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  1. #1
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    Default A Veteran DM Approaches Newbie Soloing

    First, a brief introduction: hi there! I have been DMing (Dungeon Master-ing) since 2001 across half a dozen different pen-and-paper game systems. For MMOs, I've played EverQuest, EQ2, WoW, City of Heroes and EVE Online to varying degrees, and my dream job is to become a game designer (any game would do, but preferably PnP roleplaying games, card games, or board games). What that means here is that I approach games from a metagame perspective (mechanics, efficiency, etc.), but I also understand the needs of storytelling. In many ways, I am not a newbie. However, I have only had two "runs" at DDO and this run is my highest-level one (I just turned 11 on the Cannith server). My experience with grouping in DDO is brief, and my opinions may not hold into the upper levels.

    THE PREMISE: A no-nonsense look at soloing through the lens of my main character, an elven cleric/rogue, and why I have chosen the build I have.

    TOPICS OF INTEREST: Choosing how to pick your battles; maintaining efficiency in terms of expenditure, experience and required time; how to survive (and how that has played out for me); "fighting dirty" in every sense (from shameless underleveled dungeon-delving to buying Turbine Points).


    FIRST STOP: DUNGEON EXPERIENCE
    It didn't take long for me to realize that certain actions netted you more experience (XP) in dungeons from reading the XP scorecard, and that performing these actions with one character gave you more bang for your buck in terms of solo experience. Kill everything. Break everything. Find the secret doors. Disarm all traps. Pick locks for treasure, and to get behind special doors. Don't die. Don't reenter. Run the quest before it is too low-level. This is all well and good, but it requires a character who is basically Superman, someone who can perform every action normally required by an entire group. I made a swath of low-level characters learning the way DDO interprets the D&D 3.5 rules and how the game tends to play, and it led me to the following conclusions:

    1. I must be partially a rogue (since I don't have access to artificer yet), because I want to maximize experience and see all that the dungeon has to offer by disarming traps and accessing hidden/locked areas.
    2. Life will be much easier for me if I possess the ability to heal myself in some form or fashion.
    3. Some of D&D's nasty monsters and status effects do exist in-game, so a cleric's utility would not go amiss (since I don't have access to favored soul yet).
    4. Most dungeons are a marathon, not a sprint. Short dungeons can be done by almost anyone by expending temporary resources (rage, potions, maximized spells, a hireling, action boosts, etc.). However, most dungeons tend to vary from Medium to Very Long in length, and some of the nastier ones have precious few rest shrines. The takeaway from this realization is that yes, you WILL need a plan for tanking if you are solo.


    In order to break up the text into bite-sized chunks, I am going to create multiple posts. It is time to see the protagonist of my misadventures.

  2. #2
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    Default Lyrexia, the Elven Cleric/Rogue

    So, I know I want to be a rogue because they have unique abilities to gain XP and access the dungeon. This means I start life as a level 1 rogue because of the x4 skill point multiplier level 1 characters begin with (rogues have the most skill points, and class skills, of any character). I choose to be an elf because I can start life even on an adventurer's point total with cheap Dexterity, and because elves have bonuses to perception among other useful traits. Hit points are certainly useful, but it has always been my experience that leaning on them for effectiveness does not create a solo build (you end up taxing your healing abilities in order to refill an enormous but easily-damaged HP pool). With stat points at a premium and the knowledge that I must have skill points (and the cleric's lousy 2 skill points / level), I begin with the following stats as an adventurer's 28-point build:

    STR: 10
    DEX: 16
    CON: 8
    INT: 16
    WIS: 14
    CHA: 8

    I will be terrible at turning undead (I have never bothered to try, in fact). My spellcasting will be utility-only for a long, long time because my spell save DCs (based on Wisdom for clerics) will be laughable and my mana pool is limited. When I am struck by a hard blow (rarely), I will be somewhat fragile. Early on, my damage output will be subpar (though with a hireling the rogue's extra sneak attack damage makes me tolerable through the first couple levels). On top of all this, I decide to use longswords rather than finesse weapons since it is an appealing option that stacks both my elven racial weapon bonuses (Aerenal Training in the racial tree) and my Sovereign Host abilities in the Warpriest enhancement tree. Instead of choosing offensive options like Weapon Finesse, my level 1 feat is Luck of Heroes for my saving throws.

