The Healing Flame
Build concept: The idea for this build started when I was looking for variations on my favorite Deadfire main character build, the Healing Wall. (Look on page 2 of that thread for my full description of the build and gear recommendations, extrapolated from Climhazzard’s original idea.) I originally wanted to do something simple: change the paladin subclass to Kind Wayfarer (from Shieldbearer). I wanted to make this change for two reasons. First, and most importantly, I wanted to change things up from a role-playing perspective; I like playing the diplomat for the most part, but sometimes I really want to punch someone in the face – and Kind Wayfarers, unlike Shieldbearers, don’t get a penalty for the Aggressive disposition. (If you are doing a no-rest run, don’t pick aggressive options until you’ve gotten Nature’s Resolve on Tikawara, since Aggressive disposition prevents you getting offered the mushroom in the scripted event.) Second, I was intrigued by the White Flames unique ability, and thought it would fit perfectly with the build idea; I wanted to try to build around it.
I didn’t think this would be a genuinely different build; I thought I’d basically substitute Flames of Devotion for Lay on Hands, and everything else would remain the same. You can do it that way, but you are only getting half the payoff from White Flames if you do, since it goes off twice per Flames use if you are dual-wielding, only once if not. So how can we dual-wield for the purposes of the healing going off without losing the ability to be the main tank in the party? Answer: bashing shields (Magran’s Blessing in particular). Since the point isn’t the damage, but the healing burst, the lower damage doesn’t matter much, and you can keep your sky-high defenses (by combining 2-weapon style with weapon and shield style). With the much lower recovery time, too, it is easier to get off a healing Flames right when you need it, instead of being locked into recovery. How else to maximize White Flames? Fire power levels – Magran’s Favor axe (+2 fire PL). And now it looks like we have a character theme that also works mechanically – a passionate paladin, perhaps pledged to Magran (or near to her heart), aggressive, kicking butts and smashing faces for goodness! All the while healing the party.
The change to dual-wielding and focusing on Flames for healing actually changes the playstyle significantly. Instead of planting himself in the middle of the fight and casting (summons and healing spells) as the Healing Wall does, this character is constantly attacking (still from the middle of the fight, though), and you need to pick your moments to use your Flames of Devotion (when some of your party gets below half health). People who don’t like playing the Healing Wall may well really enjoy playing this. Equipment and talent choices turn out to be surprisingly different, as well. Finally, White Flames offers a genuine healing advantage over the Healing Wall’s Lay on Hands because it is party-wide. Because of these facts, I think this has become a genuinely distinct build that warrants its own post, instead of just a minor variation within the general Healing Wall build.
With that introduction, I present the Healing Flame.
The Healing Flame
Difficulty: PotD v. 5.0
Solo: not intended for solo
Class: Paladin (Kind Wayfarer)/Chanter (Troubadour)
Race: Moon Godlike
Background: Get one that boosts Might or Intelligence.
Stats: Max Might and Intelligence, everything else at 10
Skills: Your choice; none helps the build in particular
Weapon Proficiencies: medium shield, sword, axe, whatever
Abilities (!=important, r=recommended, (a) automatic) PL 1 (levels 1-3)
(a) Flames of Devotion (!)
Sworn Enemy (r)
Deep Faith (!)
Soft Winds (r)
Thunder rolled (r)
PL 2 (levels 4-6)
Zealous Auras (!)
Weapon and shield style (!)
Pick 1 of: Divine Purpose, Inspiring Triumph, or Inspired Defenses
2-weapon style (!)
PL 3 (levels 7-9)
Shared Flames (!)
Sworn Rival (r)
Ancient Memory (!)
Two Fingers of Daylight (r)
PL 4 (levels 10-12)
Exalted Endurance (!)
Scion of Flame (!)
Inspired Path (r)
Mith Fyr chant (r)
PL 5 (levels 13-15)
Practiced healer (!)
Clear Head or Iron Gut
Thunder Rolled upgrade
PL 6 (levels 16-18)
Clear Head or Iron Gut (remaining one)
Their Champion Braved the Horde Alone
They Shielded Their Eyes ‘Gainst the Fampyr’s Gaze
PL 7 (levels 19-20)
Mercy and Kindness (!)
