Designing “Crushbone Arena”

Characters

Tomorrow, the first batch of Cult of the Dragon foundry quests will go live. I don’t know when mine will show, or if it will show. I kinda think the first few batches will have the advantage of player interest. I’ve been over and over the quest since the supposed deadline back on the 6th, ripping out stuff but more often, adding in new stuff. One disadvantage of coming up with the plot last is that by the time I figure out what the plot _is_, I’ve put too much work into the quest to make that plot clear to the player.

“Fire Sale” has had that extra time, and so players should be at least vaguely aware why Zigto and Alsunder each want the Orb of Dragonkind by the time the player has to choose between them. The third, secret path — well, just have to take that on faith, or maybe revenge.

But, all this recent foundry work has gotten me fired up to get going on a foundry I’ve been kinda working on, on and off, for awhile. “Crushbone Arena” is a response to all those quick and dirty “arena”-type quests. You’re in an arena, and mobs come at you in waves, and then after about fifteen minutes, it ends, and you have a daily foundry done.

The vast majority of arenas, must have taken the authors two, maybe three hours to do.

Hardly anyone bothers with foundries once they level up enough such that you need to run four of them to finish the daily foundry quest. There’s better ways to spend your time. People aren’t looking to run arenas.

So, this is the perfect time to do one.

Greater Faydark

Image just above is Greater Faydark — but I’m getting ahead of myself. The top image are some of the NPCs I’m working on; I have a lot more of them now. I’ll just keep making them until I think I have enough for the stories I want to tell. I have the advantage in that I’m starting this quest with the characters from Tempest, so I have a lot of gnomes available. Plus, Prospero now kicks off the quest instead of my avatar that I used for the last couple.

Anyway, the picture above is, from left to right, “an orc slaver”, “Ambassador D’Vinn”, “Emperor Crush”, “an orc pawn”, “Priest of Discord”, “Kelethin Guard”, one of the Nybright sisters (or maybe all of them), “Freeport Guard”, “Maesyn Trueshot”, “a drunkard” (really the dad to the Nybright sisters), “Stefan Marsinger”, “Seana Marsinger”.

There’s no lore reason for the Freeport Guard to be there, but I really liked the character model from Tempest, so he gets to be in the show, along with the enslaved gnomes who you are to free from Crushbone.

Teenage orcs

Even though “Crushbone Arena” won’t actually be an arena-style quest (though it will end in an arena fight because, it’s named Crushbone Arena), I want this one to have a little more combat than I generally have.

As in Najena and Tempest, the quest starts in the secret Norrathian Embassy squirreled away in a non-descript home in Neverwinter. There, a druid shuttles people across the worlds. The adventure usually begins once the player steps through the portal… but this time, when the druid opens the portal, orcs attack.

Turns out the Marsingers at the druid circle in Greater Faydark (work with me; I fully realize they are actually at the wizard spires. Sometimes they walk around a little, okay?). There, they are fighting off some orcs when the portal opens and a squad of orcs decide to run through.

They’ll be shocked when, moments later, having defeated the orcs, the players come through, help drive back the orcs and meet the first miniboss, probably “an orc taskmaster”. After that, the Marsingers will get everyone to safety, do an infodump, and then help the players enter Kelethin, which attentive players will have noticed stretched along the trees above them.

In Kelethin, I begin deconstructing the elves — but just a little. I do want to get people to Crushbone fairly quickly. I just want to pay a little homage to the wood elf newbie experience, first.

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Neverwinter: Frozen Spider Foundries!

Frozen Folly

Back to the Foundry once more. Kasul and I had intended to start reviewing the Cult of the Dragon foundry contest entries tonight, but the start date for those has been moved to next week. The new module and the inevitable Foundry issues made it impossible for many authors to get their quests into shape before the deadline of yesterday passed. For instance, using the words “to pass” anywhere in your quest flags it as profane.

If I wanted a player “to pass” through a cavern… well, wash my mouth out with soap, there might be children playing. Children!

Children might well have played the two quests we got to last night, as they are both featured quests. One currently, one not too long in the past.

H1 – Harrowing Hildbrant by HellsHot

Part 1 of the “Haronomous Saga”. The author’s spelling is so atrocious that I can’t tell if the misspellings of “Hildebrandt” and “Hieronymus” are intentional or accidental.

But you know who doesn’t need spelling? Wizards! Especially wizards who get into magical battles with other wizards and start bringing the copious spider statues — positioned strategically among and above the places where innocent villagers gather — to terrifying life!

