Along Came a Spider (A Content Pitch)

If you’re anything like me, you probably have quite a few fond (?) memories of your early days in DDO in one particular quest – which I won’t even need to name for most veterans.

  •         The Hatchery
  •         OMFG IT’S WHISPERDOOM RUN YOU FOOLS
  •         The Hatchery
  •         SHE’S RIGHT BEHIND US dude we are so gonna die
  •         The Hatchery
  •         omg omg I can’t move, my Con is zero, and HOW IS SHE STACKING SO MUCH ACID DAMAGE
  •         The Hatchery
  •         Annnnddd total party wipe.  What directly the…  how.. just.. what??
  •         …..the Hatchery

For those of you that haven’t figured it out yet, the quest in question is The Spawn of Whisperdoom (not to be confused with the level 4 quest Whisperdoom’s Spawn which is exponentially easier).  If you haven’t figured it out yet, that means you probably haven’t run it – or it’s been a seriously long time – and you and Whisperdoom should probably go get re-acquainted.  It’s a Heroic base level 11 quest, which puts it at 13 on Elite, and make sure you go in prepared – things can go pear-shaped pretty darn quickly if you aren’t.  Never mind the fact that this CR 20 boss regenerates, is perma-hasted, has an unbreakable DR 15, is immune to Cold, Sonic, Holy, Anarchic, Axiomatic, and Vermin weapons (she’s a magical beast), and has a nasty (nasty [gnarsty]) habit of filling the entire combat zone with high-DC Webs, Stinking Clouds, and nauseatingly high stacks of acid DOTs (and I would personally swear there are Cloudkills in there, but I can’t confirm that on the wiki –Ed.).  Retreating to regroup probably won’t work – especially if you don’t have Freedom of Movement – since that ginormous spider can haul some serious abdomen.

350px-Whisperdoom_zpsf2eb1698

Whisperdoom, courtesy of the Wiki.

In short, if you’re with a bunch of young toons, it’s one hell of a fight, and feels almost like a right-proper raid victory when you pull it off.  No, it’s not an XP/min quest, but it’s definitely one that will leave an impression.

And yet, with such a memorable villainess, her story ends with that particular quest… but in my opinion, it really shouldn’t.  Plus, villains come back from the dead in games, comics, movies, and soap operas all the time – as long as it’s done in a cool fashion, who cares about the logistics?

Enter my pitch for a “tribute arc” to that most infamous of spellslinging spiders, simply entitled..

Arachnophobia


 

The Intro Quest:  “Finding the Source”

Background:  A new type of venom has been discovered being wielded against the citizens of Stormreach and Xen’drik which defies all previous knowledge of deadly toxins.  It matches no known sources, responds to no known antidotes, and kills swiftly and violently.  Fearing extraplanar meddling, the Gatekeepers have asked you to investigate.

In short, this first quest (only) will be an Epifying of a current quest, the notoriously brutal Proof is in the Poison.   This is to minimize resource cost for the remainder of the arc, as well as provide a fun little ‘revisit’ to an old haunting ground.  The twist this time, however, will take place in the final chamber, during the fight with Thual Masmataz where it will be discovered that his new venom which is plaguing Stormreach is actually a concentrate from the glands of the captive Whisperdoom’s Daughter that will burst forth from its magical bonds once Thual is dead.

After the heavily augmented magical spider is dropped during a vicious battle, the ominous reveal is made – where, exactly, did this daughter of Whisperdoom come from, since you already exterminated her and her entire brood ages ago?  You’d better bring this back to the Gatekeepers.

Completion of this quest flags you for the pre-raid and makes it available as a teleport option from the Gatekeeper representative.


 

The Pre-Raid:  “Into the Lair”

Background:  The sudden reappearance of a Spawn of Whisperdoom, enhanced with magical energies foreign to this plane of existence, has alarmed the Gatekeepers to a degree that has not been seen since the appearance of the Rift in Khyber.  Fearing the two incidents may be related, they dispatched an emissary to commune with Elminster in Eveningstar.

Their discoveries suggest that Lolth the Demon Queen has somehow managed to revitalize Whisperdoom across the planar divide to serve as her avatar of destruction in our very backyard.   Pooling their considerable resources, the Gatekeepers have divined the location of Whisperdoom’s new lair.  Now it is up to you to end this terror, once and for all.

