Temple of Elemental Evil in DDO

Temple of Elemental Evil in DDO

On Wednesday March 25, Severlin, Steelstar, Knockback, and Cordovan from the DDO team posted a video on YouTube to preview the upcoming Temple of Elemental Evil quest from Update 25, which should be coming out sometime in April.

The first thing i noticed while watching the video is that it looks phenomenal. Each new piece of content that gets released has more impressive graphics than the last. Better lighting effects and background details help keep this game fresh after nine years. i can tell you from personal experience, the look of DDO has developed a ton since those early days. While by comparison to new games that launch all the time, the graphics might not be up to their caliber, i still think it’s a great looking game with excellent gameplay.

One of the things they show early in the video, which i was a tad disappointed to see, was another new crafting system. This one involves using mushroom mats gathered in ToEE to customize new, unique weapons, armor and gear. Already in DDO, there are at least a dozen other crafting systems like green steel, alchemical, thunderforged, dragontouched, altar of insanity, Cannith crafting and so on. Years ago, i purchased a gargantuan ingredients bag and i fear even that may reach its limit.

In a forum thread, Steelstar offered some insight into the reasoning behind new crafting systems vs. expanding existing ones, and while he does make good sense, i can’t help but feel like there are better solutions to those issues. i’ve played a lot of MMOs, and they seem to be able to include crafting without having a dizzying array of different ways to do it. In DDO, since there are so many of these different systems, several of them have grown to be essentially useless over time, and yet still the mats drop and clutter your inventory. Take the altar of insanity stuff, for example. At the time it was introduced, there were some pretty nifty effects you could add to the various items from those quests. But anymore they’re just junk. Not only is there better lootgen stuff, but even if there weren’t you out-level their usefulness so quickly. What you end up with is a bag full of adhesive slimes and brain samples.

From the preview, ToEE looks to be a huge quest. In fact, it’s actually broken up into two quests, available in heroic levels at seven and epic at 30. Based on what i saw in the video, they look gigantic. i think this could be somewhat of a drawback, though. If they are a huge as they seem to be, it could take a significant amount of time to complete just one part of the quest, which i think could deter people from running it due to not having that much time to invest at once. On the other hand, it could also lead to parties splitting up, which in the tabletop version of D&D typically spells disaster. But DDO is a different animal altogether, and folks are used to soloing things a lot. i could envision a lot of “okay you take the air temple, i’ll hit the water temple…”

What i thought while watching the video was that it would be neat if they broke up the quest into several shorter quests. For example, the temple grounds, each of the four elemental temples, and then finally the main one with the BBEG fight at the end. That might have given more opportunity to create content, and it would be neat if there were named items in each quest flavored for their location.

One of the developers commenting on the preview video talked a bit about the lore of ToEE, and how it’s a place that is often utilized by various factions of evil that take up residence there. This made me imagine another sort of design scenario that would be really cool – if the inhabitants and goals of the quest changed over time depending on how many times you’d ran it, or possibly randomized between a list of different possibilities upon entering.

Like Haunted Halls of Eveningstar, ToEE is based upon a classic D&D module, something i really hope they continue to do in DDO. There’s tons of awesome, classic adventures that i would love to see in DDO, especially the Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. A quest inside what turns out to be a crashed alien spaceship would fit nicely in the Eberron setting, i think. Unlike Haunted Halls, the map for ToEE looks like all the other content in DDO instead of appearing like a graph paper map. That is one of the coolest things about Haunted Halls, and i hope they change the map before U25 to be more like it.

Part of the story in ToEE involves “mysterious remnants,” which were introduced to the game when they tweaked the recent Champion Monster system to provide unique rewards for defeating them. In ToEE, a new faction called the Gatekeepers are collecting these fragments, as well as Falrinth, a major bad guy boss in the quest. i’m curious to see what the connection is between the remnants the players collect and ToEE, and i’m holding on to mine in case there’s a neat interaction with them inside the quest.

There’s also a new Monster Manual coming out with U25, which is awesome. i love the inclusion of Monster Manuals in DDO, and i hope they continue developing them. This new one has mindflayers added, along with mummies, orcs and a few others. In the video, i spotted a few new types of monsters for existing Monster Manual entries too, like gargoyles and earth elementals, so that will be fun to get closer to some of the benchmarks.

