Frantic Deadlines in My Mind

"We're back in hardware mode."

“We’re back in hardware mode.”

Just a quick note that the Monk guide, the Book of Syncletica, is in active full-bore rewrite mode. Parts will be incomplete as I update a chapter at a time or create outright new ones with Update 19.

I toyed with bringing the guide into WordPress but realized that it would be more trouble that it was worth, since Sites handles webpages and WordPress is more of a blog engine.

Further, I haven’t the coin to unlock the features here for advanced appearances or have decent web coding skills to make it happen. Boy, that free-to-blog concept seems familiar…

Lots of tweaking will be left after the core updates are done. I have to play a bit more with the Henshin Mystic nee’ Avatar, Quintessica to get a better feel, and look at some racial class trees to update some new Monk race information, as well as figure out many unanswered questions, such as if certain capstone-like things still exist (such as getting 10/Epic DR on level 20). Once done, hopefully by Labor Day, all that will be missing is information on the newer loot being generated and how to utilize it.

That’s important to note, ’cause I found some Vorpal Handwraps yesterday. Yeah, the devs just opened up their mystical coding can of wantsome. I’m seeing slots on all kinds of things, Dodge items out the ying-yang and Fortification items that exceed 100%.  Riposte is a new suffix with very interesting possibilities for Monks with high miss-chance, since you make an additional attack each time an enemy misses. Wow.

Oh yeah. I need to write a letter to the devs to put a simple Void Strike attack back in the dang game to use the Level 10 special finishers, ’cause none of us are going Henshin all the time and we aren’t ponying up 30 AP just to get it.

Hopefully a few key bugs are fixed. Was playing with some guildies in “Blown to Bits” when, just as the quest finished, we got hit by super-lag that essentially froze us. We managed to get back to the entrance where the lag stopped. We made our way back to the same location and to the last bosses without further incident. I’ve been hearing of nasty lag in places but this was the first time I encountered the nastiest stuff.

And there’s the wee known issue with the Wave of Despair, a delicious Ninja Spy ninjitsu addition to the Touch of Despair finishing move that gives all nearby enemies a negative level. The problem? It gives negative levels to your allies, too. Whoops. Better not use that in party for now.

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Update 19 Release Notes: Behold the Squee

There is so much squee in this update (with a potential for AAAAGGHH)  that I can’t tell you.

Like understanding the Matrix, you should read it for yourself.

Among the expected changes:

  • The new enhancements are now live. Tweak away! Every character gets a +20 Lesser Heart of Wood to do a full respec if they so choose. If you are a Monk, DO choose, as your selected elemental stances are entirely given to you as you level, leaving you with more feat options and more enhancement options. I don’t like getting all the elemental stances automatically, but what might make up for this is…
  • The new stealth system! I’ve tried this with my ninja, and LOVE it. You can actually use stealth as a fighting tactic. It makes sense, it works, and it means that my dedication to Hide, Jump, Tumble and Move Silently has been vindicated.
  • Level 28 is the New Black.
  • The remaining Iconic Heroes are in. I am SO making a Shadar-Kai Monk sometime.
  • Divine classes can now enjoy that Good Ol’ Time religion as in other D&D games and can optionally select a deity for extra happiness/destruction/protection.
  • Spell Critical chances for spellcasters is increased. I say to nuke that dungeon from your tavern. It’s the only way to be sure.

Some unexpected changes:

  • XP from quests decays less and regenerates over time, with a ransack-like metering. More XP!
  • Quivering Palm, the Monk’s counterpart to Assassinate, works while NOT unarmed now. QP also benefits from the same DCs that affect Sunder. Not sure if this involves the same tactical DCs of Stunning Fist.
  • Overall weapon power has increased with loot to match the overall game changes.
  • Burst and Bane effects are now GONE as a result of the loot power changes. Hm. How does this work out for people who spent their lives making Icy Burst weaponry in the Risia games?
  • The Hall of Heroes allows very quick teleport to anywhere in the game from the Enter page.
  • Chest re-roll! Use an Astral Shard in those bad end-quest pulls to re-roll the contents–but do it before you loot something or someone passes something to you.
  • Dodge bonuses on items are doubled–but differing effects no longer stack. The overall cap also appears to be gone in some cases or scales up based on class or ability.

