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Dirge F.A.Q

((This guide was created by Whysprr of the Dirge Forum. All credit for this guide goes to her. To see the original posting of this guide click here.))

IMPORTANT!: As of 3/09; and really as of TSO release, the FAQ is no longer being maintained by me. I never updated the AAs for TSO, so that whole discussion is slightly antique. Use at your own risk. -Whysprr

As those famous Dirges of Liverpool said: 'Whysprr Words of Wisdom'

Organization
The FAQ is divided into seven parts in addition to this introduction, one message each. So you can find what you're looking for, here's a list.

Introduction
General Dirgeliness
Stats and Equipment
Tactics and Adventuring
Spells
Achievements
Miscellanity and Links (includes God choices)
Shameless Self-Promotion

Introduction

Well, I don't think I'm ever going to be able to edit the old one without making a mess of it, so here's a brand-spankin' new copy which I'll hopefully be able to keep up with. What happened was I spent hours rewriting, editing, then posting FAQ 2.0 broken into easily-editable chunks, then a couple weeks later they restarted the boards, I couldn't edit any of it, and it's taken me this long to get over the depression to do all the weary work over again. Plus these boards are still as buggy as a long-dead hedgehog, and it'll be some sort of miracle if this ever looks decent again.

I started this FAQ almost 2 years ago because I got tired of reading the same questions over an' over an' over. It hasn't helped, but it does allow us to be snooty and point people to the FAQ when they ask 'em.

I wrote the original version of this when I was a 57th level dirge, updated it along the way, and finally hit 70, then more recently 80, with a slightly squashy thud. But this is a big game, and I haven't done it all, far from it. I've shamefully stolen from other posts on these boards. In general, you should assume that errors are mine, and that accurate information comes from someone else. If you spot an inaccuracy, please point it out to me either in this thread or via PM.

Changes from the previous edition:

Modified discussion of AAs, to include now not-so-recent changes.
Discussion of AA lines while leveling, and while raiding.
Updated listing and discussion of God choices.
Updated discussion of spells to include T8 choices and spell changes, removing self-buff from concentration-slot discussion, and adding some T8 spell names.
Numerous small edits and updates about all sorts of issues to reflect current thinking.
Updated links.

Senior dirges, as always, please contribute comments and further questions that belong here.

General Dirgeliness

Q. What's being a dirge all about?

A. Dirges are the best of the scout subclasses; actually, dirges are simply the best thing going. Ask anyone. No, not the troubs, they're prejudiced.

Like all scouts, dirges have the ability to be sneaky, safe fall, evac, and disarm chests. Used to be we had the best native running speed around; if you were rolling along on your great big expensive warhorse and a short red-haired Ayr-dal went zipping past leaving behind only a cloud of dust, a languorous wave and a sweet, distant memory, that was a dirge. Now, who knows, it could be a ranger, could be a fury or someone who knows a fury or whomever. If I seem testy about this it's because I am.

In combat, you have ranged attacks, positional attacks, stealth attacks. There are debuffs, buffs, snares, a root, even a daze. There's a little heal. On a real good day you can do a bit of crowd control with fear + root. You can combat rez, and you can look good doing it. Being a dirge is about always having something to do. Except in raids, but that's why the Hedgehog Song has seventeen verses.

It's about not getting any invitations to romantic walks on the beach because you're in such demand for groups to go kill ferocious beasts. Life as a single dirge in the big city isn't all roses, let me tell you. Dirges are extraordinarily group-friendly. We don't have all-out-fierce dps, but we bring buffs and debuffs that make everyone else look good, much like large multicolored drinks at a club late at night. This happened to me once, but I digress.

And some dirges - I'm not naming names here - are too group-friendly, going waay past the ‘friendly' part into, well, I'm done with this question now.

Q. I'm trying to decide between a dirge and a troubadour. Which is best?

A. You've GOT to be kidding. Dirges sing dark, profound songs that remind us that life is short and death comes to us all, and there're just a whole lot of directions you can go from there; ranging from: 'Live for today because tomorrow we're worm-food' to: 'Life is real, life is earnest, and there's a horrible beast just over yon hill let's kill it' to: 'We all die and I'm depressed but isn't this black eyeshadow and lipstick just coool' to my personal favorite: 'All the good-looking High Elf paladins are taken and tomorrow we may be dead, so let's make fun of the troubs.'.

Troubadours know one song that goes ‘la-la-la-lally / down in the green valley / I met a young shepherdess / and got into her pants'. They claim to know lots of songs but it's really all just the one. This is fine for the shepherdess but rough on the audience.

What, you meant in combat? Oh, sorry.

We're both centered on making everyone else look better than us. Both have the only song that the other classes really know about, the one that improves power regeneration. Dirges can steal health, fear the target, rez; troubadors can steal power, can charm and mez, and can sing a health-regen group song. Dirges are oriented to buffing melee, troubadours to buffing casters.

Q. I want to play a dirge, but I don't want to be evil.

A. Well, then don't for goodness' sake. Evil is a matter of personal choice, my dear, and if you don't want to be evil what you have to do is look in the mirror each morning and say: ‘I will NOT be evil today'.

And, totally off the topic, dirges are so wonderful and charismatic that they're welcome anywhere. Freeport and Qeynos and everyplace else all welcome dirges with open arms. Troubs, too, Heaven knows why.

Q. What's the best race to be to play a dirge?

A. Whatever race suits your fancy. As the levels increase, equipment effects swamp racial attributes, you couldn't tell a well-equipped ratonga from a well-equipped high elf, unless of course you had a sense of smell and / or a snootiness detector. While several particular racial abilities are valuable to dirges, none of them are make-or-break. We don't use poisons, so don't pick Tier-dal based on that, they're as snooty as Koada-dal.

