Zen Balance 2: Electric Boogaloo

PynA3So the balance change discussion is now reality with Update 28 Patch 1.

I suspected that none of my ranged characters should take a hit from this. In fact, I thought most should get a boost.

In case you’re a too-long didn’t read kind of person (not likely since you’re coming here to listen to me), here’s the change in a nutshell:

Both Manyshot and Ten Thousand Stars become feats to give brief bonuses to Doubleshot and Ranged Power. There’s no longer any Doubleshot penalties naturally for this reason. Rather than animating a flurry of arrows, your Doubleshot represents additional hits but also more powerful missile hits.

Manyshot = Current Doubleshot + (BAB * 4) with Current Ranged Power + (BAB *4).

Ten Thousand Stars is now aligned to your Monk level and WIS score. TTS Doubleshot = Current Doubleshot + (WIS) with (Monk level * 5) + Current Ranged Power.

So let’s show what I get with this new scheme through pictures. All characters are using Shiradi Champion level 5 and are level 28 unless noted. Weapon types here are less important than any spells, feats, enhancements or ED abilities that improve their BAB, Doubleshot, Ranged Power and WIS.

(Note: I am not strong in HTML and can’t easily correct the headers of the characters slamming against each other below. My apologies if it’s harder to read.)

Szyncletica

Build: Drow Shuricannon (Ninja Spy Monk 28)

Uses: Ten Thousand Stars only. WIS 36 (Ocean Stance)

Before: Doubleshot: 2%, Ranged Power: 54

After: Doubleshot: 102%, Ranged Power: 90

SzynB1

SzynB2SzynA1SzynA2

 

 

 

Artemistika

Build: Elf Deepwood Stalker (Ranger Level 28)

Uses: Manyshot only. BAB 24

Before: Doubleshot: 35%, Ranged Power 73

After: Doubleshot: 131%, Ranged Power 193

MistyB1MistyB2MistyA1MistyA2

 

 

Pynthetica

Build: Elf Zen Archer (Ninja Spy Monk Level 23, Shiradi 4)

Uses:

  • Manyshot, BAB 22
  • Ten Thousand Stars, WIS 39

Before: Doubleshot: 10%, Ranged Power 68

With TTS: Doubleshot: 110%, Ranged Power 122

With Manyshot: Doubleshot: 98%, Ranged Power 144

PynB1PynB2PynA1PynA2PynA3

PynA4

The Outcome

The numbers aren’t as telling as performance, and this varies because of the difference in weapons with the shuriken and bows. All of them blow the training dummy into sawdust in seconds with any of these modes.

Misty’s Manyshot, mostly because the Doubleshot effect adds an additional shot when over 100% now, combined with her high Ranged Power, definitely hasn’t lost the overall effectiveness to me. She holds the highest Doubleshot and Ranged Power scores, which is natural and expected for a Ranger. I would cry out “nerf!” myself if this weren’t the case as the Ranger is the natural archer class. In short, I’m seeing similar effects to the multi-arrow effect of the old Manyshot but with more damage per arrow. The best news here is that the power of Manyshot has greater control to the player. Increase your Doubleshot and/or Ranged Power elsewhere, and the damage increases. In fact, with Killer working, Doubleshot goes up further by 20% with Misty, so her true Doubleshot would be 151% as things die.

Szyncletica’s shuriken performance is weaker because she’s yet to add any significant standing Doubleshot gear. Unlike Pynthetica and Misty, Szyn also gains no additional Ranged Power outside of Shiradi and Epic levels. That said, being a full Monk with a decent WIS gives a reliable TTS performance, although weakest of the three as far as the numbers show. This is due in part because a Shiradi Shuricannon is already a multi-shotting thrower because of the combined effects of Shuriken Expertise and Ninja Spy’s Advanced Ninja Training, both of which add a chance to throw an additional shuriken per attack. Thus, the game squeezes in more stars per attack in addition to what Szyn already throws, and the animation shows that.

It’s Pynthetica that’s pleasantly surprising. My Zen Archer build shows its muster without full training in Shiradi and with four Epic levels (and its corresponding Ranged Power bonuses) yet to go. Pyn’s standing RP is higher than Misty’s RP at level 28. While Misty’s Doubleshot is best (she has the Epic Destiny feat of Doubleshot as well), Pyn comes in a strong second with TTS alone at 110%.(Pyn’s Elf enhancement with a ship buff gives 5% and she pulled a Dynamistic Quiver to get another 5%). Her Manyshot bonuses to RP were respectable as well at 144.

So, Pyn’s extra RP from Harper Agent helps. Being a full Monk helps, too, and Pyn has more damage to come. She used the revised feats in a Shroud run that night, and wasn’t displeased at all.

As I said in an earlier post, only the change in TTS is a nerf to splash builds like monkchers, since only 2 Monk levels or a lower WIS won’t give a lot of Ranged Power or Doubleshot boost. It should be interesting to see how those builds are revised.

In other news from this patch: I’m looking forward to the new Halloween event, which previews live for an in-game load test for us all today (10/23). I’m also digging the cleaner, more responsive look of the DDO Store. Nice work, devs.

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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.

 

 

 

Triumph from the Shadows: Why Stealth Does Work

I missed quite a few insightful posts during my sabbatical, but one caught my eye as I scanned the list of post posts.

It was from Sir Geoff of Hanna. Gnome-Fearer. Halfling Commando. One-half of a 5000 Favor Dynamic Duo. The MMOtivator (“Pike with me if you want to live!”).

The post was entitled: “Sneaking In Plain Sight – Why Stealth is Broken as a DDO Play Style.”

Given my love of the sneaky arts, I had to read. And, as is my tendency, to generate my own discussion and debate.

Now, obviously my goal isn’t to go all “You’re wrong!” throughout my whole post that will obviously favor the use of stealth in many (albeit not all) quests. I want to take any and all objections and make a deeper study of how others see it before I apply my own take on it. From such fair objective analysis can results be attained.

