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Solo No-Reload Archer/Thief SCS2 Run

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  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,833
    I need escape options in case Poppy gets targeted by an instant kill spell, so we go down to the Temple District sewers to buy some potions from Roger: two Potions of Magic Shielding and two Potions of Invulnerability. I also bomb some Beholders that appear in the southwest, and mob a Rakshasa to get the Cloak of the Sewers.
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    The Cloak of the Sewers is known for its rat shapeshift, which gets 90% resistance to physical damage, or 110% if you equip the Defender of Easthaven in the off hand. That form lasts 20 rounds and is enough to deal with almost any melee-based enemy. But I recently discovered another important benefit of the Cloak of the Sewers.

    The Troll shapeshift gives you the same magical weapon as the Troll form from the Shapechange spell. And that magical weapon makes you immune to unconsciousness.

    This is the only way a non-casting class can get immunity to Emotion and Stinking Cloud without relying on saving throws or MR, and as a human fighter, Poppy's saves aren't going to be reliable until much later in the game. We have a check against unconsciousness! This could prove very useful against Kangaxx, though Kangaxx can still dispel the Troll form's weapon with Remove Magic.

    Right now, though, we have other problems. I want to take on Draug Fea and his fellow thugs. And I have just the means of doing it.

    I conjure a simulacrum via Vhailor's Helm, hide in shadows, and approach the enemy while hidden. I send the simulacrum forth and charm Tarnor the Hatchetman.

    He's not going to help me win the fight against the rest of the group, but that's not what I need him for. Right now, I just want to take him on a stroll.
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    Can you see where this is going?

    I also charm Zorl and send him to the southeast corner of the map, then march Rengaard over to the Rakshasa's former hideout. This leaves Draug Fea, Gallchobhair, and Gaius together at the north end of the sewers.

    Gaius is a problem. He has been and probably always will be the most dangerous member of the group, and he's the first one I want out of the battle. But he has a save vs. spell of 1, meaning the Ring of Human Influence cannot affect him.

    But the Nymph Cloak doesn't use a save vs. spell. It uses a save vs. breath.

    And it lasts 60 turns.

    Gaius fails his save and promptly begins to prepare to take down his former pals.
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    As a high-level mage, his Animate Dead spell summons two Skeleton Warriors, along with the lesser Skeletons on the side. This isn't vanilla content--I never bothered to uninstall the removal of the summoning cap, or the altered versions of Animate Dead--but it doesn't make much difference. Gaius can get the job done with raw damage alone.
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    Unfortunately, Horrid Wilting gives us no XP. So, we can't let Gaius deal the killing blow anymore, or we'll miss out on half the reward. Gaius hits Draug Fea with a Flame Arrow and lets the summons and Poppy's clone do the rest.

    From there, we head south, to meet Rengaard, who, to our delight, fails a save against the Ring of Human Influence. And Rengaard has lots of summoning spells.
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    The Ring of Human Influence's charm effect lasts 100 seconds, not 42 like in the Charm Person spell (though both offer a +3 bonus to the target's save), so Rengaard and Gaius spend many rounds wasting their best spells. Gaius has a lot of potential game over spells, and we don't want him to have any of them when we finally turn on him. For some of the buffing spells, I have Rengaard and Gaius start casting them and then order them to take a few steps to the side right afterward, allowing me to expend their spells without letting them gain any benefit from them.

    Eventually, Rengaard is no longer useful to us. We swarm him.

    Next up is Zorl, the other enemy cleric. Poppy can't try to charm him without turning visible (the last use of the Ring of Human Influence came from Poppy's clone), so we just attack him.
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    Two people left. Gaius spends some of his last spells on taking down Tarnor the Hatchetman, who demands that we hand over our gold once Poppy breaks her invisibility by throwing her darts. We say no.
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    We let him live just long enough to break through Gaius' Stoneskins, and bring Gaius to Near Death.

    We go over the area to make sure we've gotten everybody. Finally, we confirm it.

    Gaius is the only one left.

    We have him empty his spellbook in front of us, and just for the hell of it, we use his last spell to silence him.
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    Completely unnecessary. But very satisfying.
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    We gather up all the loot and sell it to Roger, for over 15,000 gold.

    Draug Fea just paid for our trip to Spellhold. But we've still got a lot more to do.

