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TLDR: Q1) Which build do you feel is the more fun, mobile, versatile melee/caster: Forbidden Fist/Ascendant, Forbidden Fist/Soulblade, or...something else?
Q2) How would you build them for maximum versatility and entertainment?
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For the longest time I've been paralysed trying to decide which multiclass to commit with for a final, 'definitive' POE playthrough. I always err towards quick, 'gishy' melee playstyles, and have been trying to narrow down a build that hits the following criteria...
 

Spoiler

Criteria

  • Mobile
  • Good melee DPS
  • Resilient (not necessarily tanky, but can take a hit)
  • Versatile, capable spellcaster 
    • Love the flavour and range of effects offered by spells like Mind Blades, Disintegrate, Phantom Foes etc
    • Don't want to be a "one trick pony", relying on a single interaction, gimmick, or spammable ability to function

 

 

 

The Forbidden Fist Monk subclass seems to tick the melee boxes perfectly...

Spoiler

Why Forbidden Fist?

  • I hear nothing but good things about them
  • A spammable (sort of) attack baseline that synergises well with cipher spells? Sign me up!
  • Tend to be built around Resolve, which makes for a tankier character on top of all the usual monk goodness.

 

The problem is I have NO idea how to allocate stats on them, as it seems like everything has some degree of importance... but also some stats seem to work against each other:

  1. Need Resolve for FF to be useable at a reasonable rate
  2. Need decent Int + Might for damage - but too much of either seem to become an issue with FF self-damage or debuff time
  3. With 3 stats needing a decent balance between them, is there any room left for bumping your action speed, your accuracy or your health?

 

think I've settled myself on trying one of the Transcendent builds listed below - FF/Ascendant or FF/Soulblade.

I'd really appreciate some advice on how to build them around the FF subclass.

I'd also love to hear from people who've tried either of these builds themselves - were they fun? Or do you feel I'd have more joy achieving the above playstyle with a different Multiclass/subclasses? (subjective of course, but I'm eager to hear stories all the same!)

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Build 1:  Forbidden Fist/Ascendant

  • Reasons
    • Part Monk = always strong
    • Forbidden Fist = decently tanky + (sort of) spammable attack that synergises well with Cipher spells
    • Ascendant = Interesting twist on the melee cipher playstyle; an ebb-and-flow between casting and melee
    • Anecdotally I've heard very fun things about this playstyle: ie. Flagellants Path and FF to rip across (and through) the battlefield + a variety of useful supportive spells to help out.
  • Questions
    • How the hell do you build one of these? Stats? Weapons? Armour? Legit don't know where to begin.
    • Is this more of a Caster than a Melee? Are you relegated to spanking something a couple times with your weapon/FF, and then spend the rest of your time casting? (Not seen too much written about melee Ascendants; mostly just in reference to Barb/Cipher multis)

 

Build 2: FF*/Soulblade

  • Reasons
    • Soulblade = the melee cipher subclass... right?
    • Feels like it wouldn't be too hard to build with a decent combination of Monk and Cipher active abilities
    • Straightforward stats
  • Questions
    • *Is FF a good subclass for this? Or would I benefit more from a different one? (Excluding Nalpazca, as I have no interest in the drug micro management)
    • I only ever seem to see this built with Shattered Pillar, WotEP shenanigans, or Sun & Moon for maximum Soul Annihilation spam... I realise the point of Soulblades is to use SA as much as possible, but does this make it one of those subclasses that falls into the 'one trick pony' trap?

 

What do you think? Have I landed on a fun, effective and versatile melee caster? Or am I better off looking closer at something like a Soulblade/Trickster Mindstalker instead?

Any help with any of these questions + any practical build advice would be EXTREMELY welcome. Much love in advance!

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It depends if you play with Community Patch or not. If you play an unmodded game those combos don't work that well because the Forbidden Fist attack doesn't generate focus.

Also the Ascendant is mostly a caster and in general you want light armor and high dex to be able to spam spells rapidly while ascended and without being interrupted. As a melee you need more protection, the FF can't have high dex either and you can be interrupted often. That's why you don't see melee Ascendants builds, they are better as ranged characters.

The Soulblade is meant for melee and works better with the FF (only with CP) - you can alternate between two strong melee attacks and can also cast spells.

