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Guild Class and Membership Data

This time of year I conduct a non-scientific review of our guild membership. As an additional caveat, I have absolutely no formal training in data or statistical analysis. I review our guild data simply out of curiosity and my analysis is not complex. I use data from the Cloak guilds only because I do not have access to the data for the other guilds in the Cloak Alliance. Between July 2018 and July 2019, Spiritcloaks joined the Cloak guilds. Therefore I do not have comparative data from last year for Spiritcloak accounts so my account level comparison begins with only Greycloaks and Blackcloaks.

Account Data

Let’s take a look at accounts by the numbers:

This time last year, Greycloaks and Blackcloaks had 268 members out of 292 possible members. We always save room for returning Cloaks and never cap our guilds at the 149/150 account limit. We gained more new members (119) than those who stayed (112) to continue playing from 2018 to 2019. I can’t conclude that the slightly fewer number of accounts this year is due Neverwinter’s overhaul in Mod 16. We could easily be at 2018 guild membership levels if we did active recruiting, which we have not done. The fact that our guilds are Level 20 Strongholds, Greyhastur and Beckpetal streaming, and our web presence seems to attract a good number of interested players passively.

Now let’s include Spiritcloaks in the account analysis to generate a view of retention and new accounts based on the “Guild Join Date” included when you export your guild list from the Neverwinter server.

Why is this analysis different from the prior? The “Guild Join Date” is not a reliable measure of tenure of an account in the guild. Many guild members may leave or get trimmed due to inactivity and re-join the Cloaks later. My saved files from year to year allow me to see the farthest back an account has been with the Cloaks since I’ve been collecting data.

The graph above shows that we have three accounts still in the guild (again, they have never left or been trimmed) since 2014. Clearly we’ve had the largest number of new accounts join us in 2019, which is to be expected. What’s new is that in comparison to 2018 (see the historical chart below) the 2019 new players represent 50% of our population, up from 43% in 2018. New players to the game represent a 7% increase in population compared to this time last year.

Interestingly, the largest number of players to leave us were those who joined us in 2017. We have the lowest number of retained players in that year (excluding 2014 and 2015). Our guilds were full in 2017, which was the year of Mod 11 (The Cloaked Ascendency) and Mod 12 (Tomb of Annihilation).

Historical Cloak chart from 2018

The historical chart shows that a year ago in 2018, players who joined us in 2017 were 30% of our population. This year, they are only 9%. Maybe those 2017 players were the ones who chose to leave with Mod 16, but I don’t have departure data to draw that conclusion. With that said, our 2014, 2015 and 2016 retained player numbers have remained consistent; these are truly our veterans.

I know we had a huge influx of new accounts in 2018 (June) with Ravenloft and we’ve retained a good number of those who joined us then. These are our new veterans and do a great deal to help transfer game knowledge to our 2019 members.

Who knows what all this means? Maybe giving away a full set of gear in Ravenloft helped retain those players since they didn’t feel so big of a gap compared to long term players?

I’d have to do a separate data comparison to see if the 2017 players we lost have come back, or if they’ve left the game all together.

Class Data

Now let’s look at class data. First we’ll see what classes players chose when they joined our guilds, over time.

Going back in history, our three (3) 2014 classes are the Warlock, Cleric and Fighter (yes, I’m using the post M16 class names even though these were not the class names at the time). Tyranny of Dragons in May 2014 brought the Warlock and one of our guild members never looked back, but the Cleric and Fighter might be as old as 2013.

2015 saw the rise of the Cleric, with that class generating the largest numbers. 2016 was fairly even across the Wizard, Ranger and Cleric, but 2017 saw the Barbarian pull ahead as the most toons created. 2018 is a fairly even spread, with the poor Rogue getting sandwiched down behind even the Fighter. 2019 sees the Wizard, Barbarian and Ranger currently neck and neck. The Rogue is seeing a resurgence in popularity.

Perhaps the almost even spread in 2019 across the classes shows that class balance was successful? Or maybe everyone is creating each class to re-learn the game and find what class they want to play in the post M16 era.

I know what you’re saying: “Faze, even a first year data scientist can tell you that just because someone chooses to create a class doesn’t mean that they play the class”. With Mod 17 on the horizon, I figured everyone has had a good amount of time to level the classes they’re interested in playing (they’ve even had time to invoke to Level 80 if the class is invoked every day), so now would be a good time to look at the Cloaks by class, by level:

Wizards, while having the largest number of toons, seem to have the largest number of toons relatively stuck getting out of the gate even thought they also have the highest number of Level 80 toons across our three guilds. Specifically, Wizards have the highest level of toons still not past level 69. Yes, I know that some of them may be leveling to 80, but I didn’t do the data science to draw any conclusions on that scenario.

