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Posts posted by semiticgod

  1. @Serg_Blackstrider: Fair point about the "off-screen" runs. I actually do have screenshots of my earlier attempts, but I doubt I'll bother posting them here just to put a couple names in the Graveyard.


    I wasn't able to do this in my current run due to the ban on per-rest abilities, but does Envenomed Weapon seem very powerful to you guys? It deals damage in the high double digits, can be used three times per rest, and it deals raw damage. I assume some enemies are immune to it on the grounds that it's poison, but I don't know which critters might be immune. After all, brainless critters like Blights are nonetheless vulnerable to stun, and it's possible to paralyze various versions of undead. Immunities are kind of scarce in PoE compared to BG. Ostensibly, a high-Accuracy character would be able to deal lots of damage with it.

    • Like 2
  2. @Alesia_BH: I'd think that Eyestrike would be more useful as a level 1 Power pick. It lasts half as long, but it also takes half the Focus of Phantom Foes, and I think Amplified Thrust is a better choice for 20-Focus abilities that deal damage. But Phantom Foes should definitely enable sneak attacks.


    I've been wondering about a thief's invisibility powers. It seems like a great option for solo runs, and I'd think it would synergize beautifully with firearms, as the invisibility would give you plenty of time to reload and the sneak attack bonus should enable some incredibly strong shots. I also notice that thieves have very high Accuracy, which would make them very excellent at using offensive scrolls. I don't know how they'd fare in a solo run considering their otherwise weak defenses, but I've wondered if a party of 6 thieves might be fun to play.

    • Like 1
  3. Gray Sidoh: No Per-Rest Abilities Run (three paladins, three ciphers)


    After having barely survived an encounter with a bunch of Blights and Adragans in Od Nua, we head to Copperlane and burn thousands of gold on ingredients for crafting--without the ability to use per-rest abilities, we need to rely on consumables for big battles. We brew some Infuse Vital Essence potions and tack on a few more enchantments to our gear. Back in my old run, I never did any enchanting at all: I checked it in the early game, found I couldn't do anything, and didn't know when it was possible.


    We stop by Caed Nua and fight some Leaden Key Agents. They put up quite a fight, but compared to the last one, it's a breeze. Mind Blades continue to thrash the opposition.



    A few safe fights later, Gray Sidoh finally hits level 5 and gets Reviving Exhortation, which I didn't even know existed until now. Suddenly, we can revive a fallen character once per rest--and after some light questing in the main storyline, our other two paladins take the same Talent, while Rius, our first cipher, learns Silent Scream, which stuns the target for a short time and deals lots of raw damage.


    Suddenly, we have a major boost in our offensive power (as if we needed it) and the ability to revive a fallen character three times in every fight. We're much safer now--and ready to handle more serious challenges.


    Some Leaden Key jerkbags give us some grief, but Puppet Master lets us turn the fighters on their friends. The thing about ciphers is that they start every fight with a big wad of Focus already loaded. This means we always get to start every fight with a powerful new option, which lets us establish an early advantage in a fight--which makes minor fights especially fast.


    We're quickly reaching the point when Mind Blades can't really break the difficulty of every fight anymore, and Ectopsychic Echo requires careful positioning, but Puppet Master scales better with enemy strength. Mind Blades does static damage, which means less and less against tougher critters; Puppet Master grants a bigger advantage when the target is bigger.


    We can even dominate Adragans; they have a surprisingly weak Will defense. And for critters with strong Will defenses, we still have strong damage options in the form of Silent Scream. Being able to ignore damage reduction is very lovely indeed.


    And when Silent Scream doesn't deal enough damage, we have Ectopsychic Echo.


    Our ciphers are still as vulnerable as ever, however, even if we can revive them, and apparently a charmed Ogre Druid's insect spell can break the domination effect of other charmed ogres. As fast as fights can go in our favor, the tide can turn against us just as fast if I'm not careful.


    So, if party-unfriendly effects are on the map, domination can be easily broken. We switch to paralysis instead!


    There are a lot of little fights in between these ones, but I don't have screenshots for them all, and not all of them feature any turning points or reveal new information.


    I'm really having fun with Ectopsychic Echo. Partly it's because it feels so much like Agannazar's Scorcher shenanigans in BG, but mostly because it's shiny and effective. We just cast a couple Ectopsychic Echo spells on a single paladin, then send the paladin past the enemies. It lets the enemy land several disengagement attacks, but there's just something very lovely about stretching a bright blue death beam all the way across the map. The only limit is your movement speed!


    We spend over 15,000 copper pieces on ingredients and craft some scrolls of Moonwell. Not everyone can use it, but I've been trying to max out Lore to make sure we can spam high-end scrolls when necessary, while still making sure everyone has 1 Athletics and some points in Survival. Gray Sidoh takes the Deep Pockets Talent (imagine that: having deep pockets is a talent) so she can use a couple more quick items per fight. I haven't been using many, but we're going to want a lot of scrolls and potions and stuff for the final battle.


    We choose Accuracy: Beast before the fight with the dragon, and right before we reach it, we get another round of level ups for our second and third paladins and our first cipher (I got the party members at different times, so their level ups are staggered). Zovai takes Deep Pockets, Lothras takes Deep Faith, and Rius finally learns Greater Focus so she starts combat with another 10 Focus, which is very useful if you want to throw out a bunch of Ectopsychic Echo spells on the first round of combat.


