PDA

View Full Version : DDOCast Crunchy Bits Archive



Theris
11-17-2007, 12:10 AM
Welcome to the DDOCast Crunchy Bits Archive!

Hello everyone! First, I'd like to say that Sigfried (sigtrent (http://forums.ddo.com/member.php?u=7473)) and I love DDO. We've both been around since head start and plan on sticking with DDO for quite a while. We both wanted to contribute to the DDO community and thought the best way was by adding a weekly segment to Jerry's DDOCast, since we've been a long time fans of the podcast.

DDO is fairly unique in the MMO world: it is an online game built (mostly) around a set of rules and mechanics that were already defined in Dungeons & Dragons. Now we all know that most of the table-top rules have been altered for the intricacies of an MMO game, which is why DDO rules merit a close look into "how it really works". At first we thought the show should be for the "rules monger", but during its evolution we decided to give something to all levels of players. And thus Crunchy Bits was born!

What is Crunchy Bits?

Crunchy Bits is a segment on DDOCast dedicated to DDO tactics and strategy. Each episode contains information on the some aspect of DDO rules and mechanics, and then how to leverage them in-game.

What is Crunchy Bits Archive?

This my friends is a faithful archive of Crunchy Bits, complete with links to the DDOCast episodes that have Crunchy Bits in them and to our show notes. I will endeavor to keep this archive up to-date for as long as we are doing the show!

Crunchy Bits Episodes

(note: be sure to right-click and save the MP3s to your local computer)


Two-Weapon Fighting: Air Date 09.22.2007 | DDOCast #34 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/1879.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#2)
Two-Handed Fighting: Air Date 09.29.2007 | DDOCast #35 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/1906.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#3)
Armor Class: Air Date 10.08.2007 | DDOCast #36 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/1927.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#4)
Mod 5 Strategy: Air Date 10.14.2007 | DDOCast #37 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/1947.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#5)
Races of DDO Overview: Air Date 10.20.2007 | DDOCast #38 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/1976.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#6)
Ranged Combat: Air Date 10.27.2007 | DDOCast #39 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/1992.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#7)
Spell Casting Basics: Air Date 11.03.2007 | DDOCast #40 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2014.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#8)
Cleric Strategy: Air Date 11.17.2007 | DDOCast #42 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2071.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#9)
Bonus Stacking: Air Date 12.01.2007 | DDOCast #44 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2127.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#10)
Dynamic Duo: Air Date 12.08.2007 | DDOCast #45 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2146.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#11)
Intimi-Tanks: Air Date 12.23.2007 | DDOCast #47 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2181.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#13)
Battle Wizards: Air Date 01.05.2008 | DDOCast #49 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2244.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#14)
Saving Throws: Air Date 01.12.2008 | DDOCast #50 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2320.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#15)
Rogues >= Trap Monkeys: Air Date 01.19.2008 | DDOCast #51 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2363.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#16)
Combat Basics: Air Date 02.16.2008 | DDOCast #55 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2520.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#17)
4E Sneak Peek: Air Date 03.22.2008 | DDOCast #60 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2730.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#18)
Team Tactics: Air Date 03.29.2008 | DDOCast #61 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2761.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#19)
Barbarians: Air Date 04.05.2008 | DDOCast #62 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2808.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#20)
Paladins: Air Date 04.12.2008 | DDOCast #63 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2855.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#21)
Weapon Traits Part 1: Air Date 04.19.2008 | DDOCast #64 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2910.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#22)
Weapon Traits Part 2: Air Date 04.27.2008 | DDOCast #65 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2974.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#23)
Weapon Traits Part 3: Air Date 06.21.2008 | DDOCast #73 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2974.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#24)
The Art of Character Building: Air Date 06.28.2008 | DDOCast #74 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/3343.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#25)
Multi-Classing: Air Date 07.05.2008 | DDOCast #75 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/3369.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#26)
Special Forces Multi-Class Example: Air Date 07.19.2008 | DDOCast #77 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/3450.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#27)
Skills: Air Date 08.23.2008 | DDOCast #82 (MP3) (http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/3735.mp3) | NOTES (http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=127352#28)


Crunchy Bits Theater Specials


DDO Parody Commercial: MP3 (http://www.umberhulks.datadeco.com/CrunchyBitsTheaterDDOPromo.mp3)


Props to Jerry and The DDO Cast!

We want to say a special thank you to Jerry for having us on DDOCast! And also to Lessah, Rowanheal, Xiloscient, and Rehbus (if i forgot any other cast members, let me know!) for making us feel welcomed! If you haven't listen to the DDOCast podcast yet, give it a try at http://ddocast.com/

Theris
11-17-2007, 12:12 AM
CRUNCHY BITS EPISODE 1 NOTES: TWO-WEAPON FIGHTING

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST 34, SEPTEMBER 22, 2007
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/1879.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

THE BASICS OF TWO-WEAPON FIGHTING

The benefit of fighting with two weapons is that you get one or more additional attacks with a second weapon. The down side is that all of your attacks are less accurate.

When two weapon fighting, the weapon in your right hand is called the Main-Hand and the weapon in your left hand is the Off-Hand weapon. Equipping two weapons is as easy as dragging them into your hands from the inventory screen.

You can also make a set of two weapons using the weapon set slots. Drag the Main-Hand weapon first, then the Off-Hand weapon, then just put the resulting icon in your hotbar and when you click on it you will equip both weapons.

You don't need any feats to fight with two weapons, but if you do your main hand attack will be at -4 to hit and your off hand attack will have a -8 to hit. You suffer an additional -2 penalty for both hands if the weapon in your off hand is not a light weapon. Light weapons include:

* Dagger
* Short Sword
* Kukri
* Kama
* Sickle
* Handaxe
* Any weapon with the word "light" in the name: Light hammer, Light mace, and Light pick
* Special Weapons that specifically state that it is a light weapon like the Sun Blade

There are 5 feats in DDO that can be used to enhance two weapon fighting

Two-Weapon Fighting is the most important. It reduces the penalties for two-weapon fighting to a mere -2 to each hand, or -4 if you wield a non light weapon in the off hand. Fighting with two weapons is almost never worthwhile without this feat.

Improved Two-Weapon Fighting and Greater Two-Weapon fighting both add an additional off hand attack.

Two-Weapon Defense gives you a +1 dodge bonus to your armor class when wielding two weapons. Two-Weapon Blocking gives you two points of damage reduction when blocking while wielding two weapons.

So how many extra attacks do you get?

Any time you are fighting with two weapons your first swing is always with your main hand weapon. Your second swing is with both your main hand and off hand weapon. This is true both if you are standing still and fighting or if you are moving while fighting. If you have Improved Two-Weapon fighting your third attack (only while standing still and fighting) includes both a main hand and off hand attack. If you have Greater Two-Weapon Fighting your fourth attack (again only while standing and fighting) includes a main and off hand attack. This means the two weapon fighting style can give you as many as 3 additional attacks in a round.

INTERMEDIATE TWO-WEAPON FIGHTING

So we have talked about the basic rules for two weapon fighting. Let's look at making a character that uses this technique and some of the finer points of the rules.

In order to take Two-Weapon Fighting your character needs to have a natural Dexterity score of 15 or more. Like all feat prerequisites this only includes your starting dexterity, your bonuses from leveling up and any tomes you have used. It does not include any other items of spells that increase your dexterity. Two-Weapon Fighting is in turn required for all the other two weapon fighting feats. Improved Two Weapon fighting requires a natural Dex score of 17 and a base attack bonus of +6. Greater Two Weapon fighting requires a natural Dex score of 17 and a base attack bonus of +11 or higher.

If you want to take advantage of these feats you generally want to start your character out with at least 16 dexterity. From there you can usually use a level bonus to Dex or Dex tomes to get to the 17 required for the later feats. Many two weapon fighting characters are Dex -based finesse fighters because of these steep dexterity requirements.

Rangers are special. They get the three main two weapon fighting feats for free without needing to meet the prerequisites. This means a ranger doesn’t need high dexterity to use two weapon fighting. Levels 2 6 and 11 are when a ranger gets their free two weapon feats.

Another rule to keep in mind is that your Off-Hand attacks only get half the strength bonus to damage that main hand attacks do and since the Off-Hand weapon is a light weapon, it probably doesn't do a lot of base damage to begin with so those off hand attacks won't be quite as potent as your main hand ones are.

On the plus side, any buffs or bonuses you get that add damage aside from strength will be applied to all of your attacks, so a two weapon fighter gets a bigger advantage from inspire courage, divine favor, sneak attack and a wide range of other damage bonuses. Two weapon fighting is also great for characters who like to use effect weapons like wounding or banishing. Even though the damage on each swing isn't huge, every extra attack is another chance for the effect to hit your target.

Many classes can benefit from two weapon fighting. Rangers get the feats for free, Fighters can use their bonus feats to take them, Bards can take extra advantage of their combat buffs, rogues can get in many more sneak attacks, paladins can get more use from divine favor, barbarians can put their enormous strength to work for them. Pure casters are the least likely to use two weapon fighting since feats are at a premium and their fighting skills are weak to begin with.

Two-Weapon Defense is rarely taken. Anyone taking this feat would take dodge first since it applies to your AC all the time, but if you have feats to burn and want the best two weapon fighting AC you can get, you may want to consider it.

Two weapon blocking is generally considered to be all but worthless. You may as well switch to using a shield if you plan on blocking and get a much better DR value without using up a feat pick.

ADVANCED TWO-WEAPON FIGHTING

A great way to take advantage of two weapon fighting is by using off hand weapons that have a bonus that applies not just to the weapon, but to all attacks your character makes. Weighted, Vertigo, Shatter and Backstabbing bonuses apply to every attack you make, no matter if it is main hand or off hand so a Dagger of Backstabbing +5 in your off hand will give the backstabbing bonus to the +5 shocking burst rapier in your main hand. My own fighter uses this trick carrying a vertigo 10 light mace in his off hand and a high attack bonus weapon in his main hand so he can make powerful trip attacks that are accurate and do good damage.

Characters starting with a +0 attack bonus generally only get one swing, and then must wait a few moments to get another. However, if you use two weapons you will always get a second swing with both weapons. Since it does not require any BAB to take Two Weapon Fighting, this can be a great feat to start out a rogue or bard almost tripling the attacks you get at first level. Even if you don't have this feat a starting cleric or arcane caster may have better luck with 3 clumsy attacks than one normal one.

Slimes, zombies and held monsters are generally very easy to hit, and even without any of the two weapon feats you can get an extra attack on them with two weapons and are unlikely to miss. In the reverse situation, if you find yourself only to hit something on a natural 20 fighting with two weapons at least gives you one more chance to get lucky.

Theris
11-17-2007, 12:13 AM
CRUNCHY BITS EPISODE 2 NOTES: TWO-HANDED FIGHTING

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 35, SEPTEMBER 29, 2007
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/1906.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

If brute force isn’t working… you aren’t using enough!

You might say that is the philosophy behind players using Two Handed Weapons in DDO. On today’s Crunchy Bits we will hew into the mysteries of Greatswords, Mauls, Great Axes, Quarter Staves, Great Clubs and Falchions.

THE BASICS OF TWO-HANDED FIGHTING

Let’s start with the basics.

The essential trade off when using a two handed weapons is that you do more damage than a one handed weapon but you don’t get the defensive bonus from a shield while doing so. A shield can give you anywhere from 1 to 9 armor class so the sacrifice is not a small one. On the other hand no other fighting style can do as much damage on each attack.

You don’t need any special feats to use two handed weapons in general, although proficiency with the weapon you want to use is as essential as with all other fighting styles.

The first advantage of using two handed weapons are that their base damage, in most cases, is higher than one handed weapons. The Greatsword does the most average damage with 2d6, the maul and greataxe are close behind with 1d12, the Great Club is 1d10, the Falchion does 2d4, and the lowly quarterstaff is a mere 1d6 quite a bit less than many one-handers. Greatsword, Greataxe and Maul are generally the cream of the crop dealing lots of damage and in the case of the Axe and Maul having a X3 crit multiplier. Because two handers do big damage, high crit multipliers can really pay off. The Falchion is interesting in that it has the biggest crit range so while it hits softer, it bites deeply more often. The greatclub has few advantages to speak and is rarely used except against rust monsters on occasion. The quarterstaff is rarely used except by the occasional pure bard who lacks the proficiency to use any other two handed weapon but wants to take advantage of the other powers of two handed fighting.

The second advantage these weapons have is that instead of adding your strength bonus to the damage on each swing, they add 1.5 times your strength bonus to damage. The beefier you are, the better two handed fighting starts to look.

The third big advantage is tied to a feat. Power attack lets you reduce your attack value by 5 but add 5pts of damage to every swing. When using a two handed weapon the damage bonus from power attack is doubled! Often this trade off is not worth while for one handed weapons but with a two hander it’s a great trade off once you have a pretty decent attack bonus to offset the penalty. Enhancements that add to the effect of power attack are likewise doubled.

The fourth and final advantage are glancing blows. On your first swing of each attack sequence you make a separate attack roll against all the monsters standing in front of your character who are within reach. If this separate attack hits you do a little bit of damage to the monster. The three feats: Two Handed Fighting, Improved Two Handed Fighting, and Greater Two Handed Fighting all can enhance the accuracy, size and frequency of your glancing blows adding damage to both your main target and their allies.

INTERMEDIATE TWO-HANDED FIGHTING

Lets step up to the intermediate level and take a closer look at how to set up a character to use these weapons.

For starters, the stronger you are the better. None of these weapons can take advantage of weapon finesse, and all of the associated feats have strength requirements. There is no such thing as too much strength for a two handed fighter. I wouldn’t start with less than 16 if you want to take full advantage of this fighting style.

Power attack is almost synonymous with two handed fighting. The +10 damage bonus is one of the biggest available for a single feat. The key is you need a very solid attack bonus to overcome the -5 attack penalty that comes with it. This is another reason that dedicating a lot of attention to strength is important as it raises your attack as well as your damage. Ranger, fighter, Paladin and Barbarian all offer a great bab progression and much of the time can handle the loss in attack bonus without much trouble. Warforged and Barbarians also have an enhancement line to increase both the damage and attack penalty of power attack. A warforged barbarian with all the enhancements could have as much as a -11 to attack and +22 to damage. Power attack requires a 13 strength.

Glancing blows are a world of their own. No one is sure of the exact calculations because glancing blows are not in tabletop Dungeons and Dragons. We do know that the damage is somewhat dependent on your normal damage. So the harder you normally hit, the bigger your glancing blows will be. When starting out your glancing blow damage will generally be 1-3, but they can reportedly get as high as 30pts.

By default only get glancing blows on your first swing in your attack sequence and you don’t get them when you are attacking and moving at the same time. The attack roll for glancing blows is not known for certain but it seems to be about equal to your normal attack -5, each creature in your front arc is attacked separately and you may hit all or none of them. A separate damage number will pop up on each creature you hit.

The feat Two Handed Fighting increases your chance to hit with the glancing blows and increases the average damage a little bit. It requires at least a 15 str to get the feat.

Improved Two Handed Fighting further increases your glancing blow accuracy and damage by a little bit. This feat requires 17 strength and a +6 attack bonus.

Greater Two Handed Fighting is especially potent. While it does not seem to effect accuracy, it does add to damage a bit, but more importantly it gives you glancing blows on your fourth attack in your full attack sequence and lets you do glancing blows on your first attack while moving. This final feat requires 17 strength and a +11 attack bonus.

A raging barbarian with 42 strength, power attack with enhancements, and all Two handed Feats wielding a +5 great axe does 46-57 damage on every swing and glancing blows up to up to 30pts on the first and last swing. On a crit they could do as much as 171 pts. There are many characters that can do even better than that.

Nearly any class can use two handed weapons but Fighters and Barbarians are the most likely to take it up. Barbarians find it usefull for leveraging their massive strength and fighters can easily affort to take all the associated feats. That said nearly any character that wants to make the investment in strength and feats can make this style pay off handsomely. I’ve even seen sorcerers put a greatsword to good use.

ADVANCED TWO-HANDED FIGHTING TECHNIQUES

Let’s take a quick look at some advanced crunch

Currently the most touted two handed weapon in DDO is the Sword of Shadows. This legendary blade comes from Vela’s horde and is one of the raid items in the Vault of Night. It is a +5 Adamantine Great Sword, but what makes it special are its crit stats. Unlike a normal great sword it has a X3 crit multiplier, giving it not only a huge base damage but the largest crit range for an X3 weapon in the game. Running the numbers no other weapon has the damage potential of the Sword of Shadows except in particular situations against particular enemies.

Keep in mind that in DDO when you do a lot of damage you get a lot of agro. Two handed fighters are notorious for getting a lot of attention from monsters and without a shield your AC options are more limited. The general philosophy is that if its dead, it can’t hurt you so kill everything as fast as you can. Having a lot of Hit Points is the most common defense for Two handed Fighters, but tactics feats like trip and stunning blow are worth considering, especially since they also benefit from high strength. A good healer and a strong two handed fighter make good companions. A weak two hander and an inattentive cleric are a recipe for disaster.

Well that’s all for this week’s crunchy bits. Hopefully you are now better armed for the tough fights ahead of you. I want to give a shout out to Shade on the DDO forums for his posts on the topic of Glancing blows which I used as reference for that section. Next week we will tackle the flip side of combat and look at Armor Class, a deep and detailed topic in DDO.

Theris
11-17-2007, 12:16 AM
CRUNCHY BITS EPISODE 3 NOTES: ARMOR CLASS

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 36, OCTOBER 8, 2007
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/1927.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

This week on Crunchy Bits we will help you protect your Squishy Bits by penetrating the mysteries of armor in DDO. So call over your squire and let’s start suiting up with one of D&D’s most complicated mechanics.

INTRODUCTION TO ARMOR

Today we are talking about anything that goes in your armor slot on your character sheet. This ranges from the skimpiest Robes to the heaviest full plate to those funny docent thingies that Warforged use.

Armor comes in four basic categories:

* None which includes going buck naked, but also covers robes (and Warforged composite plating)
* Light armor ranges from padded to chain shirts. (and Warforged Mithral Body)
* Medium armor covers hide to breast plates
* Heavy armor ranges from splint to the ultimate heavy armor, full plate. (And Warforged Adamantine Body)

Armor category comes into play in two areas. Firstly armor proficiency is based on armor category. Anyone not proficient in the armor they are wearing will suffer attack penalties. Secondly armor categories interact with various class abilities and feats which only work in X category of armor or less. For instance, a ranger or rogues evasion ability only works in light armor or less, and a monk (when they show up) has many abilities that only work when wearing no armor.

Armor generally offers an Armor bonus to your Armor class. That sounds redundant but it’s important. Armor Class bonuses are generally “Typed” and bonuses of the same “Type” do not stack. So the “Armor Bonus” from a piece of armor does not stack with the “Armor Bonus” from another item such as “Bracers of Armor” or from spells like “Mage Armor”. Robes don’t have an inherent “Armor Bonus” but some robes do have one as a special feature.

Magic armor will generally have an “enhancement bonus” indicated by a +X number. This enhancement bonus increases the armor bonus of the armor by the amount indicated. So +2 full plate has a base armor bonus of 8 with a +2 enhancement so it gives you an armor bonus of 10 total. Enhancement values are always between 1 and 5.

Warforged work a bit differently than other races. Instead of wearing armor they choose feats that create armor they wear all the time. Composite is the default and they needn’t spend a feat to get it. It offers 2 pts of armor, has no dex penalty, 5% Arcane Spell Failure actually doesn’t count as armor at all in terms of what category it fits into. Mithral body requires a feat and is 5 armor with a 5 max dex, 10% ASF and counts as medium armor. Adamantine body is their heavy armor and is pretty much identical to full plate. Instead of equipping armor, Warforged use Docents which add an enhancement and other bonuses to their body armor. One neat thing about docents, is that like robes it takes only an instant to switch from one to another.

Armor takes a little time to put on so generally you stick with one set most of an adventure. Robes and docents are an exception and can be equipped almost instantly.

INTERMEDIATE: ARMOR PROPERTIES

Lets step up to the intermediate level and talk about other armor properties

The trickiest thing about Armor is the way it interacts with your dexterity bonus. Normally you get your entire dexterity bonus added to your armor class. Many armors interfere with your agility creating a cap on how much of your Dex you can benefit from. This is called an armors Max Dex score. What you want to do is find the armor that best fits your Dex bonus. What I like to do is think of armor as having a “total armor potential” or TAP.

Full plate and padded armor have the best TAP on opposite ends of the spectrum. Full plate is 8 armor and 1 dex, padded is 1 armor and 8 dex so each has a TAP score of 9.

A number of other armors come in with a TAP score of 8 ranging from 2 armor 6 dex (leather) to 5 armor and 3 dex (Brigantine / Breastplate).

Armors with a TAP of 7 are pretty much never worn beyond first level. Steer away from Chain Mail, Scale Mail, Half Plate, Banded Mail, Splint Mail, and Hide.

Of course getting the most out of your armor means you have the right about of dex to exactly fill out the allowed dexterity and it assumes that you can get armor of any type with the same enhancement bonus. Ultimately the best armor you can wear is the best armor you own, but because DDO has many shopping opportunities it’s good to know what you are looking for.

Many armors also have something called an armor check penalty. This is a penalty applied to physical skills (Jump, tumble, swim <which is doubled>, balance, hide, and move silently) while you wear the armor. Magic and masterwork armor always have their armor check penalty reduced by one point from its normal value. If you are not proficient with armor, the armor check penalty also reduces your to-hit rolls. Some armors will have no armor check penalty in which case proficiency is pretty much irrelevant.

The last trait to keep in mind is Arcane Spell Failure. This is a percentage chance that arcane spells cast in the armor will fail. This has no effect on divine magic like that of a cleric, paladin or ranger. Bards can ignore the ASF on light armor as one of their class abilities. This is the primary reason you don’t see a lot of arcane spell casters wearing much in the way of armor. Elves and Warfoged have some enhancements that can lower arcane spell failure and there are some items in the game that can also help with this so it’s not impossible to have armored arcanes casting without penalties.

ADVANCED ARMOR

And now for the advanced lesson

In addition to Armor Bonuses there are a myriad of properties that armor can possess and many of them have a big impact on what armor you choose to wear.

Mithral is probably the king of the armor properties. It is a material bonus and as such it doesn’t raise the level requirement for the armor. It is only found on metal armors and it has 4 effects. Firstly it lowers the armor category by one step, although never below light. Secondly it increases the max dex allotment of the armor by 2 points effectively upping its TAP score. This is the reason mithral armors are so popular. Thirdly it lowers the ASF by 10%. Finally it lowers the armor check penalty by 3. Mithral full plate, chain shirts, and breastplates are all extremely valuable.

Adamantine is another material bonus. It makes your armor extremely durable and gives you damage reduction against all physical attacks. Heavy armors get DR 3, Medium 2, and light 1. It’s a nice bonus but not especially sought after at higher levels.

Fearsome is one of my personal favorites. Like many other armor properties it has an effective enhancement value. This means it raises the level required to wear the armor. In the case of fearsome it is equivalent to a +3 enhancement bonus. Every time someone in fearsome armor is hit in melee, the foe must make a will save or become afraid, causing them to run away. Even if they succeed they become “shaken” which gives them a -2 to attacks and saving throws.

Twilight is popular with spell casters since it lowers the arcane spell failure of armors by 10%. Arcane is a similar property found on docents.

Elemental resists are also popular, especially on robes. They range from lesser which stops 3pts of elemental damage to greater which stops 30.

Elemental Guard effects can do elemental damage to monsters attacking you in melee.

Blueshine armor is not corroded by slimes and rust monsters.

Fortification is often found on armor and gives you protection from criticals and sneak attacks. 25%,75% and 100% from light medium and heavy fortification respectively

There are many other effects, but these are many of the most sought after ones. Finding the perfect armor for your character is usually an ongoing process.

Dwarves and Fighters have enhancements that can raise the max dex score of any armor they wear called Armor Mastery. Each line can advance it by up to 3 points so a dwarven fighter could raise their max dex by as much as 6 points. In Mithral full plate this could result in a TAP score of 22, but you would need a 28 dex to fill that out. By choosing armors and using these feats you can achieve the best TAP possible for your characters Dex score whatever it may be. When planning a character focused on armor class, figuring out what armor you wear and then planning your dexterity to reach the max dex mark is a key consideration.

If I were asked to pick the very best armor in the game I might go with the Kunderak Delving Suit from the Vault of Night. It offers a 10pt armor bonus, 6pts max dex for a whopping 16 TAP. It has only a 10% ASF and no armor check penalty. Beyond that it gives you a +5 to search and move silently rolls.

Ok, that’s it for this week’s Crunchy Bits. We’ve more than scratched the surface of Armor in DDO, but there wasn’t time to cover everything in detail. There are many more armor enhancements and the art of predicting your final dex is a nuanced one. Next week I will take a look at new rules in Mod 7 and what I think their impact is on character building.

Keep it fun keep it crunchy and have a happy Cinco de Modo!

ERRATA

Adamantine armor has a DR/-, meaning not much can bypass its DR. Meaning Adamantine weapons CANNOT bypass Adamantine Armor's DR. If there is no property which can bypass the DR, a "-" is listed after the "/".

Warforged Mithral Body counts as light armor and grants a +5 armor bonus, but also provides a 15% arcane spell failure chance, -1 armor check penalty to certain skills, and a +5 maximum Dex bonus. Mithral Body does NOT count as Medium Armor.

Dwarves in Mithral Full Plate have a TAP score of 22, but you would need a 28 dex to fill that out. Instead of a TAP of 20 and a Dex of 24.

Kudarak Delving Suit has an Armor Bonus of 5 with a Max Dex of 6. Its base TAP is 11. With Enhancements, its Total TAP is 16.

Theris
11-17-2007, 12:17 AM
CRUNCHY BITS EPISODE 4 NOTES: MOD 5 STRATEGY

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 37, OCTOBER 14, 2007
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/1947.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

Greetings everyone. On this weeks show we will be taking a look at some of the strategic implications of the rules changes in Mod 5.

ARMOR ERRATA

For starters, adamantine armor and shields grant DR/- which means adamantine weapons will not bypass it. Mithral body is actually classified as light armor, not medium armor as I stated. A dwarven fighter with full armor mastery actually gets 22 AC from Mithral Full plate and requires a 28 dex to fill it out. The numbers I quoted (20Ac and 24dex) are actually for regular full plate.

MOD 5 BASICS: THE NEW STUFF

Mod 5 brought in a fair number rules changes, some big, some small. I’m looking at these purely from the standpoint of what they mean for play and character building.

/Death is no longer available as a tool for removing status conditions. Apparently it was removed to prevent certain exploits rather than for pure game balance reasons. Personally I’ve never found it too hard to get killed if you need to, there are usually monsters or ledges handy if needed. Still, this could make solo play a bit more challenging than it already is.

Fortunately at the same time Turbine now has it that many more conditions are cured by resting at shrines. Blind, Feeblemind, and touch of idiocy all go away when you shrine so that gives you a few reasons less to need /death. Blindness has been the bane of many a low level character in Stormreach.

Apparently you can no longer tab target monsters that are unseen by your character but are lurking nearby. This of course makes the spot skill more valuable that it was and a consideration as a secondary skill pick for nearly any character. There are still tricks like using the reticle color to determine where hidden monsters are (it turns red when over a hostile hidden or not), but overall I think the change adds to the challenge and immersion in the game. On the same note they have apparently made listen more effective for detecting monsters, but since spot is more generally useful than listen, there is still almost no reason to take that skill aside from the very rare bit of listen based DM text.

An interesting change for clerics and paladins is that the number of turns they have is now based on your current charisma rather than your “natural charisma”. Previously it only counted charisma from tomes and level ups, but it now includes any modifier. This certainly opens up many more turns especially for paladins who tend to have a very strong charisma score. It also means it may be worth while for clerics with a lower base charisma to pick up turning enhancements as they can take steps to increase how many they have available.

Barbarians now have the ability to dismiss their rage. This is handy because rage prevents not only spell casting but the use of wands, scrolls, clickies and various other handy things. This means that it is much easier to play a caster barbarian mix than it was previously. I have a couple such characters myself and its always exciting to need to heal yourself only to remember that you can’t until your rage, and those last 5 hit points that are keeping you alive go away… (Kids remember your healing potions!)

Apparently Hobgoblins and Wolves are having their prestigious tripping abilities nerfed a bit. Hobgoblins now have to actually hit you and wolves are a bit less compulsive about using trip. This should make soloing a bit easier.

ENHANCEMENT CHANGES

First up Halflings now have two new types of Halfling Luck. Previously they had a line to raise their reflex saves. It was rarely used since a Halflings reflex saves are generally quite good to begin with. But now they have lines for will and fortitude, areas that Halfling characters are much more likely to be deficient in. It’s not a huge change but I’ve found it handy when making Halfling fighters and rogues.

Secondly Human Versatility became a lot more versatile. Taking this enhancement now gives you 5 different boosts to choose from although they all use the same pool of 5 uses and are on the same timer, so you can only benefit from one at a time. Now you can boost, skills, damage, attacks, saves or AC from 2 to 5 points depending on how many ranks you have. I think it’s a great pick if you have a human character with enhancements to spare. The bonus to hit or damage can be great for a big fight and the saves great for running a trap or facing a beholder. Each by them selves might not be worth while but together it’s a pretty compelling package for 10 AP.

