CitW is the first instance in DDO of the players invading a god's domain and trying to mess **** up. It should showcase the power a deity has over their domain, and just how much raw power they have at their disposal, not how many oodles of minions they can call upon to harass us.
First and foremost, Lolth is a goddess of chaos, and while the arrangement of the Demonweb kind of indicates that, nothing really emphasizes it; therefore, chaos should be a priority.
Work on the coding a bit for movable environment interacting with players. The devs initially said (around the time that Assault on Stormreach came out) that they didn't have the tech for this. Since then we've gotten a few pieces in Cannith, but it is kind of choppy. Still, we could probably get land masses that move apart, rise or fall, with the goals being to both separate the party in places, and to make the actual process of moving through the raid space unpredictable.
In place of movable terrain, or possibly in addition to, Lolth could conjure barriers to split the party or prevent progress, or to try and break Anna away from the group (I don't like babysitting, but I do feel that the idea of entering Lolth's domain to rescue an NPC is a decent one). These could simply be walls that pop up, or are in place to impede progress, or mini-mazes. Players could be forced to either find routes around them, or to shake Lolth's willpower holding them in place in order to progress. On that latter point, Lolth's Will could be expressed as those orbs we destroy in the raid, but with more of them scattered about--destroy those to break her concentration and move forward. Conversely, bringing Lolth's HP down to certain tiers could have that effect as well.
Mistress of her Domain
While I dislike the implementation of The Hand, I do like that it shows off the sort of power Lolth wields over her plane: she can quite literally reach out of the skies and brush nuisances like us aside. The problems with the hand are that it persists for too long, is very annoying, and the only way to deal with it is to have one person hold its aggro, since we can't effectively harm it.
A better implementation would be for The Hand to pop in periodically, knock some players around, cast some spells, and then disappear...or disappear after we've dealt enough damage for her fingers to smart. Rather than knocking players down (and I can't believe I'm suggesting this), it should function similar to an air elemental or giant, knocking players back (but with real saves to resist these effects), could possibly stand to Dispel Magic, in addition to its Energy Drain ability, and probably hurl boulders at the group as well.
Speaking of which, I'm not all that impressed with Lolth's only form of attack being her blasting lazer beams out of her head. I'd be more impressed if pieces of the environment got flung at us (a la Darth Vader fighting Luke late in their battle on Bespin). It could just work like a boulder throw attack from a giant or dretch, but without a definite point of origin.
She could also stand to have a teleportation attack/effect, similar to the ability the djinni have in VoN 6, where she would teleport a member, or members, of the party back to some location, or to herself. Not too frequently, and the Boots of Anchoring could be worn to prevent this, at the expense of being easily Hasted, obviously.
Big Angry B****
I meantioned above that I think the whole lazer beam thing kind of sucks as her only form of attack. It ceases to look cool after a few shots, and then is a major nuisance, thanks to its ability to land a healing curse and to drain SP. While I don't feel that the thing should be removed entirely, I do feel that it could stand to be used less often.
Instead of the cheesy fight where she keeps poking her legs out of the ground at us, the mechanic could be used during the fights with her as an attack she uses periodically, sometimes targeting the melees beating on her, and sometimes a random party member elsewhere, to keep casters and healers on their toes (and off of hers!).
She's a big spider-thing, and should probably be throwing Webs at us (maybe webs on CRACK, that have additional effects), and she's suing to become the next goddess of magic, so why does she seem to cast so few spells at us? Not that I especially like Dispel Magic and Disjunction, but I'd expect a goddess of magic to be using those...in addition to Flesh to Stone, Mass Hold Person, Wail of the Banshee, Cometfall and others.
The goddess is many times our height, but doesn't use any of her size against us during the encounters where we're actually trying to pierce her belly button. Why not? Why doesn't she take some swings at us? Why doesn't she gobble someone up? She keeps talking about being hungry, so why not go purple worm on us and eat someone?
Commander in Chief
So, we fight wave after wave after wave of her minions, most of whom come back to life as souls of their former selves to continue to harry us, but are we ever told how or why that happens? I'd love to hear her barking orders at her troops, "Get up! Don't think that just because you've been laid low by these otherworlders you can rest now! No! Your service to me ends only when the last shred of your existence has been wiped out. Have at them!"
Too much of the stuff we fight is immune to crowd control...all the portal keepers become red named, the Mistresses of Agony are red named, the bebiliths are red named, the souls are immune to most CC, the spiders are immune to most CC, and they all have boatloads of HP. Casters need something to do in there besides buff and kite.
We, the Puny Flies
Ultimately, as mortals, our task in the raid should be to acquire Anna and get the hell out of there. Why do we spend so much time beating on Lolth? We're not going to kill her, and we know it. It's never explained very well. I say, make it obvious that we attack her only to shake her concentration, so we may bypass some trap or barrier of hers. Make ti mroe obvious that we're trying to buy some time and breathing room, and not trying to beat her to death.
