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.
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!