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G5 Class/Gear/Skill Information for character creation


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Difficulty is always Torment.  Keep in mind most conclusions are based around fairly optimized characters that do everything they can to get as powerful as possible pursuing a certain ending, collecting all the quest skillups and canisters and charms and such.  As other people have pointed out over the years from challenge runs, any class can beat the game on Torment, sometimes even with additional self-imposed restrictions.  G5 in particular has a nasty Challenge Area that negates quite a few character builds (at least on Torment).


HP, SP, Essence

Table rearranged and extended from:
https://spiderwebforums.ipbhost.com/topic/8919-hp-sp-and-essence-formulasg5/

By Essence, then HP, then the Skill Cost Groups they belong to then the mostly-irrelevant Spell Energy:

CLASS		ESSENCE		HIT POINTS	STRONG	WEAK	CLASSRES	SPELLENERGY	
Shock Troop	10 + 8/8	23 + 6/8	Shaping	Magic	No		20 + 14/8
Shaper		10 + 8/8	15 + 5/8	Shaping	Battle	Yes		20 + 12/8
Lifecrafter	10 + 8/8	15 + 5/8	Shaping	Battle	No		28 + 12/8
Agent		10 + 7/8	15 + 6/8	Magic	Shaping	Yes		20 + 14/8
Infiltrator	10 + 7/8	15 + 6/8	Magic	Shaping	No		28 + 14/8
Sorceress	10 + 7/8	23 + 5/8	Magic	Battle	No		20 + 14/8
Warrior		10 + 7/8	23 + 7/8	Battle	Magic	No		20 + 8/8
Guardian	40 + 6/8	19 + 7/8	Battle	Magic	Yes		20 + 8/8
Servile		10 + 6/8	25 + 7/8	Battle	Shaping	No		16 + 8/8

The base amounts don't matter much, knowing the specific formulae doesn't matter much, the x/8 modifier is the important bit, as it will scale over 50 levels and every point you invest in that stat. 

I've always wanted to play a max-Essence-modifier character that has Strong Magic Skill Group Cost, but... there isn't one.  Agent has 7/8 Essence and Strong Magic and 6/8 HP, Sorceress has 7/8 Essence and Strong Magic and 5/8 HP making her directly inferior for both of my usual builds (especially with the Agent and Shaper's Class Resistance Bonus).  The Sorceress having Medium Shaping instead of Weak unfortunately doesn't give her more Essence (and Shaping and Magic being swapped vs Agent has no effect if you are not investing any Skill Points in either).  Shaper, Lifecrafter, and Shock Trooper all have maximum Essence, but none of them have Strong Magic.

I'd gladly lose the Class Resistance on Agent, AND lose the extra eighth HP (or even quarter HP if it was decided they had to be 4/8 HP to "make it fair", having to buy a couple more Endurance would be well worth it), and even take a big Spell Energy hit for that sweet, sweet Essence... but it wasn't meant to be.

HP
From personal experience, a character stacking defense and HP becomes very difficult to kill earlier than others, while most characters will eventually become *functionally* almost as indestructible by the endgame through a combination of factors (decked out in Golden-Crystal-Artifact gear, gear not mattering because creations take all the damage and you can outheal it, most damage from a battle is negated by stunning the whole field, Blessings, etc).  It mostly doesn't matter if a character has 400HP or 1,000HP if both are resisting nearly all incoming damage, there's a limit on how much abuse you need to be able to survive.  That limit is reached by basically everyone eventually, even with no investment in Endurance for some characters, and Endurance is a pretty poor investment for most.  Do note that playing stuff like an Infiltrator without utilizing their strengths WILL get you destroyed by anything and everything that hits you for a good portion of the game.
HP in general...  "get more damage or battlefield control instead".  There are games I've finished with literally 1-2 Endurance because of stuff like the Gruesome Charm, HP is mostly irrelevant if you don't mind the tactical restrictions a lack of it imposes on the early game.  It's not all that unusual to have enemies throwing four digits of damage around in G5, but most of it will be resisted.

SP
Once I did a Battle Magic Servile just for giggles, the only time Spell Energy was a hindrance.  Spell Energy has never *really* mattered, I find that if I am having Spell Energy problems, a couple points of Intelligence will fix it and I will probably want those Intelligence anyway for an extra Drayk or something.  Running out of Spell Energy on an actual casting class meant I was playing wrong, so unless you're trying to be a blastercaster as a Warrior, this doesn't really matter.  Agents and the like have no problems casting a whole battery of party buffs and then jumping right into combat with half their energy gone and it's still plenty.

EP
As for class Essence modifier, the difference between 8/8 full mod and 7/8 medium mod will be fairly minor on classes that aren't stacking huge amounts of Intelligence and specializing directly into maximizing creation power.  I'm not certain what the end-game total difference is between a Shaper and a Servile with both at 20+ Intelligence, but towards the end in the Challenge Area, the struggle seemed to be the power of my creations and keeping them from getting oneshot every freakin' round.
If you're going hard into shaping creations, the Essence Points modifier may make a huge difference (especially when "trying to maximize Essence" changes Skill Point allocations) but if you are doing something else, a medium or even weak modifier means fairly little except that the good buffs won't be as easily accessible as early if you have a few creations around.

 

Class-Based Resistance

"It's the result of the 3 loyalist classes being directly edited for NPC use in G4, and then having the NPC-style resists accidentally preserved in G5."
The Shaper faction classes inherit resistances from their base monster type (at least in G5), which by itself is insanely powerful given how high the bonuses are.  For whatever reason these resistances do NOT show up on the equipment/character screens, but they do work.

"They do not break the 90% cap."  All resistances are capped at 90% for damage, even with these bonuses, though there's some variance in just how much is resisted (it's not all that uncommon to resist 93 or 94% of something sometimes, I don't know exactly how it happens, I've seen plenty of stuff like "takes 17 damage (269 resisted)").  You can get pretty close to all of the caps at once, except Poison and Acid (unless you wear a Jade Ring and the Runed Jade Necklace if you *really* want to give up other options), but 45% poison and 68% Acid resistance is fine.  I'm still keeping a Jade Ring with a Golden Crystal on it handy for the Challenge Area, I'm remembering that AoE aura that was doing 200+ Acid damage to me through 68% resistance.  I'm fairly sure Mental Resistance is in direct opposition to enemy spell power like accuracy is with dodging.  The ever-so-common d20 fumble exists with Mental Magic and resistance, or "5% and 95% caps" as some people call them... any enemy with 80% Mental Resistance doesn't necessarily resist 80% of all attempts, but it additively reduces your chance to hit with those spells by 80% (if you have 180% hit chance, you're still going to land it all but the can-always-fail-5% of the time).  Your character is completely immune to some mental effects like Charm (or they simply cannot ever be avoided, like Wrack and Slow... though I don't know of anything hostile that uses Wrack).

Keep in mind that any item that grants an armor bonus gives half as much to all damage resistances.  Upgrading from a 34% Shaped Plate to a 44% Puresteel Plate gives you an extra 5% to the other resistances, that's part of how they all get so high.
These three classes get an enormous bonus, and assuming you forge Golden Crystals into everything and are geared well, the Shaper bonus is the best and comparatively the Guardian bonus is terrible.  Before their Class Bonus, even an Agent ends up at 85% armor eventually, so the Guardian's bonus to physical comes at the cost of NO Energy, the one you want most!  The Shaper's extra 20% fire and cold over an Agent (losing 10% Magic, which will be capped anyway) would be pretty nice.  Actually capping resistances isn't necessary to become "functionally as tough as is necessary", but it may be the difference between reaching sufficient levels 80% of the way through the game or 40%.
Shapers: 40% physical, 50% fire, cold and energy.
Guardians: 60% physical, 30% fire and cold.
Agents: 40% physical, 30% fire and cold, 60% energy.

