A Perilous Move of the Dojo

With MyDDO’s imminent demise, I’ve successfully transferred the content there to this new blog. I’m already missing the companionship of the other blogs, but hopefully everyone there will have a new blog site where we can share links and continue our reading.

Most of the links are still cross-referencing the DDO links and will soon die, but it’s likely I won’t get to fixing them very soon.

Also, I’m heavily enjoying the diversity of built-in WordPress themes. I’m trying out several in the course of the days to one that’s easily readable and is more or less complementary in form to the simple themes of my companion website, home of the Monk guide. Be patient while I go all squee and change the website’s appearance like a girl with unlimited credit in a shoe store.

Crunching AC Numbers

With all my “L33T UBER MONK TANK1!!” talk lately, I’ve began to study something that you’d think I’d know more about, but don’t. That’s Armor Class, the various bonus types and how a Monk should really, really work to make this number high. In a later post I’ll take Lynncletica apart to see where she needs some work to think of herself as tanking material.

About the Voiced Stories

I’ve written many stories where my toons tell a tale. Syncletica and her monastery and her charges. Arcammedes and Ayvanna, new and upcoming Artificers.

Part of the reason I write these stories is to help note special skills, feats and items related to that class. It’s real meat-and-potatoes data, fitted into a story context, that helps you understand why you may care to consider skills, feats and items for your toons.

That, and I’m trying to keep my hand in with fiction writing. Been working on a book (now books) for years now, and hope to get something out to an agent sometime.

I hope you enjoy the stories while they also remind you of what you can do with your toon. DDO is more clicky-clicky than role-play, and my stories aim to add a little of the RPG back in an otherwise great game.

Risia: Ridiculously Great Time to Be a Monk

Syncletica has been gathering Purple Coins like masterwork gear in a level 2 quest–fast and plentiful. It’s really amazing how this class excels in jumping to the point of flying across the Harbor. I plan to farm the hell out of this area and apply Icy Burst on anything I can get my hands on, especially for Lynncletica, my Mountain Stance grandmaster-to-be. Bursts for her Holy Bursts of Pure Good wraps would be…well, nice! And if time allows, I’ll upgrade my guild’s Monk back with a few select low level wraps with burst on them for the promising group of Monks that are growing there.

The Three-Minute “Frame Work”

So, I was feeling bored and wanted to continue pushing the stealth skills of Ryncletica, my dark Monk. After a fashion, I’ve learned to solo her (no hirelings) in a few quests (such as “Maraud the Mines” and “Blockade Buster“). So I did a Google search on DDO quests where stealth is useful and found this article on Frame Work, Elite difficulty.

There it tells of the story of “Mr. Cow,” a player on Khyber that completes that quest in about 3 minutes.

That’s right. Three frickin’ minutes.

After watching the Bovinemaster in action, I attempted to repeat it with Ryncletica.

It works.

Now, Mr. Cow’s toon was not purely a Monk. He had some spellcasting ability that helped him. Ryncletica is a Ninja Spy, so her options came down to using Shadow Fade (1 minute invisibility and partially insubstantial) with Hide/Move Silently to quickly get parts for the ballistas. Well, not so quickly. That added 4-5 minutes to scour the countryside.

Getting in was done just as the Cowster did it, over the Fisher’s Gate. Had to dispatch a few minotaurs that had good Spot or True Seeing before I found the one ballista that’s conveniently pointing towards the interior of the boss’s lair. Stoned a runt to complete the first goal.

That’s where things went more pair-shaped. I launched myself into the lair. The medusa’s dialogue can be interrupted if you’re detected. The Cowmeister’s invisibility was so strong that he meditated right next to the Chieftain (your last goal) as the NPC dialogue continued.  I settled on meditating outside before entering just in case. I wanted my master attack to be ready. The Touch of Death, a 500-point power strike that may likely kill the chieftain outright.

But there was also two or three target I wanted to consider, although the Bovine Master avoided them. There’s an ogre mage and an armored Droaam orc there that I hoped to keep at bay to open the chest there (which Mr. Cow did just for sport). Most people on the board knew the goal of speedy completion is just for the XP.