Speaking of monsters, though, ToEE doesn’t have any brand new monsters that i’m aware of; i think they flat out say there are no new monsters at all, which is a bummer.

A glaring omission are myconids, the fungal humanoids from D&D who feature prominently in ToEE. The devs in the video make mention of how they are not included, which is disappointing. Especially since they realize enough to address their absence, why not put some time into creating them? Even if they were just reskinned creatures of another sort with some different abilities, it would make a lot of players happy to discover some new monsters. The devs give a pretty weak answer to a viewer question about myconids and how they ought to be in there since the BBEG is Zuggtmoy, the Demon Queen of Fungi. They say she’s a demon queen, so that should give a clue as to the types of monsters that will accompany her. Nice try, devs, but us players want to fight mushroom people!

The end fight against Zuggtmoy looks to be rather exciting and somewhat raid-like. The chamber where the fight takes place is very large, and there are nice graphical effects of glowing motes floating through the air. But they’re deadly, too. The motes are actually spores of Zuggtmoy, which can cause continuous damage throughout the battle.

Overall, i’m definitely looking forward to U25 and Temple of Elemental Evil. Any new content is good, and this looks to be another terrific quest like Haunted Halls of Eveningstar. By the time it launches, i’m sure there will be other bells and whistles added, too. The location of the quest also lends itself to some intriguing possibilities as well, being neither in the Forgotten Realms or Eberron, if i understood the devs comment correctly. Could we be seeing yet another world to travel to, which i believe would be the World of Greyhawk?

Temple of Elemental Evil will be free to VIP players, and of course available for Turbine Points in the DDO store. Cordovan mentioned that the cost will be comparable to Haunted Halls, but no exact cost is available right now.

*     *     *     *     *

Thanks for visiting The Long Shot!  If you liked what you read please click Follow at the top of the page and share/Tweet/repost your favorite articles. i’m getting close to 500 followers, a milestone i hope to reach this year. Thank you so much to everyone who already follows this blog, it means a ton and i appreciate each and every one.

Follow @longshotist on Twitter for frequent shares of related articles and (hopefully) humorous nonsequiters.

Remember – if you would like to contribute to The Long Shot, i’d be happy to make that happen! One team of contributors will be going to Yuri’s Night Space Party at the Great Lakes Science Center, where they were asked to be judges for their official costume contest. So be sure to check back for coverage of that. If you are celebrating Yuri’s Night anywhere in the world (or off of it – looking at you International Space Station) please share your experiences and photos!

My Week in Geek column also appears alongside other great blogs at The News-Herald Blogs (click the logo at the top right of the page for the main site).

Check out the articles i’ve written for The News-Herald.

Thanks for reading!

Advertisements

Week in Geek 1.9.15

Week in Geek – a roundup of science, technology and pop culture news with commentary each Friday

CES 2015

The three-day long International Consumer Electronics Show wraps up today, Jan. 9, in Las Vegas. The annual show, which started in 1967, has seen product debuts from VCRs to smart TVs and this year, wearable technology was featured prominently, particularly in the area of smartwatches. Last week i previewed the nine teams of innovative CWRU entrepreneurs exhibiting at the show, and i hope to follow-up with them to find out how it went once they return.

In the meantime, highlights from CES show that yesterday’s science fiction is rapidly becoming everyday consumer technology, with marketplaces for everything from 3D printing to robotics and intelligent vehicles. Keep in mind this is consumer electronics – a trade show for things you can expect to see with increasing frequency in our everyday lives.

Everybody’s been dropping the wearables tag when it comes to the hot items at the show. In the smartwatch arena, to me it looks like a lot of the selections are visually run-of-the-mill analog varieties but with some techno-twists to them. Perhaps these hold more appeal for people not yet prepared to embrace the kind of future where we all wear spaceage jumpsuits, and for my money the ones that stood out most are the sleeker varieties, like this one:

MOTA smartwatch

Designed to function primarily as a cellphone, this Bluetooth 3.0 bracelet pairs with your mobile device and has its own speakers, microphone and OLED display. Incoming calls cause it to vibrate, and if the caller is in your contact list, their name will display on the screen. Both Siri and Google Now voice-activation are supported, and there are currently three models available. The G1 and G2 lite both retail for about $80 and the G2 Pro for $90. According to MOTA’s website, you can expect 180 minutes of talktime and 72 hours of standby.

