From Reddit to Steam to the Obsidian forums, I've seen people asking for companion builds for as long as the game has come out. There are a lot of threads with helpful guidance, and a few Youtube videos that are... alright. There are awesome builds, presented by the community, that, while not built for companions, that companions can do a good job of running themselves. That said, all of the above takes a lot more effort for a player than just having a guide for said character, so I'm going to do my best to slowly work towards making them.
A few things about these builds: If a contender for BiS (best in slot) can be found in Act 2, and a marginally better item can be found in the bottom of Od Nua, late-WM1/2, or Act 3, I'm going to have the earlier item listed. I want you to be able to reliably use these builds for a playthrough. I will generally not have items that require RNG like Adventure or Azzuro items listed if it can be helped.
Finally, my builds are not going to be the end-all be-all. If you see something in the guide, but your personal experience/playstyle has found something else to be more effective, do that, and please consider letting us know. I fully expect these builds to generate discussion, and to serve as a more centralized source of information than scouring years of threads on several different mediums in order to try and sift through the information, good and outdated, to make informed decisions.
With all that said, let's get started. Kana Stats
MIG: 16 (possible +3)
RES: 10+3 Talents
2: Ancient Memory
4: Beloved Spirits
6: Veteran's Recovery
8: Sword and Shield Style
10/12/14: Snake's Reflexes, Boar's Will*1, Bear's Fortitude
16 (Choose One): Weapon Focus Peasant or Adventurer, Superior Deflection, Cautious Attack
*1 With the immunities granted by Company Captain's Cap, you may find you don't need as much Will. If this is the case, substitute it for one of the Talents listed under options for level 16. Abilities
At Recruitment: "At the Sight of their Comrades, their Hearts Grew Bold", "Blessed Was Wengridh, Quickest of His Tribe", and "If their Bones Sleep Still Under that Hill, None Can Say".
2. "The Thunder Rolled like Waves on Black Seas"
3. "Come, Come Soft Winds of Death"
4. "White Worms Writhed in the Bellies of the Dead"*1
5. "Rime and Frost Followed the Footfalls of Karth"*2
6. "At the Sound of His Voice, the Killers Froze Stiff"
9. "The Dragon Thrashed, The Dragon Wailed"
14. "So Singt thy Biting Winds o' Eld Nary"
*1 I've never personally gotten this to work, but I know it's good. Feel free to switch it with something else (like the Phantom summon).
*2 For the Burning House event in Stalwart.
Alright, let me get this out of the way: I know there are more ways to build a Chanter than spamming Dragon Thrashed. However, there are issues when we're specifically talking about Kana: he has a DEX of 9. Even if you give him Viettro's Formal Footwear and Gauntlets of Swift Action, and build him to be as fast as he can be, it's not going to be fantastic. Yes, you can build around "Sure-Handed Ila...". Yes, you can build around "Aefyllath Ues Mith Fyr". Kana just isn't necessarily the best candidate. I think he's actually got one of the better stat spreads for his class as far as companions go (high MIG and INT), and is competent at what is the strongest, easiest Chanter strategy available.
In addition, a lot of your choices here will come down to personal preference. At level 8, Wurms, Will-o-Wisp, and "Rejoice, My Comrades!" all make sense depending on how you play your Chanter. I personally am just going to spam "the Killers Froze Stiff" most of the time, so I'd take Rejoice for emergency situations and use Figurines for my summons, but you might prefer a dedicated summoner. As long as you have Dragon Thrashed going on Kana (and or 90+% of Chanters) once you hit level 9, it really couldn't matter less what you take.
