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Combat tips and Constructive Criticism on combat/spell mechanics

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In general, I really, really like what Obsidian's done with their RPG system - but there are a few rough edges I would really like to see cleaned up. For context, let me tell you about how I approach the game. Currently, I'm playing in Hard mode with a party of 4 (total) characters. We usually only camp after "boss" encounters or when a party member is fatigued. The current team:


Dwarf Druid. Stag (because it looks awesome!), corrosive strike. Wields a sword. He's 80% melee, 20% caster. 

Orlan Wizard. Waits for enemies to clump, then barrages them. In big fights, he'll cast chilling cloud or oil slick. 

Orlan Priest (of Skaen). Wields a stiletto or club. Uses his encounter powers, then wades in to provide flanking. Casts only when necessary.

Fire Godlike Chanter* (dwarf sized). Wields either a greatsword or battle axe. Usually chants +Ref or +Fort/Will. Rarely invokes.


*Sadly, my Chanter is mostly a warm body, because most fights are over way too quickly to use her cool invocations. I'd likely be better off with someone else in this slot.


My four munchkins (pun intended) can faceroll encounters that my earlier full teams couldn't touch. Some of it's the characters, but mostly it's just my evolving set of "how to play" rules:

  • Avoid letting enemies try to hit you. Overwhelm them with damage (to shorten combat), fight in a doorway, or liberally apply disabling spells. You want the enemies Blind, Confused, and/or Prone. Pay attention to their defenses and DR. And don't forget that Arcane Barrage has a Daze! 

    For example, we defeated the spider queen without letting her make a single attack.

  • Use combos. The enemy has a weak will, awesome reflexes, and burns like kindling, but your only fire spell targets reflexes? Use a spell that targets Will to daze/stun/paralyze, and then follow up with your fire spell.
  • Everyone wears the heaviest armor I have (unless it clashes with their color scheme). DR is just too important, because health (not endurance) is finite. The whole party is in brigadine/plate/scale.
  • Give your characters distinct color schemes and headgear, to make it easier to tell who's who in large encounters. My wizard wears the duelist hat (it's hard to miss), so I'm always hyper-aware of his positioning.
  • Don't split the party! Stay near your teammates so you don't get surrounded.
  • Everyone has a melee weapon, and switches to it as soon as enemies close with them. You aren't "engaging" enemies if you're using a ranged weapon, which means you aren't contributing to flanking for your ally who's trying to help you. Flanking is very important, so melee weapons are a must.
  • Leave one hand free. The "empty left hand" accuracy bonus is huge. If possible, everyone on my team is using a single one handed weapon, and one person (my chanter) has a +Accuracy 2h weapon. Nobody dual wields, and nobody uses a shield. Have you noticed that the game considers the difference between "Very Low" accuracy and "Very High" accuracy to be 10 points? 
  • Everyone must have weapons for slash, pierce and crush damage. Since you usually have two weapon slots, this means you need one weapon that does A/B, and the other does C. 
  • Learn to love your single-target and Foe AOE spells. You can largely ignore the rest unless you're on the front line.
  • Enchant your weapons as soon as you can. You'll definitely want one or two spirit-bane weapons; otherwise encounters with spectral enemies will burn through your spells.

Now for some things I'd like to see changed/improved (in no order at all):

  • All enemies, no matter their intellect, instantly evaluate the party and figure out who's going to be most vulnerable to their attacks, and then they go after them. Because most fights involve multiples of the same enemy type, it means all enemies of that type swarm a particular character every time you see them, making each battle a bit repetitive. If you could add a little more randomness, that'd definitely help.
  • Pathfinding issues and crowded rooms often make a team of 6 less effective than a smaller team.
  • Constitution needs a boost - it just doesn't seem like a worthwhile stat for almost anyone. Damage far outpaces Defense in this game (which is cool), so being "Tanky" isn't as valuable. I'd suggest adding one of the following additional benefits:
    • +X% to (endurance) healing effects targeting this character from any source.
    • At the end of an encounter, if you're not knocked out, regain +X% of health lost during that encounter. (It was just a flesh wound!)
    • +X% of Endurance must be lost before health can be damaged.
  • Weapon elemental damage enchantments don't help any more than just enchanting for more damage. But if I'm using a flaming sword against a troll, I'm doing it to try and bypass its DR - but it doesn't work out that way. So instead of adding +25% weapon damage as fire, elemental enchantments should simply add that element as one of the damage options for the weapon. So a fire enchanted dagger would do (Best) Slashing/Fire, while a cold enchanted greatsword would do (Best) Slashing/Piercing/Cold. 
  • One of the attributes (but not Intellect) should extend the targeting range of non-cone/ray spells (for example, how close you need to be standing to the target to cast a single target spell). Perception seems like it might be a good choice.
  • The double-whammy accuracy penalty for shields needs to be replaced with a recovery penalty instead.
  • Shadows and Specters need to be reworked. Right now, they're super-rogues who set themselves up for sneak attacks and critical hits with each attack, while avoiding engagements through teleportation and really high deflection/DR. If you have the right spells/abilities, you can destroy them easily. Otherwise they alpha strike you into the dirt. There's almost no middle ground. They'd be a lot more interesting as opponents if:
    • The elemental weapon damage change from above were implemented
    • Their teleport ability left them vulnerable (or weakened) for a short period after use
    • Their sneak attack ability were removed or reduced. Sneak attack is a large bonus that's balanced by requiring teamwork to pull off. If you can set yourself up for sneak attacks at will, then it's just a flat 50% damage boost.
    • Their disables/debuffs should be reduced or removed from their basic attacks, or their accuracy should be lowered. If you can apply a (non-stacking) -20 deflection effect with every attack, you basically just have +20 accuracy, which is about a +7 level difference (considering +3 accuracy/level).
    • They were more "chanter" and less "rogue." It'd seem a lot more thematic if they used chants and invocations instead of sneak attacks, especially since their high defenses and DR can drag out combat. 





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Here's a related question.

How do I figure out what is influencing the accuracy of one of the party members? I was going to submit an enhancement request to add more details to the combat log to include more details about accuracy influencers. I'm finding it difficult to figure out why my accuracy is nearly null in some situations, yet when I go to the char page, the accuracy listed does not match.



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