Monday, November 12, 2007

Dungeon Diving: The Elusive Golemancer and Oola's Lab

I should point out before we start that these Dungeon Diving posts are time displaced. I ran through four or five dungeons over last weekend and decided to keep notes which I could bleed out when I needed a shot of content. I know they're labbled "liveblogging" but that means thatI wrote them as things were happening as a record of events and haven't bothered to do much editing beyond making them readable. So, they're lagging behind reality by about a week or so by this point. And won't include the recent skill update for a little while at least. If you want to imagine what it's like picture me playing a healer other than an LoD Monk and not bringing Mhenlo along. There, you've successfully transported this series into the future. I've been playing a bit but mostly by stealing a few minutes here or there to fill in my map or complete part of the primary quest cycle.

Back at it again. (I figure, at this point, that it'll be alright if I can at least make something productive out of it. Hence, brand new series - Dungeon Diving. Recording my exploits in the Depths of Tyria or whatever region they stick these damn dungeon quests under so I have to look through half a dozen quest menu tabs before I can find the right one. Seriously, is it that hard to parse these quest list better? Or give me more options for sorting through them? At the very least, make it so the ones nearby show up and things like quests from freaking Shin Jea Island are automatically collapsed? Every time I load the game I have to play the same game of find the right quest in my huge list of unfinished tasks. It'll save which regions I collapse during a play session but switch characters or reload for a build? Argh.) I'm in the Asuran lands and I have one third of their quest cycle done so I figued I'd give the next part a go. Which means I'm playing Office Space and hunting down an elusive geomancer somewhere in some instance somewhere.

For my group, I've decided to mix things up a bit. Dropping the SF Eles for now in favor of dueling Paragons. I hear this is the hotness right now and I'm inclined to agree. Again, I'm not entirely sure how you go about maximizing their awesomeness but I figure it starts with Aggressive Refrain and Defensive Anthem and gets filled out with a bunch of party support chants to go along with a pretty solid ranged DPS machine. Two Defensive Anthems along with the Aegis I rock means we should have pretty much universal 50% block coverage and that'll soak up a lot of damage. Throw in things like Aria of Restoration and more and it's a lot of defense in an attractive package. I almost went with a MM Necro here but, instead, I'll keep my E/N melee hater around for the Cracked Armor and more. And I'll stick with the same henchie team I've been using - Talon, Zho, Cynn, and, sigh, Mhenlo.

The run there on a gentle run through the country side of Magus Stones. Gentle except for everything trying to kill you, of course. Like large packs of Wind Riders who are still annoying with their interrupts. I remember the first time I encountered them - probably in the test somewhere - they were th efirst critters to really pack effective interrupts. And this was back when queued up attacks could still be interrupted. I went charging in with my Warrior only to get slammed with Cry of Frustration, forcing whatever crappy attack skill I was running at the time as the start of my chain to get blow. Picked myself up, pressed the next skill to start running back into what I liked to think of as the whomping zone only to have it happen again. And again. That's what happened every single mob. If there's one forgotten update I'm glad of it's that you have to be actually attacking to have your attack skill interrupted now. Now, imagine that, except it's me trying to heal everyone through a boatload of degen arriving from the Isle of Pain. Five or six Cries of Frustration going off is unhappy sauce.

What else? oh there are froggies here, too. They're as wimpy as they always are. Oh and Krait who are some kind of distant relatives of the Naga. They have low level ones that cast a skill spawning a random "adult" version. Which, generally, means some kind of nasty caster trying to pound you into dust. The Krait are actually a fairly tough fight but nowhere near as annoying as the Wind Riders - again, it's a numbers thing. Three or four I could pick off easily but they travel in large, diverse packs that force me to target around to find the best target to direct the wrath of my AI forces upon. It's easy to get overwhelmed if you're not careful because they can spike pretty hard. But, again, every thing can when there are enough of them around.

Okay, so I've arrived at the dungeon's gate and I've stood on one leg, hopped around, punched the machine that goes parp, sworn eternal fealty to the dark elder god responsible for spawning this devil race of piranha-faced cannibal pedophiles, and done whatever else I need to do to satisfy the entry requirements. Now it's time to get this show on the road.

And, yes, I know the quest giver here is being all quest and quoting Office Space at me. I'm not falling for it. That movie had some cultural cache some five, six years ago. Now it's just a played out reference. Just one more reason the Asurans will eventually have to burn.

