To twinfinity… and beyond!

Sere and Taurriel

 

Talk about déjà vu!

Got my first glimpse of Keava’s new Shadar-Kai Taurriel tonight, and she looked… strangely familiar. I knew I’d seen that rogue before, but where?

Right on my login screen, that’s where. The hair color is different, and Taurriel’s eyes are darker, but otherwise she’s the spitting image of my own Seregeth.

This could come in handy when questing. One sneaky rogue sidles up and gets the enemy’s attention. The mobs whirl around to attack – and see what they think is that same sneaky rogue waaaaay on the other side of the dungeon. While they’re scratching their heads and going, “Wait, what?” the twin rogues whip out their trusty daggers and start assassinating. I like it!

 

Even and 3BC airship

 

Just some random thoughts tonight, because I had a most awesome weekend-into-Monday and I’m exhausted. Slvr discovered that if you climb the bell tower in Three-Barrel Cove when the rare encounter airship Ill Fate is up, you can get a great look at it from above. You can also land on it, which I didn’t get a chance to do because Slvr blew it up too fast. Sure beats trying to fire a ballista when a horde of angry pirates are swinging their whirly chains at you!

 

Meren and death_adurnac

 

Had a strange, slightly cool, and slightly creepy thing happen in a guild run of heroic Shroud Friday night. Everything had been perfectly normal – well, as normal as things can be when the Flower Sniffers of Destiny get together – until Phase 5. My gimpy li’l rogue Meren had grabbed Adur-Nac and was pulling him away so that he could be killed when she noticed that something weird was going on with his name.

He had the correct floaty text in Phase 2, but he kept his “death_adurnac” moniker throughout Phase 5, or at least until we killed him. No one noticed if his “ghost” form also had the glitch. I’ve never seen that in Shroud before, and as many times as I’ve run Shroud, that’s saying something. So it was kinda neat… even though seeing “death” in front of Adur-Nac’s name didn’t settle gimpy Meren’s nerves any.

 

DRETCH!

 

Yes, it’s a picture of a dretch. Because I can. Grabbed it from a splash screen because I was too tired lazy to dig through all my screenies looking for a good dretch shot. Dretches rock, and we need more of them. And we especially need dretch cosmetic pets. I have it on pretty good authority that this won’t happen for a long time if ever, but I’ll never give up hope. C’mere, little dretch! Glarb! Eat my sorrow and drink my pain! NUM!

Citi wrote about dretches in a blog post a while back, suggesting that they need a little theme music when they fall under the spell of Otto’s Irresistible Dance. The cool thing about the DDO blogging community is that, with a few exceptions (as anyone who’s read some of the comment sections on my blog knows, heh heh), we enjoy helping each other out. The lovely grimorde obliged Citi with a video giving dretches their right to party. It’s 18 seconds you’ll thank me for, I promise!

Potions of Wonder

The Flower Sniffers are getting down to the serious business of trying to get everybody flagged for everything. Keava made us a cool spreadsheet in Google Docs (we tried using forum posts first, but the alt-itis some of us – yes, ME – suffer from kinda made that too clunky) so that we can all put in our characters and what they’ve run. Slvr added a few quest arcs… now all I need is the ambition to go through all of my toons and see who’s flagged for what.

And at some point, we really need to have a nekkid guild fun run/raid night with EVERYBODY. Because Acanthia’s bank is starting to fill up with Potions of Wonder. The pic is from a couple of weeks ago; she now has close to 1,500 wonder pots. The plan is to get the entire guild on, take our clothes off, head into a raid, pass a stack of pots to everybody, and start chugging. That’ll definitely be one for the livestream!

Speaking of the stream, I’m moving to midnight (Eastern) Sundays from 11 pm so as not to conflict with any other streams.

Last, but certainly not least – today will mark the 200th issue to the DDO Chronicle! May you have many, many more!

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.

Filkin’ around: Nerf City

Seregeth

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

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

Nerf City

Too bad, delete, reroll

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

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

Too bad, delete, reroll

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

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

Too bad, delete, reroll

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

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

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

Imbalance of power

Stormglory Bolt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grabbing life by the Storm Horns

Acanthia

Given past history, I was a bit worried about the imminent release of U19, aka the Shadowfell Conspiracy. I mean, c’mon, there are still plenty of unresolved bugs – sorry, “unintended features” – from LAST year’s expansion, Menace of the Underdark.

Well, color me impressed. Even if U19 added nothing but the Storm Horns wilderness, I’d be pretty darn happy. Turbine, when you get it right, you REALLY get it right. The Storm Horns are GORGEOUS all by themselves, with amazing new mobs… satyrs! Harpies! Owlbears! Pseudodragons! GRIFFONS! Oh, oh, OH, the griffons! Please, please, please release griffon companions, because I don’t think I can live without one much longer (she sez, studiously NOT looking at the 42 – yes, really, 42 – companions she already has on Thelanis).

Acanthia

The rare encounters in Storm Horns show ample evidence that there was actual thought put into them, and probably even by someone who plays the game. While the “wounded soldier” in the above pic was out of Acanthia’s reach (and doesn’t seem to do much no matter which option you choose when he’s at ground level), there’s an ice dragon way, way high in the mountains, and a red dragon who seems to be the twin of Micahrastir (that mean guy who likes to blow you off his perch in Underdark, and blow the bridge away so you can’t get back to him). There’s a rare owlbear, a rare wood woad and a rare giant. There’s a poacher who lets you bargain for loot – one to three chests depending on how many gamey venisons and fox tails you have. There’s a tame owlbear who’ll follow you around and fight for you if you give him some venison and pet him.

