Another Post on Organizing Time

Like most gamers, the amount of time I have available to play DDO and to contribute to the DDO Community has varied over the years.  I have been playing DDO since April 2006 and since then I have played and contributed consistently but not at the same levels (measured in terms of game play logged and posts/time spent on blogging and other activities).  All of this can attributed to changes that have occurred in my personal and professional life.  This has made me reorganize my gaming schedule yet once again.

I wrote about this type of situation two other times (Blog 1 and Blog 2).  The main thing to remember when it comes to your schedule is to be flexible.  A few years ago I had what I thought of as the perfect game schedule.  During the workweek, I would log in into DDO for about 10 to 20 minutes and hit up a quick slayer area.  After work and before dinner, I would log in again and play a quick quest or two.  And then I would cap out the night by playing from 10 pm to midnight, at which point I would go to bed.  On the weekends, I would play from 11 pm to 2 am or so, and sometimes I would get some miscellaneous play time in while also working or chores or yard work.  This schedule allowed me to play the plethora of characters I have and to continue to play through different quest levels of the game.  The extra things I would do that were game related (blogging, forum posts, web site, guild newsletters, etc.) I would work on while I had breaks on work and also between chores at home.

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The Risia Games will be coming back up soon.  Another aspect for consideration when  developing a schedule.

However, I had to change this schedule.  I had switched when I go to the gym to workout from late afternoon to first thing in the workweek which meant I could no longer do my morning slayer runs.  Also, we have been so busy at work, that I routinely get home later than I normally would.  This has impacted my ability to log in prior to dinner.  We have also been so busy at work, that I have been bring extra projects home to work on what would be my typical play time period (10 pm to midnight).  So while I like working on these projects, I took away from my game time.  This then just left me with the weekends, where I focused more on getting game time in and less on other things.

I’m trying to switch things back up again.  I’m currently going back to a play schedule that was similar to when I first started playing the game, primarily just at night (even during the weekends).  I’m also spending more of my lunch hours at work to get back into blogging as well as the daytime hours on the weekend (between chores).  I still have a few things that I want to work in, but so far it seems to be working alright.  I haven’t been able to get as much play time in but I have been able to pick up blogging again.  We’ll see how else the gaming schedule changes, but hopefully I can adjust and make the most of everything.

Thanks for readying everybody and happy hunting in DDO!!

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Questing from January 7th to 10th

Just the previous weekend, this past week was also light in quest runs.  I kicked off the week by taking Garrrin (Level 24 Barbarian/Fury of the Wild) into the Harbor to knock out some favor runs.  I’m currently on a kick to just maximize all of my favor across all of characters.  It will slow me down in getting them leveled up but I don’t imagine it will take each character too long to fill in their blanks (of course I could be wrong on that).  In any case, I took him through Irestone Inlet (which I can’t believe he didn’t have on elite already) and Freshen the Air.  I was doing this while also playing during our digital table top game.  Speaking of the table top game, we moved over from using MapTools to Fantasy Grounds.  During this play session, I saw a lot of dialogue time which prevented me from running anything else on Monday night.  I called it a night after that.

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Garrrin just cleaning up some favor in Irestone Inlet.

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Garrrin taking note of being finished with Freshen the Air.

I ended the week by logging in with Cantlin (Level 14 Sorcerer) and taking him into Stromvauld’s Mine on elite.  I didn’t run into any problems, even though playing a caster isn’t my strongest play style.  After that run, I took him into the Red Fens to do some slayers and to close out the night.

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Cantlin burning up some scorpions in Stromvauld’s Mine.

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Cantlin continues to explore the Red Fens.

I didn’t log in on Wednesday or Thursday night.  Wednesday night was date night and Thursday night real life activities got into the way (chores and that type of thing).  I hope everybody else had a great week.  Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting!!

A Fun Little Trinket

There are a number of interesting and powerful trinkets in DDO.  However, there is one that I find to be tremendously fun, the Shard of Xoriat.  The Shard of Xoriat looks like one of the disks that are used in the Dreamforge to upgrade the items from the Inspired Quarter and Dreaming Dark quest packs.  You can only get it out of the quest, The Sane Asylum and it also an exclusive item, meaning that you can only have one in your inventory at any time.

