Strike harder, strike swiftly, strike far away

My friendship with the folks in the monastery down the way sometimes makes my skin itch. But I’ve gleaned a few tidbits from my friends there despite their abhorrence to a good bow, blade or armor.

The abbot there, Syncletica, and I had talked about the power of healing during battle. I rightly told her that I have spells and potions to do this, and that my distance while fighting keeps most of the enemies at bay anyway.

“But it is the quality of your healing that matters, Pyn,” she replied. “If you gain more from each healing you receive, you will be able to hunt longer.”

I couldn’t argue with that. I reviewed my healing balms and herbs, and improved on them a bit, completing the strongest training I could do there.

I told Syn that I hadn’t done as much adventuring until recently. Something lacked badly in my fighting, having to bring in more mercenaries to take point for me than I would care to have. I made a mistake in confiding in a few fighters about this in a pub last week.

“That’s because you use a stupid bow!” one said. “You can’t hit fast or hard with that thing!”

“And yet, you have an iron plate where a part of your skull should be, and have three teeth to your name,” I said.

“I’ll have you know that the Nail makes some really great soup!” was all he could say.

One archer there did make a note about something that I pondered after leaving that night: “Items you equip that can stack with ranged damage might be of help.”

I already imbue my arrows, of course, and switch out bows…but is there more? I would love to seek out more arrows per strike but many tell me that items that may aid in this is folly…the ingredients are just too rare, or the adventure is not suited for the solo ranger in the field to find the items.

I brought this point up to Syncletica over a few cups of rather potent sake. She excused herself for a moment and then brought over a wrapped box.

“This I found during a fight against the Taken. It’s–it’s rather hideous, really. But perhaps you will find use of it.”

She was right…this Bow, made of sinew and gutstrings from the unspeakably nasty creatures in the plane of Xoriat…it’s really horrific to see. On holding it, I thought I was going to puke…the thing still felt a bit wet and slimy.

But when I conjured up an arrow and fired it at a distant tree in Syn’s dojo…the arrow hit the hardwood…and sailed through it.

“That’s…that’s some bow,” I said.

Syn naturally gave it to me without further discussion. She also suggested that items that improve my likelihood to strike as critically as I did against that tree might be of aid.

She lent me something to help there when I’m not using the Bow of Sinew: A Blood Stone.

So I’m a little wiser and doing more adventuring. I can strike from very far away–that’s always been a benefit. But now, I critically strike more often and with far greater damage than before. Two or three critical arrow strikes against a denizen of Shavarath lurking about in the Vale of Twilight has been all too common with my improvements to seeker techniques, as well as combined use of the Wind Howler Bracers, the Sora Kell items, and the Vulkoor’s Cunning set that adds death to fatally-damaging strikes. Imbuing with slaying arrows yields devastating results more often, as well.

So yeah–I don’t make as much damage per second as others…but over distance, I make sufficient damage that fells more enemies more often before I can see their eyes.

Now to remember when NOT to shoot…I’ve been improving my tendency to swiftly pick and fire immediately at targets, but doing that in raids against swarms of evil will likely get me killed (again). I hate resurrection. I can’t eat for days after getting one.

The Blessings of Healing Amp

After reconfiguring Syncletica’s enhancements to take Human Improved and Monk Improved Recovery III, while in GM Wind Stance, Syn pulls an average 75 HP from Healing Ki, an easy increase from 40-60 before the changes. In Fire Stance this spikes to 80-90. I don’t think I’m even wearing any Potency items as I normally do when I watched these numbers, so I’ll go back to test later to see if they influence things, as well as with Ardor potions.

But it’s when Clerics heal me that tickled me very pleasantly lately. In a recent successful elite run in Running with the Devils, a Cleric heal smacked me with a 200+ burst. I’m not sure if Cleric’s empower is stacking with my amplifications, but there it is.

The adjustments were a Good Thing that should be noticeable in later Shroud runs and raids. Muchos gratias to the many on the boards that learn this and pass on the knowledge.

End-Game Monk Gear

The forum boards have a bit on what the well-fashioned Monk should strive to wear by the time they reach their capstone, yet much of the information is older and misses out on changes in recent DDO updates.

Well, I’m going to bring us a little more up to date.

Syncletica is my capped light Shintao monk. She already has these special gear items that are epic-level or can be upgraded:

*Oremi’s Necklace: CON +6, Enhanced Ki +1. This is an awesome way to generate ki rapidly, especially in Fire stance.
*Epic Brawling Gloves (Tier 3): Adds piercing damage, adds an extra chance to stun, sneak damage, STR+7, two augment slots. What’s not to like, except…
*Spectral Gloves: DEX+5, Attack +2, Ethereal. I immediately switch to these from the Brawling Gloves when ghosts and dream creatures appear. Epic version adds more to DEX and attack, with a yellow augment slot.
* The Blood Stone: Leading additional crits is paramount. At the rate that you will hit, the odds of crits are very good. A Blood Stone makes this all the more likely. Now, add a Blood Stone to a Monk in Earth Stance III or IV and you have a destroyer: Your handwraps/weapons will go to x3 to x5 crits (thanks Update 9!). If I can get this upgraded, so much the better.