Q. I want to run a dirge, and my <husband / wife / significant other / father / mother / son / daughter / brother / sister / cousin / best friend / imaginary friend / live-in dalliance poodle / macro ‘bot running in my second computer> wants to run a <monk / bruiser / paladin / shadowknight / guardian / berserker / inquisitor / templar / fury / warden / defiler / mystic / coercer / illusionist / warlock / wizard / conjuror / necromancer / assassin / ranger / brigand / swashbuckler / troubadour / dirge. Will this work?

A. Of course it will, for goodness' sake. Dirges make everyone better. With a tank we're dps, with a cleric we're tanks, with another scout we bounce the mob back and forth using our backstab / stealth attacks, and with a mage we're trying frantically to hold aggro so the mob doesn't paste the mage right out of that skimpy robe. OK, some pairings aren't quite as good as others.

Dirges are especially good with classes which generate a lot of their dps via disease-based attacks, most particularly necromancers, defilers, warlocks, and shadowknights. You want to lose aggro in a hurry, try to tank for a warlock while you're casting Verlien's and Magic Debuff on group mobs. Since we're melee-buffers, melee-driven classes are good; including unusual choices like melee-specced wardens.

Q. What instrument do I have to play to be a dirge?

A. We don't have instruments yet. This is another of the many things that make me testy. You don't have to play an instrument at all to be a dirge. In fact, my friend Sorschae can't even carry a tune, she's some sort of battle-poet. And you thought necromancers were scary.

Q. I'm a troubadour, and I'd just like to say I do too know more than the one song you just mentioned. The other one goes ‘One bright morning in May / As I was a walkin' down by the seashore / I met a young milkmaid / And got into her pants.' So there!

A. I beg your pardon, dear. My mistake.

Stats and Equipment - The Joy of Gear. Shopping, too.

Q. What stats are important for dirges?

A. Bloody near everything. Agility improves power pool and avoidance, strength improves autoattack and combat art damage, intelligence improves power pool and spell damage and keeps you from doing stupid things, stamina improves survivability and the chance of getting a second date, and wisdom improves resistances and keeps you from doing really stupid things, including quite a few of those second dates. The consensus of the boards, though, is that the lineup goes roughly:

STR>INT>STA=AGI>WIS

A more nuanced discussion follows:

In choosing equipment, people have different approaches. Scout-oriented gear tends to be weighted toward agi, str, and sta, so it can be hard to get good int gear - which many dirges value highly. It also depends on what you do; the best gear for solo isn't necessarily the best gear for raids.

Overall, roughly 2/3 of our dps comes from Str-based attacks - autoattack and CAs, and 1/3 from Int-based attacks - spells. All things being equal, you get more bang from Str than Int, but Int also contributes to power pool - important for raiding - and you're more likely to be near the diminishing-returns point for Str with the usual scout gear. My personal approach is to pick gear with the highest total stats, pushing for Str and Int if there's a choice, and let the details sort themselves out.

Q. What equipment should I upgrade first?

A. Whatever's the ugliest, of course.

Again the obsession with effectiveness, sheesh. You'd think that was all there was to life. Well, maybe it is all there is to life, considering how hard it is for a single dirge to get a date.

I tend to pick weapons over armor over jewelry because except for soloing, your firepower is your asset, not your defenses. If you solo, I think it's still weapons first, you're not a tank for Heaven's sake.

So, weapons first. This is despite being a modestly-successful jeweler myself. Wait, what am I saying!? IT'S ALL ABOUT THE JEWELRY, OK??

Raiders also obsess over resists, so they tend to haul around big bags of junk to get the best resists for the God-Whomper of Doom. Mastercrafted resist jewelry is comparatively inexpensive and works well, and can be obtained, on the Kithicor server, by mail-order from Whysprr Wyrdwynd, and thank goodness there aren't any conflict-of-interest declarations to make around here.

Q. What armor do dirges wear?

A. Whatever looks best, naturally.

Oh, all right. I declare, everyone wants to hunt, nobody cares for style anymore. That's probably why I don't get any dates. Dirges, like the rest of the scouts, can wear up to chain-type armor, and most do for the mitigation. There's little reason any longer to wear leather or less, though in some situations an isolated piece with helpful stats or a good special power can make sense. There's a monk Gi-thing - and what's a Gi anyhow? - that drops in T8 that everyone seems to think is hot stuff, despite being both hideous and degradingly revealing. Some people, and I name no names here, will just do anything for another few points of dps.

Q. What weapons do dirges use? Should I use a shield?

A. The current conventional wisdom is that you sword-and-board for demanding solo and PvP play, and dual-wield for raids and groups and easy soloing.

The STA AA line (see below for AA discussion) has a very solid group-double-attack buff - Fortissimo - that's useful in all settings, so it's a line that most dirges end up with sooner or later. Without that line, sword-and-board is a weak choice; the loss of firepower from the second weapon is not made up by the modest protection the shield provides. However, output with a shield - even with maximum points in the STA line - does not equal that with two weapons except in unusual circumstances, so in groups and raids, where shield defense isn't really important to a dirge, most dirges dual-wield.

Plus, dual-wields are waaay better-looking and dirgeliness isn't just about buffing and debuffing and dps, it's about style and pizzazz, too. Any dull dirge has to answer to ol' Whysp, and that's not a good thing, let me tell you.

Q. Do Jboots stack with my Selo's/Horse/Carpet?

A. You betcha, and a fine thing it is to grin as you sail past people on flying carpets. Actually, we're only 1% faster than the carpets, but it still gives us gloating rights. Not over most of the rest of Norrath these days, and did I mention this makes me testy?

