Monks were among the classes introduced after a bit after DDO launched, and a bit of time before I joined the game. In fact, I joined the game because Monks existed (having enjoyed the original Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2) and would not have played DDO at all if they were absent (one of many reasons why I’m steering clear of Neverwinter Online for now).
A little trivia: The Monks arrived in the “Module 7” update, just after DDO blew up the original Marketplace tent during what I heard was a spectacular event watched by many in-game in 2008 (the game arrived in January 2006 or so). Of course, players can enjoy that destruction through its recreation in the “The Chronoscope” raid.
With the Monk class’s later entry, some of the oldest quests and raids in the game have few to no items that benefits Monks in the slightest. Some quest chains were given a few trinkets (such as handwraps in Three Barrel Cove, the Catacombs and Delera’s Tomb) while a few places are impractical for Monks to venture, save for the experience points and favor or to sell off what worthless items you purloin there (Tempest’s Spine, most items from the Vale of Twilight, House Phlarian, House Kundarak). Long after the Monks joined the scene, the pickings for them are still comparatively light from new quests and raids.
This pseudo-discrimination is not new or special. It’s really a matter of the Monk’s design. It’s easy for the developers to make a new set of armor or a new sword or axe or scepter. These items are commonly used by many classes. In terms of fighting and protection, however, the Monks have always been different. For example, while arcane spell casters can’t easily wear armor, it’s not a complete restriction if you put action points in the right places or have a race that mitigates arcane spell failure (such as Drow Artificers). Monks, however, can never wear anything other than robes or outfits or they become uncentered. They lose their monastic mystical abilities immediately until they are centered again.
Since a Monk’s body is the weapon (things like handwraps merely augment their innate unarmed damage), we as a player group have adapted nicely (through the class’s ability points, feats, enhancements and some gear) to know how to dish out serious damage.
But outfits have always been a sticking point for me. Until recently, outfits afforded very little defensive protection from a standpoint of AC. That’s changed a little bit, but you need to know where to find it.
Levels 1 – 8
What might tick off some of us who play is the aesthetics of having to wear robes at early levels and not outfits as these afford a better level of protection.
(For purposes of anti-min/max talk, I’m purposely avoiding discussion of challenges that offer you decent options such as the Frozen Tunic. For those of us that want to play and not grind, challenges aren’t appealing–and I don’t assume everyone has a VIP account for unlimited runs through these challenges to get the ingredients needed for building these items.)
When you start out in Korthos, you’re given the Disciple’s Robe. It’s not very impressive. It’s not even a robe, but appears as an outfit.
At this point, many experienced players buy or craft an Outfit of Invulnerability, which affords substantial protection through damage reduction relative to your level. If you are lucky enough, however, you might find something more.
By level 2, you might have a chance at a Sewer Smock. This is actually a robe that has been recently updated as of Update 17 and affords more than the acid resistance of its previous incarnation (despite what the current DDO Wiki page shows for the item specifically at present–we’re usually faster in updating this stuff) with +3 AC and a Blue Augment slot.
Delera’s Vestment, a Level 6 robe, was updated to offer +5 AC and a Blue Augment slot (with some CHA).
A great update came to the Level 6 Enlightened Robes (again, an outfit and not a robe), which adds a welcome +5 AC, a Green Augment slot with Acid Resistance 10 pre-slotted, +3 WIS and Moderate Fortification. To get this outfit, you’ll need to run The DREADED Pit for a shot at getting one or find an unbound outfit on the Auction House.
At level 8 is another robe that was nicely updated: The Quicksilver Cassok (never mind the misspelling of “cassock”) is now more than a fast Striding robe. It also offers Melee Alacrity 10% (awesome for those of you who haven’t crafted this as a level 3 trinket), +5 AC and a Blue Augment slot (perfect for a Heavy Fortification gem). This might be the outfit that will get you by until level 12. But you’ll need to complete the entire Cult of the Six chain in Sorrowdusk to find one.
Another awful grind that might be worth it to do comes from the Ruins of Threnal. I know, I know. You’re still paying your psychiatrist from the PTSD treatments you’ve had after having to defend Coyle during the last time you were subjected to that madman. But fear not. You have a shot at the upgraded Thanatos Weave, which not only has built-in Deathblock (as did the original) but +5 AC with a Blue and Colorless Augment slot.
Levels 9 – 12
Maybe I was wrong to say that we can’t get decent clothing protection options as Monks in comparison to our armored kin. The more I explore our options with Update 17, the more I find. Let’s delve into what you can wear between 9 to 12 and contrast them to what many Monks will often suit up on reaching Level 12: the venerable Garments of Equilibrium.
