The Wisdom to Stop Time

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Lolth picked a fight with the wrong adventurers.

I’m sorry for being way-off my 2 per month post goals. Lots of real-life stuff, particularly losing my job. Hated the place anyway and had been on the market for several weeks prior. Prospects are good, however, so at present, when I’m not job searching each day, I’m getting a lot of play time.

Each of the three builds I’ve made turned out to have a certain “schtick”–a fortunate bonus to its design for which I didn’t originally plan.

For Pynthetica the Zen Archer, the high-DEX also makes her very difficult to kill, even against the party-wiping AoE from the end-boss of “Defiler of the Just” or the electro-bombs from the Stormreaver in “Fall of Truth.” She just upgraded her Thunder-Forged Longbow to tier 3 with Mortal Fear and life is very, very good. After she completes leveling Fury of the Wild, I plan to make her my first Epic TR character, going Primal for more Doubleshot through Epic Past Lives.

For Ryncletica the Poison-master, her Drow heritage not only adds to her poison skills but also made her just as deadly with shuriken, a type of “Shuricannon“-lite. She’s my “on-timer” character right now when the archers are on raid timers.

In the case of Paracleta the Zen Bowmaster, my desire for a build with a very high Doubleshot has found serendipity from her core abilities as an Arcane Archer.

Before the recent updates to the AA tree, Paralyzing Shot showed this pitiful quality to this and many of its special non-elemental arrow imbues:

oldAAparalysis

Those arrows were fine until you hit Epic levels, where a DC of 26 gained you slightly better than “Improved Paralyzing” weapon effects. In other words, you weren’t likely to freeze anything except on a low enemy save.

Now, AAs have WIS modifiers combined with any Enchantment focus DCs as your modifier.

newAAparalysis

The changes in the AP for the tree helped free up some points for defense from Ninja Spy, as well.

Now, the classes that tend to use WIS offensively are few. Clerics and Rangers and Paladins use it to get more spell points or qualify for certain spells. Favored Souls use WIS for their offensive DCs. Monks use WIS to influence their level of ki, calculate the DCs for Stunning Fist, and gain an AC bonus based on the modifier.

But they also use WIS as the to-hit modifier for bows when the Zen Archery feat is used.

For a Ranger AA to appreciate the AA DC change, they’d have to give up something important: STR (damage rolls) or DEX (to-hit) to raise WIS more than the usual 14 points that the class requires to use all of their small cache of spells.

Monkchers also will sacrifice decent DCs since they, too, will want to add more to STR. Their benefits from Zen Archery simply come from being centered with the bow. They can’t add more WIS if they want to follow their high-DPS damage track.

This is where Paracleta shines. She has only two central stats that form her offensive joy: WIS and DEX. Unlike Pyncletica, however, things are turned around in importance. WIS applies a higher AC bonus and ki management while also giving the to-hit. All I need to do is add a bit more DEX for the Elven DEX-to-damage. And as an AA, spell power really brings out extra damage that doesn’t require me to go nuts with DEX (although I’m still adding effects where I can). I can deal over 100 points of Fire damage to go with the 100 physical damage of one arrow.

So I’ve pumped WIS as high as I can go.

How high? You’re invited to view a spreadsheet with the estimates.

I filled in what I could expect in the best scenario in the row on level 30. Let me summarize.

By level 30, Par has a 58 minimum WIS, no matter the destiny, now that she’s read a +6 WIS tome. That’s only with the base, tomes, Ocean Stance, an Insightful WIS +6 item, a +15 WIS item, a +2 Festive WIS augment. With the +2 untyped bonuses of the Yugoloth and DDO elixirs, it’s 62 minimum.

Now add in up to +6 WIS from either the Primal Avatar or Divine Crusader destinies. If I go Primal Avatar, the Spirit Boon ability gives another +2 WIS for as long as I have Spirit to supply it. Better and more flexible: I can Twist the Fury of the Wild’s tier 2 ability Acute Instincts for a +2 WIS with just a Rage potion.

House Deneith potions can give up to +3 Alchemical bonus to WIS for about 1 minute or two.

The last item I needed to find that stacks is the Legendary Earthen Mantle, the only game item with Quality WIS, +4 in this case. That’s in “Search and Rescue,” with a long fight through the Underdark optional. Thanks to some great guildmates, I have that item, and helped them score some sought-after gear of their own afterward.

As a bonus for spell power, in “Memoirs of an Illusory Larcener” is an incredible spell power-boosting tiara, the Legendary Pansophic Circlet, that will be good for special occasions.

