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semiticgod

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Posts posted by semiticgod

  1. Yeah, I'm relying on wizard spells to impose blindness and enable sneak attacks. The wizard is covering that Intellect deficit. As for optimal stats, I agree with Alesia_BH that the importance of stats is very context-dependent, especially for characters like rogues, who can serve multiple different roles. PoE imposes a lot of tradeoffs about stats, which means that min-maxing has much more complicated effects than it does in other games. While some stats are more important than others, every class stands to benefit at least a little from each stat; no stats are completely irrelevant.

     

    Anyway, here's our new rogue, Frost. Coincidentally, she has exactly the same background as Aotha:

     

    Frost

    Hearth Orlan Rogue, Drifter from the White that Wends.

    Might 16

    Constitution 10

    Dexterity 14

    Perception 20

    Intellect 3

    Resolve 15

    Difficulty: Path of the Damned
    Settings: Maim on Zero Health; No Injuries on Zero Endurance (I think)
    Mods: None

     

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    She has the same portrait as Gray Sidoh, simply because I think it's cute. She's going to be dual-wielding hatchets to stack the Deflection bonuses and is primarily a damage dealer. I like high-Accuracy characters because their attacks are reliable (I don't like relying on luck), and since Frost deals 50% extra damage whenever Calisca knocks an enemy down, Frost lands some respectable hits very early on.

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    Micromanagement gets us through the prologue, and at levels 2 and 3, Frost takes Two Weapon Style and Reckless Assault to further increase her offensive abilities. I pick our early game fights carefully, making sure we don't run into too many enemies at once, and recruit Aloth, Eder, and Durance. Eder is the only one I like, but I'm trying to avoid using a lot of custom characters in this run. Whenever we enter combat, I send Eder forward so all the enemies gang up on him, then wait a second to see whether the enemies are mostly circling around his left or right. If the enemy is approaching Eder's right, I send Frost to the left so she can hack away at a single enemy without too many enemies engaging her.

     

    Whenever she's not under much pressure, she activates Reckless Assault. This allows her to quickly bring down single enemies and start clearing the field. Meanwhile, Aloth throws out Curse of Blackened Sight so Frost can land sneak attacks and axe the enemies one by one.

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    We can only carry two Camping Supplies at a time, but I've learned to be extremely generous with resting. It might seem like a hassle to travel all the way back to Gilded Vale for a free rest, but it actually doesn't take that much time, and being able to cast level 2 spells on every moderately difficult fight is a major boon.

     

    Blindness is really, really good for our party. That -25 Accuracy is crushing to the enemy and helps keep Frost safe from all of her targets, and it lasts long enough for Frost to land lots of sneak attacks before it runs out. For enemies that don't get blinded, Frost just doesn't engage with them.

     

    Aloth's ranged damage spells also give us more control over which enemies die first. The burst damage from Fan of Flames is really useful, and the range is remarkably high. All Aloth has to do to avoid hitting the party during the fight with Ludrana and the paladins is to walk a few steps to the side. A few spells later, he can polish off Ludrana with a simple Arcane Assault.

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    Burst damage appears very useful in Path of the Damned. Enemies are especially accurate, and it really helps to keep fights quick.

     

    Durance begins all major fights the same way, casting Armor of Faith followed by Blessing. Sometimes I throw in Holy Power or Consecrated Ground depending on the situation. I try out Iconic Projection against some wolves and once again find that the area of effect is surprisingly wide--more so than the projectile's appearance.

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    Before we tackle the Xaurips on the beach, Eder gets the racial Accuracy bonus against Wilders from resting, but it proves largely meaningless, as we use him to soak him the Xaurip Skirmishers' paralysis attacks. Durance keeps him afloat with Consecrated Ground (it's nice to have a regeneration effect so we don't need to worry about the right timing when casting heals spells) and Aloth blasts the enemy with more Fans of Flames.

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    Aloth actually suffers some pressure because of his positioning in this process, but Frost quickly disposes of the enemies attacking him. She's a good lancer; she gives us great control over which enemies die first.

     

    We sell off Durance's armor (at over 500 copper pieces, it's a major boon for the early game), stomp on the bandits to save that cook from the Gilded Vale inn, and have Aloth learn Chill Fog from Ludrana's Grimoire, giving us a cheaper blindness spell.

     

    In the temple below the Gilded Vale, Durance buffs the party with Holy Meditation to block the confusion effects of the local Will o' Wisps. Turns out a +15 Will bonus just ain't gonna cut it--and we have no real defense against the shock damage. Right off the bat, our primary tank is nearly dead.

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    With Eder confused, we can't use Second Wind to heal him up, so our only hope of saving him is to use Withdraw, which has the unfortunate side effect of robbing us of our primary tank for the duration of the battle (a factor I hadn't considered). Thing is, Aloth can blind the Will o' Wisps with Chill Fog, and Frost quickly cuts down one of wisps.

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    The sheer speed of Frost's kills is really quite remarkable. It might be the only thing she's really good at, but she's really good at it. I didn't know Will o' Wisps could be slain so quickly.

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    Dual-wielding hatchets offers a nice balance of offense and defense. With her extremely high Perception and rogue class, Frost doesn't really need the accuracy bonuses of dual-wielded daggers or the 30% graze-converted-to-hit chance from flails, so she can choose a more defensive weapon instead.

