Kiri and the Family Business

This Marut put a hit on me throughout the game lately. I decided to put out a hit of my own.

This Marut put a hit on me throughout the game lately. I decided to put out a hit of my own.

I had planned to write up a summary of Kiricletica’s attempt to complete “Tempest’s Spine” on Elite as a Level 12 character.

Other parties interfered. I imagined that an inquiry to eliminate me went a little like this:

Boss: I represent the interests of those who lost loved ones to a
Ninja Spy known as Kiricletica. My associates promise their
friendship if you would do them a small favor.
Contractors: What's that?
Boss: Ensure that Kiricletica receives the death she is due.
--

Attempt 1: Enter Tempest’s Spine on Elite. Easily sneaked by everything up to the iron golem. Dispatched it and the Fire Reaver. The Ice Render appeared, appeared to smile and zapped me instantly cold and dead with a Polar Ray.

Attempt 2: This time, in on Hard difficulty. Boosted my defenses against Ice this time. Entered the Lair of Fire and Ice and traveled up the slope to clear a couple of giants before pulling the Ice Render. One giant laughs and then uses Destruction on me. Kiri apparently didn’t have her Deathblock item equipped. Dead.

Realizing that completing the mountain probably wasn’t going to happen that day, I downshifted to lower difficulty quests I hadn’t completed since I knew they required more character chutzpah than I possessed early on. These didn’t end well, either.

Spies in the House: Elite difficulty. All went quite well until Kiri became one with the second electric floor guarded by the elementals, despite having some Protection from Electricity and Resist Electric buffs to handle one or two hits. Electrocuted.

A Small Problem: Elite difficulty. My first mistake was to sneak by all the animals at the start. They added to the chewing that Brawnpits suffered as we tried to reach the caravan. My healing scrolls were no match for the mobs and the proud giant fell. Alive, but escorted ally dead, leaving me disgraced.

It was then that finally got the hint.

Apparently my personal interests have conflicted with an Inevitable, a construct that doesn’t care for adventurers that cheat death.

He didn’t even have to drop his current mission to punish a Drow vampire that’s seen too many years. The Marut simply hired some inexpensive no-named contractors to off me no matter what quest I attempted.

Dying by myself, I can handle. But disgracing me and my clan by having an innocent on my watch die? This presents a significant and undesirable problem of dishonor to the family business, you see.

So, realizing that the Inevitable would keep serving me death almost everywhere I went that day, I decided, against all rationality, to go to the mattresses.

In The Jungles of Khyber

I’ve been keeping a Hard Bravery Bonus going to keep experience points as strong as I could without committing to suicidal attempts where the Inevitable just wasted his dough. But I try Elite at least once if I’m at least 2 levels up from the quest difficulty.

Attempt 1: I entered in on Elite. I made the fatal error of hanging around in the small room where the scorpions lock you in and try to eat you before you can open the door to the first shrine and the overhead snipers and mages.

You’re still going down, marut. Interfering with my family business was…disrespectful.

Attempt 2: After some shopping to get a Muffled Veneer, slotting it with a Deathblock gem, and then wearing a Resistance +6 cloak, I returned to the Drow cave on Hard difficulty.

This time, I stayed in stealth mode as I entered the scorpion ambush. You’d be surprised how some hidden enemies just don’t activate while you’re in Sneak mode. Now, that ambush door leading to the first shrine is trapped as are several others in this quest, so I quickly pulled the lever and Abundant Stepped away before the trap could hit me. After a quick check of defenses I lept up to the Drow killing perch and removed the resistance there before cutting up the scarrow and scorpions left behind.

With a sigh of relief, I moved on to the room of stilled earth elementals. The Inevitable shouts down that I’m officially in his way, proclaiming that I’ll die like Veil.

I briefly searched my memory for an emote that could show that bastard a non-spell version of the Finger of Death using one of my hand. Honor is everything to a ninja, my friend. You may personify the law, Mr. Marut, but today, I embody the will of revenge.

As the elementals awoke, I used Wave of Despair to neg-level them to make them easier to dispatch. I carefully pulled the last one around the corner and away from the sealed door that would open to reveal a band of Drow I had no intention of fighting.

From here, Kiri went full ninja. There weren’t just patrols of Drow from the elementals to the next shrine near the encampment’s boundary–there were dozens of Drow. An army.

