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Exploring Eberron: The sum of their parts

Rubi Bayer, @@rubi_

I'm free! I've been locked in a trunk all summer while Justin pretended to be me and took my Dungeons and Dragons Online column! Thankfully a rogue with a lockpick happened by, and now I shall exact my reve... ah, you know what? The truth is, I was pretty buried with the kids out of school for the summer, and Justin graciously stepped in for the past few months while I spent extra time with my little gamers-in-training.

But now I'm back, and I want to take a moment to ask you guys to join me in giving Justin a huge round of applause. He helped save my sanity and did a bang-up job on Exploring Eberron. Justin, you are awesome.

So follow along after the jump for Exploring Eberron: The "I am finally back" edition!

"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." It's a quote you've no doubt heard before, and it is one that applies very well to the unique item sets in Dungeons and Dragons Online. I want to take a look at these sets today, because quite frankly, I wanted to study up on them myself.

Gear has never been a huge part of the game for me. I've traditionally turned away from MMOs that are too gear-centric, because the lack of good gear actually prevents me from enjoying the game. I guess I could consign DDO to this category, but gear doesn't feel too terribly crucial in DDO so far. As the need for specialized gear increases, I'm willing to go with it and learn because I'm enjoying DDO that much. So, join me in a study of one of the cooler parts of gear in the game.

Unique item sets consist of two separate items -- three in one case -- that are obtained through separate quests. The items each carry their own inherent bonuses, but when you wear both halves of the set at the same time, you receive an additional "item set" bonus.

Take the rogue's Troubleshooter's Set -- one of the sets available early on in the game -- as an example. The Troubleshooter's Goggles give you a +3 bonus to your spot, search, and listen. The Troubleshooter's Necklace gives a +1 bonus to dexterity and resistance. Both are valuable enough on their own, but when you wear them at the same time, you receive an additional bonus, as seen on the right.

There are over 50 sets in DDO, but don't let that overwhelm you. It's not a "gotta catch 'em all" situation. The description above is a good example of both how the items in a set come together to give an additional bonus, and how specialized the bonuses are. The Troubleshooter bonus is invaluable to a specific breed of rogue, but completely useless to a Warforged fighter, for example. You're pretty much guaranteed to find at least one set in the full list that will be very valuable for your character. Conversely, nearly all of the prestige item sets are limited to one particular class, further narrowing the list for you.

They're not all race- or class-specific, however. There are a few sets that you'll want to chase down very early on in your DDO career, so you'll want to take a look at them. The Korthos Island sets are a great starting point for set acquisition -- look through the available items and see what appeals for your character. The Troubleshooter set above is one of the Korthos Island sets.

The DM's Vision set is another great all-purpose set that's highly coveted both for its set bonus and for the inherent bonus in the individual items. (Also, it's just a really cool set.) The set itself is a tribute to Gary Gygax and David Arneson, and the individual items have an inherent bonus that non-max characters love: Heroic Inspiration. Heroic Inspiration gives a stacking 5% XP bonus whenever the item is equipped, an incredibly handy buff for those chasing level 20. When combined, the two halves of this set -- the Voice of the Master and Mantle of the Worldshaper -- give the wearer True Seeing.

True Seeing is a great ability under everyday circumstances, useful for finding things like hidden doors even if you're missing a rogue, but you'll find it comes even more in handy in many other quests. For example, if you've done Partycrashers recently and have gotten tired of whaling away on a hallway full of dragonmarks in an effort to find the right one, try it again with True Seeing. You'll see the right one immediately.

Your best bet to start exploring these sets is to go through the list and first eliminate what does not work for your character -- you'll cut the list dramatically by throwing out everything that does not fit you first. Now look at what's left. Take note of the quests that are needed to obtain these items -- it won't do you any good to decide that you must have a particular item if you're level 4 and need a CR 17 quest to obtain it.

You should definitely bookmark the DDO wiki's central list of all the sets as a reference. Start slow and work for what is currently within your grasp. It'll be less frustrating and difficult, and you'll also get a feel for how item sets work for you. That will help when you move forward toward some of the more intricate sets.

That covers the basics of item sets for this week -- next week's column should be even more exciting! As you read this, I'm at PAX in Seattle, checking out all the details of Update 7 for you guys. You can expect the news on that very soon, along with some further impressions in next week's Exploring Eberron, and maybe a chat with some of the developers!

See you next Friday!

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