How a Ninja Causes a Bug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

. . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#ninjaproblems

Epic Purple Haze: Venomous Weapons

Update 29's new prefix/suffix format offers some improvements for a poison master--if she can find the weapons.

Update 29’s new prefix/suffix format offers some improvements for a poison master–if she can find the weapons.

I’m still tooling about with Ryncletica, a Drow that leverages all kinds of Poison damage with Ninja Poison to DoT the hell out of many enemies.

With Update 29, a curious addition has arrived to weapon prefixes that has almost caused me to forget that I still need a Shard to build an Epic Envenomed Blade for Ryn.

That’s the Venomous prefix. These are adding 1d6, 2d6, 3d6, 4d6, 5d6, even 6d6 Poison damage to weapons. That’s a lot of Poison for the 100% Poison debuff caused by Ninja Poison to amplify, far more than the Poison damage that any other weapon adds. In contrast, my two preferred weapons are the Tiefling Assassin’s Blade and the Envenomed Blade, which give only 1 to 6 Poison, with occasional bursts of additional Poison in the latter. I just found a level 28 blade of Critical Piercing for extra damage.

So these new weapons give more consistent Poison damage that should stack and amplify. I said should as I had yet to test it until recently.

While the Venomous prefix was rather common, it took me some time to find a couple of shortswords (shown above) with Venomous, never mind an idea set with of Wounding or Doublestrike. I even found a Venomous returning shuriken before these two shortswords. That’s the first Poison throwing star I’ve ever seen, and I hope to watch Sting of the Ninja boost its DoT effects.

So, at level 24, Ryn’s test needed to find a boss that (1) Wasn’t a devil, elemental or undead, (2) Was respectfully high rank, at least CR 28 so I can watch the DoT build-up, and (3) had a simple end-fight with no respawns to complicate my observations.

Frelga, the night hag awaiting at the end of “The Riddle” on Heroic Elite, qualified for the job.

The result: As expected, these weapons get sizable boosts of Poison damage that get magnified with Ninja Poison. This build also adds the Venomed Blades Drow enhancement to go with all that. Don’t have a Quiver of Poison yet, which would complete this build’s power.

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ScreenShot01828It would be nice to also find an Red augment slot. Sadly, there are no Poison rubies we can add to weapons. That would be nice to see.

The weapons themselves also have a strong base damage, which is welcome.

You may notice other purple damage amidst all the purple poison haze. That’s the Touch of Despair finisher debuff that magnifies negative energy damage. I do have the 500-point zapping Touch of Death on hand, but wasn’t using it here so I could observe the new Poison.

The Poison Master is a somewhat limited build to be sure, especially with Update 28 and 29’s additional raids and quests that build up to a new invasion by the devils of Shavarath and other outsiders that are completely immune to Poison. Good against Drow and humans and many others.

But when that one HP-heavy boss shows up that isn’t a devil but is resistant to many other attacks, Ryncletica will be up to the job.

The Best of Both Worlds

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Leveling felt like it took forever, but Ryncletica the Poisonmaster is back in Epic.

Epic melee combat always requires a different strategy. Like Rogue Assassins, Epic Ninja Spies thrive on opportunity, and try to generate as many opportunities as possible.

What’s surprised me are the many opportunities a Ninja Spy has available.

Healing Up and Epic Destinies

Like Szyncletica the star-thrower, Ryncletica is a Drow and needed better battle healing. The popularly trained Rejuvenation Cocoon was the simple answer, attained at level 24.

Most of you know how grinding through Epic Destinies to unlock access to each one can be a bit daunting. Thankfully, experience with my first mature Zen Archer showed me that the rewards were well worth it. (This isn’t news for many of you. I’m just slow, so I apologize. I’m more likely to enjoy playing than grinding for continuous growth, typically.)

When Ryn last TR’ed, I was rather selfish in leaving a destiny because the benefits felt safe. Shadowdancer was like that for Ryncletica. I felt safer in it and did not see how other destinies outside of Grandmaster of Flowers would synergize as well as with my Ninja Spy. But, now, after playing through several with the Zen Archer (a ninja at heart), I’ve seen the light and rededicated Szyn and Ryn to complete as many destinies as necessary to get commonly useful abilities and improve the character’s overall efficiency.

Again, I apologize for being dense about this sort of thing until recently. Like enhancement trees, you shouldn’t overlook benefits in other destinies, even it it takes time to develop them. And best to take advantage of first-life XP to build these up faster than in later lives.

So Legendary Dreadnought right now ultimately provides some HP and melee power, but I don’t find myself doing much with the boosts. I’m appreciating the critical hit and threat boosts, and I’m sure to enjoy Master’s Blitz for boss fights.

