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Chanting mechanics are dynamic, convoluted, and poorly explained


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After a lot of time with this game I’ve only just realised some fundamental, critical mechanics with Chanters. The game makes no effort to explain them to you, so I expect many people are as clueless as I have been all this time. This is something I’ve only just discovered so I expect I will have a lot to learn from others in this thread who are more familiar with this.

This is what I’ve found playing a Skald/Helwalker with the chants Ancient Memory (hereafter AM), The Fox from the Farmer (FF), and The Dragon Thrashed (DT). I’m using the Deadfire Polishing mod and Community Patch (they buff the latter two)

Let me itemise the key points to make this more digestible:

 

1)      For at least the chants listed above, what happens is that at the beginning of the phrase, an effect is applied to allies (for AM) or enemies (for the others). The duration of these effects is your 6s +3s linger, and the linger only is affected by INT. AM will always have this same duration, but chants which perform an attack roll like FF and DT have their duration modified by whether they graze, hit, or crit.

 

2)      Once the effect is applied, nothing the chanter does affects it (with the exception of re-applying it). This means that you can start combat, begin chanting AM, then immediately switch chants to FF and, once FF hits (or grazes, or crits), both AM and FF will apply their full effects for their full durations. So, you can have two (or more) full-fledged phrases active within about a second of each other. The only penalty for this is that you only accumulate phrases (the resource used for invocations) when your chanting of a phrase naturally elapses – so switching your chants over and over again will mean that you never accumulate phrases. That aside, you can just cycle through four chants whenever you want and enjoy the benefits of all of them one after the other. Note, though, that there is an unchangeable cooldown on chant switching whenever you start a new chant. I now realise that this exists so that you can’t have the full effects of four phrases going instantly – it will at least take you a few seconds to cycle through them (but you can have four active at once – easily).

 

3)      Casting an invocation does not only pause your chant progression, it resets it. Let’s say your chant progression is AM->FF->DT. You start combat and begin to chant AM: the effect is applied to you and your team for, let’s say, a 10s duration. If you cast an invocation three seconds into the fight, your chant progression will pause for a second, and then it will completely reset. So, you will start chanting AM again from the beginning, resetting its duration to every ally in range. This means that if you cast invocations quickly one after the other within six seconds of each other (easy for Skald) you will never benefit from more than a single phrase. It also means that if you cast an invocation when you are chanting your second phrase (FF in the progression above), you will go back to chanting your first phrase and not get a chance to chant your third unless you refrain from casting or switching chants for a further 12s! So in our example progression, you will never see DT get applied once you are casting invocations every 12s (I started noticing this weird stuff when I realised that my Skald’s third chant never seemed to get applied unless I sat around waiting for it). This is especially a problem for Skalds because they have powerful invocations that cost only 2 phrases. Other chanters usually need to get 3 phrases to cast their cheapest invocations and so should theoretically cycle through 3 chants when waiting for them. Brilliant, Sasha's Singing Scimitar, and the Weyc's Robes all have obvious implications here as well.

 

Point (2) makes chanting much more dynamic than I originally thought. You can basically chose what chant you want to apply at any instant with the sole penalty of slowing down your accumulation of phrases. Point (3) can be incredibly frustrating, but it can also be used to your advantage if you play smart and use point (2) to your advantage. If your chanter can cast invocations quickly, what you should do is wait until you begin chanting at least the second phrase in your list. After you cast, your chant will restart from the first phrase. The restarting process takes less than 6s, so if there are only two phrases in your chant, you will actually have saved time by resetting the chant. Note that casting an invocation will always slow down your accumulation of more phrases but it will slow it down more the longer you wait to cast after you BEGIN to chant a phrase. For example, if you let a phrase go on for 4s and then cast, those 4s will be lost on the reset (they didn’t help you accumulate another resource-phrase). Ideally, you should always cast an invocation at the very instant that you begin to chant a phrase.

Maybe I’m late to the party but I had no idea chanting worked this way. It’s partly exciting because chanting is much more dynamic than I thought before, but it’s also quite finnicky and odd.

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Thank you for sharing your observations, Jayd. I was aware of point 1, but unaware of points 2 & 3.  I don't think you're late to the party at all; the underlying mechanics here are not readily apparent I think unless you pay very close attention to the game.

