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Posts posted by semiticgod

  1. Does anyone know how many things trigger Combusting Wounds? If it applies multiple times from Chill Fog, would it also apply multiple times from Ectopsychic Echo? What about multiple beam spells like Ray of Fire, or cloud spells, or damage over-time effects like Envenomed Strike? Does it also apply to the negative Endurance effect from a chanter's song? It seems like an excellent way to magnify damage, both on crowds and on critters with high damage reduction.

    • Like 1
  2. If you guys have been interested in Nizidramanii'yt's poverty run, then I have bad news: I don't plan on continuing this run any further.


    There are two reasons for this. First, the party is kind of simple and gameplay isn't very diverse. We only have three different classes across six party members, and our same-class characters aren't that different from each other in terms of their functions and abilities. Plus, without items, there's not much customization to do and XP is the only thing of value we can obtain. This party has little growth in its future beyond gaining levels, and gameplay is not going to evolve very much as time goes on.


    In a word, the run is going to get increasingly less interesting as time goes on.


    The second reason is that, based on our progress thus far, the likelihood of getting past Thaos is extremely slim, and the odds of even getting close to him aren't much better. We're way too vulnerable to sudden knockouts from burst damage, and with no Scrolls of Revival or paladins on hand, it'll take ages before we'll have any revival options. This is a Hard run rather than Path of the Damned, so the numbers will be a little more forgiving, but the root problem is not something I know how to fix: we can't bounce back when things go wrong


    Despite our success so far, the run seems doomed in the long run when I factor in how little experience I have with PoE.


    A poverty run with my rules (they're much stricter than the ones I saw in Harpagornis' run) seems perfectly doable; getting to Defiance Bay didn't require strokes of luck or anything like that, and there are lots of other fights that you don't need items to win. But I don't think I have the game knowledge to complete this one, and I think a different run will be more enlightening.

    • Like 3
  3. Nizidramanii'yt, Hearth Orlan Wizard (Poverty run)


    We skip most of the wilderness fights on the way to Defiance Bay (we took down a single Pwgra using blindness and druid spells), we head to the Catacombs of Defiance Bay, where we suffer lots of damage from the Primordials, though nothing endangers the party's survival.


    Then we tackle some skeletons, who remind us of our one biggest weakness as a party: we have no item-based damage reduction. Just like burst damage from crossbows knocked out Rosevine in an earlier fight, burst damage from the Skeleton Wizards' damage spells does horrible things to poor Nizidramanii'yt.



    Then another wizard follows up with Bounding Missiles, which knocks out Divinegon and costs us a Consecrated Ground spell. A healing spell from our other priest, Zovai, and Nizidramanii'yt's Second Wind bring our main wizard back up to speed, but the enemy still isn't done: another Bounding Missiles spell takes down Frost, our second wizard.


    Worse yet, we've got two Necrotic Lances coming up, and all we've been able to do is deal some light damage and blind one of the mages with Sunbeam. But our druids' Dancing Bolts spells have been making progress on the enemy. It's enough to finish off the non-blinded enemy mage, sparing us an ugly Necrotic Lance spell.


    Rosevine fails to finish off the other mage, but thanks to blindness, the Necrotic Lance misses us. Bad luck could have left us with two more fallen party members and two enemy mages still intact.


    We visit the cult at the bottom of the area and resolve the quest without violence, getting the whole party up to level 4. Now we're ready to deal with the Primordials I skipped earlier. A summoned Blight soaks up a Dank Spore's confusion effect, leaving the rest of the party fully functional. As long as the party is alive and well, we can deal massive damage with area-effect spells.


    After some Dancing Bolts, the enemy is spread out in just the right way for us to blast them with Iconic Projection. I must agree with @Alesa_BH; I've consistently found that Iconic Projection offers surprisingly solid damage output. Priests have good offensive capabilities; they're not just useful for healing and buff spells.


    Next up, Heritage Hill!


    Right off the bat, we get crushed. Multiple mages accost us in the first fight, and a combination of Necrotic Lance and Bounding Missiles spells knock out three party members on the first round of combat.


    But our druids already summoned their Blights, who hold off the enemy fighters even after their summoners have fallen. With both priests still very much alive, our defenses are solid, and Nizidramanii'yt and our twin priests still have enough damage output to bring down the distracted skeletons while they struggle to kill our Blights.


    We're not done with mages, however. In the fight by the tower, Nizidramanii'yt falls to a single Necrotic Lance.


    Notice the poor positioning of our Blights: one is at the choke point in front of the party, while another is surrounded by enemies beyond the choke point. I spread out the Blights because I hoped the more distant one could distract the mages, but mostly it just got our second Blight exposed to more danger.


    No Nizidramanii'yt means no Slicken spell, and we have no other means of keeping the enemy wizards at bay. All we can do is focus our attention on the enemy fighters to bring them down quickly. We blast them with damage spells and weather the enemy wizards' attacks as best as we can, but ultimately, we can't keep pace with the enemy's damage output, and our second wizard falls.


    We've managed to isolate an enemy mage, but we can't quite pin it down. Eventually, Rosevine manages to summon a Blight, but she's too late to distract the remaining mage, who knocks out our other druid, Mora Tai.


    The Darguls paralyze Rosevine, but our numerous spells have done a lot to wear down the enemy, clearing out many of the melee enemies and wounding the last mage. Finally, one of our priests just barely manages to take down the enemy mage with a ranged attack.



    • Like 3
  4. Nizidramanii'yt, Hearth Orlan Wizard (Poverty run)


    Back to the poverty run! We need a little more XP before we tackle Caed Nua, since we've got very few resources to handle dangerous critters like Phantoms, so we run around in search of enemies and quests. We've got one big task ahead of us: the bandits around the lost shipment to Gilded Vale.


    Here's one of the many problems with poverty runs: since your tanks can't wear armor, you're pretty much at the mercy of enemy weapons unless you're a wizard with Arcane Veil. And even Rosevine doesn't have the Endurance to handle a volley of crossbow bolts.



    We have a few moments before the next volley comes, so we buy some time with Slicken and follow up with Winter Wind. By the time the melee enemies reach us, they are badly wounded and Frost is already in position for a deadly Fan of Flames spell.


    Mora Tai helps clean up the surviving melee grunts in bear form and Frost finishes the last one with Concelhaut's.


    The next fight with humanoids plays out fairly similarly: Rosevine takes massive damage from introductory attacks, but Slicken keeps the melee fighters at bay for a moment, allowing our druids to blast them with cone-shaped damage spells.



    Finally, Nizidramanii'yt hits level 4 and takes Hardened Veil. I don't know if we're ready for Caed Nua, but we're as close as we're going to get. We pack our party against a wall, lure the Spirits closer, and open with Summon Blight. Frost and Nizidramanii'yt, our mages, are at the front, using Arcane Veil to avoid attacks (their low Fortitude doesn't matter if they don't get hit) and Concelhaut's to deal damage fast.


    The strategy works marvelously. One of our Blights keeps three Spirits distracted to the east while the rest of the party quickly dispatches the nearby Phantom. Wizards are fantastic for poverty runs (as long as your rules permit starting grimoires, at least).


    Druids are also very useful; their bombing spells offer substantial burst damage, earning fast kills and preventing the party from suffering from much pressure.


    Summon Blight offers a great decoy, but the spell takes a rather long time to cast. We only got our Blights out this early because we lured the enemy from a considerable distance away.


    We try the same thing against the Spirits inside the castle. By the time the Spirits reach the alcove where the party is hiding, we've already brought out two Blights. The enemy does terrible things to the Blights, but since we got Flame Blights, they deal massive damage to the enemy when they fall.



