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!



32 Raids in 24 Hours

This past weekend was a holiday one in the United States, and I would like to think I took good advantage of that fact.  Let’s start at the end and go backwards.  Why?  Because I can.

The final thing that happened before I logged off was the acquisition of the one and only Hellpuppy, the Monster Manual creature companion for slaughtering a metric butt-ton of Hellhounds.  When shrunken down to such small dimensions, he kind of looks more like a disfigured chihuahua, but I suppose that adds to the charm in its own way.


Ain’t he adorable?  I named him Roger.  Because, reasons.

Immediately prior to that was the completion of a completely berserk number of raids in a single day.  Because of course I couldn’t just leave last years’ 20 Shrouds in 24 Hours stunt alone, now, could I?  Of course not.  That would be silly, and while I am silly, I don’t do silly things.  Often.  I’m lying.  Frequently.  But that’s all beside the point.

Let’s take a quick gander at what transpired on Holiday Monday alone:

  •         Twenty runs (in a row!) of Fire on Thunder Peak (resulting in the Dragon Masque for Whong Fei-Hung the Halfling Shuricannon and Mini-Pimp, which trumps his previously meh helmet (that offered almost nothing), adding Negative Energy each star (which he throws at the rate of 1.2 billion per millisecond), adding Deception (yet another per-star proc), Insightful Sneak Attack (to a Ninja Spy’s already per-star sneak attack), and Deadly XI.  Okay, the Deadly XI is already on the Epic Dawnbringer, but now it’s not star-specific.)  Oh, and (((excessive parentheses))).  I may or may not have proposed marriage to Tharaxata the Dragon while we were having alone time.  Folks that were present in the raid may or may not have heard me bellowing “Why won’t you love me?!?” while flinging my halfling monk at her chest.  It was the bouquet of flowers in his off-hand she was so enamored with, I’m positive of it.  None of that makes sense.  But, then again, none of the whole day made sense.
  •         Three runs of Legendary Shroud, on various toons (Wally the Ghost Archer, Whong the Shuricannon, and Orsyn the Ghost Mechanic).  Lots of materials for Legendary Green Steel, which puts me that much closer to finishing off Tholgrin’s LGS Great Axe.  Also started up an LGS Great Crossbow for Orsyn, and an LGS Shuriken for Fei-Hung.
  •         Two runs of Legendary Hound of Xoriat (two successful, that is, there were actually four, but the puppies glitched out on two runs and had to be restarted) on Fei-Hung and Orsyn.
  •         Four runs of Legendary Tempest’s Spine which resulted in not a single set of the Leathers of the Celestial Archer which Orsyn has been drooling over since they came out.  At least they can be purchased for Xorian Runes, once I acquire enough of them – which in no way led to me running LHoX.  Where the Leathers also have a chance to drop.  Nope, not related at all.  For honests.  I’m lying.  It seems I’m doing that a lot, today.
  •         One run of The Mark of Death on Bholgrin Stoneforge the Romunkadin Favormaster (12 Pal/7 Mnk/1 Rog) which resulted in everybody getting skunked (except for Masterwork Tapestry Shreds).  Sadface.
  •         Two runs of Defiler of the Just on my primary Paladins, Tholgrin Stoneforge (Knight of the Chalice brute) and Mattok Shalefinder (Vanguard hate-tank), which resulted in someone getting lucky and pulling the Boots of Blessed Travels and Mattok still not having a Fellblade. Meh.  I can’t get too greedy, though, as Mat pulled Ultimatum on Friday.  Woohoo!

For those of you keeping track at home, that is thirty-two raids in a single day, with a lot of toon-switching and a lot of bypass timers.  Well, a lot more than is demonstrated above, because as we go back in time, the weekend was still rolling.

Okay, not rolling nearly as quickly as the weekend ended, that’s for sure.  Monday was off-the-wall insane.  There were a number of raids pulled from Friday through Sunday, though, which I’m sure was bolstered by the +5% per-party-member Buddy Weekend Bonus.  (After all, a full raid party then nets +55% XP.)  I won’t bore you with the details of the other three days, as they’re nothing compared to what you just read.

As for an update on the rest of the toons – Uncle Tubbs is now sitting tight at 28 on his “rogue” life, wherein he’s essentially a carbon copy of Orsyn Burr’s build, just with a wizard level that I couldn’t be arsed to Lesser Reincarnate out.  The goal being to rack up Tubbs’ first Deep Gnome past life, as well as score a Heroic Rogue past life, as well.  After that, it’s only Fighter and Ranger left to strike up a Heroic Completionist.

Aapex Predator the Paladin pulled his Jack Jibbers’ blade over the weekend, and Khail Ironfist the Shintao Monk finished his Green Steel Weave Boots, getting both of them marked off the Checklist.  In addition, even though he was “excluded” from the ‘List for Ioun Stones, I went ahead and unsuppressed his.  Now that’s the 20th Unsuppressed Ioun Stone on this account, and I can finally put the Dreaming Dark to rest.  For good.

I’ve come to the conclusion that my pure Artificer, Madfinger Runewarden, is currently a hot bloody mess.  Note I am not stating the class is a mess, just that toon – I did several runs with him whilst trying to get his Jack’s blade, and each one made me feel the need to ingest the contents of a box of dishwasher detergent.  Rather than finish up his farming amidst screaming fits of hateful pseudo-teenage angst, I have decided that Bholgrin’s quest for Epic Completionist (that’d be EC #3 for the account) will be delayed by one Epic Career, during which point I will repurpose Madfinger into a hybrid melee-ranged artificer in much the same theory as made the Palificer Artadin a delight to play.  The only further inquiry is whether to go Bastard Sword or Dwarven Axe for the melee part – there are still a few minor details to iron out.

Hopefully, that will make the rotund engineer more enjoyable to play.  Plus, his skills currently are shot, and “repairing” his build at this point would require a reincarnation to begin with.  Might as well check him off for “wings” and get an Epic Past Life in the process, right?  Right.

