When I first started playing, I found myself assuming that anything that came from a raid, I would never be able to get, since most of my play time then was solo. Then, I learned you could grind the piss out of Epic Devil Assault and score every ingredient needed for Green Steel crafting, and I rejoiced. Granted, it was by no means anything remotely close to efficient, but it was solid XP, a great source of Tokens of the Twelve, and progression towards Green Steel crafting was brilliant.
I nearly screamed for joy when I finished any Green Steel project, long before ever once setting foot in The Shroud.
I learned that you couldn’t equip more than one Green Steel accessory (i.e. non-weapon) at a time, due to the Taint of Shavarath. Then I learned about the Essence of Cleansing, which would allow you to bypass the Taint (immature lulz) and do exactly that.. which, of course, required twenty full runs of The Shroud to get.
Once again, something I marked off as I would never do; after all, twenty runs of The Shroud, without Raid Bypass Timers, would mean that I would have to run it once, every three days, for a period of two months, on the same life. That wasn’t going to happen. Sure, I could keep Uncle Tubbs in Epic and ER repeatedly – which is what he’s been doing – and rack them up, that way, but I still doubted that I would ever chalk up enough completions before TRing at some point in the equation. Especially now that good ol’ Uncle Tubbs is less than a million XP away from Epic Completionist, and starting a career as a Morninglord variant.
You see, as of last weekend, I was still very much a “Shroud newbie.” Sure, I knew what to do from reading the wiki, and had soloed Phase One enough to ransack the chest more than once for small ingredients and Shards of Power. But when it came to the finer points of running the later phases.. yeah, not so much. And sure, I’d run it a couple of times with other toons – Fei-Hung the Shuricannon and Loghainn the Bard – but both times I was a little late to the party and spent more time trailing behind everybody than actually being useful. The only part they helped with was during “beat Harry’s face in,” which doesn’t have a whole lot of intricacies.
That was, until super-ultra late Friday night (more accurately, Saturday morning) when I stumbled across a PUG for The Shroud. Now, at this point, I was just idly playing a fancy and hoping more for the experience of actually running it for once, rather than any intent to chalk up a bunch of completions.
Until I got inside, and the raid leader mentioned that they, too, had a core group of four or five individuals who had the express intent of scoring an Essence of Cleansing before Sunday.
What sayeth you, I says? Could this be anything less than kismet, providing me with an opportunity to earn an Essence of Cleansing and don the Green Steel belt to provide Uncle Tubbs with Con-Op and Greater Regeneration (because he doesn’t regenerate enough already, obviously, DUH, get with the program) mere days before he steps back into his Heroic career at precisely the level to wear it?
So of course, I dig into my meager stash of Raid Bypass Timers. I allow myself to mooch one off of one of the raid members. Then, after thirteen completions, the fever has bitten – I cannot, will not, allow this opportunity to pass by without a fight. I log on to the DDO Store and fork over enough TP for seven more timers.
Not all of them were clean runs; at first, the group is left open between runs to allow for new members to join and some players were switching toons every run to score completions/shards/whatever from The Shroud. Most of us are super-generous with putting shards up for roll that we don’t need – after all, by the time we’ve hit 20 completions, we’ll be practically giving them away. And we are. After we rounded the bend of twelve completions, that practice was abandoned, and we just plowed ahead, short-manned, fixated on the eventual goal.
There were a couple of d-bags that joined in early on, a couple of bruised egos due to miscommunications or miscalculations brought on by fatigue. A couple of screw-ups by myself, overly tired and making the mistake that “if the barrier is down in Phase Three, the puzzle must be solved” and prematurely watering the fountain. Oops. Luckily, that only happened twice (double ouch) before I started double- and triple-checking the puzzle before watering any of them. And Tubbs was fast at distributing water; towards the end, he was getting freed from the more complex puzzles specifically to go run water and get the phase done before the Rainbow Wall of Screw Your Life showed up.
One run, he nearly faceplanted straight into that damnable Rainbow Wall when turning a corner. That was almost awkward.
As to be expected, there were a handful of moments where tempers flared. They were brief, however, as every one of the core members had one goal in mind, and knew that snapping on a hissy-fit wouldn’t solve anything – usually, the snap was apologized for and laughed off. Most of the time.
And poor Harry – he never had a chance. Not a one. Only two of the runs did Harry ever last more than one round in Phase Four; the rest of the time, he was beaten down so rapidly it was comical. Twice. Twice each run, Harry felt the sting of our, well, our stings. Or something.
I can’t personally speak on behalf of any of the other folks I was running with, but by the time that Essence of Cleansing showed up, it was the most beautiful thing I had laid my then-bleeding eyes on in the past twenty-four hours.
It was done. Twenty Shroud runs in twenty-four hours. Truly, a marathon of endurance for one’s sanity as well as fingers. Luckily, that’s precisely what Uncle Tubbs is built for.
I couldn’t have done it without several members of The High Council guild (and their patience and good humor), and there were some other guilds I forget – forgive me! Extra-special shout outs to Baal, Warlockx, Salutations, Cilance-1, and Corena, who were there for nearly every (or was it every?) run. And there were a few others who were with us for several runs, but whose names are escaping me due to either fatigue, beer, or both. If I’ve omitted you, I apologize, it was not intentional! Leave me a note in the comments and I’ll be more than happy to update the post and include you. And if you don’t want your name posted, know that I still appreciated the contributions you made! (Well, except for that one jerkwad, but he/she shall remain nameless.)
And that’s that – I can no longer complain about being a “Shroud Virgin.” After that blitz, I won’t claim I’m a pro, but at least a low-tier veteran.
One more thing to mark off the list of “I’ll Never Accomplish That.” Tubbs’ rap sheet as a Never-Killer is growing. Bring it on.