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Looking for some party advice - mostly specific dc questions

Hi folks -
Bit of background, I am a longtime IWD/IWD2 player, but it's been 7+ years since my last full run through the game. I've got a party together, and am looking for some specific advice on a few points. The party is playing on Insane, then will do a second run through HoF; vanilla IWDEE, no tweaks or mods; stats are 85+; my play style is about managing combat efficiently and runs more toward crowd control than max DPS at all times.

Dwarven Defender
Human Kensai (will dc to mage)
Half Orc F/C
Half Elf F/Dr
Gnome Cl/Ill
Human Assassin (will dc to mage)

Questions:
1) Aside from the lvl 30 cap, is there an XP cap for dc characters? I'm thinking of doing a very high level dc for the assassin (17+, maybe even 21) but I have seen reference in a couple places to an 8M cap. Is there actually any impediment to a 21/30 assassin/mage?

2) Best actual level to dc the assassin? Looking for a balance between max value and playability, so will want to have high sneak attack/backstab but not be without thief skills before certain trap heavy areas (e.g. DE lvl 5 on HoF round).

3) Assassin currently uses short swords and short bows, am mulling over crossbow proficiency. Will she be able to use heavy crossbows?

4) Will probably dc the kensai at over lvl 9. Best level to dual at? I've seen posts with duals at 12 and 13, to take advantage of kensai bonus and fighter increase to A/R respectively, but have also seen some fairly strong opinions on those options with not much explanation. Would someone like to lay it out for me?

Thanks!

Comments

  • joluvjoluv Member Posts: 2,136
    edited April 2015
    1. No, you can dual-class as late as level 29 and still get you original class back.

    2. If you don't have your thief levels back by the time you get to DE5 the second time, you can just go to Lonelywood and rack up a ton of experience. I wouldn't worry about it too much.

    3. No, only light crossbows.

    4. A lot of the advice you'll see on when to dual-class is for BG2, which has a hard experience cap. In IWD, it's safe to dual-class late, since you can always reach level 30 in your second class. Your party sounds capable of babysitting a low-level character for a long time, so I wouldn't do it any earlier than level 13. It just depends on how you feel about being powerful early vs. being super-powerful eventually. Given that you like more crowd control stuff, maybe you want another arcane caster sooner rather than later.

    JuliusBorisov
  • AerichAerich Member Posts: 110
    Thanks for the info. I used to mostly go for multis, so my knowledge of the fine points of dc is somewhat limited. Great idea to hit up Lonelywood early on round two.

    I'm thinking that I'll probably hold on to lvl 21 to dc the assassin, unless anyone has thoughts on a "better" high-level at which to dc.

    I'll probably take the kensai to a lvl or two beyond 13. This party will have enough melee before and after the kensai regains his levels. It makes sense to use this character as a HoF boss-killer with MI and Stoneskin etc. as the DD may not be up to it. I'll need those kensai levels.

    Even before the dcs dual I'll have enough spell support, and once I add two more arcane casters to the mix, it'll be crazy. This party already feels overpowered for Insane, although I'm still in the early stages. The assassin is nastier than expected.

    joluv
  • ZyzzogetonZyzzogeton Member Posts: 526
    You're seriously overestimating what HoF can do against a high level party.

    HoF, slowly but surely, turns into a cakewalk for a party that starts fresh. So what can it do against a party that's already leveled, has gear, especially one with a Mage that already has the benefit of a full spell book?

    If you're importing to HoF you shouldn't worry about the difficulty. The Cleric/Illusionist with Find Traps activated can just walk through traps with all the protections it has access to and Invisibility, then later on just open chests by themselves.

    WowoGod
  • WowoWowo Member Posts: 2,058

    You're seriously overestimating what HoF can do against a high level party.

    HoF, slowly but surely, turns into a cakewalk for a party that starts fresh. So what can it do against a party that's already leveled, has gear, especially one with a Mage that already has the benefit of a full spell book?

