Are the Duergar forces linked?

I recently took Erdrique (Level 16 Rogue) and Hamllin (Level 16 Fighter) through some quests and areas that deal with the duergar dwarves.  For Erdrique, I took him through the Black Anvil Forest (Made to Order and A Relic of the Sovereign Past) while Hamllin has been making his way through Ataraxia’s Haven.  As I was battling my way through these tough enemies, I wondered if they had some type of a link.  These two areas account for the majority, if not all, of the duergar dwarves in game.  I also find it interesting that both of these locations are accessible through House Kundarak, which is a dwarven dragonmark house.

In A Relic of the Sovereign Past, the end boss is King Dolgrim Nightforge.  I’m unclear of Dolgrim’s origins but I’m beginning to think that his clan extends further out than just the Black Anvil Forest.  I have no doubt that Dolgrim has migrated to the Black Anvil Forest and started to excavate the Black Anvil Mines in the pursuit of adamantine ore and to develop a strong forge for exceptional armor and weapons.  I’m also assuming that Dolgrim has made concessions of some sort with Haywire which explains the duergar present in his Grotto.

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Erdrique preparing to fight the duergar in A Relic of the Sovereign Past.

However, what about Ataraxia’s Haven?  We know from Sykro’s, the wealthy merchant who bought the island from the Coin Lords, that the duergar showed up shortly after he started to develop the island.  However, he didn’t elaborate on where these duergar came from.  Its logical to think that Dolgrim has sent out a mining expedition to Ataraxia’s Haven.  I can see the eager king looking to take advantage of the shift in ownership between the Coin Lords and Syrkos to make a claim on the land.  Sykros doesn’t command nearly the resources or the military might that the Coin Lords do and would be limited in attempting to stop any type of large operation put forth from the duergar.

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Hamllin fighting the duergar in Ataraxia’s Haven.

I can see the foreman in the quest Reclamation reporting directly to the Dolgrim, giving him constant updates on the mining operation, Syrkos and his attempts to regain control of the island, as well as any issues that might be occurring with the local scrag populations.  I can also see Dolgrim suggesting the kidnapping of Ataraxia to keep Sykros in line, which would be a direct link between the two areas.  What is very likely that Dolgrim is looking to supplement his mining operations in the Black Anvil Forest with ore excavated from the mine that they have started in Ataraxia’s Haven.

If this is the case, perhaps we will see the duergar moving out into other areas.  Maybe they will start exploiting other mines.  Not sure, but I can easily see this as being a potential and interesting storyline.  Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting!!

Haywire and Made To Order

Way back in July I wrote about some of my experiences in the quest Made to Order.  I recently ran this quest once again with Erdrique (Level 16 Monk) and wanted to take a little more in depth in this quest and then to make some comments about one of the more intriguing non-player characters in the game, Phineaus Haywire.  As I mentioned in my previous post, the quest giver to Made to Order is Hazra d’Kundarak.  Hazra is located on the other side of the House Kundarak bank/pyramid with her position on the pyramid being just above the entrance to the Black Anvil Forest.  She is guarded by two huge iron golems.  When you talk to Hazra, you learn that Haywire has sent out a distress message indicating that he is in some serious trouble.  You learn that Haywire was contracted to build some golems for the House Kundarak and it appears something has gone wrong.

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Erdrique making his way across the rails in Made to Order.

The quest is located in the Black Anvil Forest.  This used to be a mini-explorer type area, where there used to be four or so duergar walking around the grounds.  Although the area is still a zone, the duergar that used to be located in here are no longer present.  However, their former presence is interesting. See, there is a second quest located in the Black Anvil Forest, A Relic of the Sovereign Past, and its primary enemy are more duergar.  This seems to suggest that the Black Anvil Forest might be home to a powerful duergar clan.  I mention this because Made to Order is also chalk full of duergar.  The storyline for Made to Order is primarily focused on rescuing Haywire from his failed attempt at rebuilding the Marut that he scavenged from his partner in the Laughing Knives, Veil.  The storyline makes no mention whatsoever of the duergar.  So what is there deal here?

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There are plenty of constructs in Made to Order.

