Kiri and Through a Mirror Darkly

My final stealth walkthrough within the murk of Wheloon Prison concludes with “Through a Mirror Darkly.”

More so than “Army of Shadow,” “Mirror” highly favors a stealth approach. I was able to retrieve most of the eight Orbs, needed to open the path to the boss, with no fighting. In fact, many enemies never knew I was there.

“Mirror” requires you to move through the Netherese headquarters using a mirror clickie that shunts you between the normal and Shadowfell dimensions. One advantage you gain in the use of the mirror is that, while it pulls you out of stealth, the mirror does not affect your Invisibility.

For a Ninja Spy with Shadow Veil (1 minute Invisibility and 25% Incorporeality) and high passive ki regeneration, this is ideal for moving into corner rooms, often filled with enemies, going invisible, using the mirror and sneaking to recover an orb and leaving a room without detection. You still need strong Hide and Move Silently skills to pull this off, otherwise, enemies close by may not see you but will certainly hear your footfalls, even in Sneak.

Moving about this way saved me once after materializing into a roomful of Howlers and their tender, bailing out before I became dog chow.

The boss fight works almost the same as “Army of Shadow,” in that the boss now moves between dimensions and sends minions at you as he leaves.

I changed the fight conditions by delivering heavy doses of Ninja Poison to DoT him while in the normal dimension. But when he switches to the other realm, I never follow him and let the Ninja Poison take points off of him. His Shadar-Kai minions on the Shadowfell side are more formidable than the normal humans I use to rebuild ki and charge up to poison the boss again once he returns.

The video is captioned as the others; click the CC if you don’t see them.

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Kiri and Wheloon Prison, Part 4

Wuss.

Wuss.

Continuing our stealth walkthrough of the Wheloon Prison quests, “Army of Shadow” works similarly to “The Thrill of the Hunt.” Thankfully, no hordes of Howlers.

You have but one job: Kill the Shade General there, organizing the Netherese recruiting effort.

On entering, the NPCs are neutral, giving you plenty of time to note the reinforcements that will turn on you en masse after you tell the recruiter to suck ducks.

Kiricletica chose a third option, and it might be something only a Monk can do. After starting the NPC dialogue and returning to Sneak,  I complete the dialogue and use Abundant Step to dive out of range of the enemies. They stand there without an immediate target, allowing you to begin your infiltration plan.

You have a couple of tasks to open the way forward and up the Shade’s Tower where the boss awaits.

First, crash the amorous Netherese “auditions” being conducted by Darobad the bard-stud. Killing him allows you to open the tower key. The second task is to pull the gate lever, lowering a bridge to the tower. Rantha is an optional guard you can kill to gain a chest.

There are several optionals throughout, but I skip them to sneak up the tower. Shadows are generally my only foes as I make my way up.

General Marthir is a wuss. As I do with most other red-named bosses, I use generous amounts of Ninja Poison to DoT him to death. I poisoned him so thoroughly that he died a few seconds after going inactive to let me whack at his pet Nightcrawler.

As before, captions are included; simply click the CC button if they don’t show.

Kiri and Wheloon Prison, Part 3

Howlers look as horrible as they are dangerous, especially in groups.

Howlers look as horrible as they are dangerous, especially in groups.

This third installment in using stealth in the Wheloon Prison series makes many a player cry. It’s “The Thrill of the Hunt.

One word: Howlers. This otherworldly dog-like creatures gang up on you, stick you with stacking howler quills that damage your HP, and create a strange yelp that causes a stacking debuff against your WIS–a particular danger to Monks and other WIS-based classes. Characters with a normally low WIS could quickly find themselves left Helpless and unable to defend themselves.

This time, unlike the first and second quests, Kiricletica goes in alone; no hirelings. Her only central objectives are to get a key to access the boss, and then kill him. A prime quest for a Ninja Spy or a resourceful Rogue Assassin.

Getting to this quest is the second worst challenge for many players in exploring the backstabbing denizens in the town-turned-prison. When you enter the zone, the quest entrance is actually immediately to your right, but it’s behind a gate that can only be opened from the other side. If you are part of a party and have one or more people who can sneak there to reduce fighting time and resources, let them make their way around to open the gate for those less-adventurous in your party. Often there are red-named beholders, night hags or even an encounter boss near the entrance. I’d advise you to just get inside the quest.

