Invaders! A Video Walkthrough

Current Score: Ninja 3, Beholders: 0.

Current Score: Ninja 3, Beholders: 0.

Sorry for the 2-week+ timing between posts. Per my guild rules, real life comes first. Work, as well as a family illness, has made the past weeks pretty tough to post anything of significance.

I’m surprised I’ve not made a video walkthrough of one of the most challenging Heroic quests in the game. That’s probably because it’s a bat-shit crazy idea for any class to complete, much less complete by going solo.

But if they were any character that could make it work in my dojo, it’s Kiricletica, built to solo from the start.

Invaders!” is a revisit to the central Waterworks sewer system (minus the hidden doors, rare encounters and usual denizens). A Xoriat invasion occurs there, cutting off paths through the sewers, scaring the crap out of the kobolds and, most distressingly, causing many, many beholders to appear.

Flesh Renders and Polar-Ray zapping Ice Flensers routinely spawn from portals throughout the place. Beholders aren’t isolated, often guarded by Xoriat followers, Cyclonic-blasting Thaarak Hounds and more beholders.

Your mission is to clean out the place of everything that shouldn’t be there, of course, primarily the beholders.


  1. This is a place where a grouped party may not be the best idea. A beholder’s antimagic cone will likely render some in your party defenseless and debuffed before it starts zapping with various things. Enervation. Disintegrate. Telekinesis. It will try to paralyze, curse, burn and instantly kill you. A group will draw a lot of attention, so as a result, the beholder’s effects may not allow you to back each other up as you’re disabled and picked off.
  2. Death Ward is mostly useless here because the first thing a beholder will do is use its antimagic cone to zap you of any buffs (outside of Monk, Bard and airship buffs, which can’t be dispelled). You MUST wear a Deathblock item to have some protection against Finger of Death and a few other instant-kill spells. Deathblock isn’t a panacea but it will buy you time. Pale Masters might find it a bit easier.
  3. If the beholders aren’t scary enough, the respawning Ice Flensers love Polar Ray, which can hit at 100-200+ damage. There’s also the hordes of Thaarak Hounds that enjoy mass hits of Cyclonic Blast at 70+ points each, as well as some instant-death and acid attacks.
  4. Most parties will trod along drawing attention from anything that moves, often near respawn points. Invisibility spells are useless against beholders and many other enemies here as they have True Seeing or See Invisibility. Antimagic effects will debuff them off of you, anyway.
  5. To increase the randomness, there are many Chaos Orbs circulating about, sometimes bringing you benefit or bane at exactly the wrong time.
  6. There is only one rest and resurrection shrine.
  7. Party members with low saves, little or no spell protection or Deathblock will not last long. Especially vulnerable are party members with a HULK SMASH zerging mentality. They may get lucky and nail a few threatening things, but eventually they’ll be in the wrong place and be zapped themselves or attract more attention that a party can handle.
  8. You have to pass a lot of enemies, including several beholders, to reach each of the elder beholders that hold open a locus used for invasion.
  9. Enemies do not easily “rubberband” here (return to their spawn point if kited too far). If you’re being chased, expect the chase to buy you time, not escape.


  1. It’s not impossible for magic party members to fight here against beholders, but it’s central that another party member draw the beholder’s attention first, preferably far away from the spell caster so they won’t get hit by an antimagic cone. From there, spell casters can treat beholders to a taste of their own medicine with instant-death spells, Flesh-to-Stone or related attacks.
  2. Ranged attacks against beholders here can be both hit and miss, so to speak. If your ranged attack can draw one beholder away from a group of them, you reduce the amount of potential damage or deaths in your party. If your ranged attacks throw off area-of-effect damage, you’ll draw all the enemies in that group to you.
  3. Attacks that stun or paralyze help a lot. For all their magic damage, beholders have the fortitude of a balloon. If you get the jump on them, removing them is comparably easy.
  4. This quest supports the power of high stealth, if you use it properly. (Invisibility will not work.)  Sewer passageways are narrow. Ice Flensers use Hide. You need a strong Spot to detect them, or at least avoid colliding into them. Some enemies may detect you while Sneaking, such as Thaarak Hounds, so you may need to draw them away to avoid fighting more than need to at any moment. Beholders have 360-degree Spot, but with a high Hide score, you can move to point-blank range and pop them. However, Thaarak Hounds have blindsense, which stealth can’t defeat. Their Cyclonic Blasts in a group of hounds can whittle your HP immediately and/or knock you down. Dispatch them promptly.
  5. Spell absorption items will buy you time. I carried a Scarab of Spell Absorption but didn’t use it as wisely as I should.
  6. Champions that appear really throw the dungeon’s power against you. Prioritize their demise over all others.
  7. The final fight is your only named creature, which can be one of several encounters. It’ll likely have a final entourage of similar enemies guarding it. Before you can fight it, you must remove all the elder beholders.
  8. The optional killing of outsiders objective is almost inevitable to complete. Portals throughout continually spawn enemies you can kill.

