On Locusts and Honey: Hermit Syncletica

In the desolation hide all the answers.

In the desolation hides the answers.

DDO Forum user Grace_ana asked me to visit a thread about beginner builds. She set some rules for new beginner preset build concepts, based on what’s offered but commonly unused from the character creation screen:

Rules for the pre-made paths are as follows:
1. It must be a pure build.
2. It cannot require any tomes.
3. It should have both a 28-pt and 32-pt option.
4. It should be workable with any race. This means including racial feats is fine, as long as a particular racial feat isn't vital.
5. Don't include enhancements, though the paths should be anchored in a tree much like the current ones are anchored in a former PRE.
6. It should only go up to level 20.

I couldn’t break things down in number-crunch mode using character creation tools. But I could recite the natural advantages of a human Monk without a lot of fuss.

A Monk is a natural fighter that doesn’t really require much from the enhancement trees to be a viable fighter, completely naked, into level 20. And I answered so, breaking down the reasons why.

I’m not sure if I properly helped Grace in her thread. I suspect I didn’t, leaving more questions than answers. But she inspired me.

I feel compelled to verify what I’ve said. It might be, to-date, my most challenging project since Kiricletica’s solo adventures.

Syncletica in the Desert

My first Monk and namesake to the blog and guide has been a bit idle. I’ve reincarnated her Shintao counterpart, Lynncletica, as an improved Shintao tanker. As a Wind-Stance Monk, Syn was generally great in Heroic but had issues in Epic play. They are my only Shintao Monks.

Syncletica is named for a real-life monk–specifically, a Desert Mother, a monastic of the early Catholic Church in the Fourth Century. Said to be very beautiful, she gave up her family’s wealth to devote a life to prayer, living in the desert.

I have always tried to show the qualities of the Monk class. To do something different and worthy rather than trying to build the best one. And its been quite a while since the abbess herself has made any news; all of her students are more “famous.”

SynHermitSo, like her namesake, I sent Syncletica into the desert.

Away from her stores of equipment. Away from her students and dojo.

She lives a meager earning, scraping by for platinum to purchase healing potions. Staying away from her guildship and the buffs it provides, its shelter.

In her third life, she owns nothing re-equipped from her past life, nothing in her inventory. No leaving the snowy side of Korthos for better-than-starter items for her first lives, or buffs.

If she finds something useful in the course of her adventures, she may keep it. But her Resurrection Cache and bank is far away, gathering dust in the city banks and never available.

Like John the Baptist in New Testament lore, her subsistence is simple, starting by the shipwreck by Korthos Island and fighting forward. She must make the most out of less.

She declines loans from player characters out of quest; everything she possesses must be earned by her efforts (that is, no twinking). If she wants something crafted, she’ll have to do it herself. In a party, she will accept buffs but not call out for any specific buff for her own sake.

If her inventory fills, she cannot reach a bank and must sell or abandon what she has. She’ll have no collectible or ingredient bags short of what is given to her in this new life.

All that is old is new again. Damage bypassing will come from handwraps and kamas, if need be. Augment gems may help this challenge. Her memory filled with stories of Kiricletica braving adventures alone, Syn will have to emulate some of her student’s art. Life will be expensive. It will be difficult.

Most importantly, this Syncletica does not train any class enhancement trees. She’ll use the human racial enhancements, but that is all. She will choose the path of light once more, choosing the Fists of Light feat at level 3 but will not train the Shintao or any other class tree.

She’ll train some feats to improve her prowess. Two-Weapon Fighting, Dodge and Mobility, Stunning Fist, and a few others. Tactical combat feats will be important. She trains the Dragonmark of Passage for a speed boost and, later, Dimension Door and Teleport.

And what items Syncletica does find may not fit with her new meditations. She might choose to wear only a robe, a ring and a bracelet, and these things only for some important protections, such as Deathblock and Fortification.

Her goal is to demonstrate and completely master all available powers of the unarmed self, not to have those powers skewed or even corrupted by things she may wear or training from a special school. She wants to show the inner quality, the finer edge of the living weapon that is the Monk.

Non-combat skills are critical, such as Diplomacy. Enlightenment does not necessarily include fighting.

Hirelings are allowable, but Syncletica would prefer to push herself rather than find herself dependent on them. A few quests will require one for mandatory levers or switches.