My conclusion here is that the most important part of class selection is which class has skill point cost-groups that best fit what you want to play (probably don't pick Lifecrafter or Shock Trooper if you intend to be a melee character with no creations), whether you want to tolerate a more difficult early game for better endstats, and whether you want the Shaper/Guardian/Agent "probably-unintended" resistance bonuses.


So, other stats and their restrictions:

Trainers

I like to squeeze out all the bonuses I can be bothered to make myself go for.  In Geneforge 5, this means not putting any Skill Points into your Combat skills until you can get Training from Manola in Isenwood (pretty early) and you can get Magic Training from Quothe up at Haria-Kel without even doing any of his quests, Shaping you can Train with Sage Pavyl after you swear to join Alwan's faction.  For most of my characters, Manola's Training is just a moneysink, none of the Combat skills will have any effect on performance.

Character Level

Levels in the high 40's are easy to achieve, 51 is pretty easy if you do nearly everything, 52 *might* be possible, though I'm pretty sure it would require specifically clearing the game in a way that gets maximum benefit from lower experience gains, and then saves ALL the experience gains that actually work at level 51 for level 51.  For example, a quest reward that gives 700 experience at a reward level of 50 gives 380-something at level 50, but EIGHTEEN at level 51.  Quests this high-level don't actually exist, but I wanted to test the *sharp* dropoff at 51.

Strength and weight
Rings, Amulets, and Cloaks weigh 2.5 pounds combined, and they all weigh the same.  Belts weigh up to 5, Boots and Gloves 6 each, Weapons 7, Greaves 13, Shields 16, and Breastplates 20.  There may be a heavier item or two somewhere, but that means generally you won't have to be able to carry more than 75 pounds.  Some classes aren't going to want the heaviest stuff in every slot and sometimes Strength bonuses on gear can make up some of it, and if you aren't buying lots of Strength (won't ever melee) it's pretty cheap in terms of skill points, so other bonuses to more expensive stats on your gear is more worthwhile... you won't need more than a few points at most (just to avoid Action Point and cast penalties).

It seems there are no trainers for Strength, and only one canister, and it's in Control Core B, which seems to be inaccessible until you get Alwan's loyalty quest (doesn't require actually Swearing).  There's a reward from a Rawal quest in Dera, and it requires killing Platano which really aggravates Taygen... both my Agent and my Shaper in G5 ended up needing 13 Strength total, to carry a full 74 pounds.
You can get +1 from a Puresteel Charm from the Bennhold questline, and +1 from the Omnicharm in Sammann's Island (though by the time you get that, you can crush the whole rest of the game, so...).  I could absolutely get away with less weight by wearing a Puresteel Plate instead of a Quicksilver Plate (saves 6 pounds and gives 10% extra armor and 10% hit, lose +1 Dexterity and +1AP).  I like the slightly-more-reliable extra-actions of having more AP.
Mechanics
There are 7 points of Mechanics available from equipment and a charm, no canisters, no quest rewards.  If you need about 16 for almost everything, plan on purchasing 9-10 with skill points if you want to lay your grubby little fingers on all the loot and never have to worry about whether you can get into or through something.

Leadership
There are 5 points of Leadership available from equipment and a charm, no canisters, and I don't see any references to anything higher than 13.  5-7 Leadership purchased through points may be all you ever need if you're trying to avoid overspending, if you make a point of getting the equipment bonuses early.
Dexterity and Quick Action and Luck (Combat Initiative)
Your turn order in combat is determined by these things, and I'm pretty sure there's no RNG to it.  Either you always go before another entity, or always after it.  This means almost every character is going to want some amount of both, or will want to avoid them entirely (if you decide combat order doesn't matter to you).
Quick Action can be Trained in twice, and the Blademaster Charm gives +1, but I'm not seeing any quest rewards or canisters.  Dexterity has a Rawal quest reward.  Luck has the Lucky Charm.

After a little poking around in the Core Foundry with Rawal's Reaper Turrets... 19 Initiative (16 Dexterity and 3 Quick Action) allows me to move faster than the Reapers, while 18 gets me instantly killed.  Lowering Dexterity to where I do NOT move first and then casting Speed on myself does NOT make me then move first, so I believe it's Quick+Dex and nothing else, or... I should poke Luck and see.  With 18 Dex+Quick and 1 Luck, I do not move first.  Add 1 Luck, and I DO.  Reduce Dex by 1, increase Luck by 1, I die instantly.  Increase Luck by 1, I move first again.  Switching back to 4 Dex+3Quick, and 22 Luck, I get killed instantly... at 24 Luck, I move first again.  It seems initiative is Dexterity+Quick Action+(half of Luck).  Given Luck is cheaper than both of the others AND gives resistance bonuses AND chance to hit with Mental spells and such, I'm not buying either of those others until I have to.

At 5 Dexterity, 4 Quick Action, 6 Luck, Thistlewood Baton Bandits move faster than me while the other enemies here don't.

At 15 Dexterity, my Kyshakk moves faster than the West Shadow Road Stinging Clawbugs, but I don't at the equivalent of 14 (5 and 4 and 11 Luck).
Mental Magic
Anecdotally, you can afford taking care of all the other stuff and have enough spellpower for it to almost always work if you make a point of putting every spare skill point you've got into it (against anything that isn't outright immune).  Mental Magic requires fairly heavy investment for things like Charm to work on big stuff, and may require almost total dedication to work in the Challenge Area.

6 Mental Magic, 3 Spellcraft, Antonia's Roamers near the inn have a 25% chance to resist Daze.
8 Mental Magic, 8 Spellcraft, Shresss the Drayk in the tunnel had a 26% chance to resist Daze.  2 more Spellcraft, and a Clawbug Queen had 15% resist.

8 Mental Magic, 12 Spellcraft, the Unbound near the Citadel had an 87% resist rate on Strong Daze (I'm just barely starting to overcome their resistance).  The Assault Podlings were 20-22%.  Just personally confirmed only the Unbound in the swamp itself count for Quothe's quest (or at least that one didn't), DENIED!

8 Mental Magic, 12 Spellcraft, the three Rotghroths outside one of the forts have a 22-24% chance to resist Strong Daze, and 13% in West Okavano.

In Middle Shadow Road I was poking around without my creations and tripped a mine that spawned an Unstable Wingbolt, so I decided to play with it... Daze, Essence Shackles, Wrack, Terror, Lightning Aura, Burning Spray, Ice Spray spam, everything landed and the thing never overcame Terror (the only time I *ever* used Terror).

11 Mental, 13 Spellcraft, fighting the two Unbound at once in Gorash-Kel, the one I targetted for Charm had a 37% chance to resist.

11 Mental, 20 Spellcraft, the six War Tralls in Okavano have a 22% resist on Strong Daze, just means I Charm the only one that resisted.  The Bunker Tralls with 4500HP nearby, the ONE I tried to Charm resisted at 5%, but I'm pretty sure that's just a d20 fumble.  Jorael-Eye in Western Passes has a 68% chance to resist Charm.

Habas-Eye in the Lost Dera Vaults still has a 95% chance to resist Strong Daze.

16 Mental, 21 Spellcraft, Patchwork Crushers have a 38% chance to resist Daze (the low-level one).

The Rotdhizons in Sammann's Island had 78% resistance to Strong Daze.

Blessing Magic

Bennhold's place has a canister for this.  Because of the Captain's Shiv and Captain's Boots, +4 Blessing Magic is available easily from items and another +2 can be Trained, and I think everybody starts with at least 1 or 2, gives 7-8 for no investment at all.  Blessings' duration increases with power, but most of the effects do not, so simply being able to cast them at all is enough.  Nobody actually has to buy any Blessing Magic, so save the Skill Points for something else.  Later on, the Firesteel Gauntlets are basically all you'll need to cast any Blessing, and since they give +5 to all non-healing spells and +2 each to three creation stats, you'll be wearing them all the time anyway. 

Battle Magic

With 16 Battle Magic and 21 Spellcraft, I was getting Wracked Kills against Core Golems (the regenerating ones that touch the stone for presumably aoe damage on you, they never got a chance when I fought them) for 660-740 damage.  Comparatively, had a Shock Trall get a few 500's (twice), Rotdhizon had a few thousand-damage turns.