Sewer Cleaning from Hell

Kiricletica was loaded with Heal and Restoration scrolls. Alone, she leveraged high passive ki regeneration and used Quivering Palm to rid herself quickly of some targets. Sometimes with a Tiefling Assassin’s Blade in hand, she used its Wounding powers to make sure that Pain Touch finishers stick against beholders, muting them and making them harmless for a quick finish. Most fights, however, used a Metalline of Pure Good shortsword or a Forester’s Brush Hook. I used Pain Touch and Quivering Palm as much as possible.

Fast ki regeneration helps in frequent use of Shadow Veil for both Incorporeality and Invisibility for times where fighting or evasive action is better.

The hardest part for me involves the respawning renders, especially the deadly Polar Rays from the Flensers. Hounds are also challenging since they can sense me no matter what. They loved to spam Cyclonic Blast. In a group of three or move, those attacks would all but kill me.

I entered two levels higher than the quest. Still, I tried and failed this quest three times early, often downed by hounds, before managing a completion on Elite…and even then, I had to use a raise-dead cake when I moved into a fight before failing to preparing even once, just before the end-fight.

But I did get it done. See the results.

Be sure to click the “CC” button to see the captions. My apologies for the dimness; I’ve already adjusted it to improve it slightly and will do so again later.

The Best of Both Worlds


Leveling felt like it took forever, but Ryncletica the Poisonmaster is back in Epic.

Epic melee combat always requires a different strategy. Like Rogue Assassins, Epic Ninja Spies thrive on opportunity, and try to generate as many opportunities as possible.

What’s surprised me are the many opportunities a Ninja Spy has available.

Healing Up and Epic Destinies

Like Szyncletica the star-thrower, Ryncletica is a Drow and needed better battle healing. The popularly trained Rejuvenation Cocoon was the simple answer, attained at level 24.

Most of you know how grinding through Epic Destinies to unlock access to each one can be a bit daunting. Thankfully, experience with my first mature Zen Archer showed me that the rewards were well worth it. (This isn’t news for many of you. I’m just slow, so I apologize. I’m more likely to enjoy playing than grinding for continuous growth, typically.)

When Ryn last TR’ed, I was rather selfish in leaving a destiny because the benefits felt safe. Shadowdancer was like that for Ryncletica. I felt safer in it and did not see how other destinies outside of Grandmaster of Flowers would synergize as well as with my Ninja Spy. But, now, after playing through several with the Zen Archer (a ninja at heart), I’ve seen the light and rededicated Szyn and Ryn to complete as many destinies as necessary to get commonly useful abilities and improve the character’s overall efficiency.

Again, I apologize for being dense about this sort of thing until recently. Like enhancement trees, you shouldn’t overlook benefits in other destinies, even it it takes time to develop them. And best to take advantage of first-life XP to build these up faster than in later lives.

So Legendary Dreadnought right now ultimately provides some HP and melee power, but I don’t find myself doing much with the boosts. I’m appreciating the critical hit and threat boosts, and I’m sure to enjoy Master’s Blitz for boss fights.

It’s when I trained up Shiradi that Ryn showed a different side of herself. Ryn is a light version of Shuricannon 1.0 because she is Drow, lacking only the ranged feat bonuses and a bit less DEX. But, with a Celestia in hand, Ryn can tear through monsters almost as well with her stars as her swords. Ryn’s behaving more like a Ranger than a Monk in this regard; capable of equally powerful melee or ranged fighting if the need arises.

I’ll let you know more about other destinies as I level them to open up more fate slots if I see a need.

