Too Much Swash, Not Enough Buckler

Stale rank air greeted the adventurer’s party as it stepped into the sewers.

After a few seconds of preparation, most of the adventurers charged forward, reckless, in haste and raged. But one small halfling took the hindmost. She’d been burned before by overzealous party members.

Huge spiders leapt from crevasses and from dark perches overhead, immediately overwhelming and surprising those ahead of her. These spiders were so massive that the halfling could conceivably put a harness and saddle on one and ride it back to Stormreach.

Several party members faded back immediately, bitten by the poisonous spiders. A lone healer struggled to remove poisons and heal while others defended her.

“Amateurs,” Flynncletica muttered to herself. She hummed a little, channelling a little bardic power to add blurriness and health to a couple of the struggling party members.

One spider broke from the group and charged.

But she didn’t raise her sword arm. Flynn leaned back a bit to brace herself and moved her left arm ahead.

First thing these bugs will do is to try to bite you, she recalled. Block, and I avoid getting poisoned.

The spider’s fangs met the tiny shield with a loud crack. Droplets of venom spattered harmlessly away. Flynn’s feet slid backward on the slight slipperiness of the grimy sewer floor.

Not only did her shield block avoid the spider’s bite, the monster moved too quickly against the swashbuckler’s defenses, collapsing to the stone floor on all eight legs, knocking itself down.

Flynn’s sword arm seized the brief opportunity, the rapier assailing the prone spider like the sting of an angry hornet.

In moments, the heart of the spider had beat its last, having never scored a single hit against the small swashbuckler.

One down, ten spiders to go. Flynncletica advanced into the outskirts of the fray to join her comrades.

~ ~ ~

A favorite show I like to (re)watch while gaming is Log Horizon.

I’ve already gushed enough about the show here. What brought it to mind as I’ve been playing with my new Swashbuckler character, Flynncletica, involves how the role-play nature of the film and TV swashbuckler meshes with the combat actions of the gamer’s version as well as how swashbuckling appears in other media.

The new class lets me reminiscence a little. I took a Fencing course in college and vividly remember how it greatly differs from the cinematic style and how fun it was to fight realistically with rapiers. Hint: You’re supposed to stab somebody.

I also remember how many times I lost the skin from my hands and arms from duels, despite protections. All that showmanship in cinema won’t do a thing for me in my fights in DDO, but the Bard has a few ways to make a little quasi-cinematic magic in the game.

Faking It

Will SOMEBODY just stab someone already?!

Will SOMEBODY just stab someone already?!

One thing that’s quite sure in Flynncletica’s world is that “Flynning” is not going to happen (despite her name).

For those too lazy to click the TV Tropes link, “Flynning” is how sword fights are normally shown–badly simulated, where the actors are basically slapping their blades at each other, never quite seeming to try to actually poke or slice each other.

The Jedi/Sith fights in the Star Wars movies were a more kendo-style version of Flynning, but at least they were trying to hit each other with better fight choreography in the later films. But I loathe most other sword fight films because this trope is quite common there.

The new Swashbucklers in DDO must attack for damage, not just flail their weapon about. While blocking is a good idea, there’s not much time often in attack/riposte/attack/riposte, and blocks are done by your shield (if any), not a sword. It’s a go-for-the-jugular combat. There’s also size and strength limits. You couldn’t do Flynning against an angry giant with a club as large as you are.

That said, the DDO Swashbuckler gets an interesting ability where enemies that miss you in melee have a 20% chance of knocking themselves down. A run through Splinterskull turned funny as I watched spiders drop to all fours–er…eights–as they missed me and fell, allowing for a quicker kill.

Talking Your Attacker Into Being Stupid

Nyanta from "Log Horizon." Poised. Elegant, Quntessential swordplay. Bonus points in taking down a Monk, too.

Nyanta from “Log Horizon.” Poised. Elegant, Quintessential swordplay. Bonus points in taking down a Monk, too.

Nyanta, a statuesque were-cat in Log Horizon, is a type of swashbuckler. His class in this game-turned-reality gets to dual-wield two rapiers.

As the show narration notes (often explaining their game-now-reality combat and spell mechanics), the LH Swashbuckler’s swift attacks will damage a character’s stats, lowering Dodge and defenses.

And Nyanta has no problem in using his gentlemanly cat-speak to question your fighting style and perhaps your questionable upbringing while he slices and pierces you to death.

As a Bard, Flynncletica’s powers often buff allies rather than debuff. I’m enjoying one debuffing ability: Cutting Jibes. It’s a taunt that lowers nearby enemy Will saves by 3, which make Charm spells easier to land.

I’m training Flynn to be a master Charmer, to cause chaos by charming as many enemies to my side to reduce attacks on me and my party while I concentrate on other targets.

One nasty fight you’d likely recall occurs in the latter part of “Come Out and Slay” in the Sharn Syndicate chain. Fighters, mages, bards, archers are all lining your escape path and will swarm you fast if you try the direct approach.

Flynn took the high road, charming as many enemies while above the path as she could to keep the aggro off the party and whittle down the enemy’s own attacks with their own kin, making for an easy victory.

I’m quickly learning that the Perform skill is just as critical for a good Bard as the Concentration skill is to a Monk.

The Finesse of the Blade

Fandral, as seen in "Thor: The Dark World," keeps a dagger handy as he fights dark elves. Can't say I blame him. Elves be tricksy.

Fandral, as seen in “Thor: The Dark World,” keeps a dagger handy as he fights dark elves. Can’t say I blame him. Elves be tricksy.

And then there’s Fandral, the swashbuckling Asgardian in the Thor movie series and comics. Modeled after Errol Flynn, Fandral uses a rapier to fight ridiculously powerful enemies.

Fandral’s fighting style (the side dagger in the promo site ignored) is supported in DDO: You can wield only a blade in your main-hand and nothing in your off-hand. If you do so, you can gain 10% to Doublestrike (or Doubleshot if you’re using a thrown weapon).

You may also use a buckler (a very small shield, as Flynncletica uses) and gain 10% Dodge as a result, or use a Orb or Rune Arm if you are trained with more arcane or arcano-mechanical savvy, gaining spell power or spell point benefits, once you train the appropriate ability.

Fandral’s fight power is also reflected in DDO. As noted in the last post, the new Single Weapon Fighting line of feats increases attack speed and damage tremendously as you train them. Several abilities in the Swashbuckler tree allow power strikes with your weapon for greater damage to go with SWF.

There are many rapiers in DDO, so Flynn has many types to use for specific needs.

