Wind Path Cantor
Helwalker/Skald Cantor build
Great crowd control and nuking power with good weapon damage on top. Sprint around the battlefield at high speed, incapacitating and dismantling enemies in groups or one by one.
Room for exciting variants to suit personal taste/playstyle.
Not intended for solo.
I LOVE the Cantor multiclass. Firstly because it has such an incredible flavour: real monks do chant as part of religious rituals, so the Monk fantasy and Chanter fantasy blend together seamlessly. When it comes to gameplay mechanics, the Monk’s uniquely achievable INT bonus beefs up everything a Chanter does, and both classes enjoy renewable resources. These basics make the multiclass ripe for fun, interesting builds.
The build I’m talking about in this post is extremely fun and very effective at every stage of the game. You’ll have something to look forward to, whether ability or gear, constantly until very late – but you’ll never feel like you’re waiting for the build to be good.
The principle here is you have access to 3 types of hard crowd control (CC) targeting different defences, 2+ types of soft crowd control, and spicy nukes, all off of renewable resources. Add powerful weapon attacks to the mix and you have a flexible gameplay loop with a character who almost always has a high-impact action to take. I chose to call it “Wind Path” because it sprints around the field like the wind and is very versatile.
The 3 types hard CC I have in mind are:
Paralysis: At the Sound of His Voice, the Killers Froze Stiff
Stun: Stunning Surge/Raised Torment
Charm: The Lover Cried out to the Beloved, "I am Yours!"
The soft CC takes the form of summons and Force of Anguish.
Your nukes are Her Revenge Swept Across the Land and Seven Nights She Waited While the White Winds Wept.
Every Wound a Helwalker has can buff the area of effect of all of your invocation cones, the duration of your hostile effects, and the power of all your damage. It’s hard to overstate how big of an impact this makes.
Here’s a gameplay snippet so you can get a sense of how this guy plays (sped up to respect your time; use 0.5 playback speed to approximate gameplay). It's not supposed to be a tough fight or anything - just something to give you a sense of what this guy does. It's just the Cantor, plus Eder drawing some aggro (since the build is meant to play around a tank).
Hopefully that looked as enjoyable as it is to play. Let’s dig into the commentary. What I’m going to do is list all the abilities I personally am using at level 20, grouped by power level, and comment on the choices. I’ll also list alternative choices – this is a rich multiclass with lots of tools to try! Note that this is not a levelling guide – levelling Skalds is always weird because you should periodically take a non-offensive invocation here and there to get more max phrases and then respec later to reallocate the points.
The stats I used (Berath’s Blessings included):
DEX: 15 (incl. Elf)
PER: 20 (incl. Elf+White that Wends)
I used Pale Elf, White that Wends, and Mystic backgrounds mostly for fun. Skills aren’t too important either – I used Arcana and roleplay stuff. If you really want to devote everything to combat you can max Survival for Ruata’s Walking Cloak but that won’t make too much difference.
Power Level One
Thrice was She Wronged, and Thrice Justly Avenged
Come, Come, Soft Winds of Death
Blessed was Wengridh, Quickest of His Tribe
Force of Anguish
I don’t tend to use Blessed was Wengridh much at max level, but its nice to have as optional bonus Stride. Stride is a key stat for this character. It helps you swiftly position yourself so that your invocation cones can have maximum effect, and it keeps you alive through outrunning melee enemies and getting out of dangerous area effects. Anywhere you can squeeze more in is nice. Force of Anguish is useful for times when an enemy manages to engage you. Often you will just Stun/Para/Charm them, but sometimes blowing them back is the best option. (I originally tried to build this character to have high disengagement for those situations, but found that the opportunity cost in gear and perks was high for too little return: on PotD difficulty, you need a LOT of disengagement defence to not get hit. Better to deal with engagement through CC.)
You can certainly replace one of the chants with any other Chanter talent. Hel-Hyraf is always nice and should last a decent time with this character even if it’s not upgraded. The Thunder Rolled is another CC you can use. I had it for a while but just never used it over other options. Certainly the right pick if you decide you don’t want Raised Torment later on, though.
Power Level Two
Two Weapon Fighting
At the Sound of His Voice, the Killers Froze Stiff
Dance of Death
Clarity of Agony
After “Thrice was She Wronged”, “At the Sound of His Voice” will be your most used invocation if you play this anything like me. They represent the twin pillars of damage and CC that this character stands on. Dance of Death and its upgrade should be used every fight as you don’t intend to be hit much. Clarity of Agony is so generally good it would take a lot of work to convince me that it shouldn’t be on absolutely every Monk build. I’ve already explained the use of Stride, so the Monk’s special passive bonus here is very attractive.
Not too much wiggle room here. Graceful Retreat will help if you go in for the disengagement shtick, but I don’t recommend that route. White Worms does sweet damage in a good area of effect, but it’s slower than Thrice, dependent on the existence and position of a dead body, and is useless against enemies immune to disease (I thought it was the force that did the damage, not the yuckiness…whatever); it’s not worth the point, in my opinion.
