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Avernum 6 - The Tormented Singleton - The Artful Dodger (some Spoilers)

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It's been a while since I started this game to see if it's possible to play a singleton character at torment difficulty. Because there are several places in the demo area where you can't turn back for healing after you start fulfilling a quest, I decided to follow Slarty's advice for a character build in Avernum 4 that emphasizes evaision to avoid taking damage in the first place.

 

A nephil with divine touch and natural mage traits is the starting point. There are too many area effect attack places not to have heavy armor as soon as possible. The parry ability and increased carrying capacity from elite warrior aren't enough to beat armor when the best armor pieces in the demo are bulky with to hit chance penalties.

 

Dexterity - 9 - 45%

Defense - 4 - 12%

Gymnastics - 1 - 5%

 

gives an evaision chance of 62% which prevents most monsters from hitting you in the Castle Food Depot and the Goblin Mines. The huge rats have only an 8% chance and the diseased rat is 18%. The goblins are even worse with the goblin warrior at 18%. If you take advantage of terrain then you can reduce your attackers to two or less at a time. There's nothing wrong with retreating into a corner or doorway.

 

Mage and priest spells at 3 give all the starting spells and only 15 spell energy. So spells are saved to heal at the start.

 

You finish off the Deep Storage quest just below making 3rd level. A trip around the outside of the Depot and it's off to visit Lord Trinket. The ability to avoid most attacks mean that the goblins and bats on the lower level of the mines as you crossover on the platforms is 1 to 2%. So this part is actually boring as I plinked away with a bow.

 

More to come.

 

Anyone else want to discuss running a singleton?

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I have a torment singleton who has just gotten his boat, after finishing almost everything that is doable up to that point. (There are two accessible bad bosses that I've decided I can't handle yet, and there may be a few things that I skipped earlier and have now forgotten, but I've been able to accomplish pretty much everything, with some patience.

 

Important note: I'm cheating inasmuch as I have edited up my Arcane and Nature Lore, and Tool Use, to enormous levels. Editing up the Lores with a singleton makes sense to me, since it costs a singleton ridiculously much to reach the Lore levels that a party of 4 can get dirt cheap. Editing Tool Use has no such excuse. It's just that not being able to open things or find things is very annoying, and this is still supposed to be a game.

 

Otherwise, I'm a Divinely Touched Natural Mage nephil named Macavity. I've mostly used sword and shield, with some dual wielding, plus both mage and priest spells. No serious effort in archery, but my nephil skills make my bow worth using occasionally. I have so far unlocked every special skill except Gymnastics, Lethal Blow, and Riposte. Gymnastics is high enough anyway that I'm in no rush to unlock it, but I'll probably open Lethal Blow in a few levels, since it is supposed to work with spells, too. I probably won't bother with any priest spells past Ward of Elements, but I plan to go all the way to Arcane Blow on the mage side.

 

I found everything doable but gradually getting harder, to the point where it was beginning to get frustrating, until I learned Control Foe. With my high spellcraft it was pretty consistently effective. So then suddenly things became doable again, and charming is still a workhorse tactic. (Charming hostile spellcasters is awesome — they'll buff you, and that usually means giving you an old-style Speed spell, or even a Spine Shield. Their summons are still hostile to you, but this also means their summons are hostile to them, for as long as they're charmed.) For a while there I was confident enough to wander through underground tunnels unbuffed and out of combat mode, which is normally a no-no for torment singletons, because if I met anything I could charm it.

 

But I'm happy to say that I'm using pretty much everything. Melee is effective enough to be well worthwhile, sometimes better than spells for damage, sometimes better just because it stops enemies from using ranged attacks on me. Archery is worth having to conserve spell energy. Sometimes acid and running works, sometimes luring enemies out one by one, sometimes charging right into a pack and charming three at once on an Adrenaline Rush. Summons are usually effective, though sometimes unnecessary and sometimes killed too fast to be worth the energy cost.

 

It's nice quaffing every knowledge brew right away, and having the dialogs that treat me as one person actually fit. I'm not having much trouble with running out of inventory space, because I have to go back to town to restore energy fairly often anyway, and I've finally learned to travel light, instead of carrying around all kinds of items I never use.

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Originally Posted By: Randomizer
I decided to follow Slarty's advice for a character build in Avernum 4 that emphasizes evaision to avoid taking damage in the first place.

