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The Pillars of Eternity No Reload Challenge


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Frost, Hearth Orlan Rogue

 

Eder's permanent death isn't that big of a problem for me, since I didn't really want to stick with him for the whole game, anyway. We're low on levels, so I'm not keen on creating any new priests to replace Durance (I want to hit level 4 so we can create at least a level 3 custom character), but I think we're tough enough to handle the temple of Eothas, which I failed to complete out of fear of the Skuldrs.

 

Now, however, I think we have a better shot. We lure them away from their hiding place, using the extra seconds to help Kana build up chants, then have Durance cast Holy Meditation to improve our Will defenses and better resist the enemy's stunning attacks (which I think target Will defenses). Once the Skuldrs are bunched up together, Aloth blinds them. Frost is much deadlier than she used to be, and now can easily dispatch the Skuldrs with her twin hatchets.

 

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Entering the lower levels gets us enough experience to level up, finally, and get some new talents: Frost learns Shadowing Beyond, giving us an unbeatable escape option twice per rest, Aloth gets Arcane Veil to improve his lousy defenses and Combusting Wounds to improve our damage output, and Durance gets Inspiring Radiance because I'm not sure what else is worth choosing. Kana isn't quite there yet, so no Phantom summons for us.

Back upstairs, I flub things up against the second batch of Skuldrs, and Aloth ends up at the back of the line while we're running away. Putting aside the problem of disengagement attacks, interruptions prevent Aloth from quickly running away.

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In BG, if you got hit while running away, you could cancel the damage animation by pausing and then re-issuing the command to run away. No such option exists in PoE; I've tried. Interruptions are a real stunning effect; not just an animation.

 

We get surrounded, but Aloth survives the pressure and Kana builds up enough chants to summon some skeletons. Durance has Consecrated Ground up and running, a fabulous pre-buff that lasts 25 seconds, and Frost begins chopping up the enemy.

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The Skuldrs obliterate our skeletons in seconds, and under Arcane Veil, Aloth lasts long enough to cast Curse of Blackened Sight. That's our most crucial offensive spell; the -25 Accuracy is extremely important for our survival and it buys Frost, our primary damage dealer, an extra 50% damage per hit. Better still, it lasts for a very long time.

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Aloth is in trouble, under attack from the Skuldr King, but then I realize we have a rather nice option for dealing with it: Durance can pin it down with a simple Halt spell. Notice Frost completely thrashing the other Skuldrs.

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When the others are gone, we crowd around the Skuldr King, who somehow drops Frost to 1 Endurance with two hits in quick succession--it seems to have the attack speed of a dual-wielding character!

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Frost uses Shadowing Beyond for a quick escape, and once she heals herself with Second Wind, she returns to finish off the Skuldr King.

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Shadowing Beyond is a great way to compensate for her low Deflection.

 

We sell off a bunch of loose gear, bumping our copper supply from 2,000 to 3,000, and finally have Frost don the Saint's War Armor from Eder, since it brought him back to life once before (which is not counting him getting back up after combat ended; that was a separate event). Can someone tell me if a knockout on Frost means a game over, and if so, could the Saint's War Armor bring her back?

 

Finally, we create a couple of custom characters at a major cost to our copper supply: Runa, an Aumaua priest, and Sabine, a Hearth Orlan wizard.

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Sabine has low Might because she's not intended to be a bomber; she's just there to cast Curse of Blackened Sight to improve Frost's damage output. This lets us max out Intellect and Perception to improve her disablers. As for Runa, I've dropped her Perception because she's not there to use offensive spells or attack; she's strictly there to cast healing and buff spells, which requires high Might and Intellect.

 

Kana finally hits level 4 and learns to summon Phantoms. We don't plan on keeping him forever (he's a nice character, but I don't like his portrait or voice), but I do want a sturdy buffer for the time being.

 

Back to the beach, another area we failed to complete due to fears over its difficulty. Sabine tries out her Chill Fog and Slicken spells and finds them highly effective. With her high Intellect, she can knock down or blind large groups of enemies, easing the pressure on the party.

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Outside, I decide to tackle to the Guls. I lure them out one at a time using stealth: I think you can pick off enemies one by one in certain situations by letting the yellow circle under the sneak character fill up (which causes the enemy to follow you) and then running away before the red circle fills up (when combat actually begins). With Holy Radiance and Blinding Strike, we can slay the Guls without using per-rest abilities.

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It's time to take on Caed Nua. Following the example of other no-reloaders, I corner the party when dealing with the first group of Phantoms, making sure that our wizards are safely behind a wall. Everyone is wearing hide armor or scale (I think) armor for the extra bonuses to Freeze damage reduction (why wear heavy armor against enemies that don't deal physical damage?).

 

Aloth and Sabine open with Chill Fog, and due to their high Intellect, we can cover all the enemies without risking any party members straying into the area of effect. Before all the enemies even manage to reach the party, Frost is already almost done with the first Phantom! She's just that dangerous.

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As hideously dangerous as the enemy's attacks are, their defenses are actually pretty weak. Aloth and Sabine can kill the Shadows just by using Arcane Assault.

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By the time Kana brings out his own Phantom, Frost has already crushed the enemy. I can't overstate how effective she is at killing things. She attacks lightning fast with her twin hatchets.

