So, some nasty bits with that irritating IRL Server kept me feeling like poo enough to not log on to DDO with any regularity for close to a month. That changed this week.
I’ve been playing Tholgrin, the one, the only.. my namesake (if you see “Tholgrin Stoneforge” in pretty much any online game, it’s probably me) and plowing through things with my TR Buddy, who I shall continue to nickname Socks, if only to irritate him. ^_^
Every once in a while, mostly during the “lull” period from 10-12 where the quest pickings are relatively slim – unless, that is, you’re a masochist and actually enjoy The Restless Isles – we get this bug in our minds. A slightly suicidal one, admitted, where we decide we’re going to take on the highest level quest they’ll actually let us in the door on. On Elite. With no hirelings. Just for fun.
Most of the time, we get a bunch of laughs out of it and wipe, but every now and then, we pull a victory out of thin air against completely ridiculous odds. Like when we went through the entirety of Sorrowdusk Isle on Elite at level six (really, the only problem was the traps in Quench the Flames). Most recently – and by recently, I mean this past Tuesday, we decided to get slap-happy and take on The Lords of Dust Elite.. at level twelve.
To our surprise, they actually let us in the door.
The way we saw it, there were a few sticky points where things could go wrong in this quest:
- Bastion – missing six levels’ worth of saving throws could make his Improved Trip exceedingly deadly
- The trapped stairs at the end of Part One
- Tahmael and her Hold Monsters (yes, she’s female)
- Karas – his Whirlwind Attack does retardankulous damage on Elite even at-level
We plowed through the first portion, mowing down cultists as we went, and since Tholgrin is a Paladin (pure, of course) he was able to purify the first two altars. Anyone with at least one feat in Religious Lore is capable of doing this; this includes the obvious Cleric and Favored Soul, as well as Paladins and (often forgotten) Bards, as well. This is, to my knowledge, one of the only points in the game where one of the “lore” feats actually does something. Better yet, purifying all three altars gives you an extra chest with a shot at Templar’s Bulwark, which is a pretty beast tower shield. Better yet, Bastion decided to stay in his kennel, removing one of our worries.
Marideth went down like a sack of grain, and we were on to the traps. Shockingly, neither of us died in them – Socks due to his Air Savant’s Wind Dance ability (if you’re unfamiliar, it’s another variant of the monk’s Abundant Step or favored soul’s Leap of Faith) which let him zip through them without much risk. Thol had to take a bit more tact and zig-zag-wobble through them; he got clipped once, but survived with a well-timed and high-powered Lay on Hands to instantly restore him from 13hp to full. (Paladins: never, ever, ever, ever, ever underestimate the usefulness of Lay on Hands. Spend the 4 points in Sacred Defender to get three extras. You’ll be glad you did.)
Part two opened with a slaughterfest. For them, not us.
Tahmael proved to be a little more irritating, but not because of mass damage from her spells – more that she kept hitting us with Hold Person and/or Hold Monster and pointing her outward-facing rakshasa fingers at us. I imagine she was also giggling a little bit. But she giggleth too much, for now she lay taking a dirt-nap underneath the purified altar – which I had to dance nekkid on top of, purely to appease the whims of whatever deity Thol happens to worship.
As we expected, Gnomon didn’t pose too much of a threat. The biggest thing with Gnomon is to hit him hard, pin him to a pillar, and make sure there’s a large safety barrier between your casters and melees. He absolutely adores to make Olympic Rings with overlapping blade barriers, and on higher difficulties, will slap several stacks of Divine Punishment on you way faster than the official cooldown of “10 seconds” says he should be able to. (As far as I can tell, Gnomon’s Divine Punishment cooldown is between three and four seconds. -Ed.) The last thing you want to do is let him run free, and then everyone has to chase that masquerading kitten through a minefield of glowing red razor blades while twitching from light-based DoTs. That’s when you need to regroup before the fight goes pear-shaped.
Karas, on the other hand, came in like a lion, first dropping Socks and then dropping me while I was raising Socks… go figure. We regrouped in the hallway, which gave us a few precious seconds to get back on track before he burst in the doorway. We were prepared for him, though, and he smack-dab into a face full of axes, lightning, bane, bleed, light, frost, and other damage sources I can’t remember. It was a rough fight, but in the end, the drow fell.
The experience boost was nice, but more important than that – at least, in my opinion – was that we pulled off a pretty slick win, vastly underleveled and vastly undermanned. Those are the ones that stick with you, not the easy victories. Plus, now we can farm the bejeebers out of it on Hard for more XP. ^_^
It always feels good to get back in the saddle again. And just in case you didn’t have the song stuck in your head already, here you go.