    Dancing Bolts from our druids lets us make even more progress against the Spirits. By the time our mages engage the Spirits with Concelhaut's, the enemy is already mostly dead.


    Outside, we can't corner the party so well, which exposes our back line to pressure and gets Nizidramanii'yt stunned. Our druids bail her out with damage spells that take down the enemy before they get finish her off.


    Then we approach the Spirits with the Will o' Wisps at the back, and things start out much uglier. The Will o' Wisps fire off their bolt spells, and we quickly lose one of our druids. Mora Tai might have survived if he had used Second Wind, but confusion made that impossible.


    We've got Spirits bearing down on the party, but we've applied blindness and Combusting Wounds, and twin Iconic Projection spells do a lot against the low-Endurance Spirits.


    Rosevine takes down two Shadows with Autumn's Decay, and our mages put down the survivors with Concelhaut's. Our defenses might be awful, but a lack of items does almost nothing to diminish a spellcaster's damage output.


    Done! We muddle through the fights with the spiders (we need to take a trip back to town once or twice to deal with all these critters) and pick the lock to Maerwald's room. I never thought about whether lockpicks would be allowed in a poverty run, but since they're in the stash instead of our inventory, they're fine with the rules I set out in the starting post.


    We open with Inspiring Radiance, Consecrated Ground, Insect Swarm, and Autumn's Decay, dealing some modest damage while letting us shrug off Maerwald's Corrosive Siphon spell. We get Armor of Faith and Blessing off the ground and nail Maerwald with a blindness spell.


    Frost is struggling to cast Combusting Wounds, but due to some bug, she goes several rounds without doing anything. Does anyone know why a character might refuse to take an order even when the action icon shows up correctly on their portrait? I don't see how she'd be unable to see her target; there aren't any walls getting in her way, and she's not disabled by anything.


    Nizidramanii'yt is functioning properly, however, and knocks Maerwald off his feet with Slicken, taking advantage of his weaker Reflex defense.


    By canceling Frost's order, having her walk a short distance away, and re-issuing the order (and I think I had to do this twice), we finally get Frost to cast Combusting Wounds. It lands, but it's hardly necessary: Maerwald is already alone and blinded, and thanks to Consecrated Ground and Slicken, no one in the party needs to dedicate a round to healing. We take him down with Concelhaut's and shapeshifting.


    On to Defiance Bay!

    • Like 3
  5. I see the value in a melee cipher dual-wielding sabers or what have you, but I think a ranged weapon has better synergy with the class. Ciphers benefit from high Dexterity and low armor because they want to alternate between Powers and normal attacks, and wearing armor, which is fairly important for melee combat, really slows them down. Psychovampiric Shield is long-lasting and strong, but but it's one of the few defensive Powers they have (several of the others can only be used on other party members; not the cipher itself). The cipher's strongest spells are all ranged attacks, so dual-wielding only buys a little more offensive power compared to ranged attacks, while putting the cipher in a level of danger that it's not really well-suited to. Most classes have more defensive options on hand.


    If the cipher had good support from the party and could fight safely in lighter armor, I can see how it would be useful, but I see their melee role as more akin to rogues: attacking from the sides, preferably on weakened targets, while avoiding engagement with many enemies.

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  6. I'd vote for a place in Honorable Mentions. Regular posting should be strongly encouraged, but denying a character a spot on the list is a bit harsh.


    I'd also vote for Alora the rogue in a party. Better to practice the rogue before undertaking a solo run; it'll make the solo run last longer.


    I definitely support the idea that we should hold off on the PoE2 thread until we have at least 3 people ready to start simultaneously--and maybe we should open with several posts on the same day, to establish a positive trend early. I should be ready to do so in January.


    As for ciphers, I'd consider them a very effective class. I worked with ciphers a lot during my "no per-rest abilities" run and found that they have offensive potential that's difficult to match. With Biting Whip and Soul Whip, they have 40% extra base damage to all physical attacks, as @Jaheiras Witness mentioned, which already gives them some of the best damage output in the game. Their Powers make a huge impact in encounters, which I should address individually:


    1. Whisper of Treason has a short duration, but it also only takes 10 Focus, and can be learned from level 1. A level 3 cipher enters combat with 10 Focus and few enemies have strong Will defenses, so a cipher can charm a single enemy at the start of combat and immediately cause several enemies to attack each other when they would otherwise engage the party, since the charmed critter is closer than the party. That's the key distinction: if you use it early on, it screws with multiple enemies; not just one.


    2. Antipathetic Field (10 Focus) is very party-unfriendly and isn't always the best option on hand for that reason. However, the damage is substantial and few enemies have extra resistances against corrosion damage. In the few fights where it's safe to use, it can deal much more damage than any spell of similar level, though it does so over time.


    3. Amplified Thrust (20 Focus) is a key rescue option in certain circumstances. The knockback can break engagement, which lets a threatened character scurry away without risking a disengagement attack. The damage of Amplified Thrust is also extremely high, which helps break through high damage Reduction.


    4. Mental Binding (20 Focus) is a paralysis effect with an important bonus: it targets Will defenses, which makes it much more reliable than Fetid Caress.


    5. Puppet Master (30 Focus) has the same benefits as Whisper of Treason, but imposes no stat penalties while it's active, and also lasts 60% longer. I normally prefer Whisper of Treason, since both have the same Accuracy, but Puppet Master is the better option when the cipher's Focus is not at risk of running low.


    6. Ectopsychic Echo (30 Focus) is, as far as I can tell, by far the best damage spell available anywhere near level 5. It targets the Reflex defense (though at +5 instead of +10, unlike other spells) and deals 20-30 damage per second for 10 seconds. A high-Might, high-Perception cipher can deal over 300 damage to multiple enemies with this spell, and since it hits multiple times, it's not as subject to bad luck (though it does mean damage reduction applies multiple times, which can substantially decrease the damage).


    The key thing here is that you need an ally who can drag the beam over multiple enemies, and I'm guessing your playstyle, @Alesia_BH, generally involves keeping the enemy together, and very rarely involves sending a lone ally past the enemy wall. The disadvantage is that you isolate one party member from the group and also spend a few seconds having them move around rather than attacking. However, the benefit is worth it: I've routinely found that Ectopsychic Echo can bring entire groups of enemies down to low Endurance while repeatedly interrupting them before it even runs out. I have a lot of practice in dragging beams over enemies due to my experimentation with Agannazar's Scorcher in BG, so others might find it clumsier to use, but Ectopsychic Echo has broken many encounters for me. Few enemies can stand up to it.


    7. Soul Ignition doesn't deal as much damage as Ectopsychic Echo (90 fire damage over 10 seconds), but since it targets Fortitude instead of Reflex, it's more useful against certain enemies. It also doesn't require any special positioning, unlike Ectopsychic Echo.


    8. Silent Scream is an 8-second stun effect that also deals high area-effect Raw damage for situations where Ectopsychic Echo would be hobbled by high damage reduction. Both effects target Will, so it's also very reliable.


    I'm not very familiar with the other cipher spells, since the above have been the ideal options for almost every situation.


    I don't think the cipher should be compared to a wizard any more than a priest should be compared to a wizard; they occupy different roles. Ciphers are primarily ranged damage dealers with Will-based disablers on the side for special duties. Unarmored and with high Perception, Might, and Dexterity (the Grieving Mother is kind of subpar, in my opinion), they are excellent at pinning down key threats, screwing with enemy functioning via Whisper of Treason, isolating heavy hitters with Mental Binding, bailing out endangered characters with Amplified Thrust, and dealing massive area-effect damage using Ectopsychic Echo. Generating Focus should be fairly simple with Biting Whip, Draining Whip, decent stats, and no armor, and opening with an arbalest or firearm gives them a lot of Focus early on. Targeting low-Deflection critters generates Focus more reliably.


