The Dojo Seals its Doors…Temporarily

They've come.

They’ve come.

The extraplanar portal’s swirling maw appeared a day ago, near the meditation pond. Shavarath’s legions began pouring out, bearded devils and roaring orthons with tieflings and other foul creatures of that accursed plane.

It was Ryncletica that spotted the invasion first. Applying the Diversion technique to slow the surprise attack by drawing the invaders to a false hate-generator, she was able to alert others to help before she become overwhelmed.

The many students swarmed the glade and were able to push back and stop the initial invasion for most of the day and night.

A second portal arrived early the next morning.

“There are too many, teacher Syncletica!” Quintessica shouted to me, her mystical quarterstaff a blurred spinning shaft of fire and force that slammed into several devils. Lynncletica protected Quin’s back, stunning and Jading enemies, knocking them back with a seemingly endless applications of the Drifting Lotus.

“Who did you piss off?” shouted Kiricletica in Ryncletica’s general direction. Those two always blame the other for fights that go badly as a matter of sport.

Szyncletica, our shuriken master, stood where she could see both portals. Her arm whirled in a continual deadly spiral through the air, spitting shurikens to destroy anything that escaped the portal perimeters. I stood behind Szyn to kill what few enemies could bypass her star attacks.

Kiricletica and Ryncletica teamed up with younger students at the second portal when a third portal appeared.

I halted myself from gasping and kept my focus, assaying the situation as the old master taught me, hoping I would draw the same conclusion I would if he stood here.

I decided. We were a disciplined and skilled monastery. But we could not fight this storm–only weather it.

I dispatched a handful of enemies while working back towards the main doors of our home. “Ninja team: Diversion at each portal on my mark,” I shouted. “All others, prepare to retreat. We are cloistering!”

With little else said, the three ninja instantly separated and sprinted to a portal, cutting down anything in their path as the hordes closed in and the other monks ran to the dojo.

Quintessica knew what I needed. First to enter  the dojo, she dropped her staff, sat in the center of our large shrine room and began her meditation.

I counted to 30, then shouted “Mark!” to the ninja. They applied their Diversion techniques almost simultaneously, drawing all the enemies towards their intimidating dummy duplicates  while cloaking each ninja in shadow to aid their escape. If their timing had been too far off, more than a few demons or devils would have spotted our ploy and teleported at the retreating students or even inside the dojo itself.

“Everybody! In!”

Ryn and Kiri were at the door fastest, running hundreds of meters in a few seconds. Szyn ran backwards, picking up any stragglers not attracted by their false fighters. A few wounded students moved slower to shelter and I and Lynn ran out to pull them in.

More than a few small glowing soulstones littered our glade-turned-battlefield. We couldn’t save them now.

As Szyncletica entered, I shouted, “Now, Quin! Seal the dojo!” Lynncletica and Ryncletica disappeared with a couple of others to close and bolt every door and window.

An ominous hum grew near my hand as I began to close the last door. Several shuriken from Szyncletica and two others flew by my face a hairsbreadth away, killing a devil trying to enter through the waning crack of the door.

As they were trained to do, everyone else sat in concentric circles around the meditating Quintessica and began to meditate as well. Quin groaned a bit as her focus reached its peak and her consciousness moved out.

A sudden cold warmth spread through us all, amplified by the circle. The energy quickly enveloped the entire building in a what would look like a scintillating and impenetrable green globe of energy to anything outside. Candle flames throughout our home that glowed an encouraging white-orange now turned blue, burning and sparking in fits and starts. The air hung about us, lifeless and stagnant.

Quin sat motionless, her skin stony as a rest shrine. Something about her body shifted to my eyes, as if she became translucent as well as unfocused, phasing between a here and a there.

“Globe of Jade,” Quintessica once called it–an emergency technique she learned in her esoteric Mystic training that pulled our location into two planes of existence simultaneously, making it impossible for anyone standing in any one plane to enter as long as the meditation lasted.

The hellish legions of Shavarath could not enter. But, sealed inside like figures inside an ornamental globe, no one inside our home could leave.

Lynncletica moved to my side. “How long do you think we can last here?” she whispered.

“As long as we must, Lynn,” I said. “As long as we can.”

That dramatic tale of my dojo of Monks trapped by Shavarath armies is my more enjoyable way to tell everyone that my game computer is offline for the moment, felled by the demons of overheating.

I share it as my work computer and am hopeful to have it repaired or replaced soon. I’ve got a few general posts stored up to publish while I cannot play.

 

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A Monastic Video Showcase

Please stand by.

Please stand by.

