The Wisdom to Stop Time

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Lolth picked a fight with the wrong adventurers.

I’m sorry for being way-off my 2 per month post goals. Lots of real-life stuff, particularly losing my job. Hated the place anyway and had been on the market for several weeks prior. Prospects are good, however, so at present, when I’m not job searching each day, I’m getting a lot of play time.

Each of the three builds I’ve made turned out to have a certain “schtick”–a fortunate bonus to its design for which I didn’t originally plan.

For Pynthetica the Zen Archer, the high-DEX also makes her very difficult to kill, even against the party-wiping AoE from the end-boss of “Defiler of the Just” or the electro-bombs from the Stormreaver in “Fall of Truth.” She just upgraded her Thunder-Forged Longbow to tier 3 with Mortal Fear and life is very, very good. After she completes leveling Fury of the Wild, I plan to make her my first Epic TR character, going Primal for more Doubleshot through Epic Past Lives.

For Ryncletica the Poison-master, her Drow heritage not only adds to her poison skills but also made her just as deadly with shuriken, a type of “Shuricannon“-lite. She’s my “on-timer” character right now when the archers are on raid timers.

In the case of Paracleta the Zen Bowmaster, my desire for a build with a very high Doubleshot has found serendipity from her core abilities as an Arcane Archer.

Before the recent updates to the AA tree, Paralyzing Shot showed this pitiful quality to this and many of its special non-elemental arrow imbues:

oldAAparalysis

Those arrows were fine until you hit Epic levels, where a DC of 26 gained you slightly better than “Improved Paralyzing” weapon effects. In other words, you weren’t likely to freeze anything except on a low enemy save.

Now, AAs have WIS modifiers combined with any Enchantment focus DCs as your modifier.

newAAparalysis

The changes in the AP for the tree helped free up some points for defense from Ninja Spy, as well.

Now, the classes that tend to use WIS offensively are few. Clerics and Rangers and Paladins use it to get more spell points or qualify for certain spells. Favored Souls use WIS for their offensive DCs. Monks use WIS to influence their level of ki, calculate the DCs for Stunning Fist, and gain an AC bonus based on the modifier.

But they also use WIS as the to-hit modifier for bows when the Zen Archery feat is used.

For a Ranger AA to appreciate the AA DC change, they’d have to give up something important: STR (damage rolls) or DEX (to-hit) to raise WIS more than the usual 14 points that the class requires to use all of their small cache of spells.

Monkchers also will sacrifice decent DCs since they, too, will want to add more to STR. Their benefits from Zen Archery simply come from being centered with the bow. They can’t add more WIS if they want to follow their high-DPS damage track.

This is where Paracleta shines. She has only two central stats that form her offensive joy: WIS and DEX. Unlike Pyncletica, however, things are turned around in importance. WIS applies a higher AC bonus and ki management while also giving the to-hit. All I need to do is add a bit more DEX for the Elven DEX-to-damage. And as an AA, spell power really brings out extra damage that doesn’t require me to go nuts with DEX (although I’m still adding effects where I can). I can deal over 100 points of Fire damage to go with the 100 physical damage of one arrow.

So I’ve pumped WIS as high as I can go.

How high? You’re invited to view a spreadsheet with the estimates.

I filled in what I could expect in the best scenario in the row on level 30. Let me summarize.

By level 30, Par has a 58 minimum WIS, no matter the destiny, now that she’s read a +6 WIS tome. That’s only with the base, tomes, Ocean Stance, an Insightful WIS +6 item, a +15 WIS item, a +2 Festive WIS augment. With the +2 untyped bonuses of the Yugoloth and DDO elixirs, it’s 62 minimum.

Now add in up to +6 WIS from either the Primal Avatar or Divine Crusader destinies. If I go Primal Avatar, the Spirit Boon ability gives another +2 WIS for as long as I have Spirit to supply it. Better and more flexible: I can Twist the Fury of the Wild’s tier 2 ability Acute Instincts for a +2 WIS with just a Rage potion.

House Deneith potions can give up to +3 Alchemical bonus to WIS for about 1 minute or two.

The last item I needed to find that stacks is the Legendary Earthen Mantle, the only game item with Quality WIS, +4 in this case. That’s in “Search and Rescue,” with a long fight through the Underdark optional. Thanks to some great guildmates, I have that item, and helped them score some sought-after gear of their own afterward.