LookSee is another Bluetooth bracelet that seeks to combine fashion and technology. It has an E ink display that reduces power consumption, and the always-on customizable display can be used for notifications like text, photos, clock faces, maps and more.

The most exciting wearables imo are ones like the i.amPULS which makes a distinct point that it is not a smartwatch – it is a computer on your wrist. Growing up in the 80s, my best friend and i used to pretend we were superspies who had gadgets like this. Now, you don’t have to be part of a secret organization (or Inspector Gadget’s niece Penny) to have an untethered computer device strapped to your wrist.

Between wearable wrist computers and tablets, you're ready to take on Dr. Claw and the forces of M.A.D.

Between wearable wrist computers and tablets, you’re ready to take on Dr. Claw and the forces of M.A.D.

Cluing in to this device’s name, it is the brainchild of musician will.i.am, so naturally the promo video on the product website features him and starts off showing how the music capabilities function. The i.amPULS does much more than just play music though. An independent device, it does not require a separate smartphone to sync with, and in fact is itself a functioning phone. Users can also send Tweets, check Facebook, send SMS and emails, manage photos and has built-in GPS.

Still a relatively new market, smartwatches show no signs of slowing down. A fully-functioning computer strapped to your wrist gives consumers a viable alternative to the already diverse options for mobile computing and one that i believe will be well-received. They offer a relatively hands-free experience and all the functions we typically use throughout the day through voice-activation. It’s possible to conceive they may actually replace the cell phones we’re so used to, and i can definitely envision a paradigm shift from a package of home computer-tablet-cell phone to convertible laptop/tablet combo and smartwatch only. It reduces the total number of devices while increasing mobility. Add to that the variety of peripherals with wireless syncing and the movement towards the Internet of Things, and i envision a definite sea change in how we look at our computing lifestyles.

Outside of offering another option to the slate of mobile devices alongside your laptop, tablet and cellphone, another wearable that caught my attention is TempTraq, an adhesive bandage for infants that acts as a thermometer. Equipped with a Bluetooth-connected sensor, temperature is tracked continuously and alerts are made via smartphone. Admittedly, my first reaction to this was a bit wary, because my mind immediately made the jump to proliferation of this kind of technology that could be used to track us all someday. But like all technology, there is the potential for abuse. Overall though, technological advances in medicine used to improve health care are a plus, and expanding technology like this for patient care is a move in a good direction.

In the realm of computing, there was no of shortage tablets, cell phones and laptops. Some of these went beyond what we’re familiar with already and presented innovative hybrid devices that look like they’d be right at home on the bridge of a starship.

HP Sprout workstation

HP Sprout workstation

The HP Sprout is an all-in-one TouchSmart PC equipped with a scanner and cameras – note the plural. Running up the back of the workstation is the Illuminator Column that bends over the top of the display and projects an image onto the touch-sensitive mat. Documents or objects placed on the mat can be scanned in both 2D and 3D, and can be used for onscreen animations or for printout on a 3D printer. It retails for about $1900.

Lenovo LaVie

Lenovo LaVie

The convertible Lenovo LaVie is one of the lightest 13-inch PCs shown at CES, with tough but lightweight magnesium-lithium alloy construction around two pounds. The hinge allows this laptop to function as a tablet, and the Intel Core i5 processor can handle most everyday jobs with high speeds. It retails for about $1300.

XYZprinting's da Vinci Junior 3D printer

XYZprinting’s da Vinci Junior 3D printer

Aimed at the consumer market, this 3D printer lists for about $350 and is designed for ease of use. The device’s SD card slot means users can print directly from an SD card without needing a computer interface, a feature that gives it more appeal as a shared device in places like schools and libraries. Every day, there are more uses and advances in 3D printing that means sooner or later these will be as common and ubiquitous in our homes as any other household appliance. It would not surprise me if, a few years down the road, we’re replacing protein cartridges in these things and 3D printing our dinners.