As for healing amplification, I need that, too. Neither Drow nor Ninja Spy offer any inherent healing amp. I’m using a herolic Shamanic Fetish for some boosts to it right now, but if I can improve it with some points to my Healing skill with an augment, I’ll add it. The Purple Dragon Gauntlets are an easy option but it takes away my Melee Alacrity I appreciate from my Fabricator’s Gauntlets. But then, I could use a crafted Trinket of Melee Alacrity and use the PDK Gauntlets to see if its healing amp works better than Devotion spell power.

Weapons (or: How I Own Drow with Level 4 Shortswords)

With the capstone enhancement, Ninja Master, I will often Vorpal with my shortswords.

But I understand how some feel that there aren’t really powerful shortswords for Epic play.

I’m realizing this isn’t as much of a problem for a Ninja Spy that uses their innate skills.

I have a couple of Epic Elemental Fury swords for level 26, and two Thunder-Forged Shortswords in use now. Both TF swords have Rubies of the Endless Night, but they aren’t as effective to me as I would like against some things, and I’d likely swap those out for some Good augment gems.

I also want my Poisoning powers at maximum. One weapon can improve that, with some extra grinding in one quest.

That’s “Spinner of Shadows.” The goal is to find two Shards of the Envenomed Blade. I’ve got one Seal and two Scrolls so far. Once I can upgrade two, they will become my stronger Epic “go-to” weapon against most non-demon enemies that are susceptible to Poison damage. The Epic Envenomed Blade has a decent 2(W)+6 base damage boost and a higher Enhancement damage. The Enervation feature will match that I’ve added to the weaken Tiefling blades in the form of Rubies of the Endless Night. The upgrade gains me Red augment slots where I can improve their DR, likely with Good gems.

I recall Evennote’s post of some time back of her frustration in grinding for a Shard for her Silver Slinger. I believe she did eventually get one to drop later in repeated runs in “The Spinner of Shadows”. That was back in 2013, before a recent update that defined the chances of Shards and Seals drop rate at 5% at Epic Normal to 15% on Epic Elite. Of course, running in a party should stack those odds through the number in the party. A guildmate’s expressed interest, too, in running “Spinner” often enough to find it, so, with chest ransack rules also factoring in, a larger party is best.

One thing I won’t look forward to handling are the Hezrous. Hezrou demons suck. I’d rather stick-and-move against Karas, especially with Ninja Poison DoTs, even in EE. But Shards for the whole chain drop only in the Epic Chest of “Spinner.”

I thought to improve my Hezroubuster skills. Most Spinner hunting parties die because they split up too much. Herzous easily whomp solo adventurers without a plan. Staying together saves resources. And the blue spiders weren’t going anywhere.

So, before I had the TF swords, and with a little research, I make some Hezroubusting shortswords.

I had to test out those +5 Axiomatic Burst Flametouched Iron Shortswords of Chaotic Outside Bane in an Epic Normal run in “Spinner,” but not before double-checking some notes on controlling the Spinner. Seems I was overdoing the pinning process. After pinning her well in rounds 1 and 2, I had several minutes to run around with my two hirelings to gather crystals.

And then came the hezrous and renders. I charged in, the new swords butchering them. I shoved in what dark finishers would work against them sometimes (Pain Touch) but mostly it was a DPS thrashing of any hezrous that got too close. Being in Grandmaster of Flowers helped; I have a few more bits of XP to fill that destiny before returning to Legendary Dreadnought.

The battle over, but no shards of any kind. ‘Tis sad. But I lived. As soon as I can build up a bit more power and gain a party, it’s back to the Khyber salt mines.

But for Ryncletica, the simple things remain ridiculously effective in many places.

I entered an Epic Hard “House of Broken Blades,” armed myself with only my Tiefling Assassin’s Blades and laid waste to that place.

The key (as always) isn’t in the base weapon damage but in several other aspects:

  • Poison damage from the blades combined with Ninja Poison
  • The 15-20 critical threat range, now turned to 13-20 with Ninja Master and Improved Critical
  • Higher damage with high (though not highest) DEX
  • Tthe Ninja Spy’s various abilities to make enemies helpless.

I mixed up stealth using the hirelings to lure enemies close, or sneaked up to enemies and smacked them with Freezing the Lifeblood over and over. Any Drow that met me, including Orange-named and nasty Champions, dropped very quickly as the full power of the tiefling sword carved their HP with a few strikes. Even the bosses hated me with the critical hits (and boosts to critical damage from LD) that whittled them down.

