Prison of Elders
The Prison of Elders is a prison facility in The Reef, under the oversight of Variks, the Loyal. It is based on the House of Judgment's traditions for settling disputes between Fallen through trial by combat. The Archon Priest Aksor was previously a prisoner before later being retrieved by Taniks and having his soul restored by the House of Winter on Venus. The Prison of Elders is also known to contain members of the House of Wolves that were captured during the Reef Wars,  though it also contains Hive, Vex and Cabal inmates who have attacked the Reef. These prisoners are considered "trophies" by the Reef, kept cryogenically frozen for the Queen's benefit. Though since Skolas' rebellion, the Queen now wants the prison cleared out, and has recruited the Guardians to do it.
A year after the Red War, the undead Fallen horde known as the Scorn orchestrated an incredibly massive breakout from the prison, following a lack of order after Mara Sov's disappearance. Uldren Sov was behind the escape, and executed Cayde-6 after he attempted to stop the breakout alongside the Guardian. The Prison of Elders is also the location of the Nightfall Strike Warden of Nothing.
The Prison is featured in the House of Wolves as part of the new Arena game mode. It is limited to 3 players. Four missions are available each week at different Levels. The Level 28 mission includes matchmaking and is always random. The other three "challenge" missions are at Levels 32, 34, and 35, and require pre-made fireteams. The Level 32 and 34 missions rotate weekly; the Level 34 mission will be replaced with something new, while the Level 32 mission will feature the previous week's Level 34 mission. The Level 35 mission is always Skolas's Revenge.
A single session consists of 5 rounds of 3 waves each, except for Skolas's Revenge which features 6 rounds. The final round of a session is a boss battle. Players spawn in the Airlock, a small central room that connects to the Prison's four chambers, each home to one of the four enemy races. As introduced in Forsaken, each one connected to a different prison block that housed each different race. A-Block holds Fallen, B-Block holds Vex, C-Block holds Cabal, and D-Block holds Hive. Once a round begins, a modifier is activated and players are directed to one of the chambers. After completing a round, players must return to the Airlock to begin the next round.
After completing the boss round of a Prison of Elders challenge mission, a gate in the Airlock's floor opens and allows players to descend into a treasure room. The room contains three chests that can only be opened once per session: two small chests that may drop rare items, and one large chest that requires a Treasure Key to open and may drop Reef-themed gear as well as exotic items. Other items that can drop from the chests include Strange Coins and Motes of Light. Players with multiple Treasure Keys may repeat a Prison of Elders session to refresh the large chest so that the Keys can be used; the large chest can be opened multiple times per week, the only limit is the number of Treasure Keys in the player's possession. As of the April Update, Prison of Elders now has two extra game modes: Level 41, which has a chance of hosting Taken and Level 42, which is known as Challenge of the Elders.
As the Prison of Elders is a highly variable environment, see Prison of Elders/Strategy for more details.
- Broken Legion—"Valus Trau'ug seeks to prove his might by crushing all who challenge him."
- Cult of the Worm—"Gulrot, Unclean has been summoned by the Worm Keepers. Don't let the beast's filth spread beyond the prison."
- Machine Wrath—"Archon Servants have raised their own corrupted Servitor-god, Kaliks Reborn. Defeat it and be rewarded."
- Skolas's Revenge (Level 35 only)—"Skolas and his crew challenge the Guardians who captured him. Face him with a Fireteam of three. End him."
- The Forever Eater—"Qodron, a Vex chronovore, sees only one outcome: your demise. Prove it wrong."
- Urrox's Grudge—"The Flame Prince Urrox vows to burn the Light until all that remains is Darkness and bone."
Each round features a specific modifier that can force Guardians to adapt their strategy. The modifier is active for the entirety of the round. Skolas's Revenge features two modifiers per round. In addition to existing modifiers, House of Wolves introduces eight new ones:
- Airborne—players deal more damage in the air.