4K Inspire 1 drone from DJI

4K Inspire 1 drone from DJI

What would a consumer technology show be without drones? That’s right, for just $2900 you can have your very own flying drone with 24fps video capability through its 20mm wide-angle camera lens. For an extra $400 you can get the dual-remote version so one person can fly it while another operates the detachable camera. All paranoia aside, drones are an rapidly-emerging niche for hobbyists who in years past made due with RC planes and those annoying helicopter things that shopping mall demonstrators buzz past your head while you’re walking past. Independent filmmakers will also find these sorts of gadgets useful for getting the kinds of shots they could only have dreamed of without at least a moderate budget.

By the end of the show today, there were more than 3200 exhibitors showing their stuff at CES 2015. If you would like to find out more about the show, Flipboard has a handy CES 2015 aggregate filled with coverage from the show floor. Check back here in 2016 and maybe i’ll be a part of that coverage, too. Visiting CES would be an amazing and a fantastic opportunity to discover and cover great new technology making its way into our lives.

Cleveland – Innovation Hub and all around great place

Back in November, i mentioned how Cleveland is becoming known as a hub of innovation. Just the other day, that idea was again presented by Popular Mechanics in an article called Medicine, Manufacturers, and Furniture-makers turned Cleveland into an Innovation Hub.

Thanks in part to both the city’s resurgence in manufacturing, and the investment in medical technology and research, Cleveland is re-inventing itself and its image from a grey Midwestern steel town into a center where new methods, ideas and processes are being developed on the cutting-edge.

In addition to the great strides Cleveland has made to foster this growth, it’s also one of the top 50 places to visit, according to Travel + Leisure, alongside places like Fez, Morocco; Rotterdam, Netherlands; and Milan, Italy.

The repurposing of historic buildings and return of young professionals to downtown are cited as major reasons for the revival, as well as the selection of luxury hotels for out-of-town visitors.

The Cleveland Convention Center has also made an impact on the city’s success, as it prepares to host the 2015 Republican National Convention. In the meantime, the center has attracted other big-ticket shows like Wizard World – one of the biggest comic book and pop culture conventions in North America…and one that i’ll be covering both here at The Long Shot and, along with entertainment editor Mark Meszoros, for The News-Herald.

Cleveland is also known quite well for the food scene, boasting as the hometown of celebrity chef Michael Symon as well as a host of great restaurants in the downtown area and scattered throughout Northeast Ohio. There’s also established institutions like the famous West Side Market.

On top of all that, Cleveland has an amazing cultural scene, too. The Museum of Contemporary Art is a world-renowned place that underwent an amazing reconstruction in 2012, and the nearby Cleveland Institute of Art’s $75 million expansion is nearly complete. Downtown, Playhouse Square in the Theater District is the largest performing arts center in the U.S. outside of New York.

And, i’m not a sports guy by any stretch, but we got LeBron James back so that’s got to count for something right?

If you happened to watch the video on the Popular Mechanics website, you may have caught the segment where Matt Beyer, director of business development at LeanDog, talked about their role in complimenting established manufacturing companies in Cleveland as a strategic partner and helping them keep pace with the demands of the global economy.

LeanDog has been a great friend to me, too. By visiting their monthly meetups, i’ve not only been introduced to the fascinating world of code, but i’ve made several connections with other Cleveland innovators. This Sunday, Jan. 11, i’ll be on the Software Boat again for Coderetreat, a day-long practice event focused on the fundamentals of software development and design. So be sure to visit here next Friday and read about how that goes.

Producer’s Letter

This morning, i awoke to find that there was a new Producer’s Letter posted on the DDO forums. Executive Producer Robert Ciccolini – or Severlin as he’s known on the forums – gave players a rundown of some of the things we can expect this year for Dungeons & Dragons Online. It would have been cool if they had dropped some of this on me back in September when i interviewed members of the development team, but alas.

ddo_logo

The biggest news in the letter is an update on what we can expect from the adaptation of the Temple of Elemental Evil, a classic D&D adventure making its way to DDO much like the Haunted Halls of Eveningstar did in 2014. Severlin says the temple grounds will be quite large, with lots of danger and treasures to find inside the halls and chambers.

