What Do Monks Make in Crafting?

If you think DDO crafting can be painful, there's always Minecraft to invoke suicidal thoughts.

If you think DDO crafting can be painful, there’s always Minecraft to invoke suicidal thoughts.

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

Reader discretion advised.

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Q: What items should Monks create by crafting?

A: Quite a lot of things, but primarily for early levels or very special needs. Here’s my list, ever changing to the need and the character.

Cannith Crafting and Augment Slots

While there’s been recently a lot of complaining on the DDO forums on how some players are dissatisfied with the current system as it hasn’t scaled to their desires, the functionality and usefulness of Cannith Crafting is still quite a benefit for everyone, especially early in their lives and when they are in dire need of weapons that break this DR or that which aren’t available anywhere.

Between levels 1 and 10, you’re likely to generate several things for most unarmed Monks that can help it along. Mind you, what you create using bound shards will bind the item to character, so there is always a resource issue in ensuring that whatever precious base item you use for a character will not only work for the character, but that will ensure that the character gets some play time and is viable and enjoyable. There’s nothing sadder to me than to retire and reroll a failed character and having to bury his bound-to-character items with her.

Cannith Crafting requires a time investment to make a character with sufficient levels to generate anything for your characters on your account. In the end, it’s quite worth it.

And Augment Slots make life a lot easier as you can improve handwraps with many new slots to diversify your attack or defense.

Items I often craft up at early levels include:

Trinkets of Melee/Ranged Alacrity 10%

I buy the very inexpensive blank trinkets from the DDO Store and then add this ability. They become ML3, stay Bound to Account, even using BtC crafting formula, and are quite handy starting out. Earth Stance Monks gain a benefit with them for faster attacks. Ranged alacrity trinkets are helpful for my archers but not my shuriken thrower, as ranged alacrity isn’t applicable to thrown weapons.

Striding 15/20% items

Speed is everything for a Monk. When I can’t find Striding items, or need the Striding effect on something other than boots, this is one option. I never craft up 25/30 items unless really desperate as these are more readily available. The newer Speed suffix adds both movement speed and some alacrity, allowing a compromise if I need to remove my ranged/melee alacrity trinket. But Speed isn’t a craftable suffix at this time.

Crafted metallic handwraps

It used to be that finding something that busted Silver and Good DR was a complete pain in the butt. You needed a lot of luck in locating them in random loot, a lot of platinum, or an infinite level of luck in getting the only named Metalline of Pure Good handwraps in the game: The Devout Handwraps from the Necropolis.

The revisions to Shintao Monk with the new enhancements make getting unarmed DR bypassing far earlier with the core abilities, but if you’re a Ninja Spy, you need the specific handwraps if you’re not using shortswords or kamas or are a star-thrower.

Note that Ninja Spy training delivers Dexterity-to-Damage only with piercing and slashing weapons. You’re using the standard STR-to-damage formula when you’re going unarmed. As a result, unarmed damage isn’t the ninja’s best damage dealer, although you’ll need this option for ridding yourself of weapon-resistant enemies.

Thankfully, with the new Augment Slots and improved enhancements, getting “Harry Beaters” or related DR busters isn’t nearly as painful. For Harry Beaters, it’s simply a matter of completing the “Delera’s Tomb” or “Catacombs” chain, which give you the Devotion handwraps and the Eternal Rest handwraps.

You can insert a Silver (or any other metallic augment) into the Devotion wraps and a Good augment into the Silver-laced Eternal Rests and you’re all set.

Mind you, these augments are ML12, but this gets you going when things get tougher as you run into tough devils and demons later. Finding metal-laced/spiked loot-generated handwraps isn’t nearly as bad to re-craft to your needs today as well. Sometimes you’ll find metallic wraps with one or more augment slots that you can repurpose. And there are also handwraps and weapons where the metalline quality is now a suffix.

