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  1. #1

    Default [Guide] Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO) Multi-box Compendium

    This compendium is intended to be a one-stop guide for how to set up and run a 2-box multi-boxing set up for Dungeons and Dragons Online.

    Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO) is a long running MMO that is inspired by 3.5 edition D&D. It has survived for this long for two reasons: first, it was one of the first MMOs to join the free-to-play revolution of the late 00’s and, second, it is a complete oddity in it’s class, an “action MMO” from a time where such games didn’t exist that quietly embraced a different set of conventions to the rest of the genre. It has a comparatively small but loyal following and is still regularly updated: as of the time of writing, the game literally received a new expansion pack only a couple of days ago!

    DDO has gone largely unappreciated by the multi-boxing community at large because it is an exceptionally difficult game to multi-box: it does not have a follow function, and there’s no easy way to get around that. In this guide, we’ll go through and demonstrate a control set-up that can enable you to 2-box the game.

    As a little glimpse of the future, proof of concept or reference for later, below is a commentated example of me running a multi-box team through an early-ish adventure in the game on the first tier of the highest difficulty.



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    Please let me know if any aspect of this guide is confusing or insufficient: I’d be very happy to improve it further. In addition, this guide is largely the product of a COVID lockdown giving me nothing to do at the exact moment we were unceremoniously dumped out of WoW. Guide is done, and I still have nothing to do: if there is another game you’d like to see get this treatment, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.
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    Contents

    Setting up and basic controls
    Tips and tricks
    Character builds
    Playing DDO as a Free-to-play player
    Using Hirelings

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    Advantages of DDO as a multi-boxing game:


    • Near infinite progression with a large number of difficulty levels: you could potentially never run out of things to do.
    • A complex character creation, levelling and progression system that offers players a lot of control over their character. This is particularly valuable for multi-boxers, as it gives us flexibility to design characters that complement our weaknesses.
    • Horizontal progression: DDO’s content does not become redundant with each new patch. Unlike many older MMOs on the market at the moment, this means there is not a dearth of content to explore at the “end game”.
    • The Reincarnation system: Rather than have the “end-game” be consumed by difficult group content and raids at maximum level, the true end game of DDO is getting to max level, reincarnating, then doing the entire thing again. The entire game is the end-game (though there is still the usually bevy of raids to be done at max level, should you want to engage with that!).
    • Almost all content is viably completed with two players: the entire game is open to you!



    Disadvantages of DDO as a multi-boxing game:


    • There is no follow command. This by itself is a crippling problem to our attempts to multibox the game.
    • There is no macro system or add-ons. This makes tools like ISBoxer particularly important, as otherwise you can encounter significant mechanical difficulty doing things that are comparatively easy in other games.
    • A big learning curve. Particularly if you haven’t played 3rd edition D&D, or another game like Neverwinter Nights that uses the system, its going to feel like the game is bombarding you with a thousand different options, none of which you understand the ramifications of… at the same time that you’re attempting to set up a multibox.
    • The F2P model rewards long-time players, and can be frustrating at first. The game will slowly unlock over time, and eventually you’ll get to a stage where you feel completely unimpeded in game by F2P status. Until that point, it’ll seem like every quest in the game is unavailable, unless you subscribe or sink a good amount of cash into it.


    Things you need to know about the game:


    • There is no open world: cities are public spaces, and the rest of the world is instanced.
    • EVERYTHING is a dungeon: there are no “go kill 20 kobolds” style quests in DDO. Every adventure is a uniquely crafted instanced experience.
    • Whilst the maximum party size is 6, full parties are not required to progress through the game.
    • Each quest has 5 different difficulty options, with the hardest having 10 separate sub-levels of difficulty. Initially, only the lowest two will be available (Casual and Normal). Completing normal will unlock Hard, and completing Hard will unlock Elite and Reaper.
    • Reaper difficulty is intended to be a challenge for the most experienced players. Among other things, creatures called “Reapers” are randomly spawned throughout the map. These reapers can be exceptionally dangerous and are the one true source of wipes in the party.
    • The game is split into two tiers: Heroic Levels (levels 1-20) and Epic Levels (levels 21-30). Each tier has a “true reincarnation” option available for it. When you get to the maximum level of a tier, you can “TR” to go back to the beginning of the tier as a completely fresh character that is slightly more powerful than before, with a new power based on the last character you used. You can do this a very large number of times before your character truly “caps out”.
    • DDOwiki (here) is perhaps the best MMO wiki I’ve ever seen. Understanding how game mechanics and quests work is vital to your success: be aware that most problems you encounter in a particular dungeon can be resolved by looking it up in the wiki!
    Last edited by RedSorc : 11-11-2020 at 01:59 PM

  2. #2

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    Setting up and basic controls

    For those who find it more helpful, here is a video demonstrating everything that I’m about to discuss in the coming wall of text. I go over the bare-bones set up from start to finish.

