Filkin’ Around: Paint It Black

Black dragon

Oh no, not another filk! What can I say… I was actually working on a totally different idea for a blog post when Slvr made the mistake of quoting some Rolling Stones lyrics while a couple of people in our LoB group were debating the merits of the various colors of dragonscale armor.

Probably not one of my better ones, and I didn’t even bother to change up the title from the original “Paint It Black”. But hey, it was fun to write.

Paint It Black

I see white armor and I want to paint it black
No blue or red or green, I want it all in black
I see the sorcs go by dressed in Spidersilk robes
I just keep farming scales ’cause I don’t want to wear those

I have all kinds of armor but I don’t have black
Sometimes I kill Sinvala, sometimes I’m her snack
Haste Guard and Armor Piercing are what I want to make
Relentless Fury’s just the icing on the cake

I fight the acid dragon, with his scales so black
I want to get enough to make the gear I lack
Maybe I should give up or try a different tack
It’s hard to keep on grinding for those scales of black

One more Tor LFM is all that I can do
Until tomorrow, then I’ll start the grind anew
How many Mired zergfests will I have to run
Before I lose my mind and start to come undone?

I see white armor and I want to paint it black
No blue or red or green, I want it all in black
I see the sorcs go by dressed in Spidersilk robes
I just keep farming scales ’cause I don’t want to wear those

Filkin’ around: Nerf City

Seregeth

Mostly I’m pretty happy with how my toons have turned out since Update 19, and aside from TRing Char, which had nothing to do with the update, I haven’t reincarnated – lesser, greater, or true – any of ’em. But there are still little things I run across that make me wonder what in the world the devs were thinking. After watching Slvr’s bard Dirge the training dummy multiple times tonight while he kept swapping gear around to figure out why there was no Harmonic Resonance going on, the phrase “Nerf City” popped into my head… and well, when that happens, most of my friends know there’s a filk on the way.

Jan and Dean, sorry to butcher your classic “Surf City” with my DDO version.

Nerf City

Too bad, delete, reroll

I got a level 20 tempest and she used to be bad-ass
(Nerf City, now I’m gimped)
She could’ve used some hit points but she beat up the mobs fast
(Nerf City, now I’m gimped)
But they forgot dual-wielders in the last update
So now all she’s good for is just dragon bait

Well, we’re stuck in Nerf City and we’re feelin’ dumb
Yeah, we’re stuck in Nerf City and it ain’t no fun
Well, we’re stuck in Nerf City and we’re feelin’ dumb
Yeah, we’re stuck in Nerf City and it ain’t no fun

Too bad, delete, reroll

I could TR her to a wizard or I could try out arti
(Nerf City, now I’m gimped)
I gotta figure out a new build or get left out of parties
(Nerf City, now I’m gimped)
Her skill points are a mess, they almost make me laugh
Do I really need to dump her bluff to raise spellcraft?

Well, we’re stuck in Nerf City and we’re feelin’ dumb
Yeah, we’re stuck in Nerf City and it ain’t no fun
Well, we’re stuck in Nerf City and we’re feelin’ dumb
Yeah, we’re stuck in Nerf City and it ain’t no fun

Too bad, delete, reroll

My monk can’t rez her hireling with Rise of the Phoenix
(Nerf City, now I’m gimped)
They say it’s working as intended but it seems more like a glitch
(Nerf City, now I’m gimped)
My rogue can’t find the secret doors around Wheloon
And my sorc’s DCs are crap, guess he’ll be my bank toon

Well, we’re stuck in Nerf City and we’re feelin’ dumb
Yeah, we’re stuck in Nerf City and it ain’t no fun
Well, we’re stuck in Nerf City and we’re feelin’ dumb
Yeah, we’re stuck in Nerf City and it ain’t no fun

Too bad, delete, re –
Too bad, delete, reroll

Think pink?

Zak

I have these pretty detailed ideas floating around my head about what my toons are like, personality-wise; not just their base stats and hit points and spellpower, but what they’d be like if they were real (WHAT?! They’re not real?) and were people I actually knew.

