The Irresistable Bowmaster

tauriel

Tauriel from the film of the book, “The Hobbit.” She’s got nothing to do with the post. I just think she’s lovely.

With Pynthetica the Zen Master at 5,000 favor, capped all levels and relevant destinies, and completing raids to gather ingredients and gear to create and improve her Legendary Green Steel and Thunder-Forged bows, it was time to finally dust off Paracleta.

Paracleta, as you might remember, is an experimental build that’s the opposite of the stealthy, high-defense, virtually uninterruptable damage on single-target zen mastery of Pynthetica. The “Zen Bowmaster” build is intended to a swift-moving DPS build that does not stay still.

The challenges I have with Paracleta involve the near-exclusive use of the Elven Arcane Archer tree. Rather than glomming resources from both Ninja Spy and Harper Agent trees, I need to max out the AA tree at 40+ action points so I can have a much-higher inherent Doubleshot than Pyn’s 32%. Paracleta’s base Doubleshot should be nearly 58% by level 25.

Because I haven’t enough action points to spare after adding the required AP for the Elf racial enhancements for Dexterity-to-Damage, Paracleta won’t have a high Incorporeality, losing out on Ninja Spy’s 25% Shadow Veil. Her Dodge won’t be as high (perhaps 27% at Epic). She can still gain Lesser Displacement (25% Blurry) with an item–but even Pyn hasn’t found that item for herself yet. Ranged Power damage will be a bit less, too, with no use of the Harper enhancements.

I could be wrong on the AP as the AA update clearly adjusted ranks and some point requirements. If I can find points for Shadow Veil, I will use it.

But, as with other builds, serendipity often comes from gameplay.

At the end of level 11, I added Terror Arrows to the mix.

Now I’ve played Pynthetica in her first life as a Human Ranger Arcane Archer, so I’m familiar enough with Arcane Archers. But it seems the Arcane Archer’s recent enhancement update has improved the potential effectiveness of Terror Arrows greatly to Paracleta’s benefit. This is the current definition:

On Hit: Target is feared. (Will save vs. DC: 20 + Wisdom Modifier + Enchantment Spell Bonuses)
On Vorpal: Target is subject to a Phantasmal Killer effect.
Passive: +1 bonus to DC of Enchantment Spells

 

So, what’s a Monk known for, in terms of ability stats? Often, a very high WIS.

Pyn’s higher WIS serves for stronger damage and Doubleshot using Ten Thousand Stars, in addition to great Will saves and total available ki. Paracleta will gain greater benefit from the same stat but, since the success of Terror Arrows is based on a high WIS modifier, Paracleta stands to halt more enemies with these arrows than many other builds, including Rangers, who might add 14 base points to WIS to gain their spells but not add much more to the stat. Likewise, monkcher builds, often using STR from their Ranger levels as the bow damage, concentrate on STR with just enough WIS to have enough ki for Ten Thousand Stars.

Therefore, while DEX is the ruling damage stat on both Zen builds, a higher WIS (50 or more) on Paracleta will mean not only that Terror Arrows could be an incredible crowd-controller, but so will all the other specialty arrow imbues, including Paralyzing Arrows, Smiting Arrows and Banishing Arrows, now all using the same definition. Short of red-named immunity, there would be few enemies that will resist a hit.

So imagine a single arrow on Improved Precise Shot that paralyses or Fears a mob very reliably. Standard paralysis is only DC 17, while I will have much more, as high as my WIS will go: At 50 WIS, that’s a 40 DC at least. So if spell casters can still charm and do related things at similar modifiers on INT or CHA, I should be able to make do–I hope.

And if I can understand the arcane bonuses from Enchantment bonuses and where and how I can boost those to improve the overall DC of all these arrows, so much the better. Tips are appreciated. I found some named goggles to add a point.

I ran Paracleta through some level 6 quests on Elite to get their XP. On her first life she can just sneeze and gain 100 XP, so leveling up is less a priority than to experiment with what Paracleta can do.

In “Redwillow’s Ruins”, “Taming the Flames” and “Tear of Dakkaan”, Paracleta ruled those places with Terror Arrows, causing all kinds of things that should be hard to Fear to run away. My keyboard controller is set up for me to quickly change targets so I can keep everything Feared while also shooting them dead. My hireling Cleric even survived “Flames”, a place where hirelings quickly die because of spamming fireballs from the fire elementals. But these things can’t spam if they’re too busy running away. Same for the hobgoblins. I kept them at bay, with my Frozen Tunic occasionally entombing enemies, or Vorpal hits activating Phantasmal Killer effects for a quick kill.

