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.

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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? 🙂

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