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Pillars of Eternity Minimal and No Reload Thread (spoilers)

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  • Alesia_BHAlesia_BH Member Posts: 463
    edited November 2018
    Ashoka: Pale Elf, Kind Wayfarer- Entry 8 Minor Quests in and Around Defiance Bay

    Lady Webb is clearly an OG no reloader.



    Anyhoo. In our last session, Ashoka and pals completed some minor quests in and around the D, including The Parable of Wael, At All Costs, and Built to Last. These quests furnished an opportunity to practice our party fighting tactics in preparation for the assault on Raedric's Hold. We don't have it down yet, but we're getting there. All of these fights were flat out slaughters.

    Ok! It's party time! Let's start with The Parable of Wael.

    Our opening now is Ogrnd: Armor of Faith->Circle of Protection, Cassia: Inspiring Radiance->Consecrated Ground, Aloth: Curse of Blackened Sight->Expose Vulnerabilities->Combusting Wounds.



    Cassia joins Ashoka and Eder, bringing her Consecrated Ground with her. Ashoka targets squishies with Flames of Devotion to trigger Strange Mercies.

    While Ashoka and Eder engage, aided by arrows from Sagani, Cassia and Ogrnd, both Scions of Flame, drop double Divine Marks, eliminating enemies one by one. Buffs are refreshed as needed. Aloth mixes in damage spells and refreshes debuffs as needed.



    Looks good. No damage here, save a few nicks to Itumaak.



    Let's try it again, this time in Built to Last.

    Opening




    Midphase



    Endgame



    (Again, Itumaak took damge. We need to lock that down. Aside from that, this looks good.)

    Finally, At All Costs

    Opening




    Midphase



    Endgame. And chickety-check Itumaak this time! Remind me: What does the fox say?



    On that fine note, we decided to part ways with Sagani and Itumaak. They're great. in fact, Sagani is one of my favorite NPCs ever, from a personality standpoint. Pallegina just fits the strategy better. Good hunting, Sagani! May you find Persoq and make your way home.

    Farewell Itumaak! We should talk more.



    Best,

    A.

    Post edited by Alesia_BH on
    Grond0Serg_BlackStriderBelgarathMTHJuliusBorisov
  • Alesia_BHAlesia_BH Member Posts: 463
    edited November 2018
    @semiticgod. In case you haven't noticed yet, you can reveal the combat roll mechanics by holding your pointer over line entries in the battle log. You'll see the formula and the roll.

    This, for example, was an attack by a troll on Ashoka. Role of 96: Hit. Minimum damage of 3.6 after DR check.



    This one is an attack by Pallegina on a troll using Firebrand (from the Forgemaster Gloves) under Flames of Devotion, Inspiring Radiance, and Zealous Accuracy.




    Best,

    A.

    Serg_BlackStriderGrond0BelgarathMTHJuliusBorisov
  • Alesia_BHAlesia_BH Member Posts: 463
    edited November 2018
    Ashoka: Pale Elf, Kind Wayfarer- Entry 9: Caed Nua

    The most important news from our party is that Ogrnd made an appearance on Extreme Makeover: Defiance Bay Edition. Ogrnd likes his new look. He feels suave and debonair.



    He intends to keep rocking it unless his namesake insists that he stop.

    Ok. Enough fashion. Let's move on to some killing.

    We didn't do much in this session. We stopped by Caed Nua to check out the renovations and then descended into the depths for some recreational spelunking. We finished up by murdering some Doemenrl thugs. Easy-peezy- for us, at least: the janitorial staff at Caed Nua Main Hall felt differently.

    On Level 1 of the Endless Paths, we used our standard bulldozer method.



    No real injuries here, save the confrontation with the Spider Queen. Pallegina's Firebrand made quick work of it, but Miss Thang did splatter us with poison first. We should have been more aggressive with #/rest abilities. Always learning.

    The bulldozer sufficed on Level 2 as well. I'm sharing this screen just because the colors are pretty.



    We had a little fun with the level's final battle. We let ourselves cast here.

    Eder and Ashoka formed a wall, backed by Cassia, with Pallegina astride, wielding Firebrand.



    Cassia: Armor of Faith->Consecrated Ground; Ogrnd: Inspiring Radiance->Circle of Protection; Aloth: Whatever- it didn't really matter. Reviewing the screenshots suggests that we should have tossed a Prayer Against Fear. Pallegina looks frightened. In this shot we're on the verge of breaking through.



    Sucks to be this guy.



    Finally, the Doemenel thugs. After sending Pallegina around the scrum to knock off the ranged caster...



    we converged for the finish. Like I said, easy-peezy.



    (We totally need more mops, though. Bruitish Warrior is on his way -again- and we'd like to make the right impression before showing him the door. Has anyone ever met that guy? Maybe it's just me, but when a dude named Brutish Warrior reaches out, I'm inclined to ghost.)

    Next stop: Gromnir's Castle Raedric Hold.

    Best,

    A.

    Post edited by Alesia_BH on
    Serg_BlackStriderJuliusBorisov
  • Alesia_BHAlesia_BH Member Posts: 463
    edited November 2018
    Ashoka: Pale Elf, Kind Wayfarer- Entry 11: Dyrford Part 1

    As those of you who have been following the Obsidian thread know, Ashoka had a close call in Dyrford's main storyline quest, Through Death's Gate. Benjamin Graham once said that the greatest sources of risk are within ourselves. He wasn't talking about NR runs, mind you, but he might as well have been: his insight is unequivocally applicable. In Through Death's Gate, Ashoka found herself prepared to take on all comers. I, however, was unknowingly losing an important battle with an inner enemy: over confidence. Happily, my failure on my battlefield didn't prevent Ashoka from prevailing on hers. We remain alive and well, ready for the adventures to come.

    We'll cover Ashoka's close call and the rest of Through Death's Gate in Dyford Part 2. In this post we'll talk about two Dyford side quests: A Farmer's Plight and Nest Egg.

    First, A Farmer's Plight. I love an old fashion ogre hunt, don't you?

    This was a straight forward quest for Ashoka. The ogre, Korgrak, resides in a spider-filled cave. The spiders can be trickier that the ogre himself, depending on your party and tactics. None of the above posed a threat in this case. Against the spiders, Ashoka set up a defensive line, along with Eder and Pallegina, backed by Cassia running Consecrated Ground. Buffs included Armor of Faith and Inspiring Radiance. Interdiction and Arcane Assault were deployed at first opportunity. Summoning the adra beetle was overkill here (as it almost alway is: I hate that thing- it's likely to be filed in the over-powered and unusable category soon).




    After resting to pick up our Accuracy v Beast bonus, we employed the same strategy against the queen herself. Ashoka took a little damage, though not enough to warrant concern.



    Onto Korgrak. Korgrak and his fuzzy-wuzzy elder bear friends are heavy hitting melee fighters, but they aren't really capable of threatening a well equipped L6 tank. Pallegina's Firebrand and double Divine Marks from Cassia and Ogrnd made short work of this fight.



