As one with a severe case of alt-itis, I often find myself switching to toons I haven’t played in quite a long time. Back when I was freely bouncing between them frequently and not caring a whim about my performance, the little inconsistencies between each toon’s loadout didn’t bother me; as a more seasoned player, they drive me berserk to the point I won’t even play with the toon until he (or she) meets what I have since dubbed “Minimum Acceptable Standards.”
Now, before you get into a ruckus or all riled up and assume I’m calling your build something, keep in mind that what I’m referring to are what I believe to be universal standards as apply to all of my toons. Every single one of them. I’m not applying them to you or your toons, although they may serve as a guideline for some less-experienced players who are wondering “what the hell do I need to keep and/or get?” when looking at the mind-boggling array of items available in the game. While the “Big Four” (blindness, curse, resto, disease) may be second-nature to more veteran players, I recall from personal experience when that wasn’t the case for myself, back when I first started.
So, without further ado, I present to you Tholgrin’s Guide to Minimum Acceptable Standards, in no particular order – since they all have to be met, anyway! And keep in mind, when reading this, that these are what I consider to be ”universal,” in the sense that I believe every toon should have these resources available, regardless of class, build, or race, and not a checklist to make an “uber” toon.
- Some form of self-healing, however rudimentary. Whether it’s natively-cast spells, scrolled with UMD, chugged from potions, or some other means, literally every character needs to restore hit points in some fashion or another. Ideally, it is combat-capable – and by that, I mean something that can be pulled off in the middle of a right-proper fuster of clucks. However, that’s not always the case, but downing half-a-dozen Cure Serious Wounds pots is better than absolutely nothing, if that’s your only option. Higher level toons may consider stocking up on Silver Flame pots – while they’re not ideal, thanks to the “side effects” (-50% move speed, -10 all ability scores, -4 saves for 30 seconds), it’s more efficient than lugging about thousands of smaller potions. Of course, potions are a last resort, but again, these are “minimum” acceptable standards, not ideal!
- A Remove Blindness solution. Most commonly achieved with the cheap and readily available Potion of Remove Blindness sold by the adorable Guild Potion vendor in House K, it can also be achieved through Blindness Ward effects (at low or very high levels) or cast natively by a number of divine classes. Green Steel clickies with Panacea also work, however, the limited number of charges make this a “less than ideal” solution, particularly in drow-heavy areas (they do seem to love their blindness, don’t they?). However, it’s still better than nothing. If you happen to not be in a guild, you can pick these up from Feather’s Fall Apothecary in House J, or the Potion Vendor under the red tent in the Marketplace. Also found in the Portable Hole and other vendors. Divines can cast this natively, and Shintao monks also have this as one of their toggles for Healing Ki.
- A Remove Curse solution. Also easily acquired via the Guild Potion Vendor in House K (as are all the “Big Four”), Remove Curse is absolutely critical in certain areas, at least, if you want to have any real chance of survival. Notable areas include The Haunted Library, most of the Demon Sands of Menechtarun, and walking into Caught in the Web without a huge stack of them is a recipe for being turned into drider facepaste. While divines can cast this natively, it should be noted that just because a character has a healing spell does not mean they can remove curses. Druids, for example, can heal and remove disease, but must find some other means of curse removal, while Bards are the opposite. Shintao monks have access to this as a toggle for their Healing Ki, as they do for all of the “Big Four.” If you only get one or two Healing Ki toggles, it’s a hard toss up between Remove Curse and Lesser Restoration; resto is more widely valued, but when you need a curse removed, it is 100% invaluable. If you don’t have access to the guild potion vendor, you can pick them up at the vendor in the Marketplace, or also in Feather’s Fall Apothecary in House J.