First level. Apparently we're playing a game of spot the right Golem. The one who has the magic power to open up the door to let me continue - and incidentally turn every other freaking golem in the place hostile - hidden amongst a sea of identical duplicates. I, of course, blame the Asura.

Glad I dropped the SF ele because it seems these golems are immune to burning. Brought Anthem of Flame on one of my Paragons and they are not getting set on fire at all. Oh well, the real point of having it is to make sure Aggressive doesn't drop anyway. Have Blazing Spear slotted, too, which means those are just costly +dmg spear skills now. Hate wasting skill slots like that but nothing I can do about it now.

Next cavern you have to hit the lever yourself. You still turn the terracotta army surrounding you hostile when you do and need to fight your way to the newly opened door through a floor littered with the twisted, smoking corpses of automatons. You know, the usual.

On the next floor, it's more of the same. There's a mystical key in the center of some passive golems, when you pick it up they turn hostile. I figured out a little trick here: you can drop the key to turn them passive again if you get in trouble. There's no point to fighting them, though, since they periodically respawn. It's best just to run to the door and unlock it so you can move on.

Running might seem like your best move in the next level, too, although I wouldn't advise it. While you're in the room you'll be under constant bombardment by fire arrows which deal a bit of damage and set you on fire. At the same time there'll be plenty of golems trying to pound you into the ground. However, there's a worker golem near the door whom you can activate. As long as you stay within ward distance of it, he'll protect you from the fire arrows. He'll walk slowly but surely towards the next chamber and let you take down the sentry golems along the way with ease.

Unfortunately, henchies aren't so good about not wandering outside of the safety zone and I lost Mhenlo along the way. He's heavily DPed by this point and the fire degen ate through him in seconds when he stopped to do whatever the hell it was he was doing instead of the right thing. Going back to rez him would be problematic, too. So I'm just going to press on and wait for the next wipe to get him back. Honestly, at this point I feel like I'm better off without him, anyway.

The next chamber features some nasties. Once they're dead it's another game of find the hidden golem and then dragging them over to some switches on the floor so they can play boulder. Got through this room, by the way, without any deaths and without that leecher Mhenlo weighing me down.

In the next room, you're up against an unkillable, gigantic golem. There are some other hostiles to kill as well and I took some frightful losses clearing them out. But once I noticed the Autobot Matrix of Leadership - I'm sorry, the Flux Matrix - on the floor, the solution was pretty simple. You pick it up, run it to the Unstable Energy object to charge it up and then drop it near the golem to cause a groan inducing 1337 damage. I hate the Asura. Took me three drops and some henchie flagging to keep him running around and not pounding on me but then it was on to the next level.

Here, it's a quick jaunt to Oola. There are some golems that turn hostile once you get in range but, by now, they're old hat. And, yes, for the record, I did manage to run the rest of that instance with my healer henchie's corpse rotting in some murky swampy waters after his self-immolation of heroic stupidity. Mhenlo, your bravery in reminding us all of what a dead weight around this group's neck you really are will not be forgotten.

Cutscene time! Oh god, the Asurans have speaking parts, where'd I put the hard liquor? Right, got it. The Asurans are selfish and would rather argue than help me to save the world. But they're also stupid and fall for head games that wouldn't work on a four year old. Thanks game, I already knew that but it's nice to know that I was right about the little piranha mouthed knee biters.

Quest earns me 2.5k XP and 3k Asuran points. That puts me at r3 with 10k or so and now I get +8 energy in their lands. I'll schedule the parade later. I'm also dumped in Rata Sum afterwards which means I can't just head right back into the dungeon to run it for real. Although I needed to stop back there, anyway, to pick up the dungeon quest.

It's not a long run back, though, and I'll use this opportunity to tweak my build a bit for the return trip. I'll keep Anthem of flame around because, really, there's nothing better that will keep Aggressive up consistently - and you just know that if I drop it then the dungeon's going to be full of enemies who take triple damage from Burning or something. But I'll drop Blazing Spear and rotate in a few different attack skills for a try-out.

This quest is worth 7.5k XP, a bit more than the 5k I was getting around Gadd's. So, I'm expecting it to be slightly tougher than usual although not Shard of Orr levels of insanity.

Back at the entrance. Time to run this place for real.

Instead of talking to the Milton-wannabe this time you just have to stroll through the portal. Inside are more and better golems. A few different critters like Skelks and other fodder for your kill count. The most annoying are the Forge Imps but we'll get to those later.