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    CrevsDaaklolienkcwiseJuliusBorisov
  • CrevsDaakCrevsDaak Member Posts: 7,156
    edited February 2015


    The stuff I left there before is gone, pilfered by Rovala's own employees. Blackraven, apparently the de'Arnise Hold isn't a safe place for Rovala's things, at least with my install. She also involuntarily got the ranger stronghold, which might interfere with it somehow, but otherwise I'm not sure what went wrong.

    When you get the Keep as a stronghold, it switches the area (for one that's basically the same except for the graphics), and you must have left your stuff in the other area (it was either turned back or you haven't completed the quest).

    kcwiseJuliusBorisovsemiticgoddess
  • DreadKhanDreadKhan Member Posts: 3,859
    Doesnt the money storage thing eat items always though, each time gold is added? Can't remember for certain, I never used it myself.

    kcwiseCrevsDaak
  • TidusTidus Member Posts: 86
    @semiticgod ,
    how can Poppy use Valygar's armour without UAI? I always wanted to don it on somebody else than its original owner but it seems to need both stat match and UAI to work...

    kcwise
  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,833
    @Tidus: It might not apply for BG2:EE, but Valygar's armor is flagged to be unusable only by dwarves, elves, half-elves, gnomes, and halflings, as well as bards, clerics, mages, mage/thieves, thieves, druids, paladins, and kensais. It is usable by all other classes and all other races (humans and half-orcs).

    It also requires 18 DEX and 11 WIS, ruling out Minsc, Anomen, and Sarevok. The Gauntlets of Dexterity allow Anomen to wear it, and you can get in on Sarevok or Minsc by having them drink a Potion of Insight as well. Sarevok can also wear it if you use the Machine of Lum the Mad to boost his DEX and WIS by one point.

    BlackravenTiduskcwiseCrevsDaak
  • TidusTidus Member Posts: 86
    edited February 2015
    @semiticgod ,
    thanks! I indeed play EE... the armour is flagged 'usable by: VALYGAR' and requires 6 STR, 18 DEX + 11 WIS.
    which means only Jan or Hexxat might be able to get it with proper setup... :neutral:

    kcwiseBlackravenCrevsDaak
  • ReticentReticent Member Posts: 122
    @semiticgod

    You only have to accept, not complete, the Unseeing Eye quest to be offered the Sir Sarles quest.

    kcwiseBlackravenCrevsDaak
  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,833
    @Reticent: I was wondering about that. I might just go get that illithium. I might not need it against the vampires, since I can use Protection from Undead scrolls, but it'll be a big help against the many other level-draining enemies of the game.

    Blackravenkcwise
  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,833
    Sigh.

    Much progress has been made since the last post, but due to some boneheaded decisions on my part, several times Poppy survived largely thanks to tactics even I would consider pretty unfair. If I had just made two slight modifications to my plan, then I would have succeed in a fair fight.

    I don't remember everything that's happened since the debacle with the Coiled Cabal, but I will try to recount where I've been. Much less will be posted here as far as screenshots go, except for a handful of major fights. Bear in mind Poppy has probably been gathering many more sources of XP than I will describe here, since my only record of this run is in the form of screenshots and my own memory, and neither of them is complete.

    After slaying Mekrath, I took on the de'Arnise Keep. Darts of Stunning on Glaicas, +5 darts on the golems, Flail of Ages and Belm on the Clay Golem, and Efreeti Fireballs and +5 darts for basically everything else.

    From there, I took on Rayic Gethras. I kited him all the way outside of his home, draining his spells with summons and hit-and-fade ranged attacks. When his defenses were down, I switched to Firetooth and Bolts of Lightning. In the end, he was slain by a Magic Missile from an Efreeti. With Ray-Ray dead, I could finish the rest of the Mae'var questline.

    Once that was done, I could side with Bodhi without losing out on a major source of gold and XP. This meant I could get the Mace of Disruption, upgrade it, and get immunity to level drain, which I wanted before I fought the Vampiric Wraiths in Watcher's Keep, which I have to fight to get the Ammo Belt.

    After siding with Bodhi, I decided to clear out the first level of the Shadow Thief hideout early. I've seen the mages there cast Sphere of Chaos before, so this is a risky encounter. I entered the area while hidden and had a simulacrum trigger the enemy's buffs, which I could wait out elsewhere while my simulacrum picked off the non-casting enemies. When a mage cornered me, I switched to Darts of Stunning and activated Called Shot, which brought down the mage very easily, as she had already wasted her PFMW protecting herself from my simulacrum. Afterward, I dealt with Mook and completed Bodhi's first quest, but did not report back to her, since Bodhi always warns you that taking too long to complete the second quest may cause you to fail.

