DDO Update 9 Preview: Crafting! Quests! Did I Mention Crafting?

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Players have been clamoring for a robust crafting system in Dungeons and Dragons Online and Turbine has answered their pleas. With the upcoming Update 9, Turbine not only adds a crafting system that should not only please players, but still remains true to the pen-and-paper roots of the game. Not only is there a new crafting system, there is also a brand new adventure pack featuring the first appearance of a hideous new creature, new enhancements, tweaks to combat, and a host of other changes and new things. I was lucky enough to get a hands-on preview of the new content from Fernando Paiz, Executive Producer, and Erik Boyer, Producer.


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You get a new Crafting tab for your character sheet!
The bulk of my hands-on time was spent in the crafting hall (located in House Kundarak just inside the entrance to the Marketplace) going over the new crafting system. There are three schools of crafting: Arcane, Divine, and Elemental. You are not restricted by having to choose a particular school as that you can level all three. The crafting process is comprised of three distinct steps, all of which take place at a different crafting machine in the hall. The three steps are: item deconstruction, shard crafting, and item crafting.

  • Step 1 - Item Deconstruction: This step allows you to break items down for raw materials. The items used are the items that you pick up while adventuring and looting from chests, basically the vendor trash you usually sell off. You have a few options at this stage. You can strip the enhancement off an item (such as the +2 enhancement for a weapon), you can remove the prefix or suffix properties off an item (such as frost, good, evil, etc), or you can disjunction an item making it a blank item that you can add to later on.
  • Step 2 - Shard Crafting: This is where you get the bulk of the experience for leveling your crafting skills. Here you use the raw materials gained from the item deconstruction stage and other items (such as the shards you pick up while adventuring) to create shards of various effects. You can make a bound shard or an unbound shard. An unbound shard you can sell off or trade, but requires more components to make.
  • Step 3 - Item Crafting: This final stage is where you take the blank item you created in the first step and combine it with shards created in the second step to create a new item. Using a bound shard creates a bound item, while using an unbound shard creates an unbound item.

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One of the crafting stations that you will spend a lot of time at.

The crafting is simple and straightforward, but there is a lot of room for customization. Basically, you can view the recipes and see what ingredients are needed. All the drudge work is taken out of the equation: you do not have to learn, purchase, or scribe any recipes, and if you click on a recipe, the required ingredients will be automatically pulled from your backpack. As of right now, items in storage bags will not be automatically pulled so you will want to move them from the bags straight into your normal inventory. Erik and Fernando mentioned that Turbine is working on this and they hope to have the necessary ingredients pulled from the storage bags in the future.

Every recipe has a recommended level, but crafters can create items that are higher level than your crafting skill. For each recipe, the chance to successfully create the item successfully is listed. You need at least a 50% chance to create an item for the game to allow you to make the attempt. If you fail to create the item, you run the risk of losing components. While that isn’t a big deal at lower levels, it will definitely get expensive as you level up.

In addition to the ease and fluidity of crafting, what especially struck me was how the crafting system is close to the spirit of magic items in the pen-and-paper Dungeons and Dragons game, which I’ve been playing for 30 years. (Yes, I’m old!) If you want gloves that provide a bonus to Strength and a bonus to Open Lock and Disable Device, you are now free to do so. This system puts the power of creation in the players’ hands. We can create the items that we want to use. We can consolidate bonuses into a single item so we don’t have to switch back and forth. Granted, you’ll have to work at it if you want Gloves of Uber Roguedom, but the components come from adventuring, not grinding away looking for veins of ore and having some asshat steal your ore while you’re clearing the area.

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Some of the shard recipes for crafting step #2.

Fernando and Erik took great pains to remind me that this crafting system is considered an open beta. When Update 9 is released, there will be a level cap for the crafting schools that will be increased with future patches and Update 10. There might be some tweaking to the items in future patches, but you will not lose any items that you created or any experience in crafting. So you can safely craft away to your heart’s content.

Other New Features

A new adventure pack, Harbinger of Madness, makes its introduction in Update 9. You and your fellow stout adventurers will investigate the disappearance of locals from the Saltire neighborhood and eventually confront the hideous evil behind the sinister abductions. A new monster, the Taken, make their gut-wrenching debut in this adventure pack. I only got to see one part of the adventure pack, the Fear Factory, but other aspects of the adventure pack were shown to Ethec at Pax East and can be seen here in this video.

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The hideous foulness of the Taken.

Favored Souls and Sorcerers will rejoice to hear that they finally get a prestige class. Favored Souls can become Angels of Vengeance whilst Sorcerers can become Earth, Air, Fire, or Water Savants. In addition, all spellcasters have had the spell points needed for casting spells reduced. Turbine is striving to make the spell points needed equate to the usefulness of the spell. With lowered spell costs, spellcasters will have more choices while adventuring.

Some of the combat animations have been changed for abilities such as Trip and Sunder, thus making it easier for you to know that your ability really did go off. There is also a new feat, Shuriken Expertise, and a host of new enhancements. Some new items have been added to the DDO Store, such as new armor kits (for stylin’ and profilin’) and slaying boosts for clearing wilderness areas. A slayer boost of 25% means that for every four creatures you kill, you get credit for five. For max level players, there has been a rebalancing of adventures on epic difficulty. Now, a great deal of the immunities have been removed, especially from trash mobs, and hit points have been reduced.

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A look at the new spring fashions in Update 9.

Since DDO was launched in French and German, there have been a slew of new players pouring into the game. In fact, any DDO client can select French or German as the language. Update 9 is the first update for DDO that launches for everybody around the world at the same time.

Overall, there is a tremendous amount of content coming players’ way in Update 9. A new adventure pack featuring a new monster, new prestige classes, new enhancements, new armor kits, and, of course, the crafting system. I can safely predict that the crafting hall will be overflowing with players when Update 9 launches Wednesday, April 27th. It’s good to adventure in the world of Eberron.

A sincere thank you to Fernando Paiz and Erik Boyer for taking the time to show me the new content in Update 9.

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