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I think chanter and cipher both suffer from a problem in which they talked about it a lot in the backer updates prior to PoE1, and afterwards have just assumed you understand the mechanics without much handholding.

(For example, IIRC it is not made clear anywhere in PoE1 that ciphers have an inherent damage bonus as part of their focus regen; in fact I think I forgot about it in my PoE1 gamefaqs guide. At least Deadfire has the little soul whip explainer in the skill tree.)

 

I half-expect a decent number of players don't even know you can make songs and might be missing out on compiling non-trivial sequences of chants.

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21 minutes ago, dgray62 said:

thelee, do you have any recommendations for songs/chant sequences for a skald? While I theoretically know that you can compose multiple songs, I rarely do in my play throughs, so I am sure that I am missing out.

i have nothing that's really skald-specific. it's more setups that emphasize the first song in particular, for the same reason that @Jayd pointed out in #3 (skalds are more likely to reset their chants than others); I haven't built like a wildrhymer or harbinger or some other setup that really leans into the skald's melee martial focus. (i've used konstanten as a howler, but honestly i think his stats suck too much to be a good howler or skald)

my personal skald/theurge's favorite song was:

the fox from the farmer... -> the long night's... -> come, come...

This only worked because I had a lot of disengagement-related bonuses, so I could get a pretty steep like 80-pt swing in enemy accuracy, it'd also be the first one to activate after an invocation, or switching chants. long night's combos into come, come. i also had side chants for resistance songs.

 

in my current party, i'm building tekehu as an SC chanter that has more of a tanky focus, and a couple of songs I set up:

silver knight -> ancient memory -> thick -> ...

with the intention eventually of doing something more like

silver knight -> the arrow sings -> with all your strength -> ...

i also have another song that's like

her courage -> ancient memory -> [i forget]...

and various resistance songs. it's not very skald specific, but the principles would work well with a skald. If I'm in trouble, I switch out of "tanky mode" and put on the "her courage" one. By being the first song, I instantly get a 10pt damage shield, and a few seconds after that, get a regen effect. As a skald, it would work better because with mroe frequent invocations, you'll refresh the damage shield more frequently and get closer to 100% uptime on ancient memory even with a third song in there. You can also switch to resistance songs. I've mentioned in another thread that I really really like "One Dozen" (con/res resistance) and there's nothing quite like it activating, resisting down a terrify/frightened or a weakened, using an invocation, and then a second later, having the song reactivate and have everything resist down to nothing.

Edited by thelee
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For Skald it doesn't make a lot of sense to compose complicated chants imo - because your chant will start from the beginning after every invocation anyway. Skalds can use invocations rather often becuse of the -1 discout and the additional phrase generation via crits. 

Same with Troubadour with Brisk Recitation imo. 

Edited by Boeroer
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1 minute ago, Boeroer said:

For Skald it doesn't make a lot of sense to compose complicated chants imo - because your chant will start from the beginning after every invocation anyway. Skalds can use invocations rather often becuse of the -1 discout and the additional phrase generation via crits. 

Same with Troubadour with Brisk Recitation imo. 

yeah what i didn't make explicit in my post of example songs is that the third song is a "nice to have" esp for a skald (come, thick, [the third one which is so incidental that i forget]). if it happens, it happens, and if it's something like "thick grew their tongues" then all you need is one or two procs to have a lasting impact on the battlefield (in the case of come, come, it's some helpful drip of regen throughout the fight and for that build can also trigger interrupts). but the first two songs are the ones you want (almost like a power scale - the first song super important, and the second song like half important)

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Yes, given Jayd's third point it is clearly important to plan out what your first phrase out to be, since it will get repeated very often. I too usually end up with two songs, one offensive and one more defensively oriented, but I never realized until now how important the order is.

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With my current Cantor (one of my favourite builds ever so far) I used to have Ancient Memory in first place because I like the security of having healing constantly active, but recently I've switched to Long Night's Drink first (taken to that over modded Dragon Thrashed) because after using Their Companion, phrase crits interrupt, so after I cast an invocation and the song resets, there's a chance for a big AoE interrupt and the debuff is refreshed (you also get accuracy for Long Night from Helm of the White Void and Enduring Dance). 