    I then went to Watcher's Keep and took down the Vampiric Wraiths while dual-wielding Belm and the Mace of Disruption--for once, with Belm in the main hand, since I had no pips in maces. In the process of looting the first area, I walked around a petrification trap and made a lucky save against what appeared to be a Finger of Death trap. I took down all hostile enemies in the area, plus the Guardian Golems, but did not begin the ritual so I wouldn't have to fight the statues.

    I then returned to the Unseeing Eye quest, where I hoped to duplicate the Shield of Balduran. SCS2 Beholders will try to steal the SOB from you after a few rounds, and since the shield appears on the body of whichever Beholder stole it from you, I assumed it would take the shield from Poppy's simulacrum, creating a duplicate copy on the Beholder's body.

    This did not pan out. The Beholders refused to steal the clone's shield. Instead, they just floated over and started biting her when they realized their rays were useless. So, I just had the clone whomp on the Beholders until they died. Poppy hid in the corner to direct her clone.

    For the Blind Priests, I had the clone drink a Potion of Magic Shielding to block the clerics' disablers, and disrupt their spells with Belm and the Flail of Ages. Again, Poppy herself hid. She was eventually exposed, and hit with Blindness, but she hasted herself with Arbane's Sword and fled the area to avoid getting hit by a Greater Command spell.

    I intended to have Poppy's clone also deal with the Unseeing Eye single-handedly, but for some reason, the clone could not attack it after using the Rift Device on it. I'd just get an auto-pause saying the target vanished, even though the Unseeing Eye was perfectly visible. So, I had to take Poppy out of hiding to slay the beholder with darts. Then, to avoid the Death Tyrants, Poppy drank a Potion of Invisibility, ran off, rested, and returned to hit the Death Tyrants with the Rift Device, fired from her clone, and finish them off with darts. The same tactic worked against Gaal.

    From there, I went to the Windspear Hills. The Ruhk Transmuter failed a save against his own Web spell (for some reason, I keep seeing Rakshasas get hurt by their own spells), allowing me to get in some free hits, but I had to resort to Arbane's Sword, since I might get disabled by the Web if I used darts. The Stinking Cloud wasn't an issue, however, as Poppy had guaranteed saves against it, thanks to the Cloak of Displacement.

    I originally intended to take down the vampires in Firkraag's lair with the simulacrum, who would attack with the Mace of Disruption while under the effects of a scroll of Protection from Undead, while Poppy would stay hidden nearby, as she did with the Beholders. The clone made short work of several of the vampires, but vanished before all of them died. Since I've had bad experiences with vampire survivors ambushing me days after I thought the whole group was dead, I decided to finish off the rest of the vampires. To save the scroll of Protection from Undead, Poppy just equipped the Mace of Disruption with the Shield of Harmony to block both level drain and domination.

    But apparently, the Shield of Harmony doesn't fully protect you from a vampire's Domination spell.
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    At first, I was going to grant myself a reload, on the grounds that Poppy couldn't possibly have gotten charmed, but then I noticed the game wasn't over, despite the fact that I couldn't select Poppy and she had the little rising green magic animation indicating a failed save vs. a charm spell. Somehow, she had been rendered unselectable but not charmed, confused, held, or knocked unconscious. She just stood there while the vampires struggled to hit her.

    When she recovered, I had her use up her scroll of Protection from Undead and spend some time stomping on the Giant Rats that the vampires had summoned while she was disabled, since the rats were dealing a fair amount of disease damage. From there, she attacked the vampires, and when the vampires turned invisible, she lured them out of hiding with a summons.

    I decided not to take on Samia, as I wasn't sure I would be able to. Rovala took down the whole group with traps, but Poppy has no traps and never will.

    Since Poppy is rapidly approaching 3 million XP, I sent her back to Bodhi to profit from the main quest's substantial quest XP bonuses. There are two choices for Bodhi's second quest: rescuing somebody from the Shadow Thieves, or killing a nobleman. Normally I prefer the "sickly hero's task," but that entails fighter more Shadow Thief mages, and I believe all of them may cast Sphere of Chaos.

