Redefining Roles in My Dojo

Light...Dark. Matters not, it does. Colonel Sanders is no longer our master.

Light…Dark. Matters, it does not. Our master, Colonel Sanders, no longer is.

The remarkable changes of Update 19 is forcing my altitis to get a grip on reality.

As you might guess, I have several Monks.

What you might not guess is that I have a few non-Monk characters, too. More on those unwashed heathen later. Right now, I’m compelled to differentiate how my Monks serve my guild and me.

Since creating the Monk guide, I’ve realized that play time with each major variation was key to keeping some level of competence in documenting what feat, skill, item or enhancement can do. I generally defined my Monk’s roles as did many other players, as if they were buckets of fried chicken that you ordered up. “Light” or “Dark?” Do you serve it primarily cold, hot, nuked or poached?

As I gained better understanding of the elemental Monk stances, the differentiations also broke down to the old Prestige classes (Shintao or Ninja Spy) and what Monk stance they favored, and why.

Now, the class trees offer so much variation but with substantial changes that my original attempts to have a Monk that specialized in any one Monk stance or philosophy is useful as so many crumbs at the bottom of the Colonel’s box of biscuits. Let’s break down what’s happened.

When Everybody’s A Super…

Syndrome…No one will be.

Remember Quintessica? My “Avatar” Monk that mastered all the elemental stances by refusing to master a PrE? Yeah, she’s just one of the gang now. Update 19 automatically grants all elemental stances to you as your Monk levels, as feats. The good news is that all that AP spent in the past can go to other enhancements. The bad news is that the Avatar is a stock feature for all fully-trained Monks. She’s since moved on to finishing move and quarterstaff mastery.

I’ve also heard in casual conversation (to my horror) that the higher stances (known also now as “Forms”) can be chosen by low-level Monks. That is, if you have a feat space, you can choose it with 1 Monk level at any time, rather than letting level progression auto-grant it to you. Makes for an interesting but strange option for Kensei fighters.

The news did caught me off-guard. It left me in both an existential and ontological crisis for a bit. pondering things like “Why be a Monk anymore if any otherwise-unskilled Tom, Dick or Arretreikos can buy up a feat and punch about, too?”

Of course, a Monk is still more than just an unarmed bludgeon, thankfully. We still matter. There is still a delineation of why Monks are still relevant in DDO. What we can do that others cannot.

But we can no longer use elemental stances as a benchmark. Every Monk is an “Avatar,” a master of all elements.

As the poster child for a lost role with Update 19, I retooled Quintessica quickly as my first Henshin Mystic to gather a feel for the new enhancements, as noted recently.

But now there’s still the matter of repurposing the rest of my posse.

Please Choose One of Your 505 Options

I kid you not. The variations of the class trees allow you (with at least one multiclass or Arcane Archer option if from an elven race) that you have five hundred and five individual core and tier abilities from which to define yourself as a Monk in this new age.

This purposefully excludes non-divine spell caster class trees just to keep my sanity (you’d likely add another 200 variations), does not include Barbarian and Bard trees (impossible to multiclass with a Monk), and only counts Human, Half-Elf and Elf races.

My Monk guide (now mostly revised) is concentrating on 125-or-so options for now: The three Monk class trees, the Kensei class tree, and (coming soon to the guide) the Arcane Archer tree if an elven-type race that can add this tree with a few AP, racially.

If I try to keep to practicing what I preach, then my dojo (and friends who drop in) need some retooling. Here’s what I have in mind for characters who haven’t received or self-defined their roles already in this Brave New Game World, such as Lynncletica the Tanker, Quintessica the versatile Mystic, and Ryncletica the Ninja.

Arcane Archer Monk (Half-Elf)

Pynthetica is my next to oldest character (Syncletica being the oldest). She’s a human Ranger Arcane Archer, a past favorite from my Neverwinter Nights days. She’s never experienced a True Resurrection, so she’s due.

My goal is to have train all of my characters (unless a dedicated non-Divine spellcaster or dedicated healer) with significant (6 or more) Monk levels. Likely, most will have much more. Each character is going to get a weapon specialization (lowercase) that melds with their monastic training. I have a Rogue that’s competent at traps but uses Ninja skills and is training up as an Assassin.

