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Tiamat & the Cult of the Dragon

Garrett Fuller Posted:
Interviews 0

MMORPG.com: Tiamat is an iconic figure in Dungeons & Dragons. What was it like designing the massive monster for Neverwinter?

Michael Edwards, Systems Designer: Designing Tiamat was really fun. We really enjoyed making an encounter that challenged not only a player's skill, but the player's ability to coordinate with other players. Also, it's a giant five headed dragon. I mean, how cool is that!?

MMORPG.com: Players have been at war with the Cult of the Dragon and this is now the epic battle. What can players expect in terms of story behind the summoning of the Queen of Dragons?

Michael : The Cult of the Dragon are working with a faction of the Red Wizards of Thay to call Tiamat from the Nine Hells. The main focus of the Well of Dragons adventure zone is that the Cult of the Dragon has gathered a hoard to give Tiamat when she arrives and are bringing that hoard to the Well of Dragons in preparation for the ritual to summon Tiamat. Players need to stop this and have a chance to use that hoard themselves in their fight against Tiamat.

MMORPG.com: The update comes with some great new features for the Scourge Warlock class. Can you give players some insight into what your plans are?

Lindsay Haven, Cryptic Producer: Our goal was to give the Warlock class the full spectrum of choice that the other classes have with two Paragon Paths. We decided we wanted to go the direction of life steal and utility, which we thought fit well with how class is represented in the table top game. What we ended up with was a Paragon Path unlike many of the others, called the Soulbinder Paragon Path. It’s the only Paragon Path in the game that grants a class a new HUD (Heads Up Display) making it one of the most impactful in terms of changing play style. This is mostly because it’s focused on resource management, which is something most of the classes have innately.  The Soulbinder path is built around the idea of siphoning the life force from another and employing its use for damage or health gain. This addition should put the Scourge Warlock build options on par with the other classes while also providing an alternate gameplay style that’s unique to the game.

MMORPG.com: What was the philosophy when building the boss battle with Tiamat? What were some of the challenges?

Michael: We wanted the Tiamat fight to give players an epic fight against the largest enemy we ever created in Neverwinter while not totally changing the way they play the game. We knew that some players are skilled and geared enough to carry other players, so we focused on making the Tiamat  encounter a co-operative experience. Even the less powerful player has a chance to contribute meaningfully to the fight.

 Another huge challenge was how to make the Tiamat encounter look cool. Since Tiamat is so huge we had problems if we let melee players try to engage her since all they saw was a toe. Also we wanted to get the point across fictionally that even being near the Dragon Queen was a bad idea. With those challenges in mind, we created two phases in the fight where Tiamat is attacking the players while the players and then they get to approach and directly attack a weakened Tiamat. It changes the flow of the fight to a more manageable pace while keeping the visual concept of the fight awesome.

MMORPG.com: Rise of Tiamat gives players the chance to collect a lot of new items; can you tell us about some of the loot that will be on the line?

Lindsay: Tiamat is meant to be the next element of progression in terms of both story and player character advancement. The new Draconic Templar gear is the new end game set and holds the most stats of any gear in the game so far. We’ve also added new off-hand and neck artifact equipment pieces that really enable a player to dominate the Gear Score charts. Definitely worth mentioning are the artifact equipment set bonuses we’ve added, by collecting and equipping select artifacts and artifact equipment pieces players can gain a whole new set bonus in addition to the existing set bonuses. And last but not least we’ve added some new ways to improve artifact gear on select items, so be sure to be on the lookout for that.

MMORPG.com: The update runs in sync with Wizards of the Coast’s release of the new module for D&D. How was it working on this partnership?

Lindsay: Pretty great, actually. We’ve always had a collaborative relationship with the Wizards of the Coast folks. They are dedicated to have the Forgotten Realms in digitally accessible to players and they’ve been instrumental in guiding Neverwinter to the product it is today. One of the most rewarding experiences is when our game team really gets the concept of an element of the table top game down, which results in WotC updating their core D&D reference material to include our work. It’s very exciting to be part of that amazing legacy.

MMORPG.com: Quick personal question here. Which of the Chromatic Dragons is your favorite?

Michael: I personally like Blue Dragons. I really like lightning and anything that can power a small town in case of emergencies seems like a pretty cool thing to have around.

MMORPG.com: The release is coming very soon, any last minute changes or fixes based on player feedback you are making?

Michael: We are constantly iterating on our content based on player feedback. Right now we are still tweaking Tiamat's damage and abilities based on forum and test shard feedback so players will have the best possible experience when she finally hits the live server. We love our players and listen to the feedback they give us so they can help us make Neverwinter the best it can be.

MMORPG.com: What can players expect from Neverwinter in the months to come?

Lindsay: A lot actually. I certainly can’t give details yet, but I will say that our team is working on building new types of content that Neverwinter players have not seen before. It’s tough for a team that has a launched game to think outside the proverbial box but Cryptic has some amazing talent and experienced developers that’s making it all come together. Aside from the brand new stuff that we look forward to releasing, we’re also keeping an eye on the features we’ve released previously that players really enjoyed; expect us to continue to build on  those elements as well.


Garrett Fuller

Garrett Fuller / Garrett Fuller has been playing MMOs since 1997 and writing about them since 2005. He joined MMORPG.com has a volunteer writer and now handles Industry Relations for the website. He has been gaming since 1979 when his cousin showed him a copy of Dungeons and Dragons. When not spending time with his family, Garrett also Larps and plays Airsoft in his spare time.