Ancient Weapons summon or Skeleton summon chant
Items (!=important, r=recommended)
Weapon Set 1: Magran’s Favor (! - +Blazing Core !), Magran’s Blessing (! - +Purifying Flame (r), +Righteous Bash (r))
Weapon Set 2: Sun and Moon (+Solar Excellence, +Golden Sun), Magran's Blessing
(The second set does almost the same thing the first set does, but gives you an all-crushing-damage set option. As Boeroer points out below, you can wield Magran's Favor and the Sun and Moon flail together for +4 fire power levels, but that costs you significantly on your defenses. I don't think it is worth it, but if you have a tanky party already, you could do it.)
Head: None (moon godlike)
Back: Three Trolls Stitched (or Cloak of Greater Protection/Deflection)
Neck: Bone Setter’s Torc (!)
Armor: Blackened Plate Armor (! - +Life in Death (!), +Usher’s Visage)
Waist: Physicker’s Belt (!)
Hands: Gauntlets of Ogre Might (!)
Rings: Ring of Focused Flame (!), Ring of Greater Regeneration (r)
Boots: Footprints of Ahu Taka (!) (or Shod-in-Faith, from the Spoils of Caed Nua mod)
Pet: Prissy (! - +15% healing done)
Early game equipment: The Blackened Plate Armor, Magran’s Favor, and Bonesetter’s Torc can be relatively late-game acquisitions. Before then, the Gladiator Sword is really good on this character, and can carry you until Magran’s Favor. The Sun and Moon flail is a good substitute for Magran's Favor (if you don't want to rush to the island it is on), if you make sure you do your fighting during the daytime to get the +2 Fire PL -- the Ring of Focused Flame will actually increase the accuracy of the Sun flail head. Armor is more up to you; you may find your personal regeneration is high enough that you can go with a medium armor. Nomad’s Brigandine, Honor Guard Breastplate with Pride of the Ducs, and Devil of Caroc breastplate are all pretty good (and the Devil breastplate will give you 2 extra uses of Flames of Devotion per encounter), but anything with bonus defensive stuff would be good. There are a lot of good amulets: Charm of Bones, Heart-Chime Amulet, Orishia, Cog of Cohh, Stone of Power, Cipher’s Shackle are all good choices.
Strengths of the Build:
Constant Party-Wide Regeneration: The Core Idea
This build keeps the central idea of the Healing Wall build, which is to stack constant party-wide regeneration effects. There are three: the paladin’s Exalted Endurance aura, the Ancient Memory chant, and the Life in Death upgrade to the Blackened Plate armor. To support those regeneration effects, we want to maximize might and stack +healing gear, which is why I’ve chosen the belt, boots, gauntlets, and necklace we have. We also want to maximize intelligence to make the auras as wide as possible; also, 20 intelligence allows us to use a second chant as Troubadour (I use Mith Fyr until getting Mercy and Kindness at level 19) without any downtime for Ancient Memory.
All those stacked healing bonuses will also affect the Ring of Greater Regeneration and Three Trolls Stitched, so you’ll be very hard to bring down. If you go down, the party goes down soon after, since you are the health battery.
White Flames and other healing bursts
Since we’ve stacked +healing gear and might, we can also take advantage of other ways to heal. The key point at which this build diverges from the Healing Wall build is its focus on the Kind Wayfarer White Flames upgrade to Flames of Devotion. All of your Zeal (except for the initial 1 spent on Sworn Rival) will go into using Flames of Devotion, which in this build is a healing spell – the damage to the opponent is a bonus. Inspired Zeal and Virtuous Triumph will get you more uses of Flames per encounter. Ring of Focused Flame helps the accuracy of Flames of Devotion, which is important because if you miss, the healing burst doesn’t go off.
I highly recommend doing a no-rest run with this character, even more than with the Healing Wall. Permanent Dawnstar’s Blessing (+50% healing) is just as good on this character as the Healing Wall; this character uses no per-rest healing spells (unlike the way I equipped the Healing Wall); and this character benefits much more than the Healing Wall from Nature’s Resolve that you can get from the scripted encounter on Tikawara, since the +10 accuracy helps land Flames of Devotion. I find no-rest runs rather fun, simply because you have to take injuries more seriously: you’ll need to use one of your limited Adra potions, or trek all the way to the baths in Neketaka, so you’ll have to try to win your fights “clean,” with no one going down. That's a fun challenge when your main character is built to keep the whole party standing, like this one is; it is nice extra challenge and test of the build, not just a way to boost your power. That also strikes me as a more plausible way of dealing with injuries – camping for the night can’t possibly help a “gaping wound”, after all. If you don’t like no-resting, you can use AndreaColumbo’s mod for permanent per-rest bonuses; I get rid of the optional parts, so it just applies mainly to those two buffs and the Alchemic stat boosts.
