A Look Back, Quest Runs March 25 to 27

So, I have made it a personal mission now to do everything in my power to catch up in my backlog of blogs.  I’m currently about 70 blog posts behind where I should be :(.  Needless to say, this year has just been rough for me in trying to stay on top of everything.  This has been primarily because of my hectic work activity this year.  All of the time I was able to devote last year during work downtime has literally disappeared this year and I still haven’t found a good way to compensate.  But I’m slowly doing what I can to make it happen.

In any case, I’m going to continue with my series of quest runs that I have gone through, primarily because I took the time to document what I did and because I have the screenshots to show the questing.  I also find it fun to look back at what I did.

So, back during the last weekend in March (starting on Friday, March 25th) I didn’t run any quests during the morning or during the afternoon.  I actually didn’t get any questing in until Friday night, when I logged on with Erdrique (Level 30 Rogue/Shadowdancer, that is what is now, not then) and I took him into The High Road (Epic) on my way to try the quest Detour.  While hunting out there Erdrique picked up 13 slayers allowing him to hit the fist slayer mark of 10 kills and he found one scroll, number 6.  In Detour, Erdrique was able to complete it on epic hard.  While he was making his way through the quest, he picked up a monster manual deed for human exterminator V and picked up 3,459 experience for that effort.  I also was able to knock out four dire bears during the quest and I was able to defeat all of the mercenaries.  I also picked up three mysterious remnants and received 28 commendations of valor as a quest reward.  That was all I was able to get done on Friday night.

Erdrique making his way through the High Road to quest Detour.

Erdrique dealing with some enemies in the Detour.

Moving to Saturday, I logged back on with Erdrique and I took him back into The High Road (Epic) to continue on that quest string.  While hunting in The High Road, Erdrique picked up another 57 slayers.  While roaming around the High Road I completed the random encounters for Spectral Sightings, Trader Travels, Tree Full of Spiders, Spider of Unusual Size, Rebels Underground, Orc Intuition, and the Druid Brothers.  I also found Oriphaun’s 5th journal and collected the slayer marks for 25 and 50 slayers.  After completion of the random encounters I collected one Village of Eveningstar Commendation, two clerics of Amaunator commendations, and two purple dragon knight commendations.  The reason I was heading back into the High Road was to take on the quest Rest Stop.  I entered on epic hard and didn’t come across any significant problems.  I completed the optional objectives for talking to the adventures, finding the missing party, and defeating the Umbral Gargoyle Lord.  I picked up 14 mysterious remnants defeating the monster champions I encountered and as a quest reward I picked up 27 commendations of valor.  I called it a night after that.

Erdrique back in the High Road and making his way to the quest Rest Stop.

It is time to explore the abandoned and rustic castle of Rest Stop.

To close out the weekend, my quest runs were light on Sunday.  I was scheduled to log on with Lorrikk (Level 13 Monk).  So I also brought on Suppply (Level 11 Paladin) who is one of my characters on my premium account and I decided to dual box questing with them.  Lorrikk still needed to complete Stormcleave so I attempted to make my way through the quest.  I had started relatively late as well, so I was running late on time to get the quest done.  Everything was going well, up until I made it to the raiding party optional objective.  At this point I hit a very large lagspike.  By the time the spike recovered, I was dead.  Instead of trying to recoup the lost time, I just decided to call it a night and try it again later.  So the weekend ended on a sour note :(.

Lorrikk having some issues in Stormcleave.

However, it was still a good weekend overall with Erdrique knocking out a few more quests from the High Road and making more progress to his first epic reincarnation.  I hope everybody else had a good weekend as well.

Challenge Type Weekend, Quest Runs Aug 21 to Aug 23

Over the weekend, I ran quite a number of challenges with Erdrique (Level 17 Rogue) as I continue to work on gathering ingredients to upgrade my Spare Hand and Ring of the Stalker.  However, prior to hitting up those challenges, I started my questing on Friday morning by taking Charlock (Level 14 Fighter) out into the Red Fens.  Charlock is slowly gaining ground out there with his slayers but still has a long way to go before he maxes that area out.  I didn’t get a chance to log on during the afternoon but to make up for that quest run I missed, to start the Friday night out, I logged on with Hamllin (Level 16 Fighter) and I took him out through Ataraxia’s Haven to hunt down some more rares and slayers.  After I moved Hamllin through Ataraxia’s Haven, I then logged on with Erdrique and took him for his slayer run out into the Red Fens.  Erdrique is much further along that Charlock and is well over 5,000 slayers.  It shouldn’t take him much longer to get to that 7,500 slayer mark.  I then too Erdrique into the Cannith Challenge Extraplanar Palace: Dragon’s Hoard and then I took him into the Lordsmarch Plaza and the Harbor to complete the quest Blockade Buster on elite.  I called it a night after the I took down the Droaam blockade.

