Author: Tholgrin

Projects

I’ve tried to write six different articles already today, and scrapped them all for some reason or another.  Whatever.  It’s Monday.  I’m allowed to be a little bit hazy.

At first, I was going to write up a “re-introduction” to the characters I’m playing, as several have evolved (in a manner of speaking) from their original iterations when I started the blog in 2014.  Also, I’d be willing to wager that the majority of the readers – all four of you! – probably haven’t gone back and read back to the second post ever, especially after being idle for over a year.  But, that was boring.  Or, I thought so, at least.

So, instead, I’m going to just ramble about some of the plans I have in the near future for several of my toons.  More to keep things straight for myself than anything else, but if it provides you with a few minutes of distraction and/or entertainment, then that’s a win for both of us.

ScreenShot01465

Adipostal (left) and Kemron, the intimi-tank of our static Reaper group and Adi’s bestamest friend for sneak attack damage.

Adipostal  (formerly Immano of Llawriennal)

Level/Race/Class:  8 Halfling Rogue

Weapon of Choice:  Great Crossbows

Song Stuck In His Head:  “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult 

In a former life, Adi was an elf cleric/monk whose job was to stay at 20 and help other toons on that “final push” to 20.  Which was a noble thing, or, at least the idea of it was.  Except that he was barely ever used.  So when a few friends decided to try a static Reaper-only group, with dedicated characters and party roles, he was the first to get “volunteered.”  Nothing particularly special about the build – it’s an Intelligence-based Rogue Mechanic with the Dragonmark of Healing and Healing Words to throw around other folks in emergencies –  which has been proven before on Orsyn Burr’s rogue life and Uncle Tubbs’ rogue life.  But for this particular grouping, we actually wanted proven builds and not experiments.  His current plans are to finish out the Heroic career, provided that irritating IRL Server can stop getting in the way with our scheduled night.

ScreenShot01358

Bholgrin (right) with some folks in the Temple of the Deathwyrm

Bholgrin Stoneforge

Level/Race/Class:  30 Dwarf Paladin/Monk/Rogue

Weapons of Choice:  Dual longswords and fists

Spirit Animal:  Swiss Army knife

Currently, Bholgrin is working on fleshing out his Epic Destinies.  As of last night, he has his Divine and Martial spheres completed and has started in on Primal with Shiradi Champion.  The long term goal is to start working on his Epic Completionist status.  For the time being, that’s a very long-term goal, as there are other projects which are taking priority.

ScreenShot01494

Fyrewoman (center) finally found someone else who shares her fashion sense.

Fyrewoman, Pastor of Muppets

Level/Race/Class:  30 Halfling Monk

Weapons of Choice:  Quarterstaves and fire.  Lots and lots of fire.

Notable Quirk:  Guildless by design

Fyrewoman has what is simultaneously the easiest and hardest plan on my current to-do list.  All she is missing for the “2016 Checklist” (which has still yet to be completed halfway through 2017) is to pull a Cursed Blade of Jack Jibbers and she’s done!  Of course, as anyone who has tried to pull a Jack’s Blade – let alone twenty-one of them! – knows, they’re a pretty ephemeral thing, and can sometimes evade detection for months at a time.   As with all items from the Loot Gods, I could pull it tonight, or I could pull it sometime in October.  But that’s what she’s waiting on before reincarnating again – the long-term plan is to do the same Henshin Mystic based build again and get her three Monk past lives, all without ever using a guild ship, buffs, or amenities.

ScreenShot00912

This shot is ancient.  Apparently I haven’t actively played Kil in a lot longer than I thought.