    Think of them as offensive-oriented archers with Will-base disablers and a high-damage, party-friendly beam spell in the form of Ectopsychic Echo. They're very much nonstandard characters when compared to conventional D&D classes, but they're good at killing stuff.

    • Like 3
  7. You guys are sweet, but I think I'll wait and see if there's a Christmas discount before the holidays. I'm not poor; I'm just really cheap. I'll tell my brother about it--normally my family has trouble figuring out what to get me because I don't really want things (I'm lucky that way), though my brother has a way of thinking of the perfect gifts.

    • Like 2
  8. Nizidramanii'yt, Hearth Orlan Wizard (Poverty run)


    As it happens, the early game is actually fairly easy if you've got a druid. A lot of the early-game fights are against Beasts, and even level 1 druids can charm them pretty easily.


    Plus, while this party has very limited options for sustainable damage, we do have great burst damage, since we have six full-time spellcasters. And even without using spells, our mages can hit pretty hard with Concelhaut's.


    We carefully pick our fights to make sure I don't run into anything too scary, and gradually get Nizi up to level 3, giving her blindness and some better defenses. I really like how she looks; the Ixamitl outfit is quite fancy.


    Beasts are one thing, but humanoids are a little tougher to deal with. But fully rested, we have some decent disablers against humanoids as well: Slicken is a short-lasting but very reliable disabler.


    Once we return to the inn to report our success in saving the cook from the bandits, all our custom characters hit level 2! All of my options are geared towards optimizing our offensive potential.






    Why not shore up our defenses? Well, Superior Deflection doesn't show up for some reason, and there's not much else we can do to improve our defenses. Besides, our Deflection is going to be extremely low for pretty much the whole game aside from our mages during Arcane Veil, so if we're taking pressure, we're probably dead whether our Deflection is 30 or 35.


    Anyway, with blindness on hand, we can handle some heavy hitters for short periods of time, and when we've got lots of enemies on the map, our druids can blast them with area-effect spells.


    We have trouble against the Sporelings, however. We let our druids take the confusion spells from the Dank Spores, then have our mages rush in with Arcane Veil to deal damage with their staffs. Unfortunately, they get confused pretty easily as well, forcing us to resort to ranged spells.


    In the temple of Eothas, we try our hand at the spiders and Spirits, using rest bonuses to get +10 Accuracy against each one. Frost ends up playing a major role thanks to her Fan of Flames spells.



    For tougher fights, we use choke points, Dancing Bolts, and blindness spells to apply spell damage from a safe position.


    We set foot on level 2, but go no further; we're not ready to mess with Spirits tougher than Will o' Wisps. I'm worried about the fight at Caed Nua, and we need to make sure we're as strong as possible before we take on the Phantoms and Shadows.


    Since this is a poverty run, of course, we can only do two things to make the party stronger: gain levels, and practice our strategy. We've got some work to do before we're ready to handle Caed Nua.

    • Like 3
  9. Nizidramanii'yt, Hearth Orlan Wizard

    Difficulty: Hard

    Settings: Injuries on zero Endurance; Maim before death on zero Health

    Mods: None

    Special: Poverty run (no items in inventory besides cosmetic items and starting grimoires; copper can only be used for rests and quests)


    I've decided to try my hand at a poverty run, bumping the difficulty from PotD to Hard so I don't have to deal with the bigger numbers of PotD, but still get the full-sized fights you don't get in Normal mode. We can't use any equipment, consumables, or weapons besides those we create magically or which have no effect (like unenchanted clothing and headgear), we can't keep anything in our inventory, and we can only use copper to rest an inns, buy Camping Supplies, and pay for quest-related stuff like bribes.


    Our Watcher this time is Nizidramanii'yt (which I pronounce nih-zih-druh-mah-nee-it), another Hearth Orlan mage like Gray Sidoh, with the same portrait as always. The name Nizidramanii'yt comes from the black dragon from Baldur's Gate 2--not to be confused with the shadow dragon, named Thaxll'ssilliyia.



    The prologue is free from the poverty restrictions because it's impossible to de-equip Heodan during the fight with the Glanfathan goons, but I still keep Nizidramanii'yt free of items. To deal with enemies, Nizidramanii't (which is a lot harder to type than Divinegon was, so let's called her Nizi) can use Concelhaut's Parasitic Quarterstaff, which is actually the most powerful item you can get until much later in the game. It's a staff and therefore slow, but the damage is incredible and it even heals the wielder.


    The moment Nizi hits level 2 in the Gilded Vale, we buy 5 level 1 custom characters, since we're not going to survive long with the item-dependent vanilla NPCs.







    I'd post their inventory screens, but there's not much to show. Most of them don't even have clothes yet.


    Anyway, our basic strategy is to use two druids as bombers and damage dealers while shapeshifted, two priests to compensate for our lousy defenses, and two wizards with Concelhaut's staff for damage and disablers. There's nothing special about their stats; I just cranked up Perception, Intellect, and Might and avoided dropping any others too low.


    The good news is that, without armor, everyone is going to be moving very quickly and we'll get to burn lots of spells very fast. We'll also have some deceptively strong defenses once our wizards get Arcane Veil, and our druids will have summoning spells that will help us handle enemy pressure.


    I also considered a monk, a barbarian, and a cipher, but decided against each one. The monk seemed too underpowered and vulnerable, the barbarian didn't seem to have good enough damage output with Novice's Suffering, and the cipher would struggle to generate Focus without a real weapon. Instead, we're a spell-heavy party that will need to rest often.

    • Like 2
  10. Congratulations, semiticgod - what a close battle. For several moments there, I thought that you wouldn't make it out alive. PotD Thaos is certainly a scary opponent for a party that's only at level 9. Well done!

    Wait, how many levels was I supposed to have? After beating the game at levels 7 and 8 in my last two runs, I thought level 9 was above average!


    I also wasn't sure I'd make it at the time. Sometimes you can see it coming long in advance if you see disadvantages accumulating or if the party proves incapable of performing an essential function. Sometimes, though, you can step back for a moment, reconfigure your strategy, and think through a problem with a sober mind, which can get you through an encounter that would otherwise end in failure. Often, sticking to a standard game plan can give you tunnel vision and make you think there's no way out, and all it takes to find an alternate path to victory is a mental "reset" to get you to reevaluate your assumptions about the situation and which factors are most important.


    One of the things I most like about no-reload runs is talking about them in abstract terms. I think a lot of the reason some of us newcomers have been able to deal with PoE no-reload after only a few previous playthroughs is because we've developed some meta-level strategies and key habits of long-term resource gathering and risk management, which compensate for our weaker technical know-how. Much of no-reload strategy is about gauging threats and developing counters.

    • Like 3
  11. Divinegon, Hearth Orlan Cipher


    With Divinegon trapped by Zovai's Withdraw, we need to bring down the statues without the help of our cipher. Our best remaining asset is Frost, our rogue. Frost has extremely high Accuracy, and even when she gets bad rolls, Deep Wounds will keep up a steady stream of damage.



    Frost won't be able to do this on her own, however. Zovai casts Champion's Boon on Frost for a +10 bonus to Might and Rius summons a trio of tentacles to take advantage of their high Accuracy and strong damage per hit. Mora Tai, however, is in trouble: his defenses aren't quite as strong when he's not prone, and a bad hit from a fire attack puts him deep in the red.


