August 12, 2007

Rakshasa Citadel/Sunset Pointe

This past week, I spent a few nights in Rakshasa Citadel, which is on the island of Sunset Pointe off of Dragon’s Backbone in Qalia. The first night, I vowed to never go back. Then, after realizing that my group was one demon kill away from two quest completions, we returned for a second night. By the end of the second night, I couldn’t wait to return. While Rakshasa Citadel isn’t necessarily a place for insane experience or fantastic loot, we did walk away from our two nights there with a surprisingly decent chunk of experience, and a few blue upgrades. What really appealed to me, though, was the neat storyline, and of course, the amazing architecture.

Above: Towering statue in Citadel of the Rakshasa. The Architecture here is characteristic of the Kurashasa, and can be seen in places like Qur’xa Temple and Serpent of Sihari.

When you first reach the Citadel, you’ll see a pack of Kurashasa standing to the side. They have been tasked with the job of learning more about the Citadel, and about their rivals, the Rakshasa. But when they arrived, they discovered that a race of demons, called the Ahnd’ka, have taken over the citadel. For anyone who’s played a Kurashasa, you’ll know from their lore that these demons had discovered planar travel and made their way into Telon, and the Kurashasa made it their mission, as savage hunters, to track them down and get rid of them.

To add to the threat, there are also the Descrier, an army of beholder eyes who have learned planar travel and are entering Telon. The only way to stop them is to get the key from the Ahnd’ka leader, Eclipse Shiekaar, recharge it, and travel to through the portal to destroy Warlord Khurang.

Above: Clearing to the throne room in the citadel.

If you are planning to visit the citadel, there is a fantastic map over at Forgotten Horde. Mobs here tend to be around level 40-43, and most are 4 dot. When you first enter the dungeon, be prepared to deal with pulls of two or three, and always keep moving, because respawn is very fast. After making it down the main room, you can go one of three ways: left takes you to the stairwell that leads to the catacombs, right takes you to a smaller room that has several tome nodes for one of the quests, and the stairs take you upstairs to the throne room. There are many named here, and while most are pretty easy, the last two named eyes in the rear of the basement are much more challenging. Be prepared to deal with a very nasty dot from General Zikx, who also will come with one friend. Also of note is that one of the nameds from “Kamelott, Inc” resides upstairs, and has a chance of dropping a crafter’s mass production manual (forgot which one).

Above: The catacombs of Rakshasa Citadel. When I saw this place all I could think of was Vanilla Sky and Ted Williams. Open your eyes!

I’ve spent three nights here, along with my guildmates Reighn, Sindya, Andaraiel, Faunis and Ginone. We’re currently at the step to kill the stone guardians and recharge the portal key, and with any luck, we’ll be able to enter the Descrier Plane soon. From what I have read, when we enter the plane, we will have to kill summoners inside, which will eventually lead to a fight with Warlord Khurang a 6 dot, level 45 beholder. I will update when we do this (hopefully tonight!)

Above: Fighting a named Ahnd’ka as we crawl to the catacombs.

This dungeon has some great twists and is beautifully designed, but it has a storied past and is emblematic of the difficulties that Vanguard has gone through since launch. In May, it was highlighted on the official Vanguard site, and was in the process of being polished up when Sony/Sigil transition occurrred. It’s been in a state of limbo, and could benefit greatly from another pass. Respawn inside is fast, probably too fast, especially in the rooms on the first floor. Intended level is not 35-40, as was listed on the main site, but more like 40-45, and experience per kill isn’t as high as it should be given the difficulty of the place. Soloing the cartheon in Anguish nets you almost the same amount per mob, which is Geico man easy. Also, there is no altar on the island, so if you die, you pop at Jalen’s Retreat. That’s a long swim, and a pain even if you boat it back, which might discourage people from taking the risk to crawl it. Lastly, the ring quest is a bit unbalanced – it is very hard to get the ore (we have yet to see it drop, and I’m now under the impression that it only drops from Warlord Khurang) and the ring reward is not that great for the effort.

Hopefully Rakshasa Citadel will be properly polished in the future. But in the meantime, it’s still worth visiting if you have a group of skilled players in their 40s. It’s a blue collar dungeon, so bring your hardhat and expect to work hard for your experience and rewards. But if you follow through with the questlines, you definitely walk away feeling like you’ve mastered some challenging and interesting content. That’s precisely the reason I play.

Posted by jayernh under Archive,Vanguard Level 40-45,Vanguard Level 45-50 | Comments (2)

July 19, 2007

Plains of Anguish – A Closer Look

I wrote about Plains of Anguish in my “40′s Something Hunting” entry, but I’ve since learned about some of the little gems in this chunk. There are a lot of neat little side quests and events that are easy to overlook. Here’s an update to my experience there – with a few still unanswered questions that I hope to figure out soon.

