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.
- 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.