The second quest in the arc will take place in a long, winding path with multiple offshoots.  Each of these offshoots will be little more than a single hallway and bend with one small chamber at the end, but will serve the purpose of making a “wrong turn” every two hundred feet or so and expending precious resources with few chances of renewal.  Of course, once someone has learned the correct route, these offshoots will hold no additional hindrance.

Except, of course, the fact that the only shrines in the quest will be hidden in these tucked-away areas.

Into the Lair

So the correct path, in this example, is right, left, right, left, left, left, right, wait, what?

As one might expect, the theme and appearance for this  quest will be similar to “The Lair” portion of The Spawn of Whisperdoom, only much darker and more ominous.  Wisps of a greenish fog hang around the ceiling and pool around in some of the alcoves, acting as foreshadowing for what is to come later.  As for hostiles, as one would imagine, spiders galore infest this entire map.  Hundreds and hundreds of spiders.  They will crawl up from the ground, drop down from the ceiling without warning, and constant respawns will plague the party;  anyone wishing to shrine will need to set up guards and take shifts in order to prevent their rest from being interrupted.

Jets of poison and acid will fire from random “cracks in the walls” (read: undisarmable traps) which will make things more unpredictable, even for those that know the correct route.  Otherwise, it is a relatively straightforward hack-‘n-slash style homage to the classic dungeon crawl… with spiders.  Lots and lots of spiders.  And then add some more arachnids.  Squared.

Note that spiders have Tremor Sense which makes simply sneaking through or invisi-zerging a non-viable option.  Your only way out is through, and there’s a lot of legs between here and there.

The quest ends upon the completion of one simple objective, “Find the Entrance to the Lair,” which is achieved by having at least one player reach the end point and hack away several layers of webbing covering an enormous cavern entrance leading almost straight down.  Clicking the entrance will not advance to the next quest, but rather return you to town, as recalling will likely not be an option (thanks to the respawns).

Also, this will not require re-running to re-flag for the raid.

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for…


 

The Raid:  “Along Came a Spider”

Background:  You have driven your way past the endless onslaught of the lair’s defenses and stand on the brink of Whisperdoom’s innermost hive.  Judging by the sounds and impossibly acrid odors emanating from within, it seems she will be significantly more formidable than the last time you crossed fangs with her.  Now all that remains is to shed some blood.

A note before we begin – this raid is intended to completely destroy unprepared parties.  If that sounds harsh, it really isn’t – raids were never meant to be soloed, and failing multiple times to learn what you need to survive is expected.  Coming in unprepared is supposed to shred you like papier mache.  The design of this is to provide unrelenting havoc to prepared parties and diabolic annihilation to those who were not.  Having said that..

The raid itself takes place in three main locations, all of which are completely contained.  The first relatively small chamber is where the party enters, and is separated from the Outer Lair by several thick layers of webbing.  Once the party has completed buffing – and it should be noted this will be the only time during the raid where one will have “time to breathe” – the party cuts the webs and enters.

Twenty seconds after the first party member enters the Outer Lair, Whisperdoom 2.0 will seal the chamber off with unbreakable webbing.  Late arrivals to the raid will be able to score completion, but much like many other raids, the loot itself will be whisked away beyond their reach.

The Outer Lair is a large, dome-like chamber, somewhat akin to a larger version of the battle room with Sineater in In the Belly of the Beast.   However, instead of the white fog present near the purple worm, this fog is green.. and thus we begin the Environmental Effects which will conjure every nightmare fight with Whisperdoom from your toon’s youth.

Why Environmental Effects?  Because putting these out as visual effects, like the spells themselves, would run the very real risk of making this raid Lag Central like several others.  Environmental Effects – much like the Numbing Spores in Zuggtmoy’s fight in the Temple of Elemental Evil, Part Two – don’t cause the graphical strain.

As the fight with Whisperdoom progresses, the Environmental Effects will grow.

Phase I:  100-76% HP

Environmental Effects:  Permanent Epic-level Acid Fog

During this phase, we will see the (now monumental in size) Whisperdoom face-to-face, and she will scuttle about at relatively slow speed.  She will perform general biting melee attacks – which will cause a stack of Weak Whisperdoom Poison (think the Demon Poison DOT from The Spinner of Shadows, except curable via Neutralize Poison effect;  the idea is not to murderize, but to add tension) on critical hits.  Left untreated, this will stack and rapidly kill a person – some form of poison mitigation will be mandatory for survival, and as a magically augmented poison, class and racial immunities do not apply.  In addition, she will make swipes with her legs and perform “leg bumps” similar to those dealt by the Legs of the Goddess from Caught in the Web however, as the room is completely sealed, this will just fling you about a bit and provide random chaos with no knockdown effects.  (I really, really hate knockdown effects.  –Ed.)  As with Lolth’s Immanence from Caught and her original iteration, Whisperdoom regenerates;  some players will need to keep the heat on her at all times to avoid losing progress.  It should also be noted that Whisperdoom seems to have upgraded from Melf’s Acid Arrow to Black Dragon Bolt during her reincarnation.

