Characters

Things I Wish I Had Known, Part II: The Embarrassing Stuff

In my previous post, I covered a lot of topics that I considered to be “things I wish I had known” when I started playing DDO… even with a lot of pen and paper background.  That post was geared more towards the new player as a bit of general advice;  this one is for the vets, who I’m sure will enjoy pointing and laughing at my colossal failures as an early player.

 


 

Melees:  Pick a combat style and stick with it.

 

When I first started playing DDO, I had just finished replaying a dwarf character in Dragon Age: Origins,  who was a dual-wielder of longswords.  In DDO, I decided to go with bastard swords, because why not go big or go home?  For some reason, I had completely forgotten about the Two Weapon Fighting feat line, and without it and its associated penalty reductions, I couldn’t hit squat.  And by “squat,” I mean, “still unable to reliably hit a beholder in a level 12 quest on Normal difficulty due to the fact your paladin is suffering obscene penalties due to dual-wielding without the appropriate feats and sporting oversized weapons in both hands.”  I still, to this day, swear that he missed a barrel on a 17.  It was proper humiliating.. and after playing Invaders! for the first time and crawling away from the catastrophic train wreck, Thol switched over to Two-Handed Fighting and started swinging a great axe.  He hasn’t looked back since.

 


 

Avoid multiclassing right away… on your main, at least.

 

I was lucky enough to dodge this bullet in the sense that I didn’t do anything too crazy on my mains.. for a while, at least.  My first multiclass toons were abysmal failures – I think the worst was adding two cleric levels to my Fire Savant sorcerer so that “he could wear heavy armor and heal himself.”  Sure, he could put the armor on, but then he couldn’t cast for squat (due to arcane spell failure) or heal for squat (due to only having Cure Light Wounds and no Devotion items).  Yes, let us become lousy at both jobs!  Huzzah!

It wasn’t until I was planning on doing the Druid past life for Tubbs’ Heroic Completionist that I did something way far out.. and my TR buddy at the time did the same.  Having established a solid rapport wherein I was the front line aggro management and he was the rear line necro/support caster, some (likely heavily intoxicated) part thought it would be fun if we switched roles!  So his main became a toaster paladin and mine became a casty monk/druid and by level 7 both of us had decided it would be best if we just waited for Otto’s Boxes to come on sale and work on alts in the meantime.  Which is exactly what we did.

 


 

Demo your next build, especially if it’s multi-classed.

 

Oh, man, I can’t stress how many times this has saved my hide.  My biggest hose-up is failing to change the alignment at character creation and then suddenly being unable to level up into the class I need to pick.  Or forgetting that Single Weapon Fighting requires invested ranks in Balance.  If I were to point out the biggest failure on this part, it would be the time I was supposed to do a Bard/Fighter life for a character, and started as a Purple Dragon Knight… forgot to change the alignment, and then circa level 7 when I went to take my first Bard level, discovered I had hosed up the entire life, since Bards cannot be Lawful.  D’oh!

Or, let’s see, there’s that time I was supposed to bring some druid into my war cleric build, who was Chaotic Good, and suddenly I now had yet another cleric life to finish since I didn’t have the points at the time for an alignment change.

Most recently, I had this crazy idea for an Intelligence-based deep gnome “bardificer” which I demo-ed.. focused on using Light Hammers to capitalize on the racial benefits as well as the Battle Engineer damage bonuses.  Everything sounded great on paper, until I realized after the first demo quest trial that I’d completely castrated it by failing to include more than the bare minimum of Charisma or Perform.. which turned all of the bard abilities effectively useless.  The redeeming part is, it was a demo toon, so I can take it back to the drawing board without having to grind it all out!

 


 

Be prepared for “The Big Four.”

