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Shapeshifter dualled to fighter at level 18 thoughts

I seem to keep coming back to the Druid classes - clearly not the most powerful, but I've always found them to be the most fun to play, especially when solo'ing. I started my run in BG1: https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/63281/solo-no-reload-shapeshifter-maybe-shapeshifter-fighter/p1?new=1 and have been planning to dual class at a very late level: level 18. I was hoping to do a no reload run, but it has turned into a 'try to be careful, don't rush and don't be too stupid' run :) The idea behind the run was to test the mechanics and see if there was any merit to such a dual class. I'd read a couple of threads here about dualling at a low level or at level 13 when you can shift into the greater form. But neither was for me as I wanted to get a good range of spells and I can only see a point to dualling low to a fighter if you are just doing BG1.

I think there is a very strong case for waiting till level 15 to dual to a fighter as you get that great bonus to spell count, immunity to poison and one druid hla (my favourite of the hlas). However, I also wanted to summon elemental princes just because so I thought I'd hold out until level 18, getting the bonus to elemental resistances as well.

Having done BG1, I was nearly at level 11 when I arrived in Irenicus' dungeon and was level 12 when I left. There is definitely a gap in levelling between 12-13 and 14-15, which can be painful, but once you are level 15, reaching level 18 is no sweat. My plan was to do as many of the fights as possible without claiming any of the quests rewards, bar the Druid Grove and Trademeet genies so I could pick up some of the nice items from the merchant there.

My tactics were invariably to cast Death Ward, Chaotic Commands, Iron Skins on myself, summon fire elementals and go to town. Getting the Staff of Arundel asap is a great idea to add a couple of high level spells to your list. With this, I was able to get through most of BG2 before spellhold bar killing the dragons and leaving a few of the easier fights to when I was ready to dual. Sadly I did die once early on, charmed by the druid fighting those trolls in the grove. Really stupidly I'd just forgotten to have chaotic commands up. Eh well, live and learn. To get to level 18 I did end up having to complete the Planar Sphere and the Prison Plane quests fully. I chose Aura of Flaming Death (because it is cool), the elemental summoning and prince summoning (cool), and a fire elemental transformation (because, cool and I'd named my character Imix :smile: ). I dualled to a fighter, nervously, and collected numerous quest rewards, dealt with some smaller quests and arrived at level 10/11 pretty easily. I did die a couple of times to traps (bridge lich doorway and a trap in the tanner's home – definitely worth setting off traps while still a druid), I also died against the beholder you fight with Shangalar, which I didn't understand as I was still under the scroll of magic protection's aegis...? Any info on why would be much appreciated! I also made an interesting discovery in the tanner's home - I had retained my ability to shift into a fire elemental! This is fantastic for several reasons:

Immunity to non-magic weapons!
Fire resistance 100%
Boost to AC, which is very much needed as you cannot wear armour
The +1APR for being a level 13 fighter transfers so that is 2APR at super high strength!

I'm currently in the Underdark and have just had my old abilities returned so I thought it would be worth noting some observations about the Shapeshifter-Fighter:

Firstly, what do you lose? Compared to a pure Shapeshifter you lose 1 level 1-4, 3 level 5, and 1 level 6&7 spells. In my mind, not the end of the world. You are also caster level 18 rather than 20 and you lose out on 20% elemental resistance and further druid HLAs. Compared to a fighter/druid, you lose a few spells, 10% elemental resistance and the same caster level difference, as well as HP and one, I think, HLA overall.

What do you gain? Compared to a pure shapeshifter, you have much higher saving throws, max thac0, you can put two pips into single weapon fighting to gain a further -1AC, slightly more HP, you can use a shield. Compared to a fighter/druid, the only thing you gain is the bonuses from being able to use the Greater Werewolf form, you can also attain grand mastery with a weapon for when you aren't shifted.

