Basics

A Newbie’s Guide to DDO: Part 3 – Skills, Feats, and Enhancements

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Newbie's Guide to DDO
Part 1 - The Basics
Part 2 - Classes & Races
Part 3 - Skills, Feats, & Enhancements
Ah, welcome back, my friend! Sorry for not being here earlier, but last night’s adventure at Madame Rissa’s House of Unearthly Delights took a greater toll on me that I had expected. I, Prelixin, the greatest loremaster in the realm, am not quite as young as I used to be. Well, let us continue delving deeper into the world of Eberron, the setting for Dungeons and Dragons Online, and I will further illuminate your mind with knowledge of how and why things work they do.

In our first meeting, we discussed the method that the gods chose to see if you succeed or not in your endeavors (die rolls), the ability scores, and saving throws. Our second talk revolved around the various classes and races that you can choose to play in DDO. Now let us turn our attention to those vital abilities that will, if chosen and used correctly, make you an even greater hero that will live in legends: skills, feats, and enhancements.

Skills

There at 20 skills that a player has to choose from in DDO. Which skills are best for you? That really depends upon your class and the role you intend taking within a group. As stated in our last discussion, you gain a number of skill points every level based upon your class and your Intelligence modifier. Certain skills are Class Skills depending upon your class. All other skills are Cross-Class Skills. With Class Skills, every point that you spend in a skill gives you one rank in that skill.

Let us say that you are playing a Rogue, and Rogues have Search as a Class Skill. If you spend 2 skill points in Search, you will gain 2 ranks. However, if you are playing a Fighter, Search is not a Class Skill, but a Cross-Class Skill. If you spend points into a Cross-Class Skill, you only gain half a rank per skill point spent. So, if you spend 1 point into Search (let us say you already have 2 ranks in Search), then your Search would be 2.5, which really counts as 2. You would have to spend 2 points to get a full rank in Search.

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The difference between a class skill and a cross-class skill when spending skill points.

A skill being a Class Skill or a Cross-Class Skill also affects the maximum ranks you can have in that skill. A Class Skill can have a maximum rank of (3 + character level). So, a 10th level Rogue can have a max Search of 13 (3 + character level of 10). The max rank of a Cross-Class Skill is (3 + character level)/2. Thus, a 10th level Fighter’s max Search would be 6 [(3 + character level of 10)/2 = 6.5 = 6 ranks]. What if I take a level of Rogue and I’m a Fighter, you ask? That’s a good question, my friend, and here it the answer. If you take a level in a different class such as Rogue, you can get a maximum number of ranks in the new class’ Class Skills as if you were a pure Rogue. Thus, if you were a 9th level Fighter/1st level Rogue, your max ranks in Search would be 13 (3 + character level of 10).

The one caveat is that when you level up, your Class Skills and Cross-Class Skills depend upon what class you are using to level up at that time. Let us say that our hypothetical 10th level Fighter/1st level Rogue gains enough experience to hit level 11, and they choose to take another level of Fighter. If they spend skill points in Search, they only gain a half-rank per point spent as that Search is still a Cross-Class Skill for Fighters. Their max ranks possible for Search would still be 14 (3 + character level of 11) because they took a level of Rogue, but it would cost more skill points to increase ranks in Search as opposed to leveling as a Rogue.

Every skill has an ability that modifies it. Let us continue to use Search as an example. Search is modified by Intelligence. Let us say that our Fighter/Rogue has an Intelligence of 14, which gives us a modifier of +2. If we have 10 ranks in Search, then our total bonus for the Search skill would be +12 (10 for the ranks + 2 for the Intelligence modifier). In addition to ability modifiers, skills can also be modified by gear, spells, enhancements, and feats. The higher the overall bonus, the better you are with a skill.

We will now look at the skills and I will explain what the skills do, what ability score modifies it, and whether the skill is passive (it is always working) or active (you have to click on the skill in your hotbar to activate it). In addition, I will use my considerable expertise from my many travels to tell you whether a skill is useful or not.