With level 15 now banked after a powerful run through the Red Fens and Vault of Night chains, I watched Paracleta nail Fear or Ph.Killer with 98% success in some Demon Sands side quests. The real test comes in the Droaam quests. Those guys have better saves over many other enemies.

But when I tackle them, I’ll have a +2 WIS tome and at least 32 WIS.

I guess I shouldn’t worry too much about Paracleta’s overall defense. It may be no worse than Szyncletica the Shuricannon. With a high DEX (at least 45, I hope, by cap) Paracleta will also have good reflexes, too. Not using Improved Precise Shot on the Zen Archer build to avoid getting attention was the deal there. But with several levels of mob-stopping power available to the Arcane Archer, IPS is not only back on the table, but desired.

After all, the whole purpose of the build is to see how hard you can push the all-Monk build using existing enhancements. Since Monks have a great overall default set of saves, it shouldn’t be impossible to make due with even three-fourths of Pyn’s defense.

At level 15 it’s time to wear more stout armor than the Level 12 Frozen Tunic, so either a stored Icy Raiment or White Dragonscale Robe is due. I have the insane Unwavering Ardency bow from the Anniversary event for equal measure. The modifier for that bow with a Seal of the Black Abbot is making me actually run the Orchard chain and explore the wilderness to get the needed items to get that seal.

With a goal of getting 50+ WIS by level 30, Paracleta should be something interesting to play. Now I can’t wait to go to level 15 and add Improved Precise Shot. That’s where the fun begins.

Paracleta will share one common trait with Pynthetica in that total weapon damage is less important than a secondary benefit from the build. In Pyn’s case, it’s total defense from high Reflex and miss-chance. High weapon damage came along as part of the design and n Epic Destinies and Ranged Power in Epic. In Paracleta’s situation, at this point, it’s the overall DC to speciality imbues for tactical control of a battlefield–and applying that pain to as many targets as possible with as many hits per attack as possible with high Doubleshot and Improved Precise Shot.

The Zen Archery feat also takes hold when WIS is higher than DEX in determining the attack roll. I just need to keep DEX high to keep damage going.

So Paracleta will gain so much from just boosting WIS throughout her lifetime to ensure her specialty arrows do their work no matter what the difficulty. She may end up becoming far more “Zen” than Pyn.

I’ll likely post a video sometime of Paracleta doing her thing in a Droaam quest just to show it off. I might have enough data to post the official build by 20 but want to push her further to find her big weaknesses since every build has one.

FYI: The character’s name (pear-uh-KLEET-uh) fits barely in my typical character naming scheme and is based on another name for the Holy Spirit in Christian theology: “Paraclete” means “the advocate.” She tries to invoke the spirit of the bow.

Bowmaster – The Aggressive Zen

A revisit to an old idea but with a bit more spice.

A revisit to an old idea but with a bit more spice.

(Updated: Thanks for the corrections, gentle readers.)

Now that I understand more on how to perfect a simple non-Ranger archer, it’s time to answer the other side of the question.

The Zen Archer excels in sniper shooting combined with high miss-chance defenses, evasion and spell resistance. To make all that work, she can’t call a lot of attention to herself, but especially not in melee fights.

The recent Update 28 Patch 1 has actually improved the overall Ranged Power of the Zen Archer because of the changes to Ten Thousand Stars. (That is, at least I think so.) I may make a variation where WIS is higher than DEX since Ranged Power is greatly increased with TTS.

But I digress. It’s time to create a more aggressive Monk Archer, or “monkcher.” One that stays a pure Monk (and thus maximizes the benefits of TTS) but, unlike the Zen Archer, sacrifices a bit of defense for Doubleshot bonuses as well as high damage over multiple targets.

An archer build that is designed to attack first and count the bodies later.

My working name for the build is the “Zen Bowmaster.”

I’ve tried this before with Pynthetica a while back and didn’t get a lot of traction because I neglected to research how bow damage is calculated.

It will be an Elf as well to use DEX to damage. However, WIS is boosted to give more Ranged Power and attack bonus for as long as she can spam TTS. That’s particularly important since Action Points will be at a premium in such a build and can’t be used to get Ranged Power elsewhere.

The Elf side needs 20 points or so to complete the Aerenal Weapon Training, Aerenal Grace (DEX-to-Damage for bows), Skill (3% Doubleshot), a point into Arcanum (some MP) and then 4 AP to activate the Elven Arcane Archer tree.

Most of the AP in the AA tree go into the things you’d expect. Since the Elf AA tree levels slowly, with the last two core abilities not available until levels 22 and 25, I have to reserve AP until those last cores are available, especially Master of Imbuement for 20% additional Doubleshot. This will go with any Enhancement bonuses from gear (the heroic and epic Dynamistic Quiver come to mind) and the Epic Destiny feat of Doubleshot for 10% more.

