June 8, 2007

Pantheon of the Ancients

Pantheon of the Ancients is one of my favorite dungeons in Vanguard. It’s a challenging dungeon that pits your group against the trials of the gods. It brought back memories of Everquest’s Plane of Time, although the Pantheon’s avatars aren’t quite as epic as the legendary EQ gods themselves.

Above: The trial of Haelifur.

The Pantheon itself is located in Strand of the Ancients, underneath the temple of Ssrevessk, which is itself a great hunting spot, and has its own quest line that is found back at Upside Garrison. When you get to the temple, you need to speak the password in order to open the stone doors that seal the temple. The password is part of a quest line in Upside Garrison (or if you want to get the spoiler word I inserted it in my previous entry here) As you enter the main room in the temple, you’ll see a large throne surrounded by trolls and lizardmen. To the right is a pillar, with a grey stone sticking out around the back. Press that stone and it will cause the throne to open up, revealing a set of stairs that leads to the Pantheon of the Ancients.

As you head down the stairs, you’ll see dozens and dozens of scarabs, but don’t worry, they aren’t aggro, so you don’t have to fight them. In fact, it’s important that you not attack them at all, especially when you get to the central room at the bottom of the stairs, because you will aggro every scarab around and most certainly die.

Along with the scarabs, you will also run across a limping, rotting, undead guy who is the “custodian” of the dungeon. Again, do not attack him, but take note of him because he plays an important role in the final event of the dungeon.

From that central room, you will see a hall to the north, stairs to the east (referred to as the “evil side”) and stairs to the west (referred to as the “good side”). Each “side” room contains 6 avatars from the Pantheon, each of whom gives a trial. When you complete 6 trials from a side, you get a part of a cloak. Complete all 12, and the two cloak parts can be combined to make the Cloak of the Pantheon. As an aside, the “turn in” NPCs are found down the north hall, which takes you to the second floor of the dungeon. If memory serves me right, you have to go left to talk to the “evil” NPC and right to talk to the “good” NPC.

Above: Fighting a golem in the Pantheon of the Ancients.

As for the Avatars and their trials, you can move around pretty much untouched if you have invis. The only mobs that see through it are the golems, so be on your toes. Another heads up, though, is that on each side is a huge roaming mob – a giant snake on the evil side, and a huge bug on the good side. They are non aggro, but if you are fighting one of the little trash mobs near them, they will assist and aggro your group.

The 12 trials themselves are terrific. Each one tests a certain moral or personal quality that each god stresses. For example, the trial of Ghalnn, who relishes brutal war and bloodshed, has you run over to the “good side” to find and kill 100 innocent victims. You would know his name well if you did any work on the shadowhound quest (which I hear is long enough to make you want to kill 1,000 innocents by the time you are done!) My favorite trial was the trial of Vol Anari, god of light and purity, who has you endure a purification ritual involving pummeling rocks and intense fire. If you survive, you win, just don’t be a dink like me and accidentally attack him while you are in the trial.

For a full walkthrough on the trials, look no further than Silky Venom. I used this and a nicely done map from Map Vanguard, both of which made things a lot easier. The map doesn’t show the second floor, where the NPCs are for turning in your trial flags and getting your cloak, but it’s easy to figure out if you just keep in mind that the second floor is right above the trial rooms.

If you are interested in lore, you will find a lot here, since the Pantheon Avatars give you insight into the beliefs of the gods themselves. To find out more about the gods of the Pantheon, I suggest checking out Vanguard Roleplayers, which has two nice threads, here and more detailed here.

One tip for anyone heading to the Pantheon – the trials can be buggy at times. If you ever run into any trouble, like not getting a trial from an NPC (busy message), not getting updates while doing the trial, or no luck getting the trial script to begin, abandon the active trial if you have one, and then camp out fully and re-enter the game. Basically, when in doubt, camp out. It seems to be the fall back fix to any issues in the dungeon.

Once you have passed all the trials and received your new Cloak of the Pantheon, you have an important choice to make. You can keep it, or you can head to the Immortal Sanctum, which you can reach from either trial side by taking a passageway at the northern end of either room. There, you will speak to the Custodian, who gives you one final test – defeat the Sisters.

The Sisters are actually one deity that has become split – Mara represents the violent qualities of death, while Caia represents the more serene and natural aspects. Their balance of power is always in flux, although Mara definitely wins the “cooler looking Sister” title. Sadly, I never got a screenshot of her, but she’s one of the best looking boss mobs in Vanguard.

