Monday, December 31, 2012

Curiosity killed me thrice

"Ghost of a Chance" was my only unfinished level 5 quest on Three Barrel Cove. I've been unsatisfied with the lack of challenge that Elite quests present to my thrice TRed Dwarf (Ranger / Paladin / Paladin / Paladin). To to ramp it up a bit and celebrate my hardcoreness, I've running with a new self imposed challenge: lazy style.

What is lazy style? It's just like Gungnam style but without dancing or singing or any unessisary effort. Wheras somone doing DDO Gungnam style might ride an imaginary horse in a snowstorm on the steps of the house K to frighten the vendors? DDO Lazy style is going directly to Three Barrel Cove.

No one can tell you what Lazy Style is because defining-terms style is antithetical to lazy style. But here's some examples of how lazy style has influenced my playstyle.

My main is not wearing a belt -- Lazy Style!
No gloves either -- Lazy Style!
I use lockpicks I loot -- Lazy Style!
I only shipbuff when it's faster than walking, and I never go downstairs cuz that's too many loading screens for Lazy Style!
I only buy stuff if I walk past the vendor while traversing the shortest path between quests because that's Lazy Style!

So anyway I happened to be running through marketplace I stopped and bought a few hirelings. To my surprise, one of the level 7 drow wizards had firewall. Hired him (her?), a few healers, and ran to my last level 5 3BC quest: Ghost of a Chance. Mwah ha ha! Firewall is so cool.

But as soon as I entered Ghost of a Chance me and the hireling were in over our heads -- literaly! Swimming in water 30 feet deep with a half dozen pirate archers peppering us with arrows. I swim over to them, hop up on their dock and start blowing them down (that's pirate talk for "trip") but the whole time I'm thinking to myself "UNLEASH THE FIREWALL!"

(There's a display at our local hippy supermarket of Egg Nog and "Unleash the Kraken" rum. The display went up in October, which is 90 days too soon for buying Egg Nog or even whining about buying Egg Nog. So, to distract my early readers from reading the 'Nog cartons, I made a big deal about the octopus "Kraken" eating a pirate ship. Like everything that kids do, they overdid the Unleash the Kracken thing and that's why I was reflexively thinking "Unleash the Firewall!" There's also a song that Elmo sings in my head whenever I see a triangle.)

But no, it turns out that the hireling never unleashes the firewall unless you select a foe and click the firewall button -- too much effort for lazy style. So instead, I just set him (her?) to agressive and let him do his thing. A strategy I immediately named "Unleash the Drow!"

The Drow did a fine job with fireball, and she (he?) seemed to be self-healing somehow. I did not know non-warforged wizard hirelings could self-heal. I also had a mystery, my twinked out Spot gear was detecting two secret doors that I couldn't find with Search. The only other clue was the GM was going crazy talking about how everything smells like oil. I figure we could light this place up if only I had some fire. Unleash the firewall? No, doesn't work unless you select someone. What I really need is a torch or a flaming brand or something. Don't have one though. Beyond not having a torch, I abandoned the search for two reasons, the pirates kept respawning and I wanted to finish the quest before my wife got back.

The last fight was a pirate captain, a few dogs, and a bunch of warforged archers. So I was like "Unleash the Drow! Unleash my Pirate's Cove air elemental!" And then, since all the warforged archers were lined up in a row with me I thought about breaking the lazy style vow and unleashing the firewall.

In a way, using firewall to torch six warforged with a single cast is sorta the lazy way. I mean it takes more work to DPS them, especialy since their arrows never trigger my offensive guards. So I started setting up the firewall. First I ran around to position the hireling so he'd be perpendicular to the targets (See? "Perpendicular" is a word that is antithical to lazy style). And then I started tabbing through the targets since click-selecting them is too hard to do with a friendly air elemental getting up in my face. But, I figured that it was still worthy of the lazy way to unleash a firewall on a bunch of non-casters.

But amazingly, at that exact moment the AI decided at that to cast firewall. It was not paralell to the line of warforged, but it caught two of the six. And then another firewall appeared, and then a third. I was astounded. What could have possibly caused my idiot hireling to unleash a triangle of firewalls?

Suddenly my lazy apathy for him (her?) vanished. I wanted that triangle of firewalls to burn all the warforged! By then she (he?) had wandered onto the wrong end of the pirate captain's sword and died a hero's death. (Heroine's death?)


The firewalls were still burning though so it wasn't a total loss. Usualy they go away when the caster dies, but she (he?) must have died in a swarm of awesome by learning to cast and then forgetting to cancel on death. ...and then the pirate captain cast a firewall on me and it all made sense.

Those firewalls I was celebrating were actualy the captain's firewalls. So then I had a huge battle, the kind where I rely on my Mabar Cloak of Night cloak to turn me invisible long enough to drink pots to be in fighting condition. I ran out of pots but I won anyway. Slew the captain and his robo-army. Looted his treasure and then my wife arrived.

I went afk and gave her a foot rub till she passed out. Then I returned to DDO. Luckily, the respawning pirates did not respawn in this room so I was safe for now. But the halls were full of them.

The map said there was a shrine back the way I came, and I didn't know how much longer this quest would be. The quest log said something about freeing a prisoner and you know how difficult that can be in a game caled DUNGEONS and dragons.

So I went back, heard about the blatantly obvious oil clues, found a lever to open the secret door to the secret passage and got my hireling back. He (she?) fought a bunch of spiders with me and then we unlocked the second inaccessable secret area. I took a long secret swim, and emerged in a hidden troll lair, no, even better! A Skrag! It's like a troll, but BLUE!

I unleashed the air elemental but the hireling was stuck in the water. Or something. I selected the Skrag and unleashed the firewall, but no dice. I fell to the ground incapacitated and then the Hireling showed up. She (he?) killed the skrag with a fireball and then, due to AI problems, could not drag my stone to the shrine. I released, but not before I looked around the lair. A collectable. A trunk. And, what's this?! A flaming brand? My mind raced. What could I do with a flaming brand?

Ignite whatever was making the oily smell!

So I ran as fast as I could back to the quest but I was too slow. I redid the quest and with the help of my new Dwarf-lady cleric hireling, I slew the Skrag, took his collectable and most of all, the coveted flaming brand. Worst weapon ever. It only does one point of fire damage, and the combination of fire and smoke makes it more difficult to see anything: -5 Spot. But who cares? It's gonna ignite whatever the DM was hinting at.

I waved the flaming brand around the whole dungeon but to no avail.

So I fought my way back through the respawning pirates and ended up at the prisoner that needed rescuing. He's locked into the DDO version of SAW. "Don't do anything or I'll die!" he says. "Don't do nothing or I'll be trapped like this for ever!" he says. "Or, kill the pirate captain in the next room and take his key." he says, forgetting to mention the captain is a wizard that likes to unleash the firewall.

Well I beat him once, so I can beat him again right? Wrong. Lazy style means never having to run to house K to buy healing potions. And without enough self-heals, my go invisible plan is dead in the water. Just like me, except in a firewall under a pile of Warforged.

I was just about to quit and lose all my progress again, but lucky for me, an underleveled person joined the group and entered the dungeon. I can't find anything out about him because he doesn't show up in /who and he's listed as anonymous. He enters the dungeon, dies and drops group without a word. But by then I'm back in, lazy style. I still don't have any pots, but at least I don't have to redo the quest.

The final fight is reset. The captain is waiting by his treasure chest, the warforged archers are in their places, and the dogs are alive and waiting for me. This time, I know that I'm out of healing pots, so I plan accordingly. I leap up to the archers and fight them while the air elemental goes crazy on the melee and the captain. The Dwarf-lady cleric is staying out of trouble, and occasionaly casting a searing light spell. The spider she summoned? I dont' know, dying in a fire most likely.

Without the archers, the cleric has a chance to heal me. With heals, I have a chance to survive the firewalls. I rush the captain and lay into him, soon he's dead and the rest of his robot army too. For the second time that night I looted his chest and took his key. Then, my hireling and I walked unopposed to the prisoner's cell. Freed him, and won.

I left the dungon. The flaming brand dropped from my inventory and remained.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Depths of Discord: Hilarity ensues

A while back I was finishing up all the level 4 quests for bravery bonus and favor farming. I ran the first two depths quests but not the last two because they're level 5.

Well today I was finishing up the depths quests and I could not find the entrance to Depths of Discord. I found entrances to the other three. The Depths of Despair, Darkness, Doom, but I could only guess that they took out the entrance to Depths of Discord out when they cleaned up house D?

As fate would have it, there was an LFM for the Depths quests. So I joined, thinking that it would save me some time.


It was the craziest PUG ever! People running everywhere, going in circles, soloing the Troglodite boss and dying. And the pure rogue needed someone to open a locked door. So I opened doors, healed the incapacitated, and grabbed soulstones. (One soulstone was pretty cool, I dropped it by the altar, it turned into a dwarf that slew the boss, looted the chest and opened the next quest on elite. )

Then I had to go afk for real life stuff. It was the craziest family ever! Toddlers running everywhere, going in circles, Pre-schoolers comforting the baby and crying. And my wife needed me to open a locked picklejar. So I opened jars, changed the stinky, and fed baby girls. (One baby girl was pretty cool, I dropped her by the baby toys, she crawled to a castle her big sister made out of a cardboard box, flattened a wall, grabbed the tea set and opened it up to get at the Holiday themed Oreo cookies hidden within.)

After all that, I returned to DDO and was promptly slain by a bunch of trolls and wolves. Which was a total shock. I haven't had any trouble with the fighting so far. I've been killed by traps and failed to protect fragile NPCs. Casters have been troublesome too, but melee? Really?

So I exited out and found, to my surprise that there IS an entrance to the Depths of Discord -- it's located to the left of the gate as you're heading to the Marketplace. Well, I figured it must have been because of the Dungeon scaling or dungeon alert or something. So I hopped back in without a hireling (to avoid dungeon scaling) and again, I had a savage fight for my life.

Nearly died several times hacking my way through a pack of wolves and minotaurs. Then it was two trolls, I killed one, and almost the second one. But I had to run and heal, slowly with wands and pots.

Running was easy thanks to my Mabar: Cloak of Night. It occasionaly procs improved invisibility which makes sighted enemies wander aimlessly and attack the empty air.

So I healed up while the troll looked for me. By the time he found my hiding spot, I was at full health. But so was he! (trolls regenerate duh!) and so we had to epic battle from scratch. I won, but then I was at the part of the quest I was most aprehensive about: The hallway of earth elementals.

I remember so many deaths in that stupid hall. My characters have almost all been Dwarves, and have benefitted from maxed out Dwarven Spell resistance. But it never seems to work against Earthgrab. Earthgrab isn't as deadly now as back when helpless meant auto-hit and auto-crit, but it's still risky.

Cautiously, I crept down the hallway and fought the first elemental without alarming the rest. I won, barely. There's was no way to fight them simultaniously and survive.

