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Mike Montgomery

Custom starting party not always best

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Some of the walkthroughs and posts indicate that a custom starting party is always best. The logic here is that though the preconstructed classes would take more skill points to build, there are many things you would leave out in a custom build.

 

However, there are several preconstructed classes that one should consider over a custom character.

 

1. For a Mage, if you create a custom character with Intellegence 6, Endurance 4, and 5 levels in Mage, you have 10 skill points left. The Sorcerer has all of this, and 8 skill points left. This means for 2 skill points you get: 1 melee, 2 arcane lore, 1 spellcraft, and 1 nature lore. This looks like a good deal to me. Granted, you could eventually buy all of this, but what does that work out to, 5000 gold spent per skill point saved? For a mage, I definitely think using a Sorcerer is a better choice than custom.

 

2. For a Priest, it is less clear-cut. If you were going to train some melee skill for your priest anyway, then the preconstructed Priest is a good idea. If your custom was 5 intellegence, 5 endurance, 3 melee, and 4 priest, then for the equivalent of 1 skill point, the preconstructed Priest give you 1 thrown, 1 arcane lore, 1 spellcraft, 2 defense, and 2 first aid. However, if you were not going to train melee (for example Slith pole priest), then custom makes sense.

 

3. For a melee fighter, if you were going to train 4 strength, 4 dex, 5 end, and 5 melee anyway for your custom character, the Berserker gives 1 bow, 1 thrown, 2 hardi, 2 def, 2 nature lore, and 1 first aid for just 3 skill points. Definitely better than custom in my opinion.

 

4. For a Priest/Mage, a Hedge Wizard (or Shaman if you also want melee) makes a lot of sense as an alternative to custom. Compared to a custom with 5 intel, 5 end, 3 mage, and 3 priest, the Hedge Wizard gives 1 melee, 1 QA, 2 arcane lore, 1 spellcraft, 1 hardiness, 1 nature lore, and 1 first aid, all for only 3 skill points.

 

In summary, I believe the all-custom starting party is not the best choice. Most parties could benefit from 2 or more preconstructed characters. Custom characters do have their place, especially for pole weapon specialists, or pure priests with no melee or mage skills, or a dedicated archer, or some other special purpose. But most parties have a place that 1 or 2 Sorcerers, Berserkers, Priests, or Hedge Wizards could fill better than a custom character.

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I agree with the Berserker, but there's sadly no equivalent for polearms. The two single type magic users are also good premade classes. For mage-priests I did extensive testing that I no longer remember and concluded that an absurd kind of abusive Custom build was the best.

 

—Alorael, who may have done nothing but pump the two skills for mages and priests. No Intelligence, no Spellcraft, and certainly no First Aid or melee skills.

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Quote:
Originally written by Mike Montgomery:
Some of the walkthroughs and posts indicate that a custom starting party is always best. The logic here is that though the preconstructed classes would take more skill points to build, there are many things you would leave out in a custom build.
...
If I am not mistaken, earlier Avernums imposed less of a skillpoint penalty on custom classes and included more random skills (like completely useless First Aid of earlier Avernums), so the advice to always go with custom might be a holdover from those games.

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Quote:
Originally written by Zeviz:
If I am not mistaken, earlier Avernums imposed less of a skillpoint penalty on custom classes and included more random skills (like completely useless First Aid of earlier Avernums), so the advice to always go with custom might be a holdover from those games.
I believe you are right. But even then, there were some preconstructed classes that were a good deal, even after deducting for the useless stuff. I did an analysis for Avernum 3, and I believe 4 of the preconstructed classes were a good deal.

For Avernum 4, the presence of trainers complicates things. As Stupas says, an agressive min-maxer may avoid training in any skill before first purchasing 2 levels. For such a player, adding 1 melee, 2 arcane lore, 1 spellcraft, and 1 nature lore for only 2 skill points would not seem worthwhile verses paying over 6000 gold for the same skills, and getting them much later in the game in the bargain. They should go custom and not put a single skill point in anything that could first be trained, and good for them. I would personally hate to play the game that way, but I have to respect someone who will put up with as much aggrevation in the early game as they will have for this level of character optimization.

For players who do not optimize so aggressively, I think many of the preconstructed classes are a good bargain.

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*nod*

Normally, I would never advocate such a tactic. However, it is actually pretty useful as a singleton on Torment. As a singleton, coming up with the gold to train is no problem whatsoever. And as a singleton on Torment, every skill point you get is critical -- there are basically none to spare.

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Quote:
Originally written by Fresh Spraling:
I agree with the Berserker, but there's sadly no equivalent for polearms. The two single type magic users are also good premade classes.
What are the bad pre-made classes?

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Customized spellcaster that has mage 5/priest 5 gives you more free spells at the start. It really depends upon what your total party will look like.

 

In Avernum 1 you could customize a mage to start with lightning spray and have a few priest levels. Then max out a priest to get I think unshackle mind (maybe mass healing) and a few mage levels. This would give greater attack strength and healing ability than a pre-made party.

 

In Avernum 2 and later there was a limit on the highest level spells that you could start with no matter what your level.

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