Jun 192014

Destroyed Ballista
Someone has sucked all of the fun out of this ballista

Okay, okay, I am not so ignorant as to actually believe the title of this post. Ballista may be Latin, or so it looks to me anyway, but I’m sure it means something more like “Hurler of death” or “wooden spear launcher”.

Never mind. I looked it up. It is (according to Webster) Greek, not Latin, from the Greek word Ba’llein which apparently means “to throw”. But in the DDO world at least, ballista really does mean “Awesome”.

Allow me to illustrate.

We’ve already talked about pirate ship battles: they are indeed the very best part of Update 22. But now that I’ve had a few days to experiment, I’ve distilled that concept down a little further; the pirate ship battles are awesome because of the ballistae.

Some of the pirate ships appear next to land, close enough that you can jump down on them. These ones are easiest destroyed by boarding and fighting your way down into the engine room. Destroy the engine (or defeat the elemental that powers the engine) and this ship will explode. Do not waste time getting off a ship after you’ve disabled her engines! Boarding a ship and taking her down like this is fun, lots of fun. But it is nowhere near as fun as shooting her down with ballistae.

Because ballista.

This short capture shows Knicker firing a ballista. You’ll note right away that the mechanism aims wherever you are looking. This can be a bit difficult as the ballista also blocks your view.

It also shows the basics of ballista use:

  • Get within activation range
  • Use your targeting reticle to aim yourself at your desired target
  • “Use” the ballista
  • Wait while the “Drawing” bar fills. If you are interrupted while this is filling, you will have to start over
  • Watch in awe as the flaming projectile launches and destroys your enemies. Except when the ballista itself gets in your way and blocks your view, which is almost always

In the video, the ballista initially appears to aim itself along Knicker’s view but then snaps back. It only re-aims correctly right as it is about to launch the projectile. The ballista does this a lot; you have to trust that it will aim and fire at your aiming reticle, even though it doesn’t always appear to be doing that while you are waiting for it to finish drawing.

Here are some tips for successful ballista use:

  • The ballista shoots in an arc; you want to aim slightly above your target
  • I find it easiest to aim when in mouselook mode (which for me, means hitting the [t] key)
  • Once you have aimed successfully, you can just shoot over and over as long as you don’t move or change your camera
  • More than one person can use the ballista at the same time, and they will all fire projectiles when they are done “drawing”; this gives you a much greater rate of fire but makes the ballista appear to jump around like crazy

Versus ships

  • A “destroyed ballista” means that the pirate ship that can appear at this location will not. You need to reset your instance of 3BC to have a chance at getting it to appear
  • Once you hit a pirate ship with the ballista, it will stop firing cannon at you. Although the zip-lining pirate attacks will increase
  • It takes six to eight shots to take down a pirate ship

And some advanced tips

  • The ballista can be used to shoot anything, not just pirate ships
  • It fires an area of effect attack that does a metric buttload of damage*
  • It can shoot farther than you can see, which sometimes is a drawback because monsters that far away may not yet be “active” meaning they won’t take damage
  • The ballista does friendly fire damage
  • Never shoot at something in short range; you can shoot your party members
  • You can even kill yourself **

* While the definition of “metric buttload” remains murky, one can safely assume that it means a lot.
** Yes I found this out the hard way

I’m including a Fraps capture of a battle between Knicker and the pirate ship Gorgon where Knicker survives several barrages from the ship cannon and a horde of crew member attacks while getting in enough ballista hits to win.

Skip ahead to 2:01 if you just want to see a couple of pretty ballista hits.

Knicker gets the job done, but has to summon assistance in the form of owlbears and panthers to keep the crew off of her long enough to allow uninterrupted ballista fire.

Ballista fire
is more fun than anything
Aim, draw, shoot: explode!

I only wish I could take one of these with me and use it in quests. Can you imagine how much more fun Breaking the Ranks would be with one of these? Or the otherwise stultifying Eveningstar Druid series?

Good times.

πŸ™‚ πŸ˜€ πŸ™‚

  6 Responses to ““Ballista” Must Be Latin for Awesome”

Comments (6)
  1. Stand next to balista, use q to select then e to fire. will make life allot easier πŸ™‚

    Have you shot mobs yet? I was in draconic and used my “fear”scream to petrify enemies and then shoot them with the balista overkill πŸ™‚ haha lots of fun πŸ™‚ maybe even more than shoting the ship. (one thing dont aim to low/close or ding!)

    also undermine anyone ??? try tag in the new wildernis πŸ™‚ lots of ppl diddnt see that one coming πŸ™‚ Mhuhuhahaha!

    • For me, [q] is strafe left so that is not as helpful as you might think πŸ™‚ But I get the point, and keyboard use is often more precise for some of these commands.

      “Have you shot mobs yet?”

      Oh yes. Thus … awesome!

  2. As noted before, try facing the enemy ballistae in Storm the Beaches and get back with us. πŸ™‚

  3. Sweet!! Look forward to getting out there and trying it out. I was wondering how the ballistae controls would work.

  4. In AD&D (1e, i.e. the original by Gary Gygax), anyone firing a Ballista treated any target as AC10 (i.e. naked, no dex bonus). I think it did roughly the same damage as having the group of level-0 men-at-arms using [light?] crossbows, but with the added bonus against high AC monsters.

    If you DM wanted you to maintain/protect a camp, haul a few of those along with full crews (2-4, I think ballista only needed 2, but might need 4 for full rate of fire). Ideally you would have potions of heroism for at least the “engineer” or whoever rolls the dice. Should be effective for high level monsters (no to-hit issues, does even more damage against large (and presumably larger) critters.

    • We had PnP a campaign where we mounted them on wagons, concealed as regular caravan wagons, but with a ballista ready to pop out the top and puncture whatever needed to be punctured.

What do you think?

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