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Clash on the Big Beige

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Everything posted by Clash on the Big Beige

  1. Yes, that +10% to crit chance from longbows applies to all attacks. Even spells! Very silly, and easily corrected, but still it persists this way across numerous games...
  2. Clash on the Big Beige

    Does Critical hit chance have a cap?

    That is correct. The javelin ability doesn't actually use critical hit mechanics at all.
  3. Clash on the Big Beige

    E3: Dealing with evidence

    IMO, neither Erika nor the Dragons made very convincing possibilities anyway.
  4. Clash on the Big Beige

    Let's Play Blades of Avernum!

    O, memories.
  5. Hah, yeah, I forgot about those equipment penalties, heh. There was indeed a fairly small base value.
  6. This is good advice and clearly written -- I'm sure a lot of players will find it useful, Nobear. I largely agree about Endurance. Randomizer and I have been having this argument for what must be a decade now. You put the dilemma well: Endurance makes a very piddly difference to your survival by the second half of the game, yet the early game is when it's most important to get your primary attack stat as high as possible. Eventually you get to the point where you max the hit cap and have a high base amount of damage dice -- and then it doesn't matter so much, as neither placement option is game-changing. Things were different in Geneforge and the Second Trilogy, where EVERYTHING ELSE in the HP formula was multiplied by your Endurance. (Or something like that, it's been a while.) Now that it's a flat +5, the impact is much, much, much smaller. Randomizer, you always pull out this same line about "you start needing just a few extra health to avoid dying in one round by just those few points". That is hogwash. The "you start" part is especially hogwash -- as not only do manually placed points of Endurance have less effect on your HP, proportionately, as you gain levels and other bonuses -- but your armor and resistances also ramp up fairly rapidly. But the other problem is that, since your HP is a finite number and above-your-level enemies on Torment deal huge damage early on, not even putting 2/3 of your points into Endurance will cause the scenario you describe to stop happening! In an encounter where you are literally less than 5 HP away from surviving, there is always something else you can do to deal with things -- alter your tactics, your character placement, use summons, etc. Or, for that matter, wait for a single level up, which after all automatically comes with 5 HP, and come back. Whereas having a 5% lower chance to hit (and a die less of damage) handicaps your performance with greater frequency.
  7. Clash on the Big Beige

    Level 3 move mountains

    You need to talk to Mazumdar, one of the wizards in the lab in the southeast.
  8. Then I invite you to do so. You're right that, technically, those factors were not ruled out given how that test was conducted. But there is zero evidence suggesting they need to be ruled out. In particular, I note that after eight and a half years of this series existing, you are the only person I am aware of who has claimed to observe enemy targeting based on party order. Don't you think it's very unlikely that this would seem so obvious to you, yet nobody else would ever notice it happening? Without rigorous empirical testing, the more plausible explanation for what you observed is this one. You are talking about an outdoor encounter. Party order correlates 100% with initial placement in outdoor encounters. You also note that the ice worm acts first. What seems likely to me is that, given the initial placement, the first two characters are the ones closest to it, and some other factor makes it prefer your second character over your first character as a target. (Or maybe the second is actually always closest? I don't remember the range of possible starting locations for the ice worm, but if it is just a square right of the middle, the second PC would indeed always be the closest character to it.)
  9. According to this post http://spiderwebforums.ipbhost.com/topic/24070-lets-all-play-avernum-3/?tab=comments#comment-300921 Challenger does work, and based on the description, it seems pretty hard to argue with. And you'd have to rule out an awful lot of other explanations for the way the AI targets. Character proximity, HP, armor/resistance... things which all correlate with party order, and which the game might well check for. It wouldn't make any sense for targeting to be "based largely" on party order. As a tiebreaker, maybe.
  10. Clash on the Big Beige

    A3: RW - How not to Suck Playing (SPOILERS)

    Capture Soul is very much player level dependent. This is from A2:CS, but the mechanics are presumably identical or similar (though the enemies available and their levels may be different). http://spiderwebforums.ipbhost.com/topic/21086-capture-soul-mechanics/
  11. Clash on the Big Beige