- Brawler—player melee attacks are more powerful
- Catapult—grenades recharge at an increased rate
- Exposure—player shields are increased, but don't replenish
- Grounded—players take more damage while in the air.
- Lightswitch—minions of the Darkness deal far more melee damage.
- Small Arms—primary weapons are more powerful
- Specialist—special weapons are more powerful
- Trickle—abilities recharge at a reduced rate
During some waves, Variks will issue a time-sensitive Critical Objective that Guardians must complete during the battle. Failing to complete a Critical Objective will cause Variks to invoke Warden's Punishment, a debuff that immediately kills the Guardians and forces them to restart the round.
- Destroy Splinter Mines—mines will appear around the arena. Destroy them within thirty seconds.
- Defusing Splinter Mines—capture zones that appear one at a time across the arena. Once a zone appears, players have thirty seconds to capture it.
- Eliminate Target—kill a powerful enemy before he escapes the arena.
Gifts from Variks
Occasionally, at the start of a wave Variks will send Guardians a helpful item.
- Scorch Cannon—a pickup weapon that can fire explosive shells with a timer.
- Heavy Ammo crate—a single-use ammo crate like those found in the Crucible.
Generic bosses are fought on Round 5 of the Level 28 Prison of Elders. They may also appear as a boss during Rounds 1-4 on one of the challenge modes. Generic bosses lack any special abilities that challenge mode bosses have. However, as of the April Update, these bosses will gain special abilities when encountered in the most difficult mode of Prison of Elders yet: Challenge of the Elders.
Challenge mode bosses are much more difficult to fight, as they all come with their own special abilities.
- Gulrot, Unclean—can spew bile that dramatically slows down Guardians for ten seconds.
- Kaliks Reborn—can gorge on Ether from Archon Servants to regenerate its own health.
- Skolas, Kell of Kells—is armed with a Scorch Cannon. He is initially protected by servitor bonds, reducing all incoming damage by a significant amount. After these bonds are broken, he will taint a Guardian's Light and inflict them with a debuff called "Devouring Essence" that must be shared with other players, or they will die.
- Qodron, Gate Lord—can capture Guardians in detainment bubbles, and will kill them via Suppression Field. These bubbles can be destroyed with non-explosive attacks.
- Urrox, Flame Prince—can inflict the "Searing Flames" debuff, where the entire floor is on fire for ten seconds. Jumping repeatedly will greatly reduce damage.
- Valus Trau'ug—can change his own elemental shield to a different color every time it is destroyed.
These rewards are guaranteed for completing a Prison of Elders session and challenge missions. The challenge mission (Level 32, 34, and 35) rewards can only be acquired once per week.
- Level 28
- Level 32
- +200 House of Judgment reputation
- One Armor Core
- Level 35
- +500 House of Judgment reputation
- One Armor Core
- One Weapon Core
- One Etheric Light
In addition to the above mission rewards, players can enter the treasure room in the Crystal Barrows. They can open the two smaller chests, which rewards lesser items such as strange coins and motes of light, but the big chest can only be opened with a treasure key, which can be used even on the Level 28 version. The chest can drop legendary Queen-themed equipment, legendary Fallen-themed equipment, and (once per character) a Level 36 Exotic weapon.
- Aksor, Archon Priest— freed by the House of Winter
- Nixis, Hunger of Oryx— freed by the House of Winter, later Taken
House of Wolves
- Drevis, Wolf Baroness
- Beltrik, the Veiled— escaped during Skolas's uprising
- Skriviks, the Sharp-Eyed
- Grayor, Wolf Assassin
- Pirsis, Pallas-Bane
- Peekis, the Disavowed
- Mecher Orbiks-11
- Veliniks, the Ravenous
- Weksis, the Meek
- Uldren Sov
- Fikrul, the Fanatic
- Elykris, the Machinist
- Hiraks, the Mindbender
- Araskes, the Trickster
- Reksis Vahn, the Hangman
- Kaniks, the Mad Bomber
- Pirrha, the Rifleman
- Yaviks, the Rider