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Schooling Scholomance - MongoJerry - 10-16-2004 03:02 AM

THE ADVENTURES OF NERIAD: Schooling Scholomance, part I

On Tuesday night, I was putzing around with Neriad doing some of the new quests in the Western Plaguelands, and I got the usual spams that priests get, asking if I'd like to join various instance groups. (Rogues, hunters, and pre-talent warlocks never seem to sympathize when I describe this burden of being a priest). I turned down most such invitations. Did I want to run BRD? Aw, come on, I farmed that place into the ground a couple patches ago. Did I want to run Stratholme? Maybe after I see some more of the newer content, but definitely not in the 10-15 person raid groups that most people want to run the place in. Did I want to run BRS? Not a chance. It's boring, I've done all the quests, and there aren't any drops in the entire instance that would interest a priest. (One person spent 10 minutes trying to convince me that BRS had good drops for priests by linking all the cloth drops he and his friends had found there. Every one of them were equaled or beat by BRD drops or by green items I had found elsewhere).

Ah, an invitation for a Scholomance group. Now that sounds interesting. I had run Scholomance in an 8-person party on the first evening of the patch, and it seemed like a fun instance. I had picked up a few Scholomance quests by this point, and I was itching to see what those quests were like and to see what kind of followup quests they had. Plus, the way our 8-person group had cut through Scholomance like a hot knife through butter, it looked like Scholomance was well balanced for a five-character party. Three times, however, I received invitations to Scholomance and had conversations like this one:

JoeSchmo: Want to run Scholomance?

Neriad: Maybe, how many people are going to be in the group?

JoeSchmo: We have 9 now, you'd be the 10th.

Neriad: Ah, no, sorry. I just want to do a 5-man run.

JoeSchmo: I just talked to our group, and they think you're nuts. No way can you run Scholomance with five people.

Neriad: I ran Scholomance in an 8-person party on the first night, and it was so easy that it looks like Scholomance could be done with a 5-person party.

JoeSchmo: We still think you're nuts.

Neriad: Possibly, but I don't like doing raiding parties if I don't have to. They're not as intense and you don't get as much loot from them anyway.

JoeSchmo: Just quest items. You still get boss loot.

Neriad: I want to do the quests. Besides, in raids, you have to split up loot you find more ways and end you end up with less.

JoeSchmo: Quests are lame. Boss loot rewls.

Neriad: This is a beta. I like items as much as anyone else, but there's no sense obsessing about items that are going to be deleted in the not too distant future when the game is released. Besides, how can we find out if the quests are "lame" if we don't do them in the first place? Some quests now lead to epic rewards, you know.

JoeSchmo: Nah, I just want boss lewt, and you can go faster in a big party.

Neriad: If you count all the time it takes to organize the party and all the extra downtime as people squabble over loot, go afk, buff extra people, etc., big groups only go a little bit faster than smaller groups. And then you have to divide what decent items do drop among a bigger group of people. Plus, each person gets a smaller share of "junk" vendor items to sell. When I come back from a 10-15 person raid on Stratholme or BRS, I usually find that after a several hour run I end up with no items and hardly any cash. They're just not worth it.

JoeSchmo: So, are you coming?

Neriad: No.

JoeSchmo: @$%$%^#*@R#%!

I sighed and kept on doing some quest stuff in Anderhol. (Most of the mobs in Anderhol have been changed to non-elites, by the way). Then, I got a message from Kronos, a level 60 warlock with whom I had done a lot of instance runs in the past.

Kronos: Want to join a Scholomance group?

Neriad: How many people in the group?

Kronos: We have eight now, you'd be the ninth.

I stopped and thought for a few moments. I had adventured with Kronos many times and have found him to be a great instance group member. He was only one of three regularly played PvP server level-capped alliance warlocks before warlocks got their talents. I respect a guy who's willing to buck the trend by sticking with a "gimped" character to a high level and is willing to experiment to find ways of getting the most out of his underpowered character. Now that warlocks have talents and are no longer so gimped, Kronos is even better for his experiences. He's also shown a willingness to take on challenges. He was in a 5-man Stratholme group with me that made it pretty far into the instance before wiping. I figured it might be worth it to join his group and then convince he and others in the raid to join a 5-person run later.

Neriad: Sure, I'll join. I'd like to do a 5-person group at some point, though. I did Scholomance with an 8-person party on the first day and it was really easy. I think a 5-person group is doable.

Kronos: Yeah, I agree. It's been hard finding people who want to run Scholomance with only five people. (pause) Hey, a paladin friend of mine wants to come. If we can get a warrior and a mage, want do a 5-person party now?

Neriad: Yeah!

Kronos: Got a mage!

Neriad: Got a warrior!


The five of us got together and started running Scholomance. I'm not going to lie to you. We ran into many problems and wiped several times. The instance was still very new to the party members. Two people had never been inside Scholomance at all and the rest of the party had only been there a couple times each. However, each wipe or near wipe taught us something new about the instance, and each time we came up with new tactics to get past difficult challenges. This dynamic is another reason why I prefer smaller groups to larger ones. People who adventure in small groups seem more willing to take responsibility for their actions and are more willing to accept that they can improve their play. It's a lot harder for people to hide from their mistakes, and therefore there's a better chance that people will change their play and become better players. People who play in raids a lot, or as I diplomatically call them "raid lamers," rarely accept personal responsibility for a group wipe. The typical response of a raid lamer to a wipe is that the instance is badly designed, that there's "no way" it can be done with a small group, and that even more raid lamers need to be summoned in.

The final wipe of our first five-person group came in the "room from hell" that houses Jandice Barov. It's a room that requires a lot of skill to pull correctly, as you'll see later. The thing that pissed us off the most about this wipe was that we did everything right. Kupeludo, our warrior, did an excellent job of pulling, while the rest of the group waited patiently in the back corner to safely kill everything Kupe pulled to us. So, how did we wipe? Respawns, of course. That room, and indeed the whole first section of Scholomance has an incredibly fast respawn timer. I am one of those weird people who actually like the idea of respawns in instances as a "death penalty" on groups who wipe too much. But the respawn timers in the first section of Scholomance are too short even for my taste. I submitted a /suggest that Blizzard increase the respawn times by about 15 minutes. That would allow there to be a death penalty while not punishing groups who are careful as they move through the instance.

This wipe was the final straw. It probably didn't help that we realized afterward that we shouldn't have been down in that room in the first place. Jandice Barov is a quest related boss and therefore doesn't drop anything of value as a random drop, and none of us in the group were at the point in our quest series where we needed to kill her. Our paladin had to leave, and the rest of us needed a break. However, after talking things over, the remaining four decided that after a 15 minute break, we would be ready to start again. I decided that at this point, we had a special group and that we had learned enough along the way to be of interest to others who were adventuring in Scholomance. I decided that this time I would take screenshots and would write up the adventures.

Stay tuned.

Coming up: Schooling Scholomance with a 5-player party.

