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 Beginner's Guide to the Szith-Morcane

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PostSubject: Beginner's Guide to the Szith-Morcane   Beginner's Guide to the Szith-Morcane EmptySat Dec 07, 2013 5:07 pm

This guide is a little outdated.  The two things of note are the drastic reduction to the Yathrin quest and the even starker absence of other players.  This is no coincidence - though nevertheless, the reality of it places certain constraints on how you will manage to advance. You'll want to go with a build that doesn't rely on much support, as you'll be grinding until your eyes bleed for every step of your advancement.

Specifically, the very painful and awkward early few levels are going to be alot more painful and alot more awkward. There is no real respite for this, it's just going to suck.

Additionally, the Deadpits (roughtly level 8-10ish) are now and even larger obstacle to any characters that rely upon sneak attack, precision, or anything that falters against undead. You'll have over five levels of supreme grindy goodness with no real help or alternative to carry through. Better to just consider another class if you don't have alot of help through this point.

What is this guide?
This is functionally an advice guide to facilitate the mostly solo journey through your first few levels as a Drow in Szith-Morcane, the starting city.

Why is this guide?
Because the consequence of certain realities result in precious little guidance for new players in what will ultimately be a very frustrating experience.  This aims to make that experience as brief as possible, for future experiences to be far easier than my own.

1.) Overview of challenges
2.) Quest lines
3.) The grind
4.) Summary: General tips and roadmap
5.) The meta (tl;dr)

1.) Overview

Welcome to ECL+2. Enjoy your stay.

In short: The Underdark is a community of +ECL races in an environment that isn't quite scaled to them.  Death comes easy and experience gains are somewhat slow.  Worse off, the exp returns scale inversely to your own net experience, not your level (More on this in Section 3).  The bulk of your gains will come from the lore quiz (200exp/question for a possible 2000), and the beetle quest (easy 500), available every cycle (roughly 12 hours).  Depending on how savvy you are, there are a couple of other supplements that can help as well (See next section).

This makes levels 1-3 particularly painful and slow, as most classes will don't reach their 'watershed' point (roughly when they receive their distinguishing traits) until then.  The path gets easier, then a bit harder later on, from there.  Yet, those are different guides for a different time.

- Shadowcraft/Uspir for supporting my work and adding info.
- Amethyst for being a good datamonkey.
- DM Foe for trimming the snark Razz

Last edited by Alkirin on Sun Apr 06, 2014 12:31 pm; edited 9 times in total
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PostSubject: Quest Lines   Beginner's Guide to the Szith-Morcane EmptySat Dec 07, 2013 5:08 pm

2.) Quest Lines

If you've made it this far and haven't done too much with your character yet, then good.  Before you do anything else, look at your character sheet.

- If your Deity isn't Lolth, change it to Lolth.  Either reroll or ask DM assistance, but one way or another, change it.  Your character is functionally playing the part within Szith anyways, so little of the meta-rp changes.  However, access to the definitive quest to push your progress is currently flagged for that value on your sheet.  It's okay if you want to play a heretic, nobody should know by this point anyways - if you know what's good for you.

You need 15,000 experience to reach level 4.  This is worth 2000/cycle of it.  Do it.

Beginner's Guide to the Szith-Morcane Szith_10
1.) Experience
2.) Trolling
3.) Books
4.) Harder experience
5.) Harder experience

6.) Experience
7.) Beetleborgs
8.) Pain

[1] Arach Tinilith

The reason for the opening statement of this section.  The priestess on the second floor has a quest available every cycle.  In it, she asks a series of questions, up to ten, that reward 200 experience for every correct answer. As a catch, any incorrect answer will break the chain and end the quest.  So read carefully and watch where you click, there is 0 room for error.

The questions are asked and answered within the context of Lolthite dogma and culture.  General information on everything asked is available in reading material scattered throughout Arach Tinilith and Sorcere.  It's also recommended to pick up the following set of reference material available at the Barkeep Sei'na NPC just down the road - hard to miss.

Ilythiiri Dictionary
Ilythiiri Traditions
Creation of the Ilythiiri
Maerimydra History
Laws of Maerimydra

Those notes can be opened from inventory for reference if you get stumped. Be warned, a few of the question/answer sets are a bit finicky. Ask for help if you need.

