Hi, welcome to this guide about the zones and zone order in the AoA campaign. For zone order in EoR campaign, follow this link.
The zone order you find in quest log is the best way to get killed and we don’t want that. The zone order currently on the wiki is alright and I often link it to new players asking for advice. But I still think some of the things are odd, and a description of the zone could be added imo. In this post I’ll try to give a detailed view and order of every zone of the game, optional or mandatory, including the few differences between normal/nightmare and insane playthroughs. I’ll also list the locations with alternative layout or “alt-zone”.
Of course this list will be spoilery since nothing can be done to avoid that, and there won’t be a TL;DR because there are a lot of zones with some interchangeable, some optional and I don’t want to have a 50 line TL;DR
Some symbols for faster descriptions of areas.
- ■, unlit: important because lacking vision means lacking information
- /*/, Optional : technically, only like 5 zones are mandatory. In practice I’ll call optional those dungeons which do not fit as nicely in the difficulty curves and don’t offer interesting rewards.
- /!/, Require event : not all zones are available at the start of the game, some have a chance to appear as you play, some are pushed by Darkgod randomly.
Dungeons are 3 levels unless otherwise specified.
Chapter 1 - The beginning :
New characters start in different zones depending on race and class. Here is a quick rundown :
Special start (listed by order of precedence, if you have 2 special starts the one higher up on the list will define your starting zone) :
- ■ Undead start : Ghoul and Skeleton. Start in Blighted Ruins, at level 3, and climb back up to 1 where a boss is waiting for you, but you can go to the worldmap without killing him if needed. Contains vaults, better be ready to run if you try, especially because of 40dmg/turn 40 turns diseases. Small vaults, the one with an armored skelly in the middle should be fine though.
- Drem start : Drem. Start in Kroshkkur, a special city only accessible at start and with a special teleport spell. Can access a special starting dungeon, ■ the maggot, and north of the town you have an egress code for a special zone later in the game. You have 999 turns to enter the maggot, if you wait more Kroshkkur is destroyed and you can't access it again. The maggot is populated with oozemancer type enemies and the boss will attack you from range 10. It is advised to shop/clear a few levels before entering it.
- Krog start : Krog. Start in the Ruins of Kor'pul. Lets you skip special starts but since special starts are all based on races or magic classes... Good luck if you play Krog AM/Demo/TW (though some people won those combos already anyway :p)
- Demon start : Doomelf, Demonologist, Doombringer. Start in Searing Halls, a dungeon in orbit around Eyal. After killing the boss a portal to Eyal appears, it will drop you in the level 2 of a random T1 dungeon (possibly with an escort!) If no escort, use the Rod of Recall right away to get back to world map. If there is an escort… well it depends how you feel about leaving them alone! Trollmire is fine to clear.
- Demented start : Writhing One, Cultist of Entropy. Exactly the same as Drem start. Start in Kroshkkur.
- ■ Dwarf start : Dwarf. Start in Escape from Reknor with your buddy Norgan. You can skip the boss if needed. After leaving the dungeon you arrive in the special dwarf town, Iron Council.
- Yeek start : Yeek. Start in the town of Irkkk. You have to complete 2 dungeons to proceed to main land. First is the ■ ritch tunnels, use corners to avoid getting pelted by flamespit. Then Murgol’s lair, a water dungeon. Possible alt-zone, filled with nagas instead of yaech. Alt is harder.
- Celestial start : Combo of celestial class + human/elf metarace. Start in the gates of morning, has to do the slazish fens and destroy the portal at the end this summons the boss and teleport you both to the level 2 of a random T1 dungeon (possibly with an escort!). If no escort, kill the boss then use the Rod of Recall right away to get back to world map. If there is an escort… well they're likely going to die!
- Archmage start : Archmage. Start in Angolwen where you are prompted an optional quest. It brings you to a dungeon in space where you are required to use your “phase door” talent to move around. As it is an optional start, monsters can be rare+ and this is a hard zone in insane+!
- Chronomancer start : Chronomancer metaclass. Start in Point Zero where you are prompted an optional quest. It brings you to a dungeon filled with temporal spiders. As it is an optional start, monsters can be rare+ and this is a very hard zone in insane+!