It’s when I trained up Shiradi that Ryn showed a different side of herself. Ryn is a light version of Shuricannon 1.0 because she is Drow, lacking only the ranged feat bonuses and a bit less DEX. But, with a Celestia in hand, Ryn can tear through monsters almost as well with her stars as her swords. Ryn’s behaving more like a Ranger than a Monk in this regard; capable of equally powerful melee or ranged fighting if the need arises.

I’ll let you know more about other destinies as I level them to open up more fate slots if I see a need.

As for healing amplification, I need that, too. Neither Drow nor Ninja Spy offer any inherent healing amp. I’m using a herolic Shamanic Fetish for some boosts to it right now, but if I can improve it with some points to my Healing skill with an augment, I’ll add it. The Purple Dragon Gauntlets are an easy option but it takes away my Melee Alacrity I appreciate from my Fabricator’s Gauntlets. But then, I could use a crafted Trinket of Melee Alacrity and use the PDK Gauntlets to see if its healing amp works better than Devotion spell power.

Weapons (or: How I Own Drow with Level 4 Shortswords)

With the capstone enhancement, Ninja Master, I will often Vorpal with my shortswords.

But I understand how some feel that there aren’t really powerful shortswords for Epic play.

I’m realizing this isn’t as much of a problem for a Ninja Spy that uses their innate skills.

I have a couple of Epic Elemental Fury swords for level 26, and two Thunder-Forged Shortswords in use now. Both TF swords have Rubies of the Endless Night, but they aren’t as effective to me as I would like against some things, and I’d likely swap those out for some Good augment gems.

I also want my Poisoning powers at maximum. One weapon can improve that, with some extra grinding in one quest.

That’s “Spinner of Shadows.” The goal is to find two Shards of the Envenomed Blade. I’ve got one Seal and two Scrolls so far. Once I can upgrade two, they will become my stronger Epic “go-to” weapon against most non-demon enemies that are susceptible to Poison damage. The Epic Envenomed Blade has a decent 2(W)+6 base damage boost and a higher Enhancement damage. The Enervation feature will match that I’ve added to the weaken Tiefling blades in the form of Rubies of the Endless Night. The upgrade gains me Red augment slots where I can improve their DR, likely with Good gems.

I recall Evennote’s post of some time back of her frustration in grinding for a Shard for her Silver Slinger. I believe she did eventually get one to drop later in repeated runs in “The Spinner of Shadows”. That was back in 2013, before a recent update that defined the chances of Shards and Seals drop rate at 5% at Epic Normal to 15% on Epic Elite. Of course, running in a party should stack those odds through the number in the party. A guildmate’s expressed interest, too, in running “Spinner” often enough to find it, so, with chest ransack rules also factoring in, a larger party is best.

One thing I won’t look forward to handling are the Hezrous. Hezrou demons suck. I’d rather stick-and-move against Karas, especially with Ninja Poison DoTs, even in EE. But Shards for the whole chain drop only in the Epic Chest of “Spinner.”

I thought to improve my Hezroubuster skills. Most Spinner hunting parties die because they split up too much. Herzous easily whomp solo adventurers without a plan. Staying together saves resources. And the blue spiders weren’t going anywhere.

So, before I had the TF swords, and with a little research, I make some Hezroubusting shortswords.

I had to test out those +5 Axiomatic Burst Flametouched Iron Shortswords of Chaotic Outside Bane in an Epic Normal run in “Spinner,” but not before double-checking some notes on controlling the Spinner. Seems I was overdoing the pinning process. After pinning her well in rounds 1 and 2, I had several minutes to run around with my two hirelings to gather crystals.

And then came the hezrous and renders. I charged in, the new swords butchering them. I shoved in what dark finishers would work against them sometimes (Pain Touch) but mostly it was a DPS thrashing of any hezrous that got too close. Being in Grandmaster of Flowers helped; I have a few more bits of XP to fill that destiny before returning to Legendary Dreadnought.

The battle over, but no shards of any kind. ‘Tis sad. But I lived. As soon as I can build up a bit more power and gain a party, it’s back to the Khyber salt mines.

But for Ryncletica, the simple things remain ridiculously effective in many places.

I entered an Epic Hard “House of Broken Blades,” armed myself with only my Tiefling Assassin’s Blades and laid waste to that place.

The key (as always) isn’t in the base weapon damage but in several other aspects:

  • Poison damage from the blades combined with Ninja Poison
  • The 15-20 critical threat range, now turned to 13-20 with Ninja Master and Improved Critical
  • Higher damage with high (though not highest) DEX
  • Tthe Ninja Spy’s various abilities to make enemies helpless.

