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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.

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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….

 

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Dwarf Down!! (But Not Out)

So those of you who follow my Twitter account (@TholgrinDDO) are probably a little more up to speed with what I’m going through.

Things on the IRL server are… less than stellar.  There’s this ugly little thing (I actually wrote “thong” thanks to the monitor on my finger, and decided that was funny enough to leave in) that goes around, and is generally considered to be a bad word. It’s also the punchline to a really horrible joke:

“What did the blind, deaf, and dumb kid get for Christmas?”

“CANCER!”

Well, so did I.  Colon cancer, to be precise.  Which is rather odd, given my age.  Alas, the affected area has since been not-so gently eviscerated and discarded in a manner reminiscent of a used condom. But really, it went to a pathologist to determine if I need another IRL Cure Disease spell or if the leeches on standby are sufficient.

So, yes, I’m typing this from the hospital on morphine, literally hours after someone had a robot with a scalpel hack a foot of my large intestine out, squiggle the innards around to reattach it to the small intestine.  Here’s an example of what happened:

c7_right_hemicolectomy

And that’s basically what happened.  A foot got cut out and stitched back together.  No, it’s not comfortable, but whatever.  They’re expecting approximately one week to recover, and then a short circuit of outpatient chemo just to put the nail in the coffin.

So if I’m posting less frequently, I think there’s a valid excuse this time.. and “I’m sorry, I was in the hospital with cancer” actually happened.

hospital hardcore

So if my raiding skills aren’t quite 100%, that’s why.  And I had just started getting into a rhythm with @DDOMicki’s raids!  Boo.

Anyhoo.. happy slaying ‘n stuff!

Fear the Beard

This most recent life for Tholgrin Stoneforge, my main-main and intrepid paladin leader of the rag-tag bunch of partially insane adventurers known as Full Moon Fury, was a bit of a whirlwind.

Without a concrete launch date for Update 29, which I’m actually dreading due to the impending level cap raise to 30 – but only because it’ll throw a monkey wrench in my plans to finish Thol’s Epic Completionist (greedy, much? –Ed.) – I’ve been in a bit of a crunch to blast out his remaining Epic lives as fast as dwarvenly possible.

I think I did a fairly good job, this past one.

With two Primals (Fast Healing), two Arcanes (Enchant Weapon), two Divines (Power over Life and Death), and one Martial (Doublestrike) under his belt already, I swung him back around into the Martial sphere to make it an even two across the board.  That was when I got home from work on Thursday.

Prime the facerollers, ladies and gentlemen, because the guild’s moniker was about to be unleashed.  And it would be further powered by my own stupidity.  (Author’s Note – the guild name has nothing to do with werewolves.)

Apparently, making an “ugly” life provides the actual player with a buff to viciousness for the duration of that particular life.  Thol has had the same appearance since his very first life – even back when the cosmetics were Armor Kits and had to be re-applied to each new set, he had the same one – something like a medieval Iron-Man-meets-Odin mashup.

ScreenShot01061

Iron Odin Dwarf Man!

I really dig the look, and it pissed me off to the point where I was scouring the store for an Appearance Respec token (why don’t we have these, Turbine?  Do we really have to LR/ER/TR/IR in order to change our appearance?  We can change our names, alignments, and everything else…) when I completely goofed, reached for something on the desk, and accidentally clicked my mouse button.  Which in and of itself wouldn’t be too bad, except it was on the CREATE button at the time, and I wandered in with a crazy mixed-up mess that I officially dubbed Ugly Thol.  I mean, what the hell?  He’s almost a smoothface.  (For you elven players, that’s a pretty serious derogatory slur for most self-respecting dwarves, and might land you in some very hot water if used at the wrong time in an P&P/RP sense.  It’s essentially accusing a dwarf of being a traitor to the entire race.  There’s a lot more to it, but this sidebar is already too long.)

ScreenShot01062

Ugly Thol

Awkward Aside:  Flash to funny moment, where after grouping up with some buddies, I was talking trash about how bloody hideous Thol was this life, when I ambled up to where we were waiting to tackle the King’s Forest – and Von pointed out that his character and Tholgrin had identical facial/hair/beard selections.  Cue uncomfortable crickets…..

But I digress.  His gnarsty appearance (more so because it wasn’t Tholgrin than anything else, although the weird side-shaved pompadour is kind of odd) giving me even more of an incentive to finish the life than the impending Level 30 raise, we set off.

And boy, did we set it off.  Thursday night started with reincarnation and ended with equipping Cleaver, Hewer of Suffering.  Friday night was a wicked blitz of four sagas and ended only one run of Jungles away from 26.  And after one-upping that on Saturday with a five-saga thermonuclear steamroll, the night ended with the following:

ScreenShot01074

47 minutes!  Are you bloody serious? 

47 minutes left.  Forty-seven minutes.  That means that Thol’s entire Epic career for this life took all of 71 hours and 13 minutes of real time to earn 6.6 million XP.  The beauty of it wsa that while most of the crew wasn’t along for the entire roller coaster – although some were along for the majority of it – we all scored a nutball amount of experience, and Wreist hit cap one quest before Thol did.   Eshle hit his cap Friday night and was back into Heroics over the weekend.  All in all, it was a good time rocketing forth at unnecessary speeds.  Jazz Jackrabbit would be proud. 

donkeh

Eight Epic lives down, four to go.  By an unknown launch date… that part kind of stinks.  I mean, sure, they’ve stated “December,” but that could mean anywhere from December 1st (panic) to December 31st (we’s good).  Or, more accurately, December 3rd to December 31st, since they typically push releases on Thursday.  Technicalities.  At the very least, I’d like to get the final Arcane and final Martial life done – I really don’t mind playing Fury of the Wild (Adrenaline Overload + Exalted Smite Evil = stupid-retardankulous 5-digit damage) and Unyielding Sentinel is his home destiny.. so neither of those would really be “bad” if I have to take them to 30.

