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Free (1 Bronze Talents) - Potion Brewing, Rising Moon
Skip (1 Bronze Talents) - Monster Lore
Skip (4 Silver Talents) - Knowledge of the Cleansing Ritual, Ingredient Extraction, Knowlege of the Life Ritual, Magic Frenzy
Low Priority (1 Gold) - Mental Endurance
Free from the Prologue.
Free in Chapter 2.
Get this talent to start collecting herbs as soon as possible. You'll probably want at least Cat potions, and you'll want to make the free talent potions. You could buy all your ingredients from vendors, however, but at just 1 Bronze Talent, and just for the free ingredients to make emergency potions, this is a great early investment.
If you want to reduce time collecting ingredients from plants, you can use these mods to increase plant yields:
You can get the same information in Chapter 1 by reading books. Money is not really an issue when you can make money with easy fist-fighting, selling herbs, or killing monsters and selling monster ingredients.
To short-cut the process of getting money, you can use the genie in the "Many Items" mod to give you 10,000 gold as many times as you like.
Even as late as the start of the Epilogue, you do not need Potions, Oils, or Bombs in combat (on Hard difficulty), so this is low priority unless you insist on melee. If you do engage in melee a lot, then oils can be useful, and you can stack it with other temporary weapon enhancements like whetstones.
Our personal preference is to use the Signs to do massive damage or set up the enemy for a killing blow -- neither of which requires a lot of actual sword damage. Where it could be useful is if you run out of ways to reduce an enemy's health while making them vulnerable to Aard.
Killing lots of dogs in Chapters 2 and 3 will let you collect a lot of Dog Tallow, which counts as top quality (5-ingredient) blade bases.
If you do delay taking this talent, then cache all the whetstones and temporary runes you come across.
Knowledge of the Cleansing Ritual
If you can make White Honey and Golden Oriole, then this is a poor substitute as you need to find a Place of Power to use, and often it is better to use the Ritual of Magic for the massive Sign Intensity bonus.
You will either grind through so many monsters that it won't matter, or you can substitute the ingredients with harvested plants. Where this talent can help is to relieve some of the tediousness of collecting monster components for contracts. Overall, unimportant.
A very interesting alternative to Signs -- For a single Talent, you get access to a lot of spell-like effects. They don't last as long as Signs and you can't improve their Intensity, but you can replace development in many Signs with just one Silver Talent. Also, you are not reliant on Endurance, which further makes unnecessary the development of many Sign-based talents--A veritable arsenal can be prepared ahead of time as long as you can find/buy enough appropriate powders.
I recommend taking Bomb Preparation instead of any development of Axii, or the area-effect power-up Aard, both of which leave you vulnerable during the charge-up phase. Instead, you can safely drop a King and Queen (only three ingredients needed) or a Samum (four ingredients).
Stun from Samum is less powerful than a high-powered Aard and will probably be useless at scoring a long enough Stun for a Finishing Move on some of the stronger enemies in the game, unless it is significantly weakened.
Dragon's Dream is an interesting bomb because it releases harmless gas to start, and you can drop several in the same location before moving away to ignite it with Igni.
Definitely get this as it appears to help with the duration of Aard critical effects, and that can make the difference between being able to perform a Finishing Move. Also, any extension on the already powerful Incineration effect of Igni is just overkill.
Knowledge of the Life Ritual
The increase in healing rate stacks with other sources, but if you can get to a Place of Power you can probably get to a fireplace to meditate.
Only a mild increase in Intensity if you are willing to let your Vitality go down to dangerously low levels. Skip this in favour of using tactics that won't compromise your Vitality so much. Also, using any sort of healing reduces the likelihood of your getting any benefit from this talent.
Like Added Endurance, this talent helps you cast more spells without waiting for Endurance to recover. If you get one, get both for maximum benefit. Otherwise, this has low priority since you can just use Tawny Owl.
No point not getting this. If you use any Sign with any frequency, try to maximize Intensity.