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Based on our success in the first fight, I assume that the other enemies scattered around the exterior are going to be pushovers. Then we encounter a pair of Will o' Wisps alongside the Shadows and Phantoms, and their high-damage shock attacks shake our confidence.

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But they need a few seconds before they can strike again, and with two priests in the party, we can recover from the damage before any Phantoms can finish us off. Aloth somehow deals 30 damage against the Will o' Wisps with a Chill Fog spell, and Frost starts tearing apart the shadows.

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We're low on spells, so we hike back to the Gilded Vale to rest up and buy some new food for the party. The food is worth the cost, but I'm not sure I agree that the costs are negligible; it costs us 192 copper pieces to buy everyone two pies and a dish of Pearlwood Chicken, even with a discount. That's actually a meaningful loss after we spent so much money getting new characters; we're down to less than 1,000 copper again.

 

The other fights outside Caed Nua prove uneventful. Frost stays out of the way of the Phantoms' stun attacks, and with two wizards using blindness spells, she has little trouble bringing down the enemy.

 

Next up, Maerwald! We open with Curse of Blackened Sight and a Scroll of Protection just in case a bad disabler comes our way, with Consecrated Ground to shield us from any big damage spells. Maerwald's high Will isn't enough to keep him safe from our blindness spells.

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I'm hesitant to send Frost over to Maerwald since it seems dangerous, so I let her focus on killing the Blights until we can nail Maerwald with Combusting Wounds. When I realize that Aloth can deal lots of damage simply by using Minoletta's Minor Missiles on Maerwald, I let Frost stay with the Blights. By the time the Blights are down, which doesn't take long, Maerwald is already wounded and largely helpless.

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With the path to the next areas now open, we replace Durance with Sagani. Eventually, I'll want to get the Grieving Mother and then Pallegina, whom I've never had in the party before.

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No worries, I can expand the dialogue box. It's just ugly so I usually have it minimised unless I am showing something. In-game, naturally I look at it more closely.

 

Re your question: Can someone tell me if a knockout on Frost means a game over, and if so, could the Saint's War Armor bring her back?

 

Don't worry, this is not BG! Your PC is treated the same as NPCs, your game is not over from being knocked out unless entire party gets knocked out.

 

What happened to the fight with phantoms inside Caed Nua? You seem to have missed it.

 

Finally cost of food: you will have tens of thousands of gold very soon, don't sweat 200cp!

 

PS: Inspiring Radiance is a great choice for priest. Check out the interdictions as well, there is synergy with what Frost does. Also think about the priest as a buffer rather than healer. The healing spells are weak (other than regenerative stuff like Consecrated Ground), whereas buff spells are awesome. I am not sure why you did not max INT though, MIG only influences her personal healing rate, it does not increase healing for the rest of the party (each character's own MIG determines how much they heal).

 

 

PPS: I think you have picked wrong race for your wizard: I am sure you meant to go for heath orlan (extra chance of crit) but you have picked wild orlan (defiant resolve!)

Edited by Jaheiras Witness
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@Jaheiras Witness: I did fight the phantoms inside Caed Nua, but the screenshots and details aren't very interesting. The fight was the same as the one outside: use Kana and Runa as tanks, hold the party in a Consecrated Ground spell, have Aloth and Sabine cast Chill Fog and Curse of Blackened Sight, and then have Frost pick off the enemies one by, attacking from the sides and targeting enemies who are (1) already engaged with other party members, and therefore less likely to attack Frost herself, and (2) blinded or flanked and therefore vulnerable to sneak attacks. We didn't get any major stuns, and as long as Frost is in good health and not disabled, she can dispatch almost anything in seconds. I just need to keep her out of combat for the first few seconds until I can see safe openings for her to attack.

 

I'm not sure how useful Hearth Orlans are compared to Wild Orlans. For Frost herself, I went with the former for the stronger offenses, but considering how many Will attacks there are in the tougher fights in the game, I can see the value in picking the latter.

 

I didn't realize that Might was strictly for healing received; not healing granted. That definitely makes Might a lot less important for clerics--and suggests that wizard tanks need decent Might even if they don't plan on using attack spells.

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By the way: in my all-paladins run, I noticed that our ability to heal Endurance eventually outpaced our ability to keep Health high, which means that there comes a point at which additional healing fails to provide any additional benefit. Moon Godlikes are great, but a party composed entirely of them is not necessarily ideal; much of the healing is wasted due to the Health problem and the fact that not everyone in the party takes equal damage.

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Wild Orlan racial ability is very average, simply because it does not re-proc: if you have defiant resolve active, another Will attack does not start the timer again. Only when the first defiant resolve ends (after 10 seconds, not affected by INT either) and a Will attack hits you then does it start again. In any case it is a tank-attribute. I figured you wanted heath orlan for the wizard for the synergy with her PER and to maximise crits for ultra-long duration crowd control.

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When it comes to building a type of buffbot/defensive priest, I'd ignore any stats with the exception of intelligence and dexterity. Int should be obvious. Why is dexterity so important? Well, after gaining a couple of levels, the priest will have to cast a ton of buffs on the party at the beginning of combat. With low dex, this will take very long. You want these buffs to be applied as soon as possible to actually profit from them - otherwise, you will still be buffing up while the battle is already starting to be done. For a normal battle, you might use radiance, interdiction, blessing, dire blessing and devotions for the faithful - it takes a while to use all of these spells! Add in stuff like prayers against x (sometimes you need multiples of these!), consecrated ground, holy meditation - or, for higher levels, minor avatar, champion's boon, crown for the faithful and the like, and you will be glad for every bit of faster action speed. I usually just go for 18 dex/18 int and leave the other stats at 10.

