When I play with one of my characters, I often do so in a binge of weeks at a time before switching to another one. My current binge is with Quintessica and her new skills as a Henshin Mystic.
As you know, they use quarterstaffs to fight (albeit not exclusively). As a traditional weapon, unlike handwraps (which aren’t weapons, so the Monk’s innate damage is calculated from the character in unarmed fighting), I have to think long and hard as to how to generate the most damage per swing, and to effectively make as many swing attempts as possible.
With level 17 in the bank, I keep having dreams of what I’ll be able to do as I reach Level 20.
Doublestrike Power and STR
A Mystic gains quarterstaff training that’s similar to the Rogue Acrobat (and, as of this 19.2 Update, skills of these trees still appear to stack, for those Min/Maxers playing at home). So far, the two things I’m looking at are higher STR and greater doublestrike.
My Heroic-level doublestriking was (a still impressive) 32.50% for 10 second bursts while in Wind Stance and using the Quick Strikes ability at level 16. By level 18 now, it sees for Heroic at 35% (10% Grandmaster of Wind with Quick Strikes). With Power Attack active, it’s a blast to beat-down many enemies using Quick Strikes while spamming Void Strike and elemental form attacks like crazy. Quick Strike is a Morale bonus so adding Doublestrike prefix gear won’t help. Wind Stance adds doublestrike as an Enhancement bonus. I don’t run in Wind Stance generally due to its weaker defenses, but it sure helps in getting your Training Dummy “Hours of Practice” buff very rapidly. (The poor thing.) I won’t be hanging around Wind Stance for too long since it generates an average amount of ki and it’s a stance with fewer defenses.
Oh, I almost forgot the Fabricator’s Gauntlets and Fabricator’s Bracers. The unlocked set adds that Cannith Combat Infusion that procs often enough, adding some AC and a 5% Alchemical bonus to doublestrike. So, if all the stars align at level 18, Quintessica’s doublestrike ranges between 35 to 40% with Quick Strike, Ultimate Wind Stance and/or the Infusion going off.
And there’s more I might gain with stacking untyped doublestrike in Epic levels from Grandmaster of Flowers, maybe another 3 to 6%, A flickering dream tells me of Epic Gianthold’s Flawless Black Dragonscale Robes, with its matching Epic Helm of the Black Dragon, give a stacking 3% Artifact doublestrike bonus that I can dream of obtaining after several “Caught in the Web” episodes. (n.b.: I had the wrong set mentioned here earlier; it’s the Black set, not White, that gives the 3%.)
STR determines damage with a quarterstaff, and the weapon isn’t typically Finesse-qualified. Perhaps more so than with my tanker, Lynncletica, I’ll need as high a STR as I can make for Quintessica to generate higher damage. As much as I love the Mystical Fire and Force spell-like abilities, they aren’t going to take down whole mobs immediately, but will damage them significantly enough from staff fighting for me and my party to whittle them down faster.
So, where does a Heroic pure Monk go to get more damage from here?
Quin uses Whirlwind Attack, which does work well quite well in mobs (and doesn’t appear to be bugged). I don’t think there’s enough feats to add Cleave and Great Cleave, but perhaps I could consider Improved Sunder for this build to bust down the armor protections faster.
Damn it, but I can’t stop thinking of Quin in Epic mode. Crunching doublestrike gets me excited. She’ll have 25% (Quick Strike, 10 secs, Morale bonus), Grandmaster of Wind (10%, sustained, enhancement bonus), Running with Wind (Grandmaster of Flowers tier 2, 3% sustained in Wind Stance, untyped), Hail of Blows (GMoF tier 2, 3%, sustained, untyped). If the Fabricator’s set is worn and it procs, that’s another 5% Alchemical bonus for 6 seconds. That’s a total of 25%+10+3+3+5 = 46% maximum doublestrike (16% sustained in Wind Stance, 6% without it).
And what happens if I train as Legendary Dreadnought’s Lightning Mace and later twist in both tier 2 GMoF abilities?
That’s 25%+15+3+3+5+5% (LD, Lightning Mace, 15% enhancement for 6 seconds, or +5 with Wind Stance, one overwriting since they both enhancement bonuses, and Cannith Combat Infusion) = a maximum, theoretical and brief 56% doublestrike chance (10+3+3 = 16% chance in Wind Stance, 6% without it).
Then add another 3% from a full Flawless Dragonscale set. Brief 59% doublestrike, 19% sustained in Wind Stance.
That’s a lot of Twists of Fate, a lot of luck and a lot of grinding time. Not even sure if that’s viable in battle, but achieving a fraction of this speed should be good. Imagine all that going off in whole or in part with LD action haste or damage boosts.
The Big F’n Stick Thread
During some research, I found this long-running DDO forums thread on how players have worked on maximizing quarterstaff damage over the years. At over 118 pages, I’m still reading it.
The one thing I’ve taken away from that thread is the joy of glancing blows, an ability inherent with quarterstaves. Effectively, there’s yet a chance for additional attacks with this in effect.
The Two Handed Fighting line improves this opportunity to insane levels that I I really want to use. I’d like to put a point or more into the Fighting Style ability and choose the Great Weapon Aptitude option: Glancing blows produced by your two-handed weapon attacks have a +2%/+4%/+6% increased chance of producing magical weapon effects such as flaming. There are 3 ranks that require the latter two THF feats that I may not have slots to improve, but we’ll see. Between doublestriking and this, there should be much bashing.