    To avoid dealing with any more Sphere of Chaos spells, I chose the "unseemly task," but I ended up sparing the guy's life because I was afraid of becoming a Fallen Ranger. I don't really know the parameters for becoming a Fallen Ranger or Paladin, other than low reputation or picking the "evil" options in Hell. Bodhi took the news well, however.
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    I then invaded Aran Linvail's lair, and went just far enough to reach level 18. I picked Whirlwind Attack as my first HLA. I have some very big plans for that HLA, but first, I need Cernd to give me some Fire Seeds.

    Cernd was still at level 10, so I had to bring him into the party and fight some of the critters I left alone when I last visited the grove. Kyland Lind and company fell to Efreeti Fireballs and Kitty's Web Tangle spells. Once I slew the trolls just northeast of the Troll Mound, Cernd hit level 11. Once I confirmed I could make his Fire Seeds permanent by putting them in the Ammo Belt, I removed him from the party. I will now cheat in Fire Seeds to mimic the effects of borrowing Cernd whenever I need more.

    Fire Seeds will allow me to drain STR through PFMW and Absolute Immunity. Poppy's clone is at level 12 now, and therefore her Called Shot will do STR drain even without a Restoration scroll to bring her up to Poppy's level. The clone will also have Whirlwind Attack for 6 seconds of 10 APR, and since Called Shot lasts 12 seconds, and we can have at most 10 Fire Seeds in one stack, Poppy and her clone together can drain 20 STR in one round, provided they have one extra round to prepare. And since our Efreeti summons has 20 STR, we will have a viable target for our Fire Seeds.

    Now that we have Whirlwind Attack and Fire Seeds, we are ready to face Kangaxx.

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  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,833
    By the way...

    Sparing the guy's life in Bodhi's second task allows you to keep the Shadow Thief Dagger, which sets your APR to 2, despite not being a throwing dagger. This extra attack is added to your main hand even if the dagger is wielded in the off hand, just like any other speed weapon. This means Kundane, Belm, and the Scarlet Ninja-to are not the only speed weapons in vanilla BG2! The dagger unfortunately does not get a STR bonus and is a nonmagical weapon. This means it's normally not stronger than Belm/Kundane/Scarlet Ninja-to, but is a little more effective when dealing with PFMW. The fact that it SETS base APR to 2 instead of adding 1 also means that it allows projected images to attack (it also overrides the effect of the Boots of Lightning Speed, which unfortunately do not show up in BG2). Also, a projected image using the Shadow Thief Dagger, whether dual-wielding or not, gets 1 better APR than a projected image using Belm/Kundane/Scarlet Ninja-to.

    So we have a nonmagical speed weapon with poor damage that gives projected images the same APR as the original caster.

    kcwiselolienBlackravenCrevsDaak
  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,833
    Internet unavailable in my laptop, so using iPhone instead. No screenshots available, but i haven't been taking many anyway.

    To get the Boots of Speed, we went to the Planar Sphere. Talk block Aawill, then attack while hidden using simulacrum. Cloak of Non-Detection kept me hidden; Smite and Power Attack kept the enemy disabled, and Arrows of Dispelling took down enemy Stoneskins. Even the Warden could be stun locked thanks to Smite.

    Brynnlaw! Perth the Adept falls to Smite.

    Spellhold! Smite on Mind Flayer, attack with clone while hidden to slay Beholder and Kobolds. Lich stunned with Smite; Whirlwind took down its Stoneskins.

    Traded mithril tokens for Boots of Grounding and the North. With all save-boosting items, we can resist the disintegrate trap.

    Irenicus! Ran off to the west to leave Jonny to the inmates, then slew clone with Belm. Used Vhailor's Helm, hid, and had our clone take down Jonny's Stoneskins with Arrows of Dispelling. Then GWW for damage.

    Sahuagin! With the Ring of Free Action, we are immune to stun, and so the area is a cakewalk.

    Underdark! I accidentally enter the Mind Flayer lair, decide to forget the mistake and go to the Beholder hive, then change my mind. I tweak my install to let Poppy rest in the illithid city, then enter it again.

    Somehow, drinking a Potion of Magic Shielding failed to protect me from a Mind Flayer Maze, which offers a saving throw. I decide to screw everything and do the Beholder hive instead. Call it a low-reload run if you like.