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Aotha, Hearth Orlan Rogue: Caed Nua

 

Aotha's assault on Caed Nua went smoothly, save for a misclick error resulting from my BG experience.

 

As my earlier teaser post implied, the spirit battles in Caed Nua were trivial. We bunch together, we ran Zealous Accuracy and we cast Consecrated Ground + Armor of Faith + Blessing. I believe my teaser post had mentioned Curse of Blackened Sight, but, in truth, that was on the wish list: Aloth's un-respected book (personal restriction) still did not include that spell. No matter: it wasn't needed the spirits posed no threat at all.

 

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You'll note that we targeted the shadows first, rather that the phantoms. I'm sure Jaheiras Witness cringed at the sight of that, but, actually, the shadows are more of a nuisance than the phantoms in party play. The phantoms can stun, true, but against a party, they can't stay alive long enough to finish off a tank, and they can reach anything other than tanks, since they can't teleport or use ranged weapons. The shadows, in contrast, use ranged attacks, allowing them to reach sheltered squishies, who can fall quickly. They can also teleport, limiting repositioning flexibility for your potential flankers. I'd rather fight phantoms than shadows- at least with a party

 

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All done now.

 

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Next, the spiders. Simple deflection wall, backed with Consecrated Ground. We skipped the low level priest spells here because we were trying to complete the quest without resting.

 

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(In general, I'm still trying to find the the optimal balance between preparedness and plausible resting. Like Serg, I prefer not to leave quests to purchase camping equipment: it's an immersion breaker and it's also unbalancing in party play. I don't believe Aotha was ever endangered, on account of my rest limitations, but some battles were made more difficult. I'll highlight those times if and when I notice them)

 

Finally, Maerwald. Aside from a knockout, caused by a misclick, Maerwald went quietly. We took the standard approach of vacating the room. We then attempted a unbuffed insta-kill via a ranged volley (something that usually works on lower difficult levels) as an experiment. As it turned out, the Maerwald's PotD deflection bonus was enough to keep him alive.

 

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My intention, at this point, was to send Eder forward to engage the blights. I clicked on his sprite circlet, as was always my practice in BG. The trouble is that that frequently does not work in PoE: clicking on the sprite circle will, often, fail to select a new character, leaving the previously selected character active (Does anyone else have that problem? It happens to me all the time). And so instead of sending Eder, I sent Aloth. I didn't realize my mistake until Aloth was in engagement range. He was dropped almost immediately. Fortunately, Maerwald was very nearly dead by then.

 

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All he needed was a nudge from, um, himself. No further damage was taken here, save a few endurance point in the melee finish of the blights.

 

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Aotha's posts are now critically behind her progress (she's on the Burial Isle, actually). I'll try to catch up today so she can finish up tonight.

 

Best,

 

A.

Edited by Alesia_BH
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@Alesia_BH: I've actually never had trouble with switching character selections, at least not since I realized I could map the higher number keys to specific characters with CTRL-5, CTRL-6, and so forth. I've even learned to imitate the BG-style hotkeys, like having the 7 key select the first two character slots. I only use the number keys to select characters; that avoids the possibility of a mis-click on the map. It's also a fraction of a second faster than using the mouse, which adds up over time.

 

I personally have been extremely generous with resting in my rogue run. In my previous run, I didn't worry much about resting because I designed my party so it didn't need (and wasn't allowed per my rules at the time) to use per-rest abilities, but now, I want to make sure we're able to use stuff like Consecrated Ground and Curse of Blackened Sight for every moderately-dangerous fight. After all, being unable to properly flee from combat in PoE means that you need to enter combat with all the spell slots you need to win.

 

I have left maps occasionally in order to rest at inns between fights. It's slower and arguably immersion-breaking, but it's very good for safety, especially since I've never beaten the game on anything above Normal mode before--and have only beaten the game twice overall. Every fight is kinda half-blind for me at the moment.

 

I'm a little behind on my posting, but I'll try to make my updates more timely in the future.

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Jazz Wit, Solo Chanter (Hard), Part 12

I'm at an awkward stage of the game now. I have reached level 7 but all the easy stuff in Defiance Bay is done. I always find the levels between 7 and 10 seem to crawl anyway. Ideally I would like to be level 9+ before I start the difficult quests, but that may not be possible. In any case, it seems time to leave the city to progress some of the quests that require travel to other areas and we can reassess what to do next when we return to Defiance Bay.

But before we leave, let's get this quest out of the way:

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Heavy drug use involved here, so makes sense to complete this, rest, and then head out.

Not for the faint-hearted:

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The Whiteleaf makes a big difference in this fight. Watch out for this when you kill a spectre:

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We just killed two simultaneously and took some hefty damage. Something to look out for if you have some badly injured party members.

I use the phantom to draw more opponents in the upstairs battle (I don't want to leave my defensive position or have buffs expire):

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It's another grinding battle (I wish I had some Fan of Flames scrolls; alas run out of ingredients):

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Rest of the quest is done via the peaceful route. This is a really nice item:

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With that done I head to the Goose & Fox for some rest before leaving the city.