    The enemy knocks down our tentacles (apparently you don't need legs or a back to be knocked prone in PoE) and Frost starts burning her last Scrolls of Maelstrom, since the scrolls can hit both judge and executioner simultaneously. Rius manages to blind both statues, but then Zovai dies.


    What killed her? I don't see any source of damage listed, and the only alternative explanation I can think of is that a red potion wore off, dropping her to zero Health or Endurance.


    We're making progress, but Divinegon is about to escape from Withdraw, and while we're making strong progress against the statues, the judge is still going to be around when she gets out. I send Pallegina over to flank the judge in the hopes that it will keep the judge from attacking Divinegon. Notice the multiple disablers we've managed to apply in the meantime. Also notice that we've lost our tentacles by now.


    Divinegon is almost out. When she escapes, I need to draw her away and then activate Ectopsychic Echo, so I send Frost north of the judge to serve as our target. Frost goes north; Divinegon runs south.


    Rius blinds the statues again, enabling more sneak attacks from Frost. Divinegon, finally free and newly healed by Withdraw, activates Ectopsychic Echo. The damage is impressive; the statues don't have the sky-high Deflection that Thaos did.


    Divinegon kills the judge! But Thaos is back, and we've got another burst of flame coming, while Mora Tai is in poor condition.


    We scatter our party a little, triggering disengagement attacks but possibly sparing us from a dangerous fire attack. But Thaos remains as sturdy as ever; he completely evades the first hit of Ectopsychic Echo.


    But we have two pieces of good news. First, Thaos is running out of his Shields for the Faithful spell, which appears to be the source of his high Deflection. And when I check the dialog box, I discover I was wrong--Ectopsychic Echo targets the Reflex defense; not Deflection. The chance of a hit is much higher than I thought.


    Our other characters can't touch him, so they switch to either attacking the executioner or using defensive options like renewing our Scroll of Defense buff. Divinegon targets the executioner as well in order to generate Focus (Thaos is too hard to hit).


    Thaos has just re-cast Shields of the Faithful, but he targets the executioner rather than himself. His Deflection drops by 60 points, and he suddenly becomes a much more vulnerable target. He's still just as deadly, however. Fortunately, our party is scattered, and Mora Tai is the only one suffering from Thaos' fire spells.


    It's time to capitalize on Thaos' newfound vulnerability. Rius summons more tentacles to surround Thaos, and Divinegon re-activates Ectopsychic Echo.


    The tentacles prove fully capable of striking Thaos now that his Shields for the Faithful spell is down, though Ectopsychic Echo does the least damage I've ever seen it do.


    But that's just the first hit. Ectopsychic Echo deals much more damage soon after, and the executioner is collapsing under pressure from Frost and Divinegon.


    Frost lands the final hit! The executioner goes down!


    Thaos is all alone now. He's still a threat, but we've made lots of progress with Ectopsychic Echo and Rius' tentacles.


    But he's not done with us just yet. Our tentacles are gone, and without them, we can't keep up the pressure like we used to. Worse yet, Thaos kills Mora Tai with fire damage and nails Divinegon with a confusion spell.


    And on top of that, he dominates Divinegon for 40 seconds.


    That's three spells cast in a single second. I don't know if that's supposed to happen, but Thaos appears to have an extremely fast rate of casting.


    I give Pallegina the order to use Reviving Exhortation on Mora Tai, but decide that it's more important to cure Divinegon's domination effect soon than to get Mora Tai back on his feet, especially since Mora Tai's Health is in the red and could die moments after being raised. I switch her to Liberating Exhortation. While we wait, Divinegon's Ectopsychic Echo blasts Rius' newly summoned tentacles.


    Rius brings back Mora Tai while the rest of the party and our tentacles apply further pressure to Thaos. He's down to Near Death!


    A tentacle lands the final blow. Thaos falls.


    Divinegon wipes his memory and returns the souls of the world to their intended bodies.


    That was an alarming fight. Defense against prone effects appears very important in this fight; getting knocked down really screwed with Divinegon. I think it may be best to start this fight by scattering some of the party rather than dedicating all party members' opening actions to defensive or buffing options. The fight would have been much, much smoother if we had split up the party and kept more people out of the way of those awful fire spells. A few Potions of Bulwark Against the Elements also would have done a lot to minimize damage; there are lots of fire spells and the 15 damage reduction against fire would save a lot of Health and Endurance. Woodskin would be another good option if you have a druid in the party (we had some Woodskin effects due to the two Woodskin belts we got in the Catacombs at Defiance Bay).


    Accuracy is very important for this fight, but breaking Thaos' ludicrous 153 Deflection doesn't appear to be necessary. It's probably just better to target his much lower Reflex defense with Scrolls of Maelstrom and maybe some other bombing spells, which could send him into hiding much more quickly if you dedicate multiple characters to bombing him.


    Quickly isolating Thaos appears to be the best priority in this fight; he and the statues aren't nearly as strong separate as they are together. Reflex-based damage spells look like the best way of dealing damage to Thaos early on, and the same applies to the statues afterwards; Slicken appears to be pretty reliable against them. It's best to take your time against the statues and let Thaos' shield spell to wear off (assuming the duration continues while he's hidden; I don't know if it does) so he'll be vulnerable to physical attacks when he reappears.

    • Like 7
  12. Divinegon, Hearth Orlan Cipher


    We open the fight with Thaos with a suite of long-term investments: a Scroll of Defense, a scroll of Moonwell, Circle of Protection, a scroll of Prayer Against Fear, wood beetles, and for Frost, our rogue and second most important damage dealer, a haste potion.



    Notice that Mora Tai, our second paladin, is right next to Woedica's Headsman, the executioner. This is because Mora Tai is wearing the Blaidh Golan hide armor, which grants +50 to all defenses when prone.


    Now, I've mentioned in the past that the shield Ilfan Byrngar's Solace is very overpowered in this fight because it can make a tank nearly invincible: as long as the bearer is prone, the enemy can barely scratch the character, and the enemy won't switch targets. For the same reasons, the shield is very excellent against drakes and other heavy hitters that use knockdown effects. I decided not to use that shield because it seemed too overpowered.


    However, Blaidh Golan has the same effect, so I'm effectively working with the same situation: Mora Tai is trying to hold down the executioner.


    We want to bring down Thaos quickly so we can focus on the statues, so Frost hurries over to try to blind Thaos and deal some quick damage. Meanwhile, Rius, our mage, uses a Scroll of Valor to give us +15 Accuracy and Divinegon drinks a haste potion, which hopefully stacks with a Hastening Exhortation from Mora Tai, so she'll be able to deal some quick ranged damage on Thaos.


    Then I see a very, very ominous sign. When Divinegon targets Thaos with her normal attack, the chance of a hit is displayed as 0%.


    Thaos has a Deflection of 153, by far the highest I've ever seen on anything in PoE. Frost has landed a hit, and Rius' Scroll of Valor doesn't appear to have taken effect just yet, but it looks like Thaos is virtually untouchable.


    How are we supposed to kill Thaos if even our strongest characters struggle to hit him?


    Thaos casts his fire spell and nearly kills Frost, who clings to life with the help of a red potion. Pallegina, Frost, and Divinegon are all attacking Thaos at once, knowing that we can't stand up to those fire attacks forever, but they've only been able to graze him, and combined with Thaos' impressive damage reduction, we only deal damage in the single digits.


    Thaos casts another Pillar of Holy Fire spell and takes down Frost, a huge blow to our offensive potential, while Divinegon wastes a Whisper of Treason spell on the executioner. Just like last time, I fail to realize that charm is listed as an immunity for the statues.



