Pillars of Eternity Characters Creation & Development Guide

This guide will focus on mapping out all the best builds in this game and will explain the optimal ways of their development. We’ll also discuss some gameplay basics and party compositions (eventually).

 

1. General Info
This guide is WiP. I’m investigating all of the classes gradually and so it’s going to be updated along with my progress. If you prefer videos, I have a playlist here (in both russian and english)

This guide is adapted for the Hard difficulty. Most of the things here will work on the Path of the Damned but still, it is recommended that you go through the easier difficulty first. Path absolutely demands familiarity with the game world.

When it comes to the attributes, Pillars of Eternity is a min-maxing game – to make a real difference, you really need to max the stats out. Which requires a lot of points so you’ll have to minimize something too. Therefore, there are pretty much three default settings for the attribute – 3 aka min, 10 aka norm, 18 aka max.

Min-maxing is especially important for the main character as the maxed out stats not only make him combat-viable, they also allow him to solve dialogue situations. Without min-maxing, you’ll have only two stats at the level of 17-18 (and that’s what required to solve the really tough challenges). With it, you’ll have three or four such stats – much more solutions available.

One of the toughest choices about the game is custom party vs companion party. Companions have personal stories and plenty of dialogues, but they’re all build rather horrible so the combat is harder with them. And they take away the joy of building your party and your strategies – PoE’s system is very rich and there are lots of combos to try out. On the other hand, custom companions deprive you of the NPC storylines. Without using mods (which allow you to respec NPCs and even change their classes), it’s a lose-lose situation. So either use them or decide what is more important for you (and, well, if put your bet on the companions, don’t set the game difficulty too high – normal is fine with them).

The party composition here is rather simple – you need two tanks on the frontline (who need to be focused on longevity first and foremost), up to two second-line damage dealers (armed with pikes) and the rest are third-line pure damage dealers and crowd controllers. The difference between second and third line damage dealers is their durability – seconds can usually take some damage, though not a lot (barbarians, for example), whereas the thirds are very squishy and, should the things go wrong, will melt in a second. You can skip second-liners altogether, but that will make your party rather prone to the ambushes – that can be worked around, but relies on save-loading and metagaming.

Skills don’t matter that much. You want 4 athletics on your entire team so you don’t have to rest that often. Mechanics on your main character is also pretty good – you won’t find another source of them for quite a while and it’s not only about disarming traps, it’s about finding any kinds of secrets (and there are lots of secret stashes in the game). Everything else is at your discretion, pretty much. The only exception is stealth – some classes can squeeze out quite a bit of utility out of it.

Percentage increases to damage are better than they seem. Say, two-handed gives x1.15 damage – 15%. So the average ~17 damage from the large weapon becomes ~19,5. Against the DR 10 (nearly all foes have high DR, never forget that) 17 damage is 7 damage per hit. 19.5 is 9.5. And that’s 35% more than 7.

To explain it easily, each 5 points in both accuracy and deflection equal to 10% of effectiveness. That’s how the formulae work when you’re evenly matched. To a new player, wizard’s 20 starting accuracy being very low and rogue’s 30 accuracy being very high may look confusing – it’s just 10 point difference, no? But, as you see, it’s 20% less hits for the wizard. Same for deflection – 15 deflection of his is 30% more hits on him than on the paladin’s very high 25. Keeps this “5=10%” thing in mind to easily gauge the benefits of various talents and abilities.

One important thing for this guide is that you first distribute your ability points, second choose your culture. But, as you distribute the points, you do that with the +1 resolve culture already included. So if there’s 1 point somehow missing for some of my builds, that’s because of that – just switch your culture to the mentioned one and it’s gonna fit.

2. Races Review
The most important thing about races is not their stat buffs (the effect is negligible) but their specials. Many of the specials are very strong and can support your strategy greatly.

Humans: all three kinds have the same bonus and it works for any kind of a damage dealer. Once you’re below half of endurance, you’re gaining 7 accuracy and 15% extra damage dealt for 20 seconds. Note that this time is influenced by the Intelligence so dumb humans will get only 13 seconds of buff. Also, squishy humans (3 endurance) will probably drop too fast to gain much use from it. So don’t take a human character if you want to min one of these stats.

Coastal Aumaua: 20 defense against Prone and Stunned. It’s good when you have a tank with somewhat low fortitude (if he minimizes might and has only above average con, for example – that’s a common occurence). With this racial, you can negate that vulnerability to a certain extent.

Island Aumaua: a non-obvious bonus. Thinking straight, three sets of weapons make you incredibly flexible. Practically, though, your character build is usually centered around one kind of a weapon (mass critical builds & battle axes, for example) and it becomes so potent that the gain from switching to another weapon is overshadowed by the loss of your primary synergy (because the majority of your talents and class abilities will be directed towards it). And even in the places where you absolutely need to switch, 2 basic sets are usually enough. 3 is an overkill. There are also economical reasons – try finding/crafting 3 really strong weapons. But that’s if you want to play honest. The proper way to use Island Aumaua is to go with the gun-toting Quick Pockets one. That way, you have 4 gun slots and, instead of reloading your weapons slowly, you just grab another one quickly (as it was done IRL so it’s not even cheese, tbh). Note that this doesn’t combo well with gun-reloading bonuses (like from chanter’s phrase, for example) so you usually take one or another.

Mountain Dwarf: 20 defense against Disease and Poison. Way too narrow. Not only this can be replicated by some rather primitive magical items, it’s just not useful often enough. You want your bonus to be great in every battle, not in every tenth battle. And yeah, there are some annoying poison encounters in the game, but still, not good enough.

Boreal Dwarf: to be honest, it’s also rather narrow. +15 accuracy against wilders and primordials won’t work in every encounters, of course. But, at least, when it is enabled it is stupidly strong – that much precision gives you a lot of hits and criticals. You want your boreal dwarf to be a damage dealer and, if possible, somewhat focused around that extra accuracy so when he hits, he hits big. That means a focus on the battle axes, pretty much – yeah, these dwarves love their axes.

Wood Elf: 5 accuracy, reflex and evasion against distant foes. Pretty obvious race. Excellent for rangers (and other missile weapon users), decent for casters (but here look at the range of the spells – wizards, for example, are not as far-reaching as druids are).

Pale Elf: extra 10 burn and frost reduction. Nice race for tanking – yeah, the extra sturdiness is not showcased in each battle but you’ll really feel it once you start fighting drakes, for example. Or even shades in the first dungeons. They also make interesting wizards – wizards have some incentives to take Scion of Flame and Herald of Rime talents, both upping the reductions by 5 (so you’re taking 15 less damage in total). Druids can consider taking these talents too. A small but nifty combo. But tanking is probably their forte. One interesting combo to make with them is to do two high-reflex Pale Elf tanks on the frontlines (I think 18-10-19-18-3-10 kind wayfarers or monks will do) and two Fan of Flames casting wizards in the back. So Elves tie up opposition, wizards cover everything with fans comfortably, foes die while the elfs are only grazed and that is all soaked up by the resistances. Can do the same thing with 2 druids and tons of fortitude – that’s even better as druids are more powerful than wizards and 18-18-18-3-4-17 can be viable for many fighter builds. Maybe even take early level of Bear’s Endurance (reflex builds are fine with just Weapon and Shield talent – lots of endurance there).

Hearth Orlan: 10% of hits against enemies who are also targeted by your teammates are converted into criticals. It seems quite a no-brainer for a damage dealer but it’s actually even better for a crowd-controller. Some extra damage is nice but 50% extra durations on your disable is even better – it’ll lead to that extra damage anyway. So Orlans are casters, first and foremost. Their +2 Perception bonus is quite good at interrupting, though, so if you make them into melee fighters, it’s better to build them around it.

Wild Orlan: after being targeted by a will attack, they gain +10 deflection/will/reflex/fortitude for 10 seconds. An obvious tank trait that also requires at least normal intelligence to be useful. You know, it would’ve been very cute if you could’ve easily combo around it – like, target your own orlan with the edge of a will-targeting AoE, make him tankier. But that’s not really viable – good luck finding a spell that can do it. Besides, the effect does not justify all the effort so this race is rather skippable.

Death Godlike: 20% extra damage against enemies with 25% endurance or lower. Seemingly not that good but it’s actually golden. Rather narrow, though. There is a number of character build in the game that thrives on killing the foe – Kind Wayfarer paladins, for example. But, as paladins are not the best damage dealers ever, kill stealing can be actually difficult for them. And that’s where this race rushes to the rescue – add a Savage Blows talent into the mix and you can secure those kills (and reap a lot of benefits for doing so) rather nicely.

Fire Godlike: once he’s below 50% endurance, he gains 4 damage resistance to everything and deals 2 fire damage per level to every foe who hits him in melee. An obviously good tanky ability though it’s somewhat negated by the fact that most tanks want to have low strength. However, those few who do have it high should definitely be nothing but Fire Godlikes – the damage gain is immense. They can even take the Scion of Flame talent to agument this ability even further.

Moon Godlike: first time he reaches the 25/50/75% endurance thresholds in every combat, he heals an amount of endurance in a very large radius. The amount depends on your level and is affected by your might bonus or penalty – it starts as 10 basic and on level 12 it is something like 40. But, of course, if your godlike is just 3 might (which, actually, is the way to go with some of the tank builds), it gets downgraded into 8-32 range. The radius of healing is also affected by your attributes – intelligence, as usual. But, given that its basic value is immense (20 whopping meters!), it’s much more forgiving – even the 3 int gives you 13 meters which is all that you need, to be honest. So if you want a mighty tank or even a lasting damage dealer, moon godlike is a solid choice.

Nature Godlike: as long as his endurance is below 50%, gains +3 Might, +2 Dexterity and +2 Constitution. Very close to the human bonus – the effects are a bit weaker but, on the other hand, it lasts indefinitely (which can forgive the lack of intelligence, for example). Otherwise, should be used pretty much the same way.

BTW, let’s not forget about an extra godlike penalty – you can’t wear helmet and you lose about 2 extra stat points that way. Still, I think that first three godlike’s abilities are so powerful that it’s rather worth it. Nature godlike, on the other hand, begins to lose to the humans once you take this into consideration.

3. Paladins – the Hitcher
Role: second-line damage dealer + healer.

Order: Kind Wayfarer

Race: Death Godlike. This is one of the instances where his special ability is the vital part of the combo and no one else can really compare.

Stats (the Living Lands bonus included):

M 19
C 10
D 18
P 10
I 11
R 10

It’s a rather simple build. It needs to do a lot of damage so Might and Dexterity are maxed. Rest are at norm. If you wish, though, you can sacrifice Perception and direct those points at Constitution – more longevity that way. Even then, you’re not a tank.

Weapon of Choice: Pike or Quarterstaff. If you redistribute your perception into intelligence (so you have bigger auras), you can even go ranged.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Flames of Devotion. Lay on Hands is rather weak and Flames can be easily augmented to become a rather potent tool in the Hitcher’s hands.

2nd level: The Sword and the Shepherd. That’s why Lay on Hands is atrocious – why heal one character for 30 endurance once per battle when we can twice heal the entire party for 25? The rest of the party, that is – note that Wayfarer is selfless so he doesn’t heal himself up. That’s why the reach weapon choice.

3rd level: Zealous Focus. This build thrives on killing foes and zealous focus helps that greatly. And not only him but all his teammates, of course. The critical specialists (like the battle axe users) will be especially grateful.

4th level: Strange Mercy. Not much of a mercy coming from this paladin, actually. He thrives on bathing in blood of his foes (and his party keeps him company). Kill a foe – heal everyone for 25 endurance. Rinse and repeat. Now it’s obvious why he’s the Death Godlike – who else can finish your foes as well? Killstealing is his raison d’etre (I bet his friends refuse to play Dota with him).

5th level: Sworn Enemy. This pally needs a daily dose of butchery and this little toy really helps that. An insane offensive skill, actually. Limited by its uses (though 3 is a lot) but insane – 15 accuracy is a very rare bonus (if only he healed himself, we could go battle axe melee on our foes – I guess we still can if we take a moon godlike) and damage increase is nothing to sneer about either.

6th level: Bloody Slaughter. Yeah, that’s very kind. Kind of a combo – you need to kill foes and, coupled with godlike’s Death Usher, this makes dealing the finishing blow as easy as it’s gonna get. Gotta keep that healing coming.

7th level: Reviving Exhortation. It’s not very offensive but it’s just too good to pass up.

8th level: Two-Handed style. More damage dealing.

9th level: Righteous Soul. Gives an immense protection against some of the most annoying conditions in the game. A must have for offensive pally.

10th level: Weapon Focus. Augment whatever you use.

11th level: Hastening Exhortation. Exhortation is not in the wayfarer’s style but it’s just too potent to pass up. I guess you can throw it around until thoes foes become wounded and ripe for the slaughter. You can also consider Inspiring Triumph – 7 defenses is not a lot but it won’t hurt anyone.

12th level: Critical Focus. Just a bit of extra damage for the paladin and all friends in the vicinity.

3. Paladins – Sadboys
The problem of bleak walker is that he uses precisely the same tactic as the kind wayfarer only the benefits that he gains from carnage are much lesser. That makes him a total sadboy.

Role: second-line damage dealer.

Order: Bleak Walker

Race: Death Godlike.

Stats (the Dreadfire Archipelago bonus included):

M 18
C 10
D 20
P 10
I 10
R 10

Here we switch for intelligence –

Weapon of Choice: Pike or Quarterstaff.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Flames of Devotion. Lay on Hands is just too bad.

2nd level: The Black Path. See, making your foes frightened is not that bad but it’s definitely worse than healing 25 endurance to everyone. Healing is reliable and always useful whereas some foes may be practically immune to frightened. Another thing is that healing can stack much better than this debuff. So if you have a yelling barbarian in your party, suddenly this special is almost useless.

3rd level: Zealous Focus.

4th level: Bloody Slaughter. I’m ignoring Intense Flames & Remember Rakhan Field as they are rather weak – why would I want 25% to just two strikes per combat when I can gain, like, 15% damage to all my strikes from other talents?

5th level: Sworn Enemy.

6th level: Two-Handed style.

7th level: Reviving Exhortation.

8th level: Weapon Focus.

9th level: Righteous Soul.

10th level: Envenomed Strike – initially there was a savage attack here but I got disappointed in it. See, the weapon modifiers are additive, not multiplicative (even though they are written as x1.2, for example). They’re also applied to the basic bonus of the weapon. So over time they become less and less noticeable. For the pike it’s a constant 3.4 damage, for example. At the cost of the 10% of your hits or crits. Since your attack damage will equal something 30-ish at this point (with decently enchanted weapon), the trade becomes suddenly even. Only it costs us a talent. Ouch. And envenomed strike is just 120 raw damage (all three combined) against any enemy. That’s fine.

11th level: Hastening Exhortation.

12th level: Critical Focus.

So yeah, carbon copy of a Kind Wayfarer only worse.

3. Paladins – mr. Flamboyant
Role: first-line tank & buffer

Order: Darkozzi Paladini

Race: Tough choice. Moon Godlike is great here as Darkozzi’s might makes its healing rather strong and, well, the Darkozzi himself won’t mind against having extra endurance points. As well as his party.

Fire Godlike, on the other hand, amplifies his “burn them all” strategy quite nicely, especially after you take the Scion of Flames talent. So it is about whether you want to be more supportive or damage dealing. Fire Godlikes are definitely more flamboyant, though, so maybe we should stick with the theme.

Stats (the Living Lands bonus included):

M 19
C 18
D 4
P 10
I 17
R 10

Minimized dexterity is a common thing for pure tanks – all the defensive measures devastate your attack potential anyways so why bother? Might is still required for moon’s silver tide, for fire’s battle-forged and for Darkozzi’s special. Constitution is for longevity – frontline tanks need it, obviously. Intelligence is for the length of the buffs – defensive paladin has a lot of good buffs, actually.

With moon godlike, you can also go like this (Old Vailia bonus included):

M 15
C 3
D 4
P 18
I 20
R 18

You’re not that great of a tank (though moon’s extra survivability counts here), but you’re very good as a party leader and, once you find a riposte giving armor, you’ll be not all that bad on the offensive.

Weapon of Choice: Hatchet

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Flames of Devotion. Hard to be flamboyant without flames (and it just so happens that all of the paladins depend much more on their flames than on their lay on hands potential).

2nd level: Fires of Darkozzi Palace. Now that’s a proper indicator of a good party. Whenever Paladini is hit, he deals 10 fire damage to the assailant. That’s rather strong in the first half of the game (maybe one third, even) and while it sorta falls of later on, hey, a comfortable one half is absolutely worth a trait. With Fire Godlike build, it’s double the fun.

3rd level: Zealous Endurance. A staple of tanky paladins – you can never have enough damage reduction.

4th level: Hold the Line. A must have for all kinds of tanks – your primary function is keeping the foes away from your vulnerable damage dealers and keeping them engaged is how you do it. The bonus of this build is that 18 might interrupts will hurt even more.

5th level: Liberating Exhortation. A great way to bail out your friends out of strong disables and, hopefully, when it runs out the enemies will be too dead for that to matter.

6th level: Weapon and Shield Style. Provides decent deflection bonus and a lot of extra Reflexes (that Darkozzi with his minimized dexterity totally needs).

7th level: Reviving Exhortation. For a support character that’s even bigger no-brainer.

8th level: Inspiring Liberation. +10 accuracy is a huge bonus and this ability makes Liberating Exhortation useful even when there are no disables on the table. If you are a Fire Godlike, take Scion of Flames here instead – you may even wish to take it at level six and take Weapon and Shield here. If you’re a leader build, you may choose to skip this altogether and to take Cautious Attack (and then superior deflection) here – you want to max your deflection up because you want to use riposte armor.

9th level: Reinforcing Exhortation. Keep those buffs coming. 15 deflection is also quite considerable, too bad you can’t cast it on yourself.

10th level: Cautious Attack. Gives great deflection bonus and it’s not like we’ve ever cared about our attack speed here.

11th level: Hastening Exhortation. Excellent buff – why miss it?

12th level: Deep Faith. Just a bit of overall survivability.

3. Paladins – Shieldbearer of St. Elega
Aka it’s only paragraph 4 and I can’t bear inventing clever nicknames anymore.

Role: first-line tank & buffer

Race: Moon Godlike. Minimized might harms their healing but there’s really no other tanking race like them.

Stats (Old Vailia bonus included):

M 3
C 15
D 4
P 18
I 20
R 18

Here is a 100% tank, foregoing all kinds of offensive action for the sake of awesome buffs and incredible protection. Huge hps, large deflection – that’s as tanky as a paladin ever gets. Almost – theoretically, you can switch intelligence and perception around but I like my long buffs.

Weapon of Choice: Hatchet

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Flames of Devotion. Even with zero offensive potential, they’re still good. Figure this out.

2nd level: Shielding Flames. +10 deflection to your party is a huge bonus so it’s only natural that we want it at our disposal.

3rd level: Zealous Endurance.

4th level: Hold the Line.

5th level: Liberating Exhortation. A great way to bail out your friends out of strong disables and, hopefully, when it runs out the enemies will be too dead for that to matter.

6th level: Cautious Attack. This one is even better when you take it early on.

7th level: Reviving Exhortation.

8th level: Weapon and Shield Style.

9th level: Reinforcing Exhortation.

10th level: Superior Deflection. The higher deflection goes, the more effective it becomes. Hmm, maybe going for maxed perception isn’t that bad of idea…

11th level: Hastening Exhortation.

12th level: Deep Faith.

If you compare Elega with Darkozzi – the latter is better in the first half of the game thanks to his damage and extra healing, the former is better in the second half as she is just too good at tanking. Shieldbearer build also makes for a better party leader as you can solve a lot of quests with such stats.

3. Paladins – The Right to Bear Arms
This is a build for a mass-shooting party. The Goldpacts are at their best with the firearms and any kind of a shooting party wants a pally. You can adjust other schools too, though, any kind of a pally can be decent in there.

Role: damage dealer and buffer

Order: Goldpact Knight

Race: Wood Elf. You can also try Hearth Orlans but elves are the best at shooting.

Stats (The Living Lands bonus included):

M 19
C 10
D 18
P 10
I 10
R 10

You’re pretty much a pure damage dealer, nothing extra. If you want to have a bit more buffing power and aura size, you can exchange perception for the intelligence – quite a good deal, actually.

Weapon of Choice: Pistol & Blunderbuss. Best combo atm as it is rather flexible. YOu may go Crossbow too – it’s nice for the high accuracy builds as it has the really strong criticals and, against a sworn enemy and under the focus, you will have 21 accuracy bonus.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Flames of Devotion. No matter which build do you go, can’t escape this.

2nd level: Enduring flames. It’s quite a decent damage addition and in the ranged party you’ll have at least one ranger so there’s a combo with that. And it (as well as the flames themselves) works very well with the huge damage of guns.

3rd level: Zealous charge. Move speed is golden for mass-shooting parties as well as disengagement bonus and this provides both aplenty. Very strong in this setup.

4th level: Shot on the Run. Nice combo with the zealous charge.

5th level: Zealous Focus. Yeah, we already have one aura but, as they’re switched instantly, we can profit from both – run, stop, switch to focus, shoot, switch to charge, run again. Focus is just too good to skip it.

6th level: Fast Runner. To keep in line with that ultra-mobility theme.

7th level: Sworn Enemy. We’re sorta damage dealing build so why not go for one of the best damage dealing abilities?

8th level: Weapon Focus: Ruffian or Knight. Depends on your weapon choice. More accuracy means more damage and that’s good.

9th level: Reviving Exhortation. Too good to pass up.

10th level: Gunner. Less reload time means more fun for us. Can also take Marksman for even better accuracy – critical builds probably want that.

11th level: Hastening Exhortation.

12th level: Critical Focus.

Note that this is a combo build, meaning that it really requires the presence of other elements to become truly efficient.