You’ll likely need Cold Iron DR reduction if you plan to run the level 10 “Ruins of Threnal” series, filled with Xoriat flesh renders, and Byeshk for the mindflayers. Aside from the Devout wraps, there’s no named non-crafted handwraps that will drop for you here. Getting metalline wraps or finding DR-specific wraps as soon as possible is your own unarmed option for a ninja.

Of course, there are many wraps that work excellently as you reach Epic levels.

Crafted vampiric handwraps

Sometimes Heroic-level Ninja Spies need an emergency battle healing option if they aren’t Half-Elves with a Cleric dilettante for wand/scroll healing. I prefer using Flametouched Iron handwraps in Cannith Crafted wraps here to add in Good alignment so I can lump in an effective prefix for more damage. Lesser Vampirism is a comparatively easy suffix to craft, but the full Vampiric property is very good but has a high resource to do this.

I’m not going to say what ingredient is required; I’ll let you do the homework. These are good until the character gains some Vampiric Stonedust Wraps with its added bonuses to stun. However, crafted vampiric wraps and their DR bypassing are usual more helpful.

Detect Secret Door goggles

Despite recent updates that increased the Search requirements on some doors, these are still good to generate for some early-level hidden doors with loot potential.

Concentration skill items

When you have low ki, it’s a pain, These items boosts the ki pool up a bit. It’s easier to make Goggles for this since you’ll switch them out when in combat but can quickly come back to them between battles to recharge. Not a substitute for low WIS; add points here. And always, always add points to Concentration at each level.

Spot items

A higher Spot is a big help in stealth to see hidden enemies ahead so you don’t smash into them or get too close and get detected. Elven and Halfling races get a small natural boost for this, but the more Spot, the better, especially for ranged damage dealers but also for stealthy ninjas to detect hidden enemies ahead of you.

Unraveling Enchantments

No Monk should ever go without having a pair of the Jidz-Tet’ka bracers at level 5. These require you to obtain the Torn Chitin Bracers and unlock them in Visbane’s Folly, atop the Sentinel’s Tower, using the Seals of the Goat, Lion and Dragon that you can find in the quests in the Sentinels of Stormreach quest chain.

The effects of the bracers change with your Monk stance.

  • Earth Stance: You gain 1[W] to your unarmed damage. This is the same effect found on the Garments of Equilibrium and similar items and doesn’t stack with other damage modifiers.
  • Wind Stance: You gain +10 Insight bonus to Jump. This stacks with the Enhancement bonus of Jump potions/spells.
  • Fire Stance: You gain a +50 Insight bonus to healing amplification. This is arguably the strongest effect of the bracers that works through the character’s entire life. It stacks with anything that isn’t an Insight bonus, making it a potent way to improve battle and self-healing. With Update 24’s Healing Amplification revision, these boost healing more than ever before.
  • Ocean Stance: On unarmed confirmed vorpal strikes, delivers a poison that paralyzes the target (DC 17 fortitude save) and inflicts 1d6 Dexterity damage (DC 17 fortitude save, increased 50% if paralysis is successful or if the mob is already helpless). The dexterity damage and paralysis effects are saved against separately. With the recent changes to Poison effects, Kiricletica and Ryncletica have seen the Tri-Kreen Venom work far more effectively than ever before, paralyzing many poor kobolds in her early adventures. (It’s an effect identical to Shiradi’s Nerve Poison.) This may be helped by the Ninja Poison effects that increase poison vulnerability, but I suspect I’m lowering their DC through weapon effects like Wounding. A DC 17 is very low and I’ve rarely seen that effect take hold as often as with my poison-wielding ninjas. I recommend taking a look at this for an easy low-level paralysis.

Monks with a flair for the dramatic could craft the Filthy Kukri into Midnight Greetings. It adds Deception, an effect that bluffs enemies and makes them stop fighting you and turn around briefly, giving you an edge, so to speak, in getting in more attacks per second. You can use this weapon and stay Centered (although you won’t have weapon proficiency with it without training). It’s a better weapon for an off-hand, especially in the hands of a shuriken thrower, since the Deception effect works on the character and stars gain that property as with any other passive effects from an off-hand weapon.