    The confusing thing is, charm and domination are also listed as resistances for the statues, which implies that they're not immune. We just lost 10 Focus and a few valuable seconds for Divinegon, whom we need to pin down Thaos.

    Thaos nails us with more fire damage, and this time, Zovai, our Moon Godlike priest, takes enough damage to trigger Silver Tide, which does a lot to support the other party members, who are all suffering.



    We bring back Frost with a Scroll of Revival (we have a lot of those scrolls) and she heals herself with Second Wind, but Divinegon falls to another fire spell. If we scattered, some of us could escape those fire spells, but we'd lose the benefits of Moonwell and Circle of Protection/Scroll of Defense.


    We try to recover with Lay on Hands, Consecrated Ground, and a Scroll of Moonwell and Scroll of Revival for Divinegon, but we're still in poor condition, and we've made precious little progress on the enemy.


    In fact, we've done essentially nothing since the fight began aside from clinging to life.


    We desperately need to deal damage to Thaos, but his sky-high Deflection makes him nearly invulnerable to our normal attacks. I intended for Frost to use her Maelstrom scrolls against the statues, but we need them for Thaos; we can't do more than scratch him otherwise. As Frost prepares to use her first Maelstrom scroll, the rest of the party restores our defenses.


    Frost lands a hit with Maelstrom! But Thaos is still applying massive pressure, and even Moonwell, Silver Tide, and Consecrated Ground aren't enough to keep Zovai in good condition without additional support. Zovai's low Constitution proves her undoing.


    Low Constitution might not be bad for a Moon Godlike, but if your only healer has low Constitution, then area-effect spells can rob the party of a vital resource. We really need Zovai to stay healthy.


    Anxious to retrieve our healer, we use another Scroll of Revival to bring her back, but it seems her Health is too low for her to get back up in stable condition. She falls mere seconds after we revive her, and now that our beetles are gone, Woedica's judge is encroaching on the party.


    But Frost is making solid progress by spamming Maelstrom scrolls; Thaos is already at Injured. The Maelstrom scrolls target his Reflex defense instead of Deflection, a 43-point difference that makes it much easier to hit him. Plus, Maelstrom does massive damage when it does hit.



    Soon, Thaos retreats into his shell. We're safe! Relatively speaking, anyway. Now we just have to deal with the statues.


    Without the threat of area-effect fire damage to worry about and without a high-priority target like Thaos to attack, we have a little more freedom and flexibility in what we can do. We bring back Zovai, who will provide ranged support.


    Her Health is low, but even if she dies permanently, that's an acceptable risk--this is the final fight, so a knocked-out character is no different from a permanently dead character for the purposes of winning this fight. This is the safest time to bring her back.


    But we're still vulnerable to area-effect disablers; it seems the judge and/or executioner can knock all of us down at once. Suddenly, the whole party is on its back.



    I check the durations and wait for the shortest one to run out so we can get back to work. Just as it ends, we suffer another fire attack that takes down Zovai once again, and I realize that those Pillars of Holy Fire weren't coming from Thaos--they were coming from the judge!


    And while I failed to appreciate the fact in all the confusion, it seems that Divinegon is within the judge's melee range. Before she can take action or try to heal herself or escape, the judge knocks her down and nearly knocks her out with its melee attack.


    Its Accuracy is 92. There's no way Divinegon's defenses can stand up to that. We desperately need to get Divinegon out of danger; we absolutely need her strength to prevail in this fight. But Zovai isn't here to cast Withdraw; we have to bring her back with another Scroll of Revival.


    But these things take time. It won't be long before the judge gets another chance to attack, and we can't count on Divinegon's lousy defenses to keep her safe. If her Health gets low enough, we simply won't be able to revive her without risking her being instantly knocked out or even permanently killed.


    Frost only entered the fight with so many Scrolls of Maelstrom; we simply can't win the fight with Frost alone. We need Divinegon on her feet and active to actually deal enough damage with high enough Accuracy to bring down the enemy.


    But Zovai won't be able to rescue Divinegon in time; she's not fast enough to act before the statue gets another attack roll. And if I try to run, Divinegon will instantly trigger a disengagement attack that could put her down for good.


    I leave the game paused for a moment and consider the situation.


    Death seems highly probable. We have many Scrolls of Revival, but those do nothing to keep our Health in good condition, which means eventually we'll reach a point at which we can no longer recover from setbacks.


    The enemy's defenses are nearly impossible to bypass without more Scrolls of Maelstrom. Even if Divinegon gets Ectopsychic Echo off the ground, that targets Deflection, which means that the odds of dealing much damage to Thaos are dicey at best, and bad luck could neutralize the effect.


    Disablers aren't really workable. The enemy has too many immunities and too many resistances for us to reliably disable anyone.


    We are stuck in a situation in which we simply don't have the raw numbers to either defend ourselves from attack or make progress on the enemy. We are just not strong enough.


    At this point, it seems all I can do is wait for the judge's next attack to come, and hope that it gets a low roll that will allow us to keep Divinegon in good condition until Thaos returns to the fight, when we'll really need our cipher's strength to supplement Frost's.


    But I have seen these situations in the past, and while it would be less stressful to muddle through things and hope for the best, I've survived bad situations by stepping back, recalculating, and changing up my approach. I step away from the emotional connection to this party and my desire for the run to succeed in order to study the problem in a neutral context.



    I peruse my options and find a solution: Slicken, a very brief disabler which targets the enemy's Reflex defense, the weakest defense of all three enemies in this fight.


    We get a low roll, but it's still enough to knock down the judge. Divinegon has been able to drink a red potion, but she is now prone, and cannot flee just yet. Zovai is also prone.


    We can use Liberating Exhortation, but we only have so many castings, and we want to hold onto them for the fight with Thaos, which I'm sure will involve a lot of ugly disablers. Pallegina can cancel charm effects by attacking a charmed party member, but she has no fast ranged attacks, and moving to strike a friendly target in melee could expose her to a disengagement attack, so Pallegina's Aegis of Loyalty isn't rock solid. We need Liberating Exhortation for later on.


    Instead, we just use a single Liberating Exhortation, on Zovai. Divinegon remains prone.



    Divinegon is more important overall, but fixing Zovai first allows her to cover Divinegon with Withdraw. By the time Divinegon escapes, we should have a better handle on the situation.


    But Zovai is very slow, and the judge is recovering from Slicken. Rius tries to re-apply it, but this time, Slicken doesn't work.


    But the judge is also slow, and Zovai has enough time to hide Divinegon before the judge strikes. Instead, the judge targets Mora Tai, knocking him down. But Mora Tai gets +50 to all defenses when prone, and we don't need him on his feet--we just need him to keep distracting the enemy.


    Mora Tai is now keeping both enemies occupied, and we have a moment of respite. While Divinegon is out of commission, we need to establish a stronger position for when she returns, and we need to keep our weaker party members safe so they'll still be around to help with Thaos. We draw Rius, Pallegina, and Frost to the southwest and start setting up new defenses.


    Divinegon is still right next to the judge, however. If we don't establish our advantage by the time she escapes, the judge gets another shot at her, and she'll only have a few more seconds of Infuse Vital Essence when Withdraw wears off.

    • Like 6
  13. @Alesia_BH: What kind of numbers for defenses and Accuracy would you consider necessary to handle Thaos, and how would one get them? I used myriad consumables and enchanted much of our gear to achieve the numbers we had, and I don't know what else we could have done besides raise money for dragon meat dishes.


    Bear in mind that the screenshots you saw were directly before combat; they don't contain in-combat buffs like Scrolls of Defense or Blessing.

