Syp is AFK on vacation this week and put out a call for substitute writers! Today’s guest post is brought to you by DDOCentral. Check out his blog for more great word-stuff!
Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO) recently celebrated its 10th anniversary in February 2016, which is a milestone within the MMORPG gaming community. Not only is DDO one of the few MMOs to have supported its fantasy world continuously for over ten years but was also the pioneer of the hybrid free to play business model now common with PC based MMOs.
There are currently 128 free to play quests in DDO, with the three most recent f2p quests released on May 10th, 2016 as an extension of the 10th anniversary celebration. The official 10th anniversary update earlier this year introduced the Gnome and the Iconic Deep Gnome player races to DDO and the subsequent Update 31 is appropriately entitled, Gnomework.
All three of the f2p quests feature a Gnome NPC quest giver and each of the quests somehow involve one or more of the gnomish qualities of exploration, illusion mastery, and invention. ‘Good Intentions’, ‘Memoirs of an Illusory Larcener’, and ‘Search and Rescue’ are offered at both the mid-level Heroic and upper level Legendary quest difficulties.
Search and Rescue
The third quest in Gnomework is the only one that takes place in The Forgotten Realms; the gnome NPC Popkin ‘The Shiv’ Shortshanks is found in front of The Lonesome Tankard inn near the village of Eveningstar’s periphery. Popkin explains that she and her comrades were exploring an ancient tomb in the Stonelands after hearing rumors of treasure buried there and then things went sour.
Reconnaissance had been going well until Popkin found a secret door at the back of the tomb leading to an underground cave complex. The party entered the passageway and were ambushed, with everyone splitting up during the fighting. Popkin escaped out a back entrance but is now afraid to re-enter the tomb by herself to find her lost friends.
The young female gnome implores the adventurers to recover her five disappeared compatriots: Tristran, Lianter, Kirina, Helayna, and Jarus. An old man in a “funny hat” (probably Elminster) gave Popkin five Word of Recall trinkets that will transport the party members back to Eveningstar when used from the Stonelands. The adventurers take a wagon to the Stonelands Crevasse and are greeted by a cacophony of harpies after sliding down a rope into the rocky chasm.
Once the party has dispatched the harpies and some Stoneland scorpions, the players enter the tomb of which the walls are lined with glowing Netherese orbs. The orbs can be smashed which will dim what little light exists in the tomb’s chambers.
Waves of undead come at the party and chamber’s secret door can be opened by locating two control orbs among the breakable orbs. Further fighting brings the party to the Master of the Tomb, a mummy named Laeron and his Helmed Horror honor legion. Destroying the mummy allows the party to find a lever behind the throne.
The lever is pulled back to reveal a delved cave entrance. The players are set upon almost immediately by subterranean monsters, including Umber Hulks.
The five lost adventurers are all over the map, but the first one found is most likely to be Jarus the Purple Dragon Knight. Some dialogue will explain what the preceding party had encountered in the underground tunnels and then the players can send Jarus and the others back to Eveningstar.
As the party explores the cave network, there are more mobs and finally a band of powerful kobolds blocking the path to a lava filled hemispherical cyst in the crust of the layers of stone beneath the Netherese tomb. If the kobolds are beaten, the wall of fire preventing entrance to the lair of Daeronnax the red dragon will drop.
Slaying Daeronnax and his kobold entourage will set free the fourth lost party member. The fifth party member (or what remains of him) needs to be found behind a sealed door
elsewhere among the passages to complete the main quest.
As enjoyable as the primary section of Search and Rescue is, the quest’s optional is that much better. The optional for this dungeon is the most extensive in DDO and is effectively another quest by itself.
If the players thoroughly probe all of the dead ends in the cave network, they will find an entrance to the upper fringes of The Underdark. Beyond some burrowing Umber Hulks, the opening to more caves can be found in a partially collapsed tunnel.
Once inside, the party finds the area is a drow elf outpost and must battle drow archers, drow casters, and driders to move deeper into the maze of caves and underground
Obtaining a silver key is necessary to open the drow vault’s door where more of the dark elves are guarding the drow command’s living quarters as well as the entrance to a lower level summoning chamber used by drow arcanists.
The end fight takes place in the summoning chamber where the party must subdue summoned slaadi (of the red, green, and blue varieties), more driders and drow elves, and finally Il’tharis the Terrible. Il’tharis is a grey slaad, from the executioner sub-species in slaadi society, and is the first appearance of a grey slaad in DDO.
Executing the high priestess of Lolth, Mistress Laerion’vyr, in her chambers ends the optional after the summoning chamber altercation.
The drow outpost optional in Search and Rescue is nearly pure Menace of the Underdark, the largest and most popular of DDO’s two paid expansions over the game’s history. Players have been clamoring for more drow elves and more Forgotten Realms and they receive those things in spades with this update.
There is even an easter egg for the observant behind some rocks near the opening to the Underdark optional. The avalanche caused by umber hulk activity has crushed what
appears to be a dead Phaerimm, a malicious creature found in The Great Sand Sea of Anauroch in the Forgotten Realms.
The Stonelands are on the way north to Anauroch, so this squashed Phaerimm may portend a future update featuring a showdown with the shadow mages of Netheril.
Gnomework is free to all and the quests begin in the mid-level Heroic range, with one quest (Memoirs of an Illusory Larcener) set at Level 13 on Heroic Normal. Even if you have never played DDO before, you can jump into the action and try out these quests by purchasing the Iconic Deep Gnome player race from the DDO Store. All Iconic classes start at Level 15 and are fully geared. See you in game!