Cannith Challenges

It was a pain in the butt to learn a few of these challenges, but their ingredient rewards can generate very useful items that can work early in your character lives with profound results. I’m still not sold on the time/results payoff for a single character, and don’t like the mechanics of these challenges at all, but as much of the items are Bound to Account, at least I can trade it off to help another character later.

  • Frozen Tunic. Comes in L4 versions and higher. The Freezing Ice effect with high DPS characters means that you’re often solidifying enemies often, a great paralysis effect. Szyncletica the star thrower loved her Tunic. Best of all, until tier 3, they’re Bound to Account.
  • Ring of the Stalker. Adds Exceptional Sneak Attack and Seeker effects. Craft the one with Manslayer effect for a vorpal-like ability as early as L11.

Eveningstar Challenges

Far easier to complete in most ways than the Cannith challenges, the ingredients here can make interesting weapons. Unlike the Cannith ones, these challenges are essentially high-combat defend-the-base or slay-everything challenges, not impossible at all if you must play solo, but very manageable with a small party.

Of particular note are the Spelltouched Shuriken that my star-thrower ninja enjoys. They often have hidden effects that make them more of a “Shiradi-in-a-weapon” weapon. And once Shiradi effects are added from the destiny, look out. Even the Level 16 versions give you Shiradi-like fun before you go Epic.

I’ve not made any handwraps from this challenge set yet, but I believe you can do so. Such wraps would have tremendous versatility with the right combinations.

Sora Katra Crafting

Most Monks know to farm for the Stonedust Handwraps and then use the needed marks to craft them into the Vampiric Stonedust Wraps, as noted. If you don’t know, now you do.

The vampiric property comes from the hard-to-obtain Staff of the Shadow, the quest chain end-reward for the Assault on Stormreach chain. Don’t waste that staff. It’s also an optionally good item for Henshin Mystics by reversing the formula, using the Stonedust Handwraps to upgrade the staff into the Petrifying Shadow Staff, which can paralyze or turn enemies to stone while delivering negative levels and sucking life away with its Lesser Vampirism.

The shows-up-all-the-time Blade of Fury can be crafted into three kinds of two matching and powerful shortswords. The Vampiric Fury versions are helpful (but at the expense of using Stonedust Handwraps to craft them).

For shortsword-wielding ninjas, I recommend these. They have Wounding, which damages CON and, thus, Fortitude, making your Ninja Poisoning and dark finishers much more able to stick. Getting a few HP back from the Lesser Vampirism, especially with the Healing Amp changes, make these still a good go-to weapon.

The one advantage of Sora Katra crafting is that the various Marks you require can be purchased from the DDO Store, I believe, or can be purchased within the crafting mechanism. The Marks are Bound to Account so trading them from other players isn’t an option.

Dragonscale Robes

Gianthold’s revision made obtaining powerfully protective robes very easy to do. With 20 White Dragon Scales from the optional white dragon/giant fight in Heroic difficulty  “Gianthold Tor”, you can make the White Dragonscale Robe, with high AC, Heavy Fortification, Protection and Shield AC and Cold resistance. The Epic version is more powerful and, combined with its Epic helm, may be the strongest protection an Epic Monk could wear.

The Black Dragonscale Robe might be useful for Monks with ranged attacks as it features the Armor-Piercing property that bypasses some fortification.

The Dragoncraft Robes aren’t bad at all, as they are a “mini” version of their ‘Scale versions. They require fewer ingredients and can be worn at level 10.

The Flawless versions of these robes from Epic play are equally as attractive, but requires some luck in getting three rare Commendations of Heroism as part of the process, as well as beating up enough Epic Tor dragons for their Flawless dragon scales.

Don’t confuse these clothing types with the Dragontouched crafted apparel that’s made through the ponderous “Reaver’s Refuge” series. Gianthold’s updated armor and clothing far outweighs what few advantages that the DT armors once had.