THE BIG CHANGES: RAID LOOT & METAMAGICS

First off we have the new Raid Loot system. Turbine has made a big shift, taking the old raid loot system where the group leader distributed two fixed items, and replaced it with a system much more like typical chests. Every member of the raid there when the raid is complete gets an item generated for them. There is a 1 in 6 chance for each person of getting a raid item. If they do not, they will get a randomly generated item instead. On Hard and Elite the rate of raid items is a bit higher, as much as 1 in 4 in some raids on elite.

This was a controversial change. It means that small raid teams can no longer guarantee two raid items per quest and so it comes as a blow to those who were strong enough to pull that off. It also means that the individual player is now in control of the items rather than the group leader. Overall it means there are likely going to be less raid items in out there and they will be more valuable than ever. It seems a mixed blessing for the casual player. There are likely to be larger raid groups, thus more opportunity for a shot at raid items, but it is much harder for them to get one guaranteed.

Whether you like the change or not, its here and we all need to figure out how we want to use it to our best advantage. Personally it won’t change my play as I tend to do the quests more for the experience of it than the loot. I see raid items as a nice little bonus if I get lucky, not something I’m entitled to for doing the raid.

The change I am most excited by is the new Metamagic System. It used to be that all meta magic feats had a multiplier value to the cost of the spell. Not only that, but if you had more than one meta-magic it was a cumulative multiplier. They have scrapped that system in favor of flat additive values so each metamagic has a fixed cost no matter the level of the spell.

The most notable effect of the new system is that it heavily favors higher level spells compared to the old system. With the multipliers an empowered first level spell was 20 mana and an empowered 7th level spell was 80. With the new empower adding 15 mana flat, a first level empowered spell costs a bit more at 25 but a 7th level spell is much cheaper at 55.

It gets even more dramatic with multiple meta magics. A 7th level quickened empowered spell would have cost you 160 mana under the old system. It will only set you back 65 in the new one.

The implications for casters are quite dramatic. Lets look at maximize. This metamagic feat lets you double the damage on a great number of spells. It used to triple the cost of the spell, now it adds a flat 25 mana to the spells cost. If you look at them on a mana per damage ratio, the old system was never mana efficient. It was still handy for dropping monsters quickly but you were always doing less damage per mana than if you simply cast the spell twice. Under the new regime any spell costing more than 25 mana is actually giving you more damage per mana and making you a more efficient caster. This means any spell over level 4 is more efficient and more powerful with this metamagic active.

Empower is much the same but slightly less mana efficient. For 15 mana you get one and a half times the spell damage. This means spells level 6 and up are more efficient with empower turned on. For this reason Maximize is almost always going to be a better feat pick than empower. Of course with both you can do enormous damage and any spell level 5 and up is more mana efficient than without them turned on.

Empower healing becomes mana efficient at level 3.

Extend costs 10 mana and doubles spell duration so it is always mana efficient to use.

Expand and Quicken both cost 10 mana as well. They can’t be measured in mana efficiency but they are far cheaper than they were under the old system making them much more viable choices, especially when used with other metamagics, something that was prohibitively expensive previously. I think Quicken will become extremely popular with all casting classes, especially clerics wanting to cast near instant heal spells and much faster blade barriers and flame strikes.

Eshew materials now costs a measly 2 mana to apply to a spell. I was never much of a fan of eshew since it is easy and fairly cheap to buy components, but if you have feats to burn it won’t put much of a dent in your mana pool.

Heighten is the only metamagic that is essentially unchanged. It still raises your spell’s cost to the cost of the highest level spell you can cast, in trade for giving it a DC value equal to that level of spell. What is different under the new system is that additional metamagics no longer multiply that value so while it’s not cheaper, it’s much more viable to use it in conjunction with other metamagic effects.

It should be clear to any casters out there that this new regime is a massive boost to spell casting power. You can do more damage with less mana and all the other cool effects are much cheaper as well. This will open new doors to casting build that were simply unworkable previously and make any caster with metamagic more powerful than they were before mod 5.

Theris
11-17-2007, 12:18 AM
CRUNCHY BITS EPISODE 5 NOTES: RACES OF DDO

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 38, OCTOBER 20, 2007
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/1976.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

Greetings all, today we are taking a look at the race options in DDO with an eye for character building. Let me state from the start that any race can work with any class for just about any kind of build in DDO, but it helps to know their strengths and weaknesses and how best to leverage those when making a character. I’m going to skip over class abilities I don’t think are especially relevant to character building.

When looking at a race you are interested in 3 things: their starting stat adjustments, their racial abilities, and finally their racial enhancements. Generally you are looking to either find racial strengths that compliment class abilities, or you are looking for racial strengths to counteract class weaknesses.

HALFLINGS

Let’s start with the smallest of Stormreach’s heroes, the Halflings

Many folks think of Halflings as good rogues, but in DDO the only real rogue advantage they have are extremely strong reflex saves due to a starting dex bonus and having +1 to all saving throws. They do get a boost to stealth skills but those are largely afterthoughts in most rogue builds as stealth is of limited use in a party in DDO.

Halflings to lend well to defensive combat builds because their small size gives them +1 to AC and along with their saving throw bonus it’s a nice boost to any tank. They also get a +1 size bonus to attack rolls although this is somewhat offset by their strength penalty.

Many Halfling combatants are finesse builds since they are weak in strength and strong in dexterity. Because of this many Halfling characters rely on sneak attack damage or special weapon properties in combat.

Halfling’s do have a inherent +1 to attack and damage with throw weapons as well as a supporting enhancement line, but overall thrown weapons are not very powerful and they rely heavily on strength for damage, so characters built around this are generally novelties.

Halfling dragon marks are noteworthy. If you focus on them you can end up with a pretty strong line up of healing spells on any class so long as you have the feats to spare. This tends to work best with fighters and wizards since those classes get bonus feats.

HUMANS

Next up we will look at Humans

You can’t really go wrong with a human build. Their extra skill points and extra feat can add to just about any build. Their racial enhancements are also fairly versatile, letting you boost any stat and their human versatility enhancement is a nice alternative to class skill boosts.

Humans are nice for making a tricky multi class build. Because they have no stat bonuses or penalties its easy to spread build points without having a glaring weakness to make up. Their extra skill point means you can often short Int more than you could with another race, and the extra feat lets feat restricted classes like sorcerer have a bit more breathing room. Their human versatility boost also helps you shore up weaknesses in skills or offense, or just add that extra finishing boost to already high scores.

Humans are popular for DPS combat builds because no other race has an enhancement for strength. They are also good as clerics due to being able to boost wisdom and because cleric builds are often a bit tight on feats, yet can take advantage of both casting and combat feats.

WARFORGED

Now let’s take a look at Warforged, one of the most unique races in the game

The biggest factor with Warforged is that they are healed best by arcane magic rather than divine. This makes arcane classes especially attractive since you can heal yourself as well as any cleric, something arcane of other races can never achieve.

Racial immunities to poison, hold person, disease, drowning, and other effects are also very handy, especially for classes with weak fortitude saves. While items and spells are available to handle such ailments, having built in immunity gives them more versatility in their equipment.

Their immunity to fatigue and bonus to constitution give them a leg up as barbarians because there is no down side to their rage and it generally lasts a bit longer (since rage duration is constitution based).

Their body armor is a blessing and a curse. If you want other than the 2pt composite body you have to take a feat, and this can make some feat based builds difficult. The other down side is you can’t benefit from super swanky armor like Mithral Full plate and such. On the up side docents change out as quick as robes so you have some versatility there, and Mithral Body actually has a very good TAP score and can be enhanced with feats. Composite is also nice for arcane casters, its like leather armor but you only need spend two enhancement points to negate the arcane spell failure.

It is also worth mentioning a warforge’s access to racial DR. On a feat heavy class like fighter, and with the 2 dr built in with their Adamantine Body armor feat, and an enhancement line, you can build up a pretty strong passive DR profile, something unique to that race.

Warforged also get an enhancement line to enhance fighting tactics like trip, sunder and stunning blow. Dwarves also share this but it makes them a nice choice for a tactics fighter.

The Warforged penalty to Wisdom and Charisma makes being a paladin, cleric, sorcerer or bard more challenging than usual, and their bonus to Con is not especially useful for any class. Sorcerers can often sidestep this disadvantage by focusing on damage spells rather than DC based control spells.

ELVES

Next we have the graceful elves

Elves get a bonus to dex and a penalty to con making them graceful but not so durable. While con is not essential to any build it is helpful to every build and few characters can afford to simply use it as a dump stat. This means any elf character is going to be spending a bit more on con than they might like.

On the plus side their starting dex bonus and dex enhancement make it easy to create Two Weapon Fighting builds, ranged combatants and finesse fighters.

Elves get not only a +3 racial bonus to spot and search, but they have a racial enhancement line for them as well. Because these are two of the premier rogue skills elves are one of the easiest races to build strong rogues with. Those big skill bonuses give you some wiggle room with your stats, enhancements, and feats that other races cant access.

Elves also get automatic weapon proficiency with longbows, longswords and rapiers, all of which are good weapons. This makes them an interesting choice for a combat caster who doesn’t want to multi-class to pick up martial weapons. Elves also have enhancements to add accuracy and damage to these weapons.

Because rapier is a finesse weapon, and one of the best overall weapons in the game, and because elves get bonuses, proficiencies and a dex bonus, elves are a natural for finesse combat builds like rogues and rangers. This tends to be the elves strongest niche.

Elven wizards are popular since they have a wizard only spell point enhancement line, and they have an enhancement to remove arcane spell failure. Because of these and their combat abilities you sometimes see elven combat wizards.

DROW

Drow are close cousins to elves in building characters with a few exceptions.

First off are their stats. They get bonuses not only to dex, but also Int and Charisma which are unique to the drow. This makes then not only a strong choice for rogues and finesse fighters, but pegs them as first line choices for Wizards, Sorcerers, Paladins and Bards. Even more so than elves those three stats are often the most sought after for rogue builds so they generally dominate that class. Even 32pt builds of other races can have a hard time matching a Drow’s stat options if you are making a build focusing on Dex/Int/Cha.

Drow don’t get the longbow or longsword as racial weapons so they generally get passed over for Str based Two weapon fighters or archer builds in favor of 32pt elves, but for a finesse Two weapon fighter they are even more attractive since their enhancement works with short swords, often the perfect companion weapon to the rapier since they are both piercing and short sword is a strong light off hand weapon.

Drow don’t have the elves wizard only spell point enhancement but they do have the arcane fluidity, and their extra Int boost is certainly worth a few spell points for a wizard build.

DWARVES

Finally we have the mighty dwarf.

Many consider the dwarf to be the most powerful race in the game and there are many reasons why. First up is their defensive options. It starts with their constitution bonus, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. Next up we have their built in +2 bonus to saves against spells and its enhancement line that can take the bonus up to +5 fairly cheaply. Since spells account for probably 80&#37; of the saves you make in DDO it’s a huge advantage. Follow that up with the dwarven racial enhancement for toughness. This gives dwarves of every class access to as many as 50 extra HP, a godsend for many softer classes. Finally you have their Armor Mastery enhancement which raises the max dex of any armor you wear letting them hit heights of AC other races can only dream of.

On the offensive side, dwarves with a class granting martial weapon proficiencies are automatically proficient with the dwarven axe, normally an exotic weapon that has one of the best damage profiles for a one handed weapon in the game. Add to that their access to an enhancement line that adds accuracy and damage to any and all axes and you have a serious offensive boost. They also get bonuses in combat against giants and hobgoblins, two rather common enemies in DDO.

As if all that were not enough, dwarves get +2 on search rolls, a nice bonus for making rogues.

Their only real down side is a reduced charisma making it challenging to create dwarven bards and sorcerers, but far from impossible, especially since there are strategies for both classes that don’t require an especially high casting stat.

Interestingly Toughness and Armor Mastery enhancements are found both on dwarves and in the fighter class, and the fact they stack means dwarven fighters can reach amazing levels of AC and HP. They also get a tactics enhancement that stacks with the tactics class enhancements of fighter. For these reasons dwarf is a fighter’s min/max wet dream.

DEVILISH DETAILS LATER

Well that’s it for this weeks show. I had to be very general to stuff it all in but I think I covered all the highlights. Perhaps we will come back and look at each race in detail at some later date.

ERRATA - LAST EDIT 10/22/2007

- Elven racial bonus to spot and search is +2 not +3

- For Warforged, the requirement is 1 enhancement point to cancel the ASF from Composite body, not 2

Theris
11-17-2007, 12:20 AM
CRUNCHY BITS EPISODE 6: RANGED COMBAT

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 38, OCTOBER 27, 2007
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/1992.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

This episode was largely inspired by the excellent information Developer Codog shared with us all on the DDO forums. I want to commend that kind of feedback. One of the things I really like about DDO is that the rules are largely transparent and posts like these help us keep it that way.

RANGED BASICS

Before we get into all that he revealed lets cover the basics

Ranged combat in DDO is very different than Melee combat. For starters Ranged attacks use Dexterity to modify attack rolls instead of Strength.

The second big difference between melee and ranged attacks are the way the animations work. Melee attacks get a series of different animations, the number of which depend on your base attack bonus. Ranged attacks use the same animation over and over, but the animation itself speeds up as your Base attack bonus increases. Generally speaking ranged attacks are significantly slower animations than melee attacks, and to make matters worse, melee attacks receive a to hit bonus on their 3rd and 4th swings while ranged attacks get no such bonus making them slower and less accurate on average.

This slow attack speed is the real kill joy for any ranged attacker who wants to do DPS. With a few exceptions ranged DPS will always fall far short of melee combat. This doesn’t mean ranged combat is useless, it still has the advantage of letting you hit an opponent while they can’t hit you back and letting you hit otherwise inaccessible opponents. Personally I like having a decent ranged attack option for most of my characters.

Different ranged weapons behave somewhat differently.

Bows are the classic, they come in long/short and composite but the differences are small. Long bows do 1d8 base damage vs shortwobs 1d6. The Composite designation is currently meaningless in game. Bows do not normally offer a damage bonus from strength. If you have a strength penalty however it reduces your damage. If you have a level of ranger you get Bow Strength which lets you add your strength bonus to damage. Bows have the most options for making their attacks more powerful so this is the choice of most dedicated ranged combatants.

Crossbows are available to almost all classes. The biggest difference they have is that their damage rolls are never effected by Strength. This makes them a decent choice for low Str characters just starting out. Generally crossbows are much slower to fire than bows so despite their slightly higher base damage (1d12 for great, 1d10 for heavy, 1d8 for light) they are not a strong damage weapon overall. Repeating crossbows require exotic weapon proficiencies to use but have a much faster rate of fire. They get three very quick shots before you must reload them and at early levels are actually a bit faster than melee attacks. If you are set on crossbows, I can’t recommend repeaters enough.

Thrown weapons are nice in that they add Strength to damage, and weapon proficiency is based on the type of throw weapon. Since anyone can use daggers, thrown daggers are a nice default ranged weapon. Returning thrown weapons are fairly common and very handy since they never run out of ammunition. Thrown weapons are a great choice for fighters or other strong characters who want to make no investment in ranged combat but still want the option on occasion.

Another unique property of Bows and Crossbows is their use of ammunition

Bows use arrows and crossbows use bolts. The way bonuses stack between magic weapons and magic ammunition is interesting if a bit complicated. Generally any similar bonus on them will not stack, as where any dissimilar bonus will. The “Pluss” or enhancement bonus on ammunition and weapons do not stack, the largest of either will be used. Special effects stack so long as they are different. As an example…

A +2 Acid Longbow of Holy Burst & +5 Flaming Arrows used together works like a:

+5 Acid Flaming Longbow of Holy Burst

A +3 Flaming Burst Crossbow of Destruction & +1 Flaming bolt of Destruction becomes:

A +3 Flaming Burst Crossbow of Destruction (basically the bolt is doing nothing for you)

By combining ammunition effects you can actually get more effects than a regular weapon but it only lasts as long as your ammunition holds out.

In generally it is hard to stockpile large amounts of any ammunition, but if you get sufficient house D favor you can buy a number of useful types of ammunition from their favor based vendor.

RANGED CLARIFICATION

Confusion abounds when it comes to feats interacting with ranged weapons, fortunately this is an area Codog was able to clear up somewhat in his posts.

For starters, Bows and Crossbows are considered “Ranged” weapons for feat purposes, so Improved Critical “Ranged”, Weapon Focus “Ranged” etc apply to them. Thrown weapons are their own category “Thrown” (ala Weapon Specilization “Thrown”. Even though arrows and bolts do piercing damage, “piercing” feats do not effect them as they are not “piercing” weapons, same goes for thrown weapons which do a variety of “damage types”. This can get a bit confusing as the “Types” mean different things in different contexts.

A few feats work with all of the ranged weapons

Point Blank Shot gives a +1 bonus to attack and damage when up close and personal, and is a prerequisite for many other ranged attack feats.

Precise Shot requires point blank shot and lets you hit your selected target even if there are intervening monsters which would normally be hit instead.

Improved Precise Shot requires Precise Shot, Point Blank Shot, Dex 19, BAB 11 and lets you hit every monster your missile weapon passes through which can be quite a boon.

Shot on the Run requires Dodge/Mobility/Point Blank Shot/Dex 13/BAB 4 and eliminates the -4 attack penalty for moving while attacking with ranged weapons.

Rapid Shot requires Point Blank Shot and Dex 13, and increases the rate of fire for all ranged weapons to some extent. It was though this feat only worked with bows but developer Codog has said it effects all classes of ranged weapons.

Some feats only work with bows.

Bow Strength isn’t a feat anyone can take, it only comes from your first level or ranger. It works only with bows allowing you to add your strength bonus to damage.

Manyshot is a bow only feat that requires Dexterity 17/Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot and BAB 6. It is a timed activation ability that lets you fire two arrows with every shot, this increases to 3 at BAB 11 and supposedly to 4 at BAB 16.

It is worth noting that rangers get all of the all purpose ranged feats (except point blank shot) and all of the bow only feats as automatic bonus feats as they level up, culminating in improved precise shot at level 11. This is why they are often considered the preeminent ranged combat class.

Rapid Reload is the one feat that only works with non-repeating crossbows. According to developer Codog the fact it does not work with Repeating Crossbows is a bug and should eventually be addressed. It has no prerequisites and decreases the time of the reload animation for crossbows. The effects here stack with Rapid shot.

Quick Draw specifically speeds up thrown weapons by decreasing the time of the animation of drawing them. These feats effects also stack with Rapid Shot.

In addition to feats, there are a number of enhancements and game effects that can enhance ranged combat. Attack speed boosts and effects like haste or alacrity effect ranged combat normally. Halflings have a line or thrown weapon enhancements, Drow have enhancements for shuriken, Elves have a line for longbows, and dwarves benefit from their axe enhancements when using thrown axes.

MANAGING RANGED COMBAT

There is a bit more to ranged combat than simply knowing the rules for it.

You can make ranged attacks both targeted and untargeted and each has its advantages. Targeted attacks need not be aimed all that carefully beyond pointing in the general direction of your foe. This is great when you are moving around or simply don’t have time for careful aim. Untargeted ranged attacks have the advantage of going exactly where you aim them. This lets you hit monsters you can’t normally target hit or with improved precise shot lets you aim center of mass on a pile of monsters without tabbing through to the one in the back. Untargeted attacking is also quite useful for shooting barrels levers or other inanimate objects.

It is quite difficult in DDO to hit moving targets. If something is moving quickly parallel to you are never going to hit it with a targeted attack and your only chance (slim though it be) is to lead the target. Personally I don’t generally even try and will simply wait for the target to get to where it is going, or move somewhere so that it is moving towards or away from me.

Hitting targets requires a clear line of sight from you to the monster. Sometimes there will be invisible obstacles (because objects have a hidden square border around them a bit bigger than the object appears. Also the line on a targeted creature is not to every edge but some central point. So just because you can see something doesn’t mean for sure you can actually hit it.

Two popular tactics with ranged combat are “Duck and Shoot” and “Kiting”. Duck and Shoot is when you are fighting a monster in a fixed location (usually archers or spellcasters) and you have a wall or other object to duck behind. You time your attack so that you pop out, shoot, and then pop back into cover before you are attacked back. Since they keep shooting at you in a predictable rhythm you can take them out with little chance of getting hit. Kiting is used against opponents without ranged attacks. The idea is you run just a bit faster than they can and shoot at them as you do so (kind of like flying a kite).

You really don’t want to be using ranged weapons when monsters are in melee range with you. Generally you just aren’t going to out damage them and you suffer a -4 penalty to your AC against melee attacks while holding the ranged weapon. The only exception is thrown weapons, which also have the advantage of letting you use a shield while wielding them. None the less you are almost certainly going to do more damage in melee with a melee weapon.

Currently there are some serious bugs with ranged weapons. These are caused by the fact that the time it takes for your client and the server to communicate is often slower than the time it takes you to make a ranged attack. With melee combat this is less a problem since the only question is if the monster is close enough to be hit. But with DDO tracking projectiles moving through space and getting intercepted by intervening objects and creatures the whole thing can bog down and get mixed up resulting in attacks that never fire off or attacks that hit long after they appeared to strike their target. According to Codog you can avoid the worst of these problems by not using Auto attack and manually firing off your shots, something I would recommend anyhow because you have better control over what you shoot at.

Remember there is generally no reason to hammer the attack button any faster than you actually shoot your weapon. This behavior often leads to you shooting at dead targets or empty air instead as queued up attacks fire off. So do yourself and your mouse a favor and take it easy.

Ranged attacks are most useful in DDO when you use them while soloing as a way to avoid taking damage, or when in a tight knit group that coordinates their attacks. They are often detrimental if you simply run around shooting random like a madman while your group attempts to clean up the mess you are making. Be aware of what your team mates are doing and talk to them about your tactics. A team of strong ranged attackers can make quick work of tough encounters. A team of disorganized archers will only make quick work of themselves.

Theris
11-17-2007, 12:21 AM
CRUNCHY BITS 7: SPELL CASTING BASICS

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 40, NOVEMBER 3, 2007
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2014.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

Hi all. Today I will try to enchant you with the crunchy side of spell casting basics. This isn’t so much about tactics as learning how the spell mechanics work.

PRIME CASTING ABILITY SCORE

Each class of spell caster has a prime casting ability score. Wizards use Intelligence, Sorcerers and Bards use Charisma, Clerics, Paladins, and Rangers use Wisdom. This stat effects you in three ways. First of all you can only cast spells of a level equal to your casting stat minus 10. So a Wizard with 12 int can only cast second level spells. Secondly you get bonus mana for having a high casting stat, the more the better. Finally your prime casting ability bonus is added to your spells DC values (more about that later).

CASTER LEVEL

Caster level is an important concept. Caster level is your class level in the class that allows you to cast the spell. So a wizard 5 / Cleric 2 has a caster level 5 when casting a wizard spell and caster level 2 casting a cleric spell. The spell casting abilities of two different classes almost never help each other in DDO. This is why you rarely ever see characters with multiple spell casting classes. The only benefit most casters share is that both classes contribute to their mana pool.

MANA OR SPELL POINTS IN DDO

Spell casting in DDO is very different than regular D&D. I won’t go into the PnP rules but in DDO you can cast any spell you have prepared so long as you have enough mana. Your mana pool is determined by a few factors. All the spell casting classes get a certain amount of mana for each class level. Clerics, Wizards, and Sorcerers get a bit of extra mana on their first class level in the form of a feat called “Magical Training” if they don’t already have it. There are also enhancements, feats and items that can add to your mana pool.

Casting costs for spells start at 10 for first level spells and goes up by 5pts per level after that. Meta magics generally add a flat additional cost when they are active.

COOL DOWNS AND CASTING TIME

Different spells are faster to cast than others. Some are nearly instantaneous, some quick, others take up to a couple seconds to cast. Sorcerers cast all spells a bit faster than other classes and the quicken spell feat can decrease casting time.
All spells also have a cooldown time, which is a delay from when you cast it to when you can cast it again. Generally the higher level the spell, the longer the cooldown, but some spells have especially short or especially long cool down times. Sorcerers in general have shorter default cooldown times on their spells than other classes.

SAVING THROWS

A saving throw is a d20 roll you make to avoid something bad happening to you. Many spells allow your target to make a saving throw to avoid or reduce its effect. Saves come in three types, Fortitude, Reflexes, and Will. Different classes and different monsters have different strengths and weaknesses on these. Often you can tell just by the look and feel of the monster what it is good at. A troll for instance is very tough so its fortitude is high. It likely is not super agile so its reflex is probably only decent, and its not especially wise or strong willed so its will save is likely poor. That said, everything will have a better save the higher level it is so even the clumsiest 20HD giant will have some kind of reflex save.

To make a saving throw you roll against a Difficulty Class or DC number. Keeping your Spell DC values high means it is harder for monsters to resist your spells. DC is calculated like this:

Base 10 + the level of the spell you are casting + the bonus of your prime casting stat + bonuses from feats or abilities,

The upshot of this is that high level spells are harder to resist and your DC values are very dependent on your casting stat.

Some damage spells do not allow saves, while most others do half damage even if the target saves. For this reason casters focusing on damage spells needn’t worry as much about their DC values. Most of the powerful crowd control spells are ignored by a successful save so crowd control casting is very DC dependent.

Like attack rolls, saving throws always fail on a 1 and always succeed on a 20 so no spell is ever hopeless or guaranteed if it allows a saving throw.

There are various items and feats that grant “focus” in a particular school of spells, which raise your DCs by one for regular spell focus and 2 for greater spell focus. These stack except that focus bonuses from items do not stack with other item bonuses. The feat Heighten spell can also raise the DC of your lower level spells to be the same as the highest level spells you can cast. This can be a big boost for high level casters but the spell cost likewise becomes equal to your highest level spell.

SPELL RESISTANCE

Spell Resistance is a special ability that makes a creature less likely to be affected by any hostile magic. It is represented by a flat number, usually 10 or more. Whenever a hostile spell is cast on the target the caster must make a spell penetration roll, and get a higher result than the target’s spell resistance value. The roll is 1d20 + Caster Level + bonuses from feats, items and enhancements pertaining to overcoming SR. You can see from this that as you face higher level casters you need to keep spell resistance high as well. It is worth noting that in general, damage spells in DDO ignore Spell Resistance and spell resistance doesn’t come into play when casting beneficial spells on your allies. There aren’t any items I know of that raise spell resistance but there are a number of items that grant you a flat SR value. There are a number of ways to increase spell penetration. Most casters get an enhancement line that does this, there are spell penetration feats, and spell penetration items. All of these stack except that items do not stack with each other.

TYPES OF SPELLS

Arcane Spells vs Divine Spells: Arcane spells are cast by Arcane Casters. Wizards, Sorcerers, and Bards are all arcane casters, as where Clerics, Rangers and Paladins are divine casters. Even if a wizard and cleric have the same spell (Resist Energy) for example, the one cast by a wizard is arcane, and the once cast by a cleric is divine.

The biggest difference in DDO is that arcane spells are subject to Arcane Spell Failure: a property of armor that gives each spell a chance of failing. Divine spells are not susceptible to this at all. This applies to casting spells from scrolls as well so it’s important to know if a scroll you have is divine or arcane (what kind of caster made it).

Bards have a special ability where they can cast bard spells in light armor and ignore the arcane spell failure. Keep in mind this does not apply to the ASF from shields and it only applies to spells known as a bard and not spells they have from other classes or spells from scrolls.

Spell Schools, can sometimes be important. Each spell has a school such as Illusion, Enchantment, Necromancy etc… These come in to play via items, feats and abilities that grant bonuses to casting such spells or bonuses to resisting such spells. I won’t get into what each school represents but suffice to say that spells in a school tend to have a conceptual theme and occasionally similar mechanics.

I also like to divide spells by function. For me there are three main types of spells.

DAMAGE SPELLS

Spells that are those designed to kill monsters by dealing damage. With these spells saving throws are not especially important because many of the spells have no save and many others still do half damage when a save is made. Caster level often does play an important roll since many of the damage spells do more damage if you are higher level. Damage only spells are never effected by spell resistance, making them more reliable at high level.

Most casters who want to use damage spells should look into augmenting the damage in as many ways as possible because at high levels the monsters have a great many hit points. If you can’t kill a monster in one to three casts you should probably not cast at all unless it is an end boss or the like. There are three main ways to increase spell damage. Spell damage enhancements, items that boost spell damage, and metamagic feats. Ideally you should seek to use all of these in combination because each stacks with the other. Keep in mind item spell damage bonuses do not stack with one another even if they have different names or come from different types of items. So potions of efficacy do not stack with a helm of potency etc...)

It is generally easiest if you choose one or two damage types to focus on. For most casters fire/ice is the default choice because there are so many spells that do that kind of damage and most monsters that can resist one of those are vulnerable to the other.
Reportedly the damage calculation works like this…
((Base spell damage * (multiplier from enhancement + multiplier from item) * Total Multiplier from Feats ) * multiplier from Critical


Spell criticals have two components. First is a chance for a critical which starts at 0&#37;, and second is a multiplier which starts at 1.5 and is applied to the damage if a crit is rolled. So far as we know the crit chance is a straight percentage and there is not crit+confirm system like for weapon damage. Spells that create multiple independent sets of damage like the rays from Scorching Ray or the Missiles from Magic Missile each have a separate chance to crit. Persistent damage spells like Wall of Fire or Blade barrier seem to crit on every damage tick or on none. Empirical testing has revealed that all damage spells never roll ones or twos on their damage dice. So a spell that does 1d6 damage per caster level isn’t doing 1-6 but 3-6 damage. Healing spells work exactly like damage spells, and they can damage undead creatures.

