Random Things From the Past Two Months

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

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The Cleric doing his thing, with a seated audience.

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

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

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

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

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

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Tholgrin’s Guide to Minimum Acceptable Standards

Minimum Acceptable Standards

We all gotta start somewhere…

As one with a severe case of alt-itis, I often find myself switching to toons I haven’t played in quite a long time.  Back when I was freely bouncing between them frequently and not caring a whim about my performance, the little inconsistencies between each toon’s loadout didn’t bother me;  as a more seasoned player, they drive me berserk to the point I won’t even play with the toon until he (or she) meets what I have since dubbed “Minimum Acceptable Standards.”

Now, before you get into a ruckus or all riled up and assume I’m calling your build something, keep in mind that what I’m referring to are what I believe to be universal standards as apply to all of my toons.  Every single one of them.  I’m not applying them to you or your toons, although they may serve as a guideline for some less-experienced players who are wondering “what the hell do I need to keep and/or get?” when looking at the mind-boggling array of items available in the game.  While the “Big Four” (blindness, curse, resto, disease) may be second-nature to more veteran players, I recall from personal experience when that wasn’t the case for myself, back when I first started.

So, without further ado, I present to you Tholgrin’s Guide to Minimum Acceptable Standards, in no particular order – since they all have to be met, anyway!  And keep in mind, when reading this, that these are what I consider to be ”universal,” in the sense that I believe every toon should have these resources available, regardless of class, build, or race, and not a checklist to make an “uber” toon.