Schooling Scholomance - MongoJerry - 10-16-2004 05:15 AM

[Image: start.jpg]

ADVENTURES OF NERIAD: Schooling Scholomance, part II

After our first abortive attempt at clearing Scholomance with a 5-player party, we reassembled after a break. While many players might get discouraged by the failure of the first run, it was refreshing to see that confidence was quite high for our next run. Each time that we had wiped or had nearly wiped in the first run, we had found ways to handle the problem and continue forward. It was becoming clear that the instance was definitely doable with a 5-player party. All we needed was practice.

We found a replacement for our paladin, so our group ended up looking like this:

Kupeludo: lvl 60 Warrior
Kronos: lvl 60 Warlock
Lilisi: lvl 60 Paladin
Neth: lvl 60 Mage
Neriad: lvl 60 Priestess

It would be difficult to find a better combination of character classes for this instance.

[Image: reliquary.jpg]

Scholomance starts adventurers off on a wooden entryway with a railing that overlooks some of the later parts of the instance. It has four guards that can be pulled in pairs. Shackle one of the pair, kill the other, kill the shackled one, pull the other pair, shackle one mob, kill the other, kill the shackled one. No problems.

At this point, one is supposed to open the iron gate in front of you and continue. However, I'd like to point out again how this entrance area overlooks some of the later parts of the instance. If you jump down, you'll die almost instantly from the mobs that surround you. However, this ability to jump down is a nice little piece of instance design on Blizzard's part. If the party has already opened the door to the Viewing Room and then wipes at some later stage of the instance, the party can come back to the instance, jump down, run into the viewing room, and get back on its feet. (More details on this technique will be described later). If you're wondering what some of this stuff I've said means, don't worry. You'll see. The bottom line is that the entrance hallway seems to be designed to allow a party that wipes deep inside of Scholomance to recover without having to clear out all of the massive number of respawns in the first portion of Scholomance.

Also, the design of the entrance hallway seems to allow for some tricks to "skip content" and get to the rich miniboss area of the Viewing Room quickly, making Scholomance the most farmable high-level instance for a 5-player party. But for now, let's pretend that we don't know this information and proceed the way the instance was designed.

[Image: reliquary2.jpg]

Through the iron gate is the first real room of the instance, The Reliquary. It has various bookshelves and tables, and the mobs are a mix of skeleton guards and humanoid spellcasters. I and others in my party consider this room to be the second most difficult room of the entire instance. (Second only to the room with Jandice Barov). It has two things that make it difficult. First, the spellcasters like to fear players into other mob groups. Second, the respawn timer is wickedly fast. The first problem can be handled fairly simply. Have the puller pull mobs back into the entrance hallway. That way, when people are feared, they won't run into other mob groups and wake them up.

The second problem, the respawn timer, is the more difficult one to deal with. The Respawn Monster is an ever present insidious mob that can mess groups up long before respawns actually start appearing. Knowing that the Respawn Monster exists causes so many groups to do stupid things like not waiting for roaming mobs to get out of the way to make pulls safer, not taking out patrols when they could have killed them easily, or trying stupid stuff like Mind Soothing or stealthing past stuff. Or non-pullers get anxious, move out of the entrance hallway into the Reliquary, and end up getting feared into extra mobs, wiping the whole party.

[Image: reliquary3.jpg]

The nice thing about the Reliquary, however, is that typically you don't have to deal with most of it. The door to get out of the room is right next to the entrance stairway, so one only has to pull 3-4 mob groups to move out of the room. Unfortunately, there is one not-so-minor item way in the back of the Reliquary: The Deed the Southshore, a quest item. One Scholomance quest is to get four deeds that are scattered throughout the instance, and this quest leads to a very fun followup quest that has a fun quest reward item (more on this later). If you still have to do that quest, you don't want to skip getting that deed.

So how does one handle this room? My advice: very carefully. Don't let the Respawn Monster psych you out. Remember this: If you do not wipe, you have enough time to carefully pull and kill enough mob groups to the entrance hallway to allow people to get the Deed to Southshore. The problem isn't necessarily the Respawn Monster itself. The problem is that people get psyched out so much by the Respawn Monster that they end up doing stupid stuff.

However, there is a catch. If your group has just one full wipe or two partial wipes along the way, it's game over. Do not attempt to beat the Respawn Monster, because you will lose. After one wipe occurs, so many additional wipes get added on top of the first one because people try to "beat the respawns" and end up doing stupid stuff. My advice: accept the loss and reset the instance. You're right at the start of the instance. It'll cost you at most 10 minutes to recover. If you wipe once, it's better to just reset and start over carefully than experience another two or three more wipes as you battle the Respawn Monster.

Good luck on obtaining your Deed to Southshore. It's the most difficult of the deeds to get.

Schooling Scholomance - lemekim - 10-16-2004 07:03 AM

Quote:On Tuesday night, I was putzing around with Neriad doing some of the new quests in the Western Plaguelands, and I got the usual spams that priests get, asking if I'd like to join various instance groups. (Rogues, hunters, and pre-talent warlocks never seem to sympathize when I describe this burden of being a priest).

Ah yes the ever present burden of being a priest. No wonder you made a hunter! You will never have same issues with him! ^_^

Schooling Scholomance - MongoJerry - 10-16-2004 08:08 AM

lemekim,Oct 16 2004, 12:03 AM Wrote:Ah yes the ever present burden of being a priest. No wonder you made a hunter! You will never have same issues with him! ^_^

Hunters will be getting talents next patch. Woohoo!

Schooling Scholomance - MongoJerry - 10-16-2004 08:35 AM

[Image: summoning.jpg]

ADVENTURES OF NERIAD: Schooling Scholomance, part III

After the Reliquary comes the Chamber of Summoning. I have been told outright that it the obvious place that demonstrates that Scholomance cannot be done with a 5-person party. Indeed, I would have to agree that if one has no clue about some of the specialty skills of some classes that this room would probably rank as the third most difficult room of the instance. If one does remember some of those specialty skills, however, then this room becomes a joke.

The first feature one sees in this room are the many roaming undead patrols made up of either skeleton warriors or "necrofiend" spiders. A poorly timed patrol add can cause problems, but the patrollers do wander around singly and can generally be pulled alone. In addition, if a solo patrol does add during a fight, the group's priest can shackle it and the group can keep right on doing what it's doing. So for the most part, the patrols aren't a major issue. The patrols in the Chamber of Summoning seem to have a fast respawn timer, though, so the group's priest should keep an extra eye out for the occasional patrol add.

[Image: summoning2.jpg]

The primary challenge in this room are six camps of mobs -- each of which consists of one Scholomance Dark Summoner and two Scholomance Necromancers. The Necromancers are merely distractions who cast shadowbolts. If the group's priest buffs everyone with shadow resistance, they can largely be ignored. The Dark Summoners, however, are nasty nasty nasty. Upon being aggroed, Dark Summoners will stand where they are and proceed to summon skeletons one after another in quick succession. This leads some groups to use some bad tactics:

Bad tactic #1: Charge the Summoner. Instead of pulling the summoner, the group charges forward to kill it. This means the fight is taking place right at the little camp which is near the other little camps. One mob runner or one player taking a bad angle to the camp can wake up other camps, and multiple patrols will add during the fight. This is a recipe for almost certain wipeage.