If you run into hellish bugs or issues, please let me know so there’s at least more than one place in the universe that someone else might learn about it. Like any good production team after principal photography is done, there’s going to be many things that Turbine will have to “fix it in post.”

The Game’s All New Again: Monk Guide Redux

I have a lot of work over the next month.

On Monday, August 19, Update 19 arrives, and with it, not only the Shadowfell Conspiracy expansion but, likely, the new enhancement format.

The enhancements completely change the game for all classes, adding new or upgraded prestige enhancements while often reworking feats.

That means that the Book of Syncletica guide is half-useless in its current state and needs a full rewrite for the game.

There’s plenty of happiness to look forward. One late addition was the rewrite of the stealth process that makes for tactical fighting by zipping and out of stealth or invisibility. I’ll get into a larger talk on this in another post as soon as I play it live.

I’m seriously considering a move of the guide from its current host to another. I would love to have it here on WordPress, but it’s built as a blog site, not a general web site format without the right theme. I’ve also wanted a very specific look for the guide that reflects a certain mystical aesthetic. Much of the core text should be transferable but rewrites will take time. I’ll put a large banner or special section warning readers that much of the guide may be obsolete until I can complete the work.

In related news, I visited GenCon and had a great time hanging out with the DDOCast hosts as they made their last broadcast before passing the baton to another host. Among the audience was Tolero, her husband and ProducerGlin. More about this entertaining night at another time.

For now, I’ve really got to get to work.

GenCon Bound: Home Field Advantage

I live in Indianapolis, which happens to home to GenCon Indy, which starts this Thursday and continues through Sunday. Oh, yeah. BIG travel time to this venue for me.

For most online gamers, GenCon might not be as big of a deal, since there’s a heavy concentration of pen-and-paper gaming, which I don’t do. But it’s been a while since I last attended. The convention upped its game (so to speak) by adding more recreational non-gaming programming such as parties. I’m more of a Sci-Fi conventioneer (think Worldcon, Dragoncon, Capricon, and two locally hosted ones, Inconjunction and Starbase Indy), so that change added better reasons to attend.

This year the reason to attend is simple: Say hi and meet the folks at Turbine as well as any other DDO players who visit My Fair City. I’m going to bend the ear of a developer or two (Hi, Tolero and Cordovan!)  about this whole lack of a Void Strike at low levels…but I digress.

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So, ticket in hand, I’ll be ready for a Friday afternoon (just Friday) and a little evening in enjoying their epic Dealer Room (more of a convention in itself).

I plan as well to sit in on the DDOCast to be recorded there with Sig and Anne Trent and (in his last regular appearance) Geoff Hanna.

If you plan on attending, I’ll be happy to say hi and chat.

Look for the guy above. He’s me.

Not quite what you’d expect in terms of all the Monk advice, huh? Thankfully (I hope) I’ve never suggested that my gender wasn’t male. Folks might be a bit put off, I think. I just love the monastic life, and “Syncletica” (a real abbess) was a cool name I couldn’t turn down. (That and girl avatars are far less ugly.)

So, if my mundane appearance (not to mention the faux gender bending) disturbs you, pretend you see me dressed as Morpheus, with my lovely bride-to-be (in 2005), who made for an astonishingly lovely Trinity, and all will be OK.

TrinityAndMorpheus

I wish I could put on my Badass Longcoat again for my visit, but it’s deteriorated after years of use, so I’ll have to commission a new one. Maybe I’ll put on an eyepatch, wear a black turtleneck and conventional trenchcoat and question how badly humanity is outmatched or how cool my ride is.

Or, put on a 24th Century Starfleet Captain’s tunic and tell you how many ways that my little starship can beat your own. I guess I could also put on my master Jedi robes and show you the magic of my lightsaber (with “BMF” etched on its helt).

Yeah, being Black and bald greatly lends itself to many different looks. Can’t quite make a decent avatar of myself in DDO, however. Don’t know what’s up with that.