I’m guessing that the duergar have made some type of pack or alliance with Haywire.  In fact, since we don’t know much about Haywire, it could be that he is part duergar and might be an “unofficial” member of this clan.  In the quest “A Relic of the Sovereign Past” we know that the duergar have acquired a great relic and that they are tremendous miners and crafters.  With these types of resources, Haywire could easily continue to experiment with artificer capabilities and the duergar could benefit from these experiments.  It also seems to suggest that not a lot of people know about this clan of duergar.  The quest giver for “A Relic of Sovereign Past” shows no indication of their presence and seems surprised to hear about them and Hazra never mentions them either.  They appear to be a mystery.

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Erdrique surveying the scene of battle.

In any case, you have to battle your way through them to get to Haywire.  The duergar forces primarily include melee combatants (guards, engineers, blacksmithes, laborers, surveyors) and divine casters (acolytes, apprenctices).  The other type of enemies you will encounter will be Haywire’s iron and clay golem constructs.  Some of these constructs are “tempered” and you have two optionals to destroy a fixed quantity of these constructs.  These tempered constructs are particularly tough and they are guarding the crests you need to collect to open the final pathway to Haywire’s saferoom.

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Erdrique battling one of the tempered clay golems.

The quest layout can be challenging at times.  First off, the everything is in the mines and over some shallow lava pools or flows.  A large challenge of this quest are the numerous mine traps, especially at the beginning of the quest.  The mines can be particularly potent on elite and they can be just about any type of elemental damage.  If you can make your way through the mines, you then get to navigate through a series of twisting tunnels that lead you further into the mountainside.  Some of these require you to walk across railway lines that are pretty narrow with some of them being disabled and sparking dangerous lighting traps.  This is one of the points that can be annoying because you can easily fall off of these rails and will have to travel back up the path and will have to try to avoid the mines once again.  There are two shrines in the quest, one is behind a locked door that can only be picked.  As you make your way through the tunnels you need to pick up four crests that will be used to unlock the final hallway.

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These mines can be extremely annoying and challenging.

The end fight is relatively simple as long as you have the appropriate, primarily an anarchic weapon.  As you enter the room you see the powerful Marut pounding on the door and you will also notice a number of other golems (clay and iron) in the room.  As you enter into the room, the golems will take notice of your and will attack.  The combination of the golems and the Marut can be challenging, it is best to try to control this aggro and work on the golems before gaining the attention of the Marut.  Overall though, the end fight is just a final beat down between you and the Marut.  Make sure you have buffs up and freedom of movement to keep from being stunned.

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Erdrique in the final room watching the Marut banging on the doors to Haywire’s safe room.

Upon the defeat of the Marut, Haywire opens up his plethora of doors, which is funny to watch.  As you enter the room, you see that our favorite artificer has been making some alternations to his physical form.  He has replaced his arm with a mechanical one and this was why the Marut turned against him (because Haywire was meddling with the laws of nature).  In any case, this made me wonder a little bit about Haywire.  I was thinking that he would be a very interesting member to a questing party and I bet his comrades in the Laughing Knives have some interesting stories about him.  Although he is definitely brilliant, he is also quite clueless in the aspects of many things.  This makes me wonder how he would handle the large variety of things we come across in our adventuring careers.  In any case, I bet he would be funny and interesting party member!!

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Looks like Haywire has been experimenting on himself!!

Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting!!  Give Made to Order a shot and say “hi” to Haywire for me :).

There is Something to be Said For Being Persistent

Earlier in the week I had attempted to take Hamllin (Level 13 Fighter) into Ataraxia’s Haven to do the quest Reclamation on elite.  Now Reclamation is a very tough quest if you don’t know what to expect or how to handle the numerous duergar miners, sharpshooters, laborers, and bosses that are located throughout the quest.  Another thing about Reclamation is that it is a relatively hard quest to try to zerg through with only a hireling as some help.  See, I was running low on time and figured I could “bull rush” my through it.  Well everything was going great until I got to the second overseer.  At that point I pulled in way too many duergar and was quickly overwhelmed.  I had also left my hireling trailing in my footsteps and by the time I realized it, I was nothing more than a soulstone and then my hireling quickly followed.

Well, my redemption came early on during the weekend.  I took Hamllin back into Reclamation but had a little more time, so I didn’t have to worry about zerging.  I was able to use a number of Hamllin’s tactical feats to even the odds, landing a number of stunning blows and actually tripping an adamantine defender, which I found quit amusing.

