The Mind Captain
A party leader that jumps into the fray being an offtank (and main tank later) and inflicting a lot of debuffs and cc, as well as dishing out decent melee damage when needed.
Cipher (Beguiler) / Fighter (Tactician)
Difficulty: 5.0 PotD (level scaling up)
Solo: not tested, most likely not possible in high difficulties
It has been a while (and a lot of different watchers) since I wrote a full character guide, but I had so much fun with this one that I wanted to share the experience.
As always, I try to balance efficiency with fun and roleplaying. There will be no min-maxing here. That being said, the character is still very efficient. This build was all about finding synergies and solutions to undermine the weaknesses of classes. I wanted to play melee multiclass cipher, but soulblade never really attracted me (too straightforward), and I like my watcher to be able to hold his own in melee combat and be at least offtank.
However, tanking as a Cipher is, in most cases, not the greatest idea, as the core feature of the class, aka focus generation, gets better the more damage you deal. The beguiler pick was obvious for the non-damage tied focus generation, and mind deception spells was a playstyle I wanted anyways.
Fighter would provide some durability and nice passives. The tactician subclass can be very powerful, and it is known that cipher has, from the very beginning, efficient ways to enable flanked on a lot of ennemies (eyestrike and phantom foes). There are quite a lt of tactician psyblades guides out there, but they are mostly ranged, to avoid the pesky tactical dilemma debuff. I found it was not too hard to work around it.
The character got fine tuned during the playthrough. Every new level brought more options and interesting synergies. I felt definitely starved in terms of ability points (as are most multiclass characters), respec came handy in keeping every level relevant.
In the end (I take PotD Forgotten Sanctum as a reference), the character flawlessely achieved what I wanted in the premise: Sufficient survivability to tank late game, plenty of CC/debuffs, and decent melee damage when required.
Race: Human was picked for RP preferences. Pick the one you enjoy the most.
Origin: None of the stats are min-max. Pick what you like and adjust.
(I got Blessing of Berath for M12 CON12 DEX12 PER18 INT20 RES16 but it is not critical).
I like having high mental stats for roleplay purposes. He is a captain after all, so it is normal that his intelligence and resolve are high. Per is incredibly valuable to land cipher spells, and intelligence is a must to sustain the afflictions and nice self buffs.
You don’t need more than 10 con for survivability thanks to decent resolve, party buffs, defensive passives, and the very long duration on your constant recovery.
Might is additive so left at 10(12 with BoB), dex could benefit from being higher, but a lot of cipher spells are quick cast, and the character will have a low recovery anyways.
I chose my passive skills for roleplay purposes: diplomacy/bluff/metaphysics, but get the ones you want, it has no impact on the build. Intimidation and Insight are good candidates.
In terms of actives, I went for athletics and alchemy.
Weapon and shield.
You can consider other options if you are playing on normal/veteran, in which case I would recommend two-handed
The most important for the gear in this build is to offset the tactical dilemma debuff. There are two ways to do it:
- Getting immunity to flanked:
This is the most straightforward, but locks your weapon options to Squid's Grasp and Kapana Taga (club modal debuffs will which can help us a lot). Although they are decent weapons (especially kapana, squid having the often resisted pierce damage), there are plethora of great weapons, and you might want to vary things a bit
- Getting resistance to mind and intellect affliction:
This is the alternative, instead of not triggering the effect, you cancel the consequences.
You can get the fearless ability so that you do not have to worry about Shaken, and any mind immunity/resistance, via food, chanter, or Modwyr. DoC breastplate is an option as well, but I do not like the +35% recovery, even with armored grace (see below).
This solution is less ideal, as you would still get the flanked debuff and therefore be unable to trigger Brilliant, but it has the advantage of opening the weapon slot to whatever you fancy, and protects from other sources of these afflictions as well.
Note that later in the game, it matters much less as a lot of ennemies will have cc or debuffs preventing them from flanking you. Then you just have to worry about perception afflictions that will get you flanked (looking at you, persistent distraction principi rogues).
As the levels increase, so does your survivability through debuff/cc and self buff. I started with a medium armor for the early parts of the game, then switched to Miscreant Leathers, which with armored grace actually deacreases recovery time.
