OCD

Things I Wish I Had Known

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:

 

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!

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The Most Loneliest Component

Primary casters in DDO have long been used to stocking up on loads of spell components and have a wide variety of means to ensure they don’t run out mid-fight – which is always an awkward situation.  Even secondary casters are known to keep a healthy stock for the exact same reasons.

There are, however, one group of components which you can fork into the garbage can forever.  I’m looking at you, druids, with your brand-new pass that just came out (although this has made me giggle for years, now).

A full level 20 druid has enough spell slots to keep the entire level 9 spellbook prepared at all times.  And at 10pp a pop, our good friend Sprig of Sacred Mistletoe looks like he’d be expensive.  (Or she, or other, I’m not judging.)  On the other hand, let’s take a look at all of the level 9 Druid spells…

And that’s the entire level 9 spell list.  There is an entire level of spells, for which a component has been created, a use for which does not exist.  Now, it’s frequent for me, as a front-line divine who doesn’t typically cast offensive spells on my Clerics (melee Warpriests) and Favored Souls (melee Warpriests) and multi-classes thereof (still melee Warpriests) to have entire spell levels of spells I choose to take that don’t require components.  But that’s just what I am selecting, which by happenstance does not require it.

This, on the other hand, is an entire spell level where the only way to consume the components is to either throw them away, sell them, or have them blown up in a hostile Delayed Blast Fireball.  So the next time you’re at a reagent vendor and stocking up on Druid bits and bobs, skip buying level 9 components.  You’ll never need them.*

 

*Until Standing Stone reads this post and retrofits one of the spells to require material components.

 

 

Flirting with Insanity

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

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

Checklist

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

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

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

EPOS Checklist

So what does all this mean?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Destinies

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

 

 

Projects

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

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

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

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

Adipostal  (formerly Immano of Llawriennal)

Level/Race/Class:  8 Halfling Rogue

Weapon of Choice:  Great Crossbows

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

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

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

Bholgrin Stoneforge

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

Weapons of Choice:  Dual longswords and fists

Spirit Animal:  Swiss Army knife

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

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

Fyrewoman, Pastor of Muppets

Level/Race/Class:  30 Halfling Monk

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

Notable Quirk:  Guildless by design

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

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

Kiljoen Lorebringer

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

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

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

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

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Smishy, being photobombed by Horace the Pseudodragon.

Smishy the Unfluffed

Level/Race/Class:  16 Dragonborn Fighter

Weapon of Choice:  Khopesh and Tower Shield to the face

Favorite Food:  Tacos

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

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

Whong Fei-Hung

Level/Race/Class:  30 Halfling Monk

Weapon of Choice:  10.8 Billion Shuriken to the Faceholes

Preferred Hot Dog Toppings:  Mustard, chili, and onions

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

Checklist as of 06-12-2017

Items in parentheses are finished Epic/Legendary versions.

…And the Rest of the 2016 Checklist

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

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

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

Because I’m insane.

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

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

Yeah, right.  Like that’ll happen.

Until next time, happy slaying!

 

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!

 

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!

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!