Gag me with a mindflayer

It feels very strange to have so very much stuff going on in real life that Sunday’s stream was the first time I’d logged into DDO since LAST week’s broadcast.

So since I hadn’t been on in a week, I still hadn’t run Desire in the Dark, the capstone of the Update 36 quest arc. I figured, well, no guts, no glory, so I got Even, Slvr got his warlock, and we headed in on legendary elite.

If you haven’t run the quest yet, you might want to wait to read this, because serious spoiler alerts are incoming.

Lots of them.

Right after I type several lines of text.

And separate them with line feeds to give you time to get out now if you don’t want to be spoiled.

Wait.

That sounded wrong.

You know what I meant.

Last chance!

So anyway…

You know what was kinda sad? Probably the toughest time Even had was against the waves of dretches down in the water after talking to the mindflayer.

OH YEAH, THE MINDFLAYER.

HE’S TOTALLY GROSS.

I MEAN, SERIOUS EW GOING ON THERE.

The guy (he? she? they? Do mindflayers have gender?) KEEPS PUKING ON YOU.

YES, I *DO* NEED TO USE ALL CAPS FOR THIS.

BECAUSE MERE WORDS CANNOT CONVEY HOW UTTERLY DISGUSTING THIS THING IS. BUT I CAN EMPHASIZE THEM FOR, Y’KNOW, EMPHASIS.

Anyway.

The dialogue in this quest is flat-out FANTASTIC. (I did feel somewhat like the puking mindflayer when I saw the following message on a debuff: “You’re skin feels very oily since you touched that gold.”

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m an editor by trade. “YOU’RE skin feels very oily?” MAKE IT STAAAAAAAHP! DDO, seriously. It should be “YOUR skin feels oily.” Unless you mean, “You are skin feels very oily,” which makes no sense and is also grammatically incorrect. Now I know why the mindflayer felt so ill.

Other than that, the NPC dialogue was nothing short of stellar. Even liked that a number of menus had paladin-specific options (now my other toons are wondering if their classes have specific options as well).

I also enjoyed all the dretches – even though they tried so VERY hard to kill me and not ONE of them said “glarb” (c’mon, DDO, with all the other great dialogue here, can’t you give the dretches some too?). And the succubi, ’cause I haven’t unlocked the art for them in my MM yet. AND THE PURPLE WORMS! Moar plz!

The mazes weren’t TOO terribly difficult, but then again I was following Slvr. Not sure how well I’d’ve fared on my own, especially since I didn’t have any Bigby’s with me. The dancing succubi, besides helping my count toward the art, were cool. Aside from the dretches, I thought most of the quest didn’t seem as difficult as I expected for legendary elite… even though I disregarded Slvr’s advice and looted a few innocuous-looking gold piles.

The end fight, though – that had some interesting moments.

Me: So this guy is apparently a huge sack of hit points, but unless he’s got tricks up his sleeve, he doesn’t look too terribly awful to fight on elite.

Slvr: HE DOES

And HE DID. Even though…

Me: He doesn’t even have sleeves! He’s wearing a tank top!

Slvr: Then his tricks are up his kilt.

Yeah. NOT going there. Regardless of where they were stashed, Graz’zt (the end boss) indeed had tricks. And Even did NOT like them, not one bit, because…

“You are afraid.”

WHAT?! Even’s a paladin! They’re immune to fear! But apparently NOT immune to being afraid. NPCs cheat! LOL

I actually liked having an end fight that was more than just whaling away on a huge stack of hit points, though. And without that little trick of his, Graz’zt would have been far too easy a fight for legendary elite. Even HE thought so – at the end, he said that the battle had been heroic, but not legendary. Dude.

The end chest yielded a Legendary Deep Demise with a +4 mythic boost for Even. I’m kinda torn on it (Slvr didn’t want it). Sere would love the +18 Int and the weapon boost, but right now I don’t have anyone who both uses daggers and needs illusion focus. Maybe Laegonn, once he TRs into a pale master and does a LOT of leveling up.

With only an hour of my usual two-ish hours used, I pondered what to do next… and then remembered that I hadn’t yet checked to see if my absolute favorite typos in the game had been fixed in the recent flurry of typo fixing. So it seemed the thing to do was to go run Tower of Despair and see if Horoth still called his Soliders of Shavarth.

