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The Pillars of Eternity No Reload Challenge


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@Alesia_BH: I'm very behind on posting on my current run, a PotD run with another Hearth Orlan cipher. I think I'll start posting tomorrow.

 

@Enuhal: I don't know anything about "builds" in PoE (what on earth is a Cauterizer?), but I see the logic in a low-Constitution Moon Godlike. Since Silver Tide is triggered by the Moon Godlike's Endurance reaching certain percentages, you can make it trigger earlier by giving them lower Constitution. The Moon Godlike can take the hit to their survivability, and the early triggering of Silver Tide will be more likely to save other characters. A Moon Godlike with high Constitution, by contrast, will watch their Silver Tides go wasted, since their comrades will already be dead by the time the 2nd and 3rd Silver Tides arrive.

 

@Jaheiras Witness: That Dragon Thrashing chant seems very powerful indeed! But I don't think it cheapens the challenge or anything like that; you've fought long and hard, and played very smart, to earn that chant. I'm glad to see Jazz Wit (remind me where the name comes from?) finally wading into the fray. I'm still amazed that he can handle ogres and stuff.

 

Those Divine Marks? One of them was wasted? That Combusting Wounds: Pointless- everybody is dead or dying. And Arcadia never got to use her staff either. 

 

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Whoah there, Alena! Chill! They're totally dead already!

There's a meme to that effect:

Edited by semiticgod
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@semiticigod: Developing builds - that is, testing out stat distribution, items, skills and talents for a certain way to approach a class and writing a guide about it online - is what at least 50% of the posts on this forum used to be about. It's basically a favourite activity of the PoE community. A lot of these builds are very specialized, and I've never tried any of them out, but creating them is obviously a lot of fun for a lot of people.

The Cauterizer is a barbarian using the Firebrand spell (usually a druid spell, but there are 2 items that grant you 3 charges each relatively early on in the game) to create a very powerful two-handed fire sword (with 29-44 base damage and a bonus to crit damage) and combining it with the talent Blood Thirst, which allows a barbarian to ignore recovery time after killing an enemy - the idea is to use carnage (the passive every barbarian has that turns every attack into an AoE attack) and this high-damage weapon to get a bunch of kills, triggering blood thirst, which allows for even more attacks and more kills (which is why this build doesn't need high dexterity and can afford to wear plate armor). Here's the link.

https://forums.obsidian.net/topic/106646-class-build-the-cauterizer/

I'm not doing exactly the same thing, but the general idea is comparable.

 

This thread combines years of build-making: https://forums.obsidian.net/topic/85492-the-obsidian-boards-build-list-last-modified-11-nov-18/

Here's the same thread for PoEII: https://forums.obsidian.net/topic/98193-the-obsidian-boards-build-list-last-modified-22-october-2018/

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Pausanias, Coastal Aumaua Fighter, Update 1

 

Previous updates:

 

 

 

Our party makes their way to Anslög's Compass in order to complete A Mother's Plea. First, the sporelings:

 

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Next, the xaurips:

 

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These are actually relatively easy for the party. After setting up a defensive lines with the more sturdy characters, I'm able to apply chill fog and combusting wounds, which is a devastating combination, especially once you get in with carnage, blast attacks and winds of death - all of this is constantly triggering combusting wounds. Also, we have two boreal dwarves, and they are great at taking out wilders anyway.

 

We head back to the Black Meadow to explore the remainder of the area. The only notable battle is against the forest lurkers, and we use combusting wounds + crashed upon the shield to soften them up. All in all, not too much of a problem:

 

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Magran's Fork is next up - wolves don't bother as too much, and we leave the boar battle for last. This time, we approach from the south, luring back our foes, which is quite helpful. Still, while we do quite well over all, we don't have a way to punish disengagement yet, so one of the boars goes wild and attacks Jeanne - which results in her getting knocked out once again:

 

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The Temple of Eothas awaits. I suddenly realize that exploiting chokepoints with a 5 melee party is somewhat difficult. Our wizard does most of the heavy lifting - chill fog + combusting wounds + arcane assault + blast attacks - and we get Jeanne to use an arbalest, have our chanter stand in range for winds of death and summons phantoms from time to time. We also find a fine pike for Catalina - which means we can add carnage into the mix as the range is long enough. Basically, only our monk does absolutely nothing:

 

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In the second level, we get a few injuries as shades decide to throw their ranged ice attacks at weaker party members from time to time:

 

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After resting up, we take down the big skuldr group with both Catalina and Ögedei doing tons of damage with carnage, combusting wounds and the like. This combination of combusting wounds with steady AoE attacks from multiple sources is really something! I like it:

 

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Our party is still level 3, with only Pausanias having reached level 4 (picking up constant recovery). Last time, this is where we went to Caed'Nua - but I'm feeling Raedric this time around. Let's do Lord of a Barren Land a bit earlier and get the whole party to level 4.

 

There is actually a decently reliable way to kill Raedric and his group on low levels (even 3-4) if you have a speedbuff for your tank (possibly more than one), which will allow them to pull the entire group to a chokepoint (a door). Now, Raedric's group has a ton of heaing and some decent ranged damage, so you'd ideally need a few vancian casters to throw in the most powerful AoE spells at their disposal and a few ranged damage dealers to take out key targets. If you don't have enough, the priests and paladins of berath will outheal your damage, and once you have no spells left, the enemy might outlast you. I've done this once on PotD, but this is not the party to try it. Instead, our plan is to not kill Raedric at all - we want to make a deal with him.

 

To that end, we enter through the sewers. The various vessels down here are quite weak, even for our low level party. We have no trouble getting to the animancer - instead of fighting her, we agree to kill Nedmar. However, when exploring the remaining level, we encounter 5 black oozes in a single group! That could be devastating - they deal huge amounts of damage early on, and we have squishy party members. The problem is: It's been ages since I've done this quest at a lower level, so I've forgotten which encounters would actually be challenging. I could've easily skipped that one. In any case, we pull out all the stops - chill fog (they are immune to blindness, I just want the damage ticks for combusting wounds), wounds, assaults, blasting, carnage, soft winds of death while hoping the enemy keeps attacking Pausanias and not anyone else:

 

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We are now out of spells with three enemies still standing (so to speak) - we don't want to go deeper into the room because there might be more enemies, so Friedrich pulls out a fan of flame scroll with great results:

 

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Victory is ours, and we can rest (after taking out another ooze further into the room). Now, we make our way upstairs to the chapel, put on the robes and talk our way past the guards to Nedmar (high resolve is helpful once again) - he is easily slain:

 

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However, to my surprise, killing him turns the whole floor hostile. I didn't expect this (to be fair, I've never allied with the animancer - only with Nedmar) - we lure our first group of enemies to a chokepoint, throwing in our usual array of spells:

 

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The paladins with their plate armor and healing abilities outlast our vancian abilities, but we do have a chanter to finish them off:

 

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We have to fight only a few more weaker groups before making our way back down to the dungeons. The animancer shows us a way to see Raedric without further battles. We quickly come to an agreement:

 

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This does grant our party level 4! We also get enough gold from looting the castle to buy the Belt of the Royal Deadfire Cannoneer for Jeanne (and, later on, the War Club of the Mataru for Jeanne) - the first one we get before fighting Kolsc, so we can use Firebrand for the first time. Kolsc's hideout is actually perfect for chill fog:

 

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Both Jeanne and Catalina deal huge amounts of damage by now:

 

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This battle is quite easy, especially when compared to fighting Raedric.