Kiljoen Lorebringer

Level/Race/Class:  30 Dwarf Warlock (but not for long)

Weapon of Choice:  Concentrated blasts of ABBA music  (sonic damage, for those at home)

Spends Tuesday Nights:  Desperately trying to catch up on Critical Role episodes

Kiljoen started his existence as a sorcerer.  He was my first character to hit 20, at which point he hit a screeching, grinding halt.  When the Warlock class came out, I was super-excited and made two!  Kiljoen was the second, a Fey-pact Soul Eater who ran in Divine Crusader and laid waste to pretty much everything.. as warlocks are wont to do.  Nowadays, I’ve pretty much stopped using him, mostly because the “whole warlock thing” got old.  Fast.  Currently, I no longer have a Cleric in my lineup – which is making my “one of every class” compulsion cause eyeball twitching every time I think about it.  Blargh!  There it goes again!  Anyway.. one unused Warlock plus needing a Cleric results in Kiljoen getting reincarnated.  Originally, he was going to be a sword & board Warpriest – but I already have that build in the form of a Favored Soul named Whall.  One comment from a friend and a flashback to a previous life immediately swapped the build around into a 18 Cleric/2 Fighter great-axe wielding Warpriest who plans to spend the majority of his time eyehole-deep in the pit.  (That seems to be a common place for my characters… just sayin’.  –Ed.)  He’s got most of his gear ready to rock and is just waiting for some of my other projects to get some momentum before taking the plunge.

ScreenShot01542

Smishy, being photobombed by Horace the Pseudodragon.

Smishy the Unfluffed

Level/Race/Class:  16 Dragonborn Fighter

Weapon of Choice:  Khopesh and Tower Shield to the face

Favorite Food:  Tacos

Smishy has had an… interesting history.  There’s a running joke that he is cursed to be, well, smishy, regardless of whatever build and equipment he has.  A joke which he has unsuccessfully avoided on this life – while he can take physical damage like a champ, spells still tend to wreck his face.  Oh, well.  The build I came up with was what some folks would call a “long game” investment – once he hits twenty and is able to step into his Epic Destiny, it’ll be an entirely different toon – but others would say is an “ER build.”  Still others would call it “bloody stupid.”  Ah, well, I’ve never been known to make the most intelligent of decisions.  Only four more levels to go until Smishy (hopefully) becomes less smishy… and then an Epic career follows!

ScreenShot01517

Riding the Storm Out.  @DDOMicki told me to bring Energy Sheath.  I didn’t listen.  Still… five million hit points on that dragon!

Whong Fei-Hung

Level/Race/Class:  30 Halfling Monk

Weapon of Choice:  10.8 Billion Shuriken to the Faceholes

Preferred Hot Dog Toppings:  Mustard, chili, and onions

Fei-hung (named after a Chinese martial artist and philanthropist), better known amongst my group of ragtag buddies as the “mini-pimp” due to his outlandish getup, has had a wonderful run as a Shiradi Shuricannon.  So he’s staying that way.  I still need to finish some Caught in the Web runs  in order to acquire his Celestia, Brightest Star of Day for his off-hand.  He’s recently finished upgrading his Quiver of Alacrity for when he reincarnates back into Heroics – because we can’t have Fei-hung’s trademark “run faster than The Flash” compromised! – but that will come after he finishes three more Primal Epic Past Lives, so that he can toggle between Fast Healing (keeps hit point attrition down) and Multishot (for peak damage output).  So that’s at least six more lives on the books for the diminutive flinger of frenzied facepaste.

Checklist as of 06-12-2017

Items in parentheses are finished Epic/Legendary versions.

…And the Rest of the 2016 Checklist

The original plan was to have the Checklist completed by the end of 2016, as a “one-up” to the personal challenge I’d set for 2015.  Because we can’t just go on and get complacent, can we?

Of course, as folks who followed along already know, there was this nasty little bout with an IRL raid boss called “cancer” that hit me at the beginning of the year, which resulted in my near-immediate absence from the 2016 Player’s Council that I’d been quite excited to get accepted to.  Dealing with the fallout from that, the disgusting medical bills, and getting back into the work groove just left me with no time or emotional energy to invest in the Council – for which I am quite sad.  Alas, life moves on, and hopefully there isn’t any animosity from the Council. (which basically got ghosted.  Oops.)

Anyhoo, moving on.  The origins of the Checklist came about from my seemingly-complete lack of ability to prepare a character properly for a reincarnation.  As such, I developed a list of items which I wanted to have before I went back to K-town again:  an unsuppressed Ioun stone applicable to the next build, a Temple of Elemental Evil weapon (either mushroom-crafted or named), at least one piece of Green Steel, a Jack Jibbers blade, and finally a Mysterious Bauble for spell point users.  Which is quite a hefty list for a single character – so, naturally, I wanted to get all twenty-one of my characters checked off.