Standard start (anything not listed above, class doesn’t matter only race) :
- Trollmire : human, higher, halfling
- Norgos : thalore
- Scintillating caves : shalore, ogre
Chapter 2 – The Wilderness and T1 dungeons :
So you did your optional or mandatory special start and you arrived on world map. Standard start, you just have to change level right away and you’ll be on the worldmap like everyone else. The question now is : what do?
There are 6 “T1 dungeons”, showed blue on the map : Trollmire, Norgos, Scintinllating caves (scint), Heart of the gloom (Hog), Kor’Pul, and Rhaloren camp. You have no reason not to do all of them before moving on. In insane there is a special rule making Trollmire and Kor’pul easier than the rest (no randboss monsters)
Now is the part where you finally care about what I say and are ready to disagree.
- Trollmire 1-3: The easiest on all difficulties, alt version is almost the same. The level 4 is unlocked by founding the note on the level 3 boss but you’ll want to come back later just to be safe.
- Kor’Pul/Norgos/Scint : those 3 are notably easier than rhaloren and HoG and should be done first, order to taste. Oh, never select “stroll" when the option appears after your first two t1 dungeons, you miss loot/XP, and they might not actually be trivial!
- ■ Kor’pul : always second on insane. The boss is a noob killer because he can snipe you from range 10 before you see him see picture
Having a pick (bought from derth or from doing the lumberjack quest) trivializes the boss (remember dig in diagonal so it won’t see you once digging is over). Alt Kor’pul is filled with rogues and is harder but has no surprise boss.
- Norgos : nothing special, alt version is cold themed and easier (less snakes).
- Scint : filled with long range enemies who can’t move except with random tp, which makes it an easy zone. Alt version has more floors but the floors are smaller.
- Derth (Arena)/Lumberjack quest/Trollmire 4 : some misc areas to not forget before going for the harder T1 dungeons.
- Derth (arena) : has to be done before level 14 otherwise you won't be able to do it. I like to do it around level 8-10. 2 gen points for an easy fight! While you’re in derth check for a lantern of health.
- Cursed lumberjack quest : short side track from the T1 since the easiest ones are done, also free pick!
- Trollmire 4 : I often do this one right after Trollmire 3 but it’s safer to wait until you’ve done the easy T1s
- Rhaloren/HoG/Dwarf dungeon
- ■ Rhaloren : bursty mages who moves, unlike those in scint, make this a harder T1 than the other.
- HoG : tons of mobs who will all fling debuff (damaging and status) at you. Expect to be pinned and poisoned nonstop. The standard version is afflicted theme with shadows and darkness, the alt one is psionic themed with sleep and mindslayers. Alt is easier. The zone gets much harder in insane, normal might do this earlier.
- If dwarf, go back to the iron council and enter the deep bellow. The boss is special and invulnerable, you have to kill the critters it spawns to damage him. Bats are a pain in the levels before the boss (bursty and flee a lot)
This concludes the early game. Now onwards to the hardest part, the T2s!
Chapter 3 – T2 dungeons and misc zones with rewards :
The T2s are the great killer; it’s the part of the game where you are still fragile but the mobs starts to get stronger and with better gear. The T2 are : Sandworm Lair (SWL), the Maze, Old Forest (OF) and Daikara (written in orange on the map).
- OF (in normal/nightmare) : big insane killer : continuing to do OF first because you got used to it in normal. The mobs base types make them scary when rare/randboss, but you won’t see any in normal so come here first.
- SWL/Maze : spawn T4-T5 gear in chests which is really useful, easier than daikara (and way easier than OF in insane)
- ■ SWL : Yes the walls falling on you suck but you can usually buy/find a belt/lantern of undeath removing the need to breathe and/or a psychoport for emergency tp, or have a tp already. Besides, it’s easy to predict. What sucks is not having good light radius because the place is unlit and seeing far is even more important than usual. I hate alt SWL, with the huge burrowers, with a burning passion though. The place is harder because you can never go back, it has less loot and that first level is SO LONG. Normal version is 4 floors with 9-10 room per floor, alt version is 2 floors.
