Month: February 2017

Dungeons & Dragons Online – Character Creation

   The first thing you’re going to be tasked with in DDO is creating your character. Unlike most MMORPGs it is completely possible to make a very suboptimal character at this point; there are a lot of bad choices that can be made if you don’t know what you’re doing. I’m going to highlight the basics of a character for you, but be sure to read tooltips carefully during character creation!

   The character that we’re going to be creating is a cleric/fighter with a focus on survivability and, later on, a decent amount of ass kicking with a sword and shield. This build should be able to get you through all quests on Normal difficulty as well as most quests on Hard difficulty with a bit of care and planning.

   I’m going to be writing this portion of the guide in the same progression you would take on the character creation screen, so let’s jump in! I’m also going to be working under the assumption that you are playing on a non-VIP account.

Character Generation
   Select “Spell.” Your style is what determines the group of starting classes you can choose from.

   We’ll be starting play as a cleric so that you can get a handle on how spellcasters work in DDO. The cleric class also gives you a solid baseline for surviving the hardships to come. You’ll be roughly 4th level by the time you get off of Korthos (Tutorial Island™), so don’t worry about not being super effective in a fight right off the bad.

   Choose “Customize” down at the bottom. The paths provided will choose your feats and skill progressions for you. They are not even remotely optimal for later game survival and should be avoided.

   Choose “Human.” Why a boring human? The bonus feat! You’re going to need all the feats you can get in DDO and being a human is an easy way to get an extra one. You also get 1 bonus skill point every level (4 at 1st level) which will offset our having an otherwise low Intelligence score. Don’t forget to also choose your gender at this point. Now let’s get into the cruncy parts of creating a character!

The choices up to this point.

Assign Your Ability Scores
   The first true choices set before you are your ability scores. This is also a point where, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you can make a really, really bad character. We won’t be doing that, though. Since you’re a fresh account you only have 28 points to spend on ability scores. As you play more, you’ll unlock the ability to create 30 and 32 point characters. Should you choose to reincarnate at end-game, you’ll be able to upgrade a character all the way up to 36 points. For the time being, though, I’d recommend the following spread of ability scores:
   Str: 16; Dex: 12; Con: 14
   Int: 8; Wis 14; Cha 10

The reasonings behind the above spread is as follows:
   Strength: You generally don’t want to spend points to get an 18 in an ability score unless you’re a caster and you’re boosting your spell DCs (it’s harder to find spell DC increases than attack/damage increases). A 16 strength gives you a solid baseline for melee effectiveness. By the end of the game expect your strength to be sitting in the ballpark of 50 (a +20 modifier), or so.
   Dexterity: A dexterity of 12 gives you a +1 modifier to your armor class which is the most you’ll be able to get in full plate armor (which you’ll be wearing). As you gain levels, this cap will increase, but so will your dexterity. You’ll be wanting to reach a dexterity of around 26 (a +8 modifier) by the time you’re at end game.
   Constitution: Regardless of what you’re playing you always want a constitution of at least 14 (12 if you’re a -2 Con race). The bonus hit points from this will keep you alive in the early game and will add up quite nicely at the end of the game. You’ll want as much constitution as you can get at the end of the game; work toward having a constitution of at least 30 (a +10 modifier) by the end of the game.
   Intelligence: We don’t care about intelligence because we don’t need many skills with this build and none of the skills or abilities we’ll be using are based off of intelligence. All we’ll be investing in skill-wise are the Heal and Use Magic Device (see Assign Your Skill Points below). Intelligence isn’t particularly important for this character so don’t expect to get it much higher than 20 (a +5 modifier) without more investment than is probably worth putting into it.
   Wisdom: Our wisdom score determines the maximum level of spells we can cast (Wis – 10 = max spell level) and it also grants us bonus spell points. A 14 baseline will guarantee us a 17 wisdom by the time we have access to +3 ability score items which will allow us to cast all of the spells we’ll need access to. We don’t care about our spell DCs since we’re not an offensive caster, and the bonus spell points granted by having a higher Wisdom can be supplemented by feats instead. By the end of the game expect your wisdom to be around 26 (a +8 modifier) or so.
   Charisma: Generally a dump stat, charisma is of some small use to all characters in DDO that focus on the Use Magic Device skill, which we will. That being said, we don’t need a lot of it since it won’t be something of use to us until we’re nearing end game. A cleric’s ability to Turn Undead is based on Charisma, but tends not to be worth investing in unless you also intend on working towards the divine might enhancement. A charisma score of 24 (a +7 modifier) or thereabouts should be more than attainable by the end of the game.