On the other hand, focusing on Tholgirn as of late has usurped some time from his brother Bholgrin’s Goals for 2015… at least he’s seen some progress since the last time!  Well, sort of.  I spent part of a day with him and soloed every challenge save Epic Kobold Island:  Short Cuts.  I’ll have to do some work on that one – the Heroic one wasn’t that bad to solo, but no matter what I do on the Epic one, I’m always 30-40 dragonshards short when the timer goes POOF.  I’m not entirely certain what the strategy is on that one.. I might have to *gasp* break down and get someone to come along to help!  (Note that I did not say that I five-starred all of them, just that they were completed.  Some, better than others.  –Ed.)

So there’s still quite a bit left to do before the end of the year.. and even more to do in the next few days.  Luckily, in the US, this coming week is Thanksgiving – where I will most certainly be giving thanks for a number of things (you know, little things like continuing to breathe and having so many First World Problems that I get to complain about impending changes to a video game) followed by giving thanks for the fact it’s a short work week and I’ll have a chance to go apeshit with an axe.  A second Epic Completionist in 2015 can still happen!

Happy slaying!

#stumpy4life   #dwarfpower  #fearthebeard   #hashtag

 

Along Came a Spider (A Content Pitch)

If you’re anything like me, you probably have quite a few fond (?) memories of your early days in DDO in one particular quest – which I won’t even need to name for most veterans.

  •         The Hatchery
  •         OMFG IT’S WHISPERDOOM RUN YOU FOOLS
  •         The Hatchery
  •         SHE’S RIGHT BEHIND US dude we are so gonna die
  •         The Hatchery
  •         omg omg I can’t move, my Con is zero, and HOW IS SHE STACKING SO MUCH ACID DAMAGE
  •         The Hatchery
  •         Annnnddd total party wipe.  What directly the…  how.. just.. what??
  •         …..the Hatchery

For those of you that haven’t figured it out yet, the quest in question is The Spawn of Whisperdoom (not to be confused with the level 4 quest Whisperdoom’s Spawn which is exponentially easier).  If you haven’t figured it out yet, that means you probably haven’t run it – or it’s been a seriously long time – and you and Whisperdoom should probably go get re-acquainted.  It’s a Heroic base level 11 quest, which puts it at 13 on Elite, and make sure you go in prepared – things can go pear-shaped pretty darn quickly if you aren’t.  Never mind the fact that this CR 20 boss regenerates, is perma-hasted, has an unbreakable DR 15, is immune to Cold, Sonic, Holy, Anarchic, Axiomatic, and Vermin weapons (she’s a magical beast), and has a nasty (nasty [gnarsty]) habit of filling the entire combat zone with high-DC Webs, Stinking Clouds, and nauseatingly high stacks of acid DOTs (and I would personally swear there are Cloudkills in there, but I can’t confirm that on the wiki –Ed.).  Retreating to regroup probably won’t work – especially if you don’t have Freedom of Movement – since that ginormous spider can haul some serious abdomen.

350px-Whisperdoom_zpsf2eb1698

Whisperdoom, courtesy of the Wiki.

In short, if you’re with a bunch of young toons, it’s one hell of a fight, and feels almost like a right-proper raid victory when you pull it off.  No, it’s not an XP/min quest, but it’s definitely one that will leave an impression.

And yet, with such a memorable villainess, her story ends with that particular quest… but in my opinion, it really shouldn’t.  Plus, villains come back from the dead in games, comics, movies, and soap operas all the time – as long as it’s done in a cool fashion, who cares about the logistics?

Enter my pitch for a “tribute arc” to that most infamous of spellslinging spiders, simply entitled..

Arachnophobia


 

The Intro Quest:  “Finding the Source”

Background:  A new type of venom has been discovered being wielded against the citizens of Stormreach and Xen’drik which defies all previous knowledge of deadly toxins.  It matches no known sources, responds to no known antidotes, and kills swiftly and violently.  Fearing extraplanar meddling, the Gatekeepers have asked you to investigate.

In short, this first quest (only) will be an Epifying of a current quest, the notoriously brutal Proof is in the Poison.   This is to minimize resource cost for the remainder of the arc, as well as provide a fun little ‘revisit’ to an old haunting ground.  The twist this time, however, will take place in the final chamber, during the fight with Thual Masmataz where it will be discovered that his new venom which is plaguing Stormreach is actually a concentrate from the glands of the captive Whisperdoom’s Daughter that will burst forth from its magical bonds once Thual is dead.

After the heavily augmented magical spider is dropped during a vicious battle, the ominous reveal is made – where, exactly, did this daughter of Whisperdoom come from, since you already exterminated her and her entire brood ages ago?  You’d better bring this back to the Gatekeepers.

Completion of this quest flags you for the pre-raid and makes it available as a teleport option from the Gatekeeper representative.


