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Good morning everyone,

 

I finally found time to start this game which seems incredible. Fan of Baldur's Gate, Icewind dale and Planetscape Torment, I know POE doesn't follow classic D&D rules.

 

I hesitated between a barbarian and a druid but apparently, we don't find any barbarian in the game (except if we hire someone from the "shop"). That's why I would like to start with an offensive barbarian, it seems powerful and fun to play because I saw he has several aptitudes :)

 

I am not a fan of min/max points distribution, so here what I may create:

 

- Fire Godlike (I like his style) or maybe an elf.

 

 
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9 sept à 18h05
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Index du guide
1. General Info
This guide is WiP. I'm investigating all of the classes gradually and so it's going to be updated along with my progress. If you prefer videos, I have a playlist here (in both russian and english):
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This guide is adapted for the Hard difficulty. Most of the things here will work on the Path of the Damned but still, it is recommended that you go through the easier difficulty first. Path absolutely demands familiarity with the game world.

When it comes to the attributes, Pillars of Eternity is a min-maxing game – to make a real difference, you really need to max the stats out. Which requires a lot of points so you'll have to minimize something too. Therefore, there are pretty much three default settings for the attribute – 3 aka min, 10 aka norm, 18 aka max.

Min-maxing is especially important for the main character as the maxed out stats not only make him combat-viable, they also allow him to solve dialogue situations. Without min-maxing, you'll have only two stats at the level of 17-18 (and that's what required to solve the really tough challenges). With it, you'll have three or four such stats – much more solutions available.

One of the toughest choices about the game is custom party vs companion party. Companions have personal stories and plenty of dialogues, but they're all build rather horrible so the combat is harder with them. And they take away the joy of building your party and your strategies – PoE's system is very rich and there are lots of combos to try out. On the other hand, custom companions deprive you of the NPC storylines. Without using mods (which allow you to respec NPCs and even change their classes), it's a lose-lose situation. So either use them or decide what is more important for you (and, well, if put your bet on the companions, don't set the game difficulty too high – normal is fine with them).

The party composition here is rather simple – you need two tanks on the frontline (who need to be focused on longevity first and foremost), up to two second-line damage dealers (armed with pikes) and the rest are third-line pure damage dealers and crowd controllers. The difference between second and third line damage dealers is their durability – seconds can usually take some damage, though not a lot (barbarians, for example), whereas the thirds are very squishy and, should the things go wrong, will melt in a second. You can skip second-liners altogether, but that will make your party rather prone to the ambushes – that can be worked around, but relies on save-loading and metagaming.

Skills don't matter that much. You want 4 athletics on your entire team so you don't have to rest that often. Mechanics on your main character is also pretty good – you won't find another source of them for quite a while and it's not only about disarming traps, it's about finding any kinds of secrets (and there are lots of secret stashes in the game). Everything else is at your discretion, pretty much. The only exception is stealth – some classes can squeeze out quite a bit of utility out of it.

Percentage increases to damage are better than they seem. Say, two-handed gives x1.15 damage – 15%. So the average ~17 damage from the large weapon becomes ~19,5. Against the DR 10 (nearly all foes have high DR, never forget that) 17 damage is 7 damage per hit. 19.5 is 9.5. And that's 35% more than 7.

To explain it easily, each 5 points in both accuracy and deflection equal to 10% of effectiveness. That's how the formulae work when you're evenly matched. To a new player, wizard's 20 starting accuracy being very low and rogue's 30 accuracy being very high may look confusing – it's just 10 point difference, no? But, as you see, it's 20% less hits for the wizard. Same for deflection – 15 deflection of his is 30% more hits on him than on the paladin's very high 25. Keeps this “5=10%” thing in mind to easily gauge the benefits of various talents and abilities.

One important thing for this guide is that you first distribute your ability points, second choose your culture. But, as you distribute the points, you do that with the +1 resolve culture already included. So if there's 1 point somehow missing for some of my builds, that's because of that - just switch your culture to the mentioned one and it's gonna fit.
1.a - On the Attack Speed
Speed bonuses work in a somewhat weird way. Now, dexterity is easy - it just amplifies/penalizes all of the actions. However, other speed bonuses are different. See, all attack actions are split into the attack animation & recovery time. For guns and crossbows, reload animations is also present. And see, all of the speed bonuses are applied only to the recovery time. Why that's significant? Because they're not always equal. Now, for the dual-wielded weapons, attack time always equals recovery time. So it's 20/20 frames for the small ones and 30/30 frames for the big ones (1 second is 30 frames, btw). And that makes all penalties/bonuses incurred much weaker than they seem. For example, plate armor penalty sounds scary - 50% recovery time. But, as it gets applied to the recovery only, it changes from 20/20 to 20/30 frames total - from 40 to 50, only a 25% penalty actually. Which is still steep but not as devastating, of course. By the same grace, 45% recovery from the deleterious acceleration of motion potion is not as potent as it sounds - it's only 22.5% more actual attacks.