I crept forward again. Suddenly two Elementals arose from the ground, and two more trundled towards me from around the corner. I played at seperating them but to no avail.

Instead, I made a mad dash to the shrine door and turned the valve. As the action was completing the elementals attacked. I avoided damage long enough to open the door and ran inside hoping for the door to close so I could fight the few elementals that followed me inside. The door stayed open. I fought until I was incapped. Then some of them strode out the door while a big one stood guard as my lifeforce ran out.

Died, rezed behind the shrine and had a few moments to heal before that hunk of rock spotted me. After another near-death battle I was victorious and looking at a room of, again, four elementals. Plus a rednamed elemental named "Landslide." Supposedly, the inhabitants of this portion of the depths worship Landslide as a god.

I couldn't make a dent in them, and I couldn't pull them apart, and what little progress I made was undone when they hit the ends of their leashes and honeycomb ported back to the throneroom with full health.

This would have been solo-fail but I had a little something from Pirates Cove -- an elemental gem! I summoned the air elemental and followed it into Landslide's throneroom. Soon everything was dead except for me and 20% of Landslide. I had no air elemental, he had no friends. It was just the two of us.

That was a crazy fight, but I survived and achieved yet another point on my elite Bravery Bonus streak. But honestly I have no idea why this one quest seemed so much more difficult than everything else so far. I wish Elite was always this much of a struggle! :)

Friday, December 28, 2012

True Reincarnation IV: Three Barrel Cove Bravery Bonus for a Favored Soul Unlock

Further exploits of a Ranger / Paladin / Paladin / Paladin Dwarf.

I'm methodicaly running everything once on Elite. I want to unlock favored soul and experience everything I bought bundled in with MotU.

Currently I'm level 7 (Rogue 2 / Paladin 5) with enough XP to level up. But I'm banking that XP for the sake of sweeping up every last bravery bonus.

I swept through Tangleroot's level 5 quests and moved on to Three Barrel Cove. My Rogue Paladin is sufficient at traps, locks, self-heals and tanking -- ideal for a soloist build.

One 3BC quest gave me some difficulty though. The fail condition was no more than five crewmembers slain, but the pirate hobgoblins were slaying them faster than me and my hireling could heal them. On a whim I decided to try it without the hireling and suddenly everything was easy. I guess dungeon scaling is real?

There's not much loot on 3BC that can compete with my TR twink and cannith crafted stuff, but I got a random pull that looks interesting -- an Air Guard full plate! I won't use full plate this life (because I prefer Evasion, thank you very much!) but I'm going to hang onto this ML8 Air Guard for posterity.

Oh, and one other interesting tidbit. I got an "Elemental Gem." Reading the description, I'd guess it summons an earth elemental. Never seen one of those before! Closest is probably the Gems you can buy with planar shards from the sub.

Note to self: I still need a dedicated returning thrower until I get my Dwarven Thrower. I keep reaching for a ranged weapon, only to find out that I've vendered them all.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Happy birthday to me!

My birthday was so fun I forgot to blog about it. But had a nice party and I got a gift that is relevant to our shared interests. I got a ddo peripheral!

A razer nostrimo controller. It does a million things but I'm still learning how to use the thing.

Currently it's just a super comfortable keyboard replacement. I tried to use it as a keyboard and mouse replacement but the thumb stick is no replacement for a real mouse.

Other birthday news. This is my worst year ever thanks to several jerks. But looking forward, this next year looks to be a fantastic year for me.

DDO is going swimmingly. My main is an unstoppable trap monkey, master crafted cannith gear and unsuppressed ioun stones are unbeatable, and in a few levels I can equip ventilated bracers AND upgrade them too! (So glad I didn't use the sigil on the Maidstone shield. (Maidstone? Seriously apple, you gotta fix autocorrect!)

Last quest I ran was with a pure rogue in forgotten caverns. He couldn't search, but was good at dd after I did. Later he complained about how tough it is to get a +7 spot. So after quest I mailed him an unbound shard -- turns out that's the best I can do with my current crafting skills.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Top Ten Snappy comebacks to dying in my trap.

Players who fly through traps are cool but they're not the subject at hand. I'm talking about the little cluster of soulstones that piles up durring the three second disable device animation.

10. See how mother nature culls the weak and the stupid from the herd.

9. Don't touch the soulstones. They're zerging my trap to save time and maximize xp.

8. Everyone else survived. You must have lag.

7. One does not simply walk into mor-traps.

6. r = autorun

5. Survival of the fittest.

4. Darwin awards you a backpack ride.

3. Timing is everyting.

2. Step forward and die. GOTCHA SON! I didn't say "Simon says."

1. There's a trap hiding under those soulstones!

(Got more? Post 'em! :))

Monday, December 10, 2012

TR3 Level 6: Bravery Bonus Trapfinder Paladin

The further exploits of a thrice True Reincarnated Ranger Paladin Paladin Paladin.

Pesky traps have forced me to take my second rogue level earlier than I anticipated. But on the upside I'm having alot of fun with this character. I took rogue early because I wanted evasion.
Disarming traps is satisfying. I've never done it before so the locations of the trapboxes are not somthing I've got memorized. But I do have a pretty good memory for places I've died horribly, and that includes many traps.

I'm also picking locks for the first time -- although it seems that most of the doors are locked for my own good. (Locked doors are there to protect adventurers from trapped chests!)

And, some of the traps I've blundered into are new to me. I bought every adventure with the bonus points from Menace of the Underdark. That was only this summer, and didn't play them all yet.

First trap behind a locked door I found was in the Catacombs. I shoulda known better (spoiler: because chests are often trapped. Duh.) but instead got a face full of spikes. I was incapped but my hireling wouldn't heal me -- he was AFK.

After that I was cautious, but I still got fooled by an untrapped chest in a trapped halway behind a locked door. I ran right into that one.

But I'm getting the hang of this, and with my Ioun Stones (+6 Int +1 exceptional), and my master crafted cannith hats (+10 spot and +10 Disable ML5) and a bank of +5 picks I'm able to trap level 4 elite content with my level 6 character.

Looking forward, I'm thinking of doing more multiclassing. I like Paladin 15 (two level 4 spell slots). If I take Pal15/Rogue2 that leaves me with three spare levels to mess around with. Barbarian could be fun for the +10% run speed. Fighter 2 would be nice for the bonus feats. I guess I could take some rogue too for some good clickies... but I don't like clickies all that much.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Salesmanship: flooz and Black Friday

flooz Just what you wished for

I've been worried about DDO for a while. Not for all the reasons listed in Dooom threads (lag monster, too easy, too hard, not revolving around me). I worry about DDO because the promotions are too good.

You see, back before the internet accepted credit cards, there was a company called "flooz." Dumb name but catchy. And it had Whoopie Goldberg as a spokeswoman. flooz was always spelled in lowercase though it was a proper noun and even when it started a sentences like the one you are reading right now. But most importantly, flooz had a uniquely futuristic vision:

"Wouldn't it be great if you could buy things on the internet? Now you can, with flooz!"

They didn't claim to reach perfection. But they did have a system -- and it worked! You could buy flooz over the telephone (using your credit card) and then you could buy things DIRECTLY from the internet, or using e-mail. Very cool.

I was acutely aware of flooz because at the turn of the millenium I had a desk job at Starbucks Coffee Company. I occasionaly did business in flooz but the people in the cubicles on the other side of the isle did flooz orders all day long.

Then one weekend three things happened pretty much simultaniously.
1. New customers started contacting me out of nowhere. Their first questions were always "Do you take flooz?" and "What Starbucks Gift baskets can I get for exactly $X.XX?"
2. I used a pencil, paper and linear algebra to streamline the process of getting an order to cost exactly $X.XX.
3. The guy on the other side of the row bought an $800 Palm pilot for less than $200 so he could read e-books and e-newspapers.

I wanted to get in on that deal. So I asked where did you get 80% off on a state of the art Palm pilot with 16 color backlit monochrome display? He told me an interesting story: flooz was selling several dollars worth of flooz for one dollar.

flooz was offering a discount on money.

And that's how he got the discount. He bought a bunch of discounted flooz and IMMEDIATELY spent the flooz on goods. He bought the Palm pilot, his friend bought a computer and a friend of a friend bought a motorcycle.

But he warned me not to buy flooz. He said "I don't care who you are, NO ONE can stay in business giving a discount on money." And he was right, soon flooz stopped paying money, then it stopped taking money. It's website used to be a catalogue of all the places that accepted flooz but it became a single page that said "Closed" and then the logo.

I went around the entire floor of Starbucks HQ and told them the same joke about how on the website it says "flooz is closed, just what you wished for" because honestly I didn't like the hastle of dealing with flooz. A few days later they took of the tagline, ruining the joke. I guess my joke was original, but not unique.

Anyway, because of that I always have a twinge of fear whenever Turbine offers a sale and also a sale on their money. Turbine is on safer ground because you can't spend TP outside of Turbine, you can't buy a motorcycle with TP for example. But even so, whenever I saw Turbine's crazy black friday sales, I was always felt sorry for them. It's kinda pathetic to offer such a steep discount on money.

But this year, Turbine's sales have struck me as sane and responsible.

Take Menace of the Underdark for example. The only way to buy MotU is with money. Granted, there is a third option to pay with turbine points, but the great options, to buy it ASAP, or to buy it this weekend with a 75% discount are only available for real money. That fills me with confidence because honestly, selling cool things for TP sold at rock bottom prices reminds me too much of flooz.

I think that the era of shamefuly low prices on cool things is over too. Personaly I like that because I feel like I can wait for a sale and save 30%, or buy it now, but in no case do I have to feel like an idiot for paying full price instead of waiting for the 80% sale.

Over all, I feel very happy with Turbine's new non-pathetic pricing structure. I'm also impressed with the Free01 promo code -- it's a great way to introduce people to the DDO store. I bought some red sparkles for my gelatinous cube pet. And I keep telling everyone in game to use their Free01 discount code, just so they learn to shop there. Click the red button on the lower left and select store.

I also see the sense in picking MotU as the doorbuster. MotU is a great price, but it's also something you want at the END of a character's life, like when you hit level 20. Getting there without spending cash is possible (I know, cuz I did it) but once you buy into that end-goal of going to the Forgotten Realms you may as well spend some real money to get some TP so you can enjoy more of Ebberon's quests.

TLDR; I'm glad that Turbine's new promotion style seems sustainable. I enjoy shopping more now that there's a bit more price protection.

Edit: flooz not Flooz. Oh how that brings back the memories.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Tr4 Palidin rogue: The one man pug

I true reincarnated today.

Previous life was Daxe and shield. At the end I had reliable hate tanking and intimidate but the DPS was terrible! Damage mitigation was useless without evasion. So, partway through I picked up two rogue levels for evasion and Use magic device. That made for a very survivable yet harmless tank.

