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Sorceress survival guide: The infinitely adaptable sorceress[G5]

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A few words to start this off. While this build has some min-max elements, this is not a build focused entirely on min-maxing. This build is about survival, and it is extremely good at that. This build is about ease of use, ease of play, and, if followed, should allow even beginners to survive and thrive on any difficulty level, including torment. I had three sorceress builds I worked on to make this guide, the first two got close to the end-game and my conclusion was "meh." I hit places where I bogged down and had some real issues.


This build assumes you will follow a mostly rebel path.


The third time I got it right though, and while there were some rough spots, I always had options. Options gave me power and the ability to adapt to pretty much anything the game threw at me.


Certain things are not going to make sense at first. They will seem contrary. They might even seem 'off.' Wrong even. I assure you, I went against my own instincts on this one and I am glad I did. In the end, I had a very rewarding character that could go anywhere and do anything, even completing the optional areas with out to much difficulty.


The skills that pay the bills. The sorceress is a mage character... But you will not be playing her as a mage. At least not for the first half of the game. She will start off as a shaper type, all of her damage will come from sturdy creations. Her own magics will largely be ignored for a long, long while. When you start the game, don't worry to much about adding to intelligence... Turn in the servile, get the student's belt, etc, you will have just enough for what you need to do. In the beginning, focus on building leadership and mechanics up to 12 each. This is important. This allows you to maximise experience, make certain encounters easier, lie about using canisters, (important later) it will make your life a lot easier. This is not ideal, as you could get by with 8 leadership and items, but I intend for this guide to be usable by anybody. Keeping track of, and swapping in and out constantly, can be difficult for new players to keep track of. So for the purpose of this guide, 12/12 is a good solid choice for numbers. You should be raising these slowly in the starting areas.


In between raising leadership and mechanics, you will also want to raise your shaping skills. You will want fire shaping to be at 3. This is entirely optional, but I highly recommend that you bring this to three... I will explain later. Battle shaping and magic shaping, you will bring them to 5 each. Turns out, this is just enough. You will want to raise battle shaping first, because you will have clawbugs very soon. Fire shaping and cryoas are a safe bet for surviving. Magic shaping can wait a bit as artillas are weak, but you will need this at 5 before you reach Mara.


And what of magic skills? Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. You will not be adding anything. Not right now.


With out to much difficultly, you should be able to muster up 2 clawbugs and 2 cryoas. This will get you through the foundry areas. Bless them occasionally, use daze, and they will carry you through.


Your magic skills will be bought... You will buy the first two levels of magic in Mera. You will need about 30,000 gold. Impossible? No. Loot everything. Green, blue, and red crystals. Gemstones. Shaping equipment can be found everywhere. Both the 12 gold version and the 17 gold version. Armors. Swords. Sell healing pods and curing pods. (But save the spores for use) Even bronze swords and chitin shields. Loot everything and sell sell sell. With out to much fuss, you will reach 30k, but this will not be enough. You will buy two levels in each of your magic skills, this will stretch out your skill points. This is the key to this particular build. It will allow you to spend as many points in shaping and geek skills as you did and still have a functional character. 30k will disappear fast in Mara. You will not have enough to buy all the spells and creations you need. Ignore most of the magic and focus on creations. Vlish in particular, as they are the key to the next phase of your growth. This is why you invested in magic shaping to raise it to five.