But what about one-handed wield and two-handed weapons? And bows & wands, btw? They work another way - for them, the recovery time is always the double of the attack time. So one-handed wield of fast weapons is 20/40 split. Medium ones and two-handers are 30/60 splits. So are the hunting bows & wands. War bows & rods are 40/80. What that means is that they take the penalty much harsher - full plate turns 30/60 into 30/90 - 33% delay.It's still not a full 50%, but ouch. On the brighter side, that potion is more like 30% of actual speed increase for them.

Finally, guns and crossbows couldn't care less about those penalties and bonuses. For them, the split is 53/76/100-194 between attack, recovery and reload. First two numbers here are a bit rough - they vary for +/- 1 point for different weapons. And reload time varies from crossbow (the smallest) to the arquebus (the longest). So, for example. the full basic attack time of Arquebus is 319 frame. Recovery is only 76 frames of that so getting 50% penalty to it is turning that number into a 357. That's an 11% decrease. Even for the crossbow, plate is only 16% of actual attack speed loss. But, of course, that also makes all kinds of weapon speed bonuses (mind you, not the reload ones - reload are precious, as you see) nigh-useless for them. On the other hand, we've already loved our penetrating shot with our blunderbuss and now it's crystal clear why that's a no-brainer - it's up to 25 extra damage per shot for a measly price of 4.4% attack speed.

So the logic is simple - with duals and guns, you really want to stick to your plate armor. With everything else, it's as little armor as possible and, also, as much attack speed as possible. It even works in a somewhat exponential manner and the more attack speed you have, the more DPS you gain out of each next increase. So, while for duals the 100% attack speed bonus means double the damage output, for one-handers, bows and two-handers it actually triples it.

Now, by no means it's an easy number to acquire - not a lot of classes have attack bonuses and they're not that huge. One other downer here is that the speed enchantment of the weapons is actually broken atm - it doesn't work. Still, a naked monk under the deleterious alacrity potion, swift strikes and paladin's hastening exhortation has a 0.9 attack speed modifier. That's an incredible damage output gain. And once they fix the weapons, he'll do incredible damage with the Llawran's Stick, for example. That's also a naked monk with a quarterstaff - lots of people complain that monks in this game are not iconic and, well, here's a traditional build.

The Rain of Godagh Field (supreme war bow with 1.2 enchantment) will also become an incredible weapon - without armor penalty and with a deleterious alacrity (which you can now get from the angio's gambeson - pretty awesome armor in a 1.05) it can easily deal double the DPS that a blunderbuss/arquebus can. But that's probably a 1.06 material.

Now, because of the infrequency of all the speed bonuses, it's not really something you can amass in your party. But you can gear at least one DD around that- a speedy fighter specializing in the adventurer weapons (gives both estocs and war bows), a speedy ranger, of course (though even there the vicious aim provides more damage than the speedy aim), a lightning-fast rogue (good with the borresain war bow - high attack rate means lots of criticals, lots of stuns), Llawran's stick & General Butt-Naked (who was pretty much born for this kind of stuff), monk with the Blade of the Endless Paths, you get the drill.

White March Note: finally, the swift enchantments are working. And more than that - Gloves of Swift Action now also provide 15% speed bonus (which seems to stack with everything else). So Swift AIm + Rain of Golagh Field + Gloves of Swift Action ranger will have 55% speed bonus minimum. That's 58% extra damage dealt. Add in Hastening Exhortation or Sure-Handed Ha and we have 75% speed bonus - that's a nifty 100% extra damage dealt (though you still want to push it to the 100% limit to double that damage bonus, oh yeah). And, unlike Deleterious Alacrity trickery, that is absolutely sustainable. Groovy.
2. Races Review
The most important thing about races is not their stat buffs (the effect is negligible) but their specials. Many of the specials are very strong and can support your strategy greatly.

Humans: all three kinds have the same bonus and it works for any kind of a damage dealer. Once you're below half of endurance, you're gaining 7 accuracy and 15% extra damage dealt for 20 seconds. Note that this time is influenced by the Intelligence so dumb humans will get only 13 seconds of buff. Also, squishy humans (low endurance/deflection classes) will probably drop too fast to gain much use from it. So don't take a human character if you want to min int or play something frail.

Coastal Aumaua: 20 defense against Prone and Stunned. You can either compensate a low-fortitude build with this (past the 2.0, they became almost non-existent, however) or take it on a 18 Might 18 Constitution character (these ones are more common) to become nigh-immune against stunning and proning. Since these two disables are rather common (and there's no cleric +defense spell against them), that seems like a nice option.

Island Aumaua: a non-obvious bonus. Thinking straight, three sets of weapons make you incredibly flexible. Practically, though, your character build is usually centered around one kind of a weapon (mass critical builds & disabling weapons, for example) and it becomes so potent that the gain from switching to another weapon is overshadowed by the loss of your primary synergy (because the majority of your talents and class abilities will be directed towards it). And even in the places where you absolutely need to switch, 2 basic sets are usually enough. 3 is an overkill. There are also economical reasons – try finding/crafting 3 really strong weapons. But that's if you want to play honest. The proper way to use Island Aumaua is to go with the gun-toting Quick Pockets one. That way, you have 4 gun slots and, instead of reloading your weapons slowly, you just grab another one quickly (as it was done IRL so it's not even cheese, tbh). This strategy became much worse in the White March, though - Durgan steel is very limited so you're definitely not wasting it on your Aumaua. And, while it does wonders for other kinds of weaponry, Durgan steel is quite bad with the guns. So, as guns are non-obviously nerfew, their users became worse too.