BUFFING SPELLS

Buffing spells are those you cast on yourself or your allies to make you stronger or heal ailments of various kinds. Here spell resistance and saving throws are irrelevant. Caster level can matter because duration is often based on caster level, and a few spells like Resist Energy get better at certain levels. Pretty much the only way to enhance buffing spells is to take the extend spell feat to make them last longer.

CROWD CONTROL

Crowd Control, or CC spells are those you cast on a monster or effect monsters in the area of the spell by doing something to them other than dealing damage. They generally are effected by spell resistance and generally include a saving throw to avoid the effect. This makes Crowd Control the domain of dedicated casters since both your caster level and your prime casting ability need to be cranked up or the spell may well prove useless.

There are actually many kinds of CC spell: charms, instant kills, mezs, holds, and debuffs.

Insta kills are among the most powerful since it kills the creature outright.
Holds are probably second best in that they totally immobilize the creature until it breaks free or is killed often making it helpless in the mean time. Charms make the creature fight for you, which can be very powerful, but also dangerous if not used carefully, and you must still deal with them after the charm wears off. Mezs (short for mesmerize) make creatures immobile so long as they are not attacked. These are still very useful but doesn’t actually help kill the creature. Debuffs are probably the weakest category but some are quite potent if used wisely. They reduce a monsters abilities in some way so that they are less dangerous. Debuffs often don’t have saving throws but this is not always true.

Once again I face the inevitable wall of time and this Crunchy bits comes to a close. In the next show I will divine the secrets of clerics and their many forms and strategies. Until then, may the Crunch be with you.

Theris
11-18-2007, 02:52 AM
CRUNCHY BITS #8: CLERIC STRATEGY

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 42, NOVEMBER 17, 2007
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2071.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

Few classes spark quite as much debate as the Cleric. As one of the “core four” classes in D&D clerics and priests have been a stable of RPG games since day 1. Their essential role is best described as a Defensive Spell caster but in most people’s minds Healing is their #1 roll in a well rounded group.

In the 3rd edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the designers of the game sought to bring a lot more flexibility to the Cleric and as a result they are often considered one of the most powerful classes alongside druids among the munchkins and min-maxers set. In DDO the cleric retains nearly all of their PnP flexibility and you can make pure clerics that play totally differently from one another.

I think of clerics as having three primary directions they can focus on: Support Casting, Offensive Casting, and Martial Combat.

Most clerics feature some combination of these qualities, usually strongly supporting one or two elements, but the baseline cleric would be decent at all there. Let’s take a look at each of them in order.

SUPPORT CASTING CLERICS

This is the “traditional” cleric role in D&D and what first comes to mind when you say Cleric. When a party is searching specifically for a cleric, this is often the party roll they are looking to fill. And among all the elements of support casting, healing is definitely the thing people are most interested in. No other class in the game can heal as powerfully as a cleric can. Between their massive range of spells and their full featured healing enhancements no one can match them.

But there is more to support casting than just healing. Clerics have a range of handy buffs that help protect the party from condition effects and to grant all kinds of combat bonuses.

Support casting requires the least amount of investment to be good at. The core healing enhancements are fairly cheap, clerics get bonus healing spells slots at every spell level, Heals and Buffs are not DC or SR dependent so Caster Level and high Wisdom are not essential to being effective.
It is certainly possible to go all out on healing and spend nearly every character option on it, but hyper specializing in this area can be overkill.

In DDO charisma can play a strong role in making a cleric a stronger support character via the alternate turn uses, many of which are oriented to healing mana or hit points. This is often the secondary ability focus pure support clerics.

Most support clerics choose Mental Toughness, Extend Spell, and Empower Healing as core feats although there are certainly others that can help.

Multi classing is not common for a healing focused cleric but you do see folks splash sorcerer for spell points, bard for umd access, or wizard for an extra meta magic.

Race wise the door is wide open, although dwarves get extra mana and drow can have a higher charisma score.

OFFENSIVE CASTING CLERICS

While they lack the deep spell selection of arcane casters, clerics have some very strong Damage and Crowd Control spells in their arsenal and a cleric can be specialized to cast both types of spells effectively.

Offensive casting clerics are much more concerned about Caster Level and maintaining as high a Wisdom score as possible to ensure their CC spells are effective. Even damage casters have to consider Caster Level to maintain max spell damage and to gain access to the more powerful damage spells such as blade barrier and Comet fall.

Damage and CC clerics tend to differ in feat choices. Damage casters are likely to pick up Empower and/or Maximize spell, as where CC clerics may well take spell penetration or Spell Focus (enchantment evocation and necromancy are the popular schools). Interestingly the damage casters can also make powerful spot healers since the damage feats work on most healing spells (but not the spell Heal). Both flavors of caster cleric are likely to want mental toughness and improved mental toughness. Quicken spell is also an attractive option, as is heighten for a control caster.

There really aren’t many enhancements to support damage casting. There is a “good” damage line but it doesn’t affect very many spells, and aside from spell penetration there are no enhancements to help with control casting. Focusing on spell point enhancements is probably the most common focus for casting clerics.

Key damage spells are: Blade Barrier, Comet Fall, Searing Light, Nimbus of Light, and Flame Strike. Key control spells are: Comet Fall, Greater Command, Symbol of Fear, Symbol of Persuasion, and Sound Burst.

Casting Clerics are least likely to multi class and only humans have any advantage in potential wisdom scores. A damage focused caster might go dwarf for the extra mana from the dwarven faith enhancement.

MARTIAL COMBAT CLERICS

Ahh, the battle cleric. Few phrases inspire such respect or trepidation depending on who you ask or which battle cleric you play with. This can be a road to ruin for a weak player, or a road to glory for a skilled one. There really is a scale on battle clerics from the pure cleric with decent combat stats, to multi-classers who are really more tank than cleric in terms of party roll.

The reason cleric lends itself well to martial combat is three-fold. For starters they get a better BAB progression than the arcane casters. Secondly they have proficiency in, and can cast freely while wearing heavy armor and shields. The capstone is that they have a couple of very strong self only combat buffs in Divine Favor and Divine Power. Divine Power is especially potent giving them +6 Str and giving them the same BAB as a fighter their level. Divine Favor is no slouch either, giving a high level cleric a +3 luck bonus to attack and damage rolls.

To function in combat most martial clerics sacrifice Wisdom and Charisma to some extent in favor of Strength and Constitution. Just how much they do this varies but most serious battle clerics shoot for at least 16 starting Str, and many put their level ups into strength as well. Since any cleric can cast DF and DP, this focus on Str and Con is what really defines a martial cleric from a caster or support cleric.

Martial clerics tend to pick up feats to support the combat side of their character such as power attack or weapon focus, but there are a wide range of options. Sometimes they will support their casting side as well with extend spell (nice for DP which is a short spell), mental toughness, or quicken which really helps you quickly switch between attacking with a weapon and casting a spell.

Multi Classing is fairly common for Martial Clerics. Fighter and paladin often have the most synergies, but ranger isn’t unheard of. The main thing they are looking to get is proficiency with martial weapons, something a pure cleric lacks. Fighter also offers bonus feats which can be quite handy, and paladin brings greater defensive options and might actually help with spell points.

Race also plays a bigger roll for martial clerics. Dwarf is pretty much the default choice because it offers a strong set of racial enhancements geared to combat. Elves and Drow are somewhat popular for a pure battle cleric because they offer a couple good weapon proficiencies, but their low starting Con can be a problem. Human is another good choice because the extra feat, skill points and versatile stat options allow you to balance casting and combat more easily than other races.

Because the topic of cleric roles in a party is somewhat controversial I wanted to editorialize a little bit about them.

EDITORIAL ON BATTLE CLERICS

Opinions on battle clerics vary widely but here is my take. Even a highly focused Martial Cleric is not as strong a damage dealer as a specialized Combat class build, and is more on par with a fighter who mixes offense and defensive feats. As a defensive tank their self healing can give them incredible survivability and take the load of a dedicated healer in the party, but they can’t quite hyper specialize in intimidating and passive defense like a full fighter build can.

For me, the strength of a Martial Cleric is in versatility. When you need healing, they can heal pretty well. When you need fighting they can fight pretty well. They tend to be rather hard to kill, and don’t need much help from other members of the party.
The only time I would look down on a “battle cleric” is if they refused to ever heal other members of the party. I would say the same about any character that refuses to use some class ability they poses to help out when its needed. It really is about impossible to build a cleric that can’t heal at least decently when it’s needed.

EDITORIAL ON HEAL-BOTS & CASTER CLERICS

Some folks derisively refer to healing specked clerics as heal-bots or nanny-clerics. Usually this comes from the Battle Cleric camp when they are being criticized for not being good healers. I like to call them support clerics and I see playing a heal focused cleric as a noble and generous thing. It isn’t always fun to hide behind the lines and play whack-a-mole with peoples red bars, and sometimes it can be a thankless job.
The only bad thing I can say about a pure healing focus is that sometimes you just don’t need that much healing and the hyper specialized character becomes somewhat without a role to play in the group. In DDO, no amount of healing can finish an encounter if no one can kill off the monsters. I really think every healing cleric should carry a smattering of CC or Damage spells even if they aren’t specked out to use them well.

I don’t think I’ve ever read a complaint about caster focused clerics, probably because they generally play the healer roll as well as their casting roll.

MIX AND MATCH

Personally I like clerics that can do a bit of everything. My own cleric is a drow Offensive Caster at heart, but I started with 14 Str and have a paladin level so I can do some decent melee damage when buffed. Having Maximize, Empower, and Quicken also makes me a potent clutch healer when it’s needed most. Her only weakness is a low con and a lack of alternate turn uses (aka no Divine Vitality) so I can’t play tank.

GEARING UP

Cleric can be an expensive class to play. You don’t have a huge mana pool and there are so many good cleric spells many clerics stock up on healing and status curing wands and scrolls to leave more of their mana free for their most potent spells. Martial Clerics have to balance gear for casting and fighting and often simply have a lot of both. It is often common courtesy to offer clerics healing wands and scrolls to offset their costs on a long quest, especially in the early game where such things can seem expensive.

Ok, that’s it for my cleric round up. Please keep in mind just because someone makes a cleric differently than the way you would, doesn’t mean it’s bad. Cleric is much more about how you play than what you play. Next episode is a request (yes I will take requests) and we will be looking at how bonuses stack in DDO. Until then, keep praying for more Crunch.

Theris
12-02-2007, 12:34 PM
CRUNCHY BITS #9: BONUS STACKING

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 44, DECEMBER 1, 2007
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2127.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

Hello all. This week’s show topic was a request from my guild mate Brad. A big shout out to him and all the Umber Hulks on Thelanis. Heck, while I’m at it I may as well pimp my guild and our web-site at http://www.umberhulks.com .

Ok, shameless plug out of the way, our topic is stacking. Not the boxes in Cartamon’s warehouse, but stacking bonuses in DDO. This is definitely a topic heavy on Crunch and well worth the time to examine. This is also one of those topics where there is sometimes a difference between, “How it is supposed to work”, and “How it actually does work.”

WHAT IS A BONUS?

Generically speaking a bonus is a number you add to another number. So for every bonus there is a base value you are adding it to. Negative bonuses are actually called penalties. In addition to regular bonuses there are also multipliers, which while not technically bonuses, pretty much serve the same kind of function.

WHAT IS BONUS STACKING?

About like it sounds, bonus stacking is when you take more than one bonus that affects the same base value and add them together to get a larger total bonus. The trick is, some bonuses stack with each other and some do not. Because there are so many different bonuses to be had, they never say specifically what they do or don’t stack with.

BASIC RULES OF STACKING

DDO follows the D&D stacking rules in most but not all cases. The key to the stacking rules are bonus types. A bonus type is usually and adjective listed immediately after a bonus. For instance, the spell bless grants a +1 morale bonus to attack rolls and a +1 morale bonus to saving throws against fear. Both of these bonuses are of the type “Morale”.

Bonuses of the same type for the same source do not stack with one another. For instance if you have an amulet giving you a +1 natural armor bonus to your armor class it will not stack with a +3 natural armor bonus from a barkskin potion. The larger of the two will be used so you end up with a +3 bonus to AC. Bonuses of different types do stack so if you also had a ring of protection that grants a +2 deflection bonus to armor class, it stacks with the +3 from natural armor.

If a bonus does not list a type then it is “un-typed” and technically should stack with any other bonus including other un-typed bonuses. Armor class bonuses with the type “dodge” are a special exception and they stack with all other AC bonuses including other dodge bonuses. (Why they didn’t just make those un-typed, I don’t know.) Even though these bonuses stack they must still come from different sources.

So what is a source? Generally this comes into play with spells. Let’s say there was a dodge spell that gave you a +1 dodge bonus to armor class. No matter who or how it was cast on you, you could only get +1 from that spell. So a potion of “dodge spell” would not stack with a “doge spell” from a clickies or a “dodge spell” cast by a party member since they are all the same “source.”

This single source stacking rule also explains how penalties work. In general all penalties are un-typed and stack. But if you hit someone with two ray of enfeeblement spells, they don’t loose twice as much strength. Because both penalties are from the same “source” they do not stack and you only apply whichever casting of the spell had the bigger penalty while both are active.

SPECIAL DDO STACKING RULES

DDO throws in a few other basic stacking rules into the mix. In some cases DDO will have un-typed bonuses that do not stack. Generally un-typed bonuses from items do not stack with un-typed bonuses from other items.

It doesn’t matter if the effect has the different name, what matters is if it affects the same base value. So the damage bonus to spells from a superior potency dagger does not stack with the damage bonus from a superior efficacy potion. Other than items not stacking with eachother, most other un-typed bonuses will stack with one another in DDO.

AN INCREASE vs. A BONUS

Generally an Increase works a lot like an un-typed bonus, although increases often apply to bonuses themselves. So for instance the Inspire Attack 1 enhancement “increases” the bonus from the bardic Inspire Courage song making it a bonus to a bonus. DDO is a little sloppy in that it lists some bonuses as increases even when they apply to a base value. For instance all the ability enhancements are listed as an Increase to an ability rather than a bonus.

DAMAGE REDUCTION STACKING

The basic rule is that Damage Reduction never stacks. The only exception to this is that the DR you get for blocking stacks with DR from other sources. It really isn’t so much that they stack as the blocking DR is applied to damage first, then your non blocking DR is applied in a second pass.

Keep in mind many damage reduction enhancements and feats are actually increases to another source of DR so they will increase your base DR from that source and essentially stack with other increases to that base DR value. But if they increase a different DR source (for instance one increases the DR for having wargorged adamantine body and the other increases the DR from the barbarian class ability) those enhancements are not stacking with one another.

If you have two different kinds of DR things get a little weirder. Lets say you have DR1 because you are a barbarian, and you have a robe of invulnerability on which gives you DR5/magic. Generally whichever DR is bigger and applicable will apply. So if you are attacked by a magic weapon you will only get DR1 because magic weapons bypass the invulnerability DR. If you are attacked by a non magic weapon you get DR5 because that bonus is larger than the barbarian DR1.

SPELL CASTING DAMAGE ADJUSTMENTS

Damage spells get especially weird as it is an area where DDO diverges significantly from Pen and Paper. For starters, the basic rule is that most of the bonuses stack except item bonuses don’t stack with other item bonuses. But it gets a bit more complicated because you end up working with multipliers. The general rule in D&D is that when you have more than one multiplyer to a value, you add the multipliers together, subtracting one from each beyond the first and then do the multiplication of the base value. Confused yet?

Lets say you had a spell that did 10pts of damage and you were using both maximize and empower on it. Maximized does double damage and empower does one and a half times normal damage. To get the actual spell damage, take the first multiplier, X2 and add it to the second multiplier 1.5, minus 1. So its 2 + .5 for a total multiplier of 2.5, which gives you 25pts of damage from the spell.

This system keeps the abilities from growing exponentially. Since base damage is 10 maximize doubles it to 20 for 10 extra damage. Empower increases it by 1.5 times to 15 for 5 extra damage. The D&D multiplier system ensures that each ability always has a consistent amount of extra damage. If you simply multiplied in sequence you would not only get the extra damage but the base spell damage would be included twice as well.

That said, DDO actually offers a number of ways to increase spell damage, and they come in four separate layers. First it applies bonuses from enhancements, and items by adding the multipliers. It takes that result and multiplies by the total multiplier from metamagic feats. Next it determines if the spell is a critical hit and if so multiplies the damage from the previous layer. Finally if a creature has vulnerability to the damage type it multiplies the running total again. DDO appears to keep fractions until the final total at which time it rounds down to the nearest number.

So lets say you cast a magic missile (1d4+1) damage (although in DDO spells never roll one or two) so its actual (4-5) points of damage base. Lets say you have Force Manipulation 2 for an extra 20&#37;, a scepter of superior potency 1 for an extra 50%, Empower spell for a 1.5 multiplier and you have an unadjusted crit multiplier of 1.5 (the default). If you roll 4 pts of damage the equation looks like this…


Take the 100% base, add the 20% from the enhancement to the 50% from the item for a total of 170% or 1.7
Multiply the 1.7 times the base damage of 4 to get 6.8
Now take the 150% from the empower feat (1.5) and multiply by our running total of 6.8 for 10.2
If you crit you multiply again by 1.5 (150%) to get 15.3 which gets rounded down to 15 damage.


WEIRD STUFF

Madstone boots are a raid item from the Reaver Raid and they prove that sometimes there are just times that don’t follow the rules.

It casts a spell like effect called Madstone Rage which “increases strength constitution and AC” although there is no way to see what kinds of bonuses they are. The AC bonus appears to be natural armor but the strength and con bonuses seem to be un-typed. Where the boots really break the normal rules is that you can get the “Madstone Rage” applied more than once and the bonuses stack. In addition to being a clickie the madstone boots will sometimes cast the effect of the rage when you are hit in battle. If you had already used the clickie power to cast it you end up with two instances of madstone rage running which for almost anything else would not stack because the bonuses were coming from “the same source”.

SPEED BOOSTS

Speed boosts seem to be somewhat inconsistent. Barbarian speed and move speed boosts seems to stack with just about everything. Haste, striding bonuses and the pendant of time don’t seem to stack with one another (haste appears to be equivalent to 20% striding by the way). Speed bonuses aren’t typed so they seem to follow some kind of arbitrary rule about what stacks with what.

So that is stacking. It is definitely one of the crunchier topics in the game where there are many rules and a few that get broken from time to time. Next week Anne (Theris (http://forums.ddo.com/member.php?u=12585)) and I plan to bring you a discussion of doing quests as a two person team. Until then, remember that the couple that bunches together crunches together!

Theris
12-11-2007, 11:27 AM
CRUNCHY BITS #10: DYNAMIC DUO

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 45, DECMEBER 8, 2007
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2146.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

TRANSCRIPT

Sig: We are going to be talking about playing DDO as a two person team. Jerry got an e-mail asking for tips on playing as a father and son team, and I’ve often seen folks asking for advice on making characters and playing as husband and wife team.

Anne: The couple that slays together stays together. I think it’s great that parents and their kids play together. It’s a great way to have something in common.

Sig: Getting to play with my wife in a game we both like is definitely a great joy. Many of the characters we have made are coordinated either as having similar names or backgrounds and we often try to make them complementary in function so we can play duo.

Anne: For example, Sig and I decided to roll up new characters on Sarlona. He went with a warfored fighter tank/dps build named, Advanced Tactics Unit. I wanted something fun and versatile, but be able to complement Sig’s build and play style. So I also went with a warforged, Repairing. She’s a wizard specializing in repairing and crowed control, but in a pinch she can become a damage dealer. Since both our characters are toasters, they work very well together.

Sig: We’ve done quite a few paired characters but those are definitely our most successful. Even without any twinking they breezed through all the early quests.

Sig: They key to both soloing and small group play is understanding the essential roles in DDO.

Foremost is Offense: The ability to kill monsters. You simply can’t complete most of the quests in the game unless you have a method for killing monsters quickly.

Next up is Defense: You need to have a strategy for staying alive, be it healing damage or avoiding damage all-together. This can be tricky because there are so many different ways to be killed in DDO.

Finally you have utility: This is the ability to get around special obstacles like traps, jumping puzzles, locked doors, and ability runes.

Anne: Yes, your fighter is strong in both attack in defense: trip/stun seems to give him a decent offense advantage while his good armor class lends to his defense. Repairing provides defensive buffs such as elemental resists, healing (or repairing in this case), and crowd control. She can also help bring down targets with her direct damage spells. Since she’s a wizard, she easily switch out to utility spells like jump, find secret doors, and knock.

Sig: And they are both quite durable since Warforged get a few immunities and a bonus in constitution. We are missing the ability to disarm traps and open high DC locks but few quests require those abilities to complete. Offense really is the most important thing to have in your team so it’s nice if both characters can contribute to that.

Anne: So what about traps? That’s one thing we don’t have in our dynamic duo.

Sig: Well there really aren’t many quests where you have to disarm traps, and you can generally heal or resist your way through a good number of them. This leaves trapping skills and rogues in the “nice to have but not essential” category. Either you want a very burly rogue to play combatant or you want to combine rogue with another class. Wizard, Bard and Ranger tend to be the easiest to combine with but you need to know the game rules pretty well to make characters like that.

Anne: I think for a non warforged character you want a healer or the ability to heal efficiently in your group – say with a bard or cleric?

Sig: I think so. If you are really experienced you can probably get by on wands and potions but having at least a little healing will definitely make a lot of quests a lot easier. I would definitely recommend one character go cleric for a two person, non warforged group. Bards can work too but they start out slow as healers.

Clerics are extremely versatile and can do a bit of casting damage which against boss monsters can be critical. I remember one time we were playing I killed the STK guardian with nothing but nimbus of light and a full mana bar. One advantage of a Cleric or Bard over the warforged arcane is you get raise dead eventually (by having the spell or by using the scrolls).

Anne: Even with the warforged auto-stabilize ability, once your dead you are dead and will remain so without raise dead. Making clerics very handy like that.

Sig: Of course everyone is in that boat until the mid to high levels anyhow. If you want to go from level 1 to the cap with only two players you need to plan for high and low levels. At low levels melee characters are pretty essential and at high level casting characters are often the key to victory. Because quests are easier at lower levels your best bet is to make sure you have at least one strong caster in your group. If you can find ways to combine roles like fighting and casting or casting and healing you will find a lot of quests easier.

Also, with a duo group it’s important that none of the characters have any glaring weaknesses. I’d say everyone should have at least 12 Constitution, and the more the better.

Anne: So what about tactics once you are actually in the quest? What is different about playing with just two people?

Sig: Of course it is more difficult in general. Same number of monsters, less characters. Good teamwork is pretty vital for challenging quests, although it’s easier to have good teamwork when there are only two members of the team. I think communication is key. Be sure to talk to your partner about how you plan to tackle each encounter unless it is trivial.

Anne: It may take a little while to get used to things so be patient with your partner. Sometimes what you think they should do isn’t what they think they should do.

Anne: We both have ways we like doing things and I think we tend to assume others like to do them that way too. It really helps if you just say what you are going to do, before you do it.

Sig: It really helps to be patient as well. Generally one of you is going to be more experienced than the other. Don’t expect them to know what to do, but don’t fall into telling them everything they must do. Be open to trying out ideas even if you think it might not work so well. Everyone wants a chance for their ideas to win the day.

Anne: I think it’s a good idea to try each others characters too. If you live in the same house you could just switch seats for a bit. It will give you perspective on how things look from the other side.

Sig: A lot of the usual group tactics work fine with two people. You can actually block most doors with only one person so the old agro and block trick can be really effective.

Anne: Pulling monsters back to a safe spot to fight is also good.

Sig: If you get monsters coming at you from multiple directions things can get really hairy and if one of you goes down that’s half the team. I also find that sometimes the best thing to do when things go wrong is to run away. You can fall back to a relative safe spot, heal up, and then come recover your partner’s soul stone.

Sig: Of course some of the tactics that work well solo can be good for duo play. The big one is that generally you don’t need to fight all the monsters in a quest. Much of the time you can just run past them to an area they can’t get to saving you time and resources.

Sig: One of my favorite two person tips comes from solo play pioneers. There are a few quests with pressure plates you stand on to open up other parts of the quest. Xorian Cipher is like that and has two pairs of plates in separate areas which all need to be occupied to continue.

What not everyone knows is that monsters standing on the plates will trigger them to. So either you can pull enemies over a plate and then sprint onto a nearby one before they follow, or you can arrange for a summoned monster to do the same. While there are a few quests you can’t do solo there are almost none you can’t do with two players if you are crafty about it.

Sig: That’s it for this week. I hope it’s been helpful to folks out there. Next time we will have a go at examining a particular kind of character, the Intimi-Tank. It’s a very specialized kind of character and good for getting crunchy with.

DUO GROUP TIPS SUMMARY


Start coordinating and cooperating by communicating what you both want out of the game. If you have clear goals, even if they change as you play the game, it will be easy for your partner to help you. This goes for the same your partner, if you are able to understand their goals it becomes easier to help them. Often times you will find that both of your goals will complement each other.

Create complementary characters. When character creating, consider creating characters that complement each other in game mechanics and think about the "Essential Roles" in DDO for two player teams.

Essential Role #1: Offense. The ability to kill monsters. You simply can’t complete most of the quests in the game unless you have a method for killing monsters quickly.

Essential Role #2: Defense. You need to have a strategy for staying alive, be it healing damage or avoiding damage all-together. This can be tricky because there are so many different ways to be killed in DDO.

Essential Role #3: Utility. This is the ability to get around special obstacles like traps, jumping puzzles, locked doors, and ability runes.

Have some healing. In your team, one of the players should be a healer or have the ability to cast cure wounds spells. Clerics are solid healers, and are versitile enough switch to a crowd control caster or a direct damage caster. Bards also fit that category, but have a slower progression in the amount that they can heal/cure where as their crowed control abilities are foremost. Wizards & Sorcerers make great healers for Warforged race characters with their repairing spells.

In Quest Tip #1: Communicate your plans! Talk about how you want to complete the quest overall. For each encounter, make sure you both know what the plan is, unless its trivial.

In Quest Tip #2: Be patient with eachother. In general, one of you maybe more experianced then the other. Don't always expect them to know what to do, but don't fall into the trap of telling them everything that they must do.

In Quest Tip #3: Trade characters for a quest. If you live in the same house you can switch. It will give you an idea of how things look from your partner's perspective.

In Quest Tip #4: Door blocking sometimes works with one person, so the aggro-and-block trick will work for large mobs.

In Quest Tip #5: Pull monsters back to a safe spot. Aggro in DDO is directional based. Meaning the monster will aggro you if it has line-of-sight with you or if it can hear you. Yes, monsters need to make spot and listen checks too.

In Quest Tip #6: Running away is OKay! Pick safe spot where you can run to should things get out of control. Heal up, and try again. If your partner goes down, try recovering his/her soul stone.

In Quest Tip #7: You don't need to fight all the monsters in the quest. You can run past them to an area they can't get to. Not fighting monsters means you will save on time and resources.

In Quest Tip #8: Leverage your environment, including monsters. A good example is that monsters and pets can influence parts of the environment. Pressure plates can be activated by players, monsters, and pets. Tomb of the Tourtured is a good example of how monsters can activate pressure plates for you.

Cowdenicus
12-11-2007, 01:57 PM
Now fortified with more Crunch

/bookmarked.

Theris
12-25-2007, 01:46 AM
CRUNCHY BITS #11: INTIMI-TANKS

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 47, DECMEBER 23, 2007
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2181.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

SO WHAT ARE INTIMI-TANKS?

There are two basic things a build needs to qualify for this moniker. Firstly it needs to have a high enough intimidate skill to reliably effect monsters, and secondly it needs to be durable enough to take a beating from said monsters without constant healing from another character.


INTIMIDATE SKILL

It is integral to the whole intimi-tank concept. In tabletop D&D intimidate is mostly used to get temporary cooperation from N PCs or to demoralize foes in combat, giving them some small attack penalties. In DDO those are only secondary uses of the skill. It’s primary function is now to “pull agro” on monsters.

“Pulling Agro” is a MMO term, where Agro is short for Aggression and means that the creature wants to attack you. It is generally used as a noun. So if someone says “I have his agro” it means the creature is attacking them. Pulling is the act of getting a monster to come over to you. Together, pulling agro means you are getting the monsters to come and attack you.

The specifics of the DDO agro system are not definitively known, but generally each monster has a list of characters it wants to attack. Whichever party member is at the top of the list is the one that “has Agro.” A successful use of the intimidate skill puts your character at the top of the Agro list for any monster it effects until the effect wears off.