As a bonus for spell power, in “Memoirs of an Illusory Larcener” is an incredible spell power-boosting tiara, the Legendary Pansophic Circlet, that will be good for special occasions.

I could also Twist at least +1 WIS from any other destiny, but at the compromise of ki (Enlightenment from GMoF) or extra fortification (Brace for Impact from Unyielding Sentinel).

Finally, in a party with a good Bard, Inspire Excellence gives a +2 Competence to WIS. The Fatesinger destiny could add a +2 additional WIS and a boost to already-hasted attack speed but gives no other WIS bonus.

That’s at least a possible, but brief, 76-80 WIS, or a 53 minimum Will DC to stop many things cold. WIS 72 is sustainable for 1 to 15 minutes. Add in a +5 Enchantment item and that’s a 61 DC, with Insightful and Enhancement bonuses added for a few more DC points, including this lovely gem that dropped for me for use very recently. Other Enchantment DC boosts are Equipment or untyped bonuses, so yay for me.

Topaz of Gr Enchantment

 

I might have mentioned this before. So why am I excited?

To start, several weeks ago, I completed a level 32 Epic Elite “Grim and Barrett” and paralyzed hordes of CR 50ish Abishi very reliably at only 53 WIS, or a 41 DC. I’ve also kept great control of trash in a “Caught in the Web” EH run a couple of weekends back.

Later, the team entered a Legendary Tempest’s Spine on Elite. It was grueling, but we made it. I made a video of it, which you can find here. Sadly, a glitch in my sound settings left the video silent with no audio at all.

Just for giggles as a comparison to Szyncletica’s effort, I decided to run a solo Heroic Shroud with Paracleta on Normal. I was proud of Szyn’s effort but she was nowhere close to what an AA can do. In Shiradi mode, Par’s DPS blew away the portals and I got a good set of lieutenants to mow down in part 2. I did part 3 deliberately slow to avoid colliding into the prismatic wall with 7 rooms left to fill with water, bypassing the puzzle solving. I took down Harry in one round in part 4 and bested him again in part 5 to conclude the raid in about 45 minutes.

But the real adventure, a very, very grueling one, was with the cool kids in our meta-guild with Legendary Shroud on Hard. With fatal one-shot sneak-attacks from Troglodyte Assassins on part 1 and deadly ghost kittehs in part 2, it was challenging from the beginning. The great news was that Paracleta was able to stop just about everything to slow down the attacks on the party. But there were more trials, especially in part 4 where we had to work out a plan when we couldn’t kill Harry in one go. The team devised one idea to help against the hyper-healing gnolls, and that involved Paracleta’s bow.

The video is captioned and there is lots of sound except from my own mic. (Lousy voice, anyway). It took us 2 hours and we were slightly short-manned to boot, but it was a success. The video is not edited so here are the timestamps for each part:

  • Part 1: Start
  • Part 2: 27 min 56 sec
  • Part 3: 1 hour 10 min 31 sec
  • Part 4: 1 hour 21 min
  • Part 5: 1 hour 47 min 55 sec

Paracleta seems to find that 70 WIS is the magic number for reliability in raids where paralysis can work. The most practical configuration will be any destiny with +6 WIS and the Legendary Earthen Mantle with all stacking items, or 72-74 WIS. There are no other items with stacking WIS that I can find except perhaps some Exceptional WIS +1 item, but this matters little if the ability score is even to make the modifier. There’s a remote chance of finding a WIS 16 item.

Paracleta can still be a tad squishy, though far less than a Ranger that aggros as much as she does.Thankfully, with enough WIS to stop things cold, they have to reach me first. The downside, for now, in paralysis mode, is that I’m dependent on killing damage from the bow alone. Even with spell power boosts and the Thunder-Forged bow, the time it takes to remove a hardy CR 53 enemy can take too long alone. It’ll take the tier 3 upgrade with Mortal Fear to help more here–though not on Legendary raids, where Mortal Fear is deliberately nerfed, although its extra Force damage will work nicely with the Legendary Earthen Mantle’s Impulse spell power boost.

