DDO Free to Play Guide (minimal grind method)
It is certainly possible to play DDO completely for free. You may want to do this for budgetary reasons, but since cheap offers come around frequently you may just want the challenge of saying you did it all for free. DDO is a game that gives you in-game coin - Turbine Points - for playing, or more accurately for earning favor, which you achieve by playing quests at increasing levels of difficulty. As you earn Turbine Points you can use them to buy game content that allows you to earn even more favor.
Some guides recommend you “grind” for points, but I do not. The primary grind method involves creating character, earn a certain amount of favor and Turbine Points, delete that character, create a new character and repeat. This can be quite soul crushing and actually becomes a form of work in which you earn about 25 cents worth of points per hour if you’re quick. You don’t want to do that. It will burn you out quickly and you’ll either quit or surrender and pay up money for content or a subscription. This method involves just playing the game and watching your characters grow, so you can have fun at it.
Each quest (except solo only quests) has a “normal”, “hard” and “elite” version and each provides 1/3 of the favor available. For example the “Missing in Action” quest provides 3 favor for “normal”, 3 favor for “hard” and 3 favor for “elite”. While it does not normally apply to free-to-play accounts, those who could open “elite” on the first run earns all 9 favor points at once. As free-to-play the default requires you to play “normal” first, then you are allowed to play on “hard”, then upon completing a quest on hard, you can select “elite”. There are several way around this. One if for another player that can open the quest on elite to open it, then you follow them in (or they can just change it to elite without going in, but you go ahead in on elite. VIP subscribers can do this and normally don’t mind opening for others in their group. The other way is that once you do a heroic reincarnation (start again at level 1) on your first reincarnation you can select “hard” the first time you attempt a quest and on your second reincarnation you can select “elite” the first time you attempt a quest - just like VIP subscribers. Otherwise you will have to complete each quest three times on normal, hard and elite - each one harder than the other. This is not necessarily a bad thing as you get to learn the quest with easier settings the first time, harder the second time and really hard the third time. You also get lots of experience points when you complete it three times, and since there are a lot of quests you cannot run, this helps make up for it. So this can be sort of a grind, especially with 8 different characters - I said “minimal” grind - but it’s not like creating and deleting characters over and over again. You’ll actually carry your eight characters to level 20 or even cap and reincarnate them if you wish.
There are two primary types of favor awards. The simplest one awards you 25 Turbine points for every 100 favor that you earn. If you get to 700 favor, you will have earned 175 Turbine points by this method. Every character you have can earn Turbine Points this way. The second type is first time server favor. This can be earned only once on each server and is awarded after reaching certain levels. For example the first time you earn 5 favor on the Sarlona server you earn 50 Turbine points. If another character on Sarlona earns 5 favor they will not receive any Turbine Points, because this award has already been given. Now the first character to earn 5 favor on the Orion server will also receive 50 Turbine points, and so on for each of the other servers. Server first time Turbine Points are also earned at the first time you reach 25 (25TP), 50 (25TP), 500 (50TP), and 100TP for each 1000 favor after that.
The very maximum favor from quests a character can earn on each server is currently 1493 (see DDO Wiki Free to Play Quest List) worth 350 Turbine Points (25 per 100). Don’t worry if you can’t earn elite on all of these, you can still earn a good chunk. Based on this the maximum server first time favor Turbine points you can earn is (50+25+25+50+100) or 250 Turbine Point on each server (assuming you reach at least 1000 total). So the max Turbine Points you can earn with one character on one server is 600 (350 + 250). It’s likely you’ll do a little less so let’s just say easily 550 Turbine Points per server. There are currently eight servers. With one character on each server you can easily earn 4,400 Turbine points on the first life of each of 8 characters. Plus you will be buying some Adventure Packs as you go and these will make even more favor (and TP) available.
First and foremost, at least on your first life, use Turbine Points only for Adventure Packs. The exception to this is that “Epic Destinies” which are pretty much essential if you are running epic levels. There are lots of goodies, races and classes - often on very nice sales, but you need to spend your precious free Turbine Points on Adventure Packs. I will suggest some, but pick what you like. You can pick up a lot of random store items from your free daily “Silver” dice roll. Sometimes it’s just 100 XP, often it’s XP plus questing items, but sometimes it includes pets, tomes, raid timers and more. You get 8 silver rolls a day - one on each server. Also once a day there is an NPC named Kariya near the crafting vendors in House Cannith who hands out a free challenge token. Pick up one once a day as often as you can remember. These allow you to run Cannith and Eveningstar challenges for free - once per token. Even when you are not running challenges, pick up a token and let them build up. I will list a some Adventure Packs you may want to buy, but you can get even more if you watch out for sales in the DDO store which can offer 30% or more off. This allows you to buy even more adventure packs.
Your most important strategy is to enjoy questing and have fun. Don’t worry too much about your progress, just play away and the favor and Turbine Points will come. There are eight servers currently in DDO - Argonnessen, Cannith, Ghallanda, Khyber, Orien, Sarlona, Thelanis, and Wayfinder. You will be creating a character on each one.
Create one and only one character on each server. This eliminates the need for a shared bank - you either use it, keep it or sell it. Besides eight characters is more than enough to keep you busy. I recommend creating a different class and build on each server. That way you have more variety (more fun) as you switch from one class to another. There are nine free classes - barbarian, bard, cleric, fighter, paladin, ranger, rogue, sorcerer and wizard - so pick eight and enjoy learning different play styles. Feel free to multi-class if you have a build in mind. This also helps alleviate some of the monotony (grindyness) as they will each be running the same quests, but they play differently from class to class. (Actually players with 8 or more alts is not unusual; the only difference is your alts will be on different servers.) You can find a build or you might want to plan ahead using Character Builder Lite.
