A Tale of One Citi

Flower Sniffin' Shroud

 

Shroud is one of those quests that pretty much everybody in our little guild will run any time, any toon, for any reason or no reason at all. We don’t care about loot or XP or making greensteel. It’s Shroud. It’s fun.

So imagine our horror when we discovered that newest Flower Sniffer Citi had NEVER RUN SHROUD. NOT ONCE. NEVAR, to use his catchphrase!

Well, we couldn’t let that continue. So we got him flagged, and tonight he, Slvr, Keava, Rayne, and I trotted him out to Meridia. And boy, were we excited. Because while it’s really not about the loot, we had a genuine first-timer, and you know what that means – EXTRA CHEST.

We did have one semi-failed attempt first – there were just four of us because Rayne had to step out. I was on Super Gimpy Meren, the rogue who can’t decide if she wants to be an assassin or a mechanic and isn’t great at either one (and who somehow made it to level 25 without ever running a Shroud this life). Slvr was on his 18 barb, who had great DPS but no curse pots. Keava was probably the most “together” of us on his talented ranger, and Citi, despite his protests to the contrary, kept us in it long after we probably would have otherwise perished.

But trying to pull the rednames apart in Phase 2 was too much for the four of us. By that time Rayne was back, so we recalled and started anew.

And this time it went SOOOOO much better! I switched to Vic (way better DPS than Meren), Slvr switched to his warlock (ditto), and we quickly annihilated Phases 1-4.

But then… but then…

We did our damnedest to give Citi the best possible shot at netting us that extra chest. We explained it to him, step by step. We buffed him – oh, how we buffed him. Jump, of course. And Deathward, blur, resists, FoM… sadly, no one had Water Breathing as a spell. Slvr demonstrated proper jumping technique.

We waited with bated breath. Citi jumped…

… WTF. How the hell did we all end up dead in Harry’s big stone chamber?

Thanks a bunch, Citi. See if we ever run Shroud with YOU again.

In other words, you were a great sport! And we’ll probably run Shroud again for guild night Friday ’cause we’ll all be off timer by then.  LOL

Last but not least, once Harry was banished, the altar was clicked, and the chests were looted, we all stripped (well, Rayne was already running around nekkid anyway), jumped up on the Altar of Devastation, and had ourselves a Flower Sniffin’ nekkid Shroud dance party. WIN!

The unfolding drama…

 

Oh, Harry, what have you gone and gotten yourself into now?

When last we’d seen Harry, aka Arraetrikos, we’d beaten him almost to death in Phase 5 of Shroud. But we didn’t kill him – no, we just banished him back to Shavarath.

We get to find out what happened to him once we reach Shavarath ourselves and step into the Tower of Despair. Our Harry, it seems, has taken up with a succubus consort by the name of Lyrilith, and he’s told her… a few things he shouldn’t. Lyrilith, when not exhorting adventures to save her harder, went straight to First General Horoth with the info. And the General was not amused.

ToD is one of those raids I’ve run so many times I’ve lost count. It and Shroud are still among my favorite quests in the game. They’re quintessential DDO to me, and I love how the storyline carries over from one to the next.

Most of the ToDs I’ve ever run start with one or two people running in and killing the couple of mobs in the first part. Then one person goes down and pulls the lever while everyone else stands around buffing, chatting, dancing, or doing nothing.

Every once in a while, I like to be the one on lever duty so that I can watch “the unfolding drama” as Horoth shrinks Harry down to itty-bitty baby size and turns him over to the Judge and Jailer. It’s a few minutes of questing time with nothing to do, to be sure. But it’s entertaining and immersive.

From there, you rescue a kindasortabutnotreally grateful Harry from the clutches of the Judge and Jailer, defeat Nythirios and his shadowy minions, and finally face Horoth, who calls upon our old buddy Suulomades when his hit points start dwindling.

Before he summons Sully, Horoth has probably my favorite typos in the game: “Soliders of Shavarth.” What is a “solider?” What is it solider than? Is it the solidest? If not, what is solider than a solider? And what happened to the other “a” in “Shavarath,” or is “Shavarth” a plane that’s solider than “Shavarath?”

I’m not a typo snob, but editing is what I do for a living. So I notice this stuff. And while there are a number of typos I REALLY wish would get fixed (why do the Milders live in Midler Farmhouse? Why is it “AN planar shard?”), I’ve come to enjoy Horoth’s call for support, in all its typoed glory.

