Chatting with a buddy of mine recently had us waxing nostalgic about some of the mistakes we used to make when we had first started playing DDO. Odds are likely, if you’re a veteran of the game, this post may give you some giggles; otherwise, it’s geared mostly towards new players to perhaps lend some advice.
Boring Disclaimer: as with any “opinions and suggestions” type piece, the following thoughts are just that, and not ironclad instructions that must be followed under penalty of death. Or are they?
I have no idea how this will be organized, so let’s just dive right in.
Melees: Pick a combat style and stick with it.
With the exception of extreme end-game uber-calculations (which we aren’t going into), there are merits and drawbacks to each of the major combat styles. Once you have your character concept in mind, and have decided on a combat style – Single Weapon, Two Weapon (also unarmed for Monks), Sword & Board, or Two Handed – it’s typically best to stick with it. In general, that means picking a weapon category as well, and plan on taking the appropriate feats.
So, typically, one of the following sets of feats:
- Single Weapon Fighting -> Improved Single Weapon Fighting -> Greater Single Weapon Fighting
- Two Weapon Fighting -> Improved Two Weapon Fighting -> Greater Two Weapon Fighting
- Two Handed Fighting -> Improved Two Handed Fighting -> Greater Two Handed Fighting
- Shield Mastery -> Improved Shield Mastery and Improved Shield Bashing
And one of the following feats, appropriate to the chosen weapon type:
- Improved Critical: Bludgeoning
- Improved Critical: Piercing
- Improved Critical: Slashing
If it seems unbearable to account for four feats on your build, load it up with as many as you can. The increased combat effectiveness for a fully-fledged master of their combat style compared to the alternative is phenomenal. Rangers are lucky in the sense they get most of their two-weapon line for free.
Avoid multiclassing right away… on your main, at least.
Generally speaking, my typical advice to new players is “Don’t multiclass until you know what you’re doing,” with a follow-up statement of “if you asked if you know what you’re doing, you don’t, yet.” This applies mostly to striking out and creating your own builds – of course, following an established build that someone else has already researched and tested (not theorycrafted) is an entirely different animal.
Most notably when it comes to multiclassing is that it can either go phenomenally well or phenomenally poorly, depending on how well it was planned, and – for characters just beginning their careers who don’t have a lot of past lives behind their belt – how well it synergizes together. A 50+ past life toon can get away with a lot more than a first- or second-lifer, and when it comes to highly complicated builds, that can result in heavy collapses.
On the other hand, half of what you will learn is from failed experiments. By all means, go forth and create a halfling Dexterity-based heavy armor fighter-wizard swinging a great axe while (attempting to) throw Magic Missiles. Just don’t do it on your main, which can create a foul environment where you feel that you have to play a disastrous build just to progress. Create a “disposable hero” for that whimsy… and be prepared to have fun with it. Which leads me right into…
Demo your next build, especially if it’s multi-classed.
As tempting as it is to jump right into that next life you’ve been salivating over, it can be wise to not do it immediately. This is particularly true if it’s already late at night, as for some complex builds, one mis-click at an early level can send a large amount of things for later levels swirling in disarray. The easy way to prevent this?
Try and keep one character slot free for demo toons*. By the time you have reached level 20, odds are likely you’ve unlocked enough favor to build Veteran Status II toons – commonly called “vet-7” since they start at level 7 – and almost guaranteed enough for vet-4. As these are once-per-server unlocks, you don’t have to keep doing it on every life. Even better is if you have access to one of the Iconic races, which allow you to start at level 15, along with coming with some (mediocre) gear to help with the demonstration process.
Bear in mind, many times when you build a demo toon, you’re not going to be anywhere close to full potential. Go ahead and put your demo toon into some content where they’re going to be underprepared – historically, I’ve used The Lords of Dust for this on Iconic demos. (Yes, walking into effective level 18 at level 15, intentionally. -Ed.) The purpose for this is to catch yourself and make note of common pitfalls in multiclass builds that you may not have thought about already, such as:
- Alignment restrictions – did you accidentally make your druid/monk neutral good instead of lawful neutral? Can’t take monk any more!
- Class restrictions – did you completely forget about Arcane Spell Failure on that Favored Soul/Sorcerer idea?
- Spreading yourself too thin – does this build require so many Action Points to come online that it won’t be ready until 21? Perhaps that should be reevaluated..
- Feat requirements – are you actually going to meet the requirements for the feats you need at the levels you want to take them at?
- Gearholes – do I have the appropriate pieces of gear available, or are there holes I need to account for?
