Starter Tricks and Tips for DDO Free to Play (F2P)

A couple of my friends wanted to check out DDO so I figured I’d take my teensy amount of experience and at least help start them off on the right path to having fun in Stormreach all the way up to level cap and beyond.

First step? DO NOT USE THE DEFAULT PATHS at character creation! This is very important. Turbine’s default paths aren’t exactly the best builds ever. Always research the class you think you might like to play first. DDO is not pen and paper D&D and the rules of what stats and feats make for a viable character are a little different. It’s a very minmax environment after you hit cap, and becomes more and more frustrating starting at level 12 or so if you didn’t build well. I know this because my first characters sucked so please listen to me and save yourself that pain!

Warning, this is loooooooooooong!

Free Starting Races:

Human
Elf
Drow*
Dwarf
Halfling

Drow can be free but is earned per server at 400 points on your first character to reach that amount of favor. So if you want to make a Drow roll up a bank toon and play it to 400 favor then go make your Drow. As a free player, Drow offers an advantage for making certain classes, since although you choose how to spend 28 points like normal, they have built-in bonuses to a couple of stats that gives you an equivalent of 32 points. Good for F2P Paladins. You can’t start off your first character as a Drow unless you buy the race in the store.

Each race has racial advantages and disadvantages which make them slightly more suited to play certain classes. You can roll up any class as any race, but taking advantage of your choices makes for a smoother experience. Humans have the most versatility and can play any class well. If you like to minmax on a budget you can’t go wrong with a Human – often a 28pt Human will be better than a Drow’s bonus. It just depends on the class and build.

Elves/Drow have a penalty to CON which makes them tougher to play as a new player but the bonus to DEX makes it easier to have a two weapon fighting style on a 28pt build. Halfings have a penalty to STR and a bonus to DEX, which limits their flexibility – but they’re so darn cute. The Dwarven penalty to CHA makes them not ideal as Sorcerors or pure Bards but they can play any other class well (plus melee Bards).

Free Starting Classes:

Barbarian
Bard
Cleric
Fighter
Paladin*
Rogue
Sorceror
Wizard

Different classes need different starting and main stats, feats and such. So I’m only going to cover some generally useful advice on stats and skills.

Paladin is tough as free to play due to the stats needed (STR, CON, and CHA all need to be high, plus DEX if you go two-weapon fighting) so best to wait until 32 points, Drow, or TR into it. DUMP STARTING WIS. Leave it at whatever number it starts at and don’t add points. I know this is counter-intuitive to those coming from D&D but just trust me on this. CHA is more important to start high. Gear will give you all the WIS you need to play a Paladin.

  1. After your build’s main stat, pack on the CON. DDO is brutal without it.
  2. Stats only count at even numbers. There’s no difference between 30 and 31 STR, but 32 is a boost.
  3. Useful spare skills for anyone include Ultra Mini Disc – er, I mean Use Magic Device. A high UMD lets you use heal scrolls and raise dead scrolls later on when you can get magic items to make the skill high enough to bypass the fail rate. Place one point into Tumble at character creation to open up the skill to receiving magical advantages from buffs and gear. It’s all you really need but a high Tumble can be fun on classes that have spare skill points for fluff.
  4. Hybrid classes need even more planning than pure classes.
  5. Sometimes it’s fun to throw away all the good advice you ever heard and roll up a G.I.M.P.

Prestige Classes

These are Enhancements not true classes, but your choice of PrE (Prestige Enhancement) determines your choice of feats so you can meet the prereqs. Research your chosen class to understand the requirements. Respeccing later can get very expensive. The only free respec is a True Reincarnation heart obtained with 20 epic tokens and you have to start over at level 1. You do get to keep your gear and you get some Past Life advantages, but it’s more fun to TR when you’ve built well enough to have fun playing the epics to get those tokens, and not drag your party down by needing to be carried – like my first character. Yeah. >.>

Alignment

Whenever possible it’s best to be true neutral. Different classes have different alignment restrictions, and some items also are restricted to those of a certain alignment. Bards and Barbarians can’t be lawful, Paladins must be lawful good, and Monks must be lawful.

