The Little Mountain v. Garamol

Just when I thought that I’d learned almost all I needed about Monks, I find myself surprised twice in the same week. The first moment came when Lynncletica stood up to the Judge.

The next came after a moment of study, starting with this DDO forum thread from one enterprising player, who admits that his character(s) are “not yet uber.” (Who really is “uber”, really? There’s always something in the game that will easily kick your ass in a one-on-one fight if you get too cocky.)

The subject: The Icy Raiment robes I’ve noted time and again.

One of my toons has a pair, and those on her first and only run with a PuG through the Subterrane and to Garamol’s lair.

The goal: Get to Garamol, kill him (eventually), loot chest.

Your party: Just you, whoever you are.

The player maps out the quick way to find which of three portals in the Sub will lead to Garamol without steering you into a mob of smashing, spell-casting giant skeletons or highly destructive living Meteor Storm spells. He has a great plan that generally works right up to falling down the long column to Garamol himself, a level 23 badass that’s meant to challenge an entire raid party (did we mention that the Sub itself is a raid wilderness area?).

So I consider this (insane) idea of a solo “Icy Run”. Lynncletica needs a pair, definitely. Would she be able to survive long enough to find the right portal? Well, once anyone gets past the one living spell that follows you at the very start, the meteor swarm, it’s a matter of steering it into the very first skellies you fight (two by a door must be killed to unlock its lever).

The Road to Garamol

For a light Monk like Lynn, armed with a L12 pair of Wraps of Endless Light, I pace myself to build up ki, spamming Fists of Light to heal myself and hurt the undead (sadly, this giant skellies are in a type of planar existance like Shavarath and cannot be disrupted). I alternate between Fire and Mountain Stance as ki and defense needs warrant.

So, I manage to comfortably survive my way to a portal leading to Garamol. It’s one of three portals. If the closest portal isn’t it, you’ll have a second option, also guarded by skeletons, and a third, guarded by a beholder and some flensers/flayers. Again, not much of a challenge to a light Monk.

In The Hall of the Giant Skeleton King

What the poster didn’t note as well were the traps that lined the upper level of the cylindrical lair of Garamol. Fire, Acid, Electric, Sonic activate as you fall…and they are raid level nasty. There are rune circles you can run through to avoid setting off some of the traps, but you can’t avoid them all.

I bolt down a Greater Ardor II potion for emergency healing amplification and chug Cure Serious Potions before I hand. I prefer to fall slowly become I’m too lazy to try to turn off the bugged Perfect Slow Fall and pull off my Cannith Boots of Propulsion. My saves are generally fine, but I typically lose half my HP as I dodge the traps. Your mileage may vary.

Lynn makes it to the bottom. She happens to find herself away from the gold. She expects a crapload of skeletons as Syncletica experienced, but only Garamol is about. He charges. It’s just Lynn and Garamol, mano a mano.

Fine with me. I switch to Ultimate Mountain Stance, check my Wraps of Endless Light and take him on.

The battle is long, but I’m restricting my elemental punches, using only my Fists of Light (light damage with 1d50 light damage on critical, vampiric healing shield) to kick his butt slowly but surely, occasionally hitting a 100 as he absorbs what would be a disrupting vorpal. For every 40-50 HP he sucks from me, I pump back 60-90 HP from Healing Ki (more if I keep my Greater Ardor buff running). Garamol also kicks more ki into me if he does strike me, which I convert back into HP and light attacks.

After about 4 minutes, the Little Mountain stood defiant. The damage reduction of my stance kept me well in the game.

And if I remembered how to post a picture here, I’d show the result. You can guess. Garamol was a broken pile of bones.

I get to the chest. No Icys. When at first you don’t succeed, kill, kill again. I made 4 more runs that night, two with a guildmate (where we learned that more in your party is not necessarily better).

Surviving Garamol: Observations

Now, here’s some tips for those of you playing at home.

  1. DO NOT LAND ON THE GOLD below. If you do, you’ll spawn several giant skeleton mages, fighters and archers, ghosts, and still get Garamol bearing down on you. Looking down as you fall, you’ll see the stairs form up. Treat that as “12:00.” At “3:00” is a small rock formation. Aim for it and land there (and if you are party of a larger party, try to get everyone there). Do that, and odds are that only Garamol, maybe 1 other skellie, and maybe 1 ghost will attack you throughout your entire attempt.
  2. DO NOT JUMP. This is really hard for me as a Monk. Take a jump and Garamol may reverse gravity on you, sending you up, up and into the traps above. That’s bad.
  3. Stay close to the wall, with your back to it or close to it. Garamol often strikes you in an attempt to knock you down. If you have good Balance, you’ll be knocked back but stay on your feet. But if he knocks you back into the gold, your fight will get a bit more complicated.
  4. Use your best defensive posture as you fight. Mitigating damage to yourself is actually secondary to damaging Garamol, to a point. Note Lynn’s example. Else, Garamol will finish you faster than you can finish him, even against your most effective weapons and spells.
  5. Healing amplification is necessary. Garamol will hit you often and repeatedly, and if he has friends, they will drain you fast. There is no shrine, no safe place, no escape except recalling and death. Your resources MUST outlast Garamol. Use Greater Ardor and Potency/Devotion items. Have a Monk throw an Aligning the Heavens SP reduction buff to conserve spell points.
  6. STAY OFF THE GOLD AFTER KILLING GARAMOL. It will still spawn many nasties. Your only goal is to get to his chests. Carefully run from 3:00 to 12:00, up the stairs and to your reward, which hopefully includes the Icy Raiment.
  7. A party will likely trigger all the nasties, but will always be more likely to survive. Running this thing solo is part self-gratification but also desperation. It’s not required to do it this way.

