Friday, January 30, 2009

Black Dragonflight Encounter

This one isn't really for my dungeon that I'm making, per se, but I suppose it could be tucked away in a basement or nearby cave if desired. My plan already has a green dragonflight encounter in the last boss tower's adjacent garden, but there's no rule against having two dragons in one place. I'm mostly just trying to force myself into situation where I'm like 'my assignment is to come up with a black dragon flight boss, let's see what I can come up with'. Abstract brainstorming can come up with ideas out of the blue, but I think it's harder (and more interesting) to say "come up with something, but we need to use element X. The rest is up to you."

Preemptive 'get in the mood' ramblings in notepad.exe:

Black encounters have been done (Onyxia, Nefarion, Sartharion), and they tend to be more of the "vanilla" dragon of WoW; understandably, due to lore... The black dragonflight is outright hostile, while a red member such as Vael in BWL was forced against his will to fight the lesser races. Their attacks (excluding Nef's calls) are pretty straightforward conical fire, cleaves, and maybe fears (Nef and Ony), or something like ony's deep breaths. Lots of fire being thrown around. What makes these fights more interesting is the phase shifts or other "non dragon" elements thrown in that need to be dealt with, i.e. Sarth's firewalls (plus the addition of drakes left up), Ony's whelps, Nef's calls and drakonids (and subsequent bone constructs).

Looking on Wowiki, I can see that in the game, there are two 'unused' black dragon flight members that we have yet to defeat, and would make ideal candidates, since they're already in the game.

  • Sabellian (ony and nef's borther?) is a quest giver shown in human form that gives out quests pertaining to Gruul and his sons (who he despises for killing his people).
  • Kalaran, a quest giver in Thorium Point, tells some lies pertaining to the dark iron dwarves. Kalaran was also the name of the original character in EQ of Alex Afrasiabi (whom you may know of as Furor/Foror).

At the culmination of each of these quest chains, both reveal their true selves. Sabellian battles Goc in dragon form (Rexxar takes his place hordeside), and Kalaran flies off after giving away some items, to gather forces to ransack the Searing Gorge, apparently (it never actually happens). Rexxar has been 'repurposed' in The Burning Crusade to serve as a quest giver in the Blade's Edge Mountains for the horde (and removed from the now-pointless Onyxia attunement chain), so it serves that these two (especially Kalaran, in the old world), could also receive the same treatment.

Kalaran, the encounter:


He’s a black dragon. Big and Black. Black and Large. Whatever. The encounter itself is a ranged fight, where you don’t actually get a chance to melee him until the last phase. He’s in a cave, with a 20 yard moat of lava in between him and the raid. In addition, there’s a waterfall of lava flowing over the ledge where he resides. Like, the whole encounter takes place in a big grotto, but the dragon himself is in a smaller cutout behind a waterfall of lava. The lavafall itself is wide, about 60 yards across. There are ruined catapults strewn about on the floor of the main area, where people have tried (and failed) to assault him previously.

Side View:

Head on View:

The Gimmick: As the fight rages on, boulders will fall from the ceiling. These either:
  1. fall into the catapult loadout baskets, which would be entirely too convenient and lame
  2. need to be transported by one or two players to a catapult to be launched
  3. break into pieces that are small enough that they can be ‘looted’ by individual players, and be put into the basket for launching.
The design problem here is figuring out how to make it not seem so lame that you’re loading up catapults out of crap that falls from the ceiling. I like the idea of the boulders remaining large, and requiring two people to work together to move them (more on that in a sec). Keep it simple… there are many catapults in various stages of disarray, but three that are the main Left, Middle, and Right ones. The teams of two coordinate to load up a catapult when they can, and the raid waits until the proper moment to fire it. The thing is, you’re not aiming to hit the dragon in the face with it, you throw it ABOVE him, into the path of the streaming lava, and that creates a window in the barrier he’s hiding behind, and gives you a brief moment to actually DPS him, before the boulder is dissolved in the lava flow, and the window closes again.

For that reason alone, I think it would be best to have BIG boulders that would actually last for a few seconds. Or maybe the boulders are big enough that they just stay up there, averting the lava for the rest of the encounter? If you had individual people collecting little pebbles, then when you threw them up there they’d just rain back down… hardly big enough to part a lava stream.