- A Restoration solution (multiple tiers). Lesser Restoration potions, like the rest of the “Big Four,,” are readily available from the House K guild potion vendor. If you don’t have access to him yet, for whatever reason, you can also find them at the Potion Vendor under the red tent in the Marketplace. Plain Restoration potions exist, but are extremely rare in lootgen; savor these, as they also restore one Negative Level each chug in addition to more ability score damage than the Lesser version (duh). Greater Restoration cures all negative levels and all stat damage, but (to my knowledge) does not exist in any form of potion format. It can, however, be scrolled (Guild Divine Scroll vendor in House K, or House of Wizardry in House J) if you can summon up the 44 UMD difficulty. Shintao monks, once again, have Lesser Restoration available as a toggle from their Healing Ki finisher, Clerics in the Warpriest line can score an area Lesser Restoration with the Ameliorating Strike enhancement, and most Divine casters (including Druids, this time) can mimic most of the effect via the Heal or Regenerate spells – sans negative levels, of course. For those with some Medium Eberron Dragonshards to spare, one can also acquire a Shard Trinket of Greater Restoration from Clarice Roden in the Marketplace, which has 20 charges of Greater Restoration and no minimum level.
- A Remove Disease solution. Diseases may not seem like a scary thing to many young adventurers. That is, until they watch in horror as that one failed roll rapidly turns into two, and then the debilitation escalates into crippling, character-destroying effect if left unchecked. Many veteran toons have the saving throws necessary to avoid much of the effects of disease, but it is not always something you want to leave to chance – especially on a young toon’s life or when venturing into mummy territory, where Pernicious/Virulent Mummy Rot can really mess with your hair day. Readily available from the Guild Potion Vendor in House K (notice he’s “the place” to go for the Big Four?), as well as the potion vendor in the Marketplace and Feather’s Fall Apothecary in House J. Divine casters can cast the spell natively – although Bards cannot, even though they can Remove Curse. Once again, Shintao Monks have this available as one of their Healing Ki toggles, and many classes become immune to “natural” disease – although most of the nastier afflictions you’ll come across will be magical in nature, and this is not entirely something you want to rely upon.
- Deathblock (after level 7). At low levels, instant-death effects aren’t very common, so this isn’t something of concern to most young toons. After approximately character level 7, however – the exact point also depends upon what content you are running – you should have a Deathblock effect on or available at all times. Readily available from lootgen items, as well as many named items (Bloodplate Armor is a wonderful solution for heavies, for example, able to tie in Deathblock and Fortification via a Blue Augment Slot), it should not be difficult to acquire, but is dang-near required for survival, particularly in beholder- or caster-heavy areas.
- Fortification (100% by level 8). Ideally, you’ll start seeking Fortification immediately, but the ones available below level 8 are… less than ideal. Still, 75% is better than 0%, given the option, but the earliest level you can reliably get 100% fortification is level 8. For those at home wondering “what’s fortification,” you’re probably also wondering why your characters seem to suddenly get wrecked by absolutely massive hits completely out of the blue. Those are enemy critical hits, and they are just as shredding to player characters as ours are to hostile mobs. Some ranged and casters can get away without having a whole lot of fortification, but as a front-liner, it’s bloody mandatory for survival. Unless you like the level 2 ogre Bloodknuckles hitting you for 184 bludgeoning damage in a single swing, that is. In Epic levels, some mobs have Fortification Bypass, and some Heroic champs do, as well; as such, going over 100% is not “wasted effort.” If you don’t have Fortification on your melee toon, trust me and put it on – you will see an instant reduction in the time spent as a swirling rock.
- Stuff Bags. While it probably seems so second-nature to veteran players, getting your threebies of bags as soon as humanly possible is definitely a minimum. Otherwise, these “baggable” items will bloat your inventory and make adventuring quite a bit more annoying than it really needs to be; set the bags to auto-gather and breathe a sigh of relief. You can acquire the following bags for free on all toons with no access restrictions (yes, there are more available, but these are free):
o Small Gem Bag from Fitzpat the Fence (Harbor)
o Small Collectibles Bag from Baudry Cartamon (Harbor)
o Tiny Ingredients Bag from Felix d’Cannith (Harbor), Maker (Cannith Crafting Hall), or Vertigo (Marketplace)
o Small Ingredients Bag from Jeanselme Brutecius (Tower of the Twelve); note he will try and give you one at 40 Favor for The Twelve, so if you want a second, leave the first in your bank, as they’re exclusive.