This character focuses on the cheap invocations Her Revenge and At the Sound - which means lots of casts, lots of interrupts, lots of a single phrase. If you favour high-level invocations like Eld Nary, I would think that you could expect to be waiting enough to see your second phrase more often, earlier in the fight, especially if not using Sasha's. I don't even think I'm going to pick Eld Nary on this guy (never thought I'd say that when I started the playthrough).

My chants are laid out so that I can switch chants to get AM, or FF quickly if I need them. I don't even bother slotting a third phrase. 

@thelee I hadn't considered how Her Courage could be really strong with the constant resetting. Do you know offhand if it will block hits and therefore preserve Enduring Dance? Cuz that would be wild! I assume Her Courage is a damage gate that will block a single instance of damage of any magnitude, instead of just reducing it by ten... Tested it and unfortunately it's just an bit of extra hp :(

Edited by Jayd
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58 minutes ago, Jayd said:

@thelee I hadn't considered how Her Courage could be really strong with the constant resetting. Do you know offhand if it will block hits and therefore preserve Enduring Dance? Cuz that would be wild! I assume Her Courage is a damage gate that will block a single instance of damage of any magnitude, instead of just reducing it by ten...

Is the tooltip wrong for Her Courage? I always assumed it just blocked 10 pts of damage, but if it completely blocks a single hit, that would be much more powerful.

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Often when games have damage shield abilities, the shield is something that the enemy has to break before they start doing damage to you, even if they break it with much more damage than it has hit points. Other times, the shield is just added as a hit point buffer, so if an attack does more damage than the shield adds hit points, the difference goes through.

Unfortunately, I just tested it and found that Her Courage works the second way. A shame, but I suppose it could get ridiculous if it were the first type.

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There is a chance though that the shield gets renewed before its points get depleted completely. If an enemy does low dmg and isn't super fast it's unbreakable. 

Ok - 10 points is pretty low. But I guess they had shenanigans like multiple Chanters in mind? It was higher at release (25 iirc) but it seems that was too good. 

It gets reapplied all the time (if you don't have a lot of other phrases in between). So in theory it's unlimited excess HP. 

 

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2 hours ago, Boeroer said:

There is a chance though that the shield gets renewed before its points get depleted completely. If an enemy does low dmg and isn't super fast it's unbreakable. 

Ok - 10 points is pretty low. But I guess they had shenanigans like multiple Chanters in mind? It was higher at release (25 iirc) but it seems that was too good. 

It gets reapplied all the time (if you don't have a lot of other phrases in between). So in theory it's unlimited excess HP. 

 

If an enemy does low dmg and isn't fast then it's not a problem in the first place 😅

I imagine their reasoning was comparing it to healing. With decent might/healing bonuses, AM can heal about 2hp/s, so in a 6s period you can expect about 12hp from it. It doesn't benefit from Brisk Recitation or early phrase switching, and Her Courage does. So I imagine the idea was to give it roughly a equivalent hp bonus to AM with the added possibility of reapplying it quickly for a greater benefit.

Of course, the weakness of it is that it doesn't...heal. Healing replenishes health you lost earlier, but Her Courage only has any benefit whatsover when you take damage while it is active. Ideally I guess you will use it with AM for extra psuedo-healing (your "real" health continues to get healed while Her Courage protects it). Maybe you could do fun Troubadour stuff like applying AM then switching to Her Courage and activate Brisk R to have a refreshing hp shield for the duration of your especially long AM duration. That could be pretty good...

Anyway, not very impressed with Her Courage as a level V phrase. At least it's better than vanilla Dragon Thrashed... 

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12 minutes ago, Jayd said:

If an enemy does low dmg and isn't fast then it's not a problem in the first place 😅

Right, not in a normal party setup etc. - but in special circumstances maybe. Like: if you are a solo tank who gets only grazed by enemies it could make a huge difference I guess. Also it's not affected when healing would be. For example if you are weakened your healing would be severly hampered but the dmg shield will not. 

All in all I don't consider it to be great. I don't use it myself 99% of times. :)

But I guess you could create real balance problems with a 25 point shield and 5 Chanters - so maybe that's why it was lowered. As I said it used to be 25 but was nerfed. Which indicates that it was too strong. 

Does Her Courage prevents Mirrored Images, Iron Skin, Dance of Death, Soul Mind, Gilded Enmity etc. from stopping/deteriorating maybe? 

Edited by Boeroer

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6 minutes ago, Boeroer said:

As I said it used to be 25 but was nerfed. Which indicates that it was too strong. 