 

The Pre-Raid:  “Into the Lair”

Background:  The sudden reappearance of a Spawn of Whisperdoom, enhanced with magical energies foreign to this plane of existence, has alarmed the Gatekeepers to a degree that has not been seen since the appearance of the Rift in Khyber.  Fearing the two incidents may be related, they dispatched an emissary to commune with Elminster in Eveningstar.

Their discoveries suggest that Lolth the Demon Queen has somehow managed to revitalize Whisperdoom across the planar divide to serve as her avatar of destruction in our very backyard.   Pooling their considerable resources, the Gatekeepers have divined the location of Whisperdoom’s new lair.  Now it is up to you to end this terror, once and for all.

The second quest in the arc will take place in a long, winding path with multiple offshoots.  Each of these offshoots will be little more than a single hallway and bend with one small chamber at the end, but will serve the purpose of making a “wrong turn” every two hundred feet or so and expending precious resources with few chances of renewal.  Of course, once someone has learned the correct route, these offshoots will hold no additional hindrance.

Except, of course, the fact that the only shrines in the quest will be hidden in these tucked-away areas.

Into the Lair

So the correct path, in this example, is right, left, right, left, left, left, right, wait, what?

As one might expect, the theme and appearance for this  quest will be similar to “The Lair” portion of The Spawn of Whisperdoom, only much darker and more ominous.  Wisps of a greenish fog hang around the ceiling and pool around in some of the alcoves, acting as foreshadowing for what is to come later.  As for hostiles, as one would imagine, spiders galore infest this entire map.  Hundreds and hundreds of spiders.  They will crawl up from the ground, drop down from the ceiling without warning, and constant respawns will plague the party;  anyone wishing to shrine will need to set up guards and take shifts in order to prevent their rest from being interrupted.

Jets of poison and acid will fire from random “cracks in the walls” (read: undisarmable traps) which will make things more unpredictable, even for those that know the correct route.  Otherwise, it is a relatively straightforward hack-‘n-slash style homage to the classic dungeon crawl… with spiders.  Lots and lots of spiders.  And then add some more arachnids.  Squared.

Note that spiders have Tremor Sense which makes simply sneaking through or invisi-zerging a non-viable option.  Your only way out is through, and there’s a lot of legs between here and there.

The quest ends upon the completion of one simple objective, “Find the Entrance to the Lair,” which is achieved by having at least one player reach the end point and hack away several layers of webbing covering an enormous cavern entrance leading almost straight down.  Clicking the entrance will not advance to the next quest, but rather return you to town, as recalling will likely not be an option (thanks to the respawns).

Also, this will not require re-running to re-flag for the raid.

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for…


 

The Raid:  “Along Came a Spider”

Background:  You have driven your way past the endless onslaught of the lair’s defenses and stand on the brink of Whisperdoom’s innermost hive.  Judging by the sounds and impossibly acrid odors emanating from within, it seems she will be significantly more formidable than the last time you crossed fangs with her.  Now all that remains is to shed some blood.

A note before we begin – this raid is intended to completely destroy unprepared parties.  If that sounds harsh, it really isn’t – raids were never meant to be soloed, and failing multiple times to learn what you need to survive is expected.  Coming in unprepared is supposed to shred you like papier mache.  The design of this is to provide unrelenting havoc to prepared parties and diabolic annihilation to those who were not.  Having said that..

The raid itself takes place in three main locations, all of which are completely contained.  The first relatively small chamber is where the party enters, and is separated from the Outer Lair by several thick layers of webbing.  Once the party has completed buffing – and it should be noted this will be the only time during the raid where one will have “time to breathe” – the party cuts the webs and enters.

Twenty seconds after the first party member enters the Outer Lair, Whisperdoom 2.0 will seal the chamber off with unbreakable webbing.  Late arrivals to the raid will be able to score completion, but much like many other raids, the loot itself will be whisked away beyond their reach.

The Outer Lair is a large, dome-like chamber, somewhat akin to a larger version of the battle room with Sineater in In the Belly of the Beast.   However, instead of the white fog present near the purple worm, this fog is green.. and thus we begin the Environmental Effects which will conjure every nightmare fight with Whisperdoom from your toon’s youth.

Why Environmental Effects?  Because putting these out as visual effects, like the spells themselves, would run the very real risk of making this raid Lag Central like several others.  Environmental Effects – much like the Numbing Spores in Zuggtmoy’s fight in the Temple of Elemental Evil, Part Two – don’t cause the graphical strain.

As the fight with Whisperdoom progresses, the Environmental Effects will grow.

Phase I:  100-76% HP

Environmental Effects:  Permanent Epic-level Acid Fog

During this phase, we will see the (now monumental in size) Whisperdoom face-to-face, and she will scuttle about at relatively slow speed.  She will perform general biting melee attacks – which will cause a stack of Weak Whisperdoom Poison (think the Demon Poison DOT from The Spinner of Shadows, except curable via Neutralize Poison effect;  the idea is not to murderize, but to add tension) on critical hits.  Left untreated, this will stack and rapidly kill a person – some form of poison mitigation will be mandatory for survival, and as a magically augmented poison, class and racial immunities do not apply.  In addition, she will make swipes with her legs and perform “leg bumps” similar to those dealt by the Legs of the Goddess from Caught in the Web however, as the room is completely sealed, this will just fling you about a bit and provide random chaos with no knockdown effects.  (I really, really hate knockdown effects.  –Ed.)  As with Lolth’s Immanence from Caught and her original iteration, Whisperdoom regenerates;  some players will need to keep the heat on her at all times to avoid losing progress.  It should also be noted that Whisperdoom seems to have upgraded from Melf’s Acid Arrow to Black Dragon Bolt during her reincarnation.