Bringing a Knife to a Gunfight

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Why sufficient skills can allow you to bring a (large) knife to a gunfight.

Obi-Wan Kenobi: Why sufficient skills can allow you to bring a (large) knife to a gunfight.

As with other melee fighters, a Swashbuckler must endure any ranged attacks.

The DDO version can train an ability to add Deflect Arrows to their defenses, effectively ignoring one attack every 6 seconds. But ranged attacks also include magic attacks, which gets trickier depending on your race or build.

By level 20, the Eberron Swashbuckler gains Evasion from their last core enhancement ability to help. Before then, it’s up to their saving throws and whatever Spell Resistance they have to withstand magic. If Flynn were a Drow (she’s a Halfling) she’d gain innate spell resistance to ward off magic attacks that aren’t direct attacks, such as Holds.

As a Bard, she’ll be able to train the Freedom of Movement spell to resist such attacks. I’m already missing the high saves of a Monk. I was in a party in “Redfang,” in the poison trap room, when a Monk in party daintily sprinted past me, activating the trap, avoiding any damage, but causing Flynn her first death as the poison struck with a toxic plume at point-blank range.

As for nastier melee attacks, the Swashbuckler gets training bonuses to Dodge to help in miss chances. Unlike a Monk, however, a typical swashbuckler is wearing light armor, which will limit the amount of DEX applied to Armor Class and which also hinders the maximum Dodge Bonus they can possess. Halfling training should help here with Improved Dodge for me, and the class tree also gives Uncanny Dodge through a core ability.

Bards are great with Concealment effects. I Blurred myself happily at low levels and now can add Displacement for a brief 50% level of protection. The weakest effect will be Incorporeality, which I’d likely have no greater than 10% with an item with Ghostly applied. The higher-end Ring of Shadows or Treads of Falling Shadow can add this.

The Role-Play with Countermeasures

I find myself often settling into a certain stance, just before a fight, with each character. The ninjas are always in stealth. The Shintao Monks stand in active attack.

I like to put Flynn’s buckler up immediately, and wait.

As I noted, I don’t see many people actively blocking. They should. Active blocking gives them instant protection against a certain amount of damage, harsh weapon effects such as Maladroit, Crippling and Wounding, even against poison attacks and spells like Bane.

The enemy AIs aren’t that diverse. After a time, you’ll know that a certain enemy starts their attacks with a debuff, or a charging attack. It’s also why the Balance skill is required for the Swashbuckler so that they can stay upright against things, or at least get up from being prone faster.

A charging Swashbuckler, in my experience so far, is a dying one. Let the prey come to you. Let them make the first move, then swat things down that dare to duel like the flies that they are.

That shield can also be used for attacks with a shield bash. The Swashbuckler gets Low Blow, a special attack that simulates a shield bash (the character doesn’t make the actual motion) that  knocks down an enemy based on a Perform skill DC. While slower than the Monk’s Stunning Fist, the Low Blow is very reliable so far, moreso than Stunning Blow.

Combining Low Blow with a later instant-kill attack, Coup de Grace, a Swashbuckler in defensive mode is more dangerous than a rampaging one. Doesn’t seem that Coup de Grace is working as well as it should and might be bugged.

Gear in The Crystal Cove

There are so few bucklers out there for better defenses that it makes the returning shuriken-hunting game seem very, very easy. As  I might have noted before, there are precisely two named non-crafted bucklers in the game, and both are Epic level: the Barnacled Buckler and the humorous-looking Kobold Admiral’s Tiller. The only other is the confusingly-named “Swashbuckler,” a buckler in several flavors based on your crafting ingredients from the Crystal Cove event.

As if Turbine read my mind, the Cove reopened, through the American Independence Day holiday weekend on July 6th.

I’ve built a level 8, 12 and 20 version of the shield, upgrading the 8 and 12 versions so far. The tier-3 Epic version adds Insightful Dexterity with a blue augment slot, along with the high 6% doublestrike, Reposte and Guardbreaking effects.

I love Guardbreaking. It’s a dazing effect that works on most everything, undead included, allowing me several free attacks.

Farming the Cove has been fairly easy at Level 9 or so, even making solo runs with one hireling to farm for dragonshards. Flynn is a great room clearer.

I’ve also a ton of higher-level gems to get to work on that Epic Swashbucker from past runs. And Pynthetica’s old closet of things from her Ranger life has yielded an Epic Duelist’s Leathers, light armor that’s highly recommended by those in the Swashbuckler discussion threads for it’s improved Maximum Dexterity and Armor bonuses.

Playing Monks for so long, I’ve been used to easy Dodge numbers. With any kind of armor, that’s limited without some special adjustments. Being a Halfling, I have a couple of racial skills that could help this, too.

The First-Lifer Blues

Experience points are so ample that Flynn seems to gain XP just by merely logging in! Almost all of my action points have gone solely into the Swashbuckler tree and I haven’t regretted that at all yet. But I’m still a Bard neophyte and need to improve several abilities to ensure my charms work when I need them for most anything as well as some party crowed control.

But I’m stumped a bit. Reading through the Warchanter and Spellsinger trees, I had no idea what might be better for a melee-oriented Bard. Forum threads suggested Warchanter is more inclined for me, and so have begun adding a few points there, cautiously.

 

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The Singing Sword of Destruction

The HELLS is this, Syn? This doesn't look like a Monk! Have you been enjoying too much incense or something?

The HELLS is this, Syn? This doesn’t look like a Monk! Have you been meditating over too much incense or something?

My blog’s primary goal is a reflection on all things about the Monk class in Dungeons & Dragons Online. Often the posts I share are meant as extensive discussion and analysis of general abilities, prestige tracks and builds that the Monk can utilize. Such discussion would clog up the Book of Syncletica guide itself and would also be too subjective.

There have been a few new things that’s entered into our virtual world of Eberron to pull my attention away from the monastic for a time.

It might surprise some people to know that not all of my characters are Monks. I have an Artificer, still in her first life and used primarily for Cannith Crafting. I have two Rogues, one an Acrobat in her first life and a very young Assassin. There’s also a halfling Cleric.

But many of the other non-monks have been re-rolled as I needed a new slot for a character idea. A paladin, bard, Cleric-Monk, Rogue-Monk and sorcerer have met an early demise out of lack of interest or poor, irreparable building.

I’ve really, really wanted to enjoy more of the magical classes but Artificer has been the closest I’ve come to doing so.

And then came something new with Update 22 that I just had to try.

