Turbine’s Dungeons and Dragons Online had a bonus XP event this weekend past in celebration of the fact that Turbine failed to close the game down after less than stellar subscription numbers, and where NCSoft would have flipped the kill switch on the servers a few days after release, Turbine decided to experiment with the solid game and intellectual property which they had in their possession, and now DDO is marching steadily ever forward on the MMO battlefield under the banner of the Earl of Free To Play.
See that NCSoft? That there is what you do with a solid game that hasn’t quite had the fortune to capture the hearts and minds of gamers yet. Let’s all take a small moment to mourn the fact that we don’t have a free-to-play Tabula Rasa, shall we?
So yes, it’s DDO’s birthday, and the weekends of the 26th – 28th of February and 5th – 7th of March have been dubbed an MMORPGasmic XPalooza by… um, me, and as such it was a prime time to roll a new character and get a few levels under their +2 Belt of Grinding.
And of course no such adventure would be complete if I didn’t spend money in the DDO Store. Happy Birthday DDO! Here, I bought you an adventure pack! Well ok, technically I bought me an adventure pack, but it’s the thought that counts. You got some money, I got hours of entertainment, which is very much like the time that I gave my brother some money for his birthday and then I got hours of entertainment watching him get yelled at by our parents when he blew the cat’s litter tray to smithereens with the bangers that he’d bought with said money. Thankfully the cat wasn’t in (on?) the litter tray at the time, but only because my brother got the fuse length wrong; still, if ever there is a right place for a cat to be when it is surprised by a modest incendiary device being detonated from underneath it, the litter tray is probably that place.
I happened to have Veteran Status on my account, which I purchased a while ago (Happy pre-Birthday DDO!), and so I was able to create a level four character and skip a chunk of content that I had already run several times on other alts, thus allowing me to play through some new content straight away, with the secondary aim of getting as close to level seven as possible with a mind to joining m’colleague, Van Hemlock and the Tuesday Noob Club That Now Also Gathers On A Friday Club for further hot lathered DDO action.
So levelling was my aim, possibly extreme levelling, the sort of levelling that has a capital ‘X’ in the middle of the word extreme, and has its own station on satellite TV where the men are all bronzed beefcakes who say things like ‘dude’ and ‘whoa’ through a fringe of hair so long that it’s sometimes hard to tell whether you’re looking at them from the front or the rear, made all the more difficult because they seem to wear half of their baggy shapeless clothing backwards. If you want to learn to be extreme, you have to be willing to brave the dangers of the field in which you’re trying to do so: surfers eventually have to face that bloody big breaker, snowboarders have to make that off-piste jump into nothingness, BASE jumpers have to throw themselves off of that building, and MMO players have to visit the game’s forums. I wasn’t ready to be quite that eXtreme, though, so I made good use of the Google safety wheels and just searched around until I found a link to a thread on the DDO forums where someone posted a brief unapologetic list of the adventures that they found to be best for XP; having run the first few adventures in the list already, and having known them to be good sources of XP, I found the next item on the list was Tangleroot Gorge, an adventure area that I hadn’t played before. Good XP and new content? Sign me up!
Right after I pay you some money. Happy Birthday DDO!
So yes, I had to buy Tangleroot Gorge, which is probably why I hadn’t played it before, but I was deep into the spirit of celebration. And I’d just been paid for the month; my credit card was once again a shiny golden passport to possibility, rather than a singularity of infinite financial density within my wallet that threatens to suck me and my whole life into its black oblivion. A matter not helped by the fact that I keep spending indiscriminate amounts of money on impulse purchases, I might add.
So with my impulse purchase adventure pack unwrapped and installed into the game, I was ready to begin my levelling run. Right after I purchased a potion that I noticed in the store which gave an additional hefty boost to XP gain and which, a brief search revealed, stacked with the existing XP boost that Turbine were giving players over the weekend.
My credit card started to pulse and thrum a little at that point, and it was fairly easy to see that time and space were beginning to be warped by the debt horizon that was building, so I popped it into my wallet, encased the wallet in lead and concrete, threw it into the nearby river, and got on with actually playing the game. My twice XP boosted game. I could feel my fringe growing rapidly, but there was going to be much work needed on the beefcake look; so, while I waited for the game to load, I put my trousers on backwards and pulled a beanie hat on to my head instead.
Next time: Tangleroot Gorge, and the joys of motile armoured organisms that can heal.