Standing with Stones

fukiya

Ninja PLEASE!

I’m still alive and well (albeit still unemployed) as I make a quick note of recent events and updates. I’ve been distracted by an old friend, a game I loved before DDO. More on that another time.

First off, congratulations to Standing Stone Games. I, for one, welcome our new game overlords.

You can read more about the reincorporation online, but basically, it seems our developers and producers have spun themselves off from their WB Games-owned Turbine entity and have a much freer space to develop and profit. Looks like some old hands lost over the years might also be returning.

I wanted primarily to write on Update 33 Patch 2, arriving tomorrow (Wednesday 12/21). Many course corrections and major changes to polish off the major Monk enhancements and handwrap/weapon update of Update 33.

Here are the general Monk adjustments. Items that are great (and there are several) are in italics.

  • Monk finishing moves now incorporate Stunning bonuses into their DC calculations.
  • Ki Shout has had its cooldown reduced to match Intimidate, and its Ki cost lowered slightly. (Lynncletica is very happy.)
  • Meditation of War is no longer considered a Defensive stance.
  • Flash Bang should now add Stunning DCs.
  • Ki Bolt now scales with 3x Melee Power, and adds Stunning DCs.
  • Incinerating Wave now scales with 3x Melee Power, and adds Stunning DCs.
  • Cauldron of Flame’s damage has changed to 1d2 Fire Damage per Monk level, scaling with 2x Melee Power, at each tier, to a maximum of 10d2 per Monk level before scaling. In addition, while wielding a quarterstaff inside your Cauldron of Flame, you gain +20 PRR, +10 MRR, and +15% Dodge that ignores Dodge Cap.
  • Serenity grants an additional boost to Cauldron of Flame: While wielding a quarterstaff inside your Cauldron of Flame, you gain +5 to hit and damage, and a +1 Critical Multiplier.
  • Serenity now grants a +15% attack speed with quarterstaves. (About time.)
  • Henshin Mystic has a new Tier 5 ability called Henshin Staff Training: +3 to hit and damage with quarterstaves.
  • Lighting the Candle now deals about twice as much damage as before.
  • Void Strike now adds +1 to Critical Threat Range and Multiplier with its attack.
  • Shintao’s Touch the Void Dragon now also passively grants +1[w] with handwraps or while unarmed.
  • Shintao’s To Seek Perfection now also passively grants +2[w] with handwraps or while unarmed.
  • Ninja Spy’s Diversion now also grants +5 Sneak Attack Dice for 20 seconds when activated.
  • Ninja Spy’s Ninja Master now also passively grants +5 Sneak Attack Dice.

Ninjas come awfully close to Rogue-level sneak attack powers with things like this, and I’m not complaining. My new SA-happy Shadowbow Ninja archer will deal more damage.

  • Diversion and Touch the Void Dragon no longer share a cooldown.
  • Hit boxes for monks with handwraps have been restored to their previous size.

A very annoying bug squash here that should now allow handwrap-wielding Monks to massage Lolth’s incredible abs with our fists once more in “Caught in the Web” without falling to our doom.

  • Every Light Casts a Shadow should no longer give negative levels to friendly members of your party.
  • Spring Attack is now a Monk Feat at level 6.

The Combat adjustments are a bit interesting for ranged characters. Not sure how this will work with my snipers, especially the Diversion-loving Pynthetica:

  • We’ve corrected a long-standing bug where groups of enemies would not aggro correctly. Players will find that they can no longer use a ranged attack to pull singular enemies from a group without aggroing nearby enemies.

Now, I’m fine with this change as it is more realistic. But, hopefully, the other aggroed enemies don’t immediately come after you, but first note the noise, look, and investigate, buying you time.

  • Bluff and Deception will no longer cause bosses and enemies using ranged attacks or spells to turn around. This corrects an issue where ranged enemies would stop attacking after being bluffed or affected by Deception, and improves the enemy combat experience. Red-named bosses are still affected by sneak attack damage vulnerability.

Another change that’s fine, as long as the Bluff effect still procs and damage is still happening, and hopefully, enemies are still slowed or hesitant in some way. However, this might change the nature of my Zen Archer powers. I’ll have to test and see.

