Monday, May 30, 2011

Neverwinter Nights 2 - Original Campaign - Companions

Neverwinter Nights 2 - Original Campaign - Companions

This is one of a series of walkthroughs/hints for Neverwinter Nights 2 (Original Campaign). Click here for a listing of all our guides for Neverwinter Nights 2.

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Unless you use the Console, it is to your benefit to reach the various Companions as soon as possible since their development and feat choices aren't all that great. If you do use the Console, there's no hurry since you can rollback their development and re-level them with good feat choices.

Getting to spellcasters early and giving them appropriate Crafting feats is important if you want the full array of crafting to be at your disposal. If you don't want to bother with the cumbersome system, there are interesting alternatives.

To maximize seeing Companion dialogues and influencing them, you may want to use either the Console and the Party Roster menu option (if you have the Storm of Zehir expansion) to bring in all your companions. You can tell some companions to just stand around doing nothing while you run with a smaller team or even go solo. No matter how far away Companions are on the map, they can still participate in dialogue. You get the same XP award for kills whether you have 1 or 10 companions with you (you only get more if your main character is solo far enough away from any companions) -- see our notes on quirks around gaining XP in Neverwinter Nights 2.

Amie Fern
  • Her Mage Armor spell is useful for protecting low-AC main characters. Use it on your main character and Bevil before approaching the Tarmas/Githyanki encounter.
  • For the attack on West Harbor, if the Duergar and Bladelings are in combat with militia, use Scorching Ray set to multiple targets, as it will only attack still-alive creatures automatically, and the no-save damage pretty much guarantees you a kill on each ray unless the encounter is too far to be triggered (in which case the creature takes no damage but is alerted to your location and comes for you).
  • Amie dies halfway through West Harbor under siege, so don't waste scrolls to teach her spells.
Bevil Starling
  • Bevil's strength isn't high enough to properly benefit from Knockdown (the feat Recommended if you press the Recommend button), so instead go for Cleave, and then either Weapon Specialization (Longsword) or Great Cleave. Either will help him mow down duergar quickly in West Harbor.
  • Bevil can reappear at Crossroad Keep in Act III if you talk to him prior to going to the Ruins of Arvahn toward the end of Act II, but he is no longer a Companion.
  • Kipp does not appear after the Tutorial. If you want to recover the trap on the logs, you might as well give him Skill Focus (Disarm Device) to maximize your chances.
Khelgar Ironfist
  • Aim for Great Cleave early -- At low levels, it's fairly easy to get multiple kills because the opponents are still weak and Khelgar's damage bonus is strong. At higher levels, you can still get multiple kills if you've softened up the opposition with an area effect spell.
  • You can get Tower Shields at the Weeping Willow Inn. In general, Khelgar will have enough of an Attack Bonus to make the -2 Attack Penalty associated with Tower Shields still worthwhile to carry, although against certain opponents you may want more reliable hits or want to rely more on Power Attacks.
    • Note that the penalty on Tower Shields does NOT apply to ranged combat, so if he is using a thrown weapon (e.g., darts or throwing axe), he can also carry a Tower Shield and not be penalized on his attack rolls.
  • Since he starts with Toughness and doesn't have a strong Dex for Dexterity-related feats, you could aim for excellence in saving throws with Iron Will, Steadfast Determination, and Indomitable Soul.
  • There is a Dwarf-only warhammer (the Hammer of Ironfist) much later in the game, so you can give him feats toward using that, unless you want to level him as a Monk later anyway (in doing so, you redo his levelling completely from level 1).
  • His high Strength gives him a high melee combat Attack Bonus, so you may be tempted to give him Monkey Grip and use a big weapon. In general, using Power Attack is probably the better way to go to increase damage output rather than spending an extra feat.
  • If he becomes a Monk, things get interesting. He doesn't really have the stats to be a very good Monk, but as Monk with the Monk's running speed bonuses, he can now literally run out of trouble -- when spellcasters use are effect spells, they generally target locations instead of characters. You can therefore start running when a spell is cast and be safely out of the effective area of effect before it lands.
  • Try to get Neeshka early as she can develop Appraise as a Class Skill. Sacrifice some of her skills in order to max out her Appraise if you are not going to develop the skill yourself. Whether it will outdo having no skill but the Merchant's Friend feat over the length of the campaign is debatable, however, since you can get Appraise bonuses from items, and indirectly through stat and skill bonuses from spells and Bard Inspirations.
