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Soon you
can be a half-elf hottie!

If
you've been watching Ten Ton Hammer's coverage of style="font-style: italic;">Dungeons &
Dragons Online Update 7, you
already know that the long-awaited two new races, the half orc and the
half-elf will make their debut with Update 7, coming in late October.
The half-orc sports more appearance options of any race, from tusks to
tattoos, plus a substantive +2 modifier to strength, and the half-elf
takes advantage of the social mobility of her race, affording her
plenty of aggro management racial abilities and a special "Dilettante"
feat, which allows her to temporarily take features of any other class.



We also saw a bit of "The Chronoscope" at PAX, a twelve player raid for
level 6 players (an Epic version is also available for level 20
players). With The Chronoscope, Turbine put some backstory to the
mysterious disappearance of Nat Gann, an NPC juggler and entertainer in
the Stormreach marketplace. At the behest of Nat's relatives, players
will journey back through time to discover Nat's fate on the eve of the
Devil invasion, a fateful day in Stormreach's history.



But Turbine is packing much more into this update - style="font-style: italic;">DDO's
biggest yet (and after past updates, especially Updates 5 and 6, that's
saying something) - and Ten Ton Hammer recently logged in to check out
two previously unrevealed aspects of Update 7: the Drooam Adventure
Pack and the Endless Night live event coming later this month.


Enter the Droaam

The meat and potatoes of Update 7 is a brand new level 12 story arc
revolving around an ominous influx of monsters from Drooam, a monster
kingdom previously on peaceful terms with the Coin Lords of Stormreach.
To quell the growing unease in Stormreach (or perhaps to delay
Stormreach’s preparations for all-out invasion), Drooam has
sent Hesstess, a medusa, as an ambassador to negotiate with Stormreach.


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Meeting with Hesstess

I first met Hesstess in Lordsmarch Plaza, a new public area just off
the Marketplace, and the first question I had for Ian and XYZ is why I
wasn’t immediately turned to stone. Mythological influences
are only too common in style="font-style: italic;">Dungeons
& Dragons
lore (we’d
meet up with some angry minotaurs later), and in most cases I know
enemies in the style="font-style: italic;">D&D
bestiary retains their traditional powers.
In response, style="font-style: italic;">DDO
Producer Erik Boyer and Design Director Iain Currie
bade me go through the quest dialogue, which with some welcome humor
informed me that the stone gaze of the Medusa only affects enemies of
her choosing. For the moment I was safe from prematurely seeing my
stony, statuesque likeness.



As with the style="font-style: italic;">Sentinels of Stormreach
adventure pack, the Droaam
adventure pack sweeps you up as a principle actor in the story while
still relaying the idea that bigger things are afoot. The meeting with
Hesstess fails to satisfy Stormreach officials, and in the
“Diplomatic Impunity” questline, the player is sent
to a remote spot thick within a beautifully rendered DirectX 11 jungle
setting where the Droaam are ostensibly seeking to establish a new
colony. Without giving too much away (you’ve probably guessed
by now that the Drooam are up to no good), the scouting party and I
were treated to a glimpse of a coastline pocked with tents, soldiers,
boats, and equipment – in short, an invading army
that’s fairly Hellenic in scale. We beat a hasty retreat to
convey the news, and along the way we had to decide between fighting
through a Wild Man encampment or risking discovery by Droaam scouting
parties. Some of these battles were a little closer than we would have
liked, and Erik commented that “the Droaam monsters in the
region are tougher than typical monsters because three sisters, the
Hags, have come up with a way to organize them and make them more
powerful."


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Droaam army camp

Arriving back at the Stormreach
encampment, the imperative now is to
delay the invasion as long as possible, and there’s no better
way to delay an army than to take out its high command. We parleyed
with Ilos Hrolk, the Droaam commander, who also just happens to be a
half-orc in an impressive set of white armor that will soon be
available to players. Ilos made us an offer that we refused, things
turned violent. Soon after, the Commander was among the dead and we
were pounding sand back to Stormreach.


Special Ops – DDO
Style

For part 2 of our plan to delay the Droaam invasion,
“Framework,” a nearby Minotaur tribe is known to be
sympathetic to the unrecognized monster nations of Khorvaire and must
be dissuaded from allying with the encroaching Droaam army. The Coin
Lords hatch a plan to use a “Wand of Rock Solid
Evidence” to petrify the Chieftain of the Minotaur tribe and
thereby frame Hesstess, the Droaam ambassador. Doing so involves
repairing some siege machinery and catapulting ourselves into a
well-defended stronghold  (channeling a well known pre-release
Warhammer
Online
trailer, no doubt)
then do the deed while
simultaneously remaining unseen. If Minotaurs see our party,
they’ll sound the alarm and offer our small party more
charging and knocking down than we bargained for. The medieval
stronghold itself is labyrinthine (pun intended) but well designed, and
is one of the best above-ground dungeons I’ve seen in style="font-style: italic;">DDO.