This time around I'm taking rogue for evasion and trap finding. It's not impossible for me because of all my +3 tomes.

So i kept the same name, race (Dwarf), face, alignment (lawfull good), and class (paladin). But I took rogue at level one for the bonus skill points. Korthos is much easier than I remember. I was able to elite solo it all. I compensated for the difficulty by imposing some rules for myself, no bank or buying. It took longer but I enjoyed the challenge. Loot is much better than I recollect.

Then at level 3 in the harbor I opened up the bank vault to see what I saved for myself. The only twink gear I had was a cannith crafted Daxe, mirror cloak and 70 invisibility pots. I've got more twink gear, but I like to swap at level 4, 8, 12, 16, 18, 20 to avoid too much clutter.

So far I've really enjoyed doing traps and locks. I don't have any specialty gear until I reach level 4, but so far I've had good luck. If this build doesn't work out I've got a complimentary reincarnation plus two hearts of wood. So I'm confident I can goof around and correct any mistakes as needed.

After I get some more play time I'll hit level 4 and pull out all my loot. That's gonna be great.

Monday, November 19, 2012

My First time: Twist of fate

Whee! I got a twist of fate point. I've been so busy getting my money's worth out of the Stone of XP I haven't had time to pay much attention to the Twist of fate. ...until now!

Currently my Paladin has a bunch of Unyielding Sentinal Epic destiny -- it's solid stuff. More AC, more PRR, more hitpoints and aggro. But, somehow it doesn't seem to live up to the "EPIC" promise, and especialy not compared to the outstanding DPS everyone else seems to be putting out with their more graphically in-yo-face destinies.

Well anyway I unlocked a twist of fate point so now I can twist a level power... as soon as I level up another Epic destiny a bit.

From where I'm at, the easiest path is to take Radient Servant. Theres lots of good stuff but the only thing I can twist easily is a boost to healing spellpower. I wouldn't mind even more powerful self heals, so that's good enough to justify the detour. There's a button a the top of the Radient servant button that appeared now that I can make it my active destiny. Fittingly it's called "activate destiny." Overall I think this is a good system, but it seems really simple compared to all the thought that goes into making a good character.

I think it would have been better to put this easy character planning stuff at the begining of DDO, and then put some byzentine monstrosity of char op at the end game. But then perhaps there's some reason why it's good to reward Epic players with simple and elegant design?

There's only one person who would be insane enough to inject transparency and playability into Dungeons and Dragons. It could only be my nemesis -- Dr. Moriarty! Oh wait no, lemme do that over again. It can only be My nemisi -- The guys who made D&D 4th edition and their intended hipster audience!

Don't mess with me bro! I've got a $0 in my pocket and I'm not afraid to use it! Remember how 4e failed? That's all because of my $0! Yeah, so don't mess with the opaque convoltion and complexity of DDO! 

And that goes for the Pit and the Coal chamber too! I like that they're hard! (exept the elevators in Coal, those are very nice.)

/Brandishes $0

Sunday, November 18, 2012

An auspicious harbringer

Thanks alot Turbine! My myDDO was all screwy (see two posts prior), but now it''s fixed. I totaly underestimated you guys. I did not expect so quick a turn around. Not only do I have complete myDDO functionality, you saved me the effort of submitting an official bug report. ('Cuz you fixed it before I bugged it.)

In other news I got some nice loot. From Tower of Despair shadow chest I pulled a +3 Wisdom tome, now I've got inherent +3 STR, DEX, CON, WIS, CHA and +2 INT.

Suulomades tanking went better this time. My first intimidate missed him so he went running after the casters. But I caught up to him and got his attention with "Intollerant blows" a Paladin Epic Destiny that gives +1000% hate for twelve seconds (and here's the cute part) with a twelve second cooldown! I put that on my main toolbar and it's really nice to have the remaining durration on the toolbar where I can see it (and not in the mess of icons squished into the upper margin). Of course, afterwards I realized that I forgot to switch into my Epic tanking stance (stand against the tide) so I guess it's good that I've got so much extra aggro.

And from VoN3 I got a half dozen Potions of Barkskin (+5) durration 12 miniutes ML 1. I was agog because for the longest time the entire reason people would invite my Ranger into groups was because my +5 barkskin spell was superior to quaffing a weaksauce +3 barkskin potion.

And lastly, the end is nigh! I cashed in my Epic! token shards. Now I can afford a TR. So what now? I want to do more endgame, I want to start my 3rd Paladin life, I want to unlock Favored Soul.... I don't see any clear stopping point, but there are so many goals in easy reach I think it will be a while before I return to Korthos.

Tennitively, I'm going to not TR until I can unlock all of my Epic Destiny (paladin).

How do you know when it's time to TR?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Admire my bag

The Auction House is trouble for me. I place a bid, I wait for a few hours and then at the last possible second some ninja ninjas my item! But last night the stars aligned and I had a nice shopping experience. I bid on an auction with 4 hours to go. And this morning when I logged in, I was elated to find my prize waiting for me at the mailbox.

(Yes, my fellow parents, the prime source of joy in this story is that I was sleeping for 4+ hours! :D )

I won a Large (red) Collectables Bag. I know, from reading the description that it holds 80 kinds of items in stacks of up to 1000, but I didn't know how much of an improvement that would be over the four sub-large collectables bags I have in my inventory up until now.

So, one by one I emptied out four of my little bags (a medium, a small and two tinys) and put the empty bags in my bank. Then I clicked the gather all button and to my delight, all of those collectables fit. It was only half full.

But wait, there's more!

DDO is currently holding a sale on the extra character bank slots (that's the best kind of extra slots because it's cheaper than the account wide upgrade.) I bought that for less than 500 TP, and offloaded my extra treasures into the bank.

It's so nice to have the added bankspace, but there was a final surprise. Gianthold stuff (giant boots, elvish relics etc... now fit into the green ingredient bags instead of the red collectable bags. After I got that sorted I had 37 free inventory slots!

I don't know why I didn't upgrade sooner. (Oh right, I was waiting for a sale) Anyway, this inventory solution has really breathed new life into my character, I can't wait to fill up the space with useful tools, or perhaps just leave it open so I can "Loot All" more and run back to the vendors less.

The only downside in all this is an embarassment of riches. I've currently got 145 of 150 planar shards required for yet another large bag of my choice (Ingredient, Collectables or Gem) and honestly I don't think I need any at the moment! I planned to get two large (red) collectables bags but I was totaly surprised that one large bag is more than twice the equal of the other four bags. Still, too much storage is a nice problem to have in DDO. :D

Friday, November 16, 2012

Test: Hello world?

I can't see any of my previous posts. Hello?

Edit/Update: I can't see my posts or my Avatar when I'm logged in. I can see my posts and my Avatar when I'm logged out. This is true across several platform Win7 (IE, Chrome, Firefox) IOS6.1(Safari) and the DDO in-game browser (with the caviat that I don't know how to log out and see the in-game browser).

Oh, and thanks to you guys for responding. They showed up in my e-mail but I can't see them here on myDDO. @Bluesilence I've got 17 characters according to myDDO (although I think it is counting a bunch of long deleted Korthos favor farmers.) And anyway, I think the ten character minimum is the number of "alphanumeric characters" you have to have in a post, and not the number of "player characters."

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Endgame catalyst: Best class?

I forget the exact date, but around the time that guildships were invented I was invited into a cool guild on Orien and it changed my DDO experience forever.

Prior to that fateful day my playstyle was one character per server. It was a fun way to see the differences on the servers the crazy inflation on Thelanis, the robust Chinese speaking population on late-night Sarlona, and the optimistic undergeared and happy population of the brand new server Cannith. I liked Cannith best. I liked the frontier.

And when an even newer server-frontier opened I migrated again. So there I was, on Orien showing off my ability to multishot snipe beholders in the quest Invaders before they could get within eyebeam range. It's a neat trick but some of the people in the group were so impressed that they invited me to their guild.

The guild was so fun, I stopped spending time on the other servers and focused all my gametime into one character. I looked forward to great anticipation for TRing, not only because I'd get more ability points, but also because Past Life Ranger would give me a huge advantage -- +2 exceptional elemental resistance. Now of course that's not a big deal because ship buffs are so easy to come by, but back then it was a big deal.

Anyway, then I unlocked the Vale of Twilight (using free f2p Turbine Points) and the economy of Green Steel encouraged me to spend all my time on one character only. You can share most of the Green Steel ingredients between characters, but the items themselves are bound to character. I didn't see the point in grinding out hundreds of sets of identical GS. So instead, I've focused all of my DDO gametime into one character.

I like having only one character. It's fun because each TR feels like a story, starting in Korthos and ending in Shavarath. Along the way I anticipate the joy of leveling into range of quests I haven't played for a long time. For example, I was on Korthos when all the big changes to the Shroud blades happened. I couldn't get into Shroud for a long time, so I just imagined what the blades must be like. And you know all those people who complain whenever they get something cool on the wrong alt? That's not me. Never. All of my loot is for my main. And the grind seems very managable for me. When I was on one character per server I got kinda burnt out on doing the same quest several times on every server. The game play was fresh because my characters play so differently from one another, but I started memorizing the lines in a way that's not condusive to fun "Oh no! The Suhagan found me!"

But having only one character has downsides too. If I had many characters it would be easier to get gametime. And farming specific content would be easier too. Like right now I've got a Paladin Tank I'm really proud of (yes my loyal readers, upgrading my Dragon Touched armor has improved tanking that much). And when I TR my main, I lose all my accumulated Favor. A dedicated favor alt could stay at cap and easily hit the new favor maximum whenever I get new Adventure Packs.

So, having said that, what class is best catalyst for play? By that I mean, which class will allow me to most frequently say "No problem, I'll log into my other character and then we can stop waiting and start playing."

TANKS: Raid LFMs often stall looking for a good tank. This is a great choice but gearing a tank is a ton of work. If I was gonna go this way I'd just designate my current main as the favor farmer and roll up a new main. I might just do it...

HEALERS: Groups often beg and send tells for more "Hjeals plz" so they can start a quest or raid.

BARD: In any group it's always great to have exactly one bard. Some raid leaders won't start without one. Bards are super popular with the Vault of Night and I think that red dragonscale will continue to be something I wish I had more of for the forseeable future. An Epic Bard could also be a fine haggler for all the junk that won't fit into the hopper of the Canith Crafting deconstructor.

ARTIFICER: I know I always love having these guys along for durring the 2.3 seconds it takes them to enchant my weapons. But does any raid or group ever "need" an artificer before they start?

CASTERS: Sometimes parties won't start for lack of a caster, but there are so many casters I don't think I'd roll a caster to be the hero that saves a stalled out PUG.

ROGUE: Everyone needs rogues at low and mid level play. But I can't ever remember a high level group waiting on a rogue, or any trap monkey.

So, after writing all this out, I've discovered that Bard is the most appealing catalyst. Am I right? What class would you choose for an end-game catalyst?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Levik's: Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in!