Green Steel Crafting

The addition of Cannith Crafting as well as Epic gear and better Heroic gear has softened the blow that we still cannot craft Green Steel Handwraps. Perhaps the recently announced quests that may add an Epic Devil Battlefield and a new Green Steel update might see this finally resolved.

The good news is that we can craft any other conventional weapon. Star-throwers should make a Mineral II shuriken as their go-to weapon for most enemies and Silver-Good bosses (excepting clay golems and undead) and a Triple-Positive star as a very potent Greater Disrupting weapon that hates, just hates undead giant skeletons.

Ninjas should make better short swords and have a star on hand for special needs, such as Silver of Pure Good or even Metalline of Pure Good.

Unarmed Monks should look into the Alchemical Crafting for customized handwraps if, for some ungodly reason, you’re not enjoying the many new handwraps such as the Ivy Wraps, the Adamantine Knuckles, Grave Wrappings and more.

But the problem here is that you have to run “The Master Artificer” raid to find a pair of wraps to start crafting, or pay an ungodly sum from the Auction House or Shard Exchange. And there’s the matter of ingredients from the Cannith areas and raids. I’m not fond of this crafting option.

I’ve often crafted GS gear for permanent Blur, 45 HP, Displacement and the like. There’s a downside to this in that only one Green Steel non-weapon item can be worn at a time, or the effect of wearing two will quickly try to kill you without cleaning one of the items with a special ingredient, the Essence of Cleansing, found in your rewards list at the end of your 20th Shroud run.

Incredible Potential rings

Since the introduction of Eveningstar and beyond, not many people run the Devil Battlefield’s raid, “Tower of Despair” as often now. This was where Monks could find a special ring from that raid that they could craft up, using Green Steel ingredients, to form rings with Holy Burst effects to help DR busting.

These rings (and their companion necklaces) are still great to have. But I’ll admit that there’s far easier options now to gain DR bypassing than running this raid at least 7 times for a special ingredient.

It would be nice to see that Shavarath Trophy of War drop as on occasional ingredient in Elite runs of the Devil Battlefield quests or in Epic “Devil’s Assault.”

Syncletica is the only character I have that has the matching Shintao Monk set and an unlocked ring. Together, she bypasses Good/Evil DR.

Thunder-Forged Weapons

The best way to officially describe these highest-level Epic weapons is “Holy shit.

They are comparatively very easy to obtain by collecting enough of one ingredient to generate a weapon of your choice (including handwraps). You can upgrade them three times. Non-handwrap items are unbound at Tier 0 (creation) and Tier 1 levels, only becoming Bound to Character once you craft it further.

But, as handwraps are not weapons, any versions of these become Bound to Character on Equip. That means that, while any character that can enter Thunderholme to reach the forge (an NPC will grant you this once you make it there for the first time) and craft for you, don’t let any others equip those wraps except the Monk they’re slated for use.

Now, crafting TS items to Tier 2 and later requires far more dedication than I have–something on the order of running the two Thunderholme raids about 20 or more times. But even in their Tier 1 state, a Thunder-Forged weapon often has 3x the damage of anything you own, period. And they leave you an Augment slot for additional happy.

Quest-Based Upgrading and Live Events

I mentioned the Jidz-Tet’ka bracers, which are actually a type of quest-based upgrading. There are others.

As with other classes, the Minos Legens helm from the Orchard of the Macabre for 100% Fortification and Vitality are popular, but my ninjas have become fans of the Muffled Veneer, which adds to Hide/Move Silently and has a Yellow augment slot. It’s farming for the 20 Tapestry Pieces that tend to make a man want to throw themselves off the top of Amrath.

There’s also the newer version of the Nightforge Gorget, which has 100% Fortification and a convenient Yellow gem slot for a Deathblock gem. This crafting option is the only one I know of where you find the crafting materials and crafter inside a quest: “A Relic of a Sovereign Past.” Just gather up Adamantine ore and craft all you want. (Previous updates made this stuff Exclusive but now you can make and own as much as you have ore to generate.)