So I think it is also worth comparing fire elemental to the wolf. The fire elemental has higher strength and fire damage (which won't affect too many critters, but can be useful) and it does more damage/hit. You are also immune to normal weapons and have 100% fire resistance. It doesn't affect thac0 really, but you do get the AC bonus which looks to me like it adds 12 to your AC plus dex and items. Also, importantly, you get a lot more bang for your buck when you use whirlwind in this form. I'd say the immunity to normal weapons and fire resistance are a little redundant depending on the trials of Bhaal.

My wolf form now has 4APR (cool), 60% elemental resistance across the board and 40% magic resistance, the AC bonus also appears to be +18. With this it is really easy to get up to the -24AC cap. I have read a lot about this not being significant against many ToB enemies, but I'm still keen to try this out for myself. In SoA, it is awesome!
My intention is to have the following build towards the end of the game:
Spectral Blade, Darksteel Shield, Amulet of the Seldarine/Cheetah Speed, Ring of Gaax, Ring of Protection +3, Cloak of the Sewers, Helm of Balduran/Helm of the Rock, Belt of Inertial Barriers, Gauntlets of Weapon Expertise, Boots of Speed/the missile avoidance ones.
I need to verify this, but by my calculation, this would give me 60% magic resistance (if I take off the ring and amulet and put them back on), at least 90% elemental resistance, over that with the Helm of the Rock, 50% reduction in magic damage, 25% reduction from missile damage, immune to level drain, saves into the negatives and an AC of -23/24 depending on whether I'm wearing Baldur's/Vhailor's helm. If I planned on using Aura of Flaming Death, I might combine that with taking off the ring of protection and going with free action perhaps, depending on the situation. With the amulet of cheetah speed, you can get 23 rounds of 9 APR, which is awesome!
Having played on a little further since writing this, I did boost my AC pretty high against Firkraag, but he dispelled my protections and proceeded to hit me pretty often , but he still died. My AC cap is definitely 24 with magic, not 26 as I thought for being part Fighter. Makes me wonder about which Bhaal rewards to go to. I’m imagining that the MR won’t stack so wouldn’t be too important and I suspect the AC bonus won’t help either, albeit I wouldn’t be worried about dispelling…
I’m having a blast playing this character though! Very defensive, good APR, lots of immunities. Bit of a blow that you don’t get any weapon effects on your paws (which makes sense) and some disappointment that AC is not likely to help that much. I’m still vulnerable to fear and dispel, but otherwise this feels like a really cool class to see the mechanics of.

The main weaknesses I see with this character are no protection against fear spells bar saving throws and a lot of the cool equipment isn't achieved till late in the game. Annoyingly I seem to have misplaced my Amulet of Power so level drain is very annoying as Negative Plane Protection doesn't last very long. Also, damage output is a little limited as the paws don't do very much and you have to shift out of that form to deal with some enemies. That said, you can make a great distraction with super high AC and iron skins while your fire elementals do the dirty work.

In conclusion, I think this is a really fun build to try, which gets very powerful at the end. I think the thacO, ability to use shields and some other fighter gear combined with the amazing base resistances and AC of the wolf make this an excellent solo character with planning.
ArctodusDivineBloodOrlonKronsteenCrevsDaakDJKajuruBelgarathMTHJuliusBorisovcreateaccountBorcolunartbone1Harpagornis

Comments

  • JasperRaithJasperRaith Member Posts: 22
    @Grond0 Thanks! Interesting, never knew that and it explains a lot...would a potion of mirrored eyes work/Balduran's Shield?
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 4,289
    @JasperRaith , Are you using the vanilla EE shapeshifter kit, or are you using one of the Tweaks or SCS "shapeshifter rebalancing" mods?

    Also, do you keep the fighter's thac0 and APR bonuses when you're in wolf form?
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 1,349

    @Grond0 Thanks! Interesting, never knew that and it explains a lot...would a potion of mirrored eyes work/Balduran's Shield?

    A potion of mirrored eyes wouldn't work - it would get dispelled almost immediately by anti-magic gaze. I can't remember if Balduran's Shield protects from that, but wouldn't rely on it myself (certainly not if you were using SCS). I normally just wait until I can get death saving throws negative using only equipment to avoid protection being dispelled (that's easy for fighter and cleric types) - a quick improved hasted or GWW assault will then finish him off in no time.
    CrevsDaakJuliusBorisov
  • ArunsunArunsun Member Posts: 1,222

    @Grond0 Thanks! Interesting, never knew that and it explains a lot...would a potion of mirrored eyes work/Balduran's Shield?

