Later this year, Turbine is set to expand Dungeons & Dragons Online into the Forgotten Realms with the upcoming Menace of the Underdark expansion. But before DDO makes the leap, Turbine will be launching Update 13 ‘Web of Chaos’ to kick off the expansion’s storyline. We recently spent some time with the folks at Turbine to get a closer look at the update, which launches next Monday, February 27th.
Core to Update 13: Web of Chaos are three (free!) quests that serve as the prologue for the Underdark expansion. Eberron and the Forgotten Realms are essentially two different dimensions and Web of Chaos will set the stage for how and why players will end up eventually exploring the world of Faerun. The new quests are set at a base of level of 16 and will be enabled for all difficulty modes, ranging from casual to Epic. It’s also important to note that they will be soloable on the lowest difficulty, with an estimated completion time of roughly three hours.
The Web of Chaos storyline begins in a familiar area of Stormreach harbor where players will typically complete the Waterworks quest line between levels two and three. A mysterious crack has appeared in the giant wall at the harbor. The wall is known to protect a ruin and the nearby NPCs are suspicious of the crack. It’s up to the player to join the Order of the Silver Flame in investigating the mystery and our first contact seems to suspect that the Lords of Dust, a faction of demon princes that have been entrapped in Khyber (Eberron’s version of Hell) for hundreds of years, are involved. Our contact has located a possible base full of followers of the Lords of Dust and we are sent in to check it out.
Upon entering the base we run into the Silver Flame’s Inquisitor Gnomon, who is accompanied by his apprentice. Veteran DDO players will recognize Gnomon as a bit of a heartless character encountered during the Purge the Heretics quest line in the level six and seven range. After fighting through the base some, Gnomon decides he wants to split up to cover more ground and we move on without him, only to discover his apprentice bleeding on the ground deeper within the stronghold, with Gnomon himself nowhere to be seen. Later on, we find Gnomon conversing with the other cultists, confirming our suspicions that he may be up to no good. We skipped ahead to the final section of this quest at this point, but it was noted that there would be numerous traps and Rakshasas (an evil faction of tiger-like humanoids) along the way. Once we arrive at the final section of the base, we find Gnomon along with a peculiar looking Drow named Karas performing a ritual before an altar of a giant spider.
As a bit of a side note, the Drow of Eberron are a varied race that has even produced heroic characters, such as many of the Drow player characters that currently inhabit DDO. The Drow of the Forgotten Realms tend to be evil and worship the spider deity of Lolth, whereas the Drow of Eberron are often known to worship Vulkoor, the Scorpion god. Karas is part of a new faction of Eberron Drow that worships spiders. This new faction has been called upon by the Forgotten Realms’ Lolth to ally with the Lords of Dust in order to further her scheme in Eberron. These Drow (including Karas) are denoted by an interesting spider cultist mask that we were told players would be able to acquire in the upcoming Underdark expansion.
Once Karas and Gnomon realize we are there, Gnomon reveals himself to be a Rakshasa who was apparently a mole in the Silver Flame this whole time. Eager to be rid of us, we fought Gnomon and Karas, only to discover that in vanquishing Karas we had actually ended up completing the ritual. At this point, the ground shakes and the wall crumbles behind the altar, revealing a passageway leading to a chest full of phat lewt and an exit back to the harbor.
The results of the successful ritual are immediately apparent upon returning to the harbor, as we notice the crack in the wall has widened, creating a passage into the ruin, which actually turns out to be a passage directly into Khyber. The locals inform us that the Rakshasas and Drow have scrambled through the passage, where we are told the Lords of Dust and the Spinner of Shadows, Lolth’s weaker aspect in the world of Eberron, are imprisoned. Naturally, the Drow and Rakshasa are attempting to free the Spinner and Lords and the next leg of the quest line would send us in after them. This quest is the longest of the three and so we had to skip it in the interest of time.
The third quest begins in the prison of Khyber, and we come upon a number of Rakshasa and Drow arguing over dragon shards, which are powerful crystals scattered throughout the world of Eberron, and particularly abundant within Khyber. These dragon shards are the source of Lolth’s interest in Eberron, which is why Lolth is coordinating with her aspect, the Spinner of Shadows, in an attempt to retrieve them. The third quest leads to a final confrontation with the Spinner of Shadows herself, but before we can reach her we find a Blue Flame spirit being attacked, as well as a number of aggressive blue ‘Flame Eater’ spiders that are feeding off of the Blue Flame spirit’s energy. We defeat the spirit’s assailants only to be told that we are too late and that the Spinner has been freed from her prison. However, we have a chance to stop her here so we enter anyway.
In the room, we find the Spinner of Shadows along with her Rakshasa allies, who immediately egg her on to get rid of us so they can go free the Lords of Dust. Unfortunately for them, it turns out the Spinner has bigger plans and has no need for the Lords of Dust. The Spinner reveals that she intends to join Lolth herself in the Forgotten Realms. Obviously, we aren’t keen on this happening, and we’re surprised by the Blue Flame spirit who informs us we must light the blue flame torches throughout the room in order to weaken and ultimately re-trap the Spinner of Shadows. A number of crystal shards that can only be acquired by defeating the Spinner’s rapidly spawning Flame Eater spiders are required to light the torches in the room, so players will have to split up between fighting the Spinner herself and lighting the torches, ensuring a challenging fight, especially on harder difficulties. The Spinner has a number of neat tricks too, such as the ability to form a web and pull herself up to the ceiling, or even fire a web at players from afar in order to trip them up.
Once the Spinner is defeated, the wall rips open, revealing a portal leading to the Demon Web, the domain of Lolth herself. In the portal we see a reflection of Lolth, who makes the typical villain mistake of suggesting that the Spinner leave us would-be heroes alive to be destroyed by the portal. The Spinner escapes into the Demon Web to join Lolth, and we are pulled from certain death by a mysterious new faction of Druids known as the Gatekeepers who, naturally, are tasked with investigating gates and portals opening into the realm of Eberron. We inform the Gatekeepers that the Spinner is no longer a threat to Eberron for the moment, but the potential threat of the new portal could be even more significant, and thus marking the end of the Web of Chaos quest line.
There are also a number of other features coming to DDO with Update 13 outside of the Web of Chaos quest line. Update 13 will add a number of new items for purchase on the DDO store, including an Omnispell Dust item that will allow inventory conscious players a one-size-fits-all item to fill the material requirement of any magic spell. The store will also feature Veteran Level 7, which as you might guess, allows players to start new characters at level 7. This new item can be purchased with Turbine Points or unlocked with 3000 total Favor. Again, be sure to check out the new update when it launches next week on Monday, February 27th.