 

Our level 4 talent choices: WF:Solider for Catalina, WF:Peasant for Chandragupta, Gallant Focus for Jeanne (I usually don't get this one because it doesn't stack with blessing, but for this party, it's going to be great!), Penetrating Blast + Fetid Caress for Ögedei and Weapon and Shield Style (I think I wrote earlier that I got that one at level 2, but in fact I got Ancient Memory back then) + Not Felled by Axe for Friedrich. Right now, Catalina has overtaken Jeanne in terms of damage output (Jeanne was the clear leader early on, but now Carnage is starting to do more work - and I think the difference will only increase once we start using Firebrand more often), and I'm happy with most party members - but I still have no idea what to do with Chandragupta. He isn't very tanky, his damage output is only medium, and he needs to get hit to do anything relevant at all. Maybe things will get better with more levels.

 

Caed Nua awaits!

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Arcadia, Moon-Godlike Wizard: Raedric Hold

 

We did Raedric Hold early this run for one simple reason: we needed the money. The attentive reader will have noticed that we've been using a lot of consumables, notably Scrolls of Defense. Factoring in food and lodging, most of our fights have been break-even endeavors. We've upgraded some equipment, but many of our items are still unenchanted. Further, progress on Caed Nua has lagged: we've only built Brighthollow and the Main Keep. Raedric Hold -done the bloody way- offered financial salvation while also giving us a chance to do a nominal good. And so we did it.

 

We entered the hold by climbing the vines. Since most of our party members are casters, with few to no points in Athletics, over half of the party ended up fatigued. Fortunately, we still had the exact number of rests that we needed, even setting aside the freebie from Nedmar.

 

In the early fights we used our pre-encounter abilities only. Due to our low innate accuracies, per-encounter ability fights are relatively difficult for us. That said, having two Inspiring Radiances and two Interdictions typically gives us just enough buff/debuff power to tilt the balance of power in our favor. We took very virtually no damage in these fights.

 

 

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What damage we did take came from Divine Marks. Pallegina was hit by one soon after we entered the Sanctuary.

 

 

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After that unpleasant experience we made a point of interrupting priests , allowing us to make it to the chapel without further incident.

 

 

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We were free to use our spells in the chapel battle. Our opening here was Cassia, Circle of Protection; Alena, Inspiring Radiance; Arcadia, Arcane Veil->Eldritch Aim; Alikae, Arcane Veil->Eldritch Aim. Pallegina and Eder held position in the doorway. We skipped the beetles to clear the way for party unfriendly AoE spells.

 

 

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Eder took a Divine Mark, losing some health. That was countered with a Potion of Infuse with Vital Essence. We moved to phase two of our battle plan: Chill Fog + Slicken, followed by AoE damage 

 

 

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Time to work some L3s in. Cassia, Dire Blessing; Alena, Pillar of Faith; Alikae, Fireball

 

 

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Finishing with some melee.

 

 

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After collecting the camping gear in the dungeon, we rested. We used per-encounter abilities + Prayer Against Infirmity + Armor of Faith against the vessels.

 

 

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To Osyra. Eder, Wood Beetles; Cassia, Circle of Protection; Alena, Inspiring Radiance; Arcadia, Arcane Veil->Eldritch Aim; Alikae, Arcane Veil->Eldritch Aim

 

 

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After confirming that the beetles were occupying Osrya and her skeleton mage, we focused on the front-liners. Curse of Blackened Sight and Combusting Wounds from Arcadia and Alikae. Iconic Projections from the priests. We had been webbed, but since we had no intention of moving, we chose not to spend an action on remedying that.

 

 

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Osrya's timing was perfect. She finished the beetle in her vicinity just as we had finished the front liners. There's nothing to stop us form unloading on her now. Slicken + Chill Fog->Fireball.

 

 

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Arcadia takes clean-up duty

 

 

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Time for Raedric.

 

 

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I was slightly nervous about this, believe it or not. I've yet to fight Raedric at L5. And while I had every reason to believe it would be a trivial fight, I had some pangs of doubt. We went resource heavy, as a consequence. That was wasteful, I suppose, but it led to a satisfying, injury free fight.

 

Our opening was Eder, Wood Beetles; Pallegina, Scroll of Protection; Cassia, Circle of Protection; Alena, Scroll of Valor; Arcadia, Arcane Veil; Alikae, Arcane Veil (the Scroll of Valor allowed us to skip Eldritch Aim).

 

 

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Cassia finishes up our defensive buffs with Amor of Faith. Alena adds a Dire Blessing. Alikae and Arcadia go Chill Fog + Slicken. Pallegina and Eder wait alongside the beetles, ready to protect the casters.

 

 

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There's a lot of armor on the field, so Alikae drops an Expose Vulnerabilities before we unleash our damage spells. The priests add Interdiction and then start firing off their Iconic Projections.

 

 

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This has become a slaughter.

 

 

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The backline is dead, save an archer. Raedric is dead. Our wizards focus on the front line, starting with Curse of Blackened Sight and Combusting Wounds. The priests keep pumping Iconic Projections.

 

 

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Iconic Projections and a few melee taps end the front liners sooner than expected.

 

 

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Alikae finishes it with Forgiveness. We made one mistake here: Pallegina stepped in Arcadia's Chill Fog which, unbeknownst to me was still active under the Fireball scorch marks. We'll watch out for that in upcoming fights

 

 

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Best,

 

A.

Edited by Alesia_BH
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@Jaheiras Witness: That Dragon Thrashing chant seems very powerful indeed! But I don't think it cheapens the challenge or anything like that; you've fought long and hard, and played very smart, to earn that chant. I'm glad to see Jazz Wit (remind me where the name comes from?) finally wading into the fray. I'm still amazed that he can handle ogres and stuff.

 

 

Indeed, it's been a hard road to get here and the most difficult challenges are still ahead. Everything is easier with Dragon Thrashed, but that doesn't mean it is easy.

 

Other classes also get abilities that are very powerful, e.g. Heart of Fury for a barbarian at level 11, Sacred Immolation for a paladin at level 13. The chanter gets there first though at just level 9 and it is an unlimited resource rather than 1/encounter.

 

Jazz Wit btw is just meant to be an abbreviation of Jaheira's Witness. There's no story or background behind it!

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Arcadia, Moon-Godlike Wizard: Party Status Update!

 

My intention from now on is to do party status reports within every update, like Serg does. But since I hadn't gotten in the habit of taking the screenies I need to do that, the last few posts were missing party info. To redress that, I've composed a stand alone party status update post, with pictures and commentary. Below you'll find our skills, talents, and abilities along with character records and inventories. If you have any questions on the inventories, just ask. Our crew appears below in marching order. First, a few notes: 1) many of the item choices -particularly armor and head gear- were made to match portraits and or backgrounds; 2) we've suffered only one knockout so far (Eder to oozes early, in the Temple of Eothas); 3) the vast majority of our damage has come from Arcadia and Alikae; 4) with the exception of Pallegina and Eder -who spend most of their time standing around, waiting to defend the casters- all of our characters have excellent damage done to damage taken ratios- especially the wizards; 5) I'm pleased with our progress so far, despite the fact that our inventories are bare.

