DDO Forum user Grace_ana asked me to visit a thread about beginner builds. She set some rules for new beginner preset build concepts, based on what’s offered but commonly unused from the character creation screen:
Rules for the pre-made paths are as follows: 1. It must be a pure build. 2. It cannot require any tomes. 3. It should have both a 28-pt and 32-pt option. 4. It should be workable with any race. This means including racial feats is fine, as long as a particular racial feat isn't vital. 5. Don't include enhancements, though the paths should be anchored in a tree much like the current ones are anchored in a former PRE. 6. It should only go up to level 20.
I couldn’t break things down in number-crunch mode using character creation tools. But I could recite the natural advantages of a human Monk without a lot of fuss.
A Monk is a natural fighter that doesn’t really require much from the enhancement trees to be a viable fighter, completely naked, into level 20. And I answered so, breaking down the reasons why.
I’m not sure if I properly helped Grace in her thread. I suspect I didn’t, leaving more questions than answers. But she inspired me.
I feel compelled to verify what I’ve said. It might be, to-date, my most challenging project since Kiricletica’s solo adventures.
Syncletica in the Desert
My first Monk and namesake to the blog and guide has been a bit idle. I’ve reincarnated her Shintao counterpart, Lynncletica, as an improved Shintao tanker. As a Wind-Stance Monk, Syn was generally great in Heroic but had issues in Epic play. They are my only Shintao Monks.
Syncletica is named for a real-life monk–specifically, a Desert Mother, a monastic of the early Catholic Church in the Fourth Century. Said to be very beautiful, she gave up her family’s wealth to devote a life to prayer, living in the desert.
I have always tried to show the qualities of the Monk class. To do something different and worthy rather than trying to build the best one. And its been quite a while since the abbess herself has made any news; all of her students are more “famous.”
Away from her stores of equipment. Away from her students and dojo.
She lives a meager earning, scraping by for platinum to purchase healing potions. Staying away from her guildship and the buffs it provides, its shelter.
In her third life, she owns nothing re-equipped from her past life, nothing in her inventory. No leaving the snowy side of Korthos for better-than-starter items for her first lives, or buffs.
If she finds something useful in the course of her adventures, she may keep it. But her Resurrection Cache and bank is far away, gathering dust in the city banks and never available.
Like John the Baptist in New Testament lore, her subsistence is simple, starting by the shipwreck by Korthos Island and fighting forward. She must make the most out of less.
She declines loans from player characters out of quest; everything she possesses must be earned by her efforts (that is, no twinking). If she wants something crafted, she’ll have to do it herself. In a party, she will accept buffs but not call out for any specific buff for her own sake.
If her inventory fills, she cannot reach a bank and must sell or abandon what she has. She’ll have no collectible or ingredient bags short of what is given to her in this new life.
All that is old is new again. Damage bypassing will come from handwraps and kamas, if need be. Augment gems may help this challenge. Her memory filled with stories of Kiricletica braving adventures alone, Syn will have to emulate some of her student’s art. Life will be expensive. It will be difficult.
Most importantly, this Syncletica does not train any class enhancement trees. She’ll use the human racial enhancements, but that is all. She will choose the path of light once more, choosing the Fists of Light feat at level 3 but will not train the Shintao or any other class tree.
She’ll train some feats to improve her prowess. Two-Weapon Fighting, Dodge and Mobility, Stunning Fist, and a few others. Tactical combat feats will be important. She trains the Dragonmark of Passage for a speed boost and, later, Dimension Door and Teleport.
And what items Syncletica does find may not fit with her new meditations. She might choose to wear only a robe, a ring and a bracelet, and these things only for some important protections, such as Deathblock and Fortification.
Her goal is to demonstrate and completely master all available powers of the unarmed self, not to have those powers skewed or even corrupted by things she may wear or training from a special school. She wants to show the inner quality, the finer edge of the living weapon that is the Monk.
Non-combat skills are critical, such as Diplomacy. Enlightenment does not necessarily include fighting.
Hirelings are allowable, but Syncletica would prefer to push herself rather than find herself dependent on them. A few quests will require one for mandatory levers or switches.
The Hermit Challenge
Everything I know of Monks in the DDO world began with Syncletica (carrying over lessons learned in the Neverwinter Nights games). Over time, I compiled what I’ve learned in gameplay and from others into a guide.
By testing her in this playstyle I can do some things I managed with Kiricletica, such as increasing my appreciation of finishing moves and stealth.
But I may also be able to show how little is needed as a viable Monk up to level 20. After that, the rules change dramatically with Epic monsters and I don’t think any build as bare as this could survive without enhancements and Epic Destiny training.
I’ve claimed in my guide that a Monk is still quite deadly with little to no equipment. Syncletica becomes my demonstration of this claim.
I will try to give detailed build specifics and report her progress often to illustrate strengths and weaknesses.