And if they’re too dangerous to constantly swat? A Snowstar damages as well as melee blades. I’m working on finding a Dawnbringer.

Advanced Armor and other Gear

I’m using the Way of the Sun Soul set and have an unlocked Spider-Spun Caparison for later.

I investigated the benefits of the Shadow Dragonscale armors to see if an outfit would be a benefit. My Poisonmaster relies on effects that wound (weakening CON and therefore Fortitude to make dark finishers stick) deliver Poison (magnified by my Ninja Poison debuffing) and bypass fortification. Doesn’t look like those outfits will help, outside of 130% fortification that would relieve me of wearing two items and not one to get my fortification to 175% or better.

Higher Doublestrike would be preferable, too. Having 20 to 25% based Doublestrike would be ideal when I’m not spamming Shadow Double for a 6-second 100% Doublestrike burst. I don’t see that happening unless I do Epic TRs.

Sometimes, with some Netherese or even a pirate gets you down, a ninja needs to dance.

Sometimes, with some Netherese or even a pirate gets you down, a ninja needs to dance.

Not many choices to boost attack speed. It may not be a bad thing to consider grinding for an Epic Jorgundal’s Collar (Level 25) with its 15% alacrity.

Fitting in improved epic fortification (150%) is critical for melee fighting, far more than my ranged work with Mericletica. I have Brace for Impact already for 40% and can use the combined Fabricator’s set for another 25% but at the cost of the Sun Soul effects and some stat benefits. I want 200% but I’m functional enough at 150%, with a few rings and cloaks to boost things as I need them.

Champions are still a pain, and Ryn has it harder at times. I tried her first EE with my usual hireling duo (Albus the Favored Soul and my Onyx Panther) in EE “Bargain of Blood.” Hobgoblins were more initially resistant to Freezing without weakening them more in some way. When a Champion came out, he turned my party into an unappealing goo.


I completed two Shavarath quests to get my Yugoloth potions, and have a few other stacking potions to get DEX and WIS briefly to 46. That seems low but consider how the poisonmaster needs that balance. I’m favoring WIS since a helpless-inducing finisher allows the Ninja Spy enhancements to tear up anything, reducing the need for higher DEX.

Like any other melee fighter, Ninja Spies don’t like crowds. But one Flash Bang or a Diversion dummy and I’m so much vapor to regroup. I still don’t like aberrations and demons. I do better against the living humanoid types.

That said, I want a standing 44 WIS and 40 DEX through any means I can. I may retool Grandmaster of Flowers to a higher WIS than DEX to help with the critical finishers.

Because Ryncletica is all over the map with her abilities, it’s going to harder to pin down her build for the Monk guide’s build section. But maybe that’s a good thing. That variation might let you try different things without straying too far from the build’s inherent function.

It’s a harder melee build to play, for sure. Stealth simply avoids immediate death. Yet it’s not her EDs or powerful weapons that make Ryn enjoyable. It’s her innate skills as a Monk that make her more than just another light fighter. To anyone that claims that finishing moves are useless, Ryn (and Kiricletica before her) put such claims to the question. 

I Hate The #@*#%@! Netherese!

The Monk class is the strongest anti-mage class in the game.

You Shar-loving, magic missile throwing motherf_____!

You Shar-loving, magic missile throwing motherf_____!!!

But Ryncletica the Poisonmaster was striking out last night against a few Netherese Wizards in a Heroic Hard run of “End of the Road” in the High Road quest chain.

Both starts were stupidly easy. Against squishy humans, Ryncletica’s attacks with an Envenomed Blade and Tiefling Assassin’s Blade or Vampiric Fury Shortsword dice up people quite well.

Then my little party approaches the multiple spell ward line and at least two enemy wizards. Despite some initial beatdowns with the blades to weaken their fortitude and hit them with a Freezing the Lifeblood paralysis or a Quivering Palm kill, the bastards stayed up.

The first one, a Champion, hurled a buttload of likely maximized magic missiles into me before I realized it, sending me to Dolurrh. Fine, fine. I will be more prepared next time.

The second one that clocked me wasn’t a champion at all but maneuvered himself into the spell wards line, making it nigh-impossible to hurt him sufficiently before he whipped off a Disintegrate or something and I was looking at my soulstone again.