There’s still a few live events to take advantage, although handwraps and weapons for Monks aren’t typically available.

The Crystal Cove events can gain you the Cutthroat’s Smallblade for ninjas. While the damage is okay, the Hide/Move Silently numbers are good to have, wielding the item as you need to without compromising your overall protections. Greater Nimble Trinkets are excellent to get your ninja’s Blur on, with a little Dodge, as early as level 4.

What’s your favorite thing to craft up for your Monk?

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Zen and the Art of Stunning a Giant Senseless

In Gianthold Tor, the giants can become overwhelming. Sometimes an old-school approach is better. (Stolen from GamerGeoff)

In Gianthold Tor, the giants can become overwhelming. Sometimes an old-school approach is better. (Stolen from GamerGeoff)

What is the sound of one fist punching?

The answer to this not-quite-zen riddle is: A ding, as in the confirmation sound of a Stunning Fist connecting to its target.

Stunning Fist is ever the keystone attack of most unarmed Monks. But for Pynthetica the Zen Archer, using Stunning Fist or any ki attacks outside of Ten Thousand Stars isn’t her usual knack.

At least, not until a Heroic Elite run on “Gianthold Tor.”

Why Evasion is So Needed

Over the weekend, a fellow guildmate and I had completed the three flagging runs for Heroic Gianthold, all on Elite. “A Cabal of One” showed we (a Warforged Artificer, a Half-Elf Monk, Tempys and Gorgal) had plenty of DPS. While my friend Shakalegg the Artificer had superior trapping ability, it was her ability to get to a few of the trap boxes safely that almost proved our party’s undoing. After the first conspirator was slain, we encountered a horrific closely meshed combination of poison and acid traps, with one super-nasty fire trap supporting it.

Shakalegg, lacking any Evasion, died on contact. So did our hirelings, who ignored commands to stay back or dutifully (and stupidly) met their end in assisting. I was the only one standing, with Improved Evasion saving me barely from immediate death as I cleaned up a few enemies before clearing the shrine, thankfully close by. (My guildmate, days later, revealed to me that she had neglected to wear any kind of fortification throughout those quests. Whoops.)

Pynthetica was at level 15 and had claimed Improved Precise Shot. Combined with a good paralyzing bow, she was able to use choke points, either doors or narrow hallways, to slow or stop anything that came along. I had to grab a soulstone of one hireling that sat direct in a trap’s jet, getting myself smacked with 110 Poison damage even with Improved Evasion on three tries before succeeding. One Abundant Step later, and our party was back in business, completing the quest.

Madstone Crater” is never nice to small parties. It’s a kill-fest where you also must guard the three sages as they destroy crystals that make the denizens there quite ax-crazy. I had just made a speed farming run alone with Szyncletica a day before, through the entire chain, so I had refreshed my memory on what our party needed to do.

The first two sages were easy to guard. But there were many ball-lightning-happy ogre mages that were lobbing electrical death at us, killing the non-evasive characters quickly, leaving all but me on attack before I rolled a 1 and died as well.

I released back to rebuff and return but not before adding in a bit more firepower in the form of a L16 hireling sorcerer named Mekwi Therzyl.

Thankfully the sages cannot die, but forced to reset their attempts to destroy the crystal after enemies interrupt them with too much damage (“Too much! I must start again.”).

I set Mekwi on aggressive mode and he went to work like no other hireling I had seen to-date. His primary spells where Otto’s Dancing Sphere and Horrid Wilting, which he immediately used to lock up every enemy above the sage, where my bow work slaughtered what he didn’t kill himself. My guildmate had just reentered when the sage managed to complete his work and we continued on to complete the quest.

Mekwi: Highly Recommended Hireling…Mostly

Mekwi wasn’t done showing off how badass he was for a non-player character. In “Prison of the Planes,” Mekwi continued to show his DJ skill, setting up more than a few dances. But once we hit the rooms where the djinns went into their unkillable ethereal state while regenerating, Mekwi became quite annoyed with them and gave both the Finger–the Finger of Death spell, to be precise, destroying them despite their state.

