Two weeks in a row in Telara!
However, this week around we again fell short of a full group. This is becoming the most common story for our group in 2013. But four of us were on and logged in. Our group was:
- Jollyreaper level 51 mage
- Zahihawass level 51 cleric
- Hillmar level 51 cleric
- Gizalia level 53 mage
And to open up the evening, we did another round of carnival games. This time I left the group set to public and we ended up in a balloon popping raid in Meridian.
When you get 8 or 9 people together doing this, finishing up the weekly quest for 50 carnival games goes by pretty quickly. We soon all had our second doubloon out of the three required to get the Aurora mount.
Of course, with that over quickly, we were left wondering what else to do. I suggested the Codex warfront, as there were several carnival related achievements tied in with it. That drew a pretty universal sigh of revulsion. And, I had to admit, we hadn’t fared well previously in Rift’s versions of battlegrounds.
Zahi suggested we roll with another level 50 expert dungeon to see how we would manage with just four of us. That meant we would need a tank and would have to walk to a dungeon, as the LFG tool doesn’t work with a short group.
Zahi volunteered to respec in a tank role and I rode on out to a dungeon.
More after the cut. Pictures, spoilers, text, etc.
I suppose it says something about Rift’s class/soul system that Zahi was able to grab a new cleric soul, a one handed weapon, and a shield and turn himself from DPS to tank in a matter of minutes.
Meanwhile, I took the shortest route to a dungeon and headed towards the Iron Tomb just outside of Meridian. I remembered to set the group difficulty to “expert” and found my way to the entrance.
I held there while the rest of the party got ready. Once we were all good, I stepped in, dragging everybody with me.
We were last in the Iron Tomb over a year ago, but some of the memories came flooding back right away. It is build on a very grand scale, with lots of open space. There is no feeling of claustrophobia.
The expert version of Iron Tomb differs from the version we ran back at around level 20 in that it is geared towards level 50s and it has three additional bosses, one at the start, one in the middle, and one at the end. The one at the start is a giant spider named Broodmother Venoxa.
That was going to be our first warm-up fight. We plunged in and… won handily. She summons some smaller spiders to help during the fight, but Zahi, our shake-and-bake tank was able to reel them all in.
Of course, it was the loot drop that probably told the tale.
Drops from the dungeon, which were designed to be upgrades for people attempting it, were pretty serious downgrades from our early Storm Legion gear. Items we were looking at were going to be weighed solely on their cosmetic merits.
I suppose that, since the gear was roughly double the stats of the items being dropped, going in with a group of four was probably hitting the instance like a group of eight at level. So the trash mobs were unlikely to give us any problems. And, any bosses without a serious gimmick was likely to be easy enough as well. Like the next boss, Caor Ashstone, who we only realized we were fighting when he was about dead. He is in the midst of a series of trash mobs and doesn’t actually stand out that much.
I think that same thing happened the last time we ran the instance.
Caor inadvertently out of the way, we moved on towards the next boss challenge, which was the three kings.
They definitely have a gimmick. You have to defeat each of the three kings one at a time and then turn around and fight all three as a group. The three of them represent the group holy trinity, being a tank, a healer, and a damage dealer. We actually remembered this, and the fact that if you try to tackle the tank first, it can be a long slow fight, as the healer never runs out of mana. (Though, to be fair, I never run out of mana as our healer either.)
But if you tackle the healer first, then the damage dealer, and then finally the tank, the fight goes fairly quickly.
A nice touch at the end of the fight is that you are presented with a chest to loot rather than just rifling through corpses.
And then we got confused.
We cleared out everything on the way to the next two bosses on the list, Bonelord Fetlorn and Ragnoth the Despoiler. But both bosses are behind barriers, and how to open up or otherwise pass through the barriers was unclear to us. So we wandered around, killing every last thing we could find, looking for switches or other things that might open up the next boss to us.
In the end, there was a glimmer of memory about all of the pedestals in the area between the bosses. Standing on them makes them light up in a way. Eventually we hit upon lighting them all up at once, which meant some running around, but which actually opened up Fetlorn to us.
His fight gimmick, going invulnerable while summoning help, was pretty easy to figure out and he was defeated. That, in turn, opened up Ragnoth to us.
This fight we remembered. During the fight Eliam’s ghost shows up to protect us from Ragnoth’s special call for flames area attack. All we had to do was get to him in time and we would be good. And I managed to screw that up and got caught in the open. Eliam’s ghost seemed to feel the need to show up at opposite sides of the fight on alternating appearances and I ended up short of the mark.
Without healing, the group began to perish. The heartbreak on this one was that even after most of us were dead, Zahi nearly managed to finish the fight. He had Ragnoth down to 3% health before succumbing.
The next time around though Eliam was kind to us and showed up in the same spot every time. We stayed put, and defeated Ragnoth. That is the point where the standard instance ends. The expert version carries on. Alsbeth showed, hung us all in the air, opened a portal and did everything short of leaving a trail of bread crumbs to make sure we followed along.
Unlike nearly every D&D campaign I have ever been on, we did what was expected, there being little in the way of alternate choices. Down the path we went to face Totek, the final boss. It was the one fight where my healing was at a premium, and it kept me so busy that I failed to take a single screen shot during the battle. We won on the first try though and got the achievement.
And, just to seal off the fight, the corpse disappeared right after looting, so I have no evidence of what he looked like left. So our final group picture was on one of the tombs in the area of the final fight.
That is Boney Highcollar and Brad the elemental joining us in the picture.
Then it was out the far side of the room, over a drop, and out the front door again.
Now, the real question is, has this been enough of a warm-up to go back and finish off the Exodus of the Storm Queen instance which vexed us back in early January.
Well, that and, will we get a full group this week. With Easter and family obligations, I am going to guess we will not. We shall see.