Thank You, Developers

trophyUpdate 33 Hotfix 1 is arriving as I type this.

The release notes are short, as hotfixes tend to be quick bullet points.

There’s been some important fixes, such as purple and red-named bosses not becoming Champions.

A guildmate had to play the Spinner of Shadows in Epic with a crown on her head–as if she needed any more overpowered abilities!

But less can be more when it comes to patches.

The best news:

  • Handwraps no longer take durability damage.

Obviously I haven’t tested this just yet. But it’s good news. Not because we Monks want special treatment, but because the change of handwraps to non-weapons (with all the downsides that weapons can have against oozes and rust monsters) made the class potentially more expensive to use in early levels. It was also a sudden change that most of us were hardly ready to compensate for, through crafting or other means.

I would’ve also been happy to have Everbright wraps given to new Monks in Korthos as well as Heroic and Epic named Everbright wraps we could find, rather than mucking with sensitive code. But the devs decided to find a global change, and it’s no less appreciated.

It also means that parties once more have a member that can handle oozes without splitting them (in general), damaging their weapons or wasting spell points. Every class has at least one benefit to a party, and Monks benefitted from ooze-bashing, too, especially in lower levels where ki generation is harder.

Now new Monks won’t be as broke as they might have been. Thanks for the quick fix, devs.

Another fix was something I had noticed in gameplay sometimes:

  • Monk Damage Reduction on handwraps will no longer disappear after zoning or resting.

I would notice that, when wearing my Storm’s Harness handwraps, the electric damage wouldn’t be activating. After swapping to another pair of wraps and back, the damage would reappear. Now, I don’t recall resting (I rarely use shrines except for resetting spell points, clickies, or death penalties) when this problem happened.

In related news, I have heard rumors that the Tower of Despair “Incredible Potential” rings might be problematic with the handwrap change. I’ve not yet tested this and will report when I can, but if anyone has a Holy Bursted ring and can verify if the ring still works with the new handwrap format, just shout out.

 

 

A Drow In Despair

Szyncletica1

I’m away from DDO during the season of Lent. This is a saved post I’ve made while I’m away. This post may or may not contain sensitive subject matter unsuitable for some minds (specifically, religion).