I could also Twist at least +1 WIS from any other destiny, but at the compromise of ki (Enlightenment from GMoF) or extra fortification (Brace for Impact from Unyielding Sentinel).

Finally, in a party with a good Bard, Inspire Excellence gives a +2 Competence to WIS. The Fatesinger destiny could add a +2 additional WIS and a boost to already-hasted attack speed but gives no other WIS bonus.

That’s at least a possible, but brief, 76-80 WIS, or a 53 minimum Will DC to stop many things cold. WIS 72 is sustainable for 1 to 15 minutes. Add in a +5 Enchantment item and that’s a 61 DC, with Insightful and Enhancement bonuses added for a few more DC points, including this lovely gem that dropped for me for use very recently. Other Enchantment DC boosts are Equipment or untyped bonuses, so yay for me.

Topaz of Gr Enchantment

 

I might have mentioned this before. So why am I excited?

To start, several weeks ago, I completed a level 32 Epic Elite “Grim and Barrett” and paralyzed hordes of CR 50ish Abishi very reliably at only 53 WIS, or a 41 DC. I’ve also kept great control of trash in a “Caught in the Web” EH run a couple of weekends back.

Later, the team entered a Legendary Tempest’s Spine on Elite. It was grueling, but we made it. I made a video of it, which you can find here. Sadly, a glitch in my sound settings left the video silent with no audio at all.

Just for giggles as a comparison to Szyncletica’s effort, I decided to run a solo Heroic Shroud with Paracleta on Normal. I was proud of Szyn’s effort but she was nowhere close to what an AA can do. In Shiradi mode, Par’s DPS blew away the portals and I got a good set of lieutenants to mow down in part 2. I did part 3 deliberately slow to avoid colliding into the prismatic wall with 7 rooms left to fill with water, bypassing the puzzle solving. I took down Harry in one round in part 4 and bested him again in part 5 to conclude the raid in about 45 minutes.

But the real adventure, a very, very grueling one, was with the cool kids in our meta-guild with Legendary Shroud on Hard. With fatal one-shot sneak-attacks from Troglodyte Assassins on part 1 and deadly ghost kittehs in part 2, it was challenging from the beginning. The great news was that Paracleta was able to stop just about everything to slow down the attacks on the party. But there were more trials, especially in part 4 where we had to work out a plan when we couldn’t kill Harry in one go. The team devised one idea to help against the hyper-healing gnolls, and that involved Paracleta’s bow.

The video is captioned and there is lots of sound except from my own mic. (Lousy voice, anyway). It took us 2 hours and we were slightly short-manned to boot, but it was a success. The video is not edited so here are the timestamps for each part:

  • Part 1: Start
  • Part 2: 27 min 56 sec
  • Part 3: 1 hour 10 min 31 sec
  • Part 4: 1 hour 21 min
  • Part 5: 1 hour 47 min 55 sec

Paracleta seems to find that 70 WIS is the magic number for reliability in raids where paralysis can work. The most practical configuration will be any destiny with +6 WIS and the Legendary Earthen Mantle with all stacking items, or 72-74 WIS. There are no other items with stacking WIS that I can find except perhaps some Exceptional WIS +1 item, but this matters little if the ability score is even to make the modifier. There’s a remote chance of finding a WIS 16 item.

Paracleta can still be a tad squishy, though far less than a Ranger that aggros as much as she does.Thankfully, with enough WIS to stop things cold, they have to reach me first. The downside, for now, in paralysis mode, is that I’m dependent on killing damage from the bow alone. Even with spell power boosts and the Thunder-Forged bow, the time it takes to remove a hardy CR 53 enemy can take too long alone. It’ll take the tier 3 upgrade with Mortal Fear to help more here–though not on Legendary raids, where Mortal Fear is deliberately nerfed, although its extra Force damage will work nicely with the Legendary Earthen Mantle’s Impulse spell power boost.

So, we’ll see, sometime, if Legendary Elite (is that “Reaper?”) enemies can be stopped by Paracleta’s paralysis.

Now with an Epic Dynamistic Quiver and Shadow Arrows kicked on, Paracleta has a standing 78% Doubleshot. Whatever attacks isn’t going to do it for long, especially when I switch to Divine Crusader and kick on Zeal of the Righteous for that 50 Doubleshot buff and Ranged Power boost, combined with either of the many-shot feats: 220 to 240%.

Bowmaster Ascendant

Paracleta22Skipping low-reward chains to reach level 20 and beyond, the Bowmaster Paracleta is remarkably adept at controlling trash and even some minibosses as she wins Elite quests.

