The Cult of the Dead is a pseudo-religious group consisting of human cultists who revere grossly mutated humanoids called Pale Ones. The Pale Ones are Fallen Earth's post-apocalyptic version of vampires. But don't expect a sexy Edward Cullen or charismatic Dracula. Large creatures with sallow skin, long fangs and claws, and snake-like eyes, Pale Ones are closer to the Nosferatu of F.W. Murnau's iconic 1922 film.
Although players can encounter the Cult of the Dead in a few other locations earlier in the game, Sunset Cemetery provides the first large encounter area for the villains. The area was planned to be located outside of Devon Township, a large town in the western part of the sector. When we began writing missions, however, we discovered the area was so far from town that requiring players to return to Devon Township would be frustrating. This turned out to be a happy accident, as sometimes happens when designing a game, because we pulled the related missions out of Devon Township and created Sunset Hill, a small enclave of NPCs nearer to the level. Now the missions of Sunset Hill are directed to Sunset Cemetery, creating a clear, focused experience.
As with Old Kingman Prison, the early missions which fill out the plotline are completed outside the instance. Players fight cultists and Pale Ones on the cemetery grounds. Our scripters created a special creature feature that included a day/night cycle, so the Pale Ones only spawn above ground at night. We didn't want to ruin the vampire mystique by having the Pale Ones hanging around in broad daylight.
Since we were creating a more classic horror encounter within our post-apocalyptic world, we designed the instance to feel a bit like a classic dungeon. Players enter the instance through a mausoleum in the cemetery. Descending a spiral stone staircase, they see a large entrance leading to a grand hall with a locked wrought iron door. Here players fight the first group of human cultists and can see, but not access, additional cultists in the locked room.
Going to the right, players enter a side room where they encounter the first Pale One with his human minions. All Pale Ones are designed using a boss build, so they are markedly tougher than the cultists with them. After defeating them, players use a trigger located on one of the skull-adorned tombs to unlock the nearby door leading to a long hall.
Following the hall around, players pass two locked doors, one leading to the lower level and the far door leading into the grand hall. Looking into the grand hall, players may now be able to see a group of Pale Ones that were not visible from the earlier vantage point. In the next accessible room, players must defeat a group of Pale Ones to reach the trigger that opens the gate to the grand hall. After killing the enemies in the grand hall, players activate the final trigger, opening the door to the lower level of the mausoleum.
The art in the lower level takes on a slightly different feel. Where the upper level is orderly masonry and decorated stonework, the lower level looks more like a medieval dungeon, complete with an inner sanctum where Mother Larissa, the local leader of the Pale Ones, resides. Of course, she's decorated her lair according to her particular tastes, complete with hanging corpses and heads on spikes.
Sunset Cemetery doesn't have the complex and lengthy plot points of Old Kingman Prison or the Hoffa Bunker, but what it does have is a streamlined play experience with a creepy group of villains and art unlike much of the rest of the game. It's perfect for small-group play and offers an encapsulated story enjoyable for both post-apoc and vampire fans alike.