    <<Video will appear here at some point over the next day or so!>>

    So, let us address the biggest issue we need to resolve head on: DDO does not have a follow function. This is the most important fact about DDO ‘boxing and is the reason why the game has largely gone neglected as a multi-boxing game. Frankly, even if you had a follow function, there’s so much platforming and geometry-based stuff in DDO, it’d probably still be a pain to box.

    Let me give you the good news: This is the ONLY bad news about DDO. Other than that, it’s pretty much the perfect game to multi-box. There’s near-infinite progression, it’s still regularly updated with new content (there was literally a new expansion a few days ago), you can complete almost all the content with just a 2-box, rotations can be exceptionally simple to manage, there are npc hirelings you can use to pad out the party to make your life simpler…

    …if only it had a follow command.

    As such, almost the whole game is trying to figure out how to move a pair of characters around the world with the least amount of frustration. I have a solution: I call it “dual-wielding” multi-boxing, and it works just as well on a number of other games (most notably Guild Wars 2).

    First of all: you are pretty much going to need an MMO gaming mouse and ISBoxer. I would recommend the Logitech G600 as it’s the only MMO mouse I’ve ever purchased that has lasted longer than about a year, but any MMO mouse with 12 or so buttons on the side will do. Its absolutely possible to do this without ISBoxer, but it makes your life so much simpler;ISboxer is probably the happiest money I’ve ever spent.

    Here’s the basic plan: We are going to run one character using our left hand and the keyboard, and we’re going to run the other character using our right hand and the mouse. We use WASD (or ESDF) movement keys to have character #1 move around, and we use the side buttons on the MMO mouse plus right-click steering to move character #2 around. It takes a certain amount of practice to get comfortable with this, but you can happily move both characters around independently after a little while.

    Hence “dual-wielding”: I’m playing one copy of the game with each hand, dual-wield characters against the enemies.

    Critical to this is keeping half an eye on each character at the same time. To facilitate this, I prefer a vertical split-screen set up instead of using one monitor per character, as would seem the natural approach. As mentioned before, if you’ve never done anything like this in the past it might take a short while to get comfortable with flicking your eyes back and forth between the screens and using your peripheral vision, but the process of improving at this skill is kind of its own reward. When I play well with a dual-wield set-up, I feel like I’m scratching a similar sort of pleasure centre to the one I’m scratching when I begin to develop fluency playing an RTS game.

    If you’re unfamiliar with ISBoxer and don’t know how to stitch this all together, I would direct you to the video above, as it’s probably more efficient to just see me do it that it would be to follow a text guide with a thousand pictures.

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    Let me now mention a bunch of other hotkeys that you will want to get set up early on as a part of your DDO multi-box.

    “Rotations”

    So, “rotations” aren’t really a thing for DDO, and we’re going to do our best to avoid them if we can (see the characters section). However, there are some buttons to press, particularly for spellcasters, and we are going to want to unify as much of that into one button as we can.

    First of all, you are going to want to make sure “autoattack” is enabled for every character. Even spellcasters lose nothing from throwing out the odd tickle with quarterstaff between spellcast cooldowns. If you go through your feats in you character sheet, under “Basic Feats” there is an autoattack feat. Drop it on your hotbar and give it a keybind: you want it always toggled on. Sadly, there are lots of things that turn it off. The big two are dying, and using the search ability, so you definitely want it keybound so you can retrigger it when necessary. For some builds (for example, Mechanic Rogue), this is literally the entire rotation sorted.

    Otherwise, you are generally going to be simply mashing a bunch of buttons. Outside of monks and some epic destinies, DDO generally doesn’t care about what order to do things, we just want to use the strongest available ability. This works well with an ISBoxer keybind that rapidly mashes “1-2-3-4-5-…” or whatever very quickly. I call such a keybind a “heartbeat”, and I use similar keybinds in pretty much every game I’ve ever multi-boxed in order to simplify my controls. I generally bind this to mousewheel up so that I just need to roll the mousewheel when I want the bad guys to hurt. If the AoE rotation is different for whatever reason, that can be bound to mousewheel down in similar fashion.

    Targeting

    Without macros, getting targeting right is not as simple as in some other games, but you can quite easily set up something that works, particularly if you use the “heartbeat” approach. There are two ways forward: nearest target and an assist setup.

    In the case of nearest target, its really simple: There is a “target nearest enemy” keybind available in DDO’s keybind menu. Set it to something, then stick it in the heartbeat. Done: the characters will then always target the nearest enemy when you are attacking, which is almost always the correct choice for melee characters and a perfectly fine choice for 90% of encounters for ranged characters. Simple and it works.