The whole other option is to just have it not be a lava stream at all, but instead just a ravine or moat of lava across which DPS has to attack using ranged spells. The idea being that you need to keep him moving back and forth becuase he chucks red hot blasts that deal spash damage or something of that sort. The melee would need something to do, as well, so dragonkin are spawned throughout the encounter to keep the tank and melee on them. Hmmm... actually... dragonkin are the default standbys for dragon encounters, so maybe Kalaran has something different. In his earlier quest chains, he fought against the iron dwarves. Perhaps now he has a band of unwilling followers who he’s subjugated. They serve him in his lair, and in order to not be cooked by the heat in the chamber, he’s granted them a certain degree of spell immunity. They run from nooks behind the raid towards the lava moat, carrying various charms and shouting about “sacrificing themselves to serve their master”. They need to be stunlocked and melee’d down (spell immunity, rite?) before they can leap into the moat, or it triggers a wave of lava to crash up and over the raid, for massive AoE fire damage.

This whole time, ranged DPS is trying to nuke through the slots created by the catapults (or just nuking as they move back and forth along the ledge face, if we skip the catapult mechanic), while avoiding the crap falling from the ceiling, and targeted cones of lava from Kalaran’s mouth. I kinda like the idea that he shoots a thin stream of lava at a target, and that stream then settles onto the floor, creating a little 2 foot wide creek of lava that needs to be hopped over as you move… but if that’s creating too busy of a ‘workfloor’ then fuggit. He just shoots fireballs once in a while that land for splash damage.

This all continues until a certain percentage of health, when phase two begins. Kalaran leaps across the ravine, and engages the raid toe to toe. The traditional tank steps in to grab threat (aggro wipe), and your typical dragon tank and spank ensues. This gives melee a chance to ‘get in on the action’ directly, or we can continue to have our dark iron shamans leaping for the ravine. Maybe as a shift of pace, when he comes over, they would no longer want to hurl themselves into the lava (as it would splash lava on their master as well), but instead choose to come out in full force and engage the interlopers head on… interfering with healers and spell locking mages, etc.

At this point, the fight can flip flop back between these two phases, at various percentages of his health pool, or just play out... phase 1, phase 2, collect loot.


Cronoo said...

I like the idea of having the adds and the catapults simultaneously. The melee can focus the adds while the range load and launch the catapults. Both types are equally occupied.
But in phase 2, the melee can attack the boss while the adds are sent in (still with their spell immunity)to assault the defenseless casters. So the melee would be stuck dealing with the adds and the casters are still on the boss.
The only real difference in the phases would be the removal of the catapults and the need for a tank.
It just doesn't seem as epic as phase 1.

Anonymous said...

This may seems silly, but what about flinging melee across with lava with the catapults, only instead of the typical vehicle UI someone else has to aim without having the point of view that would usually be used.

Rich said...

flinging the melee across would leave them stuck over there, but the idea of chucking people around on the map could be fun ;)

Cronoo said...

I can see some dickbag druid intentionally shooting rogues into the lava though lol.

Anonymous said...

It would always be a druid doing that to.

Damn druids.

Rich said... other news, I'm totally going to have to work "dickbag" into my day to day conversations.

The longer you think about, the better it becomes. DICKBAG!

Brian W. Smith said...

I think you could work with that idea of flinging Melee across the ravine, where you'd have to flip the tank and several melee, but would still have to use the original mechanic that you suggested of diverting or stopping the lave for a short time.

While in that area, I'm sure you can find a way of keeping them safe until LOS is opened again for healing. Maybe even put a cap on how many melee can go over or something.

But yah that mechanic of tossing people all over the place sounds fun, being a tank on Thad in Naxx is great, because of the adds doing the tank toss every few seconds. Nothing like 700 pounds of plate armor being tossed like so much confetti.

Anonymous said...

He's a black dragon. Make the encounter crazy difficult.

How about lava splashes at random and burns the raid, leaving a "Increases fire damage taken" debuff that stacks, thus making it so DPS needs to be quick.

During this phase melee can be used to load boulders (and deal with adds).

Only problem: If he can't reach you and you can hurt him, due to current mechanics, he'll evade bug. Gotta figure something out.

And he needs to take flight. How about at 5% he just flies out of the cave and the loot he was guarding is left? (Also making it possible for an additional encounter)