Exploring Eberron: Welcome to a monstrous 2011

Welcome to the first Exploring Eberron of 2011! I'm pretty excited about what this year will bring to Dungeons and Dragons Online, particularly since Turbine has been hinting at something special for the game's fifth birthday next month. I'm going to be looking into that pretty enthusiastically during the rest of January, hoping to dig up some hints as to what's coming.

For now, though, Turbine is kicking off 2011 in DDO with the focus on foes -- January seems to be all about monsters. The DDO crew will be giving us information on old monsters that's both useful for those just encountering them and entertaining to those who are used to them, and the designers seem to be on the hunt for new creatures as well.

Follow along after the jump to see what it's all about!

Know Your Enemy

I was happy to see Tolero's announcement of this feature for January. Every week this month, Turbine will feature a close look at an iconic monster. This week features the Sahuagin, and some might argue against their iconic status, but they've got a special place in my heart. They're the very first monsters you encounter in DDO, and I vividly remember that being an epic battle. Cellimas was yelling her head off, Sahuagin were dropping from above, and I only had the faintest understanding of what was going on. I may have been brand-new to the game and wearing nothing but a ragged tablecloth, but I already knew that this game was something special.

The Sahuagin continued to play a heavy role in my adventures on the island, and I confess to being pretty happy to see them reappear in Update 6 back in August. It was a lot of fun to see their familiar scaly faces -- and even more fun to make them float to the surface like a dead goldfish.

Now we've got some background on these guys thanks to Turbine. While I'm certainly not ranked among the most hardcore lore fanatics, I do really enjoy background on my game worlds and their inhabitants. So who are the Sahuagin? While the Know Your Enemy segment isn't the long, in-depth lorefest that I could really sink my teeth into, I found myself enjoying the imagery and really appreciating the useful insight into the creatures.

This first edition of Know Your Enemy is well worth a read for any DDO player. New players will find the battle insights very useful, and even veteran players will like the bits of lore and background. I'm really looking forward to seeing more of this feature.

Draw a DDO Monster

In keeping with the monster theme, there's a new contest in the DDO community. Fans are invited to flex their creative skills by submitting drawings, paintings, and sketches of DDO monsters. I'm really looking forward to this contest and hope that we get to see more than just the winning submissions.

Something I've found over the years is that the general gaming community boasts an amazing number of very talented people. Combine that talent and creativity with a passion for their games of choice and you get some game artwork that simply blows you away.

The contest information suggested things like a swarm of baby spiders. Knowing the DDO community, I expect not only spider swarms and dragons, but hybrid creatures and completely original creations as well -- all done with a perspective unique to the artist. It's going to be impressive.

The official rules page includes the really important stuff: the fine print and the prizes. There will be up to six winners, and they'll receive 1,000 Turbine Points each, as well something we all love in the gaming community: notoriety of the best kind. The winning entries will be shown to the DDO community, of course, and the artists will receive a forum title of either "Sketchy Adventurer" or "Dragonmark of Making."

The rules are pretty simple and mostly surround common sense. It has to be your own work; you agree to the terms and conditions; and so on. There are specific requirements on file size, image size, and that sort of thing, so be sure to read through the rules very carefully before sending anything.

The rest of the forum thread is a good, informative read as well. As of this writing, it's only 14 responses in, but there are some great questions from fans and answers from Tolero. There's even a post containing some very well-done and funny art from a DDO player.

We're less than a week into 2011, and the Turbine team has returned from holiday vacation with some fun new information and a contest to keep us busy right away. I'm very curious to see what we hear from Turbine over the next month -- will we keep enjoying bits and pieces like this as the devs prepare for February, or will we start celebrating early with even bigger events? Either way, it already looks to be a fun ride!

Exploring Eberron is a novice's guide to the world of Dungeons and Dragons Online, found here on Massively every Friday. It's also a series of short summaries of lower-level DDO content, cleverly disguised as a diary of the adventures of OnedAwesome, Massively's DDO guild.
This article was originally published on Massively.