    If you need a little more finesse, you can set up an assist system. There IS an assist target hotkey available in DDO somewhere in the depths. Simply set up a multistep keybind that targets your other character (this will be F2 by default, unless you’ve done something weird), then presses your assist target keybind in step two. You can throw this into the heartbeat and have it only trigger for “Window: All w/o current” and you now have an assist system.

    If you’re good with ISBoxer, this is the tip of the iceberg and you can do more cool stuff, but the above two setups will suffice for 99.9% of the game.


    Jump

    You want to have two jump buttons, one for each character. Jumping is a big deal in DDO: there’s lots of platforming sections, and jumping is actually a skill that characters can be good or bad at. It’s an actual “thing”. As such, I highly recommend your jump buttons are some of your most easily accessible. I use space for the keyboard character, and one of the front corner buttons on the side of the MMO mouse (e.g. button G9 on the G600).

    Make sure you set the hotkey to “Hold any Keystroke Actions while Hotkey is held”. It’s not a big deal for the actual jumping, but the jump button is also used to move upwards while swimming, so you’ll want to be able to use it to control your ascent.
    Last edited by RedSorc : 11-11-2020 at 08:09 PM

  3. #3

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    All-in-one Interact Button

    One of the most common things you will have to do in DDO is to pull a lever, or open a chest, or talk to an NPC, or any number of things that fundamentally involves interacting with a creature or object. One way to do this in game is to click on the object in the world. This is how most people new to the game interact with the world and it’s generally going to be a frustrating ride if you have to do it this way in your multi-boxing. Instead, most players do it with two keypresses: Select Nearest Object (Q by default, I believe), and Interact With Target (E by default, I believe). I’ve now got some serious muscle memory for hitting QE super quickly from playing the game for years.

    That’s going to be frustrating for us again: to a multi-boxer space for keybinds is gold dust. Instead, consider creating an ISBoxer keybind for each character that presses Q with the first step, then E with the second step, then setting the hotkey to execute a step when the hotkey is both pressed or released. It works perfectly. This button is common enough that, again, I’d place it in a very easy to reach location: there will be multiple situations where you’re desperately trying to pick up an item or push a lever in the middle of combat.

    Text-Mashing Hotkey

    Whether its quest givers on the outside, or key NPCs on the inside of a quest, you are often in conversation in DDO. Sometimes, you need to get through the conversation as quickly as possible because you’ll be talking whilst inside combat. Either way, in order to facilitate ease of use, you are going to want a prominent keybind to help you get through quest text as painlessly as possible, without having to mouseclick each option.

    Good news, everyone: There’s a in-game keybind for that. If you look through the keybinding menu in DDO, its really close to the bottom of the whole list. In 99.9% of situations, the correct option in a DDO conversation is to mash the first option, so you will only really need to keybind the selection first conversation option keybind. Simple enough: keybind it in game, then create an ISBoxer keybind that duplicates it to both characters, and you’ll be mashing through text like a pro.

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    Honestly, at this stage, you have all the keybinds you need to clear the overwhelming majority of the game. DDO is, at it’s heart, a very simple game that’s very straightforward to box… except the whole “no follow” thing! Most of the other key-binds you might want to set up are dependent on your exact characters. Generally speaking, think very carefully whenever you feel a slight twinge of frustration as you do anything in DDO. If you feel that twinge, there’s probably a way to turn it into an easy keybind. For example, after a few hours of playing, I felt that twinge when I had to turn on “aggressive” mode for hirelings at the start of every dungeon. Simple solution: Make a keybind for it. There’s an option to keybind it in-game somewhere in the enormous list of keybinding options. Better yet, integrate it into your summon hireling keybind and kill two birds with one stone.

    Below is a short list of the sort of things that you might consider wanting to keybind:


    • Toggle wait/follow hireling, per character
    • All hirelings Interact with target, per character
    • The Hireling Follow action (different to the previous toggle!)
    • Toggle autoattack on/off
    • Emergency self-heal button
    • Targeted healing, if available
    • Search (for the party trap/secret door finder)
    • Summon hireling
    • Toggle aggressive and passive mode for hirelings
    • A long buffing hotkey for the start of dungeons that targets relevant targets then slowly cycles through all the long-duration buffing spells you want to cast. Make use of the “Do not advance to the next step for at least X seconds and only trigger once” option in ISBoxer!
    • Any important item switches (i.e. equipping and unequipping weapon sets for breaking certain creatures damage reduction or equipping and unequipped an underwater action/feather-falling item)
    • CC-break (if you have acquired a Harper Pin from Harper rep in Eveningstar)
    • Any key non-rotational spells you want on command (e.g. greater teleport, dimension door, web, etc)
    • Action boosts and other cooldowns.
    Last edited by RedSorc : 11-11-2020 at 08:10 PM

  4. #4

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    Tips and Tricks

    Herein, I shall detail some of the little things that can offer you a little bit of an edge, or make your life coordinating this challenging multi-box a little bit easier. Note that there are couple of tricks for using hirelings you’ll probably want to be aware of as well: check the specific hireling section for that.

