How to train your dracolich

I knew at least a few Flower Sniffers weren’t going to be able to make it for last night’s livestream, so I was originally planning on running F2P alt Genn to get her some XP and maybe some favor – she’s 49 TP shy of being able to buy Vale while it’s on sale.

But I logged Even in first to check mail and such, and nearly instantly got a Deathwyrm party invite from Abs. That sounded pretty good, so I stuck around a bit and hoped we’d fill in time for the stream.

It was close… but we made it about 30 seconds before I was about to log Even off and get Genn. Abs uncharacteristically let Even keep Callie, her calico tressym, out (generally he doesn’t allow pets in his groups), and also uncharacteristically didn’t mind being on the stream. Even better, he assigned her to tank Aurgloroasa. Win!

You should watch the video above for two main reasons: 1, it is documented proof that I MADE IT THROUGH THE TRICKY JUMPING PART! And 2, because you get to hear me talk like a kobold to Aurgloroasa. I mean, c’mon, if THAT doesn’t grab her aggro, NOTHING will. I also may have called and whistled to her as if she were a puppy…

I would’ve liked to have done EE, but our EH run went very well. Biggest problem Even had was getting tail-whipped all over the place by Ms. Dracolich, which just meant that she spent a lot of time flat on her back (because she was KNOCKED DOWN, you pervs!).

I still had plenty of streaming time left, so I decided to get Genn and run Stormcleave when Deathwyrm was done. The bad news: I pushed “Start recording” instead of “Start streaming,” so it wasn’t streamed. The good news: Since I did push “Start recording,” I still have a video record of it.

Not that it was anything amazing, and Slvr’s ranger annihilated Genn in the kill count (by the time she ran up to stuff, he’d already shot it dead), but I was sort of proud that my gimpy little F2P rogue survived two-manning (plus our healer hires) elite at level, and had no trouble opening the locked chests. Plus she’s adorable, so it’s always nice to get her on the stream.

I didn’t livestream the LH Shroud PuG I joined tonight… and I’m kinda glad, because something embarrassing happened. For the first time EVER, Even died on LH. She was working on her circle puzzle – got the pattern that always had ONE rune unlit no matter what I did. Hadn’t even been at it that long when all of a sudden the Prismatic Wall of Death was in the room with her. Boom! Dead paladin. Had to double-check that we weren’t on elite, because I’ve NEVER seen the wall come up that fast on hard.

But she used her Jack Jibbers blade to bring herself back to life, quickly finished her puzzle, and made it to the fountain before her 60 seconds of life (or is it “unlife?”) as a zombie were up. This was also a first; she’s killed herself on purpose just to use the blade before, but until tonight, had never had a chance to use it for a non-intentional death. So… yay?

Reera the swashbuckler is up to level 23 and just finished flagging for Caught in the Web. I also keep forgetting that I never finished flagging her for heroic Shroud – really need to do that one of these days. Seldom-played fighter Thangerie, who hit 20 months ago and really hasn’t done anything else, got out of the mothballs this past week and did S/R/E tours of King’s Forest and Underdark. I’m not sure why I don’t play her more; I had a lot of fun with her. I’d like to beef her saves up a bit – she’s rather susceptible to dancy balls, holds, and Greater Command – but her DPS surprised me, especially since she’s still mostly wearing the ML 15 PDk starter gear.

And… there may or may not be a change coming to my livestream beginning next week. Not gonna say too much, don’t want to jinx it – but it’s a good thing, and something that’s been a looooong time in coming. I am not going to count on anything until/unless it actually happens, and until/unless I feel confident that it’s not going to happen for, say, a week or two, and then have someone be all, “Uh, no, forget it” again, ’cause once was enough for THAT. So. We’ll see…

Streamin’ with Even is live every Sunday night at 11 pm Eastern time. Videos are archived on my YouTube channel. I’m usually on Thelanis, usually on Evennote, and usually have room, so feel free to send me a tell if you’d like to join! I’m also definitely open to suggestions on what to run next. You can send ingame mail to Evennote on Thelanis, or email me at evennote (at) gmail dot com. Thanks for reading and/or watching!  🙂

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Monk-y business

Watching @EvenNote’s stream from last night/this morning is making me want to play a monk again….” ~ grimorde

What a lovely compliment for Acanthia to get, especially since that was the first I’d seriously played her in quite a while!

With changes to other classes, the addition of warlock, etc., monks no longer stand out as the DPS machines they once were. I was shocked a few weeks ago when Acanthia decided to follow in Vic’s and Even’s footsteps by soloing Shroud – her DPS was not as good as Even’s, and Even, while having a few levels on Acanthia, is definitely not a DPS build.

But there’s no denying that, DPS or not, monks are just incredibly fun to play. Who cares how cool a sword looks when you can beat stuff up with your bare hands?

And there all all the fun monk-ish things you can do. Stunning Fist, Kukan-Do (basically a long-distance stun), Drifting Lotus for a bit of crowd control. Dismissing Strike to instantly vanquish tainted creatures such as undead and evil outsiders; Quivering Palm to send nearly anything into oblivion with a single hit. The “sekrit” Shining Star finishing move (Otto’s Irresistible Dance, monk-style).

Acanthia

And possibly my very favorite monk ability: Tomb of Jade, which lets you turn a tainted creature into a green statue (Smite Tainted Creature and Jade Strike also have a chance to do this).

So while it took a bit of time to get used to playing Acanthia again, ’twas definitely worth it! And of course, no matter which toon I’m playing, I always have a great time during our Flower Sniffers guild runs. Having several impromptu ones in addition to our regularly-scheduled Friday guild night made for a most excellent DDO weekend. Didn’t hurt that Acanthia hit level 27, either!

Even

Even’s taken a bit of a back seat while Acanthia and Char got some playing time to take advantage of this past weekend’s XP bonus. She still hasn’t gotten a chance to use her long-awaited Cursed Blade of Jack Jibbers, but she did get a bit of a makeover – I glamered an Elemental Victory for her (the gems, especially the green one, really bring out the highlights in her hair) and also made her a green dragonscale armor kit. The glamered Marilith Chain she’d been wearing matched her hair a bit better, but just wasn’t quite Even, design-wise. She likes the little skirt on the medium dragonscale armor, and the fact that it shows just a bit of cleavage – sometimes it’s nice to feel like a girl, especially when you’re a short, stocky Purple Dragon Knight.

The bit of questing Even did this past week didn’t go quite as well as her beauty treatments. She joined a PuG doing EE Deathwyrm and was assigned the role of tanking Aurgloroasa. The party leader was not a native English speaker; maybe that’s why some members of the party chose to ignore him. He was still assigning roles in the shrine room when several people decided to just go ahead in and get started.