    I survive the first few quests of Korthos Village as a skilled rogue, hiring on a level 1 cleric for the tough quests and higher difficulties, until I hit level 2 and acquire a level of cleric. I begin investing in Aerenal Weapon Training and more perception from the racial tree until I mix in some Warpriest enhancements. I use shields to increase my AC but stick with light armor for when I get evasion at level 3 with my 2nd rogue level. Once the cleric level hits... I am like unto Colossus or Juggernaut, only with sketchy damage output. The Korthos Island quests cannot stop a healing/tanking cleric, as they were designed to be soloed by practically anyone. My armor class starts looking pretty nice, and I don't even need to heal myself that often (caveat: the optional skeleton mage in the Sacrifices quest killed me on advanced difficulties; I ended up skipping him for Hard and Elite modes, largely because I was unwilling to go find a blunt weapon). When I hit level 3 and gain evasion, suddenly the whole build feels like a success. Clerics have strong Fort/Will saves, rogues have strong Reflex saves and evasion. Put them together, and I begin ignoring many effects from spellcasters and traps. My HP stops looking quite so sickly from taking both the feat Toughness and the enhancement Toughness from Warpriest, and my attacks keep inching upwards by combining Righteous Weapons with Aerenal Training.

    My character's life changes after I loot a Tome of Tumbling (+1 to +2) and sell it for 500,000 pp on the Auction House (which becomes 350,000 after taxes). I realize that I cannot get the money out of my mail with a free account due to the money limit, and I promptly go and purchase some Turbine Points to upgrade to a premium account. I don't make the best use of them *at all* (I buy the Cannith Heavy Armor with Star Cuirass cosmetic armor to look badass, and later I get the monster manuals since I figure it helps to start the kill count early). I do use the money to get a Tome of Int +2 for the moment I turn level 7, and I put my stat points at 4 and 8 into Intelligence as well. At that point, I figure I will have enough skill points with 20 Int to have me succeed by taking a level of rogue every 3rd level to recap the primary rogue skills (as a newbie, I consider Spot to be primary since I don't know the dungeon layouts, along with Disable Device, Open Lock and Search obviously).

    Making a long story short, I proceed to take the feats Improved Shield Bash to help kill skeletons and add a little more DPS, and Shield Mastery for both offense and defense (I favor heavy shields to maximize my defense, while avoiding the tower shield's outrageous penalties). I pump up my perceptive abilities and bolster both offense and defense using the enhancement trees. When I reach Resilience of Battle as a level 3 cleric, I experience the Colossus transformation once again, becoming nigh-impervious to weapon damage (kobolds got nothin' on DR 5/- mixed with evasion). Eventually I master the Aerenal Weapons tree and get Giant's Roar to give me reasonable ranged capabilities in addition to melee, and as of now I guild-buff up to almost 200 HP, 50 AC, saves from +15 to +19, 45% fortification, 17 Physical Resistance Rating, and the longsword and shield have modifiers floating in the +20 to +30 range to hit... they work well enough, they kill stuff. A dedicated tank build will almost certainly post better numbers, but... maybe that tank doesn't also cover rogue skills, or resist most all area affects and spells, or have the healing necessary to solo all of Sorrowdusk Isle or Delera's Tomb or elite Proof is in the Poison. To discuss that though, I'd like to shift focus away from this character build and put it in context of game mechanics.

    It's time for another post.

  3. #3
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    Default The Philosophies of Dungeon Delving

    1. THE DUNGEON IS A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT
    I know I mentioned this in the first post, but it has stuck with me. When I sit down to solo, no matter what character it may be I get ready for the long haul. I fill up my narrow quiver to 400 arrows (or restock whatever ranged item I may possess), make sure I have adequate thieves' tools, have a plan for healing myself, and value passive abilities over activated ones, and refreshable abilities over expended/limited number ones. I would far rather have a constant passive +1 AC than an ability that gives me +6 AC for 20 seconds on a limited-charge resource. For one thing, the first ability requires no mental upkeep (you don't forget to use it). Second, it applies across all of the dungeon's fights, defending against scores or hundreds of mooks rather than a few select boss battles and swarming rooms. Third, it doesn't go to waste: you don't end the dungeon with leftover charges of the ability that you never ended up using. Part of why I chose cleric rather than just bombing out Use Magic Device is the consideration of long-term resources: mana pools can recharge and are very versatile. Wands and potions are finicky, require inventory space, and potentially require skill checks; all of that is in addition to the considerations of money and acquisition time. This all leads into my second point.


