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Spells are so much better than weapons, it's not even funny. Given the same skill, stat, and trait investment, weapon damage doesn't even keep up with spell damage against a single target, let alone with AoE spell damage. You can surpass spell damage a little, maybe if you dump all your skill points into offensive skills and dual-wield. (Note that the Flaming Sword no longer enflames an off-hand weapon, and there is no +8 Blademaster off-hand weapon, and there is an extra -15% dual-wielding penalty compared to A:EFTP.) Bleh.

 

There are basically three sets of skills that matter:

1) Mage Spells and Priest Spells

2) weapon skills (for Adrenaline Rush)

3) Hardiness and Resistance (and Spellcraft along the way)

 

The return on those skills is just so much higher than anything else. There's nothing particularly wrong with Parry, Blademaster, or Sharpshooter (or Lethal Blow if approached from the Sharpshooter side), but their impact is minute given the balance issues above.

 

There's still a place for tanks, but physical attacks are almost not worth bothering with, and priests can tank just fine. Actually, so can mages. (Spellcasters also reach 90% mental resistance on their own pretty early, due to Intelligence, which is nothing to laugh at.)

 

Correspondingly, since most of the first screen of skills is irrelevant without physical attacks, this means that you don't lose that much by investing points directly into Tool Use (already useful), Arcane Lore (with a bonus 4 pts of Resistance, though 13 might be hard to reach), and even Cave Lore.

 

Speaking of Cave Lore... what's better than a skill point? A level up! No, really: even if the skill points and traits disappear at level 30, level ups continue to give small amounts of HP and SP, preset stat increases, and half a die of damage/power to all your abilities. Once you've maxed out the best value skills, and taken the best value traits... that's really the best value. And that means Cave Lore, which nets you extra Wisdom Crystal herbs more conveniently than in A:EFTP, is a good value, period.

 

What's more, there is tons and tons of money. Those of us who played v1.0 of A:EFTP remember that while money wasn't scarce, there still wasn't enough to do everything you wanted. The reduction of spell and training costs made a big difference, and I think A2:CS just has more treasure in general. So spending 8800 on Cave Lore for a return of less than 8800? Truly fantastic!

 

The huge amount of money also means that spending a little extra to get something significantly earlier is dandy.

 

Also, note that you can steal a lot of stuff that looks unstealable by being thoughtful about where you stand, devious about which doors to open, and very patient with wandering NPCs. Some of this stuff has a pretty big value.

 

Humans are obviously the way to go, especially in light of weapons sucking. With so few skill points in demand (with casters) and so many traits available, I think the two XP-raising traits might actually be useful. They are probably the equivalent of two Wisdom Crystals each, but with 24 skills, you eventually get to the point where half a level up (see above) sounds better than all the options left.

 

Adrenaline Rush is still really, really good. It's a bit harder to get it early, but not that hard. You can get a +2 to weapons item in Almaria right away, and the big +5 item is in Gaddika's fortress.

 

Divine Retribution is the best attack spell in many circumstances, but Call the Storm is not; whereas Lightning Spray is probably the most overall useful attack spell in the game, with its 10 SP cost. Fireblast is also great and ultimately the most damaging attack. Daze is useful early. Simulacrum is great. Haste is brokenly good, as is Mass Healing. Cloak of the Arcane and the damage Wards are still unnecessarily awesome. Protection and War Blessing are useful, Sanctify is nice. MM and DB are obvious. Many of the other spells are not worth bothering with, even useful-sounding ones like Slow and Divine Restoration.

 

After the demo ends, you can get Magi Clearance without visiting any more dungeons by visiting all the towns and being very thoughtful about which quests to go after. At that point, you can reach Crown Clearance through a large handful of low difficulty, high reputation-payout quests. At that point, you have access to enough goodies that you should be able to coast for a long while.

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Bonam   

Are there no encounters of note that have magic immune (i.e. can only be damaged by physical attacks) enemies in A2:CS?