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Charlock dealing with the sahuagin in the ruined Raveneye village in the Red Fens.

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Hamllin preparing to fighting the duergar.

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Erdrique coming on down to defend the kobolds in the Dragon’s Hoard.

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Erdrique battling the forces of the Droaam in the Stormreach Harbor.

Now Saturday was a little unusual for me.  I had originally planned this Saturday to be a date night with my wife.  My wife had to work during the day and because I was able to get ahead in my yard work and my chores, I took the liberty to log in sporadically throughout the day on Saturday.  As a result, I ran through the Cannith Challenge Lava Caves: Colossal Crystal five times with Erdrique in order to gather more ingredients.  Those were the only runs I was able to knock out on Saturday.

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Erdrique watching the kobold do his work in the Lava Caves.

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Erdrique dealing with a drow rogue in the Lava Caves.

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Erdrique waiting for the kobolds to collect the Progenitor crystal.

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Erdrique moving to take care of the rude cloud giant.

Sunday, like Saturday, I was able to log in throughout the afternoon while my wife was at work.  This time I took Erdrique through the Cannith Challenge Extraplanar Palace: Labor Shortage.  During some of these runs, I grouped up with Okhamel who was doing the same type of thing me, logging in throughout the day between chores.  All told I ran seven iterations of the Labor Shortage challenge.  Later that night, I had a change of pace.  I logged on with Suppply (Level 9 Paladin) and took him through The Depths of Darkness on elite and then I grouped up with Khameltoe and Clairique and we knocked out Stromvauld’s Mine and Stormcleave on elite.

 photo Erd battling the mephits and flenser in Labor Shortage_zpsycdju8yc.jpg

Erdrique dealing with the mephits and ice flenser in Labor Shortage.

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Erdrique and his owlbear dealing with the animated armor in Labor Shortage.

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Erdrique and Okhamel fighting the powerful spectral dragon in Labor Shortage.

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Erdrique and Okhamel making their way through Labor Shortage.

 photo Erd tripping Salteskhka in Labor Shortage_zpsj8ynwbke.jpg

Erdrique taking down the raksasha in the Extraplanar Palace: Labor Shortage.

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Suppply preparing for the undead in the Depths of Darkness.

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Suppply and his group fighting a scorpion in Stromvauld’s Mine.

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Suppply andh his party making themselves known in Stormcleave.

It was a fun weekend overall.  I only need to make my way through Kobold Island: The Disruptor now and I will have enough ingredients to upgrade that Spare Hand and Ring of the Stalker.  Hopefully I can make time for that this week because I would like to have that upgraded.  I hope everybody else had a fun weekend as well.  Thanks for reading everybody and happy hunting in the challenges!!

An Active Weekend, Quest Runs June 12th to June 14th

I must say that this past weekend was a relatively busy weekend for me in DDO.  As usual, the main focus was completing some quests and activities with Erdrique (Level 11 Rogue), but I did get a chance to play two other characters as well, Larrs (Level 21 Bard/Fatesinger) and Charlock (Level 14 Fighter).  My weekend actually started by taking Larrs through a morning slayer run of the Ruins of Gianthold prior to heading out to work.  Larrs is still diligently working on his 1,500 slayer mark out there for the Stormfist horde.  After he reaches that, I might transfer his slayer efforts to one of the epic zones, probably the King’s Forest.  Later that afternoon, I took Erdrique into House Deneith and picked up the Sentinels of Stormreach chain.  I then headed out to the Searing Heights to tackle the first quest of that chain, the Bargain of Blood.  The Sentinel Series was one of the last set of level 7 quests I needed to finish up on.  After a short break, I relogged on with Erdrique and leveled up from 10 to 11 and then I upgraded my Ring of the Stalker and my Spare Hand as well as upgrading a number of my other items by pulling things out of true reincarnation cache, purschasing some upgrades from the auction house, and by crafting upgrades with the Cannith Crafting system.  I did this while chatting with Hellsdemon and when I finally finished I headed off to complete the rest of the House Deneith Sentinel Series by completing the Black Loch, Storm the Beaches, and The Tide Turns on elite.  All of those runs went smoothly, besides my hireling cleric getting stomped on a couple of times.  I then closed out the night by running through Sorrowdusk Isle for some slayers and rares.

