Hello, it’s me. You may know me from such rants as the Back to Bögenhafen thread, Twitch Mode Improvements thread, the more popular “Can we get rid of +20% health and +33% curse resistance already?” thread, my more recent “Let’s fix the crafting system to be kinda like the Weaves” thread, or maybe just as the guy who will type an essay at you if you respond to me with “tl;dr” or something else that annoys me.
In one of my more recent threads posting various
bugs undocumented features and surprise mechanics, I started to spiral into despair, because it became more and more obvious to me that Fatshark doesn’t particularly like to read ideas or suggestions from their forums. I said I would stop writing because I was getting tired of shouting into the wind, but I enjoy it too much as a creative outlet. I can’t resist writing my thoughts down about something, especially something that I feel strongly about.
So, while I would genuinely like to think that my ideas are worthy of attention and could be implemented as features within the game, I’m writing this more as a creative outlet that would be nice to see, and because someone on reddit gave me an upvote for the idea. It’s fun to go back and explore the old maps and explore ideas that were seemingly abandoned or forgotten about. It’s nice to use some energy to come up with a creative idea.
This thread is a little different than a lot of my other threads: it’s not a particularly original idea. It’s been repeated a lot on the forums in various places since the game has been released. “Bring back Castle Drachenfels” and “add Genevieve as a hero”. I’m not particularly well-versed in Warhammer lore. I haven’t read the books or played tabletop or anything like that, but I felt like digging into the idea more to see how much merit it actually has. I think it’s pretty cool. Like with my Bögenhafen thread, I think there are definitely some more attentive community members that could contribute more meaningfully to the lore aspects.
I’m going to explain why I like Castle Drachenfels, how I think we could incorporate it into this game without resorting to the illusion angle like Back to Ubersreik, and how I can tie it in with the release of a new hero, the vampire Geneviève Dieudonné, who seems to be a popular suggestion. She’s even likely alluded to in Vermintide 2 by Lohner, in some keep dialogue, “Tell you what, folk can surprise you. Had a vampire in the Red Moon once. Paid her tab in full, nary a drop of bloodletting. What was her name? Aye… it began with G, I remember that much.”
For Geneviève, I want to not only explore how I think she could tie in as an ally lore-wise, but also some mechanics for her: her weapons, her possible careers, and some of those careers’ talents.
Why go back to Drachenfels?
I loved the Castle Drachenfels DLC. I didn’t purchase Vermintide 1 until May 2017, almost a year after the DLC’s original release in May 2016. It doesn’t have too many reviews, but it was received as “Very Positive”, with 84% of people liking the DLC. It surprised me to read a while ago in a reddit comment by Robin “Drachenfels wasn’t insanely well received” and was considered a pretty big risk due to how long it took to develop the art and levels themselves, with the greater context being a justification of moving more towards the Winds of Magic’s DLC model to speed up the development of new content.
Here are the reviews for major adventure map DLCs in the Vermintide series (disregarding Schluesselschloss and cosmetics):
- 93 people, 84% of 111 liked Drachenfels
- 75 people, 87% of 87 liked Karak Azgaraz
- 78 people, 74% of 105 liked Stromdorf
- 11 people, 71% of 14 liked Death on the Reik (it was free and right before V2 release)
- 262 people, 47% of 558 liked Shadows Over Bögenhafen
- 259 people, 79% of 328 liked Back to Ubersreik
Accounting for differences in playerbase sizes between Vermintide 1 and 2, since you can see no one reviewed Death on the Reik due to it coming out just before Vermintide 2, I would have said that Drachenfels was one of the more successful Vermintide DLCs. Vermintide 1 took a month to sell 300,000 copies, while Vermintide 2 only took four days to sell 500,000 copies. It took two years for the original game to sell 2,000,000 copies, a milestone that the sequel blew past easily in the first few months. I don’t think the number of reviews for the two games’ DLCs are even close to representative of the differences in the number of copies sold. It’s hard for me to pin down sales differences among DLC between the games, but it definitely seems like a higher proportion of V1’s playerbase thought positively of Drachenfels and the other DLC than V2’s playerbase of their DLC so far.
