Butcherblock is a massive zone, one of several large zones on the continent of Faydwer. It lies between Greater Faydark and the Ocean of Tears, and holds the docks for the boat leaving to Freeport on its edge. The dwarven city of Kaladim is one of the impressive sites in this region, and many tall ridges separate this region up into areas that are almost zones unto themselves.
Butcherblocks greatest dangers are those that you bring on yourself. What I mean by this is that there are not a large number of roaming aggressive monsters, but instead there are a large number of creatures that exist in camps that are dangerous and will group up and crush you, and it is easy to feel like you can take on a camp only to realize too late that there was a goblin shaman hiding in a tent or that the other undead pawn was a little too close on the Chessboard. The only creatures that I see consistently presenting a danger of this sort are the orc runners that occasionally move through the farthest region of Butcherblock, near the zone edge to Greater Faydark. The huts here offer false solace, there are no guards and the NPC's will attack nothing that comes here, except characters.
Most of the danger here is represented in dangerous areas and camps. By far the most dangerous is the Chessboard, a very disturbing area that can easily be your grave unless you are extremely careful. The area seems quiet enough, but attacking one of these very powerful undead when it is too close to another can quickly spell your demise. Most of the other dangerous areas or the goblin camps, which spawn goblins ranging in levels from 4th to 9th or 10th, including occasionally a goblin shaman or wizard, which are tougher than their level lets on. There are also several aggressive skeleton spawn spots at the ruins further out, and several camps of aggressive dwarf bandits. There are also some high level aqua goblin camps along the shoreline, and a camp of enraged goblins off the path to the docks from town, also very high level relative to the rest of the zone.
Butcherblock is, by far, one of my favorite zones to start a character in. You could honestly never leave the zone, travelling within its confines until you reached 7th or 8th level, and you could adventure there even longer in a group. Eventually, the need for something elsewhere will drag you away, but I guarantee you'll be back. One of my babies in the beta was a dwarven cleric, and I miss travelling in this zone.
That said, now on to the reasoning behind my beliefs. First off, the zone is never that crowded. It is so spread out that it rarely becomes a nuisance that there are too many people around, and there are entire areas that you can hunt in with maybe one other person as the only other player you see all night long. You get experience quicker in this environment as well as wealth, and I was buddies will all of those other characters who hunted in my area, as I would often take a deep breath after a tough battle to turn around and find them there, watching me in case something went horribly wrong.
As I mentioned above, the zone itself can effectively be broken up into more zones within it, as guard houses keep monsters from entering other areas and the walls prevent much cross-wandering. This is good if you want to get away from the rush and hunt in your own area. It is also good because the designers took advantage of this and created areas within Butcherblock to suit someone of every level. Like I said (probably too often) above, you could live in this zone for the first 8 levels of your character, which is good for rogues, for instance, who have to keep going home to get a new skill.
The other good thing about the zone is that there are a number of places to sell and buy goods without having to zone. There are a set of huts by the zone to Greater Faydark with all manner of goods that other adventurers have sold there. There are also huts along the water edge closer to the docks, and there are high elves making a killing selling food to people by the docks themselves.
Travelling To and From Butcherblock
Kaladim's entrance lies in the middle of the northern edge of the zone. West of the huge statue that signifies the home of the dwarves is the dock, where you can catch the very infrequent boat to Freeport (don't miss it!). Listen for cries of "boat!!" and stay close, as the wait is long and painful. Also, shuttles leave there for the lost continent of Kunark.
To the east lies the zone to Greater Faydark. The tunnel lies in the eastern mountains. The entrance to Dagnor's Cauldron lies in the southern wall of the zone.
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