Choose My Adventure: Plumbing the challenging Delera’s Tomb in Dungeons and Dragons Online


This week’s Choose My Adventure ended up being a bit more challenging than I had expected it to be. Primarily because my level five character in Dungeons and Dragons Online was taking on a series of level seven quests, even though the chain started at level five. Luckily, I felt like I was up to the challenge: I have a pretty high AC, I had two swords, and I’m also a cleric whose whole bag is taking down undead.

What was there to worry about?

The setup was once again pretty routine by this point, although the NPC who set me upon my quest to get to the bottom of some mysterious goings-on in the titular tomb was a bit of a snob. Even so, I at least didn’t have to deal with him too terribly much, as I was mostly working with another member of the Order of the Silver Flame.

Apparently, Delera herself was something of a significant hero among the Order, so naturally it was super strange that she would fall to some form of corrupting influence. I once again saw how this story was going to resolve a few miles away, but I also didn’t really care because I had a great time when I was faced with another on-the-nose storyline last week. I eagerly leaped in… without paying attention to the level.

As I started making my way through the central tomb of this quest line, it was almost immediately apparent to me that things were much harder to take down than I expected. It wasn’t insurmountable – my favored weapon was still in play – but it was also quite a surprise. Even so, when I first went in with my twin swords, I was almost entirely overwhelmed by sheer numbers. No matter how high my AC might be, eventually some of those hits were going to land, and being as surrounded as I was, numbers and dice rolls were certainly in the enemies’ favor. So once I realized that I was facing a sterner challenge, I immediately swapped back to my trusty sword-and-board loadout.

Still, it was a bit confusing initially. Why was this so rough? Was this an extreme dungeon even though I don’t recall seeing that tag before I began? In spite of my confusion, I continued to push forward with only a little bit of concern, since my shield and the associated shield mastery feat ramped up my armor just that bit more to make things feel slightly less uncomfortable.

Once I got through the winding catacombs of the first dungeon, beat the encounter, and turned in for the next step, I decided to pay closer at the popup that arrived before entering the second instance. And that’s when I saw the level discrepancy: casual would be level six, but normal is level seven.

This gave me pause. On the one hand, two levels’ worth of disparity seems pretty high, particularly for this game where each level is basically five XP bars’ worth of progress. On the other hand, the skills I was using, my AC, and my overall stats were such that I was able to push forward through the first dungeon delve successfully.

Armed with knowledge and recalling the need to actually read the tooltips, I ventured forth on normal.

Perhaps it is because I am an undead fighting cleric. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been pouring all of my points into the “right” skill tree. Perhaps it’s because I got lucky rolls on the stuff I was wearing going in. Or perhaps I was more comfortable with my class than ever before. Whatever the reason, I was moving through each quest step of this storyline bit by bit. Some fights were closer than others, the span between resting zones sometimes felt pretty lengthy, and I began to despise the mage skeletons and incorporeal wraiths that much more, but I was making slow and steady progress. I felt confident and empowered. I felt like I had figured out the game.

That feeling only got better when I took a moment to head to the inn and adjust my spells to better suit the encounters I was facing. Regrettably, I couldn’t remove the three flavors of Inflict Wounds I had, primarily because those spells heal the hordes of skeletons I was facing, but I could at least remove them from my hotbar. I had also filled a pip of level five that opened up a new light-aspected melee attack. I paired that skill with my usual melee ability, locked down two light-aspected ranged spells, and made damn sure Turn Undead stayed right where it was, and ventured forth.

These decisions all made my final few runs that much easier, even in spite of some of the dirty tricks some of the tombs pulled, such as ranged enemies hanging out on platforms that I couldn’t immediately get to. I have to give a huge nod of thanks to my Searing Ray spell in specific, which one-shot these annoying little buggers with absolute impunity.

So now, on top of enjoying the storyline, the tabletop RPG cheesy goodness, and the kind of jank but still fun combat, I was also getting a hang of some minor buildcraft. Preparation of spells made the difference between victory and defeat. Hell, I even did the extra quest that was in the Delera’s Tomb map just because I felt like I could. About the only risk avoidance I took was lowering the difficulty of the Return to Delera’s Tomb quest from normal to casual, but mostly because normal was level eight and I knew that casual (at level seven) was something I could manage. Even if these were older quests, I had a fabulous time and learned so much. The only thing I could ding would be Gary Gygax’s DM narration, which sounded a bit like he was blithely reading copy.

I cannot say enough great things about my time in DDO at this point. Sure, it’s not moving nearly as fast as Neverwinter does, but I don’t want to blitz to cap. I want to be eyes-deep in tabletop adventure, even if that adventure isn’t the most tightly written thing in the world. I want to keep on experiencing the stories, experimenting with my class, and perhaps seeing what awaits at the top end – I understand that there are certain afflictions or effects that hurt a whole lot harder, but I still remain curious even if I’m not curious enough to go full speed to cap.

Dungeons and Dragons Online might have arrived to me at a perfect point when I’m looking for some new-to-me adventure, but it feels so much better to me. Neverwinter might be a better game, but DDO is a better experience. And that’s what makes this one rise above for me. Hell, I’m moved to subscribe to this one.

In any event, that’s going to all happen offline and outside of this column, as May is over with and June is arriving. That means that we’re headed into our next game, and as I promised in April, we’re moving in to the winner of one of that month’s polls, Age of Conan.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve played this game, so I’m pretty much going into this month without a whole lot of expectation. That said, I have at least skimmed through the classes and would like everyone’s help with the choice…

What class should I roll in Age of Conan?

  • Tempest of Set. AoE ahoy! (12%, 4 Votes)
  • Dark Templar. Like paladins but blood magic-y. (6%, 2 Votes)
  • Barbarian. I mean, what else would you be in this world? (48%, 16 Votes)
  • Herald of Xotli. Sword mage! (27%, 9 Votes)
  • Necromancer. For maximum spooky. (6%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 33

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As always, polling will wrap up at 1:00 p.m. EDT this Friday, June 2nd. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to play more DDO completely free of polling guidance. Not to suggest that everyone’s choices weren’t awesome because they were, but it’s going to be nice to choose my own adventure.

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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