3. Paladins – Weatherproof Pally
This is a build for the very specific weatherproof party combo with two or three high reflex Pale Elves on the front. Read “calldown monk” for detailed explanation. To put it shortly – you place two or three high-reflex tanks and damage dealers on the front, they tie-up the enemy, then your mages mercilessly place reflex-targeting spells on the entire skirmish. Your guys, thanks to their builds, survive. Your foes – not so much. SO it’s all about having diverse and viable and synergistic builds with maxed out Dex and Per – kind wayfarer is a crucial element of such party. He provides lots of healing and he has a big reflexes bonus from the get-go.

Role: first-line tank/damage dealer.

Race: Pale Elf.

Stats (The White That Wends bonus included):

M 18
C 8
D 19
P 20
I 3
R 10

One of the joys of kind wayfarer’s healing is that it allows us to be relatively good tank without having that much hp. And, if you go full-offensive with your paladin, you can more or less neglect your intelligence – it has certain downsides, of course, but you can’t really cut anything else here.

Weapon of Choice: Morningstar. This is a passive-aggressive tank, it doesn’t have a shield but uses healing & interrupts to last long.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Flames of Devotion. It’s always crucial for the wayfarer and we’re no exception.

2nd level: The Sword and the Shepherd. 20 endurance AoE healed really allows us to recover from all those fiery and frosty grazes our casters will be giving us. Yeah, the int is low and AoE is bad (probably – it’s not depicted anywhere in the game atm), but that’s still exactly what you need for this build and party.

3rd level: Zealous Focus. Zealous Endurance looks very attractive to the tank but in our case offense is the best defence, hence this choice. The range is horrible, of course, but it’ll affect us (and +6 accuracy is already worth an ability slot) and a pike user who will be hiding behind our back – that’s fine.

4th level: Strange Mercy. Kill for the living, that’s what the kind wayfarers do. 2.32 radius is sad, but should still affect our frontlines. I guess this party will fight in a very tight formation.

5th level: Sworn Enemy. One of the best offensive self-buffs in the game, actually. And, with our stats, your average paladin buffs become sorta worthless.

6th level: Interrupting Blows. Ah, the beauty of being able to wield morningstar fearlessly while having 20 perception. Time to inflict some severe head traumas.

7th level: Liberating Exhortation. Exhortation does not last that long but still affords us to salvage the situation somehow (like, to move our dominated character far away from the party or to cast crucial spell with a stunned wizard).

8th level: Bloody Slaughter. We’re not a death godlike but we can still secure many kills that way.

9th level: Righteous Soul. Now for this build is golden. The biggest downside of all such builds is that they have low will (and cause problems because of that). This ability fix that almost entirely. Confusion remains, but hey, you can’t have it all.

10th level: Weapon Focus: knight. To keep that morningstar pointy.

11th level: Reviving Exhortation. We didn’t pick it up early as its duration sucks and it wouldn’t be of much use right there. However, at this point it’s gonna be better as, if you have some beefed up character, he’ll have chances to survive even after losing those 177 endurance points.

12th level: Deep Faith. Our mages became too accurate for our good – gotta survive somehow. If you think that’s not a problem, go for the Two-Handed style. Or you can take Weapon and Shield so, should you feel the need to, you can switch to battle axe & kite shield combo and gain colossal reflexes bonus that way. That’s a tactical choice.

4. Barbarians – the Human Bomb
2. Role: damage dealer

Race: Hearth Orlan. Thanks to their Carnage ability, barbarians target numerous foes with each attack and chances that those foes will be also targeted by someone else in your party are pretty high. This build is not very race-demanding, however, so you can try pretty much anything that is good for damage dealing.

Stats (The Old Vailia bonus included):

M 17
C 9
D 18
P 5
I 19
R 10

Good offensive capabilities and high intelligence. This build will be skipping on most int-based abilities but we’ll need it for the primary one – Carnage (which AoE is defined by it even though nowhere in the game does it tell that; and don’t even get me started on manual).

Weapon of Choice: Pollaxe & Estoc with the latter being the dominant one. After 1.05, armor penetration became a real problem for the damage dealing barbs – see, carnage attack hits suffer from the 34% damage penalty. That’s already a lot. Carnage attack grazes add the average 50% graze penalty to that and, the problem is, they totally add – it’s not multiplication, it’s a cumulative 84% penalty. So, if you want to do at least something with your carnage, you really want to have superb armor penetration. Some accuracy will be nice too, but it’s not like the barb himself can do a lot about this – it’s more about being buffed by the party.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Frenzy. Just use it cautiously – if you’re taking a lot of aggro, you can go down rather quickly under this one. Barbarian Yell is not that much worse than this one, btw, so they’re rather interchangeable.

2nd level: Weapon Focus: Adventurer. Previously, you could’ve afforded a lot of flexibility in terms of weapons but now a straight damage dealing barb can’t really go for anything else – smaller weapons just don’t do nearly enough for your carnage and carnage is the name of your game. The very point of the barbarian is to damage a group of foes simultaneously – in 1 vs 1 department, he’s actually very weak.

3rd level: Savage Defiance. Despite looking extremely buff, barbarians are actually somewhat squishy and getting a huge amount of extra endurance (because that’s what this ability is, pretty much) is quite welcome. Especially at this level where it almost doubles your endurance pool.

4th level: Vulnerable Attack – generally, I don’t like this talent too much as the bonus is fixed whereas the penalty is scaled. So, for most of the classes, the growing bonuses to their damage being lessened by the attack speed reduction somewhat negate the usefulness of extra DR by the end of the game. However, not for the barbarian – his damage bonuses are actually non-existent

5th level: This is a bit of an empty one. Previously, One Stands Alone was the undisputed champion here. However, since the 1.05 nerf it became simply an option – ignoring flanked and getting an occasional 20% bonus damage is nice but nowhere near gamebreaking. Blooded seems nice, but once your barbarian gets focused it goes down rather quick so don’t really expect to linger in that sweet under 50% endurance zone. Brute Force gives us a nice accuracy bonus against some foes (which is very important for our carnage hits) but not as many as you’d like to. It’s good if you build around it somewhat by having some good Fortitude debuffs in your team. It’s also not that great on the path of the damned as monsters saving throws are way too high there. Bloodlust is also more for the PoTD – there are lots of trashmobs there which serve as a decent fodder for this ability, on the hard and lower the combats just aren’t that numerous for it to shine. Choose whichever you like – it doesn’t matter that much.

6th level: Two-Handed Style. Just a bit more love to spread around.

7th level: Thick-Skinned or Threatening Presence or one of the talents from level 5. I like thick-skinned the most as it provides more survivability than it seems and, well, that’s one of the qualities the barb is seriously lacking. Threatening Presence is very good in combination with brute force and your other team members may also benefit from your foes’ resistances getting a bit lower. But, if you really want to try something from level 5, you can take them too, it’s not the most important choice ever.

8th level: Accurate Carnage. We definitely don’t want to be a grazing animal.

9th level: Vengeful Defeat. Here’s where the name of this build comes from. I’ll explain at level 11, though. As for the Venegeful Defeat – it’s a nice consolation talent for when your barb gets overwhelmed and killed and, more importantly, it can be built around. Steal a Second chance cloak from the Eder – now you fall down twice, ergo twice the mass attacks. Get your pally friend to bail you out once more – 3x vengeful defeats. And additional resurrect – more and more mass attacks. Your foes are not likely to live for this long, however. If you don’t like combo-play, just replace it with the Barbaric Shout (nice debuff but nothing impressive at this stage of the game) or one of the previous passives you’ve missed.

10th level: Bloody Slaughter – it’s a nice damage dealing ability, actually. Especially when you’re hitting lots of targets so you’re almost bound to vanquish some wounded ones.

11th level: Heart of Fury. Obviously strong, even if you can’t use it that often. Now, for the human bomb part – it just gives you this wonky tactical move. Rush alone into the midst of foes, hit them all with the Heart of Fury, get knocked out, hit them all with the Vengeful Defeat. Lots of AoE damage and I hope the rest of the party is not dilly-dallying and is throwing even more AoE at that group of foes. You won’t use that often but it’s a funny trick. As before, if you don’t like combos, just load up on those passives – on PoTD, btw, I prefer to have as many passives as possible for my barb. The battles there are very long and once per combat abilities just don’t give enough impact as something that’s constantly working.

12th level: Sanctifier or one of the other Monster-hating talents. We’re skipping Barbaric Blow as it bonuses are actually applied only to the primary target (that’s horrible) and Greater Frenzy just doesn’t add up that much. Stalwart Defiance can be considered, though – it gives a lot of protections and enemy spells can be quite an annoyance to us.

4. Barbarians – Active Defense System
Role: crowd controller

Race: Hearth Orlan. Previously, he was optional – for this build, he’s absolutely mandatory.

Stats (The Old Vailia bonus included):

M 17
C 9
D 18
P 5
I 19
R 10

The stats are the same – the difference here is in the talents and general approach.

Weapon of Choice: Flail or Spear. And not just any flail or spear – only two very specific will do, a properly crafted Cladhaliath (just answer about subduing the power and bringing people together) or a Starcaller (can be bought at the start of act 3) are required. Their benefits is that they can stun your foes on a critical hit and, well, the stun is a very good disable and it last for quite a while. Starcaller has the advantage of being a fast weapon (more frequent attacks mean more stuns), Claidhaliath, on the other hand, can be assembled in chapter 2 if you choose to support the Dozens. So, since you attack a lot of foes, your chances to stun at least someone are pretty good. That’s why the hearth orlan is indispensable here – you want as much hit to crit conversion as you can get. Hirbel’s Protective Skin, potion of merciless gaze, paladin’s upgraded zealous aura, priest’s Dire Blessing – those are your friends here. Accuracy buffs and deflection debuffs will work rather nicely too. Mind you, your damage output won’t compare with that of the pure DD barbarian – this is more of a crowd control build.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Frenzy or Barbaric Yell. Not a lot of difference here.

2nd level: One-Handed Style – accuracy is quintessential for this build. Note that before you’ll get your mega-stunning toys, you’ll prefer to hang around with sabre.

3rd level: Savage Defiance.

4th level: Accurate Carnage – we’re skipping the vulnerable attack here as we really hate the speed penalties.

5th level: Brute Force – for this build, anything that can potentially bring us more crits is valuable. Hence, not a lot of choice here.

6th level: Weapon Focus: Adventurer or Peasant. Depends on whether you go for the Claidhaliath or Starcaller. I’m taking this late because, I’ll repeat, early game will be spent with the sabre where this bonus just won’t get applied.

7th level: Threatening Presence. Just to utilize our Brute Force better.

8th level: Bloody Slaughter – it’s quite good against the boss-type enemies, helps us finish them with more frequent stuns (and, thus, less troubles).

9th level: Barbaric Shout. This build lack the damage output to go for the vengeful defeat and, well, this ties into the crowd control direction nicely.

10th level: Envenomed Strike – it’s not that bad against bosses if you do frequent criticals. Barbaric blow looks like a natural fit, but it’s just once per combat and the crit bonus is only against the primary target – that’s not a good as it looks.

11th level: Heart of Fury. Good combat opener – lots of attacks means lots of chances to stun someone.

12th level: One of the monster-hating talents.

Btw, one alternative option here is to mix two barbarian styles – go for the Weapon Focus: Adventurer > Vulnerable Attack > Two-Handed Style > One-Handed Style > Accurate Carnage > Bloody Slaughter talent progression. You can play both parts this way.

4. Barbarians – The Cheese Stands Alone
(the meat, on the other hand, has frequent visitors)

Role: tank and debuffer.

Race: Moon Godlike. Nothing else can replace them here.

Stats (the White That Wends bonus included):

M 18
C 3
D 10
P 19
I 18
R 10

This is a tanky barbarian build. Well, as tanky as a barb can get – they used to make quite a fine pure tanks but 1.05 put an end to it. Uncharacteristically, here we prefer perception to the resolve – that’s because this build combines both stunning and interruptions to mess with our foes as much as possible.

Weapon of Choice: Morningstar. And a very specific one. You see, the main danger of this build is that it works perfectly only with one specific weapon – Mabec’s Morning Star. It’s a wonderful toy but, the thing is, it’s sold by the wandering merchant Azzuro. Who may or may not offer it to sell you at your stronghold. So do you feel lucky? Of course, you can play the odds in your favor – as soon as you acquire the stronghold (rush it), start working on its prestige exclusively. Let the Maerwald go, hire the prestige buffing henchmen, construct the prestigious buildings first. Maximize your chances – the payoff is worth it. Worst case scenario, you’ll just use pikes – Tall Grass’ disable is not as insane but still sorta workable. That’s why we’ll delay our weapon focus in this one.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Barbaric Yell. This build tries to be defensive and tanky and yell is rather good for that purpose.

2nd level: Two-Handed style. We’re not the best damage dealers but we can do something.

3rd level: Savage Defiance. For those tough scenarios where even Moon’s healing is not enough. Mind you, you generally want to use it after the first two waves of healing are done.

4th level: Interrupting Blows – we’re swinging that morningstar for a reason, you know.

5th level: One Stands Alone. It’s less about the damage bonus and more about no flanked penalty here. Quite a fine boon for a tank.

6th level: Cautious attack. We’re not a purely defensive build, though, so use that modality to your favor, switching it on and off as necessary.

7th level: Thick Skinned. Gotta survive somehow.

8th level: Superior Deflection. Just a standard tanking fare.

9th level: Barbaric Shout. Our deflection is not that great (relatively) so we absolutely love giving the -20 accuracy penalty to our foes.

10th level: Weapon Focus: Knight. Or, if things went badly for us, Soldier. We can still hope, though, so you may take the Accurate Carnage here and delay the decision until level 12.

11th level: Heart of Fury.

12th level: Accurate Carnage.

4. Barbarians – General Butt-Naked
This is the craziest build of them all but then, insanity is pretty much a prerequisite for fighting naked.

Role: damage dealer and debuffer.

Race: Death Godlike. Another instance where his racial is the part of the combo.

Stats (the Old Vailia bonus included):

M 18
C 8
D 19
P 3
I 20
R 10

For an insane guy he’s surprisingly smart. Life is full of wonders, I guess.

Weapon of Choice: Pike. You can totally Carnage with reach weapons, btw. Ranged are no-no, reach are ok. And, well, fighting actually naked is probably a bit too much – go for the Robes and Padded Armors instead. The new Angio’s Gambeson is pretty cool with this build.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Frenzy. It lasts quite a bit for us and provides humongous attack speed buff – that’s what we’re aimed at, crazy attack speed.

2nd level: Weapon Focus: Soldier. +6 accuracy is incredibly helpful at the start of the game. Well, at each point of the game but it’s especially noticeable here.

3rd level: Wild Sprint. We’re so squishy that Savage Defiance won’t save us – only this thing will bail us out of troubles, should the need arise (hint: it will). Blooded may look like a fine alternative, but it’s too risky to get hit with this build – low deflection means crits galore. So it’s better to invest in a safety valve.

4th level: Bloody Slaughter. Nice combo with death godlike’s racial that fuels our next ability. Also, the pike of our choice will probably be the Tall Grass and it’s quite synergistic with it.

5th level: Bloodlust. Finishing foes should be easy for this build and so this one shouldn’t be too hard to activate about twice per large battle.

6th level: Two-Handed style.

7th level: Threatening Presence. With 20 int (or more, should we equip some magical items), our aura radius is big enough to hit foes which we can reach with our pike. So we can debuff them from the relative safety – nifty.

8th level: Vulnerable Attack.

9th level: Barbaric Shout. He really doesn’t want to be in the midst of the foes and, thanks to his escaping potential, this character should be the last to die, making the Vengeful Defeat pointless. This disable, on the other hand, is pretty cool and handy.

10th level: Accurate Carnage.

11th level: Brute Force. Once again, we don’t want to be surrounded by our foes so Heart of Fury is not that good for this build. So let’s pick Brute Force – it’s quite a nice combo with the potent Threatening Presence (-14 Fortitude for them is +14 accuracy for us – lots of crits against scrawny foes).

12th level: Fast Runner or Powerful Sprint. We’re out of offensive options (barbaric blow is not that great as we rely on lots of speedy common attacks, not on some occasional specials) so let’s upgrade our escape mechanism. Fast Runner gives a constant mobility bonus, Powerful Sprint is better when you’re in a dire pinch – all in all, they’re equal.

Note that this build requires some careful micro.

5. Chanters – short intro
One important thing to understand about a chanter is that he focuses on either phrases or invocations. Sure, you gain both as you level up but see, to cast invocation you must first pronounce enough phrases. From three to five, depending on invocation’s level. And the higher the phrase is, the longer it lasts. 1st level is 4 seconds, 2nd level is 6, 3rd is 8. And you start a new phrase only after finishing the previous one.

That means that if you want to cast 3rd level invocation with 3rd level phrases, you’ll need to wait 40 seconds. Using 1st level phrases is only 20 seconds, on the other hand. But, obviously, high level phrases provide more benefit than the low level ones. That’s why you’ll have to focus on one of the aspects and that’s the main difference between the two primary builds.

5. Chanters – 80s shred
Role: second-line damage dealer and buffer/disabler.

Race: anything goes.

Stats (Human, the Old Vailia bonus included):

M 19
C 16
D 3
P 3
I 19
R 18

On the other hand, you can forego constitution and shape this character more into a party leader (old vailia bonus included):

M 17
C 3
D 3
P 18
I 19
R 18

This build is vulnerable but it’s one of the few leader builds that can talk and do damage in the process. You will be using a lot of kiting to survive, though.

I’ve also been asked to make a semi-melee build for him and here it is:

M 17
C 9
D 10
P 3
I 19
R 18

Grab a pike and have some fun in the second row.

All in all, this chanter variant focuses on phrases and thus it needs lots of might. It doesn’t need to attack physically, though, hence is the minimized dex. You can redirect 6 points from constitution to resolve or perception – overall survivability will remain roughly the same.

Weapon of Choice: Hatchet.

Talents, ability and spell choices:

1st level: Come, Come Soft Winds of Death – irreplaceable in the early game, really. Your primary damage dealing tool until you get better phrases. Doesn’t look (sound?) like much but burns a lot of their endurance away. Don’t leave home without this one.

Blessed Was Wengridh, Quickest of His tribe – that’s mostly for the future. At early levels, you want to repeat Come, Come ad nauseam, without mixing it with anything else. Wengridh will shine later on.

But Reny Daret’s Ghost, He Would not Rest – a rather handy summon. He’s not brawny so don’t throw him into the midst of combat, but his damage against early game foes is pretty good and he has sneak attack – flank with him.

2nd level: The Thunder Rolled Like Waves on Black Seas – it’s not about damage, it’s about 7,3 seconds stun (that you can repeat every 12 seconds). For an early game disable, that’s colossal.

Fast Runner – this build doesn’t really plan on staying in combat with anyone. Escaping is a much better alternative. Ancient memory is getting destroyed by the nerfbat in the next patch so it’s better be skipped.

3rd level: Dull the Edge, Blunt the Point – better than it looks. Let’s say that we have 5 damage resistance and they deal 10 damage to us normally. That’s 5 damage per hit. Under this debuff, they start dealing only 9 damage and, after DR reduction, it becomes only 4 damage. And 5 to 4 is a 20% damage reduction, not just 10.

On the other hand, if you have some good interrupters in your party, take Thick Grew Their Tongues, Stumbling O’er Words – -10 Concentration is a huge boon to your Active Defense barbarian.

4th level: And Hel-Hyraf Crashed Upon The Shield – provides a lot of extra damage to the rest of your party, especially to the barbarians and dual-wielders. Or to any spell effect with multiple damage instances.

Weapon and Shield style – you plan to run but every plan can go wrong. Can’t run that well from stuff like fireballs, also.

5th level: Rime and Frost Followed the Footfalls of Karth – excellent stuff. Allows us to basically solo certain encounters. You just run away from your foe, leaving a deadly trail. Enemy chases you foolishly and gets all blown up. What’s not to like? Even in proper combat it’s not hard to abuse. And that’s why we’ve taken Wendgridh at level 1 – bonus movement speed combos up really nicely with this one.

6th level: At the Sound of His Voice, the Killers Froze Stiff – huge AoE, paralyze for 11.6 seconds. Affects only foes – no worries about catching your comrades (that’s a huge plus of all chanter’s disables, btw – enemy only, you can place those templates carelessly).

Secrets of Rime – let’s do more damage with our infinite path of frost.

7th level: Lo, their Endless Host, the Harbingers Doom – not as good as Rime and Frost but it’s mostly against the foes who don’t care about frost or cannot be kited.

Alternatively, if you have a couple of gunners in your party, Sure-Handed Ha Nocked Her Arrows with Speed will be incredibly good so take it instead. It’s a huge boon to the gunners and a centerpiece of a shooting party. We’ll discuss this a bit later.

8th level: Shatter their Shackles, Cast off their Chains – I don’t like 2nd level summons as they will become redundant after a while so I’d rather take this mega-utility spell. It won’t be useful in each combat, but when it’s good it’s very good.

Cautious Attack – more defensive talents. Scion of Flames sounds like an awesome combo with The Dragon Thrashed but it doesn’t work atm. We’ll see if that’s as intended or a bug.

9th level: The Dragon Thrashed, The Dragon Wailed – that’s why 80s shred, because we shred and burn our foes to death. Should’ve used the thrash metal allusion, though, it’s a better joke, no? Anyhow, 50 burn and 50 slash damage every 8 seconds, what’s more to ask here? Now, you don’t want to be chanting it constantly, you want to interrupt it with a level 1 or 2 chant (the lingering effect makes that ok), but that’s still a lot of damage being dealt.

10th level: Gernise’s Beast Lit the Night with his Breath – you can choose Urdel & Gurdel too, they’re both fine summons. And summons are pretty rare in this game so it’s nice to have one. Note that 3rd level spells take 34-36 seconds to charge up (on the average) so don’t plan on using them too often – you won’t.

