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Gallery of Shadowfell Monsters and More!

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Lore Lounge: Wheloon, Shadowfell, Tressyms and Owlbears

Wheloon

  • Sometime after the Spellplague in 1385 DR, the Purple Dragons determined that a large number of Whelunians were secretly Shar-worshipers, and the current king of Cormyr feared Wheloon was a front for Netherese spies. The king decreed that it be transformed into a prison city, all those inside sealed in by brick and magic and prisoners for life. Suspected worshipers of Shar, Shadovar sympathizers and spies, and any others who offended the crown were put over the wall and left to survive on their own. By 1479 DR, Wheloon was a dark prison city, no longer a trade hub, and the streets were controlled by gangs of thugs.

  • Reading List:

    • Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide – for dms
    • Forgotten Realms Player’s Guide – for players
    • Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave – hardcover super-adventure for characters from 4th to 8th level. The adventure pits the heroes against the evil agents of Shar and Cyric as they plot to corrupt the worship of Mystra, goddess of magic. The adventure begins in Cormyr, but the characters must also travel to the Plane of Shadow to thwart the villains’ machinations.

Shadowfell

  • The Shadowfell, sometimes simply called Shadow, is a parallel plane from which necrotic energies and shadow magic stem. It exists as sort of a counterpart to Feywild in the sense that it is a reflection or “echo” of the Prime Material Plane except that it is a bleak, desolate place full of decay and death.

  • The Shadowfell was created in 1385 DR when Shar, having successfully arranged Mystra’s death, bound the energies of the Negative Energy Plane with the Plane of Shadow. Since then, the Shadowfell has existed as a center of Shar’s power as well as a transitory place for dead mortals on their way towards judgment on the Fugue Plane.

  • Reading List:

    • Manual of the Planes 4th edition
    • Keep on the Shadowfell – A D&D adventure for characters of levels 1-3. A ruined keep that was once a bastion of good in the realm. This keep overlooks the Shadow Rift, a dark scar in the world that was once a gateway to the Shadowfell but has been dormant for many years. Now, an evil cleric of Orcus, Demon Lord of the Undead, seeks to re-open the gate.
    • The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond – boxed set is for Dungeon Masters interested in taking their heroes on excursions to the Shadowfell, as well as Dungeon Masters looking for a sinister setting in which to run thrilling urban adventures.

Tressym

  • In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, the Tressym is a magical beast. They are winged cats, about the size of a housecat, with a pair of feathered, leathery wings extending to a 3 foot wingspan. They have owl-like faces, and a fluffy ball of fur and feathers at the end of their tail.

  • They are highly intelligent and sometimes kept as pets and familiars by good wizards. In the wild, they can befound in warm and temperate land. They are chaotic good in alignment. They speak Common and their own language, tressymspeak, which is based on purrs and growls

  • Villagers in Eveningstar feed tressym and try to prevent the worst of their vandalism and aerial catfights. At the same time, they try to prevent any large-scale or magically-assisted trapping and capturing of them. The locals value tressym for their owl-like rodent control in the fields.  In the wild, they can be found in warm and temperate lands

  • Reading List:

    • Blackstaff (novel) by Steven E. Schend – There’s a Tressym called Nameless and is a familiar to a character in the book

Fantasy/Sci-Fi Trope: Introduce creatures that are just like familiar everyday animals  or animal hybrids) that the audience will recognize but in a fantasy (or sci-fi) setting, and give them funny names.  Speaking of which….

Owlbears

  • An owlbear is depicted as a cross between a bear and an owl, which “hugs” like a bear and attacks with its beak. Gary Gygax created the owlbear, which was inspired by a plastic toy made in Hong Kong along with other monsters such as the rust monster and the bulette. It was first introduced in a 1975 Greyhawk supplement
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Temporary DDO Dev Tracker

Without a Dev tracker its a harder to bring you DDO news. Here’s a list of links leading to Dev latest forum posts individually. Some devs don’t have posts linked to their profile; I suspect its because of issues with the new forums.

Aside

Crunchy Bits: DDO Doublestrike Mechanics

Doublestrike / Doublestike

Doublestrike gives you a percentage change to take an additional attack with your main hand melee weapon. If you have a 6% double strike then you will get a bonus attack roughly 6 out of 100 attacks. It does not impact ranged attacks, spells, off hand attacks, or attacks using special animations (like cleave, trip etc…) It will affect special attacks using standard animations such as smites or ki strikes.

The number of sources of doublestrike is small compared to many other bonuses you can get, but there are still quite a number of them in the game. Stacking rules for doublestrike have never been entirely verified by devs. It seems that differently typed double strike bonuses will stack and same type bonuses will not. Untyped bonuses only stack if they are from a different source, aka a weapon will stack with a feat will stack with an enhancement, but two feat bonuses without types will not stack. If they do not stack then you should get the largest bonus.

You can see your current double strike bonus by hovering over the BAB icon (its red) in the character sheet Stats page.

Types of Doublestrike in DDO

So lets go over the different sources of double strike and group them by what should not stack and order them from largest to smallest

Mystery Shield Bonus - An untyped 4% for using a shield

Competence Bonuses - Fighter Weapon Alacrity capstone (fighter 20) 10%

Sacred Bonuses - Paladin Zeal spell (level 14 pally) 10% (no scrolls, self only, temporary)

Insight Bonus - Monk Windstance  2.5%/5%/7.5%/10% levels 1/6/12/18 respectively

Morale Bonus

  • Shield Mastery / Improved Shield mastery  3%/8% when using a shield
  • Timeblade (longsword) 3%  /  Epic Timeblade 6%
  • Hellstroke Great Axe 3% / Epic 6%
  • Cutthroat’s Smallblade (shortsword) 3% / 6% with tier 3 upgrades
  • Swashbuckler (shield)  3% / 6% with tier 3
  • Alchemical Weapon (any) Teir 2 Martial Air 6%
  • Antipode, Fist of the Horizon (handwraps) 6%
  • Bard Warchanter 2 Inspire Recklessness song 5% (level 12)
  • Way of the Sun soul set bonus effect +6% (temporary)
  • Epic Spare hand (belt) 3%

