Jul 182014
 

Sorrowdusk Island was really the game’s first outdoor wilderness area. It didn’t have slayers/explorer areas/rares, that came later, but it was huge (for it’s time) and lovely. In many ways, it is the loveliest area in Eberron, exceeded only by the Stormhorns in Faerun.

All of this I’ve known, for years. But what surprised me the other day was the way the differing levels of the wilderness area tie together. They are all on the same map. I’d just assumed that the top of the island and the bottom were really in separate mapping instances, because that’s just how Turbine did those kinds of things, especially early in the game.

But the other day, I ran the quests in here again, for … I don’t know … the hundredth time? Except this time I took a moment to wander around the outsides of the temple and really look around. Not just at the sky, although the sky is nice, but at everything.

Sorrowdusk Sky
The Sorrowdusk sky is one of the more well-known screenshots in DDO. For good reason.

Somehow I had missed that it’s all one seamless stretch of fecund flora and ferocious fauna. And beauty, lots of that too.

If you look at the map (and a really nice map it is too, excellent work Thelallion of Khyber), you can see how the lower level of the island surrounds the upper, making it into a sort of peninsula jutting southwards, and upwards.

Sorrowdusk Island - from Dorim's Map Shop

There appears to be a lot more to the island than just the parts we are able to reach but that is true in most wilderness areas.

Normally I would scale the images in an article like this to make the page (slightly) easier to load, but I hate to remove any of the detail in these images. The island is just too pretty. So I’m posting thumbnails here in the article; click any one for the full-sized version. I’ll also add specific links at the end of the write-up.

One arrives on the map in the south. The first set of quests require moving to the west and northwest, later the team will head east and northeast, encircling the upper area. Or at least as much as we can before hitting end-of-map barriers.

There are several mini-quest areas on the map, ways to get “inside” where there may be a series of crude rooms or caverns or even a mausoleum. One of these, titled “the Troll Dungeon”, contains a path that spirals up. Exiting on the far side of the dungeon deposits one on the upper part of the island, at the extreme north end.

Quests required the team to visit the temple at the southern tip of the upper area. But they do not require the team to visually explore everything. And for some reason I hadn’t. But now I have.

Looking northeast from the temple, you can see the entrance to the Troll Dungeon, off in the distance.

the Troll Dungeon amidst the jungle
The lower entrance to the Troll Dungeon

Looking south, one assumes that the ship Eye of Kol Korran would be visible if only it was possible to see that far.

Looking south from the Temple of the Six
Looking south from the temple of the six.

Looking down from the eastern side of the temple, you realize that you are directly over the Iron Mines.

Looking down from the Temple of the Six
Above the Iron Mines

This surprised me so much that I had to run back down to the Iron Mines and see if I should have noticed the Temple from there.

Looking up at the temple from the Iron Mines
Looking up from the Iron Mines

How did I miss all this? Did I? Did I notice and then file it away in some corner of my mind that has since been refilled with something more recent or relevant? I’ll be annoyed if it turns out I used that brainspace trying to memorize the De La Soul rap in the Gorillaz song Feel Good Inc. Or something of even less use. Although it’s hard to imagine something of less use.

But I digress. The island has always been beautiful. It’s nice to know that it also makes sense, in a way that sometimes gets forgotten.

Foul miasma, yes. Lovely views? Yes. A form of realism and coherence? Yes!

Nicely done, Sorrowdusk Island designer, whoever you may be, nicely done.

🙂 😀 🙂

p.s. the promised links:

  7 Responses to “The Surprising Coherence of Sorrowdusk Island”

Comments (7)
  1. I recently “rediscovered” this one as well, and it got me by surprise too!

  2. I make it a priority to complete all the explorer points here. It was my first-ever completed wilderness when I started DDO. Glad you found the eye-candy as satisfying as I did when I played it initially. That temple-top view is surprisingly vivid.

  3. Big fan of Sorrowdusk here. i always run it when i’m in that range. It’s a great story! More than once i’ve marveled at the visual look of the area, too. DDO has always done the skies really well, and Sorrowdusk is one of my favorites. Coming up to that freaky temple door is always a treat.

  4. Admit it, you missed out on the beauty of Sorrowdusk because you were zerging just to hear “A foul miasma shrouds these ruins. The Temple of the Six lies dormant no more.”

  5. The man in grey, always one step ahead…… You are indeed diverse, talented, prolific….hmmm dandelions are prolific. I have always liked Sorrowdusk, more so in the past when the open zone could kill you. I remember being sooooo intimidated by Co6. My cleric NEVER came out of that one ahead of the game. I have been trying to devise an argument for an explorer “area” using the new variable encounters based on the shoreline of; wait for it…….. Sorrowdusk! Looks like you beat me to it. ….Did I mention quality? Very well presented sir. Oh, you should try the dandelion wine. 🙂

  6. Every time I run it I never have my graphics turned up. Maybe next time I will.

  7. You’re right on all counts. Which makes it all the more frustrating that there are glass walls stopping you from jumping off certain points whether you want to or not. I hate that. But nevertheless, even though that bugs me every single time, I still more or less always run at least the explorer area on every character.

What do you think?

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