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 Pillars of Eternity

Pillars of Eternity

Pillars of Eternity Tips and Strategies                                     v1.5

Table of Contents                                                             !-

To jump to a section, just "find in page" the code to the right of a section.
Inline references exclude the starting "!", so remember to add that in yourself.
How to use this guide       !how-

Order of operations         !ord-

Combat mechanics            !com-
    Action times                !com,act-
    Weapon choices              !com,wea-
    Damage modifiers            !com,dam-
    Stacking defenses           !com,sta-
    Engagement                  !com,eng-

Stats                       !sta-

Afflictions                 !aff-

Talents?!                   !tal-

Quickie on classes          !qui-

More on classes             !mor-
    Barbarian                   !mor,bar-
    Chanter                     !mor,cha-
    Cipher                      !mor,cip-
    Druid                       !mor,dru-
    Fighter                     !mor,fig-
    Monk                        !mor,mon-
    Paladin                     !mor,pal-
    Priest                      !mor,pri-
    Ranger                      !mor,ran-
    Rogue                       !mor,rog-
    Wizard                      !mor,wiz-

Troublesome Foes            !tro-

Itemization                 !ite-
    Universal weapons           !ite,uni-

Traps                       !tra-

Appendix                    !app-
    Special thanks              !app,spe-
    Version history             !app,ver-
    All works                   !app,all-


How to use this guide                                                      !how-
This guide is a random grab bag of tips, strategies, and math-heavy analysis.
Pillars of Eternity is too mechanically large of a game for me to want to write
a comprehensive guide, so instead this is just a grab bag of non-obvious
information with a special eye towards Path of the Damned difficulty.  In other
words, this guide is an almanac of sorts; something I myself use as a reference
in case I need to refresh my memory.

If you don't want to get too overwhelmed by math, you should skip the "Order of
Operations" and "Combat Mechanics" sections and jump straight to the "Talents?!"
part of the guide; you can always come back later.

If you have any questions or comments, send me an email to the following address
WITHOUT the underscores (which are just there to prevent automatic parsers from
grabbing my email):

Note that this guide looks best if you used a monospace font like Courier
(Windows) or Menlo (Mac OS X).

Order of operations                                                        !ord-
One thing to note, because it comes up again and again in the game, is how
the game combines different modifiers.

Fairly consistently, all modifiers for a given mechanic are first summed and
then the result is treated as a multiplier for that mechanic.  Even when the
game's text says a modifier is "1.5x damage" it is actually treated internally
as a +.5 adjustment to the damage multiplier.

Some examples:
    1.2x reload speed (Gunner)  =  .20 to reload speed multiplier
    .85x attack speed (dazed)   = -.15 to attack speed multiplier
    1.5x attack speed ("haste") =  .50 to attack speed multiplier
    -40% recovery speed (armor) = -.40 to attack speed multiplier
    1.5x damage (sneak attack)  =  .50 to damage multiplier
    1.5x damage (critical hit)  =  .50 to damage multiplier

So if you had a character equipped with breastplate affected by both dazed and
Deleterious Alacrity of Motion, your final attack speed multiplier would be:

    1 base + -.40 breastplate + -.15 dazed + .5 haste = .95x attack speed

instead of multiplying all those together to get:

    1 base * .6 breastplate * .85 dazed * 1.5 haste = .765x attack speed [no!]

The fact that all modifiers for a mechanic are summed has some important
gameplay ramifications, especially for damage modifiers and sneak attack.  See
section com,dam- for more.


Combat mechanics                                                           !com-
Action times                                                           !com,act-

Most actions (abilities, attacks, and spells) have an action phase and a
recovery phase.  Firearms, crossbows, and arbalests add a reload phase to the
normal attack.  Some abilities like Marked Prey are specially designed to have
no recovery phase, but these are the exception rather than the rule.

The combination of how long your characters spend in attack, recovery, and
sometimes reload phases determines how quickly they can complete a single action
and move on to their next action.  These phases are influenced by different
modifiers.  Note that reload phases only acts as a delay for additional
weapon-based actions (attack or ability); you can switch to casting a spell
without waiting for a reload phase to finish.

The rest of this section gets pretty math-heavy, so the quick summary is:
    1.  Dexterity adjusts all phases of an action (including reload).
    2.  "Attack speed" and recovery modifiers both actually just adjust the
        recovery phase.
    3.  Reload times are adjusted by reload modifiers, as would be expected.

To understand how different phases are timed, you should know that Pillars of
Eternity keeps track of "frames" where by default there are 30 frames per
second.  These frames are independent from your video frame rate; these frames
are used internally just for tracking game logic.  So, if you are attacking with
a weapon that has 30 frames for action and 75 frames for recovery, you will
spend 1 second on the actual action to attack and 2.5 seconds to recover before
you can do anything else.

Dexterity and reload speed modifiers adjust your action times by improving the
rate at which these frames progress in-game.  For example, if you have enough
dexterity for +100% action speed (roughly 43 dexterity) then instead of your
character advancing 30 frames/second, they advance 60 frames/second.  Put
another way, each frame used to take 1/30th of a second, and now they take
1/60th of a second.

More generally, to compute the final time spent in a phase after adjusted for
dexterity, divide the base time by 1 plus your Dexterity modifier.  For example,
if you have a weapon that takes 1 second to attack and 2 seconds to recover, if
you have 15 Dexterity (+15% action speed), the final time spent is:

    1s attack   / 1.15 dex_bonus = 0.87s attack
    2s recovery / 1.15 dex_bonus = 1.74s recovery
                                   2.61s total (net -.39s reduction)

Reload speed modifiers work similarly, except that they are applied _before_
dexterity modifiers have their chance.  So with Gunner (1.2x reload speed), you
would get on a weapon with 4s reload:

    4s reload / 1.2 gunner = 3.33s reload (net -.67s reduction)

Attack speed/recovery speed modifiers are different.  Rather than adjust the
rate at which your characters speed through their frames, they directly adjust
the total number of frames spent recovering.  Note that in this sense "attack
speed" is somewhat misleading since it actually affects recovery.  Reminder!
There are lots of ways to affect attack and recovery speed, and as per section
ord- these are all summed first before being treated as a multiplier.

Anyway, as an example, if you have a weapon with a 1s attack and a 2s recovery
and have plate armor (-50% recovery speed), you will get something like this:

    1s attack (unaffected) =                            1s attack
    2s recover * (1 - sum_of_attack_recovery_speed)
        = 2s recover * (1 - (-.5 plate_armor))
        = 2s recover * 1.5
        = 3s recover =                                  3s recover
                                                        4s total
                                                        (net 1s increase)

Like reload speed adjustments, attack/recovery speed adjustments are done before
Dexterity has a chance to improve the rate your characters speed through frames.

Putting it all together, consider the following scenario:  you have a gun that
has an attack speed of 1s, recovery and reload times of 2s; you have 15 dex,
plate armor, are dazed (x.85 attack speed), have the gunner talent (1.2x reload
speed), and are buffed by chanter's reload speed chant (1.2x ranged attack
speed, 1.2x reload speed).

    First the non-dex stuff:
    1s attack (unaffected) =                            1s attack
    2s recover * (1 - sum_of_attack_recovery_speed)
        = 2s * (1 - (-.15 dazed + -.5 plate + .2 chant))
        = 2s * (1 - (-.45))
        = 2s * 1.45 =                                   2.9s recover
    2s reload / (1 + sum_of_reload)
        = 2s / (1 + (.2 gunner + .2 chant))
        = 2s / 1.4 =                                    1.43s reload

    Then apply the dexterity bonus:
    1s   attack  / 1.15 dex_bonus = 0.87s attack
    2.9s recover / 1.15 dex_bonus = 2.52s recover
    1.43s reload / 1.15 dex_bonus = 1.24s reload
                                    4.63s total time
                                    (net -.37s reduction)

As to what all this means in terms of min-maxing, here are some take aways.

1.  Attack/recovery speed bonuses benefit from increasing returns.  Similarly,
attack/recovery speed penalties benefit from diminishing effects.  In other
words, going from +80% attack speed to +100% attack speed provides a much
greater net reduction as a percentage of your total action time than going from
no attack speed change to a +20% attack speed change, even though both are the
same absolute differences.  Likewise, wearing -50% plate is not that much worse
than -45% mail, whereas -5% priest robes is comparatively much worse than 0%
simple clothing.

2.  As a result, characters who want to be fast should _really_ try to avoid any
armor or attack speed penalties, while characters who are already putting on
heavier armor won't be hurt too much by going all the way to plate armor.  This
also means that effects like Deleterious Alacrity of Motion (1.5x attack speed)
are most effective on characters who are already pretty fast (it may even be
possible to get to 0 recovery time).

3.  The way dexterity and reloading modifiers adjust your rate at going through
frames means that changes to dexterity/reload times are effectively linear
returns.  In other words, each point gives you as much benefit as the preceding
point.  In short, everyone benefits or is hurt equally from dexterity or reload
mods:  e.g. a -5 dexterity debuff is going to mean roughly 15% slower attacks
from everyone, regardless of how fast or slow they were originally going.

4.  Since time spent in reload phase is not penalized by armor, using reloading
weapons reduces the negative impact that armor penalties have on your
characters.  Conversely, this fact also means that reloading weapons mitigate
the positive impact of things like Deleterious Alacrity of Motion.

5.  Because your character _must_ go through the appropriate recovery phase
before moving on to another action, you should ponder giving your casters fast
weapons (or even dual-wielding).  If you equip slow weapons, you run the risk
that when you urgently need a spell your caster is stuck in a long recovery
phase from the previous physical attack.  (I suspect many players may run into
this trap when they try to give Durance an arquebus and find that all of a
sudden he is terrible at trying to cast spells in an emergency.)

6.  Finally, don't make the mistake I initially made and think that dexterity's
action speed bonuses can cancel out an equivalent armor penalty.  It doesn't
work that way.  The latter makes your recovery slower, the former makes your
entire action time faster.

Weapon choices                                                         !com,wea-

Fast melee weapons have 20 attack frames and 40 recovery frames (remember 30
frames is 1 second of normal game time).  All other melee weapons (including
two-handed weapons) have 30 attack frames and 60 recovery frames.  Equipping a
shield allegedly slows down melee weapons a bit, but I don't know what the
numbers are.

Dual-wielding speeds up your attacks by halving the number of recovery frames
for each weapon.  The other effect is that you end up alternating between the
two weapons:  if you have a fast and slow melee weapon A and B, you spend 20
attack frames to attack with A, recover for 20 frames, then attack for 30 frames
with B, then recover for 30 frames, then go back to A.

Ranged weapons are a little more around the map.  They kind of stick to a 30 for
fast, 40 for average, 50 for slow/very slow frame count for attack, and 60, 75,
and 80 for recovery (respectively), but there's some variation around those
numbers (a pistol, for example, actually has 54 attack frames and 76 recovery,
instead of 50/75).  In addition, the reloading weapons have an amount of
reloading frames that don't follow any real pattern:

    Crossbow        101 reload frames
    Arbalest        168 reload frames
    Pistol          154 reload frames
    Blunderbuss     192 reload frames
    Arquebus        194 reload frames

Note that a consequence of these high reload frame numbers, the Gunner talent
can be a _massive_ improvement in your action time.  A 1.2x reload speed
modifier on a pistol using the equation from the previous section will result

    154 reload_frames / (1 + .2 gunner) = 128 reload_frames

which is 26 fewer reload frames, almost a _full second_ off of your entire
action time.

Anyway, when considering weapon choices, if all you care about is damage
throughput, then here's a ranking of the top highest damage rate ranged weapons
(when considering the average DR of enemies):

    Top 5 ranged weapons (with special weapons for reference)
         (Rot Skull [druid])
         (Kakaloth's Minor Blight [wizard])
        War Bow

Note that certain circumstances can change this ordering.
    1.  If you have low or no recovery penalty, then the War Bow catapults past
        all the reloading weapons, though the Gunner talent still helps
        these reloaders edge out War Bow.
    2.  Blunderbuss catapults to the top if you have something like Expose
        Vulnerabilities to negate more than its standard DR penetration.  This
        is because the blunderbuss fires 6 projectiles; any DR adjustment
        effectively has a six-fold effect on its damage output.
    3.  The Blast talent for the Wizard makes the implements much better in
        crowded situations (especially with Penetrating Blast).  The Deadly
        Implement talent can also help, at the cost of health.
    4.  Unfortunately the Hunting Bow doesn't get much love, though with some
        help from DR reduction spells and such it can be a decent performer.

Note that for this list and lists to come the damage ranking also roughly
corresponds to how good the weapon is at focus generation.  The one big
exception is that if you eat Carow Golan (+4 focus per hit) then the blunderbuss
becomes catapults to the top of the previous list.

    Top 5 one-handed melee (with special weapons for reference)
         (Fists [monk] and Shapeshift [druid], order depends on talents)
        Dagger/Rapier/Club (3-way tie)

There's less damage variation amongst one-handed melee weapons than ranged
weapons.  The stiletto stands out because it is both fast and has DR
penetration.  The speed and accuracy bonus for the dagger, rapier, and club
helps out a bit.  The sabre's special trait is doing more damage, which is nice.

    Top 5 two-handed melee (with special weapons for reference)
         (Spirit Lance [wizard])
         (Firebrand [druid])
         (Concelhaut's Quarterstaff [wizard])
        Tie for all other weapons

There's even less variation among two-handed melee weapons.  The Estoc is
special because it features DR penetration instead of reach or dual damage
types which is what other two-handed melee weapons have.

Note that in all of the above lists, the special weapons completely out-trump
normal weapons, even if they can never be upgraded.  The level 1 wizard spell
Concelhaut's Quarterstaff, for example, is twice as good as an Estoc; that
margin can shrink with upgrades/enchants to your Estoc, but will never
completely close.

Damage modifiers                                                       !com,dam-

All attack rolls get translated into a number, with the usual range being
between 1 and 100.  What value you get determines whether you miss (15 or less),
graze at 0.5x damage/effect (16-49), hit at full (50-100), or crit at 1.5x
damage/effect (101 or more).

Importantly, as alluded to in section ord-, these damage modifications are
treated like any other damage modifiers.  That means a graze is not actually
half damage, but rather a -.5 damage modifier (and a crit is a +.5 modifier).

That may not appear to make much of a difference, but it does especially with
sneak attack.

A rogue's sneak attack does 1.5x damage.  This is also a damage modifier,
specifically +.5.  Combined with how the above works, this means that a grazing
sneak attack will actually do normal damage!

    -.5 graze + .5 sneak_attack = 1x damage modifier
    and NOT 1.5x halved for .75x damage modifier

Unfortunately, this also means that a critical sneak attack will do less damage
than expected (2x damage instead of 2.25x damage).

However, this fact means that if you can add damage modifiers to your
characters, you actually diminish the importance of accuracy!  Sure, having a
low enough accuracy where you miss a lot is still going to be bad, but you
basically mitigate the downsides to grazes at the expense of crits.  In truth,
on Path of the Damned difficulty, enemy deflections are so high that crits are
fairly rare anyway, so the mitigation of grazes more than balances out that
loss.  Example talents that add damage modifiers are Two-Handed Weapon Style and
Savage Attack; these are both available to all classes.

