Quests You Think You Can’t Sneak Through

Been having a ball with my ninja Ryncletica (as noted recently) by using her crazy-awesome stealth abilities to complete some of the harder quests that encourage stealth, like “Spies in the House,” “Claw of Vulkoor” and “Blockade Buster.”

I touched on my desire to use stealth through as many quests as I can in the entire game. With my desire to get her Shadowdancer powers working quickly, I’m doing more of the Epic versions of some quests for experience.

Three quests caught my eye, and I found time to complete two of them.

Epic Normal “Haywire Foundry” (L21).

This place is loaded with Warforged mobs who are more than ready to slay you. If the mobs don’t find you, the many trapped areas will target you.

For some quests, I’ll summon Luna, an epic Favored Soul hireling, and park her at the quest start, using her only in the most extreme emergencies (which, thankfully, I haven’t had to do). For Epic “Haywire,” however, I knew that one specific trap would be the biggest obstacle. Rather than the healbot, I summoned an epic Rogue for later use.

Entering, I kicked on Water Walking and Abundant Step over the lava to bypass the annoying elementals that greet you as you enter the cave. Inside the complex, RC2 went down easily to smiters. Now came the real test with mobs I had to eliminate since I had to use the Speaking Stone there to open the paths ahead. Turned out that they weren’t too harsh with my usual Concealment, Incorporeality and Dodge going.

Removing two more guards opened the way to the trapped spiral ramp to switch #1. I brought in the Rogue. He was able to evade the traps as he walked up to disable the boxes, so I’m sure I would have done the same–I just liked the Ingenious Debilitation bonus since I still had the super-trap on switch #2 for later. I parked him at the top of the ramp, then ordered him to quietly unlock the door to more mobs and switch #1. Dutifully, the Rogue did so and ran back to his parking spot without attracting attention. My turn.

Mobs were grouped up enough initially to easily bypass. I didn’t open the gate to the shrine; I wouldn’t need it if I did things right, and I would attract the mob’s attention if I did. The only challenge in this room were 3 guards in front of the stairs up to the walkway to the switch. Taking a cue from “Claw of Vulkoor,” I threw a shuriken at a nearby wall. The guards sprinted at the sound to investigate, moving out of the stair path. I had to Step fast past a mage that was too close to sneak by without him spotting me, even stealthed and invisible.

With Switch #1 done, boxes began to explode around me, with more berserk Warforged. Didn’t matter to me. I left the area, just as undetected as before. One down, two switches to go.

After the Rogue removed the newly activated trap at the ramp top, I headed back downstairs, summoned the Rogue again to remove the trap from the first of two trap pits. The Rogue got the attention of two guards, which wasn’t a problem.

The path to switch #2 was more challenging. Two sets of mobs, filled with high-Spot archers and dangerous Wizards that will fill you full of magic-missile-sized holes. I was able to evade the first mob, passed over the second trap pit and over its pipes, but the second patrol was a bit too dense.

On my first run through this quest, I eventually had to fight this group since opening the door would make me visible. But I’ve been taking more cues from all the martial arts movies, other classes, and even Batman, always-prepared, master of theatricality and subterfuge. For run 2, I used a Solid Fog clicky while stealthed, right next to the door in the switch #2 room. The Fog hid me! I opened the door, leaving that patrol unaware.

Switch #2 was like the first in terms of ignoring the mob, bu there was one challenge. To get to the upper level where switch #2 resides, you need to jump up to a set of crates, avoid the attention of a mage guarding the ramp up to him, and then jump up and over to pipes that lead to the second switch.

Well, I’m a level 2 Shadowdancer now. Time to try out a new ability. Shadow Training II allows full movement and jump for 30 seconds while you are stealthed. This was an awesome ability! Still in Sneak mode, I’m up on the crates. I assassinate the guard with Quivering Palm, go back to stealth and jump up, hauling it over the pipes to the upper walkway. I took a moment to try to find the Bloodrage Symbiont in the little container before dispatching the three guards on the final steps to switch #2.

Anyone that’s done “Haywire” before, on any difficulty, knows that this trap is a killer, even for evasives. I called in the Rogue to disable the two boxes there, pulled the switch, re-parked the Rogue, and left the area. Two down, one to go.

In the final circular hallway to the puzzle room and the golems sit a formidable group of iron defenders. This was probably the toughest part because they hit hard as a group and smiting them seemed harder. After letting the dogs out, I got greedy and brought in the Rogue for the two traps inside the hidden shrine room, but after a Wholeness of Body recharge of HP, had no need to shrine.