To use intimidate you need to drag the intimidate skill action to your hotbar somewhere. You just click on it to use it. Intimidate has a fairly limited range (about 20-30’ radius) but it affects all creatures within that range simultaneously. The effect seems to last about 5 seconds during which no one can pull the agro of the creatures effected. Unfortunately the skill has a cooldown timer of 8 seconds so there are 3 seconds where the monster is vulnerable to someone else stealing its agro.

When you use the Intimidate skill near a monster you will see a d20 roll which adds your skill bonus and will proclaim “success” or “failure”. But the real way you can tell if Intimidate worked on a particular creature is if a little yellow intimidate icon flashes over their head for a second. If you see that, you have their agro for the next 5 seconds guaranteed. Intimidate never works on “mindless” creatures which includes vermin, slimes, and some low level undead.

Intimidate is a charisma based skill, and a class skill for fighters, rogues and barbarians. Fighters have an enhancement line as do Humans who take the Least Dragonmark of Sentinel. Generally a 30-40 intimidate is desirable for a high level intimi-tank which is fairly easy to attain since intimidate bonuses on items go up to +13 and are fairly easy to acquire. Intimidate bonuses are also available from the skill focus, bullheaded, and Least Sentinel feats.

Before we move on to defense I have a bit more info on aggro in DDO

AGGRO OR AGGRESSION

The normal way most people get aggro in DDO is to attack a monster or cast a spell at it. The more damage you do or the more it dislikes the spell, the higher you go on it’s aggro list. There is a bit of randomness though, so aggro can be hard to predict what the monster will do. Sometimes monsters attack the first party member they see, sometimes they go straight for the caster in the back of the party, and some monsters will switch agro entirely at random; flesh golems are a good example of this.

TANKING

If you are going to intimidate a whole bunch of monsters into attacking you, it would help if you had a plan for how to survive the beatings that will follow. Armor class is your first line of defense. Most Intimi-Tanks are built to attain the maximum AC possible and generally calculate their desired dex mark wearing Mithral armor of some kind and using a tower shield. Most go out of their way to figure out which items they will wear at high level to maximize AC potential. Generally they are shooting for a 50-60 armor class at high level. The Combat Expertise and Armor Mastery enhancements are mainstays for achieving high armor class numbers.

Your next line of defense is generally damage reduction. Not every Intimi – tank is focused on this but it can make a big difference. While barbarians and warforged can get a fair bit of DR going via class and race abilities the biggest DR bonuses come from blocking. The more extreme intimi – tanks are set up to block nearly all the time and take shield mastery feats for extra DR and Improved Shield bash so they can attack with their shield while blocking. When blocking you get a DR bonus equal to 2 plus your shield bonus, so the tower shield is especially nice for this purpose.

After breaking through DR your next line of defense is your hit points. A good tank needs a fairly healthy supply, generally 300+ is about right at high levels although if your defenses are super high you can get away with a bit less. The Toughness feat and Toughness enhancements are often the key to achieving solid hit points.

Of course spells can be a big source of damage or can completely incapacitate a tank in one casting so maintaining solid saving throws is a big part of building an intimi – tank. Many builds take two levels of paladin and invest in a bit of charisma to take advantage of the divine grace ability as well as the paladin aura. Three levels is also popular to grab a fear immunity and an extra aura point. Pure fighter tanks or barbarian tanks will often take feats or enhancements to bring their saves up a bit. Saves are also a reason that intimi – tanks generally don’t completely dump their wisdom score. Dwarven spell defense is also a big help in this department.

Some intimi – tanks have been designed with a bit of self healing as a final layer of defense. This can be done via multi classing with a wand using class or by maintaining a decent UMD score. The biggest down side here is that spell casting turns off combat expertise and can’t be done while blocking. Ultimately it is often better to simply have a healer paired with an intimi – tank although one of their benefits is they generally decrease the need for party healing overall since they take most of the agro and are difficult to damage. The paladin lay on hands is nice in that it doesn’t break combat expertise, but it is fairly limited in total healing power.

CLASS AND RACE

Generally intimi – tanks are primarily fighters, although Paladins also have many advantages. A mix of the two is probably the most popular choice all around as you can benefit from both the paladins great saving throws and aura defenses while getting lots of feats to build with via fighter. Barbarians can also offer some interesting advantages via class DR bonuses, high Hit points and barbarian intimidate which leaves intimidated opponents shaken, giving them -2 on their attack rolls. Occasionally you will see builds with rogue levels to get UMD access or to try and work evasion into the build. The famous Batman build was an intimi - tank with rogue skills but fairly low hit points.

Race can be important for intimi – tanks. Dwarves are probably king of the hill with their spell defense, armor mastery enhancements, shield mastery, and toughness enhancements. Their only down side is a charisma penalty you will have to overcome. Warforged may look durable but they have many problems with charisma, using feats for body armor, difficulty healing, and weak will saves. Humans are a solid choice because of their attribute flexibility and bonus feat. Halflings look nice for saves and AC but they get a -4 intimidate penalty due to size. This is one build where elves and drow don’t really offer any real advantages so you hardly ever see them played as intimi tanks.

STATS

Stats are tricky for the intimi – tank and generally they are not min-max in the traditional sense. Most will want at least 13 int to get combat expertise early on. They want at least 14 con to keep a good number of hit points. They usually start with 12-14 dex so they can maximize their armor potential in Mithral full plate. They need a decent charisma, at least 10 or 12 to intimidate well and to take advantage of paladin levels. They usually don’t wan to totally neglect wisdom. And finally they want as much strength as they can muster. So essentially every stat is at least somewhat important. For a 28pt Dwarven Fighter/Paladin build I would start with something like:

Str 14 Dex 13 Con 16 Int 13 Wis 8 Charisma 12

Let’s flesh this build out a bit more…

I’m going to go with 7 levels of paladin and 7 levels of fighter. The paladin will give me a nice aura, good saves, and a bit of healing/buffing. The fighter levels offer some nice enhancements and extra feats to work with.

For feats I chose: Toughness, Combat Expertise, Dodge, Power Attack, Cleave, Great Cleave, Improved Shield Bash, Improved Critical Slashing, and Bullheaded

I put my skill points into Intmidate, then Balance, and finally the extras in Jump.

For Enhancements I took Dwarven Armor mastery 2 and fighter armor mastery 1, Dwarven axe attack 1, dwarven constitution 1, Dwarven shield mastery 2, Spell defense 3, Dwarven toughness 4 and fighter toughness 3, Tower Shield Master 1, Bulwark of Good 2, Resistance of good 1, Extra Lay on hands 1, Fighter Intimidate 2, Paladin Charisma 1, and fighter strength 1.

I put one level up bump into dex and two into strength.

Nicely geared up at level 14 he would have around 350 hit points, AC in the low 50s, All saves 20+, Intimidate of 40+, with a decent if not spectacular offense.

LAST THOUGHTS

Generally even though an intimi – tank’s main purpose is defensive I feel it is good to at least have a decent offense. Not every quest will require your full tanking prowess. I feel that weapons like paralyzers and vorpals are especially good for tank builds as they help with defense and also don’t require massive DPS investment. Power attack, Cleave and Great Cleave, while offensive work very well for sword and shield fighters and also use effect weapons to their fullest. If you have room for those feat’s I would try to work them in. Improved critical is also a fairly essential offensive feat I would take if I could find room.

We are running long but I want to summarize saying that intimi – tanks are interesting builds that can add a lot to a party. Nearly every offensive class can benefit greatly by having one in the party to keep them from being damaged and to keep the monsters standing more or less in place for easy slaughter. Rogues especially love them as they almost guarantee sneak attack damage on every swing.

That’s all, or more than we have time for this week. Next week I’ll talk about martial casters and how to mix combat with casting. Until then we wish you a very crunchy seasons beatings.

Theris
01-06-2008, 02:12 AM
CRUNCHY BITS #12: BATTLE WIZARDS

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 49, JANUARY 5, 2008
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2244.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

WHY?

Of course DDO and D&D already offers a number of hybrid caster-fighters like the cleric, bard, ranger, and paladin. Why not just go with one of those? The number one reason is access to damage spells. While cleric has a couple stand out damage spells they are high level and have limited application. Sorcerers and wizards have a huge range of damage spell options at all levels and enhancements to support them.

It is hard to argue that battle wizards are a good idea purely for buffing. Bard can buff for combat like no other class and cleric is no slouch. Arcanes do have a few unique buffs like jump or flame arrow that bards do not and they get them at lower levels, but bard is already a good mix of combat and casting so multi classing is less necessary.

Another good reason to go battle wizard is that it’s a challenge. Wizards and sorcerers are designed to be bad at martial combat so making them do it well is a fun puzzle. There is something about a fireballs and greatswords that speaks to the inner munchkin in all of us.

CLASS CONSIDERATIONS

Not every battle wizard needs to be multi-classed. You can go pure wizard or sorcerer and add a martial element purely through stats, feats, and spell choices, but generally multi-classing is the route that has the most dramatic results.

For the caster side you have Wizard or Sorcerer. Of the two, wizard is easier to work with because you have more spell slots, get spells one level earlier, you get bonus meta magic feats, and Int is often a more useful stat for multi classing than charisma. Sorcerer is still attractive because of the fast casting and deep mana pool, it is just harder to plan out and work in your combat abilities.

On the combat side, the options are varied. Fighter is the mainstay due to the bonus feats. Having extra feats really opens up some combat options and fighter gives you the best one level package of martial combat abilities. Ranger is nice for archers and two weapon fighters, but you generally want to invest in two levels. Paladin is attractive to sorcerers due to the charisma synergy, but again you generally want at least two levels.

Ranger/Paladin are also popular to pick up the ability to use healing wands. Barbarian can work, but rage doesn’t work well with casting since you can’t cast while raged and unless you take many barbarian levels you can only rage for very short durations between shrines. Cleric, Rogue and bard could work to add select martial benefits but generally you aren’t getting much combat prowess for your caster level sacrifice.

LEVEL SPLITS

You tend to see 3 types of splits. The pure caster where you use a high Str or Dex to achieve melee prowess. The splash, where you take only one or two levels of a full BAB class. And finally the full split where the martial and caster classes are about even. Because casting is very class level dependent you tend to see the splash more than the split. Triple class builds tend to fit into the split category in terms of how many caster levels they run and the considerations they make.

When multi classing a wizard you can generally splash a single level of another class and still get your full level range of spells at the current cap because wizards get new spells at odd levels. With a sorcerer, any sacrifice of sorcerer levels will cost you your highest level spells until we get to levels 19-20. Because sorcerers take such a hit in spells for multi classing, battle sorcerers tend to heavily focus on a narrow selection of spells.

With the split builds, you tend to be looking to get certain spells like haste and firewall and you plan your caster level to get access to them while filling up the remainder of your level cap with martial classes. Characters specializing in two weapon fighting or two handed fighting tend to go this route since their martial side needs a fair number of feats to achieve.

TWO BASIC MARTIAL ARCHETYPES

Battle wizards tend to come in two basic combat flavors.

The first is the strength based brute who is focused on raw damage from both spells and two handed fighting. They use spells like blur, shield and stoneskin for defense, along with as many HP as they can muster. They take high strength, high Constitution and put the remainder in their prime casting stat.

The second type are dex based finesse combatants. These are usually designed to cast in light armor and have a high dex score to achieve high ac. Instead of doing straight damage in martial combat they use ranged weapons or effect melee weapons like con damage, vorpals, or paralyzes. They still make heavy use of spells for defense but their hit point levels are generally not so great.

The DDO meta game tends to support the strength based brutes since at high levels AC tends to not be meaningful unless it is especially high and combat expertise simply doesn’t work well with casting thus limiting the battle wizards AC options.

TWO BASIC CASTING ARCHETYPES

There are also two basic strategies used for casting. The first is to take the traditional route and maintain a high prime casting stat. This works best with pure or splash builds and lets you do both Crowd control and damage casting. Built properly ,such a caster can maintain as much as 90% the casting power of a traditional caster.

The second strategy is to only maintain the minimum necessary casting stats and focus on buffing and damage spells which do not generally have saving throws and thus are much less caster level dependent. This is a popular way to go with split style battle wizards but I have seen it on pure caster builds.

RACIAL CONSIDERATIONS

Pretty much every race has a number of reasons they make good battle wizards.

Human’s extra feats, skills and ability distribution give them the flexibility to go two directions in one character.

Dwarves make extremely durable battle wizards with their toughness enhancements, save bonuses, axe use and so on. They tend to favor the brute/damage casting route since they excel at it.
Elves have an enhancement for lower spell failure in armor so they are popular for the light armor wearing dex based casters.

Drow especially since they get an ability bonus to both arcane casting stats, int and charisma. They also get bonuses with rapiers which are the best finesse weapon.

Halflings have all around handy bonuses to saves and ac and no handicaps as a caster. Their low strength makes the brute approach hard to pull off but their dex bonus makes finesse fighting or ranged a good option.

Warforged are quite potent for all types of battle wizards. Their built in armor and easy access to arcane spell failure reduction make them the kings of armored casting. Their con bonus and immunities help with survivability, but most of all it is the ability to self heal with repair spells that make them extremely attractive as combat casters.

SKILLS

Concentration is often the #1 skill choice for casters because losing a spell due to getting attacked is not much fun and you are putting yourself in harms way more often than not. Jump is also attractive as it lets you evade enemy attacks when you are fire-walling or otherwise stalling for time. Balance is good but not generally a class skill for most battle wizards. Sorcerer based battle wizards will often take UMD, even if it is often not a class skill due to their high charisma and it can be a great boon to build versatility.

FEATS

This is a mixed bag since there are many feats for both casting and combat in the game. On the casting side damage feats like maximize and empower are very common. Dex build usually take weapon finesse for obvious reasons. Mental toughness and regular Tougness are both popular to shore up weaker spell points and hit point totals. Stunning blow is a stand out for the strength based battle wizards as it can be very nice offensively and defensively for only one feat pick. Weapon styles and improved critical tend to be reserved for the split class style battle wizards.

ITEMS

Armored casters are often on the look out for Mithral Light Shields since they have no arcane spell failure or armor check penalty. For elves or those lucky enough to find the seven fingered gloves, mithral chain shirts and other low arcane spell failure armors are popular because you can get the spell failure chance down to 0.

Dex based battle wizards are usually looking for nice effect rapiers. Wounding of Puncturing is often the holy grail here, but vorpals and paralyzers are quite good. Strength based or ranged weapon casters are generally looking for the same kings of weapons that non casting combatants seek out.

Divine power clickies are often the mainstay of many a battle wizard. The increase your base attack bonus to equal your level resulting in greater accuracy and often more attacks. In addition they give you a +6 strength bonus, which frees up an item slot normaly used for strength enhancement. The down side is that the duration is quite short so to use it reliably takes a number of clickies items and some hotbar space.

Of course you also want all the usual casting items which add to mana, spell damage, and the like. And its good to have some defensive items equipped, not to mention potions and scrolls of various sorts. One of the challenges of a battle wizard is deciding which items to equip and how to set up the many hot bar’s you will neet to always have the right gear for the task at hand.

SPECIFIC BUILDS

The number of different build combinations is pretty massive but there are a few basic archetypes that folks have “named” over the course of the last couple years.

The “Longblade Sorcerer” is a popular pick. Generally it consists of 2-3 paladin levels with the rest in sorcerer. Charisma is maxed out with dex or str being the secondary pick. Drow is by far the most popular race, but humans and Halflings can work well. The idea is that you combine damage casting and buffs from sorcerer, with the AC and Save bonuses from paladin, and generally specialize in rapiers or longsword. You also get the use of healing wands. The down side is usually a fairly limited spell selection forcing you to carefully choose what you pick at each level and limiting versatility. These builds can be the king of PvP with their massive damage spells and ungodly saving throws.

The “Arcane Psycho” is generally a Warforged or Dwarf with maxed out strength and lots of constitution at the expense of their prime casting stat. They are all about DPS, both with their two handed weapon and their damage spells. The general idea is often to stand in a firewall while also pounding away with a weapon for some crazy damage. This is a very all or nothing kind of strategy and can be a lot of fun if you just like to cut loose.

The “Drow Battle Wizard” is a pretty classic wizard that splashes a single fighter level to get martial weapons and start out with the weapon finesse feat. They usually max int and dex, and take arcane fluidity to cast in a mithral chain shirt. The advantage here is that they can generally maintain a very high level of wizard functionality while still getting a respectable to hit bonus via a synergy of stats and enhancements. They fight with low agro weapons like wounders or vorpals. Durability is their biggest weakness as they aren’t much tougher than a traditional wizard.

The “Warforged Battle Wizard” is either a pure class caster or splashes a single fighter level. You can go either dex or strength based although I tend to favor a strength approach using mauls and the stunning blow feat since warforged have a racial enhancement line to support it. You can also take a warforged down the dex path, often using Mithral body to maximize AC but between that an weapon finesse you are spending a lot of feats on your combat side right from the get go. These are great solo characters as they are tough, don’t rely totally on spells for offense, and can self heal very effectively.

Finally you have the “Arcane Archer” which as you might expect is generally a mix of ranger and wizard. Here they are often looking to augment their attacks with buffs and the flame arrow spell, although in mod 7 we will be seeing a new enhancement line specifically for these build that let you summon a number of different magical returning arrows. These tend more to the split class model than many of the other builds as good ranged combat requires a number of feats. Occasionally you will see Elves as a pure class variant that is more a “wizard with a bow” than a true arcane archer.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I’m a big fan of these kinds of builds but they aren’t for everyone. They can be tricky to play, very gear dependent and aren’t going to quite amaze your friends the way a pure sorcerer or barbarian will. Some folks might even scoff at your choice saying that the game is all about min-maxing. But if you like being strategic and crafty, these characters are a ton of fun. You are almost never at a loss for a way to combat a particular enemy or survive a particular challenge.

EXAMPLE BUILDS

Warforged Brute using stunning blow
http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?p=1297746

Drow split class Sorcerer Fighter, a bit of a weak build
http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?p=1307963

Battle Wizard using a bards splash, not a great build
http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?p=1300621

A warforged battle mage made for permadeath play
http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?p=1321632

Drow Wizard, Ranger, Fighter build, classic dex based approach
http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?p=1324076

A crazy WF battle wizard in adamantine body, very weird build
http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?p=1335801

Ranged combat Wizard splashing ranger
http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?p=1341185

Split style Drow Fighter Paladin Socrerer
http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?p=1341730

WF Sorcerer with kopesh
http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?p=1343352

Dwarven fighter wizard, brute style but with AC potential
http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?p=1345919

Classic Longblade Sorcerer
http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?p=1346176

Evasion Longblade Sorcerer
http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?p=1354034

Drow Sorcerer with fighter splash
http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?p=1375380

Theris
01-13-2008, 03:24 AM
CRUNCHY BITS #13: SAVING THROWS

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 50, JANUARY 13, 2008
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2320.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

In 3.5 D&D and in DDO a saving throw is a d20 roll where you are trying to roll equal or better to a given Difficulty Class or “DC” value. Each save falls into one of three categories: Fortitude, Willpower, or Reflexes. When you make your saving throw you roll a twenty sided dice and add your characters bonus from the appropriate save category to compare to the DC of the save.

Saving throw rolls are a bit like attack rolls in that a 1 is always a failure and a 20 is always a success no matter the DC or save scores at play.

BASICS OF SAVING THROWS

Most saving throw values are composed of three basic components.

The base value is determined by your class and level. Each class has some saving throws as “good saves” that start at 2 and go up every other level, and others which are “poor” starting at 0 and increasing every three levels. Mathematically the progression starts at 0 level. Multi class characters add the saves of all their classes together to get their total.

Each save category also has an associated ability score, and you add the ability score bonus to your base save.

Finally there are many items and abilities that can grant bonuses to your saving throw scores.

CATEGORIES OF SAVING THROWS

Fortitude represents your characters ability to shrug of poison, sickness, fatigue and other physical ailments. It is tied to your constitution score and is a good save for Fighters, Rangers, Paladins, Barbarians and Clerics. Fortitude is often made against effects that instantly kill such as Finger of Death or Disintegrate.

Willpower is something like your strength of spirit or resolve. Willpower saves are often made against spells that effect your perceptions, control your mind, or attack your living spirit directly. Willpower is tied to your wisdom ability score and is a good save for Clerics, Bards, Sorcerers, and Wizards. Nearly all willpower saves are against super natural abilities or spell effects.

Reflex saves test your ability to get out of the way of trouble or catch yourself from falling. Reflex is tied to Dexterity and is a good save for Rogues, Rangers and Bards. Reflex saves are very common for pretty much all traps and for area of effect damage spells like fireball or blade barrier. While most saving throws allow you to ignore whatever triggered them if successful, most reflex saves against damaging effects only let you take half as much damage when you make them.

WHY ARE SAVING THROWS IMPORTANT?

Saving throws can often mean the difference between life and death for an adventurer, especially when being attacked by enemy spell casters. Rare is the monster that can kill you in a single melee attack, but it is common for high level monsters to wield “save or die” type spells and abilities.

Even the ones that don’t outright kill you like flesh to stone or hold person can be a death sentence when you stand helpless in the midst of angry monsters. Every hero owes it to themselves to make sure their saving throws are as good as they can make them within the limitations of their build.

RACES AND SAVING THROWS

Racial choices generally don’t have a strong impact on saving throws with a couple of exceptions.

Halflings start with a +1 bonus to all saves and have enhancements that can advance each of their saving throw categories separately. This gives them a definite edge.

Dwarves start with a +2 bonus to saves against magic, and a +4 bonus to saves against poison. They have enhancement lines to increase either bonus. Since a large percentage of saves in DDO are against spells, this is the most powerful of the racial save bonuses.

Warforged are worth a mention. They don’t get a saving throw bonus per say, but they happen to be immune to a number of effects that would normally require a saving throw of some kind such as poison, disease, and spells targeting only “people”, like hold person.

CLASSES AND SAVING THROWS

Each class has its good and poor saving throws. Cleric, Ranger, and Bard are stand outs in that they each have 2 good saves as where the other classes all have a single good save category.

Paladins are the real kings of saving throws however. Their only good save is fortitude, but they have two special abilities that increase all their saves. First is their aura which adds +1 to their saves as well as the saves of all party members close to them. This aura can be increased up to +4 using enhancements.

Second is their Divine Grace ability which they get at second level. This adds their charisma bonus to all of their saving throw values. Since they can have quite a high charisma score this gives paladins the best overall saving throws of any class unless they treat charisma as a dump stat which would be extremely rare. Many builds mulit class with paladin specifically to get this ability.

Rouges and Rangers both gain the evasion ability. Rangers get it at level 10 and rogues at level 2. Evasion lets you take no damage with a successful reflex save instead of only half damage. This is especially important for rogues who must sometimes go through live traps in order to disarm them. Sometimes half damage is still more than a rogue can handle. Rogues at level 10 can pick up improved evasion which lets them take half damage even if they fail their reflex save. Rogues can also take a line of enhancements that increase their saving throws vs traps.

Finally as an advanced not it is worth mentioning that multi class builds generally get a small boost in saving throws. This is because of the fact that saves advance as if they start at 0 level, so first level is a bit like having two levels of a saving throws for the class in question. Pairings of double good classes like Bard&Cleric or Ranger&Cleric result in excellent overall saves.

OTHER SOURCES OF SAVING THROW BONUSES

For starters there are a number of feats offering saving throw bonuses. Iron will, Great Fortitude, and Ligtning reflexes are the standards that add 2 to a particular save. Luck of Heroes adds 1 to all your saves. There are feats that add to saves vs poison and bullheaded which ads 1 to will as well as upping your intimidate skill. Finally there is resistance which is a stance that reduces attack and damage for saving throw bonuses but I’d steer clear of that.

Two new feats in mod 6 look quite good. Force of personality lets you use charisma instead of wisdom to add to your Willpower saves, and Insightful Reflexes lets you use Intelligence instead of dexterity for reflex saves. Both are strong for the right character.

Resistance items are a common way to boost saves. Most characters wear one. Stability items offer the same type of bonus to low level neutral characters.

Heroism and Greater Heroism are pretty standard buffing spells as they boost not only attack values and skills but also saving throws. Many high level players consider Greater Heroism to be assumed as a part of their final combat statistics even if they have to collect the Planar Gird clickies belt from Xorian Cypher to self cast it.

Some rare items also offer luck bonuses that add to skills and saving throws. These are great as they stack with both resistance items and the morale bonuses from the Heroism spells.

Because there are so many sources of saving throw bonuses, it is rare for anyone to have saves that are consistently lower than 10 if they are even half way trying to have a decent save. Values of 15 are considered decent and values over 20 are considered quite strong. If you can get a save into the 30s there is almost nothing that can reliably get past your defenses.

HOW TO DEAL WITH POOR SAVING THROWS

Some builds and characters just can’t muster strong saves in one category or another. Rogues and Fighters are somewhat notorious for poor will saves. Clerics almost always have terrible reflex saves and so on.

Your first line of defense is to avoid whatever causes those saves to be made. Rogues would do well not to agro monsters casting hold person and clerics would be wise to avoid dangerous traps.

For spell saves a good way to go is to get a spell resistance item. Nearly all the spells that allow a will or fortitude save must first penetrate spell resistance before having their effect. SR is rarely a sure fire defense but its an extra layer of protection and I’ve found it handy on my weak willed characters.

Straight immunities are another good option. Fear immunity is key in many quests for the weak willed, and poison/disease immunity are great for those with weak fortitude. Elemental resistance and protection spells can stop many elemental effects that require reflex saves.

Finally you can make friends with a paladin that has a strong aura of good. I hear they like fresh baked cookies and charisma cloaks.

ADVANCED INFO

While it has no relevance to DDO, it has been revealed that a dramatic change is coming to saving throws in the upcoming Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition rules. Fort, Will and Reflex remain but now they are Armor Class values. Spells that used to require saves now “attack” the respective AC values just like normal attacks work against normal armor class.

The big difference is that the attacker does the dice rolling and you can “Crit” with spells against these defenses. Just how a crit hold person works we will have to wait and see. Hmmm crit spells, that reminds me of something in DDO… Actually it seems many of the mechanics that are currently unique to DDO seem to be foreshadowing of new rules in 4th edition.

That’s it for this weak. Hope you made your fort save to avoid falling asleep. Next time on the bits well take a look at the shadowy world of Rogues. Until then keep your back to the wall and your ears on the crunch!

Theris
02-04-2008, 10:39 PM
CRUNCHY BITS #14: ROGUES >= TRAP MONKEY

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 51, JANUARY 19, 2008
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2363.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

ROGUE BASICS

Rogue's get 6 hit points per level, have a three quarters BAB progression, have good reflex saves, have a class enhancement for dexterity, get 8 class skill points per level (32 at first level), gain 1d6 sneak attack every other level, and have nearly every skill as a class skill. All that boils down to being great at skills, quick on their feet, decent at martial combat, but rather poor at taking a beating.

ROGUES AND TRAPS

Generally the first thing that pops into people's mind when you say Rogue in D&D are traps. They are the only class that can find and disable complex traps (which is almost all of them in DDO). Some people make the mistake of thinking that is all rogues can do. Trapping is certainly important but it is only one aspect of what a rogue can do (hence Rogues >= Trap Monkeys).

The skills useful for Trapping are Spot (to notice traps and secret doors before they are visible), Search (to make the trap and trap boxes visible, and to find secret doors), and Disable Device (to disarm the trap). Search and Disable are Int based and Spot is wisdom based.

Currently spotting traps isn't especially difficult so you don't necessarily need to maximize that skill or your wisdom score. Some multi class rogues will completely forgo spot and just try to remember where the traps or just find them by trial and error. Either your spot is high enough to find a trap/secret door or it isn't. There is no randomness about it. When you spot something a little door or trap icon will flash on your screen.

Disable and Search usually require a lot of investment to keep them high enough to handle any and all traps you encounter. For this reason most Rogues will not entirely neglect Intelligence and will keep these skills maxed out. Most rogues will also invest enhancement points to raise these skills, and those who want the best possible scores will also take feats to raise them. I generally feel that the feats are overkill unless your rogue has a low intelligence.

Search is a bit like Spot in that there is no roll made when searching. Either you have a high enough search to find the trap/door or you don't and it will remain hidden. You also need to be within "spotting" distance of the trap box or door to find it.

When disarming you make a d20 roll and add your Disable skill to try and beat the trap. If you miss the roll by more than 5 points the trap blows up, doing some damage to you and the trap cannot be disarmed. If you miss by less than that you simply fail to disarm and may try again.

ROGUES AND LOCKS

To open locked doors and chests you use the Open Locks skill. It is dex based and most rogues have a pretty solid dex score. Currently the most difficult locks in the game do not require a maxed out Open Lock skill, but lock difficulties are notoriously wide ranging, so some early locks are pretty hard and some high level locks are pretty easy. I tend to keep it maxed out early on, and once I start finding good skill bonus items I stop raising Open Lock. Usually 6-10 skill ranks should be enough. It doesn't really hurt to max it out if you have the skill points as it saves you time.

Like disarming traps you make d20 rolls when opening locks. Unlike traps there is no way to blow the lock so you can keep trying until you open it or discover it simply isn't possible by failing on a 20.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE

Both disarming and lock picking require thieves tools to perform. Fortunately these tools also offer you a bonus to your skill checks. Master work tools offer a +2 bonus and magic tools offer an additional bonus equal to their “plus” value. The neat tip here is that there is no level requirement on tools so if you can get some hand me down +5 tools it can really help on the early levels of the game.

