Hirelings are the pits

Seriously, someone needs to feed Heystack Ironhorse (level 18 hireling cleric, in case you didn’t know) a +4 Tome of Clear Thought.

What kind of moron is named Heystack, anyway? I’ll tell you what kind of moron – the kind that is SUPPOSED to have his butt firmly parked at the start of The Pit until I summon his arse to turn the valves for me in the third furnace room.

But is this what he does? Nooooo! Dumbstack takes it upon himself to try to come and find me for some reason. Granted, although I had him parked, I did have him in defend mode instead of passive, but I didn’t need healing – between my Virtue (the spell, not the character trait :P) and the extra HP my armor gives me sometimes when I take a hit, I was at my full 386 hit points and another +47.

I wasn’t even THINKING about Heydoofus, and then I noticed a message in green party chat type, which threw me off for a sec because aside from Heystupid, I was soloing…

“Your party member Heystack Ironhorse has died.”

I try to keep this thing PG-rated, so I won’t tell you exactly what I said at that point. I couldn’t figure out what the heck happened to him – did a rogue trog somehow escape from the Bilge Control Room and decide to have hireling for lunch? Did an enormous black pudding fall from the ceiling of the Security Center and bury him in ooze and acid slime? Did he just forget to eat that day and starve to death?

Nope, nope and nope. Heyidiot somehow managed to fall off the catwalk all the way down to the lava pit where my good buddy the Avatar of Juiblex lives. Being a hireling, and a particularly stupid hireling at that, he didn’t have the sense to take ONE FREAKING STEP out of the lava onto the handy rock next to him, so – assuming the fall didn’t kill him – he burned himself up.

All that, and you know what was in the Avatar of Juiblex chest? Not the Muck’s Doom I wanted; instead, I got a +1 brigandine and a smattering of gold. Not to mention several minutes of my life I’ll never get back because I was running all over the Pit looking for him.

I wonder if he just had a heal thing going on. It’s a level 7 quest; I’m level 18 and not ONCE did I drop below 350 hit points (I’m not even sure I ever got that low). And yet Ignoramus-stack cast heal on me several times, often when I was at full HP. This is the same guy who in harder quests has stood by and watched my hit points dwindle to 0 while he twiddled his thumbs instead of throwing me a heal.

The night got better, though. One of Even’s fellow Montians was looking for an elite opener to run Irestone for favor. There’s a back story here that I won’t get into; let’s just say that when you have a beef with a guild and you decide, instead of talking privately with the officers, to take it to guild chat and then into the comments in your LFM, it says a lot more about you than about the guild. So this was jokingly going to be an all-Monty group (yes, only jokingly, anyone was welcome). He was level 16, Even was in at 18 and we got a level 14 cleric (who was not in any guild at all). Tore through Irestone handily although Even had to keep trashing stuff; as the designated tank she was the one hauling the kegs, and her inventory kept filling up. But it’s not like she has a lot of use for level 4 loot anyway.

After that our healer wanted to do Hiding in Plain Sight. We got a full party and handled that pretty easily as well. Afterwards most of the party scattered until just the healer and I were left. She suggested Invaders. Took a bit to fill, but we got a really good group, including another Montian. That was nice; most of Even’s fellow guildies are focusing on P2P quests so she hasn’t gotten to quest with other Montians lately. Got another healer who was really good as well, and a couple of casters. Somehow at least one of them was able to use Hold Person on the beholders several times, and someone else – might have been the Monty’s ranger, I can’t remember – was really mowing down the big mean eyestalk things. I heard someone say something about rapid shot – whatever it was, it WORKED.

We had a couple of deaths, including two of mine; having a +49 Intimidate skill is not always a good thing when you’re surrounded by angry reavers, beholders and those damn orbs (or as one party member called them, “big purple carpet cleaners”). On the other hand, as the main DPS, better for me to die intimidating the hell out of the bad guys than lose a couple of squishy people.

Meanwhile I won yet another MyDDO lottery – calm down, ComicRelief! It wasn’t another lesser heart of wood; Victaurya won some ebony hair dye. It looks good on her, too. As for those lesser hearts of wood, I was a little disappointed to find out that I couldn’t level Even back to, say, level 16, and then level her as her friends progress. I think it was the part about getting a +1 tome back at level 3 and a +2 back at level 7 that made me think you levelled the “normal” way, through a trainer, after a lesser reincarnate. Oh well. Since she’ll lose her ranks and extra XP, I’m going to wait until she gets to level 19 to do the LR.

I have just one other question – she was originally a 28-point build, but I’ve since unlocked 32-point builds. When she lesser reincarnates, can she do it as a 32-point build? I could really make her into something kick-ass with that.

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Pondering reincarnation

I keep looking at the two lesser hearts of wood sitting in Even’s bank and thinking that maybe it’s a pretty good idea to use at least one of them on her after all.

See, in the past few months Even has jumped ahead of her favorite partner in crime by a few levels because he works a hellish schedule in real life whereas I can trot Even out and go questing pretty darn near whenever I want to. She’s just barely shy of level 19; he’s at the third rank on level 15. If they quest together, she’s going to kill his XP, which is not going to help him get caught up.

So besides the obvious benefits of lesser reincarnation, it occurred to me, based on what I’ve read and been told, that if she uses that lesser heart of wood, she could level herself back up to 15 or 16 and choose to stay there for a while even though she’d have enough XP to keep going.