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The Minotaur Fortress

The deed completed, it’s time to close the loop by
confronting and dispatching Hesstess, who has undiplomatically turned
the guards and Coin Lords to stone. An optional quest involves freeing
the Coin Lords from their stone prison. One of the mysteries before us
is how Droaam forces found their way into the palace, and the kobolds
with explosives strapped to their back in the library offered some
clue. Exploding these nasties activated the library’s fire
suppression system, which in addition to adding a nice atmospheric
touch made things a little difficult to see. Our objective was to find
a blue strongbox with stone to flesh potions, and this box has been
hidden by the Stormreach researchers (just in case of such an event as
this) in any one of six locations (the location is shuffled with each
playthrough).



Potions in hand, we slink through back passages and hallways into the
Coin Lords sleeping quarters, where four of the petrified patriarchs
were guarded by elementals of each type. The key to these encounters,
of course, is to try to attack the elementals with the opposite element
– fire to water, etc. With the Coin Lords free, players will
find out how the Droaam entered the Palace, then explore the upper
levels of the Palace (which offers never before seen views of the
Marketplace).



On to a climactic showdown with Hesstess in her quarters. Being that
she’s a medusa, and this time in a less than accommodating
mood, I figured this would be a tough time. I was right. Waves of
Droaam mercenary adds  proved quite a challenge, all the while
dodging the cone of effect of Medusa’s stone gaze. The stone
gaze is powerful indeed, but even when paralyzed, players have a
constant chance to save and eventually players break free. A little
knowledge of the weapon Jason used to defeat the original Medusa proved
useful. As for how, we’ll leave you to figure that out.


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Fighting Hesstess

Killing Hesstess offered not only excellent loot and experience, but
killing a boss or renowned monster also offered a good chance to earn a
guild renown reward as well – something new added with Update
7. Guild renown rewards boost guild xp and levels your guild toward
things like the massive guild airships introduced in Update 5. The rate
at which guild renown is earned has increased as well for medium guilds
(20 to 50 players – a bonus was already in effect for small
guilds). Another welcome change for guild renown is that when counting
active players, the system looks at all characters on an account, not
just the characters in the guild.


Endless Night Falls on Eberron

“The Thirteenth Moon of Mabar – the Plane of
Endless Night – is a nice setting for something
that’s an Eberron equivalent of Halloween.” Erik
explained. The Plane of Endless Night has crossed over into Stormreach
in the House Jarasco enclave, and before my eyes the enclave took on a
far more sinister aspect. Undead appear from the nearby graveyard.
These monsters aren’t aggressive, but become so after being
attacked and actually call other undead for help.



As monsters die, the drop tokens that players turn in for crafting-type
rewards and Motes of Night to the Night Trader. A new barter UI system
has been added to facilitate these trades, and Turbine has plans
to  incorporate bartering into the collectible system and
crafting system to give players a better idea of what they have, what
they need, and what they can make with what they have.



As these collectibles are traded in, the event ticks down to the second
stage, where a Summoning Chamber has been unearthed just off the
graveyard proper. To enter the second phase, the Summoning Chamber key
must be in a player’s inventory (this is either dropped from
monsters or can be purchased with Motes of Night). While we
didn’t venture into the chamber, Erik explained that inside
are four altars that players have to protect lest a Spectral Dragon
escape. If players can destroy the dragon before it escapes,
they’re rewarded with dragon scales which can be used for
some of the higher end rewards for the event. If the dragon escapes or
players take too long, they’ll fail the quest.


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The Night Trader

“The thing about the Summoning Chamber is that it takes a lot
of coordination from players,” Iain explains. 
“You basically need almost full teams of 24 players total,
which is double our raid size, and the four altar rooms
aren’t easily connected. Players have to split up and use
communication to coordinate their actions. There’s also a way
to debuff the dragon where timing is important. It’s a pretty
interesting challenge.” Iain also noted that the encounter is
available to all tiers of players though the summoning event is
stratified by level (levels 1-9, 10-14, 15-19, and level 20), and Erik
added that it is possible for four really coordinated players to pull
it off. But with 300 players playing whack-a-mole with the undead in
the first playtest, you won’t be short of groupmates.


Update 8

The Droaam adventure pack and Endless Night event will be available
free to all players later this month with Update 7, and for some
equally good news yearso we won’t have to wait long at all to
see a continuation of the Droaam story arc. Erik hinted that we
haven’t seen the last style="font-style: italic;">DDO
update for 2010: Turbine committed
to six releases in 2010, and Update 8, the sixth, will be out later
this year. Our apologies to the Turbine families and their holiday
plans, or perhaps Turbine has simply gotten that good at cranking out
content- and feature-rich updates.



Our thanks to Erik
Boyer and Iain Currie for an extensive hands-on tour
of Update 7, and we promise to stay out of Hesstess’s stone
gaze in our next playtest!



To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Jeff
Jeff joined the Ten Ton Hammer team in 2004 covering EverQuest II, and he's had his hands on just about every PC online and multiplayer game he could since.

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