Given how many Vermintide 1 veterans seem to enjoy Drachenfels, I think it would be appropriate to bring those maps in particular to the new audience who never played them, much like Back to Ubersreik.
What makes Drachenfels special?
What makes all of the Vermintide 1 DLC particularly special is that they each had a distinct setting that instantly set them apart from the rest of the map pool. The atmosphere of each DLC is unmistakable. If you’re already kind of sold on the atmosphere of Drachenfels and are sold on it, feel free to skip to the next section, I guess. You can see the pretty pictures embedded while you scroll.
Drachenfels was a particularly great DLC, in my opinion, due to its spooky, horrific nature. The first map, the eponymous Castle Drachenfels, has you roam the main halls of the castle’s interior to look for the main temple hall to retrieve a mysterious chalice, Drachengral, before escaping through a trapdoor tunnel to the exterior of the castle. Words don’t do it justice, here’s some pictures.
In the end, we see Lohner with a replica chalice behind the counter. The real one’s location seems to be a secret, since it is a sinister artifact that shouldn’t be misused.
Then we have The Dungeons, in which you go through the dungeons (duh) of the castle to retrieve the Skull of Eisenfaust and the Flask of Wayward Souls, some bonus artifacts. It has a very long darkness section, which is explained as being caused by the lingering magic of the castle, rather than simply being a dark cave and sewer like Hunger in the Dark and Blightreaper, respectively. It’s spooky. You can feel the tension and desperation as you look for a way out, leading the way with a torch as you avoid the various pitfalls and spike traps. You’re then met with a finale where you fight a horde and Rat Ogre in the dark before escaping, one of my personal favorite finales. Here’s some pictures again.
Then there’s Summoner’s Peak. It’s my least favorite of the three maps because of how annoying the objectives are, but it looks pretty damn cool still. You’re not in the castle proper, you’re just destroying some Skaven portals (like mini-Skittergates) to clear out the rat base camp near Drachenfels. You see the castle looming off in the distance. Its main flaw is the tediousness of the objectives, in my opinion. You have to prevent slave rats from cooling off the generator with buckets of water.
Overall, they’re pretty cool maps that I’d like to see again in this game. However, I wasn’t a big fan of the whole shoehorned illusion angle as a reason to replay maps for Back to Ubersreik. It seems contrived, especially how the game explains why there’s Chaos Warriors in the old maps by playing it off as “oh yeah, illusion magic is weird, sorry about that”. I also didn’t like Olesya talking into my ear the entire time to scream “you’re going the wrong way, imbecile” every time I grabbed a book that was off the beaten path.
Most importantly, the exact layout of the castle being a perfect recreation from the first game doesn’t seem ideal to me. For one, it may be a little too cramped and trivial for us to navigate with our new career skills. The events of the V1 maps where you carry barrels are very easy in V2, comparatively.
Secondly, being overly familiar with the layout of the castle from the first game drastically reduces the “horror” that you have in your first run. Navigating the dark labyrinth on your fifteenth run is not the same as your first. For that reason, I’m suggesting a remake of Drachenfels as a setting, not a simple remaster like Back to Ubersreik.
How do we justify a remake instead of a remaster?
Fatshark posted in a dev blog before the release of Back to Ubersreik, highlighting some of the challenges of “remastering” a map. It has unique challenges to faithfully recreate something and make sure nothing is out of place. On top of that, that amount of work does go somewhat unappreciated because many people, including myself, question why I’m paying $10 for something I’ve already played before.
Moreover, I’ll snag an excerpt of the lore page about Castle Drachenfels from the first game. Emphasis is mine.
The Castle is kind of a “living” entity that is alive. You hear unearthly laughter and roars at certain points throughout the levels. It seems entirely plausible that the castle could regenerate and reconfigure its layout and exact corridors. This is important for a few reasons:
It allows us to make the map different than we remember, allowing us veteran players the anxiety and horror to face the unexpected in our first run through the map.