The upshot is that characters who can increase their damage modifier, especially
those with access to sneak attack (rogue, priest of Skaen, a hunter pet) can
greatly increase their damage throughput by significantly increasing their graze

Stacking defenses                                                      !com,sta-

All defenses have _increasing_ returns; each additional point is worth more than
the point before.

This is because as a defense rises in number and the attacker's miss range
increases, each additional point taken away from the attacker's hit range is a
greater proportion of the remaining hit range.  In other words, reducing the
attacker's net hit range from 1-100 to 2-100 is a 1% reduction in hit range.
Reducing the attacker's net hit range from 99-100 to 100-100 is a 50% reduction
in hit range.

In case you're having trouble understanding how that is increasing returns,
imagine you have either 97, 98, 99, or 100 deflection against someone with 15

    97 deflection:  only a 3% chance for attacker to graze
    98 deflection:  only a 2% chance for attacker to graze (this is a 50%
        increase in your "effective" health)
    99 deflection:  only a 1% chance for attacker to graze (this is a 100%
        increase in your "effective" health)
    100 deflection: attacker always misses (this is an infinite% improvement
        in your "effective" health!)

Note how with each increasing point, the net effect on your survivability keeps
getting better, until you reach the point where the attacker always misses and
you have infinite survival, whereas the point before you still had finite
survivability.  Most players who have played the game before probably have
experienced this reality with Eder who will most likely be outfitted with (Wary)
Defender, a large shield, and Weapon and Shield specialization, helping his
deflection skyrocket to hardy levels.

Now, with all this information, it's important to note that of all your
defenses, deflection is probably the most important.  There are two main reasons

    1. Due to increasing returns, you get the most benefit from stacking a
       single defense instead of spreading yourself across several defenses.
    2. Despite the presence of enemy priests/druids/ciphers/wizards, the
       most common and deadliest attacks are inevitably deflection-targetting;
       creatures like Crystal Eater spiders or Xaurip Skirmishers have powerful
       on-hit afflictions that must first hit your deflection before they can
       trigger their petrify/paralyze/etc effects.

As such, where possible favor deflection over other defenses; like if you're
considering getting a Ring of Deflection or a Ring of Protection, you should
save your cash for the former.

In an extreme case, if you never plan on wanting a squishy ally being hit by
melee, you could stack on other defenses.  In particular, Fampyrs will always
target their dominate effects on a caster, so it might make sense to stack
nothing but will defense for your valuable casters.

Engagement                                                             !com,eng-

Engagement is a critical part of combat in Pillars of Eternity.  Briefly, most
characters can "engage" one enemy; to engage an enemy, the following must be

    1.  The character has a melee weapon and is either attacking or waiting to
        attack with the weapon.  An "attack" in this case is either the normal
        auto-attack or an ability that uses an attack or full attack.
    2.  The character is at melee range with a foe.
    3.  The character is not at their maximum engagement.  Most
        characters/enemies can only engage one adversary at a time, though
        certain talents/creatures/abilities allow for greater engagement.

If all the above are true, engagement occurs; if the adversary was moving, they
immediately stop moving.  This is also true for your characters, unless you
disable the "character stops moving on engagement" option (I recommend you don't
disable it if you prefer the tactical challenge).  Note that some enemies will
eagerly and repeatedly break engagement to go after more vulnerable characters.

Once engaged, any attempt by the adversary to break engagement triggers a
disengagement attack from your character, which is a normal attack made with a
+5 accuracy bonus.  The disengagement attack can potentially be brutal; it's
possible that it will interrupt the adversary, which will allow the character to
run up and re-engage the adversary.

Note that in many melee combat cases, engagement is mutual; both the character
and their adversary will be engaging each other.

Some effects can immediately (albeit temporarily) break engagement; see section
aff- for details on what afflictions can break engagement.


Stats                                                                      !sta-
    Most important for:  druids and spellcasters focused on damage or healing

    Sure everyone likes dealing damage or healing, but one problem is that each
        point of might has diminishing returns.  Going from 10 might to 11 might
        is 100% to 103% damage/healing, a 3% increase.  But going from 17 might
        to 18 might is 121% to 124% damage/healing or a 2.4% increase.  Because
        of this, many classes are better off putting points into dexterity
        since that stat offers linear returns.  That being said, doing more
        damage will help bypass damage reduction better than doing the same
        amount of damage faster, so the preference for dexterity is a weak one.
    That being said, when it comes to spells (which are finite) instead of
        attacks (which are almost infinite), _efficiency_ is more important than
        speed, in which case might shines.  Druids in particular benefit from
        might because virtually everything they do is based in damage or

    Most important for:  monk, tanks
    Can be dumped

    Constitution is definitely important if you plan on taking damage.  If you
        don't, like a caster who sits at a distance, then you can safely ignore
        constitution.  I personally don't have a second's thought about taking
        a couple of points from constitution to put elsewhere.

    Most important for:  everyone

    Dexterity universally benefits everyone with linear returns.  Each point is
        a further 3% increase in your action speed.  Virtually everything
        you do is improved by a higher action speed.  In fact, point-for-point
        a 3% faster character is probably better than a character who merely
        does 3% more for damage and healing.  So if you're trying to decide
        between a point in might or dexterity, choose dexterity.

    Most important for:  offensive characters

    Perception used to be a lame stat, but now that it bestows an accuracy
        bonus/penalty, it is almost universally useful.  I would say that on
        any class that needs to regularly hit the enemy, perception is as good
        as dexterity.  On the other hand, characters focused more on party
        buffs and defense will benefit little.
    While perception does not offer linear returns like dexterity, high
        perception will offer increasing chance for critical hits, which is
        particularly powerful for duration-based effects.

    Most important for:  casters, barbarians
    Can be dumped by tanks

    Casters definitely benefit here; chanters, ciphers, druids, priests, and
        wizards really need all the area of effect and duration they can get.
        But other characters also have core abilities that rely on duration or
        area.  For example, a monk's Torment's Reach or Swift Strikes benefit
        from intellect.  However, most notable is the barbarian's Carnage
        which gets a larger area of effect from intellect.
    Fighters and other characters who plan on mostly just soaking up damage
        can safely dump this stat. 

    Most important for:  tanks (kinda)
    Can be dumped

    Kind of a loser stat.  You get deflection and you are also slightly harder
        to interrupt.  For tanks who are expected to get a lot of unwanted
        attention, both can be a useful benefit.


Afflictions                                                                !aff-
Afflictions can be a bit confusing, since many of them are only slightly
different from each other.  I'll list them here and also provide "net" effects
which include the effects of stat reductions.  Note that enemies cannot be
reduced past 0 in a stat, so all these "net" effects are "up to"; if an enemy
doesn't have enough of a stat to be lowered, they'll get less of an effect.

Blinded [allows sneak attack] (breaks engagement)
    raw:  -25 accuracy, -20 deflection/reflex, -4 perception, -2 move
    net:  -29 accuracy, -20 deflection, -28 reflex, -12 interrupt, -2 move

Charmed (breaks engagement)
    raw:  alliance flipped, -25 accuracy, -25 defenses, -.25 attack speed
    net:  (same)

Confused (breaks engagement)
    raw:  every 6 seconds, one of:  stand around, run away, attack ally, behave
    net:  (same)
    * Despite the in-game tooltip, I've never actually seen an enemy "behave
    normally" i.e. attack me.

    raw:  -10 accuracy, -2 dexterity/intellect/perception, -.15 attack speed
    net:  -12 accuracy, -6% action speed, -12% ability area, -10% ability
        duration, -6 interrupt, -8 reflex, -4 will, -.15 attack speed

Dominated (breaks engagement)
    raw:  alliance flipped
    net:  (same)

Flanked [allows sneak attack]
    raw:  -10 deflection
    net:  (same)
    raw:  -10 accuracy, -2 dexterity/resolve
    net:  -10 accuracy, -6% action speed, -6 concentration, -4 reflex, -4 will,
        -2 deflection
    (overridden by terrified)

Hobbled [allows sneak attack]
    raw:  -20 reflex, -1.5 move speed, -2 dexterity
    net:  -26 reflex, -6% action speed, -1.5 move speed

Paralyzed [allows sneak attack] (breaks engagement)
    raw:  no actions, -40 deflection/reflex, dexterity set to 0
    net:  no actions, -40 deflection/reflex, additional -2 reflex per dexterity

Petrified [allows sneak attack] (breaks engagement)
    raw:  no actions, -40 deflection/reflex, dexterity set to 0, x2 damage
    net:  no actions, -40 deflection/reflex, additional -2 reflex per dexterity
        lost, x2 damage taken

Prone [allows sneak attack] (breaks engagement)
    raw:  no actions, waste ~1 second to stand back up at end of effect,
        -10 deflection/reflex, -2 dexterity
    net:  no actions, waste ~1 second to stand back up at end of effect,
        -10 deflection, -14 reflex

    raw:  -20 fortitude/will, -1 all stats
    net:  -3% damage/healing, -3% action speed, -3% endurance/health,
        -3 interrupt, -1 accuracy, -6% ability area of effect, -5% ability
        duration, -3 concentration, -24 fortitude, -4 reflex, -24 will,
        -1 deflection

Stuck [allows sneak attack]
    raw:  can't move, -5 accuracy, -20 deflection/reflex, -2 dexterity
    net:  can't move, -5 accuracy, -20 deflection, -24 reflect, -6% action speed

Stunned [allows sneak attack] (breaks engagement)
    raw:  no actions, -30 deflection/reflex, -4 dexterity/intellect/perception
    net:  no actions, -30 deflection, -42 reflex, -8 will

    raw:  -20 accuracy, -4 dexterity/resolve
    net:  -20 accuracy, -12% action speed, -12 concentration, -8 reflex, -8 will

    (overrides frightened)

Weakened [allows sneak attack]
    raw:  -20 fortitude/will, -2 might/constitution, -2 move speed
    net:  -28 fortitude, -20 will, -6% damage/healing, -6% health/endurance,
        -2 move speed

Some pivot tables follow. If you want to:

...sneak attack, use:
    blinded, flanked, hobbled, paralyzed, petrified, prone, stuck, stunned,

...reduce deflection, use:
    [best] blinded, charmed*, flanked, paralyzed, petrified, prone, stuck,
    [misc] dazed, frightened, sickened, terrified

...reduce fortitude, use:
    charmed*, sickened, weakened

...reduce reflex, use:
    [best] blinded, charmed*, hobbled, paralyzed, petrified, prone, stuck,
    [misc] dazed, frightened, sickened, terrified

...reduce will, use:
    [best] charmed*, sickened, weakened
    [misc] dazed, frightened, terrified

...break engagement, use:
    blinded, charmed, confused, dominated, paralyzed, petrified, prone, stunned

...slow the enemy's movement, use:
    [best] blinded, weakened
    [misc] hobbled

...reduce enemy accuracy, use:
    [best] blinded, charmed*, dazed, frightened, terrified
    [misc] stuck

* while charmed can be useful here, after one attack against a charmed enemy,
    they will revert back to normal, so it is only good for one attack.

As you can see, fortitude is the hardest defense to lower (made worse by the
fact that enemies tend to have a high fortitude across the board).  Reflex, by
contrast, is the easiest.  Not only are there many ways to do so, but all these
effects in aggregate are very common, especially blinded and hobbled.


Talents?!                                                                  !tal-
Basically just going to cover some talents of particular note.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Apprentice's Sneak Attack
    Probably the best cross-class talent in any reasonable mixed party.  It
        should be reasonably easy to apply sneak attack-enabling debuff,
        at which point this is a straight-up passive 15% damage bonus for your

Veteran's Recovery
    Great for non-fighters who want to take on a tanking role.  Monks in
        particular will like this.  Chanters who take on a more rough-and-tumble
        role will also like this on top of their chant-based regeneration.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Weapon Focus: [whatever]
    Basically everyone other than maybe a wizard should get this.  Especially on
        Path of the Damned you need all the accuracy you can get away with.
    Note that as of 2.0/White March, there are weapons that have a "universal"
        weapon type.  This includes all weapons summoned from spells and all
        soulbound weapons.  Weapons that are "universal" will benefit from _any_
        Weapon Focus talent, so long as you at least have one (though multiples
        do not stack).  So if you're planning on using a summoned weapon a lot
        or a particular soulbound weapon, don't fret it and choose a Weapon
        Focus that will satisfy your normal usage.

Interrupting Blows
    Interrupt benefits from increasing returns.  So don't pick up this
        talent if the character making use of this has low perception.  However,
        on a characer with high perception, this can make interrupts an almost
        coin-flip proposition.
    This may actually be good on a caster, someone who is going to hit a bunch
        of enemies at once, repeatedly.  That can mean many more chances to
        interrupt then, say, a dual-wielding melee attacker.

Penetrating Shot
    What might not be obvious is that the ranged DR bypass also applies to
        spell-like abilities (at the cost of recovery time).  It might not
        actually be worth the extra -20% penalty to recovery time for an extra 5
        damage for most spells, but for spells that hit repeatedly for small
        amounts (like beam spells or area of effect hazards) this can
        dramatically boost a spell's net damage.
    On Path of the Damned you might seriously want to consider this for everyone
        who uses ranged attacks regularly, as virtually every enemy appears to
        have some kind of DR.  Slower weapons will benefit less since they
        already do so much damage that getting an extra 5 may not be worth the
        -20% penalty to recovery time.
    The upshot is that you have to make sure the extra 5 damage per attack
        exceeds the 20% increased recovery speed (this will generally be true
        for most cases).

Dangerous Implement
    The extra 25% will make implements better than non-Gunner reloading weapons,
        at the cost of health per strike.  Make sure you only activate this when
        your health is high and only get this on characters who don't plan on
        getting hit much.
    If you do want the extra damage, don't be too worried about the health loss.
        Treat health as another resource; in a properly managed party, your
        non-melee characters will only ever rarely take enemy damage so this
        lets you arbitrage that "unused" health into extra damage.

    A 1.2x reload speed can be a significant increase in your attack rate with
        reloading weapons.  Anyone planning on using reloading weapons regularly
        should get this.

Beast Slayer/Sanctifier
    Of all the talents that target specific enemy types, these two are the most
        useful.  Beasts cover a wide array of enemies, including the problematic
        Elder Lion, Elder Wolf, drakes and dragons of all sorts, and the Crystal
        Eater spider.
    Vessels cover similarly problematic enemies:  Dargul, Adra Animat, Death
        Guard, and Fampyr.
    The Ghost Hunter talent may appear to be useful since spirits of all sorts
        are the bane of your early game (Phantom, Spectre, Shade, and Cean Gwla
        as well as flame blights of various kinds), but eventually by mid-level
        you should have no problem dealing with these guys.  By contrast, even
        higher level parties will struggle with Crystal Eater spiders, dragons,
        Fampyrs, and swarms of Darguls.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Cautious Attack
    Useful to give anyone a deflection boost since there are only so many
        deflection items to go around.

