A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away – oh wait, wrong story.

A year or so ago, on MyDDO, I got a message from this guy named Shin saying that he’d decided to start a guild on Cannith server for the various MyDDO people who’d been blogging and commenting on blogs. Once a week, completely casual, fun only, no pressure. Hey, that’s right up my alley, so I headed to Cannith and rolled up a dwarf ranger arcane archer because at the time I didn’t have any dwarven toons, nor any rangers. I never expected Shin’s little experiment to go beyond a few friends running stuff together on Friday nights.

I still have Azida, my dorf ranger, although she decided she’d rather be a tempest than an arcane archer. But my main on Cannith now is – surprise – my monk, Tirae. I originally rolled her up because I wanted to try a dark monk, but she had other ideas and insisted on going over to the light side.

She reached level 20 Friday night as the four original members of our little group finished flagging for Shroud. Slvr and Shin also hit 20 (we ran IQ tonight to get Comic to 20). It was late and we probably should have followed Shin’s sensible example and gone to bed, but Slvr, Comic and I decided to run Beyond the Rift so we could get into Eveningstar. And once into Eveningstar, I decided to “just step into King’s Forest for a few minutes.” That stretched into at least an hour, 100+ slayers, quite a few of Elminster’s messages and a goodly number of encounters for some nice XP for Slvr and I.


Tonight I signed Tirae on “just to check mail” when it occurred to me that she could now do epics. Shin was online but afk; no one else from our little group was around. What the heck, I thought, I’ll solo something. Being the glutton for punishment I am, I went for epic Devil Assault. (And when I say “solo” with Tirae, I mean “solo with a FvS hire and a panther,” ’cause hey, she only JUST turned 20.)

Those orthons and devils and tiefling casters kept her pretty busy, and the panther died near the end because Albus the hire ran out of mana about 30 seconds before the boss dropped. But she made it, and besides getting her very first epic tokens, she also pulled Demon’s Blood and a Shard of Power.

Then I checked the social panel and saw a Shroud LFM up. A really nice juicy one, on hard, good balanced party. I tried to resist – honest, I did. But it was no use; I clicked the LFM and found myself in a fun group, including a guy who’s a guildie of Finch’s and also knows Micki (I know this because he sent me a tell asking if I knew Micki since our Cannith toons are in the same guild, LOL). It was a good smooth run, no deaths, I even got to pull the fire ele to the southeast in Phase 2, after getting a little confused in Phase 1 because the portals on Cannith don’t spawn in even CLOSE to the same order as on Thelanis. Her ing bag now has a smattering of green steel ingredients, and she added a Shard of Supreme Power as well. And in case you were wondering, yes, she did take off her robe and dance nekkid on the altar.

By that time Shin was back and Comic had signed on so we headed for IQ, which gave Tirae four ranks in Grandmaster of Flowers and was a lot of fun… even though she did have to kill halflings in I Dream of Jeets (after she pointed out the “Tidy lasses” to Shin and Comic). I thought I’d never have a “serious” toon on Cannith, and it’s kind of neat to see Tirae doing all the big-girl stuff her sisters on Thelanis do.


Even’s added a few accomplishments as well. She’s up to level 22, and I’ve finally gotten her HP over 1K and her AC over 100 unbuffed. Jall ran Shroud a few nights ago – the first Shroud Baz ran on his halfling monk – and ALMOST made it through without drinking a pot; in fact, if some numbskull hadn’t killed Kasquik before Jall had half her mana back, she’d’ve been fine, even still being somewhat of a nervous overhealer. She’s also ALMOST flagged for ToD, just needs New Invasion.

Chalei hit 11 tonight while she was lagged out during a Shadow Crypt farming run – was kind of funny actually, my screen had been stuttering along around 3 fps for a while and finally froze. I sat there for a while hoping it would pass until finally I DCed… and when I was able to get back on, I was still in party and had leveled. (Two reboots later, I FINALLY got my frame rate consistently into double digits… stupid Comcrap.) Meren and Yttsie are up to level 8, and Zak – after a fun 3BC run with Baz – is just a bit shy of leveling to 8 as well.