The Shard of Xoriat grants a +1 Exceptional Charisma and Greater Enchantment Focus.  However, its most useful characteristic is the ability to summon an Xorian creature to your aid three times per rest.  The creates that you can summon include a chaos beholder, a mind flayer, a flesh render, a greater evil eye, or a Taken.  All five of these creatures have their own unique flavor to them that makes questing just a little more fun.

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The Shard of Xoriat is a fun little item to have.

The most powerful of these summons is the chaos beholder and the mind flayer.  The choas beholder has its own way of doing crowd control by hypnotizing your enemies.  It is fun to be in the thick of combat to all of sudden see the enemy monsters with “pink hats” on their heads.  It also tends to shoot other rays out and to grap aggro fairly quickly.  Likewise, the mind flayer is pretty powerful as well.  He tends to like to cast firewalls, cyclonic blasts, and freezing sphere.  It is great to watch your mind flayer stun an enemy and then start to pull its brains out.  Sometimes I feel guilty when I finish killing the monster before he gets through with his meal.

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The mind flayer is one of the summons you can get from the Shard of the Xoriat.

The flesh render is also another aggro magnet.  He likes to just run headlong into battle and to soak up as much punishment as possible.  Although not nearly as effective as the chaos beholder or the mind flayer, still a pretty good distraction to enemy monsters.  The greater evil eye is just funny.  You can tell that enemy monsters have a hard time hitting him, especially when he goes into that “X” flight pattern.  I know I get frustrated when I face off against them, I can only imagine what the monsters feel like.  The greater evil eye tend to just shoot out their arcane zap and arcane blasts as their main attacks.  The weakest of the summons is the Taken.  Although he is weak, we does gather aggro quite well.  It is fun to watch him limp along into battle.  He usually doesn’t last long, but if you need a quick distraction he does provide it.

The Shard of Xoriat has a minimum level of 15 to use.  As soon as I reach level, I tend to grap it out of my bank and start summoning the fun creatures of Xoriat.  I have seen it drop fairly regularly, so if you get a chance to run The Sane Asylum I would recommend it just so you could get a shot at picking one of these up.  Besides being exclusive, it is bound to account, so you can transfer it to your other characters through your shared bank.

Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting!!

Overview of the Lord of Eyes

The quest, Lord of Eyes, is the capstone quest to the Reign of Madness adventure pack, which also includes Acute DeliriumSane Asylum, and Lord of Stone.  It is a level 17 quest on normal, making it a level 19 quest on elite.  It is located in the Tower of the Twelve and the quest giver is Elawyn Thwr.  You won’t be able to talk to Elawyn until the other three quests are completed.  The whole point of this quest is stop the Lord of Eyes, Belashyrra, from taking control of the Tower of Twelve and wreaking havoc in Stormreach.  You will do this by accompanying the forces of the Lord of Stone, who you recruited to help the Twelve in the quest Lord of Stone, and defeating Belashyrra’s forces and then Belashyrra himself.

The quest starts out by entering the main compartment to the Tower of the Twelve.  Belashyrra’s forces are currently invading the tower and the wizards of the Twelve are having difficulty in containing the invasion.  As soon as you enter the quest, you make contact with one of the wizards trying to maintain the invasion.  He is apparently a competent wizard, as you notice a frozen mind flayer (supposedly due to him) as you approach.  He tells you to make your way to the lower level of the tower to talk to another member of the Twelve.

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Erdrique preparing to enter the quest, Lord of Eyes.

As you enter the main portion of the tower, you see a number of platforms with reverse gravity.  These platforms work by propelling you into the air, rather slowly, to higher levels where you can slide out of the area of reverse gravity to reach the higher platforms.  You also see platforms below you, realizing that you must have entered the tower in middle levels.  As you make your way to the lower levels, you will fight a series of evil eyes, greater evil eyes, various beholders, and eye horrors.  The beholders include chaos beholders, armored beholders, and frost beholders.  You will eventually make your way to your second contact and he tells you that we need to blow a hole in the stone to allow the forces of the Lord of Stone to enter the tower,  To do this, we need to power up the mage fire cannon.  To power up the mage fire cannon, we need to obtain the four elemental essences and place them into the cannon.