There was a barbarian who apparently was miffed that Even got tanking duty instead of him, because he said, “Well, if I can steal aggro, and I probably will, then I’m tanking and she can do trash.” Heh. Nice try. He indeed tried to steal aggro from Even – with absolutely zero success. In fact, he kept nearly dying because even after his attempts to get aggro failed, he didn’t have the brains to get BEHIND the dragon where she wouldn’t be able to hit him as hard. We didn’t have a tank hjealer, so it was just Even and the barb on the dragon (until the party leader FINALLY convinced him to give it up, which took a while), and I wasn’t about to waste my resources hjealing him. Tossed out a few Lay on Hands, Cocoons, and scroll heals to other people who were actually helping the party, but definitely not worth giving them to the guy who was not contributing anything but attitude.

So finally, I was left alone with the dragon, as it should be. Shadows started coming up, people were going to the dark side… and NO ONE, apparently, could find the real phylactery. At this point I stopped hitting Aurgloroasa and just blocked and intim’ed, because once you get her down so far, if the phylactery still hasn’t been found, she just hjeals herself back up. (Which I’d forgotten about, and ended up inadvertantly taking her down a couple of times.)

Some party members apparently didn’t realize this, or didn’t want to take their turns going to the shadow side, because people started randomly coming over and beating on the dragon. I told them to stop. The party leader told them to stop. Two or three other people who actually seemed to have a clue told them to stop. I think some of them just REALLY didn’t want to go over to the shadow side, because that gets pretty nasty on EE – we had something like 57 deaths.

Then the trash handlers got – I don’t know what they got, but it wasn’t the trash. Even had 28 kills when we first stepped into the main room. As she was tanking, you wouldn’t expect her to get more than MAYBE half a dozen more in incidental damage. But once the trash handlers stopped handling the trash, she kinda had to do something – she had no problem dealing with Aurgloroasa on her own, but when you add a couple of casters plus six or eight or so skellies to the mix, trying to keep one’s red bar up gets harrowing. By the end, Even had 63 kills, so 35 while she was tanking… yeah, the trash handlers could’ve been a bit more on the ball. LOL

So I was getting kind of annoyed, and the real phylactery was STILL unfound… and then people started having to leave because we’d been going so long. We’d been in there more than two hours and had zero to show for it. The one thing I’m kinda proud of is that, despite getting no outside hjealing whatsoever – and without having Eternal Defender go off AT ALL, in case any of the egolitists out there were wondering – the ONLY death Even had was at the very end, when I deliberately got her killed because everyone else had left and I was getting hit too much to be able to recall.

Char, who after two ranger lives is spending her third life as a druid, is now banking level 10 after running VoN flaggers and Red Fens with Vey and Seer. She’s not too sure what kind of druid she wants to be. I’d originally planned on making her a caster type, but it’s just SOOOOO much fun to run around as a winter wolf! Ranger is where her heart is at, though, so she might just end up becoming the first of my toons to get a fourth life. That’s quite a ways off, though!

Streamin’ with Even is live every Sunday night at midnight Eastern time. I’m usually on Thelanis, usually on Evennote, and usually have room, so feel free to send me a tell if you’d like to join! I’m also definitely open to suggestions on what to run next. You can send ingame mail to Evennote on Thelanis, or email me at evennote (at) gmail dot com. Thanks for reading and/or watching!  🙂

Just lion around

Even's nekkid Shroud dance

Life is slowly – r-e-a-l-l-y s-l-o-w-l-y – getting back to normal. Sort of. I think.

I don’t normally make New Year’s resolutions, because I’m probably only going to break them, and that’s probably going to happen before the end of January. But as each new year rolls around, I do tend to think about goals and such. While recording DDOCast’s “Leveling” episode back in December, host Patrick asked what I was hoping to accomplish in the coming year. I hadn’t really thought about it, so I just went with the first thing that popped into my head and said that I wanted to work on soloing raids with Even.

Well, after nursing a sick kitty back to health over New Year’s, I got to thinking about my goals for 2015, and it occurred to me that soloing more raids was kind of a dandy idea. And I wanted to solo more epic elite content as well.

A solo romp through Tower of Despair convinced me that this could be a very fun plan indeed. With the changes to paladins, Even’s DPS is quite respectable. She doesn’t have the damage output of, say, a raging barbarian or a sorceror – nor should she, as combined with self-healing and damage reduction, that would make pallys WAAAAY overpowered – but she’s quite capable of beating down a self-healing raid boss (I’m talkin’ to YOU, Nythirios) in a pleasingly short amount of time.

From what I’ve heard from friends who do a lot of soloing tougher content, I have kind of a different approach. Aside from ship buffs (which, granted, are pretty darn awesome, because thanks to having fantabulous people in our little guild, we have a Kraken with every available buff, AND I painted the whole thing green), Even uses Stalwart Pact, Holy Sword, and Death Ward pretty much all the time. She’ll use Divine Favor or Prayer, and sometimes Angelskin, for tough fights when I remember to cast them, and since I’ve somehow neglected to ever get her a True Seeing item, she carries TS scrolls. And that’s pretty much it.

She has pots or scrolls for things like curses and poison and negative levels, and I try to make sure she’s got a couple of mana pots if she has Consecration twisted. Almost nothing that can’t be bought from the House K guild vendors, and definitely nothing purchased from the DDO store – I want to PLAY my way to a completion, not BUY it. For the same reason, I probably take longer than my friends who solo similar content, because I stop and fight everything rather than invising or running through and letting mobs rubberband.

Even loves her thunder-forged gear.

So after ToD, I decided to start small, with a run of Vision of Destruction on normal. Well, that was pretty laughable – Even needed no healing AT ALL. I’m not sure she took any damage; if she did, the total was in single digits. She actually had more hit points when she was done than when she started thanks to temp HP from her stance. Elite VoD a few nights later went nearly as well; I decided to Cocoon her every time she dropped below 1,000 HP, and five Cocoons were all she needed. Actually the most impressive part was that I ACTUALLY FOUND VoD. TWICE. IN THE SAME WEEK.

EH Chrono was a blast. Shroud – not so much. She got maybe six or seven portals down when I got a message that a portal keeper had shown up. I ran around to every single stupid portal and couldn’t find him. Took another lap – still couldn’t find him. So of course everything went coterminous and Even got unceremoniously booted.

EH Against the Demon Queen was a walk in the park until the end fight, when I realized that you have to range the Marilith before she’ll come down. Even’s ranged DPS is… uh… possibly worse than old-style pally melee DPS, particularly since all she had was a non-epic Bow of the Silver Flame. On the first try, she ended up running out of arrows. So I made her a nice thunder-forged throwing axe, got a stack of TS scrolls (since the Marilith likes to cast displacement), and sallied forth again. That did the trick, and I pulled some decent scrolls and shards.

Now that she has that throwing axe, I need to take another stab at Fall of Truth. I really didn’t think she’d be able to handle that, but other than needing three tries to take down the first pair and two to take down the second, it went REALLY well… until it was time to shoot the crystal and all she had was that non-epic Silver Flame bow. Yeah. I don’t think an entire inventory of full quivers would be enough arrows for her to manage that solo. Hopefully the much higher DPS on the axe will make the difference.