Technical discussion (originally from Sorschae, heavily updated)

Your movement speed in EverQuest2 is your base speed plus the faster of one of two modifiers. Those two modifiers are runspeed and mountspeed.

Runspeed modifiers work in any zone type and stack in a manner that is very similar to haste stacking: That is, you can have one "spell" modifier, and one "item" modifier. This means you can stack jboots with Selo's, or any one Spirit of the Wind item with Spirit of the Wolf. For whatever reason, the crafter Epic earring doesn't seem to stack like other items do, and boo on that.

Mountspeed modifiers only work in overland or outdoor zones, and have no ability to stack with anything. Top tier horses can move at +50% over base, but those cost upwards of 400,000 status and 14 platinum, and require you to be in a 60th level guild. The tier below that costs a smaller amount (still measured in platinum, and available at guild level 40) and allows you to move at +48% over base.

If you put on all three items (movement speed, item movement buff, and mount (carpet/horse), then you will move at the faster of those two speeds, run- or mount.

Tactics and Adventuring

Q. Can dirges solo?

A. Absolutely not, dear, all those dirges you see running around the wilderness are just carrying messages and hoping to be picked up for groups.

Dirges are modest-but-competent soloists. Well-equipped dirges can handle many yellow ^ mobs toe-to-toe, though there are some low times, when the blue ^s paste me right out of my J-boots. Some dirges even use kiting techniques (running around with the mob slowed by our excellent snare and slow debuffs, pounding away with ranged autoattack and spells) to handle heroics, though this is more a stunt or a situational thing or a way of supporting the local mender than a strategy for most of us. It's also a major PvP tactic for dirges.

We're not rangers or assassins, OK? You want to blow through yellow ^^^s, don't play a dirge.

If you're really into comparisons, my cycle time against blue-to-yellow even-con mobs is roughly 30 seconds.

Q. Can dirges be successful at PvP? I've heard you all suck.

A. My dear, you've got the attitude right down, I have no doubt you'll be successful in PvP, and telephone time-share sales as well.

In the early years, dirges are quite formidable PvPers solo or in groups. The Selo's runspeed buff and a formidable array of abilities usable at range and on the run, plus snares and debuffs can be a very effective package. Luda's in particular is an extremely high-damage spell in the teens. As the levels increase, the ability of a dirge to be an effective solo PvP character wanes; despite Percussion of Stone and Cacophony of Blades, our lack of high-end burst damage becomes problematic. That's not to say being a solo PvP dirge is a hopeless chore at high levels; PvP success has as much to do with facility with game-mechanics and reflexes honed to a lightning edge by a diet consisting entirely of Red Bull and microwave jalapeno nachos as it has to do with class dynamics.

On the other hand, as usual, a dirge in a group is hot stuff. Well, not with respect to your romantic interest of choice, there's no hope for that, but, basically, when the Other Side sees a dirge in a group, it's Death to the Dirge. Not something you usually want to hear, but flattering in a horrifying sort of way. The combination of our force-multiplying buffs and the unbreakable snare of the Daro's debuff and Blades and everything make us highly desirable for PvP groups, as long as we last, which can be measured in seconds, usually.

Of course, any opinion stated on the message boards about anything PvP is an open invitation to a flame war, so if you don't like this answer, tough poodles, you noob.

Q. I'm having a lot of trouble soloing. What's wrong?

If you're having trouble hunting blue-to-yellow critters in your teens or early twenties, take a look at your skills. It's quite easy to quest / group through the teens and not swing your weapons or get hit enough to bring your slash / pierce / parry / defense skills along sufficiently to allow you to solo effectively. Skills are on your ‘persona' screen, all the ones mentioned should be near-max. Carry one slashing and one piercing weapon as a routine until you hit level 80 to maintain both skills. Don't neglect using your bow, either.

The other place to look is at your equipment. In general, the last of a tier (tiers are 10-level ranges 1-10, 11-20, 21-30, 31-40, etc) can be difficult because the equipment you had in the previous tier isn't contributing as much as you need to handle the increasingly tough critters. Up until my fifties I used handcrafted / treasured equipment, unless you're rich as a pig in mud it's not really worthwhile to go much above that in PvE. And, get your spells to apprentice 4 or adept 1 quality.

With handcrafted / treasured / app4 / ad1 equipment and spells, and skills at max for level, typical even mobs should be routine, and adds should be comfortably manageable. Blue-to-white ^s should be doable, but might take some potions, experimentation, or a friend, if your social skills are better than mine.

Q. What's dirge dps like?

A. It's like, the wrong question. In solo play, we have enough dps to solo effectively - we've also got lots of other tools; a root, debuffs, lifetaps, and so on. In groups our dps looks pitiful, but that's because methods for measuring dps don't take into account how much we increase party dps and hurt mob dps. A very-well-done (but getting quite old now - hint-hint to the technically inclined) parse by Numaru / Ekho in a level 70 group showed that our output overall is right up there where it should be for a scout-class, and you add that to the style and pizzazz factor and why am I not getting invited to groups by the good-looking High Elf paladins?

It couldn't be my personality. Nah.

Q. What do dirges bring to groups?

A. Groups are where we just plain sing [ha-ha]. We bring buffs that can increase dps for the lot, provide a group parry bonus, increase str and agi across the board, increase chance to hit against yellow-orange mobs, give resistance to poison or disease, give a disease proc chance to everyone, give the tank strength and extra aggo, and give a fab stoneskin to everyone. We can debuff mitigation to every damage type in the game, slow, and strip away mob str/agi. And we can do decent dps, especially against multimob encounters with two respectable AOE attacks.

Oh, yes, right, also, power regen, which is what you'll get invited for.

At level 58, we get Cacophony of Blades, which is good solo, very nice in the average group, and vicious indeed in melee-heavy groups. I still don't get invitations to romantic walks on the beach, though.