Snake’s Reflexes or Superior Deflection or Bear’s Fortitude. Choose whatever you think you lack the most. You can even consider Graceful Retreat if you’re a leader chanter – with your already high deflection, it makes breaking up your engagement an easy task. Your poor fiancee.

11th level: Aefyllath Ues Mith Fyr. Apparently, it works but it doesn’t do what it says – instead, it just adds 25% more damage to the melee & ranged attack damage of all your friends. It also doesn’t seem to be affected by the chanter’s strength. Is it a bug? Or a messed up feature?

As of now, take any of the remaining two 3rd level phrases – they’re both moderately useful and you’ll almost always skip them in favor of The Dragon Thrashed.

12th level: Rise Again, Rise Again, Scions of Adon – can be quite a get out of jail free card. You can even plan your battle around it – run around while your party is getting killed, resurrect it (the AoE is big enough for that), run around some more, resurrect it again… No rest for the wicked. This possibility seems much stronger than the moderate damage of Seven Nights She Waited While the White Winds Wept (though, apparently, if you’re standing next to the monster and place a template in the right way, you can hit him twice – maybe you can consider that here) or The Brideman Slew Thirty ‘Fore They Crossed Half the Hall buff. The buff is good but with your slow phase accumulation it just comes into play way too late.

Snake’s Reflexes or Superior Deflection or Bear’s Fortitude.

5. Chanters – Hard Rock
Role: tank and buffer/disabler.

Race: Fire Godlike or Pale Elf.

Stats (Pale Elf, the Old Vailia bonus included):

M 3
C 18
D 4
P 17
I 19
R 17

This chanter variant focuses on invocations and thus has no use for might. As well as the offensive chanter, it also skips dex so it can easily focus on being an ultimate tank.

Weapon of Choice: Hatchet.

Talents, ability and spell choices:

1st level: Come, Come Soft Winds of Death – surprisingly enough, the damage here is not affected by might. Hence, in early game you’re both tank and effective damage dealer – sweet deal.

Dull the Edge, Blunt the Point – kinda no-brainer for the tanky character.

But Reny Daret’s Ghost, He Would not Rest – as good as it usually is.

2nd level: The Thunder Rolled Like Waves on Black Seas – your damage with it is crap, but who cares? The 7,3 seconds stun doesn’t go anywhere. That’s the point here.

Hold the Line – ancient memory is nerfed by low might so we get straight into the tanking business.

3rd level: At the Sight of their Comrades, their Hearts Grew Bold – for the times when you are assailed by those fortitude and will targeting spells.

Taking Thick Grew Their Tongues, Stumbling O’er Words if you have interrupters is still an option.

4th level: And Hel-Hyraf Crashed Upon The Shield – you can also consider Not Felled by the Axe, Not Broken by the Storm here. Won’t cast it often but it’s a decent utility option.

Weapon and Shield style.

5th level: Rime and Frost Followed the Footfalls of Karth – despite your low basic damage, it can still work. You just kite them for longer and that’s it. Besides, it’s not only the damage – it’s the hobbled debuff also and that can enable your rogues sneak attack. That combo can work too. And, well, you’re focused on invoking so you won’t even be using your high level chants that much – just focus on spamming the 1st level ones.

6th level: At the Sound of His Voice, the Killers Froze Stiff – every 16 seconds this build will paralyze his foes for 11.6 seconds. At least it will have a chance to do that. An obvious choice.

Cautious Attack.

7th level: Lo, their Endless Host, the Harbingers Doom – reducing your foes’ accuracy is quite a nice way of increasing your tanking potential. Still, don’t expect to cast it often. You may even take one of the first level phrases over it, it’ll be fine.

Or, if you have enough gunners, the option of Sure-Handed Ha Nocked Her Arrows with Speed is great.

8th level: Shatter their Shackles, Cast off their Chains.

Superior Deflection.

9th level: Aefyllath Myth Fyr – nevermind its description, it works only it doesn’t do what is written. Instead of adding direct damage, it makes your group’s weapons burning, upping their damage for 25% (it’s added after DR is deducted). And, apparently, it couldn’t care less about your might. So it’s the best 3rd level option possible for this kind of a chanter. We’ll probably want to weave this with the 1st level chants (with 1st level chants going first) so we are still casting more or less frequently.

10th level: The Brideman Slew Thirty ‘Fore They Crossed Half the Hall – for this build, I think, the buff is better than the summon. You get this buff in the mid-combat and so you gain a lot of utility that way. It’s also better than The Bride Caught their Ruse and Set to Make them Pay – the Bride targets somewhat specific stats, not useful for every character. The Brideman is much more universal than that. Well, you probably can have a party where the Bride is better but you’ll easily know when that’s the case.

Bear’s Fortitude – let’s work on our low saves.

11th level: Seven Men, Onto the Deck They Went or The Silver Knights’ Shields Broke Both Arrow and Blade – Dragon is useless because of our low might but that doesn’t matter. Once again, we plan on spamming 1st level phrases, not on using these ones. We’ll take one of them just in case but they’re quite pointless for us.

12th level: Rise Again, Rise Again, Scions of Adon – should anything flank your party and wipe out them, at least you can somewhat fix that. Nice option to have.

Snake’s Reflexes or Bull’s Will. Just another defensive talent.

5. Chanters – Speed Metal
(last time I checked it, bullets were metallic and pretty fast)

Role: third-line damage dealer and buffer.

Race: Wood Elf.

Stats (with the Old Vailia bonus included):

M 18
C 10
D 17
P 4
I 19
R 10

The Sure-Handed Ha phrase is pretty insane and so the ranged build around it is quite predictable. Note that you build your entire party around this idea – couple of tanks, Goldpact Knight, Gun chanter and a couple of Rogues and Rangers, that’s how you go at it. If you feel radical, you can even skip tanks and go full-on shooters.

Weapon of Choice: Arquebus.

Talents, ability and spell choices:

1st level: At the Sight of their Comrades, their Hearts Grew Bold – however good Come, Come is, gun chanter just does not want to stay close enough to his foes to use it. So let’s take the defensive phrase for the future.

Blessed Was Wengridh, Quickest of His tribe – one of the core elements of this party build. Coupled with paladin’s Zealous charge and Fast Runner talent, that’ll be 4 movement for everyone. Good luck chasing that, mr. monster.

But Reny Daret’s Ghost, He Would not Rest – still a decent summon. Gotta have some early game tools, right?

2nd level: White Worms Writhed in the Bellies of the Dead – the range is huge (a definite plus for us) and it can be rather devastating in early game combats.

Fast Runner – let’s work on our mobility from the get-go.

3rd level: Dull the Edge, Blunt the Point – all the remaining phrases need to be aimed at foes (whom you want to avoid) and thus not very useful. So it doesn’t matter what you pick here.

4th level: The Thunder Rolled Like Waves on Black Seas – should anyone get close to your gunner stack, they’ll definitely regret that.

Shot on the Run – can’t kite without that, y’know.

5th level: Sure-Handed Ha Nocked Her Arrows with Speed – the raison d’etre of this build.

6th level: At the Sound of His Voice, the Killers Froze Stiff.

Gunner – no such things as too fast reloading.

7th level: Rime and Frost Followed the Footfalls of Karth – considering that this party composition is build around kiting, why not take the tool which amplifies that aspect greatly?

8th level: Shatter their Shackles, Cast off their Chains – +25 defense against disengaging looks especially sweet for us.

Weapon focus: Soldier – gotta land those bullets nicely.

9th level: Aefyllath Ues Myth Fyr – 25% extra damage to our shots (atm it’s not working as descripted – read offensive chanter) is not a bad deal at all. Pretty much a no-brainer.

10th level: Oh, But Knock Not on the Door of Urdel and Gurdel – you’ll throw you summons to slow down and distract your foes and ogre duo is better at this.

Marksman.

11th level: The Dragon Thrashed, The Dragon Wailed – not our main plan, but why not?

12th level: The Bride Caught their Ruse and Set to Make them Pay – if your ranged stack is getting slaughtered, I doubt that Rise Again will help you much. Let’s take something to increase our killing power instead. For this build, I think, attack speed is more important than might so we stick with the Bride.

Graceful Retreat or Snake’s Reflexes.

6. Cipher – no ciphers included
Unlike other characters, Cipher is a very narrow class. He needs both great physical damage and high Intelligence so his stats are pretty much set in stone. And, as he needs to attack his foes but is incredibly squishy, he should stick to the ranged combat – melee is way to risky. Especially as the Cipher has huge incentive to fight unarmored – lots of extra attacks that way, plenty of focus generated, much more powers used.

Note that his soul whip’s Focus restoration seems to be tied to the damage you deal. 20-25% of it, apparently. So it doesn’t matter whether you use fast or slow weapons as long as you deal good damage. There is a Blunderbuss + Draining Whip combo but it doesn’t become viable until relatively far into game.

Role: third-line damage dealer, disabler & buffer

Race: Wood Elf.

Stats (with the Old Vailia bonus included):

M 18
C 8
D 19
P 4
I 19
R 10

You need great might & dexterity to deal your physical damage, thus regaining focus, and your powers are useless without int. We minimize perception as it’s the safest dump stat here. Not a lot of options here. Theoretically, you can dump strength and go into a pure control & buff cipher, but even then, what other stat would you need? Everything else is useless for him.

Weapon of Choice: Arquebus and Blunderbuss.

Talents, ability and power choices:

1st level: Whisper of Treason – charms are incredibly good. For 14 second, the most dangerous foe stops fighting you and tries to harm his team. And his team tries to harm him back in return. Note that the poor charmed fella will have 25 penalty to his Accuracy & protections – he won’t be good at killing his ex-buddies but they will harm him extremely well. Keep that in mind when choosing the target.

Antipathetic Field – this power creates a thick line between you and target foe which will exist for 6 seconds. You’re tied by it and as either of you moves, the line moves as well. Every second, the line deals damage to everyone caught under it, either friend or foe. The original target is unaffected, though. Anyways, that’s 6 instances of 17.5 corrupt damage on average – that’s almost one hundred damage! From a first level spell! Yeah, you’ll need to micro your cipher properly to avoid harming your party, but it’s definitely a great choice.

2nd level: Mind Wave – the AoE shape of this spell is a bit strange but it’s so huge that it hardly matters. A lot of foes will go prone for 4.4 seconds – what more could you ask from a first level disable?

Biting Whip – makes us deal 20% more damage with our weapon. That’s a lot of extra damage and we seriously need that.

Powers we skip:

Tenuous Grasp – I’d rather charm foe for 14 seconds than make him confused for 8.

Eyestrike – the description is wrong, the surrounding foes are blinded for only 5.8 second. So, tbh, I’d rather make them prone for 4.4 with Mind Wave.

Soul Shock – it’s nice and reliable but it lacks the crazy damage dealing potential of antipathetic field.

3rd level: Mental Binding – good disable, long duration, huge area of effect. What’s not to like? The best thing is that being stuck gives enemies -20 deflection so our cipher can hit them easily, regaining his focus back.

Recall Agony – an incredible focusing tool. Have some kind of a boss that is very tanky and hard to bring down? This spell will help you a lot. You won’t use this often but where it’s needed it’s great.

4th level: Psychovampiric Shield or Phantom Foes. The former drains 20 Concentration and Will from your target so it is great if you have strong interrupters and/or plan to use further will-targeting attacks at the victim (charm it, for example). The latter is great with rogues, enabling their sneak attacks instantly. So you make the choice here depending on your party composition.

Draining Whip – good way to replenish our focus, especially in combo with blunderbuss.

Powers we skip:

Mind Blades – not bad, but antipathetic field does more damage, generally.
Amplified Thrust – horrible. The damage amount is somewhat small and we can’t even control the target precisely. Yuck.

5th level: Ectopsychic Echo – an antipathetic field 2.0, only this time you tie it to your ally. However, it does more damage per ticks and it last longer, making, like, 10 ticks in total. Yeah, the damage it does is ridiculous, especially against lightly armored targets. Sure, you need to position your party and to micro it properly, but the damage output is absolutely worth the effort.

Soul Ignition – the damage itself is not that great but it seems to ignore the resistances. Is that a bug? Well, as long as it lasts, it’s not great but useful enough to merit taking.

6th level: Marksman. The more accurate we are, the more damage we do. The more damage we do, the more focus we regain. We could take weapon focus, but we want to switch between blunderbuss or arquebus.

The problem with powers here is that all of the remaining ones are either very specific or very mediocre. So you can pick anything and everything, really.

Pain Link – the best one remaining but it needs to be built around. The beauty of it is that its AoE is huge and deals raw damage. So your party member loses 200 endurance, everyone around are dealt 50 raw damage. Now, that’s not as impressive, but what if he loses 400 endurance? Of course, that should be something like the Human Bomb barbarian (only with the Moon Godlike race so he’s even sturdier), some magical items and further healing. Then it’s rather easy to deal incredible damage with this spell (breaking through all resists, that’s the beauty). Apart from that, it’s not very useful, though.

Puppet Master – the problem is that it is actually equal to the Whisper of Treason. Yeah, on practice, the domination is almost equal to charmed. Only Whisper costs less focus and has larger range.

Secret Horrors – very nice disabling area and duration, but the effect itself is mediocre and, if you have a barbarian, even redundant.

Fractured Volition – gives -24 to all non-deflection protections and makes your target so slow it crawls but I’m not sure its worth 20 focus. To bring down strong targets, there are better choices and it’s obviously useless against crowds.

7th level: Pain Block – your tank will love this. 10 extra damage reduction and 80 endurance restored over a large amount of time (so you can cast it even when he’s healthy and still gain decent healing out of it). That’s gonna make one tough nut to crack.

Silent Scream – sorta ok disable with slight AoE damage. You won’t be using it often but rest of the powers on this level are even more redundant.

8th level: Gunner.

Mind Lance – pretty much the rendition of the classical dnd lightning bolt spell, just dealing piercing damage. It’s not that fancy, tbh, and doesn’t truly compare to Ectopsychic Echo.

Wild Leech – too expensive and unpredictable, thus unreliable.

Body Attunement – the cipher himself doesn’t really need DR, he survives by the proper positioning, not by tanking. And, as a focusing effect, Recall Agony is cheaper and better.

So these three are all meh – choose whichever.

9th level: Ringleader – make one half of their party fight the other one. What can go wrong? Did I mentioned that the cipher really benefits from the stealth skill so you can open your combat with this?

Second is Tactical Meld or Borrowed Instinct. Both are good and enable you to do great amounts of damage. The difference is that Instinct gives better benefit (while also taking 32 will away from its victim – that asks for an obvious follow-up) but it can miss so it’s not reliable. Whereas Meld is more limited in what it allows you to do but is 100% reliable. Risky or safety? Your choice.

6. Cipher – continuation
10th level: Detonate – finish a weak target to deal about 60 damage to everyone around it. TBH, it’s not that great and you can even take both Meld and Instinct instead, just to stay flexible.

Weapon Focus: soldier. Just to polish our Arquebus a bit. Or, if you prefer blunderbuss, Ruffian.

11th level: Disintegration – the description is misleading. It deals 30 seconds every couple of second for the entire duration. So, by the end of it, it deals about two hundreds raw, unpreventable damage. That’s very lethal, more so against high DR targets.

Amplified Wave – Mind Wave on steroids. Hits an entire screen, longer prone duration, better damage to all enemies. The cost is steep, of course, but it’s worth it.

12th level: Mind Plague – the projectile here could’ve jumped a bit faster, it’s a bit sluggish to affect all its targets but otherwise, a sturdy debuffing spell. Not much choice here anyway.

Vulnerable Shot for the blunderbuss usage. If you’re not interested in that – there are lots of options. Greater Focus is actualle bad as it does not add to your starting focus and max is huge anyways. So take either something for your spell saves or some of the monster hatred talents. Fast Runner can work too for better positioning.

Racial variations: won’t be making extra pages for these ones as they’re almost identical.

Death Godlike: takes Bloody Slaughter at level six. So Cipher needs to deal a lot of damage to regain his focus – ok, let’s deal up that great damage by finishing up heavily wounded foes and racking up focus that way. Note that, obviously, a party should have just one killstealer.

Island Aumaua: takes Quick Switch at level 6, takes Arms Bearer at level 8. So, just as island aumaua do, instead of reloading guns he will switch them. Lots of burst damage that way, lots of focus gained at the start of the combat.

7. Monks – short intro
One thing that needs to be said about monks in general is that it’s not DnD and they’re not required to run around naked and fight with their bare fists. They have precisely one ability like that – it boosts their fist damage and, unfortunately, the boost is slim and absolutely not worth it. It just can’t compare with a properly enchanted weapons. And, as they have no armorless special abilities, you go with the full plate like everyone else does.

Well, it’s a bit variable in their case. Monks special abilities are fueled by wounds – you take 10 damage, you receive a wound. Mind you, they’re temporary and their duration depends on your intelligence. So to be useful, they need to take damage but not so much that they’re toast. So, depending on the battle, they may wish to go full-armored, lightly-armored or bare chested.

Monks also benefit incredibly from the draining (i.e., vampiric) weapons. All melee combatants do, but monks benefit the most. You get more life – you can take more wounds – you’re more useful. They’re absolutely necessary on them (which is why fists suck even more).

7. Monks – Some Like It Hot
Role: second-line damage dealer.

Race: Fire Godlike

Stats (the Deadfire Archipelago bonus included):

M 18
C 17
D 20
P 3
I 10
R 10

While there are lots of talks about Fire Godlike monk tank going on, I don’t think that’s such a great idea. Partially that’s cause its great damage is somewhat bug-dependent and, after a couple of patches, it’ll vanish. Mostly it’s because the monk can tank but he’s a disabler-tank – he prefers to keep his foes down on the ground and helpless. And when they’re there they don’t hit monk and don’t burn. He also has no use for the high might as a tank and that’s required to squeeze the most out of the Battle-Forged racial. If you want to play with fire this way, go Darkozzi Paladini. Monk, on the other hand, is about lots of damage and a bit of durability. Usually, monks don’t need that much hp but Fire Godlike profits from a high hp pool greatly. Monks are about transitioning their pain unto their foes and Fire Godlike is like 2x of that.

Weapon of Choice: Estoc.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Swift Strikes. We’re all about dealing damage quickly to kill our foes and regain our health and, well, 25% of extra speed surely helps that.

2nd level: Weapon Focus: Adventurer. DR-removing weapons are the best for the monk and estoc is probably the best of them. If you want to go two weapons, you may go for double stiletto (only start with two-weapons style), but that’s a bit weaker option in my opinion. This talent is also a bit metagamey in the early game, you’ll see why.

3rd level: Turning Wheel. It’s not a wheel, it’s the main engine of this build. And, btw, we want to have high DR piercing because the bonus damage is added after the final damage is calculated. So if you have 30 basic damage versus 10 DR and ten wounds, it’s not (30×1.5)-10. It is (30-10)x1.5. So the more DR you ignore, the more gain you receive from the Turning Wheel. Hence estoc or stilettos.

4th level: Vulnerable Attack – we just continue with that logic.

5th level: Stunning Blow – stun is a very beneficial effect for any kind of a damage dealer because of 30 deflection penalty. Yeah, it’s not that long but we can do wonders in the process. Bloody, grizzly wonders.

6th level: Scion of Flame – amplifies both our Turning Wheel and Battle-Forged damage. With a bit of fire reduction as a bonus? What’s not to like?

7th level: Rooting Pain. Our perception is dumped so we won’t receive much interrupts with it, but the damage is fine enough and it fits with the “let them suicide upon ourselves” theme.

8th level: Two-Handed style. If you went with the two-weapons choice instead, select an appropriate weapon focus.

9th level: Duality of Mortal Presence. Not much to choose here, tbh. We don’t want any of the wound spending abilities as we like our wounds maxed up to keep the wheel turning. And other passives are pretty yucky. If you’re evenly matched, you’ll experience 15% misses from a foe. So, to reflect one missile with the Soul Mirror, you’ll need to wait until he does 14 attacks. On the average. Not to mention that enemy archers just won’t focus your monk. Enervating blows is a so-so debuff and it requires a wholly different build. Crucible of Suffering is also mediocre (and definitely worse than duality). Long Stride is a bit pointless here – we want to stand and fight, not to run in circles. So a bit more deflection is not the worst option here.

10th level: Lesser Wounds. 25% more wounds, pretty much. Helps us reach that point faster. You can skip it for Bloody Slaughter or one of the monster hatred choices, however – it’s not that important.

11th level: Clarity of Agony – it’s actually rather cute and helpful. I don’t like to take it too early but it’s a potent tool against all sort of debuffs (which you will experience in almost every combat – wish this thing was once per encounter instead of twice per rest).

12th level: Bloody Slaughter or monster hatred talents (whomever you hate the most). Remaining monk-specific talents are bad – mortification of the soul is pointless (if you need to use it, you’re doing something wrong) and lighting punches doesn’t give enough damage.

7. Monks – pr0n tank
Role: tank-disabler

Race: Hearth Orlan.

Stats (The White That Wends bonus included):

M 2
C 15
D 3
P 21
I 18
R 19

Pretty standard tanking stats. What’s interesting here is that we focus on the perception – that’s because, even with the awful dexterity, this character is quite nice at interrupting. Well, it becomes eventually. Int is also very important as the main advantage of this tank is his long, long lasting disables.

Weapon of Choice: anything single-handed with +5 accuracy bonus (or better).

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Torment’s reach. We don’t care about extra attack speed and, well, we don’t care about this particular skill too but it will last us until we get our real skills.

2nd level: Hold the Line. Keeps us in line with the other tanks.

3rd level: Force of Anguish. You see, both this and Turning Wheel are awesome. But they’re also rather mutually exclusive. You either accumulate wounds or spend them, doing both is hard. As a tank, we can’t do dps so we focus on the disabling aspect of a monk. And while he has only two such abilities, he can spam Anguish for as long as he has wounds (and, as he gets focused by the enemy team, that’s not hard to accomplish). And this is a miraculous disable – 14 second of enemy doing nothing. Even on a graze, that’s still 7 seconds of downtime. Note that our melee attack is used here and that’s why we want that +5 accuracy weapon – to have a higher chance of it landing. Or critting, even. That’s why we’ve chosen Hearth Orlan, btw – her ability can make her disables crit and that’s a 21 second nap for the foe.

