Building Blocks 36: Skills 2

Skills 2:


Ability Modifier: dexterity

Active/Passive: passive – part of your move action

Class skill for: bard, monk and rogue

Untrained use? yes

Armor check penalty? yes

Racial and feat modifiers: dwarves +4

Athletic, mark of passage, and mark of storm +2

What it represents: your ability to stay on your feet in difficult circumstances such as uneven and narrow surfaces or unstable ground.

How it affects gameplay:  it may be counterintuitive, but the balance skill in DDO does not actually keep you on your feet.  Effects that try to knock you down generally use either a reflex save or a strength/dexterity (whichever stat is better for you) to avoid being knocked prone.  However, the balance skill is what is used to stand back up before the effect naturally ends.  You will not get back to your feet until either the timer on the effect wears out or you make a balance check.

Special considerations: your ability to walk on narrow (sometimes invisible) ledges is determined by your Super Mario skills (ie your ability to move your avatar). 

No amount of balance will allow you to walk on slippery surfaces.  Only freedom of movement and immunity to slippery surfaces negates this effect.

Who likes it: pretty much everyone.  There are a wide variety of spells and abilities that can knock you down and when you are prone the only thing you can do is block.

How much should you have? As much as you can get.  Many builds will have other skills that will take precedence, but if you find you have extra skill points and you don’t know where to spend them, start here.  A few spare skill points in balance can mean the  difference between getting up or dying.  I’d even recommend carrying a balance item that you can slot into a convenient gear slot against monsters or bosses that excessively use knockdown attacks (warforged titans would be at the top of this list).



Ability Modifier: charisma

Active/Passive: active – bluffing requires a specific intent

Class skill for: bard, rogue, sorcerer

Untrained use?: yes

Armor check penalty? No

What it represents: your ability to convince others through speech and movement.  This allows you to get others to believe something you wish them to believe.  This can even be something that is true like trying to send a secret message to someone else.

How it affects gameplay: there are several dialog options throughout the game that require a bluff check.

Using the bluff skill (or improved feint feat) successfully will render a monster susceptible to sneak attacks regardless of whom it is attacking for several seconds. During this time the player who used the skill will also be given a 25% threat reduction.  

Bluff can also be used to aggro a single idle monster within a group of monsters allowing a player to pull just that monster away front the group.  Using bluff in this manner pulls the mob to your location and then turns their hostile AI on.

Special considerations: Bluff does not require line of effect, you can bluff creatures around corners to pull them.

Several creature types are immune to the effects that grant sneak attacks.  These monsters include oozes, plants, undead, constructs, vermin, animals, and magical beasts. Basically, creatures that would either normally be immune to sneak attacks based on their creature type or creatures that are unable to communicate with the bluffer.

When bluffed a creature gets a stacking buff of +1 to resisted future bluff attempts whether or not the attempt succeeded or failed.

Bluff also shares a cooldown timer with diplomacy

Half-elves get a special second use of bluff on a second cool down timer.

Who likes it: rogues and solo players.  Also, politicians and poker players.

How much should you have?  Probably none.  Most of the time if bluff is a dialog option there are other options as well.  A character that doesn’t want to risk getting aggro, but does a lot of damage might consider this skill for the that reduction (assassin rogues for example).  It is not an immediate effect to ditch the aggro, but it can be effective in not reacquiring it.  If this is your intent I wouldn’t spend any skill points here unless you had some to spare.

Solo players will generally find more use from this skill because of its pulling mechanics.  Groups rarely use this feature because it is much more time consuming than an all out slaughter (players or monsters) and most simply aren’t even aware it’s an option.  Fewer still actually have ranks in the skill.  If this type of play appeals to you, by all means invest in bluff.  Otherwise you can likely find some better uses for your skill points.

If you only have a few ranks to it into bluff and you are only interested in the dialog options, keep a bluff item on standby to swap in for those dialogs.



Ability Modifier: constitution

Active/Passive: passive – it’s either a static bonus or reactive check to getting hit.

Class skill for: artificer, bard, cleric, Druid, favored soul, monk, paladin, ranger, sorcerer, and wizard

Untrained use? Yes

Armor check penalty? No

Feat modifiers: combat casting +4 (spell casting and scrolls only)

Discipline +2

What it represents: your ability to focus on a difficult task while dealing with distracting circumstances.  Thinks like getting hit, noise, weathered or simple stress would necessitate concentration.

How it affects gameplay: a monk’s stable kids based off of their concentration.  More concentration means they can retain more ki without decay and further determines when and by how much ki decay happens.

Concentration is not used in DDO for actions that require a timing bar to appear (opening doors, disabling traps, etc).  While some of these actions may not be interruptible, many are and, unlike in PnP, a successful concentration check cannot prevent them form being interrupted.

Concentration is used for spell casting however.  When you get hit while casting a spell you must perform a concentration check with a DC equal to 10 + [damage taken] + spell level.  The same is also true for using scrolls.

Special considerations: casters can use the feat quicken to negate the need for concentration checks while casting spells.  However, quicken does not apply to spells cast with scrolls.

Who likes it: monks and healers primarily.  Arcane casters may find some use for the skill as well, but generally use scrolls out of combat and use quicken instead.  Also, people who juggle chainsaws.

How much should you have?  Monks and healers should max this skill – consider it the highest priority skill you have.  Monks are able to use their ki abilities much more often and maintain higher stable ki with more concentration.  Healers may think that quicken will suffice for their needs but the ability to scroll heal is invaluable particularly in raids and difficult quests.  If you can’t effectively scroll heal you will burn through more spell points and more mnemonic pots.  It may seem that the damage many monsters can put out would be insurmountable with a concentration check, and especially boss monsters this is generally true.  However, trash mobs and even the big bads have attacks that do smaller amounts of damage and can interrupt scroll healing with great consistency but that would normally be negated by concentration.  If you can squeeze in an item that is useful and has concentration, consider that a bonus.

Arcane casters often do not take concentration.  Very few arcane scrolls are actually useful during combat situations and are better used out of combat.  However, warforged casters may find that using recon scrolls can save valuable spell points during long boss fights (or keep you alive when you would otherwise be out of spell points) and fleshy casters may have enough UMD (or perhaps half elf dilettante) to use heal scrolls.  If this is the case concentration would be recommended.  Arcane casters generally don’t have many needs in skill points and concentration is one of their few class skills anyways.

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