Part 39: Dave's ChallengeUpdate 16: Dave's Challenge
You might have thought we were done, but Death Knights of Krynn actually has a secret hidden dungeon meant to challenge the player after they've finished the main campaign. Whether it actually does is up to interpretation.
The trick to finding it is that these mountains near the northwest corner of the map are not impassible, unlike all the other mountains in the game. You can actually just walk right through here, although I don't know why anyone would try to walk up here.
The actually challenge is hidden in a completely unremarkable square at the northwestern-most corner of the map,
" you were killed by a priest?"
"Stupid 'slay living' spell, yes. I'm as ashamed as you are."
"You'd think a temple like this would be famous, but it's so far out in the middle of nowhere that they obviously never got anything done."
"So just grab the necklace? That's it? We can handle that."
The main gimmick of this dungeon is the trapped secret door, which is why you absolutely need a thief to get through here. Hell, even the entrance traps itself behind you. You want to search and disarm every single door you find.
"Something tells me it can't be this easy."
"Good. That means you're learning."
See this? Flip it backwards and you've got the other side of the encounter. You'll probably eat a couple of fireballs in the course of that, but it's really not all that bad. The bad comes later.
"Spectral energy doesn't usually mean spectres. At least all of these guards suggest that this is the real necklace."
"You'd think that, wouldn't you?"
This is both a terrifying vision of multiple levels disappearing as well as a perfect target for a fireball. A single fireball targeted where the cursor is will probably destroy all but two of the spectres while leaving our characters untouched.
"Today's lesson is that priests of Takhisis are a bag of cocks."
I really wasn't kidding about the whole "secret trapped door" thing. There are actually two of them in the anteroom, but the layout is essentially identical and the various encounters occur in a sequence when you enter the side rooms.
"Maybe if we just grab it and don't bother them ?"
"It'd have been faster just to attack them."
That's a lot of Iron Golems to clear out. Thankfully, since it's just a bunch of bruisers this is painful but not complex.
"Did these guys do anything but sit around and make fake magical necklaces?"
"That would explain why they haven't menaced the rest of the countryside in the past few centuries."
"Looks like this one's all you, Gable."
"Hmm no fake necklace. Maybe they hadn't gotten to this room yet?"
"Why don't we just skip the middle man and set off the thing intentionally?"
"Hey, do I tell you how to cleric things? I've got this."
"You were saying?"
That is a lot of vampires. And this group includes vampire mages, to go with the vampire clerics we saw earlier in Soth's castle. They're real pains in the neck since they can either cast spells or, if they've been damaged already in the round, just hit you and drain some levels.
This doorway is a bit of a weird difference between the two hallways, but it's once again event triggered. Whatever side you go to first will have a large encounter on the other side. Going back the way you came and going down another fork will result in a much smaller encounter there. It's not fixes as to which room, it's just a matter of which direction you go first.
There are also three fixed encounters like this down each corridor.
This is only about half of the encounter, but as you can see it's a pretty hefty one. These are still fairly simple enemies, but there are enough of them to make life interesting.
They're also worth a lot of experience, which leads some people to use this as a grinding area. At our character's current levels, however, it would take something like 13-14 fights like this to gain a level.
"I can't imagine what happened when one of the people in this temple wanted to get up for a midnight snack."
"Probably a lot of casualties."
"Seems to be making Gable happy, though. It's what he's always dreamed of."
"Aaand pop goes the weasel! Huh. Disappointing."
Random treasure is well, random. It's always a bit disappointing when it's something you're not going to use.
"I think this is where that knight died somebody's going to have to go down there."
"Somebody strong enough to lift anything in the pit up so that we can grab it."
"Somebody who can respectfully take something off a knight's corpse."
"I'm going, I'm going. Geeze."
"A banshee, I believe you might want to hurry."
"Trust me, you don't have to tell me twice."
This is a standard "save or die" situation, and you can keep rolling the dice to get more loot for as long as you want. The important thing is the necklace, which shows up on the first try.
After climbing out...
"Well, that's awfully convenient."
"As long as we can conveniently get out of here, I don't care."
Advancing into this room without the necklace results in severe damage and will pretty much kill your party. This dungeon is old school.
Naturally, there's a final confrontation.
We're surrounded on all sides in this one, starting with this fairly mild duo...
And continuing with sets of spectral dragons and vampires. There's actually another spectral dragon that popped in behind us as well. Basically, you're going to eat 2-3 fireballs in the face and then get swarmed by physical attackers. The vampires will charm your characters, and the death knights can and will inflict fear and send your characters running for the hills. Spectral dragons are in the heavy level draining group, draining 2 levels per hit and getting a lot of hits per round. The good news is that they're vulnerable to the dragonlance, while the bad news is that even with boots of speed and no encumbrance Boo can only reach two of the dragons. I had to try this encounter about a half dozen times before I ended up having anybody survive, and a couple more times to get most of the party through. One complexity is that if your characters panic and run, then the survivors get to face the same encounter again.
"Well, let's hope that brave Sir Vansward can rest in peace after all of that."
"If he can't, he's going to get very bored down there now. He might think that's a good thing."
"I think we could all use a rest now."