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An example of some Rogue skills. Probably way too much Diplomacy.



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Half-Elven Wizards really need all the Concentration they can learn.
Balance: This skill is passive and is modified by your Dexterity. This skill determines how quickly you’ll get up after being knocked on your ass to the ground by enemy spells (such as Grease) or abilities (Trip) of which you failed to make the appropriate save, usually Reflex. Melee fighters should really take as much as this skill as they can. Eventually, you will get knocked down and while you are down, you are helpless against enemy attacks. It is vital that you get up as quickly as possible to get back in the fight.

Bluff: This skill is active and is modified by Charisma. Bluff is used primarily to make a monster susceptible to sneak attacks. It can also be used to pull an idle monster away from a group by causing your character to aggro only that specific monster. This skill is not very useful in that you can’t attack for a short period of time, thus negating your DPS. It can be improved with an Improved Feint feat, but its primary usefulness is by pulling a single monster. However, aggroing a monster doesn’t mean that it’ll attack by using melee. If the monster has a ranged option, it will use that. Personally, I think your points can be better spent elsewhere.

Concentration: This passive skill is modified by Constitution. This skill prevents your spell from being interrupted and allows monks to retain their ki. This spell is needed by primary spellcasters (Wizards, Clerics, and Sorcerers) and by Monks. Maximize this skill if you live and die by spellcasting or ki.

Diplomacy: This active skill is modified by Charisma. Diplomacy is used for getting a monster to leave you alone and attack somebody else (if successful). Diplomacy can also have certain NPCs have additional dialogue options when you talk to them. While not a high priority skill, somebody who is a little bit “squishy” could benefit from it, such as me. I’ve used it a few times in my life to get a crazed monster to take their attention off of me and onto somebody else.

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If I was a Wizard and saw this coming at me, I'd do the best damn Diplomacy I could!

Disable Device: This skill is active and is modified by Intelligence. Disable Device allows you to disarm traps after you have found the control box using your Search skill. This skill is vital for Rogues and they should max it out.

Haggle: This passive skill is modified by Charisma. Haggle allows you to get better prices buying and selling from vendors. It’s a decent way to make some extra coin, but I would not spend points in it myself. If you really want to maximize your profits, I would make an alternate character (human bards seem to be the preferred choice) that maximizes Haggle and is known as a hagglebot. You can transfer items to them from your main character by using a shared bank.

Heal: This skill is both passive and active and is modified by Wisdom. Heal allows you to heal unconscious characters back to 1 hit point by using a heal kit and increases the number of hit points regenerated at a rest shrine (the highest heal skill in the group is used for this purpose). This skill is worthless. After a level or two, you’ll have healing wands or spells to use on group members who are down, plus you don’t want to waste an inventory slot on heal kits. Plus, at rest shrines, the normal procedure is for the healing spellcasters to use all their remaining spell points healing up the group and then they rest to recoup their spell points.

Hide: This passive skill is modified by Dexterity. This skill allows you to avoid a monster’s eyesight and sneak past them. This skill goes hand-in-hand with Move Silently. You have to be in Sneak mode for Hide and Move Silently to work. This is a useful skill for scouts (Rogues and such) to sneak ahead and see what the situation is. Hide tends to work better for solo players as that groups tend to be impatient and don’t want to wait for a Rogue to sneak around, unless the whole group is comprised of sneaky types or is willing to give the Rogue time to do his recon.

Intimidate: This active skill is modified by Charisma. Intimidate draws the attention (aggro) of monsters and can be used in certain situations talking to NPCs. This skill is vital for those who wish to tank. If you’re not a tank, then don’t bother with Intimidate.

Jump: This passive skill is modified by Strength and allows you to jump higher. Jump can be an extremely useful skill navigating through a dungeon or allowing you to jump free from surrounding monsters. Since there is no levitate or fly spells, and you can’t use something like rope, a high Jump score can allow you to reach high places or leap across a chasm.