I’ve always imagined Zak, my pale master, as kind of a more masculine version of a metrosexual. He’s dignified, he takes some pains with his appearance, and he comes across as very British and aristocratic. He has very deep emotions but rarely expresses them, and is usually uncomfortable when he does.

Zak has definite ideas of what suits him, and he’s rather opinionated on what a pale master should be. When he’s not in form, he still has a certain “undertaker” air about him; he wears a lot of black with the occasional touch of “blood” colors (red, maroon, etc.). No bright colors, no light colors except for white and gray (which he spells “grey”), absolutely nothing fluorescent.

Well, Zak is peeved right now. Being the dignified, refined sort he is, “peeved” is about as mad as he gets. But he’s really, REALLY peeved, because the other night while in wraith form he happened to catch a glimpse of himself in the mirror, and what he saw was decidedly un-Zak…

Zak

PINK EYES? Seriously? Whose idea was this? WHY did they think it was a GOOD idea? This is SO not Zak… and even his icons, except for the one for his death aura, have gotten the pink treatment as well.

Now personally, I have nothing against pink. I kinda like it. I mean, hey, I’m a girl. When I was born, the hospital wrapped me in a pink blanket and put a pink bracelet on my wrist. But most guys I know aren’t as crazy about pink, especially glowing, fluorescent pink.

I can’t help but notice that Zak’s eyes are now the same color as that “wonderful” lag-inducing, video-card-burning hell that pervades Wheloon Prison… or as Baz calls it, “Lagmo Bismol.” Is this the new trend in DDO’s appearance? Are we doomed to live in a virtual world that looks like a radioactive Crayola box exploded?

I hope not. I don’t want my pale master to start crying pink tears.

Imbalance of power

Stormglory Bolt

I can’t speak for other countries, but here in the U.S. there’s often outcry about the wealthiest people having loopholes so that they aren’t taxed as heavily as their poorer counterparts.

There’s something similar going on with DDO guilds. It used to be that all guilds level 26 and higher were subject to daily renown decay. The amount of decay was determined by the number of unique accounts in the guild. The more accounts, the more decay.

To me, this was a GOOD thing. It encouraged players to be active and earn renown for their guilds. And it encouraged guilds to be – I hate to use the word “selective,” because it tends to have elitist connotations. But yes – selective; selective in that it benefited a guild to put together a group of like-minded players who worked well together and enjoyed each other’s company rather than just indiscriminately adding whoever they could find.

Unfortunately, at least in my opinion, renown decay was suspended on June 20 and was supposed to remain so until the release of the Shadowfell Conspiracy. Even more unfortunately, decay is STILL on hiatus with no official plans to bring it back, according to the DDO Wiki guild renown page.

Maybe you’re wondering why this is such a bad thing. Yay, no more renown decay! Let’s all celebrate! Right?

But there are a few problems with that approach. Now, guilds are being rewarded for going out and recruiting anyone at all, because every last little bit of renown earned is renown kept. So there’s a lot more shady stuff like people lurking in the Wavecrest spamming blind guild invites on unsuspecting newbies.

And it punishes smaller guilds, because now the decay that once helped keep the playing field level is gone. Our little Thelanis guild is basically Slvr and me; Comic plays with us Tuesday nights as part of a static group and Shin occasionally signs on but hasn’t been active lately. Having just a few people who are active and do a lot of stuff together works well for us, but with so few, it takes us a LONG time to level up. I joined the guild full-time about a year and a half ago, when it was level 27. We’re now within about 100K renown of level 50 and looking forward to our next airship (even though I’ll miss the green paint job I gave our Stormglory Bolt, but that’s a whole ‘nuther story).

There’s Vey, who has, through a LOT of hard work, gotten his guild – not a lot bigger than ours – all the way up to level 94 at present. That’s one hell of an accomplishment for a small guild like Riddles.

