Defeating the Shroud is nothing to brag about, not any more, not in years. But this is not a brag, this is a story.
Once upon a time, a brave little group chose to storm the Shroud at level.
- Four of the groups members were veterans, who knew the Shroud well, but those four were on new characters that had never Shrouded before and who’s equipment was of dubious value
- Two of the groups members were freshly returned from a months-long hiatus and were playing characters that were strange to them, with features and builds that are no longer up to date
- Two of the characters had been playing DDO for years but had never Shrouded before. Ever!
We had spent the previous week preparing, but in spite of that, we still lost most of an hour making sure everyone had weapons that would be effective against portals and later, against Arretrikos. It was nearly a night of Auction House, pickings were slim and we had to get creative, even crafting a couple of things really quickly. Note that “crafting” and “really quickly” are two phrases that rarely go together. But eventually everyone was properly kitted, more or less.
An LFM, but only one taker after 15 minutes, another halfling! Welcome halfling friend! Tiring of waiting, we decide to proceed with the army we have, rather than with the army we want. Probably not on Elite though, not shorthanded, not at level. We settle for Hard.
Lots of time spent talking in the raid. Many instructions to relay. One forgets how complex this raid really is until one brings total newbies in. Lots of talking.
But finally it is on.
Marching through the portals, one team running ahead to clean up the Shavarath flotsam that spills through before it can escalate to anything serious, the other team cleaning up the portals themselves. I am on the advance team, with both of the first-timers.
“Why are we standing here?” I am asked, “To clean the portal”. “What portal?” “Just wait.” And sure enough, as I finish, a portal appears, as if I had summoned it. The first-timers are impressed, but really, this is what happens when you run the Shroud almost every night for almost two years.
Part One passes without issue.
But Part Two is different. Much harder to coordinate. We have no problems clearing the maze, and we even manage to handle the four red-names correctly, although not without shouting and excitement. But we have no arcane caster and the crystal is a problem. We clear the Red names once, no crystal. Again, still no crystal. I head to the crystal personally to help out. Third time is the charm, crossbows and cometfalls do the trick. Three times we had to clear them! But there was never any panic, never any doubt. Just a question of how many times we would have to regroup and recharge.
Part Three was extra fun because there were only two characters that could pick locks and they were the two first-timers. We did it, but it was frighteningly close: the Prismatic Wall was out, and had sucked in two Commandos as we placed the last pot of water. Boom! Saved.
Part Four is always where the men get separated from the boys, and this night would be no exception. Lots of talking again, this is a particularly complex sequence.
My favored soul charged in with the melee group to mix hitting and mass cures. The other healer pitched in now and then but mainly was healing everyone else. We weren’t heavy hitters; we did damage, but there was never any threat that we might finish Arretrikos off during the first opportunity. Instead we ducked out of the blades and prepared for the next round.
Once we’d done a complete round everyone understood the sequence. The second round was more efficient, and also more effective: Harry was just short of half down when the round was over.
Third round we lost a meleer, but actually picked up in DPS somehow. Maybe it was everyone getting settled in to the routine? DPS continued to increase in the fourth round too, somehow, and Harry was defeated about halfway through.
We nearly lost it in Part Five. I think we had Harry pinned too close to the force field wall; he just wasn’t taking much damage. It was frustrating. Finally the blades came out and we lost a couple of people, but still, just not taking damage. Several people were losing stats to disease and poison; I had planned to manage that with Mass Heals, but I kept getting interrupted, and the poisons/diseases kept progressing.
Then he killed one of the meleers and escaped. For a second it felt like this was going to spiral out of control and maybe turn into a party wipe. Arretrikos on the loose is usually bad but in this case I think he may have saved the raid. We scrambled to re-surround him, and when we did, it was in a different place that was further from the force field wall. He started taking damage. Slowly of course, he has so many hit points! But still, noticeable damage. Morale improved immediately.
It stopped being a question of IF we were going to win and became a question only of WHEN. And how much it might cost in potions.
Yes it was only the Shroud. Yes everyone beats the Shroud. But still, it felt like a big deal to us. It felt epic! We win! Yay us!
🙂 😀 🙂