So, by level 28 I will have at least 5% (Skill and 2% guild ship buff) with Shadow Arrows (5%) and Master of Imbuement (20%) for a standing 30% Doubleshot, not counting any item Enhancements. The Epic Destiny feat gives 20% 10% at level 28 for a total standing 50% 40% Doubleshot without item Enhancements.

The magic is added with Ten Thousand Stars as it adds (Monk level x 5) to Doubleshot for 30 seconds. At level 28, that’s 140% 100% additional Doubleshot for a total of 140% Doubleshot. That’s a 80% chance to shoot an additional arrow on every attack in addition to the usual additional arrow. Ranged Power also goes through the roof, The higher the WIS, the more Ranged Power appears to boost overall damage.

The Bowmaster has to forsake the bonus features that the Zen Archer favored from the Harper Agent tree and most of the Ninja Spy tree. Although this Monk is aligned as a dark Monk like the Zen Archer, it simply won’t have enough AP to add more than a few points into Ninja Spy to train Stealthy for +1 passive ki regeneration and Acrobatic for some Dodge, perhaps. Shadow Veil, 25% Incorporeality, is too expensive, so Ghostly items may be the best the Bowmaster can do. They’ll be lots more Ranged Power from TTS than what I could manage from Harper Agent, in any case. Next to Shadow Veil, I’ll miss the Ninja Spy’s 30% extra damage from No Mercy.

The Bowmaster might have some stealth, but I don’t think it’s her calling. Perhaps I may experiment with Use Magic Device. I might, just might, be able to get enough UMD to use Heal scrolls with points and the right items. Others have done it, so all I need to do is emulate what’s been done. That first change from my initial tooling in Character Builder Lite was to have at least 10 CHA and get a +5 Tome for that ability to aid in UMD. That, and rip all skill points from Hide and Move Silently. I could also add in an INT tome for one or two more skill points to add to UMD, of course.

She’s going to need that healing. The Bowmaster, with Improved Precise Shot often active, is a berserker like her monkcher brethren. She’ll use her AA powers to punch through and heavily damage the hordes. She won’t be still at all like her counterpart Zen Archer except in the basic monastic defenses and movement speed, as well as benefits from Earth Stance and Ocean Stance to critical threat range and passive ki regeneration, respectively. Perhaps I can work in Shot on the Run for a bit more Ranged Power and remove any movement-based attack penalties.

The feats should be similar to the Zen Archer except: No Dragonmarks for eventual use of Displacement; Improved Precise Shot is added. Deflect Arrows may be optional in favor of Dodge or a feat to help with UMD. I also mentioned considering Shot on the Run.

Here’s the preliminary build for those interested. Comments welcome. I won’t be adding this one up for “discussion” on the DDO forums for now, at least until I get it working. I’m confident that you don’t need to spray levels in non-Monk classes to get the most out of a Monk archer. Like everything else I tend to build, I believe you simply need more monastic cowbell.

More to come as I move Paracleta, this Arcane Archer Monk version 2, through her paces.

Zen Bowmaster
Monk 20
Lawful Good Elf


Stats
. . . . . . . .28pt . . 32pt. . .34pt . . 36pt. . .Tome . . Level Up
. . . . . . . .---- . . ----. . .---- . . ----. . .---- . . --------
Strength. . . . 10. . . .10 . . . 10. . . .10 . . . . . . . .4: DEX
Dexterity . . . 16. . . .17 . . . 17. . . .18 . . . +5. . . .8: DEX
Constitution. . .6. . . . 8 . . . 10. . . .11 . . . . . . . 12: DEX
Intelligence. . .8. . . . 8 . . . .8. . . . 8 . . . . . . . 16: WIS
Wisdom. . . . . 18. . . .18 . . . 18. . . .18 . . . +5. . . 20: WIS
Charisma. . . . 12. . . .12 . . . 12. . . .11 . . . +5. . . 24: DEX
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28: DEX

Skills
. . . . . 1 .2. 3 .4. 5 .6. 7 .8. 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
. . . . .------------------------------------------------------------
Concent . 4 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 23
Spot. . . 4 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 1 .1. 23
UMD . . . 2 .½. ½ .½. ½ .½. ½ .½. ½ .½. ½ .½. ½ .½. ½ .½. ½ .½. ½ .½. 11½
. . . . .------------------------------------------------------------
. . . . .12 .3. 3 .3. 3 .3. 3 .3. 3 .3. 3 .3. 3 .3. 3 .3. 3 .3. 3 .3


