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.

 

The fairest of them all October 8, 2014

Discordette

In real life, I like cute clothes and makeup and especially nail polish. But with the possible exception of the polish, I’ve never been overly obsessed with fashion.

Somehow, though, I’ve ended up with a pair of Valley Girl toons. When I sign off of DDO, I just know that Dissy and Chalei head for the mall, where they undoubtedly do a lot of giggling, a bit of squealing, and generally act, well, silly.

Dissy’s the more *whispers* airheaded of the two, although in typical airhead fashion, she doesn’t know it. She liked the way her blue dragonscale armor matched her Skyvault Shield (not sure why the pic on Wiki is different – Dissy has an EE one and it’s *definitely* blue), but it wasn’t the kind of thing she wanted to be caught dead wearing outside of dungeons.

For quite some time now, she’s been ooh-ing and aah-ing over the Elocator’s Habiliment Jall pulled from Mindsunder, oh, aaaaages ago. Poor Dissy, being a bard, only has light armor proficiency, though, and the Habiliment is medium armor. It seemed she was doomed to appearing less than a fashion plate.

And then… DDO introduced the Mirror of Glamering.

In case you haven’t heard of this nifty little gadget yet, it lets you take any armor (or goggles, or helm) and turn it into a cosmetic armor kit. There are a VERY few caveats; Jall really wants the Gleaming Plate that comes standard with iconic Sun Elf characters, but that armor is race restricted to Sun Elves only, and that restriction carries over to any cosmetic kits made from it. And Acanthia’s quite partial to the old pale red/tan Leaf 1 outfit armor kit, but those old kits were BtC and only worked on the original armor they were applied to – while the Mirrors work on armor with the newer kits applied, they don’t work on armor with the older kits.

Still, the 245 TP price is a pretty good deal, especially considering that the armor (or helm, or goggles) kits the Mirrors make are bound to account, AND that the original item is preserved. So you could take, say, a blue dragonscale robe, Mirror it into a kit, and end up with both the original robe AND a BtA armor kit that can be used to make any armor kit look like that robe.

Chalei

And that’s just what Chalei did. Because Chalei, though not quite as fashion-obsessed as Dissy, nonetheless hated the “drabness” of her Spidersilk Robes. Oh, they were fine for Zak; he’s a pale master, so basic black suits him fine. But a water savant with sky blue hair? Uh, no.

So another Mirror went for Chalei to slip into something more comfortable… or at least more color-coordinated. Now that her Spidersilk Robes have been glamered to look like her old blue dragonscale robes, she can focus on nuking the living crap out of stuff instead of worrying about whether black robes make her complexion look too pasty.

Two Mirrors, two very happy toons – hard to beat that!

 

You gotta have hearts October 7, 2014

Zak

Maybe it was how well Even’s recent TR turned out that I decided to go on a bit of a reincarnation spree the past two days.

First it was Meren, who’s been wandering through epic levels kind of aimlessly, not sure if she wants to be a healer or a caster or even a melee. I have a friend who’s starting a new toon and wanted a rogue along; I asked Meren (yes, I do talk to my toons) and she reckoned traps were something she could deal with.

Meren

I didn’t want to make a carbon copy of either Vic or Sere, since they’re all individuals in their own right; instead, Meren is going to focus primarily on trap skills and secondarily on DPS and assassinate DCs. We also have a monk, so Meren’s melee damage won’t be crucial.

Next it was Zak’s turn. I considered just swapping out a couple of feats and resetting his enhancements, but since he had something like five lesser hearts in his bank (thanks, MyDDO lottery! I knew you’d come in handy!), I decided to just give him a makeover. It nearly backfired on me when I forgot to put him back into lich form afterwards and got somewhat panicky that his HP and intelligence were a bit lower than before – in form, though, he’s right where he should be.

Riva

And then Riva decided that her charisma was really a bit low for someone who wants to be an undead specialist, so she headed out to Reincarnation Grove as well. She was originally going to be a divine caster, but being the strong-willed Morninglord she is, felt that her talents would be better suited to blasting the un-living crap out of undead.

Now her charisma is maxed, her wisdom is almost maxed, and the rest of her build points went mostly to Con with a few in Str and Int (for skill points). I haven’t taken her out for a spin yet (hey, it’s tiring doing all that reincarnating and leveling up and spending action points and re-populating hotbars), but I did check out her hjeals, and they’re looking pretty good – she hit herself for 966 on a cure light crit.

Evennote

Meanwhile, Even is still having an awesome time tearing through stuff and laughing at anything that attempts to damage her. At level 15, still in mostly the PDK starter gear, she’s got PRR of 120 and MRR of 86, and her base damage with the standard-issue PDK longsword is in triple digits. Heck, on her paladin life, I was stunned if she could crit in triple digits! (LOL, well, not really; she was mostly using Celestia at the time, and that worked fairly well for her. But still.)

