The idea of adding a Darkness Falls(DF)-like dungeon to Warhammer Online has been floating around since beta, and has even been hinted at by Mythic themselves. DF was a HUGE success in Dark Age of Camelot, and combined PvE and PvP perfectly. You went in to PvE, but you knew that at any time, a PvP ambush might await you, and that added a great deal to its atmosphere, raising the risk/reward factor considerable.
A straight port of DF into WAR would not work for a number of reasons. For one, you only have two sides, so limiting access based on zone or keep control would be unfair to the less populated side. In DAoC, with three factions, even the underdog could gain access when the other two sides were busy beating each other up. Another tough sell would be the current chicken system. In DAoC, DF was a free-for-all, with the lower level content near the entrances, and the deeper you went, the higher the content and the closer you got to your enemies side. In WAR, with the chicken mechanic, much of the content would be unusable for higher level players, and you would either need to enable higher levels to be able to killing lower level players, or find another way to ‘clear out’ DF once control is lost.
This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, and I think I’ve come up with a system that might work. Granted, it would require some rather significant changes to WAR, but nothing as crazy as adding a third faction or an entire new landmass.
For starters, WAR would need to do away with the chicken system, and instead implement down-ranking. Similar to the bolster effect but in reverse, down-ranking would drop any higher tiered player down one rank below the tiers bolster rank. So for tier 1, a down-ranked player would be rank 7 (bolster is 8), tier 2 it would be 17 (bolster is 18), and tier 3 would be 27 (bolster is 28). The down-ranked player keeps all his skills/morals/tactics, but those would also be down-ranked accordingly. So a 5 second stun in T4 would be a 1 second stun in T1, or something similar. Knockbacks would be shorter, heals weaker, and slows not as slow. This not only fits into the Darkness Falls design coming up, but also opens up previous RvR areas to all players, allowing the war to be… well everywhere, while still giving players at those tiers a fighting chance against their down-ranked opponents.
Assuming down-ranking is in the game as described above, access to WAR’s DF dungeon would only be available through a guild-controlled keep, or by paying a set price for access in the main city. The price of entry from the capital would be based on the player’s current rank, and should start fairly low but not trivial. This is so non-guilded players, or guilds without a keep, to have an option to enter, while not being as ‘optimal’ a choice as going through a keep. For players below rank 12 (tier 1), access is only available from the capital due to tier 1 not containing keeps. Access from a keep would be done through a portal near the vendors at the top, and the location of entry would be based on the tier the keep is inside, so a tier 2 keep places the player in the tier 2 area of the dungeon. Entrance from the capital city would function in a similar manner, but again base on rank. If you are rank 32, you would be placed in the tier 4 section of the dungeon. To prevent zerging, each guild could only send in a warband worth of players into the dungeon at one time (24 players), and the price of entry through the city would increase exponentially if the number of players on one side grows considerable higher than the other.
The layout of the dungeon itself would be very important. So important, I actually drew a picture. As you can see, I’m awesome at MS Paint, someone hire me.
Jokes aside, the basic idea is to have each side start on opposite ends, fight through some quick trash, and meet in the middle for a competitive PQ. Mythic can get fancy with the PQ design (war machines, traps, summoning help), but the basics of it would be something like first to kill 100 npcs wins phase 1, boss comes out, and you have to take him down while dealing with the other side as well. Death in the dungeon would place you back at your tiers portal, hence the importance of a bit of trash to prevent players from instantly rejoining the fight. Unlike most PQs, the winners would not get items, but rather everyone on the winning side would receive a token, and the top 3 finishers in the PQ would receive a bonus 1-2 tokens as well. The tokens can be traded in for gear at the token vendor, just like in DAoC’s DF. For more fun, add in an influence bar to each tier, and give out rewards for that as well. For the final boss area, only players with maxed influence and kill credit for each of the previous tier’s bosses would have entry, and the difficulty of the final boss would be close to a Fortress Lord, with both sides being able to fight it out. The side that deals the most damage and kills the boss gets the reward, although everything would reset if the boss wipes all players from the room.
Finally, the entire dungeon is linked by connecting passageways, so it would be possible for a guild to claim a tier 2 keep, send in rank 40 players, and have those players fight their way to the final boss. Those players would be down-ranked accordingly as they proceed through each tier area, but it would be possible. The dungeon would also bolster all players up to the appropriate tier, so rank 10 players could theoretically fight rank 40s in the tier 4 area, although they would only be bolstered to 36 and only have access to rank 10 abilities. The theory behind this is that no matter your rank, you can join your guilds warband, and the warband could travel together across the different tiers in the dungeon, completing PQs and fighting other players.
This addition would provide added incentive for guilds to go out and capture keeps, and also allow members of all ranks to benefit from said control. In addition, if the enemy comes to take control of your keep, you could already have some players ready to defend, as all they would need to do is pop out of the dungeon. This would motivate guilds without a keep to pick a specific target, and in turn motivate those guilds with a keep to go out and defend their property.
That’s the basics. I’m sure more concepts could be fleshed out and refined, but I figured I might as well post this now and see what people think.