    Time for Nest Egg. Nest Egg is a brief fetch quest with a party battle tossed in for flavor. I haven't found this fight challenging on any of the difficulty levels that I've tried.

    After dispatching the caster with an opening arquebus round, we let Pallegina and Eder wipeout the remaining eastern foes while Ashoka engaged to the west, aided by Curse of Blackened Sight and Interdiction.



    The battle reached endgame phase soon after. In this shot, we see Pallegina and Ashoka simultaneously eliminating their targets while double Divine Marks + Necrotic Lance dispatch a back line charger. Only one foe left now.



    I'll post on Through Death's Gate shortly.

    Best,

    A.

    FinneousPJSerg_BlackStriderJuliusBorisovBelgarathMTH
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member Posts: 14,440
    Gray Sidoh
    Hearth Orlan
    Kind Wayfarer Paladin
    Aedyr Aristocrat

    Might: 14
    Constitution: 10
    Dexterity: 10
    Perception: 15
    Intellect: 10
    Resolve: 19

    Difficulty: Normal
    Settings: Maim on Zero Health; No Injuries on Zero Endurance
    Mods: None
    Special: No Per-Rest Abilities

    After a couple runs on Normal ended at the early game cave bear and some druids (which surprised me, since we had taken down so many drakes shortly before) and their area-effect spells, I've decided to try a new run with a twist: no reloads and no per-rest abilities. The only spells we can use are per-encounter abilities like Second Wind and abilities that rely on charges like a cipher's Powers or a chanter's Invocations; normal spellcasters like wizards, druids, and priests are pretty much useless.

    Our Watcher this time is Gray Sidoh, a tanky Orlan paladin. She used to be a wizard in my past PoE runs (I identify with tiny scholars, so I play a lot of gnomes), and I normally prefer mage types, but a paladin at the helm is a key part of our strategy in this run.

    https://imgur.com/g7ehWWO

    How are we going to survive major fights and sticky situations without the stronger per-rest abilities? The answer lies in ciphers. I've found that a high-Might, high-Perception, high-Dexterity cipher with low Intellect and no armor can make a spectacular damage dealer thanks to their Biting Whip talent for an extra 20% damage output that normal fighters cannot achieve. I'm going to create three custom ciphers in this run to serve as archers. They'll deal lots of damage very fast from a safe distance.

    Problem is, unarmored ciphers with low Intellect have terrible, terrible defenses, especially Will. A couple bad hits could wreck them. The solution? Three custom paladins at the front to use Liberating Exhortation to use two key per-encounter abilities: Lay on Hands and Liberating Exhortation, which will keep our ciphers safe from damage and disablers.

    The early game isn't too complicated. Once Gray Sidoh loses her only two friends at the start of the game, I slip past all fights until I get to Gilded Vale, where selling off our extra gear is enough to buy us three new characters: Lothra, the human paladin, Zovai, the moon godlike paladin, and Rius, the wood elf cipher.

    https://imgur.com/P5Ttv1b

    https://imgur.com/8hDp7mH

    https://imgur.com/OQxWNXf

    The paladins are most important at the start of the game; I need the tanks before I can secure the safety of the archers. I can't afford the next two characters, so we do some light questing. The ciphers have spectacular damage output and can wipe out most basic critters in seconds with little chance of a miss. It isn't long before we hit level 2, granting Biting Whip to our cipher and Weapon and Shield Style to our paladins.

    A few hundred more gold, and we can afford our last two party members, a pair of Amaua twins, Vivenne and Viora, both ciphers. Being twins lets me justify giving them identical stats.

    https://imgur.com/lUQe5JC

    https://imgur.com/yk6ESqF

    Since Gray Sidoh has hit level 3, the new ciphers start at 2 and therefore have Biting Whip. With three high-powered archers using hunting bows, we can obliterate key enemies like Ludrana early on.

    https://imgur.com/KLamupK

    The damage output is actually kind of absurd. Dealing more damage also buys us more Focus, and using Soul Shock on one of our tanks can deal hard-to-resist shock damage to multiple foes at once! We zap the Guls at the beach.

    https://imgur.com/6XgPwZX

    Our tanks aren't quite invincible, as a Forest Lurker shows us when it easily smacks Gray Sidoh to the ground, but they're sturdy enough to buy lots of time for our archers to clean up most battles. Unfortunately, when we get flanked, the archers are easy pickings for moderately tough early game enemies like Phantoms. Viora dies in two hits when one of them surprises us in the Gilded Vale crypts.

    https://imgur.com/jDrz4HM

    Otherwise, we can stomp on almost anything. There's nothing quite like having a trio of ciphers flinging out Amplified Thrust spells to knock back big critters like Forest Trolls. The damage is incredible, and it doesn't even require resting.

    https://imgur.com/9dxxE2I

    The game has been proceeding very fast, which I find rewarding.

    FinneousPJJuliusBorisovAlesia_BH
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member Posts: 14,440
    Since disengagement is so dicey and simultaneously so important for our ciphers to be able to do, I buy a big-ticket item for the first time and put the Cape of Withdrawal on one of our ciphers. Gray Sidoh hits level 4 and takes Weapon Focus: Peasant to improve the endurance-healing hatchet, Hearth Harvest, and we proceed to Caed Nua. Even against groups of Wurms and Xaurips, our three tanks can hold the fort pretty well, and our three ciphers can deal massive area-effect damage with Mind Blades.

    https://imgur.com/cjwzVLz

    Still, a nasty encounter with a Pwgra reminds us of the vulnerability of our ciphers. The Pwgra falls quickly, but its area-effect damage-over-time spell takes down all three of our ciphers right after it dies!

    https://imgur.com/hOKGogS

    But when our ciphers fall, our paladins survive, and we manage to win all sorts of fights much faster than I ever have before. The Biting Whip Talent makes ciphers scale so much better with Might, Dexterity, and Perception. They hit level 4 when we reach Defiance Bay, opting for Draining Whip as their next Talent to provide more fuel for their damage spells, and we use the wood from the forest critters and a spare Peridot to craft up some Scrolls of Defense, though only Gray Sidoh currently has the Lore to use them.

    Viora, our third cipher, gets knocked out early in the Sanitarium fight due to a forced flanking, but then real life intervenes and I have to quit the game before finishing the fight. Fortunately, since you always start the fight in the same position and pre-buffing in PoE is limited to snacks (which I didn't bother doing in this case), we can restart the fight under the exact same conditions, granting me no metaknowledge advantages besides what I learned in my Easy mode run. In fact, Viora dies the exact same way the second time around! The only difference is that she dies to 26 damage from a Crazed Patient instead of 23 damage from a Crazed Patient.

    https://imgur.com/PjDos7v

    I need to get our fragile ciphers out of the way, but we have little room to maneuver and we've got multiple encroaching from several different directions. By carefully choosing our positioning and disengaging before we get hit instead of after, our ciphers take only a bit of damage before reaching safety. Gram still gives us grief, however (Baldur's Gate pun!), as he keeps chasing one of our ciphers and is only at Badly Injured.

    https://imgur.com/T4wT4o5

    In the end, sheer, overwhelming offensive power clears the map pretty quickly. After Gray Sidoh hits level 5 and gets Liberating Exhortation, we head to Heritage Hill. Spellcasters are dangerous for our party considering how important our fragile archers are for our damage output, but wizards, unlike druids, are fairly easy to kill before they can cause much trouble.

    https://imgur.com/8okkSBr

    Bad positioning still gets two of our ciphers knocked out, but not before they wreck the enemy with Mind Blades.