And there’s my personal favorite, the one where the satyr elder wants you to dance with him. I’ve had a couple different outcomes to this one; sometimes I’ve ended up having to fight him, sometimes not. He usually ends up asking if he can cast something on me and assuring me “it won’t hurt a bit;” most of the time it’s been Otto’s, but once he buffed me with Good Hope.

Likewise, the quests show some creativity. The first one I ran was “The Tracker’s Trap,” with Baz; it was so much fun I ran it again the next night with Annie. The end fight is cool, not just a straight boss beat-down; I won’t give too much detail so as not to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t run it yet, but I’ll just say that Acanthia spent a lot of time unintentionally flying through the air.   *snicker*

Acanthia really hopes this description of
Um… and I’d want to bring my FOE back from the dead, why, exactly?

Yes, there are bugs. It’s new content; some glitches are to be expected. But – at least to me – they don’t seem NEARLY as prevalent as when MotU was released (or, for that matter, even as prevalent in the new content as they are in MotU stuff still). Acanthia was rather startled to find that Rise of the Phoenix can apparently now raise one’s enemy, although despite the description, it does NOT work on one’s friends. She hasn’t had the opportunity to see if it works on herself yet, but that would be pretty cool… although I think she liked it better when she could use it as much as she needed to raise her partymates and/or hirelings rather than just once per rest.

I’ve heard people complaining about light monks getting nerfed in the update. My experience has been just the opposite. Acanthia gained a few HP, and the devotion aspect to healing ki means her light-light-light finishing move can actually do some real good, especially to anyone with a decent amount of heal amp (she hits herself for 120-150 HP). I also like that, instead of having individual moves for remove blindness, remove curse, remove disease and lesser restoration, now I can change her stance to automatically apply the desired effect with her healing ki finisher. This is a HUGE boon in CitW. Get a couple of light monks up there mashing on Lolth, and the melees can save their curse pots. Her DPS is at least as good as ever; it actually seems a bit better, but not sure if that’s U19 or that she finally pulled Antipode the night before the update.

As I’ve only really been running Acanthia this week (with a bit of playing time for Even, Jall and Meren), it’s too soon for me to tell for sure how the update will affect everyone, but overall I’m pretty darn happy. Even picked up about 30 HP along with raising her AC, PRR and intim. Jall – who I was already pleased with – added some HP as well, and her aura now hits herself for about 15 points more than it did before. When I logged Vic in Monday night, she’d somehow gained 70 HP, which makes my squishy, gimpy, 28-point first-life trapmonkey quite happy. She did lose a few points of rogue skills across the board  (don’t think it’ll make THAT much difference, as she was at 75-80 on most of them pre-update), and I only managed to fit in one tier of Faster Sneaking, but… Vic with almost 700 HP? HECK yeah, I’ll take that.

Dissy lost one song – not a big deal, as she went from 42 to 41 – and maybe a few spell points, also not a big deal as she’s a spellsinger. She likes having Sustaining Song now, and like Jall, saw a nice increase in her positive spellpower; I think she’s a truly legitimate backup healer and could probably handle main healer duties in a well-built group.

Char seems to be about the same, HP- and SP-wise. While as an AA she’s primarily ranged, she DOES switch to dual scimis for melee, and I’m curious to see what effect the update has on her melee DPS, given the total lack of attention to TWF and THF builds. Meren also picked up HP and positive spellpower; I certainly never expected to have her over 700 HP at level 22. She got herself flagged for CitW entirely solo; I really need to have more faith in her. I did the flagging quests mostly on norm, but after her performance I think she could have easily handled hard.

I wish I’d done a lot more in Wheloon before I’d ever gone into Storm Horns, because… Wheloon just can’t measure up. Oh, the quests are fun, and the wilderness is mostly good – it just doesn’t compare even remotely to Storm Horns. Shade beholders and undead purple worms are cool, and Shadar-Kai – while scary with those chains whipping around (hey Turbine, any chance Sere, my new Shadar-Kai rogue, could get a set of those?), are pretty darn awesome.

But if there were just one thing I could change about Wheloon – THE DAMN PINK FOG MUST GO. LYK RITE NAO. Seriously. You can’t see anything, it’s freaking LAGGY as all hell, and…  prison dungeons should NEVER BE PINK. What, did the Netherese lock up Strawberry Shortcake for tax evasion? No? Then NO MOAR PINK. And no more fog; the lag is UNREAL. Maybe something like the Xoriat madness in Delirium, but in a suitably sinister color. And for the love of Khyber, make that damn priestess spawn already so I can get Journal No. 8 and clear my map.

Yttsie

And, long overdue… as promised to Empress Mizzaroo herself, here’s a shot of her on her elven arti (far right), Comic (left) and Yttsie (center) chillin’ in Smugglers’ Rest with Wee Yip Yip (far left, just in case you were thinking Comic was a kobold). While real life sadly intervened and prevented us from being able to do a Cove run together, we still had lots of fun rampaging through the wilderness killing stuff, even though Yttsie was 4-5 levels behind them (and was the only one who did not die, LOL – just hadda throw that in!).

NWO Acanthia

So, this is the first I’ve blogged in a while. Real life has been a doozy for the past few months, and seems likely to continue being a doozy for the foreseeable future. It’s cut into my playing time a bit, and into my blogging time a LOT. But, at Shin’s urging, I’ve designated Wednesday as Neverwinter Online Night. Sadly, NWO does not offer a monk class, but the NWO version of Acanthia – a TWF trickster rogue – is still a lot of fun. She’s nearly level 11 already, and one of these days I may even get used to having to use mouselook and pressing V instead of F to talk.

 

(And no, I don’t know what’s up with her abnormally long hands – maybe it’s a rogue thing.)