The Xorian is Deciphered
Last night we tackled a DDO quest called The Xorian Cipher. It's described as level 8, very long, and extreme challenge. We played it on Normal difficulty.
In attendance were Karayasama (Sorcerer 7, Thief 3), Profundo (Bard 9, played by Phritz), Thio (Fighter 6 or 7, played by Lobilya), and your favorite 3000-year old (Wizard level 10). I brought along Tower, a level 8 fighter hireling, and Profundo brought a level 9 cleric hireling to fill out the group. Tower is warforged, so I can heal him, and I've focused some enhancements and gear on doing that well. Profundo's healer gave us the ability to raise dead during the heat of battle. This was quite useful.
I died a lot. In this dungeon there are maybe a dozen rifts, which spawn these strange black glowing energy globes. They wander around aimlessly, and if they touch you they cast a random spell on you. And I do mean random. We got Bull's Strength, Enfeeblement, giant heals, Polar Rays for 100 hit points (that was one death for me), and Stone to Flesh (another one, after something else beat the crap out of me).
There are runes near each rift that allow you to close it, activated by either high Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma. We had all three available. But finding the runes and getting them turned off while there are cultists and undead chasing you isn't the easiest.
The craziest fight came late in the dungeon where we were forced to split up, standing on each of four pedestals to proceed further. Karayasama and I went one way, and Profundo and Thio the other. Karayasama and I managed to clear through a couple of encounters without too much trouble - making a few opponents switch sides at the beginning of battle can do that - and found ourselves in a high arched opening overlooking a giant hall with skeletal archers, a rift, and four named undead who shot lightning bolts.
Profundo and Thio had made it to this hall and were having serious trouble. Thio dropped early. Profundo had survived, with the help of his healer. I summoned my teleporting devil, hoping he would jump down and join in. But he was reluctant. I stood in the doorway as close to the edge as I could, trying to get him to engage. The archers evidently had arrows that did a sonic with a stun, or one of the nameds could do that. I stood there like a fool while they drilled me. Well, I stood there like a fool before that, too, but never mind. I died and the demon did not engage. Quoth Karayasama, "Tolly, you have to dodge in and out, don't just stand there!"
Now that I'm dead, I jump down into the chamber and order Tower to engage. He's doing ok, but he can't manage by himself and eventually he dies.
Ok, things are bad. I think at some point maybe Karayasama got tagged too, I'm not really sure. But it turns out that down a long hall leading from the big chamber is a rest shrine and a rez shrine. The first time I try it, I am tantalizingly close, the cursor even changes to the correct icon, but I'm recalled to my soul stone before I can click. The next two tries are not as close. The fourth time I make it, and my hair is once again red and fabulous. (Rezzing is great for split ends!) I rest and recharge all my mana, too. I call Tower back and he rezzes. I get another summoned creature (another devil, in fact). Profundo, I think has stayed alive, or rezzed himself. We push back down the hallway, killing skeletons, but avoiding the nameds. I grabbed someone's stone, maybe Karayasama's and run it back to the shrine. Profundo grabs the other one.
We're all back in the game, and I start putting up electrical resistance and protection. Which is good because the nameds have decided to chase us into the shrine area. But the resistances are enough to turn the tide and we prevail. However, the orbs from the rift claim another victim - Thio - and we pause to turn off the rift before we recover Thio's soulstone.
When the dungeon is cleared there is jubilation. That was sloppy, to be sure, but we pulled it out, turning what seemed to be disaster into success, though success with a high repair bill.
The last fight went easier, though I died due to stupidly throwing multiple lightning bolts at the named hellhound right from the start. Doh! Fortunately nobody else was so stupid, the hireling raised me, and we grabbed the loot and did a victory dance!
This is how I like to dungeon. I don't demand that stuff be completely fresh - Karayasama had done part of the dungeon before, and helped us speed things along. But it's the polar opposite of what running instances in EQ2 had become: Pull all the mobs in the room and burn them down. No real danger or risk. Any puzzles or lore are completed by someone else that had done the instance dozens of times before I can even read them.
I understand the mentality, and if I had ground through an instance a dozen times or more, I'd be in a hurry. Because I would be farming them for drops or points or whatever, and feeling impatient. But I don't play D&D or RPG's to farm, I play them for adventure. Running something for the fiftieth time and concentrating on efficiency is kind of the opposite of adventure.
Not that there isn't a place for that. That's more the realm of economic/strategy gameplay. Such as mission-running or ratting in EVE. Of course you're repeating it, the mission itself isn't the adventure.