One need only take a few minutes on my character login screen to realize that I may, possibly, exhibit a preference toward dwarves when it comes to my character racial selections in DDO.
Glancing through the files of old pen & paper characters – some from First Edition, when “dwarf” was a class – some Third Edition, and a ghastly number of Second Edition would reveal a scattered humanoid here and there, but well over 95% dwarves, as well. One might even count the Firbolg character (2nd Edition Complete Book of Humanoids) as nothing more than an overly tall dwarf. They sure play like one.
I confess that I have never once played an elf in pen & paper, and only did one life as such in DDO thus far. Unless you’re counting Morninglords. Then it’s two.
What I’m slowly getting at is that I might meet a few of the general criteria for being classified as “pro-dwarf.” Maybe.
Which, when I first heard about Update 36’s Duel for the Underdark pack involving a lot of drow, meant I was largely indifferent from an excitement standpoint. Don’t get me wrong – New Content! YAY! Although the power creep on the last few packs has been somewhat unsettling, but that’s neither here-nor-there, it’s still new content. And that’s what’s important. But the fact it’s drow-based? That part I can’t see myself getting terribly excited over.
Except – it wasn’t drow-based. I mean, sure, there are drow involved, but that’s not what the focus is on. The focus is on the dwarves. Especially so in Records of the Past, a quest which has one strolling through the abandoned settlement of Ironvale Deep, where everything positively screams stumpy. The architecture, layout, the little details – such as every shrine having a statue of Moradin, the dwarven All-Father deity – is nothing short of a four-foot dwarfgasm.
That’s not to say there isn’t a shred of beard-iness in the other quests, oh-no-sir. Each of the others has a distinctly stout element to it – be it rescuing slaves without killing them or dealing with a madman and his defiled legion of mining corpses, there’s a touch of it on every single quest. And it’s delightful.
There is, however, a problem. One minor issue.
No matter what you set your game audio to, Hal Stoutheart never shuts up. Spend more than a few seconds in the public area and you’ll hear him bellowing through your speakers (or into your earholes, if you use headphones) in an incessant stream of what is clearly propaganda. It’s an interesting and immersive touch for the first ten or fifteen seconds.
After that, you’ll start hearing your partymates saying things like “oh, no, he’s talking again, get in quest now! Move! Move! Move!” and “aaaaaaaaaahhhh” and ”why does the Maker hate me so?“
Please, if anyone from Standing Stone is reading this, for the love of Moradin, make Hal’s voice obey the volume sliders. Please. We’re begging you. Everything else about the pack is lovely, truly, but that one thing that sends folks screaming from the public area.
And without giving away too many spoilers, there’s quite a bit of wonderful dialogue and interactions. I’m pretty sure my favorite moment was not dwarf-related, at all, but rather offering to hold a mind flayer’s tentacles out of the way while it vomited on my boots. Pure gold, that.
Oh, and Oreo the Panda says hi.