“Who Will Kite the Judge?”

I’ve been busy in preparing my Strength-based light Monk, Lynncletica, to take over the reins as my level 20 melee fighter with Syncletica’s TR scheduled for Easter (an appropriate time than any, don’t you think?). Lynn received her Void Strike IV and capped in the last week, a fully capable Grandmaster of Mountains, but not tested in any Epic as yet.

Lynn was still short two of her flagging quests for the Tower of Despair. Fellow guildies that I would love to invite were scarce that day (blame NCAA March Madness, I think) so, desperate to Get ‘Er Done, I studied the two quests left to do: “Bastion of Power” and “A New Invasion.” I brought in Heystack the Cleric hireling for emergencies and parked him in passive mode at the start of “Invasion” and got to work, carefully at first.

I’ve generated quite an affinity for Syncletica, my main toon, a Dexterity-based light Monk and a Grandmaster of Wind. She’s now well-geared and very dangerous, so I’m hardly hesitant in sending her solo through all but a very few non-Epic places in the game . But Lynncletica has a history of venturing where archons fear to tread, and taking more damage to boot. But, now a Grandmaster with her capstone of DR 10/Epic, enought had changed in Lynn’s durability to put her Grandmaster training to a full test–but not insanely. I entered both quests on Casual just to get them flagged.

Alone in the Bowels of Amrath

In both quests, Lynn alternated between Fire Stance to generate ki and held in Mountain Stance for damage and defense. The swarms of orthons, devils and tieflings were quite manageable; only the air elementals posed a challenge if they joined up with mobs. They’d either push Lynn away or, worse, knock her down. Fortunately, elementals are Outsiders, so, once I noted their fight pattern, a quick Tomb of Jade strike froze the blowhards solid, whereby I pummeled the things into nothingness.

Came the time for the end-fight. As vets of this quest know, you fall into a circular room. Everything is trapped, specifically a series of platforms that surround the deadly interior. In addition to a small mob of devils is Barnzidu, one really honked-off pit fiend. Your challenge in killing him involves the healing curses that the fiend throws in combination with the platforms that release a deadly explosion if anything (players, hirelings, soulstones) stand on the platform longer than a few seconds.

But Lynn was durable enough (thanks to playing Casual). Her Evasion, combined with her ability to remove her own curses, made the fight generally easy. It’s like what Dory said, in a fashion. “Just keep running…just keep running…”

The “Bastion” run was more challenging because of the recurring spawns and the confusing layout. By the time I found myself to the end-boss, my ship buffs were completely gone. Taking out the fiend there wasn’t too hard (sadly, I couldn’t use his reverse gravity to get the switches to the third chest). The maralith arrived and I began to pummel it, focusing too hard on its hit points and not on my own. Ding.

Luckily, the maralith had only a handful of hit points, and I had a Spirit Cake from the 6th DDO Birthday. Exactly two punches later, it was over. Sadly, no special loot from either of these quests, but at least Lynn was flagged for Tower of Despair.

The Little Mountain Must Stand

A day or so later, I found a PuG for Tower that was filling fast. The leader was nice and cordial but often his verbal requests were often ignored; maybe only he, myself and one other cared to use voice chat. One good sport teleported me to the ToD entrance (thanks!) else you have to run there (a NPC at the entrance will allow you direct teleport to the entrance in the future once you speak to him).

The party leader asks for someone to kite the Judge, a massive orthon, in part 1 of our fight. No one responds. He asks a second time before I do the unthinkable. I normally do not see Monks as decent kiters as they do not generate enough aggro to keep the monster focused on them. Kiting also has its risks in getting the full wrath and damage when fighting a boss alone.

“I’ll kite the Judge,” I say, with no small amount of trepidation. This time, I wouldn’t be running on Casual. It was a raid, on Normal. It was Lynn’s most definitive build test to date: Would she be able to keep the Judge busy and live?

The party falls inside the lair. Death at this stage is similar to Part 4 of The Shroud. Should you die here, the Jailer will teleport you and your soulstone into a jail where resurrection is impossible until after both he and the Judge are dead. If too many people die here, the raid will wipe. The area is filled with undisarmable traps amidst narrow platforms, all surrounded by Shararath lava (far more damaging per second than regular lava). A few fire elementals and hellhounds stir up the works as well.

The bulk of the party charges the Jailer. I kick into Fire stance, make a beeline to the Judge and strike him a few times to build up ki before changing to Mountain Stance. In this Ultimate stance, I generate 70% more threat but also gain more damage resistance.

It worked. The orthon becomes very ticked at me and doggedly chased my butt all over the area, ignoring everyone else.

Both Jailer and Judge also perform a maneuver that flings the party away en masse, where you have to re-engage and pray you aren’t tossed into a trap or lava. Monks don’t fly but we glide very, very well, so I am able to re-engage the Judge quickly. One Cleric was kind and wise enough to stick close to me and throw me a few heals when my own Healing Ki was insufficient to the damage received.

Lynn was tenacious and as durable as I hoped her build would be. She pounded the orthon mercilessly, taking relatively little damage when confronting the Judge head-on (his pea-shooter is nasty if he targets you from a distance). Even with criticals, Lynn wasn’t going to lower the orthon’s hit points; they were far too numerous for her to make a sizable dent against him.

But Mountain Stance IV training (combined with Epic DR) had paid off. Lynncletica stood as solidly as a little mountain, holding the orthon’s attention long enough for the Jailer to meet his end before the party turned to end the Judge together.

In hindsight, I should’ve switched to my Vampiric Stonedust Wraps for extra healing and possible stoneskins on myself for more protection, but it all worked well enough.

The remaining raid went off without a hitch. For loot, Lynncletica received the best item she could get that wasn’t a ring: Oremi’s Necklace. Now she needn’t switch to Fire Stance for ki as often.

So now, Lynncletica needs to continue beefing up her WIS and DEX for a bit more AC (Syncletica holds at 51 unbuffed). Her next target: the Icy Raiment. She’s been running solo attempts at Garamol for those, but perhaps I’ll get a few guildies’ attention to help.

Looks like Lynn will be a fine successor to Syn as time passes.