Birds Make Everything Interesting

Catching up on the game (happily–there have been so many new updates), I’ve gravitated to three builds that are less punchy and more specialized in regards to Monks.

Became immediately interested in two new universal enhancement trees. A halfling Rogue I made (creating yet again a new alt) started work with the Visani Fighting tree and absolutely loved the DPS and backward blade handling appearance. One Ranger decided to play with the Falconry tree, which is what I’ll touch on more now.

Falconry is a curious tree. You get an indestructible bird (the appearance you choose doesn’t matter) that is undetectable by enemies if you’re sneaking or invisible. But what the tree does with the bird is provide first-strike tools that have begun to enhance the one-trick limits of two builds of mine.

Laylacletica and the Improved Zen Archer

Laylacleta’s ability to knockdown and blind enemies greatly assists in crowd control.

Layla is a Zen Archer. As others may recall from past posts of Pynthetica, the Zen Archer build I developed emphasized a simple pew-pew all-Monk Elf archer with no other ranged enhancements (no Arcane Archer or Deepwood Sniper). What Zen Archers lack in variations of attack they compensate for by high passive defenses with Dodge, concealment and incorporeality, making them so hard to hit that they down others before they could have a chance. Zen Archers used portions of the Ninja Spy tree to gain advanced Sneak and passive ki regeneration so they could use their Ten Thousand Stars many-shot effect every 1 minute as needed.

But on attack with a Zen Archer, things start charging at you, and there is only so much one can passively avoid in attack when 5 enemies or more begin to target you. As with Rangers and Arcane Archers, there has to be something more to slow or stop enemies to give an advantage.

For previous Zen Archers, I relied on the effects of my equipment, such as fortification bypass, hamstring/tendon slice, and more, to aid in taking things down before they got too close. Doubleshot was also dramatically raised as well as Ranged Power since most of the action points went into Harper Agent for increasing passive Ranged Power and general bow damage.

But such effects can only go so far, so you either had to attack smarter or not at all, lest you get several axes, blades and spells to your face all at once.

With Layla, I thought to give Falconry a try. I would lose a little Ranged Power in sacrificing the Harper Agent tree, but I would get sizable potent first-strike attacks that gave damage but also some crowd control. The first, Diving Attack, is effectively a stunning knockdown that works (for Layla) on just about all but red-named monsters. The second, Strike for the Eyes, blinds most enemies. The third, Coordinated Strike, is a mass blinding and bleeding effect on mobs.

Now Layla could stop enemies in an improved capacity, downing things faster with less damage. Using the attacks cost no ki, no spell points and had very fast cooldowns. But there were other benefits that saved action points throughout her build with this tree change.

Falconry has some Sheltering and healing amplification benefits found in other trees. So I didn’t have to pump lots of points into the racial and Ninja Spy trees to get similar effects. Layla’s Elf tree has the same points for improved bow damage and Dex-to-Damage and Dex-to-Hit benefits, but there’s more, so much more to Falconry that benefits Monks to the point where I could save more points.

Falconry adds Killer Instinct to the mix. Like Harper’s Know the Angles and Ninja Spy’s similar core abilities, rather than using STR for damage or attack, Falconry lets you use WIS for both. For a Monk, that’s awesome. WIS boosts so much on a Monk that there are savings afoot. In the case of Layla, I could now just pump WIS and put less points in DEX save to improve Dodge and Reflex. For now, she sticks with DEX-to-hit and damage as I experiment.

I’m still in work as to Layla’s new level of rampaging with this variation. I should mention that Falconry has No Mercy, the same Ninja Spy enhancement which pummels helpless enemies with extra damage. Normally, without Epic Destinies, Pynthetica couldn’t really use this unless she got off a lucky shot from a bow effect. But with Falconry, blinding and knockdown mean that a Zen Archer smacks down things far more effectively to helplessness and so can kill faster.

The only downside to Falconry for the Zen Archer is increasing the aggro to a build that doesn’t want it. I may toy more with maximizing a Ninja Spy enhancement, Subtlety, as well as equipment bonuses which lower threat level so enemies are less likely to turn around on me and keep to my meat-shield Clerics, Rogue or Fighters that I deploy on attack when there are more than 3 or 4 enemies.

Annithetica and an improved Mystic

And then, I had a yen to play again with the Henshin Mystic.

So with Falconry’s WIS-to-attack and WIS-to-Damage ideas in mind, Annithetica was born. But here, I take Falconry to a deeper use.

Like the Zen Archer, the Mystic can generate aggro. In fact, they make far more of it than any Monk with its ki-based Fire and Force attacks. But Mystics lack in defense, as my previous posts about Quintessica note. So, like the Zen Archer, the Mystic could use an edge to stop or slow some enemies enough to give it an edge to reduce damage if the build couldn’t pump up its miss-chance, armor or sheltering effects (which are still necessary).

So this young Mystic has a falcon floating over its head now. By level 10, I moved to Killer Instinct’s WIS for damage and attack rolls and I needed to only add further STR points beyond reducing changes for enfeeblement. Took care of that cheaply enough with my +2 Tome from 1750 Favor. A bit of DEX and CON, but WIS will do wonders for constant ki and other Monk abilities.

She’s been tearing through most dungeons by outright incineration of enemies in mass. Built similarly to Quintessica, the Mystic needs the Cleave and Great Cleave feats to spin up that mass damage. But with very high WIS for her level and all of her Mystic abilities amped by the WIS modifier, I see very significant fire and force damage to the point that Incinerating Wave firewall can destroy mobs in one strike.

Something new got added: Two Handed Fighting, which apparently got an insane Strikethrough bonus that is effectively the melee version of Improved Precise Shot’s multiple-strike feature. Also, the feat Spring Attack now includes an actual spring attack that can help start a fight faster by leaping at a target and smacking things right away. So the Two-Handed Fighting feats will keep pouring into this build.

What I hope with Anni here is to add the falcon’s helpless effects to blind en masse, combined with No Mercy, to burn the ashes of the ashes of many more enemies before they can become effective. Being able to knockdown something and then slam it from existence is one goal. All that Anni needs now is the right attack after knockdown. Probably one of the Elemental Ki Strikes, like Fists of Iron, to make a killer 3W hit with extra weapon damage modifiers, uprated by No Mercy and helplessness.

Defense was still an issue early on, as Mystics are a little squishy, and Anni’s gear was less than optimal for Dodge and Sheltering until level 12. As she hit the Ravenloft quests, she’ll got the wonderful Bavarian Quarterstaff, which has been awesome throughout the game with its absolutely lethal damage output (Layla uses her Barvarian Longbow as her ultimate kick-everyone’s-ass bow, not just undead). Since WIS activates so much, some additional gear leaves Anni at level 13 with 50 AC, max Dodge of 32% and about 32 PRR. Time to look for a metalline boss-beater as she moves forward.

Anni has even encouraged me to work through the Necropolis quests, of which I’ve never been a fan, mostly because it felt like a grind and required parties for mandatory levers. I just love incinerating undead now.

More to come on this. These experiments to the builds will, I hope, become part of an updated, all-new Monk guide.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. DDOCentral
    Jun 22, 2020 @ 00:00:28

    Reblogged this on DDOCentral.

  2. DDOCentral
    Jun 22, 2020 @ 00:09:04

    Looking forward to the revised Monk guide. I need to respec my Monk characters and I’m not sure what to do this time around.

  3. saekee
    Jun 23, 2020 @ 08:06:48

    Don’t forget Swords to Plowshares feat for staff!

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