Speaking of Zak, he was hard-pressed not to pike during that 3BC run because Baz was slaughtering everything in sight – which was great, because Zak, being a lvl 7 wizzy, is more than a bit squishy. But he was feeling a bit self-conscious over not having any kills during one quest… until he fired off a spell and killed an ogre:

(Say) Ogre says, “Grutuk! Moch tezaang nu!”

I’m pretty sure that’s ogre-speak for, “Oh, the shame! To be killed by the gimpy wizard instead of the TR barb!”


Acanthia has now run every quest in the game and has four ranks into her first level of Legendary Dreadnought, although when she’ll get more is anyone’s guess since I switch her back to GMoF for anything meaningful – it feels gimped to go into raids and such now without her ranged ki attacks and EiN. And last but not least, I’ve now managed to grind at least +2 tomes in everything for each one of my 10 Thelanis toons. Time to start working on more +3s and +4s!


Forget the cheezburger. MOAR TOONA!


OHAI. Ur probally thinkin dis post iz abowt DDO, but dis iz not mah mommy. Dis iz ME, Victoria, teh mostest awsumest kitteh EVAH. Ai iz haijakt teh kompyooter becawz itz mah birfday. Ai iz 10 today! So pleeze forgib teh typoz becawz itz hard 2 tipe wif pawz. So instedz uv riting stuffz Ai iz puttin up pritty pikshers OF ME. Dis way dere iz not az menny typoz an Ai getz to go eatz mah birfday TOONA.






Allwaze rememember dat KITTEHS > DDO. An dat KITTEHS NEED TOONAZ. Ai doan getz enuf toona. Pleeze send sum toona to mah mommy an tellz her to gibz it to me. Fankz.


(Translation by teh kitteh mommy: Today is Victoria’s 10th birthday. Despite getting lots of tuna and attention, she still felt that her birthday wouldn’t be complete unless she commandeered the computer… at least until naptime. Happy birthday, Victoria!)

Horseshoes, hand grenades and Harry


“Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” – unknown

I’ve run a fair amount of Shrouds. Acanthia’s approaching number 60, Even’s closing in on 40, Jall ran 20 in her first life and has a few under her belt in this one, Vic’s going for 20, and even Dissy has gotten some completions in.

Mostly they’re smooth runs – I mean, it’s Shroud. But every once in a while it goes a bit haywire, usually in Phase 4 or 5. And sometimes when things are looking pretty bad, a few intrepid souls step up and save the day. Once in a while, I’ve had one of the toons involved in the save, and that’s a great feeling. Still, ever since I saw a video of a cleric soloing Harry, I’ve had this sekrit urge to someday be the lone person who pulled the party through when all seemed lost.

So, Tuesday night. Elite Shroud. AWESOME group (and a PUG, no less). Crazy insane DPS with a bunch of monks, a cleric, a FvS, a couple of rangers, an arty, a wiz and a rogue. Whiz through the first three phases fast, including one of the smoothest Phase 2s I’ve ever seen, and on to Phase 4.

Things start out well. Just a few little things here and there. Someone accidentally killed the last devil while there were still several sets of blades, but no big deal. Then someone cast acid fog that kept the folks around the outside from being able to see the blades closing in, so we lose a few people on the first round. No worries, gather up, heal and get ready for Round Two.

More acid fog, more deaths in blades, repeat for Round Three. We’re down to about five people – Acanthia and two other monks, Slvr on his ranger and the cleric. Clear the devils at the start of Round Four. My Everything is Nothing is on cooldown, so one of the other monks hits his when Harry drops, but it’s just a bit too soon as the gnolls aren’t all there yet. But we get them down and keep plugging away at Harry. The blades close in and suddenly it’s just Acanthia and Harry left standing; 11 soulstones are revolving in the next room while their owners call out encouragement to me.

Harry and I are both down to a sliver of health. It’s him or me.