Ryn was able to dispatch the chieftain fast but, unlike Mr. Cow’s attempt, the secondary bosses were on top of me quickly. With no hireling and only my Vampiric Stonedust Wraps to help healing, I wouldn’t last too long. After somehow managing to open the chest, I bailed back to Dorris, the wise-cracking quest giver, to receive about 4,000 XP. Not bad.

Perhaps the use of paralyzers will give me just enough time. The best tactic I had was to smack about the growing mob to recharge my Touch of Death and pop it as often as possible. Same for another death strike (except for the red-named), the Quivering Palm.

Guess who’s farming that quest this weekend?

Update 11 is up!

The Update is up. The artificer is too attractive: it may be my very first mage. I love the steampunky-ness of it. Sadly, it’s a bad, bad multiclass fit for Monks (as are most spellcasters).

Two important things: While the Favored Souls and Air Savant Sorcerers had their leap abilities cooled a little, the Monk’s Abundant Step was not changed. Ki is still hard to get for some (though not me…I’m a frickin’ wuxia fighter in most quests, leaping about like crazy). Donnie Yen has got nothing on me.

And, thank the Makers, Ghost Touch bugs on handwraps are fixed.

Stay tuned.

To Zerg or Not To Zerg

DDO is a very rich adventure. I’ve spent many, many hours and have not yet explored every quest or raid. I’ve certainly not discovered every little secret or chest. In short, there’s plenty for me yet to enjoy.

But it seems to me that, for many (especially with parties) the aesthetics of the game (the scenery, the backstory, puzzles and optional battles) are often eclipsed in favor of immediate gratification. Loot. Experience points. Levels.

There is something to be said for going slower. I know I’m an old bastard in the gaming world. (“Back in my day, we played games that had ONE pixel! And we LIKED it!”) Yet, how can most players just fly by or through quests without enjoying what DDO is: A virtual world turned art form.

There are plenty of quests to cite to show the programming beauty as well as the thought given to gameplay that weren’t designed with zerging in mind. To start, enter “The Captives” quests (Level 3 or so) and you are near a stone bridge under a radiant sky, with a small lake below. The beauty of this quest made me stop a bit in awe before beginning the obligatory orc slaying.

Another well-designed quest is the Delera’s Tomb chain. It epitomizes “dungeon” but places bits of backstory (specifically, the symbols of the Sovereign Host (who you interact with in the “Relic of a Sovereign Past” quest) and the history (and politics) of Delera I. Seeing her great-great granddaughter elsewhere as a Coin Lord tells you her progeny are not to be trifled with.

Speaking of Coin Lords, The Lordsmarch quest series are heavy in detail and ornate styles, while the Reign of Madness chain is Lovecraftian-chic, great loot for the puzzle-wise and just plain bat-$#!! CRAZY, with the madness of Xoriat brought to view in…icky, squishy, macabre detail.

Of all the quests, I yearn to visit in full the Necropolis series. Aside from the damned obvious need for the Devout Handwraps for a few Monks, the ponderous issues with a few quests have gotten in the way of simply going out to do some undead slaying. I’m sure I’ll get a guide from the guild sometime. Syncletica and Lynncletica (light Monks) would completely rule there.

I want to level my toons as anyone else. But I also want to enjoy what the game offers. So, often I play alone, sneaking with my rogue or ninja. Stealth brings a new challenge in itself: Complete the mission with as low a kill count while with as much loot and XP as you can get. Sure, Conquest bonus is nice, but completing the optionals lets you take in (at least once) the detail that the developers have provided. The joy of beating the traps and moving past whole armies of evil is often more interesting than a kill count.

There are some quests so poorly designed or ponderous that you wished you could zerg through. We know what these are. Perhaps the XP isn’t great, and the best item in its loot table is a +3 Dull Spoon of Lesser Ooze Bane. Maybe the quest is buggy. On these quests, it would be great for the developers to review them, expanding or rewriting them to improve their quality.

The Blessings of Healing Amp

After reconfiguring Syncletica’s enhancements to take Human Improved and Monk Improved Recovery III, while in GM Wind Stance, Syn pulls an average 75 HP from Healing Ki, an easy increase from 40-60 before the changes. In Fire Stance this spikes to 80-90. I don’t think I’m even wearing any Potency items as I normally do when I watched these numbers, so I’ll go back to test later to see if they influence things, as well as with Ardor potions.

