Category Archives: Dungeons & Dragons Online

Overpowered and Underpowered in DDO

On Saturday, I didn’t get as much time to play as I had planned. This was mostly due to a late Summer day (after July and August had utterly failed to deliver, any warm day in September needs to be used), which I spend sitting in a chair on the balcony reading. (Walter Kempowski: Das Echolot. A fascinating kaleidoscope, but I don’t think there’s an English translation; besides, it doesn’t belong into this blog.)

In the evening, I played a bit of DDO with Dioneo, my bard. I decided I’d like to try out some non-free adventures, and pondered my options. I could take a subscription, to open up everything temporarily. However, DDO is pretty strict about what you retain when you downgrade again: additional characters above your “premium user” slot are locked, you lose bank access, etc. Also, “everything” is not quite true: several options, such as the Favored Soul class, do not come with a subscription, and need to be bought separately. Finally, while I like the game, I’m not sure how much time I’ll spend in it at any given point. I’ll probably wander off and come back later.

In the end, I bought the medium point pack, which was still cheaper than a three-month subscription, and gave me the possibility to buy some stuff, and keep the rest for later. I opted for two low-level adventure packs, the Catacombs, and the Seal of Shan-To-Kor, which got good reviews on the forums. I wasn’t disappointed. The Catacombs are a classic “slay the undead” adventure with a decent story, and give a LOT of favor (reputation), which is useful because it unlocks things like classes and races for non-VIPs. Shan-To-Kor was a massive (for a low-level at least) dungeon crawl, which felt well-made, and the last area gave me some challenge, even on normal mode on my overpowered bard. Especially the final boss was a very close encounter. Plus, the dungeon gives Coin Lords rep, which means I could unlock the fourth inventory bag from favor.

In the end, I reached level 4 on my bard, and decided to revisit my Rogue/Wizard that I play in our static group. Now, the group is mostly, but not completely, static. I left early one night last week, and my friends decided to push on for one more adventure. Which means I was a bit behind. While I was still towards the end of level 3, they had already hit level 4. So, I went and tried to get the remaining experience. It was pretty painful. Compared to my bard, my Rogue/Wizards feels very underpowered; especially the limit on spell points can be a problem, but also the surprisingly low damage output. I just assume it will get better with levels, and Wizards will be able to catch up. After some cursing and unexpected deaths, plus running level 2 “easier than average” quests repeatedly, I finally hit level 4, and can now park this character again until we start playing in a group again. Soloing will probably not be my favorite part on this character, no.

Altitis on Xen’drik

(Yes, I had to look up the name of the continent on wikipedia.)

I’m generally not a person that suffers from altitis, the Obsessive Reroll Disorder. I pick a class, and I stick with it, unless I’m really unhappy. Which doesn’t happen often; I guess I’m reasonably good and anticipating what I want – or I’m just undemanding.

Not so with DDO, it seems. When I came back to it this week, I already had a 5 Cleric. To play with my friends, I designed a new character, who right now is a 1 Rogue / 2 Wizard. Then I heard how powerful melee classes can be early on. And I realized that, for whatever reason, I had four character slots instead of two. I can’t remember buying anything off the DDO store except for the port wine for the store breadcrumb quest on the starter island. But it gave me that itch to try out yet another new class. So, meet Dioneo Pavane, right now a 2 Bard.

I built him myself, off one of the standard paths (which is probably a bad idea, given how little I understand of D&D in general and DDO in specific), to get specifically what I wanted: a character that can kick some ass, but still works well as a buffer and off-healer. To be fair though, it will strongly consider suggestions made for the Classic Rocker. I’ll probably go with the Warchanter prestige, but I started with Power Attack and Master’s Touch. The weapon I got from the tutorial quest is powerful enough that I could plow through normal and hard difficulty quests in Korthos Village with ease, so it only took me 2 hours or so to reach level 2. I then took cure light wounds. I’m really looking forward to trying out that build in the other island quests tonight or tomorrow. My friends are both gone for a couple of days, so I have all the time in the world to get my Bard to level 3 or even 4. We would then all have 2 characters each in the same level range, which would make for some nice switching I guess (or, if it goes wrong, endless thinking about which characters we’d rather play).

I realize these posts seriously need some more screenshots. Even I probably won’t want to read these posts in a year to remember what I did, without some eye candy. I’m not sure I’m good at taking nice screenshots, but anything is better than nothing.

Eberron, Here We Come

My vacation ended on Friday. So yesterday was my first day at work again, and I ran into J, a good friend (student who just started his thesis here), and we realized we both have a decent amount of free time right now. That reminded us to pick up our plans again to start a static group in an MMO.

I’ve never done static groups before; I don’t have many friends that are into MMOs, and we never seemed to be in the same games, or on the same servers. So this is something new to me. We had decided some time ago to try DDO, because we both had little experience in the game (I had played a couple of nights some months ago, he never had), and it seemed to cater well, with its choice of difficulty for each dungeon, to a group of two people. J asked a friend of his, S, and he seemed to be interested too, so the two went off downloading and installing DDO (I still had my copy).

Slow internet connections, some confusion over the registration process (“you’re saying I can’t use my LotRO account because they’re separate, but I also can’t use the same user name, because they share a name space??”), and general indecision with respect to classes meant it took us a couple of hours to get going. We could start around 10pm. I sadly forgot to make screenshots, so you’ll have to take my words for it.

Our group consists of a Cleric (S), a Ranger (J), and a Rogue/Wizard (me). Not sure whether that’s an ideal setup, but I guess we’ll manage. I, especially, felt very useless. This is because I want to make a wizard with just a dash of rogue, for trap detection and disabling. Yet there is a consensus that you have to take the rogue level as the first one though, because it means you’ll get a lot more skill points than if you take wizard (whyever that would be). Of course, whenever I had upgrade choices during the quests, I took the wizard stuff, because this is what I want to end up with. So I ran around with a rusty rapier for half the evening, for a whopping 1d6-1 damage. Plus, I had chosen my stats and skills with wizard in mind. But I bet it will get better as I get a level of Wizard or two.

I like the storytelling in DDO. The story itself on the starter island is quite nice. Basically, you went shipwreck and stranded on a tropical island, which, strangely, has snow falling from the sky. You’re informed that this is because of a white dragon who has messed with the weather (you’ll run across him later). Other than that, your first quests mostly deal with helping the townsfolk by fighting back invaders to the store house, and investigating the town crypt.

I have to say I like the voice of the dungeon master, with its over-the-top voice acting of monsters every now and then. Also the fact that you sometimes have to solve puzzles and not only hack and slash.

We played until all of us hit 2nd level. Due to the fact that we all play together, and that you get experience not for killing monsters, but finishing quests, it was easy to stay close together in XP. By the time we dinged, it was 1am, and I was very tired. We called it a night, and decided to play again later this week. I’m not sure whether both J and S enjoyed the game as much as I hope, but we’ll see. It would be a fun thing to do once a week or so.

Oh, and I already know how to spend my lunch break today: figuring out which skills, feats, and enhancements to take for level 2. DDO shows its DnD heritage there; there’s so many important choices, much more than in your run-of-the-mill MMO. And especially for me, with little DnD experience, and no rails to follow because I customized a multiclass character, it’s really complicated! I do enjoy it though. Meaningful decisions are great.