  • One of the ways you can use Neeshka in combat is to keep her stealthed, then attract the attention of the enemy with another character (e.g., Khelgar). When they run past Neeshka, stop your bait character and have them and Neeshka attack. Neeshka should be able to get in a Sneak Attack right away.
  • You can also give her a bow to Sneak Attack from a distance. The valid Sneak Attack range with a ranged weapon is approximately half the length of an indoor tile, so after her first shot in combat, move her in closer.
  • If she is being chased (or you let her be chased), you can try running her around your other party members. Hopefully her Tumble is high enough that she can avoid Attacks of Opportunity while giving the other party members Attacks of Opportunity on the pursuer.
    • This tactic works quite well with other characters if there aren't any other enemies around.
    • This tactic works because the game AI does not update instantaneously but instead only every few seconds, so once a creature has targeted another, it will run through dangerous situations and other enemies until the AI updates its targeting. Note that this will work against you if you let the AI run your character -- so pay attention!
  • Once she's around level 6 and higher, her Sneak Attacks (especially if she has Two-Weapon Fighting) really make her a powerhouse, almost more so than any other melee character.
    • Even in the pen-and-paper version of Dungeons and Dragons, Rogues are classed as damage dealers -- moreso than Fighters, who are mostly in a party-defense role.
    • You can lay down Darkness (but all targets get 20% Concealment and her innate Darkvision does not pierce it) or put a Greater Invisibility on her to score Sneak Attacks without having to hide.
    • In general, she will automatically switch to nearby targets that she can Sneak Attack instead of being locked on a particular target unless you are controlling her directly.
  • If you get to her late, she could have feats like Dodge and Mobility, which can help in casting (you can have the AC bonus from Combat Expertise on, or use Defensive Casting, but not both at the same time).
  • Her Animal Companion basically works out to a free character. Unsummon it before it dies so that you do not have to wait until after you rest to resummon. Instead, you only have to wait for the cooldown period to be over before you resummon, and it will arrive fully healed.
  • Read her spells very carefully -- some are very good because they discriminate between allies and enemies (e.g., Call Lightning) and if you play with full Dungeons and Dragons rules (area effects can hurt allies), this can make a huge difference.
  • Barkskin is an easy early game buff for the entire party (or just the front-liners).
  • I recommend completely re-levelling her, especially if you find her late enough that she has Dodge and Natural Spell. Change Combat Casting (feat 7) to Skill Focus (Concentration) (feat 173) and go for Zen Archery (use Wisdom for ranged combat instead of Dexterity) and Persistent Spell. Possibly stop development of one skill and pick up Spellcraft instead, for the bonus to save against spells.
  • If she is the primary healer in the party (and for much of the early game she may well be, until you get Grobnar for out-of-combat healing with his Inspire Regeneration), you may consider putting at least 4 points into Heal and get the Augment Healing feat (feat 1090). You could also then stop developing one of her skills (maybe Lore, since you'll get Grobnar later) and develop Heal more fully for emergencies.
  • Animal shapes are largely unimpressive. Try them out, but the alternative uses of shapechanging (Elephant's Hide and Oaken Resilience) are better -- BUT only in the early game.
    • Both of these can be activated as "free actions" (you can even activate them while the game is paused).
    • Neither are critical if you have good magic items, and you may therefore instead want to instead invest in Crafting early, especially if your main character is not a spellcaster. You won't get another spellcaster until Qara, and she's better kept as a battlefield asset due to her spellcasting flexibility.
    • You could also invest in Extend Spell (and ultimately, Persistent Spell) and Empower Spell as her attack spells are on-par with those of sorcerers and wizards.
  • If you are into the Crafting System, she can cast Cure Critical Wounds starting at level 9, and with the Craft Magical Arms and Armor feat can imbue weapons with the Holy Weapon (+2d6 damage versus Evil) attribute. This is a very good power as you are mostly fighting bad guys. Also, it takes the guesswork out of whether a diabolic-looking creature is a demon or a devil (both of which require different types of weapon materials to bypass their significant Damage Resistance).
  • Qara makes a great tactical combat spellcaster because of her flexibility in her spell roster -- sorcerers do not need to memorize and fix their spell choices for the day. We develop her with that in mind.
  • She starts at level 1 with Spell Focus (Evocation) (feat 169) and Improved Spell Focus (Evocation) (feat 397) feats. This is a very restrictive way to go as these feats are limited to one spell school and you don't have that many feats to spend; also, you only get DC +2. I recommend using the Console to take off these feats and instead give her Spellcasting Prodigy (feat 1114) and Skill Focus (Concentration) (feat 173; instead of Combat Casting (feat 7)). Then, choose spells which do not rely on Saving Throws and get her Spell Penetration feats.