Untyped type Class Feats/Enhancements

  • Natural Fighting 6%  (druid level 9) can be taken up to 3 times for 18% total
  • Ranger Tempest 3  (level 18)  5% when wielding two weapons
  • Rogue Opportunist feat  3%  (level 10)

Alchemical Bonus

  • Fabricator’s Bracers with Combat Infusion 5% (temporary)

Untyped epic Destinies  (seem to stack with non epic sources)

  • Sentinel : Legendary Shield Mastery 6% when using a shield
  • Legendary Dreadnaught: Lightning Mace 15% bonus after Vorpal strike for 6 seconds
  • Grandmaster of Flowers: Hail of Blows 3%
  • Grandmaster of Flowers: running with the Wind 3% (in wind stance)

Profane Bonus

  • Shadowdancer: ShadowTraining 4 3% (certain light weapons only, temporary)

So who can have the most double strike?

Druids are king of full time double strike, but shield base builds, monks and two-weapon fighters are in the top ranking for doublestrke efficiency.
Shield based

  • +18 if you take three levels of natural fighting: 18%
  • If you use a shield you can get +8 from shield mastery (another two feats) and the +4 base shield bonus giving you 30%
  • Legendary shield mastery stacks for another 6% taking you to 36%
  • +3 Twist Hail of Blows for
  • 39%

Monk Multiclass

  • +18 for natural fighting
  • +5 for second tier wind stance
  • +3 from Hail of blows, and +3 from Running with the Wind
  • +6 from an item for
  • 35%

Each could squeeze in temporary bonuses from Shadowndancer and Combat infusion for a short term max of 47% though it would be quite unreliable to get it and only last seconds.

After the druids you would have shield using fighters and paladins, then non druid wind monks.

Anything you can do that bumps attack speed will also enhance double strike. Monk unarmed and Druid wolf forms both have faster than usual attack animations, Rogues and Fighters can get combat speed boost enhancements (also available in the dreadnaught line).

Ultimate double strike build?  Probably a half orc Druid with a splash of rogue and or fighter wielding a shield in wolf form.

Thanks to the DDOWiki and SteeleTrueHeart for their hard work in collecting and testing information about Doublestrike!

Aside

Festivult Cookies & Cakes for Dec 2012

winter beholder

Cookies and Cakes are back for 2012 Festivult! Here are the list of cookies and cakes for this year’s Festivult in December 2012. I’ve included the whole list, including the three new cookies and the four updated ones. My favorite is still the Taken Cookie, followed by the Kobold Cookie.  What are your favorites? Enjoy!

Icon Name Spell
New Cookies
cookie Spinner of Shadows Cookie Enveloping Swarm
cookie Lolth, The Spider Queen Cookie Lolth’s Blessing: +2 Profane attack and damage, +3 Profane PRR, +5 Profane Unviersal Spell Power. You can buy this cookie with winter motes at the alter.
cookie Spiderweb Cookie Spiderskin
Updated Cookies & Cakes
cookie Lamannia, the Twilight Forest Jelly Cake Vigor
cookie Shavarath, The Battleground Jelly Cake Enchant Armor
cookie Queen Lailat, the Marilith Cookie Blade Barrier
cookie Suulomades Cookie Shocking Weapons
Festivult Cookies
cookie Arraetrikos Cookie Meteor Swarm
cookie Beholder Cookie Disintegrate
cookie Black Abbot Cookie Stoneskin
cookie Black Abishai Cookie Remove Fear
cookie Blue Abishai Cookie Blur
cookie Green Abishai Cookie Neutralize Poison
cookie Hezrou Cookie Infernal Power
cookie Red Abishai Cookie Protection from Energy: Fire
cookie Succubus Cookie Mass Charm Monster
cookie Velah, the Red Dragon Cookie Cometfall
cookie Warforged Titan Cookie Titan’s Grip
cookie White Abishai Cookie Fire Shield (cold version)
cookie Xyzzy Cookie Bee Breath
cookie Stormreaver Cookie Call Lightning Storm
Kobold Cookie Kobold Cookie Wondrous Power: kobold jumping powers & a purple crystal. Used in Collection Challenges.
Lord of Blades Cookie Lord of Blade Cookie Wondrous Power: Adventure Area Slayer Boost 10% for 30 min
Madusa Cookie Medusa Cookie Flesh to Stone
Taken Cookie Taken Cookie Wondrous Power: it will make you look “Absolutely Fabulous”
Toven d'Cannith Cookie Toven d’Cannith Cookie Radiant Forcefield
Festivult Cakes
cookie Daanvi, the Perfect Order Jelly Cake Defender of Law
cookie Dal Quor, the Region of Dreams Jelly Cake Wondrous Power: Diseased, but gain some spell points afterwards
cookie Dolurrh, the Realm of the Dead Jelly Cake Death Ward
cookie Fernia, the Sea of Fire Jelly Cake Fire Shield (fire version)
cookie Irian, the Eternal Day Jelly Cake Sunburst
cookie Kythri, the Churning Chaos Jelly Cake Hound of Chaos
cookie Mabar, The Endless night Jelly Cake Wail of the Banshee
cookie Risia, the Plane of Ice Jelly Cake Ice Storm
cookie Syrania, the Azure Sky Jelly Cake Jump with Feather Fall
cookie Thelanis, the Faerie Court Jelly Cake Prismatic Spray
cookie Xoriat, the Realm of Madness Jelly Cake Otto’s Sphere of Dancing
Aside

Crunchy Bits: Armor Class and You

In Update 14 there were dramatic changes to the way armor class works in DDO. I’m going to try and explain how it works and more importantly how you can use the new system to your advantage.