- A Fire Resistance solution. Be it an item with a permanent enchantment, an augment, spell, or potions, Fire is the one element that you will come across almost universally in your travels. Of course, there are situations where other elements come up in abundance (except perhaps Sonic), but virtually every hostile arcane and divine will cast some form of Fire-based spell at you, lava exists with alarming frequency (if one were to apply real physics, that is), and fire traps or exploding barrels are bloody everywhere. If you only have one Elemental Resistance solution for all time, it should be fire, and should be in such abundance as to either be permanent (item) or in quantities where it might as well be permanent (stacks of 100 Fire Resistance potions). My personal preference is an item for Fire, and the remainder can be done however needs-be; but Fire is one that is, in my experience, a non-negotiable for every toon, front-line or not, and at every level. The good news is that they’re readily available and relatively easy to craft, even at moderate to low crafting levels. Obviously, just one resist isn’t going to cover every base, and while you’re out stocking up on Fire resist pots, you might as well grab Cold, Acid, and Electricity while you’re at it, unless you can cast the spell natively… but get Fire as an absolute minimum.
It should also be noted that there are wands readily available for “The Big Four.” These, while somewhat more restrictive in use than potions, have the distinct advantage of being able to be used on other players. (Several of the potion descriptions state they have a “funnel” and can be used on other players, but the actual execution of such a feat is… unreliable, at best.) If you can use wands, they are notably cheaper than an equivalent stack of potions, if platinum is actually of concern in your budget. On the other hand, wands also have the nasty tendency to break in combat, and require the user to switch weapons to the wand and then back to the weapon to use – which can be rather annoying in a heated battle. The same goes for Cure Wands.. and don’t get me started on the Eternal Wand of Cure Minor Wounds (a.k.a. “the annoying thwip-stick”).
What follows are a few optional, but most definitely desired, things to have checked off. They aren’t considered to be “minimum” standards, however, but if you can mark these as done, they will most certainly pay off in the long run.
- Death Ward (after level 7). Not to be confused with its cousin Deathblock, above, Death Ward serves a different purpose. Yes, Death Ward prevents instant death effects like its cousin, but it also prevents 100% of Negative Energy damage (Necrotic Ray, Cause Wounds, Harm, etc.) and makes the recipient immune to Negative Levels by the same regard. Anyone who has watched their awesome toon get neg-leveled into oblivion knows full well the difference between a Death Ward clicky (Visor of the Flesh Render Guards, Eternal Flask of Death Ward) or spell being the difference between having your character (and blue bar) minced to pieces and waltzing away carelessly. If you have the faction coms to spare for the Clerics of Eveningstar, you can trade one com in for an unbound Potion of Death Ward. Not a bad exchange for toons whose coms are otherwise gathering dust.
- An XP Booster (multiple items). Almost every veteran character has at least one of these items available, somewhere. The entire group of these are casually referred to in PUGs as a “Voice,” the statement of which acts as a reminder to put one’s XP booster item on before the completion of the quest – that stacking 5% adds up over time! There are several different versions, as outlined below:
o Voice of the Master – Delera’s Tomb
o Mantle of the Worldhspaer – Ruins of Threnal
o Pale Green Ioun Stone – Shadow of a Doubt
o The Master’s Gift – made from a Voice, a Mantle, and 5 Greater Tokens of the Twelve
- A Raise Dead solution. While some put this in their “minimum” acceptable standards, I file it away as optional, mostly since some builds (i.e. pure fighter or barbarian) probably won’t have the snuff to reliably make it happen. There are scrolls available for Raise Dead, Resurrection, and True Resurrection from the Guild Divine Scroll Vendor in House K, as well as Raise Dead scrolls being found in the House of Wizardry in House J, all starting at 36 UMD difficulty and going up from there. You can craft Green Steel triple positive items with a single shot of Raise Dead as a clicky, and the unbound and not exclusive (!!) Ring of the Ancestors, which can be farmed from the Slavers of the Shrieking Mines quest in the Restless Isles. The Ring requires a Good alignment, however, and also only comes with one charge per rest – as such, I wouldn’t refer to them as “solutions,” but rather, “better than the alternative.” The same goes with the elven divine racial Undying Call ability, which allows a 6th level elven divine to resurrect an ally, albeit with a pretty brutal cooldown.
Well, there you have it! A little (srsly? Little? –Ed.) list of the things which I consider to be mandatory across every toon, and must-haves where available for the majority of the rest. I should point out that this has no relation to the items which are on my “Checklist” of things I want to get my army of characters for 2016 – that’s tracked in a spreadsheet and something entirely different!