I could really use some good advice from someone who’s gone through the process at least once. What I’m assuming is that after she would lesser reincarnate, she’d go to a trainer and level herself up one level at a time (along with spending her four action points per level). So once she got to, say, level 16, she could walk away from the trainer and be a level 16 pally until such a time when she’d choose to go talk to the trainer again and level up. Is this how it works, or am I missing something?

Another thing I’m confused about – I’ve heard that when you lesser reincarnate, you lose any ranks you have at your current (pre-reincarnation) level, so you should do it as soon as possible after leveling, before you’ve earned any ranks. Does this mean you lose the action points for those ranks, or you don’t get any of the XP you earned after your last level – i.e., suppose, just using round numbers, you were a level 10 with two ranks and 110,000 XP, and the XP required to get to level 10 was 100,000. If you did the LR and leveled back up to 10, would you then have 100,000 XP and no ranks?

Obviously I’m in serious need of a lesser reincarnation guru. That stuff is just for starters – once I get that squared away, I have to figure out which feats and enhancements to take and all that good stuff. I have kindasorta an idea of how I want her to end up, but no clue at all on how to get her there.

Azida the dwarf arcane archer finally made it online at the same time as one of her new guildmates, so for the first time she had non-hireling company to run some quests. It was great timing because it got her to 50 favor (YAY for Turbine points!) and levelled up to 3 – WOW, she seemed to get there fast. It doesn’t seem like I’ve played her nearly as much as I’ve played Ironica, and she’s only at 3 as well. Granted, Ironica has two ranks and about 14,000 XP more.

Also still trying to find out what those freaking humongous clubs are so I know what to get Liai, the halfling barbarian.

I have another new toon, a “serious” one this time. I did some searching around and found a build for a rogue/pally/fighter, so I’m giving that a try on Orien. I can’t quite duplicate the build because it’s a 32-pointer and I only have that unlocked on Thelanis so far, but I got as close as I could and I’ll fudge the rest as best as I can.

Tonight was mostly catching up on stuff after being without Internet for a day and a half because my provider FLAT OUT SUCKS. (I won’t mention names, but both their reliability and customer service are Comcraptastic.) I did some favor/XP runs with Jall, took her through Bloody Crypt on normal and she rocked it. Wish I didn’t have to repeat the whole arc to do it again on hard and elite. Then I ran the first two Phiarlan Carnival quests with her. It’s not a bad pack, I just have a hard time getting into it sometimes, and tonight was one of those or I’d have gone through the whole cycle.

I tried to find something to do with Even but everybody in Monty’s around her level seemed to be running P2P stuff, and her other friends were either already running stuff or not online. Bah. I really, REALLY need to upgrade.

‘Cause it really is just a game

Imma gonna try to keep this short since it’s 4 am here, just had a really great couple of days on DDO. Met some cool people on Sarlona and got Ironica into a small guild with only about a dozen or so members, but they’re all active and all (as of last night, anyway) level 6 or under – GREAT guild for new toons. Ran a few quests with one of her new guildmates and got her well into level 3 and past the 100-favor mark (a bit more on that later).

Also joined up with someone else the night before that and did some questing along with some AWESOME conversation. He/she (not sure which; wasn’t using voice) is in an even tinier guild than the one Ironica ended up joining – just three people, all friends. If that person had been on the next night I probably would have joined that guild – nice to have two good choices. Maybe I’ll see if Vicriia can join the tiny one.

So, I was trying to get enough DDO points to buy the Devil Assault adventure pack while the sale was still on. I was kindasorta close and remembered that an account’s first toon to get to 100 favor on each server got a bonus 100 DDO points – or so I thought. Somewhere along the line it changed. Ironica got to 100 favor and got 25 points, no bonus.

But I also have a new toon on Cannith. It’s a long story, just some MyDDO friends who got together so we have a place to hang out in game since our main toons are scattered around various servers. Because it’s a just-for-fun thing, and because I like to try something new, I decided to go for a race and a class I hadn’t played before… ended up with a dwarf arcane archer. And WOW, is she squishy! Barely to level 2 and already died on Korthos a few times, but I like her.

So I was playing her and trying to loot her some decent equipment (that ember stuff can’t do everything) while in the back of my mind bemoaning the fact that I couldn’t afford Devil Assault, so I ended up with Necro I (the ONLY pack I had enough points for). I get through the second quest and think, “Hmmm, that’s odd, why the heck does she have mail?” None of my new guildmates were online and I don’t know anyone else on Cannith, but I trotted her cute little stumpy butt over to Stormreach to check the mailbox anyway. Turns out you now get 25 DDO points for your first toon to get to 5 favor on a server.

Hey, I like that. It was too late to take advantage of the sale on adventure packs and didn’t do Ironica any good, seeing as how she was past 5 favor when the change happened, but points is points.

By this time she had accumulated enough plat to get a hireling without breaking the bank, which gave her survivability a huge boost. So I decided I’d run a few more quests with her, get her to level 2. I’d been at it for a while when I noticed she had mail again. This time it was for getting to 25 favor, and the reward was 50 points. OK, my memory sucks, it might have been 50 points for 5 favor and 25 points for 25 favor, but the end result is that I had 75 more DDO points than when I signed her on. If I’d known last night what I’d known now, I’d have rolled a new toon on each server and done some serious favor farming.

