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The Pillars of Eternity No Reload Challenge

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So it looks like the Fighter wins, yeah?  :no:


Monks are fun, surprised the perception of them is a little negative. They have really good attacking options. The difficulty (which I will no doubt soon encounter) is managing incoming damage. Positioning is very important, you cannot afford to get swamped. The great thing is Torment's Reach has a lovely arc AoE (like Fan of Flames)...perfect for fighting at chokepoints.

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Arcadia, Moon-Godlike Wizard: Victory!- Part 1


Ok, everyone! Apologies for jumping ahead, but I have some wonderful news that I'm excited to share. Arcadia has defeated Thaos! Hooray! 


The exciting thing is that this wasn't just a victory: it was a slaughter. This was my first time facing Thaos on PotD. Nonetheless, we prevailed with no knockouts and virtually no damage. The damage that did occur was attributable to a single avoidable error. I'm confident that I have a reliable strategy for the final battle now. That's cool.


I've decided to share now rather than waiting until Arcadia's post have caught up for two reasons: 1) I'd like to post while the battle is fresh in my mind; 2) there may be some details here that Semiticgod will find helpful as he prepares for his attempt. So, without further adieux, here it is: Arcadia v Thaos.


I'd like to begin by updating everyone on the party's status and abilities. 


Eder, Fighter (Level 13)


Skills: Stealth: 0, Athletics: 12, Lore 4, Mechanics: 0, Survival: 9

Abilities: Armored Grace, Confident Aim, Disciplined Barrage, Unbending, Unbroken, Weapon Specialization: Adventurer

Talents: Weapon and Shield Style, Weapon Focus: Adventurer, Rapid Recovery, Bear's Fortitude, Sanctifier, Deep Pockets






Pallegina, Paladin (Level 13)


Skills: Stealth: 0, Athletics: 10, Lore 4, Mechanics: 0, Survival: 8

Abilities: Coordinated Attacks, Flames of Devotion, Liberating Exhortation, Sacred Immolation, Reviving Exhortation, Sworn Enemy, Zealous Focus

Talents: Weapon Focus: Knight, Sword and Shield Style, Veteran's Recovery, Scion of Flame, Bear's Fortitude, Deep Pockets






Arcadia, Wizard (Level 13)


Skills: Stealth: 1, Athletics: 5, Lore 12, Mechanics: 2, Survival: 7

Talents: Arcane Veil, Hardened Veil, Weapon Focus: Noble, Secrets of Rime, Dungeon Delver, Marksman, Hylea's Boon, Deep Pockets

Mastered Spells: Eldritch Aim, Curse of Blackened Sight, Kalakoth's Minor Blights

Grimoire: L1: Eldritch Aim, Minoletta's Minor Missiles, Chill Fog, Slicken; L2: Bulwark Against the Elements, Concelhault's Corrosive Siphon, Curse of Blackened Sight, Infuse with Vital Essence; L3: Arcane Dampener, Kalakoth's Minor Blights, Llengrath's Displaced Image, Minoletta's Bounding Missile; L4: Confusion, Minoletta's Concussive Missile, Maura's Writing Tentacles, Pull of Eora; L5: Blast of Frost, Call to Slumber, Citzal's Spirit Lance, Ninagauth's Bitter Mooring;  L6: Arcane Reflection, Gaze of the Adragan, Minoletta's Precisely Piercing Burst, Ninagauth's Freezing Pillar; L7: Ninagauth's Killing Bolt, Wall of Draining






Alikae, Wizard (Level 12)


Skills: Stealth: 2, Athletics: 0, Lore 4, Mechanics: 11, Survival: 4

Talents: Arcane Veil, Hardened Veil, Weapon Focus: Ruffian, Scion of Flame, Marksman, Deep Pockets

Mastered Spells: Eldritch Aim, Curse of Blackened Sight

Grimoire: L1: Eldritch Aim, Fan of Flames, Minoletta's Minor Missiles, Slicken; L2: Bulwark Against the Elements, Concelhault's Corrosive Siphon, Curse of Blackened Sight, Infuse with Vital Essence; L3: Expose Vulnerabilities, Fireball, Llengrath's Displaced Image, Minoletta's Bounding Missile; L4: Ironskin, Minoletta's Concussive Missile, Maura's Writing Tentacles, Pull of Eora; L5:  Call to Slumber, Citzal's Spirit Lance, Llengrath's Safeguard, Torrent of Flame;  L6: Citzal's Martial Power, Gaze of the Adragan, Minoletta's Precisely Piercing Burst, Death Ring






Alena, Priest of Wael (Level 12)


Skills: Stealth: 0, Athletics: 1, Lore 12, Mechanics: 0, Survival: 7

Abilities: Inspiring Radiance, Interdiction, Incomprehensible Revelation, Weapon Focus: Noble, Dangerous Implement, Deep Pockets 






Cassia, Pries of Eothas (Level 12)

Skills: Stealth: 1, Athletics: 1, Lore 10, Mechanics: 0, Survival: 8

Abilities: Inspiring Radiance, Interdiction, Weapon Focus: Peasant, Scion of Flame, Marksman, Deep Pockets






(Phew! That took forever...)