Anyhoo, I’m out of time for this lunch break update.  More to come in the future.

Oh, and P.S. – I had no less than eight random people inform me that I probably need to seek professional help.  I also may or may not have been having debates with myself in three different voices at the time.  (It takes a special kind of “speshul” to lose your own argument with yourself. –Ed.)  Oh, well…

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.


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


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


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


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


Holy Crapola!  Look at all the people!


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


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


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


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..)


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


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


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


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.


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


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 Intro Guide to Epic

Having walked many players through their first forays into Epic careers, I’ve heard the same questions and confusions popping up over and over again.  It seems these are the type of questions that players new to Epic content aren’t sure how to ask, or can’t find clearly stated answers on the wiki.  As such, I thought I’d put this article out there to provide a simple, plain-terms explanation of how the “Epic thing” works.

Those of you who are already familiar and have several ERs under your belt can probably skip this entire post, since this is aimed at the “first-timer” to learn exactly how the gears turn.

First things first, let’s take a look at the three (3) types of experience earned in Epic levels, as opposed to the one (1) kind earned in Heroic play (measured by the blue bar).

Epic Character Experience  (purple bar, no ‘bubbles’)

As far as your character “build” is concerned, leveling ends at 20.  You cannot gain any more levels in a “class” beyond the total that capped out your Heroic career;  for example, there is no such thing as a 20 Fighter/8 Favored Soul.  With the exception of feats being selected, every character receives the exact same growth in terms of Hit Points, Spell Points, Skill Points, and Base Attack Bonus from levels 21 through 30;  only the feat selections make these levels differ from one character to the next.  Epic Character Experience is earned no matter what you do, and caps at level 30 (as of the time of this writing).  Once you hit cap, you cease earning Epic Character Experience.  Unlike Heroic experience, the epic Character Experience does not have a “bubble system” of display, as there are no ranks segmenting a given level.  Fill it up once, and you’re at the next level.

Epic Destiny Experience  (yellow bar, with ‘bubbles’)

First things first:  if you have not yet purchased Epic Destinies (or acquired them with a bundle purchase, previously) then you should note that Epic Character Experience does not apply retroactively to your Epic Destinies.  This means, should you play for a few days and earn, say, 500,000 Character Experience before you purchase Destinies for your account, you will start with 0 XP for your Destinies and work up from there.  This may help make an important decision if you don’t have them yet – you may want to put your brand-newly Epic toon on pause until you can acquire the Destinies.  Or not, your choice, really, just make your decision informed and don’t get caught blindsided.

Anyhoo… once you switch over from Heroic to Epic play, the XP Bar at the bottom will automatically switch from the blue bar (Heroic XP) to the purple bar (Epic Character XP) automatically.  You can click the “rotating circle of arrows” near the Main Menu button to toggle between many different views – personally, I prefer the one which has the Purple Bar visible in the background, with a smaller Yellow Bar overlaid in front of it while leveling Destinies; this way, I can see the progress of both Destiny Experience and Character Experience at a glance.

Having said that, let’s explain why they’re different.  Epic Character Experience functions largely the same way Heroic Experience worked – you gain it, level up, and move along.  Epic Destiny Experience is earned in tandem with Character XP in the sense that every point you earn for your character is earned in copy for the currently active Destiny.  (Yes, this means you have to level each Destiny up independently of the others.)  Destiny Points – the Epic Destiny version of Action Points – earned in one Destiny only apply to that Destiny.  This means you cannot earn points in Exalted Angel and spend them in Unyielding Sentinel, no matter how hard you try.

On the other hand, unlike Epic Character Experience, Epic Destiny Experience is permanent.  This means that, once you “cap out” a Destiny and it states “Maximum Epic XP Earned” in the yellow bar, that whichever destiny you have just capped will remain so forever.  If you earn only four (4) XP in a Destiny, you will forever have those four XP in that Destiny, until you add more to it.  You never, ever lose experience in an Epic Destiny, no matter how many times you Epic Reincarnate;  once you cap out all twelve Destinies, you can turn the Epic Destiny Experience meter (yellow bar) off, forever, for that toon.  (Because it’ll always say the same thing – “yes, I’m still capped.”)  As you level up a given Destiny, you will unlock adjacent ones on the Destiny Map – it takes three levels to unlock a Destiny within the same Sphere, and four levels for the “bridge Destinies” to cross over into an adjacent Sphere.

Which is completely different from..

Epic Destiny Sphere “Karma” (really, it’s experience, it just doesn’t have a bar)

You earn karma – commonly referred to as “Sphere XP,” by being active in a Destiny which corresponds to a particular sphere.  While this may sound complicated, they’re pretty logically grouped together, and make quite a bit of sense, once you think about it.  Just because a Destiny was structured with a specific class in mind has absolutely nothing to do with what class you are, currently.  (In fact, some of the most effective Epic builds criss-cross the lines and cherry pick from all over, not just their “official” Destiny.)

Primal Sphere

  •         Fury of the Wild – the “barbarian destiny”
  •         Primal Avatar – the “druid destiny”
  •         Shiradi Champion – the “ranger destiny” officially, although one of the blurrier lines in practice

Martial Sphere

  •         Legendary Dreadnought – the “fighter destiny”
  •         Grandmaster of Flowers – the “monk destiny” (don’t let the name fool you)
  •         Shadowdancer – the “rogue destiny”

Arcane Sphere

  •         Fatesinger – the “bard destiny”
  •         Draconic Incarnation – the “sorcerer destiny”
  •         Magister – the “wizard destiny”

Divine Sphere

  •         Unyielding Sentinel – the “paladin destiny”
  •         Exalted Angel – the “favored soul destiny”
  •         Divine Crusader – the “cleric destiny”

In order to be eligible to Epic Reincarnate and earn an Epic Past Life, one needs to have a total of 6,000,000 Karma in a given Sphere, which will allow you to pick one of three Epic Past Life feats related to that given Sphere.  In other words, you cannot spend your entire epic career in Shadowdancer and earn an Arcane Epic Past Life feat;  if you want a given Epic Past Life, you’ll have to be in the correct Sphere.  (Unless, however, you already had your six million sphere XP earned on a previous Epic career.)

