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I have a bit of a hang-up with games like Pillars of Eternity: I get really, REALLY anxious when I run into a "skill check" or something and my stats aren't high enough in one area to achieve success in it.  The best example is probably Neverwinter Nights 2, which was my favorite for years.  I tended to want to play high Intelligence, high Charisma characters, even if that wasn't the key stat for my class, because I didn't want to fail Diplomacy, Bluff or Intimidate checks, since my own character was the only one in the party who could USE those skills, and I also wanted to be able to select conversation options from other skills like Acrobatics, Lore, and Spellcraft.  This led to me using cheat codes so my Shardbearer could basically make every skill check in the game by themselves.

 

My admittedly limited experience with Pillars of Eternity, both in the game itself and from reading the builds on these forums, indicates that this game is gonna drive me crazy.  Each of the checks I've seen in the introduction sequence alone requires a stat of at least 15, and there's literally no way to make a character with a 15 in each stat.  There IS a way to get 1 rank in each skill starting out by picking backgrounds that fill the gaps your class has (a Cipher/Slave, Fighter/Drifter or a Monk/Merchant or Scientist).  And all the builds I've seen insist on dumping one or more stats down to the bare minimum to get their core combat stats as high as possible, so they can do things like Solo or Path of the Damned, which I've really got no intention of doing as I'm here for the story.

 

So where does that leave someone like me who doesn't want to get a bad outcome to a quest because one of my stats wasn't high enough, or where the kid in Defiance Bay loses some fingers because my Survival wasn't high enough by the time I reached him in the game?  I'm a real perfectionist/obsessive-completionist when if comes to the RPGs I play, and I'm well aware that I can't do EVERYTHING in this game (the Knights of the Crucible, the Dozens and House Doemenel are mutually exclusive), but I want to get the best possible outcomes in everything I do, and I'm not sure how to build a character capable of doing that with ANY class...

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It IS possible to do a rounded character, and "do" virtually everything (evne if you have to do separate runs for the various faction alignments).  You actually have found one of the best ways to get advice on that approach, but you don't realize it.

 

Read up on solo runs.  Especially read about the actual play reports, and the full thread discussions of the pros, cons, and adaptations that were necessary to get through solo.

 

Some solo characters have been min/maxed to OP their way through play with a narrow range of sup[erpowers.  But others are more well rounded, to be able to handle any challenge that comes along...in a range from "just fine" to "good enough", depending on the situation.

 

The most extreme min/maxed characters are actually generally INTENDED to be played "in party", as they have to be built with 1-2 glaring inadequacies in order to build their un-challengable Might, or Intellect, or whatever.  The rest of the party is selected, or built, to cover for those occasional weak spots.

 

Almost any expertly refined, but rounded solo Watcher character will also make a fine story oriented party leader, as well.  For the very reason that they HAVE to have been set up to live through / handle / succeed in almost any situation.

 

Usually this just means that the super extreme build has to be toned down slightly in the most excessive attributes (often Might and Con, sometimes Intellect), in order to provide the points to make the character more viable in the less obvious attributes.

 

As an example, an toon that has been built to deal 100+ damage with every swing at level 10 probably doesn't really NEED to smack quite that hard to be perfectly playable, so you take a couple points away from Might, and maybe 1 from Con, 1 from Dex, and 1 from the 18 Intellect, and you add 2 to Perception and 3 to Resolve.  So you Perception ends up around 10 and your Resolve makes it to 7-8, and the others have a couple at 12-13 and a couple at 16-17.

 

Then with Skills, you pay careful attention to which Skills can be artificially aided, and which can generally be approached with slow care vs suddenly jumping up as emergencies.  Resolve and work at keeping a good supply of those artificial aids among the party supplies.

Example: Locks are dealt with via high Mecanics Skill, used specifically for lockpicking.  But locked items can also be dealt with using more modest Mechanics, and keeping a good supply of lockpicks on hand.  Slightly more niggling, and you have to collect or pay for lots of lockpicks, whenever you can (they are one-time items, for some reason), but it helps you save points for other, less enhancable Skills.

