Updated Thu, Jun 02, 2011 by gunky
The Halls of Night shows another side of the Lord of the Rings Online, especially when compared to the Inn of the Forsaken. Where the Inn of the Forasken is a high-adventure, fun-filled romp through devious traps with a lighter emphasis on combat, the Halls of Night is a nightmarish, violent struggle through a surreal dreamscape of undead horror. This is the "other half" of Update 3, the darker side, influenced by the fevered dreams of Hobbits ensnared in the depths on the Barrow-downs on the way to an even darker adventure.
The nightmare starts in Aughaire with a man named Declan, whose grandfather went missing some time ago. He is worried, and sends you off to discover the man's fate. Following the trail, you come to a recently-unearthed barrow at 0.4N, 37.6W, tucked into the hillside in Fasach-Larran. Stepping inside (via the Instance Join panel), you see the earthly remains of the tomb's chief occupant, plus his super-awesome throne.
Examining the throne has an immediate hypnotic effect, causing everyone in the fellowship to fall fast asleep. When the group awakens, they find themselves in a strange, hazy, unreal place wearing strange-colored burial robes. The color of your robe can determine how and what you will fight, as it makes you "attuned" to beings of similar colors. For example, if your spirit color is green, you will be "attuned" to green spirits, and killing green spirits will apply a buff which causes you to do more damage with attacks.
Exploring deeper into this hazy, surreal place, you will encounter your friendly guide, Shadow. Well... not that friendly. He explains briefly that you are inside a nightmare, and that in order to meet the dreamer, you must first pass his test. And in LotRO, "passing a test" generally requires killing stuff. This first fight will set the pace for all the others that follow.
You are faced with a pair of tombs and a tomb-guard. When the fight activates, the tomb-guard charges in, and the tombs spawn colored spirits. These spirits will keep spawning as long as they remain standing, so at some point, you will want to destroy them. But first, you need to kill the tomb-guard, who protects the tombs and heals any damage they take. Priority is generally tomb-guards, tombs, then spirits last.
A traditional group (tank, DPS, healer) is ideal in here, but this setup is not strictly enforced like it is in Inn of the Forsaken. The tank picks up aggro on the spirits, the DPS handles the tomb-guard and then the tombs, and the healer keeps everyone standing. This can be somewhat difficult for tanks, as the spirits keep spawning in regularly and will immediately head for the healers. It can also be difficult for healers, who are under constant threat of attack by the spirits. DPS has it easy. Note that the tomb-guards will frequently attempt to heal themselves or their tombs, but that the healing induction can be interrupted. They do this a lot, so having reduced cooldowns on interrupt skills helps. Also be aware that the diseases the spirits apply sap power - you'll want to pot them off quickly or risk being totally drained before the fight ends.
The second fight, further down the hallway past the wall of blue fire (which disappears once you complete the first "test"), is nearly identical to the first, but with the addition of a Hungry Spirit - a colorless ghost that will race in and sap the power of whoever it aggros on first. When these Hungry Spirits come up, they are priority targets. Drained characters lose their fancy death shroud and are slowed considerably for the duration of the fight. The spirit-drained effect does not go away until a short while after combat ends. The attack they use which causes the spirit-drain has an induction that can be interrupted.
The third fight is one tomb-guard and 3 tombs. The number of spirits that spawn in during this fight can get a bit overwhelming, so good tanking will be crucial here. The group's DPS'er may need to take a break from tomb-smashing to helping keep the spirits under control. This is the last test before Shadow introduces you to the architect of this hazy reality - Nightmare.
Nightmare has an awesome throne with a funky disco doorway behind it, and the throneroom is fairly intimidating at first glance, what with the four tombs and their associated tomb-guards lining the path. But no worries - you don't have to fight here yet. Nightmare wants to act like a bigshot first and let you know that you're not exactly welcome here, and Shadow wants to instruct you that there are a couple of other ugly situations to deal with first. Pick a path, left or right.
Down the right-hand path lies the path to Terror. First you have to deal with the pair of tomb-guards and the patrolling hungry spirits. Wait for one of the hungry spirits to draw close to the foot of the bridge and fight the two of them there. Trying to take on the tomb-guards at the same time as the hungry spirits can be potentially disastrous. When fighting two of the hungry spirits, it will help to have 2 classes with frequent and reliable interrupts, because they're going to keep trying to drain someone's power. The fight against the two tomb-guards and their charges is pretty much the same as the other fights except that there are 2 of the guards.
