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Build: The Transcendent

Classes: Nalpazca/SoulBlade

Alternate Classes:  Any monk except shattered pillar, who can't generate wounds with scepter

Description: A midline skirmisher that can debuff and charm enemies

Difficulty: POTD

Solo:  Not intended for solo

 

This build is an evolution of the Flagellant https://forums.obsidian.net/topic/98649-class-build-the-flagellant/ which never really got fleshed out.  The idea here is to take advantage of the fact you can dual wield a ranged weapon with a melee weapon in this game and still get the dual wield bonus with each weapon, in particular you will want to offhand a scepter (The keybreak scepter).  Now normally dual wielding a melee weapon with a ranged weapon is a downside because it doesn't take advantage of both weapons for full attacks, however with the Transcendent this isn't a problem at all because all available wound spenders and your soul annihilation attack are primary attacks.  The reason you want to use a scepter is because the modal slightly damages you when attacking which lets you build up wounds that you can use to unload your monk abilities.  It's honestly one of the best weapon modals, the self damage is pretty small, and you can get this build up to 17 penetration with scepters, lol.  Unfortunately there are few good scepters and you can get the best one for this build when you meet Aloth... 

 

EDIT:  Thunderous blows and destructive channeling do not stack, you can only reach 15 penetration using a scepter.

 

The result is a character that can quickly float between melee and ranged attacks while building up resources for both cipher and monk abilities.  Disclaimer: There are no real gimmicks here, you won't be super OP but you will be nearly as strong as a single class monk while having the ability to debuff and charm your foes, though once you get body attunement and borrowed instinct you become significantly tougher than a single class monk.  Unfortunately by that point in the game toughness doesn't have a lot of value.

 

Now, onto the details. Quick disclaimer, I decided to copy the format of the recently posted "Lady of Pain" for maximum readability, sue me.

 

 

Race-Background-Culture

 

 

 

 

 

Race:  Nature Godlike

Alternate race:  Any

 

Culture:  The White that Wends

 

Background: Hunter

 

-Nature Godlike is a great race for spell casters and monks, wellspring of life buffs both your spells and your fists.  Lately I've been using the stone of power amulet in place of wellspring of life and playing a human for this build instead, mostly because I hate being green.

 

-The White that Wends because we're going for maximum perception

 

-Hunter because we're going Nalpazca and bonus alchemy is great for that, in fact it's great in general.

 

 

 

 

 

Attributes

 

 

 

 

 

Might              -12-    Explanation below

Constitution    -10-    

Dexterity         -14-

Perception      -19-

Intelligence     -14-

Resolve           -9-

 

Alright, this is a dps build, so you might be wondering why there's only 12 might, and why I favor dexterity and intelligence over might.  To begin with, might, dexterity, and perception, are all good attributes if all you care about is auto attack dps, but when it comes to using abilities I highly favor perception because you need the ability to hit when you use it, not after you miss and build the resources back up to try using it again.  Also this build doesn't only rely on attack abilities, you will also debuff and charm.  Therefore perception which improves your auto attack dps and helps your abilities hit is king...

 

But why would I favor dexterity and intelligence over might?  The reason for this is because this build has several buffs that have a recovery time, so if the buff duration is short and the recovery time is long you'll end up in eternal buffing hell and not actually have fun with the build.  Buffs being used are clarity of agony, body attunement, and borrowed instincts.  As an example, body attunement has a buff duration of 15 seconds, at level 13 with an average of 25 intelligence it's much closer to 30 seconds, you'll have twice as much time to attack stuff before going into buff recovery again.

 

Final note on stats, I hate to min/max.  If you find my arguments invalid or like min/maxing just put the stats to whatever you want.

 

 

 

 

 

Class

 

 

 

 

 

My first choice here is Nalpazca/Soul Blade

 

Monk choices:

 

Monk-  The worst of your 3 choices, but also the easiest to manage

Helwalker-  In trade for having to babysit your character more you'll have a lot of bonus might

Nalpazca-  I find scepter by itself doesn't generate wounds fast enough for my taste, which is why Nalpazca is my first choice here.

Shattered Pillar-  Viable for transcendent but not for a scepter/fist skirmisher

 

Cipher choices:

 

Ascendant-  I'm sure this would be a good route, but it also doesn't fit into the skirmisher playstyle and there are probably better ways to make ascendants 

Beguiler-  No idea here...

Soul blade-  Works great with a scepter skirmisher, make sure you have long stride so there's no down time when you run in to use soul annihilation

 

Nalpazca requries extra management due to the drug requirement, the tradeoff is that drugs are really powerful.  First thing to know is that there's an herbs shop in Periki's overlook that constantly restocks drugs, so you won't have to worry about running out once you get a steady income flow.  Second thing to know is that there's a bounty quest in Dunnage to hunt a Lady Espero in Sepernt's crown.  She drops an amulet that gives you the whiteleaf effect after resting, it's very nice to use to avoid wasting drugs.  You'll be resting a lot, so just use fruit or something as your rest food.  At level 7 on POTD Lady Espero is no pushover, some might even suggest waiting a little longer to go after her...

