31 October 2011

Relic up and Get Down, Gianthold!

So, it appears our adventures in Gianthold are one step closer to ending. Does it feel like we've been in this zone for freaking ever? Man! It does to me . . . and that's a good thing since there's so much to do in this area. I'd have to give Gianthold a thumbs up for playability value. I saw a YouTube comment on a video about Gianthold somewhere that said something to the extent of "And people used to pay for this shizz." Yes we did pay. Yes we liked it. No, you wouldn't understand. (I freaking hate YouTube comments.)

Team Spode did a lot of playing throughout the week this week, which is unusual for us. We usually play only on Sunday and only occasionally dip our toes into the game outside of our Sunday night game (well, I do a little more than dip my toe :D). This week though, I'd log on and there would always be a Spode or a Ulan on farming for their relics. Reports started coming in through our back channel e-mails about our individual relic hunting efforts. Spode finished his fairly quickly, I came in second, Ulan had his soon after, and with a few donations from the guys last night, Ophiga had her final few Giant relics. WOOT! READY TO ROCK!

I made a map during the week of my relic farming route over the top of the Alex Haddox Gianthold map, and although my layer over the top of his beautiful map looks like a kindergartner scribbling over the top of a work of art, here it is:

1- Run out and fall down into the giant party by the first frozen dragon. (kill named if up), Run over to the first two tents on the high road from the first chest. (kill named if up) Continue on path that jogs around to the two even larger tents (kill named if up).

RECALL—mana up.

2- Take teleporter to Storm's eye. Run down and kill portal to Shavarath (kill named if up). Run back up and then over and up the spiral mountain and kill Mind Flayer (always up) and cast knock until I roll a 20 to unlock it ;) (the DC is 46 I believe). This wastes a lot of mana usually. Run over and down a path to kill named. Run back. Run up to kill supply depot named (have to break a number of the barrels to get him to show up.

RECALL—mana up

3- Take teleporter down to Storm's Heart, run into Trial by Fire and farm until I get around 3 chests.

RECALL—mana up

4- Profit!


Team Spode did this route last night, but instead of hitting Trial by Fire, we took a little jaunt up to the Foundation of Disco instance.

Did I say Disco? Oh, I meant DiscoRD! Right. Sorry about that. The foundation of DISCOrd is a great little instance full of angry Aurum dwarves. OHMYGOSH Aurum dwarves! Yes, it's true! I read about these dudes in The Shard Axe. Aurum dwarves are a wealthy sect of little peeps who usually hang out in Mror Holds over on that other continent of Khorvaire. (Hey! A Khorvaire expansion to DDO would be pretty cool, Turbine!)

I don't exactly remember what these little fellas are doing in Gianthold, but I'm sure it (in a roundabout way) involves making some bank. According to this splash screen you get when you're zoning in, Rumor has it they've sent their best to fight for the Stormreaver.

The wiki paints this instance as incredibly difficult. We didn't really experience that, of course we're all level 14-16 now. What you do is come to a central shrine and then kill the bosses at the end of each corridor. Once you've done this, the locked door opens up and you can go fight the final boss, who's fond of summoning elementals of every sort.

The one thing that I'm really liking about the Foundation of Disco instance are the names of these righteous dudes that you be slappin' skin with, yo! Duncan the Wayfarer, Mars the Dynamo, Tinius the White . . . Patrick the Maniacal. These are some awesome disco club names. If my 40 year old self ever stumbles into a rave party, I'm saying my name is Mars the Dynamo. That's just too hawt.

We found this great mirror in the instance. Spode's doing his V for Victory pose while the drow are fawning over him. I am NOT looking at drow butt. I am NOT looking at drow butt. I am NOT looking at drow butt. OH MAN, I looked at drow butt.

Anyway, here's how it rolled out at the end of the instance. Good times.

After that, we still had an hour of playtime left. Hmmmm, what to do? Peek our heads into Gianthold Tor and get owned of course!!!


