How a Ninja Causes a Bug

ScreenShot01884

So, here’s Ryncletica, now a powerhouse fighter at level 30. She’s continuing to train every destiny to gain enough fate points to have Sense Weakness and other abilities twisted for raids and to boost her Epic Elite combat prowess.

I started up the Epic saga that pretty much requires everything in Eveningstar and beyond, starting with “Impossible Demands.” Just to be sporting, I enter with Iessin the Rogue/Shadowdancer in Epic Elite.

The fight with Priestess Vicala begins strangely because I couldn’t target her at first. For some reason I kept targeting the door behind her but my sword strokes pass through her. I shift position to get Vicala to move, and she does, towards the locked end-quest chest.

Among other spells I shake off, she begins smacking me with a hundred points of Divine Punishment. I return the favor with a hundred points of Ninja Poison ticking on her. Here’s the combat log at the peak of the battle:

(Combat): Vicala Szind’s divine punishment hit you for a total of 75 points of light damage after 37 were blocked by energy resistance.

(Combat): You hit Vicala Szind for 97 points of poison damage.

(Combat): Vicala Szind’s divine punishment hit you for a total of 79 points of light damage after 37 were blocked by energy resistance.

. . .

(Combat): Vicala Szind’s divine punishment hit you for a total of 85 points of light damage after 37 were blocked by energy resistance.

(Combat): You hit Vicala Szind for 87 points of poison damage.

(Combat): Vicala Szind’s divine punishment hit you for a total of 79 points of light damage after 37 were blocked by energy resistance.

(Combat): You hit Vicala Szind for 99 points of poison damage.

(Combat): You hit Vicala Szind for 103 points of poison damage.

(Combat): You hit Vicala Szind for 97 points of poison damage.

Helping me reduce the punishing Light damage is a cloak that has Light Resistance 37, a very handy thing against evil clerics.

She goes all “Super Saiyan” on me as expected in the quest’s start. You know what that is: Drow priestesses sacrifice any innocent to gain a super buff that recharges their life and reduces your attack effectiveness for a time.

But the Ninja Poison DoTs persistently damage her, even in super-mode. As she returns to normal, her body “hiccups” every 2 seconds as the Ninja Poison dots her with 107 points of damage. Her Divine Punishment dots stop after about 15 seconds.

So, Vicala sacrifices the Purple Dragon Knight and then leaves, closing the door–which she does. I move back to the normally-safe area by the entrance and shrine.

And then the very pissed-off Vicala comes storming back through the door. She’s not following her preset patrol. She attacks me and the passive Iessin–not just twice but three times, also sacrificing the already-stricken Purple Dragon Knight a second time as she goes Super Saiyan once more.

Proof that, while Divine Punishment can deal debilitating damage, Ninja Poison throws up to 20 stacks of the stuff and lasts 15 seconds per stack, ticking damage every 3 seconds.

Ninja Poison ruined my normal attempt to rescue all hostages without the priestess noticing.

And it left me a momentary challenge on how to turn off Ninja Poison for the first fight or I’d keep turning the priestess into more than the usual psychotic murderess she is. (The answer there would be to switch off the Poisoned Soul and Sting of the Ninja enhancements.)

To the defense of the developers, this isn’t so much of a bug than a glitch. Ninja Poison was too effective on her at the start on this first attempt. Often some NPCs that fight then go inactive have any lasting player damaging effects removed. Looks like Vicala didn’t get that treatment on the first attempt.

I reset the quest, tried again and completed. However, during the run, Vicala apparently was enjoying a particular piece of furniture upstairs and glitched again, halting her patrol. I took advantage of that, rescued all the hostages and then dispatched her.

#ninjaproblems

Advertisements

The Wrath of the Netherese

After completing my first Epic Elite solo run with Szyncletica, I’ve gotten more emboldened since last weekend.

Eager to get my 375 Purple Dragon Knight favor in hopes of someday unlocking my Celestia for a Planar Focus I looted, I’ve worked on completing several PDK quests on Heroic or Epic Elite.