Lets define some terms :)

  • Physical Defense: Anything that protects you from attacks by weapons.
  • There are now five types of physical defenses in DDO
    • Damage Reduction: This defense reduces damage you take by a fixed number. It does not generally stack and there is often a means to bypass it by the use of special damage types.
    • Physical Resistance: Is like damage reduction but instead of a fixed number it reduced damage by a percentage.
    • Miss Chance: This is a percentage chance that a monster will miss you with an attack. Three common types of miss chance are Dodge, Concealment, and Incorporeal states.
    • Fortification: This is a percentage chance to avoid taking critical hits.
    • Armor Class: Armor class represents how difficult it is for you to be hit. When you attack you must overcome your opponents armor class on your attack roll to land a hit.

When you are attacked, this is what happens:

  1. First you check miss chances: Each type is checked separately. If the attacker rolls below the miss chance they may continue the attack, otherwise the attack ends.
  2. The attacker makes an attack roll which is compared to armor class
  3. If the attack roll is higher than your armor class you are hit
  4. If the attack roll is not higher but is within a certain range, you take a grazing hit
  5. If there is a hit or grazing hit the attacker rolls damage (grazing hits do far less damage)
  6. If the attack is a critical hit, fortification is checked. If the attacker rolls over the fortification value, damage is multiplied by the attackers crit multiplier.
  7. Next up the damage is reduced by the Physical Resistance lowering it by a percentage.
  8. Finally any damage reduction that is not bypassed by the damage type is applied reducing the incoming damage by a fixed amount.

Attack vs Armor Class in Detail

Armor class is the most complicated of the defense types. In classic D&D if your attack roll is a larger number than your target’s armor class you hit. Because you roll a Twenty Sided dice in D&D there is a window in which a change in armor class or attack will matter. If you have a +40 to hit there is an AC window from 42 to 58 where adding or losing AC will make a difference. Anything outside of that is either a near automatic hit or automatic miss. A roll of 1 is always a miss and a 20 is always a hit so it’s never impossible or completely automatic.

In DDO this caused problems because there were so many ways to raise AC and attack values that the windows were much smaller than the possible character values. This led to AC becoming either something you hyper specialized in, or something you completely ignored. It made things very hard for the developers to balance well.

The new system is quite a bit more complicated. A 1 is still always a miss, and a 20 is still always a hit, that part remains unchanged. But how you roll to hit is rather different. There is now a formula that gives you a percentage chance to hit:

(To-Hit+10.5) / (2*AC) +.25
(players only and only if proficient with weapon)

If you and a monster are roughly equal, you will have a 75% chance to hit them, and they will have a 50% chance to hit you.

When you roll your d20 the system rounds the % value into a 1-20 with 1 being 5% and 20 being 100%. 19 is 95%. This way you can still roll a d20 to see if you hit but under the hood it’s no longer a linear relationship.

As to-hit rises above AC the chance to hit increases fairly rapidly, but as AC exceeds attack the chance to hit decreases in a bell shaped curve, steeply at first but then ever more gradual. Each point of AC gives a bit less of a benefit from the last one. Also as you the numbers overall get larger, the effect of each point of attack and AC diminishes so the “window” from hit on a 2 to miss on a 19 gets larger and larger.

The result of all this is that its harder for you to get your AC up to where you almost never get hit, but it is much easier to get it to where you will get hit only 30% of the time. The higher level you are, the more remote the extremes are.

Lesson to take away

  1. Increasing your armor class will generally benefit you with getting hit less often until your AC gets well above the attack of the monsters you are fighting. If you can get more AC on your character it is probably worth doing so, but if your AC is already high and you would have to make a sacrifice in some other area to get more AC, it likely isn’t worth while.
  2.  Hitting monsters is incredibly easy now and sacrificing accuracy for AC or accuracy for damage is almost always a good trade off. With a half-way decent attack score you will only rarely miss except on a 1.

So how do you get more AC?

An exhaustive list could take hours. AC can be had from numerous sources and the rules about what AC bonuses stack and what ones don’t can be complicated.

Every character starts at a 10AC baseline and this value is then modified up and down by various effects.

Armor 101

The most classic source of AC is Armor, indeed this is the origin of the term. What armor you wore in the original D&D determined what your Armor Class was. In DDO it is but one of many sources, but it is often the largest for most armor wearing characters.

There are three important stats on armor that determine its AC benefit. First is its Armor Bonus which is its base AC value, second is its enhancement bonus which is added to the Armor Bonus. Finally there is Max Dex Bonus. This tells you how much of your dexterity bonus you can add to your AC while wearing the armor. It also sets the maximum amount of dodge you can benefit from. Any value bigger than your actual dex bonus or dodge value is not going to help you.

Armor comes in three categories: Light, Medium, and Heavy. Light armors give the least AC and heavy armors give the most, while max dex is the reverse with light armors offering the most and heavy armors the least.

Each weight of armor has two types, for instance leather and chain are the two types of light armor, scale and breast plate are medium, while half plate and full plate are the heavy armors. In each category one of the armors will have a higher AC rating while the other will have a higher max dex value.

Furthermore each armor weight also comes in 5 different ranks based on a stat called absolute minimum level. The base rank starts at level 1 and goes up to 3, the second rank is from 4 to 9, the third from 10-15, the fourth from 16-21 and the fifth from 22 to 25. (shields have slightly different level breaks)
The higher the rank the more armor it provides.

Of course not every character can wear any armor they like. Arcane casters can suffer from arcane spell failure in most armors and characters cannot benefit from evasion wearing medium or heavy armor. That and armor proficiencies may limit your choices. Wearing armor you are not proficient in will incur a hefty attack penalty equal to the armors armor check penalty so that may also be a limiting factor.