Bear's Fortitude/Snake's Reflexes/Bull's Will
    Because of the importance of stacking deflection (see section com,imp-), if
        you're thinking about one of these, make sure you get Superior
        Deflection first, and then maybe one of the talents that gives
        you defense against specific types of attacks (which can benefit
        deflection) before you get one of these.

Hold the Line
    While fighters with Defender are the best tanks, barbarians, monks,
        paladins, and chanters make suitable secondary tanks with this talent.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Fast Runner
    The staple of any attempt at a solo run (especially triple crown solo, I can
        tell you that from personal experience).  Even outside of a solo run,
        this is useful for any character who needs to be mobile for optimal

Fast Switch
    Good for a wizard juggling grimoires.  Even better if you want to juggle
        slow weapons:  if you switch weapons right after an attack phase and
        before the recovery phase kicks in (indicated by a full yellow bar in
        the character's combat tooltip) your character uses the weapon switch
        delay instead of the recovery frames.
    Ordinarily this is not too great; the weapon switch delay is 2 seconds by
        default and unmodified by attack/recovery speed adjustments.  With Fast
        Switch this delay shrinks to .5s, a fraction of normal recovery phases.
        You could fire with a reloading weapon, switch to a second and fire
        again with only a .5s pause in-between instead of a full recovery and
        reload phase.
    This tactic works best with an Island Aumaua since they have an extra weapon
        set.  You could have two reloading weapons to start off a fight with and
        then a third melee or ranged weapon to settle on for the rest of the
        fight.  In some cases, this rapid switch at the start of a fight can be
        enough to kill off a weaker foe.
    Ciphers also benefit disproportionately from doing this kind of trick; this
        burst of damage can give them a decisive surge in focus.
    Note that as of White March there is an item that can further reduce your
        weapon switch time to 0s, allowing micromanagers to remove any recovery
        time from a character.

Arms Bearer
    Gives you an extra weapon set.  Generally not useful except when coupled
        with Fast Switch to quickly plow through reloading weapons at the start
        of a fight.

Scion of Flame/Secrets of Rime/Spirit of Decay/Heart of the Storm
    These all function like their Icewind Dale II equivalents, which give you
        resistance to the element type and a respective 20% damage bonus.  You
        don't need to have a lot of sources of the damage type to benefit, just
        at least one you use a lot.  So a wizard who uses Chill Fog a lot will
        love Secrets of Rime, even if they have a bunch of other non-freeze
        spells they also use.
    Like in Icewind Dale II, these also boost random other sources of damage
        your character does, like the Lash enchantments.

Quickie on classes                                                         !qui-
The most important thing to note here is that aside from every other difference,
character classes are tiered into different levels of starting accuracy and
deflection (health and endurance, too, but that's less important for now).

Why is this a big deal?  Well, first of all, most ways to increase accuracy and
deflection are equally available to _all_ characters.  In addition, every time
you level up, you always gain 3 accuracy _and_ deflection, so the net effect of
a level is that you just gain parity with other characters at that level.

That means that any character that possesses an innately higher starting
accuracy or deflection (or possesses character-specific ways to help boost them
innately) has a powerful advantage.

What's also interesting about how the classes are designed is that classes
themselves do not necessarily fall into convenient tiers of accuracy and
deflection based on their traditional RPG role; in fact, there's a bit of a mix
across tiers, yielding some interesting results (notably for the Chanter).

Refer to the below reference table:

    (Tier:)                 Bad!    Low     Med     High    Wow!
    Starting Accuracy               20      25      30      35
    Starting Deflection     10      15      20      25      30

    Class [see note]        Accuracy    Deflection      Spell accuracy*
    Barbarian               Med         Low
    Chanter [1]             Med         High            Med
    Cipher [2]              Med         Med             High/Wow!
    Druid [3]               Low         Med             High
    Fighter                 High        Wow!
    Monk                    High        High
    Paladin                 Med         High
    Priest                  Low         Low             High
    Ranger                  High        Med
    Rogue  [4]              High        Low
    Wizard [5]              Low         Bad!            High

    * Spell accuracy is what you would generally experience from making heavy
    use of a character's spell-like abilities (which generally feature some sort
    of innate accuracy bonus).  There will sometimes be variation amongst
    spell-likes, but this is what you should generally expect.

Of note is that the low accuracy caster classes _generally_ feature an innate
+10 accuracy bonus on all their spells to bring their spell accuracy up to par
with a fighter (High accuracy); there are some exceptions (like level 2 wizard
spell Binding Web, which has no accuracy bonus and is thus a Low accuracy
spell).  In this way the game is able to make these classes good at spells but
underwhelming at traditional fighting.

[1] Chanters are basically the bard class of Pillars of Eternity, except they're
actually better than standard implementations of bard classes.  They have
comparable accuracy to other classes expected to melee (Barbarian, Paladin,
possibly Cipher), a high deflection (on par with an actual tank:  the fighter),
and best of all their main ability (chanting) is completely disconnected from
attack/recovery frames.  So you could just load up on the heaviest armor and
basically be a full-on tank for everyone else.  Notably, even though their
invocations are spell-like, none of them feature any innate accuracy bonuses, so
their net spell accuracy will not be on-par with actual spell casters.

[2] Ciphers are interesting because they are very caster-like but have a higher
standard accuracy than actual casters.  Unlike chanters (who also have a decent
base accuracy), ciphers also still feature innate accuracy bonuses to their
spell-like powers, a fact that bumps them up to higher spell accuracy.  But
unlike other casters whose innate spell accuracy bonuses serve to just bump them
up to Fighter-level, Ciphers actually possess a collection of powers that gives
them a full +10 bonus on top of their already higher standard accuracy, which
gives them a selection of the most accurate spell-like abilities in the game.

[3] Druids have a higher deflection than would be expected for a class that
eventually spends all their time casting spells, but this works with the fact
that shapeshfiting involves getting up close and personal.

[4] With high accuracy and low deflection, Rogues are a real glass cannon.  Even
a wizard has more survivability thanks to spells.  In fact, because a rogue is
probably going to give up a shield in favor of dual-wielding or wielding a
two-handed weapon, it makes it even _more_ likely that your deflection will be
at stunningly low levels, making you ripe for enemy critical attacks
(especially on Path of the Damned).  At least a wizard can equip a superb small
shield for +14 deflection and still stay back to cast spells at full power.

[5] Wizards have uniquely bad deflection; they are literally on a tier of their
own.  They sort of make up for this by being the only caster class with many
self-buffs devoted to surviability.

Less important for our purposes, classes also fall into tiers of endurance and

    (Tier:)                 Low         Med         High
    Endurance +per level    36 +12x     42 +14x     48 +16x
    Health multiplier       x4          x5          x6

    Class                   Endurance   Health
    Barbarian               High        High
    Chanter                 Low         Low
    Cipher                  Low         Low
    Druid                   Low         Low
    Fighter                 Med         Med
    Monk                    Med         High
    Paladin                 Med         Med
    Priest                  Low         Low
    Ranger                  Low         Med
    Rogue                   Low         Low
    Wizard                  Low         Low

Note that health doesn't really matter for most battles, it merely acts as a
constraint over multiple fights.  Characters with low health multipliers will
not be able to repeatedly take much damage before needing to rest (or risk
maiming/death).  Notably, the monk and ranger are in a health multiplier tier
higher than their endurance tier, which suggests they are expected to take more
damage than other classes in their endurance tier.

More on classes                                                            !mor-
Barbarian                                                              !mor,bar-

Personally I find the barbarian a bit underwhelming.  Carnage can be a decent
ability, but its never going to be a wow amount of extra damage.  It also
requires a lot of advantageous positioning or decent intellect.

Many things about the barbarian, even Carnage, suffers disproportionately in
the step up to Path of the Damned.  Carnage suffers because enemies already have
huge deflection so having extra attacks at a -10 penalty means your attacks are
very rarely ever going to connect.  Frenzy's masking of health information
becomes riskier.  Brute Force is less helpful.  Bloodlust is less likely to
trigger since the tougher foes mean the barbarian is less likely to be the
finisher of two foes early on. Etc, etc, etc.

That being said, the barbarian has a truly astronomical amount of endurance and
health, being literally on a tier on its own.  If you want to take a barbarian
out for a spin, I recommend at least using dual-wielding or single-wielding:
if you're going to have a really inaccurate area of effect attack, you can at
least give yourself a lot of chances at it or give yourself a higher accuracy

Chanter                                                                !mor,cha-

As mentioned in the quickie guide, a chanter is a very interesting class.  In
many other RPG implementations of a bard, you end up with a class who is
generally kind of mediocre at everything.  Notably, in Advanced Dungeons &
Dragons (via Baldur's Gate I and Icewind Dale I), bards had the "benefit" of
being able to equip chainmail armor and be proficient with any weapon, as if
that was good enough to make them viable for combat.  Spoiler alert:  it wasn't.
(Fortunately, the existence of wands made bards useful until they could cast
more spells, i.e. became more wizard-like.)

The chanter in Pillars is much more capable, and to re-cap the quickie guide
it's due to two things:
    1.  An accuracy and deflection on par with characters actually expected to
        go toe-to-toe.
    2.  The chant ability being completely unaffected by attack/recovery speed

For point 2, while a chanter's health/endurance are caster-ter (36 + 12/level,
x4 health), being able to equip the heaviest of armors with little impact on the
chanter's main ability helps mitigate this squishines.  Not to mention that the
chanter has an upgradeable talent that adds a fighter-like regeneration to all
that chanting (for the entire party, to boot).

Also, the chanter lacks many class-specific talents.  This sounds like a
weakness, but is actually a strength because this means that much of the
chanter's power comes built-in.  This therefore leaves you a lot of flexibility
to customize your chanter based on the common pool of talents.

For example, if you want your chanter to tank you can pick up Weapon and Shield
Style, Cautious Attack, and Superior Deflection and rack up a pretty high
deflection.  Or if you want to do some burst damage you can get Arms Bearer,
Fast Switch, and Gunner and start off every fight with a blitzkrieg of

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
The problem with high-level chanters

Chanters are great versatile additions to a party, but suffer from a curious
problem:  the more powerful your party, the less impact a chanter has.  This is
because higher-level chants take longer to sing and higher-level invocations
take more sung chants to use.  Both of these implies that you need a long fight
to really take advantage of the chanter's high-level stuff.  This is in stark
contrast to the _actual_ trend of combat with a high-level party, which is
decided fairly quickly.

As such, chanters actually get less effective with each additional level after a
certain point.  This is not to say that they aren't still useful, it's just that
each additional level doesn't make them as more useful as that same level for
another class.  This problem is exacerbated in the White March, where level 4
chants/invocations are available, but most fights will end before you can get
mileage out of these.  There are a few notable exceptions (such as the fight
against the Alpine Dragon and Concelhaut), but those are indeed exceptions not
the rule.

Pray that Obsidian does something to address this, as this is a fairly uniquely
chanter-specific problem.  Until then, you generally have to decide whether you
want to use high-level chants or high-level invocations; you probably won't be
able to have both in a normal fight.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A word on chants

As you go about creating your own custom chant sequences, one thing you need
to keep in mind is that while chants are nice, invocations are good.  Really
good.  Like, even level 1 invocations in the late game can be tide-turning-ly
good.  And so while loading up a chant with level 3 chants might be nice, it'll
mean that it'll take a _very_ long time to build up enough chants to use an

What I'm saying is you really should mix in some level 1 chants.  It'll lower
the average time of each chant in your sequence, and thanks to the linger effect
of each higher-level chant, you won't really miss that much.  And you'll notice
the difference when you're actually able to use an invocation before the battle
is completely over.

Note that as of 2.0/White March, you can no longer "cheese" the chant system by
forcefully changing the songs shortly after triggering the first song's buff;
selecting a chant now forces a lengthy cooldown on all your chants.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Chant/invocation highlights

But Reny Daret's Ghost, He Would Not Rest (level 1 invocation)
    A really solid early-mid game summon.  This phantom can stun with each hit
        and gets sneak attack bonuses, to boot.  Even late game you can send in
        a phantom to some otherwise occupied foe and basically stun-lock them.

White Worms Writhed in the Bellies of the Dead (level 1 invocation)
    Did you ever play Diablo II?  If so, do you remember what Corpse Explosion
        was like?  Because this is Corpse Explosion for Pillars of Eternity.
    The targetting is janky and the description unclear, but basically what
        happens is that any corpse in the area of effect _explodes_ in a base
        1.25m area of effect, doing modest crush damage to any foe nearby.
        Might not sound great, but by the time you have 3 chants down, you could
        have a lot of corpses around.  Even if the corpses belonged to easy
        Xaurips, they'll still explode for full damage.  You can instantly end
        fights by exploding a bunch of corpses for numerous blasts of ~25 crush
    The best part is that unlike Diablo II's Corpse Explosion, the corpses are
        still useable for successive invocations, so for long-running fights
        (or if you keep pulling enemies back to the same pile), you can have a
        snowball effect where each successive invocation does dramatically more
    Do note that some enemies do not leave corpses behind, like spirits or

Sure-Handed Ila Knocked Her Arrows With Speed (level 2 chant)
    It's been nerfed to only provide a 1.2x reload bonus, but this is still A+
        for any party that likes ranged weapons, especially reloading ones.

The Dragon Thrashed, the Dragon Wailed (level 3 chant)
    Holy flurcking schmidt that's a lot of damage (60 burn _and_ slash)!  Even
        on Path of the Damned just one sing of this chant is enough to clear out
        trash mobs.  For all other fights, this will rapidly accelerate the
        killing process.
    Note that you can kind of "cheat" this by chanting it, immediately switching
        to another chant, performing an attack or action to "reset" to the new
        song, then switch back and perform an attack or action to "reset" again
        to instantly trigger another use of this chant.  It won't help with
        increasing your current chant count, but it will help make sure every
        enemy in sight is fully afflicted by this chant.

All level 4 chants [White March only]
    ...suffer from the same problem.  Yes, they're _good_ but they take a long
        time to sing and aren't _that_ much better than level 3 chants.  At this
        point you're so powerful that most fights are over very quickly, so by
        mixing in level 4 chants you're actually significantly reducing the
        likelihood of ever using invocations.

All level 3/4 invocations
    ...are basically awesome.  But they kind of have to be since you need a
        whopping 5 chants to get there (which will be more than the length of
        many trash fights by this level).

Cipher                                                                 !mor,cip-

The cipher is definitely one of the most interesting classes in the game, both
in terms of flavor and mechanics.  Here I'll focus on the mechanics.

Basically every other caster is "rest-limited."  Other casters may have some per
encounter abilities, but the majority of their powers are limited to per rest,
so you have to strategically mete out your spells.  (Note that this is not
strictly true for chanters, but ther invocations are too infrequent to count.)

By contrast, the cipher is "rate-limited."  The cipher has infinite use of their
abilities per rest.  The constraint on casting is instead based on what their
focus generation rate permits, focus being their resource for using powers.

