Darkness Falls in Warhammer, full map inside!

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.

WAR's DF map

WAR's DF map

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.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in Dark Age of Camelot, MMO design, RvR, Warhammer Online. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Darkness Falls in Warhammer, full map inside!

  1. Bonedead says:

    Sounds good to me as long as the whole, you know, War thing with the city sieges and such isn’t forgotten.

    If only they’d do away with most Scenarios and add DAoC like BGs.

  2. Robert says:

    Yah, it’s funny how with WAR they threw out all the awesome things from DaoC.

    Three Realms (sure it means more PvE content, and maybe it doesn’t fit with WAR’s story, but so many more options in terms of balance)

    Battlegrounds (They were AWESOME. Thidranki! WOOT)

    Darkness Falls (The thrill to rush in with all your teammembers to go in and slaughter the opposition. The rush to the front lines to PvP in order to hold on to DF. Fun :))

    Mithra’s Tomb (Come one, it was awesome :) )

  3. Chappo says:

    Its a nice idea in theory but wouldn’t tier dropping lead to twinking?

  4. Graktar says:

    I like it . . . mostly. I would change a few things though. First, forget downranking, it’s not going to work. Why? Gear. That rank 40 downranked to rank 7 is still using rank 40 gear with uber stats. He’s going to butcher anything he comes across, even level 11s. Sure they could scale that too, but then the feasibility of the whole process starts degrading. It would also lead to irritating things like players in the T1 PQ ding level 12 and suddenly get de-ranked to level 7. Making players weaker for progressing may sound like a better idea than removing them from the content (chickening) but psychologically it’s counter-productive.

    What do I suggest? Don’t make this dungeon for rank 1-40. The original Darkness Falls wasn’t much use until you were level 30ish after all. Make it T3-T4 only, with the bolster buff set to 36 and no chickening. Yes, level 40s are still going to butcher anyone from T3 for the most part, but that’s the ‘risk’ of going in there at lower levels. It’s still friendlier than the original DF, where level 50s could gank the poor 30s farming tokens.

    Don’t make it so linear. One of the things that was great about Darkness Falls was its feeling of immensity and sprawl. Make the dungeon a giant catacomb, and let us get lost if we don’t know what we’re doing.

    You have to allow for lockouts, or population imbalance will always be a problem. If there’s an open competitive PQ and one side has twice the numbers of the other, it’s not hard to imagine who will win. Let there be special scenarios in each Tier for each side. Every two hours, the number of wins per side per tier is tallied, and the side with the highest total gets control and the score is zeroed. Allow keep/BO control to play a factor as well so that you don’t just have everyone sitting in the scenarios again. Zone portals open for the winning side, and slam shut for the losing side. Losing side members in the dungeon can stay and fight the influx of winning side players, but if they die and aren’t rezzed they can’t get back in. This would mimic the sudden rush when DF changed hands which, after all, was probably the best part.

    Keep the PQs and influence and tokens and all the other things you described though.

  5. Shiro says:

    So if each area downranks/bolsters players depending on their tiers, what if someone knocked me back to the T2 area while he’s stepping on the T3 area and used RDPS on me?

  6. syncaine says:

    Graktar down-ranking would consider gear. Obviously it would be rather pointless if a 40 went to 7, but still got to use the full force of his 50+dps weapon. Gear would still factor in, but like skills, would be reduced by a certain %. And a 12 going to a 7 in a PQ would not be that big a deal assuming they had a group already. WAR is not as level sensitive as other games.

    The layout of course could get more complex, my MS Paint skillz only go so far. I think having side chambers and random offshoots would be a good thing. The original DF was so complex in part because three side connected to it, and the final section was basically a raid dungeon.

  7. I think it has potential for further down the road, but at the moment it would be a distraction from dealing with the core of the game.

    The more content you add, the more people you need to fill it. So if the server caps go up and it can be filled, then yes it would be nice.

  8. Coppertopper says:

    For the sake of some good pve fir the love of god yes put DF in WaR! Your map is awesome FYI : ). And Robert – how true about removing the best parts of daoc – LOL! Even keep battle mechanics in daoc are far far better then WaR :/

  9. brindle says:

    Seems to me there already is a Darkness Falls like dungeon in the game, it is the city siege. A PvP instance that ends in a single dungeon that the winner gets access to for a limited time. Granted, not as PvP focused, but basically a ‘reward’ for the winning realm.

  10. Melf_Himself says:

    I agree with Skar, it sounds good, as long as people come to play it.

  11. Draupner says:

    I love it!

    It would be awsome so be able to play all tier rvr. Join up with guildies and just have fun. Last nite I sat in t3 and the guildes that was online were in t2, boring.

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