Because I’m insane.

I even made a nice spreadsheet to track the progress – some may have seen intermittent updates on my Twitter feed (@TholgrinDDO).  At present, it’s pretty darned close to getting finished, as you can see below.

Wow.  So, that’s, like, a lot of stuff that I want to do.  And of course, all of it wants to be done right nao, and I don’t have that kind of time.  Blech!  One of these days, I’ll get to a point where I only have one project on my books at a time.

Yeah, right.  Like that’ll happen.

Until next time, happy slaying!

 

The Worst Sorc Ever?

So, once again, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here.  Should come as a big surprise to anybody who’s followed the blog during it’s run – Yay, regularity!

What sparked this completely random post, you might ask?  Well, I received a rather subtle message from @DDOCentral over the weekend, which said, “For crying out loud, write a new post, you lazy sodding bastard!”  I’m paraphrasing.  A lot.  It actually just said “Write a new blog post for Full Moon Fury.”  Plain and simple.  Isn’t cognitive interpretation grand?

And that leads us to the here and now, with an awkward pause in the narrative while I figure out how to segue from “haven’t written anything new for over a year” to “current events in DDO and D&D life” without tripping over 525,600 minutes worth of Rent references.

First and foremost, a little teaser for a project I’ve been working on recently.  For those of you who don’t follow along with the pen & paper side of Dungeons & Dragons, Wizards of the Coast has a forum/store/thing called the DM’s Guild which allows content creators to officially publish content with limited access to licensed names and places.  I’ve been working on a slightly.. warped.. supplement with the intent of publishing it on the DM’s Guild when it’s done and making hardcover copies available through its sister site, DriveThruRPG.  Granted, that’s still a ways off – the manuscript is approximately 85% complete, but layout and lack of art is always nagging the back of my brain – so that’s what’s been taking up quite a bit of my writing time recently.

Yeah, yeah, that doesn’t account for the year beforehand, but, hush, you.  I had, uh, laundry to do.  And stuff.

ScreenShot01451

Brawnpits does not approve of your laundry task.

And now, an even more awkward transition (but lacking self-promoting teaser plug) to recent happenings in DDO.

The Worst Sorc Ever?

Folks who have been following the blog for a while know of my – how shall I put this? – gentle dislike of playing arcane characters.  Note I’m not saying arcane characters are bad, I run with some seriously amazing ones regularly, but they just don’t seem to click in my brain.  That had been bothering me for a while, and I had a Bladeforged paladin just hanging around collecting dust, so I sent him through an Iconic Reincarnation.

M. Night Shame-A-Lot Twist!  I actually prepared this one.  See, I told you it was shocking.  Even to the point I completed twenty raids to get some gear before starting a new career.  What a novel concept, eh?

Alas, I digress.  The base concept I had in my brain was simple:  Do what you do best, just with a sorcerer icon.  Which of course meant heavy armor and giant weapons.  Granted, these tend to be frowned upon by sorcerers, but, to heck with the meta, says I.  Slap that heavy armor on!  Take up a greatsword!  And take Power Attack, while you’re at it!

Wait, did he just say Power Attack?  Yes, yes I did.  And Cleave.  And Great Cleave, too!

But wait!  There’s More!™

As a Bladeforged, I gave him Adamantine Body, which is the toaster equivalent of Heavy Armor.  Slap a slew of points in the Eldritch Knight and Racial trees to reduce the Arcane Spell Failure to zero.  Now, I’m well aware my DCs will be poo – especially since I left in three Paladin levels to gain access to the Sacred Defender stance – so my spell selection reflects this, only taking spells which have no saving throw amidst a few buff and utility spells (such as Knock and Jump).

Once he got to Epics, the result was a complete sparkle-fest.  Bladeforged with Displacement, an Epic Cloak of Ice for blue-flames, Energy Sheath for an electrical aura, permanent Tenser’s on for holographic armor and tentacles, Bladeforged spikes sticking out everywhere, and a purple-and-pink greatsword which looks more like a Unicorn Frappuccino of Nightmares than a threatening weapon.  Knock him below 50% HP and he gets a short-term Eldritch globe which makes him look like an overgrown tie-dyed ping-pong ball.  All while standing in ice storms and cloudkills and acid rains and flinging procs on his sword.

