Jul 022014

Dungeons and Dragons Online
The only constant is change

Last week – just seven days ago – this space contained the definitive answer to the question “When will the level cap go to 30?” But that was so last week.

Now we know better. Now we have a new Producers letter. From the new Producer, Vyvyanne, a.k.a. Athena. I am not certain whether Athena is her name or is another nom de plume, but either way it is certainly lovely. Fierce, too, as her namesake was known both as a warrior and protector, with an alignment best described as “Chaotic Awesome”.

But I digress. This is not about Athena the goddess. Nor even about Athena the DDO producer, although that is closer to the mark. No, this is about DDO and the new things we’ve had revealed to us by this latest missive from on high.

Before we get into the new information, we need to first unlearn the old. Forget everything in Rowan’s December 2013 letter. All of the things he said were coming are not, if they aren’t here already then we won’t get them till at least 2015 and no guarantees then. Everything that was in Rowan’s letter but has not already been delivered – Anauroch, level 30, intelligent weapons, etc.- have been moved to the Land of Soon™, so do not hold your breath. Player housing too, in fact Cordovan’s response to the question of Player Housing strikes me as the very definition of a soft “no”:

The word “abandoned” is too strong, as it implies that something was started and then ended, with the presumption that it will never happen. That said, there is no current plan to add player housing by the end of the year. As with any of a large number of features, if the right combination of factors fall into place, it could be something that might happen in the future, but the currently outlined slate of development does not include player housing.

Sorry Tscheuss, I answered your question in good faith but turned out to be completely wrong. Level 30 is still coming, probably, unless it doesn’t. It will be here in 2015, unless it’s not.

But there is no reason to focus on the things we are not going to get because we don’t have them, we weren’t owed them, and there is nothing particularly magical about these things anyway. Does the lack of Phaerim somehow make the game worse? I think not.

Besides, the new producers letter is chock full of things that we are going to get instead. And there is no reason to believe that this group of things won’t be as good as – or better then – the old group of things.

Here are the items that struck me as most informative, presented in my usual no-particular-order, barely-coherent manner:


  • So are Heart Seeds, which if I recall correctly, allow one to convert Commendations of Valor (which are BTC) into a new item called Heart Seeds (which are BTA) and thus allow any of your characters to grind CoVs to build hearts of epic/iconic reincarnation (as opposed to requiring the reincarnatee to grind them all personally). [Edit] I have this wrong. See FuzzyDuck81’s comment below


  • More new developers. Welcome NoWorries and Kintani! We now know that developer Severlin is DDO’s Design Manager, which means … I have no idea what that means. Sometimes it seems that each person gets to invent their own title over there. Nonetheless, it is nice to see people coming into the team, rather than the recent parade of people moving off of the team.


  • Epic Orchard of the Macabre. I don’t know why we already knew this was coming. But we did, so this is not a surprise. I’d thought it was in addition to Anauroch but now we know it is “instead of” rather than “in addition to”.  A newly epified adventure area and a new raid: they aren’t going to epify the Abbott, we’re getting something new instead.



  • Update 24 is also scheduled for this year, and will have more new content in the form of “quests”. Yes, that is all that was said, a single word, “quests”. They are playing this one close to the vest. Also there will be a new challenge that involves looting chests in some way.


  • I suspect this is to replace the Mabar event but this is not being stated, I am just guessing. Mabar seems to be flawed at it’s core, and the DDO team historically sidesteps the types of changes that go that deep. It’s apparently easier to build something new than it is to fix something old and creaky. Even if Mabar is not really that old, at least not in DDO terms.


  • On the topic of events, Crystal Cove is going to get the long-mentioned loot upgrade too, sometime after Update 23. The new loot will be in the form of Augments.


  • Before I forget, the topic of racial prestige class enhancements trees (like the existing elven Arcane Archer) came up in the thread too. At one point we were told we’d get one for every race, I forget who said that, I think it was supposed to be part of the big enhancement rewrite. But regardless, it also received a soft but definitive no.


  • There is a new addition to the land of Soon™: in addition to level 30, Anauroch, and sentient weapons, this letter is the first mention of another classic dungeon like the Haunted Halls. I hope it is White Plume Mountain!

It is not surprising that an all-new leadership team would have an all-new vision. It would be more surprising if there weren’t changes. Frankly, these ones seem rather small and tame. Epifying existing content. Tweaks to existing systems. I expect that the new team needs a few months to climb the learning curve and gain confidence. Expect bigger and bolder changes next year.

Like, maybe … White Plume Mountain? A man has to have hope, yes?

One final observation: the letter is signed Athena “Vyvyanne” Peters. So it is her actual name and not a second alias; not that this is relevant to anything, but I find it to be as unique as it is lovely. She must have interesting parents.