I mixed up stealth using the hirelings to lure enemies close, or sneaked up to enemies and smacked them with Freezing the Lifeblood over and over. Any Drow that met me, including Orange-named and nasty Champions, dropped very quickly as the full power of the tiefling sword carved their HP with a few strikes. Even the bosses hated me with the critical hits (and boosts to critical damage from LD) that whittled them down.

And if they’re too dangerous to constantly swat? A Snowstar damages as well as melee blades. I’m working on finding a Dawnbringer.

Advanced Armor and other Gear

I’m using the Way of the Sun Soul set and have an unlocked Spider-Spun Caparison for later.

I investigated the benefits of the Shadow Dragonscale armors to see if an outfit would be a benefit. My Poisonmaster relies on effects that wound (weakening CON and therefore Fortitude to make dark finishers stick) deliver Poison (magnified by my Ninja Poison debuffing) and bypass fortification. Doesn’t look like those outfits will help, outside of 130% fortification that would relieve me of wearing two items and not one to get my fortification to 175% or better.

Higher Doublestrike would be preferable, too. Having 20 to 25% based Doublestrike would be ideal when I’m not spamming Shadow Double for a 6-second 100% Doublestrike burst. I don’t see that happening unless I do Epic TRs.

Sometimes, with some Netherese or even a pirate gets you down, a ninja needs to dance.

Sometimes, with some Netherese or even a pirate gets you down, a ninja needs to dance.

Not many choices to boost attack speed. It may not be a bad thing to consider grinding for an Epic Jorgundal’s Collar (Level 25) with its 15% alacrity.

Fitting in improved epic fortification (150%) is critical for melee fighting, far more than my ranged work with Mericletica. I have Brace for Impact already for 40% and can use the combined Fabricator’s set for another 25% but at the cost of the Sun Soul effects and some stat benefits. I want 200% but I’m functional enough at 150%, with a few rings and cloaks to boost things as I need them.

Champions are still a pain, and Ryn has it harder at times. I tried her first EE with my usual hireling duo (Albus the Favored Soul and my Onyx Panther) in EE “Bargain of Blood.” Hobgoblins were more initially resistant to Freezing without weakening them more in some way. When a Champion came out, he turned my party into an unappealing goo.

Stats

I completed two Shavarath quests to get my Yugoloth potions, and have a few other stacking potions to get DEX and WIS briefly to 46. That seems low but consider how the poisonmaster needs that balance. I’m favoring WIS since a helpless-inducing finisher allows the Ninja Spy enhancements to tear up anything, reducing the need for higher DEX.

Like any other melee fighter, Ninja Spies don’t like crowds. But one Flash Bang or a Diversion dummy and I’m so much vapor to regroup. I still don’t like aberrations and demons. I do better against the living humanoid types.

That said, I want a standing 44 WIS and 40 DEX through any means I can. I may retool Grandmaster of Flowers to a higher WIS than DEX to help with the critical finishers.

Because Ryncletica is all over the map with her abilities, it’s going to harder to pin down her build for the Monk guide’s build section. But maybe that’s a good thing. That variation might let you try different things without straying too far from the build’s inherent function.

It’s a harder melee build to play, for sure. Stealth simply avoids immediate death. Yet it’s not her EDs or powerful weapons that make Ryn enjoyable. It’s her innate skills as a Monk that make her more than just another light fighter. To anyone that claims that finishing moves are useless, Ryn (and Kiricletica before her) put such claims to the question. 

I Hate The #@*#%@! Netherese!

The Monk class is the strongest anti-mage class in the game.

You Shar-loving, magic missile throwing motherf_____!

You Shar-loving, magic missile throwing motherf_____!!!

But Ryncletica the Poisonmaster was striking out last night against a few Netherese Wizards in a Heroic Hard run of “End of the Road” in the High Road quest chain.

Both starts were stupidly easy. Against squishy humans, Ryncletica’s attacks with an Envenomed Blade and Tiefling Assassin’s Blade or Vampiric Fury Shortsword dice up people quite well.

Then my little party approaches the multiple spell ward line and at least two enemy wizards. Despite some initial beatdowns with the blades to weaken their fortitude and hit them with a Freezing the Lifeblood paralysis or a Quivering Palm kill, the bastards stayed up.

The first one, a Champion, hurled a buttload of likely maximized magic missiles into me before I realized it, sending me to Dolurrh. Fine, fine. I will be more prepared next time.