     

    We butcher some trolls in the woods, I think in large part because we kept interrupting their attacks, and run into the bandits guarding the supplies for the Gilded Vale shop. Apparently one of the ranged attackers in this fight can deal 51 damage in one hit with a roll of just 63.

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    But like all slow-loading ranged weapons, he can't keep it up, and Eder's high Athletics lets him recover with Second Wind. Aloth wrecks the enemy fighters with Curse of Blackened Sight (man, PoE spell names are long) and Fan of Flames.

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    Aloth is proving much more useful than I thought he would. Those spells of his are having a very strong impact now that I've gotten accustomed to using them liberally, instead of saving them to minimize resting.

    • Like 3
  2. @Jaheiras Witness: I'd not thought about Deep Wounds, but I did consider that Envenomed Strike would deal its damage faster with a low Intellect. Pity that Deep Wounds doesn't stack.

     

    I can definitely see the reason to increase Intellect on a cipher, but in my triple cipher party, low Intellect was worth the benefit (we dropped it to 7 or so). Cranking up Might, Dexterity, and Perception allowed us to generate Focus extremely quickly and reliably, which meant more Whisper of Treason and Puppet Master spells. Also, many of the best cipher powers are damage spells with no duration, which meant we had alternatives that relied on our high Might instead of our low Intellect. Intellect is great, but unlike Might, Dexterity, and Perception, Intellect doesn't contribute to Focus.

     

    A lot of my experience might have been due to the sheer number of ciphers we had. With three of them in the party using ranged weapons, we were able to break a certain threshold: we dealt so much damage at the start of the fight that we always began with a solid advantage, and fights were so fast that a low duration for Puppet Master didn't really matter much. In a party with fewer ciphers, I think low Intellect would be a bigger loss, since fights would last long enough for duration to be more important.

    • Like 1
  3. I'm not sure I agree that Intellect is very useful for thieves, though I'm definitely very inexperienced with Intellect, thieves, and PoE in general. Intellect can influence potion buffs, but how significant will a 30% difference in potion duration make, compared to bonuses from other stats? If you use three potions or scrolls in a single fight, a 30% decrease in duration is roughly equal to using one extra potion, which costs one more item and one more round. In a fight with 10 actions, that's only a 10% drop in power--meaningful, but that only applies to really major fights, and taking a 30% drop frees up 7 points of Intellect (my thief has 3 Intellect). I'd think that Intellect would be important primarily in classes whose class-based abilities (as opposed to just items) rely on duration.

     

    Speaking of duration: since the outcome of a fight tends to rely on events in the very first few seconds, I'm not sure if longer-duration spells really need an Intellect boost. I think the shorter-duration but stronger-impact spells like paralysis need Intellect more. A couple extra seconds of paralysis at the beginning of a fight sounds more important than 10 extra seconds of Bless at the end of combat.

     

    I was under the impression that Resolve was very important because higher difficulty enemies had much stronger Accuracy, and that Deflection needed to be as high as possible. But now that you mention it, a single point of Resolve buying a single point of Deflection (which would be, what, 1% increase in physical defenses?) isn't as significant when you compare it to, say, Dexterity, where a single point of Dexterity buys 3% faster action speed.

     

    I min-max, but I'm not sure my stat distribution is exactly optimal. PoE is all about tradeoffs in power, so dump stats aren't nearly as productive as they were in BG1. Dropping one stat to an unusually low value lets me gauge its importance--that's how I learned that Intellect was less important for ciphers.

     

    I'll pay closer attention to the littler factors and try to see defense as more complicated than Deflection and some basic Will and Fortitude defenses. And I'll start trying out "cornering" as an alternative to conventional choke points.

    • Like 1
  4. Noted. But that's sort of the point. You'll be forced to work with what you're given, flaws and all, and that, in turn, will require you to get the mechanics down.

     

    But, sure: If it doesn't sound fun, then totally pass!

    Now that I think about it, I think this kind of gets to the heart of our different playstyles. You have a very technical style heavily grounded in game knowledge and very long-term preparation: you experiment in a neutral context, process the system and catalogue the various factors in gameplay, and use that mental library to optimize your gameplay rather than optimize your party. You're the kind of player who will hold onto the hide armor from the prologue just so you can wear it, ages later, at the first fight with the shades outside Caed Nua, just to take advantage of hide armor's bonus to freeze damage reduction. It's a small edge in that fight, but those little optimizations add up.

     

    My playstyle is more about experimenting in non-neutral contexts. Gray Sidoh's run is a good example: I built a wildly abnormal party just to see if ciphers were really as  good at exploding stuff as they looked, with paladins on hand to cover the assumed weaknesses. Like you, I build up a mental library of technical details as I play the game, but for me, that process is incidental and passive.

     

    I like reading your runs because they have finer details that I tend to miss.

    • Like 2
  5. Noted. But that's sort of the point. You'll be forced to work with what you're given, flaws and all, and that, in turn, will require you to get the mechanics down.

     

    But, sure: If it doesn't sound fun, then totally pass!

    I actually just started a new run with an Orlan rogue dual-wielding hatchets (the Deflection bonuses stack!), and so far I've been sticking with the standard NPCs. This keeps happening... Another player suggests trying something a little bit harder, and eventually I find myself doing it!

     

    The funny thing is that it actually feels smoother than my old run. I don't have to worry about raising money to afford early-game custom characters, or how much experience each one starts with. Custom NPCs are expensive, and they start out a level behind. I think it may be better to stick with NPCs until you reach Defiance Bay or thereabouts.