Gear, especially bows, is important but not as critical as leveling and flagging for raids that can yield greater rewards than plodding through the usual chains repeatedly.

One important point I neglected to account from the original build (and a change in the enhancement tree with a recent update) is that the Arcane Archer tree is cheaper to work up to 40 action points. This left me with enough remaining to fully complete the core Elven racial enhancements and add Shadow Veil from Ninja Spy into the fold, reserving 2 AP for the last AA cores. I previously noted how the use of WIS modifiers for the DCs of several imbues are what give this Zen build its characteristic flavor. Thanks to a reader that noted that they were able to accommodate Shadow Veil in a variant of this build.

Another matter involves Doubleshot. At level 20, I have 30% and can’t account for the sources. I’ve got the 5% effect of Shadow Arrows now at level 22, the 10% bonus on capping the AA core to come at level 25, and but Epic Destiny Doubleshot feat until level 27. But who am I to complain? I’m sure I can trace it, but time is a bit limited.

She’s working her way through the Devil Battlefield now for Yugoloth favor and the +2 ability potions, but low bow damage made it hard going. At level 21, she has the Combat Archery feat for extra weapon damage and completed the Eveningstar Drow quests, holding my experience levels so that destiny levels are completed. Starting from Grandmaster of Flowers to the primal tree to get Rejuvenation Cocoon and Shiradi Champion’s Pin and Otto’s Whistler and fill all destinies to get Twists unlocked and filled. I’d like to have Shiradi running by the time Paracleta enters her first “Caught in the Web.”

There’s so much going on as this character grows swiftly that I’m worried I will miss out on some XP opportunity. But that’s why raid flagging and the support I can get there might make a difference. I’m using sagas more and more on this. Paracleta is raid-designed. Hopefully she can keep substantial amounts of trash too afraid to fight in “Fire on Thunder Peak” and “Caught in the Web” or help in the DPS in other raids. I so want to get this girl into the weekend raid parties that remain the awesome group they’ve always been for fun raids, even in failure.

A comment or two in the last post from Teacher Jammond reminded me that AA imbues get damage bonuses from spell power. So destinies in the Arcane tree could be just as nasty as others. I’ve began study of adding Equipment bonuses of Magnetism (for great Electric imbue boosts against pit fiends), Combustion (icy enemies), and Impulse (Force damage) to have an enhanced DPS solution on hand against certain bosses. Still using my Unwavering Ardency bow in the Storm Horns, that bow with the Fire Arrows imbue, boosted with the Improved enhancement, really fry fire-sensitive enemies.

At level 22 now, Pynthetica granted her sister a Tier 0 Thunder-Forged longbow. Pyn’s early advantages in Harper Agent Ranged Power helps in damage as Paracleta’s damage is less than Pyn’s at the same level—the difference caused by the Ranged Power variation as well as slightly lower DEX. All this superb crowd control isn’t useful if Paracleta can’t slay bosses before they slay her, or if it takes too long to rid herself of a held mob before one enemy gets in a lucky strike. Going Shiradi will help, as will Epic Power as she levels a bit more.

Paracleta will hold her level at 23 as she pumps XP only into as many Epic Destinies, particularly Primal, for healing, fate points, and of course boosts to abilities and damage. As with Pynthetica and Mericletica, getting Pin as a Twisted ability is helpful. I wonder if Pin works with Improved Precise Shot, affecting all in the line of that arrow’s fire. If so, my, my. Same for Otto’s Whistler. I want to take significant Epic Destiny feats when I’m eligible.

A guildmate donated what I needed for a Seal of the Black Abbot to unlock my Unwavering Ardency bow’s Blinding power and requested a video. Time is short to get one in on this post, but perhaps I can work one in next time, on Heroic Elite, with one of my favorite quests, “What Goes Up.” That will also illustrate Paracleta’s near-perfect paralysis crowd control. Only enemy Clerics and a few Champions resist my AA Paralysis to be a serious threat.

To keep that perfect control with paralysis means I’ve got to keep that WIS high. Right now she’s around 40. Good, but not great. I want 50 at minimum and expect that 60 is my Epic Elite minimum for 75% or better DC success. For that, I need to keep an eye on better Insightful Wisdom items, WIS 10 or better items, and get the special Festive bonus when I’m able.

The Irresistable Bowmaster

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Tauriel from the film of the book, “The Hobbit.” She’s got nothing to do with the post. I just think she’s lovely.