 

 

 

 

 

Equipment

 

 

 

 

 

As I mentioned before, I'm not really going for gimmicks with this.  For now I will only list easy to obtain early game items that you should try to obtain.

 

Helm:  

Amulet:  I alternate between Stone of Power (you'll find several) for the empower buff and Soul Void (the amulet from Lady Espero)

Rings:  Chameleon's Touch

Chest:  Miscreant's leather (kill Benweth)

Waste:  Huana Charm Belt.  I've found I need even more speed than the long stride provides.

Back:

Hands:

Feet:

Pet:  Abraham (On top of the luminous adra mill)

 

Offhand weapon:  Keybreak Scepter  (There are very few good scepters so this is essential, Aloth only has it depending on your starting choices, I know Fair and Balanced is one choice where he has the scepter)

 

That's all for now, call this part a WIP I guess.  You can throw anything into the other slots really.  It's not very item dependent.

 

https://pillarsofeternity.gamepedia.com/Category:Pillars_of_Eternity_II:_Deadfire_items

 

 

 

 

 

Abilities

 

 

 

 

Recommend abilities by tier for this build.  For the cipher I will mostly be sticking to abilities that either charm or have a 0.5 second cast time.

 

*LEVEL 1*

 

-MONK-

 

Swift Strikes:  Required:  You really need this, and easy to program the AI to use automatically.  (more on that later)

 

-CIPHER-

 

Whisper of treason:  Suggested:  It's useful early on, but becomes obsolete later in the game.

Valorous Echoes:  Optional:  It's useless early on, but could be used to counter dominate/charm later in the game.

EDIT: The idea with  Valorous echoes doensn't work at all, reactively or proactively, perhaps a bug?  Just take Whisper of treason 100%.

 

*TIER 1*

 

-MONK-

 

Force of Anguish:  Optional:  I program it to be used defensively, it's also kind of cool.

Lesser Wounds:  Suggested:  More wounds is a good thing.

 

-CIPHER-

 

Iron Will:  Suggested.  Arcane dampener is a big weakness of Nalpazca and this boosts your defense against it a lot.

 

*TIER 2*

 

-MONK-

 

Clarity of agony:  Suggested. This is outstanding for affliction defense and required for enlightened agony, but you don't need to take it right away.

Two weapon style:  Required.  You need more weapon dps to build focus faster. 

Long Stride:  Suggested.  You will be moving from mid to front line a lot so this is very good to reduce down time.

 

-CIPHER-

 

Draining Whip:  Required.  It's much better than biting whip and necessary to use soul annihilation frequently.

Phantom foes:  Suggested.  Flanked is a -10 deflection and -1 armor debuff, and enables sneak attack.  This spell has a huge radius and it's fast cast, it's great.

Recall agony:  Optional.  On paper this should be useful against bosses, but you have to use it manually, the AI settings aren't adaptable enough imo.

Mind blades:  Not suggested.  This spell is more suitable for ascendants.  

 

*TIER 3*

 

-MONK-

 

Lightning strikes:  Required. More consistent and less gimmicky than swift flurry.  We don't really have anything to take advantage of swift flurry anyways.

Torment's reach:  Suggested. Prerequisite to raised torment, which is very good.  It's a nice additional debuff too.

Efficient anguish:  Not suggested.  Since I only use anguish defensively I usually have plenty of wounds when I need it.

 

-CIPHER-

 

Puppet master:  Not suggested.  It's a slight upgrade to whisper of treason with half the range and 3x the cost.  Take if you took valorous echoes at level 1.

Secret horrors:  Not suggested.  Phantom foes is better and you will get stuck in recovery hell if you use to many debuffs. Imo.  

Hammering thoughts:  Required.  You need more weapon dps to build focus faster.

 

*TIER 4*

 

-MONK-

 

Enlightened agony:  Suggested.  The smart inspiration allows you to automate this skill, and makes you immune to domination type enemies.

Duality of mortal presence:  Required.  Prerequisite for turning wheel.

Rooting Pain:  Optional.  Basically the monk version of cleave or carnage, and it interrupts.  Optional because this character spends a decent amount of time at range.

Thunderous blows:  You need this for your melee weapon penetration and the might buff.  Unfortunately the penetration doesn't stack with destructive channeling.

 

-CIPHER-

 

Body Attunement:  Suggested.  Great defensive buff.

Pain Block:  Optional.  Nice to drop on someone under pressure, long duration.

Silent scream:  Not suggested.  More suitable to ascendant's, and very similar in effect to raised torment which is much faster. 

 

*TIER 5*

 

-MONK-

 

Raised torment:  Suggested.  Great upgrade for torment's reach.  See screenshots below for tests on the range.

Enervating blows:  Optional.  Nice debuff and another enabler for sneak attacks.

 

-CIPHER-

 

Borrowed instinct:  Required.  This turns you into a badass.