Conservation of Ninjitsu ensured that I moved fast, invisible and unseen through them all, through a long series of cavern corridors, finally ending at a small patrol at a campfire in the hallway adjacent to the shrine. Some throwing stars lured those three Drow to their doom.

The iron key needed to open the sealed door were guarded by two more Drow facing the shrines but not me. I opened the chest and took the key in stealth, without disturbing their contemplation of the shrine’s fine craftsmanship. Good men. They appreciate a few of the finer things. I respect that.

The Marut’s Bodyguards

Out of the frying pan and into the fire as I unlocked the door leading to enemies on the Marut’s payroll. While they themselves aren’t the target, they had to but put down. This wasn’t personal. I know what it means to have a job to do. I’ll just be doing my job better than they will of their own.

Experience told me that at least two beholders guarded the central forked hallway into the mushroom patch where the sealed door and three INT runes awaited.

Out came the Snowstar again to pull the first beholder, punishing it with Ninja Poison. Some quick work with my shortswords ended its life without serious problems. I had to take on the second more directly but it ended nominally as well, with only some of my buffs dispelled.

Two beholders remained, one a red-named guard. Both fell to the Snowstar, thrown fr0m extreme range.

I had recently read an +3 INT tome for Kiri to work on getting Combat Expertise later, so having this Monk use the required 11 INT runes wasn’t a bother.

Moving on, I chose to take out the iron golem and its keeper for a chest but, more importantly, for a better perch for the last of the resistance before I could reach the Marut.

I floated down to stand on the wall above the geyser and used the trusty Ninja Poison-enhanced Snowstar to range whatever stood in the first of three waves of attackers near the final shrine. I had to leap down to activate the last two waves but moved to the nooks and crannies of the area to fight with fewer enemies at a time.

With the way clear, it was time for the dreaded fight against the highest paid mercenaries on the Marut’s payroll. I prepared myself for death; it was, as they say, inevitable. After pulling the lone Drow in their party to dispatch him, I carefully lured the red-named beholder and the troll into the larger path so I could run back to the shrine after death but while keeping those two out of visual range where they’d see me on resurrection and camp the shrine to kill me over and over.

I pulled off half of the beholder’s hit points before expiring. I ran to the resurrection shrine, hiding behind it as I returned to life and built up some ki. Once the death penalty wore off, I pulled the troll successfully into the shrine and ended him. One to go.

I prepped a Touch of Despair finisher with Poisoned Soul activated; if I were to die again, I wanted to DoT that beholder with lots of poison. I sneaked up and started my attack, injecting a massive dose of poison into the beholder using both some Poisoned Darts and the poison finisher, striking as best I could. The beholder spun and evaded but DoTs of 30-40 damage began popping over his head, quickly draining all but the last of its HP. A single sword hit destroyed it.

Now, it’s payback time for all the deaths. All the dishonor. This isn’t business, Marut. Honor is very personal.

It wasn’t a complex fight. I hadn’t any adamantine weapons I remembered at the time (remembering after the fight that my Holy handwraps were adamantine-laced). But I never, ever forget to bring in an Anarchic weapon into this quest. I put on some  simple +2 Anarchic handwraps and spoke to Veil.

Normally I’m not into assassinations for personal gain. I left more than several chests behind me, unopened, as part of my work. Today felt a little different.

The Marut was no match for me, and he went down.

I sheathe my sword, take the coins.

My honor of and that of my dojo is restored. When the Inevitable revives in Dolurrh, I’ve arranged to have him wake up with a dead beholder’s head in his bed. Ninjas are typically not so outspoken, you understand. In this case, however, it was important to leave a clear message, no, a promise, that no one could refute.

So, now that the death-curse is off for a time (at least, that’s what I believe, anyway), it’s back to review my plans to eliminate Sor’jek Incanni.

Shining Stars: Boosting the Damage

Szyncletica1Szyncletica, my third Ninja Spy, who specializes in throwing stars as her primary weapon, had minor teething pains, all expected. Perhaps I should say that her player had teething pains, primarily since a thrower is a different breed of Monk, like Henshin Mystics.

Nevertheless, she’s extremely fun to play and is my current obsession. She’s gained 7 levels since I rolled her up last week.

I think she takes down enemies faster at-level than either my Artificer, the semi-retired Arcammedes (my resident crafter) or my Arcane Archer, Pynthetica, now recently TR’d to become a Half-Elf Arcane Archer Monk (just to see how it works).

