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Tree of Thorns Respecification Trial

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The Tree of Thorns


The Tree of Thorns Respecification Trial is a trial in City of Villains that a villain may undertake in order to earn a power respecification. During the trial, a villain must complete a few missions, ultimately with the goal of defeating the Thorn Tree, a Circle of Thorns archvillain.

E ICON MeritToken.png Merit Rewards: This activity awards 15 Reward Merits.

Requirements for Participation

In order to initiate the Tree of Thorns trial, a villain must be on a team of at least four villains and on which all players are at least level 24.

If at least one villain on the team is between levels 24 and 33, only the first respecifiction trial may be completed, with Sparcetriel as the contact, and all members above level 33 will be automatically malefactored to be level 33 during the trial.

If, due to people leaving the Trial, the team size goes below 4, the Trial does not end. It is, in fact, possible to best this trial with a team of one, provided that at least one member of the Trial team does not quit the team, but merely logs off.

The first Trial, as mentioned, is for level 24-33.

The second Trial is for level 34-43.

The third Trial is for 44-50.


There are three contacts to begin the Tree of Thorns respecification trial. They are:

  • Sparcetriel, a demon located at the very far eastern (right) edge of the Crimson Cove neighborhood in the Nerva Archipelago
  • Trepsarciel, a succubus located on a small rock island northeast of the shipwreck in the mouth of the river of the Primeva neighborhood in the Nerva Archipelago
  • Ractespriel, a demon located in the Crimson Cove neighborhood of the Nerva Archipelago. He is at the Northwest corner of the island shared by the ferry.

Summary of Trial

The Tree of Thorns power respecification trial is composed of three missions. These missions are:

Strategies for Completion

Setting Up for the Final Battle

The first two missions are rather straightforward. The first mission is rather simple, and the second, though rather long and requiring the defeat of two elite bosses, is not too difficult with a competent team. The third mission, however, requires special care in order to complete successfully. The following is a description of a general strategy that has proven very effective to complete this trial.

The first difficulty encountered is often simply getting to the mission site. The door is surrounded by numerous Circle of Thorns enemies, some of whom are as high as level 40. If one can approach the door invisible or phase shifted, that is generally prudent. Otherwise, teams typically use at least one member who can use the Recall Friend power to teleport his or her teammates to the mission entrance.

Once inside the cave, the team will encounter many Circle of Thorns enemies in dense concentrations, including many tough bosses. If a team includes a member that can be invisible and that can teleport, it is common for that team member to "stealth" the mission by going directly to the entrance of the large chamber that contains the Thorn Tree and teleporting his or her teammates to that location using the Recall Friend power. A Stalker's Hide power may be insufficient, as there are two passages along the path which contain red damaging crystal which will reveal the Stalker within large groups of Circle enemies.

Regardless of how the team arrives in the chamber, once they get there, the final battle usually breaks down into three phases:

  • Phase 1: Defeating the Circle of Thorns enemies around the perimeter of the chamber,
  • Phase 2: Defeating the vines, and
  • Phase 3: Defeating the Thorn Tree archvillain.

Defeating the Circle of Thorns Enemies

In the first phase of the final battles, the team circles around the perimeter of the chamber, defeating all Circle of Thorns enemies. A team leader usually decides in which direction the team circles around the chamber and informs the team that they should only attack the Circle of Thorns enemies, not the vines or the Thorn Tree archvillain. If the vines are attacked at this point, they will regrow and it is possible to draw the attention of the Thorn Tree archvillain, which has a powerful ranged attack.

If a group of the Circle of Thorns enemies is too close to one or more Thorn Tree Vines, it is prudent to get a team member to try to draw the group away from the vines.

Once the Circle of Thorns enemies are defeated, phase two of the battle begins.

Defeating the Thorn Tree Vines

Thorn Tree Vine Counter

Until all Thorn Tree Vines are destroyed, the Thorn Tree archvillain is invincible. At the start of the mission, every player should have a vine counter that appears in his or her navbar. This vine counter indicates the number of vines that remain and that must be destroyed in order for attacks on the Thorn Tree to be successful.

It is important to note the Thorn Tree Vines regrow periodically. Once the second part of the battle begins, the vines should be eliminated as quickly and efficiently as possible. Any vines that regrow once the battle has begun will need to be destroyed as well before moving on to the final part of the battle. Typically, a team will continue circling the Thorn Tree in the same direction they did in order to defeat the Circle of Thorns enemies, but this time attacking the vines instead.

It may also be worth nothing that the vines are not worth any experience, so there is no purpose served in deliberately letting the vines regrow in order to gain excessive experience.

Defeating the Thorn Tree

Once all of the Thorn Tree Vines have been defeated, the Thorn Tree archvillain is vulnerable. The Thorn Tree has several powerful psionic attacks, and typically a Brute or other strong damage-survivable team member will attempt to keep the Thorn Tree's aggro while the other team members attempt to destroy the Thorn Tree.