Bad tactic #2: Use only ranged attacks against the Summoner. Unfortunately, even spellcasters have limits on their dps and the Summoner will have plenty of time to summon lots and lots of skeletons before dying. What's more, one can't take advantage of the many stunning skills that melee classes have, so there's nothing to slow down the Summoner's rate of spawning. (Note: Curse of Tongues may help). This tactic could only work if one were in a large 10+ player raid with a battery of high dps ranged attackers. I suspect that this is why people think that one must have a raid party to get through this room.

So how should one deal with the Summoners?

Good tactic #1: Counterspell. After the tank aggros the camp, a mage should wait for the Summoner to go into its summoning animation (which looks like a warlock's summoning animation) and then cast Counterspell on it. Since the Summoner won't be able to summon for several seconds, it will charge the group and try to melee. The party can then safely focus all of its power on the Summoner, and use various stunning skills to make sure the Summoner can't summon any skeletons while it's being killed.

Good tactic #2: Use Shield Bash. If the party doesn't have a mage (such groups do exist), then the group's warrior tank can walk up to the mob camp, wait for the Dark Summoner to go into its summoning animation, Shield Bash it, and then walk back to the party. Again, the Dark Summoner will not be able to summon for several seconds and will follow the warrior in an attempt to melee him or her. The party can then take out the Summoner as before.

Good tactic #3: Miscellaneous. If the party strangely does not have a mage or warrior in it, then one can use a myriad of other special skills instead. A priest could Mind Control the Summoner, walk it over to the group, and then release it to be killed. Or, a rogue could sap the Dark Summoner. Then, the party could take out the necromancers and any nearby patrols and then kill the Dark Summoner last.

Follow one of the three "good tactics" described above and you'll find that one of the hardest rooms in the instance becomes very simple.

[Image: saferoom.jpg]

Beyond the Chamber of Summoning is the room with no official name but is the one that Kupeludo has dubbed "The Safe Room," because it has a long respawn timer and because the pulls are relatively simple. The first couple of mob groups can be pulled into and battled in the Chamber of Summoning, and after that, the party can move into The Safe Room and deal with mobs there.

[Image: saferoom2.jpg]

The only tricky part to the Safe Room are the ghostly Spectral Tutors who occasionally break up into multiple pieces for several seconds at a time. It's best to shackle the Tutors from the start and kill the other mobs first. You don't want to be dealing with multiple Spectral Tutor pieces while battling the other mobs.

The deed to Tarren Mill lies on a table in the Safe Room.

[Image: saferoom3.jpg]

Tarren Mill: pwned

There's a good reason why the Safe Room has a low respawn rate, and it indicates good instance design on the part of Blizzard. The Safe Room acts as a central hub to other portions of the instance. To the right is the "room from hell" that houses Jandice Barov. Ahead is the Great Ossuary through which one must go to get to the boss that holds the key to the Viewing Room. To the left is the room that has the locked door to the Viewing Room (and incidentally is also the room one can jump down into from the entrance hallway). So groups will be coming back through the Safe Room at least a couple of times during a run. It would be extremely annoying to have to fight respawns in this room every time you had to enter it.

Our party bypassed the "room from hell" on this trip, since none of us needed that quest at the time. We got to experience that room on the next run, however. For now, we're going to head into the Great Ossuary next to get to the boss who holds the key to the Viewing Room. Before you rogues ask, no, I'm afraid you can't pick the lock on the Viewing Room door. Nice try.

Schooling Scholomance - MongoJerry - 10-16-2004 10:19 AM

[Image: ossuary2.jpg]

ADVENTURES OF NERIAD: Schooling Scholomance, part IV, The Great Ossuary

Past the "Safe Room" is the Great Ossuary. Looking through my screenshots, I'm disappointed that I didn't get any good pictures to illustrate what the Great Ossuary is like in it's full glory. The main hall that you see in the screenshot above starts off with several dozen dragon whelps along with some humanoid dragon handlers. About half a dozen whelps seem to be linked to each dragon handler. The good news is that the whelps are non-elites and are therefore vulnerable to area-of-effect attacks. The bad news is that they don't like to get close enough together to make area-of-effect attacks effective and even though they're non-elite, their attacks still hurt like heck. In addition, the dragon handlers have a knock-back attack that can knock players into other groups of whelps, something that can cause wipes very quickly.

The easiest way to handle this room is to use line-of-sight pulls. The puller shoots a whelp and then runs back into the "Safe Room" and around the corner. Once the whelps lose line-of-sight on the puller, they'll fly through the door and bunch up at the entrance to the Safe Room. The party can then AoE attack them and then kill the dragon handler. Note that dragon handlers also have a nasty AoE attack, so even with this kind of pull, the fight isn't easy. As our party's priestess, I found myself casting Prayer of Healing a lot (PoH is a group heal).

I suggest using line-of-sight pulls for almost the entire room. It's tempting to move into the room after a good portion of the room has been cleared, but as you can see from the chaos in the screenshot above, which was taken after 2/3rds of the room had already been cleared, that's not a good idea. We should have continued to use LoS pulls. If you don't use LoS pulls, then the whelps will stay far apart, making them very difficult to kill using AoE attacks.

[Image: rattlegore.jpg]

At the far end of the hall is a stairway leading down to Rattlegore's lair. Along the way, you have to defeat a new mob type called a Risen Construct. These guys are tough mothers. They hit hard, have an area-of-effect swiping attack, and have a boatload of health. Just be glad that for the most part you get to fight them only one at a time, and if by some chance or mistake two of them get aggroed, one of them can be shackled. I wouldn't want to have to fight two of them at once in a 5-player party.

The first time I came through Scholomance, I and my partymates congratulated Blizzard on introducing a new mob model. Risen Constructs are pretty cool looking and are nasty to fight. But on a later run, my friend Lem spoiled the fun, as he likes to do. He observed, "They act like those trogg guys from Gnomeregan." Once he made that observation, the connection was obvious. The constructs have that same loping gate that troggs have, and when they stop or get stunned, they scratch their behinds like troggs do. Risen Constructs aren't a new mob model at all. They're just undead troggs. I guess trogg behinds get itchy even when they don't have any sweat glands, skin or hair on them.

[Image: rattlegore2.jpg]

Rattlegore himself waits in the middle of a large chamber with about a dozen of these Risen Constructs. Luckily, he doesn't call for help when he's aggroed, so you don't have the clear the chamber before you fight him. I think that with some patience one could actually pull him alone, but there often seems to be one construct who stays just a bit too close to him and gets aggroed along with Rattlegore. That's not a big issue if you have a priest in the party who can shackle the add. If you don't, I really don't know what a party should do. Maybe you could have someone kite the add around, perhaps back in the now cleared Great Ossuary main hall? I can't imagine a 5-player party trying to directly fight Rattlegore and a risen construct at the same time. Those guys are nasty enough alone.

Assuming one skips Jandice Barov, Rattlegore is the first miniboss parties will fight in the instance, and it's quite time consuming for a party to make its way to this first instance miniboss. Luckily, from this point on, the minibosses come fast and thick.

So what does Rattlegore drop? The answer is: a key. Rather, he drops a special key to the door of the Viewing Room through which one must go to meet all of the other minibosses in the instance. He also dropped some random vendor loot item of no consequence.