    The Accuracy bonuses against beasts should make it easier for us to bring down the Sky Dragon when we're throwing out psychic spells. We're really, really going to need this if we pick the wrong dialog options with the dragon.


    But we don't, so we make peace with the monster.


    I already knew the right dialog options, but I don't like the idea of making the fate of the run depend on three correct button presses. I wanted to make sure we at least had a few tiny bonuses in case I pressed the wrong button. Play enough no-reload runs and you get accustomed to creating contingency plans and so forth.


    Resolving the issue peacefully gets level ups for Vivenne and Viora, both of whom take Bull's Will for the +10 bonus to their Will defenses. Their low Intellect has always given me pause, since the penalties to Will make them especially vulnerable to disablers.


    We spend thousands more copper pieces on ingredients and nab the bow, Borresaine, for its ability to stun on critical hits. In the hands of a high-Accuracy character like one of our ciphers, we should get a few stuns out of it. We enchant it to deal corrosive damage and bonus damage to Vessels, because I'm guessing that damage reduction against corrosive damage is rare (I remember not even seeing it on slimes, which ostensibly would be immune to acid and stuff) and we already have species-specific damage bonuses against other types of critters.


    I really want to hit level 9 before tackling Thaos because I want to be able to craft and use Scrolls of Maelstrom to take advantage of the low Reflex defenses of Thaos' big friendly giants. Since I don't want to do fetch quests to gain experience (I don't know where to find easy quests, so it would involve a lot of aimless wandering around Defiance Bay), I head back to Caed Nua, where some of Raedric's undead goons are apparently waiting for me. Alesia_BH mentioned the possibility of beating Raedric a second time, so I'm guessing this is the start of a much bigger challenge.


    One round into combat, and I see a problem. The enemy Fampyr, a creature I've never encountered before, can charm our party members--and can even break past Gray Sidoh's incredibly high Will defense.


    More importantly, the undead are already encroaching on our ciphers. I pull them aside and activate Ectopsychic Echo, but I can't escape the reach of the Fampyr, and its damage output proves extremely fast--faster than our paladins can address the problem. We lose Vivenne early on.




    Fortunately, we've made enough progress via Ectopsychic Echo that we can overpower the enemy. Even so, it's a worrisome sign. That one Fampyr was enough to really screw up our strategy once it flanked us, and it sounds like fighting Raedric is going to entail dealing with a lot more Fampyrs.


    We didn't come anywhere close to dying in that fight, or even close to suffering a second knockout, but the enemy made progress against us, and that's a real shift in the situation. If Raedric is a step above these guys, he might be too much for us.


    I decide not to tackle Raedric for now. Instead, we're going back to Od Nua. It's been a while since we fought the Blights and Adragans, and now we should be able to handle the nearby fights without relying on finite resources.

    • Like 3
  4. @Jaheiras_Witness: Very informative stuff! I especially like your positioning--intentionally cornering your character to form an artificial chokepoint is very clever, and not something I would have considered. I've only done that once before as far as I can recall, when I cornered an Archer/Mage character against Belhifet in SoD. That's not something I would have tried in PoE. You're doing a great job of optimizing your tactics. It shows a lot of insight into the game system; I didn't realize there was that much depth to the fights with the Xaurips.


    How important are Concentration and Interrupt in PoE? I've generally regarded interruption as an occasional inconvenience that could generally be ignored, on the grounds that the longest interruptions are only 1 second, and it takes many seconds to land those interruptions since the weapons that impose it are so slow. I suppose a solo run would need to deal with lots of pressure, and while spell disruption doesn't exist in PoE, I can see how multiple interruptions would build up over time.


    Is there any way you could use this offensively? That is, is there a way to reliably interrupt-lock an enemy with a full party?

    • Like 2
  5. Zero and nero sound kinda negative. How about the Graveyard for lost runs and Honorable Mentions for non-saga runs? The Graveyard would be a playfully gloomy name for a challenge that usually ends in failure. Plus, it matches the numerous tombstone markings around PoE.


    I have two dead characters named Gray Sidoh. They could be the first entries in the Graveyard:


    Gray Sidoh, Orlan Wizard: Forgot that bears are omnivores, not herbivores.


    Gray Sidoh, Orlan Wizard: Littered in the forest; executed by tree huggers.

    • Like 2
  6. Hm. The Hall of Heroes for BG runs only included full saga runs: BG1, BG2, and ToB (SoD was optional because there were so many runs that came before SoD was made). However, we also had an Honorable Mentions section in the Beamdog thread (if not the original Bioware thread) for notable runs that failed very late or only included part of the saga. JuliusBorisov had a solo druid run in the Honorable Mentions section that died at the very end of the game, and I had a couple runs that were BG2 and ToB only; no BG1. The reasoning was that JuliusBorisov's run was unusually challenging (a solo druid is one of the toughest runs you can attempt) and my two runs had special gimmicks (one was a group of spellcasters that were required to fight primarily using weapons instead of spells; the other was a genocide run on LoB mode).


    We could have a list of Honorable Mentions for runs that didn't qualify for the Hall of Heroes but were notable for other reasons. That would give a nod to smaller runs that were still interesting despite being incomplete. Otherwise, I'd say the Hall should probably be reserved for saga runs, which have traditionally been more challenging and more epic in scope.


    What do you guys think?