This is a fun event, where the two Sisters, Caia and Mara, take turns doing their best to kill your group. When one is fighting, the other becomes non-aggro, so you have to make sure to change targets every 20% of their health. Along the way, you have to deal with some unexpected twists, like rounds of undead adds that must be burned down. But the real challenge is dealing with the AEs they give off, and the only thing that can counter it is your cloak, so make sure to have it on your hotbar. Some of the AE spells are relatively harmless, like a root or stun, but others are much more dangerous, such as a silence and even a nasty dot that Mara tends to cast when she is at about 50% health. The cloak does have a refresh timer, but as long as you activate it any time one of the Sisters AEs, you should be fine. At the very end, both Sisters become aggro, so it’s best to go all out and get one dead fast or you risk defeat just before the finish line.

When you defeat both Sisters, the Custodian reveals to your group that he is actually…the Avatar of Alurad, god of skill and the one who tries to bring order to the Pantheon. He gives you the chance to turn in the cloak to him, and in return you can receive another reward. The items vary, but the one that everyone hopes for is one of the weapons that reflects the skill and craftsmanship that Alurad personifies.

Above: The Avatar of Alurad reveals himself.

Here are the weapons: Gift of the Prince, Solrahn, Twin of Joh’drol, Insirion, Edge of Flame, Staff of the Old World, Ancient Ksaravi Ulak, and The Righteous Gavel.

Even if you don’t get what you hope for, the good news is that the weapons are tradable and can be equipped by anyone who has defeated the Sisters. You can also repeat the trials as many times as you want, so you can always go back to try for a weapon or get the cloak.

Another tip about the loot, when you sacrifice your cloak, you get a clicky thing that you use at the orb in the Sanctum. Click that, and your reward will go right to your inventory (so make sure you have a spot open). You also get a chest next to Alurad, which contains several soulbound items, and you get that whether you turn in your cloak or not. Make sure you get all your loot, and be careful when looting the chest, because that stuff is soulbound.

I had a great time in the Pantheon of the Ancients. It has a great layout, interesting trials, some nice lore, and a terrific final boss encounter. It’s also set up nicely, so that you can progress through it at your own pace. Those who have the time can grind it out all at once, or you can tackle a few trials a night if you have more limited playtime. If you are level 27-34, this is a dungeon you don’t want to miss!

Posted by jayernh under Archive,Vanguard Level 25-30,Vanguard Level 30-35 | Comments (2)

April 16, 2007

Fizzi Fazzle and the Trengal Keep Mystery

I recently finished up the Legends of Trengal Keep quest line. I have a love/hate relationship with that dungeon, but that’s what also makes it so endearing to me. As I wrote before, this former Thestran keep is now home to a variety of orcs, goblins, drakes, meteors, and many other creepy things. If you are also working on the “Crux” quests, you can eventually get a ring that will summon Karujin Gulgrethor, who massacred the Martok and stole The Harvester. It’s visually stunning, and enormous – it sports a large courtyard as well as two underground areas. There is enough here to keep people busy for weeks, and it’s great for anyone level 23 and up, although I would recommend not going too far into the dungeon till at least level 25.

Above: Rancorr faces off with a Gulgrethor orc.

Trengal Keep is the kind of dungeon that really tears up bad pick up groups, which I found out the hard way a couple of times. Luckily, there are plenty of guildmates who are willing to roll up their sleeves and tackle a tough dungeon. Thanks to my friend Fizzi Fazzle, I was able to see some amazing things and finish up the Legends line to get a nice cloak! Fizzi is one of those people who just plain knows how to play, and I’m lucky to have known her for years now. She has a way of bringing everyone’s game up to another level, which is important because her favorite stomping grounds are deep inside hair-pullingly difficult dungeons, where there is little room for error.

Fizzi was nice enough to take several groups of guildies through here, and she put together a great guide for the Legend of Trengal Keep quests. She was nice enough to let me post it here and share it with others. (With a few notes from me here and there) I hope others find it as helpful as I did!

The Legend of Trengal Keep:

Note: When fighting in from the front of TK, be careful of trains!

Part 1 is straightforward. Go into the front of the TK (main entrance). Kill everything in sight. Keep working your way straight in. You’ll get all mobs you need.

*NOTE* The front courtyard is also where you can complete the quest for Aarond’s Notes as well as the first “Study a brick” quest for the Thestran cornerstone crafting quest. Aarond’s notes can be found in a dilapidated building on the left as you head in. You’ll see a plank leaning on the ruined building. Climb that, work your way around the ledge, and you’ll see the notes, which have a fast respawn. The brick you need to study is also in a ruined building on the left (I can’t remember for sure but it might be the same building.) You’ll have to study it a few times for the update so keep trying if you don’t succeed!