4th level: Weapon and Shield Style. Similar to above, you actually care about your attack bonus and want to use buckler instead of the heavier shields.

5th level: Stunning Blow – our secondary disable. We usually initiate with it as we’ve yet to earn wounds for the Anguish. For us it’s even better than for offensive tank – 4.4 seconds duration is sweet.

6th level: Cautious Attack.

7th level: Rooting Pain. We’re not doing much damage with it but the radius is big and interruption chance is adequate. That’s the payoff for the 21 PE right here (don’t forget to equip some +PE items).

8th level: Interrupting Blows. Let’s make ourselves even peskier.

9th level: Duality of Mortal Presence. We’re already racking up our deflection so it’s a natural choice.

10th level: Lesser Wounds. More wounds, more anguish.

11th level: Clarity of Agony.

12th level: Weapon Focus: whatever you’re using. Just to keep those stuns landing.

7. Monks – Haters Gonna Hate
Role: second-line damage dealer and disabler

Race: Boreal Dwarf. This build can be done with other races but boreal dwarf gives it a certain flair.

Stats (the Living Lands bonus included):

M 21
C 9
D 17
P 3
I 18
R 10

This build is more of a flanker character – you can deal pretty serious damage and, as a monk, you can isolate and defeat a couple of foes easily, but you’d better not get mixed with the wrong crowd or they’ll beat you down rather fast.

Weapon of Choice: Battle Axe.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Swift Strikes. As a damage dealer, this build absolutely loves attack speed bonuses.

2nd level: One-Handed style. So what’s the point of this build? Our disables give our foes penalty to deflection, increasing our chances for a critical. They also benefit from extra accuracy, becoming more and more reliable (or even critting themselves). And what’s the most accurate fighting style? This one. And what’s the best weapon to profit from frequent criticals? Battle Axe with its 50% damage bonus. So all these things add together. And Boreal Dwarf racial is a cherry on the top – +15 accuracy means a lot of criticals, so against primordials and wilders it’s gonna be crit after crit. Ultimate Carnage.

3rd level: Force of Anguish. We’re not tanky enough to profit from turning wheel greatly. And we really want to give our foes that deflection penalty. Not to mention having a great chance for giving a 21 prone time. Makes this build rather obvious.

4th level: Weapon Focus: Knight. Let’s accumulate even more accuracy.

5th level: Stunning Blow – what’s better (or worse, depending on whom perspective that is) than a -10 deflection penalty? -30 one. Too bad it’s only 2 uses per encounter, but this monk can do a lot in their time.

6th level: Wilder Hunter. I like to play on a character’s already strong sides. He’s good against wilders already – let’s make him ridiculous. Let the hatred flow.

7th level: Long Stride. This is a flanker character and he actually benefits from extra mobility – he can choose his mark with greater precision. You can take Rooting Pain as average but that’s not exactly his style.

8th level: Primal Bane. Haters gonna hate.

9th level: Enervating Blows. It’s not that strong but it’s good if we crit them with our Anguish – they fly away and, instead of chasing, we can just let someone with strong fortitude or will-targeting attacks (i.e., our casters) deal with them.

10th level: Bloody Slaughter. It’s a very good talent with our focus on battle axe – gives us even more crits and, well, there are foes in the game for whom 25% of health is still a lot.

11th level: Clarity of Agony.

12th level: Lesser Wounds. We don’t like to be focused that much and easy wounds are appreciated.

7. Monks – Call Down
Role: tank or damage dealer

Race: Pale Elf

Stats (the Deadfire Archipelago bonus included):

M 18
C 8
D 20
P 19
I 3
R 10

This is a combo build, meant for a very specific party setup. It’s not a great tank, it’s not a great damage dealer (mostly because wounds are short-lasting and hard to accumulate) yet it has its quite a lulzy use. This build starts with a whopping 58 reflexes. That’s as high as it gets, pretty much. Also, thanks to the racial, it also has 10 fire and frost reduction. Wear something like a brigandine and that’s 20 already. So what do you do, you take such monk and aggro some foes, gathering them around. Of course, ideally, you want more than one character doing that, but you get my point. Then, as the monsters are busy, your wizards and other casters start to unleash their potent AoE spells, the ones that are dealing frost & fire damage and targeting reflexes. First level Fan of Flames is a great example – it has an insane killing potential but is very hard to cast without touching your party. So you just make a party that doesn’t mind getting touched. Of course, making your frontline out of only monks is somewhat boring, but you can make such builds with other classes too.

Weapon of Choice:

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Swift Strikes. Here everything is usual.

2nd level: Weapon and Shield style or Snake’s Reflexes . Here is where you decide which direction you go, tank or dd. Anyhow, the point is that, with the shield style and medium shield, you’ll have 79 reflexes. With Snake’s you’ll have 71. Throw in a rather common cloak of protection and, for your second level 33 accuracy wizard, that’s a -51 and -43 modifier to hit. Only misses or grazes or only 7% of hits for the Fan of Flames. And, should it land, the monk will soak up a huge chunk of the graze (note, though, that at the moment it’s a bit bugged and grazes for much more than it should). So it’s, like, deadly for enemies – cozy and nice for yourself.

3rd level: Turning Wheel. With our buddies helping us to accumulate the wounds, it shouldn’t be hard to deal lots of damage with the wheel.

4th level: Scion of Flame. More flaming damage for us, less flaming damage to us.

5th level: Clarity of Agony. Doesn’t last too long but still better than everything else here.

6th level: Interrupting Blows. We already have all that perception racked up so let’s put it to good use.

7th level: Rooting Pain. Our range is horrible, of course, but damage is nice and the interrupt chance is high. Should someone start chewing on us overzealously, that’ll show them.

8th level: Snake’s Reflexes or Two-Handed style. If you go into a damage dealer, I think the safest bet is to attack from the distance. So quarterstaff is your friend (can go pike too, but staff is more flavorful for a monk). You can always keep a morningstar handy, though. Just against very annoying singular targets.

9th level: Duality of Mortal Presence. Either more deflection or more reflexes – what’s not to like?

10th level: Bull’s Will. The only downside of this build is that our will is atrocious and I think we need to address that. You can take something like Superior Deflection or Vulnerable Attacks or Weapon Focus, but will-targeting foes will be super annoying.

11th level: Long Stride. It’s not like anything useful remains. Crucible of Suffering to ease up will problems, mb?

12th level: Mental Fortress. Same logic as on the tenth level.

8. Priest – SPAM HERE
Just like the cipher, priest is a narrow class. Or perhaps that wording is rather misleading – priest is very flexible and any party can benefit greatly from having one, it’s just that his build is very strict and does not allow for a lot of meaningful variation. Even the deity of choice matters little – whereas the paladins are defined by their order in terms of both role-play and character development, here it’s for flavor mostly.

You also shouldn’t think about priest in DnD terms – there the cleric was one of the best tanks and melee fighters in the game, here he’s a squishy, clumsy and blind pure caster. And while he has buffs, none of them are some sort of unique overpowered self-buffs – they work much better when applied to a proper combatant. Even though he goes for a seemingly damage dealer build, priest is not one.

He’s also “high investment, high reward” sort of character. Early on, priest can be rather annoying to play – he’s squishy and he can’t cast that much on the early levels. And your party (if you play with story characters without rushing) is small so your buffs are not even that useful. But once you get past that point, it becomes a cakewalk – priest has a plethora of awesome tricks in his sleeve and, to sweeten the pot even further, at levels 9 his first level spells become per encounter. So you can use them all and, once the battle end, they’re restored to the full. At level 11 same applies to the second level spells. And these spells scale rather well so they’re very useful even late in the game. That’s also the reason you don’t go for the fighter build – that way, you’ll have to invest in tankiness and wear heavy armor. However, in the late game you want to have as much speed as possible and just spam-spam-spam everything. So even if you spend talents on your physical attack capability, you won’t be getting much use out of them. And mind you, priest is one of the most talent-starved characters in the game so you absolutely don’t want to waste your talents. Mind you, early game you will have to stand and shoot – that’s the only way to make priest useful at the time. But developing him around that is a bad plan.

Role: buffer, debuffer, disabler, third line damage dealer.

Race: Wood Elf. It’s not as crucial, though, so anything non-godlike (casters don’t want to lose the access to their pointy hats) and non-orlan (the stats are bad and the bonus rarely matters) will do.

Stats (the Deadfire Archipelago bonus included – you can go with the Old Vailia too):

M 18
C 8
D 20
P 4
I 18
R 10

Yes, it will not seem like that early on, but priests benefit colossally from the high dexterity. They want to spam as much of their free spells as possible (eventually) and, in tough battles, they want to cast humongous amounts of buffs in the shortest period of time. Might and Dexterity are unavoidable too – without might, your healing is horrible and you’re relegated to the role of pure buffer/debuffer. Even if you make it low, you’re not accomplishing anything by that – what else would you take? Without intellect, your spell AoE is atrocious – the priest really needs to max it out for his spells to become truly useful. Hence the mono-build.

Weapon of Choice: arbalest early on, later – hatchet.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Choose your deity. Whatever suits the alignment of your party, pretty much.

2nd level: It’s a very cruel level. Misleading, too. You suffer in the early game and there are plenty of options that promise to quench the agony – and, well, at least some of them do that. But later on they’ll turn into pumpkins and you will be missing the lost trait sorely. What’s worse, there are the god-specific talents and they hint at the possibility of becoming a fighting priest… But that’s sorely false. So, let’s review our options:

Brilliant Radiance: one of the best options here, allows us to deal 20 AoE damage each combat with our Holy Radiance. Becomes useless eventually but a great helper early on.

Interdiction: another good early game choice. We’re lacking spells to cast and, well, great AoE daze each fight (and with nice accuracy) is welcome.

Aggrandizing Radiance: it would’ve been nice if the duration was longer. But it’s short and, unlike other options, this is more of a later game choice. So-so.

Inspiring Radiance: not as strong as brilliant or interdiction, but at least this one scales somewhat.

The Pallid Hand (Berath only): +10 accuracy with great swords & maces, a crappy life leeching spell once per rest. The bonus is nice and great swords are cool, but not a reason to go melee.

The Hope Eternal (Eothas only): +10 accuracy with flail and morning star, a crappy anti-fear spell once per rest. Same as above.

Inspired Flame: +10 accuracy with sword and arquebus and a weak fire damage spell once per rest. Now this is probably the best of them all – arquebus is quite nice and, of course, standing as far as possible and shooting is a great plan for the priest. And +10 accuracy equalizes him with more offensive classes. You can even go the island aumaua build with Quick Switch and Arms Bearer. It’s still not the best use of the priest’s talents but if you absolutely want to have a fighting priest, that’s the way. The only problem is that, unless you’re very lucky or rushing, you won’t find arquebus that early. I won’t make a specific section for this one so people won’t get the wrong idea of this being viable, but if you absolutely have to – island aumaua, this, 4th level – quick switch, 6th level – arms bearer, 8th level – weapon focus: soldier, 10th level – marksman, 12th level – bloody slaughter.

Prey on the Weak: +10 accuracy with club and stiletto, lesser sneak attack – just like for a rogue, but only 20% bonus damage. Physical attacks only, of course. The sneak attack is rather good and this is probably the best priest to go melee… But that’s still lots of suffering involved. Once again, it’s a perverted build – go Moon Godlike (his inherent healing absolves the priest’s frailty), this, 4th level – two-weapon style, 6th level – vulnerable attack, 8th level – weapon focus: ruffian, 10th level – scion of flame, 12th level – heart of the storm.

Incomprehensible Revelation – +10 accuracy with Rod and Quarterstaff, crappy dazing spell once per rest. Well, rod is ranged and staff is reach so that’s something, I guess. Still, you don’t want to build around rod and there’s not enough bonus here to go melee so it’s not that great. You can hit with your staff from the back of your tanks, but that’s it.

All in all, it’s a huge bunch of mediocrity which you consider only because your standard abilities are even weaker at this point. If you want to pay for convenience, take Brilliant Radiance or Interdiction here – it’s a crutch choice. Otherwise, work for the future – take Scion of Flame. We’ll need that bonus damage later on.

4th level: Scion of Flame or Heart of the Storm – electrical damage is very nice against those pesky plate armor users, btw.

6th level: Heart of the Storm or Bonus 2nd Level Spell – our 2nd level spells are strong and this bonus one will become as spammable as your natural ones later on.

8th level: Bonus 2nd Level Spell or Bonus 3rd Level Spell – 3rd level spells won’t become infinite but they’re very good. Extra warding seal or dire blessing mean a lot.

10th level: Bonus 3rd Level Spell or Bonus 4th Level Spell – have I mentioned that a priest loves his bonus spells? At the very least, they allow for some rather cheeky seal spam, where you can create pretty much a minefield before the combat and then lure the enemy there. And couple of extra seals can do a lot.

12th level: Bonus 4th Level Spell or Fast Running – fast running is partially to escape from unpleasant situations,partially because priest’s spells strongly vary in range and certain combinations may cause you to do a bit of back-and-forth running.

8. Priest – Couple of Spell Notes
Since you learn all the spells automatically, there are no choices to review, but I’ll say a couple of words about the most remarkable spells.

Armor of Faith: for a first level spell, that’s incredible. Huge duration, radius and increase in durability for your entire party. Your bread & butter buff early on.

Divine Terror: well, it’s not about this, it’s about all priest offensive spells – they all have a relatively small AoE. So you really want to either keep the priest outside of combat or turn the auto-attack off – you can’t really target them even a second before actual cast or you’ll miss. And if the auto-attack is on, you’ll have to hit pause frantically or the priest will shoot/hit and his time will be wasted.

Halt: it’s a 20 accuracy bonus against a single strong target. Early on, that’s a world of difference.

Withdraw: once your low-lvl spells are infinite, you can cheese a bit with this. If priest is the solo combatant on your side and withdraws himself, the monsters walk away, disappointed, and the combat ends, refreshing all of the priests low-lvl spells. Invisibility ends too so the combat reengages. That means you can do infinite “offensive spell – withdraw” chain against certain foes.

Divine Mark: keep in mind that this spell is very short ranged.

Holy Power: that one is a weird one and works like a paladin aura, centered around yourself. The aoe is pretty narrow, unfortunately.

Iconic Projection: seems to ignore any damage boosting effects (like you own might) and reductions.

Repulsing Seal: seals work pretty fine in combat so, even outside of the trap factor, this is a great 2nd level disable.

Circle of Protection: hazards stay on the same place so you’ll have to fight inside the circle. Its area is huge, though, so it’s no biggie.

Dire Blessing: it’s an incredibly good buff and it’s very strong with the battle axes. So, if you have a priest in your party, you might want to equip more of your warriors with those (and to build them accordingly, of course).

Warding Seal: as I’ve said, you can totally make a minefield with these. They seem to last until you rest. You can even stack them on each other, though that is needed only against strong singular targets – against hordes and groups, that’s actually bad. One foe will detonate the entire bunch and the rest will remain safe.

Barring Death’s Door: it sounds sweet but actually it’s pretty much ironman only.

Triumph of the Crusaders: doesn’t last as long as it is written and seems to end after the first kill. Still an insane amount of healing.

Revive the Fallen: great for the barbarian vengeful defeat combo. You can revive him a lot. Range is a bit short, though.

Salvation of Time: great for the classes with 1 use per encounter strong buffs (barbarian frenzy, for example). This just adds 10 seconds to the current duration. Note that this is not a buff so you must cast it during those buffs running, not before. And it adds to all buff so, of course, first you need to place a couple of your own buffs on that barb, then activate his frenzy, then cast this – squeeze the most benefit here.

Cleansing Flame: not that it’s more of a dispel spell than a damage spell. So it’s good against enemy buffers first and foremost.

Minor Intercession: it’s not a typo, it really doesn’t heal that much. So it’s for dispelling debuffs from your group, not healing.

9. Rogues – short intro
Rogue is the best single-targeting damage dealer in the game. Barbarians can compete when we talk about big skirmishes, but against huge, fat mini-bosses and bosses rogue is unsurpassed. At the same time, he’s a precise surgical tool and he requires a lot of care and support to shine. He is incredibly squishy and your group needs to have some ways to bail him out of troubles occasionally . He also is not that good at enabling his own sneak attacks – he can flank (if he’s melee – ranged rogues don’t even have that options), but flanking is risky. As the AI loves to munch on the scrawniest members of your party, rogue will be their favoured snack. So he flanks – they gnaw straight on him.

You really want to have better sneak attack enablers and that means that even one rogue will dictate your party composition. Let’s take our tanks, for example. Paladins & barbs can make great tanks, but they’re bad with the rogue – no enablers. Monks, on the other hand, can keep their opponents constantly prone. Chanters have insanely long stuns & paralyzes. Fighters are also quite adept and keeping their foes down. So guess who are the rogue’s best friends?

Also, ideally speaking, since you are going through all these hoops already, you really want two rogues in your party. Three are probably overkill, but two will work rather well – if you’re already putting the effort to setup sneak attacks, why not reap double the gains from them? But even one rogue can be pretty cool.

9. Rogues – Caleb
Role: second-line damage dealer

Race: Hearth Orlan – note that races& builds combos of the different rogue-builds are more or less interexchangeable. I suggest browsing through the entire section so you get the full list of options.

Stats (the Deadfire Archipelago bonus included):

M 17
C 10
D 19
P 12
I 10
R 10

This is a simple and safe damage dealing rogue build. Lots of offensive potential, no real vulnerabilities.

Weapon of Choice: Pike – if only there were pitchforks in this game… Anyways, this is a reach rogue build – we’re frail so it’s only logical to use our tanks as the human (or whatever they are) shields.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Blinding Strike. You can use Crippling Strike twice, but this debuff is much more powerful – it gives your opponent -20 to their deflection and that makes your sneak-attacks ultra-precise.

2nd level: Weapon Focus: Soldier or Peasant. Yeah, you can use the quarterstaff as well, it’s no worse than the pike (though it’s even farther from the pitchfork). The rogue already has a very nice damage so it’s all about securing the regular landing of said damage. Backstab is a trap, btw – it’s not half as good as it seems. Foes in the game are rather sturdy and even two-handed weapons are not strong enough to bring them down in one blow. Now, when we talk about ranged weapons, that’s the different case… But also a different build. Backstab is not for melee heroes.

3rd level: Reckless Assault – makes the rogue even frailer, but that’s not his business. He’s a narrow to the point of razor-edginess specialist. He doesn’t care about creating sneak attack opportunities. He doesn’t care about dealing with the retaliatory strikes. He cares about bringing total destruction upon your foes, that’s what he’s all about. The rest is the task of his party. So we go all in.

4th level: Two-Handed style – we follow the above logic. Shadowing Beyond is nice and certainly unique, but it’s really not as useful as it seems. Let the party protect us. The damage always takes priority here.

5th level: Finishing Blow – a very potent tool against all kinds of fat and sturdy bosses and mini-bosses. For every percent of health they miss beyond 50%, it deals 3% extra damage. It may seem small but it adds up quickly and against foes with quarter of health it’s already very good. But that’s not the full story…

6th level: Devastating Blow – this is. The description is funky – it’s not +2% extra damage, that would’ve been insulting. It’s +2% per missing percent of health, raking it up to 5%. And that’s even more considerable. For a dragon, a quarter of health (where the bonus now is 125%) is still about a hundred points. This is an excellent tool for bringing that down to zero ASAP.

7th level: Dirty Fighting – sneak attack crits are devastating so why wouldn’t we want more of them? Yes, please.

8th level: Vicious Fighting – and a second serving too. These abilities were available for quite a long time, but I think that Assault & Finishing Blow take priority. They’re all very good and worth getting so, should you wish to get something earlier, it won’t be an end of the world to change the picking order here.

9th level: Deep Wounds – it’s decent but not as awesome as it seems. It’s easy to look at it and say – dude, this thing is crazy with dual-wield, why are we even discussing your bloody pike? That’s because Deep Wounds are not as sweet – they deal damage over time so when you hit with them, they place a timer on your foe. And there timers don’t stack. So yeah, first hit will deal 12 or so damage. Over the ten seconds or so. But next hits won’t stack – the timer is just refreshed. So, in reality, this thing reads more like “if you fight the monster for 10 seconds, you deal extra 12 damage”. Which is far from the “stab it lightning-fast to death” that it appears to be. But we’re still taking them as there is not a lot of choice here.

Escape is mediocre because caring about himself is not one of the rogue’s lifegoals. It’s not that bad and, since Deep Wounds are also meh, can be taken here, just don’t expect too much about it. Adept Evasion is nifty but somewhat specific. But when it counts, it counts a lot. So maybe I’m underselling it and you should actually go there – strong reflexes may save the rogue’s life occasionally. These two are ok alternatives.

Rest are worse. Both Withering Strike and Fearsome Strike are ridiculous – at lvl 9 you expect to get something much better than 25% extra damage for one hit and one debuff. Especially from the Fearsome Strike – sorry, but from 1 per rest 9 level skill I expect something like 20 seconds paralyze. Riposte is another trap – rogue has horrible basic deflection, that becomes even worse via Reckless Assault and there are no class-specific ways to build it up. Not to mention that misses are rare – against evenly matched opponent (and rogue will be outmatched), only 15%. Out of these, only 20% will be riposted – that’s 33 attacks taken to send one swing back. Wo-o-ow. Coordinated Positioning has too short of a range to do anything serious.

10th level: Bloody Slaughter. The dragons will fear our finishing blow.

11th level: Deathblows. Do I need to tell how ridiculous they are? And at this level everyone has so much spells & abilities (if you’ve built your crew right) and the requirement is hardly as scary as it seems to be.

