Epic Update

Schir Gold has found wyrm blood to be an insatiable taste.  Way more than i mentioned before, i feel like the Monster Manual contains a collapsed portable hole where there ought to be dragons.  Seriously!  The awesome bunch of guys in Sacred Flame Guardians have been running Wrongside and i ragged in the quest for scales/loot/flagging and the trump of them all – fun.

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A horde, devoid of it’s draconic guardian courtesy of SFG

In the last week, let’s see…we ran another EH Vault of Night (what was i scared about all these years?), Don’t Drink the Water – first time running with an Epic Monk…yowza, and EH Tor (two?  three?  i lost count).  Plus a jaunt through the Gianthold for another green dragon.  So that’s like, what, 9-12 of the great beasts?  My head is spinning underneath my Minos Legens (haven’t pulled the Epic Blue Dragon Helm yet).

Earlier tonight, SFG had a hearty laugh at my expense thanks to my rolling-for-loot naivete.  Our erstwhile guide to all things high level: Abbigaal/Celleste/Reikenn/Boeregard was dual-boxing and we were all rolling for his alt’s loot.  Slow on the uptake as i am wont to be, i see Wrongside win the roll so i pass all my good stuff to him – a couple of Flawless Black Dragon Scales.  As it turns out, the proper protocol there is we were rolling to see who got the alt’s chest pulls.  What do i know?  i didn’t want to be a jerk.  All this raiding and Epic what-have-you is new to me so i figured someone would just get really lucky on each chest.  On top of that, i know Wrongside is looking to upgrade to a Flawless Black Dragon Docent; if i could help him get there, why not?

That being said, his current PDK docent looks incredibly killer, especially with whatever he does that makes him look thus:

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Made out of light?!

i can’t tell you how relieved i was to learn he was supposed to look like that.  At first, when i turned around i thought “what the heck is that?  some kinda super Animated Armor?”  No, it’s Wrongside.  Uh-oh – my monitor just went wonky.  Turns out it’s some Destiny thingie he has now.

Speaking of which, i got a chance to run Caught in the Web that i’ve been slavering over since laying my eyes on Twilight and Sireth.  Boeregard – a fire savant in full-on red dragon gear – led us through that one.  Another awesome looking toon.  i’m starting to change my tune when it comes to what i’ve decided are aesthetic displeasing Warforged all these years.  Once you start slapping some cool looking armor and helms on them, they’re pretty frickin’ sweet looking.  Additionally, since i’ve gotten so much more involved with the guild and grouping in general, i’ve come to realize that it’s not so important to me anymore what my character looks like.  Don’t get me wrong – i’m vain and i want my virtual adventurer to look perfect.  But when you’re running through these crazy quests with friends, it’s more about their real life personalities and the fun we have chatting and stuff, and i don’t really have time to get caught up on staring at my little dude like i did when i was a pretty strict soloist.

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Yo Demon Queen!  i’m coming for your phat lootz.  Consider yourself on notice.

Caught in the Web was insane.  It was quite a challenge to keep up, both in terms of DPS and just literally keeping up with the party that rolled through this thing.  Boeregard was great, doling out sound advice and tons of fiery hurt.  And huge props to Rette, our bard who led Ana through the Demon Web.  It was his first time too, and he did terrific.

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Success!  Nevermind what that ice mephit and Wrongside are up to…

We made it!  What a blast.  i was so caught up in it (pun intended) that i really didn’t have time to think too critically about it, but talking afterwards i will agree with Onigem in that it’s a bit anticlimactic to battle your way through this tough quest…and then watch from the sidelines while the NPC fights the BBEG.  But hey – sometimes being the hero means letting the little guy have a victory too.  Besides, she’s like the avatar of Mystra or something, right?  If the Sage of Shadowdale can stand there and be content, who am i to argue?

And the chests!!  Once the sea of adventurers ebbed a little and i saw them all spread out there, i couldn’t believe it.  Never seen that many chests in one place before.  Surely, the loot i sought would be contained therein.  But alas, no.  i was really happy to pull a Pinion though.  Not for me, but guildie Onigem, who’d mentioned it several times that night.  It was my pleasure to pass it on to him and i’m looking forward to seeing it in action.  Other than that, it was a lotta dimp.

Oh!  i almost forgot – my pipedream of the air savant melee sorcerer crystallized a little more watching Bo in action with his Draconic Incarnation Destiny.  i did not realize all the different things available there.  The energy sheath, added energy effects…and wings!  Not just any old wings though – it’s actually a flyby attack.  So, yeah.  Once i get my hands on Sireth, i think it might be time to TR…and maybe even try life as a Warforged.  Before i do that though, i’d like to bring another toon up to 20 so i can still run the Epic stuff.  And to that end, i rolled a monk the other night.  Can you say confusing?  Wow, that’s going to be a trip.

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i’d like to think i’m a bit of a bard, as it were.  Maybe?  Just a little?  Not the Bard.  i’ll settle for the lowercase.

The Best of the Worst, part 2

Top Ten Villains: in ranked order from 10th to 1st, my favorite comic book villains.  These are the characters whose motivations i most understand, enjoy tales about, or consider just plain cool – in a diabolical way.  The list is not limited by publisher.  If i’m honest, my comic book habits gravitate mostly around the Big Two.  Jumped on the 90′s Image bandwagon (only blurry memories remain, but i did like Union for the Texiera art), and i’ve dipped a toe in other waters from time to time.  But for the most part i’m a mainstream comics fan at heart. Since you’ve undoubtedly rushed home from work/school/your busy life to find out who #5-#1 could possibly be, i felt obligated to have this ready – just for you!  Yeah, you.  The one who was here yesterday thinking “I’ve never ever heard of most of these guys.”  And they are all guys, aren’t they?  Hmmm…is my view too chauvinistic?  Where all the ladies at?  Perhaps the fairer sex is simply that and their supercrimes against humanity aren’t quite as heinous.  A skim down this list of femme fatales does illicit some “oh yeah…” names for me (looking at you Elektra, White Queen, Cheetah, some others) but, sorry ladies, when it comes to my favorite comic book metacriminals, it’s a man’s world.  

#5 – Kingpin With his generally recognized arch-nemesis ranking #2 on this album’s A-side, Wilson Fisk was basically an auto-include on this list.  The only question was where to place him.  Compared to those who came before, he’s severely out-classed in regards to power level.  But this list is about my favorites, and there’s no doubt the Kingpin of Crime is one of them.  All Sydney Greenstreet inspiration aside, by the time i came across Kingpin during Frank Miller’s legendary run around Issue #170 he was introduced to me as a mammoth of muscle, a brutal crimelord who, while he preferred to run the show from his Manhattan penthouse, had no qualms about getting his hands dirty.  A brilliant story arc, of that there is no question.  But i wondered, even as a child – who would sign up to be his training partners?  i’m pretty sure he killed them all during the session.  Classes at the local dojo must have been getting pretty thin. “Hey – did you see that ad in the locker room?  Some spice dealer is paying top dollar for sparring partners!” “Let’s go check it out.  I hear Murphy signed up last week.  Haven’t heard from him though…”

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“Surprisingly quick on his feet for a big man.” – every WWF color commentator during a match featuring a large man.