  • Fairly early, go for the Silent Spell metamagic feat. Obviously this helps you in the late game against possible silence effects used against you, but even in the early game, it can help a sorcerer a lot because it expands your ability to cast a certain spell many more times a day. For example, if you are out of level 1 spells but would like to cast more Magic Missiles (one of the few auto-hit no-save magical damage spells), you can turn on Silent Spell and use your level 2 spell slots. Real level 2 spells can do more damage, but are not always preferable because of hit rolls required (even if they are Ranged Touch Attacks, which ignore Armor, Natural Armor, and Shield bonuses) or saving throws allowed (characters with Evasion would, for example, completely avoid damage on a successful Reflex save).
    • For similar reasons, go for Empower Spell. It takes up a spell slot two levels higher, but has the side effect of increasing damage as well. 
    • If you can get by without a lot of spells, skip Silent Spell and go straight for Empower.
  • Definitely get Empower Spell at some point because arcane magic has many big area big damage spells and you can hit hordes with 100+ damage (if they fail their save) in one go. In the late game, you will need this to offset being swarmed and the fact that it will be rare to see an AC will be high enough against the rate at which fighter-type adversaries gain Attack Bonuses. You can expect to face Attack Bonuses at 100% to 150%+ of your level, depending on whether you are facing rogues or fighters.
    Grobnar Gnomehands
    • One of the most useful support characters to have -- spell buffs plus strong offensive spells plus infinite free Inspiration buffs. Sonic damage spells are very strong in Neverwinter Nights 2 because there aren't that many creatures with resistance to it (aside from general Spell Resistance).
    • The Silent Spell trick with Qara doesn't work on Grobnar because NONE of the Bard spells can be cast with that metamagic feat. Grobnar can take the feat, but it is useless for his Bard spells. He can, however, take Extend Spell (as could Qara) and there are some attack spells that can have their duration extended.
    • Most of his spells are curses or buffs of some kind, and he also has the Sorcerer's flexibility in choosing spells, so aim for Persistent Spell or at least Extend Spell (e.g., to give Neeshka extended Greater Invisibility to help her Sneak Attack).
    • Bards automatically get various songs, so extending those to expand his repetoire of buffs is also a good idea. You can further pile on area effect buffs and debuffs to change the battlefield. Extra Song or Lingering Song isn't as useful because he starts at a decent level and you may find yourself using spells more than songs.
    • Archers like to go for Grobnar, so get him the Archer's Belt from Simmy at the Old Owl Well, and turn on Ghostly Visage. This way, he can stay close in melee to buff everyone else with his Inspirations or throw out a healing spell. He is lousy in melee and you really don't want enemies getting too many Attacks of Opportunity on him when he shoots, so you may want to give him the best Boots of Tumbling you have and run him around to make enemies chase past your other characters, giving them Attacks of Opportunity (same strategy as with early-game Neeshka).
    • By the time you get Casavir he will probably be 10th level. Which doesn't matter so much because he's a straightforward character in terms of feat choices and skill options.
    • Casavir's first-level feats are Power Attack and Weapon Focus (Warhammer). Unfortunately, the best hammer in the game is Dwarf-only, and there aren't that many other interesting ones available. The powerful Paladin-only Holy Avenger available in Act III is a longsword, but only if you build the Temple of Tyr in Crossroad Keep, and you are yourself a Paladin in order to get the required quest (good Clerics on the Path of the Holy quest get a different item). So it's not particularly important to change his Weapon Focus, but I would have aimed for Great Cleave early instead (rather than limiting his weapon choices so early in the game).
    • Not a lot of feats here to choose from if you are re-levelling. You may want to aim for Extra-Smiting, Blind-Fight, and Great Cleave (in whatever order you like).
      • If you go for Great Cleave, then Divine Might can help you get kills and extend your Cleaving.
      • He does fine with just a light shield (a good option is the +2 Charisma from Dwarven Mirth, from the Eyegouger Clan area) so Divine Shield is not really an early priority.
    • There have been reports of Bishop's feat progression being bugged and his having Ranger Two-Weapon Fighting feats and Longbow feats. If this happens, you can use the console to fix him. Otherwise, his feat progression will probably be fine.
    • Although he is best with a longbow given his supporting feats, his Ranger Archery Combat Style will work fine with all other ranged weapons he can use, including thrown weapons (and crossbows, but only if you also have Rapid Reload if you want to use Rapid Shot). If you are worried about his Armor Class, especially if he gets rushed and ends up in melee, you can have him switch to darts or throwing axe plus shield.