    • Like 1
  7. 1) Alikae does not qualify for the Hall of Heroes at this time. First, her run hasn't yet been documented in this thread: only runs fully documented here qualify. Second, the Hall of Heroes is reserved for PoE Saga No Reloaders, meaning POE 1 & POE 2. Alikae has only completed POE 1.

    That's too bad. I was hoping Gray Sidoh could get an entry if I make it past Thaos. I don't even own PoE 2. Is it very different from PoE in terms of gameplay? Is it a continuation of the same story and character, like BG1 and BG2, or would a saga run involve two character creation processes?

    • Like 1
  8. @Alesia_BH: Congratulations! Is this our first entry in the Hall of Heroes?


    Two questions about the Hall: is it going to be on the first page? If so, how will it be added if you're on hiatus? The Beamdog no-reload thread's OP belongs to Ygramul, but when he went on hiatus, I used moderator editing privileges to add entries since he wasn't available.

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

    Back to Od Nua! I think we're in pretty good shape to deal with the local elemental Blights. Everything here appears to explode on death, but our paladins have strong defenses that they can more or less shrug off multiple blasts while taking minimal damage.


    This still means we need to be careful, however--our ciphers are not nearly as sturdy, and killing a Blight too close to our back line could pose a real threat to the party's functioning. The good news is that we get lots of new ingredients from the Blights, and use them to upgrade some weapons.

    I died in my last run to a swarm of Blights in this very area, but since we do so well against the first batch of critters, I decide that we're ready to handle the big fight that killed me last time.

    Then I see a new enemy I don't recognize, an Adragan, and I realize that I might have made a mistake.


    In seconds, I realize that I've definitely made a mistake. The Adragans can cast summoning and domination spells. Right off the bat, Gray Sidoh is under enemy control in spite of her 97 Will.


    We've also got some Animats on the field, and I discover that they have 20 damage reduction against piercing and slashing weapons, which means both Mind Blades and Amplified Thrust, two of our best attack spells, are all but useless against them. Worse yet, the Blights have similar resistances. We're going to have trouble bringing any of these guys down.

    Then a Greater Earth Blight teleports right on top of our ciphers, endangering our primary damage dealers mere seconds into combat.


    Vivenne takes 37 damage right off the bat, and we receive yet another ominous sign: the Adragans can use Petrify!


    I've never encountered this effect, but I've heard in this thread that it's absolutely deadly. Lothra prepares to use Liberating Exhortation, but even then, Gray Sidoh is in danger: she takes more than 50 damage from a Greater Flame Blight, and our other paladin, Zovai, gets stunned by a Returning Storm (!) from a Greater Wind Blight, meaning she can't use Lay on Hands to bail out Gray Sidoh. Worse yet, our ciphers are struggling to stay afloat; Vivenne is already forced to use an Infuse Vital Essence potion.

    Then I see the worst sign yet. Right after Lothra uses Liberating Exhortation on Gray Sidoh, Gray Sidoh gets Petrified again. This is when I finally realize that Liberating Exhortation only cures active status effects; it doesn't prevent new ones from being re-applied.


    When I check the dialog box, I discover that that Petrify spell has an Accuracy of 85, meaning it has about a 50% chance of working with every casting. This isn't something we can just shrug off.

    Our paladins are struggling to stay afloat. Our ciphers are making little progress. And I see no indication that the tide is going to change.

    My heart sinks. I'm not sure I'm going to win this one.

    I consider just setting the party on a basic path and hoping we get lucky, but I decide to pause for a moment and study the situation. Since Mind Blades and Amplified Thrust are mostly useless, our ciphers have been steadily building up Focus--that's the only thing that's been trending in our favor since the fight began; I haven't wasted Focus on any low-impact spells.

    We've got several Blights right on top of the party, but our ciphers can't disengage without putting themselves in danger. To the east, we've got more Blights and the two Adragans, who are in full condition and, due to being spellcasters, presumably have high Will defenses, which means burning our Focus on Puppet Master might waste our only decent resource if we get bad luck. If we fail to dominate anything due to a couple bad rolls, we are more or less out of luck.

    But our paladins can disengage with relative safety. And there's one important spell that I haven't yet fully exploited.

    Ectopsychic Echo.

    The thing about Ectopsychic Echo is that it targets a friendly actor and deals damage over time to everything in between caster and target--a straight line damage over time spell. Thus, it's very similar to the Agannazar's Scorcher spell from Baldur's Gate.

    I made dramatic use of Agannazar's Scorcher in my BG--I actually invented a trick called the "scorcher loop," which multiplies damage from the spell. On many occasions, I have carefully used beam-type spells to deal heavy damage to large groups by dragging the beam across the map. And while Ectopsychic Echo has no "loop" trick to be exploited that I know of, the base damage is nevertheless quite high.

    And the damage type is crushing. Everything in this area is vulnerable to crushing damage.

    Our sturdiest character is Gray Sidoh, so I have Vivenne use Ectopsychic Echo on Gray Sidoh, who has just recovered from Petrify with a re-cast Liberating Exhortation, hoping to have Gray Sidoh scurry out to the east, dodging disengagement attacks, and then drag the beam over the Adragans to deal unblockable damage to them and the Blights. The first hit smashes the Greater Earth Blight that's been threatening our ciphers. Our other ciphers attack the same Blight with wands, hoping to kill it early and escape the pressure.