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@Kaylon Thankfully I am using the Community Patch, so those combos are good to go. 

On the Melee Ascendants - I had a feeling that'd be the case. The only thing causing me to second-guess that notion is that I've seen at least a few forum regulars advocate for the Ascendant + Monk/Barbarian mix before. Not frequently enough for me to have complete confidence in the concept though, hence this post. 

Obviously a good reason the decision keeps coming back to the Soulblade though. I suppose the next question is - Transcendent or Mindstalker? 
I've seen plenty written and theorycrafted about Soulblade/Trickster. Certainly more than the Monk/Soulblade anyway.

Does that combo feel like it just offers a lot more synergy? No doubting the monk's strengths of course... just feels like the melee mindstalker hits upon a particular/popular niche.

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Monk/Ascendant is a good combo because Monks get +5 DEX and +15% Action speed via Swift Strikes, +10 INT via Duality of Mortal Presence, up to +12 ACC and wounds via Enduring Dance and +2 PEN and +5 MIG via Thunderous Blows - besides two summons. The increased INT and higher speed are the main reasons why they are great for Ascension because you want to squeeze as many spell casts into the ascension phase as possible. More INT means longer ascension and more DEX and action speed means more spells in a given time. Besides that the higher INT means bigger AoEs and longer hostile effects duration (stacks with Lingering Echoes). All Monk subclasses work well with an Ascendant if you have CP installed bc. of the reasons above - and melee isn't such a big problem imo... however I think Nalpasca or Helwalker are the best picks. But Forbidden Fist can do some cool things with Enfeebled + high INT + Lingering Echoes.

For the same reasons some players like Barbarian/Ascendant: because of Frenzy, Bloodlust and especially Blood Thirst an Ascendant can squeeze a hell lot of spells into the ascension time. Same is true for a Streetfigher if he's heating up or even on the edge (e.g. Streetfighter/Ascendant with blunderbusses+modal).  

But as Kaylon said: Ascendant wants to spam spells when asdended. I actually like other Cipher subclasses with Forbidden Fist more than Ascendant. Forbidden Fist/Beguiler for example is a nicer combo in my book. No need to do the "collect focus then spam spam spam spells" cycle but instead focus on manipulating single strong enemies. For example Enfeebled + Lingerung Echoes +10 INT and then casting Puppet Master for cheap is a hell lot of fun. You will turn a lot of tough enemies into long-lasting allies, you will have enough focus most of times (cast some Phantom Foes and Secret Horrors at the start of the battle, then go in an generate focus with FF attacks which usually is enough to pay for Puppet Master or Whisper of Treason). 

I played a Shattered Pillar/Soul Blade (also CP installed) because I liked the idea of filling up both resource pools with the same action - and it worked well. You will just be less effective in fights against single tough foes and very effective in fights with lots of weaker foes. 

Soulblade/Trickster is a very effective combo if you want to focus on Soul Annihilation and not cast spells so much. Use Sun & Moon in order to be able to spam Soul Annihilation non-stop and use a bashing shield to double down at the defensiveness of Mirrored Images, use Riposte and also get the speed of dual wielding without actually using the shield bash (because Soul Annihilation is a primary attack only that doesn't use the shield bash ever - ans since you can spam it with Sun & Moon you seldomly have to do auto-attacks). Also works with Monks to a certain extend, but they lack the defensive buffs. For a build that uses Soul Annihilation mostly Trickster is better imo. 

 

Edited by Boeroer
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FF/Soulblade is one of my favorite combos. I usually start go with 15 STR, 10 CON, 14 DEX, 18 PER, 15 INT, 18 RES with Berath's Blessings bonus points, and with Community Patch. You can easily get to 35 RES with gear, and inspiration and buffs if you do a no-rest run. I like going for Nature Godlike for the extra PL to boost the FF attack. If you are playing the vanilla game, you're better off with beguiler as pointed out above. You can start out unarmed, but then get Tuotillo's Palm. Ultimately you'll probably want either Magran's Favor or the Seeker's Fang in your main hand; both are great with this build. Once you're buffed and geared up the curse should last less than 3 seconds, so you can just alternate the FF attack and soul annihilation, which is devastating. So you'll almost never auto attack, but will hit with your main hand weapon (with the modals on for the rapier/axe and shield) when you swift flurry/heartbeat drumming procs. The modals won't slow you down since you'll rarely autoattack. Note as well that if you cast Borrowed Instincts on enfeebled foes, the duration of the buff will last much longer. There is great synergy between these subclasses IMO.