  • Raid and named bosses can no longer be champions.

Nothing’s more scary than to see Lolth wearing a crown. She’s already crazy as it is.

Other good stuff:

  • Many old loot effects that were made specifically for old-style handwraps now work properly on updated handwraps.
  • Vampirism and Lesser Vampirism now provide their proper effects on handwraps.
  • Heroic and Legendary Greensteel handwraps are now available!

How about that? I’ve been craving some Triple-Positive disruptors for Deathwyrm.

  • Scaling Melee and Ranged Alacrity 10% is now applying its proper bonus.

Last but not least is the ability to immediately transfer your characters to and from other servers. This costs a bit but might help in the server balance right away. I might use it to move a few beloved characters I made on Cannith (of which time prohibits me to occupy often enough now).

More to come for my last post of the year next week, if not sooner.

 

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.

~~~

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?

The Right Tools

sword-shieldIt’s no longer a game of Light Monk fisticuffs for most of my game play, of late.

My unarmed play of late is generally only with Ryncletica the Ninja, who often enjoys more time with her short swords and shuriken. She now owns a Celestia to go with her Star of Day to dish out some Ninja Poisoning, as well as Antipode handwraps.

Quintessica the Mystic almost always uses her quarterstaves, and the latest gift of a free Sireth from the Update 20 Raider’s Box will all but guarantee this fighting style isn’t changing soon.

And the star-thrower Szyncletica is looking out for any returning stars to craft while on her way to obtain her Green Steel weapons. She just got a Morning Star shuriken and a nasty Cormyrian power-star.

All this weaponizing of my Monks leads me to a mild revelation. Good weapons are hard to find.

Unarmed Thinking Dulls the Blade

With a few exceptions with a few non-Monks I own,  I generally find the latest handwraps and adapted them to my game play and to the quest at hand. Loot-generated handwraps often fit the needs and there are quite a few named handwraps that work. The Shintao Monks gained the most ease in equipping since they gained much of their own damage reduction bypassing as they leveled. All I needed to do was stack more damage and train each Monk properly for durability.

I didn’t have to think hard on my artificer and Arcane Archers since they could get easy DR bypassing options through buffs and gear. I don’t own any Fighters, and my other characters are played too little to gain full attention to some weapon needs at the moment.

With Update 19, the world changed.

Ninja use of shortswords and shuriken became far superior with the changes to poison, the Dexterity-to-Damage ability of the class tree for piercing and slashing weapons, and Ninja Master’s vorpal effects.

The Henshin Mystic uses quarterstaves almost exclusively and deal harsher critical hits with them than any unarmed Monk I’ve owned. And I mentioned (ad nauseum to some of you, perhaps) the need for throwing stars for a Ninja star-thrower.

In short, I have been increasingly forced to think outside the unarmed damage framework to the traditional weapon damage and types that many others use. I feel like a noob.

Damage Bypassing

The greatest challenge in generating the best damage comes with Szyncletica. She has one attack mode: Shuriken. She’ll only go unarmed for oozes and to bust down doors. Otherwise, her damage bypassing must come from the star (if no other buffs or abilities are present).

As she reached 16, she was pulled in two directions: Getting flagged for the Shroud and completing the Lords of Dust chain to reach Eveningstar, completing any challenges there. Each path gains a new weapon: Green Steel from the Shroud and Cormyrian thrown weapons from Eveningstar.

Shruiken are harder to build as Green Steel. They need Large Splintered Horns, a rarer item to find in your Shroud ingredient farming. I know I’ll end up paying through the nose on the auction house to get a couple of these for at least two GS stars.

The Eveningstar/Underdark challenges aren’t nearly as puzzling as the House Cannith ones in terms of solo play. Thankfully I some guildies and I made it through to Eveningstar and farmed these at-level to get my first Cormyrian star, with acid, Crushing Wave and goodness knows how many other effects, like paralyzing. It’s not all that good on Shavarath or Xoriat enemies, but on everyone else, it’s a marvel.

On my very first trip into Wheloon and into “Friends in Low Places,” I scored The Morning Star I can use to help against light-sensitive enemies. I popped a Silver augment in there for now. Vampires hate me.