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Larrs taking the time to preform on the run in the Gianthold.

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Erdrique enjoying taking the First Mate for a Trip in Bargain of Blood.

 photo My Upgraded Ring of the Stalker_zpsb7i7xkz0.jpg

Erdrique is eager to upgrade his gear!!

 photo Erd fighting off the zombie pirates in the Black Loch_zpsqfbifnj3.jpg

Erdrique exploring the mysteries of the Black Loch.

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Erdrique doing his best to Storm the Beach!!

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And Erdrique thought he was done with the zombie pirates when he went through the Black Loch.

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Erdrique closing out the night with a run through Sorrowdusk Isle.

On Saturday, I logged on with Erdrique and got up with Hellbanisher and Twotoe and we completed a number of quests.  The first quest we completed was Taming the Flames on elite.  Again, one of those few level 7 quests I still needed to put away.  After we completed Taming the Flames, Hellbanisher switched characters to Helldemons and we then hit up the last two level 7 quests I needed, Tear of Dhakaan and Gwylan’s Stand.  But runs were extremely productive, even with being a couple of levels higher than the quest (level 9 compared to level 11).  Once we finished up with Gwylan’s Stand, Hell decided to call it a night but Twotoe and I continued on.  We first went to the Anvil Fire Inn, and entered the quest Stromvauld’s Mine.  We must have gotten a nice random pull because all of the engineers and gems were relatively easy to find, making the quest easy to get through.  We then decided to take the on the next level 8 quest in there, Stormcleave.  By the time we finished up with that, I was ready to call it a night myself.

 photo Erd fighting some elementals in Taming the Flames_zps4kszhnwt.jpg

Battling the elementals in Taming the Flames.

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Erdrique going to work in Tear of Dhakaan.

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The Crypt Crawlers coming across some spiders in Gwylan’s Stand.

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Erdrique and Twotoe making their way through Stromvauld’s Mine.

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Erdrique making his way through the outskirts of Stormcleave Outpost.

On Sunday, I logged on with Erdrique a couple of time throughout the day to do some more runs through Sorrowdusk Isle.  He is now working on his last slayer mark (1,500 slayers) and only needs one more rare encounter (the specter).  That night I logged on with Charlock and was joined by Khamels and we ventured into Faithful Departed and then headed over to the Caverns of Korromar and completed those quests on elite (they were some of the last level 8 quests Charlock needed).  Now Charlock is ready to continue with Threnal.

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Erdrique looking at the ruins above in Sorrowdusk Isle.

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Charlock slicing through some scorpions in Faithful Departed.

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Charlock being stoned in Caverns of Korromar :).

All in all, a pretty nice weekend indeed.  I hope everybody else had a great weekend as well.  Thanks for reading and happy hunting!!

My First Thoughts on Heroic Monster Champions

With the release of Update 24 Heart of Madness last week, a new version of some of our favorite enemies were released called monster champions.  The intent of monster champions is to make running quests on hard and elite difficulties, both hard and elite, more of a challenge.  The DDO developers are using monster champions in an effort to acknowledge comments that with recent game changes, and prior to changes, that DDO has become to easy.  By putting in this new system into the game, the DDO developers were hoping to give the player base more of a challenge when they run quests on hard or elite difficulties.  I was quite interested in seeing how this would pan out myself and I thought it might be a nice wrinkle into the game.  I typically do run the majority of quests on heroic settings on elite with my characters (besides on my Premium account because none of those characters have unlocked the ability to open quests on higher difficulties on initial play through).  However, as for epic quests, I typically do those on normal or hard, as I know my limitations with my characters :).