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Triumph   

Outstanding yet succinct analysis.

 

Bonam, since mages / priests can deal out (among their different spells) energy (magic), cold, and fire damage (and, oddly, physical damage with Move Mountains), although you'll run into enemies that resist certain things, I don't think you'll ever face a situation where a magic user can't inflict good damage.

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Just from reading the forums (I'm holding off on starting a "real" playthrough until version 1.0.1 comes out to fix the remaining reported glitches, missing level 3 spellbooks, etc.), I'm slightly disappointed that Jeff seems to have taken another step in the wrong direction in terms of melee/pole/ranged vs. magic damage balance. He does seem to have made poles and (maybe?) bows slightly more viable, but - although dual-wielding is still probably the best non-magic choice for damage - the new 90% (vs. the previous 95%) to-hit chance cap (yuck) coupled with the increase in initial dual-wielding penalties seems a strange choice when faced with the fact that magic remains just as powerful - and maybe even more powerful, with the new Capture Soul/Simulacrum spells, for example.

 

That said, I've always run parties in A4-A6/A:EFTP of two dedicated melee tanks (dual-wielding in A:EFTP), one dedicated priest, and one dedicated mage on Normal difficulty. I know the crazy Torment min-maxers often prefer an optimal party with only one tank and more priests/mages, but I generally like to avoid the micro-(ok, milli-)management of more magic users (e.g. positioning, SP management, etc.). But the continued nerfing of non-magic damage now has me considering changing up my original planned party build by throwing a lot more mage and priest spells into the mix (see below for new build). I also precisely planned the distribution of utility skills below: 12 total Cave Lore skill points counting the quest point on the first character - I do know you only "really" need 10 total to get all caches due to the Forager's Boots and First Expedition Ring, but whatever; 18 total effective Arcane Lore skill points through 4 Sage Lore, 2 Arcane Lore, and 4 Vahnatai Lore, allowing access to almost all spellbooks - except Spray Acid, Blink, Cloak of Blades, and Ward of Steel, as those require "pure" Arcane Lore, and except the Resistance teaching crystal, as I don't think the +1 Resistance from the crystal is really that amazing and I'd rather spend the Arcane Lore points elsewhere; 15 total Tool Use skill points including 7 (8 with the Tinker's Gloves) concentrated on one character for the Icy Rain level 3 book. Thoughts?

 

EDIT (NEW PARTY BUILD):

 

Human Fighter/Priest:

8+2 Melee

+2 Poles

+2 Bows

+2 Thrown

10+2 Hardiness

10+2 Parry

8+2 Blademaster

+2 Quick Action

+2 Lethal Blow

8 Priest Spells

7+3 Spellcraft

10 Resistance

2 Arcane Lore

+2 Cave Lore

+2 First Aid

+2 Luck

Strength x5, Endurance x5, Recovery, Mighty Blows x3, Parry Mastery x2, Health Traits x3, Nimble Fingers x2, Fast Recovery, Sage Lore, Negotiator

 

Human Priest/Mage:

8+2 Melee

+2 Poles

+2 Bows

+2 Thrown

10+2 Hardiness

+2 Parry

14 Priest Spells

7 Mage Spells

7+3 Spellcraft

10 Resistance

7 Tool Use

+2 Cave Lore

+2 First Aid

+2 Luck

Intelligence x5, Endurance x5, Recovery, Swordmage x4, Elemental Focus x1, Health Traits x3, Nimble Fingers x2, Fast Recovery, Sage Lore, Negotiator

 

Human Mage/Priest 1&2:

8+2 Melee

+2 Poles

+2 Bows

+2 Thrown

10+2 Hardiness

+2 Parry

16 Mage Spells

8 Priest Spells

7+3 Spellcraft

10 Resistance

2+2 Cave Lore

2+2 First Aid

+2 Luck

Intelligence x5, Endurance x5, Recovery, Swordmage x4, Elemental Focus x1, Health Traits x3, Nimble Fingers x2, Fast Recovery, Sage Lore, Negotiator

