Last night, I got to do one of my favorite things in MMORPG's - go through content completely cold, and a little under powered. It makes for exciting times, and this was no exception.
Wednesday is our regular guild night in DDO. When Karaya finally logged in, after a long evening (for her) of roller derby, we decided to try Stormcleave Outpost, a level 8 quest given in an inn in House Deneith. There were three of us, Phritz, Karaya and me. None of us had done it before, and it said it would probably take a group, so that was perfect.
Karaya played Veltena, her level 7 drow rogue. Phritz brought Profundo, who is a dwarf, level 7, and most of those levels are bard. And of course, there was yours truly, he of 3000 years, 8 wizard levels and fabulous red hair.
I brought along the fighter hireling Tower, because he's warforged, and I can heal him pretty well. Also, I've taken a feat that gives my hirelings, charmed creatures, and summoned creatures all a boost to their stats. Add a Bull's Strength to Tower and he's a serious force on the battlefield. And I can stay invisible, which keeps me from getting killed. Mostly.
Phritz brought a drow cleric, I don't remember his name, though.
The first part of the fun, for me anyway, was figuring what spells to hang. I didn't look up the zone on the internet, I just read what the quest giver said about it, which was that giants and their minions were invading Stormcleave Outpost, and could we please help?
Giants probably have good Fort saves and bad Reflex saves. Will saves could go either way. I guessed that they would not be subject to Charm Person, but would be vulnerable to Suggestion, so I prepped that. I also prepped Grease, because I liked the idea of seeing giants falling down. Profundo wasn't so happy with me though, since more than once I sent him sliding toward pools of lava, though never actually into one. Dwarfs are supposed to be tough to knock over, right?
I had just found the special material components for Stoneskin so I prepared that along with Wall of Fire, just to switch from my usual of Summon Monster IV and my energy protection spell, which didn't seem likely to be useful.
I also ditched all the spells specific to controlling undead. Woops! We no sooner got into the outpost when the guards started telling us about the necromancer and his minions that we needed to kill. Oh well, thinks I, I still have Wall of Fire, that will do a number on the undead.
When we finally got to the necromancer and the undead, they were "charbone" or something like that, and invulnerable to fire. Things got pretty dicey in the final wave of maybe 6 or so of them, but to my surprise, I was able to charm the boss (well, really he was a sub-boss) and he killed all of the rest of the skeletons for us. At which point he fell easily to Tower, Profundo, and a lightning bolt or two from me. (Veltena was a ghost at that time, succumbing to the wave of charbones, I think.)
But I get a bit ahead of myself. We entered the zone and had to search for the entrance to the dungeon and some optional quest goals. We wandered around a bit, killing some kobolds, and clearing a camp of ogres that was there for no reason other than to get us to spend our resources to no great purpose. Kills do count toward bonus experience, if you manage to finish the mission, that is.
Things went ok outside the main dungeon and inside as well for most of the run. Our standard operating procedure was to have Veltena single pull ogres, minotaurs or giants singly using Bluff. Her hide/sneak skills were handy in scouting out new situations as well. We had some trouble with pets and dwarfs getting too close to the action and pulling multiples, which is when Mesmerize and Suggestion came in to play. On single pulls, though, I let Tower do all of my work for me.
We had a few deaths which were easily fixed at nearby rez shrines, and we were doing ok resource wise too. Though our bags were becoming very full, because we were picking up a lot of stuff to advance the quest.
We had to light 8 runed towers, and this powered up a portal that took us to the final boss. There, it turned out that four shards we had found were keys to debuffing the final boss. There were four rooms with force fields over them, and lit crystals. Four corresponding crystals were behind the General, the biggest giant of them all.
Remember that bit about dwarfs gettiing too close and pulling too much? Some dwarf with us ran a bit too close and pulled the general. I tried to tank him with Tower, but Tower did not last very long, that guy hits hard. In short, we wiped.
However, we were able to revive and come back in before the zone reset and tried again. This time we were able to deactivate the crystals and pull the mobs from the rooms thus opened up back into the tunnel and kill them one by one. Veltena did the bulk of the work here, sneaking and hiding and taunting.
At this point we tackled the General and while I could say he went down so easy it was disappointing, I would be lying. It felt good. Mostly I healed Tower until he died.
I wonder how one would approach that final room if one's party could not sneak pull the way Veltena was. Usually there is more than one way to handle things. Perhaps the General is mezzable? Or maybe a good fighter with a good cleric behind her could tank him when blocking with a tower shield, using Intimidate to keep aggro while the rest of the group cleared the other rooms? There are lots of possibilities, not the least of which would be to simply wait a few levels and then just tank and spank your way through it.
I love this open-ended aspect of DDO. There's always more than one way to do things. And depending on who you are, some things will be hard and others will be easy. Most of all, I love that I can mez named mobs. Or charm them and have them kill all of their own minions. EQ2 would never let me do that. That's gonna stay with me for a while.
If you are interested in this kind of play, drop me a line. Flame of the West is small, and probably going to stay that way, but we have room for a few more crazy people who like to be unorthodox and creative. We're on the Ghallanda server; drop me a line.