A while back I finished Stealer of Souls (SoS) but since the quest took so long I logged out without claming my prizes. I meant to, I wanted to, but every time I logged in there was some really cool PUG that I wanted more. I did epics and raids and S/E/Rs and Mabar and before I knew it I forgot all about my unclaimed end reward. ...until last night.

I'm anticipating the return of Mabar by holding at level 20 so I can farm efficiently without spawning the giant skellies. I'm building up XP but at merely level 20, I'm definitely the runt in any Pick Up Group (PUG). Since I'm only level twenty, I advertise myself as the tank of last resort.

So anyway I joined a Tower of Despair PUG, and when a higher level tank joined I was demoted to Suulumades tank. I kept losing Suulumade's aggro between successful intimidates. The melee were fine. Between the epic destiny and the new hurt-free AC system, everyone is too tough to care about a bit of sloppy tanking. I wonder though if that means that people will eventually re-engineer characters to have less survivability?

In any case, everyone was cool except for a Paladin who "helped me tank" by standing next to me. Sadly his "helping" only happened when I used intimidate! ;)

But anyway it got me thinking about working more hate into my build, and that got me thinking about DT, and soon I was on my way to pick up my long-forgotten reward from Stealer of Souls!

My friends say I'm a daredevil but realy my bravery is in statistics. Whenever I'm brave it's because I've calculated that the odds are sufficiently stacked in my favor. When it comes down to the rune grinding lotto, I can't stand it. I get this sorta unpleasant sense of dread because, as far as I know, the only way to stack the odds in my favor is to have many many runes to risk.


Well so here's what I did. I closed my eyes, twisted away from the computer and peeked at the screen out of the corner of my eye. I grabbed the mouse with the tips of my fingers and ground up the eldrich runes quick quick quick. Then I did the same with tempest runes. Finaly I popped open my bag and looked at what I had obtained.

I wanted Soverign Rune of threat (20% hate) but instead I got... Soverign Rune of Levik's (20% hate with my current setup.) Not bad! I had given up on Levik's because of how much I dread the Rune lotto, but technicaly it's BETTER than the other rune with the caviat that I need to wear at least one other Levik's item.

Levik's bracers was my first ever DDO item that I wanted and got. I claimed it as my 20th reward and I've worn them ever since. The shield has eluded me, but the idea of finding it and having the complete Levik's set is thrilling. I'm not sure how much of an impact there will be in the differential between 20% and 50% increased hate. But shield wise I can't find a better option.

And so you see how it is. Just when I thought I was finaly out of grinding threat gear, Levik's pulled me back in!

If you need me, I'll be tanking Hound of Xoriat. ;)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

(Say) Toddler says: Summon the Spectral Dragon!

The kids are more exposed to my DDO habit lately because of Mabar. Usualy I try to turn DDO off before they wake up. Partly because I need the time to instil sentorial values in their malleable toddler minds, but also because I don't like telling my PUG buddies "BRT picking up rasins" "AFK they're not rasins."

So this morning while I was steaming a latte to awaken my wife from her beauty sleep, I was delighted to see my terrible-two year old daughter run to the computer and grab my MMO mouse. On our desk, the Logitech G600 sits exactly her eye height. It's black with twelve laser etched rainbow strobing LED thumb buttons. There's another eight glowing buttons that are too tall for her to see, even on tippy toe.

Lightning fast, she grabbed the mouse in her right hand and slid it back and forth as quickly as she could. She shouted "LOOK PAPA! I! HELP-HELP! ING! YOU!"

My Main, the Level 20 Dwarf Paladin into which I have poured all of my free time into for the last few years, spun wildly in place. I let my other kids play DDO unders strict supervision, usualy swimming a character of their own design with some twink underwater breathing gear, but this terrible-two year old ambush caught me by surprise. Would I be Mordenkainened?

For the last three years I've been scrupulous about locking and binding all my loot, so there's a pretty specific series of steps that it would take to delete my gear. I took a gamble and took the latte to the wife.

A few seconds later, I was back to supervise my "helper." She was content to spin in place so I listened to my 4yo boy explain his drawing of a hyenas ear canals while keeping one eye on her. She got bored and wandered off.

A few miniutes later the Spectral Chamber opened, I put on my headset and warned everyone I'd be deep in the game for a good ten miniutes. I find that it's better for all of us if I have a few miniutes alone to really immerse myself in game. And it's less frusterating for the kids too.

She wandered back and noticed the night gargoyles. "Look! Is scary monster with a dragon wing! On his back!" She's by far my most talkative kid at two, but I've never heard her talk about a dragon's physiology before. So I scooped her up into my lap, I pulled of the headphones cranked up the sound and let her experience DDO.

She loved it! I explained the monsters she saw were "Gargoyles" because they make a gargling sound. But she got them mixed up and made gobbling sounds instead. She does that alot, "apple cider" becomes "apple spider." And in the song the "itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout" she always sings the itchy itchy spider.

She liked the acid cloud (green cloud!) and the dog vanity pet ("I hear a dog say 'woof woof!' I see a dog -- he is hiding in a GREEN cloud! He is funny! Ha ha!) and the iron defender ("He another dog!")

It took her a while to recognise the Spectral Dragon as a dragon. We fought it from the side and it was hard to see it clearly. But then at the very last it teleported in and presented a perfect sillohette. She recognised it and cheered as we vanquished it (which is my mom-safe euphamism for "kill.")

I don't think she'll be like her older siblings who, were happy to sit on my lap and speculate about what the monsters liked to eat when they weren't feasting on adventurers. But I'm glad that I had the chance to play Mabar with her today. It was really fun to see all the connections she was making.

Edit: It was also fun to teach her to say "Summon the Spectral Dragon!" Although when I tried to teach her how to say "Happy Mabar" in a scary voice she just laughed. "Mabar is funny!"

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fun vs Bugs: The Mabar showdown recap

This week we witnessed an epic battle between two old foes striving to capture the most valued of all prizes -- the hearts and minds of BossOfEarth.

Longstanding champion, Fun, has enjoyed a nearly uninterupted ascendency ever since DDO went Free to Play back in September of '09. Fun cemented their regency with early victories such as the eradication of leveling tokens, the guest Narration by Gary Gygax, and the masterfull use of vertical dungeoncrafting as seen in Halls of Shan-to-Kor, the Pit, and the Colesence chamber. And who can forget the Fun victory of ye olde Epics, True Reincarnation, and seasonal events like the Crystal Cove?

The Underdog and challenger, Bugs, has proven to be a mighty foe, but one who until now, has had only a few solid victories: the failure of BossOfEarth's video card and the explosion of the telphone pole right outside his house when he was on the very cusp of looting a large devil scale. But both of those resounding victories were as short lived as the zappy electrical sounds they made. Currently, the video card has been replaced and the telephone pole has been re-wired with a pre-exploded transformer.

But this month saw an unexpected defeat of Fun as Bugs sallyed forth to strike a killing blow aimed at the very heart of Fun's high holy ground. Yes, unforseen circumstances canceled the Crystal Cove. The world was thrown into darkness and "Talk like a Pirate day" was replaced by "Emote like an Emo" day :(


Reeling from a that unmitigated defeat, Fun staggered headlong into yet another cunning Bug victory. Mabar was canceled almost as soon as it began. No one would have blamed Fun for giving up on Mabar. The voice of reason cried out "Stay down! Don't get up!" But since when has Fun been the obedient servant of reason?

Foolish and brave, Fun grabbed Mabar by the scruff of the neck and lifted both of them to their full stature, only to be struck with the full force of Hurricane Sandy, a weather pattern so buggy it wasn't even named after the right element.

Mabar was worse for the wear, bugs were spawning ground fireworks, charging double keys to enter the spectral summoning chamber, underspawning giant skellys and underdistributing loot. Entire instances were bugged and the spirits of Mabar twisted towards averice.

While the lazy staff of Turbine idled around waiting for their homes to stop being destroyed by Sandy, the brave players lept to the rescue. It is true that not all of the players were up to the challenge. Some abandoned Delera's to play Xbox, Candyland, or Everyone is the winner.

Those who remained learned to survive. Learned to click the change instance button. Learned how to defeat a spectral dragon that was far far below proper CR. And they paid the ultimate price: two keys per entrance to the summoning chamber.

And thus it came to pass that although bugs extracted a sea of tears they were not able to sail to victory.

TLDR; Mabar was more fun than it was buggy. Thank you Turbine. I look forward to more!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mabar Cloaks: Now witness the firepower of this armed and fully operational cloak rack!

I have all the Mabar: cloaks of Night I want. Here is my review of what I've got, what I don't and why.

Cloak of Night level 4:
This humble cloak is spectacular for self-healing melee. When hit you randomly turn invisible long enough to cast a few uninterrupted self-heals. Note that the cloak casts IMPROVED invisibility -- unlike regular invisibility, you can do anything without breaking it. You can fight, pull levers, open doors, cast spells, cast torches anything!

Additionaly, the invisibility looks cool -- dissapear in a swarm of bats. Perfect for showboating for the noobs in Waterworks.

Cloak of night LEVEL 8.
I choose not to own this cloak. Dusk is a nice upgrade but I zoom through this level range so quickly I didn't want to devote a precious inventory slot to this and the level 4 cloak. That said, it's also a sound choice to pick Dusk over showboating in Waterworks

Cloak of night 12:
Deathblock is the killer app on this cloak. There are other places to get deathblock but none is so convienient as this cloak. Deathward is generaly superior to death block, but deathblock is specifically Beholder-proof. Additionaly level 12 cloak is harmless so you can use it without worrying about accidentaly slaying something. 

If you only get one cloak of night, LEVEL 12 is the one to get.

Cloak of Night level 16: 

Two great upgrades: Ghostly and Nightmare guard. Ghostly thwarts the incorporeal miss chance that certain monsters have. Nightmare guard procs two attacks force and phantasmal killer. Phantasmal killer is great because it's instadeath. Force is great because it's seldom resisted. Finaly, this cloak gets a 1% dodge.

Ghostly is a huge upgrade for some types of characters but moot for others. I've been missing the level 16 cloak for a year, swapping in ghost touch gloves and stuff and I really really missed this cloak.

Cloak of Night 20:
Gains DR 5/good (which is basicaly DR 5 because honestly, who throws a shoe!?).  The Dodge 1% upgrades to dodge  2%. That was a huge upgrade for me when I got it, but now that Dodge works the post-MotU way, 2% dodge is only 1% better.

I'm happy to have this cloak but it's not a big deal on my current chararacter (Paladin Tank). That said, on my first life this cloak was tremendous -- the DR 5 really takes the sting out of papercuts.

Cloak of Night 24:
I own, but haven't played much of the MotU content yet. I was too busy using the Stone of XP to enjoy the endgame. As such I'm not sure how big a deal the extra Dodge and DR is for a "typical" player. But since I plan to keep TRing I don't have much use for Epic!-level gear.