Speculator Zigto started us off on a journey to his home town. His brother, a guard there, fills you in on the wizard battle, and asks you to investigate the disappearances of so many people who were apparently whisked from the street by some deadly force. It’s impossible for villagers (or the mayor) to lift their heads to see the enormous spiders crawling among the village’s rooftops, hungrily stalking their next meal.

Still, Kasul and I went through the motions, trying to overlook the pop culture references (Seriously? Buffy’s S4 big bad is a character here?).

Eventually we went in search of the arachnophiliac wizard who caused this mess, but only find his dancing eye familiar and portals to close.

The ending was quite cinematic and a lot of fun :)

The quest was short and linear, and the spelling was atrocious, but at the end of it, both Kasul and I had been entertained. That’s really what you want from a foundry, and so we both gave it four stars.

Frozen Folly by epharmd

This quest was featured late last month, but Kasul and I played it in its pre-featured state back in June. Given how much we enjoyed the author’s second foundry, Bargain Hunting, we decided to see how the first had changed on its journey to featuring.

A dwarven expedition exploring outwards from Icewind Dale hit upon a barrow deep in a mountain dark. Naturally, they called for a little adventuring support, but unwisely decided to go on before we arrived. Drow assassins had gotten there before them and needed no dwarven interference as they themselves rushed ahead to awaken the dormant secrets of the barrow.

Kasul and I didn’t decide to re-run this quest on purpose. To be fair, almost every quest description sounds the same — you’ve been called to someplace to kill stuff. But once in, we recognized the first map full of trash mobs. Deciding to continue nonetheless, we cleared those and entered the barrow.

It had changed quite a lot since our first visit. Epharmd’s tactic of leaving half the quest’s content to be discovered by wandering adventurers was in full force here, making it easy to lose sight of the actual, quite linear, quest. The simple rule to always turn away from the sparkling trail leads players to the best stuff.

We spent a lot more time in this quest than we intended, and ran out of time to do any other quests. But, it was worth it. A nice expansion of the original quest.

Kasul and I both gave it five stars.

===

Next week — will there be Cult contest entries to play? Who knows? But we’ll be there if there are.

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DCUO: Team Spode United

Black Dawn

Was a huge night for Team Spode in #DCUO — the first night we had enough people on to do a couple operations and a raid without any pickup group members. Seeker Oeru (?), the rage tank on the left, joined us after leveling so very fast to join us. The others in the shot below are, continuing from the left, Stingheal, Lord Spode, Kaptain KY, Blighted Redeemer, TealLantern, Stingharm and Clever Clara, who is sporting a teal and white based color scheme as well :)

Since Seeker isn’t T6 quite yet, we decided to try and get some feats in the T4 operations and our old favorite, Sunstone Matrix, a T3 raid that we do in just a couple minutes for easy marks and a speed feat.

Blighted, our league scholar, has been watching all the feeds from SOE*Live. Simultaneously. On huge monitors in his lair. Because of course he is. He’s reporting some pretty cool stuff in the future — and maybe a way to “redeem” myself as the worst controller in the game.

With explosives.

But, we’ll see.

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Neverwinter: “Turtle Soup” Author Talks Back!

Sumo!

Got this note from Shard@prettycelt, the author of the “Turtle Soup” foundry:

Hi there–

Thanks for leaving a review and a tip! Based on your comment about lore, I did want to let you know that Eastern lore does, in fact, exist in the Forgotten Realms, including Yakuza. You can see for yourself:

http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Nine_Golden_Swords

http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Xiousing

And where there’s Shou Lung/Wa influence and Yakuza, it logically follows that there might be Sumo Wrestlers (but we can just call that artistic license lol).

Anyway, thanks again and see you around Neverwinter.

Shard

When I pointed out the sheer anachronism of the yakuza and all that and the mashed up setting, while acknowledging this was, in fact, lore, she replied:

Hehe you’re the second person to say they were ‘stunned’ to find that lore…grimah said the same thing. I like Japanese and Chinese culture so when this contest came around, I already knew about Kara-Tur and I thought there might be some connection with the Cult of the Dragon. I was surprised to find it right there as close as Cormyr! So I ran with it.

FYI I’ve been consistently making adjustments and improvements almost every day, so feel free to try it again when they officially announce it for contest ratings (should be sometime after the 19th, listed on the Forums). Thanks for questioning the lore, though, it prompted me to put the claim that it’s all based on lore right there where everyone will see it, front and center. Still may not help much but it can’t hurt lol.

Take care!

We’ll be seeing Turtle Soup again when it’s featured as part of the Cult of the Dragon foundry contest.

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