Lynn took to the lair again the next day. Still no Icys, but she did score a Mace of Smiting and the coveted Tira’s Splendor rune arm. Too bad that I rolled up two Chaotic Good Artificers and have no Clerics at present. Oh, well.

“Who Will Kite the Judge?”

I’ve been busy in preparing my Strength-based light Monk, Lynncletica, to take over the reins as my level 20 melee fighter with Syncletica’s TR scheduled for Easter (an appropriate time than any, don’t you think?). Lynn received her Void Strike IV and capped in the last week, a fully capable Grandmaster of Mountains, but not tested in any Epic as yet.

Lynn was still short two of her flagging quests for the Tower of Despair. Fellow guildies that I would love to invite were scarce that day (blame NCAA March Madness, I think) so, desperate to Get ‘Er Done, I studied the two quests left to do: “Bastion of Power” and “A New Invasion.” I brought in Heystack the Cleric hireling for emergencies and parked him in passive mode at the start of “Invasion” and got to work, carefully at first.

I’ve generated quite an affinity for Syncletica, my main toon, a Dexterity-based light Monk and a Grandmaster of Wind. She’s now well-geared and very dangerous, so I’m hardly hesitant in sending her solo through all but a very few non-Epic places in the game . But Lynncletica has a history of venturing where archons fear to tread, and taking more damage to boot. But, now a Grandmaster with her capstone of DR 10/Epic, enought had changed in Lynn’s durability to put her Grandmaster training to a full test–but not insanely. I entered both quests on Casual just to get them flagged.

Alone in the Bowels of Amrath

In both quests, Lynn alternated between Fire Stance to generate ki and held in Mountain Stance for damage and defense. The swarms of orthons, devils and tieflings were quite manageable; only the air elementals posed a challenge if they joined up with mobs. They’d either push Lynn away or, worse, knock her down. Fortunately, elementals are Outsiders, so, once I noted their fight pattern, a quick Tomb of Jade strike froze the blowhards solid, whereby I pummeled the things into nothingness.

Came the time for the end-fight. As vets of this quest know, you fall into a circular room. Everything is trapped, specifically a series of platforms that surround the deadly interior. In addition to a small mob of devils is Barnzidu, one really honked-off pit fiend. Your challenge in killing him involves the healing curses that the fiend throws in combination with the platforms that release a deadly explosion if anything (players, hirelings, soulstones) stand on the platform longer than a few seconds.

But Lynn was durable enough (thanks to playing Casual). Her Evasion, combined with her ability to remove her own curses, made the fight generally easy. It’s like what Dory said, in a fashion. “Just keep running…just keep running…”

The “Bastion” run was more challenging because of the recurring spawns and the confusing layout. By the time I found myself to the end-boss, my ship buffs were completely gone. Taking out the fiend there wasn’t too hard (sadly, I couldn’t use his reverse gravity to get the switches to the third chest). The maralith arrived and I began to pummel it, focusing too hard on its hit points and not on my own. Ding.

Luckily, the maralith had only a handful of hit points, and I had a Spirit Cake from the 6th DDO Birthday. Exactly two punches later, it was over. Sadly, no special loot from either of these quests, but at least Lynn was flagged for Tower of Despair.

The Little Mountain Must Stand

A day or so later, I found a PuG for Tower that was filling fast. The leader was nice and cordial but often his verbal requests were often ignored; maybe only he, myself and one other cared to use voice chat. One good sport teleported me to the ToD entrance (thanks!) else you have to run there (a NPC at the entrance will allow you direct teleport to the entrance in the future once you speak to him).

The party leader asks for someone to kite the Judge, a massive orthon, in part 1 of our fight. No one responds. He asks a second time before I do the unthinkable. I normally do not see Monks as decent kiters as they do not generate enough aggro to keep the monster focused on them. Kiting also has its risks in getting the full wrath and damage when fighting a boss alone.

“I’ll kite the Judge,” I say, with no small amount of trepidation. This time, I wouldn’t be running on Casual. It was a raid, on Normal. It was Lynn’s most definitive build test to date: Would she be able to keep the Judge busy and live?

