Note: This guide is currently up to date with the new changes to the game post-4.3 and AR change
The Domain of Arbaces is a place where only Heroes may go. It is composed of 9 strategic levels, each differing in approach and difficulty. Of course, the way this goes will completely depend on your classes and the skills you've practiced, as well as your preparation and patience, but this guide will give you a general idea of what you're going to need to do this area. Patience is certainly the key for DOA - looking into rooms before you enter will help you avoid dying and having to start over and re-navigate the Proving Grounds, which is a difficult area with lots of CPK.
The Domain of Arbaces is randomly placed at the bottom of the The Proving Grounds on level 23 each reboot. There are two entrances - both are none PK downs. One is the actual entrance and the second is a portal to the entrance. The entrances to each level (except the first one) are also randomly placed each reboot, as are all the rooms in the area. There are multiple downs on each level within the The Proving Grounds on your way to Domain of Arbaces. Each down will require either a key from a mob on the level, magic unlock or lockpicking. You cannot bash through the downs anymore, and eating roots isn't very effective either.
The trip down The Proving Grounds can take a long time (1 hour +) or can be as quick as 15 minutes. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to move through the dungeon quickly. Take your time, move slowly and carefully, and be patient. Check who dungn and where as often as possible, to check to see if someone is following you to try to NPK/CPK you. If you are unsure if a person is in The Proving Grounds with you, try tracking their name.
The goal is to get down to level 23, which is where the Domain of Arbaces entrance is located. There are two entrances to the Domain of Arbaces - a down leading to the door into the Domain of Arbaces, and a portal which takes you to the door. You will save a lot of time and headache if you can use tracking. If your path does not come with tracking, highly consider purchasing a tracking amulet.
To get to level 23, track the mob aurophaganax or puddle. If one does not work, then try the other, alternating between the two. Both these mobs can be found on levels 22 and 23 (there are no unique mobs between 22 and 23 - try tracking tumescence, I think it is only on level 23 - Harly) but it will get you into the vicinity. Keep detect illusion on at all times, and if you get to a room with no exit, try digging or searching for the door.
There are a few rooms which are no-track within the dungeon. Move into another room to try it again if it keeps failing. You can also command stack calm;track puddle so that as soon as you calm on an aggro mob, you can fire tracking right before it aggros you again. This is a good technique to keep moving in the correct direction.
There are a few underwater levels - make sure you have underwater breathing and levitation, plus bubble cluster if you're a faerie, before navigating these levels.
ALWAYS have levitation on, as earthquakes are common and can take you down to 1hp 1sp 1st, after which you will die instantly on hitting an aggro mob.
The ice levels have filled with a large amount of blizzards. These mobs are nothing but a pain, and will form against you and aggro repeatedly and quickly. Do not flee blindly! Or you will end up dead because many rooms in a row can be filled with aggressive blizzards. In other words, try to keep calming and tracking, and keep yourself at full health at all times. Heal yourself up to full at every chance you get.
Level 19 is a particular level to be careful of. The entire level is CPK and the mobs, especially whip-wielding demons, do a ridiculous amount of damage and can kill you in a few rounds. You can die instantly if there are more than one of these in a room. Don't auto track on this level - move each room one by one and look ahead of you. Additionally, don't cast spells in the same room as the Talur Evangelists. They will emote fireballs on you for 800 damage each time. Also these rooms are lava rooms and you will be taking damage each round. Take your time and scan / look before moving. If you are in a room without any mobs, stay there and heal to full / buff / track / wait for the other mobs to move before proceeding.
Once you pass the fire levels, you will need to watch out for velociraptors and conzumars which deal high damage / para.
Once you get to level 22, you can keep trying to track the two mobs to try to get down onto 23, but for the most part you are now on your own to get to the Arbaces entrance. Be very wary of any mobs on the CPK levels, as some can paralyze you and all of them deal a lot of damage. Puddles look like they are an item on the ground or a fountain to drink from, but be careful as they can paralyze you. Sirens are also a common para mob, and the Whip-Wielding Demon deals an insane amount of damage which will most likely kill you if you aren't careful.