There’s a guild that I’d hardly seen around before decay was suspended. I doubt they were out of the 20s guild level-wise at that time. Now they’re well into the 80s – in a matter of a few months. Go to the social tab, search all, and sort by guild, and there always seem to be at least 20 or 30 of them, because they recruit anybody and everybody. They have people who troll the Who tab looking for unguilded players – I know, because when I rolled up Sere, my iconic Shadar-Kai assassin, I was leveling her up to 15 and got TWO tells from different people in that guild asking me to join. Sorry, but even if I were looking for a guild, I wouldn’t want to be part of one that would do stuff like that.

And then… there’s the guild I was in before I joined Slvr’s. Account-wise, they’re one of the largest guilds on Thelanis. I used to be successor and roster keeper, back in the day when they had applications and recommendations and tryouts to see how someone would fit in before they were invited to the guild. When I left, they were at level 72. When renown decay was first suspended, they were maybe 77 or 78, I think… but boy, has that changed. Now the only criteria to get in, so I’m told by a couple of members who aren’t too happy about the policy change, is to get an officer to invite you.  It doesn’t matter if you’re an asset to the guild or not; all that matters is that you’re one more person who might earn a little more renown, because that’s what pays off – that guild is now level 99.

Quick side note: I’m not naming the guild because, for starters, naming and shaming is a totally classless thing to do, and because, even though I vehemently oppose the new policy of “invite anyone,” I still have some AMAZING friends in that guild, people who are some of my best friends in DDO.

But when you invite just anyone to your guild without regard to how they’ll fit in, you might not have to worry about renown decay, but you ARE going to have to worry about your guild’s reputation. I saw that firsthand tonight during FoT with Abs, Ninja and the very awesome gang from Clan. I was on Jall and was assigned to the TO tank. We had one other healer, a cleric from my old guild, who was assigned to heal the rest of the party and keep an eye on the SR tank if needed.

Somehow, the guy managed to blow through 3400 mana in no time flat. We didn’t even have the first giant/dragon pair down before his blue bar was empty, and it was obvious he DIDN’T blow it on heals. So Ninja asked him to please save his SP for healing rather than casting a lot of offensive spells. She asked him nicely. And he replied, “Go f*** yourself,” “F*** you,” “I was f***ing healing” (trust me, he wasn’t – a couple people were scroll healing and I was trying to throw some heals when I could get within range, which wasn’t a lot since Abs was doing a great job keeping the TO away from the party). And he didn’t just say it once and stop. He kept at it. Even after Abs decided to call it and get us out of there before anyone could use more resources on a lost cause, the guy was STILL swearing at Ninja.

Yes, he was a total jerk. And he also made his guild look REALLY bad. The party re-formed (without him, of course), and there was much talk about that guild, none of it positive. But I guess if all you’re after is the next guild level, that stuff doesn’t matter.

To be fair, guilds with less than 50 active accounts do get a bonus to renown earned. The bonus varies based on number of accounts relative to the guild’s size classification. Slvr has a couple of alt accounts to keep us at six total for the maximum renown bonus of 300%, so for example we get 3,000 renown for a Legendary Victory while a guild with 50 or more unique accounts would get 1,000. But we have really two people actively earning renown on a daily basis. A guild with 50+ members, even if a full third of those members aren’t active, is going to earn a lot more renown than we do. Without decay as an equalizer, the high-membership guilds are leaving little guilds like ours in the dust, especially as more and more renown is required for each successive guild level.

Even if they bring decay back, the playing field will still be slanted. In a post from October 2012, Tolero explains a Turbine policy change that states, “Renown decay no longer takes guild size into account. This should ease the pressure for guild leaders to “kick” members from the guild to offset daily renown decay rates. Renown decay now only takes a guild’s level into consideration rather than its size.”

I see nothing wrong with kicking guild members for inactivity. If someone hasn’t signed on in a long time, why keep them in your guild? When I was still in the old guild, the policy was that inactive accounts were booted after one month and one day of no activity, but were ALWAYS welcome to rejoin if they returned to the game. That’s a pretty simple and fair way of doing things.

