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There appears to be a dearth of discussion on suggestions for character development and inventory picks. I'll start one on Merisiel here. Other characters should get their own guides. Please feel free to add suggestions/comments for Merisiel to this thread. I'm not going to type out all the details here; I'll just link to this excellent document instead. General Notes Merisiel (Meri) is the rogue of the party. Because her primary power requires that she is alone at a location to use, you'll want her to be alone as much as possible. Because of this, she doesn't work so well with Lem or Valeros. I like to use Meri as a lone scout who can essentially look after herself without any help from others. She tends to be able to scout decks pretty effectively, and so can locate items for others to come and pick up. If she accidentally runs into something you want but she can't pick up, her Delay power is there to help. As she can really be self-sufficient, Meri is one of the better characters to have around, especially in smaller parties. Her main drawback is that she isn't very good at helping other characters do stuff, and she tends to be a bit stunted once a number of locations have been closed and she's forced to be social. Skills Str: d8 Dex: d12 (Acrobatics +2, Disable +2, Stealth +2) Con: d6 Int: d4 Wis: d6 (Perception +2) Cha: d6 Meri will be your trap monkey and will excel at closing locations that need acrobatics or stealth. On top of that, you'll want her to use a ranged weapon, so make sure to max out dex as you can. After that, pick whatever you feel like (but probably avoid Int). Powers Hand Size: Up to 6. Make sure to get her there as a matter of priority. Meri doesn't start with weapon proficiency, and a lot of people will give her that as her first power feat, just so she can use the fancy looking bows. However, I'll suggest that she doesn't actually need weapon proficiency, as she can use crossbows and slings without taking any penalties. The only thing she misses without weapon proficiency is the ability to discard a ranged weapon to help somebody else at a different location. However, given how few weapons she has, you should avoid doing this anyway. If you're trying to solo hard missions with Meri, then weapon proficiency will net you some more damage on average though, which may well be worth it. Her hide power is quite useful for evading summoned monsters that you don't actually want to fight. Particularly so for the Guard Tower, where you can avoid all of the thugs at the start of your turn. Beware that some barriers require you to actually defeat the summoned monsters to defeat the barrier though. This power makes Ilsoari quite a good ally for scouting, as you can hide if the demon turns up. Note that if you have a summoned monster that's an easy kill, you can use it to recharge a card in your hand to get some turnover going. Sneak attack is Meri's bread and butter. At the very least, recharge a single card on every combat check to get the extra dice. You will quite commonly discard a card for two dice, too, but make sure that you've got a way to heal Meri if you're going to do that too often. After maxing out hand size, put some bumps in here. Also note that in play, sneak attack is an important way for Meri to get turnover happening in her deck. Use it often! Roles Acrobat is the role of choice. The Delay power allows you to encounter a villain and leave them on top of that pile, essentially isolating them until you're ready to deal with them later. You can also delay a boon if you really want it but need a different skill for, allowing another character to come in and pick it up. Sabotage Barrier is kind of pointless for Meri; she stomps on pretty much every barrier anyway. Sabotage Location sounds nice, but unless you're playing a small party with Meri often, it doesn't come up much. Item Collector is kind of a waste. Are you that in love with items anyway? Inspired Dexterity is really very useful. Stock up on Dex blessings, and then recharge them instead of discarding them. Thief is a role I haven't actually played. It doesn't get a hand size bump, the one extra possible bump on sneak attack is marginal compared to Delay, Magic Expert doesn't work because Meri never recharges armors/weapons/items (except for items that are dex based anyway), and Black Marketer is wasted after you've already got the good stuff. (Thief also gets Inspired Dexterity.) Verdict: Take Acrobat, and choose Inspired Dexterity and Delay in whatever order you like, then max out your hand size again, and then keep on bumping sneak attack. Cards List Weapons: 2 (+2) Spells: 0 (+1) Armors: 1 (+1) Items: 6 (+3) Allies: 2 (+1) Blessings: 4 (+2) Your picks for extra cards here depend on your play style. Weapons: I like to bump this by one slot. Meri shouldn't lose a weapon once she's got it in her hand, but it can take a while to do that with only two weapons in the deck. Spells: Giving her a single spell is actually not that bad. Give her a cure spell, and sure it will be banished, but she'll get to pick another one at the end of the adventure. If you have an adventure that has a special requirement coming up, you can also select for it. Armors: One armor is enough. Meri shouldn't be taking hits; she should be hiding from bad combats, and slaying everything else. Multiple armors tend to clog up the hand for characters who have them, so I like to avoid getting more than one. Items: I like to bump this a few times. Items are nifty, but be wary of having your hand fill up with situational items. Allies: More explores! Blessings: Yes please. Especially once Inspired Dexterity kicks in. Suggested priorities on one more weapon, then blessings/allies, then items and maybe a spell. Inventory Weapons: You want ranged weapons. Crossbows and slings tend to not require weapon proficiency, and often do better than bows anyway. You don't want to discard a weapon if you can avoid it, because who knows when you'll get it again. Here are my choice of ranged weapons by level. Your first goal should be to get magic weapons, and then start being picky about which ones you have. I've included the dice that each weapon adds, for comparison (but not including the base dex). When a strength dice is added, I've included 1d8. B: Light Crossbow (1d8) B: Heavy Crossbow (1d10) B: Shortbow +1 (1d6+1) B: Sling (1d4, good for ancient skeletons at early levels) C: Deathbane Light Crossbow +1 (1d8+1, +1d8 against undead) L1: Dagger +1 (1d4+1, recharge for +1d4) L1: Flaming Shortbow +1 (1d6+1) L1: Frost Sling +1 (1d6+1) L2: Light Crossbow +1 (1d8+1) At the lower levels, the standout weapons are the Deathbane Light Crossbow +1, Light Crossbow +1, and Dagger +1. The Frost Sling +1 is good for those Ancient Skeletons. Other weapons on this list can stand in as you look for better stuff. L3: Venomous Dagger +2 (1d4+2, recharge for +1d12) L3: Venomous Shortbow +1 (1d6+1, discard for +1d12) L5: Acidic Sling +3 (1d6+3, discard for +3d4) At the higher levels, these are the weapons to keep an eye out for. The Venomous Shortbow +1 is included because it's strictly better than some on the lower-level list, but I'd prefer the dagger or sling in most situations. If you take weapon proficiency, then consider the following: B: Shock Longbow +1 (1d8+1, discard for +1d8) B: Returning Throwing Axe +1 (1d8+1, recharge for +1d6) L1: Longbow +1 (1d8+1) L3: Black Arrow Longbow (1d8+2, +1d8 against giants) L5: Venomous Heavy Crossbow +2 (1d10+2, discard for +1d12) With the exception of the Longbow +1 that simply replicates the effects of the Light Crossbow +1 for Meri, all of these are slightly better than their contemporaries on the previous list. I'm not sure that the slight advantages are worth the power feat though, and Harsk in particular will also want these bows. Armor: No heavy proficiency, and bows are mostly two handed, which precludes shields (although some light crossbows are one-handed, as are slings, so you can opt for a shield if you have lots of these!) B: Magic Shield B/L1: Elven Chain Shirt L1: Agile Chain L1: Djezet Skin L1: Shadow Chain L1: Shield of Fire Resistance (fire damage is pretty common, even if you succeed every check) L2: Blackcloth Armor L2 Loot: Snakeskin Tunic L3: Shield of Force Resistance (enchanters, boo!) L3: Steel Ibis Lamellar L4: Lesser Bolstering Armor L4: Reflecting Shield L5: Spellward Shield Items: Spyglass/Magic Spyglass/Wayfinder Thieve's Tools/Masterwork Thieve's tools (The MW version becomes much less useful around L5) Crowbar (Allows you to close all those locations that need a strength check, and helps with a bunch of obstacles too! Could also sub Portable Ram, but it's much harder to recharge) Crown of Charisma (auto-acquire allies, auto-close some locations, auto-defeat some bosses!) Staff of Minor Healing Samisen (basically the only thing Meri can do to help other characters other than blessings) Luckstone/Greater Luckstone Belt of Incredible Dexterity Pole (I always love me a 10-foot pole...) Ring of Protection Amulet of Fortitude (auto-close some locations, auto-defeat some bosses!) Allies: Father Zantus is good, as Meri needs healing to keep her big sneak attacks going, and she's often alone and so won't have healing from others. If you've got a cure spell in her deck, then you can probably forgo Zantus. Ilsoari Gandethus works really well with the Hide ability Otherwise, the crow, monkey and eagle are favorites of mine. Blessings: Stock up on blessings/favors of Erastil, maybe one blessing of Milani or blessing of Calistria Locations Meri excels at the following locations: Guard Tower (hide from the summoned banes!) Prison (the location power is nifty for Meri) Warrens Wooden Bridge Glassworks Junk Beach Mill Courtyard (Meri is about the only character I want in the Courtyard) Other The biggest issues I run into when playing Meri is that she often ends up with a hand full of stuff that doesn't have much turnover. This means that she only gets one explore per turn, and can get slow and bogged down. Don't feel guilty about ditching some stuff to get some turnover going if you need to, particularly if you can get a summoned monster (guard tower will get you two recharges against a bandit for an easy combat roll!). This is also a reason why you should prioritize getting some more allies and blessings in your deck.
Ok folks, time for some more fun. Yes, I'm procrastinating. Today's character: Lini, one of my favorites! General Notes Lini starts out as a very weak character, probably the weakest except for Lem. She can be a pain to nurse through the lower levels. However, once she gets going, she really becomes a superstar. Her primary ability is to have an animal companion help her on any check. Yes, you read that right. That animal companion can be upgraded to add 1d4+4 to ANYTHING. This means that Lini is the most versatile location-closer around, and can handle her own quite well. Furthermore, as things progress, she becomes the strongest divine spellcaster in the game. I find that Lini doesn't do a whole lot to help other characters. She can occasionally heal others, but for the most part, she's perfectly happy being off by herself. There are a couple of cute synergies where other characters benefit her, but she's not great at helping in return. So, you'll probably see Lini mostly off by herself, closing locations that nobody else wants to be around. Lini's versatility makes her one of my favorite characters to play. You just have to get her through the low-level drudgery. Once you get her going, she'll perform well in solo play as well as in any party.
Time to do another character. This time, I'm going to split the guide over a few posts, instead of having one long unwieldy post. As always, please feel free to post suggestions, and I'll add them to the guide. General Notes Harsk is the ranger of the party, and wins all of the team player awards. He tends not to shower himself in glory, and likes being left alone for the most part. His most important ability is to snipe in on other character's combats, and will often end up dumping almost his whole hand to do so. His personal explore rate tends to be somewhat low, because he's already used most of his hand helping everybody else. You'll probably find that by the time it gets to his turn, his hand will be empty. And that's perfectly OK. When only one location is unclosed and you have the time, you'll often plonk him down in a closed location, just so he can help somebody else out against the villain. Because Harsk can only help when he's at a different location to the combat in question, he'll tend to be alone on the map. To make the most of his contributions to the party, make sure that he actually has a party: give him at least a couple of other characters for company. As he can't help himself with his best power, he tends not to do so well going it alone.