    Soon, our other two paladins hit level 5 and also choose Liberating Exhortation, while our first cipher, Rius, gains a level and learns Soul Ignition and Ectopsychic Echo for some stronger damage spells for big targets. We also bump up their Lore to 4 so they can all use Scrolls of Defense. Without per-rest spells, we need everyone to be able to use scrolls.

    In my previous run, I waited until much later to deal with Raedric, but I think we're in good condition to deal with basic melee grunts in a controlled, low-magic setting like Raedric's hold. I'm worried about Osrya pulling some tricks on us with her spells, and make sure everyone is well-fed before the fight, but again we find that enemy mages just can't stand up to heavy pressure from ranged attackers.

    https://imgur.com/zltfKm3

    Notice that two of my paladins aren't doing anything. That's because they're mostly there to soak up damage and provide rescue options like Lay on Hands and Liberating Exhortation, and they don't have the high Dexterity or the light armoring needed to take action at a moment's notice. This means that in volatile encounters, it's more important for our paladins to be able to cast a spell right away than it is for them to actually deal any damage. There's a big difference between being able to cast a crucial spell in 1 seconds instead of 3 seconds.

    Also, if I just have them wait in a wall formation, I can have them immediately rush to engage any enemies who might approach our archers.

    Viora and Vivenne join the rest of the party at level 5 and learn Soul Ignition and Puppet Master. Their low Intellect means that the domination effect of the latter won't last nearly as long, but their high Accuracy will mean it's very reliable, which means any low-Will enemies can be turned against their buddies if I ever need to decrease pressure on a given party member.

    After all, this party has extremely high damage output. Fights don't last as long with this party, so we don't need longer durations for our spells.

    Despite crushing Raedric's guards with relative ease, I'm still concerned about Raedric himself, and therefore chow down on a lot of food and make sure everyone has Scrolls of Defense on hand (now that we're at level 5, everyone in the party has at least 4 Lore and can use most of our scrolls). All three paladins are decked with full plate and our Endurance and Constitution food buffs will keep us a little safer from surprises. All three ciphers have switched from clothing to Fine Robes, since they grant 7 Damage Reduction in exchange for only a 15% Recovery delay--a bargain, considering the normal 1 DR to 5% Recovery penalty trade-off.

    I choose a very specific formation before I speak with Raedric: I position two paladins at the nearest guards, align the ciphers a few steps behind them, and send out Gray Sidoh, our sturdiest tank, to draw attention from the rest of the enemies. Notice the clear geometric shape of our party members, matching the enemy's. Also notice Gray Sidoh opening with a Scroll of Defense--having sturdy defenses and no other important roles means that Gray Sidoh is ideally suited for using scrolls.

    https://imgur.com/CuL2luR

    My fears of the Archmage prove unfounded. Moments after Mind Blades take down the enemy priest, another volley blasts the enemy mage to chunks.

    https://imgur.com/65tV59i

    I've checked the record screen and the largest number of kills, the highest experience value of kills, and the highest damage all comes from our three ciphers. Mind Blades just does so much damage to herds of enemies. Raedric's heavy armor and strong stats aren't remotely enough to keep him safe.

    https://imgur.com/OU13pAj

    Back to Caed Nua! I think we're doing pretty well, and there's a war bow I want to track down again for our ciphers. I was pretty sure the ogres were just sluggish melee grunts I could strike from range, but then I find a druid hanging out with Zolla--apparently a new enemy in Normal mode. Keenly remembering how our three ciphers all died to a druid spell not long ago, I retreat from the Tanglefoot spell and lure the enemy into a choke point. We're doing lots of damage, but the ogres have sky-high Endurance. We're not making fast progress like we normally do.

    https://imgur.com/yX8YX5C

    Worse yet, the ogres have a pretty reliable knockdown ability, and apparently can hit multiple targets at once with their huge clubs. Even with a Scroll of Defense to improve our stats, Zovai gets knocked off her feet. Notice the curious bug in the last line of the dialog box.

    https://i.imgur.com/bny9dKg.jpg

    Lothra takes heavy damage in spite of her Potion of Iron Skin and also loses her balance. Zovai, back on her feet thanks to Liberating Exhortation, bails out Lothra with Lay on Hands, but the ogres are still in good condition. Zovai gets hurt, too, but stays afloat, I think in large part to her Moon Godlike healing abilities.

    Finally, our ciphers generate enough Focus for another volley of Mind Blades, and the tide of combat shifts in our favor.

    https://i.imgur.com/U1DbtGW.jpg

    A little more chipping away, and Zolla falls.

    We skulk around with Rius, our first cipher, disarming traps with her high Mechanics skill, and run into some oozes. We see a weird graphical bug when one of the oozes dies: its sprite expands while the game is paused, until the whole screen is covered with black and grey polygons of some sort.

    https://imgur.com/mfbJ3LT

    To my surprise, another druid shows up on the map, and this one is much more aggressive than the previous one. After I disregard its Tanglefoot spell, it lashes out at us with Talon's Reach, dealing huge damage to almost everyone in the party. Just a few seconds into combat, and we're already losing.

    https://imgur.com/Gwn43dl

    Time to go. I'm not going to risk getting hit by another spell and seeing Gray Sidoh and one or two ciphers going down. I don't think we could win this fight if more than one or two party members fell this early on. We scurry away, taking advantage of the ogres' inferior movement rates, and heal up in the north end of the map. One solitary ogre hunts us down, but we're in solid condition by the time it reaches us. We blast it to pieces on the bridge.

    https://i.imgur.com/nybQwbe.jpg

    Then the fight ends. I thought the enemy was still chasing us, but apparently only that one ogre bothered to follow us. I consider re-engaging the ogres without resting, but with three characters' Endurance bars in the yellow, I decide to go ahead and rest up before going back to the druid.

    This time, I know better than to rely on damage spells alone. Ogres have too much Endurance for us to bring down quickly; it gives them too much time to land a hit, and since their damage is concentrated in large blows rather than spread out over faster, weaker blows, it means that bad luck can make things much worse than in a normal fight (plus, bigger hits make damage reduction less meaningful).

