Monk AC and Update 14: Oh, Boy

So, I’m all excited and enjoying the changes of Update 14 and the Menace of the Underdark. As a Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2 player, old things were made new again.

What first amazed me was how Armor Class was revised–specifically, how Monks fared from it.

I’ve always said that a Monk’s defenses come primarily from their saves. With this update, I stand more justified by that notion.

While the traditional numbers for AC and its related kinds haven’t changed, how your AC benefits you as a direct consequence of specific attacks is made more clear. Dodge becomes a percentage of evading attack. Your AC calculates into a percentage of avoiding any attack. I’m still trying to make sense of all this, but my guildies and I experienced how incredibly significant these changes have become with one of the new quests in Eveningstar: “The Riddle.

I completed this level 19 quest on Hard with Lynncletica (the Little Mountain Monk) and Klin the hireling cleric without much difficulty (surely due to dungeon scaling in part) before I joined my Tyrs Paladium guildmates to a run there recently, and to an entirely different experience.

I volunteered as guide, having done it so recently that I still had the quest mapped out in my client. Our full party included a Favored Soul, a couple of Fighters, a Cleric, a Bard as well as Yours Truly. Two of us were level 16 or so, the rest were level 20s with no small experience in handling difficult quests. We lacked a spellcaster, which we’d regret later.

This quest began auspiciously. Will-o-Wisps and a nastier version of the Red Fens’s Vine trolls whittled nastily on the team throughout. While the Wisps through chain lightning and zapped most of the party, the Vine Terrors threw Spike Growth, eating away at the party’s health rapidly.

Everyone except me. The new calculations of Dodge and AC had increased my unbuffed AC from 53 or so to 63. With normal ship and party buffs, Lynncletica sat at 75 until our buffs began to fade. It took much time for me to whittle down the Vine monsters but my Thaarak Wraps delivered deadly Force damage to take down the Wisps. My Improved Evasion saved me from almost all of the damage from these attacks. Earth Stance got an adjustment in calculating damage reduction, which surely helped my survival.

Not that I was the savior of the party or anything. We had to think and move carefully, especially as we encountered hags that spawned Animated Armor minions endlessly until we killed the crones. The multitude of Shrines (awesome new look for Forgotten Realms!) barely kept us going. Things went from bad to worse for everyone after our buffs faded. The end-fight was nasty as destroying the last hag would cause us to nearly wipe twice. I finally took one hit too many and died a couple of times but our party gathered what little we had left to finish off the bad guys. We did complete, with very respectable XP, but the quest reward was incredibly bad–I think we experienced a nasty loot bug that today’s hotfix hopefully repaired.

But, wow, Lynncletica waded through lightning bolts and spikes like it weren’t no thang. I get the feeling that Dodge items will become a new ticket item. The Epic Destinies that add Evasion abilities may also be quite popular.

I’m generally very impressed with the new content, but I’m very interested in how Lynncletica has become that much more durable. More on this as the game mechanics become clear.