A Final Review of My Builds

So, all three of the builds I created are sufficiently leveled and geared. I can now update the Monk guide with guidelines on what to expect as you start and level them.

Thanks so much for your suggestions, criticisms and patience as I’ve played through each one. I hope you will find them (or variants you design from them) useful and fun.

I don’t think I’ve made a post where I’ve spoken of them all in-depth. To avoid cluttering up the guide with such subjective drivel, I’ll post it here.

The Zen Archer

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Purpose: High miss-chance, high Ranged Power Elven defensive sniper. 20 Monk (Harper Agent/Ninja Spy)

Best environments:

  • Attacking enemies using missiles or magic, as they have a very hard time making a successful hit against the build due to its high Concealment, Incorporeality, Dodge, Improved Evasion, PRR, AC and Spell Resistance
  • Quests where stealth can be used to allow sniping from a distance. Enemies often never reach this build before she kills them with Deception, Epic Destiny abilities, and Tendon Slice effects.

Worst environment:

  • Legendary raids, where the enemy CR is sufficient to bypass most of the build’s layered defenses
  • Raids with mostly Red-named enemies (such as “Defiler of the Just”), where the build’s DPS and single-target enemy controls to slow or stop enemies is neutralized

Strengths and Weaknesses:

  • High sustained ranged DPS, second only to Zen Bowmaster, thanks to higher Ranged Power from Harper Agent
  • Fast takedown with higher innate Ranged Power and Deception effects that add Sneak Attack damage
  • Useful 33% standing Doubleshot with EDs and gear
  • Strongest stealth skills, but slower movement speed in stealth
  • Miss-chance effects, spell resistance and PRR allow sustained DPS even when attacked by several enemies at once
  • Using Harper Agent and Elf Dragonmark enhancements, can gain 6-minute Displacement
  • Can use Ten Thousand Stars and Manyshot, works well with “Furyshot.”
  • High Diplomacy, useful in several instances
  • Damage dependent on DEX, bow quality and arrows
  • Has best fortification-bypass options; can land 100+ hits against Legendary Shroud planar gateways with 55% fortification bypass thanks to Epic Destiny abilities and Thunder-Forged longbow
  • Easy build to train other EDs, once Pin and Otto’s Whistler are available in Twist of Fate slots
  • Uses Precise Shot only to build up damage bonuses and limit Threat generation
  • As a stationary fighter, generates the best sustained damage against toughest enemies

The Zen Archer was discussed on the forums, and you can find more build information in the Monk guide.

The Zen Bowmaster

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Purpose: High-DPS offensive ranged attacker. 20 Monk (Arcane Archer)

Best environment: Enemies with low Will saves.

Worst environment:

  • Quests or raids against some special Red-named enemies or enemies with higher Will saves (enemy Clerics, Paladin/Blackguards, shamans) that resist attack DCs
  • Quest or raids where the build generates too much aggro; the build has the lowest overall defenses

Strengths and Weaknesses:

  • Very high DPS. Bow damage combines with Ranged Power and arrow imbues augmented by spell power from the AA tree.
  • Uses both Ten Thousand Stars and Manyshot for highest burst Doubleshot while in Divine Crusader ED – up to 240%
  • Highest standing Doubleshot on first life (75% with feats, ED, AA and gear)
  • Versatile attack options from the AA tree (blunt/piercing/slash/Doubleshot) and elemental, force, paralyzing, banishing and smiting effects
  • AA imbues are based on WIS modifier. As a Monk, build can greatly boost WIS to use as to-hit modifier (Zen Archery feat), generating extra AC, and creating DCs for arrow effects that operate even in Legendary Elite raids, especially paralyzing
  • Fair fortification bypass
  • Useful, but not superior miss-chance effects
  • Sustained damage lower than Zen Archer but imbued spell power attacks compensate often for increased damage per attack for some enemies over Zen Archer
  • Not as weapon-dependent as Zen Archer unless enemy resists AA attacks due to higher fortification
  • Uses Improved Precise Shot, which often causes great Threat generation

You’ll find the fundamental build information in the Monk guide.

The Poison Master Ninja

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Purpose: High-DPS offensive melee Drow. 20 Monk (Ninja Spy)

Best environment: Enemies with low Fortitude saves.

Worst environment:

  • Quests or raids where enemies can resist special attacks that cause Helplessness, Nausea, or Blindness
  • Quest or raids where enemies are immune from Negative Energy or Poison

DPS and Weaknesses:

  • Medium High to Very High DPS, depending on whether Helplessness can be used
  • Second-best stealth skills (second to Zen Archer), fastest movement speed while Sneaking
  • Best instant-kill power against isolated enemies, using finishing moves or Quivering Palm attack
  • Ninja Spy training augments stealth, defense, movement speed, Dexterity to-hit and to-Damage with shortswords and shuriken, Sneak Attack damage and Ninja Poison, a powerful DoT effect that cannot be resisted except by Poison-immune enemies
  • Drow racial feats and enhancements add Shuriken and Shortsword prowess as well as additional Poison damage
  • Optional Epic Destiny Feat choices can add greater Doublestrike, Doubleshot and bonuses to Dodge and Dodge cap (to 34%)
  • Some Ninja Spy Monk finishing moves cause Helplessness, allowing No Mercy enhancement (and, in Epic, stacking with Fury of the Wild’s Sense Weakness) to generate 30 to 60% additional damage on Helpless enemies
  • As a melee fighter without a shield, defenses are limited to WIS (AC bonus), Combat Expertise, high miss-chance effects, and movement speed

Detailed information can be found in the Monk guide.

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Theatricality and Deception, Part 3: Iron Ninja

Her small elven form, the tips of her pointed ears barely visible through her order’s traditional black mask, quietly, swiftly dropped through a hole above the holding cell of several slaves-to-be, a mix of human, elven and even Drow.

She ignored the stench within the hole; apparently it was a dumping hole for a latrine once. Apparently, dumping fecal waste falling from above into a slave’s cell was a mere matter of efficiency for the Drow who commanded here.

But these were not the Drow of Ryncletica’s kind. They were an otherworldly sort. Rather than meeting the challenges of Vulkoor, these Drow worshipped Lolth, the Spider Queen goddess.

Ordinarily, Ryncletica would respect Drow as Drow: Let the best man win, as Vulkoor would demand. But these were Drow of a different bent. They wanted domination. They ignored Vulkoor. And they chose to enslave even their own kind.

Ryncletica’s vows of law and order, combined with her personal distaste of spiders and the fact that one overgrown spider goddess was threatening to rip her home world into rocks for the Demonweb, gave her renewed assurance that these things that call themselves Drow were not worthy.

In the cell, the slaves inside gave little reaction to her falling from above, save to move away, closer to the rocks and bars of the cell’s interior. Ryncletica’s eyes were only visible to them, but she could see a few of them relax slightly as she lifted a single index finger to her covered mouth as a caution to stay quiet. The two Drow slaves in the cell narrowed their eyes in examination. She knew what they were thinking. Familiar form, yet not the same.

She pulled out her shortswords and slammed them into the cell door, letting her weapon’s many enchantments easily destroy the simple wards that kept the door magically sealed to hold the captives inside.

The hushed but tangible sounds of rushed footfalls came from ahead. “The door is open! Search for the slave that did this!” one of the Drow guards said. The others of the party scattered, searching the darkness and dank with their enhanced night-vision for the intruder, confident that they would find their prey.

From above, something disguised as just another stalactite fell towards a lone guard, green, icy Ninja Poison dropping from her outstretched swords…


 

Ryncletica may be level 30 but her power continues to grow amazingly well. So much so that she’s doing something only Szyncletica the star-thrower has done often: Soloing Epic Elite adventures.

That news might be a “meh” moment to a few of you that eat Epic Elite quests as snacks. But consider that I don’t use multiclassed characters. I’m using everything a single class offers, while synergizing Epic Destinies, feats, skills and gear as anyone else would do. Ryncletica has reached a personal pinnacle where the use of theatrical and deceptive tools as well as some of the better gear and training now raise her to a level none of my melee Monks have achieved.