The second one that clocked me wasn’t a champion at all but maneuvered himself into the spell wards line, making it nigh-impossible to hurt him sufficiently before he whipped off a Disintegrate or something and I was looking at my soulstone again.

I was fuming. My guild master, normally the one that makes sailors blush when she’s having a bad character day, was amused at how my calm was completely damaged.

I abandoned the attempt and joined up with the guild master’s party for a more successful and comparatively relaxing runs through Gianthold with Kiricletica.

Some Tips about the Netherese

Just wanted to give a few suggestions, no matter if you’re Heroic or Epic, for what it’s worth. After all, I’m a soulstone here.

  • Always wear Deathblock and use Death Ward, especially against Champions. Often Netherese mages hit you with Dispel Magic before unleashing a series of nasty things.
  • Carry a Shield clicky. Magic Missiles are extremely dangerous in the hands of these guys. Look at the picture.
  • Kill them quickly. Screw anything else around you. Netherese mages aren’t support, they’re the central attacker in many quests, and for good reason. Fight magic with magic. Blast them with Finger of Death, send in your Assassins and Shintao Monks.
  • If you’re not a high-level Monk or Drow, wear items with Spell Resistance and Evasion if possible. These things will help you shrug off commonly problematic non-damaging attacks that may debuff you.
  • Disable them. Paralysis will be hard to land on these guys, so don’t rely on it. Try stunning, knockdowns, bashing, DoTs, Bard spells–just get these guys unable to cast, if only briefly.

My monastic calm totally left me. I wish there were a quest option where we could reprogram the flying glacier from “What Goes Up” to send it towards Netheril to drop that big magical-plutonium ball of mythallar on their city. And let one adventurer ride it back yelling, “Yippie-ki-yay, motherf____!!! Magic-missile THIS, you c___suckers!”

Update 25: Smiles in the Dojo

"Your gaming time is very important to us. The current wait time is 12 hours."

“Your gaming time is very important to us. The current wait time is 12 hours.”

Welcome to Update 25: Update of Evil!

It’s a rougher day for Cordovan and Co. as they try to get Update 25 installed and updated properly on their servers since 8:00 AM EDT. As I write this, twelve hours later, it’s still not quite up, but I’m up.

Things happen. I wish Turbine’s ragged team much bacon and coffee and hope they’ll get everything all running very soon.

Any dissenting comments or criticisms of Turbine on my blog will be spiked and banned. I live in Indiana and I have had it up to here with the self-privileged minority that feels entitled to everything of late, even if they’re not being actually targeted.

So, rather than slugging out monsters to pass the time on a character in Diablo II, here’s a quick summary of some highlights I’ve found in the Release Notes that satisfies far more than a few of my character’s interests.

The Great:

  • Bleed damage now scales 200% with Melee Power.

That’s a happy thing for some weapons I carry but Saekee should be very happy since his build that uses the Forester’s Brush Hook kama will mop the floors up with greater damage.

  • Ranged Power has been added to Epic Levels and Epic Destiny cores:
    • Each Epic level from 21 to 28 now increases Ranged Power by three.
    • Fatesinger, Shadowdancer, Primal Avatar and Shiradi Champion gain +4 Ranged Power per innate ability.
    • Grandmaster of Flowers and Unyielding Sentinel gain +3 Ranged Power per innate ability.
    • Divine Crusader and Legendary Dreadnaught gain +2 Ranged Power per innate ability.
    • Fury of the Wild gains +1 Ranged Power per innate ability.

Very good news for Artemistika and my revamping of Pynthetica, my Zen Archer, but also, I hope, this translates to Szyncletica’s throwing stars.

  • The Ninja Spy’s Sting of the Ninja should now work properly with all named weapons (that meet the requirements.)

All the ninjas in the house have celebrated this news by adding an extra spoon of honey in their green tea. This bug, longstanding since around Update 22, means that Szycletica’s shuriken of all kinds will again add punishing Ninja Poison DoTs in addition to other damage. Dragons beware: Her Thunder-Forged Shuriken awaits to send you to the abyss.

  • The Monk Mountain Stance now gives 50% Hate Generation, and its upgrades now give 100/150/200% Hate Generation.

I think I heard Lynncletica smile.

Shintao Monks, in their current incarnation, have a harder time generating aggro, even in Mountain Stance. This is a substantial boost to Hate generation. It means Lynn’s going to be bloodier than ever before Level 18 but the results should be worth it by Epic levels.