    ANALYSIS: Min-Maxing A:EFTP

    Yeah, I guess "elemental damage" is not the clearest term to use, that's fair. But no, it does not affect Move Mountains, because of the definitions I listed above. The tooltip for that trait though very clearly says "elemental damage". Even if "elemental" isn't the clearest word, "damage" certainly is. I'm not saying Spiderweb tooltips are never wrong but in this case there's really nothing to suggest a boost to buffs or debuffs, is there?
  12. You can now find the latest version of this analysis here: http://www.gamefaqs.com/mac/641825-avernum-escape-from-the-pit/faqs/64127 This way, I only have to update it in one place. This began as a humble little post, but it has swelled and become so enormous, so now I must now call it BRIDE OF SLARTANALYSIS: MIN-MAXING AEFTP S E C T I O N S: 1) Basic Principles 2) Survivability, Damage Output, & Combat Utilities 3) Access Skills (Locks & Lore) 4) Efficient Use of Money — Trainable Skills & Spells 5) Skills 6) Traits 7) Sample Parties §1. BASIC PRINCIPLES 1) Front-Load Your Assault. Being able to do a lot in the first round of battle is much more useful than in later rounds. Taking out lots of enemies quickly will reduce your incoming damage by a lot. You can also use the first round to cast buffs and debuffs before your actions are taken up with healing and curing. Thus, abilities that are efficient in terms of resource use (physical attacks, Bolt of Fire, Minor Heal), or that provide a big bonus over time (Battle Frenzy, Quick Action), are actually LESS useful than abilities that allow you to do a lot at once (Adrenaline Rush, AoE spells, Mass Healing). 2) Shields Up in Front. Everyone needs survivability, but the PCs in front need it most. There are some battles where a single PC will take the most or all of the attack; this is often true in crowded spaces or when there are very few enemies. There are some battles where two PCs can position themselves to take most of the physical attacks, although in these cases one can often collect the brunt of the attacks. And there are some battles where enemies are all over the place, walls are few, or breath attacks are common, and everyone is going to be getting hit. As a result, strong defense is important for everyone, but Parry (and high armor) is most useful for the PCs in front. You need at least one tough guy in front. A second one can be useful, but is sometimes irrelevant. 3) Choose the Best Attacks. Everyone needs a good attack to contribute to the slaughter of the enemy. However, what's important is the damage done by the team as a whole. This means a few things. One, it may be more effective to focus on boosting one or several PC's attacks, give them the items that best boost damage output, and let your other PCs pick up the slack in party skills and the like. Two, due to the Cloak spells, it is helpful to have most of your attackers use the same type of attack. Cloak of the Arcane is the most powerful due to AoE spell strength, so having at least two and maybe even three spellcasters is a good thing. Three, while you can make 4 mages and not run out of spells, you run out of the best weapons very quickly. Specifically, there are 2 hand weapons that are in a league of their own compared to the other options, so even having 2 warriors means that 1 will eventually be seriously outdamaging the other. 4) Don't Choose the Worst Attacks. Archery is usable, but it's just not as good as melee combat or magic in this game. Without Divinely Touched, and with the 4-stat system, it's not something mages and warriors can be good at "on the side," so it will be summarily ignored by this entire guide. Likewise, pole weapons and shields are usable, but they do dramatically less damage than dual-wielded swords -- double swords will do about 60% more damage initially, and that number actually goes UP as your level rises. 5) No Minors in Attacking. As stated above, the 4-stat system means you can't have secondary attacks; they will be useless. Everyone has to pick melee or magic and stick with it. However, a few abilities do not benefit from the 4 stats: this includes Adrenaline Rush and healing spells, so these are possible minors. 6) You Can't Always Get What You Want. Money is limited and you can't train everything. First priority goes to the most important spells. (Training higher level spells is EXPENSIVE, so this may be one argument for having 2 spellcasters instead of 3.) Second priority goes to skills. The most important skills to train are those that are either the cheapest (since a skill point is a skill point), or those that you want to raise above their cap and thus must be trained. Third priority goes to more expensive and less critical skills. The less important spells are just not ever worth spending money on. Finally, there are a tiny, tiny handful of items that are worth spending money on. 7) Pick Traits Economically. Some traits are a huge boon, others are equivalent to stat or skill points, and others are even worse. Pick the traits that have the largest overall benefit for the party. This might seem obvious, but some of the choices are not what you'd expect. 8) Pick Equipment Economically. Weigh the pros and the cons: sometimes that piece of armor is just not worth the -5% penalty to hit. Other times, an item that saves you a necessary skill point might be better than something offering a bit more protection. To sum up, here's what we definitely want in each character: - Survivability (more, for the first 1 or 2 PCs) - Damage Output (either dual-melee, mage spells, or priest spells) - Adrenaline Rush (Bladeshield for front PCs) And for the party overall: - 1 or 2 dual-melee fighters - 2 or 3 spellcasters (at least 1 mage, at least 1 priest) - Adequate lore skills (Arcane Lore, Cave Lore, Tool Use), at least eventually §2. SURVIVABILITY, DAMAGE OUTPUT & COMBAT UTILITY SURVIVABILITY There are a few factors to consider here: 1) HP. You get 20 HP, +5 HP per level and per point of Endurance. This means that at the start of the game, adding Endurance will increase your ability to survive quite a bit, but at the end of the game the impact is smaller. If you put none of the assignable stat points into Endurance and take no HP traits, you'll have 220 HP at level 30. If you put, say, 6 points into Endurance and take all 3 HP traits, you'll have 280 HP at level 30. This means that Endurance increases your endgame survivability against all damage types by about 2 to 2.5% per point. That's actually not bad; it's almost as good as Hardiness. There's a point beyond which healing becomes hard and then Endurance is less productive, but a handful of increases are not a bad idea. 2) Hardiness. +3% to all damage resistances (including armor) per point. Awesome! 3) Resistance. +3% to all non-armor resistances, plus mental and curse resistance, per point. Also awesome! 4) Luck. +1% to ALL resistances per point. OK. 5) Parry. +3% chance to parry physical attacks per point. Great for someone expecting to be hit a lot. Note that unlike in previous games, Riposte does not block damage. 6) Evasion. Evasion is not effective against bosses even on regular difficulty, and it is bad in general on higher difficulties. Not recommended. 7) Traits. There are various traits here, including the HP bonus traits and Parry Mastery. 8) Armor. Luckily, there is plenty of great armor to be found, and there is enough great armor without penalties to hit that your mages don't need to worry either. 9) Mental Resistance deserves a word of its own. Spellcasters will max it out just by raising their Intelligence. For fighters, this is worth increasing. You'll mostly need to do this through items. 10) Most buffs are obvious, but Bladeshield blocks 30% of everything and deserves special mention for those in the line of fire. DAMAGE OUTPUT -- WEAPONS Useful sources: 1) Strength. +1 damage die and +5% to hit per point. Critical! 