’s also a smattering of Shroud crafting ingredients in the bag, as well as a plain, untouched green steel heavy repeating crossbow in the bank. Raiding in general is something i’ve never done more than a handful of times, but i’d like to change that and i think eight years is a long enough time to go without any green steel. So if anyone on Sarlona server needs to fill a raid slot with a capable artificer who has very little knowledge of raids, look me up! Adding an alchemical repeater to Schir’s loadout would also be great…
Overall, since i feel comfortable staying an artificer, it’s really been a hoot to start using a lot more of the consumable items i’ve accumulated over the years. My crafting levels shot up by a huge margin after some time making and breaking shards, since i had thousands of essences laying around, as well as millions of plat to spend on whimsical items. Currently, in addition to Shroud ingredients, i’m in the market for Free Agent Fuschia hair dye and maybe a new hair style – the dragonhorn flip isn’t my favorite.
Lastly, something that has had a big impact on Schir’s life is the recently-added Harper Agent enhancement tree. For quite some time, folks have been clamoring for a third artificer enhancement tree, and i’m here to say there already is one. It’s the Harper tree. Granted, i’m no build expert but from what i’ve experienced so far this has everything an artificer might want.
- INT bonuses
- INT to hit and damage
- Universal spell power bonuses
- Weapon enhancements
- Spell point bonuses
- Listen, search and spot bonuses
- Melee and ranger power bonuses
- Minion bonuses
- Skill bonuses
And that’s not even a complete list. What more could an artificer ask for? So far, i’ve invested almost entirely in this tree, as well as the human racial tree for the dragonmark, and more INT.
As you can see, i’ve started to put points into the Battle Engineer tree as well. Call me crazy, but i dig that runearm and the decreased cooldown and run speed while charging feel like a good investment to me. Originally, i thought i’d focus on the Arcanotechnician with an eye towards fully beefing up the iron companion. With the druid PLs, Harper bonuses and augment summons feat i figured why not go all the way? Plus, since Schir has the Construct Essence feat so she can repair herself, the companions self-repair to nearby allies seemed like a good idea. However, i don’t think there will be enough AP to go around. Additionally, the companion still bugs out enough that it gets on my nerves so i don’t know if it will be worth it as she gets higher in level. TBH i think i might just swap out the augment summons and Harper minion points entirely at some point. Which i guess would make the druid PLs not as impactful as i thought (but i still had a great time playing a druid so it wasn’t a waste).
You might also notice the melee weapon Schir is wielding there. That is the longsword Sirocco, which currently is bejewelled with a Ruby Eye of Force. Thanks to the Harper tree’s melee power and INT to hit and damage abilities, Schir has had great success as a hand-to-hand combatant. Her much-beloved Frozen Tunic also helps in this department, since it procs quite a bit to aid in mitigating damage. Artificer’s have medium armor proficiency automatically, and while this would give a serious boost to AC, PRR and MRR, i just love that Frozen Tunic. In higher levels, i still haven’t decided what sort of armor she might use. Black dragonscale is nice, as is the blue version. And level 18 will let her don the Elocator’s Habiliment that i’ve been a fan of for a long time (yes, even the look of it…Mirror of Glamering anyone?). That shadowscale stuff look pretty cool, too, but that’s a long way off from level 12 where she’s at right now.
Switching it up between melee and ranged with repeating crossbows, the runearms, spells and boosts to wands and scrolls was always one of the things i enjoyed most about the artificers, and in DDO changing your gear frequently to meet the situation is a mainstay, so i’ve really been relishing the versatility.
At the end of the day, i’m most happy to report that DDO is still very much a fun game. We’re getting a great update soon, and there seems to be a closer relationship between DDO and D&D which gives me more confidence that the game will continue for some time. On a smaller scale, i’m having a helluva great time with Schir Gold back in the saddle as an artificer to stay…unless they come out with psionics then i might have to stock up on Tokens of the Twelve for another TR!
As always, thanks for visiting The Long Shot and making it all the way to the end of my longwinded posts. If you would like to contribute to The Long Shot, please drop me a line. Be sure to check back every Friday for the Week in Geek – a roundup of science, technology and pop culture news.
Follow @longshotist on Twitter for frequent shares of related articles and (hopefully) humorous nonsequiters.