If you’re building one, take note of a few things.

Unarmed Fighting and Low STR

You don’t have good kung fu, frankly. With a very low STR (8), you don’t cause sufficient damage for many enemies. It’s good to have some handwraps when some oozes show up, but otherwise your power to damage comes from piercing and slashing weapons since your ninja training uses Dexterity to determine all damage–except for unarmed fighting, where STR still rules.

You might also get gravely surprised when you need to carry things (Gwylan’s Stand, Irestone Inlet, Stormcleave Outpost) or open barred doors (Proof is in the Poison, Cult of the Six) and find that your STR is so low that you can’t bust the door down or pull a lever. Getting hit by a Ray of Enfeeblement just once could leave you helpless and unable to even drink a Lesser Restoration potion, much less fight.

You must carry and wear extra STR items to give yourself enough carrying capacity, or run with a friend who does have the STR. Switching to Fire Stance will also help.

Pull out your shortswords and not your handwraps for close quarter fighting in some cases, save oozes. Shuriken are slashing weapons and they will cause some oozes to break up into several.

(A bit of useful news: I learned that, since Update 11 or so, all hireling weapons have the Everbright property so they won’t break them against oozes. Let them do the dirty work.)

Rocks and other Elementals

They’re often resistant to slashing damage caused by stars. They can’t be vorpaled. You’ll need to work on an elemental bane weapon, get really lucky to find a banishing star, or take to some shortswords again.

If you’re gathering up returning shuriken and can craft, here’s an opportunity to make an Icy Burst of Greater Elemental Bane star, if you are fortunate to have the skill and necessary ingredients. In “Taming the Flames,” Szyn’s very high Reflex save and Snowstar (Icy Burst) made this quest a breeze with completion of all optionals.

Ki Generation

You aren’t generating any ki as a thrower. Ranged attacks don’t generate it.

That makes trying to use Ten Thousand Stars for a burst of damage a bit impossible with less than 20 ki. That’s why training up the Henshin Mystic ability, Contemplation, to its maximum will give a passive ki regeneration to keep your stable pool filled enough to use this ki ability. WIS is needed for ki quantity, but Concentration is essential.

At level 10, you should have +2 passive regeneration that should keep you hale and hearty if you play to the class strengths and stay in stealth to keep the maximum ki regeneration for when you need it. It’s not just for attack for to refresh your HP with Wholeness of Body.

On hitting level 12, I gained Greater Ocean Stance, so now I can push to +3 regeneration when the need arises.

Weapons and Attack Speed

You’re wielding a shuriken. It’s the lowest base damage weapon in the game (1d2). A dart has 1d4. A Club of the Holy Flame, for crying out loud,  has a greater base damage than a throwing star. If we could lob spitballs, I’d imagine they’d do more base damage than a star.

Your martial ki attacks also won’t work with ranged attacks. The only damage from the star comes from the star itself and the standard weapon damage calculations based on your stats and enhancements.

Your mission is to use any abilities you can to maximize the damage per strike as well as the number of strikes per attack. That’s why the Shiradi Shuricannon build emphasizes DEX for a percentage chance of extra stars per attack as well as using Ninja Spy to gain DEX to damage, foregoing STR for damage calculation. WIS is used with Ten Thousand Stars to boost the number of stars thrown and number of attacks as well.

I just learned from the build’s author, Firewall, that Ranged Alacrity effects don’t work with thrown weapons. Pooh. At least Wind Stance helps here, and additional stars per attack certainly do.

You have only three named stars. Good luck in getting a star with common but important prefixes such as banishing, disruption and paralyzing. It’s not impossible, but you’ll likely need great luck in getting one. You’ll need to look to challenges and Green Steel for options, as well as some crafting, of course. If you are very lucky, you’ll find a returning star with a red augment slot.

Thankfully I have a handful of characters that can run the Vale flagging quests, gather up Shavarath stones and ingredients to make Szyn a GS base shuriken (that only binds to character on equipping), and then have these characters run “The Shroud” to gather ingredients to get her a powerful weapon very soon, before she reaches the Vale herself.

With Improved Critical: Thrown now added, the crit range is shown as 15-20. That’s not a typo. It’s still X2 damage, but that’s a very big window of opportunity to generate damage. I’m seeing criticals (wielding a Seeker VI kama) in the 120-140 range–and of course, multiple stars often proc with similar numbers at the same time.