For me, in the past, Epic Elite meant a very bloody fight, even with a full party. But now I know that the first and foremost requirement in entering EE is fortification beyond 150 and at least 500 HP. At 200+ fortification and 800ish HP,  I can withstand several 100 point critical hits without worry and need to pay attention only to Red Named and champions, who break those rules and most of my defenses.

The key to Ryncletica’s challenge (and successes, so far) is using the basics inherent in the class. Stealth. Quick strikes. Doublestrike. Techniques to disable and slay.

That is, most of her Heroic enhancements remain her fundamentals of attack, defense, and especially escape. Epic feats, destinies only improve the enhancement’s effectiveness.

Technique remains the prime skill. I don’t engage everything at once. I pick off the weakest and leave me plenty of time to pummel the toughest without any enemy reinforcements helping out. I’ll scatter the enemies, cause them to search for me. And when the moment is right. I strike.

So let’s break down the Epic Poison Master.

Offenses

Ryncletica is primarily a two-weapon melee fighter with the complete Two-Weapon Fighting line and the Epic Destiny feats Blinding Speed for permanent Haste and Perfect Two-Weapon Fighting for more doublestrike. She’s got 32% Doublestrike with current options. Every ki weapon she wields is a Vorpal weapon courtesy of Ninja Spy training.

Being Drow, like Szyncletica the Shuricannon, Ryn holds a powerful alternative to melee fighting when it is unsafe to engage an enemy at close range. As a melee fighter, her weaponry slices and dices rapidly, with large levels of ki generated by that. But she is also quite capable of taking out anything using her shuriken almost as rapidly as her swords, missing only some of the ranged/thrown feats to optimize that skill.

Ninja Poison is the central damage dealer. No matter what the weapon, Ninja Poison is delivered to any enemy except Poison-immunes (most demons, devils, constructs and undead). This damage-over-time effect accelerates her killing power, debuffs any Poison resistance by 100% and lasts longer than other DoTs.

Secondary damage comes from Sneak Attacks and any destiny training effects, which comes frequently as I bluff them with the Unyielding Strike attack. Unloading Ninja Poison via the Touch of Despair finisher also debuffs an enemy against the quintessential negative-energy attack, the Touch of Death.

As for weaponry, I’ve noted it before in a recent post. I’m using the strongest Venomous shortswords I have, both given Festival Icy Burst, used against most enemies. I change up weapons as necessary: two Elemental Fury swords for most elementals, two Thunder-Forged shortswords for DR-busting, or Epic Forester Brush Hooks for metalline/aligned bypassing against Maruts and pit fiends.

Defenses

Ryncletica now shows the most impressive defensive stats of any Monk I’ve made, more so than even my “Little Mountain” Shintao Monk, Lynncletica.

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Currently training the Unyielding Sentinel destiny, Ryncletica boasts the best defenses I’ve had on a Monk. She has a 97 PRR with 34% Dodge, 20% Concealment, 25% Incorporeality with 152 AC and 215 Fortification. All these numbers have saved her from devastating damage against Epic Elite Champions and some bosses, but that’s half the story.

Earth Stance gives +15 stacking PRR, and she wears the Outfit of the Celestial Guardian for +38 PRR by enhancement. Unyielding Sentinel’s Heed No Pain gives +30 PRR and some Insightful PRR bracers add another 15. By twisting the tier 2 ability Improved Combat Expertise from Legendary Dreadnought for +20 PRR, Ryn can reach 117 PRR in her current destiny. While in Grandmaster of Flowers to use ki for maximum offensive options (such as the crowd-destroying Everything is Nothing during trash-ridden raids such as “Fire on Thunder Peak”), the Standing with Stone ability and its +15 PRR will be combined with Improved Combat Expertise to reach 38 (Outfit) + 15 (Earth Stance) + 15 (Insightful bonus bracers) 15 (Standing with Stone)+ 20 = 103 PRR.

I did consider the Shintao Monk enhancement Iron Skin to give additional PRR, but it would take away from Ninja Spy’s Sneak Attack bonuses and Crippling Strike at tier 5 of its enhancements. The miss-chance defenses help more than additional PRR, anyway.

The Legendary Feat Scion of the Astral Plane raised her Dodge cap to 34%. With a Lesser Displacement item (three are available from high-end content), she can reach Dodge/Incorporeality/Concealment defenses of 34/25/25%. Using blinding techniques such as Flash Bangs give a brief 50% Concealment.

Tactics

Superheroes like the Batman or Black Widow are more than their weapons. They use their cunning to help fight enemies, even when outnumbered–provided they focus on keeping every else they fight busy, confused, off-balance, or ineffective.

A ninja is about deception and subtle attack, using stealth and non-damaging resources to move the enemy to where she wants them to be, or leveraging the enemy’s expected behavior to her advantage.

One game-changing Epic Destiny feat changed my fighting dynamic significantly: Dire Charge. This is a stunning ability that uses your highest ability score modifier +20 and any Stunning modifiers from gear (I use a Seal of House Dun’Robar).  The stun created by ramming into an enemy leaves nearby enemies helpless for 6 seconds, much like Stunning Fist,  but a mass effect. I eliminate them quickly as the combined Sense Weakness and No Mercy generate over 60% more damage with additional modifiers.

Often I’ll use distance to lure solitary enemies, using shuriken, and then use Dire Charge or the paralyzing Freezing the Lifeblood finisher to pick them off. Isolating enemies fits the ninja skill set but is also a safer option than charging into a heavily-armed group of CR 42+ enemies.

In the event I have to dive into a large fight where crowd control isn’t practical, such as the end-battle in “The Battle of Eveningstar,” I use my shuriken with a Celestia as the off-hand weapon that delivers area-of-effect fireballs and flame while I ran about, keeping the spawns down while concentrating on the boss. I often soften up champions, which frequently have attacks that bypass my strongest defenses, with ranged attacks.

More techniques include fighting when pulling isn’t an option. When a mob gathers up to surround me, I let them–and then throw a Flash Bang to stun and blind them. I can use Dire Charge then to stun a few longer and then kill them, or fade into stealth and regroup.

When the mob is too large for grinding them down, it’s the hate-magnet dummy created by the Diversion ability that can not only save me but a party as well. Often Orange and Red Named enemies aren’t pulled to the dummy, but their support will be, which will at least limit my fight, hopefully at some distance from the dummy, to a fewer number.

The essential objectives are the only items on the Iron Ninja’s playbook on Epic Elite. Most combat-oriented optionals are skipped for speed or avoided for safety. Likewise, it’s against the ninja way to slaughter boxes and barrels; breakable bonuses are skipped. These leave you vulnerable since enemies will hear your footfalls as you run around barrel-slaying.

But why talk about it? Let me show you how Ryncletica uses every trick she has to take on the hordes in the combat-heavy EE “House of Broken Chains.” House Avithoul’s guards are no slouches with many critical-hitting blademasters (often champions) to handle, and spiders about to throw me off my stealth game if I’m not prepared.

But playing Epic Elite requires you to be prepared. Perhaps not as crazy-prepared as the Batman, but similarly able to adjust to any scenario. In this quest, I learn quickly how to match muscle against muscle by creating an army of my own from House Avithoul’s resources.

The video will be closed-captioned in YouTube: Click on the CC button to view them.

Since this video, Ryn has completed two of the three Demonweb quests alone as well on EE. Whether she’ll try the enemy-zerging “Reclaiming the Rift,” I don’t know.

And now I’m considering if Ryncletica has the chops to pull off a melee-based solo Heroic Shroud like her star-throwing cousin. If I do so, I’ll let you know.

Emissaries from Ghallanda

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Change is often stressful, but often brings great beauty as well as strength.

I created a new character, not on my home server of Ghallanda, but on Cannith.

This was the first server I think that the game pointed me to use on first logging in nearly five years ago. Two other characters rested there, unused for years.

My freshly rolled Zen Archer, Mericletica, got to work. I wanted to start off with a Poison Master, but for best results that needed a Drow, which took me a while to unlock on that server.

