Is this Twilight Calling or do I have the wrong number?

The Guild of Origin runs a program called Assassin’s Mark which is roughly a mob of the week type program designed to get people out and about, learning lots of stock mobs and filling up the donation room at the same time.

The participation rate is pretty decent and I myself frequently go run mobs for gear I’ve had for years but never run for (see my previous post about Belkira’s Hunt).

This time my adventure took me into Kontaur to find Carnifex Castle and hunt down the priest for some adamantium armor. This item is still a tanking standard due to it’s outrageous amount of AC. A new item with this sort of AC would probably have to be restricted to drow paladins or devout nephandi and even then would only be wearable on Tuesdays with a full moon visible at noon.

One nice thing about this adventure is that there is NO map on Rodpedia for Carnifex Castle, though the entrance is noted on the Kontaur map … and yes, I looked.  I looked because I was focused on the end goal of grabbing some plates and not enjoying the exploration of the area, not every day is a smell the roses day for me, I admit it … and sometimes, just sometimes, I find something I wasn’t expecting.  While googling to see if there was a classic map on some forgotten Realms website (and yes, I have found DOZENS of old Realms web sites out there) I tripped over what I believe to be the original author’s inspiration for the area: TSR’s Dungeon’s and Dragons module M3: Twilight Calling.  Rather than take Wikipedia’s word for it, I laid hands on this module and I can say this for sure… if this isn’t the original inspiration for the area, then perhaps a D&D writer stole from Realms!  Nearly all the elements from the Realms area exist in the module, but the module does contain a fair bit more than I’ve discovered in the Castle … so it’s certainly not a complete module rip off, I am by no means implying that.  I enjoy etymology … and this idea of rediscovering inspirations tickles that same fancy.

On my first foray I entered through the front door, warriors, mages and cleric in tow and had a tiny bit of a look around.  I encountered the guards who have some neat new avatar quality items, the chaplain, the mage and finally the priest.  For those who don’t know there is a small bonus to going to find an adamatium plate … a staff that casts room fireshield that can be used by a warrior.  It has a pathetic number of charges, often only 1, but if you are lucky enough to get one that has at least 2 charges on it you can start playing the recharge luck game and try to double up.  This is something we used to do a fair amount of to create jade cameos with hundreds of charges and so on … but that’s a different topic.

Just a short time fighting in the area taught me a great deal.  I found at least 1 dt on my way out (without hitting it … yeah, I know, whodathunk it) and an easy trip back to Darkhaven.  Since there is an abundance of use of the norecall flag in the area I’ll give you a hint, bring pass door and scry 🙂

Happy adventuring!

Learning to walk before you run …

So after all this leveling has been undertaken comes the inevitable “omg they’re naked!” series of runs.  For some people the run goes as far as “traffic Need a full set of gearzOr for my new ….” but for me it means checking storages and then making a tour of a variety of mobs.

One of the common stopping points is Justice.  Devout scales aren’t the most exotic of items but when you want a couple and don’t want to buy them it’s one of your pit stops.  I generally prefer to run with people, rather than on my own, so I brought along some friends from the Guild of Origin and off we went.  After about a dozen kills we had a pair of scales and that was enough of that 🙂

No sooner had I recalled than someone else suggested we go hit MoLS for some Shades of Light …. well … ok!  2 pair each later and it was time for supper.

These small party adventures are the bread and butter of running on Realms to me.  1-3 people and off we go.  There is a down side to this type of running and it was apparent to me last Thursday when we went as a large group to Corsterix.    Stolichnaya was doing his best as run leader and learned a ton about how things go (things go wrong, that’s part of running).  We managed a few kills on Corsty and more than a few deaths because we weren’t all clear on what we were doing and weren’t communicating ideas to one another.  I’m not blaming anyone because that doesn’t accomplish anything, I’m hoping instead that we all walked away and learned something about running together, I know I did.

