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Hit amount as a function of DPS

January 26, 2013 22 comments

(This post is a kind of continuation of my post about combat mechanics from a few weeks ago.)

Well, here’s at least one thing that makes sense. I measured the amount of damage done by an unarmed white hit (i.e. while having nothing in my main hand) — an ‘up’ attack to be precise, though it seems that other directions hit for the same amount anyway. The theory here is supposed to be that the amount of damage done is computed as

damage = DPS · animation_length,      (*)

where DPS is the DPS number from your Attributes/General tab, and consists of your weapon damage plus the DPS coming from strength (or dexterity, depending on your weapon) and combat rating. I varied my DPS by swapping some gear around, and I also did the tests with several classes. To my considerable surprise, all the measurements match up perfectly:

We see that all the measurements lie on the same straight line; the slope of this line is the animation length of our unarmed ‘up’ attack. It must be equally long regardless of your class, since the measurements of different classes all lie on the same line.

As often with this sort of testing, we are slightly hampered by the fact that damage is rounded to the nearest integer in our combat log, even though the game internally works with non-integer amounts. (The DPS as shown in the Attributes/General tab is similarly rounded to one digit after the decimal point, but this isn’t a problem as we can compute the exact value by ourselves from combat rating and strength.) For example, at 132.2 DPS (actually more like 132.2295; coming from 1.0 weapon damage + 4803 combat rating) our hits were shown as being 164 points, so the real amount must have been somewhere between 163.5 and 164.5. And the animation length must therefore have been somewhere between 163.5/132.2 = 1.236 sec and 164.5/132.2 = 1.244 sec.

So we don’t know exactly what the animation length is, but we at least found a lower and an upper bound on it. Other measurements from the chart above give us slightly different bounds. The highest lower bound I could find was 1.24107, and the lowest upper bound I could find was 1.24154; between these two, we have estimated the length of this particular animation with an accuracy of less than half a millisecond!

So as we can see, the formula (*) above isn’t some sort of approximation; it’s the real thing. For any of the measurements shown on my chart, you can take any animation length from the range [1.24107, 1.24154] that we’ve just established, multiply it by DPS and round the result to the nearest integer, and you get exactly the amount of damage that really appeared in my combat log. (Of course, if we made more measurements at still different values of DPS, we could perhaps narrow down the range of possible animation lengths still further. But the current range is already very narrow.)

These measurements also demonstrate that when the tooltip says you got 1.0 weapon DPS from your unarmed main hand, it isn’t joking. If you subtract 1.0 from the DPS in all my measurements, you can no longer explain the amount of damage done in each hit with a linear function of the form DPS · animation_length — you’d have to add a constant term to it.

Defensive stance

Among other classes, my tests in the previous section included two soldiers (guardian and DT) in neutral stance. But what happens if we switch to defensive stance instead? The tooltip on defensive stance says, among other things, “−10% damage multiplier”. This multiplier seems to affect nothing more or less than the DPS value shown in the Attributes/General tab; in other words, the formula for DPS is actually

DPS = (weapon_damage + combat_rating / 36.6) · damage_multiplier.

By default, the damage multiplier is 1 (or 100%), but there might be various buffs or debuffs that modify it. Switching from neutral to defensive stance brings your damage multiplier to 0.9 (or 90%), due to the −10% damage multiplier on defensive stance. If there are several things affecting your damage multiplier, they stack additively rather than multiplicatively. For example, the death penalty debuff includes −1% damage multiplier; together with defensive stance this brings your damage multiplier down to 100% − 10% − 1% = 89% = 0.89, and not to (100% − 10%) · (100% − 1%) = 0.90 · 0.99 = 0.891.

So, here are some measurements of hits made in defensive stance. For the x-coordinate, we used the DPS as shown in the GUI during defensive stance, so it’s already been multiplied by the 0.9 damage multiplier.

Now, here’s an odd thing: the measurements in defensive stance still all fall on a straight line — but it isn’t the same line as in neutral stance (or on non-soldier classes for whom stances don’t apply at all). For example, in the previous section we saw that when our DPS was 132.2 (in neutral stance), our hits were for 164 points. Switching to defensive stance brings our DPS down to 119.0, which is good, as this really is 90% of 132.2 (rounded to one digit after the decimal point). But if you now plug this DPS into our formula (*), and use the same animation length that we established in the previous section (around 1.241 sec), you’d expect the resulting hit to be around 147.7 points. So the combat log, where things are rounded to the nearest integer, should show us hitting for 148 points; but it actually turned out that we were hitting for 150 points.

