Greetings adventurers, Asterdahl here to discuss the upcoming epic dungeon—Fangbreaker Island. I’ll be picking up where Commander Ander left off in his last blog post and discussing Fangbreaker’s boss encounters in-depth.
Building a new boss requires a tremendous amount of collaboration and iteration. Systems design, fx art and animation work closely together to make sure every mechanic reads clearly and that the strength and effect of each power is conveyed. Oftentimes powers will go through numerous iterations as we playtest a boss with some fx, animations and at times, even whole powers being left on the cutting room floor.
Content design helps support boss encounters by building the dungeon around them, production helps keep this highly iterative feature on track, QA helps provide much needed early internal playtests and environment art works to ensure the boss arena will meet the demands of the fight. Speaking of environment, make sure to read the blog from environment artist Patrick Poage on the making of Fangbreaker’s environs.
Before I spill some juicy details on the bosses themselves I wanted to talk briefly about my involvement with these encounters. Those of you who are avid blog and forum readers may recognize me from my involvement with the Simril festival, masterwork professions, stronghold and Underdark armor sets, Portobello’s campaign and most recently this year’s additions to the summer festival. I mention this because although I did work on the boss encounters in Portobello’s campaign, Fangbreaker’s bosses will be the first endgame encounters I have built for Neverwinter. I want to discuss some of the philosophies I used in designing and building these encounters.
First and foremost, a lot of boss fights in Neverwinter make use of adds—additional enemies—in order to change the pace of a fight or increase the challenge. While there is a time and a place for adds, I’ve steered away from them with Fangbreaker. In their place, phase changes as well as the staggered introduction of new abilities throughout each fight are used to liven up the battles and increase the challenge. Fangbreaker’s boss fights all feel very different from one another, but all three focus on the threat of the boss themselves and their abilities.
Secondly, positioning will play an important role in facing these encounters. Whether you’re a ranged or a melee class, nowhere in these arenas will be safe. More than ever ranged players will find themselves having to move just as often as melee. Being out of position at a critical moment can and will prove fatal. The bosses of Fangbreaker will of course require a tank to keep their attention and absorb their big melee attacks but they will also employ deadly abilities that specifically target other players. In addition you’ll see large AoE indicators in Fangbreaker that may be impossible to dodge out of in time if you were caught unawares.
You’ll need to make smart use of visual cues and master the bosses’ repertoire to ensure you don’t find yourself in those situations. If you do find yourself caught in one such AoE, some of the effects will be unavoidable or they will persist for a short time. This means you won’t be able to dodge from one point inside of an AoE to another point inside that same AoE and avoid taking damage. That being said, if you manage to dodge out of the AoE, you’ll avoid the damage as usual, and if you are hit, you won’t take damage multiple times.
Lastly, more than ever these encounters will require coordination. We’ll be throwing a number of never-before-seen mechanics at you and your adventuring party that will require more than just a higher item level to overcome. I won’t spoil any of those mechanics here but we look forward to seeing you tackle them all on preview or when Storm King’s Thunder goes live!
Without further ado let me introduce the contenders. First up we have death from above—Hati—the Herald of Winter’s trusted manticore companion. He’ll be stalking your party as you scale the ascent. When you finally face the beast expect a pitched battle that keeps you on the edge and don’t be surprised to see the environment used against you.
After a bit of spelunking you’ll find yourself toe-to-flipper with an adult dragon turtle. While possessing no loyalty to Drufi or her frost giants, the hulking beast is happy to gorge itself on a regular meal of captives and expended slaves. When you and your party interrupt its feeding frenzy don’t expect to escape unscathed. While nowhere near the size of Tiamat, the dragon turtle is one of the largest fights we’ve built to date and we’re excited to bring a denizen of the deep to bear against you and yours. This galleon-sized sea monster will bite, tear and slam while also using its ability to fire high-pressure steam. Try not to get burned and keep your head above water.
Finally, you’ll be facing off against Drufi herself, Jarl Storvald’s right hand giantess and so called Herald of Winter. You’ll quickly find her title is no platitude and she brings the full might of frost, snow and ice against you. Wielding powerful rune-inscribed weapons and armor, staying on your front foot against her torrent of attacks will be no mean feat. You’ll need to gather together to have any hope of surviving against the sheer bite of her attacks.
Working on theses bosses has been a tremendous challenge and the whole team has really poured their hearts into these encounters. We look forward to hearing your tales of triumph and can’t wait to see how you tackle these new challenges!
Douglas “Asterdahl” Miller