Harbinger of Madness

General Comments

Harbinger Madness features four quests which I find to be quite fun for a variety of reasons, some decent experience in a level range which really needs it, and some decent loot as well. With all this being said, you’d think that the pack might be deserving of higher than C-Tier, but there are good reasons why I’m placing it here. While most aspects about this pack are decent, they’re just that: decent. Not outstanding or absolutely necessary. It also suffers from the same weakness as Phiarlan Carnival and Attack on Stormreach, namely that it’s only four quests and nothing else.

Experience: 3/5

In terms of experience per minute, the quests are all decent to respectable, ranging in the 1.5k exp/minute to 2k exp/minute range, at least from my experience. On the positive side, level 15 is a level with few other quests, so a whole chain of quests which provide good experience is a big plus. But on the negative side, it is only four quests, and they’re not remarkable experience/minute in the way that Shadow Crypt or Jungles of Khyber can be. All in all, I think 3/5 is a fair score, considering the pack’s shortcomings and its strengths.

Loot: 3/5

All loot here is ML 14 or ML 15. For the most part, I like the loot here, as most of it offers decent enough bonuses without being too overpowering.

There are several items which can be obtained from the quests’ end chests, but don’t worry because I find that the drop rate of all of them is exceptionally high. So even though this loot mechanic is technically “luck-based,” it’s practically guaranteed you’ll find these items if you run them a few times, especially in a group. These items range from underwhelming to decent and include the Infused Chaosrobe, Mindfury Symbiont, and the Parasitic Breastplate. My favorite item from this category is the Turbulent Epee, which is one of the easiest DR breakers to get; it’s ML 14 and has both Metalline and Aligned, meaning that it bypasses most DRs out there.

From the end reward list, we have a slightly different story, with items ranging from passable to a good deal above average. There are also some armors here which are worth mentioning, such as the Beholder Plate Armor and the Beholder Plate Docent, which alongside the Parasitic Breastplate, each have minor penalties associated with them, but have the potential to be upgraded at the Altar of Insanity. In addition to the armors, the weapons here are very good as well. The Axe of Famine has an effect where if you roll a 20, Greater Restoration is cast on you while the enemy suffers a -6 penalty to all stats. Nifty. The Bow of Sinew is one of the best longbows in DDO’s heroic game, with its expanded critical range, expanded critical multiplier with its Elasticity effect (+1 crit multiplier on rolls of 19-20), and its Seeker +8 effect. The Polycurse Dagger is the final weapon of note here, with its Deception, Sneak Attack Bonus, Corrosive Salt (!), and unique Polycurse effect which has a chance of inflicting a random curse on the enemy. Though ML 14, these weapons come close to green steel and are much easier to find.

My personal favorite item here is ML 15 and also comes from the end reward list: the Thaarak Bracelet. With its stacking +20 bonus to health and its Dodge +4%, it’s useful for just about any build which can afford to slot it, and it makes for a great item to equip if you need something generalist for the wrists slot.

Fun Factor: 4/5

This was the first Xoriat-themed adventure pack which Turbine ever released, and back then, the novelty of it made it really stand out. Even today, the dark, bordering-on-insane atmosphere of these quests gives it a unique feel which hasn’t really been replicated it any other pack, aside from its sequel, Reign of Madness.

The quest chain starts with Missing, a quest which reminds me of Resident Evil for some reason. Its premise is that you’re searching for a mysterious, elusive warforged figure, and need to get into his residence. Your obstacle to this goal is that the warforged hired a gatekeeper to his residence, who won’t let you in unless you find incriminating evidence which shows that the warforged was conducting questionable activities such as trafficking schoolchildren. To this end, you must find said incriminating evidence, which takes the form of journals which are strewn about the quest’s grounds. Along the way, you can elect to complete several optional objectives which serve as nice detours which are both fun and rewarding.

Sinister Storage is what I’d say is the weak link of the quest, as all it involves is killing multiple waves of monsters. Not particularly great, but no frustrating and annoying quest mechanics to speak of, so I really don’t mind this quest.

Fear Factory, not to be confused with that metal band, is a somewhat basic dungeon crawl, but I like the atmosphere here. It’s a madness-tinged version of the waterworks-esque environment with which we’re all familiar due to level 2-3 quests from the Harbor. What makes this quest, and a lot of this adventure pack, interesting is not so much the gameplay itself but the story which all feels very cohesive and connected.

Finally, once you’ve completed the first three flagging quests (you can do them in any order, although for the sake of story, I’d recommend doing them in their intended order), you can access In the Flesh, the highlight of the pack. It not only has one of my favorite DM narrations in the game, but it takes place in a rather large mansion which you can explore for a multitude of optional objectives. Most importantly, though, is the end fight which many would consider among the hardest in the heroic game, and definitely one of the most memorable in my opinion. It’s really well-done and requires quick thinking, reflexes, and of course, brute strength as well. This was one of the few endfights which, when I first completed it, felt very rewarding, like a real DDO accomplishment.

Popularity: 2/5

It’s a heroic chain, so what do you expect for its popularity? I still see LFMs for it pop up from time to time, but its problem is the same as the Carnival’s: only one level in heroic, and once people complete it once, they don’t run it again until their next life.

Pricing: 2.5/5

It’s 450 TP for what I’d consider to be an average to above-average quest chain. Like the Carnival and Attack on Stormreach, it’s only four quests on heroic difficulty and nothing more, so bear that in mind if you decide to purchase this pack.

Overall: Lower B-Tier. 

It’s a pack which I find enjoyable, but one that I can recognize is possible to do without. It’s one I would recommend more to casual players than hardcore players, since it offers more in the way of fun, well-crafted dungeons than of game-breaking loot or phenomenal experience. Even if level 15 is a level which could use more content, there are only 4 quests here and the total experience given isn’t that great. But on the flip side, they’re level 15 quests, which most players could use more of.

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