For the past many months, I’ve spent quite a bit of time reading the blogs of other players with whom I share a common love of DDO. Doing so has inspired me to stake my own little piece of Teh Interwebz to share my own experiences, and maybe what knowledge I’ve collected over the past (embarassing number of) lives.
Since the readers (I hope I’ll have one or two!) will be hearing a lot of the following names in coming posts, I figured an introduction of the pantheon of characters is in order. You may notice I have a penchant for the short, stocky lot.. that’s purely coincidental. Honest. I’m lying. I just have a lot of love for the stumpies.
While almost all of these toons have backgrounds and “personalities” in the role-play sense, I’ll try and keep that to a minimum, so this intro doesn’t take forty pages. With the exception of one toon, all of these can be found on the Orien server in the guild Full Moon Fury.
Tholgrin Stoneforge, Dwarf Paladin
My original toon, I still consider him my “main main” even though there are other toons which have seen more play time and have more lives. He’s embarking on his third life in a row as a pure Paladin (Knight of the Chalice) at level 7, packing a rather nasty Holy Greataxe of Lacerating with Festival Icy Burst added and the Force Damage Ritual tacked on top of it and swinging with Throw Your Weight Around. This is not your “doorstop paladin” build in the slightest – Thol is a brute pretty much right out of the gate. Except for recently, other characters have stolen the spotlight, so he’s been sitting back and watching the rest of the guild grow into their own.
Aapex Predator, Bladeforged Paladin
His first life was an experiment as a melee artificer, which was in itself part of an experiment to play non-dwarven races to learn their intricacies. While that was a blast to play (and yes, melee artificers are actually quite effective, provided you think tactically and not like a haged barbarian), once I hit twenty, I saw the Bladeforged Iconic hero. Having already played two pure pally lives on Thol (at the time), and looking through the racial trees, the Bladeforged was just too tempting. So I TR’ed Aapex into a… you guessed it.. pure pally Knight of the Chalice with a similar structuring to Thol’s proven-effective system. I had to do quite a bit of grinding, however, as I’d already selected Draconic Incarnation as the epic destiny while Aapex was still an artificer.. thus grinding my way back to Unyielding Sentinel to get his “pally self” online. As of the time of this writing, Aapex is my current high-level toon, and the one I’ve lately been trying to solo a Shroud run with. More on that, later – since this is also my first time through the Shroud, period!
Tubbho Lard, Dwarf Monk-ish
Most of the folks I play with on Orien consider Uncle Tubbs to be my “main,” simply because he’s where I’ve spent months at a time exploring the various ways of fine-tuning unarmed combat into an art form. Unlike one of the blogs who inspired this one, The Order of Syncletica, I haven’t embarked much on the Dark Monk side; instead, Tubbs has been focusing on Light Monk to master infinitely sustainable self- and mass-healing without using a single spell point. (He has gone two entire lives, from 1 to 28, always elite on heroic, without shrining a single time.) The “-ish” comes from whatever life he is exploring at the moment; currently, he’s taking a bit of a sojourn from the melee focus on his eleventh life and exploring more of a “casty” role as a monk/druid. I’m still on the fence about the idea, as he’s only level seven, and casters are very much not my strong suit – so I feel a little “gimped” at the moment. Of course, the entire idea of this build was to move out of my comfort zone, so in that sense, it’s succeeding: my TR-buddy, who is usually the arcane to my heal/tank, is also stepping out of his zone and stepping up to the front lines. The results have been mixed. Neither of us feel confident, and have idly “joked” about how we would Otto’s out of this life if they were available.. at least, I think we’re joking.
“Alts” – All 20+ except where noted
Sporkface Botulism, Half-Elf Sorcerer (level 5)
This was the result of a somewhat (heavily) intoxicated idea borne from a TR buddy and I – “hey, why don’t we make perma-death toons and goof off for a while?” So, not having any intention of keeping the toon around for very long – or expecting her to survive beyond level 3 without dying once, for that matter – I gave her a relatively silly name. Turns out spouting rapid-fire gouts of Burning Hands (SLA and spell) and Scorch for AOEs and Scorching Ray for burst damage is rather brutally effective at low levels. I still get some funny looks when people run by, especially since we can’t seem to decide on a guild name. I believe it’s currently “Spoonfed Ducks,” which took over for “Brain Bubbles,” and at one point it was “Moist Chocolatey Diaper.” Even though it’s perma-death, it’s still quite relieving to step out of a “real character” for a change and just fart around. And she’s totally not a pyro.