I’ll explain my larger reasons why I’m on Cannith, far from my stores of loot and a friendly, large and respected guild on another server, in a moment. For now, let me relate some fun that comes from this change.

The New World

Playing the game feels wholly different when you start over on a new server. Unlike joining the game for the first time and being wholly confused as to mechanics, location, and interaction, an experienced player on a new server has many advantages. I know what I’ll need to start a new home and where to find it–at least at first.

With no platinum to speak of, with no stores of loot, I began again. The earliest quests often provide commonly found and useful tools.

Since the Zen Archer is one of two genuine builds I’ve designed, I knew precisely how to start. To speed things up, Mericletica began as  a Veteran II character at level 7. This offered a bunch of suitable starter gear. But rather than handwraps, Meri chose a longbow. I pushed her AP immediately into the Elf racial tree to give her Dexterity-to-Damage, Dodge and Doubleshot bonuses like her parallel sister, Pynthetica.

A bargain offer on the Auction House: A Lumric’s Longbow, perfect for the hordes of undead in her future. (Turned out that this thing was effective against the Ghostly Skeletons in Delera’s Tomb that normally needed Good alignment to even hurt.)

My only first goal for the new Zen Archer was to get a Greatbow of the Scrag, a power bow for a low level archer with its blunted ammunition and higher damage, also great against skeletons. Several runs into the wilds of Three Barrel Cove came up with little. But I knew it dropped: Pynthetica got that bow after only a couple of runs on Ghallanda. Eventually I found one, again on the Auction House, at just the right time and cost.

If you’ve never started completely new on a different server, all access and resources are separate from your original home except for your Turbine Points. While I could spend about US$25 to transfer any of my characters from Ghallanda, I’m finding more and more that this is unnecessary.

Homesteading

DDO is a wonderful world. Your best game resource really isn’t your gear or build, but your brain. There are so many tools in the game that you might tend to ignore because of the benefits of a guild. Even then, you find yourself learning about more resources than ever before.

Mericletica is homeless within a city’s walls. Yet she is a Monk. Through my experience, she knows where to find resources to complete her mission, and her class offers innate support that makes survival easier.

The first tactic I’m using is the benefit of owning many character slots. Farming without a guild’s help requires you to use multiple characters to avoid quickly ransacking boss chests, among other needs such as multiple collectibles, platinum and gear sources, establishing a crafting character, and more.

I reactivated my Ranger, Cynthetica, picked up a bow for a bit and farmed the Cove, having little luck so far in getting that bow for her Zen sister. Cyn here has not been played since I joined over 5 years ago and created her, so she had lots of freebies sitting in her inventory, including a Raider’s box for a “Caught in the Web” raid weapon gift! She is taking her Pinion bow, that’s for sure.

More characters appeared. There’s now Gadgetetica, a young enterprising Halfling Rogue Assassin. Realizing the sad state of financial and material affairs with the small troupe, she’s spearheading acquiring the massive financing and crafting services, training herself in Cannith Crafting.

I’m now appreciating the benefit of a higher Haggle skill to improve my platinum stores. I’ve come to nickname her “Gidget.”

Also settling in to help is a Half-Elf Shintao Monk named Gwynncletica.

At 400 favor, a Drow Poison Master arrived on Cannith: Vipercletica. She’s going at things with a single blade, so it’s back to the Cove to find her a Tiefling Assassin’s Blade. Soon, I’m sure a Drow Bard might come to town. And a banking character is storing essential gear for myself and others for later adventures.

Mericletica herself is a bit gear-dependent and needs specific training different from her companions. She’s got Deflect Arrows trained, has emergency Displacement, Shadow Walk and Invisibility through her Dragonmark, but Meri lacked a Blurry item–critical for the zen-defense.

She now has Shadow Veil from her ninja training., with barely enough ki regenerating to add that important Incorporeality, or to use Ten Thousand Stars occasionally. She’s generating the 8 AP needed for Henshin Mystic’s Contemplation for another passive ki regeneration point and a bit more Concentration.

Back to getting Blurry. I fixated on the options. The prudent direction was to build a set of Bracers of Wind. In fact, getting the level 3 version only takes two ingredients and two challenges–the same ones needed for a level 7 version.

So late one evening, I grabbed Flower the Cleric and set off farming. Readers know that I don’t like the Cannith challenges. They are overly complex and often throw me out of the game’s immersion, like a McDonald’s restaurant within a mountain view to the background.

But the “Lava Caves: Circles of Power” and “Kobold Chaos” dragonshard runs went very well. It’s far easier to farm on a ranged character since you can cover a greater area of defense.

So Meri has her Bracers. Now it’s back to quest running for her, Gwynn and Gidget, with Cynthetica picking up slack later.

Worried that Meri wouldn’t have enough damage punch against undead as I entered into the Catacombs, I researched what Good-aligned arrows I could acquire. On Ghallanda, I’d just use my crafter to make some, but that’s not happening yet on Cannith. And surviving the fight at the start of “The Chronoscope” to reach the war-torn Rusty Nail tavern and their supplies of Flametouched arrows seemed a bit daunting at the time.

Turns out, 2 Marks of the Keeper given to a Marketplace collectible vendor yield 100 +1 Arrows of Undead Bane.

Now I’m all anxious because I’ve rediscovered how useful the collectible vendors can be now, especially in getting some ruby augments for some of my weapons as well as other augments for needed protections. And lots of specialty arrows.

The big hassle, outside of using a banking character, is getting a quiver that holds a substantial number of specialty arrows. The best are the Large Thin Quiver from the House Deneith vendor, at 1000 arrows, and the Very Large Thin Quiver from the DDO Store only, at 1500 arrows. I’ve been working hard on Favor rewards from Deneith for ammo, Phlarian for buffs and clickies, Delera’s Tomb for weapons and other gear, and so on.

I learned that the Hammer and Chain store, near the Harbor banker, sells inexpensive quivers that I could load and pack with as many arrows as I can hold and put into a bank.

Mericletica1Meri took her Greatbow of the Scrag and punched holes in the legions of undead in the Catacombs, gathering more Marks of the Keeper for later.

I might–just might–start running Necropolis now, especially if I can acquire more options to hurt undead with that bow or something better down the road, like a Bow of the Silver Flame.

Things feel all fresh again. I was even excited over a Cannith Challenge. Starting new really pushes you to consider more game resources in a different manner than what you’d normally do when affiliated with a guild or have an insane loot store.

I even used a Mirror of Glamering for the first time, copying an outfit that Meri had that looked perfect for her archery ways.

That outfit looked terrible to me when used on melee fighters, but the neck fan and extended bracers looked very appropriate for a Zen Archer.

The Mission on Cannith

So, why am I on Cannith? I guess it’s for the same reasons that EvenNote and BonnieBew and many others do what they do to help other players. My motivation is themed as well.

What role-play I do in DDO tends to reflect my actual faith as a player. In real life, I greatly respect the monastic traditions in the Catholic Church, particularly their historic role in the early monastic communities in aiding and preserving civilization after the fall of the ancient Roman Empire.

Monasteries were much like our guilds. They gathered men and women under a common theme. Often these people had training as farmers and scribes, weavers and craftsmen. They pooled their knowledge and aided their neighbors.

From the ruins of the Empire, the monastic traditions preserved and copied ancient texts, not only intricate Bibles (called illuminated manuscripts because of their detailed and ornate art) but literary works and histories. From these, they formed the first public schools and are the creators of the first universities. They refined food preparation, including things like cheese and beer. They codified the first hospitals and hospices and even hotels.

Did you know that, today, it’s estimated that the Church is the largest non-governmental provider of health care in the world, running 26% of the world’s facilities?

Through their faith and love of others, these men and women were dedicated and disciplined peoples that blew on the embers of hope to bring the flame of the Light back to a darkened populace.

This is why it’s inappropriate to call the Middle Ages as “The Dark Ages.” There was nothing dark about that time except for a sudden interruption of knowledge and unity that people such as the monks and nuns tried–and succeeded–in reassembling for many who had less than nothing.