This anomaly, where our hits in defensive stance are slightly stronger than we expected, was present in all my measurements in defensive stance, both on my guardian and my DT. I’m not sure how to explain it. One way is to imagine that although the GUI (in the Attributes / General) tab shows our DPS exactly as we would expect it given a −10% damage multiplier, it’s actually lying to us and the game actually uses a slightly higher DPS when calculating how much we’re hitting for. It’s as if, instead of having 90% as much DPS as in neutral stance, we actually had around 91.6% or 91.7% as much; i.e. as if the damage multiplier stat on defensive stance was not −10%, but around −8.3% or −8.4%. But this idea, that the GUI shows one thing but internally the game uses a completely different amount when calculating damage, seems a bit too bizarre and improbable to me.

Another explanation that comes to mind is that animation length is different in defensive stance than in neutral. We can calculate bounds on animation length from our measurements in defensive stance, just like we did in the previous section for neutral stance. The result is that the animation length in defensive stance should be between 1.26395 and 1.26463 seconds — about 0.02 sec longer than in neutral stance. Now, this doesn’t strike me as completely implausible; after all, the character’s hands etc. are in a slightly different position in defensive stance than they are in neutral, so it might require a slightly longer animation to perform the hit.

I tried to test this explanation in the following way. If each hit is 0.02 seconds longer in defensive stance than in neutral, then a sequence of 100 hits should be about 2 seconds longer. The combat log shows the timestamp of each hit to within 1 second, so we can perform 101 hits and compute the difference between the timestamp of the first and the 101st hit to estimate the total duration of 100 hits. We’d expect this duration to be around 124 or 126 seconds, since we’ve seen above that the animation length should be around 1.24 or 1.26 seconds. What actually turned out is that the duration of 100 hits was slightly longer — around 134 seconds — which suggests that there’s a small gap of about 0.1 seconds between each hit and the next. I doubt there’s any way to avoid this gap, since it was there even though I always pressed the button for the next attack before the current attack was finished.

If we repeat this several times, the duration of 100 hits will not be exactly the same each time; this is probably partly because it depends on where within that one whole second our first hit fell, and partly because the tiny gaps between hits are perhaps not all equally long. If we want to compare the results for neutral and for defensive stance, we’ll have to assume that the gaps are on average equally long in both stances. Under this assumption, a sequence of 100 hits should still take about 2 sec longer in defensive stance than in neutral (if it’s true that the animation length in defensive stance is 0.02 sec longer than in neutral). But is that really the case? I repeated this test 100 times in each stance and the following chart shows how often I got which duration:

As we can see, the durations in defensive stance aren’t really 2 seconds longer than in neutral stance. On average they are about 0.58 sec longer; I’m not sure if this difference is just a random statistical artefact (I did a t-test and it clearly showed that the difference is statistically significant) or if it really suggests some underlying difference in animation length, but in any case, the difference isn’t big enough to explain the anomaly in the amount we hit for.

So, to sum it up, I don’t have any good explanation for why the hits in defensive stance are stronger than you’d expect. Either the game is lying and using one damage multiplier in the GUI but a different damage multiplier when computing the actual damage of your hits; or the animation is longer in defensive stance but the uncontrollable gaps between hits are shorter and so cover up this increase in length; or there might be some other explanation altogether.

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The Crawling Chaos quest line

January 23, 2013 9 comments

The Crawling Chaos (CC) is a long quest in the Dragon’s Spine and is closely connected to a number of other quests in the playfield. Completing other quests will progress your CC quest, and this in turn will make yet other quests available. Along the way you get to learn a lot about the lore behind the playfield, enjoy numerous references to the work of Lovecraft and Howard, and finally get an epic flute as the quest reward:


(Click to enlarge.)

Doing the CC quest is actually very easy: you just keep doing quests in the Dragon’s Spine and revisiting the various NPCs to check if/when new quests have become available. Sooner or later you’ll get the various parts of CC quest done as well. But judging by the amount of questions both in global chat and in the forums, the quest is giving enough people enough trouble that I figured a post about it might be useful. If you prefer a guide to this quest in the form of a 50-minute youtube video, one has recently been posted by Civilix: link. (See also a forum thread about this quest.)

You get the Crawling Chaos quest by approaching the area around (1116, 839); a cutscene appears and a window pops up with the initial quest description. It seems that some other quests are a pre-requisited for this; I didn’t get this cutscene after completing A Foreshadowing Encounter, but I got it after I also completed The Snakes Who Walk (but no other quests besides these two). In any case, it makes sense to do both of these quests as they explain the story, so I’ll describe them below:

A Foreshadowing Encounter. To get this quest, speak to the dying camel that lies very near to where you ported into Dragon’s Spine from Khemi. The next step leads you to talk to Arch Lector Tiandal nearby (1229, 1289), who tells you about a mysterious swarthy man whom he has been chasing all the way from Tarantia.