We literally went into this instance raw with no idea what we were going to face. None of us had looked too far into the wiki or remembered much about what is inside here other than a dragon. When a dragon calls, Team Spode comes running with swords raised! WE WANT SCALES!

What we discovered were many many many many giants. Let me add another many: "many." We died during that front wave of giants and had to come back in to finish the job.

Although I really liked the names of the dwarves in the Aurum Lair, I did find my favorite name ever here in Gianthold Tor.

By the time we made it to the area where you spawn the gatekeeper, it was time to call it a night. We did stay long enough to die again to several giant skeletons. :)

Next week we shall definitely be prepared to stick it out and slay a dragon! WE SHALL! Or at least die to a dragon. You know, that's how we roll.

Until then . . . happy dueling!

24 October 2011

Team Spode Bewitches the Crucible

Sorry about that title, seriously, I couldn't help myself. (If you don't get the joke, here.) ;)

I generally don't get pissed off by dungeons, but by the end of The Crucible, I was totally Dan "Yell" Day-Lewis.

See, now don't you feel better about your horrible experience in The Crucible? Gleek does. After being impaled underwater, dying, and being resurrected outside the dungeon walls, I think Gleek has every right yelling and ranting and raving away.

Check these screenshots out . . .

That first one is the side view of the underwater impalers from outside the walls looking in.

The second is actually above the water, outside of the walls. Standing around out there, completely glitched out, was super frustrating. There was nothing I could do but release and run back in . . . and that was my second time releasing, mind you. The first time I had to release was when Spode, Ophiga, myself, and my NPC were trapped in the maze, separated from Ulan, who was dead, above the maze. I made the mistake of having the NPC pull a lever and then clicking the "come to me" button. GREAT. STUCK. There just appeared to be nothing I could do but release and come back in to free Spode and Ophiga.

I hate releasing in a dungeon. It feels like losing. Oh well.


I'm sure after a person runs that instance a couple of times, it's not nearly the nightmare that it was, but at least I was trapped in that nightmare with friends. LOL.

Ok, here's the story behind The Crucible . . . basically, you're interested in joining The Storm's Fist, so you've taken a quest to meet up with Jorgundal Ar'grund, Captain of the Storm's Fist, at The Trials of The Crucible. It's necessary for you to join the Storm's Fist because your real goal is to make it into all three giant brigades and eventually into Gianthold Tor proper. Team Spode already joined the Storm's Heart and the Storm's Eye . . . all that was left was to join Jorgundal's club here.

Yeah, Jorgundal pretty much laughed his butt off at me, a halfling, for wanting to join his brigade. Apparently humor was the key to his heart, and he allowed Team Spode a shot. All we had to do was duel his champions in a battle pit. We were ok with that, the only problem is that you have to get to the battle pit the long way around. The long way around involves completing four tests:

- The Test of Cunning (an evil maze with two-way doors controlled by three levers--featuring archers and casters hanging out on the top of the maze shooting down at you.)

- The Test of Agility (a timed run involving jumping through two rooms of traps.)

- The Test of Instinct (a wisdom check where you are presented six doors and a riddle, get the riddle wrong, get the wrong door and the accompanying burst of traps that goes with the door.)

- The Test of Endurance (a swim through rushing water being pulled by underwater propeller blades--the decor of the surrounding walls just happens to be impalers. Have fun with that.)

There are other tricks to this dungeon too, like a diplomacy check at the beginning that allows you to see where the cracks in the floor are. Yay successful diplomacy check for Team Spode!

And above the maze you're tested with the challenge of naming these symbols so that your friends at the dials can spin them into the right place. (I remember Lessah saying that there was a thread somewhere where the DDO community had come up with some standard names for these things? Anyone?)