Dragoncraft Robe (Level 10): Whoa. This is a miniature version of the White Dragonscale Robe, also from the revised Gianthold area. It has +5 AC, Moderate Fortification, Protection +4 and Shield +4. I’m big on getting items with built-in Shield since Monks can’t carry shields, so this adds more AC to a build. These robes only require 10 Ancient Dragon Relics to make–something you can farm off with another of your characters or from the generosity of a fellow player.
Vulkoorim Dervish Robe (Level 10): From the Demon Sands, specifically the end reward of a rare encounter in the wilderness there comes this updated robe with +6 AC, Improved Fire Resistance, a Green and Colorless Augment slot.
Antithesis (Level 12): From the “Inferno of the Damned” comes a +6 AC, Protection +4, Resistance +4 robe with Fire Guard, Ice Guard and a Colorless Augment slot. Not bad.
The Garments of Equilibrium haven’t changed with Update 17. They offer a die step up on your unarmed damage, Heavy Fortification and +13 to Concentration. But with the options available in Augment slots, I believe now that we can do better. Sadly, there’s not much more out there in terms of named robes or outfits at this level range.
Now things pick up a little bit. But just a little.
White Dragonscale Robe (Level 14): Again with the robes! But this one is arguably the most powerful that a Monk can wear into Epic levels, in my opinion, with +8 AC, Heavy Fortification, Protection +5, Shield +4 and Improved Cold Resistance. Their appearance may not be quite good, but that’s what a good armor kit is for.
Enlightened Vestments: (Level 16): These weren’t gifted with an upgrade. You find them only in the Vision of Destruction raid, and they have a comparatively measly +6 AC, a useful +6 WIS and Banishing Fists (handy in the Vale). If you get them, great, but it’s hardly worth grinding to get them.
Icy Raiment (Level 14): Show some respect for this armor. Many players…died…to bring you this information. Many PUGs have banded together to have a chance at getting this outfit in the past, but with the new updated armor (in Gianthold, I suspect), the grind had become less pressing. This armor, found only in the end chest of the giant skeleton Garamol in an obscure and deadly chamber within the Subterrane raid-level wilderness, has gotten a slight makeover. It received +6 AC in addition to its Dodge Bonus 4%, Protection +4 and Resistance +3. Most importantly, as opposed to its last incarnation, the Icys are now unbound. Get your Epic in there and grind them for fame for your other toons and fortune from selling unneeded outfits on the Auction House.
Levels 16 – 20
There are a few options you can consider before reaching Level 20 and getting the Epic outfits from Eveningstar.
Cloth of the Faithful (Level 16): If you grind through the Necropolis quest series and upgrade your Silver Flame Nugget to its maximum, you can trade it in for this armor. It’s mostly for spell casters with its Wizardry VI, but it also comes with +7 AC, Spell Resistance 30, acts as a Nightshield clicky (handy for emergency avoidance of magic missiles), with a Green and Colorless Augment slot.
Dragontouched Vestments (Level 16): Not to be confused with the various similarly-named armors from Gianthold, this outfit earns a love/hate relationship for good reason. To get it, you need to complete all three flagging quests in the Reaver’s Refuge chain, trade in 50 Draconic Runes you collect in your adventures, and hope to get the various special runes that can upgrade the armor. There’s many variations, but getting the rune you want is rather random. You can crunch three runes to get a different random rune, but in comparison to the precision you can gain in using Augment gems, I doubt that few of us care to run this chain except for bragging rights, as well as to talk trash about the so-called Monks that inhabit the Monastery of the Scorpion.
And That’s It
So there are precisely six named outfits I can find that are worth mentioning that you can find in-game to keep your Monk from wearing robes. As I said, it’s not that the robes are bad–they are bad as in “Awesome Protection.” They just don’t have the kung-fu look as outfits do.
The devs recently added new looks to spawned loot-generated armor, as well as adding AC bonuses to them, so many pre-Update 17 outfits can be retired in favor of better protection. But aside from going Epic to get the ubiquitous Vestments of the Sun Soul and Spider-Spun Caparison, you have to make an effort to ensure that you wear the best protection, albeit perhaps not the most fashionable.
With the absolutely incredible Epic version of the White Dragonscale Robes and its powerful set helm, I might reach that appearance once I complete a few grinds in “The Fall of Truth” for Commendations and gather a few more Restored relics from several trips into Epic Gianthold.
Nothing like having ten Giants and a dragon chasing you across the acrid plains of Gianthold to keep you motivated and fight as viciously as Trinity did.
Still, I wanted to wear a robe in this case. Only on Epic do we Monks get outfits or robes with similar protections and aesthetics in a uniform way (pun unintended).