The Snakes Who Walk. You get this quest from Alanza at the northern dig site (1266, 1204); the next steps are to look at the captured serpent man in a nearby cage and then talk to Captain Achillas nearby.

After these two, you can pick up the start of the CC quest, as described above. The first step is to speak to the Messenger at (1203, 826), who tells you to start looking for lies in the desert.

A quest named Deception in the Dunes now becomes available from Jamila in the tent at (1271, 1209). She asks you to find a missing excavator named Tawar; he is at (1310, 1051). As you talk to him, illusions of naked women appear to float around him; this is the first lie of the desert and will move you to the next step of the CC quest. To complete the Deception in the Dunes, go talk to the Tempest of Set nearby.

The Tempest now offers you the next quest in the chain, A Shattered Truth. He believes that the strange behavior of excavators such as Tawar is due to the influence of two recently excavated stone tablets, and asks you to destroy them. You’ll find the tablets in a tent in the southern dig site (1063, 258).

A nearby NPC, Khaa (1068, 280), now asks you to cut some wood for him, in a quest named The Axe, the Tree, the Bloom that Could Not Be. Pick up the axe nearby at (1063, 264) and go cut the withered tree at (467, 386). Flowers spring up on the dead tree, which is the second lie of the desert and will update your CC quest. Go to Abasi at (929, 413) to hand in the wood.

Now you can get the next quest, The Double-Walking Tempest, from Tachus in the northern dig camp at (1204, 1042). He needs poison for the anti-serpentman traps and asks you to fetch some poison from the Tempest of Set, who has apparently been gone for some time now. You’ll find the Tempest in a tent near the Palace of Cetriss at (799, 864). The Tempest doesn’t remember talking to you before, which is odd considering you’ve spoken to him several times in some of the previous quests, while he was standing at the edge of the northern excavation camp! Anyway, he gives you a poisonous plant, which you can now carry back to Tachus.

A new quest, Lies, Lies, Crawling Lies now becomes available from Jamila. The next step is to talk to Alanza, who is angry about the tablets you’ve recently smashed; after that you complete the quest by talking to the Messenger, who hints that you will find your answers from a fool rather than from wise men.

You can now talk to the Excavation Guard at (1342, 503); he turns out to be just the fool you’ve been looking for — he got himself caught in a serpent man trap. During the conversation he transforms into a serpent man and becomes hostile. This is the next lie of the desert, updating your CC quest, and it also gives you a new quest, Unshrouded Secrets. Complete it by killing the serpent man and carrying his head to Ankh-Ausar at (1070, 271). He tells you about the serpent men’s morphing abilities and how they can be unmasked by the phrase “ka nama kaa lajerama”.

From Ankh-Ausar you get a new quest, The Serpent Beneath the Skin, in which you will use the magical phrase on Khaa, on the Messenger, and then on the Tempest of Set in the northern dig camp; unlike the first two, the Tempest actually turns out to be a serpent man in disguise (presumably the one you’ve seen near the Palace of Cetriss is the real one). This is the next lie of the desert and updates your CC quest. After killing the false Tempest, you can complete the Serpent Beneath the Skin quest by talking to Alanza and then to Ankh-Ausar.

The resulting conversation with Ankh-Ausar tells you a lot about a mysterious artefact called the Shining Trapezohedron, which updates your CC quest again; you can also get from him a quest to find the Shining Trapezohedron in the Sepulcher of the Wyrm (group dungeon located south of the southern excavation camp), but you don’t need to do this quest to complete your CC quest.

Now you can get the next quest, The Seals of Cetriss, from Alanza. Remember those two tablets you smashed earlier? Turns out that there is a third tablet which could be reconstructed from several pieces that are currently scattered around the playfield. Go pick them up at (1274, 1211), (1148, 919), (1196, 1137), (1007, 364), and (1072, 272). Now you can click the Third Seal of Cetriss at (1159, 410) and be teleported into the adjacent room containing some curious murals and a mysterious flute.

You should have cutscenes enabled for the next step. Click the flute and you’ll see a cutscene showing how the Messenger presented a Serpent Man King with the Shining Trapezohedron; at the end of the cutscene, the CC quest updates again. Apparently the quest fails to update if you had cutscenes disabled. You can now complete the Seals of Cetriss quest by talking to Alanza, but you can actually proceed with the CC quest without doing so.