    The Loading Screen Trick

    This is exceptionally minor, but is a nice piece of quality of life if you know it. When you are in a loading screen, you are actually in the game and able to issue commands for the majority of it. In casual play, this is super helpful for telling the rest of your party when you are stuck on a loading screen, as you can happily press enter and type a message to the party.

    In your multi-box, you can use this time to mash your summon hireling keybind in order to skip most of the casting time. This is only a small thing, saving you a couple of seconds each dungeon, but it definitely feels good not having to stand around waiting a bar to fill at the beginning of every single quest.

    The 3-part 2-box

    Even if you are just 2-boxing, if you have the patience, it can be helpful to maintain a third account. The most important thing your third account can manage is it can help you as an “opener”. Lots of conventional players have a second account for just this purpose: if somebody in your party has a quest, you can enter the quest, even if you wouldn’t be otherwise able to. You are also allowed to enter on any difficulty that the other party member has unlocked. This can be helpful to run elite/reaper quests on a first-life character without having to play through normal and hard.

    In a small number of important situations, it can also be used to skip past undesirable pre-requisite quests to do the quest you want. The most famous quest for this is “The Shadow Crypt”; if you know how to run this quest, its literally the best XP/Hr of any quest at any stage of heroic levelling, but it usually requires you to complete 4 pre-requisite quests, one of which you want to avoid, and another of which you want to avoid like the plague. Having a “crypt opener” character means just having a character who’s flagged to start the Shadow Crypt, but never actually does it so that party members can do so.

    In addition, there are a small number of quests, generally raids, that you cannot two-box, but you can three-box if the character turns up at just the right moment. The best example of this is The Vault Of Night, which can be 3-boxed if you have one, ideally two characters with pets, but is impossible to complete with a 2-box. VoN is a ludicrously big lump of XP and is a tonne of fun, so it can be helpful to have this option, particularly if you’re still building up your collection of adventure packs.

    Window Farming

    Let’s say you have a quest that gives awesome xp that you’d like to complete three or four times in a row to quickly farm up the last bit of a level. Cool! Problem is, maybe that quest has lengthy pre-requisites that need to be repeated each time you do it (e.g. Shadow Crypt), or the quest giver is miles away in a town such that running back and forth to pick up the quest again is time inefficient (e.g. Desecrated Temple of Vol). Fear not, there is a way to do it: window farming!

    Here’s the trick: Finish the quest as normal. When you’re done, have one of your characters finish out, while the other one stays inside. Once the first character is out, click on the dungeon entrance again: the standard quest entry “window” will open up because the quest instance still exists, allowing you to rejoin your buddy on the inside. You have now “got the window”.

    While the UI element is still open on the first character, finish out on the second. The moment that the second character leaves, the quest instance will be destroyed. However, the first character’s window will still be open. When the first character then clicks enter to “re-enter” the quest, it then instead creates a new instance of the quest, allowing you to complete it for XP again.

    Note, by doing this for forfeit the quest reward for subsequent completions, but this is not a big deal.
    This whole process might seem a little buggy/sketchy, but the practice is now a de facto part of the game that’s been exploited by almost everybody for over a decade. It used to be in the old days that if you put up an LFM saying you were window farming something, you’d get whispers saying “NO, DON’T PUT THAT IN AN LFM, THEY’LL FIND OUT!”. Nowadays, people just go “oh, cool, let’s go”.

    Blocking Doorways

    Unlike most MMOs, in DDO everything has a hitbox that blocks movement, with the sole exception that players can move through one another. This means that, unlike WoW or whatever, you can “body block” enemies to stop them getting into melee with your allies.

    If you have a tanky character, this can be exploited by using doorways as bottlenecks. If you place a single character in the centre point of most doors in dungeons, there will not be enough room for melee enemies to sneak through, at which point your ranged character behind can safely fire away at the monsters in the room without fear of reprisal. This is a particularly useful trick against reapers, as they can often get choked by the flood of monsters trying to squeeze through the door, giving you a precious extra couple of seconds to bring down that Carnage Reaper before he gives you a bad day. Note: players don’t block other players, but monsters block other monsters!

    Persistent AoE effects (such as web or firewall) can be particularly devastating in this situation. A web plus a tank in a doorway is basically an invulnerable castle in DDO terms, as all the immobile webbed up creatures are doing is taking up valuable space.

    Be careful of ranged spellcasters in situations like this. In particular, enemy spellcasters can do enough damage or have enough cc to make standing in one location too dangerous. This goes double for Famine Reapers! Try to snipe them off quickly with your other character, if possible.