ScreenShot01478

Aapex Predator in *almost* Full Sparkle Mode.  Several layers of sparkle are missing from this screencap.

And the best part – I actually enjoyed it.  Granted, he’s arguably the worst sorc ever, definitely a contender for the least-sorc-iest sorc, if nothing else.  He does, at least, have a metamagic feat (Quicken) and, um, yeah, that’s about it.  Everything else looks more like a melee build with a flaming hand for its icon.

Is this particular build optimized in any way, shape, or form?  No, not at all.  In fact, about the only thing he’s really good at is self-heals.  Repairs.  Whatever.  And sparkling.  He’s really, really good at sparkling.

But the important part, at least for me, is I had fun playing an arcane.  A class I normally cringe at the concept of going through a life of.  So much so that he’s now currently on his second playthrough of the build, where we’ve cranked the difficulty up a notch.  Turns out he’s still really good at self-heals even in Reaper mode, although that only helps so much when you forget you’re still a sorcerer, dive eyehole deep into the pit, and get rended limb from limb by half a dozen champs and a Plague Reaper who decided that self-healing really wasn’t that good of an idea.  But that’s probably the fault of the person sitting behind the keyboard.  Probably.

ScreenShot01457

And now a completely unrelated image I dub “Stoned People In Thrones.”  It’s coincidentally the name of my indie-folk-pop acoustic band.

More stuff to come.  Probably.

The Dreaming Delirium

It struck me while working on an update to Tholgrin’s (Unnecessarily Long) Guide to Adventure Packs – for me, some of the most memorable and fun environments to quest in are the ones with the “weirdest” surroundings.

ScreenShot00803

Like the Demonweb.  Or the Dreaming Dark.  Or Xoriat.

So what were to happen if, say, the Devourer of Dreams (who, as a Quori, isn’t “killed” per-se when defeated, but rather reborn within the dream realm once again) were to take up a little partnership with Belashyrra with the express intent of forming a rift within Eberron, whereby the insanity of the Plane of Madness and the terror of the Plane of Nightmares could spill in, uncontested.

And, of course, only something on the scale of a raid could contain the level of mind-bendy-ness that I’ve been envisioning.

What we would have is a multi-level, gravity-altering disasterpiece of previously unseen proportions.  Built with the general environmental effects of The Dreaming Dark with the “partially subjective” gravitational sourcing of the Demonweb, leaping off a platform to another floating chunk of icky-I-don’t-really-want-to-think-about-what-this-is-or-was Xoriat “architecture” might result in a directional rotation, whereby you are then “standing” on what was the “wall.”  So everyone else who hasn’t jumped yet is looking at you sideways.

Which will, of course, make exploring this terrain for the first time a group effort of leaps of faith and, on occasion, manually altering which direction is “down” via the use of Mystical Object Of Immense Importance To This Arc Which (Unsurprisingly) Appears Nowhere Else In The Game.

Think, if you will, H.R. Giger meets Super Mario Galaxy with a healthy dose of M.C. Escher and Labyrinth swirled in for good measure.

Not to mention the complete and utter chaos of the (envisioned) end fight – an extraplanar aberration of near-deity power, the Devourer of Madness – a multi-limbed fusion of the Devourer of Dreams’ form incorporated into the avatar of Belashyrra’s body in a horrifying mockery of Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, hereafter referred to only with the placeholder title “The Big Ugly.” Armed with the chaos of Xoriat beholders, illithids, Quori and Living Nightmares, the fight would be a tenuous balance between keeping the heat on The Big Ugly and limiting the volume of trash, all while trying to keep out of nightmare-fueled pounce attacks which leave folks in its wake suffering unblockable psionic damage and being stunned.. just before gravity flips and those stunned are unable to float to icky chunks of tenuous safety, instead plummeting into a pit of “dream spikes” until they can make their way out.

Sideways, of course.  Or, if they stay put long enough, they’ll eventually just fall out once more as the cube-shaped final chamber rolls and various permutations morph the terrain.