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You can also consider Instrument of Pain, FF and Soul Annihilation can be used at range with this ability. At high level, you can build your transcendant in other way than only melee guy, with a lighter armor for exemple. Weapons with the mention Increased Range (pikes etc) gain 9m, others and FF only 5m. 

 

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Another weapon that works well with a monk/soulblade is WotEP. You can alternate easily between Stunning Surge and Soul Annihilation. With your high accuracy and deflection debuffs (Cap of the Laughingstock, Phantom Foes) you can easily crit and trigger other AoE attacks with Swift Flurry/Heartbeat Drumming.

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Thanks for the help and suggestions, all. Plenty of food for thought here.

Having the pros and cons of a melee ascendant laid out like that has helped; at least in terms of ruling out that subclass in combo with FF.

The WotEP idea has piqued my interest at points in the past too, @Kaylon.  Curious to hear whether you feel a monk or rogue would be the most fun to use it with (very subjective, obviously)!

I certainly need to settle my mind on either a rogue or monk at some point. Everything on paper says ‘monk’, but for whatever reason I always seem to wind up bringing a rogue back into the discussion at some point…

Actually as a complete aside, I stumbled across a suggestion of a Trickster/Druid (believe it was a @Boeroer suggestion actually, though I can’t recall the thread). It occurred to me that I don’t see many Pathfinder builds beyond the obvious Rogue/Shifter.
 

Is there a way to build this combo to be both a capable spell caster as well as a decent melee combatant without relying on spirit shift forms?

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Also, more on-topic question, sparked by @Boeroer’s suggestion…

X/Soul Blade or X/Beguiler?

Obviously the soul blade has the SA dps potential… but how much damage does Beguiler the lose out on by comparison?

 

I like having Soul Annihilation as an option, but it also feels like you’re expected to spam it. I wonder if the beguiler might open up a few more options; both in terms of CC, but also maybe the occasional damage spell.

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The Beguiler has excellent focus generation which is not dependent on weapon damage (but can still have that, too) and is great with Mind Control - while the Soulblade is the better melee Cipher. So if it's about melee dmg I would pick the Soulblade. 

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You can spam SA, but need not do so. I tend use focus at the beginning to cast powers to debuff foes, like Phantom Foes, as well as buffs like Borrowed Instincts; I tend to use SA more later once this is done. You'll want to keep an eye on your focus, as you'll lose your nice damage boost if you max out. When your focus is full, either cast a power or use SA.

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1 hour ago, Jrllo said:

The WotEP idea has piqued my interest at points in the past too, @Kaylon.  Curious to hear whether you feel a monk or rogue would be the most fun to use it with (very subjective, obviously)!

I certainly need to settle my mind on either a rogue or monk at some point. Everything on paper says ‘monk’, but for whatever reason I always seem to wind up bringing a rogue back into the discussion at some point…

The monk is very dependent on crits for his dps and is more sturdy (especially the FF). The rogue delivers high dps against all enemies, but is a little more squishy (however the trickster has a few tools to increase his survivability). Both are good, but the monk helps more the caster part of the cipher (speed, might, penetration, intellect). If you want to use lighter armor then a solution is to use 2h weapons with increased range and stay behind your tanks.

Another strong melee/caster combo is assassin/blood mage, but it's a different style of play.

 

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16 hours ago, Kaylon said:

The monk is very dependent on crits for his dps and is more sturdy (especially the FF). The rogue delivers high dps against all enemies, but is a little more squishy (however the trickster has a few tools to increase his survivability). Both are good, but the monk helps more the caster part of the cipher (speed, might, penetration, intellect). If you want to use lighter armor then a solution is to use 2h weapons with increased range and stay behind your tanks.

Another strong melee/caster combo is assassin/blood mage, but it's a different style of play.

 

I never really know what to think about the Assassin subclass. Thematically it's awesome, but most of the time I see it used either as a means of facilitating uber alpha strikes from range (with classes like paladins), or as a means of boosting some spell damage - I've seen a good few comments on the interactions between Assassins + Evoker spells.