In the case of Pynthetica, she’ll become a Half-Elf, train the basics in unarmed combat and then add in the Arcane Archer tree. She’ll need the Zen Archery feat for Centeredness with the bow and may be lighter in overall punch than either fully-trained Monk or a Ranger AA. But with that Cleric dilletante, she’ll be quite versatile.

I like the idea of going Light in philosophy here for some healing regeneration, but going Half-Elf with a Cleric dilettante will shore that up, so Dark is a better damage option although much of its work can’t work in ranged mode.

Pyn should be quite competent going pure Monk or adding in 6 Ranger levels to gain Manyshot and a few granted feats. Since you needn’t take a second class for AA as an elven-type, it’s a matter of putting the Action Points where they matter. I think this will be my first priority on this next Fall weekend (after taking Lynncletica in “Devil Assault” to farm a bunch of Tokens of the Twelve).

Light Kensei Swordfighter (Warforged)

I have a Warforged Monk named Synthetica. Yes, the name begged to be used.

To complete my original quartet of elemental users in the past, I had planned to make the robot into a Fire-Stancer since healing her (“it?”) would be complicated given the racial healing problems.

Now that only Humans and Half Elves get anything on the racial side from healing amplification (with the Warforged’s options just trying to keep them from being a burden), I plan to make Synthetica into something far more unusual. Using the very interesting Kensei enhancements that sync well with Monk abilities, I’m going to work on giving the robot a much longer arm than any of my Monks. Specifically, Synthetica will eventually use a greatsword.

Starting out, it will be a mostly unarmed affair, and a minimum of 8 Fighter levels may be required to get the best power. Since you can’t add ki proficiency with greatswords from any Monk class tree, Synthetica will need the entire Kensei line to make a greatsword a Centered tool, adding perhaps a few points into Shintao for some self healing. This one should be fun if I keep it a secret to my guildies. Imagine that we’re in a quest and things are looking bleak, when suddenly an unarmed Synthetica pulls out a huge sword and begins a school in how to carve and filet. It wouldn’t be my usual style and I look forward to it.

Dark Kensei Weapon Master (Half-Elf)

This is Theacletica,  mentioned recently, who is going Dark for damage and training in light blades. Since shortswords are easily added to any Monk with one point in the Ninja Spy core abilities, she’s likely to stay with these until she takes the full Kensei line and adds kukris, daggers and a few other sundries. She won’t throw the kitchen sink at you, but will throw every bit of the kitchen’s pointy, edged silverware.

Rogue Henshin (Human or Halfling)

Allysen is my first Rogue and has had growing pains. Mostly this not her fault. I love to play many characters in solo mode. You can get only so far with a Rogue since they specialize in damage that works effectively and only when someone else has the attention of the guy you’re attacking. She’s been at level 17 for a dreadfully long time.

I’ll need to force her to level 20 and then TR her. I may keep her as a Halfling (hear the murmuring praise by GamerGeoff) for the Dragonmarks and some gear she already possesses from her Thief Acrobat days. For greater damage and versatility, she could train as a Light Henshin with some Ninja Spy. She’ll forsake her life as an Acrobat, since many of the abilities there are also found in Henshin (with little benefit or compatibility with each other).

The problem is that being a Rogue is a very skill intensive path. You’re good at it, or you suck, and there’s no middle ground. Frankly, fighting is secondary for Rogues. I could use Cassietetica as a model (a Rogue Assassin Ninja) and steer Allysen towards the Mechanic path a bit. Still, AP is AP. I make Allysen a decent fighter or a decent Rogue. Of all the characters, Allysen is the greatest challenge for Heroic living.

Wind Stancer (Human)

This is what Syncletica, a Shintao, is now. Epic levels have not been friendly to her at all. She takes tremendous damage there from which she can’t heal fast enough, even with an impressive healing amplification.

