Well, it had to happen eventually. As the title might suggest, Sporkface passed away last night.
Sporkface Botulism – yes, the name is (was) intentionally whimsical – was the soft perma-death toon I rolled up to partner with my TR buddy’s PD toon as a break from the more “serious” toons we run with.
Freshly levelled up to six, we tackled Tangleroot on Elite. Outside of a couple of minor hiccups (and one more guild name change), it went quite smoothly, and served to further cement an epiphany that had been bubbling up in the back of my brain ever since I wrote up the introduction for Walreign, my ranger, on the Introductions post.
Perhaps it’s not that you make crappy arcanes, but that you play them badly, by not letting the aggro get firmly established before unleashing hellfire and brimstone upon them.
Because Sporkface, as a fire savant (I’m not a pyro!), can certainly rain down some hellfire. In Tangleroot there were several Scorch SLA crits that topped 300 points of damage and left nothing but sizzling ash in their wake.
It was an eye-opening experience for both of us, as the realization seemed to happen at the same time; in almost every other pairing we have, he’s the arcane cannon to my divine heal-tank. At one point, we were both stumbling over each others’ push-to-talk to express our individual AHA! moments (paraphrased below for brevity):
(TR Buddy): I figured it out! I just pretend the mob is a mosh pit at a Slipknot concert and hit everyone!
(Me): I think I got it, too! I have to wait until you’ve got them all mad at you before lighting everything to cinders!
(TR Buddy): Well, yeah, duh. Why do you think I don’t open fire right away when Tubbho* charges in?
(Me): [feeling dumb] Seems pretty obvious, now. So why were you hiding behind the spellthrower, O Mighty Toaster?
(TR Buddy): Because I play casters.. and charging into a mob as a caster and whacking them is suicide. Seems kind of silly, now.
(Me): And to think you used to call my monk crack-headed.
(TR Buddy): Oh, he is. But he’s a functioning crack-head.
* Tubbho is my “secondary main” Shintao monk/cleric/(whatever) hybrid.
The amusing part of that “epiphany” is that it is exactly the same problem I was having with my ranger. It always felt “wrong,” like I wasn’t pulling my own weight, if I waited around while the melees were doing all the work. As it turns out, the same tactic that works for rangers applies directly to spellthrowers. Once that little seed got planted, we, as a team, started seriously cranking out some pain. The word “surgical” was used several times to describe how mobs were getting dispatched.
But, as the title of the post suggests – the night didn’t end that way. After our successes in Tangleroot (both of us under-geared at level 6 in level 9 elites), we decided to be crazy and see what the highest-level quest we could complete on Casual was. Our first choice was Diplomatic Impunity (12).. denied. She wouldn’t talk to us. Then we stepped down to And The Dead Shall Rise… (11) again, denied. Finally, out of frustration, we decided we’d just do The Haunted Library (8) on Normal, instead. After all, it’s on Normal, right? How hard can it be?
You hear that laughter? Yeah, that’s the regular arcane players cracking up at my terrible, terrible decision.
Remember, I primarily play monks and paladins. Two classes which laugh in the face of the undead while posing for a Dr. Pepper promo shot. Prior to Sporkface, I had two (2) arcane casters that made it past level 4… Varjek, the Pale Master who is struggling to 14, and Kiljoen, my first fire savant that hasn’t seen regular play since the before the release Return to Gianthold. Little things like “immunities” aren’t at the forefront of my mind as far as who is immune to what; on a primary melee build, when that word Immune starts popping over enemy heads, my first thought is “hey, that’s mildly inconvenient. I might consider changing weapons if it becomes a problem.” It does not, however, register in my brain as something I need to prepare for in advance of a quest. My melees just don’t think like that, aside from the super-obvious such as grabbing a frost weapon before walking into Taming the Flames because that’s absurdly stacked in one direction.
The ultimate fail in the decision to go into The Haunted Library is that the majority of the enemies are Blackbones.
Blackbones are immune to frost. They are also immune to fire. Yes, I’ll let that implication sink in. A fire savant that is all specced out to be a walking dispenser of unending napalm death voluntarily walked into a quest where she was functionally useless. Sure, she could incinerate the wights and ghasts and dread zombies, but the legions of Blackbone warriors and archers – and worse, the Arcane Blackbones – were laughing in her face.
What made matters worse is the final chamber, where things can go pear-shaped very rapidly, and it may or may not have slipped my mind to tell my TR Buddy – who is not a melee-centric player – that charging into that room is suicide. I’d love to blame it on the (very) late hour, but it didn’t even click that he’s an arcane in a tank role and – as a fish out of water like myself – doesn’t know the “pitfall zones” of the other side of the tracks. It wasn’t until he was halfway into the chamber, swinging his greatsword with full intent to decapitate some corpses, that my eyes widened and the words “Oh My God NO!!!” came from my lips.
Needless to say, instant soul stone. In the center of the room. Surrounded by no less than thirteen visible* enemies.
The minor saving grace was that they hadn’t seen me, yet, so I ran back and made sure the shrine was open. Wiped my hands off and made sure my /gogglesup was on. (Hey, the toon is female, she’s allowed to be concerned with how she looks before she dies.)
Okay, she can do this. Run in, grab the stone, and haul tail back to the shrine. We can bunker down at the shrine if need be and go Thermopylae on this mess if we have to. Or at least, that was the idea. It got as far as “run into the room” when the other twenty-some-odd Blackbones came out of stealth and looked at me like a rack of ribs. I made it to the soul stone, but couldn’t pick it up fast enough – the Target Nearest Usable Item command kept deciding that what I really wanted was a patch of fungus on the wall, and I couldn’t get a clear target on the stone manually with the mouse through the mob. Sporkface crumpled like cotton candy in the microwave.
(Pro-Tip: Don’t ever melt cotton candy in the microwave. It makes a mess that’s darn-near impossible to clean up. Kind of like wiping a perma-death party.)
After trying for several minutes to make it to the shrine, we resigned ourselves to our deaths and released. I gave Sporkface’s remaining 3,400-ish plat to some random low-level Adventurer build player before putting her cosmetic back in the bank (hey, I’m not deleting that), logged out, and clicked Delete.
Now I’m down to nineteen toons. But I feel great about what I learned. Maybe I don’t build sucky arcanes, I just play(ed?) them badly. Alas, the mighty Orien guild Las Camisas Rojas – “The Red Shirts” – no longer exists. To think it had made it all the way to level two!