Q. What do dirges bring to raids?

A. Dirges tend to be in the main-tank group on raids for power regen, stoneskin, agro, and parry songs. If there are two dirges, the second is best employed in a melee dps group.

A raiding dirge's primary duty is maintaining the buffs and debuffs. Properly done, this is nearly a full-time job, since the epic-effective debuffs include eight, count ‘em, eight different effects: encounter-wide slow (Daro's, if you did the right thing at level 44, see below), melee (Clara's), magic (Spell Rebuff), and agi/str (Discante) debuffs; single-target disease (Verlien's/Keen Tactics), melee (Tarven's/Rhyming Curse), side-attack dps (Shriek Whatever), and finally stealth-attack wis (Garsin's/Grim Strike) debuffs. The buffs include periodic casting of Cacophony of Blades as well as the maintained buffs.

Editorial Note: You'll have noticed that the naming conventions above are a mess. That's because the T7 Master spells are generally more effective than the T8 Adept 3s and the T8 Masters are hard to come by. So I listed ‘em all, more-or-less. Unless you bought your dirge on E-bay, you've probably figured it out already.

The raiding dirge's second priority is spot-resurrecting over-nuking mages and scouts, the silly things. Our rez is fast-casting, has decent range, and refreshes rapidly, and the group version can handle heavy-duty near-wipes. It's better for dirges (and paladins and such) to handle raid in-combat rez duty, that way the clerics can keep the healing going, hopefully limiting the need for more rezzing.

In whatever time and with whatever power is left over from the duties above, raid dirges also contribute as much dps as they can churn out. Scream of Blood is the most power-efficient of our combat arts by a significant margin, followed in a clump by our higher-damage direct damage abilities.

In order to maintain all this junk, a dirge's first raid priority has to be survival. There's no point in diving into a lethal AOE to get off Scream of Blood, your direct output doesn't match your indirect contributions in buffs and debuffs. This takes discipline and self-restraint, and also a certain boredom tolerance as the battle wears on, but if you can master the mandolin, raiding is cake.

I do recommend memorizing all seventeen verses of the Hedgehog Song to sing on the raid channel. This will make you popular with your guildmates, okay, it'll drive ‘em nuts, especially the manic uber-raiders, but it'll build character for them, and that counts as buffing. Despite the bloody tedium and the uber-raiding culture of mind-gnawing arrogance, raiding has a weird fascination. So, all you easily-offended uber-raiders just put a sock in it, OK?

Spells

Q. What spells should I upgrade first?

A. It depends on what you do most.

If you solo most, probably your lifetaps and then your other attacks.

For a dirge who groups all the time, upgrade your group buffs and debuffs.

For a dirge who raids, upgrade stoneskin, parry buff, agro buff, and power regen, as well as the group and single-target debuffs. Invest in a good book. Practice all seventeen verses of the Hedgehog Song until you're letter-perfect.

And, tip your jeweler well.

Q. I've got nine buffs and only five concentration slots? What's up with that? Which buffs should I use?

A. There's a reason we sing all these songs of misery and despair - it's because we've got too many spells for our concentration slots.

There's no absolutely simple answer for the ‘what buffs do I use' question. What follows is a discussion of the buffs with notes on when to use what. As with anything in this FAQ, I don't claim to be an authority, so you should use your own judgment, post corrections, or, in extreme cases, hire assassins to pursue disagreements. Some assassins have that shadowy-black bad-boy vibe going for them and I might get a date out of it.

In addition to the discussion, I've rated each song purely subjectively for usefulness. The ratings look like this:

<S1/G2/R3> where S, G, R refer to the value of the spell in solo, group, and raid situations, respectively, and 1 refers to ‘must-use' spells, 2 refers to spells which are often valuable, and 3 to spells which are situational only, or even pointless. Unless otherwise noted, for raid ratings I've assumed the dirge is in the MT group.

Offensive Buffs

Relentless tune / Rianna's line: gives a significant increase to autoattack dps. Bread-and-butter. <S1/G2/R2>

Crypt's Quiet / Grave's Peace / Tomb's Stillness / Tomb's Calm / Dead Calm: Grants the dirge's group a chance to strike for additional disease damage on a successful attack. A decent choice, especially in a melee-heavy group, weak-to-balanced versus other choices. With points in the EoF achievement that increases this spell's chance to proc, and Luck of the Dirge running, it's a very solid offensive buff. <S2/G2/R2>

<Whatever's> Boon line: Increases the group's slash/pierce/crush/ranged skill. This improves hit probability without modifying damage per hit. There's no clear consensus on the value of this buff in the wake of the recent combat changes; it's clearly useful for yellow and orange opponents, less clear on others. Check a parse if possible, if your hit percentage is significantly below 100% adding this buff may be useful. In groups several other classes have combat skills buffs which make this one redundant - ask if someone's using one, it's better for a class that isn't concentration-slot limited to do this so you can do something else. <S2/G2/R2>

Defensive Buffs

Jael's Elusion / Jael's Mysterious Mettle / Something Elusion: Increases the parry skill of the fighters and scouts in the group. A bread-and-butter choice in almost any situation where defense matters. Sometimes raid MTs with the right AA line are near-capped in parry, though. <S1/G2/R1>

Percussion of Stone: A song that grants the group a chance to absorb physical damage for a short duration after having taken any physical damage. Superb and very popular in any setting except a group doing easy stuff with two clerics or occasionally with avoidance tanks. There's no T8 upgrade for this. <S1/G1/R1>

Stat and Resistance buffs

Harl's line / Athletic Strain: increases strength and agility of the entire group. These are good things. <S2/G2/R2>

