My unarmed play of late is generally only with Ryncletica the Ninja, who often enjoys more time with her short swords and shuriken. She now owns a Celestia to go with her Star of Day to dish out some Ninja Poisoning, as well as Antipode handwraps.
Quintessica the Mystic almost always uses her quarterstaves, and the latest gift of a free Sireth from the Update 20 Raider’s Box will all but guarantee this fighting style isn’t changing soon.
And the star-thrower Szyncletica is looking out for any returning stars to craft while on her way to obtain her Green Steel weapons. She just got a Morning Star shuriken and a nasty Cormyrian power-star.
All this weaponizing of my Monks leads me to a mild revelation. Good weapons are hard to find.
Unarmed Thinking Dulls the Blade
With a few exceptions with a few non-Monks I own, I generally find the latest handwraps and adapted them to my game play and to the quest at hand. Loot-generated handwraps often fit the needs and there are quite a few named handwraps that work. The Shintao Monks gained the most ease in equipping since they gained much of their own damage reduction bypassing as they leveled. All I needed to do was stack more damage and train each Monk properly for durability.
I didn’t have to think hard on my artificer and Arcane Archers since they could get easy DR bypassing options through buffs and gear. I don’t own any Fighters, and my other characters are played too little to gain full attention to some weapon needs at the moment.
With Update 19, the world changed.
Ninja use of shortswords and shuriken became far superior with the changes to poison, the Dexterity-to-Damage ability of the class tree for piercing and slashing weapons, and Ninja Master’s vorpal effects.
The Henshin Mystic uses quarterstaves almost exclusively and deal harsher critical hits with them than any unarmed Monk I’ve owned. And I mentioned (ad nauseum to some of you, perhaps) the need for throwing stars for a Ninja star-thrower.
In short, I have been increasingly forced to think outside the unarmed damage framework to the traditional weapon damage and types that many others use. I feel like a noob.
The greatest challenge in generating the best damage comes with Szyncletica. She has one attack mode: Shuriken. She’ll only go unarmed for oozes and to bust down doors. Otherwise, her damage bypassing must come from the star (if no other buffs or abilities are present).
As she reached 16, she was pulled in two directions: Getting flagged for the Shroud and completing the Lords of Dust chain to reach Eveningstar, completing any challenges there. Each path gains a new weapon: Green Steel from the Shroud and Cormyrian thrown weapons from Eveningstar.
Shruiken are harder to build as Green Steel. They need Large Splintered Horns, a rarer item to find in your Shroud ingredient farming. I know I’ll end up paying through the nose on the auction house to get a couple of these for at least two GS stars.
The Eveningstar/Underdark challenges aren’t nearly as puzzling as the House Cannith ones in terms of solo play. Thankfully I some guildies and I made it through to Eveningstar and farmed these at-level to get my first Cormyrian star, with acid, Crushing Wave and goodness knows how many other effects, like paralyzing. It’s not all that good on Shavarath or Xoriat enemies, but on everyone else, it’s a marvel.
On my very first trip into Wheloon and into “Friends in Low Places,” I scored The Morning Star I can use to help against light-sensitive enemies. I popped a Silver augment in there for now. Vampires hate me.
I took Szyncletica into a normal-difficulty “Running with the Devils” to see what she could do. The Eladrin there are often stumpers since they are Good-aligned (making Holy weapons useless), are powerful mages, and need Cold Iron to fully bypass their impressive damage reduction.
I had an Aligned star with me, but it wasn’t enough. Switching to a Metalline Flametouched star just pissed them off more than injured them. I crafted up a Cold Iron returning star into an Aligned Cold Iron of Improved Destruction that worked well enough on a a later run.
By next Thursday’s guild run into the Shroud, I plan to re-craft a couple of Silver stars to a +5 Shocking Burst Silver star of Pure Good and maybe a +3 Holy Silver star of Improved Destruction. Both will target Arraetrikos and his weaknesses. He has just 50% fortification on Normal difficulty, so I might be able to remove up to 15 fortification with the second star and some AC as well, to make it easy on the melee teams. Harry is vulnerable to electricity, so a Shocking Burst star pinpoints that, too. So long as I can evade the occasional meteor he flings my way (with a very high Reflex, I should do so), I’ll be okay in Part 4 and keep a good distance from others in part 5 when Harry is freer to move.
Crafted stars don’t have a wide damage range, unfortunately. Improved Critical: Thrown goes only so far. The Snowstar has a much-wider range but isn’t Good-aligned for better pain. That’s why the higher damage game-crafted Green Steel and Cormyrian weapons are needed as Szyn to improve her overall power in raids.
I’ve avoided many halls of the undead with Szyn, including Delera’s Tomb. I can mow zombies easy enough. It’s the slashing-resistant skeletons that are harder to take down–especially with the complete lack of a disrupting shuriken. My new Morning Star shuriken will help there, if a future Cormyrian star’s semi-random effects don’t surprise me with a disruptor. Time to go get my Voice, finally.
40+ Dexterity at Level 16
I’ve never had such a high ability stat on any character, ever, at Heroic level. On a Ninja thrower, the DEX goes not just to damage and attack rolls but determines the percentage of an additional star thrown per attack. That means that Szyn throws an additional star 40% of the time now. It showed in Gianthold as I tested out the change. Poor giants were gunned down at high distance with a Snowstar, most before they could react. Add in Improved Precise Shot and I was culling mobs out there. It’s the Red Fens all over again.
In Gianthold, I hope to get a guildmate or two to complete the flagging runs there in hopes of pulling a low-level Ring of Shadows for some blurriness in lieu of yet more Green Steel crafting for a Smoke II helmet with 2-clicky Displacement and permanent Blur for later. Lots and lots of Shroud runs in my future.
The additional stars with the higher DEX really improve the effective damage per second of the build. I’m counting on its power in the Shroud.
I took the Cormyrian star into “Mired with Kobolds” on Normal. Aside from a bug that prevented me from rescuing Wayfinder Dael, the quest was full of stomp as I blasted things from long range.
Then came the dragon. I immediately blasted the crystals in the circular field and began circle strafing everything, dispatching the kobolds and then running alternately small and large circles about the child dragon. Didn’t take long for it to die.
I quickly looted…and stopped. I wanted to see what the star could do against something stronger.
Out came Mama Dragon, CR21. Off I went strafing again.
I didn’t have to change a thing. Strafing means I avoid the damaging breath. Any damage I got came from the briar thorns where my Evasion save hit me with half damage. The hireling kept me healed when it could keep up. It was too busy trying to keep up with me to attract the dragon’s attention and so survived as well.
Sinvala could be poisoned, and after a time, 70 poison damage in purple numbers kept punishing her every 2-3 seconds in addition to the spelltouched star’s occasional slams of elemental damage and Crushing Waves. She’s immune to acid, but that didn’t help her.
Victory came easily, to my surprise.
My hope is that I can use strafing in Part 4 of the Shroud, where Harry is immobile. Szyn’s reflexes should help in reducing the chance that one fireball might end her day. There’s the matter now of her HP. She’s gotta be able to take a whirling blade hit or three, and 325 is dangerously low. I’d be happier at 400. Firewall was already ahead of me, swapping out Precision for Toughness. Hate to be a “me too,” but “me too!”
It’s time for Szyncletica’s first Shroud run. Time to put the metal down.
And after 20, its a new ball game. Based on what the Shurricannon build requires, it’s going to be a tough road as she gets Shiradi training completed.