- Are there any take-aways I need to address before building this for real?
It may seem like a lot of work, but investing 2-3 hours in a demo toon can save twenty to thirty levels of pain, if you do find yourself catching an “oops.”
*Also, don’t forget – even if you don’t have a slot free on your current server (which is ideal, as you still have access to all of your BtA goodies) – there are still plenty of other servers to “experiment” on.
Be prepared for “The Big Four.”
Potions of Lesser Restoration. Potions of Curse Removal. Potions of Remove Disease. Potions of Blindness Removal. Even if your chosen class cannot cast the spells inherently, there are potions for sale at various vendors across Stormreach; ideally, grab the potions at the Guild Potion Vendor in House K to score a discount. (The guild ones seem to be less likely to explode, too. -Ed.) Most of my characters that can even inherently cast “The Big Four” as spells carry a stack of the potions as well, for when the feces collides with the air circulator.
Each one of the conditions these readily available potions fixes can cripple your toon.
- Stat damage can leave your toon in a “helpless” state where they are unable to take any actions whatsoever and, in addition, suffer additional incoming damage. Stat damage is the most common of The Big Four and happens all the time in higher level content.
- Minor curses only cause a -4 penalty to everything (attacks, skills, and saves). That’s bad, but severe curses can prevent you from receiving incoming healing. The nastiest ones, inflicted by the Cursed Wound effect, have no maximum duration and last until you can get to a rest shrine or the curse is removed.
- Diseases run the gamut from mildly annoying to devastating, particularly if your saving throws aren’t exactly stellar. If you plan on venturing into mummy territory, carry both Curse Removal and Remove Disease potions or effects.
- Blindness can easily be negated by certain gear effects or a Topaz of Blindness Immunity; however, without it and venturing on your own, you may find yourself failing a saving throw and getting nailed with it. The first time you’re in a drow level and get struck with blindness that has a ten-minute duration with no solution will be the last time you’ll ever let that happen. It sucks.
If you’re a party-going type, there are also wands for The Big Four you can get. Wands have the added advantage of being able to bestow the effect on others; several of the potions state they have a “pour spout for application to friends,” but that is a dodgy effort at best. Wands are also cheaper (a single wand of 50 charges costs about half as much as a stack of 50 potions), but require the removal of your weapon to use, and are also prone to breaking from combat damage.
Immunity doesn’t always mean impunity.
Folks that come from a background of the pen & paper game, particularly the 3rd edition which DDO is based off of, are already well and familiar with this particular loophole.
Anytime something is listed with an immunity to status effects, it usually comes with a clarification, such as immunity to natural poisons. That doesn’t mean that the character is immune to all poisons.
DDO (and the pen & paper game) have three tiers of classifications for poisons, diseases, and some other effects: Natural, Magical, and Supernatural. Generally speaking, as one moves up the tiers, the effects become nastier; immunity to natural diseases, for example, is a relatively minor bonus, as it is the Magical and Supernatural diseases which cause the most headache and problems. The same goes for poisons, as well – you can be immune to natural poisons, but that won’t save you from getting paralyzed by Drow Weapon Poison.
In other words, before you get too excited about seeing the word “immunity,” double-check to make sure there isn’t a clarification next to it.
Constitution is not a dump stat. Repeat: Constitution is not a dump stat.
When creating a build, the term “dump stat” is used to refer to an attribute which has been either largely or totally ignored in order to allow points to be applied to other attributes. For example, a player designing a pure brute fighter might ignore Intelligence in favor of focusing on more physical statistics.
Constitution, however, is not a dump stat. Constitution measures how physically solid and resilient your character is, as well as determining your total number of hit points (staying alive is good) and your Fortitude saving throws, which is frequently used in saving throws versus deadly or crippling effects (staying alive is good).
In short, staying alive is good. Your DPS when dead is exactly zero. You can heal nothing when dead and disable no traps when dead. Constitution is not a dump stat. If there is only one piece of advice you take away from this article, this should be it. Can I repeat it a few more times?
Melees: Have an ooze/rusty solution.
Nothing will wreck your day faster than being unprepared when you turn the corner and see a pair of Grey Oozes slithering their way towards you with intent to glop all over your weapons and armor. Ideally, you’ll have an Everbright version of your chosen build’s favored weapon, but that ideal scenario may be a far time in coming. Farming Durk’s Got a Secret for a Muckbane (or two!) is a good alternative.
