Even Now

Funz and failz in DDO

Under the bridge August 11, 2014

Eveningstar bridge

I’ve been told that I’m too obsessed with the way some overly elitist people treat other players who they feel don’t measure up to their high standards.

Not surprisingly, the few people who’ve said that to me are some of the most overly elitist players I’ve ever come across. Yes, equality for all in DDO is a soapbox I’m happy to jump on. I’ve seen a number of my friends leave the game over the treatment they received from people whose egos far outstrip their intelligence.

For what it’s worth, ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll tell you I’m just as obsessed outside of DDO; I’m very committed to equality and safety for ALL. Race, religion, gender, orientation, nationality – bullies use all kinds of excuses to try to make other people feel bad about themselves. So if you think I’m overly obsessed, I think you’re the one with the problem.

Reading this post really opened my eyes to just how bad some Internet trolls are. In case you don’t want to read the whole thing (it’s a bit lengthy), the tl;dr version is that a woman discovers her husband has been bullying people online. When she confronts him, he admits it and refuses to stop, even when she tells him she’s leaving him. This guy chose to lose his wife – who happens to be pregnant with his child, btw – rather than stop bullying.

I’ve experienced bullying at many levels. I choose to say, “I’ve experienced bullying” rather than, “I’m a victim of bullying” because bullying is a reflection on the bully, not on his or her subject. I’m not defined by what any bully says or does to me. I’ve been bullied at one time or another by family members, schoolmates, co-workers, and yes, DDO players.

I’ve often heard that the Internet is a hospitable atmosphere for bullying because of the anonymity. Some people feel invulnerable when they have a computer screen to hide behind. But unlike some, I believe the Internet only facilitates bullying rather than causing it. Someone who bullies people, whether online or off, lacks basic human decency. Some people are just much better at hiding it in public, I guess; I’ve certainly never wanted to deliberately make someone else feel bad about him- or herself just because the Internet would make it easier for me to “get away” with it. Intentionally inflicting distress on another person is wrong. Period.

That’s no consolation to people who are being bullied. It’s hard to know the right thing to do. People who aren’t involved find it easy to say, “Oh, just ignore it.” In my experience, that really doesn’t help. Like, AT ALL. Most of the bullies I’ve seen in action are attention whores. The more you ignore them, the angrier they get. It’s as if they feel, “How DARE your world not revolve around me! I’ll show YOU!”

But even though ignoring a bully doesn’t help and may actually make the situation worse, it’s often still the best option. Trying to stand up to a bully on one’s own is largely futile; trying to reason with one, even more so. Bullies are very good at twisting your words around, completely ignoring the parts that make them look bad and taking the rest out of context. They’re also very good at lying about their behavior and denying what they’ve said, even to the point of deleting or heavily editing their posts.

In fact, bullies who are confronted about their behavior often paint THEMSELVES as the victims. “I didn’t mean anything by it! You’re too sensitive! Why are you picking on me?” It’s hard to call them on their bullying, because they have a million and one excuses designed to gain sympathy for themselves and make YOU look like the bad guy. Yes, they really do think that they should be allowed to say anything to anyone, no matter how hurtful, and that the only time there’s “bullying” is when someone tells them their behavior isn’t acceptable.

This kind of thing happens all too often in DDO. Players are ridiculed for having the “wrong” build or gear. They’re jumped on for honest mistakes.

Friday night, I led a Tower of Despair learning run. One of the guys who joined typed in party chat that he didn’t have sound so he couldn’t hear spoken instructions (which incidentally is something I’ve also seen players bullied over and even kicked from parties, because people are too lazy/conceited/whatever to take a few extra seconds and type stuff out if needed).

The LFM clearly stated that this was a relaxed pace learning run with my usual “gimps/first-timers welcome” clause, so I told the group, both over voice and in text chat, that I’d be taking a little extra time at the start of each phase to type out instructions. At this point, I got a tell from the guildmate of the guy with no sound. Turns out he’s deaf and had never run a ToD before, in no small part because no raid leader would ever take the time to type.

Well, we got him through it just fine, and he did very well. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling I had when he opened the end chest and pulled his first-ever Shavarath trophies. Seriously. Best ToD EVER (which was also because Slvr was tanking shadows for the first time ever, AND doing it on his “gimpy” – his words, not mine – hagglebard, and he rocked it! And because Bonnie ran with us!).

I have friends who take grief because they don’t use mics, although they do have sound. I can only imagine the abuse this poor guy has had to deal with. But now, I have some new people on my friends list, and there’s one more player on Thelanis who now knows how to do ToD.

If you’re wondering what you can do to support people who are bullied, my suggestion is pretty much what we did Friday night. No, you don’t necessarily have to host ToD, but BE THERE for people who are bullied. Make an effort to include them and make them feel welcome without patronizing them.

Publicly befriending a bullied person, IMHO, does far more to stop bullying than trying to deal with the bully. It also takes the focus off the person being bullied without putting it directly on yourself, AND lets the bullied person know he or she is not alone.

If you’d like to learn more about how this works and why, I suggest taking a look at an excellent article about Feminista Jones’ #YouOKSis campaign. While Jones specifically aims to stop street harassment of black women, the principle behind her idea works for any kind of bullying behavior.

Because of the nature of bullies, I’m aware that I’m likely to get a lot of hate for this post. Bring it on. And no, that doesn’t mean I’m bullying the bullies, although I’m sure some of them will try to paint it that way. The difference is that what I’ve said is not intended to shame, humiliate, embarrass, or otherwise upset anyone, nor is it intended to put anyone down. I could sit here and tell people about bullies, but that’s just my opinion. To really see a bully for what he or she is, you have to see him or her in action. So if you’re hatin’, let it fly. Show us your true colors.

And since I haven’t done one in a while, I decided to throw in a filk. “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers works well here. After all, trolls live under bridges. But it’s also appropriate because RHCP vocalist Anthony Kiedis wrote it to express the pain he felt at being ostracized by his bandmates after he got himself off of drugs. His struggle to still be part of the group while staying “clean” parallels the difficulty many of us have in being part of guilds or parties made up of people who troll or bully others.