    Immediately, we suffer a setback. Gray Sidoh gets dominated. We can no longer use her to drag the beam over the enemies. But the beam destroys the Greater Earth Blight, which means we can have Vivenne run to the east instead. She'll be much more vulnerable in the process than Gray Sidoh would be, but the beam only lasts for 10 seconds, and we can't afford to wait for Gray Sidoh to recover from domination; we need to make use of the beam now, before it runs out.


    Rius is at 34 Focus, but has been forced to use a Scroll of Defense in lieu of Ectopsychic Echo to shore up our defenses. But once she can act again, I have her use Ectopsychic Echo on Vivenne instead of Gray Sidoh. Now, Vivenne is carrying two separate beams at once. And the damage from the twin beams is spectacular.


    The party is still under heavy pressure, but we're finally making progress. Unfortunately, by hurrying to the east, Vivenne provokes both Adragans at once, who switch targets and run after her.

    But this also puts both of them right in the middle of both beams. They can chase her and probably kill her very easily, but since they don't have the AI to edge out of the beams, they get caught by both.


    Still, Vivenne can only get so far as a fragile cipher, and bad luck strikes. A Returning Storm spell stuns her, allowing the Adragans to close the distance.


    But the beams continue even while Vivenne is stunned. One Adragan succumbs to the beam after just a few seconds of exposure, and the other is close to death!


    The beams still have a few seconds left. It's enough to slay the second Adragan.


    After two spells and a few feet of movement, the tide of battle has shifted decidedly in our favor. Even so, I burn another Scroll of Defense for safety's sake, and we build up a little more Focus while applying some healing effects to shield us from any nasty surprises.


    Finally, we re-activate Ectopsychic Echo, and obliterate the last enemy with three simultaneous beams. It's a beautiful sight, and very welcome after such an incredibly close battle.


    I leave the area immediately after the fight is over. We came out ahead, but it cost us lots of potions and scrolls, and I don't know if the other fights on this map are any harder than this one. If they are, I don't think we could handle them.

    We need to restore our resources, so we burn nearly 4,000 coppers on ingredients and scrolls over at Defiance Bay. We craft some replacements for the potions and scrolls we lost, tack on a few more enchantments to our gear, and we are mostly back up to speed, though our supplies are still somewhat depleted.

    I thought the run was going to end there. We were so overwhelmed at the start that it wasn't clear if we could make it out. But Ectopsychic Echo and some careful maneuvering killed the Adragans far more easily than I had thought possible. I knew Ectopsychic Echo would be strong, but I hadn't bothered using it until just now; I had been relying on Mind Blades and Amplified Thrust to do all the work.

    I decide to turn my attention to simpler fights. We've proven that we can handle big threats, but those Adragans and Blight cost us some precious and finite resources, and I don't want to find myself low on key expendables right before a major fight. It's time to ease up on the danger and build up our strength before tackling any scary encounters.

    • Like 5
  10. Gray Sidoh: No Per-Rest Abilities Run (three paladins, three ciphers)


    We've been doing okay so far, but I'm concerned about the druids in Stormwall Gorge. Their area-effect spells could apply some very heavy pressure on our ciphers and leave our paladins without support. They crushed me in my last attempt at a Normal mode no-reload run (the blind, reloading run on Easy died multiple times; the first Normal mode no-reload run died to a bear; and the second Normal mode no-reload run died to the druids), and our party isn't well equipped to deal with area-effect damage.


    The solution? I walk around them. There's a safe path across Stormwall Gorge that lets you avoid the druids entirely.




    I am a tactical mastermind! And also an inveterate coward.


    We buy some new gear, including a pair of boots that extend the range of our paladin auras (I put it on the paladin with the Accuracy aura, since I want the ciphers to benefit from the bonuses more often). We finally run into a couple of beetles, giving us the ingredients for an Infuse Vital Essence potion. We've been very generous with potion usage, so we need to replenish our supply. Finally, we put some extra damage enchantments on our gear--in my previous runs, I did very little enchanting, but now I know to tweak our gear to optimize our stats.


    For the first time, we delve into the Skaen temple, which I previously couldn't access due to having low Might in my party. Most of the enemies aren't heavy hitters in terms of damage, but I notice a disturbing problem: the enemy can use disablers, and while our three paladins can use Liberating Exhortation to fix them, it's a disruption in the party's functioning.




    Notice the traps that I could not disarm. Our first cipher doesn't have the Mechanics to disarm them, so I just walk around them.


    Whenever we engage the Skaen cultists, we target the spellcasters first with Mind Blades, since the initial hits do more damage than the area-effect hits. It lets us bring down the key opponents relatively quickly.




    Then I see this room, and the party comes to a halt.




    That looks like a sacrificial altar, and if it's anything like the one with the Xaurips and their Drake, entering that room could lead us right into a major fight that we aren't prepared for. I decide to play it safe and back away from the room.


    Most of the enemies don't give us much trouble, but the numbers in the dialog box demonstrate that the enemy can hit pretty hard if it gets lucky. Most of the time, our paladins can shrug off the attacks, but bad luck can really amplify the threat, as one of the enemy priests demonstrates.




    The enemy starts hitting harder and reaching longer, poking at our ciphers. It seems the cultists have some area-effect options, and either the area of effect is very wide, or the enemy is smart enough to target our ciphers.




    It's not fatal to the ciphers, but even suffering moderate damage forces our ciphers to resort to healing options if our paladins can't reach them immediately, and having our ciphers spend a few seconds healing themselves means that we're making less progress against the enemy.