  • The Rogue Assassin has been improved:
  • Core Abilities
    • Assassin’s Trick now works on all enemies, and no longer has a saving throw. The attack now has a shorter animation. Cooldown is now 6 seconds, and duration is now 15 seconds.
    • Nimbleness no longer requires sneak attacks, and works on any hit. +5 Melee Power.
    • Lethality: +5 Melee Power.
    • Deadly Shadow: You gain +2 Dexterity and +2 Intelligence. You gain 10 Melee Power and +4 Sneak Attack dice. You gain +4 to Reflex Saving Throws. You gain +2 to the DC of your Assassinate.
  • Tier One
    • Poison Strikes now applies an “Assassin’s Mark” to an opponent for 10 seconds.
    • Shiv no longer reduces threat when you attack, and instead offers an additional passive bonus that reduces the threat of all your attacks by 5/10/15%. The attack also makes a Bluff check, using your Bluff skill, when you strike an opponent, for one second + .25 seconds per Rogue level.)
    • Stealthy now also gains +20/35/50% movement speed while sneaking.
  • Tier Two
    • Venomed Blades costs 1/1/1 AP, and now scales with 200% Melee Power.
    • Bleed Them Out’s bleed damage scales with 200% Melee Power.
    • Damage Boost’s cost has been reduced to 1 AP per level. The boost to Melee Power is now 10/20/30.
  • Tier Three
    • Critical Accuracy has been removed.
    • Critical Mastery: (1/1/1 AP) + 1/2/3 bonus to critical damage and to confirm critical hits.
  • Tier Four
    • Critical Damage has been removed.
    • Weakening Strikes reduces the Melee and Ranged Power of opponents by 10 + Rogue Level/2 for 10 seconds if you attack an enemy with an “Assassin’s Mark.”
    • Execute: If a target is below 30% health, deal 500 damage. This damage scales with 200% Melee Power, and has a cooldown of 15 seconds. This enhancement no longer has a sneak attack requirement.
  • Tier Five
    • Assassinate now has a 12 second cooldown.
    • Measure the Foe: Gain +4 Melee Power, +2 Dodge, +2 Maximum Dodge, +1 to hit and +1 to the DC’s of your Assassinate ability for every 4/2/1 seconds you remain stealthed. This effect stacks up to five times, and lasts 10 seconds after you come out of stealth.
    • Deadly Strikes: Your attacks against enemies with an “Assassin’s Mark” to +5 damage.
    • Light Armor Mastery: (1/1/1 AP) You gain 1/2/3 to Maximum Dodge. While wearing light armor, gain 2/4/6 to the Maximum Dexterity Bonus of your armor and armor check penalty, and gain 2/4/6 Physical Resistance Rating.

All of this is happiness for The Littlest Assassin–who wasn’t having any problems before. Now with some refinements, Sukitetica is really going to have a blast.

  • Ammunition found in chests will now appear in stacks of 100.
  • Thieves Tools now stack up to one thousand in a stack.

Yes. Useful amounts of ammo for Artemistika, and no more stupid inventory slots wasted on needed tools for Suki.

And now the Good and the Weird:

  • Each Swashbuckler Core enhancement had been erroneously granting an extra +1 Doublestrike. This extra Doublestrike has been removed to match the text.

Whoops. I guess Flynncletica’s been a bit overpowered. Oh, well. She’s still fun to play, even with an earlier Update 24 adjustment to Single Weapon Fighting. I’m all for balance, however.

  • The Crucible
    • The optional objectives at the start of the quest no longer give XP.
    • XP for completing the quest has been boosted to be equivalent to the XP removed from optionals.

Not that I play this quest alone, and not as often before it was demoted as a Gianthold flagging quest–but removing the XP from the little manipulations you can do with the NPCs need to still present an advantage to the adventurers. I can’t remember if these added an extra chest or made the end-fights easier, but I guess I understand the balancing.

  • Marketplace
    • A new teleporter has been located in the Marketplace.
    • There is a new NPC near the Airship Tower that tells players how to get to the Temple of Elemental Evil.
      Vertigo, the Crafting tutorial NPC, has moved next to the big pillar between the Airship Tower and the new Teleporter.
    • Kipling Vranch, a Collectibles Trader, has been moved to Vertigo’s old spot.
    • Zerchi Spire-Keeper, who takes players to the Restless Isles, has moved south of his old location, and is now near the Auctioneer Churchwarden.
    • Kupper-Nickel, who takes players to Zawabi’s Refuge, has moved west of the Airship Tower along with some of his friends.
    • Loghan d’Deneith, who gives the quest Gladewatch Outpost Defense, has moved west of his old spot to the entrance of House Deneith.
    • Jasper Cruikshank, who gives the quest Archer Point Defense, has moved west of his old spot to the entrance of House Deneith.

Finally, a teleporter in the Marketplace!