TLDR; Cloak of Night is perfect for self-sufficent melee.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I return to Epics after many months of TRing.

Von 5 EN, Von 6 EH. It's new to me.

I've never, ever seen the giant iron golum fight so long. Usualy he drops instantly. But on EN he was punching back for a quite some time. Is there a taller humanoid in Ebberon? I can't think of any....

Anyway Von 5 was really fast, and Von 6 was the fastest I've ever seen. I don't understand how everyone runs so much faster than me. Is there some sort of Epic destiny or does everyone splash monk? barbarian? I don't know. Anyway the speed difference really showed up running to ice base and back.

But once I was inside I had an unexpected surprise. Our leader said to stay in front of Velah if you have either more than 650 HP or Evasion. (I've got both).

The fire breath did absolutely no damage to me thanks to evasion. Has Velah's breath always been so harmless? I thought she used to pass out a special debuff that made the second blast do 1000+ damage. Anyway, the fight lasted longer but was much less dangerous than I remembered. I got nothin but an Epic Raid Token, which I'll swap for an Epic Dungeon Token so I can get a TR heart.

I'm happy to be 1.87 tokens closer to TRing again but this sort of speed run left me cold. I didn't particularly enjoy it, however efficient it was. Does that make sense? It's not that it was too easy (since it's too hard to do on my own) but I dunno. I guess I'm just a TR guy instead of an Epic guy. Or rather I like dealing with the chaos of a sloppy run. Oh well, I'll be PUGing in the Halls of Shan-to-Kor soon enough! :D

Sunday, October 28, 2012

LEVEL 20: Third time's the charm!

Today I hit level 20 for the third time. Here's a pic of the moment it happened in The Mindsunder. The last few levels are really a slog, lucky for me Mabar was delayed for a +31% Heroic XP Boo-nus.

I'm very happy with what my Defender of Siberys Paladin Axe & Shield tank has become, but the journey here was really tough. I abandoned my original goal of staying Pure Paladin -- the importance of evasion cannot be overstated! Evasion is really that good!

I took Rogue levels so I could dump 16 skill points into UMD. I'm not impressed with the results. Honestly I'd rather depend on the Paladin's arsenal of healing and a few good clickies than try to deal with all the UMD stuff.

My first paladin life was much easier. The great DPS from Two Weapon Fighting made it a quick and fun. That said, I'm really enjoying the durability of shield and evasion this time around.

For my third and final Paladin life, I'm leaning towards yet another Paladin 18 / Rogue 2, but this time I'll forget about UMD and focus on traps and open lock. Those are very important skills for the kinds of PUGs I end up running with.

That said, I'm not sure if I want to do my Paladin life next. The additional +5% healing amp is tempting, but I'm gonna miss playing Paladin when I'm done, especially since the enhancement pass is scheduled for later this year. I'm not sure if I'll stay at cap for a while or try something different entirely. I'd like to try Druid, Monk, or even Artificer if I can get the house C favor. Until then I'm going to be farming Epic dungeon tokens and messing with my gear.

The biggest change I foresee is putting my Tharne's Goggles in the bank. My intimidate is so reliable I never get a chance to benefit from the sneak attack damage. As an easy swap I'm going to try to find +15 intimidate goggles to free up a ring slot (where my intimidate is currently). I'm also toying with the idea of a steam guard item for the solid fog. Supposedly GS solid fog is better and longer lasting than other clickies.

This life felt really rushed because of the Stone of XP. First I rushed into it by TRing before I had everything farmed. Then I rushed to reach level 8 before the stone of XP expired forever. And now I'm hurrying to grab up all the easy favor I skipped.

Level 20, third time's the charm!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Non-Mabar fun.

(say) Me:"Today I'm playing Mabar!
(say) Kids: "But..."
(say) Me: "Mabar!"
(say) Wife: "Let's go..."
(say) Me: "MABAR!"

So they left me alone except to bring me spiced coffee and hand drawn crayon art of the spooooky gibbering mouther.

Of course I *COULD* have told them that Maybar was canceled but what fun would that have been? So here's what I did this year while I was "playing Mabar." /wink

+Greater guild bonus+
I honestly don't know where this thing came from. I was standing near The Twelve campfire and suddenly, a "Greater guild bonus" was applied to me. The text ascended from my head, and then I got a fancy gold icon on my buff bar. The timer said 4:20, and that it paused in public areas.

+Giant's Vault+
I can complete this in about five miniutes. Not a world record, but it's still the fastest way for me to get guild renown. I only had 4:20 on the timer but with any luck I might beat my average by 40 seconds and get some much deserved favor.

As it turns out the guild bonus was four HOURS and twenty miniutes. Sometimes I get tired of Giant's Vault but last night I was still having fun when the ransacking occured.

+Dreaming Dark+
It's right next door but I didn't get much favor. Too much fun getting the Iouns I wanted Deep Red for twink Dex +6 and exceptional +1 dex skill for Open Lock, Scarlet and Blue for INT / disable device. And finaly, Pale lavender: spell absorption. Then the group fell apart so I was stuck with three unsupressed stones.

+Vision of Destruction+
I got to tank, but I guess tanking isn't really required anymore. I had Suulumades under control most of the time, but when he broke loose it wasn't a big deal as far as I could tell. Same thing with the rednamed orthons. They don't do much damage or present a unique threat. I'm glad my intimidation was high enough for hard but I missed the teamwork-or-die aspect. And I don't think that we succeeded because of battle hardened vets since I personaly rescued 6 of them that got lost while jumping past the buttons. But in the end, we won and I got that shield I wanted, the "Vengeful Protector" with a low roll of 24/100. :D

+Dreaming Dark+
Back to unsupress my three Ioun Stones.

Farmed 12 shards while waiting for a Stealer of Souls PUG to fill. I need more bags!

+Stealer of Souls+
Took three hours and three tries to shortman this quest on Elite at level. First run we disadvantaged ourselves by wasting 10 miniutes waiting for someone to grab their 3 essences and 3 gems. We ran out of time and ended up panicing into error and aggroing thirty giants a dozen air elementals. I alone survived.

Second run was faster but we failed on the ice part. I died first, I got air jetted into a stuckspot. I couldn't "/stuck" because the pummeling interrupted it. So I tried death, but then I still couldn't move and "/stuck" is not alowed when dead.

Third run was great. We sped through all four elements and finished with 17 miniutes to spare. The xp was great and for fun we tried beating Sorjek but we abandoned before he was down to 50%.

In short, I had a great time playing DDO on the first day of Maybar -- and there wasn't even any Mabar! Most things are not like that. I wouldn't enjoy cruizing down the highway at 90 MPH without a vehicle for example.

When Mabar does finaly happen, my main goal is to pimp my Cloak of Night. Currently I've got four of them. Can you guess what the problem is? My four cloaks are level: 4, 12, 20....

...and 12. :D

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cannith Crafting: how I learned to stop worrying and love the cranking sound

At first I was planning to attack head on Cannith Crafting and bang out some levels really fast. I got a Royal Guard Mask for rapid transit to the house K Crafting hall (shoudn't that make it the Kraft-ing hall?) and a new bag as big as my greed for all the essences and shards I would soon have.

But despite all my effort my progress was unbearably slow. I still kept teleporting to the crafting hall, and I still jammed nearly everything into the hopper and ground it up for essenses. Occasionaly I crafted some lowby gear -- I especialy liked helmets, because there are so many styles to choose from.

Until, suddenly, something amazing happened. My bag overflowed. I didn't notice because it overflowed into my other bags, but I did notice last night because all four of my ingredient bags overflowed into my backpack.

So... rather than waste them I went on a crafting spree and gained twenty levels (distributed among all three schools) Ten in Arcane, six in Divine and four in Elemental. It was fun to see those numbers increment after an eternity of not doing anything. And of course, it ended far far short of the big numbers that the uber-crafters brag about. But something caught my eye that doesn't sound right.

The forum is filled with people complaining about running out of small essences and the laborious agony of grinding larges into smalls. ...but I still have plenty of smalls and it's the LARGES that I've run out of.

Am I doing something differently? (AKA wrong)

I looked for shards with a very high percentage of success, and crafted whatever gave the most xp on either the bound or unbound side. Then I ground all the shards back into essences until everything fit into my large ingredient bag.

Anyway now I've got 65/50/49 and I'm looking forward to grinding everything I own whenever the next bonus weekend is.

Oh, and I decided not to grind up all the Thorn Guard and Good Luck +2 shards. I think I may use them sometime....

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Learn from my fail: lowercase-fail edition

+Raiding the Giant's vault+
For a year I've been doing it wrong. There are two rare chests above the silver key!

+Awesome looking Cannith Crafted heavy spirit crafted shield+
I thought I was being frugal by buying up a armload of cheapo shields from the venders and deconstructing all save the prettiest. Behold the trifecta of fail:
1. It's not heavy (it's light, but spelled lite)
2. It's not spiritcrafted (it's ML1 korthos stuff)
3. Not awesome looking. It's a little shield with a picture of an open mouthed skull. If the skull could talk, it would say "meh."

+Golden Guile gear swap+
I re-geared my character and slotted this in. Then, I used a Nyoko's invisibility clicky and spent a whole day wondering what the big deal is about Golden Guile's Improved Deception. It never did anything. It was almost as if I was wearing a Nyoko's necklace instead...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My first time: The Mindsunder

I've owned this pack for a couple months, but I didn't get around to running it until now.

I enjoyed the quests. My favorite feature is how each of the quests really changes environments. It helps that much of the action happens in a dream-reality where the rules of normal reality don't apply. But even so, I really appreciated how the adventure had parts, and that each part had a different setting. Changing scenes is a rudimentary storytelling technique but it's done really well in the Mindsunder quests. Bravo for an adventure pack that genuinely feels out of this world! :D

Loot wise, there's no "must have" named Dwarven axes but that shouldn't be a problem for anyone but me.

As far as XP, I felt like The Mindsunder was outrageously generous until I learned about the +25% xp bonus. Taking that into account the XP seems generous but not bonus-weekendly so.

That said, it could be that all the flattery heaped upon me by the other players made this a sweeter experience. My tank paladin was rocksolid through out the quests. I did switch my gear around a bit, I got rid of Kilau's band and necklace (+1d4 slashing, from ToD) an swapped in a otherwise plain +15 intimidate ring and a golden guile (for improved deception). I also swapped out the Madstone towershield for a cannith crafting heavy shield (+20% incite and lifeshield).

It feels like my intimidates are working more reliably although I'm still waiting for Defender of Sybris III when I hit level 20. I don't notice the lifeshield text that much, but it sure feels like I need way less self healing than before. Then again, since these are new quests I don't have a good baseline for comparison.

