I’m a big fan of unconventional ways to learn things. One thing I’ve found that helps to flesh out your knowledge – not just in DDO, but other games as well – is to try and intentionally screw something up.
And I don’t mean “man, I messed this up, but it’s still playable” screw things up. I mean, “holy cow, this is so amazingly broken, Jeets is laughing at me” level screwed up.
Of course, as the game evolves, so does the art of complete bunglery. With the new Harper tree, many of my previous go-to hosings have actually backfired, thanks to Intelligence-based fighters and barbarians suddenly being able to turn INT-to-hit and damage.
This has caused me to revisit an old hobby, and I figured what the heck – let’s make things a little more interesting, shall we? Without further ado, I present to you…
The Incompetent Veteran Challenge!
In order to qualify as an Incompetent Veteran, one must (obviously) be a Veteran 4 or Veteran 7 build. The latter will be reserved for the extremists who find completing a level 4 challenge to be “too easy.”
The purpose of an Incompetent Veteran is to be completely and utterly broken, with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. As a build-based challenge, the idea is not to “gearbreak” characters through equipment (i.e. intentionally uncentering monks or breaking druidic oaths to disable powers), but to be so horrifically bad that good gear cannot even save it. Anyone can make a halfling sorcerer with Con 6, slap ordinary plate mail on him, and go get murderized in unarmed melee combat. That’s not a challenge.
The Incompetent Veteran cannot have more than two (2) gear slots left open, one of which will almost certainly be a trinket, simply due to their general lack of availability in Korthos. A minimum effective value (not plat value) of the “veteran gear” from the minotaur at the Heart of Wind must be used, or better gear for bonus points. (Let’s be honest, that gear isn’t that great to begin with.) Ultimately, the most pathetic-est, nightmare-inducingly bad builds would have actual solid gear for their level, and still qualify for the final exam; the idea being that your soul-crushingly awful build tainted even awesome loot.
All enhancement points MUST be spent, although there is no restriction on where. This is partly where the Veteran 7 build becomes significantly more difficult, in addition to having better gear to overcome with horribleness.
The ultimate test of whether or not a toon has earned the title of Incompetent Veteran is as follows, executed with honest effort: the toon must wipe on Misery’s Peak. The key factor in this sentence is the “with honest effort” part, as most any character can AFK in the middle of a fight and get killed. No, this must be an ugly, screeching bloody mess wherein you sincerely try to scrape out a win, and manage to get carried away in the undertow of suck that is your magnificently atrocious creation. Double respect earned if the Starter Siberys Spirit Cake was consumed and TPK still came to town. And, as you might imagine by the nature of this “challenge” – extra points are awarded for wiping at the lower difficulties. Grand Mastery of Suckage is awarded with a fully-equipped Veteran 7 toon, with full level 7 gear, honestly managing to blow it – twice! – on Misery’s Peak Casual.
Don’t laugh too hard – this challenge is actually a LOT harder than it looks at first glance.
The “side rules” for this challenge are a little different than most, so I’ll outline them here:
- Twinking gear IS allowed and encouraged (better gear = more cred)
- All enhancement points MUST be spent… somewhere
- No more than TWO gear slots empty
- Use of the Starter Siberys Spirit Cake is optional for additional points
- Shared bank use IS allowed – see first bullet
- Purchase of additional healing potions is NOT required to extend the pain
- Use of a hireling is NOT required, but allowed if necessary to unlock Misery’s Peak
- Flagging quests may be played on any difficulty (truly tear-inducing builds may require Casual)
- There is no “minimum required progress” in Misery’s Peak, provided you sincerely tried.
- “Gearbreaking” is NOT allowed – the build has to suck on its own. I.E. no purposefully uncentering monks, equipping arcanes in heavy armor, violating druidic oaths, etc.
- Death from falling damage is immediately disqualified, but you’re welcome to recall, rest up, and try again. You must rest up, no re-entering with death penalties and six hit points. (Because that’s not honest effort, now, is it?)
- Cursed items are allowed, but only if the effective value is an increase; in other words, you could not replace the Engraved Band (protection +1) with a Cursed Ring of Protection +1 as the net effect is a loss, or Prot +2, as that’s still not an improvement. You could, however, replace it with a Cursed Ring of Protection +3 (the curse reduces it to +2 total value, which is then a gain over the Engraved Band’s +1).
Some of you may be wondering, ”why, on God’s green earth, would I subject myself to such torment?” The reasoning is actually quite simple. First, creating a build with absolutely no redeeming qualities is significantly more difficult than you might actually think. Sure, a lousy build is easy to make, but an utterly worthless one – the type to wipe in Misery’s Peak or struggle in Heyton’s Rest – is a lot trickier. For this part, it’s purely challenge.
The second – and more important one – is that you will likely find yourself accidentally learning about all sorts of little loopholes and perks that you may not have otherwise thought of. At one point, I thought Iron Stomach was a completely uesless dwarven racial trait; at first glance, it says simply “When you drink you gain a Remove Poison effect for two minutes.” My initial reaction to this one in particular was, “well, that’s pretty useless, since I’m in a tavern when the dwarf is drinking, anyway.” However, sink three points into it, and suddenly – every time you chug a potion (any potion!) you get Remove Poison, Remove Disease, and Heroism for two minutes. This makes any ol’ Remove Curse pot the penultimate anti-Menechtarun solution available. Not quite so useless, any more..
It’s the little things like that which serve to round out your knowledge of what’s available, and by doing it backwards – in other words, trying to mercilessly hose something beyond recovery – it becomes fun. And when it’s fun, it sticks with you far longer than just reading through a list alphabetically with no goal in mind other than reading a list of feats or enhancements. Boooooorrrinnggg!
Happy failing, everybody, and let me know your results!