Photo album: The High Road

High Road

Next up in my photo album project: The High Road, one of the most scenic wilderness areas in the game.

I really had way, way, WAY too many photos to try to put them all in here separately, and they’d use way, way, WAY too much of my allotment to let WordPress make a slideshow of them, and I haven’t found a good way to create a slideshow with external images and embed it in WordPress. So I decided to make a video instead. (If I’d known this would be the path i’d take, I would’ve cropped the base images to a larger size.)

I spent about an hour figuring out how to sync captions, and then YouTube decided to ignore them. Bah. There’s another “next time” lesson – crop the images bigger, AND put the captions right on the images.

Anyway, enjoy!

Music is “The Mighty Kingdom,” available at Audionautix.

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Photo album: Underdark

Underdark Yuan-Ti

There are some really amazing graphics in DDO, and – in no small part inspired by Gamer Geoff‘s postcards and MMOtivational posters along with Spencerian‘s tourist guides – I’ve often thought of putting together digital photo albums of some of my favorite places.

Underdark acid pool

It used to be that I’d crank up my graphic settings when I wanted to get screenshots, then crank them back down to cut back on lag when I was done. Thanks to a new video card, I now have my settings cranked higher than they’ve ever been cranked before at all times, and I’m amazed at just how freaking BEAUTIFUL this game is. You don’t really get the full impact when you’re just upping your graphics for a few minutes at a time; you have to be running around in permanent sliders-to-the-max mode to truly appreciate it.

Underdark Daycrystals

But enough words – this is a photo album, after all. (A photo album that I was too lazy to put into a slideshow. But whatever.) I’m starting with one of my favorite places in all DDO – The Underdark.

Underdark water elemental

The elemental cave is aptly named, as it’s full of earth, air, and water – you guessed it- elementals.

Underdark Purple Worm

See that innocuous-looking pile of dirt? Ever wondered what it would feel like to be digested?

Underdark Yuan-Ti

Remember those human-ish Yuan-Ti and their aversion to tourists? The lizard-ish ones aren’t any better… AND they have “petrifying” friends.

Underdark Bloodrock Medusa

Let your guard slip around this Bloodrock Medusa and you just might find yourself becoming a permanent fixture in Nessaleesa’s Garden.

Underdark Salamander Firebrand

Wishing you’d brought your winter jacket to ward against the Underdark’s chill? Just find some Salamander Firebrands to hang out with!

Underdark Ygglyshek

Go ahead, call him “Uglyshack” – it may be the last thing you ever do.

Underdark Drider

The itsy bitsy Drider climbed up the water spout… and took steroids, and moved to the Underdark, and grew to an enormous size, the better to eat you with.

Underdark Draegloth

Speaking of steroids, either the Draegloth have developed an incredibly effective weight-lifting routine, or they make heavy use of performance-enhancing substances… not that you should take the time to ask one.

Underdark Waterfall

There are several waterfalls in the Underdark, but if that’s your thing, you’re better off going to Niagara.

Underdark webs

It’s a good idea to smash all these cocoons so you won’t fall victim to a swarm of baby Driders, although Mommy and Daddy Drider will fall upon you as soon as you reach their nest.

Underdark Dimaya

Um. Interrupting Under-Priestess Dimaya’s ritual? You went there? Really? Yeah, good luck with that.

The fairest of them all

Discordette

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

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

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

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

And then… DDO introduced the Mirror of Glamering.

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

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

Chalei

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

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

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

You gotta have hearts

Zak

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

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

Meren

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

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

Riva

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

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

Evennote

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

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

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

Back where she belongs

Evennote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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