I’m sorry to report that for some reason, it took us fooorrreeevvveeerrrrrrr to get through the whole raid. But I’m very happy to report that Horoth still has Soliders, and they’re still from Shavarth! Much as I usually hate typos, I’ve gotten kind of attached to this one.

I still have no idea what the Soliders are solider than, or what’s solider than a Solider, or what’s the Solidest. Nor do I know if there are Liquiders or Gassers… which totally sounded better in my head.

Streamin’ with Even is live on Thelanis every Sunday night at 11 pm Eastern time on the official DDOstream! The show is also hosted on my own Twitch channel, but if you’re watching live and want to chat, DDOStream is the place to be. Videos are archived on my YouTube channel and/or on DDOStream’s YouTube. Feel free to send me a tell if you’d like to join! Thanks for reading and/or watching! 🙂

Computer crashes and raiding dashes

My current PC will celebrate its 10th birthday in November. In all that time, the only stuff I’ve done to it is to replace the video card and the power supply.

Luckily it’s held up well, since it was pretty darn state-of-the-art when I bought it – quad core, 2.66 mHz speed. But as computers go, it’s getting pretty old, and it likes to get cantankerous.

One of the things it enjoys doing lately is to just reboot itself with no warning and for no apparent reason. Sunday night, I was getting ready to stream and was talking with Shin in guild chat, and the computer decided to reboot itself three times in half an hour.

So I scrapped my plans to run something interesting and meaningful, because if the PC decided to act up during the stream, I wanted to be doing something relatively unimportant. It’d been a while since I’d run Tower of Despair, so I figured a good old-fashioned classic raid night was just the ticket.

Naturally once I’d changed up my agenda, the computer decided to be on its best behavior. But no worries. I love ToD; I’m up for running it any time on any toon. Slvr was on as well and feels the same way about ToD as I do.

We had plenty of time left when ToD was done, so on to Shroud (heroic – I didn’t think we could duo legendary, especially if the computer crapped out again). And then we decided to kill the last 20-ish minutes with ADQ 1 (EN) and 2 (EE), which took us to almost precisely 1 am.

Of course, we both pulled Shards of Supreme Power out of the Shroud end chests – where the heck are those things when I’m on a toon who actually NEEDS them? And I was surprised to pull unbound – well, BtC on equip – Gloves of the Falcon from the epic chest in ADQ 2. Think that’s the first time I’ve ever pulled an explorer item from that raid. They’ll be a nice upgrade for my F2P rogue Genn’s feather falling gloves.

The computer, like Genn’s old gloves, will be replaced in the near future – but probably not until at least mid-August, ’cause I’m saving all my extra cash for Gen Con! My friends are probably getting tired of listening to me enthuse about it, but I’m so excited to be going! It’ll be my first-ever con. I bought a four-day pass and a bunch of event tickets – got my event schedule all entered into my Google calendar tonight. Among other things, I’ll be going to the They Might Be Giants concert, a Mercedes Lackey book signing, an evening with Patrick Rothfuss, “Silly Irish Songs for Cat Lovers,” AND…

A ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW PARTY!!!

So yeah. This computer is just going to have to make it a few more months. LOL

Meanwhile, my six-and-a-half-year DDO anniversary is June 8, and on Monday, Charlotte and Fern celebrated their first birthday! They don’t really like people food or canned cat food, and Fern’s tummy has issues with treats, but they loved their brand-new birthday catnip mousies. 😀

Streamin’ with Even is live every Sunday night at 11 pm Eastern time on the official DDOstream! The show is also hosted on my own Twitch channel, but if you’re watching live and want to chat, DDOStream is the place to be. Videos are archived on my YouTube channel and/or on DDOStream’s YouTube. I’m usually on Thelanis, usually/often/sometimes 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! 🙂

Shadowhunters

We Flower Sniffers really don’t ever NEED an excuse to run Tower of Despair. But if we’re offered one, we’ll gladly take it.

Slvr wanted to try shadow tanking on his bard, so we grabbed Comic and Abs and headed out to Amrath to rescue Harry from his hellish prison. Sadie happened along while we were in process and hopped into party to pike a completion.