Docents

Warforged body types and docents are now a bit different too. Docents don’t have types or categories, but they do have the 5 ranks just like armors do based on absolute minimum level.

The body types determine max dex rather than the docents themselves and they also determine the effective weight of the armor. Adamantine body is treated as heavy armor for all intents and purposes. Mithral is considered light armor except that the protection it provides is closer to traditional medium armor. Composite provides protection about like light armor, but it is actually treated as not being armor at all for class abilities and so forth.

Legacy armor

Random loot armor that was in the game prior to update 14 is legacy armor and is always the lowest rank of armor no matter its minimum level. At low level it is still comparable but at high level it is almost always worse than the new armors. Most named armor was upgraded and doesn’t have this problem.

Legacy armor can also come with the mithral and adamantine metal properties. Mithral used to be very valuable because it increased max dex values, but now it is only found on legacy armors which are always the lowest rank. Thus they are only meaningful for low level characters any more. Named armors still may have these properties and they work fine there, but otherwise they are no longer relevant.

Armor Take Away

  • Don’t wear armor that interferes with your class abilities
  • Wear armor with a minimum level close to your character’s level
  • Wear armor with a high enhancement bonus
  • Wear armor with a max dex bonus that is as close as possible to your dexterity/dodge bonus

Shields

Shields are very much like armor. There are different types of shields (buckler, light, medium, and tower) as well as 5 ranks based on absolute minimum level. And they also have enhancement bonuses. The heavier the type and the higher the rank and the bigger the enhancement bonus the more AC they will provide.

Tower shields are the only type that has a maximum dex value and thus the only type that can restrict your AC bonus from dexterity.

Also like armor, shields can create arcane spell failure for some classes and not everyone is proficient with all types of shields and using one without proficiency can give you attack penalties.

Unlike armor, using a shield can negatively impact your damage output by disabling two weapon fighting and two handed fighting. Still, if you want to maximize AC, a shield is often a must have item and the two best prestige enhancement lines for defensive characters gain extra benefit from using shields. Remember that defenses only matter if you are getting attacked a lot. That means either solo/small group play or if you are a party tank. Otherwise maximizing your DPS is likely going to benefit your group more than our turtling up.

Tank type characters have to balance defenses and offense because agro is based largely on the damage you deal and the agro amplification you have. Shield mastery helps a little with damage output and shields with +10 seeker on them are also a nice bonus, but your best bet is to crank up on the threat amplification through items, class abilities and the intimidate skill.

Crafting armor and shields

When crafting armor and shields you want to break down an item of the rank you want to end up with. Too high and you can’t use it, too low and you won’t get the maximum armor value. Armor blanks made before update 14 is always the lowest rank and therefore likely not of much value to you any more.

AC bonus types from other items and spells

AC bonuses from other items come in a range of types. Deflection is a common type that comes from the shield of faith spell, protection items, and various other sources. Natural armor is another common AC bonus that comes from barkskin and various items. There are also sacred, profane, alchemical and other AC bonus types. Generally they don’t stack if they are of the same type but there are exceptions which are usually toned in the item or spell description.

Anyone serious about AC will be looking to get at least a 5 natural armor and 5 deflection bonus to AC and as much of the others as you can muster.

AC bonuses from character abilities

A number of DDO character classes, enhancements, feats, racial abilities and so on can contribute to your armor class. Most class based ac bonuses will stack with whatever gear and spells you may have unless they are spell like powers. Of the lot, the Fighter’s Stalwart Defender and Paladin’s Defender of Siberys offer the biggest defensive bonuses. Stalwart is very focused on armor use, while Sybaris is less so. Monks also have some AC bonuses to offer but they all are dependent on not using any armor or shield. While other classes do have something to offer in the AC arena, none can match these three.

Miss chance and dodge

Let’s quickly talk about miss chances. Dodge is the new kid on the block here. It used to be that dodge was an AC bonus that was unique in that it always stacked. In the new system each point of dodge is a 1% miss chance. Its also capped by the max dex of your armor and has an absolute maximum of 25%. Rogues and Barbarians receive dodge from their uncanny dodge ability now, and monks can get some dodge bonuses from water stance. The Dodge, Mobility and Spring attack feats also grant a few points as do all the old equipment items that used to have AC dodge bonuses. Its not easy to cap it out at 25% but it is possible. That said most armor wearing characters will have a lower limit. There are also some short term boosts that can take it above the normal maximums.

There are also concealment and incorporeal miss chances. Each type is checked separately so some of each is great, but bonuses of the same type don’t stack. The displacement spell is the best concealment bonus at 50% but can be bypassed with true seeing. Displacement is self cast only, but you could UMD scrolls, or even take the elven dragonmarks to get it on a non-caster. Incorporeal is very rare, only found in Ninja Assassin, Shadowdancer, and Pale master and is bypassed with ghost touch which is rarely found on monsters.

Miss Chance Take away

Take any opportunity to get some miss chances for your character of each type you can. Dodge can be the most work to get and the least rewarding but don’t turn your nose up at it. At higher levels each point of AC will have less impact but each point of dodge is always worth +1% defense.

Physical resistance rating

Physical resistance is another entirely new mechanic. It reduces the amount of damage you take from physical attacks by a percentage. The PRR value is not the percentage of reduction. Like armor class it has a kind of diminishing returns system. The formula is

1 – (.99^PRR) x .65

The upshot of this is each point of PRR you have is worth a bit less than the last. At around 50 PRR you are getting about half the rating in reduction 26%. From there it gets a bit worse and you will need to reach 150 PRR before you can reduce damage by half.

Because its a percentage system, at low level you often will only be reducing damage by a point or two, but at high level you get harder and the reduction will be a larger absolute number.

