No Mercy to the Helpless

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As mentioned last post, I’ve turned my attention from Pynthetica, capped at 30 and participating in many a Legendary or Epic Elite raid for the best gear, and started work on my second unique build, Ryncletica, the poison-master.

While I’m so totally enjoying the power of poison damage that Ryn magnifies, especially with the new Venomous prefixes, I’m appreciating now why some people have steered away from shortsword builds, weapons with only 1d6 base damage compared to other swords. That attitude might have changed with weapons such as Thunder-Forged swords.

But ultimately they aren’t ninjas. We Ninja Spies also get sizeable critical threat, damage and Vorpal bonuses to these weapons as the character grows in power at level 20.

Like Pynthetica, I held Ryn’s level at 25 while I completed a destiny to get a useful Epic Destiny feat at level 26, other than Toughness. That was Perfect Two Weapon Fighting, to get 5% untyped Doublestrike with some offhand Doublestrike, too.

To get that feat, I needed one trained Primal epic destiny. I’ve been training Shiradi Champion off and on, but that got familiar too quickly. Ryn is a Drow, so she’s able to train as a “light” Shuricannon like her sister Szyncletica. Ryn gains all the vorpal and critical threat range or threat bonuses for using stars, missing only the available Ranged and throwing-related feats but has Shuriken Expertise as a granted feat and Ten Thousand Stars. Most importantly, Ryn is a melee fighter and I’ve played enough ranged characters of late.

So I picked the Fury of the Wild destiny. This was the first time I’ve tried it on any character, but I’ve heard quite a lot about it. It’s commonly the central destiny used by the typical “monkcher” hyper-DPS builds, leveraging Adrenaline to dramatically generate high burst DPS when Manyshot and  Ten Thousand Stars are leveraged.

But Ryn is using the destiny as it was designed, as a melee-based destiny. I’ve not had a lot of use of Adrenaline, mostly because its Rage effects intended for the destiny’s audience, the Barbarian, aren’t as nice to Monks because it lowers some stats that benefit the unarmored Monk.

But one ability caught my eye, one I’ve heard others mention. That’s Sense Weakness. This tier 4 ability can give, with all 3 ranks, 30% additional damage to Helpless enemies with cumulative weapon damage bonuses based on the enemy’s current HP.

But the discerning ninja in the audience knows that the Ninja Spy has a similar enhancement: No Mercy. It also gives up to 30% more damage to the Helpless.

So, your question is: Does No Mercy and Sense Weakness stack in damage?

My preliminary tests suggest, yes. Yes, it does. While my math is certainly off because of extra benefits of the destiny, that’s at least a 60% boost in damage any time something is made Helpless.

Ninja Spy has one way to easily make many enemies, even Orange names, quite Helpless. I’ve mentioned it before: Freezing the Lifeblood, which gives a special minute-long paralysis that gives me plenty of time to chop something to tiny bits. Far more effective than Stunning Fist at Epic play, Freezing only requires me to get a high WIS to improve the modifier. Hardly a problem. It’s most effective against trash but occasionally I’ll get an Orange-named with low Fortitude, like Maribeth, a human cultist mini-boss in “The Lords of Dust.”

I’ll post a video that shows how terribly powerful this merciless combo can be on another day. It’s so potent that I’ll be focusing training more destinies so I can add this as a Tier 4 Twisted option. I’ll likely prefer Grandmaster of Flowers as her raid destiny once at level 30 as there are more options in that destiny alone to weaponize all the ki that Ryn builds up, saving a lot of Twist slots of abilities found there.

For now, she’s moved on to train Primal Avatar to gain more fate points and versatility. I’m familiar enough with this destiny with Zen Archers but this the first time I’ve used it as a melee character. It’s showing some promise as it supports bonuses to Two Weapon Fighting. One tier 3 ability that was really helpful in my first “Caught in the Web” run was the fully-ranked Balanced Attacks, which knocks down enemies on a vorpal and causes Helpless. That’s certainly another Twist candidate.

Now comes the annual Risia Winter Games. When I was fresh to the game, it was a fun event and was where I began to appreciate more how Monks are a special class. In short, I could farm the hell out of the place for purple coins faster than anything.

And those coins offer chances to make many “Icy Burst kits”–three recipes with enough Motes of Winter to add Icy Burst damage to the Venomous shortswords and kamas I find. This is logical enough because most things I can poison will also suffer from Cold damage. If I can find Venomous shortswords with Red Augment slots–so much the better.

Ryn farmed about 48 Purple coins in an hour and frosted up several of the her speciality poison weapons nicely.

Now to work on her hit points: Now at level 27 with Blinding Speed and Perfect Two Weapon Fighting, Ryn’s DPS is excellent but she needs to be able to survive more than one catastrophic hit despite 241% fortification. A rust monster in my first run of Legendary Tempest’s Spine one-shotted me–but we were in on Hard difficulty and I was 5 levels lower.

Despite owning similar miss-chance effects found on other ninjas in my dojo, Ryn’s melee fighting status makes her far more vulnerable to damage than I’d like. I can adapt by watching my enemies and situations far more carefully, use stick-and-move tactics, and of course, letting others in party charge ahead first. I specialize in trash removal, as do many melee Monks.

With that first Legendary TS raid complete, a very kind guildmate passed to me what seems to be the best cloth armor in the game for use at level 29: Outfit of the Celestial Guardian. That armor has so much in it that I’m having the pleasant problem of what gear to swap out because of that armor’s many benefits. Until then, I’m wearing a Shadowscale Outfit that fits like a catsuit and isn’t bad at all for protection. Perhaps a +5 Charisma tome is in order. I’ve been revisiting an old friend: the finisher Shining Star, which doesn’t cause Helplessness but its dance-off to the death certainly is beneficial.

I have to play her more and more in melee combat-intensive quests like the Batman or 007, at least in terms of preparedness, creativity and resources. I’ve been best so far in ranged-type combat with Szyncletica and Pynthetica. It’s Ryn that is my first melee character to confront the greatest nastiness of the Legendary realm.

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.