Er...what's this?

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Assassins? But I don't have any enemies! Look...

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I genuinely thought that assassins only came after you if you had made an enemy faction (e.g. House Doemenel), but so far I have not upset anyone. So this takes me totally by surprise (I wasn't even looking at the screen, I had selected the exit from the area map and game was running on double-speed, next thing I know is auto-pause due to combat start) :(

I'm in a bad spot: there are lots of enemies, I am totally unprepared, not in a good position and don't even have any food buffs :/. So I summon Beetles to buy some time.

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At the Sound of his Voice...

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A little help here?! He just walks casually past!

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Tough but fun battle, these are the last knockings:

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Now this is the morning workout we had in mind:

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(Don't think I'll be dancing with her again; she's certainly no Serel).

Edited by Jaheiras Witness
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I personally have been extremely generous with resting in my rogue run.

 

 

I noticed that. That's in part why I mentioned it. Not to discourage you from resting, mind you, but to contextualize the comparative dearth of spells in Aotha's run.

 

So far, we've completed every quest without leaving to rest or purchase camping equipment. We'll probably leave the Burial Isle to sell equipment and thus afford upgrades, though.

 

 

 

I'm a little behind on my posting, but I'll try to make my updates more timely in the future.

 

 

I'm in no position to judge. Between the latter half of Ashoka's run, Alikae's run, and the last 9/10ths of Aotha's, I'm over two full runs behind...

 

I'll definitely redress, starting with my next run.

 

Best,

 

A.

Edited by Alesia_BH
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Frost, Heart Orlan Rogue

 

The reason I mention that I'm behind in posting is that this post is about a session that happened before I read about how deadly the lions guarding Hearth Harvest were.

 

I therefore did not know at the time that, when I saw some lions while scouting, I should have taken extra precautions before proceeding to get my favorite hatchet. Without that information, I thought that lions would be simple enemy grunts that I could deal with using my normal tactics.

 

Until this happened.

 

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Right off the bat, Sagani is in danger and Kana is almost dead. Consecrated Ground and Second Wind bail out Kana, but Sagani is suffering and Sabine is in trouble. She manages to get Chill Fog off the ground...

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...and even Curse of Blackened Sight, but with no time to cast Arcane Veil, she's not tough enough to survive the lion attacks.

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Aloth activates Arcane Veil and manages to stay afloat, but Kana can't take the pressure, and our chanter goes down. Runa casts Prayer Against Fear to block the effects of the lions' roars, and Frost is making strong progress against the blinded lions.

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We've got Consecrated Ground active, and Frost is dealing lots of damage, but the party is taking a lot of damage. Sagani goes down, and Runa is quickly following her.

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Soon, Frost is all alone. Everyone else has been knocked out.

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There's only one thing left to do: flee. And as it happens, Frost is the only one who can actually escape combat using Shadowing Beyond. She instantly goes invisible and hurries away from the lions.

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The lions wander off, and the party climbs to its feet! Shadowing Beyond just saved this run.

 

But I'm not done here yet. I want to bring down those lions. It's time for Round 2. We rest up, have some snacks, and return, with Itumaak serving as our decoy. Itumaak, of course, does not last long without support.

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But that bought us a moment's reprieve, and while Sagani is already getting thrashed, we've managed to blind the lions and even knock some of them down with Slicken! Runa has also given us some priest buffs, including Consecrated Ground.

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We trade blows with the lions. With the party better protected and more healing spells on the way, we can recover from damage while the enemy cannot.

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It takes a lot of work, but with both of our wizards well-protected and with Kana taking pressure off of our priest, we can keep throwing out healing spells and disablers while Frost does her dirty work. The lions fall!

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Our reward is Hearth Harvest, which we immediately upgrade to Fine.

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Frost, Heart Orlan Rogue

 

We keep wandering around aimlessly (I really don't know my way around the map) and eventually run into a batch of Forest Trolls. Like most enemies, they're not too much trouble after they've been blinded. Aloth resumes an old function of his: torching enemies from the side using Fan of Flames.

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But we don't need Aloth anymore--Sabine already has the important blindness spells, and Hiravias makes a better bomber than Aloth does, so we replace Aloth with the Orlan druid. Over at Defiance Bay, we do the March Steel Dagger quest, and while we get our hands on the dagger and its brilliant +20% attack speed enchantment...

 

...we can't equip it.

 

It's a quest item, so we can't ever remove it from the stash. The dagger is completely useless to us. We reluctantly head back to the little kid who wanted it, and I don't see a dialog option that lets us keep the dagger, which ostensibly would make it stop being a quest item and let us actually use it. We hand it over and get our reward: a little figurine that summons a trio of beetles once per day. It's really not what I wanted, since I had hoped to give Frost another boost to her damage output, but it's what we've got.

 

Some guards give us grief when we're looting a mansion, and for a moment I'm terrified, because they're hitting much harder than they did in my last run.

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They don't keep up the pressure, however, and soon Kana summons a Phantom that helps even the odds.

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We butcher some thugs down at the docks, then spend a little while wandering around Ondra's Gift, since I never bothered to check for side quests in my last run. Runa and Sabine hit level 4, learning Inspiring Radiance and Mirrored Image. Sabine takes Gallant's Focus--Kana already has Gallant's Focus, but I plan on replacing him, and anyway, Kana's Accuracy aura doesn't always reach the back of our group.