And such analysis can be helpful in improving and revising Stormreach Shadows, a web guide I co-edit that provides extended information for many classes into using stealth more often in many quests.

Assassin Speed: Fixed

Geoff starts by noting a comment from producer Severlin regarding some suggestions in the Rogue Assassin Changes thread. Sev notes that the Assassin’s general sneak speed does put them behind other classes with the Faster Sneaking ability.

This was recently and easily fixed in Update 25, thankfully, as those speed traits are now included in Stealthy. I like it, as it also encourages more use of the stealth skills.

I logged in Tuesday evening to reset Sukitetica’s AP just to see this happy speed boost.

The Stealth Engine as a Whole

Geoff takes note of one important comment by Sev:

“Changes to stealth require tech work and affect lots of game systems and are prone to side effects so we have to be careful there. Anything that involves significant changes to monster AI is out of scope for this update and this hampers any global revamp to Stealth.”

Makes sense, since Update 19 was already a “global rewrite” that introduced many of the critical changes to stealth that make it more reliable in gameplay now. Before Update 19, stealth was, more or less, an alternative way to avoid detection. But heaven help you if you were detected, for there was no real way for you to escape.

Pre-Update 19 stealth also had a long list of peculiar problems, such as:

  • Monsters “sliding” to you, stop-motion style, when they saw you.
  • Monsters that always detected you, even when you broke line-of-sight and were out of their Listen range.
  • The inability for a player to jump while in Sneak. (Naughty, bannable “stealth humping” ensues.)
  • No reliable cues to the player if they were in imminent danger of detection by sight or sound.

Since Update 19 and that massive rewrite, monsters generally behaved more logically to curious sights and sounds. The nature of Invisibility (which too many players think should be a complete solution for “hiding” but has never been such) was clearly defined as resistance from Spot checks unless you are very close to a monster. Monsters also listen and investigate sounds of breaking things more often as well, but only those that pick up the sounds go to move, not a whole mob.

And players can also jump and tumble while in Sneak, albeit at a substantial penalty to those skills, which encourages more training to counteract those penalties. Having greater mobility now also allows players to take to higher ground so that enemy Spot checks can be avoided by simple elevation.

Generally, the Update 19 changes persist and work well, except I’ve noticed that, since around Update 22 or so, enemies are no longer attracted properly by the sound of breakables or other sounds. This makes drawing and distracting enemies a broken mechanic right now. Rogues can get past this with Noisemaker traps, but Monks and other classes haven’t a viable non-combat distraction option.

Geoff noted that, in his opinion, that stealth wasn’t helpful–but clarified this in the context of using Rogues, especially Assassins. He avoids going deeper on this at first so as not to go too far off-topic.

I believe I comprehend Geoff’s reasoning, although I disagree. It all has to do with the Assassin’s primary ability: Assassinate. When you use that ability while other enemies are within Listen or Spot range, monsters do react to the death cries of an assassinated ally. As a result, if you are in Listen or Spot range, the enemy Spot and Listen check bonuses spike–and you’re likely detected immediately.

The real problem, from my point of view, is a matter of realism. When John Wilkes Booth approached President Lincoln’s booth, no one paid notice. When he shot the President at point-blank range, it wasn’t as if his wife and others in the booth just randomly glanced around everywhere except at the President, wondering casually where that noise originated, or even ignoring the commotion. Clearly their senses heightened and they turned instinctively to the stimulus. Why wouldn’t a monster do the same?

Assassinations aren’t a public affair. That means that superior Assassin tactics requires isolation of targets so as not to be detected by others. Rogues have plenty of skills to make this happen. Bluff is the best one when a loose group of enemies stands about, allowing you to pull one away to dispatch while others are none the wary. A precise use of a noisemaker also can pull one or more enemies. This requires a player to do something sometimes anathema to DDO: Using patience and cunning. Don’t carry a big stick but a big Bluff DC.

And, for the Assassin to make an escape, their Hide and Move Silently scores must be as high as they can be. Your skill at skulking away must be as high or higher than your Assassinate DC, or you’re missing the point of being an Assassin. You’re not meant to be caught–and it is possible to escape.

Higher level Monks have an Assassinate-like feat: Quivering Palm. Unlike Assassinate, however, using this ability pulls a Monk out of stealth. So Monks learn isolation skills. Many people were upset as recent updates kept nerfing the DCs of this skill, and for good reason. Sure, you can spam it during attack, but it was never meant as a “live” assassinate.

Now some might say, “But I don’t want to isolate things.” Then you can’t expect a instant-kill mechanic to work properly when its conditions aren’t met. You don’t get something for nothing, and so you can’t assassinate without some chance at reprisal. My argument is that, with the right choice and isolated target, there is little chance at reprisals. But if you’re going to spam Assassinate or Quivering Palm in a crowded hall, expect someone to notice.

Let me get back to another facet of Geoff’s comments.

Severlin’s Retort

When Geoff commented on how he thought that a Rogue revamp also required a revamp of the stealth engine, Sev made a curt and definitive reply:

“We get concerned when players make blanket statements about stealth being “broken” without really outlining what they mean. While we love player feedback and welcome specific suggestions about stealth, I just don’t want to set up false expectations about things stealth should allow. We wouldn’t want players, as an example, to have the expectation that characters should be opening doors and pulling levers while remaining in stealth. This type of behavior would threaten too many types of content. Without specifics we can do nothing to address people’s concerns.”

Sev, I feel, is right on the money, and for the reasons I noted earlier about how stealth is not a panacea to avoid being obvious to others.

Take the notion of opening levers and doors while in stealth. Now, a handful of quests purposefully allow the use of doors or portals without leaving Sneak (“The Portal Opens” and “Blockade Buster” come to mind) but the one more XP-lucrative quest does not allow this (“The Claw of Vulkoor”).