Noxious line: gives a substantial boost to disease and poison resistance raid-wide. This is a situational buff, resistance to various damage types becomes of critical and increasing importance with increasing level, and on raids. There are two ways to figure out when to use this; one is to do your homework and know what sort of damage the critters do, the other is my method, which is, on raids, to make pitiful whining sounds on raid chat until someone gets annoyed enough to tell me, and otherwise to look at the critter and if it's a plague-bearing rat or a humongous spider or snake to assume it uses poison or disease, otherwise to not use this buff. The EoF AA adds a regenerating ward to this buff, which has some value in PvP and against selected raid mobs with disease or poison DoTs. <S3/G3/R2>

Utility Buffs

Bria's line / Power Ballad: increases in-combat mana regeneration for the group. The great unwashed assume this is our reason for being, which at least in my case is not so. I get a good deal more pleasure out of fine food, elegant wine, music, and good company than I do out of Bria's. OK, maybe I'm stretching it with the company part, since I'm still not getting any dates years after posting this FAQ which in case you haven't noticed is basically a very long ‘Personals' ad, and I don't think the assassin thing is going to have a big impact there. Bria's does help when chain-pulling in groups; though, if power doesn't seem to be limiting anyone, drop it and see if an offensive buff works better. Bria's is absolutely, utterly essential during the prolonged boring part of a raid battle when everyone's out of power and just sitting on their hands waiting for some to come back so they can do something. Which, for me, comes just after the AOE that drops me like a rock. <S3/G2/R1>

Hyran's line: gives a substantial percentage boost to aggro to a single target e.g. The Tank. Essential in raids, and with unskilled tanks or undisciplined dps in groups, probably not needed in groups where everyone's on the ball. If you ever run into a group like that let me know, I'll watch the skies, since I've always wanted to see it raining pigs. This spell also has substantial entertainment potential when cast on obnoxious scout or mage-types. There's no T8 upgrade for this. <S3/G2/R1>

Q. What are my Master 2 choices, and which one should I take?

A. Here are the choices, with my personal-and-highly-idiosyncratic feelings about how to parse the decision. Remember, particularly for the early choices, the impact of this decision goes away after 10 levels or so, so don't get all bent out of shape on this.

Level 14

Rousing Tune
Piercing Shriek
Bria's Stirring Ballad
Relentless Tune

Pick: Probably Piercing Shriek. It's the best high-damage attack you've got at this stage, and the group-friendly buffs aren't as consequential, since most people aren't heavy into groups at this level. If you are heavy into groups as a teen, and I really don't want to know the details, OK?, any of the others is good. If you're splitting the difference, I personally always find health more limiting than power when soloing, so Bria's wouldn't be my choice at this point in life.

Level 24

Lanet's Excruciating Scream
Crypt's Quiet
Harl's Quickening Euphony
Clara's Chaotic Cacophony

Pick: No clear choice. Lanet's is a terrific solo and group tool, with modest damage but an effective 7 sec daze. Harl's is the Str/Agi group buff, useful in many social as well as combat situations for dirges with a better romantic life than mine. Clara's is probably our best debuff, a great aid in taking one's social frustrations out on rampaging monsters. Crypt's Quiet is also a decent offensive buff.

Level 34

Lucky Boon
Jael's Mysterious Mettle
Daro's Dull Blade
Lanet's Agonizing Scream

Pick: Jael's or Daro's. Boon is situational at best (see the looong discussion of our buffs for why). Jael's is the parry buff, possibly our most important single buff in every single setting. Daro's is one of our bread-and-butter attacks, a side/backstab which debuffs dps significantly. Lanet's is good, but probably not as primary as the other two.

Level 44

Bria's Exalting Ballad
Riana's Spiteful Sustain
Cry of the Departed
Daro's Sorrowful Dirge

Pick: Daro's for the long-term. The Master II of this spell is within a percent or two as effective as the T8 - yep, you heard right - the T8 version, while using significantly less power. We're assured by the Powers That Program that spell resistance is related only to caster level and spell tier (App / Adept / Master), not to spell level, so there's just no downside; some raiders disagree with that, however. If you're absolutely a solo dirge, either due to choice, personal hygiene problems or a mysterious lack of interest and maybe I'd better check the expiration date on that deodorant now that I think about it, Cry of the Departed is one of the critical damage/lifetap spells that make such a huge difference. But, even so, I'd say pick Daro's, it's a big world and there's someone for everybody. I hope.

Level 54

Lanet's Violent Scream
Tomb's Stillness
Harl's Rousing Strain
Luda's Heinous Cry

Pick: Most people pick Luda's, because it's really our first opportunity to break 1000 points with a single nuke and seeing those numbers pop is just so darned gratifying. A good case could be made, though, for Harl's or Tomb's; by this time grouping becomes more-and-more attractive for those without serious personality problems, and Harl's/Tomb's probably pack more group punch. Lanet's, see above.

Level 64

Hyran's Seething Sonata
Lanet's Tumultuous Scream
Tomb's Calm
Noxious Dissertation

Pick: It's Hyran's hands down. This aggro-buff is a primary group/raid ability and doesn't upgrade in T8.

Level 75 - NOTE it's 75 not 74. Consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, don't you agree?

Dissonant Requiem
Siphon Blade
Rhyming Curse
Shriek Blade

My choice here was Shriek Blade for all-purpose use. Dissonant Requiem is our rather feeble encounter direct-damage spell, give me a break. Siphon Blade is the lifetap combat art, a sterling solo tool, but not much use in other settings. Both Rhyming Curse, the single-target defense debuff, and Shriek Blade are solid choices; Shriek Blade's a significant damage spell as well, which is why I chose it, it's an ego thing.