Bholgrin Stoneforge, Dwarf Paladin/Monk/Rogue
This toon originally started as an experiment to plot out an idea I had for Tholgrin’s second life (hence the similarity in naming, and nearly identical apperance) and turned out to be such a blast to play I wound up taking him all the way to twenty. With Whirling Steel Strike, he dual-wields longswords (currently Oathblade in the main hand with a Retribution slotted with Devotion 90 in the off-hand) and is pretty darn self-sufficient. Thanks to a cranked-up healing amplification, his Cure Moderate wounds regularly hit in the 140’s for next-to-no SP, and his trapping abilities haven’t failed yet up through Elite Eveningstar quests. (Don’t ask him to pick a lock, though; it was an experiment build, after all.) This was my first real attempt at a “superbuild” of sorts, and while I don’t play him very often any more, he was still a wonderful learning experience in juggling the needs of a multi-classed toon.
Felldar Bloodbeard, Dwarf Rogue/Artificer
Felldar started out as the stealthy type. He was my first toon to make it through Stealthy Repossession on Elite at level two without raising so much as a peep, before gathering dust at level four for months. Then I unlocked Artificer, and started playing one, and kept thinking to myself: You know what would be awesome? Pair up the Battle Engineer with an Intelligence-based Rogue Mechanic. One lesser heart of wood later, and Felldar was reborn. As one of my earlier toons (the second one into epic levels, to be exact) he doesn’t have near the self-sufficiency of my later incarnations – which is a point I lament greatly about him, nowadays – but he still packs quite a mean punch with Needle, Quill-Slinger and rapid-fire sneak attack bonuses. I don’t play him much anymore, except to add up a few more points onto his favor total. He’s my current favor farmer, and has been stuck at 25 for ages.
Gorruk Bouldertongue, Dwarf Fighter (level 9)
When I first started making a slew of toons, I had the crazy idea that I wanted to play at least one of every class, pure, through to level 20. The only classes I’m currently missing on that goal are the wizard (Varjek) and Gorruk, the fighter. Which is proving… tedious. Not because I believe the fighter is a bad class, or I don’t think he can do it.. it’s more or less that: a) the majority of my playtime is solo, and b) for me, playing a fighter solo is BORING. I’ve gotten spoiled with my other multi-classed toons that have me bouncing buttons all over the controller like a hyperactive squirrel. Gorruk, in his self-imposed “pure fighter” role, is also 100% reliant upon potions or healbots (or the generosity of other players, if I’m PUGging) and while he has a pretty darned decent damage output, is still struggling to fill up a single hotbar. I will freely confess that (outside of a few PDK disposable heroes) this is my first “real” fighter character, and as such I have not yet fully explored every potential; but the way he’s currently built – heavy armor with Throw Your Weight Around and a greataxe – he’s just boring. I keep reminding myself that it’s not the toon, it’s you as the problem, but that doesn’t help. In groups, he’s a blast, and I do more PUGging with this toon than any other.
Immano of Llawriennal, Elf Cleric/Monk
Yet another “experiment gone to keeps,” Immano went on a complete 180-degree turn at level 15. During Mattok’s life as a pure cleric pacifist healer (yes, it was a flavor build), I learned that most groups don’t want just a human healbot; also, it’s danged difficult to solo being a pacifist, and that’s where most of my time goes. (This is also why Mattok has been stuck at 15 for over eight months.) Immano’s first incarnation was a full-cleric Arcane Archer/Radiant Servant, the idea being the bow would allow him to add some damage to the mobs while primarily hanging back and tossing heals. By the time he hit 14, I’d grown bored of the idea and had been reading a great deal about “clonks,” cleric/monk hybrids, and figured I’d give it a go and see what happened. Took fifteen as a monk and immediately LRed to respec; the concept turned into the rough idea that grew into Tubbho’s trademark mass-cures-and-restorations-every-few-seconds-with-no-SP-lost maneuver. After many lives on Tubbho, I come back to Immano and can feel how clumsy and unrefined the build is, but I keep him around for fun and to help others – plus, with seventeen levels of cleric (I don’t put near as much in my builds any longer), he’s still quite the front-line-battle-healer even if his DPS licks leperous monkey tails. I still love playing him in the occasional raid, though, or otherwise brutal quest that is very heal-intensive and coming out with a mostly-full mana bar without drinking any “blue juice.”
