Death Blossom Incarnate: The Grandmaster of Flowers

Ever since the Menace of the Underdark expansion came out, I have been obsessed in exploring what it meant for the Monk class (what a surprise). With Syncletica doddering at 19, Lynncletica, my Grandmaster of Earth light Monk, has been getting a workout.

MoTU’s Epic Destinies, if you’ve been living under a dungeon lately, are impressive enhancements that allow you to greatly augment your toon’s abilities, especially now that the whole of the Demonweb and Faerun Drow are quite able to kick you in places you didn’t know you had.

Being the “Monk blog,” let’s get into the Epic Destiny called “Grandmaster of Flowers.”

Level 1: Channel Your Inner Dragonball Z Fighter

The coolest part of this destiny for non-Monks is that it seems designed for Monk splashes or characters that could enjoy a bit of Monkliness. If you are a non-Monk, you gain Monk abilities (no Evasion, however), including ki and natural unarmed fighting (although you don’t gain the Monk’s innate unarmed damage level). For Monks, you get to greatly augment your protections and offensive abilities.

The tree of Grandmaster of Flowers is comparatively flexible than some other Destiny trees. In other words, you need only spend points to get certain abilities and (with the exception of the lowest rung) need not take many prerequisites in a chain to qualify for a later boost.

You start by getting Inner Focus. Passively, it grants you a ki bar and fills it based on your level, as well as some Spell Resistance. A level 20 then would get 60 ki and 6 SR for this. Actively, it’s an instant ki boost, giving you 25- 125 ki immediately with a 3 minute cooldown. Handy. Your new Level 1 ability isn’t much to write home about. Centered Mind is a Monkly counterpart to Slippery Mind to help save against enchantments (as if your insane Spell Resistance isn’t helping here. Lynncletica started to show 34 SP by this time).

The first tier grants abilities to improve attacks, dodge and tumble. But one item caught my eye and pulled it from its socket.

True ranged attacks using ki alone. That starts with the innocently-named Lily Petal. For 10 ki, you fling a ball of Magic at a foe. If they fail their Reflex save, they take 300+ damage. A saving Reflex gives them half damage. Evasive foes such as archers can avoid damage altogether.

Lily Petal alone changed the dynamics of the Monk’s game, where ranged attacks were their weakest. As much as I have crafted shurikens to increase their damage, it’s time-consuming to use them to destroy something you can’t jump to, even if you have Bursted weaponry that goes off every so often while in Earth stance. Most foes are not immune to Magic, so Lily Petal adds a quick way to attack effectively and at a safe distance.

That’s good. Because I recently ran into a Green Dragon that should really keep his distance.

Each tier also gives you an opportunity to improve on your Wisdom or Dexterity ability stats with 2 destiny points (their name for “action points” gained with Epic Destiny ranking). A great option for those who need a +3 tome and can’t find one, ’cause that’s what this is!

Level 2 and 3: More Kamehame Hadoken and Stance Improvements

Level 2’s new ability is probably the handiest of all: Wholeness of Spirit is effectively the Cleric’s Unyielding Sovereignity. Every 5 minutes, you can use 30 ki to remove any and all negative levels, cast a Heal spell and remove any other afflictions. That’s awesome; negative levels are a bane. Your new Level 3 ability is very useful. The Abiding Path now makes you immune to slippery surfaces.

Level 2 also adds enhancements that Wind Stance Monks can enjoy. Running With Wind improves electrical resistances and adds to your doublestrike ability while in Wind Stance. The Hail of Blows enhancement adds more doublestriking (although it’s not clear if these are stacking, it seems probable that it does since Wind Stance is all about doublestrikes). You need to spend 3 destiny points here to move on to Level 3.

But at Level 3, Lily Petal just got out-moded by Orchid Blossom. Same as Lily Petal in effect but now hits many targets. It uses twice as much ki, however, at 20, than Lily, and has a 12 second cooldown over Lily’s 6 second. Yeah, I still spam the two nicely in fights.