The Swashbuckler

DDO’s concept of this single-bladed scoundrel did not take much inspiration from the SRD versions or official tabletop concepts. Because of DDO’s live-combat format. low role-play and Epic quests and raids, the DDO Swashbuckler needed a lot more attack power and versatility. In short, the D&D Swashbuckler is more role-play oriented with simple but highly effective fighting rules. The DDO Swashbuckler must be a master with the single blade almost to Jedi Knight caliber.

I enjoyed a Swashbuckler version long ago in Neverwinter Nights 2. This version (and all of the D&D rules and designs I’ve found online) used a Rogue as the base class. Makes sense, given that a Rogue is…well, roguish, with that swagger and bravado and versatility you’d expect to see in such a character.

But DDO moved in a different direction. Rather than Rogue, their version is geared primarily for Bards.

It’s not a bad idea. In DDO as with D&D, Bards truly are a support class. They are weak in attack but can greatly augment a party’s attacks, buffs and strong in crowd control. But that was about it.

When Epic levels came along, the Bard gained the Fatesinger epic destiny, yet it, too, seemed more of the same: A series of abilities that supported its arcane songs and buffs but with lower attack than other destinies.

And so, perhaps to help this class with greater overall attack power, this new class tree came into being…although not without a lot of player criticism and advice after the developers announced it and asked for comments during its development.

But kudos to the developers; they listened very intently to all players and tweaked the class tree for a solid balance and an enticing reason to choose Single Weapon Fighting over Two Weapon Fighting. You cannot have both; the new feat is mutually exclusive to the TWF feats.

Now, a disclaimer: I know Monks. I know very little about Bards except in gameplay with others. That said, my guild leaders and a few officers have Bards I watch often in play, so I know their abilities. I’m sure that many of you may have multiclassed in the past to generate a better fighter out of a Bard than the stock L20 Bard.

But, as I tend to do with Monks, I’m going to explore how strong the single-class Bard can become with the new Swashbuckler tree.

In Like Flynn

My character naming convention is clear. My Monks have the -(c)letica style nomenclature exclusively (Pynthetica was an early exception as my 2nd character rolled; she was first a Ranger before her current life as a Zen Archer Monk). All my other characters had names often starting with an “A” (a tribute to my mother, who named all her children with “K” names).

But I thought that this character had enough potential to stay to be worthy of my monastic convention. So the name I chose was an in-joke to an existing name (Lynncletica) but also as a reference to Errol Flynn, the late actor renowned for many swashbuckling films in the pre-WWII era.

FlynncleticaMeet Flynncletica.

She’s fresh off the boat and taken only to level 4 with Veteran I status so I could appreciate most of the low-level quests and understand more of the Bard class in a crash-course of early levels.

That said, Flynn is already a terrifyingly powerful melee fighter. With her Starter Rapier and about 10 action points used, she can Blur and heal herself, throw out a few useful bard songs while ripping quick, deadly holes into everything she’s encountered so far.

The keys to Flynn’s power comes from two components. The Single Weapon Fighting ability, among other effects, adds a 10% Combat Style melee and ranged alacrity bonus as well as Doublestrike and Doubleshot from the Swashbuckling stance (should I care to use a repeating crossbow or bow).

Note the distinction of that alacrity bonus. I immediately crafted a reusable trinket with the 10% melee alacrity as an Enhancement bonus.

These effects stacked. I had a level 4 character with 4% Doublestrike and 20% melee alacrity.

Later feats in the Single Weapon Fighting line raise the melee alacrity to 30% Combat Style bonus with greater damages to boot. Does that mean that Flynn could have a 40% total increase in melee alacrity? Yes. Yes, it does.

Equipment

Sadly, there are very, very few named bucklers, the smallest of the shields, in the game. The best ones are Epic versions (and are quite cool looking). The only Heroic version is from the Crystal Cove event, called (not surprisingly) the “Swashbuckler.”

Aside from the general protection that a shield provides, I’d like to see more with Riposte effects. In the NWN2 version, any missed attack gave my character an immediate counter-attack. Riposte (as well as other tree effects) can add more of this. There are a couple of similar effects that generate damage on missed attacks.

My current buckler has 1% Doublestrike, which stacks with the Swashbuckler’s innate bonuses.

I may need to craft a bit.

I love the look and feel of the rapier and I’m going to stick with this weapon type throughout Flynn’s life, occasionally swapping out a recently-looted Everbright rapier for oozes and rust monsters. Plenty of good weapons for Bards exist, including the Spider Spike, the Elyd Edge (my Bard-savvy guild leader advised me to get this one to regenerate my bard songs using its Anthem effect), the Turbulent Epee, the heavy Dueling Schlager, Sheridan’s RuinNuushmaar’s Adamantine Tooth, and Tyrzza’s Bane, to name a few.

Light armor should be sufficient for Flynn, and there’s more of that good stuff in-game than I need to mention here.

As for other essentials that Bards should have, I’ll need lots of advice and experimentation.

Training

I took some pointers from two threads on the general build. As much as I’d love to add in the halfling dragonmark (good tip, Geoff), I can see that I’ll be pretty feat starved and would be better off adding healing or defensive spells as I went along.

Based on one poster’s very helpful answer, I focused on combat (DEX) but will be adding as much CHA as I can to whip out anything that slows down at least smaller crowds.

Flynn, like most Bards, is not meant to solo, I think. I have to keep a meat shield handy. I’ve had a blast running this character with guildmates and might–just might–even join in a PUG or two. I’ve also looked more at the Monte Cristo build ideas for better Bardesque crowd controls in whatever I can apply to Flynn.

I’m studying what Warchanter tree abilities can improve Flynn’s attack and CC powers. Advice is appreciated.

Gameplay

One thing that DDO players don’t do nearly as often as they should is block. We have shields, true, but often they’re there for off-hand effects and general passive protections.

I plan to block and often. I plan to start off defensively, letting the enemy’s first attack go into my shield (with miss effects activating as they might) before I pummel him with several Swashbuckler attacks while also letting any Riposte or guard effects hurt him more. I find shield bashing quite handy as well. I suspect you really can’t just hold down your Attack button as often as a swashbuckler if you want to triumph.

As Flynn gains in power, I’ll enjoy some Bard crowd controls, choking attacks in doorways and narrow passages while picking off any comers to my blade. I’m particularly interested in using taunts that reduce Will saves, making paralysis and charms more effective to make an enemy’s army my own. I’ll need some study to ensure I can pull off powerful Otto’s Spheres in higher levels: That’s CHA, and I’m pumping DEX over all else, so tomes and equipment will be needed along with action points to some enhancements.