PRR comes from a few sources. Armor grants some PRR based on the weight of the armor and your character’s base attack bonus. Heavier armors give more than lighter ones. There are also a number of prestige enhancements and epic destinies that grant some PRR with the defender lines being the stand-outs. Shields don’t grant PRR directly but in combination with the shield mastery feats and some of the prestige enhancements they can contribute a good chunk.

Damage reduction

This hasn’t changed much from days of old. It effectively stacks with PRR though the mechanic is very different. DR simply reduces the physical damage you take by a set amount. While there is no way to get around PRR, most DR can be bypassed with certain damage types such as silver, adamantane, magic, blunt and so on. DR will always list what types of damage bypass its effect. DR pretty much never stacks but if they bypass one source it won’t always bypass all of them so there can be a reason to have more than one source of it.

Grand summation

  1. Every character can benefit from defenses now so its squeeze it in wherever you can without sacrificing the primary mission for your character.
  2. If you are dedicated to good defenses you want to get as many different sources as you can. AC and PRR offer diminishing returns so if you have to choose, shore up your weakest defenses first.
  3. Against physical attacks heavy armors are generally better since they offer both AC and PRR and don’t need much investment in character dexterity.
  4. If you are currently using non-named armors and shields from before update 14, junk them and look for new ones. Avoid legacy armors on the auction house.
  5. If you want to be a real tank, go paladin, fighter, or possibly monk. Combinations of those with other things work as well.

 

Related Episode:  DDOCast 258

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Skein of Shadows Cover Reveal!

Skein of Shadows by Marsheila Rockwell

Continuing the story that began in The Shard Axe, Sabira finds herself drawn into an expedition into the Underdark, where she discovers drow intrigue and dire secrets.

Item Code: 49791000
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Format: eBook
AMAZON | BARNS & NOBLE | WIZARDS

 

Aside

Happy GM’s Day! And Remember Gary Gygax Day

GMs Day: March 4th

Yes, all you gamer geeks out there. March 4th is worldwide GM Day, a day where we recognize the hard work and dedication of our GMs. Our game masters who spend hours planning the dungeons our adventurers crawl through. Those brave souls that let us use those uber-kewl new feats we found in some little-known supplement. Those dedicated individuals who, even though we have destroyed their detailed storylines over and over, continue to try and bring us a story anyway.

In 2008 of the same day, “The Orginal DM” Gary Gygax passed away. In the 1960s, he created an organization of wargaming clubs and founded the Gen Con gaming convention. In 1971, he helped develop Chainmail, a miniatures wargame based onmedieval warfare. He co-founded the company Tactical Studies Rules (TSR, Inc.) with childhood friend Don Kaye in 1973. The following year, he and Dave Arneson created Dungeons & Dragons, which expanded on his work on Chainmail and included elements of the fantasy stories he loved as a child.

GM’s Day is the brainchild of the folks at Enworld.org, once of the most popular gaming forums on the net. What started as a little net appreciation for GMs turned into an annual event. It’s an excuse to buy your GM a bribe so he or she won’t smite your character outright. Pamper your GM with a gift of games, beer, snacks, and/or hug!

Gary Gygax

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Oh-nos! Anne failed her STR Check!

Hey DDO & DDOcast fans!

I failed my Strength Check this week and took 1d10 damage from an evil moving box this week. My cleric told me to rest as much as I can while my back heals. This means no pushing, pulling, lifting, driving, typing nor mousing (too much) until the swelling goes down.  Sadly this means no DDO nor DDOcast for me this week.  We have a lot of things lined up, but we’ll just have to save them for the following week, and present them to you live on Sat, Feb 11th.

Thanks to everyone who’ve already wished me well! And thanks to everyone for understanding, we’ll be back soon enough with your favorite DDO news! How could we not with U13 just around the corner this Feb 22nd!

In the mean time, enjoy this little cartoon by our friend Stan! over at http://www.10x10toon.com

Sincerely,

Anne

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Annual X-mas Wizards of the Coast Layoffs

Dungeons-and-Dragons-logo

Today, Wizards of the Coast eliminated my position. I have unfortunately been let go, after more than 20 years of employment with TSR/WotC.

Rich Baker @ Wizards Community Blog

Rich was at the forefront of Wizards of the Coast’s range of Forgotten Realms and core Third Edition D&D accessory books, and author of several novels set in and below Faerûn. He also answered questions about the Forgotten Realms at the Wizards website’s forums – see the below external links. He also headed design on the 4th edition D&D iteration of the Dark Sun Campaign Setting, along with numerous other credits for that edition of the game.

Also rumored to be let go was Steve Winter who joined TSR in 1981 as Games Editor.

Right on schedule WotC:

You can follow the Dec 2011 Layoff discussion at ENWorld’s Forum.

Nearly an annual trend ever since Hasbro acquired Wizards of the Coast in 1999 and it looks like there are not many of the old D&D guard on the permanent payroll.

 

Aside

Festivult Cookies & Cakes for Dec 2011

winter beholder

Hey DDO Fans and DDOcast Listeners,

Here are the list of cookies and cakes for this year’s Festivult in December 2011. I’ve included the whole list, including the five new ones and the updated ones (only two really). Enjoy!