All that was left to do in this first stage of the instance was to make our way to the Viewing Room door.

Schooling Scholomance - Tal - 10-16-2004 11:08 AM

MongoJerry,Oct 15 2004, 10:02 PM Wrote:On Tuesday night, I was putzing around with Neriad doing some of the new quests in the Western Plaguelands, and I got the usual spams that priests get, asking if I'd like to join various instance groups.  (Rogues, hunters, and pre-talent warlocks never seem to sympathize when I describe this burden of being a priest). [right][snapback]57647[/snapback][/right]

And Paladins at any point in their career thus far :rolleyes: . ;)

I do have a question for you and Lemekim if you don't mind since you both have played to the level cap in the end game instances. I have always felt that it is my role as secondary tank in groups to off-tank any adds before they go after the squishy center of the tootsie roll pop that we call a group. Recently though I ran across a priestess who told me to stop doing that as it would "lead to a wipe". Now I should tell you that when I off tank I grab the add before it can make it to the casters, get it pissed off and then move back into position next to the warrior. I then switch back to the warrior's target only switching back to the add if it looks like its not going after me any longer. Most of the parties I have been in up to Temple seem to be appreciative of this role I provide in a group setting. Being (at least to me) a good party member I acquiesed to the Priestess' wishes and stopped going after the adds. What this lead to was every add charging into the midst of the casters wreaking havoc for a minute or so until the warrior could get there to taunt it off them. Every battle was a hodgepodge of the warrior scrambling everywhere to keep the taunt on all the baddies nearby. We successfully completed Temple but it seemed more hectic than other instances.

My question to you guys is do you see any problem with a paladin off tanking the adds back to the warrior in the later instances like BRD, BRS, Strath, etc? I'm especially interested in what MongoJerry feels about this subject as he is the Priest expert but also would love to hear what anyone else has to say about the subject.

-Confuzzled Pally. :)

Schooling Scholomance - MongoJerry - 10-16-2004 11:28 AM

[Image: lastroom.jpg]

ADVENTURES OF NERIAD: Schooling Scholomance, part V, The Room Before the Viewing Room

After getting the key to the Viewing Room off Rattlegore, we headed back to the Safe Room and proceeded to clear the room containing the Viewing Room door. Incidentally, this is also the same room one would land in if one were to jump off the platform at the beginning of the instance.

[Image: lastroom2.jpg]

Like the Great Ossuary, the easiest way to clear this room is to pull mob groups back to the Safe Room and dispatch them there. Mobs in this final room like to wander around at different speeds, so the puller has to be careful. It can be easy to pull too many mobs, if one isn't paying attention.

[Image: lastroom3.jpg]

The most difficult mobs in that final room are the diseased ghouls. When they die, they release a large poison cloud plume, much like the zombies in Diablo II. Unlike the poison clouds released by the zombies in Diablo II, this poison cloud plume hurts like crazy -- as in 700+ damage per tick crazy. The above screenshot illustrates the proper technique for dealing with the ghouls. When the ghoul is about to die, it should be stunned and the melee attackers should back off and let the spellcasters finish off the ghoul. Anyone who stays within range of the poison cloud after the ghoul dies should be summarily ridiculed for being a newbie. This whole problem with the poison cloud illustrates why ghouls should be shackled and saved for last when a mob group is pulled.

[Image: lastroom4.jpg]

This room before the Viewing Room is small and can be quickly cleared. There is one other feature of this room besides the Viewing Room door, however. An iron gate blocks the way to some sort of chest. Some people had heard that clearing that final room opens the gate, but that didn't work for us. Others speculated that one had to also clear the entire Safe Room, too. Since it was around 6am at this point, however, we weren't in the mood to experiment, so we left the chest alone. I have a feeling, though, that that chest could have something pretty valuable in it, like the chest in the Seven Dwarfs room in Blackrock Depths. If someone reading this has concrete information on what specifically opens the gate to that chest, I'd like to hear about it. My guess at this point is that it involves opening up the Viewing Room door and hitting a switch somewhere. If someone can give me concrete information about this, I'll post an update.

UP NEXT: The Viewing Room

Schooling Scholomance - MongoJerry - 10-16-2004 02:54 PM

ADVENTURES OF NERIAD: Schooling Scholomance, part VI, The Viewing Room and the Laboratory

Neriad and her party opened the door to the Viewing Room and walked inside.

Breaking away from the narrative for a moment, let's talk a bit about Scholomance's design. I would rank the three most difficult sections of Scholomance as follows:

1. "The Room from Hell," the room containing Jandice Barov
2. The Reliquary
3. The Great Ossuary

Notice something about this list. We've already finished them all! Or technically, we passed by "The Room from Hell," did only a small section of the Reliquary, and finished the Great Ossuary completely. Up until the two final boss challenges (which are really fun) the rest of the instance is a piece of cake. The instance is literally divided into two halves by the Viewing Room Door. Before the door is a grueling instance with few minibosses and little treasure of the kind players look for. After the door is a series of treasure rooms filled with easily killed minibosses that give players the items of their dreams. The difference between the two halves of the instance could not be more striking.

[Image: viewingroom.jpg]

The Viewing Room itself is eerie. It's a large schoolroom filled with yellow non-aggroed mobs, much like the bar in Blackrock Depths. At the front of the room is the headmaster, Vectus, who is supposed to be the final boss of this instance, and yet he is non-aggroed as well. You can talk to the students who respond with various comments about their studies or your dress, and you can even talk to Vectus who will tell you to get in your proper school uniform and open your books. The room is disorienting, because you know that at some point all these people are going to attack you, but you don't know when.

[Image: laboratory.jpg]

Opposite the Viewing Room Door is a stairwell leading down to the Laboratory. This room has mobs similar to those that were in the Safe Room. Here, like there, the mobs can be safely pulled. The only problem mobs are the Spectral Teachers which occasionally break up into multiple parts for a small amount of time. It's best to shackle the Spectral Teachers in each pull and deal with them last.

[Image: laboratory2.jpg]

The laboratory is run by the lich, Ras Frostwhisper. He moves around the sarcophagus at the front of the room, which is convenient, because when he's behind the sarcophagus, the skeleton guards in front of the sarcophagus can be pulled without pulling him. There's not too much more to say about fighting him. Hit him as hard as you can and keep your party members healed.

[Image: bonechill.jpg]

Frostwhisper dropped the Bonechill Hammer pictured above. In my first run, he dropped some robes that gave a bonus to frost damage spells and to frost resistance. Unfortunately, neither bonus was very big and the robes had no other peripheral stats. Not even a dedicated frost mage would want to wear them. That's a lukewarm item to drop from a cool boss (pardon the puns).

The laboratory itself is quite interesting. For one thing, a chemistry set on the counter can be clicked on to pick up "Frostwhisper's Embalming Fluid." No one in our party knew what it was used for, but we guessed that it's used in some sort of rare alchemy recipe. Note that this embalming fluid is classified as bind on pickup, so if it is indeed for an alchemy recipe, then make sure that only alchemist characters pick it up.