Intelligence and Endurance

While neither of these are necessary in huge amounts for most builds, more for free is always good.  If you're willing to turn in your servile friend as a rebellious actor to Rawal when he first asks, you can get a "free" point of both stats.  "Free" depending on how much it weighs on you, gameplay-wise apparently it doesn't matter.  Also the Geneforge gave me +1 Intelligence.  Make sure you keep your Helft Papers for Shaper Alexie, she'll give you a Skein of Wisdom for another +1.  The Essence Charm (HER and Intelligence) is only available from a Rawal quest (the same one that gives Strength).  Intelligence helps everybody a little no matter how much of it you already have.  After I threw a couple points here (it started to cost 6 and I stopped, 4 skillups) with the charm and quest bonuses, I couldn't put a dent in my Spell Energy even if I tried.  I seem to be regenerating 44 Energy per turn right now at 10 total Intelligence, so... you probably never need more than 4 skillups in Intelligence for Spell Energy.  Maybe even less if you choose a 14/8 modifier class.  From memory, I don't think I have *ever* paid more than 10 skill points for Intelligence, even on my mass-powerful-creations runs.  Eventually there's a point where it's simply more efficient to do something else.

AP (*THE* personal power stat)

If there's one thing that has held true for me, from Exile and Nethergate through Avernum and Geneforge, it's probably "Boots of Speed on every character possible."  The first thing I'm doing as soon as I unlock Storm Plains is finding a way to get my Assassin's Boots.  At some point, not having two attacks per round is just crippling yourself.
The third extra point of +AP is only going to increase your chance of getting two guaranteed attacks from 50% to 66%.  The Assassin's Boots are godly for that first 50% chance, or any combination of two +1AP items, but the usefulness of more than two diminishes rapidly for ensuring second attacks.  It can *still* be one of your best possible stats when you need more reliable extra actions.

I *really* like the Quicksilver Plate and Quicksilver Bulwark (in particular because there aren't any particularly great shields), and having +4AP is powerful for reliably getting enough AP to use Speed procs for free item usage.  Sometimes you even get 2... roll 12 AP, attack with a speed proc for -5 leaving 7, two items at 3AP each, then an attack.  Sometimes it also helps to "out-roll" stuns, which remove AP from your pool... getting stunned and only losing 2AP is good, and if you would've had 12, you still get two attacks that turn even with no Speed, and getting Glaahked didn't slow you down much at all.  Even 1 extra AP can swing things in your favor.  With 8 AP, you can attack and hope for Speed to proc for a second attack from 3 AP, or you can use an item and get a guaranteed first attack from 5 AP.  Given 9 (perhaps you got stunned down from 12 by some Aura of Flames Eyebeast crap if they still do that in G5), you can do the same "attack and hope for a Speed proc", but if Speed does proc, now you have 4 AP and are guaranteed to be able to use an item and attack again.  You can do the reverse and use an item and then attack from 6 AP and if speed procs you get a second attack.  Either option can choose to use two items and then attack with no hope of a second attack, of course.  Being able to determine whether you need a more reliable attack or more reliable item usage is a power shift you wouldn't have had without those few extra AP.

I tested this a bit with a quick addition of +30AP, and I get "only a few" extra AP far, FAR too often for it to be randomly assigned per point of AP.  A large amount of the time I get almost nothing, implying it's most likely "an amount of AP between 1 and maximum, randomly".  Also if you get more than 32AP at once, the game overflows for some reason and your turn is skipped entirely, sometimes several turns in a row if you keep rolling over 32 (of course this is completely irrelevant without cheating, but that's how it works).

Shaping

There's a belt with +5 Healing Craft, with permanent bonuses and charms that'll take care of all you need, and there aren't really better options.  There are Trainers for these, so you can get +2 to them all.  To make max-tier creations in their upgraded forms, you need 6 skill.  There's +1 on Shaper Robes and Essence Chitin, and +1 to each available across two amulets.  The second step of the Lifebringer Girdle Artifact gives +2 to all Shaping stats, allowing you to shape *anything* with no Shaping skill investment and cast all the Healing Craft spells with no investment either.  I'm making sure I join Taygen at least once, for the Healing Craft canister in the Lost Dera Vault only accessible through one of his quests.  Make sure you turn in the location of the Trakovite Lair to Agent Micheline for the Physician's Charm.  Nothing happens to them gameplay-wise.  I don't think there are permanent rewards that give bonuses to individual Shaping skills besides Training, but... I didn't record them, if they exist.  Picking up ALL the bonuses to Healing Craft, you end up with more points than you really need.  You can skip getting access to Taygen's faction-specific area in the Dera Lost Vaults if you don't care that much.

Creations and auxiliary effects

Early on, Cryoa are good for Ice damage, Artila are cheap and apply Poison (SAYS "acid", it's not), Roamers are a smidge expensive but they apply Poison (SAYS "acid", it's not), Plated Artila cost a little more but apply Acid (actually Acid), and a Vlish can melee to help with Poison instead of the other two and can magic attack to apply Curse (reduced damage which matters on early Torment and becomes irrelevant, reduced chance to hit a target which basically never matters on Torment).

Up to 45 points of Poison damage.  Eventually just ignore Poison, unless it's something so resistant nothing else does appreciable damage.
Up to 90 points of Acid damage.  Essence Blade doesn't seem to make the DoTs stack any higher.
Up to 180 points of Magic damage.  Kyshakk can do this, their breath is Lightning Aura, Unstable Wingbolts too.

Spread over 4-5 creations, with War Blessing and Speed always up, each creation having 10 extra damage dice (which is also 50% more chance to hit), it helps keep disposable cheapies relevant for a while.  Blessings last long enough with a little Spellcraft, and that 10 dice per attack is for EVERY round after you cast those buffs, even with small-die creatures it'll add up to a lot of additional power, and on Rotdhizons it can be 40 dice from four swings.  Don't be afraid to play support if that's your greatest strength by-the-numbers.  If you can finally make some creations that can stick around a while, it's most powerful to make a creation as soon as you can and level it up (because their base stats are always half their level, and you can level them with experience beyond what you can get from +Shaping skill unless their Experience caps them at level 61 and you specifically put most of your Skill Points into shaping them stronger than that).  Their Strength and Endurance is about all that matters (that's all of their Hit and Damage dice, Dexterity is only dodge, and doesn't even give Missile Weapon damage to players in G5).  Everything else, it's more efficient to have more creations because the cost of improving Strength on creations keeps going up to where you get "more total Strength on bigger dice with more creations".  Reiterating, it's efficient to level creations with experience, actually using their Skill Points to make them stronger is less good than just having more of them.  I try to make sure my creations can do damage per round at least twice their essence cost... the good ones meet this easily, some are closer to 3, some maybe more with a wild variance (Quick Action procs or not, etc).  Things like Shock Tralls can put out 4 or 5 times their Essence cost per round in damage, but are only middling in survivability and won't work well in the Challenge Area where everything AND its mother will oneshot them.  A Shock Trall at level 47 has 674 HP, a War Trall at level 46 has 1,011 and costs 63 less Essence.

Tralls cost 144, Shock Tralls 207 (same stats, 12AP instead of 8, guaranteed two attacks for 200% damage instead of 35% chance of two with Speed, that's about 50% more damage for 40% more cost with more healing necessary).

Rotghroth costs 127, Rotdhizons 183... Rotdhizons have a few more levels, several hundred more HP, 12AP instead of 8, and both come with some Quick Action and Parry (they're FAST and can sometimes get four swings in one go, plus Acid, they're an *excellent* deal).

Wingbolts cost 161, Unstable Wingbolts 183 (12AP instead of 8, but they do the exact same damage as a Kyshakk, normal Wingbolts do about 100 more direct magical damage than Unstable ones.

Gazers 207, big-dice energy, Kill attack.