This reliance on focus does have the interesting effect where without careful
consideration cipher powers are invariably obsoleted.  "True" casters get more
spells per rest, translating into more spells per fight.  But because a cipher
is rate-limited, the cipher will only cast a few powers in a given fight.  As
such, if you naively select powers, each new level-up will render more powers
obsolete since you only have time to use the "best" few in any given fight.
Strategies to deal with this will follow in a sub-section below.

Interestingly, whereas other casters are independent from weapons, a cipher's
focus generation is intimately tied with weapon usage:  25% of damage dealt is
turned into focus.  Therefore, being able to choose the right weapons is an
important skill to have with ciphers.

Melee weapons are by far the best choice for focus generation, having both fast
attacks and high damage throughput.  In particular, the stiletto, estoc, and
sabre are particularly good choices.  The stiletto is good due to a combination
of high speed and DR penetration.  The estoc combines a two-handed weapon's
lumbering damage with DR penetaration.  And the sabre features high base

When using one-handed melee weapons, dual-wielding is best.  However, if you
need extra survivability, you can still get decent focus while wielding a small
shield.  On Path of the Damned you may even consider forgoing the shield in
favor of the accuracy bonus of just wielding a single one-handed weapon:  due to
rounding, grazes generate insignificant amounts of focus.

Keep in mind though that ciphers are going to be squishy at melee.  While a
cipher has both medium-tier deflection and accuracy, you can't put heavy armor
on a cipher without jeopardizing their ability usage.  A high resolve may help
avoid interruptions, but the upshot is that especially on Path of the Damned a
cipher has difficulty going toe-to-toe with foes.

Therefore ranged weapons can be a good choice; in return for lower focus
generation you get increased safety.  Reloading weapons are on average the best
but can net you very "bursty" focus generation.  This is because their
high-damage hits can generate a lot of focus, but their low accuracy and slow
attack rates can mean dry spells due to a misses and grazes back-to-back.
If you prefer consistency in your focus generation, war bows are the best

Apart from weapons, you should consider dropping cash for drugs.  Blacsonn gives
you a +.2 focus gain multiplier bonus, which stacks with Draining Whip's
+.33 bonus.  This significantly increases your focus generation with all cipher

Carow Golan gives you 4 focus per hit, which benefits ciphers using fast
weapons, dual-wielding setups, or blunderbusses.  Especially the blunderbuss:
each of the 6 projectiles triggers the 4 focus, which can result in a surge of
focus with each attack.  The "withdrawal" effects of Carow Golan can be severe,
but it's definitely worth even the -10 Might penalty.

A steady supply of Blacsonn and Carow Galon can first be found at either the
Scrivener's Dormitory or if you get on House Doemenel's good side.  Be prepared
to drop thousands of gold per restock.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Talents of particular note

Basically every cipher should have Draining Whip (+.33 to focus gain multiplier)
and Biting Whip (+.2 to soul whip's damage multiplier).  Both help your cipher
gain focus, albeit Biting Whip does so by making your cipher do more damage.

Remember, focus gain bonuses are added together before being multiplied against
the base 25% rate.  So if you have Draining Whip and are under the effects of
Blacsonn, your focus generation would be:

    25% base * (1 + .33 draining_whip + .2 blacsonn)
    = 25% base * 1.53
    = 38.25% of weapon damage

The Greater Focus talent is not too useful; only when you're doing a Carow Golan
+ blunderbuss frenzy will you skirt close to your cipher's maximum focus.
However, the talent does bump up your starting focus but only by 2-3 (depending
on rounding).

Apart from that, consider accuracy boosting talents to help your cipher land
consistent hits for better focus generation:  choose a Weapon Focus ASAP and
consider something like Marksman.  Improvements to attack rate also help, so
Gunner or Two-Weapon Style are good choices depending on your weapons of choice.

Moreover, for firearm/crossbow-based ciphers you should consider making the
expensive investment of getting both Fast Switch and Arms Bearer to quickly
cycle through weapons at the start of a fight to generate a lot of up-front

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Picking powers

Your cipher will typically have only 3 powers per level, so you must be very
deliberate in your choices.  Of note, make sure you are diversifying what
defenses your powers attack.

For example, if you only choose reflex-targeting powers you will have a blind
spot against reflex-resistant enemies.  In particular, on Path of the Damned,
many enemies have reliably high fortitude defenses, so you should refrain from
piling on too many fortitude-attacking powers.

Also as mentioned before, rate-limited casting poses the risk that your cipher
will essentially obsolete their powers with each new level.  This
defense-targeting diversification can help make sure you have a full set of
useful powers.

But to further prevent power-obsoletion, try selecting situationally useful
powers.  However fun it may be to get every damage power, that doesn't do
you any good if you're not using 90% of them.  Instead, think of your power
selection as trying to find the rock, paper, scissors for all sorts of different
situations.  You can still have an ability or two that you just want to spam
over and over, but at least you'll have your bases covered.

Note that there's nothing stopping you from picking a power from a lower level,
so it's not inconceivable to bypass higher-level power for lower level ones,
especially when choosing an area of needed diversity (or if you just need
cheaper powers).

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Power highlights

Antipathetic Field (level 1)
    The in-game description for this power is confusing and misleading.  Here's
        how it actually works:  you choose an enemy to be an anchor.  You then
        project a beam that inflicts corrode damage per second for 6 seconds to
        everyone between you and the anchor, including any allies.  In addition,
        you gain a buff for 12 seconds that increases all beam damage you deal
        by 20% which happens to also improve this power's beam.  Also, in case
        it isn't clear, this 12 second buff duration is modified by Intellect,
        whereas the beam is not; so the beam buff could far outlast the beam
    Anyway, if you can get master the party-unfriendly targetting, this power is
        _lethal_.  You'll even annihilate foes on Path of the Damned.  Moreover,
        the beam damage buff means you can combo this into Ectopsychic Echo
        (level 3 power), Ray of Fire (level 2 scroll), or even both for
        incredible damage.
    Also noteworthy:  for a beam, this power has super long range, so you can
        sweep an entire battlefield with proper positioning.

Mental Binding (level 2)
    This is a powerful paralyze effect, with an area of effect stuck to boot.
        Unfortunately in White March/2.0 this got nerfed a bit, so it's no
        longer a fast spell and the paralyze duration is shorter, but it's
        still very powerful, probably the most cost-effective and versatile
        power a cipher can pick.

Psychovampiric Shield (level 2)
    Melee ciphers will enjoy the +10 deflection while simultaneously
        reducing the enemy's by up to 10.  The enemy is easier to interrupt, to
        boot.  All that might be pretty modest on its own, though.
    More importantly, -10 resolve translates into up to -20 will, which gives
        this power a niche late-game use for lowering enemy will defenses.
        When you really need to land a paralyze or confuse, you can cheaply use
        this on top of standard will-reducing afflictions like weakened or

Recall Agony (level 2)
    Yet-another-confusing-description-for-a-power.  All it really does is debuff
        an enemy to increase all damage taken by 30%.  Generally fights against
        a single foe are short enough that you're better off with something more
        direct, though big enemies might be good candidates for this.

Ectopsychic Echo (level 3)
    Another semi-confusing description; this power projects a beam from you to
        an anchor, this time an ally.  The resultant beam inflicts crush damage
        every second for 10 seconds on foes only.
    This power is devastating on its own, but it can be apocalyptic if you
        precede it with an Antipathetic Field for the +20% beam damage buff.
        As an example, a cipher with a buffed Ectopyschic Echo can pretty much
        take care of the final boss fight on their own, even at modest levels.
    Note that your anchor must be a _true_ ally.  Confused, charmed, and
        dominated enemies don't count even though their targetting circles turn
        friendly.  Summons do count as allies, so if you're having positioning
        problems you can just summon a creature behind enemy lines.

Pain Block (level 4)
    This power won't fit well into every cipher playstyle; it basically lets
        your cipher fill an emergency assist role.  The damage reduction bonus
        is significant, even on Path of the Damned.  The healing is modest but
        in combation with said DR bonus buys your ally massive breathing room.
        Even ranger pets can become immovable objects with the help of Pain

Wild Leech (level 4)
    Useful for every cipher but best picked up for a cipher who can make use of
        any stat bonus.  In other words, a ranged cipher may not benefit much
        from constitution or resolve, but a melee cipher could use the extra
        health and deflection those provide.
    If by luck you drain an undesirable stat, you still remove that same stat
        from the enemy.  This at the very least means up to -20 to one of
        their defenses along with varying additional effects.  For example, -10
        Resolve will also make the enemy vulnerable to interrupt and give -10
    Note that if the foe you Wild Leeched dies, your Wild Leech buff immediately
        wears off.  So prefer Wild Leeching enemies who are going to be around
        for a bit.
    This power features a +10 innate accuracy bonus; combined with the cipher's
        medium-tier accuracy, this power is in the club of most-accurate spells.

Borrowed Instinct (level 5)
    May obviate the need for Wild Leech altogether.  This power drains a
        guaranteed bunch of enemy stats (-8 Intellect/Perception) and guarantees
        a sweet set of +20 to accuracy and defense bonuses.  For more power, you
        could always have both Wild Leech and this going at the same time for a
        superhuman cipher.  Unlike Wild Leech, Borrowed Instinct will still buff
        your cipher even if the enemy you drained dies, so feel free to target a
        weak foe with this power.
    The accuracy buff provided by Borrowed Instinct appears to use a similar
        effect to one provided by the priest's level 4 Devotions for the
        Faithful.  This means that the effects do not stack, though you get the
        other defense bonuses.

Detonate (level 5)
    The power's description is a little confusing. What the power does is do a
        decent amount of raw damage to one enemy.  If the enemy would be knocked
        out or at low endurance afterwards, the enemy is instantly killed and
        all targets nearby take a similar amount of raw damage.
    This is a modest power that can help bump up the cipher's damage rate,
        especially against DR-heavy foes.  The party-unfriendly area of effect
        makes this hard to use in the heat of combat as nearly-dead foes tend to
        be near your allies.  However, the damage can be worth hurting your own
        allies, especially if it means taking out a bunch of low-endurance but
        problematic foes in one go.

Amplified Wave (level 6)
    A great power.  Even though this power targets fortitude, the area of effect
        is so massive that even on Path of the Damned you're likely to knock
        many enemies down for a decent chunk of time (at least enough to follow
        up with reflex-targeting spells from other casters).
    Because this also does a decent amount of damage, you could instantly win
        fights against swarms of lower-level creatures like Xaurips or Shadows.

Disintegration (level 6)
    Another confusing description for a power. This does not do 30 raw damage
        over ~15 seconds.  Instead, it does 30 raw damage _every few seconds_
        for a base 15 seconds.
    This is incredibly powerful.  With modest Might and Intellect the base 30
        periodic raw damage is virtually lethal to most enemies in the game.
        In fact, this ability may just be overkill.  You may be better off
        against many moderate foes using the cheaper, faster, and 
        longer-ranged Soul Ignition.

Mind Plague (level 6)
    Longest and most accurate confuse effect in the game.  It's also paired
        with a dazed affliction for good measure.  Moreover, this power has a
        jump mechanic that lets it afflict really far-flung enemies.
        Counterbalancing these strengths is the fact that the projectile and
        jump are _very_ slow.  The jump is also unpredictable, since each
        new target really depends on where the currently confused target
        wanders; it may end prematurely if it fails to affect the preceding jump
    In short, a wizard will be able to confuse enemies more consistently and
        rapidly.  A cipher will instead confuse enemies for longer and daze
        them to boot.  The upshot is that this is a very good power that fills
        out a slightly different use case from the wizard.

Time Parasite (level 7) [White March only]
    A modest buff.  Nothing like Mind Plague in terms of mass disable,
        somewhat slowing down a bunch of enemies while boosting the cipher's
        speed.  The duration bonus for the cipher's own personal speed boost
        stacks with each jump, so the cipher could have a *very* long speed
        boost, far exceeding a wizard's Deleterious Alacrity of Motion.
    Ciphers with firearms won't benefit as much from the speed boost (due to
        reload times) though melee ciphers will really like this ability.

Whispers of Treason/Puppet Master/Ringleader (levels 1, 3, 5)
    All these powers are notable for three very big reasons.  First, these all
        have +10 accuracy bonuses, making them members of the club of
        most-accurate spells.
    Second, these powers are the only true sources of charm/dominate available
        to playable classes.  While druids and chanters can charm, the former
        only targets beasts and the latter can only do so intermittently.
        And neither of those are dominate effects.
    Third and most importantly, taking complete control over enemies is very
        powerful, much more powerful than simply confusing them.
    The flip-side to the above are several big caveats.  These powers are _slow_
        to cast.  They also have very limited range; in either stealth
        or combat use prudence lest you endanger your cipher.  Finally, you must
        coordinate your other spells:  hitting a charmed/dominated enemy
        immediately terminates the effect.  So if you like to cast spells like
        Slicken or Fireball, you're better off skipping these cipher powers in
        favor of confusion-type effects.  Foe-only spells are fine, though.

Druid                                                                  !mor,dru-

I consider the druid a very unintuitive class.

On paper, the druid's focus is mass crowd control via area damage.  In fact, all
of a druid's spell levels are chock full of spells targeting different defenses
or using different damage types.  In this way, the druid's spellcasting is a
little bit of a game of rock, paper, scissors.

However, mixed in with this mass damage capability are a grab bag of other
idiosyncratic capabilities; I say idiosyncratic because the druid isn't
particularly good at them.  A druid can heal, though nowhere near like a priest.
A druid can buff and debuff, but weakly.  Moreover, while the druid has a low
health/endurance and low-tier accuracy, the druid is expected to go toe-to-toe
against enemies with regularity, thanks to a medium-tier deflection and a
per-encounter shapeshift that yields a very damaging dual-wielded melee weapon.

The upshot is that ironically, even though a druid's focus is on mass damage,
these idiosyncratic extra capabilities are what defines the druid.  This fact is
most noticeable on Path of the Damned, where dramatically boosted enemy stats
diminishes the impact of any given damage spell.  So, a druid's continued
effectiveness is based on how well you can weave these idiosyncracies together
into a cohesive whole.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
On shapeshifting

Shapeshifting is a high-risk, high-reward endeavor.  Normally a druid should
probably stay back and plunk at enemies, but to really get good mileage out of
the druid you should be prepared to identify good opportunities to charge a
shapeshifted druid headfirst into melee.

A good opportunity is when you have a solid tank who is keeping a foe occupied,
and when you're reasonably certain that that foe is not going to turn around any
time soon.  In addition, it would be best if there aren't a lot of other foes
nearby, or risk your druid getting suddenly swarmed if e.g. your tank gets
knocked prone.

A druid's shapeshifted claws are effectively a dual-wield melee weapon that does
16-25 damage per hit with a DR penetration of 5; it strikes as an average-speed
weapon so 30 attack frames and 30 recovery frames from dual-wielding.  Note that
there is no innate accuracy bonus to this, so there's nothing to help compensate
for a druid's low-tier base accuracy.  However, 16-25 damage is _a lot_, more
than two-handed weapons.  It gets even better if you pick up a Wildstrike talent
(and pick up a Greater Wildstrike upgrade).