Feats

.1. . . . : Skill Focus: Use Magic Device
.1 Monk . : Deflect Arrows
.2 Monk . : Zen Archery
.3. . . . : Point Blank Shot
.3 Monk . : Path of Inevitable Dominion
.6. . . . : Rapid Shot
.6 Monk . : Ten Thousand Stars
.9. . . . : Manyshot
12. . . . : Precise Shot
15. . . . : Improved Critical: Ranged
18. . . . : Improved Precise Shot
21 Epic . : Combat Archery
24 Epic . : Great Ability: Wisdom
26 Destiny: Toughness
27 Epic . : Blinding Speed
28 Destiny: Doubleshot


Enhancements (40 of 80 AP)

Elf (20 AP)
. . • Elven Accuracy, Elven Dexterity, Elven Accuracy II
. . . . .1. Aerenal Weapon Training
. . . . .2. Aerenal Weapon Training, Arcanum I
. . . . .3. Aerenal Weapon Training, Arcane Archer
. . . . .4. Aerenal Grace, Aerenal Weapon Training, Skill

Elf-Arcane Archer (13 AP)
. . • Arcane Archer, Morphic Arrows
. . . . .1. Energy of the Wild III, Corrosive Arrows
. . . . .2. Force Arrows III

Ninja Spy (7 AP)
. . • Basic Ninja Training
. . . . .1. Stealthy III, Acrobatic III


Destiny (24 AP)

Shiradi Champion
. .1. Healing Spring III, Dexterity
. .2. Prism, Pin II, Wisdom
. .3. Rainbow, Otto's Whistler II, Wisdom
. .4. Double Rainbow
. .5. Nerve Venom III
. .6. Audience with the Queen

Twists of Fate (3 fate points)
. .1. Dance of Flowers (Tier 1 Flowers)
. .2. Rejuvenation Cocoon (Tier 1 Primal)

The Arcane Archer Monk

 

Not all martial arts training requires a blade or empty hand.

The Arcane Archer Monk: Levels slower, less versatile than a Ranger, BIG Epic payoff.

After my last post on a more viable Zen Archer, Sir Geoff of Hanna commented back, asking what a DEX-based Arcane Archer Monk would be like.

And then light dawned again as I replied back.

The Basics

Going Elf, as with the Zen Archer, allows Dexterity-to-Damage, foregoing the need for any Ranger levels to get Bow Strength. It also resolves any weapon proficiency required for longbows for a Monk.

You’ll need Zen Archery, of course, to Center the bow. The usual ranged feats are needed, starting with Point Blank Shot, Quick Draw, and Precise Shot, adding in Ten Thousand Stars as a class feat at level 6, Improved Critical: Ranged at level 12, Precision and Manyshot at levels 15 and 18. As an Epic character, you can add two more feats.

You’d need to have 4 AP saved up to train the Arcane Archer tree from the Elf racial tree.

But AP is where things get very, very tricky.

I Canna Change T’ Laws O’ Physics, Captain!

The Zen Archer’s advantage comes from adding damage from the Harper Agent tree, but only after these requirements are met:

  • Elf racial requirements (20 AP minimum)
    • Dragonmark training up to Displacement
    • Aerenal Grace for DEX-to-Damage
    • Skill for 3% Doubleshot/3% Dodge
    • Core 1: Elven Accuracy I
    • Core 2: Elven Dexterity I
  • Ninja Spy (14 AP minimum)
    • Stealthy in Ninja Spy (3 ranks )
    • Acrobatic (3 ranks)
    • Faster Sneaking (1 rank)
    • Agility (3 ranks)
    • Core 1: Ninja Training
    • Core 2: Advanced Ninja Training
    • Core 3: Shadow Veil
  • Henshin Mystic (8 AP minimum)
    • Way of the Tenacious Badger
    • Core 1: Riddle of Fire
    • Mystic Training
    • Negotiator (2 ranks)
    • Contemplation (3 ranks)

All of this training gives the basic Monk archer the required Dodge, Concealment, Incorporeality skills, Dodge, and, most importantly, every passive ki regeneration option from enhancements, gaining another +1 passive ki regeneration with level 12. Without it, a Monk archer wouldn’t have sufficient ki generated to power Ten Thousand Stars (20 ki) or Shadow Veil (15 ki) with any regularity.

That leaves a paltry 38 AP. The elven Arcane Archer tree can eat up to 66 AP alone. You need 40 + 1 AP to train the last core ability. You’re 3 AP short.

You can shave 3 AP from the Dodge cap increasing Agility without a sizable problem in defense, leaving you with just enough AP to complete the fifth core. And you might be able to remove 2 AP from Faster Sneaking.

