I had to make a really hard call last night. A call that went against my nature. Against all instinct. All understanding of what is ‘right’. But I did it anyway.
And uh… So far it’s been… Yeah, pretty alright honestly.
The deep seismic shifting I felt deep in my gut as I removed my specialisation in Melee Defense and took it down to just ‘trained’ must’ve just been gas, I guess. But you see almost ever since I learnt that there even was a ‘right’ way to build MMORPG characters, it has been cannon most sacred that though shalt specialise Melee Defense. (Unless on a mage.)
But that ‘almost’ in there is kinda key. The driving of this rule into the deepest levels of my psyche such that it can persist there for over 20 years must have come from Darktide — the Player vs. Player realm. And in such an environment it makes sense — your melee enemies will have their weapon skill specialised, so to have any chance to compete it followed your Melee Defense also needed to be specialised.
If you’re wondering why not Missile Defense or Magic Defense as well then by the same logic for Archers and Mages accordingly — it’s because you can actually avoid ranged attacks through movement in Asheron’s Call. Melee attackers on the other hand had a ‘sticky’ component to keep them on you to a certain extent.
But without that enemy player component, did it still matter? It might eventually, but all indications that for now at least — it doesn’t.
Anywho. You might be wondering why I would drop Melee Defense. What would drive me to even try such madness?
The answer: Fletching!
Until now I had been handling the alchemy and fletching on a separate trade skill character. This is how we did things back in the day, you see. But it’s quite a process. Crafting Greater Deadly Elemental arrows is a multi-step process, and I need to know what type of arrows I need in advance and prepare for the forthcoming hunt.
Arrows? Them suckers be heavy.
But the real key here to Fletching’s value comes in two parts.
One: I hit my goal of 290 Missile Weapon skill and so went on a world tour to collect all the Minor Elemental stones.
Two: Prismatic Arrows. These are new to me, they didn’t exist when I was last playing. They require Fletching skill to not only construct, but to use full-stop. They’re detailed as being highly volatile arrows, requiring a skilled Fletcher to maintain safely.
Where they get better still is that they will align their damage type to the element of the bow being used.
Now, I don’t have to know precisely the targets I want to hunt for ahead of time — or carry around a range of arrow stacks ‘just in case’. Prismatics become a one-size-hits-all kind of deal. The Atlan weapon being their driver.
Of course, I have only crafted the one Atlan Weapon so far — so I needed a means of actually removing inserted stones to make room for another. Enter the Artifex Vault, which wasn’t really challenging at my level from a monsters-within perspective, but did include lever and jumping puzzles throughout.
Unfortunately, I forgot to capture screenshots after entering for a good two-thirds of the dungeon. Whoops. Still, here’s what I did get:
Oh — I forgot to mention too, Prismatic Arrows being made out of a rather unique material, forgoing the solid wooden shafts and heavy metallic heads of the standard arrows are way lighter.
A stack of standard crafted arrows (250 arrows) means lugging around 2,500 burden units. Prismatic arrows on the other hand are a 10th that on a per arrows basis, and can be stacked up to 500 in a bundle (for 500 burden units).
So I can fire twice as long before needing to replenish my quiver, and carry far more than I could previously before starting to incur the penalties of being overburdened. Ultimately meaning, I can carry more loot. ;D
That is a huge upgrade to quality of life. Especially piled on top of the actual power upgrade the Atlan Bow equipped with stones gives me with the Element Cleaving ability it now possesses.
So overall, I consider the sacrifice of specialised Melee Defense — giving me back 10 skill points, 8 of which I invested into specialising Fletching — to be a good trade on a non-PvP world. I don’t quite know what I’ll do with future skill points earned yet. I’m quite partial to the idea of learning Lock Pick which can help with any number of dungeon quests — buuuuut I’m not discounting entirely the possibility of specialising Melee Defense again in the future. ;)