Tempys, ever the poster child for the stupid hireling AI, moved when he was commanded to stay still. He managed to get himself killed despite being on the outside of one prison room, directed only to pull the prison activation lever. I’ve learned that Tempys survives better when I tell him to fight rather than defend as he’s so idiotic that he will neither defend or heal himself when attacked while in Defend mode.

We completed the rest of “Prison” without incident, rebuffed and entered “Gianthold Tor” on Elite. I was hoping to score a Level 13 Ring of Shadows from the end-reward (the reason I had Szyn make a speed run to try to get on from the chain end-reward, only managing to scare up a Level 12 Dream Visor for Pyn to use).

The starting fight with the hordes of giants went badly, with everyone but myself succumbing to fireballs from Pyromancer Fire Giants. My evasive nature held up and I managed to slaughter the last half of the giant mob.

But things got too sticky when a Stormsworn Earthcaller came tearing down the path heading to Snitch, the unruly kobold. Earthcallers are, effectively, battle clerics that also throw boulders.

Still alone, with four ghosts helplessly witnessing, my bow damage, even in TTS burst mode, simply could not take down the Earthcaller while he continually healed himself.

With my Death Ward buff beginning to fade and the probability of other giants hearing the fight, I had to go at it old-school with what I had left.

Pyn put away the bow, equipped some simple +2 Holy icy-bursted handwraps and punched the guy, at least a CR17, into obliviousness with a perfect stun.

Despite my goal of using bows as the dominant weapon, I did train up Stunning Fist early on. I had my regrets on doing this early in Pyn’s second life since Zen Archers are feat-starved and I realized later that I needed additional feats to make her a better archer.

But Stunning Fist saved the day, killing the Earthcaller. This was a great example of how the Monk forms the weapon as an unarmed fighter. Her handwraps were not extraordinary, but her WIS (built up to support Ten Thousand Stars) was already at 35, high for level 15. Pyn’s old-school unarmed fighting helped to clear two more Earthcallers and Pyromancers before she returned to her bow to clear the jaralith lion-demons and then open the shrine.

Once revived, Mekwi seemed to learn from his last taste of death, giving the Finger to any mage he saw without hesitation and setting a dance hall on any other giant he found. We completed the rest of the quest without incident, skipping the dragon fights this time.

Sadly, the end rewards for completing the chain on all Elite only gave the level 12 named items. Dang it. I’ll have to speed run Szyn later for a L23 Ring of Shadows for an Epic Pyn another time.

Rock-hard Hireling Atheism

Later on, I took Mekwi in with Tempys to complete “Undermine” on Elite. Here, the sorcerer did his usual thing against any Droaam kobolds and fighters quite competently.

But when we encountered the Elder Earth Elementals (say that three times fast), Mekwi and Tempys became completely worthless. They stood there as if in passive mode, neither fighting nor responding to any attack commands, as if the elementals weren’t there at all. It was if Mekwi stood there chatting with Tempys calmly, “Say, do you feel something? It’s rather breezy in here.”

Thankfully the elementals weren’t immune from paralysis and weren’t very powerful enemies, so I managed to take them all down on my lonesome. After removing 75% of the hit points of mini-boss Rhyolite with a well-timed det pack (the one guarding the first shrine), the quest continued on without a lot of problems, save the hireling’s steadfast refusal to admit that rock elementals existed.

From Level 15 Onward

My slogan that a Zen Archer is a Monk with a bow played out well throughout the weekend. While not perhaps the most powerful archer, Pynthetica the Zen Archer showed her durability and versatility by using swords or going unarmed to meet a party need. The innate Monk traits of speed, saves and stuns are still present.

Now equipped with a pair of Stonedust Handwraps (not yet fused for Vampiric), Pyn had an emergency stunning option. She needed it in a repeat run of “Feast or Famine” where the nasty Wyrm Cult Heresiarchs were throwing Enervate and Disintegrate spells constantly. After one of them blew me to atoms, I equipped the Stonedusts and stunned him and the rest of the spawning hunting party with extreme prejudice.