Ok, let's move onto the inventories. First, here are all the consumables that we intended to use/equip for the fight. Note that there is one error: the Duc's shouldn't be there (I neglected to take it out before taking the screenshot)






Now the character inventories. I'll cover these in pairs.


Pallegina and Eder


Comments: Pallegina and Eder will be working as a team to pin-down the statues. Pallegina, who has crush-proofed armor, Scion of Flame, and a high Will score, will be taking on the Judge; Eder, wearing a Blunting Belt, will be facing the Headsman. Note that both have a Preservation item: Ilfan Byrngar's Solace for Pallegina and the He Carries Many Scars helm for Eder. Note also that Eder has Scrolls of Defense, Unbending and Unbroken while Pallegina has Scrolls of Revival, Reviving Exhortation, and Second Chance. As a pair, they'll be very hard to take down.


EDIT: Ooh! One more thing: Eder's Esotec- that's a generic Fine Esotec that we enchanted with Superb + Shocking Lash + Kith Slayer. It's purpose built for killing Thaos. Pallegina, wielding Shame of Glory and with Coordinated Attacks, will be stacking an additional +20 acc on it in the closing.  







Arcadia and Alikae


Comments: Alikae's job will be to insure that Thaos is always occupied, and thus unable to turn his attention to the all important priests and tanks. Her summons and melee book will be used to that end. Arcadia is on Arcane Dampener duty and Moonwell. She'll also be expected to do some damage a range. Additionally, she has one summoning item, in the event that Alikae is incapacitated and we need a quick distraction.







Cassia and Alena


Cassia, wearing the Hermit Hat, and carrying a stack of Scrolls of Prayer Against Bewilderment Scrolls will protect us from Confusion. Alena, wearing The Hand and Key and the Gathbin Family Signet, carrying Scrolls of Prayer Against Treachery, will keep us safe from Domination. The one Snowcap is for Alena. She's using it for the additional +20 v Domination more so than the Confusion immunity. Cassia will be handling our Scrolls of Valor; Alena, our Scrolls of Protection







Ok! That's all the background information you need. I'll post the battle after lunch!





Edited by Alesia_BH
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Jez Watt, Solo Monk (Hard), Part 1


"Here I go again on my own

Going down the only road I've ever known

Like a drifter I was born to walk alone

And I've made up my mind

I ain't wasting no more time"


(Same settings as last attempt, Hard difficulty)






Let's look at strengths and weaknesses.






Strengths are in green: lots of health and endurance, great damage from "dual wielding" fists (which will increase throughout the game as Transcendent Suffering improves), high Accuracy and good FOR defence.


But I have two big weaknesses (in red): my DEF defence is bad and will not improve much as I am not using a shield. That means I will get hit. A lot. And crit. A lot. Good job I have some use from incoming damage, isn't it? ;) But it has to be carefully managed.


And my REF defence is beyond bad, again with no solution. No weapon & shield style to redeem it. So I will be getting blasted by anything that targets REF. But that usually means non-fatal afflictions (Hobbled et al) or more damage, which I can again turn into wounds. There's some thought gone into this...


First of hopefully many crits that Jez Watt will land...






Jez Watt is cleaning house. Calisca is barely getting a look in.






Heodan joins the party...






...but not for very long. With no weapons equipped, Jez Watt can't rescue him in the scripted encounter.


You know what I was saying about my REF defence...






Yikes! Almost one-shot. That could have been embarrassing.


But after a short pause for Second Wind, we can now use those wounds to spam Torment's Reach.






We exited the ruins to the cut scene and the start of the solo. At level 2 I increased Lore, Mechanics and Survival all to 2 and Stealth to 3. Talent choice is Veteran's Recovery. Rested to remove the fatigue and that's the end of part 1.

Edited by Jaheiras Witness
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Congratulations, @Alesia_BH! You've earned it. I'm happy for you.


I'm afraid you're a bit late to help me, though--as of this writing, Divinegon's run is over. I won't confirm how it ended just yet, but I would like to point out that I did learn a lot from your work in this and other runs, and I doubt I would have made it as far as I did without your insightful commentary and advice. That goes for all of you guys, too; I've learned a lot from everyone in this thread.


But first, the fight with Raedric!

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Now I have to wait for two Thaos reports, getting teased about both of them. So much tension! Congratulations Alesia_BH - now I'm really wondering if you scaled up some of the content, considering you made it to level 13!


Btw, I prefer WM2 over WM1. A lot of the long dungeons and combat-filled areas that might have annoyed you regarding WM1 can be skipped in WM2 (the first major area requires only 2 big battles, the second one can be done with only one fight if you're fine with being a bit deceptive (it's for a good cause), the battles in the third one are rather small - the only really big dungeon full of non-skippable battles is entirely optional). Also, I think that WM2 has a far more interesting story.

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Divinegon, Hearth Orlan Cipher


After an inn rest, a wilderness rest for Accuracy bonuses against Vessels, and several meals to boost our stats, we confront Raedric at the top of his castle. We just have enough time to cast Circle of Protection, summon our beetles, and use a Scroll of Defense and a Moonwell scroll before the enemy's charm spells take control of half of our party on the first round. Things are already looking very ugly--even our best defenses couldn't ward off those charm effects.