It is expected that the ongoing DOT effects in this phase will shred your weaker, unprepared parties, but those coming in with a stack of Neutralize Poison pots/effects and proper resists (read:  acid) will be able to power through without too much difficulty.

Phase II:  75-51% HP

Environmental Effects:  Permanent Epic-level Acid Fog continues; Epic-level Acid Rain added

In Phase II, all of the events of Phase I continue.  However, approximately once a minute, Whisperdoom will rear up on her hind legs and spill forth a wave of Whisperdoom’s Hatchlings from her abdomen to add to the chaos.  All of the hatchlings, and now Whisperdoom herself, will spew high-DC Web spells which will make life miserable for any toon which does not have Freedom of Movement or other anti-Web measures, such as Fire Shield or large fire AOE spells.  While they will add to the general chaos, things haven’t gotten sticky – yet.  Upon dropping Whisperdoom to 50% of her Hit Points, the floor will collapse and everyone will fall into the Inner Lair for the remainder of the raid.

Phase III:  50-26% HP

Environmental Effects:  Permanent Epic-level Acid Fog and Acid Rain continue, with Epic-level Cloudkill added

This is where the poop is truly intended to collide with the air circulator.  After the floor collapses, everyone will fall down (aided by Heavy Gravity to prevent Feather Fall from giving folks a few seconds’ breather) into another chamber, onto a latticework of webs which criss-cross the entire chamber.  The central area will be mostly solid, with gaps and holes becoming more prevalent the closer one gets to the walls.  Should one fall, the first player can activate a rune in the center of the bottom “floor” (an ankle-deep pool which deals acid and venom damage) to enable air jets around the edges to fling themselves back up into the fray.  The rune will only need to be activated once.  This is one of those fights where players may opt to leave Feather Fall at home, to minimize time spent ‘out of the fight’ falling down to find an air jet.  (Which will not fire at any funny angles, just straight up, none of that Spies in the House nonsense.)

Also, as the party is falling, there will be a single sound byte of the phrase “The Hatchery,” because, Easter eggs and reasons.  It should also be noted that all spiders (including Whisperdoom) act as Hasted while on the webbing layer – after all, webs are their natural habitat.

The webs themselves act as a permanent Web spell – Freedom of Movement is critical at this point to prevent repeatedly getting stuck.  Constant Constitution damage from the Environmental Epic Cloudkill will need to be monitored, as will Whisperdoom’s on-critical venom being upgraded to Strong Whisperdoom’s Poison.  In addition to her Hatchlings being spilled forth from her abdomen at fixed intervals, random adds of Whisperdoom’s Daughters will crawl into the fray from the cracks in the walls – making leaving healers, spellthrowers, and ranged tucked away a risky proposition.

If this didn’t sound too terrible thus far, Whisperdoom will unveil her new trick – a heavy, concentrated AOE blast of pure magical venom which will be lobbed using inverse aggro target selection.  This means the player with the lowest threat generated will become the target of this special blindside attack – just when you think you’re safe to spam Ten Thousand Stars, a fifty-pound glob of magical demon spider poison impacts your face and saturates you and those around you with massive damage.  Getting struck by this also acts as an Intimidating Presence effect for any of her Daughters or Hatchlings within range to further make the victim cry.  Luckily, this move will be telegraphed by Whisperdoom’s fangs glowing an unnatural, swirling green for two to four seconds before being lobbed onto the unwitting healer’s cranium.  Of course, being a spider, Whisperdoom has no need to stop flinging the melees around with her legs while charging this attack up, but at least she can’t bite or cast any spells for a few seconds.

Phase IV:  25-0% HP

Environmental Effects:  Permanent Epic-level Acid Fog, Acid Rain, and Cloudkill continue;  mass area Nerve Venom effect takes place (every 6 seconds, a random player has a 7% chance to be paralyzed for six seconds, no save).

Having survived to the Final Stretch, the players must prepare to face off with Whisperdoom’s most demonic, diabolical, and just plain evil powers.  Adding to the constant pounding of acid damage (which a high-enough Acid Resist should shield the player from most of, except for spikes) and stat damage, now her fatal lair has let loose its deadly Nerve Venom ability to paralyze players and leave them helpless while she flings them off into the acid/venom goo below.  In addition, Whisperdoom will enter her own personal Panic Mode and engage 100% Blur for the remainder of the fight – in other words, if your ranged and melees do not have True Sight, they are now functionally useless.

In addition to the Hatchlings from Whisperdoom’s abdomen and the Daughters from the cracks in the walls, additional Daughters will drop in from the ceiling in random locations with completely reset aggro to add more unpredictability to the fight.

Whisperdoom will continue the Leg Bumps which have been present through the entire fight, but will also now rise up on her hind legs (the animation identical to the “spit out Hatchlings” one, just to be misleading) and slam her four front legs down on the ground in a massive Leg Slam.  This deals bludgeoning damage as well acting as an AOE Leg Bump, flinging any toons unlucky enough to be caught in its its range around the room.

