No Mercy to the Helpless

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As mentioned last post, I’ve turned my attention from Pynthetica, capped at 30 and participating in many a Legendary or Epic Elite raid for the best gear, and started work on my second unique build, Ryncletica, the poison-master.

While I’m so totally enjoying the power of poison damage that Ryn magnifies, especially with the new Venomous prefixes, I’m appreciating now why some people have steered away from shortsword builds, weapons with only 1d6 base damage compared to other swords. That attitude might have changed with weapons such as Thunder-Forged swords.

But ultimately they aren’t ninjas. We Ninja Spies also get sizeable critical threat, damage and Vorpal bonuses to these weapons as the character grows in power at level 20.

Like Pynthetica, I held Ryn’s level at 25 while I completed a destiny to get a useful Epic Destiny feat at level 26, other than Toughness. That was Perfect Two Weapon Fighting, to get 5% untyped Doublestrike with some offhand Doublestrike, too.

To get that feat, I needed one trained Primal epic destiny. I’ve been training Shiradi Champion off and on, but that got familiar too quickly. Ryn is a Drow, so she’s able to train as a “light” Shuricannon like her sister Szyncletica. Ryn gains all the vorpal and critical threat range or threat bonuses for using stars, missing only the available Ranged and throwing-related feats but has Shuriken Expertise as a granted feat and Ten Thousand Stars. Most importantly, Ryn is a melee fighter and I’ve played enough ranged characters of late.

So I picked the Fury of the Wild destiny. This was the first time I’ve tried it on any character, but I’ve heard quite a lot about it. It’s commonly the central destiny used by the typical “monkcher” hyper-DPS builds, leveraging Adrenaline to dramatically generate high burst DPS when Manyshot and  Ten Thousand Stars are leveraged.

But Ryn is using the destiny as it was designed, as a melee-based destiny. I’ve not had a lot of use of Adrenaline, mostly because its Rage effects intended for the destiny’s audience, the Barbarian, aren’t as nice to Monks because it lowers some stats that benefit the unarmored Monk.

But one ability caught my eye, one I’ve heard others mention. That’s Sense Weakness. This tier 4 ability can give, with all 3 ranks, 30% additional damage to Helpless enemies with cumulative weapon damage bonuses based on the enemy’s current HP.

But the discerning ninja in the audience knows that the Ninja Spy has a similar enhancement: No Mercy. It also gives up to 30% more damage to the Helpless.

So, your question is: Does No Mercy and Sense Weakness stack in damage?

My preliminary tests suggest, yes. Yes, it does. While my math is certainly off because of extra benefits of the destiny, that’s at least a 60% boost in damage any time something is made Helpless.

Ninja Spy has one way to easily make many enemies, even Orange names, quite Helpless. I’ve mentioned it before: Freezing the Lifeblood, which gives a special minute-long paralysis that gives me plenty of time to chop something to tiny bits. Far more effective than Stunning Fist at Epic play, Freezing only requires me to get a high WIS to improve the modifier. Hardly a problem. It’s most effective against trash but occasionally I’ll get an Orange-named with low Fortitude, like Maribeth, a human cultist mini-boss in “The Lords of Dust.”

I’ll post a video that shows how terribly powerful this merciless combo can be on another day. It’s so potent that I’ll be focusing training more destinies so I can add this as a Tier 4 Twisted option. I’ll likely prefer Grandmaster of Flowers as her raid destiny once at level 30 as there are more options in that destiny alone to weaponize all the ki that Ryn builds up, saving a lot of Twist slots of abilities found there.

For now, she’s moved on to train Primal Avatar to gain more fate points and versatility. I’m familiar enough with this destiny with Zen Archers but this the first time I’ve used it as a melee character. It’s showing some promise as it supports bonuses to Two Weapon Fighting. One tier 3 ability that was really helpful in my first “Caught in the Web” run was the fully-ranked Balanced Attacks, which knocks down enemies on a vorpal and causes Helpless. That’s certainly another Twist candidate.

Now comes the annual Risia Winter Games. When I was fresh to the game, it was a fun event and was where I began to appreciate more how Monks are a special class. In short, I could farm the hell out of the place for purple coins faster than anything.

And those coins offer chances to make many “Icy Burst kits”–three recipes with enough Motes of Winter to add Icy Burst damage to the Venomous shortswords and kamas I find. This is logical enough because most things I can poison will also suffer from Cold damage. If I can find Venomous shortswords with Red Augment slots–so much the better.

Ryn farmed about 48 Purple coins in an hour and frosted up several of the her speciality poison weapons nicely.

Now to work on her hit points: Now at level 27 with Blinding Speed and Perfect Two Weapon Fighting, Ryn’s DPS is excellent but she needs to be able to survive more than one catastrophic hit despite 241% fortification. A rust monster in my first run of Legendary Tempest’s Spine one-shotted me–but we were in on Hard difficulty and I was 5 levels lower.

