Category: Dungeons & Dragons Online

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!
Read More Dungeons & Dragons Online – Character Creation

Dungeons & Dragons Online – Where to Begin?

   Since my first Dungeons & Dragons Online (henceforth DDO) video on my channel, I’ve received a fair few questions from perspective players wanting to to start in the game but being overwhelmed by the choices presented to them.

   DDO has a lot to offer and is probably one of the most unique MMOs I’ve ever played. It’s also one of the more complicated ones. This is compounded by the fact that the developers make changes without really detailing them and the early game is incredibly confusing to new players. I’m hoping that this post will help those folks out just a bit.

   If you’re looking for more mechanics-oriented information on the game you can’t go wrong with a trip over to the community-maintained DDOWiki where devoted players have been chronicling the game’s content for years. There are few better resources for the game than the wiki.

   All that said, let’s jump in!

Differences from Other MMORPGs
   Unlike pretty much every other MMO out there, DDO was originally based on actual pen and paper D&D rules. As such, most players will jump into it not knowing what they’re doing and make a character that they think will be cool but will, in reality, get dead really quickly.

   The prime example I can think of regarding this is the gear proficiency system. In most MMOs a character is limited to a set style of gear based on his class choice. That is not the case in DDO where, generally speaking, any character can wear any armor or equip any weapon so long as they are of the appropriate level. This leads to things like wizards running around in full plate (heavy armor) wielding a great sword and wondering why they can’t cast spells (heavy armor screws arcane spellcasters) and can’t hit anything with their sword (they probably didn’t allocate points to Strength so they can hit more easily, they likely aren’t proficient with the great sword, and they’re playing a class with a low base attack bonus progression).

Don’t be like this wizard! He’s not going to hit anything with that greataxe.

   In DDO a character has a list of proficiencies based on the classes (or feats, see below) that he takes as he gains levels. The aforementioned wizard, for example, is not proficient with any armor and with few weapons. A fighter, by comparison, is proficient with all types of armor (and shields) and most weapons available in the game.

   Attacking and Defending
   Assuming you’re not playing an offensive spellcaster, which I don’t recommend to new players, there are a handful of numbers that you want to get as high as possible as quickly as possible. They are the following:
   Attack Modifier: Your attack modifier is affected by a large number of things. As you gain levels your base attack bonus increases, you add your Strength modifier to attacks made with melee weapons, your Dexterity modifier to attacks made with ranged weapons, you add your weapon’s enhancement bonus to all attacks made with it, and that’s not even counting the bonuses granted by feats, buffs, and gear! Suffice it to say, you want your attack modifier to be as high as possible if you want to hit enemies! Using a weapon that you’re not proficient with grants you a -4 penalty to attack rolls but, on top of that, removes a flat +20% chance to score a hit that you have with a weapon you’re proficient with! Don’t use weapons that you lack the proficiency for!

   Armor Class: Compared to the attack modifier, your armor class is affected by a smaller number of elements. Primary sources of AC are the armor you’re wearing and the shield you’re carrying. Past that, expect to be picking up AC bonuses through magical jewelry (rings of protection and amulets of natural armor) as well as from a few feats and buffs. Do be wary of stacking rules (see below) so you don’t end up wearing a bunch of equipment that doesn’t play nicely together.

   One thing to keep in mind is that if you’re coming from a pen and paper background, attack modifiers and armor class numbers will be very high in DDO compared to where they are in a tabletop game. This is due to DDO using different calculations beyond just die rolls to determine hits and misses.

   Resistances: There are three types of resistances in DDO; energy resistance, magical resist rating (MRR), and physical resist rating (PRR). Their effects are as follows:
     Energy Resistance – Reduces damage from elemental forces (acid, cold, electricity, fire, and sonic) by a flat amount. Something that gives you Fire Resistance 15 would reduce all fire damage you take by 15 points, negating it in some cases.
     Physical Resistance Rating (PRR) – Reduces damage from all physical sources (bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing) by a percentage.
     Magical Resistance Rating (MRR) – Reduces damage from all non-physical sources by a percentage.

   You will generally want to get all of your resistances as high as possible. Gaining energy resistances is fairly easy, whether from gear, potions, or various other sources. MRR and PRR require more investment to acquire in large amounts and both have diminishing returns depending on how high you want to take them. A MRR or PRR of 100 is enough to grant 50% damage reduction, but a value of 250 only grants ~70% reduction to damage taken. Unless you’re planning on playing on the hardest difficulties, hitting 100 should be enough to keep you alive with a bit of occasional healing.

In DDO you go big, or you go home. That AC should be about 10 points higher to comfortably tank Normal difficulty content.
It should be about 100 (yes, I’m serious) points higher to run the highest difficulty currently present in the game.

   Feats are gained as characters progress in level. All characters begin with feats granted by their class, as well as at least one feat of their own choice. Think of them as little perks that you generally get for every 3 character levels you gain. Some classes gain bonus feats just for taking levels in them (fighter is a prime example that gets a bonus combat feat at every even class level).