Sneaking works for infiltration through most of the quest, but there are Shadows that sense your presence. While you’re in Sneak, you may see the “Eye” appear over you, indicating you are in line-of-sight of something. The problem is that the Shadows, typed as undead creatures, are invisible until you make yourself known. Be mindful in many places where swarms of Shadows will jump you.

The quest begins with a Shadar-Kai and Netherese mage bickering over how their Shadar-Kai leader (Karleth) is totally bat-guano crazy, even for a Netherese agent. Once you move past them, you find yourself in a narrow hallway with four rooms, all doors closed. Ahead is a locked door going deeper. A stealth master can easily enter each room and rummage through a table in each room for a key to use, leaving any Shadar-Kai inside each room unawares. A Rogue Assassin should be able to simply pick the door lock. If not, that Jeweled Key is required.

You’ll find the sadistic Karleth mewing with faux lamenting on how he regrets using his howlers to gnaw his Cormyr magistrate prisoners to bits. The first to stop is a single howler, Kryll (above). Howlers are best killed with ranged attacks but with care you can just hack them up before their quills or WIS debuff becomes a serious problem against a single dog. You’ll gain a chest and some XP by saving the first magistrate.

Moving on, there are Shadar-Kai patrolling through the halls, often in stealth, along with some Shadows. They’re often too bunched up to distract away, but you should be able to take them out provided you change up your attack if one or more pull out their spinning chain attack, which damages and debuffs.

A second larger room has Karleth changing his terror target to you, but this time there are more howlers. This time, their combined WIS debuff is highly dangerous to low-WIS characters, and not a walk in the park for higher-WIS characters. Howlers have no particular immunities, so blinding them, using Solid Fog, or other control techniques may help a larger party. In Kiri’s case, she sliced and diced, using a Ninjutsu skill to mass negative-level the mob.

A few places offer a chance to use a Flaming Sphere to lure enemies away from tight spots to move forward without fighting. But if you reveal yourself at nearly any location, Shadows will take advantage. By the time you reach the second and last shrine, there are several rooms you can search to find Kuttar or Yzthmeth , red-named Shadar-Kai that drop a gold key when dead. You’ll only find one or the other, and the rooms either might inhabit are random.

With the gold key, it’s the boss fight. As you enter, a stealth master should go into Sneak immediately without moving and invisible if possible. Approach Karleth, start the NPC dialogue but return to Sneak as you click-through the selections. When Karleth goes hostile, head to the back of the hapless prisoner’s cage in Sneak, to keep the howlers from being lured to you, and fight Karleth there. Kiri can’t save the prisoner (this requires a Rogue or Artificer) and wouldn’t try if she could: The howlers will be overwhelming even for a full party.

When Karleth dies, the quest is complete. Your end chest spawns right by the howler cages. Kiri uses a trick to loot the chest and escape out the door you entered to fight the boss.

Kiri gets to use more ninja and stealth tricks as she’s tasked to kill another Netherese leader in “Army of Shadow,’ next time.

Captions are included; click the CC button on the YouTube toolbar if you don’t see them.

 

Kiri and Wheloon Prison, Part 2

In this second installment, Kiricletica enters “A Lesson in Deception,” the second of the five-quest Wheloon Prison series.

Like the first, “Friends in Low Places,” this quest requires some fighting to proceed. But that doesn’t mean your characters have to fight on the enemy’s terms. Here, I’m able to use stealth with more tactical effect.

You start with greeting several NPCs whose sole purpose is to get captured so you can save them from a snarky Netherese mage. Then again, have we yet met a non-snarky Netherese mage?

After the building collapses near the entrance, a mob chases you down. Using stealth, you can maneuver away and use a single footstep to lure and dispatch enemies one at a time.

In the alleys are several squads you must dispatch to open a couple of gates that lead you to the sewers. I sneak behind some camping enemies and, without moving, kill each one of them as they stare away or sit. They simply won’t move or react to your presence unless you cause a glancing blow, make a footfall, or get in their line-of-sight.

In the sewers, I use a combination of quick movement and ninja invisibility to use the two levers that clear the way out of the sewer–without having to fight the many guards that suddenly appear at each one. You know how the Batman seems to vanish when you glance away for just a second? I managed to do that. Twice.

Once out of the sewers, no kills are required except at the last gate. Your only shrine is behind a guarded door. As with all alternate paths that could save another poor innocent, using this shrine puts you at risk at losing an ally–and the extra chest you get for saving all your allies.