Anyway. Slvr and I duo’d ToD last night, just for the heck of it. We took an incredibly long time, mostly because after the Judge and Jailer, we had to rely mostly on Even’s DPS alone – Slvr didn’t have cold absorb for Nyth, and realized once we were well into the quest that he also had never made Boots of Anchoring for his druid. And Even’s DPS is acceptable at best. She went through a couple of pots so that she could keep spamming Consecration and Energy Burst for more damage, but hey, it was ToD, so it was totally worth it.

Think Pink!

 

Meant to get this posted sooner, but due to technical difficulties… Anyway!

I’ve been lucky enough to get to run not one, but TWO Shrouds with Geoff, Judye, Tholgrin, Bonnie Bew, the good (if short) folks of Halfling Commandos and Torchwood, and – most importantly – Raid Princess PINK!

I rolled up a brand-new (and brand-newly-gimped) bladeforged pally named Foiled Again for the event. She killed a few things. Very few. I’m blaming her starter gear. Uh-huh, yeah, that’s it. I wasn’t the only one in the party with a sword inadequacy… but that’s a story for another time.

We went in on normal (because lag) for our inaugural attempt, and it went amazingly well. Disappointingly few shards dropped, but looked like Pink picked up a fair few ingredients, at least. I presented her with a bouquet of  flowers to celebrate her first-ever Shroud, and Bonnie gifted her with her very own fiendling companion!

In fact, the first attempt went so VERY well that when we went in again a week or two later, we decided to try it on hard. That… didn’t go as well, LOL. We weren’t doing badly until Phase 4 and THE BLADES. OH, THOSE BLADES. At last Bonnie was the only one left alive, and rather than spend time and resources trying to push through, we opted to start over on normal. More ings and a few shards for Pink, and  more fun!

I didn’t stream our first Shroud, but Bonnie did, and you can watch it here!

Pink did AMAZINGLY well – far better, for sure, than I did in my first Shroud or two or 10. Thank you guys SO MUCH for including me!  🙂

Boldly going…

 

… where no Flower Sniffin’ paladin has gone before.

Even is my go-to toon for – well, pretty much everything. Out of all my toons, she’s the one I get for the tough stuff. She’s the one with 60-ish EE solos and a fair number of solo raids under her belt. I’m not trying to brag; Even happened by accident – I didn’t plan her build  at all, just made it up as I went along, and it ended up working out nicely. I have 18 other Thelanis toons who can’t come close to doing what Even does.

But the one thing Even hasn’t yet been able to do is solo the Shroud. She’s only gotten past Phase 1 once. Darn portal keepers – for some reason, she NEVER seems to be able to find them. Killing them isn’t a big deal, since they go down in one hit. FINDING them – that’s a whole ‘nuther story. So Vale ends up going coterminous and Even gets booted. The one time she DID make it all the way through to Phase 2, she couldn’t beat the fire ele back to the crystal, and I finally got tired of having to prep and kill everything all over again and gave up.

Vic is no Even. She’s a little first-life squishy mechanic rogue with one epic past life. I had never even thought of trying to solo a raid with her. But the other night, she was in a shortmanned heroic Shroud (’cause she was bored and someone was farming shards), and I noticed that when she was on a portal by herself, she was taking it down WAY faster than Even ever did.

“Hmmm,” I said to myself, “I wonder if she could solo Phase 1 at least, because she probably wouldn’t get nearly as many portal keepers as Even does.”

And so, once she was off timer, I gave it a try. Phase 1 went beautifully. Phase 2 went far better than I’d ever expect it to go. But in Phase 3, I made the mistake of trying to solve all the puzzles, and ended up running around a corner straight into the Prismatic Wall of Death.

So tonight I gave it another whirl. Easy cruise through Phase 1, bit more trouble in Phase 2 – think it took me about half a dozen tries to get all four rednames down at once AND beat them back to the crystal. Changed strategy in Phase 3 – didn’t even try to solve puzzles, just shot all the crystals and then ran water to the rooms in the north. And then I sat in the middle and waited… and waited… and waited for the wall to come up, because I didn’t want to risk it dropping on her head.

Once the last fountain had water, I pretty much knew that, barring something REALLY weird happening, she was going to get the completion. She had to kill three or four rounds of gnolls in Phase 4, and the rednames weren’t overly cooperative about separating at the start of Phase 5, but finally it was just Vic and Harry.

