There are a lot of classic modules for Dungeons & Dragons. Haunted Halls of Eveningstar was one of the big ones and Turbine has already adapted that quite beautifully to work with what they already had out in their corner of the Forgotten Realms with Haunted Halls as an epic level dungeon crawl that can take hours or can be speed-run a bit to get through a faster. They also got Ed Greenwood, one of the architects of the Realms, the big one rather, to not only guest DM, but to add in commentary about the Haunted Halls module, but also the creation of the Forgotten Realms in general. So when they announced that Temple of Elemental Evil was coming to Dungeons and Dragons Online I was excited. This is one of those modules that we’ve run a number of times with different dungeon masters at the table over the years and had adapted it to run in D&D 3.5 when it was designed to run in Second Edition. It’s definitely a classic module, and while there’s a whole town and explorable area to go along with it, we were only really getting the dungeon crawl from the module in the game, but it’s one hell of a crawl.
The original Temple of Elemental Evil is situated in Greyhawk. The current edition’s Prince of the Apocalypse is taking place in the Forgotten Realms and the Neverwinter MMO is tackling their own version to tie into Princes of the Apocalypse, but Dungeons and Dragons Online got put in the place where the original temple takes place in a plane Eberron doesn’t have access to directly in the game, so to expedite things, they decided to open a portal directly to the Temple itself and forgo the town that leads up to it along with a swamp crawl. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Temple of Elemental Evil is very much an old school dungeon crawl even within DDO and can run up to as much as six hours over the course of the two parts they’ve split the Temple into. You can speed run it a bit and cut this down dramatically, but if you have the time, going through this massive two-part quest is definitely worth the time.
There is a nice variety to the dungeon mobs, but if you’ve spent any amount of time in DDO over the last few years you’ll have seen every mob you come across at least once. They included a level 7-9 version along with the epic level version that runs from 30-32 even though cap, when it gets raised, will stop at 30. On Epic it can get pretty challenging but it is doable even with current level 28 capped characters. The big bonus through here is some really nice gear that you can ultimately customize how you want it to be loaded for your bonuses with weapons and armor that drop in the quest and end reward list. The bigger thing with this is that exploring the temple pays off as the crafting materials you need can only be found within the dungeon itself, so this is one that people will have to run often to get their gear up where they want it.
Aside from being really close to the original layout and progression of the original module, they’ve brought in Wil Wheaton as a guest dungeon master for the Temple. Now before you start screeching that Wil has nothing to do with D&D, he’s been playing the game since he was a kid and Temple of Elemental Evil was one of his first. He’s actually pretty decent as a DM narrator in the Temple, especially compared to some of the DM voiceovers we’ve gotten in the past. There’s a quest in Gianthold called A Cry For Help if you need an example of terrible DM narration. They also added in commentary from Wil that delves into his past with D&D and some of his experiences along with playing and running the Temple module over the years. So while I do expect some grumbling, it’s actually pretty cool and neat hearing another player’s experiences with the same module I’ve run several times before.
So what about cost? Well as a VIP I get access for free all the time. I wasn’t always VIP though so I understand the plight of the Premium or Free to Play player who is going to be plunking down cash for this. The pack itself costs 650 turbine points which fluctuate in cost. This is also 50 points over what you can buy at the lowest price point which is $7.99 for 600. That means you’d have to buy that set of points and then grind out favor on a new server to hit the cost of the pack if you go that route. Not hard to do at all but can be annoying if you want it right now. If you want to buy enough points to buy it outright you’re looking at dropping $20.00 to get 1600 points which leaves you with 950 points left over to splurge on other packs with. So going with 75 points per dollar to split the difference in pricing tiers, Temple of Elemental Evil ultimately costs around $8.67, which is actually pretty reasonable considering what Activision and EA are charging for DLC packs these days.
If I wasn’t a VIP and didn’t already have access, I’d be all over this in a heartbeat. It’s long, it’s a great dungeon crawl, the rewards are well worth the effort, and I can double-dip at heroic levels 7 to 9 and again at epic levels and get some nice experience out of it and favor. Granted right now there’s no favor reward for this one as the faction bonus is well over what you get favor wise for the quest, but the gear and experience coupled with a great interpretation within the confines of what the DDO engine can do is well worth it.