Skill Points in general

Even on my most-extremely-specialized playthroughs, I don't think I have ever spent more than 12 Skill Points on anything.  The only time that happened was a min/max Battle Magic Agent in Geneforge 1, because getting all 29 points of Spellcraft and all 29 points of Battle Magic with maximum AP wasn't easy and took a very specific build (and in the earlier Geneforge games, maxing Battle Magic was viable).
If you find any of your skills costing that much to improve, consider *anywhere else* you could put them that would be useful.  More actions per turn, more reliable resistance, more initiative, higher chance of Quick Action if you ever melee, just being able to wear heavier gear if Strength is still cheap enough... Because the cost keeps going up forever, eventually anything you get from it simply isn't worth 2-3 levels in something smaller.  The only time your character needs to be *that* specialized in G5 is maybe if you're trying to Charm boss-level Gazers and Eyebeasts just to shame their family.

Factions, lying to everyone and stealing everything

I won't dig too hard into micromanaging reputation or bouncing from one faction to another, in part because that's... it's simply too much information for me to want to bother.  It's available elsewhere.

1) Alwan will give access to Control Core B without actually Swearing.  Alwan also gives access to one of the best Trainers in the game.  You can repair Control Core B for Alwan and still destroy it later for Litalia.

2) Ghaldring will do the same, giving the quest Break The Line after reporting to Alwan.  Ghaldring only offers his test of loyalty if you do NOT grovel before Khressia during the challenge.  You can get here early by Leadershipping away Khressia's helpers, Leadership Khressia out of the fight too.  You can Leadership past Ghaldring's personal combat test by acting upset about "all this testing being insulting" (requires 8).  I don't intend to actually FINISH Break The Line, but I am sneaking in to get my Crystalline Fibers and this quest unlocks the Secret Access Route.  Make sure you do Mekhen's quest for a point in Charm.

3) Taygen, you can do his quests up until you chase down the Crystal Conduit and have access to his faction-specific area of the Dera Lost Vaults, then give him the Crystal and then ignore him forever.

4) Rawal, apparently killing Platano doesn't make Zephyr Oasis *hostile*, but it does make getting any quests done extremely problematic (people won't even talk to you in the Reaches).  If you want Taygen's rewards, you'll have to do his questline first.  Ganking Platano doesn't ruin anything, as far as I can tell, if you do all the other Dera Reaches quests first.  You can still do and turn in Trahao's quest to kill Balme (or show him your lack of a Control Tool and let him go) after telling Rawal to take a flying leap.  The Helft Papers should have gone to Alexie for the Skein of Wisdom (making that one guy working for Rawal who wants them irrelevant), I think the only thing "anybody else related to Rawal" wants is... Research Notes?  And maybe not even that.

5) Litalia, her first quest to slap Addison is easy, and second quest has a Repository Key that leads to four canisters of Create Drayk, Group Heal, Lightning Aura, and Missile Weapons.  You're supposed to smash them, but you can use them and Leadership Litalia anyway (requires at least 10!).  Is her first Sworn-In quest to release the Shredbugs worth an Agent Cloak to you?  You also gain access to the second quest, to destroy Control Core B.  You can do so after saving it for Alwan without having to Swear to him.  Spreading disease in the Dera Reaches doesn't award anything other than getting to the Council.

If you want, you can Swear to Litalia, get the quest to rescue Lum from Caretaker Eloise (she'll only give her second quest to Trakovites), Mendoa has some Essence Pods and Major Spores, Rummus has a Living Tool for sale.  So... there's nothing here that requires Swearing more than "just swearing and not doing the first faction quest" that isn't available from literally everybody else.  Get her Repository Key and canisters, lie about it, yoink the Symbiotic Cloak out of her dresser (1 Tool at 16 Mechanics), clear out the merchants and sidequests and don't look back.  You can stop being a terrorist now.

6) Astoria, after finding Tholoss in Travald's Crypt, wants you to Swear and gives you a Repository Key for doing so.  There's a couple AoE-Spell Crystals in there, and the usual Agent Cloak reward.  Her bedroom has a Wand of Death, some Reapers, an Essence Pod, Polychromous Shoes, a Mandrake Tincture... Second, Astoria wants you to Break the Line like Ghaldring did, which would unlock the Secret Access Route on accepting the quest.  Crystalline Fibers and some goodies if you've not done it.  If you do finish one of the Break The Line quests here, the next quest from Astoria is to go mess up Kayar's Spire so Taygen can't do his thing.  If you do finish her third faction quest, you get a Golden Crystal and a Demon Fang Talisman.

Because I had to look it up, yes you can get all 5 Repository Keys at once, yes that leaves an area in the southeast part of the Repository near the creature-weakening control panel unopened, no you can't open it, and no there's nothing in there anyway.

Factions, lying a little less and stealing what matters

Personally, it means my best path would have to be one that went straight through the main story with Leadership skips and do it up until I can get into the Taygen-only portion of the Dera Lost Vaults, then join Alwan for the Shaping Trainer, have Shaper Marzan remove the Control Tool (or not, if you want to avoid the -1 Endurance, you can always yank it out right before seeing the Council), do all the quests in Dera Reaches for rewards you want, kill Platano for Rawal, and then basically all the good exclusive faction rewards are had.  Most of the other rewards like Ghaldring's canisters can be stolen. 

Simplest) Or decide you have enough extra +Healing Craft (there's 2 extra points you don't *really* need to be able to cast everything) or just want to join Alwan earlier for the Shaping Trainer... Join Alwan on the way down and never leave.  Still do Dera quests before unaliving Platano if there's anything you want from them.

Equipment and Why

Both my Agent and Shaper ended up wearing the same gear, while pursuing different goals.  Some of these items are *just that good*, they will be ideal for many different builds.

1) Quicksilver Plate, for AP and protection.  Nothing is worth more than AP and a 34% armor chestplate.  Maybe the Shaper Trueweave with +10% HER for creations could be decent, but since it's multiplicative...

2) Lifebringer Girdle for the Healing Craft +5, +2 All Shaping.  Allows you to cast any Healing Craft spell with no investment.  It also allows creation of any creation without Skill Point investment.  Not as specialized as the Medic thingy with +6 Healing Craft, or the Girdle of Victory with +4 All Shaping, but you can have this AND the Victory.  If you take Assassin's Boots (YES), there aren't enough Crystalline Fibers to have both Medic's Sustainer and Victory.  Personally, given the end result, it's +2 All Shaping (from Victory, over Lifebringer) or 3% armor and +1 Healing Craft.  A few creation levels is going to give more power than +1 Healing Craft.

3) Symbiotic Cloak for the +2 Endurance and Creation Endurance.  Perhaps Guardian Cloak if you melee, or Agent Cloak if you need the spell stats, but Endurance was worth far more.

4) Talisman of Might for the +4 Strength, nothing even compares.  If you melee and already have so much Strength that it doesn't have valuable secondary effects anymore, a Runed Jade Necklace or similar for +1 Spellcraft and some Poison and Acid resist isn't bad.  For anyone who only uses Strength to equip things, +4 is twice as high as it gets on any other item AND the Amulet is generally a low-power slot anyway, so... it's just that good.  You won't regret getting one.

5) Quicksilver Bulwark for the extra AP, worth losing a Spellcraft on Agent's Shelter for more reliable extra AP.  Other options are a bit overkill, you'll already have plenty of resistance.

6) Firesteel Gauntlets, +5 to all Magic Spell types, +2 each to 3 different creation stats.  This allows you to cast any Blessing Magic or Mental Magic or Battle Magic spell with no investment, and the Creation Stats aren't bad at all.

7) Firesteel Greaves, +5 Spellcraft.  If you do not melee, these are probably about as good as you can get for anyone.  If you do melee, Blacksteel Greaves will give +5 Quick Action and +5 Parry and +3 Spellcraft (only *so much* Quick Action is useful, the more you get on gear the less you have to buy).