    If you're importing to HoF you shouldn't worry about the difficulty. The Cleric/Illusionist with Find Traps activated can just walk through traps with all the protections it has access to and Invisibility, then later on just open chests by themselves.

    Agree.

    If you min max then HoF should only be done with a fresh party.

    I'd only consider importing to HoF mode if I was playing with a total non min max party, like, no adjusting stats up and down and no OP classes/kits.

    My level 1 HoF party was something like:
    Kensei -> Druid
    Kensei -> Mage
    Skald
    Berserker -> Cleric
    Priest of Lathander -> Fighter
    Swashbuckler -> Mage

    I then started another run with a friend with just a FMC and a FMT, much more fun.

  • ZyzzogetonZyzzogeton Member Posts: 526
    Wowo said:

    no OP classes/kits.

    And because of the benefit of an entire playthrough nearly any dedicated, multiclass, or dual class (if the caster class gets enough levels) caster falls under this.

    So imported parties that completed a previous playthrough that don't end up wrecking HoF from the get go are pretty rare, since nearly every party seems to have a Cleric, Druid or Mage in them.

  • AerichAerich Member Posts: 110
    Understood. Before EE I beat the game twice on HoF with a lvl 1 party, and I abandoned an Insane party doing a second run on HoF because my paladin had 90% of the kills by turning undead strolling through the Vale of Shadows. I have rolled up a couple of fresh HoF parties and have gotten to the Vale with them, including a FMT and RC duo.

    However, with this particular party I'm working myself back into gaming shape and trying to gain familiarity with the new changes/kits, experimenting with spells, etc.

    joluv
  • HaeravonHaeravon Member Posts: 17
    Aerich said:

    Hi folks -
    Bit of background, I am a longtime IWD/IWD2 player, but it's been 7+ years since my last full run through the game. I've got a party together, and am looking for some specific advice on a few points. The party is playing on Insane, then will do a second run through HoF; vanilla IWDEE, no tweaks or mods; stats are 85+; my play style is about managing combat efficiently and runs more toward crowd control than max DPS at all times.

    Dwarven Defender
    Human Kensai (will dc to mage)
    Half Orc F/C
    Half Elf F/Dr
    Gnome Cl/Ill
    Human Assassin (will dc to mage)

    Questions:
    1) Aside from the lvl 30 cap, is there an XP cap for dc characters? I'm thinking of doing a very high level dc for the assassin (17+, maybe even 21) but I have seen reference in a couple places to an 8M cap. Is there actually any impediment to a 21/30 assassin/mage?

    2) Best actual level to dc the assassin? Looking for a balance between max value and playability, so will want to have high sneak attack/backstab but not be without thief skills before certain trap heavy areas (e.g. DE lvl 5 on HoF round).

    3) Assassin currently uses short swords and short bows, am mulling over crossbow proficiency. Will she be able to use heavy crossbows?

    4) Will probably dc the kensai at over lvl 9. Best level to dual at? I've seen posts with duals at 12 and 13, to take advantage of kensai bonus and fighter increase to A/R respectively, but have also seen some fairly strong opinions on those options with not much explanation. Would someone like to lay it out for me?

    Thanks!

    1) There is no hard cap. I just checked and confirmed-got a level 28 Kensai (5,000,000 XP), then dual-classed her into a Mage, gave her 8,000,000 XP, and sure enough, she hits 30th level as a Mage. For some reason my guide still says there's a hard cap... must be a remnant of and older version that needs fixed.

    2) Depends what you want out of this Thief. If you want to get the most out of your Assassin's backstab, however, you'll need to hit 21st level as a Thief. This will take about 2,400,000 XP to do, and to hit 22nd level as a Mage you'll need 4,500,000 XP. If you want to min-max, there's no reason you can't hit 29th level as a Thief, though.

