Fun for ALL III: Reality check



I’m not sure anyone will really want to read this post. I’m not sure I even want to write it. Not that anyone wants to read any of my posts; I’m not nearly conceited enough to think anyone will be overcome with despair if I don’t post at regular intervals and fill them in on every last piddling detail of everything that every one of my toons has been doing. But I digress.


And I might digress a lot during this post, because there’s a LOT going on in this empty shell I call my head. I’m relieved. I’m hurt. I’m frustrated. I’m nervous. I’m confused. I’m anxious. I’m overwhelmed. I’m happy. I’m sad. I’m dealing with so much stuff right now, in and out of DDO.


See, stuff happens. It happens in DDO; it happens in real life. Most of what I’m going through right now is real life, and I’m freaking sick and tired of people who just cannot get it through their thick arrogant heads that NO. Some of us DO NOT freaking spend EVERY damn minute of EVERY damn day focused on DDO and how to rub in everyone’s faces how very über we are. I know there are people who put DDO ahead of “real life” things. I don’t have a problem with that; it’s a matter of personal preference. But don’t be all arrogant and condescending to me because I don’t make DDO my top priority.


I tend to be a pretty private person online except with people I know well and like. Even has a Gmail for DDO-related stuff. I try to check that every day in case someone has questions or concerns about OurDDO. The people I talk to on a regular basis outside of DDO have my “real” E-mail, Facebook and/or AIM. I don’t have time to spend checking messages in multiple places, so if someone sends me a message anywhere that’s not Even’s Gmail, my “real” E-mail, Facebook, or AIM, chances are I’m not going to see it. I have been called “rude and ignorant” on my OWN DAMN BLOG for this. Personally, I think “rude and ignorant” is expecting me to take time away from the non-DDO things I prioritize to cater to someone else’s whims as far as which messages I should be checking and when I should be checking them. When I didn’t cave to the bullying and become a minion, I got more crap… but I’m not going to apologize for that.


Anyway. I digress again. Being a mostly pretty private person, I don’t tend to share all the little details of my personal life online. Sharing the little stuff makes no sense to me – does anyone really need to know if my nose is stuffy or I stubbed my toe or that I had chicken for dinner? And most of the time, I prefer to keep the big stuff to myself. But. Today my emotions are getting the better of me. I should be pouring all this into my NaNoWriMo novel, but that’s going in a totally different direction. So, to all you egolitists out there…


I have a REAL LIFE. Like it or not – and I know you don’t, and I don’t give a flying fig that you don’t – I value my real life more than I value you. If you want to insult me and spread crap about me because I won’t bow down to your überness – screw you. Go bully someone else.


My father is in the hospital right now recovering from surgery. Yesterday he lost a half a rib, a goodly chunk of lung and a  number of lymph nodes in what will hopefully turn out to be a successful attempt to remove his lung cancer. Doctors found the tumor back at the beginning of May while treating him for a mild heart attack. He’s spent the past NEARLY SIX MONTHS being shuffled from doctor to doctor, being tested for all kinds of things and given all kinds of conflicting diagnoses, but until yesterday nothing had been done to actually TREAT him. In those months, the tumor grew from the size of a walnut to the size of a golf ball.


So far he seems to be doing well. I’m realistic; he’s 73 years old, is severely diabetic and requires an insulin pump, has had several heart attacks, and has already survived colon cancer. But I’m also trying to be optimistic.


So how does this rant relate to DDO?


DDO is my escape. It’s where I go to NOT think about the stressful things in my real life. Most of the time I think I’m a competent player.