Oh, what an awesome run of comics that was.  Brilliant!  Looking back, i can’t believe i was reading those when i was in like 3rd grade, but hey – i turned out all right.  Those issues featuring a fantastic gritty tale starring Kingpin, DD, Elektra, and Bullseye are likely the culprits responsible for my appreciation of a good crime story to this very day.  i never knew Kingpin as the malformed malcontent of his earlier years battling Spider-Man.  To me, he’s always been a dark figure, one who inspired chills when revealed as the mastermind behind the nefarious plot.  Like the characters he schemed against, the mention of his name instantly let me know that things just got real serious.

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One of the best things about Kingpin – no costume!

From what i understand, most of Kingpin’s earlier exploits involved standard comic book fare of the day – oddball heists, gimmicky gadgets, and authentic Stan Lee banter.  And it would be blasphemous to discount that earlier body of work.  But for my money, Marvel NYC’s Kingpin of Crime will forever be steeped in ninjas, assassins, and psychological torture aimed at his enemies whether they be superpowered or not, or even his own son.  The best thing about this character is definitely the realism that makes it just believable enough that you don’t have far to suspend your disbelief.

The other great stand-out Kingpin story, and for my money probably the best comic book story i’ve ever read (sorry, Paul!) is the 50-something issue run by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev.  i should clarify that last statement – it’s not that the erstwhile creator of Longbox Graveyard doesn’t like the story.  Far from it.  But he does make quite a case against the format of the story, which i totally respect.  Actually, in a funny way i agree with him – it is very wordy – but on the other hand look what you’re reading right now.  See any posts under 500 words around here?  Didn’t think so.

But i digress.  By the time you reach the end of this epic DD tale, i believe you will be a fan of the Kingpin too.  Like LBG and pretty much anyone else you ask including myself, reading them in collected version is definitely the way to go.  i suppose at this point, it’s superfluous to think you’d read each issue individually and wait a month between each…but on the other hand, there is the thrill of the back-issue hunt to consider.  If that’s your ken, then don’t let me stop you – pick a random number between 26 and 81 and go from there.

#4 – Shocker

i’m going to cheat here.  Want to know why i like the Shocker so much?

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Psst…over here!

#3 – Lex Luthor

We’re getting serious now.  Throw out all those who came before, these last three put the “super” in supervillain.

The first thing i have to say about Lex here is that he is the only character i’ve researched who has his own listing on IMDB.  At least the only one that comes up near the top of a Google search.  And with a filmography that lists 45 items, that’s pretty impressive.

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i’d at least consider voting Lex for President.

At this point, i’d say it’s pointless to try and pinpoint when exactly i became a fan of Luthor.  Even people who have never seen, let alone read, a comic book know this character.  Superman’s nemesis, a “normal” man of exceptional intellect, scientific and technological genius, and ruthlessness.  In fact, he is considered to be the most intelligent human in his comic book universe, and one of the most intelligent beings period.  If you ask me, this ought to be considered a super power by itself – the power to surpass Batman in anything a human is capable of.  Typical comic book discussions involving Batman result in the Dark Knight being the most/best whatever.  It should be noted that, since we’re talking comics here, Luthor’s scientific prowess extends to things like space and extra-dimensional travel, mutations, and the like.  If you were to ask the man himself, only Brainiac is his peer intellectually.

luthor hackman Gene Hackman’s superb turn as Superman’s foil.

For a lot of folks, Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman: The Movie served as their introduction to the whole mythos of the Last Son of Krypton, and in that, i believe their image of Luthor is a wonderful starting point.  There’s no denying that Gene Hackman is a terrific actor, and i enjoy the heck out of his portrayal.  At times maybe it was bordering on campy, but for what it’s worth the seeds of sinister charm and megalomaniacal brilliance certainly shone through.

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Luthor’s warsuit. Classic!

Another iconic part of Luthor’s repertoire is the Warsuit, which made it’s debut in Action Comics #544 in 1983 (Post-Crisis version in Man of Steel #5 in 1986).  Capable of flight, super strength, force fields, various energy blasts – including several varieties of Kryptonite – and others dependent on writers’ fiat, the Warsuit enables Lex to go mano en Superman (yeah i know that’s all kinds of wrong).  There’s more than a few DC villains with a penchant for purple and green, no?

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Rockin’ the disco collar.  It’s Leisure Suit Lex!

How many people can say this image springs to mind when they think of Lex Luthor?  Chances are you’re thinking “yeah, Super Friends was the bomb, yo!”  And you’re right – it was.  But technically it wasn’t until the third series of programs that the infamous Legion of Doom, lead by Luthor here, made it’s first appearance.  i know, right?  The original Super Friends from 1973 was the one with Wendy, Marvin, and Wonderdog on the team.  You think those two would have lasted two seconds against the LoD?  Think again.  How about the 1977 All-New Super Friends Hour?  Nope, but getting there.  Wendy and Marvin got the boot, and in came Zan and Jayna with their space monkey Gleek.  But this collection of heroes mostly used super teamwork and ethnic diversity to thwart kooky scientists and weird aliens.

Finally, in 1978 Hanna-Barbera got wise and put together a collection of deadly and, more importantly, recognizable bad guys, gave them a swanky swamp fortress, and pitted the heroes from the Hall of Justice against evil enemies worthy of their powers.

One of the best things about a villain like Lex Luthor is the broad approach to his character that has allowed him to undergo these and many other permutations and still remain essentially the same, even after 73 years of publication history.  i particularly enjoy the fact that every so often, even modern day versions of the character will have him sporting his Super Friends garb.  And it’s perfectly acceptable because a) it’s  a comic and everybody has goofy outfits b) it typically performs some function relative to the plot and c) it’s Lex Luthor – who’s going to tell him he looks silly?

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Bald, evil, criminal mastermind…i’m noticing more than one pair on this list with striking similarities.

At the end of the day, one of the most important aspects to a good villain is when you can see that, from a certain perspective, they’re right.  Lex Luthor wasn’t always reprehensible (well…) but he certainly went far over the edge since beginning his feud with Superman.  That’s at the core of his character.  If it weren’t for this alien, then a man like Lex Luthor would had nothing stopping his ambitious pursuits.  Take away all the arrogance, condescendence, and mercilessness, and he’s a man who believes that humankind can and should take care of itself without interference from a godlike benefactor from another planet.  But, also like the best villains, he’s got to take it too far and believe zealously in his entitled right to rule the roost.  Because if he didn’t slip into brutal wickedness…he might be the good guy (looking in your direction, Bruce Wayne).

#2 – Doctor Doom

“What did Doctor Doom really want? He wanted to rule the world. Now, think about this. You could walk across the street against a traffic light and get a summons for jaywalking, but you could walk up to a police officer and say ‘I want to rule the world,’ and there’s nothing he can do about it, that is not a crime. Anybody can want to rule the world. So, even though he was the Fantastic Four’s greatest menace, in my mind, he was never a criminal!” – Stan “The Man” Lee

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Self-made man.