The downs will remain the same in between reboots, so it is recommended to try to complete Arbaces before a reboot occurs. This way you can start to learn the route should you need to traverse it again more quickly. Once you learn the route, you can easily get to the Domain entrance in about 15-20 minutes.
Entering DOA - To enter the Domain of Arbaces prior to completing level 1, simply travel to level 23 of the Proving Grounds, locate the final down, and give the your ornate crystal key to the manifestation of Vandyne at the entrance to DOA. Once you have completed level 1 of Domain of Arbaces, you can simply say "enter" to return to the area without needing another key. Note: There is an hour-long timer between allowed entrances into Domain of Arbaces. If someone else entered the Domain within the last hour, you will not be allowed in. However, leave some time when attempting to enter a second time, as if you do it too soon you will be teleported to a random room in a CPK floor of the Proving Grounds - usually level 18. UPDATE: 4729 10-19-2013 Esker Made the manifestation of Vandyne at the entrance to the Domain of Arbaces not kick players out for asking for entry more than once.
Entrance Floor - Once you enter the first part of the domain, you'll be on a level with adventurer shades. There are also 7 tablets in this area that give you clues on the weaknesses of each mob. These aren't really that great and I never used them, but if you want to read them all go ahead. Once you're done on this level head to the far north part of the level, down, all north, 1 south, take the nw path and you'll meet a mob that greets you. If you've already done a level he will transfer you straight down, if not you can go down and begin your descent into the domain.
Level 1 - The mobs on this level are quite easy, but finding the Queen of Tides to return the items to can become rather annoying at times. First you need to find a fish with a fin, kill it and hide it somewhere you can easily get back to if you are not confident in your ability to stay alive, otherwise just keep it with you. Then find a leopard, which need a obsidian claw from, and repeat same process as fish. Finally, find a snake with a fang and hide it as well if needed. Frostbiters will block you from fleeing, so be prepared to calm, as well as poison bite attacks. There are a lot of no-magic dizzies so you'll either need to avoid the ones with frostbiters, or use calm herbs. Mutini herbs (dispel area) are quite handy in these too. Once you find the Queen of Tides, remember the way to her and retrieve the items if you hid them. Return them to the Queen, giving them to her in any order. She will give you a key to the down, and from there you can return to the domain without a ornate crystal key, as long as no one else has within an hour when you get there or is currently inside. After you leave her room, find the down and proceed.
Level 2 - This level is a bit more difficult - there are leeches that paralyze you through bites, so set your defense to dodge if you have it up high, or just hope you can flee fast. Avoiding rooms with leeches in them is highly recommended as with any other paralyzing mob in the zone. Before you move into a room, it is recommended you use "look" to make sure it's not dizzy and filled with leeches. Your objective is to find the giant slug. As said in the hints, he will be through a south exit. You can try scan for him if you cast sense life. Once you find him make sure you remember where he is in case you die. Fighting the slug, he's apparently vulnerable to pierce, so use a spear if you have one handy. He is dispellable, so if you have dispel magic go to town, then cast as many affecting spells on him and sanctify north of his room if you can. If there are doors near the entrance to the slug, I suggest keeping the magic locked if possible. Psionic plague is also a great thing to have here - if not, try to stack on poison on him. Ice and slow also cause regeneration to greatly slow down. The slug casts web on you after he slings mud at you, so after the first time you see him do it, making a trigger to flee north when he does it is a great idea. The slug has also been improved to occasionally insta-web with an emote, which means that extra caution should be used here. If you do get webbed, calming and healing over and over could allow you last the duration of it. Or you could calm and dispel yourself. Just attack/flee/heal over and over and he will eventually die. Once he does die, loot the key and look for the down. (for me, slug was immune to pierce and bash, used holy weapon damage and high explosive mixes)
Level 3 - Easiest level in the domain, by far. However, the trees now perform the dust kick special attack, which blinds, so be wary. First just run around and find the tree spirit. Once you find it, remember where it is, walk around the rooms near it and search. Pick up 3 truffles (search random rooms for them) and return them to the tree spirit. (If you are unable to find any truffles by searching, carefully check the mobs for them) It will give you the next key.