Above: Andaraiel, Rancorr, Faunis and Sindya take on the Cartheon and Vaela.

Vaela Traxis and the Cartheon Conga Line

If you’ve ever been to Plains of Anguish, you’ve probably done the “Cartheon Invasion” quest, which is a repeatable quest to kill 50 Cartheon, which you can most easily find sauntering out of the Graveyard nearby Haven’s Edge. The Cartheon Pawns are summoned by Vaela Traxis, who is found in the middle vault of the Graveyard.

As you kill Cartheon, you’ll occasionally see the message “Vaela Traxis’ power is weakened…” and “Vaela Traxis is protected.” A group of us decided to charge into the Vault and see how long we could stay ahead of the spawn. What we learned (the hard way) is that Vaela, who is normally an untargetable and nonaggro mob, will become attackable if there is a long enough pause in the arrival of Cartheon at the gates to the Brotherhood encampment up the road.

Unfortunately, we killed her enough to make her aggro us, but she remained an invalid target, so we couldn’t attack her back. We plan to go back soon, only we’ll set up outside the Vault, to give a little wiggle room in case she tries to pull another fast one on us! (Thanks to “prp” for the tip)

Cartheon Summoning Stone

This is driving me crazy. I have killed about 309583259085 of the Cartheon pawns, and have never seen a “Cartheon Summoning Stone” drop, but several of my guildmates have, and some of them even have 4 or 5. I have one now (whining to guildies does work, I highly recommend it), but none of us really knows what the heck to do with it. Based on the description, it sounds like the stone will summon something, but what? And where? I’d love to know, it sounds fun.

Above: Ruined tower with strange fog in Drathel

Divine Amulet/Amulet of Divine Brilliance – Tower of the Forsaken (?)

I’ve been working on the Unmarked quest, which gives an armor item with skellie illusion, and while a group of us were killing Brotherhood, one of them dropped a “Divine Amulet.” The description said, “seek the unclean.” Later on, while we were killing the Brotherhood, the item upgraded into “Amulet of Divine Brilliance,” with the mysterious message “Awaken the forsaken one. Wear this amulet in his tower.” I *think* the tower is over in Drathel, but I will wait to try with some guildmates, in case the “forsaken one” is unfriendly.

Above: The forsaken’s tower?

*Edit* Tonight we checked out the tower, and sure enough, it was the right spot. If you have the Amulet of Divine Brilliance, and you approach the ruined tower in Drathel, it will awaken Ba’alesaz the Forsaken a 5 dot, level 41 mob. He has a mean dot, but we managed to survive him and the 4 trash mobs that we had run into on the way over (late nights = sleepy sloppiness) He dropped some nice martial arts handwraps the first time, and a good medium fighter chainmail the second. Fun stuff!

On a side note, there is a named up in the castle at the Brotherhood fortress. His name is Archbishop Draxis, and he dropped an unmarked mask as well as a bard gong. So if you are looking to start the unmarked quest, you can find the items on the Archbishop, as well as the Town Crier and Mayor Tresan in Drathel, and Captain Dreavers in the Cartheon Village.

Above: Strange tomb in the hillside near the Cartheon Village.

Hillside Vault/Soul Binding Specter

What is this all about! Why is there a tomb in the side of the hill over near the Cartheon Village, and why is there a fairy inside? Also, why is her twin up on a hillside near Haven’s Edge? And who is buried in the stone-covered grave in the tomb that opens up?

Posted by jayernh under Archive,Vanguard Level 40-45 | Comments (1)

July 2, 2007

40s Something Hunting

I’m finally at the home stretch now, and have mostly been doing some solo and small group content lately – partially because I’ve been out of town on and off, and partly because it’s hard to flesh out a full group. Can’t wait for the big merge!

I read a lot of posts complaining that there isn’t any content past level 40. While it does drop off, there is stuff out there, and some of it does require a little exploring. Since I love exploring the world of Telon, I figured I would post up some of the spots I found to be fun and rewarding for the low 40s.

Above: Razad (Oasis in the foreground). Rhaz Inkur towers nearby.

Razad – This is pretty much a quest hub for solo players and small groups. There are a lot of “kill 15 of this, collect 10 of that” type quests, but there is also a fun quest where you have to race the quest NPC from Razad up to a marked spot on your map. (Spoiler – rent a wyvern right before you grab the quest. The NPC is located right at the front corner of Rhaz Inkur, so use the quest marker to pin point her location) There is also an NPC that offers some armor rewards for tokens, which can be acquired by doing various quests for him. I recall belts and bracers were the rewards for 7 tokens. I’m not sure if there is another tier or if that was it, since I didn’t follow through with it. The only quest I felt was a pain was the shovel quest. Trying to find those sand moles was impossible! Even with a /targ Sand, I still found them to be very rare. Overall, it’s a fun spot, and easy to get to, since it’s right at a rift stone, and just down the river from Ahgram.

