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.

Star Trek Online FE304: Coliseum (spoilers)

Vanity, thy name is Reman shields

You can’t think of “Star Trek” and coliseums together without thinking immediately of the original series episodes “Bread and Circuses“, where the Enterprise crew beam into a 20th century version of the Roman Empire, and “Amok Time“, where Kirk and Spock battle to the death on the planet Vulcan. (The director of “Bread and Circuses”, Ralph Senensky, blogs about directing that episode — a must read! Includes bloopers!)

In “Coliseum”, the folks at Cryptic have managed to include nods to BOTH episodes AND to the Star Trek Enterprise episode “Desert Crossing“. If it sounds like there’s a lot going on in this episode, then you heard right. And speaking of sound — make sure your sound and especially your music is turned on. There’s a point in the episode where you expect to hear a certain bit of music — AND YOU DO.

Spoilers after the break. Or, if you read this on my RSS feed, prepare to be spoiled. I’m going to be switching between screenshots of my Federation and my Klingon runs… they were identical aside from the PCs (who were played both times by Longasc and me).
Continue reading Star Trek Online FE304: Coliseum (spoilers)

Wizard 101: Arena Season 1 and Automagic


Well, given the state of PvP as aptly described by The Friendly Necromancer, where endless reshuffles and easy access by everyone to the most powerful healing spell in the entire game combine to make duels extremely lengthy affairs, I’m not sure how Wizard 101’s Season 1 Arena will work out, but they’re going to be having a go at it.

Without the superior gear available as rewards from World of Warcraft’s arena battles, I’m not sure how many people will really want to do hours long duels (even the 2v2 I was doing with my balance wizard + random partners tended to last ages), but for good or ill, the promised arena battles and pvp ladders are coming today. The standings are by level and by overall success, and come with badges and rewards you can’t get any other way, so if you think you have a meaner killer instinct than your everyday, common, pig-zapping wizard, why not visit Diego in Unicorn Way and sign up?

Sean Emeraldweaver, a Wizard101 blogger from Alaska, wanted me to show his video advertisement for his blog, Automagic. Hey, I’m proud to write for Sean’s second favorite blog ;) It’s wonderful to see so many new W101 bloggers. The game definitely deserves more press!

Wizard 101: Housing slump? What housing slump?


I scurried my way to visit a housing turtle as soon as I finished patching Wizard 101. I wanted to get started decorating my house as soon as I could, but which?

I’d been thinking about buying one of the Wizard City castles, but when I tried to decorate it one last time on the Test server, I found the outside difficult to work with. I talked it over with Kasul, and he convinced me to go with a Marleybone home.

He was right, of course. After all, the builder turtle for Marleybone was named by the people who read this blog! The very least I could do was give him my business!


Thomas came by to offer some decorating tips, and some friends of his popped in, and one of them had this fantastic idea to go do some 4v4 dueling. Off we went, and we were soon matched up against four identical wizards in Krokotopia garb. But though they were lower level, they were professional duelers and more than held their own in the battle, especially once Thomas’ friends took off leaving us, a Death and a Life wizard, hardly powerhouse damage casters by any means, holding the bag.

The other team had more than enough Rebirth treasure cards to slow the fight down, and of course I could match them Rebirth for Rebirth, so the fight couldn’t end until all of them ran out of mana eventually. After about half an hour of a pointless fight we never asked for, we excused ourselves and took off. Dueling? Nah, not any more. Rebirth has made 4v4 duels last forever.

There ARE some unique housing items available for duelists… so maybe someday.


I traveled the worlds of the Spiral looking for found or bought items. This is only the bare beginnings, I have a lot more stuff to find, but — here is my parlor. There’s a settee under the bay window that you can’t see, two overstuffed chairs in front of a roaring, candlelit fire, a piano and bench with the Life symbol above, and a bed upstairs.


This is my park. A maple tree dreams over a still pool, and a found jade column sits decoratively in the back.


My sorcery room. If I ever get the urge to return to Dragonspyre, I can sit and wait here until the feeling passes. I didn’t even know I HAD this little underground room until I found it, entirely by accident, while exploring. It’s my favorite room so far :)

Next time, I’ll be going from boss to boss seeing if they have anything for me, and I’ll probably bring Allison to double my chances.

I hope Kraysys drops something nice….