View Full Version : A Solo Play Commentary

05-04-2008, 03:08 PM
I have been asked by a few players on my home world of Khyber to say a few words about solo play. I like to think of myself as a decent solo play player and have gotten one character to 14 (capped at the time) before moving on to other characters.

I choose solo or rather solo play initially chose me when my insomniac ways put me on the Aundair at late hours and even Risia seemed to have more players. While I played to level up group characters for a while I realized in enjoyed the quiet me time that occurred from 3 to 5 am in the morning. I became more curious and challenged to build characters that could survive high level solo, first it was “Irestone Inlet” and then “Stormcleave” and in the end I even completed “Prisoner of the Planes” on solo. Yes with practice, electrical resist and protection you can pull the level and dive into the prisons cells.

So these series of posts is intended to be expression of knowledge that I have learned over many hours of play. Solo play is more of art form than a science and just like art everyone has their own tastes no two players are identical and some of what I say may not apply and others will think that one nugget is the key to their success.

Solo play is not for everyone. There are challenges of patients, time, concentration, and boredom that some players have not want to even attempt to overcome and that’s more than okay, remember not everyone appreciates Edvard Munch’s artwork.

05-04-2008, 03:09 PM
When you determine that you want to give solo play a try the first step is set your goals. As first time solo player your goals are going to be very different than long term solo players. In solo play goals are more than just the end objective goals represent the roadmap on how you want to achieve that end objective. Your end objective might be to solo “Tempest Spine” but you may add without twinking the character.

A good first time solo play character end objective is simply to complete all the quests in the harbor on elite excluding “Invaders” and “Hiding in plain sight” of course. A more accomplished solo player may set an objective of completing the “The Pit” or “Storm Cleave”.

Just like there will be no one to give you a Trophy or even acknowledge your success at the end of solo play session the only judge is yourself so be realistic when setting your personal constraints on play. The more restrictive your constraints are the more likely you are going to bend or break those restrictions.

For those not familiar with the term twinking, it is the process of providing the necessary gear to your character to achieve the maximum effectiveness without regard for the cost, making those characters disproportionately powerful for their level. An example of twinking is I give all my new characters a “muckbane”, I hoard that particular weapon as I consider it one of the most useful weapons and have several on my bank toons. The decision to twink or not is the first of many questions you need to make and one of the most important.

Another question is whether or not you are going to use the auction house, the blue-dot vendors in House D and House K and than vendors in general. I should note that Spell Casting requires regents generally you need to shop for those.

One of the last questions a player needs to answer is personal constraints on the use of resurrection shrines.

The final question a player needs to answer is what world to put your new solo play character on. I personally have chosen to keep most of my characters on Khyber, simply because it quicker to change over to a regular character if my friends get online. Yet there are some players that choose servers other than there standard server because it reduces the temptation to twink their characters.

However you decide to answer those questions remember the ultimate goal is to have fun, unlike a colligate calculus exam there is no right or wrong answer only guides that you have decide are important to you.

05-04-2008, 03:09 PM
After setting your goals it is time to start designing your character. It is important to remember your goals will influence your design but a number of other factors come into play too.

To be a good solo player you need to have a plan. Plan out your character as far out as you can; use character builder if you like or a spreadsheet, database, or whatever just get your plan on paper. The reason you want it on paper is that ‘errors’ stick out and are much easier to see and correct before hand when you plan it out. A study in another game suggests that most solo players play about 100 hours with their characters, those that players that plan out their characters last longer and are more successful in completing objectives.

It is just as important to make a plan for equipment you would like to have on your character, level 1, Level 2, Level 3… Level 14. Knowing what you want helps you keep the equipment you need and sell the rest off.

Plan out your quests, especially until your character reaches 4th Level, there are a number of quests that provides ‘named’ loot, and knowing that you have a good chance of getting x in adventure y, makes adventure z easier. Also if you are going to farm specific adventures, cough Durk’s got a secret cough, than know when and how you are going to do that feature.

Any character can solo adventures until about 5th level, it is after 5th level where your characters flaw’s become fatal so to speak. So if your character is having issues because you should have spent point x in a skill at level 4, rerolling early is your best option.

If you plan to do a lot of soloing pay attention to what the Devs are working on, because a change in future module can make a midlevel solo character ogre food very quickly. IE it is a little easier to suffer a little bit now than suffering a lot later.

One sort of off the wall comment, pick your avatar very carefully when you solo, you are going to spend many hours staring at it, picking something you think is completely ugly can make for some long sessions.

I put my solo play characters into a self created guild almost as soon as I create them as well as checking anonymous on the who page. Save yourself the minor headache of all the tells and guild offers by doing that early.

There is no Best Solo Build, rather there are better solo builds and the solo build that bests fits your play style. Be wary of the statement “My 14th Level Character can almost solo every adventure in the game” because when they were 6th level they probably couldn’t handle most the level 6th quests. Not saying that some out there couldn’t rather it’s is very difficult with a straight fighter build to solo the longer quests, and rogues don’t have the DPS, and….

Ask yourself what you want to accomplish and what you are willing to accept and not accept. I personally dislike Halflings and would never play them (Personal dislike of the animation) so while there are some interesting builds out there for Halflings none of them are for me. Others dislike Warforged, Drow, Dwarves, some will only play humans, each of us has our own likes and dislikes. Define your and move on it’s not a big deal.