Level 4 - Back to the harder stuff. This level is filled with fire mobs. If you're a druid, invoke water and keep that on you the entire time. If not, probably best to set your defenses to auto to prevent breaths hitting you. Rock spiders can para and emote web, so try to avoid them. You need to find the fire wyrm, who will be in a south as all the bosses here are. Once you find him, prepare the room north just like the slug, and dispel and debuff him. If you're a mino, he will hurt you a lot so you'll need to flee more - otherwise, he's not really much trouble. Just take it slow and steady. He has a regen script as you damage him, but he will die eventually. The fire wyrm does fire damage and is immune to fire damage, which includes HE. He appears to be vuln to water. When he's dead, loot the key and find the down.
Level 5 - Much like the first level, you need to kill 3 mobs and collect gems from them this time. This level is also filled with crystals that randomly blind you when you walk into the rooms. These can be disarmed with disarm trap, but it rarely works and mostly just blinds you. This level will obviously be more tedious for faeries. Be sure to have lots of cure blindness reagents or potions. Each of the three different mobs will randomly drop different colored gems when you kill them. These will drop on the floor so make sure you pick them up. This will usually need to be done multiple times, as they don't always drop a gem. Fireflies drop orange gems, warriors drop white gems and blue salamanders drop blue gems. Each time you get a gem, make sure you hide it in case you die. Repeat the process of finding the queen, only for the crystal dragon this time. Give it the three gems and you'll receive the key, he will drop it on the ground so you'll need to pick it up. Leave his room and look for the down.
Level 6 - Now you're on a level filled with jetstreams and mobs like that. The mobs on this level don't pose too much of a threat. Just find the mist, dispel it and spell it up, and begin. It has a lot of hp, and does a lot of damage. It also breathes out a lot of frost and poison, so you'll want to set combat defense auto, and have lots of cure poison reagents or potions. On top of that, it appears it has a script to rapidly regen, much like the fire wyrm, so this could take quite a while. If you're a dracon, set combat defense shield block and flee lots. It also frags a lot of eq, so try stick to gear that is insulated. Flee, heal, attack, rinse and repeat. The mist does air damage. Remember to cure the poison whenever it lands on you. It will die slowly, but surely. When it's dead, take the key, leave the room and begin searching for the down. (mist was very vulnerable to mental - bard song pensive dirge was highly effective)
Level 7 - Probably the hardest level in the dungeon, at least for most people. This level is filled with wind owls which can scream paralyze you. The owls are dispellable and aren't too bad to kill if one happens to be in the way of your regen room north of the boss, but don't let your hp get too low as they scream para. Use look before you move to make sure you aren't heading into an owl, and find the void cyclone, which will be in a south. This mob does air damage (and is therefore also immune to air); it *can* be dispelled; use a dispelling weapon or cast dispel magic if you want to dispel it. It will breathe lightning (which lags you) and poison at you, and it also disarms. Dwarves should be careful of the breaths. The cyclone has also been upgraded so it now casts high-explosive, web and enervation (and many other things). The best approach is to flee if you see it casting. If you are psi make sure you cancel conjuration, as casts are almost exclusively from this field. If you have death grip (also found on dracolich claws or rings of power, or even an herbalist's mix), use it to prevent disarming. The cyclone has a lot of hp, so it will take a lot of hitting. High Explosive can be very handy, as you will be fleeing from casts a lot and need to damage it. Once you finally beat it, loot the key, leave the room and find the down, and you'll be on the 3rd last level!