Crazily enough, there are people who play DDO that have soloed this dungeon. This dude on YouTube makes Team Spode look like total chumps. I can only imagine how many times he's run through this dungeon to make it look this easy. He some how figured out you could completely skip the maze that we bumbled around in for a long time.

The full write up over on DDO Wiki is pretty good for helping you through this instance. Thanks so much to the pioneers of this instance who wrote all this information up. You people rock. Without that information, it would have probably been an additional 2.5 hours on top of the 2.5 hours it took us. Egads.

At least the good news is that the members of Team Spode are honorary members of The Storm's Fist! WOOT! (. . . despite our newbie-ness and glitch finding abilities.) Now all that's left is to collect the remaining relics, so we can check out that pre-raid quest. :)

See you all next week, and thanks for reading!

**Update** Looks like Ophiga has written up some words about last night from her PoV. Check it out!

Happy dueling!

21 October 2011

DDO up for awards!

Ha! I kind of feel like I'm playing the fence here. I just wrote a post asking people to vote for Wizard101 in the Beckett's voting poll, and now I'm over here asking people to vote for DDO in the Beckett's voting poll. click me! click me! click me! click me! click me!

Although DDO has some tough competition for Best Fantasy MMO, that is definitely where I put my vote in that catagory. Seriously though, DDO is up against WoW and Rift. But every vote counts and I think Chris Moslbee does a great job of delivering DDO articles for Beckett's magazine! I think Team Spode's article wasn't half shabby either. ;) I'm in! Vote DDO!

Happy Dueling!

17 October 2011

Farewell, Lessah, From Team Spode

You know, one hates to wonder if they were the catalyst for someone leaving a community and a great podcast like DDO Cocktailhour behind, and there is a very good chance that Lessah’s last instance she ran was with Team Spode (or her permadeath guild). I highly doubt our sloppy play and bad puns had anything to do with it (Although the "wight out" jokes are even enough for me to up and quit MMOs some nights ;) jk, I live for "wight out" jokes). It’s hard to know since she pretty much seemed to disappear into thin air without a goodbye. That's ok though . . . you gotta do what you gotta do, right? word.

Part of me would like to believe that she’s reading this now and will leave a comment to clarify her disappearance even further, but all Team Spode knows is what Samius said in his post and Lessah’s latest tweet: "@Slugnutty @SamiusGurobo Hey! yes,I stopped playing, I had a major crisis & just have not gone back. It's not fair to do the cast & not play."

If I was to add anything about Lessah’s last instance run with us, she seemed (to me) to be happy, but also seemed rushed to end her play session that night. It felt pretty hasty like she couldn’t wait to log off actually. I think she might have mentioned getting her kids ready for school the next day. I don't know. In the end, there really wasn't anything out of the ordinary.

I think Team Spode's sentiment is best wrapped up by Spode himself, "I hope she's ok. It was fun to have her in the group, but I guess 'We few. We happy, happy few' must move on and make her proud with our body counts. I'll dedicate my next hundred kills to her. Hopefully, she'll come back someday."

Best of luck, Lessah! Hope your life affords you success and feel free to call on the superpowers of Team Spode anytime in the future.

Happy dueling!

Madstone Crater . . . Starring Ulan's Blade Barrier!



So last night we did . . . exactly the same instances we did last week, only backwards. No, I don't mean we ran through the instance backwards, although the prospect sounds exciting; I mean we ran Madstone Crater first before Maze of Madness. We completed ALL this MADNESS faster than we did last Sunday, but it still made for a late night. We wanted to make sure that Ulan got flagged since he missed last week, and we did indeed do just that. The difference between the two runs?

Pretty isn't it? Dead giant final boss with blades of death around his corpse? Yup, when you have Ulan with you, you also get the spinning blades of awesomeness. We all were cheering when we saw those pop up this week. OH BLADE BARRIER, HOW WE MISSED THEE! For some reason though, it's mere presence didn't abate our pleathora of deaths (Team spode's mantra: if you're not dying, you're not trying hard enough).