   When leveling a character, think carefully about feat choices. You can trade feats out ingame, but it is prohibitively expensive at later levels unless you want to pay real money to do so. Above all, avoid so-called ‘trap’ feats. A trap feat is a feat that looks useful (and might be) but whose usefulness quickly degrades as your character progresses. Feats like Acrobatics and Alertness which grant +2 to two skills are examples of trap feats; they’re useful for the first few levels of a character’s lifetime, but quickly become meaningless in the scheme of things and should be traded for a more useful feat as soon as possible.

   In addition to feats, each character has access to a fairly long list of skills. There are two types of skills: class skills, and cross-class skills. Class skills only cost 1 skill point to increase while cross-class skills cost 2. Additionally, class skills have a maximum number of skill ranks equal to your level +3 while cross-class skills have a maximum number of ranks equal to half that.

Allocating skills on a new character. Note the cross-class skills with asterisks next to their names.

   These limits don’t mean that you should avoid putting points into cross-class skills. Some skills can be useful even if you don’t dump a large number of points into them because you can shore up their values with magical items. That said, I would recommend against investing too heavily into cross-class skills unless you have skill points to burn and don’t have any more class skills to invest them into.

   Be sure to read through the information on your skills carefully. Skills with an octagonal icon are passive while those with a square icon are active and require you to actively make use of them. Be sure to never invest ranks in the swim skill, it is completely useless past even the earliest levels of the game once players have access to accessories that grant water breathing (underwater action) that can quickly be equipped when they are needed.

   Rest and Resurrection
  Unlike most MMORPGs, DDO doesn’t generally have regenerating health and mana. The only way to restore health in DDO is via curatives (or very rare items and abilities that let you slowly regenerate) and mana is even more limited. Casters in DDO must learn early to ration their limited supply of spell points for when they’re truly needed. Rest shrines are typically dotted through every adventure and give players a chance to take a break to regain lost hit points and spell points.

   When you rest at a shrine, you heal a number of hit points depending on your Heal skill (or Repair if you’re a Warforged) and regain all spell points you may have expended. In addition to rest shrines are resurrection shrines which allow the dead to return to life should an ally not be present that is capable of resurrecting them.

Resurrection and Rest Shrines provide adventurers with a place to lay back during a quest.

   Stacking Rules
   In DDO most bonuses are given a type (competence, insight, and enhancement will be the ones you see most often) and, generally speaking, bonuses of the same type do not stack. The exception to this is untyped bonuses (that is, a bonus with no type listed for it) and dodge bonuses. This is something to keep in mind when obtaining new magical equipment, be sure to stick to gear that grants different bonuses to the same statistic if you want to get that stat as high as possible!

   At higher levels (and difficulties) of play you’ll also encounter Mythic bonuses on items. These function somewhat differently from other bonuses with regards to how they stack. Mythic bonuses of the same value do not stack but mythic bonuses of different values do stack. This means that if, for example, you had two items that granted a +2 mythic bonus to your Strength score, equipping both of them would only increase your Strength by two points. However, if you had two items and one granted a +1 mythic Bonus to Strength while the other granted a +2 mythic bonus to Strength, they would stack and increase your Strength by three points. Generally speaking items that grant Mythic bonuses are rare. However, with a recent patch, DDO has enabled named items found in Hard difficulty or higher quests to have a small chance to spawn with Mythic bonuses.

Choosing a Race
   Depending on how much power you’re trying to eke out of a character, your race might be super important or not really important at all. I almost always play humans because they begin play with a bonus feat which is very nice; they also gain 1 extra skill point per level which can be nice if you’re playing a character that doesn’t gain many skill points as he progresses.

   Assuming you don’t particularly care about the bonus feat and skill points, I recommend taking a race that will increase your ability scores in whatever class you’re leaning towards. Speaking of ability scores, always aim for a starting Constitution of at least 14 (12 if you’re playing a race with a -2 to Con); the extra HP will be a life saver in the long run!

Choosing a Class
   For new players I highly, highly recommend playing a class that has some form of easily accessible self-healing. As of the time of this writing, this leaves the options of cleric, druid, favored soul, paladin, and ranger. Here’s a quick rundown of the classes to give you some idea of what to look for:
   Cleric: The go-to. I’d recommend this class to all new players. You’ll have the ability to heal yourself from the start and you’ll have access to the warpriest skill tree which grants you a skill at around 7th level that lets you hit an enemy and heal yourself at the same time. On top of that you’re proficient with heavy armor and shields which will help you avoid damage early on. If you don’t plan on playing an offensive caster cleric, you can also grab some fighter levels to improve your combat abilities.
   Druid: Like a cleric, you’ll have self-healing ability from the start. Unlike the cleric you won’t have quite the versatility in your spells or armor, however you’ll have much better offensive spell options in the latter parts of the game. This class is not available to free-to-play players unless you purchase it on the DDO Store. If you’re curious to see how a druid handles in general play, I recommend watching my Derping In DDO series.
   Favored Souls: This is basically a cleric, but you’ll have better saving throws and more spell points at the cost of slower spell progression, less armor proficiency, and a static set of spells that can’t be swapped out at will like a cleric’s can. Also has access to the warpriest skill tree and can trade out favored soul levels for fighter levels for additional combat effectiveness. This class is not available to free-to-play players unless you purchase it on the DDO Store.
   Paladin: As a paladin you won’t get self-healing spells until 4th level. However, you will have access to self-healing in the form of lay on hands and wands from 1st level onward. In exchange for lessened healing abilities, you’ll be able to deal some fairly impressive damage from early in the game.
   Ranger: A more nature-oriented version of the paladin minus the lay on hands class feature.