  • Trapmaking
    • Traps that deal damage now show floaty-text damage numbers, and report in the Combat Log like most damage.
    • The time to place traps has been reduced to 1 second.
    • The time for traps to “arm” after being placed has been reduced to 1 second.
    • The general cooldown on placing traps has been reduced from fifteen seconds to eight seconds.
    • Small and Weak elemental traps now have a larger damage area, matching Average traps.
    • Device Workstations now have recipes for elemental traps from minimum levels 13-27.

Rogues that can be realistic Trapmasters! This is awesome news as we also get Epic Traps! The reduction of deployment time means a great deal, too. I might make that Mechanic soon after all.

So, when The Update of Existential Evil is finally over for Turbine tonight, we’ll all get some new things to play with, especially Rogues.

And when I heard that Wil Wheaton has lent his voice talents to the new quest, I smiled. DDO is old but still has some street cred for those who care.

See you in game.

Purple Haze

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Purple haze, all in my brain
Lately things they don’t seem the same
Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why
Excuse me while I kiss this guy

(Well, I think that’s how it goes.)

Poison is a highly underestimated attack. I don’t know of others that talk much about it.

The reborn Ryncletica knows better. At level 11, she’s still using two of the level 4 Tiefling Assassin’s Blade to mow down enemies that are three times the weapon’s level–and shows no sign of stopping.

I recently posted Ryncletica’s build in greater detail as a favor. While doing that I learned about the Primal Avatar’s Epic Moment and a lesser ability that also has Poison damage with a stacking effect similar to Ninja Poison. However–it might not work if my attacks aren’t still piercing or slashing.

I’m so looking forward to returning to Epic play. But for now I wanted to show just how deadly Ninja Poison can be–more so than when Kiricletica went Viper Style on many, many enemies during her first life.

Everything about Ryncletica is venomous. Every attack she makes delivers a Poison dose: the Tiefling blade, Venomed Blade effect, Sting of the Ninja on critical hits, and Poison Soul Ninjutsu on Touch of Despair strikes.

When Ninja Poison kicks in, even in small stacks, the vulnerability effect takes hold very, very quickly with that much Poison damage seeping into the pores of any enemy.

The result is that purple damage numbers from Poison appear almost immediately on most enemies I attack. Even if I switch targets, any enemies I’ve previously attacked are still being damaged by Ninja Poisoning.

Isolated enemies are either paralyzed first and then hacked very quickly away. Tougher orange-names might be paralyzed and hacked away. Red-named bosses get Touch of Despair attacks to weaken their fortification and get the full Ninja Poison dosage to rid them of their hit points.

Recently, I took both Kiricletica and Ryncletica through “Hiding in Plain Sight” Elite. Kiri prefers no hirelings. Despite her Single Weapon Fighting, her Half-Elf Cleric dilettante healing, healing amplification, her low-kill tactics and similar defenses to Ryn, at level 12, it was hard on Kiri to make it through the quest. By the boss fight, the three orange-named lieutenants were more threatening because Kiri’s weaker saves kept getting her held by Hazadil’s dancing-balls.

But Ryncletica, at level 11, had it easier. With the hireling out of combat and parked away in case of HP crisis, Ryn snuck up to the bosses, quickly paralyzed and slew one of the orange-named lieutenants and sent the other two on a goose-chase, with Hazadil trying to hold Ryn in dancing-balls. But Ryn’s saves were too strong.

When Hazedil made the mistake of coming down from his perch, Ryn poured on the poison and the boss died in a fraction of the time that it took Kiri and her faster melee speed.

I’m usually conservative in leveling the Ninja Spies. I try to have at least a 1-level advantage when entering an Elite quest (that is, I’ll enter a level 12 Elite quest on character level 13).

But Ryncletica’s power and her higher defense for her level is allowing me to match levels or even enter below Elite difficulty level.

And baby needs a pair of Envenomed Blades with greater Poison damage.

Video Example

Talk is cheap. Here is a video of Ryncletica carving up things in “Eyes of Stone” Elite, two levels under, using level 4 shortswords.

Watch all the purple. There’s purple everywhere. Purple haze, all in their brains. And spleen, and many other body parts.

Click on the CC to see captions.

U.S. Holiday

This week is more like a fourteen-day version. Things may be quiet on the blog this week while I enjoy family time during the Thanksgiving holiday and prepare for yet another week-long business trip immediately after. Let’s hope the online gods will grant us stronger wifi at our base hotel this time.

Ninjas and Assassins Revisited: Tainted Love

Ninja and assassin squad on approach. Trust me, they're here.

Ninja and assassin squad on approach. Trust me, they’re here.