With Pynthetica the Zen Master at 5,000 favor, capped all levels and relevant destinies, and completing raids to gather ingredients and gear to create and improve her Legendary Green Steel and Thunder-Forged bows, it was time to finally dust off Paracleta.

Paracleta, as you might remember, is an experimental build that’s the opposite of the stealthy, high-defense, virtually uninterruptable damage on single-target zen mastery of Pynthetica. The “Zen Bowmaster” build is intended to a swift-moving DPS build that does not stay still.

The challenges I have with Paracleta involve the near-exclusive use of the Elven Arcane Archer tree. Rather than glomming resources from both Ninja Spy and Harper Agent trees, I need to max out the AA tree at 40+ action points so I can have a much-higher inherent Doubleshot than Pyn’s 32%. Paracleta’s base Doubleshot should be nearly 58% by level 25.

Because I haven’t enough action points to spare after adding the required AP for the Elf racial enhancements for Dexterity-to-Damage, Paracleta won’t have a high Incorporeality, losing out on Ninja Spy’s 25% Shadow Veil. Her Dodge won’t be as high (perhaps 27% at Epic). She can still gain Lesser Displacement (25% Blurry) with an item–but even Pyn hasn’t found that item for herself yet. Ranged Power damage will be a bit less, too, with no use of the Harper enhancements.

I could be wrong on the AP as the AA update clearly adjusted ranks and some point requirements. If I can find points for Shadow Veil, I will use it.

But, as with other builds, serendipity often comes from gameplay.

At the end of level 11, I added Terror Arrows to the mix.

Now I’ve played Pynthetica in her first life as a Human Ranger Arcane Archer, so I’m familiar enough with Arcane Archers. But it seems the Arcane Archer’s recent enhancement update has improved the potential effectiveness of Terror Arrows greatly to Paracleta’s benefit. This is the current definition:

On Hit: Target is feared. (Will save vs. DC: 20 + Wisdom Modifier + Enchantment Spell Bonuses)
On Vorpal: Target is subject to a Phantasmal Killer effect.
Passive: +1 bonus to DC of Enchantment Spells

 

So, what’s a Monk known for, in terms of ability stats? Often, a very high WIS.

Pyn’s higher WIS serves for stronger damage and Doubleshot using Ten Thousand Stars, in addition to great Will saves and total available ki. Paracleta will gain greater benefit from the same stat but, since the success of Terror Arrows is based on a high WIS modifier, Paracleta stands to halt more enemies with these arrows than many other builds, including Rangers, who might add 14 base points to WIS to gain their spells but not add much more to the stat. Likewise, monkcher builds, often using STR from their Ranger levels as the bow damage, concentrate on STR with just enough WIS to have enough ki for Ten Thousand Stars.

Therefore, while DEX is the ruling damage stat on both Zen builds, a higher WIS (50 or more) on Paracleta will mean not only that Terror Arrows could be an incredible crowd-controller, but so will all the other specialty arrow imbues, including Paralyzing Arrows, Smiting Arrows and Banishing Arrows, now all using the same definition. Short of red-named immunity, there would be few enemies that will resist a hit.

So imagine a single arrow on Improved Precise Shot that paralyses or Fears a mob very reliably. Standard paralysis is only DC 17, while I will have much more, as high as my WIS will go: At 50 WIS, that’s a 40 DC at least. So if spell casters can still charm and do related things at similar modifiers on INT or CHA, I should be able to make do–I hope.

And if I can understand the arcane bonuses from Enchantment bonuses and where and how I can boost those to improve the overall DC of all these arrows, so much the better. Tips are appreciated. I found some named goggles to add a point.

I ran Paracleta through some level 6 quests on Elite to get their XP. On her first life she can just sneeze and gain 100 XP, so leveling up is less a priority than to experiment with what Paracleta can do.

In “Redwillow’s Ruins”, “Taming the Flames” and “Tear of Dakkaan”, Paracleta ruled those places with Terror Arrows, causing all kinds of things that should be hard to Fear to run away. My keyboard controller is set up for me to quickly change targets so I can keep everything Feared while also shooting them dead. My hireling Cleric even survived “Flames”, a place where hirelings quickly die because of spamming fireballs from the fire elementals. But these things can’t spam if they’re too busy running away. Same for the hobgoblins. I kept them at bay, with my Frozen Tunic occasionally entombing enemies, or Vorpal hits activating Phantasmal Killer effects for a quick kill.

With level 15 now banked after a powerful run through the Red Fens and Vault of Night chains, I watched Paracleta nail Fear or Ph.Killer with 98% success in some Demon Sands side quests. The real test comes in the Droaam quests. Those guys have better saves over many other enemies.