I was fuming. My guild master, normally the one that makes sailors blush when she’s having a bad character day, was amused at how my calm was completely damaged.

I abandoned the attempt and joined up with the guild master’s party for a more successful and comparatively relaxing runs through Gianthold with Kiricletica.

Some Tips about the Netherese

Just wanted to give a few suggestions, no matter if you’re Heroic or Epic, for what it’s worth. After all, I’m a soulstone here.

  • Always wear Deathblock and use Death Ward, especially against Champions. Often Netherese mages hit you with Dispel Magic before unleashing a series of nasty things.
  • Carry a Shield clicky. Magic Missiles are extremely dangerous in the hands of these guys. Look at the picture.
  • Kill them quickly. Screw anything else around you. Netherese mages aren’t support, they’re the central attacker in many quests, and for good reason. Fight magic with magic. Blast them with Finger of Death, send in your Assassins and Shintao Monks.
  • If you’re not a high-level Monk or Drow, wear items with Spell Resistance and Evasion if possible. These things will help you shrug off commonly problematic non-damaging attacks that may debuff you.
  • Disable them. Paralysis will be hard to land on these guys, so don’t rely on it. Try stunning, knockdowns, bashing, DoTs, Bard spells–just get these guys unable to cast, if only briefly.

My monastic calm totally left me. I wish there were a quest option where we could reprogram the flying glacier from “What Goes Up” to send it towards Netheril to drop that big magical-plutonium ball of mythallar on their city. And let one adventurer ride it back yelling, “Yippie-ki-yay, motherf____!!! Magic-missile THIS, you c___suckers!”

Monastic Arts in the Sleeping Dust

Despite the increased fighting in upper Heroic level quests where Ryncletica the Poisonmaster is a bit challenged, a few quests allow her to express her ninja arts in ways few other classes can manage. One of them is “Let Sleeping Dust Lie.”

A quest that’s surely the bane of zergers and slaughter-lovers, your mission is to find a couple of journals that explain an attempt by some enemies to release a Lord of Dust. To do this, the enemy has brainwashed a Crimson Foot spider hive that happens to live there. The challenge is to avoid killing any spiders for a chest, and to avoid killing more than 4 spiders once you’ve read the first journal.

As you know from your own gameplay, that’s difficult, especially in a full party. So, of all the Shroud flagging quests, this one tends to have a solo-friendly element, especially for a Ninja Spy.

Spiders sense stealth, so one technique of the Ninja Spy is worthless there. But there are several other tools in Ryn’s arsenal.

First, she pulls out her Snowstar. While her DEX is less than Szyncletica the star-throwing Shuricannon, Ryn is also Drow. Like Szyn, she gained Shuriken Expertise and Ninja Spy’s Advanced Ninja Training to a greater chance to throw additional stars per attack. Combined with Xen’drik Weapon Training enhancements from the Drow tree, Ryn’s stars and shortswords do excellent damage. She’s able to shoot down the orc puppeteers from a distance to avoid the melee’s and mage’s challenge in this quest: Avoiding off-hand or area-of-effect damage that could kill a spider.

The second central tool requires preparation: Quivering Palm, the assassinating ki strike that removed most of the ogre mages before they could disappear and recharge or dispatch isolated puppeteers. It’s a lot of ki to use that strike, but passive ki regeneration helps.

So, often one clears out the tunnels as you search for the first journal. My guild tends to leave the journal alone once found until all the tunnels are emptied. Once you touch the first journal, your 4-kill limit on spiders activates.

After killing off the first ogre mage that possesses a key that opens interior doors leading to the upper levels, Ryncletica chose a different path.


Despite any adjustments made by the devs in past updates to make the rocky debris impossible to climb, jumping still works if you have the right inclination. The diagram shows how I did it. Standing on a single torch near the center north passage allows a small foothold to a small ledge, where one Abundant Step lands you atop a rocky outcrop to the east. From there, with Feather Fall and another Abundant Step, you land atop another outcropping on a central pillar to the south. The last jump takes you east again where you try to grab an edge of the upper level.

