Overshadowed

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I’ve been quite successful in playing and developing my three Light Monks.

Syncletica was the first, a Wind Stancer. Lynncletica showed the power of Mountain Stance. Quintessica showed both of them off by becoming an Avatar, a master of all four heroic Grandmaster levels as well as epic Grandmaster of Flowers.

But, sitting in the shadows of gameplay, literally and figuratively, was Ryncletica, my only Dark Monk. Perhaps this has been because she is much harder to play. She cannot self-heal as readily as her sisters. She requires her shortswords and kamas for damage reduction bypassing. Her finishing moves are primarily attacks and require far greater coordination to use. But, as Quintessica showed me, Ryn isn’t a particularly great fighter. She just reached Level 18 after nearly 1.5 years of existence.

So, as with changes to Lynncletica and to Syncletica in their second lives, and adding the martial aspects of Quintessica’s incredible build design, I’m planning to Lesser (or, if she’s 28-pt, do a Greater) Reincarnate my little dark halfling to incorporate Cleave, Great Cleave, and even Whirlwind Attack to give her greater versatility. Further, Ryn’s WIS score was dreadfully low and requires greater numbers for more successes with Stunning Fist and many of her debuffs.

As far as ability scores, this was a tough decision. I built Ryn to follow Wind Stance (as Syn originally chose). I know now that a Dark Monk may be best played in Fire Stance (ki generation and heightened damage) Ocean Stance (greater WIS, passive ki regeneration and more effective DC checks) or even Mountain Stance (better defense but risk of greater Threat generation). So Ryn will go Fire Grandmaster and consider Ocean Stance as a second choice.

The final choice may be to change Ryn’s race once she’s eligible for True Reincarnation. A halfling has naturally improved abilities for throwing, luck, AC and DEX. But a human adds extra diversity and size, as well as an extra feat she’ll need to improve her martial arts.

Thanks to Update 14, I’ll have a greater opportunity to find DR-breaking metallic handwraps to help her fight unarmed more often. In all of this, I hope not to nerf Ryn’s excellent stealth ability, which matches my acrobat Rogue, Allysen (also a victim of being overshadowed by the Monks and in need of a similar refit).

More details as the retool is readied.

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Irony: Mabar’s Definition

This Just In:

Adventurers are called in-game to defeat a massive incursion of undead…but the game itself is done from within by the same zombie apocalypse.

Now that’s some incredible coding.

Speculation is that the developers added the rogue Agent Smith to Mabar, and might have overdone it.

In any case, we’re a patient lot (most of us, anyway). Here’s hoping Mabar will return.

She’s Like the Wind

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Syncletica, my main gal, my Grandmaster of Wind Light Monk, just returned to Level 20, hopefully a little smarter from results infused from gameplay from my other Light Monks, Lynncletica (Earth Grandmaster) and Quintessica (Avatar).

I know now that moving swiftly is not always the best thing. Were I able to pit Syn against Lynn and Quin in a player-versus-player fight, Syn would come out more bloodier than her students if she weren’t careful.

Yet Syncletica is careful. Her speed can kill light- or medium-weight enemies faster than the others in some cases, provided she watches her particular gear setup. She’s blessed with a full Shintao Monk set (Shintao Cord and Kyosho’s Ring) and the ring is unlocked with Holy Burst. She owns an Oremi’s Necklace that helps in ki regeneration during attacking. She owns a Greater Bold Trinket for stacking Seeker and more electrical damage.

It’s doublestriking that makes Wind stance attractive, for you have a chance to strike more often on a target per attack. Don’t confuse with Two Weapon Fighting, where you have up to an 80% chance to strike something else in addition to your normal attack (but is still very welcome).

So now, Syncletica can doublestrike 10% of the time. There is a way to increase this chance, but it’s not easy.

You can get a brief 5% surge in doublestriking by wearing the Fabricator’s Bracers, a hard-to-find item from “Blown to Bits,” thanks to its ‘Cannith Combat Infusion’. It’s like the Madstone Effect without the nasty side-effects.

Cannith raids provide ingredients for Alchemical Handwraps that, through a couple of upgrades, give you Doublestrike 6% on top of your natural ability.

Next, there’s Running With Wind, a tier available in the most excellent Grandmaster of Flowers epic destiny. Take all three ranks in this ability and your natural doublestrike goes from 10% to 13%.

And finally, crosstraining in a Shadowdancer tier 3 epic ability can add an additional permanent 3% to doublestrike (if you can add it to your Grandmaster of Flowers as a Twist of Fate later).

So, a minimum doublestrike chance of 13/18% to 18%/22% with all kinds of back-breaking grinding, gnashing of teeth and lamentations from fellow players that grind with you?

Okay. Count me in.

UPDATE: Coyopa noted (as I feared) that Shadowdancer’s doublestrike is an innate ability and thus unable to be used as a GMoF Twist. However, if one were to train GMoF to full, then train Shadowdancer to tier 3 and then take Running With Wind as a Twist while using that ED,–then you’d get persistent 16% doublestrike. Heaven help foes if I can get Antipode, probably an easier set of wraps to attain, which also give Doublestrike 6% for a persistent total of 22%, the highest it seems you can get as a pure Monk, bursting to 27% with Cannith Combat Infusion.