Having said all that, it does not mean that you must earn the six million Sphere XP before you cap out your Epic Character Experience – and, frequently, on the first life, it does not happen that way.  For example, if you are playing a Fighter who selected Legendary Dreadnought (Martial sphere) and wish to earn an Epic Past Life Feat: Fast Healing (Primal), one would need to level Legendary Dreadnought up to level four (as it’s a “bridge Destiny” that connects with Shiradi Champion in Primal), then switch over to a Destiny in the Primal Sphere and begin earning Karma in that sphere.  All of the experience earned in Legendary Dreadnought stays there forever – and the Sphere XP earned stays there until it is spent to ER at a later date.  However, upon reaching level cap, the player may have to do a little bit more adventuring to “make up” the Sphere XP left behind in Martial during the process of unlocking the Primal Sphere.


The Map View of Orsyn Burr’s Epic Destinies, showing a number of things:  1) Unyielding Sentinel is at level 5, which “unlocks” the two other Destinies in the Divine Sphere (Divine Crusader and Exalted Angel);  since Unyielding is a “bridge destiny” and is above level 4 (note the four “stars” forming a line between Divine and Martial) he can unlock Grandmaster of Flowers;  Shadowdancer and Legendary Dreadnaught will both unlock when Grandmaster hits level 3, or can be unlocked with the purchase of a Key of Destiny (hence the coin symbol on them);  the Divine sphere has 162,287 Sphere XP (Karma) towards an Epic Past Life, and none of the other Spheres have any progress whatsoever.

Confused, yet?  Don’t panic!  None of your progress is ever lost.  All Destiny XP earned is retained forever, and all Sphere XP is retained until it is spent during the specific Epic Reincarnation process for that specific sphere in exchange for an Epic Past Life Feat.  (In the example above, all Sphere XP earned while leveling up Dreadnought will hang around until used to purchase a Martial Epic Past Life Feat while ERing… even if the player does a dozen or more ERs in other Spheres, first.)

Because of this, however, many veteran players tend to keep a given Epic career focused within a specific Sphere;  in the example above, Epic Life #1 would probably remain in the Martial Sphere, and Epic Life #2 would start and stay in the Primal Sphere (to maximize efficiency).  This doesn’t mean that a player must remain in a given Destiny, however – it’s not uncommon for a player’s first Epic Life in a given Sphere to be spent “filling out” all three Destinies present, since that’s a “one-and-done” deal and never needs to be done again.  Ever.  It also works out quite nicely that capping out each Destiny (1.98M per Destiny x 3 Destinies per Sphere = 5.94M) fits in beautifully with the six million Sphere XP needed to score an Epic Past Life for said Sphere.


Tholgrin’s Destiny chart, showing every destiny “Done” and capped out.  At this point, Destiny XP becomes a non-issue (as everything is at maximum).

To summarize, any time you earn experience while playing DDO with a toon level 20 or above, you can benefit in up to three places:

  •         Epic Character Experience (from level 20 up to level 30), and
  •         Epic Destiny Experience for the active Destiny (until the Destiny is capped at 1.98M), and
  •         Epic Destiny Karma for the active Destiny’s Sphere (up to 6M).

If you should decide to Heroic TR early – by that, I mean after 20 but before 30 (sometimes called “chickening out” –Ed.) – all of your Destiny XP and Sphere XP are still hanging around until next time.  You’ll have to re-acquire your Epic Character XP, of course.

The other reason for filling out all of the Destinies in a Sphere is to earn..

Twist of Fate and Fate Points

Destiny abilities, while wonderful, are only active while you currently have the Destiny active.  In other words, if you cap out Grandmaster of Flowers and then move to Shadowdancer, all of the benefits you earned in Grandmaster of Flowers are “suspended” until you return to that Destiny.  That rule, however, can be bent from somewhat (with only a few Twist of Fate points) to an extreme degree (a large number of Twist of Fate points).  The primary source of earning Fate Points is by leveling up the Epic Destinies themselves – every three Destiny levels (total, across all Destinies) is worth an additional fate point.  (You can also earn a Fate Point every 4th ER and by purchasing Tomes of Fate from the DDO store.  –Ed.)

This means if you have Fatesinger at level 4, Shadowdancer at 3, and Dreadnought at 2, for a total of 9 levels, you have a total of three Fate Points.  If you were to level Dreadnought to 3 and make it 10 levels, you’d… still have three Fate Points.  They only increase in count on whole divisions.

For an easy way to think of it – capping an entire Sphere is three Destinies at five levels each, for a total of fifteen levels.  In other words, each capped Sphere is worth 5 Fate Points;  capping out all four Spheres alone is worth twenty Fate Points.

These Fate Points are used to unlock and upgrade Twist of Fate slots.  These slots allow you to “twist” in abilities from other Destinies which are not presently active – however, you cannot twist “Core” abilities, which are listed as Innate on the abilities list.  Using Fate Points, you can unlock a slot, which automatically allows a Tier 1 ability to be used in that slot – and then spend additional points to upgrade the slot to hold up to a Tier 4 ability.  As one can imagine, the further you upgrade a slot, and more slots you unlock, the more expensive they become in terms of Fate Points.  More specifics are available on the wiki as far as point costs for various combinations.