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Time to start exploring the inside of the Tower of the Twelve, take note of the frozen figure at the end of the hallway.

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Taking note of the reverse gravity platforms in the Tower of the Twelve.

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Using the reverse gravity platforms to get higher into the tower.

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Coming across some of the forces of the Lord of Eyes while looking for the second contact in the tower.

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There is the broken down mage fire cannon.

As you can imagine, there is a fire, water, air, and earth essence that you need to obtain.  The first essence you will gather is the fire essence.  The fire essence node is located in the same cavern as the mage fire cannon.  To obtain the fire essence, you need to draw a set number of fire elementals into a red circle that surrounds a capture crystal.  You need to defeat the elementals within that red circle and when you do they get captured by the crystal.  You can draw the elementals in one at a time, but they all must be killed within the red circle.  Once you defeat the elementals, you can obtain the essence.  After you collect the fire essence you then have to make it back into the tower and travel to the upper levels to collect the water, earth, and air essences.

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Luring the fire elementals in to the ring.

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Capturing some earth elementals.

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Bringing in some water elementals.

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Time to capture some air elementals.

After you collect the essences, you then need to return back to the mage fire cannon.  You can then place the essences into the cannon and watch as it blows a hole in the stone.  Shortly layer a stone army comes to help you.  You lead them back to the main part of the tower where you then enter a portal to go to Belashyrra.  When you encounter Belashyrra, he is huge.  However, the stone servants of the Lord of Stone remove that enchantment and soon the battle begins.  It is important to try to keep some of the Lord of Stone’s army alive to hold back the power of Belashyrra.  Once Belashyrra is killed, all of his servants also are killed.

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Fighting a named flesh render.

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Taking down a named armored beholder.

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Loading up the mage fire cannon.

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Getting help from the Lord of Stone.

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Belashyrra in his preferred form before the legions of the Lord of Stone bring him back down to size.

Overall, the quest is unique in how it is structured.  The use of the reverse gravity platforms gives you a feel of doing some Mario style questing without actually doing Mario style questing.  The enemies can also be tough.  Besides the ones I already mentioned, you also might stumble across Belashyrra’s hounds, a named beholder, or a named flesh render.  Not to mention, you will also encounter mind flayers in the other levels of the tower.

If you get a chance, check this quest out for an interesting time.  Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting in the Lord of Eyes.

What is the history of the Windlasher Gnolls?

I have mentioned a number of times how much I like the Sands of Menechtarun.  I find the quests out there fun to do, the wilderness area fun to explore, and lore for the entire area extremely interesting.  I have written in the past about the various factions that an explorer can expect to encounter in this area and how I believe they might interact with other.  However, there are so many questions that are still left unanswered.  Primarily, questions about the culture and the history of how the area became settled are still unknown.

One of the things I’m curious about is the history of the Windlasher Gnolls.  I’m assuming that a scouting party of gnolls made their way to the Windlasher Canyon of Menechtarun.  My suspicion is that this happened after King Raiyum pretty much devastated his kingdom and raised himself to be a lich.  I’m guessing the leaders of the Windlasher Gnolls such as Den Mother Fheena, Den Mother Yheeroua, Yurrugh the Swift, Zheeregh the Summoner, Ruuh–Ooru the Packmaster, and Uneeou made some type offer to King Raiyum. I’m guessing that Windlasher Gnolls offered to maintain and protect the king’s ruins and his secrets.  I’m also guessing they agreed to help augment the King’s military of undead servants and other planar warriors, primarily mephits.

Of course, this assumes that these talks between King Raiyum and the Windlasher Gnoll clan were relatively recent in comparison to our own adventurers showing up in Stormreach.  It is very possible that the Windlasher Gnolls may have been inhabiting this area for many generations and that the ancestors of the current leaders of the Windlasher Gnolls were the ones to strike up the deal with King Raiyum when he was still a living being.  If this is indeed the case, then this implies that the gnolls have maintained a fairly loyal relationship with the King, which I don’t find reasonable.  Gnolls are naturally violent, territorial, and clanish with various members within the pack continuously jockeying for power.  I find it highly reasonable that the Windlasher Gnolls are biding their time and waiting for a power grab of some sort.  Of course this whole situation probably got more complicated when Raiyum brought Queen Lailat into the mix and now the Windlasher had to contend with her, the Firebrand Gnolls, and the Scorrow.