Monster Champions, which so far have caused a huge amount of debate on the forums, will be getting their own collectible system in the form of Mysterious Fragments resonating with magical power. Various agents scattered about the public areas will be interested in these fragments, which players can redeem for scrolls, potions, cosmetic items and even rare pets.

A new class is on the horizon, too. The Warlock is making its way to DDO, bringing their eldritch blasts to the battlefront. New classes are always an exciting time for players to discover new playstyles and multiclass combinations. Personally, i’m most interested to see how (or if) they will implement the various pacts warlock’s make in order to gain their powers. In the tabletop version of D&D, warlocks have pact options with the fey realm, demons and otherworldly entities akin to Lovecraftian elder gods. Colloquially, these resulted in names like feylock and starlock (i don’t remember the slang for the demon pact one – darklock?). When 4th edition D&D came out i made a starlock and had quite a bit of fun with that so we’ll see how it translates to DDO. To be honest, i would have loved to read that they were adding psionics to the mix first, and maybe someday we’ll see them in-game but for now, news of any new class is good news.

The Vale of Twilight and Shavarath are getting updates and new adventure packs in line with the level cap raise to 30. The more powerful and dangerous Vale will also introduce an update to the classic, beloved Greensteel equipment system. i say beloved because the items are very powerful and useful, but i can’t speak from experience because despite playing DDO since 2006 i have yet to acquire a single piece of Greensteel equipment. One day i hope to at least get that Trap-the-Soul heavy repeating crossbow made, but for now i just have the blank sitting in my vault.

Speaking of the level cap raise, players who reach the new cap of 30 can expect additional feats and power, as well as construct new weapons and treasures. That last part intrigues me the most, as i hope this means they will update the Cannith Crafting system to include all the prefixes and suffixes available on random lootgen, and maybe even allow us to craft clickies…? Here’s hoping.

Finally, there are some new festivals planned for 2015 including a mimic-themed event where players hunt down the diabolically disguised creatures, and a new seasonal festival hinted to be Halloween-themed. A later forum response from Severlin confirmed that “the mimic hunt is actually one of the fun things we have planned for our anniversary,” Severlin wrote. “I believe the Mabar items are still planned as rewards for the mimic hunt. We want to have an entirely new festival around the Halloween time, and that would also include appropriately themed items.”

*     *     *     *     *

Thanks for reading the 11th Week in Geek in addition to visiting The Long Shot. Of course, there were many more exciting things that happened in the world of science, technology and pop culture this week…but these were the ones that most caught my attention. If you have any news you’d like to share, drop me a line and let me know – i try to keep up with stuff but i can’t read everything!

If you would like some further reading, about some science and technology stuff that happened this week, here’s a few links i hope you find as interesting as i did:

Follow @longshotist on Twitter for frequent shares of related articles and (hopefully) humorous nonsequiters.

Week in Geek will be back next Friday, Jan. 16 and i’d love to see you here!

Remember – if you would like to contribute to The Long Shot, i’d be happy to make that happen!

Week in Geek also appears alongside other great blogs at The News-Herald Blogs (click the logo at the top right of the page for the main site).

Thanks for reading!

DDO Madness!

My good friend, frequent Long Shot commenter and contributing writer recently pointed out the lapse in DDO-related stuff here lately, and senior developer Knockback’s recent forum post giving a sneak peek at Update 24 seemed like a good opportunity to do just that.

ddo_logo

Heart of Madness

The first item mentioned, which based on replies to the post seems the least well-received, is a new adventure pack involving the plane of Xoriat encroaching on Eberron. In game lore for the Eberron setting, Xoriat is the realm of madness and the source of bizarre creatures like the iconic D&D monsters beholders and mindflayers. The craziness from Xoriat that spills over into the regular world features in more than a couple of quests, including the Harbinger of Madness pack that has your adventurer working with reporters from the Stormreach Chronicle. That has long been one of my favorite story arcs, if only for the fact you get to act as a freelance journalist while investigating a mystery in the harbor.