Part 2 is also pretty straightforward, but you’ll need to go in quite a bit deeper. Go in straight, past the pit with the rock-thingys in it. After a point, you wont be able to go in the foward direction anymore, so head right. The clouds that you need will be in this right turn area. This is also train-city, so be careful. Once you emerge from this turn area, you’ll start seeing the skellies you need and the casters. Mow em down, but remember that the clouds are the bottle neck for this quest. Note also the pit that you see beetles in. You need that for Part 3.

Above: Heading to the Beetles!

Part 3 isn’t too bad if you know where to go. So I’ll tell you! Fight back in all the way to the beetles you saw doing Part 2. The beetles are in a pit that has a left hand side and a right hand side (cause there is stuff in the middle, duh). Kill everything in the left hand side and then move to the right hand side. Kill the beetles, and now you have all 10. Now that you’re on the right hand side, you will see a wall in front of you (probably with a big spider on it). You need to get up that wall. Go to the wall and make your way leftward and you will be able to get up it. Gratz. There are all the spiders you need in this area. Kill the 10 you need, but note, while you’re on the wall, to the right of you and in front a bit, that there is a fallen pillar. You need to go up that pillar to get your crystal. You will know it is the correct pillar because it has a spider on it about halfway up. Make your life easy by going up the ridges of the pillar, kill the spider, get to the very top you’ll be on a ledge. work your way left and out on a plank-like thing. There is your crystal. You’re done with part 3.

Part 4 is a PIA. This is because you really have to go in deep, and if you wipe, you’re in for a longish CR and lost time.

Fight all the way in to the fallen pillar of Part 3. There is an entrance in the ground you need to find. You can find it by imagining that you’re walking down the fallen pillar and that you keep going a little ways (and slightly to the right) into the ruins you come upon. Poke around a bit and you’ll see an entrance that goes underground. That’s it.

Above: Entry for the Arcanium, needed for part 4.

Go on in. This area isn’t very big, but this is tough stuff because of chain agro. The first room you break has a couple of roamers that will chain everything on you. Be careful of roamers in general. Be careful of other groups training you. The 5 dots are easy. The 4 dot little spiders you come upon later are very very tough, undercons. Just go really slow and you will get your two locations and mobs.

A safe spot for a CR is in the room with the three mobs (center one is a skelly) tight on the wall to the left. Note it before you proceed into the hallway on the right that has the spiders.

Part 5 (and heart of Steel quest while we’re at it).

On the side of TK (roughly in the center) that faces the quest giver area there is a small entrance hidden behind a smallish mob spawn area. Make your way there and enter the Keep.

Make your way to the right and pass through the open gate. Keep going and soon you’ll see the chapel ahead and to the right. The mobs you want are in here. However, to make it to the chapel, you will pass Fizzi’s unlucky chain agro of death area. That is, it seems that the rock mobs in front of the chapel have a huge agro radius and will agro from afar for no reason. Proceed with caution. If you are grouped with a bard, use invis.

*NOTE* If you are doing the Thestra cornerstone quest for crafting, you can find the second brick in front of Fizzi’s unlucky death chapel. Study it!

Go into the chapel and start killing your mobs. They are all there, and this should be straightforward.

To do the Heart of Steel quest while you’re in the area, come out of the chapel using one of the “front” doors. Head straight out and a little to the left using invis or clearing the obnoxious rocks that are all spawned there. Eventually you will come to a plank that leads down into pit with shallow water. Kill a few mobs down there and your drop for the quest will drop. Evac out now or head back to where you came into TK by the side door.

To get to the Part 5 turn in NPC is actually a lot of fun. As you reenter TK from the side entrance turn left and make your way to the leaning pillar the leans against the Keep’s outer wall. (Also, make sure that you’ve set your compass to track the turn in NPC, Sage Soandso.) Climb that pillar to get to the top of the wall; nearing the top, a jump or two can help. Go to the right once up top. Using your compass make your way to the NPC. There is a point where you move to a lower wall level. Nothing sees through invis up here, so if you’re grouped with a bard, you’re golden.

Part 6 is pretty straightforward. (This part is added by me so if it has errors don’t blame Fizzi!). As before, you head in through the sewer on the side of the wall, and cross over the fallen pillar to the spot marked on the map. Invis helps make this a short trip. As you clear the dungeon to the shrine, you’ll get plenty of updates for the quest to kill orcs. There is also a chance you’ll get “Nishek’s whip,” which is needed to summon Nishek for the Crux of Trengal Keep quest. We unfortunately didn’t try it, because the room was bugged and there were double spawns of orcs stacked on top of each other in the summoning room, but hopefully we’ll try that down the road.