Now you can approach the Messenger again, but before reaching him, around (1201, 836), you get teleported into a miniature separate playfield called the Dreamscape of Leng. This teleporting mechanic is sometimes bugged and you might need to switch to a different instance of Dragon’s Spine and try approaching the Messenger in that instance again to get ported correctly.

There you will first have to kill several waves of minions, followed by about 10 normal mobs called Priests Not To Be Described. These all have the same name, but they actually seem to be of two kinds: about half of them have very low HP, others have normal HP, so it might be useful to kill the ones with low HP first.

After this a boss named The Spiraling Worm spawns; it has twice the usual amount of HP for a level 85 boss (i.e. 50k instead of 25k). The main thing to watch out for in this fight is his Phosphorous Sand spell, which spawns AoEs on the ground; move out of them quickly to avoid taking damage.

During the worm fight, you can click the flute on the nearby altar to get a damage buff. Some people reported having problems with the flute as they get interrupted before the cast is completed. In any case, depending on your class and gear, chances are good that you won’t have to bother with the flute at all.

At some point during the worm fight, another Priest mob spawns and effectively offtanks you: the worm loses interest in you until it kills the priest; this can give you a welcome opportunity to heal up a bit. (Some people say that this priest is spawned by clicking the flute, but I think this is a mistake; he spawned for me even if I didn’t use the flute at all.)

After you kill the worm, a portal appears and you can walk into it to be ported back to the Dragon’s Spine. Now you can finish the CC quest by having a long conversation with the Messenger, in which you’ll find out who he really is (as if there was any doubt by this point :P) and finally get your Otherwordly Flute as the quest reward.

There’s another quest as a postscript to this whole affair. Having completed the Crawling Chaos quest, move a few steps away from the Messenger (1198, 838) and a window pops up, giving you a quest called One Chance at Redemption to warn Tiandal about the Messenger’s true nature.

There’s one tricky part in the resulting conversation with Tiandal. At some point, Tiandal becomes exasperated with your initial and rather incoherent efforts to warn him: “Seize thine tongue!” etc. You then have several options to continue the conversation: option 1 is “There’s no hope then”, option 2 is irrelevant (you just get the other two options in the next step) and option 3 is “Very well, Tiandal”. Now, in most conversations in Age of Conan, option 1 is always the right choice to take; but here, if you choose option 1 at this point, the quest completes at once and you miss out on a lot of the lore-related conversation.

You should take option 3 instead. This will not only give you more lore information but will complete the quest in a more satisfactory way. (Technically, there’s no difference, of course; in both cases, your quest will be done and you’ll get the same reward — a blue ring with constitution, which might be valuable to a poorly geared character but is otherwise unimpressive.) The point of this quest is to warn Tiandal against pursuing the Messenger, and if you chose option 1, Tiandal remains stubborn in his zealotry, so your effort to warn him off has basically failed. But if you chose option 3, he agrees to give up the pursuit, admitting that he has himself already experienced some curious examples of the Messenger’s abilities.

Categories: Age of Conan, Quests

Sepulcher of the Wyrm

January 13, 2013 19 comments

This is the new 6-player dungeon in Dragon’s Spine. The entrance is in the southeast of the playfield, below the southern excavation site. It contains three bosses and various puzzles along the way. Almost all of the damage you’ll be taking here is physical; the last boss crits quite a bit, the first two not so much. You don’t need archetype-specific perks (resolve, TW, FH, UC, SF) anywhere in the dungeon. You should have two tanks in the group, preferably also two healers but it’s doable with one.

Jarl-Kosh the Lotus-Haunted

He does poison damage. It’s mostly a tank-and-spank fight, with the following exceptions:

Corruptive Blitz is a channeled spell, during which green circles spawn on the ground under random people. Standing in a green circle (or moving through it) gives you a poison dot called Paralytic Toxin; it can stack up to 5 times. What’s even worse than the dot itself is what happens next (see below). So people should spread and keep moving around the room during Corruptive Blitz to make sure they won’t stand in the green circles.

Catalyze: comes after Corruptive Blitz. People that formerly had the Paralytic Toxin dot will now get stunned (Lethargic; the duration of the stun depends on how many stack of the Toxin you had: 4 seconds per stack). Additionally, being stunned like this will also restore some of the boss’s health, which is another good reason to avoid getting the Toxin in the first place.

Consume Lotus Powder: he casts it every now and then, usually after Catalzye; this gives him another stack of the Energized buff, which gives him +30% magic damage modifier per stack. So it’s like a soft enrage timer — at first he’s easy enough to tank, but if you let him reach 3 stacks, he hits quite hard.