    3) Short Bows are awful in IWD. Awful. The best bow in the game is the Longbow +4: Hammer... which you can't use. Crossbows are probably a better bet for most of the main game, as you can get a Heavy Crossbow of Speed fairly early on, and a Reinforced Heavy Crossbow later, both of which have good attack and damage bonuses, and bonus attacks per round. Later on, pick up the Dagger "Lover +4". It can be used as a ranged weapon or a melee weapon, and you can use a shield in your off-hand. Far superior to any Short Bow in the game.

    4) Kensai get most of the Hit Points they'll receive by 9th level, but there are several reasons people dual-class at 12th level. First, more weapon proficiency slots. Second, slightly more HP and THAC0. Third, and most importantly, 12th level gets them bonus attack and damage (+1/3 levels), (-1 speed factor/4 levels) and another use of Kai (1/4 levels). The next time they'll get a level as stacked is level 24, but otherwise their THAC0 progression ends at 20th level, and by then you'll have all the weapon proficiencies you'll need (especially considering you'll get more as a Mage). If you want to min-max, again, hit level 29. If you want to gain your Kensai abilities back any time soon, level 21 or 24 should be sufficient.

    JuliusBorisov
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    Kensai will get an improvement in saves at level 13 iirc, and the extra 1/2 attack. Dualing at 12 seems insane to me for any Fighter, unless you REALLY don't care about apr, which some don't.

    IMHO, you might have more fun with a swashbuckler to mage dualed a fair bit earlier. It'll cover your thief needs, and give you another mage sooner, though scrolls aren't exactly overabundant.

    If you intend to dual out of fighter earlier, Berserker has an edge over Kensai, but if you want to go later, Kensai is a decent choice, even for a Cleric dual. Clerics are really good in IWD remember, and mages WAY less required vs BG2, though if you enjoy dropping massive spell damage, a mage or sorcerer is the best at it.

    Most casual players shouldn't play HoF without an imported party. 1 goblin will manage a TPK if you don't have optimal tactics. If you do you optimal tactics, it's STILL pretty hard. An already high level party can play through HoF using suboptimal tactics and still win/have fun, which is the idea IMO for casual play.

    JuliusBorisov
  • AerichAerich Member Posts: 110
    Thanks for your comments @Haeravon and @DreadKhan.

    @Haeravon, regarding #3, the suggestion for Lover is a good one. But until I get to that point, I need a better ranged weapon, and I understand that the assassin can't use heavy crossbows. I'm really only using shortbows for the APR and the ability to do additional poison damage. I will add crossbow proficiency just in case I get the light crossbow of speed or some other extra APR crossbow I can use.

    I'll stick with dualing the Kensai at lvl 13-15 for the APR. I'm a little concerned about downtime before I get the Kensai levels back, so I don't want to go into the 20s for Kensai levels. 13-15 levels of Kensai plus the wizard buffs are plenty sufficient for a melee monster. I'm less concerned about regaining the assassin levels, as the assassin's abilities in this party are more about utility/perks, not front line capability.

    JuliusBorisov
  • ZyzzogetonZyzzogeton Member Posts: 526
    edited April 2015
    If your goal for the Assassin>Mage was utility instead of using it in the front line, then why wait so long to dual class it?

    An extra multiplier or two isn't worth it if you're not going to exploit Mislead+Backstab with Improved Haste and the Long Sword of Action or the Valiant

  • AerichAerich Member Posts: 110
    That's a good question, @Zyzzogeton. I may not be entirely clear in my own mind how I want to use this character. After some thought, I would like to use this character as a damage dealer, but not exactly a tank most of the time. I picture a third-in type of melee character that situationally causes a lot of damage, and/or a buffed assassin to get up close and personal with casters. This party does lack some ranged capability (note that nobody can use longbows, a significant blow) so such a character is nice to have, although I don't view it as essential. I find that a 6 person party even on HoF has the ability to carry one or two relative duds for a while, as long as there are some other standouts.