But it’s when Clerics heal me that tickled me very pleasantly lately. In a recent successful elite run in Running with the Devils, a Cleric heal smacked me with a 200+ burst. I’m not sure if Cleric’s empower is stacking with my amplifications, but there it is.

The adjustments were a Good Thing that should be noticeable in later Shroud runs and raids. Muchos gratias to the many on the boards that learn this and pass on the knowledge.

End-Game Monk Gear

The forum boards have a bit on what the well-fashioned Monk should strive to wear by the time they reach their capstone, yet much of the information is older and misses out on changes in recent DDO updates.

Well, I’m going to bring us a little more up to date.

Syncletica is my capped light Shintao monk. She already has these special gear items that are epic-level or can be upgraded:

*Oremi’s Necklace: CON +6, Enhanced Ki +1. This is an awesome way to generate ki rapidly, especially in Fire stance.
*Epic Brawling Gloves (Tier 3): Adds piercing damage, adds an extra chance to stun, sneak damage, STR+7, two augment slots. What’s not to like, except…
*Spectral Gloves: DEX+5, Attack +2, Ethereal. I immediately switch to these from the Brawling Gloves when ghosts and dream creatures appear. Epic version adds more to DEX and attack, with a yellow augment slot.
* The Blood Stone: Leading additional crits is paramount. At the rate that you will hit, the odds of crits are very good. A Blood Stone makes this all the more likely. Now, add a Blood Stone to a Monk in Earth Stance III or IV and you have a destroyer: Your handwraps/weapons will go to x3 to x5 crits (thanks Update 9!). If I can get this upgraded, so much the better.

The items that Syn would trade half of her guildies over to the devils for include:

*Shintao Cord and Kyosho’s Ring: The necklace gives CON+6 and Concentration +15, and the ring WIS+6 and Enhanced DEX +1. Together, they give not just an exceptional +2 to To-Hit and to damage rolls but the ultimate DR busting reward. If you are Shintao Monk III, your unarmed attacks bust Good or Evil DR. That means that you can stack damage, foregoing Pure Good/Righteous wraps for extra damage on your prefix and suffix. Can you say “+3 Stunning Burst Handwraps of Greater Outsider Bane” to Harry in the Shroud? Yes, yes you can. And, most importantly, the ring’s Incredible Potential can be unlocked to add elemental bursts that work on unarmed damage. A Holy Burst ring–oh, my.
*Oremi’s Ring: A nice match to my necklace. This ring can also be crafted. When both items are worn, there’s 1d6 fire damage in every hit. A worthy option except against iron golems and most devils.
*A Greensteel Cloak tier 2, +45 HP, DEX, Stoneskin 2x, eventually Chain Lightning. As soon I’m certain that the strange issues with tier 3 crafting are done and gone, a Shroud run or two might give me the last ingredients needed to craft this one last time. (Remember that GS handwraps don’t exist–that’s the benefit of working on the rings from the Tower of Despair (ToD) raid (see below).

So, what’s missing?

Well, anything that adds the following is a bonus:

* Healing amplification. Syn just rearranged her enhancements for both Human and Monk Improved Recovery III. The effects on her Healing Ki bursts is very encouraging.
* Greater False Life/hitpoints/Toughness. Syn sits at 387-407 HP, even after I had to drop a Racial Toughness level or two. I have a GFL and a Heavy Fort belt at present. When not wearing the Garments of Equilibrium, I put on the Icy Raiment for better saves and AC, which lacks HF.
* Unstable Handwraps: So the bug in handwraps of non-lawful alignment which can be wielded without a negative level is now officially a working-as-intended matter with these babies. Too bad you can’t add anything more to these, but they should make Amrath runs a real treat for Shintao Monks or those with unlocked ToD rings.

What you should farm for as you make your way upward:

* Sacred Helm: Deathblock on your head means never having to take off your Icys or Garments of E. I still keep my Deathblock Outfits of (Elemental) Resistance but, with higher saves, this is less of an issue. It’s companion ring, worn together, may add 30% healing amp, but I have yet to confirm this.
* Metal-studded handwraps. These sometimes drop in the Devil’s Assault quest. If you’re lucky, a Pure Good prefix might be found on them to satisfy the Ninja Spy dark monk’s desperate need for DR punching handwraps that Shintao Monks don’t have to work for.

More to come as I chew through new information.