Despite owning similar miss-chance effects found on other ninjas in my dojo, Ryn’s melee fighting status makes her far more vulnerable to damage than I’d like. I can adapt by watching my enemies and situations far more carefully, use stick-and-move tactics, and of course, letting others in party charge ahead first. I specialize in trash removal, as do many melee Monks.

With that first Legendary TS raid complete, a very kind guildmate passed to me what seems to be the best cloth armor in the game for use at level 29: Outfit of the Celestial Guardian. That armor has so much in it that I’m having the pleasant problem of what gear to swap out because of that armor’s many benefits. Until then, I’m wearing a Shadowscale Outfit that fits like a catsuit and isn’t bad at all for protection. Perhaps a +5 Charisma tome is in order. I’ve been revisiting an old friend: the finisher Shining Star, which doesn’t cause Helplessness but its dance-off to the death certainly is beneficial.

I have to play her more and more in melee combat-intensive quests like the Batman or 007, at least in terms of preparedness, creativity and resources. I’ve been best so far in ranged-type combat with Szyncletica and Pynthetica. It’s Ryn that is my first melee character to confront the greatest nastiness of the Legendary realm.

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Epic Purple Haze: Venomous Weapons

Update 29's new prefix/suffix format offers some improvements for a poison master--if she can find the weapons.

Update 29’s new prefix/suffix format offers some improvements for a poison master–if she can find the weapons.

I’m still tooling about with Ryncletica, a Drow that leverages all kinds of Poison damage with Ninja Poison to DoT the hell out of many enemies.

With Update 29, a curious addition has arrived to weapon prefixes that has almost caused me to forget that I still need a Shard to build an Epic Envenomed Blade for Ryn.

That’s the Venomous prefix. These are adding 1d6, 2d6, 3d6, 4d6, 5d6, even 6d6 Poison damage to weapons. That’s a lot of Poison for the 100% Poison debuff caused by Ninja Poison to amplify, far more than the Poison damage that any other weapon adds. In contrast, my two preferred weapons are the Tiefling Assassin’s Blade and the Envenomed Blade, which give only 1 to 6 Poison, with occasional bursts of additional Poison in the latter. I just found a level 28 blade of Critical Piercing for extra damage.

So these new weapons give more consistent Poison damage that should stack and amplify. I said should as I had yet to test it until recently.

While the Venomous prefix was rather common, it took me some time to find a couple of shortswords (shown above) with Venomous, never mind an idea set with of Wounding or Doublestrike. I even found a Venomous returning shuriken before these two shortswords. That’s the first Poison throwing star I’ve ever seen, and I hope to watch Sting of the Ninja boost its DoT effects.

So, at level 24, Ryn’s test needed to find a boss that (1) Wasn’t a devil, elemental or undead, (2) Was respectfully high rank, at least CR 28 so I can watch the DoT build-up, and (3) had a simple end-fight with no respawns to complicate my observations.

Frelga, the night hag awaiting at the end of “The Riddle” on Heroic Elite, qualified for the job.

The result: As expected, these weapons get sizable boosts of Poison damage that get magnified with Ninja Poison. This build also adds the Venomed Blades Drow enhancement to go with all that. Don’t have a Quiver of Poison yet, which would complete this build’s power.

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ScreenShot01828It would be nice to also find an Red augment slot. Sadly, there are no Poison rubies we can add to weapons. That would be nice to see.

The weapons themselves also have a strong base damage, which is welcome.

You may notice other purple damage amidst all the purple poison haze. That’s the Touch of Despair finisher debuff that magnifies negative energy damage. I do have the 500-point zapping Touch of Death on hand, but wasn’t using it here so I could observe the new Poison.

The Poison Master is a somewhat limited build to be sure, especially with Update 28 and 29’s additional raids and quests that build up to a new invasion by the devils of Shavarath and other outsiders that are completely immune to Poison. Good against Drow and humans and many others.

But when that one HP-heavy boss shows up that isn’t a devil but is resistant to many other attacks, Ryncletica will be up to the job.

Zen Eternal

ScreenShot01776I’ve played little else than Pynthetica lately. She’s my second oldest character, a human Ranger AA gone all Elven Monk, now aiding me in perfecting my Zen Archer build beyond what Mericletica began on the Cannith server.

I’ve purposefully halted any level ups at 25 for a time to get Pyn more abilities she never received in your first two lives. As a human Ranger she sat at level 20 for months before Update 17 and the Menace of the Underdark expansion. I tinkered with her a little bit but then left her alone again for months. When the enhancement pass came around, I finally had an idea for her and TR’ed her into the first concept of the Zen Archer. It didn’t go very well as her ranged damage bit and I TR’d her again by level 22.

In neither first or second life did I give Pyn enough playtime to build up any Epic Destiny. So, now, I don’t want her to slack again in her third life. I want to give her all the things.

That starts with level 26, the first Epic Destiny feat. Often on all characters I just take Toughness, which requires no completed sphere. Nay, nay! to that, this time, not for the neglected Pynthetica. I’m simply building all the destinies, not just for choosing something other than Toughness, but to gain more Fate points to improve her lot as she moves forward. I finally wised up and did this with Mericletica and then began destiny build-ups to many others. It’s clear I had a fear with that.