After posting videos demonstrating the Heroic level and Epic Shiradi Shuricannon, I was reminded of times where differing opinions at least or flame wars at most occur on the DDO forums on what build or what class(es) and abilities will do this and that.

One thread long ago on the Henshin Mystic turned that way but it caught my ire because the dissenting poster, all the while stating that unarmed damage beats quarterstaff damage, also admitted to having not played a Mystic.

Now, I don’t claim in the slightest to creating or possessing characters that are the optimal for anything except for how I like to play. But my Monks don’t suck outright and do a good job of the one thing they’re meant to do: complete a quest or raid.

But I took offense to that poster because it was clear that their min-maxing multiclassing worldview completely dismissed the idea that something else could possibly work. I’m used to this with the Henshin Mystic. As I’ve said in past posts, I’m likely the only comprehensive resource so far (here and in The Book of Syncletica) on defining the Henshin Mystic class based on its enhancement tree, given it’s only been around for yet quite a year.

Rather than get into a debate of words, I realized I have to apply a social truism: “Pictures or it didn’t happen.”

So I’ll add some moving pictures–they’ll be worth hundreds of thousands of words.

Over the next few weeks I’ll add demonstration videos of the pure Ninja Spy, Henshin Mystic and Shintao Monk, each showing my interpretation of each class’s gameplay. Doing this also exposes my personal style, which you may or may not like.

I’ll choose a quest that illustrates their specialities. For a Shintao, it’ll be a brawling quest where undead, aberrations and extraplanar creatures roost. For a Ninja Spy, it may be a quest where a singular objective requires stealth, cunning and tactics to complete. Lastly, it will be Quintessica that will show what I think the developers had in mind, based on the class tree, of what a Mystic can do with a quarterstaff and their mystical ki powers.

Class trees are simply a launching point for players. There’s no point whatsoever in making a Mystic or any other class using only the racial tree and abilities from only one class tree. A Mystic or Shintao that adds in Shadow Veil for incorporeality miss-chance is going to stand a pounding better, as well as a Ninja Spy that adds in abilities from other trees to improve its attack or defense. None of my characters use only the abilities of their class tree.

That said, the purpose of the demo videos is to help new players decide what playstyle they might consider based on the class tree’s innate skills. It never means that a Shintao can’t use a bow or a Ninja Spy can’t use a staff or a Mystic not use handwraps. Versatility is important. However, effectiveness based on your skills makes sense economically for the action points you spend.

Most importantly, the videos can show what the class does flat out–a good illustrative video for players new to the Monk (the exact purpose of the Monk guide). Shintao Monks are self-healing stun-bot goddesses that are hard to kill. Ninja Spies can avoid half of an army to assassinate with deft blade work or unarmed fighting with a deadly skill set. And a Mystic can take on mobs like Neo takes on an army of Agent Smiths using a metal staff.

So, coming soon, I’ll finally make that video of Mystic Quintessica doing her “Burly Brawl.” Later, Lynncletica, the “Little Mountain” will go where Archons fear to tread, perhaps against an army of devils. Lastly, Kiricletica can represent the Ninja Spies somewhere.

If possible, these movies will get linked into their respective chapters in the Monk guide.

Much later, I’ll give the same treatment to the Elven Arcane Archer Monk and a Kensei Fighter I’m working on.

Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa

mea-culpaThe Monk guide and this blog have one author. I prefer to call myself the “editor” of the guide because what I write there isn’t really my work.

Both guide and blog contain a lot of my experience, sure, but it’s also experience from other players as discussed in the DDO forums, player videos, observed gameplay, the DDO Wiki, and comments from blog posts.

But none of that assures or guarantees that anything written is completely accurate, although I strive for this.

The need for accuracy is obvious. A game is a simulation. If the variables (say, the length of the Death Ward buff from the Visor of the Flesh Render Guards) are described in error (the buff lasts 10 minutes), then you, the player, honestly reading something as a resource, will be disappointed to find that the buff is only 7 minutes.

The Monk guide has been around for about 2 years now in its present form. I had written a private guide from my guildmates over a year before that. Making the guide public meant that I needed to do one thing: swallow any pride in designing it.

If I were prideful in the guide’s usefulness or success, I would see it as a personal accomplishment. In situations like that, such things are then defended, right or wrong.

That’s not why I wrote the guide, or enter posts here.

The guide is meant to be as accurate and concise as I can make it with the limited time and resources I have at hand. If there’s any credit to be given, I accept it only as the editor of what existed out in the game world years before I showed up in most cases.