Under the Bridge
(With apologies to Anthony Kiedis and Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Sometimes I feel
Like I can’t find a party
Sometimes I feel
I can’t get a chance
To join in the fun and
Be part of the action
Lonely I wander
With just an owlbear

I solo some sagas
‘Cause the groups are elitist
I work on my hit points
And beef up my gear
Still some parties shun me
They tell me I’m too gimped
I say it’s no big deal
But that is a lie

Why you wanna make me feel
Like I’m useless now?
Just because I’m not like you
Why’d you put me down?
Why you wanna make me feel
Like I’m useless now?
Just because I’m not like you
Why’d you put me down?
Yeah, yeah, yeah

It’s hard to believe
That some players are so cruel
It’s hard to believe
How they hate all the rest
At least I have honor
Kindness and compassion
Lonely is nothing
Compared to hatred

Why you wanna make me feel
Like I’m useless now?
Just because I’m not like you
Why’d you put me down?
Why you wanna make me feel
Like I’m useless now?
Just because I’m not like you
Why’d you put me down?

Oh no, no no, yeah, yeah
Grow up, I say, yeah, yeah
For once

Under the bridge the trolls
Laugh and sneer and smirk
Under the bridge the trolls
Flame and act like jerks
Under the bridge the trolls
Show their nasty sides
Under the bridge the trolls
Make up all their lies

Yeah, yeah, yeah
Oh no, no, no
Yeah, yeah

Stop the hate

 

You’ve come a long way, baby July 21, 2014

Victaurya

Once upon a time, there was a little elf rogue running around Harbor in Thelanis, blowing up trapboxes, swinging a rapier, getting left in the dust by parties who only wanted Ingenious Debilitation bonuses, and generally just trying not to get killed.

That little elf rogue is Victaurya, my very first toon, who was born on Dec. 8, 2010. Saturday night, then-level-27 Vic ran her first-ever Fire on Thunder Peaks (she died once because she got stuck crowd-surfing and once when one of the dragons hit her for 1100 damage, but did respectably in the kill count and tossed some scroll healing around), after which I realized she was getting really, really close to level cap, so Vey and I ran – wow, memory fail, I can’t remember what we ran, LOL. But it was enough to get Vic the XP she needed to reach level 28 and be capped.

It’s always cool to level up, especially when it’s a “benchmark” level like 20 or 28. On Vic, it was especially sweet.

Victaurya

Vic’s gone through a lot since that fateful Wednesday night back in the winter of 2010. As I was completely new to DDO, I went with one of the path builds – think it was Thief-Acrobat – and stayed on that path until around level 8 or 9, when my friend Ethan explained feats, enhancements, stats, and career paths to me. Up until then, she just followed her path, and the now-thankfully-ex-boyfriend told her what to spend her action points on.

Luckily Ethan knew a lot more about that stuff than the ex did, and also wanted to help me play a toon I actually liked to play. He asked what my favorite part of playing Vic was, and I told him I really liked being able to pick locks and disarm traps – two things that Even couldn’t do.

And speaking of Even, I rolled her up two days after I created Vic, because the ex had decided to reroll his fighter into a wizard and wanted a tanky type around to protect him. Unfortunately for Vic, this meant that her playing time took a serious nosedive for quite a while.

Anyway, Ethan suggested that Vic try being a mechanic instead of a thief-acrobat, and talked me through resetting her enhancements. And suddenly my poor neglected rogue was fun to play again.

She’s never quite gotten back to being my main, as evidenced by how long it took me to cap her. My intention with her was always to make her more of a support toon; she’s not as solo-able as Even or Acanthia or Jall or even Dissy, since her self-healing consists mostly of Healing Spring and heal scrolls.

But I’m proud of her. She’s never done any kind of reincarnation, so she’s still a 28-point build. But she can get her Search up to 102 just with self-buffing, and her other rogue skills can mostly hit the high 90s. And with decent party buffs in Shiradi, she can top 800 HP. Her UMD allows her to spot heal and rez, and her DPS, with a Needle and Quiver of Poison, is respectable.

Victaurya

I’ve been asked when I’m going to reincarnate her. It’s not something I really can answer. I don’t have any plans to TR her in the near future; as she is now, she does everything I really want her to do, and that’s all I care about.

There’s always room for improvement, and six more build points would certainly not go to waste. But Vic’s not even close to being done with this life yet. I can’t wait to see how far she can go.

 

Life gets real July 11, 2014

Jaded kobold

Been kind of a while since I blogged, huh?

Real life has an annoying habit of interfering with DDO. Various surgeries for both parents, trying to get established as a serious freelance writer, dealing with some medical issues my kitty has… it all takes a toll. I *need* my playing time to decompress; unfortunately that means my time for blogging and working on OurDDO gets cut.

Months n’ months n’ months ago, the lovely and talented grimorde coded a rather brilliant carousel for OurDDO, much like the “Featured Blogs” section on the old MyDDO. I uploaded her test file to the site, admired it… and kinda left it there, because there was still the drudgery of updating a ton of links and finding/making icons for 40+ blogs.

Anyway, I finally buckled down, spent several nights updating links and such, and then blew off NWO with Shin and Comic tonight (sorry, guys :/) to do all the icons and port everything over to a new site, because I’m having some issues with the hosting on the current site and want to make sure I have a backup plan. The new site’s got a small display issue I haven’t figured out yet, but it’s functional. I’m going to keep both sites going for the time being.

Sadly, I’m *not* going to continue updating the feed at present. I’ve had too many issues trying to find a site to handle it – small limits on the number of feeds you can add; serious unreliability; not being able to add/edit feeds; etc. I had high hopes for Yahoo! Pipes, but 1) it’s no longer actively supported by Yahoo!, from what I’m told, and 2) it kept “dropping” feeds because apparently the way it pings sites looking for new posts tends to get it flagged as malware. The current feed is operational, but doesn’t contain recent additions to the blogroll. I’m hoping to eventually have the time and ambition to come up with another solution, since I know a number of people like to use feed readers.

Acanthia

And now for some really awesome news – I’ve been participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the past several years, and I’m a member of a NaNo group that meets a few times a month. My friend and fellow NaNo-er Carrie submitted her novel, “Seashell, Stork and Apple Tree,” for Amazon.com’s Breakthrough Novel Award this year.