    Once we clear out most of the first level, only the sacrificial altar room is left. I don't know this area at all, and the local cultists have managed to land some heavy blows on our party. If a boss fight lies beyond that room, the difficulty might be high enough to put us in danger. Rather than dive into unknown territory, we leave the area. Safety first!


    I make peace with Korgrak and deal with the spiders using Puppet Master. As Baron Pampa pointed out (before I had a chance to post on my progress!), enemy Will defenses are generally much weaker than their other defenses, which means it's not that hard to turn the spiders against their queen.




    For the first time ever, I take advantage of a resting bonus from an inn: the Wurm's Nest room at the Dracogen Inn, giving us +6 to our damage reduction against fire damage. It's time to take on the Drake and the Xaurips back at Caed Nua!


    We're a little overleveled for this fight, but I think that's pretty reasonable considering how much tougher the Drake fight is than the other fights in the area. I discover that the Xaurip Skirmishers are more than just petty meat shields, however: they also can paralyze on hit!




    Notice the Scroll of Defense and the various other buffs listed on Gray Sidoh. We might be high-level for this fight, but there's no reason not to burn some limited resources when it comes to a high-pressure boss fight I've only beaten once before.


    Paralysis attacks or no, the Xaurips are highly vulnerable to Mind Blades, and it doesn't help that their own ally, the Drake, uses a Knockdown effect that's party-unfriendly and can easily knock them prone. In the end, the Xaurips crumple under minimal resistance, and our ciphers lock down the Drake with paralysis spells of their own.





    The Drake falls, and one of its talons becomes our first ever Scrolls of Revival. All of our characters are investing in Lore, so I plan on giving high-end scrolls to everyone in the party. We also get Ilfan Bryngar's Solace, the incredibly tank-friendly shield that made Eder more or less invincible against big enemies with knockdown attacks in my previous run. With +50 to all defenses when the wearer is stunned or prone, it's basically designed to fight dragons.


    I continue to learn how to manage enemy pressure and position my ciphers. I pay much closer attention to enemy approach patterns, since I only get a second or two to recognize when an enemy is targeting my ciphers. When some skeletons decide to slip past our three paladins, I pull back my ciphers to buy enough time to fire an Amplified Thrust, which is enough to break engagement with its knockback alone (and also deals enough damage to score early kills on certain critters).




    I love seeing that bright blue glow. I associate it with monsters dying.

    • Like 4
  11. In my BG runs, I noticed that I became increasingly more strict about my personal rules over time, and I began to employ fewer exploits in general. This wasn't because I had any opposition to exploits or anything like that; I just found them less fun as time went on, and I transitioned to other things. Only when I did exceptionally difficult runs, like a solo LoB run or a poverty run, did I use exploits.


    I remember in the LoB challenge for BG, Grond0's example inspired me to play without LoB XP bonuses. Two days later, I invented a way to hit the BG1 XP cap in 10 minutes (it involves using Stone to Flesh scrolls to repeatedly re-petrify Greater Basilisks using a charmed Lesser Basilisk). It's an obvious exploit and ridiculously overpowered, but I'm actually rather proud I discovered it. It's become standard fare for the solo no-reload LoB challenge, if only because that challenge more or less requires certain exploits in order to be beaten. I don't use it anymore, though.


    In general, humans like challenges, and when things get too simple, they find ways to make them more complex. I think this is because it ensures that people keep learning about things. Primates actually get a slight dopamine hit from solving puzzles; evolution has rigged us to enjoy figuring stuff out. One of the reasons I've been enjoying PoE is because I keep finding out new things about the game, both in terms of technical details (Liberating Exhortation doesn't prevent an effect from being re-applied; it just suppresses effects) and meta-level concepts (disengagement is a poor rescue option, but a solid way to establish an advantage in positioning).


    None of my current strategies seem very exploitative to me, which I think is just lack of knowledge on my part (either I don't know the exploits, or I know them but don't realize how strong they are if properly used). Considering how my other runs have played out, I'll probably discover some ridiculous trick, do some bizarre run using it, and then get bored and try something else.

    • Like 1
  12. @Baron Pampa: Real life priorities always come first. When you have time, we'd love to have you join the challenge. As for your list:


    1. I have never found a figurine because I don't know anything about Pillars of Eternity. And now that Alesia_BH has described an adra beetle figurine as overpowered, I'm probably not going to be comfortable using it.

    2. Charms are very strong, as I've just recently begun to learn. I don't think they're game-breaking, though, or "cheesy" or unfair or exploit-y or anything like that. They're just effective spells that work as they're intended to. Charm effects are supposed to turn dim-witted ogres against their friends; that's true in most any fantasy game.

    3. While I've forbidden per-rest abilities (Vancian-style spells) in my current run, I don't consider them overpowered per se. Those spells are very strong, but they're balanced by the limitations imposed by resting: you only get a handful of those spells for an entire rest period, while ciphers and chanters and fighters can be almost as strong for much, much longer, and with much less micromanagement. Vancian spells are limited, and that's what keeps them balanced.

    4. I don't think we can quantify this. How many levels is too many for which parts of the game? Fighting Raedric at level 8 is certainly easy, but it's not necessarily optimal, because doing a low-end quest so late in the game yields much less significant rewards than if you had fought it at level 5. Doing quests late makes them easier, but the rewards are also less meaningful when your party is already strong.