Ah well, hindsight’s 20/20. And so far I’m liking the Necro I pack (which might change once I solo it a zillion times to earn favor). Jall did the first four quests in the Bloody Crypt arc on elite with a couple of good friends and Emerald Dragons guild mates. It was the first time she really got to seriously try out her new Radiant Servant status, which looks so cool it would be worthwhile even if it didn’t actually do anything. I’m LOVING that it makes her turn undeads regenerate. Kinda makes up for her having only six of them.

Later I got to thinking about farming some more favor – thanks to Azida (my new dwarf ranger) I’m thinking that with a toon on each of the servers I’m not already on, I can probably quickly get enough for Devil Assault, maybe another one or a more pricey one. And I was feeling kind of “what the hell” and wanting to roll up a toon that would be good for soloing, but still something a little on the unusual side.

Well, you know how people joke about making halfling barbs? Guess who now has a halfling barb? She’s got that quintessential ember greataxe that’s darn near bigger than she is. I’ve been seeing a couple of players lately with these HUGE clubs. Seriously, I don’t know what they are but they’re damn near as big as Even. I MUST get the halfling one of those.

And speaking of Even, I think the gods of Xen’drik may be trying to send me a message that she SHOULD do a lesser reincarnate. About a week ago she won a lesser heart of wood in the MyDDO lottery and I was debating what to do with it since it’s bound to account. Right now it’s sitting in my bank; I’ve kind of been thinking I’ll use it to give Jall a cosmetic makeover once I get a shared bank account, because Jall has these weird eyebrows and is sort of scary-looking. Well, I was going through Even’s mail last night, mostly detaching the essences and collectibles I send to her from my other toons, and there in her mailbox is ANOTHER lesser heart of wood – she won a second one from the MyDDO lottery.

Looking at her stats, there ARE a lot of areas she could improve on, so maybe I’ll go ahead and use one (after writing it all down so I can use the second one to change her back if I don’t like the result). Except… she’ll lose her lovely acid green hair dye and go back to being kind of a green-tinged blonde. I REALLY like that hair dye but I don’t think I’d buy it again; I’d rather put the points into adventure packs.

Yeah. So much for my “short” update. LOL

Sufferin’ sarcophagus!

It seemed like such a great idea at the time – just a measly 200 Turbine points for the Catacombs adventure pack, which would give Even her 75 favor with the Silver Flame and be a decent source of both favor and XP for everyone else.

Well, meh.

Maybe it’s just that I’ve run the whole series four times on various toons in the past couple of days. Maybe it was slogging my way through it on hard with Vic, who mostly sucks against undead. Maybe it’s just the absence, the past few days, of my favorite questing buddies. Maybe I’m just crabby because I’m waiting to find out something in real life that’s been constantly on my mind with nothing I can do to speed it up.

Or maybe it really is just THAT tedious.

I’d run the series once before with Jall on a guest pass. I was with my buddies and we had fun. Now, though… not so much.

For starters, what’s up with all this running up and down stairs? Why do you have to talk to Friar Renau, go in, do a quick quest, go back out to the Marketplace and talk to the friar again, go BACK in, do another quest, run up and talk to the archbishop, run down a few flights, do a quest, run back up and talk to Dryden, run down… on and on and on and on.

There’s also not a lot of variety; you’re fighting undead with the occasional spider, bat or scorpion. Poor Vic doesn’t do a whole lot of damage to undead. Her level nine cleric hireling, Marissa Lorle, doesn’t have an available turn undead command (although it looked like she did turn a few of them here and there, completely at random).

“The Crypt of Gerard Dryden” could stand to be a LOT shorter. I think that was the one I enjoyed the least because it’s just so repetitive. Smash a hallway full of sarcophagi, kill the undead, smash a room full of sarcophagi, kill the undead, lather, rinse, repeat. Maybe I’ll enjoy it more when I take Jall in there since she’ll be able to turn them and won’t have to whale away doing 10 points of damage at a time like Vic does.

Likewise, “Endgame: Marguerite” could do with cutting out a level or two, because each one is pretty much a repeat of the one before it. And on the whole chain, the jump from normal to hard doesn’t seem to require much as far as strategy or gameplay. You just have to beat on stuff longer before it dies, which gets kinda boring after a while.

On the plus side, there are a fair number of chests in some of the quests, not to mention a goodly number of collectibles and treasure bags. There also seems to be a good chance of finding gems when you smash stuff, but don’t get too excited over that – Vic had a full gem bag (small) plus an overflow seven or eight more, but got less than 2 pp for the lot. Also, is ONE Khyber dragonshard fragment much use to anyone? Even on hard, that seemed to happen a lot – smash a vase, get ONE Khyber.

Vic did pull a small Eberron dragonshard from a clump of moss, which was probably the highlight of the experience I’ve had since buying the pack. I wish now I’d gotten a different pack, maybe one of the Necropolis ones.

In fairness, I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I hadn’t been soloing (except for Even, who at level 18 is pretty much just zerging it for favor). I need to get more confidence in my other toons; I thought of putting up the LFM but who’s going to want to do that chain with a squishy rogue who sucks against undead?

Discordette would be even worse; she sucks against undead and doesn’t have the redeeming feature of being able to open the locked doors and disarm the traps. She’s still only got Cure Light, which isn’t a huge help – Cure Mod would definitely do her more good if she’s going to be healing more than herself (and she STILL can’t solo “Missing in Action” on elite, which is sad). She’s only got a few bard songs and can only use them seven times per rest – OK for soloing, not so great to help buff a party.