 

This could be an entire article on its own.  So I’ll just summarize the most traumatizing points, here:

  • That time when my dwarf maulfighter didn’t have any Lesser Restoration pots and because Charisma was a dump stat had to flee from the Quori Stalkers that were eating his Charisma in The Prisoner and slowly chip away at them one or two swings at a time while I cried into my whiskey
  • That time when my dwarf fire savant sorcerer went into the Haunted Library for the first time and the very first thing the very first Clay Golem did was punch him in the face with a Cursed Wound and while he couldn’t heal he kept trying to push through the quest until the Blackbone Skeletons that are immune to fire pointed and laughed and mocked him to death while he still couldn’t heal
  • Those half-dozen times or more where I ignored the messages from Pernicioius and Virulent Mummy Rot and said “it’s only a point or two” until suddenly I was helpless in the middle of the fight with Raiyum and his posse of Death Hex Wraiths who thought I was a right proper tasty morsel (though, truthfully, this is a combination of Resto, Curse, and Disease)
  • The first time I was in heroic Jungles of Khyber (back in the days I still PUGged regularly) and a drow Luridae Seer struck my paladin with Blindness for over ten minutes and I asked the party cleric who had ran ahead and they replied with “sucks to be you.”  So that’ll never happen again…

 


 

Immunity doesn’t always mean impunity.

 

So when I got to level 9 as a druid and saw the Venom Immunity feat granted, I was so super psyched I ran straight through a wall of poison traps like all the toasters were doing and immediately dissolved into a puddle of first-life patheti-goo.  That was when I noticed the words “damage from natural poisons,” not, “immune to poison.”  A very, very important distinction.  One which I should have known, having come from the P&P background where such loopholes are all-too-common.

On the other hand, I did get my revenge a few levels later when I ran through the walls of venom traps in Against the Demon Queen as a fire elemental who actually was immune to poison, so, there’s a small glimmer of redemption in this one.

 


 

Melees:  Have an ooze/rusty solution.

 

So back when I first started… I mean very first started, as in still playing quests on Normal the very first time and exploring every nook and cranny.. I ran into my very first ooze in Durk’s Got a Secret and in my excitement, forgot about their Corrode Metal attributes from pen & paper.  At the time, I had a handful of assorted (crappy) lootgen weapons and starter gear – remember, this is the first time through! – and watched in abject horror as they all dissolved into proto-paste and I wound up mostly-naked punching slime to death.  Yeah, don’t do that.  Even when you finally survive the fight, you’re left standing in a sewer with nothing left, scratching your head, thinking to yourself, “well, now what?”

So of course I tried to continue the quest.  Guess what?  Angry kobold shaman don’t really care that you’re effectively unarmed and trying to punch them to death.  They’ll pump you full of volts from a nasty Lightning Bolt just the same.

 


 

Hang on to that returning throwing weapon…

 

So in spite of Tholgrin being my main, my nom de plume, and the first character created on pretty much every D&D/fantasy game I’ve ever played in the past two decades, he wasn’t my first character to hit level 20 or even explore most of the quests.  That honor goes to Kiljoen Lorebringer, a sorcerer – gasp! – who was a fire savant.  And yeah, he ran crashing and screaming into a mess as soon as it came time for Shavarath and Epics.  The worst of it all was in the quest Blown to Bits, most specifically, the Iron Fire Bomber optional.  If you’re not familiar, this cat has an obscene amount of hit points, has 50% absorption to all elemental energy damage, is super-charged by fire (yay for me), and drops demolition charges that can blow you out of existence without so much as a by-your-leave.  Luckily, there’s a resurrection shrine in his room.

Me being a stubborn type, after the first… um, seven or eight deaths.. decided that it was a personal thing and that this fool was going down.  It took two hours and thirty-six minutes, during which time I was completely naked, and the only real weapon I had during that time was kiting and firing off a Magic Missile every time I generated enough spell points from Echoes of Power. The entire time, I couldn’t help but think how this situation would have been a little bit easier if I’d not left the Chill Shard in the bank because it wasn’t “on brand” for my fire savant.  In retrospect, it wouldn’t have helped in that particular fight due to his insane DR, but the scar remains.

For the record, that fight ended with eighty-six deaths.  I said I was stubborn.

 


 

So there you have it, a few of the silly things I did when I first started, and some of the reasons for the suggestions I’ve previously made.  Hopefully you got a giggle or at least a commiserating chuckle out of it!

 

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Proposed Perversity

Lately, I’ve been finding myself making what I’ve started calling “perverse” builds.  Things that shouldn’t work, or are just plain silly, or doing things specifically for the sake of doing things instead of going for what works already and what’s proven successful.

The most recent completed entry in this list is Adipostal’s current life, as a scimitar-wielding (because I hadn’t made a scimi build yet) wizard (because I haven’t played one in ages) with a small shield (to prove my own biased opinions that small shields were pointless wrong) who could front-flip (because a buddy of mine had made his toaster arti backflip, and I can’t not one-up that) that wasn’t a Bladeforged (because reasons) that could trap (because 30% free XP and why not).  That bizarre list of criteria wound up being the Warforged 13 Wiz/6 Ftr/2 Rog speed-striking monster with a massive crit profile with shield bashing and… oddly became one of my more enjoyable toons to play, once I figured out how to make it work for me.