Reader discretion advised.

~~~

With a solo of the Shroud under Szyncletica’s belt, what’s next for this mad Monk?

Once upon a time not long ago, the “Tower of Despair” raid was an important objective for Monks to find ingredients for and any of the special rings there which can be used to create a DR-breaking bursting ring that worked only with unarmed attacks.

It was the dev’s substitute for being unable to upgrade the already-existing Green Steel crafting system to accommodate the introduction of handwraps when the Monk class arrived shortly thereafter.

Nowadays, there are plenty of handwraps you can craft and use to break DR from other systems in the game, so the whining of the lack of GS wraps has faded. But with the introduction of Epic characters and quests, so has the desire for people to run “ToD.”

Now, these Incredible Potential rings aren’t much use to Szyn, either, as a throwing Monk. The ring’s unlocked Holy Burst and related bursts work only on unarmed attacks.

But there’s wasn’t much in the way of loot in the Shroud to gain for Szyn, either. She completed it simply to say that she did. And so it is for the Tower.

I wouldn’t dream of this insane run were it not for the Thunder-Forged Shuriken that causes incredible damage fast enough to destroy a pit fiend alone.

The question now is whether Szyn can manage two bosses at the same time on a Normal-difficulty run.

The Good

From a matter of destruction, Szyn’s weaponry as a maxed L28 character should do short work against the trash inside the Tower. She can already handle the same kinds of nastiness alone inside an Epic Hard “Devil Assault” as she did in the Shroud. She uses Rejuvenation Cocoon, has high miss-chance powers and strong Reflex saves (90) because of her very high DEX (62+ when the winds are right).

The Bad

The first challenge will be destroying the Judge and the Jailer in part 1. I’m unsure if I can keep the attention of only one, or if I’m going to have to fight both at once. Improved Precise Shot will help. I’m not sure if Freedom of Movement will help against chaining effects from one of them.

The best news is that, being a Monk, my resistances to certain attacks are higher and I’m highly maneuverable and damage-resistant, keeping my distance as I attack. I only need to carry a small barge-load of Remove Curse potions and watch my healing.

The Ugly

I expect the fight against Nythirios and his Shadowfiends in Part 2 will be far harder than smacking Horoth into his component atoms in Part 3.

Veterans know that Nythirios is a pit fiend like Harry. No big thing there. But it’s his little dark icy-cold pets that swarm around, trying to freeze-kill over entire parties that disturbs me. In a normal party, you need only to designate someone to aggro the Shadowfiends, drawing them away from the party while your main team beats Nythirios into goo. When he’s down, the deadly fiends vanish. I’ve watched 10 HP casters do this job and, surprisingly, stay alive. If a HP-weak Wizard can do it, then a thrower should be able.

For me, I’ll have to kite everything (when do I not kite?). Szyn is very fast in attack and speed (permanent Haste through the Epic feat Blinding Speed), so she’ll need to have lots of Protection against Cold potions handy to slow any of the serious damage that a Shadowfiend might hit her with if she grazes one too close. My hope is that I’ll just drag Nythirios and Friends, kiting them while my Shiradi effects and Celestia off-hand explosions kill off the Shadowfiends long enough to reduce them as a threat while continually aiming at the fiend to end him. I’m always using Improved Precise Shot so any strikes hit all between me and my target if I can keep the alignment right.

In Part 3, again, it’s a matter of kiting. The room is generally a circle and big enough for me to do this. Horoth has a stunning attack that I cannot counter as a dark Monk, but I hope to survive it long enough to put down enough damage on him. Plenty of Orthon trash spawns and respawns, and then Suulomades the horned devils enters to try to trash me, too. I could change my target to Suulo while running for my life if things are stable enough, then slay Horoth.

It’ll be a matter of experimentation based on how much damage I’m taking and how much damage I can inflict against trash and bosses before Horoth gets lucky with a Disintegrate hit or prolonged stun. While now in possession of the FoM-granting Orcish Privateer’s Boots, I must wear Boots of Anchoring throughout the battle to keep from getting banished to Eberron.

This is a complete experiment because I’m a little bored, and also because I want to know the lay of the land before I think of taking my Ranger inside to hunt for her Gilvenor’s Ring. When paired with Gilvenor’s Necklace from another Devil Battlefield quest, she’d gain 10% Ranged Alacrity as a Competence Bonus–stacking with other Ranged Alacrity bonuses.

Imagine having 30% Ranged Alacrity once I get a Pinion bow (20% alacrity) and when wearing these items.

I did. I needed to cuddle and have a cigarette after that. I don’t smoke.

Postmortem: Attempt #1

So, shortly before my sabbatical, I took Szyn the thrower into “Tower of Despair.”

The cool part is that I was able to use stealth to avoid a lot of fighting before entering the realm of the Judge and Jailer, sneaking by 90% of everything.

That first fight worked out about the way I expected, and I was victorious. I used my Thunder-Forged Shuriken for much of the fight because of the raw damage, but experimented with my Green Steel Mineral II star as well.