Whisperdoom's daughter champion photo Whisperdoomsdaughterchampion_zps8fd82580.jpg
Hamllin facing off against a Whisperdoom’s Daughter champion.

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Hamllin encountered a number of champion Spawn of Whisperdooms.

Well, one thing I have to say, I don’t think I have seen nearly as many concerns and comments on the forums about a single mechanical change in game since the change to the armor class system.  The DDO General Forums have exploded and a new thread was developed in the Official Discussion Threads to help steer all of the comments.  The comments spread throughout that focused thread and throughout the rest of the General Discussion Forums have been quite wide and varied.  Many people enjoy the new difficulty while a lot of others have had some serious concerns.  There have been reports on the forums where monster champions have been killing characters in “one shot” and that they seem to be spawning more than they should.  The different views expressed on the forums have been quite polarizing with those in favor of the addition to monster champions basically commenting that those who don’t like the change shouldn’t be running quests on hard or elite.  This of course has created some heated discussions on who should be able to run quests on what difficulty.

Hamllin dealing with a dark fang champion in Whisperdoom's Lair photo HamllindealingwithadarkfangchampioninWhisperdoomslair_zps207abc71.jpg
Dealing with my first monster champion, a darkfang spider in The Spawn of Whisperdoom.

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Hamllin challenging a champion Kar-thul enchanter (ogre mage).

Before I started to read any of these threads, I decided to see how these monster champions would work.  From what I can tell from the release notes and discussions on the forums the total number of monster champions you face off against in a quest should be about 10% of the total number of enemies.  A regular monster or mini-boss (orange named enemies in general) has a chance to be spawned as a monster champion.  Mini-bosses have a higher chance of becoming a monster champion.  Monster champions will receive a few buffs to make them more challenging and these buffs can differ over time.  Monster champions will also see an increase in the damage output as well as a heavy increase in their hit points.  Some of the buffs I have seen so far included blur, true sight, extra elemental damage, and attacks to make you vulnerable to different effects.

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Kanndar dealing with a championed Lieutenant Kapsht.

So what are my thoughts?  Please keep in mind that my perspective is from somebody who plays more on the heroic side of things than on epic and that my heroic characters are not fully geared or maxed out builds.  The first character I used to take a look at these enemies was Hamllin (Level 13 Fighter).  Hamllin has one heroic past life.  I took him and a hire into the quest, The Spawn of Whisperdoom.  The Spawn of Whisperdoom is a level 11 quest on normal making it 13 on elite.  I figured this would be a good quest to test the monster champions because it has a large number of enemies, the enemies you face are varied from melee, to ranged, to caster types, and the quest is quite lengthy and spaced out with various densities of mobs.  I was kind of worried when the first enemy I encountered was actually a monster champion darkfang spider (monster champions can be identified because of the crowns floating above them).  In my initial attacks on it though I was surprised by a few things.  First off I was able to land Shattering Strike on it without a problem.  I was concerned that with the monster champions that our tactical feats and enhancements would become limited, if not useless, against them.  However, I didn’t find this to be the case at all.  After I landed the Shattering Strike, I then landed a Stunning Blow and although it had over 1,500 hit points it still didn’t last to long.  Further on into the quest, I came across a number of other monster champions.  Running through ogre village I came across a few monster champion mystics, impalers, and melee ogres.  They did indeed have more hit points and blur but overall they didn’t really impact my game style.  I was able to hit the monster champion ogres with Stunning Blow, Trip, Sunder, and Shattering Strike the vast majority of the time.  I was more worried about the Whisperdoom Daughters (orange named black widows) and the orge magi.  The majority of the daughters were crowned making them monster champions.  Although I was worried about them, they didn’t really cause me many problems, especially with Stunning Blow.  That, and for some reason, a large portion of these enemies were actually spawned with reduced hit points.  It looked they had already been beat up on before I got there, I’m sure that is a bug and I noticed a few others reported the same thing.  It was like their hit point were expanded but they weren’t filled to max health for whatever reason.  The ogre mages were also not bad.  I was expecting on getting hit with some other more dangerous spells but they seem to use the same abilities that the regular ones did.  I also noticed that I received a few more random chests from the Whisperdoom Daughters champions.