Pallegina fixes up Rius, our mage, with Liberating Exhortation, since we really need her spells to handle enemy pressure. Mora Tai, our other paladin, also uses Liberating Exhortation to fix up Zovai, our priest. Rius takes too much damage shortly after returning to our control, which means she has to use a red potion instead of addressing the health of the rest of the party.


But she doesn't get the chance. Right after she drinks her potion, a Fampyr charms her again, and our mage is out of commission for the time being.


Then the enemy follows up with Finger of Death. I have no idea what this spell does, exactly, but it kills two of our beetles and puts Frost, our rogue, in critical condition.


We have no control of the battlefield, limited control of our own party, and we've made zero progress on either killing the enemy or neutralizing any key threats. We just can't function when so many of our party members are charmed or inches from death.


Frost uses Shadowing Beyond, but to my disbelief, a Fampyr completely ignores it and lands a disengagement attack on Frost, who is supposedly to be untargetable!


I don't know why Shadowing Beyond isn't working on these enemies, but there's no chance that Frost broke invisibility; I sent her away immediately after she activated Shadowing Beyond.


Fortunately, the enemies don't follow her, so she still manages to find a safe spot, where she uses a Blur potion (also known as a Vial of Llengrath's Astigmatism-Inducing Elixir of Blurring Visage) followed by Second Wind. Meanwhile, Zovai adds a little more healing and Mora Tai uses a scroll to shield us against fear effects. Rius is still in the process of casting Summon Giant Tentacles, but it's a slow-casting spell.


Frost is now in decent condition and also has a total Deflection of 80, enough for her to safely handle melee pressure. Divinegon activates Silent Scream, but it only stuns a Fampyr for about 10 seconds, and while the area-effect damage is impressive, it's not enough to actually neutralize any threats. Using a stronger disablers would have been more useful, but Divinegon's best status effect spells are charm and domination spells, both of which the Fampyrs are immune to.


The good news is that Rius has finally summoned the tentacles! Notice that we've kind of boxed in the enemies--we've got a few pinned in place, but several of them are still in a position to threaten vulnerable party members.


Rius has had trouble blinding many of the Fampyrs at once due to positioning and timing issues, but the Fampyrs are a little wounded, and eventually we'll be in a place to actually start pinning them down. Divinegon has low Focus, no active threats to her health, and no vulnerable targets she could bring down quickly. Thus, her best option is a long-term investment: a haste potion, also known as an Adversely Effective Energy-Enervating Amazing Alacrity of Action Elixir, or AEEEAAAE for short. This will speed up her attacks and pave the way for a game-changing offensive in the near future.


The Fampyrs and tentacles deal heavy damage to each other, both apparently having stronger Accuracy than Deflection. Divinegon targets our previously-stunned Fampyr for easy hits that will generate Focus faster. Frost joins in to land some Sneak Attacks, but it appears that the Fampyrs are immune to her poison attacks.


I got the impression from the game's description texts that Envenomed Weapon worked on a lot of critters because it deals Raw damage and Raw damage is supposed to bypass immunities and damage reduction. It makes sense for undead whatevers to be immune to poison, but I wish it had been more clear starting out--immunities are very rare in PoE, even for undead.


Zovai is currently blocking in the Fampyrs to the east, and Divinegon is already in position to cast an Ectopsychic Echo on Zovai, which should catch most of the enemies without needing much movement. But immediately after she gathers the Focus to cast the spell, she gets charmed again.


It looks like the beam is still doing damage to the enemy, which suggests that the beam remains party-friendly, but a second later, it coincides with a Fireball from Raedric, and two of our tentacles die. I can't tell if that means Raedric's Fireball finished them off, or Divinegon's beam is hurting our allies. I see green numbers as well as red numbers, and I can't divine the source.


Then Zovai, who has been renewing our defenses, gets charmed as well. Now I know the beam is against us; Mora Tai gets hit while the enemies appear unaffected.


I still don't know, however, if this is because Divinegon was charmed or because Zovai was charmed (or if both of them had to be hostile in order for the beam to go hostile).


I check the dialog box and discover that the Fampyrs' Accuracy with their charm spell is a shocking 97. Even Zovai with her Will of 100 only has a tiny chance of shrugging off the spell completely. No wonder we've been struggling to function; the enemy can spam charm spells with nearly-unbreakable Accuracy.


But now, the enemy is in much worse condition than it was before. Only one of them appears to have fallen, but the others are still heavily wounded, and once we get Divinegon back under our control, she and Frost can start knocking down the rest of the pins. Rius and Zovai both got charmed, but they're not offensive assets, and they've already fulfilled their more important roles: keeping the party intact long enough for Divinegon and Frost to do their dirty work.



The enemy deals big damage to our weakest party members, Rius, Frost, and Divinegon, but since Zovai and Mora Tai are both under our control when that happens, we can heal the damage before anyone suffers a knockout. Divinegon activates Ectopsychic Echo, and this time there are no charm effects to spoil the effect. Another Fampyr gets crushed.