It allows Fatshark to change the map in the service of gameplay, not being fettered by having to “faithfully” remake the first games’ maps. They’ve already shown off some spooky castle assets with the new Weave arena and spooky statues in some of the maps.
It allows us to side-step the issue of “why am I paying $10 for something I already played 3 years ago?” It’s a set of new maps inspired by the first game, not ported.
It allows Fatshark to do some more cool stuff with the map by varying its layout slightly, much like how they’ll divert our paths through Fort Brachsenbrücke and others. The traps can be in different places each time. Maybe the exact route through the dark sections are slightly different, so you need to stick together and navigate with a torch, not just speed through if you’re familiar. We could get that sense of horror from our twentieth playthrough, not just our first.
How do we tie Drachenfels into Vermintide 2?
There’s a lot of ways that we could see these maps brought back. We basically just snagged some of the probably many secrets lingering in the castle, waiting to be found. I think there’s probably some reasons we could find ourselves going back to Drachenfels, perhaps at the behest of Geneviève.
Take a look at some pictures from Waylaid, the final map of Vermintide 1. You can see the Flask of Wayward Souls being used and the Skull of Eisenfaust in her trunk.
Maybe Geneviève sought out the group after hearing some rumors about their deeds and their raid of Castle Drachenfels to steal the artifacts. Perhaps, through her travels and long life as a vampire, she has some additional information about the artifacts beyond Olesya’s purview, since she seemed only to have some particular purpose for the Flask of Wayward Souls, but the chalice is deemed entirely evil and unusable. Even the skull just seems to be sitting there.
Let’s look back at some lore pages again. Here’s an excerpt from the Castle’s owner, Constant Drachenfels. I’ll throw some bold emphasis on some of the juicy bits and skip over big chunks of the page. It’s pretty long.
Now, we know that he “died” and has died times after Sigmar, without trying to spoil much. We don’t know how he keeps coming back to life, even when it seems like he’s really dead. He still comes back. There’s a reference to someone called “The Nameless” in Warhammer lore that seems it could be Drachenfels allied with Nurgle later on in the End Times, after inhabiting the body of a Warrior Priest.
Let’s look at the lore page for Drachengral, the chalice that we first snatch from the heart of the Castle. I’ll snag an excerpt from it, since it’s already pasted far earlier in the post.
No good will ever come from such a depraved relic of malevolence, and the risk of the Drachengral falling into the hands of a resourceful and ambitious Skaven Sorcerer was simple unacceptable.
What if the Drachengral chalice was something like a horcrux, a fragment of his soul and the heart of the Castle itself, that could be used for him to easily come back to life? What if he tried to make a pact with the pact-sworn to retrieve the chalice that was stolen from the Castle, so that he can come back to life to fight alongside the forces of Chaos?
What if Geneviève, someone acquainted with kinda killing him a little bit, learned of his connection to Drachengral and perhaps also learned how to destroy it to hopefully finish the job (but, probably not, given the whole “End Times” thing and whatnot). Perhaps she navigated the Castle sometime recently after learning of how to destroy it, but somebody kinda just stole it to just put it on display in our house (somewhere, it’s probably still in the moving boxes that we haven’t unpacked). We do have a history of just keeping powerful mystical artifacts laying around in our trophy room, like how we have a cursed Chaos runesword that spreads plague to everything near it just chilling next to this nifty dwarven luckstone that we found. Admittedly, we’re very stupid.
So, just as throwing out some basic ideas to how to rework the maps, if we wanted to keep all three from the first game.
Summoner’s Peak becomes the first map. We start to clear out some Skaven/Chaos encampments and portals that are surrounding the Castle proper. I don’t know why we delve into the Castle itself, only to have the third map be wandering around the Castle in the first game. It seems like they tacked on Summoner’s Peak after they ran out of time making the first two maps.