It is expected that the ongoing DOT effects in this phase will shred your weaker, unprepared parties, but those coming in with a stack of Neutralize Poison pots/effects and proper resists (read:  acid) will be able to power through without too much difficulty.

Phase II:  75-51% HP

Environmental Effects:  Permanent Epic-level Acid Fog continues; Epic-level Acid Rain added

In Phase II, all of the events of Phase I continue.  However, approximately once a minute, Whisperdoom will rear up on her hind legs and spill forth a wave of Whisperdoom’s Hatchlings from her abdomen to add to the chaos.  All of the hatchlings, and now Whisperdoom herself, will spew high-DC Web spells which will make life miserable for any toon which does not have Freedom of Movement or other anti-Web measures, such as Fire Shield or large fire AOE spells.  While they will add to the general chaos, things haven’t gotten sticky – yet.  Upon dropping Whisperdoom to 50% of her Hit Points, the floor will collapse and everyone will fall into the Inner Lair for the remainder of the raid.

Phase III:  50-26% HP

Environmental Effects:  Permanent Epic-level Acid Fog and Acid Rain continue, with Epic-level Cloudkill added

This is where the poop is truly intended to collide with the air circulator.  After the floor collapses, everyone will fall down (aided by Heavy Gravity to prevent Feather Fall from giving folks a few seconds’ breather) into another chamber, onto a latticework of webs which criss-cross the entire chamber.  The central area will be mostly solid, with gaps and holes becoming more prevalent the closer one gets to the walls.  Should one fall, the first player can activate a rune in the center of the bottom “floor” (an ankle-deep pool which deals acid and venom damage) to enable air jets around the edges to fling themselves back up into the fray.  The rune will only need to be activated once.  This is one of those fights where players may opt to leave Feather Fall at home, to minimize time spent ‘out of the fight’ falling down to find an air jet.  (Which will not fire at any funny angles, just straight up, none of that Spies in the House nonsense.)

Also, as the party is falling, there will be a single sound byte of the phrase “The Hatchery,” because, Easter eggs and reasons.  It should also be noted that all spiders (including Whisperdoom) act as Hasted while on the webbing layer – after all, webs are their natural habitat.

The webs themselves act as a permanent Web spell – Freedom of Movement is critical at this point to prevent repeatedly getting stuck.  Constant Constitution damage from the Environmental Epic Cloudkill will need to be monitored, as will Whisperdoom’s on-critical venom being upgraded to Strong Whisperdoom’s Poison.  In addition to her Hatchlings being spilled forth from her abdomen at fixed intervals, random adds of Whisperdoom’s Daughters will crawl into the fray from the cracks in the walls – making leaving healers, spellthrowers, and ranged tucked away a risky proposition.

If this didn’t sound too terrible thus far, Whisperdoom will unveil her new trick – a heavy, concentrated AOE blast of pure magical venom which will be lobbed using inverse aggro target selection.  This means the player with the lowest threat generated will become the target of this special blindside attack – just when you think you’re safe to spam Ten Thousand Stars, a fifty-pound glob of magical demon spider poison impacts your face and saturates you and those around you with massive damage.  Getting struck by this also acts as an Intimidating Presence effect for any of her Daughters or Hatchlings within range to further make the victim cry.  Luckily, this move will be telegraphed by Whisperdoom’s fangs glowing an unnatural, swirling green for two to four seconds before being lobbed onto the unwitting healer’s cranium.  Of course, being a spider, Whisperdoom has no need to stop flinging the melees around with her legs while charging this attack up, but at least she can’t bite or cast any spells for a few seconds.

Phase IV:  25-0% HP

Environmental Effects:  Permanent Epic-level Acid Fog, Acid Rain, and Cloudkill continue;  mass area Nerve Venom effect takes place (every 6 seconds, a random player has a 7% chance to be paralyzed for six seconds, no save).