Bards aren’t known to be stealthy. But Flynn can cast Invisibility (immunity from Spot). Combined with some Move Silently points (and a few Hide points given as part of being a halfling), she can use some situational tactics to help decide where and when she will fight. The tree also adds Fast Movement, a lighter but appreciated speed-up.

In higher levels, Flynn may be able to kill anything that is Fascinated or prone as she trains her magic skills.

Three-Barrel Cove and Tangleroot are next–but Flynn is leveling hyper-fast as a first-life character.

Flynn may not be a Monk, but she’s going to have speed and versatility that matches many of them. And, she’ll be wise enough to buff any Monks in party to make the most of their powers.

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode of

“The Madcap Adventures of Flynncletica”

in color!

My Own Private Normandy Landing

Even after 70 years, this scene in history, of storming the deadly beaches near Normandy, remains one of the most incredible witnesses to bravery in World War II.

Even after 70 years, this scene in history, of storming the deadly beaches near Normandy, remains one of the most incredible witnesses to bravery in World War II.

Ever since I heard of one quest getting updated, I’ve been anxious to see it.

Update 22 brings us an Epic version of Three-Barrel Cove. My ninjas have been sharpening their stars at the notion of challenging hordes of pirates.

But there are other nastier pirates, such as the Blood Tide, which have had designs on Stormreach by first emasculating and decapitating the city’s military defensive center, House Deneith.

Of the five quests in the Sentinels of Stormreach chain, one didn’t have an Epic version until now.

Storm the Beaches” not only got an upgrade but changed one aspect that made things interesting.

One of the three objectives is to destroy eight ballistas along the pirate fortress. In the original Heroic version, eliminating these was as easy as targeting any breakable object.

But now, the ballistas fire back with massive area-of-effect damage that will likely kill you in one strike.

Yes, those ballistae you’ve used to shoot down pirate airships in Three-Barrel Cove are now directed at you.

The quest title fits the bill now. You still have three ways to start the quest: Attack the moored pirate ship, use a side trail leading to the fortress’s top, or (as the quest name implies) land on the beaches around the fortress.

If you are spotted, the enemies that guard the ballistas will fire on you with their weapons and the ballistas.

Ever played “Medal of Honor” games, set in WWII? One very memorable scenario puts you as a player character about to land on Omaha Beach, the heaviest and deadliest encounter of the several Allied landfalls of Operation Overlord, on the beaches near Normandy, France. We recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of that landing.

In MoH, the game tried to murder you on Normandy beach. The same words were used by the DDO player that described his experience with the revised quest in the Lammania thread I’ve read.

I normally like the trail pass option, so I tried the spymaster option using Szyncletica the star-thrower ninja.

All was well in sneaking up to the upper level. Knowing what to expect, I began throwing stars at a ballista.

It was down to less than a third of its health when I saw it.

That projectile, tree-trunk sized and shaped like a flaming arrow, approached me head-on. I was mesmerized by how it looked, locked in amazement at the attack’s speed and range.

BAM. And that’s when I died from over 1200 points of bludgeon damage.

A second attempt with Szyncletica fared only slightly better. I had swam from the spymaster drop-off to the moored enemy ship and removed all resistance, and then entered the submerged entrance to remove all enemies inside.

On exiting to the outside at the south entrance, I was spotted and I heard a ballista activate. I hurried back in, expecting to have the ballista lose its target lock on me.

I came back out through the watery entrance and began a swim on the outskirts of the western edge of the map, stealthy and invisible.

BAM. Lesson #2: Ballistae never lose their target lock, even if you enter into the fortress. Stealth does no good. I already knew from posts that invisibility was also a wash.

I love this quest, despite failing very badly at it so far. It’s requiring me to really, really think.

And I think that I need to get a party gathered to go into this one.

The biggest challenge is that your own “army” is going to be limited to six. Good luck.

The Dojo Celebrates and Takes a Holiday

I’ve been in Houston, Texas on a business trip from Sunday until Wednesday night.

I won’t have much wisdom to impart as today I celebrate my 50th birthday. No posts this week.

But before you get any ideas about my age:

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The Wrath of the Netherese

After completing my first Epic Elite solo run with Szyncletica, I’ve gotten more emboldened since last weekend.

Eager to get my 375 Purple Dragon Knight favor in hopes of someday unlocking my Celestia for a Planar Focus I looted, I’ve worked on completing several PDK quests on Heroic or Epic Elite.

I turned my eye to one where the role-play factor would be excellent: “The House of Rusted Blades.”

Syzncletica’s backstory is as a daughter of that house, culled early from the matron mother competition and nearly killed before smuggled to Eberron. She wants vengeance on the whole house. It’s totally personal.

Role-play may be quite secondary to DDO itself, but it can really psych you up if you enjoy that kind of thing.

That same rush of adrenaline, too, came to me later from advance knowledge of Forgotten Realms lore.

Epic Elite “The House of Rusted Blades”

This quest is a short and sweet one. House Dun’Robar is filled with dangerous fighters. Fortunately, they buy into your magic disguise at first. I skipped the weapon room optional, opened the shrine room just in case, and went to the Blademaster’s weapon rack to poison it.

Things went slightly pear-shaped from there. A Diversion dummy I left for the fighters didn’t take (or last long). Soon, a small force chased me down the halls. Unfortunately, the angry Drow activated those who were passively standing guard, and I became deadly close to getting a Dungeon Alert.

But Syzn had a new star in her hands, a L24 spelltouched shuriken with Fracturing and Improved Destruction, among its other hidden effects. With this heinous weapon, designed to destroy the living, she targeted the hindmost and used Improved Precise Shot to rip through her pursuers. The wide expanse of the House with its ramps allowed me to line up targets and evade by leaping off the ramp to line everyone up again until the mob was eliminated.

My original plan was only to isolate and kill the senior Blademaster. But now that the whole house became alerted to me and on the aggressive, I changed my tactics: Kill everyone (save those in the weapons room and the Matron Mother’s lair–I wasn’t suicidal, especially without an ability to remove the spell wards in either place).

Clearing out the last enemies in the canteen and space by the Blademaster’s quarters, I returned through the side passage to ring the bell to alert the Blademaster–and immediately skedaddled, heading back up the ramp adjacent to the path to the double-gated weapons room and the upper level to the entrance.