    Potion of mirrored eyes would work till you get dispelled with that antimagic ray. Balduran shield would work though
    JuliusBorisov
  • JasperRaithJasperRaith Member Posts: 22
    @BelgarathMTH Yep, vanilla shapeshifter EE - I remember playing the shapeshifter mod on the PC when it first came out...it was obscene! Fun for a bit, but when your mountain bear take down a dragon and you're regenerating so fast that no-one can hurt you it kinda takes the challenge away imo.
    And to answer your question, this was one of the main things I wanted to test - you do indeed get Fighter thac0, so 0 with the strength mod of -4, nice. And the best thing imo is the extra APR in both fire element form and werewolf!
    @Grond0 & @Arunsun I really should have waited until I had my druid class back for the excellent death save throw, but suspect I might still have just rolled a 1, what with ring or protection +2, Helm of Balduran and the Ring of Gaxx. So it looks like Balduran's Shield is the only reliable way to do it! Cheers :smiley:
    JuliusBorisovBelgarathMTH
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 1,349

    @Grond0 & @Arunsun I really should have waited until I had my druid class back for the excellent death save throw, but suspect I might still have just rolled a 1, what with ring or protection +2, Helm of Balduran and the Ring of Gaxx. So it looks like Balduran's Shield is the only reliable way to do it! Cheers :smiley:

    That looks like you're worried about a critical failure of a saving throw - don't be. Although a 1 is a critical miss when attacking, there's no equivalent for saving throws, i.e. if they're good enough then success is guaranteed.
    semiticgod
  • JasperRaithJasperRaith Member Posts: 22
    @Grond0 really? That's fascinating, I had no idea! Although this now leads me to another question, my saving throw is now 1 vs spells, but against the dragon in the elven city I both failed my save against dragon fear and then also got caught by his entangle spell. I can imagine dragon fear has a penalty, but doesn't entangle give you a save with a bonus? Appreciate your help :)
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 1,349
    edited February 10
    Dragon fear will almost certainly have a penalty (I think the extent of that varies between dragons) and is also against breath I think rather than spells. I agree that the standard entangle spell has a bonus vs save, but I seem to remember the entangle cast by that dragon is a scripted cast and I imagine it also has a non-standard save (there are plenty of enemies that use special abilities that mimic spells, but with variations).
  • AasimAasim Member Posts: 398
    Afaik dragon entangle comes with a challenging -10 to save.
    semiticgod
  • JasperRaithJasperRaith Member Posts: 22
    @Grond0 @Aasim cheating dragons :) at least that puts my mind at ease that I'm not going mad - behind the scenes secret penalties make it difficult to plan a character! Cheers
  • KhyronKhyron Member Posts: 297
    edited February 10
    Things may have changed, but I did try this a long time ago.. but I dualed my shapechanger at lvl 13, when i got the greater werewolf form.

    What I did though, was go Two-Weapon fighting on the fighter and equip scimitars or clubs or whatever.. when I had those equipped as I changed shape, I would retain the APR bonus from off-hand as well, giving me 5 APR.

    I finished the game like this, barely using spells and constantly in werewolf or slayer shape.. it was fun.
    semiticgod
  • JasperRaithJasperRaith Member Posts: 22
    @Khyron I was hoping that was still the case in EE. For BG1, it is, you get a bonus attack from dual wield, albeit your thac0 suffers, but not in BG2 - you get weapon abilities, e.g. Spectral Blade summon and thac0 increase, but you don't get things like the negative plane protection from it. You also get no bonus APR for dual wield. If you dual to a fighter, you can benefit from a shield and its bonuses, e.g. Darksteel Shield elemental bonuses - weird!