And when a monastery was large enough, often missionaries are sent to spread their knowledge and aid to other communities, repeating the process of establishing a monastery and training and aiding those in need.

Mericletica and friends are my missionaries from Ghallanda in spirit. I want to aid others on different servers to be the best Monks their can be, through training and gear, but also to enjoy the spirit of new friends. I’m not leaving my old friends on Ghallanda, but the mission of the blog and the Monk and stealth guides is to help others best enjoy their playtime as a Monk.

A new server home strengthens my resolve to complete this mission, and is surprisingly fun in application. I’m learning to be more resourceful and hope to share this information here and on Cannith and any other servers I may be able to visit.

“To whom much is given, much is required,” God said. If I’m serious about making better Monks for DDO and to grow our worlds, I must take my mission more abroad.

While I initially planned on creating a new guild on Cannith, a friend of the blog has pretty much convinced me to join an existing community. Stay tuned.

Are Monks Really Broken?

QuinAndGholaFan

Monks are far from “broken,” but some trees could use a lot of love.

There are several threads on the DDO forums that discuss the state of the Monk class and how some feel is “broken.”

Here’s some initial advice for those in the threads, and I’m paraphrasing a dev here. Merely calling something “broken” without specific examples and reasons does not aid your case with the developers. As programmers and producers who also have a world to keep in balance so that neither enemies or players are particularly overpowered, developers need real data, not just your mood.

There’s also the matter of remembering that the Monk class is based on many D&D fundamentals that likely won’t change. This especially includes the fact that, both in DDO and D&D, Monks always have less HP than a Fighter. This is a game mechanic that you must overcome as a player, and plenty of us have done so.

That said, over a few threads and even on a DDOCast episode that Shamgar was kind to invite me, I’ve spoken my take on what in the Monk class enhancements could be improved or left alone.

In this post, I’m going to try make my thoughts at their most cohesive for my “official” opinion that the devs can consider with all the other player’s thoughts.

Unarmed Combat

This is the most-discussed topic, and the suggestions disturb me as much as what Update 19 did to the Monk elemental stance formats.

Many want handwraps to become true weapons. This would mean that the Monk’s body is not (necessarily) counted as the weapon in terms of coding. That’s what the Unarmed feat generates and why other classes who fight unarmed do not generate the same damage as Monks.

But we all know too well how handwraps can get buggy. Perhaps a change to handwraps as weapons would de-bug the situation. I think not, since much of the game, especially crafting in quests and in House Cannith, have dependencies in that coding.

I say, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.

Rather, change the simple weapon damage output for Unarmed. It should scale higher for every Monk level, and really be more effective in Epic play. That’s just adjusting a feat.

You can’t expect Monks to work like Fighters and Barbarians. Even if handwraps get changed, you shouldn’t see Monks necessarily matching or even outperforming the best melee classes. They have other talents to offset this. Getting a “bigger, better weapon” doesn’t offset other intrinsic issues for other melee classes, so why would this work here?

As for difficulty class saves, this requires more attention. An unarmed Monk must use STR to determine damage, DEX for Reflex and to-hit and AC, CON for survivability, and WIS for their DCs. I fear that, often, players treat their Monks more as Fighters. boosting (logically) their STR and/or DEX but neglecting their WIS, and thus things just don’t land.

I don’t usually experience this problem; I often boost WIS higher, especially with Ninja Spies, because I use finishing moves that stick on Epic Hard easily, even some Epic Elites. Once I paralyze, blind, or mute enemies, I gain a lot of damage from their Helplessness. But then, Ninja Spies gain DEX-to-Damage with shortswords, and I use these as their primary weapons, reducing my dependency on STR.

So having four critical abilities to keep high is tough on an unarmed Monk. Balance is one thing, as a class trait, but there has to be a way to improve overall at least the tactical DCs, of which Stunning Fist, our hallmark unarmed attack, is involved. Perhaps an Epic feat that allows you to use STR as your DC modifier for Stunning Fist would be welcome.

I’m not going down the route of other DCs for Monk abilities like Quivering Palm. That should remain a WIS DC, and yes, you can get it high enough. Quivering Palm isn’t meant to be used as a spamming Assassinate, but the devs at least added bonuses to your attempts if you’re trying to do so.

Armed Combat

I love quarterstaves, shortswords, shuriken and kamas. But let’s consider that daggers are smaller than shortswords and shouldn’t cause Monks to be uncentered. And kamas are just a type of sickle.

Let’s add daggers and sickles into the mix for any Monk.

Henshin Mystic Combat and Defense

I love the Mystic’s weaponizing of ki. But it’s combat speed with staves should approach, if not match, the level of Thief-Acrobats. Hell, the Acrobat is more like a Mystic than a Mystic.

Mystics also have terrible overall defenses, needed since they are really a melee class, not a caster. Rather than a massive revision of the tree, I’d suggest:

  • Adding Dodge bonuses and bonus AC for each core ability. 2% Dodge and 3 AC per core would do nicely. The last core would also give a 5% increase to Dodge cap (not stackable with Ninja Spy’s Agility).
  • Adding a Mystic effect for 25% Incorporeality for 30 seconds to self and to party, a finishing move buff. Void/Void/Void would work, especially if a lesser Void Strike would return to the feats.
  • Increased attack speed with quarterstaves. Make it identical and anti-prerequisite to the Acrobat.

Elemental Stance Enhancements

As noted, the Shintao Monk tree all but exclusively requires the use of Earth Stance.

Why not create a new tree that, similar to effects that favor elemental acuity in the Season’s Herald Druid or the many Sorcerer trees, give specialized training to the other three stances? The effects would only work most effectively in a particular stance except Earth Stance, and provide either an offensive or defensive advantage that can be increased by training. AP would limit the player from becoming too crazed and encourage fostering one path. In short, let’s think “Avatar: The Last Airbender” here.

Here are some samples that pop in my head:

Water Stance: You are mastering Cold attacks and the nature of ice to slip and slide, powerful enough to push even a mountain away. Your ultimate attack can freeze an enemy for up to 12 seconds (cooldown of 1 minute) and reduce the enemy fortification by 10%. Lesser attacks also increase your Cold damage, armed or unarmed, except for ranged weapons (but not thrown). Your Dodge cap is increased by 1% for every Cold enhancement trained while Water Stance is active. Because Cold does not favor the swift, you also lose 2% of your movement speed.

The restriction to ranged, but not thrown weapons is to support the star-throwers but not bows because they already have the Arcane Archer option.

Fire Stance: You master the art of flame and its tendency to burn. Your ultimate attack sears enemies with immolating flames for a time, briefly blinding them and reducing their offensive prowess, especially enemy Fire resistance. Other lesser enhancements will increase your Fire damage with ki attacks. Your healing amplification is boosted by 1% for each Fire enhancement you train while Fire Stance is active. Because Fire is indiscriminate to what it burns, you lose 2% of your HP.

Ice elementals, beware.

Wind Stance: You master the power of that which is not seen yet can knockdown a whole forest with great speed. Your ultimate attack causes a thunderous area-of-effect knockdown with enemies, causing them substantial Lightning damage as they fall with a failed Reflex save. Lesser enhancements will increase your Electric ki attack damage. You gain 2% Doublestrike for each Wind enhancement trained while Wind Stance is active. Because Wind is a free spirit that can be stopped by solids, you lose 1 AC for each Wind enhancement.

The tier 5 path would give the “ultimate” reward from an offensive mode. Wind could have a chance to activate a chain-lightning effect on knockdown. Ocean could have a chance to cause a Freezing Ice area-of-effect or a Tomb-of-Jade freeze effect with a 1 minute cooldown. Fire stance could cause an immolation effect that logically creates a Fear effect as the monster runs away, burning alive. You can only choose one, but of course can always respec your enhancements. Imagination can run wild here.

Again, since the Shintao tree is already favored to Earth, there’s no need to give that stance any advantages.

The Least Broken Enhancement Tree

The Ninja Spy remains a near-perfect enhancement tree. Every enhancement found there reflects abilities that make any Monk, trained with even a portion of these skills, quite the certified badass.

