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Exploring Eberron: Getting the most from dungeons

Rubi Bayer, @@rubi_

Wednesday's night out with OnedAwesome was...well, awesome, per the usual. Massively's Dungeons and Dragons Online guild ran through five quests taken from the Leaky Dinghy and Stormreach Harbor. We patted Durk on the head and told him that his secret was super special and he was too, busted some evil gambling tables of evilness, fetched an item for House Phiarlan that we are almost certain it was okay for them to have, and walked the Butcher's Path.

Things are settling down a bit in OnedAwesome, but certainly not through a lack of activity. The guild is quickly evolving from a random group of people scrambling to figure out what is happening and who is grouping with whom. It's becoming an organized guild where everyone has a bit of a feel about where they fit, and people sorted into groups very quickly Wednesday and were off having fun in record time.

I'm very excited to see everyone next Wednesday -- I won't tell you quite yet what our plans are, but I have a bit of a surprise that I hope everyone will love. We'll meet Wednesday evening at 9:00 PM EST, but I'll be around from 8:30 on to field any questions, requests, and guild invitations. So feel free to /tell Rubialina a bit early if you need anything.

In the meantime, follow along after the jump for some tips and tricks. This is another one devoted to our newer players, and hopefully this will get you navigating dungeons like a pro in no time.

XP Report

The XP report is accessed by pressing "x" and serves as your "scorecard", keeping a running tally of your base and bonus XP as you progress. Bonus XP on the report is given as a percentage of your base XP, running anywhere from 8% to 25% depending on what you accomplish. A good policy is "kill and smash everything," because the more you do, the higher the XP bonus. The only time this is an exception is during a few quests here and there where you are specifically asked by the NPC to take care to not destroy or kill. In those cases, the quest instructions will be very clear as to what you need to do, so you don't have to worry about mistakenly failing the quest because you didn't know.

"Be prepared to defend yourself if you happen to be in a crypt, but for the most part just be prepared to pick up lots of goodies."

Smashing breakables have another bonus: loot! Breakables such as barrels, vases, crates, and sarcophagi all have a chance to drop loot -- mostly cash or potions -- as well as the occasional angry skeleton. Be prepared to defend yourself if you happen to be in a crypt, but for the most part just be prepared to pick up lots of goodies. Enemies can also drop loot in the form of small purple treasure bags, which are different from breakables in a very significant way: there is one for everybody in your group. If you're in a group of six people and pick up the bag, the other five people in your party will still see it and everyone gets their very own. The bags almost exclusively contain collectibles, so if you've set your collectibles bag to auto-gather like we talked about last week, the item won't take up any extra inventory space. Feel free to pick up as many as you can find!

Your XP report also shows bonuses if you do the entire thing with no re-entries and no deaths. They're pretty self-explanatory, but I'll hit a few high points of how to make sure you acquire your bonuses. If everyone in the group has run a particular dungeon 5-6 times before, feel free to zerg to your heart's content. In those cases, everyone knows "Okay, take a right, then a left, then stop because there's a trap at that crossroads and we have to go around." In other cases, it's okay to take your time and pay attention. If you come to a big empty room with a shiny, tempting chest at the far end, guess what? It's a very very bad idea to go charging in because it's not going to end well for you. Send in the rogue to scout it out first, or at the very least proceed slowly to see what happens. Traps in particular can mean instant death if they catch you unaware, and if your entire group dashes in and gets wiped out by a trap, you'll be forced to re-enter from a tavern, thereby losing both your persistence and flawless victory bonuses. Better to take your time if you don't know for sure that an area is safe. Sending someone in to disable traps will also help out that tamper bonus on your XP record.

While we're on the subject of taking your time: explore! Unless you're in a timed dungeon, it is going to be well worth it to hit the M key and look at your map to see where you have not been yet. Visit those places. Often you will find additional (optional) objectives that will net you extra XP. You also stand a high chance of finding secret doors that will increase the XP on your scorecard, rare encounters that come with chests full of loot, and more monsters that will increase your XP and give loot. One more quick loot tip while I'm at it: if you see something on the ground, be it a plant, furniture, or just a pile of rubble, don't overlook it. If it's sparkly (I refuse to make a vampire joke, sorry), go over there, pick it up. More loot!

In the end, it's all about paying attention, not being afraid to explore, and taking your time. Dungeons and Dragons Online is a beautiful game, and most of their dungeons were created with exploration in mind. Visit all the little nooks and side tunnels, explore the contents of rooms, and scout for secret doors. The game is designed to reward you for exploration, so go get your rewards -- I'll see you all Wednesday!

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