I turned my eye to one where the role-play factor would be excellent: “The House of Rusted Blades.”

Syzncletica’s backstory is as a daughter of that house, culled early from the matron mother competition and nearly killed before smuggled to Eberron. She wants vengeance on the whole house. It’s totally personal.

Role-play may be quite secondary to DDO itself, but it can really psych you up if you enjoy that kind of thing.

That same rush of adrenaline, too, came to me later from advance knowledge of Forgotten Realms lore.

Epic Elite “The House of Rusted Blades”

This quest is a short and sweet one. House Dun’Robar is filled with dangerous fighters. Fortunately, they buy into your magic disguise at first. I skipped the weapon room optional, opened the shrine room just in case, and went to the Blademaster’s weapon rack to poison it.

Things went slightly pear-shaped from there. A Diversion dummy I left for the fighters didn’t take (or last long). Soon, a small force chased me down the halls. Unfortunately, the angry Drow activated those who were passively standing guard, and I became deadly close to getting a Dungeon Alert.

But Syzn had a new star in her hands, a L24 spelltouched shuriken with Fracturing and Improved Destruction, among its other hidden effects. With this heinous weapon, designed to destroy the living, she targeted the hindmost and used Improved Precise Shot to rip through her pursuers. The wide expanse of the House with its ramps allowed me to line up targets and evade by leaping off the ramp to line everyone up again until the mob was eliminated.

My original plan was only to isolate and kill the senior Blademaster. But now that the whole house became alerted to me and on the aggressive, I changed my tactics: Kill everyone (save those in the weapons room and the Matron Mother’s lair–I wasn’t suicidal, especially without an ability to remove the spell wards in either place).

Clearing out the last enemies in the canteen and space by the Blademaster’s quarters, I returned through the side passage to ring the bell to alert the Blademaster–and immediately skedaddled, heading back up the ramp adjacent to the path to the double-gated weapons room and the upper level to the entrance.

The Blademaster boss did not move as I removed any and all targets from around him on the upper level, including the four guards by the entrance. Dropping down, using all ninja skills, I retraced my steps back through the lower level and side passage where many enemies that spawned from the central room (once the bell rang) had ran and stopped. Nice one, Devs–this would be a natural place for an EE party to camp to avoid direct confrontation with the boss until they could remove his support. Too bad that enemy party left their own flank open, allowing me to follow and pick them off from a long, fatal distance.

ScreenShot01219With no others left, I returned to the upper level and pummeled the senior Blademaster. Using Pin to slow him down with other Shiradi and spelltouched effects, the EE Blademaster slowly but inevitably met his end.

ScreenShot01221Delicious win. I want to re-do this one, but next time I’ll bring in a Rogue hireling to remove the spell wards to the matron mother. Yes, it’s quite bloodthirsty to role-play the notion of killing your own sister (or mother), which technically would leave Szyn as the new Matron Mother by bloodline. But since she’s also slaying any defenders, she’s really not feeling inclined to be a leader. She’s the angel of Death for the entire House, not its salvation.

Epic Elite “Impossible Demands”

After completing the last two initial Heroic quests before the prison chain in Wheloon to add a few more favor points, I managed to catch a “Caught in the Web” PuG run on Epic Hard. A brutal raid as always. I survived fairly well up to when most others chickened out of luring the trash around the last portal keepers and I decided to volunteer–and die–twice to get things moving along. But the group was generally reliable and efficient.

To get the last of my favor, I entered “Impossible Demands.” Priestess Vicala is not a nice person, but the mechanics of fighting her and saving the hostages is no different for me than completing it on lower difficulties.