No further charm effects come out, and with the beam on our side, the enemies crumple. Only Raedric is left. He chases Divinegon a short distance south, and while I can't break engagement with him, I don't need to: thanks to the haste potion, Divinegon has enough Focus to stun him with Silent Scream.


It's all over for Raedric. Frost lands the final blow, and everyone in the party gains a level.


We base our final talents on our needs for the Thaos fight: Pallegina takes Aegis of Loyalty, allowing her to cancel charm, domination, and confusion effects by striking party members. She wears the Hand and Key armor, so she'll be especially resistant to those effects herself, which means our best cure for domination will also be the most resistant to it. Mora Tai takes Hastening Exhortation, since I figure we could use an offensive boost for Frost and/or Divinegon to take down the judge and executioner before they can stomp all over us. Rius takes Call to Slumber and Llengrath's Safeguard to shore up her defenses. Frost and Divinegon, meanwhile, choose Deep Wounds and Detonate in order to help us get past the high damage reduction that I assume Thaos and his allies have.


We're finally ready. We head into Sun in Shadow.

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Arcadia, Moon-Godlike Wizard: Victory- Part 2


It's good to have a plan. It's even gooder when then plan is good. In her fight with Thaos, Arcadia was triply blessed: she had a plan, it was a good plan, and it worked. That's the goodest.


The Plan:


Phase 1: As soon as the battle begins, send Pallegina to the Judge and Eder to the Headsman. Do this as quickly as possible, seeking to maintain spacing between the statues, respectively, and Thaos. While Eder and Pallegina race to engage their targets, have Alikae summon her wood beetles directly in front of Thaos, with the intent of absorbing Thaos's opening spells. Simultaneously, send Arcadia, Cassia and Alena to the opposite side of Thaos. Wait for Alikae to join, and then start buffing, opening with Scroll of Protection + Scroll of Valor from the priests and Llengrath's from the wizards. Follow with Circle of Protection and Maura's Writing Tentacles. Meanwhile, the tanks should take Llengrath's->Bulwark Against the Elements.


Phase 2: By now the statues should be pinned behind virtually invulnerable tanks and Thaos should be knee deep in beetles. Begin working on Thaos, starting with Reflex, via Holy Pillars from the priests. Have Alikae buff for melee, while Arcadia works on lowering Thaos's Deflection with Arcane Dampener. When the Dampener hits, let Alikae engage, and start targeting Thaos's Deflection with spells. Knock him into the statue ASAP.


Phase 3: Once Thaos is in the Judge statue, send the casters over to the Headman. Let Arcadia lay down a Draining Wall connecting the two statues. Begin targeting Will, via Shinning Beacon, while waiting for Arcadia to land an Arcane Dampener. Once the Dampener hits, switch to Deflection and finish ASAP, though without profligate use of spells.


Phase 4: Let Eder join Pallegina in melee. With the additional +20 from Pallegina's Coordinated Attacks + Shame or Glory, Eder should be perfectly capable of taking down the Judge on his own. Bring him down gradually, layering in buffs as he approaches Near Death. End him when we're buffed and ready, but not before.


Phase 5: Let Eder switch to his Esotec. Have him engage in melee with Pallegina at his side. Target Reflex until a Dampener lands and then finish by targeting Deflection. Be sure to maintain spacing at all times. Be sure, too, to refresh buffs as needed and break engagement when Pillars of Fire are en route.


Execution: The battle went according to plan, with one notable exception. After the Headsman fell, I got a little over excited and made a positioning error. I also needlessly allowed Eder, Pallegina, and Alikae's buffs to lapse. Had I not made those errors, we would have emerged unscathed, with no need for healing. Instead, we needed a Moonwell. We'll get it right next time.


Ok. Let's see it!


Here's the opening. Pallegina and Eder have engaged their targets. They've taken their Llengrath's. The beetles are down. The casters are in position and taking their buffs.






We add some tentacles. Cassia finishes our buffing while Alena starts testing Reflex. Alikae is buffed and ready for melee.






Alena's Holy Pillar lands, albeit for modest damage. Alikae approaches, while Arcadia fires up Arcane Dampener. Meanwhile, the tanks are proving untouchable: no significant damage yet.






The Dampener lands. It's party time. Deflection is open.






The wizards hammer Thaos with Concussive Missiles while the priests use their Prayer Against Treachery and Bewilderment scrolls, just in case.






Thaos jumps and the casters move on to the Headsman. Arcadia lays down her Draining Wall.






The priests start working on Will with their Shinning Beacons.






Arcadia lands her Dampener. The Headsman's Deflection is only 59 now. Alikae closes in melee for the finish, targeting that 16 v Piercing with Citzal's Lance.






The Headsman falls, with a nudge from Arcadia via a lowly L1: Minoletta's Minor Missiles.