It makes me kinda wish I still had my stallwart trinket from Smuggler's Cove. Currently I've got an upgraded Head of Good Fortune (for the Heavy Fort mostly) but I wonder about putting the heavy fort somewhere else and seeing how that stoneskin effect changes things.

The item I want most is an upgraded Quiver of Alacrity but I've never completed Abbot. But that's a post for another day....

Long and short of it is that I'm very happy with the Eberon side of DDO. I'm so happy that I've totaly forgotten about all the newstuff going on in the Forgotten Realms.

...Gah! I see what I did there.

Friday, October 19, 2012

My Kids love the Monster Manual

So last night I had the rare opportunity to be home when the kids were going to sleep. My wife took our infant and gave me instructions on how to go to put them to bed. Eat vitamins, brush teeth, read a book or two, then take them into the bed room turn on the nite lite and all that. No silly business, don't get them riled up. After all, the oldest is only six years old.

But my daughter had other made other plans. That is, she literally wrote out a plan on a bit of paper. And I walked right into it. After I finished the younger kid's teeth I ushered them into the reading nook and my 6 yo daughter was already there with the Monster Manual opened up to my favorite abberation -- the Gibbering Mouther

Now she knows that I like the gibbering mouther, but when I see the glint in her eye I know that she knows. Of course, the terrifying contents of the MM are not bedtime approved but honestly, I'm flattered that she remembered that I like Gibbering Mouther. And then, before my parental circuitry is fully engaged to extol Goodnight Moon she asks me sweetly "Oh Papa? Do you know what sound this strange creature makes?" And of course I respond with a wink and a whisper "Gibber gibber gibber!"

And soon all four of us are gibbering. Low will saves run in the family I guess.

After that I try to put them to bed, but they intuitively know that bedtime doesn't actualy start until Papa stops laughing. And so they goof around and ask a hundred questions about the Gibbering Mouther. So I read some of the descriptions, and happen to mention that they are Abberations. What's that? I'm not really sure, except that abberations are not anything else. So then they flip through the book looking for other abberations. And soon we've invented a new game: Animal, Monsterous Beast, or Abberation?

At first they just guess randomly, but soon they're asking very pointed questions. "Papa, does a Digester have real acid like in a stomach or is it a magical acid?" I tell them it's normal acid and they guess, correctly: magical beast. And by the time we get all the way through the alphabet to R for Roc, the kids are outraged that it's an animal and not a monsterous beast as they guessed.

I skiped over the extra planar stuff because I can't think of a way to explain the great wheel over the sound of the shouting, jumpin, spinning and acting like victims of the various monsters. (Note, "acting" as in the William Shattner school of overacting.)

Finaly they want to go back and guess all the other creatures (humanoids, extraplanars etc) but I insist, absolutely insist, that we read the pastboard edition of Noah's Ark. To get them quiet I promise that we'll play the Monster Manual book again soon.




...I can hardly wait! :D

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

He is making a hat. He says: "it is for me!"

When I was a kid my parents were always buying me educational entertainment. They're both teachers so they're into that stuff. One such gift was vinyl record, a "Commander Whitehall audio adventure" starring the titular Commander himself. According to the record cover the Commander was traveling the world, seeing strange animals, making new friends and learning about other cultures in a way that appeals to young boys.

But in truth, it was just one guy telling a story in a Paladin voice with some sound effects. He said he traveled to Equidor, saw the equator, got a hat, saw a parade. But since the voice actor had no idea what Equidorians sound like he carried both sides of the conversations. "I am in a beautiful villiage here in Equidor. The people here are friendly. I thank them "Thank you! You are too kind!'" He is making a hat. He says: "it is for me!" "

But most of the record was just the sound of Commander Whitehall driving his Jeep along a mountain path. Oddly there were no mountain sounds, so basicaly it's just six miniutes of listening to a jeep's engine. No wheels, no gravel crunching, no lamas or birdsong.

Well, that's what Reaver's Fate was like today. Our fearless leader didn't even put any funny piking joke in the LFM. There was just the name of the raid "Reaver's Fate." I almost didn't recognize it without the sarcasm.

So, in I went. Fake-DPSing with my non-Giant bane non-DR breaker. And then giving up the pretext entirely and AFK piking. Exactly one load of dishes later, I returned as the Stormreaver died. I ran to the stairs and did an autoran at the forcefield.


Doesn't the forcefield drop when the lever is pulled? Yes it does.

And what happens when it doesn't? The quest fails by killing everyone and grief-dropping their soulstones on the lever. Ha ha developers. Reeeal funny.

A quick reform and we're back in again. This time I bring my A-game. I out-tank everyone and pull the Reaver into the center. Not that I care about greenbeard, no I want all eyes focused on me, the mighty tank. Everyone must watch as I pull an amazing feat of PRR! (Physical Resistance Rating)

Suddenly the gravity flips. Up I fall upward through the spikey hole of death. I richochete off the spikes and hit mouse button 14 of 25 activating fire resistance clickie. I press it again, activating my cloak as more spikes rip huge bloody numbers from my head. I toggle the scroll wheel left twice click click, and press button 14 of 25 a third time. The animation for Lay on Hands begins. I crash land on more spikes. It's possible that I could survive a third hit because of my PRR and hitpoints, but no. I die and everyone laughs at me.

But I have the last laugh after the quest is done. "The chest contains a Reaver's Sigil. It says: "it is for me!"

Monday, October 15, 2012

Learn from my fail: Stormcleave outpost

My LFM said "Stormcleave Outpost. Favor, no XP. Know trapazoids and love the color brown."

I got a few tells "lol" they said, and then suddenly an entire party of grumpy favor grinders.

"When are we starting?" "Can we start now?" "Hello? Lets go" "Start now?" "Hurry please" All this in the time it took me to respond to the first question by typing "y"

And by the time I had run from the top of my guildship to Stormcleave outpost they had cleared much of the quest. So I hurried along as best I could while the warforged sorcs hasted trails of anhiliation through the outpost. Those poor giants never stood a chance.

But despite all the speed and firepower, we somehow failed to activate one of the half dozen pillars -- or so DDO would have us believe.

After several miniutes of checking and double checking all of the pilars, the grumpy grinders cursed DDO's buggyness and quit the party.

I left and rescued some noobs from Dreaming Dark casual. Then I returned to Stormcleave Outpost with the same LFM. This time I didn't get any tells or party members, so for fun I decided to solo it ninja style.

Basicaly, using my ToD necklace for three invisibilitys per rest to bypass all the mobs.

It worked better than I expected. There's a long list of things that do or don't break invisibility that I never bothered to memorize. But I was elated to see that activating pillars didn't break my invisibility. And so I came up with a new self imposed challenge: I'd try to get all of them before my invisibility ran out.

Not so tough on a tanky paladin with jet propultion boots, but when I finished, I discovered to my horror that NONE of the pilars registered as activated. I tried an experiment but dreaded the outcome.

Hypothisis: Activate schmactivate. It doesn't count unless you kill the mefits.

Result: True. What now zerger?

So I trudged around looking for Mefits. As luck would have it, I never found the last Mefit. Some sorc hasted around until he found it and sqashed it for me.

Got my favor and learned something new.

...stupid learning. I hate it.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Bah! Schrödinger's catted again!

My self-imposed exile started on Korthos but it ended in Vision of Destruction with the slaying of Suulomades.

Why Vod? Vision of Destruction holds a special place in my memory because it was my first "real" DDO raid. The loot is fantastic, binds to character on pickup, and causes anger and resentment if you don't re-distribute it correctly.

Alot of those hardfeelings went away with the True Reincarnation system. Now you can take ANY raid loot and if anyone complains just say you're gonna TR into the (item appropriate class) next life.

The other thing I really liked about VoD is how fail-prone the Raid was. It's a very short raid, just one extended battle in a small arena, and so it's easier to accept a total party wipe and have enough of a raid group for a quick second attempt.

So how was it?
Honestly I was very dissapointed. Our group had so many Epic Level characters there wasn't any real threat of failure. I really missed that.

But at least we got some neat raid loot. I won the roll for a Vengeful Protector, a heavy shield that is an upgrade to my current Madstone shield. (I'm so tired of looking at that ugly hunk of crystal!)

But I hear you, my loyal readers, asking "Yes, but what about the probability themed soul crushing pathos promised in my thread title?" Well here it is:

So the guy who put the Vengeful Protector up for roll said something like:

"Vengefull Protector up for roll."

And then someone else said "Bracers of the Glaicer up for roll" and the screen was filled with /roll d100

So then the Vengeful Protector guy said, "Vengefull Protector d87"

I rolled a 25 on the d87, I won and it was passed to me. Someone else won the braciers of the glacier and they took it and left.

But then someone else spoke up on the mic, saying that they had rolled a d100 for the vengefull protector *before* the bracers of the glacer were put up for roll. And since he rolled 100, it should have been his by right.

I kept silent and let the two of them argue it out. As a compromise they decided to let him have a do over. Since my d87 was a 25, I wasn't feeling too confident about it.

He rolled a 79 and so the Vengefull Protector was lost -- forever.

In retrospect, I feel confident that he won the shield fair and square. But man I miss that Vengefull Protector. I'm so tired of looking at this ugly hunk of crystal!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pit + Tempest spine = TREASURE

I've been goofing around in DDO. Each night, I log on to Orien with my Level 19 Defender of Syberis intimitank run the lowest Elite quests I've got uncomplete.

It's a fun, easy way to unwind after a day at work, and it's nice to see all the content that hasn't been available to me until now. (Durring the MotU pre-order, I bought all of the Adventure Packs.)

But then last night I fell into a group of like minded players who also wanted get Favor for all the quests they skipped over with the stone of XP. It was so fun!

We hit a long string of quests, but for me the highlights were The Pit and Tempest Spine.

I love the Pit. I love it so much that I intentionaly try not to overplay it. Until last night I've never run the Pit overlevel so that it always seems dangerous, and so that my memory has a long cooldown time to forget everything so I can relive the wonder-fear and dread-joy of my first time in the Pit. But as it turns out, playing the Pit while level 19 is really fun too! Some of us died (not me). All of us fought the Avatar of Jubliex. None of us got a muckdoom. Fun fun fun.

Then after that we ran Elite Tempest Spine raid. We went in with six people and at our worst moment everyone but me was dead, and I was running for my life chased by a pack of giants reavers and mefits, wishing that I had more mana, a few LoH, or my Unyielding Soverignty. I survived that by running through a portal, rezzing the one soul stone dragged with me, and then fighting our way back throught the portal and to the shrine.

Apparently it's a tough quest to solo since it's a raid and someone managed to get Red Dungeon Alert. But as my readers know, I love a tough fight. The only thing better than a tough fight is a tragic defeat... or so I thought until I opened the chest before the portal to the water.

+3 Greater heart of wood

Suddenly, this remedial favor grinding doesn't seem so "inefficient" after all! :D

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Arcane hireling? Why didn't I think of that?