Ring leader:  Suggested.  The best charm skill, it's very good.  I am expecting it to get hit by a nerf bat in the future though.

 

*TIER 6*

 

-MONK-

 

Turning wheel:  Required.  Hopefully nothing needs to be said here.

Flagellant's path:  Suggested.  Basically the same as charge, which everyone is calling OP atm.

Enervating blows;  Optional.  Passive debuff that helps your monk abilities hit easier

 

-CIPHER-

 

Amplified wave: Suggested.  It's not OP but it's still pretty good, see screenshot below.

Disintegrate:  Suggested.  Use this for melting bosses.

 

*TIER 7*

 

-MONK-

 

The Dichotomous soul:  Optional.  Wounds are infinite so these guys basically are too, nice meet shields.

Heartbeat thrumming: Suggested.  More damage 

Skyward Kick:  Not sure.  Perhaps consider using instead of force of anguish once respec is fixed, does more damage.

 

-CIPHER-

 

Echoing Horror:  Suggested.  Another passive debuff, nice.

 

 

 

 

AI:  WIP

 

 

 

 

This build can almost be programmed to play itself.  I've experimented quite a bit and it isn't perfect but here's what I've got.

 

 

ABILITY                               CONDITIONS                              PRIORITY                     RESET TIMER       

 

Second Wind                 Self:  Health below 75%                      None                                 0

 

Lightning strikes            Self:  Has Dexterity insp  (not)             None                                 0

 

Enlightened agony        Self:  Has intellect insp (not)                None                                  0

 

Thunderous blows        Self:  Has might insp (not)                    none                                  0

  

Phantom foes               Target:  allies in melee range > 1         Greatest # of enemies        20

 

Force of anguish          Self: Threatened by anyone in melee   Lowest Fortitude                 3 

Efficient anguish          Self: Threatened by multiple enemies   Lowest Fortitude

                                     Target: In melee range

 

Torment's reach          Self:  At least 9 wounds                        Greatest # of enemies

Raised torment

 

Soul annihilation         Self:  At least 90 focus                          Nearest target

                                   Target:  Below 25% health (not)

 

Body attunement         Self:  Engaged by multiple enemies     Lowest fortitude                  25 

 

Borrowed Instinct         Always true                                          Lowest Will                      50   

 

WIP

 

 

 

               

 

Screenshots

 

 

 

 

Testing the range of torment's reach with my intelligence fully buffed.  Anything with "stunned" over its head was hit.

 

SDo4sfJ.jpg

 

GqRtAai.jpg

 

 

In these next two I'm testing out the potential of Amplified wave when fully buffed and empowered, this is at level 16.  Some random bounty fight I think.  It's on PotD

 

kI2mDnq.jpg

 

krsWbaH.jpg

 

OHKO some poor dude through his unbending with Soul Annihilation.

 

ed9AYep.jpg

 

A nice thing about Soul Annihilation is that the raw damage isn't reduced by graze.

 

Q1eITcH.jpg

 

 

Edited by Climhazzard
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Alright, finally finished, mostly.  I'll add a few more abilities into the AI portion once I get the kinks worked out.  And possibly more screenshots.  

 

The worst part about this build is forgetting to keep the scepter modal turned on, because it turns off from leveling or upgrading.

Edited by Climhazzard

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Dual unarmed is fine, shattered pillar would be viable in that case as well.  But dual ranged weapons would prevent the use of soul annihilation and most monk abilities, so it's not the best build for dual blunderbuss. 

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Quick 1.1 update for this build.  Few key components were nerfed, making it somewhat questionable, and certainly not the most optimal.  I'm somewhat bitter about that considering it didn't use anything I thought was OP, except perhaps body attunement...

 

So first off, the scepter component was heavily nerfed.  The keybreak scepter no longer bounces, it now shares an on hit effect (fear kith on crit) with one of the other unique scepters.  Like seriously, there's 3 unique scepters and you couldn't even give it a bonus one of the other two didn't have...  Anyhow, because there are now no longer any dps scepters in the game, the ranged component of this build is just a novelty.  You'll want to spend more time in melee than not, and just use the scepter when you need the high penetration to do damage.  Here's to hoping the expansions will add in a good scepter or two (that don't share bonuses with scepters already in game!).

 

Next up, Soul annihilation was nerfed hard, like really hard.  You can see from my screenshots that it did good damage before, you can forget that now.  If you get a triple digit soul annihilation now you better screenshot it so someone can give you a prize.  Spending Focus on this as opposed to just charming more enemies instead is now kind of questionable.  

 

Luckily Transcendent suffering + Draining whip is still a good combination for doing good damage and gaining plenty of focus, so the build is still intact, it's just a bit shakier than it was before.  I think the soul annihilation nerf was a big joke, considering the powergamers around here found that using 1 resource full attacks with a damage bonus was generally better, like Flames of Devotion, and none of those were nerfed...

 

Well, whatever.  Might be better off going ascendant now, but I'm not sure.  Here's to hoping for some future cipher love and a scepter that actually synergizes with monks.

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