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.