12th level: Not a lot of options, tbh. You can take something to your magical defenses, you can take some monster-hating talent or even try out Shadowing Beyond.

9. Rogues – Torrance
Role: second-line damage dealer

Race: Boreal Dwarf. An Orlan can work too but I really like the overall Rogue-Axe-Boreal Dwarf synergy.

Stats (the Living Lands bonus included):

M 21
C 9
D 17
P 10
I 3
R 18

While Int is a recommended stat for rogues, very few of their abilities actually benefit from them. And none of those abilities are at least somewhat important. So, to be honest, int points can be easily redirected into resilience – extra deflection and concentration are better than nothing, you know. You can aim for perception, also, but that makes your will score really low (which can be annoying at times).

Weapon of Choice: Battle Axe – enchant it with a Burning Lash and it’s pretty much Fire Axe.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Crippling Strike – our int is dumped so the Blinding Strike giving the better debuff is not as important. Two cripples per combat, on the other hand, is – not for debuff but for the extra 25% damage dealt. With the potential battle axe critical, it can be significant.

2nd level: Weapon Focus: Knight. We’ll want One-Handed style too, of course, but weapon focus provides more critical at this stage of the game.

3rd level: Reckless Assault – need I to tell you that we’re absolutely in love with the +8 accuracy this provides? Dirty fighting is great for us too, but the accuracy bonus will give us more criticals than it.

4th level: One-Handed style – it’s not like we’re delaying this one for long.

5th level: Dirty Fighting – this build probably wants it a bit earlier. The synergy here is so sweet – sneak attack crits are very powerful. One-handed style and accuracy give us lots of hits so we get even more crits than usual out of this. And against those poor, poor wilders & primordials…

6th level: Vicious Fighting.

7th level: Finishing Blow – as an additional bonus, it adds +5 to accuracy of the strike. In our hands, that’s not a small thing.

8th level: Devastating Blow.

9th level: Deep Wounds – a bit better for this rogue because it does more damage and doesn’t last as long. Still mediocre and Escape or Evasion are valid choices.

10th level: Bloody Slaughter. More fun with criticals.

11th level: Deathblows.

12th level: Wilder Hunter or Primal Bane. Gotta keep them in line, you know.

9. Rogues – Prince of Persia Blue Edition
Role: second-line damage dealer

Race: Moon Godlike. This rogue setup works only with Moon Godlike – mostly because of the stats. Similar build can work for the previous ones too.

Stats (the Aedyr bonus included):

M 18
C 3
D 19
P 17
I 4
R 17

Once again, moon godlike rushes for the rescue – we’ve dumped our constitution but it’s fine as, with his racial, we’re actually sturdier than the previous builds. So, with the decent deflection from high Perception and Resolve, this build is the safest of them to play. Not a tank, but he can survive a bit of a frontline action. Not that afraid to tank. And makes for a nice party leader – yeah, he lacks the wit but almost all other options are present.

Weapon of Choice: Daggers – with sneak attacks providing bonus to damage and and extra hits being converted to criticals, accuracy becomes more important than stiletto’s damage reduction. Clubs & Rapiers work as well. On the other hand, Sabres can work too – after the latest patch, they’re probably the better choice so you can easily retool this build to them.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Crippling Strike – our int is also dumped. But, because we have lots of weaker attacks, we don’t care much about these one.

2nd level: Two Weapon Style. We’ll have to wear heavy armor in the early game and this negates some of the penalty nicely.

3rd level: Reckless Assault.

4th level: Weapon Focus: Noble.

5th level: Finishing Blow.

6th level: Devastating Blow.

7th level: Dirty Fighting.

8th level: Vicious Fighting. (yeah, in this build, the difference is mostly in race & stat setup)

9th level: Deep Wounds or Escape or Adept Evasion.

10th level: Bloody Slaughter.

11th level: Deathblows.

12th level: Shadowing Beyond or any hating talent.

9. Rogues – Robert Ford
Role: third-line damage dealer

Race: Wood Elf.
Stats (the Deadfire Archipelago bonus included):

M 18
C 9
D 20
P 10
I 3
R 18

Yeah, pretty similar to melee rogues. Still no need for int so you can redistribute it to the Resolve safely. Let me remind you that you can not flank and so ranged rogues are even more reliable on their party for sneak attacks.

Weapon of Choice: Arquebus and Arbalest. If you choose to play without backstab, on the other hand, go for either War Bow or Pistol – rogues have plenty of criticals and there are two named weapons in those schools that work incredibly good with criticals.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Crippling Strike – since we’re using weapons with the highest base damage in the game, 25% to two shots each combat sound like a nice plan.

2nd level: Backstab – with a name like that, what else to expect? Note that for this archetype skills are actually very important – always go for a +1 stealth background (raider is a nice option) and put all your points into this skill. Well, maybe 4 athletics are fine (fatigue can be annoying without it) but everything else should be dedicated there so you’ll have no trouble getting into that 2 meter range safely. And you’ll have to memorize exactly how much the two PoE meters are. Another thing is that, with just one rogue, it is more of a fancy initiation move – you sneak behind a foe, shoot him (backstab does awesome damage and stacks with the sneak attack, but still it won’t kill everyone) then run back to your party. Hopefully, with some traps and seals laid along your escape route. To use this as your main tactic, you need, like, 3 or 4 such rogues. And that’s a fancy idea but most players will find this a bit boring, I guess. Anyhow, it’s an interesting thing to toy with.

3rd level: Dirty Fighting – assault is melee only and we still don’t want to take escape that early. Note that Arbalest & Arquebus have reduced critical modifier but, on the other hand, their crits can send their target prone and that’s a sneak attack enabled for you. And their damage is so high that even reduced modifier provides a respectable number.

4th level: Weapon Focus: Soldier – Backstab can miss, it has no special accuracy bonuses and our elvish bonus doesn’t do much for it (but then, no one else’s bonus does too and we’re still planning to shoot from afar most of the time, so elves are good even despite that). Therefore, a bit of accuracy won’t hurt.

5th level: Finishing Blow – needless to say, these are tremendous with arquebus. All skills with bonus damage are, but these are colossal. Once your target becomes a bit soft, these produce an epic assassination.

6th level: Devastating Blow.

7th level: And now it’s the time for the same old choice between Deep Wounds, Adept Evasion and Escape. I guess Adept Evasion is a bit better here because of the elvish bonus – it’s not huge, but it’s at least something.

8th level: Gunner. Reload times are annoying – gotta cut them down somehow.

9th level: Whatever you haven’t picked on level 7, you take here. Or you may go for the Withering or Blinding strike – just for an extra attack with 25% bonus. Despite being available from wholly different levels, they are pretty equal to each other.

10th level: Vicious Fighting.

11th level: Deathblows.

12th level: Marksman.

9. Rogues – Jesse James
Role: third-line damage dealer

Race: Island Aumaua
Stats (the Living Lands bonus included):

M 21
C 10
D 18
P 10
I 3
R 16

The maxed out strength is rather important here as we’ll be using…

Weapon of Choice: Blunderbuss. Rogues are the best blunderbuss users in the game – it’s a very strong weapon that is hindered by its armor penetration problems. However, the bonus damage from the sneak attack solves that rather nicely and so your damage output becomes very sweet.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Crippling Strike – for a blunderbuss, any extra damage is sweet. Even the seemingly measly 9% from extra 3 strength mean a lot. So we take two +25% shots here.

2nd level: Weapon focus: ruffian – unless we’re very lucky, we won’t find a blunderbuss this early. But we can encounter a pistol and those can work too. Besides, we won’t have another chance to take this – yeah, island aumaua are extremely talent starved.

3rd level: Dirty Fighting.

4th level: Quick Switch – even if we don’t have the blunderbuss yet, we’ll do with pistols and arbalests.

5th level: Finishing Blow – I’ll confess that I haven’t had the chance to test this particular interaction, but it should work with the multiple-attack of blunderbuss. Even if it doesn’t, it’s too valuable option to pass up – just keep an arquebus handy. Thankfully, you’re already extremely good at switching weapons.

6th level: Penetrating Shot – we’re delaying our class talents a bit as this one is very important for any sort of a blunderbuss user. Just too much damage per volley gained to skip it.

7th level: Deep Wounds, Adept Evasion and Escape. Maybe the Blinding Strike too. So many options, such an exciting choice!

8th level: Devastating Blow.

9th level: It’s level 7 once again, just with 1 less option. 1 more thanks to the Withering Strike Appearing.

10th level: Arms Bearer – quad damage! Almost.

11th level: Deathblows.

12th level: Vicious Fighting – yeah, we’re very talent starved, no space to take even the archer basics like Marksman.

10. Rangers – Intro & Pets
The rangers are somewhat of a barbarian and rogue hybrid. Like rogues, they’re quite adept at dishing out decent amounts of damage (though not as insane) should their party support them well. Like barbarians, they have AoE potential and add an extra body to the table, though not their own – they have a pet. Which actually compensates for a huge chunk of their fragility as the pet makes a nice living shield to throw under the heels of their foes. Yes, rangers have to be cruel masters.

Unfortunately, the pets themselves hardly qualify as battlefield players. Just look at their stats:

Antelope:
M 10
C 10
D 14
P 15
I 5
R 9
Special: +7 to all defenses.

Bear:
M 15
C 12
D 9
P 13
I 5
R 10
Special: +3 DR.

Boar:
M 11
C 16
D 8
P 10
I 5
R 15
Special: +20% damage when below 50% endurance.

Lion:
M 13
C 13
D 12
P 11
I 3
R 11
Special: 1 AoE Frighten for 11 seconds per encounter.

Stag:
M 13
C 10
D 12
P 15
I 3
R 10
Special: a really weak carnage ability.

Wolf is bugged (I think), has 10s in all stats and no special atm. Even after 1.03.

They all have basic DR 9 (the bear has 12 due to the bonus).

All in all, their main function is to tie-up the enemy and take the heat, hence bear is the best – that DR bonus is indispensable. If, for some reasons, you hate bears, the second best choices are the antelope (though note that the summon’s defense scores are low and the bonus won’t change that) and lion (frightened reduces opposing accuracy so you survive a bit longer; roar’s duration sucks, though).

Pets are also the reason why rangers shouldn’t go melee. Even if you scramble up melee build somehow, you still need 2 tanks in your party. Then the pet gets added to the frontline – it’s a good defensive tool, but it can’t replace a tank. Then the ranger himself. Then even one second-line damage dealer and you already have a crowd that bumps into each other annoyingly. Fights in the narrow corridors will require a lot of micro to get coordinated. And his melee potential is a joke compared to his ranged one.

10. Rangers – the Desert Ranger
Role: third-line damage dealer

Race: Wood Elf – since rangers are the kings of the long-distance combat (physical, at the very least), the elvish racial works best for them. You can try other races too, Hearth Orlans may be more or less fine, Boreal Dwarves too, but Elves are the best.

Stats (the Deadfire Archipelago bonus included):

M 18
C 8
D 20
P 4
I 18
R 10

Yes, the rather average damage dealing stats. Perception is useless because ranged weapons have weak interrupts and we’ll have our special kind of interrupts through the intelligence – that’s why it is huge. We don’t even have that many Int-demanding abilities, but the one we have is an absolute reward for this investment. Besides, it’s not like extra points in Per, Con or Res will make us durable.

Weapon of Choice: Blunderbuss and Pistol.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Marked Prey – decent but misleading. If it added 20 damage to each shot, it would’ve been half-broken. Instead, it’s more like a 20% and those percents seem to be from the initial attack, non-affected by the DR. Or maybe not – it works somewhat unpredictable so it’s hard to tell. Anyways, it’s a nice damage boost. Shame it’s only once per combat, but at least it helps us to take down the scariest target quickly. Wounding Arrows are an equal option, though – the dish out almost as much damage while also throwing a small debuff into the mix. But you can choose freely – we’ll have the space to pick the second one later on.

2nd level: Resilient Companion – other companion talents are worthless. Our pet is very bad at doing damage and wasting two talents here won’t even make him mediocre. The Faithful Companion is also not that great – our pet’s basic will score and defense gain from levels is low so even +15 defenses won’t change the situation miraculously. +3 DR, on the other hand, is quite helpful. For a bear early on that means walking with 15-16 DR – won’t make him immortal but he will last for quite a while. Note that later on this bonus will become less useful so it’s more of an early game convenience than anything else and, should you wish to, you can begin to work on your sharpshooter talents. The ranger is a rather talent-starved class, btw. So Marksman can do nicely here.

3rd level: Swift Aim – +20% attack speed is nice, +50% reload time is invaluable. Just so you understand, the Blunderbuss’ attack animation time is 50 frames, recovery – 76 frames, reload – 192. Yeah, reload is 1.5 as long as attack and recovery combined. So, as a gunner (or crossbow/arbalest user – seems more probable at level 3), you are in love with anything that reduces the recovery. That’s why the island obama is a valid option – he makes 4 volleys in the time your average gunner makes two. Now, it’s not all rainbows and ponies – the actual formula works weird and it’s not the pure 50% reduction, it’s a bit less. But it’s still as good as it gets, especially after the nerf of Sure-Handed Ha chant. And we don’t care that much about accuracy loss – guns have so-so critical damage so as long as we hit (and we have enough accuracy bonuses to hit reliably) we’re fine.

Predator’s Sense, btw, is very vile. If you read it carelessly, it looks as if it gives the bonus to yourself – it’s for your pet and pet only. And considering your pet is a worthless mutt… Yeah. Easy to make a mistake with this one, believe me, I know. I’ve made one myself.

4th level: Weapon Focus: Ruffian. With swift aim in the picture, we start caring about accuracy, that’s the thing we’re missing. BTW, while all of the ranged weapons are pretty good and balanced, pistol & blunderbuss are the best combo as they share this Weapon Focus and provide a great flexibility. Pistol vs heavy armor, Blunderbuss vs light. Other such talents have either one ranged weapon or, like a weapon focus: soldier, govern two pretty similar in their function weapons.

5th level: Stalkers’ Link – talking about accuracy compensation… That -7 from swift aim coupled with -5 of pistol or -10 of Blunderbuss is annoying, time to work around that. This bonus is very easy to get and it’s very large, great talent.

6th level: Penetrating Shot – standard choice for a blunderbuss user. Also, as you can see, since the major slowing factor for gun users is reload and not recovery (this penalty gets added to the 76 frames of recovery only, as far as I understand), that 20% speed penalty does not mean as much as it seems. Ignoring 5 points of DR means a lot, though.

7th level: Driving Flight – makes us similar to the barbarian, only at range. Works like a carnage – secondary shots are twice weaker than the primary ones. So blunderbuss won’t do much damage here, but pistol is very good with this.

8th level: Swift And Steady – just another accuracy bonus. We take weapon focus first as that’s a bigger one.

9th level: A bit of an empty level. So what we are left with?

Predator’s Sense – even if we go this and full line of companion talents (which kills our own damage potential), we won’t make anything more than a potential beefcake out of it.
Defensive Bond – the ranger himself is supposed to stay away from combat and the pet dwells in the heart of it. The chance of them getting into the same AoE is slim at the best.
Takedown & Binding Roots – they’re not bad per se but, by the time you get them, they’re nothing impressive. I guess binding roots can be fine if you use all five of them in the same combat.
Arrow Sense – rather nice but we’re strict damage dealing specialists. Let our party handle protection issues.
Vicious Aim – awesome, but needs to be built around. See the next ranger builds.
Wounding Strike – hmm, even despite being a 1st level skill, that’s a lot of damage dealt…

So yeah, I definitely vote for the strike. Good damage and it has an awesome special talent. But you can consider roots here – they’re also a nice choice.

10th level: Gunner – the reloading time of the guns is so huge that even the Swift Aim is not enough to feel truly comfortable.

11th level: Stunning Shots – that’s the reason for 18 int. And it’s totally worth it. Now, the thing to note is that they’re not that great with blunderbuss and pistol – the firing speed is too slow (they’re still ok as driving flight pierces can also stun – that’s our kind of crowd control). They’re decent with the hunting bow – equip one and we turn from damage dealer into single target disabler. Quite a potent one. We won’t be using this mode constantly, of course, but it’s a nice tactical option to have. Master’s Call with it’s meager disable (for a 11 level ability) can’t compare.

12th level: Marksman. Accurate Wounding Shot sounds sweet but +5 attack to every shot in combat is better than +10 to just one (even if they’re potent). To take the latter one, you really need to skip Resilient Companion at level 2 – which is an option, but I’m not sure if it’s for the best.

10. Rangers – who killed JFK?
Role: third-line damage dealer

Race: Wood Elf – for this build, the only valid alternative is Boreal Dwarf. You need all the accuracy you can get.

Stats (the Deadfire Archipelago bonus included):

M 17
C 3
D 20
P 4
I 17
R 17

This is a party leader ranger build. More vulnerable but plenty of dialogue options. It can be used for your standard build too (and vice-versa).

Weapon of Choice: Crossbow. It’s much better than it looks – the basic damage is fine, the reload time is not that horrible (100 frames vs the 190 frames of big guns) and, most importantly, it has a full critical damage modifier. 1.5 compared to arbalests & guns 1.2. And rangers can stack up a lot of accuracy bonuses, meaning frequent and reliable criticals. So that’s what this build is about. War Bow can work too, btw. There are some nice enchanted ones and, while it has DR problems, frequent criticals can easily solve that. Both options are fine.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Marked Prey – our criticals will put a lot of damage through armor and so this will add quite an amount of damage to them.

2nd level: Resilient Companion – this build is somewhat less skill-starved and so it can afford some luxurious options.

3rd level: Vicious Aim – yeah, 0.8 attack speed and reload hurts. But +10 accuracy and +20% damage dealt – just think how mighty those crits will be, especially under the predator’s sense. And the crossbow, at the very least, has not that bad of a reload time. And the War Bow doesn’t even care about reload time.

4th level: Gunner or Weapon Focus: Adventurer – depends on your weapon choice, obviously. Negating the vicious aim penalty, at least, or getting more crits.

Weapon Focus: Knight or Weapon Focus: Adventurer – if we are a crossbow user, we can sacrifice Envenomed Strike later on and still go for the Resilient Companion. But a critical envenomed is really strong so I don’t like that option. As a war bow user, we can take resilient here without much problems. But I don’t know, we want to start stacking accuracy early.

5th level: Stalkers’ Link – even better with this build. One of the main things that enable it, pretty much.

6th level: Weapon Focus: Knight or Marksman – developing in a rather predictable fashion.

7th level: Driving Flight – it’s pretty decent when those extra shots also crit. The damage increase is rather significant.

8th level: Marksman or Envenomed Strike – envenomed strike is something new for this guide. So for us it’s three portions of 44 raw damage each. Considering we’re also great at causing criticals, that may rise up to 66. That’s considerable at any stage of the game and we’re also dealing the basic damage in the process. Nice tool to have.

9th level: Wounding Shot – we really want to profit from its special talent.

10th level: Accurate Wounding Shot – makes that two additional shots with +10 accuracy. As we love our criticals (and Wounding Shot is rather good when it crits), we definitely won’t mind against even more of them.

11th level: Stunning Shots – they can crit too, you know, for a 4 second stun. On the Driving Flight too. With war bow, you will definitely fire again at the stunned targets (with -30 deflection).

12th level: Bloody Slaughter – it is good for any kind of a critical attack specialist, especially at this stage of the game, where monsters got pretty fat. Time to kick some lard out of them.

10. Rangers – Mac Eliot
Role: third-line damage dealer

Race: Island Aumaua – this is a race-specific build. Rangers have a very cheeky way of exploiting island aumua’s specialty.

Stats (the Living Lands bonus included):

M 21
C 8
D 18
P 3
I 18
R 10

Nothing to see here, move along.

Weapon of Choice: Blunderbuss and pistol. Blunderbuss first and foremost, of course.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Marked Prey.

2nd level: Quick Switch – since this build is strongly about island aumaua combo, let’s assemble it ASAP.

3rd level: Vicious Aim – so this ability makes our blunderbuss shots potent and accurate yet adds 20% penalty to that horrible 190 frames reload time. Or, rather, it would if we bothered to reload properly. Yeah, sure, our guns will run out and the trade-off will catch us eventually. Or will it?

4th level: Arms Bearer – at this point, we’ll be lucky to have even one blunderbuss, but crossbows & arbalests will do. As I’ve mentioned earlier, this combo buys us 2 extra blunderbuss volleys per combat – that’s probably worth 2 talents & racial spent.

5th level: Swift Aim – so talking about trade-offs… I think you see the cuteness already – once we’ve unloaded our many guns, we just switch to this so suddenly we can reload rather quickly. Take that, mr. Consequences.

6th level: Penetrating Shot – with our specialty, we also want this early.

7th level: Stalkers’ Link – once again, it’s time to load up on accuracy. We’ll definitely need it in the swift aim mode.

8th level: Weapon Focus: Ruffian .

9th level: Driving Flight – a bit delayed yet still as good.

10th level: Marksman – Gunner seems nice too, but we want our initial blast to be as destructive as possible and so we work towards that. Mac Eliot is all about a great burst.

11th level: Stunning Shots – not as great with the blunderbuss itself, but we have the pistol & the occasional hunting bow (and all the slots and quick draw potential in the world to use them tactically)

12th level: Gunner – while we loathe to reload our weapons honestly, we’ll still have to do it. This saves us time, at least.

11. Fighters – The Immovable Object
Fighter is the ultimate tank. No one in the game can stand as much punishment as he does. This doesn’t mean he is the best tank, though – other kinds of tanks have their own silver linings. Chanter, for example, is the frailest tank but has all sorts of buffs, summons and disables. Monk and Barbarian are mediocre tanks, but monk can throw a lot of targets on the ground, possessing excellent control, and barb debuffs his foes and still does decent AoE damage. Paladins are good tanks (fighters are the perfect ones) and he has plethora of auras and buffs and heals to offer his team. Fighters are grandmasters of enduring. But that’s almost it.

