Choose My Adventure: DDO’s Catacombs offer a classic taste of the MMOs storytelling


Let me start this week’s Choose My Adventure on something of a tangent – a parallel one, but a tangent nonetheless. If it wasn’t already clear before, I love the D&D tabletop game, at least on something of a brass tacks level. Particularly, I love being a DM because it lets me enjoy weaving a fun albeit admittedly not terribly important tale. The stories I tend to weave in my DMing are very often heavily leaning on some JRPG tropes along with some classical fantasy tale ones. I don’t pretend to be inspired or some great weaver of epics, but I’m having fun, my players are having fun, and that’s what matters.

So when I entered the Catacombs series of quests in Dungeons and Dragons Online for this week’s adventure, I pretty much adored how very on-the-nose and obvious its story beats were. Not because I felt like some brilliant mind when I saw the resolution to the tale from a mile away, but because I really delighted in how straightforward and fun it all was. It really felt a bit like a one-shot that I would run.

This time around, most of my delving into this series of quests was happily not on my lonesome, as I was joined by Sophiskiai, a wonderful reader and regular player among MJ’s usual D&D MMO streams. They very kindly granted me an invite to their guild, gifted me a nice wooden weapon (for those times I face grey oozes or other weapon-eating critters), and joined me in what ended up being the bulk of the quest line.

The setup started off with a simple request as most DDO adventures do: I was asked to find out whether a young lady named Marguerite was all right, which saw me enter the Catacombs themselves, a sort of dungeon and family tomb operated by a religious order. Almost immediately, things went awry from the very start, as the location was being haunted by the undead – an occurrence that should not be possible considering the wards that are supposedly put up in the area.

As we went along, slaying skeletons, ghouls, and zombies, we ran into someone who claimed that Marguerite was the one commanding the dead, even going so far as to give her the title of Mistress. Before I could glean more answers from him, however, he turned into a werewolf and forced us to cut him down.

As the questing and the search for answers continued, we came across this person by the name of Graylight, who ended up directing me to the next few steps of the quest. Considering his penchant for arriving at just the right moment at every single quest step, I immediately was suspicious of his motives, and as it turns out, I ended up being correct: Marguerite was under the thrall of a shadowy beast while being left to rot by her father, but it was ultimately the machinations of Graylight that caused her to slip into darkness and summon the dead to attack, all under the command of a long-dead spirit by the name of Gerard Dryden

Considering her sad tale, I told her to return to her uncle while I confronted Graylight, then confronted Dryden in the final battle, all of which ended up being a pretty straightforward, combat-focused tunnel of a ride that, while hardly surprising, was intensely entertaining.

While the Catacombs questline definitely didn’t hold many shocking twists, I’m actually very glad that I got to take on this quest line next, particularly after the comparatively more complex (or at least less simple) storyline that moved me through Saltmarsh. This was, ultimately, a perfect little one-shot adventure that had obvious baddies, fun fights, and some great company along the way. It also certainly helped that I was playing a Cleric; the Turn Undead spell definitely made a lot of things easier.

Also, the Catacombs quest line ended up being my first experience with an extreme difficulty dungeon, which sounds a lot more severe than it actually is since it basically just ramps down the puzzle solving and ramps up the amount of fights I got in to. It was good, shut-off-the-brain kind of stuff that let me fixate almost exclusively on slapping things with my sword, though I expect that having Sophiskiai along to help out through that encounter did a lot of the heavy lifting. It was nice to have a friend along who dual-wielded crossbows and looked like a badass while doing it.

By the end of it all, I had a great time with a simple but enjoyable story, I got myself to the next level, and best of all, I got a hair dye that lets my character rock some nice lavender hair. It’s not quite as bright pink as I would like, but I’ll absolutely take it.

I also managed to get myself a new feat that made me proficient in any weapon I carry as well as a new bastard sword. Over the course of my checking out whether it was better than my longsword or not, I actually ended up dual-wielding both it and the longsword. Which suddenly made me curious… was it possible for me to put my shield away for a bit and go into fights with twin swords? Considering how quickly I cleared through the Catacombs and my own desire to play more, I elected to find out by picking up a couple of little single missions in the Marketplace.

Now I admit that these quests are level four, making them one level below me and overall pretty simple. Even so, the answer to my question was a delightfully resounding “yes.” Even after I selected a quest that ended up being another Extreme dungeon, I was able to keep using my twin swords as I cut through kobolds, troglodytes, and zombies. I was genuinely not expecting to have access to a fourth weapon set, but here I am, rocking pink hair and two swords. Life in DDO is good.

In spite of my ability to manage slightly lower-level quests with my new setup, I still think taking on things that are on-level is probably the way to go considering I’m looking to keep earning levels. I’m not quite so motivated by XP so much as story, but it is good to take on things that are on par. So yes, that means there’s one more poll of choosing which location to head to next, but once more it looks like I’ve got a lot of options open to me.

What adventures should we close out with?

  • Tangleroot Gorge. Let's get into the wilds. (19%, 11 Votes)
  • House Phiralan. Just because! (4%, 2 Votes)
  • House Kundarak. Yet more classic questing! (11%, 6 Votes)
  • Delera's Graveyard. Time for some more spooky. (39%, 22 Votes)
  • Three-Barrel Cove. Get some (probably) piratical stuff going on. (28%, 16 Votes)

Total Voters: 57

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Polling will once again wrap up at 1:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, May 28th. In the meantime, I’m probably going to busy myself with clearing one or two more Marketplace quests. Or three. Or five. I just want to be sure this dual-wielding thing is a good idea, honestly.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Chris each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures – and you get to decide his fate. Which is good because he can often be a pretty indecisive person unless he’s ordering a burger.
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