  •         Some form of self-healing, however rudimentary.  Whether it’s natively-cast spells, scrolled with UMD, chugged from potions, or some other means, literally every character needs to restore hit points in some fashion or another.  Ideally, it is combat-capable – and by that, I mean something that can be pulled off in the middle of a right-proper fuster of clucks.  However, that’s not always the case, but downing half-a-dozen Cure Serious Wounds pots is better than absolutely nothing, if that’s your only option.  Higher level toons may consider stocking up on Silver Flame pots – while they’re not ideal, thanks to the “side effects” (-50% move speed, -10 all ability scores, -4 saves for 30 seconds), it’s more efficient than lugging about thousands of smaller potions.  Of course, potions are a last resort, but again, these are “minimum” acceptable standards, not ideal!
  •         A Remove Blindness solution.  Most commonly achieved with the cheap and readily available Potion of Remove Blindness sold by the adorable Guild Potion vendor in House K, it can also be achieved through Blindness Ward effects (at low or very high levels) or cast natively by a number of divine classes.  Green Steel clickies with Panacea also work, however, the limited number of charges make this a “less than ideal” solution, particularly in drow-heavy areas (they do seem to love their blindness, don’t they?).  However, it’s still better than nothing.  If you happen to not be in a guild, you can pick these up from Feather’s Fall Apothecary in House J, or the Potion Vendor under the red tent in the Marketplace.  Also found in the Portable Hole and other vendors.  Divines can cast this natively, and Shintao monks also have this as one of their toggles for Healing Ki.
  •         A Remove Curse solution.  Also easily acquired via the Guild Potion Vendor in House K (as are all the “Big Four”), Remove Curse is absolutely critical in certain areas, at least, if you want to have any real chance of survival.  Notable areas include The Haunted Library, most of the Demon Sands of Menechtarun, and walking into Caught in the Web without a huge stack of them is a recipe for being turned into drider facepaste.  While divines can cast this natively, it should be noted that just because a character has a healing spell does not mean they can remove curses.  Druids, for example, can heal and remove disease, but must find some other means of curse removal, while Bards are the opposite.  Shintao monks have access to this as a toggle for their Healing Ki, as they do for all of the “Big Four.”  If you only get one or two Healing Ki toggles, it’s a hard toss up between Remove Curse and Lesser Restoration;  resto is more widely valued, but when you need a curse removed, it is 100% invaluable.  If you don’t have access to the guild potion vendor, you can pick them up at the vendor in the Marketplace, or also in Feather’s Fall Apothecary in House J.
  •         A Restoration solution (multiple tiers).  Lesser Restoration potions, like the rest of the “Big Four,,” are readily available from the House K guild potion vendor.  If you don’t have access to him yet, for whatever reason, you can also find them at the Potion Vendor under the red tent in the Marketplace.  Plain Restoration potions exist, but are extremely rare in lootgen;  savor these, as they also restore one Negative Level each chug in addition to more ability score damage than the Lesser version (duh).  Greater Restoration cures all negative levels and all stat damage, but (to my knowledge) does not exist in any form of potion format.  It can, however, be scrolled (Guild Divine Scroll vendor in House K, or House of Wizardry in House J) if you can summon up the 44 UMD difficulty.  Shintao monks, once again, have Lesser Restoration available as a toggle from their Healing Ki finisher, Clerics in the Warpriest line can score an area Lesser Restoration with the Ameliorating Strike enhancement, and most Divine casters (including Druids, this time) can mimic most of the effect via the Heal or Regenerate spells – sans negative levels, of course.  For those with some Medium Eberron Dragonshards to spare, one can also acquire a Shard Trinket of Greater Restoration from Clarice Roden in the Marketplace, which has 20 charges of Greater Restoration and no minimum level.
  •         A Remove Disease solution.  Diseases may not seem like a scary thing to many young adventurers.  That is, until they watch in horror as that one failed roll rapidly turns into two, and then the debilitation escalates into crippling, character-destroying effect if left unchecked.  Many veteran toons have the saving throws necessary to avoid much of the effects of disease, but it is not always something you want to leave to chance – especially on a young toon’s life or when venturing into mummy territory, where Pernicious/Virulent Mummy Rot can really mess with your hair day.  Readily available from the Guild Potion Vendor in House K (notice he’s “the place” to go for the Big Four?), as well as the potion vendor in the Marketplace and Feather’s Fall Apothecary in House J.  Divine casters can cast the spell natively – although Bards cannot, even though they can Remove Curse.  Once again, Shintao Monks have this available as one of their Healing Ki toggles, and many classes become immune to “natural” disease – although most of the nastier afflictions you’ll come across will be magical in nature, and this is not entirely something you want to rely upon.
  •         Deathblock (after level 7).  At low levels, instant-death effects aren’t very common, so this isn’t something of concern to most young toons.  After approximately character level 7, however – the exact point also depends upon what content you are running – you should have a Deathblock effect on or available at all times.  Readily available from lootgen  items, as well as many named items (Bloodplate Armor is a wonderful solution for heavies, for example, able to tie in Deathblock and Fortification via a Blue Augment Slot), it should not be difficult to acquire, but is dang-near required for survival, particularly in beholder- or caster-heavy areas.
  •         Fortification (100% by level 8).  Ideally, you’ll start seeking Fortification immediately, but the ones available below level 8 are… less than ideal.  Still, 75% is better than 0%, given the option, but the earliest level you can reliably get 100% fortification is level 8.  For those at home wondering “what’s fortification,” you’re probably also wondering why your characters seem to suddenly get wrecked by absolutely massive hits completely out of the blue.  Those are enemy critical hits, and they are just as shredding to player characters as ours are to hostile mobs.  Some ranged and casters can get away without having a whole lot of fortification, but as a front-liner, it’s bloody mandatory for survival.  Unless you like the level 2 ogre Bloodknuckles hitting you for 184 bludgeoning damage in a single swing, that is.  In Epic levels, some mobs have Fortification Bypass, and some Heroic champs do, as well;  as such, going over 100% is not “wasted effort.”  If you don’t have Fortification on your melee toon, trust me and put it on – you will see an instant reduction in the time spent as a swirling rock.
  •         Stuff Bags.  While it probably seems so second-nature to veteran players, getting your threebies of bags as soon as humanly possible is definitely a minimum.  Otherwise, these “baggable” items will bloat your inventory and make adventuring quite a bit more annoying than it really needs to be;  set the bags to auto-gather and breathe a sigh of relief.  You can acquire the following bags for free on all toons with no access restrictions (yes, there are more available, but these are free):