However, I’m kind of proud of Discordette; I took her through some of the low-level quests she hadn’t done on elite yet and got her levelled up to seven tonight. It’s Jall’s turn next; she’s darn close to level 10 and I haven’t run her through Catacombs yet, plus there are some lower quests she still needs. I’d really like to turbo-level her up to 14 or 15 so I can take her questing with my favorite wizzy, who’s at level 15. Even would unfortunately put a serious dent in his XP, so though she’s within striking distance of level 19 (a few runs of Acid Wit and In the Demon’s Den would probably do it), I’m not rushing to level her up until he catches up a bit.

I’ve started Ironica through the Korthos quests on elite and she’s done pretty well. I did break down and pick her up a fighter hireling because she had some REALLY close calls and one death, but she’s mostly still cruising right through stuff. I thought of getting her a healer instead of another fighter, but the extra muscle helps her get through quests faster.

Meanwhile Even crafted her first weapon tonight, just for the heck of it. She’s made a bunch of shards, and tonight she stripped down a shortbow, added a couple of shards and ended up with a Shocking Touch Crossbow of Shattermantle… which is not in the least useful to her, but good for her crafting XP.

Alive and buried

I broke down last night and bought the Catacombs adventure pack for a couple of reasons:

  1. Even needed just ONE more favor point to get to 75 with the Silver Flame.
  2. Although she won’t get XP, all my other toons will.
  3. Boy, is it fun to go in there on a toon with a decent turn undead skill.

I’m getting a lot better but still feeling really under the weather, and it took me three tries to get Victaurya through the whole thing – not because she had any trouble with it, but because I felt yucky and could only do a quest or two at a time before I needed a nap. The only part Vic struggled with at all was the very last part where Archbishop Dryden turns on you. Vic is not great against undead, what with being a squishy chaotic rogue who can’t wield a pure good weapon, and I made the mistake of getting overconfident and not sending her cleric hireling in there with her. When her HP started falling alarmingly fast, I got her back down the stairs so she could summon the hireling to save the day. Every so often, they actually DO come through.

Even hooked up with a few of her favorite people later to run Spawn of Whisperdoom. She even got XP for it despite entering late. When we were done it was time for my friends to go to bed, but by then the TheraFlu was kicking in and I decided to take her into Catacombs sans hireling – after all, Even, unlike Vic, can turn undead, plus NO level 18 should need a hireling for level 4 quests.

A paladin’s turn undead ability isn’t nearly as powerful as a cleric’s, assuming they’re roughly the same level. When Even runs level-appropriate quests and tries to turn, she mostly ends up stunning the undead. Turn her loose on a bunch of level 4 skellies and ghouls, though, and she can really fly. It was really fun in Catacombs to run around smashing sarcophagi until she had a huge horde of undead chasing her, then turning them and watching them all vaporize.

Yannick Drumdoom is going to LOVE Even. Both she and Vic picked up a ton of collectibles (yes, Turbine, not collectAbles) that seemed to be mostly funerary tokens.

I’m looking forward to taking Jall in there. Thanks to one of the friends I did Whisperdoom with tonight, who zerged her through Shan-To-Kor and Archer Point Defense to get her the one more action point she needed, she’s now a Radiant Servant. She was already pretty good at turning undead – probably better than Even, even without making adjustments for the difference in their levels – and I’d like to see what she does in Catacombs. I just wish she had more turns; she’s only got five to seven depending on what she has equipped, whereas Even has 13-15.

I’m hoping to get those favorite people of mine together soon – well, first we need to get my very favorite one levelled up to 16 so he can get into the Inspired Quarter – to do In the Demon’s Den, possibly on hard and/or elite. We may well go down in virtual flames, but if I’m going to fail a quest, those are the people I want to fail it with.

Just one last random thought for tonight – what is it lately with the constant spamming of the trade channel? Every five minutes IS SPAM. It’s not marketing. If you were that good at marketing, you wouldn’t need to spam the trade channel EVERY FIVE MINUTES. The same guy was spamming essences for sale when I first logged Vic on this afternoon. I logged on and off a few times over the space of about four hours due to nap breaks, and at the end he was STILL doing it. Go list them on the AH for horribly inflated prices like everybody else – so what if they don’t sell? They’re not selling in the trade channel either, and the AH is a hell of a lot less annoying.

Be aware: What do you know about fibro?

Since this is a DDO blog on the MyDDO site read by DDO players, I mostly try to keep my posts DDO-related.

Today, though, is kind of special for me. May 12, 2011, is National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.

Like chronic fatigue syndrome, which it resembles and is sometimes confused with, fibromyalgia is somewhat of a medical mystery. So far there are only theories as to what causes it. And like CFS, many people – that is, the ones who’ve actually heard of it and have a vague idea of what it is – aren’t sure it’s real.

Trust me. It’s VERY real. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia about five and a half years ago following a car accident. I suffered a concussion and neck injuries in the accident, and weeks later I was still excruciatingly tired and weak, often with severe, unexplained pain.

I’d never heard of fibro at that time. At first I just chalked it up to the aftermath of the accident. Luckily for me, my neurologist was smarter than that. I couldn’t understand why he wanted me to be tested for all kinds of things, but he suspected long before I did that what was going on didn’t just stem from the head and neck injuries.

There’s no conclusive test for fibro as of yet. Instead it’s referred to as a “diagnosis of exclusion” – since doctors can’t test for the presence of fibro, they test for other things that are similar to rule them out. Lupus, Lyme disease, chronic fatigue… I can’t even remember them all. There is a pressure point test that definitely helps indicate the possibility of fibro, but it’s not infallible; it basically consists of the doctor poking you on various known sensitivity spots to gauge your pain reaction.