Of course, once Horoth and Sully were down and everybody’d looted and picked up their underwhelming end rewards, the question was, “What next?” It seemed like a good night to run around in the Subterrane, leading us to Vision of Destruction and heroic Hound of Xoriat.

Prior to last night, Even had either the tanky bracers or the tanky shield, but not both. I couldn’t remember which one she had and which she lacked, but they both dropped and no one else wanted them, so now she has ’em both (and an extra of whichever one she already had, which I’ve been too lazy to check so far). Those will definitely be nice for future tank lives!

Comic doesn’t do much raiding, which turned out to be kind of cool. It’s not often we get a chance to run one of our old standby raids and see it through new eyes. I think everyone passed him their named items and Shavarath trophies from ToD. He did a great job throughout all three raids, which were a lot of fun.

Once the stream was done, I was going to go to bed… but Abs kept being all SHROUD SHROUD SHROUD, and I noticed the other day that Reera is flagged but – at level 24 – still hadn’t run it. I couldn’t allow that to continue! So now she’s got her first completion plus a regular and greater Shard of Power (no supremes dropped, sadly).

If you think getting to 24 without running Shroud is pathetic… I have no idea how long Acanthia’s been flagged this life, but it’s been a WHILE. I’ve been LOVING the changes to monks; she’s maybe a bit more squishy than before, but her DPS has gone up exponentially. So the other night I decided to try to solo Shroud on her. Went absolutely beautifully, even got all four rednames in Phase 2 down on the second try. Looted, recalled, and noticed I had mail… she had Turbine points for passing another favor mark. Checked her quest completions, and sure enough, that was her first Shroud of this life… and she’s 30. Oops!

*A* Planar Shard!

Sunday was the first I’d run anything in Sub-T since the last update, or at least the first time since then that I’d had any t-bags drop. So, notice anything missing in the screenie above?

Not so very long ago, if you got a Sub-T t-bag, you also got a message: “You obtain an Planar Shard.”

Seriously?! AN Planar Shard? That typo always drove me nuts. So I was both surprised and delighted to see that it’s been fixed!

Checked out DDOCast lately? I was honored to be a guest on the Dec. 11 debate episode, and on the “year in review” episode recorded – well, just before I started working on this post. LOL

You can always count on Patrick for interesting guests, thought-provoking topics, and good times all around!

Next Sunday (Jan. 1), there will NOT be a show. Streamin’ with Even will return in its regular Sunday, 11 pm Eastern time slot on Sunday, Jan. 8.

There will still most likely be a blog post next Monday. Maybe a New Year’s post, possibly something along the lines of this week’s A Visit from Sir Picks-a-Lot… possibly something completely different.

Streamin’ with Even is live every Sunday night at 11 pm Eastern time, now on the official DDOstream! The show will still be hosted on my own Twitch channel as well, but if you’re watching live and want to chat, DDOStream is the place to be. 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!  🙂

Sleepless in Thelanis

Sere vs. Cenodoxus

 

Ah, another sleepless night. Good time for a blog!

Even was midway through yet another EE Two-Toed Tobias run when newest Flower Sniffer Citi signed on tonight. We completed that in short order and, after a bit of debate, decided to start flagging for Tower of Despair.

Even’s flagged, of course – heck, she’s been soloing it on elite for months now – but assassin rogue Sere is not. So I logged her in and set off for Amrath with Citi on his cleric.

We had trouble getting the quests to open at first, but at last, while we were, like, MILES away killing random stuff in the wilderness, the dialogue box FINALLY popped up. (What’s going on with that? It’s been happening a lot lately.) We tore through Genesis Point first, nice easy run, and then tackled Sins of Attrition, also pretty easy except for “someone” forgetting that there were undisableable (YES, that’s a word if I say it is) air jet traps and getting blown up into the spikes and killed.  *g*

And I got a pretty nice screenie of Sere fighting Cenodoxus, which sorta makes up for not playing her in so long that when she got to the Twelve, she got a message that she’d completed the Midwinter Festival.

 

Twins!