The Blademaster boss did not move as I removed any and all targets from around him on the upper level, including the four guards by the entrance. Dropping down, using all ninja skills, I retraced my steps back through the lower level and side passage where many enemies that spawned from the central room (once the bell rang) had ran and stopped. Nice one, Devs–this would be a natural place for an EE party to camp to avoid direct confrontation with the boss until they could remove his support. Too bad that enemy party left their own flank open, allowing me to follow and pick them off from a long, fatal distance.

ScreenShot01219With no others left, I returned to the upper level and pummeled the senior Blademaster. Using Pin to slow him down with other Shiradi and spelltouched effects, the EE Blademaster slowly but inevitably met his end.

ScreenShot01221Delicious win. I want to re-do this one, but next time I’ll bring in a Rogue hireling to remove the spell wards to the matron mother. Yes, it’s quite bloodthirsty to role-play the notion of killing your own sister (or mother), which technically would leave Szyn as the new Matron Mother by bloodline. But since she’s also slaying any defenders, she’s really not feeling inclined to be a leader. She’s the angel of Death for the entire House, not its salvation.

Epic Elite “Impossible Demands”

After completing the last two initial Heroic quests before the prison chain in Wheloon to add a few more favor points, I managed to catch a “Caught in the Web” PuG run on Epic Hard. A brutal raid as always. I survived fairly well up to when most others chickened out of luring the trash around the last portal keepers and I decided to volunteer–and die–twice to get things moving along. But the group was generally reliable and efficient.

To get the last of my favor, I entered “Impossible Demands.” Priestess Vicala is not a nice person, but the mechanics of fighting her and saving the hostages is no different for me than completing it on lower difficulties.

The true challenge was having sufficient maneuvering room to fight. The tiny rooms were too tiny against Drow that could lop off 100 HP a swing. I modified my typical plan for this quest: Let the priestess head downstairs and then kite an enemy out and dispatch each one by one. The Improved Paralyzer star helped. An earlier attempt left me Stoned and dead as I didn’t hit the wizards fast enough. Luck proved better the second time in. My only mistake was in setting one hostage free a moment too early, and Vicala sacrificed her. All the others were freed and Vicala was defeated with only a comparatively moderate struggle given Epic Elite. Strange that she is invulnerable to negative energy…and I would have really loved to have Sting of the Ninja working to help with the damage (perhaps it’ll work again with Update 22).

And after all that work, I don’t really have anything to upgrade with the PDK vendor, short of some Spidersilk Robes that have no collective features I’d be able to use from the War Wizard’s Battle Arcanist set.

A Break in the Ice

If I’m not slaying the Drow, I’m stopping the insanely evil plans of the Netherese in the Storm Horns now.

I’ve never completed this quest chain and thought it would be good to get its Heroic Elite side completed to help me learn it for a later Epic completion.

Frost Giants! Ever the annoyance to Lynncletica, Szyn’s not fond of them, either. Stealth helped a lot in strategic killing. But what impressed me was the storyline, the music and the voice work for the NPCs. It really provided an immersive story experience.

I’ve played the 2000-era Neverwinter Nights game series from BioWare. The “Shadows of Undrentide” expansion explores some crazed medusa trying to use old Netherese resources to do the unthinkable: Raise a ancient fallen Netheril city, Undrentide, buried for thousands of years of sand, to float again in the skies, complete with its side benefit as a flying fortress that could decimate cities and become an nigh-unstoppable ruler of the world of Faerun.

So when Syzn hears from the Harpers that they’ve heard of something called a “mythallar” involved in the Horns, Syzn took in the news with her usual tranquil, stoic expression.

Her player (me) said “Oh…shit!” quite out loud.

You see, mythallar, in Forgotten Realms lore,  is a terribly overpowered magical substance used for two things: Power and flight. Think of it as magical plutonium, with all the good and bad that implies.

The Netherese with any amount of mythallar is like giving more gamma rays to the Hulk, or metal to Magneto. Whatever the Netherese had in mind to attack Cormyr, I knew in my heart it involved or included the dreaded words of air bombardment or air invasion. I learned that much from my adventures in the wastes of the Aranoch desert and the ruins of that ancient city in another life.

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Three or four more of these mythallars and we could move Faerun out of ORBIT.

I removed the Netherese mage that had supervised the excavation. Unlike the NWN version, this mythallar was planetary in size, a blueish globe surely 1000 meters in diameter.

Now it was time to make my way to stay the Netherese for good. I expected a good fight; the Netherese are not pushovers.

What Goes Up: The Best Storyline and Music in DDO

Many, many thanks to Turbine for this quest. I felt like I was in a powerful fantasy drama and I was the star.

Still learning the quest, I entered in on Heroic Elite. I needed to remove many Netherese and Shadar-Kai forces with controls that blocked the upper entrance to the summit. With a Rogue hireling in tow in case things got weird, I routed any resistance. My Concentration score was more than high enough to disable any force fields that blocked my path.

The MUSIC! I think this is one of the games best scores. It pumped me up greatly as enemies came left and right.

I did read up a bit on this quest before I entered, about being careful not to fall off the glacier, whatever that meant. But nothing prepared me for what I saw as I made it atop the summit.

The top of the world, looking down on Creation.

The top of the world, looking down on Creation.

Damn, Turbine. That’s some fine artwork. I couldn’t go fighting for several seconds. I had to take it all in.

Combined with the majestic music, the grandeur of the view, the free sky and clouds about me generated more sensations of being the hero in the last, climactic scenes of the last movie of a long-awaited trilogy.

With that feeling came the realization that I should’ve been a bit more careful. And that everything that the devs could throw at me was going to show up to stop me from destroying the mythallar.

Giants and orcs and gnolls, oh my! Killing them wasn’t a problem. And then I stepped into a crevasse.

Dead. Thankfully, Turbine moves your s0ulstone next to a resurrection shrine most of the time.

I rebuffed as best I could with inventory items and remove more and more enemies, finally reaching the boss, standing atop the huge mythallar globe.

This seems familiar, I thought. Shades of Undrentide haunted me as I realized these guys were going to fly a frakking glacier over Cormyr, packed with troops and destroy Cormyr from the sky. The size of this thing suggested that they could fly to the kingdom itself and just colony drop the city out of existence with the entire glacier. Wow.

Szyn went to work, not realizing at first that killing the boss was secondary. He would summon large reinforcements when he lost even a small amount of health. What I missed in the Objectives list was: Destroy the flight pillars. I had to do something similar in NWN, destroying enough of the mythallar to sink the city once more. Here, I remove some mechanisms which would empower flight.

It was harrowing, although my thrower skills had the upper hand to remove the pillars while Improved Precise Shot allowed me to hit pursuers as well.