Sev is right, and I can encountered many examples where too much stealth (with the current rules) break a scant few of the DDO quest mechanics that activate bosses, open or complete quest objectives, or just simply allow one to proceed. Remember that I have one character, Kiricletica, which completed as many adventures in the game in stealth that would allow it (pretty much everything but raids and quests that absolutely required a party) and without any other players or hirelings, and also purposefully avoided combat except where required. These included all the Devil Battlefield quests, on Elite, to get her Yugoloth favor potions (A hireling helped with levers in “Genesis Point”).

If stealth were really broken, there is no way I’d have survived such an attempt. I must have done something contrary to what others note about stealth.

In “Claw of Vulkoor,” if a stealthy player could open doors and levers without detection, it would be far too easy. I have to time my movements to avoid patrolling scorpions there, and waiting for some to turn around to face a direction opposite of me to flip a lever is part of the mission. Further–and this is a very important point–you do NOT move, ever, while not in Sneak. You can perform actions while stationary, but the second you succeed in getting that lever or switch flipped, you must immediately return to stealth. Just one step while out of stealth and your Move Silently skill is zero, your footfall is heard and you are detected.

Now, Epic players such as Shadowdancers do have an option to open levers and switches without detection but without stealth per se. That’s Improved Invisibility. It’s great to have when you can manage to get to a well-guarded door that, while enemies are just scattered enough to not find you while Sneaking, they will see you on flipping the lever. But this is a special skill, maximum 30 seconds, with a 4 minute cooldown.

Now many quests have a “pressure zone,” if you will, which activates a quest action when a player steps on it, stealthy or not. This is a good thing as a boss or objective that requires to know if you’ve entered a place must work the first time as quest mechanics sometimes are programmed to work just once, leaving a quest bugged if it can’t see “the obvious.”

Only one of these pressure zones goes too far, and that’s at the end of “Monastery of the Scorpion,” where the Scorrow boss on steroids will immediately charge and attack anyone, stealthed or not. This act not only screws up the puzzle you can use to kill him, but Sannyasi is one of a handful of bosses that completely ignores stealth when they shouldn’t. You can’t escape from him, ever, with any tactic.

That’s wrong. While Red Names have True Seeing, stealth is immune from such effects. This is why Monks and Rogues make great beholder-slayers because we can sneak up to the eye-balls before they Spot can lock on fast enough. The devs could wave their hands and say that Sannyasi has tremor-sense or other abilities that make stealth powerless (such as what oozes have) but scorrow and scorpion aren’t spiders and don’t normally have these traits.

Sev is intentionally calling out Geoff and others who want their special abilities to work without a trade-off they must train or prepare to counteract. Someone is going to notice a body fall. Someone is going to notice you in stealth if your Move Silently skill is insufficient.

Geoff’s Return Volley and My Overhand Swing

To Geoff’s credit, he did have many specific arguments that I’ll address one by one.

  1. Many encounters contain unsneakable monsters. Sometimes it seems like most of them do
  2. No one will wait for the sneaky guy to catch up
  3. No one will wait for the sneaky guy to power up anything that requires being in sneak
  4. So many places where a quest will not advance until you have killed all the monsters
  5. The fear of “threatening too many types of content” hobbles stealth play. The pendulum is swung too far. Swing it back a little.

Point 1: Generally true but only early in your life. An adventurer’s very first quests often contain spiders and oozes. These cannot be avoided through stealth. However, as quests advance in difficulty, there are many quests where you can enter and exit with few to no detections. The Lordsmarch quest “Diplomatic Impunity” is a perfect example. There are only three primary objectives: Find Ullivian the scout, report back to Henritta, and kill the Droaam commander. All of these can be completed without killing or being detected by anything in between. I’ve done this a few times, using my Rogue Assassin and ninjas. One kill is all that’s needed to complete (although clean up to get the chests require slaying that don’t count to the kill bonus or any other metric since the quest is over).

You can sneak to most every NPC in the game except bosses where your presence is detected because you walk into a zone where you must be seen. Approaching the bound Spinner in “Spinner of Shadows” does this if you come close enough to the dais where she hangs. I mentioned Sannyasi from “Monastery” as a rare exception where a boss NPC goes off the rails to see you. Driders are spider-kind but, as I know from stealth work in the Underdark and many Eveningstar quests, they don’t have tremor-sense and can be assassinated.

A few higher-end quests (like “The Coalescence Chamber”) will add in The Goshdammed Bats. Bats don’t detect you by sight, but have basically a Listen check of 999. Once you move, even when sneaking, you are found, period. You need a Move Silently skill that’s impossible to attain–and my Ranger, Artemistika, has the highest of all my characters with every buff and ability (around 114).

I have far too many videos that illustrate that Point 1 is erroneous once you pass the earliest quests.

Point 2: Generally true, but fallacious. Offset by the reason why guilds exist and why good party members never leave a man behind. This point isn’t a problem with stealth. It’s a problem with the player’s attitude and skill. Lack of cooperation and an overuse of autonomy has lead to Rogues that don’t trap and healers that don’t heal and tankers that don’t tank. You can do what you want to do, but you can’t knock stealth because it cannot overcome the self-centered interests of other players.

Besides, stealth works just fine completely alone or with like-minded and prepared parties of any size. As with any other quest, it’s a matter of parties communicating, planning out strategies and roles before entering.

One ninja and one Assassin should be enough for just about anything. Trust me.

Point 3: Same answer as Point 1. This is a player attitude problem. Sneak is a one-button instantaneous action for a character. Invisibility is a potion, scroll, spell or spell-like ability that’s also quick to apply to a single character. What Geoff might be alluding here is that the rest of the party doesn’t care to get any of these buffs and just surge ahead and aggro the whole place. If they really screw up, you’ll get to collect all their soulstones in quiet and peace.

