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

build3a

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.

Did Someone Say ‘Raid?’

I have run more raids in the last month than in the last six months, and not one of them has been a PUG.

It’s thanks mostly to a neat idea of my guild’s co-leader. He activated a user chat channel and invited several other guilds that work similiarly to our own to listen in.

The result had turned much like a concept I’ve seen in an gaming anime I’ve mentioned before: “Log Horizon.”

In this show, we see our protagonist, who never joined a guild in the past. Rather, he and several others once formed a super-party that called themselves the “Debouchery Tea Party.” The members came from other guilds or none at all and were legends to other players and guilds for beating the most difficult raids in their D&D-like game, “Elder Tale.”

The user chat channel has formed something much like this. On Fridays and Sundays, members chat and consider what to run, form up and go.

This meta-guild possesses a lot of experience and has a lot of fun in taking on the big raids at any difficulty they want. Only lag is our greatest enemy.

Pynthetica has dived into the most raids. Her Zen Archer role appears to help others in party with trash control and when members are pursued by too much trash. With high defenses, low threat and long range, I can pick off trash, and, keeping stationary, keep up DPS on raid bosses, as typical in “Fire on Thunder Peak.”

Pyn also works well in “Fall of Truth.” Using only Precise Shot, I can target trash, the disciples and The Truthful One without aggroing most of the arena or putting myself too close to danger. Having the ability to give burst DPS for takedowns is beneficial, especially since I don’t have to run to a boss to make it happen. With two burst options (Manyshot or Ten Thousand Stars) every 30 seconds, Pyn is consistent.

Ryncletica has joined in as well. Her switch-hitting DPS of star-throwing or two-weapon fighting works great so far in boss fights and trash clearing. I try to keep her in the rear guard, like Pyn. But Ryn is a solo combat specialist. I’m grooming her as a mini-boss destroyer as she can whittle them down and keep enemies busy while others in party handle the central objectives or concentrate on tanking.

All this raiding helps my own experience and confidence but reinforces the viability of the Poison Master and Zen Archer builds in repeated runs through the most challenging content, including a few runs through Legendary Shroud. We tried a Legendary Hound of Xoriat run but, like Heroic, keeping ever-increasing trash out of the puppy fight was overwhelming us.

Runs into “Defiler of the Just” have also been risky. If lag didn’t kill us, the strategy usually worked. But clearing trash with Epic Wards or as Red Names pushed Pyn’s (and everyone’s) versatility to her limits.

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Hm. Perhaps we should reset and try again. About five too many Pit Fiends.

The raids also allow upgrading of weaponry or obtaining great new items. Pyn now has a Tier 2 Thunder-Forged Longbow—the first tier 2 TF item on any of my characters. Ryn received a potent Outfit of the Celestial Guardian during a Legendary Tempest’s Spine run. Pyn should also be ready to create her first Legendary Green Steel blank longbow sooner than later.

Above all, the politeness, patience and positive attitude of our meta-guild makes for very enjoyable raiding. Opportunities to flag are offered as often as raids to ensure we can keep our raid parties full and powerful. Often, veteran members put their ingredients and named items up for roll to help newer members begin upgrading gear.

Raiding with this group of happy, experienced players put the ‘awesome’ in their “The World is Just Awesome” cooperative teamwork.

This is why Dungeons & Dragons Online is still around to celebrate its 10th anniversary. The world continues to remain filled with awesome. Not just the content, but the players as well.

Thanks to the hard work of everyone at Turbine and to our meta-guildmates. You know who you are.

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.

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!”

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? 🙂

From Tranquility to Serenity

There is a certain joy you feel in renewal, in repentance that makes you appreciate why you love what you love. This was a transforming time that, at the least, should make me a better person, not to mention a nicer player.

There is a certain joy you feel in renewal, in repentance that makes you appreciate why you love what you love. This was a transforming time that, at the least, should make me a better person, not to mention a nicer player.

I’m back.

Lent taught me that I did play DDO too often.

I wasn’t cold turkey throughout Lent, however, having revived my Diablo II interest.

But at least that game can be paused, and I found greater quality time with my family and faith.

I will likely adopt a new play time schedule so DDO, however fun, doesn’t get the better of me, while still allowing time to continue exploring and enjoying all the happiness. While Lent is now over and Eastertide is here, I loved the wave of comparative tranquility that, while problems didn’t go away with a wave of a wand or something, I was more attuned to respond to them and appreciate what I have.

Looks like a lot’s happened during my exodus. Update 25 is coming today. The Temple of Elemental Evil is near. All the Rogue trees are getting a refresh, especially the Assassins and Mechanics.

I logged in for the first time since February 18 yesterday. When I left, my guild had just hit level 99. Yesterday, my guild sat at level 103–four guild levels in a 5 week span. Holy cow. Something’s up with my guild, and that’s a great thing.

Getting My Ninja On

The first thing I did on login, once reorienting my eyes back to the visual richness of the game (playing a weaker resolution game like Diablo II is bound to make you appreciate even DDO’s slightly aged but superior graphics), I had a definitive urge to take the ninjas out on patrol.

First off the ship was Ryncletica the poison-master for a flagging run in “The Coalescence Chamber.” If there were any signs of rust in my gameplay, I whittled them out quickly as I eliminated the initial troglodyte and troll forces with Althea the fashion-model-turned-Favored Soul.

From there, with Althea parked most of the time except to refresh my Death Ward, I had a very smooth run by sneaking through as much as I could (when the damned bats didn’t show up every 2 seconds) using my shuriken as needed for some distant targets, and generally picking and choosing targets through the end. The only real challenge, bats notwithstanding, was the final key with the gelatinous cube, which is always one big Jello-bowl of HP. But after nailing it using some Ninjutsu, after 20 negative levels it finally melted.

With Ryn’s shadow-lust sated for a time, it was time for Kiricletica the solo-master in “Eyes of Stone” on Hard. Still following her self-imposed solo rules just because they’re still fun and force me to feel the ninja vibe, Kiri quickly restored guards, then used Freezing the Lifeblood finishers on every mage that guarded the Coin Lords for a very quick takedown. Each mage managed to summon their elementals–but then, that’s why the Pain Touch finisher is a godsend, which Nauseated each elemental to prevent them from attacking or casting.

Skipping the troll in the Bureau of Magical Vehicles, I entered the side entrance, restored the last guards and entered Hesstess’s lair. I summoned a fiend-blood troll as fodder and Blurred up the two guards before going to work, striking Hesstess with hit-and-run doses of Ninja Poison using Poisoned Soul Ninjutsu while using ninja speed to avoid her direct stunning magic and stoning gaze. Reinforcements that appeared only made it easier to keep my ki levels high enough to end Hesstess by poison in only 3 minutes or so.

To cap off the first day back, I also took Artemistika out into the epic High Road for some concentrated slayers. I want to pump the XP from 3,000 slayers straight into my Grandmaster of Flowers training so that I can build up another Fate point, unlock the Divine tree and get Unyielding Sentinel and perhaps Divine Crusader pumped up for more Fate points. I’d love to have the Elder Dryad accessible to me for later Epic play, so that means a bit more Destiny grinding, with a +2 Tome of Fate purchase still in reserve.

A New Direction, A New Guild, a New Server

I’m thinking of branching out from my only server, Ghallanda, to start a new guild where stealth is the name of the game. Bards, Rogues, Rangers and Monks would take a new darker tack in defeating the evils. Once Update 25 takes hold, it’s on my to-do list.

If you have a suggestion as to which server to set up camp, feel free to speak up.

I would not mind at all meeting many of you who have visited the blog. And starting up new characters to grow together sounds like a blast.

Perhaps we’ll have a server in common with almost everyone to get all shadowy and stuff. If enough interest appears here and we can coordinate, I’ll revisit it in a later post and set up a public plan.

Netheril Here Nor There

Walking into Mordor: Not recommended without the monastic art.

Walking into Mordor: Not recommended without the monastic arts.

“Hi. My name is Syn, and I’m an alti-holic.”

(Hi, Syn!)

Since time is very limited for me with concentrating on a number of real-life tasks, I’m going to steer the blog back to its primary focus: The Monk class and what can be done with them. I will get back to the adventurers of Ranger Artemistika, Assassin Sukitetica and Swashbuckler Flynncletica soon. These characters not only round out my work in defining the sneak-happy classes to better document the Stormreach Shadows stealth guide, but are damned fun to play under the right conditions, especially Misty.

By “right conditions,” I mean that they tend to die a lot easier than the weakest of my Monks when in the wrong conditions.

I’ve actually missed being able to dance through the deadliest traps in the game like a drunken elf prancing through a meadow of flowers in springtime. It’s been a bit since I can stare down any enemy that tries something as mundane as a Fear spell or since I could take several Meteor Swarms to the face without issue and return the favor in a flurry of elemental strikes.