But even though I’m often in DDO to “forget” real life, reality still creeps in. Sometimes this means I’m playing DDO, but I’m not completely focused on DDO. Late nights when things quiet down and I’m getting tired is usually when it’s worst. Vey has probably seen that the most; sometimes it seems like I’m always apologizing to him for being brain-dead. But thank heaven for friends like Vey, Baz, Ninja, Abs – I’m going to stop there because I’m not running on all cylinders right now, and I don’t want to leave anyone out – for them and the others who still invite me to run with them, or even INSIST that I run with them, and never give me a hard time when I’m not “all there.” In fact, they make a point of telling me the things I’m doing RIGHT. And that means that when I need to escape real life for a little while, I know I can head for DDO and lose myself there.


It’s certainly been eye-opening for me, seeing who really has my back, who’s just a good questing buddy, who doesn’t give a crap about me as long as I bring in some renown and lead a raid when they want me to. I have a lot to think over right now and figure out what I want to do and where I want to go.


I’m not going to apologize, EVER, for valuing real life above DDO. Nor will I apologize for speaking my mind and saying things that are true. I DO apologize for the rambling, disjointed nature of this post. Staying focused isn’t my strong point right now.


And speaking of points… I do have one. The next time some egolitist is about to start yelling at someone for making a mistake, or not obeying orders, or for just being a fallible human, I’d like to hope they’d stop and think, “Hey. Nobody’s perfect. That person could just be having an off day. Maybe I’ll just deal with it and move on instead of going on a rant about ‘stupid ppl’ wiping my parties.”


Yeah, well, it’s a nice thought.

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.

Fun for ALL, Part I – Gimp is as gimp does


Since DDO currently won’t load for me, figured I might as well blog, y’know?


So, I’ve had this idea for a series running around in my head (hey, I need SOMETHING to fill up the space in there). Actually it was originally going to be a single post, but I’ve been working sporadically on the draft for a few months now and it’s way, way, WAAAAAY too long. Ergo, a series dedicated to the idea that DDO should be fun for EVERYBODY, regardless of class, race, server, skill level, or anything else.


A while back, after running (one of the Eveningstar quests, forget which one) on epic elite, I got a tell from someone who’s read my blog but hadn’t run with me before that night. He told me he was surprised that I ran EEs because “you keep saying you’re not an elite player,” and he also mentioned that he’d seen my LFMs, which nearly always say something like “noob/gimp friendly, first-timers welcome.”


Well, I’m NOT an elite player, but I DO run epic elites. I rarely PuG them mostly because, if I’m running EEs, 99% of the time I’m in a full or nearly-full-and-able-to-shortman group. I PROBABLY would not use the “noob/gimp/first-timer” disclaimer if I were putting up an LFM for an EE quest… but then again, I might, because I believe five (or 11) solid toons shouldn’t fall apart just because one person might need to be carried a bit, as long as that person is trying their best.


One thing I’d never done before until recently was join an EE PuG made up entirely of people I didn’t know. But I was on Jall, kind of felt like running something but couldn’t decide what, and saw an LFM for EE End of the Road with two spots open. What the heck, I thought, and clicked it.


I can’t remember the makeup of the party, except that Jall was the only divine, there was an arti, and only one person was over 500 HP besides Jall (in fact, two of ’em were under 400). The leader was already in the quest, and everybody else just kind of went in when they got there and took off. So we ended up with six people who were nowhere near each other at first. Then the leader said he’d never run the quest before, and a couple others said THEY hadn’t run it before either, and turned out NONE of us had run it on EE (well, Jall had it, but from a group she’d joined late that already had most of the stuff cleared by the time she got there, so it was an easy run to the end fight – I didn’t really count that).


Cringe-worthy? It definitely could have been. But then the arti started making jokes about his low HP and “crappy trappy” skills (his words, not mine, although he wasn’t able to disarm any of the traps), and somebody else started making puns out of everything anybody said, and we all got to laughing, and nobody seemed to care that with a group like this, we were probably facing a guaranteed wipe.


The leader was far ahead of everyone else and died once in the traps around the locked chest (which he didn’t know was locked), but must have gobbled a rez cake because he got himself back up before Jall could get to him. There were some close calls, but once the rest of the party figured out which blue dot was Jall’s, they stuck close for aura healing. I did ask them to stay with me for heals so I wouldn’t have to drink pots – ASKED them, not ORDERED them, which was probably why everyone was quite happy to do so.