Q. What ‘special' spells are there for dirges?

A. At level 35 Zander's Choral Rebuff is the magic-mitigation debuff song. It modestly debuffs every damage type except melee and ranged. It appears to have been fixed after a long period in which it was a modest buff for the critters when cast by a dirge above level 70, ending some possibilities for good, clean fun in guilds where serious personality clashes are a way of life, but we've still got Hyran's and Magnetic Note. There are now upgrades, the T8 being Spell Rebuff at level 71.

The Splitpaw Saga has a snare-magic debuff, but it's on the same timer as our main disease debuff, which is almost always more important for us.

At 52 we get Percussion of Stone, which is our fab stoneskin defensive proc spell. There's no subsequent upgrade.

At 55 we get Scream of Death, a high-damage-but-extremely-long-fizzing-DoT-nuke that has to be cast from behind in stealth. Powerful but situational.

At 58 we get Cacophony of Blades, which is a huge haste with procs-and-interrupts built in, usable 12 secs each minute, up to 17 with EoF AAs, and even more with some fabled equipment available only to uber-raiders with no life. Also known as the Wailing Cuisinart of Doom.

At 65 we get Oration of Sacrifice, which allows us to transfer health to the tank when the healer drops and all eyes turn to the dirge, pleading ‘save us, save us'. I mean, healing was the only thing we couldn't do before, now it's truly one-stop shopping.

At 80 we get Gravitas, another one of those making-everyone-else-look-good things, which improves everything a targeted healer does by about 30%. This takes some thought and skill to use well, but dirges are naturally bright and skillful, so no problem.

All of these can only be gotten from critter-dropped Adept or Master I runes, or as Adept 3s from your friendly jeweler, who you should tip well.

Q. What are the dirge ‘fun' spells like?

A. We don't have any fun spells. We have Melancholy Melody at level 20 which allows us to make someone else look like they have an embarrassing intestinal disorder. We have Disguise: Dark Elf at I think 40 that's entirely useless for the dark elves and humiliating for the rest of us, you've absolutely never seen anything like ol' Whysp as a dark elf, it takes you straight to a different and a dreadful world. And there's another one at 50 that I haven't even bothered to try which makes you flash away like a Godforsaken wandering lighthouse.

None of this is fun.

Achievements

Q. What are the dirge AA lines and which is best?

A. Like everyone else, we have two sets of Achievements, Kingdom of Sky and Echoes of Faydwar.

The KoS lines are:

Agility: this line focuses on abilities which improve attacks, firepower, and personal defense as well as a group stealth. A top-notch solo line.

Strength: this line focuses on abilities which improve survivability, especially against AOEs. Most useful for raiders, though T8 group content now has a lot of AOE in it.

Stamina: this line requires a shield, and focuses on both defensive and offensive abilities.

Intelligence: this line has several group-friendly abilities

Wisdom: this line focuses on group talents; aggro control, runspeed, casting speed, and critical hits.

Here's a more extensive breakdown:

Bard's Luck - HO starting ability, reuse sped up by 100% (quite nice BTW). This power opens the entire KoS line.

Strength Line
Bladesinger's Strength - Increases STR by 4.0 per rank
Turnstrike - DD & prevents AOE (except direct)
Bladeturn - Group songs that increase avoidance improved by 2% per rank
Bladesing - Group songs that increase attributes more effective by 5% per rank
Bladedance - Prevents AOE to group; breaks on damage
Overall mostly useful in raids; see below for more extensive discussion.

Agility line
Wayfarer's Agility - Increases AGI by 5.0 per rank
Bump - DD & applies shroud if Dagger equipped in primary; must be flanking or behind.
Wayfarer's Watch - Increases your Parry skill by 3.9 per rank
Poison Concoction - Adds poison proc (DD + DoT) to attacks
Vanishing Act - Group invis - 2 minute duration
Once you get Bump you'll never want to be without it. Poison adds significant dps. End ability is the best group stealth going. Good solo / group line.

Stamina line
Skald's Stamina - Increases STA by 6.0 per rank
Round Bash - DD & applies knockdown (4 sec) if Shield equipped in secondary
Skald's defense - increases defense and adds substantial double-attack in Shield equipped
Fortissimo - Increases group double-attack chance by 1.25% per rank.
Lend Shielding - this end-ability claims to allow the target to absolutely block the next incoming attack. From the discussion by the uber-raiders it seems to be more complicated than that, but the discussions have wandered into technical realms I can't follow, so you're on your own.
See discussions below. PvP and solo dirges use this line a lot.

Wisdom line
Harbinger's Wisdom - Increases WIS by 8.0 per rank
Harmonizing Shot - DD Bow attack which transfers some hate to the mob's current target.
Harbinger's Sonnet - Increases speed of group: in-combat 0.8%, out-of-combat 1.5% per rank. This is not enough.
Allegro - Reduces casting timers of group by 0.8% per rank
Don't Kill the Messenger - Increases Heal/Ranged/Melee/Spell crit chance of group by 7.5%
DKTM is extremely popular with everyone. The rest of this line is fairly weak, but most consider it worthwhile for the end power anyway.

Intelligence line
Minstrel's Intelligence - Increases INT by 7.0 per rank
Rhythm Blade - DD & increases casting & melee skills of bard.
Minstrel's Aria - Increases effectiveness of combat skill buff by 7% per rank
Minstrel's Melody - DPS group songs more effective by 5% per rank
Heroic Storytelling - Improves the effectiveness of Heroic Opportunities.
The end ability seems pointless to all except a handful of HO aficionados. Some of the interim abilities are very nice.