My current project is an Aasimar scourge, purely Wisdom-based (thanks to half Favored Soul levels), dual-wielding heavy maces, going up the Tempest ranger tree with a heavy splash into Warpriest (I refuse to call it ‘war soul’) to double-up on the deity weapon damage, and a splash of rogue to keep the trapping up.  It’s holding sixteen at the moment and thus far appears to be quite an enjoyable little bucket of what-the-heck.  However, it’s not scratching my perverse build itch, since it’s still heavily focused on Warpriest, and as War Divines are kind of my thing, it’s not that unusual.

So, lately, I’ve taken to thinking out loud about some things I wanted in this next bout of strangeness:

  • A falchion build – because I’ve never done one before, and the collection of unused ones is getting a bit ridiculous, and it should actually go Strength-based for once
  • No divines or monks – because I’ve done loads, they’re proven successful, and it needs new and twisted
  • No dwarves – I’ve only played like 10,492 dwarf lives already. (Okay, it was only 108. -Ed.)  I will never speak ill of my stumpy brethren, but it needs to be new and twisted
  • No iconics – gotta start in K-town to get the full experience
  • Don’t care about Reaper with a silly build, but still needs to be self-sufficient in Elite
  • Most importantly, it has to make someone go ‘why the..’ when they look at the build

In order to address all of these concerns, I worked in reverse.  Starting with the thought something that would immediately catch your eye, I came up with a melee artificer that doesn’t use a rune arm.  Because, you can’t use a rune arm with a falchion, as it’s a two-hander.  So that was a great start.

But self healing?  Warforged is too obvious.  There are loads of new options in the Renegade Mastermaker tree, and with recent changes to Improved Construct Essence allowing full self-healing from Repair sources at level 12, that’s an option.  Taking Artificer to 15 grants access to Reconstruct, which is more than sufficient to crank out massive repair-based healing.

So, what, then?  Clearly this line of thinking is going fleshy.  But as I’ve already set aside, my beloved dwarves are out of the question.  A half-orc with a two-handed weapon is – even though the class is wrong – still far too cliché for it to be considered perverse.  Halfling?  No, I already have a few of those.  Gnome?  Perhaps, but that leans a bit too much to going Intelligence-based in the Harper tree, and I don’t want it to be a non-standard ability score (because at this point, going standard ability score is almost counter-culture).  What about… a drow?

Drow have no racial inclinations towards falchions (bonus), they tend to lean more towards Dexterity builds in melee combat (bonus), and have little to no synergy with a front-line Artificer.  I think we have a winner!

So putting everything together, I’ve come up with…

  • Drow, possibly Envenomed Blades if enough points?
  • Front-line melee, Falchion user, Strength based, no rune arm
  • Shuriken for ranged damage solution (specifically because it’s not a crossbow)
  • Heavy Armor, but still tumbling, because backflipping heavy armor arti, that’s why
  • No Evasion because no evasion on purpose
  • Improved Construct Essence for self-healing and toaster benefits while still fleshy
  • 16 Artificer for access to Reconstruct + Deadly Weapons (both 6th level spells)
  • Artificer focusing on Renegade Mastermaker for defense and party benefits
  • 4 Fighter for Kensei bonuses and free feats (yeah, yeah, low hanging fruit, I’m cheating a little bit)
  • No clue what Destiny to go in yet

That’s what I’ve got thus far.  Well, and a whole chest full of falchions waiting to be used.  Let me know what you think.

Flirting with Insanity

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a pretty severe case of alt-itis.  And it’s not just a case of having several toons to bounce between, but having a small army of fully-geared and stacked toons that drives me to cozy up with madness.

Take, for example, the “Checklist” which I’ve been working on for two years, now.

Checklist

To the folks seeing this for the first time, this just looks like a wall of black dots.  For those that have been following along, this means that the only things preventing this particular fit of obsession from being completed are farming a Mysterious Bauble and two Shards of Supreme Power for Adipostal, the “Wizard” extraordinaire.  (In related news, Adi marked having successfully soloed The Shroud with every class.)  Which isn’t much, although the RNGezus deity of my home server appears to know this is driving me insane and keeping the drop rates out of reach intentionally.