The leader, not being close to us, decided his best chance for survival was to run through without fighting. He wasn’t a jerk about it at all; there was just a lot of space, including traps and mobs, between him and us, and he figured tearing through would give him the best chance. It did slow the rest of us down a bit while we stopped to fight, but it really wasn’t a huge deal, and it beat having to look for the leader’s soulstone along the way had he tried to make it back to us (staying put for him wasn’t much of an option as he had some stuff aggro’ed on him).


Remember, the leader had never run the quest before. So when he got to the end, he ran through everything and jumped down into the endfight room, not realizing it was, well, the endfight room. He didn’t last long and wasn’t able to make the jump back up to the shrine to rez himself, so I figured I’d just shrine once we cleared the outer area and then the rest of us would all jump in together and I’d rez him.


Except Razagnol, the boss demon, was pretty darn angry by then. So we clear the inside of the main enclosure and start running around the walkway to the shrine… and even though he’s down in the room below, he starts throwing us around. Over the fence, out into the wild. Of course no two of us ever seemed to land close to each other, and there were still some dire bears and spiders out there… but miraculously no one died.


It probably took us at least five or six tries to find a sweet spot on the walkway where ol’ Raz couldn’t toss us out. Shrining was out of the quest, but luckily Jall wasn’t down too far on mana; she’d thrown out a few BBs but had been using aura and bursts for heals. So one major pot brought her blue bar back pretty close to full. She buffed everybody up, and then on the count of three we all charged into the end room.


Jall got the party leader up right away and we all TRIED to stick together – TRIED because Raz was still inclined to throw us over the fence. The upside to this was that, once tossed, nobody was taking damage out there because pretty much everything was dead. The downside was that it was really hard to stack DPs on Raz since Jall was getting thrown into the wild too often.


Don’t ask me how, but… once the leader was rezzed, there were no more deaths. Jall did drink one more pot towards the end from trying to spam DP, Implosion, Searing Light, and anything else she had on Raz, but everybody was great about making sure they were sticking close to her for aura and burst heals – well, when they weren’t flying through the air.


Nobody could have called us an epic group, or an elite group, or possibly even a GOOD group. I’m sure a lot of people would have ragequit just upon seeing our collective HP total (when Jall has 150 more HP than anyone else in the group, that’s not a good thing), or upon finding out that several people had never done the quest. Once the talking and joking and laughing started, though, that kind of stuff didn’t matter. Obviously I WANTED us to get the completion, but it would have been a great time if we hadn’t.


And oh yes – we DID get the completion. With just those two deaths the leader had. And the loot was crappy, but we even made jokes about that (of course, the chain rewards were better).


This is why I avoid LFMs that say things like, “Be uber/awesome/useful,” “Best destinies,” “KNOW IT,” “Have at least XXX HP,” “BYOH,” etc. Our gimpy little group proved you don’t need ANY of that to complete EE content. Oh, it helps, no denying that… but this run was FUN. DDO is supposed to be FUN. Not just fun for the egolitists, but fun for EVERYBODY.


And in other news… got up early to do some errands and then joined Comic and Mizz on a wild ride that included a trip through Haywire Foundry even though poor Yttsie is 4-5 levels below Comic’s Timp and Mizz’s, uh, Mizz and then, since Yttsie was power-leveled and got no XP, a happy jaunt through the Demon Sands, where, as Mizz pointed out, there are NO DEMONS. Real life called me away, but I left Yttsie logged in to pike slayers and came back to find that she’d picked up around 17K XP. So thanks, guys!  🙂


Also, if you saw this on Twitter, you’re not hallucinating; that doesn’t mean *I’m* on Twitter, just that I set WordPress up to automatically twit my blog entries.  LOL