I took some time to prep for the expected nightmare of Part 2, arming myself with Fire Shield items, watching others complete the area while alone and how they didn’t die. But then I made the mistake of thinking too much after watching VoodooSpyce’s videos, particularly a run into the Tower while solo. His character stood still, not kiting, so that the Shadowfiend’s cold aura wouldn’t hit him nearly as often. I felt cocky and tried it his way.

I was slaughtered rather quickly by standing still.

I should’ve stuck to my first instinct to kite the Shadowfiend while attacking the pit fiend. While VoodooSpyce’s videos was useful, I may need to look to the monkchers in the crowd to see what can be done here, at the least.

And lo, a Holy Artifact was Crafted

After hundreds of adventurers in Smuggler’s Rest (wish they) were struck blind by a very public…coupling by a minotaur and hobgoblin, I needed to make a holy artifact to apply to MY EYES. That, and send any of my characters over to the Twelve’s Psychologists for a Forget-That-Happened balm.

Well, the artifact came just in time in the form of Lynncletica’s first Holy Bursted Radiant Ring. It took the sting off that sighting.

To aid in my therapy, I joined a few Tyrs Paladium guildies for a Epic run through “Bargain of Blood.” We had a few deaths (a little too much aggro in places) but we made it through. Lynn’s new ring (combined with a Greater Bold Trinket and Thaarak Wraps) made at least 12 numbers appear over the pitiful heads of our enemies on critical hits. Didn’t hurt to have a Seeker +8 effect between my Crystal Cove pirate hat and the Bold Trinket, either.

Now to get the guildies to run Epic “The Tide Turns” for a chance at Jidz-Tet’ka epic crafting items.

“Who Will Kite the Judge?”

I’ve been busy in preparing my Strength-based light Monk, Lynncletica, to take over the reins as my level 20 melee fighter with Syncletica’s TR scheduled for Easter (an appropriate time than any, don’t you think?). Lynn received her Void Strike IV and capped in the last week, a fully capable Grandmaster of Mountains, but not tested in any Epic as yet.

Lynn was still short two of her flagging quests for the Tower of Despair. Fellow guildies that I would love to invite were scarce that day (blame NCAA March Madness, I think) so, desperate to Get ‘Er Done, I studied the two quests left to do: “Bastion of Power” and “A New Invasion.” I brought in Heystack the Cleric hireling for emergencies and parked him in passive mode at the start of “Invasion” and got to work, carefully at first.

I’ve generated quite an affinity for Syncletica, my main toon, a Dexterity-based light Monk and a Grandmaster of Wind. She’s now well-geared and very dangerous, so I’m hardly hesitant in sending her solo through all but a very few non-Epic places in the game . But Lynncletica has a history of venturing where archons fear to tread, and taking more damage to boot. But, now a Grandmaster with her capstone of DR 10/Epic, enought had changed in Lynn’s durability to put her Grandmaster training to a full test–but not insanely. I entered both quests on Casual just to get them flagged.

Alone in the Bowels of Amrath

In both quests, Lynn alternated between Fire Stance to generate ki and held in Mountain Stance for damage and defense. The swarms of orthons, devils and tieflings were quite manageable; only the air elementals posed a challenge if they joined up with mobs. They’d either push Lynn away or, worse, knock her down. Fortunately, elementals are Outsiders, so, once I noted their fight pattern, a quick Tomb of Jade strike froze the blowhards solid, whereby I pummeled the things into nothingness.

Came the time for the end-fight. As vets of this quest know, you fall into a circular room. Everything is trapped, specifically a series of platforms that surround the deadly interior. In addition to a small mob of devils is Barnzidu, one really honked-off pit fiend. Your challenge in killing him involves the healing curses that the fiend throws in combination with the platforms that release a deadly explosion if anything (players, hirelings, soulstones) stand on the platform longer than a few seconds.

But Lynn was durable enough (thanks to playing Casual). Her Evasion, combined with her ability to remove her own curses, made the fight generally easy. It’s like what Dory said, in a fashion. “Just keep running…just keep running…”

The “Bastion” run was more challenging because of the recurring spawns and the confusing layout. By the time I found myself to the end-boss, my ship buffs were completely gone. Taking out the fiend there wasn’t too hard (sadly, I couldn’t use his reverse gravity to get the switches to the third chest). The maralith arrived and I began to pummel it, focusing too hard on its hit points and not on my own. Ding.

Luckily, the maralith had only a handful of hit points, and I had a Spirit Cake from the 6th DDO Birthday. Exactly two punches later, it was over. Sadly, no special loot from either of these quests, but at least Lynn was flagged for Tower of Despair.

The Little Mountain Must Stand

A day or so later, I found a PuG for Tower that was filling fast. The leader was nice and cordial but often his verbal requests were often ignored; maybe only he, myself and one other cared to use voice chat. One good sport teleported me to the ToD entrance (thanks!) else you have to run there (a NPC at the entrance will allow you direct teleport to the entrance in the future once you speak to him).