That Checklist took a lot of farming and grinding to accomplish.  Heck, the column for pulling twenty-one Cursed Blades of Jack Jibbers alone took over two years.  But the satisfaction in knowing that any toon I log into has a safety net is quite grin-inducing.  On the other hand, it’s almost done, so what is going to take up my next flirtation with insanity?  Leveling and reincarnating alone isn’t nearly enough.

So, for the first time on this blog (and perhaps my Twitter account, as well), I present to you, dear reader (all two of you!) the Seriously EPOS Bonus Checklist!

EPOS Checklist

So what does all this mean?

MM Solution means the character has some form of counter to Magic Missiles, be it as simple as a Mystic Belt from Bring Me The Head of Ghola-Fan!  or an innately cast spell (Shield and Nightshield).  Other solutions exist, such as enhancements which provide the permanent effects of the above spells, or in the case of Occult Slayer barbarians, the level 18 core ability Force Ward.  With U38 came the option for Renegade Mastermaker artificers to emulate the effects as well with the second core, Alchemical Shield.

Teleport is pretty self-explanatory.  Can the character cast a Teleport effect, either inherently, via scroll, or does he have a clicky?  Royal Guard Masks are valid for this requirement, as is the Belt of Braided Beards, even though the latter has a pretty steep level requirement.

Draconic Soul Gem is a little more loose;  in short, does the character have a minimum of 30 elemental resistance (without guild buffs, which I still don’t use) for Acid, Cold, Electric, and Fire?  (Sonic, as the red-headed step-child of the energy types, gets a pass.)  This is most easily accomplished with the augment of the same name (hence the label) but can be fulfilled by other means.

Orcish Boots or, if you run within my little circle on Orien, “Das Büüüts,” sometimes even as simply “The Shoes,” refers to owning a pair of Orcish Privateer’s Boots.  (And no, I don’t share between toons.  Can’t stand it when I log on to a toon and someone else has Their Shoes.)  If you’re unfamiliar, they provide a massive boost to fire resistance, fire absorption, speed, permanent Freedom of Movement, and a colorless slot all in one pair of shoes at minimum level 24.  Yes, plz, kthxbai.  Head to Epic Three-Barrel Cove and start hunting some rare encounters and airships if you’d like to land yourself a pair or seven.  Or nineteen.  Whong Fei-Hung gets a pass only due to his Shuricannon pure-Dex build having Dex Boots of Dexly Dexterity Dexness which are too dang efficient to skip on.

Master’s Gift is very self-explanatory.  Do I have a Master’s Gift available for the toon?  It may not seem like much, and some folks will say switching to a Voice of the MasterMantle of the Worldshaper, Pale Green Ioun Stone, or Experienced Evil before the quest ends will fulfill the same effect.  The case more often than not, however, as these items aren’t worn full time, is that the wearer “misses out” on switching to their experience booster item for the majority of optional experience grants and many quest endings – since most quests end as soon as the boss is dead, and without much preamble if you’re soloing.  Or maybe I’m just too focused on the combat to bother switching for the last 5-10% of the bosses’ hit points.  In either case, those missed opportunities all add up when we’re stretching out a timeline of hundreds of past lives, each running between three and eleven million XP.  That adds up.  A Master’s Gift ensures that all of those little bits adds up over time without having to stress over switching to an item.  Now I just need to farm up 45 more Greater Tokens of the Twelve in order to finish manufacturing the Gifts I’m missing.

Abbot Sigil is another self-explanatory one.  Now that the Litany of the Dead sigil is no longer a per-use item, and returns one Completed Sigil which persists through all forms of reincarnation, finishing this (which I previously rarely did) in order to gain access to the Litany XP farm is definitely something to finish up.  Granted, this doesn’t work with Ascension Chamber flagging (a bug, apparently), but that’s not what I’m looking for.

And that’s all well and good, except, it’s not.  As you can see, even in the short time since I came up with the idea, there’s an awful lot of progress having been made on that front.  It’s not done by any means, but it’s certainly not the “wall of Swiss cheese” I started with on the original Checklist.  So how is one to step that up a notch?

Destinies

I think that one goes without explanation.  Time to crack some knuckles and get to grindin’.

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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…

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.

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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!