The room has a strange feel about it. For one thing, the laboratory is way off to the side of the other "treasure rooms" in the area. Kronos suggested that the laboratory could be the alchemist's equivalent of the anvil and forge in Blackrock Depths. That is, perhaps there are some rare alchemy potions that can only be made while standing in the Scholomance laboratory. It'd be neat if that were true.

One other thing: The laboratory also has the Deed to Brill.

[Image: laboratory3.jpg]

Brill: pwned

UP NEXT: The Six Treasure Rooms

Schooling Scholomance - MongoJerry - 10-18-2004 01:54 AM

ADVENTURES OF NERIAD: Schooling Scholomance, part VII, Old Business

Before continuing with the story, let's take care of a few bits of old business. First, Mugs from the official Blizzard forums reminded me that one of the mob types in the "Safe Room" also casts silence, which could be a troubling issue, if a party's healer gets silenced. Good point. Luckily, though, the silence spell is a short-ranged area-of-effect spell, so if the party's priest stands back from the fray, which most priests do anyway, they shouldn't be affected most of the time. If the priest does have the misfortune of being silenced, he or she should then step back, wait for the silence to wear off and continue. The nice thing about having one's priest not be silenced is that he or she can then cast Dispel Magic on his or her party members and get rid of their silence. Keep in mind that warriors cannot Taunt while silenced, so if it's early in the fight, the priest might want to dispel the silence off the warrior tank even before dispelling the silence on the party's spellcasters.

Mugs also reminded me to mention that the key to the Viewing Room disappears after one use. I can't believe I forgot to mention this. I guess I was writing too late at night or something. Anyway, the key is a one-time use item, so there's no need to roll over who gets to pick up the key. Also, this one-time use feature means that one does indeed need to work one's way through the Great Ossuary and fight Rattlegore on each Scholomance visit.

[Image: laboratory4.jpg]

A group of us went on another Scholomance run last night, which gave me a chance to take some better screenshots and also remind myself of some of the smaller details of the instance. One of those "details" is that the primary reason we always shackled the Spectral Teachers in the Laboratory and saved them for last in any pull was that Spectral Teachers have the ability to banish players. One can imagine the nastiness of having one's tank banished in the middle of a large fight. Unfortunately, despite Banish being classified as a "magic" debuff, it can't be dispelled.

[Image: laboratory5.jpg]

I got this better screenshot of Ras Frostwhisper last night. When one follows one of the Scholomance quest lines, one finds out that Frostwhisper plays a far more significant role than that of a simple miniboss.

[Image: laboratory6.jpg]

We got these gloves off Frostwhisper last night. Not bad.

[Image: laboratory7.jpg]

The main reason why Kronos and I have this idea that the Laboratory might be the alchemist's version of the Blackrock Depths anvil and forge is this clickable "Alchemy Lab." It's the only furniture piece in the room that can be moused over or clicked on. It does make one wonder.

The secret to the iron gate guarding the chest has been revealed, thanks to Durn on the official Blizzard forums! Despite my willingness to bet my group 50s going in that Durn was pulling our legs, I can now verify that there is a torch switch near Jandice Barlov that opens the gate. I'll talk about what we got and how to get through the "Room That's Not Quite As Hellish As It Used To Be," when we get to that point in the narrative. However, I can say that I'm starting to warm up to the idea of hitting Jandice Barlov on farming runs now. I'm not 100% convinced, mind you, but I'm warming up to the idea.

With all of that out of the way, let's continue where the group left off. The group had just defeated Ras Frostwhisper and was heading toward the Headmaster's Quarters, or the section of the instance I affectionately call "The Six Treasure Rooms." Note: The narrative will continue to follow the original group's adventures. However, I might occasionally use a screenshot from last night's group to illustrate a point. If you see a screenshot with Minimus (mage) or Berilac (paladin) in it, I just ask that you suspend your sense of disbelief for a bit and imagine Neth or Lilisi, respectively, instead. My thanks to Minimus and Berilac for their help last night.

Schooling Scholomance - MongoJerry - 10-18-2004 04:48 AM

[Image: headmasterschambers.jpg]

ADVENTURES OF NERIAD: Schooling Scholomance, part VIII, Hall of Secrets and The Coven

After killing Raz Frostwhisper in the Laboratory (with a fireball), we went back upstairs to the Viewing Room and took followed a side passage to the Headmaster's Chambers (shown above). The chambers have a total of six side rooms -- three on each of two levels. In order to bring out the headmaster, Darkmaster Gandling, one must clear out all six of these side chambers. Luckily, each of these chambers has a miniboss in them, making this area a great place to find loot.

The central room has a few wandering skeleton guards that can be cleared prior to going into the side chambers. (You don't want them adding at the wrong time during a big fight). It seems that the lower rooms are easier than the upper rooms, so we now tend to do the lower ones first. However, we didn't know this at the time, so we started with the upper rooms. In the end it doesn't matter, of course, since one has to clear all six rooms anyway.

[Image: hallofsecrets.jpg]

The side chamber we started with was the Hall of Secrets, which involves what our warrior, Kupeludo, describes as "the most difficult pull in the instance." It seems that no matter what you do, you're going to end up with a dozen mobs coming after you.

The bad news: You have about a dozen mobs chasing after you and they hit *hard*.

The good news: They're non-elite and they're slow.

[Image: hallofsecrets2.jpg]

The best way to handle this pull is to start it off like any normal area-of-effect pull. The puller shoots the mobs, runs back through the door so that the mobs get in a nice tight bunch in the doorway and then the characters with area-of-effect spells start blasting away. Unfortunately, this has the effect of making the mobs chase after the aoe spellcasters, and the mobs have enough health to withstand the initial aoe barrage. This brings us to the second stage of the fight: kiting.

In our case, we used Kronos, our warlock, as our bait. He was the perfect choice, because he had almost as much health as our warrior (6k+ health!) and because the mobs were chasing after him anyway. Kronos proceeded to kite the mobs around the upper level of the central chamber. These mobs are slow, so one can actually run away from them. Meanwhile, the rest of the party picked out single targets and finished them off. I believe Kronos also added some extra aoe damage along the way as he could. Slowly but surely, the mob pack was whittled down.

After the initial mass pull, the rest of the mob groups in the room were pulled in smaller numbers and dispatched easily. Then came the big moment. The big bad daddy of them all: The Lorekeeper. We kill the Lorekeeper and get:


Well, ok, some cash and runecloth. I've heard that when he does drop a Scourgestone, the Lorekeeper drops a Minion Scourgestone. He seems to be the one named miniboss in the area whose loot table isn't that of a named miniboss. In fact, he doesn't even have the loot table of an elite mob. I don't know if this is a mistake or is intentional, but it was disappointing either way.

[Image: coven.jpg]

The next chamber we came to was the Coven. The mobs here are pretty tough with a mix of humanoid spellcasters (make sure to have shadow resistance buff on) and skeleton guards. I don't recall having to use any special tactics for these fights, though. Most pulls involve two humanoids and 1 skeleton, so it's a pretty standard shackle the skeleton, sheep one humanoid, kill the remaining humanoid kind of thing.

[Image: coven2.jpg]

The one cool part of this fight is that the spellcasters can turn into Dark Shades for a time and they hit like crazy when they do.