Tier 3 offers greater dodge defenses while in Water Stance using Walking With Waves, as well as more innate cold resistance and better AC. Non-Monks or splashes can get Feather Fall/Perfect Slow Fall with a point in Light As A Feather–pure Monks can skip this one entirely. There’s also Perfection of Body to improve your Fortitude saves.

Level 4 and 5: I Ain’t ‘Fraid of No Ghost, or Mobs

Your new Level 4 ability is a nice tactical advantage. Ubiquity now allows you to Tumble through an enemy to flank them and continue fighting. This is a great tactic against foes that like to knock you down or hit harder than most as you can move about in Muhammad Ali “stick-and-move” style.

Level 5’s final ability is Balance In All Things. You are now immune to knockdown, get another +1 to ki regeneration (awesome) and get a +1 DC to your tactical feats.

Level 4 adds happiness to Lynncletica’s defenses in Earth Stance. Standing With Stone adds acid resistance, more HP and, in Earth Stance, adds +5 to your Physical Resistance Rating. For a ‘swishy,’ more PRR deflects damage and is very welcome. You can take this (and similar stance-based enhancements) up to three times. Level 4 also offers Piercing Clarity: Ethereal attacks are innate for you; no more Ghost Touch or other gear required,  and a second helping of this allows you to penetrate as if you had True Seeing.

The next ki attack has become my new lead-off, rather than Stunning Fist. Orchid Blossom gets out-moded by Drifting Lotus. For 25 ki, your Monk slams down their fist, and anything that fails their Reflex save gets knocked down for 3 seconds and takes 300+ ki magic damage. It’s got a 15 second cooldown, so combining this with an Orchid Blossom means many mobs have lost half their hit points (or more) before you’ve landed one blow against them. A second Drifting Lotus is often the end of the entire mob. Watch out for Evasive toons as they can sometimes save against it.

At Level 5 and 20 points spent you unlock your next to last ki attack, which is now more a defense. A Scattering of Petals gives you 25% dodge for 12 seconds and blinds your attackers if they fail their Fortitude save.

Epic Moment: Everything is Nothing

I had to save this one for last.

Every Epic Destiny gets an Epic Moment: A special attack or defense that can put your character into god-mode invincibility for a little while.

In the case of the Grandmaster of Flowers, it’s undoubtedly the most powerful attack a Monk can have. While I like the Buddhist-leaning name of Everything Is Nothing (as it is also quite descriptive), the devs missed out on keeping their floral naming scheme down.

Everything is Nothing should be called Death Blossom. It takes 2 destiny points to get it. Here’s what you need to do to use it.

Begin using Stunning Fist, Quivering Palm, Lily Petal, Orchid Blossom, Drifting Lotus and Scattering of Petals. Each time you use it, the “Perfect Peace” counter (which is shown in your buff bar) counts upward. When that counter reaches 25, you’ll see a mild luminous blast from your body (which harms nothing)–that’s your cue that Everything Is Nothing is charged. You’ll also see a “1” in the ability in your toolbar.

Now, just like Alex and Grig in the (still-cool looking) Gunstar fighter in The Last Starfighter, don’t use EiN until you need it most or if you are going through a zone transition (doors, quests), which will reset the counter.

Now, gather the mobs. Get everyone’s attention. Make them hate you like disco fanatics who crashed your mosh pit.

Overwhelmed now? Good. Activate it.

I also have another nickname for EiN: Void Strike IV, Mass. Any foe that fails it’s saving throw is ejected from the multiverse (complete with the familiar purple-glow of a Voided enemy). If the enemies do save, well, they’re still hosed. They’re paralyzed for 6 seconds–before they take 1,000 points of damage, less if they save on Fortitude. Red-named bosses can’t be ejected or paralyzed but still can take damage.

The only thing I don’t know yet is how large the radius of the voiding effect is. I’ve pondered entering Kobold Assault to gather up as many of the little varmints around me to see how big that field casts.

Yeah, kobolds will definitely hate me. As a race. Genocidally.