Mountain Dwarf: 20 defense against Disease and Poison. Way too narrow. Not only this can be replicated by some rather primitive magical items, it's just not useful often enough. You want your bonus to be great in every battle, not in every tenth battle. And yeah, there are some annoying poison encounters in the game, but still, not good enough.

Boreal Dwarf: to be honest, it's also rather narrow. +15 accuracy against wilders and primordials won't work in every encounter, of course. But, at least, when it is enabled it is stupidly strong – that much precision gives you a lot of hits and criticals. You want your boreal dwarf to be a damage dealer and, if possible, somewhat focused around that extra accuracy so when he hits, he hits big.

Wood Elf: 5 accuracy, reflex and evasion against distant foes. Pretty obvious race. Excellent for rangers (and other missile weapon users), decent for casters (but here look at the range of the spells – wizards, for example, are not as far-reaching as druids are).

Pale Elf: extra 10 burn and frost reduction. Nice race for tanking – yeah, the extra sturdiness is not showcased in each battle but you'll really feel it once you start fighting drakes, for example. Or even shades in the first dungeons. They also make interesting wizards – wizards have some incentives to take Scion of Flame and Herald of Rime talents, both upping the reductions by 5 (so you're taking 15 less damage in total). Druids can consider taking these talents too. A small but nifty combo. But tanking is probably the forte of this race.

Hearth Orlan: 10% of hits against enemies who are also targeted by your teammates are converted into criticals. It seems quite a no-brainer for a damage dealer but it's actually even better for a crowd-controller. Some extra damage is nice but 50% extra durations on your disable is even better – it'll lead to that extra damage anyway. So Orlans are casters, first and foremost, though with some unique weapons that cause a disable on a crit they can also make good warriors.

Wild Orlan: after being targeted by a will attack, they gain +10 deflection/will/reflex/fortitude for 10 seconds. An obvious tank trait that also requires at least normal intelligence to be useful. They're a bit overhyped but, all in all, will attacks are not that uncommon so they're a rather fine choice. They also make excellent low-intelligence fighters (which are somewhat common in 2.0) - low will sucks and this alleviates it at least for a little.

Death Godlike: 20% extra damage against enemies with 25% endurance or lower. Seemingly not that good but it's actually golden. Rather narrow, though. There is a number of character build in the game that thrives on killing the foe – Kind Wayfarer paladins, for example. But, as paladins are not the best damage dealers ever, kill stealing can be actually difficult for them. And that's where this race rushes to the rescue – add a Bloody Slaughter talent into the mix and you can secure those kills (and reap a lot of benefits for doing so) rather nicely.

Fire Godlike: once he's below 50% endurance, he gains 4 damage resistance to everything and deals 2 fire damage per level to every foe who hits him in melee. An obviously good tanky ability that works even better in 2.0 as the common tanks have lots of strength. They can even take the Scion of Flame talent to agument this ability even further, though that depends on the class abilities. Paladins, though, have an awesome fire damage ability (and I'm not talking about Flames of Devotion) so this race seems golden for them. Becomes even better when there are lots of healing in the party (again, paladins) - for obvious reasons, of course.

Moon Godlike: first time he reaches the 25/50/75% endurance thresholds in every combat, he heals an amount of endurance in a very large radius. The amount depends on your level and is affected by your might bonus or penalty – it starts as 10 basic and on level 12 it is something like 50. But, of course, if your godlike is just 3 might (which, actually, is the way to go with some of the tank builds), it gets downgraded into 8-32 range. The radius of healing is also affected by your attributes – intelligence, as usual. But, given that its basic value is immense (20 whopping meters!), it's much more forgiving – even the 3 int gives you 13 meters which is all that you need, to be honest. So if you want a mighty tank or even a lasting damage dealer, moon godlike is a solid choice.

Nature Godlike: as long as his endurance is below 50%, gains +3 Might, +2 Dexterity and +2 Constitution. Very close to the human bonus – the effects are a bit weaker but, on the other hand, it lasts indefinitely (which can forgive the lack of intelligence, for example). Otherwise, should be used pretty much the same way.

BTW, let's not forget about an extra godlike penalty - you can't wear helmet and you lose about 2 extra stat points that way. Still, I think that first three godlike's abilities are so powerful that it's rather worth it. Nature godlike, on the other hand, begins to lose to the humans once you take this into consideration.
3. Paladins - the Hitcher

Role: second-line damage dealer + healer/buffer.

Order: Kind Wayfarer

Race: Death Godlike. This is one of the instances where his special ability is the vital part of the combo and no one else can really compare.

Stats (the Living Lands bonus included):

M 17
C 10
D 16
P 10
I 15
R 10

 

I am going to do a let's play and I hope (I guess so) I will have some fun with a barbarian. I like spells but I know I will be certainly able to hire a druid and maybe a cipher later on the game.

 

Thanks for your feedback :)

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