Lightning II, Crushing Wave and Greater Disruption stars, in that order, are on my list. On running Threnal with guildies this weekend, I had to craft a Metalline Flametouched Iron Shuriken of Bleeding to penetrate the DR of the many Xoriat Renders there. It should hold me until Green Steel opportunities come about.

Damn that I’ll need to get several Large Splintered Horns to make these base items so that she’ll be able to throw Shards of Power at them to complete them. I’ve got one, so I’m hoping to barter a few more from guildmates.

And there’s also the Eveningstar Challenges for the spelltouched stars.

A star isn’t stopping anything in its tracks immediately. I’ve taken a page out of my Arcane Archer experience and scribbled some ninja know-how in it to come up with two tactics…

Distance, DoTs and Do-si-Dos

A high Spot and the right graphics distance renderings means that Szyn can lodge a star in the eyeball of a mephit from hundreds of meters away. Even if I have to throw several stars, it takes more time for something to chase me down than for it to die of multiple stars to the body.

By being far out of a mob’s Spot range, you are a highly effective sniper, able to down enemies without attracting any enemies surrounding your target. Using elevation and obstacles to limit the enemy’s ability to reach you is a bonus. A star-thrower completely dominates wide-area wilderness areas (the Devil Battlefield and the Shavarath area of the Vale of Twilight might be exceptions since enemy teleport is common there). Szyn’s venture through the Red Fens with her Snowstar turned the place into a dramatic killing field.

Standing still is key to success. The Archer’s Focus weapon stance of Precise Shot builds up cumultative bonuses to attack and damage to magnify the results.

Complementing the pelting is the Damage over Time effect of Ninja Poison. We discussed its potency and that of other poisons recently. When enemies start getting purple DoTs, their fate is sealed, even if I’m forced to run.

I’ve been combining DoTs and distance to fight orange and red-named bosses, as well as mobs, by dancing around enemies by circle strafing. This avoids damage from straight-line magic and melee attacks, leaving Szyn’s spell resistances, Evasion and saves to aid against tracking magic damage.

It’s only challenge is having enough room to run about, as well as my own game play in using the right keyboard and mouse controls to keep my hands from cramping. I’ve learned to mix in mouselook mode but I find it annoying since I lose access to my toolbars in this mode.

The results, however, are very very pleasing. I’m becoming surprised how few bosses are poison immune, gaining such immunity, if at all, on Elite difficulty. The three bosses at the end of “Frame Work” received catastrophic Ninja Poisoning, as high as 70 points per 3 seconds, that made short work of them. Even the ogre mage, whose kind disappears to regenerate after so much damage, received DoTs while intangible.

Some enemies don’t take well to being poisoned. I applied heavy DoTs to Hesstess in Elite “Eyes of Stone.” She returned the favor, I think, with an immediate dose of Medusa Snake Venom that zapped 25 CON off of me, killing me instantly.

Stealth and Sneak Attacks

Szyn knows how to use people. (She’s a Faerun Drow. Duh.) Her primary need for extra bodies, as with some others, is to keep the aggro situated elsewhere while she’s at work.

She’s almost always in stealth, recharging her ki and staying out of immediate detection. As her party charges in, she waits for the right moment before she strikes. Sneak attack damage builds up from Ninja training, as well as Ninja Poison. Later, the “No Mercy” ability increases damage against held and helpless foes.

She takes to the high ground whenever there is some. She never attacks first unless the distance between her and the mobs guarantees that she won’t pull her target and his friends to her and that the target goes down before it reaches her.

If required, she uses her Shadow Veil for invisibility in times where being seen is certain death and to give some incorporeality insurance if fighting is inevitable at close range.

The party-as-meat-shield concept isn’t new. But this mode makes it harder for Szyn to solo in that a cleric hireling (needed for healing) isn’t often a good meat shield. They have average DPS and Threat and so-so defenses. Up to level 13, I had a great relationship with Fayden Maelith, a durable L10 Cleric that fights better than she heals but does watch out for me, holds aggro well, and doesn’t bolt or do anything unpredictable. We took on “A Small Problem” on Elite and dominated the tiefling masses. She took aggro and guarded the giant well while I blasted the mages from behind. Lately, Flagon the Cleric and his Blade Barrier has been generally reliable.