o    Small Gem Bag from Fitzpat the Fence (Harbor)

o    Small Collectibles Bag from Baudry Cartamon (Harbor)

o    Tiny Ingredients Bag from Felix d’Cannith (Harbor), Maker (Cannith Crafting Hall), or Vertigo (Marketplace)

o    Small Ingredients Bag from Jeanselme Brutecius (Tower of the Twelve); note he will try and give you one at 40 Favor for The Twelve, so if you want a second, leave the first in your bank, as they’re exclusive.

  •         A Fire Resistance solution.  Be it an item with a permanent enchantment, an augment, spell, or potions, Fire is the one element that you will come across almost universally in your travels.  Of course, there are situations where other elements come up in abundance (except perhaps Sonic), but virtually every hostile arcane and divine will cast some form of Fire-based spell at you, lava exists with alarming frequency (if one were to apply real physics, that is), and fire traps or exploding barrels are bloody everywhere.  If you only have one Elemental Resistance solution for all time, it should be fire, and should be in such abundance as to either be permanent (item) or in quantities where it might as well be permanent (stacks of 100 Fire Resistance potions).  My personal preference is an item for Fire, and the remainder can be done however needs-be;  but Fire is one that is, in my experience, a non-negotiable for every toon, front-line or not, and at every level.  The good news is that they’re readily available and relatively easy to craft, even at moderate to low crafting levels.  Obviously, just one resist isn’t going to cover every base, and while you’re out stocking up on Fire resist pots, you might as well grab Cold, Acid, and Electricity while you’re at it, unless you can cast the spell natively… but get Fire as an absolute minimum.

It should also be noted that there are wands readily available for “The Big Four.”  These, while somewhat more restrictive in use than potions, have the distinct advantage of being able to be used on other players.  (Several of the potion descriptions state they have a “funnel” and can be used on other players, but the actual execution of such a feat is… unreliable, at best.)  If you can use wands, they are notably cheaper than an equivalent stack of potions, if platinum is actually of concern in your budget.  On the other hand, wands also have the nasty tendency to break in combat, and require the user to switch weapons to the wand and then back to the weapon to use – which can be rather annoying in a heated battle.  The same goes for Cure Wands.. and don’t get me started on the Eternal Wand of Cure Minor Wounds (a.k.a. “the annoying thwip-stick”).

What follows are a few optional, but most definitely desired, things to have checked off.  They aren’t considered to be “minimum” standards, however, but if you can mark these as done, they will most certainly pay off in the long run.

  •         Death Ward (after level 7).  Not to be confused with its cousin Deathblock, above, Death Ward serves a different purpose.  Yes, Death Ward prevents instant death effects like its cousin, but it also prevents 100% of Negative Energy damage (Necrotic Ray, Cause Wounds, Harm, etc.) and makes the recipient immune to Negative Levels by the same regard.  Anyone who has watched their awesome toon get neg-leveled into oblivion knows full well the difference between a Death Ward clicky (Visor of the Flesh Render Guards, Eternal Flask of Death Ward) or spell being the difference between having your character (and blue bar) minced to pieces and waltzing away carelessly.  If you have the faction coms to spare for the Clerics of Eveningstar, you can trade one com in for an unbound Potion of Death Ward.  Not a bad exchange for toons whose coms are otherwise gathering dust.
  •         An XP Booster (multiple items).  Almost every veteran character has at least one of these items available, somewhere.  The entire group of these are casually referred to in PUGs as a “Voice,” the statement of which acts as a reminder to put one’s XP booster item on before the completion of the quest – that stacking 5% adds up over time!  There are several different versions, as outlined below:

o    Voice of the Master – Delera’s Tomb

o    Mantle of the Worldhspaer – Ruins of Threnal

o    Pale Green Ioun Stone – Shadow of a Doubt

o    The Master’s Gift – made from a Voice, a Mantle, and 5 Greater Tokens of the Twelve