The many classes of Dungeons & Dragons Online. You may choose three.

   Much like in 3rd Edition D&D, class is somewhat fluid in DDO. You may begin as one class only to transition over to another at some later point in your character’s lifetime. You have twenty levels worth of classes that you can take and can possess up to three unique classes. It is not uncommon (in fact it’s almost encouraged) to ‘dip’ for a few levels into another class to pick up access to prime class abilities. Some popular dips are:
   Fighter: Taking levels in fighter is typically done for bonus combat feats. The first two levels of fighter both grant a bonus combat feat of your choosing. These feats can be useful to take at certain levels to get early access to a feat you may otherwise have to wait to acquire.
   Monk: Two levels of monk grant +3 to all saving throws, access to monk stances, as well as access to the Evasion ability allows you to completely negate a lot of AoE damage that you might be on the receiving end of. Also granted is the ability to add your Wisdom modifier to your Armor Class when unarmored and not carrying a shield.
   Paladin: Two levels of paladin grants Aura of Good which imparts a +1 bonus to AC and saving throws, as well as Divine Grace which lets you add your Charisma modifier to all saving throws. The bonus from Divine Grace is capped at 2 + 3 times your paladin level (+8 when first acquired).
   Rogue: Grabbing a level in rogue at 1st level will allow most characters enough skills to be at least competent at picking locks and disarming traps with the aid of skill boosting items. It also grants access to the supremely useful Use Magic Device skill. A second level of rogue grants the ability Evasion just like a monk.

   In addition to access to class abilities, multiclassing allows access to enhancement trees from the acquired classes. This allows access to useful abilities that would otherwise be missed. Taking two levels of paladin, for example, grants access to the Divine Might enhancement which lets you expend Turn Undead attempts to add your Charisma modifier to your Strength score.

Earning Money
   In the early game you’ll likely be somewhat strapped for cash that you’ll want to spend on curative potions and wands. While you’re on Korthos there really isn’t much you can do to remedy this, however, once you reach the harbor you can begin to collect from collectable nodes. There are a handful of collectables that sell for a fair sum of money on the auction house and some are even used for crafting your own magical items with the Cannith Crafting system.

   It used to be fairly easy to farm for some types of collectables (fragrant drowshood mushrooms were a staple in early level play), but a recent update has modified how they drop to instead spread them out over various level ranges instead being able to get them from one specific type of node. A good reference if you’re looking for a specfic collectable is this thread.

Riches found in the most unexpected places.

   While the recent update to Cannith Crafting has reinvigorated the collectable trade, here are a handful of collectibles that are almost always guaranteed to sell for a decent bit of coin:
   Deadly Feverblanch – These are found in white mushroom collection spots in level 1-5 quests and are worth between 5k and 10k platinum each.
   Eberron Dragonshards – These are very rare but can be found in any collection node. You can find these dragonshards in small, medium, and large varieties. Small shards are worth ~250k platinum. Medium shards are worth between 500k and 750k platinum. Large shards are worth 1 million+ platinum.
   Fragrant Drowshood – These are found in dark purple mushroom collection spots in level 11-15 quests and are worth between 10k and 20k platinum each.
   Lightning-Split Soarwood – Found in alchemy tables and crude alters in level 11-15 quests, this stupidly rare piece soarwood is typically worth 1 million+ platinum.
   Luminescent Dust – These are found in alchemy tables and bookshelves in level 6-10 quests. 3 of these are worth roughly 20k platinum.
   Silverflame Hymnal – These are found in bookshelves in level 11-15 quests. A single silverflame hymnal is typically worth between 10k and 15k platinum.
   Strings of Prayer Beads – These are found in various places in level 1-5 quests and are often dropped by kobolds. 15 of these is worth between 2.5k and 5k platinum.
   Vials of Pure Water – These are found in various places in level 1-5 quest. 5 of them are worth between 5k and 15k platinum.

That’s All for Now!
    Thanks for reading! I hope this brief look at DDO at least gave a vague idea of what the game is comprised of and what to expect within. In future posts I’ll cover some of the early game and provide a character build that should enable most to survive through the latter parts of the game.

Read More Dungeons & Dragons Online – Where to Begin?