Earn five favor for each character on each server. This won’t take too long and involves simply running the first three Korthos quests on normal (not including The Grotto). This will get you introduced to each of your new characters. It will also earn you 400 Turbine Points (50 TP on each server). This is a startout inducement bonus, and it will become progressively tougher to earn points, so don’t waste them on junk, buy Adventure Packs (preferably on sale).
Earn 25 favor on each server. The easiest way to do this is complete the Korthos chain on normal on each server. If you get someone to open at a higher level for you, that’s fine. this is just the base plan.
You now will have now earned 200 more Turbine Points (25 TP on each server) for a total of 600TP.
Earn 50 favor on each server. Repeating the Korthos Chain on hard will do this for you. Alternatively pick what you like from the level 2 quests in Stormreach.
You now will have now earned 200 more Turbine Points for a total of 800TP.
Earn 100 favor on each server. Completing all the level 2 quests on normal along with the 4 solo quests in the harbor will achieve this.
You now will have now earned 200 more Turbine Points for a total of 1000TP.
Continue to earn 100 more favor on each server (200, 300, 400, etc…) increasing your total by 200 Turbine points at each level. The 50 TP bonus at 500 favor will add an additional 400 Turbine points and the 100 TP bonus at 1000 will add an additional 800 Turbine points.
That’s it! That’s how you work your way up to 4000 Turbine points or more. Of course you will be spending them from time to time on Adventure Packs, but that’s the goal.
Simple Purchase Plan
The best time to buy Adventure Packs as well as your Epic Destinies is when they go on sale. These sales are usually announced on the sign-on page or check the DDO Store Sales page. Since these are unpredictable, I listed the below at full price. These are just suggestions and everyone will have a different opinion. (It’s your account; get what you want!) You should be able to get all of these on your first lives even at the regular price and even more if you take advantage of sales and earn more favor on the Adventure Packs that you buy. All but one include quests that you can play again during epic levels.
The Catacombs - 250 TP - Level 3 good low level chain and packed with favor at this low cost.Three Barrel Cove - 695 TP - Level 5, but also epic level 25 quests.Sentinels of Stormreach - 450 TP - Levels 7 & 8, but also epic levels 20 to 21The Ruins of Gianthold - 950 TP - Levels 13 & 14, but also 24 to 25.The Druid’s Deep - 550 TP - Level 17 and also epic level 23.Epic Destinies - 995 TP - No quests, but you really need this while running epic levels.
All these cost a total 3,890 Turbine Points if you buy at the regular price, but try to get them while on sale. These five packs also give up to 473 more favor and worth another 100 TP. Buy more packs as you can. Eventually you will want to Epic Reincarnate and/or Heroic (TR) and start earning favor all over again. You won’t get first time server bonuses, but you’ll still get 25 TP for each 100 favor earned. You’ll also be opening on hard now, so things should start moving faster. On your second or third lives you may want to save for either of the expansion packs. Each life will have more quests and more favor and more Turbine Points.
You can do this daily or as frequently as you can tolerate. Log in your character from each server. Have each one make the the Silver Die roll and pick up a challenge token. Do this, exit game and go to the next. You can complete all 8 in about 10-15 minutes if you don’t dally. This will build up tons of store loot for free and build a pile of tokens making the challenges virtually free. This will also keep you from being booted from your guilds while you are occupied with characters on other servers. A lot of guilds kick out characters they deem inactive. A good guild will help out a lot both in making friends and getting ship buffs. (I recommend joining at least a level 60 guild or better.) Following this routine will build up free store loot as well as keep you guilded. You’ll also earn a bit of XP each time from those Silver rolls.
Money and Auction House
At the first 5 to 6 levels you will often run into maximum money limits (see here). If you get too close to the limit, buy potions for cure wounds, neutralize poison, remove curse, cure disease, etc… Also medium collectable and gem bag will cost about 9000 plat at the Erstwhile Emporium in House Phiarlan or Empty Handed in House Jorasco. (Get a free ingredient bag (40) from patron for The Twelve.) This also presents a problem when doing a true heroic reincarnation as the level limit will apply once more. About the only defense here is either buy expensive items that you can use or sell back next life (e.g. tomes) or pass it to someone you really really trust.
For free-to-play the auction house only lets you post one item at a time. Be sure to auction only stuff you can expect a good return on and be careful not to go over money limits in early levels. Also you can keep several auctionable items in your inventory or bank, then slowly auction each one off. This is especially easy to clear out when you are busy with characters on other servers. Just check up when you do your dice rolls. Also if you just sold an item you may need to relog before the Auction House will let you post another item.
This is just a basic plan. Modify it as you will. If you have already created several characters on a server, that’s OK, but try to focus on the main eight. If you already blew a lot of your TP on other stuff (not adventure packs), you’ll have to decide whether you can make it up or just start a new free account. The main point is you can play eight characters for free without having to constantly delete and reroll them to grind out favor. There is plenty of quests and favor already in the game. It can be challenging to continue in free-to-play, but it does not have to fry your brain and can even be enjoyable. Just play your characters, keep them, even TR them when you’re ready and have fun.
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