After this boss’s room there’s a pair of gears (Illuminating Apparatus), which you’ll need to click to proceed to the next puzzle (see the section on steam puzzles below); but after you kill the second boss, clicking these gears will teleport you to the latest completed puzzle. This will shorten your way back if you wipe on the third boss or die on one of the puzzles between the second and third boss.

Osseous Abomination

Violent Swipe is a frontal cone attack. The tank can move out of the cone, others should be behind the boss anyway.

Ground slam = AoE knockback. Move a few steps away (but not very far, as it isn’t a large aoe).

Cave In usually follows Ground Slam. During this spell, the boss targets a random player and will spawn an AoE on the ground (looks similar to Trembling Rocks from Jade Dugout) on the location where that player stood at the end of the cast. Thus the targeted player can control where the rocks will spawn by moving suitably before the cast is done. The rocks will stay there for the rest of the fight and will do damage to anyone who steps into them, so you don’t want to fill the whole room with them. IME it’s best to try to get the rocks to spawn near the walls and keep the middle of the room clear for fighting the boss.

Seeing Red: the boss targets a random player, runs towards him and hits him. After this he casts Pulverize, which is a self-centered AoE attack. The strength of Pulverize depends on how long the targeted player has managed to avoid beind hit, so if you get targeted by Seeing Red, you should kite the boss for a few seconds (around a pillar — take advantage of the fact that the boss is too big to go between the pillar and the wall) before you let him hit you. You can observe a buff called Marked on yourself during this time; it gets a new stack every 4 seconds and the more stacks you have by the time you get hit, the weaker the boss’s Pulverize will be.

If you let him hit you right away, the resulting Pulverize will be very strong and might even oneshot squishies. So you really should kite him long enough to get at least a couple of stacks of Marked. You can also avoid Pulverize by breaking line of sight with a pillar, or by standing sufficiently far from the boss (like on the opposite end of the room). In fact this hints at a possible alternative way to deal with Seeing Red: get the boss behind a pillar and let him hit you there and do his Pulverize there; you can also run to the other side of the pillar before the Pulverize cast is done; if you positioned the boss well, the pillar will block his line of sight to all the players, so nobody will get hit and it doesn’t matter how many stacks the boss had.

The main thing in this fight is to control where the rocks are spawned (by Cave In) and to kill the boss before you run out of space.

If you try to be upstairs during the fight, he kills you with very strong ranged attacks (Paroyxsm); IME this often happens when a healer runs back after a wipe and tries to resurrect people (and inadvertently triggers the boss), so be careful.

Custodian of Yoth

This fight consists of two phases, and in the first phase the players will be divided into two subgroups of 3 people, one downstairs and one upstairs..

At the start of the fight, 3 players (two tanks and a healer) click the crystals on the corpses (Doomed Tomb Robbers) downstairs and get ported upstairs. There they fight the boss (Supernal Custodian of Yoth). This boss is just tank and spank, but he hits hard and they will need to swap aggro.


Supernal Custodian of Yoth, the upstairs form of the boss. (Click to enlarge.)

The other 3 people downstairs are meanwhile killing adds which will be spawning there (Forsaken Child of Yig). These are sufficiently easy to kill that you don’t require a tank in the downstairs part of the team; or, if you do have a tank, you don’t require a healer. Killing the adds will slowly charge the three colored orbs and eventually make them clickable. Clicking the orbs will CC the adds; the red (i.e. middle) orb even oneshots them. The adds will be trying to attack the Doomed Toom Robber corpses and every time an add hits a corpse, someone in the upstairs team will also take some damage (Tether), so the downstairs team should make an effort to prevent this.

When the boss upstairs reaches 75%, three adds around him activate (Spectral Child of Yig) and start doing ranged attacks on the players upstairs. The people downstairs should click the red globe (Globe of Ruin — the middle one) very quickly, in order to deactivate these adds before they kill someone upstairs. But make sure they click after the adds appear, not before. [See the historical note below for more.] By default they hit the player who ported upstairs first before the fight, so you should always make one of the tanks port first. They don’t have much HP, so you should kill them quickly; meanwhile one of the tanks can kite the boss. The adds can be stunned.

We got another such add wave a little after killing the first wave; IIRC the boss was around 60% HP at the time. After killing this second wave, no further adds spawned upstairs.

When the boss upstairs reaches 25%, he runs to the portal and disappears. The players upstairs should click the portal as well, to get ported downstairs.

The boss now appears downstairs under a slightly different name (Custodian of Yoth) and at full health. This second phase of the fight is just tank and spank, but the boss quickly buffs himself up to +100% damage (Yuggoth Risen), so he hits really hard.