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

  •         A Raise Dead solution.  While some put this in their “minimum” acceptable standards, I file it away as optional, mostly since some builds (i.e. pure fighter or barbarian) probably won’t have the snuff to reliably make it happen.  There are scrolls available for Raise Dead, Resurrection, and True Resurrection from the Guild Divine Scroll Vendor in House K, as well as Raise Dead scrolls being found in the House of Wizardry in House J, all starting at 36 UMD difficulty and going up from there.  You can craft Green Steel triple positive items with a single shot of Raise Dead as a clicky, and the unbound and not exclusive (!!) Ring of the Ancestors, which can be farmed from the Slavers of the Shrieking Mines quest in the Restless Isles.  The Ring requires a Good alignment, however, and also only comes with one charge per rest – as such, I wouldn’t refer to them as “solutions,” but rather, “better than the alternative.”  The same goes with the elven divine racial Undying Call ability, which allows a 6th level elven divine to resurrect an ally, albeit with a pretty brutal cooldown.

Well, there you have it!  A little (srsly?  Little?  –Ed.) list of the things which I consider to be mandatory across every toon, and must-haves where available for the majority of the rest.  I should point out that this has no relation to the items which are on my “Checklist” of things I want to get my army of characters for 2016 – that’s tracked in a spreadsheet and something entirely different!

Happy Slaying!

 

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!

 

More Days Meh

In spite of the absolute lack of content on the blog, I’m still alive and kicking.

Sort of.

Those who follow it regularly might recall my (rather loopy) post-operation post with some details about the hemicolectomy to remove a cancerous tumor on my right colon.  Since then, I’ve had surgery twice more to open up my leg and remove infected tissue – which is still being treated with an open wound with packing changed daily.

Sufficiently grossed out yet?  Hey, feel better – at least you’re not here, looking down at said open wound and the drainage.  Now that’s gross.

Some days are better than others, but we’re slowly getting to the stage where more days are “meh” than bad.  I won’t go so far as to say we’re having “good” days, yet, since being so much as a few minutes late on prescription pain pills results in a lot of bad mojo.  I’ll start saying we’re having good days when I can get off those and dwarf up a bit more.

Since I haven’t been working, though, I’ve had some time to spend in-game when I’m not comatose in bed.  And while I haven’t come up with a “challenge” list to top Thol’s Goals for 2015, I have established something equally crazy which I dub “The Checklist.”

Do not confuse that with Teh Czeqqcklysst, which is something completely different.

Checklist as of 03-19-2016

The Checklist evolved from the first goal I had for the year, which was simply to get wings for everybody.  Then I thought about how I’m notorious for TRing folks before they’re ready, and this time I was going to make sure they had an Ioun Stone before I TR’ed them.

Then that became an Ioun Stone and Green Steel.  Then Temple crafting was added on.  Then… you get the idea, until it grew into its current (psycho) iteration.

The idea is to ensure that every “regularly played” (i.e. not silly toons, such as Smishy the Unfluffed which followers of @TholgrinDDO on Twitter have been introduced to already) toon is not only prepared for the next life, but prepared, stacked, and 100% fully pimped out nerd-style.

I’ve done a bunch of work on it already, but as is clear, there’s still quite a bit of road to go.  Several toons are already “Ready For Wings,” in that everything else is checked off except for having a past life, but they’re temporarily being pre-empted by Gorruk’s current side trip;  I’ve made him take on a Cleric life (currently level 12) for the sole purpose of having the Healing Word past life feat, that he may use that and his Past Life Fast Healing (a.k.a. “regeneration”) to keep kickin’ around as a full-fighter without any blue bar whatsoever.  Because that’s obviously a logical solution to being a full fighter with no blue bar, duh.

Sheesh, get with the program.

And since I don’t feel like typing a whole bunch of new content, here’s some pictures and captions of recent shenanigans in no particular order.  I’m lying, since I posted them as I scrolled backwards, so they’re in reverse chronological order.  As if you cared.