  • GodGod Member Posts: 1,150
    edited April 2015
    Aerich said:

    I'm really only using shortbows for the APR and the ability to do additional poison damage. I will add crossbow proficiency just in case I get the light crossbow of speed or some other extra APR crossbow I can use.

    Shortbows should suffice until you get a better weapon, though the Messenger of Sseth and the Short Bow of Ebullience are your only notable options here. The former, while rather underwhelming, can be acquired quite early (Dragon's Eye), the latter is available at Castle Malraudek, so rather late-game, but it might be useful with HoF trolls, as it deals some fire damage every few hits.
    Aerich said:

    That's a good question, @Zyzzogeton. I may not be entirely clear in my own mind how I want to use this character. After some thought, I would like to use this character as a damage dealer, but not exactly a tank most of the time. I picture a third-in type of melee character that situationally causes a lot of damage, and/or a buffed assassin to get up close and personal with casters. This party does lack some ranged capability (note that nobody can use longbows, a significant blow) so such a character is nice to have, although I don't view it as essential. I find that a 6 person party even on HoF has the ability to carry one or two relative duds for a while, as long as there are some other standouts.

    Well, HoF can be soloed with a druid, even starting at level 1. With a full party that includes a druid, it's a walk in a park, really.

    If I were to suggest one thing that would broaden your weaponry selection a bit, I'd tell you to replace the f/c with a blackguard (if you want even more poison) or an undead hunter (lots of undead enemies in IWD plus Pale Justice). Further, for some backstabbingwhacking fun, a half-orc cleric/thief is very rewarding once you get hold of a good club (e.g. Svian's +5 from Burial Isle). Another thing you might want to try is a monk, as IWDEE adds a couple of monk-specific items. But these are all suggestions for a future playthrough. In the meantime, enjoy your current one!

  • joluvjoluv Member Posts: 2,136
    God said:

    Shortbows should suffice until you get a better weapon, though the Messenger of Sseth and the Short Bow of Ebullience are your only notable options here.

    Messenger of Sseth is a longbow.

    GodDreadKhan
  • HaeravonHaeravon Member Posts: 17
    joluv said:

    God said:

    Shortbows should suffice until you get a better weapon, though the Messenger of Sseth and the Short Bow of Ebullience are your only notable options here.

    Messenger of Sseth is a longbow.
    Yeah, there's really not anything in the way of Short Bows through the whole main game. The Short Bow of Ebullience can't be found until Trials of the Luremaster, and the Storm Bow isn't until Heart of Winter. I think a Short Bow +1 is the only magical Short Bow in the main game. At least, the only one I've found. It's beyond silly, since you can find a Long Bow +2: Defender in the Temple of the Forgotten God, which is arguably a better weapon than any Short Bow in the game.

  • ZyzzogetonZyzzogeton Member Posts: 526
    edited April 2015
    Weapon diversity and the Pale Justice are pretty overrated. Most of your damage will be coming from the other bonuses (STR, Proficiencies Buffs) The Long Sword of Action + 4 makes for a better weapon over the Pale Justice and the Singing Blade plainly due to the fact that more APR means more times those bonuses get applied.

    And honestly the Pale Justice is something you get at the end of the game. At that point whatever benefit that +7 provides is practically miniscule. At least the LSoA can be acquired fairly early if the player goes through HoW.

    All you need is a +1 weapon for most of the game. And if you really want to be sure, there's like a dozen Morning Star/Flails +2 or 3 that the game gives you. Long Swords is another well populated proficiency.

    Post edited by Zyzzogeton on
  • GodGod Member Posts: 1,150
    joluv said:

    God said:

    Shortbows should suffice until you get a better weapon, though the Messenger of Sseth and the Short Bow of Ebullience are your only notable options here.