The Dungeons explores the heart of the Castle to retrieve some other spooky relic that we need to destroy the Drachengral chalice. Maybe the Castle recognizes all of us and isn’t too entirely thrilled with us being there, so it does some extra spooky stuff to actively try to kill us. Maybe it does something really cool and we find ghost Stormvermin and Chaos Warriors with some spooky translucent appearance combined with the Shyish-ish invisibility stuff in the deepest depths of the Castle proper, since we recall the quote “he was known to imprison the souls of his victims and keep them as playthings”. That definitely adds some spook factor where we think “man, let’s totally not die in this dungeon right now”. It also doesn’t seem too terribly intense to port some of Shyish into the main game, as well as slapping a translucent texture on an enemy like how every other game handles spooky ghosts. I mean, look, this guy basically looks like a Chaos Warrior ghost in Skyrim. Maybe we even fight the ghost of the Rat Ogre we killed in the first game at the end of the level. That’d be spooky.
Castle Drachenfels, where we revisit the iconic parts of the Castle like the Poison Feast and that creepy blood fountain temple. They weren’t there last time, but maybe the Castle will try and spook us by bringing out the statuesque corpses of the feast’s victims to display there. Instead of doing the challenge where we bring three Statuettes to the altar, which is completely trivialized by movement skills and invisibility, we bring our artifacts we’ve gathered to destroy the Chalice at the altar itself. Also, we could have a boss fight where Constant Drachenfels himself possesses a Chaos Champion or some other Lord-level enemy, to thank us for bringing back his Chalice, showing his gratitude by killing us. Think “Chaos Champion” except also he’s going to throw magic fireballs at you because he’s good at that wizbiz stuff.
Characterization of Geneviève
I didn’t read all her novels, so I know basically the wiki page backgrounds about Geneviève. At the same time, she is like 700 years old at this point in the End Times, so it’s possible that she has matured and changed a bit over the years. Who can say? All we know is that she probably doesn’t skip out on her bar tabs.
She’d be an interesting complement to the existing cast. Let’s break it down in bullet points:
Kerillian will either respect her or have to come up with more original material than calling her “mayfly” or “lumberfoot”, since she is functionally immortal and very nimble. Kerillian may even empathize with her plight of being a wandering outcast, like with Bardin.
Sienna may also like her because she maybe gleaned a thing or two about wizbiz over the years, although fire probably isn’t Geneviève’s favorite lore to practice.
Kruber, being the sole survivor of a necromancer attack, is likely prejudiced against the undead. At the same time, she’s probably pretty cute, so he may have some issues with being “scare-roused”, and he does have some lines questioning about the state of Bretonnia to help ease along conversation. Most of the characters at least refer to Bretonnia in some capacity, so that’s a somewhat easy win to have conversations with a vampire.
Bardin is probably at least a little uneasy about her as a vampire, although they may relate on being well-traveled outcasts.
But most importantly of all, she’s another female character and heretic for Saltzpyre to be confused and frustrated by, so that’s even better. Imagine a run with Saltzpyre, Kerillian, Sienna, Geneviève all at once. He would be absolutely fuming about it, and that’s great. I could see her playing well with all the existing cast members.
I’m kind of imagining her voice as something like Widowmaker from the little indie game called Overwatch, which you may be familiar with. She’s French and also she’s technically cold and dead. She’d probably be a little less evil sounding, but maybe not. I’m not sure. If we can’t afford her, maybe we can hire her non-union Bretonnian equivalent.
Worried about the sun, crossing running water, or waltzing around holy ground? Well, we could have some mumbo jumbo with Olesya saying that her Shadow magic is helping Genevieve fight with us, because holy crap Olesya seems OP and basically able to do whatever. Maybe that’s a good way to nerf her as well, if she’s slightly weakened due to Olesya’s magic that lets her run around with us in the daytime.
On top of that, maybe Lohner is collecting donations from a blood-drive where he mysteriously gets regular supplies to our keep on the top of a mountain, so Genevieve isn’t going to be an awkward bloodthirsty weirdo. Maybe she needs blood like Bardin needs ale, so one of the artifacts we’re looking for is something that gives an infinite, humanely-sourced supply of blood (instead of humanly-sourced). Doing errands for her in the Drachenfels DLC might be Geneviève’s unlock pre-condition, much like the weapons for other DLCs.