 

Best,

 

A.

 

Eder, Fighter- (lvl 5): Stealth:0; Athletic:7; Lore:4; Mechanics:0; Survival:4; Abilities: Knock Down, Confident Aim, Disciplined Barrage; Talents: Weapon and Shield Style, Weapon Focus: Adventurer

 

Character Record and Inventory

 

https://imgur.com/sWyXDTH

https://imgur.com/w2sodWW

 

Pallegina, Paladin- (lvl 5): Stealth:0; Athletic:7; Lore:4; Mechanics:0, Survival:4;; Abilities: Zealous Focus, Flames of Devotion, Liberating Exhortation; Talents: Weapon and Shield Style, Weapon Focus: Knight

 

Character Record and Inventory

 

https://imgur.com/2ueHgiy

https://imgur.com/UWMeYlg

 

Arcadia, Wizard (lvl 5): Stealth:0; Athletic:2; Lore:8; Mechanics:0; Survival:4; Talents: Arcane Veil, Hardened Veil

 

Level 1 - Concehault's Parasitic Staff, Chill Fog, Spirit Shield, Eldritch Aim; 

Level 2 - Curse of Blackened Sight, Infuse With Vital Essence, Merciless Gaze, Bewildering Spectacle; 

Level 3 - Llengrath’s Displaced Image; Deleterious Alacrity of Motion; Concelhault’s Draining Touch; Expose Vulnerabilities

 

Character Record and Inventory

 

https://imgur.com/XlkOqJT

https://imgur.com/GNBaLlC

 

Alikae, Wizard (lvl 5): Stealth:1; Athletic:0; Lore:2; Mechanics:8; Survival:2; Talents: Arcane Veil; Hardened Veil

 

Level 1 - Fan of Flames, Slicken, Eldritch Aim, Minoletta's Minor Missiles; 

Level 2 - Binding Web, Concelhault's Corrosive Siphon, Combusting Wounds, Mirror Image; 

Level 3 - Fireball, Expose Vulnerabilities, Kalokoth’s Minor Blights; Llengrath’s Displaced Image

 

Character Record and Inventory

 

https://imgur.com/JYee3Fm

https://imgur.com/Hrwgv57

 

Alena, Priest of Wael (lvl 5): Stealth:0; Athletic:2; Lore:8; Mechanics:0; Survival:4; Talents: Interdiction, Inspiring Radiance

 

Character Record and Inventory

 

https://imgur.com/ErSStSD

https://imgur.com/BzNLqni

 

Cassia, Priest of Eothas (lvl 5): Stealth:3; Athletic:1; Lore:7; Mechanics:0; Survival:4; Talents: Interdiction, Inspiring Radiance

 

Character Record and Inventory

 

https://imgur.com/KY2X7xg

https://imgur.com/mK16n1K

Edited by Alesia_BH
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Thanks @Alesia_BH. Good job with Raedric yourself. With me getting to Raedric at level 3-4 (though not killing him) and you taking him down on level 5, I hope someone here will feel inspired to actually kill Raedric pre Caed Nua (as mentioned, it's certainly possible using a speedbuff and a chokepoint). Siding with Raedric isn't even going to be the worst thing I plan to do with Pausanias. He is certainly going to be quite practical (in the same way the practical incarnation in Planescape: Torment is). I'm hoping to show how some of the "evil" decisions in the game work out for no-reload gameplay (though I'm not always going to take them - only when it suits Pausanias' purpose), since in this thread, so far everyone is pretty much going for a good playthrough.

 

There are some games where I can never get myself to play evil, but PoE isn't one of them. Even when trying to be good, things often turn out pretty terrible, so it feels like being selfish doesn't make too much of a difference for the world at large. Also, interestingly enough, you get a lot of positive Defiance Bay reputation for siding with Raedric - the city likes for the player to uphold the power of local lords, no matter how cruel they are (same is true for the Blood Legacy quest later on, though I'm propably not going to help that lord - instead I might side with the Skaen cultists).

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Jazz Wit, Solo Chanter (Hard), Part 19

 

Level 6 of the Endless Paths was cleared:

 

 

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I thought about carrying on a few more levels but decided against it. The next level has Adragan (including 3 at the end battle I think); I could probably take them on with scrolls of protection and defence, but it would be an unnecessary risk and I vowed not to go there after the lions in Woodend Plains. Better to wait a few more levels and do it when I'm stronger. Also my stash is fit to burst with all the loot from the levels I have cleared (the weapons list runs into page 6), which is noticeably slowing the load times. So I need to find somewhere to sell it.

 

Speaking of Adragans, we avoid this one in Stormwall Gorge:

 

 

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But we do clear out the Pwgra near Lle a Rhemen:

 

 

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I helped Nyfre escape from Dyrford which Medreth was not too happy about:

 

 

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Been a long time since I last fought wolves (Valewood way back in Act 1 I reckon).

 

 

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Now you see them...

 

 

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Now you don't...

 

 

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Didn't even have to swing at this Spider Queen (Dragon Thrashed killed her before I could reach her):

 

 

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Poor Korgrak didn't stand a chance.

 

 

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The Wizard's Double and Scroll of Defence raised by DEF to 150; that ain't easy to hit.

 

I couldn't even see what was happening in this battle:

 

 

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So much going on and too many enemies surrounding me in a little corner. So I just buffed my defences and let Dragon Thrashed do its thing.

 

Nice new pair of boots (but I still don't have a belt!)

 

 

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Defeating the bandits to complete Nest Egg...

 

 

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...got me to level 10  :yes: I increased Mechanics to 10, took the ogre summoning invocation and the Scion of Flame talent.

 

Updated character record:

 

 

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Divinegon, Hearth Orlan Cipher

Explorer from the Living Lands

Difficulty: Path of the Damned

Settings: Maim before death; injuries on zero Endurance

Might 18

Constitution 6

Dexterity 18

Perception 20

Intellect 10

Resolve 6

 

Divinegon (dih-vih-nih-gahn) is a lazy wanderer who slowly meanders wherever fate takes her, not minding where she ends up or how long it takes to get there. I've still got the same portrait for my Watcher.

 

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Her lazy, sleepy approach to life is only there to justify her low Constitution and low Resolve, which I needed to drop to crank up her Might, Dexterity, and Perception (I really want that reliability for PotD mode). It would actually be better if she was a Wood Elf, since that would give me another +5 to Accuracy when using ranged weapons, but I like Orlans more. There's something about this fuzzy blonde gnome critter that I like.

 

By the way, I was wrong about the price you get from selling Gaun's Pledge. Selling it to Heodan at the start of the game gets you 1,667 copper pieces. It's very much worth the trade, because the ring itself is largely worthless (the healing effect is pretty crummy).

 

Anyway, this time, I haven't dropped Intellect. While Divinegon is primarily going to be a damage dealer, there are some very, very important disablers we need for the early game, and I want normal durations for them. Whisper of Treason is a very cheap charm effect we can spam relentlessly as long as we fire an arrow every once in a while. The effect is a huge game-changer, few early-game enemies have strong Will saves, and it only costs 10 Focus--very low-cost for such a reliable and effective spell.