Fibro, like many things, affects different people in different ways. Pain seems to be the big issue for many people. I’ve been lucky there; don’t get me wrong, when I have a fibro flare-up, I HURT, and badly. For me, though, the worst thing is the fatigue. I can’t even begin to describe it. “Exhausted” isn’t nearly strong enough to depict how I feel when it’s bad. Imagine lying in bed with a glass of water on your nightstand and being so utterly, completely drained that you can’t reach out your arm to pick up the glass and drink.

Before the accident, I was the assistant sports editor at a daily newspaper. That meant covering a LOT of high school sports events. Many weekends found me camped at one tournament or another from 8 or 9 in the morning until 10 or 11 at night, then going back to the newsroom to finish writing my stories, editing others, picking out photos and writing cutlines, laying out and proofing pages – I rarely worked less than 60 hours a week, and during busy times, often closer to 80.

That changed as fibro took over. Sitting on bleachers for any length of time is excruciating for me. Not to mention the fatigue – I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open for more than a few hours. Fibro wreaks havoc with a normal sleep schedule. It makes you tired as all hell, but when you try to sleep, you can’t. You lie there WISHING you could sleep. Being able to fall into bed and get my eight hours is something that rarely happens now. I’m up for a few hours, I take a nap, I repeat.

Naturally this caused problems for me at work, especially in the first few months after the accident when I was still having serious short-term memory issues. I’d be talking and in mid-sentence, completely forget what I had just said and what I was about to say next – NOT good when you’re interviewing the star player after the game and forget what you’re trying to ask him/her.

The newspaper I worked for underwent a merger of sorts a few months after that. New management came in and made wholesale personnel changes. I was surprised to survive the first two cuts but found myself out of a job on the third. I ended up getting a job as an editor/fact checker for a small publishing company, with a 40-hour work week. It was about this time that I really, REALLY started to feel what a long-term impact fibro was going to have on me. The fatigue just kept getting worse. I went down to 35 hours a week, then 30, and finally 25, which was the least weekly hours the company allowed. As much as I needed the money, it was almost a relief when a new manager took over and laid off about one-quarter of the employees, including me.

Having that editing experience is very lucky for me, because with print newspapers in decline and looking for ways to reach out to a virtual audience, telecommute-friendly editing jobs are slowly starting to pop up. I was fortunate enough to find one, so I can work at home in my jammies and set my own hours. The money is not great and things like office politics exist even for virtual jobs, but at least it’s something.

Not everyone is so lucky. Many fibro patients end up having to go on disability; my neurologist has already offered to give me whatever paperwork I need from him should I ever go this route. I know one girl who suffers from such intense pain that she has to have a special custom-made mattress; even the slight pressure of lying on a regular mattress is agony for her. One of my DDO friends has been on disability for several years; it’s such a relief sometimes to be able to talk about what I’m going through with fibro to someone who knows EXACTLY what I mean.

One of the commercials for a fibromyalgia drug claims that fibro is believed to be the result of overactive nerves. My neurologist disagrees; he has a theory, since fibro often follows head and neck injuries such as what you might get in a car accident, falling of a horse, etc., that there is an as-yet-unidentified virus for fibro that lies dormant until something triggers it. That would be something like shingles, where you develop the virus after having chicken pox, but in most cases it never develops. He thinks that head and/or neck injuries may serve as the trigger for the virus to become active. My DDO friend with fibro has heard this theory as well; in fact, he told me there are doctors in Europe who have identified not the actual virus, but a kind of viral signature.

Pain and fatigue are probably the two things you’d hear most if you asked fibro patients about the biggest challenges they face. I would disagree, though, and that’s why I’m posting this very non-DDO post on my DDO blog. By far the BIGGEST problem I’ve faced is that people don’t understand what fibro is and what it does. In some ways that can’t be changed; if someone had tried to tell me about fibro before I was diagnosed, there’s no way I could have truly understood the effect it has on life.

But there’s a difference between not knowing what it’s like and not believing that it’s real. And that’s the worst thing I’ve had to deal with. Bosses who don’t understand that no, I CAN’T work a 12-hour day. A mother who only wants to hear about me feeling bad if she can turn it into attention for herself – “Oh, your back hurts? Well, MY back just hurts SO much.” A father who doesn’t want to hear anything about it at all; in going on six years of me having fibro, he’s asked me about it ONCE, and that was because his diabetes doctor mentioned it to him as a possible cause of his tiredness. Friends who think I can take a Tylenol and drink a cup of coffee and be good to go. Doctors who – despite overwhelming evidence otherwise – still think it’s psychosomatic and dash off a prescription for an antidepressant instead of trying to find other treatments.

Not that antidepressants aren’t helpful; it’s just that too many doctors seem to think fibro is just some kind of manifestation of depression. I’m very lucky to have gotten one of the exceptions. While he did prescribe antidepressants for me, he first called me in to make a point of telling me that what was going on was NOT in my head and that the drugs would NOT help with the pain and fatigue; the prescription was to help me deal with the symptoms, not to treat them.

If you’ve made it all the way through this post, there is one thing I would ask of you. If you know anyone who has fibro, BE SUPPORTIVE. I guarantee you that they’re getting a LOT more flak than support, and it’s a tough enough thing to deal with on its own without all that. Don’t question why they’re tired or tell them things like, “But you don’t LOOK sick!” Don’t think they should suck it up or snap out of it – believe me, I’ve tried and I can’t. And don’t be overly sympathetic; it’s not special treatment we’re after. Remember it IS real, and it IS painful, and it is VERY hard to deal with. By just being there, you can do more good than you know.