But when I tackle them, I’ll have a +2 WIS tome and at least 32 WIS.

I guess I shouldn’t worry too much about Paracleta’s overall defense. It may be no worse than Szyncletica the Shuricannon. With a high DEX (at least 45, I hope, by cap) Paracleta will also have good reflexes, too. Not using Improved Precise Shot on the Zen Archer build to avoid getting attention was the deal there. But with several levels of mob-stopping power available to the Arcane Archer, IPS is not only back on the table, but desired.

After all, the whole purpose of the build is to see how hard you can push the all-Monk build using existing enhancements. Since Monks have a great overall default set of saves, it shouldn’t be impossible to make due with even three-fourths of Pyn’s defense.

At level 15 it’s time to wear more stout armor than the Level 12 Frozen Tunic, so either a stored Icy Raiment or White Dragonscale Robe is due. I have the insane Unwavering Ardency bow from the Anniversary event for equal measure. The modifier for that bow with a Seal of the Black Abbot is making me actually run the Orchard chain and explore the wilderness to get the needed items to get that seal.

With a goal of getting 50+ WIS by level 30, Paracleta should be something interesting to play. Now I can’t wait to go to level 15 and add Improved Precise Shot. That’s where the fun begins.

Paracleta will share one common trait with Pynthetica in that total weapon damage is less important than a secondary benefit from the build. In Pyn’s case, it’s total defense from high Reflex and miss-chance. High weapon damage came along as part of the design and n Epic Destinies and Ranged Power in Epic. In Paracleta’s situation, at this point, it’s the overall DC to speciality imbues for tactical control of a battlefield–and applying that pain to as many targets as possible with as many hits per attack as possible with high Doubleshot and Improved Precise Shot.

The Zen Archery feat also takes hold when WIS is higher than DEX in determining the attack roll. I just need to keep DEX high to keep damage going.

So Paracleta will gain so much from just boosting WIS throughout her lifetime to ensure her specialty arrows do their work no matter what the difficulty. She may end up becoming far more “Zen” than Pyn.

I’ll likely post a video sometime of Paracleta doing her thing in a Droaam quest just to show it off. I might have enough data to post the official build by 20 but want to push her further to find her big weaknesses since every build has one.

FYI: The character’s name (pear-uh-KLEET-uh) fits barely in my typical character naming scheme and is based on another name for the Holy Spirit in Christian theology: “Paraclete” means “the advocate.” She tries to invoke the spirit of the bow.

Pyn Can’t Even

Favor Shame

I finally achieved 5,000 favor today, after getting humiliated with one of the new quests and getting 4,999.

It took Update 31’s new quests to do it because I just couldn’t do “Tomb of the Tormented” without turning into a mindless blabbering idiot that would make even a beholder hand me a bottle of Vicodin.

Zen and the Quest for 5,000 Favor

I’ve updated the Zen Archer build information with the final results of my experience with it. Without sounding my own gong too loudly, it’s got to be my most versatile build. That’s not saying much since I’ve only designed two builds. (The Poison Master is the second.)

Pynthetica, reaching level 30 some time ago, is accomplishing what I’ve not achieved with no other character: 5,000 total favor.

Okay, okay, you may snicker. Just cheer for me a little, those of you who’ve made many Heroic and Epic Completionist characters. I’m a slower player. (Perhaps that’s because I’m an older player, one who has played Pong on Atari in the Seventies, and Space Invaders in arcades, oh, long before many of you were born.)

Sometimes I celebrate things that may seem mundane to the power-gamers among the player base. I’m cheerful because the build has defied what some critics claimed it could not do. In short, she’s not only a survivor, but a dominating solo and group attacker as well as a strong raid character.

I won’t go over the hows and why again: You can find that easily on the build thread, as well as by searching for “Zen” in the search bar of this blog.

Getting 5,000 favor, as Gamer Geoff and Girl have done not long ago, gives you the choice of a +5 ability tome, as you may know. I’m getting a DEX tome for now.

After researching what I’d have to do get that much favor at the time I read Geoff’s article, I was heartbroken. I’d yet to get into the recent raids with groups I felt comfortable with. Some quests and most raids are virtually impossible to solo.

And I’m hitting that same wall that Geoff did once you got to around 4,700. My game-fu is nearly sufficient to climb that wall.

But lots of fresh new content has raised the total possible favor to 5,518 as of Update 30. That’s plenty of room to skip some raids and a few quests that just aren’t fun or practical to do.