Now, I’m also not saying they’re a bad class – they’re great. It’s just that they are a narrow tool and you must understand what exactly are you buying here.

Role: tank

Race: Hearth Orlan – I’m not doing a lot of hearth orlan builds but that’s ’cause they are a somewhat specific race. They make excellent heavy tanks and there’s just not a lot of such classes in the game – pretty much paladins & fighters.

Stats (the Aedyr bonus included):

M 2
C 15
D 3
P 20
I 18
R 20

Excellent starting deflection (btw, the more deflection you have – the better it gets, so this advantage will last for the entire game), good endurance, long duration of the racial skill & self-buffs. There’s not a lot of them but it’s not like we have anywhere else to put those stat points – 18 Con won’t make a difference and might & dexterity are just useless for this build. Nice leader stats too. The only downside is that our Constant Recovery is somewhat hindered by our low might – 2.3 points instead of 3. But, considering how defensive we’ll be, that won’t be a huge problem.

Weapon of Choice: Hatchet & Kite Shield and Dagger & Buckler.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Knockdown – that’s the reason for two sets of gear in the reason of choice. Knockdowns are your main controlling tool, pretty much, and, apart from taking the hits, that’ll be the only thing to do in the majority of combats (yeah, fighter tanks are fun to play). As their landing chance depends on our accuracy, using dagger & lighter shield gives us +18% to land them. Then we switch to the heavier stuff.

2nd level: Bonus Knock Down – we really don’t have much to do in the battle. With this talent, it’s at least one extra action (knockdowns are very helpful in the early game, so it’s a fine convenience choice). Rapid Recovery is not as good – it’s regen bonus is nerfed by our low might, unfortunately, so it can safely be skipped.

3rd level: Defender – it’s supposed to be the choice between this and a Guardian Stance (they are mutually exclusive; btw, they also don’t work with Cautious Attack so it’s useless for the fighter tank). But it’s no choice at all. Engaging enemies is very important for a tank – I mean, you have this tool for soaking up immense amounts of damage, surely you want it to work? +5 deflection is also a nice bonus (penalties in both cases don’t matter). Yes, gifting 10 deflection to our buddies is also a great deal, but the radius is a bit small – Stance doesn’t help our backrow. Defender, on the other hand, does – by holding the foes on the place. Sorta. But it’s not about that. It’s about…

4th level: Wary Defender – this. See, you take the Defender, you get access to this talent. Bull’s Will + Bear’s Fortitude + Snake’s Reflexes + Cautious Attack packed for the price of one. Saying that’s a good deal for a tank is an understatement. And you take Guardian Stance – you get nothing special. No hard choices here.

5th level: Vigorous Defense – Into the Fray sounds nice but, in my practice, I found it disappointing. As a main tank, you’re not very mobile – you’re stuck in the thick of foes and you can’t move without getting tons of disengagement attacks. So if the foe is munching your buddy (that’s the main point of it – to rescue your mates by grabbing their assaulters away) but he’s farther than 5 meters – tough luck. Also, if the path between you and target is somehow blocked (usually by another monster), he won’t move the full way – he’ll bump into his buddy and stop. Then he’ll begin chewing on your frail mage again. It’s just rather difficult to use adequately. Vigorous Defense, on the other hand, is one-click wonder – press it and for the 21 second you’re nigh-immortal.

6th level: Hold the Line – because tying up 4 foes is better than 3. Standard tank fare.

7th level: Clear Out – that’s an ok control spell. Nothing fancy, to be honest, but we’re not having many other options. Though Unbending is also a decent choice – makes us ridiculously hard to kill. As if we already were not. But we’re a very passive character so I think we want Clear Out first. I guess you should look at how you feel about her survivability – if she’s fine already, go for some disable. If not – up her longevity.

8th level: Weapon and Shield Style – so much good class talents to take that we’ve delayed this up to this level. Still, necessary for a tank.

9th level: Unbending – Critical Defense is also a solid choice, but I dunno. Our deflection is already so high (in the normal, non-augmented state) that most foes won’t have much chances to crit on us. And against common hits it’s like 5 extra deflection. Nice, but not as ridiculous as Unbending. As if we need more survivability. Well, why not.

10th level: Superior Deflection – yeah, why not.

11th level: Unbroken – so they managed to bring us down by some miracle? KK, let them try this again, now with 5 more DR and with extra 10 points to all defenses. Because of our low might, our waking endurance is not that high but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

12th level: Bear’s Fortitude – at this point, fortitude is the only really vulnerable place of this build. We won’t tolerate that.

11. Fighters – Lady of Pain
Role: tank/damage dealer

Race: Fire Godlike – this is another great fire godlike tanking build without extreme bug abusing. Works fair & square.

Stats (the Living Lands bonus included):

M 19
C 9
D 4
P 18
I 10
R 18

The lack of active abilities can be also worked towards fighter benefit – he doesn’t need as much intelligence as your average tank does. Now, minimizing it wouldn’t be smart (duh), but average one will do just fine. And in return, we can have the combo of high might and Res+Per combo. Mediocre endurance, of course, but our class bonus somewhat fixes that – unlike the previous tank, Lady gains 3.7 endurance per tick. That’s like 10% health at the level 1. And the idea here is simple – fighter takes an incredible lot of hits to be brought down and they’ll have to pay for each one of them in blood. Well, after she reaches 50% endurance. But even before that, there’s another great thing going on for this build – Riposte armor, pretty much. Some (actually, quite a lot of) magical suits of armor allows us to hit straight back at the enemy whenever he hits at us. Which makes our 19 Might even more valuable as the counter-attack will definitely hurt. The enemy will break himself upon us.

Weapon of Choice: Hatchet, after we’ve found riposte armor – Battle Axe or Sabre.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Knockdown – average int makes it not as sweet, but we have zero need of Disciplined Barrage. And, well, 2×5 second of prone for your foes is still ok.

2nd level: Rapid Recovery – with our might, we’re gaining 1.3 endurance from this one, upping our total regen to 5 endurance per tick. In the early game, that’ll absolutely compensate for our average Con. Even later on this will remain useful.

3rd level: Defender.

4th level: Wary Defender – we don’t vary that much from the previous build. I’ve typed that without intending the pun.

5th level: Vigorous Defense – even for 15 seconds it’s great.

6th level: Hold the Line – the more hits on us, the more pain for them. That’s a fine trade.

7th level: Unbending – so enemies suffer in anguish for each hit they cause on us. I wonder, how can we improve on this? Oh, let’s make their hits heal us! So they’ll have to hit us even more! Yeah, even with mediocre int this is crazy for this build.

8th level: Weapon and Shield Style.

9th level: Critical Defense – Clear Out is rather meh without much Int and this just adds up to the synergy.

10th level: Scion of Flame – just to boost up our racial. At this point, we’re doing, like, 28 damage (might bonus included) – an extra 20% on that won’t hurt. Well, it will, that’s the point. But not us.

11th level: Unbroken – their sufferings won’t end that quickly, oh no.

12th level: Superior Deflection.

11. Fighters – Sailor Senshi
Role: 1.5 line damage dealer

Race: Moon Godlike – offensive fighters are a weird bunch. On one hand, they are the weakest of all damage dealers in terms of damage. They don’t have the craziness of barbs +20 basic damage AoE. Of rogues’ x1.5 sneak attack, x2 deathblows. Of rangers rapid mass-piercing & stunning shots. Of monks full-wounds 50% bonus. Their increases are very mild. Yeah, summed up, they account to something so they’re not bad damage dealers – they can work that way. It’s just that they have the lowest output. But they compensate for that by being the sturdiest combatants of them all. I’m not sure they can stand at the frontline before getting some life-draining weapons so I won’t call them tanks, but they can count somewhere in-between. And we go moon godlike here as they put the greatest accent on this duality of ours.

Stats (the Deadfire Archipelago bonus included):

M 18
C 3
D 20
P 18
I 4
R 15

And one more time our blue-faced friends rescue us form that pesky 3 Con. Tbh, with maxed out Silver tide, good deflection score and strong Constant Recovery, we don’t need that much health. And the increased damage and disruption potential is always welcome on the fighter. If you even out this build a bit (2 extra points of resolve), you can make for a fine leader – won’t present too much complicated arguments in discussion but in some cases the ability to grab someone by the neck and lift them off the ground is the most convincing argument ever.

Weapon of Choice: Weapon School: Ruffian or Soldier. Speaking about duality – one of the most interesting aspects of fighter is that all his talents apply to both ranged & melee attacks. And while he won’t be excellent at each of them, he can become decent in both. Generally, it’s just gonna be unload your ranged weapon as they charge at you, switch to melee and hack them to death. But that depends on the build somewhat. If you have a lot of accuracy boosters in your party, even the Weapon School: Knight can work. But ruffian or soldier (depending on whether you go two weapon or two-handed) are probably safer choice.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Disciplined Barrage – doesn’t last long but knockdown is even worse with our minimized int. And, well, 10 accuracy is a fine bonus, even if only for the 10 seconds.

2nd level: Two Weapon Style or Two-Handed Style – flexibility comes at a cost, we will be starved for the talents and so we’ll have to do with the basic 3.7 regen of Constant recovery. Since in the early game we won’t find much firearms, let’s start with our melee prowess.

3rd level: Defender or Confident Aim – now it depends on what you want you want to increase more, damage dealing potential or sturdiness. With Soldier’s weapons, I’d definitely go for the Aim – it’s a nice damage increase bonus (especially with the firearms) and we can just use the pikes from the reach’s safety. Ruffian can swing either way. Defender is nice with guns, btw, as it doesn’t slow them as much as it does melee attacks – guns main slowing factor is reload time, after all. And ruffian has more gun options. He also can compensate for defender with two weapon style (sorta). But you can do vice-versa too.

4th level: Wary Defender or Weapon Focus – so we either capitalize on our defense or the offense.

5th level: Confident Aim or Weapon Specialization – aim provides a bigger bonus, btw, so if we don’t have it yet, we want to get it first.

6th level: Weapon Focus or Interrupting Blows – yeah, why not gain some extra profit from our 18 perception? The defender line can’t get it, though – they’re more talent-starved and interrupts are not as good with the slow speed.

7th level: Weapon Specialization or Armored Grace – armored grace is pretty much a 16% attack speed increase. With his accent on defense, the fighter doesn’t have a lot of reasons to go naked.

8th level: Penetrating Shot or Gunner – with blunderbuss usage, penetrating shot is a must. If you wish to go for a well-protected Soldier (atm the first row is pretty much ruffian, the second is soldier), go for the gunner too. Soldier will want to enjoy his ranged advantage a bit more so he strives to become equal ranged/melee hybrid.

9th level: Armored Grace or Unbending – the advantage of going without defender is the Unbending access. Even if it doesn’t last as long, we can always spam it in case of dire need.

10th level: Interrupting Blows or Weapon Mastery– For ruffian, interrupts are good too, they’re also part of our protection. Yeah, we don’t interrupt for long but we attack often enough. For soldier, it’s just another bit of extra damage

11th level: Unbroken – now here the duality is impossible.

12th level: Weapon Mastery or Marksman – just finishing last details. Ruffian gains hist last damage dealing talent, Soldier works even more on his ranged potential.

12. Wizards – Intro & Spell Review
The wizards are a powerful and flexible class. Given enough spell slots and casting speed (i.e. plenty dexterity without using heavy armor) they can solve almost any problem in a miniscule amount of time. Worst case scenario, they can run away from it – wizards are the escape artists of the game. At the same time, they have a relatively tough early levels – they’re very frail and, if something goes wrong, drop down almost instantly. And, as they have very few spell casts at that time, they can’t spend much on the problem solving. Or they can but that’ll leave them without much offensive potential. Which sorta misses their point. Their second level spells are also a bit lackluster. And, all in all, their spells are not exactly even in quality and, should you somehow skip an important one (which, considering that the descriptions can be quite murky, is unpleasantly easy), you won’t have a fun time. But once they hit level 5, the problems begin to vanish and at level 7 the growing pains should be pretty much gone.

So, as the spell selection is very important but you, if you made a mistake, can always rectify it by learning the spell from a looted grimoire, I’ll write this section in a different manner. First we’ll review the spells (and top level-up choices), then we’ll move on to the builds. The wizards don’t have that much of a builds so they’re spell selection is actually more defining.

I’ll categorize spells as core (you really want them in your grimoire), sideboard (you need them later than they become available or you want them in a secondary grimoire) and junk.

1st level:
Core stuff:

Chill Fog – good cast range, good AoE, long duration, does damage every couple of seconds (it can easily add up to 100 damage against the average early foe), blinds foes for a significant duration and it’s a strong debuff… As long as your tanks keep your foes inside the area, it’ll slaughter the opposition. Oh, and there’s another great part about such multi-part damage spells – since your accuracy initially rather bad, one-hit spells are absolutely hit or miss. They can either do a lot or fumble pathetically. Composite spells, on the other hand, provide a much more reliable effect.

Concelhaut’s Parasitic Staff – all the casters in this games are beefcakes and mages are no exception. So putting those muscles to action is a fine choice. This thing is insane – +8 accuracy (fixing our initially low stat) and ~30 damage dealt (before DR). And 20% of that damage goes to our endurance. And it lasts for a minute. And it’s a reach weapon so we can use it from behind the backs of our tanks (but even if someone gets to us, it’s not as scary because of endurance leech). Time to crush some skulls, baby.

Fan of Flames – hard to land properly, a bit short-ranged and you need some lucky hits, but the damage is worth it. It’s more of a secondary tool, though – we’ll be mostly using Chill Fog and, only if the opportunity will present itself, we’ll go for the fan.

Fleet Feet – this spell is the wizard’s analogue for the last bullet that is left for yourself, only it’s not as lethal. Instead, it just lets him get out of trouble fast. And fast running is the best kind of martial art, y’know.

Slicken – prone is a good debuff and it lasts long enough for an early spell. Good crowd control.

Sideboard:

Eldritch Aim – can be useful later on if we have a spare moment to cast it before unleashing a powerful combo.

Hobbled – good if you have some rogues in party (enables sneak attacks), but otherwise worse than the fan.

Spirit Shield – +3 DR doesn’t suddenly make us a tank, but 30 concentration is invaluable. Any caster hates interrupts and this will negate a lot of them. Almost all, with a proper build.

Junk:

Arkemyr’s Dazzling Lights – bad range and Daze is not that strong of debuff.

Jolting Touch – the “touch” part kills it. We don’t want to go to melee range voluntarily. At least, not for the sake of some mediocre damage being dealt.

Kalakoth’s Sunless Grasp – same as above.

Minoletta’s Minor Missiles – most foes in the game have at least 10 DR and that really kills this spell. It just doesn’t do much after all the deductions.

Thrust of Tattered Veils – low damage and interrupt chance is meh. Most wizards will want to axe their perception so it just won’t occur that often.

Wizard’s Double – extra survivability is always welcome, but just 1 attack duration is insulting.

2nd level spells:

Core stuff:

Curse of Blackened Sight – as I’ve said, blind is an excellent debuff and this gives us (well, them) 28 seconds of it. Twenty eight, that’s right. And it’s foe only so you can cast it without much thought. Awesome.

Miasma of Dull-Mindedness – gives enemies -20 deflection, -20 reflex, -40 will, -30 concentration. Any kind of a group can abuse that much debuffs strongly.

Bewildering Spectacle – it’s not that strong of a control spell but wizard’s 2nd level is rather weak so even mediocrity is appreciated. At least this is your foes not hitting you for 7 seconds.

Sideboard:

Binding Web – rather good if you have rogues, otherwise not as great until the later levels. Once you can expend the 2nd spell slot freely, you can use it to augment all of your reflex-targeting spells (you have aplenty). As a simple debuff, it’s not that great, even if it lasts long.

Bulwark Against The Elements – wizards can rack up their deflection scores rather high but they do have a problem with spell saves. So elemental damage might prose a trouble – well, it would if you didn’t had access to this spell.

Fetid Caress – 11 seconds of paralyze is nice, but the secondary AoE effect is weak and you don’t find the singular foes that much. Great in certain occasions, but not everywhere.

Infuse With Vital Essence – once you have lvl 2 slots to spare, this becomes rather good. 50 endurance is always a significant boost, especially when coupled with other protective effects. At times, you’ll have to cast protective effect after effect until they can’t hurt you anymore and only them will you have the chance to kill your foes with whatever spells that remain in your arsenal.

Merciless Gaze – once again, becomes decent when you can freely spare low spell slots. But here it’s for the prolonged boss fights instead of dire survival.

Mirrored Image – there will be better options later on but, in some situations, you need to stack as much deflection as possible (versus the gunners, for example). Then, every long-lasting source is welcome.

Necrotic Lance – the damage looks good (and it is good), but it’s a single damage instance spell. On one target. So, as I’ve said, if it does nothing it can easily lead to you reloading the tough combat. And it will.

Ray of Flame – works like the Cipher’s antipathetic field, only the range is shorter and the damage is lower. Deals damage to the primary target too. And the line stretches, so even if you ran farther than the initial 5 meter range, it’ll hold. All in all, not the worst damaging spell ever but also not as crazy to cover the difficulty of use.

Junk:

Combusting Wounds – looks like a nice combo piece but really isn’t. It’s sorta the rogue’s Deep Wounds problem – instead of adding straight 5 damage, it gives funky 5 damage DoT, thus not giving any sort of a meaningful combo potential. There are better damaging spells.

Concelhaut’s Corrosive Siphon – the damage is actually small and endurance drain doesn’t matter as much as you’d hope it would. Especially since it can’t take us over the max endurance. Range is short and AoE is small.

Rolling Flame – would’ve been core if it actually did the damage it promises. The actual damage output is lower than is written (bug?) and, because the game is isometric, it’s not that easy to bounce the flame back on the foes. It’s very hard to control it, frankly.

12. Wizards – Spell Review Continued
3rd level spells:

Core stuff:

Crackling Bolt – pretty good damage and, most importantly, fast cast rate. Fast cast means you can spam ridiculously (once you’ll have the slots for it). In tough battles, chaining fast cast damaging spell can be a key to your victory. It has the same mechanic as the Rolling Boulder, though, so be wary not to reflect it across your party – that will sting a bit.

Deleterious Alacrity of Motion – apart from their spell might, wizards are great at weapon usage. 50% attack speed is not a joke, even if it costs some minor endurance. And parasitic Staff is already solid but there’s even something better than that – read below.

Kalakoth’s Minor Blights – superb. For a proper wizard, one blight will do about 30 damage per hit. It will also cause small AoE blast, touching 2-3-4 foes and dealing some nice (though smaller) damage to them. Blights change in a cycle, so you’ll scroll through all kinds of elemental damage. And, most important, blights are actually wands. Weird, enchanted, one-use wands. So the talents that work with wands (blast, penetrating blast, dangerous implement, weapon focus: adventurer) totally work with blights. And they’re powerful enough to merit their own build. And they last long. And under deleterious alacrity…

Llengrath’s Displaced Image – now that’s a deflection buff! Long duration and no strings attached. And even gives us lots of reflexes as a bonus – that’s always welcome.

Sideboard:

Arcane Dampener – very good about supportive casters that you encounters. But that’s why it is sideboard – you don’t meet them in every combat.

Arduous Delay of Motion – it’s very good for the ranged parties (and wizard can be a part of that). Otherwise, it reduces their damage by 30%, pretty much, and while that is not bad, that’s also nothing insane. I guess it can be very good against full plate and other heavy armor users as the armor penalties will stack nicely (for you).

Expose Vulnerabilities – against most foes, blindness is preferable as -20 deflection leads to lots of criticals (and that’s a level 2 spell). However, if that’s not enough or if you have some ways to abuse the DR loss (and you do), this can work rather well. Not to mention that you can use both.

Fireball – fast cast time is nice but the damage is just not there. Usually, crackling bolt is the better option. Still, against certain kinds of foes this will be better so it’s useful to keep this in mind.

Minoletta’s Bounding Missiles – same problems as with the minor ones. Too bad against DR and DR is everywhere.

Junk:

Concelhaut’s Draining Touch – no touching!

Noxious Burst – nice AoE and a slight debuff in addition to damage, but the damage itself is average.

Rymgrin’s Repulsive Image – it works only when you’re standing near the foes and you’d want to avoid that situation absolutely. And the reward is just not there – the debuff here is mild.

4th level spells:

Core stuff:

Confusion – great AoE, decent enough duration. I find it to be not as great as some of the other core spells are, but 4th level spells are also shallow so the plank here is hardly high.

Essential Phantom – quite essential indeed. Despite the word “duplicate”, it has barely anything common with you – actually, it’s very sturdy, has great defenses, is always armed with wand, deals about 30 basic electrical damage and half of that in the AoE. Summons are rare in this game and this is a great summon.

Dimensional Shift – it’s a good escape spell but it’s hard to actually disable someone with this. The positioning requirements are just too annoying. This can be very good if you have some summons (and, obviously, you’ll have your phantom – that’s why this spell is core), especially throwaway ones.

Sideboard:

Ironskin – generally, you want to build up deflection sky-high but there are times when that’s not enough (gunners, for example). For such occasions, ironskin is the best answer.

Minor Arcane Reflection – a potent tool but very obvious sideboard.

Junk:

Flame Shield – wizard can rack up quite a bit of defenses but what’s the point? The reward here is too laughable – just 10 damage per hit. Fire godlike tanks are much better at this.

Minoletta’s Concussive Missiles – can you do anything right, Minoletta? Stop spamming us with your pointless spells!

Minor Grimoire Imprint – you don’t fight wizards in each battle and even then it’s way too random.

Wall of Flame – it lasts rather long but the damage is very small and, at this point, almost insignificant.

12. Wizards – Lots of Spells in this One
5th level spells:

Core stuff:

Blast of Frost – the AoE could’ve been longer but the damage is pretty high so it’ll hurt even against strong DR.

Malignant Cloud – the damage is small but it’s raw. It’s guaranteed 80 damage or so, as long as the enemies stay in the area. And, at this stage, it shouldn’t be that hard to do.