Note I said “grab,” not land. You won’t find a place atop the rocky outcrop to stand if you miss. You have to catch the ledge or land atop. You need the maximum Jump possible, an comparatively easy matter for a Monk with a pair of Jidz-Tet’ka, and a Potion of Jumping +10. The Jidz-Tet’ka in Wind Stance gives a +10 Insight bonus to Jump, stacking with any Enhancement bonuses and skill points. The second requirement is an long-jump ability. The Cannith Boots of Propulsion won’t work as you’ll need to jump three times. That still leaves a growing number of non-Monks that can pull this off:

  1. Wind Dance, an Air Savant Sorcerer’s enhancement
  2. Vault, a Thief-Acrobat enhancement
  3. Leap of Faith, a Favored Soul ability
  4. Flyby Attack, a Draconic Incarnation epic ability

You’ll still need a good Jump, and can’t be wearing armor or items that weigh you down.

Once you’re up here, if you’re lucky, you can find the second journal next to you, which is where I found it in this case. It spawns here or by the shrine across the way on other ledge.

You won’t be able to explore or move through very much up there without the first key. The DDO Wiki article noted that reading the second journal before the first is possible.

Your Playstyle is not My Playstyle

You either attracted attention, or were left behind to attract more attention. Ow.

You either attracted attention, or were left behind to attract more attention. Ow.

As you might’ve gleaned from my last post, I’ve gotten a few more gripes about the lack of Improved Precise Shot on my Zen Archer that I was in the mood to handle.

But after speaking with some friends, I realized it was more of an opportunity for me to discuss why I play more conservatively than more players than I realized. 

Let me ask you several questions based on my observations over the years. Just make a mental note if you answered “yes” or “no” to each. The questions are in no particular order or emphasis.

  1. After your party buffs, do you surge ahead into a pile of enemies?
  2. Do you tend to attack first, no matter what your class?
  3. Do you tend to use builds that emphasize very high DPS?
  4. Are your builds primarily multiclassed?
  5. Do you tend to always just surge ahead and fight, and not worry about generating dungeon alert?
  6. Have you ever made a character that has a Move Silently or Hide score greater than 20?
  7. If you play a Monk, do you think the finishing moves are too complex or useless?
  8. If you play a mage, do you tend to use your spells without worrying about attracting attention?
  9. If you play a ranged character, do you use Improved Precise Shot at all times?
  10. If you play a Rogue Assassin, do you complain how your Assassinate doesn’t work?

If you answered “yes” to most of these, you really shouldn’t be reading my blog.

Aggro Means Aggression

DDO is designed to kill you. If you carelessly approach a group of enemies without a plan of attack, death is sure to come. Sure, you could be a veteran player of many years and even memorized the location and appearance of monsters. That doesn’t change the conditions of the quest, especially if you have party members that aren’t strong enough yet in experience (player or character) or have sufficient firepower or protections to survive.

There are two type of aggro-magnets I know. One kind is the player that simply isn’t watching the mechanics carefully enough. They may be new to the game or very experienced. They often try a special attack and, next thing you know, they forget a critical mechanic and cry out “Help!” moments before others hear a “ding!”

The second are the zerging, all-knowing, high-speed players that measure XP per hour. They know many quests by heart, set up quest and raids with “know it” in their description, and blast forward. They often can dish out the damage and maximize every single ability and have the best of the best gear. Sometimes they’re often completionist-lovers.

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with either situation–except when you claim that the way you play is the only way to play and become intolerant to any other ideas.

You Don’t Need to be Perfect at Everything

DDO’s D&D roots mean that some classes will be superior to others at a given thing. You can make a high-DPS fighter with UMD and good Search and Spot but you will eventually meet a challenge you cannot do alone. Many Epic quests now laugh at your True Seeing, requiring a fully functioning Rogue or Artificer to find that door. Your high DPS is useless in part 3 of The Shroud. You will get very, very bloody in many quests if you simply fight without thinking.

What’s “thinking?”

  1. Pulling enemies. You break up a large group and pick them off one by one. Even if you do this only a little, it makes your eventual charge less rigorous. This is the Zen Archer’s job. In a party, I remain stationary, targeting enemies that are being kited or that are targeting others in a party. 
  2. Turning off Improved Precise Shot. Unless you are certain that you can kill all eighteen of the orcs you just hit at once, you’re not only endangering the quest but party members. And even if you can kill off all of those orcs, you’re showing off and being a kill hog. No one wants “leet” players in party because they’re an assassin of joy of whatever you find likeable in a quest’s storyline, including party esprit de corps. The Zen Archer can’t do its job with IPS.
  3. Remembering that you’re in a freaking party. Share the fame. Let people read the story, speak to the NPCs, even grab a collectible. Do some optionals. Do something wacky like letting the Rogue scout, and not leaving the newbie Sorcerer behind as dungeon fodder.