Inane insomnia idioms

Should sleep, can’t sleep, will blog because my mind can’t focus nearly well enough to try questing.

Just some random thoughts; I have a pretty important – to me, anyway – post planned for tomorrow.

A very kind soul sent Victaurya a pretty fur-trimmed outfit that has an intelligence clicky so she can dump her Fox’s Cunning potions. This is probably my favorite part of DDO, the generosity and helpfulness of the people I come across. Generally I don’t name names because I don’t know if they want to be identified – you never know who might see this and think, “Hmmm, they gave her stuff, Imma gonna beg them for some stuff too.” But it is much appreciated, and DANG the outfit looks good, too! I’ve seen them before on wizards and always kind of wanted one but didn’t know what they were called to search them on the AH. GREAT for a rogue as well, being super lightweight.

First I thought my allergies were acting up, then I thought I had a bad cold; now it’s pretty clear that what I’ve had is the flu. It’s been more than a week and while it’s getting better, I’ve still got chills and fever, sore throat, aches, stuffy nose and an obnoxious-sounding cough. Bah. No wonder I can’t sleep. I’m thinking it’s going to be a Nyquil night.

But I did really feel like questing earlier and couldn’t find anything I really wanted to solo on Vic or Jall (or Even, but until I upgrade she’s kind of stuck for new stuff anyway), so I dug out poor underused Discordette and pondered a bit. Ended up taking her to House D and running the “Depths Of” series on hard with Storm, the acceleration-challenged Favored Soul hireling.

“Acceleration-challenged” is a polite way of saying “slow.” The first three quests went really well, with no worries at all until the end fight in quest No. 3. Her HP got down pretty far once or twice but Storm FINALLY woke from his stupor and healed her in time. I tried putting him in both modes – attack and defend – and neither seemed to help; he pretty much just stood there as if he were a spectator. He even let his own HP take a real beating before he remembered to heal himself.

So I was kind of nervous going into the final quest of the series. There were some really close calls in that one, and a few times I really thought she wasn’t going to make it. She hung in there and got to the end, though. Rather than tempt fate and try to take on Hammersmith the Mighty and his fellow ogres all at once, she got out her trusty bow and took out the two ogres down the left passage, healed up, did that again for the right passage, and then pulled Hammersmith back to the shrine just in case. Turned out to be unnecessary, because he went down pretty easily after all that. She ranked up after the first quest in the arc and is within spitting distance of another rank after getting through the whole thing.

Jall caught some of Even’s luck with the MyDDO Lottery – she won a level 9 Gold Seal cleric hireling. She’s already got two other Gold Seals in the bank from a while ago; they’re level 7 or 8, I think, can’t remember why I got them for her. Someday when I have a lot of time on my hands and I’m not in a fever-induced brain fog, I’m going to take Jall and all her Gold Seals to Red Fens and run that for a while. The way that area is set up, she can keep running the quests there while working on S/R/E in between and not lose her hirelings, so might as well get the maximum use out of them.

I’m debating whether I want to try soloing the Pit on casual with Victaurya. Jall’s done it twice now, and Vic’s not THAT much squishier than she is. Trouble is, Vic’s DPS isn’t that great; Jall went in with a fighter hireling so she could mostly sit back and heal. Vic would be going in with a cleric, most likely, or maybe a FvS.

I’ve still been thinking about whether or not to upgrade, and I’ve just about made up my mind to go ahead and go premium for three months and see how I feel at the end of that. That should be plenty of time to get Even caught up on all the favor quests and then get her to level 20 to start doing epics; probably enough time, if I want, to get some green steel and other stuff crafted and start thinking seriously about when and how to do her true reincarnate.

She ran In the Demon’s Den with a SUPER pick-up group last night. I was the only one who knew it fairly well – the rest of the group had done it once or twice, or not at all – and everybody was great about coming up with ideas and sticking together and listening. No deaths, not even a close call – pretty darn good for a group that overall wasn’t that familiar with the quest. Granted, we were on casual, but I’d love to get that same group together and give it a run on normal. MAYBE even hard if I’m feeling especially masochistic. Elite… *shudder* Someday.

Just looked at my space used here and was thinking that 10 megs isn’t a lot if I’m going to add stuff to my gallery. Maybe I should get a Flickr for my DDO screenshots.

To VIP or not to VIP

I’ve been waiting on my new credit card to get here – well, it has to be two months or more now. Not sure what happened to the first one; when it didn’t get here in a timely fashion, I cancelled it and requested a new one. I’ve been through a whole bunch of red tape to confirm that I’m really me and not trying to steal my own identity, and STILL the second one hasn’t arrived. Checked into it AGAIN today and was told that my account is being “verified.” Not sure what this means as it’s approved and all that good stuff. I assume they’re erring on the side of caution because of rampant identity theft, but in the meantime I can’t upgrade my account easily – sure wish Turbine would take PayPal for account upgrades.

So I’ve been thinking. All along I was debating if I was going to stay premium (well, once I GET premium) after the first three months or go back to P2P. If I were to upgrade and then go back to F2P, I’d lose the premium stuff I hadn’t already purchased.

