Delving Into Dungeons

Plagued by gnawing uncertainty.

There are few things as satisfying as crawling through a crumbling dungeon while being besieged by hordes of monsters. Clinging to that last scrap of bread as your hunger grows, but pressing on in hopes of acquiring great treasure and attaining even greater glory. It’s often an entirely perilous pursuit. But that’s not going to stop me. I’ve always been fond of exploring new locations, and I’m glad that dungeon crawlers offer countless opportunities to do so while reminding you of your fragile mortality. Especially when you’re encouraged to build a fresh party of adventurers with each attempt.

As each attempt should then differ from the last.

But even if the same party is maintained with each attempt, failing the last should encourage a different approach for the next. If the RPG mechanics are adequate then the outcome should change. Which doesn’t mean that it’ll be a guaranteed success, but at least a different kind of failure.

Grim Dawn executed this exceptionally well with its challenge dungeons. While your character build remained the same, the dungeon would reset and the Skeleton Key (required to enter the dungeon) would be lost. Forgotten Gods, the second expansion pack for Grim Dawn, introduced the Shattered Realm to stand alongside challenge dungeons. However, unlike challenge dungeons, the Shattered Realm encouraged you to clear each level in the best time possible, and would offer extra rewards if you did so. Obviously Grim Dawn is not a grid-based movement dungeon crawler, but it does utilise some mechanics which would suit the genre well. I’d definitely appreciate a dungeon crawler that introduced content similar to the Shattered Realm. Rather than simply providing randomly generated floors to wearily trudge through.

A delightfully devilish interpretation of dungeon crawling mechanics.

Which is why I’m quite fond of how Book of Demons implemented its dungeon crawling mechanics. Rather than designing a fixed sequence of floors akin to Diablo, the developers opted to utilise dungeon generation mechanics which allow you to decide just how long you’d like to explore the dungeon for. I’ve actually been thinking about revisiting a few ARPGs this year. But I’ve also made a surprising number of purchases (despite not intending to) in recent months. I’ve been enoying Death end re;Quest after completing Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot, but I’m unsure of what I’ll be playing next.

I’ve been thinking about the Early Access for Stoneshard.

But I’ve also been thinking about (the recently purchased) Infinite Adventures. Then there’s Wasteland Remastered, which might not be a grid-based movement dungeon crawler but is certainly a worthy consideration. Especially when I’m keen to begin my post-apocalyptic adventures in Wasteland 2.

Last Epoch was another worthy consideration as that has already proven to be quite a capable ARPG. But it’s so very difficult deciding what to do next when there’s so much that I’m enthusiastic about. Let this post serve as forewarning that I’ll likely be flooding Moggie’s Proclamations with gaming content, and that I’ll be incredibly happy while doing so. There might be some creative content as well. That’s always a possibility. I’ve written before of my nostalgic love for dungeon crawlers and I’ll probably do it again. While I do love ARPGs, I’ve always enjoyed bringing together a party of adventurers with different abilities and talents. I sorely miss party-based RPGs. Which is why I’ve been investing in numerous JRPGs, as they’re often party-based with turn-based combat and those are two of my favourite things.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 8)

Piercing the heart of the fallen city.

You’d think that it’d be difficult to lay siege to an entire city, but it’s actually quite easy if you strategically strike from the sewers like a demented psychotic rat with murderous intent. A demented psychotic rat that binds the recently deceased to unholy servitude, that befriends cannibals, and can seemingly do the impossible. As the militia have been hiding in the tunnels beneath the city waiting for my Cabalist to arrive. Apparently they suffered heavy losses when attempting to cull the twisted nightmarish beasts of the Steelcap District, but I’d wager that they didn’t try melting everything with acid.

It works more often than not for my Cabalist.

If only the opposition understood this simple concept. Instead they had to rely on (much deadlier) Aether and Vitality damage which rapidly depleted her health, but she has the advantage of nearly limitless healing. So no matter how many times they’d beat her down she’d just get back up again.

That said, if the opposition were able to heal themselves that would be terrifying. So I’m glad that they can’t. Nor will ever be able to. Which is why the people of Cairn will triumph over any opposition, as they’ve got an unfair advantage and the outcome is predetermined with the rest being just a formality. Which is a truth that extends beyond video games. I’m just glad that I don’t need to wage an endless war to secure that promotion. I just need to realise that due to working hard and taking pride in my work that I’ll never be considered for it. At least in a post-apocalyptic society such trivial concerns have been abandoned, and instead we’re concerned with real issues like whether we’ll be eaten in the night by wolves. Or swallowed up by a Chthonic Rift when climbing mountains. These are the things that keep me awake at night.

A twisted landscape of flesh and corruption.

I was reunited with an old friend in the grotesque landscape of the Fleshworks, though. So that was nice. It was actually the highlight of my evening as I unlocked an achievement by defeating them once more. Another that my Warder seemingly missed, which is making me wonder how he managed to miss all of these areas and bosses. I suppose that they could have been added by recent updates. But I’ve found no evidence to suggest that. My only other assumption is that, due to my Cabalist experiencing the revised main campaign, she has more resources or recipes than he had at the time.