Eight) Assassin's Boots for the +2AP.  Nothing else has +2AP.  I believe the contender was, as always, Gazerskin Sandals with 10% Hostile Effect Resistance and much less weight, but by endgame 10% HER... it hurts to say it with as powerful as %HER is, but it just doesn't matter if you're playing a Shaper Faction Class, maybe doesn't matter for *anyone*.  Golden Crystal everything with high % Armor and you're fine.

9) Forbidden Band for the All Stats.  Maybe Jade Ring in a particular fight or two... maybe, probably not.  +All Stats is just too good.

10) Charmed Falchion, for the 5 Luck (Mental Magic hit, I didn't see anywhere else I could improve this on a weapon more effectively than with the extra 8% HER too).

Depending on what you want to do, there are a few really good options for weapons, but if you don't whack stuff with your stick, I think this is best.

13 Strength total, to carry a full 74 pounds.

The Stuff You Don't Wear (or Probably Shouldn't Try Wearing)

Towards the very end of my Shaper run (which I blitzed through on Casual because I was replaying the whole game for like the sixth time and was only interested in the Challenge Area anyway, it'll be on Torment before I set foot in hell), I managed to scrounge up:

1) 7 Golden Crystals, 4 Eyebeast Eyes (can be crafted into the former with a basic Gemstone).  This'll cover every gear slot with some extra, there may be some more, I didn't do *absolutely* everything.  You cannot use them on your Amulet or Shield, and I personally don't need one on my weapon (no weapon enchantment is useful if you never actually whack stuff with it, Ivory Skull on non-weapons apparently gives 10% chance to hit with everything, could be useful for Mental Magic).

2) 4 Fully-charged Purifying Rain wands, 3 Acid Shower wands, 19 Purifying Rain and 23 Lightning Rain crystals.  I could have made more wands out of a few Rotghroth Fangs and Perfect Drakon Scales, but I didn't think to bother.  The Crafting page doesn't mention crafting big Spores, so... meh.

3) 43 Swamp herbs, 51 Research Notes, 160 Gemstones (I picked those stones up just for giggles to see how many there were).

D) 37 Healing Spores, 31 Major Healing Spores, 17 Restoration Spores, 6 Restoration Potions, 71 Major Healing Pods.

5) 115 Essence Pods.

6) 33 Living Tools left over.  I got to my "maximum minimized Mechanics level" with my first skill points, so I had 16 Mechanics for everything I unlocked.  I gathered all the Infiltrator stuff ASAP without using any Tools I didn't have to, and then went back and cleared everything.  If I encountered a door I couldn't open, I circled it and cleared the area to make sure there wasn't a way inside without Tools, then saved at the door, picked it, reloaded if what was inside was junk.  More Tools or Pods or any canister inside was worth it.  I "wasted" 30 Tools in Gazaki-Uss snatching canisters I could've done quests or paid gold for or whatever, but I'm not very fond of the Drakons and didn't bother.  If you're thorough and efficient, you can have over 60 spare Tools.  I could've had even more had I bothered to *ever* use Unlock, I was more curious about the results without it.

7) Coins.  I don't have a specific number here.  This playthrough, I didn't pick up anything that wasn't a consumable I was going to keep, all the gear and trash and such got left behind.  I picked up all the loose coins I could, and purchased every Tool, Pod, big Spell Crystal, etc.  I never sold anything, paid off people in quests, and I had enough coins from quest rewards and loose change to always be able to buy anything I needed, and ended up capped at 30,000 coins anyway.  This basically means "any stuff you pick up to sell can be put towards Training."

On a playthrough where I tried to maximize my coins without spending much time grabbing stuff worth less than 25-50 (to see how much coin was actually available, rather than how much was needed), having "mostly only completed Mera and not-really started fully clearing Storm Plains yet", I have collected just over 60,000 coins worth of junk.  I don't believe gold is infinite, but there's certainly plenty if you scrounge well and spend wisely.  There's not really any equipment or resources that need to be purchased beyond Essence Pods and Training, and maybe Living Tools if you intentionally spend them for experience or to have lower Mechanics for more Skill Points to spend elsewhere.  After completing all places I can go without angering a faction pretty thoroughly to the point I am level 49, I have "banked" about 118k coins from selling off everything I felt like picking up, that can buy a lot of Training.  The only thing I usually ever buy is Essence Pods, every single one I can get my hands on.  There are enough of everything else to use it liberally and always have plenty, but you can never have enough Essence Pods.  If something mechanically challenging is coming up, it has always been most beneficial to me to take several efficient creations and use Essence Pods to shower them in buffs.  Those Essence Pods indirectly become "available character power".

Eight) Skill counts (at least the notable ones).  I Trained in every creation and spell I'd use (and some I didn't just to see what was available), and grabbed every canister for anything I found, Trained every Skill possible before putting any points in that Skill.  Drayk is 4, Kyshakk 3, Drakon 2 (no Training), Rotghroth 3, War Trall 4, Wingbolt 4, Gazer 2 (no Training).  Major spells, there's at least a few points in everything, and training for these isn't quite so important (you don't need to hit "at least 3" to get a new spell, like you do with new creation types, more levels is more dice but it's a tiny effect outside of Mental Magic).  Strong Daze is 3, Charm is 4.

So that's the arsenal you have to work with (assuming you aren't going to be doing any melee).

 

The Agent (Ernest) Goes To School

Just opened up the door to Samman's Island and I'm pretty sure I'm close to as strong as I can be at just over level 51, this on my Agent.  I've cleared most of the game before going to the Council for Alwan. 

I don't remember every detail of every game, so I don't know what to expect, but my most powerful strategy so far seems to be "get enough Intelligence to have four Shock Tralls, give them all Essence Blade, then get as many +AP items as you can to most reliably give you the most AP to use per turn to ensure you can keep them alive as hard as possible while they destroy everything with a hail of 8 rocks per turn for up to 1000 physical damage per Trall on something with no resistance".  This did NOT work for the Challenge Area, not even remotely.  It was plenty good enough to cause mental trauma to everyone who lived after seeing "someone else get in my way".

My Agent's Resistances are stated as:

Armor 88%

Fire/Cold/Energy/Acid 75%

Poison 55%

Stun/Mental 83%

548 HP, 920 Essence, 1840 Spell Energy (regenerating at 66 per turn).

13 Strength, 9 Dexterity (turn order doesn't matter anymore and I can't dodge anyway), 20 Intelligence, 6 Endurance.  Quick Action and Parry are at 4 and 3, just passive bonuses.  Battle Magic is 9, Mental 17, Blessing 10, and Spellcraft 22.  Gear is available in my bags that makes my Fire Shaping and Battle Shaping up to 9, Magic Shaping 8, Leadership 11 and Mechanics 16.  I never found enough canisters to make Ur-Drakons or Eyebeasts, but I can make anything else.  Shock Tralls currently come out at level 46.

 

Keeping ahead of the first hallway's spawning was easy enough, monsters only got a couple rounds total.  The giant pile of Rotdhizons completely destroyed me by resisting three Strong Dazes almost entirely and running around twoshotting all my Tralls, I'll have to bodyblock a doorway or something.

This Charged Drakon is some infuriating silliness, immune to everything but Acid with 8,000HP, seriously?  Instantly summons a Gazer and Clawbug every single turn for free, even if you kill them both every turn... on top of two 800+ damage magical attacks with Lightning Aura, staying alive consumes at least one of my actions every turn, and for some reason I'm NOT getting two attacks (over and over and over) so this is taking forever.  It seems Mental Magic was nearly as waste to invest in here (because I didn't get enough of it).  Everything in here has like 75-85% chance to resist everything, pointless even trying.  I basically don't even get to attack in here anyway, the few points I spent in Battle Magic would be more useful put into Mental instead.  I eventually managed to kill it with Burning Spray and a lot of patience, but I can't help but feel I wasn't supposed to do it that way.

Pairbond Constructs I won't be able to do with Tralls, they hit for 500 or so per rock but are ALL instantly destroyed first move EVERY turn by the Acid aoe I can't seem to outrange. 