    You might be able to smash the game with summons and charms, but that doesn't mean summons and charms are overpowered. That just means you're using them effectively. After all, I'm using nothing but paladins and ciphers, and Jaheiras Witness has been soloing the game with a chanter with great success. Does that mean that wizards, druids, priests, paladins, ciphers, and chanters are all overpowered? I wouldn't think so. They just have some important strengths.


    If summons and charms seem too easy for you, of course, then it's probably a good idea to switch gears. But I think this is less of an example of a strategy being overpowered, and more of an example of you using effective tactics to successfully meet a challenge.


    I think we should definitely encourage people to try out new tactics. But we don't want to give the impression that some tactics make the game "too easy" or anything like that. After all, some people might really enjoy those tactics, and we want them to feel welcome posting about no-reload runs that use those tactics. If somebody told me that paladins and ciphers were overpowered, my run would feel like less of an accomplishment if I were to succeed.

    • Like 3
  13. @Jaheiras Witness: Do you think it's feasible to solo a mage no-reload by relying on those items? I like the idea of a solo run, but I'm not really interested in a conventionally tanky character like a chanter. I've been enjoying offensive-oriented strategies in PoE because fights end so quickly and so dramatically. I was hoping that higher-level mage spells would make it possible to steamroll certain encounters.


    I'm surprised to see Dexterity used as a dump stat, but now that you describe your strategy, it makes sense. I thought of action speed as very valuable in the sense that it can provide quick rescue options and responses to bad situations, but a properly constructed turtle would be able to weather most storms, and not need to be able to take action at a moment's notice.


    On closer consideration, kiting seems a little more viable than I had thought. The right character build could actually get some really crazy bonuses to defense while disengaging from attackers. These are the bonuses to disengagement you can access early in the game:


    Graceful Retreat +12

    Fleet Feet +20 (and +3 movement rate)

    Fast Runner +5 (and +1 movement rate)

    Cape of Withdrawal +15


    Put together, that's a +52 bonus to defense when disengaging, as well as +4 to movement rate. It has some steep costs, though: two Talents, a cape, and a level 1 mage spell that only lasts 30 seconds. Still, that seems pretty wicked. A sufficiently high movement rate might well allow a wizard to escape enemy pressure through careful movement.


    Combine a high Deflection with Wizard's Double and it should be possible for a mage to avoid damage for many seconds, enough time to use spells to turn the tide. Does this seem realistic?

    • Like 1
  14. I've changed my mind about disengagement in PoE. I noticed it dealing early kills to my party in my first run, but that wasn't because disengagement was inherently dangerous--it was because I only tried to disengage when I was already in bad condition. Disengaging early, like we did in the Sanitarium, is an important preventative step, even if it's not a good cure. Disengagement is worth doing early on to secure an advantage in positioning. It's a long-term investment in pressure management rather than a rescue option.


    Also, part of it depends on the speed of the enemy's attacks. An enemy that attacks quickly but does less damage gains rather little from disengagement; it only gets one extra attack out of many. But for slower, heavier hitters like an ogre, that disengagement attack is a huge benefit because it comes out instantaneously, completely ignoring normal attack rates.

    • Like 3
  15. Since disengagement is so dicey and simultaneously so important for our ciphers to be able to do, I buy a big-ticket item for the first time and put the Cape of Withdrawal on one of our ciphers. Gray Sidoh hits level 4 and takes Weapon Focus: Peasant to improve the endurance-healing hatchet, Hearth Harvest, and we proceed to Caed Nua. Even against groups of Wurms and Xaurips, our three tanks can hold the fort pretty well, and our three ciphers can deal massive area-effect damage with Mind Blades.


    Still, a nasty encounter with a Pwgra reminds us of the vulnerability of our ciphers. The Pwgra falls quickly, but its area-effect damage-over-time spell takes down all three of our ciphers right after it dies!


    But when our ciphers fall, our paladins survive, and we manage to win all sorts of fights much faster than I ever have before. The Biting Whip Talent makes ciphers scale so much better with Might, Dexterity, and Perception. They hit level 4 when we reach Defiance Bay, opting for Draining Whip as their next Talent to provide more fuel for their damage spells, and we use the wood from the forest critters and a spare Peridot to craft up some Scrolls of Defense, though only Gray Sidoh currently has the Lore to use them.

    Viora, our third cipher, gets knocked out early in the Sanitarium fight due to a forced flanking, but then real life intervenes and I have to quit the game before finishing the fight. Fortunately, since you always start the fight in the same position and pre-buffing in PoE is limited to snacks (which I didn't bother doing in this case), we can restart the fight under the exact same conditions, granting me no metaknowledge advantages besides what I learned in my Easy mode run. In fact, Viora dies the exact same way the second time around! The only difference is that she dies to 26 damage from a Crazed Patient instead of 23 damage from a Crazed Patient.


    I need to get our fragile ciphers out of the way, but we have little room to maneuver and we've got multiple encroaching from several different directions. By carefully choosing our positioning and disengaging before we get hit instead of after, our ciphers take only a bit of damage before reaching safety. Gram still gives us grief, however (Baldur's Gate pun!), as he keeps chasing one of our ciphers and is only at Badly Injured.


    In the end, sheer, overwhelming offensive power clears the map pretty quickly. After Gray Sidoh hits level 5 and gets Liberating Exhortation, we head to Heritage Hill. Spellcasters are dangerous for our party considering how important our fragile archers are for our damage output, but wizards, unlike druids, are fairly easy to kill before they can cause much trouble.