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Spell highlights

Nature's Vigor/Nature's Balm/Moonwell/Garden of Life (levels 1, 3, 4, 6)
    These spells are a druid's healing repertoire.  They can actually heal more
        than equivalent-level priest spells, but they all do so as a slow
        regeneration effect over time.  So they won't help you in emergencies,
        but with proactive use can enable your druid to keep your party hale and
    Note that aside from Garden of Life all these healing spells have very
        limited range and area.  In fact, Nature's Vigor and Balm just affects a
        close area around the druid.  So remember to consider the time spent
        moving your druid around when being proactive about healing.

Woodskin (level 2)
    The damage reduction bump is huge but limited in its applicability,
        benefiting only Pierce, Burn, and Shock.  Keep an eye out for what
        weapons the enemy has and if there are any casters around.
    Some tips:
        * Non-implement ranged weapons invariably do pierce damage.  If you see
          a lot of archers, use Woodskin.
        * Spears are definitely piercing and look obvious when used by an
          enemy; Xaurips love spears.
        * Animats, Adra Beetles, and Will o' Wisps love using shock damage.
        * Enemy wizards and high-level priests/druids are prone to using fire
          and shock damage.

Beetle Shell (level 3)
    Similar to a priest's Withdraw spell, with a couple differences in
    First, enemies can still attack the encaseed ally.  This can be a good
        thing:  casting Withdraw on a tank is a risky move because any enemy
        formerly attacking the tank immediately moves on to another target.
    Second, Beetle Shell neither provides nor permits any healing to the encased
        ally.  So this power is not useful to save an almost-dead ally who is
        swarmed by foes: you won't be able to heal them until the enemies break
        through the shell to deliver thefinishing blow.
    That being said, Beetle Shell is a good breathing-room spell.  Like the
        druid's healing spells this is something you have to use proactively.

Rot Skulls (level 6)
    The ranged weapon this spell creates is the most damaging ranged weapon in
        the game.  It's like a wand (30 attack frames, 60 recovery frames) that
        does 22-32 damage with a +10 accuracy bonus and some area of effect

Conjure Lesser/(Normal)/Greater Blight (levels 2, 4, 6)
    In many ways this trifecta of spells is equivalent to a cipher's suite of
        mind control spells.  Like the cipher's mind control spells they carry
        the risk of having very limited range and very slow cast time.  But also
        analogously, these spells generate powerful allies to aid you in combat.

Returning Storm/Relentless Storm (levels 3, 5)
    AKA "stunlock spells."  Returning Storm only targets one enemy at a time,
        while Relentless Storm hits all enemies in the area.  Both spells follow
        a medium-sized area centered on your druid, so you'll have to make sure
        your druid is positioned close enough to enemies without risking danger.
    On the other hand, this might be a good spell to use before shapeshifting,
        since while shapeshifted you'll be going up close and personal anyway.
    Note:  Returning Storm does not feature any innate accuracy bonus.

Nature's Bounty (level 7) [White March only]
    Generates items in all available quick slots, which kind of encourages your
        to play inefficiently and deliberately leave your party members
        under-equipped with their quick slots.
    Still, the item you get in unoccupied quick slots is super good.  Since this
        spell is fast, you could open with this and have all your party members
        down a Nature's Bounty while the fight is still opening and continue the
        rest of the fight with significant combat bonuses and an endurance
        regeneration effect.

Fighter                                                                !mor,fig-

A fighter is THE tanking class, bar none.  High-tier accuracy and deflection,
solid endurance/health, automatic endurance regeneration, and most importantly
the Defender modal ability:  it gives you lots of extra melee engagement and can
be upgraded to give you huge defensive boosts.

Of course, you could also build a fighter who can dish out some consistent
damage, but if you only have one fighter you should definitely make them the
party tank.

Not much else to say here.  If tank, get Defender, Wary Defender, Constant
Recovery and some other defensive talents/abilities.  If not tank, get Weapon
Specialization, Weapon Mastery, etc.

Do note that as of 2.0/White March, there are "universal" weapon types.  As
mentioned elsewhere, this means that _any_ Weapon Focus talent can be used to
give you an accuracy bonus with them.  This also applies to a Fighter's Weapon
Specialization and Weapon Mastery; so long as you have _any_ one of these
talents, it will apply to "universal" weapons (though multiples do not stack).
For a fighter, this simply means that regardless of where you put your
Focus/Specialization/Mastery talents, you can use soulbound weapons at full
effect since they are universal.

Monk                                                                   !mor,mon-

Taking a naive approach to the monk will result in a bit of a problematic class.
Many of a monk's abilities are powered by wounds, but wounds are only generated
by taking damage.  Unfortunately, relying on taking damage results in the monk
being very squishy.  In fact, regularly taking damage on Path of the Damned is

A better approach for your monk is to treat wounds and wound-powered abilities
as _incidental_; just an extra that occasionally occurs in the course of combat.
This means you should gear your monk up like any other tank-like.  This will
minimize how many wounds you get, but at least your monk will be alive.  The
minimization of wounds necessarily means certain abilities and approaches become
better than others.

Swift Strikes gives you a temporary attack speed buff, but at least the buff is
longer-lived than the alternative of choosing Torment's Reach.  You could try
and pick up other wound-based abilities, but I personally find that Turning
Wheel is a great all-around choice.

Turning Wheel passively transforms any excess wounds into extra burning damage.
Normally to maximize a monk's effectiveness you should be spending any available
wounds on abilities.  But if you are gearing up your monk to be hardy, you run
the risk that you'll be picking up many abilities that you can never use due to
a lack of wounds.  Turning Wheel, by contrast, is a mere one-time investment
that converts any and all wounds into something useful.

It may seem that by not actively stocking up on wound-based mechanics your monk
is losing out on a competitive advantage.  In truth, Turning Wheel largely
mitigates this; and the monk has other non-wound abilities to pick up.  And
apart from this, the monk has several other strengths.  The monk possesses a
high-tier endurance, and an unarmed monk will eventually have the most damaging
if not most accurate melee weapon in the game.

Note:  Lesser Wounds may be a good talent to pick up early on.  Whenever your
monk eventually does take damage, Lesser Wounds increases the likelihood that
you get a meaningful amount of wounds out of it.

Paladin                                                                !mor,pal-

The paladin is an interesting class.  After receiving some buffs in a patch,
they are a reasonable tank that fills some various support roles in keeping your
party hale and hearty.  They won't be able to deal out damage like a barbarian
or monk, and they certainly can't withstand damage like a fighter, but they
nonetheless help keep your party going just the same.

Their main benefit is one of several auras that project a party buff in a modest
area.  This is the main argument for favoring Intelligence for a paladin,
so as to increase the likelihood your allies are protected by an aura.  Zealous
Focus or Zealous Endurance are both good, either boosting your damage output or
decreasing your damage intake.  On Path of the Damned, Zealous Endurance might
be a better choice, especially now that it has been buffed to potentially
convert incoming Hits to Grazes.

Zealous Charge can also be an interesting choice, but its effects are
much more subtle.  Most of the time combat is fairly static thanks to
engagement, so at first blush solely having a boost to move speed is
underwhelming.  However, faster movement means two important things:  your tanks
can get into proper position much faster; and your squishy characters can likely
outrun any foes approaching them.  The two combined means your tanks can quickly
intercept foes (and the disengagement defense bonus helps repositioning be less
painful) and your squishier characters stay safe.  So while the benefits of
Zealous Charge are indirect, properly used this can give you a significant boost
in your party's net survivability.  The fact that you can also use the
accelerated movement to kite enemies is a nice side bonus.

Along with auras, the Paladin gets access to "exhortations," or mostly
per-encounter single-ally buffs that feature no recovery time.  Liberating
Exhortation is probably the best, acting as a Suppress Affliction for one ally
for quite a long time.  Can be clutch when someone is immobilized.  Reinforcing
Exhortation can help an off-tank be briefly untouchable.  Hastening Exhortation
can help a party member dish out afflictions or damage faster, though is the one
exhortation that is per-rest instead of per-encounter.  Reviving Exhortation is
only useful if you aren't trying to go for a 0-knockout game, but can quickly
swing the tide of battle, especially since its later endurance drain has been

Note that because exhortations have no recovery, Hastening, Reinforcing, and
Liberating Exhortation can be spammed at the start of the fight to quickly buff
your party (though to get mileage out of spamming Liberating Exhortation you
need to either be a Darcozzi Paladini or Goldpact Knight for the special
Liberating Exhortation talents).

The paladin also has access to some miscellaneous abilities.  Lay on Hands is
actually a fairly decent single-target heal; nothing like what a druid, priest,
or even cipher can do but it can help fill in the gaps in party health.  Sworn
Enemy is like the ranger's Marked Prey ability albeit per-rest.  Flames of
Devotion isn't too great on Path of the Damned due to high enemey health, but is
a nonetheless welcome damage boost when you need that extra umph to take out a
problematic foe.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

As alluded, during character creation you can select a paladin order which, in
addition to enforcing some role-playing on to you due to their favored
dispositions.  The paladin order gives you access to two different talents.
Some of these can have transformative effects on the paladin as a class, as
elaborated below.

    Bleak Walkers
        - add bonus corrode damage to Flames of Devotion
        - when paladin finishes an enemy, nearby enemies become fightened*

    Darcozzi Paladini
        - add accuracy buff to Liberating Exhortation
        - Flames of Devotion also creates a weak Flame Shield on the paladin

    Goldpact Knights
        - add defense bonus vs charm/confuse/dominate to Liberating Exhortation
        - add extra fire damage-over-time to Flames of Devotion

    Kind Wayfarers
        - when paladin finishes an enemy, nearby allies are healed*
        - Flames of Devotion heals nearby allies*

    Shieldbearers of St. Elcga
        - add deflection buff to Lay on Hands
        - Flames of Devotion temporarily buffs nearby allies' deflection*

    * the area of these effects is roughly 7-8m

Talents that boost Flames of Devotion damage work well with an arquebus or some
other slow ranged weapon as an opening attack to maximize the effect of the
bonus damage.  Darcozzi Paladini can turn the specialized Liberating
Exhortation into a general-purpose accuracy buff (that casts at instant speed
with no recovery).  Shieldbearers can turn the somewhat bursty Flames of
Devotion into a nice party buff.  Kind Wayfarers make the paladin into a more
heal-tastic class.

Priest                                                                 !mor,pri-

Standard-fare role-playing game priest.  Lots of heals, lots of buffs, some
debuffs, and a few damaging spells.  Unlike other RPGs where the priest also had
better combat prowess than his peers, the priest in Pillars of Eternity is
almost as squishy as a wizard.

There are a couple quirks with a priest, though.  First is that after choosing a
deity, you can pick up a related talent that gives you a special ability and a
+10 accuracy bonus in two weapons.  That +10 accuracy bonus effectively bumps
the priest's base accuracy up to high-tier for physical combat; you can still
get a Weapon Focus to further augment those numbers.

The second quirk is that a priest has several "trap" spells.  More than just an
aesthetic similarity to "real" traps, the priest's Mechanics skill will actually
contribute a bonus to the accuracy of these trap spells.  Considering that these
trap spells have higher accuracy than "real" traps, which feature accuracy
penalties as severe as -40, it is not uncommon to see these traps regularly set
off critical hits.

Both the above quirks add some strategic depth to a priest.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Choosing a deity is more than just a role-playing experience, it can
fundamentally alter how you play your priest due to the deity-specific talent it
unlocks down the road:

                +10 Accuracy            Special Ability
    Berath      Mace, Great Sword       Lesser Concelahut's Corrosive Siphon
    Eothas      Flail, Morning Star     Hope Eternal
    Magran      Sword, Arquebus         Burst of Summer Flame
    Skaen       Stiletto, Club          adds a 1.2x Sneak Attack
    Wael        Quarterstaff, Rod       Lesser Arkemyr's Dazzling Lights

Skaen is most notable here.  First, the two weapon bonuses fall into the same
Weapon Focus category (Ruffian), making it easy for you to further upgrade both.
Second, the added sneak attack significantly improves a priest's combat damage
throughput (see section com,dam- for more info on damage modifiers).  In fact,
by becoming a high-tier accuracy, low-tier deflection class with sneak attack, a
priest of Skaen basically becomes a mini-rogue, giving up some of the pure
damage of the rogue in exchange for better "traps" and a wide array of
survivability-boosting spells.

Magran and Wael both unlock a high-tier accuracy with a ranged weapon, which
will significantly boost the priest's ability to plunk away for damage.  It's
tough to say which is better; the arquebus has better damage throughput but its
lengthy recovery frames means that you could be caught with your pants down when
an emergency heal is needed.

The other two options aren't too great.  If you want melee you're better off
with Skaen, and they don't offer any ranged boost.  Berath and Eothas are mainly
useful to pick up for role-playing purposes.

Of course, if you don't plan on taking advantage of the deity-specific talent,
then pick whatever deity you want.

Note that as of 2.0/White March, there are "universal" weapon types, which
benefit from _any_ Weapon Focus.  For the priest in particular, any of the above
deity-specific +10 weapon accuracy talents _also_ applies to universal weapons,
which means that regardless of what diety you follow if you pick up the
diety-specific talent you will have some very good accuracy with soulbound
weapons (which are universal).

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Holy Radiance and Interdiction

These are the priest's defining per encounter spells, though you have to get a
talent to use Interdiction.  There are many talents to upgrade these and shape
them to your needs.

Brilliant Radiance is probably the only definite loser out of all the upgrades;
the extra damage is minute in any real fight, especially on Path of the Damned.

In general though, the talents help your priest out in the early game but are
less useful in the mid-late game.  Holy Radiance and Interdiction are best
because they are per-encounter spells, but once you are high enough level that
your level 1 spells become per-encounter, you no longer really need Holy
Radiance or Interdiction.  Painful Interdiction has a Weakening debuff that is
pretty good, though.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Spell highlights

Withdraw (level 1)
    This spell is an amazing way to instantly protect a party member.  The
        protection is almost absolute; enemies will just move off to another
        target.  Moreover, this spell also heals the withdrawn ally, so if the
        effect wears off while the fight is still going, your ally will be in
        good shape to resume.
    There are certain rare situations where damage will still get through to a
        withdrawn ally.  Pre-existing debuffs that deal raw damage can still
        kill your ally, though frequently the healing will counteract this.
    Bug?  As of 2.03 Withdraw appears to lack any healing effect.  The spell
        description still mentions one, so the operating assumption for now is
        that it will be fixed eventually.

Suppress Affliction (level 2)
    It's hard to justify many of the "Prayer against" spells when this will
        completely negate all hostile effects, albeit only temporarily and
        reactively.  As of 2.0, this does also appear to save you from
        domination and charm.
    This spell may have some weird side-effects:  it may suppress beneficial
        effects that are implemented as hazard area of effects, such as
        Consecrated Ground.

