DDO Theatricality and Deception: Lessons from The Batman and Bond

I know, I know–yet another ninja article.

But I’m fascinated about pushing the DDO engine and gameplay system to the maximum to make my ninjas work as closely in function to the ultimate Western “ninja”: The Batman.

From ninja training...

From ninja training…

I’m not trying to emulate the crimefighting, appearance and angst of that character (obviously: I could play Arkham Asylum for that).

I do want to utilize the subterfuge and theatricality that the Batman uses (from elements of the comics and the “Nolanverse” movie trilogy) in gameplay for the same reasons: offensive and defensive improvements. The Batman uses many, many gadgets. DDO offers many gadgets. Surprisingly, few people use them, such as traps.

...To become a fighter of ninjas (and criminals)

…To become a fighter of ninjas (and criminals)

I’ve got the stealth part worked out. But part of the Batman’s style also involves using ways to disable or deceive enemies without necessarily fighting everything he sees in order to reach his objective.

I made Ryncletica a half-elf in her second life to allow her use of healing scrolls and wands. Of course, there is much more to a cleric than healing. They have (through the Cleric dilettante) the ability to use many more defensive spells through scrolls.

So, with gameplay mechanics in mind, what spells or items could Ryncletica or Cassietetica use more as a half-elf that gives her that Bat-Ninja/I-Spy vibe that also would aid them in adventures?

Shuriken

The Batman uses a form of these in modern animation and the Nolanverse films, which are sometimes improperly named “Batarangs.” They can hurt an enemy from afar. In DDO, it’s a good way to lure single enemies to you for easy pick-offs from a larger mob.

Ryncletica the Ninja Spy has an improved Snowstar (+4 returning Icy Burst) but isn’t satisfied here. When she needs to kill something hard and fast but at a distance, DDO shurikens are notorious for their lack of power.

Ah, Q...you always had something to give the spy who has everything.

Ah, Q…you always had something to give the spy who has everything.

So, my Artificer crafter, Arcammedes, has become my ninja’s Lucius Fox (or Q, if you care to take the James Bond spy motif) in designing a higher-powered throwing star of death. Ryn’s patient, but does want to complete a mission before her buffs expire. (For those not in the know, a Monk becomes uncentered if they use any other throwing or ranged instrument without ki training such as Zen Archery.)

A greensteel shuriken would likely be the better bet. After crunching some numbers on the most-awesome Crafting Planner, a Mineral II metalline star with an elemental burst should do the trick.

Outfits and Other Apparel

From level 14 to level 20, I’m convinced that two sets of clothing work best: The Icy Raiment and the White Dragonscale Robe. They provide great defense you cannot find until Epic levels–if at all. Ryncletica just got a pair of  the new Icys, thanks to Lynncletica, the Maid of Diamond Monk that visits the Subterrane often, without a care in the freakin’ world.

For theatricality’s sake, each ninja works a Ninja Mask. The +5 competence bonus to Hide/Move Silently is negated by all the other things they wear, but it sets the mood. Would the Batman look cool or menacing wearing only a ski mask? Um…not really, no. (Please don’t mention the Bunny Hat; I considered this for a few hot seconds before I laughed myself silly. Only by working in a Monty Python & The Holy Grail theme can I imagine the Bunny-Lass, with sharp, pointy teeth, terrorizing anyone.)

RyncleticaTalismanArmorTo complete the ninja look, I broke down and bought a new armor cosmetic: a Cannith robe with talismans or something like that. You can see the results aren’t bad at all.

No capes are visible in DDO. Edna Mode would be pleased. Ninjas don’t do them, anyway. As far as what to wear in the cloak slot will vary as leveling goes. Several unique cloaks with yellow and green augment slots make it easy to wear Deathblock, Blindness Immunity or Heavy Fortification on a single item.

The new Hellfire Cloak is a new favorite which has those slots. I have a Level 16 Cloak of Night with Deathblock but require the fortification on something other than a ring or belt. As a Ninja, it’s not as useful as it once was.

The better answer might be in the new Nightforge Gorget, which goes in the neck slot and has a yellow slot for a Deathblock gem with Heavy Fortification built-in. As Ryn returns to Epicness, I’d want her Drow Piwafi back in place in the cloak slot.

For rings, I often use DEX, WIS and feather falling there, but you needn’t have FF always running. A Mummified Bat works as I require. I’ve used Hide rings to boost that skill and Goggles for Move Silently as well. Ryn hasn’t done any Tower of Despair runs to have a chance at building a Holy Burst ring, and needs to do so on this life. For special occasions where I talk my way out of, or into, a fight, I use an Eloquence ring. Ryn can’t intimidate or bluff, so diplomacy is all she’s got.

Currently the Lenses of Opportunity add some Seeker that’s missing and Sneak Attack while fighting. When not in battle, it’s a pair of high Spot goggles to see who’s ahead and trying to hide from me (or I keep on the Mummified Bat).