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Bonam   

Slarti, based on the OP, are you basically recommending a pure spellcaster party of 4 characters each of which have:

 

17 priest OR mage spells (probably 2 chars with priest, 2 with mage)

10 spellcraft

10 resistance

10 melee

10 hardiness

 

leaving 24 total party skill points for:

1 cave lore (8 can be trained, 2 from items/quests to reach 11)

14 tool use

13 arcane lore

 

That's 4 points short, which means sacrificing 4 hardiness or 4 resistance to get those 13 points of AL to get the 4 points of resistance... so may as well drop AL and use sage lore.

 

That leaves, 24 total skill points for:

Char A: 6 parry (front line character)

Char B: 4 tool use, 2 free points

Char C: 4 tool use, 2 free points

Char D: 5 tool use, 1 cave lore

 

The free points could go to parry, or maybe luck? first aid?

 

With this build, you'd have 4 spellcasters, all with early access to adrenaline rush, all quite tanky.

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Bonam - just note that the max priest/mage skill necessary in A2:CS (unlike in A:EFTP) is now 16, not 17 - so you might save a couple skill points there. Otherwise, my above priest/mage builds sound pretty close to what you're suggesting for your whole party.

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the new 90% (vs. the previous 95%) to-hit chance cap (yuck) coupled with the increase in initial dual-wielding penalties seems a strange choice when faced with the fact that magic remains just as powerful

The hit chance cap applies to spells, too. Since spells are by default more accurate than weapons, the lower cap maybe even has more of an effect on them. That was an interesting choice. I haven't decided if I like it or not. I don't think it upset any balance, though.

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The hit chance cap applies to spells, too.

 

Hmm, interesting. Does this apply to all targets for AoE spells, or only on a target-by-target basis? E.g. if you target 3 enemies with a Cone of Cold, would the 90% to-hit be tested for each enemy individually (resulting in hitting 2 and missing 1, for example), or would you either hit all 3 or miss all 3?

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Something close to that, Bonam, but

 

1) Not only is the max to cast all MS/PS 16 in this game, you don't even need everyone to get there. Mages probably do want 16, but priests can easily stop at 14 or 15. 16 gets you the utterly useless Divine Host, and 15 only gets you Divine Restoration, which I haven't actually found necessary.

 

2) 8 points in Melee Weapons, not 10. You train the other 2 to 10, for Hardiness's sake. (Or alternately you put the points into Pole Weapons. You'll be wearing lame defensive knives, not spears, it's true, but you won't really need to attack, and pole weapons training is both cheaper, and available much earlier than melee weapons training.)

 

That leaves about 34 party skill points for 1 CL, 14 TU (but much of that can easily go into traits if you desire), and 13 AL. You can also use traits for most of the AL, but because the last two points of Vahnatai Lore are late game points, you'll delay a few nice level 3 spells for a long time with that route (as well as a few less amazing level 3 spells in the Formello area, when you can't access Sage Lore yet).

 

3) Also, because Spellcraft is good but less essential, and there is a Spellcraft trainer, plus a free point of it, you could stop Spellcraft at 7 if you really want the points for some other skill. You probably don't, though.

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Hmm, interesting. Does this apply to all targets for AoE spells, or only on a target-by-target basis? E.g. if you target 3 enemies with a Cone of Cold, would the 90% to-hit be tested for each enemy individually (resulting in hitting 2 and missing 1, for example), or would you either hit all 3 or miss all 3?

Individually. Play the game, man, you could answer that for yourself :)

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Yeah, but like I say, I'm still waiting for version 1.0.0.0.0.1... ;) Thanks for answering the lazy question, all the same.

 

So back to my original meta-question - do you/others find it at all tedious to play mostly/only mage characters when it comes to having slightly more micro-management in terms of party placement and SP management (compared to more dedicated tanks that can just walk up and kill single targets)? Or maybe I'm making too much of the issue. Like I say, I've always done two tanks/one priest/one mage, but I'm thinking of mixing in more magic this time around.