You have a lot of faith in the devs' wisdom haha. I think they did a good job too but there are definitely decisions I disagree with.

That said, I think the Troubadour idea I mentioned could be pretty cool. May roll a SC Troub to play around with this kind of thing now that I know how much there is to chanting. Problem with Her Courage is that it seems that if it's to be any good you have to work to make it good. Maybe that's ok but it's a trap for anyone not going all-in with it.

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6 hours ago, Jayd said:

Of course, the weakness of it is that it doesn't...heal. Healing replenishes health you lost earlier, but Her Courage only has any benefit whatsover when you take damage while it is active. Ideally I guess you will use it with AM for extra psuedo-healing (your "real" health continues to get healed while Her Courage protects it). Maybe you could do fun Troubadour stuff like applying AM then switching to Her Courage and activate Brisk R to have a refreshing hp shield for the duration of your especially long AM duration. That could be pretty good...

being a damage shield means you can "pseudo-heal" through effects that normally are blistering for healing (sickened, weakened, enfeebling, injuries). this is a neat interaction that comes up occasionally. Another benefit is that the damage shield is instant protection, whereas ancient memory takes time. Having Her Courage first means that when you switch to it, you immediately get 10 pts of damage protection, whereas to get the same with a typical AM would take almost the entire chant/linger; there's a time-based discount factor to consider here.

 

But by far the most powerful aspect of the damage shield is that it refreshes when the chant is re-applied to people. Ancient Memory doesn't do much when refreshed - you still get a steady drip of health, same as always. However, the more often you refresh the damage shield, the more powerful it becomes. For example: troubadour with brisk recitation and a song that is solely "Her Courage" can almost carry an entire party against Hauane O Whe; normally you have to worry about Symbiote (which normally does 9.6 raw damage/tick forever or until you move and spawn enough oozes, the latter which also functions as a distraction and for the less skilled can be a major merging liability). However, refreshing a 10pt damage shield every tick means you never have to worry about that dot ever again. That's an extreme example. But even in less optimized cases (e.g. just a normal chanter who normally uses invocations) the instant refresh can give you outsized benefits in a typically challenging fight. Obviously you want healing as well, but the combined effect of a recurring damage shield *and* other healing can really feel like more than the sum of its parts. 

TL;DR - 25 pt damage shield would've been entirely broken IMO. 10-pt can feel weak in some situations, but can be extremely powerful in others. 25-pts would make it powerful in all situations and entirely broken in others.

Edited by thelee
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7 hours ago, Jayd said:

Anyway, not very impressed with Her Courage as a level V phrase. At least it's better than vanilla Dragon Thrashed... 

Jayd, you mentioned above that you are using the Polishing mod. Dragon Thrashed is upgraded in this mod, right? Do you find it worth using with the mod installed. It must also cause a lot of interrupts as well as decent damage when energized, right?

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21 minutes ago, dgray62 said:

Jayd, you mentioned above that you are using the Polishing mod. Dragon Thrashed is upgraded in this mod, right? Do you find it worth using with the mod installed. It must also cause a lot of interrupts as well as decent damage when energized, right?

It's ok and maybe I should try it out again, but I stopped using it in favour of Long Night's Drink. Constitution afflictions are very good (see the thread below) and LND gets +10 accuracy from Helm of the White Void. I haven't actually checked but I'm pretty sure that Dragon Thrashed will only potentially interrupt on its first application - like the other offensive chants it's an effect with a duration so only its first application has an attack roll that it can crit with.

With Helwalker Might and all it was doing ~18 damage per tick if both damage types penetrate, which is solid so far as DoTs go, but this character does a lot of burst damage, so I valued the extra accurate CON affliction more (if you blow up an enemy with a nuke, reduced max health is more likely to help than a DoT) as well as the mod-buffed Fox from Farmer, which has a hefty debuff to Reflex for Her Revenge and Seven Nights as well as helping with disengagement for survivability. 

Forgot to link the thread: 

 

Edited by Jayd
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LND is a great chant, and you get it earlier than Dragon Thrashed, which is nice. It also debuffs fortitude, which is great if you do decide to get O'Eld Nary. I usually mainly use Her Revenge, but it's essential  to have either that or Seven Nights for lightning immune foes, as I know you know.

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