I’m not giving up on Syn as a Wind Stancer, but she really needs more beef to counteract damage. In Heroic, she’s fine, In Epic, not so much. That likely means, as she reaches Epic levels, to pile on Legendary Dreadnought training, Unyielding Sentinel and Shadowdancer epic destinies for more protections.

I put her through a Lesser Resurrection recently, adding a few points in the Ninja Spy tree for faster sneaking, more Dodge and Shadow Veil (easy 25% incorporeality), while remaining points go to Shintao. Got her more Dodge, too. I took her into one fight in Eveningstar and recalled her back bloody and in pieces, despite having miss-chance skills like her old student, Ryncletica. Sigh.

The Dreadnought mode gets many Action Boosts that a Wind Stancer could use to throw out more damage than they take in. Some Shadowdancer abilities can improve her DCs to go with LD as well. I’ve just got to find the right balance for my primary toon and namesake to these enterprises.

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23 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kavatch2.0
    Sep 24, 2013 @ 10:18:51

    Just a quick comment on wind stancing with an unarmed monk. When unarmed fighting the hands down best stance is earth or water because of stunning fist dc’s and the prr/hp for earthstanced shintaos. I’ve found that Wind stance is really only good for the doublestrike since the goatskin boots and blinding speed feat came out. Now low lvls still see fire and air stance as very good stances but in epics water and earth are best.
    P.S. Im glad to see you multiclassing with kensei its fun.

  2. John B.
    Sep 24, 2013 @ 10:44:54

    The new bits have certainly been interesting, to say the least. The enhancement pass has given me so many options that I’m not really sure what to do with them anymore. My Human Monk lies in limbo as I figure out what I’m going to do with her. Formerly a Shintao gone Ninja Spy gone confused.

    The shortswords are nice, but I don’t hit hard enough. So I splashed around some, tossing in enough points through Shintao to grab up to Silver bypass, and filled up the rest in the Human and Ninja Spy trees. I already have a lovely little Halfling Monk that’s going to be running as a Shintao with an investment into Henshin for extra meditations and possibly even so far as to invest some stat increases. Perhaps I’ll go the opposite on her and head towards Shintao with a little in Ninja Spy. (Go figure, my Halfling doesn’t do stealth.)

    My other two characters, a Human Bard and a human Ranger, I’ve been considering making monks as well. The bard would likely go Henshin (as I have a nice number of staves that could use some love, but my temporary experience with them was largely underwhelming). I’m largely unsure on my Ranger, though. I was thinking of taking him to be a Rogue, but I really only enjoyed the Acrobat tree, and I don’t bother with trap skills (An acrobat disabling traps? Mine are much too proud of their acrobatics and would much rather tumble through them. :P)

    For now, I’m largely sticking to my little Halfling monk. The others could be deleted for all I help them any. I’ve recently been using my Human monk to farm gear for the halfling. Oh well, time will tell. Maybe I should just make a character on another server. Been wondering if my problem was just too many characters.

    In other news, have you noticed that the Ninja Spy’s capstone ability doesn’t have some profound explanation on it? Henshin’s mentions that, “Your understanding of things has evolved to a level that defies description.” And for Shintao, you have, “You continually seek physical and spiritual betterment, reaping many benefits.” Ninja Spy simply lists the abilities you get.

    • teachersyn
      Sep 24, 2013 @ 10:58:38

      Sounds like you need “freedom FROM choice,” too, with all the variations. For the Bard, perhaps, going Half-Elf, getting the AA tree and taking the Cleric dilly would be fun (skipping any Monk stuff). Shortswords certainly are tactical and I’ll admit I don’t run around using them often, but it’s a good option when you meet something more bludgeon-resistant.

      I’d look into stealth–it’s been a great retool of it that can save your bacon in some areas.

      I have a Rogue Ninja Assassin in the works. Decent with traps, good at fighting, nice sneak attacks. Being Half-Elf with a Cleric dilly keeps her alive.