There might be a bunch of leveling going with those 27 Clerics between level 70 and 79, however. You’ll see that Clerics are almost tied with the Ranger for the number of toons between levels 70-79. The Ranger (especially the melee Warden) is living up to the DPS role and that’s probably a factor motivating those 26 toons moving through the level 70s on their way to Level 80. There might be an upcoming wave of Paladins as well, with 20 toons moving through the level 70 to 80 grind. More tanks or healers will benefit everyone in our Alliance.

Fighters, Rogues and Warlocks seem similar in popularity. While the Rogue is still the smallest population overall at 70 toons, the number of Level 80 Rogues beats the number of Level 80 Fighters just by a hair and ties the number of level 80 Warlocks at 48.

One special note about Rogues and Fighters: they are the only classes with more toons than immediately prior to Mod 16, despite our lower membership numbers. Here’s a chart with class count right before Mod 16 hit preview:

Historical class count from before Mod 16 hit preview.

You’ll see in the historical chart that every class has taken a hit in the total number of players save for Fighter and Rogue, who have increased 2 and 5, respectively.

The Barbarian falls behind only the Wizard in the total number of Level 80 toons, but there’s a large group (24) leveling between 70-80. I wonder if those toons are invoking to 80 while the players have fun exploring the newly revised classes (maybe they’re checking out the Rogue??) or if this is still one of the more popular classes to try for new players. If the latter, that would mean Barbarian appeal extends beyond just doing damage since the Barbarians are no longer designed as a dedicated, Cryptic-defined DPS class (e.g. Ranger, Rogue and Wizard).

I hope you’ve enjoyed the latest periodic analysis of our three Cloaks guilds, Greycloaks, Blackcloaks and Spiritcloaks. If you’re interested in trying any of the classes you’ve never played before, check out Lord Willow’s YouTube channel for great guild videos. If you’re looking to join us, we’ve got plenty of space and would love to have you! You can contact us in game or post on our wall at the Cloak website.

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From Another View: Valindra’s Tower

The locales in Neverwinter provide an immersive experience for running content. Running content mostly supersedes stopping to take in the environmental design. The “From Another View” series features multiple entries focused on the player environment. In our previous entry we covered the IG instance of the Old Dragon’s Lair. This entry covers an inaccessible courtyard in Valindra’s Tower and an aerial view of the tower.

Did you know there’s a fully rendered courtyard that’s inaccessible to players in Valindra’s Tower? By fully rendered I mean that not only is the courtyard itself visible, but subsequent zones beyond the courtyard are also rendered, even though the players will never see those areas. Perhaps this courtyard was an original part of the dungeon that was removed from the flow of progressing through Valindra’s Tower.

From the spawning point (left image below), the courtyard is to the left of the first multi-mob battle area (right image below). You can see the courtyard through the gate on the left side of that image.

 

 

Here’s what the courtyard looks like without having to peer through the gate:

03_mysterycourtyard

Completely out of the players view on the left side of the courtyard is another archway with a treasure chest, which makes me think that originally this may have been another mob fight with minor rewards in the chest, such as healing potions, silver, etc. Beyond that gated archway is a small altar with the familiar wizard figure that appears throughout Valindra’s Tower. Players will never see this altar with the current flow of dungeon content.

 

 

To the right of the courtyard there’s an open-air corridor with rocky debris (left image below) that leads to the open-air area where players open three gates after defeating wizards and closing multiple portals (right image below). The original concept may have been that all the gates opened and the players could return down the rocky debris corridor to fight a mob and loot the chest in the now inaccessible courtyard. The flow could have been discarded during playtesting for being unnecessarily circular.

 

 

Finally, let’s take a look at Validra’s Tower, which has an open-air courtyard on approach, where you fight through several tiers of opponents:

06_tower_a

From the image above you can barely see the top of the tower, which stretches into the sky. Pivoting that view to look downwards, we see the fully rendered cobras at the top of the tower. At this height players would appear as mere specs on the floor below. If players fell from this height they would certainly take the maximum D&D 20d6 falling damage!

06_tower_c

If you’d like a closer look at the images above, click on the thumbnails below.

 

 

From Another View: Illusionist’s Gambit, Old Dragon’s Lair

The locales in Neverwinter provide an immersive experience for running content. Running content mostly supersedes stopping to take in the environmental design. The “From Another View” series features multiple entries focused on the player environment. In our last entry we covered Illusionist’s Gambit (IG) in Castle Never. This entry covers the IG instance in the Old Dragon’s Lair.