The only way to “destroy” The Big Ugly would be to deal enough damage to weaken it and survive while the Mystical Object of Immense Importance Etc. charges up – at which point, the party will attempt to have The Big Ugly travel through the Mystical Ring it creates, suspended in the center of the final fight chamber.  (Of course, if any of the parts of the Mystical Object are damaged too much from trash on the floating islands in the center, they’ll have to be killed and the Object Parts repaired.)  Once The Big Ugly flies/falls/is flung through the Mystical Ring, it will then split back into Belashyrra and the Devourer of Dreams, who can then be weakened and killed simultaneously.  Failure to do so will result in the one who was “downed” being reabsorbed by the other rushing over to their aid, thereby “reassembling” themselves back into The Big Ugly… and then the Mystical Object will need to be powered up again.

This is not intended to be an easy raid, but rather one which would require several people to perform multiple jobs – protect the Mystical Object parts, keep trash down, keep heat on The Big Ugly, then split into teams to work together to break the two individuals down once they’re no longer fused.   

I don’t expect to see this in game, in truth, ever.  I’ve made a half-hearted attempt at a content pitch before, and if I recall correctly, the official stance (even then) is that original player-based submissions are not being considered for  development.  But it’s still fun to think about.  ^_^

 

A New Direction for Madfinger

During the course of the weekend, a couple of fun things happened.

First and foremost, the one-and-only Uncle Tubbs, on his journey to finish Heroic Completionist, hit cap on his Deep Gnome Rogue Mechanic life.  This leaves only Ranger and Fighter left!  The plan, for the moment, at least, is to leave him at cap for raids whilst other toons go about their business.

After all, he’s got more than enough “lives” to have made it.  They just stop counting after three for each class.  Which, unfortunately, means that no less than fourteen of his monk lives don’t count.  (Yes, I did a berserk number of “pointless” lives while accompanying a friend through his Heroic Completionist journey.  And no, I didn’t have any intention of actually gathering an HC at the time.  Funny how things change..)

Might as well get the actual feat at this point, eh?

Before reaching level, I had Tubbs join in on a few raids.. and, as luck would have it, scored the Outfit of the Celestial Avenger that he was looking to wear when he went back to his “real” build.  Or, as we call it in our rag-tag circle, his “final final” life.  Which isn’t really final at all, since several of us have reincarnated our “final-final” lives on multiple occasions.  Let me figure out a way to squeeze another use of the word final into this paragraph.

Now if only I could get the Leathers of the Celestial Archer to drop for Orsyn the Rogue Mechanic.. oh, well.  Only another hundred or so Xorian Runes and he’ll be able to order one up.  Problem sorted.

While marking a few Items of Interest off, there was some other progress made on my personal Checklist for the year.  As I previously rambled about, I decided I was going to delay Bholgrin the Romunkadin’s quest for Epic Completionist (because why stop at two toons with EC’s on the account?) by one life, so that I could spend some time with my artificer.

And I did.  After Uncle Tubbs hit cap, I did my “park routine” –

  •         Go through Ingredients bags and put “shared-ey” stuff in the Crafting Storage Bank (such as Sigils, Tokens of the Twelve, Marks, Essences – although Tubbs the Master Crafter keeps his – dragon scales, Thunder-Forged Ingots, Scrolls, Seals, Shards, you get the idea) so that other toons can use them
  •         Go through Collectibles bags and dump them into my “shared” Collectibles Bag (yes, I know I can put them into the Crafting Bank, but I’ve already got 600+ slots taken without any collectibles)
  •         Put any Green Steel ingredients in their own “shared” Ingredients Bag (because the GS Altars can be wonky pulling directly from the bank at times)
  •         Organize toon bank space
  •         Turn in Commendations of Valor for any Heart Seeds, as needed
  •         Top-up any stocks of potions and/or spell components
  •         There’s probably a couple of steps I’m forgetting

– the reasoning behind this is that the toon is “hot ‘n ready” to go, like a Little Caesar’s Pizza  in the event that I need the toon for a raid or loot run in the future.  Switch ‘n go.  No worries about the toon’s viability in nearly any environment, thanks in part to the Minimum Acceptable Standards I keep for my own toons.