🙂 😀 🙂




  9 Responses to “And Now For Something Completely Different: the Latest DDO Producer Letter”

Comments (9)
  1. I’m glad to see in recent times, that bards are finally getting some love, but I only just learnt the current bard system 😉

    I’m sure I had something not so useful to say, but I’ll talk about Mabar instead: Mabar wasn’t that bad … if you knew the foibles, in fact if your party was made … your 4 parties were made of awesome, then even on the most lag infected (not affected, or even effected, trust me) you could fight the dragon with no lag whatsoever 😀
    (You’re right, that also wasn’t a useful thing to say, but it was true.)

  2. Getting Aranoch would be a logical extension of current quests, as the old Netheril Empire ended there and have lots of old broken toys out there, like cities that floated in the skies on mythallar (sound familiar?). Augments for Crystal Cove? Bring ’em on. That’s still a great and generally stable event.

    Players learned of an Epic Orchard when “newbie” Severlin accidentally name-dropped it while discussing other matters in his Armor and Damage Mitigation exploration thread, a very fascinating read if you haven’t seen it, on updates to improve what armor does for real protection as well as a new property, magic mitigation similar to what PRR does. I’m “meh” on Orchard; I’ve never completed the Necropolis on any character, and its funky design doesn’t attract me to try. I’m just there to see (and steal) the tapestries.

    I think you meant that Heart Seeds become Bound to Account.

    My Google-Fu thinks the White Plume Mountain campaign would be a good fit, as its central premise involves the collection of mentioned Sentient Weapons.

    I would be more happy if Turbine were able to spend a few bucks on commercials for the game to attract more people and keep them here. It’s still a great playing world.

  3. The heart seeds thing isn’t that they’re being added – they’re already here, just double click on the comms stack & you can convert 100 to a seed (BtoA, *NOT* BtoC)… what they’re doing is allowing you to, on a level 28 character, have 2 heart seeds as a loot option in addition to commendations of valour (so it has to have no loot ransack etc) – making them pretty much perfectly equivalent to the tokens of the 12 used for standard TRing… devil assault will become more popular than ever for a daily run, since with an EN run you can get 2 tokens of the 12 inside & then 2 heart seeds on turn-in, allowing you to build for 2 types of TR at once, very nice if you have multiple characters or want to get your epic & heroic past lives in one hit.

    For u24, i reckon it’ll be a mix of eberron & forgotten realms ones, maybe more stand-alone quests.. i have a sneaking suspicion it may include the long-awaited next (final?) quest in the Delerium series, but that may just be wishful thinking.

    For the classic dungeon… maybe something based strongly on (potentially a relocated) keep on the borderlands, or temple of elemental evil? Regardless, I suspect it’s going to be another sprawly-type quest, with a (relatively) shorter main objective line but a ton of optionals & bits to explore, considering the pretty much universal positive reception haunted halls got it makes sense they’d want to try & go for something like that again.

    For the new 3bc augments.. i really hope they go with ones that scale with character/item level, they have a nice benefit for any character, and from a programming perspective know they know that bit of tech works so presumably would be less work to just make 3 or 4 in that vein than making a bunch of different ones for different levels.

  4. I will always ask for ‘Expedition to the Barrier Peaks’ because it’s my sentimental fave, but we are not Greyhawk, etc. ‘White Plume Mountain’ or ‘The Keep on the Borderlands’ seem like good calls.

  5. I’m looking forward to the new developments laid out in the production letter. I’m really curious to see how the paladin and armor class overhaul/changes will work. I’m a little disappointed in that the only portion of the Necropolis that is getting an “epify” version is the Orchard itself, I was hoping they would do all of the Necro packs, but oh well. I tend to run the Necro I-III much more than the Orchard itself but that is just because of where my characters are at level wise and through their TR process.

    The changes to the heart seeds being available as quest rewards at level cap I think is a smart idea, even though I’m not even close to getting to that point. I am surprised that they are delaying the Anaroch release, I was thinking the slip of the Orchard was an indication of the release after Anaroch but I guess I was wrong. Makes me wonder what is going to be in Update 24.

  6. Point of clarification: Vyvyanne is not the “new” DDO franchise producer – as in “new” this week – she was Rowan’s replacement and had a letter out earlier this year (I forget exactly when…January? February?), but has been pretty much running silent (see what I did there?) ever since. So it was good to see another letter from her, as it confirms that she is still minding the store (yes, that’s a reference to one of my own blog posts – hehehe).

    And I hope you are wrong about “replacing Mabar” ‘cuz I like Mabar. A rogue dual-wielding Sun Blades in Mabar is awesome!

What do you think?

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