With Update 19, my gameplay focus turned to 80% Ninja Spy, nearly forsaking my venerable Shintao Monks, for reasons already noted. In fact, I claim there is nothing broken in the Ninja Spy enhancements.

That said, I make a couple of suggestions:

  • Let’s make the ninja look more like a ninja. Other classes have special ways to hold their weapons, such as the orbs for spellcasters, and rune arms for Artificers. Give ninjas a reverse-grip hold on swords held in their main hand. For SWF ninjas, it’ll look awesome. For two-weapon ninjas, they’re REALLY looking masterful with the off-hand in the forward grip and the reverse grip in the main. If possible, when a ninja holds a shuriken in their main hand, the off-hand weapon, if any, should go reverse-grip, too.
  • Allow Sting of the Ninja to work on Centered bows. I don’t want to make Ninja Poison too prevalent, but it’s illogical for shurikens to be poisonous but not arrows from a bow. I can understand if this is rejected. Since when do you envision a ninja with a bow? But then, Ninja Poison also has a Poisoned Darts core ability, so there’s a precedent.

 

Triumph from the Shadows: Why Stealth Does Work

I missed quite a few insightful posts during my sabbatical, but one caught my eye as I scanned the list of post posts.

It was from Sir Geoff of Hanna. Gnome-Fearer. Halfling Commando. One-half of a 5000 Favor Dynamic Duo. The MMOtivator (“Pike with me if you want to live!”).

The post was entitled: “Sneaking In Plain Sight – Why Stealth is Broken as a DDO Play Style.”

Given my love of the sneaky arts, I had to read. And, as is my tendency, to generate my own discussion and debate.

Now, obviously my goal isn’t to go all “You’re wrong!” throughout my whole post that will obviously favor the use of stealth in many (albeit not all) quests. I want to take any and all objections and make a deeper study of how others see it before I apply my own take on it. From such fair objective analysis can results be attained.

And such analysis can be helpful in improving and revising Stormreach Shadows, a web guide I co-edit that provides extended information for many classes into using stealth more often in many quests.

Assassin Speed: Fixed

Geoff starts by noting a comment from producer Severlin regarding some suggestions in the Rogue Assassin Changes thread. Sev notes that the Assassin’s general sneak speed does put them behind other classes with the Faster Sneaking ability.

This was recently and easily fixed in Update 25, thankfully, as those speed traits are now included in Stealthy. I like it, as it also encourages more use of the stealth skills.

I logged in Tuesday evening to reset Sukitetica’s AP just to see this happy speed boost.

The Stealth Engine as a Whole

Geoff takes note of one important comment by Sev:

“Changes to stealth require tech work and affect lots of game systems and are prone to side effects so we have to be careful there. Anything that involves significant changes to monster AI is out of scope for this update and this hampers any global revamp to Stealth.”

Makes sense, since Update 19 was already a “global rewrite” that introduced many of the critical changes to stealth that make it more reliable in gameplay now. Before Update 19, stealth was, more or less, an alternative way to avoid detection. But heaven help you if you were detected, for there was no real way for you to escape.

Pre-Update 19 stealth also had a long list of peculiar problems, such as:

  • Monsters “sliding” to you, stop-motion style, when they saw you.
  • Monsters that always detected you, even when you broke line-of-sight and were out of their Listen range.
  • The inability for a player to jump while in Sneak. (Naughty, bannable “stealth humping” ensues.)
  • No reliable cues to the player if they were in imminent danger of detection by sight or sound.

Since Update 19 and that massive rewrite, monsters generally behaved more logically to curious sights and sounds. The nature of Invisibility (which too many players think should be a complete solution for “hiding” but has never been such) was clearly defined as resistance from Spot checks unless you are very close to a monster. Monsters also listen and investigate sounds of breaking things more often as well, but only those that pick up the sounds go to move, not a whole mob.

And players can also jump and tumble while in Sneak, albeit at a substantial penalty to those skills, which encourages more training to counteract those penalties. Having greater mobility now also allows players to take to higher ground so that enemy Spot checks can be avoided by simple elevation.

Generally, the Update 19 changes persist and work well, except I’ve noticed that, since around Update 22 or so, enemies are no longer attracted properly by the sound of breakables or other sounds. This makes drawing and distracting enemies a broken mechanic right now. Rogues can get past this with Noisemaker traps, but Monks and other classes haven’t a viable non-combat distraction option.

Geoff noted that, in his opinion, that stealth wasn’t helpful–but clarified this in the context of using Rogues, especially Assassins. He avoids going deeper on this at first so as not to go too far off-topic.

I believe I comprehend Geoff’s reasoning, although I disagree. It all has to do with the Assassin’s primary ability: Assassinate. When you use that ability while other enemies are within Listen or Spot range, monsters do react to the death cries of an assassinated ally. As a result, if you are in Listen or Spot range, the enemy Spot and Listen check bonuses spike–and you’re likely detected immediately.

The real problem, from my point of view, is a matter of realism. When John Wilkes Booth approached President Lincoln’s booth, no one paid notice. When he shot the President at point-blank range, it wasn’t as if his wife and others in the booth just randomly glanced around everywhere except at the President, wondering casually where that noise originated, or even ignoring the commotion. Clearly their senses heightened and they turned instinctively to the stimulus. Why wouldn’t a monster do the same?

Assassinations aren’t a public affair. That means that superior Assassin tactics requires isolation of targets so as not to be detected by others. Rogues have plenty of skills to make this happen. Bluff is the best one when a loose group of enemies stands about, allowing you to pull one away to dispatch while others are none the wary. A precise use of a noisemaker also can pull one or more enemies. This requires a player to do something sometimes anathema to DDO: Using patience and cunning. Don’t carry a big stick but a big Bluff DC.

And, for the Assassin to make an escape, their Hide and Move Silently scores must be as high as they can be. Your skill at skulking away must be as high or higher than your Assassinate DC, or you’re missing the point of being an Assassin. You’re not meant to be caught–and it is possible to escape.

Higher level Monks have an Assassinate-like feat: Quivering Palm. Unlike Assassinate, however, using this ability pulls a Monk out of stealth. So Monks learn isolation skills. Many people were upset as recent updates kept nerfing the DCs of this skill, and for good reason. Sure, you can spam it during attack, but it was never meant as a “live” assassinate.

Now some might say, “But I don’t want to isolate things.” Then you can’t expect a instant-kill mechanic to work properly when its conditions aren’t met. You don’t get something for nothing, and so you can’t assassinate without some chance at reprisal. My argument is that, with the right choice and isolated target, there is little chance at reprisals. But if you’re going to spam Assassinate or Quivering Palm in a crowded hall, expect someone to notice.

Let me get back to another facet of Geoff’s comments.

Severlin’s Retort

When Geoff commented on how he thought that a Rogue revamp also required a revamp of the stealth engine, Sev made a curt and definitive reply:

“We get concerned when players make blanket statements about stealth being “broken” without really outlining what they mean. While we love player feedback and welcome specific suggestions about stealth, I just don’t want to set up false expectations about things stealth should allow. We wouldn’t want players, as an example, to have the expectation that characters should be opening doors and pulling levers while remaining in stealth. This type of behavior would threaten too many types of content. Without specifics we can do nothing to address people’s concerns.”

Sev, I feel, is right on the money, and for the reasons I noted earlier about how stealth is not a panacea to avoid being obvious to others.

Take the notion of opening levers and doors while in stealth. Now, a handful of quests purposefully allow the use of doors or portals without leaving Sneak (“The Portal Opens” and “Blockade Buster” come to mind) but the one more XP-lucrative quest does not allow this (“The Claw of Vulkoor”).

Sev is right, and I can encountered many examples where too much stealth (with the current rules) break a scant few of the DDO quest mechanics that activate bosses, open or complete quest objectives, or just simply allow one to proceed. Remember that I have one character, Kiricletica, which completed as many adventures in the game in stealth that would allow it (pretty much everything but raids and quests that absolutely required a party) and without any other players or hirelings, and also purposefully avoided combat except where required. These included all the Devil Battlefield quests, on Elite, to get her Yugoloth favor potions (A hireling helped with levers in “Genesis Point”).