I won’t go into the possibilities of various combinations of Destinies and Twists, which run the gamut from absurd (pure Fighter in Magister with Endless Turning twisted in) to downright deadly (hehehehe – I said I wouldn’t go into it!  -Ed.) and beyond.  What I will point out are a few common pitfalls I have seen others try:

  •         If you’re twisting in an enhancement to another Destiny ability, you must have the prerequisite ability as well in order to take advantage of it.  Example:  You cannot twist Rainbow in from Shiradi Champion without having Prism to activate it.  (Well, you can, but it won’t do anything at all.)  It’s possible to twist in Double Rainbow to another Destiny, just expensive (both in Fate Points and slots).
  •         Many abilities are also contingent upon class abilities – twisting them in without having the relevant class ability will offer no benefit.  Example:  As mentioned above, a pure Fighter getting Endless Turning from Divine Crusader, when the Fighter class has no ability to Turn Undead in the first place.

o    On the other hand, the Fighter in question could twist in Turn Undead from the same tree, as well as Endless Turning, to further bend and confuse that rule.  However, without the backing of an actual Paladin or Cleric build, the logic of this decision may be pretty questionable.

  •         Similar to the above, some abilities may not require class abilities, but are otherwise unusable without being active in the Destiny itself.  For example, Reign from the Fatesinger tree enhances the character’s weapons with lightning strikes on vorpal;  it counts as a Spontaneous Song, which isn’t a problem while the player is in Fatesinger, even without a single Bard level, as the Destiny itself provides songs.  On the other hand, twisting it into a class which has zero songs means the ability is now null-and-void since it cannot be activated while in a Destiny which does not provide songs innately.
  •         Tier 5 and 6 abilities cannot be twisted in, at all, and neither can Innate (“core”) abilities.  Make sure you check that before you try and twist in Adrenaline (innate, Fury of the Wild) and Leap of Faith (tier 5, Exalted Angel) to your Dreadnought.
  •         Purchasing slots with your Fate Points is not permanent, and you do not have to ER in order to reset your slot purchases.  Simply visit a Fatespinner (one in the Marketplace and one in Eveningstar) to have her reset your Fate Points for free.
  •         You can get a 4th Twist of Fate slot upon attaining Epic Completionist (three Epic Past Life Feats total in each Sphere;  note they do not have to be three different Past Life Feats, you can simply get three stacks of one you like).  However, it’s not free, and still costs Fate Points to unlock/upgrade.  

So now that you’ve gotten your character up to level 30, what happens then?


In Heroic play, there’s not a whole lot of intricacies when it comes to reincarnation.  You simply make it to level 20, acquire your Heart of Wood however you see fit, and then trot over to the Reincarnation Grove.  That’s it!  Of course, there are a few more… intricacies.. with Epic than there are with Heroic play.  But, then again, that’s part of the addiction, once you figure them out!

There are four general ways to go about your reincarnation business, once you make it to Epic:

  •         Heroic True Reincarnation (TR) – cutting one’s Epic career short, for whatever reason, and returning to level 1.  This provides a Heroic Past Life feat and is not available as an option for Iconic characters.  All Epic Character XP* is forfeited with no benefit.  Doesn’t differ from traditional Heroic TR’ing in any meaningful way.  (*Note this is not your Destiny XP or Sphere XP being forfeited.  –Ed.)
  •         Epic Reincarnation (ER) –  Upon reaching level 30 and accumulating a total of six million Sphere XP (“Karma”) in a chosen Sphere, the character is able to select which Epic Past Life feat from their chosen Sphere and return to level 20.  In the process, the character will be “rebuilt” from level 1 to 20, allowing new feat selections and point/skill allocations;  think of this step as a Lesser Reincarnation performed at level 20.  You cannot change classes, races, genders, or the like during this part.  Epic Reincarnation does not build a TR Cache the same way Heroic True Reincarnation does – what’s in your bank, stays in your bank.  Iconic characters can ER back to 20 the same way other characters can.
  •         Double Reincarnation (or ER/TR) – a common practice of performing an Epic Reincarnation, followed immediately by a Heroic True Reincarnation.  Yes, you can do that!  The only thing which may makes this step somewhat more complicated is lining up both Hearts of Wood back-to-back.  Iconic characters cannot perform double reincarnations as they are ineligible for Heroic True Reincarnation.
  •         Iconic Reincarnation (IR) –  Only available for Iconic races (currently Bladeforged, Morninglord, Purple Dragon Knight, and Shadar-Kai, regardless of chosen classes), an Iconic character who decides to return to level 1 must perform an Iconic Reincarnation.  They must be at level cap and get a special Heart of Wood (shockingly called an Iconic Heart of Wood), at which point they will receive two past life feats, much like a Heroic race would if they were performing a Double Reincarnation.  However, instead of an Epic Past Life Feat, the Iconic reincarnation provides the character with an Iconic Past Life Feat and the Heroic Past Life Feat for their primary class.  This can be performed regardless of current Sphere XP;  in other words, you don’t have to rack up and/or spend any Sphere XP to perform an Iconic Reincarnation.  Your character will be sent right back to 1, where just like with a Heroic Reincarnation, there’s nothing preventing him from selecting another Iconic race and jumping right back up to 15.

So hopefully, this little article will provide some clarity on questions you might have had about “how that whole Epic thing works.”  If you have any more questions regarding “that Epic thing” that you can’t seem to find a straight answer on, leave it in the comments section below, and I’ll try and find one for you!


And here is a close-up of Tholgrin’s butt, because, reasons.

Happy slaying!


Epic Completionist #2 for 2015!

So, I’ve really got to stop spoiling the “big news” of a given post with the title.  In case you haven’t guessed already, Tholgrin Stoneforge finally finished out his final Epic life before scoring Epic Completionist!  And it was before U29 launched, to boot!  So that makes two Epic Completionists earned during the 2015 Goal Period.

Woo-hoo!  Take that, expectations!


Back in K-Town, now fully-vested in Heroic Paladin past lives and Epic Completionism.

So now, his plans include the ER from 28 back to 20 (albeit briefly) followed by the “combo reincarnation” back to 1 immediately afterwards.  After all, he still hasn’t earned his final Paladin past life!  So I’ll be taking him from 1 back up to level cap… as I feel like it.  No rush in that objective, there.

