Dev Tour of DDO's Update 22: Pirates of the Thunder Sea
Turbine is celebrating International Talk Like A Pirate day a little bit
early this year. Everyone's favorite holiday normally occurs in September,
but this year players of Dungeons
& Dragons Online will be growling "Yaarrr!" much sooner
than that, with the launch of Update 22: Pirates of the Thunder
Sea. We got a tour of Update 22 with the team that brought it
to life: Turbine's Digital Communications Manager Leo Tan, Producer Athena
Peters, Senior Designers Ben Schneider, Charles Miles and John Cataldo,
and Community Manager Jerry Snook.
The focus of this update is, obviously, pirates. The first major bit that
players will notice is the new Swashbuckler enhancement
tree available to all Bards - perfectly suited for a pirate-themed update.
"The Swashbuckler is a new tree to go along with Spellsinger and
Warchanter for Bards," explained Community Manager Jerry Snook. "They're
essentially based on the Three Musketeers or other swordfighters along
those times and styles. They focus on single light weapons such as
rapiers, and a small shield like a buckler - or nothing at all. They're
very nimble and dodgy, they focus on not getting hit and on making precise
strikes of their own with powerful critical hits and things along those
"One of the reasons we wanted to make Swashbucklers is we wanted to give
Bards some help; they're traditionally not one of our more powerful
classes, so they get a big boost by getting Swashbuckler. Bards are also
free to everyone, so all of our players immediately get to use this. And
we also wanted to introduce a new fighting style which we call
single-weapon fighting, which, in contrast to fighting with two weapons or
one gigantic weapon, this is the more precise style fighting with one
single weapon to do a lot of damage with just that weapon. They get a
bunch of interesting abilities, they get a lot of bonuses to their melee
attacks, they get bonuses to their sonic damage because they're still
Bards and they're still all about the music. They get Fast Movement so
they can run very fast - that's very much in their background and
Among the other cool abilities of the Swashbuckler are the Slap in the
Face - a literal slap across the enemy's face which leaves them stunned
for a short period - and Coup de Grace, which allows for instant
throat-slashing kills against sleeping, paralyzed or otherwise-unaware
Of course, there's more to Update 22 than just buckling some swash. Three
Barrel Cove, a fine pirate haven if ever there was one,
receives a major revamp, with new art and four "epified" quests.
The tour begins in a small coastal village that has not traditionally had
a name, but which has been officially christened "Barrel's Bottom" by the
dev team. The landscape has had a bit of cosmetic surgery, and some things
have been relocated. The newly-epic landscape zone has completely
different monsters and includes new explorer journals to discover, new
monsters and new associated treasures. It also includes a bunch of funky
moored airships that attack you when you get too close. Some will fire
their cannon and other weaponry at you, some will send down enemy pirates
We got a chance to engage in some hearty swashbuckling action aboard one
of the airships for the new epic capstone quest. We commanded the crew of
our airship to man the ballistae and mage-cannon, and got boarded by enemy
pirates. The big "boss" ship closing in out of the mist was pretty
creepifying and was great fun to watch. Interestingly, the glowing-red
ghost pirate airship that attacked us is one of the new models of guild
airship available to guilds.
We took a tour of the guild airships and the new amenities they offer.
Jerry Snook gave us a bit of a rundown on guild airships.
"Besides social interactivity, guild airships in Dungeons & Dragons
Online are a key way to get buffs for your character that you will use in
the dungeons and raids and such that you are running."
In addition to the buffs, they also house utilities - vendors, crafting
stations and other town services. But it's more than just a private
"town." Each guild airship is customizable, and high-ranked guilds can get
bigger, roomier airships, capable of housing more cool stuff, than
"As a sort of high-level summary," Senior Designer Ben Schneider
explained, "when we sat down to design this stuff, we decided that guilds
and the guild airships that support them are really important to DDO. So
this new guild system is much more generous, good-looking and overall sort
of helpful than the old system. Really, we want players to be in guilds,
to have a good time, and to feel powerful and rewarded for doing it. And
because we're in Eberron, we've really stretched the definition of what
you could normally fit on an airship. Whether or not all those visuals are
glamoured, we are not at liberty to disclose...."
"It's Eberron, so it's magic," Jerry Snook offered.
"Wizards did it," Ben Schneider agreed.
"What we've done for this update is we have updated the interiors of all
the old ships and added six new ones," said Ben Schneider. "Basically, our
improvements fall into two categories. We've made all the features of
having an airship for your guild more convenient, and we've made them look
cooler and more interesting as well. The contraption you see in the middle
of the deck is a 'buff bar' - basically, you'll have amenities installed
underneath your deck and when you want to go out and quest you don't have
to go to all the rooms below. You just pop onto your guild ship, walk up
to the buff bar and it grabs them all in one go."
We explored the revamped airship interiors and had a look at all those
"With the old airships, which were all much smaller beneath-decks, the
amenities were sort of little things we placed in spots, and frankly the
visuals were not up to snuff for modern DDO, and there was a lot of room
Instead of little placeable objects, airship amenities are now
essentially entire rooms. Or at least very large portions of staterooms.
"Because the amenities are large now, every one of them comes with
several features," Ben Schneider explained, showing off a room with Green
Steel crafting altars. He also explained the tweaks to the buffs from the
"In the old system, buffs were short-lived, the amenities were rented and
they would go away if you didn't pay attention, and when you died in the
middle of a quest, the buff would vanish. We've made the amenities
permanent, so once you buy a room you have it forever, even if you change
airships. And the buffs last much longer, don't go away on death, pause in
public areas and pause when you log out."
And if you don't want to use the buff bar on the main deck, every new
amenities room has an interactable object in it which the player can use
to receive that room's buff the old-fashioned way. The extra effort is
well worth it - some of the rooms look pretty badass.
Here we see a blank stateroom waiting for an amenity to be added.
Here's that same room with a dojo amenity. Players can click on items in
the room, or use the buff bar on the main deck to receive the dojo room
Same room again, but this time with a creepy library amenity. Ben
Schneider showed off a good handful of different amenities in this room,
with an easy swap each time.
No official release date yet, but Update 22 is on the Lamannia test
server and is expected to launch on live servers "Soon™".
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited Game Page.