    2. EFFICIENCY IN ALL THINGS
    Whatever causes the least drain on your resources is the correct way to solo. I know some people will disagree with me, citing time constraints or simply an abundance of available resources in the case of high-level characters helping "twinks," but I stand by my point. I could be a fighter and succeed at this dungeon a little faster by drinking health potions, or I could spend a little more time and use my mana bar, which costs me nothing and takes up no inventory space. I could achieve the dungeon's primary objectives as fast as possible to unlock higher difficulties or move on to further objectives, or I could take my time by killing every creature, breaking every barrel and disarming every trap, following through on optional objectives and ultimately make this particular run of this dungeon create as much XP for me as possible. At its best, efficiency also means recognizing when to use expendable resources, such as hiring a mercenary NPC or drinking a potion of jump. Its not that you never perform any action that would spend limited resources; you just minimize the moments that doing so is a necessity.


    3. PICK YOUR BATTLES
    This third point is a philosophy I live my entire life by, so it stands to reason I would use it in-game. You don't have to beat every dungeon *right now.* Part of efficiency means trying to finish as many dungeons as you can while they are still in the "sweet spot" level range for you, starting with the lowest-level ones to keep them from "greying out" (a term I borrow from my EverQuest days), i.e., not being worth much if any XP. For instance, at level 3 I would make sure to try to do all of the level 1 missions on Hard mode at a minimum, and all of the level 2 quests on Normal difficulty, to avoid having to take the -10% XP penalty as long as possible. If a few roll over to when I turn level 4, I will do those first (at -25% XP), then proceed to the level 3 quests (level 1 elite dungeons, level 2 hard dungeons, and level 3 normal dungeons). You can vary the order a bit and repeat a few of your favorite quests (I am fond of The Collaborator, The Storehouse's Secret and Redemption at level 1, Haverdasher, Information is Key and Recovering the Lost Tome at level 2 as examples), and you can opt to leave one or two until you are higher level, particularly if they are challenging (Kobold Assault and Irestone Inlet are early examples). Picking your battles also means knowing when to commit your resources, be they hirelings or even Turbine Points (to purchase an adventure pack to get you through a couple of slow levels, for instance). My cleric 6/rogue 5 elf Lyrexia was fortunate enough to be run through The Catacombs on elite difficulty on a pass from a guild member, and recently I purchased Delera's Tomb and Sorrowdusk Isle to forge ahead from level 9. I have just turned 11, and I am in the process of cleaning up my level 7 quests (5 elites, 6 hards, and one or two 7 normals) before I hit 12. So far I've been doing well at earning XP even from quests a few levels below me! That being said, I was able to solo the level 10 Sorrowdusk Isle quests at level 10 with a level 7 cleric hireling (the excellent Flower), because I wanted to start the quest chain over before the early quests became VERY low level; similarly I finished the Delera's Tomb quests in order to be able to start the chain again while the first quests are still worth some XP (and to get the Voice of the Master trinket). Finally, picking your battles even means plain ol' fun. Repeat the quests you like above and beyond faction totals, or buy Delera's Tomb because it is narrated by Gary Gygax and gives the feeling of earlier editions of D&D. Sometimes playing a game means remembering that its a game.


    4. YOU ARE EVERY ROLE IN THE GROUP
    Again, you must have a plan for tackling every aspect of dungeon delving: tanking, healing, damage dealing, trapsmithing/locksmithing, crowd control, what have you. No matter how you approach it, you must either be able to serve the role, or avoid it in some way. A caster who sets up Area of Effect (AoE) Damage over Time (DoT) effects like Wall of Fire or Blade Barrier along with crowd control may be able to avoid tanking, and that is fine - he/she has planned for how to approach the dungeon. I suggest that even if you normally avoid some traditional group role, that you have a contingency plan for what happens *if you must* perform that role. If you cannot deal with traps but must pass one, ward yourself against the damage type using a spell, wand or potion. If you cannot tank but find yourself being hit, perhaps have some emergency spells, activated abilities or potions to get through the narrow scrape. Personally I have not practiced the art of crowd control with Lyrexia, and generally I will backpedal to keep from being surrounded and pull groups around corners or pillars to avoid targeting from casters and archers. When I cannot do so, I usually suffer some damage and pop some of my abilities like Sanctuary from Warpriest, or channel a Cure Serious Wounds mid-battle (I like to heal between fights normally, but sometimes you must roll Concentration skill).


