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The Endless Paths of Od Nua

 

As development on Pillars of Eternity continues, what would you like to see featured in the Endless Paths of Od Nua right now? Dungeon levels based on different climates, dragons, references to other games, irrational and irritating planar traveling gnomes? You choose.

 

What we know:

  • 15 levels deep
  • Can be accessed early
  • Increasing difficulty curve
  • Located in Dyrwood
  • Starts in Od Nua's Castle
  • Progresses underground

Infinity Engine game dungeons with a similar concept, albeit shorter:

Personally I'd really like to see vastly different levels in the Paths, because I like the constrast of walking from an ice cave-esque level to a desert... underground. You could have really wacky and odd level changes like that, especially if you wanted to play with the whole outdoors-is-now-indoors concept, what with almost the whole dungeon being underground and all that.

 

Something else I'd like to see is your fellow (AI) adventurers once you progress deep enough. This is something I grew to like when delving through the Watcher's Keep - you'd just have adventurers who made it in, but then got stuck at one level or another, and then you could either help them or help yourself to their stuff. Or sometimes just fight them. There was even a dragon that got trapped in there, and you could actually just have a conversation with it.

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I believe there was a thread by Montecarlo asking for strange and weird environments in the Endless Paths a year or so ago. There were some great suggestions (most of which I of course do not remember) but I'll throw out mine here for now. 

 

I'd love to see the Endless Paths to have at least one part where a natural cave system had broken into the dungeon and taken over. It would have spread funky, blue-glowing mushrooms and fungi giving the entire level a dim, eerie, blue glow that casts all in an unnatural light. The main struggle for the PCs here would not be monsters, but the fungi itself, fighting either mind control effects, or decreasing stamina when in its reach, or it simply making all tasks harder, particularly scripted interactions. 

 

I also love your idea of there being vastly differing and wildly improbable environments in the dungeon, like a desert. It'd be a real adventure exploring something like that.

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Yeah, I figured there'd have been a thread before, that's why I put the "right now" in the first post. Always good to continue the discussion without having to necro post in the old thread.

 

I like your idea about the "mushroom level". This would give the players incentive to utilize the different skills / racial traits of the party members as well. In fact, it would be interesting to have levels that favor certain classes or races (darkvision, mental saves etc.), but then follow those up with levels that downright make it harder for the same races / classes. Then you would have to figure out how to use the other party members to compensate for the decreased performance of the affected party members.


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I'd love to see the Endless Paths to have at least one part where a natural cave system had broken into the dungeon and taken over. It would have spread funky, blue-glowing mushrooms and fungi giving the entire level a dim, eerie, blue glow that casts all in an unnatural light. The main struggle for the PCs here would not be monsters, but the fungi itself, fighting either mind control effects, or decreasing stamina when in its reach, or it simply making all tasks harder, particularly scripted interactions. 

 

 

Fungi are awesome.

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"Lulz is not the highest aspiration of art and mankind, no matter what the Encyclopedia Dramatica says."

 

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I'd love to see the Endless Paths to have at least one part where a natural cave system had broken into the dungeon and taken over. It would have spread funky, blue-glowing mushrooms and fungi giving the entire level a dim, eerie, blue glow that casts all in an unnatural light. The main struggle for the PCs here would not be monsters, but the fungi itself, fighting either mind control effects, or decreasing stamina when in its reach, or it simply making all tasks harder, particularly scripted interactions. 

 

 

Fungi are awesome.

 

 

mmm, it's been awhile. 25mph down University on motorcycles at night seemed closer to 80mph through a gauntlet of the brightest streetlights on the planet.  :-  :sweat:

 

Blackreach in Skyrim already has gigantic blue-glowing mushrooms in a dim, eerie cavern/dungeon. But at least Od Nua would be a guaranteed better setting. 


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Blackreach in Skyrim already has gigantic blue-glowing mushrooms in a dim, eerie cavern/dungeon. But at least Od Nua would be a guaranteed better setting. 