[2] Altar/Circle d'lil Yath lol Minus hp for any non-Lolth-aligned that step in the circle. Don't.

[3] Sorcere

Alot of books with nuances of the setting and lore.  Worth reading.  Nothing worthwhile otherwise until your alchemy is at 15 or higher.  Also, general crafting.

[4] Melee Magthere

More books, including most of the base reading material found in the other two buildings.  The Instructor on the first floor offers a few quests for monster parts, when you reach the point that you are able to defeat them.  Myconids will be the first you have access to on his list, though they are nothing to joke with until you're at the end of the newbie hump.

[5] Miner Evv'nark

There is a miner here that requests ore for an easy exp cash in.  The ore is in places you'll not easily get to, but you only need one ingot.  However, if you happen to encounter any of the other Duergar PCs, they might be willing to lend a hand.  Nice little 100xp boost, but nothing critical.

[6] Meat Vendor

There is an NPC here (hard to see under the tent if your camera is high-angle) that offers a quest for the meat of 10 beetles.  A very easy and quick 500exp per cycle.  This and the priestess will be your primary buffer to push through the early levels.

[7] Mushroom Fields

The beetles here aren't particularly threatening to anyone who generally isn't a caster.  They have a +2 attack bonus (though they like to roll high) and average 4-6 damage per hit.  They'll start off with a solid return of 50xp/kill that will quickly diminish to about half of that before the end of second level.  They sometimes trend to drop lucrative items that you can sell to buy the cheaper +1 equipment.

[8] Great Mushroom Forest

The Myconids have roughly 50+hp with a +8 attack bonus, and trend to agro in pairs.  A boon is that they are unarmed, without improved unarmed strike.  Attacks of Opportunity aplenty can give an edge to melee classes that are feeling bold.  Everyone else, avoid until the end of your level 2 push.  You'll want to be geared for this.

There are also chests out here.
- They are trapped.
- All of them.
- Most just have a minor buff potion for your trouble.  Or nothing.
- Mostly nothing.
The chests in the mushroom field have pretty good loot.

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PostSubject: 3.) The Grind   Beginner's Guide to the Szith-Morcane EmptySat Dec 07, 2013 5:08 pm

3.) The Grind

From what I understand, the priestess quest will serve as much-needed padding leading all the way up through to epic level.  The other quests will still contribute, but ultimately that will be your primary go-to every cycle.

For when you insist on working through the interim (or making up lost ground to a botched quiz), there is the grind.

Beginner's Guide to the Szith-Morcane Mushro10

[1] Szith Morcane

I'm not sure why, but the city isn't marked on this map.  Just remember that it's in the upper right corner, should you get disoriented.

[2] Myconids

Fungus Keeper
Giant/Plant|50hp|AC: 17 |+8 AB|7-8 Damage
- Spawns infrequently, often in company of 2 or more Myconids.
- Almost always casts Stoneskin at CL5, for 50 points of DR/Adamantine (magic ignores this DR)

Juvenile Myconid
Medium/Plant|60hp|AC: 15|+8 AB|5 Damage
- Often agros in pairs, even when they seem to be alone.
- Drops Myconid parts every kill.

5 Myconid Parts can be submitted to the Melee Instructor for 250exp.
5 Myconid Parts also refine to 1 Faint Earth Essence.  Sorcere Instructor will accept these at higher level for additional 250xp.

[3] Troglydite Lair

Trogs are an interesting case.  On their face, they don't seem like much of a threat.  Just beware of Neverwinter's annoying trend of tossing natural 20's like love f-ing candy to mobs that can't otherwise hit you.

Torglodyte (sic)
Medium/Humanoid|40hp|AC: 15|AB: +3/-2(melee), +5/+0 (Ranged)|4-5 Damage
- Tight mob density means you will be fighting 2, if not frequently 3 at a time.
- Will trend to stay at range if engaged at range.  Groups usually have at least one closing to melee.
- The AB on ranged attacks is going to get a little wierd.  Not sure what factors are affecting it, but the numbers aren't consistent.  Listed here are the highest numbers that you are liable to see if you let them shoot at you for long enough.