After surviving the unrelenting gauntlet that has been the battle thus far, landing the killing blow on Whisperdoom will result her (and any remaining Daughters and Hatchlings) to erupt and dissolve in columns of shimmering light, leaving nothing but ash visible behind, ends all Environmental Effects, and cuts short any remaining Weak or Strong Whisperdoom Poison DOTs.  (Nothing worse than standing around a chest, twitching and unable to open it, just waiting for an effect to wear off.. –Ed.)  


 

Aftermath & Loot

As you plunge your blade deep into Whisperdoom’s barely-beating heart, she emits a blood-curdling howl from beyond the void which sounds far too human for you to take comfort in the terrible beast’s demise.  It would seem – for the moment, at least – that your task is done.

I haven’t planned out the entire loot table for this pitch, yet.  The only item I came up with is a pretty specific one which would likely be farmed for much the same reasons that the Cursed Blade of Jack Jibbers  is farmed – for its minimum level.  (But the blade is still pretty bloody wicked at any level.)

Whisperdoom’s Heart

  •         Minimum Level:  None
  •         Item Type:  Jewelry/Trinket
  •         Slot:  Trinket
  •         Race Absolutely Required:  None
  •         Binding:  Binds to Character on Acquire
  •         Durability:  60
  •         Material:  Dried Spider Heart
  •         Hardness:  6
  •         Base Value:  12,400pp
  •         Weight:  0.8 lbs
  •         Location:  Along Came a Spider, end chest, Epic Elite only
  •         Upgradeable?  Green Augment Slot
  •         Description:  Sometimes, to make sure something stays dead, you have to cut out its heart.  And then cut it up into pieces.  And then dry it out.  Every now and then, you would swear you still felt this bit pulse…
  •         Effects:  The wearer of this trinket is immune to all poisons, natural, magical, and supernatural, and all poison effects.  This includes, but is not limited to, poison traps, poison spells, poisoned weapon damage, venomed blades, Drow paralyzing weapon poison, Nightshade venom, Demon Poison, and Pit Fiend venom. In PvP areas, it also makes the wearer immune to Nerve Venom.  This does not negate any poison effects already underway when the item is equipped.

For you science nerds, yes, spiders do have hearts.  Check it out here – the diagram is about halfway down the page.  Of course, the heart is in the top of the abdomen, not where one would imagine – but that’s neither here nor there.


 

So, hopefully you believe this to be a fitting tribute to that Arachnid of Arachnids – no, not Lolth – who probably tormented your party with multiple (spectacularly brutal) wipes when you first started playing.  The concept of the raid is to absolutely massacre parties who are not prepared, while still making those that are prepared sweat and panic a little – with a dash of cheap shots thrown in just to keep things interesting.  

A great deal of the inspiration for this raid actually came from The Lord of Blades – even to this day, that raid can make vastly over-leveled groups sweat.  When I sat down to think about it, the number one reason that kept popping up is you never get a second to breathe.  Ever.  And Bladesy is famous for his cheap shots and guerilla tactics;  since Whisperdoom was already infamous for similar methods in her own sick and twisted way, the above evolution, I feel, was only natural.

I, for one, really want to bring back that chilling feeling of OMFG IT’S WHISPERDOOM RUN YOU FOOLS!

 

Temple of Elemental Mycology

It was during a Temple of Elemental Evil run when someone pulled mushrooms from a chest and randomly asked, “Where do they come up with these names?”

Well, from actual mushrooms, of course – duh!   So, kick off your shoes, get comfortable, and prepare to learn a little bit of mycology – which will, in all likelihood, be completely and utterly useless (since you should never eat wild mushrooms unless you really, really know what you’re doing).  Woot!  #Learning!

fly agaric

The fly agaric, which will not double your height or make you jump higher.

Fly Agaric Mushroom  Amanita muscaria 

Found mostly in conifer and deciduous woodlands in the Northern Hemisphere, mostly Asia, Europe, and North America, although it has been spread to New Zealand, South Africa, and South America.  In the Southern hemisphere, it is largely treated as a weed and “infestation,” due to its mostly unnatural place in the ecology.  It is classified as a poisonous mushroom and may kill you if you consume enough of them, although deaths related to its consumption are mostly rare, and prompt medical treatment improves those odds to “extremely rare.”  most of them.  In some regions, it is boiled (to reduce the toxicity) and eaten as a psychoactive substance;  of course, this activity is not recommended due to the fly agaric’s notorious unpredictability in concentration.

Should you decide to ingest this mushroom (which is pretty clearly the inspiration for the classic Mario power-up mushroom), you may expect nausea, drowsiness, low blood pressure, sweating, salivation, auditory and visual hallucinations, mood changes, euphoria, relaxation, ataxia (lack of organized motor control), loss of equilibrium, delirium, agitation, confusion, central nervous system depression, seizures, and coma, all starting within 30-90 minutes and peaking at the three-hour mark, followed by lasting several days.  Doesn’t that sound delicious??  Of course, after eating one, the idea that a certain Italian plumber hallucinated dozens of trips into the Mushroom Kingdom starts making sense…

Fellow alchemists in Skyrim probably remember this one showing up under the name Fly Amanita.

puffball

Doesn’t it make you want to just inhale deeply?

Puffball Mushroom  division Basidiomycota

The puffball is actually a nickname to an entire line of mushroom species housed within a single division.  They all share one common trait, which is where the nickname came from – rather than having spores being dispersed from gills under the cap as most mushrooms do, the spores are produced internally, inside a spherical “puffball.”  As the mushroom ages, the spherical cap dries, grows brittle, and splits open, releasing the spores in a visible “puff,”  as shown in the image above.