- Spear, since Fatshark loves spears. Also, we could call it a “pike” because that’s the French-sounding word and so it’s totally not just a spear like Saltzpyre’s Billhook and Kruber’s Tuskgor Spear.
Executioner Sword or Greatsword because she’s definitely strong enough to wield the sword.exe like a toothpick. Maybe she can have Kerillian’s style of swinging the sword like a weirdo.
Falchion because it’s a French-derived word and it’d be hilarious to give her a Saltzpyre weapon. Also, you know what? He has a bunch of unique weapons that he never uses because they’re overshadowed by the Axe + Falchion and the flail. Use it or lose it, Salty mains.
- Rapier for the same reasons as Falchion, however we should keep the pistol alt-fire aspect of it unique to Saltzpyre. Maybe give hers the bonus headshot damage that Saltz has on WHC with Deathknell, and we should give hers some extra crit chance to compensate for the lack of pistol.
- Derringer because a two-shot pistol French-sounding pistol sounds cool, even though I know it’s not a French word. Also, Saltzpyre has one for his ult, so that’d be hilarious to take a weapon from him again.
Longbow is a good choice because she would definitely be strong enough to shoot like Kruber and Kerillian, as well as having had enough time being alive to learn how. Kerillian says she would need many decades to teach Kruber how to shoot an arrow like an elf, and Geneviève has had time to kill. Maybe a Swift Bow too, so we can have another weapon that never gets used because it sucks (again, I’m joking, don’t @ me)
Volley Crossbow because it was also introduced in Drachenfels, “volley” is derived from the French word “volée” and “volare” for “to fly”. Vampires fly like bats, case closed. Also, again, Saltzpyre sharing arsenal with a vampire is still hilarious. Maybe we can compromise and give her one similar to Kerillian’s, since it’s only for Shade and barely anyone uses it (don’t @ me in the comments about this, shut up)
- Maybe a mage staff of some sort if we want to make the case that she should have a powerful grasp of magic, naturally, as a vampire. I doubt we’d want to give her the lore of fire like Sienna, so this takes more thought. But, it’s an idea if we want her to be a spellcaster with some wizbiz. Shyish sends out heat-seeking soul bombs at us like a needler, so why not that? Moving on.
Here, I’ll throw out some basic ideas and even the ideas for
level 30 level 35 talents.
Melee-DPS career: Basic bloodlust-driven melee ult where her melee prowess is increased and she generates temp health from hitting enemies (like the old Zealot level 25 talent that’s gone). Make it into a shout or a dash like everyone else has as a bread-and-butter class. You could even come up with some of the level 35 talents around this:
- Share the attack speed buff with your allies
- Share the temp health regen with your allies
- Kills during ult reduce cooldown
Support/mixed career: Take the Shade’s Cloak of Mist talent that removes Infiltrate’s bonus damage and throw it in the trash. Then, take it out of the trash, slap some extra movement speed on it, and give it to Geneviève. The whole idea of a phasewalk support talent to go invisible, reposition, and help allies is cool, but totally unfitting for Shade. Also, it’s fitting because vampires totally turn into mist and stuff.
- Refunds and reduces the cooldown of ult when an ally goes down. This effect can only occur every 60 seconds or something so it’s not OP.
- Geneviève can shoot freely with her ranged weapon without breaking stealth, like the old Kerillian talent, Shadowhunter
- Increases the duration of invisibilty and further increases your movement speed by 10% during Cloak of Mist.
Ranged wizbiz career: Vampires are immortal and are supposed to be pretty good at doing wizbiz magic stuff, so you could give her some mastery over another non-fire lore. Maybe Death, maybe Shadow. I don’t know. Don’t make her a necromancer, that’ll hurt Kruber’s feelings.