    Dodging Ranged Attacks

    In DDO, you sort of have two chances to dodge a ranged attack: first, you get your standard armour class/concealment/incorporeal check to see whether the roll of dice has resulted in a hit. Second, you also have the chance to just move out of the way of the incoming arrow so that there’s never even the opportunity. Projectiles are not just visual things: they have to actually hit your character’s hitbox in order to have an effect.
    You can manipulate the enemy AI to dodge such attacks by strafing from side to side repeatedly while enemies are firing missile weapons at you. Enemies do not try to fire projectiles directly at you: they try to judge where you are going to be when the projectile arrives. However, the only thing they use is your current velocity when trying to determine this. As such, if you repeatedly strafe from side to side, the enemies will dramatically overshoot their shots to the left or right of you, and you can avoid most damage from ranged attacks.
    This trick works for any one using a missile weapon or ray spell (such as those used by most hobgoblin spellcasters). It becomes more effective the further you are away: if you are in an outdoors area, sniping enemies at maximum range, you can even dodge fireballs from fire elementals in this fashion.


    The Magic Backpeddle

    Here’s the melee version of the previous trick: unlike ranged attackers, melee attackers will attempt to attack where you actually are at the start of their attack animation. The critical point there is they target you at the START of the animation: due to the fraction of a second of latency you get, and the time taken for the animation to resolve, you can actually dodge melee attacks if you are careful enough.

    The easiest way to do this is to backpeddle in a circle. If you do this correctly, the majority of melee attacks incoming will be aimed just to the side of you. This is particularly effective if you have a short range AoE attack to spam as you move in a circle: warlocks using a cone-shaped eldritch blast are outrageously powerful using this technique.

    This is harder to pull off in a multi-box, but in a panic situation, any sort of backpeddling will help keep a character alive against melee attackers.
    Last edited by RedSorc : 11-12-2020 at 10:12 AM

  5. #5

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    Character Builds

    It would literally be possible to write a short book about character building in DDO, but I shall try my best to restrain myself. Part of the ongoing joy of playing the game is experimenting with new builds and character ideas, and I’m going to try and preserve the joy of discovery.

    Instead, I will just make some general comments on ideas for easy-to-run builds for newer multi-boxers.
    For some very general ideas about good characters, you can also try googling “Strimtom hardcore builds”, and all the guides that come up will be reasonable choices for a multibox character.

    Roles

    DDO does not really do the tank/healer/dps trinity. Tanks and healers exist, sure, but they are only really useful on end-game raids, on the very highest reaper difficulties or on the hardcore server. All classes have some sort of option for healing themselves (even if that option is “use a hireling”), and tank aggro is a finnicky concept when in 95% of situations you are trying to melt enemy packs in less than 5 seconds.

    However – for a DDO multi-box, there is a strong argument for the use of some sort of “tanky” character. A character that can happily face tank enemies while maintaining some aggro cuts down on the amount of dodging and weaving you have to do, making your life considerably easier.

    Word to the wise: unlike pen and paper D&D, AC is not particularly effective in DDO when attempting to build a “tanky” character. Unless you have A LOT of it (like, a lot a lot), it’s not particularly worth investing in to the detriment of other defences. Try to increase you Physical and Magical Resistance Ratings (PRR/MRR), get your hitpoints as high as possible and grab as many other layers of defence as possible (e.g. dodge, incorporeality, displacement/blur).

    As such, I suppose I’m kinda of suggesting two possible “compositions”: A tank plus a ranged “artillery” character, or a pair of synergistic easy to run DPS characters.

    Ideas for the “Tank” role.

    Enlightened Spirit Warlock. Example Build. Sadly, Warlocks are a paid class, but this is a fantastic option for a multi-boxer. They get an always on aura of radiating damage which also applies temporary hitpoints to the entire party (which ignores Reaper mode healing penalties!), almost all of their damage comes from AOE self-cast attacks that you don’t have to aim. You can just roughly manoeuvre the warlock into vaguely the right place, mash some buttons, and you’ll win 80% of fights. This is listed as a “tank”, but this would easily work as a pair as well.

    Barbarian. Example Build. Very durable, has access to a lot of spammable cleaves that will be good for quickly grabbing aggro, and uses two-handed weapons with a tonne of strikethrough, so you only have to vaguely point the barbarian in the correct direction.

    THF Warchanter Bard. Example Build (will require some tweaks for F2P). This is essentially a poor man’s ES Warlock, but it only uses F2P components. Offers a temporary HP aura, always on hitpoint regeneration, unique buffs and strong crowd control, all things that we like. The downside is that they are a little low on both damage and tankiness in comparison to the other options: I’d feel less confident about a warchanter tanking a Carnage Reaper than I would one of the other two.


    Ideas for the “Artillery” role.

    Rogue Mechanic. Example Build. This build would be a questionable choice as a solo-build, but is an amazing complement to a self-sustaining tank. Rogue Mechanics are currently among the top sustained ranged DPS builds in the game, full stop, and it also comes with the ability to deal with traps. The cherry on top: the build more or less just uses auto-attacks to deal damage, making them exceptionally easy to manage.