With that out of the way, it completes the multi-expanded Goals List for 2015 for Tholgrin.. and almost everyone else, as well.  Only Bholgrin and his 5,000-Favor-Plus-Complete-Every-Quest-And-Challenge goal remain.  The good news is, that with his recent ER, I’ve actually been working a decent bit on that.. including confirming from first-hand experience that it is possible to solo The Crucible in Gianthold (although I did use a hireling for the maze levers;  not on the wheel puzzle, however, since the Owlbear was half-retarded when it came to operating machinery).  I would swear the wheel puzzle time limit has been extended – or, perhaps, it’s just a bit more generous when you’re alone.  In either case, it’s possible.  (I recall it timing out in approximately 5 seconds on earlier group runs;  this last run, he had enough time to run around the room to all three wheels by his lonesome.  And no, even though Bholgrin is part monk, he’s not that fast.  –Ed.)

The list of his incompleted quests, raids, and challenges is pretty slim, now:

  •         Ascension Chamber
  •         Precious Cargo
  •         The Fall of Truth
  •         The Twilight Forge
  •         The Titan Awakes
  •         The Mark of Death
  •         Temple of the Deathwyrm
  •         Fire on Thunder Peak
  •         Epic Kobold Island:  Short Cuts

And that’s it!  Of course, he’s sitting at 4,934 favor, which means I’ll have to backtrack through some of those quests that he’s already marked a completion on, but on a lower difficulty, and crank those up.  Shoot, even that list is pretty slender;  and that’s with several expansions’ worth of new content adding to the favor total.  I can’t imagine how tight the original 5,000 Favor Reward was – from the looks of the current game, it seems as though you had to Elite/Epic Elite everything and six-star every challenge to barely squeak past.

So it seems I may have to put up some LFMs over the next two weeks in order to get some old favor runs going!  A long time ago, when I first started this particular Goals for 2015 initiative-thingy, I speculated that Bholgrin’s challenge was going to be the hardest one.. and while it may not necessarily be the hardest – it certainly is taking the longest to move.  Mostly because the majority of what’s left is things that don’t see a whole lot of movement on Orien.  (That’s not entirely true – FOTP, TODW, and MOD all see a good bit of traffic on Saturdays, but that’s all EE traffic.  And I’m not stupid enough to try and learn a raid on EE.  –Ed.)


Totally not suicidal.

My attempts to learn Ascension Chamber solo have been… mixed.  I’ve watched videos where folks have soloed it without many problems;  being perfectly frank, I have a feeling that’s one of the situations where “trying to solo it at 21 your first time ever” qualified as “probably not the best of ideas.”  It’s something I’m continuing to try as the whims come, usually with no expectations of survival, but I figure, what the heck, personal experience in the environments is never a bad thing.

So for anyone else hunting for obscure favor bits and bobs on the Orien server, keep an eye out – you might just see an LFM with Bholgrin’s name on it.  Or have him request to join your LFM.. you never know.  Fair warning, however – he doesn’t do so well with that whole “sharing” thing when it comes to Tasty Ham.  So if that’s a deal-breaker, I’m not sorry.

As for the plans for the remaining.. uhh.. eighteen toons – well.

Mattok Shalefinder has recently been working his way through a Heroic career as a pure Paladin Vanguard.  His previous life as a 14 FvS / 6 Pal variant of Whall’s build resulted in – way more healing than was ever needed, and a profound lack of function with the shield-based attacks.  As such, he’s reworking himself into a full Vanguard position.  He’s currently at level 7, having just equipped his +3 Etched Longsword of Acid Torrent from the Temple of Elemental Evil… time to give that a few swings and see what’s what.

Tubbho “Uncle Tubbs” Lard is sitting tight at 22 and slowly working his way through some Iconic lives.  I’ll spend some time with him as the schedule allows – he’s still working slowly towards his Heroic Completionist.  Yes, the one I said I wasn’t working towards last year.  Shaddup.  Things change.

And the rest are all at cap!  Well, except Immano of Llawriennal, the perpetually-20 clonk for friendly aid.  He has no intenions of going above 20 (again) in the future.  The remainder of the characters on my login screen are at cap, and honestly, I’m now looking forward to the variety of playing each of them to get up to level 30.

It’s a silly thing, sure, but it feeds back into my alt-itis – with the new levels and XP increase, that equates to roughly two days’ worth of solid questing for each person.  And given the variety of playstyles I have currently stored up, that means I get to play in an entirely different groove every other day!  Woo-hoo!   That part, I’m actually looking forward to.

I must confess, this has been quite a whirlwind of a year as far as game progreses is concerned.  The only thing left to do at this point is to figure out what I’m going to do to one-up the nonsense that made up 2015 – and, of course, actually finish the final goal!

Happy Slaying!


A Raidy Weekend

This past weekend held quite a bit of delightful progress!  And news!  Sort of.  Well, oh, heck, I’ll just get on with it.

First things first – the one and only Thol finished out his Primal karma for his 11th Epic Past Life and is now giddily whalloping his way through the last few XP in his home Destiny, Unyielding Sentinel, where he plans to spend the foreseeable future.  And no, he has no intentions of ever being anything but a pure Paladin Knight of the Chalice.  After all, why mess with what works?  And it would fly completely in the face of Tholgrin’s RP background and P&P history.  There are plenty of alts for that mutli-life stuff.

However – only one life left to live before Epic Completionist!  /cheer!  Oh, and that silly little “third paladin Heroic” past life.  Grr.  At least that isn’t on a crunch to get finished up before U29.. not that it’ll be difficult.  I’ve been stacking up all manner of goodies in expectation for the “final final” life.   Ahh, well.. but I digress!

I’ve begun working on getting Green Steel weapons lined up for the myriad other characters I feel will be the most likely to TR;  I like to have these done beforehand, because once I get the idea in my head to TR somebody, it usually happens within hours and whatever preparation hasn’t been done yet isn’t going to be.  (Here’s looking at you, Mattok!)  So I hopped in a few Shroud runs early Saturday to get things started and then later on to fatten up the ol’ crafting reserves.