If the Myconids are still a bit daunting, it's possible to just rush past them to the Trog cave.

Last edited by Alkirin on Sun Dec 22, 2013 12:05 am; edited 5 times in total
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PostSubject: 4.) Summary: General tips and roadmap   Beginner's Guide to the Szith-Morcane EmptySat Dec 07, 2013 5:08 pm

4.) Summary: General tips and roadmap

Beginning step by step for newbloods:

- Find your Darkvision icon in the lower right of your HUD.  You'll need it to see much of anything here and elsewhere in the Underdark.

- From Tier Brieche (Where you spawn in), turn around and follow the path a few meters toward the open bar (on the right, hard to miss).  The vendor sells notes in the misc tab for 1g each.  Purchase all of them.

- Give each of those notes a quick read.  It's good for you.  Keep them accessible and approach the priestess on the second level of Arach-Tinilith.  Approach her properly and answer her questions.  Good luck.

- Head to the market and purchase a +1 weapon of your choosing.  The standard 1k gold you start with should be more than enough.  Maybe buy a few cure lights for good measure, they're cheap. (But don't get used to this.  On average, the UD markets are horrible with prices that are orders of magnitude greater than on the surface.  Use it for early stuff, then get a friend for anything else).

- Try out your new weapon against beetles in the Mushroom Fields.  At least 10 units of meat are needed to complete the quest, however speaking with her will turn in all beetle meat currently in inventory.  All excess will return gold rewards at any time.  Lean on this if you're burning through pots.

Between the Priestess and reward for 10 beetles, you're halfway through the 5000 exp you'll need to reach level two.  Grind if you want or just wait until next cycle.

Welcome to Level 2

By virtue of D&D 3.5's poor scaling, you've literally doubled your staying power in combat.  It means more for some than it does for others, but it's something nonetheless.

- Your 10-2500 (ten minute run to the priestess and 10 beetles) will be the opening of every cyclic routine.

- Beetles will still be worth roughly 50/kill for a time.  You'll notice this going down as your net exp passes non-ECL level thresholds.  It happens.

- If you are bold or if you can find help (clerics and wizards can give you sizable buffs that make all the difference in the world), you can attempt the myconids or even the trogs.  Preference toward the latter.  If you can handle at least 5 myconids, there is an additional 250exp in it for you.

You should find Level 3 within the next couple of cycles.  

In the couple of days to reach this point, you should hopefully have managed to interact with at least some elements of the community.  While there are more opportunities to risk at this point, the bulk of your progress will still come from the 10-2500 each cycle, at a potential 5000 exp per day.  

Happy playing.

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PostSubject: 5.) The Meta (tl;dr)   Beginner's Guide to the Szith-Morcane EmptySun Dec 08, 2013 1:41 am

5.) The Meta (tl;dr stuff)

'Cycles' refer to server resets.  Shy of other circumstance, this is every 12 hours at roughly midday and midnight.  This should potentially allow people across all timezones an opportunity to run their questlines twice a day.

It's not a 'perfect' system, but large parts of it are a consequence of NW2's mechanics extended to a persistent world moreso than design decisions of staff.

Personally, I can appreciate a time gate over alternative progress sinks (ultimately, any system here or elsewhere implements this - some means to make players work through to level instead of awarding the max outright), and I particularly appreciate the twist on it here in Dalelands.

In concept, time gates in general allow for the bulk of progress to be made with minimal investment.  It cuts out the middle man by just setting a wait period instead of filling the gap with meaningless busywork. With less pressure and emphasis on leveling, the hope is for players to interact, explore, and generally enjoy their free time.

Dalelands is structured to support roleplayers doing what trends to come natural.  The [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.] is set up to explicitly support this, with the potential for awards to far outpace the time gate for simply being involved in the community.

This is somewhat undermined by the lack of activity and structure on the Underdark side of things, though it is something that may hopefully change as the playerbase grows.
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PostSubject: Re: Beginner's Guide to the Szith-Morcane   Beginner's Guide to the Szith-Morcane EmptyFri Dec 20, 2013 11:17 pm

(Work in progress, bear with me)

So what happens after level 3?