Whisperdoom's daughter champion low hit points photo Whisperdoomdaughterchampionwithhitpoinsalreadylost_zps382802d1.jpg
This Whisperdoom’s Daughter gave me advantage by starting out with reduced hit points.

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A Spawn of Whisperdoom champion also giving me an advantage by starting out with reduced hit points.

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Hamllin facing off against an ogre mystic champion.

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Hamllin hitting up a Kar-thul Impaler champion.

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Receiving a reward from his hard work, chest from a mini-boss champion (Whisperdoom’s Daughter).

After that run, I logged in Kanndar (Level 11 Paladin) and took him and a hire out into Storm the Beaches on elite.  Kanndar is a first lifer with so-so gear.  Now Storm the Beaches is a level 7 quest on normal making it a level 9 on elite.  So in this instance, Kanndar was slightly higher than the level of the quest but not so much so to get an experience penalty.  While running through Storm the Beaches, I encountered a variety of monster champions: wildmen, wolves, Blood Tide archers, three orange named mini-bosses (First Mate, Lieutenant Kapsht, Boatswain Jared), and a few others.  As with Hamllin, Kanndar was able to land Stunning Blows, trips, and sunders.  He didn’t experience any issues here.

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Kanndar laying low a champion Blood Tide archer.

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Kanndar landing a stunning blow on a champion Blood Tide archer in Storm the Beaches.

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Kanndar knocking some senses into this island wolf champion.

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Kanndar taking on a wildman champion.

Boatswain Jared Champion photo BoatswainJaredchampion_zps56e743bd.jpg
Boatswain Jared has also been championed.

Upon that completion, I logged on with Charlock (Level 13 Fighter, first life) and took him into Stormcleave Outpost on elite.  Stormcleave is a level 8 quest on normal making it a level 10 quest on elite.  Charlock’s level was on the high end of the level range for this quest.  However, I was curious to see how his paralyzing bastard sword would work on these monster champions.  I faced off against a number of different champion types (not surprising because of the large variety of monsters in Stormcleave).  I was surprised to see that a monster champion scorpion had a much higher number of hit points than a monster champion minotaur.  I was also surprised to see that my paralyzing bastard sword was surprising efficient at holding and stopping the monster champions dead in their tracks.  Also, the majority of the orange named enemies turned out to be “championed” as well, including the minotaur lord Helos.  Even with this, I had no problems.

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Chalrock paralyzing a champion minotaur in Stormcleave.

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Figures Lord Helos would be championed.

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Scorpions are bad enough without being championed.

My last run was with Erdrique (Level 10 Monk, 36 point build, multiple past lives) who took on the quest Free Delera.  That quest is level 9 on elite.  I encountered a number of the monster champions in here as well.  I believe two of the soul lock guardians were “championed” and one of the dropped a quest.  But like in the other quests, these champions didn’t really hinder me that much.  I was able to trip skeleton champions and still hit them with my special attacks.

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Erdrique taking on a Skeletal Arcus champion in Free Delera.

Overall, I haven’t found the monster champions to be that much of a detriment so far to my questing.  After the initial runs I described above, I ran a few other quests and didn’t encounter many issues.  I did suffer a humiliating defeat in The Last Stand in the Red Fens with Erdrique but this was more because I prepared rather poorly and not because of the monster champions.  As long as we are able to still land our special attacks to nullify these powerful enemies then I think questing will be normal for me on the heroic side of things.  Another thing that I noticed, is that those enemies that are being stealthy that happen to be championed are visible to the players because of the crown icon indicating them as a champion.  I have read some reports that some of the monster champions in the VON flagging quests have been quite devastating on heroic hard and elite.  I also don’t know if scaling has any effect on the monster champions as I hit these quests up with my character and a hireling, making me wonder if these champions were naturally scaled to be weaker than in a regular party.

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Kanndar taking on the First Mate champion.

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Hamllin dealing with another Spawn of Whisperdoom champion.

In any case, I have to admit that the change hasn’t effected me that much.  I do like the chance to get extra loot and extra guild renown but I’m curious to see how things will be changed in the coming weeks, as I’m sure some tweaks will be made.  Thanks for reading this long and drawn out article everybody and I hope everybody has some fun times hunting down these champions!!