Now that my Devoted Cleric is 60 and I’ve caught up on the handful of dungeons I had missed while leveling, it’s time to start working on the initial end-game stuff. There are still two dungeons that are queueable: Caverns of Karrundax and The Dread Vault. I completed Dread Vault a few days ago after queuing for that by accident, intending to click one of the skirmishes instead. So, Karrundax was all that remained of the launch dungeon content. Meanwhile, I finished up The Chasm zone content and moved into the first expansion content of Sharandar which is absolutely gorgeous!
Caverns of Karrundax was fun, and I love the sense of “exploration” at being in a new area and especially new dungeons with a group. Without going to the wiki and reading the lore, I got the impression the dungeon is set inside a volcano, as there was plenty of molten lava all over the place. That and the dungeon is located in the Mount Hotenow zone, which is a volcanic mountainous region.
The first few trash pulls went perfectly fine, and I went into my normal routine of throwing Astral Seals on as many mobs as I could successfully aim at in order to passively heal my party. Then we took a sharp corner a bit too fast and ran into a large group of mobs with one or more larger giant-type and in the frenzy accidentally pulled the next group as well. Party Wipe! Ouch! We got back up, dusted ourselves off, applied injury kits and off we went again, this time a little slower around that corner!
There are three boss fights in the dungeon, which seems to be a common theme in all of Neverwinter’s dungeons now that I think of it. Pyraphenia the Firebrand first, then The Hand of Maegera, neither of which I can remember having any particularly difficult or special attributes to the encounter. Tank and spank, for the most part. Usually, for me at least, the most difficult part of Neverwinter’s dungeons is all the adds during boss fights. My passive heals generate a shit-ton of aggro so while the Guardian Fighter (assuming the Queue gave our party one at all) might be able to hold off the boss itself, the adds swarm straight to me and it seems nine times out of ten, the dps players are just concentrating on the boss too. That leaves me running in a panic, kiting a dozen or more adds, who are usually able to get in a few swipes. One of the downsides to the Devoted Cleric is that, while I may be able to heal others fine, we only heal ourselves for 40% of the heal value at a time. I’m already squishy, kiting adds, and if I see my Astral Seal has worn off on the boss, stopping to cast it again means having to wait for the animation before I can run again so the adds have all caught up to me and I’ve taken a critical amount of damage just to toss one Astral Seal. This is where having either competent dps players in the PUG who can shift off the boss momentarily to clear the adds or having a coordinated guild group would come in handy for optimal dungeon runs. I just re-joined the guild I played beta in so hopefully after getting to know them I will be able to run end-game content with them.
The final encounter was Karrundax the Red himself, a large red dragon. To my recollection, it’s the second big dragon fight in Neverwinter, the first being the green dragon Chartilifax in the Lair of the Mad Dragon dungeon. I need to stop for a moment and congratulate the Cryptic artists and animators for their dragons. Oddly enough in my MMO “career,” I’ve slayed very few actual dragons. The first was Onyxia in World of Warcraft years ago, and I was immediately disappointed in pretty much every aspect of that raid. But anyway. To my eye, Cryptic’s art team has taken the classic look of D&D dragons we’ve seen and loved so often over the years and brought them to life. Both Chartilifax and Karrundax look exactly like what I wanted a D&D dragon to look like. And the animations! There are so many animation sets that flow together seamlessly, it’s a shame I had to take the time to fight, because both encounters I had the goofiest wide geek grin on my face!
According to the wiki, which I just read now rather than a couple nights ago when I ran the dungeon, says the encounter has four phases. Wiki tactics suggest ignoring the adds during phases two and four and dpsing Karrundax as quickly as possible then cleaning up the adds afterward. This was my first time in and I was not aware of any of the fights. I prefer to go in and just see what’s up; I’ll save the advanced tactics for Elite mode content. I am not sure if the rest of the group was experienced in the dungeon, either. Normal mode is level 59, if I recall. There were two level 60 players, the rest were in their mid- to upper-50′s but one can never assume based on character level alone that the player behind that character is inexperienced — the character could be an alt, you just never know. Regardless, as I mentioned above about adds and my passive healing, phases two and four were absolutely miserable for me. My current build doesn’t have enough dps to fend them off adequately so I ended up kiting for my life and using well over 20 health potions. I was kiting so much that I ended up not being able to toss Astral Seals around several times so we lost a couple party members along the way, which either I or another party member was able to revive. I have another build I’ve decided to respec to, so we’ll see if that also helps my dps a bit. If nothing else, it does add Astral Shield to the mix, which I currently do not have points in at all.
In the end, the PUG was able to down the red dragon though! I stayed up way too late at night doing this dungeon, but I thoroughly enjoyed myself and was so amped afterward that it took awhile to wind down so I could sleep.
Here’s a slideshow of shots I took of the demo replay of the Karrundax fight: