Zen and the Art of Tranquil Resignation

Looking good as an archer and being a viable one are two different things. (Publicity still from the 2011 film, Your Highness, copyright Universal Pictures)

Looking good as an archer and being a viable one are two different things. (Publicity still of actress Natalie Portman from the 2011 film, Your Highness, copyright Universal Pictures)

Pynthetica the Zen Archer reached level 20 not very long ago, after an expected struggle with this trial build.

She dealt decent damage as a Half-Elf pure Monk archer with Arcane Archer flavoring throughout her Heroic level adventures. A Monk with a bow, remember? Not a “monkcher?”

I planned to train her through Shiradi Champion and several other destinies to build her defenses and tactics. Just because Pyn’s a pure Monk didn’t mean she couldn’t utilize the burst damage that monkchers have enjoyed.

But there’s a greater problem that overrides what Epic Destinies to pick and train. The problem’s so great that I must resign Pyn to another life to try again, with a greater hope for the future to make a Zen Archer the strongest it can be, through Heroic levels and beyond.

As it stands now, continuing with Pyn in this current build would be folly.


Shortly after Pyn hit 20, I rolled up Artemistika, an elven Deepwood Stalker. I’ve been playing it to death. Next to Monks, archers get much love from me.

I’m officially concerned for Pyn now because of lessons learned with Misty. In particular, bow damage.

All Rangers gain the Bow Strength feat, applying STR modifier to bow damage. Elves can adjust this with the Aerenal Grace racial enhancement to make DEX as the sole stat for to-hit and damage.

Misty’s level 22 damage to an unfortified training dummy with a strong non-Epic bow showed 120-190 damage per normal hit, with criticals in the 400s and beyond.

But Pyn is not a Ranger right now, nor a full Elf. She gained a “Lesser Bow Strength” from her Half-Elf Ranger dilettante. So she has to apply the STR modifier, but only gets credit for a percentage of that modifier.

Zen Archery simply changed the to-hit bonus from DEX to WIS, which was why I had began pumping up WIS.

But this makes Pyn in her second life not too different from her first life as a Ranger where I neglected her STR and pumped up her DEX in my ignorance.

The result is that Pyn is woefully under powered as a Half Elf with bow damage. I did anticipate this, but not on the order of magnitude that Misty illustrated for me.

Perhaps in the next life, going Elf would give Pyn the Aerenal Grace ability with Zen Archery providing the centering factor for using the bow only. Then life would be in better balance since she was specced for higher DEX with tomes in life 1.

It’s too bad that I can’t easily train in Deepwood Stalker as you can do so in adding an Arcane Archer tree to any Elven character. An Elven Monk Pyn with DWS would make a superior archer with her monastic powers. Multiclassing for now isn’t an option for me.

Additional elven longbow competence training from the racial tree would also work in her favor as well as that Shadow Dragonmark that adds Displacement, among other things.

So for now, I’m too challenged to make Pyn work as effectively as she can be with this handicap. Hindsight is a poor way to build a character. But, this Monk-with-a-bow build was experimental. At least through Misty I have an answer for Pyn to make her build much more dynamic later.

As a result, I will shorten Pyn’s adventures yet again, having never trained past level 22 in the first life as a Ranger, reincarnated as an Elf.

Back to the Drawing Board

There was a lot of  work with in destiny-land. There was a lot of grinding to do. I’m sure training in Grandmaster of Flowers, Shiradi Champion, Shadowdancer and many other EDs would make a Zen Archer a very formidable foe.

But even I know that DDO requires damage. However creatively you apply it, as I do with characters like Ryncletica, your damage must be sufficient.

In this instance, Pyn’s archery-fu is insufficient.

All the aggro management I have on Misty (combined with substantial hireling/summon stat boosts) would not work for Pyn, even if she could train them, as she simply can’t pull off the better bow damage right now, no matter the ED.

At least Pyn has a never-used Pinion bow ready to try when she’s back in business. And getting a Thunder-Forged bow isn’t a bad thing as well.

Pyn 3.0 will come shortly. While I have a lot of projects now–Syncletica’s life as a hermit, Lynncletica’s desire to be a better tank and with other non-Monk flavors I’m enjoying, where will I find the time?

Monks get priority for me, so Misty’s growing collection of Tokens of the Twelve are going to her. Misty blew away an Epic Normal run of “Devil Assault” and farms Tokens just fine. I want the Zen Archer working the way I know it can be.


14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. DDOCentral
    Feb 05, 2015 @ 08:09:09

    Reblogged this on DDOCentral.

  2. Tholgrin
    Feb 05, 2015 @ 10:55:07

    Hey, that’s why test builds are test builds! Some work brilliantly… The others, varying degrees of “not so much.” ^_^

    Balance in all things requires meh builds 😀

  3. Lightning
    Feb 05, 2015 @ 17:54:16

    I have a Ranger now who plans on a few Monk lives in the future for that past life. +1 damage per Monk life and another +2 per Ranger? Yes please.

    The problem I have so far with this is definitely the feats. Rangers are a bit spoiled in that, aside from Point Blank Shot, all of the go-to feats are free. It would require either a heavy investment in feats, or into the Elf tree.

    Blasted drawing board. 😛

  4. geoffhanna
    Feb 06, 2015 @ 01:42:30

    I think the builds that don’t work out teach me a lot more than those that do.

    • teachersyn
      Feb 06, 2015 @ 08:23:53

      This one certainly opened my eyes, but just as you described. There’s just that initial woe of “damn, that was a lot of time/resources wasted” before your mind can turn failure into opportunity.

  5. erdrique
    Feb 14, 2015 @ 13:01:38

    The build you had here still sounded like it was fun to me, so in that sense I wouldn’t chalk it up to a failure. However, everything can be improved 🙂

    • Poetik
      Feb 14, 2015 @ 21:12:52

      It might have had more shelf-life if there was a Wisdom to Damage option. Monks just aren’t given much ranged love outside of Shuriken in the Ninja Spy line. Which is a shame, considering they did give us both the Zen Archery and Ten Thousand Stars.

      It is something of a shame, though, considering that it practically requires Elf to get significant damage from it without excessive feat usage.

      • teachersyn
        Feb 14, 2015 @ 21:29:32

        True. I don’t think I’ve seen a WIS-to-damage option, so this build will have to stick to this or, for a more radical build, pump INT and use the Harper’s counterpart.

    • teachersyn
      Feb 14, 2015 @ 21:31:38

      It did the trick but wasn’t going to last long for DPS in Epic. As Edison was told to have said, “I didn’t fail. I just found 10,000 ways that didn’t work.”

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