 

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One of the things I plan on doing differently in this run is using slow-firing weapons to generate gobs of Focus early on in fights. Right now, we don't have many such weapons, but even a simple crossbow is quite deadly in the hands of an offensive-oriented cipher. More importantly, it's satisfying to land those higher-damage hits.

 

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The prologue isn't too much trouble; I think you need a weak Watcher and some very bad luck for it to go poorly, assuming you're making full use of Calisca and Heodan's abilities (and assuming both are in the party). By the time Divinegon sneaks through the wilderness straight to the inn at the Gilded Vale, we've gathered enough stray loot to collect 2,500 copper in all.

 

But I won't be recruiting any custom characters yet, because this part of the run happened before @Alesia_BH pointed out that creating them early was more efficient. If it looks like I'm ignoring prior advice early in this run, it's because I hadn't gotten it at the time. So right now, I've only got Eder and Aloth on the team.

 

After dying very early on a couple times in PotD mode during my Moon Godlike paladins run, I'm very cautious about early game fights, since a lot of them are deceptively dangerous. I dip into the temple of Eothas, but only long enough for the easiest fight in the entire dungeon. Divinegon, now at level 3, deploys her newfound spell, Amplified Thrust. As I've probably said before, I really like this spell--the burst damage is fantastic, and the knockback is great for safely breaking engagement for endangered allies.

 

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To maximize her Focus gain and damage output, Divinegon is wearing simple clothing and switches from a crossbow to a scepter in combat. I used to prefer wands for ciphers, but scepters deal slashing/crushing damage, which I think is better than piercing/crushing damage, particularly since crossbows, arbalests, and firearms already deal piercing damage. As strong as she is, we're not remotely tough enough to handle wolves or bandits or the like, so I recruit Durance and we make our way to Caed Nua while studiously avoiding every fight along the way--except for a lone troll on the main road, which can be safely kited until Divinegon has enough Focus to paralyze it with Mental Binding.

 

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Reaching Caed Nua gets us some level ups, and Eder chooses Confident Aim (I didn't know what else to pick, so I chose the safest option) while Aloth learns Combusting Wounds and Curse of Blackened Sight. The blindness spell is the most important, and from what I can tell, Blackened Sight is easily the best level 2 wizard spell. Imposing area-effect, party-friendly -25 Accuracy on a failed Will save is crippling for most enemy groups, even late in the game.

 

I've learned to fear wolves, and I've also learned to be extremely generous with per-rest abilities despite getting so accustomed to not using them in my first no-reload run. When we tackle the wolf pack in Valewood, or whatever the area with the kidnapped cook is called, we lure them a short ways away so Durance, Aloth, and Divinegon can get Consecrated Ground (a great long-term investment in healing), Blackened Sight, and Whisper of Treason off the ground. I'll often lure enemies a short distance, just to buy us an extra second of buffing time.

 

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The fight actually takes some time, but Consecrated Ground heals our scratches, and we come out in good condition. Once we're rested up, we go fight the Xaurips and duck into the bear cave just long enough to get the 50 XP from discovering the new map. We use the same strategy against the bandits, and Divinegon shows off her Amplified Thrust with her biggest hit yet.

 

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After selling off some loose gear (Kana's estoc and Durance's robe are great sources of money), we wrestle with some small wolf packs before making our way to the boars. I fail to control the assault, unfortunately, and Divinegon comes under heavy pressure when I let the boars spill past our tanks. Durance hides her with Withdraw, one of the very, very few escape options available in PoE.

 

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The duration is much longer than we need it to be, however. While Divinegon is safely locked up, the rest of the party struggles to make progress, and by the time Divinegon breaks free to save the day, Aloth has already gotten crushed in spite of his Wizard's Double spell, and Kana had to replace 3 skeletons.

 

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Nearby, Ludrana almost kills Kana with Minor Missiles, who recovers with Second Wind, and Aloth survives a graze from Necrotic Lance, a spell that could easily have killed him in one hit if Ludrana had gotten a better roll (I've seen it happen before).

 

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Luckily, Divinegon charmed one of the paladins early on and Eder knocked the other one down, which means that no one in the party takes enough damage to suffer a knock out--though Ghost Blades brings several of us awfully close!

 

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In the end, Kana stuns Ludrana with a wave invocation and Divinegon paralyzes the surviving paladin.

 

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Down at the beach, we tackle a bunch of Xaurips who would normally pose a substantial threat to a level 3 party. But Whisper of Treason really screws with them, and it lets us partially remove the threat of paralysis attacks from the Xaurip Skirmishers.

 

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Notice that our charmed Xaurip Skirmisher is already blinded--Aloth's Blackened Sight spell appears to come out faster than Whisper of Treason, and I haven't been practicing good timing to make sure that we only charm critters that resisted the blindness spell. Divinegon discovers that even the paladins, the Xaurip Champions, are pretty easy to charm--I think their Will defense is a 51, which Divinegon can actually break.

 

Feeling confident about our successes against the weakest enemies in PoE, we stroll down to the Guls near the shore. Guls and other Vessels are immune to charm, but Mental Binding can still paralyze them just fine, albeit at a much higher Focus cost.

 

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In BG, undead were immune to cold damage and paralysis, but Mental Binding and Chill Fog work just fine on undead critters in PoE. Once we grab the Fine Arbalest, greatly improving Divinegon's Round 1 shot, we stomp on some spiders in the temple of Eothas by using a choke point and applying Chill Fog. I go no further, however; I still want that +2 Intellect hood (I forget what it's called and where it's found) before dealing with the Will o' Wisps, and I have no plans for tackling the Skuldrs anytime soon. I'd rather stick with safer encounters.

 

But when we fight the bandits guarding the stolen merchandise from the shop at Gilded Vale, an encounter I thought we could handle safely, a long-range druid spell reminds me that Divinegon is a glass cannon that needs to be kept far from the fray.

 

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But Durance is fully capable of keeping Divinegon in good health, and a strong hit with her arbalest on the first round means that Divinegon can cast Whisper of Treason twice in a row. The crowd quickly turns majority green.

 

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The tide of battle completely shiftsin our favor, and soon all that's left are the enemy archers, who are no more sturdy in close combat than Divinegon. And unlike our party during the fight with the boars, these bandits have no priests to bail out a fragile character.

 

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Druids are scary. It's weird that druids haven't shown up much as party members in this challenge so far, considering how dangerous they've proven as enemies.

 

I don't have any wacky long-term plans or weird tricks planned for this run. I've decided that it's more important for me to better ground myself in basic PoE technical knowledge before I try any experimental strategies (my usual preference) in a higher difficulty setting like PotD.

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Druids are scary. It's weird that druids haven't shown up much as party members in this challenge so far, considering how dangerous they've proven as enemies.

 

 

Druids are scary. They're very good at applying hard to resist, party wide, DoT effects. Druid fights must be handled with care.

 

Serg is running with a druid PC and Enuhal had a player created NPC druid along for the ride. Druids are fairly well represented in the challenge, I'd say. 