Pykzyl, a chaos beholder from the quest In the Flesh

Pykzyl, a chaos beholder from the quest In the Flesh

The new pack features three dungeons, the return of characters like the Lords of Eyes and Stone as well as a notoriously nutty fan favorite to appear in the quest “Fashion Madness.” The pack will be 450TP (free for VIPs), and is slated for preview on the Lammania server this weekend.

Since rolling up my main DDO toon Schir Gold as a chaotic neutral-aligned character years ago, and maintaining that alignment throughout her many lives, i always felt a bit of connection to the Xoriat-related content, with all its googly eyeball imagery and insane situations like constructing an airship out of animated furniture. Many DDO players seem to dislike a lot of these quests…but then again, the forums are filled with people who seem to dislike just about everything and yet continue to play. Who’s crazy now?!

Yaulthoon the mindflayer, BBEG from In the Flesh

Yaulthoon the mindflayer, BBEG from In the Flesh

That other place DDO ventures

On the other side of the dimensional rift, the Forgotten Realms side of DDO will have a new dungeon themed to tie in with Wizards of the Coast’s main storyline running through their pencil-and-paper D&D material “The Tyranny of Dragons.” This is very exciting news, because it tells me the D&D license relationship between Turbine (the makers of DDO) and WotC is strong enough that their big picture promotions are cross platform. i’ve always been a proponent of a stronger relationship between the two and long hoped DDO was the flagship D&D videogame. News like this makes me think that is something the folks at these two companies are working towards, which is great news for DDO.

Tiamat, the primary antagonist of D&D's Tyranny of Dragons story.

Tiamat, the primary antagonist of D&D’s Tyranny of Dragons story.

The new content for Tyranny of Dragons is going to be free-to-play for everyone, which gives further reason to suspect stronger support for WotC towards DDO. If it’s free, then PnP players might be more likely to check out tabletop D&D’s digital counterpart.

Classic D&D adventures

The success of the DDO iteration of classic D&D adventure The Haunted Halls of Eveningstar is getting another installment with Update 25’s plans for the release of

drumroll…

The Temple of Elemental Evil!

Dungeon magazine ranked this beloved D&D adventure the 4th greatest of all time in 2004. The quest has been around since 1979 when Gary Gygax designed it for his group of gamers, and was collected and published in 1985 for geeks everywhere to enjoy. There was a sequel to the story in 2001 called Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, as well as a 2003 computer game hailed as “one of the most authentic PC Dungeons & Dragons experiences of the past few years.” As a diehard D&Der myself, i of course played through the game which was both extremely challenging and supremely fun – and the closest to PnP gaming that i’ve ever experienced in a videogame. My fondest memory of playing it was when i found a particular room’s battle to be too difficult that i snuck past it, around the corner to a secret door through which i discovered a treasure hoard. The moment i plundered the gems there, a shriek came from the other side of a curtain to a larger space where, apparently, the BBEG of the whole thing waited. The gems were linked to her power somehow, and by simply swiping them i’d defeated her, whatever elementally evil plans she had and therefore the entire quest.

Zuggtmoy, the Demon Queen of Fungi from Temple of Elemental Evil

Zuggtmoy, the Demon Queen of Fungi from Temple of Elemental Evil

Several posters on the DDO forum responded to news of this classic dungeon making it’s way to our game with pleas to develop it as more than a single standalone instanced quest, which is something i agree with wholeheartedly. The whole story includes an adventure called The Village of Hommlet and in total is just a huge adventure. Later developments of the story had it dovetail into several other adventures like Scourge of the Slavelords, Against the Giants and Queen of the Demonweb Pits, and perhaps we’ll see those make their way into the DDOverse at some point. The latter of those stories led the heroes into a fight against Lloth, who is already a big part of DDO, so maybe this enormous storyline will someday link together. The Forgotten Realms in DDO at this point is primarily high-level adventure, and personally i’d like to see some top-down development that would include lower level heroic content there as well.

And if anyone on the DDO team is reading this and thinking about other classic adventures to develop, i’d like to throw Expedition to the Barrier Peaks into the ring right now. And also appeal to your good (extra)senses to add psionics to DDO!