    Instead, I take advantage of the ogres' poor Will defenses and nail one of them with Puppet Master. Despite our ciphers' poor Intellect, their high Accuracy lands us a critical hit, which means 50% extra duration. One of the ogres is ours for 18 seconds!

    https://i.imgur.com/n6PPt9P.jpg

    The dominated ogre does huge damage to its friend, and soaks up a lot of damage that would otherwise befall our party. Soon, both ogres collapse, and the druid isn't strong enough to stand up on its own when our ciphers are flinging out Amplified Thrusts.

    https://i.imgur.com/5EyIub6.jpg

    I head downstairs, ready to take on the next challenge, but then I reconsider. Our party has been doing very well, but those ogres did pose a credible threat, even if we did crush them in the end. Past experience with Od Nua has shown me that the levels exhibit some distinct spikes in difficulty, and while we were able to come out ahead against the ogres, the ogres were much tougher than the enemies we had been fighting right before them.

    I decide to back off and leave the area. Being cautious in general is a good idea in a no-reload run, but it's also incredibly important to see several steps in advance, and catch things early before they get out of hand. The time to play it safe is when the party starts to stumble; not when it starts to fall.

    FinneousPJGrond0BelgarathMTHJuliusBorisov
  • Serg_BlackStriderSerg_BlackStrider Member Posts: 176
    edited November 2018
    The Tale of Gloomy Face: Hearth Orlan, Druid - Chapter I: Early game.

    1. Introduction.

    Okay, let's get started. In the camp I swapped some clothes found in the crate on hunting bow and together with Calisca went on, well, hunting. The pair of Young Wolfs pose no threat as well as those hunters in the abandoned camp. On the way back to our own camp three more hunters awaits us so Calisca hold a position around a corner while I hit them with a Sunbeam:





    In the camp I was able to distract a Glanfathan Leader with talking long enough for Heodan to break free and, when the fight ensured, softened the opposition with Nature's Mark.

     


     
    Heodan killed the leader, then another hunter but was badly hurt by remaining hunters and ended up with one single endurance point remained after the fight was over.




     
    In the ruins he was again at the brink of to be knocked down when Lesser Black Ooze crit him for 32 corrode damage right away:




     
    Calisca got her dose too but at least it was worthwhile since we got a Minor Cloak of Priotection out of that.




     
    As usual, tempting your luck for too long is fraught with consequences and Heodan was finally knocked out fighting spiders at the exit. Unfortunately, no one of us knew at the moment, that the Wheel will turn for both him and Calisca right after we'll finally break free off the dungeon...




     
    Out of dungeon I've got my first level up (Mechanics: 4; Talents: Veteran's Recovery) and, since I've endured a major fatique, made a bee-line right to the Gilded Vale, where I joined Aloth (Athletic: 2; Lore: 5; Survival: 2; Spells: Slicken; Talents: Blast) and after selling all the loot got just enough money to sign a contract with this cutie explorer from Deadfire Archipelago:




     
    I've made Xoti nearly a carbon copy of her PoE II character (can't choose Readceras/Farmer on character creation so pick Deadfire Archipelago and thus have her equipped with Brigandine right away). 
    Speaking with Caldara earned us another level (Mechanics: 5; Survival: 3), Aloth (Lore: 6; Survival: 3; Spells: Curse of Blackened Sight, Infuse With Vital Essence) and also Eder as companion (Survival: 5; Lore: 4; Talents: Rapid Recovery; Abilities: Confident Aim).
    We resolved the local grain dispute peacefully and let Trumbel keep his money for double major reputation gain.
     
    Back in the Valewood Xoti gained a level 2 (Survival: 4; Talents: Interdiction) right before the Bear cave. 
    Inside we opened with Interdiction followed with Armor of Faith, Charm Beast, Curse of Blackened Sight:




     
    Charm Beast hit both Young Bears, who turned on their own mother as a result. Armor of Faith strengthen them since they were already charmed before Xoti cast it, but that doesn't matter much in the end:




     
    For the Wolf's pack all we need is Interdiction with 2 Hold Beasts and that's it:




     
    Found Minor Ring of Protection in their lair and Fulvano's Gloves went to Xoti so she could fire her buffs faster.
     
    Bandits: Me - Nature's Mark>Bow, Aloth - Slicken>Arcane Assault>Scepter, Xoti - Armor of Faith>Interdiction, Eder - Knock Down>Hit. Clean victory.




     
    Back in Gilded Vale we let Ingroed keep their money to start a new life with Nonton for the small token of appreciation (Minor Ring of Deflection).
     
    Next we are going to sanitize the local temple of Eothas.
     
    Current state:
     
    Gloomy Face - Druid (lvl 3); Stealth:0; Athletic:1; Lore:1; Mechanics:5; Survival:3; Talents: Veteran's Recovery; Equipment: Hide Armor, Minor Cloak of Protection, Minor Ring of Deflection, Gaun's Pledge, Hunting Bow/Hatchet+Small Shield;
     
    Eder - Fighter (lvl 3); Stealth:0; Athletic:2; Lore:4; Mechanics:0; Survival:5; Talents: Rapid Recovery; Abilities: Confident Aim; Equipment: Saint's War Armor, Sabre+Medium Shield/War Bow;
     
    Aloth - Wizard (lvl 3); Stealth:0; Athletic:1; Lore:6; Mechanics:2; Survival:3; Talents: Blast; Equipment: Aloth's Leather Armor, Scepter/Rapier
     
    Xoti - Priest of Eothas (lvl 2); Stealth:0; Athletic:1; Lore:3; Mechanics:0; Survival:4; Talents: Interdiction; Equipment: Brigandine, Fulvano's Gloves, Minor Ring of Protection, Sword+Medium Shield/Scepter;
     
    to be continued...

    Grond0BelgarathMTHJuliusBorisovAlesia_BH
  • Jaheiras_WitnessJaheiras_Witness Member Posts: 593
    It's great to have as many people as possible involved in the no-reload challenge! From my personal perspective I don't want to post the same material in two different places. I don't know how precious we are about which forum we use; all I would say is that we have a thread that is motoring along on the PoE forum, so I would invite everybody here to join in. Maybe we could even leave a message for people looking at this thread to let them know where we all are? I don't think it should matter that it is a different forum, it's the people that make the challenge what it is, and we are all Baldur's Gate people who are now enjoying PoE!

    Alesia_BH
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member Posts: 14,440
    @Jaheiras_Witness: Back when the Bioware forums were still around, it was standard practice for no-reloaders to post both on the Bioware forums and on this one. I see no reason we should avoid posting interesting comments on two fora. That just means the audience is twice as big! I would encourage people to cross-post on both fora, since not everyone who's interested in these runs is necessarily going to be active on both fora, and we wouldn't want people to miss out on the action.

    I've been meaning to post here more often, but there are a LOT of posts from the Obsidian thread that I'd need to move over. I've been procrastinating for a very long time.

    For those who want to check out the Obsidian thread, which is currently more active, you can find it here: https://forums.obsidian.net/topic/106596-the-pillars-of-eternity-no-reload-challenge/

    JuliusBorisovAlesia_BH
  • Serg_BlackStriderSerg_BlackStrider Member Posts: 176
    edited December 2018
    I've also planned to post on both boards initially but with time it's turned out (as usual) that a no-reload thread (Bioware, this one, or Obsidian) became not only a pure documentation of the runs themselves but also a general discussion and duplicating all that stuff on both boards is quite time consuming and doesn't seem feasible to me. But nonetheless I wholeheartedly encourage all of you interested to join us on Obsidian boards.