So here's the skinny on Madstone crater. The adventure begins with a friendly giant with a problem. Blaze Ar'Rhind is the Storm Heart's Captain and his issue is with his Storm Heart Brigade. They're turning on him and he swears it's something in the Madstone Crater Volcano that's wigging them out. This is perfectly ok with Team Spode since we want to become a part of his brigade anyway. All part of the master plan and what not.

You meet up again with Blaze down in the very southeastern-most point of the Gianthold Wilderness Area inside an insideous instance full of Ogres, Ogre Magi (Named Rune-Tusk War Mages), Minotaurs, Trolls, and Giant Skeletons. Enemy number one of Team Spode would have to be a particular flavor of Giant Skeleton, the Ancient Enchanter. (You may recall a picture from last week's entry of three of said Ancient Enchanters hovering over my corpse.) If you kill six of those Ancient Enchanters, you get . . . dun dun dunnnnnn . . . BONUS EXP! We likes the bonus exp, precious.

What ends up being the issue are these three floating crystals in the wings of Madstone Crater. Apparently you're not uber enough to bust these crystals up yourself and you need to get help from three separate hill giant seers . . . one for each crystal. That's so kooky. It's like Blaze knew exactly what was going on. He had a seer for each crystal out there as a part of his brigade, but he "doesn't really know what's going on?! /shrugs!?" yeah yeah, Blaze, you just wanted to see if we'd get lucky and free your seers. It's cool. We still like you and all.

The trick is to buff the seers up with all you've got (personally I laid down stone skin, blur, resistances, heroism, invisibility, and jump . . . ok I didn't buff him with jump) and then take out the waves of crazy crystal mind controlled Storm heart brigade troops as they come at you. HMMMMmmm, Storm heart brigade has been smoking the "crystal" eh? That stuff will turn you into a bad guy! You crazy minotaurs should know better!

After the three seers take care of the three crystals, then it's just a matter of making your way up to the top of a big spirally mountain and killing the head kahuna, an ancient warlock. Ancient warlock > Ancient enchanter. *Gleek snaps a Z in the general direction of an ancient warlock* And it's a good thing you do take out that bone-daddy warlock because he's right in the middle of a ritual that I'm sure would mean more mind-controlled storm's heart and this instance is hard enough without making it harder, mr. Warlock. Sheesh!

Good times.

Team Spode successfully dispatched the warlock and then decided, what the hey! As long as we're so close to the Maze of Madness and it's not too long, let's get Ophiga her remaining 500 exp she needed to level, which we did, which was a good time, which was cool with everyone.

So by my count Team Spode still needs to explore the Cry for Help, Foundation of Discord, Prey on the Hunter, and the Crucible instances before we even think about exiting purple glowy rock land. If we're serious about this stuff, we'll also need to collect 9 of each relic type so we can at least finish up the pre-raid for Gianthold Tor. I don't know if we're *that* crazy about Gianthold . . . would be cool to kill those dragons inside Gianthold Tor.

I'm also pretty jazzed about seeing the White Dragon (Aussircaex) from Korthos Island again in the Prey on the Hunter quest for sure.

OH, last thing before I leave this post. Check out this awesome screenshot I got of an ogre springing into the air while Ulan tries to chop off its foot.

Go get 'em Ulan! Nice to have you and your blade barrier back in the group this week!

Happy Dueling!

11 October 2011


Listen, you want to know about Team Spode’s adventures this week? Yeah, you sure? Ok, I know a lady who’s been talking about us, name’s Ophiga, but on the street we call her Writes-A-Lot . . . most awesome care bear in the kingdom despite the carpal tunnel.

I left you all with a great cliff hanger last week, so I think we need to finish this up as we enter THE MAZE OF MADNESS! Dun dun dun! Note to gentle adventurer: bring a rogue. And that’s all you need to know about our Team Spode adventures in THE MAZE OF MADNESS this week. Anti-climactic, I know.