    • If you are re-levelling him from scratch, I suggest getting Weapon Finesse around level 12 (when his Dexterity bonus will exceed his Strength bonus) so his hand-to-hand combat can also benefit from increasing his Dexterity. With his remaining feats, you might consider Blind-Fight (all fighters should definitely consider this feat as the re-roll chance against Concealment cannot be gained any other way) or Dash to help him keep his distance from melee characters.
    • If re-levelling and changing his feats, if you are thinking about switching him to use the Heavy Crossbow, be aware of the tradeoffs and the required Rapid Reload feat (e.g., maximum three shots per round). If you are thinking of going with a thrown weapon for his Combat Style, you may want to invest in the Tower Shield feat as the attack penalty for Tower Shields does not apply to ranged combat.
    • He isn't as useful a stealth character as Neeshka, so you might want to strip him of his Boots of Elvenkind and give them to Neeshka. You will later find a Cloak of Elvenkind in the Githyanki Base, which will further help Neeshka sneak about and disarm traps before rejoining the party to coordinate attacks on enemy placements. Even with both, you may want to further improve Neeshka's ability to Stealth.
    • Shandra starts with modest Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence so she will not be particularly strong in might or finesse. Her initial feats of Weapon Focus (Short Sword) and Weapon Finesse suggests we are meant to make her a finesse fighter using two Short Swords.
      • If you get her at level 12, she will also have developed Spring Attack, which suggests heading for Whirlwind Attack -- she will need just one point of Intelligence for Combat Expertise and Whirlwind Attack.
      • If you re-level her and also get her Greater Weapon Focus, you can get as far as Improved Two-Weapon Fighting, making her pretty decent one-on-one.
      • Her spread-out stats and ability to reach for Whirlwind Attack opens an interesting option of exploiting Whirlwind Attack (Whirlwind Attack ignores Monkey Grip and Two-Weapon Fighting penalties). You can re-levelling her and change her Weapon Finesse and Weapon Focus (Short Sword) for a two-handed weapon, such as a Scythe (for x4 criticals) or Falchion (18-20 critical range). Put 1 point of attribute gain into Intelligence, and the rest into Strength.
      • If you re-level her, you can also enhance her saving throws (like with Khelgar) and take advantage of her 16 Constitution with Toughness and Steadfast Determination.
    • She won't be around in Act III, but will reach approximately level 18 and is good fun to play around with in terms of feats.
        • Sand may be as high as level 12 when you reach him. This is too bad because as a wizard he has the opportunity to be one of the most useful magic item Crafters for your party -- unlike a sorcerer, he can learn more spells from scrolls and therefore create lots of different items.
        • If your main character is not a wizard, you may want to re-level Sand to have both the Craft Wondrous Item and Craft Magical Arms and Armor feats by around levels 6-12. After all, he runs a magical shop making potions and trinkets, so he really should have something in that direction.
        • The opportunity to get a very wide range of spells also gives you an excellent opportunity to get Persistent Spell and let him buff your main character to go solo in fights and get (slightly) more XP. To relieve the tedium of casting several spells in sequence, get the Rod of Preparation.
        • If you have scouted ahead and know exactly what is coming, you can tailor Sand's memorized spells to the situation. When you already have a solid plan for how to tackle an encounter, spellcasters with many spell options shine because you can choose spells that require saving throws the targets are weak to, and you have a wider variety of buffs to put on fighters.
        • Zhjaeve will probably be level 15 by the time you get her, and with a variety of metamagic feats. Like Sand, this means you won't be able to use her as a magic item crafter until much later when you can give her the appropriate feats, unless you re-level her.
        Ammon Jerro
        • Probably the only character you won't have to re-level although his choice of Incantations is debatable. Pretty decent feat choices here by the time you get him (around Level 18). He just needs a lot of gear. His initial gear is probably better off redistributed as he won't need to be a front-liner anymore.
        • Since Warlocks have unlimited uses of their spells every day, you will probably want to him throw on invisibility as often and as soon as possible.
        • You may want to consider relevelling the Construct because it appears in the late game with lousy skills and some feats that go nowhere (e.g., Mobility).
        • The Construct basically tanks, so you can use Khelgar's levelling scheme. Since it cannot use any equipment and can only have its main hand weapon, you could also relevel with an aim to get Whirlwind Attack.

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