Uh oh.

Perhaps things have changed since A4, but the end result of my great idea (it was a great idea) was failure. The build was viable on Easy and semi-viable, but not great, on Normal. On Torment it was literally mathematically impossible to obtain reasonable evasion ability. Even with all available skill points, knowledge brews, and optimal evasion equipment, it was impossible to keep up with ever-increasing enemy accuracy. Dodge rate started out OK then dropped precipitously and never quite recovered beyond 20% or so.

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I don't think evasion is a complete solution, but for the first few areas it makes a viable build. You can't start with enough spell energy to get through the first few areas on spells alone. There are plenty early monsters that still have to hits in the 20+% range that you can go everywhere. But it get me through Lord Trinket and into the Castle.

 

After this there are some easy quest to build up levels before the next long fight areas

in the Aid Gnass and Aid Dharmon quests.

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But you can handle Trinket more conventionally. I forget exactly what I did, but I think maybe Daze worked well on those jumping goblins, and then I could cut them down.

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Daze works find for the initial round, but for a single character you need to use at least two energy potions to keep enough of them dazed while you whittle down their numbers. With my method, only the two cave wolves and Lord Trinket have more than a 1% chance of hitting.

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Hmmm; I really don't remember what I did to finish Trinket. Maybe I had to use something rare, like an invulnerability potion or battle crystal. But somehow I did it without putting anything at that point into Dex (which is expensive) or Defense. And I'd be worried about having invested too much in dodging skills if they weren't going to hold up past the first few levels.

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Well in the middle part of the game there are places where you really want to be hit. A spineshield scroll, lots of armor and health, and then an area effect attack to lure in the Slith Horde so they suicide against you. They actually can inflict more damage per strike against themselves than you can do to them.

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My tormented singleton is currently level 42 in the Eastern gallery. So far I've found it a lot easier than in A5; bosses tend to have a lot fewer hits (though more potions and other one-shot tricks) and I have a better idea now how to build my character.

 

Character type: Divinely touched slith natural warrior

 

The rationale here was to focus on pumping up melee damage to ridiculous levels. In retrospect, pure spirit may have been a better choice than warrior; I will eventually want priest spells and the cost is prohibitive otherwise. Currently I'm getting by with no mage spells and only two priest, which gives me access to the absolute necessities: bless, shield, cure, and heal.

 

Character building strategy: Don't be hit

 

Like most other attempts logged here, my basic strategy is to evade melee damage. With so many monster attacks having nasty side effects, mere armor is not enough. I'm currently at 15 Parry and 3 Riposte, aiming for 10 or perhaps even 20 Riposte; already I can stand among a crowd of Chitrachs and take basically no damage.

 

Questionable tactics

 

Of course, a singleton would never work if you just waded into each fight and started hitting things. Most of my tricks involve exploiting the mechanics of entering and leaving combat:

 

Corner scooting: Fight a single enemy near a corner, then when your hits get low, dodge around the corner (out of sight) and drop out of combat. You get a few round to heal and buff before he comes back in sight; then repeat. You can also completely clear your fatigue and other negative effects if you wish, since going into combat and then dropping out at the start of your turn applies all these effects once and doesn't give slower monsters a chance to move.

 

Combat flopping: If you press the "peace" button with monsters visible, you will drop out of combat at the start of your next turn, even if you are frozen, dazed, stunned, etc. You can then take one turn to heal (or even cast Restore Mind) before you go back into combat. As an added advantage, that extra turn clears stunning and reduces other effects like ice. It also doubles your Fatigue decay rate, so that with 20+ Blademaster you can fire off Mighty Blows every turn.

 

This only works against enemies that are slower than you - otherwise you're giving them double hits on you, since combat ends at the start of your turn. It also fails with poison or acid, since these effects are applied at the start of each combat turn and thus end up being applied twice.

 

Luring: As you move around, A6 gives each enemy in sight a chance to decide to attack you. If one decides to do so, you immediately drop into combat, without the other monsters being checked. You can then back away and reliably lure just that one monster away from its pack. This doesn't work with monsters scripted to attack in groups.

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That's an excellent summary of some excellent tactics for singletons. We should use it as a reference piece for singleton play in SW games.

 

You are much better off with Elite Warrior. Your Parry skill would be much lower without it, your damage would be lower due to fewer battle proficiency uses (BM fatigue reduction) and the Blademaster damage bonus, and your carrying capacity would be lower as well forcing you to waste more points on Strength.