The IG disc hovers above a pathway in front of an approach to a dragon lair similar to the structure in the Lair of Lostmauth. Also similarly to Lostmauth, the battle takes place underground.

01_disc

As players battle, red dragons fly overhead, circling the area in a broad arc. Here’s a good look at the fully rendered dragons that circle the battle since players will never get this close to the dragons otherwise.

02

The path below the disc in runs well beyond the player’s view. The entire subterranean environment is rendered, even though players don’t interact or see most of the environment. The path is can followed in Chapter Four of the Maze Engine in the quest Adventures of the Lost Artifact, where you team up with Makos to retrieve a quest-related artifact.

As with all IG instances, we have spectators. In this instance Lukan of the Mystic Veil, our illusionist host, stands with our Old Dragon host.

03_spectators

To the right of our spectators players can see the approach to the Old Dragon’s structure, where you approach and reclaim the quest artifact in the Maze Engine campaign.

04_platform

What lies at the foot of the door, far back from the player’s view? In our last image we see the expected, gold! As we know from Lostmauth’s Lair, as well as Dungeons and Dragons lore, dragons love to keep lots and lots of treasure. Too bad players can’t grab this gold; they certainly would have an advantage in Module 15 Crafting. (If you’re interested in Mod 15 Crafting, check out our guide.)

05_gold

If you’d like a closer look at the images above, click on the thumbnails below.

From Another View: Illusionist’s Gambit in Castle Never

The locales in Neverwinter provide an immersive experience for running content. Running content mostly supersedes stopping to take in the environmental design. The “From Another View” series features multiple entries focused on the player environment. In our last entry, we covered Illusionist’s Gambit (IG) in the Gauntlgrym Throne Room. This version covers the IG instance in the Castle Never (demon version) portal room.

01_Platforms

For purposes of this IG instance, the players are immediately dropped onto the Mad Wizard Layer disc in the center portal of the five they would normally enter separately in Castle Never. As with all the IG instances, we have spectators watching the battle. These spectators reside on platforms around the center which would normally be accessed by the portals in Castle Never which line the outer ring of the room.

The first spectator, who stands alone, is a Balor. The second spectator set includes Lukan, our illusionist host, who interestingly looks behind him, perhaps with a sense of nervousness?

Is Lukan nervous because Orucs is not one of his planned illusions? Yes, our final spectator is the demon lord Orcus himself. He stands at the back end of the platform, however, so players may never know that the demon lord is present.

04_Orcus

For our final view we strip away the pervasive green and fog that the content artists apply across the entire instance. The remaining view leaves a cold, skeletal feel to the platforms. This view, however, clearly shows the IG disc applied on the center platform.

05_nofog

If you’d like a closer look at the images above, click on the thumbnails below.

From Another View: IG Gauntlgrym Throne Room

The locales in Neverwinter provide an immersive experience for running content. Running content mostly supersedes stopping to take in the environmental design. The “From Another View” series features multiple entries focused on the player environment. In our earlier review of the Illusionist’s Gambit Battle of the Bridge, we focused on the content just out of view. In this entry, we present Illusionist’s Gambit (IG) in the Gauntlgrym Throne Room.

01 - ToDG discThe Gauntlgrym Throne Room arena already had a nice open space which was perfect to just plop the IG disc into that space.

02 - outside ToDG room

Interestingly, the entire dungeon architecture is populated outside the throne room. This leads me to believe that the developers just took an existing instance of the throne and built up from there. I’ll cover clues in our next photo as to which specific instance they used. In the screen capture to the right you can see on the far right hand side that the large gears you partially see in the corridors are complete oversized gears that extend well out into the void beyond your view.

03 - Spectators

As with most IG instances, we have spectators looking on at our progress. Appropriate to the setting, Thibbledorf  Pwent vigorously roots us on, Bruenor Battlehammer raises his mug of ale to our excellence in battle, and Drizzt exhibits elvish characteristics with a “I don’t really care” pose on the right side of the throne. This scene is clearly repurposed from the celebratory epilogue of the Maze Engine campaign.

Bruenor

Lukan of the Mystic Veil makes his obligatory appearance as well, kind of like Stan Lee in a Marvel movie.

Did you know that not only does Bruenor have a foamy mug of ale on his shield, but he can also magically pull out a mug of ale from behind his shield at any time? It’s good to the king!

You may not have noticed, but behind the throne is a door that leads to what you might suspect is a vault. What would you expect a dwarf king to keep in this vault behind this throne? Gold? Clearly Bruenor is working on his Mod 15 professions because all the gold is gone.