Ruins Falls (Elani) – I just found this place last week, so I haven’t done much here yet, but it looks like a spot that you can settle into for a good long time. It has a neat storyline, and several good quests. Here’s the lore behind it:

Above: Hegnerian.

Elani was a place full of lush, vibrant woods, and peaceful spirits that wandered and protected everyone. One of the residents of Elani was a high elf named Typhon. Typhon was a master of the elements, and had four apprentices, one of which was Hegnerian. Typhon was worried that outside forces were trying to pull his power from him, so he divided his powers to his apprentices. Sure enough, he did die, although it’s unclear what happened exactly. Of the four apprentices that were given his power, Hegnerian got the most powerful of the four – Ezigoth, the Fourth Wind. Hegnerian was favored because he was the most talented, and seemed very calm and able to control such power, but he loved his wife deeply, and that would turn out to be the cause of such misery and destruction in Elani today.

Sadly, Hegnerian’s wife was abducted by the Prince of the Cartheon Empire and treated brutally while in captivity. She later died in the hands of a peasant woman, who passed on the story to Hegnerian. Hegnerian and the elven leaders pleaded with the Cartheon senate to take care of the matter, but their way was to remove all trace of the peasant woman and her family, rather than punich the Cartheon Prince. So, a few years later, when the Prince ascended to the throne, Hegnerian called upon his power – Ezigoth, the Fourth Wind – which caused the upheaval of the Cartheon Empire and which has brought such destruction to the lands around Elani. Hegnerian was imprisoned for his actions, but the lands are still in turmoil.

Above: Fighting Hopper near Elani, in Ruins Falls.

I’ve begun some quests here, and based on the storyline, this will eventually lead to the Swamp of Rumog, which is where the high level armor faction quests take place. Most of the quests in Elani are good for small groups at the low 40s. There is an encampment of hideous hags nearby at the Deadbog, and yes, those awful cockatrices hang around Elani too, although under a different name. There is another quest to cure bears, and it took me a while to find them. The trick is to head up a windy path, past an empty cave that’s screaming to be populated, and on the top you’ll find the diseased greatbears. (Skeletal Lashers don’t count btw)

My favorite quest was the one to kill frogs outisde the outpost. It eventually causes a giant frog, named Hopper, to appear, and you have to kill him to retrieve a lost backpack. Gotta wonder what happened to its owner…

Lost Canyon/Winterfang’s Resolution (Vulmane camp)
– Tucked in the Lost Canyon is an encampment of Vulmane, who offer lots of good quests for low 40s small groups. Again, I didn’t get through many quests here, but it looks like a lot of “kill 10 of these, scout this spot” type quests. There also seems to be some kind of dynamic event there, though, because there was a large named Sithar with two minions attacking the guards later in the evening, which were not there previously.

Above: Mysterious gathering of spirits inside ruined chapel at Haven’s Edge in Plains of Anguish.

Plains of Anguish – If you are low 40s, this is really the place to be. It’s easy to get to, since it’s right at a riftway, it has loads of quests for solo/small group, and full group, and it has some fun and refreshing encounters. This is also the home of the Cartheon, which I have to assume are the same Cartheon that caused Hegnerian to lose it. Haven’s Edge is where you’ll find quests, just make sure to have lots of room in your journal. First tip – don’t take the Bears of Beranid Hills quest, and in fact, stay away from the Undead Bears in general. They’re borked right now, and have regen on par with raid mobs, so it’s impossible to solo them, and almost impossible to kill even with a full group. Definitely not worth doing.

Above: Strange tower ruins near Drathel, in Plains of Anguish.

There are four areas that involve quests from Haven’s Edge – The Graveyard (which is right next to the Riftway), Drathel (Just across the road from the Graveyard, look for a bunch of run down houses), The Cartheon Village (When you head down the road from Haven’s Edge towards the griffons, take a right and follow the road), and the Brotherhood fortress (Past the Cartheon Village and up the road further).

Normally, it’s always prudent when traveling to stay on the roads for safety. Not here! Over at the Graveyard, Veela Traxis is summoning Cartheon Pawns from one of the vaults, and they slowly plod along the road, past the Cartheon Village, and all the way up to the Brotherhood Fortress. It’s like a big Cartheon conga line, but it means that following the road will net you a train from hell, and certain death. The nice part of that is that if you feel like having an evening of vanilla hack n slash, you can scoop up the repeatable “Cartheon Invasion” quest and settle in for a night of non-stop autopulls. In fact, one of the most enjoyable evenings I have had was when a group of us fought our way into the graveyard and right into the summoning vault itself. It was a ton of fun trying to stay ahead of the spawns, and there was little room for error! I had visions of Helms Deep as I sliced through scores of undead.