I’m really digressing from my central point. Fighting is what DDO is about. I’m not arguing that. I question how some of you think that what others get out of DDO (or any game) must be the same as what you get out of the game, else, you’re patently convinced that others “aren’t doing it right.”

I am not advocating that any player should make a stealth character, or play only single-classed characters and love it. Nor am I suggesting that you should rip out feats and skills and enhancements that please you and work for your character.

I’m simply telling you to stop your proselytizing about how important you think a skill or feat or enhancement may be. Many players, me included, come to learn and realize what’s cool or useful by experience, not by somebody sauntering into a forum thread to drop in their sage knowledge in clipped, 3rd grade English. In that sense, my blog and the Monk and stealth guides might be filled with “Captain Obvious” information to you. That’s fine. There’s other places you can go to find what you need.

It’s clear I’m not tranquil here. It’s because players that become too godly in their minds just aggro me.

I only have two builds I’ve made. They aren’t necessarily original but they are effective for me and thought it would be nice to share them. My responsibility is to communicate how to play them. Strangely, seems that other builds are more self-explanatory.

I hope your builds work for you. But if you’re going to say that feat X is a must, I’m going to consider what I know about it–and then decide for myself.

Zen Balance


I’ve been amiss in getting updates to the Zen Archer build as I finalized its Epic settings. As I might have mentioned before, it turned out to be an easy build to level up destinies while in off-destiny, once I was able to get three Fate slots opened to have Pin, A Dance of Flowers (GMoF weapon damage) and the ever-popular Rejuvenation Cocoon available no matter what destiny was in use.

I took a bit more time to train through Legendary Dreadnought, Unyielding Sentinel and Divine Crusader to get the necessary points for a tier 2 slot 2 upgrade and a tier 3 slot 1 upgrade. This allows the use of Grim Precision for extra fortification bypassing against portal gateways.

You might see where I’m going with this.


I hope to take Mericletica, the first complete Epic Zen Archer (save a few pieces of gear in the new Update 27 quests and “Haunted Halls”) into a solo Shroud run, emulating her sister, Szyncletica.

With Meri’s slower shot speed, despite her higher weapon damage and critical hits, I needed the best fortification bypass I could generate. Here’s what she’ll have going into such a run, with Grandmaster of Flowers as the active destiny.

  • Precision: 25%
  • Grim Precision: 15%
  • Piercing Clarity: 10%
  • Trapsmith’s Workshop ship buff: 5%
  • Black Dragonscale Robe’s Armor-Piercing: 10%

That’s 65% fortification bypass, which should help take down those portal gateways well enough, once I make a few tests. Aside from getting a Deconstructor augment slot to add Improved Destruction for fortification damage, I don’t have anything else to add here through training.

I’ll use my tier 1 Thunder-Forged Longbow as usual for maximum damage. If I could run the Thunderholme raids regularly, I could struggle for ingredients to get tier 2 and gain 35% Armor-Piercing on that bow for a terrific 85% bypassing.

I’m able to take down a portal in about 35 seconds without Manyshot in earlier tests, but I need to work on increasing my consistent power and attack before trying a Shroud. Raids are different, of course, so I’d have to ensure that Meri’s defenses are strongest to survive alone there.

I’ve finally updated the details finalized for using the build in my forum thread, since it wasn’t quite clear-cut as I ask you to configure the character one way for Heroic and then adjust behavior based on Epic play. It is worth it, but I can’t help you see that without more information. Thanks for your patience.

Alright, Enough with the IPS

By the way, the forum thread has had several responses, one generously kind but critical, another not so much, about the addition of Improved Precise Shot into the build.

I refuse. In fact, that the build’s gotten very very far without it, even surviving more EE attempts than Szyn has done is  proof that IPS isn’t what this build’s best at doing.

I think IPS will do nothing more than get the Zen shit-kicked out of it because of excessive aggro, and game mechanics prove this. One notes how I rely on hirelings as aggro-magnets, but this is no different than Rogues and mages hanging around with players. The Zen Archer does not lead the charge, but it certainly concludes it. I don’t build characters to be Avatars of Untold Slaughter of Millions By Themselves. That’s the monkcher. Go read about that one.