Icon Name Spell
New Cookies
Kobold Cookie Kobold Cookie Wondrous Power: kobold jumping powers & a purple crystal. Used in Collection Challenges.
Lord of Blades Cookie Lord of Blade Cookie Wondrous Power: Adventure Area Slayer Boost 10% for 30 min
Madusa Cookie Medusa Cookie Flesh to Stone
Taken Cookie Taken Cookie Wondrous Power: it will make you look “Absolutely Fabulous”
Toven d'Cannith Cookie Toven d’Cannith Cookie Radiant Forcefield
Updated Cookies & Cakes
cookie Mabar, The Endless night Jelly Cake Wail of the Banshee
cookie Shavarath, The Battleground Jelly Cake Blade Barrier
Festivult Cookies
cookie Arraetrikos Cookie Meteor Swarm
cookie Beholder Cookie Disintegrate
cookie Black Abbot Cookie Stoneskin
cookie Black Abishai Cookie Remove Fear
cookie Blue Abishai Cookie Blur
cookie Green Abishai Cookie Neutralize Poison
cookie Hezrou Cookie Infernal Power
cookie Queen Lailat, the Marilith Cookie Burning Blood
cookie Red Abishai Cookie Protection from Energy: Fire
cookie Stormreaver Cookie Call Lightning Storm
cookie Succubus Cookie Mass Charm Monster
cookie Suulomades Cookie Freedom of Movement
cookie Velah, the Red Dragon Cookie Cometfall
cookie Warforged Titan Cookie Titan’s Grip
cookie White Abishai Cookie Fire Shield (cold version)
cookie Xyzzy Cookie Bee Breath
Festivult Cakes
cookie Daanvi, the Perfect Order Jelly Cake Defender of Law
cookie Dal Quor, the Region of Dreams Jelly Cake Wondrous Power: Diseased, but gain some spell points afterwards
cookie Dolurrh, the Realm of the Dead Jelly Cake Death Ward
cookie Fernia, the Sea of Fire Jelly Cake Fire Shield (fire version)
cookie Irian, the Eternal Day Jelly Cake Sunburst
cookie Kythri, the Churning Chaos Jelly Cake Hound of Chaos
cookie Lamannia, the Twilight Forest Jelly Cake Spike Growth
cookie Risia, the Plane of Ice Jelly Cake Ice Storm
cookie Syrania, the Azure Sky Jelly Cake Jump
cookie Thelanis, the Faerie Court Jelly Cake Prismatic Spray
cookie Xoriat, the Realm of Madness Jelly Cake Otto’s Sphere of Dancing
Video

DDO Tutorial Videos!

From of Hikaro of ThePCGamingVortex, great for new players! You can subscribe to his channel here!

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DDO Store Has a new Look!

New looks and new features!

  • Add to Cart buttons have been added that will allow you to add items to cart without leaving the current page. 
  •  ‘Quick Buy’ has been added to enable instant purchasing of a single item, eliminating the need to go to cart to confirm. 
  •  Recent Buys are now on the Store homepage so you can quickly locate your personal favorites. 
  • Category arrows are now in the Browse menu to visually indicate that a sub-menu will appear when clicked. 
  •  List View is a new viewing option that allows you to view over 7 items at a time when browsing.
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DDOcast on G+

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DDOcast does have a G+ account, but that could all change in a moment’s notice! Still, you can find it here: http://profiles.google.com/ddocast

Got caught by the Google+ name police: To use Google+ features (including Picasa) you have to be an individual not group nor multiple persons. You also have to use a real name if you get caught violating naming policies! And Google will ask for photo ID validation. (You can read more on Google+ Naming Policies here.)

Why: apparently Google says their naming policy cuts down on spam and phishing via social networks. So we thought it was worth the effort to work and keep a G+ account for DDOcast.

What does it mean for DDOcast: we’ll have to operate this G+ account under a single name. We decided to do this under Sig’s name. He does have another personal account though and really the only way you’ll tell the difference is by the profile icon.

How we will use G+: we’ll still post DDO news items and DDOcast announcements! so don’t worry about that! We’ll do that for as long as we can! We’re hoping that Google+ will have a way for organizations to have G+ accounts, but that also may mean that we’ll have to provide proof of “Doing Business As”.

The Caveat: Should G+ change its policies to say “no, you can only have one G+ account” then this will explain why we aren’t posting here! You can find our Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/DDOcast and our Twitter Feed here: http://twitter.com/#!/ddocast And of course our web site at http://www.ddocast.com

Here are our personal G+ accounts, though we can’t promise talk about DDO if you follow us! +Anne Trent and +Sigfried Trent

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Day 3: PAX Prime 2011 Media Mix

A picture is worth a thousand words. Enjoy!

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DDO_BLACK_DRAGON Key Art.jpgddo_u11_cannith_013.jpgddo_u11_cannith_012.jpgddo_u11_cannith_001.jpgddo_u11_cannith_002.jpgddo_u11_cannith_004.jpgddo_u11_cannith_009.jpgCIMG0004.JPGCIMG0014.JPGCIMG0012.JPGCIMG0003.JPGCIMG0015.JPGCIMG0018.JPGCIMG0020.JPGCIMG0037.JPGCIMG0044.JPGCIMG0045.JPGCIMG0053.JPGCIMG0056.JPGCIMG0057.JPGCIMG0054.JPGCIMG0055.JPGIMG_0692.JPGCIMG0042.JPGCIMG0067.JPGCIMG0002.JPGPrizeDrool.jpgLineLines.jpgButtonSwag.jpgLinesLinesLines.jpgMoreLines.jpgMoreCrowd.jpgLine.jpgPlayingArcadeGames.jpgPrizesMustBeHad.jpgFreeFoods.jpgSkyrimHumanMale.JPGSkyrimArgonian.JPGSkyrimTurkeyLegs.JPGSkyrimVan.JPGLineRoom.jpgPreyAlien.JPGIMG_0702.JPGBF3.jpgBioshockInfinity.JPGBL2.jpgCIMG0068.JPGCIMG0072.JPGCIMG0069.JPGCIMG0073.JPGCIMG0074.JPGCIMG0084.JPGCIMG0085.JPGCIMG0086.JPGCIMG0087.JPGCIMG0088.JPGCIMG0089.JPGCIMG0090.JPGCIMG0093.JPGCIMG0095.JPGCIMG0097.JPGCIMG0098.JPGCIMG0099.JPGCIMG0101.JPGCIMG0102.JPGCIMG0105.JPGCIMG0106.JPGCIMG0107.JPGCIMG0108.JPGCIMG0109.JPGCIMG0117.JPGOrcs-Must-Die.jpgCIMG0049.JPGCIMG0047.JPGCIMG0032.JPGCIMG0036.JPGCIMG0033.JPGCIMG0034.JPGCIMG0035.JPGCIMG0038.JPGCIMG0040.JPGCIMG0041.JPGOrcs-Must-Die.jpgCIMG0043.JPGGCI_Booth.jpgpax-line.jpgParamountTheaterPAX.jpgCIMG0114.JPGCIMG0026.JPGCIMG0019.JPGCIMG0030.JPGCIMG0029.JPGCIMG0039.JPGCIMG0077.JPGCIMG0038.JPGHandHeldKiosks.JPGNoseBleedSeatsParamount.JPGGreenScreenFun.JPGDnDBooth.JPGRiftsBooth.JPGWordOfTanks.JPGGW2.JPGCIMG0100.JPGHandHeldKiosks.JPGRageBooth.JPGDnDBooth.JPGCIMG0101.JPGpip_5331_0010.jpg[/pe2-gallery]