I think I may try Fire on Thunder Peak next. I haven’t tried Tempest’s Spine because I know I’ll get lost; same reason I haven’t tried Caught in the Web, and – because of the path to get there – Temple of the Deathwyrm. Definitely not feeling ready for Mark of Death; don’t like Abbot enough to try that; don’t have a solo strategy I like for either one. Also haven’t been able to come up with any decent ideas for soloing Hound of Xoriat. I should give Reaver’s Fate a try, though.

LION!

EH in almost anything is pretty much a walk in the park for Even, so she’s been trying to solo a lot more EEs and also join more EE PuGs… or she WAS, until I found out that NEW COSMETIC PET AND IT’S A LION CUB! Yeah. Challenging oneself is noble and good, but it can’t compare to A NEW COSMETIC PET THAT’S A LION CUB! So I’ve been doing more remnant farming than EE running this week. She did combine the two with a solo run of EE Devil Assault the other night; only got ONE champion who dropped remnants, but he dropped 36 of ’em. He must’ve been pretty high-ranking – the most remnants she got from a single mob in EE Mask of Deception tonight was six, and in several farming runs of EH Vol, she’s never seen more than four drop from a single mob (nor has she seen the Mythic Emerald Gaze she so desperately wants).

BTW, that screenie is actually a mountain lion in the Storm Horns. I don’t have nearly enough remnants for the pet yet, nor have I seen anyone else running around with one so far.

Under the bridge

Eveningstar bridge

I’ve been told that I’m too obsessed with the way some overly elitist people treat other players who they feel don’t measure up to their high standards.

Not surprisingly, the few people who’ve said that to me are some of the most overly elitist players I’ve ever come across. Yes, equality for all in DDO is a soapbox I’m happy to jump on. I’ve seen a number of my friends leave the game over the treatment they received from people whose egos far outstrip their intelligence.

For what it’s worth, ask anyone who knows me well and they’ll tell you I’m just as obsessed outside of DDO; I’m very committed to equality and safety for ALL. Race, religion, gender, orientation, nationality – bullies use all kinds of excuses to try to make other people feel bad about themselves. So if you think I’m overly obsessed, I think you’re the one with the problem.

Reading this post really opened my eyes to just how bad some Internet trolls are. In case you don’t want to read the whole thing (it’s a bit lengthy), the tl;dr version is that a woman discovers her husband has been bullying people online. When she confronts him, he admits it and refuses to stop, even when she tells him she’s leaving him. This guy chose to lose his wife – who happens to be pregnant with his child, btw – rather than stop bullying.

I’ve experienced bullying at many levels. I choose to say, “I’ve experienced bullying” rather than, “I’m a victim of bullying” because bullying is a reflection on the bully, not on his or her subject. I’m not defined by what any bully says or does to me. I’ve been bullied at one time or another by family members, schoolmates, co-workers, and yes, DDO players.

I’ve often heard that the Internet is a hospitable atmosphere for bullying because of the anonymity. Some people feel invulnerable when they have a computer screen to hide behind. But unlike some, I believe the Internet only facilitates bullying rather than causing it. Someone who bullies people, whether online or off, lacks basic human decency. Some people are just much better at hiding it in public, I guess; I’ve certainly never wanted to deliberately make someone else feel bad about him- or herself just because the Internet would make it easier for me to “get away” with it. Intentionally inflicting distress on another person is wrong. Period.

That’s no consolation to people who are being bullied. It’s hard to know the right thing to do. People who aren’t involved find it easy to say, “Oh, just ignore it.” In my experience, that really doesn’t help. Like, AT ALL. Most of the bullies I’ve seen in action are attention whores. The more you ignore them, the angrier they get. It’s as if they feel, “How DARE your world not revolve around me! I’ll show YOU!”

But even though ignoring a bully doesn’t help and may actually make the situation worse, it’s often still the best option. Trying to stand up to a bully on one’s own is largely futile; trying to reason with one, even more so. Bullies are very good at twisting your words around, completely ignoring the parts that make them look bad and taking the rest out of context. They’re also very good at lying about their behavior and denying what they’ve said, even to the point of deleting or heavily editing their posts.

In fact, bullies who are confronted about their behavior often paint THEMSELVES as the victims. “I didn’t mean anything by it! You’re too sensitive! Why are you picking on me?” It’s hard to call them on their bullying, because they have a million and one excuses designed to gain sympathy for themselves and make YOU look like the bad guy. Yes, they really do think that they should be allowed to say anything to anyone, no matter how hurtful, and that the only time there’s “bullying” is when someone tells them their behavior isn’t acceptable.

This kind of thing happens all too often in DDO. Players are ridiculed for having the “wrong” build or gear. They’re jumped on for honest mistakes.

Friday night, I led a Tower of Despair learning run. One of the guys who joined typed in party chat that he didn’t have sound so he couldn’t hear spoken instructions (which incidentally is something I’ve also seen players bullied over and even kicked from parties, because people are too lazy/conceited/whatever to take a few extra seconds and type stuff out if needed).

The LFM clearly stated that this was a relaxed pace learning run with my usual “gimps/first-timers welcome” clause, so I told the group, both over voice and in text chat, that I’d be taking a little extra time at the start of each phase to type out instructions. At this point, I got a tell from the guildmate of the guy with no sound. Turns out he’s deaf and had never run a ToD before, in no small part because no raid leader would ever take the time to type.

Well, we got him through it just fine, and he did very well. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling I had when he opened the end chest and pulled his first-ever Shavarath trophies. Seriously. Best ToD EVER (which was also because Slvr was tanking shadows for the first time ever, AND doing it on his “gimpy” – his words, not mine – hagglebard, and he rocked it! And because Bonnie ran with us!).

I have friends who take grief because they don’t use mics, although they do have sound. I can only imagine the abuse this poor guy has had to deal with. But now, I have some new people on my friends list, and there’s one more player on Thelanis who now knows how to do ToD.

If you’re wondering what you can do to support people who are bullied, my suggestion is pretty much what we did Friday night. No, you don’t necessarily have to host ToD, but BE THERE for people who are bullied. Make an effort to include them and make them feel welcome without patronizing them.

Publicly befriending a bullied person, IMHO, does far more to stop bullying than trying to deal with the bully. It also takes the focus off the person being bullied without putting it directly on yourself, AND lets the bullied person know he or she is not alone.

If you’d like to learn more about how this works and why, I suggest taking a look at an excellent article about Feminista Jones’ #YouOKSis campaign. While Jones specifically aims to stop street harassment of black women, the principle behind her idea works for any kind of bullying behavior.

Because of the nature of bullies, I’m aware that I’m likely to get a lot of hate for this post. Bring it on. And no, that doesn’t mean I’m bullying the bullies, although I’m sure some of them will try to paint it that way. The difference is that what I’ve said is not intended to shame, humiliate, embarrass, or otherwise upset anyone, nor is it intended to put anyone down. I could sit here and tell people about bullies, but that’s just my opinion. To really see a bully for what he or she is, you have to see him or her in action. So if you’re hatin’, let it fly. Show us your true colors.