But if I buy stuff with points, I’ll have it no matter what – adventure packs, shared bank accounts, etc. Buying a pack or two at a time, what with having six toons, will help me keep earning favor to get more points to buy more packs. It seems like it wouldn’t be difficult or take THAT long for this approach to save me some real-life money in the long run.

I was wondering what other people thought about it, especially anyone who is or has been P2P. If that’s you, why did you upgrade originally? Why did you decide to stay premium or go back to F2P?

Sticks and stones…

I try to keep up with other DDO blogs as time permits. They’re a mixed bag, but so many of them offer useful game info or great reads or both, it’s well worth the effort.

So I’m skimming through and I come across one that I think is really a great post: well-written, informative… but there’s something that just doesn’t seem quite right about it.

Now I’m no word snob. I enjoy plenty of blogs that have misspelled words or use grammar incorrectly or don’t have proper punctuation. You can be an effective writer without getting that stuff right – that’s what editors are for in the real world, and having been a newspaper editor for many years, I should know. Some of the best writers I worked with were also some of the worst when it came to spelling, grammar and punctuation.

But this post I was reading was nearly flawless, and the writer used quite a few obscure words and phrases correctly. And then… he/she used the term “per say.”

There were one or two other things that seemed a little inconsistent but that I put down to writing on the fly and not checking. “Per say,” though… for some reason that just sent up a red flag in the editor part of my brain, which knows that the correct spelling is “per se.”

Maybe if there hadn’t been one or two other minor things out of place – misplaced commas, stuff like that – I wouldn’t have thought twice about the misspelling of “per say.” But something about that got to me, so I reread the post and noticed that there was a definite change in writing style from one paragraph to the next.

Now this bugged me. I highlighted a chunk of text and copy/pasted it into Google… and there it was pretty much verbatim on another site.

So I did the same with another passage – same result. Word-for-word from another site.

I’m not going to name names. A blog isn’t a news source where it’s important to be completely original and truthful. However, it does bother me that someone would use material from other sources verbatim, not even rewrite it a bit to try to make something semi-original out of it, and pass it off as their own work. I’m not even going to open the can of worms known as “intellectual property;” that’s way too big for one little blog post.

Give me the misspelled, poorly-punctuated, grammatically incorrect postings any day… at least I know they’re not stolen.

A rogue by any other name

Vic has gotten herself levelled up to 9, so now she can have a cleric hireling who can rez her if she dies. She’s had a bit of reworking as well thanks to one of her Dragons guildmates who knows a LOT more about building a rogue than I do, and some of the points I spent on dumb stuff early in her development – before I found out that it’s mostly pointless for a rogue to have a good Heal skill – have been put into her disabling, search, etc.

Among her new enhancements is repeating light crossbow proficiency. I found two I liked on the AH and asked in the advice channel which would be better for her, but the very few people who responded seemed to think that repeaters aren’t great weapons. I told them I’d like to put a little more effort into ranged fighting since Vic is kinda squishy, and their advice was… “Don’t be squishy.”

Well, easier said than done. If I tried to “desquishify” her, I’d have to take points away from other stuff she needs to be a top-notch trapmonkey. For now I’ve settled for getting her a couple of light fortification items (have you SEEN the AH prices for stuff with moderate fort?!) and a few things with Health on them for the nine extra HP they give her.

I tried to solo Redwillow’s on hard with her last night and she was kicking butt for a while. Too bad I suck at navigating wilderness-type areas and blundered around lost a bit, ended up managing to pull about eight trolls, including a boss, to her and then stirred up a nest of scorpions to boot. Before that, she’d been mowing down bugbears like a gossip columnist’s pen through Paris Hilton’s reputation and had done very nicely dispatching a few smaller groups of trolls as well.

I just need to see if I can get her strength up a point or two. I realized just last night that her load goes to “medium” if it’s more than about 180 pounds, and it usually hovers around 200. That explains why she seems to run slowly for a li’l elf in light armor. I put most of her extra points into intelligence and dexterity when I rolled her, so her strength is only 11.

I was trying to figure out what she had to be carrying all that weight since she has a very small weapons collection and wears light armor. Then I realized her ingredients bag had almost 20 pounds worth of trap parts, and she’s toting around a fair amount of poundage in potions – resist acid/cold/electricity/fire/sonic, protection from all five of those as well, cure pots, fox’s cunning (for a little extra help on tough traps)… I bought them for her in stacks of 50-100 and there are probably 15-20 different ones. You don’t realize how much weight that adds up to until your speedy little rogue is huffing and puffing and falling behind big clumsy Warforged.

I pared her gear down a bit, mailed some of her extra potions to Discordette (who needs all the help she can get and then some), and equipped her Ogre Power +2 Belt of Light Fortification, which serves the dual purpose of making her a little less squishy and enabling her to carry more weight. Unfortunately it means giving up her Proof Against Poison since that’s also a belt; looks like Even will have to go shopping for her again.

Still haven’t decided to do with the Lesser Heart of Wood. I may use it to give Vic a bit more strength or make Discordette a little better suited for soloing… or I might be totally vain and use it on Jalliria so I can change her appearance because I don’t think she’s pretty! Poor Jall…

Got guild?

I was waiting on a party the other night and killing time by watching general chat in the Harbor when someone asked the advantages of joining a guild.

I’m very lucky to have toons in two AWESOME guilds on Thelanis. Three of them are in my original guild, Emerald Dragons, while Even joined Monty’s but still quests with her Dragons buddies frequently.