Ninagauth’s Bitter Mooring – a greatly upgraded ray of flame. Longer range (not as long as the cipher’s toys, though), good damage, good duration. Stuck effects galore for the foes. As all such spells, can be a bit tricky to use but the potential reward is certainly there.

Torrent of Flame – the greatest part of this is fast cast time. So, whereas early on you were afraid of getting surrounded by the foes, now you almost welcome it. Let’s see what remains of them after a couple of these.

Sideboard:

Llengrath’s Safeguard – you probably don’t want it in every combat but it can be periodically valuable. Prone duration is 4 seconds, btw.

Ryngrim’s Enervating Terror – sorta ok. I prefer pure disables but the effect here lasts quite a long, has huge AoE and reduces their resistances greatly. Enables sneak attack too. That’s not hard to abuse.

Wall of Force – the damage is negligible at this point but the hobble duration is big so you can use it as another sneak attack enabler. And the deathblows time is soon where you want even more such enablers in your party.

Junk:

Arkemyr’s Wondrous Torment – would’ve been better if Miasma of Dull-Mindedness didn’t exist. As it is, it’s a 5th level spell that is worse than a 2nd level spell. Not good at all.

Call to Slumber – it’s not bad per se but at character level 9 you want something a bit flashier than this one.

Citzal’s Spirit Lance – a huge disappointment. It’s more or less equal to the Kalakoth’s Minor Blights only it’s a reach weapon (instead of 12 meter range wand) and it attacks at the slower pace (as it is a pike). Not sure what the point is here.

6th level spells:

Core stuff:

Citzal’s Martial Power – it’s good to be a ‘roid abusing wizard. Why even bother to cast spells when you can crush their faces with your fist? Well, you do need to cast spells a bit – the proper combo is Kalakoth’s Minor Blights + Deleterious Alacrity of Motion + this. All Fast spells so it’s not a long combo, btw. So it’s not even a fist you’ll be using, but some faces are certain to get smashed. Can use this with a decently enchanted war bow too. Lots of DPS in any case.

Gaze of the Adragan – petrified is the supreme disable. -40 deflection and you get insane bonuses to the damage dealt. Yes, you hit health instead of endurance and that is the bigger value, but penalties seem to compensate for that. And the duration is excellent.

Minoletta’s Precisely Piercing Burst – you know, once she stops pumping out those crap missiles of hers, Minoletta actually becomes good at what she does. This is a hugely upgraded Torrent of Flame – bigger AoE, foes only, better damage. The description is a bit bold – it bypasses 10 DR, not all of it. Even then, it’s a great spell.

Ninagauth’s Freezing Pillar – an evolution of Chill Fog. The debuff somehow got weaker, but the damage is more or less fine. Not as crazy as the previous stuff but still quite serviceable.

Sideboard:

Arcane Reflection – incredibly good, actually, yet a clear sideboard option.

Junk:

Arcemyr’s Capricious Hex – sorry, I prefer my hexes trusty. I mean, the paralyze part is awesome, but daze & sickened are meh. So it’s just 33% of the awesome – not good enough in my book.

Chain Lightning – despite the respectful name, the damage here is quite disappointing. Same as the Crackling Bolt, actually, only 3 levels higher. Yeah, this is kinda auto-tracking, but come on!

Death Ring – redundant. Yeah, it finishes up weak foes nicely but, well, that’s why they’re weak. And against strong ones, the damage is bad and it’s impossible to avoid touching your party.

12. Wizards – Rune Soldier Louie
Role: 3rd line damage dealer

Race: Wood Elf – wizards love to keep their distance and their accuracy is lacking. Still, it’s not as crucial and anything can go well here.

Stats (the Living Lands bonus included):

M 19
C 3
D 19
P 4
I 18
R 15

Dexterity is crucial for wizards. I mean, Might and Int too, but they’re obvious. Dex is just a huge combo enabler – want to enable that Citzal’s 1-2-3 punch? Dex helps to do that quicker. Want to kill the surrounding foes by Torrents and Piercing Waves? Dex is your friend. Want to escape ASAP? Dex gives you Fleet Feet faster. Dex also makes interrupting you harder (and that’s why we want resolve – we want those concentration points). Dex just solves way too much troubles. And minimized constitution is nothing – we don’t lose that much in the first place and, if we use our answers properly and timely (hello, dex!), we should absolutely negate its significance.

Weapon of Choice: Hatchet & Shield and Wand. Yeah, it seems misleading, but your wizard doesn’t need to hold his grimoire in his hand to cast. So, depending on the situation, we either want more deflection or just some way of dealing extra damage.

Talents and ability choices:

2nd level: Arcane Veil or Fast Running – both are vital to our continued survival and it’s hard to tell which one should come first. We need both and the clear order is really arguable. I guess it comes to your personal preference. Worst case scenario, flip a coin. BTW, we skip Grimoire Slam as it is way too hit or miss of a retreat tool.

4th level: Hardened Veil or Arcane Veil – yeah, on its own, Veil is not that impressive. Yeah, 25 deflection but only 14 seconds. But once you harden it… 45 is a wholly different beast. Sure, 2 per rest sucks, but you use it in the direst of cases so it’s fine.

6th level: Fast Running or Hardened Veil – and running just gives us extra mobility (which is good for the sake of positioning) and augments our fleet feet (or is it vice versa?)

8th level: Scion of Flame or Secrets of Rime or Heart of the Storm. We want all three eventually so just look at what you are using more at this point. It’s all about picking order.

10th level: Scion of Flame or Secrets of Rime or Heart of the Storm.

12th level: Scion of Flame or Secrets of Rime or Heart of the Storm. If you don’t use electricity that often, you may go for some defensive feat here or for the Graceful Retreat.

12. Wizards – Moon Prism
Role: 3rd line damage dealer

Race: Moon Goodlike – hard to make sailor moon jokes about anyone else in this game, right? Moons make potent wizards as they compensate their frailty. Stat bonuses are good too.

Stats (the Deadfire Archipelago bonus included):

M 18
C 3
D 20
P 3
I 19
R 15

Not a lot of difference here. It’s just a more minor blight abusing build.

Weapon of Choice: Wand.

Talents and ability choices:

2nd level: Blast – even with the armor penetration, it falls of a bit in the late game. That’s why at first I didn’t liked the wand wizard builds. But once I understood the blight…

4th level: Penetrating Blast – see, the blights cause their own AoE damage and, as they are wands, they also apply this blasts. Twice the fun this way.

6th level: Dangerous Implement – 25% to the considerable Minor Blight damage. And being moon godlike solves the problem of self-draining nicely.

8th level: Scion of Flame or Secrets of Rime or Heart of the Storm. Wands deal elemental damage so these improve it even further. And, of course, they’re useful to our other spells.

10th level: Scion of Flame or Secrets of Rime or Heart of the Storm.

12th level: Scion of Flame or Secrets of Rime or Heart of the Storm.

12. Wizards – Control Freak
Role: 3rd line controller

Race: Coastal Aumaua – the stat bonus is pointless but he fixes our horrible fortitude. Wild Orlan can work too for the same reason.

Stats (the Old Vailia bonus included):

M 5
C 3
D 18
P 15
I 19
R 18

This is a very questionable build. Now, on each level wizard has a couple of nice disables so it’s not like he’s gonna be useless. And, with his high starting deflection and proper spells, he’s gonna be even harder to kill. But still, I don’t think all this merits the loss of wizards’ awesome offensive potential. It’s a nice leader build (one of the few talky leaders who is not a tank), but it’s not the best wizard build ever. Besides, the basic wizard is also rather talky. But, well, you choose your poison.

Weapon of Choice: Hatchet & Kite Shield.

Talents and ability choices:

2nd level: Arcane Veil – yeah, let’s focus on building up that deflection score really high. We won’t be even planning on running away – we have nothing but disables & protection buffs, why run?

4th level: Hardened Veil.

6th level: Weapon and Shield style.

8th level: Cautious Attack – we’re almost a magical tank.

10th level: Superior Deflection.

12th level: Bear’s Endurance – let’s fix that fortitude score at least somehow.

13. Druids – Intro
Druid is not a difficult character to understand. To be honest, he’s one of the easiest characters in the game to use – in the early game, his animal form forgives lots of mistakes. In the late game, so does the ability to spam 1st level spells and 2nd level spells per encounter. That happens exactly like with the priest – at levels 9 and 11. Considering that form last until the level 6 or so, that leaves him with a very small gap where he potentially feels even a bit weak.

Now, about a form lasting – see, it’s one of the best 1st level options but it doesn’t progress that well. As a matter of fact, it doesn’t progress anywhere, if you spend extra talents to augment it. Early levels – yeah, it’s brilliant. 25-30 melee damage per dual-wield (with cat attacking even faster) hit and natural armor of 8 DR (or even 10 for the bear) with zero speed penalty. The duration is crappy, only 14 seconds, and druidic deflection score is crappy (it tells 20 during creation but apparently it’s only 15), but as long as someone is taking the focus you can cause lots of damage in the process. Early game, you’re a beast (like, twice so).

But the tradeoff for that is all your equipment being disabled for those 14 seconds. So yeah, while you are poor and half-naked, you don’t care. But once you begin to accumulate decent weapons, decent armor, trinkets, etc., suddenly going into animal form makes you actually more vulnerable and less damage dealing. Equal, at best. Whether you take the wildstrike feats or no. And, well, thanks to his spammable spells druid has zero incentive to go into any fighting route – why would he? So any combat feats you’ll accumulate in the early levels (there will be a strong desire to take them) will turn into pumpkins once twelve hits the clock. That’s the point – enjoy it while it lasts, but know it’s not your main focus, it’s only temporary. As long as you build for the future properly, you’ll do fine.

Best for is Cat, btw – the biggest trait of transformation is the damage dealt, after all, and it excels at that. If you’re somehow allergic to cats, bears or stags can do – their increase in survivability can help you a bit. Wolves and boars are probably the worst – boars regen too slow for it to matter and wolves are good at running away when we want to fight. But, apart from the cat, the quality gap is not that huge.

13. Druids – Tiger’s Claw (everything else too)
Role: 3rd line damage dealer/controller/debuffer/buffer

Race: anything goes – as usual, wood elves are good to boost ranged spells, moon godlikes provide survivability, but pretty much everything can be decent. I guess only island aumaua is bad – you really have no use for the spare weapon slot.

Stats (Wood Elf, the Old Vailia bonus included):

M 18
C 8
D 19
P 4
I 19
R 10

If you want this character to be a leader, you may think about something like this:

M 18
C 3
D 18
P 4
I 18
R 17

Requires a bit more micro, but more dialogue options available. Anyhow, the druid absolutely doesn’t differ from other casters – he needs lots of Int and Might to power his spells and dexterity allows him to spam in the later game, is great early on with the insane claw damage and helps our template precision (the faster we cast, the less time the enemy has to escape the template).

Weapon of Choice: Hatchet & Shield. It’s good to be protected as, should you exit the form before killing all enemies, you may find yourself vulnerable and without much defenses. Especially as the starting gear of the druid is very, very light.

Talents and ability choices:

1st level: Animal Form: Cat. Simply the best.

2nd level: Secrets of Rime – we have some excellent 1st and 2nd level ice spells which we will be using quite often. And, as I’ve said, wildstrike enhancement or two-weapon style is a trap.

4th level: Bonus 1st Level Spell – our 1st level spells are incredibly good and we’ll spam them actively later on. So this is a good investment in the future and it’ll be quite helpful at the time of the taking.

6th level: Heart of the Storm – we have two incredibly good electricity spell and one of them we’ll use through the midgame relentlessly so this is a good pick.

8th level: Bonus 2nd level spell or Weapon and Shield Style – now you either get more spells in your book or work on your defenses a bit. Depends on how you feel about your char – do you want more survivability or spamminess?

10th level: Bonus 3rd level spell or Cautious Attack.

12th level: Bonus 4th level spell or Superior Deflection.

13. Druids – Spell Review
As druid has access to all the spells, I won’t review them that carefully – you can’t make any mistakes here. I’ll just pinpoint the best & some nuanced stuff.

1st level:

Charm Beast – excellent against the beast, but note that this definition might be a bit broad in this game. Spider is a beast, for example.

Nature’s Vigor – suprisingly enough, the druid is much better healer than the priest. Yeah, it’s over time but, at times, that’s even a plus – you just cast it as you enter the combat and so it slowly negates the damage you take. This applies to all such druid’s spells. This one is also pretty good in the late game – it becomes a decent buff as extra 15% health turn into a decent amount of extra endurance.

Sunbeam – this thing is ridiculous. Decent damage and 21 second of blind in the AoE. Blind is extremely good debuff so this thing is your early game bread and butter spell.

Talon’s Reach – looks mediocre, but actually becomes good at level 9. It’s one of the few druidic offensive spells that has the fast cast time. So you can spam it in rapid succession should the need arise. That can be useful occasionally.

Tanglefoot – only really good with rouges or later on when you can spare a spell just to give them -20 reflex and augment your further spells.

Winter Wind – your second decent choice here. Great damage but no extra effects. Usually, you use Sunbeam as an opener and this is more of a closer.

2nd level spells:

Blizzard – best offensive spell at this level, nothing else really reaches its quality. Though, all in all druidic level 2 offensive spells are so-so, meaning this is not much of a compliment.

Conjure Lesser Blight – it’s too frail and the damage is meh. Bad, bad summon!

Firebrand – meh. Deals as much damage as the form’s claws only slower. Unlike parasitic staff of the wizard, has no reach (it summons greatsword, btw) or lifedrain. I guess you can add lifedrain via Taste of the Hunt spell, but that’s too much spells used for too little profit. Generally, your form is better and if your form can’t do anything in melee, this won’t cut it too.

Hold Beasts – great against everything that counts as a beast in this game.

Woodskin – awesome buff. One of the best early buffs in the game, actually. Lots of protection gained so you’ll want to use it in all the tough battles.

3rd level spells:

Beetle Shell – good tool to save your teammates. Now, it’s not useful for that long (the shell has no armor so high level foes break it too quickly), but in the mid-game it is decent enough to help character last until you get him out of trouble somehow.

Nature’s Balm – later on, this becomes sorta inferior to the Nature’s Vigor (druid level 1 spells are that good), but at this point it’s quite usable.

Returning Storm – makes all other combat spells and debuffs at this level obsolete. Lasts for a long time, does 14 or so procs and each is a decent chunk of damage plus a 4.4 second stun. Great, more so against singular targets where the lighting hits the same spot twice and thrice and as much as it takes.

Stag’s Horn – it’s not a bad debuff against singular targets, but you only cast it in addition to the storm, not instead.

4th level spells:

Conjure Blight – now that’s a good summon. Lots of hps, defenses and a decent damage being dealt. At the very least, makes a nice meatshield/decoy.

Moonwell – great buff, great healing. That it lasts so long is actually a great boon – even easier to cast it at the start of combat to benefit in the process.

Overwhelming Wave – obsoletes everything else at this level. 40 crush damage (it seems to be unaffected by the might bonus and it ignores reductions) and 14.5 second stun. Yeah, fourteen and a half. Great reach and area. Occasionally, you will use the Calling the World’s Maw when you’ll need a round template (if your party totally blocks the path to your foes, for example), but that’s it – in all other instances this wave is overwhelming.

5th level spells:

Cleansing Wind – bugged? Doesn’t do anything to the foes and the heal is too small.

Plague of Insects – great against bosses. 99 raw damage over time is a very impressive amount against them.

Relentless Storm – Returning Storm 2.0. Less damage and stun but hits everyone at once with each tick. Compared to that, nothing else really matters here – maybe embrace the earth-talon against the lightning resistant foes. But that’s it.

6th level spells:

Conjure Greater Blight – actually, sixth level spells of the druid are sorta meh. Like this blight – it’s an ok summon but not that much of upgrade over the medium one.

Garden of Life – great heal in the long, massive combats. Heals everyone in the area 25 endurance for every corpse in the area. Fight ten enemies, kill 5 – heal everyone for 125. Such good instant healing is rare. But, ofc, there are occasion where it will be useless – single dragon combat, for example.

Rot Skulls – works a bit like Kalakoth’s Minor Blights. The skull this summons is actually a wand. It shoots for 27-40 crushing damage (with 18 might build) and does 40 corruption damage in small AoE. But that damage is not instant – it’s over time with 13 seconds duration. So it’s probably the best druidic offensive spell at this level. Doesn’t worth taking the dangerous implement or building around – druid has nothing like Deleterious Alacrity of Motion or Citzal’s Martial Power, after all.

Sunlance – yuck. So this deals the stated damage and, to everything that passed through the foe’s DR, it adds 50%. So this, on the average, will deal 60-70 to a single target. For a sixth level spell, that’s insultingly low.

Venombloom – similar to the Plague of Insects, only doesn’t last as long and the mechanic is a bit different. Anyways, cast this on the boss and, if things go your way, you can deal 80-100 raw damage to it. That’s ok.

14. Companions – Bringing Out The Dead
Whereas calling the companions horrible later on was perhaps a bit dramatic (they’re mostly inept), using default party is still not easy. And the biggest issue is actually role distribution. So the balanced party is 2 tanks – 2 sturdy dds – 2 frail dds. The game offers us 1 tank – 1 sturdy dd – 5 frail dds. And one amorphous blob of stats that pretend to be… Something. So there are two types of slots that can’t be reasonably filled. And you’d better hope you’ll like Eder and Sagani (but while liking them is up to everyone’s personal taste, at least disliking them is hard to imagine – they not very provoking). So you have to conjure one tank somehow and, if you want to get rid of Sagani, it’s also troublesome – you’re left with nothing but casters to fill the dd slots. And while that is certainly viable, it’s also a bit more vulnerable and micro-demanding.

Generally speaking, even if you want to enjoy the story, it’s a very good idea to go 2+4 instead of a 1+5. Yes, two custom characters, your main and one henchmen. You’re losing only 20% quips (and you can always rotate your companions as many of them fill the same party slots) but your party becomes many times more flexible and/or convenient. It’s also nice to play some kind of caster character yourself this way (more realistically speaking, you will have to play casters this way) – at the very least, hire a temporary henchman so you won’t suffer at the start. It’s gonna be just 1 tank + squishy wizard + squishy priest + squishy (most likely) you. Eder won’t cover that much ground, believe me.

Now for the particular companions (you can get them at different levels, but I’ll be orienting at what a normal, non-rushing playthrough will give you):

Aloth, lvl 2 mage:
M 12
C 10
D 15
P 12
I 16
R 13

Talents: Blast

You know, I’ve heard (and, to be honest, said) a lot of flak about him, but most of the problems with him stem from not knowing the decent spells early on. One of the issues with Pillars is that it absolutely assaults you with all kinds of information at the start of the game. Both rpg system and flavor related. So I personally found it rather hard to focus on something (anything and everything) early on – there’s just too much stuff to process at the same time. So, if you go with him carelessly, yeah, he sucks. But once you understand how wizards work, you know that he’s rather fine. Well, as far as a companion can be.

His biggest problem is wizards being naturally frail at low levels and his starting spell selection being trash. Apart from Fan of Flames (which isn’t that convenient to use without fast running), it’s nothing but horrible, horrible junk. Now, the first two grimoires you’ll find will fix that issue, giving you Chill Fog and Fleet Feet. And you can exchange one of this 2nd level spells learned for the Slicken. With his mediocre might, I wouldn’t go for the parasitic staff, though. I also wouldn’t develop his Blast proficiency that much – it’s a powerful build but, once again, mediocre might prevents him from enjoying the blights. With only 12, his blasts just won’t be the same. So develop him like a normal wizard, just with one talent less – fast running, probably. And maybe I’d even pick one of his elemental talents fast, simply to compensate for his lack of damage.

Eder, lvl 3 fighter:
M 16
C 16
D 11
P 12
I 10
R 13

Abilities: Knock Down, Defender
Talents: Weapon Focus: Ruffian, Rapid Recovery (unless they fix that, he comes with 1 extra talent if you pick him early)

Despite his stats being ok for both fighter directions, Eder is your party’s tank. That goes without a question. Even if you’re playing a tank yourself and are willing to hire a henchmen, it’s much better to take a dd and leave tanking to Eder. Wary Defender is just too good for this sort of thing, optimized stats or no. And you can always utilize his Might by equipping him with riposte armor – yeah, his second chance scale seems awesome and almost broken early on, but eventually riposte will become much more powerful and, in combination with a draining weapon, quite as durable. That’s why his ruffian talent is not a waste – there is a decent draining sabre in the game and, after the 1.03, sabres are incredibly good. So simply focus on building his deflection, DR and defenses as high as possible and he’ll do fine.

Durance, lvl 3 priest:

M 14
C 13
D 9
P 9
I 15
R 19

Talents: Bear’s Fortitude

Durance is a hard case. The worst thing with him, I think, is that he seems to give you incentive to go for a weapon & shield, Cautious Attack sort of a priest. I mean, you have to utilize that resolve somehow, right? Not really. Defenses in PoE only work when there are multiple layers of them, multiplying each other. While there is an argument about DR vs Deflection going around, it’s rather faulty – you need both. You have high DR, low deflection – frequent criticals rip through your DR. You have low DR, high deflections – yeah, you get nothing but grazes yet even grazes hurt. And while you can easily equip Durance in the plate armor, that’ll devastate his already low casting speed. Early game that won’t be noticeable, late game it will hurt. You need to cast your three buffs rapidly? Enjoy your waiting time. So I think you just ignore his Resolve (well, the concentration part of it will help occasionally) and play him as a common priest, just with lesser spellspam emphasis. Just as a buffbot, pretty much. Keeping him lightly armored and away from the frontline. You may even consider going for a Magran special talent – you have some talent slots to spare with Durance so why not? Arquebus suits him nicer than his staff anyway.