    Bad positioning still gets two of our ciphers knocked out, but not before they wreck the enemy with Mind Blades.

    Soon, our other two paladins hit level 5 and also choose Liberating Exhortation, while our first cipher, Rius, gains a level and learns Soul Ignition and Ectopsychic Echo for some stronger damage spells for big targets. We also bump up their Lore to 4 so they can all use Scrolls of Defense. Without per-rest spells, we need everyone to be able to use scrolls.

    In my previous run, I waited until much later to deal with Raedric, but I think we're in good condition to deal with basic melee grunts in a controlled, low-magic setting like Raedric's hold. I'm worried about Osrya pulling some tricks on us with her spells, and make sure everyone is well-fed before the fight, but again we find that enemy mages just can't stand up to heavy pressure from ranged attackers.


    Notice that two of my paladins aren't doing anything. That's because they're mostly there to soak up damage and provide rescue options like Lay on Hands and Liberating Exhortation, and they don't have the high Dexterity or the light armoring needed to take action at a moment's notice. This means that in volatile encounters, it's more important for our paladins to be able to cast a spell right away than it is for them to actually deal any damage. There's a big difference between being able to cast a crucial spell in 1 seconds instead of 3 seconds.

    Also, if I just have them wait in a wall formation, I can have them immediately rush to engage any enemies who might approach our archers.

    Viora and Vivenne join the rest of the party at level 5 and learn Soul Ignition and Puppet Master. Their low Intellect means that the domination effect of the latter won't last nearly as long, but their high Accuracy will mean it's very reliable, which means any low-Will enemies can be turned against their buddies if I ever need to decrease pressure on a given party member.

    After all, this party has extremely high damage output. Fights don't last as long with this party, so we don't need longer durations for our spells.

    Despite crushing Raedric's guards with relative ease, I'm still concerned about Raedric himself, and therefore chow down on a lot of food and make sure everyone has Scrolls of Defense on hand (now that we're at level 5, everyone in the party has at least 4 Lore and can use most of our scrolls). All three paladins are decked with full plate and our Endurance and Constitution food buffs will keep us a little safer from surprises. All three ciphers have switched from clothing to Fine Robes, since they grant 7 Damage Reduction in exchange for only a 15% Recovery delay--a bargain, considering the normal 1 DR to 5% Recovery penalty trade-off.

    I choose a very specific formation before I speak with Raedric: I position two paladins at the nearest guards, align the ciphers a few steps behind them, and send out Gray Sidoh, our sturdiest tank, to draw attention from the rest of the enemies. Notice the clear geometric shape of our party members, matching the enemy's. Also notice Gray Sidoh opening with a Scroll of Defense--having sturdy defenses and no other important roles means that Gray Sidoh is ideally suited for using scrolls.


    My fears of the Archmage prove unfounded. Moments after Mind Blades take down the enemy priest, another volley blasts the enemy mage to chunks.


    I've checked the record screen and the largest number of kills, the highest experience value of kills, and the highest damage all comes from our three ciphers. Mind Blades just does so much damage to herds of enemies. Raedric's heavy armor and strong stats aren't remotely enough to keep him safe.



    Back to Caed Nua! I think we're doing pretty well, and there's a war bow I want to track down again for our ciphers. I was pretty sure the ogres were just sluggish melee grunts I could strike from range, but then I find a druid hanging out with Zolla--apparently a new enemy in Normal mode. Keenly remembering how our three ciphers all died to a druid spell not long ago, I retreat from the Tanglefoot spell and lure the enemy into a choke point. We're doing lots of damage, but the ogres have sky-high Endurance. We're not making fast progress like we normally do.




    Worse yet, the ogres have a pretty reliable knockdown ability, and apparently can hit multiple targets at once with their huge clubs. Even with a Scroll of Defense to improve our stats, Zovai gets knocked off her feet. Notice the curious bug in the last line of the dialog box.




    Lothra takes heavy damage in spite of her Potion of Iron Skin and also loses her balance. Zovai, back on her feet thanks to Liberating Exhortation, bails out Lothra with Lay on Hands, but the ogres are still in good condition. Zovai gets hurt, too, but stays afloat, I think in large part to her Moon Godlike healing abilities.


    Finally, our ciphers generate enough Focus for another volley of Mind Blades, and the tide of combat shifts in our favor.




    A little more chipping away, and Zolla falls.


    We skulk around with Rius, our first cipher, disarming traps with her high Mechanics skill, and run into some oozes. We see a weird graphical bug when one of the oozes dies: its sprite expands while the game is paused, until the whole screen is covered with black and grey polygons of some sort.




    To my surprise, another druid shows up on the map, and this one is much more aggressive than the previous one. After I disregard its Tanglefoot spell, it lashes out at us with Talon's Reach, dealing huge damage to almost everyone in the party. Just a few seconds into combat, and we're already losing.




    Time to go. I'm not going to risk getting hit by another spell and seeing Gray Sidoh and one or two ciphers going down. I don't think we could win this fight if more than one or two party members fell this early on. We scurry away, taking advantage of the ogres' inferior movement rates, and heal up in the north end of the map. One solitary ogre hunts us down, but we're in solid condition by the time it reaches us. We blast it to pieces on the bridge.




    Then the fight ends. I thought the enemy was still chasing us, but apparently only that one ogre bothered to follow us. I consider re-engaging the ogres without resting, but with three characters' Endurance bars in the yellow, I decide to go ahead and rest up before going back to the druid.