    Post edited by Serg_BlackStrider on
    Grond0Alesia_BH
  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 20,977
    Here goes the final update.

    POTD Lucius, Wood Elf, Cipher - Part 2: Caed Nua

    I did alright on all maps prior to Caed Nua (xaurips, trolls, bandits, forest dwellers, spiders, boars, wolves, mushrooms - all of them weren't a danger). I made sure to get as much XP as possible before Caed Nua.

    Outside encounters were doable, although not without knockdowns.









    But the inside encounter with 4 phantoms proved to be fatal.









    What I've learned is that PotD is certainly entertaining and not tedious (unlike the hardest difficulty in a few other games). This difficulty makes you pay much attention to enemy defences and your our types of attacks.

    Serg_BlackStriderFinneousPJAlesia_BH
  • Jaheiras_WitnessJaheiras_Witness Member Posts: 593
    @JuliusBorisov: have a read of the Obsidian thread. Nearly everyone has mastered the Caed Nua phantom fight. It is all about positioning - if you jam your party into one of the alcoves, you can create a wall of front line tanks that allow your backline to unleash the damage necessary to take down the phantoms (who have quite low endurance points).

    Fighting the battle in an open formation with space is painful - as you have just experienced :/

    semiticgodJuliusBorisovAlesia_BH
  • Alesia_BHAlesia_BH Member Posts: 463
    edited December 2018
    Best of luck with your run, JuliusBorisov! I look forward to following along!

    Best,

    A.

    Btw, everyone, please accept my sincere apologies for unceremoniously abandoning coverage of Ashoka's run in this thread. As many know, I have continued posting at Obsidian. Since I'm still learning the game I've been playing much and posting little: coverage even there has been spotty. Now that I've gotten the mechanics down, though, I should be able to increase the post/play ratio. I may resume posting here in the not-too-distant future. I would like to support these forums, and this thread!

    Post edited by Alesia_BH on
    Serg_BlackStriderJuliusBorisovsemiticgodGrond0
  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 20,977
    edited December 2018
    POTD Miyamoto, Coastal Aumaua, Kind Wayfarer - Part 2: Maerwald, Raedric

    The win against spirits filled me with determination, but I didn't know what to expect from Maerwald. As soon as the battle started, I retreated to the hall. Flame Blights got caught in Maerwald's Chill Fog.

    Maerwald didn't stay in the room and followed, so Eder and Arya had to confront him in melee, while the rest of the party attacked from a distance. It wasn't a long fight, and Maerwald fell. At one time, Maerwald casted a fireball, but it didn't harm the majority of the party.







    Then I went to Raedric's Hold. I prefer not to kill all the people there as I find something like that hard to believe, so I cleared the sewer (including Osrya), the wall and all its guards, and also additional guards in the courtyard. Then I used Berathian robes to go through the Temple floor. It required a Deceptive answer to a Temple Guardia (the second Deceptive answer during this playthrough - the first one was for Peregund during the Ferry Flotsam quest). Miyamoto still has 0 in Deceptive reputation, though.






    I reached the throne room. Didn't fight this battle on POTD before, so expected surprises. I opened the fight normally, with Eder holding 3 right guards, and Kana meleeing one to the left. The task for my rogue, Durance and Aloth was to finish enemy wizards as fast as they could, with Miyamoto trying to kill an enemy priest.






    Raedric hit like a truck, so my paladin's Lay on Hands was very useful. One of the guards followed Arya who reached one of the wizards, so Aloth had to cast paralyze on that guard. After that Aloth paralyzed Raedric to let Miyamoto finish the priest safely.








    Arya had difficulties hitting that wizard (so she even had to use Shadowing Beyond not to get killed), so Aloth casted Chill Fog to blind him, and also a few other enemies. Pillar of Faith from Durance harmed the enemy wizard, and Miyamoto finally finished the Berathian priest.







    Arya managed to kill the first archmage, but unfortunately Raedric decided to go for Aloth, so the biggest Aloth could do during the time he had, was to kite Raedric as far as possible. Kana then summoned a Phantom to distract Raedric. Divine Mark from Durance helped Arya to quickly kill the second archmage.








    Kana and Arya moved to an enemy archer, and quickly killed him. Raedric dealt the the Phantom and ran to Arya, so she didn't have too much time. Kana summoned another Phantom, who stunned first a guard and then Raedric to let Arya live and thus attack.








    Arya, Kana, Durance (with an arbalest), and the Phantom killed Raedric. The Phantom even managed to stun the guard who kept attacking Arya, and thus gave her additional seconds in the fight. At this moment I noticed Eder wouldn't be able to hold the line too long. Arya managed to finish the guard who was right next to her.








    Eder was knocked out, but in those few seconds Arya still had she killed another guard (the one who was fighting Miyamoto all this time). It was time for Arya to be knocked out, so Kana, Miyamoto, and Durance (ranged) had to overcome 3 left guards.







    Thanks to the Phantom, it wasn't that difficult.








    Everyone are at the lvl 5 (including the rogue).
    Most enemies defeated: Arya, 129 (from 421 total).
    Most total damage done: Arya, 11053.
    Highest single target damage: Miyamoto, 57.
    Most crits: Arya, 251.
    Most hits: Durance, 748.
    Most damage taken: Eder, 4105.
    Most times knocked out: Arya, Miyamoto, 5.

    Miyamoto: Athletics 7, Lore 5, Survival 3
    Aloth: Athletics 4, Lore 8, Survival 2, Mechanics 1 (pre-defined)
    Arya: Stealth 3, Athletics 3, Mechanics 7, Survival 1
    Eder: Athletics 7, Lore 2, Survival 4
    Durance: Athletics 6, Lore 7, Survival 2
    Kana: Athletics 6, Lore 5, Survival 1, Mechanics 1 (pre-defined)

    Post edited by JuliusBorisov on
    FinneousPJGrond0Serg_BlackStriderBelgarathMTH
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member Posts: 14,440
    Okay! I'm finally going to move all of my run-related posts (the posts documenting runs; not all the other posts discussing other stuff with other forumites) from the Obsidian thread over to here. Note that people I mentioned in the Obsidian thread will probably get tagged several times in the process; I'm just copying and pasting everything.

    There are a LOT of posts to move, so bear with me. This thread is going to be a lot of @semiticgod posts for a while.