      Thanks for pointing out the level 20 core descriptions. Henshins are just recycling the original capstone description, and the Shintao is new. Like the late additions of the new dazzlingly-bright enhancement icon art with Update 19.2, I’m betting that there was too much work overall in developing the new Ninja Spy (effectively adding a “Ninja Spy III”) that a more interesting description isn’t there yet. I’m OK with that since the RESULTS of that skill (Vorpal with anything piercing or slashing) gets my vote, big time! I helped pull out a win on an Epic Elite against a 118K-point boss using a throwing star recently! Yay Vorpal!

      • John B.
        Sep 24, 2013 @ 11:24:02

        I don’t have HElf, unfortunately. Aside from Favored Soul (that I mistakenly purchased, and am not fond of), the only character / class I’ve bought on my account was Monk. Maybe I should play on a few other servers anyway, simply for getting the turbine points via favor. He was a sorcerer, but it lost it’s charm, and the pass didn’t help any either, so I used that +20 heart to go bard. And I’m not a fan of that either, so I don’t know. The only characters I seem to like at all are my monks and somewhat my Rogues (that don’t do traps, so don’t get a lot of team play).

        I definitely love my stealth. It’s one of my favorite aspects of DDO. However, I have issues with the skills bit. Sure, a few points tossed into hide and move silently, but I really like my characters to have a bit of acrobatic ability as well, so jump, tumble and balance, and then concentration on my monks. As for this specific character not handling stealth, it’s more of a roleplay thing, really.

        I’ve been considering the Rogue – Monk after your little bit of prose about it before. I like the concept, but still tinkering in my head with how I’d go about it, if I do so at all. I’m very picky on my characters. I reroll a lot.

        That sounds amazing. What were you running? Maybe I’ll roll up something that specializes in Shuriken, just for fun. Point Blank Shot, Shot on the Run, 10k Stars, Quick Draw, and a few of the other feats I mentioned before on the other post of yours.

        • teachersyn
          Sep 24, 2013 @ 11:30:40

          My pure Half-Elf Ninja Spy, pure Monk with maxed out Shadowdancer, was the throwing star wielder. Any race will do there. Since the vorpal works on anything piercing/slashing, a bow blend (with poison!) might be fun for you. Else, definitely see if more throwing star feats would magnify the crazy with shuriken. They’re still pretty low-damage until you go full Ninja, and then happiness ensues. If you’ve unlocked Drow, they get Shruiken Expertise for free, I believe.

          • John B.
            Sep 24, 2013 @ 12:10:45

            Oops. My mistake. I meant what quest. Unfortunately, I don’t have the ED’s either. Oh well. Definitely going to have to hop a server to farm up some first time favor.

            I was considering a bow-monk, actually. I was just ever so disappointed to remember that I’d have to go Elf, instead of Drow. (Was hoping to go for a Drow Vulkoorim hunter-monk theme.) And yes, the do get it for free. But I wonder if it stacks with the Ninja Training core or not.

            • teachersyn
              Sep 24, 2013 @ 12:38:33

              “Foundation of Discord,” in Epic Gianthold. This quest is evil at any level. I soloed it on the same ninja in Epic Hard, but Epic Elite is madness.

              • John B.
                Sep 24, 2013 @ 13:26:59

                OUch. I’m having some trouble running that on Heroic elite on my level 22. What did you kill with that star?

                • teachersyn
                  Sep 24, 2013 @ 14:31:33

                  The end boss. Very slowly in EE with lots of party help and many deaths when the earth elementals crushed you. In EH, I used the Shadowdancer dominate to make the respawning elementals soften Patrick up before diving into the pit and pummeling him silly.

      • John B.
        Sep 24, 2013 @ 18:30:34

        The end boss. Very slowly in EE with lots of party help and many deaths when the earth elementals crushed you. In EH, I used the Shadowdancer dominate to make the respawning elementals soften Patrick up before diving into the pit and pummeling him silly.

        Easier to reply here for the sake of reading. I am going to end up regretting my lack of having the Destinies. But as it is, I’m already in desperate need of adventure packs. (I’m missing several mid level packs, and everything past Vault of the Artificers, save for Epic Gianthold.) I’m already beginning to wonder if I’ll even have enough content for additional reincarnates.