And then it was just Vic.

I got the last bit of the end fight on video. Muted the audio, not sure what’s going on there – the game sounds didn’t come through, but there were some loud clanky noises that sounded like bad plumbing.

There are plenty of people who can solo Shroud faster, on a higher difficulty, or both. But it’s not something I ever thought Vic would be able to do at all. So yeah. It feels pretty good!

A different kind of permadeath

Rez shrine

Raid bosses seem to have it all – high DR, massive amounts of hit points, devastating attacks, teeming minions to beat on you while you’re trying to beat on the big guy (or girl).

But I’m not so sure they rank overly high in intelligence or wisdom.

There are two things you see at the end of many raids:

  • 1. A dead raid boss
  • 2. A rez shrine

The rez shrine’s there for unlucky adventurers who are in soulstone form at the raid’s completion, right? But what about the OTHER death at the end of every successful raid? Why doesn’t the boss just click the shrine and bring him- or herself back to life?

Take First General Horoth, for example, the big nasty guy who shrinks Harry and later attempts to kill or banish you in Tower of Despair. Horoth’s a pretty powerful dude. You’d think that someone who attained the rank of First General would have some smarts. Alas for Horoth, but happily for adventurers, he does not know enough to click the rez shrine after he’s been defeated.

And even if Horoth couldn’t figure this out for himself, wouldn’t someone on his staff kinda poke his carcass and say, “Um, hey, boss, I know this is a bad time, but see that thing over there with the sun symbol carved on it? You’re still in this, big guy!”

Sure, Polperios probably wouldn’t be inclined to help him – after all, when your intrepid band of adventurers shows up in Horoth’s portal room and the First General turns to his high council for help, Polp responds, “This is your mess, General. You clean it up.”

But what about all those Orthons that come to his aid? All the “Soliders of Shavarth?” (Those aren’t my typos; that’s actually what appears in the text of the raid – I don’t know what the Soliders are Solider than, or who’s the Solidest, or who ate the last “a” in “Shavarath,” but that’s a subject for a whole ‘nuther blog.) And what about the other three high council members? Did they all just go afk to bio? Did they all invoke Audience with the Queen? Are they all off saving Lyrilith harder next time? (Because she does so very much want to be saved…)

Arraetrikos, aka Harry, has an excuse at the end of Shroud, of course – he’s not actually dead, just banished back to Shavarath (with or without Soliders). And I’m not sure what effect, if any, a rez shrine would have on true undead beings such as the Black Abbot or the Truthful One; I know I can use one to bring Zak, my pale master, back to life, but Zak’s actually a Drow in undead form, not truly undead, and rezzes as a living, breathing fleshie.

But how about the Stormreaver in Fall of Truth? Xy’zzy in Hound of Xoriat? Horoth in ToD?

The only logical explanation I have for why this DOESN’T happen is that raid bosses are all members of an extreme permadeath group. But what if that changed?

Imagine the scene: your party’s just triumphed – or so you thought. You’re slapping each other on the back, comparing kill counts, eagerly opening the chests… and suddenly there’s a noise behind you, a noise that you DO NOT want to hear. Slowly you turn…

Yeah, this is one scenario where I *really* like permadeath.

Growing up Flower Sniffer

Flower Sniffers of Destiny

It’s probably been about three years now since, tired of the drama and stress from being successor and roster keeper in a huge guild, I accepted Slvr’s offer to put my semi-sekrit toon Zak in his then-one-person guild.

A few months after that, the rest of my toons followed. It was a great fit; Slvr and I have similar playtimes, similar playstyles, and similar taste in airship colors. I doubt either of us ever expected there’d be more than just us hanging out and dancing nekkid on the airship.

Well, we’re still the two who are most likely to be found cavorting sans attire atop our Stone of Change, but Shin and Comic each rolled up a Thelanis toon so we could have a Thelanis Night in addition to our weekly Cannith Night. I’m not sure if Keava joined next or if Baz moved an alt over (later followed by the rest of his toons) first. Then Sadie asked if she could put her alt account toons in our guild. And Seki, who’d run with us several times, showed up for our Friday group run a while back and took us up on our standing offer of a guild invite.

EIGHT people! Whoda thunk it? So after several weeks of getting people flagged for various stuff, I thought, hey, we should have a guild raid night – I bet we could shortman stuff.

