Designing “Crushbone Arena”


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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Web developer for a Connecticut-based insurance company that's over 200 years old! Also a bicycler, a blogger, a kayaker, and a hunter of bridges.