Now the fun begins in getting her build to work harder. Pyn had trained enough in the Ninja Spy tree to train a point of WIS from it. On the Arcane Archer side, she’s added two more points. In a perfect world, I’d get the No Mercy ability trained for extra damage while helpless, or Poisoned Soul to inject Ninja Poison for damage-over-time using swords. We’ll see how this plays out.

With still about 22 AP to go before level 20, she can train her third core ability for Aligned arrows, the last core I can train until level 22, given the elven Archer Archer’s slower leveling.

But there will be much she may not train in the AA tree, allowing those abilities to work through a bow alone while also leveraging some useful Ninja Spy abilities or racial abilities. Options for smiting (1 AP) might be ignored in favor of increasing the Will DC on the paralyzer attack, with its three ranks. I want to compare its DC at maximum to Improved Paralyzing that I see on Szyncletica’s spelltouched stars.

If the DC is still too low, I may skip Paralyzing arrows, too. Same for the Force arrows, with 3 ranks and critical damage added, too. Banishing is a better thing to have available so that bow damage can help. I’m thinking that “Acid Wit” will be much harder without it (the elementals there are very, very tough). It’s only 1 AP and one rank, as is Smiting.

There’s the matter of what racial abilities to train up. So far, I’ve been able only to use healing wands for battle healing, which isn’t too bad considering that I tend to need them only when I’m very outmatched (confined space, high DR/level enemy, only target present) and unable to remove enemies at a distance or pull some individually. Complete training of the Ranger dilettante is essential as it maximizes the Lesser Bow Strength effect for more bow damage. That’s 4 AP I must spend (a prerequisite ability adds another DEX point), 6 AP if I count that Improved Recovery II effect. I can skip the last two core abilities there.

But this leaves me with precious few AP for any AA combat abilities.

What I am prioritizing are all the arrow imbues up to the Improved Elemental Arrows for special effects. Pyn isn’t flashy. It’s the consistency and reliability of her attacks that are important. While slower in attack speed than Szyncletica the star thrower, she’ll have greater attack options because of the use of WIS, whereas Szyn relies entirely on the Dexterity-to-Damage ability of a Ninja Spy.

The last Heroic feat will be Improved Critical: Ranged at L18 to make her critical hits a bit more frequent.

As long as I continue to add in the WIS for the reliable and often-used Ten Thousand Stars (and the occasional stun), things look promising for Pyn.

A bit of searching the bags of other characters for Black dragon scales allowed me to add a Black Dragonscale Robe to Pyn. She still has the White Dragonscale Robe handy, but the Black Robe’s armor-piercing, stat-boosting Fury mode and Haste Guard has been nice on the DPS.

The Littlest Giantslayer

1500 GoliathsBefore Heat Mizer did a song-and-dance on my computer cores a few weeks ago, Szyncletica the star-thrower was back on the warpath. Continuing to show my tankers like Lynncletica that they aren’t the only ones that can hold their own going solo in Epic adventures, she’s ventured alone into the especially dangerous wastes of epic Gianthold, improving her fight experience and completing flagging quests on EH once more for an eventual run into Gianthold Tor.

Anyone that’s visited the epic version of this popular quest wilderness knows how it’s far more hostile than its Heroic mode. The giants have massive HP, can literally seem to see you from a mile away with their proportionate Spot bonuses, and often dogpile on you with three or more at a time.

Oh, and dragons like to drop out of the frickin’ sky and eat you.

Szyn, however, has taken a page or two from David’s book on getting giant shit done.

I’ve been playing her pure solo (like Kiricletica) since she went Epic, occasionally adding my Onyx Panther or another hireling for a little support occasionally (Restorations or aggro management). Doing this keeps me in control of what I fight and where, giving me the advantage.

