Even Now

Funz and failz in DDO

Photo album: Underdark October 15, 2014

Underdark Yuan-Ti

There are some really amazing graphics in DDO, and – in no small part inspired by Gamer Geoff‘s postcards and MMOtivational posters along with Spencerian‘s tourist guides – I’ve often thought of putting together digital photo albums of some of my favorite places.

Underdark acid pool

It used to be that I’d crank up my graphic settings when I wanted to get screenshots, then crank them back down to cut back on lag when I was done. Thanks to a new video card, I now have my settings cranked higher than they’ve ever been cranked before at all times, and I’m amazed at just how freaking BEAUTIFUL this game is. You don’t really get the full impact when you’re just upping your graphics for a few minutes at a time; you have to be running around in permanent sliders-to-the-max mode to truly appreciate it.

Underdark Daycrystals

But enough words – this is a photo album, after all. (A photo album that I was too lazy to put into a slideshow. But whatever.) I’m starting with one of my favorite places in all DDO – The Underdark.

Underdark water elemental

The elemental cave is aptly named, as it’s full of earth, air, and water – you guessed it- elementals.

Underdark Purple Worm

See that innocuous-looking pile of dirt? Ever wondered what it would feel like to be digested?

Underdark Yuan-Ti

Remember those human-ish Yuan-Ti and their aversion to tourists? The lizard-ish ones aren’t any better… AND they have “petrifying” friends.

Underdark Bloodrock Medusa

Let your guard slip around this Bloodrock Medusa and you just might find yourself becoming a permanent fixture in Nessaleesa’s Garden.

Underdark Salamander Firebrand

Wishing you’d brought your winter jacket to ward against the Underdark’s chill? Just find some Salamander Firebrands to hang out with!

Underdark Ygglyshek

Go ahead, call him “Uglyshack” – it may be the last thing you ever do.

Underdark Drider

The itsy bitsy Drider climbed up the water spout… and took steroids, and moved to the Underdark, and grew to an enormous size, the better to eat you with.

Underdark Draegloth

Speaking of steroids, either the Draegloth have developed an incredibly effective weight-lifting routine, or they make heavy use of performance-enhancing substances… not that you should take the time to ask one.

Underdark Waterfall

There are several waterfalls in the Underdark, but if that’s your thing, you’re better off going to Niagara.

Underdark webs

It’s a good idea to smash all these cocoons so you won’t fall victim to a swarm of baby Driders, although Mommy and Daddy Drider will fall upon you as soon as you reach their nest.

Underdark Dimaya

Um. Interrupting Under-Priestess Dimaya’s ritual? You went there? Really? Yeah, good luck with that.

 

Bracing for a new beginning September 20, 2014

Evennote

If you follow Players Helping Players, you may already know that my computer is being particularly temperamental right now, so my playing time until next Friday (when the PC goes in to be fixed) is iffy at best.

Tonight it seems to be running fine, although it took about an hour of running diagnostics and repair to get that way, and I figured I’d blog a bit because, well, I can.

My current project is completing as many sagas as possible on Even before Update 23 hits, because as much as she’s loved her monk life, she really, really, REALLY can’t wait to be a paladin again, especially with the paladin-friendly changes coming in U23. She’s got all of the epic sagas done along with heroic 3BC, so now she just needs to finish heroic Gianthold and the two heroic Eveningstar sagas.

Sadly for my other toons, they’ve been terribly neglected while Even farms sagas… poor Acanthia and some of her sisters actually went three weeks without being logged in. Once Even begins her third life (which will be my first-ever legend build – I don’t TR much – and will be as a Purple Dragon Knight; still undecided on whether I’m splashing fighter on her or using a heart to get rid of that first fighter level), everybody’s playing time should start balancing out a lot better.

Evennote

In almost four years, I really haven’t done much reincarnating. Even did a greater reincarnate a few years ago, and Dissy did a lesser. Even and Acanthia have each done one epic TR, while Even, Jall, Chalei, and Char have each done one heroic TR. TRing, to me, is a lot of grinding with the alt-itis I have. When I find something I want to improve or fix on a toon, I tend to swap out a feat, or reset enhancements, or get some better gear… and that’s worked out pretty well for me so far. I’m getting pretty good at keeping pace with Vey on his multi-TRed legend builds. Even my gimpier toons can solo EE Rusted Blades and Impossible Demands the “easy” way… although the “hard” way is a totally different story for some of them. LOL

Trying to level up Char and Even at the same time after their TRs was a royal pain in the neck, but I think Char is going to TR once she hits 20. I actually felt she was stronger in her first life than she is now, and after watching Slvr eTR his bard into a swashbuckler, I MUST give that a try! Dissy’s a bit too Valley Girl to really be suited for swashbuckling, but I think Char will be a natural.

So I’m off to log Even in and work on the last sagas she needs, then I’m going to drink a renown pot and turn them all in. Hopefully my NVidia card will cooperate and not gift me with the joy that is multiple BSoDs (Blue Screens of Death) in the meantime!

 

Growing up Flower Sniffer September 18, 2014

Flower Sniffers of Destiny

It’s probably been about three years now since, tired of the drama and stress from being successor and roster keeper in a huge guild, I accepted Slvr’s offer to put my semi-sekrit toon Zak in his then-one-person guild.