So, we’ll see, sometime, if Legendary Elite (is that “Reaper?”) enemies can be stopped by Paracleta’s paralysis.

Now with an Epic Dynamistic Quiver and Shadow Arrows kicked on, Paracleta has a standing 78% Doubleshot. Whatever attacks isn’t going to do it for long, especially when I switch to Divine Crusader and kick on Zeal of the Righteous for that 50 Doubleshot buff and Ranged Power boost, combined with either of the many-shot feats: 220 to 240%.

The Sound of Four Arrows Flying

For the Zen Archer, contemplation and mastery of Wisdom is paramount...to a point.

For the Zen Archer, contemplation and mastery of Wisdom is paramount…to a point.

A recent post chided those who forgot that the quests in the Devil Battlefield are still worth running.

But Teacher Mernom’s comment in that post on the availability of potions (available through collectibles) that briefly raise ability scores for an Alchemical bonus, made me return to a study I’ve conducted out of curiosity until rather recently.

How high can I lift a character’s Wisdom score?

Kiricletica’s Case: Powerful Finishers

A Monk’s powers are often determined by their WIS, specifically, their WIS modifier score.

After the discovery that Kiricletica’s dark finishing moves could be very effective even in Epic Elite with a very high WIS, I sent her through the Devil Battlefield flagging quests, all on Elite difficulty except for “A New Invasion” to gain sufficient Yugoloth favor for their special stacking potions that raised an ability score by +2, with a side effect.

At level 26 and geared up, Kiricletica’s WIS sits around 48, unbuffed. With a +2 guild ship buff (Artifact bonus), a Yugo potion and a DDO Store elixir, I could get Kiri to 54. Mernom’s discovery noted that I can up that score to as high as +3 with trading for House Deneith’s alchemical potions, which last for a minute to 1 minute 30 seconds.

Kiri’s need to ensure that her paralyzing and muting finishers would land, based on the common finisher DC (10 + Monk level + WIS modifier).  Thus, Kiri’s Freezing the Lifeblood finisher requires a 10+26+22 = 58 to escape. While Kiri’s attempts on an Epic Elite solo run have not yet been successful (sticking to her solo rules for her first life), This isn’t a bad DC to have, although 62+ would be better.

Forum Research

In helping Kiri’s WIS score, a DDO forums often brought me to this older but useful thread on every possible permutation you could find in-game to generate the absolute maximum ability score.

Teacher AidanRyuko’s post first defined a “base package” of possible points that all classes could attain. Some, like a +2 bonus as a Completionist character, I’d never likely see, while others, such as getting a +5 ability tome, weren’t out of possibility even if I chose to “pay to win.”

Aidan’s sheet is a little dated as it doesn’t take into account the existence of gear with +10 to enhancement bonus ability scores with the new level caps of 28 and now 30.

My return to this research is to help Pynthetica, my Zen Archer, currently at L17 in this second life.

Pynthetica’s Case: Ex decem milibus, sapientia

Like Kiri, Pynthetica needs WIS but not specifically for finishing moves.

Pyn’s archery prowess for burst damage comes from Ten Thousand Stars (TTS) for now. If she has an extra feat slot in Epic training to add Manyshot, I won’t object to it. But a Zen Archer is feat-starved, trying to ensure there are other critical ranged feats in its arsenal.

So why only TTS?

Based on much cooperative crowdsourced player observations and calculations in a thread, the formula for generating extra arrows per attack in TTS came down to this:

  • 1st extra projectile: (3*WIS modifier+30) percent chance
  • 2nd extra projectile: (3*WIS modifier-20) percent chance [minimum 24 Wisdom]
  • 3rd extra projectile: (WIS modifier-15) percent chance [minimum 42 Wisdom]

Each projectile is rolled one after the next; ie you must successfully roll the first extra projectile for a chance at a second, and successfully roll the second for a chance at a third.

TTS doesn’t give the guarantee of 4 arrows as Manyshot ultimately behaves.

However, TTS can be used twice as often: once per minute (30 seconds active, 30 seconds to cooldown, versus 20 seconds with a 2 minute cooldown for Manyshot).

TTS also requires ki, which means you need a strong passive ki regeneration (or switch to melee fighting for a bit) as well as WIS to define a higher pool. But when you start tinkering with 40 WIS or more and sitting about in Greater Ocean Stance with other ki regeneration abilities, odds are that you’re going to have ample ki for any fight where duration is required.