2) Melee Weapons. +1 damage die and +1% to hit. Good, but pumping this to insane heights is not necessary. 3) Blademaster. +3% damage and +1% to hit. Very, very good! 4) Dual Wielding. +2% damage and +2% to hit. Also good, but requires Quick Action, which is a waste. 5) Lethal Blow. +3% chance of a critical hit; given percentage bonuses from Blademaster and the like, this is the equivalent of +2% damage. Good, but also requires Quick Action. 6) Equipment. Of note are two weapons that dramatically increase the amount of damage you can deal. Second best is the Spectral Falchion, which gives you +8 Blademaster. That's an extra 24% damage to BOTH weapon strikes! Best is the Flaming Sword. We are back to Exile style flaming weapons. The Flaming Sword gives you bonus fire damage for every damage die you attack with. What is spectacular about it is that it gives you bonus damage from BOTH swords, not just the one. Although the damage is low, most enemies have more armor than fire resistance, so the bonus is pretty spectacular. And the bonus damage is also affected by critical hits, by Blademaster, etc. 7) Traits. At +3% each these are mostly good deals. 8) Buffs. DAMAGE OUTPUT -- SPELLS Useful sources: 1) Intelligence. +1 damage die and +5% to hit. Critical! 2) Mage/Priest Spells. +1 damage die (and +1% to hit?). Necessary, but again, pumping this beyond 17 is not necessary. Priests might stop at 16 if they find the Vengeful Shade to be as disappointing as I did. 3) Spellcraft. +2% damage. Good. Also leads to Resistance. 4) Lethal Blow. +3% chance of a critical hit; given percentage bonuses from Spellcraft and the like, this is the equivalent of +2% damage. Good, but requires multiple other skills spellcasters don't care about. 5) Equipment. There are a decent chunk of items that give a bonus to magical damage, but they can almost all fit on one person. 6) Elemental Mastery Traits. +3% each, pretty good deal. 7) Buffs. Finally, note that mage spells are a bit better than priest spells for damage. Although you often have to move to target cone spells optimally, they can get the most enemies in their AoE. There are definitely times the round area spells are superior, but mages still get Icy Rain for that. Priests only have one cheap AoE spell, Call Storm, and while its knockback effect can be really useful, it can also be really annoying, especially if the person casting it is not acting last. For these reasons, I recommend 2 mages and 1 priest over 2 priests and 1 mage, if you go with 3 spellcasters. MINOR SPELL USE Priest Spells offers a few casts that are good without any investment in Intelligence or Spellcraft, or heavy investment in Priest Spells. Minor Healing (at 1), Unshackle Mind (at 6), and Mass Healing (at 8) are most relevant. ADRENALINE RUSH How to get to 15 in weapons skills? 1) Items. A spellcaster can use the Discipline Blade for +5. Someone can use the Warrior's Cloak for +2. And someone can use the First Expection Bow for +3. These are all readily available in the early midgame. There is another item that gives +1, but it is not likely to be available until very late.) With these items, you only need natural weapon skill totals of 10, 12, 13, and 15. 2) Trainers. Some of the skills are among the cheaper things to train. 3) Use skill points. This is obvious for fighters. For spellcasters it's also a reasonable option since Hardiness is an excellent skill for all PCs. §3. ACCESS SKILLS — LOCKS & LORE Tool Use -- You get +2 from items. Getting Tool Use all the way up to 11 is absolutely worth it -- there's a huge trove of item bonuses, level 3 spells, and sellable loot at each step, and you actually need 8 to complete one of the game-winning quests properly. Beyond that is only an escape from Athron at 13 and some loot in Hawthorne's quarters at 14. So we need 9 points between skills and traits. Cave Lore -- Ignore completely. You get +2 free from in-game bonuses. However, there is nothing really great in caches, unless you really want the Ten Blessings Band or First Expedition Ring. I don't. Cave Lore is one of the cheapest skills to train, but you won't even make back the money you spent on training. You can get a few wisdom crystals and invulnerability potions, but they really aren't worth all the money that could go into trainers or spell purchases. The bonus to poison and acid resistance is not even good, since those effects are dramatically less dangerous in this game than in previous SW games. If you intend to grind out alchemy components to create infinite wisdom crystals (at an incredibly slow pace), you'll want 10 Cave Lore. For a singleton, this is *almost* a credible strategy. For a full party, it's a colossal waste of time. Arcane Lore -- The level 3 spells are worth it, as well as the savings from spells you only need at level 1 or 2 and therefore can avoid buying. But there are a few considerations. 12 lore will get you everything. However, 11 lore is only needed for the Grah-Hoth and Surface Exit quest rewards, and 12 lore is only needed for the Hawthorne quest reward. This means that whatever order you choose, you can only have those bonuses for 2, 1, and 0 of the three big quests, which are generally attempted AFTER everything else. Not very useful. 10 lore, on the other hand, gets you Fireblast, Ward of Elements, and Domination, which all have terrific upgrades. There are a few ways to approach this one: * 3 Sage Lore + Drath's Knowledge * 3 Sage Lore + 1 Arcane Lore * 8 Arcane Lore + 1 Sage Lore * 9 Arcane Lore + Drath's Knowledge * 10 Arcane Lore Between the first two options, the second one uses up 800 gold or a skill point, but can get you one of several rewards -- one is 1000 gold plus expensive armor, so giving away Drath's book is plausible. 4 Arcane Lore can be trained for 3200 gold. The high AL options are only worth it if you are going for the Stagnant Tunnels spellbooks, which give you all trainable levels (to level 2) of 14 spells for free. Many of these spells are not worth training, but some are. I estimate the value of the spellbooks as follows: 2040 gold for one-caster spells (Haste, War Blessing, Protection bonus effects) 1080 gold per career mage (Icy Rain immobilization effect) 1320 gold per career priest (Minor Heal regeneration effect, Call Storm bonus damage) _240 gold per minor priest (Minor Heal regeneration effect) For a typical party this will be around 4500-5800 gold. So, there is a trade-off: you can either save 1300-2600 gold and have 3 more trait slots available, or you can have 5 more skill points available. Both of these methods involve a slight delay in getting higher level spells: with Sage Lore you have to wait until level 12 to read any spellbooks, whereas if you are training Arcane Lore, you have to wait until you reach Erika to read some of the better spellbooks. Level 12 usually happens much sooner, so I prefer the Sage Lore method. However, if you have lots of spellcasters, the Arcane Lore method might also work well. (Some of the traits are amazing, but there are not 16 amazing traits for any one character, as we shall see.) §4. EFFICIENT USE OF MONEY — TRAINABLE SKILLS & SPELLS MONEY How much money do you get to play with? I didn't take notes when I played, but I did some grep fu with Randomizer's game atlas, followed by some excel fu, and came up with the following approximations. 