Despite my intentions, there has and will be times where I screw up information. A recent example came up through a DDO forums post where someone suggested to the devs to increase the XP bonuses for no-kill questing (Discreet, Devious and Insidious Cunning). Most responses argued against the idea (although I thought that Cunning should go from 10 to 15% but never be higher). The subject train derailed a little to how such bonuses are attained and why. I referred to my post that casually contrasted the Rogue Assassin with the Ninja Spy, where I clearly admitted a lot of bias but wanted to be as fair as I could with any data I could sort from the DDO Wiki.

That post came and went–until I reposted the link on this thread.

And not only did a couple site some glaring errors in my comparison (such as Assassins gaining vorpal with sneak attacks at level 18), one poster chose to insult my credibility and make it personal with a disrespectful response I made to another poster to a question asked in another, unrelated thread.

My “Lawful Good” nature is my actual personality. I’ll slay real trolls as quickly as the game versions. I was this close to reporting the post to the forum administrator before I remembered that this is the Easter season, where forgiveness should be greatly emphasized.

Besides, my reaction to the disrespectful comment was probably borderline as well. I barely kept my pride in check.

So what you can get from all that is this: the guide is a public document to me. It’s strength comes from lots of feedback to keep it as accurate as possible. I’m just one of the players, not a Turbine developer and certainly not a subject matter expert or uber player.

Blog entries are less studious and often discuss my reactions, observations and discoveries in gameplay.

Blog entries may also be less accurate because of the more immediate nature of writing them as I desire, rather than due to a need.

I apologize to anyone if anything written here or in guide has not generated the results expected. However, and this is important, I need your comments, criticisms, even complaints, to fix any errors you find. I primarily play one class, and so discussions about other classes might stretch my limits. Just be civil when you respond back. I write and compile all of this out of joy in the game, and I want the work to reflect back to other players to aid them.

The guide will be a poor reference without your feedback. Take the time to help correct me and you’ll have a better reference to use or even recommend to others.

A little update: I think the poster and I are burying the hatchet in that he asked me my viewpoint in a private message. I know he’s a great player but he’s genuinely amazed at my worldview. So I don’t want to make the issue seem too out of hand.

Epic Shuricannon: Nothing Comes Close

SzynTR1-L22I posted a demo run of the Shiradi Shuricannon at high Heroic levels to demonstrate the build’s basics.

As an Epic character, the ‘Cannon’s training in Shiradi, along with some ninja happiness, can be summed up in one phrase: Nothing comes close.

You can take that in both senses of the meaning.

The Shiradi effects, for those unfamiliar, add interesting elemental effects around 7% of the time that add area-of-effect and direct damage to targets using ranged attacks. It doesn’t matter what kind of ranged attack you use; even magic works (thus the popularity of the Shiradi Sorcerers).

Now, a 7% chance for an effect to go off (“proc”) doesn’t sound like much.

Well, then, you have to look at the Shuricannon’s basic design. Here’s a screenshot of Szyncletica’s character sheet (above).

Here you see that DEX is very, very heavy. That’s because DEX determines both damage and to-hit for a Ninja Spy. Also, the DEX is also the percentage of a second shuriken through from both Shuriken Expertise (granted as a Drow) and Advanced Ninja Training. As an Epic character, Szyn and her kind normally throw 2-3 stars per attack at the minimum with this ability.

The typical ranged feats (Rapid Shot, Quick Draw) also help thrown stars per second.

Ultimate Wind Stance adds 15% to that throwing speed.

And then, we add Shiradi’s Whirling Wrists: up to 60% increase to that throwing speed.

But wait, there’s more.

Use Spelltouched Shuriken for greater raw damage and additional crazy-random damage effects to go with Shiradi’s, and Green Steel for these special cases such as high-level demons and undead.

The result? Attack speed and damage so incredible that few things get close enough to hurt the Shuricannon before it mows them down.

Bonus training in Primal Avatar adds in Rejuvenation Cocoon for good self-healing and Shiradi’s Healing Spring for backup.

For burst damage, Ten Thousand Stars adds extra stars based on the WIS modifier.

I’ve soloed the Devil Battlefield quests except for Genesis Point (where I needed a hireling) to gain enough favor for Yugoloth (“Yugo”) potions. They give a +2 stacking stat bonus but with a tradeoff. Also available are DDO stat elixirs that do the same but without a tradeoff. That’s another +4 to essential stats if required for damage and defense (DEX/WIS).

