Dungeon and Dragons Online Module 8 Exclusive Tour

By Greg "Darkgolem" Stanley, Community Manager

Recently I had an opportunity to spend some time with Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO) Executive Producer Kate Paiz and her fellow developers Ian Currie (Design Director), Steve Muray (Lead Systems Designer) and Jesse Smith (Content Designer) in their newest upcoming addition to Dungeons and Dragons Online, Module 8: Prisoners of Prophecy.  And what a great addition to the game this module is!  There are new quests, spells, character development, monsters, exploration areas and equipment.  Even more exciting, they have hirelings!  Hirelings are not what you might think they are.  They are not simply charmies or summoned monsters with a longer duration, these hirelings are powerful, effective, and much more than a simple target dummy that lasts a few seconds.

A New Start

Character creation has been streamlined and simplified for new players.

Character development has been changed, streamlined for new players.  When you start character development, you will note tabs dividing each step of character development.  First you decide what general play style you will have (melee, arcane caster, specialist, etc.), then you pick class, then a general build within that class.  A general build is more of a specific build, so if you want a fighter, you might pick a sword and board type, or a whirlwind fighter, or similar.  Then you do race, and finally appearance.  If you’re a more experienced player, you can still customize your character.  There is no penalty or bonus for choosing a template or customizing yourself, both get equal access to feats, skill points, and so on.

Each time you level, you can choose to continue the path for the template.  If you’re a whirlwind fighter, for example, and choose the tab to continue on this path when you level, then you will get the next of the complex string of feats you need for that template automatically.  You are not forced to do this however, and can decide to start customizing your character if you prefer.

The whole point of this change is for new players who don’t know the rules for DDO.  They can start right up with a useful build without fear or missing a feat or skill they need, while still allowing old hands to make what they want for a character.

Good-Bye Smuggler's Rest

No longer do you go to Smuggler's Rest when you make a character.  It did not feel heroic to show up and go through the “administrative” style of questing.  Instead, you now appear as a castaway, your ship destroyed by a white dragon, you standing with other castaways in the jungle (as it snows gently due to the white dragon’s cold.)  You end up going through a new beginning quest, a little less formulaic, and with a party of npc’s to assist you, and to provide some of the functions of the game.  For example, a rogue in your party will unlock a door for you, unless you’re a rogue, in which case you can instead.  You fight some Sahuagin (much more preferable to the constant kobolds of the waterfront) and presumably move on to Stormreach.  Theoretically, you could spend as much as 5 hours doing various quests in this newbie area, or if interested in just getting through, can do this much faster.

A whole bunch of quests have been added to Module 8.

Another note for the new player area, the objective screen and hint screen are less in your face.  Remember all the hint boxes appearing in your face as you move along?  No longer, instead they appear to the side of your screen as an exclamation point, which you can choose to open (or not), and clear out at will.  Thank the Silver Flame!!

Quests Redone, and New Quests For Everyone

A bunch of quests have been added to Module 8.  For one thing, 7 low level quests have been “repurposed”, meaning higher difficulty and changed somewhat, but still recognizable.  Some of the quests that were repurposed include The Low Road, and Goodblade’s quests. In addition, there are 2 other low level quests, most likely including the replacement for Smuggler’s Cove.

Higher-level quests include 4 level 17 dungeons and 4 medium sized landscapes (including specials, exploration, slayer quests and so on).  One note about these high level quests.  These are awesome quests.  For example, on quest I did, called “Enter the Kobold” involves very powerful kobolds due to the effect of a dragonshard nearby.  I won’t tell you what is at the end, but just so you know, you will love it.

There is a continuation of the overarching storyline of DDO.  The devil quest storyline is not being advanced right now, instead, the story involving the Storm Reaver has been revisited.  Essentially, the Truthful One is bringing back an old, much beaten enemy, and you need to deal with him.  Details won’t be gone into, but you will have further fights with dragons and giants ahead of you with Module 8.

Hirelings have been added to DDO.

A note for players, this is not a raid, because not everyone likes raids.  These awesome quests are tough but the next raid will be in Module 9.

Hirelings are Here!

Hirelings will change the way questing works.  Here is a basic idea of the mechanics behind a hireling.  First, hirelings are hands down more formidable than summoned or charmed monsters.  They do not have the “charmed” prism on their heads, nor are they dispellable or anything like that.  They also come with their own button bar.  This includes the standard types stuff (follow me, stand still, interact or attack with what I have targeted, and so on), but also has 4 special abilities, which are triggerable by command, even when you are dead!

I can tell my cleric follower “heal me until I say otherwise”, then if I die, the cleric will pick up my soulstone and run to (if there is one) a nearby resurrection shrine.  If I am not near a res shrine (and my hireling survives whatever killed me) I can tell my hireling to raise me from the dead (one of this particular clerics abilities, along with cure light wounds, heal and blade barrier).

The amount of versatility for these hirelings is amazing.  I can pick up my hireling’s soul stone, carry it to a resurrection shrine, order them to resurrect, and so on.  What is more, let us say I come to complex area, such as “The Pit”, and my follower doesn’t follow me properly.  Rather than lose the follower, I can order the follower to follow me, and since they can’t reach me, they teleport to my position.

Hirelings each have their own personalities.

Followers are not lost if you die and they do not have a duration.  Instead, they will stay with you until you enter a public area.  If a quest leads from one quest to another (such as some of the Waterworks quests), the follower will stay with you.  You can have enough hirelings to fill your party, so if you have a full party, then you can have no hirelings.  If you are two people short, then you can have 2 hirelings, and so on.

Individual hirelings have their own personalities.  For example, one hireling (realistically enough) runs around breaking boxes if you set them to do so.  Another hireling might have other individual traits.  So you will want to find out what hirelings work best for your character.  And keep in mind that you can’t have two of the same hirelings, so there cannot be two of “Joe the Barbarian” in the same party.

I can’t say how much hirelings please me.  There are things I like (and dislike) with DDO, but for the hireling implementation, AI and features, I have nothing but complete praise.  The only downside with hirelings is that arcane casters and rogues are not coming with Module 8: The Prisoners of Prophecy, because they are not quite done yet (probably a good thing, considering how much damage a grease or sleet storm spamming sorcerer could do).

Water, Spells and Equipment

Aside from the new dungeons, the new character creation and the awesome hireling features, a lot of the “bread and butter” features of a new module for Dungeons and Dragons Online are included.

A number of  new spells have been added to the game.

Spells are included, such as Death Pact (where a cleric gets an automatic raise dead if they die), Mass Protection from Energy and some others for paladins and similar, are added to the game.  Not a ton of new spells, but definitely some new spells.  The game engine “under the hood” for DDO is getting an upgrade too, meaning that Dx10 will now work for DDO.  Water and other effects are going to look even better!

Armor needs special mention.  Armor can now be made using the eldritch device!  There are three different types of runes, Tempest, Eldritch and Sovereign.  You collect these from quests, and use them to upgrade your armor semi-randomly.  There are three different types of buffs to the armor, each addressed by a specific type of rune.  Each buff can be replaced by using a similar type of rune.  So if you're not happy with the buff granted by using your Eldritch rune, then you can gather another Eldritch rune and use it to replace the old buff.

There are a lot of new features with Module 8: The Prisoners of Prophecy.  Not everything that is planned is coming with Module 8.  Half-Orcs and Half-Elves are planned, and later next year come Druids, and so on.  But the changes that come with Module 8 are pretty noteworthy.  With hirelings, a new character creation mechanism, and all these other features, you're getting a lot with this update.

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