Listen: This passive skill is modified by Wisdom. Listen allows you to hear approaching enemies, even ones that are sneaking. Overall, this skill is pretty useless. If you’re going to spend points into something, then do so in Spot.

Move Silently: This passive skill is modified by Dexterity. Move Silently lets you sneak past monsters unseen and goes with Hide. Again, this skill is useful for Rogues, but with the same cautions that I mentioned whilst talking about Hide.

Open Lock: This active skill is modified by Dexterity. This skill is vital for Rogues and they should have this one maxed out. Open Lock allows you to open locked doors and chests. There are times when you will come across a locked chest in a dungeon or a chest behind a locked door, and if you do not have a Rogue with you, you will cry in frustration. There is no worse feeling that walking away from a chest that you know is filled with riches, but you have no means to open it. Kyrras, the Halfling Rogue I used to travel with, would never leave a locked chest behind. She would go through two dozen lockpicks if necessary to get the “shinies” inside the chest.

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Perform: This passive skill is modified by Charisma. This skill represents the ability to entertain with your musical ability. This skill is a must for Bards as that it determines the Bardic Songs that the player has and the Perform skill adds to the Difficulty Check for enemies to resist a Bard’s Fascinate and Enthrallment abilities. If you’re not a Bard, then leave this skill alone. Besides, I was born with a naturally gifted singing voice. What? I’m not allowed to sing in here? Harrumph! Just because the dog howls when I sing doesn’t mean that I’m a bad singer. It just means that the dog has good taste in music!

Repair: This skill acts like Heal, but for Warforged. This skill is both active and passive and is modified by Intelligence. Just like Heal, this skill is pretty worthless unless you like hanging around large groups of Warforged all the time.

Search: This active skill is modified by your Intelligence. Search is used to find secret doors and traps. This skill does not use a die roll when it is used. The total bonus of the skill is used against a straight difficulty number and it either works or it doesn’t. This skill is another vital one for Rogues. If you can’t find a trap, then you won’t be able to disarm it. If you’re a Rogue, max this skill out.

Spot: This passive skill is modified by Wisdom. This skill allows you to detect hidden traps, secret doors, and stealthy enemies. Just like Search, there is no die roll involved. The skill is either high enough to detect something or it does not. Rogues should max out this skill, but other classes can find it useful as well.

Swim: This passive skill is modified by Strength. Swim allows you to swim faster and for a longer time underwater. This skill is worthless. Within a few levels, you should have come across an item that allows you to breathe underwater. Don’t waste any skill points on this skill.

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Looks like somebody doesn't have Spot, Search, or Disable Device!

Tumble: This passive skill is modified by Dexterity. Tumble reduces falling damage and allows you to tumble (roll away) from enemies. Unless you want to go for an insane amount of Tumble, then just put a point or two into it. This will allow you to tumble while actively blocking. I honestly wouldn’t put any more points into this skill. Falling doesn’t mean much because you should eventually have an item with feather fall on it. (Feather fall is a spell that allows you to float like a feather when you’re falling. You’ll take no damage from the fall.)

Use Magic Device: This passive skill is modified by your Charisma. This skill allows you to use magic devices which you normally couldn’t use, such as wands or scrolls. You can bypass the race and alignment restrictions of magic items by using this skill. This skill is a must-have for Rogues and Bards and should be maxed out. My Rogue friend, Kyrras, had a nice little sideline by charging for her to use her Stoneskin wand on party members. Because we were in the same group, she gave us her “friendship” rates.



