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D&DO Module 7: The Gygax shrine and Three Barrel Cove

Mike Schramm

We stood in front of a peaceful shrine, adorned with a book and an inlaid gem. This little shrine in the lower level area of Delera's Tomb is a monument one of D&D's greatest champions, co-creator Gary Gygax -- it stands in the middle of the area where the man himself narrated some of the ingame DM text. Paiz also told us that there would be event quests and items associated with Gygax in the game, and though we didn't get to see any of those, it seemed like a fitting tribute to one of the men who came up with the foundation of all these games we play.

Then, we were whisked away (via admin commands in the client) to another updated low level area, Three Barrel Cove. This area was one of the first created for the game a long time ago (all of the Turbine employees present at the play session admitted that it "preceded" all of them), and since so many players will be leveling up again with the Monk class, the devs decided to revamp the approximately level 5 area, and make it bigger, clearer, and completely redistribute the monsters within. This is only one of a number of changes made to the entire game to accomodate the new class -- Paiz said that they did a "full equipment pass" on all the items to make sure that Monks were itemized throughout the levels.

The first area within Three Barrel that we got to see was The Black Loch, a huge pirate ship in a cave that serves as the tavern and hub for the area. Everything was very pirate-themed (though the pirate vs. ninja battle, we were told, would have to wait for another game update), and the devs said they had a lot of fun playing with the pirate asthetic, and turning all of the different races and groups in the game into pirate versions of themselves.

This showed in our first quest, too -- in order to prove our worth as pirates, the party was asked to make it through Rackham's Trial, a test that a pirate captain gave to recruits. There were traps aplenty inside the quest, and as we carefully (and sometimes not so -- we sprung quite a few traps just by walking into them accidentally), the devs talked about how they try to both mix up the gameplay with different types of puzzles, but also give players who aren't as interested in mind games and tricks ways to avoid them if preferred.

One example given was an "agility test" -- there were a series of ladders heading up a vertical tunnel, and as players, we had to jump from ladder to ladder (sometimes even from one side of the tunnel to the other) to make our way up top. After a few tries, we weren't getting too far, so the devs pointed out that there was another entrance in the instance that led past the trap, so only one player had to beat the test and then let everyone else through.

But on the other hand, the devs said, they didn't want to make the puzzles too easy. They also showed us an extremely elaborate puzzle that could have been designed by Rube Goldberg, consisting of a number of different floor designs, levers, dart machines, and rotating directors. With the short time we had to try the trap, we didn't even get through the first phase of it, but as tough as it was, that didn't even compare to the second trap we saw:

In a quest to save a fellow pirate, we made our way through a dungeon, and eventually ended up in a room where the man we were looking for stood in a cage in the middle. As we entered, he beckoned us not to move, but at the devs' hinting, we took a look up around the walls of the room -- every single square inch of the large pedestals of the room was covered in a kind of rotate-able jigsaw puzzle (this one will be familiar to D&D Online players, as you play a much, much simpler version of it early on in the game). The idea was to rotate the pieces to line up and make light paths, but in this gigantic version of that puzzle (the dev who made it, we were told, "is probably certifiably crazy"), there's one twist: every wrong move gets our friend in the cage shocked, and too many shocks means a dead friend and a failed quest. Players who like puzzles will find no shortage of things to do in Module 7.

Our final stop in Three Barrel Cove was in the outer area, to get a look at one of the two new monster types in Module 7, the Sahaguin, a race of fishmen armed with spears living on the coast near the pirate ships. Their design and animations were suitably impressive (their spears did a fun flip before planting themselves in the sand when the creatures died), and we were told that this is only the beginning of the story for these creatures.

After a look at the updated lower level area, we then headed to a wreckage that will also be very familiar to D&D Online players, and that serves as the mouth of the new higher level quests dungeons in Module 7.

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