Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Beyond Divinity Unofficial Elite Hardcore Strategy Guide - Character Generation

Click here for a list of our Beyond Divinity Elite Hardcore Strategy Guide posts.

We recommend you buy Beyond Divinity from Good Old Games (GOG) as you can get more prompt support. Also, it is an older game, and GOG offers a risk-free money-back guarantee.

Character Generation
We build and play our characters to use the minimum number of resources -- that is, no potions or other emergency/expendable resources unless necessary. Obviously for convenience you can use them like water since there are literally hundreds to acquire. Normal Arrows are also so plentiful (you end up with literally thousands after Act 1, possibly over 10000) that we can use them, although whenever possible we will not -- just because we're stingy that way.

We recommend a custom character to start, with all stats zero (yes, zero) except Constitution 10 and Agility 4.
  • Constitution also gives you Stamina, which also gives you:
    • You can fight for an extended amount of time while Sneaking, and may regularly do so in order to pull less enemies.
      • When you run out of Stamina while sneaking, you move very slowly, probably too slowly to escape back into hiding or retreat from other enemies while still Sneaking.
    • The ability to run farther, longer.
      • This saves you a heck of a lot of time as you traverse the game's vast geography.
      • It can let you outrun an enemy, getting you out of a suddenly bad situation.
      • Do not count on chasing down an enemy until they run out of stamina and start walking, since more often than not they will just lead you through enemy lines and archer fire. Some enemies also seem to have a stupid amount of stamina and can run a very long distance.
    • You can use Whirlwind Attack several times. Sometimes on Hardcore difficulty you will be swarmed because enemies are doubled. Sometimes you will want to be swarmed to clear out enemies quickly.
    • Most importantly, you can Sneak for a long time and scout deeply.
      • Instead of blundering into the enemy and just reacting, scout first and take the initiative.
      • You can fight most encounters in Sneak mode, reducing the number of enemies you pull toward you.
  • Agility helps you hit. We are not looking to acquire a lot of Evasion.
    • Evasion helps you dodge hits, but Evasion is limited and in any case useless against magical attacks that either always hit or are area effect so they don't need targeting.
    • Evasion is pretty costly to acquire through stat points so we won't initially look at getting a lot of Speed to increase Evasion.
  • Agility increases damage with key weapons (Guide page 489).
    • Same with Strength, but the derived stats you get from Agility are much more useful than merely being able to carry more gear.
    • You can further leverage your investment in Agility with the Sharpen Weapon skill -- Knives are your best weapon, followed by Spears. Bows are superior to both because you can snipe easily in this game.
An interesting alternative is to develop the Death Knight aggressively as a Wizard and sink points into Intelligence for aggressive spellcasting AND tanking support in combat: A deep Mana pool means a lot of consecutive Healing spells are possible while the Hero keeps whacking at the boss enemy (or tough, hard-hitting enemy) unmolested.
Even without a lot of Mana, this is a viable strategy in the game when you encounter enemies that are unexpectedly strong and/or hardy, such as the Arena Cell Ghosts or Gargoyles in Act 1.
Since we are playing Hardcore difficulty with minimal resources, we used wizardry as a secondary attack only as drinking Mana potions was to be avoided. Therefore our character builds were Agility-fighter with magic secondary.

Obviously there are alternate ways to get a combat-viable character, such as using Warrior skills to get bonuses to weapon use. However, by carefully building a character with good stats, you can instead save a lot of Skill Points for optional skills such as Pickpocket and Lockpicking instead of constantly unlearning and relearning skills.