Power Level Three
Her Revenge Swept Across the Land
Her Revenge might be the most important talent you pick in the whole build. That upgrade is nuts. Swift Flurry will help make your weapon damage occasionally explosive. Stunning Blow is a key pick – it keeps you safe while you’re beating on someone and makes them easier to crit. It’s awesome upgrade makes it free if you do crit. Torment’s Reach and upgrade form the Monk side of your AoE CC/damage kit. You can use them to let your chants build up while using Wounds instead to put out some AoE punishment. That increases the character’s flexibility and is therefore very nice to have, though not as important as Stunning Blow/Surge.
I purposefully made the “official” version of this build vanilla-friendly, but if you’re into modding, the Deadfire Balance Polishing Mod buffs The Fox from the Farmer to give a -15 Reflex debuff. Very nice even if you’re not trying to disengage since it softens enemies up for Thrice was She Wronged, Seven Nights she Waited, and Raised Torment. Otherwise you may want to go for Reny Daret’s Ghost and upgrade for the long frighten and very valuable all defences debuff (which stacks with debuffs to specific defences), though I find it’s 3-phrase opportunity cost doesn’t stack up well with Killers Froze stiff+upgrade’s 2-phrase cost, especially since that also frightens enemies. Ancient Memory is OK if your party really likes passive healing, but even with 35 Might, its healing is only a trickle.
Power Level Four
The Long Night’s Drink Birthed the Revenge of the Morning
The Lover Cried Out to the Beloved, “I am Yours!”
…And their Fear Followed them to the Foothills
Duality of Mortal Presence
The Long Night’s Drink is my jam. Seriously powerful chant: Constitution afflictions reduce maximum health, increasing the impact of all damage you do, even after it wears off (as discussed here: https://forums.obsidian.net/topic/109118-how-good-is-enervating-blows-really/), plus you get a hefty Fortitude debuff, plus reduced healing and a touch less damage output from affected enemies. It just always helps. The Lover Cried Out can be a massive gamechanger in tough fights. In ordinary fights it’s usually not worth casting because you’re better off just bursting down enemies as enemies, but when you’re under pressure, the ability to turn a group of enemies into allies in an instant can turn a desperate situation into an easy win. Duality and Enduring Dance are no-brainers.
The lack of Thunderous Blows here may seem blasphemous, but we’re saving our Might Inspiration slot for Their Companion on the Chanter side. It’s possible you might want to pick this as well for its instant cast time and the fact that it uses Wounds rather than your more precious Phrases resource.
Power Level Five
Seven Nights She Waited While the White Winds Wept
Together they Slew Forth a River of Red
Seven Nights is there for when you need a burst of single-target damage. Get right next to an enemy and position the lines so that three hit them and a cast of this will easily do well over 300 damage. The other lines can also smack other enemies at the same time. For AoE damage, it won’t do as much as two casts of Her Revenge (I compare it to two casts because Her Revenge costs half the Phrases and is much quicker to cast). Together they Slew is a nice +30% buff to your Charmed minions’ auto-attacks (I couldn’t find this information anywhere on the internet so I checked the game data files and it’s a 1.3 modifier). That’s the damage equivalent of +10 Might. Especially helpful if you can get your minions to bully a single enemy, which is where the damage potential of this spell can be seen most clearly.
You can get The Long Pain here as a prerequisite for Instruments of Pain, which is an awesome tool for this build. Basically it means you don’t need as much Stride for safety (though it’s still needed for quickly positioning your cones) or worry about engagement as much, because you’ll be able to use al your melee abilities at a safe distance (and feel like a badass mystical warrior). I played with it for a while but ultimately decided that I prefer the points elsewhere. But there’s definitely nothing wrong with going for Instruments. If you use the Community Patch, you can also use the Dragon Thrashed chant which will passively do good AoE damage over time (DoT). I found that this wasn’t as helpful as The Long Night’s Drink since DoTs work best with other DoTs, while this character does burst damage. Constitution affliction work very well with burst damage. Because this guy casts so many invocations so quickly, he often never uses more than one chant anyway (bit more on that later).
Power Level Six
Their Champion Braved the Horde Alone
In addition to the extra Might and Penetration, Energized from Their Champion makes you interrupt on every crit you get. That means from weapons, spells and chants. Every offensive action you do now has a CC component – just amazing. Turning Wheel gives you more weapon damage and, in my game, it affects my spells too. I think this might be behaviour from the Community Patch which changed it to affect ranged weapons and perhaps (inadvertently?) caused it to affect ranged spells as well. Worth the pick either way.
Flagellant’s Path would certainly be nice. It fits the mobile nature of the character well and would be yet another escape tool. I just rarely find myself in a situation where I would actually want to use it, so I can’t justify it over another pick. Maybe you can. Biting Winds o’Eld Nary is a great spell and worth considering as an alternative to Seven Nights, especially if you want to go for an Instruments of Pain build that stays far away from enemies. Your single target burst damage potential will suffer, though, and Eld Nary is rarely as good against a group of enemies as two meaty Her Revenge casts.