But Elven Arcane Archers level slower than their Ranger brethren. Your Heroic training won’t be completed until you’re a level 25 Epic character, holding back those 2 AP from your Heroic days until you reach levels 22 and 25 respectively, where the fourth and fifth core enhancements are available.

But what AA training do you pick with only 41 AP?

Where Many Monks Have Gone Before

The monkcher builds use AA training, of course. Their multiclassing allows some class benefits that a single-class Monk doesn’t get automatically, particularly a larger spell point bar. So the AA tree has to first establish and improve spell point increases to empower imbuements or this build can’t do anything at all with too little SP.

The goal of the AA Monk is to generate versatile damage combined with Monk defenses. While the monkcher leverages all kinds of classes and epic destinies, I envision the AA Monk as a more versatile strafing, kiting fighter–the complete opposite of the Zen Archer but with similar advantages because of full Monk class training.

Core 1, Tier 1

  • Arcane Archer: Core 1 requirement, 1 AP, to activate the tree.
  • Energy of the Wild: 3 ranks, 3 AP. You gain Magical Training at 3 ranks to support passive SP regeneration with Echoes of Power and 80 spell points.

We’ll skip Conjure Arrows, saving 2 AP. You can train enough with House Deneith to gain Sturdy arrows at 75% return.

  • Elemental Arrows I: 2 AP. You need to spend AP to grow into the next tier, and taking at least one of these imbuements is wise.

Core 2: Tier 2 (5 AP prerequisite, 6 AP spent)

Any of these enhancements cost 2 AP. Only Elemental Arrows have only 1 rank, while the others have 3. Best to train only 1 rank on two of them. You’ll also need to train the Core ability 2. In this example, I’ll pick:

  • Morphic Arrows: Core 2 requirement, 1 AP.
  • Elemental Arrows II: 2 AP.
  • Force Arrows: 2 AP, rank 1.

Core 3, Tier 3 (10 AP prerequisite, 11 AP spent)

From here, we try to boost DEX for more general damage as well. Two selections have 3 ranks at 2 AP a rank, but the others are single rank. Of the options, I’ve always been meh on Shattermantle, so I train these enhancements instead:

  • Terror Arrows: 2 AP, rank 1.
  • Elemental Arrows III: 2 AP.
  • Dexterity: 1 point to DEX, 2 AP.

But I need 20 AP spent in the tree to move forward and have only spent 17 here. Preferring damage that can’t be resisted by most, I train another rank in

  • Force Arrows (Tier 2, rank 2): 2 AP

and also

  • Metalline Arrows (Core 3 requirement): 1 AP

Tier 4 (20 AP prerequisite, 20 spent)

Training everything on this tier won’t get us to the next tier at 30 AP. We’ll need to back-train with a few AP as last time to spend 10 AP.

Do note that training the tier requires character level 12, but we can’t train the fourth core ability, Aligned Arrows, until character level 15.

  • Banishing Arrows: 1 AP.
  • Paralyzing Arrows: 3 AP, 3 ranks.
  • Smiting Arrows: 1 AP.
  • Dexterity: 2 AP.
  • Elemental Arrows IV: 2 AP.
  • Aligned Arrows (Core 4 requirement): 1 AP

Tier 5 (30 AP prerequisite, 30 AP spent)

We still have a comparatively generous 11 AP left to spend. However, you’ll be stuck with 2 AP as you train as an Epic character, unable to unlock the last two cores until later. And you have to spend every point you have left, somewhere, leaving 2 points for Core 5 and 6.

  • Arrow of Slaying: 2 AP.
  • Improved Elemental Arrows: 1 AP
  • Runebow: 2 AP.
  • Force Arrows (Tier 2, rank 3): 2 AP
  • True Strike (Tier 1): 1 AP, 1 rank.

That leaves:

  • Shadow Arrows (Core 5 requirement, level 22 required): 1 AP
  • Master of Imbuement (Core 6, level 25 required): 1 AP.

A Better Monk Archer?

I think so. It gains many benefits of the Zen Archer while gaining greater versatility with damage from the imbuements. This build is far less a flavor build as the Zen Archer, but its payoff is slower.

But what this Elven Arcane Archer Monk really does well is Doubleshot. It gains 3% from Elven racial training, and 25% more from the Core 5 and 6 abilities. Then train in the Epic Destiny feat of Doubleshot for 10% more, and then add in an enhancement bonus from some weapon that likely will give up to 6%. That’s 44% sustained Doubleshot, friends.

And I’m not adding in any Epic Destiny abilities.