For even my most versatile non-Monk characters, one does not simply walk into Mordor. And DDO presents a lot of “Mordors” for unwitting players to enter unprepared.

But for my best Monks, they sometimes make a habit of daily runs into the Mordor de jour, punching and kicking and puncturing and poisoning seven shades of piss out of anything in their way.

This blog is primarily about Monks, so when time is at a crunch, that’s where the focus must be.

Let’s catch up on Ryncletica, the Poison Master and a little bit on Lynncletica, the Little Mountain tanker.

My Favorite Enemy

The Netherese have had a special place in my gamer heart since my old Neverwinter Nights days in trying to stop some loony from reactivating old Netheril magitek. My appreciation of the DDO Netherese is quite happy with three adventure chains: “The High Road” (get back a Nether Scroll), “Wheloon Prison” (get back yet another Nether Scroll) and the super-epic Storm Horns adventures, which left Szyncletica in awe.

Yet, I’ve not completed any of these adventures as often as I’d like, and so Ryncletica is starting to work on this. She’s completed all of her missions in the prison-turned Netherese outpost, and is after the Shade leader in “Through a Mirror Darkly.”

Ryncletica sits on level 16 now with increasingly strong DPS and durability that allow solo Elite missions most of the time. I could use a bit more DEX for damage/to-hit. I’m being cautious and only putting her through Hard difficulties as I make a more thorough study of each quest before returning to them on Elite difficulty. I’ve also desired to complete the Explorer locations in this forsaken place.

None of the Wheloon Prison quests allow for complete stealth. “Friends in Low Places” is all-combat, as is “A Lesson in Deception” and especially “Thrill of the Hunt” and those irritating Howlers. “Army of Shadow” does allow a bit of stealth ops to bypass or control much of the fighting.

Remembering long-ago travels in the overshadowed Oldstone Hall, I hoped to use shadow against shadow with Ryncletica’s strong ninja powers.

The many Shadow creatures that appear often don’t if you are stealthy enough, which helped a bit while making my way through “Thrill” and “Army.”

Ryncletica’s now able to use two Envenomed Blades, but chooses to hold only one of those blades in the main hand and her trust Tiefling Assassin’s Blade in the off-hand. The Wounding effect weakens from it while the advanced Poison and paralysis of the Envenomed Blade make a potent two-handed attack posture. Two Envenomed Blades weren’t bad but, lacking the Wounding effect reduces the chance for better use of the dark finishing moves.

She’s also trained Shadow Double for a doublestrike DPS burst for tougher enemies, and Quivering Palm makes for quick-kills as I make my way through otherwise-empty halls.

A Build Change for Ryn

I abandoned the use of the Harper tree to build up melee power for now. The AP cost didn’t reflect any significant advantages in damage at this time. Further, that AP has helped both Drow and Ninja Spy trees to boost their damage or defenses. Ambidexterity from the Drow tree, or Sneak Attack or completing the Ninjutsu training (right up to Touch of Death) is back on the table.

I’ll certainly revisit melee power boosts as Ryn returns to Epic levels, specifically with Shadowdancer and Epic leveling’s boosts to melee power. She’ll need to get Primal Avatar trained enough for Rejuvenation Cocoon for greater healing options.

In Oldstone Hall

The mission went pretty well. With one hireling, the lovely-rendered Favored Soul Althea as passive backup and parked for 90% of the mission, I sneaked through the light and dark sides of the hall. The narrow halls made it a challenge to avoid what few patrols existed. Despite this, I was able to obtain two or three of the orbs without combat by way of ninja stealth.

On the final fight, I took a tip from the wiki: Don’t follow the shade continually back and forth from the light and dark sides. I concentrated on delivering Ninja Poison DoTs on the boss, which left him still taking damage while he phased out and I concentrated on mopping up any Shadar-Kai or other minions that materialized.

As a quest chain, I enjoy Wheloon Prison, but it is probably my least favorite of the three Netherese missions. The High Road quests take second (I love its wilderness and the respawn rate that can let you hunt there for hours), but the Storm Horns remain the pinnacle of the Netherese missions and, in my opinion, the most beautiful and well-designed and story-immersive story lines in the game. I’m looking forward to getting Ryn to the Storm Horns, but not without a party. You don’t solo those quests without a lot of firepower.

Lynncletica’s Heeljing

I couldn’t end this quick post without geeking out about Update 24’s adjustment in healing amplification.

No one appears to be complaining a bit on the forums with the change. The new formula has dramatically improved the vampiric healing of Fists of Light for Lynn. In Earth Stance with the Jidz-Tet’ka bracers on (no amp in that stance) and with 3 Shintao cores, I’m seeing 2-4 HP per strike. Kick on Fire Stance and it jumps to 2-6, if not more.

Lynn needs the new format. I’ve been pushing her through early quests on Elite. Like her first life, early levels are a bloody mess for her, easily taking punishing damage with weak saves for what miss-chance effects are up for her. At level 9, Lynn is fit and fighting but has to manage aggro oh so carefully.

Stealth Ops: Spies in the House

There's ALWAYS a ninja somewhere. Can you find her?

It’s Spy Vs. Spies in this quest. Or, if you’re me, ninja vs. pirates.

I’m continuing my series of posts where I give detailed analysis of quests that benefit players that use stealth tactics and deliver a larger XP or resource-savings reward for doing that.

Often, these quests will likely be ones that are rather reviled by the usual zerging slasher forces or those players that don’t “read the manual.” That is, they log in, select a quest and enter, often unprepared and armed to the teeth–and fated for a long day. Or, the quest is an unusual design: multiple levels, required keys or levers, or more ambush points where your party is more vulnerable than necessary.

The details in these guides will be more detailed than what information you’ll find in the DDO Wiki articles in terms of navigation and way-points, but aren’t meant as a substitute.

Also, these posts will eventually cross-link to the Stormreach Shadows guide, where formatting limits are a bit restrictive for images and the occasional video.

Let’s start with one of my personal favorites: “Spies in the House.”

Preparation


Note: Update 23 has a bug where, if you start “Spies” while you have the “Sentinels of Stormreach” quest chain in-progress, the quest chain giver will not offer you the chain end-reward loot list on completion. Run “Spies” before starting “Sentinels” as a workaround, or run “Spies” after you complete the chain. While related in the storyline, “Spies” isn’t part of the Sentinels quest chain so you needn’t speak to Taggart d’Deneith, the Sentinels quest chain-giver.


“Spies” is one of a handful of quests where the exit is straight up, over a harrowing series of climbs. Not coincidentally, several of the quests I’ll review in this series have climbing and multiple levels.

I’d argue that “Spies” earns the title for the most challenging of these climbing quests. Unlike other climbing quests, Completing “Spies” requires agility way beyond that needed in quests such as “The Coalescence Chamber.” You need at least at least +10 Jump in this place–and that’s optimally your number while you’re in Sneak, which gives a -20 penalty to that and Tumble.

Thus, medium and heavy Armored Fighters, Clerics and Paladins have a harder time in quests like “Spies” because their Armor Check Penalty works against their Jump skill. These classes as well as Wizards, Artificers and Sorcerers also have Jump as a cross-class skill where it’s cost-prohibitive to add many, if any skill points. Potions, items and spells to give stacking Competence and Enhancement bonuses that raise Jump to a useful level can help a lot for such characters.

Stealth will also be problematic for all classes who aren’t Bards, Monks, Rangers or Rogues since Hide and Move Silently as also cross-class skills. Rangers, Druids and strong-UMD Rogue can help here, too, in addition to items. (For suggestions to fix that, see this chapter and this chapter in the Stormreach Shadows stealth guide.)

A Feather Falling item or long-lasting spells is also required here throughout the quest. Falling here means falling a long way that will likely leave you very vulnerable, feeling very lost, and unable to catch up easily. Striding speed is also very important in the final levels; buy some Haste potions.

“Spies” makes every attempt to keep you from going upward using simple barriers that must be activated or bypassed before your party proceeds. In “Coal Chamber,” it’s a matter of running up and up, with no requirements to jump except down with a Feather Fall item to a shrine. In “Spies,” if you have low Jump, you’re going to have a harder time. A few places require you to leap up swiftly to grab onto something should you fall out of alignment as you make your way.

Don’t bother using your in-quest map here. Like “The Pit” and “Chains of Flame,” the multiple layers of the quest map do not reveal any information of use to navigation.

The Entry Level: “Ninja, Please!” (Or, “Why Clerics Can’t Jump“)

You start the quest next to a very high sewer shaft that drops to an underwater point. Even with Feather Falling off, it seems that it’ll take about 10 seconds for you to hit the water below. That’s a portent of your long climb back up, elsewhere. Stealth teams should buff up here and activate Sneak before dropping down since the underwater point below will prohibit you from activating Sneak.