Seriously though, I love that name . . . MAZE OF MADNESS. I love the voice I hear in my head when I type it out . . . THE MAZE OF MADNESS! It’s kind of loud and echo-y like a bad 1930’s movie announcer . . . REFER MADNESS!

Unfortunately the maze here isn’t much of a maddening maze. Maybe it’s just me, but when I think “maze,” I think of those cool corn field mazes that crop up around Halloween time, you know?

Turbine needs mazeplay to help out their minotaurs. Definitely a maze is the proper place for a minotaur (or 50 minotaurs as the case may be) . . . at least according to the Greeks . . . and I definitely think a maze of stone is the proper place to house your minotaurs. A corn maze wouldn’t go over well with a minotaur clan since they could just bash through the corn and make their own pathways like an angsty teen football team. This maze is pretty straight forward though. The only thing that might trip you up in THE MAZE OF MADNESS is a secret door on a natural stone wall that’s a little hard to find.

Ophiga imagines about dungeon building a bit in her post . . . to expand on that thought, this “maze” is really more like a lever factory outlet trip gone wild. I can see the dungeon engineer in my mind hanging out at his favorite lever factory outlet looking at all the latest gadgets for tripping up adventurers. That was one full shopping cart of levers by the time he was finished shopping, let me tell you. Maybe even two carts! ;)

Basically each door you come upon here has two or three levers. You need to pull ‘em to open the door, but one of the levers will most likely stick you in the gut with a trap . . . unless you have a rogue. Thus why to the casual Googler of information about THE MAZE OF MADNESS should know that the best thing to do with this dungeon is bring a rogue. Of course, that pretty much describes all of DDO, but hey, you didn’t search on that, did you, you random Google person you? No. (I feel bad about random Googlers coming here thinking this would be a good source of information. Jus' sayin'.)

I did videotape a good chunk of this dungeon unbeknownst to Team Spode. Conversation is always a bit one-sided on those though as I’m still having trouble recording what I’m saying. I think I’d have to run a separate instance of teamspeak to record my half of the conversation . . . meh . . . I digress. We slaughtered this thing:

Funny enough, we called it last week when we weren’t too far from being done with the dungeon as it turns out, and as it turns out, we should have called it a night during the amazingly huge instance known as Madstone Crater. It says it’s "Very Long." It ain't kidding. We ended up a full 1.5 hours past our usual end time, and Writes-a-Lot Bear, the East Coaster, was a complete studdette for sticking it out the entire time. Sadly, we have to do this one all over again because Ulan wasn’t present with us. Oh well, at least now we’ll know about the untamed fury of those three giant skeleton enchanters down an optional side path. Mana dump to kill them = necessary.

Really, to sum up Madstone Crater would be this: lots of waves of mind-controlled enemies, lots of zoning from one area to the next, lots of hill giant seers to keep safe, and GOOD TIMES YO! BTW, I FREAKING HATE THE OGRE MAGI! THEY MUST ALL DIE! (again, jus' sayin'.)

I also recorded a bunch of this instance. I think I’m going to delete these files though . . . too painful to watch. Here was the salvageable portion (remember my commentary is muted . . . MAN, I need to figure that out):


So perhaps I'll have a more detailed analysis of Madstone Crater next time we venture in there (we have to go again anyway like I said before). I’m pretty sure you’re all done with my chatty nonsense by this point in the blog post. LOL. I'M OUT!

Happy Dueling!

04 October 2011

Oh the Trials by Fire for Team Spode!

Team Spode wasn’t in rare form on Sunday . . . we were in Medium Well Done form.

This is what you expect to see of Team Spode from a Trial by Fire—we didn’t disappoint.