ROGUES AND UMD

Rogues and bards are the only classes with UMD as a class skill. It is somewhat unusual for a rogue to start with a lot of charisma but a determined rogue can easily get their UMD high enough to use any scroll or wand you care to. This ability alone can be a life saver for a party and gives rouges a ton of flexibility and self sufficiency.

SNEAKING AROUND

Rouges are also famous for their stealth skills, but in DDO these are somewhat marginalized. Part of the problem is that sneaking in DDO can be rather challenging as many actions take you out of stealth. The biggest obstacle is that unless the whole party can sneak around well there generally isn’t a lot of point to it. None the less it can be fun so I don’t want to discourage folks from trying it out if you have extra skill points to spend.

OTHER SKILLS

Balance is popular to get up after being knocked down. Bluff is nice for helping land sneak attacks. Diplomacy is great for dropping agro which also helps you get in more sneak attacks. Haggle is great for the rogue who wants to be well equipped with scrolls and potions. Jump can be key in certain quests where traps are in hard to reach places. And a point or two of tumble is often nice to have.

ROGUES AND COMBAT

Even if you want to be top of the class in skills, you should never totally neglect your combat skills. Traps and locks are only a small party of most dungeons as where fighting monsters is the bulk of what most adventurers do. Rogues are not naturally very tough, and they have at best average attack bonuses. What they do have is sneak attack and it can make all the difference in the world.

Sneak attack is basically a bonus to damage you get when attacking under certain conditions. For starters you must be within 30’ of the target you are attacking. Secondly you either need to be behind the target or you need the target to be attacking (or agroed on) another member of your party. Some special effects like blindness, helplessness also make monsters vulnerable to sneak attack. Deception weapons and the bluff skill can temporarily make a monster vulnerable for a short time as well.

Sneak attack starts at 1d6 extra damage and goes up from there by 1d6 every other level. Rogues have enhancements to raise the accuracy and damage of their sneak attacks, and there are weapons that offer additional stacking sneak attack bonuses.

The diplomacy and bluff skills are quite handy for helping ensure you get sneak attacks in on your foes. The Subtle Backstabber enhancements are also very good as they reduce the agro generation of your attacks. This means other damage dealers are more likely to hold the monsters attention.

The absolute bet tip for sneak attack success is to follow the parties best DPS melee into battle. Let them take the first swing or two on any enemy and then come in behind the target. This helps ensure sneak attack for at least a few swings which is often plenty. Intimi-tanks are your best friend as they can guarantee agro when they use the intimidate skill.

Two weapon fighting is especially effective for rogues. Firstly because you get more swings which means more sneak attack damage, and secondly because of the way weapons with the “of backstabbing” trait work. If either of your weapons has the backstabbing trait it adds to sneak attack accuracy and damage for both of your weapons. I like to use as high a backstab weapon as I can find in my off hand, and my best offensive weapon in my main hand. It really works wonders.

Most rogues use weapon finesse so that they can leverage their naturally high dexterity values for melee combat. Rapier is generally the weapon of choice for such builds. Some rogues will invest heavily in strength to give them better damage when not sneak attacking and to save a feat. Both approaches work quite well and both have advantages. Personally I like to favor dex but not entirely ignore strength. 14 Strength 16 Dex is a pretty good place to start for a combat rogue.

Some rogues try to specialize in ranged weapons but generally this doesn’t make for a very potent combat character. You only get sneak attack damage up close and the rate of fire is just not very good compared to two weapon fighting.

ABOUT DEFENSE

Of course fighting is a bit more than just all offense all the time. Many a rogue has discovered this the hard way as they charge headlong into battle and gain the party healers ire. The number one rule of rogue combat is “You don’t start the fights, you finish them!” If you are trading blows mano-e-monster with some baddie something has probably gone wrong.

While they don’t wear heavy armor a rogue can muster a pretty respectable armor class. Usually they do this through massive dex or by dwarven armor mastery. The problem is that most rogues just can’t reach the upper AC values needed to mean much at higher levels. As a result AC is more a back up plan than a mainstay past level 10 or so.

Dwarven rogues can get up into the 300HP range through the toughness feat and enhancements. If you want to get in and really mix it up with a rogue this is a good way to go. Dwarves also get nice spell saving throw bonuses that help shore up their generally poor fortitude and will saves.

THE RACE OF ROGUES

All the races can make decent rogues. Elves and Drow are stand outs for their +2 racial bonus to spot and search, their racial enhancements for those skills, their enhancements for rapier combat, and their stat bonuses in dexterity. Drow even get a boost to int and charisma which is great for a truly skill focused Rogue.

Dwarves are the kings of rogue durability as I mentioned earlier.

Humans as always have a lot of options with their extra feat and skills which can make a tricky rogue build a bit easier to pull off. They also have human versatility which you can take instead of Rogue Skill boost as it does the same thing bit also has combat uses.

Warforged and Halflings don’t have anything special to recommend them but neither are they poorly suited for the class.

MULTI-CLASSING

A discussion or rogues is not complete without mentioning multi class options. Rouges are one of the most popular “splash” classes. (that is where you take one or two levels of a class). The key is that once you take a rogue level it allows you to max out all the skills that are class skills for rogue. It still takes double the point cost when leveling other classes but there is a big difference between a UMD of 8.5 and a UMD of 17. The other thing folks are usually looking for is the evasion ability that rogues get at second level.

You can make a perfectly good trap busting character with only two rogue levels, but that doesn’t really mean the character is a full rogue. They don’t have the massive sneak attack damage and they don’t have the full range of handy skills a rogue can have. Rogue heavy character can just as easily splash other classes in their builds to pick up additional class features.

Rogue pairs best with other classes that get decent skill points like Bard or Ranger. You often see Rogues with a couple fighter levels to get more combat feats. Paladin and Rogue is an unlikely but popular combination using the paladin save bonuses to make evasion highly effective. Rogue wizards are also common due to both classes keying strongly off of intelligence.

Theris
02-16-2008, 11:11 PM
CRUNCHY BITS #15: COMBAT BASICS

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 55, FEBRUARY 16, 2008
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2520.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

WE WILL START WITH THE BASIC NUMBER WORK

Attacking with a weapon is the core of the D&D rules system as we know it today. You start with two numbers, “To-Hit” which is the attackers combat value, and “Armor Class” which is the defenders value. The attacker rolls a twenty sided dice and then adds their “To-Hit” value. If it is greater or equal to the defenders “Armor Class” then the attacker has hit the defender.

There are lots and lots of numbers that add up to your total “To-Hit” value, too many in fact to cover them all here so I’ll start with the basics.

Base Attack Bonus (BAB for short): This is where you generally start. You get BAB through your character class. Different classes gain BAB at different rates with the combat classes getting +1 every level, hybrids getting 3 points every 4 levels and pure casters getting 1 point every 2 levels. Mutli classers just add the bab from each class level they have together. BAB is never higher than your class level.

Ability Modifier: Every attack in DDO also adds on an ability modifier. For melee attacks you use strength, for ranged attacks you use dexterity. The weapon finesse feat lets you use dex for melee attacks with light weapons (and rapiers). There is no upper limit to your ability modifier.

Weapon bonus: The + on weapons also adds to your to-hit number. This is technically referred to as a weapons “enhancement” bonus and is limited to +5.

Other bonuses: And then there is every other bonus under the sun. There are tons of feats, enhancements, items, and conditions etc. that can all add to or decrease your attack bonus. Listen to the stacking bonus episode for more info on what stacks and what doesn’t.

ARMOR CLASS

On the flip side you have armor class, but this show is about attacking so we will just suffice to say there are many ways to increase armor class but most are tied to equipment and ability scores rather than class and level. It is also worth noting that it is harder to increase your armor class than your attack bonus at higher levels bit the reverse is true at lower levels.

CRITICAL HITS

Every weapon has something called a threat range. When your dice roll is in that range you have a chance for a critical hit. You make a second attack roll, and if that attack roll succeeds the attack is a critical hit and does extra damage. This is called “confirming” the crit. Each weapon has a multiplier that tells you how much you multiply the base damage by.

AUTO HIT/MISS

When attacking a natural roll of 1 on the d20 is always a miss and a natural 20 is always a hit. So no matter what the attack vs AC is there is always at least a 5% chance to hit or miss on every swing.


ATTACK VS DAMAGE

For combat characters there is often a trade off of attack vs damage. The most direct is the use of the power attack feat, but there are also choices in enhancements, feat selection and weapons where you are faced with a choice of more damage or greater accuracy.

When making these decisions keep in mind that there is an 18 point window in attack rolls. That means that if your to-hit is not within a range of 18 points less than your opponents armor class then you are in the 5% zone where any further increase or decrease of your attack value will not affect your accuracy.

ATTACK RATE AND ANIMATIONS

In addition to how accurate you are we have to consider how many times you attack over a given period of time. DDO takes a pretty radical departure from PnP D&D. This is largely because the designers wanted a close mapping of your characters attack animation and the actual attack rolls as where PnP combat is more abstract.

Your characters BAB is what determines how many attacks your character can make in one “round”. In DDO there is no fixed time for a round, it really consists of a series of attack animations. Each weapon style and some individual weapons have different animations for each attack in the sequence. Some are a bit slower than others.

At BAB +0 you get one animation, at BAB +1 you get two, at +5 you get 3, at +10 you get 4 and at +15 you get 5. What is a bit odd is that in D&D you would get all your attacks in the same time frame (6 seconds) but in DDO 4 animations take longer than 3 and 3 take longer than 2. This leads to the odd situation where sometimes it is actually faster to have less combat animations.

To compensate for this, DDO makes your later attacks more accurate. Attack #3 gets a +5 to hit and #4 and #5 get +10. Between that and the fact that as your BAB goes up, so does your overall accuracy you end up with more attacks generally being better even if they are a bit slower overall.

With two weapon fighting and two handed fighting some of your animations consist of more than one attack. With two handed fighting your second swing has two attacks, and the other TWF feats grant more on later swings in the animation chain. Two handed fighting has Glancing Blows which are little mini attacks on all the creatures in front of you and you get those on your first swing. Further THF feats grant additional glancing attacks on later swings.

Ranged attacks are a whole different ball game. They use the same animation for every attack, although soon they will be adding the iterative attack bonuses so standing and shooting will get you some more accurate shots. BAB still plays a part here and the higher your BAB the faster the animations go by so you attack quicker. This is actually a bit more like how PnP works than melee combat. Overall however, ranged combat is slower than melee.

MOVEMENT AND COMBAT

When you are moving you get totally different attack animations. They are generally slower and they don’t get extra attacks as your BAB goes up. You also suffer a -4 penalty to-hit when moving. Overall this is simply not as effective a way to hit and kill monsters as standing still. You can scoot a tiny bit and not trigger the movement penalties and you can tumble between attacks while still maintaining the standing still attack chain animations (although you do pause for the tumble animation to take place).

None the less there is a lot of defensive and offensive value to moving in combat. For starters, you must be close to your opponent to hit them. If they move away, you will have to chase them down to hit them, and if you move away from a monster it cannot hit you either.

If you are really good and your connection isn’t very laggtastic you can master the art of physically dodging attacks from monsters. One technique is to tumble away and then back to a monster when you see them wind up for a swing. Another technique is to circle around the monster to stay out of its normal attacking arc, because like you they can generally only hit things in front of them. In addition to them not hitting you, you get flanking bonuses to hit for being behind a monster and if you are a rogue it lets you sneak attack.

Another nice real time trick is useful against a big group of monsters. Sometimes you just can’t handle all of them attacking you at once. What you do is to circle around the group and the monsters will often get into a bit of a traffic jam trying to go around one another to get to you. Take a moment to stop and swing at one and then keep circling. Generally you only get attacked by one or two at a time this way and none of them can flank you.

If you have a ranged weapon and there is a large pillar or similar obstacle around you can do a form of “ring around the rosy”. You just let them chase you around the object and take the occasional pot shot at them. It isn’t a fast way to kill something but it can save your bacon.

What can make a lot of this tricky is lag and latency. There is a time gap between you and the server that is slower than the time it takes to make attacks. The client and server have complicated prediction software that kind of guesses what might happen next and makes decisions based on those guesses. So sometimes you will swing at a monster right in front of you but no attack happens. That is because your client software incorrectly guessed where the monster actually was and the server gets the final say on if a swing hits or not. If you have a poor internet connection this kind of real time dodging can be impossible.

On the other hand this latency can sometimes let you sneak up and kill a monster before it has much of a chance to react to you so it is a double edged street.

BLOCKING

Also in the realm of real time combat tricks is blocking. This is a mechanic unique to DDO. When you block you get various benefits but cannot attack or cast spells. You get +2 to armor class, you get a bonus to your Damage Reduction, and you are immune to some special attacks monsters make. (for instance you can’t be poisoned by spiders or knocked down by giants) On some monsters you can see them wind up for a big attack, if you can hit block in time you may be able to avoid the worst of it and then go back to attacking.

Blocking is often used in DDO to deal with archers. Because ranged attacks will hit the first target in the path of an arrow, you can have a guy with a good shield stand and block. Then have someone attacking the ranged monster stand just behind the blocker. The archer will attack the guy in back, but will be hitting the blocker who simply soaks most of the damage with his DR or avoids the attack by virtue of his AC. Then the person behind them is free to plink away at the monster unmolested.

CONTROLLING YOUR CHARACTER

All this knowledge won’t do you much good if you simply aren’t very good at driving your character around and attacking things. Ultimately you have to take an active part in DDO combat.

I like to use the WASD keys for basic movement. Then I set up my mouse so that the left mouse button is held down to turn on mouse look and the right mouse button attacks. I also assign the thumb button on my mouse to be the block key (normally shift). Most of the time I’m running around in mouse look mode because I can turn and maneuver quickly. When I need to click on hot bars and the like I turn it off to get the pointer but simply lifting off the left mouse button.

I put all my most used combat actions in my #1 hot bar. I almost always put a healing item in slot 1 and then offensive abilities or spells in 3-6. use Ctrl+1 to make sure the number keys are bound to your #1 hot bar and you can quickly use your left hand to fire them off. It’s also nice if you have extra mouse buttons you can bind to those as well. I’ll use the mouse triggers while moving and the keyboard triggers while standing still.

I like the shift/block on the mouse because I find it hard to use my move key hand to hold down a button while still working the WASD keys. While you don’t need to move while blocking I really like tumbling for quick movement and tumbling is done by moving while the shift key is down.

Of course clicking to attack is something you will do a lot of in DDO. Something to keep in mind is that even if you click like the wind it won’t make you actually attack any faster. In addition to carpel tunnel syndrome it has an adverse game effect as well. Sometimes you end up queuing up a couple extra attack animations which will prevent you from stopping to cast a spell, change weapons or block until they are complete. It’s best to try and click about as fast as you actually attack.

There is auto attack if you are click impaired. It used to be terrible but it has gotten a bit better. The up side is that it takes some pressure off your clicking finger which can be great when you are kiting monsters as a ranged attacker or you want to be attacking but not be in mouse look mode. The down sides are that you will only attack targeted monsters and that you will always attack targeted monsters when they are in range.

The first is a problem when in melee and your target keeps moving or you want to watch the health on one target while attacking another. The second is most often a problem with ranged combat because you will start attacking the moment you target something often leading to a fight the party was not yet ready to start.

MY FINAL PIECE OF ADVICE

Kill the spell casters first!

Theris
03-25-2008, 12:13 AM
CRUNCHY BITS #16: SPECIAL WELCOME BACK EPISODE 4E! SNEAK PEEK

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 60, MARCH 22, 2008
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2730.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

This week I’m going to be talking about the 4th edition of Dungeons and Dragons. While Turbine has explicitly stated that they will NOT be overhauling DDO to comply with 4th edition it is worthy show material for two reasons.

1. There is already a fair bit of 4th edition in DDO
2. I’m very excited about a new set or rules to play with (muahahaha)

Almost all of this information comes from a chance I got to actually play a little demo game of 4th edition a few weeks back. They ran a number of demo games at the D&D experience event and this was the same game but at a different location.

We were each given around 8 pages of rules and a first level character. In my game we played through three combat scenarios before clearing the table for the next group to give the game a try. I did my best to devour the rules, look at all the characters and ask pointed questions about how things worked without actually disrupting game play. This is what I learned…

LET’S START BY LOOKING AT CHARACTERS

The character’s were a mix of the familiar and the very different.

Ability scores, armor class, and initiative were largely unchanged. Skills use largely the same mechanic as they do now, but they have been condensed down to a smaller and more flexible set. For instance hide and move silently are combined into stealth, while climb, jump and swim are rolled into athletics. One addition in skills are passive insight and perception, fixed values (10+skill bonus) to compare against hidden objects or such that you were not actively looking for, much as how spot is handled in DDO.

Saving throws are totally different. The Will, Reflex and Fortitude saves have been transformed into “defense values” which work exactly like armor class. A spell that used to require a fortitude save will now “attack” a character using their fortitude defense. The actual value of these scores seems about equal to 10 + their old 3.5 value.

There still are saving throws but they are a totally different animal. Now a saving throw is a d20 roll that succeeds on an 11 or better. Some traits will add bonuses to the roll but the target number is always the same. Essentially saving throws have become a random luck roll and are usually used to recover from conditions rather than to avoid them in the first place.

One big difference are hit points. Characters start with many more Hit points than in normal D&D and are in fact much closer to DDO hit point numbers (20-33 on the characters I saw). Beyond that there are new hit point rules. Characters have a blooded level equal to half their hit points. Many feats and abilities are now triggered by this blooded state. Characters do not die by reaching -10 hit points and don’t bleed when unconscious. Instead they start to make saving throws when at 0 or less, and die only after failing three such saving throws. They can also die if they reach their blooded level in negative hit points.

Along with hit points all characters have “healing surges”. Each character had a slightly different number of surges per day and a different value for how many hit points each surge could heal. The default way to use a healing surge is to rest for five minutes. Once per combat you can use one as a “second wind” which takes an action but heals you and gives a +2 bonus to your defenses for the round. Certain spells and abilities will let you use healing surges at different times as well. This mechanic really made the adventure flow better and let us keep adventuring even after a tough fight without giving us unlimited healing during an encounter.

Each character had a pretty sizeable list of class and racial features listed on their character sheet. Some were familiar like dwarven poison resistance, and some were entirely new like a warlocks “shadow walk”.

Movement and range is now measured in “squares” instead of feet although the conversion is still the same of 5’ to a square.

Characters now have action points. Unlike in DDO these are for use during play rather than when character building. You earn action points when accomplishing quest goals or whenever the DM wants to hand them out. They reset to 1 after a full nights rest.

The really big change were the Powers. All character classes and races now gain powers. Powers are divided into Martial, Arcane, and Divine categories. The Martial powers are called exploits, the arcane powers are spells and the divine powers are prayers. Every character had a pretty sizeable number of powers they could use.

Powers we saw came in three categories based on how often you could use them. At-Will powers can be used as often as you like, Encounter powers were once per encounter, and Daily powers were once per day. Every class had at least one of each category, so wizards had spells they could cast at will and fighters had exploits they could only perform once per day. Each power is essentially a special action that could combine a range of movement, attacks, and other effects.

Having so many powers even at first level made playing the characters a lot more interesting than the old “swing-hit” “swing-miss” of classic D&D.

LET’S TALK COMBAT

It is still a turn based game and initiative works the same as ever.

Each round now gives a character three actions they can perform… One standard action, one move action, and one simple action. You can use a standard for an extra move or simple, and you can use a move for an extra simple. You can also spend up to one action point per round to take an extra action of any type.

Standard actions are usually attacks or offensive powers, move actions are about like they sound, and simple actions are things like drawing a weapon.

There are also opportunity actions which are like the old attack of opportunity but include reactions other than attacks.

There are also reactions and immediate actions which are both actions you do on someone else’s turn but vary by timing. And of course there are still free actions like talking which you can do whenever you like.

There are no longer full round actions so far as we could tell.

Attack and damage rolls are largely unchanged except that some attacks now go against the Fort/Will/Reflex defense scores instead of armor class and damage values seem to be a bit larger than in previous editions.

Critical are very different now. They have simplified crits so that a natural 20 is a critical attack and crits always do maximum damage. No multipliers and no confirmation rolls. Also, any power making an attack roll can crit and few if any monsters are immune to critical. The one complication is that while a 20 is still an auto hit, if you would normally miss on a 20 you can’t crit your target.

Flanking seemed largely unchanged although now it grants an effect called “combat advantage” which is still a +2 to hit but is applied for a number of situations that used to have different bonuses such as attacking a prone target or striking from a mount.

You can find many of these rules and the example characters sheets on line on WOTCs web site and with a little imagination you could easily run your own game of 4th edition light.

SUMMARY

Overall I found it to be a wonderfully crunchy yet more streamlined set of rules. First level characters were far more exciting to play than in 3.5 where they are one hit wonders much of the time. To me, wizards felt more like wizards from fiction, and fighters were just more interesting to play.

I love the self healing mechanic. As a game master it was annoying that the party felt compelled to get a full nights rest after any challenging fight. I will need to adjust the way I think of damage though. I now imagine that characters are not so much as fixing their wounds when they use a healing surge as tending them and girding their strength to carry on the fight.

Combats weren’t exactly faster, but we almost never had to look up a rule or add up a bunch of bonuses because all the details were in our powers list. If anything fights were more strategic because so many powers involved a combination of movement and attacks based on enemy position.

Even though I love crunch, for me D&D is at its heart about role playing and not about rules. No matter what they change D&D is still D&D so long as our imaginations soar on the wings of dragons, yearn to hold cold steel, or cast fire from our fingertips. A good set of game rules just adds to the fun.

SAMPLE DOCUMENTS

Here are the documents we used in the game we played. Sig played a dwarf fighter and Anne played a Tiefling Wizard.


Official D&D 4E Appendix | PDF, 51 KB (http://www.umberhulks.com/4e/dnd4e-rules_01.pdf)
This file came as a cheat sheet with our pre gen characters.

Official D&D 4E Demo Characters | ZIP/PDF, 1MB (http://www.umberhulks.com/4e/ExperienceCharacters.zip)
These are the characters that were available to us in the game that we played.

Here are some extra documents gathered from the online community:


Official D&D 4E Experience 2008 Info Sheet | PDF, 87 KB (http://www.umberhulks.com/4e/news_20080228.pdf)
This was distributed at the Experience D&D Event in February 2008

Unofficial D&D 4E PHB Lite v1.2 | PDF, 606 KB (http://www.ucalgary.ca/&#37;7Eamwhit/PHB_4E_Lite_v1_2.pdf)
This is a fan made production taking all the known documents out there and organizing into a Lite Edition of the Player’s Handbook

Theris
03-30-2008, 01:16 AM
CRUNCHY BITS #17: TEAM TACTICS

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 61, MARCH 29, 2008
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2761.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

You will find a number of threads on the DDO boards talking about ideal team compositions, from the classic Fighter, Rogue, Wizard, Cleric to the extremes of parties consisting of only one class. Different folks have differing opinions about which groups are best or which groups should be best.

It is my opinion that nearly all party combinations can work to successfully complete a quest but that the key is knowing not what characters to bring but how to best use the ones you have at the time. And the key to that is good teamwork.

If the individual players in a party are strong enough compared to the quest difficulty you don’t need teamwork and you don’t especially need any given class or ability in the quest. Many of the high level quests can be effectively soloed by the very best of the best DDO players.

But most of the time you need your team mates and there are some quests that simply can not be soloed effectively. Being a good team player, even if you are a hot shot is a valuable and much appreciated skill in the game. Even a weak player with a relatively weak character can be a valuable asset if they can learn to support the team.

SO WHAT IS TEAMWORK

The first pillar of teamwork is adaptability. You need to take into account not only your own characters strengths and weaknesses but also those of the other players in the group. You also need to be aware of the challenges the quest presents and how your group can best meet those challenges.

The second pillar of teamwork is communication. The team will only perform well if everyone is running the same game plan. Sometimes little needs to be said and everyone simply knows what to do, but this is more the exception than the rule. Team members have to know what is expected of them and what they expect from others.

Combining the two you get a cohesive team of individuals who understand each others capabilities and work to best take advantage of them. Without either you often have a big mess where characters work at cross purposes and tempers flare when the quest effort falls apart.

UNDERSTANDING PARTY ROLES

When we talk about classes we should really be talking about rolls. Each class has its own unique abilities but each class can also be built in very different ways, and there are of course multi-class characters that have their own unique mixes of abilities. One character can perform multiple rolls but it is often challenging to build and play for.

DPS: The DPS roll is simply the ability to kill monsters quickly. Traditionally it means damage per second but here I’m abstracting that to include the use of kill spells and the like. Most classes but not all characters are capable of contributing to this roll, and it is pretty much the most important roll in most quests.

Tanks: Tanks are characters that can take a beating and who intentionally try to become the combat target for monsters the party encounters so that softer members of the party remain safe.

Healers: Healers heal damage and other status conditions so that the party can recover from losses and face the next encounter at full strength. Usually a strong healer can raise the dead, cure nearly any ailment, and can keep people healed in a tough fight. Support healers can help top off health bars or take care of minor ailments.

Crowd Control: This roll is defined by hindering monsters without actually killing them or even dealing much damage. Crowd control can be essential for the really tough fights and can generally save party resources. This can range from spells like hold monster, to simply standing in a doorway to block monsters from coming through it.

Logistics: This pretty much encompasses anything that doesn’t involve fighting such as dealing with traps, locks, hidden doors, npc dialogs, runes and so on. It can also cover casters of spells like dimension door that enable special tactics to be used.

Buffers: Finally we have the characters that make others in the part more powerful via offensives and defensive buffs of various kinds.

Now DPS is the roll you pretty much can’t quest without. You don’t need a specialist necessarily but you need to be able to kill monsters pretty quickly or it makes most of the other rolls all but impossible.

Most rolls, if performed well enough can help compensate for a weakness in another area. A party with strong healers can make up for a lack of strong tanks, and a strong crowd controller can make up for weak healing and so on.

Many rolls often come together as well. Many DPS characters are also tanks to some extent, and most healers can also buff and do some crowd control. The trick is to figure out which roll is most needed in a particular group and which roll is most essential to overcoming the quest so you can focus on that.

Communication comes into play here in letting your group know what you can and can’t do and how well you can do it. That way folks know what to expect and what they can ask of you. When two characters overlap a duty like buffing or healing, it is often most efficient to assign the roll to a particular character or divide up the specific duties so people aren’t wasting spells.

It is never a good idea to ask someone who isn’t good at something to fill that roll. It is far better to figure out a tactic to avoid needing that roll. On the same hand, be flexible. If your character isn’t good at fighting X type of monster, don’t do it. Use a healing wand or try body blocking for other party members. If you feel useless ask for advice about how you could help more.

LEADERSHIP AND RESPECT

A good leader can make a world of difference in a quest, especially when running it for the first time. But leadership is not easy and it requires cooperation from the team members. I feel the key is to balance an authoritative role with full respect for the members of the party. You need to provide guidance and coordination but each person comes to play the game in the way that’s fun for them, so you can’t be too demanding or micromanage someone else’s play without sucking all the fun out of it.

I think a good leader in DDO asks people to do things instead of order them to and listens to the player if they don’t think the plan will work. After all no one knows their character’s abilities better than the player themselves. On the other hand a player should always consider the leaders request and try to fulfill it if reasonable. Being a quest leader can be difficult and stressful and the last thing they need is a heated debate. Unless you are really and truly certain a plan won’t work or if its been tried and failed, its best to defer to the quest leader when in disagreement.

GROUP TACTICS

Let’s take a look at some common group tactics.

The Swarm: This is a tactic for groups with a large number of strong DPS characters. Everyone fights and you try to gang up on single targets to take them down fast. The swarm usually does not need a lot of in combat healing or a strong tank since everyone is sharing agro and targets die quickly. Crowd control works well with the swarm because one of its weakness is fighting large groups. Buffing is also very helpful, especially bard songs and group buffs. It helps if the swarm has a leader because its essential that the group doesn’t divide itself and get bogged down.

Tank Tactics: If a group has a very strong tank paired with a good healer/buffer you can use these techniques. In this group the tank needs to be the one to call the shots and start the encounters so they can effectively control agro. If they are good at their job then the healer only has one person to keep an eye on and in generally needs to heal less overall.

The group will need the other members to deal damage as sometimes the tank has to turtle up and block. Rogues are about perfect for this groups as they can do incredible damage when they don’t have agro. It also works well with area damage spells because the tank can often hold the monsters in one spot.

Pull and Purge: This is a tactic to take advantage of persistent damage spells like blade barrier and firewall. It works quite well for groups without a strong tank but requires coordination. The party picks a spot to make a stand. The toughest members of the group then go find monsters to drag back to the designated location. The casters then drop area damage spells to kill off the monsters. You repeat this process until you have cleared out an area.

The casters will pull a lot of hate this way and there are two main ways to defend them. The first is where they use a few defensive spells and then run and jump around dragging enemies after them through the spell effects.

The second is to have non-casters stand in a doorway or narrow gap between the casters and the monsters and have the area spell on the monster side of the doorway. Often the door blockers need not even be especially tanky as they will rarely be attacked.