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Gorruk the “Cleric” Pseudo-Fighter with his purdy new maul

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Mattok showing Harry who’s boss in the Temple of Elemental Evil

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Smishy the Unfluffed, obligatory gnome extraordinaire, dual-wielder of the Awesome Broom of Exquisite Pain (left) and Ultimate Sweeper of Death (right)

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Soloing The Dreaming Dark, Zoo-Style (and as EvenNote pointed out, the wolf interloper brought Funyuns)

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Holy Crapola!  Look at all the people!

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For those of you scared of the Epic Temple, it’s totally worth it.  These are some of the optionals on NORMAL.

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I introduced Esh, Vonn, and Wreist to Caught in the Web.. so of course we 4-manned it.  Booyah!

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+5 CON Tome on my first Temple of the Deathwyrm run?  Don’t mind if I do!

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Celebrating Wreist’s first Shroud run.. of course, two-manned, and with a naked victory dance on the altar at the end!  Who needs a full group to learn?  (Wreist’s nerves might tell a different tale..)

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Giant… that’s just gross.  Seriously, bro.  Toilet paper.  Just… EW.  Even Mini-Harry won’t look at it.

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The Four Musketeers, in increasing order of height and decreasing order of sneakiness.  From left to right, Orsyn (me), Socks, Esh, and Vonn.

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Advanced Boss Mocking:  Leave your Pocket Harry juggling fireballs the entire fight.

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The Generation Gap:  Wreist’s first melee life, playing as a copy of Tholgrin’s KotC build.  These two were utterly *terrifying* when side-by-side.

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The most secret of Dangerous Artifacts kept under tight (?) security in The Twelve’s secret storage facility.

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Thol’s collection of vorpal weapons, pulled from end reward lists in the Harbor over fifteen minutes.  Because it will totally remain a rare effect when it is extended to level 1 for availability…….. (that’s sarcasm)

And that’s all the photos I feel like posting for now!  The meds are starting to kick in, and I feel the need to go put peanut butter on a graham cracker and eat it.  And if you haven’t tried it, yes, it’s bloody delicious.  Go do it.  Now!

Get to the choppah!  The choppah of graham crackers!


 

I was going to put some stuff about the medical condition here, but apparently WordPress doesn’t want me to, because it’s wiped it twice.  So pfft.  I might type it up later, but at the moment I’m feeling more of the “sod it” variety.  Happy Saturday!

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!

Tholgrin’s Guide to Great Crossbows

Orsyn Burr has had a rough life.

Well, it didn’t start off that way.  At first, he was my initial delving into the Palificer Artadin build, which was later shattered by the Palificer Artadin 2.0.   Go figure.  Since then, he’s been largely ignored.

It was around the time I had logged Orsyn back on after the nudge to level cap got raised, where I realized something awful:  I have had one of every “main class” – wizards and sorcerers excluded – in my roster since shortly after I started playing;  with Felldar, my former “rogue” going, well, rogue, and taking over Orsyn’s spot, it’s only fair for Orsyn to turn the tables and, well, go rogue.

So he did.

He’s now sitting pretty in Epics, a level 22 “Master Mechanic and Ghost Extraordinaire,” but I learned a few lessons while bringing him up to snuff.  Yes, there’s a purpose to this infuriatingly long and rambling introduction, and that is that there are very, very few named Great Crossbows available.

So here are all of them.  Yes, all of them.  It’s not as scary as it sounds.   

Author’s Note:  One advantage to Great Crossbows over Heavy Crossbows is that any vorpal hit from a proficient user will create an automatic, no-save knockdown effect on non-red-named enemies.  While it’s not frequent enough to be used as a primary crowd control source, it is a nice benefit.  Oh, in addition to the fact that Great Crossbows hit with the impact of an anti-materiel rifle.