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Hamllin having some fun with stunning blow in Reclamation.

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Hammy tripping an adamantine defender in Reclamation.

However, I think the greatest reward for my persistence in taking down the duergar was breaking a crate to complete one of the optionals and watching a +2 Upgrade Tome of Constitution fall out.  I have to admit that I really enjoy demolishing all crates, barrels, and jars in quests now because you never know what you are going to get.

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Hamllin is enjoying finding this little nugget in a busted crate in Reclamation.

I guess the take home message is that persistence does pay off!!   And don’t forget to break those crates!!  Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting!!

Thinking About the Quest Reclamation

One of my quest runs over the past weekend was in the quest Reclamation.  Reclamation is one of two quests in Ataraxia’s Haven, a fun but tough explorer zone at around the level 7 to 14 area that is chalk full of duergar, scrags, wildmen, hyenas, scorpions, rust monsters, spiders, and razor cats.  The two quests in that area are both level 10 quests on Normal and Erdrique (Level 13 Druid) is currently working on finishing those quests up on elite, which promptly brought him to the Ataraxia’s Haven explorer area.

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Erdrique and his earth elemental fighting the duergar in the Mineshaft in Ataraxia’s Haven.

Reclamation is an interesting quest but can be extremely difficult on elite if you aren’t prepared.  The quests has three primary types of enemies: duergar, adamantine defenders, and rust monsters.  There is also a named, but optional, earth elemental at the end of the quest.  The duergar have among their ranks a variety of melee forces and a number of duergar scouts who seem to have an affinity for pelting unwary adventurers with acid doused arrows.  The main objective of the quest is to destroy the mining operation by defeating the duergar in the dungeon, which is named Mineshaft IV.  The quest giver is a druid by the name of Leros Levithas right at the entrance to Ataraxia’s Haven.

There are a couple things to remember about this quest.  First, as soon as you enter the quest take care not to run forward.  If you do, you will fall down a very well disguised pit to the bottom of the mine into a pool of water.  Then you will have to make your up the shaft.  Second, make sure to never draw too much aggro as the duergar are swarmers and really like to dominate you by sheer number and to attempt to overwhelm you.  Not to mention duergar cannot be paralyzed or held which makes their aggro management a little tricky.

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Erdrique going for a swim in the Mineshaft to find the final chamber.

However, one thing that came to my mind while running through the Mineshaft has to do with the bottom of the mind.  See to open up the last room you have to activate three large valves which control a large door that is located at the bottom of the mine.  However the bottom of the mine is actually a small pool, that is relatively deep.  To get to the last room you have to swim through this small pool and come out another hole at the bottom of the mine.  This particular room not only has the last named bad guy but it also has a plethora of other enemies.  Now, I’m not sure, but I was under the impression that the duergar aren’t the best of swimmers and I wonder how in the world did they get all of their mining gear down there, as it appears to me, that the primary door is the only way into the last room.  However, there is a large earth elemental in this room as well.  Perhaps the earth elemental was in service to the duergar and helped them establish their stronghold…hm…maybe.

In either case, if you enter the Mineshaft IV take your time with the duergar and don’t run immediately forward when you enter.  The Mineshaft is quite challenging and it makes me wonder if there are three other Mineshaft 😛 ?  Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting!!!

Thoughts on the Black Anvil Mines-A Relic of the Sovereign Past

At one time, the quest known as A Relic of the Sovereign Past, was one of the hardest and most heavily ran quests in the game.  Today, it is rarely run and I have a few of my guildies who swear they have never been in it.  When the quest first came out, it was better known as the Black Anvil Mines (BAM).  The quest giver, Sir Kinze MacDunnam is found in the Temple of the Sovereign Host in House Deneith.  He tells you about a historic artifact that has gone missing: the legendary sword Tesyus.  Our adventurers are tasked with finding the legendary sword which has supposedly turned up in the Black Anvil Mines. 

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Erdrique taking on the taskmaster.

Although the quest giver is in House Deneith, the entrance to the Black Anvil Mines is actually in House Kundarak.  This entrance also harbors the quest, Made to Order with our favorite construct maker, Haywire.  At one time, this little area actually had four duergar guarding it.  Now it is empty accept for the quests themselves. 

