The Merciless Tempest and the Little Mountain

The moment arrived this week.

To fight the unbeatable foes.

Everything I have learned to-date in designing a Monk to withstand an Epic Elite quest was first tested recently as my guildmates and I entered “Trial by Fury.”

For those not in the know, Dungeons & Dragons Online has difficulty levels for every adventure. When you’re a character of level 20 or higher, you can enter “Epic” difficulty, which breaks down to four levels. Casual (enemies are far weaker than you), Normal (enemies are typically on-par with your level), Hard (enemies are somewhat higher than you) and Elite (enemies are dramatically powerful than you, sometimes twice as powerful). The highest character level you can get at the moment is 25. In Epic Elite, enemies show up often between Level 29 and 45, and boss enemies can be much stronger.

Despite your gear and power, a Level 25 can get swatted dead immediately in “EE” like a Level 1 character in a Level 20 raid without proper preparation.

Lynncletica, as you may know already, has the nickname of “The Little Mountain,” an Grandmaster of Mountain Stancer designed to withstand or avoid damage, to yield as much as a mountain would move against a storm.

While I’ve made some wrong calculations on a few defensive means such as PRR (augment gems are enhancement bonuses, so having more than one PRR gem will not stack with other effects), my other calculations have been spot-on, if not more so.

Thanks to many insightful forum threads on surviving Epic Elite difficulty (this one is among my favorite), Lynn entered her first EE with three most important statistics:

  • 150% fortification. This is the most serious protection that many don’t realize they require.

Back when you leveled up from 1 to 20, you were told by other experienced players to wear Light, Moderate and Heavy Fortification items as soon as you can. When you reached Level 9 and got that Heavy Fortification item, you didn’t think much about what it did for you as long as you had that item property equipped. Fortification protects you from critical hits and sneak attack damage. It’s based roughly on the enemy’s level. So, if you encounter a CR25 enemy and have Heavy Fortification plus a 25% Exceptional Fortification item, great. You’ll avoid 99% of critical hits and sneak attacks. But if you have only 125% versus a CR 40 enemy, you’re in for a very painful and probably fatal surprise. You’ll 140% fortification there.

The challenge for most is that you can’t get Exceptional Fortification items higher than 25% except on a few armors such as the Warforged’s Livewood Core or the light armor Leaves of the Forest. You can also look for the Fabricator’s Gauntlets and Fabricator’s Bracers in House Cannith Manufactury and “Blown to Bits,” and unlock them for a stacking 25% fortification that adds to Exceptional Fortification items. The downside there is having to unequip useful bracers and gloves such as the set item Bracers of the Sun Soul and the heal amplifying Purple Dragon Gauntlets. So, to best add more fortification for melee while keeping your better gear equipped, you’ll likely need to use Epic Destiny abilities to add more fortification.

That means you, the player, have to think outside of the box–that is, to train in more than only one Epic Destiny for needed protections. For Lynncletica and most melees, the easy way to do this is to train up in the Unyielding Sentinel destiny, pick the tier 1 ability “Brace for Impact” and take both ranks. This adds 40% stacking fortification as well as a tidy +2 to your Reflex saves.

But to use Brace for Impact, you need to either (1) keep Unyielding Sentinel as your active destiny or (2)  use the Twists of Fate slots, gain enough fate points to unlock a slot and put this ability inside the slot. In the case of Lynncletica, this allows her to use her completed Grandmaster of Flowers training while having that fortification equipped. (Lynn “cheated” by buying a Tome of Fate +2 to get two slots unlocked, a tier 1 and a tier 2, so that Improved Combat Expertise can also be twisted.)

She wears an Fortifying 10% of Natural Armor +6 necklace to give her at least 150% fortification at all times. If there’s a seriously nasty enemy that’s higher than CR 50, on go the Fabricator’s Set for 175% maximum fortification.

I can’t stress how important it is to get this fortification. It’s why most of us die far too quickly in there.

  • Higher Reflex saves. This helps my Dodge, Evasion, Concealment and Incorporeality effects work. You could have all of these effects maxed out but a low Reflex means that they’ll rarely protect you. I sat on a +40 to all saves, unbuffed. That number gave me enough protection, but 45 or higher would be better.
  • Dodge, Concealment and Incorporeality effects at all times. I lucked out on getting a high-end Ring of Shadows, which has 20% concealment and 10% incorporeality all on one item. As a Light Monk, I can blur myself for a minute at a time, and did so for party members without it. For crunch times, I had crafted a 2-charge Displacement throwing start clicky (50% concealment for 1 min 30 secs) and had the GMoF “Scattering of Petals” 25% emergency Dodge on hand as well to go with my standing 12% Dodge bonus.