Personal DDO milestones

On a smaller scale, my DDO play experience has had some cool developments recently. Due to becoming a lot more busy with two jobs as well as a dedicated regular feature here on The Long Shot (that will be included on The News-Herald blogroll soon!) i left my VIP subscription behind to go to a free-to-play, or premium account. So far, i haven’t noticed much difference. Notably, there are several adventure packs that i don’t have access to which is kind of a bummer, but there is still more than enough content to keep me busy having fun. That being said, i’m not sure which ones i may have already purchased in the last eight years during spurts of non-VIP status. And the announcement of Update 24’s Heart of Madness pack means i’ll have to start stockpiling TP earned through favor rewards since i no longer get my VIP 500TP each month. While i could just purchase TP in the DDO Store, i’ve been trying to avoid that so perhaps i’ll have to do some farming via multi-server questing to fill my coffers. Since i have access to iconics, i’m thinking that shouldn’t be too tough to just roll up some level 15 toons across the servers and blow through enough content to get TP.

Going premium and avoiding DDO Store purchases also meant i had to earn my Heart of Wood to reincarnate Schir the old fashioned way – through Tokens of the Twelve and Commendations of Valor. Fortunately, when i cancelled my sub i was also on the last life of the TR train i boarded years ago. At that time, when Schir was just a lowly first life artificer – the class that immediately became my favorite – i decided on a plan to acquire a suite of past lives that i felt would make her the ultimate representation of her class. The plan was three ranger PLs for the ranged damage, three sorcerer PLs for the evocation DC and spell points, and along the way the druid class was released so three of those for the buff on the artificer’s iron companion. At one point, i deviated from the plan to try out a pale trapper build, from which i snagged a wizard PL for +2 spell penetration that doesn’t hurt.

Schir Gold pays her respects at the in-game monument dedicated to D&D creator Gary Gygax - something every adventurer ought to do.

Schir Gold pays her respects at the in-game monument dedicated to D&D creator Gary Gygax – something every adventurer ought to do.

At times i contemplated getting three barbarian PLs because hit points, and fighter, rogue and monk PLs for their bonuses, but while on my last life as a ranger i simply couldn’t wait to get back to artificer. And also, remaining strictly chaotic neutral in all Schir’s lives meant i couldn’t do monks anyway.

Now, settled back into life as an artificer to stay, i am having a blast!

Never one to min/max an optimal build, i instead built Schir’s final life the way i envisioned it those years ago. She has the Dragonmark of Making which boosts her Cannith Crafting skills and, although that subsystem of DDO isn’t the greatest, it’s still fun to experiment with. Plus, you get decent ROI by breaking down junk loot for platinum and essences. My system has been working out pretty well so far. After a day’s questing i hit the auction house and post anything lucrative on the shard exchange, and anything with augment slots on the regular auction. The rest is broken down at the crafting station. One day, i hope Turbine gives Cannith Crafting a pass at which point my investment into Schir’s skills will pay off handsomely.

Another great aspect to settling into this as a final life is in regards to her vast collection of loot. When it comes to gear, i’m a bit of a snob and like all my stuff to have at least dark blue borders from named and raid loot. Over the years i’ve amassed a substantial hoard of doodads, thinking that someday i might need them for some life or another. But since i’m an artificer to stay, it’s been great to unburden my vault of things i know i’ll never use. A lot of the stuff was bound to character, which basically meant i just sold it off cheaply to a vendor. That being said, the real treasure trove was in my gargantuan ingredients bag that held things i could sell off for tidy sums like Scrolls of the Antique Greataxe and other commonly sought epic crafting ingredients.

