The Self-Imposed Stealth Solo Challenge

I’m a very big proponent of stealth tactics in quests.

I know that doesn’t go down well with many adventures in DDO, but usually, the joy of slaying is lost on me. I kill enemies because they will try to kill me. Often, I must initiate attack. If I am attacked first, I ensure I’m the last one standing to finish it.

So, with a serious case of altitis with a little boredom kicking in, I’m considering a game for myself that others can play along as well. I’m inspired by two sources. First, from the creator of the DDO Character Planner, who had begun this some time ago.

The second inspiration is from a popular manga/anime show.

The rules are simple:

  • Do not kill except when
    • A required objective requires it
    • Stealth is not an option (enemies can often or always detect you, such as wraiths and spiders)
    • You are revealed/unable to hide and you are fighting for your life
  • Do not smash breakables unless it is a required objective; this makes noise that attracts enemies
  • Reveal yourself only when
    • A required objective/condition of passage is activated only if you are visible (to prevent bugging a quest)
    • Aggression or diversion is required to complete an objective
  • Complete the mission without assistance (no hirelings) unless an objective requires additional party members for levers and switches. Assistance will be dismissed or left idle after levers are completed
  • Discreet (5% or less), Devious (7%) or Insidious Cunning (10%) kill objectives are required where possible.

To meet the “no kill” objective will require taking advantage of the game’s improved stealth AI. Enemies now respond to noises more reliably and go to the sound to investigate. In narrow corridors where enemies block the doorways, noise could be used to pull the enemies away and allow an adventurer to pass by. Alternately, a character can use a single attack or quick reveal to pull enemies towards them. If you can break the line of sight of these enemies and then hide and go quiet, the enemies often pass you by, searching for you in vain briefly before often returning to their original positions.

It will take my best Ninja Spy to make this work. My fondest characters (Syncletica, Lynncletica and Ryncletica) have Epic levels and have been idle for some time while my star-thrower mania has continued unabated for weeks now.

But which character should enter this game? I’d likely dedicate only one character to complete this, from level 1 to 28ish.

I strongly considered Syncletica herself. She’s been largely idle since her first TR and horrific results as an Epic character.

Ryncletica is already a strong general Ninja Spy and would enter a third life to try this.

In the end, I generated another Ninja Spy. Inspired by Sword Art Online‘s “Black Swordsman” and central character, Kirito, the player character Kiricletica is now skulking the dungeons.

As the build goes, Kiri isn’t very special except I’m adding longswords to her ability for slashing damage, befitting her namesake. Every ability to stay hidden or divert attention is getting maximized.

Every Trick in the Book

I’m not quite utilizing every condition of RJ’s attempt. While his goal was to fully complete all quests, including optionals, I’m sticking to the required objectives only. I’m using ship buffs and I’ve equipped Kiricletica with some starter equipment with the goal of her gathering her own later.

Since I’m attempting each dungeon on Elite and within 2 levels of the quest difficulty, any gear she attains from other characters, should I choose, essentially evens the odds, not increases them.

Self-healing is a critical consideration in solo play, but thankfully is going to be less problematic since Kiricletica is Half-Elf with the Cleric dilettante to allow scroll and wand healing as well as good protective buffs. Several points are going into the Shintao and Mystic trees for greater ki regeneration, healing amplification and improved DCs.

Kiricletica will need an improved ability for ranged damage to avoid some fights. While she won’t be as powerful as Szyncletica,  I’m using all I’ve learned of the Shiradi Shuricannon build to boost Kiri’s DEX very high for improved damage and attack as well as shuriken throw rate. I might add Shuriken Expertise while adding in Cleave and Great Cleave. The Two-Weapon Fighting feats are important but I don’t know if taking all three will be essential.

Kiri’s already equipped with a Phiarlan Mirror Cloak,  a great item for new characters to improve Hide/Move Silently skills. Spot will get a boost, and Diplomacy where possible for avoiding some fights.

From here, it’s all tactics.

Stealthy Repossession: The Dreaded

Many players in groups either skip this quest altogether or use tactics that keep the precious kobold prophets busy enough so one person can zerg in to grab the gem that completes the quest.

I chose to do things the old fashioned way.

I entered in as a level 4 character on Elite. My first mistake was walking around as I activated a buff or two. On opening the first door, two ordinary kobolds and one prophet attacked and had to be put down. I still had a safety margin of prophets, so in I went.

The key in stealth is often to follow the paths of those you avoid. Staying behind them keeps you out of their visual arc, their line of sight. You also need to avoid sneaking too closely for their Listen skill to hear you take that misstep.

The second prophet guards a wide main hall with two gated passages. The little guy makes a lazy clockwise walk around the area, so I follow him and, while he’s at 3 o’clock and I’m at a the lever at 11 o’clock, I pull the lever, restealth without taking one step, and enter the west hall.

Two prophets walk in a slightly different pattern up and down this north-south hallway. Your only target is another lever on the west wall. Many other kobolds are sleeping.

