Monthly Archives: April 2010

DPS vs. insta kill

There are two ways of dealing damage as a Favored soul; theoretically FvS are much better at fighting than your average cleric. That would be highlighted by the fact that Favored Souls have a choice of different weapons, such as long bow, long sword etc dependent of race and host.

But quite frankly – it’s a poor man’s fighter that is better bridged by a Paladin or any of the other ‘fighter’ classes. A FvS will at best be able to add some extra damage to their weapons, but for most part will straddle the middle ground of ‘can smack but also heal’.

There are 3 basic components of DPS – one is to hit faster and more. That can be accomplished by items, feats and enhancements. Such as haste, attack speed items and feats like dual weapon fighting.

The second is improving the amount of damage done – that would be more strength, bonuses towards damage in the form of feats or enhancements and increased crits. The third is to improve the damage output of the weapon itself – such as damage effects from burst to blast of all kind of elemental effects.

Favored souls are not very good at doing any of these, other than maybe adding a better weapons. But adding a better weapon usually means picking  a relevant weapon feat since there are few base choice available. Which means a feat taken away from primary spell casting abilities.

Favored souls do not have many enhancements that improve either of these; no bonus feats that makes their combat technique better (other than perhaps a few more damage points to a weapon or a 20 second clickie that does the same). To add Strength and Dexterity takes away from primary spell casting abilities such as Charisma and Wisdom; in a sense if you’re determined to make your favored soul a fighter you’re better off going for something like a ranger instead.

The choice I made was to do a little bit of everything without sacrificing my spell casting ability (much).

First – I wanted the ability to destroy groups of critters and blade barrier is excellent at that. Maybe not as damaging as a fully maximized fire wall but certainly good on every single critter other than the ones who have evasion and you won’t find many of those critters until you run the Devils Battlefield.

Secondly I wanted a reliable insta kill option – banishment for outsiders and Destruction for almost everything else; that require 2 things – spell penetration to even have a chance to use it and DC to destroy the critter. Since its either Necromancy or Abjuration (spell focus) I added energy drain as a reliable back up.

I also removed my greater spell penetration; I noticed that I didn’t have much problem breaking through critters SR (then 27 now 25 plus D20), it is in the actual DC department that I lack. I’m still looking for a solution there but meanwhile I’ve decided to pick up my close quarter brawling a notch.

The result is that I now run almost always without hireling; I accomplished that by adding 2 GS weapons, straight holy tier 3 (holy, burst and blast) and I’m tier 2 on my other (Acid, holy Burst and when I can tier 3, Acid Blast). That’ll add transmute and keen to the rapier with a 15+ crit range. However in order to make my damage output even greater I decided to replace greater spell penetration with Improved crit instead.

The result is vastly different. I can still hit pretty good even though I lack 2 weapon fighting and with a crit range of 15+ on both rapiers I manage to do a half decent job of throwing it down in the dirt. Add some spells and you have a winner.

That’s why I was able to solo the Devils Battlefield (wilderness); a judicial use of Blade barrier, energy drain and destruction had me not only survive the toughest scraps but also go toe to toe with rares.

The tactic is pretty easy; throw down a blade barrier to take care of most thrash mobs – energy drain troglodytes (since they have evasion) and especially the shamen (who love to spam blade barriers themselves). After one or 2 energy drain, most troglodytes will either fail the evasion and die in the blade barrier or I will use destruction on them to insta kill. I still need to add something like necromancy focus to increase my DC so I only have to use one energy drain (if any).

For bosses I will use blade barriers on those who lack evasion and energy drain with blade barrier on those who does. It’s a very successful combination and since I can free heal myself my SP usually last even through the toughest scraps.

The net result is that I’ve managed to survive the red and the orange bosses and it only gets messy when troglodytes gets involved (the stalkers will damage your con and the shamens blade barriers are a pain).

Epic

So yesterday I did two things; ran through the smoothest and a very fast shroud run, while having a discussion with my wife. Not easy, but the people I ran with made it easy which is underscored by the possibility of having an interaction with my wife that would normally lead to ‘are you not listening to me’.

Second – I ran my first Epic quest – Von 1. I assume it’s the easiest since that’s what most people run. I’ve read a lot about what people have to say and I agree with most of it; Epic quests are not very epic. It’s more Epic amount of HP – where I (with a tier 3 GS holy rapier) smacked away at a KOBOLD for almost a minute and had to get help from tanks to kill it.

If by Epic you’re talking about Epic saves, Epic HP and Epic hit dice, it’s Epic alright. All so that I can open a Epic chest, get one Epic token and chance for ANY Epic seal or shard. That is so I can upgrade one of the items I have. Only problem is that by ANY I mean ANY. There’s currently three quest chains that offer Epic quests; Sands, Von and the new Sentinels. If I want spectral gloves I need to run a Blood offering and if I want Duskheart I have to find the right rare in the Sands wilderness. Which seems logical to me – these special items out of those special locations.

There’s naturally a grind involved trying to get those item – I tried for the longest time to get the spell storing ring and finally caved and bought it. But here’s the rub – I can get the seal, the scroll and the shard out of any quest. That sounds good in a way; I mean I can locate the ‘easiest’ Epic quest and grind it day out and day in until I pull the shard I need. The issue and the rub is that I can pull ANY – meaning the list of possible combination increases every time the release a new quest or quest chain with Epic level content. So in other words – the likelihood that I will pull any of the three items needed to upgrade ONE specific named item gets smaller and smaller, leading to an even worse grind than say trying to get the firestone greaves which only drops out a specific rare chest in the Wilderness.

On top of that the scrolls are dropped from mobs, open for anyone to snatch em.

Imagine a group where most will be fair and either roll for a scroll or give it to the one who need it. Imagine a raid where you might know some people but not all and try to get one person to give up their scroll. I imagine that for most cases people will be somewhat fair, but that’s not always going to be true.

I never felt that the quest was Epic – using subjugation or weighted weapons to stun opponents so you can gang up on one and grind them down is not Epic; it’s a tactic. A tactic based on save and attrition.  And the likelihood of getting one shard, seal or scroll is tiny at best.

I don’t mind certain grinds; shroud, quests because eventually you get something; but to run a quest and get low level non epic loot and a possible item to upgrade with and most likely not the one you want is underwhelming.

I thought Epic would be fighting large mobs against high odds and not uber HP opponents in what amounts to HP grind for the item grind that follows. At this pace I’ll be really old before I ever get my hand on something useful.

I’m disappointed for sure – I’d love to suit up to have the gear and resolve to run Epic but I’m wondering if I haven’t worked so hard to put together my item list and green steel stuff to feel like I’m doing this to win the lottery. And we know just how small that chance is to do that.

Holy fire and Acid

Its job is to stay out in the boiling sun and guard the pass from the undead out in the sand. The mirage of heat floats atop the ground like an ever changing sea. It sees people from time to time. Running into the sands and limping back out. It’s merciless out here. It sees something moving in the mirage. A spot running across the landscape. The sun glistening off its armor. It can’t tell if it’s part of the tribe or something else. Whatever it is pushes through the mirage of heat as it gets closer, leaving a steady wake of agitated sand behind it.

——————

The gnoll grunts. His rib cage explodes as the holy fire hits him and the shoulder guard flies off as the other rapier hits it and the acid slices through the thick leather that holds it in place. It’s death. Jaws snapping. My blade barriers rip the hyenas apart – grinding metal whipping up red dust as it spins its deadly blades. I deflect the fire blade as another Gnoll throws itself towards me. I dance. Holy fire licks across the blade – striking sparks. The other rapier with its sickly green blade sheeted in acid finds a weak spot. Vapor and ichor boils out as I pull the blade back. One step back than I leap.

An arrow deflects of my armor – it pulls the string back again. Growls. Leap of faith – its eyes get bigger as I sever its neck with a quick merciless strike. Searing light stabs from my hand like a vengeful lance. Incinerating the other shooter. Death. I leap off the hut – red rock slowly coming towards me. I tuck and roll, springs up like a coil and leap forward again. I take the three gnolls by surprise and leave them trapped inside a blade barrier while I dash away, arrows bouncing off rocks as the bowmen shoots at me from behind.

I get to the top. Their commander growls a command as he comes out of one of the huts. My firestorms engulfs they top in rolling above and their joint scream in agony echoes out between the ravines smooth walls.

The commander is still alive. Flames smoldering in its fur. Anger – skin boiled into cracked mosaic of pain – I leap. Defiance. Its hand melted around the hilt of its weapon. My rapiers like a pair of scissors; its last sound a guttural groan. The Gnolls behind me yelp as they die – coming to their leaders help entombed in the grinding magic and diced as they try to leave it.

The rock. Once red, now littered by smoldering carcasses and the huts ablaze. I pick through the rubble for the prized possessions. Will this be it?

And it spoke

He crawled around on the floor leaving a trail of crimson blood. Moaning. The mighty warrior that had ran ahead and dragged the group into danger.

The ranger sat in a corner nursing a broken arm – pale face and cold sweating. The white of his eyes glared in the dark. ‘Let…him…die’ he hissed through clenched teeth. The wizard slumped down next to the ranger.

The warforge stared at me – holding the door shut so that the critters behind it couldn’t get in. Our rogue were left dead on the other side of that door.

The dwarf kept on crawling. Going somewhere. Trying to understand why he laid there dying on the floor with his entrails dragging underneath him.

‘Help…me’ he whispered. Faint – his spirit at the deaths door.

Mercy is my deities trait. I heal, support and deal death. I don’t chose life over death – it’s something I do because my deity whispers it in my ear.

There was a great silence as if the force behind my strength pondered the question.

The dwarf had put its plans at risk. Whatever those might be.

‘Healer’ the flat booming voice of the warforged pulled him back into reality. ‘Decide – we need to save the rogue before his spirit have passed from this plane – we cannot go without him’.

The ranger objected but my deity spoke to me again. Death will sooner or later eat the dwarves soul. He will be abandoned by others for his lack of humility. But we need him here and now to move forward.

He shot me an angry look when he sat up again. The front of his armor ripped. Scales missing. Rusted blood dried into the edges. A slick pool of blood and ichors like a halo around him. ‘I will remember how long it took for you to heal me’ he spat.

‘I will remember that you said that when you need my help again’ was my reply. He knew the truth of those words. No one else said anything. We collected our minds. Healed – steeled and resolved.

And opened that door to save the rogue from death.

Death Walks

I stared at the ring. 4 million gold and it only provided a smidgeon of divine force. Like scooping your hands into a barrel of pure water to end up with enough to wet your lips. It pained me. So now I had to run in the dark of old tunnels looking for enough items to attune and add hardening armor to my shield; searching old tunnels for mushrooms and dust.

There was no challenge here. Small gray Oozes obliterated when my searing light hit them. I strangled a Kobold to death with one hand. His clawed hands scraped against the scale armor. Eyes bulging. Floor littered with other creatures from his tribe. His guttural yark echoed through the tunnels. Lonely and scared. It had seen me burn 7 of his tribe to cinders with a fire storm.

I didn’t pity the creature. They fed off weaker heroes that stumbled across them. They preyed on innocent people and dragged then down into the sewers at night.

It’s neck snapped and I dropped it as easily as I had picked it up. I didn’t kill it in malice. I felt no anger or no rage. Just annoyed. Annoyed that instead of facing the hordes of the Amrath or the critters of the Vale I had to skulk around in dank smelly tunnels looking for items to strengthen my shield.

Nothing heroic. Death came to spiders and Kobolds alike without much effort. They sprang at me – unaware that I was beyond their little minds to comprehend. Their shamen tried to hold me in vain. Tried to curse me. Tried to kill me with lightning that dissipated against my blue dragon scale with as much as a spark. The died – destruction evaporated them, Implosion pulled their corporal bodies onto themselves and vanished in a dark flash. Dead was instant, clean and painful.

Not even their leader could stand up against me. I swept them in front of me – swatting them like flies. Without malice. Without rage. I felt nothing – as if they were a afterthought – an annoying mosquito while looking for specific items.

All because I spent all my gold on a ring that couldn’t even wet my appetite for the divine force.

Death walked the tunnels – and soon enough the Oozes, spiders and Kobolds knew it and fled into the cracks and crevasses until death had gone.

In the end of the rainbow

The difference between a messy or a clean Rainbow in the dark run is the adjustments you do to a working plan to save some time and how it backfires on you and takes longer then it should.

Case in point; I figure I would just jump past the earth ellies in the first tunnel and pull and destroy the earth ellies and the rusties in the second. So my FoM graphics kept going off – I thought it was because some earth ellie in the second tunnel kept trying to grab me. Turns out that the earth ellies in the first tunnel can grab through the floor. But it didn’t bother me since I had Freedom of Movement on – until I failed to use destruction on the first beholder.

Right after I killed it and it had removed my buffs one of those earth ellies grabbed me for the fun effect of being crushed between four prongs of rock.

I survived – cast FoM, but was kind of miffed that I had wasted more SP to re-buff. And it didn’t get better from there.

Ever had one of those wonderful clean runs where every jump is perfect, blade barrier golden and you completed the whole thing in 20 minutes. And was rewarded by a twig?

Not this time. It was a ugly, hurtful slog from beginning to end. Stuck on mobs, harried to a crawl – heals and cures to stay alive. Destruction failed to work and I had to equip a sword to cut myself through Gnolls – but thankfully my implosion worked when needed.

It was 5600 SP worth of pain and suffering and 45 minutes of trying to drag myself through every fisticuff.

And in the end of the rainbow were some…pebbles.

I’d write a story about it, but it would make my ‘hero’ look like Jar jar Bings.

A New Invasion

A new invasion can be rewarding; it’s close to the portal drop off point in Amrath (but you have to gauntlet through thieflings, Orthons and Bearded Devils). And if the party wipes there’s a portal that opens up just at the beginning of the quest that’ll take you to a shrine right above the drop down to the bad guys chamber.

You got 1.30 to find holes in the floor to go through 2 floors and then eventually the boss chamber.

Word of advice – stick together. There’s plenty of nasty critters in here that’ll mince meat stragglers.

Optional chests drops large stuff for crafting (I just pulled a large devils scale) and you can find the different named items that you can pair up with the rings from ToD.

The mobs up to the end boss can be challenging dependent on the party but they’re controlled if you work and stick together. The end boss is the pain.

The first time I ran it the leader said that all we had to do was to run together and move when the ‘hole’ opens up underneath you.

About 30 seconds after we all dropped down the whole group had died. I guess he forgot to mention that the hole or the devil spawns curses that stops your ability to heal.

So one staid in while the others healed up and got back. The second time we tried another approach – running, putting down BB’s and run some more. It wasn’t a BB spam plan, more like res the fighter and run like heck kind of plan. Oh BTW – lay down some BB’s. Here’s the thing – as soon as the devil hits one of your BB’s he gets kind of p!ssed at you. And that’s bad news for a healer/support.

But me and the other FvS had a plan. We would drop down, spam BB’s, remove curse, heal ourselves and keep moving. And so we did.

The second time I ran it (just recently) I decided to go with that plan (the leader wanted us to run together and keep on smacking) because I knew the whole ‘let’s hit him’ doesn’t work so good for a group that lacks super DPS and work coordinated.

So I spammed BB’s – jumped over holes, removed curse, used my free cure light and heal for hits.

I set those up on 1 through 4 so I could hit them as quickly as possible without having to use the mouse. I admit that I didn’t res anyone – but true res takes time – and that means the devil will catch up with you and smack you down.

I also used a quickened remove curse as suppose to a remove curse pot. It can be devastating to stop for 1 or 2 seconds to drink the potion. All and all it worked out well – we got through the quest kind of quickly (missed a few optional chests) and I didn’t die at the final boss. The end results was 1 large devils scale and 2 different named belts. Not too shabby!

Bring Me the Head of Ghola-Fan!

http://ddowiki.com/page/Bring_Me_the_Head_of_Ghola-Fan!

 

I soloed this one a lot until I finally pulled Royal Guard Mask (duh!)

 

The whole thing from prepping to enter and the quest shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes (longer if it’s your first time) tops.

 

The critters you’ll fight are:

 

Outside (prepping)

Ogre

Huge violet slime (I think but it’s one of the large Oozes)

Glass spiders

Worg

 

Inside

Ogre

Bugbear

Worg

Training golem

 

Prepping means 2 things – one is to get there the first time (http://ddowiki.com/page/Map_of_The_Restless_Isles)

And the other is after the first completion talk to Ogre with an asterix (or star) above its head for a quick lift to the quest giver.

 

Presuming you just got to the quest giver I normally double back and kill off everything between the quest giver and Ghola-Fan’s compound, including knocking the front door down (high strength or some nice AOE like firestorm) and picking up the key the Ogre drops. Then I’ll teleport back (close to the compound is another straight to quest giver teleport guide), shrine up then take the same quick rout back to the compound without buffing (since its all clear).

 

The quest itself is fairly straight forward (and since there’s a lot of close quarter involved I usually team up with a hireling caster that can provide haste and there’s a level 19 one that also provide displacement).

There’s 3 stages to this quest – first being the longest and will probably stretch your SP, the second stage fairly short and the third no more than 2-3 minutes including the end boss fight.

 

 Pull a pet out if you have it since it’s a good distraction for most trash mobs on the way. First you move straight ahead until you see a double door that requires two sigils. (You either knock down all doors in between using high strength or ‘blow’ them up with a fireball or similar AOE).  I go right first. You’ll end up fighting mob after mob until you come to a door that opens up to a room where you go right or left. Left has a barred door. Haste yourself and tell your hireling to stay put. This is some kind of proving ground with 4 different traps. The reason why you tell the hireling to stay put is that otherwise he’ll follow you through all of it and most likely die.

 

The first is a swirly trap (rotating blades up out of ground), second is some kind of jump floor puzzle with blades in the wall if you step wrong. Third is floor stakes and fourth fire bolts from both sides of the corridor. If you have enough HP, bolt it. If you can disable and want to stay safe – disable. Me I bolt. At level 19 (then) and 20 (now) I’ll take some pain that I can heal.

 

There’s a door at the end of the gauntlet with a Ogre mini boss inside and bunch of other Ogres inide and the sigil and the key to unlock the barred door.

 

Now run and take the left hand side. You will again have to move through a bunch of trash mobs until you come to a double door with a lever. There are Ogres inside and 3 training iron golems. I usually set up a blade barrier before hitting the switch and let the golems destroy themselves in it.

 

Now run back to the middle door and place the sigils in their slots. In front of you you’ll see a spiral path down and a lever. If you hit the lever the guards along the path will be hit by blades. I usually drop down, bolt for the door and move on. When you open the door below you’ll run into an open area where you’re walk through a corridor with a floor above where Ogres will stand and shoot at you. I normally hurry forward to the next larger hall.

 

Here you’ll see Ghola-Fan inspecting troops (from a balcony above). Below is a larger group Ogres that’ll get very squishy when they run through a blade barrier. Looking towards the balcony there are paths to the left and to the right. Ignore the stuff on the left and take a right – and out of the 2 paths on the right pick the right most and then instead of going straight forward take the next corridor right. This will take you up a ramp to the floor above where you’ll find the Ogres that were shooting at you. At the end of that floor (via several short overpass bridges) you’ll find a door with a long corridor. Ignore all the rooms on the left and right and run towards the end of the corridor. You’ll find an Ogre mini-boss in the room at the end of the corridor with several other Ogre troops lined up. They won’t attack if you lure him out of the room and kill him, or kill him before he gets out of the room. Now open the chest by the shrine and pick up the key and rest at the shrine.

 

Run back through the corridor and drop down from the floor above to the path below and take a left. That’ll bring you back to the hall with the balcony. Again, take a right and pick the left pathway and it’ll take you up a ramp to an intersection. Left will take you to the room with the balcony (and a chest) and the right down to stage 2.

 

Stage 2 is shorter. You have to collect 2 more sigils (door ahead is locked) but you don’t have to fight through a lot of mobs to get to them. It’s essentially a short corridor, a couple of rooms (prison block or room with traps and Ogre shamen) and that’s it.

 

I usually go right first – at the intersection take a right towards the shrine room – clear it out, go back to the left and kill off all the shamen. If you don’t mind the traps, close quarter or spell them to death (no need to save SP since there’s another shrine in the room before this oen) pick up the sigil and the chest and go to the opposite side (left from the locked door). It’s a prison block with a central guard room. You can spring the prisoners and cause the guards to rush down and fight them, or go up blade barrier them to death, pick up the sigil and move on.

 

Either way – shrine up, buff and get ready for stage 3.

 

Stage 3 is quick. You have to go through 2 rooms before the throne room. The first is a room with beast men in it. Blade barrier or firestorm works great – the next is a room with Ogres in it – again blade barrier and fire storm works like a charm.

 

Last room is the throne room. You start the actual fight by talking to Ghola-Fan so bring out the pets and lay down some AOE effects like fire wall or blade barrier and start it up. As you do Ogres and his royal guards will rush in. Assuming you have enough DPS and spells the whole fight won’t last more then 30 seconds. I usually micro a couple of firewalls, mass heal, spam firestorms and a blade barrier or two. And presto – no more Ghola-Fan and royal guard.

 

You’ll find his stash behind the throne room. The first (as the DM says) is woefully mundane and is a stack of 4-5 chests with very little in it. At the end of the wall behind a stack of crates is a secret door that leads to the 2 quest chests and where you can find several named items including the royal guard mask with 1 teleportation clickie/rest.

 

Happy teleporting.

Rainbow in the dark

http://ddowiki.com/page/Rainbow_in_the_Dark (for the purpose of orientation you enter at the very top – north of the map)

 

I usually try solo quests with the following criteria’s

 

  • Quick – no more then 30 minutes or so
  • No use of mem pops or other hard to replace (costly) resources
  • No gold store hirelings – regular hirelings at the most and try without

 

The whole point is to accomplish the same goal as you could with a full group but don’t have the time nor interest in trying to find a full group to do it with. It’s not because I don’t like running with groups it’s just that for most part when I solo I try to avoid having to run something on higher difficulty and ignore certain optionals in order to complete as quickly as possible.

 

Having said that – quick in the sense that I want to keep it under 30 minutes can sometimes be accomplished by a full group a little quicker.

 

But it’s also possible that I end up using more resources when healing and supporting a full group considering that some really squishy players also like to get into the thick of it and mix it up, failing to leverage AOE’s (firewall or blade barrier) to their full effect. So what might be a wash (time wise) can actually end up costing me more considering the wider scope and the different builds in the party.

 

The primary goal of soloing is to accomplish a specific goal (like in this case getting a twig) without worrying about external factors; if I fail it’s my failure alone and not a burdon on a group.

 

Rainbow in the dark is one of those quests that’ll work well enough soloing. It’s fairly short – there are no puzzles that have to be completed by more than one person to move on.

You’ll be faced by critters you’ll find out in the Vale (more or less) that are slightly more potent than in the wilderness but that responds to the same tactics that you might find useful out there.

 

There are 4 other potential chests with the same kind of loot that you find in Vale rare quests. One will put you face to face with a beholder mini boss after you run through a tunnel with rusties and earth ellies and the other is a locked chest after several traps. The last 2 are behind a locked door with a puzzle and if you fail the puzzle you’ll drop through a floor with spears on the walls so you’ll probably die if you run it on hard or elite.

 

There are also 2 possible floor pressure point that’ll lock you into a small room with several fire ellies and a randomly placed trap that’ll teleport you to a lava pit with 5 or so fire ellies that’ll respawn if you don’t kill them quickly enough.

 

You’ll run into the following critters

 

  • Bats – the swarms will usually attack you from the first tunnel you walk into (after picking up the light scepter) and other one or two other tunnels.
  • Earth elemental – you’ll find them in most tunnels
  • Fire elemental – Fire traps and end boss
  • Rust monster  – rusties are random and usually found in the same tunnels as the earth ellies
  • Clay golem – they’re everywhere
  • Shadows – for some reasons there are 2 or so shadows at various point. Don’t know why. I guess they’re there to pester you if you don’t have ghost touch, spectral gloves, death ward or something to kick their @sses with.
  • Troglodyte  – can be banished and have a save against AOE’s (such as blade barriers)
  • Orthons and bearded devils
  • Scorpiona smaller variant that spawns when you pick up sigil and larger ones that can flesh to stone you
  • Troll  (can be banished)
  • Gnoll
  • Beholder  – one fairly close to the beginning and one mini boss at an optional chest
  • Gelatinous cubes

 

In order to keep it short and sweet I always avoid the optional chests and if you can you can also use the ddoor option (When you pick up the sigil you can ddoor back to the beginning and take the right path and avoid the spawns of Orthons and such from the sigil room to the door that opens by the sigil).

 

You don’t have to kill everything to progress – but you’re going to need to kill one boss to get a sigil and of course the final boss.

 

The first thing you run into is two tunnels – one with earth ellies (freedom of movement is a good thing to have). I suggest that you kill everything if you’re going to use a ddoor and if not you can safely run past the first set of stone ellies. At the end of the tunnel there’s a drop that takes you to another tunnel. You can find rusties here – if you do they’ll also be at the end of the tunnel where you need to jump up. Either blade barrier, pull and destroy or push through. Using blur can be beneficial or have high enough AC so the rusties miss. I had my blue scale dragon armor almost break once pulling rusties so it’s a matter of wanting to save resources or bold enough to bolt through it.

 

After you jump up there will be a dead person with a journal – pick it up and the wall opens. This is where you run into the first beholder at the end of a narrow path with pits of spears on each side. It usually faces the opposite way so I always try to use destruction on it before it has a chance to de-buff me. If not you can put on the silver amulet, take a few hits and go toe to toe with it.

 

After this you can either turn left or right. Left will bring you to the sigil and right to the door that need the sigil to open. Note that you’ll see contact sensitive pressure points in the middle of some intersections (I think they’re random). Go around them unless you like to fight fire ellies. From now on you’ll run into clay golems. My favorite tactic is to lay down an extended blade barrier and pull from all directions so I kill off the maximum amount of golems with as few resources as possible.

 

This is where you’re going to have a choice – you can go up a ramp into the room with a puzzle (and a floor that drops out if you fail the puzzle) or you can continue slog yourself towards the room with the sigil. If you go up the ramp and solve the puzzle on the back wall (note that there are lightning traps here) you’ll get 2 chests. There’s a merit to failing the puzzle and drop anyways – if you do it’ll take you up a short critter free tunnel (there’s one earth ellie below the drop) and you’ll end up at the top of the room with the sigil. Otherwise you’ll have to double back and take the long slog anyways.

 

The merit is that if you avoid the long slog, drop down into the room (fight bearded devils and Orthons and a final Orthon mini boss while getting shot at by trogs and than fight smaller scorps that’ll come through the floor) is that when you do take the long slog back you’ll only have to fight the critters once. If you take the long slog to the room and then back you’ll first have to fight yourself over there and then fight the spawns on the way back (remember the left and right intersection – that’s where you’re going, take the right one and place the sigil in a door).

 

In order to minimize time and resources it’s usually better to drop through the floor and fight the critters only once.

 

Note that by picking up the sigil bearded devils and Orthons will spawn into the quest to give you a good gauntlet as you move back. This is where blade barriers are king (Or use a ddoor to avoid it all).

 

I usually run as far as I can and pull as many critters as possible, lay down a blade barrier and jump around until they’re dead and banish or destruct any surviving critters.

 

You’ll find a shrine shortly down the right path (after the sigil door). It’s usually guarded by several clay golems and 2 gelatinous cubes (one behind a hidden door) and you’ll sometime run into a trap that drops you in the lava pit (as I explained before).

 

After this you walk into a tunnel with stone ellies and possible rusties and you either go straight forward (over a spear pit) or right (to get a key to open door beyond spear pit). This is a Gnoll area and I’ve found that a combination of blade barriers and implosions works good.

 

In the same room that you find the key there’s always a boarded over tunnel to the mini boss beholder (and loot chest). I never do it since I really don’t feel like buffing again and I don’t need the loot. Plus you have to run through earth ellies and rusties to get there.

 

After the spear pit you can go left or right again – left will take you to the end boss and right will take you to a room with a secret door and a chest at the end of a corridor with traps.

 

I normally just go for the end game. After a bunch of gnolls you come to a room below stairs with several pressure pads on the floor – some might be lit up around a holder for your scepter. The floor puzzle is very easy – start from the left with an empty colored circle. Step up one color, move to the next one and step up one color from the previous until you have the color of the rainbow. The first will be red and the last purple.

The end game isn’t all that bad; one very irate fire ellie with tons of HP but no other trash mobs to worry about. With bloodstone tier 1, 2 and 3 holy rapier and another rapier with ice burst, holy and maiming, I usually kill it off in 3-4 minutes (a little quicker if I decide to use searing light).

 

The whole ordeal shouldn’t take more than 20-30 minutes. Quicker with Ddoor.

 

Note the following:

 

I have 2800 HP and unless I run into the lava pit fire ellie trap it’ll usually last me till the shrine and then some. I also have the Favored Soul capstone reward that provides a free cure light clickie with an 8 second cool down. Since it’s powered by my meta’s (for free) I usually heal between 40-200 HP – which helps while jumping around over a blade barrier since you’re bound to take a few hits from all the critters (not to mention harried. On top of that I have the bauble with a major mem pot/rest clickie (average of 300 SP) and 75SP from my ring of spell storing. Unless the first beholder removes my buffs I can do the sigil and back in about 10-15 minutes.

 

So what do I do when I pull over a dozen critters and get surrounded and harried? Being surrounded usually means that you end up levitating on top of critters taking one hit after another. By using leap of faith I can usually pull away long enough for the cool down and leap again. It’s a very effective tactics whenever you get harried in any quest or wilderness.

 

Also – avoid using pets if you can – they love walking across fire trap pressure pads and the final puzzle pressure pads.

  

Happy twiggery.

The hunt

I sprint. Heavy armored boots clattering up a smooth ramp illuminated by green orbs. I see the outline of someone hiding in the shadows – my vision, enhanced by true seeing captures the glow of the Drow as it jumps at me. I skillfully sidestep and block the dagger with one rapier and sever it’s spine with the other. Holy fire slices through its body crashing into the leather armor with thundering force. I don’t have to guess if the Drow is dead – if it’s alive it won’t come after me again. The man scorpion raises itself on the hind legs – insectiod clattering of the legs sharp tip draws sparks as it stabs down into the rock. Pincers snap at me and I dodge – blocking another with both my rapiers before I slash across the exposed area under its pincer armpit. It draws ichor that freezes as the frost elemental power burns through its body and my other rapier stabs through the neck, severing most of it as the creature slumps to the right.

 

I’m past it – launching myself towards one of its brethren. My hireling screams behind me. Not in pain, but in fear. He dashes through the blade barrier without getting harmed as the Drows chasing him disappears in a mist of blood and torn flesh.

 

We run. The Drow chasing us. Relentless. The grinding of metal drowning in the growls and hisses from behind and the occasional sudden dying scream in pain as the unfortunate run into the left behind blade barriers.

 

My mind is steel. The pain in my exhausted body becomes fuel. Divine force boil inside me as my diety burn in my mind. Pushing me forward. Soaks itself in vengeful wrath.