 

Tholgrin’s Guide to Every Named Great Crossbow in the Game

Oladren’s Great Crossbow

Minimum Level 1

+0 Great Crossbow, 1[2d8] base damage, Cold Touch (+1 cold damage on hit), Keen I (expanded crit range without feat).  Enhanced critical range of 15-20.

Item Found In:  The Collaborator end turn-in reward, guaranteed pop.

Personal Notes:  Playing a mechanic at low level, particularly solo, is rather tough.  This bow makes things a little easier with the enhanced critical range, which makes seemingly every other shot an explosive crit.  While it doesn’t necessarily hold up all the way to the next named great crossbow, it’s certainly one you can pack heat with for a few levels.  Useless against undead, though.


 

Temple of Elemental Evil Great Crossbow (Weapon Version)

Minimum Level 7

+3 Great Crossbow, 1.5[2d8] base damage, 1% Elemental Vulnerability (specific to weapon type);  can be upgraded to include Seeker +4, Crippling (-50% enemy movement speed on critical), Elemental Blast (+1d10 elemental damage specific to weapon type on crit, additional 4d6 elemental on vorpal), Purple Augment Slot, and either a +2 or +4 mythic weapon boost with super-rare mushrooms.

Item Found In:  Temple of Elemental Evil Part One, Part Two, or End Rewards.

Required for Above Upgrades:  200 Rusty Gilled Mushrooms from ToEE Part One, 50 Yellow Parisol mushrooms from ToEE Part Two, 50 of the appropriate elemental mushrooms from ToEE Part Two, and optionally a Red Cage or Octopus Stinkhorn mushroom (although the return on investment for anything beyond Tier 2 is debatable).

Personal Notes:   When it comes to Great Crossbows, one could consider it their “thing” to have massive critical damage.  Some weapons that are less “crit-killer-ey” don’t get quite the same punch as a ToEE weapon, but for crit-heavy weapons, they can be delightful.  Just make sure to farm the Heroic mushrooms on an Epic-level character, or be prepared for a seriously long haul.


 

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Leverage

Minimum Level 7

+3 Great Crossbow, 1.5[2d8] base damage, Lesser Human Bane (+1d6 bane to humans), Heartseeker I (+3d6 untyped damage on crit), Frostbite (+1% vulnerability on hit), Insightful Sneak Attack Bonus +2, Purple Augment Slot, Mythic Weapon Boost +2, Mythic Shield Boost +2

Item Found In:  Temple of Elemental Evil rare chests, end chests, extremely low drop rate

Personal Notes:  If nothing else, this is one sexy-looking great crossbow!  I glamered this almost immediately and haven’t looked back.  I also found myself leaning towards Leverage over the ToEE Great Crossbow I had made, mostly due to the versatility wherein Frostbite (in spite of its name) causes 1% damage vulnerability to all damage types, not just the element in question on the ToEE Great Crossbow with the same minimum level.  On the other hand, Leverage does have a pretty rough drop rate – I’ve pulled one out of over a hundred runs of both parts of the Temple and countless chests on each run – so in its absence, the ToEE weapon is a solid alternative.  But not nearly as centerfold-worthy.


 

Green Steel Great Crossbow

Minimum Level 12

+5 Great Crossbow, 1.5[2d8] base damage, evil damage bypass, various effects

Base Item Found In:  Created from various ingredients in the Vale of Twilight and upgraded with ingredients found in The Shroud raid and/or Epic Devil Assault

Personal Notes:   The big problem with “grading” Green Steel as a generic is that there are far too many permutations to summarize in a single sentence.  One might be a bloody demon-killer while another might struggle to plink kobolds in the Harbor.  As such, I’m going to leave this here as a “your mileage may vary,” and keep it at that.  On the other hand, considering what becomes available next level with Divine Artillery, even the best Green Steel great crossbows are up for some serious competition.  However, it should be noted that Green Steel has Evil damage bypass, which thanks to The Archon’s Trial and specifically Rhi’enne the Planetar’s singlehanded efforts (read: absolutely retarded Evil-aligned DR in Epic), is greatly in vogue as of late.