In Epic Elite, the best tactic for many is to concentrate on damage avoidance rather than damage absorption, the common tactic for melees using Armor Class numbers and Physical Resistance Rating (PRR).

Lynncletica didn’t go in too shy on those numbers, either, in case any of her avoidance tricks failed. She owned a minimum 100 AC unbuffed and 62 PRR. That PRR was hard to get but, thanks to training up Legendary Dreadnought‘s Improved Combat Expertise for 20 PRR while in Combat Expertise stance, as well as 15 PRR from Ultimate Mountain Stance, 15 PRR from Standing with Stone (GMoF ability) and another 12 PRR from a gem, I absorb 30% damage.

Part of my damage absorption strategy is the Way of the Sun Soul effect in Mountain Stance where a Radiant Forcefield-like bubble protects me from 25% of most damage on a vorpal roll. Strangely, I didn’t see this appear at all during my fight. Either I was silly and didn’t have all my Sun Soul items equipped throughout the run, or there is a glitch in that quest where vorpal rolls didn’t activate that effect.

  • Stunning Fist DC of 50 to 52, using Yugoloth and DDO Store potions as required, especially after the first death that removed ship buffs.

Contrary to my earlier experiences with Syncletica, you really need 50 DC or more to reliably stun. The Grave Wrappings help a lot to increase the chances, provided you can level drain your enemy once or twice to make them more vulnerable to stunning. The level drains were what threw me off, thinking in error that a 36 (which was likely 46 with Stunning +10s on) was enough to pull that off more or less consistently. If I needed, I can twist in Legendary Tactics and not Improved Combat Expertise for +6 to the DC for a 56 to 62, at the expense of PRR absorption.

So how did it go?

I was as durable as I hoped to be. As many players will tell you, death was inevitable. However, not being the first to die, as well as the cause of death was what I was trying to achieve.

I was never slain by critical or sneak attack damage as others in my party. Rather, I was simply overwhelmed by mobs when most others in the party were incapacitated or dead, leaving me the sole target. That’s a good thing, and something I can plan more for later.

Tactics played out well here. On open territory against the hordes of spiders, it was a harder fight for the party. Against other mobs, we fared better. At one point I fell off a ledge and had to run back to the party, which had encountered two enemy Yugoloth mages that nearly wiped the party. Getting back, I had to remember something: Yugoloth are Outsiders. My guild leader, also a Light Monk, snuck in and Jaded each target for a very quick takedown. Problem solved.

The end fight was expectedly challenging, but our party’s veteran players settled into a rhythm and roles we’ve used before. Our bard, no stranger to healing, assisted our Cleric/Monk while myself, the guild leader’s Monk, and a Paladin took turns whomping on Grulemith the Goristro. While spamming Healing Ki as I fought, I had switched to some lightweight crafted +1 Icy Burst handwraps of Vampirism to supplement my HP when I should have used my +5 Vicious handwraps of Vampirism for more damage. Still, the party got the job done and the minotaur-on-steroids took a powder.

Lynncletica and the party survived in far less scruffy condition than in that terrible EE “The Portal Opens” slaughter. I think, on average, there was 4 deaths per party member total in our run.

I have one more EE run this week and hope to get more data to refine Lynncletica’s durability and pass on that information to others. If you haven’t taken a gander at my Monk guide’s chapters on Epic Elite preparation, as well as Armor and PRR and improving your Dodge and related avoidance buffs, you might find it helpful to consider for your toons, Monks or otherwise.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ddomicki
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 01:26:36

    🙂 Graz. My monk is just about to become epic (last life I TR’d at 20, so she’s never leveled the ED’s). But on Fortification, my cleric has Brace for Impact, and the Omniscience ring (+25% stacking fort, +2 reflex), which means she’s at a constant 165% fort. When I switch to Unyielding Sentinel and Stand Against the Tide stance, as long as I’m standing still I’ll get my fort up to 190%.

    • teachersyn
      Apr 05, 2013 @ 07:08:50

      Lucky find on that ring. I’ve considered filling out Unyielding Sentinel, if only to get levels for fate points, but there’s so little else in that ED that works for a Monk. I’ll have to review it since the stances may be a bit worth it.

      Played “Reclaiming the Rift” EE last night. I can say it was the most harrowing, exhaustive and frustrating battle I have ever had. The deaths were ridiculously bad. Dracoliths are just evil with slashing damage. I may have to open up a Forum topic on how people survive this in the open like that. I threw everything I had at it.

  2. ddomicki
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:40:25

    🙂 I’ve run Reclaiming the rift twice on EE (again on my cleric), and what helps is having a cc able caster. Without it it’s deaths upon deaths. And the boss is easiest killed ranged.

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