Must Be My Charming Personality

Everybody got their party hat? Yes?

Everybody got their party hat? Yes? Great!

On first building Flynncletica, I was attracted to the use of Dexterity to Damage for her Swashbuckling fighting style. I knew how well that worked based on my experience with the Ninja Spy’s identical ability on Kiricletica and others.

I’ve considered recanting DEX-to-damage to try a different tack with a Different Tack (the ability), which determines which stat (other than STR) defines your damage.

My DEX is a bit higher after a few points in it. I chose Halfling to improve her Dexterity. I can get my CHA about as high as DEX when I want to convert the masses through a Fascinate song and then a Mass Suggestion.

But as I learned the hard way in a Heroic Elite run of “Friends in Low Places,” I wasn’t quite the charmer as I hoped by the end fight. I thought I needed more CHA and/or needed to concentrate on CHA for Damage.

I’m Feeling Fascination

Still a bit wet behind the ears as a Bard, I’ve only started to use Fascinate to halt enemies. Now at level 18, she’s trained Mass Suggestion to effect a mass charm on enemies.

I have no problems in training non-damaging spells and songs. It’s my monastic upbringing. Playing Shintao Monks, I’m often buffing and supporting allies as well with Healing Ki, finishing moves and elemental curatives like the Lesser Restoration SLA, Restoring the Balance.

At lower difficulties or with enemies with lower Will, Suggestion sticks well, answering the enemy challenge to “You and whose army?!” But I’d like to ensure that Mass Suggestion sticks rather well in Elite difficulties.

Since the ability Different Tack allows CHA to work as damage, pumping my character’s CHA to improve its modifier, not DEX, would be the prudent thing if I want Flynn to dominate fights by redirecting them as allied attackers with CHA as the sole modifier for all things important.

Thankfully I had some foresight on this on reaching 1,750 favor.  I chose a +2 CHA tome and then used two upgrades for an inherent +4.

I had strongly considering using a Lesser Heart of Wood to redo my stats, adding back the DEX points to CHA–but not too many. I still need higher DEX for good Reflex saves.

I’m looking more at CThruTheEgo’s “Monte Cristo” build for bardic advice, after getting my build inspiration from another DEX based thread for a soloing Bard.

As more of you know than me, Fascinate’s DC is the Perform skill +d20. With Perform maxed out now and using a Perform +13 ring, using the effect works quite well.

With some Spellsinger training, I could Fascinate specific monsters that otherwise can never be Fascinated. But I’m heavy in Warchanter training now, enjoying the attacks that freeze enemies and abilities that add PRR and doublestrike bonuses. At level 19, Flynn had 32 PRR (with only a PRR +2 gem) and 29% standing doublestrike.

I’ll gain Evasion, another 1% Doublestrike, +2 DEX and +2 CHA with level 20 and the Swashbuckler capstone enhancement. So, perhaps, I’ll stay where I am, but use Epic Destinies and items to add more CHA to get my Will saves higher. The DEX will help Reflex to make my miss-chance effects work better.

I have a lot of destiny grinding ahead of me.

But I had look at the Charms as they stood now and commit to a direction.

Not Magically Delicious

Back to that end-fight in “Friends in Low Places.” Knowing the enemy zerg-rush of that last fight, I began dropping down Mind Fog and Otto’s dancing balls to slow things down, then readied myself to Fascinate and use Mass Suggestion to boot. My goal wasn’t to kill the mobs but to keep them off immobile and off of me while I concentrated on killing the last boss to prevent more enemies from spawning.

It didn’t work. I think these enemies had a higher Will save, for one, as I could pick off and charm the straggling bands of invaders but had a harder time slowing the camp attackers. I became overwhelmed too quickly to mount a counter-offensive.

I needed to improve my charming personality.

Charms break down into several sub-abilities. You can charm most humanoids and some monsters except oozes, constructs and undead (although you can Fascinate them with a bit more training).

Suggestion has a different DC calculation: 10 + (Bard level/2) + CHA modifier. I’m all Bard; that’s good. But at CHA 22 at the lowest, I need to keep up my girly poise if I’m to redirect my enemies.

My best DC is 28. I’d rather have 35 or better in Heroic.

CHA seems the go-to stat, but does that all but guarantee that Charms and Suggestion will do as I want?

There’s also a second charming effect, Dominate, that I enjoy. I’d rather convince a Orthon follow me around to go with the rest of my summoned posse.

I did some reading on builds and realized that the Shard of Xoriat would be more useful than for the great meat shielding beholders, renders, mind flayers and Taken you can wield from it. It’s also a bardic treasure with Exceptional CHA +1 and Greater Enchantment Bonus.

