Eka’s “Supreme Ward” Dungeon Introduction
Before I dive into today’s post I’ll just do my ‘brief’ other-stuff talk. So once again as with the three campaigns threads I posted earlier, I do not intend to break my chain of threads. I have no doubt that should anything grand be announced my fellow bloggers (that list off to the right –>) will no doubt catch wind of it and post it. Some may be flower wielding Mythic fan-boi’s and for this we forgive them, and some may be torch wielding fanatics. Mythic no doubt lumps my blog in the latter category and would pay me to shut down my blog if they only had enough money to do so (they offered me checks, but the sums were ‘endless snot green dye’ and ‘a free renown rank usable only RR1-10’ so I turned them down). Actually I doubt my blogs made it onto Mythic’s radar, because if it had they would have sent me nasty emails to stow the subversive banter. Irregardless for news regarding Warhammer Online I direct you to my fellow bloggers. For the next month Eka’s entering the Hypothetical realm…
So this is what it’s all been boiling down to, how I would design my dungeon… Buckle up ladies and gents because Eka’s mind is a crazy place!
When you look at the forums and pry apart all the different requests and gimme-gimme’s what is it most players want and have wanted since Beta? Female Mauraders, barber shops, skaven, player housing, pet monkeys. Well there you have it! I have heard your pleas and have designed a dungeon full of crab-clawed women ready to cut your hair in your own private home – pet monkey in the yard, but alas it is besieged by evil skaven! Hazah all things accomplished! Wait… no… no, that’s not actually what I had in mind. Oh my gosh I’m terribly sorry. Can I start over? I didn’t mean to lead you on… Can we still be friends? Fantastic! Lets start over!
When you look at the forums and pry apart all the different requests and gimme-gimme’s what is it most players want and have wanted since Beta? The other capital cities! Dang it, I’m a High Elf and I want to go to Lothern! I am sure I am not the only one who dreams. In fact, I can neither confirm nor deny that I have gone as far as to finding ways beyond the doors to see what was there… only to have my dreams crushed. Time and time again Mythic has crushed our hopes of those cities, most recently in a Q&A stating that they did not want to detract from the current campaign by adding the other cities (because if they existed then presumably by locking just one pairing you’d be in that city). In fact if you look at the games development and gauge the progression and design of the game by concept art and videos you can theorize that the developers started with the Dwarf/Greenskin cities (architecturally) and moved on to the Empire/Chaos cities, and likewise the concept artists for the NPCs started with the High Elf/Dark Elf NPCs and then moved onto the Empire/Chaos NPCs at which time when both teams were working on the Empire/Chaos cities the powers-that-be nixed the Dwarf, Greenskin, High Elf, and Dark Elf cities. We know for a fact that the Dwarf city existed in game, not just on paper, and was later removed. Why go through the effort to design something and remove it? Why not add them in? Ah of course the campaign… well today I present the solution!
Mythic’s reasoning for no cities – they would split the campaign up – my solution: what if they added to the campaign? What if the remaining four cities were dungeons that required killing the enemy king to access? Think about it, in the safe city the kings are off in the War Room chatting about, but once its under attack they’re mysteriously gone. Where do they go? Back to their city of course! So the concept is you kill the enemy king and upon killing him you get an Ambassador’s Ring and this gives you access to the enemy’s two cities via the War Room; the Ambassador’s Ring decays in 7 days to ensure continued participation in RvR. In this way the two cities are dungeons that promote RvR. I bet you’re going “But Eka you said you hated ‘unlock the dungeon’ mechanics like for Land of the Dead…” Yes, that’s true, but this system would have two venues of access. The first time around you must enter via the War Room (if your city is the only one getting pushed you can still kill the enemy king and then port to the fortresses and go in that way). Going in with an Ambassador’s Ring through the War Room gives you free access. However if the RvR is slow and you want to go in but neither side can push a city you can go back in without begging your realm to push harder! The second avenue of access would be buying a ‘Ward Stone’ which breaks the cities defensive wards for either 5 royal crests or 25 royal emblems, but you have to had gone in normally first and learned the secrets of the wards (like the Mirror of Perpetuity for Vulture Lord). Additionally you can buy an ‘Invasion Leader’ Ward Stone which costs 25 royal crests or 125 royal emblems (discount!) and get your whole party in.
You think I’m crazy eh? This is but the beginning! The next issue I want to clear is up “Ok really, a 6-man taking on a whole city? Is this WAR god-mode?” By no means! You good sir are leading the spearhead of the invasion! Each instance starts with you penned in at the gates of the city, you’ve breached them and now you’re looking down the barrel of the gun thinking “Oh god what have I done…” Ahead of you the legions of the enemy; behind you the legions of your army. Naturally players fighting in their racial opponent city shall have a morale buff (sorry Empire/Chaos folks, but you’ve had your city for two years). In every way possible this is going to be a living dungeon.
“What do you mean living dungeon?” I mean that it is going to be a constant on going struggle between your army (say the dark elves) and the defenders (say of Lothern). Its not that you ‘clear a wing and then its devoid of mobs’, no they will be constantly streaming out of buildings to fight on, no city goes down that easy. So now you think “Wait I thought you hated tons of trash mobs…?” Yes I do, but that is why you have your army behind you! I can see it in your eyes already, confusion is clouding your thoughts. The initial mobs in a location will be hostile and champion status, however once you capture a location your forces tenuously hold it. What I mean by that is that your army is fighting it out with the enemy army – the mobs are neutral to you so you can walk through them as they fight on (unless you want to be a hero that kills the enemies). The point is to make the city invasion look epic, because it should. So there are tons of trash mobs, but you don’t have to kill them because once you capture a location they are neutral, but should you choose to kill them they are easy to kill (as in a heal-specced archmage can one-shot them).