That’s probably a good thing, because we’ll blow our minds by imagining this character fully trained in the Divine Crusader destiny with Tier 5 ability, Celestial Champion (up to 10% more Doubleshot, if you can withstand getting critically hit enough times in a given period) and the last core ability, Zeal of the Righteous. That’s a toggled power-trip of decaying 50% bonus Doubleshot and 50 Ranged Power on top of that 44%.

I was planning to have Artemistika the Ranger train as a Druid next. But with all of her many trained EDs, she may enter the convent and loiter in the archer’s glade training area for life #2. And I guess training yet another destiny, say, Divine Crusader, isn’t a bad idea now.

Now that I’ve got a bead on character building in a formal way, thanks to forum member EllisDee’s Character Planner Lite, I will post a more detailed build later on the forums and in the Monk guide.

 

 

 

A Simple Zen Archer

She's not much, but she's got it where it counts.

She’s not much, but she’s got it where it counts.

Reincarnating Pynthetica from a human Arcane Archer Ranger to a elven AA Monk has been fun.

Pyn is not a “monkcher.”  Teacher Unbongwah replied recently to someone asking what that build was, with a perfect general description.

I’m not a power gamer, although I do like to win. Part of the sense of accomplishment is success using the tools at hand without borrowing the traits of other classes. I know that means that the feat and AP costs might be higher. I might sacrifice a little DPS.

I like the self-imposed challenge of understanding all that is monastic. The new class trees allow greater augmentations of any Monk to do just about anything. While I first groused about the ability for all Monks to gain all elemental stances with Update 19, I now exploit that change to my advantage.

So, like Kiricletica, Pynthetica has a type of self-imposed challenge to push herself to the limit as Kiri did (learning a lot about finishers and Ninja Poison in the process). What powers, advantages and weaknesses does an Arcane Archer Monk possess that we might miss by going the powergamer monkcher route? What things can a level 20, 22 and 25 Elven Monk AA do (or cannot do) in relation to other builds? Which capstone enhancements are better? How does a pure Monk handle a bow in comparison to a single shuriken or a pair of shortswords?

Despite my research, I’ve not found anyone that’s settled in making a pure elven AA Monk on the forums in recent history. So I may be tilling new ground in such a basic build. Hopefully, as with Kiri, I learn something new.

Despite not being a monkcher, Pyn’s true path as a zen archer can show a baseline, a better idea of how Monk levels and class training can leverage the art of Zen Archery while still having all the Monk innate strengths.

Level 10 Offensives

Pyn has a small selection of AA enhancements for frost or force arrows and morphic or metallic arrows. Combined with effects from a Red Fens set item, that’s really it. But she hits consistently and generally strong. Precise Shot adds in generating more gradual damage through its Archer’s Focus. It will be a bit before she’s eligible for Improved Precise Shot. Until then, she adds AP to the Arcane Archer tree as she can. I’ll definitely use four AP for 2 points of WIS.

With level 12 comes Ten Thousand Stars. I’ve been adding WIS from as many sources as I can as well as training the Henshin Mystic for Contemplation for another +1 to passive ki regeneration. Getting Greater Ocean Stance now also helps for having enough ki for using Ten Thousand Stars. Her ki pool and regeneration are good at 80 stable ki with a 32 WIS, buffed and in Greater Ocean Stance. She won’t be training Manyshot. I’m able to turn TTS around about as fast as I activate it. All I need is ki.

There’s a fascinating older DDO thread where many players tried (successfully) to determine the percentage of how TTS works. Effectively, get your WIS to 42 or more and you’ll likely shoot 3 arrows most of the time and 4 arrows a little less than half of the time. Unlike Manyshot’s 20 second burst with a 2 minute cooldown, TTS bursts for 30 seconds with a cooldown of only 60, so you can fire off TTS every 30 seconds as long as there’s ki to use it. Monkchers leverage TTS and Manyshot, although they share cooldowns if you try to use them in sequence.

I didn’t know until recently that Earth Stance’s critical multiplier worked with ranged attacks. I’ve tested this while fighting in Threnal after reading a post noting this point. The critical hits did appear larger. If this is truly the case, a pure Monk gains sizable damage advantages with bows early on in their life.

Perhaps related to this matter is a bug that’s turned up on Lammania on ranged attacks where it seems that the archer’s die are 19-sided and not 20, making critical vorpals, at the least, impossible. I’m not sure if that’s on Live servers, but out of curiosity, I sat Pyn on a training dummy and fired many volleys to see if 20 rolls appeared, and they didn’t. The devs are aware.

If I have to drop the bow, Pyn does have Stunning Fist trained. With high WIS (all points are going into this), her DC should be quite respectable.