The key to Szyn’s giant-slaying success at first was her level 20 Icy Burst, Crushing Wave, Improved Paralyzing spelltouched shuriken. Combined with Improved Precise Shot and Shiradi effects such as Nerve Poison, the high DPS just carves through hordes of giants with complete dominance. Still wearing the Golden Guile, its Improved Deception often bluffs the hordes, slowing their rate of advance.

And with level 23 reached once again, out came the Celestia. This adds firebombing and light-damage for spectacular mass-damage effects to already weakened mobs.

And then I got a new ML24 star crafted that causes faster damage to giants with some hidden nasty “spellplague” effects.

I didn’t bother going stealth too much. I wanted to attract attention.

To Szyn, a Drow with emmity to giantkind, Zoarinnia here looked like a winged giant... and just as easily eliminated.

To Szyn, a Drow with emmity to giantkind, Zoarinnia here looked like a winged giant… and just as easily eliminated.

The giants weren’t the only victims to Szyn’s davidic imitations. One dragon decided to show up and met death with a bit of circle-strafing attacks with a Green Steel Mineral II star (the go-to when you meet up with most red-named enemies).

A rare encounter with the sleeping dragon guarding a chest was far too easy for a Ninja Spy to sneak up and claim the goodies before purposely waking the dragon afterwards to remove it from existence. Five more dragons met their end before she slew her 1,500th giant.

The orcs in Epic Hard “Feast or Famine” shared the hurt, despite being a level 24 quest that should’ve given them a little edge against a technically weaker single enemy at level 23. Virtually immune to the many traps that line the doors, Szyn blasted through the orcs in the narrow hallways, dispatching the lieutenants and friends to get their passage keys. The hobgoblin party was slain before it could leave its hidden tunnel ambush point.

At the end fight, I decided just to open fire on everything that moved, concentrating first on any mages and then removing everybody, including the hunting party, before taking the boss down to complete the quest.

Earlier, Szyn slaughtered the orcs in Epic Hard “Return to Cabal for One” for her first flag.

One of the more annoying and difficult quests in-game, even with an Epic character, is “Prey on the Hunter” in the Reaver’s Refuge. You have to run a gauntlet of frost giants to rescue a dragon that’s too arrogant to think they need to be rescued. Just for a break from Gianthold, I buzzed through that one on Hard difficulty–risky because the giants were nigh-impossible for me to drop fast enough using any other Monks I had on Normal difficulty, including barely successful completions by the frost-giant-hating Lynncletica and the fiery staff wielding Quintessica the Mystic.

But Szyn does not tolerate failure. She quickly pummeled any giant with the Celestia’s raw fire and light power and IPS of the stars. She made it to the dragon and, to redirect aggro once the unrelenting red-named boss arrived, used a Diversion dummy. That little super-hate magnet pulled everything toward it, including the dragon, allowing me to target the boss giant faster for a quick takedown. Yay, me.

Gianthold’s loot is still well-enjoyed by many players, especially with the Epic mode and the changes in Gianthold Tor. Szyn wants to farm another Ring of Shadows for herself (she lacks Blurry at present). Epic Hard “Madstone Crater” is next. Here, she might need a Fighter to hold some attention at key points. I’m wondering if she could survive an Epic Elite run. Maybe once she’s back to level 28 prowess. Maybe.

There’s also the matter of getting her Flawless White Dragonscale Robe created. I’m about at the limits of the Frozen Tunic’s advantages and need better overall defenses with more HP since Szyn now draws a lot of aggro in solo mode with killing as a strategy rather than avoiding fights. The Flawless Scale, combined with its matching helm, can help here. More on getting Szyn ready for real EE play in a later post.

As others know, “Madstone” is difficult for some parties, much less trying it solo because of the many attacks you must thwart against the giant sages that are attempting to destroy the tainted crystals throughout the quest. Szyn’s paralyzing attacks work well here but she can’t be omnipotent and be in two places at once to guard the wizards.

I’ll post her attempt at tackling Epic Hard “Madstone Crater” sometime.