Kana, lvl 4 chanter:

M 16
C 12
D 9
P 14
I 17
R 10

Talents: ancient memory, field triage

Phrases: Blessed was Wengridh; Lo, Their Endless Host; At the Sight of Their Comrades.
Invoc: The Thunder Rolled; If Their Bones; And Hel Hiraf.

Kana is one of the best built companions – unless they go tanks (and, quite obviously, he doesn’t), chanters don’t need that many attributes, only their primary Might and Int. And he has enough of both. So he makes for a nice second-line chanter. Gun chanter, maybe – now, since you can’t focus your core party around run&gun tactics, he doesn’t go for the more specific aspects of that build. But take Quick Switch+Arms Bearer+Weapon Focus+Gunner on him (and, if you rush him by level 3, you’ll even have a talent to spare on Marksman or, if you wish to use Blunderbuss, penetrating shot; but I think he should stick to the arquebus or arbalest as, without extra damage increases from class abilities, blunderbuss is not that great) and suddenly he’s a capable shooter. Sure-Handed Ha will also beneift your entire third-line greatly – you see, most of your companions have rather mediocre might scores. And that absolutely makes them want to use guns and arbalests – those are pretty much the only way to penetrate high DR reliably without being a hulk. Chances are very high that your entire dd-squad will be using guns and, in that case, Sure-Handed Ha becomes incredibly profitable.

His only issue is that his invocation & phrase suite is a bit meh. I guess he gets Their Endless Host earlier than he’s supposed to, but it’s not that strong and not having Come, Come is one of the reasons you stick him in the deep backrow. And while he has a really useful The Thunder Rolled, not having Reny Daret’s ghost is somewhat disappointing. I guess you really want to rush him at level 3 so you can take it.

14. Companions – cont.
Sagani, lvl 4 ranger:

M 15
C 12
D 15
P 13
I 13
R 10

Talents: faithful companion, weapon focus peasant
Abilities: wounded shot & marked prey

Pre-1.03, she was the worst companion in the game. Period. But things have changed and now she’s one of the top ones. It’s just that you really want a physical dd in your party and, well, here she is. A ranger with agreeable attributes. Here talents are horrible, of course (I guess you really want to rush her at level 3?), but at least the weapon focus won’t go to waste. Later on, as she gets her stunning shots, she will be able to use it to some extent. Apart from that she’s just your ordinary build, just with 1-2 talent less and delayed core abilities. You can even gear her for both fast and critical builds. For fast aim build, the talents will be weapon focus: ruffian, penetrating shot, gunner, swift and steady. For crit build you go with the war bow and take weapon focus: adventurer, marksman, accurate wounding shot, bloody slaughter. Or you can stick with the crossbow and just exchange slaughter for the gunner. Both ways are fine.

Hiravias, lvl 5 druid:
M 14
C 13
D 12
P 13
I 15
R 10

Talents: Bonus 1st level spell, weapon focus: peasant

He’s decent. It’s just that you get him at the most awkward time for a druid (if you proceed naturally) – his spiritshift is already past its peak and his 9th level spellspam is yet to begin. But you don’t really develop him around that – you just give him a gun (guns solve anything) and wait for the start of the funtime. He even has a bonus 1st level spell so that’s only 1 talent wasted. The rest will come from the standard druid’s fare – elemental amplification and probably one bonus spell as a finisher. Choose the level you like the most.

Grieving Mother, lvl 5 cipher:
M 11
C 12
D 16
P 17
I 12
R 10

Talents: Draining Whip, Biting Whip
1st level powers: Eyestrike, Mind Wave, Whisper of Treason
2nd level powers: Mind Blades, Phantom Foes, Recall Agony
3rd level powers: Puppet Master, Soul Ignition

Houston, we’ve had a problem. And I’m not sure how to fix this one. High-dexterity caster is nice for a change, but no might means that you’re not gaining much benefit out of it – what’s the point of frequent attacks if you’re not penetrating much of their DR? But that’s the lesser half of the problem – the bigger is that the cipher’s focus gain is, of course, tied to his damage dealt. Low might means low focus. And her low Int means her powers don’t last as long so you need more focus than average. That makes for a rather depressive equation. And you can’t even fix much by blunderbuss as it totally depends on 18+ might to actually deal some damage.

At least her talents and powers are sorta ok. The lack of Mental Binding is disturbing, but you just take it at level 6 – cheap and good powers are very important for this companion. So you just give her the arquebus, take the according talents (weapon focus: soldier, gunner, marksman, bloody slaughter) and move on, somehow. There’s not a lot that you can do to make her better.

Pallegina, lvl 5 paladin:
M 12
C 13
D 11
P 14
I 13
R 15

Talents: Intense Flames, Weapon Focus: Soldier
Abilities: Zealous Focus, Lay on Hands, Flames of Devotion

If I was black, I’d said that everything is as usual – the white man keeping the sister down. Because the only thing that’s worse than her name is her build. Yeah, that amorphous blob I’ve mentioned before is Paladina. Sure, paladins can be both tanks and dds, but she tries to be everything and ends up nothing. So her stats are a mess, but ok, there is a slight focus on defense. Her talents and abilities, however, are all offensive. With the useless Lay on Hands included – and paladins are incredibly ability-starved.

She’s just an all-way around futility – too spoiled to make her in a tank build, too weak to act as an actual dd. Even if you rush her, that won’t change a lot. The paladins are just that way, they don’t forgive build mistakes. And they haven’t even bothered to invent a unique talent for her order – and let’s not forget that a lot of the paladin’s usefulness comes from those. So, answering the Hiravias’ question – oh, she definitely has a cloaca. Her build is the cloaca. If you still want to use her, the answer will be trite – guns. Arquebus is nice with the flames, so just follow up with gunner, marksman, critical focus and a monster-hating talent or bloody slaugther, I think. In terms of abilities, take sworn enemy, reviving and hastening exhortations. I guess she + Kana + Sagani + one other gunned up caster make for a tolerable shooting stack.

15. Path of The Damned – Global Rules
The highest difficulty in Pillars is not as scary as they tell – true, it can be a bit challenging and tricky at times, but isn’t that what we want from the game? At least if we’re looking for gameplay first and foremost, as RPGs are pretty complex and diverse in what they offer and different people enjoy different aspects of them. Anyhow, as long as you understand the global rule changes this mode brings, you’ll do fine with the majority of party combinations.

So the monsters all get huge attribute buffs – almost all of their stats increase. Damage dealing capacity, longevity, spell resistance, accuracy. The only thing that remains unchanged is their damage reduction. In addition, their number vastly increases – usually, the amount of the tough monsters per encounter remains roughly the same, but a lot of weaker supports get added into the picture. What does that mean for us?

The greater sturdiness of your foes and their sheer numbers change the tempo of the combat significantly. Previously, your average fight would be what, 30-40 seconds? Now it can easily be a minute and a half, if not more. That means that all temporary effects get weaker – they just don’t last long enough. Passives, on the other hand, get stronger as you get more time to use them. Which, of course, will influence some of our ability choices. Area of effect spells theoretically get stronger, but that’s compensated by the monsters having really, really high saving throws – sure, you hit plenty of targets, but that’s mostly misses and grazes. Of course, this hits the traditional casters (wizard-priest-druid) immensely. I’m not saying they’re useless but in the first half of the game they will at times seem that way. Priest and druid suffer a bit less as they still have their buffs, whereas wizard is stricken the most.

One good way to solve this malady is to have some replacement players – when you play with the henchmen party, you usually hire just five. But the limit is eight, actually, and if you hire some casters and put them in reserve, they’ll still level up with the rest of your party. So, instead of suffering through their early levels, you can avoid the problems that way. You can also just hire higher leveled mercenaries as you grow in power themselves, but getting them from the start is more advantageous – less experience gap between you and them.

Returning to the stats – another very important factor are interrupts. Now, you can just forget about them – they weren’t that reliable before and, with mobs having even higher concentration, they’re even less useful now. Interrupt build go out of the window. Enemies, on the other hand, become pretty good at breaking your concentration. Especially as there are lots of them. So many melee fighters will probably want to invest into their Resolve, maybe even at the cost of Dexterity if they lack points to shave from elsewhere – no point in having high attack speed if you’re constantly interrupted. Casters, btw, may also wish to redirect their high dexterity into deflection – the battles go pretty long so they’ll have enough time to cast all they want even with the mediocre Dex. And most of their combos become blunted, bereft of the backbreaking impact they used to have. So the point of speedcasting is somewhat lost here.

Resolve is also very important because of deflection. That’s your main survival tool here. See, at lower difficulties, deflection is rather broken – you can have almost 80-90 of it on a level 3 character and that’s when the enemies have the attacks of 30-50. And that’s even without buffs. With buffs, that gets even crazier as the high level priest can give, like, +50 deflection for the entire party in two casts. On PoTD, enemy accuracy increases but not that much – it’s about fifteen or twenty more on the average. Still not enough to break through defenses. So that’s what you want to have on everyone who can afford it – lots of deflection. All casters, for example, should sacrifice a bit of their talents and go for the weapon & shield > cautious attack > superior deflection line. It’s just too effective – use it properly and it’s an easy +40 deflection or so. Everyone also wears plate armor.

See, tanks are needed in PoTD but they’re not as effective. There’s just too many mobs and so there simply isn’t enough place around your tanks to place them all. The wave spills over them and hits everyone else. So you want as little frail party members as possible – you just can’t control the enemy as precisely as you could. Defense should me more spread around and your tanks should all provide something else in addition to sturdiness.

One other strategy that dies off are the crit-based builds – Rogues can still use them because of their passives, but for everyone else it’s a no-no. Just not enough accuracy to provide the results they need. One handed builds may still be worth it simple because of the high hit percentage – can be very meaningful for the monk whos disables depend on melee hits. Just don’t do them with battle-axes – use either sabres or +5 accuracy stuff.

Guns, on the other hand, become even more powerful. It’s all about the combat being really crowded – and, as summons are awesome at this difficulties and you want to have a chanter & all those figurines, that makes it even worse. Moving across the battlefield becomes very complicated and those are the sad news for melee specialists. And, well, you want to focus those mages somehow before they melt your entire party away. So you want to have reach which the guns (or crossbows) rather steadily provide.

Actual reach weapons are not that great, though. See, because the tanks leak, the strategy of “sit behind the tank and poke them with your pointy stick” stops working. They always go around. And, apart from that, there’s no big advantage to using pike/staff over guns. So, apart from being a dungeon delving sidearm, they’re not much else. Some frailer builds become obsolete because of this, of course.

Draining weapons stop being crazy and broken – enemies DPS overflows while your own ebbs. Logically enough, these become a pale shadow of themselves. Not worthless, but just not as good and dependable.

Scrolls become very important at this difficuly. Scrolls, figurine, potions, food, even drugs for the ciphers – use every advantage you have. Many tough battles can be waltzed through if you use enough scrolls. All of them, pretty much. Note that casters are not that good at using them, actually – they have a crap accuracy so use your fighters, rangers, rogues, monks instead. Your scrolls will love base 30 accuracy.

As for the spells, the only way of dealing real damage with them is to use reflex-targeting damage stuff in combination with strong debuffs. Paralyze and petrify are optimal here – they give freaking -100 to reflex. That’s no misses, crits galore. But even your average hobble with its -24 can help significanly – it’s easier to apply continuously, at the very least. That also makes all fortitude-targeting spells much weaker – can’t boost them as much.

In terms of races, the only affected ones are humans & island obamas. Humans becomes worse as it is temporary – yeah, the duration is not that small but not that long either. Island obamas are also all about burst – their shenanigans give them free 8 seconds of combat time. In 40 second fights that’s 20% extra speed – totally worth it. In 120 second fights that’s just 6.66% – no, thank you. So I hope you enjoy being blue, pointy-eared, head-ablaze or furry.

15. Path of The Damned – Class Re-Review
1. Barbarians – straightforward DD barbarians and barbarian tanks work rather well. Rest are obsolete. One thing you’ll also forget about is frenzy – it just doesn’t last long enough. Brute Force also turns into crap – none but the scrawniest enemies have their fortitude lower than their deflection. And there aren’t many convenient ways of lowering it. Barbaric blow also, ugh, blows – 1 per encounter is not even serious. So, to redo a DD-barb build for the PoTD:

Moon Godlike, Deadfire Archipelago:
M 18
C 3
D 20
P 3
I 16
R 18
(if that’s too radical for you, just redirect some dex into con)

1st level: Barbaric Yell – it’s not as effective but it’s better than frenzy.

2nd level: Weapon style – any offensive you like.

3rd level: Savage Defiance – still makes for a good opener.

4th level: Weapon Focus.

5th level: One Stands Alone – we’re skipping hold the line, btw, as it’s easy to activate even without that.

6th level: Accurate Carnage.

7th level: Thick-skinned – yeah, in this mode it’s pretty crucial.

8th level: Bloody slaughter – 25% of endurance remaining is a big number now so you gain more extra damage out of this.

9th level: Threatening Presence – not the biggest debuff ever but our controlles will appreciate that -12 to will. That’s the main point here.

10th level: Beast Slayer, etc. – just more damage against the kind of foes you hate the most.

11th level: Blooded or Bloodlust or Barbaric Shout– yeah, heart of furries just doesn’t have enough impact, even in the tough fights. And shout, because of its 2 per rest instance, also won’t be that advantageous so it’s my least liked option here. Just take a sturdy passive. If you have a strong supportive team, you may even skip defiance at level 3 – it’s more of an early game convenience option. That way, you’ll have both of the passives.

12th level: Beast Slayer, etc.

2. Chanters – chanters are absolutely in love with this difficulty. They shine the brightest in long, arduous, elongated combats and guess what – every fight is like that here. So with their continuous effects adding and adding up, they bring a lot of benefits to the team. In terms of builds, not much changes. You just build your offensive chanters around deflection (as everyone else) and think less about future potential and more about now. Yes, never skip second level summons on PoTD – you will primarily use summons, after all. Just as a cannon fodder to divert your foes attention. Best summons are the phantom > wisps > ogres. Phantom is good as he stuns your foes and sneak attacks, wisps confuse them and ogres are simply great roadblocks. 500 endurance between them two.

3. Ciphers – ciphers also prosper and thrive on PoTD. They have no per rest limitations so they can spam as much as their focus allows them and, unlike other offensive spells, their charms absolutely scale with difficulty. Yeah, like everything else, they don’t last as long because of the frequent grazes, but you also get much stronger foes to command. Charms are the main point of the ciphers and in my own playthrough my cipher was hardly casting anything else. Maybe a bit of pain block in the midgame. And ringleader is just colossal. Turns all the possible tables. As ciphers are very talent starved and they need dex for their DPS, no changes for them here.

4. Druids – they’re quite cool, it’s just that they shift from being mostly damage dealers to being buffers/healers/debuffers. And even on early levels spiritshift is not worth bothering with. And, well, the usual low-level casters maladies. Still, their Sunbeams remains being a 20 second 1st level blind, their charm beast is incredibly good (as all charms are) and Nature’s Vigor is also decent so they’re not worthless even at level 1. I just don’t like having too much of traditional casters in PoTD party – just 1 will suffice.

5. Fighters – the main news is that the fighter tank is absolutely worthless. Yeah, he’s great at tanking but that’s it. Otherwise, he has zero presence on the battlefield. And as you can’t really tank everything, you’d better opt for something more team-oriented. If you want a fighter, go for the hybrid-dd instead. I also think you eschew the flexibility part of the hybrid – all that toying with guns is fine and dandy but there’s just not enough talents for it. Let’s just focus on clubbing their heads with the cudgels:

DD fighter – Club Mix.

Wild Orlan, Aedyr or Ixamitl Plains:
M 17
C 10
D 18
P 10
I 3
R 20
(can always eschew con for the perception)

1st level: Disciplined Barrage – hardly matters.

2nd level: Rapid Recovery – in prolonged combats, as long as the fighter survives, the gains here are actually quite significant.

3rd level: Defender.

4th level: Wary defender – gotta survive somehow.

5th level: Confident Aim.

6th level: Two Weapon Style.

7th level: Weapon Specialization: Ruffian – the best one for the two-handers. Sabres are incredibly good after patch and clubs are also rather nice – counting all-around, crushing is the weakest resistance of your foes.

8th level: Weapon Focus: Ruffian.

9th level: Armored Grace.

10th level: Weapon Mastery: Ruffian.

11th level: Unbroken.

12th level: Superior Deflection – just to polish up our deflection a bit.

6. Monks – as they provide nigh-endless amounts of long-duration disables (their only limit are wounds and, well, wounds will be limitless against huge swarms of the foes), tanky and intelligent monks feel quite at home at the PoTD. They will probably want to skip the stunning blow – too short to make any real impact, take an extra passive instead. Damage dealers absolutely fall apart, however – they rely too much on their speed and their draining weapons and as those stop to fuel their flames as successfully, they just go out. There is a build to try out but it’s also rather specific, definitely not your average dd stuff.

Planet Escape Tournament build.

Boreal Dwarf, the Living Lands:
M 21
C 9
D 2
P 18
I 10
R 18

1st level: Torment’s reach – I don’t like it on hard and lesser as it’s really difficult to hit enough enemies there to make it worth it, but on PoTD it becomes much easier. And might debuff helps the rest of your team to survive.

2nd level: Weapon and Shield style – we’ll be using sabre. The damage is almost as high as with two-handed weapons so our torments will be painful (and it’s not like the weapon bonus spreads to them) but we’re also more protected that way.

3rd level: Swift Strikes – just to compensate for our lagginess a bit. Believe me, we’ll have enough wounds for these and torments.

4th level: Cautious Attack.

5th level: Turning Wheel – it’s not that useful but it gives options, I guess, and the rest is even worse. Clarity is just too short on PoTD.

6th level: Superior Deflection.

7th level: Duality of Mortal Presence or Rooting Pain – we want both and the order doesn’t matter as much.

8th level: Weapon Focus: Ruffian – sabres are pretty good as we want to have a high basic damage weapon to make our reaches as potent as possible.

9th level: Rooting Pain.

10th level: Bloody Slaughter.

11th level: Crucible of Suffering – don’t see much better alternatives here and, well, the presence of multiple casters in many enemy groups make this more useful.

12th level: Sanctifier etc. You can also opt for the interrupting blows, that’s probably the best and only build for them at the PoTD difficulty, but even then I’m not sure if they’re worth it.

15. Path of The Damned – Class Re-Review cont.
7. Paladins – not much changes for them. Some of the wonkier builds fall apart (like the darkozzi or the bleak walkers) and you probably build kind wayfarer kill stealers as gunners, not pikers. As I’ve said, maneuvering through battlefield is too much of a problem and they need to be at exact spot and exact time. And, btw, the influx of supporting trashmobs boosts the Wayfarers rather nicely – after all, each of those bodies is 25 endurance for the rest of your team. As a gunner paladin requires an extra talent, I guess you skip The Sword and The Shepherd – kills alone should suffice. As tanks, on the other hand, paladins are especially good as the main characters – you can boost their defenses by role-playing and they become incredibly protected against the spells and effects. All while giving the auras & buffs to the rest of your squad.

8. Priest – it’s a bit difficult to kickstart him but he gives immense advantage later on. Allow me to repeat, deflection is the key to survival, accuracy is also constantly lacking and he solves both of those problems for the rest of your squad. And, while he’s desperate low on casts in the midgame, at least his better buffs are rather long-lasting. Not much changes, though, it’s just that instead of extra spells you go for deflection build-up.

9. Ranger – ranger is not that good on this difficulty. Vicious aim falls apart as crits are not an option and fast aim build is still cool but only in the first half of the game. It’s really potent at the start as it reduces your attack time by an immense amount, providing a considerable DPS early. After that, your pet just gets knocked out way too quickly, giving the -10 accuracy and -20% of damage debuff. Which “somewhat” negates all the advantage. And without his pet (I mean, sure, you can just leave it at the door) the ranger is not that great – no +10 accuracy for him for the Stalker’s link. Which was pretty important. No extra tanking capacity for the team either. It’s just that he doesn’t have anything that really scales for the PoTD. I guess the driving flight and the stunning shots coupled with the fast aim do provide a lot of disables, but that leaves him without that much damage. And his accuracy is not that great to keep the tough foes perma-stunned – far from it. Probably the weakest class for this.

10. Rogue – his immense damage dealing capacity is well-appreciated but, at the same time, he’s incredibly squishy. Even with a pike, it’s just too much of a trouble to keep him constantly conscious. You can do it with a moon godlike race and enough priestly attention but I’m not sure if there’s a point to this. It’s much easier to go guns here – yeah, PoTD is totally favoring ranged combat on most of the chars. Go guns and something like a druid – he can almost constantly keep your foes hobbled so sneaks won’t be a problem. Also, forget about all the backstab action or weapon switcheroo – it’s burst damage and, as usual, the increase in the monster’s toughness makes that hardly advantageous. Instead, go for the hearth orlan race and critical based builds – war bow Borresaine gives a long stun on crits, pistol Dulcanal has extra 50% damage on crits. And always ignore those 9 level special attacks – deep wounds are much better in the prolonged fights.

11. Wizard – from all the casters, he suffers the most as he is the most egoistic one. Whereas the druid & priest have tasty buffs to offer to their mates, the wizard is all about self-buffing and taking down his foes in a quick and flashy matter. Which doesn’t work that well here. Sure, he also has some debuffs and disables, some of them being the best in the game, but his vast arsenal is strongly reduced. And, to be honest, the control freak build begins to look much better here. I guess you just redirect some of the dex into constitution (if not all) to remove your fortitude problem and just focus on using the best disables available on every level and nothing but them. Makes him into a quite boring utilitarian guy but he at least he’s really good at that.

Outro: Shameless Self-Promotion
Doing guides like that is a helluva work. If it helped you, you can always thank me by supporting our little project – looks like crap atm but we’re redrawing the ships & adding the crazy fanservise visual novel element (basically, an ancient malicious stargod romancing a ship of cute girls to survive!) so it’s gonna be better, I hope.
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