So I was like "Die thou spawn of a cinder!" And then Cinnis the Cinderspawn was like "+3000 XP." It was a really tough fight even though we were overlevel. The assassin rogue said it best: "Do you have divine punishment slotted? time use it!" He was a genius or something.

But the other thing I learned from him is that arcane hirelings are cool. His 'ling was blasting everyone with gobs of arcane dps... Not as good as a real sorc, but still better than "stupid Haysack" as my kids call him whenever he dies... Again... And again... And again...

But anyway I expect good things I should be able to tank and spot heal an arcane hireling and get stuff done faster than killing it all myself. I got used to always bringing a hireling with a raise dead, just in case I got summoned during a fight. But this should be better.

It's yet another thing I'm looking forward to in DDO.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

I am back. Again! :D

This week my newborn daughter learned to commando crawl. She lies on her tummy and scoots around in search of things to bite. That's given me the freedom to get back into the game.

Before, all she did was submit bug reports about how everything bite worthy was too far away.

Baby: Wah! (The singing fox plush toy is too far)
Baby: Waaah! (Ceiling fan cannot be reached)
Baby: Waa! (AI problem: I hit Papa but he won't fetch scissors.)
Baby: Wa! (Another stuck spot! Who designed this quest anyway? Fire them!!!)
Baby: Wah! (My depth perception isn't fully developed so I'm grasping at something 5 feet away.)
Me: Working as intended. You look like you're using the force. Totaly cute.

In game, things are pretty much how I remember them. My Rogue/Pali is still nigh unkillable, but my DPS feels like a huge step down from my previous two lives (TWF ranger & TWF paladin). But the big change I forgot, and was pleasantly surprised by, is that I've got an upgraded Head of Good Fortune from Reaver's Fate in the Gianthold. The Head is not a big deal for most people because most people have a Minos Helmet from Necro4. But I don't have a Minos helmet and therefore, I've always had trouble slotting Heavy Fortification. And even if I had a Minos I wouldn't wear it because my ConOpp greensteel is a helmet.

The upgraded Head of Good fortune solves the Heavy Fort problem that for me by putting the Heavy Fort in the trinket slot, which frees up my ring, necklace, belt slots and/or Dragontouched rune for cooler stuff.

PUGs have been pretty accepting of my gimpy ways. I haven't been called out on my humorously low DPS, but I did get some admiration for surving a TPK in Pray the Hunter and tanking redname Rockslide while the casters lined up a clean kill.

Goals: I'm not sure what I'm doing with a tank. None of the quests I'm doing really needs a tank for anything, and I don't have much Intimidate gear anyway. If I was going to stick with this build, I would want to get more intimidate and hate. I'm looking at the Circle of Hate from Necro4, but I've never run Accursed Ascention, so can't anticipate how much of a grind that could be.

My other goal is to do something about my Madstone Shield from Reavers. If I get a sigil I could upgrade it, but honestly I'm tired of looking at that ugly hunk of crystal. I don't know which shield has the stats to replace it though.

And then my overarching strategic plan for my next TR? I'm not sure. The unkillability and AFK-friendlyness has been perfect for this phase of my family life, but I'd kinda like to try something with more fight. I'll probably get my third (and final) Paladin life, but with a really aggressive focus on traps and dps. Perhaps even try some deep multiclasses.

I'm also nearly ready to do another Greensteel, so perhaps a Rad semitar for backstabbing? Lots of cool gear and options at this point.

Oh and lastly, I pulled my second +3 STR tome. It was unbound so I swapped it for a +3 DEX. Now I've got +3 STR, +3 DEX, +3 CON, and everything else is +2.

Oh right, the new endgame. I'm totaly out of the loop on that. That should be a fun surprise. :D

Monday, August 6, 2012

ToD rings: they ungimp my palitank

After a yet another demoralizing bunch of deaths, I abandoned palipurity and sauntered over to the rogue trainer. To my delight, I had banked two levels -- enough to get evasion.

But the coolest thing was upgrading my ring fingers to wear ToD rings. Encrusted and Kilaus FTW! I'm not über but it's enough DPS to make me feel relevant again.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012

I'm level 8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16!

What a relief to have applied the Stone of XP before the deadline!

Life was so hectic I was afraid the stone would vanish as quickly as the last two months with our newborn.

Now that I've put some time into leveling a Tank I see why people complain so much about it. Being a low level tank isnt useful unless the party is dying alot. Then I'm a hero for rescuing soulstones, zerging traps and activating levers without interruption under a heavy torrent of melee and bow shots. But the rest of the time? Just lagging in the kill count and trading surplus Lay on Hands for tys.

In retrospect I shoulda taken some trapping ability since traps were by far the biggest delay in my elite streak plan.

I am really looking forward to raiding again and TRing again for the big enhancement pass. Might do my first ever Abbot run for twink gear if the flagging is fast enough.

Monday, July 9, 2012

DDO made me sad.

This morning my wife asked me "Hon, why are you sad?"

I wasn't sure. Life, in general is pretty fantastic right now. I slept all night while my wife tended our 2 month old girl, and this morning when I watched her she was very mellow. My coffee was great. The cake was perhaps too rich and sweet to qualify as a "sensible breakfast" but nothing to complain about. I was genuinely flummoxed. I was sad, of that I was certain. But why?

Then it hit me -- DDO made me sad.

Earlier that morning I was Elite Streaking Tangleroot. I found a Lightning-Split Soarwood, I killed a bunch of hobgoblins, I was having fun. But then, I couldn't find the guy I needed to kill to take his map. I searched the dungeon once, and then twice there was nothing there except for this dumb spike trap that I kept forgetting was there. Lucky for me, my character is a high hitpoint Dwarf Tank. Remember the bug last week with Elite Waterworks Part 3 and the acid hallway of Dooooom? Not a problem for my Dwarf Tank. Run through, chug pots, problem solved.

But finding the guy that can't be found? Not fun. Finaly I figured it out. I was trying to find an unconnected island in a maze with the left hand rule. (Graph theory: I was doing it wrong!) But I found the entrance. I rushed in, noticed a handy shrine behind a locked door, and ran up the ramp.


A blade trap sprung out of the wall. The game froze as Windows 7 chose that exact moment to suddenly begin the backing up of data. Five seconds later, the game resumed. I was dead. My pet was dead. My Hireling was dead.

I finished out and tried to race back before the quest timed out. Too slow.

And then I realized, that just before I got hit with the trap I had opened the doors to a shrine.

So I told her. I said I was playing DDO today and I stepped on a trap. She laughed and showed me a comic about first world problems of the 90s.

Friday, July 6, 2012

"Level 20 is the highest level in DDO" My first level 20 TR photo celebration.

tr2 Enter the Kobold.

This is my main hitting level 20 a second time. It happened the weekend prior to Menace of the Underdark. I don't know what happens when you hit level 20 now that the cap has been raised. I bet ti doesn't say "You have attained the highest level in DDO!" Now there's probably something different, like as soon as you hit 20 you watch the movie: Spinner of Shadows Buy Now.

This Paladin 20 life went by too fast. I was earning XP so fast I hardly got to stop to smell the roses. The only quest I ransacked was Dreaming Dark. I wanted several Ioun stones for TR twink gear but I had to settle for a +6 STR ML:5. It's actualy great at level. I didn't make any new GS, had very little time to run shrouds.

Whereas my previous TR was totaly Free to Play, this life was on a premium account. I bought the cheapest Turbine Point card that my local GameStop had in stock. I wanted the Premium status more than the points, because Premium players can go AFK for a very long time. On my f2p account I'd always get auto-logged-out while I was waiting for raids to fill. (I'm lookin at you, Tower of Despair.) That premium upgrade as very convienient for me and using the Turbine Points I bought all the Epic! packs. Great value. I got alot of fun out of those Epics!, especialy VoN: The Prisoner, which was an absolutely punishing nightmare of a quest back then.

The biggest improvement from TRing a third time is the ability to open quests on Elite. It's not for everyone, but personaly, I love running everything on elite -- now I can without having to waste my time on the easier, more cost efficient difficulty settings.

Currently I'm on my 3rd life and I'm enjoying all the TR and Cannith Crafted twink gear. Just put on my +6 STR Ioun stone and I'm wielding my Silver Holy Warhammer of Undead Bane. I'm wearing Adamantium full plate. I know, everyone else likes invulnerability but I prefer DR 3/- plus the biggest Armor bonus I can craft since these low levels are where AC matters.

Oh, and special thanks to my blog-fiend of a wife who taught me how to internet a pic.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Celebratory Level 20 Pictures:


So, this was my first Level 20 character. I'm not sure when exactly, a few years back. But you'll notice the important thing, he's level twenty and FREE TO PLAY. Just goes to show it can be done. I don't remember where he was or what he was doing when he hit 20, but it was probably somewhere in the Vale of Twilight since, back then, it was my only high level content.

If I remember correctly, he didn't have any Greensteel weapons when he hit 20, but he did have a ConOpp helm, which I thought was the coolest item ever.

Edit: I mean no tier III Greensteel weapons. He did have a pair of Pos/Pos/- warhammers that he used most of the time, and some really wacky boss beaters. Not because I thought that a metaline flametouched light pick of something totaly uselesss was great, it was just the only thing I could find that would let me join Shroud groups. (I bought that MFLPOSU from the house D vendors. Can you imagine why someone would dump it?) :)

I also had a Tier II Mineral dwarf axe that I used for the stoneskin clickie.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Broccoli, the commerce clause and DDO

It's wierding me out. Everyone is talking about how Congress has no power to force people to buy Broccoli or Health Insurance under the commerse clause but I can't help but think of the DDO Broccoli guy.

It reminds me of Huricane Katrina, which happened one month after our Kitten, Katrina learned her name. Poor kitten was so confused at the newscasters shouting her name for an entire news cycle.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Slotting Devotion on my Paladin

I aplaud the U14 nerfing of spell boost clickies. They were a crutch, an easy button, they had to go. DDO is better without them.

That said, it's royal pain for me because spell boost clickies were MY crutch! In particular I counted on Superior Ardor IV for a free 75% boost to all of my healing spells on my past life Ranger and present life Paladin for self-healing.

And so, bereft of my beloved Superior Ardor IV clickies, I did what any self-healer did: I progressed through the seven stages of grief. The first four stages are too deeply personal to blog about without violating the my.ddo ToS so lets pick up after the fifth stage: grinding and vendoring Ardor clickies.

The sixth stage, brainstorming without considering the consequences, was totaly fun. I came up with all kinds of manic fantasies like "Hey, what if I have a two handed staff with a sweet healing bonus that I switch to whenever I want to toss a CSW?" or "What would be realy cool is if I flaunted my ddo wealth by crafting a ToD ring with an incredible potential  Devotion VIII." or "I'll just run Prey the Hunter in my free time until I pull a Soverign Devotion rune."