    To wrap this thread up, I've just about finished the game and expect only the last boss to give me a headache. There have certainly been some changes to the EE edition, and even the odd inconsistency between BG1 and 2 - e.g. dual wield! You can no longer use the white dragon scale - boo, but the right thing! You retain shapeshifter HLAs if you dual to a fighter, weird, but great! The MR from Hell and Lum to stack with your werewolf form for a base of 55%, but you need to re-equip the Ring of Gaxx and Amulet of the Seldarine to get their MR bonuses - can't work out whether that is meant to be or not? But 75% MR is super. Elemental resistances easily go over 100% for fire, cold and electric, and I had 95 for acid, which was all super.

    If I was doing it again, which I will be, I would chose differently in the Hell Trials.
    I would chose the AC bonus. I know it doesn't matter against the big enemies, but there are enough horde fights/multiple enemies that I think it does really help when combined with Ironskins, making it really long lasting. And I've had my defensive harmony+aura of flaming death dispelled too often. With that bonus, you can just about reach the cap of -24AC with no magical assistance.

    I think I would also take the Nymph Cloak - towards the end of the game, despite hoping for no reloads, Fear really got to me and Druids have no way to protect against this bar choosing a Deva HLA. So I might opt for that - losing out on saving throw bonuses isn't bad - with the Belt of Inertial Barrier, your werewolf resistances, Death Ward+Chaotic Commands, nothing really hurts you except getting hit.

    Not sure how to combat that - hit and run gets you so far, but there are some really tough single baddies that really challenge this character build.

    One thought did occur to me, was using the Deck of Many Things at the very end battle to get 24 hour Mantle - has anyone tried that? Does it work against many of the Melissan summons, etc.?

    Overall, I love this character build. I'm going to dual at level 15 next time. I have also dumped Dex as my stat (rolled a 95!) as for the most part the lack of armour will hurt AC if not in shifted form, and when in shifted form your dex is meaningless. This will mean I can pump up intelligence for anti mind flayer fun. My one reservation about the character is that the paws being +1 mean you cannot hit quite a few enemies and that can be frustrating when you are fighting a group - do you turn back to human form or what...tough. But I think every build has to have a weakness and given the defence of this class is so good, it all balances out - try it!
    NoobaccaGrond0
  • KhyronKhyron Member Posts: 297
    Wow, you've put a lot of effort and thought into this.. I salute you.

    As for every class and combo having a weakness.. well.. a Fighter dualed to Cleric is pretty close to perfect.
    Lacks arcane magic and ability to use some of the best weapons (but gets FoA and Crom..)

    Has a spell to get an immunity to just about everything and has the utlimate cheese (Blade barrier + sanctuary.. you can literally be a walking blender and chunk the ever living crap out of any given enemy in the entire game like this..) But I digress..

    I'm keen on another shapechanger run myself, and I probably will some time soon since Torment was a huge disappointment. But it won't be solo, I think i'd actually bring Korgan..
    JasperRaith
  • WarChiefZekeWarChiefZeke Member Posts: 416
    Khyron said:

    Wow, you've put a lot of effort and thought into this.. I salute you.

    As for every class and combo having a weakness.. well.. a Fighter dualed to Cleric is pretty close to perfect.
    Lacks arcane magic and ability to use some of the best weapons (but gets FoA and Crom..)

    You're right, pretty close to perfect, but not quite ;)