Once you’re down, ahead is a small alcove guarded by ice mephits and water elementals. Your fastest stealth party member can move to the lever to pull it, opening a gate to swim down the sewer tunnel while others rush by the enraged elementals. You don’t have to fight these guys; simply pulling that lever and leaping into the water ahead avoids them.

The wide underwater pit ahead is filled with sonic and spike traps with fences to force your path. High reflex/evasive characters can avoid them. A Rogue can disable all the traps for bonuses. Non-evasive characters should carefully swim forward and, on returning to solid ground, stop and stay in Sneak to stay a bit hidden. In the water lies one of three valves that control an air jet that teams should use.

Out of the water and in Sneak, you’re surrounded enter a vast complex with catwalks and scaffolding above. To your relative left (northwest and southwest) in the wide-open area are many skeleton archers and a few Blood Tide fighters and mages. East and ahead from the water is a small dead-end tunnel with another couple of traps and a second valve for the first air jet.

The third and last valve of this first jet is in the northwest corner, guarded by a few humans and their skeleton charges, next to the air jet itself.

A non-stealthy team would have to make their way along catwalks from the northwest, pelted by skeletal snipers not only above but way above you, shooting where you cannot shoot back. It’s a killing field.

And even then, a non-stealthy team must make a couple of careful climbs to a valve that lowers a drawbridge for the team to climb up a series of fixed boxes to another scaffold level. Miss your mark, and you’ll fall down and back to the water entry.

For stealth teams, there’s a better way.

Lower Level: Jet-Setter

After activating the first two valves, carefully make your way to the last valve, dispatch the skeletons and mages there and activate the last valve, located next to the jet itself. If your team stays in that corner, you shouldn’t be detected by the skeleton archers to the far left, watching the catwalks and scaffolding.

With the three valves activated on the lowest level, two air jets activate. One lifts you up to a catwalk just above you, where a second diagonal jet hurls you up and to a wide catwalk across the way, above the center of the bottom level.

What you do here depends on your party composition.

Teams with strong Jump skills can simply use your Jump prowess and Feather Fall for controlled guiding, using the two jets to make your way up to the center catwalk, and then jump down or across a bit to the lower scaffolding with the closed drawbridge to climb up fixed boxes that lead up through holes in the scaffolding for a couple of levels to higher piping. Traversing this way in Sneak avoids any detection by the skeletal archers very close by. There is likely one lonely human guard here in hiding at the drawbridge scaffolding. If anyone’s stealth skills are poor, he will find you.

If your party is a mix of low-Jump characters that aren’t as agile, a lone stealthy character can make the jet leaps, then head southward and up and over some pipes to reach the valve over dead-end scaffolding to the far south, above the watery entry, that lowers the drawbridge. Unfortunately this means that your party’s walk to the bridge will likely fight the lower archers and a couple of human fighters along the catwalk and platforms to the now-lowered drawbridge as even your stealth skills will be compromised at such close proximity. Your fighting might also alert the archers much higher up. This is problematic since you’ll be fired at, but cannot target back because of your attack angle.

Once your team has climbed up at the highest scaffold via the fixed boxes, jumping is required to a pipe that’s close enough to stand on. Your team must stay in stealth here; above are more skeletal archers that will rain down arrows on you at an angle where you cannot counter-attack. The path north on the pipe leads to a puzzle wheel that controls an air jet behind and above you in the southwest corner. It’s the only way up for everyone.

One party member can sneak to the wheel and turn it twice to activate it’s second light to the right, which activates the proper southwest jet that will launch your party members to yet another scaffold above. Left of the puzzle wheel is a constantly-blowing jet that catapults your team to that larger southwest jet. Everyone’s got to traverse the northern pipe: watch out for the break in the pipe on the way or you’re going to fall. A Bard in your party that can give Invisibility to your team helps a lot here in avoiding detecting from the now-closer archers above you.

Keep in stealth throughout this entire progression, even if your Hide/Move Silently scores are poor. A stealth posture keeps you slowed and in better control while traveling on the thin pipes. You may need to stand up for the jets to launch you.

On using the southwest jet, you should land by some fixed boxes on a scaffold just below a large mob of skeleton archers, human necromancers and a couple of gargoyles. You’re going to leave stealth to attack them by making your way up the boxes to a small landing just south of the group and then charging ahead to a scaffold and up to their location. Note how high you are; if you slip without Feather Fall, you’re in for some serious damage.

Eliminate the entire guarding force ahead–specifically, 10 skeletons whose undeaths control lighted locks above a prisoner gate and a valve to the path onward. A valve set precariously on a corner edge of the area of the archers along the stone wall, near a locked gate, activates a small jet that launches you back to the center scaffolding to a level you couldn’t climb to reach. Here, another set of boxes sit below a second valve, guarded by a couple of gargoyles. This valve opens that locked gate near the first valve, where you rescue the first of four Deneith prisoners. Just inside this gate is another valve that opens the larger gate to the east entry and forward.

Depending on difficulty, there may be a trap just inside, as well as air mephits. Your second prisoner is just to your left from within this entry; a lever opens his cage.

Ahead, at the apex of this short hall, several skeletons will spawn that you should eliminate. At the end of the hallway is an electrified shaft and a ladder with more mephits. Evasive characters in stealth can likely just go up the ladder and evade the electricity trap and mephits, who won’t follow. But a Rogue in party should find a control box above to disable the trap for more vulnerable party members. Eliminate the mephits if they are a hassle.

At the top of this shaft, opposite the ladder, is a treasure chest across the shaft’s wide chasm. It’s locked, so if your team hasn’t the means to unlock it, you should skip it and continue on through the last of the skeletal guards. A hidden door near the ladder reveals a lever; it’s purpose wasn’t clear to me, even after several runs before, until now. Flip it, and it activates air jets to push your team to that locked chest. It appears to be a semi-random pulse that turns off, requiring you to flip the switch again.

At least two skeletal mages, skeletons and several skeleton archers await you ahead: eliminate them to unlock a lever in the T-intersection to the end. A third Deneith prisoner awaits rescue here, and there is a treasure chest as reward for coming this far.

That lever opened steel doors to your next adventure. The good news is that you’re done with undead guards. If you thought your trip was tough so far, just you wait.

Grid Level 1: Rowan and Friends

Just beyond the steel doors are rest and resurrection shrines, guarded likely by a one or two Blood Tide fighters. Your team should use this shrine as you’ll be unable to return to it once you proceed.

At the end of this path you’ll see several Blood Tide archers on catwalks lining a wide, very electrified grid floor. This is the first of several grid floors you’ll find that can’t be disabled and will pelt you with 30-60 damage per second, easily killing party members that stand on it for too long. If you’re missing Resist Electricity or Protection against Electricity buffs, use them now.

With a mixed party, your best tactic is to go into Sneak and drop down to the northern wall and to a path on along the electrified floor, sneaking in below the archers and to a lower catwalk. A single guard along the last part of  the path could alert others if he spots you; a quick kill or good stealth bypassing is recommended. Strong archers or throwing characters might opt to remove the archer guards. Monks with Abundant Step or classes with a long-jump, instead, might leap directly from the shrine level over to the upper level catwalk–better if you’re invisible if you do this unless going immediately on the offensive.

Northward is a watery fortress sealed by a steel gate that you must bypass. Guards are all about here. Your team can go left (westward) and around, up a watery fall, where a skeletal mage awaits you to return it to inanimate bone. Left (east) of here is the base of Rowan Watzun, a red-named necromancer that loves death spells: Have at least Deathblock items equipped as you attack him and his guards.

Once Rowan is down, a lever in his lair, by a chest, opens the path ahead to the upper catwalk. You’re assaulted by backup fighters immediately after Rowan dies. Resistance here is comparatively slight; you may want to eliminate all the archers along the catwalks if your party is of weaker stealth skill. A stronger stealth team can lure any standing guards by Rowan’s lair to remove them without alerting the catwalk archers, leaving them unaware of your presence throughout this next segment.

To the south are additional pipes and valves. On a ladder above is your fourth and final Deneith prisoner and a chest, both caged. Two valves here are at ground level open the prisoner’s cell and part of the way forward; one is guarded by mephits. A stealthy character can activate that lever without waking the mephits at all. As with all stealth quests, resist the temptation of breaking boxes: the best bonus you can get is Vandal, and only with luck and a few deaths.

At the southwest corner on a ladder is another shrine; make this rest count: Your last shrine is near the end of the quest, a long way up.

At the last prisoner’s level is a pipe to the east where the third lever awaits. All party members must climb up to this pipe (via the prisoner’s ladder) and west to yet another platform and air jet to move forward. Without a Rogue to disarm it, your team will have to brave some blades that slash about around this jet. Historically, the blades don’t hit often–and the blades are the last of your worries.