Finally, to give you another view of the throne room, we zoom out to a perspective high above the entry doorway. This is a great image where you see the likeness of dwarves in the entire room architecture. From the fire pits and the vault to the stone dwarves holding up the ceiling on top of the pillars, you definitely feel the dwarven theme of the throne room.

06 - Dwarven craftmanship

If you’d like a closer look at the images above, click on the thumbnails below.

From Another View: Illusionist’s Gambit, Battle of the Bridge

The locales in Neverwinter provide an immersive experience for running content. Running content mostly supersedes stopping to take in the environmental design. The “From Another View” series features multiple entries focused on the player environment. The Lair of Lostmauth entry presented some views not often seen while running content in that dungeon.

This entry focuses on some of the details just beyond player’s views in the Battle to the Bridge version of Ilusionist’s Gambit. There are many other environments for Illusionist’s Gambit but those are not covered here.

The disc on which players battle is dropped right into the same bridge that you fight across way back in your early levels.

01 Battle of the Bridge at Night

You might be asking how this the disc is inserted into the existing environment. A sneak peek below the disc shows us the answer is that the disc simply floats over the bridge.

02 Under the disc

Just out of reach, players see that there are spectators taking in the battle.

03 IG spectators

What’s that in the foreground, a random ghost? A closer look shows us that the ghost is actually our headstrong friend Private Wilfred. Although Wilfred remains expressionless, surely he rooting for us.

04 Wilfred

Conversely, Valindra, her dracolich and Lukan of the Mystic Veil watch on, no doubt hoping to see the adventurers fail.

05 Valindra

While adventurers may fail in the Illusionist’s Gambit we know that in the end each of these foes are bested, but you won’t find spoilers here.

If you’d like a closer look at the images above, click on the thumbnails below.

From Another View: Epic Lair of Lostmauth

The locales in Neverwinter provide an immersive experience for running content. Running content mostly supersedes stopping to take in the environmental design. The Art of Castle Ravenloft blog entry focuses on the artwork in the castle. The “From Another View” series features multiple entries focused on the player environment.

This entry is a visual tour, from another view, of the Lair of Lostmauth. The goal is to present a visual perspective, with a focus on environmental design, that players cannot experience while running the content in game.

Our first look is at the Drake Rider battleground. What happens after you open the floor? The floor stays open and you fall to an underground location within the same instance.

01 Drake Rider battleground

Because you’re zooming by, you might miss the circular hole in the detached building directly below the drake rider battleground. No doubt there are invisible walls that prevent falling players from landing on top of the structure below.

02 Descending through the portal

After one of the three doors open, you get to run the gauntlet on one of the three, interconnected paths to the scorpion bosses. As you can see from the image below, they’re all connected. If characters were not prevented from doing so, routes two and three both allow access to route one, where you hop over lava trenches and across column tops in a large lava lake.

03 Three route gauntlet

On approach to the scorpion battle, two huge dragons flank the door to the battleground and from a heightened perspective you can see not only the flanking dragons, but also the lair of Lostmauth in the distance.

04 Flanking dragons

Finally, have you ever looked up after fighting Lostmauth? There’s a huge opening in his lair, which makes perfect sense. After all, Lostmauth needs to get into the structure somehow.

05 Entry to the Lair of Lostmauth

Just from the images above, we see that the underground environment is awash with lava and presents a very inhospitable environment. If you want a closer view of the images, click on each image below to take to you a larger version of the image.

The Art of Castle Ravenloft

by Faze –

21
Castle Ravenloft

When I’m not busy studying the Arcane Arts, I try to take time to appreciate art. When storming through Castle Ravenloft, I noticed new artwork on the walls. After defeating Strahd with my fellow Alliance members, I leisurely strolled through the castle to take in the art. All the images here are found in Castle Ravenloft.

There are a total of 24 pieces of unique art in Castle Ravenloft. By that I mean that there are multiples of individual pieces, but when you eliminate the duplicates there are 24 pieces to appreciate.

I’m not going to cover all 24 pieces here. What, you say? This is supposed to be a blog entry about Castle Raveloft art! That’s just the thing. Many of the pieces Strahd has in Castle Ravenloft also appear in Protector’s Enclave (six pieces) and some are available in your Stronghold (five pieces).

07
Resembles my annoying cousin

As an interesting side note on the artwork of the Stronghold, there are five pieces of art that I thought I would find in Castle Ravenloft but did not. They are: Haunted Mists, Barovian Knight, Barovian Tarokka, Barovian Temptress and Barovian Monk.