As for boots, I keep some Striding +30 ones on most of the time at this level. I have some Tumbling +13 boots on hand for emergency maneuvers. You’d be surprised how useful a backflip to escape being surrounded works when fighting. Since Ryn has Spring Attack, she suffers no attack penalty in fighting in a quick stick-and-move manner.

All this slotting also freed up my head slot for something else. The helm leaned to a Minos Legens for the Vitality and Heavy Fortification if I switched off the current cloak, or a Sacred Helm for its Deathblock if I haven’t a yellow slotted item for its gem effect. Now I need to think better as to what can go there since heavy fortification or deathblock aren’t required there at all times. For now, my Teraza’s Perfect Sight works to give me persistent True Seeing for the pesky mages with Displacement. Then again, Ryn just received Improved Cleric Dilettante III, so she may be able to reliably use True Seeing scrolls, leaving me again to ponder the head slot.

I keep some Spectral Gloves about for ghost fights but often leave a Level 12 pair of Brawling Gloves for some piercing damage advantage. Interesting: The glass-jaw stunning/Sap effect is finally working on these things. I often see a Hypnosis and stun effect around many enemies when I’m wearing these. I need to upgrade these when Crystal Cove returns again.

Defensive Clickies, Wands or Spells

The Batman is crazy-prepared for just about anything. With that in mind, I’ve kept some odds and ends that I thought might be useful for certain occasions.

Blindness: Could make sneaking by many a lot easier to do since all they could do is listen for the ninja.

Sleep or Deep Slumber: Put a small group or individual to sleep and pass them by. Cassie’s trapmaking skills might do better. Ryn collected a Vial of Slumber from the Seal of Shan-To-Kar that she’s been aching to apply to a situation. I’m betting, however, that many foes won’t fall for it, so to speak.

Fog: While Solid Fog would work, its effect might turn a mob towards me, rather than concealing me. A simpler Fog Cloud might be better. If it truly conceals sight as Hide does, I should be able to open doors in close proximity without enemies becoming aware, save a Listen check. History shows this as a hit-or-miss matter. Still, the idea of emulating the Batman’s flash smoke bomb and then disappearing from others unexpectedly would make for a fun escape trick. Abundant Step would make this work; I use that to move very quickly past standing close-grouped mobs to avoid triggering their Spot checks. Lay down fog, skidaddle. Cue dramatic music.

Any Shield clicky or Nightshield: Shield adds +4 AC and protects against magic missiles. Nightshield just protects against the missiles but boosts saves as well. No Monk should be without a Shield clicky as an army of enemy mages can kill you fast with their magic version of a Macross Missile Massacre.

Scrolls of Restoration: One of the best things that Ryncletica and Cassie get to use. No longer need I fear level drains outright. I took Ryncletica into “Invaders” recently and laid waste to the beholder-ridden place with stealth, stuns and lots of scrolls. Normally, beholder hunting was just a Light Monk thing to me. Not anymore.

Scrolls of Heal: This would be a faster option to aid the party when a Cleric is overloaded, and to remove other effects from a fight.

Scrolls of True Seeing: With a high Dilletante level, I should have a shot of using these, freeing up a slot space.

Scrolls of Word of Recall: Awesome. While not a perfect Teleport, it gets me out of a dungeon and back to the city faster.

I’m still pondering the applications of many scroll-based tools. Those who play Clerics often probably are shouting at your computer to “take this spell” or “take that one!”

Offensive Spells and Clickies and Spell-Like Abilities

I’d hate to think of when I’ll have to use these and doubt their full effectiveness. However, a few attacking spells might be handy in the right circumstance. Most spells I can use won’t work as a half-elf, but there are sure to be a few others that I’m not yet familiar with to help.

Curse of the Void: A personal favorite of Ryncletica. Use a Void-Dark-Void finisher to charm something for a minute or two. The cool thing is that I can do this to as many enemies as I want, turning an army against me into an army against themselves. A high WIS assures that this effect will take.

Sound Burst: Useful early on, but less so on higher level enemies.

Cometfall: Available in scrolls.  Against undead mobs, this can thin out the herd.

Flame Strike: Also in scrolls. Mass damage, especially when enemies can see me but can’t reach me.

Wand of Searing Light: Might be a better weapon than a throwing star to hit light-sensitive foes who are in a recessed level where the ninjas cannot jump.

Stats, Feats, Skills and Enhancements

Don't ask how Ryncletica got up there--or she'll have to kill you.

Don’t ask how Ryncletica got up there–or she’ll have to kill you.

No gadgets in the world will substitute for the ability to move quiet and quickly, while killing just as efficiently if one needs to do so. In the case of Ryncletica, she’s more durable than Cassie, who will suffer AC problems later on since robes are likely her main outerwear.

Invisibility: Covered by Ninja’s Shadow Fade.

Stealth: Also covered by Hide and Move Silently.

Evasion: Covered, as also with Improved Evasion.