The Hermit Challenge

Everything I know of Monks in the DDO world began with Syncletica (carrying over lessons learned in the Neverwinter Nights games). Over time, I compiled what I’ve learned in gameplay and from others into a guide.

By testing her in this playstyle I can do some things I managed with Kiricletica, such as increasing my appreciation of finishing moves and stealth.

But I may also be able to show how little is needed as a viable Monk up to level 20. After that, the rules change dramatically with Epic monsters and I don’t think any build as bare as this could survive without enhancements and Epic Destiny training.

I’ve claimed in my guide that a Monk is still quite deadly with little to no equipment.  Syncletica becomes my demonstration of this claim.

I will try to give detailed build specifics and report her progress often to illustrate strengths and weaknesses.

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.

Practicing What You Preach (Or, Why Syncletica Sucks)

MinotaurAggro

Sometimes, Syncletica is a moron. In this not-so-related capture, we see Syncletica’s stone floating peacefully, surrounded by the WHOLE minotaur city that came to greet and beat her.

Some time ago I mentioned an Epic Elite run with my guildmates into “The Portal Opens” where Syncletica felt all “Hey–I know kung fu” confident–right up to when she was killed like a gnat in the first 20 seconds of the adventure.

I’ve been playing and enjoying the game too much using other toons, dealing with real-life, updating the Monk guide and enduring many new and planned game updates to get around to giving Syncletica a decent post-mortem–until now.

Syncletica is my very first DDO character. Her other students, Lynncletica and Ryncletica, have an advantage in that they are built from the harsh lessons of Syncletica’s gameplay. For some reason, I didn’t meld much of Lynn and Ryn’s experience into Syn’s second life, and it gravely shows. I must’ve been sleeping on the day that I True Reincarnated her.

Poor Miss Chance

Syncletica’s Dodge bonus at level 23 was a puny 8%. Nope, that’s not a typo. Lynn, an Earth Stancer, has a respectable 18%, while Ryncletica runs at 21% at Level 17 and will have it perpetually maxed when back in Shadowdancer destiny.

That’s pretty lame. Syncletica plays fine in Heroic adventures but a mere 8% chance to save against an attack is a mortal flaw.

While Syncletica is a fan of the Dance of Clouds 20% concealment buff she can generate herself, she has no incorporeality bonus.

Summing it up, Syncletica needs some gear and a retool of her feats for better Dodge. She’s a Wind Stancer with very high Doublestrike (16% to 22%) but she won’t survive to use it until I add in some feats and a bit of gear to raise her Dodge to at least 16%. An Epic Gianthold Ring of Shadows would be useful here.

As with Ryncletica, it would be logical to adjust feats to add Whirlwind Attack. The prerequisite feats for it (Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack) would add in an instant 7% Dodge bonus but also Combat Expertise to boost AC by 10%.  A Monk with Doublestrike and Whirlwind Attack should have crazy procs on off-hand attacks, helping to clear a room faster. I’ve long since required that all Monks have at least Cleave in their build, so this will eat three, not four, effective slots.

If time allows, Shadowdancer training to get Shadow Form for 25% incorporeality and better Dodge would also make Syn a longer lasting fighter.

Poor Epic Fortification

Syncletica was slaughtered in EE Portal Opens because she entered with only 100% fortification. The enemies in a typical EE are CR 40 or more. That means Syn needs at least 140% fortification to survive a direct critical hit at least once. Without that, Syn was instantly killed by a critical hit.

She’ll need to train a bit in Unyielding Sentinel for its tier 1 “Brace for Impact” which gives 40% stacking fortification and +2 to Reflex saves (handy for Evasion).

She owns a Fabricator’s Ingenuity set to add in additional 25% stacking fortification if needed, and she should own a 20% or higher exceptional fortification item to add to this.

Poor Saves

Syncletica’s saves are average. Her Wind Stance reduces her Fortitude saves. Her high DEX should help her Reflex saves, but something is missing. As I note in the Monk guide, based on DDO forum discussions and Lynncletica’s experience, a 40 save is minimal for Epic Elite, 50 is good, 60 is godly.