Power Level Seven
Called to His Bidding, the Ancient Instruments of Death
The Dichotomous Soul
Here’s the thing: I take Called to His Bidding only so that I will have 7 max Phrases. This is necessary because the Deadfire Balance Polishing mod changes Their Champion to an Offensive invocation specifically to encourage its synergy with Skalds. That’s very nice, but it means my max Phrases at this point would only be 4, while a vanilla counterpart would have 6, based on the more expensive Their Companion. If I were playing this build vanilla, I would choose Her Tears Fell Like Rain instead, and consider using Thunderous Blows in addition to or even instead of Their Companion.
Dichotomous Soul is a great way to increase your domination of the battlefield. It’s what tipped the scales against the Instruments of Pain variant for me. I haven’t gotten to gear yet, but since you’re wearing robes, their attacks are very fast, giving them decent damage as they absorb enemy attention. And since you’re wearing Footsteps of the Best, they Hobble enemies around them as they run.
Already pretty much covered this talking about Instruments of Pain, which is a viable option. Her Tears is a sad thing to miss: it’s a good upgrade. I decided Dichotomous Souls is kinda always better since it also adds single target damage, which would be the main point of Her Tears.
Head – Helm of the White Void
So good for so many builds. With several important affliction abilities and extra effects on crits, +10 accuracy to all of them is just unbeatable.
Neck – Strand of Favour
Armour – Robes of the Weyc
The benefits are very obvious. I used Aloth’s Robes or Effigy’s Husk before getting them.
Rings – Kuaru’s Prize and Prosperity’s Fortune
Chameleon’s Touch is good as well and you should use it before you’re rich enough for PF. It’ll give +1 to both DEX and INT.
Feet – Footsteps of the Beast
You’re running around a lot. Why not Hobble everyone for free? Especially useful when you’re trying to get away. You can see some of the enemies in the gameplay clip start hobbling as they try to close in. Anti-synergistic with Instruments of Pain – another reason I didn’t take it in the end. Boots of Speed before you get this.
Cloak – Ruata’s Walking Cloak
Arms – Mortification Gauntlets
Belt – Upright Captain’s Belt
No need to take Combat Focus and prevents push and pull abilities from ruining your day. Huana Charm Belt otherwise.
Pet – Trixie
For Stride and a tiny bit of Hit-Crit with weapons. If you don’t love the speed quite as much as I do, Loki is good for extra AoE plus a little speed (definitely would recommend Loki when using Boots of Speed).
This is a pretty dynamic part of the character as well. I Run Sasha’s Singing Scimitar and Wand of the Weyc in one weapon set (for obvious reasons, I think), and bare fists in another. The fun thing is that after empowering, the generic +3 power level from the wand pushes you to the same power level as a single class character with prestige. And, since Monk fists scale with power level, that means that you temporarily have fists as strong as those of a single class Monk. Those are (special effects aside) the most powerful weapons in the game. Being able to get them this easily in every fight, as a multiclass, even if it’s only temporary, is a feat unique to Cantors. And the wand’s recovery skip compensates for the extra time you spend switching weapons. Pretty great. I also use Shark Soup so that my Fists are always at least at the power level 8 strength. In my game, this power level stacks with the active bonus from the wand (stacking rules for food are inconsistent/bugged/I don’t know in this game so this might be different for you).
The Weyc’s Wand is also an amazing weapon in its own right. That raw damage sigil it can summon on crit pulses for good damage every second (!). And you know what that means – it can crit, so it can interrupt every second (!). It’s worth flinging a few shots with this to get the sigil before you go into melee. Sometimes there’s no reason to switch at all.
Before getting the wand, I was using Magistrate’s Cudgel for extra accuracy. You could always just go with Sasha’s +Scordeos which, while not as powerful as the fists (comparable damage but slower speed), have nice effects – and there’s something just nice-looking about dual-wielded sabres.
Nothing complicated about chanting with this guy for me. I made a thread about weird chant mechanics here: [link] but the bottom line for this guy is that he casts a lot, and casting resets your chant progression, so you mostly only see one chant. (Though after you get Robes of the Weyc you can get to see the second one more often.) That chant is The Long Drink’s Night for me, because it’s awesome and gets extra accuracy from the White Void helmet. I put Come, Come, Soft Winds after because it’s free and is offensive, so it interrupts if it crits and does a bit of damage and healing.
The major weakness of this guy is his squishiness. He has plenty of options to avoid melee enemies, but if ranged enemies get a bead on him there’s little you can do except guzzle a potion of invisibility, use Withdraw, or Barring Death’s Door. Unfortunately you can’t run fast enough to dodge bullets and arrows in this game! But this won’t happen too often if you use your tools – most importantly getting aggro on your tank(s) at the beginning of a fight before unstealthing, as I did in that little clip.
Again, the Cantor class is awesome for the synergy in both its flavour and its mechanics. I think this was my most consistently fun playthrough to date. Fast-paced, dynamic, and powerful at every stage. I couldn’t not share it on the forums. Hopefully it inspires some other Cantor playthroughs – and I’m sure some of you will do it even better!