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Day 2 PAX Prime 2011 Report: Expo Hall Adventures, Interviews, and Artificers

Day 2: Expo Hall, Uber Mice, Interviews and Boardgames!

In the morning we left to have brunch at the Hurricane Café at Keith Baker’s Eberron meet’n’greet along with Marcy Rockwell and her hubby, Alex.  I’m really a shy person, so I didn’t talk much and Sig was far more interested in food! Marcy formally introduced us to Keith, who is a really nice guy and very talented. I’m very glad to have met him; maybe I’ll have more courage to talk next time.  We set up an appointment with Keith to interview him later that day, and then quickly left to take Marcy to her book signing at the Turbine/WB booth.

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We wandered the Expo Hall looking for new games and boy did we find games! After all, we had to make up for lost time due to yesterday’s camera machinations.

  • Desus Ex, which is now on sale on Steam
  • Borderlands 2
  • Fire Fall
  • Orcs Must Die
  • Batman Arkham City
  • Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. SKYRIM! OMG SKYRIM!
  • Guild Wars 2
  • Gotham City Impostors
  • Bioshock Infinity
  • Prey 2

SkyrimHumanMale.JPG SkyrimArgonian.JPG PreyAlien.JPG BL2.jpg BioshockInfinity.JPG BF3.jpg IMG_0702.JPG CIMG0086.JPG Orcs-Must-Die.jpg CIMG0041.JPG CIMG0047.JPG CIMG0049.JPG CIMG0035.JPG GCI_Booth.jpg CIMG0032.JPG CIMG0037.JPG CIMG0034.JPG CIMG0036.JPG

Sig also walked away with an Uber gaming mouse that looks like it could double as a futuristic death weapon. This one is called Cyborg R.A.T. 9 gaming mouse by MadCatz. This mouse is rated the best mouse by Maximum PC magazine because of its highly customizable body and programmable buttons. Sig got it for that same reason why MaxPC loved it.

Following that, we had a quick interview with Keith Baker who was just fresh from viewing Artificers and the Lord of Blades raid in the DDO section of the WB/Turbine Booth with Fernando.  We also caught Marcy Rockwell signing her new book, The Shard Axe. While at the Turbine boot we saw a few people running the Crystal Cove test to win a DDO Lifetime Membership prize. It’s a 4 Player contest and the winners all get the Lifetime Membership. After Marcy was done signing her books at the booth, we met up again to do a quick interview with her.

We got to touring more of PAX areas, which took longer because it’s spread out over all floors of the convention center, the convention annex across the street, the Sharaton hotel to the west, and the Paramount Theater to the north.

Most notable area was the Paramount Theater: this year PAX did a smart thing for its main attraction events and took over the whole theater. The city actually blocked out a whole street just for the line for events at the theater. A freaking whole street just for A LINE! People tell me that the wait was up to 2 hours just to get in for these crazy super popular events.

The Convention center’s Annex is actually another building across the street and was taken over by Halo Fest and Table Top games run by Wizards of the Coast. Halo Fest is amazing! They turned a single floor into a museum of Halo and mini lecture hall. And of course there were kiosks where you could play all versions and variations of Halo.  Wizards took over 2 floors and dedicated one to Magic: The Gathering and the other to D&D. In the afternoon, we played a D&D encounter and The Legend of Drizzt Boardgame.

Floor Six of the convention center is where we found PC-Consoles-Tourny-Freeplay in addition to Mini-Dealers/Expo Hall and the PAX 10 indie games booth. I was really looking forward to trying out all the PAX 10 games, but I twisted my ankle trying to avoid crashing into other people. We did find a strange booth called “Church Games,” which I think is a religious gaming group (I think I’ll leave this one to Sig to explain).

Somewhere along the way I sprained my ankle, and decided to call it early and head home to play some video games.  I was kind of sad to miss my friends I had planned to see at PAX, and I really wanted to take a look at the Guild Wars 2 panels and attend the party.  There’s always next year though!

SkyrimTurkeyLegs.JPG SkyrimVan.JPG   LineRoom.jpg pax-line.jpg  ParamountTheaterPAX.jpg CIMG0094.AVI CIMG0038.JPG CIMG0055.JPG CIMG0057.JPG CIMG0056.JPG CIMG0117.JPG CIMG0012.JPG

Artificers & Update 11 Dungeons and Dragons Online News

By now you’ve probably heard that Artificers will not be free nor “earnable” through favor for VIP account holders. This is true and Fernando did tell us this during our interview with him.  I can totally see why people would be pretty annoyed by this and feel like they are being strong armed into paying for something they would otherwise expected to get for free (such as the Monk class or Favored Soul). Now if you are budget minded, then waiting 3 or more months for a new toy while others play for it will suck a lot of the fun out of the thing and leave you feeling cheated.