The other major challenge that has yet to be completed lies with Tholgrin’s very-slightly younger brother (in the role-play sense, at least), Bholgrin.  Good ol’ dwarven “original” family names, that.  At first it was just a teaching run hosted by our very own @DDOMicki over at Micki’s Delirium of Defiler of the Just, which I had yet to run.  So, of course, I jumped over to Bhol and promptly proceeded to fly completely under the radar with an utterly unnoteworthy performance.  Which, as a raid virgin, I consider to be a complete success – after all, the first phase of learning a raid (on my own bloody scale!) is called “don’t be a liability and don’t die.”  Looking at it that way…


Hop back to Tholgrin, and what do I see later on, but an EH run of Defiler queueing up?  Sweet!  Armed with the experience from Micki’s expert tutelage, I went in with Tholgrin (who is far, far [fart] more of a brute than his little bro) and proceeded to wreck shop right alongside the vets.. although the whole crew got skunked on loot.  While I haven’t stepped into Epic Elite on the raid, yet, the following things struck me:

  •         Once you know what you’re doing, the raid is pretty simple
  •         This is going to be darn near impossible to solo except for the penultimate badass players
  •         That final boss was a joke, as in”liek srsly, u ded alreddy bro ??“-level facerolling
  •         What do you mean, we’re done this quickly?

I was all raring and ready to go for some spectacularly brutal Shroud EX+alpha mess, but it’s pretty much only a few rooms.  To that regard, sad face.  Being able to learn it in one run, happy face.  Adding it to my list of “I’mma go run that!” raids, priceless.

And, as usual, more digressions…

So after that particular splash of happy, I just-so-happened to check the LFM panel to find – guess what? – MOAR RAIDS!  A whole stack of them, all bunched up in one pretty little happy entry, two of which were ones Bholgrin needed for his 2015 Goals.  So back to Bhol it was, and off we went for a flurry of frenzied fun.


One of the many “stuff is happening” moments in eChrono.

One right after another, we hit Epic Elite versions of The Chronoscope, The Vault of Night and The Plane of Night,  Against the Demon Queen and Zawabi’s Revenge, after which we lost a number of folks and dropped down to Heroic for a run of The Lord of Blades and The Master Artificer.  But wait, there’s more!  Afterwards, we scooted over to the Subterrane and did a Vision of Destruction run.  Bholgrin was particularly excited about the VoD run due to the chance of getting a Divine Vengeance, but it didn’t show its face.  Jerk.

I had to call it a night before the rest of the group headed over to Hound of Xoriat, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.  After all, he’d already finished VOD and HOX previously, so those were just fun/loot runs.. and fun, they were.

Of course, while this was all going on, I was wrestling with a thought that has been nagging me:  Why don’t I just ER Bholgrin and iron out some of the little quirks that have been bugging me?  I don’t really have a good reason why I haven’t – after all, ERing doesn’t reset any favor accumulations in the slightest, and he could really use some fine-tuning.  An older part of me is scared I would forget something and inadvertently make it worse;  I don’t think that’s the problem so much, any more.

I’ve been going through his gear, and he’s got a pretty decent assortment for low-level Epics that he already had on-hand.  He’s got his Green Steel blanks and plenty of Shards lined up if I should decide to TR him on a whim – might not have enough for a full pair of double-imbued longswords, but at least one double-imbued and a Tier 3.  I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to put on them, but as I’m only dabbling with the idea of an ER, that’s not a huge problem.

I’ve taken to telling myself that once Tholgrin hits level 28 and is “officially” on his final Epic life before EC, and is “officially” underway in his final Divine life, that I’ll give his little brother some wings.  Plus, I can’t help but shake the feeling it would be much more enjoyable going through and replaying some of his earlier Epics on higher difficulties when I’m actually in the level range and earning XP towards it, rather than just Heart Seeds.. not that Heart Seeds are bad, though.  You get my meaning, I’m sure.

Overall, the weekend was quite productive.  It was fun grouping with a fellow member of the DDO Blogging Community, even if it was a pretty quiet group.  In retrospect, that’s probably a good thing, as it means I didn’t manage to put my foot in my mouth all the way to the elbow.  (This happens far more often than I’d like, and is the reason I stick pretty much exclusively to text chat until I get to know folks.  It’s a lot easier to censor text than it is speech on +80% Lip Movement Speed.  –Ed.)

Oh, and while I’ve had a Facebook page for DDO for quite some time (just search the ever-original “Tholgrin Stoneforge” on it, and it should pop up), I’ve only just recently – as in, within the past 16 hours of this being posted to Teh Interwebz – started doing “that Twitter thing.”  I’m on there as @TholgrinDDO, because, apparently someone already had @Tholgrin.  Shoot, it might even be me, I’m not even sure…. after all, my WordPress account is listed as @Tholgrin.  Yay, social media noobiness…. ugh.  Why do I do these things to myself?

So I think I’m learning how to use it.  Not really.  I’m probably doing the entire thing wrong.  So if I retweet your reply to a hashtag with a Hindenberg and forget to add #fauxpas, then you can officially call me a #twit.  Yeah, I went there.  Anyhoo, I suppose if you’re interested, you can go do.. uhh, whatever it is people do on Twitbook and Faceter.


Anyhoo… happy Monday, and stuff!


A Melee in Magister

Well, Tholgrin is officially level 26 (woo-hoo!) while working towards his first Arcane sphere Epic Past Life.  Of course, this generally means “level up all of your Destinies in that Sphere” so that you don’t have to do it later on.. which is what he’s doing.

Fatesinger, done.  Not a terrible Arcane Destiny to be in for a melee stuck in Arcane, truth be told;  Reign is quite giggle-worthy.

Draconic Incarnation, done.  Again, not a terrible Destiny to be in (for the Arcane sphere), as there are a few fun tricks you can throw around –  Energy Sheath, Dragon Breath, and Flyby Attack come to mind.  After all, there are worse Destinies to be in…..

Oh… wait.  Worse ones like the last one left in Arcane.  Okay, well, here goes… let’s take a look at the sort of things available in Magister that provide some sort of benefit to… a greataxe-weilding paladin war-divine melee.  Urk.