After losing my ship buffs and without some good resistances and greater familiarity with the glacier’s cracks and crevasses, death came calling often for me, falling once more, blasted by many ice elementals that ganged up, and getting turned to stone.

But the quest was too damned fun not to try again and again. By the fifth death, I reluctantly decided I’d like to have my gear intact and not permanently damaged, and I aborted the run.

I have never, ever had so much fun in failing a quest in any DDO adventure since, perhaps, “Frame Work.” The backstory I knew of the Netherese only made the experience that more real.

Turbine and Staff: Epic Win, +1 and gratz to you. Sorry I got to this one late. I have similar praise for you with the Haunted Halls, but that’s for another time.

And I’ll be back there. The Netherese are toast…even if I have to cross the streams to do it.

And I might have to reload Neverwinter Nights on some computer, somewhere.

The Sound of Four Arrows Flying

For the Zen Archer, contemplation and mastery of Wisdom is paramount...to a point.

For the Zen Archer, contemplation and mastery of Wisdom is paramount…to a point.

A recent post chided those who forgot that the quests in the Devil Battlefield are still worth running.

But Teacher Mernom’s comment in that post on the availability of potions (available through collectibles) that briefly raise ability scores for an Alchemical bonus, made me return to a study I’ve conducted out of curiosity until rather recently.

How high can I lift a character’s Wisdom score?

Kiricletica’s Case: Powerful Finishers

A Monk’s powers are often determined by their WIS, specifically, their WIS modifier score.

After the discovery that Kiricletica’s dark finishing moves could be very effective even in Epic Elite with a very high WIS, I sent her through the Devil Battlefield flagging quests, all on Elite difficulty except for “A New Invasion” to gain sufficient Yugoloth favor for their special stacking potions that raised an ability score by +2, with a side effect.

At level 26 and geared up, Kiricletica’s WIS sits around 48, unbuffed. With a +2 guild ship buff (Artifact bonus), a Yugo potion and a DDO Store elixir, I could get Kiri to 54. Mernom’s discovery noted that I can up that score to as high as +3 with trading for House Deneith’s alchemical potions, which last for a minute to 1 minute 30 seconds.

Kiri’s need to ensure that her paralyzing and muting finishers would land, based on the common finisher DC (10 + Monk level + WIS modifier).  Thus, Kiri’s Freezing the Lifeblood finisher requires a 10+26+22 = 58 to escape. While Kiri’s attempts on an Epic Elite solo run have not yet been successful (sticking to her solo rules for her first life), This isn’t a bad DC to have, although 62+ would be better.

Forum Research

In helping Kiri’s WIS score, a DDO forums often brought me to this older but useful thread on every possible permutation you could find in-game to generate the absolute maximum ability score.

Teacher AidanRyuko’s post first defined a “base package” of possible points that all classes could attain. Some, like a +2 bonus as a Completionist character, I’d never likely see, while others, such as getting a +5 ability tome, weren’t out of possibility even if I chose to “pay to win.”

Aidan’s sheet is a little dated as it doesn’t take into account the existence of gear with +10 to enhancement bonus ability scores with the new level caps of 28 and now 30.

My return to this research is to help Pynthetica, my Zen Archer, currently at L17 in this second life.

Pynthetica’s Case: Ex decem milibus, sapientia

Like Kiri, Pynthetica needs WIS but not specifically for finishing moves.

Pyn’s archery prowess for burst damage comes from Ten Thousand Stars (TTS) for now. If she has an extra feat slot in Epic training to add Manyshot, I won’t object to it. But a Zen Archer is feat-starved, trying to ensure there are other critical ranged feats in its arsenal.

So why only TTS?

Based on much cooperative crowdsourced player observations and calculations in a thread, the formula for generating extra arrows per attack in TTS came down to this:

  • 1st extra projectile: (3*WIS modifier+30) percent chance
  • 2nd extra projectile: (3*WIS modifier-20) percent chance [minimum 24 Wisdom]
  • 3rd extra projectile: (WIS modifier-15) percent chance [minimum 42 Wisdom]

Each projectile is rolled one after the next; ie you must successfully roll the first extra projectile for a chance at a second, and successfully roll the second for a chance at a third.

TTS doesn’t give the guarantee of 4 arrows as Manyshot ultimately behaves.

However, TTS can be used twice as often: once per minute (30 seconds active, 30 seconds to cooldown, versus 20 seconds with a 2 minute cooldown for Manyshot).

TTS also requires ki, which means you need a strong passive ki regeneration (or switch to melee fighting for a bit) as well as WIS to define a higher pool. But when you start tinkering with 40 WIS or more and sitting about in Greater Ocean Stance with other ki regeneration abilities, odds are that you’re going to have ample ki for any fight where duration is required.

Getting that fourth arrow is not easy. To have a mere 5% chance at that arrow requires a WIS of 50. The highest practical 4th arrow chance for Pyn is is probably 10%, or a heartbreakingly high WIS of 60. One could look at this philosophically as there are similar nice weapon effects that may not proc often, such as being Frozen.

So it’s an advantage with diminishing returns for Pyn’s TTS after getting no less than a 5% chance, or WIS 50. As with Kiricletica, I may be able to attain that in Epic levels with a +7 item and epic destiny training alone, with nary a single potion to be had.

But when it’s crunch time and I need to squeeze every chance of an arrow out of her zen training, at least I know my options. At WIS 50, Pyn would shoot two arrows 90% of the time, three arrows about 40% of the time, and 4 arrows only 5% of the time.

I might be able to live with that. But now I also know I shouldn’t try to go all out to make Pyn’s WIS higher than 50 unless I want to have superior emergency stun and finisher options. As a dark Monk, Pyn’s Freezing the Lifeblood finisher could make heavy damage of one isolated enemy.

At least I know now that a few extra points for Szyncletica would not hurt, either. Since DEX defines damage and with Shuriken Expertise and Ninja Training already producing extra stars, her lesser WIS is not as critical with her TTS.

Zen Mastery: Approaching Level 20

Without the Bow Strength feat but with a lesser version that comes from the Half-Elf: Ranger dilettante, I should retire from Wisdom studies and research what I can do to increase my base damage on the bows to offset the lower STR bonus I gain in weapon damage as a pure Monk with a bow. I prioritized training the last racial abilities to add the last dilettante ability that added 8 to my bow damage modifier as Pyn approached level 16.

Sitting in Pyn’s personal bank, purchased during a recent DDO Store sale, is a +5 WIS tome for level 19.