The items that Syn would trade half of her guildies over to the devils for include:

*Shintao Cord and Kyosho’s Ring: The necklace gives CON+6 and Concentration +15, and the ring WIS+6 and Enhanced DEX +1. Together, they give not just an exceptional +2 to To-Hit and to damage rolls but the ultimate DR busting reward. If you are Shintao Monk III, your unarmed attacks bust Good or Evil DR. That means that you can stack damage, foregoing Pure Good/Righteous wraps for extra damage on your prefix and suffix. Can you say “+3 Stunning Burst Handwraps of Greater Outsider Bane” to Harry in the Shroud? Yes, yes you can. And, most importantly, the ring’s Incredible Potential can be unlocked to add elemental bursts that work on unarmed damage. A Holy Burst ring–oh, my.
*Oremi’s Ring: A nice match to my necklace. This ring can also be crafted. When both items are worn, there’s 1d6 fire damage in every hit. A worthy option except against iron golems and most devils.
*A Greensteel Cloak tier 2, +45 HP, DEX, Stoneskin 2x, eventually Chain Lightning. As soon I’m certain that the strange issues with tier 3 crafting are done and gone, a Shroud run or two might give me the last ingredients needed to craft this one last time. (Remember that GS handwraps don’t exist–that’s the benefit of working on the rings from the Tower of Despair (ToD) raid (see below).

So, what’s missing?

Well, anything that adds the following is a bonus:

* Healing amplification. Syn just rearranged her enhancements for both Human and Monk Improved Recovery III. The effects on her Healing Ki bursts is very encouraging.
* Greater False Life/hitpoints/Toughness. Syn sits at 387-407 HP, even after I had to drop a Racial Toughness level or two. I have a GFL and a Heavy Fort belt at present. When not wearing the Garments of Equilibrium, I put on the Icy Raiment for better saves and AC, which lacks HF.
* Unstable Handwraps: So the bug in handwraps of non-lawful alignment which can be wielded without a negative level is now officially a working-as-intended matter with these babies. Too bad you can’t add anything more to these, but they should make Amrath runs a real treat for Shintao Monks or those with unlocked ToD rings.

What you should farm for as you make your way upward:

* Sacred Helm: Deathblock on your head means never having to take off your Icys or Garments of E. I still keep my Deathblock Outfits of (Elemental) Resistance but, with higher saves, this is less of an issue. It’s companion ring, worn together, may add 30% healing amp, but I have yet to confirm this.
* Metal-studded handwraps. These sometimes drop in the Devil’s Assault quest. If you’re lucky, a Pure Good prefix might be found on them to satisfy the Ninja Spy dark monk’s desperate need for DR punching handwraps that Shintao Monks don’t have to work for.

More to come as I chew through new information.

Licking our wounds too often

It was late afternoon when a few of my acolytes carried in Lynncletica from the field. She was pretty ravaged, with bruises and sores and more than a few punctures. And yet, the only thing I saw on her that was really off-putting was Lynn’s smile.

“It was…stimulating,” she said to me, several bandages and a cup of tea later. “I could attack very powerfully in the stance of the Mountain. There is much potential there, teacher.”

“I can hear that ‘But’ in your voice, student,” I said.

“Yes. But my defenses seem lower than I wish.”

We talked a little more before I sent her away, limping to bed.

I know of what Lynn speaks through understanding her school of training. As a monk that chooses to fight with strength rather than finesse (as I do), she loses on the protections that the extra dexterity provides to her apparent armor. If she is to be more successful, not just to self-protection but to gain more off-hand attacks as she grows, she must increase her dexterity skill for both armor and more ability to fight two-handed.

Meanwhile, I contemplate a change of my own after several battles where I could not heal myself fast enough. I have long studied the mysteries of amplifying healing power. I’ve normally worn a devotional item, and use the Bracers of Jidz-Tek’ra while in Fire stance. Yet, is this enough?

I no longer believe so. A fellow monk noted to me that Human and Monk healing improvements do stack as they are separate sources. I have generally not trained my human enhancements. I may take a day to realign myself to this, dismiss the teachings of transport if required so that my primary abilities are geared more to healing energy results than the speed of generating healing bursts.

Keeping potions of ardor may be handy as well. There are whispers of other tokens that may yet expand ki’s healing potential.

I do not question my ability to teach new acolytes, but perhaps I should always consider that a master has never truly mastered everything.