Ok. Now here's where I screwed up. There is no reason for Eder and Pallegina to be right next to each other here: they should be on opposite sides of the Judge to frustrate AoE targeting. To make matters worse, I slipped and let their buffs expire, both Bulwark and Llengrath's. That, too was an unforced error. Worse still, I moved Alikae and Alena too close, putting them in range for an Pillar of Holy Fire cast. We've been hit. The damage isn't bad, but it is noticeable.






We regroup, laying down a Moonwell. We ease the Judge down gently, granting us time to buff.






We take Prayer Against Treachery and Bewliderment, along with Bulwark and Llengrath's all around. We're ready. Drop him.






Let's do this. Eder equips the Esotec of Thaos-is-Totally-Going-to-Die, while Pallegina engages with Shame or Glory + Coordinated Attacks. Our spacing is good, our Reflex scores are high and we're running Bulwark. We're protected from Confusion via active scroll and Hermit Hat + multiple scrolls in the form of Cassia. Alena cements our Domination defense by activating Lord's Authority, insuring her Prayer Against Treachery scrolls will remain under our control. That's checkmate.






Thaos is out of options.






Cassia ends it with a Pillar of Holy Fire










And with that, Arcadia's run comes to an end. Sort of: We still have oodles of catch up coverage ahead. I'll get on that ASAP, and then circle back to summary comments when Arcadia's updates are complete. Thanks, everyone! Please accept my apologies for the out of sequence post! I was just eager to share!





Edited by Alesia_BH
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Now I have to wait for two Thaos reports, getting teased about both of them. So much tension! Congratulations Alesia_BH - now I'm really wondering if you scaled up some of the content, considering you made it to level 13!

We didn't get the option to scale up Thaos, since we entered the Court of Pentitents at L12, the original PoE level cap. We didn't reach L13 until we got to the final area. We took our last levels immediately before the fight.

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Divinegon, Hearth Orlan Cipher


We take the Suite of Worldly Wonders at the Goose and Fox in order to get the Lore bonus. I don't know if we'll be able to keep it until Thaos, but if we do, it'll mean that Frost, our rogue, will be able to use Maelstrom scrolls, and she's the one character best equipped to use them, since Divinegon, our other high-offense character, needs her quick slots for buffing potions and the like.


Inside Sun in Shadow, we get some ugly surprises from the local Spirits, who use some ranged stun attacks to knock out Rius within seconds.




They have an Accuracy of 96, virtually impossible for us to block, and when Divinegon's Health gets low, Zovai, our priest, covers her with Withdraw.


Fortunately, we have a decent choke point and Frost remains in good condition, allowing us to gradually wear down the enemy.


Since I'm trying to minimize resting in this area (if we rest too many times, we lose access to the Lore bonus on Frost, which we really need so she can spam Maelstrom scrolls), we play it conservative with our resources. Fortunately, we have some strong counters for the Shadow Drakes, who prove highly vulnerable to a Confusion from Rius, our mage. Divinegon can also nail them with Whisper of Treason, which gives us a slight offensive edge against the Engwithan Shades compared to Confusion alone.



Once a Shadow Drake is isolated, we can hold it in place with Mental Binding and then crush it with Rius' tentacles.


This is actually a pretty agonizing process; I'm trying to deal with an unknown number of potentially dangerous fights while trying to avoid resting, which means it's hard to decide how many per-rest abilities I can afford to use. Divinegon significantly extends our resources; her Focus is completely independent of resting.



But ultimately, we end up needing to rest too many times, and we lose our bonuses from the Goose and Fox. Frost's Lore is now at 9 while wearing the +2 Lore robe, which is just 1 point shy of the 10 she needs to use Maelstrom scrolls.


The answer is a rare scroll that grants +3 Lore to the whole party for 120 seconds--not great, but it can be used outside of combat, which means that Frost will be able to use Maelstrom scrolls for at least a few dozen seconds into the fight with Thaos. We eat all of our buffs, including the white mushrooms for their +40 defense against charm (and I assume domination?) effects and some scattered bonuses optimized to each character, including the +20% Focus gain item for Divinegon herself.


Here is our party at the end of the game, right before facing Thaos. Most of us have the Accuracy bonus against Vessels, but Rius and Zovai picked damage reduction instead. Note that some of the extremely low stat values, like Divinegon's incredibly low Resolve, are the result of consumables that impose drawbacks.














Just before we enter the fight, Pallegina and Divinegon hit level 10, and Divinegon takes Marksman for the +5 to ranged Accuracy.

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We eat all of our buffs, including the white mushrooms for their +40 defense against charm (and I assume domination?)


Snowcaps grant +40 to defense against Charmed and +20 against Domination. They also grant immunity to Confusion.


(In my experience, they're the exact opposite of psychedelic mushrooms in our world. Those cause Confusion and impose -40 to defenses against Charm...)





Edited by Alesia_BH
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@Jaheiras_Witness: I offer my condolences for Jazz Wit in retrospect - it's been an impressive run. :bow:


@Alesia: Yay, you've made it (*Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries playing in the background*)! Congratulations on your success, with extra recognition paid to your style (both gamewise and in write-ups). And now, the toasts and the speech!


@semiticgod: We're all excited to see how it played out in the end.


