Ranged Helwalker/Ascendant is sweet. Generate wounds with dance of death/enduring dance. 10 might from Helwalker at 10 wounds, 10 int from duality at 10 wounds, 5 might/2 pen from thunderous blows, 5 dex and lightning lash from lightning strikes. Since you only lose 1 power level when not at full focus as Ascendant, you can still toss out CC or debuffs just fine even when you're not ascended. Can spam around mind waves/mind blades/silent scream/amplified wave for great damage when ascended. Borrowed instinct for a nice accuracy boost. Secret Horrors is a solid aoe debuff and obviously have great CC with Whispers of treason and the likes.
It is squishy but even dumping resolve and only having 8 or 10 con, its still ok as long as you have some heals and a front liner or two. Depending on your difficulty, I'd recommend very high perception. Perception and accuracy are king for this build, then dex and then you want a decent bit of int/might but don't really need to go much higher than 15 or so, since you're going to be getting so much of both from all the monk buffs. I'd recommend dual wielding with serafen's gun and some other 1hander. Serafen's gun works very well for generating focus since it has the built in aoe and the fact that it has two different damage types.
I enjoyed the build pre 1.1 but didnt really need the CC portion much and basically played it as a straight up damage machine. I'm sure could still go that route post 1.1 on easier difficulties, but i've been playing upscaled POTD with the hardcore deadly deadfire mod now and its working great as a hybrid character. On tough fights you can spend a lot of time CCing with Whispers, debuffing with secret horrors, etc, and then when you're able you can pump out serious damage and interrupts and stuff too. It is a very flexible character. If you have other people locking down CC or don't need to CC much for a specific fight, you can do a ton of damage. If the fight has 15 enemies you can spend the majority of your time controlling the battle with all the mind controls and debuffs and interrupts. Surprisingly, even with all the CC I'm doing on this playthrough, it still is holding its own on overall damage since with the mod, fights are pretty drawn out and when my other characters may be all out of spells and resources towards the end, the cipher can keep on trucking. On the pre 1.1 playthrough it was top damage by a solid margin, and it wouldnt surprise me if it still ends up that way on this playthrough once i unlock silent scream and amplified wave. But even at low levels, mind wave is decent damage with an interrupt and mind blades is great for 2+ targets, especially against enemies with high saves but not super high deflection. It also has a short cast time so you can really pump out a bunch of them quickly with high dex.
I would highly recommend the combo. Perhaps I'll get around to making a guide for it at some point.
Edit: I just remembered to grab Scordeo's Trophy in my current playthrough and wanted to mention that is a great second weapon to go with Hand Mortar. Enchant it with opening barrage and you'll be stacking up reduced recovery time the entire fight, which applies to all your attacks and spells.
Edited by mrscojangles, 13 June 2018 - 08:38 PM.