Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 3)

Wreathed in walking bones.

I’ve always been fond of the idea of Raise Skeleton for this build. However, due to the limited quantity of skill points, it’s not possible to invest in Raise Skeleton without diluting everything else. Unless I substitute one skill for another. Which is why I decided to substitute Curse of Frailty for Raise Skeleton, as I would prefer to have more pets to distract enemies. So that I don’t get surrounded and consequently murdered. It offers some reasonably decent synergy with Blood of Dreeg, too. Not only does it provide a significant chunk of retaliation damage, but it helps to keep the skeletons alive.

Given that skeletons (as you would expect) are fragile.

Immediately investing in the Undead Legion modifier meant that I have six skeletons available. So, in total, that makes seven pets with the Blight Fiend. With that number Bonds of Bysmiel becomes more attractive. However, I’d need to substitute another skill to invest in Bonds of Bysmiel and it just isn’t worth it.

My pets have never really been designed to deal damage. They’re designed to draw attention away from me. Which they would do better with more health and higher damage, but the damage potential that I would lose with that investment is not worth them surviving a few seconds longer. Given that later difficulty levels will significantly reduce their survivability. Having the extra distractions does help, though. Especially when you consider that the higher levels of Raise Skeleton offer more powerful skeletons, which means I’ve got skeletons firing crossbows and spells at enemies. I suppose that I could consider whether Bonds of Bysmiel is worthwhile at a later date. I might be inclined to substitute something if I find that my pets are dying too frequently. Or I may just substitute Raise Skeleton for something else.

A corrosive cacophony of flesh and bones.

The warm sands of the Korvan Basin have been about as forgiving as I expected they’d be. It’s not necessarily difficult content, but it is very tightly scaling to my character level with some enemies being five levels higher than me. I’ve narrowly avoided death on a few occasions, too. I’m not sure if this is indicative of what I should expect in Act 2, or if Act 2 will be slightly easier as it may not scale to my level. I’m not really sure what does and doesn’t scale to your level these days. That said, I’ve had a lot of fun with the content and I suppose that this confirms it can be done with a freshly built character.

Not that I’m likely to proceed out of sequence again.

I didn’t really consider that the rewards for the factions in the Forgotten Gods would be useless to me. For the time being at least. As they all require you to be Lvl 65-90, which wasn’t a concern for my (higher level) Warder but isn’t really benefiting my (lower level) Cabalist. I’ll be back to purchase them later on, though.

That said, proceeding out of sequence did highlight the surprisingly complex nature of dialogue in Grim Dawn. There are several interactions which are altered (or entirely absent), as this character has not yet met those factions and has no relationship with them in any way. In particular there was a group of refugees which my Warder could threaten or kill due to his faction alignment. But my Cabalist doesn’t have anything to say to them because she doesn’t know them. Nor is she aligned with an opposing faction. It’s a small yet satisfying alteration, and makes sense as it could potentially sway your allegiance if this content presented factions in a certain way. Whereas the lack of an interaction means you’ll make the natural choice when the time comes. Which is how things should be.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 2)

The stench of rot and decay.

One of the few identifiable problems with this build is the heavy investment required in both Necromancer and Occultist Mastery. It’s a problem that quickly disappears, but does affect the first few levels as whether you specialise in Necromancer or Occultist you won’t have many offensive options. This is one of the reasons that Raise Skeleton was appealing. That said, I could have invested in Occultist first but I don’t believe that having Dreeg’s Evil Eye and Curse of Frailty earlier rather than later would’ve helped. Having the Blight Fiend to soak some of the incoming damage made more sense.

The investment also allowed access to Ravenous Earth.

Which, to be fair, doesn’t function as I would’ve expected it to, but it’s still a powerful addition to the offensive capabilities of the build. I’ve seen it melt bosses within seconds if they’re hit by multiple fragments. It’s also a great skill to use when surrounded, which is one of the first issues I’ve noticed with this build.

Obviously in Act 1 this isn’t really a concern. Enemies are less aggressive, use less potent skills, and are generally less threatening overall. But once I’ve progressed to either Act 2 or Act 7 (if I choose to proceed out of sequence) that will very quickly change. Blood of Dreeg and the restorative properties it offers does balance out the damage, but that’s not something I’m going to be able to rely on. Especially at lower skill levels when it only recovers 14-16% of my health. It does, however, keep the Blight Fiend alive quite competently. So that’s something. The health regeneration is probably the more attractive component of that skill, as the duration outlasts the cooldown and so it can be kept active almost indefinitely. Which basically means I’m always recovering a trickle of health.

Life ebbs akin to fading embers.

The damage output of the build is, as expected, excellent. The synergy between Curse of Frailty and either Dreeg’s Evil Eye or Ravenous Earth is potent. Not only are enemies slowed and generally weakened, but they suffer more damage from my various skills and even the Blight Fiend becomes more effective as a result. It does, however, rely on damage over time. Which means you’re waiting for enemies to expire. So it’s kind of burst-y. Enemies will fall in numbers once the overwhelming number of ailments finally claim them, but they have more potential to retaliate as they don’t immediately fall.

That said, Dreeg’s Evil Eye does provide some direct damage.

