At Gen Con 2019, Daybreak Games announced a new high-level challenge coming to Dungeons & Dragons Online in the form of a Hardcore League server featuring permadeath. The Hardcore League will be an optional, time-limited experience separate from the game’s ordinary character progression.
Naturally enough for a game based on a popular tabletop RPG, Dungeons & Dragons Online has long drawn a variety of role-players of different types to its servers. One popular form of niche play is permadeath, in which certain guilds establish their own strict rules around death and resurrection on top of the game’s built-in mechanics. Not all permadeath guilds operate the same way, but generally, characters that die in permadeath guilds are deleted or at least kicked out of the guild, with no opportunity to be brought back by other players. Some players choose to approach the game this way because it more closely matches the stakes of the original Dungeons & Dragons tabletop game.
The new Hardcore League server turns that ethos into an official game mode. According to a press release from Daybreak Games, the Hardcore League server will only be live from August 16 to November 15. Players will have to create a new character to play on the permadeath server, but once the event ends, any character created for the Hardcore League can be transferred to a standard server, even if they died while the league was active. The Hardcore League will only be available who have a Season Pass or a VIP subscription to the free-to-play game.
Players who take part have the chance to earn some exclusive rewards for their efforts. They’ll be ranked based on how many quests they’re able to complete and how long they’re able to survive, with leaderboards tracking the most accomplished players in both pursuits. The top 100 players in each will have their character entered into the Hall of Heroes, a public area in-game that allows travel between realms. Players can also earn cosmetic rewards for their performance, including a special pet and cloak accessory.
Anyone who reaches Level 5 will be commended in the game’s newsletter, The DDO Chronicle, and anyone who reaches Level 20 will receive another special cosmetic item. Reaching Level 20 in DDO is no easy accomplishment on its own, and according to the DDO Permadeath Wiki, it’s common for players in current permadeath guild to die before reaching Level 7, while hitting Level 16 is seen as an uncommon but achievable goal.
Dungeons & Dragons Online isn’t the most popular MMORPG around, but the Hardcore League server shows it still has something to offer that’s different from its larger MMORPG alternatives. Given the popularity of permadeath guilds, it seems like a good way to inject a new challenge in the game and give players a chance to try a new way of playing while maybe earning some unique prizes on the side.