I took Szyncletica into a normal-difficulty “Running with the Devils” to see what she could do. The Eladrin there are often stumpers since they are Good-aligned (making Holy weapons useless), are powerful mages, and need Cold Iron to fully bypass their impressive damage reduction.

I had an Aligned star with me, but it wasn’t enough. Switching to a Metalline Flametouched star just pissed them off more than injured them. I crafted up a Cold Iron returning star into an Aligned Cold Iron of Improved Destruction that worked well enough on a a later run.

By next Thursday’s guild run into the Shroud, I plan to re-craft a couple of Silver stars to a +5 Shocking Burst Silver star of Pure Good and maybe a +3 Holy Silver star of Improved Destruction. Both will target Arraetrikos and his weaknesses. He has just 50% fortification on Normal difficulty, so I might be able to remove up to 15 fortification with the second star and some AC as well, to make it easy on the melee teams. Harry is vulnerable to electricity, so a Shocking Burst star pinpoints that, too. So long as I can evade the occasional meteor he flings my way (with a very high Reflex, I should do so), I’ll be okay in Part 4 and keep a good distance from others in part 5 when Harry is freer to move.

Crafted stars don’t have a wide damage range, unfortunately. Improved Critical: Thrown goes only so far. The Snowstar has a much-wider range but isn’t Good-aligned for better pain. That’s why the higher damage game-crafted Green Steel and Cormyrian weapons are needed as Szyn to improve her overall power in raids.

I’ve avoided many halls of the undead with Szyn, including Delera’s Tomb. I can mow zombies easy enough. It’s the slashing-resistant skeletons that are harder to take down–especially with the complete lack of a disrupting shuriken. My new Morning Star shuriken will help there, if a future Cormyrian star’s semi-random effects don’t surprise me with a disruptor. Time to go get my Voice, finally.

40+ Dexterity at Level 16

I’ve never had such a high ability stat on any character, ever, at Heroic level. On a Ninja thrower, the DEX goes not just to damage and attack rolls but determines the percentage of an additional star thrown per attack. That means that Szyn throws an additional star 40% of the time now. It showed in Gianthold as I tested out the change. Poor giants were gunned down at high distance with a Snowstar, most before they could react. Add in Improved Precise Shot and I was culling mobs out there. It’s the Red Fens all over again.

In Gianthold, I hope to get a guildmate or two to complete the flagging runs there in hopes of pulling a low-level Ring of Shadows for some blurriness in lieu of yet more Green Steel crafting for a Smoke II helmet with 2-clicky Displacement and permanent Blur for later. Lots and lots of Shroud runs in my future.

The additional stars with the higher DEX really improve the effective damage per second of the build. I’m counting on its power in the Shroud.

I took the Cormyrian star into “Mired with Kobolds” on Normal. Aside from a bug that prevented me from rescuing Wayfinder Dael, the quest was full of stomp as I blasted things from long range.

Then came the dragon. I immediately blasted the crystals in the circular field and began circle strafing everything, dispatching the kobolds and then running alternately small and large circles about the child dragon. Didn’t take long for it to die.

I quickly looted…and stopped. I wanted to see what the star could do against something stronger.

Out came Mama Dragon, CR21. Off I went strafing again.

I didn’t have to change a thing. Strafing means I avoid the damaging breath. Any damage I got came from the briar thorns where my Evasion save hit me with half damage. The hireling kept me healed when it could keep up. It was too busy trying to keep up with me to attract the dragon’s attention and so survived as well.

Sinvala could be poisoned, and after a time, 70 poison damage in purple numbers kept punishing her every 2-3 seconds in addition to the spelltouched star’s occasional slams of elemental damage and Crushing Waves. She’s immune to acid, but that didn’t help her.

Victory came easily, to my surprise.

My hope is that I can use strafing in Part 4 of the Shroud, where Harry is immobile. Szyn’s reflexes should help in reducing the chance that one fireball might end her day. There’s the matter now of her HP. She’s gotta be able to take a whirling blade hit or three, and 325 is dangerously low. I’d be happier at 400. Firewall was already ahead of me, swapping out Precision for Toughness. Hate to be a “me too,” but “me too!”