Finally, Acanthia’s chance to be the hero. She gulps a Silver Flame pot just in time as Harry fires off a delayed blast fireball at her, then she goes into Empty Body (same thing as Shadow Walk) and tears around the outside of the circle chugging Cure Serious pots to get her health back as Harry flies up to the top and tries to hit her with a few more DBFs. He disappears after a few passes and the devils drop. With Stunning Fist, Kukan-Do, Tomb of Jade and Shining Star, Acanthia is able to pick them off one by one, saving the last one until all the blades have gone, her health is full, and her Wholeness of Spirit and Everything is Nothing are off timer.

Drop the last devil; Harry ports in, followed closely by the gnolls. Acanthia waits a second or two to make sure all the gnolls have appeared, then hits Everything is Nothing to vaporize them. A few more shots interspersed with Quivering Palm and Drifting Lotus, and Harry falls. She did it!


Except… it didn’t QUITE happen that way. The story above is correct up to the point where I wrote, “She gulps a Silver Flame pot just in time” – because unfortunately, she’d gulped her last Silver Flame pot a few minutes before that and didn’t have any left. So when that Delayed Blast Fireball hit her, her soulstone joined the other 11.

But still, I think that’s going to stick in my memory as one of the best Shrouds I’ve ever run. If I’d had just one more SF pot, or if my Wholeness of Spirit hadn’t been on cooldown… I really do think she’d have pulled it off. And even though she didn’t, knowing that she COULD have is a very cool feeling.

Eleven years later

WTC Memorial

Amidst tales of bad PuGs and twink gear and which build is best, sometimes I need to take a step back and remember the things that really matter.

Though Sept. 11, 2012 is almost – almost – just another day, today is the 11th anniversary of the Al Qaeda attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. To be honest, I nearly forgot (which actually isn’t that easy since it’s also the day before my parents’ anniversary) until I turned on the TV and came across some really well-done programming on the History Channel. The images, videos and accounts, many of which I’d seen but even more that I hadn’t, brought back a lot of memories.

WTC Memorial

I was working as an MIS specialist – which was occasionally interesting and technical, but more often a glorified data entry job – during the day in Montoursville, PA (which is somewhat famous for another tragedy, the loss of 16 high school French club students and five adults who were their chaperones in the TWA Flight 800 crash of 1996). We were allowed to wear headphones to listen to music while we worked. Since the MIS department was in the basement, radio reception was terrible, so most of us had portable CD players (iPods and MP3 players weren’t in vogue yet). But my friend and co-worker Deanna was addicted to the Dr. Laura radio show, and every morning she tuned in even though most of the time the static was so bad she couldn’t hear it very well.

It seemed another typically uneventful day. Even when Deanna looked up, took her headphones off, and said, “I could have sworn they just said something about the World Trade Center being bombed,” no one really reacted. I remember there was a fluorescent light bulb that was starting to burn out and buzzing really loudly, and between that and the static, Deanna gave up on radio and popped a CD into her player. About an hour later, our manager, Shelley, told us that corporate headquarters had called to let us know they were shutting down for the day “because of some kind of terrorist thing, I think,” and that since they were closing, so were we. Again, nobody got upset; most of us didn’t particularly like our jobs and were glad for an early day. I was especially glad because besides working 8 am until 5 pm there, I also worked 6 pm until 1 am as a sports writer for the local newspaper. I remember thinking, “YEAH! SLEEP!” as I walked out to my car.

WTC Memorial

My poor Neon – nicknamed “The Pickle” by one of my fellow sports writers because of its cucumber-ish hue – had no radio antenna at the time; if I remember correctly, it had snapped off in a wind storm a week or two earlier. So once again, I was in the Land of Poor Reception. Still, I tried tuning into a local station that carried the Bob & Tom Show, thinking that might be good for a few laughs on my way home.

If you’re not familiar with Bob  & Tom, they’re generally raunchy and about as far from politically correct as you can get; in other words, standard morning radio fare. Without the antenna, I could barely hear the show, but I thought I made out something about flying planes into the World Trade Center, and I remember thinking that was pretty offensive even for Bob & Tom; I just assumed it was one of their skits in exceptionally bad taste.