If there’s one thing that Pyn can do for most quests with skill is sneak right through them. As long as the objectives don’t require mass slaughter, she moves through many adventures as unnoticed as a draft from a flying bug.

Of course, you can “cheat” to get Elite favor for several quests. Rather than sweat blood by diving into an Epic Elite quest, you can complete the Heroic Elite version if one is available. This works for chains such as The Red Fens and Magnificent Cabal, where the quests are the same but the difficulty is boosted. But it won’t work for modified versions of similar chains (and good on it, too, since these offer additional favor) such as Epic Gianthold and perhaps some quests in Epic Three-Barrel Cove.

It appears you can’t complete a quest on Heroic Elite and gain credit if you’ve already completed the adventure on any Epic difficulty as well. So, for quests I’ve already done on Epic difficulty that will hand my butt back to me in small to-go cups on solo play (such as the latest Codex and the Shroud flagging quests and the Archon’s Trial series), Epic Hard will have to do unless I can gather a few friends to help.

Thankfully, a number of folks from the Raiding Party of Greater Awesomeness have offered to help me (and help themselves, in turn) when we are able to connect, so that’s a plus.

I was greeted by something I’ve never seen before in my game mail that sparked all of this.

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Okay, I’m so lazy that it took 6 years for me to get 4,000 favor, ever. But I’m here now.

Reaching 4,000 has only emboldened me to get it all done. It’s rather fun to mow through some quests that were a bit harder at level. It’s more surprising when some upper-level Heroic quests try to hand you your head when a Champion at level 35 shows up in a Level 19 Heroic Elite adventure.

What’s amusing for me are completing quests I’ve really never completed before. Mostly, these are Necropolis quests. I’ve done Necro 4 quests before (but not the raids) but never have delved into Necro 3. That’s changing. I’m flagged for “The Mark of Death” so I’d love to take a stab at it.

I may also complete as much of the favor available from challenges as well.

I still need to complete “The Temple of Elemental Evil, Part 2,” on Heroic Elite, but it’s still bugged and uncompletable as of this writing and Update 30.

As of this writing, Pyn is at around 4,700 favor. There are a handful of raids I could do to help. After watching a YouTube video where some level 28 monkcher completed “A Vision of Destruction” on solo (enjoying his Adrenaline boosts), I think I’d have no problem taking down Suulomades on Elite with a bit of care–and friends, if available.

Pyn’s ability to kill at long range may seem mundane, but she’s easily the best character I’ve played in terms of balanced defensive/offensive simplicity. She’s no Szyncletica the Shroud Beater, but Pyn can actually survive and beat several places that even the Shuricannon can’t do. While my Poison Master’s DPS easily outpaces the Zen Master, her defenses are not as strong as Pynthetica’s complete miss-chance and higher PRR and AC. Much of that for the Poison Master might be rectified through a bit more epic gear, yet my Drow Ryncletica is limited to only 3 minutes of Displacement from a Green Steel clicky, while Pyn’s Elven Dragonmarks and Harper Agent’s Magic of Patience enhancement gives her 3 uses of Displacement at nearly 6 minutes per use.

As for comparisons with Artemistika, my all Elven Ranger Deepwood Stalker, their damage is very comparable, but Pyn’s all-Monk features generate stronger defenses to last longer than any Ranger. I think Misty should have a DPS edge with Improved Archer’s Focus and a few other ranged feats and Ranger-unique powers, but her general defenses suffer no matter the epic destiny, while Pyn’s defenses stay good no matter the destiny.

As I’ve said, a build’s viability is really a matter of play style, not how hard or many enemies you can hit or how many classes you glom together.

Let me know any tips or tricks you can share about getting 5,000 favor, especially if you are a Completionist or Reincarnation vet.

You CAN Beat City Hall–The Joy of Jumping

Another fun thing about being a Monk is your long-jump ability.

While a few other classes have this now (but with limits and longer cooldowns), the Monk’s Abundant Step is ki-powered and has a short 3-second cooldown, allowing you to chain your jumps from high locations to travel much longer distances than any other class.

One of my favorites is the materialization point in the volcanic ruins of the Twelve after Bazbeau the genie transporter sends you out of Meridia. Familiar to all of us, you’re likely coming from a Vale of Twilight quest run, or the venerable Shroud raid. I run off of this slab, hitting Abundant Step and fly–

Easily “field goaling” the gate near the airship entrance and landing at the airship tower door with extra glide to spare.