I’ve had barely more successes than failures in Szyncletica’s ventures through the House Deneith quests. As noted, narrow corridors aren’t as favorable as wide expanses where Szyn can attack from very afar, while strafing or on high. I did a few Three Barrel Cove adventures and dominated them with ranged abilities.

In “Guard Duty,” I stood atop the bridge of one ship and blew things away with ease. No crew members died, and I let the Cleric hireling go nuts in fighting, which also helped the crew as she healed them and ignored me. In “The Troglodyte’s Get” and its sequel, “Old Grey Garl,” Szyn could use ninja stealth and distance to kill at extreme range. That final chest in the first quest, guarded by mages, was all too easy since my attacks greatly exceed their spell range or their ability to get closer before they’re slain. I just have to remember not to attack some enemies before their objective activates–it’s a common quest self-bugging situation.

But doing quests not quite at your level (even on Elite) is easy to boast about. I’m beginning to hit that wall where weapon effectiveness meets quest difficulty.

A return to the Pit late last week was triumphant. There, ninja skills make it easy to get to where you want to go without attracting a lot of attention. Being able to range everything is a bonus.

Protection and Other Gear

I’ve done something on a pure Monk that I’ve not done before. Szyncletica has put aside her Jidz-Tet’ka bracers in favor of Wind Howler Bracers to gain that occasional sonic damage strike. Since Szyn rarely leaves Wind Stance to keep her throwing speed and DEX up, the Jidz were only adding +10 to Jump, something I need only in cases where I need to jump higher in stealth and its -20 penalty to that skill.

So now I realize that the usual Monk equipment isn’t necessarily the most ideal. My AA experience isn’t completely helping since a lot of the functionality that Pynthetica possessed had originated from her AA and Ranger skills and less from the gear. More STR (for carrying capacity) is welcome, but WIS is most needed for improving ki and Ten Thousand Stars.

Time to drop a line on the Shuricannon thread for more help.

Poisoning the Players in the PUG

We’ve gained notoriety,
And caused much anxiety
In the Audubon Society
With our games.
They call it impiety,
And lack of propriety,
And quite a variety
Of unpleasant names.
But it’s not against any religion
To want to dispose of a pigeon.

So if Sunday you’re free,
Why don’t you come with me,
And we’ll poison the pigeons in the park.
And maybe we’ll do
In a squirrel or two,
While we’re poisoning pigeons in the park.

We’ll murder them (all) amid laughter and merriment.
Except for the few we take home to experiment.
My pulse will be quickenin’
With each drop of strychnine
We feed to a pigeon.
It just takes a smidgen!
To poison a pigeon in the park.

(Tom Lehrer’s “Poisoning the Pigeons in the Park” is a sardonically funny little ditty. For the complete version by the master sage himself on video, go here.)

The Drow of the Underdark: Poison-laced Poison with Poison Frosting. Oh, and they look cooler than your armor kit rags.

The Drow of the Underdark: Poison-filled Poison Cheesecake and Beefcake with Poison Frosting. And their armor and dresses are to DIE for.

Update 19’s changes are far sweeping than any update I’ve experienced in my three years of game play.

One of these changes is the significance of poison.

Before Update 14, poisoning was merely a nuisance for most players. You’d find and use a Proof against Poison item to give effective immunity to what poisons were out there. Monks gained early immunity to all poisons. Poison was just…poison. There weren’t any variations I can remember from back then. By the time your character’s Fortitude saves were sufficiently high, no one worried about poison again until they reincarnated.

And then the Menace of the Underdark expansion appeared and things–that is, players–took on a different shade of green.

The Proof is in New Poison Types

Poison gained three new variations: Natural, magical and supernatural. Proof against Poison items now only protect you from natural poisons and gave you saving throws against magical poisons based primarily on the Proof gear plus your Fortitude save.

As many a player learned quite quickly when fighting the Spinner of Shadows in the quest of the same name, your natural and magical poison resistances and immunities did nothing against the Spinner’s Strong Spider Demon Venom, a supernatural poison that would absolutely kill you if you didn’t loiter around the fragment of the Silver Flame to rid you of the powerful effects.

As for my characters, I didn’t worry about poison at all to this point as Monks gained poison immunity. So it was quite the shock when the Spinner’s poison took me down fast and brutally. As I learned later, the Monk’s granted feat against poison, Diamond Body, was reworked with Update 14 to protect a Monk only from natural poisons.