But I wanted to take things a step or ten farther, especially with level 30 now available.

  • Train one Divine sphere destiny before taking level 26. That was building up Unyielding Sentinel after completing Shiradi Champion, Grandmaster of Flowers, and Primal Avatar. That unlocked the level 26 Epic Destiny feats Guardian Angel and Holy Strike. Guardian Angel gives PRR equal to your WIS for 30 seconds if your HP<=50%. Holy Strike adds Ghost Touch and 10d6 untyped damage to Evil. I picked Holy Strike.
  • Take Blinding Speed at level 27 for permanent Haste. It requires no prerequisites. Now my Ranged attack speed is 22%. It could still be improved with Gilvaenor’s Ring and Gilvaenor’s Necklace, which, combined, add a stacking 10% Competence bonus to ranged alacrity for a grand total of 32% ranged alacrity. I’ll have to convince a lot of people to run “Tower of Despair” in order to get that ring, and several runs through “Genesis Point” to find that necklace.
  • Complete 2 Primal destinies before level 28. That’s for the 10% additional Doubleshot feat, of course. That’s completed.
  • Complete Shadowdancer, Legendary Dreadnought and all remaining Divine destinies before level 29. These three capped Martial destinies and three Divine destinies (with several more Fate points as a side benefit) open the level 29 Epic Destiny feat Embodiment of Law for 10 Bane damage to all enemies and 20 Law damage against Chaotic enemies. It’s a lot of grinding, but where am I going?
  • Choose a level 30 Legendary Feat.
  • Complete Fury of the Wild to have maximum karma in the Primal Sphere.
    • That’s right–as a reward for being neglected for so long, Pynthetica gets to be my first Epic True Reincarnation. I want the Primal Sphere’s Epic Past Life feat 3% bonus to Doubleshot, and will return as a Zen Archer again and again.

Since the initial announcement, some things have changed about Legendary Feats. So Scion of the Ethereal Plane is less attractive as a result, so now I’m looking to others.

Not sure of the simple buffs of Scion of Arborea are as good: +20 Ranged Power, +2 to Enhancement Bonus of the bow. I leaned then to Scion of Limbo. There are eight buffs that pop on for 1 minute and cycle randomly, but most of them very useful. 40 Ranged Power, or 16% Doubleshot, 30 PRR, 20% Dodge and 40 to Healing Amplification, 1d20 Chaos damage, and so on.

But it’s Scion of the Astral Plane that won my internal debate. It adds 4% Doubleshot plus another 4% while Centered (woot!) as well as 4% Dodge and 4 to the Dodge cap. That brings the dodge cap benefits from being a Ninja Spy (the Zen Archer’s secondary enhancements) up from a 30% cap to a 34% Dodge.

So my miss-chance numbers go up: 34% Dodge, 25% Incorporeality, 20% Concealment. I’d love to invite the crazies in our meta-guild into an Epic Elite “Prison of the Planes” to get a shot at a level 25 Ring of Shadows with Lesser Displacement at 25% Concealment. And I’ve still got 3 Displacement dragonmarks, each lasting about 5 minutes thanks to a Harper Agent enhancement. A Pendant of Quiet Movements or certainly the Token of the Proven might require less deaths to obtain. I’d prefer the trinket as I have little else to add there now, rather than sacrifice my Epic Golden Guile. These stacking Improved Deception effects really slow down charging enemies.

With 20% Doubleshot (3% Elf, 2% Guild Buff, 5% from the Dynamistic Quiver, and 10% Doubleshot Epic Destiny Feat), this final feat would give me 28% Doubleshot. I just scored the 8% Epic Dynamistic Quiver to give me 23% Doubleshot at level 28. With that last destiny this goes to the highest I can make without Epic Past Life feats or special temporary buffs: 31% standing Doubleshot. That’s not bad at all for a pure elven Monk with mixed enhancements. Szyncletica the Shroud-soloing Shuricannon hasn’t any appreciable Doubleshot.

Also, level 29 and 30 give additional Fate points and a fourth slot, making it easy to add things like Otto’s Whistler or Grim Precision to a build that needs every advantage to survive Legendary Tempest’s Spine and Shroud. Our guild is stoked on trying these very soon.

Shadowdancer or Grandmaster of Flowers will be my raid destiny for maximum defense or offense, respectively. Both give decent damage. It’s Grandmaster’s font of high passive ki regeneration, offensive ki attacks, Everything is Nothing, and boosts to weapon base damage that will allow me to use Ten Thousand Stars almost continually every 30 seconds and ward off the largest mobs. It’s Shadowdancer’s higher Ranged Power, extra fortification bypass with Grim Precision, boosts to fill in my Dodge cap to maximum and continuous 25% incorporeality in Shadow Form that helps in raids where there are proportionally fewer but tougher enemies (such as the devils and portals in the Shroud).

Extra Credit: Upgrade my Thunder-Forged Longbow, and build a Legendary Bow worthy of a Zen Archer.

I have no idea what kind of bow to build for Legendary Shroud.