I drew some consternation from readers when making my favorable comparison of Ninja Spies to Rogue Assassins some time ago.

With a Rogue Assassin of my own that’s working very well as well as several ninja variations, I thought I’d make a fresher comparison and contrast of the class trees, especially with the introduction of a new class tree.

A fun fact: the two classes come from a common real-life archetype. The word “assassin” comes from the Middle Eastern name hashshashin. The name implies that these early killers were sometimes fortified for their duties by hashish, a narcotic I hear goes great with baked goods.

Ninjas, likely originating in China before Japan, and known more formally as shinobi, are merely the hashshashin’s Eastern counterpart. In DDO, of course, the connections of their assassination skills are divided between two D&D classes: Monk and Rogue. Female ninja are known as kunoichi, which I use for my clan.

Two sides of the same coin, really. Saying “ninja assassin” is as redundant as saying “wet water.”

Advantage: Suki – Spycraft

I know I’m very late to the game on this subject, but I’m really enjoying the Use Magic Device skill. As much as I’m able to bring some gear and train in some martial techniques for my kunoichi, the advantages gained in using wands and scrolls or equipping items outside of their normal requirements brings extra diversity to both the role-play flavor and the overall functionality of my Assassin, Sukitetica.

I note time and again that adding UMD cross-class skill points to a Monk is a waste. I still hold to that. A UMD of 24 is arguably the best that a Heroic single-classed Monk can do without bankruptcy (11 cross-class maximum plus CHA modifier of +5 with CHA 8 base, a +5 tome and a +6 enhancement item to get CHA 20, with a Voice of the Master +1 Luck bonus and an alchemical +3 from a House Deneith CHA skills potion).

That allows no-fail Blur and Invisibility and a few other minor protections, maybe Nightshield. I know there are other things to add here, but they aren’t going anywhere close to useful if you can’t reach the next best number, 40, without compromising stealth and jump and Concentration skills or equipped items to do it. Going Half-Elven with a Cleric dilettante is still more prudent.

But now, with a more open mind and greater study of the UMD article on DDO Wiki, at least I have a greater appreciation of the skill and what it could bring to any Monk that really, really wants it.

But I digress. UMD ability with an Assassin is completely Batman-esque in its utility.

Sukitetica, pushing Level 14, can get a solid UMD 24 with items alone. She has only a +1 CHA tome consumed, and awaits her 1750 favor to get a +2 tome that she’ll read and then use a +3 Upgrade tome in the bank for more modifier-based points. With some House Deneith skill potions and a couple more items, she should have UMD 27 temporarily for some more immediate needs.

She can now use Invisibility scrolls. They last for 2 minutes 30 seconds or so,  longer than Ryncletica’s 1-minute Shadow Veil ki-activated invisibility, but have one disadvantage: It’s a verbal spell. I cannot use it willy-nilly in some stealth moments while I’m too close to enemies that may hear my chanting. For close quarters, I better keep some Invisibility potions at the ready.

Case in point: I took Suki into a near-perfect Heroic Elite “The Claw of Vulkoor” run recently. I had noisemaker traps to move some stubborn, camping scorpions away to pacify the guardians very easily. But doing work on the dreaded sixth guardian, with many other roaming scorpions afoot, I neglected to renew my Invisibility before proceeding. I pacified the guardian after getting all to move with a noisemaker, but not before a roaming scorpion saw me and blew that XP objective.

In contrast, Ryncletica made a Hard run of the same quest. She had to brute-force the pressure-plate on the camping sixth scorpion but got it pacified without detection. It was the seventh and final guardian that would not cooperate. I couldn’t make enough noise with throwing stars or breaking stuff in the nearby tomb to lure the thing off its nesting atop the last pressure plate. I could only reveal myself to force the guardian to fight me, losing that XP bonus.

Blur and Nightshield are on the table for Suki, as are Flaming Sphere scrolls. As Teacher Saekee noted, these are big ol’ rolling hate magnets that are hard to kill. If I can deploy one of these against a mob, I can sneak-attack and assassinate to my heart’s content without the use of a meat-shield hireling to attract attention in some locales.

Advantage: Ryn – Poison and Stat-Damage

Level 10 Ryncletica’s go-to weaponry are either two Tiefling Assassin’s Blades (still level 4 items) or a Tiefling blade with Sting, which delivers a poison-stat damaging effect like the Assassin’s so-called poison attacks. It’s actually Poison damage that attracts me as Ninja Poison stacks magnify any Poison enhancement damage from the Tiefling blades, and weapons with the Poison prefix, as well as poison damage from the Envenomed Blades, not so far away.