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I don't think there's any more micro-management at all. Yes, I take maybe 2-10 seconds to position my mage before throwing a lightning spray. He also deals in one turn what a dual-wielder deals in like 8 of his slightly shorter turns, soooo...

 

SP management in this game? Not much of it. Mages have zero need for it and priests can just throw Smite or buff when their big guns aren't needed.

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OK, I'm becoming more convinced to switch one of my DW tanks over to a mage(16)/priest(8) combo. Last thing - how useful do you find First Aid and/or the Fast Recovery trait in the mid/late-game? You'll see I'm considering the 8 trained points of First Aid, plus one FR trait for each player, but curious how that would eventually play out in terms of post-battle SP recovery.

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The only magic immune monsters are in Garzahd's Fortress until you break the ward with Demonslayer and then you can use magic on them. With 20% minimum to hit chance instead of the previous 5% chance you don't even need to raise strength to hit better if you can heal for a few rounds until you do hit.

 

I did get through the game on torment difficulty with a two priest and two mage party. When all of them get to adrenaline rush you can have 12 overlapping area effect spells in a single round.

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Bonam   

So, something like:

 

Priest 1 (main tank):

14 priest spells

10 spellcraft

10 resistance

8 melee

10 hardiness

10 parry

1 cave lore

 

Priest 2:

14 priest spells

10 spellcraft

10 resistance

8 melee

10 hardiness

7 TU

3 free points

 

Mage 1:

16 mage spells

10 spellcraft

10 resistance

8 melee

10 hardiness

3 TU

1 AL

5 free points

 

Mage 2:

16 mage spells

10 spellcraft

10 resistance

8 melee

10 hardiness

4 TU

1 AL

4 free points

 

Options for the 12 free points:

- could do 13 in AL to get the spells early + 4 resistance

- could do parry on all those characters for more survivability

- could get first aid for SP recovery

- could get luck for more resistance

- the free points on the mages could go to priest spells for extra flexibility in healing/buffing

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Keep in mind that you need at least 2 AL (not Sage Lore and not Vahnatai Lore) to get Dispel Barrier maxed, and there are 4 points of VL. So it's really a question of

 

2 AL + 2 traits

2 AL + 3 traits -- get level 3 spells on time

13 AL -- get level 3 spells on time, get some earlier than above, and get everyone to 11 Resistance.

 

Thus, you exchange 11 skill points for 2-3 traits, 4 Resistance, and some earlier spells. I do think that an 11th point of Resistance is worth at least 2 points of most anywhere else you'd put that skill point, so I think it's a fair trade.

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OK, I'm becoming more convinced to switch one of my DW tanks over to a mage(16)/priest(8) combo. Last thing - how useful do you find First Aid and/or the Fast Recovery trait in the mid/late-game? You'll see I'm considering the 8 trained points of First Aid, plus one FR trait for each player, but curious how that would eventually play out in terms of post-battle SP recovery.

That's reasonable. The 8 trained points of First Aid are certainly reasonable, eventually. I'd just save, buy them and test it out. If you wait for a level up you can test out the trait with them as well. If the trait really does mean 5% then I'm not sure it's worth buying -- at least not if it's 5% of 8, that makes it worth much less than the trained points.

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Bonam - a completionist will also want 8 TU on one character for the level 3 Icy Rain book - so your Priest 2 would need to take Nimble Fingers x2 (EDIT: or tinker's gloves + Nimble Fingers x1 - thanks Slarty) for that. Or not, if you don't care about the book.

 

Slarty - great, thanks. I'll mess around with the trait, though I frankly can't think of any other urgent place to put my excess crazy 24 trait points within my above plan.