If stealth were really broken, there is no way I’d have survived such an attempt. I must have done something contrary to what others note about stealth.

In “Claw of Vulkoor,” if a stealthy player could open doors and levers without detection, it would be far too easy. I have to time my movements to avoid patrolling scorpions there, and waiting for some to turn around to face a direction opposite of me to flip a lever is part of the mission. Further–and this is a very important point–you do NOT move, ever, while not in Sneak. You can perform actions while stationary, but the second you succeed in getting that lever or switch flipped, you must immediately return to stealth. Just one step while out of stealth and your Move Silently skill is zero, your footfall is heard and you are detected.

Now, Epic players such as Shadowdancers do have an option to open levers and switches without detection but without stealth per se. That’s Improved Invisibility. It’s great to have when you can manage to get to a well-guarded door that, while enemies are just scattered enough to not find you while Sneaking, they will see you on flipping the lever. But this is a special skill, maximum 30 seconds, with a 4 minute cooldown.

Now many quests have a “pressure zone,” if you will, which activates a quest action when a player steps on it, stealthy or not. This is a good thing as a boss or objective that requires to know if you’ve entered a place must work the first time as quest mechanics sometimes are programmed to work just once, leaving a quest bugged if it can’t see “the obvious.”

Only one of these pressure zones goes too far, and that’s at the end of “Monastery of the Scorpion,” where the Scorrow boss on steroids will immediately charge and attack anyone, stealthed or not. This act not only screws up the puzzle you can use to kill him, but Sannyasi is one of a handful of bosses that completely ignores stealth when they shouldn’t. You can’t escape from him, ever, with any tactic.

That’s wrong. While Red Names have True Seeing, stealth is immune from such effects. This is why Monks and Rogues make great beholder-slayers because we can sneak up to the eye-balls before they Spot can lock on fast enough. The devs could wave their hands and say that Sannyasi has tremor-sense or other abilities that make stealth powerless (such as what oozes have) but scorrow and scorpion aren’t spiders and don’t normally have these traits.

Sev is intentionally calling out Geoff and others who want their special abilities to work without a trade-off they must train or prepare to counteract. Someone is going to notice a body fall. Someone is going to notice you in stealth if your Move Silently skill is insufficient.

Geoff’s Return Volley and My Overhand Swing

To Geoff’s credit, he did have many specific arguments that I’ll address one by one.

  1. Many encounters contain unsneakable monsters. Sometimes it seems like most of them do
  2. No one will wait for the sneaky guy to catch up
  3. No one will wait for the sneaky guy to power up anything that requires being in sneak
  4. So many places where a quest will not advance until you have killed all the monsters
  5. The fear of “threatening too many types of content” hobbles stealth play. The pendulum is swung too far. Swing it back a little.

Point 1: Generally true but only early in your life. An adventurer’s very first quests often contain spiders and oozes. These cannot be avoided through stealth. However, as quests advance in difficulty, there are many quests where you can enter and exit with few to no detections. The Lordsmarch quest “Diplomatic Impunity” is a perfect example. There are only three primary objectives: Find Ullivian the scout, report back to Henritta, and kill the Droaam commander. All of these can be completed without killing or being detected by anything in between. I’ve done this a few times, using my Rogue Assassin and ninjas. One kill is all that’s needed to complete (although clean up to get the chests require slaying that don’t count to the kill bonus or any other metric since the quest is over).

You can sneak to most every NPC in the game except bosses where your presence is detected because you walk into a zone where you must be seen. Approaching the bound Spinner in “Spinner of Shadows” does this if you come close enough to the dais where she hangs. I mentioned Sannyasi from “Monastery” as a rare exception where a boss NPC goes off the rails to see you. Driders are spider-kind but, as I know from stealth work in the Underdark and many Eveningstar quests, they don’t have tremor-sense and can be assassinated.

A few higher-end quests (like “The Coalescence Chamber”) will add in The Goshdammed Bats. Bats don’t detect you by sight, but have basically a Listen check of 999. Once you move, even when sneaking, you are found, period. You need a Move Silently skill that’s impossible to attain–and my Ranger, Artemistika, has the highest of all my characters with every buff and ability (around 114).

I have far too many videos that illustrate that Point 1 is erroneous once you pass the earliest quests.

Point 2: Generally true, but fallacious. Offset by the reason why guilds exist and why good party members never leave a man behind. This point isn’t a problem with stealth. It’s a problem with the player’s attitude and skill. Lack of cooperation and an overuse of autonomy has lead to Rogues that don’t trap and healers that don’t heal and tankers that don’t tank. You can do what you want to do, but you can’t knock stealth because it cannot overcome the self-centered interests of other players.

Besides, stealth works just fine completely alone or with like-minded and prepared parties of any size. As with any other quest, it’s a matter of parties communicating, planning out strategies and roles before entering.

One ninja and one Assassin should be enough for just about anything. Trust me.

Point 3: Same answer as Point 1. This is a player attitude problem. Sneak is a one-button instantaneous action for a character. Invisibility is a potion, scroll, spell or spell-like ability that’s also quick to apply to a single character. What Geoff might be alluding here is that the rest of the party doesn’t care to get any of these buffs and just surge ahead and aggro the whole place. If they really screw up, you’ll get to collect all their soulstones in quiet and peace.

Point 4: Sometimes yes. Kill all the monsters is often a required objective. There are very, very few quests that allow a no-kill completion. But stealth should not be incorrectly equated to pacifism. What stealth allows characters to do, as does Invisibility, Hold spells, Paralyzing, Otto’s spells, or Intimidate, is a way to manage crowds and control aggro. In the case of stealth, you manage a crowd by avoiding their detection. But when a quest says, “Kill ’em all,” then you do so.

But, as a Ninja Spy or Assassin, you can use “pick-off” moves that isolate and slay the targets, one at a time. Your skill is revealing yourself only as you choose, confusing and shrouding your enemies, buying you time to eliminate the horde before they can effectively organize against you. You can also use spells that cause Fear. Theatricality and deception is what the Batman does. We can do this, too. (In Batman Begins, the first battle against Falcone’s minions happens this very way…Batman sneaks about, thinning out the herd, scaring most them shitless before removing what few are left as a group.)

My Assassin uses Bluff, pulls an enemy into the shadow and away from others, kills it, then repeats. My ninjas target isolated enemies, use paralysis, spell/melee muting, and blinding finishing moves to slow an enemy attack. They can also take advantage of isolated enemies and remove them.

Point 5: Generally not applicable. Most quests do exactly as they should and activate as they should, whether you are in stealth or not. Else, why would the devs support D&D skills that would inherently bug most of the game? Further, I can testify that my experiences with Kiricletica revealed very very few quests where the stealth mechanic caused quest completion issues to a point where I couldn’t finish. What few quests I encountered that experienced minor issues involved some of the game’s oldest quests. But in many cases, quests you didn’t think were possible in stealth were quite doable.

But Geoff Slams Back

After these first sub-points, Geoff notes several more. This post is going long, but I think it’s necessary to keep chipping away at some of these for clarification, correction and illumination.

  1. There are style problems with sneak that are the result of game changes:
    • a) More stop points added to previously sneakable quests prevent most sneak-only completions
    • b) Dungeon alert
  2. There are issues with the implementation of Assassinate
    • a) A successful Assassinate should not break one out of sneaking
    • b) Assassination requires sneak but you cannot sneak while already in melee
  3. And there are some specific technical issues with sneak
    • a) The bad guys inerrantly hit you with ranged at the first sign of finding you
    • b) It is supposed to be possible to shake off pursuit if one is able to retain sneak but that does not work *
    • c) Monsters that hear you inerrantly follow your path when sneaking
    • d) Monsters that do not show indicators of being able to see you are still able to hit you with single-target spells. Which breaks sneak and now everyone sees you.

Item 1(a): DDO quests have always been filled with stop points. I don’t know which quests he’s noting here, but I’d like to know which ones so I can video my attempt to show where stealth still works or where it does, indeed, break.