There are obvious challenges with building one for melee... but I'm curious to learn more about your particular Spellblade setup @Kaylon. Is it largely to do with boosting spell damage, or is it more a case of 'buff rogue into oblivion and avoid getting hit altogether'?

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One special feature of the Assassin/Wizard (or Bloodmage to be more specific) is the spell "Arkemyr's Brilliant Departure" (found in two unique grimoires) which makes you invisible for quite a long time (compared to other invisibility effects). And a Bloodmage can cast this over and over again bc. of the build-in spell replenishment that is Blood Sacrifice.

But even more importatantly: Arkemy'r Brilliant Departure doesn't break as long as you don't deal damage! Assassins get +25 ACC when invisible - so casting CC from invisibility with +25 ACC while being untargetable is pretty awesome. At the same time Wall of Draining will prolong the invisibility just fine. So in theory you can stay invisible during most fights and debuff and disable enemies like crazy before deciding to drop a nuke on them if you wish.

Add some cool items that debuff enemies passively like Cap of the Laughingstock (-10 deflection aura) and Effigy's Husk (prevent healing aura when bloodied - easy to achieve by using Blood Sacrifice) or Blackened Plate (-1 AR) or Ngati's Tusk (Hunter of Hunters lowers enemies defenses) from absolute safety. Combine with Helm of the White Void to give all your afflicition based spells +10 ACC and so on... I like being a human because when bloodied you get even more accuracy. I just use Blood Sacrifice to lower myself to bloodied while a party member buffs me with additional stuff, then cast Wall of Draining and then do the invisibility-debuff thing with monstrous accuracy.  

It's a very impactful character right away, too because the +25 ACC from stealth, combined with a powerful CC spell can decide combat right away in the early game. 

And if you want to go totally crazy you can try to use the Great Sword Effort with the enchantment "Hemorrhaging". This enchantment doesn't deal damage (see Arkemy'r Brilliant Departure) but hobbles or sickens - but it counts as weapon attack and procs off of ALL your crits, spells included. Combine with some pulsing spell like Binding Web and wear Ajamuut's Stalking Cloak. It stuns on weapon attacks from invisibility. You cast Binding Web from invisibility, it will do some crits which will proc Hemorrhaging, those will proc the stun from the cloak, that might crit and proc Hemorhhaging again - and so on and so forth.  Often this combo will produce endless stun-cycles on enemies.

You can also use weapons and ABD and deal big strikes from invisibility - but I always found it more impactful and rewarding to actually skip the damaging part and use the ACC for debuffing and disables. The guy can still deal great weapon damage if needed - it's a Rogue after all. 

Edited by Boeroer
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1 hour ago, Jrllo said:

I never really know what to think about the Assassin subclass. Thematically it's awesome, but most of the time I see it used either as a means of facilitating uber alpha strikes from range (with classes like paladins), or as a means of boosting some spell damage - I've seen a good few comments on the interactions between Assassins + Evoker spells.

There are obvious challenges with building one for melee... but I'm curious to learn more about your particular Spellblade setup @Kaylon. Is it largely to do with boosting spell damage, or is it more a case of 'buff rogue into oblivion and avoid getting hit altogether'?

The blood mage has unlimited access to invisibility and spells and all that combined with assassin's bonuses (acc, pen and crit dmg) allows you to be a very powerful caster, like @Boeroer explained. However you can't spam spells without serious healing and for that you have to mix draining spells or use draining weapons.

The melee part is self sustainable much more easily. You summon a draining weapon, attack from invisibility and finish your target before the other enemies can react which will replenish your lost health at the same time, then become invisible again, recover your spells, etc.

You can switch easily between the two modes without any drawback and have a purely offensive build. However, until you obtain Arkhemir's Brilliant Departure you have to use a more conservative way of playing. Use wizard's buffs to increase your survivability and go melee and when you draw the aggro use Smoke Veil to escape and launch a few spells, etc...

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I just played Fassina as the more straightforward Evoker+Assassin but I'm not sure it was really worth it vs just going straight Evoker.  The spells hit well when stealthed from the bonus accuracy and penetration but you give up a lot to achieve that.

Pro: extra accuracy, pen, survivability, and easier to use certain spells (Torrent if Flame or Minoletta's Piercing Burst that benefit from being surrounded).

