The eyes have it

Acanthia

A couple of named items, insomnia some free time and an urge to experiment with video capture software adds up to one big party.

The above video was shot on a guild airship (yes, you have to click the still image to open the video, since DDO’s edition of WordPress won’t allow me to embed the video in one of those nice players). I was going to tell you how I did it… but I think I’d like to see if anyone can figure it out. Unfortunately it’s no longer possible to do this on an airship or in any other public area, at least at this time.

Now get those dancing shoes on and click that picture!

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Tank Girl

Acanthia

Acanthia almost always has a very specific role in the end fight of Tower of Despair – get behind Horoth and keep spamming Grasp the Earth Dragon to keep the tank and healer from getting stunned. I’ve never thought of her as a tank – that’s Even, who despite her less-than-spectacular AC has successfully tanked both Horoth and Sully. Not once have I ever done anything with Acanthia’s build or gear to prepare her for a tank role; it’s just something I never considered for her. She has no incite gear (unless you count earth stance), no points in intim, no special attempts to beef up her AC.

But anything can and does happen in DDO. Acanthia was running her 19th ToD the other night, in on hard, and was in her usual spot behind Horoth, going through her finishing moves – Grasp the Earth Dragon for anti-stun, Aligning the Heavens to save the healer some mana, Walk of the Sun to give the tank a bonus to attacks and saves, the occasional Moment of Clarity for an additional attack boost, and healing ki in between.

Then came the dreaded screen freeze – I’d like to blame Turbine or my crappy ISP, but in truth I’m pretty sure it was my crappy video card, because I think I heard the fan kick into high gear (hard to tell for sure with the game noise). Whatever the cause, I was suddenly staring at a frozen screen with Acanthia hanging mid-kick and something like 18 seconds left until the most recent anti-stun wore off. I’d already started the finishing move for another, so I began pummeling frantically on the keys hoping I’d somehow manage to get the next one off before anyone could get hit by Blasphemy.

It seemed as though I were staring at that stuck screen for hours, although it was probably only a few seconds, and when it did finally start to move again,  i  t    w  a  s    r  e  a  l  l  y    s  l  o  w  – that strobe light effect when your frame rate is barely into positive numbers. I kept hitting keys and gradually realized that people were yelling, “Stop! STOP!” over voice. Stop WHAT? I thought, and then things were suddenly at normal speed again, the tank was dead, my random frustrated keypresses had Acanthia running around like crazy, and Horoth was aggroed on… ME! EEP!

Yes, that’s right – Acanthia had become Tank Girl!

Once I realized that Acanthia was dragging Horoth around like a haywire kite and its tail, I stopped, turtled for a few seconds so the healer could catch up, and then took on the strange new (for Acanthia) role of tank… which to be honest really wasn’t all that different from her usual ToD experience except that this time she was in front of the big red guy instead of behind him. The tank got rezzed and took up position behind Horoth along with the rest of the party now that Sully had been reduced to an ugly granite soulstone, we clobbered, we won.

Oh, and after enjoying his blogs on MyDDO, this was the first time I got to run with Keava. While waiting for the unfolding drama bit at the start of the quest, the party got to talking about monk moves which led to Tomb of Jade. Keava mentioned that orthons look really cool when jaded, and I said that beholders look even cooler. A couple of party members said they’d never seen a jaded beholder, so… here you go.

Acanthia

Just the way you are

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Back when I joined DDO as the ultimate noob, the very first toon I rolled up was an elven rogue – elven ’cause I liked the ears, rogue because I used to love them way, WAY back when I played a bit of PnP Dungeons & Dragons.

For various reasons, I rolled up Even a few days later and she quickly took over as my main, leaving my poor rogue to languish mostly unplayed for months. I went VIP and GRed Even to a 32-point build; I rolled up Acanthia and watched her take my playing time by storm. My rogue sat patiently at the bottom of my login screen with her 28-point “standard path” build (I THINK I followed the Thief Acrobat path, can’t even remember now, that’s how little I played her).

And then one day a friend of a friend of a guildie or something like that was looking for help with questing. I had just one toon in the right level range – you guessed it, Victaurya the Amazing Gimp-O-Rogue, who was around level 8-ish at the time.

I’d been so caught up in beating the living snot out of stuff with Acanthia and Even that I’d forgotten how fun it is to be a rogue, even a gimpy one. Even with the occasional trap blowing up in Vic’s face, there was something, well, special about playing a specialist and being able to do something that no one else in the party could. I was telling a friend about this a few days later and he suggested resetting her enhancements to make her a trapmonkey, since that was the part of rogueishness I liked best.

For months I’ve thought of Vic as my most-gimped-by-far toon (and that’s saying something). That 28-point build was eating away at me, and I kept hoping I’d win a greater heart in the MyDDO lottery so I could at least bump her up to 32 points. The lottery didn’t come through for me, but one night someone in the trade channel advertised a greater heart of wood for sale – “PST with offer.” Whichever toon I was on with at the time had something like 92K plat, so mostly as a joke I sent a tell – “I’d love to buy that but if I give you 90K, I’ll be just about broke.”

And… THE GUY SAID YES.

So I was all excited and practically drooling in my eagerness to rush Vic right off to Kruz’s haunts in House J, except I hadn’t planned out her new 32-point build yet. So I waited. Every night, I’d get busy with something or other and never quite get around to booting up the character planner to map out 32-point Vic.

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Next thing I knew, Vic was capped and still 28 points. I kept telling myself I was going to GR her just as soon as I got around to planning out her new build. Fortunately, as it turned out, before I ever did that, a couple of guildies needed a rogue for epic Phiarlan Carnival quests one night.

I tried to talk them out of taking Vic – “C’mon, she’s squishy, she’s only 28 points, you KNOW you want a better rogue!” But no rogues were hitting the LFM. So I logged on Vic while giving them dire warnings about winding up as soulstones.

Except… they didn’t. Epic traps? Epicly no problem, even after ship buffs wore out, and without ONCE using her rogue skill boost.

Not long after that, I was running something totally unrelated on another toon when for no apparent reason it hit me – out of all my toons, and that includes Acanthia, Vic is probably my LEAST gimped despite that 28-point build. She does EXACTLY what she’s been built to do and does it well. Her 449 hit points are solid for a first-life elven trapmonkey, and she can help out on DPS with her repeater when there are no traps to disable or locks to pick. She can even pick up a wand and do a bit of emergency spot healing or casting if necessary. There’s always ROOM for improvement, but when I think of my various toons and what I’d like to see them doing, she’s the one who has no NEED for improvement.

I was planning on making Vic the next toon to TR once Dissy caps, but now I’m leaning toward TRing Even instead. Even definitely has a few areas that NEED to improve, and besides, without saying anything that would violate the NDA, Vic has seen the new content in MotU and she likes it. She likes it A LOT. So I expect that when it goes live, she’s going to get a lot more playing time.

As for the greater heart, I passed that on to a friend in gratitude for the many awesome things he’s done for me.  🙂