Neverwinter Ravenloft brought the new endgame dungeon Castle Ravenloft (CR). If you are familiar with most group content in Neverwinter, you will find this dungeon stands out as somewhat unique in terms of design. It features a very heavy focus on mechanics and a limited one on actually dealing damage to opponents. This guide aims to explain these mechanics, in order to hopefully make this dungeon more accessible to players. It was written and authored by Janne Moonmist, Lightbringer, and Sharpedge. The second part of the guide can be found here.
More Challenge, More Resistance Ignored
With CR, the amount of Resistance Ignored you will need has been increased from 85% in previous content to 100% here. This is only for enemies considered bosses, but I do not see a reason to have loadouts with varying Resistance Ignored for each enemy type. Enemies’ Resistance Ignored has not changed however and they still only have 15%. All three bosses have roughly 1.2 billion Hit Points, making them quite resilient. With the exception of the last boss, the fights will take a little longer than most groups are used to.
Damage mitigation plays a major role, especially at the final boss. I strongly recommend taking a party featuring both a Guardian Fighter and a Devotion Paladin, purely for additional layers of mitigation. However if the Guardian Fighter does not deal any damage, you would probably be better off with another DPS. Here is a list of exceptionally useful damage mitigation tools for this dungeon, for reducing the difficulty of some mechanics:
- Anointed Army – DC, Anointed Champion
- Divine Armour – DC, Either Paragon
- Divine Protector – OP, Protection
- Knight’s Valor – GF
- Lion Combat Power – Mount
- Shield of Faith – OP
- Wheel of Elements Artifact: Earth
Mastering the Dungeon Is an Achievement in Itself
Finally, a note on the dungeon as a whole. While some groups can complete the dungeon extremely fast at under 20 minutes, completing this dungeon at all, provided you are not mass consuming Scroll of Mass Life, is somewhat of an achievement. Take the time to learn the mechanics and do not waste scrolls, as some individuals require people to. Mass use of scrolls is only detrimental to getting better. Understanding the dungeon, and obtaining smoother runs, will ultimately be more beneficial than the ‘great’ loot at the end. Seriously, scrolls are not a requirement for this dungeon, stop wasting them like toilet paper!
There are five achievements in Castle Ravenloft, as follows:
- Complete Castle Ravenloft. Self explanatory, finish the dungeon.
- Defeat the Night Terror in Castle Ravenloft. The Night Terror can randomly spawn in the dungeon, in front of the door leading to the Arcolith. Killing it will grant this achievement.
- Ghost Stories: Comfort the 3 ghosts in Castle Ravenloft.
- Ravin’ Loft. Wait for all the ghosts to spawn before the Arcolith fight, before you kill them. You cannot damage the ghosts and need to kite them carefully until all 3 knights are summoned. Companions can attack though and will not prevent getting the achievement provided they do not kill anything.
- Pew, Pew, Pew. Kill all the vampires in the chapel before you purify it.
Sisters of Strahd
The Sisters of Strahd are the first boss in CR. They are a trio of bosses, of which you will engage one at a time, in this order: Spite, Rage, then Vengeance. The sisters have two forms. One is a “human”, the vulnerable state, and the red mist incorporeal form that you cannot damage nor engage. If one of the incorporeal sisters comes into the close proximity of the vulnerable one, a red link will be established and both become invulnerable. This invulnerability is the core of the mechanics of this fight.
In order to keep the others away, one person is given the job of preoccupying the remaining sisters who are not engaged through the use of the tome mechanic (explained further). As a result of this, the fight will always be fought with only four players fighting and one player kiting. They have the following attacks:
- Pools of Decay (all three): Red Pools on the ground, standing in them slows your movement and causes you to take damage. There is no included picture as they take up an obnoxious amount of space and are easy to spot.
- Bloodflight (Rage): Four arrows pointing inwards with the outer edge of a red circle traced. Damage is dealt to one player and split between anyone else within the circle. Stand in a group to survive this. Bloodflight does piercing damage, only additional layers of mitigation will reduce the incoming damage from it.
- Theft of Vitae (all three): A stacking debuff (Up to 10 stacks). This is a crucial mechanic to understand, as it can one shot any player and leave them feeling upset and confused, due to the experience. The debuff is applied in a cone in front of the boss whenever she attacks. Make sure to stand behind the boss if you are not the tank, in order to avoid building up stacks. This is where positioning can really set the difference between fast and easy runs vs running around, removing stacks and reviving dead party members. So again, if you are not the tank, make sure you are behind the boss. If you see stacks applied on you, reposition quickly.The stacks are limited in time, if no new stack is applied in 15 seconds all the stacks will drop. So, if you are not the tank, again reposition behind her, or further away so the stacks wont reach ten. When the boss states “prepare to join the ranks of the undead” if you have ten stacks and are the tank you need to shield or die. If you are not the tank and aggro’d in this attack while having all the stacks accumulated and you fail to dodge this, it was nice knowing you. Note that as an OP, you need to use sanctuary to survive here even though Sanctuary only brings you to the Damage Reduction cap.