Level 10 Defensives

I’m just chugging Cure Serious Potions with a little wand-waving for healing. Pyn seems to have better defense than from her first life. I chalk it up to a high Dodge for her level (16%) and Improved Evasion. I’ve also become a better ranged fighter than when I first played Pyn, using the circle-strafing and micro-kiting techniques learned from Szyncletica.

As I get the last Improved Dilettante: Ranger and half-elf Improved Recovery abilities fully trained, Pyn should have decent (although not exemplary) self-healing with wands and will have some Devotion spell power in place to help potions do their best. I have a Greater Nimble Trinket for an easy addition of Blur (20% concealment) for now.

Training in Shadow Veil to complete her better miss-chances with 25% incorporeality requires that I add the two core Ninja Training abilities for shortsword use and Dexterity to Damage. I don’t see enough points to consider training one Ninjutsu ability, Poisoned Soul, to add Ninja Poison to Pyn’s options. I’d rather see No Mercy trained up for extra damage to helpless enemies but this will eat badly into my AP to complete other AA abilities.

As cool it would be to add poisoning to the mix, Ninja Poison requires blades, not bows, so I don’t want to train up things I’d use only occasionally.

Armor Class isn’t bad at 43 or so in Ocean Stance. It’s enough to take a few hits if something manages to get too close.

I need more Spot. I’m challenged to get this since Hide/Move Silently points aren’t a bad idea given the build’s power-striking limits beyond what AA abilities I make. I plan on fixing this over the weekend with some crafted goggles.

One thing that Pyn can do that she couldn’t as a Ranger is move–fast. She has the agility of a Monk, so I can make her manually evade attacks by side-stepping. She also has Abundant Step to leap to a tactical advantage. Kiting is extremely easy. Sound familiar? It should–Szyncletica’s speed also serves her well as a pure Drow Monk.

Feats

Pyn has two feat slots left at 15 and 18. I should take Improved Precise Shot, of course.

Improved Critical: Piercing is also a good idea. But then I thought perhaps I should take Weapon Focus: Piercing to qualify for Bow Strength, rather than relying on the dilettante’s lesser Bow Strength.

I’m leaning this way. If Earth Stance offers a way to improve critical damage without a feat, Bow Strength adds more overall damage per shot rather than a chance at better critical damage.

It’ll be risky to go IPS, then Weapon Focus, and wait for level 21 to add Bow Strength, and 24 for Improved Critical. But by then, I’ll need the edge to damage, not as much in Heroic mode as best I see it.

Equipment

I was too new to the game at the time I rolled up Pyn over 4 years ago to research the useful bows back then, but now I’ve tracked down several bows with impressive damage. Game updates make these choices easier today, anyway.

Until recently I’ve enjoyed the Giant’s Roar, a serviceable bow.

I started farming in Three-Barrel Cove for the Greatbow of the Scrag. This has blunted ammo, less needed with Pyn’s morphic arrows, but it also hates constructs and has a red augment slot. It’s the overall damage of this bow and others that compels me to chase them down.

The second bow I had Szyncletica farm from a 45-min zerg run through Delera’s Tomb: Serpentbranch, a potent high-damage bow with two augment slots. I added a Ruby of the Vampire Slayer to it along with an acid augment and is my standard bow for most things. For undead, the Silver Longbow still made  for superior attacks even after I pulled out my old disrupting bow at level 12.

I’ve entered the wastes of the Sands and culled many gnolls in search of Thornlord, a +4 bow with just one red slot–but has a base damage of 1.50(1d8+2). That thing’s designed to smack like a howitzer. No luck so far.

Getting and using these bows will have to hold me until I hit level 14 and can use Pyn’s wide assortment of stored bows, some loot-generated and others, like the nasty Bow of Sinew and Petrifying War Bow, from quest chains. A +4 Thundering bow of Pure Good is doing well in Threnal anytime I see Renders appear, once I switch to Metallic arrows.

I’m thinking that Pyn needs to follow Szyn’s lead and build a Frozen Tunic. Unlike Szyn, however, Pyn’s comparatively slower DPS means that the freeze effect will appear less often. Perhaps a Ring of the Stalker is a better bet from the challenges while crafting up a White Dragonscale Robe that would likely satisfy Pyn’s defenses even into Epic. Looks like Szyn or Lynn is about to go on some White scale farming runs.

Consistent, Lackluster…Lovable

The elven Monk AA is peculiar. My action point distribution is all over the map. Points into Ninja Spy for Stealthy’s +1 passive ki and Shadow Veil’s incorporeality. Points into Henshin Mystic for Contemplation’s +1 passive ki. Points into the Elven AA tree.