 

 

That is also true. So, mud level with inscrutable mushroom people who tend to the the rotting carcasses of former adventurers reanimated by magic fungi?


"Lulz is not the highest aspiration of art and mankind, no matter what the Encyclopedia Dramatica says."

 

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Hades.

 

I would want to see us end up in Hades. A cold, still place where the shades of the dead wander, presided over by the vast, looming form of the god and goddess of the dead.

 

At the bottom, obviously, and with suitable lore attached. But it would be cool if it was a place you could reach just by going down, instead of having to plane shift or such.

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I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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Hades.

 

I would want to see us end up in Hades. A cold, still place where the shades of the dead wander, presided over by the vast, looming form of the god and goddess of the dead.

 

At the bottom, obviously, and with suitable lore attached. But it would be cool if it was a place you could reach just by going down, instead of having to plane shift or such.

 

That would be very cool, there are so many good suggestions that have been mentioned in this thread and others. I would like to see

 

  • access or interaction to a D&D type  Underdark realm and meeting races that dwell in those realms. Maybe parts of the dungeon are occupied by these races
  • a living level of the dungeon, the entire level is a sentient creature either summoned by Old Nua or created by him through some arcane experiment

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” -  George Bernard Shaw

 

"What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead" - Nelson Mandela

 

 

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Hades.

 

I would want to see us end up in Hades. A cold, still place where the shades of the dead wander, presided over by the vast, looming form of the god and goddess of the dead.

 

At the bottom, obviously, and with suitable lore attached. But it would be cool if it was a place you could reach just by going down, instead of having to plane shift or such.

^This! Hades is one of my favourite mythological settings, as it were. All of the sudden I feel a strong urge to play Titan Quest coming on...


*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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Hades, you mean like Hell? Shouldn't it be more difficult to reach something semi-religious as that? And flying high enough takes you to the Heavens? I wouldn't like that at all.

 

As for me... maybe I would like to discover something in likes of an evil community living far below in the depths. Something like the cities of the Underdark, Skavenblight from Warhammer or the Mintwalin (minotaur settlement from Tibia, gosh that was like four score and seven years ago!).

Edited by Messier-31

It would be of small avail to talk of magic in the air...

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In most mythologies Heaven and Hell are places you can reach by walking. Used to be so in Christian mythology as well, certainly Hindu and Buddhist mythoi, and most definitely ancient Greek mythos. Olympus is an actual, real mountain in Greece, and there were several known entrances to Hades – Orpheus went through a cave in Taenarum, Odysseus through one near Lake Acheron, and Aeneas through another one near Lake Avernus. Yep, those are real lakes, one in Greece, one in Sicily.

 

The idea that heavens and hells are somewhere 'out there,' unreachable through physical means, is a thoroughly modern one. The various religions pretty much had to re-interpret their traditions in light of the astronomical discoveries from Galilei on out. So IMO reaching Hades by going down far enough a giant dungeon system isn't out of place at all!

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As with Monte Carlo's thread on the Mega Dungeon, I'm sure there will be plenty of interesting ideas about monsters, ecologies, and locations (including strolls into mythological underworlds).   I would like the design team to consider another type of opportunity that I think could be a rich source of inspiration, not just for the Endless Paths, but also for world building in this and future games.

 

In the real world, a culture (country, what have you) will often build a structure of a type in a location that housed the same function for a prior or conquered past civilization; a church is built on the site of a roman temple, which built over a Greek temple, that was originally a sacred pagan grove.  In exploring the Endless Paths, it would be great to see the uncovering of these layers as the party descends the depths.  A trip down therefore becomes like a trip back in time; both in the history of the site, and in the history of the setting for the game.

 

In most dungeon designs, there is usually reference to past time, or past events, but these hooks tend to be quite static (Durlag's tower is a prime example); something bad happened and now the place is cursed.  Contrast that to how Steven King developed the mythology around the Marsten House in Salem's Lot; the site is somehow spoiled, and that becomes a beacon attracting evil to itself.  