See ya all,



Edited by Borco
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(In my experience, they're the exact opposite of psychedelic mushrooms in our world. Those cause Confusion and impose -40 to defenses against Charm...)

And there's the sleep immunity. But since I've noted that some of your posts read "8am and still going", I don't think you need to address this particular affliction in your battle plans.

Edited by Borco
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Jez Watt, Solo Monk (Hard), Part 2


Beat up the bandits in Valewood to rescue Tenfrith.






Wolves were also defeated (fights are over very quickly once I have a few wounds and can spam Torment's Reach).






I reached level 3 in Gilded Vale as I handed in the Tenfrith quest and rested to advance the main plot. Mechanics increased to 4 and ability chosen was Swift Strikes.


I was unable to save Foelmar in Magran's Fork as the wolves went for him first.






This was a brutal fight and I took a lot of damage before I could end things with Torment's Reach spam.






Punching a forest troll to death.






Ludrana fight was also quite brutal, lots of wounds generated (but you can see how quickly the opponents were killed in the bottom half of the combat log as I started to spam Torment's Reach).






I rested in the Black Meadow before the bandit fight, which saw the trolls also join the fray.






I returned to Gilded Vale via Esternwood (ran into Kolsc on the road to Raedric's Hold). Rested and resupplied at the Black Hound before returning to Valewood to get Fulvano's gloves and take on the bear cave.


The Wizard's Double opening was not too successful.






My base DEF is too bad to keep Wizard's Double up. This is one of the dynamics in PoE combat: some abilities/items are only any good if you are already respectably good at what you are trying to improve. It's a bit like IWD2...if your base AC or saving throws are already very bad, there's little point trying to improve them (who cares if you have a 90% chance to fail or 80%...you're still likely going to fail and would be better off trying to fix something else).


So instead I decide to maximise my offence rather than mitigate my defence: Potion of Power + Swift Strikes + Torment's Reach spam...






Turns out the speed bonuses of Potion of Power and Swift Strikes do not stack. I thought they might stack since one is an item and the other an ability, but I guess they are both considered active effects. Will have to bear that in mind for the future.


Baby bear follows mommy bear in the blink of an eye (feel a bit bad for that ;().






I returned to Gilded Vale and completed the quest, which got me to level 4. Lore increased to 4 (will need level 2 scrolls for Caed Nua) and I took the Lightning Strikes talent. This adds a shock lash to my fists when Swift Strikes is active.


Updated character record.






You can see the difference to the Jazz Wit run in the damage ratio: I'm doing approximately 5x damage inflicted vs received where the chanter was 2x for most of the game (before Dragon Thrashed). That's the difference in the classes and approach to the game. The chanter was a defensive character (turtle and let the phantom kill) whereas the monk is an offensive character (punch fast and use wounds to generate more damage, before endurance runs out). Yet when you look at the stat distribution and race, the two characters are so similar (chanter had more INT and less DEX, that's about it). The class, abilities and build style make all the difference.

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Btw the damage you see in the combat log from Torment's Reach is not the true damage. The combat log only shows the base damage, it does not show the +50% that Torment's Reach does, or the -2 MIG penalty. Also so far I have not faced big groups at chokepoints. Torment's Reach will be even more spectacular when that happens ;).

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@Alesia_BH: What kind of numbers for defenses and Accuracy would you consider necessary to handle Thaos, and how would one get them? I used myriad consumables and enchanted much of our gear to achieve the numbers we had, and I don't know what else we could have done besides raise money for dragon meat dishes.


Bear in mind that the screenshots you saw were directly before combat; they don't contain in-combat buffs like Scrolls of Defense or Blessing.

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Jez Watt, Solo Monk (Hard), Part 3


Anslog's Compass. The below screenshot shows what I mean about the real damage of Torment's Reach. The combat log states 20 crush damage but the real damage of this blow was 37 (and Torment's Reach is a full attack, which means both my fists get to strike).






I used Potions of Power and Eldritch Aim for the main xaurip fight (= boosting offence rather than defence).





The xaurip skirmisher managed only 2 paralyse grazes before it was dispatched.




This is the easiest I've ever managed to win this fight.





Only one winner in this fist fight (look at the difference in damage).





We brought artillery for this bust up.




Madhmr Bridge was a breeze and we got the Hermit's Hat. I rested at the xaurip camp before returning to Gilded Vale to complete Aufra's quest, and then entered the Temple of Eothas.
Defensive potions in order for the phantom and oozes: minor recovery and bulwark.




The phantom only managed two attacks and did not land a stun. Note again the damage difference in the combat log (15) and the real damage on screen (28).





Rest and resupply for the big challenge next - Caed Nua.

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@Alesia_BH: What kind of numbers for defenses and Accuracy would you consider necessary to handle Thaos, and how would one get them? I used myriad consumables and enchanted much of our gear to achieve the numbers we had, and I don't know what else we could have done besides raise money for dragon meat dishes.


Bear in mind that the screenshots you saw were directly before combat; they don't contain in-combat buffs like Scrolls of Defense or Blessing.



I'm reluctant to comment, since I'm unfamiliar with the space of possible ways of winning the battle. I only know how I win it. 