Sig himself didn’t like this idea, and he too knew fans would be up in arms about it. Design wise, it makes sense that Cannith favor would unlock the class, but making it unavailable when the class comes out is not a good call in his opinion – at least not long term.

I have to be honest with you though, I will be buying the Artificer when it comes out and had planned so before I won my Lifetime membership. When I heard the news, I wasn’t annoyed personally, but I knew many DDO fans would be. Both Sig and I have Turbine points saved up and the 1K points that we’ve gotten for a couple months have been great. We’ve easily gotten our money’s worth in points and it’s nice to unlock on all servers.

I also have to say that knowing both Tolero and Jerry now works for Turbine really changes things for me. There are fans of DDO working as employees of Turbine.  Jerry and his wife are expecting a new baby. Knowing that the money I spend on DDO will go to them in some way and that makes me really happy. Also meeting the talented developers makes me want to give money to them, so I can see what new stuff they can come up with. Heck, if I had enough capital I would invest in Turbine.

There’s a saying: “Its OK to not like things, just don’t be a jerk about it.”

Overall, I would say if you don’t like it let them know and why, but don’t be a douche bag about it.  Tell them what you were expecting as a DDO VIP player. Heck, tell them what you were expecting as premium or free player. But don’t forget to tell them what you did like about what they’ve done in the past and why you liked it. Perhaps if you ask nicely enough, they’ll do it again.

Stay Tuned for Day 3 Report!

Okay I think I’m done for now. I’ll do another write up tomorrow on PAX, for now I have to take some meds and put ice on my ankle.

Aside

DDOcast PAX Prime 2011 Schedule

Hey #DDOcast Listeners! Here’s our Schedule for PAX this year!

Friday, Aug 26th:

  • 10:30am – 11:30am >> PAX Keynote w/ David Jaff
  • 11:30am – 12:00pm >> At the Turbine Booth Hanging out while Marcy Rockwell signs her new book, The Shard Axe!
  • 12:00pm – 1:00pm >> Interview with Fernando Paiz on DDO on the WB/Turbine Booth #932
  • 1:30pm – 2:30pm >> IGN: GameScoop Live Podcast
  • 2:30pm – 3:30pm >> Roam the Expo Floor & Look for new games!
  • 4:00pm – 6:00pm >> DDOcast Meetup @ Taps Bar & Grill on 6th & Pine
  • 7:30pm – 8:30pm >> Movin’ On Up: How to Make It in Video games Journalism
  • 9:00pm – Late >> Warner Brothers/Turbine PAX Party!

Saturday, Aug 27th

  • 10:00am – Noon Brunch with Keith Baker!
  • 12:00pm – 1:00pm >> The Agony and Ecstasy of RPG Writing
  • 1:00pm – 2:00pm >> Guild Wars 2: Designing a Cooperative Experience
  • 2:00pm – 3:00pm >> Irrational Games
  • 3:30pm – 4:30pm >> The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • 3:30pm – 8:30pm >> Play a game with anyone
  • 9:00pm – Late >> Arena.Net GW2 Party @ their new pad!

Sunday, Aug 28th

  • 10:00am – 12:00pm >> Roam the Expo Floor & test out new games!
  • 12:00pm – 1:00pm >> G4, X-Play
  • 1:30pm – 2:30pm >> Pitch your Game Idea
  • 3:00pm – 4:00pm >> D&D Through the Ages
  • 4:00pm – 5:00pm >> Gaming is a Lifestyle
  • 6:00pm – 8:00pm >> St. Andrews Bar & Grill @ 7406 Aurora Ave
  • 8:00pm  - 9:00pm >> Try and record DDOcast Episode 231
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Stefan Pokorny: Sculptor for Gary Gygax Memorial!

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Just announced the sculpter this morning on the Gary Gygax memorial Facebook and Twitter feed.

Stefan Pokorny, founder and chief sculptor of Dwarven Forge, volunteered to sculpt the Lake Geneva memorial. Stefan is beyond excited – as a lifelong fan of Gary’s this is a dream come true for him.

Stefan is a medieval fantasy devotee, and an avid Dungeons and Dragons enthusiast. Stefan is a classically trained, professional painter and sculptor. He’s won several awards for his fine art sculptures.

His company, Dwarven Forge, produces some of the best miniature terrain ready to use in any table-top RPG or mini-game.

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Things to See-Do-Play at GenCon 2011

GenCOn 2011

So a number of our friends are going to GenCon, and though we can’t make it this year. I’d like to offer some suggestions on where to go and what events to see.  Read More below!

More…

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Cannith Crafting: A Live BETA

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Disclaimer: I’m going to brag a bit. You know, just to get it out of my system. And then I promise to move on to what I’m really trying to say. So if you don’t like bragging farts, stop reading here and feel free to skip down to the next section if it pleases you. :) So I’ve been playing MMOs for about 12 years now. I do not have enough fingers on my hands to count the number of closed betas I’ve been in. I consider myself lucky to be invited to test so many MMOs. Today, I don’t do much beta testing. I sometimes miss it, at other times I’m glad I have the free time to do other things.

Cannith Crafting: A Live BETA

So when Cannith Crafting was put on the live servers in a BETA format, it was the first time I’ve heard of a MMO subsystem being tested in such a fashion. It’s highly unorthodox to release sub-systems into the live arena, but in the case of the Cannith crafting system I can understand why, what they had to gain (and potentially lose) from doing it. There are also some interesting unexpected results from using this method of “live” beta testing.

The Reason: Not Enough Testers

In huge games like WoW (nearly 12 million Players) or even Aion (3 million players), the response to a beta-testing call-to-arms is astounding. Typically a percent of the player base are also closed beta testers and able to see content months in advance (but only after rigorous NDA agreements are signed). If we assume that only one half of a percent (0.5%) MMORPG’s population are close beta testers that would be nearly 60,000 beta players for a game like WoW. (1)

More…