Grid Levels 2 and 3: This is Where It Begins to Suck

Before your team uses the jet, buff up again with any and all electrical resists and absorption or Protection from Electricity buffs. You’ll be very glad you did. Your Feather Fall is essential here, as well. A CON and/or False Life item or spell is extremely helpful for low HP players. You’re going to have to soak up a lot of voltage.

This jet is one of two in this area that are hard to navigate as you’re catapulted upward a little blindly. You’ll be sent high up and if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a pipe to a small platform near a valve. Whoever reaches that valve should turn it immediately.

If you’re unlucky, you’ll hit your head and bounce back down and must climb back up to the jet.

If you’re very unlucky, you’ll overshoot and land on yet another electrified grid floor. If you do, run left (north) to your only safe-haven, some fixed boxes that lead up to a cross of pipes.

Once your party is up, you’ll find fire elementals and, if you’ve been unluckier, an air elemental. You must kill all the elementals that spawn here (four total) to proceed. This won’t be easy for melee teams; the elementals are often floating about, away from the pipes you’re standing on, and inaccessible.

If an air elemental spawns, your luck is terrible. It will likely blow party members hither and yon. Your best bet is to congregate by the sole group of fixed boxes to the north to avoid getting electrocuted, standing on the lowest box.

Ranged icy weaponry (Snowstar, Chill Shard and the like) or spells that hurt fire elementals are required. Melee teams will be lucky if the elementals come close enough to attack.

The fire elementals throw fireball after fireball, often floating over the grid and out of melee range. If you can hit them by direct attack, do so. Your non-Evasion party members should seek cover; they will not survive against the fireball pelting for long. An air elemental complicates your attack. Evasion characters should separate, giving the party a chance to move the aggro around as you make your attacks.

This area is where I imply how hirelings and summoned creatures are less than useful since they’ll be extra things you’d have to look after or will draw unwanted attention and jeopardize your safety. If they die on the grid, leave their soulstone. One exception for summons: if you can summon a water elemental or other thing that can float to attack the elementals, it’s worth a go.

Once the elementals are down, turn the remaining valves in this area and, carefully timing the blowing air vents that threaten to make you run the dangerous grids again, head around to another air jet. If you don’t clear the elementals, the steel door above this jet remains closed.

This jet blows you up to a marginally safe start point, but no safe destination. You must run across yet another electrical grid. High-evasive characters have a very low chance to save against the damage, but everyone should rebuff with Protection from Energy and, if needed, Electric resistance. There is a small group of fixed boxes ahead as your only sanctuary. Don’t worry about stealth here to the boxes: Run! Speed is life.

More valves above on the pipes, and this time, guarded by mephits. Just to be nasty, a valve that reduces some of the damaging steam leaks have jets that will push you off and onto the grid if you don’t time them right when using them. Unlike the level below, however, killing the mephits just makes your life easier. Once the valves are done, you’re clear to jump and run carefully to a ladder up.

The Last Floors: Daylight

Stay in stealth as you traverse this floor and to a ladder nearby some water run-offs. Else, you’ll awaken water elementals that will fire on you. A rest shrine is here on this next to last floor for those who need this final oasis.

The serious stuff is behind you. You need only to reach the last floor where two gargoyles start trolling you but end up only annoying each other.

The gargoyles guard two final valves. (Any other valves you see at this level are decoration only.) One closes steel doors ahead to form a floor as well as open steel doors just ahead to the quest’s end. The second activates a lightning trap that’s not disarmable.

Let the high-reflex member of your party turn a valve. I don’t believe you have to wait for the gargoyle chat to complete to do this. A couple of Blood Tide fighters will assault you by the last door but they are nothing compared to what you just endured.

Put on your Voice of the Master for a big XP payout before you approach the first chest you see, no matter what your difficulty. On Epic difficulties, an epic chest spawns to your right on a gridded scaffold cubby hole.

Use your Finish button rather than using the provided tunnel. Otherwise, you’ll spawn in Stormreach Harbor, rather than next to the quest giver in House Deneith.

Video

This is a long quest that can get longer without better descriptions. So I’ve taken time to record this quest to give you a better visualization. Good hunting!

Stealth Ops: Chains of Flame

M_walkthrough_chains_of_flame

Use this map from the DDO Wiki.

Continuing my series on quests that favor a stealthy approach, we explore tactics to use against a very formidable Gnoll stronghold in “Chains of Flame, ” one of the three flagging quests in the Sands of Menechtarun series.

“Chains” can suck on so many levels, literally. Like “Spies in the House,” “Chains” is a multi-level adventure where your quest map is mostly worthless. Being pelted by gnoll archers, fried by elementals or sliced into bits, pelted and fried by numerous traps is the name of the game here. And you’ll need to free at least 15 slaves by speaking with them.

But a stealthy approach will help you infiltrate the fortress where you can better control when and how you attack, and especially control if you’re attacked. Beefing up your ranged attack options isn’t a bad idea for careful use in a few locations.

“Chains” comes in a Heroic and Epic version. The pathing is identical.

With a recent update, “Chains” offers a boatload of XP, making the trip very worthwhile.

Soloing this adventure bites with all the inevitable fighting. Stealth Team Six mode is recommended.

Preparation

Even with an experienced party hacking everything to bits, “Chains” is a very long quest; set aside at least 1 hour. With an experienced guide, it takes about 15 minutes from the Sands desert entrance to make your way to the quest entrance alone.

As with most stealth adventures, hirelings and summoned creatures draw unnecessary attention and may get you killed more than helping you. Be as self-sufficient as you can with self-healing options. Keep any hirelings on passive mode and stationary at all times, and take advantage of their new instant-teleport ability to skip them over deadly places if you’re using them as a healerbot or Divine Vitality fountain.

There are only two distant and hard to access shrines, so resource management is critical. Most importantly, carry Feather Fall, always wear Deathblock for frequent encounters with gnoll mages, and Death Ward when facing superior mages and for the end-fight.

Also carry plenty of Remove Curse and Disease solutions, have at least some Lesser Restoration options, but most importantly carry Fire Resistance and Protection from Fire solutions at hand by the end-fight, as original guild ship amenity fire protections wane after 1 hour if you haven’t a Ranger or other mage in the party.

An optimal stealth party has a Rogue Assassin (assassinations/trapping) or Rogue Mechanic (superior trapping), Ninja Spy (tactical kills, ranged thrown attacks), Ranger (Resists and Camouflage, ranged missile attack) and Bard (buffs, especially Invisibility, Blur, and Haste, charms or Domination, and in the worst case, crowd control). Fewer party members can be more beneficial in some places, but more members naturally help in the expected firefights.

Don’t enter this quest with a weak ranged solution. To lower your resource consumption, you may find that eliminating some attacks from above will make your mission easier before you reach that level. Or, if your party is a mix of agile and non-agile characters, ranged support is essential to save non-agiles from excessive damage.

It’s All About Keys, Slaves and One Lever

Take advantage of the quest article on the DDO Wiki. It will save you time and grief. Maps will detail the proper path that avoids unnecessary backtracking or fighting.

To avoid being redundant, I’m only noting special tactics you can use at certain locations, rather than discussing the pathing. I like to use the wiki’s block diagram map, shown here.

Your primary mode in stealth ops here is infiltration. You will be seen. But you want to minimize your exposure to snipers and mages at all times while transitioning outside of the fortress, along bridges, catwalks and outer paths.

Before opening that first door at quest start, buff up. There aren’t very many “safe” areas (at least, until you clear them), and spells can make noise that attract attention. Park and make passive any hirelings here; most of them cannot sneak and will draw fire that will reveal you. Using uncontrollable summoned creatures is a very bad idea that might increase your aggro and waste resources.

On every door, always stand to its side to avoid being seen by others ahead of the door.

Your mission begins over a long bridge over a big pool of lava. All above you are gnoll snipers with high Spot, ready to pincushion you. In harder difficulties and certainly Epic play, the bridge may be trapped and may have mephits. Stay in Sneak as you move across this first bridge. Halfway across, gnolls will burst through the door ahead. Sneak back to the start’s interior as they’ll stop at that halfway point. Then launch a ranged attack to pull and slay the gnolls inside the start area while keeping the archers outside unawares.

The first section requires you to go to the left doors several times to gain three keys before you can enter the locked door at the right of the first intersection. From there, the path is generally hard to mess up. If you can’t open a door, you’re missing a key.

Treat every exterior path as a sniper kill-zone. There will almost always be snipers above you. As you rise up the fortress, mages and snipers will appear on your level. Never exit without being in Sneak.

If you have one in party, keep your Rogue out in front, not your kill team. There are several deadly fire, spike, spinning blade and swiping blade traps in a few locations.