And since I haven’t done one in a while, I decided to throw in a filk. “Under the Bridge” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers works well here. After all, trolls live under bridges. But it’s also appropriate because RHCP vocalist Anthony Kiedis wrote it to express the pain he felt at being ostracized by his bandmates after he got himself off of drugs. His struggle to still be part of the group while staying “clean” parallels the difficulty many of us have in being part of guilds or parties made up of people who troll or bully others.

Under the Bridge
(With apologies to Anthony Kiedis and Red Hot Chili Peppers)

Sometimes I feel
Like I can’t find a party
Sometimes I feel
I can’t get a chance
To join in the fun and
Be part of the action
Lonely I wander
With just an owlbear

I solo some sagas
‘Cause the groups are elitist
I work on my hit points
And beef up my gear
Still some parties shun me
They tell me I’m too gimped
I say it’s no big deal
But that is a lie

Why you wanna make me feel
Like I’m useless now?
Just because I’m not like you
Why’d you put me down?
Why you wanna make me feel
Like I’m useless now?
Just because I’m not like you
Why’d you put me down?
Yeah, yeah, yeah

It’s hard to believe
That some players are so cruel
It’s hard to believe
How they hate all the rest
At least I have honor
Kindness and compassion
Lonely is nothing
Compared to hatred

Why you wanna make me feel
Like I’m useless now?
Just because I’m not like you
Why’d you put me down?
Why you wanna make me feel
Like I’m useless now?
Just because I’m not like you
Why’d you put me down?

Oh no, no no, yeah, yeah
Grow up, I say, yeah, yeah
For once

Under the bridge the trolls
Laugh and sneer and smirk
Under the bridge the trolls
Flame and act like jerks
Under the bridge the trolls
Show their nasty sides
Under the bridge the trolls
Make up all their lies

Yeah, yeah, yeah
Oh no, no, no
Yeah, yeah

Stop the hate

Fun for ALL IV: Stop. Think. Win.

Seregeth

I’m a firm believer in the idea that a reasonably intelligent player on a gimped toon beats an idiot on an ubertwink 99.99% of the time.

Sere, my Shadar-Kai assassin rogue, definitely fits the “gimped” category. I really need to do some shopping and/or farming for her; at level 22, she’s still wearing mostly the stuff she came with. What few things she has that I’ve gotten her are still nothing to write home about – for example, I put her in a Parasitic Breastplate about five levels ago and still haven’t gotten her anything better. And she needs a +2 Con shrine to reach the 400-hit point mark.

So the other night, when Vey asked me if I had anyone 20-24 to run EE Carnival, the last toon I was thinking of was Sere. I told Vey I’d bring Chalei, and he said, “We could really use a trapper.”

Well, Vic’s a dandy trapper, IMHO, but she’s lvl 27. So I said, jokingly, “Great, I’ll get Sere and you can carry her stone from trap to trap.”

And Vey was all, “Bring her.” Which made me all, “OMG NOOOO, she’s gonna diiiieeeee!” But Vey kept being all, “BRING HER. She’s not gonna die. You’ll be fine.”

Oh, and did I mention we were short-manning without a healer? This had disaster written all over it.

Except it didn’t. Sere died a total of twice in all four quests combined, once when Crateos one-shotted her (which also took out one of our other party members). I can’t remember what her other death was; think it might have been a caster in Partycrashers. She needed a GH to find the traps a few times (and oops, she probably wouldn’t have if I’d remembered to swap in her search/spot item) but had no trouble disarming them.

And no… she did NOT pike. In fact, in three of the four quests, she finished second in the kill count, and definitely had enough kills in each of them to show that she was contributing.

Sere’s ability to be productive in epic elite content was definitely not the result of her build or gear. Nor was it any great skill on my part. I didn’t do anything that required a genius IQ or uber playing ability. But, I didn’t do anything *stupid* either.

Seregeth

I know Sere’s HP is low. I know she probably won’t survive pulling aggro. So I kept her in sneak mode most of the time, let the rest attack first and grab aggro, and only then did I move in. Pretty simple, really – but my gimpy toons have more than once carried the soulstones of better-built, better-geared characters played by people who rushed into a fight without thinking about the best way for them to approach it.

It helped that by the time we got to Big Top, we had a paladin who tossed a few Lay On Hands Sere’s way, and someone – think it was the bard – threw her a Cocoon from time to time. And it really helped that the rest of the party were smart, experienced players who were very good at keeping a gimpy undergeared rogue alive.

Sere was still about 20K short of level 22 when we finished the chain. A quick two-man EN Snitch with Vey almost did the trick – she was still 137 XP shy. Vey DDoored back to the start while Sere was still trying to figure out what she could trash to make inventory space for her shiny epic loot, and did one of the optionals to get her to 22.

I think a green steel HP item would be a good first step in un-gimping Sere. She flagged for Shroud a while back but hadn’t run it yet. Seemed like every time I put up an LFM, we filled without a healer so I ended up switching to Jall. (My groups are always gimp/first-timer friendly, so running without hjealz is not a great idea.) Last night she finally got her chance, and again managed to get a decent number of kills without dying herself (well, y’know, except for that one part after Phase 4). People were great about passing her shards of power, and she ended up with one regular, one great and one supreme. Looks like I’ll be doing some GS crafting tomorrow!

Earlier last night, Chalei ran her first ToD and had a great time once she managed to get and stay online. In the first run, we’d just dropped down to the doggie doors when I got a blue screen of death. Once I got the computer back up and running, it took me several tries before I could get all the way on DDO without crashing, and it was a nice surprise to find that someone had grabbed Chalei’s soulstone from the penalty box and carried it along so I wouldn’t be stuck there when I got back. The party was in Phase 2 by the time I got back on, and I crashed again about 10 seconds after I got rezzed, so I was kinda glad to get back on yet again and find out that there’d been a mishap with the shadows and they wiped, because that meant another chance for Chalei.

Second run went much smoother, except that Chalei was kinda forced to pike against Nyth. Any time she hit him with anything, he immediately aggroed *hard* on her. So she ended up having to stand off to one side blocking; I had some cure scrolls at the ready figuring that maybe she could at least be useful that way, but our two hjealers did a great job keeping everyone’s red bars up.

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

Jalliria

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

Even’s Guide to PuGging, Part IV: Lone rangers

Victaurya

To say that ranged toons don’t get a lot of love either ingame or on the forums would be like saying that Honey Boo Boo is an annoying no-talent brat – in other words, a gross understatement.

I didn’t know about the ranger hatred when I bought Vic her first repeating crossbow, or when I rolled up Char, my ranger AA. In Vic’s case, going ranged was a matter of, “Well, she’s squishy, but hey! I get repeater proficiency free so she doesn’t have to melee!”

(Side note: When I say “ranger,” I’m referring not just to the ranger class, but to any toon that relies heavily on ranged weapons.)

Char, on the other hand, exists solely because I know some AWESOME rangers, and after running with Slvr, Baz, Day, El (where the heck did you disappear to, anyway?) and a few others, I wanted to try some of that ranged goodness for myself.

Then I started seeing the ranger hate on the forums, and noticing that a fair number of LFMs that are open to every other class specifically exclude rangers. This baffled me. What’s not to like? Depending on the build, rangers can help buff and heal, dish up GREAT DPS, and even do some crowd control. The ranger class gets Manyshot, which has no downside unless you count its two-minute cooldown (and c’mon, that’s really not much).

