Sometimes in MMORPGs dungeon runs are just not doable, the party’s gear level isn’t high enough, or you have the wrong mix of classes to pull off a win given the challenges ahead. No amount of player skill or coordination will make the numbers work to achieve a victory if the monsters are ‘red con‘ or if the tank or healer isn’t up to the challenge.
However, last night in Dungeons & Dragons Online we managed to pull a win out of certain defeat. We had ventured into the Xorian Cypher dungeon for the first time, and very nearly gave up half way through. Spoilers for this quest follow.
We initially took some serious damage and debuffs from the main feature of this dungeon – the randomly wandering semi-spherical chaos orbs that drift along the corridors. Avoiding those is easy enough when exploring, but not so easy when in the middle of grand melees with the many skeletons that come to attack you.
We quickly discovered the need to activate a series of runes to remove said orbs, and with our Artificer, Cleric and Paladin trio, we had the required combination of high attributes (Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma respectively) to meet this challenge.
Half way through we came across the pressure-plate puzzle, where the party has to split into two groups to activate four pressure plates simultaneously. As a trio this would have been a dead-end, except that my Artificer’s iron defender pet can dutifully stand on a pressure plate if commanded to do so. Since we didn’t know the dungeon I stayed right and the other pair went left. That proved to be a tactical error, as after I’d pulled a lever in the ominously empty room, I quickly found myself overrun by a horde of skeletons. We wiped soon after as the other two rushed a puzzle upstairs, and dived down from the opened ledge to join me. They quickly succumbed to the sheer force of the undead onslaught that had felled my Artificer in mere seconds.
After we revived back in the House Jorasco enclave inn, and ran our way through the “Path to Madness” jungle exploration zone that leads to this dungeon, we readed ourselves for a second attempt. Having activating the lever in this room as before, I tried to use invisibility to stay alive while the others completed the puzzle. It seemed to be working for at first until a patrolling skeleton spotted me and my character went down a second time in short order. Our Paladin jumped down heroically as soon as the way was opened, but was promptly held and slain by massed lightning bolt attacks. This was the point where we discussed giving up. It was purely out of curiosity that said Paladin decided to wander down a nearby corridor as a ghost, and found the only resurrection shrine of the dungeon. With him resurrected, rested and in a safe room, we could plan to rescue my character’s soul shard and reunite with our Cleric to face to the three named undead and their minions.
It really was an epic fight in the end, the masses of skeletons handily split into smaller groups and we used our crossbows to carefully pull them into the corridor leading to the rest room, to divide and conquer this encounter.
The rest of the dungeon was comparatively easy afterwards, with the main threat coming from the many, many traps. Thankfully my Artificer excels at spotting and dealing with those.
It’s rare in MMORPG play that you feel the elation of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Often defeat is easy to predict: how much you are healing versus the incoming damage, the increasingly low health of the tank, the damage dealers dropping one by one to attacks – all can seem to lead to an inevitable outcome. Here we really fought as a team to recover what appeared to be an unrecoverable situation. A great session of dungeon-running in the end!