Advancing the Battle
“What do you mean capture a location?” I introduce the concept of Advancing the Battle! The map (the size of a T4 zone) is littered with flags of the defending army, rally points. What does a rally point mean to you the invader? It is a hostile location that if you attempt to run through you will pull aggro. Only until you have captured the flag does your army push to the location and occupy any defenders, rendering them neutral to you. Advancing the Battle would be visually marked on your instance map as a colored sphere expands from your gate to the captured flags so you know which territory is safe to run through.
Capturing the Flag & Party Roles
“So how do I capture the flag? Do I kill the mobs and stand near it? Do I just interact with it for 10 seconds like a B.O.?” Ah if it was that simple what fun would it be…? No what I have in mind is an interactive role of party members. The party leader is by default the ‘Commander’ and ergo the only person who can interact with the flag to capture it; however, the second he interacts with the flag hostile mobs pour onto the location to try and recapture it. It is the job of the other five to keep those mobs off your Commander. The remaining three roles the Commander assigns to four other party members, no member may fulfill more than one role. The second role is that of the ‘Second in Command’. The Second in Command obtains a rune-priest/zealot buff ‘Reinforcements’ which allows you to call for six mobs from your nearest controlled rally point to aid your struggle – essentially cannon fodder. The third role is of the ‘Siege Master’ also granting two rune priest/zealot buffs: the first buff is ‘Siege Crew’ – once a rally flag is captured you may call upon a siege crew to set up at that location and fire upon enemy siege weapons; the second buff is only available when a specific task has been accomplished and it is the ‘Air Strike’ buff which allows you to summon an air unit (manticore, griffon, gyrocopter, wyvern) to attack certain locations, particularly defending siege equipment. The forth role is that of the ‘Purifier’, which can be given to two players. The Purifier is the only person who can enter ‘locked’ locations and set them on fire. Of course while they are inside attempting to ignite the flames, defenders will rush to stop them so once again the other five have to protect the doorway for the Purifier. These roles facilitate access within the dungeon, but by no means are required. Five roles for six players, just in case you’re running with someone whose intellectual capacity only allows for hitting the ‘group heal’ button and they cannot be entrusted with more responsibility.
Siege Within The City
“Siege weapons in the city? Why?” The point of the siege weapons is to add an interesting dynamic to the cities and give you a reason to use the forgotten renown abilities. Siege is a neglected part of Warhammer and in this dungeon it would gain a new meaning. There will be oil to deflect, doors to bulwark, doors to infiltrate, weapons that need buffing/debuffing, and defensive bubbles to shield your team from the rain of missiles. Naturally these renown abilities would have their cool-downs significantly reduced while in the cities. This is not a mindless crawl through a dungeon that requires killing a mob whose only ability is to hit you and maybe cleave. No sir, the mobs here fight back, and they fight back with weapons of WAR. These defenders are trying to push you out of the city, they aren’t just passively going to sit around and wait for you to come aggro them. The passive-defense role falls to the siege weapons, but they are hardly passive.
A Fluid Dungeon
“So how do you plan on designing this dungeon’s layout? I can’t really see splitting a city into wings per se or making it linear…” Its not! In this dungeon you walk down whatever street you want to walk down. You fight whichever boss you need to fight. Your tank needs his shoulders and your healer his gloves and nothing else? Great! That’s all you need to do if it’s all you want. The only catch to this is the first time around you have to kill the four archtypical bosses to obtain a quest item from each which grants access to the King, but once its in your quest bag you can just kill him if you want in subsequent trips to the city (and besides I’m pretty sure on your first trip you’ll want to see it all and kill them anyway =P).
Finally I would like to discuss one last point, who you fight and generally how you go about it. You’ve breached the city gates; you’ve pushed through the defenders and neutralized the siege weapons; you’ve advanced the battle and now you come upon a public quest with a task. One simple task. One simple task with unforeseen repercussions. “Capture the Docks flag, sure that’s easy… dear god there’s a 60 Lord running straight at me! What have I done?!” Whereas in ToVL the tasks before the boss fight require trash clearing, the tasks to ‘activate’ the boss are much simpler. Sure there is trash to clear, but you don’t have to. Perhaps there are precautions you could have taken to ease the fight ahead… rash actions make for rash consequences ;).
One final concept of mine I’d like to introduce which I will use in my future discussion of bosses is what I call “66 MPAT”. What I mean by this is a 66 Mastery Point Arche-Type. What would you buy if you had 66 mastery points? Let me save you some dream-time and just tell you – everything. That’s right, the bosses you will be fighting will be the equivalent of a RR80 player who has 15 points in all three trees and all 7 abilities in each tree available at their disposal. Due to the nature of being bosses, they could fluidly swap out tactics and morales. These mobs would be designed to fight smart and by this simple fact of being a 66 MPAT the fight would have an unpredictable nature. Lets face it, predictable fights get boring after doing them a few times, but with a 66 MPAT you would never know what he is going to do next, which ability he will use next. Every single encounter with a 66 MPAT will be different. There will be no letting your group fall into a sleepy rhythm, only the most well attuned teams with quick reflexes will be able to respond to their opponents shift in tactics. Hopefully during your months/years in the RvR lakes you took the time to learn some of the abilities and play styles of your opposing classes…
Any images or proper names are the intellectual property of Mythic Entertainment and Games Workshop. Map designs, dungeon concepts, and boss mechanics are of my own brain-child.