Cul-de-Sacs

Many intersections will have cul-de-sac doors where other Overseers (holders of keys) reside with guards and some prisoners. Often these levels will have archers and fighters and mages, but also more backup above you, raining down death.

After eliminating Overseers, freeing prisoners and gathering keys, be sure to search out any levels that open paths ahead in the cave. Chests may also be found in these cul-de-sacs, but one will be locked and require a Rogue’s handiwork or a Wizard’s Knock spell.

Shrines, Slaves and Optionals

There are only two shrines. The first you’ll find on your path after opening locked door #1 at intersection #1 on the wiki map. The second requires you to lower a drawbridge and clear enemies guarding it around intersection #9 on the wiki map. Because of this, casters must be careful not to power-cast and have mana reserves if you choose a higher aggressive posture.

Saving Gaspar the Dwarf near intersection #2 requires a high Bluff to cause a fight. If you haven’t a Bluff option in your dialogue with the ogre mage, you can’t save Gaspar. Provoking the mage gives you two keys; one to the Stolen Treasury Key and another door key. Don’t save the dwarf and you’ll still get the pass key but lose the XP and the Stolen Treasury Key. Paradoxically, a Rogue with a high Bluff also likely has a high Open Lock and doesn’t need the Treasury Key.

By intersection 6, you can rescue a minotaur from his fire elemental guards for XP and a chest.

You will certainly find 15 slaves on your path, a required objective, but it’s the 16th slave (whomever your party finds next) that gives you the required Royal Firebrand Key, which opens the chamber of the boss at the very top. So always free the slaves, but remind your party that the 16th slave will give that Firebrand Key to one member of your party, and they have to live long enough to open the boss door. If that party member gets separated or, worse, dies in the lava pool, that key may be irretrievable and the quest must be restarted.

Observant stealth teams might take it as challenge to find every slave. This requires patience, stealth insertion, jumps to areas off the path, even a quick swim through lava if Dimension Door isn’t handy. Without D-Door, I’d strongly recommend that only a Monk at character level 12 perform this, as they will have Abundant Step. An agile Human with the Dragonmark of Passage can whip up a D-Door, too. Otherwise, don’t try to complete this or rescue is impossible.

Getting access to the second shrine near intersection #9 isn’t required, but there are slaves nearby it.

The last locked door has Erath the Blinded. Any party member with Blindness Immunity equipped can take the halfling’s curse, where it will have no effect. If you have a cleric hireling in your party, they’ll likely to remove the curse permanently. Remove Blindness potions, however, do not work against this special curse.

The End-Fight

There are two red-named bosses to slay. One is an efreet that enjoys frying anyone he sees. Kill him first if you have non-Evasion members in your party. The gnoll boss is mostly a fighter with Displacement ability, a Stunning Blow attack and a few other divine attack tricks, but is mostly a bag of HP. He’s often guarded by two Firebrand mages.

Unload all the damage you have throughout this fight. A chest or two awaits you. Picking up the Orb of the Efreet from the left side of the throne ends the quest.

On returning to town, you must speak with the quest giver to gain the Orb of the Djinn (not the “Orb of the Efreet” as noted incorrectly in the video–that’s what you pick up), which is your flagging item for Zawabi.

Video

Many ninja spies died…getting you this video (not).

Grab some popcorn; it’s going to be long. Click on the CC to show the captions. I switched to a less-restrictive caption tool, so these should be easier to read.

Ryncletica had the advantage of Poison damage to dispatch the bosses with relative ease.

 

 

Purple Haze

ScreenShot01462

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.

The Poison Master In-Depth

dnd-lego

I know building is not always this easy. I wish it were.

Normally, I’m not much into describing build data. I’m bad and lazy at it. I also think it takes away from the organics and serendipity of designing a character.

Nothing at all against RJ Cyberware’s excellent Character Planner, but I haven’t used it for some time.

I tried using the latest version to partially assist me, I realized it wasn’t updated yet for Update 23 and the Harper tree. (I’m aware that Ron has passed the torch to a co-developer.)

But a kind person PM’ed me to detail what I’m doing with Ryncletica by specifics as I train her to be a master poisoner.

So, here goes.

Drow 32-point build, third life. Base stats:

STR: 10, DEX: 17, CON: 12 , INT: 10 , WIS: 18, CHA: 10

The high WIS is to ensure strong DCs to use finishing moves. DEX is critically important for modifiers for damage and to-hit, to, AC and Reflex. Tomes for DEX and WIS are important.

I’m sure tome bonuses are missing a bit in this, but I’m winging it here. If you can max out an ability with tomes, get them. None of Ryn’s attacks or abilities are prohibited with lower DEX or WIS, but they will be more effective.

Ryncletica is a stock Ninja Spy except in these key areas.

  • Drow racial enhancements
    • As a Drow, she gains Shuriken Expertise as a free feat, generating more stars on an average throw than in her Half-Elf past life.
    • She also gains +1 to-hit and to damage bonuses from at least 3 levels of Xen’drik Weapon Training for her shortswords (primary weapon) and shuriken.
    • Key to the poison-master build is the Update 23 changes to Venomed Blades, the same ability shared with the Rogue Assassin. Venomed Blades adds 200% to Melee Power, which aids Ninja Poison as well as any other poison damage. Both Ninja Poison and the Venomed Blades boost stacks, quickly yielding purple numbers as the poison vulnerability of Ninja Poison quickly applies.
  • Harper Agent enhancements
    • Up to +7 Melee Power points added through this tree to take advantage of the Venomed Blades boost. (This is better than my initial build calculation.) It’s a heavy AP load since the build still wants 41 AP in the Ninja Spy tree for the complete Ninja Master core ability (Vorpal, +2 DEX and +1 competency to shortsword crit threat range and +2 to bonus for shuriken threat range).
    • Several enhancements add to Universal Spell Power, which may help in general healing and damage.
    • A point of DEX comes from this training from the second core training.
  • Ninja Spy enhancements
    • Ninja Training and Advanced Ninja Training cores use DEX-to-hit and DEX-to-damage, and add a chance for an additional star to be thrown per attack (in addition to Shuriken Expertise). Ryn will be a weaker star-thrower than Shuricannon Szyncletica but far stronger than half-elf Kiricletica.
    • Only two Ninjutsu abilities are trained: Poisoned Soul and Poison Exploit. Other AP that would train the line, including Touch of Death, are ignored. Poisoned Soul injects 5 stacks of Ninja Poison on each Touch of Despair finisher. Poison Exploit rips out all Ninja Poison at 1d20 damage per stack. In training the Deadly Exploits enhancement, the Poison Exploit damage rises to 1d50 per stack…and is magnified by Venomed Blades and Melee Power for potentials of thousands of points of poison damage. Ryncletica can still deliver negative energy damage but poison is the primary death dealer.
    • With up to 20 stacks on an enemy, combined with Melee Power and Venomed Blades, a 100% poison vulnerability of Ninja Poison increases from the Venomed Blades as well as weapons with Poison enhancements. At level 11, Ryncletica still uses two of the Tiefling Assassin’s Blade, which has Wounding (CON damage that reduces Fortitude saves) and Poison (stacks with Ninja Poison effects and Venomed Blades). Any living creature gets shredded quickly by these effects. Tough enemies like duergar are easy prey with these blades and DEX-to-damage.
    • No Mercy enhancement adds an additional 30% more damage to helpless enemies.
    • Finishing Moves are central. Dark finishers can paralyze, mute or blind. These increase the speed of the poison-master’s work. Common finishers are also applied.
    • The Unyielding Strike ki attack is a quick and powerful Diversion/Bluff effect that not only helps me charge the paralyzing Freezing the Lifeblood finisher but twists enemies around very reliably, allowing me more free attacks, even against undead and elementals.
    • Shadow Double will help with burst DPS from doublestrike to deliver more poison with dual blades.
    • A little Sneak Attack is trained for prerequisites and will add some DPS when enemies are helpless, stacking with No Mercy.
  • Weaponry
    • Poison damage stacks. Some enhancements and weapons that claim to give poison damage often are stat-damaging effects and not Poison damage as a separate property as is elemental, negative energy and Force damage. Ninja Poison magnifies any Poison damage, including its own, from allied attacks (including the Poison spell) and effects.
    • The Tiefling Assassin’s Blades used have a Ruby of the Endless Night slotted, energy draining enemies while the blades have Wounding, a very useful property that damages CON (thus reducing Fortitude) and deliver Ninja Poison.
    • At level 16, two of the Envenomed Blade will be used for greater Poison damage and armor-piercing, with Paralyzing as a side benefit. The hunt is on for Shards of the Envenomed Blade to make an Epic version(s) of this weapon that will take it through to level cap.
    • The Snowstar is in use for tactical ranged fighting, but Ryn owns a few crafted stars that will deliver Ninja Poison at range (as a bug in Sting of the Ninja still  prevents named stars and challenge-crafted stars from doing this since Update 21). High DEX and Shuriken Expertise aids with faster kills with more stars per throw.
    • The hunt is on for a Quiver of Poison. This adds Poison damage to thrown weapons.
  • Feats
    • Two Weapon Fighting line. Off-hand damage is helpful here.
    • Ten Thousand Stars. Ryncletica skips Stunning Fist to add more damage with thrown weaponry. Against enemies with poison immunity, distance with damage is paramount.
    • Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack, Combat Expertise, Whirlwind Attack. Miss-chance effects are excellent for this build. At level 11, Ryncletica uses a Green Steel helm with DEX skill bonuses and permanent Blur (20% Concealment). Dodge should be at least 25% by level 20, and Ninja Spies can use Shadow Veil for 25% Incorporeality. Combat Expertise will be trained once INT reaches 13 for an AC 10% boost. Whirlwind Attack is this build’s only tactical melee attack that can dose multiple enemies.
    • Improved Critical: Piercing for the shortswords.