Con: takes half your time to repeatedly invis unless you're constantly tripping Assassin's slippers, multiclassed so missing out on PL and high tier spells.

I think SC Wizard is probably just better unless in certain situations where you're desperate for penetration and the Assassin bonus or higher chance to crit and gain pen will make the difference.

There's also a lot of finnikiness with invis where spells cast from invis would sometimes get the Assassin bonus and sometimes not.  Torrent or Piercing Burst usually got it (but not always!) while other spells were very hit or miss (Fireball was like 50/50 for me).  Things like chain lightning hardly benefit at all.

The Brilliant Departure route is certainly smarter and more worthwhile.  It just pains me because when I think of an Assassin I think of killing things in big Blows rather than CCing from the shadows :(

Maybe Assassin could use some sort of tweak to help it?  A subclass trait for zero recovery Smoke Veil would fix the "spending half my time recovering from going invis" problem.  There would still be the issue of burning through Guile for invis but I think it could be worth it then.  Assassin could be the "live fast and die young" Rogue where you either kill everyone before you run out of Guile or you get killed yourself. 

Edit: I'll post in the BPM thread so as not to derail here.

Edited by crdvis16
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3 hours ago, Kaylon said:

You can switch easily between the two modes without any drawback and have a purely offensive build. However, until you obtain Arkhemir's Brilliant Departure you have to use a more conservative way of playing. Use wizard's buffs to increase your survivability and go melee and when you draw the aggro use Smoke Veil to escape and launch a few spells, etc...

I also find Concelhaut's Corrosive Siphon pretty useful for an Assassin/Blooldmage as a way to come out of invisibility which a high ACC spell that ofen heals you up while you use Blood Sacrifice.

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, Kaylon said:

The blood mage has unlimited access to invisibility and spells and all that combined with assassin's bonuses (acc, pen and crit dmg) allows you to be a very powerful caster, like @Boeroer explained. However you can't spam spells without serious healing and for that you have to mix draining spells or use draining weapons.

The melee part is self sustainable much more easily. You summon a draining weapon, attack from invisibility and finish your target before the other enemies can react which will replenish your lost health at the same time, then become invisible again, recover your spells, etc.

You can switch easily between the two modes without any drawback and have a purely offensive build. However, until you obtain Arkhemir's Brilliant Departure you have to use a more conservative way of playing. Use wizard's buffs to increase your survivability and go melee and when you draw the aggro use Smoke Veil to escape and launch a few spells, etc...

Very interesting, thanks for sharing @Kaylon! Certainly a more varied build than I’d expected; I’ve tended to assume that assassin builds are far more limited in scope due to the subclass drawbacks. This puts a far more interesting spin on compensating for them than the usual ‘stay ranged.’ 

Out of curiosity, what weapons did you use with this setup? 

The corrosive siphon synergy looks like a good suggestion too. Would this tactic REQUIRE the grimoire switch technique you’ve advocated in the past @Boeroer, or do you envision this working as more of a ‘use when you need it’ action?

 

I suppose to drag this conversation back towards the original topic to a degree (gotta think about the Google searches) - what are people’s thoughts on Sages?

Logically, they look like they should fit the melee/spell caster role perfectly. I’ve entertained Citzals Lance builds before (both for this and PoE1) but always eventually talk myself out of it due to the time it takes to buff, summon and get started. 
 

How have people found them to use in practice? Are there fun and viable alternatives to Citzal’s Lance? Does the setup grow tiresome (in either game)? 

And of course, subclass. Helwalker and Shatteree Pillar are the obvious ones. Does Forbidden Fist present any particularly interesting opportunities or synergies? 

Edited by Jrllo
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1 hour ago, Jrllo said:

The corrosive siphon synergy looks like a good suggestion too. Would this tactic REQUIRE the grimoire switch technique you’ve advocated in the past @Boeroer, or do you envision this working as more of a ‘use when you need it’ action?

Corrosive siphon doesn't require grimoire switching. You just cast it, and heal while the opponents are drained. What you need it for is Conselhaut's Draining Touch. That spell summons a weapon that only lasts for one attack. BUT, if you do not learn it, but cast it from a grimoire, and then switch grimoires before you attack, you'll have one of the best weapons in the game for the rest of the encounter. If you're going to use this, it doesn't matter what you have in your main hand since that weapon will disappear, but your offhand weapon remains. You can have a shield for extra defense, or use a club with the modal on, to debuff will, which will help you land your draining touch attacks.