At this point, you should have two or three clawbugs, and at least 2 vlish. Plated bugs are optional, but one clawbug and one plated bug isn't a bad idea at all. You can let them run on auto pilot, with no intelligence invested, to save on essence. They are strong enough to carry you through. Important to note, with battle shaping at 5, the clawbugs are rather strong, they are capable, but they will have some trouble... Vlish however, weaken foes and curse them. The vlish produced with magic shaping at level 5 are quite hardy, don't die if the breeze blows on them, and start shooting off bolts of damage that will do about 100 damage in a very short amount of time, even if you don't add to strength. (And you shouldn't) The bugs and the vlish work together as a sort of combined arms. Cursed and weakened foes wont be able to damage your clawbugs to much. Your army will start being self sufficient and wont need much from you. Just the occasional regeneration aura, an occasional speed, but they will not need much in the way of babysitting. At this point, you are mostly dead weight. And you will stay this way for a long, long time. The vlish will be with you for roughly 1/3rd of the game. All of the middle and even some of the endgame. You could, if you wanted, keep them right up through the endgame. I think they would do ok, because by that point, your magic will have matured enough to keep them alive.


In the Mera areas, spend a lot of time leveling, looting, and buying all your magic skills. Start raising intelligence. Do quests. Your vlish and bug pack will get very powerful in a short amount of time, working together, provided your bugs and vlish were made with at least 5 levels of the relevant shaping skill to get them started. A cryoa or two is never a bad idea either. Eventually, your creations will be strong enough to take down the hunting unbound, no problem. (The ones in the ruins are a different story) Your bugs will tie them up in melee, while your vlish will make them weak, as well as cut them down with lots of magic damage. It helps if you have the symbiotic cloak to raise creation endurance, and keep an eye out for the living knife. (And later, the thirsting blade)


At this point, you are still a shaper type, but your essence pool should be maturing. Once your shaping skills are at 3/5/5, you have some healing magic, and your mechanics and leadership skills are at 12/12, start adding to your magic skills. Scratch that, add to your mental magic skills. You can add to battle, but you wont need to. In fact, on my third build, all of my battle magic came from items and purchased skills. I still got it to about level 10 I think. It wasn't hard to do. But mental magic, you want to raise that as high as possible. When not raising mental magic, raise spellcraft. This will help your battle magic quite a bit. This build will use some battle magic, but mental magic is the bread and butter of the build. Visit the Trakovites. Start doing quests. You want to get the canister quest at the repository. You will want to use those canisters and lie about it, because you will want dryaks. (And later, cryodryaks) And this is why we raised fire shaping just a smidge. Once you blow through the stoneworks, have access to the storm plains, and can do the repository quest, adding a single dryak to your squad can get you over the middle of the game hump.


At this point, you should be in your 30s or 40s. You should have a decent enough essence and energy pool. Now is the time to start flexing your magical muscles, but be careful. If you hit something, there is a good chance it will break off and attack you. So always cast terror on your targets to keep this from happening. No fear of reprisal that way.


At some point, you might want to upgrade to alphas, or even betas. Do it. Your offensive abilities will increase greatly, aided by your vlish. You should have a few items to boost shaping skills by now. Use them. Eventually, you will be able to put on a few items and raise battle shaping and magic shaping well past 10. Make sure you try to do this when you summon up your goon squad. You will not be able to summon much, but what you do summon will be really strong.


As for your physical stats, mostly ignore strength and get the odd point in endurance when you can. There will be items to raise strength later. Stick to wearing robes, transference suits, shirts of different types, and light weight armor. You will be plenty safe, just use your head, use daze, and lots of terror. On sorceress number 3, intelligence ended up at 25. This was with items. This was enough to allow me to have some really nice summons and enough to keep the magic flowing.


Nearing the endgame, you want to get a single gazer eyebeast eye tyrant critter. The one that shoots kill spells. Not the second level one from using three canisters. Just one of these will do ya. There are moments where it will be immensely handy to have around. They are tough, do good damage, and do surprisingly good melee damage. You will want either a war trall or a rotter-green-thingamajig. I switched between both, as the situation demanded. And to round out the team, a few dryaks or cryodryaks as needed. These are fairly cheap but make excellent shock troops when supported by your powerful mental magic. For me, the dryaks were particularly useful on the island full of augmented cryodryaks. Backed with essence blade and some blessing magic, I was able to deal with them most handily. Cryodryaks are quite good against drakons. I summoned a pair of them in the final fight against Ghaldring and they did rather well, mowing down rotters, enemy summons, and even the big dumb lizard himself.