Speaking of ingredients, i noticed Schir has been carrying around thousands of trap parts for who know how long, so i thought i might get into crafting traps and grenades a bit as well. From what i understand they’re not all that spectacular, but still, i’ve got the ingredients so i might as well use them for something. There’s also a smattering of Shroud crafting ingredients in the bag, as well as a plain, untouched green steel heavy repeating crossbow in the bank. Raiding in general is something i’ve never done more than a handful of times, but i’d like to change that and i think eight years is a long enough time to go without any green steel. So if anyone on Sarlona server needs to fill a raid slot with a capable artificer who has very little knowledge of raids, look me up! Adding an alchemical repeater to Schir’s loadout would also be great…

Overall, since i feel comfortable staying an artificer, it’s really been a hoot to start using a lot more of the consumable items i’ve accumulated over the years. My crafting levels shot up by a huge margin after some time making and breaking shards, since i had thousands of essences laying around, as well as millions of plat to spend on whimsical items. Currently, in addition to Shroud ingredients, i’m in the market for Free Agent Fuschia hair dye and maybe a new hair style – the dragonhorn flip isn’t my favorite.

Lastly, something that has had a big impact on Schir’s life is the recently-added Harper Agent enhancement tree. For quite some time, folks have been clamoring for a third artificer enhancement tree, and i’m here to say there already is one. It’s the Harper tree. Granted, i’m no build expert but from what i’ve experienced so far this has everything an artificer might want.

  • INT bonuses
  • INT to hit and damage
  • Universal spell power bonuses
  • Weapon enhancements
  • Spell point bonuses
  • Listen, search and spot bonuses
  • Melee and ranger power bonuses
  • Minion bonuses
  • Skill bonuses

And that’s not even a complete list. What more could an artificer ask for? So far, i’ve invested almost entirely in this tree, as well as the human racial tree for the dragonmark, and more INT.

Schir Gold on the flagship of the Sacred Flame Guardians.

Schir Gold on the flagship of the Sacred Flame Guardians.

As you can see, i’ve started to put points into the Battle Engineer tree as well. Call me crazy, but i dig that runearm and the decreased cooldown and run speed while charging feel like a good investment to me. Originally, i thought i’d focus on the Arcanotechnician with an eye towards fully beefing up the iron companion. With the druid PLs, Harper bonuses and augment summons feat i figured why not go all the way? Plus, since Schir has the Construct Essence feat so she can repair herself, the companions self-repair to nearby allies seemed like a good idea. However, i don’t think there will be enough AP to go around. Additionally, the companion still bugs out enough that it gets on my nerves so i don’t know if it will be worth it as she gets higher in level. TBH i think i might just swap out the augment summons and Harper minion points entirely at some point. Which i guess would make the druid PLs not as impactful as i thought (but i still had a great time playing a druid so it wasn’t a waste).

You might also notice the melee weapon Schir is wielding there. That is the longsword Sirocco, which currently is bejewelled with a Ruby Eye of Force. Thanks to the Harper tree’s melee power and INT to hit and damage abilities, Schir has had great success as a hand-to-hand combatant. Her much-beloved Frozen Tunic also helps in this department, since it procs quite a bit to aid in mitigating damage. Artificer’s have medium armor proficiency automatically, and while this would give a serious boost to AC, PRR and MRR, i just love that Frozen Tunic. In higher levels, i still haven’t decided what sort of armor she might use. Black dragonscale is nice, as is the blue version. And level 18 will let her don the Elocator’s Habiliment that i’ve been a fan of for a long time (yes, even the look of it…Mirror of Glamering anyone?). That shadowscale stuff look pretty cool, too, but that’s a long way off from level 12 where she’s at right now.

Switching it up between melee and ranged with repeating crossbows, the runearms, spells and boosts to wands and scrolls was always one of the things i enjoyed most about the artificers, and in DDO changing your gear frequently to meet the situation is a mainstay, so i’ve really been relishing the versatility.

At the end of the day, i’m most happy to report that DDO is still very much a fun game. We’re getting a great update soon, and there seems to be a closer relationship between DDO and D&D which gives me more confidence that the game will continue for some time. On a smaller scale, i’m having a helluva great time with Schir Gold back in the saddle as an artificer to stay…unless they come out with psionics then i might have to stock up on Tokens of the Twelve for another TR!

As always, thanks for visiting The Long Shot and making it all the way to the end of my longwinded posts. If you would like to contribute to The Long Shot, please drop me a line. Be sure to check back every Friday for the Week in Geek – a roundup of science, technology and pop culture news.

Follow @longshotist on Twitter for frequent shares of related articles and (hopefully) humorous nonsequiters.

Good gaming!