 

The opportunities are there for Obsidian to give the Endless Paths a similar treatment, to layer the site so that revelations become tied to both the story of the place, and the history of the land, and its peoples.  If done right, the Endless paths could, beyond being a really cool series of adventures and side quests, serve as a wellspring  for many future tales told in the Eternity series

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I'd love to see the Endless Paths to have at least one part where a natural cave system had broken into the dungeon and taken over. It would have spread funky, blue-glowing mushrooms and fungi giving the entire level a dim, eerie, blue glow that casts all in an unnatural light. The main struggle for the PCs here would not be monsters, but the fungi itself, fighting either mind control effects, or decreasing stamina when in its reach, or it simply making all tasks harder, particularly scripted interactions.

 

Fungi are awesome.

 

"There's been something different about Steve ever since he came back from his adventures in Od Nua. Before, he was always so serious and boring. But now he's such a fungi!"

 

8)

 

Seriously, love the idea, though. :)

 

What if the mental effects of the cave spores/fungus kind of make your mind turn a simple cave complex into an illusionary maze? Everything could start to look almost exactly like the same corridor/cross"roads," and it'd turn into a sort of puzzle, finding the subtle difference in the correct (actually somewhere you haven't been) pathway that your brain just isn't replicating perfectly.

 

That, or maybe you'd have to find out how to get the various plant growths to react to other things (be it other plants, or fruits from plants, or insects/animals and their pheremones, etc.) to get them to sort of retract and grow in different ways to allow you to access various different pathways. It could be more complex and interesting than just "this fungus is blocking this one corridor, and if I use the right item on it, it'll stop blocking the corridor; this is basically a locked door with a key, disguised as a cave plant puzzle." Not that that isn't an interesting take on locked pathways, but, we've seen it before. I'm thinking more like, not only can you maybe get something to not block your way, but you can actually get access to various different approaches to the next "room." If there's a fight in the next room, for example, you might could approach it from several different directions/positions with varying advantages and disadvantages, if you manipulate the fungus properly by taking the time to study it a bit in your exploration of the cave network.

 

Heck, maybe you can even go all "EFF THIS!" and just burn it away to get past it in one point, only to cause some linked patch of fungus/flora in another part of that cave system to go into some kind of "defensive"/survival mode; maybe it produces some fireproof secretion or exoskeleton that prevents it from thriving and taking in food, for the moment, but also protects it from exposure to external threats. *Shrug*

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Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Honestly, I'm just kind of concerned about the size of the thing. It's absolutely massive, and frankly I'm not sure that's a good thing. Durlag's Tower was a wonderful lore experience, and Watcher's Keep had some really cool and varied gameplay, but both of them felt really long, imo, and by the end I was definitely glad to have them done. Old Nua is set to be, what, three times the depth? If that translates to three times the size, that's a ludicrously huge dungeon. From a pacing standpoint, that just feels like a tad much to me.

 

Now, obviously I trust the devs. They're smart folks, they'll figure something out. But I can't help but feel that Old Nua is as big as it is because they were trying to get more Kickstarter money (a worthy goal, make no mistake) rather than because that's the size they felt would be the most fun.

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Honestly, I'm just kind of concerned about the size of the thing. It's absolutely massive, and frankly I'm not sure that's a good thing. Durlag's Tower was a wonderful lore experience, and Watcher's Keep had some really cool and varied gameplay, but both of them felt really long, imo, and by the end I was definitely glad to have them done. Old Nua is set to be, what, three times the depth? If that translates to three times the size, that's a ludicrously huge dungeon. From a pacing standpoint, that just feels like a tad much to me.

 

Now, obviously I trust the devs. They're smart folks, they'll figure something out. But I can't help but feel that Old Nua is as big as it is because they were trying to get more Kickstarter money (a worthy goal, make no mistake) rather than because that's the size they felt would be the most fun.