*Well, thankfully, much of your leveling work is cut out for you.  Between the Yathrin, the Melee Instructor, and the Beetles, you're scoring an easy 2750 (2850 if you snag some Iron Ore for the miner) every cycle.  Bring that up to 3100 when your Alchemy is high enough to trigger the Sorcere quest.

Sorcere Quest: Turn in a single Faint Earth Essence.  These can be acquired by using a Mortar and Pestle on the Alchemy Table while any multiple of 5 Myconid parts are inserted.  Conversion rate is 5 parts > 1 essence.

*Given the linear progression of leveling(your next level costs you 1000 more than the last one), the entire path through to double digits will grow steadily from questing alone if you're patient enough for it.

*Roleplay Experience (RP-XP) follows a sort of odd, sometimes inconsistent calculation.  Though when it gets going, it's rough at 35+ experience every minute if you're active in a scene.  It doesn't sound like much, but it adds up and it makes simply hanging out with others a potent alternative to grinding.

But Alkirin, I'm not patient/UD is empty/I have no friends/etc.

Well, then there's always grinding.  Aside from the Trog caves, you may have noticed the Gol Caves or even the Goo Pits and have idly wondered what they are.

Don't.  They're not really worth it.  There are three areas that will provide the bulk of your exp grinding until you are ready to hit the Dead Pits.

- The Myconids
- Torg Caves
- Bugbear Warrens

That last one is new, you say?  What's that, you were curious about that spot within Szith way off in the corner that I didn't mention before?  Well, I'm mentioning it now.

[Insert graphic when I'm not lazy]

Bugbear Warrens
- Three level cavern consisting of mostly Bugbears and a few Ogres

Gol Rothe
Small/Humanoid|10hp|AC: 16|+ It's 10 hp, who cares.

Medium/Humanoid|35hp|AC: 16|+6 AB|4-6 Damage

Medium/Humanoid|40hp|AC: 17|+5 AB|5 Damage

Medium/Humanoid|50hp|AC: 22|+6 AB|6-8 Damage

Large/Humanoid|65hp|AC: 16|+8 AB|8-10 Damage

Medium/Humanoid|45hp|AC: 25|+9 AB|8-10 Damage

The next few levels should come pretty easy, easier than the first few.  Should be rather smooth sailing until you reach a point colloquially known as "The First Hump".

The First Hump

This is an awkward period that doesn't necessarily hit at the same point for every class.  So here it is in brief:

*The Dead Pits (First Level) are your next grinding point.  The Undead there average an annoying way-too-many (hah, isn't it always) ~150 hitpoints with an average of +10/+12 to their attack bonus and about 8-12 damage with every hit.  You'll frequently be fighting them in groups of at least 2 or more at a time, and some of them will stun on a failed will save after hitting you.

Gravetouched Slave
Medium/Undead|130hp|AC: 22|AB: +10/+5|8-10 Damage
- Likes to Power Attack
- Stuns on failed will save

Gravetouched Goblin Slave
Small/Undead|110hp|AC: 20|AB: +7/+2|5-7 Damage
- Stuns on failed will save

Carrion Crawler
Medium/Undead|130hp|AC: 18|AB: +14/+11/+9| 10-13 Damage
- Stuns forever.  Bad news bears if you fail your save.
- Luckily, there's only one.  Spawns in the back of the far east chamber.

The point at which you can handle that is the point at which you should move on.  This point may come sooner for some than for others, but that is the measuring bar determining how tall you need to be for the next ride.

Even more awkwardly, the Beetle Quest will drop off after level 10, meaning that you'll face pressure to dip into the grind even partially just to keep up the progress you've been running up to now.  Needless to say, this is when things begin to significantly slow down...and it's going to be a long trip to the next grind.

General Tips:
- Undead are vulnerable to Fire, and take additional damage to it.  Wall of Fire has been tested to deal double damage.
- The Dead Pits is a maze of narrow passages.  Use the chokepoints to prevent being flanked.  Even better, use them in conjunction with Wall of Fire or similar abilities to make life easier.
- Protection from Evil grants immunity to the stuns if you get hit.
- Mining!  Around the second and third levels of the Pits, you'll begin to see mining nodes that you can access with a pickaxe (Note: Pickaxe for requires martial weapons proficiency, because love f-you reasons 4noraisins).
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