Repulsing Seal (level 2)
    The first of three "trap" spells the priest has, and arguably the best.
        Instead of doing damage, which becomes less important on Path of the
        Damned, this inflicts prone on anyone near the triggering point.  With a
        high Mechanics skill, it is not uncommon to crit a bunch of enemies with
        this, resulting in very lengthy start-of-fight crowd control.

Holy Power (level 2)
    The aura range on this spell is _extremely_ small.  Treat this as
        essentially a priest's self-buff that just happens to help out allies
        who are right next to the priest.

Iconic Projection (level 2)
    There's almost no reason to bother with the same-spell-level Restore
        Endurance.  This spell heals more, will generally have a more
        advantageous area of effect, and will also damage enemies in the
        process.  The main advantage the same-spell-level Restore Endurance
        offers it that you could also heal the priest if needed.

Consecrated Ground (level 2)
    This spell is basically a required spell for any hard fight.  The repeated
        healing in an area will basically keep your entire party up and healthy
        in even the direst of circumstances.
    The only "concern" is that because this will let party members fight in
        dangerous situations for a lot longer then they really should, you run
        the risk that your squishier allies may avoid low endurance only to run
        into low health, a far worse situation.

Warding Seal (level 3)
    The second of three "trap" spells the priest has and arguably the weakest.
        The damage can be significant on lower difficulties, but on higher
        difficulties you probably want to go with one of the other trap spells,
        both of which feature at least a debuff.

Searing Seal (level 4)
    The last of the "trap" spells; it does less damage than Warding Seal but
        features both a much larger area and range than either Repulsing or
        Warding Seal and has a blind debuff.  Similar to Repulsing Seal, a high
        Mechanics skill may mean lots of crits and therefore very lengthy blind

Devotions of the Faithful (level 4)
    Truly an insane buff/debuff packaged into one convenient spell:  the +20
        accuracy for allies and -20 accuracy for enemies on its own would make
        this spell A+; the fact that it also boosts ally Might while diminishing
        enemy Might is frosting on the cake.  The major downside is its limited
    Note that if you have a cipher on your team, the accuracy bonus that this
        buff this provides actually clashes with the buff a cipher gains from
        using the Borrowed Instinct level 5 power:  they do not stack (though
        you still get the other bonuses from Borrowed Instinct).

Salvation of Time (level 5)
    This spell increases the duration of all friendly buffs by a flat 10
        seconds.  As a result, it heavily benefits buffs that are ordinarily
        very short, such as a wizard's Eldritch Aim or the druid's various
        regenerative heals.  However, for this spell to be truly worthwhile to
        cast, you need to have a lot of buffs on a lot of party members.

Crowns for the Faithful (level 6)
    Features a whopping +6 intellect bonus that will make any and all casters
        (and possibly barbarians and paladins) extremely happy.  Also has a
        ginormous Resolve bonus, making even tanks extremely happy due to the
        massive concentration/deflection boost.

Prayer against Fear/Infirmity/Restraint/Bewilderment/Imprisonment/Treachery
        (levels 1-6)
    By far the most useful spells of this sequence are Prayers against Restraint
        and Imprisonment.  Both help mitigate the impact of debuffs that not
        only can knock a party member out of the fight but render them
        _extremely_ vulnerable to enemy attacks.
    All of these spells, in addition to providing an insane +50 defense bonus
        against their respective afflictions, modestly reduce the duration of
        any active afflictions on the party member.  As of 2.0, Bewilderment and
        Treachery now appear to properly work against confusion, charm, and
        domination effects (respectively).  So they can both be used a
        pre-emptive solutions and to deal with effects currently underway.

Restore Minor/Light/Moderate/Major/Critical Endurance (levels 1-5)
    All these spells are fast-casting ways to get your party members back to
        tip-top shape.  The only thing to be concerned about is to make sure
        that you're not too reliant on them:  while a priest can be nothing more
        than just a heal-monkey, you're better off keeping your party members
        stocked with potions for periodic heals.  This way, your priest can
        spend their time casting more proactive spells, and you can save busting
        out these spells for emergencies, like when a party member is
        knocked prone while trying to quaff a healing potion.

Ranger                                                                 !mor,ran-

The ranger is suited for single-target damage.  The ranger also gets a pet which
can help add to the class's total damage output.  This pet can also play
tactical roles, such as running interference by engaging potential threats or
helping to provide flanking afflictions for your melee party members.

The ranger is not the easiest of classes to play; the pet is absolutely crucial
for the ranger's damage output.  This is in part because you get a "grief"
debuff that cripples your ranger's accuracy when your pet gets knocked out.  But
despite this importance, the pet is very fragile.  So moreso than the rogue
you'll need to do a lot of micromanagement to make sure everybody's positioning
is spot-on.

In return for this micromanagement, you get a class with high-tier accuracy (and
medium-tier deflection) along with a bunch of class-specific abilities to help
you generate a ridiculous amount of damage with ranged weapons.  You can also
try and opt for melee while using your pet as a flank-assist, but I would
recommend the ranged approach.

Note that your pet shares the same endurance as your ranger.  So if you were
contemplating dumping Constitution because you planned on keeping your distance
all the time, be aware that this will also negatively impact your pet's

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Choosing and caring for your pet

Different pets feature innate abilities that either improves their survivability
or their offenses.  The exception is the wolf, who does neither and instead just
has a move speed bonus.

Either focus on survivability or offense is suitable; just choose whichever fits
your preferred playstyle.

The ranger gets a lot of different talents that improve the pet.  Given how weak
the ranger's pet is both in terms of survivability and damage, you might be
dubious of the benefit of pet talents.  And while they shouldn't be your first
choice, you should definitely get a couple pet talents.  Like I said, pets will
contribute a significant share of the ranger's total damage output, and their
ability to continue to run interference is greatly improved by improved

Of note is Merciless Companion, which grants your pet a 1.3x sneak attack.  As
alluded to in section com,dam-, sneak attack disproportionately improves your
pet's overall damage output by increasing how effective their grazes are.
You'll have to pay attention to flanking and other afflictions to make sure
you're getting sneak attack opportunities, but it can be worth it.  Of note, the
stag's carnage effect is improved by the Merciless Companion sneak attack as

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Talents/Abilities of note

Driving Flight (ability)
    The number one reason to go for a ranged weapon ranger.  The +1 bounce can
        dramatically up your damage output so long as you're targetting the
        right enemy:  choose enemies closer to the front who have multiple
        enemies behind them.
    Does not work well with Stalker's Link, however, since this ability requires
        you to adjust your targetting to maximize the ability to bounce, while
        your pet won't have the same freedom.

Merciless Companion (talent)
    See above section about the 1.3x pet sneak attack.

Resilient Companion (talent)
    Can be a good way to ensure your pet lasts longer in fights.  This won't
        make it a true tank, but will mean that dedicated attention is a bit
        easier to shrug off.

Stalker's Link (ability)
    The accuracy bonus from attacking the same target as your pet can be pretty
        significant, but it necessitates you are very good at positioning and
        keeping your pet alive.  In other words, this ability is no good if your
        pet is always getting knocked out quickly or if you can't position your
        pet to attack the same foes as your ranger.

Swift Aim (ability)
    If you like firearms or reloading weapons, you should definitely get Swift
        Aim.  The reload speed increase is a _massive_ increase to your attack
        rate with reloading weapons, far out-pacing the accuracy penalty
        inflicted by this modal ability.
    This is still pretty good for melee use, but the benefit isn't quite as good
        compared to the accuracy penalty.

Vicious Aim (ability)
    The alternative to Swift Aim, the reduced rate of fire and reload speed
        mostly cancels out the ranged damage increase, so you're mainly getting
        the accuracy bonus out of this.  Though for hunting bows and implements
        translating their attack speed into higher damage can help compensate
        for their vulnerability to damage reduction.

Rogue                                                                  !mor,rog-

This class is a true glass cannon.  The rogue is very fragile, having both
low-tier deflection and endurance.  However, with a cooperative party the rogue
can dish out unmatched single-target damage.

The key to making this work is sneak attack.  As a 1.5x multiplier, this
actually acts a +.5 damage modifier (see section com,dam-).  In addition to
making your normal attacks more damaging, it also makes your grazes twice as

Triggering sneak attack requires that the rogue's target has one or more of the
following afflictions:

Of these, Flanked is the easiest to do at-will; it requires you to have an enemy
engaged by a foe on opposite sides, as defined by a 180 arc in front and behind

All other debuffs require some source ability.  The rogue can trigger a few
via Blinding, Crippling, Fearsome, and Withering Strike.  Wizards and ciphers
are kings at afflicting abilities; druids and priests have some; everyone
else may have an ability or two.

For sneak attack purposes you don't need more than one of these afflictions.
But the Deathblows talent--which is amazing for your damage output--requires two
or more sneak attack afflictions on the target.  Having a wizard or cipher in
your party is very helpful in these situations.

Unfortunately, like I said before the rogue is very squishy.  You should make
sure your tanking skills are A+.  You should also pick up some of the rogue's
survival abilities as soon as possible.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Ability/talent highlights

Dirty Fighting (level 3 ability)
    Works best if you have a weapon with an enhanced crit damage multiplier.
        Still great otherwise, though the impact of sneak attack and Deathblows
        will reduce how beneficial this is.

Escape (level 3 ability)
    A good survival move.  If your rogue's target suddenly turns away from the
        party tank, you can activate Escape to leap to safety.

Deathblows (level 11 ability)
    Strongly recommended.  On enemies with two or more sneak attack afflictions,
        you get a +1 damage modifier.  A lot of this power is that this
        basically negates the importance of accuracy; a graze will still do 1.5x

Sap (level 13 ability) [White March only]
    A must-have:  a per-encounter set of stuns.  What more needs to be said?

Shadowing Beyond (talent)
    Both an excellent survival move but also a critical way to get your rogue to
        solo the game.  Once invisible, you can simply run away until combat

Vicious Fighting (talent)
    A must-have if you also picked up Dirty Fighting.

Wizard                                                                 !mor,wiz-

The wizard is a very versatile spellcaster.  The class features all sorts of
debuffs, damaging spells, as well as several niche spells:  a summon,
temporary magical weapons, or even offensive/defensive self-buffs.

The cost for all of this is the grimoire gameplay mechanic.  While the wizard
has more spell diversity than any other caster, only 4 spells of any given
spell level are accessible at a time.  For the wizard to access more spells in
combat requires that you swap out grimoires, which comes with an expensive
10-second block on spellcasting.  (At least the delay is unaffected by armor

Prudent spell selection can help out a ton here.  If you keep your grimoires
focused on particular combat scenarios, you can pre-emptively switch to an
appropriate grimoire based on information gleaned from scouting or simply by
what enemy you see at the edge of your fog war.  For example, you might load up
on debuffs most of the time, but have an alternate grimoire dedicated to
knocking out/protecting against casters for when you see an archmage in an enemy
party.  Or you might load up on fire/corrode damage types in one grimoire and
have a backup for cold/shock in cases where the resistances favor it.

Or you could just have a couple of core spells per spell level that you dedicate
yourself to using and never worry about being able to cast any other spell.
This is perfectly viable, though this may be a self-imposed nerf since one of
the wizard's advantages versus other caster classes is spell diversity.

Note that you can slightly "cheese" the grimoire switch delay by queueing up a
spell and immediately switching grimoires; your wizard will continue to cast the
spell even though all their spellcasting icons are blocked out for the grimoire
switch.  With Fast Switch, you can effectively reduce the grimoire switch time
to a few seconds by doing this approach:  the first ~3 seconds of the delay will
be used up casting the spell (for an average-speed spell), so your wizard will
only have to wait ~3 more seconds to resume casting.

Apart from this, the wizard features a very useful per encounter ability:
Arcane Assault, which you actually get two of per fight.  Its raw damage means
it scales well with how far you are into the game:  when up against high DR
Animats the effective damage dealt by Arcane Assault goes up.  And to boot,
because Arcane Assault also dazes, you effectively have free debuffs to use per

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Talent selection

The wizard features several class-specific talents.  Arcane Veil gives you +50
deflection for a short while (and can be upgraded to offer a total of +75).
Ignore what the game says; firearms do not ignore this bonus, and even if they
did, very few enemies are equipped with firearms.  These _can_ be a useful line
of talents for survival purposes, but for most wizards you're better off saving
the talents for something else and just staying out of danger.  Wizards inclined
to toe-to-toe might benefit from Arcane Veil as a temporary oh-shit when your
melee target turns around from attacking the party tank.

Grimoire Slam promises to be a fast per-encounter survival move by knocking
enemies back, but truth be told you should be a lot more proactive than waiting
for them to come to your wizard.  If your wizard is not capable of melee
engagement, then you should be using other party members' engagement to halt
foes in their tracks before they make their way to the wizard.  (Yes, I know
some enemies willfully disengage to attack squishies and still others can
teleport, but still!)

Blast and Penetrating Blast are a fun couple of talents that augments the
wizard's implements to inflict area of effect damage.  This can enable your
wizard to maintain some steam even when you're not willing or able to cast
spells.  Though in truth, when level 1 spells become per encounter you'll be
spending far less time actually attacking, so keep that in mind when going down
this path.  If you do go down this path, you might consider the Dangerous
Implement talent.  Sure the wizard is squishy, but most of the time you should
not be getting hit, so you can arbitrage that health into extra damage.

You should consider giving basically every wizard some damage type they like to
do and give them the appropriate talent (like Scion of Flame).  The wizard has a
variety of spells for each damage type, it just basically boils down to your
play style and how many talents you want to pick up for damage-boosting

Your wizard could also benefit from the various Bonus Level N Spell talents; if
there's one thing the wizard benefits very well from, it's more spell casts.
Though keep in mind that at higher levels, your low-level spell levels become
per-encounter, though you still may enjoy the extra per-encounter spell casts.

If you plan on using the generated weapons a lot, it's important to note that as
of 2.0/White March, all summoned weapons are of "universal" type, which means
that regardless of their base type so long as you have _any_ Weapon Focus, you
will get the accuracy bonus, so you do not need to select a different Weapon
Focus talent for each summoned weapon you plan on using.  However, other
specific talents like Dangerous Implement still only work for e.g. summoned
wands, instead of applying universally.  If you're somehow playing a pre-2.0
version of the game, the above is not true and you will need the right Weapon
Focus talents to boost summoned weapons.  It is worth noting that a wizard's
summoned weapons have such a huge innate accuracy bonus that you can be
successful even without a Weapon Focus.

Lastly, Fast Switch is worth considering if you plan on switching grimoires a
lot.  6 seconds is still a long time to wait so you shouldn't get into the habit
of switching grimoires too much in battle, but it will help take the sting out
of doing it on occasion.  If you do the "cheese" grimoire strategy from above,
Fast Switch roughly cuts down your grimoire switch time by ~57% (from ~7 seconds
to ~3 seconds).

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Deflection Stacking

If you're interested in becoming a spellsword of sorts, i.e. going toe-to-toe
with spell backup, you'll need to keep in mind a few things.