 

In general on this topic, I personally need to have at least one DW tank in my party - it might not be "optimal" (especially on Torment) in terms of the ridiculous power of magic damage, but having one dedicated double ginsu knife is just too damn fun. :)

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Bonam   

With 8+3 first aid and no FA traits, I get about 10 spell points back after a typical fight in a dungeon. In said typical fight, my casters (in my current 2 melee 1 priest 1 mage party) will usually use 40-60 spell points. So you're talking about a ~20% increase in how long you can spend fighting between town runs by getting ~10 first aid.

 

This might have more of an impact in the 4 caster parties we are discussing, since each caster would only cast half as many spells before all the enemies were dead. If one was to dump the 12 free points mentioned above (subtracting 2 for the necessary AL Slarti mentioned) into first aid, get 8 trainable points, and run with the +9 first aid available from items, you might get ~30 SP back per typical fight, which with 4 casters might work out to almost being SP self-sufficient.

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If you run 3 mages (give one 8 in priest spells, sure) you can rely on Lightning Spray, and cut your SP use by quite a lot with no further investment of skill points needed. I might prefer 2 priests, but I think I'd do 3 mages before putting actual skill points into First Aid.

 

(I mean, keep in mind, most dungeons you can just leave and go to town when you feel like it, and for the few that aren't like that, epots)

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Bonam   

Keep in mind that you need at least 2 AL (not Sage Lore and not Vahnatai Lore) to get Dispel Barrier maxed, and there are 4 points of VL. So it's really a question of

 

Bonam - a completionist will also want 8 TU on one character for the level 3 Icy Rain book - so your Priest 2 would need to take Nimble Fingers x2 for that. Or not, if you don't care about the book.

 

Thanks, good points. Updated above.

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Thanks, Bonam - that's a useful reference. I'll do some testing when I get to the point of access for the FR trait. And I forgot about the tinker's gloves; right you are, Slarty.

 

So I think I've pretty much settled on my tank/priest x1.5/mage x2 party - updating my prior post. Thanks for the advice folks.

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That's actually what I'm running now, and that convinced me there was no point in bothering with melee.

 

Human Fighter:

7+2 Quick Action

8+2 Dual Wielding

7+2 Lethal Blow

Negotiator, Strength x5, Endurance x3, Health Traits x3, Mighty Blows x3, DW Traits x2, Parry Mastery x2, Riposte Mastery x2, Sage Lore, Recovery, Fast Recovery

QA is really not worth it. QA by itself is all but useless, and while DW and LB are both decent, they aren't worth the point-and-a-half cost they essentially half while buried behind QA. But if nothing else, take a point of QA and put it into LB :p

 

Why Riposte mastery? Riposte doesn't block hits, and the damage it returns is pretty pitiful.

 

Human Priest:

10+2 Melee Weapons

Negotiator, Intelligence x5, Health Traits x3, Elemental Focus x5, Healing Focus x5, Nimble Fingers x2, Sage Lore, Recovery, Fast Recovery

Why not 8+2?

Healing Focus seems totally unnecessary.

 

Human Mage:

Negotiator, Intelligence x5, Health Traits x3, Elemental Focus x5, Summoning Focus x3, Swordmage x4, Sage Lore, Recovery, Fast Recovery

You may find you don't need 4 Swordmage. It's 10% allowance a pop on top of the base 5%, and I'm currently struggling to find compelling uses for even two levels of Swordmage.

 

Human Mage/Priest:

10+2 Melee Weapons

9+2 Hardiness

MW over Hardiness?

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Slarty - great feedback; I was unsure about some of those traits.

 

1) I'll dump Riposte Mastery x2 in favor of the extra Endurance x2 traits to get to max Endurance - otherwise, I can't think of anything more important for the fighter's traits.

 

2)&3) I see your point on the Healing Focus/Swordmage x4 seeming somewhat unnecessary, but again, I don't see much urgent need for trait points elsewhere (unless maybe in Endurance?).