We also have other sources of healing, none of which involve spells with long casting times. (I stayed away from spells with long casting times, since it goes against the feel of playing this character, and makes it feel more like the Healing Wall.) One is the Moon Godlike’s Silver Tide. I highly recommend Caelum’s Godlike Rebalance mod (which can be found on the Steam Workshop), as it restores Godlike abilities to usefulness. It doesn’t break the game at all – it is what the game should have been in the first place. It makes Silver Tide feel like it did in Pillars 1; a very useful heal that goes off automatically as you get hurt. But even if you don’t use that mod, Silver Tide is nice and fits the build.
The other is the chanter invocation Two Fingers of Daylight. I always have trouble aiming the thing, but it has a half-second cast time, which is great, and the immunity to Resolve afflictions is situationally useful. Since this character won’t be doing as much summoning as the Healing Wall, it has phrases to spend, and might as well have a healing option to spend them on.
Speaking of mods: I recommend the mod Spoils of Caed Nua (by MaxQuest), which adapts some items from Pillars 1 and inserts them into Deadfire. One is the Shod-in-Faith boots. If you have those, they are perfect for this build – another party-wide healing spell that triggers automatically. I played this character with that mod and the Godlike rebalance mod, and it felt like being back in Pillars 1, with a Moon Godlike front-liner with Shod-in-Faith taking hits and pulsing out healing. Enjoyably nostalgic.
Party buffing and enemy debuffing
In addition to providing all the healing your party will ever need, we can take advantage of the large AOE boost from high intelligence and central location in the battle as a tank by getting other constant party-wide buffs. This character has the Mith Fyr chant and Shared Flames, boosting party damage.
You also get two ways to debuff the enemy. One is the Usher’s Visage upgrade to the Blackened Plate Armor which is an aura that gives -1 AR to enemies. The other is the Thunder Rolled invocation, which you have phrases to use since you won’t be using them on summons as much as the Healing Wall. Again, this has a half-second cast time, so you don’t feel like you are sitting and casting. That’s the main invocation you’ll be using in battle.
This character loses very little in the way of defenses from the Healing Wall. It uses a medium shield instead of a large one, so it loses a few points on deflection and reflex, but it can use the Block modal to compensate if you want. But the defenses are still sky-high, making a great tank.
With the gear and ability choices I’ve made, he has only three affliction resistances: perception, intelligence, constitution (paladin abilities). It loses out on the Might affliction resistance from race and the resolve from the helmet that the Healing Wall gets with the gear choices I made; the might one matters a bit more, actually, since it reduces healing. If you are roleplaying passionate, you might get the Watcher’s Ire ability, which give a Might inspiration on use, which could help
The big thing you lose when you move from the Healing Wall to the Healing Flame is actually the summoning. Summons are so incredibly useful, but they really change the feel of the gameplay, back to a melee-caster (which is what the Healing Wall feels like) rather than an aggressive melee attacker. You lose the flexibility to pop a suddenly-needed Flames, since you are locked into a long cast time. You could just keep doing the summoning (you have access to the same invocations, and they are just as good), but I think it violates the character idea. I compromised; I took the Ogre summon invocation, but I just didn’t use it all that much. (Edit: I realized that I made an obvious mistake and forgot Scion of Flame. I got rid of the Ogre summons for it; using the stunning invocation was more fun anyway.) It is there for the fights you need it, but it isn’t the automatic-use spell it was for the Healing Wall. If you want more summoning, you can take the wurm summon early if you like. As I said, summoning is incredibly powerful.
Damage isn’t your priority; you are a party healer and tank. But this build does quite a lot more damage than the Healing Wall (which did very little). (Though, honestly, I’m not sure how to calculate the summons’ damage; the Healing Wall gets more damage that doesn’t show up on the Records sheet from the summons that the Healing Flame isn’t getting as much, and I don’t know how to weigh that. My impression was always that the wurms did ok damage early, but that the Ogres were pretty much just damage sponges with very little damage output of their own.) You’ll actually contribute to the total damage done, with Sworn Rival up, dual-wielding, and lots of boosted Flames of Devotion.