    Messenger of Sseth is a longbow.
    Oh damn. I forgot I modded it :smiley:

  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    Pale Justice would be better for a Fighter than a Paladin, as Fighters can get GM, and thus more APR, while Paladins cannot. However, a Paladin can dualwield PJ and the Longsword of Action late game. Good vs Belhefit, and makes him pretty competitive with a Fighter, if he's facing the right kind of enemy. If a Fighter duals early enough, yes, +apr weapons are the best, but if he waits till 13 or higher, he only nabs 1/2 apr iirc, which a better weapon can potentially keep up with.

    Many would rather pull out their eye teeth than do a really late fighter dual in IWD I hear, but someone running a pure fighter might as well maximize potential.

  • ZyzzogetonZyzzogeton Member Posts: 526
    edited April 2015
    GM grants 1 APR and 3 damage over Proficient.

    So no, the Paladin is still behind since the Fighter adds 3 damage to both weapons effectively turning two +4's into +7's while the Paladin only has a +7 in one hand and a +4 in the other. And this bonus is effective on every enemy in the game.

    Dualing at 7 grants .5 APR with GM over a 13+ Paladin, which the Paladin can't match unless they equip a second +APR item.

    And just for giggles since you brought up dual classing, F>M has Mislead, Simulacrum (for 2 Fighters) and Time Stop. Then there's Tenser's Transformation, Black Blade of Disaster. Oh and that's not including Kensai bonuses + Kai or Berserk from a Berserker. So a late game +7 is pretty insignificant given what a F>M can do at the end of the game.

  • HaeravonHaeravon Member Posts: 17

    GM grants 1 APR and 3 damage over Proficient.

    So no, the Paladin is still behind since the Fighter adds 3 damage to both weapons effectively turning two +4's into +7's while the Paladin only has a +7 in one hand and a +4 in the other. And this bonus is effective on every enemy in the game.

    Dualing at 7 grants .5 APR with GM over a 13+ Paladin, which the Paladin can't match unless they equip a second +APR item.

    And just for giggles since you brought up dual classing, F>M has Mislead, Simulacrum (for 2 Fighters) and Time Stop. Then there's Tenser's Transformation, Black Blade of Disaster. Oh and that's not including Kensai bonuses + Kai or Berserk from a Berserker. So a late game +7 is pretty insignificant given what a F>M can do at the end of the game.

    Don't forget Improved Haste. A Fighter/Mage with Improved Haste and the right gear can potentially get 10 APR.

  • GodGod Member Posts: 1,150
    edited April 2015
    Haeravon said:

    Don't forget Improved Haste. A Fighter/Mage with Improved Haste and the right gear can potentially get 10 APR.

    Hm... If I recall correct, there is a Ring of the Warrior Thief that grants +1 to STR and an additional attack, as well as a Ring of Reckless Action that grants an additional attack at 2 AC penatly, though they are both random loot and the former can only be used by thieves. Then there are the weapons 'of Action', each granting a further additional attack. In theory, then, even a thief could be elevated to 10 APR with Improved Haste and the right gear.

  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    I suspect the Ring of the Warrior Thief has been removed, but Reckless Action persists I think. Making the entire discussion rather moot I would wager.

    Paladins get access to cleric spells, even more than in BG. AoF, DUHM, etc, make a Paladin that can cast VERY competitive with a fighter mage late game. For heaven's sake, its not like someone else can't cast Improved Haste on you, a Paladin has full access to that spell if he's in a party. Fighter Mages have a very low maximum strength, meaning the Paladin at high levels will hit harder than a pure Fighter, since he can with buffing get it over 20 str. For a human fighter in IWD, iirc 20 is the max with gear. A Paladin casting DUHM will have more. Fighter Mages suffer a great deal from the difficulty to boost str in IWD, something BG allows you to do to divine levels.

    Besides, I clearly said PRETTY COMPETITIVE. If you're going to argue, don't put words into my mouth. Non-Inquisitor Paladins are pretty competitive with fighters.

    "Oh yeah? Well if we min-max powergame, we can then whine the game isn't challenging enough because I can abuse the poor design of Mislead!!" Yeah, that. Good luck arguing that with me.