A good chunk of Team Spode’s night was simply gathering together and moving through the vastness of Gianthold. We’ve been working a lot of the Northeastern instances, but we were trying to explore a bit and find a new instance to destroy. The end result was we finished three rare encounters in the wilds of Gianthold and wound up at the entrance to the Trial by Fire instance all the way down on the southern slopes.

It’s an instance full of trolls and spiders. After we ran into a barred off location just two doors down from the entrance, we spied a hidden hallway that the DM told us hadn’t been used in a while. We begged to differ. There were many many giant spiders down this hallway, which begged the question, “how did these things get so big?” They had to have been eating something, right? I mean, the trolls and the spiders seemed to be on friendly terms. Hmmmmm. Either the spiders had been snacking on trolls on the side or they had been munching on people like us. This brought up an interesting point. If Trolls regenerate all the time, then perhaps trolls are the perfect snack! You eat a limb, the limb grows back. Troll is the food-source to end mass hunger! Of course, it probably doesn’t taste like chicken. Personally I prefer snacking on Doritos to Troll arm, but if you put the right seasonings on there I might try it. I'm a double-barrel halfing! I'm a halfling on the edge!

The real problem with randomly heading to the Trial by Fire instance after spending 45 minutes to an hour wandering around in Gianthold is that pretty much all the spell casters were out of juice by the time we entered the instance, and there were no shrines in sight (we really should figure out that teleporter system in Gianthold). I was uber grateful for my Echoes of Power ability and innate low cost fire spells that allowed me to contribute a spot of flame thrower damage last night. Egads, I really was scraping the proverbial barrel of my mana pool this instance. This also meant no giant walls of fire for a good portion of the instance, and this meant a lot of pain when we came upon a flock of ranged attackers.

Don’t get me wrong, for the most part we were doing a stellar job of staying afloat. Hackin! Slashin! Doin’ our thang, but eventually we ran into a fight with some significant DPS where my cleric NPC (the only one with a touch of mana left) died and then Spode, Ulan, and the other NPC cleric also died. So it came down to Ophiga and me hiding behind a corner going OH CRAP WE GONNA DIE TOO.

I opened my bags, bit the bullet, downed a mana potion, used a heal wand a few times, and went in with guns blazing: chain lightning, firewalls, you name it! BAM BAM BAM! We grabbed the soul stones and then CRIPES, there was a freaking shrine right around the corner. Don’t you hate that? I hate downing a mana potion just to find a shrine next door, but I didn’t feel confident enough to rely on echoes of power to get me through the room of dead friends on the floor. You know?

What’s great about Trial by Fire is that it’s kind of tricky. You have this wonderful spiral down to a lava pit, you have a map that’s stacked upon itself, and you have a small little pit in a far room that’s just easy enough to overlook, but that one little crack in the floor is exactly where you need to go to finish the instance. It took us . . . a while . . . to find that little crack in the floor. It took us long enough that I started to give up hope. I was convinced the place was bugged. I immediately started cursing Turbine for a buggy instance, but it wasn’t. It was just tricky.

Well, there was one bug we found. There was a troll stuck in the wall where we couldn’t hit him and he couldn’t hit us, but it wasn’t for lack of trying . . . I tried dancing him to death.

After finding that final floor pit, we killed the boss with no trouble at all. pfft, anti-climactic point of no return, but it was still a successful dungeon. Jump in the pot and celebrate our medium well done state!

So by the time we made it out the door, Ophiga was ready for bed, but Joe and I were hungry for more. We talked a lot of smack to get Ophiga and Ulan (the east coasters) to run over with us to the Minotaur’s Maze instance. In fact, I promised her that we’d just peek our heads in and not stay for the whole instance. One we were in and saw what a rogue’s heaven this instance was, I think I started to see her pulse rise. I imagine that, had I not blown the whistle at midnight, she would have just kept on merrily disarming traps and pulling levers to her heart’s desire.

No no no . . . that’s an adventure we’ll be sure to have next week as we continue to explore Gianthold’s gianty goodness. :)

Happy Dueling!