Most of them are considered to be not poisonous (although that doesn’t necessarily mean edible);  they often are visibly similar to a number of shrooms with such delightful names as Death Cap, Destroying Angel, or the deadly family of Amanita mushrooms (of which the Fly Agaric is a member).  As with any mushroom in the wild, it’s probably safest to not eat it unless you have a trained mycologist with you – and this article doesn’t make you one.

Oyster

Slightly less appetizing when not part of a sautée, but still delicious.

Oyster Mushroom  Pleurotus ostreatus 

After the earlier fungal death soup, we have one of the most widely eaten mushrooms around!  Frequently torn up and used in stir fries or sautees, the oyster mushroom is consumed around the world, most often grown in tropical and temperate regions of North America and northern Eurasia.  If you’re curious, here’s a recipe for an Easy Oyster Mushroom Stir Fry from The Omnivore’s Cookbook.

earthstar

Don’t lie, you were thinking it, too… FUNGAL NINJA STARS!!!

Earthstar Mushroom  Astraeus hygrometricus (pictured)

Actually a group of less than a dozen recognized species, the earthstar mushroom family all shares one distinct trait.. and that is looking like a star.  (Go figure.  –Ed.)  I picked this particular species to showcase mostly because it had the best pictures.  Isn’t that a good reason?  The species found in North America are generally considered inedible due to their extreme toughness, but the ones grown in Asia are frequently sold as delicious treats in Indian markets.  It has also been used in ancient Chinese medicine for centuries to stop bleeding.

Rusty Gilled

It… kind of looks like chocolate cake on a plate from the 1970’s.

Rusty Gilled Mushroom Gloeophyllum sepiarium

This one is a little tricky to pin down to a specific species, mostly due to the fact that “rusty gilled” is more of a descriptor – an aspect of many species of mushrooms – rather than a name or nickname for most.  The closest to a specific is the Rusty Gilled Polypore, which is a wood fungus that causes brown rot.

yellowparasol

Aww, they’re like little yellow umbrellas! Or.. parasols.. #facepalm

Yellow Parasol Mushroom  Leucocoprinus birnbaumii

Frequently found in tropical and subtropical regions – or greenhouses – the yellow parasol, often called the yellow flowerpot mushroom, is (unsurprisingly) poisonous to eat.  Plan on having quite a few stomach cramps and severe gastrointestinal distress if you should decide to munch on one of these tiny little guys!  Other than that, there’s really not a whole lot of interesting tidbits about it.. which makes it seem kind of like they are in DDO.  They grow in clusters, so you always have too many of them to use…… just lying around the flower pots on the guild airship.. oh, yay, more yellow parasols.  Anyone need them?  Anybody?

I can haz brains??

I can haz brains??

Red Cage Mushroom  Clathrus ruber

A visually striking mushroom, this particular species grows in piles of decaying plant matter.  Originally from Europe, it has been spread to the point where it can be found nearly anywhere, including Asia, Africa, Australia, and North and South America.  The vibrant red color comes from lycopene and beta carotene, the same chemicals that provide the orange and red pigment to carrots and tomatoes.  As one might imagine from its diet, the mushroom has a smell akin to that of rotting meat, which attracts flies that thereby serve to spread the species.  its edibility and toxicity are largely undocumented in scientific form, although the stench would probably turn most folks away.. or so you would think.  In the egg stage, they’re sold as delicacies in some European and Asian markets under the nickname “devil’s eggs.”  After the egg stage, however – well, there’s one report from 1854 in Charleston, South Carolina, of a poisoning incident:

“A young person having eaten a bit of it, after six hours suffered from a painful tension of the lower stomach, and violent convulsions. He lost the use of his speech, and fell into a state of stupor, which lasted for forty-eight hours. After taking an emetic he threw up a fragment of the mushroom, with two worms, and mucus, tinged with blood. Milk, oil, and emollient fomentations, were then employed with success.”

Yeah, I’ll stick with known-to-be edible mushrooms, thanks.

octopusstinkhorn

Okay, that’s not creepy at all.

Octopus Stinkhorn Mushroom  Clathrus archeri

Something that seriously looks more like an alien life form from a sci-fi movie than a fungus found on Planet Earth, the octopus stinkhorn was indiginous to Australia and Tasmania before being introduced to Europe, North America, and Asia.  Much like the red cage mushroom in the same genus, it has a fetid odor reminiscent of decaying flesh which attract flies to spread itself.  While in the egg stage, it is edible, smelling and tasting of foul radishes and is recommended only for consumption during extreme wilderness survival circumstances.. and I can see why.  I’m not sure I could bring myself to eat something that looked like a facehugger bred with a carrion crawler and stank of rotting corpses.


Bet you didn’t know all of those came from real mushrooms, eh?  As with any brief voyage into the magical world of mushrooms, there’s one shocking and immediately apparent truth:  let the professionals handle thems.  Don’t go picking fungi and eating them wild.  You might not make it back.

But, we’re not eating the ones in DDO – no, we’re turning them into weapons!  Wait, of course!  They’re all related to Crafting Broccoli!  Now it all makes sense.  ^_^

Happy Slaying!

Snarlbear!

So the past few days were quite productive for my little squadron of digital characters.