So the only conclusion I can make is that people really don’t understand that I don’t play my characters with absolute power or completion speed in mind. Like many of my characters, the Zen Archer takes its time, destroys with near-impunity depending on the quest, and walks home without a death and some loot. The Zen Archer is a ninja archer and relies on powerful surprise attacks to end enemies fast. Just as my melee ninjas don’t try to aggro the whole dungeon, I don’t do so with this archer.

Of course I’m enjoying the reversal of the game mechanics that don’t easily alert other enemies to when one of their allies is being punctured. Isn’t everyone?

So, if you think that not having IPS is crippling, add it in and see what happens. I won’t be.

This will likely be the last post on the Zen Archer for a while unless I pull off a Shroud victory with one (one chance in 3, as opposed to even-money with the Shuricannon). I need to concentrate on greater documentation for it in the Monk guide, and then set off for different things.

Now Comes the Dawn

One thing I neglected to mention in depth from the latest Update 27 content in “Trials of the Archons” is the named loot.

Like the archons themselves, the quality and amount of named gear is luminous.

But one item in DDO’s page that details the items grabbed my attention immediately.

The hunt began with the release, and part 1 of that hunt ended last night in spectacular fashion.

Tyrs Paladium, my home on the Ghallanda server, completed a Heroic run of the three new quests in Amrath earlier in the week, and then proceeded on a Epic run last night. I led a group of four able-bodied folk into the three quests, all on Epic Elite.

I’m usually pretty conservative on difficulties when in a live party. But I was in control of Szyncletica the Starwielder, Solitary Destroyer of the Shroud. My strongest offensive character.

After gathering for buffs, the very first thing I wanted to check was the CR level of the trash we needed to clear at the start of “The Archon’s Trial.”

The trash was CR 76. That’s not a typo.

Szyn behaved as a ranged tank, her Improved Precise Shot and off-hand Fiery Detonations by her off-hand Celestia easily aggroing everything in sight. Combined with her permanent Haste and attack speed from the Blinding Speed epic feat, I was able to keep the swarms from overwhelming us in most locations.

Then there were the bosses. The bebilith mid-boss was a CR 83 as was the Planetar leader end-boss. While the bebilith fell after about 5 minutes, the green-skinned Planetar was the biggest bag of HP I’ve ever encountered. Before we could concentrate our fire on her, we had to dispatch her entourage of super-deadly Lantern Archons that peppered us with Searing Light rays of 150 points of damage or more, and Devas with brutal bludgeoning attacks.


It took over 10 minutes of continuous fire and beat downs to defeat the Planetar.

Onto “Demon Assault.” That run gave our team no dramatic surprises until the end-fight. I tried to pull a few enemies at a time, keeping the team far from the lethal Shavarath blades.

Having run this quest a couple of times before, I recommended that the team fight the boss first to complete, which typically has left a gate between the boss fight and a shrine open to us. But on Epic Elite, that gate closed, and we were met by dozens of Shavarath renders of fire, frost and flesh, trapped there to fight or die.

It looked like we were about to immediately wipe as Dungeon Alert built up to Orange, but IPS came to the rescue. I circle-strafed the entire legion of renders to keep them off the main party while they chewed on the boss. That had to be one of the most intense tanking fights I’ve done in a long while. Thankfully, the spawns did stop and we completed the quest and then took on the optional meralith for a trivial chest and some additional XP.

In the last quest, “The Devil’s Details,” even the normally trivial Tiefling Marksmen were deadly as we raided a stronghold of Aaretreikos. By the end fight we chose to stay at the top of the stairs to limit what we had to fight. The Erinyes boss–so strikingly beautiful as she was deadly–was a CR 83 as well and took some time to kill. After completion we finished off what trash remained between us and our end-loot.

I didn’t see what I was looking for in my allotment, but a fellow guildmate did receive it and passed the item to me.


Behold, the Dawnbringer. The fourth named shuriken in-game and the second one to come with both Heroic and Epic versions and an augment slot. And, like all other named stars, this is a Bound-to-Account weapon.

The stats you see above reflect what the weapon does when I, as a Ninja Spy, equip it.

The day was over and I haven’t yet a chance to see what it can do. But soon, legions of evil, soon you will follow and fall to the Dawn.


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