If you’re really desperate, you can try to kite him a bit, but that generally doesn’t work too well — he runs quickly and he has frequent ranged attacks (Censure Outsider). Another idea that can help in desperate circumstances is to use the globes to break his line of sight during Censure Outsider.

By the way, if the upstairs team wipes, there’s no need to release — their corpses will get ported down and the fight will reset, so the downstairs team can rez them.

The upstairs boss spawns a door-like “mob” called Yoth-Gate; we tried killing it at various times but this didn’t seem to have any effect; the boss simply spawned a new one soon afterwards.

Note on the history of this encounter

This fight is one of those notorious situations, all too common in AoC, where Funcom “fixed” something that wasn’t broken to begin with, broke it in the process of fixing it, and then left it broken for ages afterwards. The dungeon was released in update 4.0 and was initially quite popular. The upstairs adds in the third boss fight (Spectral Children of Yig) were hitting extremely hard, but you could oneshot them by having one of the players downstairs click the red orb as soon as they spawned. There were no further add waves upstairs after that, so it was a pretty straightforward fight.

Apparently, killing the upstairs adds with the red orb wasn’t intended, so in 4.0.1, Funcom “fixed” this. This made the fight impossible as the adds upstairs were hitting too hard and took too long to kill now that you couldn’t oneshot them with the red orb any more.

In 4.0.2, they tried to fix the situation by nerfing the HP of the adds upstairs considerably, but they were still hitting just as hard as before. My tank was getting hit by about 1500 piercing damage from each add every 2 sec. My estimates of their HP from the combat log have unusually high variance from one add wave to the next, but as a rough estimate, each add seems to have had around 20k HP. Due to this relatively low HP, it was now possible to kill them before wiping. However, they would respawn very quickly afterwards, and we always wiped before killing the second wave.

In the 5th anniversary downtime (23 May 2013), they finally fixed the fight by nerfing the HP of the adds still further (they now seem to have about 10k HP each) and also nerfing their DPS by 60% (so they are now hitting me for around 600 instead of 1500). This makes it easy enough to kill them. Eventually a second wave spawned, we killed those as well and there weren’t any further waves after that. The health of the boss upstairs (Supernal Custodian of Yoth) also seems to be a bit lower than before 4.0.1 (around 458k to get him from 100% to 25%; before 4.0.1 it was around 545k).

Puzzles

Tile puzzle

This is initially a rectangular array of tiles, but some of them will collapse a few seconds after someone steps on them. The screenshot below shows which tiles are firm:


(Click to enlarge.)

There is a gear on each side that needs to be clicked to open the gate at the other end of the room.

Steam puzzles

This is a circular arrangement of pads around a pillar. If you step on a pad, it activates for a few seconds (you can see a smoky particle effect). (Note that if you keep standing on the pad, it will still deactivate after a few seconds, just as if you stepped off.) To solve the puzzle, you need to get all the pads to be activated at the same time.


Note the jet of steam on the left, and the particle effect indicating
that we stepped on a pad and activated it. (Click to enlarge.)

One way to do this is to have 2 people start on adjacent pads and then sprint along the circle in opposite directions. By the time they meet on the opposite side, all the pads should be active and none should have deactivated yet. Of course you could do the same with more people, so that each of them would have to run an even smaller part of the circle.

Be careful around the jets of steam, which will knock you into the abyss if they hit you. Some of the jets are positioned between two pads, some on a pad. The jets move clockwise around the pillar.

Pillar puzzle

This puzzle consists of four pillars, each with a clickable gear (Illuminating Apparatus) in front of it. Each pillar can be either active (with a light beam shining out of it) or inactive. The goal is to set all four pillars into the active state, as shown in the below screenshot:


(Click to enlarge.)

We’ll number the puzzles (and the gears) 1, 2, 3, 4 from left to right. I’m not yet sure if I completely understand how the gears work, but my impresion so far is that each gear toggles the state of a few pillars (i.e. changes those pillars into active if they were inactive, and vice versa):

  • gear 1 toggles pillars 1, 2, 3;
  • gear 2 toggles pillars 1, 2;
  • gear 3 toggles pillars 1, 3;
  • gear 4 toggles pillars 1, 4.

IME the initial state is pretty much always such that only pillar 2 is active, and the others are inactive; so you have to click gears 1, 2 and 4 to solve the puzzle.

Someone posted a script in global with instructions on which gears to click depending on the initial state of the pillars, though I suspect there might be one or two errors in it: link.

Once you start clicking the gears, adds will start spawning, coming from the area of the previous tile puzzle. The add will keep coming until the puzzle is solved. So you should have one person doing the puzzle and the rest of the group standing on the stairs, grabbing and killing the adds. It helps if you have two tanks in the part of the group that deals with the adds, so that they can keep them under control more reliably.

