The Art of Boom
As a spellcaster using direct damage spells in Dungeons & Dragons
Online: Stormreach (DDO), spell points are always in short supply.
To avoid using spell points in an inefficient manner, a spell caster
should understand the ways to do the most damage in combat, what spells
are best used for particular combats, and how to decide when damage
spells are appropriate.
When to Use Direct Damage Spells
To determine when it is best to use a damage spell as opposed to other
types of spells, the resistance of your enemies to spells and the
amount of danger your enemies pose to your party are the key
determinants for what type of spells to use.
Damage spells are most appropriate when:
- Your opponents are resistant to spells that either prevent any
offensive action or kill your opponents AND your opponents are able to
debuff or damage you and your fellow party members rapidly. Examples
are drow spell casters, golems, mephits, fire elementals.
- You are opponents have very high armor classes and are resistant
to spells that prevent any offensive action by or kill your opponents.
An example would be drow blackguards or marut.
- You are facing large numbers of opponents. An example would be
The key thing to judge is whether an “all or nothing” spell is
effective (since these are more efficient, in general), whether warrior
types in your party can kill the opponents without large amounts of
damage done to themselves (since they use no spell points to kill
opponents), and how many hit points an opponent has (since it may be
less effective to kill your opponent quickly using damage spells than
to heal up party members after combat because your opponent won't last
long enough to do much damage if they have low hit points).
Consider whether buffs can change the above scenarios. If your party
members can destroy opponents fast enough with Haste being cast on
them, or the amount of damage your opponent can do your party is
drastically reduced with, say, Energy Resistance: Fire, then using
these spells instead often makes a damage spell less warranted.
Which Damage Spell to Use
When using direct damage spells, consideration should be made about
what type of spell should be cast. Most important to consider is the
resistances your opponent has to damage. Some creatures, of course, are
resistant to different types of damage, and these drastically reduce
how much damage you do with damage spells. When in doubt, lightning is
often most effective. If a creature is immune to most or all types of
damage, always use force damage. Nothing is resistant to, saves
against, nor is spell resistant to, Magic Missile (at the time when
this article was written) with the exception of rare spell casters
using Shield spells and golems.
Remember that the spell point cost of spells and the rate of casting
spells can drastically affect what spells are better to use.
the following example of Lightning Bolt:
A 10th level wizard (whose target fails its save) can use Lightning
Bolt to do 100 points of damage with Maximize Spell [average of 10(1d3
for Maximize Spell]. A wizard using Lightning Bolt to kill an opponent
(barring spell resistance) who has 225 hit points must cast this 3
times, spending 180 spell points and taking 18 seconds.
Now look at Shocking Grasp;
A 10th level wizard (whose target fails its save) can use Shocking
Grasp to do 50 points of damage with Maximize Spell [avegage of 5(1d3
for Maximize Spell). This wizard using Shocking Grasp to kill an
opponent (barring spell resistance) who has 225 hit points must cast
this 5 times, using 150 spell points, and taking 10 seconds to do so.
In this case, an opponent loses 8 seconds worth of actions when
Shocking Grasp is used. Those 8 seconds can be the difference between
taking too much damage and dying or living to face the next oppnonent.
In addition, opponent casters are having to make more concentration
checks, because they are taking damage (albeit less damage) more often.
Clearly, using a lower level spells for single opponents is better in
many cases. Remember that in combats where only certain opponents are
an immediate concern, often this is the same as fighting single
opponents. Allow your other party members to handle opponents who are
not a deadly threat, while your spells bring down the immediate threats.
In other cases, when multiple foes who present immediate threats to
your party (groups of spell casters, etc) are present, it is better to
use area of affect spells even if slightly slower than low level single
How to Stack Damage
There are four ways to enhance your damage spells: Metamagic Feats,
Enhancements, permanent enchantments, and temporary enchantments.
- Metamagic Feats are covered in other guides, it is enough to know
that they stack with each other and with all the other means of
increasing damage mentioned here.
- Enhancements are purchased by using action points. Enhancements
do not stack with each other, such as two different types of combustion
enhancements, but do stack with both permanent and temporary
- Permanent enchantments are always found on items--never as
potions. They do not stack with each other or temporary enchantments.
It is important to remember that permanent enchantments are named the
same way as character Enhancements, and that permanent enchantments and
character Enhancements do
stack with each other.
- Temporary enchantments are much like spells found in potions or
items. They have a limited duration and do not stack with permanent
enchantments or each other.
Enhancements, temporary and permanent enchantments do not cost extra
spell points. Their bonuses to damage are applied all at once rather
than after other bonuses.
A 10th level wizard casts a Fireball for 35 points of damage on average
(10d6) before other damage bonuses are applied. The wizard has the Empower Spell
feat applied, has an Enhancement
for +30% to 3rd level fire spells; a robe
Potency IV (+20% to spell damage levels 4 or lower); a staff
which has Greater Combustion III, giving a 40% bonus to damage for 3rd
level spells or lower (permanent enchantment); and has imbibed a Superior Potion of
, which provides a bonus of 50% to 3rd level (or
lower) fire spells.
Enhancement provides a +30% bonus. It stacks with everything except other
Since the staff
and robe (20%)
are both permanent enchantments, they do not stack to provide 60%
the wizard gets the larger bonus, this time from the 40% from the staff.
does NOT stack with the permanent enchantments
since it is a temporary enchantment. It does stack with the character
Enhancement. Again, the wizard gets the larger bonus between the 40% of
the staff the OR
50% from the
Inferno potion provides a 50% damage but cancels the bonus of the
This leaves 30%
and 50% (the
, for an 80% bonus for damage. Note that the
bonuses are not applied separately. As a result, the Fireball does
63 (35 * 1.8) points of damage BEFORE the Empower Feat. Empower
Spell brings the damage from this to 94 points (63 * 1.5) at a cost
of 30 spell points.
The Affects of Bonuses on Items
Enhancements and permanent enchantments stack with wands and items that
cast applicable spells. However, temporary enchantments do not.
Enhancement and enchantments types:
- All enhancements and both types of enchantments are classified in
the same way.
- There is the amount the effect increased, then the type of effect
increased, followed by the highest level spell increased.
The amount of increase is listed as "nothing," improved, greater, or
superior. Nothing means nothing is placed in this portion of a
classification and means the item provides a 20% bonus. For example the
starter wizard Potency staff is listed as “Potency I,” meaning it
provides a 20% bonus and affects 1st level spells. Improved is a 30%
bonus. Greater renders a 40% bonus, and Superior is a 50% bonus. All
temporary enchantments are superior bonuses. The types of effects are
I have heard of other types of permanent enchantments, such as impulse
items for force spells. I have not seen them, so have not included them
in this guide.
level of the spell increased follows the amount and type of effect,
listed always as Roman numerals I through V. An example of an item
would be a staff of Superior Glaciation II, which would increase damage
of cold spells by 50%, affecting level 2 or lower spells.
Enhancements and enchantments to damage (and healing and repair spells)
apply to all classes equally. For example, a cleric can use a potion of
Efficacy or a potion of Nihil to increase the damage done by a Cause
Light Wounds spell (though, as mentioned, the two potions would not
Direct damage spells in DDO will probably always be a niche series of
spells for efficient spell casters because the large amount of hit
points many opponents have make these less efficient in many cases
compared to all or nothing spells. However, when those situations arise
where the only solution to dealing with a problem are to turn your
opponents into small piles of cinders, lightning seared flesh, or
frozen statues, it's important to know how to do so most efficiently