The party falls inside the lair. Death at this stage is similar to Part 4 of The Shroud. Should you die here, the Jailer will teleport you and your soulstone into a jail where resurrection is impossible until after both he and the Judge are dead. If too many people die here, the raid will wipe. The area is filled with undisarmable traps amidst narrow platforms, all surrounded by Shararath lava (far more damaging per second than regular lava). A few fire elementals and hellhounds stir up the works as well.

The bulk of the party charges the Jailer. I kick into Fire stance, make a beeline to the Judge and strike him a few times to build up ki before changing to Mountain Stance. In this Ultimate stance, I generate 70% more threat but also gain more damage resistance.

It worked. The orthon becomes very ticked at me and doggedly chased my butt all over the area, ignoring everyone else.

Both Jailer and Judge also perform a maneuver that flings the party away en masse, where you have to re-engage and pray you aren’t tossed into a trap or lava. Monks don’t fly but we glide very, very well, so I am able to re-engage the Judge quickly. One Cleric was kind and wise enough to stick close to me and throw me a few heals when my own Healing Ki was insufficient to the damage received.

Lynn was tenacious and as durable as I hoped her build would be. She pounded the orthon mercilessly, taking relatively little damage when confronting the Judge head-on (his pea-shooter is nasty if he targets you from a distance). Even with criticals, Lynn wasn’t going to lower the orthon’s hit points; they were far too numerous for her to make a sizable dent against him.

But Mountain Stance IV training (combined with Epic DR) had paid off. Lynncletica stood as solidly as a little mountain, holding the orthon’s attention long enough for the Jailer to meet his end before the party turned to end the Judge together.

In hindsight, I should’ve switched to my Vampiric Stonedust Wraps for extra healing and possible stoneskins on myself for more protection, but it all worked well enough.

The remaining raid went off without a hitch. For loot, Lynncletica received the best item she could get that wasn’t a ring: Oremi’s Necklace. Now she needn’t switch to Fire Stance for ki as often.

So now, Lynncletica needs to continue beefing up her WIS and DEX for a bit more AC (Syncletica holds at 51 unbuffed). Her next target: the Icy Raiment. She’s been running solo attempts at Garamol for those, but perhaps I’ll get a few guildies’ attention to help.

Looks like Lynn will be a fine successor to Syn as time passes.

Shameless Boast: My First 20th Shroud

My stalwart level 20 Light Monk, Syncletica, completed her 20th Shroud yesterday in the company of her guildies on Tyrs Paladium. It was a textbook run, with only a slight misstep in Part 2. Despite a really ugly-looking monster selection there (kobald, fire elemental, troll and lion), we finished it well,  zipped through part 3 in under 5 minutes and nearly took down ‘Arry in our first swing at him.

Just one death in Part 4, although not from the dreaded Shroud Blades. As promised, the devs did nerf them down a bit so that they do not strike as often, yet still persist long enough to keep you on your toes. ‘Arry, on the other hand, was still as mean as ever with flying meteor strikes. One, combined with lag, took out 1 guildmate, but the party smacked ‘Arry forward to part 5, which threatened to become a little uglier at the very end.

Four guildmates died as ‘Arry was less than 10%. Up to this point I had continued to experiment with Syn’s handwraps to determine the better damage output against ‘Arry. Syncletica is a Shintao III (natural Silver DR) wearing a Holy-Bursted Kyosho’s Ring (Good DR), so all that was left was to add on some sauce to that pit fiend’s goose. The answer came with some handwraps I’d tried off and on but could never quite love, until now: the Unstable Handwraps. Thanks to an Artificer in the party, they received Shocking weapon damage. Combined with Silver/Good DR, Mountain Stance III as well as a Greater Bold Trinket for Shocking Blow criticals, I gave it everything  I had, watching many purple numbers rise from the boss from the electrical attacks as well as the Outsider bane, spamming Void Strike IV and Earth strikes with Healing Ki later as our clerics began to go into damage control. Our guild persevered once more, plowing  ‘Arry down.

So, finally, I have the final piece of the puzzle to Syncletica’s Riddle: How can you have maximum HP, saves, fortification and damage while keeping blindness, deathblock and many other essentials also in place? That piece is an Essence of Cleansing from my end-game loot list, tucked comfortably amidst several +2 tomes and one tempting +3 DEX tome. Now I can soon wear my Triple-Immunity Deathblock Goggles in tandem with my +45 HP cloak, allowing permanent use of the Icy Raiment robes for the best all-around numbers I can think of grabbing for now.

The only thing I have left to consider are my bracers. While the Jidz-Tet’ka bracers are still great situationally, an epic version would add a touch more AC. But epic runs through “The Tide Turns” will be slow in coming as my guildmates with Monks make their way upward in levels.

As soon as I find a charitable guild that will let me borrow their ship’s Altar of Devastation for some quick crafting, I’ll have Syncletica about as powered up as I can make her in this, her first life.

Thanks to everyone in my guild and all my fellow players in PUGs that helped me out in any and all ways possible!