Kiljoen Lorebringer, Dwarf Sorcerer Fire Savant
He was my very, very firstamest character to reach Epic levels, and to this day, I’m still not quite sure how. Granted, I’m totally not a pyromaniac (sure, sure you’re not. –Ed.), but the idea of a fire elemental that was on fire throwing fireballs and burning hands and fire and burn and hot and fire wasn’t that appealing (burn it), but I decided I’d give a sorc a spin, anyway, as part of my “one of every class” initiative. Over the years, I’ve learned one lesson: I make really, really, really crappy arcane casters. Like excruciatingly bad. Give me a divine warrior any day of the week and I’ll tear things up on the front lines, but rear-line offensive casting makes me start spouting wildman noises. Reflecting upon how Kiljoen actually made it to epic levels now just screams two things: extreme grinding and sheer tenacity. But he still looks AWESOME. (If you didn’t know, that’s pronounced “kill-yoon.”)
Khail Ironfist, Dwarf Monk (Shintao)
Long before I’d started reading The Order of Syncletica, I’d rolled up Khail. This was where my long-standing holding of Paladins as my favorite all-purpose go-to class, even back in the pen & paper days, finally hit a challenge. Here was a class that I was loving almost as much as the paladin, it was brutally effective, pretty darn self-sufficient, and (most importantly) fun to play. Sure, it took a bit of wiggling about to figure out my rhythm and the 10.2 billion possible permutations of finishing moves in combat, but once I did, it was an absolute blast. And looking like a Jedi monk didn’t hurt, either, especially with the absurd move speeds and jumping ability. (There’s something altogether exhilirating about going from Wheloon Docks to Eveningstar Cavern without ever landing on the ground.) His experiences directly fed into two other characters – Bholgrin and Whong – both of whom fed into Tubbho’s builds. Sadly, he’s been gathering dust for a long time.
Loghainn Goldstrum, Dwarf Bard
I’ve had a long-standing love/hate relationship with Loghainn. Note that this is not against the bard class as a whole, but simply my bard, who was leveled through to Epic prior to the Swashbuckler release and subsequent revamp of the Spellsinger and Warchanter trees, so much of this pain is out-of-date. I remember first rolling him up, and looking through everything that was available, and thinking to myself: “Wow, here’s a single class that can do everything! Melee, ranged, heals, buffs, debuffs, crowd control, and some offensive casting!” Then I started playing him. And wow, yes, he could do everything, but was completely lousy at all of it. I darn near rerolled him at four and again at seven, then decided to stick it out and grind him all the way through, no matter what it took. Soloing a Spellsinger prior to the update pass was, for lack of a better term, difficult at best. (The game even warns you that their solo ability is “challenging.” At the time, it was true.) Brutal, would be a more accurate term. Around level 16, I gave up on him being a Jack of All Trades and respecced him to being pure crowd control, which, thanks to some lucky PUGs and a helpful friend or two, finally pushed him to 20. I have a lot more fun running with him since the enhancement pass reworked things – and now he’s got quite a few point-blank high-damage spell-like-abilities he can fire off which make him loads more entertaining. He’s still a back-burner toon, though, that I pull out when support is needed. As a Spellsinger, he has a fully-fledged Heal spell, and works well as a pinch-hitter when friends need some low-level Epic help. Again, this is not tearing at the bard class, just me playing my bard.. lousily.
Madfinger Runewarden, Dwarf Artificer
The name came from the concept I pulled for him, for name as well as apperance: Kang the Mad, from Jade Empire. Kang is bat-crumb crazy, hilarious, and loves making things explode and tinkering with things. The second I started reading into the Artificer class, Kang popped in my head and stayed there: thus, Madfinger was born. Together with his semi-loyal mecha-doggy Fritz (so named because the AI is always on the fritz), he was an absolute joy to play from the second I rolled him all the way to Epics – and in some small way, it fed into my Pokemon-esque collector’s glee with gathering every single rune arm Madfinger could get his stubby little mitts on. (He’s currently sitting with only Toven’s Hammer and St. Mu’Ray’s Fire missing from his collection.) I’d love to say I have something negative to say about his play history, but… well.. I don’t. Artificers are simply a blast, and I mean that literally as well as figuratively. Things have a habit of going BOOM when artis are around.