I use a hireling, parked entirely through the quest until the end-fight, to create a hate-magnet to allow me to kill off the orange-named mage, kick away the ladders that bring reinforcements, and then finish off the red-named boss.

Captions are included–be sure to click the CC button to read them.

The last three quests will not require a hireling. Next installment: “The Thrill of the Hunt.”

Kiri and the Wheloon Prison, Part 1

ninjaWork is murderously long and my game time is proportionally less, among other personal challenges with the family. I wish I could go back to my halcyon days of youth when I posted more frequently.

Still, posting something once every two weeks at the latest is better than nothing at all. And, I’ve been saving up.

Update 28 and the Night Revels event brought a few but intriguing new items for players to enjoy. In the next posts, I’m going to show you how one new item makes a difference in stealth gaming. It’s the Long Broom of Mystery.

Teacher Saekee is familiar with it as he’s the progenitor of “The Flaming Sphere scroll Fan Club” on the DDO forums. He learned that Flaming Sphere is an incredible hate-magnet that lures enemies from a wide distance and gathers them around it. It’s a great tool to move mobs away from switches or tight passageways. Like Charm or Sap, however, any aggression to anything near the Sphere and enemies will ignore the Sphere and attack you. Now any non-arcane or low-UMD character can make a distraction. The twist is that you still need good Hide/Move Silently skills to walk past the curious enemies.

I wanted as well to enjoy the soloing adventures of Kiricletica, still in her second life at level 17. She takes on the entire Wheloon Prison chain on Heroic Hard difficulty as a demonstration, starting with “Friends in Low Places.”

Now “Friends” isn’t a stealth-dominant quest. You must fight through this to clear out enemies that attack the camps. I decided to add Isadora the Cleric, as her Blade Barrier will add some crowd control that lures enemies to her while inflicting damage where I can mop up, especially at the nasty end-fight where a red-named enemy keeps a series of respawning mobs coming until she dies. I generally don’t use hirelings with Kiricletica, respecting my own self-imposed solo parameters. But the end-fight of “Friends” is relentless, exceeding Kiri’s Single Weapon Fighting. She’s very good in escaping a horde as large as that, perhaps even luring the red-named away to fight her alone. But for brevity in the video, I opted to use a hireling. I’m hireling-less in the latter 3 videos.

Each of the videos highlights the central objectives. I tended to avoid the optionals for brevity.

Captions are included. Be sure to click the “CC” button on the toolbar to see them.

Here’s part 1. Next time: “A Lesson in Deception.”

Invaders! A Video Walkthrough

Current Score: Ninja 3, Beholders: 0.

Current Score: Ninja 3, Beholders: 0.

Sorry for the 2-week+ timing between posts. Per my guild rules, real life comes first. Work, as well as a family illness, has made the past weeks pretty tough to post anything of significance.

I’m surprised I’ve not made a video walkthrough of one of the most challenging Heroic quests in the game. That’s probably because it’s a bat-shit crazy idea for any class to complete, much less complete by going solo.

But if they were any character that could make it work in my dojo, it’s Kiricletica, built to solo from the start.

Invaders!” is a revisit to the central Waterworks sewer system (minus the hidden doors, rare encounters and usual denizens). A Xoriat invasion occurs there, cutting off paths through the sewers, scaring the crap out of the kobolds and, most distressingly, causing many, many beholders to appear.

Flesh Renders and Polar-Ray zapping Ice Flensers routinely spawn from portals throughout the place. Beholders aren’t isolated, often guarded by Xoriat followers, Cyclonic-blasting Thaarak Hounds and more beholders.

Your mission is to clean out the place of everything that shouldn’t be there, of course, primarily the beholders.