Alright, so it's basically a repeat of the instanced version. You have to slog your way through room after room filled with hostile golem occasionally stopping to solve a puzzle that should only give a mentally challenged third grader pause. The golems aren't too hard to handle, by the way, since they're all melee - either Warriors or Dervs - with the occasional air nuker thrown in for good measure. I, though, have an Air Ele of my own who's packing Blinding Surge. I tend to win those fights.

There are also boss creatures called Flame Guardians who are huge, hulking versions of the caster golems. When they're killed they disable any flame traps in a large radius. So, yes, I kill them whenever I can to prevent Mhenlo from becoming a habitual suicide case.

The map is wrong, by the way, about the boss key. It tells you you'll find it somewhere in the middle of the map when, in reality, you don't get it until the final chamber. Here's how it works. Throughout the dungeon there'll be this Assassin who'll pop up and talk smack at you. Say your mother smells. Your father was a diseased hamster with a speech impediment. Oh, and he's not going to let you have whatever treasure's at the bottom of the dungeon. I try to tell him, "Dude, I'm telling you it's, at best, a crappy rare. You can have it if you want it that bad. I'm just here to fill out my DM's guide." But he's not buying it. And, in truth, he's annoying enough that I'd probably try to gank him while he went for the chest anyway. But, whatever, he'll pop up throughout the dungeon, fight you for a while - which only gets problematic when he spawns while you're pulling something else - until he takes enough damage to go away. You meet up for the last time right before the locked door to the next level where you'll finish him off and he'll drop the key. It's a scripted event, however, since he hams it up on his way down to that great pixel graveyard in the server farm in the sky, and not a real death. You don't get credit for it. Which sucks for me since I had a boss bonus active at the time. That's how annoying this guy is, he cost me 200 Dwarven points just to spite me. I'm convinced.

Second floor. It's more of the same here. Golems. Skelks. Beetles. Endless slaughter that makes me long for the fields of Gual where I can retire to become a farmer. And apparently, make me hallucinate that I'm Russel Crowe. You know, come to think of it, I'm surprised there's not a Gladiator themed reference around here somewhere.

This is the level where last time around you had a helpful golem with an aura to protect you from the fire arrows. This time around he's put on a stick-on goatee and joined the darkside. Because instead of a protective shield, there's now a Malfunctioning Shield Golem in here who pumps out an aura that bestows -50AL against fire damage. Right in the middle of a room full of fire turrets. My prediction? Pain.

First wipe of the day thanks to the crossfire of a half dozen augmented fire turrets. If Mhenlo could actually cast LoD instead of starring at it longingly while thinking of all the girls he's banged we probably wouldn't have. I'm just saying. He's useless.

Past that another invicible golem guards the dungeon key. The same trick with the matrix as before still works and it's on to the boss level.

Down on the 3rd level. Made sure I grabbed the absorbive goodness of the bounty at the door but, really, it's a short juant to the boss.

The end guy who's not, I repeat, not a boss here is the TPS Regulator golem because the allusions to Mike Judge just weren't blatant enough. He's not so tough in and of himself but the environment around him is what makes it difficult. He's flanked by two Flame Guardians and a half dozen fire dart turrets. Taking out the Flame Guardians disables the turrets and makes the fight much easier.

The TPS Golem's a Warrior boss. Pretty easy once you get rid of the Guardians at his side. He has one trick, though, and it's a doozy. He has a skill called Unstable Pulse which is some kind of stance on a quick timer. It says it the golem is stuck by elemental damage for 175 seconds, its damage is converted to that type. Which is nothing major as the Unstable Golems in here do the same thing. But it goes on to say that when it ends, it hits everyone adjacent for 175 damage. What it neglects to mention is that it ends prematurely when it's struck for elemental damage. And that, as a cheating boss monster it deals double damage so it really hits for 350 damage whenever someone wands the fucker.

Talon got shredded by that. But everyone else was mostly okay since they were standing out of range. It didn't take long for the boss to fall and the chest to pop. I scored another useless diamond (Guess I was lying to that Sin all along. But, really, I think a vendor bait gold would be worth more at this point.) along with 500 Dwarven points for finishing the dungeon. Up to about 18k now. And returning to Rata Sum and turning in the quest netted me 7.5k XP and 1.5k in gold.

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