I had all sorts of plans for how to progress with the telling of my adventures in Eberron and the Forgotten Realms. I sat down to start talking about the various classes and why I was having such a very difficult time deciding between them, and to go into more on how different statting choices can really impact the development and playstyle of a character. I just adore trapping, punching things with my fists, and casting spells; I love my Intelligence and Charisma! But then, midway through my planning and drafting of an outline – I suddenly realized. I was level six. Level six! I suspect even seasoned players are looking at me rather squint-eyed at this point – what does that mean? Although the title of today’s piece probably gives some clue.
Level 6 is when, by my estimations, I might take a foray into that dread and wonderful place, The Temple of Elemental Evil, and have some small chance of surviving.
You want to talk nostalgia, there is just a ring to the name; The Temple of Elemental Evil. The Temple of Elemental Evil. It brings to mind not merely a host of demons, cultists, bandits, but hours and hours of sucking down Mountain Dew and Slurpees, twisting my hair up in those eye blinding neon fuzzy scrunchies to keep it from falling into my bags of Doritos and out of the sights of maniac fellow gamers armed with cans of Easy Cheese, and throwing around crumbly dice I’d carefully inked with plastic crayons. It wasn’t my original character; an elf – anyone else around who remembers being a level 3 elf? – but it is one of those modules that just stands out so much that it calls to mind the entire span of my early gaming career. I still have a few of the dice from that original set, although the corners have been worn down so much they more resemble a bizarre set of ancient marbles than dice. I once had those little cardboard markers that took the place of dice early on during a dice shortage, but those are long gone. Rest assured however that after 30+ years of gaming, I shall never be afflicted by a shortage of dice – I even carry a set in my purse. You never know when you might want to game, right?
The loading screen as I zoned into the adventure module for the first time was just magical, although I’ll admit to a certain amount of trepidation as well. What if they got it wrong? What if I zoned in and ran through it in one sitting without a single death or moment of hardship? It seemed like a much longer load than it was as I alternated between biting my nails and bouncing in my seat in excitement, but I needn’t have worried. My first death came pretty quickly. Having a somewhat easy enough time with the random groups of cultists I’d encountered wandering the halls, I allowed myself to be lulled into a false sense of security – being level 6 I’d only loaded up the normal mode – and was soon reminded that I would have been far wiser to have continued forward under the influence of my original fears when I rounded a corner and froze to death by I still don’t know what.
I am still giddy with delight that my first death in Dungeons and Dragons Online occurred in the Temple of Elemental Evil. And my second. And my third. And my …
I’m generally not one to rush to the end of a game, and I routinely weep that games have moved in the direction where that is possible, let alone as easy as it is, but I do have to admit that I very much have the urge to do so just to get to level 30 so I can explore the epic elite version of the adventure. Of course, I have yet to even get to level 2 of this low level 7 version of the module. Yes, they did it right. It is huge. It is sprawling. It is dangerous. It is glorious. Every time I enter I hope that I’ll get further than I did in my last attempt. I’m the sort of person who loves grinding; I really miss the old school style of leveling that involved lots of killing monsters and really getting to know your leveling zones, so I am definitely going to be spending an awful lot of time in here. With a basic level of 7, I can push it up to 9 on elite difficulty.
I haven’t even bothered trying to actually complete the quest yet, I’ve been having too much fun just running around exploring. I’m sure there’s some optimal path that’s been found for efficiency, but I don’t care a whit. One of the things that I’ve really been enjoying with this dungeon crawl are the moments when I look around and just know there is danger somewhere about. I spent the entire time I was in this room on eggshells, waiting for the massive gargoyle attack that I was just certain was coming:
I was able to trigger them one by one sadly, but do acknowledge that if I received danger every time I expected it, I would very rapidly lose any sense of dramatic tension and very quickly afterwards my fun. It’s that sense of caution that I’m loving. I don’t feel weak, but I am very much aware as I explore that over confidence can be very deadly very quickly. I wonder how my baby monk will fare once she is old enough to venture through these gates?
I also find myself wondering – will we see The Tomb of Horrors? Tsojcanth? Barrier Peaks? White Plume Mountain? Tamoachan? I should stop there, I suppose. It’s been suggested that I finally get around to figuring out video recording and do some streaming of my deaths in the Temple, like the very old Instance Gratification for Dungeons and Dragons Online. Would anyone be up for a good laugh at watching my non-efficient explorations of the Temple of Elemental Evil?
See you next time!