The pull and purge is especially effective in long quests with huge numbers of monsters because it requires little healing and kills many monsters with each area spell. The down side is this can be pretty boring for melee types as they either have to chase monsters around or just stand in a doorway.

Team Zerg: The team zerg requires everyone in the group to stay together while you run quickly through a quest. Generally the goal of the group is not to clean out all the monsters so they simply run past many encounters and only fight when they must. Casters are quite good at this tactic. Haste makes things much easier and area spells are great for dealing with a big train of monsters when you get to an obstacle or a nice doorway to block in.

Team Zerging has its risks though. If one member falls behind or gets lost it can derail the tactic forcing the party to stop in a dangerous location or backtrack through a pile of hostile monsters. It is very important that everyone knows the plan and who to follow. When someone dies its better to quickly grab the stone and get moving that to raise them on the spot with hostiles all around.

Buffing is very useful here. Often healers have trouble maintaining line of site on everyone so anything that prevents damage from happening in the first place will go a long way towards keeping everyone alive. Freedom of movement can be especially helpful to keep the party from having to stop and defend a held ally.

Theris
04-14-2008, 03:07 AM
CRUNCHY BITS 18: BARBARIANS

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 62, April 5, 2008
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2808.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

Unlike other classes I’ve done episodes on the barbarian is not misunderstood or under valued. They are brute damage machines and everyone pretty much knows it. If you ever find yourself wanting to make a melee character that does as much damage as is possible, then barbarian is the class for you.

RAGING

The real key to understanding barbarians is understanding the mechanics of their Rage ability. Without rage, barbarians are just bad fighters with a few extra hit points and a poor armor class.

Rage is an activated ability barbarians get at first level and it becomes their most important trait by mid to high levels. It’s primary effect is to raise the barbarians Strength and Constitution scores. This starts at +4 to each but it increases both at certain barbarian levels and through enhancements and can currently get as high as +10 to each.

The strength bonus is key as it adds to both attack and damage rolls which are your bread and butter respectively. The con bonus is nice as well as you get extra hit points while ranged and keeps your already high fortitude save even higher letting you ignore most poisons, diseases and so on.

Rage also +2 moral bonus to will saves which can also be boosted up to around +6 with enhancements. Most barbarians have poor will saves so it’s a nice boost.

The duration of each rage is calculated by a formula like this. Start with 30 Seconds base plus 6 seconds for each con bonus point (including the con bonus from raging) That total is multiplied by any bonus from the extended rage enhancement. At high level you can expect a rage to last around 3.5 minutes. A high level barbarian can rage up to 8 times per rest with the extra rage enhancement for a total of almost a half hour of raging per shrine which is often enough to stay raged nearly all the time in many quests.

A low level barbarian will spend less time raged and needs to save their rage for the more difficult fights. Limited rage times is also the factor that makes some barbarians a bit on the impatient side as once they rage they like to keep fighting as long as it lasts to make the best use of it.

Rage does have some down sides you need to be aware of. Most importantly a raging barbarian can not cast spells or use any spell casting items such as wands, scrolls or clickies. About all they can do is drink potions and kill things. You may end rage any time you like to allow you to use items, but again limited rage time means this is not preferred. Barbarians are well advised to carry lots of pots of various kinds to cure ailments and cast minor buffs on themselves as needed.

Rage also lowers your armor class by 2 points, although most barbarians consider armor class to be a negligible part of their build anyhow.

There are the down sides of coming out of your rage. Firstly you are fatigued which gives you penalties to strength and saving throws. You can remove this with any restoration item or spell including the ever handy lesser restoration potion.

The trickier thing about ending rage is that your con drops and with it your hit points. Many a barbarian has found themselves low on HP such that when their rage ends the fall over dead and until that happens the rage prevents them from using a healing wand or clickie… The lesson here is to always have some healing potions handy! Of course its always a good trick for amusing your team mates.

The final note on rage is the Barbarian Critical Rage enhancement. This is the crown jewel of raging for high level barbarians. It extends the crit range of any weapon the barbarian uses while raging up to two points. No other class has anything like it and it gives them a nice edge in the DPS trade. Because of the way crits work in DDO it is most powerful with high multiplier weapons like Picks and Axes.

OTHER STUFF

While rage is the main ability of the barbarian it isn’t the only one they have that is useful. Barbarians get a power attack enhancement which is great for extra damage. They get damage reduction as they level up and some enhancements that can add to it. They also get a nice damage reduction boost that offers very high DR for a short time. This really is nice in a knock down drag out fight.

All barbarians get a 10&#37; run speed boost at first level which isn’t a huge deal but sure is fun and gives them a real edge in killing fast and efficiently. Barbarians have the highest base hit points gaining 12 per level, two more than fighters and paladins get. They also get 4 skill points per level which is a bit more than the many 2 per level classes out there.

Finally they get some bonuses to save against traps and the uncanny dodge ability which is occasionally handy for a short boost to AC or saves.

SUMMING IT UP

So all together barbarians are generally about raging up and laying the beat down on monsters! They usually don’t have much AC as they can only wear medium armor, don’t usually use shields, and don’t usually care about dex. They just stay alive by killing stuff before it kills them and relying on lots of hit points to keep on their feet. At lower levels this can irritate clerics but at high level it’s a very effective strategy and they can often kill a monster before it gets a chance to strike back.

BUILDING BARBARIANS

Building a barbarian is pretty easy although it can take some planning.
Race wise Dwarves and Humans are popular choices. Dwarves get a lot of nice enhancements like their bonuses to axe attack and damage which follow the high HP high damage theme well. Humans are the only race to have a strength enhancement and their extra feat is quite nice as barbarians get no bonus feats. Warforged are an interesting choice for their con bonus and immunity to the fatigue following rage. All the other races can work fine although elves have issues with their lower starting con score.

Stat wise it’s fairly simple. You generally want to crank up strength as high as it will go and then make sure you have a decent constitution. Barbarians generally only put points into dex if they intent to use Two Weapon Fighting in which case they generally start with 15 or 16 Dex. Wisdom is a tertiary choice to buttress their will saves which can be a weakness for the class. Charisma and intelligence are generally ignored.

There really aren’t any essential skills for a barbarian but jump, and balance are good choices as they are generally pretty handy. Listen can also be nice to see sneaking enemies.

FEATS

Feats require some consideration. Most barbarians are about DPS and to best maximize DPS you should go with one of the weapon styles, either Two Weapon or Two Handed fighting. Of the two Two Handed fighting is the most common choice as it plays into a barbarians high strength and base damage. On very high level barbarians Two Weapon fighting may actually offer slightly superior damage but it is much harder to build for because you need enough dex to qualify for the feats (17 by the time you are mid level).

In addition to the three weapon style feats all barbarians will want power attack. It is key to high damage, especially for the Two Handed Weapon users. Improved Critical is also a must have. So that is 5 feats pretty much every barbarian will take which is 12 levels of feats or 9 for humans. This leaves little room to play around with.

Toughness is often taken but a lot of the more experienced barbarians feel that this is overkill as the typical barbarian already has 300 to 400 hit points at high level without it using typical equipment.

Stunning blow is also pretty nice, especially for Warforged or Dwarven barbarians who can boost it with racial enhancements. Since the DC is based on strength it can be pretty reliable.

MULTI CLASSING

Barbarians don’t multi class especially well. Getting the most out of rage requires that you gain a lot of barbarian levels especially to get critical rage 2 which isn’t available until level 14.

Usually the only thing you get of worth by splashing barbarian is the 10% run speed boost. While I have done this on a couple of my own characters, I wouldn’t generally recommend it.

Many new players are tempted to take a splash level of cleric or wizard (as a warforged) so they can self heal with their barbarian. This doesn’t generally work so well because you can’t cast while raged and you generally want to be raged as much as possible. At low level its handy but at high level it’s usually a waste.

Typically the best class combos with barbarian are fighter and rogue. Rogue gets you access to some handy skills and fighter gives you a bit more wiggle room with your combat feats.

WEAPONS AND ARMOR

Most barbarians just don’t worry much about armor. Some go so far as to just wear robes of various kinds because they can be hot swapped to stop elemental damage or the like. Generally breast plates are the order of the day since they are the highest AC medium armors. Barbarians with rogue levels often go for chain shirts to use evasion and those with fighter levels often use full plate. A properly built barbarian can go for a pretty decent AC with the right gear but its just not playing to their strengths.

Weapon wise, it is usually just a question of finding the best weapon of the type you took improved crit for. Great Axes are popular with dwarves while greatswords are often used by other races. For the rarer Two weapon fighting barbarians you generally see either dwarven axes, kopeshs, or picks depending on race and weapon preference.

PLAYING A BARBARIAN

While its not rocket science there is an art to playing a barbarian well. You really want to be aggressive but don’t just charge into the middle of every group of monsters you see. If you stick with your group you will take less damage and generally have a healer to back you up. One on one you can probably handle just about any monster but a group of critters can easily chew you up, especially if they hit hard like ogres and trolls.

One tip is to keep moving, especially facing a big group. Don’t let monsters gang up on you, circle around them or positioning yourself in a narrow doorway or against an obstacle. If you are really good you can sometimes just manually dodge incoming attacks and then swoop back in to finish a kill. Also try not to fight where archers and spell casters can rain destruction on you. Your low AC will get you lit up in a hurry this way unless you are well protected with spells or DR.

Remember you aren’t a true tank so try to only have agro on the thing you intend to kill next if you can help it. Some barbarians go kill happy and swing at everything in the room. If you are going to hit the thing, make sure you kill it quickly or you will get a reputation as a giant mana sponge for clerics. Do your job well however and folks will be amazed at how easy the dungeon is with you along for the ride.

Finally, once you get to level 6 or so remember to turn power attack on and pretty much leave it that way, especially if you are a two handed fighter. For two weapon barbarians you may want to wait until level 8 or 10 to start using it all the time.

Oh ya, and carry lots of potions.

Theris
04-14-2008, 03:17 AM
CRUNCHY BITS 19: PALADINS

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 63, April 12, 2008
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2855.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

This week I have decided to pull the pin out of the holly hand grenade and take a close look at paladins. Much like many other episodes this one was inspired by a debate regarding the value of the proposed mod 7 changes to paladins and their overall worth as a class.

OVERVIEW

I’ll start by telling you what I argued on the forums. Paladins are a defensive combat class. No other class can match their potent array of defensive abilities. They can achieve the highest armor class, the highest saving throws, and back that up with solid hit points, a number of critical defensive buffs, and decent healing.

While they are a full bab class their offensive abilities are generally weaker than the other full bab classes and can even fall short of a combat built bard, cleric or rogue. Their only offensive class ability is their smite evil and their only offensive spell is divine favor.

PALADIN BASICS

The ability that paladins are most famous for is their aura of good. Their aura benefits both the paladin and any allies standing within 30’ or so. For starters it grants a +1 bonus to Armor class and all Saving Throws which can be increased by enhancement points up to a +4 bonus to each. At level 3 it grants a +4 to saves against fear which can also be increased via enhancements. It can also grant concentration bonuses via an enhancement but this is almost never taken.

The second blockbuster ability their Divine Grace. At second level this grants the paladin bonus to all saving throws equal to their charisma score. Generally this will range from 2 to 10 points.

What makes both of these abilities so special is that they stack with pretty much any and all other bonuses and give the paladin an edge no other class can really match.

At third level paladins become totally immune to disease and fear. This is quite handy at lower levels but a bit less so at high level.

Paladins also get lay on hands starting at second level. It is a level and charisma based ability so it is most useful in pure or mostly paladin builds with decent charisma scores. At higher levels it is usually worth 100-200 points, and you can gain additional uses via enhancements.

They get a limited cure disease starting at 6th level and turn undead at 4th level but these are rarely used abilities for most paladins even if they are occasionally handy.

And of course they get Smite Evil, which is an activated attack that adds their charisma bonus to attack and 10+3*(level-1) to damage if it hits. They gain uses of this both by leveling and through enhancements. It can be a bit tricky to use, especially on monsters that like to move around.

SPELLS

Paladins gain a range of spells starting at level 4, although their spell points don’t start getting decent until around level 6. Most of their spells are defensive buffs and cures, although they have a few wildcards.

In the offense department Divine Favor is the most commonly used as it grants up to +3 to attack and damage while active. Bless is a handy low level buff and Holy Sword can summon a fairly powerful weapon of any type they choose.

Defensively they tend to use Virtue which grants temporary hit points, resist energy which is always nice to have, Angelskin which grants DR/5 against evil critters, and Death Ward which protects against death spells and negative energy attacks like level drain.

Unfortunately paladins don’t get a large spell point pool so they rarely have the mana to run offensive buffs, defensive buffs and healing and its very hard for them to buff a full party much less a raid unless they specialize their build.

ENHANCEMENTS

Enhancement wise, paladins have a huge number of options. They have lines to help their healing and spell points, lines to enhance their aura, the usual skill bonuses, charisma bonuses, extra uses of their class abilities, access to the cleric religion specializations, agro increasing lines, toughness enhancements, and a number of defensive boosts. Often paladins must choose their enhancements carefully for there are many decent options.

OTHER STUFF

Paladins get 10 hit points per level and fortitude is their only strong save category. They get a meager 2 skill points per level and only have 3 class skills (Concentration, Diplomacy, and Heal) none of which are especially useful for most paladins. They can use all armors and all martial weapons as well as heavy shields. It is also important to note that paladins can only be Lawful Good.

STAT CONSIDERATIONS

One of the hardest things about making a paladin is figuring out where to put build points. Strength is always important for a fighting class, as is constitution. Charisma is key as it drives many of their special abilities. Wisdom is needed to cast spells and get extra spell points. That pretty much leaves dex and intelligence as the less important stats, and most will want at least a tolerable dex score for AC purposes. Thus most paladins you meet are not going to be terribly smart.

Paladins rarely take an 18 in any stat as they need to spread those points around. Scores of 16 and 14 are much more common.

RACE PICKS

Most of the races make decent paladins. Non Drow elves are a bit less than optimal since DEX is not a very important stat. Warforged are probably the most difficult due to their penalties in both charisma and wisdom. Dwarves have the charisma penalty but they make up for it in their offensive and defensive prowess. A truly tank like paladin may well go with dwarf to get access to armor mastery. Humans and Halflings make nice balanced paladins and Drow are quite effective due to their charisma bonus.

MULTI CLASSING

Many argue there is little reason to maintain a pure paladin and I tend to agree to some extent. I think most paladins could benefit from at least a splash of another class and paladin mixes pretty well at many different level marks. It is also one of the most popular classes to splash into other builds.

Fighter is a common splash to get more combat feats or access to intimidate as a class skill. Rogue is popular to add evasion to their impressive save profile as well as to get skills like UMD. Splashing one level of sorcerer is an option for paladins looking to boost their spell point pool. Ranger, wizard and cleric are also not unheard of as they add some needed mana and a smattering of other abilities. Due to alignment restrictions you can not mix paladin with barbarian or bard. Its kind of sad because bard/paladin would be a great pairing of classes.

COMMON PALADIN BUILDS

The typical paladin is a mix of defensive class abilities coupled with a few offensive minded feats to make a durable, self healing fighter. Sword and shield is fairly common.

Some builders opt for more offense and go with two handed or two weapon fighting and are more focused on the saves and healing than on the AC benefits of the class. They won’t have the DPS of a fighter ranger or barbarian using these techniques but neither do they have the weaknesses to magic those builds can suffer from.

In some ways the rarest builds are those paladins focused entirely on defense. No one can do it as well as a paladin but it tends to leave them with very little offensive power unless they mix in some fighter levels. A dwarven paladin fighter is probably the best tank build in the game.

PLAYING PALADINS

In many ways paladins are an especially easy class to play. Since they have almost no weaknesses you don’t have to do much to compensate. Just keep an eye on your health bar and wade into battle, throwing out a lay on hands when stuff gets hairy. Most of your casting is done before or after fights. Certainly some paladin builds can be more complicated but compared to every other class they are pretty easy to run and have few class specific strategies.

Paladins are great solo characters at early and mid levels, probably the very best in fact. They tend to struggle in solo play at high level as their mana pool isn’t deep enough to sustain a ton of healing and their AC starts to fail them in high level elite quests although they still do better than most of the other full bab classes.

They biggest issue with paladins in group play is that their damage output is not especially great and the party usually has healing and buffing covered by stronger casters in the group. This leaves the paladin as a support fighter with tanking abilities that don’t often come into play unless they invested in a means to grab agro from higher DPS characters. It isn’t that they don’t contribute strongly to the party, its just that there isn’t a staring roll for them to play in the group.

Personally I think the key to a good paladin is similar to a good multi class character. Know your abilities and be flexible enough to shift your focus to whichever area the party needs the most help with.

MOD 7 CHANGES

Module 7 promised paladin love and while not all the paladins are especially happy with what is proposed I think it is definitely an improvement. The first change is a reduction in the cost of the aura enhancements from a 2/4/6 scheme to a 1/2/3/4 scheme, as well as adding a 4th line for the line that increases armor class. Which makes these enhancements much more attractive.

The second initiative is a line of enhancements that increase the damage from smite evil in various ways. The first in the line gives a special 5d6 damage attack that costs you 10 HP and 1 mana to pull off. From there you can add enhancements that increase the crit range, multiplier and damage.

Although it’s not in the dev notes yet, Eladrin also says that smite will now have a refresh timer so every 90 seconds or so you will get all your uses of smite evil back instead of having to wait for a shrine.

Finally they added a line of enhancements that let the paladin use their lay on hands to raise the dead. I feel this is a great addition to the paladins healing arsenal and makes them more able to sub in for a cleric when the need arises.

Theris
04-27-2008, 09:17 PM
CRUNCHY BITS 20: WEAPON TRAITS PART 1

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 64, April 19, 2008
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2910.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

This week we are taking a look at random weapon traits in DDO. This is a pretty big topic so this is going to be a multi part show as we take a close look at the myriad properties found on weapons.

WEAPON BASICS

Randomly generated weapons in DDO have 4 basic parts: Material, Enhancement, Prefix and Suffix. Different properties appear only in specific parts. Named weapons don’t follow the same pattern and often have unusual abilities in unusual combinations. I think the random trait system is a big part of what makes hunting for treasure in DDO fun.

ENHANCEMENT

Let’s start with the Enhancement part. This is the “plus” number on a magic weapon such as +1 or +3. This is called the weapon’s “Enhancement bonus” and it adds that number to all attack and damage rolls made with the weapon. All magic weapons must have at least a +1 enhancement bonus. Enhancement bonuses are never supposed to go above +5.

In DDO, for every +1 enhancement bonus beyond the first, the level requirement to wield the weapon increases by 2. Prefix and Suffix weapon traits all have a “plus equivalent” value which determines how they effect the level requirement of the weapon. For instance Puncturing is a +2 equivalent so it raises the min level requirement on a weapon by 4. Weapons with the Race Restricted trait lower the minimum level by 2.

Most of the time when comparing weapons you are considering whether you need the accuracy provided by the enhancement bonus or the extra damage or ability provided by another trait. After all, if you don’t hit, all those other traits are wasted. It takes some experience to know how much enhancement your character needs to hit the kind of monsters you tend to fight. Personally I like to keep at least one high enhancement weapon around so if I am having trouble landing blows I can switch over to it.

Another consideration with enhancement bonuses is that the damage it adds, increases the base weapon damage. Most of the other damage traits are add on effects. The difference is that base weapon damage is multiplied on a critical and add on effects are not. If you have a good crit profile on your weapon then enhancements may yield better damage than extra dice from elemental or alignment effects.

MATERIALS

Materials are what the weapon is made out of. They have no effect on the minimum level to wield the weapon. Generally all these do is allow the weapon to bypass the damage reduction of certain types of creatures. So a DR5/adamantine is bypassed by adamantine weapons. The common materials are:

Flametouched Iron: Weapon treated as Good aligned
Darkwood: Slightly harder than wood; good for druids & is not subjected to rust monster damage
Densewood: As hard as steel; good for druids & is not subjected to rust monster damage
Byeshk: Bypasses damage reduction of the daelkyr (aka: Beholders, Mindflayers, and other Abberations from Xoriat), 20 hardness
Adamantine: Bypasses damage reduction of certain monsters (in particular, of many constructs)
Cold Iron: Effective against fey creatures
Alchemical Silver: Bypasses damage reduction of vampires and devils. they also sometimes effect the hardness of an item giving it better durability.I find that Adamantine is usually the most critical type of weapon in early levels. Some of the first DR types you encounter are adamantine. The STK guardian is a good example. Now days we also have the transmuting trait which has made a lot of these materials types all but obsolete as it impersonates all of them at once. Adamantine however is also extremely durable so adamantine weapons almost never wear out.

PREFIXES AND SUFFIXES

All other weapon traits are either prefix or suffix traits. If you have a +1 Holy Hand Axe of Pure Good, Holy is the prefix and Pure Good is the suffix. A given trait will only appear in a given slot. So Holy is always a prefix trait and pure good is always a suffix trait.

ELEMENTAL TRAITS

Elemental traits do a bit of elemental damage when the weapon hits. They are all prefix traits and generally come in two types: regular and burst. For instance, Shock and Shocking burst are electrical elemental traits.

Regular elemental traits do 1d6 damage of the given type on every hit, and are +1 equivalent.
Burst traits are do 1d6 on normal hits and an extra 1d8 times the weapons crit modifier on crits. Burst effects are +2 equivilent.You may hear of elemental and other damage effects being called Procs. The term has its roots in early Multi User Dungeon games and stands for Process Random Occurrence. Elemental damage isn’t random but the term has come to apply to any effect that isn’t base weapon damage. It’s just a handy way to refer to all such bonus traits.

Regular elemental traits are better average damage than a +1 enhancement but offer no accuracy bonus. So you are trading damage for accuracy. They also can sometimes do double damage on creatures vulnerable to a particular element or no damage to one resistant to it. Generally they are quite beneficial.

The burst versions are best on weapons with good crit profiles. You can find a weapons crit profile by taking the number of digits in the crit range and multiplying that by the crit multiplier minus one. (minus one because even regular swings do X1 damage so you need to isolate the extra damage from the regular damage). Weapons with poor crit profiles such as a mace don’t benefit much from elemental burst compared to regular elemental procs and it probably isn’t worth the extra +1 equivalency.

Elemental traits include:

Flaming Burst or Flaming - fire damage
Icy Burst or Frost - cold damage
Shocking Burst or Shock - electrical damage
Acid - only acid burst weapons are named or greensteel weapons
Thundering - sonic damage and usually as post-fix trait found on blunt damage weaponsALIGNMENT TRAITS

Like elemental traits these do extra damage when you hit. They are a bit more complicated and varied though.

Pure Alignment effects like pure good or pure law are suffix effects that do 1d6 damage to creatures not of the listed alignment. These are +1 equivalent. In order to use pure effects your character must share the alignment of the weapon or have a UMD greater than 20.

Postfix Alignment Weapon Traits:

True Good: good damage against all non-good creatures
True Chaos: chaotic damage against all non-chaotic creatures
True Law: lawful damage against all non-lawful creaturesPrefix alignment traits use odd pseudonyms for the alignments:

Anarchic: chaotic power doing damage against only lawful aligned creatures
Holy: good damage against only evil creatures
Axiomatic: lawful damage against only chaotic creatures
Unholy: evil damage against only good creaturesThe normal versions do 2d6 damage to any creature of the opposite alignment and are +2 equivalent. There are also burst versions that do an additional 1d6 plus 1d6 per crit multiplier on critical hits. The burst versions are +3 equivalent. The suffix traits can be used by anyone, however if you are of an opposite alignment you suffer a negative level penalty while wielding it. Since this gives you -2 to hit and saves its generally a good idea to avoid doing it. UMD can not avoid this effect.

In addition to the bonus damage, alignment traits can also allow a weapon to bypass alignment based damage reduction.

Pure good is a very reliable and worthwhile trait. It is much like the elemental traits but probably effects the widest range of creatures, pretty much everything but good enemies of which there are very few. Using pure good weapons is one of the main reasons why good is often a better alignment choice than neutral. The other pure traits are decent, but are much less reliable as good number of monsters are either chaotic or lawful.

The prefix traits can do a lot of damage but are less reliable. Holy is quite good as many monsters are evil and you can often just guess what is evil and what isn’t. The others are a bit harder to determine but once you know the monsters well you can often put them to good use. The burst versions are especially good on rapiers and scimitars as they slightly favor weapons with large crit ranges over those with large multipliers.

I don’t like to carry too many weapons around myself so I tend not to use the prefix alignment traits much except for holy, and even then only on a fairly nice overall weapon. They tend to be most powerful early in the game where these procs do as much or more damage than the weapon itself.

BANE WEAPONS

Banes are suffix effects that offer a bonus to attack and damage a specific category of creature. Banes come in lesser, normal, and greater versions.

Lesser Bane: adds +1 to hit and +1d6 damage. Its +1 equivalent
Regular Bane: adds +2 to hit and +2d6 damage. Its +2 equivalent
Greater Bane: adds +4 to hit and +3d6 damage. Its +3 equivalentBane Types are associated with the following creatures:

Reptilian: Kobold, Troglodyte
Goblinoid: Hobgoblin, Bugbear
Orc: Orc
Monstrous Humanoid: Minotaur, Gargoyle, Wild Man
Giant: Ogre, Troll, Hill Giant, Fire Giant, Storm Giant, Stone Giant
Construct: Iron/Clay/Flesh Golem, Warforged, Inevitable, Iron/Mithral/Adamantine Defender, Pillars/Summoning Fires
Elemental: Earth Elemental, Fire Elemental, Air Elemental
Undead: Skeleton, Zombie, Ghoul, Ghast, Wight, Wraith, Spectre, Mummy, Vampire, Lich, Shadow, Umbral Gargolye/Worg
Aberration: Beholder, Rust Monster, Drow Scorpion/Scorrow, Mind Flayer
Ooze: Oozes, Ochre jelly, Black pudding, Violet Slime, Arcane Ooze (Ooze bane does not make the weapon immune to breakage or splitting.)
Evil Outsider: Flesh Render, Fire Reaver, Ice Flenser, Tharaak Hound, Quori Stalker, Hell Hound, Marilith, Jarilith
Chaotic Outsider: Flesh Render, Fire Reaver, Tharaak Hound, Djinn, Marilith, Jarilith
Lawful Outsider: Quori Stalker, Hell Hound, Ice Flenser, Efreet, Bezekira
Magical Beast: Worg, Winter Wolf, Spawn of Whisperdoom, Razorcat
Dragon: Velah, Gianthold Dragons
Animal: Wolf, Dog
Elf: Elf, Drow
Human: Human
Dwarf: Dwarf, Duergar
Halfling: Halfling
Vermin: Spider, ScorpionBane weapons really give you a lot of bang for your buck, especially greater bane. Many consider them the very best DPS weapons in the game for this reason. The problem is that you need to tote around quite a few weapons to cover all the different monsters you may encounter in a quest and you do a bit of weapon swapping as a result.

I find them especially nice on monsters which can not be critted like constructs or undead, but this logic also applies to weapons or characters with poor crit profiles. A nice greater bane weapon is considered quite valuable among DDO elite.

STAT DAMAGE TRAITS

Prefix stat damage traits do one point of stat damage per hit so long as the weapon deals normal damage to the target. These are +3 equivalent. Suffix stat damage traits do 1d6 points of stat damage, but only on critical hits. These are +2 equivalent. For of the three types of stat damage available: Con, Dex, andDstrength -- there is a prefix and suffix trait and a type of weapon they are found on.

Wounding & Puncturing: Constitution you have Wounding as the prefix and Puncturing for the suffix. They are found only on piercing weapons.
Maldroit & Bone Breaking: For dex you have Maladroit as a prefix and Bone Breaking as a suffix. These are found on only blunt weapons.
Weakening & Enfeebling: For strength you have Weakening as a prefix and Enfeebling as a suffix. These are only found on slashing weapons.Stat damage weapons can be extremely powerful. If you reduce a creature’s Con score to zero they die instantly. If you reduce a creatures dex or strength to 0 they become “helpless” making every further attack on them a critical hit. There are also secondary effects. Losing con makes creatures loose hit points, losing strength means the creature is less accurate and does less damage, and losing dex lowers their armor class.

Stat damage does have some down sides. Foremost is that not every creature can be effected by them. Creatures normally immune to critical hits are generally immune to stat damage (with a few exceptions). Also, red and purple named creatures are always immune to stat damage of this kind.

Comparing suffix vs prefix traits is tricky. The prefix ones are generally more reliable but they require you to penetrate DR to work. The suffix ones require crits but ignore DR. If your character has a good enough crit range the suffix abilities will actually do more stat damage on average than the prefix traits. It takes a crit range of 6 for a suffix to exceed a prefix, which is found on keen rapiers or scimitars.

Stat damage is especially popular with characters who are accurate but not especially strong. Often an accurate con damage fighter can kill just as quickly as a strong DPS character because monsters have a lot less con than they do hit points. The wounding rapier of puncturing is one of the most coveted weapons in DDO as it is the single best con damage tool available. Fortunately it is also a finessable weapon.

Stat damage is also very popular with two weapon fighting builds since more attacks means you do stat damage faster. A greater two weapon fighting barbarian with wounding rapiers of puncturing is a truly amazing engine of death.