Warning: sometimes the gears get stuck (and you get an on-screen message saying that). This seems most likely to happen if you click a gear while the mechanism hasn’t yet finished moving from your previous click. So don’t do that — in the worst case it all gets bugged so that you have to go out, regroup and start from the beginning in a new instance of the dungeon.

Quests

There’s a quest (A World of Doom) from Yaqub-Har, to kill the first boss (Jarl-Kosh), as a followup to the quest chain involving the nomad tribe in the southwest of the playfield.

There’s also A Shard of Madness, a quest from Ankh Ausar to get a shard of the Shining Trapezohedron from the ground after killing the last boss.

There might be another quest involving this dungeon, but I can’t remember it now.

Loot

You might have noticed the NPC vendor in the northern excavation site in Dragon’s Spine, selling (purple) shoulders and belts from six new armor sets. It appears that at least some of the remaining parts of these sets drop in the Sepulcher of the Wyrm. The first boss drops feet, the second drops wrists, and the third one drops legs; all of these are blue items. The third boss also drops a purple item, which can be either hands from these sets (purple) or a purple weapon or accessory. AFAIK no chests and helmets have been reported so far. See also the Stygian section on the AoC > TV armory.

Purple weapons/accessories I’ve seen so far:

  • Necklace of Wormfire: 62 hit rtg, 515 combat rtg (fire), 111 protection (fire)
  • Ring of the Vampire Squid: 74 con, 60 hit rtg, 54 crit rtg, 20 immunity rtg
  • Relic of the Oyster Mucus [talisman]: 60 magic dmg, 56 hit rtg, 50 crit rtg, 45 immunity rtg, 60 crit dmg rtg, 245 protection

They also drop items from various social armor sets: Shemite Exile, Shemite Wayfarer, Shemite Mercenary.

I’ll post more details about loot tables once I’ve collected enough data.

More screenshots of House of Crom armor sets

January 5, 2013 8 comments

As mentioned in one of my earlier posts, 15 sets of armor drop in the House of Crom. I collected one of them, Atlantean (the only full plate set here), relatively soon after House of Crom was released, but I didn’t take too much trouble to collect any of the other ones. If it was possible to buy lots more storage space, I wouldn’t mind trying to collect all 15 of them on one character; it would make an interesting challenge 😛 Alas, this is not realistic, and even collecting just 5 or 6 sets on one character would take up more storage space than I can spare for this sort of thing. Even if I delete each set as soon as I complete it and take a screenshot, I still need space for multiple partially-completed sets during this process. So what I ended up doing is to collect just one or two sets on several alts.

Another thing that makes these sets painful to collect is that inevitably some of the items drop from bosses that people rarely kill. In the Threshold of Divinity, you usually find groups of poorly geared and unskilled players that just want to farm rare trophies efficiently, so they skip Shryke, Jotunrodull and Arcanist Khor-nu, who are either too hard, too far out of the way, or take too long to kill; similarly, in the Vile Nativity, most groups just care about the cloaks and thus skip Queen Cao-Polyphya. It took me a nontrivial bit of effort to form/persuade groups to kill these bosses. So I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my guildies who helped me farm Shryke, Jotunrodull and the Arcanist. If I had to rely only on people from global, collecting these sets might well have turned out to be impracticable. The nuissance of forming groups to farm these bosses is also the main reason why I didn’t try to collect any further sets beyond the ones shown here.

This post will contain screenshots of the sets I managed to collect; you can follow the links to old posts for more about their stats and to see what drops where.

Sadly, it turns out that most of these sets aren’t particularly good-looking. What is more, many of them aren’t terribly original either; related sets share very similar designs and often differ in little else than color. Perhaps the idea was to make sure that you won’t look like a clown if you combine parts from two related sets (the stats certainly seem to be designed exactly for this sort of mixing and matching); too bad that you look like a clown in most of these sets anyway, even if you equip all 8 items from the same set 😛 On the positive side, these sets seem to look just as good on darker characters as on lighter ones, unlike several of the sets from the Amphitheatre of Karutonia.

Update: by now we have screenshots of all 15 sets in this post.

Atlantean

This is the only full plate set in the House of Crom. It has a ridiculously high amount of constitution, but no DPS and not much armor.


See also my old post about the Atlantean set and a comparison with other full-plate sets.

Beyond

This is the only heavy set in the House of Crom. It has a lot of DPS, a decent amount of armor, but no HP.


Nebulous

Two PoM/ToS sets drop in the House of Crom. Nebulous is the “defensive” one; it has HP, heal rating, even hate decrease — though I doubt you’ll need it, as this set gives you no wisdom or magic damage whatsoever.