 

If they've seemed underutilized, that's probably because I, personally, haven't used one yet. The only reason for that is that I find Hirvias kind of creepy in a Jan Jansen sort of way. I probably will run a druid relatively soon, though- possibly in my next run.

 

Best,

 

A.

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Arcadia, Moon-Godlike Wizard: The Man Who Waits

 

I don't usually do The Man Who Waits early on story grounds, but since we intend to use both Ravenwing and Blaidh Golan in this run, I couldn't resist.

 

This went smoothly, unsurprisingly.

 

Our first move was to duck into Uscgrim's cell. Then, we got to work, leading with our standard opening: Cassia, Inspiring Radiance; Alena, Circle of Protection; Arcadia, Arcane Veil->Eldritch Aim; Alikae, Arcane Veil->Eldritch Aim. That was followed by Interdiction + Dire Blessing from the priests and Slicken + Chill Fog from the wizards. 

 

 

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Next: Alikae, Fireball; Cassia, Iconic Projection; Alena, Iconic Projection; Arcadia, Arcane Assault (Arcadia's book is still light on AoE stuff, in the interest of nudging her towards melee)

 

 

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And that's all it took! Slight damage to Eder and Pallegina due to Infestation of Maggots and Deep Wounds. No injuries aside from that.

 

 

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Arcadia, who will be taking Weapon Focus: Noble, took Ravenwing. Alikae, who is a roguish, outdoorsy drifter, took Blaidh Golan.

 

More updates soon.

 

Best,

 

A.

Edited by Alesia_BH
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I’ve been writing this post for a while and the mention of druids has made me finish it.

This is my ranking of classes for solo no-reload play. I wanted to write it out to give others considering a solo attempt something to think about; and also to give myself a list of other classes to try. And by putting Rogues as bottom, when I know Alesia has mentioned that will be her first attempt, I am inviting a “take that” smackdown when she waltzes through with ease :)

All personal opinion, feel free to agree or disagree and provide your reasons ;)

The A Team: Eminently Possible (Chanter, Paladin, Wizard)

Chanter: the class that would dual wield shields if it were possible. Never needs to swing a weapon, can spend all day using buff after buff. Phantom summon carries you through the early game and gets gamechanging ‘Dragon Thrashed’ chant as soon as level 9. Summary: #effortless

Paladin: the class with the best defences. Can pick up Outworn Buckler for even more very early on too. Lots of good abilities at lower levels although can run out of anything good to pick in the mid-levels. Gamechanging ability arrives at level 13, which is quite a long wait. Offence is limited until then and can result in tedium. Summary: #bored

Wizard: the class that can do anything. So fragile without spells but a juggernaut if you manage to get your buffs up. Overall strongest class offensively and has so much variety. But requires constant resting in early game and can be high risk: if you get it wrong initially, you do not have much time to put things right. Summary: #micromanagement

The B Team: Challenging in a Good Way (Cipher, Monk)

Cipher: the super cool class with super cool abilities. If you had unlimited focus this would be the god class. But you don’t, so it’s nicely balanced. Requires the most careful balance of attack vs defence to be successful. This class is the strongest against a single powerful foe and if you select the right talents (i.e. Psychic Backlash + Brutal Backlash) you can go for a cup of tea when fighting dragons and come back to find the dragon is dead. Summary: #too-sexy-for-my-shirt

Monk: the weirdo masochist class that gets stronger when you beat it up. Great offensive flexibility with AoE attacks, ranged attacks, and lots of modals. Struggles a little defensively and has to really manage incoming damage (you want to be taking constant damage to generate and replenish wounds but not so much as to put you in danger). The class for whom combat positioning matters most. Summary: #hit-me-baby-one-more-time

The C Team: Challenging in a Bad Way (Barbarian, Druid, Fighter, Priest)

Barbarian: the class that just isn’t suited to solo no-reload. Such a fun class and offensively devastating when you get it right. But you have the defences of a kitten and some of your abilities make your defences even weaker. So you are left to rely on endurance, health and healing to survive, and that simply ain’t good enough or reliable enough (trading damage has rarely been a successful no-reload strategy). And if that wasn’t bad enough, you can’t even see your health/endurance bars while frenzied i.e. you are trying to manage the resource-of-last-resort which you cannot even see. Summary: #blaze-of-glory

Druid: the class that is comparable to a Wizard offensively but does not have the Wizard’s defences. One of the strongest classes for AoE effects, both disabling and very damaging. Shapeshifting also provides burst damage. But has very little in the way of defensive spells and talents which makes it very fragile for solo no-reload. Summary: #house-of-cards

Fighter: the all-rounder class that isn’t good enough defensively if you prioritise offence and isn’t good enough offensively if you prioritise defence. One of the few classes that has to rely almost exclusively on weapons for damage (supplemented with scrolls), and whose abilities are small incremental weapon improvements with just a sprinkling of special attacks. A defensive build can be unconquerable but hits like a feather; an offensive build can be dangerous but vulnerable. Finding the sweet spot is an exercise in frustration which makes you wonder what this class does that another class doesn’t do better. Summary: #why?

Priest: the class that is awesome at high levels but a liability at low levels. If you could start the game at level 7 this class would be near the top of the list. Has so many amazing enhancement spells that you can just cast and cast until you are a god dishing out judgement to mortals. But one of the weakest classes at lower levels because of the sheer number of spells that you don’t yet have which you need to be effective. Also needs constant rests like other traditional casters. Summary: #tomorrow-never-comes

The D Team: Disclaimer - At Own Risk (Ranger, Rogue)

NB: both these classes can be used quite successfully if you want to abuse the game engine (pet-death abuse for ranger, shadowing beyond abuse for rogue); I’m assuming you are trying to win fairly.

Ranger: the class that divides its strength to no good effect. The ranger is like a weak fighter with a pet to compensate the difference. The abilities and talents are also divided between the ranger and pet, so you always have two weaker parts rather than one stronger whole. The pet can be built to do tremendous damage but cannot take any heat, so will be quickly knocked out in any difficult battle leaving the weakened grieving ranger alone against the odds. Summary: #doomed

Rogue: the class that should be perfect for solo no-reload but isn’t. Bad class design, terrible defences, one-trick pony of single target damage. Traps set by player are also pathetic compared to what those traps do when triggered by a player. Let down by bad implementation and poor abilities at higher levels. Weakest class by a distance. Summary: #shame

Edited by Jaheiras Witness
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Arcadia, Moon-Godlike Wizard: Assassin Ambush

 

Shortly after completing The Man Who Waits, Arcadia and her team were ambushed by assassins. Twice. I'll just post on one of these fights, since they were very similar. There were no injuries to speak of in either, but one was sloppy. I'll post the sloppy one.

 

The first ambush was slightly inelegant, since I had wasted time positioning the wizards and then lost my rhythm with them. Fortunately, the priests bailed us out, allowing us to prevail without incident.

 

Here we see the opening.

 

 

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The problem here is that neither Arcadia nor Alikae are in position to apply their AoE damage spells to the bulk of our enemies and getting them in position would put them uncomfortably close to our foes. Our solution was to fire up Llengrath's to supplement our veils, but that took time.

 

 

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Finally, the wizards get in the game. Their characteristic coordination is nowhere to be seen, however: Alikae's Slicken, for example, was wasted due to needless delay. Thankfully, the priest are already making progress with their projections.