Anyhoo, so rambling aside, Tubbs got parked.  Then Madfinger Runewarden, Artificer of Moderate Disappointment, logged on and pulled out some Scroll/Seal/Shard combinations from the Crafting Shared Bank (see, there was a point to mentioning my “park routine” earlier.  –Ed.) to whip himself up an Epic Hellfire Crossbow and an Epic Templar’s Retribution in honor of his fresh new start as a “melee-ficer.”  Which also means he got to scratch “Wings” off his Checklist entry, in the process.

The idea behind the melee-ficer is to mold the hybrid melee/ranged playstyle which I previously dubbed “DDO May Cry” in honor of the classic game series Devil May Cry, which was renowned for its sword-slinging and gun-blasting action – frequently switching between the two with reckless abandon at blinding speeds.  I honed the DDO version of the playstyle – which I started with Aapex Predator’s first life as an artificer, altered it somewhat with Orsyn Burr’s Palificer Artadin 1.0 build, and refined it with Felldar’s Palificer Artadin 2.0 – and decided to come full-circle and bring Madfinger into the fold.

That, and I was really saddened by Madfinger’s previous performances as a pure gunner.

ScreenShot01361

Madfinger the Meleeficer enjoying a sunset in the Harbor.

So here he stands, now at level 21, an INT-based dwarf full-construct (permanently immune to negative levels, immune to poison, disease, sleep, nausea, fatigue, exhaustion, paralysis, +10 Racial bonuses to diseases and poisons that specifically target toasters, immune to drowning, full health from Repair spells, and only -25% to Positive Energy, as opposed to “real” toasters’ -50%) and rolling in the best of all worlds.  His primary focus is using Greater Single Weapon Fighting with Haste Boosts and bastard swords – currently the Epic Templar’s Retribution – but switches to the Epic Hellfire Crossbow in a blink to gun hostiles down while closing the gap.  And while I hear readers musing to themselves – “so do a lot of toons, that’s not special” – you haven’t seen the speed with which artificers swap from weapon+rune arm to crossbow+rune arm.  You can literally jump, switch to the bow, shoot them six times in the face, and land with a Great Cleave coming across their cheek.  With a Jump of 12 and no feather fall.

Now, don’t get me wrong, he’s not perfect at this point, not by a long shot.  Part of the problem he’s suffering from now is that his gear is whack.  Well, it was before he Epic Reincarnated, too.  I went through his gear while getting ready to reincarnate, and was reminded why I had written the following on my character log:

omgwtf this kit is a hot mess

As of right now, he’s got a few pieces of redeeming note – the aforementioned weapons, the Construct’s Mantle on his back, and nearly every rune arm in the game.  (No, seriously, I went a little Pokemon on his first life;  the only ones he is missing are The Disciplinator from VON6, Titan’s Fist from Titan (obv), and Knives Eternal from Mark of Death.)  There are other pieces of gear that are solid, but they won’t come into play for quite some time – a Manual of Stealthy Pilfering and Epic Death’s Rampart for 26 and 27, respectively – but that won’t help him get there.  So he’s at an odd crossroads – do I just simply grind through the early Epics and go with it, or work to gear him up and make him a more valuable addition to the party as a whole?

Ahh, gearholes, my old nemesis.  We meet again.

On top of that, I’m doing what has been come to be called, amongst my motley squad of misfits on Orien, as “keeping things interesting.”

  •         Keeping Things Interesting (colloq. v.) – intentionally performing something of questionable or downright low intelligence, with the express purpose of increasing tension and/or difficulty.

Normally, this is said when “making friends,” i.e., pulling large groups of mobs that didn’t necessarily need to be pulled, just to make fights crazier and – as one might imagine – more interesting.  In this case, I’m doing that with the whole “Epic Destiny” bit.

When one is looking to increase survivability, Unyielding Sentinel is likely the first Destiny to come to mind.  However, I’ve done that before.  And Madfinger doesn’t have that Destiny unlocked, yet.  So, as a crazy compromise – and after poking about a bit with Shadowdancer to unlock Technician rank 3 – I slapped him into Legendary Dreadnaught.  Probably not the smartest of moves, but, whatever.