Point 4: Sometimes yes. Kill all the monsters is often a required objective. There are very, very few quests that allow a no-kill completion. But stealth should not be incorrectly equated to pacifism. What stealth allows characters to do, as does Invisibility, Hold spells, Paralyzing, Otto’s spells, or Intimidate, is a way to manage crowds and control aggro. In the case of stealth, you manage a crowd by avoiding their detection. But when a quest says, “Kill ’em all,” then you do so.

But, as a Ninja Spy or Assassin, you can use “pick-off” moves that isolate and slay the targets, one at a time. Your skill is revealing yourself only as you choose, confusing and shrouding your enemies, buying you time to eliminate the horde before they can effectively organize against you. You can also use spells that cause Fear. Theatricality and deception is what the Batman does. We can do this, too. (In Batman Begins, the first battle against Falcone’s minions happens this very way…Batman sneaks about, thinning out the herd, scaring most them shitless before removing what few are left as a group.)

My Assassin uses Bluff, pulls an enemy into the shadow and away from others, kills it, then repeats. My ninjas target isolated enemies, use paralysis, spell/melee muting, and blinding finishing moves to slow an enemy attack. They can also take advantage of isolated enemies and remove them.

Point 5: Generally not applicable. Most quests do exactly as they should and activate as they should, whether you are in stealth or not. Else, why would the devs support D&D skills that would inherently bug most of the game? Further, I can testify that my experiences with Kiricletica revealed very very few quests where the stealth mechanic caused quest completion issues to a point where I couldn’t finish. What few quests I encountered that experienced minor issues involved some of the game’s oldest quests. But in many cases, quests you didn’t think were possible in stealth were quite doable.

But Geoff Slams Back

After these first sub-points, Geoff notes several more. This post is going long, but I think it’s necessary to keep chipping away at some of these for clarification, correction and illumination.

  1. There are style problems with sneak that are the result of game changes:
    • a) More stop points added to previously sneakable quests prevent most sneak-only completions
    • b) Dungeon alert
  2. There are issues with the implementation of Assassinate
    • a) A successful Assassinate should not break one out of sneaking
    • b) Assassination requires sneak but you cannot sneak while already in melee
  3. And there are some specific technical issues with sneak
    • a) The bad guys inerrantly hit you with ranged at the first sign of finding you
    • b) It is supposed to be possible to shake off pursuit if one is able to retain sneak but that does not work *
    • c) Monsters that hear you inerrantly follow your path when sneaking
    • d) Monsters that do not show indicators of being able to see you are still able to hit you with single-target spells. Which breaks sneak and now everyone sees you.

Item 1(a): DDO quests have always been filled with stop points. I don’t know which quests he’s noting here, but I’d like to know which ones so I can video my attempt to show where stealth still works or where it does, indeed, break.

Item 1(b): Dungeon Alert never happens to the stealthy character because DA requires your enemies to detect you. I’ve entered and exited many a quest, leaving the same enemies standing and patrolling where they did, without a single alert. The only time I will generate DA as a stealthy character are against enough enemies that sense me and I cannot shake them because of their nature. That’s generally against bats. Lots of bats, as in “Coalescence Chamber.” They will cause a DA if I head up the shafts where they spawn, prompting me to use ranged attacks or return to where they fell (yeah, the bats, the things with wings, fall to the base of the shaft) to kill them off. But the rest of the dungeon remains oblivious to me.

Item 2(a): Assassination, sadly, isn’t a bug but a feature. Some enemies will be aware of you in principle or by game mechanic. Take the gnoll mages in each of the stoned Coin Lord’s rooms in “Eyes of Stone.” Sure, I had the same problem with Sukitetica the Assassin but also with Kiricletica on Easter Sunday. The gnoll won’t activate and attack unless you enter its room and activate him (which, since I don’t activate him while Sneaking and as he doesn’t activate even when blundering in until a certain distance, is a hidden Listen check). Jerry Snook (a.k.a. Cordovan) alluded to this in a rare and appreciative reply to Geoff’s article. It’s a good thing the gnoll mages aren’t active because they’d blast through their own door the second you walked up to the second floor. They’re purposefully inactive to avoid DA, especially if your party splits up. So the gnoll mages really behave as if they know you are coming, mechanic-wise. You can’t easily assassinate someone who knows you are coming.

Item 2(b): You can Assassinate while in melee, provided you’re not the only one that’s attacking. That’s aggro management, pure and simple. Let your hirelings or party members go in first, then come up from behind and kek-kek all you want. I find that some enemy AoE spells or attacks will throw me out of Sneak and blow Assassinate attempts sometimes, but this is an exception rather than a rule. Besides, why worry about Assassinate when your Sneak Attack damage should quickly pound anything not aggroed on you into bite-size bits? A solo Assassin has the odds stacked against them. You’re one character. There are many ahead and some are prepared to greet you. Your skill in getting past their defenses so as to command the field to kill is more paramount than your mere ability to assassinate.

Item 3(a): Enemies that use bows or other ranged weapons, like a player character’s Ranger, have a naturally higher Spot bonus than other enemies. Your Hide skill might get past non-ranged attackers but you better bring a superior Hide skill against those designed to see you from afar.

This same mechanic is demonstrated in brutal clarity in the Epic Gianthold wilderness. First off, all giants there have See Invisibility, so don’t even bother with that potion or spell. The giants have a very high Spot bonus that’s proportional to their size. In short, they’ll see a non-sneaking character from about 10-15 giant-lengths away, easily. If you can sneak through Epic Gianthold without giants noticing you, you have effectively perfected your skill, in my opinion.

Item 3(b, c and d): I updated the Sneak article on DDO Wiki based on the Update 19 release notes and from my experience on what is required to shake off a pursuing enemy(s) using Sneak.

