(This guide is in rough draft form)
The purpose of this guide is to offer advice, tips and best practices to players who choose to play the game for free. The guide specifically focuses on creating viable and sustainable end game characters and some of the challenges presented with building such a character on a very low or zero dollar budget. This guide will contain recommendations on character selection, strategies for acquiring turbine points and tips on what packs to consider purchasing. Also included are some links to valuable resources for players interested in further research. As with any guide, some of the information listed here is highly subjective and may be subject to debate.
Part 1: Limitations
You get what you pay for, and in DDO terms that means a true free to play account is at the bottom of the list for caveats earned. You get the absolute basics and you have to find a way to make that work unless you want to fork over some cold hard cash. If you started as a free to play patron and now find that you love the game and want to dive in further I highly recommend going VIP or at the bare minimum buying the smallest turbine point package. This will open a lot of doors and provide access to a wealth of more options in game, as well as cut back on your time spent grinding points.
The following link: http://ddowiki.com/page/Account_comparisons shows comparisons between account types. Among other shortcomings a free to play account on has two character slots and has no share bank space. Additionally a free account on receives 3 challenge tokens per day from the daily challenge token provider in House Cannith.
Part 2: Getting the Points
If you ever want to escape from the free to play confines of Stormreach you are going to need to get more adventure packs, and to do that you’re going to need turbine points, and to get turbine points you’re going to need favor, lots and lots of favor.
There are two types of favor rewards, the first type is simple: Every 100 favor you achieve on any given character earns 25 turbine points. The second type is first time rewards for reaching specific watermarks for the first time (and only the first time) on any given server. The following link http://ddowiki.com/page/Turbine_Point has some very useful information on turbine points for free and premium players.
There are a few ways to go about acquiring points for short and long term gain. Considering our plan here is to build an account that is capable of accessing endgame content with viable end game characters we’re going to focus on a long term strategy that will be a little more work up front but offer more reward down the long road.
There are currently 8 servers, and many players would recommend doing a quick 100 favor dash on each server to generate points to jumpstart an account. One hundred favor on each server will get you 1000 points. Sadly this isn’t going to be enough to reasonably get into the endgame, but it’s definitely a start. Focusing on reaching 500 favor on all servers (typically achieved by a level 7 or so character started from level 1) will net about 2200 points. One of the 8 servers is going to be your home server, this is where your real characters are that will get all the way to level 20 and true resurrect. Another of the 8 servers is going to be a farming server where you can get to 1000 favor to unlock veteran status, this gives the option of having a place to conveniently farm favor with the 100 point dash. So now you have the framework for a slum lord’s turbine point empire: 500 favor on 6 servers, 1000 favor on 2 and that nets 2650 points which is enough to buy a good bit of content (see below). Plus you’ll be set up to farm points for the future if desired and that farming won’t interfere with the restricted selection of two character slots on your home server. Farming 500 points on each server will also break up the repetition of running the 100 point dash. If it’s killing you to do another painful run through the harbor you can always hop on another server and work at getting 1000 favor on each of those. They may not be time effective but it’s a nice break to switch things up.
How long will it take to get here? Not overnight. It really depends on how dedicated you are. There’s strength in numbers and if you have a partner or two the road is a lot easier and less monotonous, but if you really dig into it you might find much of it to be a blast. Remember if at any time you are sick of nickeling yourself to death with turbine points you can suck it up and drop down some money for the easy way out. Don’t feel bad if you do, for most of us it’s worth it.
The 100 point dash
There’s a ton of ways to engage in the 100 point dash. Make a character, get 100 favor, delete and reroll. Beyond that you can get Veteran status to make it much easier, you can try some different build options. It’s really about what works for you. I found my greatest success with a level four drow wizard, starting stats 8, 16, 12, 20, 8, 10 with toughness and two spell focus conjuration feats. Spells: Niac’s, Expeditious Retreat, Acid Spray, Hypnotism, Fox’s Cunning, Melf’s and False Life. I was able to muscle through some pretty serious elites with this little guy right off the boat and often put TR’s to shame with the 4 spell point niac’s dps. Play around with some different designs and see what works for you and your play style. Whatever you feel about the 100 point dash I hope you like the content in and around Stormreach harbor because you’re going to be seeing a lot of it.
Part 3: Buying guide
This is probably the most subjective part of this guide, I will provide general recommendations and personal insights, and I’m sure some other vet’s will chime in with some alternate perspectives. Either way once you make a purchase it can’t be undone so choose wisely and make educated decisions. The following link http://forums.ddo.com/showthread.php?t=287854 provides a rather dated but still very useful buying guide for adventure packs. My personal recommendations would be to get the Vale of Twilight (currently 850 TP), Demon Sands (currently 850 TP) and the Ruins of Gianthold (currently 950 TP). These three packs offer extensive content for the points spent, one offers epic content which you will need for farming epic tokens for TR’s. Beyond these selections there are various smaller packs that provide epic content, looks closely at these to see if one might suit your needs. The Red Fens, The Sentinels of Stormreach, The Phiarlan Carnival and Devil Assault are all great selections getting epic content to farm tokens for TR’s. The following link http://ddowiki.com/page/Adventure_Packs has some great general information on adventure packs. Keep a close eye out for sales on the DDO store, and be ready to jump on a sale if it’s something you know you’re going to need, a good sale can save you a lot of grinding.
Part 4: Your Characters
So you have two character slots to work with. You can buy more slots with turbine points but if having more characters is a concern for you I would recommend again the premium account option because just spending the minimum will net you another two character slots. Given that you only have two slots to work with, make them characters that will make the grade, even on your short changed account.
I would recommend a cleric, as they are probably the most powerful and party friendly free to play class available in the endgame. Alternately a pale master is very powerful in the endgame, especially in epics, but isn’t always the best in tight party situations because of their healing limitations. If you have your heart set on a melee I would recommend a dwarven barbarian but in the end play what works best for you, just don’t play a low con elven rogue. You can always reroll once you get 20 epic dungeon tokens but first you have to be able to survive the epics to get the tokens. Make sure you character has lots of hit points and is able to provide something useful to a party if he can’t get the job done himself.
Make sure to start building levels in Cannith crafting on your main character from the beginning. A high crafting level will go a long way towards making up for the gear you won’t be able to acquire from content you don’t own and it has to two fold effect of clearing up lots of inventory space from melting items down.
Part 5 Other tips and miscellaneous links