It looks like my initial calculations for AP underestimated my available points. I have a few more AP for Harper.

So, 41 points minimum required to add the Ninja Spy enhancements. Bracketed numbers show total AP in the tree to that point:

  • Basic Ninja Training (core): 1 pt
  • Poisoned Soul: 2 pts
  • Stealthy: 3 pts [6]
  • Advanced Ninja Training (core, 5 AP spent, Monk level 3): 1 pt
  • Faster Sneaking: (3 ranks) 6 pts [13]
  • Sting of the Ninja (tier 3, 10 AP spent): 1 pt
  • Shadow Veil (core, 10 AP spent, Monk level 6): 1 pt
  • Unbalancing Strike (tier 2, 5 AP spent): 2 pts
  • Poison Exploit (5 AP spent): 2 pts [17]
  • Flash Bang (tier 3, 10 AP spent, 3 ranks): 3 pts
  • Sneak Attack (tier 1): 2 pts
  • No Mercy (tier 4, 20 AP spent, 3 ranks): 6 pts [28]
  • Deadly Exploits (tier 4, 20 AP spent, 3 ranks): 6 pts
  • Poisoned Darts (core, 20 AP spent, Monk level 12): 1 pt
  • Diversion (core, 30 AP spent, Monk level 18): 1 pt [36]
  • Shadow Double (tier 5, 30 AP spent): 2 pts [38]
  • Sneak Attack (tier 2, 5 AP spent): 2 pts [40]
  • Ninja Master (core, 40 AP spent, Monk level 20): 1 pt

To get maximum Venomed Blades, I needed 18 AP in the Drow enhancements:

  • Spell Resistance I (core): 1 pt
  • Xen’drik Weapon Training (tier 1): 2 pts
  • Drow Dexterity (core): 2 pts
  • Vermin Lore (tier 1): 1 pt [6]
  • Venom Lore (tier 2, 3 ranks, 5 AP spent): 3 pts
  • Xen’drik Weapon Training (tier 1): 2 pts [11]
  • Xen’drik Weapon Training (tier 2, 5 AP spent): 2 pts
  • Xen’drik Weapon Training (tier 3, 10 AP spent): 2 pts [15]
  • Venomed Blades (tier 4, 15 AP spent, 3 ranks): 3 pts [18]

The remaining 21 AP struggles to activate as much Melee Power with a few side benefits:

  • Agent of Good (core): 1 pt
  • Traveler’s Toughness (tier 1, 3 ranks): 3 pts
  • Awareness (tier 1, 3 ranks): 1 pt
  • Versatile Adept I (tier 2, 3 ranks, 5 AP spent): 3 pts
  • Harper Leadership (tier 2, 3 ranks, 5 AP spent): 3 pts [11]
  • Versatile Adept II (tier 3, 3 ranks, 10 AP spent): 3 pts [14]
  • Harper Training I (core): 2 pts [16]
  • Agent of Good II (core, level 6, 10 AP spent): 1 pt
  • Highly Skilled (tier 3, 10 AP spent, 3 ranks): 3 [20]
  • Versatile Adept III (tier 4, 20 AP spent, 3 ranks): 1 pt [21]

Challenges

Ryncletica the poison-master is intent on using Melee Power and Venomed Blades to increase her already-heavy poison damage. There’s insufficient AP available to train other Monk trees to add more passive ki regeneration, Concentration skill, or Dodge. No other enhancements outside of the Drow, Ninja Spy and Harper Agent trees can be trained.

Ryncletica must rely on only +2 total passive ki regeneration from training the Stealthy enhancement in the Ninja Spy tree and Greater/Ultimate Ocean Stance once at level 12 (at this writing, she’s 11). Since she is a melee character, ki shouldn’t be major concern as she rises in level. She may gain more ki regeneration in Epic play.

A handful of enemies are completely poison-immune. These include non-Warforged constructs, devils, demons and undead. Ryncletica will fall back to DR-bypassing weaponry, including unarmed fighting. She should hold her own, through not be exemplary in such battles, although her Drow weapon attack bonuses will make her slightly superior to other races with blade fighting.

Thankfully, enemies with high poison resistance can be weakened and overcome with enough poison, which a Ninja Spy is built to do. As with most Ninja Spies, Ryncletica is best against living, non-outsider enemies.

Ryncletica has no wand or scroll ability. She must rely on potions, clickys and her innate Monk skills for healing and other needs. Her very-strong miss-chance defenses should offset damage as her poison attacks rapidly degrade the enemy (as well as good tactics, picking when and where to fight).

Skill points are devoted to Hide and Move Silently, Concentration and Jump. What few benefits Ryn could gain from cross-class training Use Magic Device are offset by her own innate abilities or items (Blur and Invisibility are standard tools).

Ryncletica, as neither Human, Half-Elf or Shintao Monk, gains no healing amplification bonuses. She must fight carefully as battle damage is not easily and quickly restored. If any skill points aren’t used as noted above, she might consider adding them to the cross-class Heal skill for 1% positive energy spell power per point for a slight improvement to battle healing. Ryncletica’s motto is “kill fast, escape faster.” It would be interesting to contrast a double-bladed Ninja Spy like Ryn against a Tempest Ranger.

Ryncletica could retrain as a Single Weapon Fighter for much greater innate Melee Power bonuses that would allow the 11 AP in Harper Agent to be allocated elsewhere. As Kiricletica is already a SWF build, I wanted to test the TWF benefits, especially with Epic play. This is a personal preference. Ryncletica is built to maximize poison damage, not overall attack speed.

Other Equipment

Ryncletica owns an Icy Raiment that will do nicely from level 14 in most instances. She may own a White Dragonscale Robe for better AC protections.

Short of the Icys, her gear is rather off-the-shelf. I’m not going to go down this complete list as it is laughable to most, but I’ll note the highlights.

  • Icy Raiment or White Dragonscale Robe. High Dodge/AC or higher AC.
  • Nightforge Gorget: Heavy Fortification with a Deathblock augment gem combines an essential protection.
  • Jidz-Tet’ka: Still useful in mid-Heroic game as its Tri-Kreen poison helps in paralyzing while in Ocean Stance, as well as other stance benefits such as Jump in Wind Stance and healing amp in Fire Stance.
  • Green Steel DEX helm: Permanent Blur and a 2-click Displacement for emergencies.

In short: Any equipment that boosts AC and miss-chance are a plus. Any gear that increases WIS and DEX and saves are a plus. Any gear that adds Poison is a plus. Any gear that damages CON is a plus. As a melee character, increases in Fortification beyond 100% is critical as you head to Epic play.

Epic Play

I’m fond of Shadowdancer with this build for its stealthy controls, especially with high Dodge, Improved Invisibility and Shadow Manipulation.

However, the damage benefits of Primal Avatar look very attractive, particularly with abilities such as Insidious Spores, which spreads nasty Poison damage that can be amplified by Ninja Poison’s vulnerability. The Avatar’s Epic Moment, Avatar of Nature, also has a Poisoning attack that adds stacking damage that, combined with the perfected Heroic Poisoner training, should cause incredible Poison DOTs (200+ or more) per 2-3 seconds. The standard training of Rejuvenation Cocoon is also important. Primal training also adds more WIS if desired.

Grandmaster of Flowers remains a strong cross-train to improve ki regeneration and as a destiny for use in high-combat situations.

I see 150% or greater Fortification is critical to survive. Training the Unyielding Sentinel destiny and using any tricks learned from forum user and Master Assassin Nokowi to gain very high fortification will reduce the high-crit damage that Epic monsters can do.