 

Then, while I'm wading around the water, I run into some Animats, and I make a run for it.

 

I had no idea there were Animats here, and I wouldn't have rushed into the water if I knew enemies that dangerous were lurking around. It seems like a really tough encounter at this stage in the game, but we can't really avoid it now. We use a bridge as a rather lousy chokepoint and summon a Phantom, who, to my surprise, actually manages to land a stun.

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We bring the Animat down to Near Death and I think we have it pinned, but then, sure enough, it instantly heals itself to full Endurance.

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Despite the setback, we keep up the pressure and eventually the Adra Animat lumbers into the fray. Fortunately, we have lots of blindness spells and soon enable sneak attacks on the Adra Animat as well.

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When the battle is over, I wade back into the water to find out what the Animats were guarding.

 

Which turns out to be more Animats. I immediately turn tail, but this time, the enemy zaps us as we're running away!

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We can't run any further; we need to stop and use some healing spells. While we're taking our positions, I notice that the enemy bolts are actually party-unfriendly, and the Animats are hurting each other--pretty badly, in fact.

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We cast Consecrated Ground and also Woodskin to give us some slight buffer against the shock damage, while Sabine blinds the enemy. Unfortunately, the enemies here have a massive 36 total damage reduction against slashing damage, which means Frost's hatchets only deal 20% their normal damage.

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But we're at full strength--I rested before heading back into the water, just in case--and while Frost is crippled by the enemy's damage reduction, the rest of the party is not. We smash the Animats while Consecrated Ground keeps us healthy, and proceed to the Adra Animat, which Sabine knocks down with Slicken.

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Things are getting rough, but we're learning stuff. There's a lot of content that I never actually explored, so much of this is very new to me.

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Frost, Hearth Orlan Rogue

 

We deal with Waldr "Three Fingers" the normal way: Consecrated Ground, the level 1 wizard Accuracy spell combined with Curse of Blackened Sight, with Frost waiting a couple seconds before taking action so she can attack an enemy after it's already engaged one of our tanks.

 

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Frost hits level 5! I'm tempted by Riposte, which sounds like a great option for the right thief build, but I choose Deep Wounds for the raw damage.

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Now we can replace Sagani with a new level 4 character: Mora Tai, an Aumaua cipher.

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Mora Tai will be testing out the Quick Switch strategy with firearms: fire a blunderbuss for raw damage, switch to a pistol for a followup, and then switch to a wand for a more reliable and faster weapon. Otherwise she's very similar to the ciphers from the "no per-rest abilities" run, with high Might, Dexterity, and Perception, and no armor to speed up ranged attacks. Unfortunately, buying a blunderbuss costs us 1,500 copper pieces, so this character build costs us 2,500 in total. Hopefully it's worth it.

 

We also recruit Pallegina, replacing Kana and giving us a more interesting tank. Back at the temple of Eothas, we fight more Skuldrs, who surprise us with a lot of stunning and raw damage.

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We shrug it off with some healing options and after a Curse of Blackened Sight and Combusting Wounds, we tear them up with sneak attacks and cipher powers.

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While I'm back finishing early game quests, we stop by the bear cave and combine Hiravias' animal charming powers with the beetle figurine.

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We head to Raedric's hold in search of more profitable adventures and delve into the dungeon. Mora Tai's new blunderbuss (upgraded with the Fine and fire damage enchantments!) and the pistol, Forgiveness, are proving very effective. Switching weapons is much faster than reloading them, and the damage from firearms is very respectable.

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After some heavy meals, we confront Osrya and blast her with the blunderbuss. The enemy wizards fire back hard.

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Worried about getting overwhelmed with spell damage, we knock Osrya off her feet with a Slicken spell, which is almost as fun as it sounds.

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Concelhaut's Corrosive Siphon keeps Osrya in good health, but then we nail her with Fetid Caress, which is also almost as fun as it sounds.

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She doesn't last long after that.

 

Later, we get in trouble with some oozes who deal much more damage than I anticipated, albeit not so much to threaten the run. Here's Mora Tai using Antipathetic Field to tack on damage with Sabine's Combusting Wounds.

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Up on the ramparts, Mora Tai blasts an archer and charms the captain of the guard. Ciphers are great fun.

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Mora Tai gets knocked out by the end of the fight, though. Such is the cost of not wearing armor.

 

We decide not to finish the Raedric quest, since I don't want to trigger the Caed Nua invasion by Raedric's Fampyr friends. Even without clearing out the castle, the loot we sell nets us over 2,000 copper pieces, nearly doubling our supply.

 

We do have one Caed Nua invasion to deal with, though. The Leaden Key has some spellcasters with them, but Mora Tai can wipe out one of them in just two shots from her blunderbuss and Forgiveness.

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Since the run is going well, I decide to head to Searing Falls to finish a quest. I've never visited Searing Falls before, but I dimly remember reading that the reward was a weapon that would be very nice for our party.

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On to Searing Falls! Three seconds in, I realize that the area might be a little too challenging for us to complete.

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I was not expecting a Drake. Fortunately, we have a pretty sturdy party, and we have some Scrolls of Revival on hand. One Drake shouldn't be too difficult if we're careful.