        I haven’t done much above epic hard, and only the Lords of Dust chain. I don’t think I even survived very well in that. Some in my usual grouping has this unfortunate tendency to pick harder difficulties than we can handle. Oh well, just a bit more time spent gearing, and I should be fine.

  3. teachersyn
    Sep 24, 2013 @ 10:47:23

    Of course. I have a tanking Earth Stancer that’s virtually indestructible except in Epic Elite. My second-best is my Ninja in Ocean Stance, who is very hard to hit. Wind Stance still has its benefits but, now, you really really have to watch their defenses. If you are fast at stunning and spam Healing Ki like crazy, it works. Wind Stance just has a bigger challenge in Epic, for reasons noted. Looks like Fire Stance will be the standard way to go with Henshin Mystics for ki regeneration and STR, so, yeah, Wind has become the “new Ocean”, which lost love until recent updates to improve it. Shintao is now more Earth-dependent, so the Wind Stancer may need to go more towards Legendary Dreadnought to shore up defenses.

  4. FuzzyDuck81
    Sep 24, 2013 @ 10:48:08

    That dark kensei weapon master.. yeah that could be a bit of a beast, especially if you’re doing trash disposal with a pair of sacrifical daggers – just see how long it takes for you to get tired of the near-constant woo-woos 🙂

    • teachersyn
      Sep 24, 2013 @ 11:02:23

      Between Quintessica with her new Paralyzing Shadow Staff and Balance in Dawn attack and Ryncletica’s Grave Wrappings and Wave of Despair, it’s one long, lovely song of neg-level woos, literally. I’m practically the Perry Como of DDO, crooning my way to victory. It’s insane how often I can chain neg-level attacks! Hopefully I still have one or two of those daggers for the Kensei, later.

  5. erdrique
    Sep 25, 2013 @ 09:40:32

    Yeah I have to admit that I thought the monk class was already quite versatile and complicated to design and play but with the changes the possibilities to builds definitely expand and make things even more complicated. LOL, let the fun of experimentation begin!!

  6. Kavatch2.0
    Sep 25, 2013 @ 12:18:43

    Can anyone tell me what a lvl 25 monk should be hitting for? Right now its hitting for 70-85 dmg before weapon effects but it seems like It should be higher with 10[w] and 40 str.

    • teachersyn
      Sep 25, 2013 @ 13:00:54

      My best Monk is at 32 STR and is hitting at 60-70, I believe, so I’m not sure I can help in maximizing. I’ll easily admit not to be all-knowledgable on this except to boost STR as high as one can and the weapon W that much more. Your stance aids here, of course. With weapon effects, it seems you give quite a wallop.

    • John B.
      Sep 25, 2013 @ 22:00:04

      My one monk (prior to her +20 LR) had… 15 base + 3 tome + 6 item + 1 enhancement (human) – 2 water stance. With epic items (such as Gianthold easily gearing up a level 25 with most epic elite gear), you can likely net +8 enhancement (over +6), +3 insightful + 1 exceptional, for a net of about 29? Adding in Epic Destinies, and

      • John B.
        Sep 25, 2013 @ 22:01:48

        a rage potion, and you could hit higher still.

        However, I don’t know anything equipment wise from Forgotten Realms or Epic Destinies, so I can’t answer further than that. However, that 29 is assuming water stance. If you go earth, wind or fire, you have an additional +2.

        Other things to keep in mind, are Deadly items, Seeker Items, and other damage bonuses.

  7. Kavatch2.0
    Sep 26, 2013 @ 12:13:08

    Well right now my dmg breakdown is (9.0)(1d8) with 43 buffed str and +8 dmg from deadly item with a 19-20×3-4 crit and a +10 seeker from red dscale. Even with all this and sense weakness I’m seeing other monks hitting harder than me and I really want to know how. It can’t be the handwraps because I’m using thunder and lightning and they are the best flat dps wraps in the game against none immune mobs. I will say that im missing dmg from any set bonuses like shintao tod ring/necklace and planar conflux but these items require a large drop in dps/surviveability from removing either my dun’robar stun ring or my shadow ring for the shintao or removing my handwraps for the planar bonus.

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