However, that doesn’t explain missing the bosses.

Not that it hasn’t been fun uncovering new locations, bosses, and quests with this character. That’s always refreshing. There are more quests to uncover, too. Some require allegiance to (or better standing with) certain factions, and will likely become available in either Elite or Ultimate difficulty.

Unless I want to grind reputation with various factions and have them available in Normal difficulty. Which I don’t necessarily want to do. The faction mechanics are one of my favourite things about Grim Dawn, but I don’t see a reason to try and rush them. I’ll be experiencing the main campaign at least twice more if I want to complete every difficulty level. So I may as well passively earn the reputation. It’s not like the faction rewards would be useful even if I did grind the reputation, as I’d need to be of a much higher level to use them. I’ve greatly enjoyed playing (and writing about) this character build, though. I’ve been inspired by the experience and can apply much of what I’ve learned to other character builds, which couldn’t possibly manifest as a several hundred hour investment into Grim Dawn. That’d be ludicrous.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 7)

Where the plants are poisonous and the people are cannibals.

Not all cannibals are monstrous inhuman creatures, either. Some are friendly. They have a village which is peaceful, prosperous, and welcoming to succulent outsiders. I was also hoping that (as they are a faction) they would have faction rewards, too. But they don’t seem to have a faction rewards vendor. In which case, my Cabalist has made yet another questionable moral choice by assisting these cannibals in their pursuit of human flesh. I believe that my Warder made the correct choice. As I vaguely remember something about a cellar full of blood, human viscera, and cooking recipes.

I probably shouldn’t have tried their stew, either.

But there’s no use in crying over broiled human flesh. Those helpless captives would’ve been eaten sooner or later if I’d not intervened. Now it’s just sooner rather than later, and at least the friendly cannibals are likely to cook them before eating them. Those other cannibals may have eaten them alive.

John Bourbon has made some questionable decisions in his life, too. Like saving my Cabalist from the noose. Her second chance is going from bad to worse, and I’m starting to wonder whether (in a previous life) she was partly responsible for the collapse of society. Maybe that’s why they possessed her in the first place. She was already more malicious than they were. Then again, she has done several of these things by accident. So maybe she’s a good person with a poor sense of judgement. Or a very capable idiot. Only time and a mound of innocent corpses will tell. I’m sure that if she retakes the fallen city with minimal casualties she’ll still be regarded as the hero that we didn’t need (or want) but that risked their life for the lives of others. Which means that no-one will remember her questionable moral choices.

Watch as we attempt to poison each other unsuccessfully.

Travelling through Gloomwald towards Ugdenbog reminded me of how threatening (and beautiful) these locations are. Besides the cannibals. Those are mostly manageable if you offer to exchange human flesh for your own continued existence. Not that I would advise that you attempt to eat my Cabalist, as she probably tastes of acid and decay given her time spent around poisonous corpse beasts. You’d most likely need to add a little seasoning before she’s considered edible. Then again, if you’re eating human flesh you’re probably not too fussy about how they taste. On my travels I also took the time to explore the Ancient Grove, which I’d missed (or not completed) with my Warder the first time around. I earned a few unexpected achievements in that dungeon, too.

I also uncovered the Den of the Ancient.

Another location that my Warder seemingly didn’t access. I’m guessing that I didn’t have very much Dynamite at the time I found the bridge, as I don’t know why else he wouldn’t have fought the boss. Unless he tried and failed. That’s entirely possible, but I doubt that I would’ve given up so easily.

With the completion of Act 5 this series is nearing its conclusion. Naturally this would be the exact moment in time that the developers decided to implement a massive free update, which makes numerous changes and even introduces a new dungeon in the Korvan Basin. I’ve no plans to write any additional posts for any attempts at either Elite or Ultimate difficulty, nor any plans to cover this particular update. As these posts would kind of be recycled content. We’d be covering the same locations and events as we’ve covered previously, while the changes are so extensive I’d need a new character build to see them all. I may write an additional post or two explaining other builds I’ve enjoyed, though. But I can’t guarantee anything. It’s mostly dependant on when I revisit Grim Dawn again and for what reason.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 6)

A lengthy engagement.

When approaching the Edge of Madness in the Tomb of the Watchers I encountered an interesting boss. Secreting corrosive poison and wrought from otherworldly fury, but as ineffective against my Cabalist as she was against it. Neither could successfully poison the other, and we stood there (effectively) slapping each other until one of us fell over. It was hilariously frustrating watching each attack be as pitiful as the last, though. I barely had to keep Blood of Dreeg active (for the regenerative properties) and drank few potions, as this engagement proved to be lengthy but not necessarily dangerous.

I’m just glad that poison bosses don’t seem to appear too frequently.

It also confirms that creatures can’t be immune to certain damage types. Or that this boss had no such immunity. It likely had the maximum amount of Poison & Acid Resistance, and my skills were probably only dealing a fifth of their usual damage. But they still dealt damage. So that’s something.