We'll see if I feel like beating my head into this later, right now I'm feeling "maybe never".

 

I thought it might be worth mentioning I got bored and gave up and uninstalled G5, did one last proofread and was going to just leave it unfinished, but after I told someone about it... it was amusing enough that I couldn't help but want to try something different just to see what happens.  So... I guess I'm replaying the whole game again sometime soon, starting over with "Agent pewpew isn't enough for the Challenge Area" in mind, and after a little thought it seems like my best bet may be to get as much Essence as possible with the other most important limiter being the cost of improving Mental Magic's power.  I *think* good ol' Shaper is the best pick for that, going to try it, I'll pick apart the bosses (with stubbornness and a fork if necessary).  I can probably actually afford a little less Mechanics too, there's enough Living Tools if I start buying all I can...

From last playthrough's experience, what I saw most was that whenever I considered what I could do to most improve my power, "Battle Magic" was *never* the right answer.  And that in one way or another, how *much* I could improve myself was always limited by how much Essence I had, always a better creation or buff or spell that doesn't need raw power, it needs Essence.  Shapers will have a little less HP than Agents I think, but if I'm going to end up nearly unkillable anyway... a few dozen HP shouldn't matter too much if instead I can keep my utility alive.

Since I only invested 8 or so skillups in Mental Magic the first time (I think it cost... 6?) it ended up at 17 with 22 Spellcraft and 12 Luck I was still just barely breaking through "can't ever work" territory mathematically in the Challenge Area.  It costing just a bit more for a Shaper should only cost a few more Skill Points because I only threw in a handful to begin with.  The slightly lower Spellcraft won't matter much if it's a tiny portion of my total damage and it's a few dice off heals, with more points in Luck the total score should be similar where it counts.  The big difference is going to be 350 more Essence.

Also for anyone who may be less experienced, I didn't intend to imply Torment as a whole was that bad, I blew through stuff like Kayar's Spire in 2-3 rounds at a time, sometimes 4-5 for the big packs of golems, and that was the worst thing I can think of offhand.  Agent blew up almost everything else the second I saw it.  It's just that *this* particular Challenge Area is that bad.  Know for sure I've done Sammann's Island with a Shaper Mental Magic build, last few times I've skipped it because the minor satisfaction isn't worth the hassle.  Straight Battle Magic can clear G1-G4 no problem (I just did it), but it isn't enough here.  I didn't even make it to the bigger bosses before I lost interest, I got hulksmashed by a couple deskjockeys when the real boss couldn't be bothered.

 

The Shaper Does Some Schooling (Hopefully)

Finish this

Character Level and Skill Points

Here's where I admittedly flubbed it, I jacked myself up to level 50 very early with a script edit, and then completed the whole game.  When I realized the methodology error, I was too far into things to bother trying to fix it or restarting, and now I have to refer to charts and dothemath to try to fix it within a reasonable margin of error.  I ended up at level 54, which I believe is a couple too high.  I'm certain 51 can be reached "organically" because my Agent did it without a mass-murder-spree in cities (as much as I hate the word "organic", it applies here in the "not-working-outside-the-game-itself" sense).  52 is probably possible if you bother to wipe out cities just for experience (can you go slaughter all of Gazaki-Uss without breaking an Ending?  I assume Ghaldring and the like give experience), but the amount of stuff that actually gives experience after level 50 is pretty low.  Due to level modifiers, my Essence and HP will be a bit higher than they should be, to roughly compensate I'm going to not-spend 10 Skill Points and will leave my Intelligence 3 and Endurance 1 point lower than they would be in the final numbers, resulting in HP and Essence *very* close to what they should be.  Assuming that, I'd have just a few shy of 500 HP with no investment, a bit over 600 Essence, a smidge over 900 Spell Energy and 229 Skill Points left to spend (after ignoring the 10 I shouldn't have and what I dumped into Leadership/Mechanics).

10) Gear Skill counts (after permanent bonuses and charms and what I *think* is perfect gear).  11 Strength (will need 2 more here), 9 Dexterity, 12 Intelligence, 6 Endurance (haven't removed the Control Tool).  9 Battle Magic, 8 Mental Magic, 10 Blessing Magic, 8 Spellcraft.  Shaping Skills can be gear-swapped up to 10, 10, 9, permanent 11 Healing Craft.  Leadership is 11, Mechanics 16, Luck 6 (Lucky Charm and Charmed Falchion).  My Resistances are at 87% Armor (capped at 90% by being a Shaper), 74% Fire, Cold, Energy, and Acid (those except Acid would actually be 87% after Shaper bonus), 83% Stun, 69% Mental, 52% Poison (basically irrelevant).

 

So...  where do I put 229 Skill Points?  2 Endurance gives 65 HP or so and only costs 8 points, but I don't believe it's necessary, the problem is going to be my creations surviving, I'm already an Immovable Object.  4 points of Luck will give some good bonuses (including probably my cheapest boost to Mental Magic hit rate) and it costs the same for everybody, only 6 Skill Points, might buy a bunch extra because Mental Magic and Spellcraft are so expensive on a Shaper.  My Initiative (turn order) doesn't matter at all, so Dex and Quick Action can go, my carryweight from Strength is 74/77 after purchasing 2 points for 8 Skill Points, and I don't melee so that can gtfo, Mass Heal already hits the whole party for ~275 with no investment, and will be ~450 or so after Spellcraft, so more Healing Craft probably isn't useful.  Shaping skills only cost 3, but at this point will only give my Tralls a handful of levels (and they already start at level 46 anyway) that would probably be better-spent in Mental or Spellcraft, because those have to be *really* high to work well in the Challenge Area.  My best option seems to be buying more Intelligence until it's prohibitively expensive, and then a few points of Luck, and then dump everything left into Mental Magic, Spellcraft and Luck pretty evenly (preferring Spellcraft, of course, as it affects all spells, and Luck over Mental Magic as it gives good chance to hit with other bonuses), but the main goal is to get the total combination of the three's contribution to Mental Magic's hit rate as high as possible.

For now, I'm going to try buying Intelligence until it costs 11, leaving me at 24, Spellcraft until it costs 10 (resulting in 18), 8 points of Luck until it costs 5 (leaving it at 14, if Luck is 2-3% hit per point two points of Luck is about as good as 1 point of Mental Magic for Mental-hit and has other bonuses, and Mental costs 7 now)... buying Mental Magic to when it costs 7 results in 16 total.  18 Spellcraft, 16 Mental Magic, and 14 Luck should give me a pretty good chance to hit.

Derived statistics after Skill Point investment (and mostly accounting for reducing my HP and Essence to what they should be, within about 1% difference shouldn't matter too much):

Mental resist flew up to 89%, others a few percent (from the Luck), 496 HP, 1275 Essence, and 1,917 Spell Energy (though this doesn't matter, you can't use that much unless you spam Purifying Rain forever).

Difference from Agent... basically the same HP and slightly more durability against some attacks, about the same Mental Magic power (I *think*), a little less Battle Magic power (though most of its utility and occasional damage is still there), and about 350 more Essence.  Here's hoping 350 Essence and some giggles was worth an extra playthrough.  Agent had 5 more Spellcraft and a little less Luck, but I think the chance to hit is pretty close (given Spellcraft starts out costing 5 instead of 3, and Mental 3 instead of 1, the skill point efficiency shifted towards Luck but didn't end up all that different in total).

 

Given enough Essence Pods that I can tackle the Challenge Area fight-by-fight instead of needing creations that can go through the whole thing, this should be easier.  I shouldn't have used them so liberally on the Agent, only having 19 left didn't leave much tactical choice.

 

Random tidbits

Personally, a long time ago I decided part of enjoying games was spending my time wisely, and Shift+D is your best friend in these games.  When it would be prudent and safe and cost me nothing but time to go back to town, and then come straight back to where I am, just save yourself the tedium and "rechargeme".  Sometimes I "exitzone" when I am positive it won't hurt anything and it's faster to GTFO and grab the item I need and get back from a different entrance point.  When it would be prudent to make sure myself and my creations have Essence Blade, I actually consume the Pods to do so.  "Cheating" or not is irrelevant, I enjoy saving myself time!