Weakening and Enfeebling are less commonly used but can also be quite effective because you can get them on scimitars which have a nice wide crit range.

The dex damage traits are often the least used because blunt weapons almost never have a good crit range so the suffix trait is almost useless.

NEXT WEEK

Next week the weapon trait marathon continues as we take a look at skill traits and the infamous power 5

Theris
04-27-2008, 09:43 PM
CRUNCHY BITS 21: WEAPON TRAITS PART 2

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 65, April 27, 2008
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/2974.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml


Welcome back weapon fans. This week we are continuing our tour of the bountiful random weapon traits to be found in DDO. Last week we covered enhancement bonuses, level requirements, materials and the prefix suffix system. We also dug into elemental and alignment damage bonus traits as well as stat damage traits. We are going to start this week of with the infamous power five traits.

THE POWER 5

The power 5 consists of five different weapon traits which are all +5 enhancement equivalents, meaning they raise the weapon’s level requirement by 10. Their initial rarity in the game and their powerful effects earned them a somewhat legendary reputation in the early days of DDO. Today the are still valuable but due to time and the raising of the level cap they are fairly common.

Let’s start with Disruption. This suffix trait only works on undead creatures. Each time an undead is hit with a disruption weapon they must make a will save at DC 14 or be destroyed.

Disruption is nice because you generally can’t crit undead so they are more difficult to kill by pure damage. Rogues often have a hard time with undead so this can be a great weapon for them. In the down side, the low DC means at higher levels you are essentially just hoping they roll a 1 on their saving throw.

Next we have Smiting and Banishing weapons. These two suffix traits are fairly similar in that they fire off only when you confirm a critical hit and if successful they destroy their intended victim. Smiting only effects constructs and forces them to make a DC 23 fortitude save or be destroyed. Banishing effects only summoned creatures and forces them to make a DC 24 will save or be sent back to their home plane (effectively killing them).

Both of these traits are most valuable on weapons with large crit ranges like scimitars and rapiers and are ideal on keen weapons or weapon types for which your character has improved critical. Unlike disruption the saving throws are not trivial to make and even a fairly powerful creature may well fail their save. For tougher targets you may want to hit them with a curse or level drain first to help stack the odds in your favor.

Repeating crossbows are also nice weapons for these traits due to their decent crit range and high rate of fire. Banishing is especially valuable at the moment since nearly all the creatures in the Vale are considered to be summoned. It can be a little tricky to know what can be banished and what can’t. It isn’t so much the type of creature as it is a question of whether the creature belongs in the plane it is fighting in.

And then we have perhaps the most famous of the power 5, the legendary Vorpal weapons. This prefix trait is only found on slashing weapons. It only takes effect when you roll a natural 20 and then confirm a critical. It instantly slays the victim by decapitating them without any saving throw. This works on most creatures, although critters without any head such as oozes are immune.

The up side of Vorpal is that it works on a wide range of monsters and has no saving throw. The down side is that it only has a 5&#37; chance of happening so you are counting on sheer luck. Fortunately in DDO you take a lot of swings so eventually it will go off. The question is whether you could have killed the monster faster by sheer damage rather than waiting for a lucky hit. It is especially nice against creatures with fast regeneration or who simply have a monstrous number of hit points relative to your characters damage output.

Finally we have Paralyzers. Paralyzing is a prefix trait that goes off on every swing and forces the target to make a DC 17 will save or be frozen in place for a few seconds. Unlike similar hold effects this does NOT make the creature helpless and auto crittable. It does keep them from attacking you or running away, which is quite handy. Critters which are not living beings are generally immune to this effect.

Use of paralyzers can be tricky. They can be great for characters who don’t generally deal much damage or who get their damage mostly from effects like sneak attack. They are also quite nice for ranged attackers as you can keep the monster motionless while you plink them to death from a distance.

For soloists they are a mixed blessing. In the one hand it gives you a kind of melee crowd control and can sometimes keep a horde of enemies at bay while you whittle them down one at a time. On the other hand most paralyzing weapons don’t do a lot of damage so it can slow down the rate at which you kill the enemy.

Generally you need to know if your enemies are going to fail the DC 17 often enough to make it worth while, which means paralyzers become less useful at higher levels.

All of the Power 5 have some strategy considerations in common. For starters, none of them work on red or purple named creatures so they don’t do much good in a boss fight. Secondly all but vorpal loose some of their oomph as you face high level monsters with strong saving throws. Thirdly they all eat up a big chunk of a weapons effective enhancement level which means these weapons tend to be weak at actually dealing regular damage. Basically you need to know when they are going to be effective and when they aren’t to get the most of them.

These weapons can be especially fun to use in conjunction with cleave and whirlwind attack since everything you hit could be subject to the effect. From time to time you get lucky and wipe out a swath of creatures all at once. Not something you can count on but it sure is satisfying when it happens.

Much like stat damage weapons the power 5 are most popular with builds that have decent accuracy but aren’t geared for pure DPS.

Power 5 Weapon Traits:

Paralyzing: Prefix, +5, Any creature struck must make Will save 17 or be paralyzed.
Vorpal: Prefix, +5, Beheads (kills) non-immune monsters on a natural 20 followed by a successful confirmation roll of the critical hit.
Banishing: Prefix, +5,Banishers will send extraplanear creatures back to their home plane DC 24 Will save to banish
Disruption: Postfix, +5, A weapon of disruption is the bane of all undead. Any undead creature struck in combat must succeed on a DC 14 Will save or be destroyed.
Smiting: Postfix,+5, Any critical hit on a construct must make a Fortitude save 23 or be destroyed.
WEAPON SKILL TRAITS

Skill traits are unusual in that in addition to sometimes granting your specific weapon an effect, they actually give your character an effect that applies to any weapon you are holding. This lets you wield a skill trait weapon in one hand, and you get the benefit when using the weapon in your other hand. This makes them especially valuable for characters using two weapon fighting.

Another unique aspect of skill traits is that they show up in varying levels of strength
much like enhancement bonuses. All the skill traits except seeker are suffixes.

Let’s start with Seeker. This is a prefix weapon trait that ranges from 2 to 10 and is has an enhancement equivalency of half its seeker value. Thus Seeker 2 is +1 equivalent and seeker 10 is +5. Seeker weapons add their value to your critical confirmation rolls and also add that number to base weapon damage on crits. The better a weapons crit profile, the better this trait is.

My main fighter uses two weapon fighting and tends to use a seeker 10 pick in his off hand and a strong damage kopesh in his main hand. The pick itself rarely does much damage except when critting, but every time the kopesh crits I get an extra 30 points of damage.

Backstabbing is another suffix skill trait. It only comes into play when you are considered to be sneak attacking a target. To do that you have to be within 30 feet and the creature must either have his back to you, be helpless, or be agroed on another target. You needn’t be a rogue to take advantage of this trait. The backstab trait grants a bonus to hit equal to its backstab value, and a somewhat larger bonus to damage (from 2 to 8).

Normally this isn’t an especially great trait because you are usually better served by an equivalent enhancement bonus or other damage trait. However on a two weapon fighting character this trait can really shine as it offers an attack bonus on both weapons while only costing a trait on the off hand weapon.

I find backstabbing effective on TWF rogues and also on any TWF character which generates low agro but could use the extra attack bonus. My combat wizard uses this trick wielding a wounding/puncturing rapier in his main hand and a backstab 5 weapon in his off hand so that his +1 WP rapier is acting more like a +4 WP rapier. And of course the extra damage is always a bonus.

Weighted weapons list a percentage value from 1 to 5 and actually have two distinct effects. Firstly they have a weapon only effect that has a percent chance equal to their weighted score to automatically stun the creature struck. Secondly as a skill trait, they increase your character’s stunning blow DC by a value equal to double the weighted percentage.

Weighted is only found on blunt weapons so that makes this trait a bit limited in application. None the less it can be quite nice as a stunned creature is automatically subject to criticals on every swing. Some have refered to a weighted 5 weapon as a poor mans vorpal since being helpless is usually a death sentence and the 5% chance is the same percentage as rolling a natural 20 on a vorpal. The potential +10 DC on stunning blow attempts can be quite strong, often doubling your chance to land one.

Tendon slice weapons work almost identically to Weighted weapons in that they have a % chance to automatically hamstring a foe and also add twice their listed bonus to the DC of your Hamstring attempts. Unfortunately a hamstrung opponent is only slowed as opposed to a stunned creature which is immobilized completely and just a few quick swings away from dead. For this reason almost no one uses Tendon Slice weapons.

Shattering weapons simply adds its value to the DC of your sunder attempts. Unlike hamstring or stunning blow most combat characters can use sunder without taking a feat for it so this trait is a bit more widely useful. Unfortunately sunder is still rarely used as most monsters are pretty easy to hit anyhow. Thus the sundering trait is not very popular.

Vertigo weapons add their value to the DC of your trip attacks. While not as potent as stunning foes, tripping them does keep them from taking any offensive action until they stand back up, making it a nice defensive combat maneuver. The higher trip DC not only makes it more likely they fall down, but also more likely the stay there as they have to make separate saves to stand up again.

My tactics fighter uses an off hand Vertigo 10 weapon to power up trip attacks made with his main hand weapon. This really makes a huge difference in both my success rate with trip and how long the target stays on the ground. At high level I don’t think my tripping would be consistently effective without employing this tactic.

List of Skill Boosting Weapon Traits:

Seeker: Prefix, Seeker +n, Provides a +n enhancement to confirm critical hits and to damage (before multiplication)
Backstabbing: Postfix, Sneak Attack Bonus +n, Provides a +n competence bonus to-hit and damage for any attack qualifying as a Sneak Attack, regardless of your class
Weighted: Postfix, Weighted n%, This effect gives a +n enhancement bonus to the DC to resist the character's Sap and Stunning Blow attempts
Shatter: Postfix, Shatter +n, This effect gives a +n enhancement bonus to the DC to resist the character's Sunder
Tendon Slice: Postfix, Tendon Slice n%, This effect gives a +n enhancement bonus to the DC to resist the character's Hamstring attempts
Vertigo: Postfix, Vertigo +n, This effect gives a +n enhancement bonus to the DC to resist the character's Trip and Improved Trip attempts


NEXT WEEK

Next week we will wrap up this topic with a look at the various caster focused traits and all the little odds and ends of the random weapon generation tables.

Theris
06-26-2008, 10:08 PM
CRUNCHY BITS 22: WEAPON TRAITS PART 3

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 73, June 21, 2008
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/3310.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

And the weapon trait marathon continues! I was out of commission last week due to that ever pesky real life, but I’ve slain that beast and I’m back. Last time we went over the power 5 and what I call the skill traits. This week we are going to try and wrap up the weapon traits discussion.

Misc Bonus Damage Traits

There are a few un-typed damage traits available on some weapons. All of them are +1 equivalent.

Vicious is a prefix trait and does 2d6 untyped damage to the target on each hit but also does 1d6 damage to you. Due to the self damage it is not very popular.

Maiming is a suffix trait which does an extra 1d6 untyped damage per multiplier – 1) on critical hits. On a strong critting weapon and with improved critical this is a pretty decent damage trait.

Thundering is a prefix trait and does 1d8 sonic damage per multiplier-1 on critical hits. Like Maiming it can be a decent damage trait.

Crit Range Traits
These are prefix triats that double the critical threat range of a weapon and are all +1 equivalent. Keen is the term used for piercing, slashing and Ranged weapons, while impact is the term found on blunt weapons. These are great if you don’t have improved critical, but pretty useless if you do as the effects do not stack together.

Debuff Traits

A number of weapons have debuff traits. That means that when they hit or crit (depending on the effect) they have some negative effect on the target other than killing them.

Cursespwewing is a prefix trait that goes of on each attack and requires the target to make a DC 15 Will save or be cursed, which gives a -4 to attacks and saving throws. It is a +3 equivalent trait and the penalties it offers can be quite handy. For starters the -4 to attack is a bit like adding to your AC so it’s great for tanking. If you use tactics feats or spells it make the target 20&#37; more likely to fail their save. Best of all it can affect pretty much any monster in the game including red and purple names.

Strength Sapping is a prefix trait that requires a dc 15 fort save by the target or they become exhausted (-6 to str, dex and 50% move speed). This doesn’t work on undead or constructs. It is a +4 equivalent trait and offers a decent mix of lowering a monsters attack as well as their armor class. If you are a kiting build the move reduction can be handy as well. It tends not to be as popular as curse spewing since it works on a more narrow range of enemies and the effect is slightly less useful.

Destruction is a suffix trait that lowers the targets armor class by 4 on a successful hit. It does not stack but there is no save against the effect and it is a +4 equivalent. The lack of a save is nice, but generally you just don’t have much need to lower a targets armor class and you would be better served with another +4 enhancement bonus if you did. This trait is rarely used.

Slowburst is a suffix trait that only works on a critical hit. It slows the opponent for 18 seconds if they fail a DC 15 will save. This is a +2 equivalent trait. Between needing a crit and the easy save this effect rarely goes off a and when it does it isn’t much help. It’s a stinker.

Shattermantle is a +1 equivalent suffix trait which goes off on every hit but does not stack. It lowers the targets spell resistance by 3 points for 9 seconds. It is a cheap trait and can be useful for casters with weak spell penetration if they are handy with a ranged weapon.

Crippling is a +1 equivalent prefix trait which only goes off on a critical hit. It slows the targets movement to half speed. Generally this is only useful to kiting characters but since ranged weapons generally have poor crit ranges it isn’t reliable enough or powerful to see much actual use.

Magic Traits

Not all weapons are used to fight. No self respecting caster would be without an assortment or scepters and other light weapons with potent spell casting augmentations on them.

Power, Wizardry and Magi traits are all suffix traits that add to your spell point maximum while held. Power is designated by a number which is multiplied by 10 to find the total spell points it offers. Wizardry item numbers are multiplied by 25. Magi items always grant 100 spell points. Equivalency values vary on these but magi items are always +5.

A number of items boost your spell damage. There are nearly as many types as there are types of spell damage and they each have their own name which I’m not going to get into due to time constraints. They range from adding 10% to spell damage up to 50%. And each 10% gets a different name designation. Lesser is 10% while 50% is called Superior. Potency items grant a bonus to all damage spells.

They will also list a level of spell they effect. For instance a Superior Potency 5 quarter staff will add 50% to the damage of all your 5th level and lower spells. This bonus will stack with any similar enhancements you have. In addition to the bonuses that apply whenever you hold the weapon there is a whole separate set of these that only activate as a clickie. I’d stear clear of those as the click activations very slow and lasts for a very short time making them almost useless.

Plus equivalency varies greatly on these items but they are essential for any damage caster or healer, since heals essentially do “positive damge.”

Lore items increase your chance of a critical when casting damage spells as well as the damage multiplier when a critical is scored. The lore item will list the type of damage they augment as well as the degree they do so from lesser to superior. Unlike the damage bonus items they are not limited to certain spell levels, only to types of damage. Most damage casters wield a damage item in one hand and a lore item in the other.

And of course there are clickie, a term for any item that you can click on to cast a spell like effect. The list of random clickies is somewhat narrow and mostly limited to lower level spells, but named items have a wide range of spells available. The caster level of the clickie also varies and higher caster level clickies will last longer and provide bigger benefits for some spells.

Weird Stuff

And now its time for the kitchen sink and all the weird little weapon traits that don’t fit into a category.

Deception is a suffix trait that has two effects. Firstly it adds a +2 enhancement bonus to your bluff skill, and secondly it has a chance on each hit of making your target vulnerable to sneak attacks for a few seconds regardless of their agro. It is only a +1 equivalency and a nice trait for rogues. The exact chance it goes off is unknown but is believed to be around 5%.

Everbright is quite a handy suffix trait which makes your weapon immune to wear and tear from things like rust monsters or slimes which can make short work of normal gear. It also has a 3 use clickie that causes a blinding flash which is an short area effect that blinds foes who fail a fortitude save. It is +2 equivalent and most characters will have at least one in their pack for dealing with noxious monsters. I prefer blunts since they never split slimes.

Parying is a suffix trait and +2 equivalent. It simply grants a +1 insight bonus to your Armor class when you wield it. It is mostly only used by hard core defensive tanks if at all.

Returning is a prefix trait found on thrown weapons only. It allows them to be thrown an infinite number of times. It is very rare for throw weapon characters to use anything but returning weapons and fortunately they are fairly common. Returning is a +1 equivalent.

Ghost Touch is a +1 equivalent prefix trait which allows you to ignore the 50% miss chance of ghosts and other incorporeal creatures. If you are fighting ghost it is a must have and it’s a weapon trait that most folks will carry at least one weapon with for such occasions. Ghost Touch of Pure Good is a popular trait pairing for this.

Bodyfeeder is a +2 equivalent prefix trait. In a critical hit the bodyfeeder weapon will grant its user 15 temporary hit points for 1 minute. This effect doesn’t stack but if you if you have lost some since the last crit it will replenish them. I’ve had some success using bodyfeeder with a wide crit range on a tank character, but overall it doesn’t seem an especially good strategy, especially at higher levels where 15 hit points is small potatoes.

Transmuting is a nearly invaluable prefix trait and is a mere +2 equivalent. It causes the weapon to do every damage type possible in the game which allows it to bypass all types of damage resistance except DR/- which is damage resistance that simply can’t be bypassed by any means. Keep in mind this also means that it will cause blunt weapons to split oozes since they also do slashing damage. Most characters will want at least one good transmuting weapon in their arsenal.

Granted Feat traits are pretty much what they sound like. So long as you hold the weapon it grants you a feat of some kind. Precision is a common one found on ranged weapons. Spell focus items are also quite common. The trait name will usually be some derivative of the feat name. Many of the spell focus items will have two such bonuses but only one of them will appear in the item name so examine these carefully.

Whew, that’s all of them, or at lest all the ones I know about. The huge number of random traits and their various combinations are one of the things that I think makes this game fun. Some weapons are utterly useless while others are really amazing. For every ghost touch scepter of greater ooze bane there is a +1 wounding rapier of puncturing.

And of course there is a whole world of unique weapons and soon to be a wonderland of crafted weapons. I sometimes imagine each DDO character has an invisible caddy that carries all their armaments for them, but that is part of the fun of the game so realism be damned.

For this whole series I relied heavily on the wonderful DDO wiki. Google it and look for the “Weapon Enhancement summary” page which lists much of the statistical information I presented along with some of the obscure trait names for the spell items which I decided to forgo.

Next week I’m going to talk about the thread I run on the DDO boards where people request builds for me to create. I’m nearing my 100th build and I though it was a good occasion to talk about my general approach to making them. In the mean time, keep on crunchin.

Theris
07-04-2008, 04:15 PM
CRUNCHY BITS 23: THE ART OF CHARACTER BUILDING

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 74, June 28, 2008
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/3343.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

Greetings one and all. It’s been a while since penning one of these. Sorry for the long break but we are indeed back with a new episode. This time I’m going to talk a bit about the art of making builds for DDO. I run a thread called “request a build, get a build” on the forums where I take requests and make builds. I’ve done more than one hundred of them to date and I thought it would be fun to share some of my thoughts on the matter.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Of course the foundation of creating builds is to know the basic game rules. Even a rules junkie like me can’t always remember every single spell, level bonus, or enhancement so it really helps to have a good set of tools to make things easier on you.

Your first and most important tool is going to be Ron’s DDO Character Planner (http://rjcyberware.com/DDO/). You can download it from http://rjcyberware.com/DDO/ or you can just google “ddo character planner” Ron does an amazing job keeping it updated with the latest rules and it is generally very accurate. It’s main benefit is that it keeps track of all the rules and regulations for you as you put the character together, and it is also very helpful in calculating values like saving throws and hit points which can take a while to do by hand. It would take me far longer to do my builds were it not for Ron’s excellent work.

What the character planner cannot do is actually show you the charts and graphs or let you look up enhancements and feats so you can plan you’re your build. For that you need to link into the amazing DDO WIKI (http://ddo.enterwiki.net). You can find it at http://ddo.enterwiki.net, or you can just google “ddo wiki”. Elliot Cable, Borror0 and Tihocan do a lot of work to keep the wiki up to date with all the crunchy rules goodness you could want. Its readers can also contribute their own knowledge so it is really the work of a great many people.

Another good source of information is Turbines own Rules Compendium (http://compendium.ddo.com/wiki/Compendium_Home). You can find it on their main ddo site at ddo.com under the compendium menu at the top. It is easy to navigate and has a fairly good set of the basic rules you need for planning characters. It used to be terribly inaccurate but their latest revamp of it has cleaned it up and made it much easier to navigate.

When I make a character I usually have the planner open and my browser aimed at both the ddo wiki and the rules compendium. In addition I find you really want a piece of scratch paper to jot down notes and ideas, as well as to do some quick calculations on. A calculator can help if you really want to get serious about things.

GETTING STARTED
To start your character you need to have some goals in mind. One of the fun things about building to requests is that other people supply the goals and your challenge is to meet them. But usually most folks have their own goals in mind. It can be as simple as trying out a new class, or can be as detailed as creating a character specifically to use a new item you found. I’ve even made characters to try and fit the description of popular fictional characters.

Some ideas start on the outside, such as “I want a high DPS character” while others are born from rules knowledge, “I want to combine sneak attack with the ranger tempest enhancement”. The latter types of inspiration are often easier to start with as they demand certain build choices right from the start while the former can lead to some interesting out of the box thinking.

WORKING BACKWARDS
The traditional way of making characters is to do it in the order that the game presents: Pick a race, pick a class, choose stats, feats and finally skills. For the experienced character builder there are some serious flaws to this method. Some of the most powerful game options come late in a characters level advancement and they require certain stat and class choices that had to be made early in the characters development.

A skilled builder works backwards by deciding what they want their character to look like when it is fully developed and then plan out the choices needed to arrive there. The process works something like this…


Take your starting goals and write them down.
Now go through the list of class abilities, race abilities, enhancements, feats, and skills noting the ones that can help you best meet your character goals.
Next determine the stat, race, and classes you would need for each of the other components that you want on your character. Keep in mind that some abilities such as spell casting may heavily favor a pure class or a small splash class set up.
Now comes the tricky part where you try to find the best mix of class, race and ability scores to get the maximum number of goodies for your character from the list you put together. Sometimes certain combinations are simply not going to work due to the rules. For instance bard/paladin can’t happen due to alignment restrictions. A wizard barbarian is difficult because you can’t cast spells while raged. Often you look for synergies. For instance elves get bonuses with bows, and so do rangers, so eleven rangers are quite synergistic when making an archer character.
Once you have a general game plan or a small handful of options it is time to fire up the character planner and try putting them together as a full build. The planner will quickly help you identify any flaws in your plans and aid you in determining the best order to take class levels in for multi class characters. With the planner you can flesh out all the little details and make small adjustments to try and get the best build possible.


In doing as many builds as I have certain patterns start to emerge and they become a handy kind of shorthand for creating new characters. While each character is unique, you might say there are certain templates at the heart of most builds looking to excel at some game element. I think by discussing some of these you can get a good insight into the overall process.

DPS CHARACTERS
Usually DPS characters refer to melee combat builds. Any DPS character worth their salt will want Two Weapon Fighting or Two Handed Fighting feats. Each chain has 3 feats in it, each with one low, middle and high level feat in the chain. Power attack is also essential for any DPS character, but especially for two handed fighting specialists. Finally improved critical is pretty much mandatory so that is a full 5 feats you hardly even need to think about as they usually take up your level 1,3,6,9 and 12th level feat picks. Unless you are a fighter or ranger you don’t have many feat choices left.

From there it is generally a matter of picking a class. Barbrian for the crit rage, ranger for tempest two weapon fighting, bard for song bonuses, fighter for additional feats, paladin for enhanced defense, rogue to get sneak attack, or some combination of the above to get a nice mix. For stats the TWF characters usually start with 16 dex so they can easily meet the 17 needed for TWF feats, while Str characters just focus on STR and Con.

TANK CHARACTERS
Tanks are looking to have stellar defenses including Armor class, Hit points, and saving throws. Unlike DPS characters there are only a couple must have feats with toughness and combat expertise leading the list. Combat expertise does come with a 13 intelligence requirement so that is important in stat selection.

Usually the tricky part of building a tank is choosing your starting dex score. You are looking to get just the needed amount of dexterity to fill out the type of armor you want to wear, taking into account feats and items that can adjust an armor’s max dex bonus. For these builds it really pays to know the available in game items very well. Dwarves and fighters are common tank choices because they can manipulate max dex on armor via enhancements. Heavy armor wearers tend to start with a 12 to 14 dex as where light armor users generally start with 16 to 18.

A lot of classes can work as a tank but fighters and paladins offer the most options. Rangers and monks can also build excellent light armor tanks although they often must sacrifice offense more than the heavy armor tanks due to a larger investment in dexterity. Another important decision for tanks is if they want to use intimidate. Only fighters and rogues have it as a class skill and it is based on charisma which is otherwise generally of little use to a tank. Many tanks mix fighter and paladin using fighter to shore up feat selection and paladin to buttress saving throws.

CASTERS
Spell casters are often some of the easiest builds to work up because spell casting is very class level and ability score dependent which railroads you into picking one class and its accompanying casting stat to really focus in on. Generally the choice narrows down to which casting class to you want to choose and what area of spell casting you want to focus on if any.

Because wizards and clerics can choose spells freely, any given wizard or cleric is not going to be all that much different from another. They may have some nice specializations for damage or control spells but beyond that they are all capable of switching their game around by changing their spell selection. Sorcerers tend to be a bit more specialized due to a more limited spell and feat selection but still there are not many prerequisite considerations so you can often build as you go without much trouble.

Bards are fairly simple as casters in so much as their spell selection is not big enough to allow much specialization as a caster. Usually with a bard the question is if you really want to focus on casting or fighting or some combination of the two and in that way they are a lot like making a multi class character even when pure classed.

TRAP SMITHS
There is a difference between a rogue and a trap smith. Rogue as a class, does much more than simply unlocking and disarming, but many see that as their most unique ability. In DDO it is pretty easy to make a character of any class that can handle traps so long as they include one or two rogue levels. To be a rogue, all you need to do is take rogue levels, to be a trap smith (be it pure rogue or otherwise) you need to consider a number of factors.

Foremost you need to decide how much intelligence you will need. Int is important both because it is the base ability for disarm and search but also because it controls how many skill points you get. For a multi class character this can be an essential consideration. The trick is that unless you are a wizard, int isn’t good for much in the way of combat prowess so you usually want to have the minimum that you can get away with and still achieve your goals.

You usually start by picking the skills you really want to keep maximized. If you are pure classed this is quite simple, if you are multi class it gets complicated. Generally you want to start your character with the class that gets the most skill points per level or which has the most class skills you are interested in. This is because you get a larger pool of skill points at first level (essentially 4 levels worth). I usually have a ballpark idea when I make a character but the Character Planner is a great tool for actually testing out if you can hit your skill targets or not.

Also keep in mind that some skills are optional or don’t need to be maximized to be effective. Open lock often doesn’t need to be maxed out to be useful as only a few locks have really high DC values and high end lock picks aren’t level restricted. Spot is a skill you can live without as a trapper although it can be really handy if you aren’t a super power gamer who already knows where every trap box in the game is located at. Tumble is always nice to have and unless you wear heavy armor you often only need one point in it to get 90&#37; of the benefits the skill has to offer.

With a trap smith you can easily overdo your skills, so it’s good to try and meet a certain minimum competency and then use the rest of your levels/enhancements/feats to shore up your abilities in other areas such as support, defense, or attack prowess. This is true of both multi class and pure rogues.

SUMMARY
And once again I come to the end of the show before really diving deep into the topic. Next week I will continue this line of though and talks specifically about multi classing. It’s one of my favorite topics so be sure to check it out. Until then, keep on building a better crunch.

Theris
09-03-2008, 12:09 PM
CRUNCHY BITS 24: MULTI-CLASSING

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 75, July 5, 2008
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/3369.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

CRUNCHY BITS MAIL BAG


I pulled +5 Mitheral Full Plate recently...I have 4 toons, could you help me with which character would be best suited to wearing the armor.

I have a Dwarven Cleric, a Human Wizard, a Drow Ranger, and a Human Monk

Well, that’s certainly a great find and a really iconic piece of loot. I’ll go over the choices from worst to best.

The monk is just not going to want to wear any armor. They lose nearly all of their key abilities in armor of any kind.

The wizard probably can’t make much use of it. The spell failure on mithral full plate is 25% and the best you can reduce it to with known items is 10% with the seven fingered gloves. Having a bit of extra armor as a caster just isn’t worth a deadly misfire in the heat of battle.

The ranger might be able to increase their armor class wearing the armor but because they are not proficient in medium armor they are going to suffer attack penalties while wearing it. Furthermore if the ranger is level 10 or better they would be loosing out on their evasion ability which is much sought after.

Of these characters the Dwarven Cleric is by and away the best choice. Clerics have no issues casting in armor and it is usually a good idea to keep them armored up for safety. Whether thay can really take the best advantage of it depends on their dexterity score. Mithral full plate lets you get up to a +3 dex bonus (16 dex) and dwarves can take armor mastery to extend that by up to 3 more points (a 22 dex score). It’s unlikely to go that high on most clerics, even with a tome and a +6 dex item, but 16-20 is often doable and would be a good solid armor class with a nice shield.