Given my approach, I'd want unbuffed defense stats of around 100 on my tanks, with buffed deflection of 120 or so. I'd also want high DR and Preservation. Build choices influence the feasibility of this.


I'd want my characters attacking Thaos to have unbuffed accs in the 80s and 90s. I'd use consumables Coordinating/Marking and active buffs to get those numbers higher. 


In general, I'm inclined to see the Thaos battle as a trap of sorts. Most of the game rewards the player for attacking fast and hitting hard. The Thaos battle, in contrast, rewards resilience and precision (defense and accuracy). I'm not sure how I'd proceed, given your builds. I'm sure there's a way to do it, but whatever it is, it's outside of my circle of competence.





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Divinegon, Hearth Orlan Cipher


We open the fight with Thaos with a suite of long-term investments: a Scroll of Defense, a scroll of Moonwell, Circle of Protection, a scroll of Prayer Against Fear, wood beetles, and for Frost, our rogue and second most important damage dealer, a haste potion.



Notice that Mora Tai, our second paladin, is right next to Woedica's Headsman, the executioner. This is because Mora Tai is wearing the Blaidh Golan hide armor, which grants +50 to all defenses when prone.


Now, I've mentioned in the past that the shield Ilfan Byrngar's Solace is very overpowered in this fight because it can make a tank nearly invincible: as long as the bearer is prone, the enemy can barely scratch the character, and the enemy won't switch targets. For the same reasons, the shield is very excellent against drakes and other heavy hitters that use knockdown effects. I decided not to use that shield because it seemed too overpowered.


However, Blaidh Golan has the same effect, so I'm effectively working with the same situation: Mora Tai is trying to hold down the executioner.


We want to bring down Thaos quickly so we can focus on the statues, so Frost hurries over to try to blind Thaos and deal some quick damage. Meanwhile, Rius, our mage, uses a Scroll of Valor to give us +15 Accuracy and Divinegon drinks a haste potion, which hopefully stacks with a Hastening Exhortation from Mora Tai, so she'll be able to deal some quick ranged damage on Thaos.


Then I see a very, very ominous sign. When Divinegon targets Thaos with her normal attack, the chance of a hit is displayed as 0%.


Thaos has a Deflection of 153, by far the highest I've ever seen on anything in PoE. Frost has landed a hit, and Rius' Scroll of Valor doesn't appear to have taken effect just yet, but it looks like Thaos is virtually untouchable.


How are we supposed to kill Thaos if even our strongest characters struggle to hit him?


Thaos casts his fire spell and nearly kills Frost, who clings to life with the help of a red potion. Pallegina, Frost, and Divinegon are all attacking Thaos at once, knowing that we can't stand up to those fire attacks forever, but they've only been able to graze him, and combined with Thaos' impressive damage reduction, we only deal damage in the single digits.


Thaos casts another Pillar of Holy Fire spell and takes down Frost, a huge blow to our offensive potential, while Divinegon wastes a Whisper of Treason spell on the executioner. Just like last time, I fail to realize that charm is listed as an immunity for the statues.



The confusing thing is, charm and domination are also listed as resistances for the statues, which implies that they're not immune. We just lost 10 Focus and a few valuable seconds for Divinegon, whom we need to pin down Thaos.

Thaos nails us with more fire damage, and this time, Zovai, our Moon Godlike priest, takes enough damage to trigger Silver Tide, which does a lot to support the other party members, who are all suffering.



We bring back Frost with a Scroll of Revival (we have a lot of those scrolls) and she heals herself with Second Wind, but Divinegon falls to another fire spell. If we scattered, some of us could escape those fire spells, but we'd lose the benefits of Moonwell and Circle of Protection/Scroll of Defense.


We try to recover with Lay on Hands, Consecrated Ground, and a Scroll of Moonwell and Scroll of Revival for Divinegon, but we're still in poor condition, and we've made precious little progress on the enemy.


In fact, we've done essentially nothing since the fight began aside from clinging to life.


We desperately need to deal damage to Thaos, but his sky-high Deflection makes him nearly invulnerable to our normal attacks. I intended for Frost to use her Maelstrom scrolls against the statues, but we need them for Thaos; we can't do more than scratch him otherwise. As Frost prepares to use her first Maelstrom scroll, the rest of the party restores our defenses.


Frost lands a hit with Maelstrom! But Thaos is still applying massive pressure, and even Moonwell, Silver Tide, and Consecrated Ground aren't enough to keep Zovai in good condition without additional support. Zovai's low Constitution proves her undoing.


Low Constitution might not be bad for a Moon Godlike, but if your only healer has low Constitution, then area-effect spells can rob the party of a vital resource. We really need Zovai to stay healthy.


Anxious to retrieve our healer, we use another Scroll of Revival to bring her back, but it seems her Health is too low for her to get back up in stable condition. She falls mere seconds after we revive her, and now that our beetles are gone, Woedica's judge is encroaching on the party.


But Frost is making solid progress by spamming Maelstrom scrolls; Thaos is already at Injured. The Maelstrom scrolls target his Reflex defense instead of Deflection, a 43-point difference that makes it much easier to hit him. Plus, Maelstrom does massive damage when it does hit.