    JuliusBorisov
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member Posts: 14,440
    Gray Sidoh
    Hearth Orlan
    Kind Wayfarer Paladin
    Aedyr Aristocrat

    Might: 14
    Constitution: 10
    Dexterity: 10
    Perception: 15
    Intellect: 10
    Resolve: 19


    Difficulty: Normal
    Settings: Maim on Zero Health; No Injuries on Zero Endurance
    Mods: None
    Special: No Per-Rest Abilities

    After a couple runs on Normal ended at the early game cave bear and some druids (which surprised me, since we had taken down so many drakes shortly before) and their area-effect spells, I've decided to try a new run with a twist: no reloads and no per-rest abilities. The only spells we can use are per-encounter abilities like Second Wind and abilities that rely on charges like a cipher's Powers or a chanter's Invocations; normal spellcasters like wizards, druids, and priests are pretty much useless.

    Our Watcher this time is Gray Sidoh, a tanky Orlan paladin. She used to be a wizard in my past PoE runs (I identify with tiny scholars, so I play a lot of gnomes), and I normally prefer mage types, but a paladin at the helm is a key part of our strategy in this run.

    https://imgur.com/g7ehWWO

    How are we going to survive major fights and sticky situations without the stronger per-rest abilities? The answer lies in ciphers. I've found that a high-Might, high-Perception, high-Dexterity cipher with low Intellect and no armor can make a spectacular damage dealer thanks to their Biting Whip talent for an extra 20% damage output that normal fighters cannot achieve. I'm going to create three custom ciphers in this run to serve as archers. They'll deal lots of damage very fast from a safe distance.

    Problem is, unarmored ciphers with low Intellect have terrible, terrible defenses, especially Will. A couple bad hits could wreck them. The solution? Three custom paladins at the front to use Liberating Exhortation to use two key per-encounter abilities: Lay on Hands and Liberating Exhortation, which will keep our ciphers safe from damage and disablers.

    The early game isn't too complicated. Once Gray Sidoh loses her only two friends at the start of the game, I slip past all fights until I get to Gilded Vale, where selling off our extra gear is enough to buy us three new characters: Lothra, the human paladin, Zovai, the moon godlike paladin, and Rius, the wood elf cipher.

    https://imgur.com/P5Ttv1b
    https://imgur.com/8hDp7mH
    https://imgur.com/OQxWNXf

    The paladins are most important at the start of the game; I need the tanks before I can secure the safety of the archers. I can't afford the next two characters, so we do some light questing. The ciphers have spectacular damage output and can wipe out most basic critters in seconds with little chance of a miss. It isn't long before we hit level 2, granting Biting Whip to our cipher and Weapon and Shield Style to our paladins.

    A few hundred more gold, and we can afford our last two party members, a pair of Amaua twins, Vivenne and Viora, both ciphers. Being twins lets me justify giving them identical stats.

    https://imgur.com/lUQe5JC
    https://imgur.com/yk6ESqF

    Since Gray Sidoh has hit level 3, the new ciphers start at 2 and therefore have Biting Whip. With three high-powered archers using hunting bows, we can obliterate key enemies like Ludrana early on.

    https://imgur.com/KLamupK

    The damage output is actually kind of absurd. Dealing more damage also buys us more Focus, and using Soul Shock on one of our tanks can deal hard-to-resist shock damage to multiple foes at once! We zap the Guls at the beach.

    https://imgur.com/6XgPwZX

    Our tanks aren't quite invincible, as a Forest Lurker shows us when it easily smacks Gray Sidoh to the ground, but they're sturdy enough to buy lots of time for our archers to clean up most battles. Unfortunately, when we get flanked, the archers are easy pickings for moderately tough early game enemies like Phantoms. Viora dies in two hits when one of them surprises us in the Gilded Vale crypts.

    https://imgur.com/jDrz4HM

    Otherwise, we can stomp on almost anything. There's nothing quite like having a trio of ciphers flinging out Amplified Thrust spells to knock back big critters like Forest Trolls. The damage is incredible, and it doesn't even require resting.

    https://imgur.com/9dxxE2I

    The game has been proceeding very fast, which I find rewarding.

    JuliusBorisov
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member Posts: 14,440
    Since disengagement is so dicey and simultaneously so important for our ciphers to be able to do, I buy a big-ticket item for the first time and put the Cape of Withdrawal on one of our ciphers. Gray Sidoh hits level 4 and takes Weapon Focus: Peasant to improve the endurance-healing hatchet, Hearth Harvest, and we proceed to Caed Nua. Even against groups of Wurms and Xaurips, our three tanks can hold the fort pretty well, and our three ciphers can deal massive area-effect damage with Mind Blades.

    https://imgur.com/cjwzVLz

    Still, a nasty encounter with a Pwgra reminds us of the vulnerability of our ciphers. The Pwgra falls quickly, but its area-effect damage-over-time spell takes down all three of our ciphers right after it dies!

    https://imgur.com/hOKGogS

    But when our ciphers fall, our paladins survive, and we manage to win all sorts of fights much faster than I ever have before. The Biting Whip Talent makes ciphers scale so much better with Might, Dexterity, and Perception. They hit level 4 when we reach Defiance Bay, opting for Draining Whip as their next Talent to provide more fuel for their damage spells, and we use the wood from the forest critters and a spare Peridot to craft up some Scrolls of Defense, though only Gray Sidoh currently has the Lore to use them.

    Viora, our third cipher, gets knocked out early in the Sanitarium fight due to a forced flanking, but then real life intervenes and I have to quit the game before finishing the fight. Fortunately, since you always start the fight in the same position and pre-buffing in PoE is limited to snacks (which I didn't bother doing in this case), we can restart the fight under the exact same conditions, granting me no metaknowledge advantages besides what I learned in my Easy mode run. In fact, Viora dies the exact same way the second time around! The only difference is that she dies to 26 damage from a Crazed Patient instead of 23 damage from a Crazed Patient.

    https://imgur.com/PjDos7v

    I need to get our fragile ciphers out of the way, but we have little room to maneuver and we've got multiple encroaching from several different directions. By carefully choosing our positioning and disengaging before we get hit instead of after, our ciphers take only a bit of damage before reaching safety. Gram still gives us grief, however (Baldur's Gate pun!), as he keeps chasing one of our ciphers and is only at Badly Injured.

    https://imgur.com/T4wT4o5

    In the end, sheer, overwhelming offensive power clears the map pretty quickly. After Gray Sidoh hits level 5 and gets Liberating Exhortation, we head to Heritage Hill. Spellcasters are dangerous for our party considering how important our fragile archers are for our damage output, but wizards, unlike druids, are fairly easy to kill before they can cause much trouble.

    https://imgur.com/8okkSBr

    Bad positioning still gets two of our ciphers knocked out, but not before they wreck the enemy with Mind Blades.

    Soon, our other two paladins hit level 5 and also choose Liberating Exhortation, while our first cipher, Rius, gains a level and learns Soul Ignition and Ectopsychic Echo for some stronger damage spells for big targets. We also bump up their Lore to 4 so they can all use Scrolls of Defense. Without per-rest spells, we need everyone to be able to use scrolls.