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I just got back from killing Ess-Kalyn, which I expected to be nearly impossible but instead turned out to be one of the more enjoyable battles so far as a singleton. It turns out that Solberg deals most of the damage; you just have to keep him from being swarmed. I wiped out the Horned Gate guards myself first to keep the old man from taxing himself unduly.

 

Because I anticipated great difficulty with that battle, I wiped out nearly everything else first before attempting it. Hrickis was the only really difficult fight, because his scripted summons are "real" creature that appear even when you aren't in combat and don't fade if you run around a corner and pop in and out of combat for a while. I ended up having to lure them away, come back and beat on him until they got back, and repeat until I finally wore him down.

 

I still haven't been able to defeat the Tower Lich or the slith warrior east of Formello with the nice pants. The lich seems to require invulnerable potions, and I need to figure out how to budget between him and Melanchion. The slith just heals too fast for me to damage him; I figure he will be easier once I have the Jade Halberd.

 

I lifted the Fort Monastery siege immediately upon reaching Northern Avernum, which was a big help for healing and carting out loot - the pylon even becomes active as soon as you lift the siege.

 

I've run into an unexpected snag - I just reached level 61 and apparently that is the maximum. My training budget had counted on getting to at least level 80 by endgame, which would have gotten me another 100 skill points and a lot of bonus from traits. My first plan on cashing in my mandrakes at Tenavra is to pump up my Nature Lore and go pick up all the mandrake and wisdom crystals I've missed. I haven't done the analysis yet to figure out what level is still cost-effective. The things I will definitely train next are:

 

One more Quick Strike to get me to 20 with equipment (cost: 8)

Three more Riposte to get me up to 10 after the reward from Melanchion (cost: 25)

Five more Mage Spells to get me up to 8 so that with +3 from equipment I can dispel barriers. I hate being unable to access any loot, even though both my experience and money are capped. This also gets me high enough for Cloak of Blades, which will significantly increase my damage output (cost: 36)

 

Once those things are done, I have to decide between pumping up Resistance until I have 90% in most categories, pumping up Mage Spells until I can cast Arcane Blow (useful for places where damage must be dealt quickly, such as Cotra, which I have yet to complete), or just pouring it all into Endurance.

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A grep on the item list turns up items giving 6 skill points at Nature Lore=15 (making it a wash for a singleton given +4 from items) and only 2 skill points at Nature Lore=16 (not worth it). Training to 15 gives 38 skill points of profit.

 

Dispel barrier gives access to 14 skill points, and also is necessary to access Melanchion's treasure room with the basins adding to basic stats. So, it is definitely worth the investment.

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Sounds like you're doing very well, and certainly better than I did. Cotra doesn't necessarily need all that much damage output, though; strong charming works very well, too.

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Done!

 

My singleton completed every quest and killed just about everything that could be killed, including Gladwell, Melanchion, and the sliths camped in and around Formello (except the ones that regenerate). I finally decided that Minor Heal just wasn't cutting it any more for healing, so I trained up to 6 Arcane Lore and 14 Priest Spells to allow me to get and use Divine Restoration (with the Spirit Cloak equipped). This made a lot of battles much easier, notably the Tower Lich.

 

Some more useful tricks appear once you have 10+ APs every turn:

 

Slicing time: A corner scoot normally gives you just a few rounds of healing out of combat before the enemy gets around the corner. But, if you go into combat, take one action, and then drop out of combat again, you can take as many actions as you want. You can also leave the enemy perfectly positioned and scoot back around the corner at them once you are healed and unfatigued. From their perspective, it looks like you instantaneously healed and rested between turns, while also causing their summons to suddenly vanish.

 

Can't touch me: This is indisputably the most despicable exploit of all, because it allows you to destroy any enemy without allowing them even a turn to retaliate. It actually breaks the game so badly that I didn't use it with my character. But a more scurrilous singleton might position themselves within bowshot of an enemy, but far enough away that they can drop in and out of combat freely (eight spaces away, slightly off the straight cardinal direction). This scoundrel might then proceed to go into combat, hit the enemy with an arrow or spell, drop out of combat again before the end of their turn, and repeat until the enemy is dead. This trick of course does not work if you're boxed in a room with the enemy (as with the Tower Lich or Zahur Firecaller).