    • Like 2
  14. Divinegon, Hearth Orlan Cipher


    We take the Suite of Worldly Wonders at the Goose and Fox in order to get the Lore bonus. I don't know if we'll be able to keep it until Thaos, but if we do, it'll mean that Frost, our rogue, will be able to use Maelstrom scrolls, and she's the one character best equipped to use them, since Divinegon, our other high-offense character, needs her quick slots for buffing potions and the like.


    Inside Sun in Shadow, we get some ugly surprises from the local Spirits, who use some ranged stun attacks to knock out Rius within seconds.




    They have an Accuracy of 96, virtually impossible for us to block, and when Divinegon's Health gets low, Zovai, our priest, covers her with Withdraw.


    Fortunately, we have a decent choke point and Frost remains in good condition, allowing us to gradually wear down the enemy.


    Since I'm trying to minimize resting in this area (if we rest too many times, we lose access to the Lore bonus on Frost, which we really need so she can spam Maelstrom scrolls), we play it conservative with our resources. Fortunately, we have some strong counters for the Shadow Drakes, who prove highly vulnerable to a Confusion from Rius, our mage. Divinegon can also nail them with Whisper of Treason, which gives us a slight offensive edge against the Engwithan Shades compared to Confusion alone.



    Once a Shadow Drake is isolated, we can hold it in place with Mental Binding and then crush it with Rius' tentacles.


    This is actually a pretty agonizing process; I'm trying to deal with an unknown number of potentially dangerous fights while trying to avoid resting, which means it's hard to decide how many per-rest abilities I can afford to use. Divinegon significantly extends our resources; her Focus is completely independent of resting.



    But ultimately, we end up needing to rest too many times, and we lose our bonuses from the Goose and Fox. Frost's Lore is now at 9 while wearing the +2 Lore robe, which is just 1 point shy of the 10 she needs to use Maelstrom scrolls.


    The answer is a rare scroll that grants +3 Lore to the whole party for 120 seconds--not great, but it can be used outside of combat, which means that Frost will be able to use Maelstrom scrolls for at least a few dozen seconds into the fight with Thaos. We eat all of our buffs, including the white mushrooms for their +40 defense against charm (and I assume domination?) effects and some scattered bonuses optimized to each character, including the +20% Focus gain item for Divinegon herself.


    Here is our party at the end of the game, right before facing Thaos. Most of us have the Accuracy bonus against Vessels, but Rius and Zovai picked damage reduction instead. Note that some of the extremely low stat values, like Divinegon's incredibly low Resolve, are the result of consumables that impose drawbacks.














    Just before we enter the fight, Pallegina and Divinegon hit level 10, and Divinegon takes Marksman for the +5 to ranged Accuracy.

    • Like 7
  15. Divinegon, Hearth Orlan Cipher


    After an inn rest, a wilderness rest for Accuracy bonuses against Vessels, and several meals to boost our stats, we confront Raedric at the top of his castle. We just have enough time to cast Circle of Protection, summon our beetles, and use a Scroll of Defense and a Moonwell scroll before the enemy's charm spells take control of half of our party on the first round. Things are already looking very ugly--even our best defenses couldn't ward off those charm effects.



    Pallegina fixes up Rius, our mage, with Liberating Exhortation, since we really need her spells to handle enemy pressure. Mora Tai, our other paladin, also uses Liberating Exhortation to fix up Zovai, our priest. Rius takes too much damage shortly after returning to our control, which means she has to use a red potion instead of addressing the health of the rest of the party.


    But she doesn't get the chance. Right after she drinks her potion, a Fampyr charms her again, and our mage is out of commission for the time being.


    Then the enemy follows up with Finger of Death. I have no idea what this spell does, exactly, but it kills two of our beetles and puts Frost, our rogue, in critical condition.


    We have no control of the battlefield, limited control of our own party, and we've made zero progress on either killing the enemy or neutralizing any key threats. We just can't function when so many of our party members are charmed or inches from death.


    Frost uses Shadowing Beyond, but to my disbelief, a Fampyr completely ignores it and lands a disengagement attack on Frost, who is supposedly to be untargetable!


    I don't know why Shadowing Beyond isn't working on these enemies, but there's no chance that Frost broke invisibility; I sent her away immediately after she activated Shadowing Beyond.


    Fortunately, the enemies don't follow her, so she still manages to find a safe spot, where she uses a Blur potion (also known as a Vial of Llengrath's Astigmatism-Inducing Elixir of Blurring Visage) followed by Second Wind. Meanwhile, Zovai adds a little more healing and Mora Tai uses a scroll to shield us against fear effects. Rius is still in the process of casting Summon Giant Tentacles, but it's a slow-casting spell.


    Frost is now in decent condition and also has a total Deflection of 80, enough for her to safely handle melee pressure. Divinegon activates Silent Scream, but it only stuns a Fampyr for about 10 seconds, and while the area-effect damage is impressive, it's not enough to actually neutralize any threats. Using a stronger disablers would have been more useful, but Divinegon's best status effect spells are charm and domination spells, both of which the Fampyrs are immune to.


    The good news is that Rius has finally summoned the tentacles! Notice that we've kind of boxed in the enemies--we've got a few pinned in place, but several of them are still in a position to threaten vulnerable party members.


    Rius has had trouble blinding many of the Fampyrs at once due to positioning and timing issues, but the Fampyrs are a little wounded, and eventually we'll be in a place to actually start pinning them down. Divinegon has low Focus, no active threats to her health, and no vulnerable targets she could bring down quickly. Thus, her best option is a long-term investment: a haste potion, also known as an Adversely Effective Energy-Enervating Amazing Alacrity of Action Elixir, or AEEEAAAE for short. This will speed up her attacks and pave the way for a game-changing offensive in the near future.


    The Fampyrs and tentacles deal heavy damage to each other, both apparently having stronger Accuracy than Deflection. Divinegon targets our previously-stunned Fampyr for easy hits that will generate Focus faster. Frost joins in to land some Sneak Attacks, but it appears that the Fampyrs are immune to her poison attacks.


    I got the impression from the game's description texts that Envenomed Weapon worked on a lot of critters because it deals Raw damage and Raw damage is supposed to bypass immunities and damage reduction. It makes sense for undead whatevers to be immune to poison, but I wish it had been more clear starting out--immunities are very rare in PoE, even for undead.


    Zovai is currently blocking in the Fampyrs to the east, and Divinegon is already in position to cast an Ectopsychic Echo on Zovai, which should catch most of the enemies without needing much movement. But immediately after she gathers the Focus to cast the spell, she gets charmed again.


    It looks like the beam is still doing damage to the enemy, which suggests that the beam remains party-friendly, but a second later, it coincides with a Fireball from Raedric, and two of our tentacles die. I can't tell if that means Raedric's Fireball finished them off, or Divinegon's beam is hurting our allies. I see green numbers as well as red numbers, and I can't divine the source.


    Then Zovai, who has been renewing our defenses, gets charmed as well. Now I know the beam is against us; Mora Tai gets hit while the enemies appear unaffected.


    I still don't know, however, if this is because Divinegon was charmed or because Zovai was charmed (or if both of them had to be hostile in order for the beam to go hostile).


    I check the dialog box and discover that the Fampyrs' Accuracy with their charm spell is a shocking 97. Even Zovai with her Will of 100 only has a tiny chance of shrugging off the spell completely. No wonder we've been struggling to function; the enemy can spam charm spells with nearly-unbreakable Accuracy.