But now, the easiest way to level up your guild is only simple, not fair – just go out and recruit everyone you can.

Fun for ALL II: A tale of two Souls

Meren and Winnie

Recent posts about paladin hate – and love – got me to thinking about why anyone would have a blanket hatred of a particular class when within any class, there’s potential to go in all sorts of different directions. And that got me to wondering why so many people like to diss the builds that others have without ever seeing them in action.

I was excited when I unlocked Favored Soul on Thelanis and quickly rolled up Merenwynne, an elf Soul with a monk splash. About the same time, I made a half-orc monk named Winnabette. To this day, they’re the only characters I’ve ever rerolled. Meren was too monk-ish for me – oh, I love my monks, but I wanted to play a Favored Soul, not another monk with better healing. And Winnie just never really got off the ground. (To be fair, she was originally created with the sole intention of soloing hard Pit at level 4. I just never got around to upgrading her starter gear.)

So both of them got rerolled into pure Favored Soul builds. For Winnie, I chose the Lord of Blades used by my friend Purp, who may be the best healer I’ve ever run with. I’d watched his FvS solo heal elite ToD in a group that had a healthy share of gimps (can’t remember who I was on; I may have been one of them!). This was back when the level cap was 20 and there were no such things as epic destinies. That ToD is what sticks in my mind, but many other runs with Purp convinced me that his build was quite possibly the best FvS I was ever going to see.

Plus, Purp was the one who helped me come up with the build for Jall’s second life. I told him what I was aiming for, and he’d run with me enough to know my playstyle. So even though he gave me a little good-natured ribbing because what I wanted for Jall wasn’t what he would have chosen, he made me a build tailored to what I wanted, and it’s worked out amazingly well.

I really had no idea exactly what I wanted to do with Meren except make some kind of heal-specced Soul with casting backup who wasn’t really a melee, but who could handle herself if the situation called for jumping in and bashing away with a nice scimi. While I had what amounted to step-by-step instructions from Purp on how to build Winnie, poor Meren got stuck with a build that I made up as I went along.

Logically, you’d think Winnie would be completely uber – she’s using the EXACT same build as Purp’s FvS, and if that ain’t uber, I don’t know what is. And logically, you’re probably wondering if I even kept playing Meren once I got her out of Korthos.

What’s surprising, at least to me, is that in my hands, Winnie is… so-so. I like her. I can definitely have fun with her. But she doesn’t “fit” me as well as the toons I’ve built myself, so I always feel a little off when I play her. It’s hard to put it into words. Maybe it’s that my playstyle and Purp’s are so different. Winnie’s build is designed for someone much more hardcore and zergy (the good zergy, just getting things done quickly and efficiently, rather than the bad zergy of running off and leaving everyone else behind). I tend to prefer having more of a specific role to play rather than trying to be everything. In Purp’s hand, Winnie’s build CAN be everything… but not in mine. With me at the controls, she’s a self-sufficient melee who can definitely do some healing, but nothing like what I’ve seen Purp do.

Meren, on the other hand… well, since I didn’t plan out her build at ALL, she’s kind of a hodgepodge. Every time I spent her action points or leveled her up, I looked at what was available and picked what sounded best at the time for the way I wanted to play.

“The way I wanted to play” – THAT is what made the difference. All the uber things I can’t do with Winnie’s uber build, I CAN do with Meren’s patchwork one… because that cobbled-together mess fits the way I like to play. Playing Meren is much more intuitive for me than playing Winnie. I don’t have to stop and think about what I’m doing; it just happens. So while I know I can’t utilize Winnie to her maximum potential, I’d bet Purp would have similar issues if he tried to play Meren.

I’ve managed to get Winnie to level 15 and mostly only run her with our little Tuesday night static group. I’d certainly never join a PuG of strangers as the sole healer with her. Meren, though, is level 23 and having a blast working through Unyielding Sentinel. She’s done very well soloing eNorm quests that are above her level, and I’m starting to try her in eHards as well with good results. I’m thrilled that she’s at nearly 800 HP and well over 3,000 SP considering I never made a really serious effort to beef up either one.