This lever is the hardest of the six you must engage since you have to time pulling the lever with restealthing before the prophets are in Spot range. Hopefully you will restealth and be heading back north before the prophets turn around for their northern track, as you’ll want to pull that thing quickly as they pass. Thankfully, despite the sound effect, it seems that levers don’t make sounds that attract. Else, this quest would be clearly impossible.

I pulled the lever and sneaked back out, wary of the central hall prophet still doing his rounds.

On to a west hallway where a fourth prophet makes another patrol. Same tactic is used as in the central hall but you have to watch for when the kobold stops at certain points before turning and walking away. I let the kobold head more easterly and away from my objective, a door where another lever awaited inside. More sleeping kobolds. There were some boxes I was able to use to elevate myself out of some tight spots where my timing with the prophet was too perfect and his line-of-sight approached too fast.

Ahead to the east, a corridor leads to another room with a mix of sleeping kobolds, one vigilant thrower atop a tall pile of crates, and two prophets. Here, you have to move fast to get past this to fall down and to the right  into a lower room, avoiding the bridge ahead. Inside a recess are two switches to pull. Do not make one move without being in stealth here (or anywhere) as the prophets will hear you.

You must then head northerly, avoiding two more prophets, to the final switch. On this one, it may be best to use invisibility if you have a potion or effect, to gain an edge on Spot, since there are two last prophets and often one optional boss, a witch doctor. Activate the switch on the south wall, and then sneak in for the gem, located north and west from the last switch.

Sounds easy? I didn’t think it did.

Thanks to Micki, I’m now the owner of a Bandicam license, so here’s a recreation of that run with Kiri, now a little higher at level 5, in the first of a series of videos to help Monks work out their kinks in certain quests.

Here’s another successful but less glamorous attempt on that quest. My apologies for the darkened video; I’m getting used to the gamma and brightness settings as things get moved here and there.

How Far Can I Go?

As the character Kirito knew, there will be point where solo play is not possible, much less practical. Kiricletica isn’t designed to be an achiever of quest chains or gain accolades in leveling. Her only desire is to complete as much of the game as possible without any player character’s to assist. Raids would be the exception. Maybe.

The only challenges that will thwart her will be ones that absolutely require several live players to coordinate levers and switches. As much as I’m hopeful of Kiri’s abilities, being in two places at once isn’t one of them.

Perhaps I’ll be able to get a Devious bonus in “The Kobold’s New Ringleader.” You never know.

(Update: I apologize for the video quality. Serves me right for using Windows Movie Maker, free as it is. I’ll be improving the video quality as I find better options. This thread, older as it is, still has some tips.)

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34 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mernom
    Jan 14, 2014 @ 01:39:55

    So you heard of sao? A great anime and novel.I made a longsword duel wielder monk based char in lammania,and it was really fun.( he was an elf,with wizard as,primery class)

    • teachersyn
      Jan 14, 2014 @ 07:10:21

      Oh, yeah. Search through the blog for a review of the anime series. I’ve been in a moment of quiet squee after learning a few days ago that not only was there a 2-hour special released in Japan on New Year’s Day, but that “Sword Art Online II,” which will cover the Phantom Bullet arc, is coming this year. Apparently, it’s as popular as anime as in manga.

  2. ddomicki
    Jan 14, 2014 @ 02:38:57

    🙂 I enjoyed this and the video. I like looking at tactics etc. I’ve tried a few times sneaking in Stealthy Repossession, but without enough sneak and hide, it always fails. A friend of mine invis farms it, though, so using invis makes it easier (I haven’t tried it).

    • teachersyn
      Jan 14, 2014 @ 07:08:03

      Thanks! Glad I can show my skill for once, although I’m still working on editing quality. Invisibility never does anything to sounds, so it’s more of a crap-shoot sometimes. On Elite, you need scores of 18 to make things work. I had 20 at best and generally it worked out. It’s determining what makes and does not make sounds on use (buffs, levers, gates) that make the difference, especially with U19.

  3. grimorde
    Jan 14, 2014 @ 03:06:18

    Very good 🙂

    Also, Sword Art Online is great – reminds me of the Otherland novels by Tad Williams. Nice to see the comparison between SAO Kiri & your Kiri 🙂

    • Kavatch5.2
      Jan 15, 2014 @ 20:00:09

      No the otherland novels are over 90 thousand pages long and explore the meaning of humanity and the suppression of emotions as people interact through technology. The only thing these two had in common is that it’s set in an mmo and people go into comas.

  4. erdrique
    Jan 14, 2014 @ 21:50:20

    Excellent job!! I haven’t made any pure stealth characters but I did have an Rogue Assasin that did like to go stealthy from time to time. It’ll be interesting to see how your character does !! 🙂

  5. John B.
    Jan 15, 2014 @ 10:29:08

    I had just rolled up a character trying to fit to Kirito myself. I was thinking of Ranger, however. Monk sounds like a nice choice, now that I think about it, as he did have at least one unarmed skill, so he must have been at the least, somewhat proficient in unarmed combat as well as his blades and throwing pick (easily replaced by a shuriken).