“Officially,” there were 10,000 entries for the award. So we were excited when she was named a quarterfinalist (top 100 in each of five categories). And we were REALLY excited when she made it to the semifinals (top five per category).

And now… SHE’S A FINALIST! She won first place overall in the Young Adult category, which guarantees her a $15,000 advance and a publishing contract with Amazon.com. Now she’s facing the winners in the other four categories for first place overall!

While Amazon.com made the selections from the start of the contest through the five finalists, now it’s up to a public vote. You can download and/or read free excerpts from all five finalists and cast your vote here.

I’m lucky enough to have read Carrie’s whole novel, because she E-mailed it around to our group for critique before she sent it off. But I’m not giving any spoiler alerts! If you have time, please do check out the finalists and vote… and if you happen to vote for Carrie’s entry, consider yourself gifted with virtual cookies from me! :D

 

Fun for ALL IV: Stop. Think. Win. February 16, 2014

Seregeth

I’m a firm believer in the idea that a reasonably intelligent player on a gimped toon beats an idiot on an ubertwink 99.99% of the time.

Sere, my Shadar-Kai assassin rogue, definitely fits the “gimped” category. I really need to do some shopping and/or farming for her; at level 22, she’s still wearing mostly the stuff she came with. What few things she has that I’ve gotten her are still nothing to write home about – for example, I put her in a Parasitic Breastplate about five levels ago and still haven’t gotten her anything better. And she needs a +2 Con shrine to reach the 400-hit point mark.

So the other night, when Vey asked me if I had anyone 20-24 to run EE Carnival, the last toon I was thinking of was Sere. I told Vey I’d bring Chalei, and he said, “We could really use a trapper.”

Well, Vic’s a dandy trapper, IMHO, but she’s lvl 27. So I said, jokingly, “Great, I’ll get Sere and you can carry her stone from trap to trap.”

And Vey was all, “Bring her.” Which made me all, “OMG NOOOO, she’s gonna diiiieeeee!” But Vey kept being all, “BRING HER. She’s not gonna die. You’ll be fine.”

Oh, and did I mention we were short-manning without a healer? This had disaster written all over it.

Except it didn’t. Sere died a total of twice in all four quests combined, once when Crateos one-shotted her (which also took out one of our other party members). I can’t remember what her other death was; think it might have been a caster in Partycrashers. She needed a GH to find the traps a few times (and oops, she probably wouldn’t have if I’d remembered to swap in her search/spot item) but had no trouble disarming them.

And no… she did NOT pike. In fact, in three of the four quests, she finished second in the kill count, and definitely had enough kills in each of them to show that she was contributing.

Sere’s ability to be productive in epic elite content was definitely not the result of her build or gear. Nor was it any great skill on my part. I didn’t do anything that required a genius IQ or uber playing ability. But, I didn’t do anything *stupid* either.

Seregeth

I know Sere’s HP is low. I know she probably won’t survive pulling aggro. So I kept her in sneak mode most of the time, let the rest attack first and grab aggro, and only then did I move in. Pretty simple, really – but my gimpy toons have more than once carried the soulstones of better-built, better-geared characters played by people who rushed into a fight without thinking about the best way for them to approach it.

It helped that by the time we got to Big Top, we had a paladin who tossed a few Lay On Hands Sere’s way, and someone – think it was the bard – threw her a Cocoon from time to time. And it really helped that the rest of the party were smart, experienced players who were very good at keeping a gimpy undergeared rogue alive.

Sere was still about 20K short of level 22 when we finished the chain. A quick two-man EN Snitch with Vey almost did the trick – she was still 137 XP shy. Vey DDoored back to the start while Sere was still trying to figure out what she could trash to make inventory space for her shiny epic loot, and did one of the optionals to get her to 22.

I think a green steel HP item would be a good first step in un-gimping Sere. She flagged for Shroud a while back but hadn’t run it yet. Seemed like every time I put up an LFM, we filled without a healer so I ended up switching to Jall. (My groups are always gimp/first-timer friendly, so running without hjealz is not a great idea.) Last night she finally got her chance, and again managed to get a decent number of kills without dying herself (well, y’know, except for that one part after Phase 4). People were great about passing her shards of power, and she ended up with one regular, one great and one supreme. Looks like I’ll be doing some GS crafting tomorrow!

Earlier last night, Chalei ran her first ToD and had a great time once she managed to get and stay online. In the first run, we’d just dropped down to the doggie doors when I got a blue screen of death. Once I got the computer back up and running, it took me several tries before I could get all the way on DDO without crashing, and it was a nice surprise to find that someone had grabbed Chalei’s soulstone from the penalty box and carried it along so I wouldn’t be stuck there when I got back. The party was in Phase 2 by the time I got back on, and I crashed again about 10 seconds after I got rezzed, so I was kinda glad to get back on yet again and find out that there’d been a mishap with the shadows and they wiped, because that meant another chance for Chalei.

Second run went much smoother, except that Chalei was kinda forced to pike against Nyth. Any time she hit him with anything, he immediately aggroed *hard* on her. So she ended up having to stand off to one side blocking; I had some cure scrolls at the ready figuring that maybe she could at least be useful that way, but our two hjealers did a great job keeping everyone’s red bars up.

 

Let’s get bagged January 29, 2014

Evennote

I get lost. A lot.

I once spent something like three or four hours looking for the entrance to Chains of Flame before giving up. Running the VoN 3 pre-quest with Baz the other night, I managed to get turned around during a lag spike and then had no idea where I was. I get lost in public areas. Vey and Abs and Sadie all know that if I’m in their DQ group, they better make sure someone waits at the entrance to Sands to lead me to the quest, because no matter how many times I’ve done it, I still can’t find it the next time.

Heck, I’ve put up LFMs that go something like, “IP, most stuff dead, hopelessly lost.” Once a friend of mine who was already running VoN 5 saw one of those; he dropped group, led me to the end, and then rejoined his VoN party. If the Maps page on DDO wiki had a phone number, I’d have it on speed dial. I can’t find my way out of a paper bag.

My friends are well aware of this – well, run more than a quest or two with me and it’s kinda hard to miss. I should have a macro: “Wait, where did you guys go?”