The wizard boasts a lot of spells and abilities that allow for deflection to be
buffed.  However, most of these do not stack, so you won't be able to
necessarily boost your deflection to high levels.

Namely, the level 1-3 spells suppress each other:  only the highest of Wizard's
Double, Mirror Image, and Llengrath's Displaced Image will ever be used.  This
means that, ironically, for pure deflection purposes the level 1 spell Wizard's
Double will be the best.

Arcane/Hardened Veil and Llengrath's Warding Staff act separately from the
level 1-3 spells.  This means that if, for example, your wizard casts Wizard's
Double and uses Hardened Veil, your wizard will get a whopping +115 deflection

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Spells of note

Note that as of the White March expansion, there are a few unique spells that
can *only* be pulled from enemy grimoires.  A couple of these are hidden on the
map (Ninagauth's Black Pages) and another couple comes from defeating
Concelhaut and looting his grimoire.

Chill Fog (level 1)
    This level 1 spell is ACES:  the damage and blind debuff repeats every
        few seconds.  So long as you're careful with your targeting, this can be
        a significant way to swing every fight. Early on, this spell can clear
        all enemies by itself.
    And while you may think the indiscriminate area of effect is a minus,
        consider this: you can drop this on confused foes and still damage them;
        foe-only spells ignore confused enemies.

Concelhaut's Parasitic Staff (level 1)
    Creates a quarterstaff that deals 26-39 damage with a +8 accuracy bonus and
        has an effect that converts 20% of damage to endurance.  It's a pretty
        great weapon, but to take advantage of it you need to deal with the
        wizard's general squishiness.  Make sure your targets are well-occupied
        with a tank and consider keeping a spell or two in reserve for
        survivability purposes.
    Fortunately, this weapon (like normal quarterstaffs) has reach, which means
        you can sit safely behind a tank while using this weapon.
    Early on the accuracy bonus helps you almost get on par with a fighter, but
        in the end--because you can never upgrade this weapon--you'll still lag
        behind significantly.  Fortunately, the damage of this weapon is so high
        that even grazes are reasonably powerful.

Eldritch Aim (level 1)
    Early on, getting a +15 accuracy bonus for such a short duration is almost a
        waste.  Later on, especially when level 1 spells become per encounter,
        this is a great way to help make sure your spells land and even crit.

Slicken (level 1)
    Probably the most powerful spell a wizard can ever learn.  An area of effect
        prone is useful in many ways; it can interrupt spells being cast by
        enemies, it can save allies who are in danger, it can prime enemies for
        reflex-targetting attacks, etc. etc.
    This spell only becomes more powerful once level 1 spells become per
        encounter; you can basically keep eneies knocked out the entire fight.

Wizard's Double (level 1)
    The deflection bonus is huge; at +40 it's the second-highest a wizard has
        access to.  In case it isn't clear from the description, the double/buff
        _only_ goes away if your character is either hit or critically hit;
        grazes do not dispel it.  As such, the higher your deflection, the more
        powerful this becomes, as this spell becomes less a short-term buff into
        a more permanent buff.
    As a consequence, this is a pretty powerful effect in potion form, since you
        can have your high-deflection tanks quaff it.

Bewildering Spectacle (level 2)
    Confusion is an awesome affliction to have in your repertoire, and this is a
        solid way to apply it.

Fetid Caress (level 2)
    Wizards lose out here versus ciphers.  Sure you get a paralyze effect, but
        this spell strikes the much-harder fortitude defense while a cipher's
        Mental Binding attacks will.  Moreover, this spell has a weird area of
        effect sicken, which will most likely just hit your guys since you'll
        probably want to paralyze a scary foe who's engaged with you.
    That being said, paralyze is still awesome, so this is still a great spell.

Merciless Gaze (level 2)
    Like Eldritch Aim, this spell is probably not worth it early on when you
        have very few level 2 spells.  Later on, though, this is a great way to
        get your spells to crit.
    The way these sorts of abilites work is that once you land a hit, you have
        an x% chance of it instead being converted to a crit (where x is the
        sum of all these +% hits to crit effects).  +15% may not sound like
        much, but over the very long duration and with area of effect abilities
        you can get many extra critical hits.

Miasma of Dull-Mindedness (level 2)
    I really like this spell. -10 Perception, Intellect, and Resolve translates
        into much lower enemy deflection (up to -20), _much_ lower will saves
        (up to -40), lower reflex saves (up to -20), and greater interruption.
        Use this to help your allies hit tough enemies or to prep foes for a
        slew of reflex or will-based attacks.  In particular you can basically
        guarantee lots of crits if you use this before a will-based attack.

Mirrored Image (level 2)
    Grants you a +25 deflection bonus that goes down 5 per hit (until the spell
        either wears off or the bonus goes to zero).  Won't help you if you're
        getting some serious enemy attention:  the wizard has bad-tier
        deflection so half of this buff just helps to compensate for that.
        However, if you stack on a bunch of other deflection buffs this can help
        you get to astronomical levels.
    Even without doing that kind of deflection-stacking, this debuff can help
        you get out of melee engagement and survive the disengagement attack in
        the process.
    Note that this effect is most useful as a potion on your tank.  Since your
        tanks already have high deflection, this effect would make them nigh
        untouchable, which in turn strengthens this effect by making it less
        likely that you'll get successive -5 reductions to the buff.

Deleterious Alacrity of Motion (level 3)
    Sure it costs you endurance, but as I've said in other places, a wizard
        should not be getting much attention most of the time, so that endurance
        is going to waste.  This spell lets you convert a bit of endurance into
        a _really_ powerful effect:  the move speed is nice, but the 1.5x attack
        speed is great!  (Reminder:  1.5x attack speed is actually +50% bonus to
        recovery speed.)
    And in case it isn't clear, because spells are also affected by recovery
        mechanics, this also speeds up how quickly you can cast spells!
    Do note that if your wizard is using firearms or some such, much of the
        attack speed bonus is mitigated by the lengthy reloading times of these

Expose Vulnerabilities (level 3)
    An incredibly useful debuff; this will dramatically increase your party's
        net damage by lowering the deflection and damage reduction of enemies.
        The concentration debuff helps a bit, too, in that the enemies will
        spend more time recovering from interrupts.

Llengrath's Displaced Image (level 3)
    This has been buffed to provide +50% hit to graze conversion for both
        deflection and reflex in addition to the big bonus to those defenses.
        Like Mirrored Image, this spell won't help you against sustained focus,
        but can be stacked with other deflection bonuses to make you
        nigh-untouchable.  The hit to graze conversion is nice for general
        emergency survivability purposes.
    The potion version only offers the deflection/reflex buff, but like Mirrored
        Image you'll find it quite useful on your characters who already have
        lots of deflection (your tanks).

Kalakoth's Minor Blights (level 3)
    This generates a wand-like weapon (30 attack frames, 60 recovery frames)
        that deals 18-26 damage of a random type (fire, shock, corrode, freeze)
        with a +20 accuracy bonus and a minor area of effect.
    This does a whole lot of damage and due to its duration can work best when
        you're running low on spells and want to maintain your damage
        throughput.  Unfortunately, later on in the game you won't be running
        low on spells much.

Confusion (level 4)
    Like Bewildering Spectacle except for longer and in a wider area of effect.
        What more could you ask for?

Minor Grimoire Imprint (level 4)
    A real joke of an ability.  Theoretically you already have spells that you
        want, so why waste a spell to cast a spell that you don't want?  And
        that's _if_ the wizard you target has a spell you don't already have!
    Plus, if you're unlucky, you could be like me and have this spell bug out
        and do weird things to your grimoire.

Ninagauth's Shadowflame (level 4, UNIQUE spell) [White March only]
    UNIQUE:  only available from Ninagauth's Black Pages.
    Basically like fireball, except does freeze damage and _paralyzes_ as well.
        Trumps almost anything else available at this spell-level, albeit the
        paralyze targets fortitude and the closest competitor at this spell
        level, Confusion, targets will.

Call to Slumber (level 5)
    Slicken on steroids:  the duration is super-long.  The only downside is that
        by this time Slicken is a per-encounter spell, so you might actually
        just want to save this slot for something else.

Citzal's Spirit Lance (level 5)
    Creates a pike that has 29-44 damage, a +15 accuracy bonus, a +20%
        recovery speed buff, a Superb enchantment (for an additional +12
        accuracy and +45% damage), and a small area of effect.
    This is by far the most powerful melee weapon available in the game;  the
        inherent +15 accuracy bonus helps the wizard get up to fighter levels
        and more, and this weapon separately has all sorts of great enchantments
        that would be the envy of any melee attacker.
    Just keep in mind that you need to make sure that your wizard's only going
        for targets that are preoccupied with other allies and that you have a
        lot of backup survival spells.  Fortunately, this weapon (like regular
        pikes) has reach, so you can have your wizard stand safely behind a tank
        while attacking away.

Ninagauth's Bitter Mooring (level 5)
    Your target becomes an anchor for a beam; the beam does a lot of freeze
        damage per second to everyone it touches, including the anchor.
        Notably, this spell also afflicts everyone hit with stuck.  This can
        both keep a bunch of foes at bay as well as set them up for reflex-based
    The only downside is that this ability targets fortitude, which is a pretty
        strong defense for most enemies.

Arkemyr's Capricious Hex (level 6)
    Randomly applies one of three increasingly useful afflictions to all foes in
        the area:  dazed, sickened, or paralyzed.  Paralyzed is by far the best,
        and the duration is really long (20 seconds base for any affliction),
        but having only a 1/3 chance to apply it kinda sucks.
    To make up for it, this spell has a _huge_ area of effect.  In dense
        battles, it might be worth using this just to afflict everyone in sight
        with something, and some of them will get paralyzed in the process.

Citzal's Martial Power (level 6)
    You have to be pretty willing to commit to normal attacks to use this.  In
        truth, this might be useful when you're running low on spells coupled
        with a good generated weapon, but by this point you're not going to be
        low on spells often.  Plus, disabling spellcasting means you're going to
        lose out on all the survivability spells you'll need when going
        toe-to-toe.  May still be useful just for ranged weapon purposes, where
        you're pretty safe anyway.

Gaze of the Adragon (level 6)
    A little too good.  You have to deal with the fact that it targets
        fortitude and in a limited area, but in return it gives you the only
        source of petrification available to players and for a lengthy duration,
        to boot.

Minoletta's Precisely Piercing Burst (level 6)
    The damage is huge with a party-friendly area of effect (albeit centered on
        you), and it casts very quickly.  You could easily just spam this a few
        times and win most trash fights.

Llengrath's Warding Staff (level 7) [White March only]
    Creates a powerful staff that gives you a +25 deflection buff but also
        hobbles and knocks away enemies on hits.  Unlike other melee weapons,
        wizards who don't actually want to get into the mix of things may
        benefit from this, since the ability to repel enemies repeatedly (in
        addition to a nice deflection bonus) will do aces for your
        survivability.  Though arguably, you shouldn't be letting enemies get
        this close to begin with.
    For added protection, this weapon (like regular quarterstaffs) has reach, so
        you can stand behind tanks while knocking enemies away.
    For sheer damage purposes you're better off with Citzal's Spirit Lance.

Tayn's Chaotic Orb (level 7) [White March only]
    An absolutely brutal spell:  aside from the damage, the best outcome is
        laying down some brutal debuffs like petrification, paralyze, or
        stunned.  Open with this spell and the battle is pretty much over

Troublesome foes                                                           !tro-
Adra Dragon
    You'll face one at the bottom of Caed Nua, and she's rough.  Super high
        defenses, is accompanied by Delemgans and a swarm of Xaurips, and has
        both a brutal breath and wing attack that can wipe out your entire party
        in one hit.
    The three most important things you need:
        1.  A source of paralyze (Scrolls of Paralyze work well, as does a
            cipher's Mental Binding).
        2.  Lots of afflictions to reduce will defenses.  Examples include:
            - spells/abilities that directly target intellect or resolve, like:
                o Miasma of Dull-Mindedness (wizard)
                o Arkemyr's Wondrous Torment (wizard)
                o Psychovampiric Shield (cipher)
                o Borrowed Instinct (cipher)
            - any weapon with Disorienting (-5 defenses on hit)
            - any spell or ability that can weaken or sicken that also targets
            will, like:
                o Empowered Interdiction (priest)
                o Secret Horrors (cipher)
        3.  Lots of buffs to help with accuracy.  Examples include:
            - Scrolls of Valor
            - Devotions of the Faithful (priest)
            - Blessing (priest)
    You could also make the fight significantly easier by also having sources of
        confusion.  Scrolls of Confusion work for this purpose, and both the
        wizard and cipher have multiple sources of confusion.
    You need all this because you effectively need to keep the Adra Dragon
        permanently disabled throughout the entire fight or else she *will*
        knock out much of your party in one go with either her breath or wing
        attack.  While it's possible to recover from this with revive effects,
        it can be ruinous and for myself--I always play for a zero-knockout
        challenge--a non-starter.
    From the start, you should have buff accuracy as much as you can in the
        first second or so and then use paralyze or confuse on the dragon.  If
        the debuff misses, just keep trying:  you don't need to reload the 
        game until the breath attack occurs.  Confusion at the start is
        preferable, because then the dragon has a high likelihood of using her
        breath attack on her allies, which can be a huge life-saver for you.
        At the very least, the annoying Delemgan will focus their attacks on
        the dragon.
    After you get an initial confuse or paralyze to land, the rest of the fight
        should be spent carefully monitoring the remaining duration of the
        respective affliction:  you never want the dragon to be not-confused or
        not-paralyzed for more than a second.  IMPORTANT DANGER:  there's a bug
        (as of 1.06) where if you use multiple Scrolls of Paralyze, it is
        possible that the dragon will become prematurely "unstuck" and be able
        to act, despite a paralyze debuff with active time remaining.  As such,
        _never_ use another paralyze effect on the dragon until the previous
        one has expired.
    Once you have the initial paralyze or confuse, use everything you have to
        bring down the dragon's will to approachable levels.  This will make it
        easier for future paralyze and confuses to hit.
    While doing that, you need to send off a tank to the bottom-right to deal
        with the swarms of Xaurips that are incoming.  Some powerful spells can
        clear them all out pretty quickly (Scrolls of Maelstrom help).  Don't
        let them stick around for too long; the skirmishers can paralyze and the
        priests can wreak havoc if left unmaintained for too long.  Confusion
        effects here can give you a lot of breathing room.  The Delemgan will
        cast Relentless Storm, so try to eliminate them quickly or else you'll
        find your party being repeatedly stunned.  Having a character who is a
        solid single-target damage dealer will be able to make quick work of
        them.  Delemgan also pose the danger that they can petrify your allies,
        so try to keep some form of Suppress Affliction or Prayer against
        Imprisonment handy.
    The rest of the battle should be a slow, pause-filled crawl of struggling to
        to keep the dragon frozen disabled while eliminating all the extra foes
        with enough efficiency that you can then focus all your attention on the
        dragon before all your ways of disabling/reducing will run out.