 

 

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By the time the wizards have gotten it together, executing Binding Web + Noxious Burst, soon to be followed by Chill Fog + Fireball, the priest have already effectively won the fight with their projections.

 

 

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The priests end it while our wizards look on in shame. Just one of those days, I guess.

 

 

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Best,

 

A.

Edited by Alesia_BH
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@Jaheira's Witness: Strangely enough, my only two solo runs so far were done a) with a ranger and b) with a rogue. Granted, these were on easy difficulty, so no class would really struggle all that much.

 

@semiticgod: I always have a druid in my usual custom parties (this is my first run without a druid on PotD) - the AoE disables, especially relentless storm, solve a ton of potential difficulties, for example against large groups of dangerous spellcasters in the mid/lategame.

 

Pausanias, Coastal Aumaua Fighter, Update 2

 

Previous updates:

 

 

 

The Caed Nua courtyard is cleared and we rest up before entering the main hall, also snacking on some cookies. We try to apply combusting wounds and go for blast+carnage hits (using firebrand) as fast as possible, and our damage is good. However, despite him having a potion of minor recovery active, Pausanias gets stunlocked in such a way by phantoms that he can't even activate his second wind, despite trying to do so when he was well above half of his endurance - without any secondary healing abilities from other party members, I can't keep him alive. Luckily, the enemy threat is almost gone at this point as well:

 

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This would've been a fairly clean victory if I'd just gotten the one second needed to activate the athletics ability:

 

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Also, just to show how powerful Catalina already is with her firebrand weapon + carnage:

 

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Casual 113 damage with a single hit on level 4.

 

Things don't go according to plan against Maerwald: Instead of running past the slow blights, the old watcher stays in his doorway, while the spirits follow the party. I can actually only attack Maerwald with one party member in this position, and Jeanne - the unlucky candidate - does some very good damage, but gets taken out. However, Catalina is able to follow up and take down the enemy while the others deal with the blights:

 

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We enter Defiance Bay and leave right away to pick up A Call to Court and sneak past a few enemies to enter Dyrford Village - getting some extra exploration experience and taking our first step in getting the Doemenels to like us by using our high resolve to lie to Nyfre and send her to her death, thus completing Cat and Mouse. Back in the city, it's time to pick up a bunch of quests - the ones with a possible peaceful resolution are done first, such as Rogue Knight, A Call to Court (we need that scepter for our blast build on Ögedei), Brave Derrin (we get the guilty party to bribe us instead of fighting them), Hard Feelings and Something Secret.

 

Next up, we finish At All Costs by killing Verzano, getting us another invitation to the Doemenels, which allows us to get the letter for "A Two Story Job" without fighting. Now, Jeanne shows us her burglary skills:

 

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The Doemenels are happy and give us The Changing of the Guard, which is easily done and provides Pausanias with a new armor - and the party with a nice amount of gold. After completing Built to Last (luring out our foes out of the their room to get a better opportunity for AoE spells), we end up buying the Forgemaster's Gloves and Shod in Faith (later on we also get Shatterstar and the Company Captain's Cap for Pausanias). Some quests for which only one battle against a relatively easy group of enemies is required are next - with The Parable of Wael being one of the first:

 

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We do A Return to Court (bribing the captain), Supply and Demand (we are threatening enough to avoid the battle at the end), Far from Home (high resolve is helpful), His Old Self (we shamelessly make a deal with the Purnisc impersonator to get our own private svef dealer), The Theorems of Pandgram, All Hands on Deck and The Forgotten.

 

Clandestine Cargo is the last one for now. None of the enemies are too challenging:

 

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The party has reached level 6. Level 7 will be a big one for a few characters. For now, we've added the following talents:

Pausanias: Vigorous Defense, Superior Deflection

Jeanne: Dirty Fighting, Vicious Fighting

Ögedei: Expose Vulnerabilities, Minor Blights, Alacrity of Motion, Dangerous Implements

Catalina: One Stands Alone, Veteran's Recovery

Friedrich: One Dozen Stood, At the Sound of his Voice, Superior Deflection

Chandragupta: Stunning Blow, Veteran's Recovery

 

The new abilities have slotted in nice into our tactics: Vigorous Defense is used usually at the start of combat against the first assault of enemy abilities and spells, Expose Vulnerabilities is thrown into our already pretty devastating AoE mix, At the Sound of his Voice is an awesome way to increase our carnage/blast damage and Stunning Blow means that Chandragupta can now finally do something useful without wounds - only now does it feel like he really starts affecting the battlefield.

Edited by Enuhal
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Arcadia, Moon-Godlike Wizard: The Final Act

 

The battle with Lumdala at the conclusion of The Final Act was our most challenging fight in some time. That isn't saying much, though seeing as how was haven't suffered a knockout or taken a non-trivial injury since the Temple of Eothas. There were no knockouts here, and very little red, in the end, but Cassia was disabled briefly and she did take some damage.

 

Standard opening (I'll skip the rundown since I assume everyone knows how this works by now).

 

 

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That was followed by Curse of Blackened Sight, to aid our front liners, and an Interdiction from Cassia, resulting in a psychic backlash that left her stunned.

 

 

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Alena carries on without her partner, landing an Iconic Projection. The wizards get ready to add Chill Fog + Fireball.

 

 

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Cassia is back. We're at full strength again.

 

 

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Lumdala falls, but Cassia has taken an arrow with Deep Wounds. Rough fight for her, comparatively speaking.

 

 

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Alena tosses Cassia a Holy Radiance as Arcadia and Alikae end it with a second Chill Fog + Fireball salvo.

 

 

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Best,

 

A.

Edited by Alesia_BH
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Arcadia, Moon-Godlike Wizard: Undying Heritage Part 1

With most of the party at level 6, Arcadia and her crew felt ready to take on the vessels of Heritage Hill. I'll cover the Undying Heritage Quest in two parts and then follow with a stand alone post on Missing Sentries. Note that despite our heavy use of spells, we did not leave the area to rest or proffer additional camping equipment.

In the opening skeleton fight, we shrugged off an opening Minoletta's barrage and then closed without significant injury.

Here we see the party taking its standard buffs while the skeletons, enjoying a terrain advantage, unload their Minoletta's. The wood beetles took the brunt of the damage, but Alena was hurt, too.

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The wizards flank west to neutralize the enemy wizards as Cassia fires up a Consecrated Ground in defense of Alena.

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The enemy wizards are down now. Alena is healthy and safe. The priests and warriors finish the remaining frontliners while Arcadia takes care of the last archer.

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After completing the opening fight, we camped, taking accuracy bonus v vessel all around. We replenished our camping supplies with the near by freebie.

The minor encounters and the Valtas estate battles were fought with per rest abilities, supplemented with Prayer Against Infirmity. Pallegina required a Potion of Infuse with Vital Essence by the end.

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In the final fight before the tower battles, we tossed a few spells. We didn't need them, but we had some to spare. We used Curse of Blackened Sight and Concelhault's Corrosive Siphon.

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We rested before engaging the area's focal battle at the base of the tower, taking advantage of the freebie camping supplies near the Valtas estate.