I'm inspired to make some non-Dragon Thrashed Chanters now... Equipment
Boots: Boots of the Long March
Head: Company Captain's Cap
Armor: Ryona's Breastplate*1
Neck: Voice of the Mountaintop*2
Belt: Belt of Bountiful Healing or Girdle of Maegfolc Might
Ring 1: Ring of Overseeing*3
Ring 2: Ring of Protection
Hand: Bracers of Deflection*4
Weapon: The Vile Loner's Lance, Little Savior*5
Weapon 2: Forgotten Tear of the Beloved
*1: Earlier on, I recommend Äru-Brekr. It's easy to acquire and is pretty good, granting move speed and increased deflection versus ranged attacks. If Ryona's Breastplate is being claimed by another party member ( ), then He Carries Many Scars serves as a strong substitute. In the event both are claimed, consider Lost Meadow Mail or just staying with Äru-Brekr. *2: I consider the Neck slot a very strong slot, and it's unfortunate that the Chanter-exclusive equipment is in this slot. If you find yourself not needing the AoE, consider Cloak of Comfort for an additional +5 to all defenses, or Cape of the Master Mystic to free up your Hand slot and for the strongest Of Deflection enchantment.
*3: We don't take Gathbin Family Signet here because its immunities are redundant with our Head piece, and another character could probably make better use of it. If you're not using Company Captain's Cap for some reason, strongly consider using this instead because you don't want your Dragon Thrashed spammer getting charmed/dominated and killing your party. On the other hand, if you don't feel you need the AoE, Frigid Claim, Ring of Unshackling, Ring of Deflection, and Wyrwood Ring are all considerations to replace it.
*4: Bracers of Deflection is here instead of Glittering Gauntlets due to the latter being bugged (at one point?). If it's confirmed that you're no longer going to Daze your Priest for casting Withdraw on your Chanter, then that replaces this item for the slot if you manage to get them. Hands are usually a slot relegated to Forgemaster's Gloves and Gauntlets of Swift Action. However, we carry Little Savior, and don't care about our attack speed, so using this normally highly-competitive slot for Deflection isn't as painful as it appears at first glance. That said, if you can get the Deflection in the Neck or Ring slot, Mourning Gloves, Gauntlets of Accuracy, or Celebrant's Gloves (put this on and trade Ring of Overseeing for Ring of Deflection if you get them) are excellent substitutes.
*5: Little Savior is BiS, and the main reason we're built the way we are. It is also a fairly late game item for most people. As you're leveling, consider Ilfan Byrngar's Solace and Redfield as placeholders.
This is for a low-micro, low-effort Kana. We're not using many Spellbind items. The point of this character is to sit on the frontlines with 113 Deflection, 112 Fortitude, 123 Reflex, and 118 Will with good immunities before buffs at max level (you can get this higher with some gear substitutions listed above). Kana will live, and kill everything else around him.
Forgotten Tear of the Beloved works well with our immunities, and makes up for our highly-contested Ring slots. You could even forgo The Vile Loner's Lance for it if you really don't care about trying to trigger Disorienting when we're not really trying to make him accurate with the weapon. Chanters get good use out Spellbind items because they don't interfere with Chanting, and the alternative is usually auto-attacking, so if you really want to use a certain Spellbind item, especially if it takes a less-important slot (looking at the Boot slot), go for it.
He appreciates having a Paladin in the group equipped with an Outworn Buckler, or another S&S ally with a second Little Savior from The Helwax Mold. Every party appreciates a Priest for buffs. Due to the nature of defenses in this game, I would recommend this build if you're trying to build a tanky party with stacking Defense Auras and abilities that try to outlast their foes while Dragon Thrashed, Shining Beacon, and other such effects kill the opponent due to attrition. The support builds will not make glass cannons suddenly "tanky", but might make you feel the glass just a little less often. If your party is utilizing low-Deflection strategies to trigger things like Swaddling Sheet, Sanguine Plate, and Shod-in-Faith, you may need to make some adjustments to ensure you're not interfering with your party's overall game plan.
- and that's pretty much a Kana build. This is probably the easiest companion to build simply because his stats naturally lend him towards the most meta build for Chanters anyway, so there wasn't anything crazy here. I'm hoping, as I build other companions, that things will get more creative. Hopefully this build helps you!