It’s time for Szyncletica’s first Shroud run. Time to put the metal down.

And after 20, its a new ball game. Based on what the Shurricannon build requires, it’s going to be a tough road as she gets Shiradi training completed.

Shameless Boast: My First 20th Shroud

My stalwart level 20 Light Monk, Syncletica, completed her 20th Shroud yesterday in the company of her guildies on Tyrs Paladium. It was a textbook run, with only a slight misstep in Part 2. Despite a really ugly-looking monster selection there (kobald, fire elemental, troll and lion), we finished it well,  zipped through part 3 in under 5 minutes and nearly took down ‘Arry in our first swing at him.

Just one death in Part 4, although not from the dreaded Shroud Blades. As promised, the devs did nerf them down a bit so that they do not strike as often, yet still persist long enough to keep you on your toes. ‘Arry, on the other hand, was still as mean as ever with flying meteor strikes. One, combined with lag, took out 1 guildmate, but the party smacked ‘Arry forward to part 5, which threatened to become a little uglier at the very end.

Four guildmates died as ‘Arry was less than 10%. Up to this point I had continued to experiment with Syn’s handwraps to determine the better damage output against ‘Arry. Syncletica is a Shintao III (natural Silver DR) wearing a Holy-Bursted Kyosho’s Ring (Good DR), so all that was left was to add on some sauce to that pit fiend’s goose. The answer came with some handwraps I’d tried off and on but could never quite love, until now: the Unstable Handwraps. Thanks to an Artificer in the party, they received Shocking weapon damage. Combined with Silver/Good DR, Mountain Stance III as well as a Greater Bold Trinket for Shocking Blow criticals, I gave it everything  I had, watching many purple numbers rise from the boss from the electrical attacks as well as the Outsider bane, spamming Void Strike IV and Earth strikes with Healing Ki later as our clerics began to go into damage control. Our guild persevered once more, plowing  ‘Arry down.

So, finally, I have the final piece of the puzzle to Syncletica’s Riddle: How can you have maximum HP, saves, fortification and damage while keeping blindness, deathblock and many other essentials also in place? That piece is an Essence of Cleansing from my end-game loot list, tucked comfortably amidst several +2 tomes and one tempting +3 DEX tome. Now I can soon wear my Triple-Immunity Deathblock Goggles in tandem with my +45 HP cloak, allowing permanent use of the Icy Raiment robes for the best all-around numbers I can think of grabbing for now.

The only thing I have left to consider are my bracers. While the Jidz-Tet’ka bracers are still great situationally, an epic version would add a touch more AC. But epic runs through “The Tide Turns” will be slow in coming as my guildmates with Monks make their way upward in levels.

As soon as I find a charitable guild that will let me borrow their ship’s Altar of Devastation for some quick crafting, I’ll have Syncletica about as powered up as I can make her in this, her first life.

Thanks to everyone in my guild and all my fellow players in PUGs that helped me out in any and all ways possible!

The Perfection of Destruction

“Thank you for this honor, Teacher,” Lynncletica said, bowing briefly before looking at the small green pin I gave her. It marked her not only as a teacher, but as my second-in-command in the dojo.

“Don’t thank me. Your training is complete, and you are ready to teach others as I taught you,” I said. “Just remember that the process of learning new things never stops. Your best skill to students may be in instructing skillfully of things you have not yet mastered.”

I could see my old student study me, from my expressions to my silence, before asking, “Syncletica, there have been…rumors…that you will leave us in a short time.”

I stayed silent before I nodded.

“It is true? You are considering the discipline called the Circle of the Phoenix?” Lynncletica seemed less shaken by the idea of the loss of her teacher and more fascinated by the concept of True Reincarnation. I knew that expression on her face; I’ve seen it in the mirror a few times myself.

“Why does reincarnation attract you?” she asked, following my lead in taking a seat.

“Growth. Despite the many techniques I have learned, there is more than this life. Through the powers of reincarnation, I can channel all my ki into becoming somewhat taller and stronger. As a result, I may be able to withstand more damage but also create more damage than ever before.”

“But where does that leave you in terms of ability? Or skills or equipment?”