We fought the tower battle at the top of the ramp. Our recently acquired adra beetle was positioned over the ramp, facilitating use of its lightning spells. Note that we worked Armor fo Faith back into the mix this time, since our enemies took some time to close, granting us the luxury of time.

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Adra beetle gets the party started.

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Now its a full-out air war. The vessels can't win.

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Cassia refreshes our Inspiring Radiance as we prepare to finish.

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In to the tower we go!

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Best,

A.

Edited by Alesia_BH
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Divinegon, Hearth Orlan Cipher

 

We fought some trolls in an area whose name I don't know (I still don't have a lot of names and places down), and Whisper of Treason proves capable of completely fending off enemy pressure. Trolls move slowly, and while you can't kite them as easily when they come in groups, a single charmed troll is enough to keep the others occupied. Notice Kana summoning skeletons--this method of fighting is very safe, but also very slow.

 

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Divinegon's high Might, Perception, and Dexterity let her build up Focus quickly, which means she can deploy multiple charm and paralyze spells in every fight. Her Accuracy is sky-high; she can even break the Will defenses of enemy priests.

 

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Finally, we hunt down the +2 Intellect hood, which temporarily goes to Eder so we can tank the Will o' Wisps back at the temple of Eothas without worrying about our tanks getting confused. Funny thing is, it doesn't appear necessary--Divinegon can break the difficulty just by charming the Will o' Wisps.

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That's the nice thing about Poe: immunities are very scarce, which means disablers never become completely useless. In BG, critters had all sorts of immunities that made little sense and weren't even displayed (why would a dragon be immune to Slow?), and certain bosses were immune to basically everything besides damage.

 

I finally tackle the Skuldrs--not because I had any special tools to deal with them, but just because the party felt a little tougher overall. Both of our tanks got stunned on the first round, but Whisper of Treason takes the pressure off our tanks. Charm just doe so much to change the opening rounds of combat.

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The other Skuldrs in the south are tougher, but blindness keeps our tanks safe and charm turns back the Skuldrs who reached our weaker characters. We failed to use a choke point to control enemy movements, but charm was enough to compensate.

 

We don't do anything downstairs, but merely entering the area gets us enough XP to bump Divinegon up to level 4!

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Divinegon learns Mind Blades to help us with larger hordes of weaker enemies. It becomes relevant soon after, when we discover that the Sporelings in the seaside cave are immune to charm. Like with the Will o' Wisps, Eder stays at the front with the hood on to block confusion effects.

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Durance is providing support with Consecrated Ground, and he pitches in an Iconic Projection to help clear the field early. When we finally reach the Dank Spores, Divinegon switches to Amplified Thrust to speed up the kills.

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Finally, the rest of the party hits level 4. Aloth learns Arcane Veil, Eder takes Two Weapon Style to improve his dual-wielding with hatchets, and Kana takes Envenomed Strike just to try it out (I don't plan on keeping him around much longer). We add a single custom character, a Moon Godlike priest named Zovai, but I don't have a screenshot for her status at level 3.

 

Zovai has low Constitution so her Silver Tide will trigger earlier and keep our other party members safer, and she has low Perception because I don't plan on using a lot of offensive priest spells. She's designed to serve as a secondary tank and cast buffing spells; she's not there to take offensive action.

 

Time to take on Caed Nua! The Phantoms no longer seem as threatening; they have much less Endurance than I thought. Divinegon takes it down to Near Death with her opening shot from the Fine Arbalest and boosts her Focus to 41.

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We can't stop the enemy from stunning Kana, but Whisper of Treason takes over the second, uninjured Phantom. The biggest threats, the Phantoms, are already mostly neutralized.

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We put down the first Phantom, isolate the second, and bring it down with the help of Amplified Thrust.

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One of the other fights adds a Will o' Wisp and an Earth Blight to the equation, which increases the pressure on the party but doesn't substantially alter the situation--we can still screw with the enemy's functioning using Whisper of Treason. Eder gets confused by the Will o' Wisp, since I've taken the hood off of him (I didn't know there were Will o' Wisps around here in PotD mode), and we discover that confused party members are treated as enemies for the purposes of our damage spells: Mind Blades, a party-friendly spell, hits our own fighter.

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Zovai gets stun-locked due to her low Constitution, but by the time it happens, we've already broken the enemy's strength with Whisper of Treason and Divinegon's powerful strikes with her scepter.

 

But the next fight is much tougher: we have three Shadows and two Will o' Wisps along with twin Phantoms, and a low attack roll means that Divinegon only grazes with her opening arbalest attack. Since the fight happens in an open area (I didn't really know where all the enemies were; I only knew where the first group was), we haven't cornered our party to protect our spellcasters, and we quickly get surrounded. After a poorly-aimed Blackened Sight spell and multiple bad rolls on Whisper of Treason that win us exactly zero charmed critters, the enemy strikes at our heart with full Accuracy, and Durance goes down in seconds.

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The fact that Whisper of Treason can be cast multiple times at low cost means that we get multiple chances to charm enemies, but there's still a very small chance that several of them will fail in succession.

 

Kana, barely avoiding a stun attack, summons a Phantom of his own, while Divinegon switches from Whisper of Treason to her scepter in an attempt to bring down a Phantom more reliably. With Minor Missiles from Aloth, we slay an enemy Phantom, while Kana's summoned Phantom slays a Shadow, but the remaining enemy Phantom is still in good condition, and Kana's defenses aren't strong enough to resist getting stunned forever.

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Zovai's healing spells just barely keep Kana alive, and while the Phantom keeps targeting Kana, we have time to grind it down.

 

It's an important lesson: Whisper of Treason can break certain encounters, but on the off chance that multiple charm attempts fail, the fight will end up much more deadly than previous fights, increasing the risk that the player underestimates the danger. If you discover an offensive strategy that establishes an early advantage in combat, bear in mind that attack rolls are subject to chance. An offensive-oriented strategy might seem unbeatable 90% of the time, but in the other 10%, it will fail completely, and you need to plan for that 10%; not the 90%.

 

We upgrade Divinegon's scepter with the Fine and Corrosive Lash, an important boost to our primary attack when Whisper of Treason fails. But for the final tussle with Spirits, inside the castle, we have a better strategy: since we have a narrow corridor and a straight stream of enemies in this fight, we can establish an early advantage by blasting the enemy with two Fan of Flames scrolls by our two tanks, Eder and Kana. This comes in addition to a Chill Fog by Aloth and a crossbow bolt by Kana (learning from other no-reloaders, I've adopted crossbows and arbalests over firearms on the ground that they're more reliable). The Fans of Flames are devastating, and due to the enemy's positioning in this fight, the coverage is extensive as well.

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Eder does get stunned, but the scrolls severely weaken the enemy, and another one is another to break them. Aloth finishes them off.

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We get Whispers of Yenwood, which goes to Zovai simply to improve her low Constitution. I dropped her Constitution to make Silver Tide happen earlier, but that reasoning is more of a "low Constitution isn't that bad, so it's worth the cost for a Moon Godlike" as opposed to a "low Constitution is actually better." Besides, Whispers of Yenwood is a slower weapon, and I like my frontliners to be using faster weapons, since slower weapons involve fewer attack rolls and therefore a greater chance of multiple consecutive misses.