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Erdrique confronting King Dolgrim Nightforge.

BAM gave us our first glimpse at the duergar.  The duergar black guards, duergar champions, and duergar spellswords were particularly challenging at the time (and still are if you aren’t prepared).  This particular quest was unique at that time in that it had an optional tunnel where you can collect adamantine ore and turn it in to a hostage blacksmith inside the mines.  Depending on the quantities of ore you had, you could by various items and weapons.  Some of them are pretty good and have been made even better with the addition of augments.  I actually use a Nightforge Gorget on Erdrique until he gets high enough to use the Minos Legens. 

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Erdrique taking on Edgan Nightforge.

The quest itself is pretty straight forward.  It has undergone a number of changes/modifications over the years.  When it was first released, a common tactic was to pull all the enemies down from the last tunnel to a ledge at a doorway and let your favorite caster roast them to death in a nice blazing firewall.  This was changed when that very ledge was altered so people couldn’t reach it anymore and when the tunnel was interspersed with doors forcing the party to travel through the tunnel.  This made the quest much more challenging than before, especially with the damage that the poison traps can put out today.  I lead a pug group through it about a week ago and one of our casters succumbed to one of those poison traps (twice actually).

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Erdrique fighting the duegar in the Black Anvil Mines.

The storyline to the quest is interesting, I like quests where you look for old ancient relics, but I don’t think we ever find out how the duergar wound up with the great sword.  I wonder if we ever will.  In any case, if you are ever within the levels 12-17 I would recommend running it.  The quest is Level 12 on normal, making it Level 14 on elite. 

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Erdrique slicing through some duergar.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and happy hunting!!     

Sykros’ Jewel-noticing a few things

Recently, I took Erdrique into Ataraxia’s Haven and ran the quest Sykros’ Jewel.  I wrote up a short article about Ataraxia’s Haven earlier in the week and today I would like to focus more on the quest, Sykros’ Jewel.  Sykros’ Jewel is one of the two quests found within the Haven and is bestowed by the recent owner of the Haven, Sykros.  Sykros recruits you to rescue his daughter, Ataraxia, who has been kidnapped by a hostile mining duergar clan.  The quest itself is located a little ways from the resort area where you enter into the zone.  It is actually not far from a source of scrags that inhabit the island as well.

When you enter the quest, the first thing you come across is a wounded duergar who tells you that Ataraxia is in the light house however a clan of scrags have come into the caves leading to the gateway of the lighthouse and now guard the keys to dual gates.  This leads us to a question.  In the explorer zone, there are a few instances where the scrag and duergar work together at one end..to destroy us but here in this quest, the scrag have ambushed some of the duergar and now control access to the lighthouse through the underground caves.  So which is it?  Are they allies..or are the enemies?

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Erdrique going through the caves to defeat scrag and duergar alike.

Once the scrag are defeated and you obtain the keys, you enter the lighthouse and then start to make your move against the duergar.  What is interesting about this particular encounter is that the duergar appear to have enlisted the help of a powerful water spider, Deluge.  Deluge is actually a darfang spider and my sneaky suspicion is that he is somehow aligned with Hellgut who leads the other darkfang spiders on the Haven that are holding up in a far away ruin.  With the number of duergar scouts and spellcasters I can see this being a possibility as they can probably communicate with these two powerful spiders.  However, I’m wondering if this isn’t a deeper ploy being involved here.  I’m thinking that the druid, Leros Levithas (who was enlisted by Skyrkos to deal with the natural hazards of the island and who bestows the second quest, Reclamation, and who seems to take the duergar invasion and intrusion to the island very seriously), may have enlisted the help of these powerful spiders to help thwart the duergar.  I don’t have any proof of this..but it could be a possibility.

I’m also not sure how a band of scrag could have taken down a force of duergar.  I feel this particular quest is much easier to complete than the second quest in the area.  The duergar spell casters and scouts are particularly dangerous and tend to do a devasting amount of damage if you aren’t prepared for them.  The scrag have only a few spell casters among them and tend to rely on brute force.  The scrag force must have been facing a much small duergar contingent and must have been able to overwhelm them to get these keys. 

Also, who are the three or so specter smugglers?  What other secrets are in those caves?  Maybe we’ll find out eventually :).  Later all, thanks for readying and happy questing!!