Another fun one to do is during the “Tower of Despair” raid. Your team heads up the first tunnel to find a damsel calling for help, standing ahead. You fall in a pit–or you’re supposed to, unless you’re a Monk. You make a jump and watch everyone else in the raid party fall while you’re on the opposite side. I wonder if I could continue on the raid from there because a party returns here after the J&J fight, with the pit (which drops you to the Jailer and Judge) is covered by a flaming force field on the second passingby.

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I learned also to climb to the highest point in the high hills around, and the tower above, the Twilight Forge raid entrance.

I can easily get Journal #7 through a series of jumps along the High Road. That’s documented in the wiki, but doing it and completing it are two different things.

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I’ve explored, in depth, the hidden back garden within the fallen monastery in the Soami Gardens, near the quest, “Monastery of the Scorpion.” You can’t reach this inner area without a great jump.

In “Let Sleeping Dust Lie,” I can still reach the upper ledge to find the second journal before the first. I can also jump up into the spawning ogre tunnel to remove the ogres when defending Lycosa the spider queen.

The platforms where levers deactivate force fields needed for your party to pass some bridges in the “Vault of Night” raid are no problem for Monks.

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I can stand atop the Stormreach Harbor statue and its column of light.

I can leap across the first electrical floor chasm you encounter in “Spies in the House,” to the nearest circular platform, in stealth, without alerting the archer guard there.

Getting around high ledges in the Underdark is absolutely fun.

I’m practically BASE-jumping back to the start if I leap towards there from the highest point of the Storm Horns mountains, guiding for what seems like several minutes.

So when Eveningstar was introduced, I saw my new challenge: the city hall tower, the highest intact building.

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“I’m queen of the castle! I’m queen of the castle!”

 

I say “intact” because, after I scaled to the top of town hall, I saw my next challenge, the ruins of the Amaunator church.

(You want to know how I got to the top of the tower? That’s very sweet.)

Unfortunately, even a jump from the top of city hall  is too short for me to reach the innards of the invisible-walled church ruins. “No desecrations!” I hear the devs say in my imagination. “The Drow have burned it down. You don’t have to go pick through the embers.”

Perhaps the invisible walls are also there because the church sits at the edge of the map toward the King’s Forest.

What places have you found it fun to reach in the course of your adventures?

Reimagining the Monk

fallinglynnWhile I don’t think the Monk class as a whole are underpowered (far from it), there are some serious arguments on the Shintao Monk’s future being raised on several threads in the past. The Henshin Mystic is also a peeve to me.

The Shintao represents the traditional form of the Monk: Unarmed combat.

Shintaos keep to a strict use of STR to determine damage from unarmed combat and DEX for the attack rolls. In theory, the higher your STR, the more damage you deal.

The problem for me is, unlike the Ninja Spy tree, there isn’t much versatility in the Shintao or Mystic trees, and that needs fixing.

It’s Not About More Damage

It’s been a bit since Lynncletica was an Epic character, a hardy Shintao Monk that has soloed the Subterrane, and braved the haunted deeps of Thunderholme. She’s on her way now to Epicland and dedicating her training to be a raid tanker.

With the recent healing amplification adjustments, Lynncletica’s already-potent HP recovery with Healing Ki (which would bring back 1/3 of her health at the least) will likely bring back 2/3, not to mention the vampiric boosts to Fists of Light.

But that’s not what a central thread or two on the state of Monks is concentrating on.

To most of the posters, it’s all about damage.

Now, I’ve never had a problem landing powerful hits with Lynn. I clear things just fine. So I pose this argument: Perhaps some people are just too damned impatient and want to clear monsters with a Shintao Monk in the same way that a Barbarian does. That’s not the role of the class.

Monks are the lesser damaging of the melee classes by design. What? You expect to hit as hard with a fist as you would with a sword and very high STR? That’s incredulous. But that doesn’t mean that there may be some…some…lack of damage present on Monks in Epic levels.

This presumes one thing: You’re running a pure Monk. You can’t expect all the damage benefits of a pure Monk to be present in a splashed one. The better core abilities and enhancements appear at these higher levels.

I would tweak the Unarmed Strike feat to boost damage more for every Monk level, including Epic. That’s it. It doesn’t require scary recoding of handwraps as weapons, which could cause far greater game-breaking issues since handwraps have been notoriously unstable to be begin with. Such coding would affect crafted wraps, wraps already looted, and problematic wraps such as metal-laced ones or those with special features such as piercing.

Further, Epic Monks should gain perhaps an additional +5 Melee Power per level. This would require 20 Monk levels to receive. Otherwise you gain the usual Melee Power as all characters do.