  1. Break the line-of-sight with your enemy first. Run away and turn a corner is a best practice, but cowering behind a box is not. Nor will Invisibility work; once they see you, they see you.
  2. Next, go into Sneak and then apply Invisibility, if time and ability allow. Sneak is essential now because turning the corner or entering another room breaks the enemy’s sight-lock on you. They still know where you went but lost precisely where you are. But the key here is that they are still hunting you. If you aren’t sneaking, they’re targeting you by sound.
  3. Finally, keep moving as you do (1) and (2). The enemy will still pursue but can only use their Listen check to hunt you down. Move Silently counters this if you have enough skill points applied. Most enemies search the last place you stopped, swatting away at the air until they hit you or find nothing, sometimes spreading out. Depending on the mechanic of the enemy, they may stop and go back, stop swatting and go back to normal alert, or swat indefinitely. In any case, don’t be where they are. In fact, just sneak past them and continue on your merry way. As to single-target spells, the effect is the same as a wide arc from a halberd, and the resolution is the same. The enemy is targeting you only if they know exactly where you are. But some spells can be directed to a position even if a target isn’t there.

So, yeah, Geoff. You’re doing it wrong. 🙂 You must avoid both enemy sight and hearing for this to work. And once you break enemy sight and sound-lock, get off the path where they expect you to be.

Ninja Spies have advantage here with their Flash Bangs. These daze and blind enemies for 6 seconds, allowing a ninja to use an Abundant Step in Sneak to easily disappear. But Assassins are Rogues, so enough UMD means a Blindness spell can work on a single foe. Solid Fog could also help, as can many many other items as noted on the Blinded wiki page. There’s also the old-school option of leaving a sacrificial lamb such as a hireling to pull aggro while you skedaddle. And level 18 Ninja Spies can create a Diversion, a hate-magnet training dummy (dressed like a pirate, of course) that will easily pull pursuers to itself.

DDO quests don’t differentiate much between a single player and full party. That said, the only reason why stealth would not work in party is because there is a party member with inadequate Hide and Move Silently skill or is using or doing something that causes noise, aggro or light. A Ranger in party has Hide/Move Silently party buffs that stack with items (Camouflage and Pass Without Trace). Invisibility is a simple anti-Spot that works against anything but True Seeing/See Invisibility, so even if a player that isn’t a natural stealth class (Bard, Ranger, Rogue, Monk) but wants to play a stealthier game, add cross-class points to Move Silently over Hide, and befriend a Ranger.

There’s a reason why the nickname of the stealth guide was “Stealth Team Six.”

Conclusion

You’re not doing it right, all.

Stealth is a defensive posture. DDO doesn’t allow you, on purpose and with one sole exception (Assassinate) to be simultaneously offensive and defensive with this mode. And even Assassinate has its limits, but it does work.

There were several comments to Geoff’s post. One said, “Even if you “stand” still while in stealth mobs tend to sweep towards you and eventually spot you. This even if you’re out of side behind a door/wall. Closed doors give even more agro.”

Standing still really means “Do not move.” Stealth, specifically Hide, reduces but never eliminates the chance for something to see you. If you are standing still in stealth about 3 body lengths from some enemy, their Spot check is not only up but magnifying upward by design. (Those are the multiplying “eyes” above an enemy that change as their Spot increases.) Once they detect something, their Spot bonus grows to the point where you will eventually be found. Hide was never designed to make you permanently cloaked. You need to get out of the enemy’s line-of-sight, and Hide provides you the time to do it before their Spot bonus changes to “detected.”

And an enemy’s Listen check goes through doors. We know that DDO doors often seem like they aren’t there. So stealth masters treat them as already open, never approaching them without being in Sneak. Else, things do tend to aggro through them. Keep in mind that enemies that can defeat Sneak (spiders, oozes) will detect you automatically and likely cause minions nearby to do the same.

Kiricletica’s Advice on Stealth: “Your Hide or Move Silently training may fail against an enemy if either score, divided by 2, is equal or less than the enemy’s Challenge Rating number.”

I don’t “sometimes” get some use out of stealth.

I enjoy it virtually all the time. I have pictures. I have a whole YouTube channel filled with video. It works. And I co-wrote an entire guide on it.

“Spies in the House?” Did it.

“Claw of Vulkoor?” Yep.

“Bastion of Power?” Sure.

The eighth Splinterskull quest, “Doom of the Witch-doctor: Zulkash, Herald of Woe?” Yep. And in only 4 kills out of a possible 75–and I sneaked by all the mobs that guarded the puzzle wheels. The totem counted a a kill. I added the Devious bonus on that DDO Wiki article.

Did you know you can can activate puzzle wheels while in stealth?

I don’t want to think I have some “lock” on stealth skills. I started with some ideas from player Ghoste long ago and worked from there.

I know Geoff’s been playing the game far longer than I have, so please take any criticisms here about Geoff’s post with respect–he’s  one of the coolest people I know in-game (and had the honor to meet in person). But there’s several important things missing to his comments and those who commented back.

Be it Assassin or ninja, the process of stealth is alive and well, but it does require training and a different mindset to bring it to fruition.

Seems that the only thing wrong with stealth, as I see it, is that, for many, the techniques to make stealth work just sneak right by them all.

I’m still open to join a new server and help teach the art of stealth.

UPDATE: In the limited time he had at that moment, Sir Geoff has posted a rebuttal that, at the least, calls me out on just being too damn wordy, while noting how we agree more than disagree. Didn’t I just say that here? 🙂

From Tranquility to Serenity

There is a certain joy you feel in renewal, in repentance that makes you appreciate why you love what you love. This was a transforming time that, at the least, should make me a better person, not to mention a nicer player.

There is a certain joy you feel in renewal, in repentance that makes you appreciate why you love what you love. This was a transforming time that, at the least, should make me a better person, not to mention a nicer player.

I’m back.

Lent taught me that I did play DDO too often.

I wasn’t cold turkey throughout Lent, however, having revived my Diablo II interest.

But at least that game can be paused, and I found greater quality time with my family and faith.