60,000 cash available directly a lot of this is quest rewards, some are late, some is the castle treasury, etc. so let's reduce this to 50,000 480,000 gold worth of saleable goods (likely an underestimate) 96,000 gold for selling these items individually at the regular 20% rate 134,000 gold for selling these items individually at the 28% rate with 4 Negotiator a decent chunk of these, cashwise, are the "most powerful items" which you are unlikely to sell. on the other hand, this does not include ANY random drops, some of which are significant -- you can get a lot of valuable spears from the hundreds of sliths you fight, for example. but we'll play conservative, so let's say you get 2/3 of this number. that's 64,000 gold for selling items regularly, or 89,000 gold for selling them with 4 Negotiator That means each Negotiator trait should be worth in the realm of 6000-7000 gold, AT LEAST, over the course of the game. This also gives us a ballpark budget of around 115,000 gold regularly, or 140,000 with Negotiator. SKILLS Here's a list of all the skills at their lowest trainable price: _800 Arcane Lore (Erika) _900 Cave Lore (Vermeers) _960 Bows (Hrror) * _960 Thrown Weapons (Skatha / Hrror) * _960 Sharpshooter (Hrror) _960 Gymnastics (Eleanor / Hrror) _960 Magical Efficiency (Erika) 1100 First Aid (Etheridge) 1120 Hardiness (Hrror) ** 1120 Resistance (Skatha) ** 1200 Parry (Hrror) ** 1200 Quick Action (Eleanor / Hrror) 1280 Melee Weapons (Hrror) * 1280 Pole Weapons (Skatha / Hrror) * 1280 Mage Spells (X) * 1320 Riposte (Etheridge) 1440 Blademaster (Hrror) * 1600 Spellcraft (X / Erika) * 1600 Lethal Blow (X) * 1980 Dual Wielding (Etheridge) 1980 Sniper (Etheridge) 2200 Tool Use (Etheridge) Not trainable: Priest Spells, Luck I've put a single asterisk by the skills that are a good value for the first point. These are skills that we don't care about maxing out, but we can use a cheap point in. The weapon skills all help reach Adrenaline Rush. Mage Spells we are happy to have a point in, but don't have a cap to get past so don't need to pay double for a second point. Blademaster, Spellcraft, and Lethal Blow are all worth second points if there is money for them -- and there may be eventually. But they can start out with one. Hardiness and Resistance are probably worth the second point for everyone and Parry is definitely worth the second point for folks up front. Dual Wielding and Tool Use are just too expensive to be practical, although you could make them work if you wanted to. SPELLS Now let's look at spells: _240 2nd level of Bolt of Fire (Mairwen) (level up: bonus damage, 30% cleave) _360 2nd level of Call Beast (Mairwen) (level up: buffs) _360 Slow (Mairwen) (level up: ???) _360 Icy Rain (Mairwen) (level up: bonus damage, 40% immobilization) ** _480 2nd level of Cloak of Curses (Mairwen) (level up: ???) _480 2nd level of Daze (Mairwen) (level up: ensnare, stun) _480 Haste (Mairwen) (level up: bonus duration, 30% battle frenzy!!) ** _640 Spray Acid (Evysss / Ambrin / Miles) (level up: 30% cleave, lightning effect) _720 Cloak of Bolts (Evysss / Ambrin) (level up: bonus damage) _800 Minor Summon (Evysss / Ambrin) (level up: buffs) _800 Lightning Spray (Evysss / Ambrin) (level up: bonus damage, 40% weakness curse) _960 Blink (Evysss / Ambrin) (level up: war curse, daze) 1120 Cloak of Blades (Evysss) (level up: bonus damage) ** 1120 Summon Aid (Evysss / Erika) (level up: buffs) 1400 Arcane Summon (Solberg) (level up: buffs) 1500 Cloak of the Arcane (Solberg) (level up: bonus damage) ** 1600 Arcane Blow (Solberg) (level up: 100% war curse, bonus damage?) * 1600 Howl of Terror (Evysss / Erika) (level up: war curse, ?) 1920 Fireblast (Evysss / Erika) (level up: bonus damage, bonus damage!!) ** 4000 2nd level of Dispel Barrier (Mairwen) * _240 2nd level of Minor Heal (Toddric) (level up: bonus healing, 100% regeneration) * _360 2nd level of Curing (Toddric) (level up: cure multiple afflictions) _360 War Blessing (Toddric) (level up: bonus duration, 50% spine shield) * _360 Call Storm (Toddric) (level up: nothing, bonus damage) ** _360 Summon Shade (Toddric) (level up: buffs) _480 2nd level of Smite (Toddric) (level up: bonus damage, 30% war curse) _480 2nd level of Protection (Toddric) (level up: bonus duration, 50% regeneration) * _720 Unshackle Mind (Evysss / Throndell) (level up: cure multiple afflictions) * _720 Ward of Thoughts (Claudette) (level up: stronger) * _800 Heal (Evysss / Throndell) (level up: bonus healing, 100% regeneration) _800 Mass Healing (Evysss / Throndell) (level up: bonus healing, 50% regeneration) ** _960 Mass Curing (Evysss / Throndell) (level up: cure multiple afflictions) 1120 Ward of Steel (Evysss) (level up: stronger) ** 1120 Domination (Evysss / Erika) (level up: more consistently effective) 1600 Divine Fire (Evysss) (level up: bonus damage, bonus damage!!) ** 1600 Ward of Elements (Evysss / Erika) (level up: stronger) ** 1920 Return Life (Evysss / Erika / Healing Monastery) (level up: ???) 2240 Divine Retribution (Erika) (level up: slow, ?) ** 2400 Divine Restoration (Erika) (level up: bonus healing, ?) * 2560 Divine Host (Erika) (level up: buffs) Again, asterisks indicate the number of levels that are worth buying. No asterisks doesn't mean a spell is useless, just that 1 level from a spellbook should be sufficient. Most spells that you need, but you only need at level 1, have easily accessible spellbooks. The exception is Unshackle Mind, which is important, relatively cheap to buy, and relatively hard to access in spellbook format -- you need to reach Khoth. Dispel Barrier is expensive. You need it, but it is definitely worth visiting the Aranea web for that first point, even if you need to wait to do it -- that's 2000 gold you save. Cost of spells I suggested: 23120 for spells you only need cast by 1 person _8440 per career mage 17640 per career priest _3360 per minor priest So, that's about 50,000 gold for a relatively picky selection of spell purchases, or possibly more with 3+ casters. That leaves about 65,000 gold in our imaginary purse, or 90,000 with 4 Negotiator. To simplify things for skill purchases, that's about 16,000 per PC, or 22,000 with 4 Negotiator. A singleton can probably get by without Negotiator -- she'll still have more to sell, since only the top pick for each equipment slot need be kept. Overall, a singleton should have plenty of money to train every skill twice and purchase whatever spells she desires. ITEMS Pretty much all the best equipment is found, not bought. In fact, it's hard to buy equipment upgrades that will last very long at all before being superseded by something you didn't have to pay for. I have only been able to identify a few exceptions: Tinker's Bauble (+1 Tool Use) from Shaynee for ??? Reflective Pants (+10% Curse resistance) from 2 different merchants -- near Formello and in the Tower of Magi, IIRC The Bauble is obvious; it's the cheapest effective skill point of them all. The Pants are less clear, as there are various greaves that provide better armor and other bonuses. However, they all come with to-hit penalties, their other bonuses are mostly not useful, and curse resistance is both useful and rare. You can buy 1 or 2 pairs of reflective pants early, stick 'em on your rear spellcasters, and they can last for all or almost all of the game. DON'T buy Wisdom Crystals (or ingredients like Mandrake to make more). A few hundred gold for under 200 XP might sound like a bargain, but remember, it's under 200 XP for a single character. If that were actually a fifth of a skill point, that might work out. It's not. Since skill points and even stat points become scarce after level 30, it's really less than 1/25 of a skill point, plus 1 HP and 1 SP, for a single character. You're better off spending your money on trainers. §5. SKILLS Here's a quick recap of skills that we identified as useful in sections 2 and 3: * Melee Weapons (10+1) Boosts melee damage (+1 die) and to-hit (+1%) somewhat, counts towards Adrenaline Rush and Bladeshield, and unlocks a plethora of great skills. Swords are head and shoulders above all other weapons, so this is the basic weapon skill to specialize in -- and since everyone wants Adrenaline Rush, everyone wants this. * Pole Weapons (+1), Bows (+1), Thrown Weapons (+1) These skills are really only useful for getting to