That’s right, ladies and gents – what we have here is a pure arti with Momentum Swing (who actually uses it).  With nine Haste Boosts (+30% Action Boost bonus to attack speed for 20 seconds) per rest on top of the five-minute Armor of Speed and +30% Combat Style bonus to attack speed from Greater Single Weapon Fighting and 10% Melee and Ranged Alacrity.  For those following along at home, that’s standing 40% Attack Speed bonus, buffed to 55% and bursting at 85%.  That sword is nothing but a blur.  

Bet you were expecting that when the rune arm symbol showed up in the character list, eh?

Now if I could just find him some shoes….

 

32 Raids in 24 Hours

This past weekend was a holiday one in the United States, and I would like to think I took good advantage of that fact.  Let’s start at the end and go backwards.  Why?  Because I can.

The final thing that happened before I logged off was the acquisition of the one and only Hellpuppy, the Monster Manual creature companion for slaughtering a metric butt-ton of Hellhounds.  When shrunken down to such small dimensions, he kind of looks more like a disfigured chihuahua, but I suppose that adds to the charm in its own way.

ScreenShot01355

Ain’t he adorable?  I named him Roger.  Because, reasons.

Immediately prior to that was the completion of a completely berserk number of raids in a single day.  Because of course I couldn’t just leave last years’ 20 Shrouds in 24 Hours stunt alone, now, could I?  Of course not.  That would be silly, and while I am silly, I don’t do silly things.  Often.  I’m lying.  Frequently.  But that’s all beside the point.

Let’s take a quick gander at what transpired on Holiday Monday alone:

  •         Twenty runs (in a row!) of Fire on Thunder Peak (resulting in the Dragon Masque for Whong Fei-Hung the Halfling Shuricannon and Mini-Pimp, which trumps his previously meh helmet (that offered almost nothing), adding Negative Energy each star (which he throws at the rate of 1.2 billion per millisecond), adding Deception (yet another per-star proc), Insightful Sneak Attack (to a Ninja Spy’s already per-star sneak attack), and Deadly XI.  Okay, the Deadly XI is already on the Epic Dawnbringer, but now it’s not star-specific.)  Oh, and (((excessive parentheses))).  I may or may not have proposed marriage to Tharaxata the Dragon while we were having alone time.  Folks that were present in the raid may or may not have heard me bellowing “Why won’t you love me?!?” while flinging my halfling monk at her chest.  It was the bouquet of flowers in his off-hand she was so enamored with, I’m positive of it.  None of that makes sense.  But, then again, none of the whole day made sense.
  •         Three runs of Legendary Shroud, on various toons (Wally the Ghost Archer, Whong the Shuricannon, and Orsyn the Ghost Mechanic).  Lots of materials for Legendary Green Steel, which puts me that much closer to finishing off Tholgrin’s LGS Great Axe.  Also started up an LGS Great Crossbow for Orsyn, and an LGS Shuriken for Fei-Hung.
  •         Two runs of Legendary Hound of Xoriat (two successful, that is, there were actually four, but the puppies glitched out on two runs and had to be restarted) on Fei-Hung and Orsyn.
  •         Four runs of Legendary Tempest’s Spine which resulted in not a single set of the Leathers of the Celestial Archer which Orsyn has been drooling over since they came out.  At least they can be purchased for Xorian Runes, once I acquire enough of them – which in no way led to me running LHoX.  Where the Leathers also have a chance to drop.  Nope, not related at all.  For honests.  I’m lying.  It seems I’m doing that a lot, today.
  •         One run of The Mark of Death on Bholgrin Stoneforge the Romunkadin Favormaster (12 Pal/7 Mnk/1 Rog) which resulted in everybody getting skunked (except for Masterwork Tapestry Shreds).  Sadface.
  •         Two runs of Defiler of the Just on my primary Paladins, Tholgrin Stoneforge (Knight of the Chalice brute) and Mattok Shalefinder (Vanguard hate-tank), which resulted in someone getting lucky and pulling the Boots of Blessed Travels and Mattok still not having a Fellblade. Meh.  I can’t get too greedy, though, as Mat pulled Ultimatum on Friday.  Woohoo!