  • ZyzzogetonZyzzogeton Member Posts: 526
    edited April 2015
    You do realize Simulacrum creates a second Fighter correct?

    A STR boost is pretty irrelevant when there's a second version of the Fighter>Mage swinging the same weapons. Even if it's a little weaker it's still going to output more than enough damage to compensate for the lack of an STR boost.

    Also if it matters then that's what the Fighter>Cleric is for. And since you brought DUHM up, Fighter>Clerics get STR breakpoints faster than a Paladin does. The Fast Flail makes up for the Long Sword of Action. Up until the final boss anyway.

    Which is relatively irrelevant because for nearly most of the game the Fighter>Cleric has been doing more damage than the Paladin.

    It doesn't matter how unchallenging the game is. The Pale Justice is a pretty lame weapon to center a character around on mechanically. It's a late game item, with a fairly small bump in damage for a character that's stuck as a gimped version of a Fighter>Cleric for extra weapon proficiencies that don't really matter. Nor access to the various cheese spells the Fighter>Mage has

    Also, if a something needs a late game weapon to be competitive, that's pretty much a problem in itself.

  • HaeravonHaeravon Member Posts: 17
    God said:

    Haeravon said:

    Don't forget Improved Haste. A Fighter/Mage with Improved Haste and the right gear can potentially get 10 APR.

    Hm... If I recall correct, there is a Ring of the Warrior Thief that grants +1 to STR and an additional attack, as well as a Ring of Reckless Action that grants an additional attack at 2 AC penatly, though they are both random loot and the former can only be used by thieves. Then there are the weapons 'of Action', each granting a further additional attack. In theory, then, even a thief could be elevated to 10 APR with Improved Haste and the right gear.
    Well, I tend to play with a party of five F/M/Cs and one F/M/T, each of which can buff themselves with Improved Haste. The new build I'm working on (not in the guide currently) substitutes a Ring of Free Action with a Ring of Reckless Action and two Morning Stars +4: Defender, which gets them up to 9 APR, if I remember correctly. I've considered replacing on of the Morning Stars +4: Defender with a Fast Flail +2, but I'm not sure if the +2 enhancement bonus is enough to hit every enemy, or if the lower attack and damage is worth another APR. Given the number of buffs this party can cast before each fight, though, I'm not sure the difference between a +2 weapon and a +4 weapon really matters too much. My F/M/T tends to switch between a Long Sword of Action +4 and Lover +4, as necessary. If the Ring of the Warrior Thief is still in the game, I've yet to find it.

  • brunardobrunardo Member Posts: 510
    I'm 2/3 finished IWD EE on Insane with my evil party (Blackguard, Half Orc F/C, wild Mage, Half Orc barb, Elf Tempus Cleric, and Elf F/M/T and pretty good run. I want to then try HOF and thinking using the IWD NPC Mod group with my leader being sun soul Monk fresh. (Tried HOF briefly years ago but neve finished)
    (A) is this doable and (B) is some way I can import all the items I picked up on my first runthrough and pass it off to the new party...thinking of importing my F/M/T and passing it to the new party then dumping her?

  • WowoWowo Member Posts: 2,058
    brunardo said:

    I'm 2/3 finished IWD EE on Insane with my evil party (Blackguard, Half Orc F/C, wild Mage, Half Orc barb, Elf Tempus Cleric, and Elf F/M/T and pretty good run. I want to then try HOF and thinking using the IWD NPC Mod group with my leader being sun soul Monk fresh. (Tried HOF briefly years ago but neve finished)
    (A) is this doable and (B) is some way I can import all the items I picked up on my first runthrough and pass it off to the new party...thinking of importing my F/M/T and passing it to the new party then dumping her?

    In EE HoF is really not hard enough to justify importing a party, just start fresh and let the minmaxer inside of you come out.

  • ZyzzogetonZyzzogeton Member Posts: 526
    Even in the original, a high level Mage with spells (from the first playthrough) will obliterate HoF.

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