I will likely adopt a new play time schedule so DDO, however fun, doesn’t get the better of me, while still allowing time to continue exploring and enjoying all the happiness. While Lent is now over and Eastertide is here, I loved the wave of comparative tranquility that, while problems didn’t go away with a wave of a wand or something, I was more attuned to respond to them and appreciate what I have.

Looks like a lot’s happened during my exodus. Update 25 is coming today. The Temple of Elemental Evil is near. All the Rogue trees are getting a refresh, especially the Assassins and Mechanics.

I logged in for the first time since February 18 yesterday. When I left, my guild had just hit level 99. Yesterday, my guild sat at level 103–four guild levels in a 5 week span. Holy cow. Something’s up with my guild, and that’s a great thing.

Getting My Ninja On

The first thing I did on login, once reorienting my eyes back to the visual richness of the game (playing a weaker resolution game like Diablo II is bound to make you appreciate even DDO’s slightly aged but superior graphics), I had a definitive urge to take the ninjas out on patrol.

First off the ship was Ryncletica the poison-master for a flagging run in “The Coalescence Chamber.” If there were any signs of rust in my gameplay, I whittled them out quickly as I eliminated the initial troglodyte and troll forces with Althea the fashion-model-turned-Favored Soul.

From there, with Althea parked most of the time except to refresh my Death Ward, I had a very smooth run by sneaking through as much as I could (when the damned bats didn’t show up every 2 seconds) using my shuriken as needed for some distant targets, and generally picking and choosing targets through the end. The only real challenge, bats notwithstanding, was the final key with the gelatinous cube, which is always one big Jello-bowl of HP. But after nailing it using some Ninjutsu, after 20 negative levels it finally melted.

With Ryn’s shadow-lust sated for a time, it was time for Kiricletica the solo-master in “Eyes of Stone” on Hard. Still following her self-imposed solo rules just because they’re still fun and force me to feel the ninja vibe, Kiri quickly restored guards, then used Freezing the Lifeblood finishers on every mage that guarded the Coin Lords for a very quick takedown. Each mage managed to summon their elementals–but then, that’s why the Pain Touch finisher is a godsend, which Nauseated each elemental to prevent them from attacking or casting.

Skipping the troll in the Bureau of Magical Vehicles, I entered the side entrance, restored the last guards and entered Hesstess’s lair. I summoned a fiend-blood troll as fodder and Blurred up the two guards before going to work, striking Hesstess with hit-and-run doses of Ninja Poison using Poisoned Soul Ninjutsu while using ninja speed to avoid her direct stunning magic and stoning gaze. Reinforcements that appeared only made it easier to keep my ki levels high enough to end Hesstess by poison in only 3 minutes or so.

To cap off the first day back, I also took Artemistika out into the epic High Road for some concentrated slayers. I want to pump the XP from 3,000 slayers straight into my Grandmaster of Flowers training so that I can build up another Fate point, unlock the Divine tree and get Unyielding Sentinel and perhaps Divine Crusader pumped up for more Fate points. I’d love to have the Elder Dryad accessible to me for later Epic play, so that means a bit more Destiny grinding, with a +2 Tome of Fate purchase still in reserve.

A New Direction, A New Guild, a New Server

I’m thinking of branching out from my only server, Ghallanda, to start a new guild where stealth is the name of the game. Bards, Rogues, Rangers and Monks would take a new darker tack in defeating the evils. Once Update 25 takes hold, it’s on my to-do list.

If you have a suggestion as to which server to set up camp, feel free to speak up.

I would not mind at all meeting many of you who have visited the blog. And starting up new characters to grow together sounds like a blast.

Perhaps we’ll have a server in common with almost everyone to get all shadowy and stuff. If enough interest appears here and we can coordinate, I’ll revisit it in a later post and set up a public plan.

A Drow In Despair

Szyncletica1

I’m away from DDO during the season of Lent. This is a saved post I’ve made while I’m away. This post may or may not contain sensitive subject matter unsuitable for some minds (specifically, religion).