    5. THE DUNGEON WILL PROVIDE
    As an addendum to efficiency, the more efficient you are, the more expendable items you begin to collect since you don't constantly use them. In Lyrexia's case, I collect Rage potions to give me the little edge needed to throw Strength levers (along with guild buffs and a Str item, or the spell Bull's Strength before that), and sometimes I find I need a Potion of Jump to give me a little more distance in some dungeon. Sometimes I skip the optional Str levers (you can't do everything), but the jump situations happen just rarely enough that the odd Potion of Jump I find in adventuring has kept me supplied so far. The same holds true with Potions of Rage: I have yet to purchase one. If you are patient, many of the items you need can be found in the dungeon: thieves' tools may drop, potions to bolster a stat, wands with useful spells like Cure Moderate Wounds, even items to upgrade you. Save your Auction House and vendor purchases for the important stuff, or the things you tend to run a little low on. If you are able to keep up with it, the collectible items you gain can keep you supplied on some fronts by trading them to the right vendor. "The Dungeon Will Provide" could also be called "make the best use of what you find."

  4. #4
    Founder & Hero Uska's Avatar
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    Dumping con is a really really bad idea there are lots of mobs and effects that will do con damage and you will be dead before you can fix it.

    The ANTI-Realms FANBOI NUKE THE REALMS ITS THE ONLY REAL WAY TO BE SURE

  5. #5
    The Hatchery amnota's Avatar
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    Soulstones do no DPS
    Some people are like Slinkies
    They don't really have a purpose
    But they still bring a smile to your face
    When you push them down the stairs

  6. #6
    Community Member Lonnbeimnech's Avatar
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    One other thing you will learn about ddo, trying to make a well rounded multiclass/multirole character out of a 28 point build, will not work out too well.

    One other thing, rogue already can heal like a cleric, they get umd, you can buy cure wands and heal scrolls and they aren't all that pricy.

    You can also get a cleric hireling.

  7. #7
    Community Member count_spicoli's Avatar
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    You have been dm'ing d&d for years and you are just now giving ddo arguably the best d&d game ever a go just now? If ya don't mind me asking why?

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    Default Tough Crowd

    Man, you guys are hard to impress. Alright, let me fill you in on a couple more points.

    1. I also saved up the money to get a Tome of Con +2 (or did I get one from a daily dice roll? No, that was Str +1 I think; was I lucky and found the blinkin' thing?). In any case, my base Con score is 2 higher than listed, and I have a +4 Con item. Thus far scorpion poison and wraith touches have yet to kill me.

    2. You guys can be a barrel of laughs, but I'd like to point out something: I haven't died since I fought the skeletal mage in Sacrifices at level 2 (that was before I had evasion). I mean, literally I haven't died with Lyrexia soloing since then. Yes, I do use a cleric or favored soul hireling sometimes, but even so I have not had to resurrect at all (I think I had a hireling die about 2, maybe 3 times over her whole career up to this point). We can talk about this all day, but actions speak louder than words and I have a stack of no-death no-reentry bonuses staring me in the face when I look at my XP bar (one or two dungeons threw me a curveball by requiring a second person when I didn't have a hireling with me; those I just start over).



    Now then, on to questions and observations. @Lonnbeimnech You do make some good points, ones which I considered when I made the character. However, a straight rogue seems squishy to me (the only rogue enhancement tree that really appeals to me is the Thief-Acrobat which doesn't fit this character; I'll save that for a rogue/fighter or rogue/ranger). Cleric gives me AC, DR, PRR, HP, and shores up a rogue's weak saving throws. On top of this, it means I don't have to worry about getting that many potions, wands or hirelings because I can do most of those things already. I imagine when I get more comfy with the game that I will try to craft a more straight-up rogue (assassin looks kinda cool, and mechanic looks like a challenge).

    @count_spicoli I did try DDO once before, as I mentioned (I said I had taken two runs at the game). I didn't try guilds much, and the ones I did join were obnoxious or unhelpful. I didn't have anyone to play with (most of my real-life playgroup either considers MMOs to be the devil, or they were playing WoW at the time). This time around I have roped a couple of friends into playing and I have joined guilds, and I think it is helping my game experience despite the fact that I solo so much (I have an alt who plays with my friends because they don't play DDO as much as I do, hence they cannot group with a level 11 character).

  9. #9
    Founder & Hero Uska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bhaub View Post
    Man, you guys are hard to impress. Alright, let me fill you in on a couple more points.