Syn would be a dervish in Wind in this configuration, and I’ve set her to go on this path. (She did score her Fabricator’s Bracers a day or so ago, so she has occasional 5% doublestrike for a 15% burst from time to time. It’s fun. Next: Grave Wrappings!)

Fu, You, and the Bablith They Rode In On

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Compiling that greatly-revised Monk guide, with all the thoughts and contributions from DDO forum members, has compelled me to rethink a bit on the diversity of Monk attacks.

The “Book of Syncletica” is for beginners that guides a player interested in a Monk through building a pure character. No multiclassing. That’s not because multiclassing is bad or anything, of course–it’s just that you won’t learn all you need to know about a Monk by leeching in cross-class skills and feats that might dilute a Monk’s innate abilities.

The forum conversations I’ve had to-date have made me realize how little I know of the effect of certain granted attacks and their selected, advanced versions. While I’ve toyed with Cleave and Great Cleave on one Monk, Improved Sunder has never been on my list. My argument has been that it takes up a feat slot I will need for anything to boost attacks (such as the Two-Weapon Fighting line), critical hits (Improved Critical), or hit points (Toughness).

But a Monk is more than their handwraps. More than any one attack or feat. Certainly a Monk should be more capable of multiple attacks on multiple enemies, despite game mechanic limitations.

In short, a martial arts fighter should be able to really deal attacks from as many directions as they have limbs, and then some.

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Part of this interest comes from Quintessica, the Grandmaster of all Elements (“Avatar”) Monk. She has Whirlwind Attack that adds to her normal and ki attacks, making her a whirling dervish of destruction.

The other interest appears anytime I’m reminded of “The Burly Brawl,” the fight between Neo and multiple spawning copies of Smith, rogue agent gone viral, in the film, The Matrix Reloaded. He knows kung-fu, indeed. (In the linked scene, Neo shows us how a quarterstaff should really be used.)

You can play this scenario yourself now in the recently modified “The Weapons Shipment,” where seemingly endless waves of devils come at you.

I just sent Lynncletica (the redhead, above), “The Little Mountain” that stood up alone against Garamol many times, into her second life. I am considering how much extra special attack types I can add to her build while still keeping her a Monk tanker, just to help better with removing mobs than punching each mob member one at a time.

So the attacks in consideration are:

  • Improved Sunder (requires Sunder, Power Attack): While Destruction/Improved Destruction do this on handwraps, why wait for the handwraps when you can crack armor at level 3?
  • Improved Trip (requires Combat Expertise): Start knocking down enemies yourself for a change.
  • Cleave (requires Power Attack): 90-degree arcing attack.
  • Great Cleave (requires Cleave): 180-degree arc attack and 2x damage than Cleave.
  • Whirlwind Attack (requires Spring Attack, which needs Dodge and Mobility, and Combat Expertise, which needs 13 INT): 360-degrees of badass and 4x weapon damage.

Of these, Cleave, Great Cleave, Improved Trip and Whirlwind Attack would have a Monk fighting in a far more useful mode, as their arms and legs virtually charge in 90, 180 and 360 arcs. They wouldn’t apply more damage per second to any one foe, but would apply more damage per second to many more foes per second. That would be more martial-artsy.

I’m still considering a name for this experiment. Chuck Norris (peace and roundhouse kicks be upon him) doesn’t just kick. Neither should a Monk have one single-mode attack.

I’m sure others have experimented on this idea, so if you have, let me know. Lynncletica will be wearing more dark robes and goggles as she fights off Agents–er, I mean, devils during her training. Stay tuned.

The Book of Syncletica: My Monk Guide is now Public

Some time ago I wrote down a script to what I had planned to be an video-based strategy/build guide to the Monk class.

I only got as far as making the full script, which was a guide in and of itself. I shared a link to it from Google Docs to my guild alone for a time until, somehow, it leaked out into Google itself.

Many guildies (and a few non-guildies) appreciated that they had something to go on for the fundementals and to polish up their end-game. The guide doesn’t contain any startling revelations for those of you who play them happily now. It’s designed for players who have been interested in the Monk class, tried and gave up, or are brand-new to it.

So, with Google Docs being a poor place to host the guide, as well as the formatting limits for illustrations and links, I made a Google web site that can permanently host it and allow me to make updates as required.

The first version of the Book of Syncletica (the name plays on Scriptural naming; Syncletica is my first Monk and main) is now up and ready at https://sites.google.com/site/bookofsyn. You’ll also find the link at the top of this blog in the Links tab.

I spent a while retooling everything, but have yet to make substantial updates for the Epic Levels section when it comes to gear and a better breakdown on Grandmaster of Flowers epic destiny. (My family just completed a massive move to a new home and so I have been very busy and very, very tired.)

“The Old Master” segments you’ll find there allow me to break out of teaching mode and keep the L33t players that think they know everything about the game from hosing themselves by creating Monks that have worthless or near-worthless abilities because the player built them using non-Monk techniques.

Over time, the guide will have greater illustrations and detail as time allows. I linked to DDO Wiki heavily as (1) I edit there a lot and much of what I say already exists there and (2) DDO Wiki will update quickly with changes and corrections in case my guide information is not accurate as it could be.

Do enjoy, pass the link on to others you know if they need a hand.