Getting that fourth arrow is not easy. To have a mere 5% chance at that arrow requires a WIS of 50. The highest practical 4th arrow chance for Pyn is is probably 10%, or a heartbreakingly high WIS of 60. One could look at this philosophically as there are similar nice weapon effects that may not proc often, such as being Frozen.

So it’s an advantage with diminishing returns for Pyn’s TTS after getting no less than a 5% chance, or WIS 50. As with Kiricletica, I may be able to attain that in Epic levels with a +7 item and epic destiny training alone, with nary a single potion to be had.

But when it’s crunch time and I need to squeeze every chance of an arrow out of her zen training, at least I know my options. At WIS 50, Pyn would shoot two arrows 90% of the time, three arrows about 40% of the time, and 4 arrows only 5% of the time.

I might be able to live with that. But now I also know I shouldn’t try to go all out to make Pyn’s WIS higher than 50 unless I want to have superior emergency stun and finisher options. As a dark Monk, Pyn’s Freezing the Lifeblood finisher could make heavy damage of one isolated enemy.

At least I know now that a few extra points for Szyncletica would not hurt, either. Since DEX defines damage and with Shuriken Expertise and Ninja Training already producing extra stars, her lesser WIS is not as critical with her TTS.

Zen Mastery: Approaching Level 20

Without the Bow Strength feat but with a lesser version that comes from the Half-Elf: Ranger dilettante, I should retire from Wisdom studies and research what I can do to increase my base damage on the bows to offset the lower STR bonus I gain in weapon damage as a pure Monk with a bow. I prioritized training the last racial abilities to add the last dilettante ability that added 8 to my bow damage modifier as Pyn approached level 16.

Sitting in Pyn’s personal bank, purchased during a recent DDO Store sale, is a +5 WIS tome for level 19.

The Devil Battlefield is penned into her schedule for getting the Yugo potions. My recently lax collectible gathering will now go back into overdrive as I hunt down any I can use to purchase a chance at the House Deneith alchemical potions to use when I need the absolute maximum performance.

A Frozen Tunic is also in the plan.

Banishing and Paralysis looked more attractive when I realized the latter had three tiers where the Will save is superior to Improved Paralyzing as found on Szyncletica’s spelltouched shuriken. It’s not cheap, however; as you have to train Terror Arrows rank to increase Paralyzing Arrow ranks. Such training will just make any Vale of Twilight or outsider battles on Eberron soil that much easier.

Once she returns to Epic levels, training two tier 1 abilities in Grandmaster of Flowers (Enlightenment for more Concentration, total ki and passive ki regeneration, as well as Dance with Flowers for up to 1.5 to base weapon damage) are a great idea. I can Twist these two abilities while active in Shiradi Champion’s immediate ranged attack effects that Pyn trained in part in her first life as a Ranger.

Breaking Siegebreaker

Pyn has been my first character to take advantage of Kiricletica’s discovery of how to easily beat the “Siegebreaker” final boss and her puzzles. (I added this solution to the DDO Wiki article once I learned it.)

In summary, you need invisibility and good Hide/Move Silently numbers, with perhaps Evasion at the least.

As most of you know, if you simply run around a circle that has all pads fully lit, it auto-solves the puzzle. The challenge is that enemies teleport into the small pit, attacking you and disturbing the puzzle. Worse, the enemies keep coming until you solve the puzzle. Did I mention the pads are also traps?

As she learned from Kiri, Pyn immediately hid and went invisible after the Hag went intangible. Pyn remained in the puzzle’s center. The enemies that spawned stood unaware and did not approach. Pyn circled the puzzle, evading the traps on each, solving the puzzle as well as closing the enemy portal. The Hag stays intangible until those few enemies are slain but they now cannot harm the puzzle as I kited them to death.

After giving the Hag a few licks, she went intangible again and Pyn repeated the same steps. By the last fight with the rust monster cavalry, completing the puzzle completes the quest. You will still have to slay those things to leave without dying and having your gear chewed on by the rusties, but you can loot your end-chest first while in stealth. Kiri just deployed a Diversion dummy for the enemies to chew on as she finished out.