    Attacked the Beholders while hidden. SCS Beholders don't steal your clone's Shield of Balduran, so the clone is nearly invincible. Got the Amulet of Spell Warding. With the right items, we can get our save vs. spell down to -2, just shy of undispellable immunity to psionic Maze. So Mind Flayers are a no go.

    lolienkcwiseJuliusBorisovCrevsDaak
  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,833
    Just finished the Underdark. Left the illithid city well alone. Potions of Magic Shielding are worth more than Control Circlets.

    Greater Deathblow on the illithid fight to rescue Imrae. Decided to test the Ust Natha quest and found that retreating into the treasury chamber doesn't keep the Egg Guards from turning the city hostile.

    Greater Deathblow, however, does. This let me finish the quest safely.

    Greater Deathblow took down the Beholders and Kuo-toa on the way out. Fire Seeds powered by Smite immobilized the drow party guarding the exit, and Greater Deathblow finished many of them off.

    Along the way, we've collected many potions of magic protection, magic shielding, invulnerability, Kuo-toa bolts and other ammunition, and basically every item I can imagine a use for. Poppy is at level 30 with 6.6 million XP. Two Power Attacks, four (Greater) Whirlwind Attacks, Smite, Critical Strike, two (Greater) Deathblows, and three castings of Hardiness. Only 4 HLAs left.

    lolienkcwiseJuliusBorisovCrevsDaak
  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,833
    @Blackraven: Thank you. Good luck on your next run!

    Continuing at Suldanessellar.

    Nizidramanii'yt was underwhelming. I had protection from acid scrolls, but the dragon never even used its acid breath. I just buffed with Hardiness and killed it with darts.

    For the fight with Suneer, I kept both Poppy and clone buffed with Hardiness to keep off the Iron Golem, Glabrezu, and Suneer's Energy Blades. He summoned a Fallen Planetar, but with GWW and FoA, we can quickly cut down the Planetar while preventing it from healing itself. Under certain install options, though, celestials in SCS2 cast spells instantly. When Suneer's Absolute Immunity wore off, we got him with Smite.

    I forgot to equip the Tuigan Bow and Light Crossbow of Speed before spawning a clone for Irenicus. Only had +5 darts, Belm, and FoA. He turned invisible, and my pre-cast True Seeing from the Book of Infinite Spells was dispelled, so I had to flee when he began casting Time Stop. But after TS ended, he had no Absolute Immunity left, so we could hit him with Smite and then GWW. Jon falls.

    I do my normal trick for manipulating the Hell rewards, but alter the balance: only 20 MR, but -6 to saves.

    Poppy lost one DEX and Valygar's armor became unusable, but it did not get unequipped.

    I prepped for the final battle with 3 Armor of Faith spells, an Oil of Speed, two Potions of Magic Protection, and I think one Potion of Absorption. Note that I uninstalled the Tactics remix final battle, as I deemed it unwinnable for Poppy, at least with the tactics I knew.

    This means I fight Balors, Glabrezus, and Jon himself in Slayer form. The Balors have lots of Stoneskins, and the Glabrezus lots of Mirror Images. Not too easy to kill.

    I summoned the clone early. It was consumed by the demons, whom I could not kill without using limited resources (GWW and IH from items). Irenicus attacked me during Time Stop, but his Remove Magic didn't dispel AoF until after TS was over. Poppy survived the attack. She has over 200 max HP, and can weather 3 rounds of instant hits since she had 75% damage resistance at the time.

    Eventually Poppy got hit by a Telekinesis spell and was boxed in at the door at the north end of the area. A Balor was right in front of her; Irenicus and the other demons were stuck behind. They attacked with Unholy Blight, but Poppy made all her saves and was unaffected.

    I deemed my current plan impossible and decided to let myself use the potion swap glitch to cast Simulacrum via a scroll. I collected many such items for just this sort of occasion, though I'd hoped I wouldn't need them. The clone killed a Balor, and we also took down a Fallen Planetar, but then the clone died and I saw I was running out of Hardiness spells, and my Potions of Absorption (all critters in this fight use blunt weapons, and damage-specific AC modifiers bypass the -24 AC cap) had already been drunk and dispelled.

    I chose the nuclear option, my last resort.

    I cast Improved Haste via the Bracers of Blinding Strike, equipping the DoE to stave off death.

    I use the potion swap glitch to cast Limited Wish. I activate Called Shot while waiting to speak to the djinni. I pick the one-time wish to stop time.