 

Then I see a whole swarm of Drakes swooping in on us, and I realize that we might not make it out of this one.

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Mora Tai switches to her blunderbuss and fires at the nearest Drake. To my horror, her blunderbuss only deals 4.6 damage. Four of the six hits completely missed, and the other two just grazed--and most of that damage was completely ignored by the Drake's massive damage reduction.

 

I was really counting on that to buy us Focus points to burn on Whisper of Treason. She switches to Forgiveness, and this time, she misses completely. Her Accuracy is in the 30s thanks to the Frightened aura from the Drakes, and the Drake's Deflection is 81. Combine that with a bad attack roll and we get nothing.

 

Normally, Mora Tai would have Focus at least in the 30s or 40s. It's at 16 now, and the only way we can build it up is with a wand.

 

Luckily, Sabine has stronger Accuracy and manages to blind some of the enemies. Pallegina downs a Potion of Bulwark Against the Elements, Runa starts casting some defensive spells, Hivarius begins casting Returning Storm, and Frost waits for an opening. Even more Drakes have shown up than I anticipated, and we can't run to a corner without suffering disengagement attacks and sacrificing our Consecrated Ground spell.

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Every single Drake has its own Fear Aura that triggers repeatedly, so avoiding it without a Prayer Against Fear spell is virtually impossible. That's a huge blow to our Accuracy, but Mora Tai manages to charm one of them with Whisper of Treason. We target a Young Drake since its Will defense is in the 30s, while the full-grown Drakes' Will defenses are in the 50s.

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Unfortunately, out of all the Drakes that Sabine has blinded, none of them are within Frost's striking distance, so Frost has to use Blinding Strike on the nearest one in order to make progress on the enemy. Even now, against Drakes, Frost's damage output is impressive.

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Our beetles get crushed, and now the party is under real pressure. Mora Tai lands another charm, but only with a graze, and so the duration is very disappointing.

Frost brings the Young Drake to Near Death, but it stubbornly clings to life, and I'm not sure how much longer it will last. Hiravias deploys Charm Beast and the party gains control of more of the enemies, but unfortunately, we mostly get critters who are already blinded.

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Runa casts Prayer Against Fear to improve our Accuracy and we land a couple more charm effects, but our rolls appear very low; we keep getting nothing but grazes on all our attacks. Hiravius activates Woodskin as a preventive measure, but things are looking ugly. Frost has only brought down a single enemy so far.

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The enemy is so scrambled and we have had so little control over positioning at the start of combat that our damage output has been really scattered; multiple enemies are wounded but few are in serious condition. We manage to pull another Drake down, and naturally, it's Frost's second target--though a dying Flame Blight actually scored the final blow.

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Hiravias charms another couple of Drakes, and this time gets better luck with the duration, but we've got other problems. Charms are great, but to really finish off the enemy in a controlled, concentrated manner (so our damage isn't spread out over multiple targets and therefore wasted), we need to impose blindness and let Frost land some sneak attacks. But Sabine is getting pummeled, and her Arcane Veil and Wizard's Double spells just aren't enough to keep her safe. She's already deeply in the red.

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Mora Tai, still struggling to build up Focus against the enemy's heavy damage reduction and sky-high Deflection, manages to land another Whisper of Treason spell on a Young Drake. It takes half the pressure off of Sabine, but the other Drake is getting high attack rolls to compensate.

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One charmed critter is not enough to bail out Sabine. The Drake finishes her off, and now we are truly void of blindness options. Now our only sneak attacks can come from flanking enemies (which is virtually impossible; I can barely see anything with all the Drakes in the way, and moving anywhere is extremely dangerous due to the risk of disengagement) or from a level 2 Power from Mora Tai, who needs that Focus to use on Whisper of Treason to keep the party alive. Hiravias paralyzes a couple enemies, giving us a slight reprieve and paving the way for some sneak attacks. But due to the Drakes' extraordinarily high damage reduction, it's extremely difficult for Frost to deal much damage. And she's not getting good rolls, either.

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One Drake is at Near Death, but just like the first one, it hovers at Near Death for a remarkably long time without dying. All the while, Hiravias' charm spells are wearing off and the Drakes are using their breath weapons again. Mora Tai approaches death.

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The Young Drakes' breath weapons appear to be single-target, but the adult Drakes' attacks are area-effect. Mora Tai avoids a blast due to being out of range, but Pallegina gets hit unusually hard, and goes down despite being at decent health shortly before.

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Hiravias is out of charm spells and Mora Tai has been getting bad attack rolls, repeatedly failing to generate Focus. The net result is that now the Drakes are all hostile, and that one Drake at Near Death simply refuses to go down. The damage on the party builds up faster than we can heal it.

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When Hiravias goes down, we finally deploy a Scroll of Revival. We're pretty much out of spells, but at least the extra Endurance could buy Frost more time to kill the Drakes.

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Mora Tai collapses, another crushing blow to the party. If she had just clung to life a little longer, she might have landed a Whisper of Treason spell and slipped to safety to keep using her wand from afar. Hiravias paralyzes three Drakes due to lucky positioning and good rolls, and finally, finally that one Drake that's been hovering at Near Death for so many seconds goes down.