Say what you will about this Latverian despot, you’ve got to admire his accomplishments.  Born a gypsy and persecuted in his homeland, Victor von Doom developed genius intellect and considerable arcane prowess first to protect his people, and eventually to succeed several times at gaining ultimate power.  Although his exploits are legendary, probably my favorite occurred during the 1980’s Secret Wars series (that i touched on in Part 1) – seizing the power of the Beyonder.  i came for the cover and stayed for the story.  My god, what an issue!  Seriously, as a kid reading this one it was cinched for me – Doom is the ultimate bad-ass.

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You should see the other guy.

In contrast to Lex Luthor, who appeals to me because of the broad strokes that make me adaptable in so many ways, Doom’s staying power lies in the opposite direction.  In a strange dichotomy, he is a character that forever craves power while at the same time brims with the confidence of his already superior status.  He is not  a man who fights to take over the world – instead he considers all other foolish for not acknowledging his existing right to rule.  He is, after all, a king.

What strikes me throughout his comic book history is the outright terror inspired by the merest mention of his name.  Thanos comes a knocking, and the Avengers know which troops to rally.  Galactus on a trajectory with earth – the heroes can find a way to deal.  But with Dr. Doom all bets are off.  He has plans within plans within plans and despite all his personal menace, the most frightening part is that when it comes down to it, his machinations often revolve around the fact that defeating him will only make things worse.

This isn’t to say he’s a good guy though, by any means.  What he does have, that many villains lack, is honor.  Sure, he’s resorted to tricks and subterfuge plenty of times but at the end of the day, his supreme belief in his own sovereign might is what puts his ahead of the pack.  He doesn’t just want to defeat his enemies – he wants them to recognize their inferiority.

Aside from all of that though, underneath the iconic armor, i think Doom is a man who wants to be loved.  Yep, i said it.  Call me crazy, but the seeds are there.  Think about it – he can and has seized cosmic power on more than one occasion, and even managed to “take over the earth” (whatever that means).  More than once though, he’s expressed that he wants people to want him to rule.  He believes he’s the best man for the job, and he’s devoted his life to that cause.  In that way, he’s kinda reminiscent of real life uber-successes.  Foregoing all other pursuits like family and friends, instead Doom eternally strives to increase his power and influence.  And therein lies one of the conceits of the comic book world, down a path of thinking that has niggled at me for years – when is it enough for these guys?  Perhaps that is why, especially in this new century of provocative comic story telling, we so often see characters die or dramatically change.  When you have traversed the known and unknown multiverse, tasted ultimate power, bested all your foes, acquired limitless wealth and power…where do you go?  The best you can hope for is a quiet time of peace before the end.

But for Dr. Doom, who has seen it all and lived to tell the tale, can you ever really accept that there is and end?  Perhaps all your struggles, battles, triumphs, and defeats serve as a crucible.  What you face at the end of all things is simply the doom of your time.

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 “I am Doom… Destroyer of Worlds… What gods dare stand against me?”

#1 – Magneto

What?!  Magneto was my #7 favorite Good Guy – no fair!  To that, i’ll let Kurtis Blow lay it out for you.

So i’ll cut you a deal.  Since you made it this far, through a two-parter no less, i’ll let you off the hook.  If you really want to know how i feel about the Master of Magnetism, there’s a handy link up there for you which i fully encourage you to check out.  For the nonce, however, i’ll leave you with a cool visual.  And hey – you got some sweet old school hip hop for your trouble as well.

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Seven Years in the Making

i teased this about a week ago, and now i will tell you the tale.  For the typical DDO’er this is probably not anything to write home (or online to share with the world) about, but for me it was a HUGE deal.  See, for all that i’ve been grinding through lives and levels almost since the very beginning (regrettably just a tad too late) i was never much of a raider (i.e. never ran any except a Tempest Spine six years ago, severely under-level Chronoscopes, and 2 Shroud runs).  But thanks to some serious time dedicated to a single character, and inclusion in a really active and vibrant guild, i finally felt like i could carry my weight in a 12-person group battling for epic supremacy.  Since then, i’m happy to say i can hang with the big dogs (or Wolfies) on Monday nights.  By “hang with” i mean “not be a huge burden” – these skilled vets are rolling along and defeating evil with aplomb.

So there i sat last week, tapping away about the awesome achievement of facing down an EH green dragon and overcoming the challenge.  i get a few lines in when my phone starts blowing up.

“Epic VON with the guild!” 10:09pm

“They are already on VON 2 but there is still room” 10:10pm

“On three now…” 10:11pm

By this point i’m like WTF is going on?  How are they doing it this quickly?!  i thought maybe they were blowing through flagging at the Heroic tier, something i did solo in about 20 minutes the other day so i’d be ready for this moment.  What was i to do?  Sit there and finish writing about a game or jump in there and do something?!

Well, as you may have surmised by now – both!

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If you stayed up extra late to read about our time purging the poisoned well, thank you.  This is what caused the delay.

By the time i logged on, my guildmates were standing around waiting to start the boss fight in VON2: The Prisoner…which took about 10 seconds on EH.  After that, we blew through VON4: Haywire Foundry, where i was happy to note that when we split up, i could still hold my own and contribute meaningful DPS.  At least, it seemed so to me.  It’s all relative – i was seeing way bigger numbers than i ever had before.  Note to PnP players – “splitting the party” does not equate to “guaranteed TPK” in this game.

So within a couple minutes, everyone is flagged.  All of this is old hat to me (not the Epic part, but the quests themselves).  Every toon i’ve ever brought to level range has been flagged just in case the opportunity arises, but the stars just never aligned for me.  To put it another way, i was too chicken to PUG it not knowing what i was doing.  i will admit that Wrongside, myself, and our buddy Daniam once entered the Vault of Night just to see what we could see.  Believe it or not, we managed to complete VON5 – the actual vault portion of the raid.  IIRC it took about oh…two hours or so fumbling and stumbling through it.  We were so jacked after that, ready to fight what at the time was the game’s only red dragon.  No problem, right?

We enter the Plane of Night.  Oooh.  Ahhh.  What a sight!  A pocket dimension basically in orbit around the planet far below.  Far enough below to see the curvature of it.  Armed with the knowledge that there are 3 pillars to be destroyed simultaneously, we split up and each head for one.

And then we got annihilated in short order.

“She breathes fire on you before you can fight her?  What’s going on?  The bridge is burning!  Uh-oh, i’m getting hit…”

Ding!

Ding! Ding!

Let’s put all that behind us, shall we?  This night was different.  Rolling with a guild in a full party rounded out by a pair of PUGgers, i had zero doubt we’d succeed.  If there was one downside, it’s that everyone knew the quest so well, i didn’t really have time to absorb any of what was going on while we ran it.  i did experience a moment of dread when i greedily clicked to pick up the enticing treasure bag i spotted and realized it was some sort of quest item signet ring.  Was i stuck with it?  Could it be traded to someone who knew what to do with it?  Thankfully, yes.  Whew!  Off the hook.

Finally, the big fight!

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Please ignore the party chat window – that was a technical error for Wolfie i swear!