    But now, the enemy is in much worse condition than it was before. Only one of them appears to have fallen, but the others are still heavily wounded, and once we get Divinegon back under our control, she and Frost can start knocking down the rest of the pins. Rius and Zovai both got charmed, but they're not offensive assets, and they've already fulfilled their more important roles: keeping the party intact long enough for Divinegon and Frost to do their dirty work.



    The enemy deals big damage to our weakest party members, Rius, Frost, and Divinegon, but since Zovai and Mora Tai are both under our control when that happens, we can heal the damage before anyone suffers a knockout. Divinegon activates Ectopsychic Echo, and this time there are no charm effects to spoil the effect. Another Fampyr gets crushed.


    No further charm effects come out, and with the beam on our side, the enemies crumple. Only Raedric is left. He chases Divinegon a short distance south, and while I can't break engagement with him, I don't need to: thanks to the haste potion, Divinegon has enough Focus to stun him with Silent Scream.


    It's all over for Raedric. Frost lands the final blow, and everyone in the party gains a level.


    We base our final talents on our needs for the Thaos fight: Pallegina takes Aegis of Loyalty, allowing her to cancel charm, domination, and confusion effects by striking party members. She wears the Hand and Key armor, so she'll be especially resistant to those effects herself, which means our best cure for domination will also be the most resistant to it. Mora Tai takes Hastening Exhortation, since I figure we could use an offensive boost for Frost and/or Divinegon to take down the judge and executioner before they can stomp all over us. Rius takes Call to Slumber and Llengrath's Safeguard to shore up her defenses. Frost and Divinegon, meanwhile, choose Deep Wounds and Detonate in order to help us get past the high damage reduction that I assume Thaos and his allies have.


    We're finally ready. We head into Sun in Shadow.

    • Like 6
  16. Congratulations, @Alesia_BH! You've earned it. I'm happy for you.


    I'm afraid you're a bit late to help me, though--as of this writing, Divinegon's run is over. I won't confirm how it ended just yet, but I would like to point out that I did learn a lot from your work in this and other runs, and I doubt I would have made it as far as I did without your insightful commentary and advice. That goes for all of you guys, too; I've learned a lot from everyone in this thread.


    But first, the fight with Raedric!

    • Like 4
  17. Divinegon, Hearth Orlan Cipher


    Near the Thaos Hole, we run into a bunch of Spirits, and when we see a Cean Gwla among them, we take the threat seriously, deploying our beetles and summoning some tentacles. Divinegon lands a kill on a Phantom with her blunderbuss (she opens with an arbalest for a reliable hit, then a blunderbuss for a heavier hit, then a scepter for consistent damage), but our beetles aren't doing too well against the enemy, and our tentacles spawn to the south, away from the enemy. This robs us of a very valuable wall--and worse yet, the tentacles can't even move; the entire spell was a waste.



    Our twin paladins are still in good condition, though, which buys us some time to launch some Fireballs and stuff, allowing us to weed out some of the weaker critters.


    There are some druids in this fight we need to worry about, but when one of them gets Returning Storm off the ground, we discover that our tentacles actually had some small role: absorbing lightning bolts.


    Divinegon targets the druid, which I deem one of the primary threats, while Rius, our mage, blinds the enemy and Zovai, our priest, deploys Iconic Projection. Our wall has held up long enough for Zovai to use all of her important defensive options, which means she has time to try an offensive spell. Again, I've underestimated Zovai's potential as a damage dealer. Having middling Perception doesn't really cripple your offensive output; it merely makes it a little weaker and less reliable.


    Our wall holds strong, and we bring down the enemies with little trouble. But the next fight is very different: this time, we get a familiar party-wide paralysis effect, and we have neither a chokepoint nor a wall to reduce enemy pressure.


    We don't suffer heavy damage while paralyzed, but we do get surrounded. The moment we break free, we fortify our defenses: Pallegina uses a Moonwell scroll (I was able to crank up her Lore when I re-trained her to get Liberating Exhortation); Mora Tai, our other paladin, uses a Scroll of Defense; Zovai casts Circle of Protection followed by Devotions of the Faithful; and Rius casts Confusion, successfully scattering the enemies and temporarily keeping pressure off of our back line. Frost, our rogue, has no such defensive options and stays on the offensive; Divinegon uses Silent Scream for a reliable damage burst.


    We've still got two Cean Gwlas flanking us, but strong offensive action by Frost and Divinegon bring them down, while our tanks to the north hold the line. With the broad bonuses from Moonwell, a Scroll of Defense, and Circle of Protection, the enemy can't really break through our defenses, and soon the field is clear enough for Divinegon to activate Ectopsychic Echo and drag it over the enemies without worrying about any dangerous disengagement attacks on her target.


    After another rest, we run into another group of Spirits, and get another party-wide paralysis. We've got a decent choke point, but Frost is within range of a Cean Gwla, and Pallegina takes massive damage before the paralysis wears off.


    We don't have time to cast Moonwell (Pallegina needs to heal herself first), but Rius summons some tentacles, exposing several enemies to attack. It won't do much to distract from the party, since we've already got a chokepoint in place, but it'll deal some damage in the meantime.


    Enemies teleport past the chokepoint, but only Pallegina is suffering much pressure, though she's barely clinging to life. Meanwhile, Divinegon blasts away at the enemy.


    The enemy starts making progress on Rius, but Frost is on hand to neutralize individual threats.


    By the time our tentacles vanish and an opening appears, allowing the enemy to threaten the party, we've already pinned down the Spirits flanking us, and we've dealt heavy damage to the enemies in front of us. We clean up with more area-effect spells.


    The Thaos Hole is open to us, but we're not ready to head through. We've upgraded our gear and put together a suite of consumables (though we couldn't afford dragon food), but we still haven't gotten everyone to level 9. Problem is, the only way I can see us getting enough XP is either by doing a lot of dangerous delving in Od Nua, spending a lot of time searching for safe quests around Defiance Bay or wherever, or tackling Raedric.


    After much thought, I can't accept the prospect of leaving undead Raedric in place; too many people die in the epilogue for me to be okay with sacrificing all those people to increase our odds of making it past Thaos.


    So, there's just one more fight before we enter Sun in Shadow. It's time to confront Raedric for the second and last time.

    • Like 5
  18. Divinegon, Hearth Orlan Cipher


    We head back to Od Nua, just to see what's left. The last time I was here, I stopped short of fighting the Xaurips because the presence of Wurms concerned me, but now that we're much higher level, I'm not worried about the "unknowns" anymore; we're tough enough to handle Xaurip-grade surprises.


    The Xaurips are remarkably easy to crush at this point. Divinegon now has the Extra Weapon Set talent and therefore can open with an arbalest and a firearm blast before switching to the Engwithan Scepter, and the extremely high Focus numbers let us use Silent Scream to deal very fast, very high Raw damage to groups of enemies.



    We finally get the Hand and Key armor, which will be very helpful in the final battle. After resting for the Wilder Accuracy bonus, we take on the Xaurips in the big blood chamber, and Rius, our mage, tries out her new tentacle summoning spell. Turns out the tentacles have a shocking 71 Accuracy, and they deal very impressive damage per hit. Their inability to move is barely any handicap; they're best used to construct walls, and their wide circles only make that easier.


    Against the ogres on the level below, Rius finds that Slicken is highly effective against the low-Reflex ogres, allowing Frost to slip past the druid without provoking a disengagement attack. Even the ogres have trouble standing up to Divinegon these days.


    But it's just barely not enough to clear the field, and when more ogres join the party, we start taking heavy damage and getting knocked prone. Rius buys us lots of time by re-applying Slicken, which also allows Frost to land some sneak attacks on top of Finishing Blow.