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We really only have two ways of surviving this encounter: finishing off the remaining four Drakes, which seems really dicey without Mora Tai to attempt some more Whispers of Treason spells (our party members alone aren't sturdy enough to last much longer), or having Frost use Shadowing Beyond to escape and somehow finagle our way out of the fight, like we did with the lions.

 

The first option doesn't seem likely. We'd need pretty good luck to come out on top, and the Drake gets spectacular luck with its knockdown ability. Frost is tacking on damage to another Drake at Near Death, but with our party members on their backs, we can't exactly flank it and enable sneak attacks.

 

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We land one more kill, but I don't think we can beat the Drakes. Only Runa and Frost remain, and Runa can't hold off three Drakes at once.

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I abandon Runa for dead and have Frost escape under Shadowing Beyond. She only has one left, since a previous one somehow failed to stop a Drake that appeared to see through it. She hurries to the west...

 

...but there are no safe spots on this map. There are even more Drakes to the west.

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And beyond that, there are Xaurips. With Frost's low Intellect, Shadowing Beyond doesn't last long enough for her to escape three separate encounters. The Xaurips spot her just as she reappears.

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I was hoping that she could somehow scrape by and slip away from the Xaurips, but there is no such option. The Xaurips paralyze her and bring her down.

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I went back and tried fighting the drakes again. Turns out you can run to the east, hide in a corner, and then lure out two drakes to fight separately from the others. When we rested and fought the other four drakes, we won with only one knockout (or maybe none; I don't remember) despite making only minor adjustments to our strategy, without using any Scrolls of Revival or more than a single Potion of Infuse Vital Essence. Our normal strategy was actually pretty solid; the enemy's numbers were just too big for our party to handle, at least with the luck we had.

 

I've considered playing through PotD with reloads, since I still have barely any experience with the base game, but it just feels weird to reload these days. I kind of want to try another experimental PotD run, like an all-rogue party, since I have a theory that a party of level 5+ rogues could just kill a single enemy on Round 1 of any fight, use Shadowing Beyond to escape, rest, and then return and finish off the rest. Aside from fights that you can never run away from, like the final boss (I assume), and fights that take place in extremely small spaces, it seems like you could crush almost anything by using a series of periodic, high-intensity group assassinations over multiple rests. In fact, I'm guessing that's how that solo PotD player got through the game with a rogue: abusing Shadowing Beyond.

 

I'm just wondering how I could get to level 5 in PotD with rogues. If I could reach level 6 for the Watcher somehow, I could buy the rest of the party at level 5 right off the bat, but that doesn't seem realistic. So how would we deal with early game encounters with nothing but rogues? I'm thinking blitzkrieg attacks with ranged weapons, taking advantage of rogues' extremely high Accuracy, to pin down key enemies early in combat. Enigma's Charm could also prove game-changing in the early game.

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@semiticgod: bad luck at Searing Falls, those are some great posts and exciting battles. I was following along hoping you would make it; you just managed it against the lions but not against the drakes :(

 

Responding to some of your questions or other things I noticed in the above posts.

 

1) Animats are not difficult or dangerous. Adra animats are tough (huge DR and plenty of endurance); you have to be careful of the ones attacking with melee weapons as they hit hard. The ones attacking from range can be ignored.

 

2) The Caed Nua invasions are random. Go ahead and finish the Raedric quest, the Fampyr stuff does not trigger until Act 3 anyway.

 

3) I notice you have traps in your inventory and quick slots. Use them if you want but I find them largely useless (they do only a fraction of damage when you set them than what they would do if you walked into them). But you can make some copper from selling them.

 

4) Similarly I noticed you are using the Larder Door. I would suggest getting rid and using a normal shield. The bash is bad because it alternates with your regular attack (it is not an extra attack), and it does much less damage than a regular attack. Later on you may find shields that do something more with their bash (e.g. trigger a spell), they can be much more worthwhile.

 

5) There is a way to keep the March Steel Dagger and use it. I am not sure how as I have not done this; I think it may be to do with getting Gordy to tell you the location in advance, and then acquiring the dagger but I don’t really know. Someone else may know or you could try messaging Boeroer (he’s the font of detailed game knowledge).

 

6) Searing Falls :/. Yes, this was a mistake, it is a dangerous area. I quite like the fact it is not signposted as dangerous, has some of that old BG1 charm where your level 2 party can just wander into basilisks or sirines if you go wandering off the beaten path. The drakes are not even the most dangerous opponent on this map (there is a setpiece battle) and what is particularly ironic is that even if you had somehow managed to win every battle on this map, you would not have found the reward you were after (needs minimum Mechanics 10).

 

7) Once you encountered the drakes, Prayer Against Fear (and keeping slots back to cast it multiple times) should have been your number 1 priority; from your description you did not cast it until well into the battle. The accuracy penalties from fear are no joke, and many of your alpha strikes were wasted as a result. I think I have mentioned the optimal order of actions which you should follow for combat success earlier in this thread, but quick reminder: (1) buff defences (2) buff accuracy (3) crowd control (4) damage attacks. Once you start deviating from this and are trying to mix buffing with damaging attacks with disabling actions, you lose cohesion and end up firefighting rather than dictating the terms of the battle. Prayer Against Fear was particularly important here because it affects both (1) and (2) (buffs your defences and avoids the accuracy penalty from fear). I think I also read about your wizards casting Curse of Blackened Sight or Slicken and then later trying to get Arcane Veil up but it was too late. Again, this was wrong order. Arcane Veil has to go first to protect your wizards while they cast the rest; it is an “Instant” cast as well so has very little recovery.