- ■ The Maze : Normal maze is the easiest T2 but has less loot than alt. Alt gimmick is that you jump through holes in the ground and don’t have stairs back up! The monsters in alt maze are also significantly stronger (horror theme). Normal is 2 levels, alt is 4.
- Hidden Tunnels : explore the snowy regions to find the hidden tunnels. Can spawn starting at level 10 but I’d rather be at least 15 usually. First level is all corridors, with rogues. On the second level, attack the rogue near the entrance and never move to the right, it’ll ensure you don’t damage the merchant by accident. If you do damage him, leaving the level will still save him (as long as he is not dead!)
- /*/ Hidden compound : OF is my biggest fear so I delay as much as I can. Hidden is relatively easy, as long as you don’t get grappled. Don’t underestimate the slaves, try not to aggro them again after saving them. On the 3rd level you can talk to the boss and decide to fight in the ring of blood to win bloodcaller, a really powerful ring artifact.
- /*/ Golem graveyard : short zone, just to open the few chests in there in hope of a lucky drop. Sometimes the zone is higher level and you should not do it so early, pay attention to the message in the log when you enter.
- /*/ Derth : lightning elemental invasion, start once you reach level 14. Bring lightning res/charged torque and don’t rush in the middle. Required for Urkis quest.
- I have recently decided to do daikara before OF and… it’s working surprisingly well. Need more tries to be sure but it feels much safer that way.
- OF (in insane) : difficulty varies from playthrough to playthrough but has the potential of being deadly. Lots of mobs with high speed, possible thunderstorm event. Alt version is invaded by crystals, which makes it much easier, except the boss which is harder. Don’t go into the lake of nur right away.
- Daikara : a big noob killer. The one that gets yelled at the most, the boulder throwers, are not that bad though. Since they knock you back only one of them can get you at once! And they can be lured around corners, so don’t rush in. The giants are immune to confusion and poison though, that can be a pain. Alt daikara is more dangerous because random meteors disrupt terrain and the last level is a big open space, awful for the player. Don’t go into the temporal rift.
- ■ Halfling ruins : prepare you for Dreadfell by being filled with undead. On the 4th level you fight subject Z and try to save the yeek (if you’re not Halfling). Saving the yeek will net you 15 mental save and 10% conf immunity, which is always nice.
- /!/ Anteroom of Agony : If you are a Demo/Doombringer/Doomelf, an event can happen everytime you use the Rod of Recall starting level 18 (20% chance). Chances go up with level and reach 90% at level 27 iirc. You are brought back to the demon plane and have to go through 3 levels to escape. Not that bad, unless you get yanked at low level.
Chapter 4 – Dreadfell and filler zones :
Sometimes you want to do every zone, for fun, to find that one artifact you want, for one more level before tackling something big, etc… Just before/after dreadfell is a good moment for several areas. Roughly increasing order of difficulty but if you’re doing those zones you know they are usually tougher than progressing along the story anyway. Nothing in here is required except Dreadfell/Reknor.
- /*/ Tempest peak : go fight Urkis, the lightning archmage gone mad. If you do it through zigur, you will reveal the fungus category, locked. Bring movement infusion and charged torque.
- /*/ Temporal rift : first level can be a huge pain for melee char, and you won’t be able to leave once you start. Found in Daikara 3. Finish it to get the rune of the rift (which you probably won’t use)
- /*/ Spellblaze scar : 2 levels, populated by lightning/fire elementals and rhaloren, who are fighting each other. When fighting The Grand Corruptor you might get the option to destroy Zigur with him. The area is also used to corrupt the sandworm queen heart.
- /*/ Lake of Nur : first level is a water dungeon, second can be either normal or water too (alt version). The alt version is way easier but dealing with oxygen is more annoying. At the end of level 2 you find the fortress. The fortress guardian kills your sustains to heal but is otherwise not dangerous.
- /*/■ Dremshor Tunnels : only accessible if you started in Kroshkkur. You need to use the code found in the town into the egress. Needed to unlock Drem and for an achievement. On level 2 you fight the Amalgamation, a boss that has... interesting reaction everytime it hits a certain HP treshold
- /*/ Tranquil meadow : Special Cursed zone. Boss and base enemies are pretty harsh. You get a special item out of it, stats depending on your choices during the quest.