Mattock Shalefinder, Dwarf Cleric (level 15)
Yes, another dwarf! Notice a trend yet? Mattok is my long-dusty pure Radiant Servant pacifist healer, who I managed to take to fifteen with some IRL friends I was running with regularly at the time. They stopped playing, and Mattok, well, got shelved. Have you tried to solo a pacifist? It’s pretty tricky. Yes, I’m fully aware that I could turn off Pacifism, but that’s part of his flavor; plus, he was purely specced with that in mind and is lousy with melee combat, anyway. Add to the mix I merely haven’t bothered with LRing him to reallocate his points and make him more soloable since I’ve had tons of other side projects going (Orsyn, at the moment) and that’s where the chips fall. As a pure healer, he’s sheer brilliance, darn near impervious with the healing aura on and Skyvault Shield up, and can easily keep six or seven people topped up without any real stress, or a full raid group if a few of them have some patch-healing ability. So if you need a mid-level cleric, he’s usually available.
Orsyn Burr, Dwarf Paladin/Artificer (level 13)
My most recent experiment-turned-fully-fledged character, Orsyn is an absolute blast to play. As a “palificer artadin,” he’s got melee offense from Throw Your Weight Around in the dwarven tree and Hand-And-A-Half Training from Battle Engineer, along with Slayer of Evil from Knight of the Chalice and a rune arm’s imbues… oh, yes, this is absolutely delicious to play. As yet still-moderate self-healing with five bursts of Lay on Hands that hit for 75hp each and Cure Light Wounds for patches – not fully self-sufficient yet, but good enough to run off alone for moderate tasks. Bouncing between a shock/festival icy burst-ed heavy repeater of heartseeking and his dwarven axes as range requires requires some tactical thinking, but is brutally effective in conjunction with Lightning Spheres used as flash-bangs for crowd control. I don’t know if I’ll take him into Epics yet, we’ll see how he pans out later in his heroic career, but for the moment, he’s a pantload of button juggling fun.
Uldwin Skyreaver, Dwarf Druid
I love, love, LOVE the idea of shapeshifting characters. Uldwin is also one of my oldest toons – first came Tholgrin, then Mattok, followed by Felldar and Uldwin in fourth place. I had a lot of fun playing a dire bear hate-tank in Nature’s Warrior with him. No, he’s not an Elite build, certainly not Epic Elite (or even Epic Hard, for that matter), but he’s still a lot of fun to have snarling and thrashing about making bearquakes. Assisted by his ever-loyal puppy Repede (named after the mostest awesomeset-er-est digital dog/wolf in video game history, from Tales of Vesperia) and a bad case of halitosis – or that’s what my buddies called Reaving Roar, at least – Uldwin plowed his way into the Epics, but has sadly been collecting dust ever since. Other projects demanded attention!
Uldwena Skyreaver, Dwarf Barbarian
In sticking with the Primal sphere of things, Uldwena (yes, that’s Uldwin’s sister) is just as front-line as her brother and trades off her brother’s self-sufficiency in heals for pure brutality in rage. Putting the vast majority of her points in the Occult Slayer tree, she has some pretty potent defenses and DR to match her rather potent damage output. The only thing I have to say negative about a pure barbarian build, nowadays, is my own personal distaste for being completely reliant upon external sources of healing (pots, hires, party members, etc.) to stay alive; while this is only partially true in Epic levels, as Fast Healing is a Tier One ability for Fury of the Wild, I still keep her shelved to focus on other endeavors. But holy cow-sauce, can she bring some pain.