Honestly, i don’t want to say i was underwhelmed or anything, but this was so much easier than i anticipated.  Over the years, i’ve read guides and strategies, tactics, what to expect, and so on and so forth.  But when it came right down to it, the great wyrm went down after a few minutes of the tanks whacking at her while the rest of us blasted the living heck out of her.  However, we did have to hide behind a rock for a few seconds every so often when someone would yell “Inferno!”

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Remind me again why there’s no dragons in the Monster Manual.  Seems like a glaring omission, no?

And that was that.  Two dragons in two days – i was pretty darn proud of myself.  The green one went down through a combination of guile, cunning, and frantically Wind Dancing around the cavern.  This red one went down through sheer overwhelming force.  And it was awesome.  i know it’s just a game, and this particular raid isn’t anything new, but man it felt freakin’ fantastic to run this one!

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Pwned.  Got a Flawless Red Dragon Scale too.  If only you could craft iridescent armor…

Afterwards, me and Wrongside hung around the Plane of Night to get some screenshots.  i didn’t realize there was a perfect vantage point underneath the battlefield, but thankfully Wrongside did and got a great one.

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You’ve come a long way, Wrongside Redd of Sarlona.

Since last week, Schir has acquired quite a taste for dragon slaying.  We ran another Epic VON just last night as a matter of fact, and this time i took advantage of the sweet spot as well.

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Master of Reality…getting there anyway.

We also got a guided tour of the Epic Gianthold courtesy of Reikenn, one of our guildmates.  He surprised us by plunging us into another pitched battle against a red dragon.

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I am Schir, and I am indeed Eberron’s mightiest Sorcerer!

What have i learned from all this dragon hunting?  Probably the most profound lesson is that it is good to find a group of cool people to game with.  My enjoyment of DDO took a quantum leap forward since getting recruited into the Sacred Flame Guardians, and running with these guys is such a blast.  Apologies to their alts (i’m still trying to figure out who’s who) but people like Wolfie, Reikenn, Aunslaut, Abbigaal, Celeste, Scentinel, Kantril, Carvur, Tuducken, Wyrmbud, Vladamirre, and many others have really amped up the fun factor for me.

Thanks for visiting!

*     *     *     *     *

Coming up in the near future, i’ve got a great opportunity to interview our guild leader Wolfie right here on The Long Shot.  If you’ve been playing any length of time and PUGging any of that time, there’s a good chance you’ve run with him already.  He has been involved with gaming for quite a while.  He’s a great guy, terrific guild leader, and i don’t think you’ll be surprised to learn he’s pretty damn cool out of game too.  So i hope you come back around to learn more about him in the next week or so.

i’m still learning the ropes of this sort of gaming coverage, so my apologies for the awkward structure and whatnot.  i definitely want to give a huge shout out and big ups to EvenNote and the entire OurDDO project, and Gamer Geoff for helping keep a great community alive, and for including me in it.  Thanks so much!

The Best of the Worst, part 1

Top Ten Villains: in ranked order from 10th to 1st, my favorite comic book villains.  These are the characters whose motivations i most understand, enjoy tales about, or consider just plain cool – in a diabolical way.  The list is not limited by publisher.  If i’m honest, my comic book habits gravitate mostly around the Big Two.  Jumped on the 90’s Image bandwagon (only blurry memories remain, but i did like Union for the Texiera art), and i’ve dipped a toe in other waters from time to time.  But for the most part i’m a mainstream comics fan at heart.

While organizing things at The Long Shot, i noticed a glaring omission from past topics.  The good guys, whose adventures regularly revolve around saving the day/city/world/universe got their time to shine.  But what about the dastardly deviants whose exploits give them the opportunity to show their stuff?

Compiling this list was much more difficult than its do-gooder counterpart, let me tell you.  While there are a lot of bad guys who hit all the marks like great costumes, terrific powers, and believable motivations, it’s actually pretty tough to pin down ten of them and say they’re my favorites.  But i gave it a [long] shot anyway.

#10 – Ozymandias

While i’m far from an expert on Watchmeni would be remiss as a comic book fan if i’d never read Alan Moore’s seminal series.  i will admit that i glossed over most of the “story-within-a-story” Tales of the Black Freighter sprinkled throughout the series.  Maybe it’s worth a return read though, as i’ve since learned that its plot is meant to correlate with the character arc of Adrian Veidt – also known by the costumed crime-fighter name Ozymandias – the very character i’m talking about right now.

Before Watchmen: Ozymandias artwork by Jae Lee.  Can’t go wrong there.

So how does a character that, at least previous to 2012’s Before Watchmen series by DC Comics, had only appeared in the 1986 series make it only a Top Ten list?  That’s the easy part.

“I did it thirty-five minutes ago.”

Turning the classic villain convention on its ear, Ozy follows the pattern almost to a tee during the story’s climactic battle against the heroes.  After their investigations lead them to the culprit pulling all the strings, the nagging loose threads are conveniently explained by the antagonist.  Unfortunately for our heroes, the new-found knowledge and accompanying time taken to explain it – that would have given anyone else just the chance they needed to eke out a victory – falls flat right here.

You’ve got to love a villain like that.

Self-aggrandizing without being pompous.  Arrogant but soft-spoken.  A figure who recognizes his superiority over others, but doesn’t lord it over them.  It’s just a matter of fact.  And with that intelligence comes the smarts to know you never let your enemies in on the secret if there’s a chance they could use that info to foil your best laid plans.  The engineers of the Death Star would have done well to take a page from Veidt’s playbook and sealed off that ventilation tube once they realized they had an info leak, and that their entire operation was in jeopardy because of one little architectural flaw.  “We sealed that shaft 12 parsecs ago.”

#9 – Black Adam

The dark counterpart of the Big Red Cheese, Teth-Adam is the fictional son of Ramses II, born in the equally fictitious neighboring country of Kahndaq.  If this and my previous pick are any indication, then Egyptian mythology and mythos is  a wealthy source to plumb for comics material (Ozymandias is steeped in Ramses II references).  Like his heroic foil Captain Marvel – now officially dubbed Shazam – whenever he utters a magic word, Black Adam channels the powers of several Egyptian gods.  Stamina, speed, strength, wisdom, power, and courage are ramped up to godlike levels.  Originally, Adam was meant to be the champion of the goodly gods of Egyptian lore.  However, the machinations of the demon Blaze cause his powers to come from the dark gods of the pantheon.

Striking an iconic super-villain pose – the throne slouch. It’s no Buscema, but still…

How did Black Adam make the list?  If i’m honest, most of my picks are based more on impulse than any deep-rooted familiarity with their deeds.   Most of my hard experience with Black Adam comes from his appearances in Villains United as one of the founders of the Secret Society of Supervillains, and from The Dark Age, his own miniseries wherein he strives to revive his murdered wife Isis and regain his powers – lost as the result of events in World War III.

Prior to those tales, i really didn’t know a whole lot about Black Adam so i couldn’t regale you with favorite stories from the past.  One of the things i enjoy most about the character is his costume.  It’s simple and striking and,while buccaneer boots and a lightning bolt emblem on his chest don’t exactly speak to his Egyptian roots, his ensemble does give you the impression that he is powerful.  And, while i am a fan of capes and cloaks in general, his lack of over-the-shoulder wear is the smart choice.  On the other hand, he would look kind of cool with a short mantle like Shazam, no?  Very lordly.