I left the Rogue to keep the ooze’s attention while completing the puzzle to get the key. The golems are rarely too problematic if you can attract and dispatch the three adamantine defenders first. Makes me consider making Metalline Handwraps of full Vampirism for stubborn constructs that can’t be smited, someday.

Switch #3 awaited me, after a chest to loot. I perma-parked the Rogue (“Dude! You’re on your own!”), hit the switch and took off. It took me only 2 minutes to make it to Haywire as I switched on Stealth Training II again, moving at full speed, invisible and stealthy, leaving the mobs of iron defender packs alone along the way.

Haywire opens the door and welcomes me. Total time: About 25 minutes. About 32,000 XP for my trouble, along with an Epic and regular chest.

Now it was time for something more challenging.

Epic Normal “Jungles of Khyber”  (Level 22)

Yes, I know I’m insane.

Ignored the trolls via stealth in the mini-quest leading to the entrance, save the soothsayers that had to die to open the quest up.

This time, I had Luna the epic FvS hireling ready and parked. Epic beholders in this area are nothing to sneeze at. I had no self-delusions on having to fight a bit more on this quest.

Sneaking success varied. One or two doors activated patrols and forced a fight, but most did not. The few traps were little to worry about with my evasion and saves. Most of the Drow were simply unable to see me.

The only thing I worried about, first, were the beholders in the large cave. The normal ones took their shots at me with negative levels. I returned these in kind with my Grave Wrappings and stunned them back to Xoriat. The boss beholder took a bit more convincing. After a soothing Greater Restoration from Luna, I found the three runes to open the path forward.

I took a moment to kill off the optional mage and his golem pal on the hard-to-jump-to upper cavern for a quick chest before the Fight that Everyone Remembers Here, ahead and below. Three mobs come to greet you over the waterfall. I had to bring in Luna to aid me here, with my Grandmaster of Flowers abilities disabled that would give more offensive abilities.

With the main mobs gone, it was time for the three red-names. I tried to get only the fighter’s attention, but in waltzed the beholder. Fine. I b*slapped him with everything I had with only a few negative levels to show for it. The two others dropped just as fast.

It was time for the Marut. Out came my pair of Anarchic handwraps. (I should have used my Unstable Handwraps but I wasn’t thinking.)

Just in case, I added a distracting Xoriat plaything using my Shard of Xoriat and my Onyx Panther. Surprisingly, that Marut was too easy to kill. He stunned me once but my saves were too high for his usual beatdowns to be as effective.

“You gained 44,000 XP.” Devious Bonus as well.

Yeah, I’m crazy.

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Kunoichi: Shadowmaster Ninja Spy

Can you find the ninja in the screenshot? There’s always a ninja near you. You just can’t see them–just like these poor guys.

Of all of my Monks, Ryncletica, my halfling Dark Monk, has leveled the slowest. In fact, she’s been around for nearly as long as Syncletica, since I joined the game in mid-2010.

But this has turned out to be a good thing. I know a few other Dark Monks, but many of these play them with little to none of the shadowy benefits and abilities found in their one Prestige Enhancement, the Ninja Spy. While DDO gameplay doesn’t fully promote a role-play aspect, I’ve found it easy to always think *NINJA* while running Ryn through her paces.

With most of her Grandmaster of Flowers abilities learned, Ryncletica has greater offensive abilities. Yet she rarely uses them nowandays. She’s a better spy. She can kill effectively enough, but for many quests, most enemies don’t even know she’s been in their lair, looting their things, killing their bosses. You can’t believe how much time this saves in completing any quest.

The Epic Ninja

One problem I had with Ryn on occasion involves DDO’s tendency to make quests that seem as if they cannot be completed as well by the use of infiltration: Avoid enemies, eliminate only required enemies to complete. Frankly speaking, Ryn couldn’t enter many quests early in her life without a lot of life support: healbots, specifically. Combined with her weaker ability to heal herself in combat than Light Monks, Ryn (and I, while learning Dark Monk mechanics) had to take her time a bit more as she moved through her latter Heroic levels. No longer.

Level 23 Ryncletica has been going at it completely solo through several Epic Normal and Heroic Elite adventures, completing adventures such as:

  • Epic Normal “The Claw of Vulkoor”: Not a single scorpion except one guardian (dang it!) ever knew I was there. Massive XP from this.
  • “Blockade Buster”: Since door entry doesn’t break stealth or invisibility in this quest, I was able to complete the entire quest without killing any orcs or gnolls. Many kobolds died to bring you this information, however.
  • Epic Normal “Spies in the House”: This lone counter-spy waltzed past almost all of the spies, killed off a boss, and has raided the Epic chest over three times now.
  • Epic Normal “The Tide Turns”: No, this isn’t a stealth mission. I did it, anyway. I moved through mobs without detected, killed only what I had to kill, and could have cared less about the epic-level hallway traps that annihilate other parties in this quest.