     

    Rogues are fun to play. My itty bitty axe murderer, Frost, is very efficient. Rogues don't seem to need Intellect for much (their primary role is damage dealers), so I dropped her Intellect to 3 so we could max out Perception and keep Might, Dexterity, and Resolve high.

    • Like 1
  6. Question everyone: What do we think about runs like Alikae's -runs that were completed and then posted only after completion?

     

    Upon reflection, I think that they should not qualify for the Hall of Heroes/Honorable Mention lists. It's far more fun to follow an active run, as it is happening, then to following one that has already ended, and where the ending is known. It's kind of like watching a replay of a sporting event after you've already checked the score.

     

    I think we should require players to submit their entry posts at the very beginning of their runs. We should also encourage them to keep progress reports upto date. What does everyone else think?

    Hm. On more than one occasion, in the BG no-reload thread, I only began posting on a run after it was already complete, mostly because I'd play for several sessions, then post for several sessions, then play, then post, and so on. Sometimes I'd end up completing the run before I got around to posting on it. For Aur's ill-fated attempts at PotD mode, for example, I only began posting after both of them had failed (the same doesn't hold for Gray Sidoh's successful run).

     

    The most extreme example was my old solo LoB mode run, which I had to restart from Candlekeep multiple times. People in the solo LoB thread knew about my progress, but I didn't post screenshots in the no-reload thread (the one most people followed) until the full saga run was complete, months after the first attempt began. I still wrote my posts as if the run were in-progress, though, to maintain suspense for the readers that weren't following the run in the solo LoB thread--and to convey my immense frustration and despair every time Frisky suffered another needless death (I really got invested in that challenge).

     

    I don't know if it should be an absolute requirement, but we should at least strongly recommend that people post on their runs regularly, if only to make sure that folks don't skip posting on failed runs. Unsuccessful runs are just as worthy of documentation as successful ones.

     

    @Alesia_BH: Wasn't it slow Internet speed that kept you from posting on your run while it was ongoing? That seems like a perfectly valid reason to post after completion.

    • Like 1
  7. Aur, Moon Godlike Paladin, Kind Wayfarer, Aristocrat of Aedyr

     

    Might 14

    Constitution 14

    Dexterity 10

    Perception 15

    Intellect 10

    Resolve 15

     

    In the previous run, I found that our Lay on Hands spells were largely redundant, since Silver Tide covered a fair amount of the necessary healing, and by the time we get 6 Moon Godlikes, those Silver Tides are going to be even stronger. Instead, we pick Flames of Devotion as our first ability and put some more points in Constitution so we'll have a bigger pool of Health. The logic behind the higher Constitution is that, by the time we have all 6 paladins, our ability to heal Endurance will be so strong that Health, not Endurance, will determine whether we survive a given encounter or not.

     

    The lack of Lay on Hands proves costly early on. Flames of Devotion is important because of its +20 Accuracy and +50% fire damage, but unlike our future paladins, Heodan doesn't have Silver Tide to help him recover from enemy pressure.

     

    P7IQDhs.jpg


    We bring on Mwn and Godlyke, like in the previous run, but this time, I decide to keep both Aloth and Eder on hand, reasoning that it's more important for us to have a buffer to ensure our survival than it is to maximize experience in our paladins. Aloth in particular is surprisingly useful, as he has some nice burst damage potential with his spells. It actually makes a very noticeable difference in some high-pressure fights!

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    We do pretty well for a long time, with Silver Tide holding up our front line and Aloth providing key support, at first from his damage spells, but then, more importantly, his blindness spell, which does a lot to thwart the enemy's attacks (-25 Accuracy for all attacks is a pretty heavy burden).

    Then we make our way to Caed Nua, and two Phantoms show up alongside the Shadows--a worrying sign, but not nearly as worrying as when I see the enemy two-shot Aur, knocking her out far faster than her Silver Tide could rescue her.

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    The enemy repeatedly stun-locks the party, and the Phantoms deal massive damage while we're disabled, their cold damage completely bypassing our physical damage reduction while Sneak Attack bonuses magnify their strikes.

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    We apply as much pressure as we can, but there's just not much you can do when a level 3 party is getting stun-locked. I keep hoping that Silver Tide will help us weather the storm, but the enemy just deals too much damage too quickly.

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    Aloth struggles to kill the Shadows at Near Death, hoping that it will give us a better chance of surviving the stun effects, but he can't quite bring them down; we just don't have strong enough rolls. Just as he exhausts his grimoire, a Phantom nails him with a critical hit.

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    It looks grim, but I hope that we can get some lucky rolls against those stun effects and take down the Phantoms one at a time. But luck does not go our way; neither of our surviving paladins can recover from the stun effects before new ones get re-applied. Finally, they pin down the final paladin.

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    Dead again.

     

    @Alesia_BH, are you sure about Path of the Damned not being much different from Hard mode, or might your similar experience with the two be due to having more game knowledge by the time you got through Hard mode? Because this is a major upgrade from Normal mode; a very large number of early game fights appear to be unrealistic challenges at the levels you gain access to them.

     

    I don't think I'll try again. I still think this strategy has great potential, and I'm sure we could make it past those Phantoms if we took the right precautions against stun effects and cold damage (I had the ingredients to craft that scroll that cuts disabler durations in half, as well as a Potion of Bulwark Against the Elements), but the main reason I was interested in this party is because I thought it would be simple and low-maintenance.