 

A really good example of how to optimize a build can be found in Boeroer's "Witch Doctor" Monk.  Look it up in this forum.

Read the ENTIRE thread, especially the discussions of the originator with others looking for a more well rounded, or a solo version of the build.

 

Taken all together, it can be a lesson in how to either modify an extremely focused published build into that all-rounder you seek, or alternatively, the kinds of things you need to be thinking about to scratch build that kind of avatar.

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This was very good advice, thank you!   :)

 

So I think I have some idea of what I'm doing now.  I've got a skeleton of a build in mind, but it's mostly broad strokes.  As I said, I'm sticking mainly to Easy or Normal difficulty, so I'm not looking to do anything like Path of the Damned or stuff.

 

Class: Cipher (I like this class just from looking at it, especially as it feels like one of the most unique character concepts in the setting)

 

Race: From what I've read, if I'm looking to play a generalist kind of character, this isn't too important as it would be in one of the more optimized builds.  I'm personally looking play a Pale Elf myself.

 

Background: Like I said in my first post, the way to get a point in each skill right out of the gate as a Cipher would be to take the Slave background, being from Aedyr, the Deadfire Archipelago, Old Vailia or Rauatai.  That said, I've also gotten indications that the boost to skills from backgrounds is really minuscule.  Pale Elves come from the White that Wends, and the Mystic background really works well with the Cipher class.  This is one of the areas where I'm really waffling.

 

Attributes:

 

MIG 14

CON 10

DEX 10

PER 15
INT 15

RES 14

 

I copied this from Boeroer's Backlash Bedlam Cipher build, since I'm angling to play a Cipher using a two-handed weapon (namely Abydon's Hammer, a weapon that's IMPORTANT to the storyline, like how the Silver Sword is in Neverwinter Nights 2), and I figured it'd get most of the job done, assuming I utilize things like accessories, resting bonuses and food.

 

Talents:

 

Biting Whip

Draining Whip

Weapon Focus: Soldier

Two Handed Style

Savage Attack

Superior Deflection

Greater Focus

 

I've been led to believe that this would be a good core of talents for this character, and other things like Apprentice Sneak Attack and stuff would be icing on the cake.

 

Powers:

 

Mental Binding

Borrowed Instinct

Amplified Wave

Time Parasite

 

My understanding is that these are some of the best Cipher powers I could take, and then the following are ones I saw in Boeroer's build that would probably be solid with this concept:

 

Antipathetic Echo

Psychovampiric Shield

Ectopsychic Echo

Pain Link

Body Attunement

Mind Lance

 

Equipment:

 

This is ultimately where I'm sort of lost.  I mentioned previously that I wanna use Abydon's Hammer for story reasons, and I know I want items that will push all my stats high enough that I can make all the skill checks, but I'm not sure what combination to go for, but I also don't wanna look like a clown.  I like the pictures in the Let's Be Stylish thread (that's what actually brought me to these forums in the first place!).  I know the basics, like I should go for the lightest armor possible, enchant things to be better and with Durgen Steel, but I'm not sure how much of that stuff TO do or how it works (some builds only seem to enchant items up to exceptional or superb rather than all the way up to legendary, which confuses me, and besides that I won't really be able to enchant Abydon's Hammer as it's a soulbound item).

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You also need to figure out how you're going to approach narrative of the game. A lot of the builds on this forum recommend certain items that you either get near the end of WM2 or the main campaign.

 

So either you're going to have to die the first main quest of Act 2 to switch to the WM expansions before finishing Act 2 itself (which helps for a certain ending), or miss out on those items for most of your playthrough.

 

Once you get the +3 and +4 stat items it isn't difficult to get to 18+ for every stat as long as you don't minus below ten. Besides the soulbound sword there isn't a reason to get 28 in a stat anyways.