    Time Stops begins. Poppy attacks the Slayer with +5 darts, re-casting Called Shot to stack the effects.

    Time Stop ends. All the darts hit Irenicus at once. He dies instantly.

    Success! But I wasn't satisfied using the potion swap glitch, so I replayed the fight, using a new strategy.

    kcwiseJuliusBorisovCrevsDaak
  • semiticgoddesssemiticgoddess Member Posts: 14,833
    Rovala is long dead, but my affection for Archers continues, and so does this thread, for better or worse. This is a minor update.

    I have been playing a party composed entirely of Archers for a while now. Currently they are in the Underdark and have collected two reloads so far, due to some risky decision-making on my part. Usually, they are completely broken and SCS2 enemies have difficulty surviving long. All of them are named after recurring characters in my IE game runs, since I've gotten attached to certain personalities and soundsets.

    First, we have Bloody Howard, our dour frontliner, derived from a cleric I used in IWD2.
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    He specializes in slings, but usually just runs out with the Defender of Easthaven to soak up damage. Unfortunately, his Armor of Faith spells appear to be cast at a lower level than I expected. Even at level 14, he only get 10% resistance per casting.

    Second, we have Snowy Tae, our motherly gnomish Archer. Like Bloody Howard, she has an illegally low Wisdom score, since she began as the Generic Archer fighter kit, which had no Wisdom requirement. I originally made them fighters instead of rangers in the erroneous belief that they could wear metal armor, which would match their portraits.
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    She specializes in darts, and like everyone in the party, she carries a huge stack of +5 darts created from the Cloak of Stars (or, more accurately, CLUAConsole). She enjoys the distinct advantage of being the only gnome in the group, and therefore has illegally low saving throws. It hasn't mattered much, though.

    Third, we have Fobie, a goofy human Archer derived from a halfling thief I used in IWD, way back when.
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    The portrait is something I drew in Paint when I was feeling cheerful. He uses the Light Crossbow of Speed, but has also served an important supporting role by tanking with Lilarcor, keeping disablers away from the rest of the party.

    Fourth, we have Saen, a serious human Archer named after a MadDragon in a DWM game many years ago.
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    She uses Firetooth, and has helped disrupt mage spells early on with its fire damage. For some reason, she also has a pip in maces, I guess because the good weapons were already taken.

    Fifth, we have Rovala, a clone of the original Archer/Thief, but without the misspelled name or the thief levels.
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    She uses Heartseeker, since I forgot to buy Strongarm.

    Finally, we have Poppy, easily the most common name in my IE characters. I just can't resist her smile.
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    She started out with the Tuigan Bow, but later switched to using darts.

    A lot has happened, little of which I remember and even less that I've recorded. A few highlights from their run:

    Bloody Howard exploding a statue as a rat
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    I heavily abused the door in this fight, since I had little faith in my group's ability to survive the two mage statues with their Time Stops and HLAs. I nearly exhausted a Rod of Resurrection bringing back dead party members, including Bloody Howard, who tanked out the last remaining statues in rat form. The statues all have 70% missile and piercing damage resistance, and Archers are not much good against them.

    I tackled this encounter at level 11. Why? Because I wanted to get to level 12 before siding with Bodhi, and the statues gave just enough XP to allow every party member to deal STR drain. This is especially important, because I wanted to nab the Boots of Speed from Renal Bloodscalp, and the only way to get rid of the super-powered version of Arkanis Gath that spawns in is to kill him with stat drain.

    It took 9 seconds to deal enough STR damage to bring him down. This was enough for him to make 3 attacks, which means half my party died, no saving throw.
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    But usually, STR drain was irrelevant.

    The thing about a party composed entirely of Archers is that they have sky-high APR right out of Chateau Irenicus. Aside from the raw damage they can deal, they're also quite excellent at tearing down Stoneskins and disrupting spells. They can can break through two 20th-level Stoneskin spells in a single round.

    Normally, SCS2 mages can block such nonsense with weapon immunities. But since I'm using +5 darts, and also have access to plenty of nonmagical ammunition, my Archers can break through any weapon immunity spell short of Absolute Immunity, which in SCS2 blocks all weapons. And most SCS2 mages use Improved Mantle, or occasionally PFMW, to defend themselves. Only liches and the absolute highest-level mages can survive more than two rounds. With +5 darts, this party doesn't even need Breach. Irenicus in Spellhold was helpless.
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    Had I played fair, however, things might have gone differently. I unequipped my missile weapons before the clones spawned, preventing my clones from attacking me with their best equipment. We likely could have survived the clones if they were properly equipped, but it would distract us from Irenicus and greatly prolong the battle, not to mention cost us a whole bunch of potions and charges from the Rod of Resurrection.

