Kyudo: My Dreams All Aquiver

Not all martial arts training requires a blade or empty hand.

Not all martial arts training requires a blade or empty hand.

Quintessica’s sitting form faded more as the hours passed. She maintained a barrier around the dojo, keeping it in a phased state, neither here or there, holding off an overwhelming Shavarath army that had injured many, forcing the school to retreat.

The Drow star-thrower Szyncletica watched the Henshin Mystic’s state. It was only a matter of time before Quintessica would be too exhausted to continue her meditation and her barrier would fall.

The school had one option left–and Szyn was the only one that knew it. Before she came to the dojo, Szyncletica was Szyn Dun’Robar, a daughter of House Dun’Robar in the depths of the Faerun world of the Underdark.

A potential matron mother, she was nearly assassinated but saved from harm and sent to the foreign realm of Eberron.

Since then, she’d joined Syncletica’s school and mastered her craft. In her travels she also met a few new friends of a familiar sort in this world of machines sometimes melded to magic. She taught them a few of her ways and gained knowledge of a few of theirs as well.

Just as the battle began, she had enough time to concentrate, sending a very short telepathic message to one of them, a half-elf that also befriended the same groups.

But inside the dojo, and with Quintessica’s effect in place, Szyn never had a chance to confirm if her message had been received.

She was about to find out.

The dojo shook suddenly, tilting and swaying as a cat clinging to a thin tree branch in a strong wind. “Can’t…maintain,” Quintessica hissed. “Be ready.” Szyn’s hand instinctively moved to her robe, grasping a shuriken inside. On touching it, the throwing star pulsated with ki energy.

The eerie blue-green hue within their school faded as the dojo fitfully settled back into its normal plane. The students all stood, each braced for battle as the colors and smells returned to normal. Quintessica dropped to the floor from her seated position, unconscious.

But there came no teleporting sounds of orthons or devils to ambush the weary school.

All seemed quiet, except to Szyncletica’s elven hearing. She heard a familiar outside commotion–the feather-sharp hiss of arrows in flight, followed by grunts and sighs from the targets they struck.

Teachers Syncletica and Lynncletica, their human hearing unable to discern what occurred, seemed confused. Szyn caught more than a few expressions of surprise and amusement from the few elven and half-elven students who also heard the noises. Then all went quiet, even to the elven ear.

The silence was abruptly shattered by a gentle series of knocks on the door, startling everyone.

“Hey! Everyone okay?” a voice called from outside.

Teacher Syncletica looked back at her senior teachers in puzzlement before she slowly opened the door.

“Sorry we’re late. Stopped for coffee,” said the tall red-haired woman, a single pointed ear standing out on one side of her head. She held a bow at rest in one hand, and twirled an arrow causally in the fingers of her second. She wore a practical blue robe with a few runes and adornments that marked her as a ki archer–a Monk trained in the bow.

“Pynthetica!” the Teacher shouted.

Szyncletica allowed herself a small grin as she watched the Teacher smile and clasp her old friend at the door by the shoulders. Moving forward, Szyn could see behind the arcane archer to the former battlefield.

Pyn stood in front of a small but heavily armed group of Vulkoorim and Raveneye Drow. Pyn heard Szyn’s call for help, and mustered a small but potent counter-strike force.

And quite an impressive one, at that. The portals outside were gone. A handful of Drow looted the bodies of the slain demon horde.

One tanned Drow archer standing closest to the half-elf walked towards Szyn. He did not bow. Once accustomed long ago to Drow males that showed subserviency at all times on approaching or addressing a female, Szyn had to remember that this world was not Faerun.

She relaxed her grip on her shuriken.

“Does your kind always get yourselves in trouble such as this?” the archer asked.

“No. Often it is much worse, Reki,” she said. She found herself making a small bow of greeting and thanks.

Reki looked about, his eyes narrowing. “You are the only Drow here?”

“One battle, one Drow,” she declared. “There were several battles, however, so I am pleased to see you brought others to partake.”

Reki nodded with a solemn acknowledgement of pride and control that only a true Drow would understand. Szyn chose her new allies well, she thought.