    In my previous run, I waited until much later to deal with Raedric, but I think we're in good condition to deal with basic melee grunts in a controlled, low-magic setting like Raedric's hold. I'm worried about Osrya pulling some tricks on us with her spells, and make sure everyone is well-fed before the fight, but again we find that enemy mages just can't stand up to heavy pressure from ranged attackers.

    https://imgur.com/zltfKm3

    Notice that two of my paladins aren't doing anything. That's because they're mostly there to soak up damage and provide rescue options like Lay on Hands and Liberating Exhortation, and they don't have the high Dexterity or the light armoring needed to take action at a moment's notice. This means that in volatile encounters, it's more important for our paladins to be able to cast a spell right away than it is for them to actually deal any damage. There's a big difference between being able to cast a crucial spell in 1 seconds instead of 3 seconds.

    Also, if I just have them wait in a wall formation, I can have them immediately rush to engage any enemies who might approach our archers.

    Viora and Vivenne join the rest of the party at level 5 and learn Soul Ignition and Puppet Master. Their low Intellect means that the domination effect of the latter won't last nearly as long, but their high Accuracy will mean it's very reliable, which means any low-Will enemies can be turned against their buddies if I ever need to decrease pressure on a given party member.

    After all, this party has extremely high damage output. Fights don't last as long with this party, so we don't need longer durations for our spells.

    Despite crushing Raedric's guards with relative ease, I'm still concerned about Raedric himself, and therefore chow down on a lot of food and make sure everyone has Scrolls of Defense on hand (now that we're at level 5, everyone in the party has at least 4 Lore and can use most of our scrolls). All three paladins are decked with full plate and our Endurance and Constitution food buffs will keep us a little safer from surprises. All three ciphers have switched from clothing to Fine Robes, since they grant 7 Damage Reduction in exchange for only a 15% Recovery delay--a bargain, considering the normal 1 DR to 5% Recovery penalty trade-off.

    I choose a very specific formation before I speak with Raedric: I position two paladins at the nearest guards, align the ciphers a few steps behind them, and send out Gray Sidoh, our sturdiest tank, to draw attention from the rest of the enemies. Notice the clear geometric shape of our party members, matching the enemy's. Also notice Gray Sidoh opening with a Scroll of Defense--having sturdy defenses and no other important roles means that Gray Sidoh is ideally suited for using scrolls.

    https://imgur.com/CuL2luR

    My fears of the Archmage prove unfounded. Moments after Mind Blades take down the enemy priest, another volley blasts the enemy mage to chunks.

    https://imgur.com/65tV59i

    I've checked the record screen and the largest number of kills, the highest experience value of kills, and the highest damage all comes from our three ciphers. Mind Blades just does so much damage to herds of enemies. Raedric's heavy armor and strong stats aren't remotely enough to keep him safe.

    https://imgur.com/OU13pAj

    Back to Caed Nua! I think we're doing pretty well, and there's a war bow I want to track down again for our ciphers. I was pretty sure the ogres were just sluggish melee grunts I could strike from range, but then I find a druid hanging out with Zolla--apparently a new enemy in Normal mode. Keenly remembering how our three ciphers all died to a druid spell not long ago, I retreat from the Tanglefoot spell and lure the enemy into a choke point. We're doing lots of damage, but the ogres have sky-high Endurance. We're not making fast progress like we normally do.

    https://imgur.com/yX8YX5C

    Worse yet, the ogres have a pretty reliable knockdown ability, and apparently can hit multiple targets at once with their huge clubs. Even with a Scroll of Defense to improve our stats, Zovai gets knocked off her feet. Notice the curious bug in the last line of the dialog box.

    https://i.imgur.com/bny9dKg.jpg

    Lothra takes heavy damage in spite of her Potion of Iron Skin and also loses her balance. Zovai, back on her feet thanks to Liberating Exhortation, bails out Lothra with Lay on Hands, but the ogres are still in good condition. Zovai gets hurt, too, but stays afloat, I think in large part to her Moon Godlike healing abilities.

    Finally, our ciphers generate enough Focus for another volley of Mind Blades, and the tide of combat shifts in our favor.

    https://i.imgur.com/U1DbtGW.jpg

    A little more chipping away, and Zolla falls.

    We skulk around with Rius, our first cipher, disarming traps with her high Mechanics skill, and run into some oozes. We see a weird graphical bug when one of the oozes dies: its sprite expands while the game is paused, until the whole screen is covered with black and grey polygons of some sort.

    https://imgur.com/mfbJ3LT

    To my surprise, another druid shows up on the map, and this one is much more aggressive than the previous one. After I disregard its Tanglefoot spell, it lashes out at us with Talon's Reach, dealing huge damage to almost everyone in the party. Just a few seconds into combat, and we're already losing.

    https://imgur.com/Gwn43dl

    Time to go. I'm not going to risk getting hit by another spell and seeing Gray Sidoh and one or two ciphers going down. I don't think we could win this fight if more than one or two party members fell this early on. We scurry away, taking advantage of the ogres' inferior movement rates, and heal up in the north end of the map. One solitary ogre hunts us down, but we're in solid condition by the time it reaches us. We blast it to pieces on the bridge.

    https://i.imgur.com/nybQwbe.jpg

    Then the fight ends. I thought the enemy was still chasing us, but apparently only that one ogre bothered to follow us. I consider re-engaging the ogres without resting, but with three characters' Endurance bars in the yellow, I decide to go ahead and rest up before going back to the druid.

    This time, I know better than to rely on damage spells alone. Ogres have too much Endurance for us to bring down quickly; it gives them too much time to land a hit, and since their damage is concentrated in large blows rather than spread out over faster, weaker blows, it means that bad luck can make things much worse than in a normal fight (plus, bigger hits make damage reduction less meaningful).

    Instead, I take advantage of the ogres' poor Will defenses and nail one of them with Puppet Master. Despite our ciphers' poor Intellect, their high Accuracy lands us a critical hit, which means 50% extra duration. One of the ogres is ours for 18 seconds!

    https://i.imgur.com/n6PPt9P.jpg

    The dominated ogre does huge damage to its friend, and soaks up a lot of damage that would otherwise befall our party. Soon, both ogres collapse, and the druid isn't strong enough to stand up on its own when our ciphers are flinging out Amplified Thrusts.

    https://i.imgur.com/5EyIub6.jpg

    I head downstairs, ready to take on the next challenge, but then I reconsider. Our party has been doing very well, but those ogres did pose a credible threat, even if we did crush them in the end. Past experience with Od Nua has shown me that the levels exhibit some distinct spikes in difficulty, and while we were able to come out ahead against the ogres, the ogres were much tougher than the enemies we had been fighting right before them.

    I decide to back off and leave the area. Being cautious in general is a good idea in a no-reload run, but it's also incredibly important to see several steps in advance, and catch things early before they get out of hand. The time to play it safe is when the party starts to stumble; not when it starts to fall.

    JuliusBorisovBelgarathMTH
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member Posts: 14,440
    And I've just now discovered that since the Obsidian forums embed images directly in comments after posting, I can't copy over the rest of my runs' images properly by clicking Edit and then copying the post; only my first few posts included direct links that could be copied. Copying images over just gives me empty spoiler tags when I try to post it here.