[Image: coven3.jpg]

Instructor Malicia is the named miniboss in this room and she fights like the earlier spellcasters. There doesn't seem to be any way to pull her separately from one of her minions, so we usually sheep the minion (seen on the right in the picture above) and focus on Malicia.

The biggest trick about this fight and indeed the entire room is that the spellcasters cast a nasty "timebomb" curse. After 60 seconds, the curse will explode for over 2k damage. This shouldn't be a problem. After all, mages and druids have the ability to remove curses and 60 seconds is plenty of time to work with. In fact, druids in general are great about removing such curses in plenty of time. However, there is a significant problem if you are in a group that is counting on a mage to remove curses. How do I say this diplomatically? Let's turn to the numbers. For several months I kept strict account of the number of times a mage in my party dispelled a curse without prompting. I would go so far as to wait for 15 seconds *after the fight was over* to give the mage the opportunity to remove a curse. The end result was an astonishing 50-to-1 ratio of mages who would not remove curses without prompting to those who would actually remove curses without prompting.

So if you are coming up to the Coven in a party that is depending on a mage to remove these nasty curses before they explode on you for 2k damage during the middle of a heated battle, I suggest that you politely mention that in the upcoming room there are mobs who cast a nasty curse that needs to be removed. This'll give your mage(s) a chance to perhaps place Remove Curse on one of their hotkey bars or even port to Ironforge to go get training in this spell that they've "never needed before" (this actually happened in one of my Sunken Temple groups). And if you're in one of my groups and you see me calling out "decurse," please don't take it personally. I'm just going by the numbers.

[Image: coven4.jpg]

Instructor Malicia dropped these set gauntlets, which look like excellent gauntlets for a shaman. (Read: useless to an alliance party). We'll see soon that such set item drops seem to be a theme for the minibosses in the Headmaster's Chambers.

Schooling Scholomance - Yuen - 10-19-2004 05:28 AM

Thank you for taking the time to post this MongoJerry.

A very enjoyable read - one of the best journals/guides i've seen.

Schooling Scholomance - MongoJerry - 10-19-2004 05:40 AM

[Image: hallofdamned.jpg]

ADVENTURES OF NERIAD: Schooling Scholomance, part IX, Hall of the Damned and The Vault of Ravenian

The next chamber houses the Hall of the Damned, where Doctor Tholen Krastinov, a.k.a. "The Butcher," resides. Outside the entrance to Scholomance, two shadowy figures stand near a shack and greet characters who stop to listen to their tale. The woman, Eva Sarkhoff, explains that they were once servants in the house of Barov at the height of its wealth and power and witnessed the decline of Caer Darrow and the House of Barov as the noble family not only sought to enrich themselves but made plans to become immortal so that they could horde their riches forever. Eva tells of the gruesome treatment she and her husband, Lucien, received and their horrifying almost death. I say "almost death," because Krastinov keeps Eva's and Lucien's remains with just enough life in them so that their spirits remain trapped to this world. (Why can't we have an instance with fluffy bunnies who only want cuddle and do nice things for people?)

After telling her tale, Eva asks listeners to kill Krastinov and burn the remains of Eva and Lucien to free their souls. Note that many players pass Eva by without a glance, because she does not start with a big exclamation mark over her head. She only gives you her quest after you listen to her "gossip text" tale.

[Image: hallofdamned2.jpg]

The Hall of the Damned contains mostly those diseased golems that explode with a nasty poison gas cloud upon their deaths. As before, the best tactic is to stun the golem as it nears death, have the melee characters back away, and have the spellcasters finish the job. The other mob type in the chamber are a type of skeleton that one would normally first experience in the room with Jandice Barov. They're non-elite, so they would seem to be easy pickings. However, they are immune to shadow, arcane, fire, and ice magic. They are not immune to physical or holy magic attacks, however, and I haven't gotten a definitive answer as to whether they are vulnerable to nature magic or not. My nature damage wand is able to damage them. However, I noticed that I was also able to damage them with my fire damage wand. Something strange may be going on with wands. Anyway, for the most part, you can use physical and holy damage attacks to kill them. They're not elite, so they still die quickly.

[Image: hallofdamned3.jpg]

Krastinov (or as most players call him simply "The Butcher") dies easily. He doesn't have any special attacks other than a bunch of hard-hitting melee attacks. The remains of Eva and Lucien Sarkhoff are across from one another, and there's nothing special that you need to do with them. Simply right click the remains and they instantly combust.

[Image: hallofdamned4.jpg]

Krastinov dropped this set pair of plate gauntlets. Hmmm... two set items dropping from two named minibosses (not counting the non-drop of the Lorekeeper). Perhaps this is the start of a trend?

[Image: hallofdamned5.jpg]

At the back of the room is a clickable work bench. Is it merely a decoration or something that will be used later? One can only guess.

[Image: ravenian.jpg]

We next went downstairs to the Vault of the Ravenian. The normal mobs were pretty standard fare that could be pulled in small numbers. The ease with which the normal mobs were cleared belied what was to come.

[Image: ravenian2.jpg]

The Ravenian stands waiting at the back of the room for unsuspecting players to come wake him up. Indeed, at first glance, he looks easy. He's just standing there alone, hunched over, and without a sign of any high intelligence to indicate any special magical attacks.

But then one selects him and is in for a surprise as you can see above. I am level 60. The Ravenian's level is shown as a white skull on the upper picture and as a "??" in the information box in the lower right corner. It turns out that he is a level 100 elite mob and that buried deep in Scholomance in this most unlikely of locations is the second most powerful mob in the game.

[Image: ravenian3.jpg]

Or not. But it sure is fun telling Scholomance first-timers that baloney right before starting the fight. Say stuff like "I can't believe we're going to try this," "We should summon some people to help us," "I don't think anyone's beaten this guy," and "Let's just try it. What've we got to lose?" I've also found that it helps to say he's the second most powerful mob in the game. If you say he's the most powerful mob, then people will know that you're full of it. If you say fifth or something, then it sounds like you're picking a number out of a hat. But for some reason, if you say he's the second most powerful mob, there's that little seed of doubt that gets planted in the mind. I think "Get Smart" was onto something there. ("Get Smart" was the second best TV show I ever saw).

The truth is that I have no idea why the Ravenian shows up as a level ?? mob. He's killed readily. Perhaps he's been mistakenly assigned a non-integer level and the user interface can't handle that. I don't know. Anyway, he's the second easiest miniboss to kill in this instance.

[Image: ravenian4.jpg]

He dropped these set leather boots. Looks like the Cadaverous set is some sort of rogue set. Three set items in three miniboss drops. The trend continues.

Schooling Scholomance - Magicbag - 10-19-2004 07:31 PM

From a blizz developer on the forums:

I appreciate you taking the time to post.

As of next patch, players will find the current strategy much more difficult. Actually, it should be impossible.

On top of that, I've tweaked respawn rates in the zone so it should be a little less punishing for slow groups or groups that wipe out.

The GM staff has been really good about reporting exploits as well. They're watching players in dungeons and send me daily reports as to what possible exploits are. >=]

Schooling Scholomance - Ruvanal - 10-19-2004 08:15 PM

Magicbag,Oct 19 2004, 03:31 PM Wrote:From a blizz developer on the forums:

I appreciate you taking the time to post.