EoF Lines

The EoF lines provide improvements to existing spells except for the end abilities. The lines are:

Luck: The end power is Luck of the Dirge, which increases all proc percentages by 25% of the original percentage for your group. Rangers just adore this. Works with Percussion of Stone and Tomb's, as well as other classes' procs and item procs.
Enhance: Shroud - decreases casting time - hard to live without once you get it
Enhance: Selo's - adds group safe-fall
Enhance: Bria's - increases power regen rate
Enhance: Noxious - adds a modest ward vs. disease / poison
Enhance: Cacophony of Blades - increases duration (I love this!)
Enhance: Tomb's - increases proc percentage.

Life and Death: The end power is Confront Fear, which removes revival sickness and fear effects. Widely considered to be fairly lame.
Enhance: Grievance: increases healing from this line.
Enhance: Wail of the Dead: increases healing from this line.
Enhance: Elegy at Death's Door: increases health / power granted on rez by a humiliatingly small amount.
Enhance: Elegy of Awakening: decreases casting time.
Enhance: Oration of Sacrifice: improves reuse time.

Control: The end power is Magnetic Note, which is claimed to force aggro to target for 5 sec. Probably isn't broken any more, but even most uber-raiders consider this pointless when it works.
Enhance: Jael's: improves reuse time. Why?
Enhance: Lanet's: improves reuse time. Well, OK, I suppose.
Enhance: Garsin's fear: decreases both casting time and reuse timer. Honestly, who wants to spend points on this?
Enhance: Wail of Horror: increases knockback chance. No comment.

Degredations: The end power is Degredation, which decreases casting time and power cost of the continuing encounter debuffs (Clara's, Daro's, Discante, Magic Rebuff) while increasing duration. Well-loved by dirges everywhere.
Enhance: Garsin's stealth attack: Increases Wis debuff
Enhance: Shrieking Stab: increases dps debuff
Enhance: Verlien's: increases disease debuff. Note that this improves just about every attack we have.
Enhance: Discante: increases str / agi debuff
Enhance: Clara's: increases melee debuff
Enhance: Daro's: increases attack speed debuff

Q. What's the best way to spend AA points as I progress?

A. Here's my take on this:

Most people spend a goodly amount of time soloing as they advance. Furthermore, your solo abilities tend to be limiting; a well-found group is comparatively tolerant of small changes in a single character. So spend your points to optimize your solo powers, without compromising important group abilities.

Lots of people would point you toward the STA line first, but the problem is that the early abilities in that line require a shield to do you any good. You really need to max out all the double-attack capabilities in STA for the shield to make up for the loss of the second weapon. Similarly, DKtM is wonderful in the Wisdom line, but the rest of the stuff is fairly weak. So here's how I'd do it if I were lunatic enough to want to start from scratch.

Put the first 22 points into the Agility line. Bump's nifty, the parry improvements and poison will help you a lot.

Then, respec to Stamina with maxed out Fortissimo and Skald's Defense.

Then go up Agility again, another 22 points. Respec to Wisdom for DKtM.

Then move to the EoF lines. Go down the Luck line to Luck of the Dirge if you're nearing level 58, which you should be. How you distribute points there is up to you, maxed Shroud and Cacophony of Blades are musts as far as I'm concerned.

Then go down Degradations to Degradations.

Then go back and get Agility to maxed Poison.

By this time you probably have your own notions of what's important, and also of what you want to do in the end-game, which you should be nearing. You'll probably be posting critical messages telling me how full of it my ideas are by then.

Q. What's the best AA setup for raiding?

A. Bearing in mind that roughly 40% of the message volume on the blasted board is on this question, and it involves the uber-raiders, as contentious and opinionated a pack of people as ever trolled a message board, here's my take on this from my extensive reading and modest experience.

KoS line

Must-haves are the Wisdom line to the end ability, and the Stamina line through maxed-out Fortissimo.

Once you do that, opinions vary widely. The Strength line has vocal proponents; the AOE blocking ability makes a real difference against some of those big honkin' AOEs.

‘You stupid noobs', says the other camp. ‘The blocker only works every 10 minutes (which is an annoyingly long refresh, to be sure) and only incompetent clowns have trouble with AOEs anyhow. Use the Intelligence line, that helps everyone hit and do more damage.'

‘Oh, yeah?' say the Strength people. ‘What kind of clowns aren't capped in dps anyhow? And you're a bunch of big liars if you claim not to die to the AOEs, the Great Foul Foulness of Fouldom does ten billion points of disease damage every six seconds.'

And so it goes, it makes my teeth hurt, read the boards for yourself and make your own decision, then you can join in all the fun!

Gods, Miscellanity and Links

Q. Which God choice will make me the uberest?

A. Gods forbid anyone should choose anything for role-playing reasons. Here's a summary of some of the choices.

Evil Gods

Cazic Thule: Lots of fear - imagine that - and modest crowd control powers. Some powers that work well with mental damage types, good for troubadours. Cloak procs a fear effect. Probably not a great match for dirges.

Innoruuk: Lots of offensive stuff, threat management, weird little charm / mez thingies, a big powertap and a big lifetap at the high end. Cloak procs a small powertap. A solid choice.

Rallos Zek: Lots of offensive melee powers, some tank-oriented, some not. Cloak procs slashing damage + dps increase. Also a good choice.

Bertoxxulous: disease-based damage and debuffs. A great deal of synergy with dirge powers and the deity of choice for evil dirges, at least the ones who don't mind smelling like rotting meat all the time. The cloak is said to prevent untimely deaths, which might be good, except the body-odor problem means your social life will be about like mine, and in that case you might as well be dead anyhow.

Neutral Gods

Solusek Ro: Almost everything is built around heat-based damage, which we do precisely none of. Cloak adds damage to spells. A decent nuke and a 10 min 100% proc on all spells, but overall a weak choice for dirges. Wizards, on the other hand, just worship Sol Ro. I guess that's the point.

