Another week off due to health concerns, but here I am again so let’s get this party rolling! Now that I have regaled you all with tales of things like my old garish fondness for neon greens and oranges and waxed enthusiasm about how much fun I’ve been having, it’s time to actually dig into the real point of my being here and talk about the game! I’ve found that current information is very difficult to acquire if you’re not already current – isn’t that always the case with matured games as writers come and go but nothing ever leaves the internet – so the best place to begin is at the beginning!
There are many classes to play in Dungeons and Dragons Online, with a wide range of play styles to choose between. I haven’t played even a fraction of the classes, and of those none have reached level 10, so I won’t go into the details of each one – especially when you consider that even within the classes there are wildly varying builds that cater to wildly varying styles of play. One of these days I really am going to work on a pale master wizard who is a melee monster. To make it less overwhelming, they are divided into 4 categories; Melee consisting of Fighter, Barbarian, Paladin and Monk; Spell consisting of Sorcerer, Cleric, Wizard, Favored Soul, Druid and Warlock; Specialists are Ranger, Rogue, Bard and Artificer; ok, ok, this fourth category isn’t so much a bunch of classes as souped up special races: Iconic races are Shadar-Kai, Purple Dragon Knight, Morninglord, Blade-forged, Deep Gnome.
Once you choose a class, I picked Bard here, you move on to further customization. All of the classes I’ve looked at have 3 choices if you want the game to handle everything for you, or you can move on to do everything yourself. I’m all for doing everything myself! I do like the warning that it is easy to gimp yourself doing it this way. Then it’s time to pick a race; Human, Elf, Halfling, Dwarf, Warforged, Half-Elf, Drow Elf, Half-Orc, and Gnome. I am of course most fond of the Drow, so will almost always choose it in any game that gives me the option and DDO is no different. Each of the races has its own benefits, however – for example, if I were to choose based simply on racial abilities I would choose the human due to its extra skills and feat.
Stats are where the trickiness begins. I heartily recommend putting in some research before statting since some abilities do have hard stat pre-requisites. The feat Combat Expertise, for example, requires an Intelligence of 13, and if you’re going to aim for a build that requires it, I definitely suggest leaving character generation with a 13 Int since it’s a basic foundation block for the feat trees that require it. If you want to go with a two weapon fighting style you will need to have a minimum dexterity of 17 to max it out – although you don’t need to begin with that, merely wind up there eventually through leveling bonuses or ability tomes. For many classes you can get away with spiking their main stat or two, but others like the Monk are dependent upon several. You always want as much Constitution as you can afford; it doesn’t matter how much damage you can do if you’re dead. The DDO Wiki is a great place to begin reading, all the veterans I’ve spoken with advise beginning there and I’ve found it invaluable during my play.
Character planning is a great thing in this game! One of the things that I am loving so much is how very many ways you can build a character, with all the class, race, and multi-class options there’s a great deal you can do. But much of it will require early planning due to hard requirements. There are character planning tools out there, I like fiddling with this one by Ron. It’s even already up to date with the gnome! I really do have lots of fun playing around with it to create various builds, builds that I will get around to trying someday.. surely.. someday… and the cool thing is that I very well could try out all the builds I want, on one character even! Reincarnation is a glorious, glorious thing. Happily for me, this character tool exists, otherwise I would find myself in the poorhouse as I respecced every time I could, to try out whatever new build struck my eye.
Once you’ve finished pointing your abilities, it’s time to move on to skills. I’ve discussed the usefulness of all skills before, but now that I have more time and research under my belt I do have some opinions beyond “it varies by class.” Hee. Tumble – take 1 point if you melee at all. I’ve found it makes that much of a difference, without it you sort of wobble and stumble around. I’m a great fan of Use Magic Device, and take as much of it as I can. Even a low percentage to use a healing wand or scroll is more healing than you would have otherwise had, and I have cheated death by faint margins on more than one occasion by ducking behind a pillar and UMDing my eternal wand of cure minor wounds to heal up one hit point at a time. Concentration is vital for all spellcasters and the monk. All casters want Spellcraft; the bard and a warlock with a fey pact wants perform. Bluff is great for sneak attack – it lets you backstab mobs in the middle of a fight. My rogue loves it, and likely so will yours. I love Jump and miss it when I’m playing a class without it, although it’s not on my list of ‘must have skills’ and you can get away with taking only 10 points as the Jump Spell can max it out.
Why do I love Jump? The same reason I love Open Lock and Disable Device – it lets me get into more places! I cannot stand seeing a door I can’t go through or a treasure chest I can’t get to. But if that doesn’t bother you, then there is little reason to worry about maxing out Jump.
Spot and Listen are up for debate. Veteran players will say they are not necessary; once you’ve run a mission a few times you know where everything is. I still like them though, identifying those invisible oozes from a distance so I can blast them before they get close is great. And of course, I’m still a newbie so don’t know where all the traps are. Heal and Repair are fabulous skills for the living and mechanical and very valuable when resting. My monk has Heal, and I definitely notice the difference at rest shrines. They also affect appropriate spell types, improving efficacy in their fields so clerics are improved by Healing skills, and any Warforged character will want Repair.
I’ve never used Intimidate, Diplomacy or spent enough time under water to notice a lack of Swim. I’m sure Haggle pulls a profit if you take it, but I’ve only put in a point or two so don’t know how much effect it has.
Thieves and Artificers: take as much Disable Device as you can. Open Lock is less important – you can sit and retry a failed OL roll as many times as you want, but a failed Disable has a chance to cause an explosion that leaves the
death star trap fully operational. Hide and Move Silently are of course lovely if you can take them. I think I’ve run through everything now! What’s the moral of my ramble here? Take UMD. Everyone take UMD! UMD for one and all!
This week’s subject left for very boring images, so enjoy a more interesting one from my explorations in the Temple of Elemental Evil. As always, check back next week for more, and feel free to post comments, flames or admiration in the comments section below!
I simply must throw in a bag guide.