Easier Said than Done: The Ascalonian Catacombs, III

by northernbeholder

Detha’s path is done, and now there are only two more remaining.  This explorable stuff isn’t so unbeatable, right?  Now it’s time to work with the human researcher, Hodgins.  His plan is … somewhat less sensible than Detha’s “Let’s blow it up with heavy artillery” scheme.

Hey, this is exactly the same as last time!

All the paths start out the same: Burrow -> Trap room -> Spider -> Trap Hall -> Kholer.  Once it gets to that center area, they branch out and have separate events to complete in different areas. If you need a refresher on what to expect in this section, please refer back to Part II.

I don’t have to kill Kholer, though. The marker says to go south.

While it’s true you don’t have to fight Kholer right now, you’re going to have to go through him later in this path. I recommend taking care of him before proceeding southwards, as his death provides a very convenient respawn point – especially since those stairs aren’t exactly safe.

Indestructible gargoyle heads line this stairwell, spurting waves of flame in a predictable pattern. Be careful: There isn’t quite enough time to run down between waves. Add a lunge or dodgeroll as you near the bottom to make sure you get clear.

Once Hodgins gets down the fire-lined stairs and to the center of the room, he’ll say he needs to study the texts and you’ll need to protect him against waves of gravelings spawning from burrows throughout the chamber.  Split your party into two teams: Three people to kill the burrows, and two people to protect Hodgins, because if he dies you fail the event and have to re-start.  Designate someone on the burrow team to back up the defenders if they start getting overwhelmed.  Remember, burrows aren’t affected by condition damage, so classes that primarily inflict conditions are best used in defense.  Also, melee hit detection on the burrows is a bit buggy; for greatest success, strafe back and forth on top of the burrow while spamming your attacks (this will also deal damage to gravelings as they spawn, making things easier for your defenders).

Two burrows will spawn initially, and each one you kill will cause a new one to appear until you’ve destroyed seven in total (watch your minimap to find their location – the burrows are marked with crossed orange swords).  One of the first burrows to spawn will be directly in front of the stairs: do not kill this one first.  When this burrow dies, the new one that spawns summons several Graveling Scavengers rather than normal gravelings and hatchlings.  Go after the other burrows first; the one in front of the stairs should be the fourth one to go down.  Have everyone take down the Scavengers before killing the rest of the burrows.  Once that’s done, Hodgins will open a secret wall and you can do a little platforming to retrieve an item for him.

Okay, now Hodgins has had us go north and is complaining about a broken scepter. It sounds like we have to farm gravelings now?

Not quite.  After Hodgins does his schpiel, the doors to the north will open into a large chamber – the same one where you fought the Ghost Eater with Detha, in fact.  It’s now filled with wandering groups of Gravelings protecting the five scepter pieces Hodgins needs.

At the top of the stairs, just inside the doors that open after Hodgins talks, is an ambush of 4-6 graveling scavengers. It can rip you apart if you’re scattered and unprepared. Stick together and move slowly until they spawn.

The graveling groups are basically the same patrols you’ve been fighting as you move around the dungeon. Just be careful not to aggro more than one group at a time and you should have little trouble.  Alternatively, because the pieces aren’t tied to enemies but just laying on the ground, a very skilled thief can combine stealth and teleport abilities like Infiltrator’s Arrow to retrieve each piece without having to fight anything at all. Once you have all five pieces, return to Hodgins and he’ll cause a new passageway to open in another area. Welcome to the Graveling Tunnels.

Be careful dealing with the patrols in these passageways – you don’t want to end up fighting them too close to the flame traps. The traps themselves are easy to time your movement through out of combat.

The tunnels have a few different branches, but they all end up leading to the boss chamber.  The boss himself stalks around in the lower area, and there are a number of lone patrolling Graveling Breeders as well.  They’re only elites, not champions, but take the time to pull and kill them on their own before going for the boss, rather than risk them stumbling into the big fight and making life a lot more complicated.  Once you’ve cleared out most of the breeders, it’s time to go after the Howling King.

You can melee the Howling King just fine, as long as you’re careful not to stand in front of him when he’s charging an attack – if that howl catches you, you’re toast.

The King has a boatload of HP, and a few moves to watch out for: He will occasionally spawn a few elite gravelings and regular graveling hatchlings as adds, like the broodmothers; he will burrow underground and then rush towards someone, knocking them down when he emerges; and most importantly, he has a howl attack that dazes and does significant damage to anyone caught in it.  Pay attention and make sure you’re not in front of him when he starts charging up an attack.  Once he drops, the mission is a success, and you get your reward.

Congratulations! You are now 2/3 of the way through the Ascalonian Catacombs explorable mode. Next up is the final and, according to some players, most impossible leg: Tzark’s Plan.