As of next patch, players will find the current strategy much more difficult. Actually, it should be impossible.

On top of that, I've tweaked respawn rates in the zone so it should be a little less punishing for slow groups or groups that wipe out.

The GM staff has been really good about reporting exploits as well. They're watching players in dungeons and send me daily reports as to what possible exploits are. >=]

It is worth noting that the quote from Tigole was taken from this thread.
Which describes an exploit to use in Scholomance. The exploit described there does not match what MongoJerry is covering in his post.

Schooling Scholomance - Magicbag - 10-19-2004 08:46 PM

Ruvanal,Oct 19 2004, 04:15 PM Wrote:It is worth noting that the quote from Tigole was taken from this thread.
Which describes an exploit to use in Scholomance.  The exploit described there does not match what MongoJerry is covering in his post.

I'm not suggesting MJ was exploiting, reading his initial post was enough to clearly see he was not. Rather, I was trying to point out the changes that were coming down the pipe for the instance, in particular, the issue of respawn time (MJ's big concern) seems to have been addressed.

Schooling Scholomance - MongoJerry - 10-20-2004 12:41 AM

Magicbag,Oct 19 2004, 01:46 PM Wrote:I'm not suggesting MJ was exploiting, reading his initial post was enough to clearly see he was not.  Rather, I was trying to point out the changes that were coming down the pipe for the instance, in particular, the issue of respawn time (MJ's big concern) seems to have been addressed.

Yep! That sounds great. Actually, the "exploit" described in the link above is not really so exploitive as it barely skips any content and requires a corpse run and an additional rez/buff sessions. Plus, the chance of error is not negligible. I've done this a couple of times before, and frankly, I think it would be better and faster just to kill a few mobs in that one room. It's not like there are a lot of them.

The be exploit is the "ghosting" exploit. It's a two-warlock exploit where where three people die (including a warlock), get summoned back by the second warlock as ghosts, walk through whatever door (in this case, the Viewing Room Door) as ghosts, rez themselves, and then summon the rest of the party to them. Considering that this exploit has been around a while, I'm surprised it hasn't been fixed yet. I guess there hadn't been a big enough population of high level warlocks around to make this a problem. (Incidentally, yes, this requires having six people, but only at the start. One could always use an alt to assist with the summoning).

Schooling Scholomance - MongoJerry - 10-20-2004 03:17 AM

[Image: familyvault.jpg]

ADVENTURES OF NERIAD: Schooling Scholomance, part X, The Barov Family Vault and The Shadow Vault

The fifth chamber held the Barov Family Vault which starts off with three fixed skeleton guards and three patrolling skeleton guards. The normal mobs are taken out with ease.

[Image: familyvault2.jpg]

In the back stands Lord Alexi Barov and two guards. Barov has a damaging aura, but the only real issue in this fight are the two extra mobs who fight alongside him. If one has a priest, then one of the guards can be shackled of course. Other than that, it's a pretty straight-forward fight, where we usually concentrate on killing Barov first. The ranged attackers might want to stay back a little ways to keep out of the range of the aura.

[Image: familyvault3.jpg]

Barov dropped the leather Cadaverous set leggings.

[Image: familyvault4.jpg]

In addition to Lord Alexi Barov, the Barov Family Vault contains the fourth and final deed, the Deed to Caer Darrow.

[Image: shadowvault.jpg]

We then entered the sixth and final chamber, the Shadow Vault. Again, there wasn't anything tricky about the regular mobs other than the fact that they hit hard. The final miniboss of the instance, Lady Illucia Barov, waited for us at the back of the room.

[Image: shadowvault2.jpg]

Lady Barov can both Silence and Mind Control players. Perhaps it's a sign that one has played this game too long (and it hasn't been released yet!) that my reaction to this was, "Meh, so what else is new?" She's a spellcaster and therefore doesn't have a large health pool, so she can be taken down quickly. Perhaps Blizzard should have a couple of guards join her to make the fight more interesting.

Lady Barov dropped the Cadaverous Belt (I didn't get a screenshot, so a thotbot link will have to suffice). Wow! We got the Cadaverous belt, boots, and kilt -- three of the five possible Cadaverous items -- in one run! Too bad we didn't have a rogue with us.

[Image: shadowvault3.jpg]

Also, the Skin of Shadow, an ingredient in a couple of epic leather and mail recipes, can be found in this room.

So, after killing six minibosses in the Headmaster's Study, we ended up with five set items. After having run Scholomance a few more times, I can confidently say that this is a theme for the chambers in the Headmaster's Study. That is, every run the Lorekeeper drops nothing of significance, and the other five minibosses drop a set time. There are four sets in all -- one cloth, one leather, one mail, and one plate. I'm curious to find out what all of the full-set bonuses are for each of the sets. The one set I do know about is the cloth set, the Necropile set. The full set bonus is:

+5 Int
+5 Defense
+15 All resist
+12 To all magic and healing effects

So there's nothing that turns you into a vampire and lets you cast fireballs and firewalls. I'm quite disappointed. The bonuses aren't all that much to write home about, and since most of the base items in the Necropile set seem to emphasize stamina, the set seems to be geared mostly toward warlocks. This won't stop me from rolling on them for my priestess, though. You never know how the item stats will change in the next patch, and it's not like there aren't a lot of better items out there for warlocks, either.

[Image: darkmastergandling.jpg]

So with the six side chambers of the Headmaster's Study cleared away, Darkmaster Gandling himself appeared in the center of the lower level of the central room. Looking at him, he doesn't seem like such a bad guy. Maybe we can go down there, get to know one another, find some common ground, and come up with a diplomatic solution to our differences.

Schooling Scholomance - MongoJerry - 10-20-2004 10:02 AM

[Image: darkmastergandling2.jpg]

ADVENTURES OF NERIAD: Schooling Scholomance, part XI, Darkmaster Gandling

Darkmaster Gandling was the silent type who resisted our attempts at negotiation. ("Give us all your belongings and nobody gets hurt!") We switched to plan B: killing him.

A battle with Darkmaster Gandling is a challenge match, and I give all the Blizzard team who worked on it props for fun and creativity. Here's how it works:

1. Darkmaster Gandling on his own is a pretty tough mob. His spells hit hard, he casts some harsh curses, and he can take a pounding himself.

2. At random times, he will teleport random players into one of the six now cleared side chambers. (At least, I haven't found any pattern to when it happens or who it happens to). The gate to the appropriate side chamber then closes and three skeletons spawn in middle of the chamber.

3. The teleported character must kill those three skeletons to open the gate and return to the main battle. Luckily, the three skeletons are merely delaying forces. They all have low health and can be killed very easily. (I'm estimate they have on the order of 700ish health each). It is imperative that teleported characters kill the three skeletons and return to the main battle as quickly as possible.