 

4) I was trying to get 15 in weapons for all characters to get Adrenaline Rush without having to rely on equipment bonuses - so that's the reasoning behind the 10 in melee for all. But I guess if money is as plentiful as you say, maybe I can just train everyone in thrown weapons +2 as well to make up for dropping melee to 8+2 from 10+2 and still get that "natural" AR access (assuming in A2:CS, each point in bows and thrown counts as a full battle discipline point, and not only a half point as in earlier games)?

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Blessing Focus is useful for whoever is your Haste caster. It can have an actual impact on duration, and BF's is short by default, and you care about it. I'd take Luck over some of those traits too. And though I might be crazy, I'd consider the XP traits.

 

I think the half point thing was only in A5-6? I only vaguely remember it, anyway.

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I'm definitely confusing my Avernums these days - good to know bows/thrown contribute fully to disciplines now (as they should!). I also noticed Lethal Blow is now (apparently?) no longer applied to magic damage, so I removed those unnecessary Lethal Blow +2s from my three magic users.

 

As for traits, hadn't thought about the XP traits - they generally weren't too great an investment in older games. So which of my current traits (I've edited my original post) would you suggest switching out for Luck x2 and XP x2?

 

And looky, this thread done got stickied. :cool:

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Lilith   

Are there no encounters of note that have magic immune (i.e. can only be damaged by physical attacks) enemies in A2:CS?

 

Nope. There are enemies with specific immunities, but none that are immune to all three of energy, fire and cold. (In fact, I don't think there are even any that are immune to both energy and fire, and energy immunity is rare in general.) As previously mentioned, though, there will be one endgame area that's a pain if you don't have at least one character who can hit things reliably with swords.

 

Keep in mind that you need at least 2 AL (not Sage Lore and not Vahnatai Lore) to get Dispel Barrier maxed, and there are 4 points of VL. So it's really a question of

 

You've got your wires crossed a little here: the 2 AL is for the other book in that area, the one that's mandatory for a main plot quest. So it's actually even more important to fit in those two points of Arcane Lore. Might as well get at least one of those points early so you can learn Ritual of Sanctification before leaving the demo area.

 

You may find you don't need 4 Swordmage. It's 10% allowance a pop on top of the base 5%, and I'm currently struggling to find compelling uses for even two levels of Swordmage.

 

Two levels of Swordmage are pretty easy to get some use out of: a breastplate plus a heavy shield will already get you to 30-35%. 4 is almost certainly overkill, though.

 

Blessing Focus is useful for whoever is your Haste caster. It can have an actual impact on duration, and BF's is short by default, and you care about it. I'd take Luck over some of those traits too. And though I might be crazy, I'd consider the XP traits.

 

Maybe not all that crazy: there was a point in the early game where my whole party didn't have anything better to use a trait slot for than Improved Endurance, because all the other traits I wanted were either bought up to the maximum rank for my level already or just not available yet. If the XP traits make a difference of even one level than they'll be better than an extra point of Endurance in the long run.

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Two levels of Swordmage are pretty easy to get some use out of: a breastplate plus a heavy shield will already get you to 30-35%. 4 is almost certainly overkill, though.

 

I'm not quite clear on how Swordmage/casting mage spells in encumbering armor works. If you start with the ability to cast mage spells in up to 5% encumbering armor, and each Swordmage trait adds 10% to that, how would only two Swordmage traits (10% + 10% + 5% = 25% encumbrance as max for mage spells) allow you to get to 30-35% encumbrance without incurring a spell penalty?

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Unawares   

My strategy is very similar to what's been described here. Everyone's a human caster, everyone gets hardiness and resist (although one character will only hit 9 resist by level 35), everyone will have access to adren rush.

 

But beyond that there's enough skills/traits to try some things just for "flavor".

 

So I've got an Armored Mage locksmith; a somewhat pacifistic Tank Priest healer/buffer/porcupine-wannabe; a Lucky Priest; and a Berserker Mage acrobat/archer. (Will have 2 arcane lore, and full cave lore.)

 

Hoping that will make it a bit more interesting...