If I read that right, Greater Enchantment Bonus adds a stacking 2 to my overall Charm-related DCs, right? Please let me know if I’m reading that wrong. I think it’s comparable to  boosts like Combat Mastery, which help tactical feat DCs for things like Stunning Fist for Monks.

So, I’ve got CHA +4 in tomes. I can also wear a +6 CHA enhancement item, having plans to slot a colorless gem in either of my level 20 armor or shield.

The next items I can imagine would help are collectible-generated Potions of Influence (stacking +1 to +3 CHA bonus) that I can use any time, as well as the +2 Yugoloth favor potions from Amrath and the quests of the Devil Battlefield. Toss some Turbine Points to the DDO Store and I can add in the stacking +2 Elixirs. So I can add up to another +5 to +7 now for brief periods.

I planed to go into the Devil Battlefield as soon once I hit level 20, wanting to have a better-than-average level when heading into these quests on Elite. Last night I impulsively tackled “Sins of Attrition” on Elite, coming out of that CR 21 fight by the skin of my teeth. Haystack the hireling over-healed throughout the quest, straining our spell point reserves. Eventually I left the sumbitch behind until the last battle. I just needed the Death Ward from the guy, anyway.

But…do you see my mistake in all of this thinking?

I mistakenly believed that Will saves are improved by CHA, when it’s WIS that affects a Will save, right? I need the Force of Personality feat to make my CHA modifier work for Will saves, as there’s no way I’ll add anything to WIS on Flynncletica unless a +5 tome comes dropping from the sky on her head. At least…that’s my understanding of it. Please tell if I’m wrong before I gimp another character!

The next feat slot for that comes at level 21. I was going to slum it out with potions until that time. But…I chose to make a feat swap. I can live without Improved Shield Mastery (with a small loss of doublestrike and PRR) to be a better charmer into Epic.

Epic Bling

One thing that’s a little disorienting involves what the comely young Halfling Bard chicks are wearing this year on Level 20 and beyond.

I have only three items in my cavalier’s wardrobe on reaching 20: a tier-3 Epic Swashbuckler shield, some tier-3 Epic Duelist’s Leathers, and an Epic Elyd Edge. I thought of adding a Heavy Fortification gem in the shield’s blue slot and a +6 CHA colorless gem in the armor so I can dispense with my Minos Legens, perhaps moving its Vitality +20 colorless gem to something else in the future and freeing my head for something more interesting later.

Looking about Eveningstar, I realized that there doesn’t appear to be any bard-inclined epic gear as we can get for Monks (the Sun Soul set) or Fighters (the Purple Dragon Knight set) or Wizards (the Battle Arcanist set).

There are a few options through the Druid trader, such as the Lenses of the Woodsman and Boots of the Woodsman. The Leathers light armor isn’t bad either although not attractive enough to swap out for the Epic Duelist’s Leathers, even with the equipped set bonus.

The Purple Dragon Gauntlets with their greater STR, CON bonus and 30% healing amplification would be welcome, I’m sure, as perhaps the Iron Mitts, and the Kobold Admiral’s Tiller from Epic Three-Barrel Cove.

But you can see where this is going. An epic Bard Swashbuckler seems to be more of a motley of items that don’t have much set complementarity with each other as opposed to items from the Eveningstar sets.

The popular Bard SB threads again offer some suggestions. Two of them caught my eye.

  • Sage’s Mantle cloak (from “The Tracker’s Trap”) for equipment Enchantment Focus bonus
  • Intricate Field Optics goggles (from “Return to Gianthold Tor”) for Insightful CHA or CHA +8

Flynncletica, having a desire for a Corymrian weapon, recently completed the challenge “Ring of Fire” with all optionals completed (bye, dragon!), my first character to complete a full challenge. She obtained a serviceable level 16 rapier with ingredients gathered but does plan to run challenges to make level 20 and 24 weapons.

Additional suggestions from the adventurer’s peanut gallery are welcomed.

Epic Destinies

"Wait! I have one more buff before you blow up that car!"

“Wait! I have one more buff before you blow up that car!”

I did mention I will find myself grinding my ass off to gain not only specific abilities but the many Twist of Fate slots required to hold them?

For once, I may not mind this. Doesn’t mean I’m not going to take the easy way out if I can do so.