The Devil Battlefield is penned into her schedule for getting the Yugo potions. My recently lax collectible gathering will now go back into overdrive as I hunt down any I can use to purchase a chance at the House Deneith alchemical potions to use when I need the absolute maximum performance.

A Frozen Tunic is also in the plan.

Banishing and Paralysis looked more attractive when I realized the latter had three tiers where the Will save is superior to Improved Paralyzing as found on Szyncletica’s spelltouched shuriken. It’s not cheap, however; as you have to train Terror Arrows rank to increase Paralyzing Arrow ranks. Such training will just make any Vale of Twilight or outsider battles on Eberron soil that much easier.

Once she returns to Epic levels, training two tier 1 abilities in Grandmaster of Flowers (Enlightenment for more Concentration, total ki and passive ki regeneration, as well as Dance with Flowers for up to 1.5 to base weapon damage) are a great idea. I can Twist these two abilities while active in Shiradi Champion’s immediate ranged attack effects that Pyn trained in part in her first life as a Ranger.

Breaking Siegebreaker

Pyn has been my first character to take advantage of Kiricletica’s discovery of how to easily beat the “Siegebreaker” final boss and her puzzles. (I added this solution to the DDO Wiki article once I learned it.)

In summary, you need invisibility and good Hide/Move Silently numbers, with perhaps Evasion at the least.

As most of you know, if you simply run around a circle that has all pads fully lit, it auto-solves the puzzle. The challenge is that enemies teleport into the small pit, attacking you and disturbing the puzzle. Worse, the enemies keep coming until you solve the puzzle. Did I mention the pads are also traps?

As she learned from Kiri, Pyn immediately hid and went invisible after the Hag went intangible. Pyn remained in the puzzle’s center. The enemies that spawned stood unaware and did not approach. Pyn circled the puzzle, evading the traps on each, solving the puzzle as well as closing the enemy portal. The Hag stays intangible until those few enemies are slain but they now cannot harm the puzzle as I kited them to death.

After giving the Hag a few licks, she went intangible again and Pyn repeated the same steps. By the last fight with the rust monster cavalry, completing the puzzle completes the quest. You will still have to slay those things to leave without dying and having your gear chewed on by the rusties, but you can loot your end-chest first while in stealth. Kiri just deployed a Diversion dummy for the enemies to chew on as she finished out.

 

 

The Epic Elite Shuricannon, Victorious

A DEX of 60. What else does a Shuricannon need for an Epic Elite run?

A DEX of 60. What else does a Shuricannon need for an Epic Elite run?

I’ve been waiting for this moment. I’ve studied others, often “monkcher” builds, on how they survive and defeat an Epic Elite quest by themselves.

This moment also brings a moment of declaration to any player that believes that a pure class cannot survive long, much less alone, in an Epic Elite quest. Never mind the notion that a thrown weapon can equate to bow attacks.

It was time for the Shiradi Shuricannon to blow away the myths–and its enemies.

Completion Study

I’ve watched some solo EE “Gianthold Tor” runs where a monkcher (one which had Monk, Ranger and Wizard levels, based on the buffs he used) completed the initial quest, defeating the boss mage. The optional dragon/giant pairs were not shown.

I saw two very important things.

One, the monkcher’s burst damage, using Adrenaline Overload and Action Boosts, combined with Manyshot and Ten Thousand Stars, dealt doubleshot damage of over 1,000 per arrow with damage numbers that scrolled fast and furious. Impressive.

The second: After this burst damage, the arrows per second were far less damaging and shot at a much slower rate than my ‘Cannon’s thrown speed. One other condition is the limitation of what damage effects come from the bow attack. The bow itself might have two or three elemental or damage reduction effects. An Arcane Archer can add two imbues to the arrows and then perhaps some weapon and indirect enhancements or items. That’s it.

The ‘Cannon comes in with only Ten Thousand Stars. My character won’t have Fury of the Wild ED trained to Twist any abilities for a time. The video I watched showed the player with both Manyshot and Ten Thousand Stars, although they supposedly share the same cooldown. If that was the case, it’s because he gained better damage at certain times or against certain enemies.

But my character comes in with dramatic normal attack speed, an assortment of throwing stars with many, many effects going off from Shiradi effects and Spellplague and weapon enchantments that should slow down even rampaging giants and damage them heavily.

There’s also Vorpal damage, 100 points if the enemy still has over 1,000 HP. In short, the ‘Cannon is always “manyshotting” at 2-3 stars per normal attack–it’s in “super”-manyshot mode with Ten Thousand Stars. With my WIS, there’s at least one additional star per throw and a small chance at one or two more per throw. Unfortunately I learned the greater mathematics of TTS too late for this life, as Pynthetica is learning now. Perhaps there will be greater results later with some Epic hardware.

The off-hand Celestia’s light and fire damage often proc with hundreds of damage to supplement overall attack power.

So, the only question remaining is whether my ‘Cannon, at a paltry 503 HP soaking wet, can stay alive long enough to take things down.

Character Study

Firewall, creator of the Shuricannon build, noted that my stats didn’t seem to match up to his build (past lives notwithstanding) as he witnessed in one of the demo videos I made, so I’ve reviewed my character for any deficiencies.

There’s the matter of gear, which I know I’m slacking. Unlike the Shuricannon’s creator, my character hasn’t many past lives and I haven’t run many raids or particular quests with her, limiting some gear choices until I do.

Gone will be that trusty Frozen Tunic. I’m working on building a Flawless White Dragonscale Robe and hope to make several Tor runs to farm for the matching Epic Helm of the White Dragon for a +50 HP boost and better overall protection. A Restored Giantcraft robe, a robe that works as the Black Dragonscale Robe, is helpful with its armor piercing and haste guard.

There are a few items to add more DEX. I wear an Epic Normal pair of Treads of Fallen Shadow for the Insightful DEX +2 and DEX +7, but another greater DEX item is preferred. The most impressive DEX item I’ve seen was noted in a post by a player in the Shuricannon forum thread: Dumathoin’s Bracers, from one of the two highest-level raids in the game, gives Dexterity +11. There’s surely a few +10 and +11 loot-generated items somewhere out there, too. I prefer rings.

Szyn owns Yugo potions, a few DDO Store elixirs and now knows of the House Deneith ability potions. With Wind Stance, ship buffs and these potions as available, she can hit 60 DEX, with a little room for more.

By level 25 of last life, I started to dispense with the Way of the Sun Soul gear in favor of equipment that increased DEX and WIS and CON while keeping my Dodge maximized (28%), adding Blurry (20%) while also using Shadow Veil’s incorporeality (25%).