Playstyle

Melee combat can be twohanded or two weapon styles. I recommend starting out as twohanded for F2P, because the DEX requirement for two weapon fighting is high and it’s easier to just push all your points into STR and CON when you only have 28 points for your build.

Both Arcane and Divine casters can nuke. Arcane casters can self-heal through being a Wizard Pale Master with negative energy spells or by being a Warforged who has repair spells. Sorcs have more raw mana and nuke power, Wizards can carry more spells and have more flexibility to cc or debuff as well as nuke.

Divines will be expected to step up and heal the party when needed, though every class can achieve some level of UMD to cast scrolls for healing, and Bards can be built as healers. Bards do better as healers when the group is good and knows the content since they don’t have the raw healing power that Clerics and FvS (paid) do and can’t afford to waste mana on a poorly performing group.

Utility and Hybrid classes decide on their main purpose first then build from there. A melee Bard may need to splash in a couple of levels of Fighter, Rogue, and/or Barbarian and plays as a fighter foremost. A Rogue is first built to deal damage then to deal with traps. You can do 99% of the traps in the game with a starting 8 INT and the right gear and buffs but INT is somewhat useful for other things as well.

Again, research the class you want to play before building. It’s complicated at first but becomes more easy once you understand how it all goes together.

The DDO Character Planner can help you choose feats and enhancements and sketch out your build beforehand, but it can’t show you things like which feat to take when during the leveling process in order to be able to take on the content with confidence.

Gear and Buffs:

To people coming from other MMOs, the way DDO gear works is a little odd. If you’re wearing two items that add to the same stats, only the highest one will apply – unless one is a different type of bonus. When in doubt, ask if it stacks. Likewise, if you eat a tome for a permanent increase, then later get another tome, only the highest bonus will apply. Some tomes are better to sell instead of eat. (I still say “eat” but the animation was changed about a year ago to feature reading tomes instead of eating them to get the upgrade. Hehe.)

Points:

I mentioned before that you can get Drow through favor points. You can also earn store Turbine points for favor points, 25 store points per 100 favor, plus bonuses as your characters unlock one-time server bonuses. By playing your two free character slots on each server you can earn enough Turbine points to buy your first adventure pack!

If you’re unable to access the store through paypal or credit card, you can, technically, earn enough store points to buy every bit of content in the game. However it’s a slow grind. Paying real money will make this happen a LOT faster.

Adventure Packs and the Store:

“The best things in life are free” doesn’t always apply in DDO. The adventure packs are fun additions to the core content, and none of the raids are free – aside from the level 10 Tempest Spine. When you have access to more adventures you can get more XP without repeating content too much as you level. Although it is completely possible to reach level 20 without any packs it can be a lot of grinding at higher levels when there aren’t as many quests available to you.

Vale of Twilight is the most important pack, with the Shroud raid and greensteel crafting helping you gear up for epics (or have ingredients to trade), plus several quests and an explorer area giving a lot of xp right at the point where the free quests are few and far between.

Once you’ve played the game and understand which classes you have the most fun playing, you can then decide which other packs to buy.

LOWBIE ADVENTURE PACKS

Chronoscope is the first raid at level 6 and the best epic items plus a good lowbie set. Highly recommended though it’s a small pack.
Red Fens is a fun group of quests and the best epic items for melee, plus some lowbie set items
Sentinels is very cheesy but fun and has items tailored more to specialists – the Bard rapier is here
Delera’s Graveyard has the Voice trinket which gives you 5% xp gain – very helpful for leveling especially when you don’t have a lot of packs yet. The Voice is always there, other lowbie twink items such as Carnifex aren’t always in the end reward list so if you see a Carnifex grab it and repeat the chain for your Voice.
Necropolis 1-4 isn’t quite as popular to buy but the entire quest series is fantastic xp for leveling a TR and have some cool rare items.

There are many other low level packs. Read guides to figure out which ones are a priority for you as you get store points.

MIDRANGE PACKS

Aim to get these two eventually, which one you get first depends on your characters.

Sands of Menechtarun has undead and Drow heavy quests, with the best item in the game for casters
Gianthold is a TON of xp and decent items, plus dragonscales for crafting or trade.