Level 8 - This is the last level you'll need to collect artifacts from. You'll need to collect three tablets on this level, however the tablets repop completely randomly on the three different types of mobs down here. They're also peekable, so don't kill empty mobs unless things become desperate and want to wait for repop. The vampires paralyze, so try to avoid them. The dust clouds have a lot of hp, but aren't too hard. The dirt devils are the easiest. Dispel and keep them webbed, as they move quite often and form with other mobs they enter the room of. All mobs do negative damage and are immune to negative damage. Hide the tablets in an easy to access place and once you have one of each (bronze, silver, gold), you need to look for the old man. Once you find him, grab your three tablets and go to him. You need to give them to him in this specific order: silver, bronze then gold. He'll give you the key for next level. This will take you to the second last level of the domain.
Level 9 - Once you enter the level you'll be met by a mob that talks about an apprentice and a curse etc on the doll. Your goal is to get it to the other side. The best way to approach this level is to find the path you need the doll to take, where you need to drop food etc and set that up before you let the doll go. It can be really annoying to find again if you set him off and lose him. First off find the apprentice first, the "end" mob which you will need to lead the doll to - as with all the other main mobs, it will be behind a south exit. It's also the only room on the floor with a door aside from the entrance room which makes it easier to find. Once it's found, make sure you know the way back to the starting point. Dropping coins is a useful strategy. Assuming you didn't already make it start moving, go back to the room and say go. If it is already moving, you'll need to find where it's wandered to. To control the doll you need to get plates of food from the halfling chefs. Kill them 1 at a time and loot the food from their corpse. You must avoid zombies at all costs once you have food in your inventory, as if they attack they'll remove it from you. Zombies do not eat food on the ground. The doll always keeps right hand on wall, so if coming from north will choose NW, W, SW, S in that order. 1 piece of food makes doll turn around in same room but still keeps hand on right wall so coming from N will choose SE E NE N. All basic directions N, E, W, S are normal but NW, NE, SE, SW are erratic meaning going SE is not always the same as 1 S 1 E. Zombies do necromantic damage. Once you've steered the doll to the end room, you will be given a key. When you have that key, you return to the original room that had the doll, to be teleported to level 10.
Level 10 - Just spam down until you hit a hallway, and go all north. Here is where you will decide which "type" of Archon you become. Northeast will make you |W colored Archon on who, northwest will make you a |D colored Archon on who. These will also decide the mark you get from becoming an Archon. Northwest is Mark of Shadow, northeast is Mark of Light. This is completely up to you. It doesn't affect much in the long run, just a few pieces of equipment which require one or the other mark. Head all the way to the end of whichever passage you pick and you'll get a vial. Enter the rift and you'll be back at the top of the domain. Go up, recall, and make your way to a Questmaster to type "class newclass Archon". Congratulations!
Don't start the doll when you get into the level. Walk around first and try to find both the start and the end.
Generally the doll gets stuck in a box of 4 rooms, going around clockwise, with its right hand on the wall. My general strategy for this level is to slowly move the doll closer one square at a time. You'll find that you can place one food when it's stuck in the box of 4 rooms, and pick it up immediately, and that will cause the doll to change its pattern and get stuck in a different loop of rooms. The trick is to figure out where to place the food such that the doll goes towards the goal.
Figure out where the start and end of the maze is. "Simulate" the doll by walking pretending to be the doll, using the mechanics above. Once you're in a loop (which could be small [4 rooms], could be huge [20-2 rooms]) figure out the best place to put the food through simulation. Repeat, getting closer and closer to the goal. Generally you won't need more than one or two foods -- don't try to lay out multiple foods in a complex path, zombies walking by pick up the food off the ground and screw you over.
Once you get the doll to the end, return to the START of the level, where you'll be shown down to level 10.
When making your way down to the Domain of Arbaces, check who isle, underg and dungn often, as players may be on the lookout for a Hero traversing through to the bottom of the Proving Grounds.