So I was puzzled. Once I saw an LFM up for any class but ranger and sent the leader a tell to ask why; he replied with something like, “Because too many of them are idiots.” For Char’s sake, I was offended.

And then came the day I ran with a ranger who WASN’T all that awesome. WF AA with a rogue splash, respectable if not impressive hit points as I recall, nothing at first glance to suggest he would be anything less than an asset to the group.

But that’s why you should always take a SECOND glance.

I was on Dissy doing Vale S/R/E on the Shavarath side. While five of us were fighting the stuff that was right there in front of us, this guy apparently had the mindset that if he could target it, then he should shoot at it. No matter how far away it was. No matter how many mobs we were already fighting. In a lot of places, this might not have been such a big deal because the faraway mobs would probably have rubber-banded back to their original locations before getting close enough to do any damage.

But the Shav side of Vale is rife with orthons and horned devils. You know what they do when you hit them? They teleport to you. And this moron just kept targetting everything he could see and shooting it – we kept getting dungeon alerts because he’d hit an Orthon and then, instead of finishing it off, he’d target another one and get THAT one dropping in on us.

Of course, since the WF was the one who shot all this stuff, he was the one it all aggroed on… which he then complained about.

Chartreusia

Poor Dissy – when she wasn’t throwing out heals or playing Spellsong Vigor in an attempt to help our poor overworked cleric – kept trying to put up disco balls, but it wasn’t easy because she kept getting knocked down (damn bezekiras).

Meanwhile our WF AA just kept bringing us more mobs to fight. It became apparent REAL fast that, when his Manyshot was on cooldown, his ranged damage was pretty minor. The party leader asked him (rather tactfully) to switch to melee in between Manyshots. I’m not sure if that was to get a little more DPS or to keep him from aggroing yet more mobs on us or a combination of both. The guy replied that he never melees, but after a bit of discussion, grudgingly agreed.

VERY grudgingly. His idea of “melee” was to run off from the group, smack a few trogs or trolls with a club that looked suspiciously like Muckbane, and run back to us, hit points dropping and fresh mobs in tow. He might as well have been screaming, “SAVE ME!” because that’s clearly what he expected us to do.

Luckily, most ranged toons I’ve grouped with haven’t been nearly this idiotic. In fact, for the most part they’re not idiotic at all. But sadly, the ones that stick in your mind are the ones like that WF.

After that group, I did a lot of thinking about the way I play Vic and Char. If someone groups with one of MY ranged toons, I want to make sure I represent the genre as best I can. So I made some guidelines for myself.

  • Just because it’s in range doesn’t mean you should shoot it. (This may be the most important rule of all.)

  • If you can’t handle its aggro, don’t shoot it and then expect the party to save your ass. Let the tank types get its aggro. THEN shoot it (plus, this lets you get sneak attack damage).

  • Don’t be afraid to melee if you can handle it, especially when Manyshot is on cooldown. A well-built ranger, even an AA, is a potent melee threat.

  • If you’ve already got stuff to fight, or if people are shrining/looting/afk/etc., don’t bring more stuff to the group.

  • Be ESPECIALLY careful ranging casters that aren’t already aggroed on the party, since once you wake them up, they can do a lot of damage with ray spells even if they’re a distance from the group.

Seems simple, doesn’t it? Apparently it’s not, though. Maybe that’s just my perspective. I look at ranged damage as another form of DPS to fight the mobs currently facing the party. It’s great for taking out mobs on ledges or other hard-to-reach places, like the Drow near the shrine in VoN 3. Unless it’s a truly exceptional build, ranged toons should NOT be trying to grab aggro and tank.

I guess it holds true for any class, really – play smart and be a team player. But it seems like ranged toons might need a reminder sometimes.

Even’s Guide to PUGging, Part III: There’s no “I” in “team”

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Bear with me for a few minutes while I digress from all things DDO to talk about an unrelated but relevant topic: wrestling.

No, not those pay-per-view guys who break chairs over their opponents’ heads. REAL wrestling. I spent quite a few years as a newspaper writer and editor working primarily in sports. For about five of those years, I covered the high school wrestling beat, and I knew my stuff – there’s a first-place Keystone Press Award hanging on my wall for my coverage of the 2006 Pennsylvania high school wrestling championships. Many people would probably consider wrestling to be much more of an individual sport rather than a team endeavor, but it’s really not. A wrestler who wins his match nets between 3 and 6 points for his TEAM as well as his personal victory. The team with the most points after all matches have been wrestled is the winner.

So you might think the kid who gets a lot of pins (aka “wins by fall”) is the biggest asset on the team, as a pin is worth 6 team points. The thing is, in a lot of cases, getting a pin involves taking some risks that could easily end up in having the tables turned and the OTHER guy winning the match.

Ask most wrestling coaches (having talked to hundreds if not thousands of them, I feel very confident in saying this),  and they’ll tell you that while the “superstars” who can rack up 30 pins in a season are great, the ones they really want are the kids who are willing to take one for the team. Sometimes in a close match, a coach sends a kid out onto the mat with instructions only to not get pinned, even if that means losing the match. If a team is up by, say, six points going into the last match, the only thing that matters is that the last kid to wrestle doesn’t let himself get pinned, because even if he loses the individual match by technical fall, the TEAM still gets the victory. Unfortunately for the guy in this situation, this usually means not taking ANY risks. He may well be capable of beating the wrestler he’s up against, but his job is to NOT wrestle his best individual match. It’s to get the win for his TEAM. I’ve interviewed and written about countless kids who deliberately did NOT wrestle their best match so that their team would be assured of a win – and they were happy to do so.

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You’re probably wondering what this all has to do with DDO. It’s pretty simple, really – when you join a PUG, or any other group, your responsibility is to the TEAM. Sure, maybe you can zerg solo through all the Vale quests killing everything in sight. That may – MAY – mean you’re a good INDIVIDUAL player (or it might mean you’re lucky and have great gear). It does NOT mean you’re a great TEAM player. In fact, it may mean just the opposite.

Take this cleric that Baz and I have grouped with a few times. First time was a Tor run. He zerged, didn’t listen to anything anyone said, voice or text, threw out blade barriers like crazy even when there were only one or two mobs, didn’t throw a cure or heal as far as I could tell through the whole quest. We get through it anyway and head for the optionals in hope of scales, and – though this guy was NOT the party leader – he started ordering everybody around. “I’ll solo the dragon, the rest of you take the giant,” etc. Lots more blade barriers and implosions, still no heals, he was yelling at us that we weren’t killing the giant fast enough and so on. We wiped… and then he moaned because he used two mana pots. Hey, nobody told him to blow all that mana on unnecessary blade barriers – he wasn’t getting any sympathy (or pots) from me. We ran into him maybe a month or two later in a Xorian Cipher favor run – same thing. Zerging, BBs, little or no heals, didn’t listen to anyone. And the next night, Baz and I found ourselves in ANOTHER group with him, and STILL the same deal.