I don’t see a clear “capstone” to look forward to achieving. You know, that moment where the character stands as a powerful Heroic build that dominates many high-end quests. For Kiricletica, that happened early with sufficient WIS and good stealth tactics to use finishers and Ninja Poison. Szyncletica sat pretty at level 16 when she could use her spelltouched shuriken.

There’s just something rather ordinary about Pyn’s growth. It won’t be helped by the slower core ability training that won’t give me my last two AA cores until Epic levels.

So I see more of the monastic in Pyn in a slightly disappointing sense. Nothing is very flashy or creative about an elven AA, unlike a stealthy shortsword ninja or a high-speed star-thrower. They just shoot arrows.

But Pyn has greater miss-chance defenses than a Ranger. She moves much faster. She’s hard to hit. And she does take things down. I guess that’s what really matters. Nothing flashy, just effective. She’s a Monk with a bow, with all the benefits of defense.

Like Szyn, healing is her greater challenge on Heroic. But unlike Szyn, Pyn can make any potions she drinks work more effectively, especially if she can pile in a Devotion item.

It’s Ten Thousand Stars that brings out the magic from within this archer.. Once I can reach a 42 WIS to maximize the chances for more arrows per attack, I’ll be happy. At only 32 WIS, it’s not bad.

Pyn’s Starring Role, Coming Soon

Now that Pyn reached level 12 and has Ten Thousand Stars, I’ll make a video for Pyn to illustrate her in the Monk guide shortly.

A Monastic Video Showcase

Please stand by.

Please stand by.

After posting videos demonstrating the Heroic level and Epic Shiradi Shuricannon, I was reminded of times where differing opinions at least or flame wars at most occur on the DDO forums on what build or what class(es) and abilities will do this and that.

One thread long ago on the Henshin Mystic turned that way but it caught my ire because the dissenting poster, all the while stating that unarmed damage beats quarterstaff damage, also admitted to having not played a Mystic.

Now, I don’t claim in the slightest to creating or possessing characters that are the optimal for anything except for how I like to play. But my Monks don’t suck outright and do a good job of the one thing they’re meant to do: complete a quest or raid.

But I took offense to that poster because it was clear that their min-maxing multiclassing worldview completely dismissed the idea that something else could possibly work. I’m used to this with the Henshin Mystic. As I’ve said in past posts, I’m likely the only comprehensive resource so far (here and in The Book of Syncletica) on defining the Henshin Mystic class based on its enhancement tree, given it’s only been around for yet quite a year.

Rather than get into a debate of words, I realized I have to apply a social truism: “Pictures or it didn’t happen.”

So I’ll add some moving pictures–they’ll be worth hundreds of thousands of words.

Over the next few weeks I’ll add demonstration videos of the pure Ninja Spy, Henshin Mystic and Shintao Monk, each showing my interpretation of each class’s gameplay. Doing this also exposes my personal style, which you may or may not like.

I’ll choose a quest that illustrates their specialities. For a Shintao, it’ll be a brawling quest where undead, aberrations and extraplanar creatures roost. For a Ninja Spy, it may be a quest where a singular objective requires stealth, cunning and tactics to complete. Lastly, it will be Quintessica that will show what I think the developers had in mind, based on the class tree, of what a Mystic can do with a quarterstaff and their mystical ki powers.

Class trees are simply a launching point for players. There’s no point whatsoever in making a Mystic or any other class using only the racial tree and abilities from only one class tree. A Mystic or Shintao that adds in Shadow Veil for incorporeality miss-chance is going to stand a pounding better, as well as a Ninja Spy that adds in abilities from other trees to improve its attack or defense. None of my characters use only the abilities of their class tree.

That said, the purpose of the demo videos is to help new players decide what playstyle they might consider based on the class tree’s innate skills. It never means that a Shintao can’t use a bow or a Ninja Spy can’t use a staff or a Mystic not use handwraps. Versatility is important. However, effectiveness based on your skills makes sense economically for the action points you spend.

Most importantly, the videos can show what the class does flat out–a good illustrative video for players new to the Monk (the exact purpose of the Monk guide). Shintao Monks are self-healing stun-bot goddesses that are hard to kill. Ninja Spies can avoid half of an army to assassinate with deft blade work or unarmed fighting with a deadly skill set. And a Mystic can take on mobs like Neo takes on an army of Agent Smiths using a metal staff.

So, coming soon, I’ll finally make that video of Mystic Quintessica doing her “Burly Brawl.” Later, Lynncletica, the “Little Mountain” will go where Archons fear to tread, perhaps against an army of devils. Lastly, Kiricletica can represent the Ninja Spies somewhere.

If possible, these movies will get linked into their respective chapters in the Monk guide.

Much later, I’ll give the same treatment to the Elven Arcane Archer Monk and a Kensei Fighter I’m working on.