But now I'm on the seventh stage of grieving about Ardor clickies, dealing with it. The reality is I don't want to make the time to run Prey the Hunter. and I've only got a single spare ToD ring (Morah's Band / Acrobat set) and I don't want to replace my other ring/belt set (Encrusted / Frenzied Berserker) I could see replacing my Kilau's band since the 1d4 slashing is useless on anything with DR. That would free up the neck for... something? I could put my Heavy Fort necklace there and then switch to my non-Heavy Fort Dragon Touched armor.

Pro: Gain healing spellpower +70%, frees up an eldrich rune on the DT.
Con: -1d4 slashing damage, -2 Ex Con
Meh: Swap +1 exceptional Wis for Dex

It's ok, but without knowing what my goal for this character is (Farm 20 completions on raids? Party in FR? TR quickly before the Stone 'o XP evaporates?) I'm lothe to pull the trigger.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Enter the Forgotten Realms

More MotU

Despite my doomsaying, I actualy got alot of DDO time. After my daughters' birthday party they got tired and fell asleep early. As did my wife, who was exhausted from an epic vegan cake fail. And so it was that after I finished scrubbing the insoluble pink cake ring off of our tub, I traveled to Forgotten Realms.

Last time I got a bunch of XP towards Level 21 but not toward my Epic Destiny. I can't tell you how much that buged me to see all that XP going to waste. And so I started up a LFM for "Into the Rift."

Eight seconds later my soul was weary from an eternity of waiting. I changed the LFM to "IP" and charged in with naught but a hireling to aid me. What a mixed bag that quest was. On one hand the scenery is spectacular. Not only is each setpiece great, they're arranged in a spectrum to convincingly present the illusion that you're going on an epic journey. But on the otherhand the combat was absolutely terrible.

Supposedly there was a bug (which was addressed in the latest hotpatch) that makes the difficulties wrong. So even though I selected "casual" for speed, I ended up slogging through epic level mobs. Not that it was dangerous for my self-healing tank-wannabe, but it took forever because my DPS is no match for Epic HP.

It worried me because I've always enjoyed DDO's combat. A while ago, the awesomeness of DDO's combat was guarenteed by Vorpal weapons. Whenever the Devs put too many hitpoints on a mob, whenever clearing trash became a chore, whenever undergeared characters started a land war in Asia, whenever someone went in against a Scilian when death was on the line, the vorpal blades went "snicker snack" and in a blue flash the drudgery died. But now, post vorpal-nerf I'm afraid DDO will be overrun by lazy developers and HP-fat mobs.

Anyway, after the great scenery and hateworthy gameplay of Into the Rift, I got Paladin fatespun. Kinda dumb, since I just wrote about how I need more DPS but it's handy for tanking, which I've enjoyed lately.

Then out into the Kings Forest. Everyone says it's massive, but I had no idea how big this wilderness area really is. I spent hours running around and really enjoyed it. Lousy XP and loot but lots of fun.

Then I went back to house K and ran some Epics. I felt like those were too safe also. I couldn't DPS the mobs, and they couldn't hurt me. Perhaps I don't like the tanking experience?

And then to rub it in, I joined a Stealer of Souls. A couple people failed to flag (after promising otherwise) and so we ended up doing a two-man run on casual. We had alot of trouble DPSing the giants and so although we finished the quest, we ran out of RL time fighting Sorjek.

So, I dunno. My main is a good team player, tanking bosses and gathering trash, but the DPS makes soloing and shortmanning a chore. That lousy DPS overshadows all the upgrades to an otherwise great expansion pack.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Logged in today with very little time.

Spent several miniutes admiring the new UI and reading all the UI customization options. The only surprise is that the focus orb can be set to disappear when it's not selecting anything. I tried it for laughs but fell in love with it. It's so helpful to have the whole orb flicker on target aquire. I love how the UI blends in with dark dungeon environments. 

Didn't have much time so I joined an epic ADQ. Running through sands with the map exposed is a treat. I didn't even know I had done explorers on this life.

In Zwabi's Revenge, we laughed at a rednamed kobold that showed up amongst the Djini. No idea what he was doing there. Reminded me of that poor wight that used to be on the ramp in The Pit.

At the end we grumbled about the unclickable raid token but I was lucky enough to get a real one in the Epic Chest. There was one bit of shard I hadn't heard of / didn't want. The end that rewards the Djini was handing out were all ml 22, way more than lil ol, level 20 me. Didn't see anything I needed so I grabbed deathblock of something. Deathblock deconstructs so nicely.

After that I wandered into Beyond the Rift on casual. For fun, I jumped into the rift. I was surprised to meet Elminster. Never realy got into FR, so I don't know anything about him except that he belongs to the set of punchlines to D&D jokes about being overpowered.

Seems like a nice guy though. I felt bad for him, his audio is buggy (too quiet, even after turning it up it reverts to too quiet) and he's stuck in the Demonweb.

On the downside, he has an odd way of saying "ye." I'm not against saying 'ye.' That's how my God talks too, but Elminster puts so much emphasis on 'ye.' It sounds like he's making fun of ren faire folk. He punches each and every "*YE*" like a pirate who happens upon his first ARR in a long sentence.

Then I ran in and fought some dretch, I was on one of the casual settings and it seemed like an easy fight. Then I had to quit for the day. Some of my daughters are celebrating their birthdays tomorrow (6yo and 1yo) so there's alot of last miniute prep.

If it were up to me I'd just buy them a stack of donuts, a hat full of tokens and drive them down to the localChuck E Cheeze arcade. More fun for them and cheaper for me. But my wife wants to show off her vegan cake recipies and have something classy for the soiree section of the blog, and so my DDO time is gonna be subsumed by hanging garlands and assembling pony decorations. Ah well, at least I have a few days off work.

Friday, June 22, 2012

ToD: First time this life.

When I started DDO in September of '09 the Devils of Shavarath Adventure Pack was the crown jewel of high level (but not Epic) DDO adventures. And of those adventures, the crown jewel was the Tower of Despair -- a raid comprised of a series of fights culminating in the ultimate fight with General Horoth.

Frequently, both in game and on the message boards, people would hold up the battle with Horoth as a touchstone. "Oh sure" they'd say "your hairbrained idea might be situationaly useful, but General Horoth has..." and then they'd shoot the idea down. "Horoth has true seeing so blurry doesn't work on him" "Horoth casts disintegrate for waaay more than you have hitpoints, therefore CON is not a dumpstat." Or most commonly, "No one cares about your special love for your boots. If you're not wearing the Anchoring boots you will eventualy roll a 1 and Horoth will banish you!" That was the big threat: Horoth will Banish you! No one ever said what it looks like but my imagination filled in the blank.

Imagination: Clearly, the choice of phrase "(NAME) is banished" is a reference to Shakespere's "Romeo and Juliet." So, imagine a pitfiend like Harry or Suulomades except wearing a plumed venician hat. Horoth stands over the bloody and broken body of Tibbles decrying to the assembled crowd "Romeo! Is! Banish! Edddd!" And then Horoth gains a quarter billion hitpoints.

Which is to say, I was a noob.

But on my last life I had twenty successful completions under my belt and that makes me an expert. I had alot of fun in ToD last life. I pulled a +3 STR tome, won a Kilau's band in a roll, and selected 'crusty for my 20th completion. Back then we did everything perfectly and nothing ever went wrong because of our professionalism. But now, there's all these noobs running aroud with a Stone of XP's worth of swagger and a CP's worth of sense ToD is more difficult than ever.

My first run this life was ruined by just such noobery. We failed, just like all ToD fails BECAUSE THE TANK DIDN'T. Didn't hold aggro, didn't get aggro, didn't wear boots, didn't survive the unlucky double disintegration, didn't get a heal, didn't get a rez. Whenever we fail in ToD, we fail because the tank didn't. In this case it was a caster who was tanking the shadows, but from the point of view of the 11 of us who were frozen by shadows instead of roasted by devils it makes no difference. The tank didn't -- therefore we failed.

Durring that particular fail, I tried an experiment. I intimidated to grab the aggro of the shadows, kite them away long enough for the rest of the party to recover. I knew I probably wouldn't succeed, but if I did we could win. I didn't.

Next run was different. The shadowmaster was in a terrible position but thanks to the player's skill and experience he tanked the shadowmaster back to where he needed to be and we advanced to the ultimate fight with Horoth. It was cool. And for me, inspirational, because I wanted to tank someday. A good tank makes all the difference.

We enterered the final chamber. I had a bit of a panic because I've got two boots that look the same. The Boots of Anchoring (correct!) have the same icon as the Jet Propultion boots (You! Are! Banish! Ed!).  I had to read the tooltip to be sure.

The tank established aggro. It took a bit of time but it but it's such an important job it pays to be thourough. Finaly he felt confident and called for DPS. A second later our group of DPS was huddled safely behind Horoth, his hatred focused solely on our mighty tank.

Later on, the raid gets difficult again, but this is the easy part. How easy? Try it and see! Can you find the number 4 on your keyboard? Can you press it? Congradulations! You're better at DDO than I am. I pressed 3.

My character intimidated Horoth.

I hoped for an instant that Horoth would ignore my intimidate, just like those shadows ignored me, and Xy'zzy, and a thousand other mobs. But Horoth immediately turned away from the tank. As he spun clockwise his outstretched claw spun through our ranks of DPS like a scythe. We scattered under his onslaught. An explosion of Running, Jumping, Featherfalling, Tumbling characters. And at the center of this expanding ring of failure? Me DPSing. Horoth rampant.

Everyone with a Mic thought this was bad. They said so loudly. Many blamed the tank for my error but the more experienced players knew that this could have only happened via sabotage. I typed "Ididsorry" into the storm of accusations and tried to find a tactically adventageous place to die. Where was the real tank? I ran behind Horoth where our tank had been but I couldn't see him. Just hear him over the microphone as he fought on three fronts to regain Horoth's aggro, defend his reputation, and lecture me on how I could avoid this problem in a theoretical sense. I say, "theoretical" because his solution required traveling back in time and not doing what I had done. Outside of that we were doomed.

Then, our leader spoke up. He promoted me to main tank, and sent everyone else after Suulomades. Now, the person he picked to heal me is widely regarded as the best healer on our server so I can't take all the credit, but I didn't fail and that's something. I even had a moment of self sufficiency! The healer shouted that she was stunned and couldn't heal. She shouted that someone, anyone, should heal me quick. And so I did, I hit myself with two uninterrupted Maximized Empowered Cure Serious Wounds. I don't always make that concentration roll, but this time I did.

I did, therefore we won.

Afterwards the PUG people said they were cool with my apologies, mostly glad for the chance at the optional chest. The optional isn't guarenteed now with all these stoned noobs on the loose! Several rings dropped. One was cherished by an obscure build. Afterwards four of us shortmanned Against the Demon Queen (ADQ). They asked me, "Do you want to be the healer AND the tank?"

I did. ;)