Varjek Lorebringer, Dwarf Wizard Necromancer (level 13)
Another family member of one of my other toons, Varjek (pronounced VAR-yekk) is Kiljoen’s estranged son who began dabbling in necromancy whilst his pops was off saving Eberron again. What started off as a flavor build of almost-pure Pale Master using Necromancy almost exclusively rapidly branched back into other direct-damage spells for when his ho-hum DC’s failed to be effective – and because, let’s face it, the Pale Master SLA’s kind of stink. A lot. With an extensive respec guided by my highly arcane-savvy buddy (I’m horrible at arcane casters), Varjek has moved from a dead rut (pun intended) at level 12 to finally knocking at 14’s door.. although I’m still not 100% comfortable in his ghostly shoes just yet. But you gotta love a wraith in a pimp hat. Right??
Walreign Aggron, Dwarf Ranger
Yes, he’s named after two Pokemon. No, he doesn’t have the characteristics of either. He does, however, make for a pretty potent sniper – as an Arcane Archer with a heavily modified bow and Hide/Move Silently well into the 70’s, he’s fond of disappearing in the middle of a fight. Then reappearing elsewhere with Manyshot active and quintuple-imbued arrows flying in crazy numbers to obliterate single targets or weaken the heck out of a mob before disappearing again… because if someone catches him, he’ll squeal like a Pikachu. Aside from his bow and sneaking gear, I never gave Wally the proper time to “gear up” and fine-tune him; he mostly rolled with a regular group many, many months ago (which, as far as I can tell – aside from one player that is in my guild part-time, the rest of the group don’t even play DDO any longer) and shot up to 19 at warp speed. After collecting dust for many months, I pushed him to Epic by stalking The High Road a few times, and back in the drawer he went. Playing an Arcane Archer – or “ninja Howitzer” as he’s been called – is a great way to learn about aggro management if casters aren’t your thing. Pop the wrong people too hard, and you’ll have to either run for your life (which will tick the melees off to no end) or sit tight and pray the tanks can get the aggro back before you get turned into face paste. Neither are good situations, and it takes a critical eye to learn not just to shoot a bow, but when to shoot, who to shoot, and how hard to shoot them. Repeater artis have a similar dilemma, but are far better equipped to handle the “oops”-es, what with flame turrets and blade barriers. Rangers have squirrels, and they don’t help with aggro. Lots of good lessons learned here.
Whall, Dwarf Favored Soul
So named because he’s, well, a wall, Whall was my first attempt at a pure Favored Soul, and only my second FvS ever. I had a truckload of fun playing him, even though I went Warpriest (nothing original there) and outfitted him more like a traditional sword-and-board paladin (Templar’s Bastion, Templar’s Bulwark, and Oathblade at early 20) except with a pantload of spell points and spells to fire off. One of the critical mistakes I’d learned I made partway through was that I’d focused a little too much to make any offensive spells worthwhile – a DC16 Blade Barrier is just plain pathetic and wasn’t even worth tossing SP away on. Playing him as his name suggests, however, as a front-line tank with “madd hjealz,” he shone brilliantly. I mean, so what if I turned a spellthrowing class into a divine stab-machine, as long as he was fun to play and contributed to the party, right? Right. Later tonight I might take him into Elite Kobold Assault and see if I can actually make one of them trip with Cometfall. (Yes, his DC’s are that bad.)
Whong Fei Hung, Halfling Monk/Rogue
This build was originally my “favor farming” build – you know, for those 100-favor dashes to get those last few Turbine Points you need for whatever. With Vet I status (I have Vet II, but that takes longer and is gross overkill), a halfling Hensin Mystic monk, one Acrobat’s Ring and a Staff of Nat Gann (both kept in my shared bank for exactly this purpose), he could run the 100-favor dash in just under 40 minutes. I loved the build so much, I had to see just how he’d work as a “real” toon, and thus, Whong was born. (He’s named after Wong Fei-Hung, the Chinese physician, martial artist, and folk hero who was a master of many martial arts styles, including his beloved staff.) I kept Halfling for the speed bonus and dragonmark heals, which he desperately needed to keep up with the absurd damage output he can crank, as defensively, he’s quite squishy. Around level 13, I splashed in a few Thief/Acrobat levels, because he wasn’t doing enough staff damage already (#sarcasm), but couldn’t keep up with the skill point backlog for trapping, which made some groupings awkward. Sadly, his squishiness seems to have caught up to him in Epic levels, and he’s been mostly gathering dust since hitting the big two-oh.