    Clerics have a near total defense package and a powerful- but limited- offensive package. They are almost exclusively relegated to blunt damage and don't have much in the way of spell damage. If you had blunt immunity and some insta death and fire resistance a cleric would have a very difficult time touching you.
  • lunarlunar Member Posts: 3,271
    Very interesting concept. I reckon it would be a pain to play during the dualling process, but once it is done it should be very cool!
  • JasperRaithJasperRaith Member Posts: 22
    Yeah, clerics/cleric combos are pretty special - I especially like playing a cleric of lathander for the boon - a lot of options for defence/immunities and can put some impressive offense together. I don't find the blunt damage to be much of a limit in the game. I can only think of Nylee's shambling mounds that are immune to blunt damage, but might be wrong.
    @lunar yep it really is a lot of fun to play, not least striding Faerun as a pooch :). You also don't have to spend too much time micromanaging spells, etc. as your passive immunities are so good - raise ironskins, death ward and chaotic commands, maybe shield of the archons and you are pretty good to get stuck in all day long with very little that worries you. I think the Greenstone Amulet is a must though for anti-fear.
    As a further reflection on this build, I'd say dualling at level 15 is probably best to chose one druid HLA. I'd probably even go for the fire elemental transformation, which I never thought I'd say for the extra AC which you lack from no armour and also the ability to hit things the werewolf can't. Deva is probably still better, but doesn't feel right. You might also mitigate some of the level up difficulties from maxing out what you gather in BG1. Admittedly haven't plundered that game to the max to see how much you can get by BG2 - it won't help loads, but might make things slightly easier...
    lunarBlackraven
  • tbone1tbone1 Member Posts: 503
    I think clerics might be the most ... not necessarily underrated, but most under appreciated base class in the game. I happily take a cleric in multiplayer, often with a sarcastic name (Billy Monday, Legba, Evan Gelist, Heironymous Bonk, etc)
    OrlonKronsteenBorco
  • DevardKrownDevardKrown Member Posts: 326
    all i got to read is the headline, no ... lvl 18 thats too deep to even Matter. 3.2million xp that the upper ranks of BG2

    Meaning you play BG, BG Swordcoast, BG SOD, and Most of BG2 as your main class.. why bother for the last addon to Dual around.

    stick with your Puppy.
    semiticgodThacoBell
  • JasperRaithJasperRaith Member Posts: 22
    @DevardKrown I don't think that is the case when solo'ing - you get so much experience so quickly that you cap out early anyway. I regained my class abilities in the underdark with plenty of game to play, including ToB and the benefits of dualling really came through imo.

    Biggest point I'd make is that while I'm no expert player but I, like many others, have played the game so many times that injecting a bit of challenge mid game is actually quite welcome. Not least experimenting to see what has changed in ee, what bugs no longer exist (wearing White Dragon Scale for instance), etc. Playing solo, I think you need this in order to keep going.

    There are a number of really good benefits though and what you lose isn't that much:
    Pros:
    Use of shields for passive bonuses and AC
    +1APR
    Better Thac0 by 6
    Better saves
    Access to Hardiness and Whirlwind HLAs

    Cons:
    Less spells - I'd say less important than for other druid classes as if you've chosen a shapeshifter you are effectively opting for buffing, summons, shift, combat.
    Some elemental resistance, but access to the Helm of the Rock is kinda the same and with the shift it was pretty easy to get 100% except for acid
    Druid HLAs - very cool and thematic, but a number will be relatively useless. Transformation ones are clearly for fighter mixes/dual class. Resurrection is useless. Aura of Flaming Death doesn't add much and is often dispelled. For me, it is the deva, elemental princes, and globe that have a place in this build and you could get those if you dual at 18.

    I digress, as mentioned, if I was doing it again, I'd probably dual at level 15 and have one druid HLA, but mainly to get the boost in spells. A pure shapeshifter solo is of course doable, but this build will be better, especially in ToB. SOA is unlikely to be much of a challenge for many if any kits/builds when you solo due to HLAs, etc. But ToB is where the challenge is.
    Noobaccasemiticgod
  • HarpagornisHarpagornis Member Posts: 829
    I really like your concept @JasperRaith and its good to see that it even works solo - with some care!

    At the moment i am playing a Totemic Druid - who has already beaten BG 1 and SoD - at the beginning of SoA using LoB + SCS + No Reload restrictions. I thought for some time going with a Shapeshifter but as the Spirit Summons (L10) are very powerful up to SoA i went for the safer option. Have you also tried this combo or is Shapeshifter THE way to go for you? If things didnt go wrong i plan to dual at level 15 - most probably - and will then abuse the Gauth XP loop in the Unseeing Eye quest (resting + Baldurans Shield + Everards Sling) to soak up XP fast and easy. I also thought about going with pure Totemic Druid but ToB - and especially Ascencion Melissan - would be neverending pain. If we survive up to this point... :D
    ArctodusGrond0
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