Alpine Dragon [White March only]
    In many ways similar to the Adra Dragon fight, except that you have a lot
        more additional foes to worry about.  Moreover, the Alpine Dragon is a
        lot more aggressive with breath attacks and area of effect attacks.
        Moreover, the additional foes appear almost instantly at the start of
        the fight, so you have less time to freely debuff the dragon.
    What worked well for me is to have a really tough tank run up to the dragon
        with the explicit intention of turning the dragon around and pointed
        away from the rest of your party, so that the breath/area of effect
        attacks aren't wiping you out.  Stock this tank up with healing potions
        so they can be relatively self-sufficient against the repeated breath
    Focus on wiping out all the additional foes, then when you have some
        breathing room set out and try to debuff the dragon as much as you can,
        as you would with the Adra Dragon.

Crystal Eater spider
    These guys have two really annoying characteristics:
        1.  They can petrify on hit.
        2.  They can cast Ninagauth's Freezing Pillar.
    Both of these things are awful.  Petrification can knock you out a tank
        pretty quickly.  Ninagauth's Freezing Pillar can wipe everyone out
        pretty quickly, and it also hobbles everyone, making it harder to
    When fighting these guys, a few things will go a long way to making things
        go your way.  Keep several casts of Suppress Affliction handy (priest,
        paladin, or spellbind item).  These can make sure your tank(s) stay
        unpetrified.  Prayers against Restraint and Imprisonment are useful,
        both proactively (for the +50 defense bonus to hobble and petrified) and
        reactively (for the duration reduction).  Prayer against Restraint can
        be had via a scroll, but Prayer against Imprisonment can only be gotten
        from a priest.
    It also helps to have fast ways to interrupt enemies.  Ranged attackers with
        high interrupt can be used to try and disrupt Crystal Eaters who want to
        cast Freezing Pillar.  There tends to be a huge window of opportunity
        since they take a while to walk to where they want to cast it.  Aside
        from that, you can also try to keep fast-ish casting spells like Slicken
        or Mental Binding to try and stop the cast before it can happen.  Melee
        interrupts don't work because Crystal Eaters will try to cast Freezing
        Pillar at range.
    Finally, for when Freezing Pillars do hit your party, make sure you're
        fighting in an area with lots of movement room.  If necessary, fallback
        the moment combat begins to escape narrow hallways in favor of larger
        open areas.  This way you can maneuver your party members out of the
        area of effect of active Freezing Pillars instead of letting them wrack
        up an extreme amount of damage.

Dank Spore and Sporelings
    Dank Spores have the tedious ability to confuse members of your party at
        will off a ranged attack.  As such, for your sanity's sake, start off
        every fight by backing away and trying to pull any Sporelings away from
        the Dank Spore so you can handle them separately.
    Then, when the Sporelings are gone, reveal as few Dank Spores as possible
        (only one if you can) and try to engage it at range.  In a couple areas
        the designers perversely put devastating traps near Dank Spores, so
        unless you've been able to de-trap them either before or during the
        fight, you should not chance the potential instant knockout.
    Disabling afflictions go a long way here.  If you can keep a Dank Spore in
        perpetual lockdown due to successive uses of paralyze or prone, this can
        prevent it from confusing important party members away.

Death Guard, Ancient [White March only]
    Tough as nails, but the worst part about them is the combination of their
        fear aura and their use of Clear Out.  The first will make it even
        harder to affect them, the latter can quickly knock your entire party
        prone, at which point these guys will take you out at their leisure.
    Best solution is to actually run in with a tank and confront them ahead of
        your party.  That way, at least if they Clear Out your tank, the rest of
        your party is unaffected.
    At the very least keep anyone with Suppress Affliction-type effects away so
        you can try to pull your party out of prone as fast as possible.

    Annoyingly, Fampyrs tend to be surrounded by paralyzing Darguls.  But the
        worst part of fighting a Fampyr is their ability to dominate a member of
        your party.  In fact, invariably a Fampyr will dominate a caster
        (generally a wizard or cipher) right at the start of the fight.  Even if
        you try to keep your caster far away, a Fampyr will either seek them out
        and hit them with their sinfully long range or just target the next
    As such, if you want to minimize how disruptive the domination is, you need
        to cast something like Prayer against Treachery or Circle of Protection
        _right_ at the start of the fight.  Suppress Affliction is also your
        friend here (not the paladin exhortation, since you need to be able to
        target foes).

Itemization                                                                !ite-
Not much to say here aside from what has already been covered in earlier
sections, except to focus on different kinds of enchantments that you can get
for your weapons.

Just to highlight a few that deserve explanation or highlighting:  reach, speed,
disorienting, and weapon change recovery.

    Quarterstaffs and pikes innately have a greater reach than other weapons.
The effect is that their melee range is large enough that you can stand behind
another party member and still attack an enemy.  This is actually a fairly
powerful effect.  At the very least, it means your squishier characters can
engage with melee weapons with relative safety, especially since two-handed
melee weapons tend to out-damage ranged weapons. 
    More importantly, this means that even your designed-for-melee characters
can get away with wearing less armor than normal if they can hide behind a
sturdy tank.  Less armor penalty means higher damage throughput.
    Do note that it's not all sunshine and roses.  Some enemies also have reach,
so sometimes what may seem "safe" is not actually safe, since while standing
behind a tank you can still get clobbered with melee attacks.  Ogres are a good
example of an enemy with significant melee range.

    Speed is a 1.2x attack speed boost which, as mentioned before, is treated as
a -.2 to your recovery speed modifier.  This is one of few ways in the game that
you can improve your recovery speed, so you should generally prize this on
weapons.  This has less of an impact on reloading weapons since the act of
reloading is so long that speed makes up less of a bonus, but the effect is
still good to have.

    Disorienting is an effect that triggers a -5 to all defenses debuff for a
short duration on any enemy that you at least graze.  The duration is affected
by intellect and notably the effect stacks with itself.  Meaning if you strike
an enemy repeatedly over a short time frame, you can increase the debuff to -10
or -15.  Notably, Scon Mica's Roar has this disorienting effect on a 
blunderbuss, and since each shot counts independently, you could potentially
cripple an enemy with -30 to all their defenses in one go.  With a high enough
intellect, you could make this effect long enough so that this makes successive
shots be very likely to land all 6 hits as well.  I've seen defense penalties
regularly hit -50 in sustained attack situations.  You can always tell how
many times you've stacked the effect by examining the tooltip for your weapon:
the description will update with the current effect strength.

    Exactly one weapon in the game features a bonus to your weapon change
recovery:  the belt "Coil of Resourcefulness."  It reduces it by one second.
This may sound like a modest boost, but coupled with the Fast Switch talent,
this will reduce your weapon switch recovery to 0 seconds.  (In buggy 2.01, it
actually reduces your recovery to negative time!)  This means that with good
timing, you can cancel out the recovery of _any_ action.  To really benefit you
need significant micromanagement skill, but it effectively obviates the concern
for recovery and weapon attack speeds.

Universal weapons                                                      !ite,uni-

As mentioned in various other sections, in 2.0/White March there is a new
"universal" type of weapon.  All summoned weapons and soulbound weapons are
considered "universal."

When a weapon is universal, it means that _any_ of the following talents will
apply to it, regardless of its base type:
    Weapon Focus
    Weapon Specialization
    Weapon Mastery
    priest's diety-specific +10 accuracy talents

It appears the main aim of this change was to ensure that despite there only
being a handful of soulbound weapons in the game, any character with any weapon
selection would be able to use the soulbound weapons at full strength.  So a
Priest of Skaen with the deity talent and Weapon Focus: Ruffian will get +16
accuracy with their weapons of choice, but they will also get that +16 accuracy
with universal weapons.

The side effect of this change is that it is now much easier to use summoned
weapons at full effect.  Before the change, summoned weapons acted like every
other weapon: you needed the specific talents to improve them, which could
potentially be a waste of a talent if your normal (non-summoned) weapons of
choice were in a different category.  Now you just need _any_ talent to buff the
power of your summoned weapons.  This can be particularly useful for a druid,
since with one Weapon Focus talent they will get a buff to their normal weapons
of choice, their shapeshifted form, their two summoned weapons (nominally base
types of a Great Sword and a Wand), and any soulbound weapons.


Traps                                                                      !tra-
Traps are an idiosyncratic bunch.  You get them either from disarming existing
traps or by paying close to an arm and a leg from an appropriate vendor.

The first thing to clarify is the mistaken first impression that traps are
seriously inaccurate, since all traps feature an accuracy _penalty_ that scales
higher the more powerful the trap is (as high as -40 or so).  However, what's
not indicated is that traps do not use _your_ accuracy; they use some sort of
environmental accuracy that is _super_ high.  So even with a modest -20 accuracy
or so, your traps can still have a net accuracy of ~110 or so.

The second thing to clarify is that _each_ character can set _one_ trap at a
time.  One person cannot set many traps, but across an entire party you can have
six traps; if you have priests you can have one additional seal per priest,
which offers additional trapping potential.

The final thing to clarify is that if you're used to traps from Baldur's Gate:
Enhanced Edition, Baldur's Gate 2 (vanilla or enhanced), or Icewind Dale:
Enhanced Edition, you're in for a downer.  Traps in Pillars of Eternity are not
the room-clearing machines from those games.  They can _kind_ of approximate the
effect if all six of your party members have some decent mechanics skill, but
it's hard to sustain the cashflow needed to have six dedicated trappers (though
you can still do this for particularly hard fights).

So there are really a few ways to use traps:
    - Save up your traps for a big fight, at which point all six of your party
      members lay them down in a cluster to channel enemies through.
    - Use one or two traps periodically as you fight, treating them as a free
      spell of sorts at the start of the fight that doesn't cost an action.
    - Lay a defensive trap in front of relatively immobile party members, to
      head off any foes seeking to engage them.  Boiling Spray and Gaze of the
      Adragon trap are best suited for this.

In general, I don't think any approach is necessarily better than the others.
If you have a steady supply of cash, a hybrid of the first two may work:  use
your cheaper traps from your best mechanics member (or two) for modest fights,
but then bust out all the big guns from all your party members when a big fight
is brewing.

Because traps are likely to crit (especially priest seals), traps that have some
debuffing component are probably the most powerful.  Individually, trap damage
numbers are low so the impact on a fight is muted.  In aggregate the damage can
be impactful.  However, even just a single debuff from a trap can be impactful.
Gaze of the Adragon is especially noteworthy here as a critical hit
petrification effect can immediately turn the tide of battle.  But even a simple
weaken effect (from a Poison Dart trap) can be pivotal if it means that critical
spells can land due to the enemy's lowered defenses.


Appendix                                                                   !app-
Special thanks                                                         !app,spe-

To all the hard-working nerds on the Pillars of Eternity forums who have helped
dig up all sorts of information on the mechanics of action speed.

To all the kickstarters and Obsidian for bringing PoE to life.

And my wife for putting up with my nerding out when I got my backer's cloth map
in the mail.

Version history                                                        !app,ver-

2015/12/28 v1.5
    General grammatical and spelling fixes.
    com,eng-:  new section
    tal-:  adding note about "universal" weapon type
    qui-:  updating Fighter's new higher deflection
    mor,dru-:  adding note about "universal" weapon type
    mor,fig-:  adding note about "universal" weapon type
    mor,pal-:  extended discussion on Zealous Charge
    mor,pal-:  info on area of effect for certain effects
    mor,pri-:  adding note about "universal" weapon type
    mor,wiz-:  fixing Merciless Gaze number
    mor,wiz-:  removing reference to Singed Grimoire
    mor,wiz-:  note about "universal" weapon type
    mor,wiz-:  notes about reach for wizard's summoned melee weapons
    mor,wiz-:  adding bug note about Withdraw
    ite-:  section about reach
    ite,uni-:  new section
    tra-:  new section

2015/10/26 v1.4
    General grammatical and syntax fixes.
    sta-:  some revisions to notes
    tal-:  some revisions to notes, especially for Fast Switch
    mor,bar-:  corrections about Carnage, more notes
    mor,cha-:  note about high-level problem, some notes.
    mor,cip-:  note adjustment for Borrowed Instrinct
    tro-:  note adjustment for Adra/Alpine Dragons.
    ite-:  formatting adjustment

2015/10/20 v1.3
    mor,cha-:  removing stuff about force-switching chants
    mor,pal-:  adding notes about paladin orders
    mor,wiz-:  corrections about how deflection stacks

2015/09/30 v1.2
    More stuff for White March/2.0.
    mor,cha-:  section about the high-level power curve.
    mor,cha-:  adding note about level 4 chants.
    mor,cip-:  revising note about power limitations.
    mor,cip-:  Wild Leech revision due to perception buff.
    mor,pri-:  domination/charm appear to be addressed by Suppress Affliction
        and Prayer against Treachery.
    mor,rog-:  highlighting Sap.
    mor,wiz-:  note for Llengrath's Warding taff.
    mor,wiz-:  note for Ninagauth's Shadowflame.
    sta-:  revising notes about perception.

2015/09/28 v1.1
    Minor updates for White March/2.0:
    tal-:  adding notes for a couple cross-class talents.s
    mor,cip-:  revised note about Mental Binding.
    mor,cip-:  adding Time Parasite.
    mor,dru-:  adding Nature's Bounty.
    mor,pal-:  adding more about exhortations.
    mor,wiz-:  adding note about unique spells.
    sta-:  updating note about perception.
    tro-:  adding note for Alpine Dragon.
    tro-:  adding note for Ancient Death Guard.
    ite-:  adding note about Coil of Resourcefulness.

2015/08/07 v1.0
    Adding Adra Dragon to troublesome foes
    New sections:  sta- and aff- and ite- and app,all-.
    tal-:  adding note for Interrupting Blows.
    mor,cip-:  Psychovampiric Shield note.

2015/08/01 v0.9
    Adding troublesome foes section.
    qui-:  monk is on its on endurance/health tier, fighter/paladin are on a
        slightly lower tier.
    mor,cip-:  adding extra note to Amplified Wave.
    not,cip-:  adding note for Disintegration.
    mor,pri- mor,cip-:  Borrowed Instinct and Devotions of the Faithful clash
        only on the accuracy buff.
    mor,pri-:  Suppress Affliction does not target enemies (d'oh).

2015/07/15 v0.8
    Initial incomplete version submitted.

All works                                                              !app,all-

1999 Mode Guide (Bioshock Infinite)
Clash in the Clouds Guide (Bioshock Infinite:  Clash in the Clouds DLC)
Heart of Fury Guide (Icewind Dale 2)
Party Creation Guide (Baldur's Gate)
Party Creation Guide (Baldur's Gate:  Enhanced Edition)
Mechanics and Character-Building Guide (Dragon Age: Inquisition)
Populous II Guide (Populous II)
Thief Guide (Baldur's Gate 2)
Ultimate Analysis (System Shock 2)
Ultimate Oblivion FAQ (The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion)


The Stinger
Thaos:  "Have your friends proven a worthy distraction from the pain of

Hiravias:  "Ostracism?  Is that the name for the groin rash your mother
    gave me?"

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