I realized I was chewing my bottom lip in absent-minded contemplation and expectation of that question. “Here is where the master becomes the student. I must rediscover my experiences again, my adventures. Completing my experiences will teach a little less in a new life than when I first attempted them. As far as ability, many of my abilities will increase naturally, perhaps even carry over to a point.”

Lynncletica tried to parse this information before I changed the subject. “There is a lesson I have for you today, one that I have almost solved.” My former student’s expression returned from its sorrow over my imminent departure to her usual puppy-like enthusiasm.

“As you reach your training pinnacle, the most difficult part of preparing for battle involves what little gear you require for maximum effect.

“Here is the riddle. How do you achieve the highest amount of health while still keeping your fundamental damage ability maximized, while ensuring that you have blindness protection, death spell protection, the heaviest critical hit fortification, high resistances, higher armor protection and critical strike seeking of factor 4 or better simultaneously?”

Lynncletica thought a bit about this for nearly 20 seconds (a testament to her greatly improved skill in concentration that has allowed her to return less bloodied for adventures than not lately) before answering, “The Green Steel may be useful here, to start.”

“Yes,” I said, although you know that we cannot obtain handwraps made of this material.”

“Yes, I am aware. So we use Green Steel to stack multiple defensive effects on an item, or better, two items. I’m betting that health, blindness protection, death blocking, poison inmmunity and more could be handled by two Green Steel items.”

“Wearing two Green Steel items, I should warn you, will drain the life out of you without a special cleansing agent of the Shavarath tainting, Student, but I have this covered.” I poured us some tea. “Go on,” I said.

“And…while you could wear an outfit with fortification, like the Garments of Equilibrium, perhaps stronger saves against damage and better armor could be better handled by another garment. I know you have found the Icy Raiment…I think that would do here.”

“True,” I said after a sip.

“For fortification, I know of a crafter that may have a helmet that adds more personal durability as well as the best fortification. So that leaves only the Seeker ability…something I’m always carrying in my adventures for best damage.”

Lynncletica seemed lost in thought as she began to sip her tea. “I know that the Blood Stone is easy to use here but I suspect you have something else in mind, Teacher.”

“Yes, I do. I’ve worn two items to help with the Seeker effect. One was a headdress with the sixth level of Seeker, combined with a special trinket that increased the effect by an additional two levels, as well as adding a powerful electrical burst on critical strikes.”

Lynncletica nodded. “So the helmet I suggested would change your Seeker. If you wore a Blood Stone, you would have the sixth level but could not increase it further because you cannot wear that Bold Trinket, yes?”

“Correct. And, as you have taught me, the Seeker effect increases the opportunity for damage.”

My student finished her tea. “I will need to study this more, Teacher. I’m sure I can determine a solution.”

But Lynncletica’s eyes began to smile. In challenging training sessions, I’ve seen her face do this while her mouth remained grim and impassive. I knew she had a fresh idea, for when her eyes smiled, understanding, and thus, victory was near. It was not an expression that her opponents often survived long enough to understand.

“It seems like you have an idea already.”

Lynncletica seemed momentarily taken aback by my reading of her before she answered, “I do. I unearthed high Seeker handwraps but they lack additional innate damage. But if I were to add bursting effects to them, they would allow you to use the Bold trinket at the expense of less elemental damage, but keep all other benefits of your accessories.”

I pondered this a moment. She was right except that, at my power level, my ability to use the most powerful ki attacks, particularly Force and Electrical damage, would easily negate any deficits to such a simple set of handwraps with only Seeker level applied.

I stood up and bowed. “You have answered that question very well. I trust that your disciplines will steer toward this problem for yourself in the course of time?”

Lynncletica stood and bowed again.”It will, indeed. Good day to you, Teacher.”

I bowed again as she left. After I removed my china, I began to search our dojo’s equipment logs for any of these Seeker handwraps.