The true challenge was having sufficient maneuvering room to fight. The tiny rooms were too tiny against Drow that could lop off 100 HP a swing. I modified my typical plan for this quest: Let the priestess head downstairs and then kite an enemy out and dispatch each one by one. The Improved Paralyzer star helped. An earlier attempt left me Stoned and dead as I didn’t hit the wizards fast enough. Luck proved better the second time in. My only mistake was in setting one hostage free a moment too early, and Vicala sacrificed her. All the others were freed and Vicala was defeated with only a comparatively moderate struggle given Epic Elite. Strange that she is invulnerable to negative energy…and I would have really loved to have Sting of the Ninja working to help with the damage (perhaps it’ll work again with Update 22).

And after all that work, I don’t really have anything to upgrade with the PDK vendor, short of some Spidersilk Robes that have no collective features I’d be able to use from the War Wizard’s Battle Arcanist set.

A Break in the Ice

If I’m not slaying the Drow, I’m stopping the insanely evil plans of the Netherese in the Storm Horns now.

I’ve never completed this quest chain and thought it would be good to get its Heroic Elite side completed to help me learn it for a later Epic completion.

Frost Giants! Ever the annoyance to Lynncletica, Szyn’s not fond of them, either. Stealth helped a lot in strategic killing. But what impressed me was the storyline, the music and the voice work for the NPCs. It really provided an immersive story experience.

I’ve played the 2000-era Neverwinter Nights game series from BioWare. The “Shadows of Undrentide” expansion explores some crazed medusa trying to use old Netherese resources to do the unthinkable: Raise a ancient fallen Netheril city, Undrentide, buried for thousands of years of sand, to float again in the skies, complete with its side benefit as a flying fortress that could decimate cities and become an nigh-unstoppable ruler of the world of Faerun.

So when Syzn hears from the Harpers that they’ve heard of something called a “mythallar” involved in the Horns, Syzn took in the news with her usual tranquil, stoic expression.

Her player (me) said “Oh…shit!” quite out loud.

You see, mythallar, in Forgotten Realms lore,  is a terribly overpowered magical substance used for two things: Power and flight. Think of it as magical plutonium, with all the good and bad that implies.

The Netherese with any amount of mythallar is like giving more gamma rays to the Hulk, or metal to Magneto. Whatever the Netherese had in mind to attack Cormyr, I knew in my heart it involved or included the dreaded words of air bombardment or air invasion. I learned that much from my adventures in the wastes of the Aranoch desert and the ruins of that ancient city in another life.

ScreenShot01226

Three or four more of these mythallars and we could move Faerun out of ORBIT.

I removed the Netherese mage that had supervised the excavation. Unlike the NWN version, this mythallar was planetary in size, a blueish globe surely 1000 meters in diameter.

Now it was time to make my way to stay the Netherese for good. I expected a good fight; the Netherese are not pushovers.

What Goes Up: The Best Storyline and Music in DDO

Many, many thanks to Turbine for this quest. I felt like I was in a powerful fantasy drama and I was the star.

Still learning the quest, I entered in on Heroic Elite. I needed to remove many Netherese and Shadar-Kai forces with controls that blocked the upper entrance to the summit. With a Rogue hireling in tow in case things got weird, I routed any resistance. My Concentration score was more than high enough to disable any force fields that blocked my path.

The MUSIC! I think this is one of the games best scores. It pumped me up greatly as enemies came left and right.

I did read up a bit on this quest before I entered, about being careful not to fall off the glacier, whatever that meant. But nothing prepared me for what I saw as I made it atop the summit.

The top of the world, looking down on Creation.

The top of the world, looking down on Creation.

Damn, Turbine. That’s some fine artwork. I couldn’t go fighting for several seconds. I had to take it all in.

Combined with the majestic music, the grandeur of the view, the free sky and clouds about me generated more sensations of being the hero in the last, climactic scenes of the last movie of a long-awaited trilogy.

With that feeling came the realization that I should’ve been a bit more careful. And that everything that the devs could throw at me was going to show up to stop me from destroying the mythallar.

Giants and orcs and gnolls, oh my! Killing them wasn’t a problem. And then I stepped into a crevasse.