Or, let’s not.  We could not.  Not works better.  Have you seen the stuff that’s available in, oh, pretty much any Destiny on the board that is not Magister?  That would certainly do better.. but, alas, that won’t fill out my final Destiny, will it.. sigh.  Okay, carry on (my wayward son).  Time to find that elusive silver lining to ride for the next 1.98M XP…


The Magister Epic Destiny tree

Cores  (or “Innate Abilities,” if you want to nitpick about it)

The core abilities in Magister, unlike pretty much every other Destiny on the board, are all effecitvely the same thing until you get to the end.  Each core gives you +50 SP and +1 to Wizard, Sorcerer, Bard, and Artificer caster levels.  For a divine, this means….. next to nothing.  Granted, the total +250 SP is nice… ish?   

The “capstone,” per-se, is Arcane Spellsurge, which provides a +5 to all spell DCs for the next 20 seconds.  Sure, that’s nifty for spellthrower builds.. but there isn’t a single spell in the entire Paladin spellbook that actually has a DC.  (Dispel Magic and Break Enchantment are both caster level checks, if you were wondering.)  So that’s six full core abilities that can be boiled down to “some extra spell points on a class build that barely uses any, except to buff.”  Hmm, finding this silver lining might be harder than I thought..

Tier One

Let’s see… we have the Sigil of Spell Warding (up to 3 ranks), which puts a big, round, immobile circle on the floor for a minute.  Think of Sigils as the bigger brother of Symbols.  This one, in particular, doesn’t actually do.. well.. anything at all with regards to warding against spells.  At max rank, it gives you +3 AC and +15 PRR while you’re inside the sigil… none of which will help you defend yourself from hostile spellthrowers.  While the benefits are technically beneficial to a melee, the whole “immobile” thing kind of puts a damper on the party.

After that is Imperceptible Casting, for -95% spell threat for thirty seconds.  For a class with exactly zero (0) offensive spells, whose job is to generate aggro, that’s..  yeah, that’s functionally useless.  Next!

Unearthly Reactions, on the other hand, is actually pretty cool.  Thus far, every toon that’s gone through Magister has put three points in it, and a few alts (who don’t have the full board unlocked) have Twisted it in for lack of better options.  At rank 3, it lands you +3% Dodge and +6 Reflex saves, with the added benefit of being able to Tumble through enemies in a cloud of puffy bluish-white mist.. which is a great bonus perk for those times when you realize you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.

Similarly, Impregnable Mind lands you up to +6 Concentration and +6 Will saves.  As an added benefit, you no longer auto-fail Will saves on a roll of a 1.. which is effecively the same as the Epic Will feat that you can’t get until level 27 (I believe).  On the other hand, Paladin saves are already through the roof;  I’ll probably put some points here, just for the “no automatic failure” benefit.  And it’s not like there are a whole lot of better-looking options on the bottom row..

And, of course, on the right hand side is always a stat boost.  For Magister, the choice is Intelligence or Charisma (big surprise, there).  Intelligence won’t do a dang thing for this particular stumpy, but Charisma is always a bonus for every pally.  (After all, every two points in Charisma cranks your Lay on Hands up, adds +1 to all saves, and increases the number of Smite Evils and Turn Undead/Channel Divinity charges.  Not inconsequential perks.)  Seeing as how this is on every single tier, and doesn’t change, and I don’t feel like writing about it six different times, this will be the last time you see it.

Tier Two  four points spent

After spending four points, I get the option to choose the Sigil of Lifeshielding!  Yaaay!  ……Or not.  This particular sigil provides everybody in its borders with Death Ward… which you can cast on yourself as a pally that lasts far longer than a minute, he has Deathblock slotted for beholders anyway, and as a Knight of the Chalice, Thol has Sealed Life to prevent level drain.  Oh, but it does 3d6 light damage every two seconds to undead in the area of effect, amplified by his non-existent Light spellpower.  Please excuse me if I suddenly strangle myself with my own sarcasm at the enthusiasm I feel for this particular sigil.

Next up is Fade into the Weave, which triggers a Diplomacy effect to shed aggro off of yourself and turns you super-invisible for 20 seconds.  I can definitely see the benefit for a rear-line toon – a caster or ranged fighter who accidentally pulls too much aggro who just goes poof! and returns the attention back to the front line.  On the other hand, for one who is actually on the front line, whose job is to scream “hey!  look at me!” the uses are.. minimal.

Spell School Specialist.  Considering this is a requirement for a great deal of other options, and requires the Heroic Spell Focus feat for a given spell school – and of course every front line brute takes spell focus feats, duh – this isn’t even an option for Thol.  Maybe I should go trade in Greater Two-Handed Fighting for Spell Focus:  Divination

Wait… what?  That’s it?  Those are my choices?  Okay.. wow.  That was awk.

Tier Three  eight points spent

Oh, lookie!  Another sigil!  Because the first two were so useful.. let’s see how this one is.  The Sigil of Energy Negation grants a stacking 60 points of fire, cold, electricity, and acid to those standing within it.  Okay, aside from the whole “immobile” thing, that’s actually pretty not bad.  I can’t talk a whole lot of trash on another sixty points of resistance.. but, at the same token, I can’t go giddy over it.  After all, it is stuck in one spot, and that’s kind of a big deal.

Right next to that, however, is Variable Resistance.  Every time you take elemental damage, it grants you up to three stacks of +10 resistance to that type for 3 minutes.  Well.. heck.  I totally missed this ability when I ran through Magister with Uncle Tubbs and a few other toons.. that’s actually worth putting some points in… after all, it’s not like I’m being bombarded with a plethora of great-sounding options (cough, cough, Fury, Sentinel, Dreadnaught, Crusader, cough, cough).

And then we have Piercing Spellcraft!  Which requires a) having spells that actually have spell penetration checks, and b) actually having the Heroic feat Spell Penetration!  The odds of both of those critera being met on a pure paladin are zero!  Exclamation points!  Next…..

