Two rangers and a rogue walk into Tethyamar…

… and the rogue says, “OW! I hit my head! All the doors here are made for dwarves!”

Indeed, the architecture in Update 36, aka Duel in the Underdark, definitely looks as though it were designed for dwarves, by dwarves, one especially low portcullis in particular.

Vic, being elven and somewhat taller than the average dorf, had to mind her head a few times… and being somewhat squishier than Even, should have minded her red bar a bit better as well. Two days earlier, Even and the Flower Sniffers had had a relatively smooth, painless trip through the four U36 flagging quests on LE. Our gimpier toons, though, had a few struggles on LH.

Melee DPS and/or crowd control and/or better hjealing than Garret and Erytheia might have helped. Two arcane archers and a ranged trapmonkey don’t give you a lot of variety when it comes to dealing damage.

But the Flower Sniffers have never been overly concerned with how much time they spend as soulstones. Mostly we just wanted to have fun with the new quests and maybe pick up some cool new loot.

Yay for us, we did both! I’m really enjoying the new quests. Great storyline, nice variety of mobs (it’s not just dwarves and Drow), and some really cool touches. One of my favorite little extras is the appearance of the undead in your focus orb. Some of them have mushrooms sprouting from their skulls; others appear to have weapons buried in their backs (presumably how they died?).

Vic was wielding the Legendary Heavy Boltslinger Even pulled in Friday’s run. She also, much to her delight, ended up with the Mantle of the Dwarven Commander (which dropped for Slvr, but he passed it to her). And I think we’ve all now pulled at least one Stonework Beam – hope they’re still dropping that thickly when Seki starts playing more regularly in a few weeks, because that’d be great for him! Too bad they’re BtA or I’d just send him mine; I don’t have anyone who uses q-staves. You’d think with 19 toons there’d be ONE who’d want it!

There are a couple of things that could stand tweaking or more. The DM chatter in Tethyamar is a little excessive. It’s “brethren,” not “bretheren.” And there’s that one optional where the door sometimes doesn’t open after you complete it, leaving you trapped unless you have DDoor (or do what we did and complete it after you’ve finished the rest of the quest).

Oh, and there’s a totally idiotic gate/lever combo. The lever to open the gate is… BEHIND the gate. You can get to the lever with a little hand-eye coordination by jumping around the gate (as Vic does in the video), or with Cannith boots from the opposite side. But you needn’t bother, because even if you go through all that, the gate opens to – wait for it – a blank wall.

I’m definitely looking forward to seeing how my other toons fare in U36. We’ll be running the capstone for the stream this Sunday. I may have spots open, so if you want in, be flagged and on Thelanis!

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! 🙂

Filkin’ Around: Black Abbot

Maybe I should stop listening to that binaural beats/lucid dreams stuff to fall asleep. It actually works pretty well… but the resulting dreams can be a bit, well, strange.

Sunday’s livestream featured semi-gimpy rogue Vic discovering anew just how VERY badly she sucks against undead as she tried to get herself flagged for Abbot along with LrdSlvrhnd and later Retsans (and even a bit of Citi thrown in for good measure).

Orchard was kinda sobering for Vic. When I say she sucks against undead, I mean she really, REALLY sucks. Badly. She’s 30, running level 14 quests on heroic elite, and struggling with stat damage and neg levels. Not pretty, and far from the generally-very-capable-even-if-she’s-no-Even Vic I’m used to.

She’s still never finished the heroic Orchard wildy, and I’m pretty sure she’d never run any of the quests on heroic, either. So she had nary a sigil piece to her name. Fleshmaker’s was pretty easy. Ghosts, mostly the same, until we got to Cholthulzz… and Vic, who almost never uses featherfall, beat Slvr down the falls by a wide margin, making her the sole target of ol’ Cholty’s wrath and resulting in her spending much of the end fight sequence completely helpless thanks to her 0 Con score. Yeah. Stat damage sucks. Would’ve been embarrassing if she’d died. LOL

Slvr was already spouting a good deal of maggro (mephit aggro) even before Vic headed to Orchard, because he’d been soloing Inferno on another toon and was somewhat more than heartily sick of trying to chivvy the right mephits to the right places. He’d already informed me in no uncertain terms that he was NOT going to run another Inferno… but luckily for me, Retsans took pity on me, Slvr ended up staying, Citi logged in, and we had actually a fairly enjoyable run.

We followed that up with several sigil-piece-farming runs of Vol. Poor Vic. I think now she’s got at least two or three of every sigil EXCEPT #5, the center frame. Luckily it can drop in any quest. Unluckily, that probably means a lot of Vol farming and neg levels from the quells.