    I'm not quite sure I'm willing to go back to all of those threads and painstakingly re-attach all of the pictures in just the right places (that could take hours), and I'm not sure my posts here will be worth it if there aren't any pictures attached to the text.

    I can still cross-post future runs with all the pictures in the right places (the Find and Replace function in word should let me switch between the code used on each forum), but unless someone knows a way to copy over the pictures from the Obsidian forum, I might not copy over my existing posts.

    What do you guys think? @Alesia_BH, @JuliusBorisov, @Enuhal, @Serg_BlackStrider, @Jaheiras_Witness?

    JuliusBorisov
  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 20,977
    Copy them without pics, I guess. The pictures problem is the same as the one that will happen with the new text editor here, I think.

  • Serg_BlackStriderSerg_BlackStrider Member Posts: 176
    edited December 2018
    @semiticgod:

    One way to do that is open your Obsidian post for edit over there> switch to BBCode Mode (first button on the top of edit window)> select all> copy> paster here. The result will be something like this:


    Here's one of the many problems with poverty runs: since your tanks can't wear armor, you're pretty much at the mercy of enemy weapons unless you're a wizard with Arcane Veil. And even Rosevine doesn't have the Endurance to handle a volley of crossbow bolts.


    or if you remove ([img=) and (]):




    You might leave it as is, or remove ([img=) and (]) to end with only a link to the picture (which is better since it open a pic itself):


    We have a few moments before the next volley comes, so we buy some time with Slicken and follow up with Winter Wind. By the time the melee enemies reach us, they are badly wounded and Frost is already in position for a deadly Fan of Flames spell.

    Post edited by Serg_BlackStrider on
    semiticgodJuliusBorisov
  • semiticgodsemiticgod Member Posts: 14,440
    @Serg_BlackStrider: Brilliant! I think I've got it. Microsoft Word won't stop using smart quotes despite me disabling them (quotation marks need to be neutral to display the below properly), but I can still use Find and Replace from Notepad.

    Gray Sidoh: No Per-Rest Abilities Run (three paladins, three ciphers)

    We've been doing okay so far, but I'm concerned about the druids in Stormwall Gorge. Their area-effect spells could apply some very heavy pressure on our ciphers and leave our paladins without support. They crushed me in my last attempt at a Normal mode no-reload run (the blind, reloading run on Easy died multiple times; the first Normal mode no-reload run died to a bear; and the second Normal mode no-reload run died to the druids), and our party isn't well equipped to deal with area-effect damage.

    The solution? I walk around them. There's a safe path across Stormwall Gorge that lets you avoid the druids entirely.


    I am a tactical mastermind! And also an inveterate coward.

    We buy some new gear, including a pair of boots that extend the range of our paladin auras (I put it on the paladin with the Accuracy aura, since I want the ciphers to benefit from the bonuses more often). We finally run into a couple of beetles, giving us the ingredients for an Infuse Vital Essence potion. We've been very generous with potion usage, so we need to replenish our supply. Finally, we put some extra damage enchantments on our gear--in my previous runs, I did very little enchanting, but now I know to tweak our gear to optimize our stats.

    For the first time, we delve into the Skaen temple, which I previously couldn't access due to having low Might in my party. Most of the enemies aren't heavy hitters in terms of damage, but I notice a disturbing problem: the enemy can use disablers, and while our three paladins can use Liberating Exhortation to fix them, it's a disruption in the party's functioning.


    Notice the traps that I could not disarm. Our first cipher doesn't have the Mechanics to disarm them, so I just walk around them.

    Whenever we engage the Skaen cultists, we target the spellcasters first with Mind Blades, since the initial hits do more damage than the area-effect hits. It lets us bring down the key opponents relatively quickly.


    Then I see this room, and the party comes to a halt.


    That looks like a sacrificial altar, and if it's anything like the one with the Xaurips and their Drake, entering that room could lead us right into a major fight that we aren't prepared for. I decide to play it safe and back away from the room.

    Most of the enemies don't give us much trouble, but the numbers in the dialog box demonstrate that the enemy can hit pretty hard if it gets lucky. Most of the time, our paladins can shrug off the attacks, but bad luck can really amplify the threat, as one of the enemy priests demonstrates.


    The enemy starts hitting harder and reaching longer, poking at our ciphers. It seems the cultists have some area-effect options, and either the area of effect is very wide, or the enemy is smart enough to target our ciphers.


    It's not fatal to the ciphers, but even suffering moderate damage forces our ciphers to resort to healing options if our paladins can't reach them immediately, and having our ciphers spend a few seconds healing themselves means that we're making less progress against the enemy.

    Once we clear out most of the first level, only the sacrificial altar room is left. I don't know this area at all, and the local cultists have managed to land some heavy blows on our party. If a boss fight lies beyond that room, the difficulty might be high enough to put us in danger. Rather than dive into unknown territory, we leave the area. Safety first!

    I make peace with Korgrak and deal with the spiders using Puppet Master. As Baron Pampa pointed out (before I had a chance to post on my progress!), enemy Will defenses are generally much weaker than their other defenses, which means it's not that hard to turn the spiders against their queen.


    For the first time ever, I take advantage of a resting bonus from an inn: the Wurm's Nest room at the Dracogen Inn, giving us +6 to our damage reduction against fire damage. It's time to take on the Drake and the Xaurips back at Caed Nua!

    We're a little overleveled for this fight, but I think that's pretty reasonable considering how much tougher the Drake fight is than the other fights in the area. I discover that the Xaurip Skirmishers are more than just petty meat shields, however: they also can paralyze on hit!


    Notice the Scroll of Defense and the various other buffs listed on Gray Sidoh. We might be high-level for this fight, but there's no reason not to burn some limited resources when it comes to a high-pressure boss fight I've only beaten once before.

    Paralysis attacks or no, the Xaurips are highly vulnerable to Mind Blades, and it doesn't help that their own ally, the Drake, uses a Knockdown effect that's party-unfriendly and can easily knock them prone. In the end, the Xaurips crumple under minimal resistance, and our ciphers lock down the Drake with paralysis spells of their own.



    The Drake falls, and one of its talons becomes our first ever Scrolls of Revival. All of our characters are investing in Lore, so I plan on giving high-end scrolls to everyone in the party. We also get Ilfan Bryngar's Solace, the incredibly tank-friendly shield that made Eder more or less invincible against big enemies with knockdown attacks in my previous run. With +50 to all defenses when the wearer is stunned or prone, it's basically designed to fight dragons.

    I continue to learn how to manage enemy pressure and position my ciphers. I pay much closer attention to enemy approach patterns, since I only get a second or two to recognize when an enemy is targeting my ciphers. When some skeletons decide to slip past our three paladins, I pull back my ciphers to buy enough time to fire an Amplified Thrust, which is enough to break engagement with its knockback alone (and also deals enough damage to score early kills on certain critters).



    I love seeing that bright blue glow. I associate it with monsters dying.

    BelgarathMTHJuliusBorisov
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