Death to the Hiatus

Hello, there, interwebz!

It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted anything at all on this blog.  Even longer if one were to count actual content that wasn’t a half-doped ramble about medical things, or just a bunch of pictures.  Rejoice, for I have returned!

Well, sort of.  I never left, in the first place, unless you’re counting – oh, sod it, you know what I meant.

Things have been quite blended as of late.  I had a crazy idea (isn’t this where everyone rolls there eyes and anticipates things going badly? –Ed.) to have my pure-fighter get a Cleric past life for the explicit purpose of being able to take the Healing Word past life feat.  So Gorruk Boulderbreaker ER/TR’ed into a Cleric.  With six levels of Fighter for some added punch.  No, he wasn’t an end-game optimized build, but it was fun nonetheless and he made it to 20 without any major problems.  Other than me being overly eager to be completed with the life, that is.

A few moments later, and he was reborn back into his pure Fighter Kensei (with a touch of Stalwart Defender) role and proceeded to lay waste.  Provided, that is, he was within arms’ reach of a healer – the Healing Word and Past Life: Fast Healing perks helped, but in no way did they cover the kind of damage he was taking, even with Devotion and Healing Amplification.  Ahh, well.  He’s finally mallet-ed his way back to Epics, or at least, the gateway thereof, and has equipped his Epic Fury of the Flame slotted with a Ruby of the Vampire Slayer.  Currently, his DPS is off-the-charts crazy, particularly with the pass to Kensei enhancements that happened partway through his Heroic career;  at twenty, with only limited selections for Twists of Fate (primarily from Fury of the Wild and Legendary Dreadnaught, but that’s about it) his regular, unboosted swings are hitting for 220-260 base weapon damage.  Which, for a fresh twenty, is bloody nuts.  Deadly Strikes clock in around 1,800 and Adrenalized shots clock in the five digits.  At twenty.  I can’t wait to see what sort of chaos he gets into with a T-forged Maul.

I still need to figure something out for his self-healing, though.  Bottled Silver Flame pots are quite annoying, and only stack up to 10.  Fmeh.

Folks who follow me on Twitter (@TholgrinDDO) – and regular readers of the blog – may recall my rather whimsical entry into the Deep Gnome community with an alarmingly serious toon by the name of Smishy the Unfluffed, dual-wielder of the Unepic Brooms of Justice to sweep away evil.  His intent was to be a radiant Divine Disciple and go crazy with the light damage, and that was tolerable until he made his way into Epics… at which point playing him made me want to claw my eyeballs out and drink shots of bleach.

ScreenShot01328

Smishy the Unfluffed, dual wielding his Unepic Brooms of Justice.  This was while he was still a Cleric.

I tried.  I honestly did.  I gave him more than his fair share, getting to twenty – he had his highs and lows – and then, when we got into Epics, I told myself that I would tough it out until he finished Exalted Angel.  But when the party chat log looks like this:

[Party] Your party member, Smishy, has died.

[Party] Your party member, Smishy, has died.

[Party] Your party member, Smishy, has died.

[Party] Your party member, Smishy, has died.

[Party] Your party member, Smishy, has died.

..and I got so flustered with it that I started copying the combat log for everything that killed the Smishmeister into his bio.  Some of the lines were quite funny, particularly when the entry was obviously incomplete.

[Combat] You were killed by .

Yup.  I was killed by space.  In a fantasy game, the cold, hard vacuum of space is still inescapable.  Granted, that’s a completely different kind of space, but hush it.

I finally threw in the towel when +20 Hearts of Wood went on sale, and turned him into a druid.  Because that’s totally a logical thing to do.  In fact, it’s the first (and only) time I’ve used a +20 with the explicit intent to repurpose a character from one direction to another.  I’m enjoying him infinitely more as a druid caster, and he’s been on the front lines in quite a few Epic Elites, makin’ a mess with the trademark druid AOE DOTs that just wreck shop on everything.

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Smishy Remixed, makin’ a mess in the Demonweb.

Wait, what?  I just implied that I’m “enjoying” a caster?  Yes, ladies and gents, you read that properly.  Good ol’ me, after all these years (all three of them.  –Ed.), has finally found a caster that I actually like.  And I’m not counting warlocks as casters.  Because they aren’t, at least, not in the traditional ‘blue-bar reliant’ sense.