Challenges

  1. This is a place where a grouped party may not be the best idea. A beholder’s antimagic cone will likely render some in your party defenseless and debuffed before it starts zapping with various things. Enervation. Disintegrate. Telekinesis. It will try to paralyze, curse, burn and instantly kill you. A group will draw a lot of attention, so as a result, the beholder’s effects may not allow you to back each other up as you’re disabled and picked off.
  2. Death Ward is mostly useless here because the first thing a beholder will do is use its antimagic cone to zap you of any buffs (outside of Monk, Bard and airship buffs, which can’t be dispelled). You MUST wear a Deathblock item to have some protection against Finger of Death and a few other instant-kill spells. Deathblock isn’t a panacea but it will buy you time. Pale Masters might find it a bit easier.
  3. If the beholders aren’t scary enough, the respawning Ice Flensers love Polar Ray, which can hit at 100-200+ damage. There’s also the hordes of Thaarak Hounds that enjoy mass hits of Cyclonic Blast at 70+ points each, as well as some instant-death and acid attacks.
  4. Most parties will trod along drawing attention from anything that moves, often near respawn points. Invisibility spells are useless against beholders and many other enemies here as they have True Seeing or See Invisibility. Antimagic effects will debuff them off of you, anyway.
  5. To increase the randomness, there are many Chaos Orbs circulating about, sometimes bringing you benefit or bane at exactly the wrong time.
  6. There is only one rest and resurrection shrine.
  7. Party members with low saves, little or no spell protection or Deathblock will not last long. Especially vulnerable are party members with a HULK SMASH zerging mentality. They may get lucky and nail a few threatening things, but eventually they’ll be in the wrong place and be zapped themselves or attract more attention that a party can handle.
  8. You have to pass a lot of enemies, including several beholders, to reach each of the elder beholders that hold open a locus used for invasion.
  9. Enemies do not easily “rubberband” here (return to their spawn point if kited too far). If you’re being chased, expect the chase to buy you time, not escape.

Suggestions

  1. It’s not impossible for magic party members to fight here against beholders, but it’s central that another party member draw the beholder’s attention first, preferably far away from the spell caster so they won’t get hit by an antimagic cone. From there, spell casters can treat beholders to a taste of their own medicine with instant-death spells, Flesh-to-Stone or related attacks.
  2. Ranged attacks against beholders here can be both hit and miss, so to speak. If your ranged attack can draw one beholder away from a group of them, you reduce the amount of potential damage or deaths in your party. If your ranged attacks throw off area-of-effect damage, you’ll draw all the enemies in that group to you.
  3. Attacks that stun or paralyze help a lot. For all their magic damage, beholders have the fortitude of a balloon. If you get the jump on them, removing them is comparably easy.
  4. This quest supports the power of high stealth, if you use it properly. (Invisibility will not work.)  Sewer passageways are narrow. Ice Flensers use Hide. You need a strong Spot to detect them, or at least avoid colliding into them. Some enemies may detect you while Sneaking, such as Thaarak Hounds, so you may need to draw them away to avoid fighting more than need to at any moment. Beholders have 360-degree Spot, but with a high Hide score, you can move to point-blank range and pop them. However, Thaarak Hounds have blindsense, which stealth can’t defeat. Their Cyclonic Blasts in a group of hounds can whittle your HP immediately and/or knock you down. Dispatch them promptly.
  5. Spell absorption items will buy you time. I carried a Scarab of Spell Absorption but didn’t use it as wisely as I should.
  6. Champions that appear really throw the dungeon’s power against you. Prioritize their demise over all others.
  7. The final fight is your only named creature, which can be one of several encounters. It’ll likely have a final entourage of similar enemies guarding it. Before you can fight it, you must remove all the elder beholders.
  8. The optional killing of outsiders objective is almost inevitable to complete. Portals throughout continually spawn enemies you can kill.

Sewer Cleaning from Hell

Kiricletica was loaded with Heal and Restoration scrolls. Alone, she leveraged high passive ki regeneration and used Quivering Palm to rid herself quickly of some targets. Sometimes with a Tiefling Assassin’s Blade in hand, she used its Wounding powers to make sure that Pain Touch finishers stick against beholders, muting them and making them harmless for a quick finish. Most fights, however, used a Metalline of Pure Good shortsword or a Forester’s Brush Hook. I used Pain Touch and Quivering Palm as much as possible.

Fast ki regeneration helps in frequent use of Shadow Veil for both Incorporeality and Invisibility for times where fighting or evasive action is better.

The hardest part for me involves the respawning renders, especially the deadly Polar Rays from the Flensers. Hounds are also challenging since they can sense me no matter what. They loved to spam Cyclonic Blast. In a group of three or move, those attacks would all but kill me.

I entered two levels higher than the quest. Still, I tried and failed this quest three times early, often downed by hounds, before managing a completion on Elite…and even then, I had to use a raise-dead cake when I moved into a fight before failing to preparing even once, just before the end-fight.

But I did get it done. See the results.