 

A few nights before that, I’d dropped a Sands guest pass on Amie the free-to-play alt. Citi brought his 13 paladin, and we dashed through the desert side quests. The biggest problem we had there was that Amie had a hard time telling Citi apart from his hireling. Look at that screenie – they’re practically twins! It’s bad enough that I sometimes find myself following a blue dot that turns out to be a hireling. It’s even worse when I can’t tell who’s the real player and who’s the hireling when they’re standing right in front of me!

Amie had enough time left on her guest pass to finish a slayer/rare/explorer run the next night. Citi showed up about the time she’d cleared out the undead area, and I surprised both of us by knowing the way to most of the explorer points. Had to check wiki for the Crow’s Nest – for some reason I can NEVER find that one on my own. Gotta do the flagging quests next, but she’ll need a fresh pass – or I could just move her on to Gianthold, since I bought that for her when it was on sale a while back.

 

Even and Stormreaver

 

Even is still Cursed-Blade-of-Jack-Jibbers-less. I’m convinced now that Jack is sekritly a kobold wraith who remembers what Even did to him in Waterworks a little too well.

Meanwhile someone was asking me about soloing EEs and raids earlier tonight, and wanted to know which ones Even had completed. I’d made a New Year’s resolution in 2015 to try to solo more raids, EEs, and generally tougher content. Her list of EEs is at 60-some quests now, so I’m not going to list all those (I’m lazeh like that). Raids, though – she does Fall of Truth on EN on a regular basis, mostly to farm wraiths (about five more runs until she gets the pet), and has done it on EH a few times. Besides wraiths, she also gets to admire the Stormreaver’s pretty hair!

She’s also successfully soloed EE Chrono and Demon Queen, EN Lord of Blades and Master Artificer, and elite Tower of Despair, Vision of Destruction, and Reaver’s Fate. Most of the others I haven’t tried yet. She has issues with the portal masters in Phase 1 of Shroud (which Vic has soloed successfully on heroic normal) – she can’t FIND them. A couple of stabs at Caught in the Web have ended with her getting knocked off by the legs.

And a few nights ago, she made her second try at legendary normal Tempest’s Spine – her first attempt was thwarted because her Int wasn’t high enough to get the runes. So I bought her some +14 Int goggles to swap in, grabbed some Yugo pots and the House D pots that stack with almost everything, and tried again. Went much better this time; she even did the drow optional (although I was cursing a lot in guild chat about those damned drow). She got all the way to the dropdown point right before the end fight, where there’s a big mean beholder you have to get past to get to Sor’jek’s portal – she was running around trying to stay behind the beholder and somehow got stuck on the ladder. Tried to jump off and kept ending up right back on it, to the tune of nine negative levels, one disintegrate, and a very disheartening ding.

As she keeps telling Jack Jibbers, maybe next time!

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.

Making a splash… screen

Orchard splash screen

 

Geoff Hanna, aka “Gamer Geoff,” recently posted a blog that detailed how to change some of the splash screens you see when you’re zoning from one area to another in DDO.

 

I take a lot of screenshots. I mean, A LOT of screenshots. Thousands of ’em, possibly tens of thousands. And I get tired of looking at the same splash screens all the time. So this idea really appealed to me.

 

Last night I decided it was high time I bit the bullet and tried it out. Picked 11 screenies kindasorta at random, cropped them to 1024×768, saved them in the appropriate directory with the filenames DDO assigned to the default splash screens, and then booted the game.

 

WOW. SERIOUSLY. JUST WOW.

 

It was incredibly cool to zone from one airship deck to the other and see my OWN picture of our OWN airship while I was zoning.

 

If you try this, you won’t get your own screens on every zone; some zones and quests have specific splash screens that – as far as I know – can’t be changed. But if you’re zoning into a place that uses a generic screen (having a Kraken with a top deck, four lower  decks, and a cargo hold, this happens to me a lot), you’re going to see your own screens for those. And it’s pretty darn awesome.

 

I thought I’d share the first set of screenies I used as splash screens. Since I have so VERY many screen shots, I’ll probably rotate them every so often, just because I can. Feel free to click any or all of them to download for yourself!  🙂

 

  ToDFire pit

  WGUEveningstar river

  KrakenLightning globe

  GriffonAirship in Twelve

  Purple wormAmrath

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.

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.

Back where she belongs

Evennote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

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.