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Pondering the Windlasher Gnolls.

Oh, so many questions and so many answers.  I wonder if our adventurers ever stumble upon any journals or tomes of history for these clans when they encounter them.  Of course I’m not certain how well gnolls can write, but I’ m sure some of them can since some are casters.  I wonder…

Thanks for reading everbody.  Happy hunting in the Sands of Menechtarun.

A Slow Weekend, Quest Runs January 4th to 6th

Well, my past weekend’s worth of runs was relatively light.  I actually fell asleep early on Friday night (January 4th) and therefore I didn’t log in.  However, I did log in on Saturday night.  I grouped up with Dirtyrice (I was dual boxing Erdrique (Level 23) and Sttollen (Level 22) and we headed to The Twelve to take on the Lord of Stone on elite (making it a level 19 quest).  After that we headed off to the Sands of Menechtarun to do a quick run of Zawabi’s Revenge on Heroic Elite.  I knew I wouldn’t get any experience from it but I wanted to get the favor.  However, when we got there Dirtyrice realized he wasn’t flagged so I had tried it myself.  That didn’t go over too well.  Lailat wound up knocking me down and basically carved me up for her dinner.  So, after that miserable run, we headed back out to The Twelve and knocked out the quest, Acute Delirium on elite (making that a level 19 quest).  We are now good to go to take on the Lord of Eyes, which we will probably due this weekend.  We called it a night after that.

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Erdrique making his way through the Lord of Stone.

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Facing off against the Queen.

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Working through the denizens of Acute Delirium.

On Sunday, I didn’t get a chance to log on.  That was because my wife and I went out to the movies to see Aquaman.   By the time we got back and after I caught up on some chores around the house it was time to go to bed (stupid work, lol).

I hope everybody else had a great weekend’s worth of runs.  Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting!!

Playing with Sentient Weapons

When the expansion pack for Ravenloft was released, so was the introduction to Sentient Weapons.  The ability to apply some form sentience to named weapons with minimum level of 20 or higher introduced a new layer of crafting and fun to DDO.  The majority of named weapons, and weapons that you can obtain from challenges (either the Cannith Challenges or those from Eveningstar) can be upgraded through this system.  If a weapon can be upgraded it will be noted in the weapon’s characteristics when you examine it with a notation stating “Accepts Sentience.”

There are currently ten different types of Sentient Jewels that can give your weapons some personality.  Once you apply a Sentient Jewel to your weapon, you can then start gaining experience with that weapon by feeding it other named items.  As your Sentient Weapon continues to gain experience, it will eventually start to gain levels in which it will earn the ability to be upgraded through Sentient Filigrees, which add even more power and abilities to your weapon.

It took me a little while, but I eventually was able to get a Sentient Weapon with both Erdrique and Sttollen.  Erdrique obtained the Epic Elemental Khopesh of Water from the Cannith Challenges and applied a Hopeful Sentient Gem to it.  Meanwhile, Sttollen upgraded a Mighty Cormyrean Dagger through the use of a Inquistive Sentient Gem.  Once you apply sentience to a weapon, it can and will spontaneously talk to you, usually during combat.  It does take a little while to figure out where the voice is coming from but it is fun to realize that your weapon is communicating with you.  After a little while, you do pick up on the majority of sayings they have and it can be a little repetitive, but I still find it fun.

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A look at Erdrique’s first Sentient Weapon.

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A look at Sttollen’s first Sentient Weapon.

I still haven’t gained enough experience with either one of their weapons yet to start to apply a filligree.  Although Erdrique is close to hitting level 1 on his khopesh.  I look forward to continuing to feeding named items to these weapons and gaining more and more experience and getting the ability to increase their power.  All of this is still relatively knew to me so I look forward to learning on what types of filligrees I can find and apply.

Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting with those Sentient Weapons!!