Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What I've been Working On: Dungeons and Dragons Online

I traditionally mark the U.S. Labor Day weekend with a post about each game I'm currently playing.  With that tally rising, the series needs to start early this year.

While everyone else is busy hacking away at Guild Wars 2 of late, I've been working on some Dungeons and Dragons Online.  My highest character is level 10 with enough experience to advance to 11 - the game permits you to bank up to two levels' worth of experience, and doing so can help avoid exp penalties for being over level (starting at -10% for being two levels above the rating of the quest).  While I'm not really halfway through the content yet, I'm making steady progress in a way that I had never been able to in previous visits to the game.  This raises some questions on how to spend my Turbine Point balance. 

My character sheet at level 10, including all my armor bonuses, the AC goes a few points higher with various consumables.
On one level, Turbine points have no cash value.  The cash I spent to get them had cash value, but there are no refunds on this or any other MMO's virtual currency.  The roughly $30 worth of points that have been sitting in my account since 2010 haven't really been doing much for me during that time. 

On the other hand, Turbine points can be exchanged for things that I would otherwise pay money for, such as content and major features.  While it is theoretically possible to grind out Turbine Points if you value your time at pennies per hour - and while there is a rebate of sorts from points that you earn during natural play - for the most part points I spend now will eventually be replaced at the cost of real cash.  In general things that are in the store now will go on sale or see prices reduced eventually, and in general new things that I want will be added to the store in the future.  The future value of the points could in principle be greater than their present day value.

The TR System
Up until this point, I have played a stable of characters, and the things that I have purchased for them have been account-wide benefits that applied equally to future alts.  Looking ahead, though, I'm tempted to take up the game's true reincarnation (TR) mechanic, whereby characters who reach level 20 can start over at level 1 (in the same or different class) in exchange for more build options, passive bonuses, and other perks.

DDO's character building system is very rich, though it does allow the player to make genuinely terrible characters, and the TR system expands options in a way that sounds fun.  Meanwhile, while the game is built on repeatable content, there is something to be said for beating the level four content once and not coming back to it until my next life.  (One pitfall of being an altoholic in DDO is that you end up starting over in the same level range repeatedly.)  The experience to level actually increases for subsequent lives, but there are also bonuses, such as immediately unlocking higher difficulty levels for quests (a feature that it otherwise available to subscribers, or for a somewhat prohibitive consumable per-quest unlock).

On the other hand, being a TR is in some ways expensive.  Actually reincarnating requires a heart that can in principle be earned through in-game group content, but is more feasibly obtained for around $15 in the store.  There are also bonuses like inventory boosts and tomes (some of which are available in game) that become much more attractive when you can carry them into your next life.  On the downside, these bonuses are tied to the one character, so you can't keep them if you end up disliking your next life (or if future mechanics changes - such as the enhancement revamp they are supposedly working on - break your build).

The decision point for me is still a bit out, but I have slowly elected to pick up things that are immediately useful and that will continue to be useful in future lives.  My main has a greater experience tome through the expansion bundle purchase, stat tomes on some of my in-game stats, and will probably pick up at least the additional personal bag when the next sale cooperates (possibly this weekend).

P.S. "Sword Saint" build

The last time I posted about this, Yeebo inquired about my plans to build a character with cloth armor and swords.  My character was originally going to be a Tempest dual-wielding ranger (approximately like this one) but I found combat uninteresting and the benefits of splashing monk for wisdom and dex bonuses to armor classes somewhat reduced due to changes in this summer's expansion.  Fortunately, DDO levels are added one at a time, and I realized I could repurpose the character in favor of the more active monk combat style.  My current build:

Human w/ Stats (32 pt build):
STR: 16 (+level increases)   DEX: 16   CON: 14   INT: 8  WIS: 14  CHA: 8  
1 Rogue: Toughness, Dodge (human bonus, Tempest prereq), skills including UMD, Balance, Open Lock
1 Ranger/1 Rogue: Favored Enemy Undead (or your choice), add concentration
2 Ranger/1 Rogue: Power Attack, Two Weapon Fighting (class feature)
2 Ranger/1 Monk/1 Rogue: Mobility (Monk bonus, Tempest prereq)
3 Ranger/1/1: Diehard (class feature, Shintao Monk prereq)
4 Ranger/1/1: Spring Attack (Tempest prereq)
5 Ranger/1/1: Favored Enemy Giants (common at this level, take your pick)
6 Ranger/1/1: Improved Two Weapon Fighting (class feature), Tempest Prestige Enhancement
2 Monk/6 Ranger/1 Rogue: Weapon Focus Slashing (level 9 feat, prereq for the following:), Whirling Steel Strike (monk bonus, allows use of longswords as a monk weapon)
3 Monk/6/1: Light Path for solo self-heals

That's where I am through character level 10.  I have great DPS thanks to high strength, swords, and monk special attacks.  I have good armor/avoidance through full DEX and WIS bonuses, enhancement bonuses to armor (now available on robes), and other little perks like the Tempest bonus to dual wielding.  Meanwhile, I can open locks along with full ranks in UMD, balance, and concentration. Planned milestones ahead:

12: 5 Monk/6/1: Improved Crit Slashing
13: 6 Monk/6/1: Stunning Fist (Monk Bonus, prereq for:) Shintao Monk Prestige Enhancement
15: 8 Monk/6/1: Greater Two Weapon Fighting (requires +1 Dex tome no later than level 14, I already got this)
19: 12 Monk/6/1: Shintao Monk Rank 2

I'm actually not sure what I will do with my level 18 feat or my 20th heroic class level, and I guess it won't matter that much if I TR relatively shortly thereafter, but so far I'm loving this build. 


  1. That is a really interesting build. I doubt I ever would have come up with it, even if I were thinking "sword saint."

    Since the ability to start characters at level 7 went live, I've been experimenting a lot more. The old "start at level 4" really wasn't enough to test even the basics of most builds, imo.

  2. I didn't really plan it that way, I was just pondering whether there was anything else rational I could do with the character or whether to scrap it at level 8. Since my two other class slots were already occupied, it was simply a question of what a Tempest could do with more Monk or more Rogue. The Shintao Tempest plan has so many synergies that I'm thinking it has to have been intentional.

    I didn't mention Veteran 7 in the post, but that is sort of the other option if you're going to stay altoholic rather than TR - if I was NOT going to TR this would be very attractive, but for TR's Vet 7 is only useful for build planning. That said, I did find that I really burned out on the level 4-6 content while messing with Veteran 4, and I'm concerned that history would simply repeat itself with the 7-9 stuff.


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