One Key of Destiny (I hope) as a first-life character and I’m unlocking Unyielding Sentinel out of the gate. I want its Shield Prowess, Brace for Impact and Legendary Shield Mastery immediately for defenses. Once that tree is trained, it’s off to Grandmaster of Flowers to slum it out a bit as a monastic fighter as I unlock the Martial tree. I might actually put away my swashbuckling gear for a bit as I train this, wielding only a shortsword for a bit of flavor and to impress the other Monks.

Then, on to Shadowdancer for its extra doublestrike and Shadow Form for better incorporeality. I see this destiny as my default once I train enough Fate points to unlock what I desire to Twist from other places.

The Shadowdancer greatly improves Flynn’s scouting and ambush abilities and will help her survive it better. Her miss-chance effects will be stronger with up to 50% concealment, 25%+Dodge and 25% Incorporeality of Shadow Form to go with higher AC and PRR.

Next, Legendary Dreadnought for more fighting prowess and fate points before training Fatesinger and Divine Crusader. And yes, I could even talk myself into Draconic Incarnation and Magister.

If I cannot use a Key of Destiny to start, I’ll begin as a Fatesinger and earn my prerequisites the old-fashioned way by unlocking the spheres, one by one.

In short, sure. I want them all. All the Destinies.

I’ve never trained more than three destinies on any one character before, and even then, one of those destinies wasn’t fully trained. But with a Swashbuckler and its hybrid lifestyle as fighter and bard, I won’t feel as stripped-down while moving between or training destinies.

While as a first-life, where there’s no XP penalty, this is the best opportunity to make the most of Flynn’s abilities. I’ve never had a reason to be a destiny completionist–until now.

19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. longshotist
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 11:05:28

    These posts really make me want to try out a bard! Fatesinger will probably be really nice for a swashbuckler. IIRC there’s more than a couple of melee-combat related abilities in there.

  2. FuzzyDuck81
    Aug 01, 2014 @ 17:41:58

    IMO, divine crusader is probably one of the best destinies for a swashbuckler, particularly if you’re really not concerned about most of your spellcasting.. consecration AoE damage & healing, the debuff & damage (once you have castigation) & most importantly celestial champion to boost the base crit range.. depending on your weapon, you’ll have pretty much every 3rd hit minimum as a crit with all the associated on-crit effects 🙂

    For GMoF… you won’t be able to stay centered while wielding a shortsword since you won’t have the ninja spy enhancement to grant it. About the only way would be if you were rocking the epic midnight greetings kukri, since thats a centered weapon which you can also swashbuckle with. I’d ignore the centered aspect & just use the passives, until you hit level 3 in it & can switch to a different destiny.

    Unearthly reactions is a great little thing to twist from magister for the dodge & ability to tumble through things, great for getting you out of a tight spot & really plays to the quick mobile swashbuckling style

    Dreadnaught needs power attack to use momentum swing & lay waste.. you’ll probably want the action boost stuff mainly… +30% damage when you get that many crits is sweet, and just wait till you see haste boost combined with the attack speed from SWF… 😀 Sadly its pretty hard to charge masters blitz, so i’d suggest ignoring it & putting points elsewhere.

    Fury of the wild is a great damage-dealing one.. and perfect SWF means you’ll regain your adrenaline 2x as quickly once you have fury eternal 🙂

    Shiradi is amazing if you’re one of those thrower-using swashbucklers… IPS, Otto’s whistler then ranged version of coup de grace is just.. beautiful.

    • teachersyn
      Aug 01, 2014 @ 20:52:23

      I still have Divine Crusader on my list from your last note. Thanks for reminding me about shortswords. I could wield a kama but at an attack penalty, save Midnight Greetings, I guess.

      Yeah, I thought that Fury would be nice, too, but seemed an easy way out with all the monkchers using it. Same for Shiradi. But as I’m going to gain as many fate points as I can stand, it’s all on the table!

  3. James
    Aug 02, 2014 @ 00:18:58

    I enjoy divine crusader as a swashbuckler. The expanded crit range is nice. Throw in some self heal that also hurt the enemy? yes please. Don’t forget bane of undeath considering all the undead you see in epic. I combined flames of purity with energy burst. I got a near 5000 burst once! Bards just don’t get aoe damage that good.

  4. erdrique
    Aug 03, 2014 @ 11:36:26

    Definitely sounds like a fun build and a fun experience!! I’m going to have to look into a Swashbuckler…eventually, lol.

  5. geoffhanna
    Aug 04, 2014 @ 07:52:25

    I am hoping to post a halfling CHA swashbuckler build later this week. I’m still testing it though. How do you plan to handle the big AoE damages in EE? It is a sticking point for me on this build, which will even have Evasion, but not enough DEX for Evasion to be very effective. At least so I think?