So reminder of the day for me, when adventuring with a large group: keep yourself organized, help keep others organized and remember to have fun – the loot is secondary 🙂

Cheers!

Just a little prompting …

The Guild of Origin has been hitting Black Rose a little this week, mostly for acid blast practice before the next big Danbala snake hunt.  While we were up there I noticed some members  having a real hard time keeping up with the damage.

One thing we want to do in the Guild is to teach people skills that help them play the game.  It’s not about follow this template and do what we tell you, it’s about finding what’s giving you a problem and give you suggestions that you can incorporate into your own play style.

The particular problem here was that the runner was stacking circles … circling before the lag from the last circle was gone, which is the kiss of death on many thief runs because you can’t respond to incoming bursts of damage … like an acid blast 🙂

Chit chatting a bit about what had happened it turned out that part of the problem was a default fprompt.  Everyone needs to experiment to find a prompt that works for them but there’s some very useful tokens.  I’ll share one that I use for my thieves that works for me.

*||* (1743/1743h 766v |S|Kylara is perfect health)

Yep, that’s it.  Very, very basic.  Too much information is a distraction to me.  The first token is %L .. the LAG token.  When I circle I can see how much lag is left when my prompt updates.  Sometimes this means going config -gag so that missed attacks cause a little screen scroll, but in group fights config +gag is usually ok.

Next is current hp and max hp.  Max hp is there for a couple reasons.  First of course is that I don’t always remember what my max hp are from character to character or from build to build.  Gear swapping for a particular challenge keeps that number moving around.  The second is that it’s a great way to know at a glance if I’m disarmmed or if I’ve zapped.  Normally disarm triggers take care of some of this but if I’m blind when disarmmed or a hundred other little nuances I have a hint to look for a problem.

I could likely eliminate the movement token here, it’s very rare that I run out of movement on a flying avatar and I use guages to keep track of spell durations but it was a problem at some point so it’s still here but not so useful anymore.

Next is the style token, pretty self explanatory, even adepted you can miss style changes.

Finally %n is %c keeps an eye on the mob’s health so that I’m not wasting time glancing at the mob to follow the flow of the fight.

After sharing this prompt I was surprised that more than one person commented about not using the lag token or mob health tokens and that the prompt I shared had helped make the fights a lot easier for them, so that has inspired today’s post.  Make sure you check help prompt_tokens and customize the prompt to your own needs and happy hunting 🙂

Duke Luther’s hunt comes to an end.

Well the good Duke’s hunt has come to an end.  I have to admit, I enjoyed this quest even though I would have like to have seen more people active in hunting for mobs.

As we suspected a few of the mobs were pretty inaccessible to small parties … at least one mob was past the Onyx Golem for example.  By and large though quite a few were soloable or doable in 2’s and 3’s.  A shout out to Bratac and Theldan who were relentless in their hunting and also to Riddick, Juan and Chyort who all joined me for kills here and there.

As I said in a prior post, this quest got me out into the Realms fighting mobs I haven’t fought in all my time here.  Even though I’ve used purple pouches, shields of oak and soulslayers, I have never killed Malvos (who wasn’t tagged) nor Nazir (who was) … or for that matter Jedhian (no, not tagged either) … but on my tour through Cursed Lands I hit them all.

Similarly with Sauron and his Staff of Barad-Dur … a staple item I’ve never popped before this quest.  Many of the others are mobs that I wouldn’t run because their equipment isn’t an upgrade for any of my characters … the Devil in ToE … Zaka Mede in La Chute … and so on.  All in all a great tour of the Realms … it gave me a chance to make and use an immob mage, to experiment with several different styles of running and dragged me into some of “new” areas.

Many thanks to Belkira and all who were involved in the administration and design of the quest.