 

Divine Artillery

Minimum Level 13

+5 Great Crossbow, 2[2d8] base damage, Deception III (5% chance to bluff enemies on hit, +3 sneak attack, +6 sneak attack damage), Eldritch III (+3d4 Force damage on-hit), Vorpal (auto-kill on natural 20 if 1,000 HP or less; otherwise, 100 untyped damage), Stealth Strike (-15% ranged threat), Flametouched Iron (bypass Good DR), Purple Augment Slot

Item Found In:  The Devil’s Details,  end chest

Personal Notes:  Don’t let the fact this thing’s appearance is akin to a toy manufactured by NERF and Fischer-Price fool you, the Divine Artillery is the Noisy Cricket of great crossbows.  This thing hits like a freight train and grows to retarded damage ratings with the top tier of the Mechanic tree filled in.  As in, I feel fully comfortable saying “this weapon will carry you from 13 to 20.”  That kind of stupid damage.  However, get a cosmetic… because nobody will take you seriously with that golden shiny pew-pew  toy in your hand.


 

Alchemical Great Crossbow

Minimum Level 12 (blank), 16 (Tier 1), 18 (Tier 2), or 20 (Tier 3)

+5 Great Crossbow, 2[2d8] base damage, various effects

Base Item Found In:  The Master Artificer end chests

Personal Notes:  Technically, the “blank” should be filed with the blank Green Steel, since they’re both ML12.  However, Green Steel stays ML12 while the Alchemical skyrockets as you add effects to it.. and granted, some of them are pretty tasty.  On the other hand, in order to see much of any effect at all, the weapon needs to be at Tier One,  where it automatically jumps to ML16.  That, in my opinion, causes it to be filed above the rest.  As with Green Steel, you’ll pretty much have to already be a higher level to get the materials needed to craft it, as they drop only from level 20+ raids.  Having personally cranked out the effort to create one of these Alchemical Bad Boys, I’ll summarize it with the following:  “Sure, go ahead and make one if you already happen to have the ingredients, or are going to run the raids for fun anyway.  But have to recommend against farming explicitly for Alchemical weapons – there are better alternatives with less effort available.”


 

Did anyone else notice this humongous jump in levels, or was it just me?

Thunder-Forged Alloy Great Crossbow

Minimum Level 22 (blank), 24 (Tier 1), 26 (Tier 2), or 28 (Tier 3)

+9 to +12 Great Crossbow, 3.5[2d8] to 4.5[2d8] base damage, metalline, various effects

Base Item Found In:  Created at the Magma Forge in the Ruins of Thunderholme for 20 Thunder-Forged Dwarven Ingots and 15 Commendations of Valor

Personal Notes:  I have long been quoted as saying, “If you’re going to be taken seriously in Epic, go T-forged or go home.”  Thunder-Forged weapons are some of the most ridiculously powerful in the game, and the raw damage alone can even make blanks more viable than other alternatives.  Great Crossbows are no exception to the rule.  They’re sexy.  Farming the ingredients for a Tier One (grand total of 80 Ingots and 60 Coms) isn’t a terribly agonizing ordeal, either.  “Make one,” says Tholgrin – at least a Tier 1/level 24, since there are alternatives at 26 if you don’t feel like farming too many materials.  Seriously, though.  Make one.


 

Epic Temple of Elemental Evil Great Crossbow (Weapon Version) 

Minimum Level 26

+7 Great Crossbow, 5[2d8] base damage, 1% Elemental Vulnerability (specific to weapon type);  can be upgraded to include Exceptional Seeker +5, Crippling (-50% enemy movement speed on critical), Greater Elemental Blast (+4d10 elemental damage specific to weapon type on crit, additional 6d6 elemental on vorpal), Purple Augment Slot, and either a +2 or +4 mythic weapon boost with super-rare mushrooms.  Also becomes part of the Epic Elemental Evil set with a set of armor, providing a +20 Quality bonus to Melee and Ranged Power as well as Universal Spell Power while both are equipped.