    With the first lever, that second prophet has a part in it’s path, after passing the door, where it takes a sharp turn toward the hallway you enter from. I believe this is where you got spotted.

    The second lever, with the two traveling prophets, if you spend a bit of time watching, you’ll see that they both stop on opposite ends, but when they make it to the other side, they immediately turn right around.

    After the two crystal levers, I usually walk up that slope. I find it easier to avoid the circling prophets that way. Was interesting to see you take the other route.

    That last lever is usually tricky, but I’ve never really had a problem with it if the shaman never spawned. I haven’t tried stealthing the quest since the stealth changes went live, however. At least, not on a toon that would be more equipped to handle this.

    The Phiarlan Mirror Cloak is a real boon in this quest, especially if you’re going to be running it at level, or below. That bonus to Move Silently really helps, especially against those Shamans, who tend to have a higher wisdom (thus higher Spot / Listen skills).

    I should take this challenge myself! I’ll even up the difficulty some by rolling the toon up on Ghallanda, since it’s the only server other than my main where Drow is unlocked. I too, have been suffering from Altitis, and could really use a change of pace. Perhaps slower would be a nice change. I haven’t run stealth in quite some time. Sometimes, it’s way more fun being in suspense of being caught.

    I’m curious though, how did you distribute your ability scores and which skills did you choose? Perhaps if I can get CamStudio to work properly, I could upload them as well.

    • John B.
      Jan 15, 2014 @ 14:46:10

      Speaking of, feat choices alone. The first TWF alone to kill the penalties, then you have PA / Cleave / Great Cleave, your dilettante, Whirling Steel Strike, Weapon Focus Slashing, your Philosophy and those alone still only leaves you with two more. Another feat would be spent too as you might take Longsword proficiency. Though, you might be taking Shuriken Expertise as well.

      It’d be odd using a monk and not utilizing the Spring Attack line. Perhaps I’m just far too used to it.

      • teachersyn
        Jan 15, 2014 @ 18:13:44

        I did add proficiency as it was a requirement for WSS. Cleave/Great Cleave are coming. I do like taking the Dodge/Mobility/Move Silently but this build will need more combat feats. Being a Monk, much of the Dodge will come naturally, but is very required for the best miss-chance I can gain. Of course, this is to ensure I fight well when I must fight. Otherwise, I don’t worry.

    • teachersyn
      Jan 15, 2014 @ 18:10:40

      Being a Ninja, I added enough STR to use levers and doors but will focus on DEX, WIS and CON from here on, with enough INT perhaps to hit 13 for Combat Expertise. DEX to Damage should work great for swordplay and allow Ninja Poison. Going unarmed for early levels and special cases where stunning is a better idea. Skills: Up to Balance 10, Diplomacy 20, Hide and Move Silently to maximum, some in Spot. And I agree: I’m learning the quests all over again with a stealth-oriented approach. Tried “Where There’s Smoke” that way. Have to kill there but managed to slay only 1/2 of what was out there, avoiding the rest. Tighter passages in dungeons may or may not work. I’ll post “Kobold’s New Ringleader” to show how I’ll divert enemies.

      • John B.
        Jan 15, 2014 @ 19:46:16

        I’ll have to try that all out, then. I suppose, with an emphasis on stealth, combat wasn’t much of a requirement, and so Concentration went out the window anyway. But, I suppose that’s nothing a quick dip into fire stance can’t fix, perhaps. Most levers seem to rely on roughly 18, so I suppose a 14 with a Bull’s Strength potion can’t hurt at the bottom wouldn’t hurt for certain numbers, at least before I can equip an actual +4 item later on, for certain levers, and possibly boss fights.

        Will take some time for me to adjust to some of that, I guess, but should be fun, all the same. I think I have a pretty good idea of where to go with all of this, now.

        In any case, you’ve given quite a bit here. I’ll have to reflect on some of this before I roll that character up.

  6. Kavatch5.2
    Jan 15, 2014 @ 19:46:57

    Oh man… Sword art online; it’s one of those things where there are people who love it and people who hate it with no real in between. For me the hate started about when the made the big baddie of the second arc a literal fairy, who’s epic duel with the protagonist was all of 10 seconds.

    • John B.
      Jan 16, 2014 @ 05:55:35

      To be fair, the second game was all about fairies, and there were 2 fights with the antagonist. Even the end fight in SAO was kind of anti-climatic.

      Now, for SAO, personally, I find that the second arc was just not as strong as the first. The first had an awful lot going for it, and even went to show off just how people play MMO’s, even showing Kirito and others grinding for levels and some moron trying to rush the boss for a rare item, and another group willing to PK for rare items. If the entire series ended on episode 14, with possibly an epilogue going about what happened, it’d have been pretty much perfect. But, oh well.

      SAO is actually coming out with another arc sometime this year.

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