Item 1(b): Dungeon Alert never happens to the stealthy character because DA requires your enemies to detect you. I’ve entered and exited many a quest, leaving the same enemies standing and patrolling where they did, without a single alert. The only time I will generate DA as a stealthy character are against enough enemies that sense me and I cannot shake them because of their nature. That’s generally against bats. Lots of bats, as in “Coalescence Chamber.” They will cause a DA if I head up the shafts where they spawn, prompting me to use ranged attacks or return to where they fell (yeah, the bats, the things with wings, fall to the base of the shaft) to kill them off. But the rest of the dungeon remains oblivious to me.

Item 2(a): Assassination, sadly, isn’t a bug but a feature. Some enemies will be aware of you in principle or by game mechanic. Take the gnoll mages in each of the stoned Coin Lord’s rooms in “Eyes of Stone.” Sure, I had the same problem with Sukitetica the Assassin but also with Kiricletica on Easter Sunday. The gnoll won’t activate and attack unless you enter its room and activate him (which, since I don’t activate him while Sneaking and as he doesn’t activate even when blundering in until a certain distance, is a hidden Listen check). Jerry Snook (a.k.a. Cordovan) alluded to this in a rare and appreciative reply to Geoff’s article. It’s a good thing the gnoll mages aren’t active because they’d blast through their own door the second you walked up to the second floor. They’re purposefully inactive to avoid DA, especially if your party splits up. So the gnoll mages really behave as if they know you are coming, mechanic-wise. You can’t easily assassinate someone who knows you are coming.

Item 2(b): You can Assassinate while in melee, provided you’re not the only one that’s attacking. That’s aggro management, pure and simple. Let your hirelings or party members go in first, then come up from behind and kek-kek all you want. I find that some enemy AoE spells or attacks will throw me out of Sneak and blow Assassinate attempts sometimes, but this is an exception rather than a rule. Besides, why worry about Assassinate when your Sneak Attack damage should quickly pound anything not aggroed on you into bite-size bits? A solo Assassin has the odds stacked against them. You’re one character. There are many ahead and some are prepared to greet you. Your skill in getting past their defenses so as to command the field to kill is more paramount than your mere ability to assassinate.

Item 3(a): Enemies that use bows or other ranged weapons, like a player character’s Ranger, have a naturally higher Spot bonus than other enemies. Your Hide skill might get past non-ranged attackers but you better bring a superior Hide skill against those designed to see you from afar.

This same mechanic is demonstrated in brutal clarity in the Epic Gianthold wilderness. First off, all giants there have See Invisibility, so don’t even bother with that potion or spell. The giants have a very high Spot bonus that’s proportional to their size. In short, they’ll see a non-sneaking character from about 10-15 giant-lengths away, easily. If you can sneak through Epic Gianthold without giants noticing you, you have effectively perfected your skill, in my opinion.

Item 3(b, c and d): I updated the Sneak article on DDO Wiki based on the Update 19 release notes and from my experience on what is required to shake off a pursuing enemy(s) using Sneak.

  1. Break the line-of-sight with your enemy first. Run away and turn a corner is a best practice, but cowering behind a box is not. Nor will Invisibility work; once they see you, they see you.
  2. Next, go into Sneak and then apply Invisibility, if time and ability allow. Sneak is essential now because turning the corner or entering another room breaks the enemy’s sight-lock on you. They still know where you went but lost precisely where you are. But the key here is that they are still hunting you. If you aren’t sneaking, they’re targeting you by sound.
  3. Finally, keep moving as you do (1) and (2). The enemy will still pursue but can only use their Listen check to hunt you down. Move Silently counters this if you have enough skill points applied. Most enemies search the last place you stopped, swatting away at the air until they hit you or find nothing, sometimes spreading out. Depending on the mechanic of the enemy, they may stop and go back, stop swatting and go back to normal alert, or swat indefinitely. In any case, don’t be where they are. In fact, just sneak past them and continue on your merry way. As to single-target spells, the effect is the same as a wide arc from a halberd, and the resolution is the same. The enemy is targeting you only if they know exactly where you are. But some spells can be directed to a position even if a target isn’t there.

So, yeah, Geoff. You’re doing it wrong. 🙂 You must avoid both enemy sight and hearing for this to work. And once you break enemy sight and sound-lock, get off the path where they expect you to be.

Ninja Spies have advantage here with their Flash Bangs. These daze and blind enemies for 6 seconds, allowing a ninja to use an Abundant Step in Sneak to easily disappear. But Assassins are Rogues, so enough UMD means a Blindness spell can work on a single foe. Solid Fog could also help, as can many many other items as noted on the Blinded wiki page. There’s also the old-school option of leaving a sacrificial lamb such as a hireling to pull aggro while you skedaddle. And level 18 Ninja Spies can create a Diversion, a hate-magnet training dummy (dressed like a pirate, of course) that will easily pull pursuers to itself.

DDO quests don’t differentiate much between a single player and full party. That said, the only reason why stealth would not work in party is because there is a party member with inadequate Hide and Move Silently skill or is using or doing something that causes noise, aggro or light. A Ranger in party has Hide/Move Silently party buffs that stack with items (Camouflage and Pass Without Trace). Invisibility is a simple anti-Spot that works against anything but True Seeing/See Invisibility, so even if a player that isn’t a natural stealth class (Bard, Ranger, Rogue, Monk) but wants to play a stealthier game, add cross-class points to Move Silently over Hide, and befriend a Ranger.

There’s a reason why the nickname of the stealth guide was “Stealth Team Six.”

Conclusion

You’re not doing it right, all.

Stealth is a defensive posture. DDO doesn’t allow you, on purpose and with one sole exception (Assassinate) to be simultaneously offensive and defensive with this mode. And even Assassinate has its limits, but it does work.

There were several comments to Geoff’s post. One said, “Even if you “stand” still while in stealth mobs tend to sweep towards you and eventually spot you. This even if you’re out of side behind a door/wall. Closed doors give even more agro.”

Standing still really means “Do not move.” Stealth, specifically Hide, reduces but never eliminates the chance for something to see you. If you are standing still in stealth about 3 body lengths from some enemy, their Spot check is not only up but magnifying upward by design. (Those are the multiplying “eyes” above an enemy that change as their Spot increases.) Once they detect something, their Spot bonus grows to the point where you will eventually be found. Hide was never designed to make you permanently cloaked. You need to get out of the enemy’s line-of-sight, and Hide provides you the time to do it before their Spot bonus changes to “detected.”

And an enemy’s Listen check goes through doors. We know that DDO doors often seem like they aren’t there. So stealth masters treat them as already open, never approaching them without being in Sneak. Else, things do tend to aggro through them. Keep in mind that enemies that can defeat Sneak (spiders, oozes) will detect you automatically and likely cause minions nearby to do the same.

Kiricletica’s Advice on Stealth: “Your Hide or Move Silently training may fail against an enemy if either score, divided by 2, is equal or less than the enemy’s Challenge Rating number.”

I don’t “sometimes” get some use out of stealth.

I enjoy it virtually all the time. I have pictures. I have a whole YouTube channel filled with video. It works. And I co-wrote an entire guide on it.

“Spies in the House?” Did it.

“Claw of Vulkoor?” Yep.

“Bastion of Power?” Sure.

The eighth Splinterskull quest, “Doom of the Witch-doctor: Zulkash, Herald of Woe?” Yep. And in only 4 kills out of a possible 75–and I sneaked by all the mobs that guarded the puzzle wheels. The totem counted a a kill. I added the Devious bonus on that DDO Wiki article.

Did you know you can can activate puzzle wheels while in stealth?

I don’t want to think I have some “lock” on stealth skills. I started with some ideas from player Ghoste long ago and worked from there.

I know Geoff’s been playing the game far longer than I have, so please take any criticisms here about Geoff’s post with respect–he’s  one of the coolest people I know in-game (and had the honor to meet in person). But there’s several important things missing to his comments and those who commented back.

Be it Assassin or ninja, the process of stealth is alive and well, but it does require training and a different mindset to bring it to fruition.