So recently Baz and Mara and some Montys were thinking late-night Shroud. There was already a Shroud LFM up, with this guy leading. We chose to put up our own LFM instead of joining his. Ours quickly filled except for the last spot, and we needed a healer. The guy still didn’t have anyone joining his, so he requested to join ours. Baz, with a lot more tact than I probably would have been able to muster, declined and sent him a tell that went something like, “Sorry, I wish you the best but I’ve run with you several times and you zerg, waste mana and don’t listen.” The guy’s response: “I can solo almost every quest in this game, even a lot of the epics.”

WRONG ANSWER, dude. If I want someone on my TEAM, I don’t give a flying fig what they can solo. I want to know that they’re going to help the TEAM get the completion. Being able to solo a quest doesn’t mean you can complete it with a group. Aside from difficulty scaling, the whole dynamic of a quest changes based on the party makeup. If you head into elite Jungles of Khyber with two melees, a rogue, one healer and an archer, your strategy is going to be a lot different than if you have three melees, a rogue and two healers. When you’re in a party, you don’t just need to worry about keeping YOURSELF alive. You need to worry about keeping the PARTY alive. Just like the wrestler who’s told that his only objective is not to get pinned, sometimes it’s good to be the one who takes the fall so that the party can go on. If I’m leading a group that has six deaths in Phase 4 of Shroud, I’m going to want people who CAN’T rez others to die before the ones who CAN rez.

Too many PUGgers I’ve encountered seem to think that groups exist only to give them an audience to show off for. Instead of listening and contributing to party chat, they use it to show off their gear, brag about their kill count, talk about stuff they can solo… or they ignore party chat altogether and just run off and do their own thing.

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I’ve been planning this post for a while and just hadn’t been inspired to finish it, but last night I found myself in a PUG with the absolute worst example of a team player I have EVER encountered, and that’s saying something. Chartreusia had been in a group that ran elite Tear and had a great time, so she and the other two party members who weren’t signing off decided to do an elite Pit run afterwards and put up an LFM to fill the three remaining spots. We got Sap, a third-life lvl 7 barb who joined and immediately went into the quest even though we still had two spots to fill and the rest of us weren’t even in House D yet. We tried to tell him that the rest of us might suffer an XP penalty for arriving late and got no response for several minutes, but eventually (and reluctantly) he recalled and we reformed the group so that we could all enter together. Mini, a sorc and the party leader, was one of those rare people who can have the star and still be comfortable allowing someone else to share control. He hadn’t run Pit in ages and asked everyone to follow Char and listen to her instructions. For Flop, our healer, and Yan, our amazing monk, this was no problem. Sap was another story, and we had a fighter/ranger/sorc who was sticking with Sap.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that Sap zerged through much of the quest and made things hard on Flop as far as healing went. I went through three Cure Serious wands on Char trying to help out. Mini was using wands as well. Among the three of us, we managed to keep Yan healed/rezzed through the main breaker room, as he was the only one with evasion and had a great attitude about taking a ton of damage from the electrical traps in there. Everybody died a few times; Char got critted by the force traps for 144 points (since she only had 102, that did her in), but made up for it by collecting Sap’s stone from high above Furnace Room 2 after he decided he could run through the acid traps.

We made it to the final fight with five of us left; our fighter/ranger/sorc DCed in Furnace Room 3 and didn’t make it back. Neither Flop nor Mini was very familiar with the quest, so I explained in some detail about how to trigger just a few mobs at a time so we didn’t have to fight the whole room at once. Sap immediately ran down and triggered EVERY FREAKING MOB IN THE ROOM. The ones on the stairs, the ones on the ledges, the ones by the levers, the ones at the end valve. It was UGLY. We died… we died a LOT. But we somehow got them beat down. Sap was dead down in the main room; Flop died at the top while out of mana what with solo healing and having to do a LOT of rezzing, and he’d already used all three shrines, plus he had a hire to bring in to replace the guy who DCed. Instead of running his stone back to one of the shrines and then back to the entrance so he could call the hire, I suggested that he just recall, go to Anvilfire and get his mana back, and then we’d finish off the last mobs and the Avatar. The party – well, the four of us who WEREN’T zergers – talked about it for about 2-3 minutes and were all in agreement. So Flop recalls while Mini, Yan and I wait at the top, and Sap’s stone sits in the end room.

But apparently Sap had a spirit cake, at least that’s all I can figure, because all of a sudden he was alive… and he ran right to the valve and turned it to end the quest.

With Flop still outside.

Yep. Flop went through three shrines and I don’t know how many pots keeping Sap’s sorry zerging ass alive, and what does Sap do? Completes the quest without Flop so Flop got NO XP, NO FAVOR. And Sap also looted both end chests before Flop was back in, so Flop got no loot either.

I don’t tend to show anger a lot. I hold things in and vent about them to friends later. But I unloaded on Sap. His response? “I wasn’t going to take the XP penalty for a re-entry.” Nearly TWENTY THOUSAND FREAKING XP and he’s worried about losing 10%? Flop got NO XP at ALL thanks to him.

There have been a few players who’ve tempted me to contact their guild leaders about their lack of sportsmanship, but I’ve never actually followed through. Last night I made an exception. I got this response from Sap’s guild leader:

hi char.

ty for the letter and for ur concern, its apriciated and noted.

however, i know sap in RL.. she usualy isnt like that and a decent player.

what’s more, i was around her when u were doing that certain dungeon crawl – i say crawl because to her it was as slow as a snail. now, i heard u giving out orders as to where to go (im pretty sure it was u, could be wrong) and it sounded like u’r more experienced as a tabletop DM, guiding the folks through the encounters.

now, that in itself isnt a problem, but she’s used to a faster pace…

add that to the fact that english isnt her strong side (u might’ve noticed the lack of her saying anything) as its not her mother language.

i apologize for her behavior and ill tell her to be more careful what groups she goes into next time.

a small tip as well; if u havnt specified it on the lfm, its recomended to say what kind of group ur running like ‘BYOH’ or ‘learning run’ or something… could help screen players u dont want to play with 🙂

So… *shrug* Make of that what you will, I guess, but I’m still not grouping with her.

Even’s Guide to PUGging, Part II: Acid Witless

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It would be nice to focus this series on all the GOOD things that can happen in pick-up groups (PUGs). Unfortunately, sometimes a PUG comes along that’s so COMPLETELY awful, you just have to share it.

Take Victaurya’s recent trip through Acid Wit on elite. I’d been on with Acanthia and a couple of Monty’s guildies (MK and LG, both on artificer toons) were looking for some lvl 15-17s to run with. I told them I didn’t have anyone QUITE in that range, but I’d be willing to bring my squishy lvl 14 rogue if they wanted a warm body. They were fine with that and so I logged Vic on.

I was kinda worried that Vic would be a liability, what with being three levels under the quest, squishy and mediocre DPS, plus there are no disarmable traps in AW so there might not be much for her to do. Little did I know when the LFM went up, we somehow managed to get not one, not two, but THREE people who all made hirelings look like geniuses.