Oh, wait, that’s blocked off because we don’t have Spell School Specialist from Tier Two.  So… yeah.  Next row.

Tier Four  twelve points spent

Golly gee willikers!  Another sigil!  It’s like Christmas!  The Sigil of Battering Spellcraft grants 45 stacking spellpower to allies within its radius.  As it’s once again immobile (yay…..) and paladins are world-renowned for their offensive spellcraft, this one gets tossed back in the Useless Pile along with the first two sigils.  Granted, one could make a case that I could use it to bolster other players in the party, but a large chunk of Thol’s playtime is solo.  And the major spellthrowers that I would be playing with are a) a DC caster, and b) a Warlock who doesn’t need the crank.  So… yeah, still meh.

Then we have Nullmagic Guard, which is a defensive burst with a 6% chance to fire off a mass Dispel Magic effect that leaves hostiles in the area of effect with -4 Spell Resistance for 30 seconds.  Well, this one doesn’t sound that bad.  I might throw some points in here, considering half the Destiny is already blocked off.

Speaking of being locked out, the next two enhancements (Call Kindred Being and Spell School Familiarity) are just that!  Isn’t that just lovely?  Yeah, I thought so, too.

Tier Five  sixteen points spent

Oh my COW!!  Finally, a tier that doesn’t start with a sigil!  That makes me happy.  (It’s the simple things.. –Ed.)  The first ability on Tier Five is Nullmagic Strike, which gives a 15% chance for your melee attacks (and offensive spells and ranged attacks, but, blah blah blah) to proc a Dispel Magic ability much like the Nullmagic Guard.  Hunh.  So you can have it proc when you get hit and when you hit someone.  Kind of makes it seem…. less impressive.  About the only part I was interested in either was the “can’t cast spells” part.  Of course, an axe to the face settles that problem nicely, too.

Grand Summoner is next up.. which looks like a better version of Augment Summoning that works only on summons.  Summons which Thol can’t cast, except via clicky, and the ones he could cast would probably last exactly four point eight seconds.  Tossing that one in the Useless Pile… next!!

Oh, wait, there is no next, because Master of Spell School is locked out.  Yay?

Tier Six  twenty points spent

Up in the corner is Arcane Tempest, which is an area of effect spell that deals 2d6 force damage per caster level every 2 seconds for 8 seconds… which is a long way of saying “four times.”  Apparently it has a Reflex save.. which, considering Tholgrin is a) not a caster, b) has poor Force spellpower, and c) his offensive DC is probably dog doo, makes this less than impressive.  Oh, and it also requires that I get the Sigil of Battering Suckcraft, to boot… While it might be a wicked ability on an actual caster, there’s not a whole lot of attraction to this particular paladin.

There’s also the Nullmagic Aura Epic Moment, which requires thirty charges of Nullmagic Guard procs or Nullmagic Strike procs, and makes yourself and nearby allies immune to hostile spells for twenty seconds.  Hmm.. that might be worth a pair of points, if only as a novelty benefit.

The final non-stat-boost option is Arcane Adept, which gives you a -10% savings on your spell point expenditures.  Because paladins are always running out of spell points… I think I’ll pass on that one.

So… those are all the options.  Time to weed out the discards and prioritize the ones that are left.. after all, I want to actually get some benefit from the Destiny.   If you’re curious what I did with Uncle Tubbs during his run through, I finally got so fed up with the Destiny that I put three points in Unearthly Reactions.  Yeah, that’s it.  It still says 21 points remaining to spend on it to this day, because, pissy.  On the other hand, Thol might actually benefit from some of the stuff…

I have to spend at least four points in Tier One in order to unlock Tier Two.  Of course, that’s not a limit, so I’m going to go with five, for Unearthly Reactions rank 3 (3 points) and Charisma Level 1 (2 points)

And there’s pretty much nothing I want in Tier Two, so we’ll just slap on another point of Charisma (2 points) for a grand total of seven points.  Of course, that leaves me shy for unlocking Tier 3… and there’s really nothing else on Tier 2 I want.. so let’s invest a point in Impregnable Mind (1 point) which we may come back to later.

8 down, 16 to go, and let’s start with Tier 3.  I do like the idea of that Variable Resistance (3 points), so let’s slap that on the roster, and… wow.  Okay.  Nothing left.  I could put some more points in Impregnable Mind, but Charisma would serve me better (every two points of Charisma on a paladin has a pretty hefty gain which totally overpowers just a +1 Will save), so let’s grab Charisma Level 3 (2 points) as well.

Now we waltz into Tier Four with eleven points to go and three to spend to unlock the next tier.  Aaandd… okay.  Wow.  Not a damn thing.  Might as well get another point of Charisma (2 points) in level 4 and toss another point into Impregnable Mind (1 more point) for an even sixteen spent.

Well, this works out nicely.  I kind of wanted that Nullmagic Strike (1 point), but have enough left over to finish off Impregnable Mind (1 point) to get the “no-fail on a 1” business and score yet another point of Charisma (2 points) to unlock the final tier.

Hmm, yep.  Okay, so it’s just Nullmagic Aura (2 points) and the last Charisma (2 points) slot.

So it might seem a little anticlimactic, and it is.  But there are some benefits… sort of.  Here’s a quick summary for me to reference later (and anyone else who’s going to follow along):

Tier 1

  •         Unearthly Reactions 3/3
  •         Impregnable Mind 3/3
  •         Charisma 1

Tier 2

  •         Charisma 2

Tier 3

  •         Variable Resistance
  •         Charisma 3

Tier 4

  •         Charisma 4

Tier 5

  •         Nullmagic Strike
  •         Charisma 5

Tier 6

  •         Nullmagic Aura
  •         Charisma 6

In short… blegh.  But I don’t see where there’s a whole lot of room for improvement.  If anyone else has a better battle plan for a melee Paladin in Magister, I’d love to hear it.  At least there’s a nice defensive punch with the barrelful of Charisma points.

Moderately happy slaying, maybe?