Harahur and Even

It came down to a choice between Shroud and ToD, and we elected to go for Shroud because we didn’t have a proper shadow person in the guild and didn’t really want to PuG. Neither Sadie nor Baz made it, but other than one portal keeper showing up during Phase One, it was one awesomely smooth run. Even shortmanning, we managed to get all four chests in Phase Three, and there were NO deaths (well, y’know. Except that one part with the potential extra chest – wink wink, nudge nudge).

We followed that up with a five-man EH Devil Assault. Would’ve been a full party except Seki signed off because he had to get up early… in hindsight, we should’ve just told him to pike because Shin ended up having to go as well, so that’s what he did. Next time!

It was another smooth run, and again, no deaths. Definitely something I hope we do again soon – maybe this Friday again, we’ll see! I need to get Zak flagged and/or help Shin make a cold stick and teach him how to shadow tank so we can add ToD to our list.

Best part was definitely getting to do a guild-only raid, something I’m sure Slvr never envisioned when he made a guild for himself lo so many years ago. Next Shroud, though, nobody gets to leave until they ALL dance nekkid on the altar! *g*

And yes, the guild is called Flower Sniffers of Destiny. It used to be named after Slvr’s main, but when guild name changes became free, he renamed it – Flower Sniffers to reflect our preferred playstyle, and Destiny because that’s what our Cannith guild is called. Works for us!

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.

Mo! Mo! Mo!

Chalei

If you’re one of those strange people who occasionally turn their heads away from their computer screens and take a look around, you may have noticed a lot of men sporting more facial foliage than usual.

Yep, Movember is here! What’s Movember, you ask? I could try to tell you, but the Movember website explains it better than I can:

Movember is the month formerly known as November, where men and women across the globe join together to raise awareness and funds for men’s health. Men grow and women support a Mo (moustache) for 30 days becoming walking, talking billboards. Movember supports world-class men’s health programs that combat prostate and testicular cancer.
 
Men who support Movember, called Mo Bros, start by registering at Movember.comMo Bros start Movember 1st clean-shaven, then grow and groom their Mo, for the rest of the month, raising money along the way. Women who support Movember, called MO SISTAS, also start by registering at Movember.com. MO SISTAS champion the Mo by registering and supporting the Mo Bros in their life, spreading the important message of men’s health, leading a team and organizing events.

Daisy

Turbine is participating with a team called Turbine-Powered Moustaches, and Community Specialist Cordovan has offered up some pretty juicy incentives for DDOers who contribute to the cause. See that adorable snowy owlbear (or ours-hibou neigeux if you’re French) dancing with Chalei and smiling for her close-up? According to what Cordovan tells me, right now there are only two of them in all of DDO-land… but make a donation to Turbine’s Movember effort and the next one could be yours!

Cordovan is offering both individual incentives to donors, and group incentives to the DDO community as his goals are met. Full details are in a forum thread called ““Support the Turbine-Powered Moustaches this Movember!”

Sadly, being a mostly broke freelance writer/editor whose parents have no income and a lot of medical bills right now, there’s no way I can donate $250… but happily one of my friends did and passed his rewards on to me. (I won’t identify him ’cause I don’t know if he’s OK with that, but he’s welcome to reveal himself here if he wants to.) I’m going to have a blast running nekkid Tempest’s Spine with Cordovan and 10 of my best DDO friends (I can’t help but wonder if they had me in mind for this, given my penchant for nekkid Shroud dancing), getting my butt kicked by Cordovan in PvP, and having a custom forum title and avatar.

But I have to admit, my favorite part just might be Daisy, my new snowy owlbear – even though now I only need six more pets to hit the 50 mark on Thelanis. If I could choose, in no particular order – griffon, dretch (who says “glarb”), ooze, satyr (with a flute-playing trick), harpy and… Harry. I mean, who wouldn’t want their own pocket Arraetrikos?

Cordovan, THANK YOU for doing all of this, both the DDO part and more importantly, the men’s health fund-raising part! Your efforts are very much appreciated! 🙂

And just so you know, you have a hard act to follow – I got to run with Tolero a while back, and she was pretty darn cool. She wasn’t nekkid, though. *g*

Please donate if you’re able – every cent counts! – and support the Mo Bros and Mo Sistas during the month of Movember.  🙂