I loved what a simple coat and glasses did as I walked through downtown Indy this way. Some people parted like the Red Freaking Sea, while others smiled and clapped. Nobody thought to stop and talk.

The Pain of Grinding: Taking It To the Wilds

One should never watch lawmaking, sausages, computer repair, and game leveling being done without knowing how ugly it's going to be.

One should never watch lawmaking, sausages, computer repair, and game leveling being done without knowing how ugly it’s going to be.

Things are slow for me right now as I handle needed real-life activities (a reunion, getting my son ready for school, etc.). Thus, the game has been a little less on my mind.

Part of that reason came with summer guild inactivity (this has improved, especially after speaking with many in the guild to wake it up, in a sense) but also because I’ve become too fixated in getting Ryncletica the Ninja back to epic levels. I’ve even decided to skip visiting Crystal Cove while it’s running for now (I’m sure it’ll be back in time for Talk Like a Pirate Day) until player numbers and pals return.

Unlike Lynncletica, who returned to epicness rather fast since she’s a bruiser that can self-heal, Ryncletica has always been in the slower lane. With the greater XP needs of a first TR, I’ve been struggling to get Ryn through level 18 and 19 quests at almost any difficulty.

It’s not the quests. It’s my impatience. I’m playing Ryn wrong when she tries to act like Lynn. She dies easily enough, too, when I ignore her ninja skills.

So I’ve decided to try something that will waste less time and have a greater measure of XP success: Slaying.

Ryncletica is a rather impressive slayer. Being a ninja might have something to do with that. While quests themselves right now are problematic because of my urgency, wilderness areas force me to slow down, to use Ryn’s natural stealth and fast killing power. Her choice of handwraps might surprise you: A pair of +3 Night’s Grasp of Improved Destruction handwraps. While Ryn hasn’t natural DR bypassing as her Shintao counterparts, handwraps such as Night’s Grasp (like banishers) don’t really care. They strike with negative energy damage while sucking the DEX out of anything they touch. If it’s alive, the Night’s Grasp effect is nasty. Improved Destruction just improves the beat-down. Things get nastiest when I can curse my enemy with Touch of Despair to make them more vulnerable to negative energy.

My two favorite places to slay are the Vale of Twilight and the Devil Battlefield in Shavarath. After picking up a few slayer boost potions, I go to work. To some, it may seem boring to wonder the wilderness, and it can be if you don’t set a few goals.

  1. Take advantage of Encounters that make numerous spawns. In the Vale, there are two cave areas that, if you’re lucky, will spawn a bunch of spiders or bats. With a slayer boost, you can get a rapid number of kills. Rather than spend too much time traveling, you might recall out and reset the area to do that again. That becomes boring to me in the Vale unless I set a pattern to kill only Lammanians like spiders and a few ogres. 
  2. Set specific areas to kill. You waste your buffs by roaming the entire area.
  3. Slayer boosts are your friends. The Major kind gives a 66% boost. Is it a cheat? I don’t see it that way. The boost itself doesn’t give you XP. You still have to work at it.
  4. I’m at my best in solo mode as a slayer. Hirelings often attract too much attention. The enemies aren’t too concentrated and make it easier to handle fights. For that same reason, healing is less problematic. I can fight for 2 minutes at a time, use Wholeness of Body to fully heal up from ki alone, and return to the battle. Monks work quite well since ki can do so much for them and regenerates as they fight.
  5. Get the Explorer bonus. While the total XP might not be all that great, it completely reveals the map, making it easy for you to plan your routes and learn shortcuts that allow feather-falling jumps for quick travel, not to mention easier recollection and travel to Encounter bosses.

There’s quite a lot of XP in the Vale and Shavarath if you’re patient and thorough enough to farm it. I just want to get back to level 20 and won’t necessarily set up camp there forever. I’ll shift my attention from the Vale to the Underdark for advanced XP later.

For now, I’m just happy not to have any hirelings about to commit something stupid, getting me killed and wasting a half-hour or more in trying to level up.