Crafting Firesteel Greaves instead of Black Iron, an Ur-Drakon Skin is freed up which allows you to craft the +4 All Shaping "Girdle of Victory", which is very handy for someone who uses disposable creations like Shock Tralls.  At endgame character development, the Quick Action and Parry have become so irrelevant that any investment in them at all is wasted (if you don't ever melee and don't care about Initiative).  "+2 Spellcraft and +2 All Shaping" is worth more than "nothing".

"If you can't get the Puresteel from the Purity Workshop, press Shift+D and type 'sdf 73 10 0'"

The flag for "contains Puresteel special item" sometimes get set somehow, and even though there's no reason it should be gone, it isn't there.  The Stuff Done code above sets the chest to unopened so you can get your Puresteel, if you care.  The first time I passed Zephyr Oasis, I accepted Taygen's quest for Camp Dranir and completed it.  I accepted his quest to Aid Platano, and went directly to the Purity Workshop.  I went straight for the door, paid 1 Tool to pick the lock, and the Puresteel was in the box.  This was after completing as little as was necessary to get into the Storm Plains, and then the Dera Reaches, I hadn't done more than bolt through an area since Rawal's zones, even the huge majority of the Mera was untouched.  I assume whatever causes the bug happens somewhere along a less direct path.

Edited by Murreh
REASONS!
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Some great insights in here.

 

6 hours ago, Murreh said:

Class-Based Resistance
I have yet to test this myself and I certainly will once I get playing, but taken from another post and seemingly confirmed more than once... the Shaper faction classes inherit resistances from their base monster type (at least in G5), which by itself is insanely powerful given how high the bonuses are.  It's probably an unintended consequence of reusing resources from older games, but if this is true, these resistances do NOT show up on the equipment/character screens.  I'm not certain if the imported bonuses stack past the "90% cap", I'll have to test this later on in the endgame.  Early on it gives these three classes an enormous bonus.  Actually capping resistances isn't necessary to become "functionally as tough as is necessary".

I can help out with a few of these questions:

1. This is only in G5; as you surmise, it's the result of the 3 loyalist classes being directly edited for NPC use in G4, and then having the NPC style resists accidentally preserved in G5.

2. They do not break the 90% cap.

Comment: It's a fairly enormous bonus for the entire game, unless you are going well past 86% resistance without those bonuses (which is pretty hard to do without sacrificing other bonuses for it).  (86% is around the point where a 30% bonus will get you to the 90% cap.)  Though I suppose you're also right that if you simply don't need more survivability because you are truly fluent in glass cannon, then it's not necessary.  Of course, there's no downside to taking those classes; the only real consideration is if you want to go Sorceress instead (and from a strict minmaxing perspective it doesn't beat out the resist bonuses, despite Sorceress being the imaginary class we salivated over through all the previous games).

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Chronicles of Sammann's Island

1) So given the above, I stepped into locked area of the Okavano Barrier, conjured up 5 Shock Tralls, gave them all Essence Blade (I had enough Essence to do them, but not quite myself.)  I downed three Essence Pods, Bladed myself, threw up a Regeneration Aura, tripled War Blessing and Speed and Protection because I'm pretty sure there's no massive aoe elemental until later, the standard.  The first Gazer I ran into got Charmed, from 17 Mental Magic, 18 Spellcraft, 14 Luck.  I realized I accidentally made an idiot Trall without the necessary +2 Intelligence, and that's why it was blundering around on its own like the AI was running it.  A Corrupted Gazer had a 72% chance to resist Charm.  I didn't try again.  Wrack and a landslide as usual.  The Corrupted Drakon lost a chunk before I got to him, Wracked, got down to about 20% from a hailstorm of rocks before he got to move, and nearly oneshot one of my Tralls (it was 390 Fire and a Lightning Aura and a Magic damage hit for just shy of the Trall's whole HP).  Clearly should've switched to Elemental Aura earlier, too busying trying to Wrack.  I gambled for data and the Corrupted Drakon had a 43% chance to resist Charm.  Charm worked on a spawned Rotdhizon, that only tells you yes/no.  Of note, whatever Initiative they have is higher than my Tralls' 25 Dex gives them.  I Wrack/Essence Lanced him for 448.  I reCharmed a loose Rotdhizon to have some meat in front the Corrupted Ur-Glaahk and Wrack-marked-it-for-death.  It died that turn on the last rock, might as well Wrack and mow down this Rotdhizon.  Knowing it's going to die and already having an Essence Lance hit, I went for a Kill instead and got 627.  Mass Restore healed everyone for about 380 average and removed the on-death Poison. 

2) Everyone's still fully buffed and has full HP right this second and it'd be a good time to snort a few Essence Pods and bodyblock that Rotdhizon horde door to get some Daze data.  My idiot Trall ran into the room, of course, and I decided to go with it.  I chased it in, Charmed the first Rotdhizon I saw, two more ran up, Charmed another on my next turn.  One came out of left field and swatted one of my Tralls for most of its HP, but I was just barely within reach to Charm it successfully without moving.  I decided trying to Major Heal my Trall for 380 and hoping for a Speed proc was worth not Charming the Rot that ran up from the right.  I didn't get it.  The healed Trall ran off scared out of my range next turn, so instead I tossed two Major Healing Spores and threw an Ice Spray for 297 which was just enough extra to kill it that turn (it doesn't take much Battle Magic to be *useful*, if not a huge source of damage), while a Trall got ganged up on and killed, Charmed the healthier Rotdzhion and sent the rest off to engage another group instead.  I accidentally moved too far, went down to 9AP, decided my best bet was to toss another Major Healing Spore and Mass Restore my two near-death Tralls for 400 and hope for a Speed proc I didn't get.  With 9AP, I'll be able to save these two Tralls with a Spore and another 390 Mass Restore... I got 11 AP, carefully moved one step to get in Line of Sight of my Idiot Trall who was now nearly dead from Acid and degen and spent the last four turns or so running around with no morale and the last one standing at the door waiting for it to open, landed the Mass Restore twice, the four that're still alive can handle a few more of these guys.  Trall got slapped for about 330, I got slapped for about 31 and almost laughed, it tickles.  Wracked one, Major Healed a Trall for 383.  There's a pattern here somewhere, almost as if I knew I'd be spending all my time Healing and Charming... Stuck a Kill in one for 620 and 623. 

3) Now the cheapest thing to do would be to go back to town and take a breather, so full restore, need a new set of meatbags, for a Drakon that only takes Acid damage (because I'm going to go *through it*, not around it and come backwards after its shield is down).  Call me stubborn, but I'd rather deal with it this way than have to deal with extra bunch of Gazers and Clawbugs while micromanaging this many creations' movement.  Pounding something to death 8 damage at a time with rocks is fine.  Damage being irrelevant, I think normal War Tralls are plenty durable with Elemental Aura.  This will be long and painful, so no turn-by-turn.  I don't think I really even need the meatbags, it may actually be more beneficial to tank the damage myself, have to heal less, and heal myself while having more turns overall to spam Acid Spray, we'll see.  Apparently I can't have more than 5 different creation types at once, so I won't have a Kyshakk out, but I'll have one each of the other top 6.  Instead of a Wingbolt, I'll take an Unstable Firebolt and see if their tiny 474 HP means instant death.