     

    I never got to create the sixth paladin, but I intended to name the six paladins Aur, Mwn, Godlyke, Palla Dins, Tw, and Overpawrd, a play on "Are Moon Godlike paladins too overpowered?" I think the answer is yes, but I don't plan on continuing with this group.

     

    If I'm going to have to micromanage the party to get through Path of the Damned, I'd rather do it with a more interesting group than a band of paladin clones.

    • Like 3
  8. Aur, Moon Godlike Paladin, Kind Wayfarer, Aristocrat of Aedyr

     

    Might 16

    Constitution 10

    Dexterity 10

    Perception 13

    Intellect 10

    Resolve 19

     

    I've decided to test my theory about a party of Moon Godlike paladins and have bumped up the difficulty to Path of the Damned, skipping Hard mode at Alesia_BH's suggestion. Basically, the theory is that paladins have strong defenses and can neutralize disablers using Liberating Exhortation, and the area-effect healing of Silver Tide will keep all party members in good health. I think this will be enough to stomp over PotD; the party should be more or less invincible once I get all six paladins in order.

     

    One of the first warning signs that this run might be more difficult than I thought comes from the Skuldr Whelps in the first dungeon, who stun the entire party with their screech effect.

     

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    Oddly enough, though, the enemies at the back just... stand there. They don't capitalize on the party's vulnerability; they wait until their friend is dead before rushing in to join the fight.

     

    We get through the prologue with little trouble, and we kick out Aloth right after we get him in order to make room for Mwn, our next paladin, who is a virtual duplicate of Aur. We nearly get overwhelmed early on due to having only two party members, but sure enough, Silver Tide keeps us afloat when things get rough.

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    We collect enough money to purchase our third paladin, Godlyke, and recruit Durance because I'm starting to worry that we just don't have the numbers to deal with the larger groups of enemies in PotD. Durance offers us a few useful buffs, and while he's extremely fragile, he uses Halt to make his escape when a wolf threatens him. Once he's safe, he deals area-effect damage with Iconic Projection, which has a surprisingly wide area of effect.

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    Mwn still gets knocked out in the process, but the party survives. Back at Gilded Vale, we replace Durance with Eder and try our hand at the Will o' Wisps in the temple. They keep afflicting our party members with their confusion bolts, but our confused characters never seem to deal any damage to the others. It's a long grind, but Silver Tide helps us deal with the endless stream of lightning bolts.

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    Feeling emboldened by our success, I probe a little deeper into the temple and run into some spiders.

     

    To my surprise, the spiders turn out to be very sturdy... and because I couldn't use the doorway as a chokepoint due to a web spell holding Aur in place, we get surrounded. Turns out the spiders can hit pretty hard.

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    Silver Tide triggers, but it's just not enough. Our other two Moon Godlikes aren't taking any damage, which means that only Aur herself is activating Silver Tide. That's not enough to keep us safe; both Aur and Eder crumple.

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    We're making progress on the enemy, but we can't quite bring the spiders down. As time drags on, the spiders keep tacking on damage...

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    ...and ultimately, only one character is left.

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    I let her fight a little longer, hoping that she'll get some lucky rolls, but we don't get them. The spiders finish us off.

     

    So, we've got our first entry for the Graveyard. But since I'm not done with this concept just yet, I decide to start over and try again.

    • Like 3
  9. I think an entry in the Graveyard is a good thing. It means you're learning--and why not commemorate a character's unfortunate demise? Failure is an integral part of the no-reload experience; no one beats the challenge without losing characters. Besides, an entry in the Graveyard is a reassuring sign to other players that they're not alone.

     

    I wouldn't hesitate to ask for an entry in the Graveyard, and I encourage other people to do the same. Losing runs is part of the challenge!

    • Like 2
  10. Now that I think about it, I'm kind of tempted to jump right from Normal to Path of the Damned mode with a team of Moon Godlike paladins just to see how sturdy they really are. But I don't want to get into the habit of going for "trophy" runs like I used to; I've walked that road before and it tends to suck the joy out of living.

     

    Still... It might be fun to try. It sounds like a very simple, breezy party to play.

    • Like 1
  11. Maybe I'll try a double monk, double rogue, double mage party. With the right talent, monks can deal 5% extra melee damage as fire damage per 1 Wound, and with the right talent, you can get 1 Wound for every 8 damage instead of every 10 damage. Wounds only last 20 seconds, so that 5% extra damage won't last forever, but a monk that continually takes damage can have very respectable damage output. I was thinking I'd make both monks into Moon Godlikes, since their high Might and high Constitution would synergize with the party-wide healing from Silver Tide. They'd be able to take a lot of damage without being in serious danger.

     

    Honestly, Moon Godlikes seem like the best race by far. That extra healing scales so well with Might, and the fact that's it's area-effect and can trigger multiple times (once per encounter, but that's for hitting 75%, 50%, and 25% Endurance each) means that a party of Moon Godlikes would effectively have regeneration going on at all times, and it triggers automatically. I mean, put together a party of Moon Godlike paladins and what else needs to be done? They'd be virtually invincible. If all of them get blasted by some horrible spell, all of them trigger the healing simultaneously.