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If anyone takes an XP trait on some but not all of your characters, PLEASE keep track of how it does and report back. I know in the past those traits worked a lot better on big chunks of XP than the tiny chunks that most XP comes in, so it would be good to know how much difference it makes each level.

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Lilith   

I'm not quite clear on how Swordmage/casting mage spells in encumbering armor works. If you start with the ability to cast mage spells in up to 5% encumbering armor, and each Swordmage trait adds 10% to that, how would only two Swordmage traits (10% + 10% + 5% = 25% encumbrance as max for mage spells) allow you to get to 30-35% encumbrance without incurring a spell penalty?

 

It wouldn't; you'd need 3. But if you can use 3, you can definitely use 2. Even a single Blessed Breastplate is enough to bring you over the limit with 1 Swordmage.

 

By the way, while the proliferation of to-hit bonuses on items has been greatly cut back compared to EftP, to-hit bonuses from waveblades do still count toward reducing encumbrance for mages. This is probably more relevant in theory than in practice, since you'd normally rather just take an extra level of Swordmage and use a shielding knife instead.

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Keep in mind that there are a few (well, at least one -- and I think another later) gorgeous, full-protection sets of armor that don't encumber at all. So your first mage will have his Swordmage needs reduced quite substantially.

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Thanks, Lilith; I get it - so I'll probably max at Swordmage x3. And Slarty, I'll look out for those armors; they might free up another trait or two to test out the XP bonus traits. Again, I vaguely recall they only added barely another level by the endgame in A:EFTP (nothing to sneeze at, but not mind-blowing) due to only tacking 5-9% onto the diminishing monster XP returns, but I could be misremembering and/or they could be better this time around, depending on how XP is distributed.

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Nobear   

Question - Does Summoning Focus affect the level of creatures summoned by Simulacrum? Might it be worth it if it does, for the pure mage in a party similar to Mikus's?

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Good question - I was also wondering whether that trait pick was worthwhile compared to maybe the Luck traits or something else. 2 extra summoned monster levels per Summoning Focus trait sounds really good if you actually use summons, but I'm not sure how it works out in practice - or if it works at all with Simulacrum.

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Nobear   

Mikus, I mostly like your template, but I tweaked it a bit.

 

The biggest change I made was to give both mages 8 Priest Spells, so I dropped the TU and luck on the first mage. I kept the priest with 6 TU, but I took Nimble Fingers on all PCs. To do this:

a. for the fighter, I dropped Recovery and Fast Recovery.

b. for the mages, I dropped 1 Swordmage and Fast Recovery.

 

If Summoning Focus doesn't apply to Simulacrum, I might drop those traits, another in Swordmage and Recovery, and put 5 in Endurance instead. Endurance is just as valuable a trait as Int, since it frees you to assign more Int with the same health pool if you want.

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Nobear - great ideas; I'm stealing them! :) Recovery on the fighter is probably redundant with his QA, and the loss of Fast Recovery on everyone except for the "main" priest (it makes sense for him at least to have that from a roleplaying perspective) is more than compensated for by having 3 Mass Healers. I'm updating my older post with your suggestions; good one.

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Nobear   

Actually, I decided I'm going to give the Discipline Blade to my first mage, so I can save money on weapons training and only put 6 points into Melee Weapons, and those extra 2 points can go back into luck.

 

And thanks, I'm glad you liked it, and I'm glad you inspired me to make a great party in the first place! Starting it on Torment now :D.

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Nobear   

What I really like is that, since the luck points are kind of spare points, if I find myself wanting to read a spell book earlier, I can just put one or two extra in AL. Later!

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Good question - I was also wondering whether that trait pick was worthwhile compared to maybe the Luck traits or something else. 2 extra summoned monster levels per Summoning Focus trait sounds really good if you actually use summons, but I'm not sure how it works out in practice - or if it works at all with Simulacrum.

I see no reason it wouldn't work with SImulacrum, but that would be pretty time-consuming to test.