In EE, I believed the ‘Cannon’s overall defenses were higher with miss-chance, Monk AC bonuses and speed, and Combat Expertise. PRR isn’t part of the normal setup since ‘Cannons are either in Wind or Ocean Stance, not Earth. Defenses aren’t high on my list. I’m moving all the time to avoid direct hits, and high Evasion and saves remove anything else except arrow/missiles (why Firewall is fond of Deflect Arrows feat in EE) and magic missiles (avoided by a Shield clicky).

I did experiment with Deflect Arrows after Firewall’s recommendation in the character’s  first life. I may return to it again since my DEX is in better shape than in the last life.

It still means that I’ve got a lot of XP grinding to do to train LD and perhaps Fury for their abilities and for Twist of Fate slots. I got lazy with Lynncletica and bought a Tome of Fate +2 to get a slot unlocked or upgraded for her, and I don’t have any problem doing so for Szyn if it will reduce the time  in ED grinding while training outside of the Shiradi destiny.

Which Quest to Do First

You can tell by my tone that I don’t do EE often. I know quite a few others have and know their way around and mind their limits. Often they’re with a party while I’m usually solo (not in my best interests).

I definitely don’t want to enter into a mob-ridden EE such as “Tharaask Arena” to test the viability and tactics needed. Same for EE Tor. To get my toes wet, I might use a place where there’s room to run and escape if things go south. And I hope to bring a guildmate or five, perhaps, but was not against a solo attempt.

“The House of Rusted Blades” in House Dun’Robar would work. It’s short. There’s only Drow. They’re still nasty but there’s a lot of maneuvering room in the end-fight. There’s enough of them and variety (mages, fighters) to challenge my character without clearly overwhelming her. And it fits my role-play. The character background is that Syzn was a refugee from House Dun’Robar, a matron mother to-be that was culled early. Saved by a family friend, she trained in Eberron and returns to the Underdark for sweet, star-filled revenge on the whole frakking house. (R.A. Salvatore, are you reading?)

I took Szyn and the hireling Andaro into a Heroic Elite “Breaking the Ranks” yesterday, partially out of curiosity as I haven’t done any of the Storm Horns quests beyond “Lines of Supply.” In “Supply,” running Heroic Elite too, she annihilated the convoy. A mistimed re-application of Death Ward got me killed before Andaro revived me, allowing a swift-footed gnoll to escape. But that was it.

“Ranks” was a wide slay-fest where Andaro couldn’t survive. The word “hordes” fits well there as very numerous mobs come at you.

But this is where the Shuricannon’s thrown and running speed work very well. She was too fast and was able to continually circle-strafe her way to domination. Her miss-chance avoided the potshots from the dragon above.

Alternately, there’s a few Eberron EEs where I can mix up stealth with slaying. Going EE isn’t just about the necessary DPS and defense if a fight is inevitable, but ultimately simply surviving to the end. If all the stealth training can’t help there in some capacity, I think I’m doing it wrong.

I accidentally entered “Return to Prison of the Planes” rather than its Heroic version on Epic Elite. (Not the first time I’ve done that.) I actually mowed down the Aurum fighters nicely before realizing my error–and the realization that Szyn might be ready.

Epic Elite “The Tide Turns”

I chose a personal favorite, “The Tide Turns,” one quest I know very well.

Two candidates came to mind for this place: Kiricletica and Szyncletica.

I tried my hand with Kiri. Her stealth was excellent. But once she was found, the melee hits were just too much. A goof where my finisher toolbar wasn’t in place sealed her fate.

In came Szyncletica. She has barely 475 HP. Her fortification is only 105%, insufficient to withstand a CR 45 critical hit. But her miss-chance powers were strong, her stealth as good or better than Kiri’s.

I entered without any hirelings at L24, just a hairs-breadth of experience from the next level. I drank a Yugo DEX potion and one Superior Elixir from the DDO Store, and one Potion of Reason to add +5 to my DEX and boost a couple of other scores. Last, one well-treasured Eternal Potion of Death Ward from the Anniversary Cards. Ten minutes of Death Ward, cools down in 10 minutes. Perfect.

I hung off to the side on opening the door to the central room and snuck inside. After a mob moved off the stairs, I snuck up to Captain Tew to activate the next objective: bypass the shield.

From here I needed to kill. Would Szyn have the chops?

HELL, YEAH.

My improved paralyzing stars whirled through the fortress. Combined with Improved Precise Shot, Nerve Poison, No Mercy, stat damage and other spellplague and Shiradi effects, the CR 45 mobs, most with 3,500 HP, were slowed, frozen and eliminated fast.

I carefully cleared my way to the armory. Tight spaces with little room to maneuver meant that I had to rely on the stopping effects of the stars and have some room behind me to run.

Soon, I was in the sewers. The only challenge here were the giant rats in the latter part of the area. My first attempt ended with getting eaten. On attempt #2 I kept on the pipes where their AI wasn’t smart enough to force them to chase me.

I cleared out the shrine room, also too tight for comfort, by dropping in a Diversion dummy–one training-dummy hate magnet to make it easier for me to whittle off the pirates inside while they were unable to stop fighting the dummy.

Strong monastic saves and a couple of Abundant Steps got me to the shield switch, where I carefully pulled and aligned all the fighters to remove them for a required objective. The kobold ambush and the mob beyond a door ahead were also carefully pulled for elimination. Thankfully, my saves against the powerful electrical trap spared me from serious damage.

I pulled and slew enemies by the final shrine, near the barracks, as well as enemies beyond it. Once cleared enough, I had the luxury of using the shrine to reset any clickies I had.

A mix of stealth and stars cleared the path to the boss. In Heroic play I often ignored Tew’s guards and pulled him alone into the small hallway to fight him and, later, his puppetmaster. But Szyn needed to run; the ogre mage Ahraatz-Ri throws all kinds of attacks that are best avoided from a distance. I opened both doors to Tew’s last stand and spammed stars until the mob was gone and Tew was killed.

The final fight. Ahraatz-Ri was CR 53. My ship buffs were fading. Rejuvenation Cocoon was the key to victory, allowing quick and easy battle healing. But the ogre mage was a massive bag of HP, probably around 120,000 at least.

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It took about 10 minutes. But he did fall.

 

VICTORY.

VICTORY. (And level up!)

As I’ve said, I’m not a power-gamer. But I’ve taken notes from the best, so getting my very first EE solo completion says a lot for the many players that provided their experience in making it happen. Many thanks to Teacher Firewall for creating this incredible ninja build.

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