Adrenaline Rush. But the first level makes a pretty cheap skill point buy at a trainer. * Hardiness (10+2) Acts like a single extra piece of armor that gives 3% protection, per point, against all damage types. That means it reduces ALL DAMAGE by 36% at level 12. It doesn't get better than that! Recommended for everyone. * Parry (10+2 for warriors) 3% chance per point of blocking a melee attack outright. Not as good as Hardiness, but still good for anyone who will be taking lots of melee hits. * Blademaster (10+1 or +2 for warriors) Each point adds 3% to your melee damage multiplier and 1% to-hit. This is the best skill for increasing your damage dealt. It does NOT increase fatigue recovery, despite what the tooltip says. * Lethal Blow (OK for warriors) Each point adds 3% to your critical hit chance. A critical hit multiplies your damage by 150%, but this is AFTER the regular damage multiplier is applied. This means that each point of Lethal Blow ALWAYS increases your average damage by 1.5%, whereas the actual impact of Blademaster and Dual Wielding eventually drops: if your damage bonus is already 150%, adding another 3% is effectively adding 2%; and adding 2% for Dual Wielding skill is effectively adding less than 1.5%. With the right items, skills, and buffs, it is easier than you think to reach 150% even for dual-wielders with their -20% penalty. For this reason, Lethal Blow is actually better than Dual Wielding. * Dual Wielding (OK for warriors) If you are dual wielding (which you should be) each point adds 2% to your multiplier and 2% to-hit. Not as good as Blademaster or Lethal Blow. * Mage Spells (17), Priest Spells (6-16) Necessary skills for spellcasters; possible place to put "extra" skill points. * Spellcraft (10+2) Boosts magic damage (+2%). Not as good as Blademaster, but when you consider how many targets an AoE spell can hit at once, this is very, very good. * Resistance (10+2) Acts like a single extra piece of armor that gives 3% protection, per point, against all magical damage and effects. That means it reduces a lot of damage by 36% at level 12. Almost as good as Hardiness! Recommended for everyone you has easy access to it. * Tool Use (up to 9 total), Arcane Lore (maybe) Necessary party skills -- maybe -- see previous section. ---------------- At this point let's take a second to compare pumping Melee Weapons versus spreading points among Quick Action (mostly a waste), Lethal Blow and Dual Wielding. I'll start by assuming you drop 8 points in Melee Weapons, and 10 each in Hardiness, Parry, and Blademaster. That leaves 27 more skill points by the time you hit level 30. All of these calculations are per hand and ignore additional effects that scale exactly with average damage, like base critical hit chance, flaming sword bonus damage, etc. Base Levels of Damage: 75 (1 base + 15 level + 40 strength + 10 skill + 9 weapon) Base Damage Modifier: +70% for 150% (40% Blademaster (w/weapon) + 14% traits + 16% items) Average Damage with d4: 75 * 2.5 * 1.5 = 281.25 +23 to Melee; +2 trained to QA, +2/+2 to DW and Lethal Blow: Levels: 97 Damage: 158% Extra Crits: 12% for 6% extra damage on average Average: 97 * 2.5 * 1.58 * 1.06 = 406.137 +0 to Melee; +8/+2 to QA, +9/+2 to DW, +10/+2 to LB Levels: 75 Damage: 172% Extra Crits: 36% for 18% extra damage on average Average: 75 * 2.5 * 1.72 * 1.18 = 380.55 As you can see the results are pretty close. Putting points directly in melee will give you about 7% more damage -- that means actually 7% more damage, not +7% to the damage multiplier. Additionally, you won't have to spend any money on training the other 3 weapon skills, or use weapon skill items for this character to get AR and BS. The higher-tier option gets two benefits from QA. First is initiative, although 2 QA seems to be sufficient to go first in most fights. (I'm not sure if this is difficulty-dependent; any comments on that?) Second is fatigue removal: that option gets an extra 30% chance of a point each turn. In extremely long fights, that will increase the frequency you get AR off from about 1 in 6 turns to about 1 in 5 turns. With Haste and without +2 AP items this increases your average number of attacks by about 5%. With +2 AP items it's much less useful. Still, that 5% increase in number of attacks will only show up in fights that are relatively long, so it does not compare well to the flat 7% damage increase. Another option would be to invest all 27 points in something else; for example, 8 Priest Spells, 8+2 Spellcraft and 10+2 Resistance. This will make your fighter take 36% less damage from magical attacks, improve mental and curse resistance, and allow her to cast Mass Healing and Unshackle Mind with fairly good efficacy. The trade-off is about 29% in damage. This is a great option for a tank, less so for someone you want to deal a lot of physical damage. What about extra spell skill? Base Levels of Damage: 80 or 81 (1 base + 15 level + 45 intelligence + 17 skill + 2 or 3 spell) Base Damage Modifier: +50% for 150% (24% spellcraft + 15% traits + 11% items) Average Damage with Arcane Blow: (20 + 80 * 3.5) * 1.7 = 510 Average Damage with Fireblast: (25 + 81 * 3) * 1.9 = 509.2 +23 to Mage Spells Levels: 103 or 104 Damage: 150% Average Damage with Arcane Blow: (20 + 103 * 3.5) * 1.7 = 646.85 Average Damage with Fireblast: (25 + 104 * 3) * 1.9 = 640.3 You get about a 27% damage increase with the extra Mage Spells skill. Other options for those skill points would include using 18 to get to 12 Hardiness, to take 36% less damage from everything; and using 8 to pick up Unshackle Mind and Mass Healing. The other options look pretty good, in this case. ---------------- The skills listed above should be enough to keep everyone busy for most or all of the game. If you really end up with more skill points to spend somehow, Luck is the next best skill to invest in. Extra Priest Spells users never hurts, either. The following skills are pretty much never worth investing in: * Riposte (doesn't block any damage, and the extra damage dealt is unpredictable, untargettable, and not that large) * Sharpshooter, Sniper (archery is inferior, and sniper is terrible) * Gymnastics (a huge investment is required for a bonus that is inconsistent, better achievable in other ways, and not actually as important as it looks anyway) * Magical Efficiency, First Aid (SP is plentiful in this game, you can almost always use towns to restore SP, and the few times you can't, you'll find an adequate supply of energy potions for; SP converts to HP very cheaply) * Cave Lore (unless you plan to do the golden girls grind) Relevant points for "need at least this much" type skills from realistically usable items: - Discipline Blade: 5 weapons skills - First Expedition Bow: 3 weapons skills - Warrior Cloak: 2 weapons skills - Tribal Symbol: 1 Mage Spells §6. TRAITS BEST VALUES * Negotiator (needs level 8) Although the actual bonus to your income will a bit under 10%, this still should provide you with enough money, over the course of the game, to purchase numerous extra levels of skills and spells. Don't sell anything until level 8 if you can help it, then take 4 of this trait at once. * Sage Lore (needs level 12) Counts as 3 points of Arcane Lore for most purposes. Another incredible value, unless you are shooting for the Stagnant Tunnels spellbooks. * Elemental Focus (x5) Like Blademaster for spellcasters. Better than Spellcraft as far as damage spells are concerned! * Improved Intelligence (x5) Boosts your to-hit and your damage. Hooray, AoE spells! * Good Health * Robust Health (needs level 10) * Perfect Health (needs level 20) Increases the amount of damage you can take by 5%, 4%, and 3% respectively. A terrific defensive investment. * Parry Mastery (x2) (needs level 8) Like extra Parry. Good for lead characters. *Ambidextrous (needs level 5) *Dual Blade Mastery (needs level 