Fashion choices aside, Black Adam appeals to me because, at least as far as i can tell, he doesn’t have the sort of base motivations of your standard comic book villain.  He doesn’t scheme for money, glory, fame, or even power really.  He’s got all of those things in spades.  What is material wealth to an ancient, immortal, god-powered magical superbeing?  Even if he needed some ducats, the coffers of Kahndaq (the Middle Eastern nation he rules) are likely more than sufficient.  Glory and fame?  A millenia-long warrior legacy has provided accolades aplenty.  And power?  The guy can go toe-to-toe with Superman, and is single-handedly his homeland’s military force.

So what’s a guy like Black Adam want?  In that, i’d say he’s kinda like the Hulk.  For the most part, he just wants to be left alone.  But more than that, he’s got the heart of a warrior poet, and when you strip away all the braggadocio, haughtiness, savagery, cunning, and guile, he wants the same thing most of us really only want.  Yep, ol’ Teth-Amon is a big softie when it comes right down to it.  i’ll let LL Cool J break it down for you..

i guess you can call him the Big Black Cheese (but that sounds both yucky and maybe even a little offensive?)

#8 – Juggernaut

Want to know why i enjoy Cain Marko so much?  Because everytime i think of this character, this flashes in my mind:

jug back 1

Jug back

Believe it or not, Juggy was headed to the bank for a legitimate business transaction!  But look at that smirk – he knows people are scared silly…and he kinda likes it.

The more i research this stand-out issue from my childhood, then more i realize how impactful it was to me as a comic fan – or an X-Men fan at least.  Most of my favorite mutants and two of my favorite members of their rogues gallery are featured in Uncanny X-Men #194.  Skimming through the era, i certainly see how the Claremont years formed the basis of my X-Men knowledge and nostalgia.  In this ish alone we’ve got Juggernaut or course, and also Nimrod – a highly advanced Sentinel from a possible future programmed to wipe out mutants (why was he after Juggy then?  Hmm…).

On the side of the angels: Wolverine, Shadowcat, Colossus, Rachel Summers, Nightcrawler, and one special lady who combines the best of all of them:

Rogue, with borrowed powers from several teammates.

Sometimes a good guy, sometimes a bad guy, Juggernaut always came off as sympathetic to me.  Raised by an abusive father, Marko’s life only got worse when he gained Charles Xavier as a step-brother, and his already crappy dad took to this new kid so much that Cain went largely ignored.  i imagine in some twisted way, even the negative attention was better than none.  Just to make it worse, the not-yet Professor X and his emerging telepathic powers allowed him to learn about Cain’s jealousy, which drove a permanent wedge between the two.

Fast forward a few years, after Marko stumbles on the Crimson Gem of Cyttorak with the inscription “Whosoever touches this gem shall possess the power of the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak! Henceforth, you who read these words, shall become forevermore a human juggernaut!”  Now we’ve got an abused child with resentment issues towards a telepathic step-brother who violated his private thoughts.  What do you think happens next?

Stuff’s gonna get smashed up, that’s what.

One of the things i like most about Juggernaut is his simplicity.  That is not to say he is simple-minded, however.  Far from it.  But i’ve always enjoyed the fact that his plans and goals aren’t steeped in layers of innuendo and mystery.  Beat up a hated sibling.  Help a friend.  Get money.  Become a better person.  These are not difficult motivations to understand.  And he has a pretty simple power with which to accomplish these easy to fathom goals – straight-up super strength and invulnerability.  A lot of it.  Want some proof?  Here’s a handy compilation of his feats.  Show some respect.  If you don’t have the time or inclination to peruse that, here’s a brief summary to give you a rough idea: Juggernaut has brawled with, held his own against, and nigh-bested some of Marvel’s heaviest hitters like Thor and the Hulk.

Which isn’t to say he wasn’t left the worse for wear, but still…

What is the “something” that can stop him?  i sense a trip to the comic book store is in order.

My favorite Juggernaut moment, which not surprisingly features the same X-Men lineup as the battle with Nimrod – plus throws Spidey in the mix – is from Marvel Team-Up #150.  This time, Juggy decides the perfect b-day gift for his BFF Black Tom Cassidy is the awesome power of Cyttorak.  So he retrieves the magic ruby from a hidden temple and brings it to his bud in NYC.  Black Tom doesn’t quite see the gift as all too great, and the two friends get into a brouhaha which draws the attention of the X-Men as well as Spider-Man (who hopes to snag some good pics – he’s down on his luck and rent is due, ‘natch).  At the end, Juggernaut proves he’s got what it takes to make it in the MLB when he pitches the ruby into orbit so no one else can have it.  Okay so maybe he is a little bit simple-minded.  You know even “normal” people can reach space, right Cain?

After fighting with Juggernaut for a while, mutant strongman Colossus finally managed to pry the dome-shaped helmet from Juggy’s head, the helmet that protects him from mental assault.  But crafty Cain Marko has a trick up his sleeve so to speak.  Check it out:

Jug helmet

second helmet underneath his helmet!  Not so simple-minded now, is he?

#7 – Deathstroke the Terminator

If you’re a comics fan yourself, you’re probably thinking i’m a Teen Titans fan right now, i bet.  Ol’ Slade Wilson here is one of their most well-known and deadliest enemies, and more than one of his children have been on the team’s roster.  But, no.  Don’t get me wrong – i like more than a few incarnations of what was originally a team of iconic hero sidekicks.  And the cartoon was pretty good too.  But i grew up mostly with Marvel comics (except for Bats and Supes) and i missed the whole Marv Wolfman/George Perez days.

It wasn’t until the late 90’s that i got into DC Comics with any sort of vigor.  For that, i have Grant Morrison’s JLA to thank.  Specifically, i jumped onboard with Issue #14.  Why, i couldn’t tell you for certain.  Not because i was a huge GL, Flash, or Aquaman fan (i have since become a fan of the latter two – GL never really charged my ring).  Probably had something to do with Howard Porter‘s art, which really caught my attention.  It still looks pretty damn cool today, i think.  Back in those days, i really enjoyed embarking on a back issue quest as well.

Darkseid as the villain piqued my interest, too.  Always thought he was terrific.  And it’s no secret i’m a Fourth World fan.

What does any of that have to do with Deathstroke?  Not much, admittedly.  Just wandered off on a tangent about my history with the Distinguished Competition.  If i’m honest, i was hoping to remember when i first became interested in Deathstroke too.  In the mid-80’s, when i started reading RPG rules books as literature, i had the boxed set DC Heroes game and if i recall correct he was featured prominently there and looked pretty cool.

Great costume!  Lots of tweaks and changes over the years but it’s always blue and orange with the single-eye cowl.