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I have a habit of making long posts, so I keep having to split my posts in two so I don't go over the image limit.

 

Back to the temple of Eothas! Now that we've established that we can handle Spirits at Caed Nua, we know it's safe (or at least not unwise) to tackle the ones at the temple. We get better luck with Whisper of Treason, so there are no close calls.

 

I was a little concerned about the Skuldrs, but they have worse Will defenses than the Spirits. Divinegon can easily charm even the strongest of them. They still last a little while, but that just means Kana has time to summon a Phantom to stun-lock them.

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Then we get a wakeup call. The Spirits at the temple are much tougher than the ones at Caed Nua--there are Shades here in addition to the Shadows, and apparently Shades have a powerful ranged cold attack. They target our weakest party member and bring Divinegon within inches of death.

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We heal her quickly, which is just enough to save her from another cold attack from the second Shade. They don't cast it again, however, and with only three enemies on the map and no disabled party members, we crush the Shades before they can cause us any more trouble.

 

It isn't long before we run into another couple of Shades, however, and these ones come bolstered by more Shadows. Once again, they target Divinegon, and once again, Divinegon barely survives the two successive attacks by quickly healing in between them. But we're still in trouble: one of the Shades is heading straight for Divinegon, and I don't want to know what their melee attacks can do.

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Mercifully, we just barely charm the Shade approaching Divinegon. It's just a graze, but it's long enough to dodge the threat of a sudden death, since our Consecrated Ground spell will keep healing our cipher.

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The other Shade is still hostile, however, and easily lands an alarming hit on Divinegon.

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But Kana's Phantom makes it to the Shade and lands a stun effect. Divinegon has a chance to escape without triggering a disengagement attack!

 

But she doesn't make it more than a few steps before the other Shade recovers from charm and immediately nails her with another ranged attack, and now her Health as well as her Endurance is dangerously low. Keeping Divinegon in the fight is no longer realistic; we have to hide her with Withdraw.

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Without Divinegon's spells and scepter, the party is much weaker offensively, and actually killing the Shades is extremely difficult. Aloth burns his spells and our Phantom and fighters apply pressure, but they only kill a single Shade before Withdraw's lengthy duration finally expires. Divinegon is back in danger, and the odds of her surviving another ranged attack are slim.

 

Desperate to end the fight quickly but low on Focus, Divinegon resorts to a Minor Missiles scroll. The extra boost is just enough to bring down the Shade!

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That was much uglier than I thought it would be. We really aren't great against ranged spells; Divinegon's low Constitution really puts her at risk and forces our other party members to look after her.

 

Before we face Maerwald, I finally replace Kana, Durance, and Aloth with some custom party members I like more. Eder is our only non-custom character, and he's only sticking with us until we get Pallegina.

 

We have a more balanced party this run. First, we have Mora Tai, an Aumaua paladin with high Perception (again, I want that reliability) and otherwise balanced stats, who is there for tanking, Liberating Exhortation, and the Zealous Endurance aura to pair with Pallegina's Zealous Focus. He's just there to keep the rest of us safe.

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Next is Zovai, our high-Intellect Moon Godlike priest with low Constitution, boosted by Whispers of Yenwood. She's just there for support; she's not going to be doing a lot of fighting.
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Third is Frost, a high-Perception Hearth Orlan rogue, who will be using ranged weapons and dual-yielding to deal quick and reliable damage. Her defenses are absolute crap, but I want to explore rogues more, and I've learned to wait a moment before deploying a rogue to make sure Frost can strike at an enemy's side without drawing attention to herself. Notice her ludicrously high Accuracy values.

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Our last custom character is Rius, a high-Intellect, high-Perception Wood Elf wizard. She's there for reliable blindness spells that will penalize enemy Accuracy and enable sneak attacks from Frost, our rogue. As a Wood Elf, she'll get +5 Accuracy on any ranged attack or spell (testing has suggested that the bonus applies to even fairly close enemies; not just very distant ones).

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Notice that everyone but Zovai has very high Perception. I've heard (I forget from who) that PotD mode gives bonuses to enemy defenses, and I want to make sure that I can count on our attacks to succeed. I don't want our success to be dependent on good attack rolls.

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I have more meta-level stuff on my mind, so forgive this long post if you're not a fan of abstract discussion:

 

I've been thinking about Dexterity vs. Perception. Each point of Dexterity grants 3% faster attacks, while Perception grants only 1% better Accuracy. Ostensibly, that means Dexterity would buy more offensive power and reliability. But I think there are a couple reasons this isn't the case, and a third reason why Perception is more important in a no-reload context:

 

First, not all attacks are equally important, especially for spellcasters. For very long fights or for multiple fights without resting in between, you will find yourself using normal attacks or per-encounter abilities, which are weaker than per-rest abilities. Dexterity might give you more attacks overall, but it doesn't increase how many special abilities you can use. Having 3% more basic attacks isn't as useful as having a 1% stronger Fireball early in the fight; the latter is more than three times more impactful.

 

Second, the 1% improvement in Accuracy from Perception isn't actually a percentage--it's a percentage point. In terms of actual percent effectiveness, the importance of that number depends on your base chance of landing a hit. For example, if you only have a 33% chance of landing a hit, a single percentage point increase is equal to a 3 percent improvement (34 divided by 33 is about 1.03, a 3% difference from 1). Since tougher critters are harder to hit, this means that Perception gets increasingly important in the more dangerous fights, the ones where you need the most help. A +10 bonus to Accuracy will do very little if you already have an 80% chance of a hit, and you're probably not fighting a challenging critter in that case anyway. A +10 bonus to Accuracy when you only have a 20% chance of a hit, however, means you're hitting 50% more often overall--and it's helping you against a much tougher enemy.

 

Third, the higher your overall Accuracy, the lower the chance that you'll fail multiple times in a row with an important offensive option. Our trouble with Whisper of Treason is a good example: while our chance of charming a Phantom was strong overall, we still had a small chance of failing several attempts, which left us with a much tougher fight. If our Perception was a little lower, the chance of an individual failure is only a little higher, but the chance of multiple consecutive failures is significantly higher.

 

Now, Dexterity does have important defensive and utility uses, so Perception isn't necessarily a more important option in all cases. But I do think Perception is very important for higher difficulties because each point plays a larger role in winning the hardest fights and preventing the worst turns of bad luck.

 

The same applies for Might vs. Perception. A character's Might has a role in healing, but for offensive purposes, in a no-reload context, I think it's more important to have high Perception than high Might.

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You also need to factor in that PER shifts entire brackets by 1% because of the miss/graze/hit/crit system. It’s not just 1% increased chance to hit, it’s 1% more to graze (rather than miss) and 1% more to crit (rather than hit). You’re shifting everything to the right. That’s why in your example where you say “10% greater chance is not much help when you are already 80%” is not accurate...you are now 10% more likely to crit (increased from 30% if 80% chance to hit to 40% if 90% likely to hit).

 

So I agree with you on PER vs DEX. I disagree with you on PER vs MIG because you are only considering damage rather than defence. MIG boosts healing and increases FOR rather than REF (FOR is way more important than REF). So I consider MIG to be more important generally (though clearly depends in part on build and role of the character).

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