 

Summons are basically never going to be as effective at dealing damage as your party members are, so you are basically getting slightly better survivability. Maybe worth it; not sure, but not high priority.

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Right, I was planning on using summons more as meatshields for tough boss fights, but I still might change up a couple of those traits; I'm only at level 3 so far. Going back to the XP thing, it'd be great if anyone who's further along could post some data - or I'll just test out the XP traits myself later (comparing characters with one and both XP traits to characters with no XP traits). If I do and nobody else has come up with much in the meantime, I'll post what I found.

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Some XP results, done with new parties running through Fr Ganrick and bits of pieces of surrounding areas for a few on-level enemies:

 

One trait (+5%) earns nothing extra that I could see on overlevelled kills, but got ~17 exp extra from Vidican's exp reward (at level 3). This was a few hundred exp so that's not too far behind the 5% claim.

 

Two traits (+9%) earns maybe a tiny bit extra on overlevelled kills (unclear) but after some more rewards and on-level kills, ended up ~21 exp ahead on, again, a few hundred exp.

 

Let's assume that maybe half the bonus exp goes away due to tiny amounts and rounding down. That's less kind than the data, but maybe there are more tiny exp amounts in reality and fewer chunk rewards? (Or maybe the opposite is true, but let's be conservative.)

 

If one PC is higher level than the others, they will SLOWLY close the gap, but it's pretty slow. A lot of us have seen that from the Dahris-Bok segment. It seems that even given a big gap, about half of it will remain by the endgame. This dwindling effect is presumably smaller on smaller gaps because the PCs will spend proportionately less time at different levels.

 

So, somewhat conservatively, in terms of exp that stays with us to endgame, let's reduce the expected +90 exp per level to +45 and then to +30. (For the levels with just the first trait, that's +17.) And let's gradually reduce the lost-over-time penalty, so let's wildly estimate:

 

level 3-5: +17

level 6-10: +30

level 11-15: +33

level 16-20: +36

level 21-25: +40

level 26-30: +45

any levels from wisdom crystals at the end: +45

 

That gives us an expected exp advantage around endgame with both traits, of just about 1000 exp or 1 full level, possibly with a tiny further advantage if you do wisdom crystal alchemy.

 

Some of my assumptions here could turn out to be incorrectly but I'm going to tentatively suggest that these traits are about half a level each, conservatively, and therefore *are* worthwhile for humans, given that you will eventually reach the dregs of traits and skills.

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Also, money. I tracked the actual amounts of money I gathered, and spent, during different game segments. I was going to wait till I finished for this, but I'm debating a new run-through to watch certain things closely, so here's what I have so far, in case it's useful for anyone's estimates:

 

Chapter 1

Gathered just about 14,000

 

Chapter 2

Gathered about 3800 more

 

As of reaching Magi clearance (mostly without dungeons)

Gathered about 12800 more

 

As of reaching Crown clearance

Gathered about 23600 more

 

Currently have gathered about 17000 more and haven't really touched any higher-level dungeons or outside areas, plus still have some mid-level ones to do

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Edgwyn   

Slartibus, is that with the Negotiate trait? Also, does that negotiate trait stack, where it makes sense to not sell anything until your whole party is level 8 and you have given each of them Negotiate?

 

Thanks

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Triumph   

Is there a maximum on the amount of gold you can carry? I know in past games I've had to be careful not to waste gold by selling a huge pile of stuff while I was carrying full wallet.

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Thanks for the XP trait data, Slarty! Barely one extra level at endgame is about what I expected (that's also how the traits worked out in A:EFTP), so IMO they're not really worth it - the difference between (say) a level 33 and a level 34 party isn't enough for me to justify bumping two other traits, even for humans. But of course, that all depends on your party build. Anyway, good to know.

 

And Triumph - I remember gold having a max carry amount back in the original Avernum trilogy, but I didn't think it's been like that for the past several games. Best to let the experts weigh in, though; I'm still only at level 6.

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