But there will be ways to leave and come back to it over the course of the game, which mitigates the problem of "Oh, well, great, I guess I'm stuck here until I plow through this f***ing thing." Durlag's Tower and Watcher's Keep aren't places you're supposed to leave until you're done.

 

(FULL DISCLOSURE: I haven't played through Durlag's Tower or Watcher's Keep myself, so take everything I say about them with a grain of salt and/or feel free to correct me.)

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Ffordesoon, absolutely that's helpful. Watcher's Keep did a better job of that than Durlag's Tower, in that it was very easy to leave WK and come back to where you left off, but you're right in that you certainly weren't encouraged or expected to do so. If the dungeon is built to be explored in bits and pieces over the course of the game, the issues of its massive size become much less problematic. I'm still worried, though, that it's that big because we made it that big, rather than because the devs thought it should be that big. I don't want forced size. I want whatever size the devs think will make the best mega-dungeon.

 

That said, I do think that if we are exploring it over the course of the game, and if that distributed exploration is forced in some way (say, with locked doors whose keys are elsewhere), then unlocking new levels of Old Nua could be a really fun reward.

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That said, I do think that if we are exploring it over the course of the game, and if that distributed exploration is forced in some way (say, with locked doors whose keys are elsewhere), then unlocking new levels of Old Nua could be a really fun reward.

That is exactly the intention. Sawyer has mentioned that the dungeon will out level the party (unless you save it for the end I suppose).


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Personally I'd really like to see vastly different levels in the Paths, because I like the constrast of walking from an ice cave-esque level to a desert... underground. You could have really wacky and odd level changes like that, especially if you wanted to play with the whole outdoors-is-now-indoors concept, what with almost the whole dungeon being underground and all that.

 

I disagree. I like cohesion and rational consistency to my dungeons. This is not to say I dislike fantastic settings, I just want there to be a reason for it. That was probably my chief complaint with Watcher's Keep. It was a schizophrenic assortment of unrelated dungeons. Individually they were good dungeons. As a whole...just lost. I prefer things to go like Durlag's Keep. While even the upper floors contain danger and are more than a pass-through section, they largely serve to build drama and flesh-out the mystique. The comparatively small and vacant upper floors function(ed) as both a teaser of what is to come and a warning to anyone who might not be able to handle it.

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Personally I'd really like to see vastly different levels in the Paths, because I like the constrast of walking from an ice cave-esque level to a desert... underground. You could have really wacky and odd level changes like that, especially if you wanted to play with the whole outdoors-is-now-indoors concept, what with almost the whole dungeon being underground and all that.

 

I disagree. I like cohesion and rational consistency to my dungeons. This is not to say I dislike fantastic settings, I just want there to be a reason for it. That was probably my chief complaint with Watcher's Keep. It was a schizophrenic assortment of unrelated dungeons. Individually they were good dungeons. As a whole...just lost. I prefer things to go like Durlag's Keep. While even the upper floors contain danger and are more than a pass-through section, they largely serve to build drama and flesh-out the mystique. The comparatively small and vacant upper floors function(ed) as both a teaser of what is to come and a warning to anyone who might not be able to handle it.

 

Watcher's Keep was intermixed with different elements and denizens from other planes, along with wild magic. It would feel very strange if you don't like that sort of design, but in my opinion, that was the desired effect.

 

Regarding the Endless Paths, how would you build them using the design choices from Durlag's Tower? There are 15 levels after all, which might make things a bit too predictable with a traditional dungeon layout. I won't say boring, because I'm sure others would have no problem with it, but if the only major changing variable would be the increasing difficulty curve, how well would it work?


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^ Easily. I think most people here who've ever played old-skool CRPGs have either run, designed or adventured in a mega-dungeon.

 

The only limit is your imagination and your game engine.

 

I used to theme mine, for example I had a Mad Lich who enjoyed gladiatorial combat and built the dungeon to amuse himself. He also liked experimenting on his prisoners to make the Ultimate Warrior.