4) Against the Charged Drakon that only takes Acid Damage, all the creation types seemed to stay alive just fine, mostly the Rotdhizon needing the most handling when the enemy Gazer decided to target it.  Drakon was throwing around 400 fireballs, dangerous but nothing anything resistant can't handle.  I did around 150 damage when I got a spare turn to attack with Burning Spray.  The Charged Drakon was taking about 45 Poison Damage per turn from the Charmed Clawbug, and the Gazer basically got left alone to do... whatever.  It spent most of the fight dying to the Clawbug, killing the Clawbug, or smacking one of my creations for 200-400, or running into a corner because of morale from low HP.  Anything that got direct damage on the Drakon, no matter the damage type, did between 2-12 damage.  Acid was doing 75 damage per turn.  Everything else, I literally chipped it to death.  It took a while.  A LONG while.  The Drakon oneshot the unstable Wingbolt with fire damage.  After the Drakon died, I tried to Charm a freshly-spawned Gazer and it worked.  Okay, so that thing is dead, and whatever else happens, I don't ever have to deal with it again.

With the Unstable Wingbolt dead, everything left could survive a few hits.  With around 260-270 spare Essence, you can do a LOT of Healing before you have to spend AP in combat to use Essence Pods.  I threw around Major Healing Spores when prudent just for the ambient Healing, it helped.  Saving the Restoration stuff for when it gets nasty.  When I did need Essence Pods (I think I used a good four preparing for the fight, two during in the same turn), I waited for the perfect moment, and I had a big enough pool that I could absorb all of two of them.  Having +4 AP, I knew there would definitely be at least a few turns where I would not need to spend AP to save a creation, and I rolled 12 AP, and I needed Essence.  Definitely getting two attacks, hope for a Speed proc and get one, go from 12 AP to 7, use two Essence Pods in a row, to 1 AP, use Burning Spray again.  The net effect is it is both your most damaging AND your most restorative turn in the same turn.  Use them wisely.  Make sure everything else is taken care of so when you do get that moment, there is least often something stopping you from laying into the big guy.  "Control the battlefield."  Given the Drakon was always as Slowed as possible from the Clawbug and such, halfway through the fight I threw another Wrack just to be sure it was still active, it was a LONG fight, and then whenever it was possible to guarantee an attack or improve the chances of an extra attack, that was the best thing to do... with Burning Spray, for 150-172 damage.  Not spectacular, but with everything else doing about that much per whole turn, it's the best efficiency you've got.  I never did think to test whether the Acid Rain wands cost 5AP or 3, but that would have been a relatively minor impact on the fight.

Time to go back to town and refresh and read the Challenge Area Tips for the next bit.

5) Alrighty, the deskjockeys that ended my Agent, before whatever this "Glaahk Gauntlet" is, which sounds mostly irrelevant, so I'll prepare for just the Pairbond Constructs and make it work.  Sounds like I'm going to want two Rotdhizons (wonderfully efficient, those) to handle one of the Contructs, in case one gets low morale or something, and then I probably want to tank the other myself (out of range of AoE of the Acid one, that will *hurt*) while taking its directional/targetted AoE away from my creations, smashing it as hard as I can with...  looks like two Gazers and two Drakons if I can manage it.  I still have one Gazer and Drakon alive from the previous fight.  Yes, I can make two Rotdhizons, two Gazers, and two Drakons, 178 Essence to spare.  This is why that extra 350 Essence was so important. 

My first turn I sent two Rotdhizons after the Construct with the Acid Aoe, and made sure I used a doubleturn to Wrack them both, tried to get stuff just barely into range.  Then the Constructs got their turns, and at the end of it, ALL of my creations were dead and I was down to 240 HP from 505.  Well, this ain't the answer Billy!  Let's see... I'll probably have to more carefully initiate the fight so the the AoEs are less likely to overlap, and drop the Gazers for more Drakons as the Drakons resist more fire and were doing about the same damage.  The guide suggests killing the Fire Aoe Construct first, but when I saw how much damage my Rotdhizons were doing to the other one (and all of my creations, actually, they were beating the tar out of it at ~450 damage per attack with whatever element) I can't resist trying to kill one hard enough that it only takes two turns or something, making the fight *drastically* easier.  On second look, before giving up and reloading my game, I looked at the battlefield, and realized one of the Constructs only had 870 HP (the one my now-dead creations spent their whole turns beating on single-target) and was already Wracked, and doesn't seem to have much resistance... gambling I had enough HP to survive the damage from ONE of them next turn, I tossed two Kills and ended it.  Now I can run away.  Actually, *now* I'm pretty sure I can stick it out and kill the remaining one by myself.  Indeed, I tanked its damage and loaded it up with DoTs and Killed it to death.

6) It sounds like the next boss is just a giant Spawner with a high-damage Fire AoE, and it's best to just avoid it, so if SURVIVING it by movement is and doing the most damage otherwise while controlling the battlefield with Charm is the best option... let's try Shock Tralls for the extra AP for damage and movement (and thus defense)!  I can just squeeze out and Essence Blade 6 of them, let's try overwhelming force on the damage side, hoping to make the rest of the fight irrelevant.  The Shock Tralls actually survived a couple AoE hits, and I Charmed a Rotdhizon, so basically I just beat him to death in a couple huge-damage turns and some party Heals.  Anticlimactic.

That's the whole first floor, let's see what's upstairs

 

Got Past the Security, Now For the Suits

7) Looks like upstairs, the first encounter is best handled with reasonable damage, a physical tank or two, and some ability to deal with Cryodrayks on the way.  Sounds like I'm going to want two Rotdhizons and a bunch of Shock Tralls, if I can keep them out of danger... if not, I can just recreate them before the Wormhost.  Drayk Crya went down after a Wrack, Essence Lances, and one good volley from all of my creations.  Thuggish Trall resisted my Charm at 5% chance TWICE, dink.  I managed to kill the Wormhost, on my first turn after all my creations were overwhelmed, but trying to do it this way wasn't successful, I was in turn overwhelmed by the sheer number of additional enemies I couldn't control.  Together, they actually did enough damage to kill me in one turn with me resisting 90% of basically everything.  I'll have to try it again and take a slower approach.  I gambled and tried a Mass Madness on one attempt, everything had a 70% or 97% chance to resist, wasted turn.  I only managed to kill a few Tralls, two of the Eyebeasts, and two of the Kyshakk before I had to flee (before escape wasn't an option anymore, there was just too much to deal with and all my creations died one by one).  One of my Drakons getting Charmed didn't help.

Before I take another shot, I want to answer a question... My damage resistance seems to be fine, but is it fine *because* of all these Golden Crystals, or would I *still* be fine without them?  Going to do some revisionist testing.  Replacing all of my gear and drowning it all in Ivory Skulls reduces my resistances significantly, to 82% Armor, 62% Fire, Cold, and Energy (Elemental Aura should help when it matters), 73% Stun, 80% Mental, 49% Poison, 72% Acid.  If things work as described elsewhere, these 7 Ivory Skulls should increase my chance to hit with everything by 70%... which would, from the numbers seen before, take my chance to hit with Mental spells from "not worth trying" to "would usually work", we'll see.

Eight) Spectral Gazer, it was mostly dead before it did some combination of moves that killed all my creations in one turn but missed me entirely, figured the least I could do is Charm as many Kyshakk as possible and have them die fighting it.  I *almost* had it, and then I got killed by a 288 Acid Shower and a few attacks.  On the second try, I got it before it could do anything too awful.

9) Sammann, I don't know... Going to try to smash him with Shock Tralls and 1 Rotdhizon (for the Acid).  That's basically all it took, I pulled him out of his dome, Wracked him, and blew him up.  The pylons killed the Rotdhizon, but the Shock Tralls basically just cut him down before anything really mattered.  450 damage twice per turn over 5 Tralls really ruins his day.

 

Anyway, if there's anything else to say, maybe later.  I missed Queen's Wish 2 on sale last time I saw it, but after this full clear of the whole Geneforge series (and especially this writeup, which took many dozens of hours to finally get proofread and coherent), I could use a break.  I remember Earth 2150 RTS being amazing back in high school, and I have the whole 2140 series laying around, and I've had the urge to play through the whole thing for the first time, so maybe I'll do that.  If this here isn't enough information to break the game, I don't know what to tell ya.

Edited by Murreh
Sometimes I accidentally words
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