Coils of Ubah kan:
6 player group dungeon
My role and responsibilities:
All gameplay design and implementation, including:
- Greyboxing the dungeon
- Concepting theme and quests
- Designing bosses and encounters
- Magic spells
- Particle effects
- Camera paths
- Assembling NPCs (assigning looks and abilities, etc)
When designing the Coils of Ubah kan - the dungeon being one out of 4 in the expansion - it was very important to give it it’s own feel and have it stand out from the rest. An up to here unknown race to the player – the Serpentmen – are inhabiting these caves, which is why introducing the racial characteristics here was an obvious choice.
Researching on what the Serpentmen was all about (Howard), something genuine was chosen for each boss/encounter, all the smaller encounters leading up to each boss would teach the boss mechanics.
Also, this being a high level dungeon, the trick was to aim for the narrow balance between pattern recognition and intrusive teaching.
As the players progressed through the dungeon they meet serpentmen enemies of increasing importance, and it ends with an impressive boss fight in which they have to defeat the serpentman Prophet himself, who had foreseen that the serpentman race would erase man kind from existence.
Of course we wanted this to be something special.
In order to give this fight the uniqueness it needed and deserved, the players in the group were split up. Occasionally, one player had to face a challenge on his own in order to bring back something to the group, which would later be useful for defeating the boss.
Back in the day, the serpentmen and the humans fought eachother, and mankind almost erased the serpentman from the planet, driving them down under ground to live in caves. Here they hid and waited, as their hatred towards man grew stronger every day.
The Coils of Ubah kan is the present - the inhabited - Serpentman City, this is where the Serpentmen have made a living after having fled from their original caves. Therefore, in this dungeon, the players actually get to meet the serpentmen.
Before the players go here they learn that the serpentmen can play with the minds of humans, which makes it particularly creepy for the players to enter the dungeons for the first time.
The dungeon has 6 bosses of which 5 are serpentmen.
More back story:
Fifteen millennia before the birth of Cetriss—in the wake of the Great Cataclysm which swallowed old Atlantis—Serpent Men settled in Stygia. It was they who built the great city of Pteion, carving its towers from basalt rock. But the race of mankind, with their bronze swords and growing numbers, eventually drove away the Snakes Who Walk. Large colonies of serpents took to live in great caverns beneath the surface of the earth, where they cursed mankind as they hid from their swords. Consisting at the time solemnly of alchemists and sorcerers, the serpents decided to breed a new class; warriors; strong serpent warriors who could wield a blade like ordinary men. And they did so.
The serpent warrior was strong and agile, taller and broader than his brethren. The Serpent Men were now ready to take up battle against the man-race, to retake what was rightfully theirs. But whatever noble cause they had, their actions had sealed their fate, and there was to be no war on mankind. In creating the warrior breed The Snakes Who Walked had committed the ultimate sin; they had taken on the role of their god. Yig, the Father of All Serpents, was no longer father of all serpents, and his wrath was immense.
''The half-human father of Serpents....the snake-god of the central plains tribes—presumably the primal source of the more southerly Quetzalcoatl or Kukulcan—was an odd, half-anthropomorphic devil.''
―H. P. Lovecraft and Zealia Bishop: The Curse of Yig
Yig was one of the Old Ones, and not of this earth. He was a half-anthropomorphic devil, bound to his home planet. To berate the Serpent Men for their blasphemy, he summoned a Messenger to go in his stead. He demanded every living serpent warrior slain, and that the Snakes Who Walk atone for their defiance for a thousand years to come. The Messenger bowed to this, but ignored the orders. Instead, he fed lies to Yig and fuelled his anger to the end that the god would smite the Serpent Men for their odious crimes. A gate between the planes was opened, but before Yig could emerge and lay his fury on the Snakes Who Walk, the Messenger turned his coat and told the serpents what was about to unfold. They had not the means to close the gate, but the Messenger showed them how to block it; and so they called upon a sentinel to guard it. Thus it came to be that the Serpent Men left their first city and settled in a neighbouring cave, deep under the surface of the Dragon’s spine. And the Messenger took to wander upon the face of the earth, where he was to be known among men as the "Black Pharaoh".
Some thousand years passed, and although the Snakes Who Walked could surface the caves and wander among the jagged stones of the Dragon's Spine, they chose to stay in the shady caverns, content with the new city they had built under the surface of the earth. The old city, known among them as the City of the Sentinel, was closed off. Not that the serpents wanted to live there anyway. The vicinity to the open gate and the connection to their former deity was enough to draw any snake insane.