    • Like 1
  12. @Alesia_BH: Yes, I'm talking about switching from one loaded gun to another, and then reloading them after combat. Firing a pistol consecutively takes about 8 seconds between each shot; switching from pistol to pistol takes about 4 seconds between each shot, but you'd have to reload them later. Now that I think about it, it probably wouldn't be a big deal for anyone except for a rogue combining it with sneak attack bonuses, since you'd only get 1-3 switches before you were reduced to a normal attack rate.

     

    So, bows are generally better than guns, as far as I can tell. Even the chanter's reload bonus for allies doesn't seem to change that. But, considering how many enemies are resistant and sometimes even immune to piercing damage, I've actually found that wands are more reliable if you don't already know for certain what the next enemy's resistances are going to be. My ciphers used wands for most of the game, only switching to bows when we got very special bows like Persistence and Borresaine.

    • Like 1
  13. I've had several ideas for my next run. I think I'll bump it up to Hard, and I'd like to try White March, but that seems like it would end in failure. Since I've already got one no-reload complete, I think I'll take it easy and focus more on learning the game than getting another entry in, so I might continue the run as a reload run if it fails as a no-reload run, just so I can do some more experimenting on my own.

     

    I'd like to try a high-Intellect, low-Might mage specializing in disablers combined with a bruiser-type thief for sneak attacks on blinded critters, though we'd still want healing options and immunities. I've had enough of paladins for a while, which leaves priests, but I don't usually find priests as interesting as other classes.

     

    I'm also curious about the potential of firearms, but the weapon speeds seem absolutely terrible. Look at how much slower every firearm is compared to other ranged weapons according to the wiki:

     

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    Unless you're dealing with an enemy with extremely, extremely high damage reduction, faster weapons with lower damage would come out on top simply because they strike so much more often. What good is dealing 20% more damage if you attack 50% fewer times? That's a 40% loss in damage output.

     

    Testing suggested that you could cut the firing rate of a pistol in half by switching weapons instead of reloading. That could only be done once per gun per battle, since you'd have to switch back to reload (switching weapons doesn't reset any reload timers), but it would give an edge at the start of combat, which would be very nice for minor battles that don't last as long.

     

    That being said, I'm not sure any of this would be allowed. The entire concept of firing a gun more than once seems completely anathema to the challenge.

     

    After all, this thread is for no-reload runs. :)

    • Like 2
  14. Btw, I've alway been inclined to focus on forcing Thaos into the statue before turning my attention to the Headsman. Why do you prefer to attack the Headsman first?

    Because I'd only fought him once before! I have no idea how most of this game works.

     

    Does he stay frozen until the judge and executioner fall? When the "Soul Jump" absorbs damage, where does it go? Because if it goes directly to the judge and executioner, then that would mean you could bypass some of their damage resistances by targeting Thaos instead.

    • Like 1
  15. The basic assumptions behind this run were that (1) ciphers have crazy offensive potential if they're min-maxed, and (2) paladins could cover the vulnerabilities of a glass cannon-type cipher.

     

    Apparently, both of those assumptions held. Ciphers have crazy offensive potential because so many things synergize with each other: high Might and Accuracy increase weapon damage, which increases Focus gain, which can be used to fuel damage spells that are also magnified by high Might and Accuracy, and high Dexterity speeds up both. A min-maxed cipher is extremely fragile, but its weaknesses can all be covered. Using ranged weapons lets them avoid pressure (their damage spells are already long-range anyway), Lay on Hands is a quick fix when a cipher accidentally takes damage, and Liberating Exhortation compensates for a low-Intellect cipher's poor Will defenses.

     

    The party didn't have a broad range of options--we only had two classes in the whole party, and every party member was practically a carbon copy of another one--but this synergy alone was enough to grant the party incredible power while still making it resistant to key threats.

     

    I wonder if there are other party setups based class-specific synergies. I notice that rogues get a massive 50% damage bonus against blinded targets, and that mages get two long-lasting, wide-ranging blindness spells at levels 1 and 3. But I don't see a defensive synergy in that pairing--maybe a single priest could accompany multiple rogues and one or two mages?

    • Like 2
  16. Gray Sidoh: No Per-Rest Abilities Run (three paladins, three ciphers)

     

    Before I decide on our opening spells for the final battle, I check the resistances of Woedica's Headsman and Woedica's Judge. I notice that the executioner has no bonuses to its defense against domination effects, so I start out with Puppet Master. We get a critical hit!

     

    But... nothing happens.

     

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    I double-check the executioner and realize that while its list of resistances doesn't mention domination effects, its list of immunities does.

     

    So, we've wasted 30 Focus right off the bat, and Rius takes a bit of damage from a disengagement attack, since she had to get so close to cast Puppet Master. Fortunately, the judge and executioner don't like to run around very much, and Thaos himself prefers to stay in one place while he casts spells, which means our ciphers are relatively safe just by scurrying away a short distance. Zovai engages the judge, Gray Sidoh engages the executioner, and Lothra engages Thaos, ensuring that our ciphers don't have to worry about getting chased--and establishing our ideal positioning at the beginning of combat.

     

    We proceed with a Scroll of Defense and Scrolls of Maelstrom on the executioner, whom I deem the more important target (though I don't really know). The damage is a little disappointing; the judge and executioner appear to have some pretty sturdy resistances against elemental damage.

     

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    The damage is still much better than anything we could do without burning Focus points, however, and slightly better lucky gets us a much bigger hit soon after (we have multiple scrolls for just this occasion).

     

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    Unfortunately, our positioning isn't as strong as I thought it was. Rius is well within range of Thaos' spells, and takes massive damage from a single crushing blow.