The summation: The Epic Shuricannon, while perhaps having fewer types of versatility that a “Monkcher” might have, is perhaps the best thrown-weapon build anywhere. As Firewall, creator of the build, has argued time and again in his thread, while multiclassed builds using Halflings might get some benefits, they are offset by one thing or other that’s part of the Shuricannon’s success. You have to train in Shuriken proficiency and Expertise for non-Monk halflings. You lose the DEX to Damage effects, as well as the Drow’s shuriken competency training bonuses. The Drow/Monk spell resistance and Dodge is superior. Ninja Spy’s Shadow Veil adds high incorporeality and invisibility.

Multiclassing also means you lose a level 20 capstone. The Shuricannon’s capstone, as a pure Ninja Spy, is gaining Vorpal to any shuriken and other piercing and slashing ki weapons, as well as +2 DEX and (although still a nagging bug) increased critical threat range that should bring the crit range to as wide as 15-20.

To demonstrate, I’ve recorded two videos.

This first one is of Szyncletica managing the undead giant skeletons on the way to Garamol’s lair in the raid wilderness of the Subterrane. Fans of the blog know that Lynncletica, a Shintao tanker, is strong enough to farm this area, where no hirelings are allowed. But could a Ninja Spy, a class tree not designed with self-healing or undead attack proficiency do the same–and with only a throwing star? The answer comes from Szyn’s high DPS and one triple-positive Greater Disrupting shuriken that ends the CR 25 Garamol far faster than Lynncletica and with fewer resources expended.

The second video shows how Szyn handles a mob. A perfect place for this is the Underdark Arena challenge, “Fight to the Finish.” One ninja: one mob for 10 minutes or more–seems like a fair fight.

She owns a Level 20 Icy Bursting Improved Paralyzing star that halts most everything. Occasional hits of the Nerve Poison from Shiradi training and freezing from her Level 14 Frozen Tunic (still equipped on Epic) make for quite a dominating show. Improved Precise Shot ensures very heavy mob damage and crowd control. She uses a Onyx Panther to aid with aggro management a bit, healing it with Rejuvenation Cocoon as needed, but doesn’t rely on it.

I’ve directly uploaded these videos (trying once more to get the overall brightness correct with better success) for far better clarity, and am using Amara to add captioning, rather than using Windows Movie Mangler. Just click the CC button if you don’t see the captions on the Garamol run. The second video has no commentary: 1 movie = 1,000,000 words.

 

A Shuricannon Video

Szyn-Lailat

There are many fans of Firewall’s Shiradi Shuricannon, and I’m one of them.

Some skeptics posting in the thread asked if there were any video of the Shuricannon in action to see how the build worked.

Now there is. I’ve created a video of my then-L19 Szyncletica tearing through the Shavarath side of the Vale of Twilight and completing “Running with the Devils” on Hard difficulty.

“Devils” is actually nastier than other Shroud flagging quests and on par in difficulty with “Wrath of the Flame” from the Devil Battlefield. Why? Both quests have enemies that are Good-aligned with significant buffs and protections that thwart player weapons.

In the case of the Eladrin in this quest, they are superior enemies with Cold Iron damage reduction and are prolific spellcasters. If you don’t take their healers down fast, you’re going to get Divinely Punished for it.

Given the weapon limits of a Shuricannon, this seemed a short-enough quest to demo what it can do.

I note the ‘Cannon’s strengths, requirements, common equipment, weaknesses and rationale throughout the video. My primary weapon is a Green Steel Mineral II star to bypass the Eladrin and devil DR without issue. Even with the bug that caused Sting of the Ninja to stop working on shuriken with Update 21, Szyncletica still controls the dungeon.

Very shortly after this run, Szyn reached level 20. She reactivated her Shiradi Champion and Primal Avatar destinies, entered “Blown to Bits” on Hard difficulty and tore everything apart on a pure solo run. I took down the Fire Iron Golem optional boss faster than with any character I have as I could continually attack him without having to concern myself about his det-packs.

If you have any questions on the video, just comment. I’ll be linking this post to the Shuricannon thread as well, where you should post for specific questions on the build itself with his creator.

(I apologize for the video’s darkness. I did find a tweaking setting on YouTube that should make the video much clearer to see.)

April Fools on the DDO Forums

After a stressful day, what better way to laugh than to discuss how bacon brings joy to all--when it's "working as intended."

After a stressful day, what better way to laugh than to discuss how bacon brings joy to all–when it’s “working as intended.”

Catch it while it lasts.

I log in and find a new forum: “Bacon.”

Lots of subforums. And, with little prompting, everyone piles on to “complain” of bacon nerfing, why the bacon is missing from the Auction House, and other common complaints.

That was a nice touch, Cordovan and Pals. Thanks for the laugh!