You might be asking how I’m managing this. Well, let’s review Ryn’s training.

rynvulkoor1

  • Her base Hide/Move Silently numbers are around 48. Buffed and using other abilities and gear such as the Drow Piwafwi, she sits around 60. Even in bright light, Ryn is rarely detected.
  • Shadow Fade, a Ninja Spy enhancement, uses 10 ki for 1 minute of invisibility and 25% incorporeality (better than Ghostly). If I have to fight, the invisibility stops but the incorporeality stays for a better defense.
  • A Level 16 Cloak of Night from the Mabar Festival gives Ryn a 10% concealment and needed Deathblock for the occasional surprise.
  • Grandmaster of Oceans training, plus Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, other Ninja Spy and class additions, along with Dodge bonuses from Grandmaster of Flowers give Ryn a permanent, unbuffed 24% Dodge. I can max it by wearing a pair of Tharaak Bracelets. Combined with Improved Evasion and the higher saves of Ocean Stance and ED bonuses, Ryncletica’s overall saves sit between 40 and 48.
  • Ninja Spy training allows faster movement while stealthed. With good Striding boots on (Cannith Boots of Propulsion are used), she moves very fast.
  • The magic comes from using Abundant Step while stealthed at ground level. Technically, she’s not walking. She floats at high speed past traps and mobs, attracting no attention and moving faster than the traps can activate, if they do at all.

Blacker than Black:

The Kunoichi, the Shadowdancer Ninja Spy

It’s not often that I use GMoF abilities during infiltration. Most are offensive skills. So, given that it’s taken long enough for Ryn to come this far–why not continue to improve her infiltration skills?

Just because I’ve enjoyed the heck out of the role-play I can do with Ryn here, I did a little walking of my virtual fingers through the Wikipedia to find information on what Westerners call the “Ninja.” Like many things from China, we non-Oriental folks tend to use Anglicized pronunciations of things. The word origin/modern Chinese pronunciation for “ninja” is really shinobi or shinobi-no-mono, meaning “to steal away” or “to forebear.” Mono means “to hide,” so the name has a rich meaning.

I’m training Ryncletica into a kunoichi–a master female ninja. I’ll begin training her in Shadowdancer skills that will allow many more abilities that keep her safe, more undetectable and elusive.

There’s some overlap with Ninja-Monk abilities and Shadowdancer, but quite a few will be highly useful.

  • Shadow Training II: Innate active ability that allows full movement and jump while stealthed for 30 seconds. Hells, yeah.
  • Shadow Training IV: Innate active ability for Dimension Door 5 times per rest. Talk about a disappearing ninja…! I considered going Drow for the dragonmarked version. When Ryn reincarnates, I can go Half-Elf instead (for Cleric dilettante healing).
  • Stealthy: Tier 1. MOAR stealthy-points.
  • Escape Notice: Tier 2. Use Hide skill points as Diplomacy. “You don’t need to look over at me. (hand wave)”
  • Lithe: Tier 2. More to reflex saves and perhaps AC.
  • Meld into Darkness: Tier 3. Emergency 100% Dodge bonus for up to 15 seconds.
  • Grim Precision: Tier 3. Bypass up to 15% enemy fortification and up to 3% of their Dodge.
  • Improved Invisibility: Tier 4. It’s like “Super Shadow Fade.” Invisibility for up to 30 seconds. Stays active if you attack, and you gain Displacement (50% concealment) for up to 90 seconds. WANT.
  • Sealed Soul. Tier 5. Immunity from energy drain. (Eat me, beholders and mages.)
  • Consume: Tier 6. A 10 second aura around you will cause anything within it to be eaten by its own shadow and  die or take lots of damage unless they save. You’re free to go about your business while behaving as a living black-hole during this time.
  • Dark Imbuement: Epic Moment. Not as impressive as the Grandmaster of Flowers’s “Death Blossom” but still a good fit for a Dark Monk. Gain enough Shrouding Charges and you can activate attacks with powerful Unholy energies for 30 seconds, increased range with melee attacks, and any ranged attacks have a chance to be explosive.

So, Ryncletica has the potential of becoming so deep in shadow, it’s almost silly. But I like the potential. And I can Twist a few of the simple GMoF abilities over that come in handy, like Lily Petal or even the mighty Orchid Blossom. I might lose my better Dodge abilities and a few other niceties, so in a later update, I’ll show the tradeoffs.

Dark is not evil, after all.