Later on, I switched to robes for the affliction immunities (Effigy's Husk and Spider Silk robe), respecing armored grace and saving me a precious ability point. 7 armor (9 with body attunement, 10 if you burnt a Mythic Adra Stone on it) will not mitigate any damage but will most of the time prevent overpen, and you get missed/grazed a lot, so I found it very sufficient. Main drawback is that robes look ugly, an issue that can be solved by mods (I modded Effigy's Husk and Spider Silk to look like the Valian Frock Coat )
Fair Favor if you are using a compatible weapon, otherwise any good helmet. Mask of the Weyc is nice, pearlescent rombstone etc.
For the rest I swapped things around often, prioritizing survivability, per and int, as well as dialogue stats.
This is where the synergies really start to kick in.
Lvl 1 pick, usefull through the whole game. Blind is a great debuff in itself, and it triggers flanked which is amazing for tactician.
Eyestrike's only drawback is the small aoe. 1 cast of Phantom Foes with our high int is likely to flank the whole battlefield, triggering Brilliant, and generating tons of focus.
Fast debuff, decent aoe ususally refunds itself.
Excellent offensive and defensive self buff + debuff. Have it constantly on
Situational but i like to have it handy for heavy armored ennemies
Whispers of Treason>Ringleader
Take whispers first, then respec when you get ringleader. Charm/Dominate is the most powerfull CC in the game, and ennemies have their will destroyed by all the previous spells, coupled with our sky high accuracy and various cipher passive bonus to will targeting spells to almost guarantee hits/crits. Honestly, Ringleader trivializes most of the encounters, no matter the difficulty. (Except mind/intellect immune obviously)
Very valuable for us, as it lowers ennemies will (confused) preparing for more cipher spells, lowers their damage output by a lot (Dazed). And dazed ennemies cannot flank you, which is great for tactician. Also, mind plague is a great beguiler spell as it will still jump to already affected targets, generating more hits and therefore more focus as long as there are two ennemies left. (As opposed to aoe deception spells that can only hit once per ennemy).
Any Cipher Damage Spell
Get one you like (I recommend amplified thrust , but any can work. Ectopsychic Echo if you do not mind the micromanagement) until you get amplified wave, then respec it.
Get it and spam it. It will affect a huge aoe interrupt, multiplying our chances at getting some discipline back through tactician passive, even without brilliant. Damage is not too bad either on trash mobs.
Are not a priority, but whenever you have spare points get: Draining Whip, Lingering Echoes, Empty Souls, Hammering Thoughts, The Complete Self, Rapid Casting, Psychic Backlash, and any you like.
Acute is very strong with our cipher spells. Have it constantly on. Can also be recast to get rid of a per affliction (getting you flanked). Always useful
Mule Kick/Penetrating strike
Pick one. Mule Kick does more damage, accuracy and CC, refunds itself on interrupt and is a primary attack which is relatively better for 1 hand users, but costs 2 ability points. Penetrating strike is good against most bosses, but looses a lot of it's value as a full attack. I played most of the game with penetrating strike but would actually recommend mule kick now.
We want to be in conqueror stance for that +acc +def
Improves survivability a lot, lasts long thanks to our high int, can be spammed thanks to brilliant, and gets you resolute, solutionning the problem of getting your cast interrupted (that you only have on mind plage and amplified wave, all the other abilities are quick casts). I would take this over more healing.
I didn't use it because I was starved for points and never felt the need for it (I have a very defensive party), but I see it being very good, combined with already high defenses and borrowed instinct being always on. It might be an even better defensive tool than unbending, I just really liked the perma Resolute.
Expensive, especially as a multiclass when you cannot upgrade it to inspiring strike, But since you can proc Brilliant very easily by the time you get it, as well as multiple interrupts with amplified wave restoring your discipline, the cost is not that steep.
Getting this is the reason why I prefer mule kick over penetrating strike now, Power Strike taking the role of that armor penetrating heavy melee attack.
Armored grace if you are not using robes, weapon and shield style, fearless if you have no other way of mitigating tactical dilemma Shaken (otherwise unbending Shield will take care of your resolve afflictions), Uncanny luck.
Strategy and gameplay :
Cast Disciplined Strike and Borrowed instinct (always have both on), run into melee, then cast debuffs/dominate. You should have all your ennemies afflicted by plethora of debuffs in no time, letting your party wreak them . When focus piles up from your deception spell casts, use amplified wave liberally. Use mule kick for quick damage (and focus regen)/interrupt. Have unbending shield on when you start taking a bit of damage. When you trigger brilliant, feel free to, use your discipline more offensively (Power Strike!).
There it is, my fantasy of a watcher running in the fray, hacking and slashing, and messing up ennemies minds is finally fulfilled.