Dead. Thankfully, Turbine moves your s0ulstone next to a resurrection shrine most of the time.

I rebuffed as best I could with inventory items and remove more and more enemies, finally reaching the boss, standing atop the huge mythallar globe.

This seems familiar, I thought. Shades of Undrentide haunted me as I realized these guys were going to fly a frakking glacier over Cormyr, packed with troops and destroy Cormyr from the sky. The size of this thing suggested that they could fly to the kingdom itself and just colony drop the city out of existence with the entire glacier. Wow.

Szyn went to work, not realizing at first that killing the boss was secondary. He would summon large reinforcements when he lost even a small amount of health. What I missed in the Objectives list was: Destroy the flight pillars. I had to do something similar in NWN, destroying enough of the mythallar to sink the city once more. Here, I remove some mechanisms which would empower flight.

It was harrowing, although my thrower skills had the upper hand to remove the pillars while Improved Precise Shot allowed me to hit pursuers as well.

After losing my ship buffs and without some good resistances and greater familiarity with the glacier’s cracks and crevasses, death came calling often for me, falling once more, blasted by many ice elementals that ganged up, and getting turned to stone.

But the quest was too damned fun not to try again and again. By the fifth death, I reluctantly decided I’d like to have my gear intact and not permanently damaged, and I aborted the run.

I have never, ever had so much fun in failing a quest in any DDO adventure since, perhaps, “Frame Work.” The backstory I knew of the Netherese only made the experience that more real.

Turbine and Staff: Epic Win, +1 and gratz to you. Sorry I got to this one late. I have similar praise for you with the Haunted Halls, but that’s for another time.

And I’ll be back there. The Netherese are toast…even if I have to cross the streams to do it.

And I might have to reload Neverwinter Nights on some computer, somewhere.

The Viper meets the Spider

FaerunDrowPriestess

Spiders have been known to kill snakes. But the Drow aren’t expecting a Ninja.

Kiricletica just reached level 20 and is gearing up for Epic mode. She kept to her solo-only limits except for a couple of times where I joined some guildmates on quests I’d already completed alone, like “Jungles of Khyber.”

Some folks might say that Epic solo play is easier since your character gains some rather, well, epic gear. I think the only edge you get is from using the right Epic Destiny as well as strong numbers in your class’s “magic” stat.

After a little study, Kiri’s first pick is Shadowdancer. Improved stealth, some sneak attack, immunity to energy drain, permanent incorporeality, improved invisibility, bonuses to Dodge, a Dominate power–what’s not to like?

Sure, the epic set gear can really help. Kiri’s first priority this weekend was in assembling the Sun Soul set for better defenses and stats, finally retiring my venerable White Dragonscale Robe. That meant a long sojourn in the King’s Forest to find encounters to obtain any commendations to trade for the items.

“The Druid’s Deep” chain I completed earlier helped here since you can run that series and gain 3 commendations of your choice as a chain end-reward, if you’re desperate for more commendations in a relative hurry.

I’ve had a small taste of Underdark Drow from “The Druid’s Curse,” the end-quest of that chain, with a few Drow that appear in an optional cave. It stung a little but Kiri held her own.

But now, it’s finally time to see what Kiri can do against one of the game’s most challenging enemies: the Priestesses of Lolth.

Come Into My Lair, the Spider Says

Drow Priestesses are effectively Clerics with serious backup from their goddess, Lolth. Imagine having your god on speed-dial.

From Divine Punishment, Inflict Wounds, Cometfall, Hold Monster–the Priestess alone can hurt you fast and badly if left alone.

What’s worse about the Priestess is her special regenerative ability. Priestesses are rarely solitary with many lesser Drow at her beck and call. Should her health fall to a critical level and provided she is not Helpless, she’ll leech on the nearest humanoid and then go all Super Saiyan on you with her infamous 30-second Favored of the Goddess power-up: “Having performed a sacrifice to the Goddess, you have increased spell damage, greatly improved resistances to incoming damage, and an incredible boost to spell resistance.”