- /!/ Bearscape/Pikataclysm/Poosh/Santascape : all those event zones pushed by Darkgod are best done once you have reached 30 and unlocked your first prod. Bearscape is great for loot, Poosh/Pika for the unique rewards.
- /*/■ Ruined dungeon : Wild card, can be really tough or really easy. Can be used to farm ingredient for alch potion by purposefully activating the wrong orbs at the end of the level.
- /!/ Old Conclave Vault : Unlocked by finding Hompalan in the Halfling ruins level 3 (30% chance, 100% if shalore).
- /!/ Dogroth caldera : this zone might spawn (30% chance, 100% if yeek) once you reach level 20. First level is easy, second can be dangerous if you fall asleep while fighting strong enemies.
- /*/ Last Hope graveyard : Open the coffins before opening the door at the end, it’ll make the fight much easier. No reward unless necro trying to go lich.
- /*/■ Dark crypt : has a chance to pop up while you’re walking on the worldmap if you’re at least level 24. It’s a really hard area where you get tp’d by mobs and with huge spike damage.
- /!/ Sludgenest : can spawn once you reach level 30 (30% chance, 100% if thalore), 3 levels, the second one can be used to farm almost infinitely as walls turn into enemies, but it gets too hard fast at this level.
- /!/■ Scourge pits : can spawn once you reach level 20 (30% chance, 100% if drem). Similar to sludgnest but with a corrupted vibe. In level 1 "trees" in LoS will turn into enemies every once in a while. And the trees likes to pull you to them. Unlockable wyrmic tree inside.
- ■ Dreadfell : 9 levels, unlit, greater vaults. Try those at your own perils; they are manageable IF you know what you’re doing. The zone is filled with undead and at level 9 you’ll find the Master. After getting the staff from the master and exiting dreadfell you’ll encounter the ambush. If you die here you don’t really die UNLESS you killed the boss before dying. Worth knowing.
- /*/■ Elven ruins : another optional zone with no rewards. Great music though! 2 small/medium levels then a huge one. Filled with mummies, which you won’t see anywhere else.
- /!/ Necromancers' ruins : you'll need to be antimagic for this one. After passing the test in Zigur and reaching level 20, go to Last Hope. You'll get a message and the ruins will appear on the world map. I do not advise going at level 20 as the zone is pretty hard, as usual 30 is a good point because prodigy. The second level is timed and looks like this. You need to save all the Krogs to unlock the Krog race. You have 40 turns, after which the time prison around the Krogs will end and they'll be able to take damage again. The necromancers like to remain invisible and throw a lot of AoE/debuffs. The Grand Necromancer is a lich. Perfect strike is a must for weapon classes.
- ■ Reknor : Story time again. HUGE levels. Sometimes a level is just filled with patchwork trolls instead of orcs and let’s just say, you will notice the difference. On level 3 you find the orb of many ways and use it to activate the portal.
Chapter 4.5 - The forbidden cults tomes
I'd rather put those all together even if they are of vastly different difficulty level and this seemed as good a time as any
- /!/ Tome "A view from the gallery" : kill rats and rabbits to gather food. Food is stored between playthrough. Can't die for real in it, unlimited tries. If you gather enough food, gain a little reward.
- /!/ Tome "The day it came" : follow instructions to unlock Cultist of Entropy and gain a little reward. Can't die for real in it, unlimited tries.
- /!/ Tome "The Illusory Castle" : you'll have to complete three paths and activate three pedestals to be able to enter the final level. As you progress in the chapters you get an ever bigger malus to mind resist, confusion immunity, and mental save. The boss is the glass golem and there is a trick to defeat him, read carefully what happens depending on where you kill him... Or if you're ready to be spoiled keep reading this sentence that I'm prolonging for the sole reason that I want to be sure you didn't read this by accident and really wanted to be spoiled after all you're reading a guide goddamn it! Actually click here, easier to avoid the spoils that way :p Beating the glass golem as an alchemist will unlock the glass golem for yourself. Which is pretty sweet.