You know what?  i really cannot figure out how, when, or why i started digging Deathstroke.  My best guess is actually out of left field – through the now-defunct Vs System TCG.  From the original DC release, he was represented in cardboard crack form by a pretty useless high-cost character card.  Thankfully for him, my deck-building typically revolved around whether or not i liked the artwork on the card, and i really liked this one.  At the time, my friend and i were convinced we could win a million dollars flopping cards, and i was obsessed with deck-building.  Everyday, i put together a new set of cards.  And everyday, my friend would kick my ass with what i later came to understand was a top tier deck (neither of us knew that; we didn’t even know what ‘top tier deck’ meant).  Hey, wait a minute…maybe he did know, had researched it more than he let on (which was not at all) and secretly laughed with glee and my frustrated attempts to overcome him?

From that point on, to level with you, i really haven’t read a whole lot of comics featuring the world’s deadliest assassin.  But there were several future iterations of the character in card game form and i eventually built an entire deck around him.  One version featured a lot of burn, which my girlfriend who was cool enough to actually get into Vs. found to be “bullshit.”  Nevermind that she used Doom exclusively.  Yeah…no bullshit there!

But i have read a lot about the character and his history and stuff, which is quite interesting.  Most recently, i had a geekgasm when i started getting into Arrow at my brother’s suggestion and saw a ragged Deathstroke mask in the very first episode.  It has turned out to be a pretty cool show, and i’m looking forward to seeing how CW version of Slade Wilson turns out.  Not sure about their use of Wintergreen though.

#6 Kang the Conquerer

The chronal cahones on this guy, calling himself “The Conqueror”

Now this one, i can tell you exactly when i first heard of and saw him.  He was in a line-up of bad guys and was one of at least four that my young self saw and thought “who the hell are those guys?”  My favorite part: how they all instinctively line up, except for Dr. Doom who surveys the group and acknowledges their collective power…then of course points how much more dangerous he is than any of them (including Galactus, which he later proves true).

Kang, along with Cannonball, Piledriver, and Bulldozer – the ‘who the hell are those guys’ guys.

Now, knowing what i know of Kang today – that he is a master of time travel who has conquered more than a few realities and caused so many divergent timelines that there is a Council of Cross-Time Kangs just to keep his own conquests in order – why he was relegated to a dude with a blaster gun during Secret Wars is Beyonder me.  Nevertheless, as both a completionist and amateur thief specializing in RPG rulebooks and action figures, my childhood collection most certainly included Kang.

My most involved experience with Kang comes through the Avengers Forever limited series from the late 90’s.  Following my usual M.O., i dove into this series starting with Issue #3.  i’ll give you one guess why.

More often than not, you can judge a comic book by it’s cover and this one had two things going for it: awesome Carlos Pacheco art, and Kang.

After a battle that spans across numerous time periods and plucks Avengers from various points in time, Kang (this time fighting with the good guys against a future version of himself) causes a temporal rift through sheer force of will.  He did not want to evolve into the man called Immortus, and even though according to the powerful Time-Keepers it was his destiny, he was like “screw that noise!”  For a guy who has left not only the afore-mentioned time-clones of himself all over the place/time, as well as variations like Rama-Tut, Scarlet Centurion, and Iron Lad, i sort of wondered why he even cared.  My guess is that, to a 30th century man who carries the legacy of both Reed Richards and Victor von Doom, doing what other people tell you probably chafes worse than superhero tights after an extended crime-fighting endeavor.

Kang also holds the distinction of being the only super-villain to have overtaken Earth completely by force during the Kang Dynasty event.  No mind-control or anything like that – just brilliant tactics.  And the best technology from across all of time and space.  Don’t worry though – he only conquered the planet to save it.

Like any good villain worth his salt, Kang has mastered the Buscema Slouch.

*     *     *     *     *

Whoa, what’s this?!  Long Shot giving you the short shrift?

With such a dastardly dossier already complied, how villainous must the rest of these rogues be?

Bad enough to force me to take a break, that’s how.  “If you stare into the abyss,” and all that.

Plus i’ve got to keep my DDO peeps up-to-date on some goings on there as well.

This, my friends, is called a cliffhanger.

Thanks for visiting!

Well…that was a shock.

Breaking tradition here at the Long Shot for a quick recount of last night’s adventure.  After running a couple of lowbie quests with an alt i created to a) group with a friend until our alts reach his main toon’s level – and then get him in range of me and Wrongside’s mains and b) sorta “re-train” said friend on some basic foundations so he can maximize the potential of his main, it was time for Schir and Wrongside to do some serious questing.

We’d planned to continue muscling through the exciting flagging for Caught in the Web so we could have chance to get our greedy hands on the loot we’ve been eyeing, but as i was making my way through the quaint village of Eveningstar, and raking in the plat via some Greater Heroism-induced super haggling at the brokers on the town square, i noticed the heretofore neglected cliche of many an RPG – the town water well.

Every RPG’er knows – you’ve gotta check those wells!

Always up for something new, we both agreed it was worth investigating.  What’s the worst that could happen?  According to the quest-giving dwarf keeping vigil over the town’s water supply, an unknown source has been poisoning the H2O and, of course, they need our help to put the kibosh on what he believes to be a nefarious plot.  Pretty standard stuff.

Brimming with the confidence of two first-time epic toons for whom the XP has been flowing like mead, we’re like “Epic Hard?  Yeah, no problem.”  The pair of Onyx Panthers were summoned just for fluff (i.e. meatshields).  Cautiously creeping down the cavern, we spot a pack of Mudmen and make short work of them.  Then we start running into Yuan-ti.  i’m not going to lie – those slithering serpents gave us a spot of trouble at first.  Unfortunately for me, they all seem to have Evasion, which helps them immensely to dodge all the lightning being slung around.  Unfortunately for them, both Wrongside and Schir are packing Energy Drain and insta-kills, and on top of that it seems they have trouble dodging a Meteor Swarm.

After adjusting tactics a bit, we continue to roll along until we reach an obvious Point of No Return.  There is a shrine there, and DM narration suggests that who- or whatever is feeding poison into the reservoir is close at hand.  Ever the impulsive squishy guy, i float down the hole.  i land and start looking around and do the digital equivalent of a double take.

“Whoa!  So that’s what’s poisoning the well?!  Makes sense.”

“What is it?”  i hear over the voice chat.

“You’ll see…”

ScreenShot00058

Okay, so my screenshot taking skills need some work.

Naturally, we could feel the dragonfear from where we were cringing in the little alcove, unsure if we were up to the challenge.  After a few moments making sure we applied every possible buff, i drop a haste on us and we charge the reptilian beast.  Thank goodness for Wind Dance and Leap of Faith, is all i gotta say.  The pair of kitties went down in about 2 seconds flat, leaving Wrongside stuck making sure i didn’t get squashed while i flew around like a madman throwing everything i had at this monster.  And you know what?  He went from this…

Big, bad, scaly, and mean

…to this…

ScreenShot00059

They really ought to make dragon carcasses last a little longer before fading away.

And at the end of the day i’m one Flawless Green Dragon Scale, and a night of fantastic fun, richer.  Now, it’s getting pretty late which seems to be a theme around here lately.  When i started tapping away earlier tonight, i really did intend to flesh this out a bit more and tout the terrific duoing skills Wrongside and i have been developing.  Instead, i received a frantic text message call to arms that could not be ignored.  What could be so important that i would leave you high and dry without a standard many-thousands-of-words-long epic extravaganza?  i’ll give you a little hint: it’s something i’ve been waiting 7 years to do.  This seems to be a week for fulfilling some long-term geeky goals.