15?) The first one has slightly better bonuses than either Blademaster or Dual Wielding give you, and is available early, when the to-hit bonus is very welcome. The second one is not as good, but still a reasonable trait. * Mighty Blows (x3) Almost like extra Blademaster. * Improved Strength (x5) Boosts your to-hit and your damage. Especially good early, when both are low. * Improved Endurance (x5) Boosts your HP by 5. The increase in how much damage you can take can range, realistically, from 14% (at level 1) to 2% or lower (at level 30). So this is useful, but you may have better trait choices. * Nimble Fingers (x2) Increases your Tool Use. Effectively frees up a skill point to put in something else, so quite useful. COULD BE USEFUL AT LEAST IN THEORY * Backstab (x3) If there were more levels available this might be interesting; as it is, I find that the work of positioning myself for a backstab usually isn't worth the potential 15% damage bonus. Still, this will be useful against high-survivability bosses if you have 2 warriors. I'd say it's a judgement call whether to take this trait or something more generally useful. * Good Fortune (needs level 8) * Great Fortune (needs level 16) Increases your Luck, providing 1% resistance to all forms of attacks. Not bad, but worse than the other protective skills. * Recovery (needs level 5) This is like 2 points of Quick Action, except that it doesn't boost your initiative. A nice bonus for protracted battles, but not a priority at all. * Blessing Focus (x5) This will increase the duration of your positive status effects. I'm not sure if it affects negative status effects. Enough of this will essentially give you a free turn later in long battles since you won't have to reapply buffs as often. So, this is similar to Recovery. Too bad it takes so many trait slots. Better for priests. JUST PLAIN INFERIOR * Energy Blessing * Energy Boon (needs level 15) * Unending Mana (needs level 22) Increases your total SP by 5%, 4%, and 3% respectively. The latter two are less effective than a point of Magical Efficiency. Running out of SP is not really a problem, so these skills are not useful. * Swordmage (x4) (needs level 6) Needed if you want to use heavily encumbering armor on your mage. Too bad there isn't really a good reason to do that in the first place. You can wear -5% without this skill, and special hit chance bonuses from equipment counteracts the penalty, so a +5% bow (of which there are many) will allow you to wear a base of -10%. The negative hit chance greaves, gauntlets, boots, and helmets aren't terribly useful for a rear position mage anyway, and there is even one chest armor that provides 34% protection without encumberance (Runed Plate). There are some terrific shields without any hit penalty. -10% is enough for the Mercuric Leather + Quicksilver Bulwark, or the Mercuric Chain + Quicksilver Sandals. So you can even outfit 2 mages in AP+ gear without this. The other encumbering armors are a trade-off anyway since you miss out of the bonuses from the Robe of the Magi. Unless you are a singleton, this trait is unnecessary (and maybe even then). * Summoning Focus (x3) Possibly useful if you rely a lot on summoning. However, in my experience, a few levels on a summon doesn't make much difference in a fight. * Healing Focus (x5) If your healing spells aren't healing for enough HP, this can help, but it isn't particularly necessary. Also, increasing Priest Spells will boost your healing power by almost as much. * Riposte Mastery (x2) (needs level 18) Like extra Riposte. Riposte isn't very good, though. * Fast Recovery (needs level 6) Like extra First Aid. First Aid isn't useful, though. * Quick Learning (needs level 3) * Great Wisdom (needs level 6) The experience bonus rounds down to nothing on most monsters so you don't get much out of these skills. Furthermore, if you go up levels a little while earlier then you have a steeper experience penalty than you would have for that little while. Also, experience is less useful after you reach level 30. Avoid these! * Improved Dexterity (x5) * Sure Aim (x3) Too bad archery is inferior in this game. * Sure Hand, Deadeye Strictly worse than the Strength and Dexterity traits. * Strong Back (x2) (needs level 12) Increases your weight capacity by 20 pounds. That's all. That's completely useless! * Challenger (x3) Seems to do absolutely nothing. §7. SAMPLE PARTIES Build 1: 1 Fighter, 2 Mages, 1 Priest. This has a tank with high offensive and defensive skills, two mages with high defense and healing ability, and a priest who doubles as a thief. Multiple Nimble Fingers mean you don't have to wait to unlock stuff early on. The priest will lag slightly due to being the main Tool User, but this allows the mages to boost healing and, importantly, cast Unshackle Mind. The third healer is probably unnecessary, but you actually end up with surplus skill points when you run mostly mages -- they are a bit slimmer than fighters in terms of skill points. FIGHTER 9+2 Melee Weapons +1 Pole Weapons +1 Bows +1 Thrown Weapons (Warrior Cloak for the last 2 points to AR & BS) 10+2 Hardiness 10+2 Parry 10+2 Blademaster 7+2 Quick Action 9+1 Lethal Blow 8+1 Dual Wielding +1 Resistance Negotiator, Health Traits x3, Parry Mastery x2, Mighty Blows x3, DW Traits x2, Strength or Endurance x5 MAGE 1 16+1 Mage Spells 8 Priest Spells 10+2 Spellcraft 10+2 Resistance 9+1 Melee Weapons (Discipline Blade for the last 5 points to AR) 10+2 Hardiness +1 Lethal Blow Negotiator, Sage Lore, Intelligence x5, Elemental Focus x5, Health Traits x3, Nimble Fingers MAGE 2 16+1 Mage Spells 8 Priest Spells 10+2 Spellcraft 10+2 Resistance 9+1 Melee Weapons +1 Bows +1 Thrown Weapons (First Expedition Bow for the last 3 points to AR) 10+2 Hardiness +1 Lethal Blow Negotiator, Sage Lore, Intelligence x5, Elemental Focus x5, Health Traits x3, Nimble Fingers PRIEST 16 Priest Spells 10+2 Spellcraft 10+2 Resistance 10+1 Melee Weapons +1 Pole Weapons 1+1 Bows +1 Thrown Weapons 10+2 Hardiness +1 Lethal Blow 6 Tool Use Negotiator, Sage Lore (Drath's Knowledge for 10th point of lore), Intelligence x5, Elemental Focus x5, Health Traits x3, Nimble Fingers OR TRY THIS Build 2: 2 Fighters, 1 Mage, 1 Priest. This build has a tank, an offensive fighter, a mage, and a priest. The first fighter emphasizes defense, combining Hardiness, Resistance, Parry, and Endurance traits to be able to withstand anything. The second fighter maxes out offensive skills as much as can reasonably be done, while still having a strong defense from Parry. Otherwise this is similar to the previous build: multiple healers, Nimble Fingers, and the like. FIGHTER 1 8+2 Melee Weapons +1 Pole Weapons +1 Bows +1 Thrown Weapons (First Expedition Bow for the last 3 points to AR & BS) 10+2 Hardiness 10+2 Parry 10+2 Blademaster +1 Lethal Blow +1 Dual Wielding 8 Priest Spells 8+1 Spellcraft 9+1 Resistance Negotiator, Health Traits x3, Endurance x5, Parry Mastery x2, Mighty Blows x3, DW Traits x2 FIGHTER 2 9+2 Melee Weapons +1 Pole Weapons +1 Bows +1 Thrown Weapons (Warrior Cloak for the last 2 points to AR & BS) 10+2 Hardiness 10+2 Parry 10+2 Blademaster 7+2 Quick Action 9+1 Lethal Blow 8+1 Dual Wielding +1 Resistance Negotiator, Health Traits x2, Mighty Blows x3, DW Traits x2, Strength x5, Backstabber x3 MAGE 16+1 Mage Spells 8 Priest Spells 10+2 Spellcraft 10+2 Resistance 9+1 Melee Weapons (Discipline Blade for the last 5 points to AR) 10+2 Hardiness +1 Lethal Blow Negotiator, Sage Lore, Intelligence x5, Elemental Focus x5, Health Traits x3, Nimble Fingers PRIEST 16 Priest Spells 10+2 Spellcraft 10+2 Resistance 10+1 Melee Weapons +1 Pole Weapons +2 Bows +1 Thrown Weapons 10+2 Hardiness +1 Lethal Blow 7 Tool Use Negotiator, Sage Lore (Drath's Knowledge for 10th point of lore), Intelligence x5, Elemental Focus x5, Health Traits x3, Nimble Fingers FIN
  13. Clash on the Big Beige