For those of you keeping track at home, that is thirty-two raids in a single day, with a lot of toon-switching and a lot of bypass timers.  Well, a lot more than is demonstrated above, because as we go back in time, the weekend was still rolling.

Okay, not rolling nearly as quickly as the weekend ended, that’s for sure.  Monday was off-the-wall insane.  There were a number of raids pulled from Friday through Sunday, though, which I’m sure was bolstered by the +5% per-party-member Buddy Weekend Bonus.  (After all, a full raid party then nets +55% XP.)  I won’t bore you with the details of the other three days, as they’re nothing compared to what you just read.

As for an update on the rest of the toons – Uncle Tubbs is now sitting tight at 28 on his “rogue” life, wherein he’s essentially a carbon copy of Orsyn Burr’s build, just with a wizard level that I couldn’t be arsed to Lesser Reincarnate out.  The goal being to rack up Tubbs’ first Deep Gnome past life, as well as score a Heroic Rogue past life, as well.  After that, it’s only Fighter and Ranger left to strike up a Heroic Completionist.

Aapex Predator the Paladin pulled his Jack Jibbers’ blade over the weekend, and Khail Ironfist the Shintao Monk finished his Green Steel Weave Boots, getting both of them marked off the Checklist.  In addition, even though he was “excluded” from the ‘List for Ioun Stones, I went ahead and unsuppressed his.  Now that’s the 20th Unsuppressed Ioun Stone on this account, and I can finally put the Dreaming Dark to rest.  For good.

I’ve come to the conclusion that my pure Artificer, Madfinger Runewarden, is currently a hot bloody mess.  Note I am not stating the class is a mess, just that toon – I did several runs with him whilst trying to get his Jack’s blade, and each one made me feel the need to ingest the contents of a box of dishwasher detergent.  Rather than finish up his farming amidst screaming fits of hateful pseudo-teenage angst, I have decided that Bholgrin’s quest for Epic Completionist (that’d be EC #3 for the account) will be delayed by one Epic Career, during which point I will repurpose Madfinger into a hybrid melee-ranged artificer in much the same theory as made the Palificer Artadin a delight to play.  The only further inquiry is whether to go Bastard Sword or Dwarven Axe for the melee part – there are still a few minor details to iron out.

Hopefully, that will make the rotund engineer more enjoyable to play.  Plus, his skills currently are shot, and “repairing” his build at this point would require a reincarnation to begin with.  Might as well check him off for “wings” and get an Epic Past Life in the process, right?  Right.

Anyhoo, I’m out of time for this lunch break update.  More to come in the future.

Oh, and P.S. – I had no less than eight random people inform me that I probably need to seek professional help.  I also may or may not have been having debates with myself in three different voices at the time.  (It takes a special kind of “speshul” to lose your own argument with yourself. –Ed.)  Oh, well…

Random Things From the Past Two Months

Just a few random things to share, for no reason at all.  In fact, don’t look at them.  Keep moving along.

ScreenShot01340

The Cleric doing his thing, with a seated audience.

ScreenShot01336

The Rebellious Hireling.. he’s with us, just not in the party.  Lovely!

ScreenShot01320

Apparently, “ramps” are a difficult concept for kobolds.

ScreenShot01323

The altar celebration dance from the first #OperationPinkShroud.  You can see Uncletubbs Stole An Elf Body (barely) under Gamer Geoff’s armpit.  Also involved were @JudyeNazareth (a.k.a. Geek Mom), @EvenNote (a.k.a. EvenNote), and @BonnieBew (a.k.a. BonnieBew).

ScreenShot01312

Gorruk Boulderbreaker, dwarfing it up and comparing… hammer sizes with the Duergar King.

ScreenShot01310

What’s the first thing you do when you max out your crafting levels?  Why, make the longest-named-object you can, without actually expending effort.

Tholgrin’s Guide to Minimum Acceptable Standards

Minimum Acceptable Standards

We all gotta start somewhere…

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

And, as Gamer Geoff caught, I missed the easy-to-acquire Experienced Evil from the Temple of Elemental Evil turn-in for both quests!

  •         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!

Happy Slaying!