I’m also happy to report that she’s back to her usual acid green hair color. Somehow, Even just isn’t Even until her hair is chartreuse. I need to find her some armor that’s more green-ish. Nothing against the PDK armor (oddly enough, while she got all the other PDK starter gear, she didn’t get the armor cosmetic, just the armor itself – good thing she’s not overly partial to it!), it’s just not really Even’s style. She’d really like to have the Deneith armor, the one the guy on the House D splash screen is wearing, but I’m not sure that’s actually available ingame anywhere.

If you count Even’s epic, heroic, and lesser reincarnations, plus Zak and Meren and Riva, that’s six reincarnations in the past few days, which probably close to doubles my total reincarnations, like, EVER. I’m really surprised at how painless it was. I might have to do this more often!

 

Back where she belongs October 6, 2014

Evennote

I loved – seriously, loved – Even’s first life as a paladin.

Damage mitigation, self-healing, aggro getting and keeping… tanking was boatloads of fun. She was pretty good at it, IMHO, and she got plenty of requests for her tanking services.

There was just the little matter of her little DPS. In parties, it never mattered. As long as stuff was trying to kill Even and leaving everybody else alone, it was all good. But soloing could get tedious because it took her longer than most people to kill stuff. And I’m the kind of player who likes to kill everything rather than rushing through, which made questing solo on Even even longer.

It still wasn’t that big a deal until she started running into stuff that could self-heal – namely Nythirios, the boss at the end of the second phase of Tower of Despair. Solo-wise, it took her a couple of tries to figure out how to damage him faster than the shadows healed him, and even when she did, it wasn’t *much* faster.

I wasn’t looking to turn her into a lean, mean, DPS machine. I just wanted her damage output to be a little better. Ergo, she just spent 28 levels as a monk/rogue/fighter. And it was fun. Her DPS got pretty crazy, her trap skills up to EH were adequate (EE traps mostly just laughed at her attempts to find them, though), and her self-healing was usually adequate.

Still, she’s a paladin at heart. And as much as I enjoyed her monk life, I really missed the Even who I knew I could take into any quest, any difficulty, and be standing at the end.

So when I found out that paladins were getting some love in Update 23, I rejoiced. A lot. The day of the update, I took her out for one last monk spin, through the epic Orchard wilderness. And then she headed for Reincarnation Grove.

My plan was to do an epic TR immediately followed by a heroic TR into a Purple Dragon Knight, and then use a +1 lesser heart of wood to swap out the first fighter level and go pure paladin. It almost went off without a hitch.

The eTR went just as planned (I went martial for her PL). The heroic TR also went swimmingly. But it was late (or early, depending on your point of view), I was tired, and I just wanted to get the reincarnating over with and get some sleep. So after the heroic TR, rather than leveling her up to 15, I figured I’d just do the LR right away since I’d be leveling back up from that anyway.

So I opened up the lesser reincarnate dialog, dragged the heart into the box, and got a message that I couldn’t reincarnate because I was banking levels.

Oops, didn’t see that coming. Well, no biggie, I thought; I’ll just go to the paladin trainer and level up as fast as I can, then do the LR. So out of Reincarnation Grove, back through the Hall of Heroes to Eveningstar. Found the pally trainer and leveled up to 15 faster than I would have thought possible, simply by clicking the first available feats/enhancements/skill points/stat increases rather than picking and choosing – after all, it was all going to get wiped out when she LRed. Right?

Back to Reincarnation Grove, open the LR dialogue, and… wait, what? My lesser heart’s gone! Checked inventory, bank, mail, and buyback; even checked to see if it was still in the dialogue box. Nuttin’.

Filled out a bug report and a support ticket, the latter of which told me to contact ingame support. So I sent in an ingame ticket, and then realized that it would be hours before anybody was even in ingame support to look at it. Lucky for me I remembered @DDOUnlimited on Twitter. When I logged in the next day, everything was straightened out.

Thanks to the great customer service, Even’s now a level 15 Purple Dragon Knight pure paladin… and she feels nearly indestructible to me. I haven’t even geared her up yet; she’s wearing her greensteel con-op goggles, a heroic elite Jeweled Cloak, and her Voice, but everything else she’s got on right now is the default PDK gear.

I decided to take her for a spin through Vale just to see what the new and hopefully improved Even would be like… and WOW, am I happy! Her DPS is quite respectable; she was one- and two-shotting a lot of stuff. I wanted to try out her new shield attacks, but it was hard because she was killing stuff faster than I could click her hotbar.