The party leader asks for someone to kite the Judge, a massive orthon, in part 1 of our fight. No one responds. He asks a second time before I do the unthinkable. I normally do not see Monks as decent kiters as they do not generate enough aggro to keep the monster focused on them. Kiting also has its risks in getting the full wrath and damage when fighting a boss alone.

“I’ll kite the Judge,” I say, with no small amount of trepidation. This time, I wouldn’t be running on Casual. It was a raid, on Normal. It was Lynn’s most definitive build test to date: Would she be able to keep the Judge busy and live?

The party falls inside the lair. Death at this stage is similar to Part 4 of The Shroud. Should you die here, the Jailer will teleport you and your soulstone into a jail where resurrection is impossible until after both he and the Judge are dead. If too many people die here, the raid will wipe. The area is filled with undisarmable traps amidst narrow platforms, all surrounded by Shararath lava (far more damaging per second than regular lava). A few fire elementals and hellhounds stir up the works as well.

The bulk of the party charges the Jailer. I kick into Fire stance, make a beeline to the Judge and strike him a few times to build up ki before changing to Mountain Stance. In this Ultimate stance, I generate 70% more threat but also gain more damage resistance.

It worked. The orthon becomes very ticked at me and doggedly chased my butt all over the area, ignoring everyone else.

Both Jailer and Judge also perform a maneuver that flings the party away en masse, where you have to re-engage and pray you aren’t tossed into a trap or lava. Monks don’t fly but we glide very, very well, so I am able to re-engage the Judge quickly. One Cleric was kind and wise enough to stick close to me and throw me a few heals when my own Healing Ki was insufficient to the damage received.

Lynn was tenacious and as durable as I hoped her build would be. She pounded the orthon mercilessly, taking relatively little damage when confronting the Judge head-on (his pea-shooter is nasty if he targets you from a distance). Even with criticals, Lynn wasn’t going to lower the orthon’s hit points; they were far too numerous for her to make a sizable dent against him.

But Mountain Stance IV training (combined with Epic DR) had paid off. Lynncletica stood as solidly as a little mountain, holding the orthon’s attention long enough for the Jailer to meet his end before the party turned to end the Judge together.

In hindsight, I should’ve switched to my Vampiric Stonedust Wraps for extra healing and possible stoneskins on myself for more protection, but it all worked well enough.

The remaining raid went off without a hitch. For loot, Lynncletica received the best item she could get that wasn’t a ring: Oremi’s Necklace. Now she needn’t switch to Fire Stance for ki as often.

So now, Lynncletica needs to continue beefing up her WIS and DEX for a bit more AC (Syncletica holds at 51 unbuffed). Her next target: the Icy Raiment. She’s been running solo attempts at Garamol for those, but perhaps I’ll get a few guildies’ attention to help.

Looks like Lynn will be a fine successor to Syn as time passes.

The Power of the Ring

“He’s stunning me!” I hear behind me, over the clangs and shouts of others in the party, deep in the heart of the halls of command inside the Tower of Despair.

The tanking fighter, immobile from a glancing blow, was saved from death by the hands of the pit demon Horoth only because another fighter began striking the monster, drawing the thing’s attention away.

I leapt over to the fighter, now revived from his stun, while beginning the rhythmic motions that attuned my ki to energize the party briefly in Grasping the Earth Dragon to ward briefly against future stunning attempts.

The pit fiend’s eternal orthon guard reappeared again. You could kill them again and again yet they reappeared. I wiped a bead of sweat and blood from the corner of my mouth and ran toward the closest one.

By now the party had been taxed in luring a second pit fiend, Suulomades, away from the main fight against Horoth, quickly consuming time, elixirs and health. More than once has a cleric nearly exhausted their divine resources in keeping the fighters alive and restoring life to two others in the party. In a few minutes, if we did not send Horoth into the abyss, none of us would live to discuss our failure.

I positioned my hand in the correct orientation for the Tomb of Jade and struck the orthon solidly in his chest. The creature froze as a wave of jade stone encased him solidly in place, hopefully for a minute or so.

With my Vampiric Stonedust Wraps in place, I positioned myself in the Greater Mountain Stance as another orthon threatened a spell caster, his attempts to slow or stop the stampeding beast failing each time. I chased the orthon, throwing strike after strike until it finally petrified, encased in unyielding stone. I looked about; two other enterprising spell casters had stoned the two remaining orthons. We bought a little more time for the fighters before these unkillable guards would revive and charge us again.

Just as I was assuring that the bulk of the party would not get stunned again, the unearthly scream of the dying pit fiend filled the hall–the party had vanquished him. Suulomades saw Horoth fall and chose not to meet the same fate, disappearing into the ether. It was over.

After the party cared for the injured, we sorted through the bounty left by the pit fiends. Much of it was treasure they had gathered from other failed adventurers. In one ordinary pile, I found what I sought. It was a knife-like relic, probably as old as the halls from where it rested. I helped get the party to safety, back to the floating fortress of Amrath, and then asked the planescaller to send me back to the plane of Ebberon.