Over the last few updates, players were a bit more careful around the Spinner but weren’t that concerned about poison damage from anywhere else. With Update 19, that thinking has got to be changing rapidly.

Poison is now a significant and increasingly common damage effect that comes from many sources and forms.

Many natural poisons are warded off with a Proof against Poison item, as in the past. These include bites from spiders, spores from zombies, scorpions and bugbears.

And then comes the pain: Magical poisons are abundantly found in several enemies. Thankfully, some Monks can take advantage of their own abilities in this realm.

(FuzzyDuck81 noted an omission to this article on its first posting.) Thankfully, Poison Neutralization potions and spells rid you of the long-term effects of most poisons and give you temporary immunity from that poison for a time. But it won’t remove existing damage caused by the poison. You’ll need Restoration or Panacea for that.

Magically Deadly

In the past, poisons didn’t take hold as well from enemy attacks. Today, with the delineation of poisons, enemy weapons will deliver specific poisons that primarily target your ability stats. Some of these poisons give a one-time damage effect that reduces that ability until you use a poison neutralization spell or potion, such as from poison traps. If you are poisoned, that familiar greenish “H” appears over your head, telling you that you should drink that potion right away before you’re forced to use some kind of Restoration spell or potion to cure what damaged you.

But now some poisons deliver a damage-over-time, or “DoT” effect. As anyone who has or knows of a Cleric and their Divine Punishment spell, a DoT attack sends stacking, cumultative damage as often as it is applied, often causing damage to enemies even if they have run away or when they aren’t receiving any other attacks by your party.

Attacks from these enemies will cause a special untyped DoT effect if you are unfortunate in being attacked.

  • Green Dragon Poison: “This powerful and magical poison of the dragon attacks your body.” Can stack multiple times, damage over time effect. The quest “Don’t Drink the Water” has a dragon that delivers this in spades.
  • Drow Weapon Poison: Can stack multiple times, damage over time effect. Found on the Faerun Drow.
  • Purple Worm Tail Venom: “This underdark creature has a powerful poison!” Can stack multiple times, damage over time effect. Found on the worms of the Faerun Drow in the Underdark and in the quest “In the Belly of the Beast.”

Anyone that has an Epic character now has experienced the Drow poison effects more and more now. Even if you can absorb physical and magical damage, their poison will eat at you for additional nastiness. Fighter weapons are coated with it. This is especially bad against your hirelings since they cannot react as well to DoT effects.

Most magical poisons, like most natural poisons, give a one-time effect. The difference is that few, if any characters have immunity to magical poisons and must rely on their enchantment resistances and other abilities to slow down, if not stop, the poisons from toxifying them. These magical poisons include:

  • Arcanaloth: You have been poisoned by an arcanaloth and may soon suffer additional Strength damage. (These are known more popularly as Yugoloths, the dog-like sages hanging about in Amrath and the Demonweb.)
  • Fire Reaver: You have been poisoned by a fire reaver and may soon suffer additional Strength damage.
  • Flesh Render: You have been poisoned by a flesh render and may soon suffer additional Constitution damage.
  • Iron Golem: You have been poisoned by an iron golem and may soon suffer additional Constitution damage. (A golem isn’t organic, but obviously their metal is tainted.)
  • Medusa Snake Venom: You have been poisoned by the snake bite of a Medusa and may soon die. Deals Constitution damage. (Plenty of medusas appear in the Lordsmarch and “Lord of Eyes” quest series.)

Supernaturally Nasty

The ultimate poisons basically kill you by blowing your HP away with DoT effects or a massive cyanide-like shot to your brain to end you immediately. Thankfully, there are only four kinds. The bad news is that you’re likely to encounter every one of them at least once in your character’s life–and one more often than all others.

  • Cursed Contact Poison: You have been poisoned by cursed contact poison and may suffer additional damage until you are cured or you die. This is a curse and a poison effect. Dealt by Glittering treasure near the Horn of Endurance in “The Crucible.” This one’s easy; don’t be greedy.
  • Strong Spider Demon Venom: This spider’s poison is a force of pure evil and unaffected by normal remedies. It’s slow but lethal.  This is the unhappiness given to you freely by the  Spinner of Shadows. Only the Fragment of the Flame will rid you of it.
  • Weak Spider Demon Venom: This spider’s poison is a force of pure evil and unaffected by normal remedies. It’s slow but lethal. The Spinner’s little friends, the Flame Eater and Bloated Flame Eater spiders, also give off nasty damage that only the Fragment of the Flame can remove.
  •  Pit Fiend Venom: You have been poisoned by a pit fiend and may soon die.