A while ago, I ER’ed Uldwin Skyreaver, my original Dire Bear Hate Tank, just to get him his wings.  And because I’d been musing over why it is that I wasn’t playing more druids;  after all, they’ve got all the right notes for my playstyle, don’t they?  Divine casting, some of the best (if not the best) self-heals in the game – once you get the hang of how “HOTs” (healing over time) work, that is – more DOTs than you can shake a stick at, burst damage, able to front-line if need be with melee – why wasn’t I playing more of them?

Of course, the Dire Bear Hate Tank worked beautifully for his intent, but was simply too slow to solo with – at least, with my sanity intact.  So I started puttering around with some ideas, and came up with a “wish list” of things I wanted Uldwin 2.0 to do:

  •         I wanted him to use a khopesh
  •         Definitely wanted a shield for defense
  •         Spells had to have punch, but also able to scrap while the DOTs were working
  •         I wanted him to not “look” like a druid
  •         Most Importantly, must not be crippled when out of “blue joose”
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Uldwin Skyreaver 2.0, the Radioactive Druid.  Looking nothing at all like a druid.. because, reasons.

After some hemming and hawing, and some modifications to the point allocations to fine tune things while grabbing an Epic Elemental Khopesh of Water to start off the career with, I wound up with what would be the basis for what I dubbed the “Radioactive Druid.”

Inspired by Gingerspyce’s druid build I found on the forums, but with a few tweaks here and there – notably, Ginger’s druid gathers large groups of enemies, casts a load of spells, and then chills while the spells work, whilst I do the same thing except get down and bloody and hack and cleave and shield bash their half-conscious faces in.  Granted, Ginger’s spells are doing more damage, and that’s perfectly acceptable (and more desirable for the min/max players), I tend to prefer a more…. hands-on approach to combat.   The final result being a hybrid melee-caster with self-heals, AOE DOTs, crowd control in the form of Earthquake, and one hell of a damage aura.  While slitting your throat and knocking the head off with his shield afterwards.

Needless to say, Uldwin streaked to 30 and frontlined more than his fair share of EEs with (at the time) some pretty whack equipment.  Riding that particular high was what led me to repurpose Smishy into a a druid as well – but a “pure caster” version, much closer to Ginger’s posted build.  I’ll post a link to it around here somewhere.  How about here.  Don’t let the post date fool you, it’s been updated to include content as recent as Update 30, so it’s current content in spite of being originally posted in 2013.

Now what I’m about to say is nothing negative about Ginger’s build… just that Smishy (my “tribute” of sorts) to try out his version… well, it didn’t appeal to my playstyle as much as Uldwin’s Radioactive Druid.  It all boils down to what works for each individual, and while Smishy is by no means a bad build as he stands (he’s still completely viable in EE now, in spite of having absolutely wank gear at 27), he just doesn’t fit with me quite the same way.  I know exactly why I’m standing there shield blocking, but I’d much rather be extracting a weapon from a drow’s spleen while Creeping Cold crystallizes him from inside than staring over the top of my shield while the same Creeping Cold et cetera, et cetera.  It just feels more active, that’s all.

But, the fact remains, I’d still play Smishy the Unfluffed Caster Druid again over any wizard or sorcerer  build I’ve come across.  Given the choice of being a caster class, I’ll pick Druid again in a heartbeat.

Bit of a shock, eh?  Trust me, I don’t think anyone’s mind was more blown than my own.  Except Wreist’s.  We had a complete role-reversal with him playing the melee (he’s normally a caster) and me playing the caster (who’s almost always the front-liner) and that was pretty trippy.

One silver lining of not feeling particularly well is that becomes a perfect time for mindless grinding.  In the past few months, in addition to grinding up Uncle Tubbs’ crafting levels to 150 across the board (woot woot!), I’ve made some pretty significant progress on what I’ve dubbed my “Checklist.”

I introduced it, briefly, in a previous post;  here’s a little more detail about what I wanted to accomplish.

The Checklist

Folks who know me also know that I am absolutely abhorrent when it comes to preparing a character to TR.  My typical TR cycle looks like the following:

  •         11:04pm – Ooh, hey, I should turn Orsyn the Original Palificer who gets no play time any more into a Rogue Mechanic, since he’s got crossbows and tools and Felldar the Palificer 2.0 is totally destroying him!
  •         11:05pm – Hello, Lahar!  Here’s my 20 Tokens, may I have a Heart of Wood, please?
  •         11:09pm – D$#@ IT, JEETS!  SHUT UP WHILE I GET MY U.I. SORTED!!
  •         11:11pm – I probably should have finished that Green Steel crossbow, first.
  •         12:18pm – (acid trap hissing in background) You know, a Jack Jibbers’ Blade would’ve been nice about now..