     

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    Our ciphers' strong Reflex defenses, courtesy of high Perception and Dexterity, are probably the only reason she didn't get killed in one shot. Rius immediately switches to drinking a Potion of Infuse Vital Essence, and Lothra begins casting Lay on Hands to bail her out; I don't know how much time we have before the enemy can land another hit on Rius while she's vulnerable.

     

    Our paladins keep using defensive scrolls and such to ensure we stay safe while our ciphers steadily deal damage to the executioner. But despite consistently landing hits, the executioner is still in fairly good health even as we steadily run out of Scrolls of Maelstrom. Eager to bring it down, we try a Detonate spell, and while the damage is massive, it becomes clear that the executioner's base Endurance is extremely high--even now, it's only at Injured! We have a long way to go still.

     

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    But our party is still in good condition, and as long as the party doesn't have to dedicate attention to its defenses, we can continue making progress. The executioner approaches death.

     

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    Thaos lands another heavy hit, this time on Lothra. For a moment, I think we can bounce back from it just like we did with Rius, using Infuse Vital Essence and Lay on Hands. Then we finally slay the executioner--and discover that it does area-effect damage on death, finishing off Lothra before she can recover.

     

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    Overall, it's a net gain, since we can always bring back Lothra (we have some Scrolls of Revival in addition to Reviving Exhortation). But then Thaos launches another big damage spell at us, and Viora is down to 19 Endurance.

     

    Okay, we can't let Thaos keep blasting us with damage spells. We need to spread apart so he can't hit so many people at once; it's drawing too much attention away from our attacks and forcing us to spend precious seconds keeping the party afloat. Thaos is targeting Vivenne, so I have Vivenne run to the northeast.

     

    But we move too late. Another damage spell comes from an unknown source and finishes off Viora. Two ciphers down.

     

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    But Vivenne's disengagement works out for us in the long run: by luring Thaos over to the northwest, we can safely revive both Rius and Viora, who are now a safe distance from both Thaos and the judge. Lothra and Gray Sidoh engage Thaos, and while Thaos can deal massive damage even on grazes, the two paladins can take a lot of punishment before they get in danger. They're sturdy enough to hold him off, at least for a little while.

     

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    We use a Scroll of Moonwell in case Thaos takes very long to subdue, then use our favorite damage spell, Ectopsychic Echo. He has surprisingly little Endurance; we've only applied modest pressure and he's already at Injured.

     

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    Realizing the danger, or perhaps just noticing that Vivenne is unusually close to him, Thaos disengages from Gray Sidoh and Lothra and chases our ciphers. However, this doesn't let him escape the beam, and when our paladins chase him down, Thaos re-engages our paladins instead of continuing to chase our ciphers. Thaos therefore remains inside the beam, and eventually the damage catches up to him. Thaos is forced to use Minor Intercession to stay alive, which shuts down his spellcasting.

     

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    I don't know how Thaos' "Soul Jump" thingy works, but since it appears to absorb damage, I'm guessing that you have to keep dealing damage to it in order to keep him hiding and therefore inactive. Our paladins keep attacking him in the hopes that it will prevent Thaos from leaving his shell to continue casting spells, while our ciphers switch gears and turn to the judge. I don't know if you need to kill the judge and executioner to beat Thaos, but getting rid of the distractions is definitely useful--I don't want two giants stomping all over us. The judge's physical attacks are mostly harmless against Zovai's extremely high Deflection, but its spells are very scary indeed.

     

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    Since I'm not sure our paladins are dealing enough damage to keep Thaos in his shell, we use another Ectopsychic Echo to deal constant damage to Thaos' "Soul Jump" thingy. The judge doesn't take much damage per hit due to its excellent defenses, but since we have multiple fully functional characters to gang up on it, the damage builds up over time.

     

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    Thaos stays inactive, and while the judge deals some damage, it's not fast enough to overcome our party's generous supply of healing options. We finally bring down the judge.

     

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    Thaos leaves his shield (I'm guessing all damage to his shield is dealt instead to the judge and executioner) and takes a few big hits from the tail end of Ectopsychic Echo. He throws out a Confusion spell, but we quickly cure it with Liberating Exhortation, and Thaos quickly finds himself caught between two Ectopsychic Echo beams.

     

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    Thaos casts Instill Doubt, but all that does is impose some light penalties; it doesn't actually disable anyone, much less kill anyone. All the while, Ectopsychic Echo continues to crush him.

     

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    Thaos simply doesn't have the defenses to weather that kind of pressure. Our ciphers bring him down.

     

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    Done! We return the souls to their intended bodies, ending the Hollowborn epidemic, and I accidentally skip the epilogue text about Raedric's second defeat.

     

    One Normal mode run of PoE with no per-rest abilities, complete.

    • Like 4
  17. Gray Sidoh: No Per-Rest Abilities Run (three paladins, three ciphers)

     

    Time to deal with Thaos and finally learn the big secret truth thingy behind Pillars of Eternity. Here is our fully-buffed party at the end of the game, both record screens and inventory screens. The spoiler below has 12 screenshots, so if you want the key details: We have three paladins decked in full plate and fast weapons with shields, and three ciphers with cloth armor, two bows, and a wand. Basically, the paladins are designed to be tanky healers, and the ciphers are glass cannons using ranged weapons. Everyone has high Might and Scrolls of Defense, Potions of Infuse Vital Essence, and healing scrolls. The paladins have high Resolve to improve their defenses; the ciphers have high Dexterity and Perception but low Intellect to maximize damage output.