Seth’s Fortress and the Chaos Maze (or … My Adventures in Imm CR’ing)

I’ve very recently developed a desire to relearn how to map the Chaos Maze.  This is something I used to know back in the day but as a matter of course it’s been changed over the years.  I used to take the Guild of Druids to Magus of Evil (the equipment works well on an evil druid) and to Jade (who doesn’t need a couple of strands?).  As I’ve become the Second of the Guild of Thieves getting out to Jade seems more imperative.  After all, thieves need strands to make Falcon sets, in addition to their general usefulness on their own.

So I sat down last night, thinking myself well prepared.  I had some help and notes to guide me and I set out.  I share this litany of mistakes with you in part to remind myself any time I get thinking I’m good at this game of where I’ve been and also so that you can learn from my mistakes.  Had I been a little more careful, there would have been no need for an imm to CR 3 of my characters (thanks again Romani!!).

Did you know there’s no obvious way to get a Paladin to hide?  Me either!  The chaos hound just before the maze reminded me about it.  Ok, into the maze … you know … if you forget to hide someone and switch to another window, sooner or later you’re going to have to CR the first guy right?  Off with the weathered boots and on with the moccasins.

When I’ve seen people map the maze in the past I see them come back with a bunch of charmed chaos creatures in tow, put them all to sleep and away we go.  I’d love to know how they do it because every second or third creature my dominate would fail and I’d be fighting.  Sure, just relog … oops, there goes the charm on the other mobs.  Kill it off!!  Ok, not bad but you’ve got to watch that your alignment doesn’t drift too far or zapski!  Not only that, but if you kill them, you’ll be dealing with them next repop.  Not the end of the world, but one more thing right?  Why deal with them?  Well … false fires, pick up coins and finally a private room that will stop you from spamming in the directions once you have them.

Oh and since you’re on a vampire, keep an eye on that blood 🙂

Ok so they’re dealt with at last (you got the rats too right??) so now it’s time to try and figure out the path.  There’s a lot of room at this point to spin your wheels and get nowhere.  Especially if your clues about how to solve the maze are wrong.  Over the years the solution to the maze has changed but the overall idea has stayed the same.  It’s a testament to creativity in how this maze can be tweaked and re-tweaked and yet stay so similar.

So … after 3 or so hours of using the wrong directions, assuming that I was messing something up, I found out I was using the wrong method.  Seems my notes are at least a generation too told 🙂  Oops.  Oh well.  With a different method I was at the divine protector in short order.  Bitty boppity boo and the whole crew is through.  Down the hallway, past the slavering beast (thanks hide!!) and I’m parked outside the door of the Magus of Evil.  Ok, 1 am on a work night?  I’m told it was well past time to get to bed (thanks mom … hun!  No seriously… I’d just stay up and have to drag all day long, I can be bad that way…)

Ok fresh morning, and ready to go… hey .. log in and do a quick kill, catch a repop and then I’ll have an hour to map the maze.  Let me stop you right here.  This is the first BIG mistake.  No matter how good you think you are, no matter how fast you’ve mapped the maze in the past … this is a no supplicate area with lots of multi-avatar mobs.  MAP THE MAZE FIRST!!  If you’ve successfully mapped the maze twice in the last 10 years … read this whole paragraph one more time!

Magus of Evil is not a tough kill.  I’ve racked up lots of kills here, but never multi-solo.  Not to mention my auto-quaff triggers and such aren’t set up on all my characters.  Mistake number 2, take the time to prep properly.  Being over-eager to jump in and kill will usually end badly.  When my thief, paladin and warrior all dropped I really realized this.  I was of sound enough mind to flee my remaining thief and move back into the hallway with my mage and cleric.

Ok time to CR.  Well … I have a surviving thief, so I’ll relog him so Magus will not be aggressive and then I’ll loot the corpses.  Quit … oh wait!  Do you see it?  When you quit you break your group.  This rookie move is what put me behind the 8 ball.  I had a mage and cleric standing around doing nothing and who were not in combat.  Walk them in and cr, redistribute the weight as much as possible, drop potions if need be and recall… a nice calm response.  Remap the maze, pick up the potions and start over.  Quit… damn.