I’m probably going to be doing a lot of heroic Orchard runs, because as much as I really do still hate Abbot, I seem to hate it just a little less every time I run it, and now I’m actually kind of hoping to get us all flagged and run it for guild night. Even’s the only toon I have who’s flagged, and until recently, she hadn’t even run it this life. You’d think with 19 toons on Thelanis, only two of whom are below level 16, I’d have flagged at least a few more… but no, they’ve all led blissfully Abbot-free lives so far. Acanthia did run the occasional Abbot during her first life, but has yet to flag in this one.

But anyway, about those binaural beats and isochronic tones and lucid dreams meditation audio files… I was sort of half waking up very early this morning, and somehow I started hearing Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit” in my head, and I kinda felt like I’d been having a weird dream about Abbot flagging, so I donned my filk tiara (which was actually my prize for having the highest word count in my region for 2016 NaNoWriMo), and came up with “Black Abbot.”

If you’re unfamiliar with the original – first, shame on you! Luckily, I try to always link the sources of my inspirations, so here you go. For those who like to sing along, I used Karafun’s karaoke version in my video.

I was lucky enough to see Starship perform “White Rabbit” live, oh, many years ago. Grace Slick sounded even better live than she did recorded, and Mickey Thomas played a couple of riffs with his teeth. The next day, as my friends and I were leaving the hotel, we saw a guy walking across the parking lot and singing “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” at the top of his lungs. He walked right over a parked car, grinned and said “good morning” to us… and then we realized we’d just met (kinda) Mickey Thomas. Good times!

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!  🙂

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!

Nothing left to prove

Victaurya

It’s time.

For four and a half years, my poor Victaurya has been running around Stormreach and Faerun sporting a 28-point build and some of the worst feat choices you can make and still be survivable. She followed a path build until she was level 8 or 9 and until now, has never done any kind of reincarnating – not lesser, not greater, not heroic, not epic. She’s been a true first-lifer; she doesn’t even have all her destinies (or even MOST of her destinies) capped. Heck, she probably hasn’t even tried half of them.

Despite that, she’s actually fared pretty well. She’s not particularly solo-able, although she’s made it through some of the easier EEs on her own, but – IMHO, anyway – she’s a pretty good supporting member of a party. She was my very first toon, and I never really had clear-cut goals for her at the beginning, other than, “Try not to die.”

Over the past few years, as she’s slowly (very slowly) leveled to 28 and I’ve learned a lot more about DDO, I’ve sort of formulated this idea of a Vic who could deal with any trap or lock in the game, deal reasonable DPS, self-heal as much as possible, and be able to survive if she drew aggro.

Well, she’s done all that, and more. I don’t think she’s failed a trap or lock in the entire epic part of her life (tbh, the last time I remember her failing a trap was Chamber of Insanity, and I’m not sure she’s EVER failed to pick a lock). Epic destinies – well, mostly Cocoon – have given her enough self-healing to mostly not need any additional help except in EE.

As for the rest… Friday night, our little band of Flower Sniffers decided to tackle What Goes Up on epic elite. There were four of us: Slvr’s druid, Comic’s arty, Seki’s cleric, and Vic. Slvr and Comic each brought a hireling healer as well, although Garret and Erytheia were mostly more drawback than asset. We are probably not really an EE-caliber group overall, but our philosophy is pretty much, “Hey, let’s try it, if we wipe we can always go again on a lower difficulty.”

Victaurya

Vic, being a rogue and not having a hire, probably had the least self-healing capacity, but died the least, by quite a bit (well, except Seki, but he had to leave halfway through). She also dominated the kill count, ending up with nearly half of our total kills (which surprised me, because Slvr’s druid has some serious DPS). Her UMD, besides being enough to lower all the barriers, also allowed her to throw out heals and rezzes. And several times, she went toe-to-toe with angry orcs and survived without taking serious damage.

I’ve been kinda proud of how well Vic does despite her 28-point build. Her performance in EE WGU made me think that maybe she does pretty well for any build. Not that she’s a rock star, just that I don’t think I could ask for any more from her even if she were a completionist. It’s kind of bittersweet; I have to admit I like getting to the end of a tough quest and having someone send me a tell or say something in party chat like, “I just looked at your profile – wow, you’re still an adventurer build? Nice going!”

So as much as I sometimes want to keep Vic at 28 points forever, I think she’s earned the right to four more build points (not to mention a much better feat selection). A few hours ago, I took her to Reincarnation Grove for an epic TR.

New level 20 Vic feels a little gimpy compared to old level 28 Vic – fewer hit points, lower skills, and all her cool gear now has red boxes around the icons. But she overcame a lot to level to 28 and make herself a valuable, contributing party member. I think she’ll be just fine until she levels up enough to equip all her shinies.

You’ve come a long way, baby

Victaurya

Once upon a time, there was a little elf rogue running around Harbor in Thelanis, blowing up trapboxes, swinging a rapier, getting left in the dust by parties who only wanted Ingenious Debilitation bonuses, and generally just trying not to get killed.