Soon, Thaos retreats into his shell. We're safe! Relatively speaking, anyway. Now we just have to deal with the statues.


Without the threat of area-effect fire damage to worry about and without a high-priority target like Thaos to attack, we have a little more freedom and flexibility in what we can do. We bring back Zovai, who will provide ranged support.


Her Health is low, but even if she dies permanently, that's an acceptable risk--this is the final fight, so a knocked-out character is no different from a permanently dead character for the purposes of winning this fight. This is the safest time to bring her back.


But we're still vulnerable to area-effect disablers; it seems the judge and/or executioner can knock all of us down at once. Suddenly, the whole party is on its back.



I check the durations and wait for the shortest one to run out so we can get back to work. Just as it ends, we suffer another fire attack that takes down Zovai once again, and I realize that those Pillars of Holy Fire weren't coming from Thaos--they were coming from the judge!


And while I failed to appreciate the fact in all the confusion, it seems that Divinegon is within the judge's melee range. Before she can take action or try to heal herself or escape, the judge knocks her down and nearly knocks her out with its melee attack.


Its Accuracy is 92. There's no way Divinegon's defenses can stand up to that. We desperately need to get Divinegon out of danger; we absolutely need her strength to prevail in this fight. But Zovai isn't here to cast Withdraw; we have to bring her back with another Scroll of Revival.


But these things take time. It won't be long before the judge gets another chance to attack, and we can't count on Divinegon's lousy defenses to keep her safe. If her Health gets low enough, we simply won't be able to revive her without risking her being instantly knocked out or even permanently killed.


Frost only entered the fight with so many Scrolls of Maelstrom; we simply can't win the fight with Frost alone. We need Divinegon on her feet and active to actually deal enough damage with high enough Accuracy to bring down the enemy.


But Zovai won't be able to rescue Divinegon in time; she's not fast enough to act before the statue gets another attack roll. And if I try to run, Divinegon will instantly trigger a disengagement attack that could put her down for good.


I leave the game paused for a moment and consider the situation.


Death seems highly probable. We have many Scrolls of Revival, but those do nothing to keep our Health in good condition, which means eventually we'll reach a point at which we can no longer recover from setbacks.


The enemy's defenses are nearly impossible to bypass without more Scrolls of Maelstrom. Even if Divinegon gets Ectopsychic Echo off the ground, that targets Deflection, which means that the odds of dealing much damage to Thaos are dicey at best, and bad luck could neutralize the effect.


Disablers aren't really workable. The enemy has too many immunities and too many resistances for us to reliably disable anyone.


We are stuck in a situation in which we simply don't have the raw numbers to either defend ourselves from attack or make progress on the enemy. We are just not strong enough.


At this point, it seems all I can do is wait for the judge's next attack to come, and hope that it gets a low roll that will allow us to keep Divinegon in good condition until Thaos returns to the fight, when we'll really need our cipher's strength to supplement Frost's.


But I have seen these situations in the past, and while it would be less stressful to muddle through things and hope for the best, I've survived bad situations by stepping back, recalculating, and changing up my approach. I step away from the emotional connection to this party and my desire for the run to succeed in order to study the problem in a neutral context.



I peruse my options and find a solution: Slicken, a very brief disabler which targets the enemy's Reflex defense, the weakest defense of all three enemies in this fight.


We get a low roll, but it's still enough to knock down the judge. Divinegon has been able to drink a red potion, but she is now prone, and cannot flee just yet. Zovai is also prone.


We can use Liberating Exhortation, but we only have so many castings, and we want to hold onto them for the fight with Thaos, which I'm sure will involve a lot of ugly disablers. Pallegina can cancel charm effects by attacking a charmed party member, but she has no fast ranged attacks, and moving to strike a friendly target in melee could expose her to a disengagement attack, so Pallegina's Aegis of Loyalty isn't rock solid. We need Liberating Exhortation for later on.


Instead, we just use a single Liberating Exhortation, on Zovai. Divinegon remains prone.



Divinegon is more important overall, but fixing Zovai first allows her to cover Divinegon with Withdraw. By the time Divinegon escapes, we should have a better handle on the situation.


But Zovai is very slow, and the judge is recovering from Slicken. Rius tries to re-apply it, but this time, Slicken doesn't work.


But the judge is also slow, and Zovai has enough time to hide Divinegon before the judge strikes. Instead, the judge targets Mora Tai, knocking him down. But Mora Tai gets +50 to all defenses when prone, and we don't need him on his feet--we just need him to keep distracting the enemy.


Mora Tai is now keeping both enemies occupied, and we have a moment of respite. While Divinegon is out of commission, we need to establish a stronger position for when she returns, and we need to keep our weaker party members safe so they'll still be around to help with Thaos. We draw Rius, Pallegina, and Frost to the southwest and start setting up new defenses.


Divinegon is still right next to the judge, however. If we don't establish our advantage by the time she escapes, the judge gets another shot at her, and she'll only have a few more seconds of Infuse Vital Essence when Withdraw wears off.

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