What made it work was, I had both summons and spells for any occasion. I could patiently work my way through anything. The sorceress makes for a powerful babysitter for her creations, her mental magic is nearly irresistible at higher levels. And with this build, any area of the game should be able to be completed, even with a novice. The creations are strong enough to carry you through right up to near the end, and by then, even a new player should have enough of a feel for the game to be able to achieve victory with very little effort.

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Living knife was the original reward for the Hunting Bennhold quest during beta testing.


Substitute the empathy blade (7- 28 damage, -1 to dexterity, +2 to strength of creations, +1 to dexterity of creations) dropped by Emogene in Murkwood until you get a guardian claymore in Dera Reaches.


DV - This build is completely counter to what I would I expect. Especially not using skill points for magic skills since they are so cheap and levels are plentiful.

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Yeah, I made a sorceress along the same lines and don't think it's really necessary to pump shaping skills even to the moderate levels that DV did. It's a good idea to put a second point in Fire Shaping at the start to open up cryoas (which is also enough to get you drayks later on). By the time you can make high-tier creations, you'll have artifacts to give you the skills you need, and an extra level or two will make less of a difference. (Mind you, it's not a bad idea to put, say, a point or two into Battle Shaping if you're about to make a rot/trall army and have the points to spare.)


Any build that's going to rely heavily on mental magic should try to end up with at least 30 points spread between mental magic and spellcraft, including item bonuses. More is better, but that amount will allow you to reliably daze all creations up to and including fourth tier, and reliably charm just about everything except gazers and a few of the monsters in the expert area.

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You end up with high mental magic, far higher than a shaper. Mine was in the mid 20s. Basically, I cranked mental magic up to about 9 or 10 and then used items.


Also, my spellcraft was in the teens. Much higher than I could get it as a shaper. (within practicality) This made my battle magic, when I did have to cast it, absolutely lethal.


I played on the sorceress' strengths. The ability to get high levels of mental magic and cheap spellcraft. I was able to charm things that usually, you can't.


Everything else is just gravy. The thing is, with essence blade, my creations did more damage with spell effects than I did, and I learned this with my first two sorceress builds. On one, I cranked battle magic out the wazoo, had slightly weaker creations, but even with essence blade, my kill spell had a hard time breaking 300 damage. (Against non resistant foes) Meanwhile, my gazer, it was doing about 400 to 500 damage with essence blade. I realised that, no matter what I did, I was outdone by mine own creations.


I discovered that with battle magic, there is a sort of ceiling. The difference between, say, 9 battle magic and battle magic in the high teens is actually fairly negligible, compared to previous games when hitting the teens meant incredible damage returns. Now, it sort of caps out and doesn't seem to do as much. Sorceress build number three was doing just about as much magical damage as the previous build with high battle magic and spellcraft in the teens. So for the skill points spent, it had LOUSY returns. Which is why build three dumped those points into shaping skills... And then cranked mental magic out the wazoo.


I am not sure what is up with battle magic, but it doesn't feel as strong as it did, and I really didn't notice it until I was paired up with some really strong creations.


Essence orbs is gone. The replacement spell, shocking rain, stinks. It is absolutely worthless. Cast it, and every enemy hit with it comes running to kill you, it does poor damage, and costs to much. I had a heck of a time bringing it to over 100 damage. Aura of flames, er, whatever it is called now, it barely cracked 200 damage. It felt... Weak. The spells worth casting were lightning aura, ice bolt, and essence lances. Kill was much better off fired from an eye tyrant. (And for that matter, the lightning damage over time spells were better fired from a creation too) Which leaves ice bolt. But wait, with essence blade, a cryodryak can fire off ice blasts for well over 200 damage a shot. So I very quickly ran out of spells that made my sorceress lethal or powerful. It was far better to charm high level monsters and turn them against one another, I could do more damage that way than I could by casting battle magic.