I’m deliberately ignoring any points on the Shintao enhancements overall here. So where can the tree stand some re-tweaking to help with general unarmed damage?

What’s a Better Shintao Monk?

An improved Shintao Monk tree shouldn’t overly favor Earth Stance. In fact, it should have toggles to benefit the Shintao while in certain stances. Similar effects come from a specific item revered by Monks: the Jidz-Tet’ka bracers. You also see Monk stance effects augmented by the Grandmaster of Flowers Epic Destiny.

Now, adding stance-based augmentations shouldn’t change the focus of the Shintao’s role. She’s not a berserker like the Barbarian or a pure tanker or front-line fighter as the Paladin. I’d want to see greater adaptation of the tree against all manner of extraplanar, aberration and undead creatures. Moving over the old Tainted ki strikes and improving the levels of unarmed DR bypassing was not enough.

Some might point to the changes we got from the Tier 5 Meditation of War enhancement. From what I’ve read, this enhancement is often the most reviled, and I agree. To me, it’s a double-penalty. You already have less defense in Wind Stance, for instance. Why should Meditation of War magnify this for a poor boost to attack off-hand chance and damage? The DC boosts to tactical feats are laughable in Fire Stance as it lowers defense.

Water Stance is a natural defensive stance but Meditation of War drops damage by 10%. No wonder we never use this enhancement unless in Earth Stance, where you gain more PRR at the price of lower Dodge. It’s the lesser of many evils.

The Empty Hand Mastery enhancement should go from 1d6 to 1d10, instead of 1d8.

I would improve Touch the Void Dragon to add more STR boosts in addition to general ability scores.

The To Seek Perfection  core ability should give +4 WIS and +4 STR.

And, as there’s no Monk that has mastery of kamas, the Shintao should add an option to perfect damage with kamas.

See a pattern?

Shintao Monks determine damage by STR. WIS is needed for the Stunning DCs, sure, but because of the Monk’s need to have many ability scores somewhat balanced, we’ve never been able as players to give STR as great an emphasis as Fighters and Barbarians can do. This (and other adjustments) should reflect greater STR or Melee Power boosts to a revised Shintao tree in Heroic and Epic levels.

So, that’s it. I’d rather tweak enhancements and feats to significantly improve the Shintao’s overall damage rather than have recoding break not only the handwraps but the role of Shintaos themselves. The mechanics of the Monk are fine. To avoid breaking the game, simply tweak up the Monk granted Unarmed Strike feats and enhancements noted.

Defensively, the tree is fine. Epic Shintaos should be entering Epic Elite with no less than 150% Fortification; 200% would be optimal. Their unarmed strikes should be at 80-120 base damage per hit. Since they strike faster, this adds up quick and should offset the slower kill rate a bit over other melee classes that strike far harder.

Updating the Mystic

I loved the Henshin Mystic when it first arrived. The damage it can do with quarterstaves is extremely nasty, especially with criticals–more than the Shintao but a bit less than my Zen Archer build.

However, the Mystic lacks two critical points that must be addressed: Attack speed and defense.

I would suggest +3 untyped PRR per core enhancement, with a +10 PRR bonus by the last core. Perhaps as well, a +2 AC bonus per core. I wouldn’t also be against a new finishing move or enhancement for the tree that gives temporary Dodge or Ghostly.

Most importantly, the Mystic tree needs the same attack speed as the Thief-Acrobat, although they might reach that speed more slowly than the Acrobat. Most players tend to multiclass in Rogue just to get the Mystic’s speed up. That shouldn’t be necessary. The speed types should be anti-prerequisites as well, naturally.

One More Thing

Put back a simple Void Strike feat attack back in the game, already, for the love of God.

Ever since the initial enhancement tree introduction, no other Monk except the Mystic can use the Void Strike–and that required a ridiculous tier 5 enhancement. This completely broke the Moment of Clarity and Curse of the Void finishers, which require a Void attack.

Just make it a feat so that any class can add in a 1 to 6 damage attack that also reactivates those finishers when they are eligible in the normal leveling.

I hope the developers do not consider changing handwraps to weapons. This can be a disastrous decision because the coding for all types, including crafted ones, will kill the class until functionality is restored. I’m normally not particularly one to go “d00m!!1” about things, but I’ve been around the game long enough to see how even the slightest change in handwraps often screw up things in a very bad way.

Handwrap code is stable. Just boost the features of feats and update a few key enhancements in the Shintao and Mystic trees for versatility, speed, and defense.

Touch the Ninja Spy tree and I will be unhappy. It’s perfect as it is.

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