Seems that the only thing wrong with stealth, as I see it, is that, for many, the techniques to make stealth work just sneak right by them all.

I’m still open to join a new server and help teach the art of stealth.

UPDATE: In the limited time he had at that moment, Sir Geoff has posted a rebuttal that, at the least, calls me out on just being too damn wordy, while noting how we agree more than disagree. Didn’t I just say that here? 🙂

Ninja Versus Ninja: A Look Back at Diablo II

The Diablo II Assassin: Unarmed, uncatchable, nearly unstoppable.

The Diablo II Assassin: Unarmed, uncatchable, nearly unstoppable.

While I’m away from DDO during Lent, I had to find a game that I still enjoyed but

  • Could be instantly paused
  • Not be an internet game
  • Not cause rapid amounts of time wasted

Well, two out of three’s not bad.

I pulled out my old install disks of Diablo II. It took Neverwinter Nights to pull me from that 3-year long crack habit, only to upgrade my fix when I discovered Dungeons & Dragons Online.

At least I know I can only do one drug at a time. I’ve yet to purchase Diablo III. And if this blog ever, ever posts something about installing World of Warcraft, that’s the time that those of you that know where I live should arrange for a serious Intervention.

The first challenge wasn’t finding the activation codes (I’m good at keeping track of these) but in trying to get the game installed from CDs. I own an iMac model that’s quite a pleasant gaming computer while it’s in Boot Camp mode (running Windows 7 natively). But this latest model removed its built-in CD/DVD drive. I had to search around for my USB CD/DVD external drive.

Diablo II was one of the first major PC games that had a generally simultaneous release on both Mac and PC (back in the day when Steve Jobs had not only brought Apple from the brink but also started to make some very game-capable workstations). Sadly, the Mac version of D2 can no longer operate. The game was built for the old PowerPC processor. When Apple moved to Intel processors in 2006, the new Mac OS X Unix-based OS had a PowerPC emulation layer to support D2, but this disappeared over three years ago with OS 10.5 or so. Short of hyper-hacking a Mac PowerPC emulator into OS X Yosemite, using Windows was the easiest choice.

I smartly searched the Blizzard website for any compatibility issues. This is, after all, a game produced in 2000, with a late expansion in 2002. Surprisingly, Diablo II, introduced during the early Windows ME/XP days in 2000, runs excellently in Windows 7 once you tell it to run as Administrator and in Compatibility mode (with a couple of other settings for good measure). Back in the day, CDs (!) behaved as another game key to prevent copy theft. But Blizzard eventually told how to make a CD-less gameplay experience–something important when your computer is a disc-less iMac computer.

Sadly, I’ve lost my long-played saved characters used over the years, and had to start over with new characters.

Well, this blog isn’t the Sorcerer Blog, so I’m going to skip over my love affair with the Sorceress class, that hellion girl that puts the Her in “Sorcerher”. I generally played that class or the spear/bow wielding Amazon until the Lord of Destruction update introduced the Assassin.

The Assassin is an unarmed fighter, a member of an order of anti-mages that emulate magic through various finishing moves.

Sound familiar?

This is going to be a pleasantly long post. Grab some popcorn.

Now, I’ve played this class to death prior to my first entry as a Monk in the two Neverwinter Nights games. But with DDO experience under my belt, specifically Ninja Spy skills, I finding myself learning the benefits of skills I’ve ignored entirely over the years. As a result, I’ve found new joys in a age-old game, with lots of later DDO and NWN play experience to improve my game.

If It Runs Like a Monk and Fights Like a Monk…

The D2 Assassin, like a DDO Monk, is an anti-mage, with many attacks and speed designed to kill mages before they have a chance. Assassins use special hand blades or claws, rather than gauntlets or handwraps. Their skill trees (faintly similar to the DDO trees) are broken down into Martial Arts, Shadow Disciplines, and Traps.

Martial Arts are broken down into several finishing moves that magnify overall attack damage, deliver amplified area-of-effect elemental damage, or cause vampiric leaching of Life and Mana Points. Just like the DDO Monk, finishing moves are charged in sets of three.

Unlike the DDO Monk, you can and should charge up multiple finishers cumulatively. For instance, I can strike three times to fully charge a Tiger Strike (amplified general damage) then switch to charge up Fire, Lightning, Cobra (vampiric), and Ice charges before releasing them simultaneously.

How the D2 Assassin unleashes the strike is where it gets better. I can use a normal attack to do so, where all the charged effects strike at once, with fire, ice, cold and lightning go off like a bomb, while general damage and vampiric effects do so as well. But I also have special attacks to release finishers.

I can make a normal kick (which adds to the damage, depending on the boots I wear), or a Dragon Kick (greater damage with a charging attack) or a teleporting kick. This teleporting kick is designed to fight bosses who might be too powerful to fight one-on-one for long periods. So, you fight their minions, charging up and killing them, and then teleport-kick into the boss with all that charged goodness.

Now, that was my typical way to play back in the day. Then I decided on returning to put just one skill point in everything to unlock every skill to experiment. I’ve never bothered to do much in the Traps tree,  but I am loving it now.

Set Your Own Traps

The D2 Assassin can set up area-of-effect traps that throw elemental damage to anything in the area, aiding you as you fight with martial arts finishers.

To go with this, you have the ability to throw many, many throwing stars continually, per point of mana available. D2 has the Strength, Dexterity, Vitality and Energy as ability scores. D2 generally has no true “dump stat” but Energy isn’t as required for the Assassin as STR and DEX are for attack rolls and damage, just like DDO. But you need some Energy to make a sufficient mana pool (just like ki) to perform your job.

I had never used the throwing stars before. Even with two skill points, I was reliving my love of the DDO Shuricannon with my old Assassin and mowing down enemies from afar that would sometimes overwhelm and tax my defenses and Life points. It saved me a lot of resources when fighting Mephisto, one of the game bosses, by gunning him down Szyncletica-style with multiple stars.

Finishing Moves

I wondered if the DDO developers took a page from Diablo II in the development of their Monk, because the concept of finishing moves and elemental attacks are so similar. Odds are, as the D&D Monk predates the Diablo series, Blizzard (yes, that Blizzard) did the copying.

D2 uses the Life/Mana player health/magic format, of course. Rather than ki, the Assassin uses her Mana to empower her emulated attacks. As you train her abilities, the Mana cost can increase dramatically when using the most powerful abilities.

Thankfully, there’s Cobra Strike, a vampiric leaching attack that damages while pulling Life and Mana from a target. There’s also gear you can find that has vampiric effects.

Diablo 2 has only four stats: STRength, DEXterity, VITality and ENERGY. STR and DEX are needed as you expect for the Assassin. Vitality is the equivalent of CON in D&D and ENERGY works as the Mana-increasing stat. A nice balance of STR and DEX for unarmed fighting is needed (like in DDO) but VIT is key to staying power for Life (HP). A few points in Energy is needed but not too much. Assassins can generate Energy themselves, in a similar fashion to some ki generating moves from the DDO Monk stances.

Shadow Techniques

One thing that the Assassin can do that’s also very ninja (but not “Ninja Spy,” as available directly from their enhancement trees), is to create a summoned assistant. The summoned comes in a lighter drone form that doesn’t take too much damage to a much more powerful and aggressive avatar that uses the whole can of Assassin offensive martial techniques. This means that the Assassin can have that Shadow Master summon to go with their hireling–yes, hireling!–be it a Rogue archer, a spear-wielder, a mage, or a Barbarian fighter, for two allies on the field.

You can even coat your weapons for Poison damage-over-time attacks. So very ninja. The Assassin was a popular character, introduced in the game’s sole expansion, because it could change up its attacks to meet any enemy immunity. I never used the Poison attacks back in the day, and I just added it to Syn’s repertoire. Green-tinged bliss.

Monastics of Another Realm

So, enough chatter. Enjoy my moves in this video that demonstrates most of the Assassin.

It’s sad that I’m not as far away from my computer as a gaming machine as I wanted to be. But if I have to be gaming and it’s not DDO, Diablo II still holds its own, even at 12 years old.

 

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?

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