All in all, I am bummed out by battle magic, and that was my mistake on my first two sorceresses dedicated to this build plan. Creations are just to strong, especially when created with a skill past level 10.


It all comes down to mental magic and the strength of your creations. You can not compete with them for damage. It isn't even worth trying... And I think this is why my sorceress builds during the beta always died on the vine. I was always near the endgame and just, well, burned out for a lack of better words.


With this particular run, I think I've found a working niche. It was powerful, it was safe, and it was rather easy to do. My creations ran the show, and when the fyora droppings hit the oscillating air circulation device, I was able to scramble anything and everything on screen.


Is it an ideal build though? I don't know. It could be tweaked a bit, but certain inherent problems remain. The sorceress can not compete with her creations for damage. It is best to do something that your creations can not.

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You have to really dedicate yourself to battle magic and spellcraft to achieve spell damages higher than what you were getting. My agent saw about 25 to 30% more damage than you were getting, but I never put anything into shaping skills so I had skill points available.


Shocking rain has to be the worst area effect spell. It doesn't do enough even at the end and just makes them all mad at you. Acid shower does damage every round and purifying rain can easily get over 250 damage per target unless they resist fire.

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The problem I found with purifying rain was two fold. It drained energy and essence reserves far to quickly for to little damage. Second, casting was a surefire way to suddenly have everything on screen take a sudden interest in me, and try to kill me. Surviving the reprisal was a bit of a problem.


Acid shower can have a similar problem, but I know that my creations can do more damage than the acid shower does, so aggression stays focused on them. Mostly.


And on my first and second sorceress builds, I did dedicate my self to battle magic... And the numbers really were not all that different. Not for the skill points invested. I had real trouble with the first two builds getting the aura of flame / purifying rain to crack 200 damage.


The sorceress isn't the powerhouse character that I had hoped for. It should have been left in G4 as an option, it would have been fine.


While she isn't as powerful as I had hoped for, she does have an incredible damage spread... She can adapt her damage output to anything she needs, and this is a good thing. The problem is, by doing so, so only becomes average in everything.

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  • 2 months later...

I was reading this, and I decided to try out the battle magic and see if it really does seem to sort of cap off somewhere. I am new to all the games here, and I still only play on Easy-Normal, and have no previous experience. (I guess thats off topic)


Anyway, I used (I think) a trainer that maxed all my stats and abilities. Using the battle magic on an agent on the highest difficulty, I was barely hitting 300ish with Purifying Rain. Essence lances was doing in the 500s, and Kill was up to 700-800. Killing everything that easy is no fun though.. Gotta go change that.

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There is no "cap" -- the "cap" that DV talks about does not exist. There are diminishing returns with battle magic in G5, as with every other skill in every other Geneforge (or Avernum) game.


That is to say, every new point in the skill contributes the same amount of extra damage. So does every point in Spellcraft and every point in skill at casting an individual spell. So yes, the 14th point of Battle Magic or whatever will make less of a difference, but that's only because the damage has already been ramped up; it increases damage by exactly the same amount as the 2nd or 3rd point of Battle Magic.

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Ah, thanks. I didn't mean cap in that way, I just can't think of anything else to describe it on my own.


So, does that mostly apply to damage though? Even if it doesn't, would it be more worth it to skip the small damage increase in order to have a better chance at charming creations later on?

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It doesn't quite apply to charming because charming isn't handled like damage. Charming is basically a standard RPG to-hit roll, except instead of using accuracy and dodge scores, you get


CHANCE = (Base chance) + (5 * (spellcraft + mental magic + spell skill)) - (mental resistance)


So, extra points in mental magic are useless against creatures with low mental resistance, and make a big difference against those with high mental resistance. Since mental resistance is mostly just based on level for NPCs, extra mental magic skill is always helpful.

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  • 1 year later...

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