Maybe it’s just because I got involved in the discussion about why to join a guild, but I’ve been noticing lately that a LOT of people are saying stuff like, “Want to join high-level guild with good airship.” That leads me to think that all they’re really looking for are buffs.

Don’t get me wrong – buffs are nice. But IMHO, buffs are a pretty crappy reason for picking a guild. I don’t think they make THAT much difference to begin with, especially past level 6 or so; they expire in an hour, which means you may be without them for the end fights on long quests; and if you die, they’re gone anyway.

I was still VERY new when I joined the Dragons – Victaurya was still my only toon – and I joined because my then-boyfriend did. Maybe some people would think that’s a stupid reason, but having friends as guildmates is a great situation to be in.

Making new friends with guildmates rocks, too. I love to solo; it gives me a feeling of accomplishment to get through a tough quest on my own, and I never need to worry that I’m holding up other people if I want to stop and break everything or run around to make sure I get every collectible (off-topic: DDO, the correct spelling is “collectIble,” not “collectAble”). But nothing beats running quests in the company of people you genuinely like. Naturally I always hope to get through the quest in one piece for maximum XP and loot, but when I’m with friends, that stuff takes a back seat. I have a core of people I love to group with because I know I’m going to have fun even if we totally wipe.

Another cool thing about being in a guild is that even if you don’t know many of your guildmates, it’s a lot easier to find people to group with. Just about all of the regulars in Emerald Dragons have multiple toons, so I can play any of my characters and find guildmates around my level to group with. I also get much better advice when I ask my questions in guild chat than when I post them on the advice channel.

So far my two Sarlona toons aren’t in a guild, but I’m thinking since I don’t know anyone over there anyway, maybe I’ll start my own. I’ll call it The Flower Sniffers, from a convo I had with a really great party doing In the Demon’s Den one night. We were talking about how frustrating it is when you like to quest for the sake of questing and get a zerg in your party. One guy said something about how it’s much more fun when you take the time to sniff the flowers.

That’s my kind of approach. Go smash all the breakables, find all the collectibles, do all the optionals, stop and admire the graphics, maybe even take a screenshot or two. Enjoy the ride.

Born-again paladin?

I’ve been mostly looking forward to the day that Even gets to TR, even though I’ll miss her paladin self.

I’ve made a lot of what many people would consider mistakes as I built her, and sometimes I’ve wondered if I should have re-rolled her. For the most part, though, I like having kind of a unique pally build (OK, so it’s unique because of the things I’ve screwed up) and finding ways to compensate for the things I might have done better.

But now it’s dilemma time. I was headed to the Pit for a Muck’s Doom run earlier tonight (alas, no luck there) when I noticed the mail envelope was on, so I swung by the mailbox in House D first.

Surprise! Even won a lesser reincarnation from the DDO lottery. Now… use it or not?

I’d have to buy her acid green hair dye again, but that’s not a huge deal. I’m not sure how some of the other stuff works. Apparently she can keep her current level and I can just change out some of her feats and stuff. I’m not sure about other stuff, like her +2 Tome of Supreme Ability (and I either have a really bad cold or fairly mild flu, feel like hell, and am not in the mood to look this stuff up).

Even if I could improve her, I’m not sure I want to. Every one of her flaws has been a learning experience for me. I’m hoping to stick with her long enough to TR her through every class, then bring her back as a pally again once she’s done everything else.

I try to remember to enter all of the lotteries, but it’s kind of a reflex thing. I don’t always look at what I’m entering. On the plus side, the lesser heart of wood Even won is bound to account, not to character, so once I get a shared bank account I could use it on any of my other toons. I’m thinking my bard might be a good candidate, maybe make her a little more suited for solo play.

I actually managed to get in some playing time on all four of my Thelanis toons in the past 24 hours. I really wanted to play over on Sarlona as well, but all my friends are on Thelanis. Neither of my Sarlona toons is even in a guild yet… I’m thinking of starting a guild over there, but that’s a subject for another post.

Meanwhile I’m still working on figuring out all this crafting stuff. I’ve been deconstructing and making shards but still haven’t taken a deconstructed item and made it into something new. Even finished the Delera’s chain tonight with one of the group from last night (none of the rest of them could make it, but hopefully we’ll all get a chance to group up again soon), and we talked a bit about the whole crafting process. He mentioned that he doesn’t like having more stuff to carry around (Parfett’s, Lorinda’s, etc.) and says it would be better if we could either just pay a small fee in plat to craft stuff, or buy the reagents right at the machines instead of having to go to a separate room. I like that idea. It’s a pain dragging essences and reagents from bags to inventory while I figure out what to do with them.

It seems to both of us, and to quite a few other people I’ve talked to, that your crafting level should be at least partly based on your character level. Discordette, at level 6, could possibly manage to craft something she could use, but it will be a long time before level 18 Even will be able to make anything that will be useful to her. After looking through the recipe books, I don’t see Even EVER being able to craft things that would replace what she’s already using. I just don’t see how putting one prefix attribute and one suffix attribute on, say, a greatsword could possibly make something she’d pick over her Vampiric Fury Blade.

And have you looked at the auction house prices for essences? Not that the AH has EVER been known for reasonable prices (I paid around 60K for Even’s Globe of Imperial Blood; there’s one on there now with a starting price of 900K), but I haven’t even been seriously collecting essences so far, and if I sold off the ones I have at AH prices, I’d be at least several hundred thousand plat richer.

So I think I’ll mess around with the new crafting system for fun, but not much more… at least until someone finds a way to make Striding Feather Falling Boots of Haste and Jump.