     

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    That's our strategy in a nutshell. The ciphers do big damage, and the paladins keep them alive.

    • Like 2
  18. @Semiticgod. Have you noticed Aegis of Loyalty yet? For fights like Undead Raedric, the thing to do, I think, is have a paladin with Aegis of Loyalty, wearing The Hand and Key.

    That's a good idea! I don't think I have the Hand and Key in this run; it's not our inventory and I don't remember getting it. If we did find it, it's been sold in favor of custom-enchanted plate mail for all three paladins. I considered getting Aegis of Loyalty, but didn't think it would matter much in the final fight, so I went with Reinforcing Exhortation.

     

    Whenever someone mentions a key item in this thread, I have to look it up because I don't know which items are which. Partly it's because I don't remember the names, but it's also because I haven't even heard of some items. I'm missing a lot of technical knowledge about game resources, so I don't really know all the tools available, or how to get them. In fact, I think Ilfan Byrngar's Solace is the only item whose name and location I know!

    • Like 2
  19. Gray Sidoh: No Per-Rest Abilities Run (three paladins, three ciphers)

     

    We head to Burial Isle to see how much experience we can get before jumping through the hole, which I'm reasonably certain is the point of no return in the main questline. The local spirits seem considerably tougher than I remember, but none of them are tough enough to withstand three simultaneous beams from Ectopsychic Echo.

     

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    We're still not quite at level 9, and I'm not sure the experience at Sun in Shadow will be enough to get us there before Thaos, so I decide to do one last quest before jumping down the hole: the optional high-level mercenaries from the Caed Nua stronghold questline. I think we have the numbers to deal with them, but the Mercenary Gunslinger at the start surprises me with an 89-damage hit. If that was a critical hit, it could have been a one-shot kill!

     

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    I can't help but wonder how a solo character could handle that kind of risk. There's always a chance of a high enemy attack roll.

     

    We take a lot of damage, but the Mercenary Gunslinger's incredibly slow rate of fire more or less dooms him. Nearly killing a party member doesn't mean as much if you can't actually finish them off. We squash him with Ectopsychic Echo.

     

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    God, I love that spell. The next batch of enemies has excellent damage output, but not enough to kill anyone, and we only need a few seconds to clear the field with our ciphers.

     

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    But these guys are still really tough; they have big numbers and are pretty hard to kill even if they're mostly just brute force grunts. I hate to think what a similarly high-level enemy spellcaster would be like in this area.

     

    I decide I'd rather not find out. This area seems too dangerous to be worth an extra level for Thaos; I honestly think it might be harder than the final boss, just based on how strong the earliest enemies are.

     

    There's nothing left to do without entering Whitemarch or whatever. I decide to finally jump down the hole. Before we go down, we rest at the Suite of Worldly Wonders at the Goose and Fox for the Lore bonuses, in case we can't get our Lore high enough to use Scrolls of Maelstrom.

     

    The Animats down here are really sturdy against slashing and piercing damage, but their poor damage reduction against crushing damage makes them excellent candidates for--you guessed it--Ectopsychic Echo.

     

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    Then I see a Shadow Drake, and I realize this area's going to be much tougher than it was on Easy mode.

     

    That is, until I realize that I can stun the beast with a Silent Scream spell.

     

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    Another Shadow Drake shows up in the next fight, and I choose a stronger option: Puppet Master, to turn the drake against the other enemies. Even drakes have pretty weak Will defenses, at least for a party with high-Perception ciphers.

     

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    The Shadow Drake blasts us when the domination effect wears off, but all we have to do is dominate it again and then paralyze it with Mental Binding when it's the only enemy left.

     

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    We have finally reached level 9, and while not everyone in the party has 10 base Lore, two of our ciphers still have enough Lore to use Scrolls of Maelstrom thanks to the rest bonuses from the Suite of Worldly Wonders. The scrolls aren't a game-changer, but even a slight boost in strength could make the difference between victory and defeat.

     

    It's time.

     

    Thaos is waiting.

    • Like 4
  20. Gray Sidoh: No Per-Rest Abilities Run (three paladins, three ciphers)

     

    We do a little more dungeon crawling, trying to put together enough experience for level 9, but we aren't getting very far, and when I see an ominously large room...

     

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    ...I decide to beat it. I don't know what lies in that chamber, but big fights tend to take place in big rooms, and rushing into a major fight completely blind isn't worth it just to get a few steps closer to level 9.

     

    Still, we really could benefit from level 9 against Thaos, so I decide to go ahead and try my hand at Raedric, figuring that I could at least deal with a few of the first fights just to gauge how strong Raedric himself would be. But when I meet a Fampyr outside his castle, I discover that there are no fights leading up to the big one; you go straight to Raedric.

     

    I decide to take a gamble and fight Raedric in spite of my worries about Fampyrs. Sure enough, there are multiple Famyrs in the fight with Raedric, and they again prove incredibly accurate in their charm spells despite Gray Sidoh's spectacular defenses.

     

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    We fix it quickly and fire off a couple of Ectopsychic Echo spells, and while Gray Sidoh slips past the enemies in order to catch more of them in the twin beams, we've got a problem: the enemy is already encroaching on our ciphers. We pull our ciphers back, but the enemies give chase. We can't shake them.

