Stumpies

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

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

 


 

Melees:  Pick a combat style and stick with it.

 

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

 


 

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

 

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

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

 


 

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

 

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

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

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

 


 

Be prepared for “The Big Four.”

 

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

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

 


 

Immunity doesn’t always mean impunity.

 

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

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

 


 

Melees:  Have an ooze/rusty solution.

 

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

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

 


 

Hang on to that returning throwing weapon…

 

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

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

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

 


 

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

 

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On the Mines of Tethyamar

One need only take a few minutes on my character login screen to realize that I may, possibly, exhibit a preference toward dwarves when it comes to my character racial selections in DDO.

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The Gates of Ironvale Deep

Glancing through the files of old pen & paper characters – some from First Edition, when “dwarf” was a class – some Third Edition, and a ghastly number of Second Edition would reveal a scattered humanoid here and there, but well over 95% dwarves, as well.  One might even count the Firbolg character (2nd Edition Complete Book of Humanoids) as nothing more than an overly tall dwarf.  They sure play like one.

I confess that I have never once played an elf in pen & paper, and only did one life as such in DDO thus far.  Unless you’re counting Morninglords.  Then it’s two.

What I’m slowly getting at is that I might meet a few of the general criteria for being classified as “pro-dwarf.”  Maybe.

Which, when I first heard about Update 36’s Duel for the Underdark pack involving a lot of drow, meant I was largely indifferent from an excitement standpoint.  Don’t get me wrong – New Content!  YAY!  Although the power creep on the last few packs has been somewhat unsettling, but that’s neither here-nor-there, it’s still new content.  And that’s what’s important.  But the fact it’s drow-based?  That part I can’t see myself getting terribly excited over.

Except – it wasn’t drow-based.  I mean, sure, there are drow involved, but that’s not what the focus is on.  The focus is on the dwarves.  Especially so in Records of the Past, a quest which has one strolling through the abandoned settlement of Ironvale Deep, where everything positively screams stumpy.  The architecture, layout, the little details – such as every shrine having a statue of Moradin, the dwarven All-Father deity – is nothing short of a four-foot dwarfgasm.

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Statue of Moradin at the shrine, as it should be

That’s not to say there isn’t a shred of beard-iness in the other quests, oh-no-sir.  Each of the others has a distinctly stout element to it – be it rescuing slaves without killing them or dealing with a madman and his defiled legion of mining corpses, there’s a touch of it on every single quest.  And it’s delightful.

There is, however, a problem.  One minor issue.

No matter what you set your game audio to, Hal Stoutheart never shuts up.  Spend more than a few seconds in the public area and you’ll hear him bellowing through your speakers (or into your earholes, if you use headphones) in an incessant stream of what is clearly propaganda.  It’s an interesting and immersive touch for the first ten or fifteen seconds.

After that, you’ll start hearing your partymates saying things like “oh, no, he’s talking again, get in quest now!  Move!  Move!  Move!” and “aaaaaaaaaahhhh” and ”why does the Maker hate me so?

Please, if anyone from Standing Stone is reading this, for the love of Moradin, make Hal’s voice obey the volume sliders.  Please.  We’re begging you.  Everything else about the pack is lovely, truly, but that one thing that sends folks screaming from the public area.

And without giving away too many spoilers, there’s quite a bit of wonderful dialogue and interactions.  I’m pretty sure my favorite moment was not dwarf-related, at all, but rather offering to hold a mind flayer’s tentacles out of the way while it vomited on my boots.  Pure gold, that.  

Oh, and Oreo the Panda says hi.

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HAAAIIIIIIIIIIIII