Where Angels Fear to Tread

Confessions of a Shavarath Addict

Portal in Shavarath

Nothing good can come through this.

Everyone has their favorite areas in DDO.  Many are popular areas such as Gianthold or the Vale of Twilight.  Others, like myself, prefer some of the less-than-popular adventure areas.  I owe an adventuring debt to one such fellow “misfit” for his help in Reaver’s Refuge in Prey on the Hunter the other night.

Personally, my favorite area is one which sees nearly zero traffic on the Orien LFM panel:  Shavarath, the Plane of Battle.

Part of my love for Shavarath is that it’s a Knight of the Chalice’s playground.  All of their added bonus powers and defenses are in full swing against every single enemy.

Thol in Shavarath

Tholgrin in Shavarath, swinging his level 6 greataxe affectionately named “Betty.” Knights of the Chalice love Shavarath.

But the main reason lies in the sheer what the hell factor.  Having a previously-unseen enemy teleport to your side from half a mile away to start swinging just as you were catching your breath is commonplace.  Several of the quests feature semi-randomized layouts, making a guaranteed path to victory a crapshoot at best.  And there is always the ever-looming knowledge that the shrines are very few and very, very far between.  I imagine most conversations with veterans of the area and newcomers look something like this:

  • Newcomer:  “What the hell?  This group of devils just appeared out of nowhere and clobbered me!”
  • Veteran:  “Welcome to Shavarath, bro.”
  • Newcomer:  “Crap, I’m out of spell points.”
  • Veteran:  “Welcome to Shavarath, bro.”
  • Newcomer:  “Wait, what do you mean, that was the only shrine in the quest??”
  • Veteran:  “Welcome to Shavarath, bro.”

Amongst the list of quests available in Shavarath is one of my mostest favoritest quests in all of DDO.  It is one which, on Elite, can make characters even quite a nudge over-level squirm uncomfortably, and to my knowledge is one of the most intense, non-stop, no-mercy onslaughts in the game.

Folks who are familiar with the adventures in the Devil Battlefield may have already guessed it:  The Weapons Shipment.  

On Normal and Hard, it’s only mildly traumatic.  Once the difficulty is set to Elite, however, all hell quite literally breaks loose.

The introduction to the quest isn’t anything terribly unfamiliar by the time you get to it:  babysit Liella d’Orien, who would be up there with Coyle in terms of player-rage if you had to babysit her for any longer than you do.  As it is, it’s only for about two minutes, through approximately five mini-ambushes.  Don’t leave her side or you’ll regret it; remember, this is Shavarath, and half the enemies can teleport straight past your pre-emptive blitz attempt and go straight for their target (Liella) to maul her while you turn around and go back.  Stick by her side, and the problem is pretty much solved.  Just keep an eye on her hit points and toss a heal every now and then between ambushes and it’ll go with no problems.

But that’s just a warm-up for the biggest adrenaline rush in the game.  I freely admit I’m a junkie for this kind of stuff, and will run back and play it for no reason other than the near-high.  One thing to keep in mind is that the quest is base level 19;  playing it on Elite makes it effective level 21, thus removing power-level penalties from the equation.  This means that, provided all characters are 20+, you can have a range all the way from 20-28 and not have any hit on the XP (although, being completely honest, it really isn’t that great to begin with).  You might want a few 24+’s on your first run.

Because, damn.  For realz, yo.  Heck, I’m getting goosebumps just typing about it, and now I’m going to have to go home and run the quest before starting the daily epic grind on Uncle Tubbs.

After you finish escorting Liella to the end of the cavern is a shrine.  I really would not recommend using it right now – partway through the upcoming disasterpiece, players can take turns coming back through the cave one at a time to shrine up and refuel.  You’ll probably need it.  Just make sure it’s only one at a time, both to a) prevent quest failure, if all players leave, and b) to prevent the remaining party from being overrun.  Also of note.. this is your only (only) shrine in the quest.

Once you’re prepared, talk to Liella and she’ll drop the barrier and proceed forward.  This is it, folks, the moment you’ve all been waiting for.  This is that calm before the storm, the eye of the hurricane, the other-cliché-phrase-I-don’t-feel-like-thinking-about.  Wipe your palms, take a drink, and get ready.

Let’s put this in perspective, for a moment.  Epic Devil Assault is filled with many (but not all) of the same enemies you’re about to face.  An unprepared party can get shredded in EDA in seconds;  even prepared, things can go pear-shaped with alarming rapidity on Elite.   EDA also sends you the enemies in clearly delineated waves, and after waves three and four, gives you about two minutes to shrine up and catch your breath.  On a given run, there are roughly 200 enemies in EDA.  (I, for one, find the breaks in the action to be my only complaint about EDA.. perhaps that’s why I love this one so much.  –Ed.)

Don’t expect The Weapons Shipment to be so nice.  The key differences here are that you can expect well over three hundred enemies on elite with four or more people in the party, and that there are no waves.  At least, not in the “give me a second to reorganize my brain” sense.  Each mob comes in a wave, yes;  but once each wave is reduced to approximately 30%, the next wave immediately launches.  This means it’s possible (and often happens) to have  a Tiefling Bowman from Wave 1 still hanging around when you’re picking off stragglers at the end.  There is no break.  There is no respite.  The onslaught is, quite simply put, pure and unadulterated brutality.  Imagine, if you would, taking on the entirety of Epic Devil Assault at once, and then pile on another hundred monsters on top of it.

But oh me, oh my, you can’t buy that kind of a rush in the DDO Store.  There are raids that are more forgiving to solo.  And it is simply exhilirating.

Best of all, the loot is pretty darned awesome.  What caster doesn’t want a free Major Mnemonic Enhancer every rest?  That’s effectively what the Mysterious Bauble is.

If you’re like me, and love nothing more than diving face-first into a pile of enemies and thrashing about like a mosh pit at an industrio-metal concert, you owe it to yourself to run The Weapons Shipment at least once.  If you’re a caster who wants to test your Heroic crowd control capabilities to the absolute maximum, here’s your chance.  And if you’re healer that happens to be a glutton for punishment, there’s certainly plenty to go around.  Even if you’re a ludicrously-powered uber-toon looking to flatten an entire army solo for kicks, once again, The Weapons Shipment.

Shavarath is called the Plane of Battle, and nothing quite brings out the spirit of this blasted land where angels fear to tread (quite literally) like looking out over an ocean of barbazu, succubi, hellhounds, and tieflings filling the screen with intent to murderize you.

And the best part of all – the Producer’s Letter released recently said we’re getting new content for Shavarath.

I.  Cannot.  Wait.

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7 comments

  1. I have to agree. I ran it for the first time a couple days ago, solo on Normal. I liked it so much that I put up an IP LFM and jumped in on Hard. Nobody joined but I was doing alright until about half way through when a bunch of casters threw some CC at me and my HP dropped in seconds. Good times! It keeps you on your toes.

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  2. It was been a long time since I ventured out into Shavarath. I need to get back out there and play around once again. I always liked The Weapons Shipment and dealing with the what seemed like the endless wave after wave of mobs.

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