- Spite (all three): The reflect mechanic, Chains of Spite. When the boss states “Attack me if you dare fools” stop attacking to prevent dying from reflect. If you are holding the tome, you will not be the victim of this. The chains occur one minute apart, and come with a sequence. The sister will kick everyone away, drain everyone’s Action Points, and then do the chains voice telegraph and attack. This mechanic is especially important to time correctly in case the DPS has DoT (some DoTs are not reflected) or delayed damage like SoD. Notice the timing, it is usually better be safe than sorry and not apply SoD if close to the chains time than being damage greedy and risk killing someone.A few notes: The chains are very visible if Soul Sight Crystal artifact was applied just before and for less experienced groups and/or if your primary DPS has delayed damage proc like SoD it’s useful to use the resurrection sickness guild boon if you have one.
- Withering Aura (all three): A persistent damage over time aura which occurs when you are near the bosses.
- Blood Craze (Vengeance): Summons a Vampire Hoard, aggro’d to the debuffed target.
Periodically the bosses will summon Paranoid Delusions who will each stun one party member for five seconds. Gaze of Doom and Wail of Suffering are the attacks of the Paranoid Delusions, they do very little damage (roughly 2000 damage premitigated) and are more an annoyance than anything else. The person holding the engaged sister’s aggro as well as the person managing the tome are never the ones targeted by the delusions.
Whenever a sister is killed, they enter a phase where the remaining sisters are “gathering their fallen sister’s power.” This is a DPS check and if you fail to kill the fallen sister fast enough, there is a party wipe. It can be identified by the large text that appears in the center of the screen. When this happens, players should head back to where the sisters first spawned in the center of the room.
The person on tome duty has the job of managing the aggro of the non-vulnerable sisters. The first question is, who should this be? In general, you want the support who contributes the least to the parties damage to be the one who carries the tome. If you have a standard Devo OP, GF, two DCs and one DPS group, then that would be the DO DC. If you have a protection OP instead, it would be the OP.
The next question is, what does this person have to do? Their duty is to entertain the sisters/sister not currently in combat, away from the rest of the party. This is accomplished by using the tome powers. Picking up the tome changes your hotbar to another set of encounters, preventing you from using your own. However, you can still use artifacts and mount powers as well as items on your quick tray.
- Right At-Will – Disabling Phrase: A brief stun with quick cooldown.
- Left At-Will – Shocking Reveal: This is the main tool to pull a sister to you. Notice that this is a channeled mechanic, meaning you need to hold the at-will (default on PC left mouse button) to keep the sister aggro’d. You can move while channeling it. This is crucial to move the sister to where you want her.
- Encounter – Deception’s Rebuke: Clears negative effects from players in small area around the tome user.
- Daily – Stunning Revelation: A longer, cone area stun that affects the sisters.
The main idea is to alternate between the at-wills, stunning one sister with the right At-Will – Disabling Phrase and while stunned pulling the other sister with the channeled aggro (Left At-Will – Shocking Reveal) then stun the pulled one, and swap, pulling the other.
After pulling both far enough, usually it’s enough just to hold one sister and the second will remain in its vicinity, and thus kiting them far away from the party. Once the Daily Power (Stunning Revelation) is charged, you can move in close and use it for a longer area stun, catching both sisters, or one if the other broke off and you need a breather to go and fetch her. Be careful not to be damaged when doing this as it causes you to lose Action Points.
After one sister is dead, it becomes much easier as you no longer need to alternate between the sisters and can focus on the sister left. Both the cooldowns of the at wills and encounters and the daily power benefit from cooldown reductions and AP Gain, so you can quite easily keep the sisters permanently stunned if you use the Insignia Bonus Artificer’s Persuasion and one of the Dragon Heart artifacts. Just miss with the heart every so often and keep spamming the daily whenever the stun falls off.
In theory you can do more risky stuff like staying closer to the party and then using Deception’s Rebuke to break the chains on a party member when the chains are applied, or you can drop the tome, use a quick buff and then pick it up again (beware though, there is a delay on picking it back up). I do however not think the reward justifies the extra pain that comes along if you mess it up, under most circumstances.
For first attempts or if you are not accustomed for tome duty it’s recommended to get some health potions slotted in the quick tray even if you usually do not use those. As the area will be covered in red zones and there is nothing to attack (nor can you) to Life Steal. Also for first timers the DC at the attacking party can throw a Divine Glow (especially while the party waits for the chains to wear off) on the tome holder from time to time if the tome holder is in trouble or made a mistake and stepped in the red pool.
Here is a video of the first boss, from a tome user’s point of view:
That’s the first part of our Castle Ravenloft guide! The second one, explaining the other boss fights, can be found here! In the meantime share your own thoughts and experience on our social channels, in the comments below, or visit the corresponding thread on our message board!