    Arcane Archer. Example Build. A classic first-life new player build, the arcane archer also just relies on pointing and shooting. The key strength of the arcane archer is that almost all of their power comes from their enhancement tree: you need very little gear to complement them to do respectable damage. They also get unlimited ammo, which is a very nice piece of quality of life for a multiboxer. What is more, they also have the ability to do some more than respectable off-healing, which will be exceptionally helpful to your tank if you set up a nice keybind for it. The downside is that their damage will begin to taper off as you reach higher levels: it is well understood that archery is currently not in the greatest spot, balance wise. There is apparently an overhaul of archers coming up in the not too distant future, however!

    Fire Sorcerer. Example Build. Even after they received a few nerfs, there is nothing in the game that melts heroic dungeons quite like a fire sorcerer. In terms of raw, upfront instant AoE damage, the only competitor is the new alchemist class, but the sorcerer is f2p, whilst also offering quality of life options such as the Greater Teleport spell. With points in Eldritch Knight, they can even become reasonably tanky. You have a harder time against fire-immune foes, and you will actually have to aim your spells, but this is probably the fastest clearing option. You could probably make this work as a double too: two sorcerers could evaporate packs of enemies before they even realize they’re under attack, perhaps using an Air Savant in the other slot to offer long range snipes and coverage against fire-immunes.


    Ideas for double dps teams:

    Double Palemaster. Example Build. Palemasters have been a strong solo build for a long time, offering large pack-clearing AoE damage alongside natural tankiness and self-healing. Here’s the thing though: a pair of palemasters can support one another to be greater than the sum of their parts. Having access to two necrotic blasts makes dealing with undead a lot easier, and having two death auras to regenerate health will make the two characters invulnerable in 95% of situations if they stand close together, particularly if you point points into Eldritch Knight and take Shroud of the Wraith. In addition, you get a pair of skeletal knights, which will be helpful for pulling levers in certain quests, as well as offering a little bit of single target damage and another body to get in the way between you and the enemy. Whilst basking in your two death auras, the pair of them are liable to be able to clear most fights by themselves. Your Achilles’ heel will be constructs, against whom you will have to either rely upon your Knights, or use some less efficient off-spec spells to do damage. At high levels, double prismatic spray is a strong option for problematic non-boss iron golems.

    Also, you can give up a smidgeon of raw power on one of the characters to grab a level or two of rogue: this gives you access to trap removal, which is very nice to have, particularly if you don’t know the content off-by-heart yet.
    Last edited by RedSorc : 11-12-2020 at 01:18 PM

  6. #6

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    Playing DDO as Free-To-Play

    DDO’s F2P offering is this strange mix between being incredibly generous and downright stingy. The game offers a package of free-to-play quests, then the rest of the game is locked behind the purchase of a large number of discrete “adventure packs” that you can purchase a la carte. It will feel very restrictive when you first pick up the game.

    However, you earn a trickle of DDO points (the currency used in the shop) just by playing the game. Eventually, you reach a “critical mass” of unlocked content where you have enough to happily level up from level 1 to 20 on a reincarnated character. At this stage, you will enter a cycle where you roughly earn enough points to buy a new pack each time you do a 1-20 TR cycle, and you gradually unlock more and more of the game as you play it.

    Once you’ve reached this critical mass, you’re pretty much now playing the game on a level playing field with everybody. There are some races and classes locked behind purchases, sure, and some of these are quite strong (particularly Warlock for a multi-boxer!), but you can fundamentally play the game as intended without any other painful restrictions that you might see in other games. No gold caps, no unequippable gear, no weird restrictions on forming parties or trading.

    As such, whilst it is totally possible over the course of a long period of time to play the entire game for free, you might consider that your experience might be greatly enhanced making a few modest purchases at the beginning of your DDO career: I leave this in your hands. In this case, you might be well advised to pay for a single month of VIP subscription. If you play hard in that month, you can experience every non-expansion pack quest in the game and, in so doing, unlock a large number of rewards that you might otherwise have to pay for (e.g. the favored soul and artificer classes, 32-point character builds), as well as grabbing a large chunk of free DDO points from the quest completions. At the end of your month, you will have a large chunk of resources to invest in content you want, and knowledge of the content so that you understand which content you should be grabbing.

    Without splashing the cash, there are a number of other tricks to playing the game as a F2P player.


    • Wait for sales before spending DDO points. DDO usually has a large number of crazy good sales across the year. The best times are usually around about Christmas and during summer, where there are usually a few straight weeks of excellent sales one after the other. In some cases, these sales reduce the cost of adventure packs by 50-75%, and during last years round of sales the packs offered were extremely desirable packs that you absolutely want. It’s also worth mentioning that DDO also usually offers the expansion packs at a good discount in these time periods. If you can be patient, you can unlock really big chunks of the game very efficiently by waiting for these sales.