This is what your screen looks like when you get spirit-drained. You lose your fancy robe, all the color drains out of the world, you move slower and are less able to defend yourself. Generally, when you get drained by the hungry spirits, you will want to wait for this effect to wear off before engaging the next group... but sometimes you won't have that option.
Next up is Terror. He lurks in a cavernous room with nasty purple splotches on the floor. These are inert at the start of the fight, but you're going to want to avoid them later on. At first, Terror seems like nothing more than your average, everyday harmless ball of blue light. When you pull close, however, his true form is revealed.
Terror hits pretty hard - tanks need to prepare to take a pretty savage beating. This is compounded when Terror summons two lesser mirror images of himself to join in the fun. The lesser Terrors have significantly less morale than the main guy and are easy work to tear down. Each of the Terrors hits equally hard, so you may want to divide them up between the three members of the fellowship. Additionally, the purple puddles will get electrically charged during the fight, and stepping on them when they are charged opens up a swirling nether-vortex which stuns anyone standing in it. Better to just avoid the puddles. This fight tends to run a bit long, so plan for an extended fight and conserve power until the third disappear/reappear trick. For the third set, you can ignore the weaker clones and kill the boss one, which will cause the clones to despawn. Kill Terror and survive to loot the chest and you're ready to take on Panic.
The path to Panic, on the left side of Nightmare's throne room, is similar to the path to Terror: another group of 2 tomb-guards and a matched pair of hungry spirits. However, with the full bloody moon and cold, vast star-field hanging overhead, this path looks a lot cooler. Dispatch the spirits in the same manner as Terror's lackeys and you're ready to face Sub-Boss the Second.
Panic's room should be strangely-familiar - it's Halbarad's library in Esteldin turned upside down, complete with a study desk acting as a chandelier. Panic has himself a couple of tomb-guard goons. You'll want to take the goons out first and interrupt their heals.
There are a couple of ways you can approach this fight. After you get the tomb-guards down, you can each take turns beating on Panic according to the spirit-color he is drawn to - when he is attracted to your spirit-color, there will be no spirits of that color around the edge of the room, but when he is drawn to another color, your color of spirit will be standing there. When you're not attacking Panic, you can attack your color of spirit and build up your spirit buff, doing more damage when it's your turn to smash the boss.
Alternately, you can completely ignore the mechanics and just tank-n-spank. There's no penalty for doing it this way. The colored spirits don't aggro unless they are attacked, and you can ignore them for the duration if you so choose. The spank-n-tank method actually ends this fight a bit faster.
At last you return to the throne room, and Nightmare drops the miserly jerk act, showing his true Rogmul form. When the fight starts, a bunch of genuflecting tortured spirits appear around the outside of the walkway. Your goal here is to avoid damaging any of them, so keep the fight contained to the middle of the room and away from any tortured spirits. They don't aggro unless attacked, but can be hit by wayward area-effect attacks which will cause them to fight and possibly get killed; at the very least, they make the fight more difficult and cause the challenge to fail, and since there's no reason to fight them at all, you may as well avoid them.
Nightmare will call in the tomb-guards one at a time throughout the fight, and the tombs will activate and spawn spirits. Kill the tomb-guards first, then the tombs, then clean up the spirits and beat on Nightmare. The tank will likely have the toughest time of it, as Nightmare has a draining attack similar to the hungry spirits, and he will drain his primary target early on in the fight. Those not holding Nightmare's aggro will want to stay at his back, as he has a nasty frontal-area-effect attack. This one is also an endurance fight, and power-draining diseases can pose a real threat. Make sure you have lots of disease and power potions, and conserve your power as much as possible for the 4th tomb-guard and wave of spirits.
After defeating Nightmare (and hopefully having avoided killing any of his tortured victims), you are treated to a little theatre and given a couple of chests to loot. You can now exit via the disco swirl and return to Declan to share the unfortunate news about his grandfather. This instance pays out in skirmish marks, but not nearly as much gold as Inn of the Forsaken. You are also granted a new emote for completing the challenge - /dream, which causes you to collapse to the ground in a deep slumber. Hopefully, your dreams are much more pleasant now that the Nightmare is defeated.