Again there are many more packs at this level. The Lordsmarch ones are really fun!

DRAGONS!

If you came to Dungeons and Dragons Online to see Dragons, these are the packs you want.

Vault of Night is the Dragon raid and a very important pack for epics.
Gianthold also has Dragons (in the pre-raid).

Also in the store are paid races, classes, character slots, and 32-point builds instead of the starter 28 points. With True Reincarnation (TR), now you can cap your 28pt character then TR to a 34pt build, making 32pt not as much a priority to buy as it used to be. Plus the usual cosmetics and fluff items, some of which are quite pretty!

Paid Races:

Warforged are made of living wood and metal. They’re the robot-looking ones. A tip – if you want a male, make sure you select the gender, because females look exactly the same as males and it’s not until you’re in the middle of a battle that you’ll notice your character has a high-pitched voice.
Drow you can buy also if you want access to them on every server without playing something else on that server first to unlock them.
Half-Orc gets a bonus to STR and a penalty to INT.
Half-Elves are ugly as sin – if you see an Elf actually showing their helmet it’s probably a Half-Elf. But some builds and specialized hybrids are best off as Half-Elf due to their special powers.

Paid Classes

Favored Soul is to Cleric as Sorceror is to Wizard. More mana, less spells, more nuking, less buffing. FvS can be great when built to melee, especially as Warforged.
Monk is a very unique melee fighting class compared to the others
Artificer is the newest class. It’s a very Steampunk invention, using a combination of magic, technology and sheer wit to defeat foes. They get buffs, trapskills, and an Iron Dog pet.

Soloing:

Any class can solo well except for a pure Bard who has no melee capability at all. A pure healer still has access to nukes, especially after level 12-13. On a class that can’t heal itself, expect to spend a lot of money on potions. There may be quests that are more difficult to solo, and raids will need to be done in a group until you’re geared and know the game well enough to try to solo or duo them.

Grouping:

Hit O for the social panel and have a look at what’s available in your level range. It’s helpful to enable the filters so you only see groups for quests you have available. Sometimes the party leader didn’t select the quest so just ask if it’s one available to F2P or if it’s paid. VIPs often won’t know which ones aren’t available without store purchase but people who’ve bought packs will know.

The F1-F12 keys will select your party members. F1 is always you. You can cast curse removal pots or heal scrolls on other people, but can only drink cure potions yourself.

Girl Scout/Boy Scout tips:

Be prepared. Stormreach is a dangerous place. There are buffs and potions you can get to help reduce the damage you take from elemental sources, curses, diseases, and to improve your stats and skills. While leveling it’s important to carry:

  • Cure Light and Moderate Wounds WANDS – if you can’t use them yourself pass them to a healer in your party to help the healer keep your butt alive. Low level healing relies on wands and it gets really expensive!
  • Cure Serious Wounds potions
  • Cure Poison
  • Remove Curse, Disease
  • Acid and Fire Resist
  • Rage, Heroism
  • Haste
  • Water Breathing*

At first these are tough for a new adventurer to afford. Invest in a haggle item or ask a friendly Bard to shop for you and offer them a tip for getting you a discount.

At higher levels you can carry scrolls instead of potions for some things like Greater Heroism scrolls, Heal scrolls, and Raise Dead scrolls.

You can obtain items to help you ward against some of these things. Poison, Disease immunity items are somewhat common. Greater Elemental Resist will reduce your damage by 30 points for that elemental type. Feather Falling boots are common as well, making points into Tumble not that important. Underwater Action helps you breathe underwater, making potions obsolete.

Being prepared can be the difference between a success and a wipe, or an expensive mess and a good run.

More guides and resources:

Robi3.0’s Free to Play Guide

Official Turbine Guides (at the DDO Compendium)

DDO Enhancement Planner (online)

DDO Character Planner (app)

DDOWiki

Read the class forums for builds, guides, and advice from people far more experienced than I. Look up crafting on DDOWiki, there are many different types of crafting in the game.

Conclusion:

Now that I’ve told you to go wear a sweater in DDO and how to buy a good sweater if you don’t have one, because it’s a cold, cruel, tough world out there… go ahead and have fun! 😀

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