To the Escapees Go the Spoils
The raid desperately needs loot that make running a cleric, favored soul, or bard through there, and there are many players who felt left out of the loot in the place. "You can't satisfy everyone," you might say, but the fact is that you can, and Turbine figured out how to do so years ago! This raid really should have featured some form of crafting in order to make the loot more applicable to anyone interested in running it.
Storytelling, Goals, and Making Sense
As it stands, the storyline of the raid doesn't work very well. This girl, Anna, has been imbued with tremendous power, but can't really use it...although she starts to be able to, gets captured (again), and has some of her power stripped by Lolth and invested in these orbs. So our goals in there are twofold: first, to rescue Anna and get her out safely, and second, to restore her powers and vitality to her, while messing up Lolth's plans, by allowing Anna to destroy the orbs/reabsorb their power (not too clear on these points, to be honest). Then, after we've beaten back Lolth and her minions sufficiently, we escape, only to get confronted by Lolth again on the way out who basically smacks the hell out of Anna...who then recovers with a blessing from...the Weave? Mystra? Other gods? And proceeds to *****smack Lolth with her own magic in a way that 12 level 25 players could never hope to do. That's seriously weaksauce, and confusing.
Lolth has yoinked Anna, robbed her of some of her power, and invested it in the orbs.
Our mission is to rescue Anna, foil Lolth's plan for the powers she stole, and restore Anna's powers, which need some better definition--before she beats off Lolth, Anna appears to really have NO offensive uses for her powers: she can destroy magical barriers, summon rest shrines, protect herself with some sort of shield a little bit, and destroy orbs/suck up their power. Those seem like reasonable abilities, with perhaps some other utilitarian stuff that would be really helpful to the world at large/Lolth, but aren't necessarily God pimp-slapping weapons.
So, we have the same basic premise as in the existing raid, but with a couple of changes.
- As mentioned above, Lolth tries to separate Anna from the party, and tries to recapture her, so we need to prevent that.
- Some of Lolth's trickeries involve throwing up magical barriers...that Anna can destroy, but only if she's above a certain threshold of health, and destroying these consumes some of her HP (I know, I know).
- Destroying each orb should cause some noticeable effect upon all of Anna, the environment and Lolth. Anna regaining HP is an obvious part, though she could also stand to gain some other power. Maybe she takes barriers down faster, or can provide some sort of buff to the party members around her (which also makes for an interesting mechanic where you do kind of want her near combat). Lolth would have slightly weaker attacks, or wouldn't be able to maintain certain attacks for as long as duration. Perhaps Lolth is stronger with more orbs up, but summons more minions with more orbs down, forcing parties to choose between greater rewards/easier fights with Lolth, and more difficult trash fights as you progress in the quest. The terrain, meanwhile, could move more erratically, or respond to Lolth's commands less often--this last part could be purely fluff, where in an instance that Lolth would move terrain, there's a chance based on the number of orbs destroyed that it doesn't work, and she vocalizes her shock/displeasure.
- Anna is used to take down the barrier at the end of the raid, which takes less time based on the number of orbs destroyed, and on her health at that point. She has to be protected for a period of time from enemies gunning for her. This is the portal keeper fight where there are monsters that try to keep the portal closed by attacking Anna. Lolth should also be ****ing with the party at this point, either with spells, legs or her Hand. Perhaps, we fall back on the current mechanic, after some amount of time, if Anna is insufficiently powered to take down the barrier.
- Upon successfully bypassing the barrier, we should get a different ending based upon how many orbs we managed to take down.
- Anna has reabsorbed all the orbs: Environment in turmoil as Lolth's power wanes a bit, and her rage at having let Anna escape unrolls throughout her domain. Anna puts up a sort of barrier or shield that protects the party from the environment and we progress to the end of the quest. 6 chests.
- Anna has reabsorbed half the orbs (1st and last) and is at over 75% health: Lolth reappears as we're trying to escape, and attempts to blast Anna and us into oblivion, but Anna throws up a barrier that blocks the goddess' attack, leaving Anna drained, but on her feat, and Lolth gives up the chase. 5 chests.
- Anna has reabsorbed half the orbs (1st and last) and is below 75% health: Lolth reappears as we're trying to escape, and attempts to blast Anna and us into oblivion, but Anna throws up a barrier that blocks the goddess' attack; however, Anna's power isn't strong enough, and she falls unconscious. The party must once again square off against Lolth for a shortish period of time, until Elminster finally shows up, and helps us escape the rest of the way with Anna. 4 chests.
There should really be more interesting consequences to the different possible solutions of the raid than simply some bonus XP here, and an extra chest there. We've seen that Turbine can do some multi-ending quests. Well, it's time to put that tech to more interesting purpose!