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We all know PoE does not give XP (mostly) for defeating foes in combat.  Instead, XP is mostly given for:

 

1.  Completing quests

2.  Exploring new areas

3.  Opening chests/doors, disarming traps, and "other interactions"

 

Of course, there is a small amount of XP which you gain on the first few encounters with enemies, until you have completely filled out the bestiary entry for an enemy type.  You of course miss out on this entirely for human and demihuman enemies.  Given the relatively low XP cap in the game, there's also the question of if you need to maximize this area of XP.

 

Of course, human/demihuman enemies drop a lot of goods worth significant cash, while monsters only drop 1-3 things (trash weapons and one crafting component) so it may balance out.

 

Regardless, has anyone tried a party which seeks to avoid combat as much as possible?  I would presume you'd need to invest in stealth for all your characters in order to sneak by as many encounters as possible, but also have one with maximized stealth/mechanics who would act as the scout grabbing everything which isn't nailed down to an enemy.  

 

It doesn't seem that the game can be as combat light as you could play the Fallout series, or Planescape:Torment.  I do think you could get things away from the Icewind Dale side of the equation with work however.  

Edited by eschaton
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For a "pacifist" playthrough, you'd  have to avoid most side content locked behind mandatory combat - so, most of the sidequests and pretty much all of Endless Paths. 

 

There are achievements for completing the game while killing less than 175 creatures, so you might want to make a build dedicated to a pacifist playthrough and nab several achievements in one go - the pacifist one, the 0 knockouts one, the solo one and the 10 rests one. You will be avoiding most fights, so you will need neither a lot of rest nor party members.

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For exploring and looting, you can do a lot with a Rogue maxed out for stealth with both points in it and + stealth bonus gear, used together with movement speed buffs. Boots of speed on a stealthed Rogue are amazing for sneaking into a room and unlocking/looting a chest with enemies nearby. I didn't find boots of speed until later in the game, but there are potions and scrolls you can use for speed buffs, and some character classes have movement speed-enhancing spells. 

 

I would still take a full size party (or close to it), because there will be times when you either can't avoid combat for an important quest, or you just screw up and get discovered. You'll also want whatever speed-buffing spells and scrolls are available from party members. That might mean using all custom party members, since the scripted companions don't come with very high stealth to start off with. 

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