Uncle Tubbs has long-since met his 2015 goals to get back to 28 followed by an ER.  Currently, he’s sitting at level 19 (due to a delicious and nutritious rock) on a rather wonky build which will eventually be his first Artificer past life, once I get up the gumption to get those remaining points.  Or tag along with one of Eshle’s characters on their last push to 20… who knows.

To make things even better, Fei-Hung the Shuricannon made it back to cap, as well!  Double Ding-Burger with Cheese!

ScreenShot00959

From left to right: Snuggles, Repede, and Uldwin.

In our little misfit bunch of players, there’s been a few Epic Reincarnations and a few more first forays into the Epic scene.  Which, as it turns out, is quite beneficial to all parties involved!  But, of course, most imporantly, me.  And by that, I mean that my newest “side project,” Uldwin the Druid – a.k.a. “Snarlbear” – actually gets to feel useful.  Since we’ve last visited our two-ton ursine friend, he’s grown to level 27 (wow!) and has slid over into Unyielding Sentinel with Fast Healing from Fury of the Wild twisted in.  Along the way, I’ve piled on every threat-generating enhancement, feat, Destiny ability, and spell buff I’ve been able to find – and with the five (5) AoE melee attacks he has (that work in tandem to make a chain of 7), with quite a bit of range, have turned him into quite the aggro monster.  The DPS isn’t quite all that, but with a three-digit armor class and PRR, plus regeneration and miss chances, he can take one hell of a beating.

Hence the nickname “Snarlbear.”  He snarls (a lot).  He is a bear.  He is Snarlbear.  And enemies go “HOLY $#!T IT’S A F%*#ING BEAR!!  Kill it with fire!!” while ignoring the rest of the party, which is killing them with impunity.

A healer-hate-tank, if you will.  Hunh… it seems I’ve turned yet another class into a divine war machine… whatever!  He’s grown into a seriously fun toon to play with friends… even though some of the party dynamics are a little atypical.

So who’s the tank?

The stumpy druid.

And the healer?

The toaster paladin.

Isn’t that.. a little backwards?  Like, shouldn’t the druid be the healer, and the toaster be the tank?

Are you gonna argue with the dire bear that’s foaming at the mouth?

Good point.

A few thoughts on the idea, though, that I feel I must clarify on.  First and foremost, I’m 100% aware that I could probably triple my DPS simply by switching to Winter Wolf form.  I’m well aware of that.  But it’s not a bear.  And while I’d lose some defense by switching out of Wolf form, the damage I’d gain would more than make up for it.  But it’s not a bear.  And after this past weekend, I’m pretty sure that there are at least a small handful of toons who would be somewhat disappointed at the loss of their beloved Snarlbear by him changing into Wolf form.  It is not the most efficient damage-dealer.  It does, however, turn you into a giant roaring hate-machine that catches minotaurs by the horns mid-charge and proves that the pre-beef does not, in fact, have the worst halitosis on Eberron.

And to me, that’s fun.  And fun is why we’re playing games in the first place, isn’t it?

To close out the thoughts on Uldwin (for this post.. –Ed.), I’ve composed a little parody of the classic Spider-Man theme song, which I think conveys the fun and affectionate whimsy I have playing his build quite well:

Snarlbear, Snarlbear

Does whatever Snarlbear wants

Can he swing

From a web?

No he can’t,

‘Cuz he’s too fat.

Oh $#1T!

It’s a $#&%@^#& BEAR!!

ScreenShot00961

…..awkward

I’ve also begun laying the groundwork for Tholgrin’s road to Epic Completionist, although that’s coming along much more slowly.  Which is a good thing, in a manner of speaking – the last thing I want to do is go all “wild and crazy” and get far too close to burnout like I did with Uncle Tubbs.  So I fully expect it to take a while – and I’m perfectly okay with that!  After all, even finishing the Destinies out is more than he was before, right?  

Anyhoo, I must run for now… certain ursine friends demand attention.

A Tubby Weekend

Oreo!! What are you doing?  Bad panda!

Oreo!! What are you doing? Bad panda!

It’s been a good weekend for Uncle Tubbs.

In spite of missing out on nearly a whole day’s questing XP during a Bonus Experience weekend (+30% for VIPs!) to topple The Shroud, he has just taken 27 and is within spitting distance of scoring Epic Completionist.

But wait, that’s not all!  He’s finished up his Green Steel belt to accompany his Green Steel boots – and would have a set of wraps, alas, they don’t exist;  although I might still make him a Green Steel shuriken.  To wrap up yet another project he’s been working on, I finally farmed enough Thunder-Forged Dwarven Ingots to complete his Level 26 Shadow wraps!  Woo-hoo!  So now he has a full set (well, as full as I intend to create at this point in time) of T-forged wraps.

  •         One set of 22 Blanks (not generally used, however)
  •         One set of 24’s with First Degree Burns and one with Touch of Shadows
  •         One set of 26’s with First Degree Burns/Wrath of Flames and one with Touch of Shadows/Wrath of Shadows
  •         And finally, a set of 28’s with First Degree Burns/Wrath of Flames/Crippling Flames

That was a LOT (a lot) of bleeding Ingots to farm, let me tell you!  And yes, there’s a purpose to having both Fire-based and Shadow-based sets;  there are lots of enemies where fire is less than beneficial, but negative energy damage works beautifully, and vice-versa.  As of right now, I have no intentions of grinding out enough materials to make a set of 28 Shadows, though…. as I type this, the mere concept of gathering up the materials for it make my mind want to bleed.