Both blades have a Ruby of the Endless Night added to them for negative levels on Vorpal, which cushions the blow of not training in the Ninjutsu effect Wave of Despair for spamming mass neg-levels.

I’m not disparaging stat-damage at all. In fact, I rely on it as it increases my ability to take out an enemy in a hurry. The beauty of the Tiefling blade is it’s Keen property for improved critical hits (it will be a bit longer before I can add the feat) as well as its Wounding property that knocks off CON points, weakening foes faster. I spam Suki’s three poison stat-damaging attacks while sneak-attacking u the same keys I use on Ryn and other Monks to spam ki elemental attacks.

In a direct fight, Ryn’s blades simply mow through anyone she encounters as her Touch of Despair and Precision stance attacks also grind through any fortification while the poison quickly sets in.

In a couple of levels, Ryn can use her Vengeful and Vampiric Fury Shortswords for more stat-damaging happiness.

When I wasn’t reading up on UMD, I’ve been studying what other Poison damage effects I can stack into Ryncletica’s build. There’s not much left.

  • She’s got Venomed Blades now as part of her poison-master build, with two more ranks to train there. I already noted the Harper Agent melee power training to magnify this ability’s damage.
  • She’d like to complete her Red Fens Vulkoor’s Cunning set for 10% Threat reduction and the Vulkoorim poison stat-damaging effect from the Ring of Venom and Necklace of Venom.
  • Ryn still wears her Jidz-Tet’ka, which doses a paralyzing poison on occasion while in Ocean Stance.
  • The “Foundation of Discord” and “A Cry for Help” quests in Gianthold might drop a Quiver of Poison that will add ranged Poison damage to my shuriken (provided that I use a Cannith-crafted one that will bypass the Sting of the Ninja bug and deliver Ninja Poison properly again).
  • Greater Poison weapons on loot-generated weapons are quite welcome, but rare to find.

All-in-all, getting the Envenomed Blades back in my hands (and, if very very lucky, finding the pieces to make Epic blades) is the best I can do in the Heroic equipment category, aside from improving her Ninja Poison techniques during combat.

But let me know if I’ve missed an item, enhancement or even Epic Destiny that delivers poison.

Deuce: Stealth Tactics and Attack

While Suki is more dependent on something else gaining attention for her attacks to work best, Ryncletica still has to behave like a sneaky cat to ambush something. Neither character works best in the open for too long at their level without a supporting character since they cannot battle-heal very well.

Thus, Ryn and Suki take to the shadows.

Suki has stronger Hide/Move Silently powers, thanks to a being a Halfling Rogue. Ryn’s not far behind but can also go invisible at-will and more quietly than Suki, as noted. But Ryn’s invisibility requires ki, which is still a precious commodity to generate.

Ryn is a better sustained attack than Suki while in the open, increasing damage in one way or another the longer she fights. But when Suki can gain the advantage of surprise, her Assassinate powers can sometimes take out 2 people at once and then retreat to do that again. I’m just learning how that effect works, turning your character to another target just after using the attack.

Ryn is fine-tuning her Dark finishers. What she cannot paralyze, she can mute. What she cannot mute, she blinds. Blindness really helps avoid direct attacks since few enemies can remove it; it’s effectively 50% Concealment. She now has Flash Bang for mass-blinding and dazing escapes.

Suki likes daggers. After completing a run through the “Cult of the Six” chain, she had a few choices for the chain reward. While another Quicksilver Cassok for the Monks would have been fine, she gravitated to a little dagger named Sheridan’s Wrack. It didn’t seem all that special at first with Keen and one Red augment slot.

And then she equipped it. In Suki’s hands, the crit-range dived to 17-20 and, with Blade Specialization trained, went to 15-20 with a x3 crit modifier. The Wrack also has a 1.50(2d3) damage profile, making it my new death-blade for high damage, no-frills assassinations.

Ryn can boost her DEX for more and more damage, and Assassins share the DEX to-hit and to damage ability. But Suki has a new option: Train the Versatile Adept abilities in the Harper Agent tree to use her INT for to-hit and damage.

I was worried that, somehow, the DEX to-hit feature would countermand that Harper training, but this option should work like the old Weapon Finesse effect. As long as Suki’s INT is the higher ability score, then INT to-damage would be used. This means I can pump her INT for both attack and to ensure her Assassinate DCs are as strong as they can be. I’ll still need DEX for reflex. If I’m wrong, I’ll just reset the Harper tree but the extra INT is still a very good thing to do.

It’s too bad that I can’t have either as an NPC to the other while in gameplay. Ryn and Suki would be an unstoppable death-dealing duo.

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