As for sage subclasses, I'm a fan of FF since there's a nice synergy between the classes. Both benefit from lowish MIG, high CON and high RES. The extra healing from the FF curse expiring also helps you as a blood mage. And weakened from the draining touch will soften up foes so you can land enfeebled with the FF attack. Alternating between the draining touch and FF attacks is devastating, especially when you crit, and proc extra draining touch attacks. This would be a more tanky melee oriented sage. On the other hand, if you want attack with Citzal's, you'd be better off I think attacking from a distance (far with instruments of pain!) with a glass canon helwalker, with maxed out MIG and dumped RES.

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I realize the OP probably made his decision regarding the Transcendant, but still I want to share my experience.

I played an Ascendant/Helwalker, close to melee, and it worked marvelously. I used Grave Calling saber a lot, killing skellies summoned by Pallegina, which both Blinded, Paralyzed, damaged enemies and gave Focus (with Kitchen Stove blunderbuss offhand for Thunderous Report instant max Focus and Ascension, huge damage and Daze opening - and faster attack speed in melee from dual-wielding).

Later on moved to Seeker's Fang rapier with its Spider's Flurry and mini-disintegrations. Used Flagellant's Path to zig-zag trough the battlefield, often one-flurry killing squishies. Was super fun. Ascendant can spam spells, which is particularly helpful with high levels ones, like Disintegration. And Ascendant's high Focus ceiling was also nice for Seeker's Fang damage scaling. Plus Ascendant gets bonus damage when Ascended (therefore almost always).

I really had a lot of fun with that character.

A FF would have less damage from might, but also be MUCH more durable. And +50% duration of hostile effects PLUS enemies unable to heal AT ALL is just awesome!

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Yes, what @dgray62said. I think @Jrllo you mixed up Corrosive Siphon with Draining Touch. 

An alternative to Corrosive Siphon could be Concelhaut's Draining Missiles I guess? I didn't use that a lot though so I can't be sure. At least it's one of the few spells of the wizard that heals. 

C's Draining Touch with Grimoire switching is an option for the approach @Kaylon mentioned. The other would be C's Parasitic Staff. 

It's also not a terrible idea to stack some regeneration gear like Rings of Greater Regeneration, Three Trolls Stiched, Fleshmender and/or Trollhide Belt. Since you can get target by party members' heals while invisible, healing up yourself "passively" while casting spells does help. 

 

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2 hours ago, Haplok said:

I realize the OP probably made his decision regarding the Transcendant, but still I want to share my experience.

I played an Ascendant/Helwalker, close to melee, and it worked marvelously. I used Grave Calling saber a lot, killing skellies summoned by Pallegina, which both Blinded, Paralyzed, damaged enemies and gave Focus (with Kitchen Stove blunderbuss offhand for Thunderous Report instant max Focus and Ascension, huge damage and Daze opening - and faster attack speed in melee from dual-wielding).

Later on moved to Seeker's Fang rapier with its Spider's Flurry and mini-disintegrations. Used Flagellant's Path to zig-zag trough the battlefield, often one-flurry killing squishies. Was super fun. Ascendant can spam spells, which is particularly helpful with high levels ones, like Disintegration. And Ascendant's high Focus ceiling was also nice for Seeker's Fang damage scaling. Plus Ascendant gets bonus damage when Ascended (therefore almost always).

I really had a lot of fun with that character.

A FF would have less damage from might, but also be MUCH more durable. And +50% duration of hostile effects PLUS enemies unable to heal AT ALL is just awesome!

Thanks @Haplok. Actually I believe it was a post from you on another thread sharing your experience with a FF/Ascendant that inspired this very idea in me. The thought of zipping across the battlefield and being able to (sort of) seamlessly transition from melee burst to ranged caster + manipulator really resonated with me. Leap to a squishy, obliterate them, sling a few spells where they stood before diving back into the fray... magic!

Any more advice on gear, stats, abilities etc. from this playthrough of yours would be very welcome! 🙂

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2 hours ago, Boeroer said:

Yes, what @dgray62said. I think @Jrllo you mixed up Corrosive Siphon with Draining Touch. 