- /!/ Tome "Of knowledge and horrors" : once entered the tome is destroyed. HARD area. "Do not do before prides or arguably before winning" hard. Filled with horrors, undiggable walls. You can find founts of knowledge, which can give you +3 stat points, +1 class/generic point, +1 category point, or +1 prodigy point. The last two are exceedingly rare. 3 levels, each containing 0-3 founts. On the last level you find the boss, The One That Writes, who is invulnerable until you closed the 3 books scattered in the level. Killing him grants another tome. You start each level on the exit to reality, can't go back to a lower level after proceeding.
- /!/ Tome "Home, horrific home" : Looted on the body of The One That Writes. Can be activated from inventory to be teleported to a safe place after 5 turns. You can harm yourself on torture devices to generate vim/insanity. If used in combat you'll be pulled out after a few turns.
Chapter 5 – First time east
Congratulations, the first half of the game is over. This is what the east looks like
First part is the orange zones, we’ll come back for the red ones later. Temple of creation can be anywhere remotely near water, so almost anywhere on the map. It appears once you walk close to it and is showed here as an example.
- You arrived in an unlit cave, nothing special, just clear it and go up the stairs toward the wilderness. Can RoR out of it if something really bad is there, at worse.
- South east of the caves you’ll find the Gates of Morning, talk to Aeryn to be allowed in. Then talk to her again to get the talent Relentless Pursuit. Go to the house just north of her to reveal the vor armoury on your map. Finally go west of that and talk to the woman to get a quest and reveal Ardhungol on the map.
- First go to Ardhungol, slightly north of Gates. It’s 3 levels, progressively smaller and with high density of spiders. The boss drops the rod of spydric poison, which can be used from inventory and is very useful.
- Then go further north and enter the Vor Armoury (NOT the vor pride bastion!) First level is very small with only corridors, it’s one of the most dangerous zones in the game. Second level has many small rooms, a big one on the right and a medium one top. Don’t open the top one before later, it’s filled with Overpowered Greater Multi-hued Wyrm way above your level. Once you’ve cleared the rest, open the door leading to the big room on the right. Expect cryo and pyromancer to tp all other the place and Gnarg to rush you. In other words retreat and channel them as much as you can. Once you cleared them all you’ll find one of the plot items you’re looking for, go back to Gates and talk to the guy in the house north of Aeryn again, he’ll mark a new location for you.
- Briagh’s lair is on the south-east of the continent and you’ll most likely run into patrols in the way. Orc patrols are notably harder to avoid than patrols in the west and unfortunately they’re also harder to fight. Once you reached briagh be ready for a long fight, enemies keep coming at you for a while. You’ll find the item you’re looking for on the boss, get back to Gates and take the portal back to Maj’Eyal!
Chapter 6 – Back west, long time no see
- Backup guardians : while you were in the east, some new guys have come to find a home in the the levels you’ve cleared. No order necessary here, just the list. (showed on maj’eyal map by a *)
- Trollmire 2 - aluin
- Kor’pul 3 - kor’s fury
- Scint 3 - spellblaze simulacrum
- SWL 1 - corrupted sand wyrm. This guy is important because it gives you a category point !
- OF 3 - snaproot
- Maze 2 - nimissil
- Daikara 4 - massok. Notably stronger than the others, huge spike damage and unstoppable.
- Dreadfell 1 - pale drake
- Dwarf only, deep bellow 3 - the abomination
- Reknor 4 - lithfengel. Be careful if you have several diseases, catalepsy can hit hard. Never died to it myself but it's apparently not uncommon?
- Last hope : the backup guardians aren’t too tough so we did them first but now is the time to talk to the merchant we saved from assassin lord, and buy really good items for 4k gold.
- /*/ Tannen : You could go back east at this point, nothing prevents you from taking the portal like last time. But if you go talk to last hope elder he’ll send you to tannen where you get 2 choices, hand over the orb of many ways or not. Don’t.
In both cases he’ll ask you to go see in reknor again, but you already killed lithfengel so you can talk to him again (may have to leave and reenter town)
- /*/ Come back to tannen, again you get two choices
- If you hand over the orb he’ll send you to see a new area, north of last hope, called ruins of telmur. In it you’ll find at least one of the 3 pieces needed for the telos prodigy. You come back to him and he transports you to his dungeons (*gasp* traitor!)