Vey and Mas were doing heroic High Road and Storm Horns after that. I was a little nervous – after all, Even’s several levels under those – but figured what the heck, it was worth a try. And she came through just fine. Mobs died quickly, and Even wasn’t taking much damage at all. I deliberately let her get separated from Vey and Mas several times to make sure it wasn’t their DPS that was doing the trick (because both of them have some pretty serious damage output), and she still did fine. My favorite moment was when she leaped alone into a pack of six griffins, killed them all in rather rapid fashion, and emerged without even needing to throw a Cure Serious on herself.

She’s since done a wilderness fest – Sands, Gianthold, and Orchard – to get her maps cleared. Then tonight she and Vey duo’d the Attack on Stormreach chain on elite where, if I hadn’t managed to blunder her right into a bunch of mines in Undermine, she’d still not have a death for this life yet. (Sorry Even, my bad – I feel like I let her down!)

Even’s banking 16 but I’m going to keep her there for a while, I think; I want to milk as much XP as possible from the lower quests before leveling up. It’s hard, though – I can’t wait to get her back into epic levels and serious raiding again! She feels so solid to me right now, I’d almost like to try running a couple of the easier epics – BoB, Snitch – on her, just to see what would happen… if only she could get into them at level 15!

 

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!

 

The 411 on OurDDO September 9, 2014

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m not sure where the hosting on the original OurDDO site stands. To bore you with the personal details, I was using a domain and server space I’d bought from my brother, who’s owned a small web design company for several years. He’s since taken another job and didn’t have time to run his company, so  he sold it almost a year ago.

 

As of this writing, my domain and hosting are still intact, but most of his former customers have had to move their sites elsewhere. I have no idea if my site is sticking around or if it’ll be gone in the next five minutes, so I’m in the process of changing all of my links to the backup site I set up a while back (which, thanks to the lovely grimorde, is now displaying everything properly).

 

If you don’t already have it, you can reach the backup site – which is now the main site – here.

 

Meanwhile the issue with the feed script dropping posts seems to s-l-o-w-l-y be resolving itself. As feed aggregator scripts are notoriously unreliable, I think that’s the best I’m going to be able to do with it for now.

 

After talking to a number of people, I’ve set up a forum on the new OurDDO site. It’s blank so far, gotta get some basic stuff set up, but I did change the boring default bluish-grey theme to green because, y’know, priorities.  LOL

 

I actually had set up a forum probably a year ago or more on what’s now the old OurDDO site and had a couple people help me get stuff set up, so I’ll probably copy a lot of stuff over from that and then recruit some beta testers before opening it up to the public. The new forum is mostly aimed to augment Players Helping Players.

 

As always, feedback is appreciated!  :)

 

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!

 

Feed me – or maybe not August 20, 2014

Discordette

Just a short(-ish? maybe?) update on some stuff, and then some other stuff. Wow, I sound like Mizz!

As you may have noticed if you’re getting here from OurDDO, the site’s been “misplacing” posts. I mean, a LOT of posts. (Geoff Hanna recently blogged about having the same problem.)

I’ve done a fair amount of looking into this, and it seems that it’s a common problem with feed aggregators (the nifty little scripts that pull in assorted blog feeds and display them in one place). I didn’t write the script that OurDDO uses; it’s a Google script. Unfortunately it shares the problem that apparently pretty much all aggregator scripts do: Because it’s pinging sites, in this case blogs, on a fairly regular basis, it tends to get flagged as being potentially malicious. At least that’s what several people on various help forums have told me.

I’m not sure why it’ll pull some posts from a particular blog but not others from the same blog, or why it’s not finding some blogs at all, or why it does seem to find nearly everything from others. It may be an issue with the cron job. Sadly, while I know what cron jobs are, I don’t know much about setting them up. If I can find a solution – and yes, I’m looking for one – I’ll implement it ASAP. Meanwhile, at least SOME of the recent posts are getting pulled, and there are links to EVERY blog both in the blogroll and, courtesy of the lovely grimorde, also in the slider across the top.

But now for new and exciting stuff! I’ve long felt that DDO can be confusing when you’re new and don’t know what you’re doing, and that it’s hard to know where to get help when there’s something you just can’t figure out. So pretty “SOON* ™ (read: when I finish making everything look nice and all), I’ll be adding a new blog kindasorta linked to this one, but standalone, tentatively called “DDO Players Helping Players.”

The idea is not to tell people what to do, but rather to help them figure out the basics and show them how to find answers on their own. From time to time, I’ll be holding question-and-answer sessions ingame; I’ll be hitting all servers eventually, and will vary the days and times as much as possible. The schedule will be posted on the new blog, which will also have a section called “Ask Even,” where anyone can send in their DDO-related questions (anonymously, if desired) to be answered here. And sometime down the road, I’m hoping to also include how-to modules on everything from learning to read the map to using the AH to quest guides.