    1. I also saved up the money to get a Tome of Con +2 (or did I get one from a daily dice roll? No, that was Str +1 I think; was I lucky and found the blinkin' thing?). In any case, my base Con score is 2 higher than listed, and I have a +4 Con item. Thus far scorpion poison and wraith touches have yet to kill me.

    2. You guys can be a barrel of laughs, but I'd like to point out something: I haven't died since I fought the skeletal mage in Sacrifices at level 2 (that was before I had evasion). I mean, literally I haven't died with Lyrexia soloing since then. Yes, I do use a cleric or favored soul hireling sometimes, but even so I have not had to resurrect at all (I think I had a hireling die about 2, maybe 3 times over her whole career up to this point). We can talk about this all day, but actions speak louder than words and I have a stack of no-death no-reentry bonuses staring me in the face when I look at my XP bar (one or two dungeons threw me a curveball by requiring a second person when I didn't have a hireling with me; those I just start over).



    Now then, on to questions and observations. @Lonnbeimnech You do make some good points, ones which I considered when I made the character. However, a straight rogue seems squishy to me (the only rogue enhancement tree that really appeals to me is the Thief-Acrobat which doesn't fit this character; I'll save that for a rogue/fighter or rogue/ranger). Cleric gives me AC, DR, PRR, HP, and shores up a rogue's weak saving throws. On top of this, it means I don't have to worry about getting that many potions, wands or hirelings because I can do most of those things already. I imagine when I get more comfy with the game that I will try to craft a more straight-up rogue (assassin looks kinda cool, and mechanic looks like a challenge).

    @count_spicoli I did try DDO once before, as I mentioned (I said I had taken two runs at the game). I didn't try guilds much, and the ones I did join were obnoxious or unhelpful. I didn't have anyone to play with (most of my real-life playgroup either considers MMOs to be the devil, or they were playing WoW at the time). This time around I have roped a couple of friends into playing and I have joined guilds, and I think it is helping my game experience despite the fact that I solo so much (I have an alt who plays with my friends because they don't play DDO as much as I do, hence they cannot group with a level 11 character).
    A 10 con is no better than a 8 I repeat con is not a dump stat in ddo period 14 min well maybe 12 for a 28pt build

    The ANTI-Realms FANBOI NUKE THE REALMS ITS THE ONLY REAL WAY TO BE SURE

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    Quote Originally Posted by Uska View Post
    A 10 con is no better than a 8 I repeat con is not a dump stat in ddo period 14 min well maybe 12 for a 28pt build

    Not to be critical, but is this something you have personally experimented with, or are you touting commonly-held beliefs? I realize dumping Con is a questionable idea (you'd always like it to be high if you can spare the points), but I took every precaution to make an effective character who doesn't need to rely on a Con score. Your statement has the ring of dogma about it; in my personal experience I have been effective and death-free.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bhaub View Post
    Not to be critical, but is this something you have personally experimented with, or are you touting commonly-held beliefs? I realize dumping Con is a questionable idea (you'd always like it to be high if you can spare the points), but I took every precaution to make an effective character who doesn't need to rely on a Con score. Your statement has the ring of dogma about it; in my personal experience I have been effective and death-free.
    Have fun, sounds like you are. But the game changes late teens and changes once again in epic elite (level 20 and up).

    My first toon to 20 was a dex based clonk (17 clr, 2 monk, 1 rogue). I get the fun in fully beating a dungeon... But later on you will face stuff that can kill you in one shot.

    A cruel trick of DDO is that min/max at the lower levels doesn't min/max for the higher ones. Enjoy the game, have fun, but for now... You sound like a young kid trying to debate deep philosophy

    That said, my clonk was fun to play. Enjoy the journey

  12. #12
    Community Member Lonnbeimnech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bhaub View Post
    Not to be critical, but is this something you have personally experimented with, or are you touting commonly-held beliefs? I realize dumping Con is a questionable idea (you'd always like it to be high if you can spare the points), but I took every precaution to make an effective character who doesn't need to rely on a Con score. Your statement has the ring of dogma about it; in my personal experience I have been effective and death-free.
    Con used to be one of the few ways to get your hp up high.

    These days you can get away with lower since so much of your total hp will be from gear. The difference between 14 con and 8 is 3 hp per level, 84 at cap, you can still get to 900 or so with effort.

    Look for the best 'false life' item you can find, this stacks with 'vitality' items, which you should also look for. and the best con item you can find (which it sounds like you have already done).