An alternative to Corrosive Siphon could be Concelhaut's Draining Missiles I guess? I didn't use that a lot though so I can't be sure. At least it's one of the few spells of the wizard that heals. 

C's Draining Touch with Grimoire switching is an option for the approach @Kaylon mentioned. The other would be C's Parasitic Staff. 

It's also not a terrible idea to stack some regeneration gear like Rings of Greater Regeneration, Three Trolls Stiched, Fleshmender and/or Trollhide Belt. Since you can get target by party members' heals while invisible, healing up yourself "passively" while casting spells does help. 

 

Yeah, you guys are dead right @dgray62 @Boeroer - I've somehow managed to merge those 2 spells together in my head. That's what you get for replying to a thread at 1am while trying to get your child back to sleep! 😅

I suppose my remaining curiosity about this build is just how much you tend to get to melee with it. Or rather, how much value there is in it. The big alpha strikes from stealth are an obvious opportunity... but would it not just be more valuable to fire off another spell of some sort instead? 

@Kaylon's build suggestion sounds like it can nicely transition between melee and spellcasting. Much like with my response to @Haplok above re. his Transcendent, there's something that really appeals in the idea of being able to seamlessly switch from melee to spellcasting (spellcasting that doesn't necessarily need to be in melee range - although obviously that necessitates some means of getting around the battlefield like Escape or Flagellant's Path). 

This is mostly showing my ignorance of Assassin builds and playstyles beyond simply piling everything into a massive alpha strike and running away, or finding ways to manipulate the mechanics of invisibility spells.

On paper this sounds like a build that can potentially scratch my itch. I just want to be sure I wouldn't be falling into a trap of having a class that requires a lot of micromanagement just for me to be playing it in a way that really goes against its strengths (ie. skewering enemies with my badass sword when really I'd be 100% better of throwing a fireball or using a gun instead)

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When it comes to the Assassin subclass I just try to keep in mind that an Assassin without any stealth or invisibility is still like a regular Rogue - but only a tiny bit more squishy (it's really not that much). So there's really no need to feverishly focus on strikes from stealth or invisibilty - if this gets screwed up the character is still a full Rogue. :) Of course it can be especially effective and fun to pull off some impactful actions from invisibility/stealth - but also sometimes it gets repetitive and then I just skip that stuff - like in easier encounters - and spare the invisibility for emergencies or so. 

By the way: why I prefer to use the Assassin as an ACC-boost to CC/debuff-spellcasting instead of alpha-strike-weapon-damage-dealer™  is that later in the game the health pools are so bloated that a weapon attack with +50% crit damage doesn't have that much impact anmore compared to just a regular weapon attack - but a reliably applied disable or even mind control will still be very impactful. In the early game however those hefty weapon attacks from stealth and invisibility do really have their merits. 

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10 hours ago, Boeroer said:

When it comes to the Assassin subclass I just try to keep in mind that an Assassin without any stealth or invisibility is still like a regular Rogue - but only a tiny bit more squishy (it's really not that much). So there's really no need to feverishly focus on strikes from stealth or invisibilty - if this gets screwed up the character is still a full Rogue. :) Of course it can be especially effective and fun to pull off some impactful actions from invisibility/stealth - but also sometimes it gets repetitive and then I just skip that stuff - like in easier encounters - and spare the invisibility for emergencies or so. 

By the way: why I prefer to use the Assassin as an ACC-boost to CC/debuff-spellcasting instead of alpha-strike-weapon-damage-dealer™  is that later in the game the health pools are so bloated that a weapon attack with +50% crit damage doesn't have that much impact anmore compared to just a regular weapon attack - but a reliably applied disable or even mind control will still be very impactful. In the early game however those hefty weapon attacks from stealth and invisibility do really have their merits. 

Honestly, this is the first time I think I’ve seen the Assassin described in a way that hasn’t focused on its frailty or it’s supposed need to use guile exclusively on stealth skills… and it’s extremely refreshing! Thanks for sharing @Boeroer!
 

It certainly sounds like this class combination is more than capable of turning on the melee, the spellcasting and the stealth shenanigans than I gave it credit for.
 

While I’ll need to investigate some suitable (and flavourful!) weapons for it beyond the summoned staff - what I’d give for a summoned, lifedraining blade - I might have to give this one a go after all. 🙂

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