    • teachersyn
      Aug 04, 2014 @ 09:17:31

      With limited experience with sword-and-boards at this level, I’m not sure. I’m really wondering if that shield on my arm is just a decoration or if I can really deflect some damage before countering with a charm or attack. My girl has high DEX and good Reflex, but in EE all bets are off, so I’m thinking about damage absorption + charms/dominate to have them fight their own. True, I guess one advantage of my build is that DEX is high enough for Evasion to be worth something.

    • FuzzyDuck81
      Aug 05, 2014 @ 07:46:34

      Second Skin (tier 5 enhancement) adds up to an extra +6 reflex saves and max dex bonus on armour which can be a big help… twist in Unearthly Reactions (tier 1 magister) for another +6 (and +3% dodge) & then it’ll partly depend what destiny you’re running too.. in shadowdancer for example Lithe will add another +6 on top of that, plus up to +9 while actively tumbling through Acrobatic 🙂

      • teachersyn
        Aug 06, 2014 @ 22:33:41

        Yeah, the reflexes on Flynn are awesome, being a DEX build that added a few points in Second Skin. Dodge is superior, too with 29%, only to increase a bit more before cap.

        • Lightning
          Aug 07, 2014 @ 07:30:26

          Perhaps after finishing my Asuna inspired Paladin, I’ll have a go with Swashbuckler, a life or two down the road. (+2 enchantment saves per life? Yes please.)

          When I ran a Warchanter, I don’t recall doing much work with halting mobs via enchantment spells though, as I generally splashed enough into my Spellsinger tree for Enthrall, which is an enhanced fascinate, really. I think Fascinate works better with the Swashbuckler, however, allowing them to focus more on killing one mob at a time, as opposed to whole groups.

          If you haven’t yet, and your UMD is high enough, you could consider using scrolls of Tenser’s Transformation. It might slow down your spell casting, but the bonus to attack speed (From increased BAB), and the +4 to strength, constitution and dexterity could really help out in a tough fight if you expect one.

          On a side note, I’ll be honest. I was kind of hoping that Fighters would get some sort of single weapon fighting line specific tree as well, a la fencing. Oh well, I suppose the kensei tree will have to do for now. 😛

          • Lightning
            Aug 07, 2014 @ 07:33:45

            Not sure why that popped up as a reply to yours. Dang it.

          • teachersyn
            Aug 08, 2014 @ 09:07:51

            All that’s needed is to add a feat for Fighters to use shields with SWF but, with heavier shields, at a slight attack speed penalty in comparison to Swashbucklers. My reasoning is that the ‘Buckler gets the speed because they have lower defenses. But the Fighter-types are really in need of some DPS improvement. The SWF benefits should give them greater DPS but not overwhelming.

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  7. Nicean
    Sep 16, 2014 @ 05:36:12

    for epic equipment i would suggest a Balizarde, max tier it with comms of Heroism if possible, but still a very handy rapier. My Swash bard was using Flawless White Dragon Scale light armour with a tier 2 epic Swashbuckler up unitl i TR’d her, and i loved it, i had her AC in the early 90’s with that!!!
    I had a high UMD as well and did use Tensers scrolls when i needed to and they helped. I did use the Iron mitts from E3BC but found i preffered the swashbuckler to the Admirals tiller. i also used the PDK gauntlets until i could use the Iron Mitts.

    • teachersyn
      Sep 16, 2014 @ 06:55:06

      All good tips. My limited experience in CitW notes how drop rates there are terrible. But hope springs eternal after about 60 runs or so, I’d figure. 🙂

  8. Dean
    Sep 21, 2014 @ 12:45:05

    I just hit 14th level with my 1st bard, so take this for what it’s worth.

    I’m finding that the Frozen Tunic and Rock Boots are your friends.
    I went a little challenge crazy and got the Elemental rapier of Air as well.
    Between the freezes, turning to stone, knockdowns from fancy footwork and Slap-in-the-Face stuns (plus Otto’s dances), things fall down and don’t get back up. That’s just from the crits, then throw in coup de grace.

    Anyway you look at it, swashbucklers are fun.

    • teachersyn
      Sep 21, 2014 @ 13:43:42

      Agree on the Frozen Tunic. It’s just such a pain to grind, but I plan to make a few more for a select few characters. I certainly love how everything stumbles about my Bard as she fights with all the effects from the CC gear as well as the tree’s effects.

  9. Tholgrin
    Oct 10, 2014 @ 21:12:12

    I’m surprised nobody has mentioned the multi-life XP penalty stops at 20.. there’s no penalty for epics ^_^

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