Reader discretion advised.

~~~

With a solo of the Shroud under Szyncletica’s belt, what’s next for this mad Monk?

Once upon a time not long ago, the “Tower of Despair” raid was an important objective for Monks to find ingredients for and any of the special rings there which can be used to create a DR-breaking bursting ring that worked only with unarmed attacks.

It was the dev’s substitute for being unable to upgrade the already-existing Green Steel crafting system to accommodate the introduction of handwraps when the Monk class arrived shortly thereafter.

Nowadays, there are plenty of handwraps you can craft and use to break DR from other systems in the game, so the whining of the lack of GS wraps has faded. But with the introduction of Epic characters and quests, so has the desire for people to run “ToD.”

Now, these Incredible Potential rings aren’t much use to Szyn, either, as a throwing Monk. The ring’s unlocked Holy Burst and related bursts work only on unarmed attacks.

But there’s wasn’t much in the way of loot in the Shroud to gain for Szyn, either. She completed it simply to say that she did. And so it is for the Tower.

I wouldn’t dream of this insane run were it not for the Thunder-Forged Shuriken that causes incredible damage fast enough to destroy a pit fiend alone.

The question now is whether Szyn can manage two bosses at the same time on a Normal-difficulty run.

The Good

From a matter of destruction, Szyn’s weaponry as a maxed L28 character should do short work against the trash inside the Tower. She can already handle the same kinds of nastiness alone inside an Epic Hard “Devil Assault” as she did in the Shroud. She uses Rejuvenation Cocoon, has high miss-chance powers and strong Reflex saves (90) because of her very high DEX (62+ when the winds are right).

The Bad

The first challenge will be destroying the Judge and the Jailer in part 1. I’m unsure if I can keep the attention of only one, or if I’m going to have to fight both at once. Improved Precise Shot will help. I’m not sure if Freedom of Movement will help against chaining effects from one of them.

The best news is that, being a Monk, my resistances to certain attacks are higher and I’m highly maneuverable and damage-resistant, keeping my distance as I attack. I only need to carry a small barge-load of Remove Curse potions and watch my healing.

The Ugly

I expect the fight against Nythirios and his Shadowfiends in Part 2 will be far harder than smacking Horoth into his component atoms in Part 3.

Veterans know that Nythirios is a pit fiend like Harry. No big thing there. But it’s his little dark icy-cold pets that swarm around, trying to freeze-kill over entire parties that disturbs me. In a normal party, you need only to designate someone to aggro the Shadowfiends, drawing them away from the party while your main team beats Nythirios into goo. When he’s down, the deadly fiends vanish. I’ve watched 10 HP casters do this job and, surprisingly, stay alive. If a HP-weak Wizard can do it, then a thrower should be able.

For me, I’ll have to kite everything (when do I not kite?). Szyn is very fast in attack and speed (permanent Haste through the Epic feat Blinding Speed), so she’ll need to have lots of Protection against Cold potions handy to slow any of the serious damage that a Shadowfiend might hit her with if she grazes one too close. My hope is that I’ll just drag Nythirios and Friends, kiting them while my Shiradi effects and Celestia off-hand explosions kill off the Shadowfiends long enough to reduce them as a threat while continually aiming at the fiend to end him. I’m always using Improved Precise Shot so any strikes hit all between me and my target if I can keep the alignment right.

In Part 3, again, it’s a matter of kiting. The room is generally a circle and big enough for me to do this. Horoth has a stunning attack that I cannot counter as a dark Monk, but I hope to survive it long enough to put down enough damage on him. Plenty of Orthon trash spawns and respawns, and then Suulomades the horned devils enters to try to trash me, too. I could change my target to Suulo while running for my life if things are stable enough, then slay Horoth.

It’ll be a matter of experimentation based on how much damage I’m taking and how much damage I can inflict against trash and bosses before Horoth gets lucky with a Disintegrate hit or prolonged stun. While now in possession of the FoM-granting Orcish Privateer’s Boots, I must wear Boots of Anchoring throughout the battle to keep from getting banished to Eberron.

This is a complete experiment because I’m a little bored, and also because I want to know the lay of the land before I think of taking my Ranger inside to hunt for her Gilvenor’s Ring. When paired with Gilvenor’s Necklace from another Devil Battlefield quest, she’d gain 10% Ranged Alacrity as a Competence Bonus–stacking with other Ranged Alacrity bonuses.

Imagine having 30% Ranged Alacrity once I get a Pinion bow (20% alacrity) and when wearing these items.

I did. I needed to cuddle and have a cigarette after that. I don’t smoke.

Postmortem: Attempt #1

So, shortly before my sabbatical, I took Szyn the thrower into “Tower of Despair.”

The cool part is that I was able to use stealth to avoid a lot of fighting before entering the realm of the Judge and Jailer, sneaking by 90% of everything.

That first fight worked out about the way I expected, and I was victorious. I used my Thunder-Forged Shuriken for much of the fight because of the raw damage, but experimented with my Green Steel Mineral II star as well.

I took some time to prep for the expected nightmare of Part 2, arming myself with Fire Shield items, watching others complete the area while alone and how they didn’t die. But then I made the mistake of thinking too much after watching VoodooSpyce’s videos, particularly a run into the Tower while solo. His character stood still, not kiting, so that the Shadowfiend’s cold aura wouldn’t hit him nearly as often. I felt cocky and tried it his way.

I was slaughtered rather quickly by standing still.

I should’ve stuck to my first instinct to kite the Shadowfiend while attacking the pit fiend. While VoodooSpyce’s videos was useful, I may need to look to the monkchers in the crowd to see what can be done here, at the least.

The Mighty Bow of Artemis

ScreenShot01561

Careful study of the targets on Thunder Peak prior to Misty unleashing her brand of hell.

 

I’m away from DDO during the season of Lent. This is a post I’ve prepared during my absence. This post may or may not contain sensitive subject matter unsuitable for some minds (specifically, religion).

Reader discretion advised.

~~~

I named Artemistika partially after the Greek goddess Artemis, a huntress, protector of woodlands and superior wielder of the bow. Quite appropriate choice for a Ranger or Druid.

There’s been an increased clamor on the DDO forums on how ranged damage/power is gimpy unless you’re a Monkcher. I guess it depends on what kind of damage you’re looking for.

While Melee Power as introduced to improve general damage for Epic players with swords and other handed weaponry, the Ranged Power element has not been implemented yet, as of Update 24, and won’t be till a later update, per Severlin, Executive Producer.

As noted before, I’m sticking to specific behavior–standing still–to generate the cumulative damage that Archer’s Focus does with DWS training, and having only one stat for damage and to-hit helps a great deal.

I love this class. Deepwood Stalkers really pack a punch if you do what they must do: Stand still and build their attack power. It’s critical to have powerful friends as well as a powerful bow. You cannot be a one-man army–but you might get by nicely as a three- or four-man version.

And may the gods favor my Ranger should Ranged Power come to the world and the decimation that update will add to what’s already there.

Misty’s completed her first high-level raids (“Fire on Thunder Peak” and “Caught in the Web”) and has trained two Primal Epic Destinies to qualify for the Doubleshot Epic Destiny feat at level 28, and took Blinding Speed at level 26. With Shadowdancer trained as well as Shiradi Champion and Primal Avatar, I’ll try to somehow grind through Grandmaster of Flowers to gain access to Unyielding Sentinel and the much-desired Brace for Impact ability to maximum her fortification at 200% for the toughest Epic Elite quests.

With only 60 AC but over 155% fortification, Blurry and Ghostly or 25% Incorporeality in Shadow Form, Misty takes a surprisingly low amount of damage in the event she loses aggro control and her targets come to chase her.