    The problem with this party is that, if it DOESN'T kill a mage in the second round of combat, they're really not equipped to handle mage spells. I lost multiple charges from the Rod of Resurrection trying to survive the fight with the Githyanki on Desharik's ship.
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    And the two times this party died and had to reload were both the result of enemy spellcasters.

    First, we died against Glaicas and company in the sewers, a group we tackled relatively early. I knew it wasn't a great idea, but I was having enough success that I thought I could scrape by.

    Long story short, we spent many seconds trying to break down Glaicas' Stoneskins. And while we were busy with Glaicas, Zorl and Rengaard--both protected by Physical Mirror, and therefore immune to all of our ranged attacks--had lots of time to cast Greater Command. Poppy made her save, and drank a Potion of Invisibility to retreat and resurrect the other party members, but she got caught by a second Greater Command spell shortly thereafter.

    Another time, I let an invisible Kuo-Toa mage survive too long out of our sight. Poppy failed her save against Chaos and got teleported via Teleport Field into a room full of hostile Kuo-Toa, who blocked the entrance, preventing the other Archers from rushing in to rescue her. Snowy Tae healed Poppy three times with the Rod of Resurrection, while the other party members cast Dispel Magic, all at once, in an attempt to dispel the Chaos spell, and later the stun effect from the Kuo-Toa Bolts that they were using against Poppy.

    All the Dispel Magic spells failed. Then Snowy Tae, the only person with a Rod of Resurrection, and the only person in a position to use it on Poppy, got stunned by a Kuo-Toa Bolt. We managed to cast one more Dispel Magic, which also failed, before Poppy was slain.

    This means that a party of Archers, armed with +5 darts, can take down almost anything in SCS2, even the game-ending Arkanis Gath. But if the enemy has Physical Mirror, or Absolute Immunity, or PFMW combined with an innate immunity to nonmagical weapons, then the Archers are essentially helpless, as they have no reliable means of removing weapon immunities, nor do they have the saves or the spell protections or the immunities they need to stand up to enemy magic.

    I reloaded the battle and this time made sure Bloody Howard, who has the Ring of Free Action and Shield of Harmony and therefore cannot be stunned or confused or charmed, was the only one the Kuo-toa targeted. I sent him in alone, but he got enfeebled, so I had to switch him to rat form to bring his Strength back up. The Kuo-Toa still had a plan, however.
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    Bloody Howard doesn't have the saves to survive an instant death effect, so he spent the next few rounds running around in circles, trying to wait out the Slay Living spell. But it was hopeless.

    I had neglected to unequip the Sling of Everard and Defender of Easthaven before switching to rat form. This meant Bloody Howard could not equip the Defender of Easthaven in his off hand, and therefore was stuck at the rat's innate 90% physical damage resistance... which is not quite sufficient to keep a character alive under constant pressure from Kuo-Toa Bolts, even with lots of potions on hand.
    image

    I then softened up the enemy with an Efreeti and its Fireball spells before sending in Snowy Tae and her clone, lingering at the doorway to form a choke point. Snowy Tae got surprised by the Kuo-Toa Prince, who snuck through while invisible and backstabbed her half to death. The whole party activated Called Shot and switched to darts, and the prince fell to STR drain.
    image

    We still had no Ring of Free Action, as it was still on Bloody Howard's body, but Snowy Tae and her clone were able to make their saves against the Kuo-Toa bolts simply by drinking a Potion of Stone Form.

    So. Archers are really excellent at slaying mages, and if they use STR drain, they can also bring down enemies with stupendous HP, regeneration, or resistances much earlier than would otherwise be possible. Their damage doesn't compare with that of a Kensai, but they do have better range and therefore are better at chasing down SCS2 enemies, who run around and use Teleport Field a lot more than vanilla critters.

    But, without a mage for debuffing, a party of Archers in SCS2 cannot safely handle enemy mages unless it targets them immediately. And it has very few options indeed against enemy clerics.

    JuliusBorisovBlackravenkcwiselolien
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