As you gain levels, aim for:
  • Enough Intelligence to cast Heal (58 Mana) once or maybe twice. In general, you should have tactics and patience (or Sleeping) to not get yourself into so much trouble that you need to heal more than once in combat, or at all.
  • More and more Agility.
    • For the Deathknight, leave Strength at 0 for a long time because the only armor that requires it will be belts. Later in the game, depending on Agility-based weapon stat requirements, a bit of Strength may be necessary depending on your luck at acquiring weapons. Your benchmarks are 4, 9, and 16 -- the basic requirements for bows and staves.
    • For the Hero, you can get away with 0 Strength for a long time as well but you will miss being able to wear some armour (Guide page 368+) along the way.
      • That said, armour Strength requirements are ridiculous -- some pieces have requirements in the 20's and 30's in exchange for increased Durability, but apparently provide the same protection as a no-Strength-requirement version of the item.
      • Aim for around 16-20 to be able to use most of the Agility-based gear and some set item armor.
    • Strength of course increases damage for most weapons in some way, but so does Agility. And combined with [Warrior > Craftsmanship > Sharpen Weapon], keeping your Agility high means you can outpace most other weapons while getting the benefits of other Agility derived stats.
      • With Sharpen Weapon and specialization in Agility, even a Kitchen Knife (after Agility bonus) can be one of your best weapons, on top of having no Strength requirement and extremely low Accuracy / Speed / Initiative penalties.
      • Strength of around 9-16 should be good enough to use the better Bows, which cannot be Sharpened. But if you develop a deep enough Mana pool with Intelligence, you shouldn't need ranged weapons once we get some cheesy Nature spells and can afford a deeper Mana pool in the mid-game (around late Act 2 or Act 3).
    • Your first target number is 65: (40 to use a Ranaar Dagger or Ranaar Spear) + (25 for Sharpen level 5), which is the highest level you can learn in the main game. Since you are unlikely to get either of these, you can probably leave Agility at 40-50 for now and work on Strength if necessary, some Health, then Intelligence.
    • After this, your next Agility target number will depend on what weapon you want to use. Enchanted weapons can often have a much higher Required Agility than the unenchanted versions.
  • 200 Vitality, although you can get away with not developing this for a long time.
    • 200 is the target number because 1 level of [Wizard > Body Magic > Defensive > Healing] restores 200 Vitality over several seconds.
    • Because it restores Vitality over time, you may want to consider adding a second level of Healing instead of more Vitality. It will heal more Vitality than your maximum Vitality, but in an intense fight, as you are healing enemy damage is taken off the 400 total, so you will in effect have more than 200 maximum Vitality shortly after you cast.
  • About 116 Mana, to cast level 1 Healing twice in combat. Increase this to 180-360 if you want to cast maximum-power Paralysis in Act 2. Work towards to 308+ in Act 3 so that you can cast some of the more powerful [Wizard > Shaman Magic].
    • In the early game we will not relying much on magic primarily as that can force us to start drinking too many Mana Potions in mundane combat. Instead, concentrate on tactics to divide and conquer whenever possible and use melee first, magic as backup, bows if you have to (since arrows are expendable compared to Mana, which regenerates).
    • You should still get Focused Attack in Act 1 to level 5 in order to shoot at things through obstacles.
      • It always hits when you have a target selected, so it is more reliable than arrows, which automatically miss if the target moves sideways (and therefore has a good chance of missing no matter your Accuracy if the enemy is running); and which are stopped by cover.
    • If you are exploiting the Battlefield then get it high quickly so that you can learn the powerful and cheesy area effect spells in Act 2 and start using those right away.
Permanent Stat Boosts
  • Throughout the game there are permanent stat boosts that you can use on either the Hero or the Deathknight. I recommend concentrating on the Hero so that they have excess points to increase Strength to 40-50 and use all gear. Also, after the main game, you won't have the Death Knight with you if you want to continue playing in the Battlefields.
Act 1
+1 Survival (Guide page 28)
+60 Vitality (Guide page 36)

Act 2
+60 Mana (Guide page 129)
+3 Luck to both characters (Guide page 106)
+7 Intelligence (Guide page 112 -- apparently NOT permanent? Bugged?)
+0 permanent potion using Holy Water (Guide page 99) - theoretically possible but you cannot learn Alchemy to the required level 4 in the main game

Act 3
+1 Constitution (Guide page 175 - reward from Rebel Elder)
+1 Survival (Guide page 170)

Act 4
+7 Intelligence (Guide page 202 -- apparently NOT permanent? Bugged?)
+60 Mana (Guide page 222)
+60 Vitality Constitution (Guide page 222)
+25 Stamina (Guide page 222)
+1 Constitution (Guide page 222)
+0 Permanent Restoration Potion (Guide page 246 -- Apparently does nothing permanent. Bugged?)
+60 Mana (Guide page 246)