If you want to handle the traps and locks (locked chests) you got to have at least one level of rogue and since you already using class slot for rogue, two levels is probably better, for evasion and the points. More on this later.

If you like Warforged a level or two of Wizard or Sorcerer comes in very handy for healing yourself. It’s not uncommon to WF Wizard 9, Rogue 2, Fighter 3 or some variant of that. It is a good solid build, but not for everyone.

If you like Dwarves, Paladin 7/Cleric 5/Rogue 2 or some variant is another interesting build (Remember you have to be lawful good and wear light armor.)

For elves/drow there are a number using either a Bard/Rogue/Other or Paladin/Fighter/Cleric or other variants out there. Seems to be the most variation among the Elves.

Humans I have seen a number of Barbarian/Bard/Sorcerers while I understand the concept of the build I am not sure it works.

All of these builds are dependent on equipment, and whether or not you have a gear daddy.

So there are hundreds of options out there, just find the one that fits your play style and what you want to accomplish and away you go.

Questions to keep in mind when you create your character design:
How am I going to kill the mobs?
How am I going to defend myself?
How am I going to heal myself?

There are three ways to kill mobs in DDO: melee, ranged attack, and magic. All have advantages and disadvantages. Melee is quick but requires the most gear and puts your character at the most risk on a regular basis. Ranged Attack is the slowest and the least risky. While magic can be the fastest and pretty risky as well as requiring you to watch more stats, ie spell points.
A number of people have asked me about this build or that build and when you start asking those two questions they give you the blank stare. Yes when your character at level 14 they will be able to find and disable the trap in a “cabal for one” but with 32 HP at level 4 you can be killed by a single crit.

Another oft forget question is how are you going to heal yourself, yes three levels of Bard grants Cure Light Wounds and 110 SP, so you can heal 44 to 100 HP back, this works great until you get to level eight and need to heal 200 HP regularly.

05-04-2008, 03:10 PM
A challenge for the experienced solo player is permadeath solo play. Just like permadeath group play, once your character dies it is over. The challenge is to see how far along the path you can get.

I personally am playing a warforged barbarian as a solo permadeath character, my guildies thin I am nuts until they realize he is almost level 5 and maybe has come close to death once.

05-04-2008, 03:11 PM
One of your goal questions or character design questions deal with how does you characters handle traps, secret doors, locked doors. The only class in the game that has the ability to do most of those functions is a rogue. As such you’ll see many solo play characters with a level or more likely two of rogue.

If the only reason you are taking a level or two of rogue is to get the trap in “Sewer Rescue” than don’t waste the levels by taking rogue. Now if you want to get traps in many quests than it is another story. What’s the difference you ask?
Assuming your character is a melee class, an intelligence of 10, and you decide to splash two level of rogue, you disable device will be around +10 or so, when you looking at DCs of 30 so you’ll need 20 to disable the device. Unfortunately it is not a long was off to get DCs of 30, the traps in Grey Moons raising are at least a DC of 30 when this is written (they change from time to time) .

If you really want to do traps than you really need to put more points into Intelligence and action points into disable device, search and spot. And you need to space out your rogue levels.

I personally suggest THREE levels of rogue, as opposed to the more common two levels or one level that appears on some builds and here is why. You get an additional 1d6 on your sneak attacks, get the same +1 to your base attack bonus, and your saves go up just like everyone else’s. But more importantly you get another level to put points in Disable Device and Open Lock. If spaced out you can put several more points there and get a respectable +15 or so. You still are not going to find, disable, open every door trap or lock but you’ll do more than the two or three low level ones you thought about.

05-04-2008, 03:12 PM
One of the biggest differences between group play and solo play is the ability to complete quests well above your level. A good group of fourth level characters and one fifth can pretty easily complete “Stormcleave” on normal, that isn’t necessarily true with solo characters.

If you are playing a non-twinked character I think there is a good option for leveling up. The first step is to complete all of the first level quests on “solo”. Yes I know you can complete all of the first level quests on “normal” but with an untwinked character your first job is to get gear, XP is a secondary requirement. By running the quests on “solo” you have an easy opportunity to get some basic gear, weapons, armor, shields, spell scrolls.

The next step is start running the first level quests on normal. I normally suggest that characters level up as soon as possible to the second level. Remember second level is where many of the class feats come into play. Completing the remainder of the first level quests on normal will result in a 10% penalty but as most of these quests are worth less than 1000 XP it is not a huge loss to lose the 500 or so XP will be made up later.

After completing all of the first level quests I than suggest moving onto the second level quests and again completing all of the quests on “solo”. This should give you enough XP to get to third level and no you get your big choice to level up no or later. If you are going to do multiclass this is a good place to level up and throw in first level of you next class. A straight class character should consider doing some or all of the second level quests on normal. This will result in “burrito butt” for a while but you will not be seeing the XP penalty of 10% that those that level will.

After completing the second level quests on “solo” move to doing the first level quests on “Hard” and then the second level quests already completed on “solo” on “normal”. The quests with a solo/party option are a little easier to complete those are just “party” only.

For those people who twink their characters you can skip the “solo” options and just go to “normal” doing all of the level one quests leveling up than doing all the level one quests on hard and start the level two quests on normal. As with the non-twinked option you’ll get enough XP to hit level three about half through and you need to make the same choice to level up or not.

If you follow these hints you will find yourself leveling up fairly quickly and have more questions on when to level rather than whether or not you can complete the quests.