Here’s a visual teaser of one that i’ll share with you later this week…

ScreenShot00061

No, it’s not acquisition of another bank slot…although i did get that too.

Thanks for visiting!

Under where?

The Underdark: a vast network of underground caverns and tunnels underneath the surface of Abeir-Toril.  It is home to a host of evil beings driven deep into the caverns at the end of the age of  demons.

A subterranean network of interconnected caverns and tunnels, stretching beneath entire continents and forming a literal underworld.

Pretty unbelievably, i’ve been enjoying the heck of Schir’s life as a Sorcerer.  As you may have learned previously, i considered the Artificer as the end-all-be-all of class choices for me in DDO.  In fact, the only reason i started a TR life in a different class was for the Past Life bonus.  Now that i’ve punched my ticket on the TR train though, i’ve got a sneaking suspicion it will be some time before the inevitable return to the magical mechanic of Eberron.  That being said, once i accumulate all the targeted PL’s, it will be a lot of fun to slap that rune arm back on.  For the nonce, tossing around magic willy nilly is a whole lotta fun.  For about a week i was a ‘forcerer’ – force-specced sorcerer because i just couldn’t bear to give up Lucid Dreams and i love all the force spells.  Then i reincarnated into an pure sorcerer air savant.  See you in about a dozen more lives, Lucid Dreams.

ScreenShot00015

Schir Gold on the left, wearing Lucid Dreams.  That’s Elminster on the right.

Anyway…the Underdark.  Big shout out to my guild officers Scentinel and Wolfieviii (Juggernauts both) who started helping me and Wrongside get flagged for Caught in the Web – the largest flagging mechanic in the game with a whopping 15 quests required to make you raid-eligible.  After salivating over the reward list the other day though, i told Wrongside “dude, we have got to start raiding more – beginning with this one.”  My goodness there are a lot of incredible items there.  Specifically, i’m looking at you, Twilight, Element of Magic and Sireth, Spear of the Sky.

Twilight,_Element_of_Magic_shown

Impulse +120?  Yes, please.

Sireth,_Spear_of_the_Sky_shown

Hey Brett – remember that Air Genasi “Death from Above” PnP character?  Yeah…going to try and build that toon.

CitW loot

With honorable mentions to Needle, Quill Slinger – for that far-off arti redux, and Celestia, Brightest Star of Day – for Wrongside, currently loving his light-slingin’ FvS life.  You can never have too many named repeating crossbows, as i always say.  And a sword whose blade is made of pure light and breaks all DR?  Sign me up.  Well, sign Wrongside up at any rate.  It will be nice to see something other than than piddly dagger is his livewood mitts.

Where was i?  Oh yeah – the Underdark, and the incredibly long road to flag for CitW.  Saturday night.  There’s got to be numerous PUGs running Eveningstar quests, right?  Wrong.  For the longest time, i didn’t want to believe the forumites’ frequent comments on the PUG scene.  But it does seem to bear some truth.  There were only about 2-3 at-level LFMs for the entire night.  Weird.  Up until just a few weeks ago i was largely unaware of the grouping situation, mostly due to the self-conscious belief that i would wind up as the butt of a forum post.  Something like “this gimp 18/2 sorc/arti joins and…”

Thankfully i’ve gotten over that hurdle by jumping in groups much more often and learning that – guess what? – i’m actually a pretty good player after seven years.  Imagine that.  Nevertheless, the problem at hand – no one running Eveningstar quests.  Check the guild tab – everyone doing EE Gianthold.  Quick survey on channel chat – no interest.

“i’m thinking about running EN Battle for Eveningstar solo,” i ask my fellow Sacred Flame Guardians.  “Is this an extremely bad idea for someone who’s never done it before?”

Bracing for the worst, or at least some snickers, instead i get several votes of confidence and well-wishes.  They wouldn’t steer me wrong, would they?  Guys…?

Oh well, what’s the worst that could happen?  TPK (me and Onyx Panther) and some wear-and-tear on my new Battle Arcanist set?  Speaking of which, there’s another piece of gear to add to the wish list – Spidersilk Robes.  Bonus: they drop in one of the flagging quests, Trial by Fury.  Hope hope!

i should note here that much of my trepidation in trying my hand at this quest does not stem from attempting it solo – i’ve done just about everything else on my own at some point.  No, rather it’s because of who the primary enemies are (drow) and my current class (sorcerer).  That damn spell resistance is a PitA.  And the priestesses *sheesh* i wonder if AI hates player healers as much as we dislike enemy clerics?

Guess what?  It wasn’t so bad afterall.  Granted i had no idea what i was doing, so i followed my tried-and-true “hug the left wall” tactic, but the going wasn’t nearly as bad as i’d anticipated.  Secure the Granary?  Check.  Secure Tummarlin’s Farmstead?  Check.  Secure the Temple Neighborhood?  Che– hey, where the heck is the Temple Neighborhood?  Yoo hoo!  Maybe it’s around this corner?  Nope, that’s where the Necromancer and crapton of minions is.  And just when things start to look grim:

“Your friend Wrongside has logged on.”

Yadda yadda yadda there’s one less drow field commander, Eveningstar is saved, we’re hailed as heroes…and then conscripted to continue to fight against the subterranean threat by taking the battle to their front door.  And by “to their front door” i mean beyond their front door, into their heavily fortified underground city and into the fortress of their weapons master.  But hey – you don’t get to Epic levels without taking on some challenges right?

Through the portal we go, into the Underdark.

This was not our first foray into the lightless depths though.  That occurred last week, when we stumbled upon an entrance in the King’s Forest, promptly began running (i.e. falling deeper and deeper) for our lives, and finally finding a nice quiet tunnel…that was promptly disrupted by not one but TWO purple worms that proceeded to annihilate us in short order.  Yeah, let’s go back down there!

For an idea of scale, we’re about as big as one of this thing’s teeth.

The difference now?  This wasn’t our first trip to the rodeo.  We were fully prepared for danger, at least what we could imagine.  As a bonus, we entered from a different area and there was a very useful dwarf near the entrance selling goggles that help you see in the darkness.  Makes a big difference when the environment isn’t practically pitch black all around you.

Probably the first thing that really hit us – this area is BIG.  i mean, there’s some wilderness areas on the large side, but nothing like this.  Not only is is far and wide, it’s deep too.  So even though we eventually caved and busted out the wiki map, it was still pretty tough to navigate because not only do you need to find certain things on the top-down 2D map, once you arrive and start looking around you might realize “oh, it’s about a half-mile above us.”  Such was the case searching for our objet de desir the Portal Gate to Sschindylryn and access to House Dun’Robar so we could take on the ‘House of Rusted Blades’ quest.

Undisputed masters of the Underdark – the drow.