    Slarty Ranks Everything

    This topic is exactly as described. I will rank everything and anything. Post whatever you would like me to rank, and I will add it to the current list. For example, if people suggested Nethergate, Mussolini, and roombas, we might get: Nethergate Roombas Mussolini Because I like Nethergate better than roombas, and roombas better than Mussolini. If someone then suggested rickrolling, it would be added, perhaps as: Nethergate Roombas Rickrolling Mussolini And so on, with the ranked list growing each time a new suggestion is made. That's it -- it's a purely subjective ranking. You can make a few different suggestions in one post if you like. No real limitations on what you can pick outside of what the code of conduct already covers -- e.g., keep it friendly. Let the pointless wanking ranking begin!
  14. Clash on the Big Beige

    Slarty Ranks Everything

    OK so by "TONIGHT" I clearly meant "probably Saturday" but it is going to happen then. Really.
  15. A lot of the answers to these questions can be found using the search function on the forums. Some of them you can just look up in the game yourself (i.e., what spells were removed between games). For the less obvious ones, here is what I can give you off the top of my head: Most of the principles still apply, and the majority of game mechanics are unchanged. So in those realms it is a good starting point. The flow of the games are not identical, however. In A:EFTP you could pretty easily explore almost all friendly settlements and map locations at the start, with little danger. Neither A2:CS nor A3:RW are quite the same. Yes, Jeff nerfed dual wielding as of A2:CS in two ways: changing the base penalty from -20% to -35% (which has a bigger impact on early game than late game), and removing or nerfing two incredibly strong weapons with bonuses that aided both hands (a flaming sword, and a sword with an insanely high Blademaster bonus) (which has a big impact on the late game). If we're talking about the same analysis, it absolutely mentions this. That hasn't changed, and humans are still the clear winner, though someone (Clintone I think?) made a good argument for using nephils in specific builds in A3:RW. Swordmage was never a complete waste, at least not the first few levels -- it just wasn't necessary in A:EFTP. It is more useful in A3:RW. Yes. This was actually true of the most recent version of A:EFTP as well -- Jeff initially set the second-level spell and training purchase prices much higher on the Mac version, which came out a month or two before the PC version IIRC. It now doesn't do that on any platforms. Negotiator is still important in A:EFTP but you can be less picky there. A3:RW does theoretically have infinite money, so you could skip Negotiator, but that would slow things down for long enough that I wouldn't consider it worthwhile. XP does work the same way, but the flow of the game is a little different, in particular how easy or hard it is to hit level 30 and how easy or hard it is to gain levels past that. They aren't a high priority, but if you get them early they do generate a reasonable amount of experience. There is a thread somewhere on A2:CS where I tested this. The old complaints about Sniper absolutely still stand. If for some reason you are playing on Torment but not hasting your party all the time, then Sniper could have a use. It makes a much weaker contribution if you are going to have haste up anyway. Clintone did a good analysis arguing in favor of Sniper, but I think he would agree with me that it is not worth skipping Sharpshooter in favor of more Sniper. I'd take Lethal Blow over Sniper as well. Resistance is terrific and amazing and a good reason to minor in priest spells. But I suppose it depends on whether you really want to use an archer as your primary damage dealer, or take the more traditional (and IMO much more effective) multi-spellcaster bombardment strategy.
  16. Clash on the Big Beige