Of these, you’ll likely find yourself a surprise victim of Arraetrikos with his potent poison attack with Update 19, anytime you enter the most popular raid in the game, “The Shroud.”

Quintessica and a well-fortified paladin were in a losing fight against Harry in Part 4 not long ago. One moment I was fine, and then I was a soulstone in the penalty box of Part 5. A quick check showed that ignoring the poison indicator above my head was unwise:

  • Poison Injury: Fortitude DC 32 to save. Initially, you get 1d6 CON damage. Untreated, secondary 1000 CON damage.

Ow.

In the past, I don’t think that damage went off as virulently. But now, I’m carrying stacks of neutralization potions, not only for Harry, but for everything.

But enemies aren’t the only ones that can dish out poison damage.

Ninja Poison

Update 19 moved the elemental debuffing enhancements of the Dark Monk into the Henshin Mystic tree, replacing them with Ninjitsu, abilities that can (among other things) inject or forcibly remove Ninja Poison, a DoT poison with powerful cumulative effect.

  • Ninja Poison: Target takes 1d4 points of Poison damage every 3 seconds for 15 seconds. The target’s vulnerability to poison is increased by 5%. This ability can stack up to 20 times. On timer expiration, 5 stacks of Ninja Poison are removed at a time.

Ninja Poison is delivered only with piercing and slashing weapons of a Ninja Spy. You can also use the core ability, Poisoned Darts, to spit a cone of darts. I’ve not had much success with them as the targeting of these things isn’t very good. Further, anything you hit will attack you, so it’s likely an attack that works only if your enemies can’t reach you while you watch them weaken.

You can start your poisoning by using the Ninjitsu ability, Poisoned Soul, to inflict stacks of poison every 6 seconds for 30 seconds. Do the math: It’s 1d4 times 5, or 20d4 that’s sizzling the hell out of what received it, every 3 seconds. By the time an enemy gets the maximum of Ninja Poison stacks (20), the DoT effect is clearly doing dramatic damage.

You can also forcibly pull Ninja Poison out for dramatic damage using Poison Exploit, another Ninjitsu ability. This one’s only useful in prolonged fights–and which fights are those? Orange names, maybe?

Later, ninjas gain the Sting of the Ninja, a weapon stance which adds a stack of poison on critical hits from any piercing and slashing weapon, including ranged weapons such as shurikens.

All of my ninjas use their shortswords but will be using them more to deliver poison more often. While general mobs aren’t going to live long enough to get its full effect, some persistent enemies could stand a DoT. I suspect some players are “meh” about it since poison isn’t an immediate kill effect. But when you encounter those orange-named guys or red-named bosses that do not have poison immunity, you’ll be glad to have this option.

Circle Strafing

My new Drow thrower, Szyncletica, loves to watch Ninja Poison at work. She can target at a very great distance. As the Ninja Poison accumulates and their vulnerability is increased, the poison damage indicator over the enemy’s head goes from normal to purple damage. With additional stars thrown per attack, the odds of anything getting poisoned increase while Szyn takes little or no damage.

And now I’m forcing myself to learn how to circle strafe–running around an enemy or mob, flinging star after star.

You’ll recall the giant fight in the 2nd part of “Redwillow’s Ruins”? You’re mobbed immediately by many giants, trolls and hobgoblins. With a Snowstar in hand, I gathered them and spun the mob to death.

Strafing like this is all too easy to kill a mob since they often cannot keep up with you and haven’t the AI smartness to try to break out of the circle. But it was physically hard to play it at first. I had to hold down my right mouse button and left button while pressing the forward and a side movement key at the same time. Even with a Logitech gamepad, its brutal to do since I have to move the mouse and pick it up carefully to keep the strafing.

Some quick research tells me that the Mouselook key is what I need to touch next time. That’s the one I accidentally touch that ticks me off when my left/right turn keys suddenly go side to side. This way, I should have less cramping and more effective circles, the tighter the better, I think, against single bosses with better speed.