Some options if you don’t have Muckbane and are encountering oozes and/or rusties:
- First things first: Just because a weapon has Ooze Bane on it does not make it immune to ooze/rusty damage. Ooze bane just makes it deal additional damage to the target creature type. A steel sword of ooze bane will still be powder in a few swings.
- Handwraps do not take damage from oozes/rusties. It won’t be efficient if you’re not a monk, but your real weapons will be intact.
- Ranged weapons suffer no damage from oozes or rusties, but cause most types of oozes to split into smaller versions. While this increases the number of combatants, it is still preferable to risking the destruction of your primary weapon in a bad situation.
- Sun Flasks, while consumables, utterly annihilate oozes at low levels (in many cases one-shotting oozes on Elite through level 3 content). Don’t buy them from the DDO Store until you check with friends and guildies as they are typically available in vast abundance during and after Festivult.
- Wooden weapons do not take additional damage from rusties, but it does not make them immune to normal weapon wear and tear.
- Oozes can still damage wooden weapons and shields, but it is still advisable to use “disposable” wooden weapons on an ooze as opposed to your very valuable primary weapon.
- Not all quarterstaves are wood. Be sure to check the material type before potentially feeding your opponent a snack.
- Extreme Caution and/or Panic is advisable for unprepared Warforged dealing with Rust Monsters. Rust Monster Stun can stun toasters for 6 seconds, creating the helpless condition for bonus damage on top of the bonus damage already dealt by Rust Monsters. This effect can stunlock your toaster until his/her/other demise.
- Alternately, hide behind the ranged DPS/caster and whimper periodically.
Hang on to that returning throwing weapon…
For builds that aren’t explicitly dealing in ranged DPS, it may seem silly (at first) to have a returning throwing weapon. You’ll thank me (or whomever gave you the suggestion beforehand) later.
First of all, there are plenty of enemies you just can’t reach (or reach right away) without a ranged weapon. In addition, there are places where you need to be able to strike a target lever in another part of the room – granted, in many of these, there’s a breakable nearby with a bow and 10 (!!) arrows, just in case, but that doesn’t always happen. And, in the case of the above comment, a returning throwing weapon is great to have while kiting a pack of oozes that hunger for your flesh (and armor) if you haven’t found an Everbright or glass weapon.
For casters, it’s mostly nice just to be able to contribute something if you run out of blue bar and while you’re waiting for Echoes of Power to fill you back up. Sure, it might not be much, but “not much” is greater than zero.
And, finally, you never have to bother with ammo. (Primary ranged DPS builds can typically summon their own.)
Casters: You can Metamagic each of your spells independently.
Generally speaking, putting the metamagic feat on your hotbar and turning it on for everything is a recipe to have an empty blue bar. Instead, right-click the individual spell you want to crank up and use the options there to toggle any or all of the metamagics for that spell independently of the rest of your other spells. That way you can have an Ultimate Panic Button copy of Heal with all of your Empowers and Quickens on, and then a “less critical” version for general use… or just pick and choose which spells get boosted.
And a friendly reminder – your Spell-Like Abilities can always be metamagicked for no additional spell point cost. It’s a general consensus that every SLA should have every available metamagic turned on at all times. After all, it’s free, why not crank it?
Oddly, be happier about Medium Eberron Dragonshards than Larges.
You can check out the entire list of trade-ins and locations on the wiki, but my personal list of favorites are the experience elixirs and the Shard Trinket of Greater Restoration. The trinket is essentially a 20-charge clicky with no minimum level and no UMD requirement, which makes it an amazing resource to have when things go pear-shaped. There are plenty of other options, as well, including a Shard Trinket of Mnemonic Enhancement which might catch a few casters’ eyes. What is strange is the best turn-ins are hoarded around Medium Eberron Dragonshard Fragments, not the Large ones – your options for Large turn-ins are:
- Ethereal Rest Shrine Statuette which cannot be used in raids, when they’d be really useful;
- Medium Jewel of Fortune boost;
- or Kohl’s Gem which can literally only be sold for approximately 1,750pp (more or less depending on your Haggle).
So don’t be sad next time you pull a Medium Eberron Dragonshard fragment and your buddy pulls a Large. You got the better deal.
Also of note – at the end of each turn-in is a logic puzzle which hands out a reward if you get it correct. The bonus is pretty lukewarm, at best, so don’t panic too much if you can’t figure it out (or skip it entirely).
So that’s about all I can come up with off the top of my head for the Things I Wish I Had Known when I started playing the game. Next time, I’ll spill the beans on the embarrassing stories that led to these little enlightenments!