    When we know Frost is safe and Divinegon has enough Focus, we clear the field with another Ectopsychic Echo.


    When we fight Zolla, we use Slicken early in combat rather than midway through, and even Zolla can't deal with slippery floors.


    We follow up with blindness and Silent Scream, crippling the fighters and paralyzing Zolla...


    ...but when Divinegon gets knocked prone, I just throw out a Confusion spell to keep the pressure off of our poor cipher. By the time it wears off, Zolla has already killed another ogre!


    We clean up with another Ectopsychic Echo. So, so many fights end with that spell.


    The next batch of ogres proves just as vulnerable to Slicken as the others, but Rius finds that Confusion lasts longer and doesn't need to be chain-cast to keep the ogres off our backs.


    This fight involved a lot of optimizations, but the basically formula involved disabling the ogres with Slicken and blindness while applying area-effect damage from every source we had.



    Notice how broadly scattered our party was. I have no idea why I let them stray so far apart, but the reason we could get away with this arrangement and survive without choke points (aside from our high levels and strong defenses under Circle of Protection) is that the ogres spent so much time disabled that they couldn't actually apply much pressure.


    We don't go much farther in this dungeon, but we do fight some scattered critters and generate enough gold to craft a bunch of expendables and upgrade some of our gear. I burn so much money on upgrades and expendables that we actually send up selling off dozens of units of excess ingredients just to afford everything.


    As we approach the big hole to Thaos, we finally reach level 8 for our paladin, rogue, and wizard. We're almost ready.




    High-damage spells take down the Stelgaers and Blights, but the Adragans are a different kind of threat. We open with the Oaken Scarab Figurine and a Scroll of Defense land a fast kill on the first Adragan.


    I'm hesitate to send Frost out past the enemies to enable an Ectopsychic Echo, since I don't know what the Adragans might do to her, so Divinegon just uses Antipathetic Field instead. It won't hit the Adragan at the far back, though--Antipathetic Field only affects those within the beam, and the original target is outside of it.


    We blast the beetles with Silent Scream to get past their high damage reduction while our own beetles succumb to enemy pressure. We've got a couple characters stunned thanks to Returning Storm or some such, but no Petrification nonsense so far.


    Divinegon busts out Soul Ignition to light up the uninjured Adragan and charms a big beetle, but in the end, it's Zovai, our low-Perception priest, who scores the kill against the odds.



    Zovai has actually been surprisingly effective with Iconic Projection when she uses it. I didn't intend for her to deal much damage, but she's still quite capable of doing it, even if she doesn't have the raw power of Frost, Rius, or Divinegon, our rogue, mage, and cipher.

    As always, I prepare for a fight with the Sky Dragon, but I successfully choose the right dialog options. I haven't fought the Sky Dragon since my Easy mode run, and I don't think I actually beat it even then (unless I somehow forgot doing so).



    Done! We now have Hylea's favor, though Pallegina has mixed feelings about the matter.



    We're almost to Thaos. But before we do, I really want to hit level 9, since I'm sure Thaos is going to be an absolute nightmare.

    • Like 5
  19. @Jaheiras Witness: Sad to see Jazz Wit fall. He was doing so well, and you were playing so well. I'm impressed by how far you've gotten as a solo character in a no-reload run. Surviving all the way through Defiance Bay is an achievement to say the least.


    Soloing PoE poses some unique challenges that you don't see in BG. While there aren't many instant-death effects and disablers tend to offer multiple chances to avoid smaller effects, which minimizes the impact of bad luck, the reality is that safeguarding against fatal scenarios is much tougher. Without pre-buffs, and with immunities extremely scarce even for priests, you only have seconds to set up your defenses.


    I look forward to hearing your post-mortem analysis, and I hope we'll see a new run from you soon.

    • Like 3
  20. Divinegon, Hearth Orlan Cipher


    Outside, we get ambushed by Leaden Key jerks on the way to Twin Elms. After our disastrous encounter with those Spirits, I use all of our best options, including expendables; I don't want to get caught off-guard again. The agents, though, cannot paralyze the entire party at once. And as long as Divinegon remains functional...



    ...the enemy needs to be very, very strong to survive the first few rounds of combat.


    We run into more Spores soon after, which immediately triggers alarm bells--it wasn't that long ago that we nearly died to a roomful of mushrooms. After activating a Scroll of Defense and Prayer Against Bewilderment, I check the shrooms' immunities and realize they're missing one.


    You can totally make these legless mushrooms fall down by making them slip over and fall.


    Frost and Pallegina have just been dominated, but Mora Tai fixes Frost with Liberating Exhortation. Rius knocks down the mushrooms once or twice more before flinging out a Fireball, while Divinegon hurries south to cast an Antipathetic Field on the southern shrooms.



    Unlike Ectopsychic Echo, Antipathetic Field is party-unfriendly, which means that even if Divinegon gets charmed, she'll still keep dealing damage to the mushrooms, and since Divinegon has no melee weapons, she's not going to move either if she gets charmed, so that beam is going to stay in place.


    As it turns out, the mushrooms never think to target Divinegon, anyway. They screw with the rest of the party, which suffers as a result, but Divinegon remains untouched, perfectly free to re-cast Antipathetic Field and dissolve the mushrooms in the beam. Rius contributes from afar with Fireball, and Divinegon uses her high Focus to deal Raw damage to the slimes threatening the party.




    Done! That took more work than it probably seemed, but the notable factor was Divinegon being ignored by the shrooms.


    I stop by an inn to re-train Pallegina; her lack of Liberating Exhortation has been bothering me (I got her at level 5, I think, and she didn't have it). I also switch her Weapon Focus from Knight to Noble and move the Ravenwing mace from Mora Tai to Pallegina, allowing Pallegina to get +6 to Accuracy for both hands. The Ravenwing mace and Ituuk (or whatever it's called) dagger both benefit from that talent. Mora Tai has no Weapon Focus talents, so he just sticks with Hearth Harvest and a custom saber.


    Mora Tai soon hits level 7 and learns Reviving Exhortation (who wouldn't take that ability as soon as it was available?). Frost follows suit, learning Escape to help her jump past enemies and stretch around Divinegon's Ectopsychic Echo, and Rius learns the tentacle spell, since I'm guessing the damage output is respectable. Plus, we could use another source of disposable tanks; summons are hard to find in PoE.


    Or at least, I've had trouble finding them. I've never found that Adra Beetle figurine, and all the summoning totems for sale are sold at incredibly high prices, to the extent I wasn't sure they were even worth the expense. The only summons I've ever used are from Summon Blight, the Phantom call and skeleton summoning spells for chanters, and the Oak Beetle Figurine.


    Anyway, we get into a fight with some Adragans and Blights, and I get the impression that Blights have incredibly high damage output when Mora Tai gets knocked out in two hits.


    This was before I learned that Petrify makes the victim take double damage from all sources. I take the next fight more seriously and burn a level 4 spell from Rius. Turns out Confusion (is that really the whole spell name?) is really effective; even high-Will Adragans are susceptible to it.


    It only lasts for long, but Frost can tear up a lot of the enemies with her sneak attacks once Rius blinds them with Alastathoria's Everlasting Plague of Ebony-Tinted Vision Distortion Invocation.


    We're almost ready for the endgame. We spend thousands of copper on buying and upgrading high-end weapons. Has no one else noticed this amazing club?




    Divinegon hits level 8 and chooses the Extra Weapon Set talent so she can carry an additional firearm or arbalest. This will give her another major boost to Focus and reduce the chance that her introductory assault will fail badly and leave her unable to follow up with strong options early on in combat due to bad luck.

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