Above: Killing Captain Dreavers, in Plains of Anguish.

Another fun spot is the Cartheon Village, which has a multi step questline that eventually asks you to retrieve the body parts of Captain Dreavers, summon him, and then bring back his head. The Cartheon Village is more of a group spot, and it has its own mini-parade of cartheon denizens that roam around. If you are doing the Dreavers quest, his tombstone is a pile of rocks on the outer edge of the village. You need to collect an arm, leg, torso and head from the Cartheon Lieutenants, and then click the grave. He will charge across the village, and he’s not anything that tricky. He drops some nice loot, as well as some “Unmarked” items. These are important!

Unmarked items are the beginning of a questline that rewards you with a nice piece of armor that gives good stats and…skellie illusion! Funny thing is, it seems that hardly anyone knows about this. There are four items – shield (for tank classes), belt (for healing classes), mask (for casters) and gloves (for light fighters). Equip the unmarked item and then fight mobs – eventually you will get a quest window to open that asks you to see a guy in Haven’s Edge. Talk to him and he will direct you to kill 100 Brotherhood, and the questline begins. You can get the unmarked items from any named in Anguish, and so far, I have found Dreavers plus two nameds in Drathel.

Drathel is the village across the road from the Graveyard, and again, it’s more of a group spot. There is a multi step quest there that eventually has you kill Mayor Treslan, who is one of the named that drops unmarked items. There is also the Town Crier, who is found right along the road and has dropped unmarked stuff. One tip about Drathel – If you are doing the quest to kill forsaken scholars and get a scroll, you might have trouble getting the scroll. If you find yourself killing them with no luck, have the group disband and reform with you as leader (do that as many times as you need to in order to get everyone the scroll). For some reason, it sometimes gets fickle and won’t let anyone but the group leader get a scroll drop. I had my first horse pet here too – ranger tame + charmed steed = coolness.

Although there is a lot I learned about this place, there is a ton more that has me scratching my head. Why do I sometimes see a messsage saying “Veela Traxis’ power is weakened?” Does that signal some kind of triggered event in the Cartheon conga line? Who is the strange fairy in the hillside crypt near the Cartheon Village, why does she have a twin on a hill outside Haven’s Edge, and what’s the deal with the graves that I can open in the crypt? What’s the story with the smoke filled tower near Drathel that has the little red glowing dots? How come there are groups of spirits congregating in the Haven’s Edge chapel, only to dissapear in the center of the room? I feel like there’s either something I’m missing, or I’m experiencing what my guild has termed, “The Edge of Content.”

Above: Shipwreck near Tehatamani Harbor.

Tehatamani Harbor – Here’s another spot where I only scratched the surface. Again, this one takes a little traveling, and your best bet is to rent a griffon from Razad and fly east to the peninsula that juts out from the southern tip of Qalia. The harbor is right at the tip, and offers several quests. This spot really looks like it’s more suited to mid 40s, and does have a questline that involves grouping. The storyline here is really neat, involving the Lucent Circle, and the questline has several steps that allow you to upgrade a nice necklace:

The Lucent Circle is an elite group of fighters who are trying to drive back the Tehatamani Empire. Meanwhile, the Tehatamani found trouble of their own. They have been porting all over, swooping in on other civilizations and looting all of their treasure, but at some point, they became corrupted by one of the civilizations they had tried to pillage. The Xakrin, an evil civilization of stone cats and statues, is seeking revenge on the Tehatamani – and also looking to retrieve whatever the artifact was that the Tehatamani had stolen, and which had corrupted them even further.

Above: Quest hub at The Fallen Cove.

Fallen Cove – This one is not easy to get to, but quests are quests, and this is a cool place if you have the desire to explore a bit. The best way to reach it is to head to either Beranid Hills or New Targonor, and rent a griffon. Fly south to Flordiel, unlock the riftway there while you’re at it, and rent another griffon to fly further south to the Fallen Cove. Look for a little inlet on the eastern side of the peninsula south of NT, with two small islands near it. The quest hub is actually a ring of NPCs surrounding a flaming skull that reminded me of the Wizard of Oz’s floating head trick at the Emerald City. I have only begun questing here, but it looks like a good spot to solo and duo in the low to mid 40s. Lots of 2 and 3 dot mobs, and plenty of grind quests.

Above: The sun struggles to shine on this fortress near The Fallen Cove.

Still need ideas? You could try Dragon’s Backbone, Sunset Pointe, Rahz Inkur, Greystone, Ceros Island (great spot if you are a bard!), Xennumet Dungeon (although the final event, the All-Father event, is temporarily disabled).

Hope that helps! Happy Fourth of July!

Posted by jayernh under Archive,Vanguard Level 40-45,Vanguard Level 45-50 | Comments (4)