Assign Your Skill Points
   Time to tackle skills! This character is fairly easy with regards to skill point assignment. You’re going to have eight skill points to assign at this point and each skill can take up to four of them. Since our first level is a cleric level, we’re going to be maxing out two skills: Heal and Use Magic Device (UMD). Here’s why:
   Heal: This skill helps you stay alive. Every point in the heal skill grants you a point of positive spellpower which increases the effectiveness of your healing spells by 1%. It doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up surprisingly quickly!
   Use Magic Device: Truth-be-told, this skill is going to be almost completely useless to you until you’re nearing the level cap. That having been said, it’ll be incredibly useful once you get there. UMD lets you use magical items (such as wands and scrolls) that aren’t normally usable by you. This will let you gain access to some incredibly useful buffs (like displacement) and utility spells (like teleport).

   For all further cleric levels we take we’re going to want to spend our points as above: one point into Heal and half a point into UMD.

   Beginning at 2nd level we’re going to begin multiclassing into the fighter class. This means you have a small choice in how to spend your skill points. Whenever you take a fighter level you’ll want to spend a skill point on Use Magic Device. Since UMD is a cross-class skill this will grant only a .5 modifier, but over the 6 fighter levels we’ll be taking that’s a total +3 modifier to the skill. The other skill point you acquire can be used on either a half a point in Heal (totaling out to +3 to Heal by 20th level) or a whole point in Intimidate (totaling out to +6 to Intimidate by 20th level). Intimidate is useful if you are going to be playing with friends and want to take on a tanking role. If you’re going to be soloing almost exclusively, I recommend putting your skill points in Heal and UMD.

   It’s time to choose our feats! Feats are what make characters unique, in a sense; they offer abilities that can’t be acquired anywhere else and are typically the source of a fairly decent amount of a character’s given power. At first level we begin with three feats: one for being 1st level, one because we’re human, and one class feat. Choose the following:
   1st Level Feat: Shield Mastery – Shield Mastery gives us several handy bonuses. Physical resistance is great because it functions as a percentile reduction to any incoming physical damage we take, and the 10 points we get for using a tower shield (which we’ll be using) is very nice. 3% doublestrike means that every attack we make has a 3% chance to hit the target twice — it’s not a high chance, but extra damage is helpful. The +3 bonus to melee power is a flat percentile damage increase to all attacks we make with melee weapons. Very nice!
   Human Feat: Improved Shield Bash – Improved Shield Bash gives us a 20% chance to automatically make an attack with our shield every time we attack (up to once per second). This will happen surprisingly often and the additional damage will never be unwelcome.
   Class Feat: Follower of the Sovereign Host – We choose the Sovereign Host as our deity not only because their favored weapon (the longsword) is decent, but because once we reach 6th level in cleric we’ll also gain access to an incredibly potent healing ability. We’ll be fighting with longswords primarily until much later in the game.

Review Your Spells
   Have a quick look at all the spells you’ll have access to in your spellbook. You won’t be able to cast all of them, you’ll have to choose a select few for that honor. I’d recommend grabbing bless, cure light wounds, divine favor, or night shield as soon as you have the opportunity to do so. You will begin play with only cure light wounds prepared but you’ll gain access to a rest shrine where you can prepare your other spells a handful of minutes into the tutorial. A brief overview of why you’ll want this selection of spells is as follows:
   Bless: This AoE buff grants you a +1 morale bonus to attack rolls and on saving throws against fear. The bonus to attack rolls is fairly useful early on. Past low levels you’d probably be better off preparing divine favor, though. Lasts for 1 minute per cleric level you possess (minimum 5 minutes).
   Divine Favor: This self-only buff grants you a +1 luck bonus to both attack and damage rolls. This spell is something you’ll want to keep prepared even into end game. Luck bonuses to stats are very uncommon unless you happen to have a bard as a travelling companion. Lasts for 6 seconds per cleric level you possess (minimum 30 seconds).
   Cure Light Wounds: Your first healing spell. You have to have one of these prepared at every spell level you have access to. It’s cheap and heals for enough to keep you running around if you’re careful.
   Night Shield: Nightshield grants a +1 resistance bonus to saving throws (scaling up to +3 at cleric level 9), which is not particularly useful past 1st or 2nd level. The more important thing that it does, though, is that it grants you immunity to magic missiles. This immunity will save your life later in the game. Always have this spell prepared and applied. Lasts for 1 minute per cleric level you possess (minimum 5 minutes).

Summary & Your Appearance
   Finally, you’re provided a quick look through all of your stats up to this point. Make sure everything is where it needs to be and then hit next where you will then be given the ability to customize your character’s appearance, name them, as well as choose an alignment. Alignment used to be much more important than it is now, but I would recommend you align yourself in some way that has Good in it. Once you’re done with all of the above go ahead and click “Create.”

   I’ll see you all next time where we being our journey through Korthos. Until then, run through the tutorial and poke around town a bit. It’s time to begin your journey!

Welcome to DDO!
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