Typically, to kill a Priestess, you must kill her minions. Should she happen to have hostages or slaves, she’ll eat them, too, if they’re close by.

But I have not had the honor, the privilege of introducing those nasty spider-worshippers to the power of Ninja Poison at full strength as opposed to the slower- or no-dosing that the ninjas Szyncletica the star-thrower or the unarmed Ryncletica could do.

I didn’t know if the Priestess’s spider-style could shrug off all the damage-over-time stacks I can deliver from Kiri’s Viper Style (Freezing the Lifeblood to paralyze with three+ hits of Poisoned Soul Ninjutsu using Envenomed Blades to magnify damage) with her regenerative ability. So far, nothing I’ve killed has the capacity to remove poison from itself that I could note in the heat of battle. That’s likely a game mechanic as NPCs don’t seem to care about using Panacea or related remove-poison effects. And will her Favored of the Goddess status help against the unrelenting power of poisoning?

There was also the matter of trying to make the Priestess quite helpless so she cannot regenerate. A common solution for unarmed Monks is to stun Priestesses silly and load up the damage, stunning again before she can recover if possible.

Kiri had a better idea, using Freezing the Lifeblood to hold down the Priestess much longer than stuns or normal paralysis since it requires a Fortitude save to escape, not Will (which a Priestess, a high WIS enemy, should shake off). Provided Kiri’s not fighting a Red-Named Priestess, taking down the lesser varieties should work well.

But even for the Red-Named kind that cannot be paralyzed, like Priestess Vicala Szind in “Impossible Demands,” Kiri should be able to use Viper Style for 200+ dots and then switch to Poison Exploit for a quick rip of the poison sac before she might regenerate. At what point she regenerates is the question I can’t remember. At 25%, maybe?

And Kiri’s blades, as a Ninja Master, now are Vorpal weapons with greater critical hit and damage modifiers. She’s the first character that uses shortswords almost exclusively (save oozes and maybe a wisp or two), so higher damage is important.

Legendary Damage

While Shadowdancer will be Kiri’s first destiny, Legendary Dreadnought may be her second school, skipping over Grandmaster of Flowers until after LD is trained. Epic play will have epic fighting so Kiri’s stealth will only go so far before a CR30 trash mob will end her without a good counterattack. The defenses, weapon attacks and action boosts will be critical to Kiri’s survival as she grows.

Impossible Demands

After much adventuring in the King’s Forest, finding all the journals and slaying 750 enemies (plus a side quest or two in Eveningstar), I reached level 21, had my full Sun Soul attire, added a Drow Piawfi, pulled out a Drow Shortsword of the Weapon Master just to see what it could do. My WIS was 38 in Ocean Stance, not bad at all to ensure that a Freezing finisher works on EH.

A few close fights in the Forest made me realize that I shouldn’t stay in Ocean Stance all the time. I’d gotten used to it since passive ki regeneration works best from being in Sneak while in that stance. Earth Stance, however, offers maximum AC with Combat Expertise up (bringing her AC to 90 with 15 PRR) and Wind Stance offers 10% Doublestrike and 15% melee speed increase (going to 110% Doublestrike for 6 seconds using one ninja ability, Shadow Double). With the Vestments of the Sun Soul equipped, its Enhanced Ki now provided more than enough ki during any fight to not require continual use of Ocean Stance.

My leveling prior to the quest allowed me to test Viper Style against Orange-Named Drow Priestesses in the Underdark. One always appears en route to the path to the Sschindylryn portal via the King’s Forest entrance.

First rule of Priestess Fight Club: Kill/disable the slavemasters and mages first. I targeted them with Freezing strikes to keep their spells at bay, removed the slavemaster first to turn the slaves over to my side, and then targeted the Priestess with a Freezing attack that held her tight and unable to regenerate despite having many slaves to feed from. All slaves were saved and the priestess could never zap anyone.