MULTI-CLASSING CRUNCHY BITS STYLE

So on with the show, this week I’m going to discuss my all time favorite topic, multicasting. I’m the sort of guy who just can’t follow the play book to the letter or dot he thing all the popular guys are doing. I’ve got to chart my own course even if it makes for some rough sailing. That’s why I love multi classing!

Some players don’t like multi-classing and they will give you lots of different reasons. Some say it makes weak characters, some say it’s cheesy and against the spirit of the game, some folks are jealous, and a few have role playing objections. Personally I see all the classes like ingredients in the kitchen. You can make a straight up steak, or you can mix it with vegetables. Every combination is its own unique dish. Some combinations are tasty while others are just plain nasty. But most importantly there is no rule that says you should only select one ingredient for your dish.

There are generally two reasons people make multi class characters. There first and most typical is they want a character that can cover multiple party roles. A rogue wizard is a classic example, mixing trap finding with spell casting. The second reason is the player is looking to stack similar benefits between two different classes. A good example there is a cleric who takes a level of sorcerer to inflate their spell points. One of the reasons multi classing is sometimes especially strong is that many classes are granted a great many abilities at first level. All classes get about three levels of saving throw bonuses at first level, and they get a rage of proficiencies and the like. So having three different classes means you get that little first level boost 3 times.

The real key to multi classing is to know all the classes very well; specifically you want to know at what levels they receive their most powerful abilities and enhancements at. You also need to read up on which abilities have stacking bonuses and which ones are incompatible. They key concept here is that you multi class with specific goals in mind.

CLASS LEVEL BREAKS

So for this episode we are going to examine the key level breaks for all the classes in the game. To start with, there are a few generic level breaks that most classes share.


Levels 6 and 12 – this is where most classes get their “prestige class enhancements”
Levels 2, 6, and 10 – This is where classes get their prime ability score enhancements


Barbarian is not ideal for multi-classing due to rage. It excludes spell casting when active and gets it gets progressively stronger as you level. Barbarians do have the most HP per level and the toughness enhancement so sometimes folks take a bit of barbarian to beef up HP.


Level 1 – This gets you a stacking 10% speed boost and martial weapon proficiencies. The speed boost is usually what folks with one barbarian level are after.
Level 11 – a key barbarian level as you get greater rage, and access to critical rage 1 which expands your crit range while raged. Both really offer a nice bump to damage output.
Level 14 – This is where barbarians get their second critical rage enhancement, one of the most coveted enhancements in the game
Bard is an unusual class to splash into other classes but bards often multi class to pick up other class benefits to compliment their jack of all trades style.
Level 1 – One level of bard gets you access to a wide range of wands as well as UMD as a class skill. It is somewhat popular for a sorcerer or cleric to splash bard to get UMD and also gain or maintain their spell point pool. Usually they would do so at first level.
Level 6 – Bard 6 gets you access to the various bard prestige enhancements. Warchanter offers a big bump to the bards inspire courage song, and spellsinger offers a nice boost to spell points and UMD. Virtuoso is not popular among multi class characters for various reasons.
Level 7 – Is where bards get haste and displacement, two much favored spells for combat bards
Levels 8, 9, 10, and 14 – These are all levels where the bards ability to buff the party and themselves for combat increases. Also at these levels the bard becomes a stronger spell caster although most bards focused on spellcasting will generally try to stay pure or close to pure classed as spell casting is very class level dependent.


Cleric is a class that doesn’t have a lot of specific level breaks but is used a lot in multi classed builds because healing is always nice to have.


Level 1 – At level one they get heavy armor and shield proficiency, healing wand access and access to turn undead abilities like divine favor. Because your number of turns is based more on charisma than level, some bards and sorcerers will splash cleric just to get Divine Vitality to help other casters in the party.
All Odd Levels – Clerics get access to a new level of spells on every odd level, so multi classing cleric is usually about what spells you really want to cast.
Level 7 – Gives you divine power which is a very nice combat buff for characters with a low base attack bonus.
Level 9 – Is where you get raise dead.
Level 11 – Is where you get the Heal and Blade Barrier
Level 13 – Is where you get Destruction


Fighter is a great multi classing class for two reasons. Firstly it has few level based abilities outside of its enhancements and secondly it ‘s bonus feats are a godsend to other combat classes looking for a bit more oomph.


Level 1 – Fighter one is a common splash for battle wizards or clerics. You get full armor and weapons access as well as a bonus combat feat. You also get tower shield proficiency.
Even levels – after first level fighters get a bonus feat every even numbered level.
Level 4 – Many go to fighter 4 to get access to weapon specialization
Level 2, 7, and 11 – These are levels at which fighters get bumps to armor mastery enhancements


Monks are still a bit of a mystery to me since I’ve had limited opportunity to play them or read about them being played. The main limitation is that many of their abilities require you to be balanced, which means wearing no armor and holding nothing or monk weapons.


Level 1 – Monks start out with a lot of nifty stuff. They get a bonus feat, wisdom bonus to armor class (in no armor), and access to the initial stances which offer nice stat buffs (so long as you are “balanced”)
Level 2 – Monks get a second bonus feat and the evasion ability. Level 6 – Monks get a third bonus feat
Level 9 – Monks get improved evasion
Level 12 – Abundant step, while not powerful it sure is fun to have.


Paladin is a very popular class to splash into other builds as it offers some unusual benefits.


Level 1 – Paladin 1 comes with a +1 stacking aura to ac and saves, access to healing wands, and full armor and weapon proficiencies.
Level 2 – Paladins get divine grace adding their charisma bonus to all saving throws. This is extremely popular.
Level 3 – Paladins get immunity to fear and disease as well as the first rank of their aura enhancements.
Levels 7 and 11 – Paladins get further aura enhancements at these levels


Ranger is a popular class with the multi classing crowd.


Level 1 – Ranger 1 gets you bow strength and martial weapons as well as some healing wand use
Level 2 – Is quite popular and gets you two weapon fighting and rapid shot feats. It’s great for adding a little ranged combat prowess to any character.
Level 6 – Has become ranger nirvana. Here rangers get Improved Two Weapon Fighting, Multi Shot, and access to Tempest enhancement which offers a 20% speed boost and +2 ac for two weapon fighters. Level 6 rangers can also cast Rams Might which offers a boost to strength and damage. They actually can first cast it at level 4 but most who go that far will want to jump to 6.
Level 9 – Rangers get evasion at level 9
Level 11 – Is where rangers get improved precise shot and their resist spells reach 30pts
Levels 1, 5, 10, and 15 – Rangers get a favored enemy each 5 levels. They tend to get better and better as the damage bonus increases each time you get a new one.


Rogue is perhaps the most commonly used class for multi class builds


Level 1 – First level rogue is all about the skills. To open locks and remove traps you need at least one rogue level, but they also get full access to UMD and vast number of other skills. Generally rogue is taken as your first class to maximize your characters skill points.
Level 2 – Rogues get evasion at second level
Odd Levels – Rangers improve their sneak attack on odd levels
Level 6 and 12 – Rogue prestige enhancements are quite good, especially way of the assassin and mechanic
Level 10 – Rogue get their first special rogue feat at 10 and then one every 3 levels


Sorcerer is perhaps the hardest class to multi class successfully


Level 1 – Other casting classes will sometimes splash one sorcerer level to get a boost in spell points and warforged may take it for access to repair wands.
[COLOR="Lime"]After first level, multi classing sorcerer is about deciding what spells you want access to. Level 6 gets you haste and 8 gets you firewall for instance.


[B]Wizard is a bit more multi class friendly but not by much


Level 1 – Wizard one gets you arcane wand access and a bonus metamagic feat. Some other casting classes will take it for the feat.
Levels 5, 10, and 15 – Wizards get further bonus feats at these levels. While its not something people take X wizard level to get, they do make it easier to splash other classes into a wizard character as it frees up your normal feat picks to support non casting roles.

That’s all I have time for this week. Next time we will take this information and do some mixing and matching to show how it all comes together into a completed character. Until then, don’t forget to feed your crunch.

Theris
09-03-2008, 12:54 PM
CRUNCHY BITS 25: SPECIAL FORCES MULTI-CLASS EXAMPLE

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 77, July 19, 2008
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/3450.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml
Hi everyone. On today’s show we are going to actually make some multi class characters to demonstrate my mixing techniques.

FORMULATE A GENERAL GOAL

This one is from my request thread. Ariel7 requested a character that would be a tribute to his younger brother in the US special forces. He was also inspired by Ghoste’s well known videos of impressive feats of stealth. His request was for a very sneaky melee character, built with 32pts, self healing, jump, good damage, and decent solo play potential.

A PATH TO YOUR GOAL WITH SKILLS & FEATS

So my first step is to figure out which classes and perhaps race I’m going to use to best achieve these goals. Stealth seems like a key feature and that is going to narrow down the scope of classes a bit. Ranger, Rogue, Bard, and Monk all have Hide and Move Silently as class skills so those are good candidates.

Of those I felt ranger really fit the bill the best as they are a nice mix of good skills and really hard hitting attacks. Two weapon fighting is one of the best techniques for laying out the hurt quickly. The request for solo play really calls out for the ability to heal yourself, and for that I really like to have UMD as a class skill and that leads me to Rogue. I think Rogue also gives us the ability to work in a bit of lock picking and other useful skills as well as adding a little extra punch on offense through sneak attack.
Special forces are also known for being tough as nails warriors and the requester really wanted a guy that could sneak up and devastate an enemy. This called out for a strength oriented build as well as the use of some good combat feats. Strength will also allow me to use stunning blow, which makes a great opening attack from stealth on an isolated target. If you land that it’s going to be lights out for the monster.

These decisions led me to want fighter in the build. Firstly it’s going to get me extra feats to work with, secondly it gets me some extra strength, thirdly I can use enhancements to buttress stunning blow, and finally I can get some extra hit points from the toughness enhancements.

SELECTING A RACE

For race I see two choices. Halfling to get some extra sneak attack damage and for the stealth bonuses, or human for the ability to enhance strength as well as the extra skill points and feat. I decided human wins overall despite Halfling having two benefits that sync up with the build. The reason human works better is it shores up areas that are harder to develop. Stealth is easy to get and sneak attack damage isn’t really a key feature, just a bonus. On the other hand feats, skills and strength are really what this build is about.

STATS & ABILITIES

So with those decisions out of the way we want to put stats together. Strength is essential, but I have to be able to get to 17 Dex in order to fully develop two weapon fighting. We also need a decent Int score to be able to keep skills up when we get into the fighter levels. We have at least 3 skills we need to maintain and all of them are cross class for fighter.
Con needs to be as high as we can manage after those needs are met, and a bit of wisdom would be nice since there are some good low level ranger spells I’d like to cast. Charisma gets the short end of the stick as so often happens with rangers.
I like to be efficient with build points, which means no eighteens unless we only have one or two stats we care about. I have to have 16 Dex so I can reach 17 easily (either with a tome or a level up). 16 strength is as much as I can afford and still have points left over. I decided to start with 14 int, as it’s my base for most rogue builds which left 6 points for 12 Con and 10 Wis. Later I may adjust them once I get a feel for how many skill points I really want.

MEASURE TWICE CUT ONCE: RON’S CHARACTER PLANNER

Ron’s Character Planner: http://www.rjcyberware.com/DDO/

Now it’s time to whip out Ron’s Character Planner and start toying around with things. We begin with a rogue level as it gets me the most skill points at first level. Alignment isn’t going to matter much so I go with my favorite default, Neutral Good. I’ve got tons of skill points so I max out Balance, Disable Device, Hide, Jump, Move Silently, Open Lock, Search, Spot, Tumble, and Use Magic Device. At this point I still have 4 points. I decide to put it in swim just for the special forces theme, but that will come out if I end up with a lower int. I simply won’t be able to keep all these skills maxed, but even if I don’t keep the core rogue skills up, having them at lower levels can be fun.

For starting feats I choose Dodge and Stunning Blow. Stunning blow is part of my high concept for ambushing and Dodge is there because I’m going to shoot for the Ranger Tempest enhancement so this character can have top notch DPS. It’s one of the best in the game, and the dodge bonus from the feat is decently useful as well.

I like to wait until after I’ve laid out most of the build to start picking enhancements. Often with multi class characters you end up re-specing them as you level up because you pick up a new class and would rather have your early enhancement picks from that class instead of the one you started with. I still spend all my enhancements as I level, I just re-do them from time to time to optimize.

Level 2 is going to be ranger as I want to get into my two weapon fighting as soon as I can and most of that will come from free ranger feats. In fact I’m going to take ranger from 2 to 7 to jump straight into Tempest ASAP as well as to get the Rams Might, Resist Energy and Camouflage spells.

To conserve skill points I will focus on class skills for ranger which means Hide, Jump, Move Silently, Search, and Spot. This leaves me 4 points, enough to max two cross class skills. I decide to go for Disable Device and Open Lock as I have Search/Spot in there already. That makes this character a strong trapper for early levels. I leave out UMD because I just can’t get it high enough to matter at these levels with my low charisma, but I have a plan for it later. At level 6 I stop spending points on open lock and move them to buying a rank of UMD. I have found that with all the open lock bonuses you can get from items, you can cap open lock at about 8 ranks and still do any lock in the game. Sometimes there are a few that will be tricky but with buffs and such it’s a good place to cap it.

At level 2 we get a favored enemy and I’ll pick undead which is always handy. At 3 I get a feat which I’ll use for mobility, another prerequisite for the Tempest enhancement, but almost useless by itself. At level 4 I bump my strength up a point as it’s a strength build. At 6 I get another favored enemy and another base feat pick. I’ll take giants as an enemy since they are very common at mid levels and Spring Attack for my last Tempest prerequisite. It’s also a decently useful feat. At level 7 I qualify for Tempest and have Improved Two Weapon fighting as well as Rapid Shot, Bow Strength and Multi-Shot for ranged goodness. This build should really shine at this level.

So at this point I have established a decent stealth skill set, put together a strong offense, and even managed to be a good trapper as a bonus. UMD may not be much but he can use healing wands just fine due to the ranger class. Now we want to build on this foundation.

At level 8 I decide to go for another rogue level. This is going to shore up UMD as well as grab the evasion ability. Eventually I could get it from Ranger 9 but earlier is better and it gives me more freedom for those fighter levels I have in mind. It turns out I have exactly what I need to maintain the skills I’ve been advancing and also max out UMD. Looks like 14 Int was spot on. I also grab another Str point at 8.

For level 9 I decide to dip into fighter. I’ve got the BAB to get improved critical so I’ll double up and take both Slashing and Ranged. Skills are tight so I will go with Disable Device, UMD, and throw the last point into Jump to avoid a half point anywhere else. Then at 10 and 11 we are back into ranger where we keep UMD and Disable up while getting our stealth and search skills maxed out again.

Level 12 is pretty key. At this point you qualify for Greater Two Weapon fighting and that means you need to have your Dex up to 17. If you haven’t found or bought a +1 Dex tome you will need to put your level up point into Dex, otherwise you can put it in strength. I’m going to take my second fighter level so I can use the bonus feat for greater two weapon fighting and my normal level 12 feat to get Toughness. Again I’ll take UMD, Disable, and Jump.

Now I am at a crossroads. So far I’ve picked classes out of necessity, but at this point I’ve met most of my build goals so I need to chart a course of building on what I’ve done. Fighter 4 offers another feat as well as enhancement options for toughness and stunning blow so I like that quite a bit. The down side is it plays havoc with my rogue skills. More rogue mostly just offers some easy skill points although rogue 3 does have another dice of sneak attack. Ranger doesn’t cough up much until level 11 and even then it mostly offers ranged attack prowess.

I decide to take ranger at 13 and the same skills as I did on 10 to make up for that fighter level. Then I jump into Fighter at 14 and 15. At 15 I decide to go for broke with the two weapon fighting DPS and grab both Kopesh and Oversized Two Weapon Fighting. Finally at 16 I cap off with rogue so I can shore up my search and stealth skills while keeping disable and UMD maxed out. Going out to 20 it looks like your best bet is 2 more Fighter levels and 2 more Ranger levels, alternating to keep skills up.
This is where I work in the enhancements in the planner. The goal is just to grab the best stuff you can that supports what the build wants to do. In this case its damage and skills, and hopefully some durability. I usually start by closing all the trees in the planner I know I don’t want and then working up from there. I try to avoid the really advanced enhancements unless they are absolutely key for the character as you get fewer bonuses per point with those.

I ended up with quite a range of enhancements and picked up a lot of “little extras.” For stats I took Ranger Dex 2, Fighter Str 1, Human Str1, and Human Con1. On the offensive side I grabbed Tempest of course, Sneak attack Training 1, Wrack Construct 1, Favored Damage 3, Stunning Blow 2, and Fighter Haste Boost 2. To shore up defenses I took Human improved recovery 1, Ranger Energy Boost 1, Armor Mastery 1, and Toughness 2. On the skill side I went for Human Versatility 4, Trap Sense 1, One rank of Hide, Move Silently, Search, Spot, Disable, and Open Lock. Rounding it all off I grabbed Ranger Speed 1, Item Defense 1, Faster sneaking 1, and Energy of the Wild 2.

SUMMARY

And that is a finished build. Let’s take a look at what we have.

On the skills end you have maxed out ranks in stealth backed up with a good Dex and the camouflage spell which gives a big boost to hide. You also have respectable if not amazing trap skills as well as a stellar reflex save for dodging them. UMD is also maxed out and can buff up to around 31 which is good enough for heal and raise dead scrolls. You also have a great jump, and a bit of tumble for mobility.

For Offense we are looking good. Full two weapon fighting with Tempest and Fighter speed boost. With Rams Might you are looking at 30 strength running dual Kopesh. You also are quite strong with a bow and if you run an off hand stunning weapon you can muster a 30+ DC stunning blow attack. And don’t forget the 2d6 +3 sneak attack. The only way offense could get much better is with power attack and that is a likely choice going out to level 20.

Defense wise you have great fort and reflex saves, evasion, Barkskin, great AC potential, decent healing ability. Hit points are going to land around 280 to 300 which isn’t quite tank level, but it’s pretty solid.

Weaknesses are few. Spell points aren’t all that great without items to buff it up, but it should be enough to keep key buffs running most of the time. Your will save is fairly poor compared to fort and reflexes but that is true of most ranger based characters.

And that is how I make a character for the request thread. It takes a while but you start with some basic plans, and then feel out the details as you go. Sometimes I find I need to take some steps back to re-work stats or feat picks but this time it went pretty smoothly. My next episode is going to be a survey of all the skills in DDO. I’ve a hunch its gonna be full of crunch.

Theris
09-03-2008, 01:09 PM
CRUNCHY BITS 26: SKILLS

HOST: SIGFRIED TRENT
EDITOR: ANNE TRENT
AIR DATE: DDOCAST EPISODE 82, August 23, 2008
MP3: http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/3450.mp3 (right click to download)
RSS: http://www.cyberears.com/podcasts/podcast_5042.xml

Today’s show is going to be a survey of all the skills in DDO. I won’t go too deeply into any of them but we will try to get in as many crunchy details as my usual ten minutes will allow. Let’s get right to it!

Balance

Balance pretty much has one use in DDO, and that is to stand up after you have fallen down. When on your back side after a trip or knock down you will make a d20 roll and add your balance score against a DC value determined by the attack that put you down in the first place. Balance is a good skill for characters expecting to pull agro and it’s also a skill where even a few points can increase your chances of success so it’s a good place for extra points you may have.

Bluff

Bluff is primarily used as an activated skill that makes a target vulnerable to sneak attacks if successful. While it can work, most find the action is too slow, the duration too short to be a good strategy to ensure sneak attack damage. Pure rogues will often take it anyhow as skill points are easy to come by. Bluff is also used in a few NPC dialog trees so it’s usually not a wasted skill even if it isn’t all that popular.

Concentration

Concentration is a key skill for many casters. Whenever a caster takes damage while casting a spell they will need to make a concentration check against a DC equal to the damage taken or they loose the spell. Anyone casting in combat will find it useful. Generally you need to keep it maxed out to be effective in combat since damage values climb as you level. The quicken spell feat allows you to never make a concentration check again, so some casters will stop advancing concentration once they take the feat and instead keep quicken on continuously.

For monks, concentration is even more critical than for casters. It drives their maximum sustained ki score which is vital to many of their strongest combat abilities. Monks should always max out concentration.

Diplomacy

Diplomacy is most powerful as a means to reduce the amount of agro you have with nearby monsters. As an activated ability you make a skill check which and if it beats the monsters defenses against such an action they will drop you from their agro list. So long as there is another target they are aware of they will go attack that instead of you. Keeping your diplomacy high is key to making this an effective tactic

Generally using diplomacy is more effective than bluff for rogues who want an activated skill to allow sneak attack because it has no animation and it effects all creatures nearby instead of a single targeted foe. And of course it gets the creature to stop attacking you for a moment as well. Diplomacy only works on creatures that have above animal intelligence.

Diplomacy also is used in some dialogs but few would take it only for this purpose.

Disable Device

Disable is a skill only available to rogues and many consider it their signature skill. It allows you to disarm traps boxes that you have found using the search skill. Generally a rogue wants to keep it maxed out and buffed up to be effective in elite quests. When disarming you make a d20 roll to add to your score and compare against the trap’s DC. If you miss by more than 5 points you destroy the trap box and can never disable the trap.

Haggle

The only propose of haggle is to lower buy prices from vendors and increase sell prices to vendors. This can be quite handy, especially if you use one character to do most of your buying and selling for you, or if you have a single character buy supplies for your guild. It does not affect auction house prices so when it comes to making big bucks or big purchases it isn’t quite so important. The bonus money from selling is quite a bit larger than the reduction in buy price.

Heal

Heal has two uses and neither are of much use past the early levels in the game. The first is that it adds to how much health you and your nearby non warforged allies get back when resting at a shrine. While the bonus it adds is pretty decent (triple your skill value), at higher level healing at rest shrines becomes much less compared to magical healing.

The second use is to activate heal kits in an attempt to bring back unconscious fleshy characters. Eventually the use of magical healing completely eclipses this action, especially now that you can use healing potions on other characters.

Many consider heal to be a waste of skill points unless you have nothing else to spend them on, but for a perma-death or no twink character it could have some economic value.

Hide

Hide is used for sneaking around using the stealth action. The higher you hide, the harder it is for creatures to spot you. You distance form a monster and the environmental lighting seem to modify your chances as well, but the exact mechanics are not known. The up shot is that even a little bit of hide can let you sneak in some situations, but to pull off true feats of stealth the more you have, the better. Another important consideration is that effective stealth requires both Hide and Move Silently so you would usually keep both skills in good shape if you want to be stealthy.

Sometimes you can get away with a lowish hide because there are a number of strong buffs for hide such as invisibility and camouflage.

Intimidate

Like the other social skills, bluff and diplomacy, intimidate is sometimes used in NPC dialogs but that is rarely whey people take it. Its primary use is to encourage monsters to attack you. Activating intimidate cause you to make a skill check and if it beats the resistance of the creatures around you, it moves you to the top of their agro list for 6 seconds or so which causes them to attack you. It only works on creatures of above animal intelligence. Intimidating effectively often requires you to keep the skill pretty well maxed out and buffed.

Barbarians do have an enhancement that will add the shaken status to anything they successfully intimidate but generally only characters of a defensive tankish bent will take intimidate and use it regularly.

Listen

Listen figures high on the list of skills which are considered mostly useless. Its most helpful feature is that it can help you detect hidden enemies when they are nearby by hearing them. This manifests as a shadowy form of the creature. Listen also occasionally triggers DM text that only you can hear giving you some clue about the quest you are in. This is only rarely implemented and usually only of any use the first time you run a quest. Because spot can do the same thing as listen and because it has other uses listen is rarely taken.

Jump

Jump just lets you jump further and higher but it can be incredibly handy in a number of situations. Sometimes it lets you avoid traps, or get to special areas in a quest or simply lets you hop over enemies in tight spaces. If nothing else it’s fun to see what you can up on-top of in public areas. Jump tends to give its greatest benefits between scores of 1 and 30 and tents to taper off in effect after that, so even a moderate jump score can yield significant benefits and maxing it out may not give a lot of extra benefit.

While few find it an essential skill, most players like to have some jump if they can afford it.

Move Silently

Move silently is very important to using the stealth action. Like hide in shadows it is used as a target number for creatures that may be in range of hearing you. You will know when it is not working because you will see little sparks flash off your footsteps. If there are critters in range while you are making noise they will come looking for you.

Because it is harder to buff, Move silently can be more critical than Hide for sneaking directly past monsters.

Open Lock

Open locks is another rogue only skill, but unlike Search and Disable Device there is less need to completely max it out. While some locks in the early and mid game are quite difficult, many have fairly low DC’s so that wizards can have a chance to open them with the knock spell. When you use open lock you roll a d20 to add to your score and compare that to the locks difficulty. Unlike traps there is no penalty for missing the roll by 5 or more points so if it’s possible for you to open the lock you can simply keep trying until you roll high enough.

Perform

Perform is only available to bards, and really only useful for bards. It is a requirement for their songs and it also establishes the DC for their fascinate songs. Because fascinate is such an excellent ability bards should keep their perform skill maxed out, but generally won’t need to take extra measures to buff it.

Search

Using search is always an activated action that takes about a six seconds to perform. It will reveal any secret doors or traps nearby if successful. Only rogues or clerics with the find traps spell can find trap boxes, even if their search skills are very high, but anyone can search out secret doors. Like spot, there is no search roll so you can either find something or you can’t. Unless you have a way to further buff your score there is no point in searching a second time in the same location.

Spot

Spot has two uses in the game. Firstly a high spot will flash warnings on your screen near secret doors or traps. Spot seems a bit less demanding than search or disable and often even a character without a boosted spot will get warnings for some traps and many secret doors. Of course without the ability to search knowing about traps is only going to get you so far.

The second spot use is to notice sneaking or hidden monsters which are nearby. This can be very handy when running solo and sometimes in groups so you can warn folks that a fight is about to start. I’ve certainly missed not having spot on occasion when ambushed by a large group of hidden attackers I practically walked straight into.

Repair

Repair works exactly like heal but effects warforged. It give them greater health when resting at shrines and is used with the repair ability and a repair kit to bring them back to 1 hit point when unconscious. Due to its limited effectiveness and the limited number of warforged it is not a popular skill.

Swim

Swim is generally regarded among the least useful skills in the game. It let’s you swim somewhat faster and also allows you to hold your breath longer under water. The latter would be quite handy if water breathing items weren’t extremely common, even at low levels. The former is rarely all that useful with the exception of a few select quests where you must swim in obstacle courses. Interestingly, when you fly in DDO they seem to use the swimming mechanics so characters who can swim well fly faster than other characters.

Tumble

Tumble is a subtle and interesting skill. For starters you can’t use it unless you buy at least one rank, and even then you must maintain a positive skill modifier to make use of it. Armor penalties apply to tumble so it’s unusual for heavily armored types to use it. It lets you do a rolling movement when you hold down the block key while moving. If you can get your tumble up to very high levels you do longer and faster rolls and flips. At a 31 bonus you can do backflips and sideways dives, and at 36 you can do a big forward roll.

For the very twitchy you can sometimes use tumbling as a way to dodge attacks. It is probably most useful in that it sometimes allows you to move quickly in terrain that would otherwise slow your movement such as in shallow water or under the effect of a slow spell. Some might consider that an exploit but I’ve always found it a nice benefit of taking the skill.

Tumble is also handy in that it reduces your falling damage. The more tumble you have, the farther you can fall and I’ve had characters with a high tumble survive some extremely long falls due to the skill.

Personally I also just happen to like the tumble animations and think they are fun.

Use Magic Device

Use magic device is pretty much the king of DDO skills. It is something of an all or nothing skill and unless you can by a lot of ranks or have a killer charisma its use is rather limited. If you can get it into the 20 to 25 point range you can wear equipment normally reserved for other races, classes or alignments. Often these items can be had cheaper than those without such restrictions.
If you can get your score up in to the 30s and beyond you can start using high level scrolls to cast a wide range of spells regardless of your class. This is often the most coveted use of the skill, especially with scrolls such as Heal and Raise Dead. Offensive scrolls suffer from low DC values so healing and utility scrolls are the most popular.

And that concludes our brief tour of the DDO skills. We apologize for the long delay. Life has been especially crunchy as of late and left little time for DDO goodness. But I intend to be back as soon as possible with more crunch for you to much. Until then be sure to keep your ranks in crunching maxed out at every level.

Mockduck
06-08-2009, 05:16 PM
Rise from your grave!

Heh. Still one of the best segments ever on DDOcast. I'm wondering, if I took out all of the Crunchy Bits stuff from the shows and put them in their own "special episode" of DDOcast, would there be interest?

I've been asked a few times about putting these up separately, but I don't have room on my server for them. However, there is room to add it to my separate Cyberears RSS feed (different from web site archive). So, a Crunchy Bits episode of DDOcast?

Mockduck
11-24-2009, 01:33 AM
Heads up - since I'm going to be out of town for the long Thanksgiving holiday, I thought it would be a perfect time to finally get out that Crunchy Bits archive as a separate show on DDOcast. There's enough stuff in here that I'm splitting it into two parts, which will be released sometime later this week (when I'm done with it...)

Thanks Sigfried and Anne for doing this!