A few months after that, the rest of my toons followed. It was a great fit; Slvr and I have similar playtimes, similar playstyles, and similar taste in airship colors. I doubt either of us ever expected there’d be more than just us hanging out and dancing nekkid on the airship.

Well, we’re still the two who are most likely to be found cavorting sans attire atop our Stone of Change, but Shin and Comic each rolled up a Thelanis toon so we could have a Thelanis Night in addition to our weekly Cannith Night. I’m not sure if Keava joined next or if Baz moved an alt over (later followed by the rest of his toons) first. Then Sadie asked if she could put her alt account toons in our guild. And Seki, who’d run with us several times, showed up for our Friday group run a while back and took us up on our standing offer of a guild invite.

EIGHT people! Whoda thunk it? So after several weeks of getting people flagged for various stuff, I thought, hey, we should have a guild raid night – I bet we could shortman stuff.

Harahur and Even

It came down to a choice between Shroud and ToD, and we elected to go for Shroud because we didn’t have a proper shadow person in the guild and didn’t really want to PuG. Neither Sadie nor Baz made it, but other than one portal keeper showing up during Phase One, it was one awesomely smooth run. Even shortmanning, we managed to get all four chests in Phase Three, and there were NO deaths (well, y’know. Except that one part with the potential extra chest – wink wink, nudge nudge).

We followed that up with a five-man EH Devil Assault. Would’ve been a full party except Seki signed off because he had to get up early… in hindsight, we should’ve just told him to pike because Shin ended up having to go as well, so that’s what he did. Next time!

It was another smooth run, and again, no deaths. Definitely something I hope we do again soon – maybe this Friday again, we’ll see! I need to get Zak flagged and/or help Shin make a cold stick and teach him how to shadow tank so we can add ToD to our list.

Best part was definitely getting to do a guild-only raid, something I’m sure Slvr never envisioned when he made a guild for himself lo so many years ago. Next Shroud, though, nobody gets to leave until they ALL dance nekkid on the altar! *g*

And yes, the guild is called Flower Sniffers of Destiny. It used to be named after Slvr’s main, but when guild name changes became free, he renamed it – Flower Sniffers to reflect our preferred playstyle, and Destiny because that’s what our Cannith guild is called. Works for us!

 

Battlebard! September 8, 2014

Discordette

Sometimes I really need to have a little faith.

The other night, I asked Slvr, “Do I want to work on sagas with Even, or take Dissy into Thunderholme and get her killed?”

Slvr generally knows what I want better than I do, so when he told me to take Dissy to Thunderholme, I logged her in (although I lamented to him on AIM, “But she’s gonna DIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEE!”, to which he replied, “I have faith in her!”).

I wasn’t optimistic – my level 26 gimpish first-life Drow bard, alone in a level 29 wilderness? Well, not QUITE alone; she grabbed the level 24 rogue hire because I didn’t know how hard the traps would hit her, and she ended up bringing her owlbear as well to keep aggro off the rogue while he disabled.

Dissy’s intentionally built more as a support toon than as a soloer. She has yet to earn a single XP in any destiny other than Fatesinger, mostly because I’ve just never felt like farming destinies on her. So she has no handy twists, or even fate points with which to twist anything.

But her Fascinate worked surprisingly well against the undead in Thunderholme, while her Song of Capering and Otto’s kept the Cult of the Dragon necromancers from being able to do anything except dance. Even the rare encounters – she got something like eight of them – didn’t give her much trouble. The biggest problem she had was completely breaking her Elyd Edge on the battleragers (’cause I forgot to grab her a Mutineer’s Blade from the shared bank) and having to turn to her Mad Lute.

I’d only been planning to take her as far as Dagan to flag her for Fire on Thunder Peak, but I’d gotten pretty far through the levels when I realized I’d gone the wrong way (me, lost? NEVER!) and was actually headed for *gulp* Sarva.

I wasn’t too worried about Dissy’s ability to take out Dagan. But Sarva… Sarva and her minions are another story. So when I finally reached the very bottom of Thunderholme and saw her standing there in the center, I decided my best option was to park the rogue and owlbear by the shrine, invis Dissy, and sneak over to get the journal.

Oops. I must’ve double-clicked when I told the owlbear to stay put, because he followed Dissy in, and of course Sarva saw him. Uh-oh.

I summoned the rogue, had Dissy play Sustaining Song, and buffed as fast as I could. Then I started spamming Dirge and sonic spells interspersed with Siren’s Song.

It got pretty ugly. I had to rez the owlbear several times, and the rogue once or twice as well. And Dissy came scarily close to dying herself more than once.

But Sarva’s red bar dropped to a sliver and then poof! she was dead, thanks to Siren’s Song going off at a VERY opportune time. Dissy and her hires took out Sarva’s minions, looted, and recalled, because by that point nearly all her gear was in serious need of repair (plus it was around 6 am and I kinda wanted sleep).

After facing Sarva, taking out Dagan the next night was a piece of cake. So my gimpy little bard is flagged for both dragon raids, where I have no doubt she’ll die frequently and ignominiously… well, almost no doubt. After all, I didn’t think she even stood a chance against the ordinary mobs in Thunderholme, let alone Sarva and Dagan.

So look out, Aurgloroasa, Nevalarich, and Tharaxata. Dissy’s coming for you!

 

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.

 

 
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