Magekiller

The Assassin from "Diablo II," trained to slay mages in style. (c) Blizzard Entertainment

The Assassin from “Diablo II,” trained to slay mages with style. (c) Blizzard Entertainment

After reading my own review of finishing moves in my last post, my right hand moved on its own and began to slap me across the face every so often for a few odd minutes.

“What is the sound of a stupid gamer crying?” the hand said.

I’ve always touted the Monk class as an anti-mage or “magekiller“; a class designed to resist or deflect magical attacks and to slay powerful spellcasters that could debilitate other classes who fail to evade or save from such attacks.

Old Diablo II fans may recall the Assassin class, a martial-arts melee class that used items and attacks that emulated magic to destroy corrupted mages.

I miss that game. It was the original Neverwinter Nights RPG that pulled me away from that one, and DDO then pulled me here. I haven’t touched Diablo III out of fear it will ruin my life.

DDO’s Monks aren’t much different from the Diablo Assassin, from their martial arts, using ki rather than magic for attacks and spell-like abilities, inheriting high spell resistances and armored with saves that thwart many a spell caster.

After some four years of play, I’ve still many things to learn. I’ve surprised myself by what I haven’t used.

I’ve documented how much I love the power of Freezing the Lifeblood, a long-lasting Dark paralysis finisher that allows me to hold almost any Orange-Named or lesser enemy for very long periods (from a battle perspective). Now, I’ve found a second joy: Pain Touch.

Pain Touch will nauseate an enemy. This finisher and the Stinking Cloud spell are the only abilities in the game that cause the Nauseated effect. When something is nauseated, they cannot cast spells or attack. The only thing they can do is walk around. My DC ensures they aren’t casting or fighting for a full minute.

My bet, however, is that Stinking Cloud’s fortitude save is low and easy for enemies to beat. Else, I’d see more allied spellcasters using it to stop enemy counterparts. Or, because the effect also generates a greenish cloud that also gives Concealment, perhaps it’s a spell that few add to their spell book as clouding spells are often frowned on by party members.

Pain Touch has the usual Monk DC formula to save from this Fortitude attack: 10 + Monk level + WIS modifier, which are boosted by many enhancements such as the Henshin Mystic’s Mystical Training ability.

The advantage of Pain Touch is that it works on many enemies that may resist paralysis or won’t qualify for the Freezing attack, such as aberrations such as driders, duergar, monstrous humanoids, giants, and vermin such as spiders.

Kiricletica, anti-mage of Eberron and the Forgotten Realms.

Kiricletica, anti-mage of Eberron and the Forgotten Realms.

You need a strong DC to pull this off.

At level 25 and buffed in Grandmaster of Flowers training at present (where I’ve taken all WIS upgrades to-date at tier 4 for a 46 WIS), Kiricletica’s DC is at least 12 + 25 + 18 = 55. Since mages aren’t normally packed with CON and therefore have a lower Fortitude, Pain Touch works quite well to shut them up. Like Freezing, the enemy rarely escapes the nausea before the one-minute timer expires.

I first tried this on a solo run into “Jungles of Khyber” on Epic Normal. The Drow mages sometimes saved against it, but a Freezing attack held them tight.

The real challenge presented itself with the beholders. I sneaked up to near point-blank range to launch a Pain Touch finisher. My results were inconclusive. They still threw out an antimagic cone and some Enervation, suggesting that they either saved against Pain Touch or are immune. They still died from my other attacks and removing a couple of negative levels left me none the worst for wear.

Silencing the Mages

To express my joy in this (belated) discovery, I ventured out into the wilds of the Underdark, where plenty of nasty spellcasters lurked about to test the finisher: Drow Priestesses, illithids, Yuan-Ti, Drow Necromancers. A successful Pain Touch attack left them mute. They were still moving about but they were out of the fighting picture while I tended to other business.

The only obstacle to using these finishers are in charging them up. Each ki attack used takes 3 seconds, which can overlap with another. I can charge either finisher up in about 6 seconds, applying one while attacking and charging it for another mage. But since I don’t move around while fighting, other enemies often aren’t aware I’m there, allowing time to charge finishers again and set up Freezes or Pain Touch strikes.

Of course, easier but more ki-expensive attacks to take the mage out of the picture immediately, such as Quivering Palm, aren’t off the table. I mixed these attacks up with finishers since Quivering Palm’s use won’t affect a finisher chain.

In the epic Gianthold wilderness, where even a high Sneak skill is good only if you’re about a quarter-mile away from the eyes of a giant, Pain Touch proved remarkably helpful in stopping some giants from doing anything. Stone and Storm Giants could be halted but Fire Giants and Hill Giants were often more resistant, likely since they are often spellcasters with some innate spell resistance and/or maybe a higher buffed Fortitude.

Spiders, as you know, are quite the pain for a stealth player since they’ll detect you with tremor-sense. But using Pain Touch stops their attacks. Their lower Fortitude guaranteed a successful finisher during one visit to epic-level “Trial by Fire” in Gianthold where the arachnids were quite numerous. Trolls, being what they are, are immune from muting or my type of paralysis. But that’s where the usual flame weapons work just fine.

The hallmark of Pain Touch’s power revealed itself on meeting a Devil Battlefield rare encounter, Lysson, an orange-named horned devil. I sneaked behind him and launched a Pain Touch finisher against him, leaving him unable to do anything while I cleaned up his minions and then redirected my attacks to him. This horned devil, one of the game’s more resistant/immune-laden enemies, couldn’t attack me once.

But it got better.

I suspended my solo play rules and teamed up with the guild leaders for an Epic Hard “Trial by Fury.” Without a dedicated healer, the Bard, Arcane Archer and I were doing pretty well. The spiders in one test of might are, if you pardon the pun, very bugged. One pack of yugoloths appeared and gave the team a challenge, but my spell resistance and saves kept the mutts from damaging me as I whittled them down. These guys are arguably some of the nastiest casters in the game as they were punching holes in my party member’s defenses.

The last yugoloth mages, two orange names, needed some care, seeing what ordinary ones almost did to the party. I asked to go down and apply a bit of Pain Touch to each–which I did, putting them both out of the spellcasting picture while we removed their guard spiders with ease.

Blizzard…eat your heart out.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. erdrique
    Mar 28, 2014 @ 14:07:09

    I’m going to have to play with this once I make a dark monk. I really like trying new things like this, gives you more options to deal with various situations.

    • teachersyn
      Mar 28, 2014 @ 17:11:37

      Kiricletica forced me to dig deeper into all monk abilities. I’ve improved on stealth and attack and learned things I didn’t know before I created her. Dark monks are really, really something. :)

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