So I had this idea. Actually it wasn’t my idea; I’m pretty sure it was Keava’s. But it’s so perfect for me I’ve decided to appropriate it…

I want a bag of bread crumbs.

You know, like in “Hansel and Gretel.” The siblings leave a trail of bread crumbs so they can find their way home.

Even

I’m thinking a little bag of crumbs that equips to the trinket spot. There could be different sizes – maybe a hundred or so crumbs for people who basically know their way around and are just checking out a small area, right on up to the Bottomless Bag of Badass Bread for hopeless cases like me. Spice things up by making them available in different colors (Even wants green to match her hair, of course; Dissy’s partial to pink; Chalei has her heart set on ice blue). Put them in the DDO store and watch them fly off the shelves – I’d be happy to drop quite a lot of TP on something like that. *Especially* if it’s BtA instead of BtC, because spending my hard-earned points on stuff I can only use on one toon kinda sucks.

Just make sure the bags aren’t so big I could fall in, because you know… I can’t find my way out of a paper bag.

 

I’m thankful… for griefers November 28, 2013

Evennote

Yep, you read the post title right. I’m thankful for griefers. And for newbs, and for mistakes. Probably seem like strange things to appreciate, right?

But if nothing bad ever happens, how will we recognize good when it comes along?

Last night – well, early this morning – Even, Baz, Slvr, Bene and some truly awesome people managed to salvage elite Shroud and elite ToD despite some pretty overwhelming odds against them. The specifics will definitely be a topic for another post soon, but here’s a taste…

Our Shroud group had three griefers who did everything they possibly could to try and make us fail. I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt for as long as I could, but by Phase 3 it was obvious that they were definitely out to sabotage us. So I asked the rest if they wanted to recall and reform without the griefers or press on, and the vote was unanimous – keep going and make the best of it. Things got ugly at times, but we persevered and got the completion.

Our ToD group, thankfully, had good people, but several first-timers and no Sully tank. Even’s dual-tanked Horoth and Sully before but not with newbies in the party, so the endfight was… interesting, LOL, and definitely longer than usual. But the real test came in the second part, with Nytherios and the shadows. One of the first-timers apparently had some item with an area of effect spell, because he got aggro from the shadows immediately and kept getting it back. Even, who was tanking shadows, ended up having to go up on the platform and intim everything, including Nyth, to give the rest of the party a chance to rez and heal.

How we made it through, I have no idea. At least once, Even was the only one left alive and was tanking both Nyth and shadows while trying to get Bene raised so he could start getting everyone else up. With both Nyth and the shadows on Even, most of the party couldn’t do anything more than pike so they wouldn’t draw shadow aggro, and Nyth’s health went down REALLY slowly… but it did go down, and when he finally dropped, for me it was an amazing feeling.

So I’m glad there are griefers to make me appreciate all the wonderful DDO players who pitch in to get the job done with teamwork. I’m glad there are newbs and gimps because helping someone learn helps ME learn and often ends up with new friends made. And I’m glad there are mistakes to overcome, because while it’s always nice to get a smooth completion, those aren’t the runs I remember. The ones that stick in my mind, the ones that make me feel like I’ve really accomplished something, are the ones like last night, where a bunch of non-elite players faced some pretty daunting circumstances and still found a way to win.

 

Chasing immortality November 25, 2013

Evennote

 

A few nights ago, Vey paid Even one of the nicest compliments she’s ever gotten – “Even’s pretty much impervious.”

 

“Impervious” is exactly what Even is built to be, as much as possible. I like to think of her as a Timex watch – “takes a licking and keeps on ticking.” She doesn’t kill a lot of stuff; after all, she thinks DPS stands for, “Duh, pally slow.” But she doesn’t GET killed by a lot of stuff, either.

 

Sometimes she can’t even seem to get killed when she WANTS to. Last night she teamed up with Vey, Suz and one of their friends (and later Baz as well) for some EE Gianthold questing. Once the end boss in Feast or Famine was down, everybody ran into the tent to loot. Even had a LOT of aggro (well, that’s her job), so she let the others get clear before heading in, and then found herself crowd-surfing on top of a horde of angry orcs. She couldn’t get back out of the tent to get to the DDoor Vey had put up, so he told her to just let them kill her and then release.

 

Well, I was fine with that. But Even apparently had other ideas. Her HP would drop into the teens or even single digits… and suddenly jump back up by a few hundred. I checked her combat log and found that Reactive Heal was responsible – except Reactive Heal is an enhancement in the cleric Radiant Servant tree. We didn’t have any clerics, nor any Favored Souls, or anyone with splashes in either class. Even was the closest thing to a divine in the party. So after a bit of discussion, we surmised that maybe it was a glitch where the buff stayed with you even after it should have expired. (I remember hearing about a buff that did that, just can’t remember which one.)

 

I mostly forgot about it until a few hours later when I decided, for reasons I don’t even know, that I wanted to try a solo ToD run on Even. She’s attempted it before, but can’t get past Nytherios – not because he kills her, but because the shadows heal him faster than she can damage him. But the last time she tried, she didn’t have Celestia or a Shamanic Fetish or con-op goggles.

 

Bold, who was in the middle of his own solo attempt in EE Tracker’s Trap (and he succeeded!), offered me a ship invite but no one was on his boat at the time. Luckily for me, Sady’s party had just finished a dungeon, although Meli beat her to the shipvite button.

 

A nicely buffed Even marched out to Amrath. The Judge/Jailer fight was a bit tedious – stand and swing, stand and swing, stand and swing, get thrown across the room, stand and swing, drink a curse pot, repeat ad  nauseum. But their red bars went down a lot faster than on Even’s previous two attempts, and she was taking a LOT less damage. Last time I had to carefully meter her Lay On Hands to make them last and went through a fair number of pots (well, by Even’s standards) keeping her mana up for Cocoon, Avenging Light, and replenishing her buffs. This time she used NO pots and was never down more than two Lay On Hands.

 

So I was feeling cautiously optimistic as Even uttered the disconcerting passphrase, “Eberron burns,” and stepped into Nytherios’ chamber. I had Celestia in her main hand and her green steel cold stick in the off one, Energy Sheath twisted in from Draconic Incarnation, and a stack of fire shield scrolls in case she ran low on mana.

 

Well… it didn’t start off on a very promising note. Just like before, for every little dent she’d put in Nyth’s red bar, the shadows would quickly heal him back to full. I was talking to Sady via tells, lamenting Even’s lack of sufficient DPS, and said that I figured I might as well just let them kill her instead of spending hours on a lost cause.

 

That should’ve been easy, right? Heaven knows my toons often find it discouragingly simple to get killed when they’re trying to stay alive. You’d think getting killed when you want to would be a piece of cake.

 

But Even’s HP would drop… I’d see her actually fall to the ground… and suddenly she’d be back up with a few hundred HP. I was pretty darn puzzled. Not complaining, mind you. Just puzzled. So I stopped Cocooning and started looking through her gear, feats, EDs and whatnot, trying to figure out what was going on.

 

Turns out that one of the core abilities in the Sacred Defender enhancement tree is a nifty little thing called Eternal Defender. Not sure who came up with that name, but they sure got it right…

 

While Eternal Defender is active, if you drop below 0 hit points but are not killed, two uses of Turn Undead are immediately expended and you receive a reactive heal for 250 points of Positive Energy healing.

 

I’m not sure it’s working quite as intended; I didn’t notice Even’s turns going down, but her smites, which should regen once per 90 seconds, hit zero and never came back. It was amazing to watch – I really wish I’d gotten video. (Maybe next time!) Over and over again, Even’s HP would drop below 0 and suddenly, without me doing anything at all, she’d have 500 HP and be back up swinging.

 

And miraculously, maybe from continuing to spam Cleave and Great Cleave and Sunder and Avenging Light (woulda been nice to have had those smites for DPS too, but can’t complain with the unexpected healing she got instead)… Nyth’s health started to drop. V-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y, but just a little bit faster than the shadows were healing him. All I really had to do was make sure she either had Energy Sheath or Fire Shield active so the cold spells hit her for small amounts; that way she’d drop below 0 HP but wouldn’t be killed, giving Eternal Defender a chance to kick in and save her.

 

Except it was REALLY boring sitting there just watching her swing away. This went on for probably a good half hour or so; meanwhile I was talking to Sady and working on the last little bit I needed for my NaNoWriMo project this year (which paid off, as I’m now at 50,012 words for my third straight win)… and I forgot to pay attention to the timer on her Energy Sheath.

 

Oops. She was down to about 25 or 30 HP and I was thinking her Eternal Defender was going to kick in at any second – but then she was dead, hit by a shadow that did 73 cold damage instead of the 10-15 they’d been doing.

 

But don’t get too cocky, Nyth. I have a feeling Even will be back for you tomorrow night.

 

Have you hugged a paladin today? October 1, 2013

Evennote

Dear Turbine,
I would like to suggest that the first week in October be hereafter
officially designated as “Paladin Appreciation Week.”
Love, Even <3

 

Sometimes Even’s total lack of DPS makes me forget about all the amazing things she CAN do. Luckily for her, a pair of posts by Geoff Hanna and Adiurd reminded me that a paladin tank can be incredibly fun to play.

 

It’s easy to forget all the great things about paladins when you see a monk or barb doing quadruple-digit damage, or when you see all the paladin hate in forum posts and the advice channel. Want to get flamed? Just ask for advice on a paladin build – it’s a guaranteed 5000% troll bonus to threat.

 

Even's BoB XP report

XP report – click for full size.

Seeing two people whose opinions I respect and admire speaking up publicly via blog in favor of paladins made me kinda proud of Even… so proud that I decided to try something I haven’t quite managed with Acanthia yet. I wanted to solo an epic elite. REALLY solo – no hirelings, no summons – and REALLY epic elite. Not doing Impossible Demands or Rusted Blades the “easy” way on EE. Even squishy rogue Vic can do that. One fight isn’t EE in my book. So nothing that involved invis-ing and running to the end for one fight either. I didn’t want to solo an EE so I could say to other people, “Look, I soloed an EE.” I wanted to solo an EE so I could say to MYSELF, “Hey, I soloed an EE!”

 

Acanthia’s come very, VERY close. In fact, a few hours before Even’s attempt, Acanthia made it all the way to just outside the end fight in Bargain of Blood before she got neg leveled to death (note to self: next time keep an eye on her buff bar so you know when to drink another DW pot). I chose BoB for Even as well; Snitch seemed an obvious choice, but I found out the hard way that the seer in the first fight heals herself faster than Even can damage her, and also is annoyingly good at hitting Even with Greater Command.

 

Was it pretty? Oh HELL no! It seemed to take Even forever to beat down each mob. On the plus side, they didn’t seem to be able to do much damage to HER either. Throughout the entire quest, I think she dropped below 600 HP – my “Uh-oh, it’s Lay on Hands time” danger signal – maybe half a dozen times. Rejuvenation Cocoon was mostly enough to keep her red bar at a healthy level, although she did go through all seven of her seven greater mnemonic pots and two majors that she really just carries to reimburse healers. It’s amazing how fast that 10 SP from Cocoon adds up when you’re using it as your main source of heals – and when you have less than 450 SP to start with. Of course, she also had to refresh her buffs a few times, and – since I forgot to twist in something more useful before I got into the quest – she used Energy Sheath from Draconic Incarnation quite a bit when there were casters around.

 

Evennote

 

Still, I don’t think I really believed she was going to do it until I realized that she had the General Manager down to about 10%. His red bar dropped incredibly slowly; for a good two or three minutes, when she had him at about 75%, I was starting to wonder if he was managing to heal himself somehow, because his health didn’t seem to budge at ALL.  Once he was finally down, the Manager was a much easier fight. It took a while to get him pinned in a corner so he wasn’t jumping all over, but after that it was pretty much auto-attack, sit back, and hit Cocoon every so often.

 

So hug a paladin today! They’re amazingly fun, and don’t forget to thank them for keeping the aggro off YOU.

 

Hanging up the plow September 26, 2013

Victaurya

 

I’d been SO good.

 

After my last post, I resolved to stay away from Spinner of Shadows for a while. I was just Spinnered out. And until last night, I’d kept that resolution. Not ONCE since I made that post had I set foot in that webby, columned room.

 

I’m not sure why I decided to give it another try. Maybe it was because Acanthia looked so bored, just hanging out on the ship sorting through bank stuff. Her Neverwinter alter ego had already gotten a fun couple of hours playing with Shin, Comic and Bonnie; Even’d run elite ToD before that. It just didn’t seem fair to stick poor DDO Acanthia at the bank.

 

“Just ONE more try,” I told myself sternly. “I don’t care what drops or doesn’t drop. You’re not running this damn quest more than once tonight.”

 

But once was all it took, because gleaming at me from that beautiful pink epic chest was my long-sought-after Shard of the Silver Slinger, the last piece Vic needed to epickify one of her favorite crossbows.

 

I think Garret the Fainted, I mean Tainted, er, no, Sainted jinxed me. Usually when Acanthia solos EH quests, she brings him along for deathward and as a failsafe in case of lag spikes and such. But the last few times, I noticed she was using her healing ki to keep HIM up far more than he was healing HER. So Garret stayed in the hireling folder, playing poker with the owlbears, panther and the level 24 rogue hire. (It may have been strip poker. They didn’t say, and I didn’t ask ’cause I didn’t really want to know.)

 

With no Garret around to worry about, the quest itself didn’t take long. Once the fighting was done, Baz and Slvr jumped in to give me a few extra chances at the shard, and then I put up a “free loot” LFM.

 

I’m not sure who passed me the shard – I’m almost positive it didn’t drop in my name, because I didn’t see it when I first opened the chest. Or maybe I’d just gotten so used to NOT seeing it that I didn’t realize what it was. Then someone said, “The shard dropped!” And I looked again… and there it was.

 

Victaurya

 

And now I’m really, REALLY never going into Spinner again… until it’s time to epickify Char’s Bow of the Silver Flame.

 

Bite me, Spinner September 19, 2013

Victaurya

 

Y’know how when you click on the Silver Flame Guardian in “Spinner of Shadows,” you get a dialogue box with the Guardian telling you crap about granting you its essence and how it can help you defeat the Spinner and all that?

 

I don’t get that any more. When I click the Guardian, there’s a little exasperated pause, and then it gives me a box that says, “Seriously? You AGAIN? Stop bothering me! If I wanted you to have that shard, I’d’ve given it to you by now.”

 

No, it doesn’t really say that. But it might as well. Vic has a Silver Slinger, a Scroll of the Silver Slinger, and a Seal of the Silver Slinger. She’s had them for quite a while. But sadly, the shard eludes me, despite running Spinner so many times, I find myself looking for ward crystals every time I squash a spider on the bathroom wall.

 

I’ve run it solo. I’ve run it in groups. I’ve run it on eNorm because I didn’t know if they’d fixed the bug that was preventing epic scrolls/seals/shards from dropping on higher difficulties, and then started running it on eHard after I found out that – as they should – epic upgrade items seem to drop more frequently there.

 

Last night I got the bright idea, after soloing EH Spinner on Acanthia, to put up an LFM for free loot and ask for the shard to be passed, should it drop. The party filled in record time, but no shard for anyone, at least not the Silver Slinger one. Too bad I’m not trying to epic a Luminous Truth or pretty much any item that starts with Templar, because those show up more often than chicken butt jokes on Miley Cyrus’ YouTube channel.

 

Every night, after I get to the point where I’ve Spinnered till I just can’t Spinner no more, I say, “I give up. I am never, ever, EVER running that #$%& quest again.” And then the next night rolls around, and despite my best intentions, I find myself trotting down to Harbor to talk to Orrex once again. Last night, though, I actually meant it… but only because I’d hit ransack. And then I remembered that I don’t have to run it on Acanthia, not when I have Even, Jall, Vic, Dissy, Char and Meren all eager for loot and epic XP – and NOT at the ransack point.

 

It’s not like Vic doesn’t love her Needle – oh, she does, very much. And she’s quite fond of her Slaver’s Hand, too. But being just one piece away from an epic Slinger for so long – well, it’s a matter of pride now. No way am I giving up.

 

I did pick up some other scrolls and seals – alas, no shards, although I think a few of the people I ran with pulled various ones. And it occurred to me that maybe, while I wait to pull the Slinger shard, I could think about epickifying (YES, dammit, that is a word) her Doublecross Bow even though she rarely never uses it. So I dug out my scroll/seal/shard green bag and checked to see if she was missing any pieces for the Doublecross…

 

FML. I have the seal. I have THREE scrolls. But once again, no shard.

 

See you again tomorrow night, Spinner.

 

Fun for ALL, Part I – Gimp is as gimp does September 1, 2013

Jalliria

Since DDO currently won’t load for me, figured I might as well blog, y’know?

 

So, I’ve had this idea for a series running around in my head (hey, I need SOMETHING to fill up the space in there). Actually it was originally going to be a single post, but I’ve been working sporadically on the draft for a few months now and it’s way, way, WAAAAAY too long. Ergo, a series dedicated to the idea that DDO should be fun for EVERYBODY, regardless of class, race, server, skill level, or anything else.

 

A while back, after running (one of the Eveningstar quests, forget which one) on epic elite, I got a tell from someone who’s read my blog but hadn’t run with me before that night. He told me he was surprised that I ran EEs because “you keep saying you’re not an elite player,” and he also mentioned that he’d seen my LFMs, which nearly always say something like “noob/gimp friendly, first-timers welcome.”

 

Well, I’m NOT an elite player, but I DO run epic elites. I rarely PuG them mostly because, if I’m running EEs, 99% of the time I’m in a full or nearly-full-and-able-to-shortman group. I PROBABLY would not use the “noob/gimp/first-timer” disclaimer if I were putting up an LFM for an EE quest… but then again, I might, because I believe five (or 11) solid toons shouldn’t fall apart just because one person might need to be carried a bit, as long as that person is trying their best.

 

One thing I’d never done before until recently was join an EE PuG made up entirely of people I didn’t know. But I was on Jall, kind of felt like running something but couldn’t decide what, and saw an LFM for EE End of the Road with two spots open. What the heck, I thought, and clicked it.

 

I can’t remember the makeup of the party, except that Jall was the only divine, there was an arti, and only one person was over 500 HP besides Jall (in fact, two of ‘em were under 400). The leader was already in the quest, and everybody else just kind of went in when they got there and took off. So we ended up with six people who were nowhere near each other at first. Then the leader said he’d never run the quest before, and a couple others said THEY hadn’t run it before either, and turned out NONE of us had run it on EE (well, Jall had it, but from a group she’d joined late that already had most of the stuff cleared by the time she got there, so it was an easy run to the end fight – I didn’t really count that).

 

Cringe-worthy? It definitely could have been. But then the arti started making jokes about his low HP and “crappy trappy” skills (his words, not mine, although he wasn’t able to disarm any of the traps), and somebody else started making puns out of everything anybody said, and we all got to laughing, and nobody seemed to care that with a group like this, we were probably facing a guaranteed wipe.

 

The leader was far ahead of everyone else and died once in the traps around the locked chest (which he didn’t know was locked), but must have gobbled a rez cake because he got himself back up before Jall could get to him. There were some close calls, but once the rest of the party figured out which blue dot was Jall’s, they stuck close for aura healing. I did ask them to stay with me for heals so I wouldn’t have to drink pots – ASKED them, not ORDERED them, which was probably why everyone was quite happy to do so.

 

The leader, not being close to us, decided his best chance for survival was to run through without fighting. He wasn’t a jerk about it at all; there was just a lot of space, including traps and mobs, between him and us, and he figured tearing through would give him the best chance. It did slow the rest of us down a bit while we stopped to fight, but it really wasn’t a huge deal, and it beat having to look for the leader’s soulstone along the way had he tried to make it back to us (staying put for him wasn’t much of an option as he had some stuff aggro’ed on him).

 

Remember, the leader had never run the quest before. So when he got to the end, he ran through everything and jumped down into the endfight room, not realizing it was, well, the endfight room. He didn’t last long and wasn’t able to make the jump back up to the shrine to rez himself, so I figured I’d just shrine once we cleared the outer area and then the rest of us would all jump in together and I’d rez him.

 

Except Razagnol, the boss demon, was pretty darn angry by then. So we clear the inside of the main enclosure and start running around the walkway to the shrine… and even though he’s down in the room below, he starts throwing us around. Over the fence, out into the wild. Of course no two of us ever seemed to land close to each other, and there were still some dire bears and spiders out there… but miraculously no one died.

 

It probably took us at least five or six tries to find a sweet spot on the walkway where ol’ Raz couldn’t toss us out. Shrining was out of the quest, but luckily Jall wasn’t down too far on mana; she’d thrown out a few BBs but had been using aura and bursts for heals. So one major pot brought her blue bar back pretty close to full. She buffed everybody up, and then on the count of three we all charged into the end room.

 

Jall got the party leader up right away and we all TRIED to stick together – TRIED because Raz was still inclined to throw us over the fence. The upside to this was that, once tossed, nobody was taking damage out there because pretty much everything was dead. The downside was that it was really hard to stack DPs on Raz since Jall was getting thrown into the wild too often.

 

Don’t ask me how, but… once the leader was rezzed, there were no more deaths. Jall did drink one more pot towards the end from trying to spam DP, Implosion, Searing Light, and anything else she had on Raz, but everybody was great about making sure they were sticking close to her for aura and burst heals – well, when they weren’t flying through the air.

 

Nobody could have called us an epic group, or an elite group, or possibly even a GOOD group. I’m sure a lot of people would have ragequit just upon seeing our collective HP total (when Jall has 150 more HP than anyone else in the group, that’s not a good thing), or upon finding out that several people had never done the quest. Once the talking and joking and laughing started, though, that kind of stuff didn’t matter. Obviously I WANTED us to get the completion, but it would have been a great time if we hadn’t.

 

And oh yes – we DID get the completion. With just those two deaths the leader had. And the loot was crappy, but we even made jokes about that (of course, the chain rewards were better).

 

This is why I avoid LFMs that say things like, “Be uber/awesome/useful,” “Best destinies,” “KNOW IT,” “Have at least XXX HP,” “BYOH,” etc. Our gimpy little group proved you don’t need ANY of that to complete EE content. Oh, it helps, no denying that… but this run was FUN. DDO is supposed to be FUN. Not just fun for the egolitists, but fun for EVERYBODY.

 

And in other news… got up early to do some errands and then joined Comic and Mizz on a wild ride that included a trip through Haywire Foundry even though poor Yttsie is 4-5 levels below Comic’s Timp and Mizz’s, uh, Mizz and then, since Yttsie was power-leveled and got no XP, a happy jaunt through the Demon Sands, where, as Mizz pointed out, there are NO DEMONS. Real life called me away, but I left Yttsie logged in to pike slayers and came back to find that she’d picked up around 17K XP. So thanks, guys!  :)

 

Also, if you saw this on Twitter, you’re not hallucinating; that doesn’t mean *I’m* on Twitter, just that I set WordPress up to automatically twit my blog entries.  LOL

 

Grabbing life by the Storm Horns August 29, 2013

Acanthia

Given past history, I was a bit worried about the imminent release of U19, aka the Shadowfell Conspiracy. I mean, c’mon, there are still plenty of unresolved bugs – sorry, “unintended features” – from LAST year’s expansion, Menace of the Underdark.

Well, color me impressed. Even if U19 added nothing but the Storm Horns wilderness, I’d be pretty darn happy. Turbine, when you get it right, you REALLY get it right. The Storm Horns are GORGEOUS all by themselves, with amazing new mobs… satyrs! Harpies! Owlbears! Pseudodragons! GRIFFONS! Oh, oh, OH, the griffons! Please, please, please release griffon companions, because I don’t think I can live without one much longer (she sez, studiously NOT looking at the 42 – yes, really, 42 – companions she already has on Thelanis).

Acanthia

The rare encounters in Storm Horns show ample evidence that there was actual thought put into them, and probably even by someone who plays the game. While the “wounded soldier” in the above pic was out of Acanthia’s reach (and doesn’t seem to do much no matter which option you choose when he’s at ground level), there’s an ice dragon way, way high in the mountains, and a red dragon who seems to be the twin of Micahrastir (that mean guy who likes to blow you off his perch in Underdark, and blow the bridge away so you can’t get back to him). There’s a rare owlbear, a rare wood woad and a rare giant. There’s a poacher who lets you bargain for loot – one to three chests depending on how many gamey venisons and fox tails you have. There’s a tame owlbear who’ll follow you around and fight for you if you give him some venison and pet him.

And there’s my personal favorite, the one where the satyr elder wants you to dance with him. I’ve had a couple different outcomes to this one; sometimes I’ve ended up having to fight him, sometimes not. He usually ends up asking if he can cast something on me and assuring me “it won’t hurt a bit;” most of the time it’s been Otto’s, but once he buffed me with Good Hope.

Likewise, the quests show some creativity. The first one I ran was “The Tracker’s Trap,” with Baz; it was so much fun I ran it again the next night with Annie. The end fight is cool, not just a straight boss beat-down; I won’t give too much detail so as not to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t run it yet, but I’ll just say that Acanthia spent a lot of time unintentionally flying through the air.   *snicker*

Acanthia really hopes this description of

Um… and I’d want to bring my FOE back from the dead, why, exactly?

Yes, there are bugs. It’s new content; some glitches are to be expected. But – at least to me – they don’t seem NEARLY as prevalent as when MotU was released (or, for that matter, even as prevalent in the new content as they are in MotU stuff still). Acanthia was rather startled to find that Rise of the Phoenix can apparently now raise one’s enemy, although despite the description, it does NOT work on one’s friends. She hasn’t had the opportunity to see if it works on herself yet, but that would be pretty cool… although I think she liked it better when she could use it as much as she needed to raise her partymates and/or hirelings rather than just once per rest.

I’ve heard people complaining about light monks getting nerfed in the update. My experience has been just the opposite. Acanthia gained a few HP, and the devotion aspect to healing ki means her light-light-light finishing move can actually do some real good, especially to anyone with a decent amount of heal amp (she hits herself for 120-150 HP). I also like that, instead of having individual moves for remove blindness, remove curse, remove disease and lesser restoration, now I can change her stance to automatically apply the desired effect with her healing ki finisher. This is a HUGE boon in CitW. Get a couple of light monks up there mashing on Lolth, and the melees can save their curse pots. Her DPS is at least as good as ever; it actually seems a bit better, but not sure if that’s U19 or that she finally pulled Antipode the night before the update.

As I’ve only really been running Acanthia this week (with a bit of playing time for Even, Jall and Meren), it’s too soon for me to tell for sure how the update will affect everyone, but overall I’m pretty darn happy. Even picked up about 30 HP along with raising her AC, PRR and intim. Jall – who I was already pleased with – added some HP as well, and her aura now hits herself for about 15 points more than it did before. When I logged Vic in Monday night, she’d somehow gained 70 HP, which makes my squishy, gimpy, 28-point first-life trapmonkey quite happy. She did lose a few points of rogue skills across the board  (don’t think it’ll make THAT much difference, as she was at 75-80 on most of them pre-update), and I only managed to fit in one tier of Faster Sneaking, but… Vic with almost 700 HP? HECK yeah, I’ll take that.

Dissy lost one song – not a big deal, as she went from 42 to 41 – and maybe a few spell points, also not a big deal as she’s a spellsinger. She likes having Sustaining Song now, and like Jall, saw a nice increase in her positive spellpower; I think she’s a truly legitimate backup healer and could probably handle main healer duties in a well-built group.

Char seems to be about the same, HP- and SP-wise. While as an AA she’s primarily ranged, she DOES switch to dual scimis for melee, and I’m curious to see what effect the update has on her melee DPS, given the total lack of attention to TWF and THF builds. Meren also picked up HP and positive spellpower; I certainly never expected to have her over 700 HP at level 22. She got herself flagged for CitW entirely solo; I really need to have more faith in her. I did the flagging quests mostly on norm, but after her performance I think she could have easily handled hard.

I wish I’d done a lot more in Wheloon before I’d ever gone into Storm Horns, because… Wheloon just can’t measure up. Oh, the quests are fun, and the wilderness is mostly good – it just doesn’t compare even remotely to Storm Horns. Shade beholders and undead purple worms are cool, and Shadar-Kai – while scary with those chains whipping around (hey Turbine, any chance Sere, my new Shadar-Kai rogue, could get a set of those?), are pretty darn awesome.

But if there were just one thing I could change about Wheloon – THE DAMN PINK FOG MUST GO. LYK RITE NAO. Seriously. You can’t see anything, it’s freaking LAGGY as all hell, and…  prison dungeons should NEVER BE PINK. What, did the Netherese lock up Strawberry Shortcake for tax evasion? No? Then NO MOAR PINK. And no more fog; the lag is UNREAL. Maybe something like the Xoriat madness in Delirium, but in a suitably sinister color. And for the love of Khyber, make that damn priestess spawn already so I can get Journal No. 8 and clear my map.

Yttsie

And, long overdue… as promised to Empress Mizzaroo herself, here’s a shot of her on her elven arti (far right), Comic (left) and Yttsie (center) chillin’ in Smugglers’ Rest with Wee Yip Yip (far left, just in case you were thinking Comic was a kobold). While real life sadly intervened and prevented us from being able to do a Cove run together, we still had lots of fun rampaging through the wilderness killing stuff, even though Yttsie was 4-5 levels behind them (and was the only one who did not die, LOL – just hadda throw that in!).

NWO Acanthia

So, this is the first I’ve blogged in a while. Real life has been a doozy for the past few months, and seems likely to continue being a doozy for the foreseeable future. It’s cut into my playing time a bit, and into my blogging time a LOT. But, at Shin’s urging, I’ve designated Wednesday as Neverwinter Online Night. Sadly, NWO does not offer a monk class, but the NWO version of Acanthia – a TWF trickster rogue – is still a lot of fun. She’s nearly level 11 already, and one of these days I may even get used to having to use mouselook and pressing V instead of F to talk.

 

(And no, I don’t know what’s up with her abnormally long hands – maybe it’s a rogue thing.)

 

 
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