Creatures being immune to damage types has been one of my concerns with this build. That said, it depends on if creatures mirror character resistances or whether every damage type is considered individually. As if they’re considered individually I can still deal acid damage if they’re immune to poison damage and vice versa. Surprisingly I didn’t run into too many problems with the majority of Act 4. I was expecting that to be quite the challenge but it all went rather smoothly. When working towards the Ashes of Malmouth content it became painfully apparent that I need to more carefully consider my equipment, though. As I have few high quality items and the difficulty will only increase as we retake the fallen city. But that’s what faction rewards are for, right?

The vast expanse of the Astekarn Valley.

Unfortunately, many of those faction rewards are either only usable at Lvl 65-90 or require me to grind reputation with various factions. They only apply to a few equipment slots, too. But there are definitely some that I will be prioritising as soon as she is able to use them, and I’ll be considering my options with both Components and Augments. I’ve already employed the use of a couple of Components which grant me access to new skills, with Dreeg’s Infinite Gaze (from Mark of Dreeg) and Noxious Poison Bomb (from Venom Tipped Ammo) further bolstering the damage output of this build.

Not that dealing more damage is the answer to every problem.

A fact that will become more apparent as enemies become increasingly more dangerous. Not that I’m too concerned about the defensive capabilities of this build, as I’ve been utilising the Devotion mechanics to mostly negate the resistance penalty in Elite at the very least. Ultimate will need more work.

I’m keen to take more advantage of the Shattered Realm, too. I’ve not really explored much of it but it’s overflowing with loot. Especially if you can manage to defeat the boss within the time limit. I assume that you also have to survive the expedition, but you may receive any rewards that you were entitled to should you fall within that twisted reality. Not too sure about that. I’ve mostly survived unscathed. Just because I know that I’m only sacrificing additional loot if I work carefully through the content should it prove to be beyond the capabilities of the build. If nothing else I make a considerable amount of Iron with each attempt. So even if it’s not a fruitful endeavour I’m still getting something out of it. But I wouldn’t turn down numerous pieces of high quality equipment, either.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 5)

Possessed once more.

You’d figure that being possessed once would be more than enough for any sane person. However, my Cabalist is willingly allowing the spirit of Solael to possess her in exchange for heightened proficiency in combat. Not that I’d ever humour the notion that she’s sane. In fact, had I the choice, she’s exactly the kind of character that would sacrifice what remains of humanity for personal gain. Thankfully I don’t have the choice, as that would be the perfect resolution for a character who I’ve painted in such a heinous light. She’s a good person really. She’s helped numerous people with their problems.

Undoubtedly she helped for personal gain, but she helped all the same.

I’ve recently discovered that Kymon’s Chosen won’t ask her for help, though. I was originally under the assumption that this may be a result of her actions in the Korvan Basin, but it turns out that they just don’t like Necromancers. Which I wasn’t expecting as I’ve not known Masteries to affect factions before.

As of Act 3 I’ve started investing heavily in the Necromancer Mastery and I’ve fully invested in the Occultist Mastery to gain access to Possession. I’ve scarce few modifiers left in the Necromancer Mastery and these affect both Ravenous Earth and Summon Blight Fiend, while the Occultist Mastery has all of the active and passive skills I would like for this build. Possession benefits her offensive capabilities significantly but does offer defensive bonuses, too. I’m most fond of the additional Chaos Resistance. As I’ve been tinkering with the Devotion mechanics to improve both defensive and offensive capabilities. I could be solely boosting various damage types, but if my Warder taught me anything it’s that everyone is squishy to a certain degree. Especially builds that hide behind pets.

That’s an awfully concerning amount of eggs…

Not that her survivability has been a concern. In fact, she’s suffered few deaths and those are mostly my fault. Like when I discovered the Port Valbury Outskirts and decided that I’d be able to casually wander in and stand some chance of surviving. When the ground is soaked with the same infernal fire present in The Conflagration, and my skeletons desire nothing more than to melt in those very flames. But besides those critical errors in judgement she’s surprisingly hard to kill. Blood of Dreeg is likely to be responsible for that, but having several targets that aren’t me also help to alleviate incoming damage.

I am starting to wonder if I rely too much on pets, though.

On both my Warder and Cabalist I’ve invested in pets. Yet, in both cases, they aren’t necessarily bolstered beyond the initial investment. They’re just there. Soaking damage. But (due to a lack of continued investment) they aren’t able to do so very effectively, and so I do wonder if they’re worth the initial investment.

On the other hand, I’m not sure how frequently pets will be required (or available) in any character builds in the future. I’ve been thinking about either an Oathkeeper or a Demolitionist for my next character. Which does mean that I’ll be going straight back to close quarters combat, but those Masteries seem so interesting that it’s hard to resist. I’m keen on the dual-wielding potential of a Nightblade, too. I’m also wondering if a singular Mastery character could be effective. I guess that depends on which Mastery and whether they have enough skills to warrant investing solely in theirs, as opposed to investing in unique or interesting bonuses in another. I am enjoying my Cabalist build, though. It’s an interesting approach to different problems and it’s certainly a more coherent character than my Warder.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie