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!