After the Thorn Tree loses some health, more Circle of Thorns will enter the room to ambush the team of villains. At this point, if a team is strong enough, they may fight these ambushes off, or if it is producing enough damage, they may be able to complete destroy the Thorn Tree even while the Circle of Thorns are attacking the team.

The Rewards

Once a team has defeated the Thorn Tree archvillain, each member will be able to choose one of the following rewards:

  • Character Respecification: By choosing this reward, you will have the ability to exchange your current powers for new powers within your current powersets. In addition, you will also be able to change the locations of all enhancement slots, although at the cost of losing any currently slotted enhancements. NOTE: This option is becomes unavailable after choosing it three times.
  • Merit Reward: Available as of Issue 13, each respecification trial awards Reward Merits, subject to diminishing returns if the trial has been run within a certain timeframe. Different activities award differing amounts of Merit Rewards.

Also upon defeat of the Thorn Tree archvillain, a villain receive the following badges:

V badge RespecBadge1.png  Thorn Robber Badge       The first time a trial is completed.
V badge RespecBadge2.png  Thorn Thief Badge       The second time a trial is completed.
V badge RespecBadge3.png  Thorn Usurper Badge       The third time a trial is completed.

Respecification Eligibility

A character first becomes eligible to take the respecification option at level 24, and again at levels 34 and 44. The respecification is not linked to which trial is completed, but to the level. A character who is above level 44 and has never done a respecification trial can do the first (lowest level) trial three times, the last (highest level) trial three times, or any combination of the trials, and gain all three respecification awards.


  • Currently, there are three versions of the trial. The final version was added with with Issue 7.
  • The Tree of Thorns respecification trial currently awards respecifications multiple times, up to a total of three, for any of the trials. For example, Sparcetriel's respecification trial may be completed three times, Trepsarciel's respecification trial may be completed three times, or one of each contact's respecification trials may be completed one time each to earn two respecifications. All of this is subject to being high enough level to qualify for the appropriate number of respecs in the first place.
  • After the final respecification is accepted, a villain will not have the option to choose a Character Respecification again and must choose the Merit Reward.
  • A villain may have more than one available respecification at a time. A villain is told how many respecifications he or she has when he or she logs in. The message says, "You have x unclaimed respecs available," where x is currently either 1, 2, or 3.
  • To respecify powers, a villain should visit Arbiter Lupin, who is located next to Arbiter Frederick in the Nerva Archipelago, or Arbiter Sawyer, located near the entrance to Pocket D in Port Oakes.
  • Since power respecifications are limited, after which the power selection is permanent, it is highly suggested that they be tried in the Training Room before on the live servers so that if unwanted changes or changes with unwanted side effects are made, the character may be deleted on the Training Room server with no ill effects on the live servers.


Badge time.png This article or section contains information that no longer applies to the current version of City of Heroes Freedom. It is provided for historical purposes.

Reward Options

The following reward screen options are no longer available as of Issue 13:

  • Rare Recipe: Available from Issue 9 - Issue 12. By choosing this reward, you were granted a Rare Recipe from the very small Trial Pool of recipes. NOTE: The Rare Recipe option was only selectable from the Tree of Thorns Respecification Trial once every 24 hours, to prevent farming for rare recipes.
  • Single-Origin Enhancement: Available from Issue 6 - Issue 12. By choosing this reward, you were granted an enhancement suited to your origin. There were five separate options available: Accuracy, Damage, Endurance, Range, Recharge.

The "Log Out" Shortcut

This method no longer works.

One exploit that enabled teams to very easily complete this final mission due to a highly reduced number of Circle of Thorns enemies and vines around the Thorn Tree was called the "Log Out" or "Logging" or "Soft Loading" shortcut. To use it, all members had to log out of the game except for the trial leader.

Important Note: Members of the trial must not quit the team, they must log out of the game. Otherwise, those members who quit the team would be unable to rejoin the trial for completion.

Once everyone except for the trial leader was logged out, the trial leader entered the mission and proceeded to the final chamber and scouted the site. This caused the size and the level of the spawns in the final chamber to be appropriate for having only one member on the team. After a predetermined amount of time, the other members of the trial team logged back in, at which time the team completed the much easier mission.

This method of completing the trial was controversial in that it exploited the system of determining enemy spawn sizes and levels for the mission, but was usually quite effective at quickly completing the trial with very little risk for teams being defeated, even teams that would otherwise be significantly underprepared for taking on the mission at their appropriate size and level. This was regarded as an exploit by the developers and the reason for the change.

Currently, the numbers of vines will go up in number accordingly to the number of members on the team. As teammates log in, the total number of vines will go up.

See Also