Brell Serilis: Lots of powers that aid crafting, as if it weren't already absurdly easy. A fair number of damage and defensive abilities, some shrink you and I'm not giving away any inches, thank you. Cloak gives in-combat health regeneration. Decent choice, but if you're evil you can probably do better.

The Tribunal: A couple of the lower-level blessings are of general use, the rest are for tanks. Miracles are nothing to write home about. The cloak stuns occasionally with spell attacks, marginal for dirges and useless against Epics. No particular synergy with dirge stuff.

Bristlebane: Blessings and miracles with a variety of useful and effective abilities, some quite scout-oriented. Some of them shape-change the caster into odd forms. The cloak might increase your dps, or it might increase your hate gain, or it might give you a pitiful amount of money and change you into a goblin, you never know.

The pet is a cow. Yes, that's right, a cow.

Because of the endless opportunities for humiliation, the disciples of Bristlebane knock on the door of my apartment in Willow Wood on a daily basis, leaving tracts and asking to show me just a few significant passages in the Canon of Big Fun. They know having ol' Whysp in the flock is worth huge karma points for them, because I can fall off anything, no matter how wide or well-marked, and I can get lost going from my bed to the bathroom, so the opportunities for practical jokes at my expense are practically unlimited.

Karana: A variety of offensive and defensive powers, including a stun that affects epics. Cloak increases both CA and spell damage. A solid choice.

Good Gods

Mithaniel Marr: A mix of defensive and offensive abilities, quite tank-oriented in places. Some terrific ward / resist stuff, and enough general-use combat abilities to make many Good dirges consider this the deity of choice. The cloak procs a substantial strength and dps increase.

Tunare: Lots of - you guessed it - healing spells and aids to same. A big anti-undead attack and a ranged combat booster are the only offensive powers. Some very solid defensive stuff. Healer pet is well-suited to dirges, procs a group heal off offensive spells and combat arts but is a bit weak by T8. Cloak increases healing spells by up to 30 - it helps our lifetaps and OoS only marginally. I chose this on my personality; I'm darned nurturing and don't let anyone tell you different; on the soloability of the quest - important for the time-limited; and the usefulness of the abilities in a raid environment, I can't imagine using powers this expensive except in high-end situations - I'm just an awful tightwad that way.

Quellious: Lots of pacification / mez abilities, some that even work on epics. You can hear the enchanters screaming from here. Powers that help mental-casters again, ~sigh~. Power regen / decreased casting cost powers. Cloak procs a deaggro effect. Some nice stuff here.

Q. For goodness' sake, all I want is a spell list!! Quit whining about your lack of a social life and tell me where the spell list is!!! Don't you know desperation is unattractive?!?

A. All right, already, it's right here:

And say, what are you doing Friday night anyway?

Q. What are the current 'hot topics' in dirgedom.

A. They're right here, currently badly in need of someone to mind them

Q. Who are the major posters in this forum, and what are they like?

A. Look at this thread, which is where we introduce ourselves

You could introduce yourself too, if you're new in these parts. We're a friendly bunch, probably because we're desperate but just ignore that, and we like to know who we're talking to so we can be supportive. Or, occasionally, so we can gather up the children and run for the hills, but you're not like that, I'm sure.

Q. Is there anything else I should know before I make my dirge?

A. Sweet merciful heavens, isn't this enough? Well, if it's not, drop a line on the global dirge channel in-game, guk.dirges. This is plural, you connect yourself to guk.dirge like I did to start with and you'll wonder why dirges are so quiet.

Shameless Self-promotion

Q. What's this Hedgehog Song you're always nattering about?

A. The Hedgehog Song is from the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett. Those who've read my FAQ and those books will have noticed the influence. If you haven't read any of them run, don't walk, to your local bookstore or library and get a couple. The Colour of Magic is the first in the series, I think Reaper Man is the best, Soul Music is good for dirges, but if you love the English language and want to see it at its shining best, any of them will do, Pratchett's prose contains more original similes and metaphors per page than anyone since Wodehouse or Shakespeare (it could go either way).

The Hedgehog Song is one of the favorites of Nanny Ogg, an elderly but irrepressible witch, who sings it at every opportunity, or rather, at every inappropriate time available. The full name of the song is The Hedgehog Can Never be Buggered at All, and only tiny bits of it are actually quoted in Pratchett. But filksingers grabbed the idea like a two-year-old grabbing something found on the floor of a bus station toilet, and the results can be found all over the Web, including here:

http://www.speakeasy.org/~mamandel/filks/Hedgehog.html

http://davidchris.tripod.com/hedgehog.html

Q. So, what do you look like anyway? Is your social life such a mess just because you're a gargoyle?

A. A wonderful portrait of the author by Lunna is at:

http://forums.station.sony.com/eq2/posts/list.m?start=60&topic_id=216363&#2379634

Q. I love your writing!! Is there more?

Psychiatric help is available online at http://www.psych.org/.

More writings: You mean you haven't had enough Whysprr for a lifetime? Be careful, two paragraphs has been officially declared the recommended daily dose. If you're still determined to live dangerously, my EQ2 dirge blog is here.

Beyond that, you'll just have to live in dread anticipation of the next posting.

Now, stop reading -- go spread dirgeliness across Norrath!

And, be careful out there, all right?

Best,

Whysprr

Whysprr Wyrdwynd (born during a severe vowel shortage)
Brethren (And what about the sistren, may I just ask?)
Qeynos (but not ridiculous about it)
Dirge & Bespoke Jeweler to the Scouts of Norrath (at least the ones who are willing to put their rares at risk)
Some level or other (who knows when you're reading this)
Kithicor server (when it's up and lag isn't too dreadful)

((This guide was created by Whysprr of the Dirge Forum. All credit for this guide goes to her. To see the original posting of this guide click here.))

                               
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