- If you don’t, he tells you to go use the portal again in reknor. Upon using the orb you are transported to the fearscape, find the boss and kill him to create a portal to escape. The portal will bring you in tannen’s dungeons.
- Tannen’s tower is a few levels, with him and his dragon golem at the top, after killing him, you can take the portal back to last hope where they made a farportal for easier east <-> west transportation.
Chapter 7 - east, we meet again
This is the home stretch. Time to do the few extra zones if you want but otherwise the story is “soon" over. Red zones on the map.
- /*/ Temple of creation : water dungeon but without bubbles! Requires gear to get through. Needed for naloren prodigy.
- /*/ Shadow crypt : fight ghosts then yourself. Can cheese the clone fight by removing equipment before getting cloned.
- /!/ Valley of the moon : if you got the “ancient tome of gems" you can go talk to Liimir in gates of morning. You’ll get a new zone on your map, clear the 2-3 levels then sumon him via a scroll in your inventory. If you protect him for a few hundred turns he’ll then be able to craft powerful amulets for you. You can come see him with a white voratun amulet and 2 different gems so he combines them, even adding a random third in the process. Best used with a couple of artifact gems.
- /*/ Vor armoury vault : do whenever you feel confident, possibly after a pride or two. Engage the wyrm one by one. Or skip it until after you’ve won!
- Prides : time to beat some orcs and progress the story. My usual order :
- Vor/Rakshor pride : vor pride is the easiest though annoying with all the tp going on. Vor himself though can be quite dangerous, stripping crucial buffs like heroism, and is a bit hard to catch. Rakshor pride is a bit harder because undead are durable but i never had any problem in it and Rakshor himself is easily the weakest pride leader. The unique found in Rakshor pride have some good burst potential (Glacial Legion freeze and Rotting Titan with his Blighted Maul)
- Eruan : not a pride but you have no reason not to do it after the first one or two prides. Unless you want some specifics achievements. It’s an easy desert zone which end with a portal to the charred scar. All magical tp used in the charred scar will teleport you away from the exit but stuff like dreamwalk/oozewalk, or dashes like rush work properly. Don’t fight the mobs, you will still be able to do that after beating the boss at the end and you’re on a timer. If you fight them (because you can't outrun them, or you just want to) don't press 'r' after, it's going to cost you too many turns unless you have great life/ressource regen which means you'll regen fine enough while walking!
- Gorbat pride : so many status from wyrmic breaths, i hate this pride. And Gorbat himself is easily the most powerful pride leader. Aren’t you glad his OP wyrms got stolen and are sitting in vor armoury?
- Grushnak pride : zone is easy, just have armor. The barracks are tough when they use battle call to lure you in the middle of the room but if you can channel them in the corridor you’re fine. Grushnak himself is a pushover, just a bit long to kill.
- Once you’ve finished grushnak you’ll find some slimy tunnels. Inside those there will be 4 pedestals where you can use the orbs you looted on the pride leader corpses. Each will summon a powerful boss that you need to defeat. The pedestal of undeath is massively more dangerous than the others. Once all 4 bosses are dispatched it’s time to take the stairs to high peak. You will not be able to go back after taking those stairs, so if you still have 4k gold, now is the time to see the merchant! (don't forget to transmogrify your gems for gold)
- High peak is 10 levels, each ending with a stair guardian. You do not have to kill the guardians to take the stairs, luring them away then running for the stairs is enough. They are some of the toughest monsters you can meet. On HP 10 you’ll find a portal and need to use the orb of many ways to activate it. You’ll enter the final fight when you do. If you have cults expansion enabled, you'll find egress codes in each High Peak floor. Every code leads to the same post-win boss, the Hypostasis of Entropy. Symbols are read from left to right and top top to bottom if on the same column.
Epilogue - bonus content
Congratulations, you won! \o/
Now go prove how good you are by :
- Killing Athamathon in the golem graveyard
- Killing Linaniil in Angolwen
- Killing the Hypostasis of Entropy
- Clearing the sludgenest entirely
- Go into the ruined dungeon and enter the ID (no turning back, ever!)
Thanks Orange and Tinyreaver for re-reading this and helping with some changes