    • Earn 100 favor on every server. You get a one time special reward each time you hit certain favor milestones on a particular server (see here). There’s one at 5, 25 and 50 favor, then you get your standard 25 DDO points when you hit 100 favor. If you do this once on every server, you earn 125 DDO points per server for a total of 1000 DDO points. As an example, during last years holiday sales, this was enough points to almost buy all of the heavily discounted packs, which pretty much gave you enough content to immediately hit critical mass.


    • Older packs tend to be more cost efficient. Packs introduced after DDO made the shift to F2P tended to have a premium attached to them, and this premium has slowly inflated over the course of the years. This means that older packs tend to be significantly more cost efficient than newer ones. For example, Vale of Twilight is a piece of older content that costs 995 DDO points. Owning this one pack would be roughly equivalent (XP-wise) to owning Mines of Tethyamar and Soul Splitter, which would cost you 1375 points, and that’s without even considering that Vale also comes with a number of raids that you might want to try at some point.


    • Collect your daily challenge token. A pair of NPCs in Eveningstar and House Cannith offer a free daily challenge token, which can be used to get access to one of the challenges in those locations. Grab these and stockpile them. Whilst the challenges aren’t particularly important parts of the levelling process, the Eveningstar ones are quite easy to 5-star, and can offer you big one-time lumps of XP that can be helpful breaking through a content drought, particularly in the last couple of heroic levels.


    Generally speaking, here is a list of packs that you should probably have on your wish list:


    • Necropolis, Part 2
    • Vault of Night
    • Demon Sands (slightly less valuable than the others in this list)
    • Ruins of Gianthold (!)
    • Vale of Twilight (!)
    • Necropolis, Part 4
    • Reaver’s Reach (note: these quests are VERY challenging to learn, but are your best bang for your buck if you can manage them)
    • Three-Barrel Cove and Sentinels of Stormreach (less valuable than the others, but they form a saga when taken together than can be exceptionally helpful for pushing past tricky levels)



    Here are some packs to avoid like the plague until you have nothing else to grab, as they are some of the least efficient XP in the game, or have undesirable level ranges:


    • Against the Slave Lords
    • The Temple of Elemental Evil
    • Haunted Halls of Eveningstar
    • Shadow Under Thunderholme
    • Both Challenge packs
    • Devils of Shavarath
    • Keep on the Borderlands (massive new content premium!)
    • The Lost Gatekeepers (massive new content premium!)
    • The Sharn Syndicate
    • The Seal of Shan-To-Kor
    • The Catacombs (far more attractive when you intend to start pushing into epic levels)
    Last edited by RedSorc : 11-11-2020 at 01:56 PM

  7. #7

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    Using Hirelings

    Hirelings are NPC adventurers that can be hired by purchasing their contract from one of the hireling merchants. You can find such merchants in the Stormreach Marketplace.

    Note: You cannot use hirelings in “Raid” adventures, so you will have to do without their help in conquering some of DDO’s greatest challenges.

    Hirelings are generally treated with some disdain by the community at large. They are not particularly durable, they do not deal a great deal of damage and their AI can be very sluggish to respond to threats. Generally speaking, the only useful hirelings are the healer hirelings. These hirelings can offer characters without strong self-healing a method of sustaining themselves, and allow characters with strong self-healing the ability to conserve their SP between shrines.

    However, hirelings can be very powerful if used correctly, and they are an excellent tool for multiboxers. A pair of cleric hirelings can offer much more consistent and reliable healing than one single hireling, and they offer considerable protection against wipes.

    You are granted a new special action bar for the hirelings, and it is well worth keybinding some of these buttons in ISBoxer, particularly the “interact” button which will be used all the time, sometimes in stressful situations.

    Here are some tips, tricks, and important tidbits of information about hirelings:

    MOST IMPORTANT: Hirelings have lots of options to save you from a wipe. Hirelings have a couple of key ways in which they can help recover from a wipe without having to release. Generally speaking, if you are going into content you think might be dangerous, you can park one or both of your hirelings in a safe location by turning off follow. Let’s say you then die: you have a couple of options:

    • Soulstone taxi. Whilst hirelings can’t generally pick up and use items, they CAN pick up soulstones when a character dies. To do this, simply target the soulstone you want the hireling to pick up, and spam click the Interact button (the cogs) until the hireling eventually obeys. Once you’ve done this, lead the hireling to the nearest shrine in order to resurrect yourself. If the hireling is being chased by creatures, mash the follow button on the hireling as much as you can, and the hireling will repeatedly teleport to you. This can help get the hireling “unstuck” from groups of enemies and, if the geometry favours you, it may even cause the hireling to lose aggro on the enemies if it ends up teleporting around a corner and they can no longer see them. Note: You can also do this trick with pets, such as a Pale Master Wizard’s skeleton knight!