 

8) You mention carrying on the PotD playthrough with reloads feels weird. Nevertheless, I recommend either doing this or dropping down to Hard. If you keep trying everything as no-reload on PotD, each playthrough you may get 5-10% further but every time you come across one of the major difficulty spikes (or make a wrong turning into an area you should not visit until later, such as Searing Falls above) you may have to start all over again. Whereas if you complete a playthrough on Hard or on PotD with reloads, at least you get the majority of your education out of the way and therefore know what to expect when you are trying the no-reload PotD playthrough.

 

9) Regarding your 6 rogues “Shadowing Beyond” strategy. Just be aware that some fights do not end until one side is defeated (i.e. shadowing beyond and running away will not end the fight). It feels too one-dimensional. You can also run away as part of a similar strategy with Fleet Feet potions (so Shadowing Beyond is not the only way). If you are determined to give it a go, you could try getting to level 6 with your PC rogue and story companions (which will be some time in Defiance Bay), then dismissing everyone and hiring the other rogues.

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You can also run away as part of a similar strategy with Fleet Feet potions (so Shadowing Beyond is not the only way).

 

 

I'd be curious to hear what others think of the legitimacy of this tactics (and the related Shadowing Beyond idea). I noticed early on that I could run away from conflicts, end them, and re-engage, whittling away enemy groups while effectively gaining free healing. It's particularly effective if you lure enemies away from their spawn points, insuring they will walk back, allowing free resuscitation of any fallen party members.

 

I found it unsatisfying and exploity. As a matter of fact, when I composed the intro post, I considered signaling this tactic out as an example of something cheesy enough that audience members might find it off putting. In the end, though, I decided to refrain from citing any examples, since I didn't want to canalize player options.

 

I've personally chosen to allow combat to resolve -one way or another- in the interest of avoiding what I see as an exploit of the game's fundamental engagement/recovery system. Are others inclined to see this the same way? 

 

Best,

 

A.

Edited by Alesia_BH
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You can also run away as part of a similar strategy with Fleet Feet potions (so Shadowing Beyond is not the only way).

 

 

I'd be curious to hear what others think of the legitimacy of this tactics (and the related Shadowing Beyond idea). I noticed early on that I could run away from conflicts, end them, and re-engage, whittling away enemy groups while effectively gaining free healing. It's particularly effective if you lure enemies away from their spawn points, insuring they will walk back, allowing free resuscitation of any fallen party members.

 

I found it unsatisfying and exploity. As a matter of fact, when I composed the intro post, I considered signaling this tactic out as an example of something cheesy enough that audience members might find it off putting. In the end, though, I decided to refrain from citing any examples, since I didn't want to canalize player options.

 

I've personally chosen to allow combat to resolve -one way or another- in the interest of avoiding what I see as an exploit of the game's fundamental engagement/recovery system. Are others inclined to see this the same way? 

 

 

Make sence, I'm not fond of such approach either. At the same time we probably don't want to strip player of a ''last resort escape' option completely. Like Frost vs Drakes. Let's say, if you accidently stumble upon an enemy you have no means to defeat right here and now, you'll be allowed to flee and return another day (in some, predefined, distant future). But an approach when you lure creatures one by one from the spawn point to deal with the way you've described it is not allowed.

Edited by Serg BlackStrider
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Yeah. I could imagine using it myself as a desperation escape and reset, if I were late in a run, liked the character, and had no other option. The run would be asterixed, in my head, likely, but I'd probably ascent to the character's entry in the Hall.  (Kind of like the one SCS/Ascension solo NR run where I resorted to using the Rod of Resurrection to heal once during the midgame: She's in the Hall, but that run felt lesser to me, personally)

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This is not a tactic I use; I would not want others to be (ab)using it, but I don’t think you need a blanket ban:

 

1) Running away to fight another day has always been a legitimate no-reload strategy (and a legitimate real-life strategy as well). PoE makes it harder (which is a good thing) but not impossible (also a good thing). So IMO it should be allowed.

 

2) The intention is to run away by exception and in emergencies only. But players have to self-police. If somebody is doing it regularly or deliberately to lure away single enemies from a group then that is very cheesy, unheroic, and you have to question what enjoyment it is giving them. But that’s for them to decide. It’s like in BG where I see (otherwise very respectable) players running up and down stairs to avoid spells being cast at them. I can’t overstate how much I hate this and how ridiculous I think it is, but I just have to ignore it as the choice of individuals.

 

3) In any case I think it would still be very difficult to complete a no-reload playthrough doing this, as some combats do not end until one side is defeated, and it is a high risk tactic that can easily go wrong.

 

4) I also think most of the players undertaking the challenge in this thread would instinctively recognise unworthy game engine abuse and not do it.

 

5) So in conclusion I don’t think we need a hard and fast rule and we should leave it to people to self-police. If we start introducing rules for everything we are on a slippery slope of ending up arguing about what is or is not acceptable rather than just enjoying the game. There’s only a handful of us doing this challenge right now. I don’t think we have an immediate problem. And if it becomes an issue down the line, then maybe we can discuss it?

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