(Yes, I’m well aware that I could just upgrade the 26’s, but then I’d be out of a 26 pair, now, wouldn’t I?)

Okay, so the nerd in me just has to figure out how many coms and ingots that took.  That’s a total of 6 Blanks, 5 Tier Ones, 3 Tier Twos, and one Tier Three upgrade.

6 x (20 Ingots + 15 Coms) = 120 Ingots + 90 Coms

5 x (60 Ingots + 45 Coms) = 300 Ingots + 225 Coms

3 x (320 Ingots + 240 Coms) = 960 Ingots + 720 Coms

1 x (800 Ingots + 600 Coms) = 800 Ingots + 600 Coms

Sidebar:  Ingot cost for one (1) level 28 T-forged weapon:  1,200

It should be noted, even before I add up the totals, that the Tier 3 upgrade (not counting Phlostigons and scales) cost nearly as much as three separate Tier 2 upgrades.  Holy snot!  That’s another reason why I have little interest in making a set of 28 Shadow wraps.  I’ll be happy enough with my 26’s.  But, without further ado… the grand total I really don’t want to unveil…

2,180 Thunder-Forged Dwarven Ingots and 1,635 Commenations of Valor!

…..I need a life.  Desperately.  Two thousand Ingots on Tubbs alone?  Good gravy.  That’s… obsessive and borderline insane.  Oh, well, it’s done, and my mania can finally rest.  Until I decide one of my other toons needs some T-forged gear, that is.   Which will probably get shelved, seeing as how I’m currently down to precisely four (4) ingots.  Yeah, I sorta kinda cut that last upgrade close, didn’t I?  Oh, well!  Luckily, the Coms part of the equation is pretty much a moot point if you’ve been dutifully collecting them at the end of the majority of Epic quests.. which I do.  That makes affording the Epic Hearts of Wood nice and simple when you can collect them on multiple characters and pool Heart Seeds (purchased with Coms) together.

But, I digress.  The original purpose of this post wasn’t to wax obsessive on Uncle Tubbs’ wraps.  It wasn’t.  The intent was to discuss the burnout.

Late Sunday night, right around the time that Tubbs was most of the way through 26, I felt it creeping in.  That dull sensation which makes you want to log on to another toon and run with them, or see what’s on television, or effectively do anything but continue playing the one you are logged on as.  That’s the final stages of warning that you are approaching burnout, and immediate action should be taken.

Luckily, I was in a position to finish out the quest, make one quick run with socks in Jungles, and then park Uncle Tubbs on the ship before his engine started smoking.  It’s not terribly unexpected, to be honest – after all, he’d had a stupidly busy weekend and accomplished a lot of things I thought would either never see done or would take until sometime in December – but enough was enough.  The pressure had built to the point where I was in a very dangerous position of “not having fun” any more.. and once that box is opened, it’s really hard to close it back up again.

A new buddy of the little rag-tag bunch of misfits I’ve taken to calling friends (lunatics might be a better word. –Ed.) lately had recently ER’ed his monk into a Shuricannon build, and in all honesty, it made me really want to bring out Fei-Hung.  Alas, Fei-Hung has finished his 2015 Goals, and several of my other toons had not… but I still really wanted to spend a bit of time doing rear-line fighting.  So I brought out the next best thing, Madfinger the Artificer.  Shiradificer.  Whatever you want to call it.  He doesn’t have a T-forged repeater, and won’t have one for the near future, because, well, you just read why.  If I don’t have to farm ingots again for a while, I’m not going to.  Plus, Needle is still working quite well enough.  Rambling!  Anyhoo!

So Madfinger still needs to work his way to 28 for his Optional Epic Goal of 2015.  After last night, he’s settled in to 25 quite nicely – although his gear still isn’t fully optimized, I’m frankly not worrying about that too much.  I was logged on with Madfinger to decompress, and that’s what we did.  Although, of course, by “decompress,” I mean Socks, New Guy, and I decided to go farm The Weapons Shipment on Elite for a few Mysterious Baubles.  Or, at least, that was the intent, we got 100% skunked on named items after two runs (and many rerolls).  Also of note – two non-standard sorcerers, an artificer, and no “real” aggro management or healer make for one hell of an intense battle.  There were tense moments of near-wiping on both runs.. but one hell of an adrenaline rush, as always.

Sidebar:  Oh, and New Guy, you know who you are, but we haven’t discussed a nickname for you or whether or not you want to be addressed by a specific toon’s name, or what-have-you.  So we’ll deal with that when the time comes.  Or, I might just start arbitrarily calling you something, like I did with Socks.  Who knows?  (P.S. ask Socks about where that nickname came from.  It’s hilarious.  –Ed.)

All in all, it was quite an enjoyable and productive weekend.  I’m still not sure if I will be rushing through to complete Tubbs’ last level right away, or if I’ll let him decompress for a while, first.  The plan for him is to run through three Morninglord lives to acquire the Iconic Past Lives, as well as the two remaining Cleric Heroic past lives and cap those out.  While I’ve been chomping at the bit to make Epic Completionist, I’ve also been playing that toon a lot, and the idea of taking a bit of time away is sounding more and more appealing the more I ramble on about it.

I think I might just do that.  After all, it takes a lot longer to recover from burnout (if you ever do) than it does to just let the issue decompress on its own.. Although, I’ll probably go ahead and hit 28, first, just so’s Uncle Tubbs is ready to rock and roll whenever we do decide to get our Iconic on.