Meren even tanked Horoth in a short-manned ToD not too long ago – no, NOT because I think she’s all that. I KNOW she’s not a tank. But we didn’t have a tank or even a good tank candidate. Meren had the highest HP in the group, plus respectable AC, plus she was self-healing… it was a case of, “Either the FvS tanks or we call it off because it’s taking too long to fill.” That’s all. So please don’t think I’m one of those egolitists who want people to think they do everything better than anyone else.

If just one person reads this and goes away thinking, “Hmmm, next time I’ll see how someone does before I diss their build,” I’ll be happy.

Have you hugged a paladin today?

Evennote

Dear Turbine,
I would like to suggest that the first week in October be hereafter
officially designated as “Paladin Appreciation Week.”
Love, Even ❤

 

Sometimes Even’s total lack of DPS makes me forget about all the amazing things she CAN do. Luckily for her, a pair of posts by Geoff Hanna and Adiurd reminded me that a paladin tank can be incredibly fun to play.

 

It’s easy to forget all the great things about paladins when you see a monk or barb doing quadruple-digit damage, or when you see all the paladin hate in forum posts and the advice channel. Want to get flamed? Just ask for advice on a paladin build – it’s a guaranteed 5000% troll bonus to threat.

 

Even's BoB XP report
XP report – click for full size.

Seeing two people whose opinions I respect and admire speaking up publicly via blog in favor of paladins made me kinda proud of Even… so proud that I decided to try something I haven’t quite managed with Acanthia yet. I wanted to solo an epic elite. REALLY solo – no hirelings, no summons – and REALLY epic elite. Not doing Impossible Demands or Rusted Blades the “easy” way on EE. Even squishy rogue Vic can do that. One fight isn’t EE in my book. So nothing that involved invis-ing and running to the end for one fight either. I didn’t want to solo an EE so I could say to other people, “Look, I soloed an EE.” I wanted to solo an EE so I could say to MYSELF, “Hey, I soloed an EE!”

 

Acanthia’s come very, VERY close. In fact, a few hours before Even’s attempt, Acanthia made it all the way to just outside the end fight in Bargain of Blood before she got neg leveled to death (note to self: next time keep an eye on her buff bar so you know when to drink another DW pot). I chose BoB for Even as well; Snitch seemed an obvious choice, but I found out the hard way that the seer in the first fight heals herself faster than Even can damage her, and also is annoyingly good at hitting Even with Greater Command.

 

Was it pretty? Oh HELL no! It seemed to take Even forever to beat down each mob. On the plus side, they didn’t seem to be able to do much damage to HER either. Throughout the entire quest, I think she dropped below 600 HP – my “Uh-oh, it’s Lay on Hands time” danger signal – maybe half a dozen times. Rejuvenation Cocoon was mostly enough to keep her red bar at a healthy level, although she did go through all seven of her seven greater mnemonic pots and two majors that she really just carries to reimburse healers. It’s amazing how fast that 10 SP from Cocoon adds up when you’re using it as your main source of heals – and when you have less than 450 SP to start with. Of course, she also had to refresh her buffs a few times, and – since I forgot to twist in something more useful before I got into the quest – she used Energy Sheath from Draconic Incarnation quite a bit when there were casters around.

 

Evennote

 

Still, I don’t think I really believed she was going to do it until I realized that she had the General Manager down to about 10%. His red bar dropped incredibly slowly; for a good two or three minutes, when she had him at about 75%, I was starting to wonder if he was managing to heal himself somehow, because his health didn’t seem to budge at ALL.  Once he was finally down, the Manager was a much easier fight. It took a while to get him pinned in a corner so he wasn’t jumping all over, but after that it was pretty much auto-attack, sit back, and hit Cocoon every so often.

 

So hug a paladin today! They’re amazingly fun, and don’t forget to thank them for keeping the aggro off YOU.