The first person who hit the LFM, a lvl 16 sorc, made me cringe just a bit. The only contact I’d ever had with him was when I was standing at the AH one night and he sent me a blind tell asking to “borrow” 500,000 plat. Yeah, THAT’S gonna happen. So I cringed a bit when I saw the name but hoped he played better than he begged. Then we got a ranger. With no healers showing up right away, we decided to leave the LFM up and start the quest with a hireling.

The sorc pretty much ran ahead of us right from the start and burned through ALL of his mana long before we had the first quadrant cleared. Luckily – or so we thought – about that time a FvS sent MK a tell asking if we needed heals, so we dropped the hire and added him. In hindsight, we shoulda kept the hire.

Meanwhile the sorc – when he wasn’t typing in baby talk – kept typing “heal her.” It took us a while to figure out that he was referring to his female character in the third person, because we were all scratching our heads going, “Heal WHO?” But then he started dying. I mean, a LOT. Like, EVERY FREAKING BATTLE. We weren’t even halfway through and the FvS was also out of mana from having to rez the sorc so many times (I stopped counting around his 17th death) and from occasionally stacking about six blade barriers on top of each other. I’m not sure why he asked MK if we needed a healer, because he was doing almost no healing – that fell to LG and I, who both had wands and pots.

Just to make one thing clear – I am not one of these people who’s always bragging about how they always carry their crappy party mates to victory single-handed. If I ever start posting stuff about how all the people I group with are idiots and I’m always the last one standing and I have to go in and rez all 11 of them and kill Harry all by myself and all that crap, SMACK ME HARD. If those people were really half as great as they claim to be, they’d be able to find good players to group with instead of the “idiots” they always claim to get stuck with. But that’s a rant for another time. My point is, Vic is gimped and squishy and I am not in any way implying that she’s a great toon or that I’m a great player.

That said, it’s a damn sorry reflection on a party “healer” when the two people sharing party healing duties in a lvl 15 quest on elite are one of the artis and a gimped, squishy lvl 14 rogue with a couple of Cure Mod and Cure Serious wands. Artis can make fine backup healers. Trapmonkey rogues ARE NOT PARTY HEALERS, not even backups… unless the FvS in your group is worthless.

So we get to the room with all the acid jets and MK reminds everyone to be careful and time their jumps so they don’t take damage. The sorc pays no heed, goes tearing through and dies for about the 20th time, then sits there typing, “rez her,” “rez her,” “rez her.” This was how we finally figured out that he was talking about his toon in the third person…

MK: [sorc], do you mind if I ask why you refer to yourself in the third person?

[sorc]: cos i is [sorc]

[sorc]: das is why

By this time we’ve passed a shrine so the FvS still has enough mana left to rez the sorc. We head back through the acid jets. MK reminds everyone, again, about the whole don’t-run-through-because-you’ll-die thing. The sorc runs through and dies… big surprise. I think it was at this point that MK gave the sorc an ice guard outfit because the guy’s robes were all busted from dying so many times.

The FvS, while not as completely worthless as the sorc, reminded me very strongly of a FvS who was in a five-man Schemes of the Enemy PUG with Acanthia a while back. Same guild, same play style, same typing style. The Schemes guy was also a moron, wouldn’t listen to anything (“Don’t talk to the guards because we don’t want to fight them” – he talked to them and started the fight; “Don’t go down that corridor, there’s a fire trap” – he got burnt up; “Don’t attack the door or you’ll start a fight” – he attacked the door, etc.), died multiple times (rest of the party had no deaths), and when we got into the end fight, already down a man because our fighter DCed, he typed, “afk have to go eat dinner” and promptly got killed. Miraculously, he finished dinner about 30 seconds after we took the boss down and then started whining for a rez. I’d have left his sorry ass to hang, but the cleric – apparently forgetting there was a shrine right outside – actually popped a mana pot so he could rez the guy. But anyway. I was pretty sure that the FvS in Vic’s Acid Wit group was an alt of the guy who was in Acanthia’s Schemes PUG, so…

Me: Hey, [FvS], do you have an alt named [altname]?

Sorc: no

Me: No, not you, [sorc], I was talking to [FvS].

Sorc: so?

Sorc:

Miraculously we make it to the shrine before the final fight with a few zillion deaths attributed to the sorc, half a dozen or so to the FvS (we did a lot of carrying stones to shrines), one or two to MK and LG, and – at that point – none for me or the ranger, who up to that point had maybe zerged a bit but didn’t seem too bad. Then again, compared to the other two, Leeroy Jenkins would have been an asset. (At least he had chicken.) MK tells the group that we missed one passage near the beginning (probably when we were carrying stones to shrines), so we’re going to go back and get that before we go to the end fight. The newly-rezzed sorc and FvS immediately head toward the end fight room. There is much “NO STOP! COME BACK!” in both voice and text chat. The FvS reluctantly heads back to us… trailed by a fair number of trogs. The sorc keeps going, falls all the way to the bottom of the room and promptly suffers his 98,390,485th death (give or take a few).

MK: [sorc], can you hear Vic on voice? Did you hear her say not to go into that room yet?

Sorc: yes but i fell

Gosh, you just fell all the way to the bottom of the room you knew you weren’t supposed to go into? You couldn’t have fallen if you hadn’t gone running in there like an idiot in the first place! My apologies to idiots, don’t mean to insult them by lumping them in with this guy but the only other words I can think of aren’t very family-friendly.

So the sorc is dead at the bottom of the room we weren’t going to go into yet, and the rest of us have a bunch of trogs hitting us hard. By this time Vic is nearly out of pots and her last wand down to less than 10 charges, so I can’t keep her healed myself. Evasion keeps the shamans from doing much damage to her, but the melee trogs are hitting her HARD and it doesn’t take long before she dies. The FvS is once again out of mana (mostly from rezzing the sorc), so we ALL start dying. If we’d been anywhere but next to a shrine, this would have been a big-time wipe. Get killed, rez, gulp a pot or hit myself with a wand so I can take at least one or two hits before I die again, lather, rinse, repeat. The others – aside from our dead sorc, who was still sitting at the bottom of the big room going, “rez her,” “rez her,” “rez her” – were doing pretty much the same thing.

Thanks to the death penalties, Vic’s chance to use the last remaining charges on her last Cure Serious wand was only 10%. I fire off about four failed attempts at MK and then apologize to him, explaining that at the moment I only had a 10% chance to use the wand successfully. The (still dead at the bottom of the room) sorc goes, “ha i has a 28 umd.” I had to bite my tongue REALLY hard to keep from saying either, “Yeah, and I can see how much good it’s doing you,” or, “Well, I still have hit points left.”

It took a while and a fair number of deaths for everybody, but we got the wave of trogs that had followed the FvS up to the shrine beaten down and headed back to the corridor we missed to get the Acidstone elementals we needed to complete the optional. Once that was done, MK suggested that we should take turns releasing to go re-buff, repair and get more wands and pots. MK, LG, the sorc and the FvS went first; the ranger said he didn’t need to go, and we agreed that Vic would go last because she’d likely be quickest, having no blue bar to refill.