 

So levels 1-5 were the slave pits, laboratories, barracks, arena (including an aquatic one for his pet Kraken), dojo, armouries and stuff.

 

Levels 6-10 were all about the former life the lich enjoyed prior to his ascension, including a crypt for his bride (now a long-undead entity herself), catacombs, tombs, libraries, a temple to the insanely evil deity he worshipped and so on. This level accidentally caved in and exposed a network of caverns populated by a druidical lizardman tribe who often fought with the undead and who could befriend / trade with adventurers.  Being neutrally-aligned, they were especially welcoming to good-aligned clerics, paladins and other smiters of the undead.

 

Levels 10 + (like all good mega-dungeons it was never truly finished) was the personal domain of the lich - his personal chambers, demonic harem of succubi, bodyguard's rooms, a great hall for entertaining (with a troupe of undead bards) and of course the lich's personal magicarium, summoning chambers and phylactery.

 

The levels were all sorts of shapes and sizes, the level with the crypt and lizard man caves being the largest.

 

As for scale, well the tabletop game is going to be different to a CRPG but it was pretty straightforward - don't think about hitting level 4 until you are level 4 (big party) to 6 (smaller party) and so on.

 

I'm going to look for the wandering monster table in the loft. It was all typed.

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Those were the days, truly! :)

 

I also drew all the maps, sometimes in isometric perspective (before CRPGs! :disguise:  ). It took days and days. That element of creativity as a DM was sometimes more fun than the actual PnP sessions. It even helped me to get good at various stuff in RL work. I have much to be thankful for, and this is one of those major defining things, no doubt. Engineering paper was your friend. Any CRPG that can bring back that creative aspect of RPGing really, really well will be praised for ever and ever! (NWN1 and NWN2 certainly came close, but those toolkits really need to get simpler and easier to use.)


*** "The words of someone who feels ever more the ent among saplings when playing CRPGs" ***

 

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I had an A4 graph paper notebook full of hand-drawn dungeon map, starting from a ruined keep at the top, all the way down to some rather hot places. 

 

Then I moved on to world maps and city maps. Found this one in an archive in EPS format, with only the dingbats designating cities borked into rectangles...

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So levels 1-5 were the slave pits, laboratories, barracks, arena (including an aquatic one for his pet Kraken), dojo, armouries and stuff.

 

Levels 6-10 were all about the former life the lich enjoyed prior to his ascension, including a crypt for his bride (now a long-undead entity herself), catacombs, tombs, libraries, a temple to the insanely evil deity he worshipped and so on.

 

Levels 10 + (like all good mega-dungeons it was never truly finished) was the personal domain of the lich - his personal chambers, demonic harem of succubi, bodyguard's rooms, a great hall for entertaining (with a troupe of undead bards) and of course the lich's personal magicarium, summoning chambers and phylactery.

Then, naturally, the lower-most level contained a secret entrance to a secret Umbrella Corporation facility.

 

The Umbrella Corporation is actually just the deepest layer of the earth's crust. (Seriously... those guys have secret facilities beneath EVERYTHING!) 8)


Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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Personally I'd really like to see vastly different levels in the Paths, because I like the constrast of walking from an ice cave-esque level to a desert... underground. You could have really wacky and odd level changes like that, especially if you wanted to play with the whole outdoors-is-now-indoors concept, what with almost the whole dungeon being underground and all that.

 

This is how I imagined it.

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I'm more concerned with the functionality of the mega dungeon.

 

First of all, I hope that if I clear level 1 of all foes, none of them respawns when I come back later. Cause it will be a drag beating them all over and over again since I imagine I will crawl the dungeon at more than one occasion during a play through. And given that fact, I hope there will be a funcitionality so I can "fast jump" to the last level I was at when I left the dungeon the last time. Cause again, I imagine it can become a drag walking through all the levels up and down all the time if you go to the dungeon at several occasions.


I'll do it, for a turnip.

 

DnD item quality description mod (for PoE2) by peardox

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