Reflex saves: Required for Evasion, Dodge or any concealment or miss chance effects to work. A high DEX is needed.

Whirlwind Attack: When a fight is inevitable, out comes the paralysing handwraps and a spin kick to slow down the mob and whittle them down.

Stunning Fist: Hallmark of a Monk that Ryn uses to stop and destroy isolated enemies before they can damage her.

Touch of Despair: Weaken them with this curse and make them more vulnerable against negative energy, especially…

Touch of Death: The 500 point (or more) quick take-down attack. Even if they save, it’s still half-damage.

Quivering Palm: An assassinate-like level 15 ability using ki, only it pulls me out of stealth. Best used on isolated enemies or taking out that one energy-draining mage from a pack to start off a fight.

Improved Critical: Bludgeoning: For better crits, this is key as the characters move to level 16.

Metalline of Pure Good/Righteousness handwraps: I’m scouring the Auction House for red-augment slotted generic wraps that I can recraft and add a potent elemental augment gem. Both ninjas need these for unarmed fighting since they can’t bypass many damage reductions without them.

Assassinate: The Rogue type. For Cassie, important since she isn’t a pure Monk. Unlike Ryn, she’ll kill without leaving stealth.

Jump: Get it to 20 and leave it alone to leap up and over things. Don’t stay two-dimensional in fighting. Make them come to you, even if going up. Can’t reach me? Too bad.

HP: A problem for both ninjas, but with high evasive and concealing effects, they often reduce the amount of damage because these effects make it much harder for spells and weapons to land in the first place. More CON is needed for Fortitude saves.

Tumble: Surprisingly nice to have for very quick retreats once you can somersault. I know its a bit of points but it comes more in handy with Shadowdancer abilities.

Wisdom: Very high on Ryncletica for stunning and other Monk DCs, but moderate on Cassie since DEX and STR might be needed more to attack and deflect attacks better.

The Conservation of Ninjitsu

He never knew what hit him.

He never knew what hit him.

Look this one on TV Tropes and you’ll understand. Ryncletica invoked this in her trip to Gwylan’s Stand. Basically, a single ninja against more than one ninja (or anyone else) means that the single ninja wins. The Bride from Kill Bill. John McClane from the Die Hard movies. Neo in The Matrix. The Batman.

And Ryncletica. But I boast. It’s the results that determine success, not my dreams of the build.

It’s a lot to live up to. Be a ninja. Be a spy. My mind wanders as I ponder the synergies to imagine James Bond as being Batman. No, I’m not cleaning up the mess your head just made. Worse: Think who would win if the two had to fight.

My bet goes to the Batman by a close margin. Gadgets aside, they both have similar tactics to compel enemies to do what they think they should do, and thus allow a victory through predictable behavior. But they call it the Batman Gambit on TV Tropes, not the “James Bond Gambit.”

10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. FuzzyDuck81
    Jun 26, 2013 @ 13:11:27

    Assuming you have slippery surface immunity or FoM available eg. by the kundarak delving boots, don’t underestimate the usefulness of sleet storm scrolls, for those few occasions where you *have* to fight.. another way of making enemies vulnerable to your sneak attacks can help you deliver an quick & effective smackdown while also providing a bit of concealment & hindrance.

    Also, as a stealthy enthusiast if you hadnt seen it yet i suggest you take a look here https://www.ddo.com/forums/showthread.php/419210-AI-Awareness!

    • teachersyn
      Jun 26, 2013 @ 17:56:02

      SQUEE!
      Great news to hear from the devs. I love the idea of being able to escape a fight with stealth tactics. I want smoke bombs!!! :)
      I’ll have to do a Stealth Update on this thread.

    • shiikun
      Jun 29, 2013 @ 16:49:53

      Pretty much, the best news ever. Seriously. I was thinking these things would never get looked at.

  2. geoffhanna
    Jun 26, 2013 @ 14:25:33

    Fun to read, as always

  3. Kavatch2.0
    Jun 28, 2013 @ 16:03:28

    As far as uber throwing stars go when your ninja is lvl24 the eveningstar challenge throwingstars are pretty good.

    • teachersyn
      Jun 28, 2013 @ 16:46:49

      Ah. I don’t run many challenges so I wasn’t as familar with crafting the Cormyrian weapons. Sounds like it’s randomly generated, however, so that might get weird. Still, it’s on my list. :)

      • FuzzyDuck81
        Jul 01, 2013 @ 03:25:56

        Randomly generated, but also possesses the hidden “spellplague” property which is a whole bunch of cool weirdness in itself which has a bunch of different random effects on every attack – apparantly it was initially a bug, but the devs decided that it was actually pretty cool so it’s officially WAI now :)

  4. Trackback: Throwing Stars of DEATH! | The Order of Syncletica
  5. Trackback: Theatricality and Deception, Part 2 | The Order of Syncletica
  6. Trackback: Silk, Hiding Sword, Sting and Shadow | The Order of Syncletica
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