So there’s Vic at the shrine with the ranger, waiting on the other four to get back in… when the ranger goes running toward the end room.

Me: What are you doing?

Ranger: we can pull the boss up here to fight, we don’t have to fight him down there

Me: Yes, I know, but don’t pull him NOW, there’s only two of us here!

Ranger: *runs down anyway*

Me: *braces for the worst*

Ranger: *runs back*

High Theurge Trassilyk: *miraculously doesn’t follow*

Me: *exhales*

Ranger: *runs down again*

Me:

Ranger: *runs back*

High Theurge Trassilyk: *miraculously doesn’t follow again*

Me: *uses dragonmark to go invis and hides behind shrine in case he tries it again*

MK got back in and told me to take my turn with the release/repair/rebuff/buy healing stuff rotation, and off I go. I get the repairing and buying done and am on the ship buffing as fast as I can when MK starts frantically typing, “NO! Don’t kill him yet! Wait for the others!”

I’m fuming now. Three complete morons, we’re taking crap from a fourth-life lvl 16 sorc who has fewer hit points than first-life lvl 14 28-point build Vic, we’ve carried their asses through the whole quest and now they’re trying to get the completion while two of us aren’t back in the dungeon yet? This was probably the closest I’ve ever come to rage-quitting a party. That’s no reflection on MK or LG at all. THEY were awesome (and kept apologizing to me for dragging me into it, which was silly since I wanted to go).

Anyway, I set off for the Twelve as fast as I can, with LG right beside me. The whole time, MK is still in party text chat telling the other three to NOT kill the damn boss before LG and I get in. Just before we get to the entrance, the sorc dies. Again. LG and I make it in and run for the end room. The boss goes down just before we get there, with the sorc still in the form of a soul stone.

Still-dead sorc: i did it

… I guess the boss tripped over the sorc’s soul stone and hit his head.

Even’s Guide to PUGging, Part I

Reading a post about PUGs by Samiusbot made me think that it’s high time I got this PUG post idea out of my head and into my blog. Most of the time I love PUGs. I got to know many of the people on my friends list, including a few of my best DDO friends, through PUGs. Even joined Monty’s after running pickups with various guild members. PUGs can be awesome.

But they can also ruin a great evening, and all it takes is one person. Most of us really don’t want to be that person. So, in no particular order, here are a few of the things I think can make or break a PUG.

  • DO read – and heed – the LFM description.

If you like to zerg through and the LFM says, “Team players only, all optionals,” then DON’T hit that “Join” button unless you’re willing to put aside your urge to zerg WITHOUT complaining about it. The same’s true in reverse – if your style is a leisurely pace, stopping to break all the breakables, collect all the collectibles, etc., and the LFM says, “Fast run,” you’re probably not going to have much fun and might even be mistaken for a piker (more on those later).

If you’re the one posting the LFM, try to make it as descriptive as possible. It’s not always easy given the limited space, but you can always put something like, “Selective, PST” so that you get a chance to tell prospective members exactly what you’re looking for. You may get bombarded with tells for a few minutes, but keep in mind that if your LFM includes “PST,” anyone who tries to join without sending you a tell probably won’t pay attention to you once you’re inside the dungeon either.

  • DO communicate.

It’s your first time running the quest? You know a secret trick to help you beat the boss? Speak up! There’s no such thing as TMI when it comes to quest-relevant stuff. Sharing what you know, and just as importantly what you DON’T know, will help your group have a smooth run. Most people I’ve run PUGs with have been great at helping me when I tell them I don’t know the quest well. If I DO know a quest well, party members usually appreciate any tips I or anyone else might have. “Watch this corner, there’s a nasty sonic trap” is not something you want to keep to yourself.

Remember that communication works BOTH ways. If another party member says he or she has never run the quest before, be ready to help them through it. If the person next to you says, “Watch this corner, there’s a nasty sonic trap,” then for crying out loud don’t go charging into the corner. Make sure you’re LISTENING as well as talking.

  • DON’T be a moron with your mic.

Sooner or later, I think everyone ends up in a group with the guy who has no idea of the damage he’s doing to his party’s eardrums. Voice chat is a great way to keep party communication flowing… until you get the guy who doesn’t use a headset, has his mic right next to his speakers and keeps voice on full-time instead of using push-to-talk. Personally I wish everyone who used a mic would also use a headset because it’s incredibly frustrating to be talking and suddenly find yourself cut off by YOURSELF because someone pressed F while you were still going. That’s a personal preference thing, though. If you DON’T use a headset, try to keep your mic and your speakers as far apart as possible to cut down on feedback, and allow a second or two after someone finishes a sentence before you press F to chime in – remember that there’s almost always going to be SOME feedback without a headset.

And for the love of all that’s holy, if you’re not going to use a headset, never, never, NEVER have full-time voice going on. Aside from the fact that no one really wants to hear your TV in the background or every rumble your stomach makes, the feedback is quite literally PAINFUL.

  • DON’T brag, show off, or berate your partymates.

If you want to be the star of your own show, then go solo something. When you join a party, you become a team member, like it or not. I remember running Gwylan’s on Vic with a PUG that was 5/6 awesome and 1/6 ass. The LFM clearly asked for team players, but one guy took off running right from the start and ignored repeated requests from the leader to stick with the rest of us. Every time he was asked to slow down, he responded, “I can solo this in my sleep.” Good for you – so then GO SOLO IT! What do you need a party for? I guess he thought he was impressing us… well, he was, but not favorably.

Likewise, unless you’re in a party that’s actually interested in stuff like this, don’t brag about your standings in the kill count or how much damage you did to that Orthon. There’s a lot more to successfully completing a quest than just killing – healing, crowd control, disabling traps, grabbing aggro, buffs, etc. I’ve been on both the giving and receiving ends of a high kill count because one person got the mobs beat down before another came in and finished them off.

And unless someone in your group specifically asks for advice, DON’T give them a hard time over their build, their gear, or anything else, even if they inadvertently cause a party wipe. We all make mistakes. As long as someone is genuinely trying to do well, don’t unload on them or blame them. I’ve accidentally done things that have killed off parties before. It’s NEVER been intentional, and I have ALWAYS been upset about it. If someone screws up, don’t make them feel even worse.

Don’t be like the guy Acanthia recently ran Chains of Flame with. No one in our group knew the quest well, so I said I was going to pull up the Wiki page…

Moron: wiki is so gay

Me: I love Wiki, and none of us knows the way through the quest.

Party member: If you have a better idea, we’d love to hear it.

Moron: lol u bunch of [censored] froobs

Party: … froobs?

Moron: ya u losers haha [censored] [censored] [censored] froobs

Moron: have fun dieing u [censored] idiots im out

Moron: *recalls and drops party*

Party: YAY! … froobs?

Someone Googled “froobs;” apparently it means “free-to-play noob.” I wonder if that makes the moron an “elob” – elitist snob? Interestingly, one of our party members was a DDO Wiki SysOp.  😀

Anyway, I need to go kill stuff and this has gotten pretty long already, so I’ll save the rest for later.