Hardcore Monk V: Victory

For my goals, at least, I “won” in the Hardcore IV season.

There were several goals a player could aspire to meet. Since I was new to Hardcore play, I chose only two: 1) Reach 1750 favor, and 2) Reach level 20.

I did both, and using the very first Hardcore character I created: Petracletica, the Ninja Spy.

It wasn’t easy, but it was fun. I’d like to say I survived and succeeded by skill alone. But as many of my friends (most also in my Ghallanda guild) would say, luck played a big factor.

As noted in past posts, the greatest challenge in HC IV was surviving the special Monster Champions present there. They were even color-coded for your convenience if you had a good Spot score. Some you knew to be careful not to attack too harshly in melee or get a stacking disease effect that could kill you faster than you could remove it. Another champ was the spellcasters’ bane with their Rage spell that left players Silenced. Another would have Poison attacks that often weren’t a big problem unless the champ was also a caster that also added their own nasty elemental spells.

It was that Poison-armed one, the Disciple of Avassh champions-as-casters, which often killed my party members with a single attack.

But why did Petracletica survive caster after caster, enemy after enemy?

She was the Master of Hide and Seek, I think.

A newer guildie on the HC server was dismissing the use of Sneaking while Petra was clearing level 10 quests while banking Level 15 at the time. One of his builds was a caster, like a Pale Master build that is admittedly quite good at clearing and soloing.

But because this new guildie is joining my Ghallanda guild (where Monks are the dominant class) I had to school him with some information–the reason why Petra likely survived to Level 20.

The Hide and Move Silently skills were, in my opinion, the most powerful abilities that Petra possessed. As I told the guildie in chat:

  • NO enemies would know I was present unless they possessed tremor-sense (bats, spiders), life-sense (some undead), or were some bosses that would know of any enemy in range (rare). True Seeing does not reveal a hidden player. A good Listen or Spot skill would–but most enemies don’t possess this.
  • The H/MS skills, together, allowed me to control when and how to strike an enemy. This was particularly useful since I could slay some champions before they became a threat to my party, flanking them and ending them with the Ninja Spy’s sneak attack combined with her weapon effects and enhancements.
  • H/MS likely saved me many, many times from enemy casters that would attack you from long range.

As noted previously, Petra was a Halfing with the Dragonmark of Healing to make her somewhat self-sufficient to cast Heal and related spell-like abilities limited times for myself or others. The added sneak-attack dies from the Halfling tree combined with the Ninja Spy versions for powerful first strikes.

Lastly, the Feydark Illusionist tree was a godsend. Just a few points invested and I had Shadowblades: Force DR weapons that bypassed almost every DR, including incorporeal. But their power really came to the fore by levels 12 and higher. They gained Phantasmal Killer, snuffing out enemies very, very fast. While each blade would not proc very often, carrying two blades as a two-weapon fighter made Petra quite the room-clearing Monk.

Other tricks were standard monastic fare to help: Flash Bangs to momentarily stun and blind to make removing most of a mob quick and easy. Subtlety enhancement to reduce the aggro level from melee attacks. The list goes on.

There wasn’t anything very special in surviving, as far as I say otherwise, except that I realized a few critical points to remember in clearing quests:

  • Avoid most quests that had beholders. While I would be far more equipped to silence and slay those oversized eyeballs than other melee classes, I didn’t want to take the chance. I made one exception: The Threnal quests, where I would be required to encounter two or three in the course of the quest chain. And then, I sent the hirelings in the party at the monster first.
  • No Xoriat quests such as the Harbinger of Madness chain. Same reason as the first, but Thaarak Hounds were a greater threat to me since they sense sneaking with their blind-sense and their own brand of Phantasmal Killer.
  • Run Elite only to reach 1750 favor. After that, I ran no quest higher than Hard difficulty. This helped survival for sure.

But before you think that Hard reduced the chance of death significantly, I will tell the story of the late Lamai, a powerfully great Bard at level 12 who explored Castle Ravenloft with me (on a different ninja, the star-thrower Rubycletica) on Hard.

The run in “An Invitation to Dinner” was going just fine. As we approached the Chapel on level 2 of the castle, there’s a spot I know will be filled with wights and ghosts, with 1 or 2 Wight Priests certainly there.

Ruby, as a ninja, was sneaking. I spotted a priest. It was a Disciple of Avassh champion. I had prepared to use my raven and Falconry’s trip attack to take it out. But before my shot had hit its mark, the caster saw Lemai and fired off two attacks. His Bard songs helped blunt one element of the attack, along with a timely heal by my Favored Soul hireling, but another part of the attack caused the dreaded “ding” in my headphones as Lemai melted from poison.

Hard difficulty could and would be happy to kill you. I stayed that course to level 20.

Of course, the chance for a mimic spawning with any chest opened increased in potency. By level 16 I could definitely see how the mimic’s CR increase made it harder to kill them off than earlier. Their acid damage increased as well. Myself and others running with me did not hesitate in breaking off a quest chain to get “P-Buffs” from House Phiarlan before entering another quest as we leveled beyond 10.

By Petra’s arrival at level 17 or so, she had Gianthold quests and later, those in Sharn. But in recalling how nasty the halflings in Sharn could be, especially with their artificers’ hard-to-see exploding construct spiders, I concentrated on all of Gianthold. With completing “Gianthold Tor” (after playing all but “The Crucible”) I reached “maximum heroic XP.”

I’m happy to complete Hardcore, and grateful to get my cosmetic awards.

But why oh why, SSG, are these cosmetics so butt-freaking-UGLY in comparison to the previous HC cosmetic rewards?

I mean, I know these are in theme with the season of Xoriat-based monster champions. But this design? I don’t ever want to wear these with anything, much less proudly wear them as a HC survivor.

Congratulations! You get to wear…clawed squidskin.

Anyway….Petra was immediately retired from play to complete HC. I don’t expect a high score on the leaderboards; not my goal. Rubycletica and two others continue play to gather gear and aid other friends to level them up and meet their goals. Since HC rewards are by-account, it’s not necessary for any other of my characters to survive, so I can be a little more aggressive.

Now to plan the final HC strategy: What comes over from the HC server to Ghallanda at season’s end with the free transfers. I have gathered a lot of good gear. But I already have 29 character slots on Ghallanda! Somebody there has to leave before I must buy more slots. I think only 2 characters are coming over.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. DDOCentral
    Jun 08, 2021 @ 16:14:44

    Reblogged this on DDOCentral.

  2. Renren
    Jun 15, 2021 @ 12:02:07

    Congratulations on your clawed squidskin! Did you level Petracletica as pure monk or multiclass?

    I also tried a Dex based ninja monk in HCL4 but I found multiclassing into wizard (3 or 7 levels for undead form immunities and healing auras) helped a lot!

    Wizard also grants the magical training feat for free at level 1, and some additional meta magic feats at level 1&5 to use with feydark shadow blade and fan of shadow blades. I felt the Wizard levels worth it in a monk/ninja build – on hardcore particularly.

    • teachersyn
      Jun 22, 2021 @ 10:55:50

      Pure class. Halfling with her healing Dragonmark in case of crisis. I had a personal point to prove that Monks can survive Hardcore. And she did, despite lacking the Shintao/Light Monk’s self-healing finishers. As you learned in HC, anything goes because survival, rather than anything else, matters. The classes I’ve seen level up and thrive are those I’m not all that familiar or have fun with, of which mixing up Wizard classes aided a lot of the HC elite players. Next time, perhaps, I will be more ambitious in some way!

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