I spent quite a lot of feats to get Whirlwind Attack, which is equally worthy and adds needed Dodge to this defense-weak build, in my opinion. I have a few feat slots left as I move to 20, so I’m grooming to take these feats for more attacks.
Emulating the Burly Brawl
I’m a huge fan of The Matrix movie series. My second-favorite fight in the movies is known as the “Burly Brawl.” There, Neo (the One, who really knows kung-fu and 57 other ways to fight) must use everything he knows to fight out a respawning army of rogue, viral, former agent Smiths. The ass-kicking is simply intense, as both Neo and the Smiths are Made of Diamond, neither one being able to harm the other, only knock each other or throw them away temporarily.
Neo fights unarmed for two thirds of the encounter. He holds his own well enough with 5 to 10 Smiths. Neo is Harried by 20-30 and begins to be overwhelmed by 50.
Neo thinks out of the box and improvises a quarterstaff, pulled out of concrete and away from its former role as an iron playground pole or fence post.
Then the fun starts. Neo starts wiping the floor with the 50, turning most of the Smiths into balls in a batting cage. It takes another 50 Smiths to slow Neo down again before he decides to fly away to escape, leaving the match (barely) at a draw.
For those who haven’t seen it or need their memory refreshed, here’s a video clip. It’s one of the first uses of digitized versions of people mixed in with live, choreographed fights. (You’ll know it’s digital Neo when his shoes change appearance to a raised heel, while Keanu wears a flatter sole.) My favorite fight, later in the Merovingian’s chateau, is all live action wire-fu, twice as badass and a far better music track to go with the fighting. Neo shows his Weapon Master Fu throughout this one.
There’s a perfect place (two, really) where I look forward to Quintessica emulating much of these fights. In her first life, she’s taken on the devils in “Devil Assault” solo. But it’s the continuous, multiplicative terror of spawns in the end fight of “The Weapons Shipment” where every Shintao Monk I own has had to show their mettle.
Going solo there, the speed of the fighting and the amount of enemies mean that finishing moves is all you have time for without getting slammed. all but preventing use of items to heal. You have to keep yourself going entirely through fighting prowess, vampiric effects and ki.
In this case, the need to deal with multiple attacks left Lynncletica and Syncletica more vulnerable as solely-unarmed fighters. But in her second life, Quintessica’s staff work might make things far more interesting. Her Fire attacks will be largely ineffective against devil-spawn, so maximizing her Force damage will be critical. Lots and lots of Whirlwind Attacks with the Woo-Woo Stick to maximize the area-of-effect, negative levels and glancing blows (combined with Seeker and related effects), in addition to Every Light Casts a Shadow to mass-neg-level as I can. Weaken your enemy to strengthen yourself.
My biggest worry is that she won’t have as much healing amplification as I’d like. But then, a Mystic is a dervish and hardly stands still long enough to get attacked.
I’ll likely start her working things unarmed to build ki and keep up. Then the Big Stick comes out by the time the Orthons appear, at the latest, and I will not walk softly at all.
The Stick of Destiny
As to which stick to use in there? Maybe I’ll have a Green Steel Mineral II or Lightning II crafted by then. Otherwise it’s the Metalline of Pure Good crafted stick.
Very recently, an awesome high-powered guildmate escorted my level 18 self to the Dreaming Dark’s hideaway and blasted him for quick access to his Dreamforge.
There, I had enough essences to unlock two weapons: Rahl’s Might and my now-fully upgraded Dreamspitter. I have a Holy Crystal, life-stealing, Force Bursted, Evil Outsider WOO-WOO STICK now. And the Rahl’s is a Force Bursted slashing crit monster. I pulled a few 300 criticals with that thing!
The Dreamspitter’s many neg-level songs of Woo against mobs during a guild run into “Friends in Low Places” were so constant that I was practically crooning like Perry Como. So my personal nickname for my Dreamspitter is now officially my “Perry COMA Stick”.
Quin’s staff-based Burly Brawl won’t happen for at least one or two more levels. Quin needs more boosts to healing amplification from the racial tree, some Two Handed Fighting, and the Fabricator’s Ingenuity set. At level 20, getting that awesome Stout Oak Walking Stick would be nice going in there, as well as wearing more protective gear.
One critical deficit that I’ve always had with Quintessica’s lesser reliance on the old Prestige paths that boosted HP is simply keeping those hit points high enough to be a reliable melee. At level 16, she was a bit sickly at 300. I grabbed some Argonessen favor for 10 more HP, and now armed with an Alchemist’s Pendant, more ki on hit and 10 more HP to make Earth Stance a viable option.
She has fair Dodge numbers (16%) but her work is so ki-intensive that blurring herself steals attack options and she hasn’t AP just yet to add to adding Shadow Veil for Ghostly or improving racial traits just yet. Sounds like I’ll need to put a perma-blur item somewhere here. An epic Ring of Shadows might be the best tactical option.
Hopefully I’ll make some time to make a video of this fight to post here (with music, cued to “The Burly Brawl” music from the movie soundtrack) with the results when that day comes. No link or it didn’t happen, right?