Misty’s first Thunder Peak had a few serious hiccups. Our raid party had problems keeping the trash at bay long enough to sustain damage on the dragons. Eventually I was getting chased about the field by mobs that hadn’t anything else to chase due to numerous deaths. I took only one death myself after kiting myself too closely to a dragon’s fire breath. Once we did conquer both dragons, there were only three or so of us left alive and I found myself keeping all the trash at bay for a time before a resurrection solution worked to revive the party. All fun, all in all, and tested Misty’s emergency tactics (Improved Precise Shot, Displacement and the like).

One amazing thing, in the stealth department, are Misty’s Hide/Move Silently scores. Unbuffed, she’ll sit around 80. I’ve pushed it to 110. I could sneak Misty off the server with numbers like that. Deepwood Stalkers appear to be the clear winners in the DDO Hide and Seek game. I’ve got lots of documenting to do on the Stormreach Shadows guide for the Ranger.

I plan to train Misty’s destinies and stay as an Epic fighter for as long as it’s fun and until I get my Green Steel bows built. I’ve got one quest left for my Yugoloth potions, and a Pinion bow is still a goal. Enough “Thunder Peak” raids and I could get her Thunder-Forged bow a tier 2 upgrade. There are a few other trinkets and goals, such as 375 PDK favor for melding a Hide of the Goristro to my Woodsman’s Guile set.

In other news, the second effort to make the Zen Archer build work, after my first try wasn’t quite there, is now in progress. Stay tuned.

Zen and the Art of Tranquil Resignation

Looking good as an archer and being a viable one are two different things. (Publicity still from the 2011 film, Your Highness, copyright Universal Pictures)

Looking good as an archer and being a viable one are two different things. (Publicity still of actress Natalie Portman from the 2011 film, Your Highness, copyright Universal Pictures)

Pynthetica the Zen Archer reached level 20 not very long ago, after an expected struggle with this trial build.

She dealt decent damage as a Half-Elf pure Monk archer with Arcane Archer flavoring throughout her Heroic level adventures. A Monk with a bow, remember? Not a “monkcher?”

I planned to train her through Shiradi Champion and several other destinies to build her defenses and tactics. Just because Pyn’s a pure Monk didn’t mean she couldn’t utilize the burst damage that monkchers have enjoyed.

But there’s a greater problem that overrides what Epic Destinies to pick and train. The problem’s so great that I must resign Pyn to another life to try again, with a greater hope for the future to make a Zen Archer the strongest it can be, through Heroic levels and beyond.

As it stands now, continuing with Pyn in this current build would be folly.

Damage

Shortly after Pyn hit 20, I rolled up Artemistika, an elven Deepwood Stalker. I’ve been playing it to death. Next to Monks, archers get much love from me.

I’m officially concerned for Pyn now because of lessons learned with Misty. In particular, bow damage.

All Rangers gain the Bow Strength feat, applying STR modifier to bow damage. Elves can adjust this with the Aerenal Grace racial enhancement to make DEX as the sole stat for to-hit and damage.

Misty’s level 22 damage to an unfortified training dummy with a strong non-Epic bow showed 120-190 damage per normal hit, with criticals in the 400s and beyond.

But Pyn is not a Ranger right now, nor a full Elf. She gained a “Lesser Bow Strength” from her Half-Elf Ranger dilettante. So she has to apply the STR modifier, but only gets credit for a percentage of that modifier.

Zen Archery simply changed the to-hit bonus from DEX to WIS, which was why I had began pumping up WIS.

But this makes Pyn in her second life not too different from her first life as a Ranger where I neglected her STR and pumped up her DEX in my ignorance.

The result is that Pyn is woefully under powered as a Half Elf with bow damage. I did anticipate this, but not on the order of magnitude that Misty illustrated for me.

Perhaps in the next life, going Elf would give Pyn the Aerenal Grace ability with Zen Archery providing the centering factor for using the bow only. Then life would be in better balance since she was specced for higher DEX with tomes in life 1.

It’s too bad that I can’t easily train in Deepwood Stalker as you can do so in adding an Arcane Archer tree to any Elven character. An Elven Monk Pyn with DWS would make a superior archer with her monastic powers. Multiclassing for now isn’t an option for me.

Additional elven longbow competence training from the racial tree would also work in her favor as well as that Shadow Dragonmark that adds Displacement, among other things.

So for now, I’m too challenged to make Pyn work as effectively as she can be with this handicap. Hindsight is a poor way to build a character. But, this Monk-with-a-bow build was experimental. At least through Misty I have an answer for Pyn to make her build much more dynamic later.

As a result, I will shorten Pyn’s adventures yet again, having never trained past level 22 in the first life as a Ranger, reincarnated as an Elf.

Back to the Drawing Board

There was a lot of  work with in destiny-land. There was a lot of grinding to do. I’m sure training in Grandmaster of Flowers, Shiradi Champion, Shadowdancer and many other EDs would make a Zen Archer a very formidable foe.

But even I know that DDO requires damage. However creatively you apply it, as I do with characters like Ryncletica, your damage must be sufficient.

In this instance, Pyn’s archery-fu is insufficient.

All the aggro management I have on Misty (combined with substantial hireling/summon stat boosts) would not work for Pyn, even if she could train them, as she simply can’t pull off the better bow damage right now, no matter the ED.

At least Pyn has a never-used Pinion bow ready to try when she’s back in business. And getting a Thunder-Forged bow isn’t a bad thing as well.

Pyn 3.0 will come shortly. While I have a lot of projects now–Syncletica’s life as a hermit, Lynncletica’s desire to be a better tank and with other non-Monk flavors I’m enjoying, where will I find the time?

Monks get priority for me, so Misty’s growing collection of Tokens of the Twelve are going to her. Misty blew away an Epic Normal run of “Devil Assault” and farms Tokens just fine. I want the Zen Archer working the way I know it can be.

 

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