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You also need to figure out how you're going to approach narrative of the game. A lot of the builds on this forum recommend certain items that you either get near the end of WM2 or the main campaign.

 

So either you're going to have to die the first main quest of Act 2 to switch to the WM expansions before finishing Act 2 itself (which helps for a certain ending), or miss out on those items for most of your playthrough.

 

Once you get the +3 and +4 stat items it isn't difficult to get to 18+ for every stat as long as you don't minus below ten. Besides the soulbound sword there isn't a reason to get 28 in a stat anyways.

 

I was indeed told to makes sure to do the WM stuff BEFORE the animancy hearings so I can temper the Eyeless, if what's you're referring to.  What kinds of items are you referring to?  You have NO idea how reassuring that last statement is to me.  :thumbsup:

Edited by jtbehnke

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Having looked at some of the builds here, I had a question on upgrading the gear you find in the game.  Some of them recommend upgrading an item (especially the build's weapon of choice) only to Superb rather than Legendary (obviously, Soulbound items don't count, since you can't really mess around with their enchantments).  I know that there's a limitation to how MANY items you can do this to in that you get a limited number of enchanting resources, but would you not want to upgrade your primary weapon to Legendary if you had the option to?  Is there some kind of hard limit to how high you can enchant a weapon that's already got an increased quality "enchantment" on it (apart from the number of "anvils" a weapon can have)?

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I have not myself see the sort of recommendation you are speaking of, but I know that I hold off on quality enchantments as long as possible, and then go as high as possible.  Because there are never enough 'anvils' on a basic weapon form to enchant is successively to each quality level as you slowly acquire the engredients.

 

From that standpoint, with the potential decision to either do Superb sooner into your last anvil slots, or wait until really late game, if ever, with empty enchantment slots left on the weapon, waiting for those last few dragon toenails or whatever to be available, I think the choice is pretty clear...

 

...namely, get two of whatever your focus weapon is, enchant one to Superb as soon as humanly possible, then make a hobby out of collecting the stuff to take the other one to Legendary.  I guess your Superb weapon can become your off-hand at that point.

 

 

(I've done this in other games.  I've got a hobby crossbow* in Torchlight that I have been striving to get to 25 layers of enchantment for literally years.) 

 

(*In the hands of a top level character, even the work-in-progress version would make Sgt Detritus proud.)

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Here's a few examples of what I'm talking about:

 

Boeroer's Engineer Fighter uses enchantments to add Shocking Lash and Durgen Refined to Blesca's Labor, but doesn't increase it from Superb to Legendary, like I presume you'd want to, and only adds Durgen Refined to Old Gerun's Wall.

 

His Counselor Ploi build doesn't upgrade Cladhalíath from Exceptional, instead adding enchantments like Burning Lash and stuff.

 

Why don't these builds upgrade their primary weapon to Legendary?

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Here's a few examples of what I'm talking about:

 

Boeroer's Engineer Fighter uses enchantments to add Shocking Lash and Durgen Refined to Blesca's Labor, but doesn't increase it from Superb to Legendary, like I presume you'd want to, and only adds Durgen Refined to Old Gerun's Wall.

 

His Counselor Ploi build doesn't upgrade Cladhalíath from Exceptional, instead adding enchantments like Burning Lash and stuff.

 

Why don't these builds upgrade their primary weapon to Legendary?

When you obtain Cladhaliath it comes with two unique enchantments which take some of your enchantment slots. I think you're left with only 7 slots which means you have to choose between superb and exceptional+lash.

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Huh.  I see!  Thanks for the info.

 

What would be better to wear as a two-handed, melee-based Cipher?  Should I go for lighter Durgen-Reinforced armor to reduce my recovery penalty as low as possible, or should I go for the heaviest armor I can wear and use the Durgen-Reinforcement to mitigate that?

Edited by jtbehnke

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