Currently…(Updated from First Post)

Ryncletica is still doing very well. She’s getting some push-back in damage as she nears level 12. Concentrating on getting No Mercy trained and Greater Ocean Stance for more ki. Once that’s reached, a couple more Melee Power points are planned before continuing Ninja Spy training, then more Harper Agent points gradually through L16.

Drow Kunoichi: Ryncletica Resharpened

Each of my Monks are being regroomed as I try to spread out their levels for helping others, but also for something different.

I’ve sent Syncletica, Flynncletica and Szyncletica into several Epic Normal runs of “Devil’s Assault” to gather Tokens of the Twelve for any reincarnation efforts.

I know who was my next TR target–my first dark Monk, Ryncletica, the kunoichi. But for months now I’ve been unsure how to position her. Too many ninjas? Hell, no, you can’t have too many! And if you do, how would you find them?

And then Update 23 came along to inspire several of us in the game–which caused me to go “screw that” to the Token farming for now and buy a Heroic Heart of Wood for getting the inspiration off the ground immediately.

Melee Powered Poison

This DDO thread notes how Venomed Blades, a poison stance granted to Drow and Assassins, gains a 200% boost to Melee Power, which augments attack damage.

What caught my eye is that there is also amplification to poison damage as well. Not just the damage of Venomed Blades, but the Sting of the Ninja effect as well, where Ninja Poison is injected on critical hits. Teacher Firewall, creator of the Shiradi Shuricannon build, confirms that the 1d8 poison damage of Venomed Blades amplifies with more Melee Power as well as the debuffing of Ninja Poison, ranged or in melee. The higher your Melee Power, the higher the damage.

With that, I was able to make a decision for Ryncletica’s third life. Go Drow, go Ninja Spy.

Now, I already have a Drow ninja: Szyncletica, the Shroud Beater. But she’s designed to use only shuriken. And, sadly, the Sting of the Ninja bug affects any poisoning done with all but a few Cannith-crafted stars, including Venomed Blades. (Firewall confirmed that ranged amplification works but using a star that isn’t bugged from using Sting of the Ninja.)

But melee attacks work perfectly with the poison.

Ryn4

I’M BATGIRL. Well, no. Her pointed ears are in the wrong place.

 

So, for your review, here is Ryncletica reborn, my very first ninja, now in her third life. Still in her kunoichi form (assault ninja), but more streamlined, I think.

As a Drow, she’ll gain not only Venomed Blades to accelerate melee and poison damage but gain improved damage with her shuriken and shortswords, her primary weapon.

The Shuriken Expertise free racial feat turns out to be quite handy with extra stars thrown per attack. Thanks to some tips from Szyncletica, Ryn can “switch-hit” quite well, using stars for remote damage and pulls. I need now to make kamas or shortswords that add any off-hand effects for special occasions.

Unlike her sister, Kiricletica, Ryn will stick to Two Weapon Fighting, preferring the off-hand procs (and the accumulating poison and stat damage it can apply) over attack speed.

Ryn benefits from the major schooling that Kiri showed me with the Freezing the Lifeblood and Pain Touch finishers. If I can’t paralyze it, I mute or blind it, even giants (although their higher Fortitude saves tend to shake it off a little faster).

I’m adding a little Sneak Attack damage as points allow, with No Mercy and Shadow Double as critical training goals. One ability I’ve tended to skip, Subtlety, might come in handy, reducing my Threat while making that quick takedown against scattered foes while in party.

But there’s more in store to differentiate her from Kiri and Szyn.

Adding More Spy to the Spymaster

Ryn is getting Harper Agent training to add some Melee Power for her swords and Ranged Power for when she uses shuriken. Drow Xen’drik Training will add to-hit competence bonuses to her weapons. DEX is the prime stat for all damage, with WIS very close behind to ensure that the finishers land and that Ryn has sufficient ki.

Unlike Kiri, who gains some Melee Power as a Single Weapon Fighter, Ryn has to add some through the Harper tree for now or gain no Melee Power at all in Heroic levels.

The inherent advantages of Drow, from stealth to attack skill, should compensate for the lower CON and HP of the Drow.

Ryn has a Phiarlan Mirror Cloak equipped for a modest Hide/Move Silently boost, and has trained in Shadow Veil for invisibility and incorporeality on-demand. Having never owned a Cloak of Shadows, I see some runs into “The Church and the Cult” to find that item for +10 Hide and Move Silently at level 9. Or, I could wait to get to level 11 and buy/farm tapestry pieces from the Orchard to make a Muffled Veneer for +11 Hide/Move Silently. (I prefer the newer Nightforge Gorget to add 100% fortification through level 14 as it also allows me to slot a Deathblock gem in my necklace.)

Ryn5As for Ninja Spy skills, Ryn is the second Ninja Spy I have to not train in the Touch of Death or Stunning Fist. The reasoning is that Ninja Poison with Melee Power should be a greater killer. Many things immune to negative energy or stuns aren’t immune to poison–and I’m able to deliver poison much faster than ToD hits or stuns.

I can rely quite well on Freezing the Lifeblood’s paralyze on many enemies. Those immune from paralyzing (duergar) are likely too resistant to a stun anyway–but not from getting muted by Pain Touch. Unarmed fighting won’t inject Ninja Poison anyway, so shortswords are the mandatory direction for this build.

Most critically, the Action Point costs to train three trees, Drow, Ninja Spy and Harper Agent will be very, very hard while also trying to cling to the Ninja Master level 20 joys of vorpalling everything.

It means I must spend 40 points in Ninja Spy, plus 1 for the last core, to vorpal. After that, I have only 39 points to spread elsewhere: 18 points required into Drow to unlock Venomed Blades and its three ranks, with the last 11 into Harper Agent or Ninja Spy’s other features.

By my calculations, Harper Agent adds +4 Melee/Ranged Power with +3 to my hireling’s abilities from a nearby ability, trained as a progression prerequisite since I must spend 2 AP to go to the next tier for one more point of Melee/Ranged power. Going Harper may not seem worth it.

But hey, these are all enhancement-based things. If being a Harper Agent becomes too gimpy, I’ll reset the tree and devote its points to my Drow/Ninja Spy trees or put a few points in the Mystic tree for more passive ki.

While only 4 points of Melee Power may not be awesome in Heroic, once back in Epic levels, Shadowdancer and Grandmaster of Flowers training, in addition to the new Epic Power feat, will add more melee power and so, more damage.

Skipping Stunning Fist lets me add the Ten Thousand Stars feat instead to boost thrown weapon damage. So far, with Shuriken Expertise, I’m seeing double and occasional triple hits of stars and can reliably take down targets at range.

The No Mercy enhancement adds up to 30% more damage to my poor paralyzed enemies–with Sneak Attack damage to go with that.

In short, Ryncletica is rebuilt for power takedowns, sacrificing defense and healing for massive poisoning, with a little sneak attack, ranged damage and helpless-based DPS.

Sounds more like a traditional ninja, don’tcha think? It’s too bad that the Ninja Mask cosmetic doesn’t cover Ryn’s pointed ears. Despite her training, she doesn’t look like Batgirl in the right way.

Poison Master Revisited

I groomed Kiricletica to be a good poisoner, but Ryn should be able to take it an order or two of magnitude with the amplified Venomed Blades.

I’m played with some Drow abilities. I trained in Faerie Fire, a spell-like ability that dispels Concealment and Hide effects. It’s not quite as strong as I’d like it to be as it requires CHA for its DC. My early tests of it didn’t even reveal some hidden kobolds in the Searing Heights wilderness, so I’ll likely reset the tree and put those points into more Xen’drik Weapon Training.

Ryn still wants to keep her theatricality, a natural thing to be as a ninja. Any clickies or abilities she can use are fair game. Ninja Spy tactics to escape are still on the board. I suspect that AP needed to upgrade Flash Bang and Poison Exploit  to their maximums will be there, even Sneak Attack–but I can’t max out those abilities and train ability score enhancements, too. Ryn is going to be all-talent, no boosts.

Ryn was my first stealth-heavy character, and is only going to be better at it with Update 19’s changes, fresh gear and the refinements to stealth tactics we’ve all learned (now compiled in the Stormreach Shadows guide, if you didn’t know).

Ryncletica is going to miss the versatility of her second life’s half-elven Cleric dilettante in terms of wands and scrolls, forcing her to pick her battles much more carefully then even Kiri did, having only healing potions and the occasional Wholeness of Body healing. That’s familiar territory for Ryn as she was Halfling in life #1. Ryn’s Drow skills do benefit more than as a Halfling, from sleep immunity, and similar Spot/Listen/Search bonuses, but with a more concentrated throwing advantage than even a Halfling.

Ki generation is the biggest challenge in the early levels. I’ve trained in all 3 ranks of Stealthy to gain its +1 to passive ki generation. But I doubt if I have enough AP to add 8 AP to the Henshin Mystic tree’s Contemplation for another passive point without skipping the whole Harper thing. And I’ve been down that road already in life #2.