I decided to stop at Wegman’s, a supermarket near my apartment, before I went home. I pulled into a parking space next to the cart return, put the Neon in park and opened the door to make sure I had room to get out  before I turned the ignition off (the car on the other side was way over the line). And all of a sudden someone was screaming on the air, “Oh my God! Oh my God! The second tower collapsed!” I turned it up; this time somehow I knew it wasn’t a comedy bit gone wrong. There was an older woman who’d just returned her cart; she stopped and turned towards me and we just listened like that for – I don’t know. It might have been five seconds; it might have been five minutes. Finally she said slowly, “Is that some kind of ad for a movie?” I don’t remember what I replied.

WTC Memorial

I know I went into Wegman’s, just because I was there and maybe because I was hoping for some kind of information that was better than what I’d gotten from staticky Bob & Tom. But the news hadn’t traveled very fast yet; everyone in the store was going about their business as usual. I must have bought something because I remember standing at the checkout.

I don’t remember driving from Wegman’s to my apartment – it was only a few blocks anyway – but I remember unlocking the door, dropping my grocery bag and purse on the floor, picking up my kitty for a hug, and heading into the living room to turn on the TV… just in time to see a replay of the second plane hitting the south tower. And that was when it hit me. That was the first time it occurred to me to fish my cell out of the bottom of my purse and start calling friends and family, and I remember being very, VERY glad that no one I knew lived in or worked in or was visiting New York City at the time.

WTC Memorial

Eleven years later, the images and sounds from 9/11 can still bring me to tears – or inspire me, as with Flight 93’s “Let’s roll” or the members of Congress standing on the steps of the Capitol building and singing “God Bless America.”

The photos above were taken on two separate trips to Manhattan, both in 2007; I’m sure Ground Zero and the memorial site have changed a lot since then. I’ve only been to Washington once since 9/11, a one-day business trip so I didn’t get a chance to see the Pentagon Memorial; I’ve never been to Shanksville at all but hope to visit someday.

I remember a commercial that came out a few months after 9/11. It started out by showing a street full of ordinary houses while a voice-over talked about how Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda had tried to change the face of America. “And they did,” the voice said – and the image changed to the same street with the same houses, only now each house prominently displayed an American flag. I always liked that commercial. It reminded me that sometimes the worst of times brings out the best in us.

It’s not you, it’s me… isn’t it?


When I was getting seriously ready to TR Jall, I asked my friend Purp for help with her next build – well, OK, it was really more like me pleading, “Purp, HELP! I don’t want her to suck this bad in her next life! Make a build for me!”

Which he did, and it’s been SOOOO much better than her first life. But I digress. Besides the build, he also posted a guide to playing a healer. There were five steps; I can’t remember all of them but I know Jall came in somewhere between Step 1 and Step 2. And Step 5 was the Zerging Cleric – “Follow me if you want to live!”

At the time I couldn’t imagine EVER feeling that way when playing a healer. Jall’s first life was all healbot, all the time. When someone died, I automatically assumed it was because I screwed up. I almost never thought about things like barbarians with low AC and paladins with no healing amp and the extra mana it took to heal people who didn’t stay close to the party.

Jall just ran her second Shroud of this life, and sometime during the run, I realized that there were a couple of people dying and… I didn’t care. She was keeping up the main party just fine; the ones who were dying were straying away from the main party or taking tremendous amounts of damage in a single hit (hey, GeoffHanna, how’s this for a MMOtivational idea – “Fortification: It’s not twink gear”).

Oh, I still TRIED to keep them up, to the tune of four or five major pots. That happened in her first life too, but back then I got mad at myself for having to use pots because I was a bad healer. During that Shroud, I got annoyed at the couple of people who were costing me pots because – well, because they were costing me pots.