 

The never-ending turn: Curing elixirs usually remove at least eight fatigue, and require only five action points to use. Therefore, you can use Adrenaline Rush, then a curing potion, and end up with a net gain of seven APs. You can't go above about 30 APs or your turn will abruptly end. However, by interspersing attacks with potions, you can make dozens of attacks in one turn. It took me 29 potions to kill Zahur Firecaller in one turn (although probably I should have first done as much damage as I could while the lava was rising, because there was no need to kill him that fast). There are 76 curing elixirs available in the game, if you alchemize everything left over after knowledge brews; this is enough to kill Melanchion in one round without even giving him a turn.

 

Having used up some curing elixirs on Zahur, I instead relied on invulnerability potions for the last third of Melanchion's hit points. With Ward of the Elements and invulnerability, you take about 100 damage from his breath and about 200 from the death curse, meaning that you can easily keep up with the damage using Divine Restoration and still have time to hit him and keep up your invulnerability.

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So what's the final say? Dodge tactics for the first few areas then slowly build up other non-evasive measures for defense? Sorry for the topic rez but I just blew off the dust off of my copy and want to try out a Tsingleton.

 

Going for a EW/DT dual-wielding Slith. How should I start? +2points in Priest Spells for the basic solo survival kit is a given. Should I go for Parry early? With trainers, gear, and trait bonus, Parry would be around 17(@level 56). Should I hold off on training weapon skills until trainers to save a few skill points?

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I found that while dodging helps you don't need to maximize it. Parry is a must, but you need some weapon skills.

 

The most important thing is using terrain to limit the number of monsters that can attack you. Retreating to a narrow corridor or corner helps except against range attacks.

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There's no hurry to learn arcane lore, but you do want some tool use to get to loot and nature lore when you get the cheap training in Gnass to be able to loot caches for items and more money.

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Getting by just fine using a pre-made *gasps* class (Berserker) with a kitty. Just finished (un)helping with the Great Portal and now I'm stomped on what series of quests to do now. Thinking of going for the Tower Colony one and the Almaria hostages.

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Just want to add that neko post and build for a singleton torment run is really good and doable as I had just completed one such run myself using a laregly similar human divinely touched natural warrior.

 

The argument for a natural warrior over a natural Mage is that parry -an essential skill throughout the game -is ramped up pretty quickly early in the game at a stage when you need it most , due to generally poor resistances , armor and equipment. Secondly, in late game, for damage and survivability in certain fights, having ap for 2 main actions becomes invaluable and the guaranteed way for a dual wielding singleton involve equipping mercuric gear that decreases strength. A non natural warrior build becomes severely challenged in strength to wear the best equipment necessary , yet again, for survivability, if he wants to get 10 ap 100%. The alternative way is sink 150 skill points( or maybe more if I remember incorrectly) into quick strike which is a hefty investment that to me is much better invested into hardiness and luck and resistance skills that will make up for the lack of resistance bonus in the mercuric gear.

 

Also , the "combat flop" is heavily exploited by me throughout the game and especially early game. The importance of that additional action you can perform before re entering into combat cannot be understated for a singleton that need to balance damage output with healing ( more so at early and mid game without haste spell)

 

 

where my build might differ abit from neko's is I have not put a single point into quick strike, nor reposte but mainly into hardiness (16), luck (10) and resistance (5),. This enabled my human avernite battle priest swordsman , with his late game optimal gear , to have 90 in armour and and energy resist and 89in fire and cold , after tossing in elemental cloak and quaffing a handy armour elixir. With option to scythe through slith with cloak of blades . This setup , and 14 in priest spell which enable divine restoration casting with spirit cloak , makes my avernite almost impregnable with a single cast heal doing 150+ and combat flop causing regen to heal another 55-60 hp. Killing gladwell with all his lost tower begotten prowess without use of a invulnerability pot seems a breather compared to the earlier titanic tussle with Melanchion .

 

A note on Melanchion battle. His combi of death curse and fire breath has a unsavory habit of cutting short the duration of the invulnerability pot so quaffing a pot whilst the effect of an earlier one is still in play might be needed with the death curse ready to tick off the next turn. Other than that I'm surprised having a weak mental resist of about 40% didn't seem to present much difficulty throughoutthe game except for certain draconic summons by Melanchion .

 

 

 

 

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