When i tell you just getting to that gate was an adventure…whew!  We were fumbling around in the Underdark for the better part of two hours trying to find it.  And we weren’t dawdling much either.  i mean, yeah – we were taking in the sights and stuff, but at the same time we kept our minds on the goal.  And there are some sights!  i’ve definitely gotta hand it to Turbine on this one – what a great wilderness area.  Especially in light of the fact it’s essentially a cave.  Enormous cascading waterfalls illuminating by phosphor glow, lakes of eerily glowing green acid, luminescent fungi, serene underground lakes…it’s pretty frickin gorgeous if i’m honest.  And amidst all the natural beauty, the spelunking adventure is beset by all manner of creatures we’d never encountered before.  Classic D&D beasts like the afore-mentioned Purple Worm (wish we woulda ran into another one of those!), Yuan-ti, Salamanders, and one of my favorites – the Deepstone Elemental.  Usually, you come upon similar creatures as inert piles of stone that unsurprisingly spring to life when you draw near.  Not down there, buddy!  Nope, you’re just strolling along the rocky corridor and with no more than a momentary rumbling as warning, these things grow right out of the walls around you!  But beyond all those nasties, our favorite encounter was the slavers. In this lightless world, several dominant races typically raid the surface world and take slaves to their fathomless realms.  Chief among slavemasters are the drow and the illithid, more commonly known as mind flayers.  Often, these frightful villains are encountered with a contingent of slaves whose actions are controlled either by magical collars around their neck (in the case of the former) or because their willpower is completely sapped (via the latter).  Fortunately, us hardy adventurers (if we’re fast enough) can take out the slavemasters and free their slaves…who are naturally righteously pissed and started laying the smack down on nearby monsters.

Why are they called ‘mind flayers’?  Because not only do they subvert your will with vast psionic power, they latch onto your head with those tentacles and literally suck your brain out and eat it!

Finally, we make it to the portal that leads to Sschindylryn.  Woot woot.  This is after Wrongside’s Leap of Faith-fueled scouting trip to the mysteriously shadowed part of our map that we could not for the life of us find the way into.  It’s worth noting that if either of us had just a teensy bit more Spot, we might have noticed his choice of landing pad was crawling with zombies, evil spider goddess priestesses, and deadly spellward traps.  But thankfully he is a terrific healer and was able to get away, back down the slope, and reverse-engineer the path we needed to take.  As for his hireling and Onyx Panther?  Let’s just say they made a great diversion, and we picked up their soul stones on the way back.

Okay.  We made it.  There’s a shrine right next to the portal, so we can get back up to full strength before tackling what is sure to be a difficult quest in an unknown environment against deadly enemies.  Hmm, that’s weird – no adventure UI pops up when i click the portal.

OMG it’s another wilderness area, with a whole new set of goals and places to explore?!

Thankfully, we had the intestinal fortitude to stick it out, find the quest entrance, and pull off yet another successful completion that put us one step closer to that deliciously loot-laden raid.  Which is more than i can say for my own stamina right now.  Unlike our digital alter-egos who can run, jump, fight, and quest without ever stopping to sleep (unless it’s part of the quest), i gots to get some rest.  Otherwise, i wouldn’t have the presence of mind for whatever awaits us tomorrow night in DDO.

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OurDDO

Destiny: a predetermined course of events often held to be an irresistible power or agency.

If this keeps up, i’m going to start having to fork over 10% to my buddy Brett.  This time around for pointing me towards a new opportunity to tap away for your reading pleasure:

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The message accompanying this pic i received via text: “Hmm… If only I knew a budding journalist major that also did blogs in his spare time…”

The good news?  If this does segue into an agent-style relationship, then it’s win-win for me; 10% of nothing is zero.  And it gives me another reason to sit on my bum and play my favorite instrument – the Qwerty.  Maybe i can write off a luxurious new desk chair as a work expense…

So anyway, i followed the links provided and not only did i discover a great new blog to follow in Even Now, i had one of those full-circle moments when the other link led to DDO Gamer, authored by Geoff Hanna.  His name was instantly familiar to me because of his many entertaining and informative posts about his halfling characters, which i recall scoring for info when i first built my beloved Schir Gold toon a few years ago.

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Schir Gold, surrounded by her namesake.  Clever, no?

Okay, so until i figure out how to create a DDO-centric area of The Long Shot, the main page here will just have to suffice.  Staying on topic has not been my strong suit, as anyone who has been here before is no doubt aware.  Although, that being said, i did hear about the nicest compliment i could think of today, when someone said to me “i didn’t understand most of what you write about, but i just kept reading anyway because it was fun and funny.”  i can certainly live with that!

Going forward, i’ll try to keep my DDO musings focused on smaller topics, and right now i’d like to rave about one of the features included with the Menace of the Underdark xpack from June 2012: Epic Destiny!

Classic D&D arch-villain Lolth – creepy spider goddess

Epic destinies are what happens when you leave the “Heroic” levels 1-20 behind, and reach a new tier of adventuring called, not surprisingly, Epic.  It is at this point that your characters are no longer just another Wizard, Bard, Paladin, or what-have-you.  i mean, they are, but now we’re delving into superhero-esque territory.  Side note: that jives nicely with another great passion of mine you’ve no doubt noticed.

Whereas in the Heroic tier, you’re constrained by more-or-less mundane mechanics as spell points (blue bar), class-granted abilities, and so forth, Epic Destinies start bestowing strange new powers on your character.  And as a player who rarely makes choices based strictly on optimized power level, i am not embarrassed to tell you that all it took was “when you tumble, you will phase out from reality briefly,” to lock in my attention on the Magister destiny for Schir.  i can faintly hear the groans of power gamers now: you put max ranks in Tumble?  You didn’t choose Draconic Incarnation?  You’re not working towards Shiradi Champion?

Yes – i don’t care what you say, forward flips are cool.  Phasing out from reality while doing so?  Uber-cool.  No – artificers are interested in the science of magic, not the mystical mumbo-jumbo.  And no – tea with the fey queen gets in the way of research.

All that aside though, Wrongside and i were positively geeking out last night while exploring the destiny tree more in-depth.  Yeah yeah yeah, i know – it’s been around almost a year already.  Give us a break – we’re not the most diligent grinders, and as such a ride on the TR train takes a while!  Personally, i started down the Magister path right away last summer, and only recently reached the point where i had access again.  And Wrongside just took his first dip in the ED pool a few days ago (Exalted Angel).

For the last week or so, both of us have been ooh-ing and ahh-ing over all the neat new things we could do.  And that was before either of us even noticed we had earned a Fate Point.  So now, if we put in some work on other destinies, we can mix and match up to 3 powers from outside our active destiny.  This is why i liken it to superheroics, because at this point you’re basically giving your character their own unique set of super powers.  And since we both just realized we can switch our active destiny at will because we’d reached a certain level in our first one…cue the geek out moment.

“Dude, look at this one!”  “OMG check out that Shadowdancer Tier 3 ability!”  “If i twist this one and that one in…”

You get the idea.  As if we needed another DDO topic to wax intellectual about all day at work.  i wonder if any curious eavesdropping gamers in the lunchroom have discovered DDO yet?  You’re welcome, Turbine.

With all this talk of destiny, i feel compelled by an irresistible force to do some gaming.

Thanks for visiting, and see you in Eberron!