Lahmian: Geneviève is supposed to be a secret descendant of the sexy all-female Vampire clique, so maybe she embraces a little bit of the sisterhood. Maybe she gets the ability Dominate - you can enthrall a man-sized, non-special enemy. Thralls will get increased attack power and health. You can only have one servant at a time, using the ult again will kill your previous thrall. It’s kinda like “Dominator” from Payday 2, where we can convince a cop to help us rob a bank somehow. It seems a lot more reasonable to get a rat to kill another rat.
- You can now dominate 3 enemies. Reduces the cooldown of Dominate. Dominating a fourth enemy will kill the first thrall. Now you can play true solo, but still have three teammates to help you.
- Using “Dominate” on a special, monster, or large enemy will cause them to turn temporarily, including releasing allies from their grasp. It could be a skill to make a special or Chaos Spawn release your ally, it could make a Chaos Warrior chill out to attack their friends, or you could temporarily make the Ratling Gunner into your actual teammate instead of your accidental teammate.
- Increases the attack power and movement speed of your thrall. Dominated enemies explode upon death, damaging nearby enemies. You could send in a rat to suicide bomb a horde either by dying when he charges in alone or being super cheeky and using your ult again to kill him.
Anyways, slap those talents on her, give her some stagger and temp health stuff, and you’re basically halfway done with the talent trees for Geneviève. That’s 3 out of 6 tiers. I’m sure you could give her some stuff like “+50% headshot damage” and “+30% maximum ammunition” or any number of cookie-cutter talents that are plaguing the rest of the talent trees. Easy peasy. /s
Drachenfels is a really cool DLC from the first game because it’s spooky and horrific the first time you go through it.
Instead of just straight remastering the levels, like Back to Ubersreik, where it’s dumb to shoehorn us in an “illusion” context on levels that were never intended to have Chaos, remake the DLC where we revisit the old setting.
Castle Drachenfels itself is a spooky “living” entity that seems to be able of regenerating damage and reconfiguring its layout, so that can be justification why the Castle layout is different than we remember. It allows us veterans to recapture that spookiness of playing it for the first time and side-steps the issue of “why is this remaster of three maps $10 when I can buy Halo Remastered for $10?”
The Drachengral chalice is super spooky and also never mentioned again, kinda like how we have the Blightreaper just collecting dust next to our other crap in the attic. We could say that it is the “heart” of the Castle and Constant Drachenfels himself, so we can take it back to the Castle to destroy it.
Geneviève may be here to provide some exposition and say "hey you idiots, why do you have this Chalice just sitting somewhere collecting dust? Let’s go destroy it. Also I’m a vampire, deal with it."
Geneviève is a vampire and it’d be totally funny if she had some weapons similar to Saltzpyre’s because the weapon names are Frenchie-sounding and she is French. It’d be ironic.
Geneviève is a vampire and she can do totally cool vampire stuff for some of her career skills such as:
A “bloodlust” shout that knocks enemies back, increases her attack speed and making it so strikes during her ult recover temporary health, kinda like the Zealot talent, Pleasure from Pain, that got deleted.
Cloak of Mist, one of Shade’s new level 35 talents, could be thrown in the trash because it’s stupid to remove her ability to kill bosses and Chaos Warriors. Then, we could take it out of the trash and give it to Geneviève because turning into mist is a cool ability that vampires have.
Dominate is an ability unique to Lahmian vampires, which is a sexy all-female Vampire clique that she was “born” into, so to speak. She could mind-control some enemies to buff them and make them turn on their allies. I mean, Ratling Gunners basically already turn on their allies anyway, if we’re going to be honest. It’s also kinda like “Dominator” from Payday 2 where you can somehow convince a cop to help rob a bank with you.
It’d be really funny to add a female vampire to the gang because both the female and vampire aspects will confused and anger Saltzpyre. Imagine doing a run with Saltzpyre, Kerillian, Sienna, and Geneviève. That’d be hilarious. All of the dialogue could basically just be “shut up, Saltzpyre” with him grumbling about heretics.