    • Stealthy Resurrections. Cleric hirelings that are level 9 or above all come with some sort of raise dead spell to rez you in a worst case scenario. These spells have long cast times, and the hireling ai can be painfully slow to get them cast on you, particularly if their first attempt doesn’t work for whatever reason.



    • If you’ve parked your hireling somewhere far away from the fight and your team has wiped, here’s a general strategy for having them pull off a stealth rez. First of all, run away from the enemies that killed you as far as you can before you end up rubber banding back to your soulstone. You want to try and get around a corner or behind some sort of barrier. Next, before you rubber band, click the follow button on the hireling, then immediately put the hireling into wait mode, so it stops following you. This is critical, because if the hireling is actively following you when you rubber band then they will teleport with you to your soulstone, and will usually be torn apart by the pack of monsters that killed you.



    • Now that your hireling is parked in a safe location not too far away, wait for you to rubber band, then run back. You then want to target yourself, then do the following: Put the hireling onto follow mode, press the raise dead/resurrection button, then put them back onto wait mode. This is because, for whatever reason, hirelings refuse to cast raise dead whilst they are on wait mode, even if you command them to. It is important you use follow mode and you do NOT use the follow button: If you hit the follow button, they will teleport to you, which will put all their abilities on a cooldown, so they won’t be able to rez you before your rubber band cooldown expires. By using the technique described, they should pull off the rez quickly, without moving out of their safe spot.



    You generally want your healer hirelings on aggressive mode. Unless your hireling is on aggressive mode, the AI will not heal you unless you are in combat and you have been attacked. Whilst on aggressive mode, the healers will attempt to heal anyone they see who is missing hitpoints. In certain situations, you might be served by putting the hireling on passive and issuing orders to the hireling to heal your target directly if you really want to guarantee that the hireling actually gets their heal off. You could almost certainly make some useful ISBoxer keybinds to this effect.

    Hirelings affect dungeon scaling, but not as much as another PC. Hirelings do affect dungeon scaling; so bringing a hireling into an adventure will slightly increase the power level of the enemies you find within the dungeon. The effect is quite small, so this should not dissuade you from using hirelings. Gold Seal hirelings contribute even less. Please note: If you are playing on Reaper difficulty, the dungeon is automatically scaled as if you have a full party, therefore hirelings do NOT affect scaling in this case. As such, there is no reason not to use hirelings in Reaper mode, even if you’re just taking them as insurance against a wipe.

    Hirelings can be invaluable to help make content solo-able. Certain dungeons, particularly dungeons from the earlier times in DDO’s life, are intended to “require” a party in order to clear them. Examples include Tomb of the Shadow Lord and Rest for the Restless.

    Hirelings benefit from bonuses to summoned creatures. For the purposes of abilities such as the Augment Summoning feat, Grand Summoner Magister passive or druid past life feats, hirelings are considered summons and gain full benefit. Generally, these abilities are not worth taking as they are not strong enough to make summons particularly useful. However, they do add quite a lot of potential durability onto hirelings and can boost their stats sky high in order to activate runes and levers with stat requirements. Crucially, these bonuses are applied when the hireling is summoned. This means that if you acquire an item that grants one of these abilities (such as the Kindred Pendant from Ravenloft), you only have to have that item equipped for when you summon your hireling at the start of the dungeon. You could set up an ISBoxer keybind to switch into this item as a part of your hireling summoning keybind.

    Hirelings love temp hp. If your team has a strong source of temporary hitpoints (e.g. a Enlightened Spirit Warlock or a Warchanter Bard), it will help their survivability enormously.

    Hirelings do not like traps. Hireling AI completely ignores traps. Whilst the game gives them a large resistance to trap damage to try and account for this, on higher difficulty modes most persistent traps will tear your fragile healer to shreds in seconds. Generally, if you know a trap is coming you want to command your hireling to be stationary and passive, then disable or move past the trap, then click the follow button to have the hireling teleport to your location, past the trap.
    Last edited by RedSorc : 11-12-2020 at 07:35 PM

  8. #8

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    I am speechless. Simply amazing write up. I would say wow but not sure we can say WoW right now ;-) ...

    BTW, Very cool accent!

  9. #9

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    Nothing short of spectacular. I definitely have no interest in playing this game, but I like the dedication/effort you put into this.
    WoW M+ focused Multiboxer
    Season 4 BFA Highest: +11 Waycrest Manor in time
    Season 1 Shadowlands Highest: +2 Necrotic Wake over time

    Videos from random games doing random things: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC70...h7V7RBdKdI6PPA
    Streaming irregularly: https://www.twitch.tv/z0k90
    Co-Host of the Multiboxing Podcast

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