I've decided to push myself by playing on PoTD with Expert Mode enabled, and given that Deadfire is on its way early next year I want to create a character to import.
However, I'm torn on how to build my party since I found Hard difficulty quite challenging by itself [...]
Are you certain about this decision to play with Expert Mode on, especially if it's your first foray into PotD and Hard has already proven to offer some challenges on its own? I suppose a lot depends on how much you've learned during your playthroughs, as that tends to make all the difference. I also suppose you can always disable EM if it proves to be too restricting for you, however you won't be able to enable it again for that particular run. Or you can simply enable/disable extra options in the menu as you see fit, as that's pretty much all the mode does: turns off all of them as a full package.
Disclaimer: I am thoroughly biased here, since I consider Expert Mode more of an artificial difficulty rather than actual challenge. One that only adds to general tedium and annoyance and wastes your time by removing quality of life improvements. Like playing with a blindfold on. But that can be strangely compelling to some.
I do have a few ideas though, and some I'd be reluctant to part with. My MC has to be an Aedyr Meadow Folk because I have a custom portrait I intend to use, and I'd like to prioritise relatively high Mental stats to maximise dialogue options, but background and class are quite flexible. I'd like to pick a class that could have potential multiclass synergies, and I'd like to play one of a Cipher, Druid, Monk, Chanter or Ranger (in descending order of how much I want to play them).
I can talk about a Human Cipher focused on maximizing access to all potential dialogue options (well, perhaps 99,9% of them; Glanfathan Leader in the prologue gets a pass).
There will be some variation in base stats based on whether you intend to pursue melee or ranged path, crowd control or raw damage dealing, and how exactly do you like to play: for example, you can get by with much lower Resolve (although this applies to all dialogue-related stats, this one gets sacrificed the most for combat efficiency) if you go take your stronghold - and consequently get access to Defiance Bay - before completing any/some of the quests in Gilded Vale and surrounding areas. Once at that point it becomes considerably easier to meet all desired checks, provided enough copper and no severely dumped applicable stat. Added bonus: a few more stronghold turns.
As far as the rest of the party goes, I'm planning on using Aloth, Edér and Pallegina throughout since they carry over to Deadfire, but the last 2 companions are quite flexible. I'd prefer not to use Sagani though, throughout my last campaign Itumaak was bugged and seemed to have a movement speed of 0.00001 in combat so I'd rather not have to deal with that again.
Durance and Kana are fine picks if you end up going with MC Cipher, and want to have a relatively easier time on PotD. Although if you can't stand either or prefer to have Hiravias or GM along with you, they can more than carry their weight. White March additions can be trickier since they lend themselves towards some melee routes, just like Eder and Pallegina usually. Less casters would call for different strategies (fully doable of course, but likely harder).
If you go with a different class, pick based on your preferences and/or weaknesses of your current party. You can always use more characters than 5 and slot them in for fights where a particular class might help you greatly, as long as you hold onto some gear for them.
Re: Itumaak: that's an unfortunate (and likely rare) bug, something PoE is unfortunately very well known for. If you like having Sagani around, chances are it's not going to be a common occurrence.
(Side notes: Should I kill or bargain with Sefyra? It seems like I could run into her in Deadfire if I help her escape, but Scale Breaker seems like it would pretty useful. Same question applies for Llengrath. Also, I know it's a bit late to pledge for Deadfire, but I'd like to do so; however, is there any issue due to the fact that I'd be converting from GBP to USD?)
I haven't looked much into PoE 2, but which NPCs may or may not reappear seems to be anybody's guess and something dependent on developers' whims. The rule of thumb generally tends to be: if it's not a companion and can be killed, it's unlikely to have a grand defining role in the continuation. But they coud always have some minor side content. Unless Deadfire decides to break the mold and pull one over on people who enjoy leaving many a dead body in their wake.
You can err on the side of caution, follow your usual preferences, go with whatever your character would be most likely to do if you adhere to roleplaying principles, or grab your precious loots without a care in the world.
Never too late to pledge if it can help with the ongoing game development and one is interested in pursuing certain perks. I still hope to be able to do it myself later in the year.
There should be no issues whatsoever when using PayPal or similar forms of payment, as the currency conversion is being done automatically (and you should be informed of the final value and current rates before having to finalize anything).
Edited by Soaren, 01 September 2017 - 05:49 PM.