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    Founder & Hero Uska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bhaub View Post
    Not to be critical, but is this something you have personally experimented with, or are you touting commonly-held beliefs? I realize dumping Con is a questionable idea (you'd always like it to be high if you can spare the points), but I took every precaution to make an effective character who doesn't need to rely on a Con score. Your statement has the ring of dogma about it; in my personal experience I have been effective and death-free.
    It comes from 8 years of experience with ddo and 39 years with dnd
    Last edited by Uska; 06-14-2014 at 10:23 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lonnbeimnech View Post
    Con used to be one of the few ways to get your hp up high.

    These days you can get away with lower. The difference between 14 con and 8 is 3 hp per level, 84 at cap, you can still get to 900 or so with effort.

    Look for the best 'false life' item you can find, this stacks with 'vitality' items, which you should also look for. and the best con item you can find (which it sounds like you have already done).
    Its not just the HP its the stat drain which seems to happen a lot more often than it use to.

    The ANTI-Realms FANBOI NUKE THE REALMS ITS THE ONLY REAL WAY TO BE SURE

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    Oh since you want a cleric rogue human might have been a better choice since they get more skill points. It doesn't provide some of the other beniies you are after but more skill points, easier healing amp access and bonus feat as well as more con

    The ANTI-Realms FANBOI NUKE THE REALMS ITS THE ONLY REAL WAY TO BE SURE

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    Community Member Lonnbeimnech's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uska View Post
    Its not just the HP its the stat drain which seems to happen a lot more often than it use to.
    He's a cleric tho...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lonnbeimnech View Post
    Con used to be one of the few ways to get your hp up high.

    These days you can get away with lower since so much of your total hp will be from gear. The difference between 14 con and 8 is 3 hp per level, 84 at cap, you can still get to 900 or so with effort.

    Look for the best 'false life' item you can find, this stacks with 'vitality' items, which you should also look for. and the best con item you can find (which it sounds like you have already done).
    His high level toon is level 11. He's starting off in the hole 45 hp from not having a green steel hp item. A TR toon with twink gear can get away with dumping con. A first life toon without a nice twink package... will have occasions where they just insta-die.

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    Good luck, learn from death, cover your weak points. There are many ways to play. The standard approach is to always have decent con/hp - it lets you takes the hits and make mistakes and recover. But you can do it other ways if you play to avoid everything being toe-toe battles.

    Rogue-ing is tough on skill points - you will need spot (luckily WIS based) and typically wear spot all the time (used to be almost exclusively goggles, which you swapped for search goggles). Search has to be good enough to find traps, so you can't skimp there, and disable device failures can hurt so don't skip there. If you're not doing the assassin thing don't bother much with hide and move silently. Keep pumping the UMD, one point in tumble, some in jump. Bluff is handy later. But you also need heal as a cleric. Happy juggling.

    Gear becomes important as you move into medium levels, as everything is designed assuming you have decent gear.

    I would expect you will hit an area in medium levels where progress is slow/hard when soloing - use explorer areas to fill in some xp, but pugging can help to finish some tricky chains.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lonnbeimnech View Post
    He's a cleric tho...
    With a 8 con he will be dead before he can do anything about it. Not real synergy between those two classes really
    Last edited by Uska; 06-14-2014 at 04:31 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MacDubh View Post
    Good luck, learn from death, cover your weak points. There are many ways to play. The standard approach is to always have decent con/hp - it lets you takes the hits and make mistakes and recover. But you can do it other ways if you play to avoid everything being toe-toe battles.

    Rogue-ing is tough on skill points - you will need spot (luckily WIS based) and typically wear spot all the time (used to be almost exclusively goggles, which you swapped for search goggles). Search has to be good enough to find traps, so you can't skimp there, and disable device failures can hurt so don't skip there. If you're not doing the assassin thing don't bother much with hide and move silently. Keep pumping the UMD, one point in tumble, some in jump. Bluff is handy later. But you also need heal as a cleric. Happy juggling.

    Gear becomes important as you move into medium levels, as everything is designed assuming you have decent gear.

    I would expect you will hit an area in medium levels where progress is slow/hard when soloing - use explorer areas to fill in some xp, but pugging can help to finish some tricky chains.
    He could get away with dumping spot if he either knows where the traps are and can avoid them to get to the box or has a good reflex save to go with evasion. But he does need search and disable which will cost him 2 skill points each on his cleric levels his third skill should be umd

    The ANTI-Realms FANBOI NUKE THE REALMS ITS THE ONLY REAL WAY TO BE SURE

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