I’m also considering adding a forum… we’ll see, as that would be a considerable amount of work to maintain and moderate. Please note that none of this is intended to replace the official DDO forums or DDO Wiki, but rather to complement them.

I’d love any and all constructive feedback on this. I do have a pretty detailed plan, but I’m always open to suggestions!

Winnabette

And a quick(-ish? maybe?) toon update… on Thelanis, Even’s getting ready to stow away her handwraps and pick up a shield as she prepares to TR back to paladin for her first life as a legend build. I haven’t worked out the details of her build yet; considering going PDK and splashing two levels of fighter.

Winnie, now that she’s reached epic levels and can play with destinies, is turning out to be much more fun to play. She’s caught up to Meren at level 24, so she’s feeling kinda proud considering she used to be my “backup” FvS who never felt quite right. She also finally sheathed her Whirlwind in favor of a Thunderforged greatsword, which along with ED stuff has turned her from a mediocre healer/buffer to a lean, mean, DPS machine.

Tirae ran the extended version of Haunted Halls tonight with Slvr, Shin, and Comic, and got rewarded for successfully tanking Miior by finding a Necklace of Mystic Eidolons in the chest! Alas, that was the only named loot that dropped for anyone in the quest. My Thelanis toons are jealous – while they have assorted Radiant Rings and Manuals of Stealthy Pilfering, not one of ‘em has ever pulled the necklace.

And I have a new toon on Argo, a druid named Fedelma (or “Del”). She’s an alternate alternate (yep, two alternates, not a typo) for the Summer Fling group that livestreams every Wednesday at 1:30 pm Eastern time. With Fling members Grim and Rach off to GenCon along with Samius and Lessah of DDO Cocktail Hour, last week’s run was shaping up to be just Bonnie and Cordovan, so Slvr and I got a chance to join in and run the Pit with them. Definitely a subject for a future blogpost; in the meantime, you can see our Pit run from Cordovan’s stream here, and from Bonnie’s stream here. Or if you’re pressed for time, you can see a “highlight” here!

 

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

 

A trivial pursuit February 27, 2014

Tirae

I’ve auditioned for “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” twice. Passed the test, but never made it further than that. I take the “Jeopardy!” online test every January; they don’t tell you if you pass that, just have to wait and hope their random selection process selects you (no luck for me yet). My family has refused to play Trivial Pursuit with me since around 1989.

Yeah, I have a thing for trivia. So when Turbine Community Manager Cordovan said in a forum post that he would be running trivia events to celebrate the eighth anniversary of DDO, I was SO there.

Tirae

I couldn’t make the first one on Argonnessen – 11 am is earlier than I can usually get away from real life for DDO – but Tirae managed to get into the very first group on Cannith… and boy, was I surprised when she ended up being the first one to get three points, making her the overall winner! There was someone else with two points who got the first shot at a question everyone ended up missing, and I really thought that was going to be it.

I won’t tell you what the questions were, since there are more rounds on other servers yet to come and I don’t know if any of the questions will be reused. But they all had to do with DDO, and the first one I got right was a pure guess after two people got it wrong (and I thought one of them was right for sure). There were a few I didn’t know, a few I did but wasn’t the first one to answer, one I was pretty sure I knew which turned out to be my second correct answer, and then the last one, which was something that Slvr and I had talked about just a few days ago (and which I got screenshots of at the time), so that was pretty cool.

Everyone who participated got goodies, or swag, or whatever you want to call it. I ended up with Lawrence’s Robe of Trivial Knowledge, a code for 500 TP (which I think everyone there got), and Tirae’s very own snowy owlbear, which made her very happy because she’s been envious of the one my Thelanis toons have.

It was great good fun from start to finish, beginning with Cordovan TPing the rest of the party way, WAY up to the top of the Twelve to join him. I wish I’d thought to get a screenshot of Cordovan’s shield for Ben of DDO Gaming, who was in the very first group on Argo and mentioned on his blog that he didn’t get a good screenie of what sounds like a really cool shield. But I did get some other shots I liked.

Many, MANY thanks to Cordovan for taking the time to do this! I think sometimes there are people who feel a bit too “entitled” when it comes to DDO events. I hope everyone remembers that NO ONE is *required* to do ANYTHING AT ALL. But there will be more anniversary events upcoming, and it is incredibly nice of Cordovan to take it upon himself to spend an hour of his own time on each server doling out goodies and fun.

And just two screenies for now to wrap this up…

Tirae

Tirae admires the view from the top of the Twelve after the event.

Tirae

Tirae put on her new robe to hang out on the ship with her new owlbear.

There are still more events to come, so keep an eye on your LFM panel and good luck!

 

 
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