Having survived to the Final Stretch, the players must prepare to face off with Whisperdoom’s most demonic, diabolical, and just plain evil powers.  Adding to the constant pounding of acid damage (which a high-enough Acid Resist should shield the player from most of, except for spikes) and stat damage, now her fatal lair has let loose its deadly Nerve Venom ability to paralyze players and leave them helpless while she flings them off into the acid/venom goo below.  In addition, Whisperdoom will enter her own personal Panic Mode and engage 100% Blur for the remainder of the fight – in other words, if your ranged and melees do not have True Sight, they are now functionally useless.

In addition to the Hatchlings from Whisperdoom’s abdomen and the Daughters from the cracks in the walls, additional Daughters will drop in from the ceiling in random locations with completely reset aggro to add more unpredictability to the fight.

Whisperdoom will continue the Leg Bumps which have been present through the entire fight, but will also now rise up on her hind legs (the animation identical to the “spit out Hatchlings” one, just to be misleading) and slam her four front legs down on the ground in a massive Leg Slam.  This deals bludgeoning damage as well acting as an AOE Leg Bump, flinging any toons unlucky enough to be caught in its its range around the room.

After surviving the unrelenting gauntlet that has been the battle thus far, landing the killing blow on Whisperdoom will result her (and any remaining Daughters and Hatchlings) to erupt and dissolve in columns of shimmering light, leaving nothing but ash visible behind, ends all Environmental Effects, and cuts short any remaining Weak or Strong Whisperdoom Poison DOTs.  (Nothing worse than standing around a chest, twitching and unable to open it, just waiting for an effect to wear off.. –Ed.)  


 

Aftermath & Loot

As you plunge your blade deep into Whisperdoom’s barely-beating heart, she emits a blood-curdling howl from beyond the void which sounds far too human for you to take comfort in the terrible beast’s demise.  It would seem – for the moment, at least – that your task is done.

I haven’t planned out the entire loot table for this pitch, yet.  The only item I came up with is a pretty specific one which would likely be farmed for much the same reasons that the Cursed Blade of Jack Jibbers  is farmed – for its minimum level.  (But the blade is still pretty bloody wicked at any level.)

Whisperdoom’s Heart

  •         Minimum Level:  None
  •         Item Type:  Jewelry/Trinket
  •         Slot:  Trinket
  •         Race Absolutely Required:  None
  •         Binding:  Binds to Character on Acquire
  •         Durability:  60
  •         Material:  Dried Spider Heart
  •         Hardness:  6
  •         Base Value:  12,400pp
  •         Weight:  0.8 lbs
  •         Location:  Along Came a Spider, end chest, Epic Elite only
  •         Upgradeable?  Green Augment Slot
  •         Description:  Sometimes, to make sure something stays dead, you have to cut out its heart.  And then cut it up into pieces.  And then dry it out.  Every now and then, you would swear you still felt this bit pulse…
  •         Effects:  The wearer of this trinket is immune to all poisons, natural, magical, and supernatural, and all poison effects.  This includes, but is not limited to, poison traps, poison spells, poisoned weapon damage, venomed blades, Drow paralyzing weapon poison, Nightshade venom, Demon Poison, and Pit Fiend venom. In PvP areas, it also makes the wearer immune to Nerve Venom.  This does not negate any poison effects already underway when the item is equipped.

For you science nerds, yes, spiders do have hearts.  Check it out here – the diagram is about halfway down the page.  Of course, the heart is in the top of the abdomen, not where one would imagine – but that’s neither here nor there.


 

So, hopefully you believe this to be a fitting tribute to that Arachnid of Arachnids – no, not Lolth – who probably tormented your party with multiple (spectacularly brutal) wipes when you first started playing.  The concept of the raid is to absolutely massacre parties who are not prepared, while still making those that are prepared sweat and panic a little – with a dash of cheap shots thrown in just to keep things interesting.  

A great deal of the inspiration for this raid actually came from The Lord of Blades – even to this day, that raid can make vastly over-leveled groups sweat.  When I sat down to think about it, the number one reason that kept popping up is you never get a second to breathe.  Ever.  And Bladesy is famous for his cheap shots and guerilla tactics;  since Whisperdoom was already infamous for similar methods in her own sick and twisted way, the above evolution, I feel, was only natural.

I, for one, really want to bring back that chilling feeling of OMFG IT’S WHISPERDOOM RUN YOU FOOLS!

 

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9 comments

    1. The whole idea is to spend the entire raid on the edge of your seat with an elevated heart rate, juggling six different DOTs, AND trying to kill the boss…

      Make it so that nobody EVER gets a cake walk on the quest, regardless of difficulty level or power creep.

      Liked by 1 person

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