Be sure to click the “CC” button to see the captions. My apologies for the dimness; I’ve already adjusted it to improve it slightly and will do so again later.

Hark, The Herald Angels Fight

I'm captivated by the erinyes, red-winged and powerful. Why am I attracted to bad girls? You'd think one divorce would fix me of that.

I’m captivated by the erinyes, red-winged and powerful. Why am I attracted to bad girls? You’d think one divorce would fix me of that.

Real-life and work have definitely curbed my blogging efforts of late, leaving me little precious time to complete the substantial updates in The Book of Syncletica with builds and what-not, as well as general help here and there in the player-base. A crisis caused me to miss a scheduled appearance as podcast guest on DDOCast last week, which vexed me greatly. I can’t provide enough apologies to Shamgar and anyone who tuned in.

So I’m trying to make up for lost time and posts by going straight to a brief talk on the new release of Update 27: “Trials of the Archons.”

For past update, the most we’d seen of the Good-aligned celestial forces in the battlefields of Shavarath are skeletal remains of fallen archons on the battlefields and one living archon we are able to free and speak with briefly in “Wrath of the Flame.” Atop the floating fortress of Amrath, we can see one of the celestial cities floating far off. And that was it, until now.

Something (perhaps our collective ass-kicking adventurer lifestyle) has compelled the archons to call on the adventurers to assist them. But the trust of the archons is not given easily.

“Trials of the Archons” is broken down to three quests and one raid. The first, “The Archon’s Trial,” sends you through an increasingly difficult set of challenges. The archons initially say that they had a nice battery of canned tests but, since a force of devils and demons have decided to invade that day, why, say you adventurers go off and clean them up for us?

The archons are angelic beings, all appearing to be stunning, flying statuesque humanoid females, always flying and hovering. This holy appearance, however, doesn’t seem to preclude them from applying a certain kinder, gentler type of dickery. It’s understandable from their point of view as the archons have seen how the mortals are easily tricked (see “Wrath of the Flame”) or are corrupted from within (“The Lords of Dust”). Given that their war against the devils and demons (with the devils and demons in-fighting in a perpetual civil war to boot, as noted in “Bastion of Power”) is filled with endless strategy and counter-attack, the archons’ thoughts about who to trust border on insular considerations only.

Thankfully, through the three quests you can complete, you show that you can hold your own in a fight. “The Archon’s Trial” eventually pits you against archons in a duel, and they are hardly pushovers. Since they are Good-aligned (like the Eladrin in the Vale of Twilight) your Holy weapon has no effect, forcing you to change your game.

Quest #2 is “Demon Assault.” If the name rings a bell, it’s because you’re getting a sequel of sorts from the Marketplace quest, “Devil Assault.” Rather than being locked in a small room in arena-style combat, you’re placed in ruins and must navigate through them, slay wave after wave of demons that pour through portal gateways. It’s a trial. You have an optional rescue before your party gets the beatdown of your life from a boss fight.

The last quest, “The Devil’s Details,” requires your party to find out what the great pit fiend Arraetrikos is planning in a new offensive to win the endless war. You’re introduced to the erinyes: The dark, corrupted version of the archon, with red wings and a very nasty attitude.

Complete these three quests and you’re flagged for a new raid: “Defiler of the Just.” I have no more information on this one since it was just released except that it’s got a few serious bugs that may make it unplayable right now.

“Trials of the Archons” has both level 13 and level 30 quest modes to satisfy your tastes. The loot is absolutely incredible. While completing the first quest, I received an Epic quarterstaff that basically will kill anything unholy with great ease.

I first tried quest #1 with the ever-prepared Kiricletica, master of soloing. As I learned later with a party, completing this one took time and, likely, I would have failed my final fight one-on-one against a group of archons. Ninja prowess can only go so far, even with dark finishing moves and deceptive effects. I aborted my Heroic run to join guildmates for an Epic Hard attempt with Szyncletica the star-thrower.

Being what she is, Szyn was able to help beat back the hordes with spamming shuriken. In “The Archon’s Trial” there is a puzzle situation where you should be wary without a lot of electrical resistance and absorption.

In conclusion, these new quests, at least, are a refreshing new addition after the welcome but highly time-intensive “Haunted Halls of Eveningstar” and “Thunderholme” content.

I tried to keep this review spoiler-free, so keep your comments that way, too and let me know how you’ve enjoyed this new stuff.

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