Initial Skills
  • If you accept our recommendation to use the Battlefield in only a very limited way, then consider going with Warrior/Warrior to get access to [Warrior > Craftsmanship > Repair] right away.
    • It is otherwise only available very late in Act 1.
    • You only get it up to 2 levels, but that is good enough till you can learn it to 5 levels in late Act 1.
    • On the other hand most of the item drops are the same type of weak item, so you can just keep swapping with new weapon drops until you get the Repair skill.
  • Otherwise, go with:
    • Wizard/Wizard if you want access [Wizard > Body Magic > Defensive > Healing] at the very start of the game.
      • Limited benefit except if you want to keep your Constitution low to begin with, and may therefore have trouble with Fergus.
    • Survivor/anything to get the important [Survival > Thieving > Sneak] skill early on, as well as the useful [Survival > Thieving > Poison] skill.
    • Except for Repair, you can learn everything you need fairly early in the game.
Experience Optimization
We will not be trying to optimize experience gain in a complicated way. For example, since quest XP is fixed, it is worth more when your character is at a higher level because if you can keep your level low, you can possibly get more XP from creatures. This is too much work to really try to optimize, so we won't. Your results should still be roughly the same whether you do this or not.

  • Sneak reduces an enemy's detection radius (red area around enemies when your party is Sneaking) to [normal radius / (sneak level + 1)]. There is therefore diminishing returns when you get more levels, but some enemies have a very wide detection radius. At least 1 level is recommended against enemies that shoot or cast spells in Act 1.
  • You pretty much want to start Sneaking when there might be ranged enemies. This lets you check where they are and decide on your strategy. Very quickly the game starts with potentially overwhelming archer support and you will need either a lot of band aids (vitality potions) or good strategies. Sneaking is one of the ways to force them in to melee before they can fire (see our notes on Archers and Skeleton Mages in Act 1).
  • Also, you may want to Sneak even when fighting enemies as it helps to isolate them so you can fight them one at a time. Having a high Constitution (we started off at 10+) means you can do this easily and possibly even use Whirlwind Attack frequently as well. Also, you don't drain Stamina when Sneaking if you are standing still, so don't be afraid to park yourself and wait for one or two of the enemies that were in a clump to wander farther off from the pack.
  • You can also pull enemies one at a time while Sneaking by hitting them with a ranged weapon or spell. Any hit causes them to run toward the source briefly.
  • Sometimes there are forced cutscenes as soon as a character is spotted. Sneak can reduce that sighting radius, allowing you to take some action (such as Pickpocketing) before the dialogue cutscene actually begins.
    [Survival > Thieving > Poison] is extremely powerful in the early game but also has drawbacks:
    • It does not stack.
      • So two characters with Poison won't inflict more damage, nor will repeatedly hitting the same target.
      • If you use Poisonous weapons later (Guide page ), they won't stack either. Moreover, your Poison skill takes precedence over the continuous poison damage from Poisonous weapons, whether your skill does more poison damage or not.
      • Therefore, have only 1 character get 1 level of it.
      • Also, do not get increased duration because hit-and-run is very slow in this game.
    • It often does not kill. Instead, at 0 Vitality the creature starts to vomit, but is helpless during that animation. If left alone it will function with 0 Vitality and, like all creatures, start regenerating Vitality over time.
    • You do not have to hit. Even a "Missed" result can inflict poison.
    • It only applies to melee weapons, but Spiritual weapons like Bark and Willow can inflict Poison.
    • It applies to all targets hit by Whirlwind Attack.
    Caching / Hoarding with Little or No Strength
    Since we are deprioritizing Strength, you may wonder how to carry stuff. Obviously, you don't. Know how to use Chests:
    • Some chests are 0 Weight when the lid is open. Choose those chests if you can, although ultimately it won't matter since you'll be overloading them like Portable Holes. Don't take Barrels because if you accidentally click to open them with a weapon drawn, you'll smash the Barrel.
    • You can pick up a check by click-and-hold, drag it unreasonably far and "throw it" as long as you have line of sight to the destination location -- you'll know you can put it there when there isn't a red "X" where you are hovering your mouse. Weight is not an issue.
    • You can put a chest of any weight on a character. They will obviously be over-encumbered if it is too heavy, but that is not critical. You can then:
      • Have the other character walk to and use an area transition, such as a ladder, and both characters will appear at the entrance of the next area, regardless of their distance to the area transition point.
      • You can drag any inventory item, including your massively-overloaded chest, to another character by dropping it on their portrait. Distance is irrelevant.
        • For unclear reasons, sometimes a container cannot be dragged into the inventory of a particular character, even though it can be put in the inventory of another character. Try changing containers or putting it in another container first.
      • You can put containers inside containers. Therefore, use as many containers as you like to keep things sorted.
    Once you have a Battlefield Key, set up your containers in the Battlefield entry location and teleport to the Battlefield whenever you need to sell or cache gear. This will of course re-set your location if you are exploring in the Battlefield itself, so you will have to revert to heaving chests around while you are exploring the Battlefield.