Unutterable

This is the other PoM/ToS set from the House of Crom, the “aggressive” one. It has a very impressive amount of wisdom for a blue set, and also some critical damage rating; but it has no HP or heal rating. It might also be of interest to the occasional DPS-whoring pyjama DT early in his career 😛


See also one of my recent posts for a comparison with other PoM/ToS armor sets.

Spheres

Similarly as for the PoM/ToS sets, the House of Crom also contains two demo/necro sets. Spheres is the “defensive” one, with plenty of constitution but only a moderate amount of magic damage.


Sepulcher

This is the “aggressive” demo/necro set, with plenty of magic damage (in the form of intelligence), as well as hit rating, crit rating and crit dmg rating, but no constitution.


One of the things that annoys me about Both Spheres and Sepulcher is that if you show the headpiece, your hair appears shortened, without any obvious need for it. My necro has the maiden braids haircut and the braids disappear if I equip one of these circlets. The PoM/ToS sets don’t seem to have this problem, as you can see from the earlier screenshots.

Excavator

This is a social set and can thus be equipped by all classes. Unlike other sets, it drops from only two different bosses: the helmet, wrists, hands and shoulders drop from Overseer Olik in the Vile Nativity; the belt, boots, chest and legs drop from Rune-Caster Narvi in the Threshold of Divinity.


It’s a nice looking set, but in hindsight, collecting it on my necro may have been a mistake. It has such a clearly northern look (somewhat similar to what the Vanir in Conall’s Valley and the Field of the Dead are wearing, and unsurprisingly since it’s named after the (Vanir) excavators in the House of Crom I guess) that it can’t help feeling kind of incongruous on a Stygian character. I suspect it would fit a Cimmerian barbarian better :}

Bedlam

Most classes can choose between two sets in the House of Crom, but HoXes get only one. Bedlam is a fairly aggressive set, lacking constitution but with a decent amount of magic damage (463 magic damage; for comparison, the Brittle Blade purple set has 581 and the T3 raid set has 416) and critical rating (178 crit rating; the BB purple set has 205).


I’m intrigued by the style of this armor, which seems to cast the HoX as some sort of feathered savage witch-doctor — not something that is typically suggested by other HoX sets in the game. I might actually end up wearing it as vanity gear on my HoX.

Wells of Night

Many House of Crom armor sets come in pairs, and the assassin sets are no exception. The Wells of Night is the one with HP and stamina, but low DPS:


In terms of appearance, both sin sets are very similar, except for the color; and they are also very similar to the HoX set (Bedlam).

Most of the sets in the House of Crom have names based on the theme of madness and incomprehensibility, inspired by the idea familiar from H. P. Lovecraft’s stories, namely that the Lurker at the Threshold and similar entities are so far beyond the scope of our normal world that dealing with them will drive you insane. In the case of the Wells of Night, the connection to Lovecraft is even more direct, as this exact phrase appears several times in his work (e.g. The Horror at Red Hook, The Whisperer in Darkness).

Lunacy

This is the more offensive-oriented sin set: it has plenty of DPS and critical rating. On the other hand, it has much less hit rating than the Wells of Night set, and no constitution.


Ichorous

The barbarian sets also form a natural pair along similar lines. Ichorous is the one with lots of HP and stamina, but little DPS:


All the barbarian and medium sets are very similar in terms of appearance, again differing only in color. Their trademark feature are the extremely horny helmets, which provide excellent GPS reception even in the darkest depths of the House of Crom.

Insanity

This is the other barb set; it has no constitution but plenty of strength, which provides not only DPS but also armor.



Also note the classy skull on the left shoulder.
That’s from the last person that tried to make a ‘me so horny’ joke.

Membranous

Bear shamans and rangers, unlike barbs and sins, don’t get a pair of armor sets each; instead, each gets a separate offensive set (with strength for BSes and dexterity for rangers), but they both share a defensive set, which has generic combat rating (with low overall DPS) and plenty of constitution. This defensive set is called Membranous:


Inconceivable

This is the BS-specific set; it has plenty of strength, which makes it uniniteresting for a ranger, while to a BS it provides not only good DPS but also more armor than the other two medium sets. One thing that strikes me as a bit unfair is that there’s no heal rating on this set (or any other medium set here); unlike PoMs and ToSses, which do have a heal rating set here in the House of Crom, the bear shamans don’t.


Writhing

This is the DPS-oriented set of rangers. It relies on dexterity, which makes it uninteresting for bear shamans (or indeed any other classes):


Categories: Age of Conan, Vanity Gear