How Do You Spell Death? B-E-H-O-L-D-E-R

Monday we challenged the third adventure in the Vault of Night series in DDO. I was playing Martinier de Pasolai. Marty is a split fighter/thief who first started out as a character in the obscure tabletop system known as Throwing Stones. That game represented your character as dice. Each side had one of three colors – red, silver or gold. Each color was worth one point in a stat – Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence. The idea behind Marty was that he was a melee fighter but his stats were balanced. I started with four dice, one each of a highly imbalanced and one balanced. So I had the same score in all my stats. Intelligence was used for initiative, so he had good initiative. After that, when I leveled up by gaining a new stone, I only added dice that had two sides of each color.

So he had a bit of rogue and even bard (mostly just persuasion) in him. I was surprised to find that, in that system, he was really good at counterattacking, and knocking people to the ground or disarming him. A typical fight would go thus: Marty would hold off three guys, Patrick (a caster) would befuddle, paralyze, or otherwise drop other opponents into a pit, and Lucy would charge around the battlefield, leaving grease spots behind her.

Often, when those three guys attacked Marty, they would all fall down. This was fun. But Marty’s personality was fun, too. He was a “gladiator” – think professional wrestling done with armor in an arena. Some of the fights were fixed and Marty was the guy to “make sure the public had a good time and didn’t cotton on to the idea that the outcome was, er, predetermined”

Anyway, this doesn’t translate to D&D or consequently DDO very well, but I have gone with – highish INT and CHA, split fighter/thief (5/5 after last nights ding!) . In DDO he is a trap mechanic with no spot whatsoever, and is good with Bluff (bluff pulling rocks!) He has Combat Expertise, which he loves, and Improved Trip, which he also loves, and Improved Feint, which seems less useful.

Also, he’s dabbling in Use Magic Device, and he has the Least Dragonmark of Finding. So he often picks up wands in dungeons that he can use.

All of this stuff is probably way off the “power curve”. He has very low hit points for a plate tank of his level, for example. If he was keeping and holding aggro, the sneak attack dice he gets wouldn’t be as useful. However, it is all to frequently the case in DDO that whatever target “cannot be influenced”. Say, all undead, for starters.

But Marty has multiple “attack modes”, and this came in useful last night, as we were doing The Jungle of Khyber, quest 3 in the Vault of Night series. With Marty were Karayasama (she who dominates), Lobilya, halfling thief, and Worstof, Phritz’ ranger (he of the repeating heavy crossbow).

The Jungle of Khyber isn’t a jungle at all, but a cave (the opening to it is in a jungle, though!). Our mission is to track down, and rescue Veil, a drow rogue who is being pursued by a construct from the plane of Law, an Inevitable. Last week, we wiped when we pulled too many of the drow at once. This is a problem the encounter intends to give you, as the drow wander around a lot, and the archers among them love to retreat back up the corridor, leaving you to chase them or be filled full of holes. Meanwhile their casters will drop Flamestrikes on you.

But we got through that stuff this week, with a little more care, a little more caution and some better firepower. Marty is very effective against casters, but he has to go into “caster mode”. He switches out his normal +2 adamantine plate for some studded leather with spell resistance. He sneaks up on said caster, trips him with a sneak attack, and proceeds to beat him mercilessly (sneak attack damage applies while they are prone!). This works pretty well. Also, I get my evasion, so some of their area attacks miss me altogether.

The next area brought us beholders. Ugh. We see a beholder up ahead, buff up and I charge. I engage it, but I’m dropped by a disintegrate thrown by the SECOND beholder who was down a side passage. Karayasama gets one of the beholders charmed, and it kills the other one. Since we have ninth level cleric hirelings along, I am rezzed and all’s right with the world. With the help of a minor globe of invulnerability, we circle the remaining beholder and drop it quickly when the charm comes off.

We manage the beholders in the next cavern pretty well, mostly by “popup” missile fire. My cleric hireling threw in a flame strike or two for good measure.

After that there were more drow, and those were pretty much ok as we avoided the worst of the swarming. Next is a giant chamber with a waterfall and a high cave with extra mobs and experience. I missed the jump to the extra stuff so stood below and watched as my comrades first killed one mob, then got slagged by the other. Fortunately they were able to get rezzes even as I had to take an paniced phone call from my daughter who is college regarding finances. It seems her first of the month deposit hadn’t showed up yet.

Five minutes later, we take a ride on a geyser and fight some more drow, and I get another phone call from said daughter to the effect of “never mind, the money just showed up.” Evidently, these things post at 11pm PDT.

The penultimate chamber (sadly, there’s really no way to score “penultimate” Words With Friends, is there?) is a killer. There’s a main chamber with a few drow guarding it. No problem, right? There’s a small room to the right with a rez/rest shrine. Onward, to the left is a door, behind which and around a corner lie three nameds: a drow caster, a troll, and a beholder.

The caster was easy. I bluff pulled him ran back around the corner to the main chamber. He chased me, fired a lighting bolt which seems to have missed everyone, and died to our combined fire.

The rest was not so easy. I attempted a bluff pull of the troll, but the beholder joined him. What ensued was 2-3 minutes of chaos as we battled the beholder and troll, died and rezzed at the shrine to do battle again. Sometimes the deaths were immediate. One time, I was hit for 200 points of damage, which I presume was from a Disintegrate. Under tabletop rules, we calculated that this meant that the caster level of that beholder was at least 17th. Or else there’s some kind of spell critical hit rule. This little intermezzo often resulted in the beholder sitting in the room with the rez shrine. Bad, but we managed to get him a little farther away.

The action hit a pause when we were mostly all dead and wondering what to do. Lobilya was back in the chamber where the nameds had started, at negative hit points. But the troll had followed her. We thought he might be camping her, but when she hit -10 and died for real, he didn’t move. So we had managed to split the two of them, after all.

Ok, we can get this now. We all rezzed and mobbed the beholder, who went down – after dealing out just a few more fingers of death, negative levels, and disintegrates. We then waited for all the death debuffs to expire. I had six, I think. For a minute after you rez at a rez shrine, you lose a “level” – hit points, and base attack bonus and saves, mostly. These don’t count concurrently, so I waited 6 minutes as each one expired and my hit point total slowly climbed back up to its normal, anemic (for a plate tank) level.

Then we fought the troll, who was also pretty easy by himself.

After that, The Inevitable was anti-climactic. Some of us had done it before, and knew enough to bring weapons that could actually damage him. I tried to hold him in his starting room with a shield wall, but after pausing briefly, he squeezed around me and started chasing … someone. Probably Karayasama. We kited him. Nobody died, I think. At one point he turned on my cleric hireling, who did not have the sense to run away and kite him. He hit her with some kind of area effect stun where he hit the ground. But she didn’t go down and he soon got bored and went back to chasing someone else. Meanwhile we are chipping away at him getting “glancing blows” often. Since he ignored me (Intimidate does not appear to influence him). I turned my Combat Expertise off, and just chased him like a wild man, poking him with my brand new +1 Anarchic Rapier.

Eventually he fell, and we gave a cheer, and logged off. It’s a long dungeon.