Item Found In:  Epic Temple of Elemental Evil Part One, Part Two, or End Rewards.

Required for Above Upgrades:  200 Epic Rusty Gilled Mushrooms from Epic ToEE Part One, 50 Epic Yellow Parisol mushrooms from Epic ToEE Part Two, 50 of the appropriate Epic elemental mushrooms from Epic ToEE Part Two, and optionally a Red Cage or Octopus Stinkhorn mushroom (although the return on investment for anything beyond Tier 2 is debatable).

Personal Notes:   I struggle to get excited about the Epic ToEE Great Crossbow.  In Heroics, your options are very limited at that point;  in Epics, one can easily farm T-Forged Ingots at a much faster rate for an arguably better end product (for one point, the difference in base damage of the 26 versions – 1[2d8] – must immediately compete with the +7 [ToEE] vs. +11 [T-forged] enhancement bonuses difference).   Now I’m not saying that the Epic ToEE Great Crossbow is inherently bad, but  the return on investment when directly compared with a T-forged makes it a rough comparison to lean in favor of directly.  Your mileage may vary, particularly if the Epic Elemental Evil Set Bonus is incorporated.


 

Epic Leverage

Minimum Level 26

+7 Great Crossbow, 5[2d8] base damage, Greater Human Bane (+3d6 bane to humans), Heartseeker VI (+13d6 untyped damage on crit), Frostbite (+1% vulnerability on hit), Insightful Sneak Attack Bonus +6, Purple Augment Slot, Mythic Weapon Boost +2, Mythic Shield Boost +2

Item Found In:  Epic Temple of Elemental Evil rare chests, end chests, extremely low drop rate

Personal Notes:  Honestly, I can’t have any real-world comments on the actual play-effectiveness of the Epic version of Leverage, since I haven’t found it yet.  However, given the many parallels between the Heroic and Epic pair of Leverage vs. ToEE Great Crossbow, I’d have to wager money on Epic Leverage being the winner… if you’re lucky enough to have one.  I’m not.  Sadface.


 

Legendary Green Steel Great Crossbow

Minimum Level 26

+14 Great Crossbow, 5[2d8] base damage, various effects

Base Item Made From:  Legendary level 30 content ingredients

Personal Notes:  This is going to be extra thin.. mostly because their modular nature makes the new Legendary Green Steel weapons highly customizable.  As such, their combat effectiveness can range from “amazing” to “meh” and everywhere in between – your mileage may vary.


 

Epic Divine Artillery

Minimum Level 28

+12 Great Crossbow, 5.5[2d8] base damage, Deception IX (5% chance to bluff enemies on hit, +9 sneak attack, +18 sneak attack damage), Eldritch VI (+6d4 Force damage on-hit), Sovereign Vorpal (auto-kill on natural 20 if 3,000 HP or less; otherwise, 300 untyped damage), Stealth Strike (-15% ranged threat), Flametouched Iron (bypass Good DR), Orange Augment Slot

Item Found In:  Epic The Devil’s Details, end chest

Personal Notes:  Much like its Heroic counterpart, this thing hits like a weapon out of a.. a… a something epic and awesome that hits really, really hard.  In the hands of a Mechanic with the bonus Sneak Attack damage built up, this can punch holes through enemy heads at an alarming rate.. and that’s a good thing!  Just make sure, as before, to wear a cosmetic… because who wants to show up to fight Legendary Malicia with a NERF crossbow?


 

And there you have it!  While it’s not the most red-headed of the red-headed stepchildren (that poor distinction goes to darts), it’s definitely a weapon category that has only a few players in it.  Of course, they are players that hit like an artillery barrage, but that’s beside the point.

I hope this little dose of Tholgrin’s Patented Research Made Easy® has helped in some way, shape, or form!

Happy Slaying!

P.S.  Have a request for a future post or “Tholgrin’s Guide?”  Leave it in the comments below!