So I started making a list of things that I wanted – outside my Minimum Acceptable Play Standards (see next post), that is – of things that I wanted a character to have before they TR’ed.  Originally, that was just Green Steel.  Then, when the Temple of Elemental Evil dropped, it expanded to include an “optional” ToEE weapon – either crafted from the mushrooms, or one of the drops (the Spinal Tap is an extremely brutal weapon at level 7, for instance).  Then that grew to include an Ioun Stone, Jack Jibbers’ blade, Mysterious Bauble (for blue-bar types), and just plain wings themselves.

I should clarify a few things for this checklist – Ioun Stones must be unsuppressed (i.e. upgraded inside The Dreaming Dark)  to qualify.  Aapex has a question mark next to his name for this one, as he’s exclusively Bladeforged Paladin at the moment, and has no intention of going back down to level five.  Felldar, on the other hand, may actually run a Heroic career as a regular warforged, although that’s not on the books at the moment.  The marker for ToEE Weapon counts for either a crafted, mushroom-based weapon, or a named item from a chest drop – and in some cases, such as Varjek’s, it counts as both, with a +3 Combustion Scorched Short Sword of Fire Lore III and a Golden Orb of Death to pack at level 7.   There has only been one exception to this rule, and that was with Tholgrin’s own greataxe affectionately named “Betty,” which is a +1 Holy Icy Burst Great Axe of Lacerating Force Damage, with a minimum level of 6 (!!) and that does absurd amounts of damage all the way through until 18.  Only Riftmaker can give Betty a run for her money in Heroics, and only situationally in DR-breaking circumstances.

Green Steel is pretty self-explanatory, and counts for either weapons or accessories.  Some of the markers for multiples count for both – for example, Bholgrin has a pair of Green Steel longswords as well as a Green Steel Shuriken, Uncle Tubbs has a pair of Cleansed Green Steel boots to match with his Green Steel belt, yadda, yadda, yadda.  No further explanation needed.

The Cursed Blade of Jack Jibbers, often referred to as simply “Jacks” or “blade,” and quite humorously referred to as “Jacking up” or “Jacking off” when in use, is one of those super-ultra-rare items which is super-ultra-useful to literally every toon ever.  Instantly placing itself on a list with the Voice of the Master in terms of universal utility, it is a complete game-changer, allowing its bearer to resurrect themselves from the dead as a wraith for one minute.  While that doesn’t sound like much, a minute is usually all that is needed to toss a few raises, grab stones and run to a shrine, or otherwise turn a TPK event around.  The best part?  It’s reusable, once every fifteen minutes (and a rest at a shrine, but you were probably going to do that anyway, if the feces collided with the air circulator hard enough to require its use in the first place).

Finally, the Mysterious Bauble is an item desired by pretty much every toon with a blue bar.  Similar in effect to the Epic Ring of Spell Storing, but significantly easier to acquire (and at two levels lower), it provides a rechargable jolt of Major Mnemonic Enhancement to juice your blue bar back up with anywhere from 105 to 600 SP – usually in the 300-400 range.  In a crunch, another three hundred spell points can change things mightily, without having to rely on loot “blue juice” (which can get destroyed in explosions) or DDO Store ones (which cost Turbine Points).  A free shot every rest from levels 18+ is usually more than enough to keep going under most circumstances, thereby keeping the consumption of blue juice in Epics (and the last push of Heroics) to a minimum.  Of course, like the Jack Jibbers’ blade, it’s a pretty bloody rare drop from that most-favorite of quests, The Weapons Shipment.  Plan on a few runs if you’re going to farm for it alone.

So, without further ado, here’s my current progress on what has taken the place of the 2015 Thol’s Goals list.. my aim is to have it completed by the end of 2016.

Checklist as of 05-24-2016

Checklist progress as of 05/24/2016 (before playing for the day).  Immano is excluded from many items as he is kept at 20 indefinitely, with no plans to TR.

Crazy?  Probably.  Impossible?  I don’t think so.  I’ve made some pretty good progress on it, thus far.  Extreme?  Well, that’s for you to decide.  But it certainly one-ups the list I had last year – and the result will be a veritable army of toons that are all stocked to the teeth.

So, that’s about it for things that mostly catch you, dear reader, up to where things are now.  I promise to try and not leave this space unattended for so long again in the future, but the actuality of that is a little beyond my control.  I can promise a concerted effort, however!

Happy Slaying!

 

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