     

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    We split up our ciphers, but all it does is free a single cipher from pressure; the other two are both under attack, and when I try to nail the enemy with a Scroll of Paralysis, we only pin down a single enemy. Raedric launches a fireball, and Viora, already under heavy pressure by two enemies, crumples in seconds.

     

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    And for the two enemies who were attacking Viora, their next closest target is Rius, another cipher. The enemy is about to target another vulnerable party member.

     

    I can't finagle my way around this, so I decide on a reset: I send our two remaining ciphers to the northeast while our paladins move to block the stairway and slow down the enemies.

     

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    But the stairway isn't narrow enough for our paladins to completely block it off, and the enemies keep chasing our ciphers. We still can't safely use our best offensive characters.

     

    But by luring the enemy north, we can revive Viora with Reviving Exhortation in complete safety. Viora got knocked out in the south, but with the enemies running around in the north, she is now free from enemy pressure!

     

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    With some careful micromanagement, we pull Vivenne, our other cipher twin, away from all the enemies but a single Fampyr, and we've made enough progress on that Fampr that we can finish it off. Now Vivenne has no enemies engaging her, which means we have two ciphers acting from a safe position. Only Rius is in danger.

     

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    Raedric himself is currently busy hassling Lothra to the south, and Lothra is holding her own thanks to her solid paladin defenses. Since Raedric has incredibly strong defenses and he doesn't seem to be causing any real problems, I decide to ignore him; his allies are the real threat right now.

     

    This means we need to take Viora, currently in the south, and bring her up north to help defeat the enemies up north. There's a single Fampyr Guardsman on the stairway, though, which means we need to kill him before Viora can safely join the fight up north.

     

    For some reason, that Fampyr Guardsman heads north on his own, but Viora has gotten charmed and cannot join the fight just yet. Rius, far to the north, is under heavy pressure right now, with three enemies all closing in on her.

     

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    We've having a lot of trouble killing these enemies; they're injured but not close to death. Even when Zovai deploys a Missile Barrage scroll against the presumably fragile Fampyr mage, he stays on his feet. Rius, however, is not remotely as sturdy, and we don't have enough healing options or enough time to keep her safe. Rius collapses.

     

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    Viora is no longer charmed, but we've still got Gray Sidoh charmed in the south and Vivenne charmed in the north, which means we still can't take action against the enemies in the north. We heal up Viora before we send her north, at which point I discover that Moonwell is enemy-friendly. Apparently Raedric gets some of the healing, too.

     

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    It's not a problem, because Raedric is currently neither a target nor a threat; he's too sturdy and is dealing too little damage to justify targeting him.

     

    Up north, the enemies run ignore Zovai and run south towards the fight with Raedric, but the moment Vivenne recovers from the charm effect, they switch targets and run right back to the north to engage her. I didn't know they'd switch gears like this, which means Zovai is busy using a scroll and cannot intercept the enemies before they can reach Vivenne. They swarm Vivenne, and we lose another cipher to a knockout.

     

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    Still, Zovai's second Missile Barrage scroll brings a Fampyr to Near Death, which means we'll be in a better position to keep our ciphers safe once we have room to revive them.

     

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    Viora heads up north to help finish off that Fampyr with a Scroll of Paralysis, but to my frustration, the enemies gleefully disengage from Zovai to rush after our final cipher. No matter how I position our characters, they always make a beeline straight for our ciphers. It seems that they always choose targets with the lowest defenses. Viora is nowhere near them, but they hurry southwest to target her.

     

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    Gray Sidoh leaves Lothra to distract Raedric and intercepts one of the Fampyrs chasing Viora as Viora flees to the south. For once, a Fampyr actually stays engaged with a paladin rather than chasing our vulnerable cipher. But even now, we still can't make use of our cipher: she gets charmed again.

     

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    I notice something interesting. That charm came from a Fampyr, Viora is all the way in the south, where there are only Fampyr Guardsman; not the one enemy just named "Fampyr."

     

    That Fampyr, currently fighting Zovai in the far north, cast that charm spell from all the way across the map. That's just silly--none of my spells have every had such a ridiculously long range.

     

    Finally, Zovai brings down the Fampyr that's been hovering at Near Death for what's felt like ages. That might not seem like a big deal, but it means that the north is completely clear of enemies--and since both of our fallen ciphers are in the north, that means we can revive both of them in a safe area.

     

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    Zovai only has a single use of Reviving Exhortation, of course, so we can only revive Rius and not Vivenne, unless I'm willing to bring another paladin up north (which would risk luring an enemy north to apply pressure to Vivenne and Rius). But that's fine with me; we've been spending so much time running around trying to secure an advantage in positioning that we've actually made a lot of progress against the enemy in the meantime. It doesn't take much more work to clear the field in the south.

     

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    After much work, Raedric is finally alone. Now that we have no Fampyrs to worry about and our ciphers are safe, we revive Vivenne and blast Raedric with Ectopsychic Echo.

     

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    Gray Sidoh finally hits level 9, and learns Reinforcing Exhortation, which might help us defend a threatened cipher--but will probably see no use, since scrolls and Lay on Hands will probably be more useful as rescue options. We can now craft some Scrolls of Maelstrom for fast, high-damage options during the final fight.

     

    We still need our other characters to reach level 9, however, as we can't use those Scrolls of Maelstrom until our ciphers can break 10 Lore. But we're not far from level 9--it won't be much longer before we're ready for Thaos.

    • Like 4
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