That little elf rogue is Victaurya, my very first toon, who was born on Dec. 8, 2010. Saturday night, then-level-27 Vic ran her first-ever Fire on Thunder Peaks (she died once because she got stuck crowd-surfing and once when one of the dragons hit her for 1100 damage, but did respectably in the kill count and tossed some scroll healing around), after which I realized she was getting really, really close to level cap, so Vey and I ran – wow, memory fail, I can’t remember what we ran, LOL. But it was enough to get Vic the XP she needed to reach level 28 and be capped.

It’s always cool to level up, especially when it’s a “benchmark” level like 20 or 28. On Vic, it was especially sweet.

Victaurya

Vic’s gone through a lot since that fateful Wednesday night back in the winter of 2010. As I was completely new to DDO, I went with one of the path builds – think it was Thief-Acrobat – and stayed on that path until around level 8 or 9, when my friend Ethan explained feats, enhancements, stats, and career paths to me. Up until then, she just followed her path, and the now-thankfully-ex-boyfriend told her what to spend her action points on.

Luckily Ethan knew a lot more about that stuff than the ex did, and also wanted to help me play a toon I actually liked to play. He asked what my favorite part of playing Vic was, and I told him I really liked being able to pick locks and disarm traps – two things that Even couldn’t do.

And speaking of Even, I rolled her up two days after I created Vic, because the ex had decided to reroll his fighter into a wizard and wanted a tanky type around to protect him. Unfortunately for Vic, this meant that her playing time took a serious nosedive for quite a while.

Anyway, Ethan suggested that Vic try being a mechanic instead of a thief-acrobat, and talked me through resetting her enhancements. And suddenly my poor neglected rogue was fun to play again.

She’s never quite gotten back to being my main, as evidenced by how long it took me to cap her. My intention with her was always to make her more of a support toon; she’s not as solo-able as Even or Acanthia or Jall or even Dissy, since her self-healing consists mostly of Healing Spring and heal scrolls.

But I’m proud of her. She’s never done any kind of reincarnation, so she’s still a 28-point build. But she can get her Search up to 102 just with self-buffing, and her other rogue skills can mostly hit the high 90s. And with decent party buffs in Shiradi, she can top 800 HP. Her UMD allows her to spot heal and rez, and her DPS, with a Needle and Quiver of Poison, is respectable.

Victaurya

I’ve been asked when I’m going to reincarnate her. It’s not something I really can answer. I don’t have any plans to TR her in the near future; as she is now, she does everything I really want her to do, and that’s all I care about.

There’s always room for improvement, and six more build points would certainly not go to waste. But Vic’s not even close to being done with this life yet. I can’t wait to see how far she can go.

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.

Hanging up the plow

Victaurya

 

I’d been SO good.

 

After my last post, I resolved to stay away from Spinner of Shadows for a while. I was just Spinnered out. And until last night, I’d kept that resolution. Not ONCE since I made that post had I set foot in that webby, columned room.

 

I’m not sure why I decided to give it another try. Maybe it was because Acanthia looked so bored, just hanging out on the ship sorting through bank stuff. Her Neverwinter alter ego had already gotten a fun couple of hours playing with Shin, Comic and Bonnie; Even’d run elite ToD before that. It just didn’t seem fair to stick poor DDO Acanthia at the bank.

 

“Just ONE more try,” I told myself sternly. “I don’t care what drops or doesn’t drop. You’re not running this damn quest more than once tonight.”

 

But once was all it took, because gleaming at me from that beautiful pink epic chest was my long-sought-after Shard of the Silver Slinger, the last piece Vic needed to epickify one of her favorite crossbows.

 

I think Garret the Fainted, I mean Tainted, er, no, Sainted jinxed me. Usually when Acanthia solos EH quests, she brings him along for deathward and as a failsafe in case of lag spikes and such. But the last few times, I noticed she was using her healing ki to keep HIM up far more than he was healing HER. So Garret stayed in the hireling folder, playing poker with the owlbears, panther and the level 24 rogue hire. (It may have been strip poker. They didn’t say, and I didn’t ask ’cause I didn’t really want to know.)

 

With no Garret around to worry about, the quest itself didn’t take long. Once the fighting was done, Baz and Slvr jumped in to give me a few extra chances at the shard, and then I put up a “free loot” LFM.

 

I’m not sure who passed me the shard – I’m almost positive it didn’t drop in my name, because I didn’t see it when I first opened the chest. Or maybe I’d just gotten so used to NOT seeing it that I didn’t realize what it was. Then someone said, “The shard dropped!” And I looked again… and there it was.

 

Victaurya

 

And now I’m really, REALLY never going into Spinner again… until it’s time to epickify Char’s Bow of the Silver Flame.