Well that tears it, I’ve got to get the maze mapped post-haste.  No time for charming, if I can get a char back through grouped I can dump stuff on the floor if I have to.  I almost made it too.  With 5 ticks remaining I had the maze mapped, now I still had to get re-grouped and get back to Magus’ room without another incident.  I might have made it… 5 minutes or so… 3 corpses…  If it had been 1 corpse I would have gone for it.  If I lost it … ok.  3?  Chickened out!  Now I had already checked if anyone was around in the order who could help out and when that failed I gave Romani a heads up just in case she was thinking of going for a relaxing coffee and coming back to the keyboard in 20 minutes 🙂  I’m grateful she hung around 🙂

The cost of the cr was a maddening voices and two essences of the kundalini … a bit pricey but much better than the alternative.  Given the Nasrs, Justices, rings of the ancient gods and other goodies in the corpses it could have been worse.  Some people were commenting on how expensive it was … immortal cr’s are not a right, they’re not hard coded like supplicating is … you rolls the dice you takes your chances.  If you don’t like it, there’s still 5 ticks …  I just wish it hadn’t been the same wearloc on two dev chars … my storage can re-equip one, but I had to loot one off another character.  That’s my only beef, two of the same item can be a bother.

So that’s it.  I did get two kills in on Magus bringing home a couple of sets of low cost gear.  I gained a ton of experience, learned a lot and it only cost me a moderate amount … a lot better than the dt’s I used to hit while learning!

… and Justice for all!

So after a week that’s mostly been about working on the item database (the drop downs will now update your equipment choices correctly and remove any items from your character that won’t work anymore) and trigger writing (reroller, adepting, a little levelling) a nice simple run seemed like a good chance of pace.

Juan and I went over and visited Justice for a few kills.  We did this IP1 just for simplicity shieldbashing and circling away.  We walked away with 1 devout scale and 3 neutral ones for a total of about 2m in repairs but more importantly we got off our butts and went and did something! 🙂

On our third kill I pulled a good old fashioned newbie move and walked into a fight with no sanc on.  Full tankset, no sanc.  *facepalm*  For Justice, this doesn’t matter even a little bit because she doesn’t tank swap unless you style up, but it’s a great reminder to me to pay attention!! 🙂

Hey Captain, not so rough!

After a long week of marking exams Friday morning finally gave me the free time to live up to a promise to visit Antall with my Arete ordermate Feitt.  Feitt’s a fairly new player, though he has had some family exposure to the game 🙂

Since I was on bright and early I went ahead and mapped the Shadowshark maze, and started trans’ing characters through.  If you’ve done this, you know that this can be 5 minutes or two hours and while I feel totally confident that this could be scripted, it’s a little nerve wracking to leave characters on autopilot in a shifting maze with aggro creatures (well, you know, if you move into the wrong room).  I had expected Feitt fairly early as we had made loose plans but he worked a night shift and I ended up waiting quite a while.  Turns out in all that time my main thief didn’t feel like trans’ing anyway so I used the time to start adepting things on my ranger and paladin’s slists…

If you’re waiting and you know it just spam armor, a-dept!  If you’re waiting and you know it just spam bless!

… well you get the idea …

We finally got together and got a messy kill in on McManus for a normal set and that was all I had time for given that it was pick your kid up from daycare o’clock. 🙂

Things to remember in the future … spelldowns are your friend, don’t hit McManus with a character with a heavy weapon and strength problem because poison and weaken are gonna ruin your day.

Cheers!

Adding some torque to my storages

Well after a miserable showing in Shadowport I figured it was time to dress my storages so that they can at least come and help out in the nomagic maze.

So what to dress them in right?  Why not start with a newbietar set and build from there, after all it’s a lot easier to get 20 golden torques from Cernunnos than it is to get 20 devout scales of the alpha and omega.

I have to admit it was fun to get into Dunhill for a while, it really is a signature Herne area full of great descriptions and interesting details.