“Come, I will introduce you,” she said.

~~~

I bought a new computer for the home, ending my week-long sabbatical. The 21-inch screen of an iMac makes for stellar game play. While there is now a Mac client for DDO, I’m more fond of the abilities of the Windows client. A few hours of installing Windows 7 and the dojo has returned to the land of the living in epic, widescreen, maximum-settings color.

It’s been a bit since I’ve played with my archer, Pynthetica. Once a great human Ranger Arcane Archer, I decided to TR her into a Half-Elf Arcane Archer with Monk training.

Yes, I know. The forums are aflame (are they ever calm?) with “Monkchers are overpowered” rants. However, my character’s not multiclassing and isn’t trying for ULTIMATE UBER L33T DESTRUCTION. I’m just enjoying the game. Besides, I think my Shuricannon can be nastier than some bowcasters.

The side benefit is that I can use Pyn to define the Arcane Archer Monk chapter of the guide to help others in their builds of a single-class Monk with a bow. Her design fits more to the concept of the kyudo, the martial art of archery in Japan. It’s not necessarily “zen archery,” but you can adapt it to such, thanks to mastering ki with arcane energies.

A recent question on the DDO forums from a new player ready to make an Elven AA of their own made me realize I Have Goofed in my own build. Thankfully it wasn’t too late for me to correct Pyn’s feats as she nears level 8.

Dilettantes

The new enhancement trees allow any Elf or Half-Elf (not Drow, but seriously, they don’t need it) to add the Arcane Archer tree as part of their training. I made Pyn into a Monk but decided to take the Half-Elf: Cleric dilettante I’ve become quite fond of using for my other ninjas, Ryncletica, Kiricletica and Szyncletica.

That was a mistake.

I should’ve chosen Half-Elf: Ranger. This would give me martial proficiency for all ranged weapons right off (rather than adding in Weapon Proficiency for bows) as well as a little of what I like from the Cleric dilettante: the ability to use wands and scrolls. This limits me to Ranger spells and their smaller spell tree, but Pyn’s already used to that. Also, the Ranger dilly adds a Lesser Bow Strength, which adds damage from STR but at a lower number than the full feat of the same name.

A visit Fred fixed that one, freeing up a feat slot, deleting the longbow proficiency to add Quick Draw. That’s the one thing I miss here: Rangers gained so many granted ranged and melee feats automatically as they level.

Feats, Skills and Spells

With a more appropriate dilly comes more spells. I liked Pyn’s independence with Ranger spells, few but useful. Now, hopefully, I can keep some of that versatility.

Healing won’t be as convenient by using scrolls, but at least it’ll work. Some Ranger spells are going to be lost, like Freedom of Movement.

In place of Manyshot will be Ten Thousand Stars, which has a longer effect and takes advantage of a high WIS score.

Points to Hide and Move Silently are necessary, but Spot was Pyn’s happy skill stat in the past and will be again–now improved now as an elven character. Concentration is still absolutely required for any Monk. A little Jump and a point to Tumble completes the mix.

Archer Training

I’m careful to what additional abilities I pick from the Monk enhancement trees. If I’m going to be a serious archer as the dominant weapon, action points in AA are a priority. But so are other Monk enhancements, as I note in a moment.

Unlike Szyn, Pyn’s attack diversity will make her formidable in many locations. I should be able to use various arrow imbues to good effect. She needs burst attacks, and that’s where Ten Thousand Stars will add, later.

I cannot remember how attack speed improves on archers who aren’t Rangers. I’m hoping it’s a matter of Base Attack Bonus or DEX or leveling. If anyone can enlighten me, I’d appreciate it.

Monk Training

Monk training adds the defenses and special close-fighting training Pyn might need.

Being a dark Monk, Ninja Training and Advanced Ninja Training allow any piercing/slashing melee weapon to use DEX for both damage and to-hit. Bows don’t count here. But Zen Archery (needed for keeping the bow as a centered weapon) allows me to pump WIS up for more ki, gain damage from the WIS modifier and have a chance to shoot more arrows with Ten Thousand Stars in use. A little ninja training gives Pyn the option to apply poison and have a simple two-shortsword weapon option. If I can get one Two-Weapon Fighting feat trained, I will add it.

Pyn will also have the WIS DCs to pull off superior paralyzing attacks should the need arise.

I hope to add the Ninja Spy’s Faster Sneaking into the mix but also fully-trained Stealthy and Contemplation from the Mystic tree for +2 passive ki regeneration since ranged attacks don’t generate ki. As she gets stronger, Pyn will also sit in Ocean Stance at all times for it’s +1 passive regeneration, saves, Dodge and WIS bonus. That high WIS should really help Pyn have enough ki for anything she desires. Meditation and Wholeness of Body will help a lot in self-sufficiency, too.

I’m prioritizing feats to the ranged side of Pyn so I’m relying on the stock granted Monk feats to help when she needs to fight hand-to-hand. This will make Pyn a bit stronger than her previous self in melee, I think, especially with monastic skills such as Abundant Step.

She should be able to use shuriken well, not as superior as Szyn but perhaps better than Kiricletica since Pyn will train ranged feats, some which work with thrown weapons. So, when slashing options and Ninja Poisoning is a better tactic, Pyn will carry a few named stars.

Hopefully there’s enough points to get Shadow Veil somewhere in this build for incorporeality.

Equipment

Pyn’s collection of light armor in her Resurrection Cache is going to stay there if not eventually be sold before her next TR since Monks don’t do armor. A Quicksilver Cassok is her current attire on reaching level 8.

She still possesses some of the nicest bows in the game and should wield them well.

Playstyle

Long before Szyncletica came along, I learned my ranged tactics with Pyn. But now Szyn and the enhancement changes might help Pyn be a stronger archer, although she’ll level her skills slower than other AAs (she won’t get her last two core abilities until levels 22 and 22 if I recall).

As Szyn pumped DEX, WIS will be Pyn’s magic. Ten Thousand Stars has a shorter cooldown than Manyshot. DEX is quite important for qualifying for Improved Precise Shot, reflex saves and, I think, to-hit.

I’ve taken Pyn through quite a few of the lower quests and she’s doing quite well. But she’s looking much better now, thanks to one new player who may not realize that he helped me far more than I helped him.

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mercure
    May 05, 2014 @ 13:48:19

    Zen Archery lets you use your Wisdom bonus to hit with bows if it’s higher than Dex. The only other significant Dex benchmark you might want, that I can think of, is 21 for the Combat Archery epic feat.

    • teachersyn
      May 05, 2014 @ 14:14:27

      That’s what I thought. Extra DEX won’t hurt for that feat as well as better AC and reflex. Thanks for clarifying that. A zen archer is tricky balance.

  2. erdrique
    May 05, 2014 @ 14:39:48

    Congrats on the new computer!! Look forward to hearing the process with Pyn :)!!

  3. Trackback: Zen and the Art of Stunning a Giant Senseless | The Order of Syncletica
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