    ANALYSIS: Min-Maxing A:EFTP

    You are mostly overthinking this. Look at your PC's info display. You'll see eight resistances listed. Magic, Fire, Cold, Poison, and Acid count as Elemental. Armor (aka physical damage) does not. Mental and Curse are used for status effects. There is no such thing as an earth element in these games, and I'm not sure where you are getting "Force damage" from -- the games do sometimes call magic-element damage "energy damage" though. Basically, when dealing with game mechanics, for any game, you should trust what is explicitly stated onscreen over random, overarching interpretations of elements and other things that don't actually stem from the game in any way
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    Slarty Ranks Everything

  18. Clash on the Big Beige

    RPGs - Best World Tech?

    Per usual, Chrono Trigger did it better.
  19. Clash on the Big Beige

    RPGs - Best World Tech?

    The concept of magic belongs to no age (etc.) because it exists in the realm of concepts -- the realm of memory and spirit. The passage of time is simply, in this case, what pushes magic from being a temporal reality, to a timeless truth. The Company took their places in the boats as before. Crying farewell, the Elves of Lórien with long grey poles thrust them out into the flowing stream, and the rippling waters bore them slowly away. The travellers sat still without moving or speaking. On the green bank near to the very point of the Tongue the Lady Galadriel stood alone and silent. As they passed her they turned and their eyes watched her slowly floating away from them. For so it seemed to them: Lórien was slipping backward, like a bright ship masted with enchanted trees, sailing on to forgotten shores, while they sat helpless upon the margin of the grey and leafless world. Even as they gazed, the Silverlode passed out into the currents of the Great River, and their boats turned and began to speed southwards. Soon the white form of the Lady was small and distant. She shone like a window of glass upon a far hill in the westering sun, or as a remote lake seen from a mountain: a crystal fallen in the lap of the land.
  20. Clash on the Big Beige

    RPGs - Best World Tech?

    This is... not at all what happened? Aragorn and Eomer become kings, the four hobbits occupy the highest positions of the Shire, Sam and Frodo use enchanted gifts of the Elves to reforest the Shire and endure PTSD respectively, and a whole truckload of said heroes board ships and take the Straight Path to Valinor. In fact I'm pretty sure there are multiple paragraphs devoted to the fact that everyone in the Shire thought the four hobbits were extremely remarkable. The magic and wonder of Middle-earth doesn't "rot away" -- but it does fade away, into the past -- into the realm of memory and spirit -- as everything eventually must. Lothlorien provides an explicit metaphor for this. Tolkien was interested in acknowledging existential loss. At the same time LOTR was intended to provide a connection to that world of magic and wonder. The story of Middle-earth fading away is, ironically, the very thing that keeps it fresh and immediate.
  21. Clash on the Big Beige

    RPGs - Best World Tech?

    Exile and Avernum I agree are at least ambiguous, but Avadon's an easy high magic call for me. Pretty much every humanoid encounter has one or more spellcasters; Avadon -- however great its resources -- hands out magical artifacts like candy; and townspeople who give you potions in exchange for killing some rats, or whatever, are a dime a dozen. Not to mention Kellemderiel, where magic is the national pastime. Lord of the Rings has had an outsized influence on the whole genre, of course, and I think it makes a good measuring pole for the low end of low magic. There are literally five Wizards and, spoiler alert, they are actually demigods. Some enchantment-style magic seems to be available to the few remaining High Elves, but it's limited, quite mysterious to the audience, and totally inaccessible to those of mortal (or even moriquendi) blood. Magical items of any sort are rare, and are pretty much guaranteed to be millenia old.
  22. Clash on the Big Beige

    RPGs - Best World Tech?

    I'm happy with either low technology or high technology -- but it's actually the "dash of steampunk" that bugs me the most. When technology just gets thrown around in a world that doesn't seem realistically able to have produced it, it does make things feel less internally consistent and less immersive for me. An interesting parallel question is: how much magic? You can have low magic or high magic without impacting the setting as much, simply because magic is expected to pop into existence without a context of how it was developed, whereas technology isn't. But it certainly affects the feel of things. My preference, I think, is for low magic. I prefer magic really being treated as something special and unusual, rather than something that everyone and their mother can just toss around. (And that goes not just for spellcasting, but also for magic items, magic appliances, etc.) Nethergate is really interesting here, because even though the setting is full of magic, it is a low magic setting in many ways for the humans. The druids don't get magical powers out of nowhere, but have to propitiate and navigate the world of the sidhe skillfully in order to do much of anything; ritual is important, and even a simple blessing is treasured. (The Romans, of course, are a terrific example of historically-minded low magic with low technology.) Low magic does seem to be a lot more common in books than it is in video games.
  23. Clash on the Big Beige

    A3:RW - Randomizer's Massive List (SPOILER)

    Is it possible it's a level-scaled XP award, and you were a high enough level that it was reduced to nothing?
  24. Clash on the Big Beige

    Improved Healing (+5%, etc.)

    It improves the effect of healing abilities that character uses, yup. Who the target is doesn't matter.
  25. Clash on the Big Beige

    Game/scenario/whatever designing alternatives for those who miss Blades?

    Hmm. Just a quick caveat... Sorting Hat appears to be 4 or 5 years out of date regarding some of the tools it suggests -- in terms of new generations of products, prices, available platforms for use and production, and other capabilities.