    This time, I know better than to rely on damage spells alone. Ogres have too much Endurance for us to bring down quickly; it gives them too much time to land a hit, and since their damage is concentrated in large blows rather than spread out over faster, weaker blows, it means that bad luck can make things much worse than in a normal fight (plus, bigger hits make damage reduction less meaningful).


    Instead, I take advantage of the ogres' poor Will defenses and nail one of them with Puppet Master. Despite our ciphers' poor Intellect, their high Accuracy lands us a critical hit, which means 50% extra duration. One of the ogres is ours for 18 seconds!




    The dominated ogre does huge damage to its friend, and soaks up a lot of damage that would otherwise befall our party. Soon, both ogres collapse, and the druid isn't strong enough to stand up on its own when our ciphers are flinging out Amplified Thrusts.




    I head downstairs, ready to take on the next challenge, but then I reconsider. Our party has been doing very well, but those ogres did pose a credible threat, even if we did crush them in the end. Past experience with Od Nua has shown me that the levels exhibit some distinct spikes in difficulty, and while we were able to come out ahead against the ogres, the ogres were much tougher than the enemies we had been fighting right before them.


    I decide to back off and leave the area. Being cautious in general is a good idea in a no-reload run, but it's also incredibly important to see several steps in advance, and catch things early before they get out of hand. The time to play it safe is when the party starts to stumble; not when it starts to fall.

    • Like 4
  16. Gray Sidoh

    Hearth Orlan

    Kind Wayfarer Paladin

    Aedyr Aristocrat


    Might: 14

    Constitution: 10

    Dexterity: 10

    Perception: 15

    Intellect: 10

    Resolve: 19



    Difficulty: Normal

    Settings: Maim on Zero Health; No Injuries on Zero Endurance

    Mods: None

    Special: No Per-Rest Abilities


    After a couple runs on Normal ended at the early game cave bear and some druids (which surprised me, since we had taken down so many drakes shortly before) and their area-effect spells, I've decided to try a new run with a twist: no reloads and no per-rest abilities. The only spells we can use are per-encounter abilities like Second Wind and abilities that rely on charges like a cipher's Powers or a chanter's Invocations; normal spellcasters like wizards, druids, and priests are pretty much useless.


    Our Watcher this time is Gray Sidoh, a tanky Orlan paladin. She used to be a wizard in my past PoE runs (I identify with tiny scholars, so I play a lot of gnomes), and I normally prefer mage types, but a paladin at the helm is a key part of our strategy in this run.




    How are we going to survive major fights and sticky situations without the stronger per-rest abilities? The answer lies in ciphers. I've found that a high-Might, high-Perception, high-Dexterity cipher with low Intellect and no armor can make a spectacular damage dealer thanks to their Biting Whip talent for an extra 20% damage output that normal fighters cannot achieve. I'm going to create three custom ciphers in this run to serve as archers. They'll deal lots of damage very fast from a safe distance.


    Problem is, unarmored ciphers with low Intellect have terrible, terrible defenses, especially Will. A couple bad hits could wreck them. The solution? Three custom paladins at the front to use Liberating Exhortation to use two key per-encounter abilities: Lay on Hands and Liberating Exhortation, which will keep our ciphers safe from damage and disablers.


    The early game isn't too complicated. Once Gray Sidoh loses her only two friends at the start of the game, I slip past all fights until I get to Gilded Vale, where selling off our extra gear is enough to buy us three new characters: Lothra, the human paladin, Zovai, the moon godlike paladin, and Rius, the wood elf cipher.






    The paladins are most important at the start of the game; I need the tanks before I can secure the safety of the archers. I can't afford the next two characters, so we do some light questing. The ciphers have spectacular damage output and can wipe out most basic critters in seconds with little chance of a miss. It isn't long before we hit level 2, granting Biting Whip to our cipher and Weapon and Shield Style to our paladins.


    A few hundred more gold, and we can afford our last two party members, a pair of Amaua twins, Vivenne and Viora, both ciphers. Being twins lets me justify giving them identical stats.





    Since Gray Sidoh has hit level 3, the new ciphers start at 2 and therefore have Biting Whip. With three high-powered archers using hunting bows, we can obliterate key enemies like Ludrana early on.




    The damage output is actually kind of absurd. Dealing more damage also buys us more Focus, and using Soul Shock on one of our tanks can deal hard-to-resist shock damage to multiple foes at once! We zap the Guls at the beach.




    Our tanks aren't quite invincible, as a Forest Lurker shows us when it easily smacks Gray Sidoh to the ground, but they're sturdy enough to buy lots of time for our archers to clean up most battles. Unfortunately, when we get flanked, the archers are easy pickings for moderately tough early game enemies like Phantoms. Viora dies in two hits when one of them surprises us in the Gilded Vale crypts.




    Otherwise, we can stomp on almost anything. There's nothing quite like having a trio of ciphers flinging out Amplified Thrust spells to knock back big critters like Forest Trolls. The damage is incredible, and it doesn't even require resting.




    The game has been proceeding very fast, which I find rewarding.

    • Like 5
  17. Yeah. Baldur's Gate might be much harder to beat no-reload than Pillars of Eternity, but that's because BG is hideously unforgiving; not because PoE is easy.


    The funny thing is that the main reason I've taken an interest in PoE is because BG became too easy after so many years playing it. It's nice to go back to being inexperienced and having new things to learn about the game.

    • Like 3
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