    Once you have a Summoning Doll, you can use it like a container and just summon them whenever you need to put stuff on it. Obviously it won't be very useful in combat, but the Skeleton doll isn't that necessary anyway.

    To pack up everything between Acts (after which previous areas and Battlefields will no longer be accessible), put all your chests into a single chest, and put that chest on your Summoning Doll. Unsummon the Doll and summon it again in the next Act.

    Good Loot with No Luck from Survival
    Sneaking around to set up our fights means Resistances and Evasion are less important, which in turn means no Survival or Speed stats. But Survival also gives you Luck, which supposedly gets you better loot.
    To make up for it, regularly check for gear in the Battlefield that gives you bonuses to Luck. In Act 1, the maximum bonus is +5 Luck; in Act 2 it is +10. If you are not exploiting the Battlefield, then you are basically out of luck and relying on a good character build.
    Loot is not generated until you mouse-over a container. Therefore, an exploit is to not mouse-over any containers until you save the game. That way you can reload until you get decent loot from a container (same exploit as in the original Divine Divinity). This, however, can be very tedious. If you are going to use it, save it for the best containers, the ones that seem to only drop great loot to begin with.
    If you experiment with the mousing-over exploit, you will also notice that the range of loot is very wide even when you have 30-60+ points of combined Luck from the Deathknight and the Hero, so it is not really clear how much Luck is required to make a difference.
    You can experiment by editing ...\Beyond Divinity\Common\CharSelStats.dat to create a starting characters with 200 Survival (which gives +100 luck) and watch no significantly better loot dropping from creatures and barrels.

    One way to use Pickpocket on merchants is as follows:
    • Amass a lot of money any way you can. Sell potions if you like because you will get enough profit to buy them all back anyway.
    • For a particular merchant, buy up everything they have in their inventory.
      • If the value of everything they have is less than the value of a particularly pricey item (e.g., Yit-Iceri from Act 1 - Guide page 45), just barter with that item. You just want to leave the merchant with only one item in inventory that you can steal.
      • The maximum amount of money a merchant can have in inventory is 50000, which is also the maximum value of a stack of gold. If you need to rob them of more, try to get a single item or large stack of something worth more than 50000 -- the goal is to leave the merchant with just one stack of something, and steal that one stack.
    • Since you just bought everything, all they will have left is a single stack of Gold, instead of a mess of overlapping inventory items hard to sift through. Pickpocket that stack of gold.
      • You have a limited number of pickpocket attempts on each target based on your Pickpocket skill level. Stealing in this way allows you to clean out a merchant with a single Pickpocket attempt.
    • Merchants eventually reset their inventory (not entirely clear when this happens). So you can repeat this until you run out of pickpocket attempts on a particular merchant, then slowly sell back to them the stuff you stole.
      • Battlefield merchants reset their gold every time you enter the Battlefields, so use that convenience to clear out your inventory instead of hauling it around for barter eventually.
      • To quickly sell items, barter them for Normal Arrows, which Battlefield merchants may have in huge quantities (sometimes in the thousands). Normal Arrows always buy and sell at 1 gold piece each, so they are as good as gold pieces.
    • In some rare cases, a "merchant" (such as the chess-playing guard -- Guide page 63) will not have what you traded them in their inventory afterwards. In that case, trade with something they had. In the case of the chess-playing guard, he has Normal Arrows, so buy up everything he has by bartering with your own Normal Arrows. Then Pickpocket that stack of arrows.
    If you use the Battlefields, this is both tedious and unnecessary: You will literally have hundreds of thousands of gold pieces by the end of Act 1. Even without the Battlefield, after Act 1 you could have over 100,000 gold unless you spent a lot of it.
    For this reason, there's little urgency to pickpocket anyone. Just do it once before you leave an Act or before the merchant becomes inaccessible.

    Also note that the range on Pickpocket is ridiculous -- As long as you can target them with your cursor, you can use Pickpocket on them. Use this fact to Pickpocket targets that will disappear after a cutscene or before they turn hostile.

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