I entered “Impossible Demands” on Epic Hard, one level above me.

Reading up on Vicala, I didn’t know she had permanent See Invisibility, not that it matters for the purposes of that quest since you never let yourself get in line-of-sight of her from any distance. On EN, it’s silly-easy to watch the priestess make her rounds since she appears on your map. I’ve done in on EH just fine without that aid.

I did bring in a Gold Seal Rogue to disable all the spell wards along the way but did not involve it in any fighting. Those of you in the know realize that the spell ward proximity make it very hard to navigate or fight, and I didn’t want to discover at that time if the wards affected the hostages in any way. My goal was not to be seen, eliminate all Drow (required or Vicala will regenerate on anyone left during the final fight) and save all the hostages. Since I wasn’t getting the help from the map with Epic Hard, this was a small concession to the difficulty.

Vicala makes a transit from top of inner stairs closest to the entrance to the basement and back in 2:30 seconds. (I time it.) My beat-down of Vicala at the quest’s start was promising; her only counter to my Ninja Poison was Divine Punishment, which hurt, but not nearly as badly as the damage she endured.

I had the hireling remove the four spell wards along the upper level, parked it in passive-mode at the entrance, then went to work with Freezing strikes at the mages first before removing the fighters. An optional fight with Warleader Speitar, a nasty Blademaster, took longer than I liked since I had to fight in a small area and had problems keeping his support team out of the picture. But he did fall after a lot of poisoning.

The hostages have to be released at the right time and place or Vicala or others will kill them on sight. Never a problem for me but you do have to pay attention.

In the end, all hostages were freed, all kidnappers vanquished, and the final fight of viper versus spider ended with Vicala simply unable to withstand 150+ point dots of Ninja Poison for very long.

Any search on Google on spiders versus snakes show the spider winning. Obviously, it cheats. So, fortune goes to the prepared–and the more poisonous.

The Unquiet Graves

Kiri’s Viper Style was challenged by the Dark Incantors, the arch-necromancers occupying the graveyard in “The Unquiet Graves.” Back in on Epic Hard, one level up from me. No trap-monkey hirelings (or any hirelings) used here.

My first challenge was ensuring I had Death Ward active at all times. The Incanters will zap you in a microsecond using all kinds of death spells, even on EN. I had two Visors of the Flesh Render Guards handy for 7 minutes each, with two 20-minute Death Ward potions on reserve. I could use the only rest shrine later to recharge the clickies with no concerns about ki drainage since I regenerate very well during a fight.

Incanter #1 was easy to slay with Viper Style leaving him 3/4 dead by the time he ran off to his reinforcements in the graveyard proper. I had to switch from my Envenomed Blades to disrupting kamas to help remove the zombies.

Incanter #2 fell to the same tactics as #1 but his spell attacks left me challenged to keep my HP up. Viper Style allows my poison to attack him (with enough doses) while I healed and regrouped. I decided to use the shrine after this fight to recharge the death ward clickies.

On Incanter #3, I nailed the two closest fighters with Freezing finishers and removed the one zombie that reinforced the Incanter’s damage protections. I pulled the fight away from the small graveyard or else the hidden Drow roaming there would also get involved in the fight.

I backtracked to the large graveyard and pulled the Incanter behind the large mausoleum and was somewhat lucky to attract only one necromancer and archer, rather than the whole swarm of his support. Kiri had a hard time getting her pattern going with all the minions chasing her.

That’s the Viper’s weakness: If Kiri has too much to fight, using Viper Style can’t work as I’m trying to survive more than I’m able to attack.

I concentrated a bit and remembered that the Incanter was my only target. I swiped at others for ki and kept aligning my Touch of Despair attacks at the last Incanter to lay on as much Ninja Poison as I could before being forced to retreat.

The last Incanter fell but looting the chest required a Flash Bang to blind everything long enough for me to sneak to the chest, loot and use a Word of Recall for a teleport-escape. Got a pair of Grave Wrappings for my trouble.