I’ll have to do with Greater Ocean Stance’s second passive ki regeneration point at level 12 if I want the Harper side. Since Ryn does melee, she can kick on Fire Stance to generate a bunch of ki on attacks, then go into Sneak with higher WIS and Concentration to retain her cache. That’s been my current tactic.

As for weapons, Szyncletica helped out with some very quick runs into Heroic Three Barrel Cove to farm a Tiefling Assassin’s Blade. Kiri loaned out a +1 Poison Shortsword of Feeding to add to the fun. A second Tiefling blade wouldn’t hurt; Kiri still likes hers despite being twice as high in levels than Ryn. The CON damage, combined with Fists of Darkness’s debuffing and fortification damage, and the Precision stance active, makes for fast damage to most anything so far at her Level 8 status. I need some augment gems for my blades.

Even the Tiefling blades should do well for me for several levels, swapping out some pairs of  Vampiric Fury Shortswords, Vengeful Fury Shortswords (both stat-damaging weaponry types) and crafted Metalline of Pure Good swords for special times until I can re-equip a pair of the Happy-Dance of heroic shortswords, the poison-dripping Envenomed Blades at level 16. Lots of time in Gianthold to get some White Dragonscale Armor, too.

Ryncletica should be the summation of the experience of two other ninja–deadly at range, deadliest at point-blank range. She and Sukitetica the Assassin have more in common right now. Stay tuned.

Broken Spokes in the Wheel of Life

wheel_of_life

Samara is ever-present in the world of Dungeons & Dragons Online. We truly reincarnate to improve ourselves. But when should we try to break the cycle?

I have 18 characters. Four are banks. One is a semi-retired Drow Artificer that hasn’t played since before the new enhancements.

One is a halfing L18 Thief-Acrobat Rogue still on its first life and dreadfully confused about herself as she learns the new abilities. A half-Elf Paladin recently met its demise to allow Flynncletica to appear.

The three Ninja Spies, Ryncletica, Szyncletica and Kiricletica, each bring a unique fighting style. Ryn is an unarmed Shadowdancer-enabled L25 Monk in her second life. Szyncletica is a L27 Shiradi Shuricannon also in her second life. Kiricletica is the accomplished hard-solo shortsword master at L26 in her first life.

Pynthetica was a Arcane Archer Ranger in life 1 and is now a pure Zen Archer Monk at level 17.

That leaves two Shintao Monks, Lynncletica the Earth tanker at level 25, and Syncletica herself, refusing to fight much since she seemed too vulnerable for harder Epic play in her second life at level 23. Quintessica rounds out the dojo in her second life as a Henshin Mystic at level 23.

I bore you with this character list because, as you can see, there are far too many of them sitting at Epic levels. It’s time for some of them to start again, to take another cycle in the wheel of life.

But should any of them simply submit to the circle of samara and become a Monk once again? Or should they consider a bit more?

I’m leaning to the more.

Yes, the person that doesn’t teach multiclassing per se in the Monk guide is considering other classes–sort of.

It’s not a tough concept. I have more than enough characters to experiment and learn what others have done before me and have enjoyed. I’m not paving any new ground except for my own fun. As well, I have more than enough characters to explore any tenets of a pure Monk to afford a cross-class training session.

But enlightenment is a bitch, or makes you one.

On Syncletica

As you may know, Syncletica is my first character and my first Monk.

For her third life, I envision that she should explore more of the divine powers and train in Cleric levels. She would still have a minimum of 2 Monk levels but would be a better aid to others.

Else, especially with the new enhancement pass, I should take one more turn as a Wind Stancer, improving her durability to match her speed. I know a lot more about miss-chance, PRR and AC now than when she last left the dojo.

On Ryncletica

Ryn was once a halfling. I see her returning to her original small stature from her life as a human, but with Rogue levels.

Now, I’ve tried and failed to balance a character to have superior Rogue skills while also keeping a monastic fighting style. I’ll need to seriously plan her build with RJ’s Character Builder and read up on other builds before attempting this again.

Else, Ryn could explore a new class. I’ve wanted to explore the Druid, so this is an option.

On Kiricletica

There’s still more to explore with Kiri as a pure Ninja Spy in life 2, so I will not change her design once she reincarnates. She was a blast to play in hard-solo mode.

With her patented Ninja Poison attacks not working with the latest update, she’s in stasis until it’s working again. I’ve been trying to get more bug reports submitted to get this resolved.

On Lynncletica

I’ve told myself time and again that Lynncletica will stay Epic as she was my most durable character and can farm many places for other characters.

That’s changed with Szyncletica; who has done what Lynn has not by surviving Epic Elite adventures alone.

I still want to improve Lynn’s overall capacity to keep and hold attention as a light tanker. She is certainly the strongest self-healer I have, although her DPS is a bit lacking. She was still at L25 when the Update 19 enhancement changes came about, so she’s not as optimized for tanking as she could be with a tweak of enhancements.

I’ll have Lynn and Szyn farm Tokens of the Twelve for themselves and others.

On Szyncletica

I love the Shuricannon build too much to change one bit of Szyn’s abilities. The more past lives for her, the better.

If I do add a new path for her, shortsword work or Ranger prowess isn’t a bad one. She is my strongest Monk and has proven able to complete Epic Elite, solo if necessary, and has even completed a portion of the Shroud alone.

As I said, if Lynn reincarnates, then Szyn stays Epic until Lynn returns to power.

On Quintessica

The Mystic is a really potent staff-wielder with incredible DPS. Only Szyncletica  can claim better numbers. The thread on training an Epic Destiny to boost spell power and damage is quite appealing.

For now I’ll keep Quin in Epic while I add in some points. It will take time since it requires a lot of ED training for sphere hopping to the Arcane side.

Once she does complete this training, a bit of Druidic training might be nice.

Or, is this the time for my first Wizard or Sorcerer? I don’t know.

On Pynthetica

Her experimentation in Zen Archery is coming along well. She’s my first and only character to come from a non-monastic class into the Monk class, so it’s not outside probability to see her try her hand at being an Artificer, or to see if Deepwood Sniper can meld well with her ranged past life and her monastic life.

On Allysen

Allysen is my halfling Acrobat Rogue at level 18 and the oldest character I have to have never reincarnated.

I think I should either use the Lesser Heart of Wood to respec her and get her into Epic Shadowdancer training before I reincarnate her into something else. Would she be the better candidate for a Rogue Monk than Ryncletica? The gear she’s gathered suggests yes.

On the Others

  • I retired my paladin and created Flynncletica. This swashbuckler is a blast to play to the point where I’m neglecting my monastic training.
  • Arcammedes dutifully sits in the crafting hall at L19 in her first life as Artificer. She’s not been on the battlefield for over a year.

I should train her enhancements and at least see her to Level 20 or so. A reincarnation won’t remove her crafting prowess but would completely free her inventory slots for holding stuff. She’s not going anywhere with her crafting levels–and that’s the problem.

  • There’s still a Kensei to train.

Four bank characters now hold a lot of gear. Much of it I gathered long ago in trying to keep a storehouse of gear for any guildmates to use in building a Monk. Now, I think, that time’s past, especially with crafting as an option for any low-level gear I can generate for someone as unbound.

I’m selling off most of this to free up at least one more character slot.

Have I Hit the Wall in the Circle?

As long-time readers of the guide and the blog know, I like to chew through the many permutations of the Monk as a single class.

Generally I’ve studied a class tree’s strengths and weaponized them, such as Kiricletica.

Lately I haven’t been very creative here, generating or adapting new builds. Perhaps it’s my disappointment with a few bugs such as Ninja Poison failing, which has all but stopped Kiricletica’s progress. Maybe my mind is becoming too combat-oriented thanks to the sword-wielding non-Monk, Flynncletica.

Perhaps I haven’t studied the Monk and non-Monk class trees enough to see a new wheel on which to roll a character along in a new path of study.

And perhaps I’m impatient for progress. There is one clear path I haven’t explored with Theacletica as she trains as a Kensei, as I noted.

That’s the problem of samara. Your own limitations prevent you from breaking the cycle of life and death. It’s difficult to move forward sometimes; you feel stuck in a circle, attracted by easy victory or novelty.

I think I require more study. The path of enlightenment is not supposed to be easy.

In any case, I’m open to some suggestions to explore. But be warned that I don’t take change well for change’s sake. I like the diversity of DDO, but the best damage is secondary to the best gameplay, and I’ve not the patience or time for what I see is the tedium of multiclassed tweaking.

It’s Monday, and Sir Geoff of Hanna has posted a nice meditative animation. Yes…calming and peaceful. Enlightenment doesn’t happen in a chaotic mind.

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