It was a weird feeling – kind of a good one, but mostly weird. I tend to be my own worst critic, ingame and out of it, and I never expected to have people die on my watch and not go through a guilt trip over it. If the dying party members had been in my circle of friends rather than random PuGgers, I wouldn’t have cared about the pots (and probably would have cared a lot more about the deaths). But none of the problem children in the party were people I knew, so there came a point when I saw HP dropping on someone who was way off from the rest of the party, and I thought, “Eh, I can’t be arsed, I’ll rez them after Harry goes down.” I wasn’t mad at them, I didn’t think they were terrible players; I just didn’t feel responsible this time.

Jall’s still a charter member of Mnemonoholics Anonymous, but things have changed. Now she tends to use pots because she likes throwing out blade barriers and Destruction and cool offensive spells like that. Outside of that Shroud, most of the time she’s not even using cures and heals because her aura and bursts have been enough… and THAT feeling is ALL good.


The feeling that’s NOT so good is this “little glitch” that’s been going on with radiant aura. Baz first noticed it running his cleric on Cannith Night; his aura would suddenly be hitting one person for way, WAY less than before. As far as we could tell, it was completely random, and after a while it went away on its own.

So the next time I signed Jall in, I paid close attention to the green numbers from her aura and sure enough, the same thing happened. Running elite Genesis Point (which she solo healed at lvl 17 with only one death, and that was the guy who stayed up top to pull the levers while the rest of us were down below, so GO JALL!), her aura was hitting the other party members for 25-48, much more on crits, with the difference being how much heal amp each person had.

And then all of a sudden she’d be hitting one or two people for single-digit healing. I tried swapping her gear in and out; the affected party members did the same. Nothing helped. It’d go like that for a while and then randomly go back to normal for no apparent reason. The above screenshot was taken during one of the glitchy times; as shown, Jall’s aura was hitting the guy on the left for 12 points and the guy on the right for 9. Pre- and post-glitch, she was hitting them for 48 and 30 respectively, IIRC.

Jall is never going to be an über cleric because, for one thing, I leave überness for the egolitists, and for another, playing a healer just doesn’t come as naturally to me as playing a melee or even a caster. But it’s kind of nice to finally feel like maybe she’s doing OK.

Now what?


Acanthia’s been my main for a while now, but up until recently I still spent a lot of time playing my other toons. For the past few weeks, though, it’s been almost all Acanthia, all the time.

I’m not completely sure why. Maybe it’s because Grandmaster of Flowers is just so darn fun, what with nearly endless ki, a heal available every three minutes, ranged spell-like attacks… and of course, Everything is Nothing. Maybe it’s because she’s just so much more solo-able than my other toons, or that she’s far more raid capable than her sisters and brothers. Whatever it is, each night when I sign on, I have this mental list of what I want to get done with which toon, but almost none of it gets done because I click Acanthia on the login screen and get crackin’.

So now she’s capped at lvl 25 and has maxed out GMoF as well. The only “big” thing left for her to do is Caught in the Web; she’s done every other raid in the game (except the Restless Isles ones, but… meh), she’s been soloing epics on eNorm and got her first eHard solo (Reclaiming the Rift) last night. (OK, all you egolitists, I know you can solo everything on epic elite with one hand tied behind your back, but I’m NOT an elite player so this was a big deal for me. Now go back to your egos.)


So… now I need to figure out where to go next with her. I guess the logical thing is to start working my way through some of the other destinies; I’m just dreading it because GMoF is SO SO SO SO SO! damn cool. But there are a couple of things from other destinies I’d like to twist in, and the only way to do that is to give up GMoF for a while.  *sniffle*

Although it means that all the XP she earns goes absolutely nowhere, I’m going to keep her as is until she gets at least a couple of Caught in the Web runs under her belt, and catches up on any high-level raids that she doesn’t have on elite yet. (I THINK that’s only Hound, and my memory is spotty enough that she might have that on elite as well). I definitely want GMoF for that stuff. Then I’ll probably head to Legendary Dreadnought and start working my way around, meanwhile cleaning up favor and stuff like that.


Someday, a long, LONG time from now, I’d like to get completionist on her. It’ll be tough, though; I have a hard time thinking of her as anything but a monk. I have a feeling that all of her future lives will have a sizable monk splash no matter what her “main” class is.