Bonuses

Since our first discussion began, I mentioned that skills, abilities, armor class, saving throws, and other things were modified by ability modifiers (stats) and other bonuses. There are many bonus types to be found in DDO. For armor, there is an armor bonus, natural armor bonus, and a deflection bonus. For skills, there is a racial bonus, competence bonus, insight bonus, etc. I am not going to go over every type of bonus to be found in DDO, but the important thing for you to remember is that bonuses stack. Armor bonus stacks with a deflection bonus and also with a natural armor bonus. Let us say that you have a chain shirt that gives you an armor bonus of +3, and you have a necklace that bestows a natural armor bonus of +2, and you have a ring that offers a +1 deflection bonus, your total bonus would be +6. However, similar bonuses do not stack. If an item gives you a +1 Insight bonus to Spot and you already have something else that gives you a +2 Insight bonus to Spot, you do not get a +3 Insight bonus. Only the highest bonus counts. So if you have a ring that gives you +3 to Resistance (Saving Throws) and a cloak that gives you a +4 to Resistance, your bonus is a total of +4. So, bonuses do stack together as long as they are different types of bonuses.

Feats

Feats are special abilities that grant you a new ability or improve upon an ability that you already have. You gain a feat when you first create your character, and then you gain another one at 3rd level and every 3 levels after that (6th level, 9th level, 12th level, etc.). Certain races get bonus feats (Humans and Half-Elves) and certain classes get additional feats at certain levels that pertain to their class. Feats can be active or passive. Feats run the gamut from learning new weapons and armor to be proficient with, new attack styles, spell enhancers, saving throw bonuses, racial specific feats (such as Composite Plating for Warforged), and class specific feats. A list of feats can be found here. Note that certain feats may have requirements for you to take. There are a great number of feats and your decision should be based upon whatever build you’re striving for.

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Some Rogue Feats. You can click the "Show Unavailable" button to see all your feat options, even if you can't get them at the current time.

Enhancements

Enhancements are, well, enhancements to the strength of a player’s race and class. Enhancements cost Action Points to purchase and you receive 4 Action Points per level. Most enhancements have a minimum level or a minimum number of Action Points already spent to be taken. Enhancements can increase a stat ability (such as Dexterity or Strength), increase damage in combat, give a bonus to skills, and increase the duration or effectiveness of an ability, and so on.

There are also prestige enhancements that can be taken at certain levels, usually starting at level 6. These enhancements represent a focus of that character to a particular facet of that class. For example, Rogues can choose from Assassin, Mechanic, or Thief-Acrobat. Assassin focuses on stealth, additional damage, and poisons. Mechanic focuses on disabling traps, opening locks, spotting and searching, and saves versus traps. A thief-acrobat increases movement and agility style skills such as Jump, Tumble, and Balance. While Rogues have 3 different prestige enhancements to choose from, some classes only have one.

Finally, each class has a capstone enhancement that they can only take if they are level 20 (the max level) in that specific class. A Bard’s capstone enhancement is called Bard Musical Prodigy and grants: +2 Charisma, 2 additional uses of Bardic Music, as well as +2 to Spell Penetration checks and the Difficulty Checks of your Enchantment spells, and your beneficial songs last 20% longer. It can pay to really specialize in a single class.

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Buying Enhancements. Again, by clicking the "Show Unavailable" button, you can see every enhancement that you can get. This really helps out when planning what to get and when.

Racial and class enhancements do stack together. If you’re a Halfling Rogue, you can get a +1 to Dexterity from Rogue Dexterity I and also +1 from Halfling Dexterity I for a grand total of +2. Rogues can get up to 3 points of Dexterity from Rogue enhancements and you can get up to 2 points of Dexterity from Halfling enhancements, so you can theoretically get up to 5 bonus points in Dexterity if you’re a Halfling Rogue (and if you are, you damn sure better get all the Dexterity you can get your grubby hands on!).

Enhancements (as well as feats) can be tweaked from time to time in DDO. It is definitely worth taking the time checking out the DDO Compendium for the latest information. For the latest info on enhancements, you can go here.

I see that the hour grows late, my friend, and the boiled mutton I had for dinner seems to be fighting me, so I bid you a good-night until the morrow. Meet me here again and I will continue to help guide you through the dangerous, but highly exciting, world of Eberron. You don’t mind paying the bill do you? Thank you. Keep an eye out for footpads and cutpurses as you walk the streets, my friend.


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