4. If Darkmaster Gandling loses aggro on the entire party, then he will return to his starting point, regenerate health and mana quickly, and reset himself. Basically, he's won the round, and you have to start over. When players are teleported, Gandling loses aggro on them, so Gandling can win the round even if the party hasn't wiped. For example, if three characters have been teleported away and the other two members of the party get killed by Gandling, then Gandling will have lost aggro on all of the members of the party and the round will be over. This is a major reason among everything else that a teleported player should fight his or her way back as quickly as possible to rejoin the main battle. You want to make sure Gandling maintains aggro on at least someone in the party at all times or else all of your previous efforts will be lost.

Having discussed this in our party and buffed ourselves to the fullest extent, we commenced the attack on Darkmaster Gandling. Now, please keep something in mind. Recall from the first post that this run was conducted on the second day of the patch. Two people were running Scholomance for the first time, and the rest of us had only been there once or twice before -- and always in larger parties. So if what I'm about to describe seems noobish to you who might now be a veteran Scholomance runner, keep in mind that we were all, well, noobs at the time.

[Image: darkmastergandling3.jpg]

We charged forward, employing the usual tactic of the warrior taunting the mob, the priestess healing the warrior, and the other three people trying to deliver as much damage as possible. In short order, I was teleported into the Hall of Secrets and met Larry, Curly, and Moe. I fought to get back into the main battle as quickly as I could while still having something of a mana reserve with which to fight once I got there.

Frankly, I'm not exactly sure what happened during that first round of fighting, since I didn't see much of it or take many screenshots during it. To the best of my memory, I got teleported a couple of times and never even saw the main battle after the first charge. From the chat log, I gather that Gandling had teleported some other people and had killed one or two others. Then, to seal the deal, Kupeludo had fought through and killed the skeletons in his chamber but just as he was about to run out to join the fray, Gandling ran by (getting aggro on Kupeludo) and teleported Neth into the same room. So the door to the chamber closed again, three new skeletons spawned, and Gandling passed through the closed door and killed both Kupeludo and Neth inside the chamber. So, two players were down inside a closed room where they could not be rezed during the fight. The next screenshot I have shows us at the instance entrance, getting ready to jump off the entrance platform and run inside the Viewing Room. Round 1 goes to Darkmaster Gandling.

[Image: darkmastergandling4.jpg]

We gathered again and discussed ways to better handle the encounter. Kupeludo mentioned that Gandling casts a lot of spells, so perhaps our paladin should use a resistance aura. That gave me idea to try using Mana Burn. I have Improved Mana Burn, which reduces its cast time from 3 seconds to 2 seconds, so I can cast Mana Burn pretty frequently. We charged forward and after burning Gandling's mana supply down below half, I was summarily teleported into the Coven.

[Image: darkmastergandling5.jpg]

I fought my way out of the Coven and got teleported almost instantly to the Shadow Vault.

[Image: darkmastergandling6.jpg]

I killed Larry, Curly, and Moe again and just as I was about to leave the room, Kronos also got teleported into the Shadow Vault, an action that caused the gate to close in front of me and three new skeletons to appear. Kronos had to deal with the loading screen, so I had to fight this new group of skeletons alone. I was starting to feel like Sisyphus, the mythological hero doomed to rolling a boulder to the top of a mountain in Hades only to watch the boulder roll back of its own weight upon nearing the summit. (The Myth of Sisyphus). It was during this time that Gandling lost aggro on everyone else as well. I don't know if it was via teleport or deaths, but I do know we had to start over. Luckily, we were able to rez or summon everyone, so no corpse runs were required this time. Round 2 goes to Darkmaster Gandling.

[Image: darkmastergandling7.jpg]

We gathered again and discussed ways to improve our play. We had done a lot better this time, since three-fouths of Gandling's life had been taken down. But he had still won, so there had to be something that we were missing. It was then that the significance of a seemingly innocuous comment made by Neth during the battle sank in.

Neth: theres no way im going to get past 59/59/61 mobs guarding me

Days later, rested, showered, well fed, and in a good mood, I can say without a doubt that Neth is one of the best teammates out there. Putting up with all the false starts and backtracking we had to do along the way shows a lot of character on her part, and I would love to run many more instances with her. But at the time, it being eight in the morning after having stayed up all night, I was ready to find out how Krastinov's Work Bench (a.k.a. The Butcher's Work Bench) could be used on a certain mage.

Kronos and I proceeded to tell Neth and any other group members who had possibly thought the same thing but hadn't mentioned it that the skeletons are merely there to delay players from returning to the main battle. They have reduced health and they don't hit very hard. (Admittedly, they do cast some wacky magic debuffs and curses on you). Anyone, especially a mage, can quickly kill the skeletons and get back to the main battle. It being eight in the morning, Kronos and I said this about six different ways, which was probably five more ways than was necessary. I don't think any of us wanted the fight extended to a fourth round.

Now that that was settled, we were pretty optimistic about the upcoming battle. Also, I was happy to report to the group that Mana Burning really seemed to work, so Kronos said he'd join in with some Mana Siphoning.

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Draining Darkmaster Gandling's mana worked beautifully. He was still able to teleport people away, so he probably doesn't need much if any mana to do that. However, with no mana, he couldn't cast his powerful attack spells and instead had to resort to using his comparatively feeble melee attack. He also uses a couple of nasty curses, one of which turns you into a skeleton and reduces your strength, agility, and stamina by a significant amount. Still, while Gandling was at little or no mana, even I as a cursed skeleton priest was able to tank him for quite a while.

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Right at the end, Gandling had managed to regen just enough mana to cast a barrage of arcane missles at me while simultaneously teleporting me out of the room. Dang! If only I had Mana Burned him just that one more time. Still, the rest of the party was able to finish him off. Kronos, our warlock, was rezed by Lilisi, our paladin, and I was summoned to the central room. It's a good thing we could do that, because Gandling was my loot, and I doubt his body would've lasted while I made a corpse run back. What did he drop?

Schooling Scholomance - MongoJerry - 10-20-2004 10:08 AM

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Eh, not too great, but not bad for the right kind of character classes, I suppose. Gandling seems to have a large loot table, and I understand he can drop a really good wand and staff. Plus, he dropped this baby on another run:

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Which gives Neriad that classic "ninja priestess" look:

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Interesting. The shroud is called the "Dreadmaster's Shroud" while the game calls Gandling the "Darkmaster." Looks like the dungeon designers and the item designers need to get their stories straight.

(Note: On a run a couple days ago, we ran into a nasty design flaw with this encounter. Kronos was again our warlock and he had died inside one of the side chambers. When Gandling died, it was Kronos's loot. The problem? None of the four of us could get into the chamber to rez Kronos. One can't cast spells or blink through the closed gates and the skeletons were too far into the chamber to get aggro on any of us. Normally in this kind of situation, we would have our warlock summon the dead person to us, but it was our warlock who was dead! Kronos tried to do a corpse run, but the body of Gandling disappeared before he could make it back. After Gandling's body disappeared, the iron gates raised. I suggest that the designers fix this problem by making the gates rise the moment Gandling dies rather than when his body disappears. For that matter, perhaps the gates should rise whenever Gandling loses aggro on the party and resets himself).

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Whew! What a rush! I give full props to Blizzard's dungeon designers for creating a fun and exciting event. All that remained for this run was to take on a couple dozen students and two named bosses simultaneously. After all that our party of five had accomplished, we were confident that we could take on this challenge.