Syn should train more in Ocean Stance. She’s loved the use of Void Strike IV in the past. However, it’s now a liability since it’s not as reliable as a kill strike before Epic levels, as well as the massive AP drain in training other stances to qualify for it. Further, the Grandmaster of Flowers tier 6 ability, Everything is Nothing, is effectively a Void Strike IV, Mass, with a certain kill success, that requires destiny points, not action points. Syn needs the saves (and Dodge bonuses) that Grandmaster of Oceans can provide. The downside is that I might not be able to improve her Earth Stance beyond Adept level…there won’t be enough APs for more than two Master or greater stances, I suspect.

Speed is Not Enough

Wind Stance is a joy to play. It’s certainly more kung-fu than the other stances. But EE is an endurance game and Syn was far too spongy to succeed in her current level.

A thought came to me to consider training her more in the Legendary Dreadnought destiny. Aside from working to get Improved Combat Expertise (for more PRR; Syn currently hasn’t any), she can certainly take advantage of the action boosts. Syn can already seem a blur when fighting, but a haste action boost would make her essentially ethereal to her foes.

The damage and attack boosts would certainly not hurt, either. Training the destiny to maximum for the epic moment of Master’s Blitz would make Syn a powerfully fast fighter. The question remaining involves Syn’s ability stats, specifically, STR. I’ve learned from Lynn how important STR really can be in determining damage (I’ve not played other melees so forgive my Captain Obvious epiphany), yet I’ve often put STR on the lesser track. Syn has high DEX…maybe too high. Two or more points need to go from DEX to STR, if not a bit more. The change will affect Reflex saves but give far greater damage per second. On a Wind Stancer, that means you’re aren’t shooting faster, necessarily, but your bullets will be much larger.

Down on the Farm

Looks like Lynncletica will have to spend a bit more time in “Devil Assault”  to build up some Tokens of the Twelve so that I can reincarnate Syncletica once more. As it seems, Syn should become an interesting fusion from Lynn’s Earth schooling and Ryn’s shadowy Ocean schooling to make her a powerhouse fighter once more.

I guess I should prepare for the new enhancements, too, and how that will affect all of my characters. I’ll have to apply GamerGeoff’s workaround for the broken updated TurbineInvoker code to get my Lammania client started again.

This is War, Cassie

I’ll admit that my life affects how I play my characters. I am not a typically aggressive sort.

In fact, were not for a couple of details, I could have lived a more contemplative life as a deacon in the Catholic Church. I guess I could consider, in my latter years to come, a life as an oblate with a religious order.

Syncletica is a real name of a real abbess of a monastic order in the 3rd Century. As a Catholic myself, I don’t believe that aggression is the first step in resolving issues. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy the Monk class with its syncretic blending of contemplative pseudo-Eastern philosophies, some based on fiction and others fact, to give life to the class.

That said, the world of Ebberon, like our own, is not entirely peaceful. As such, my Syncletica is a warrior abbess and cannot promote training in her dojo that doesn’t ultimately aid in the defense of X’endrik, including the elimination of enemies.

ninja peekI made the decision, as of reaching level 10 last night on Cassietetica, to make her a Rogue Assassin, rather than a Mechanic as planned.

Comments from my posts on Cassie gave me most of my motivation. She needs to be able to fight as well as she can hide and remove traps. Further, a Mechanic gains proficiency with repeating crossbows but this also uncenters a Monk using one. Assassinate will work unarmed or with ki weapons (shortswords or kamas).

Despite some objectives in a few quests where you can talk yourself out of a fight, pacifism as a whole is not the way of DDO.

Been leveling up Cassie heavily over the last few days. Now is the time to add her last two Monk levels to reach level 6 and get the Ninja Spy skills for invisibility/incorporeality, a few numbers for stealth, and shortsword proficiency. Got a lot left to play in reaching level 12:  “Gwylan’s Stand,” “Tear of Dhakaan,” “Redwillow’s Ruins,” the House Deneith chain, Sorrowdusk chain and perhaps the Necropolis and Threnal adventures that should get me to this point. From there, she gets all Rogue levels.

To make Assassinate work best, Cassie’s INT is a priority since it uses that modifier and level 14 will be as high as she goes for the Rogue level modifier. I need a boost there to add Combat Expertise and Whirlwind Attack to help her overall fighting in crunch times.

In most cases, she’ll still avoid attacking. Her stealth numbers should be quite good. But when something gets in her way, she should be quite capable of removing it and keep herself in stealth–something Ryncletica cannot do.