In my dojo, I studied the act of crafting a special ring left to me by a monk of long ago that once fought in the fields of Shavarath. It gave Shintao Monks extra strength and wisdom. From my treasure I removed a necklace from my recent victory in the Tower. The ornate dark metals and single green stone showed a kindred with my ring. The necklace offered greater mental clarity for ki and better health.

I equipped both ring and necklace and felt a surge of energy. I’ve felt it before but only when wearing Pure Good handwraps. Together the ring and necklace allowed me to channel Good-aligned energies without additional equipment. Combined with my training in bypassing Silver and other metals by fist alone, I should have felt satisfied in my prowess against the forces of Shavarath.

But I knew better. I have seen warriors, with three times the might and strength I have, fall to the power of Shavarath. My skills may have made me dangerous, but I greatly doubted I was worthy of bringing ultimate victory for Ebberon.

I gazed at Kyosho’s ring, found something I had never seen before–an inscription that told me to “Unleash” a hidden power inside it. This would take more study than my dojo could offer, so I took to the roads to visit the training halls in Stormreach. Many new students were training there, stumbling and fumbling as they tried to master the simplest finishing moves. I found the one I searched for.

“Master Ryone.”

“Abbotess Syncletica,” he said, as we bowed to another. “It pleases me to see you still in one piece.”

“Glad to see you as well, Master. I wanted to ask you about this,” I said, showing him the ring.

The master nodded. “Ah, yes. You own one of Kyosho’s rings, too.”

“‘As well?’ I thought these were unique.”

“They are, in as much as very few of them were forged by the old master. Have you something to ask about it?” the master asked, stepping away from the training floor and walking into a hallway, motioning me gently to follow.

“Is there more to these rings than wearing them with the Cord of the Shintao? An inspection of the ring suggests there is more than meets the eye.”

The master frowned. “It’s not like you at all to seem power-seeking at all, Abbotess.”

His comment took me off-balance before I recalled, “The foes of Ebberon are not concerned with my lawful adherence to peace while they attempt to remove my head with a vorpal blade and turn the world into cinder,” I said in as neutral a tone as my frustration would muster.

“True, true,” the master nodded, stopping in a small room filled with scrolls. From a hidden alcove, he pulled out one scroll and unrolled it.

“I can recite the procedure for unleashing the Incredible to you, Syncletica, but I cannot give you this scroll.”

Many of the great monasteries in Ebberon were lost to the Quori wars, and scribes to make copies were harder to find. “I understand,” I said, taking a seat to prepare my mind, channeling my ki for eidetic memorization of the master’s words.

– – – – –

Two hours later, I was alone on the fields of battle in Shavarath. I declined a guide or a mercenary healer. If I were to fail, I did not want others to die with me over what might have been folly.

The crafting ingredients rested in my pack. All that was needed was to make my way to the altar.

As expected, the altar of subjugation was well guarded. As hoped, the small regiment of tieflings guarding it put up an insufficient fight.

I knew I was of little skill with crafting most things, and artificers would not be of use here. After a moment of recitation, I placed the ingredients on the altar, followed by the ring of Kyosho.

A flare of light erupted from the ring for a moment as the ingredients ignited and turned to ash. The ring looked unchanged.

I took it from the altar and put it on my right hand. The sensation of light weighed on every finger, as if I was holding a Holy Kama. The master’s instruction successfully added Holy Burst to my ring, stacking with my natural abilities as well as any other handwraps or weapon I could wield.

“This is among the most ancient of fighting knowledge, Syncletica. There is little left for you to learn in this life,” the master had told me.

I had never considered, until now, what the master meant, days after receiving the crafted ring. My charges in the dojo were maturing well, Lynncletica most of all. It would not be long before I would be able to grant her the status of Grandmaster.

But even as a Grandmaster myself, my resources still seemed inadequate against the forces of darkness. There had to be more than this. More than my training. More than this ring.

Before I left Stormreach, I read through another scroll in the library. Before she left this world, it was said that the great monk Kyosho had found the secret of reincarnation, enabling her to return stronger and larger, at the price of relearning her training. The scrolls say that this, combined with her ring, was what enabled her to defeat the evil pit fiend Arryitrekos in a pitched battle, ages ago. Her fight gave the world quite some time to catch its breath, for the pit fiend had taken many years to return from his imprisonment in the abyss.

I stood up to look at the nighttime sky. Soon, if I were to fulfill my destiny to save Ebberon, I must return to the beginning as well. But there was much to be done, particularly in keeping Lynncletica from killing herself before she masters her stances and becomes ready to teach others in my stead. Dead monks make poor abbots.