That leaves 13 potentially new pieces of art! Why do you say potentially, Faze? Because many of the pieces look very familiar to the existing artwork, like the Tiefling to the left.

20
A new warlock?

Even with my high Intelligence score, I can’t recall if I’ve actually seen this fellow before or not. Yes, he looks like my cousin that everyone finds really annoying at our family reunions, but I digress. The warlock to the right also fits into the “similar” category.

05
Familiar face in a new pose

There are also portraits of characters we’ve seen before, but in a new pose. For example the wizard to the left appears in multiple poses and his image is available for placement in the Stronghold and viewable in Protector’s Enclave.

Rounding out the “familiar” artwork category are two portraits which I don’t recall seeing before. The female tiefling feels like a piece similar to the Stronghold art, but the portrait of the red bird accompanied by a human has brushstrokes similar to the new art in Castle Ravenloft.

 

The last two categories of artwork in Castle Ravenloft are landscapes and notable personas. We’ll cover the landscapes first.

444
Castle Ravenloft in another era

The landscape of Castle Ravenloft to the left is clearly a happier time, when the sun shone and the land had seasons full of color. Perhaps such a time never existed, and this painting was done for Strahd to capture a scene he will never see again. One thing is certain: we adventurers have never seen a Castle Ravenloft like this, even when day breaks in Ravenloft.

111
Castle Ravenloft at night

Conversely, the image to the right is akin to what we see in Ravenloft today. The moon sits behind Castle Ravenloft, the castle towering over the land and indeed, over nature itself. For some reason, however, I don’t feel the same sense of ominous dread in the image that I feel when I’m in the demiplane. There’s a brightness to the painting, and you can clearly see the color of the trees and purple hues of night.

The last two landscapes, which we see below, are a combination of known and unknown stories. The first landscape below is clearly Barovia. We often speak to Esmerelda d’Avenir by the well. The second landscape, on the right, holds a lone horseman approaching a grand arch flanked by headless guardians. Perhaps this was Strahd undertaking a quest and he had this painted to communicate the grandeur of his deed to the observer.

 

The final category of art is notable persons.

02
Strahd the Ruler

The two paintings of notable persons we’ll cover first are clearly Strahd. The first painting, to the right, is Strahd as ruler, warrior and military leader. The light shines in from the window behind him, but his confidence beams even brighter. Clearly his unassailable demeanor in our final battle was born from this confidence. The armor makes Strahd appear almost human; as a vampire he has no need for such mortal protections. Perhaps this is how Strahd sees himself at his best.

03
Strahd in respose

The second painting is perhaps my favorite. This is Strahd “in repose”. While still a ruler and warrior, as evidenced by the sword he wears, he is not in his full armor, giving a casual, approachable feel to the portrait. His face does not beam with the confidence in the prior painting. He is thoughtful, or perhaps resigned to his fate. He is clearly noble. His furs and clothing denote the finest quality. The polish on what armor he wears seems to generate light.  Yet Strahd is clearly the beast. Pay close attention to the painting, dear observer, for Strahd the vampire casts no reflection in the mirror. We see the reflection of the wine apparently floating magically in the mirror.

The final notable person painting is perhaps the person who drove Strahd down the path that ultimately led him to the beast he is today, Tatyana, the Barovian woman with whom Strahd fell in love. During our adventures in Ravenloft we saved Ireena, who  I theorize Strahd believes has the reincarnated soul of his love, Tatyana.

01
Tatyana?

In the image she wears a fur on her shoulder akin to Strahd’s daily wear. Her hair is red, unlike the dark sisters who defended Castle Ravenloft from our approach. Yet despite her color, she appears formal and cold, or perhaps trapped. Finally, the painting strokes are not detailed and the brushwork is rushed. Perhaps the painting was hurriedly done years after her death as Strahd realized he could not longer remember the details of her visage.

That’s all. I hope you enjoyed the tour through the art of Castle Ravenloft.

As always, good hunting my fellow adventurers!

Wheels of Wonder!

wheels

Looking to add some randomness to your Neverwinter game to spice things up a bit? The (unofficial) Neverwinter Wheels of Wonder may be just the thing for you. One wheel randomizes the content and the “Expert” wheel randomizes a specific challenge, such as no shield, run a 5 person as a 3 person, etc.

The wheels are web based using the wheeldecide.com website. The following URLs pass the variables to the website to create the wheels.

Here’s the content randomizer (click below):

Let this wheel decide for you..

Here’s the challenge randomizer (click below):

Challenge Randomizer

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