With a 15 minute repop Cern’s a pretty easy stake.  He’s tunnelled to 2 but of course you can fit a 3rd in once you’ve killed him once. Lots of things like spiders and wolves around to stay neutral on after the kill (Cern’s devout).  If you’re a new av, this run is well within your reach, even solo, just watch how much you flee since he’ll heal.

I was tempted to go hit Gaelcath for the fun of it, but maybe another day, time to do some more work on the item database 🙂

To Lord Xy .. Xyr … X!

So I’ve spent a little time playing with reroll scripts, some time playing with an item database, some time playing with levelling triggers, sorting storages, re-learning skills … one thing I haven’t been doing much of is getting out and stretching my legs on a run.

Now normally when I used to run it was somewhere that I had been with someone else, learned the run and then gained confidence by leading runs there myself.  That meant that if I didn’t know a run, I generally didn’t do it.

Shadowport is an area that is full of runs I didn’t do.  It’s a long way from home, it’s almost all no-recall, there’s DT’s and really, I’ve always been able to buy the equipment cheap enough, so why bother?

So today I set out to smack Lord Xyranthas around.  Wiz rings are still cheap, so why?  Well precisely because I never have.  I made it as far as the no-magic maze before I managed to kill off my entire crew.  A few supplications (oddly some of my characters finally used up their pre-shattering favour by supplicating without a new deity!!) and some healing and walking back and we’re ready for take 2.  This time … leave the magic users at the gate!!  Well, it started getting better, but still, not enough hitters to drop the mobs fast enough to avoid flees, deaths and repops.  After about 2 hours of trying to find the right rhythm I called it quits for today and let Lord X gloat.  It only motivates me to dress my storage rangers and warriors up in some dev gear to lend a hand at the no-magic maze and even though I didn’t come home with anything to show for it, I had fun trying something that I’d never done before.

In my past adventures it always seemed to be about the destinations … get into a guild, then an order, run the big mobs to get the seth equipment, try to stockpile it to trade for clan so that I could be good at questing and start glorying on insane DR and HP …. so I could sit idle and afk but very buff in my boredom!  I’m not saying that I intended it to be that way, it just seemed to happen that way.  Even imming was more about getting the level than it was about having something I wanted to contribute.  It was a destination not a journey.

Today was about a journey.  It doesn’t matter that the equipment is pretty easily bought, it’s not about increasing the numbers on the score sheet.  It’s the fun in going out and getting that equipment to make the score sheet improve.  When I think back to the old runs, the Guild of Druid Danbala runs really stand out even above the Seth, Merlin and Sin Olsen runs because they were a lot of fun.  Sure, we never came home with a sight, but it’s still there waiting for us to go have some fun and maybe it’ll show up.

I think that this new (to me) perspective will help keep the game fresh for me.  There are many, many challenges for me to explore and I hope to meet more fun people who want to explore them with me along the way.

Cheers!

Rediscovering the Realms

Over the last few days I’ve been reading a lot of websites; RoDpedia, Nelkum‘s, Tokai‘s, GoV and Silverwolf sites all get a shout out here.

I saw that set items have come into the Realms and being a collector of such things in Diablo 2 and 3, this immediately caught my attention.  The Guise of the Falcon set in particular, with a piece of useful face equipment seemed like a reasonable goal to chase; designed to be handled solo and a not bad reward for the effort; the downside, coughing up 5 million gold coins and a jade strand!!

I’ve been getting to know some people over at Arete, one of them, Raja, was up for a run so I suggested we go hit Jade.  In short order Raja, Feitt and I schlepped over to Seth’s Fortress to layeth the smack down.  I managed to forget to switch styles and start quaffing heals when she switched the tank to me and I died on the 2nd kill, but c’est la vie.  Jade took a real shine to Feitt and loved on him for most of the 3 kills but kudos to him for staying alive on his first “big” mob run 🙂

Thanks guys!  Looking forward to doing it again soon.