As for the shrine update, if you crawl straight from the stairs, and then take a left when you can’t go straight anymore, you should reach the room. You’ll know it because it’s at the bottom of some stairs, and it has two rows of orcs guarding it. If you carefully pull enough from the entrance, you can work your way around the left side of the shrine room, and get close enough to get the update. When you’re done, you head back up the fallen pillar to the wall, to meet up with Sage Ezelen, and you now have a sporty hooded cloak and the honor of having completed the quest line!

Above: “Scenic” overlook of the Trengal Keep courtyard.

Cool Moment of the Dungeon Crawl: Our group had a bit of unexpected danger as we went to meet with Sage for the last time. We reached the wall, ready to turn in, only to find her missing! Eventually we spotted her down below in the courtyard, fighting about 12 mobs! I guess she was tired of standing around and decided to go pick a fight with the locals. We made our way down to her and hailed her between rounds of combat, and then stuck around to help her finish off the glob of monsters she was fighting. It may have been a bug, but it was neat to have one final battle to cap things off. It was a very fitting end to an extremely fun dungeon crawl.

Thanks again Fizzi, for letting me share this great guide to a fun dungeon!

Posted by jayernh under Archive,Vanguard Level 25-30 | Comments (1)

April 6, 2007

River Valley

River Valley, and the Flower Palace, are two spots that I got a peek at during the beta griffin events, and when I saw them I couldn’t wait till I’d be able to see them on foot once I was high enough. I had mentally filed it away until I stumbled on it while looking for a spot to do some lumberjacking. I needed to find some evil Treants, and ended up finding a whole lot more.

Above: Volaren Towers in River Valley.

If you are level 28+, this is a great spot to do some solo and duo quests. It’s not easy to find, but it’s full of eye candy once you get there. You can reach it through the Shidreth Mining tunnel, just behind the Shidreth Mining camp in Qalia. If you did any of the Infineum stuff you’ll recognize the area. There’s a great little turf war too – the Shidreth miners tunneled right into the side of a cliff structure that is populated by Vizarian Sirens. While you start out friendly to the Shidreth miners, you can certainly choose to side with the Vizarians, and if you do, Imirial the Seducer offers you a few quests that, when completed, reward you with a panther illusion mask that give a run speed buff. The walkthrough is here at Vanguard Rangers, but be prepared to encounter overcamped tunnels and lots of waiting for spawns!

Above: Vizarian Temple in River Valley.

*Side Note* Vanguard Rangers now has a full walkthrough of the Infineum quest series, thanks to Legendamar. It’s great, and hopefully he’ll do a Pantheon walkthrough as well!

As far as quests for the Valley area, you can get a couple of quests at the Shidreth Mining camp, including one to kill treants, which worked for me since I was working on lumberjacking. There is also a quest offered inside the mine tunnel to kill Vizarians, and two quest tents in the Valley Itself. One is on the South side of the Valley, which you can reach by taking the first elevator on your left and heading west along the river wall. If you run into a bunch of lethargic filth, it’s just west of there. There is another on the north side of the river too, but I haven’t gotten to it yet, partially because of time and partially because I don’t have any more room in my journal. Almost all the quests are solo or duo tasks, so it’s a nice spot to get through the high 20s and low 30s.

Above: Outside view of the Vizarian cliffside structure.

At the far end of the Valley is the Flower Palace, which I got a peek at last night with a guild group. We killed one mob and decided that it was a bit above our heads, but it looks like there’s some kind of Vizarian worship going on in there. On the way out we killed a named shadowhound that took for freaking ever to kill, and ended up dropping a tooth. Must be a quest mob!

I like this spot a lot, not only because it’s visually stunning, but also because it’s a nice change of pace from the heavy quest lines I’ve been working on in places like Fallen Lyceum, Trengal Keep, and Infineum Plateaus. I love dungeon crawling and big quest lines, but it’s nice to also have a night or two of easy grind quests, surrounded by great scenery, that still lets you feel like you accomplished something by the end of the night.

Cool moment of the day: As I was lumberjacking, I noticed that the treant had a curious bit of carving on its back. A closer look revealed the letters “SB + LH 4VR.” I’d love to know who SB and LH are, and whether it’s a dev easter egg (I don’t see any devs with either pair of initials) or whether they are names of in game NPCs who wanted to immortalize their love for each other. Either way, I got a nice laugh out of it.

Above: SB + LH 4VR!

Posted by jayernh under Archive,Vanguard Level 25-30 | Comments (3)

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