Damage which will undoubtedly become more potent as more modifiers are unlocked. It will eventually become an AoE of its own. Which, when combined with Ravenous Earth, and the weakening component of Curse of Frailty, should mean that this build will specialise in AoE damage either directly or over time.

I feel as though I’m making good progress through Act 1 at a somewhat accelerated pace. I’m not sure if this is due to balancing changes in one of the recent updates or just the proficiency of the build, but, as of writing this, it’s going quite well. I’m surprised at how effective the build is even if it does take some time to really start to function properly. I’ve been considering moving onto Act 7 next and seeing just how viable the Forgotten Gods content is for a new character. I’m not sure it’s advisable for a character that doesn’t really have any equipment or items to supplement them, but that’s the reason I’m doing it. Science. Or the insatiable desire to do things I know I probably shouldn’t be doing in video games. It’s a twenty year habit that I’m not about to break. Not now and likely not ever.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 1)

You’ve got to serve somebody.

The recent excursion to the Korvan Basin in the Forgotten Gods expansion pack reminded me of how much I dearly love Grim Dawn. Despite playing my Warder (Shaman/Soldier) who is not only the first character I’d ever finished the campaign with, and has since been subject to countless changes as a result of numerous updates, it was still an exhilarating and satisfying chunk of content. That particular character is in dire need of being tweaked, though. Which is why it’s unlikely he will ever finish Elite (or even start Ultimate) difficulty. Too many things have changed and it’s simply easier to start again.

Which is (and isn’t) the purpose of this post.

I’ve wanted to experience Grim Dawn again for some time, but the idea of documenting this process was inspired by my recent series of posts regarding the original Diablo. The character mentioned herein is not a replacement for my Warder, either. But instead a fresh perspective that draws on previous experience.

For this character I wanted to do something that didn’t rely on close quarters combat. I’ve not really built many Occultists, Arcanists, Necromancers, or Demolitionists and the only Shaman I’ve built was focused on two-handed weapons. I’ve been fond of the Necromancer since the Ashes of Malmouth expansion pack, but I’ve only ever started a Death Knight (Necromancer/Soldier) build which didn’t finish Act 1. After fiddling with several Masteries I finally settled on the Cabalist (Occultist/Necromancer) with a build focusing on poison and acid damage. I’m unsure as to whether I should invest heavily in pets or not, though. I’ve already got Summon Blight Fiend but have been thinking about Raise Skeleton. However, I did prioritise Blood of Dreeg over Raise Skeleton for it’s regenerative properties.

Huddled amongst the remnants of humanity.

On the other hand, due to the acid retaliation damage of Blood of Dreeg, it’s actually suited to having more allies to buff rather than less. So having Raise Skeleton would provide more acid retaliation damage overall. I’ve also been looking at Curse of Frailty, which, with it’s Vulnerability modifier, reduces enemy resistance to acid and poison damage. This is more or less occupying the same idea as Blood of Dreeg. As the Aspect of the Guardian modifier increases poison and acid damage. Together they do an exceptional amount of damage, individually they function more or less the same immunities permitting.

As Vulnerability could break immunities if such a thing is possible.

If we were to ignore that possibility then both Blood of Dreeg and Curse of Frailty will boost acid and poison damage. Which means I could easily substitute either for Raise Skeleton. But I’m more likely to substitute Curse of Frailty as Blood of Dreeg allows me to heal my pets and myself, while accelerating their health regeneration.

Having too many pets would make Bonds of Bysmiel an alluring prospect, though. Not that I’ve ever wanted to have dozens of pets. At least not in Grim Dawn. I’d never decline a box full of kittens. But having to make these decisions (and these decisions having consequences) is why I dearly love Grim Dawn, as, unlike many modern RPGs, building a character is not a hollow and unsatisfying experience. Every character is unique. For the best or worst reasons. I’m interested in seeing how this character develops, too. When looking at raw statistics many things seem to be viable, but in the harsh light of day there are tweaks that need to be made. Even learning about the character can be a satisfying experience as you quickly learn what you can do, what you can’t, and what you’re better off leaving alone.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

A Fledgling Kingdom

Where everyone can live happily ever after.

I’ll be the first to admit that I do have a slight problem when it comes to building houses in video games. Or building anything for that matter. I’d assume that Suikoden is entirely responsible for this, but you didn’t necessarily build Toran Castle and instead hired the playable Stars of Destiny who improved the facilities available therein. Hence why I’ve been overjoyed with the kingdom building in Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom, as it’s reminiscent of the concept present in Suikoden but feels much broader and has exceptional functionality. Each citizen recruited to Evermore makes an immeasurable difference.

Especially when crafting new equipment or cooking up Higgledies.

Crafting is actually one of my favourite things to do when visiting Evermore. With the different resource gathering facilities you’re able to collect endless quantities of materials, and through the production facilities you’re able to turn those materials into powerful equipment. It seems simple but it’s delightfully functional.

Unlike other crafting mechanics, where rare materials are so ridiculously rare that you don’t even attempt to use them, or where recipes are often obtained far too late for them to be useful, the crafting mechanics in Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom are wonderfully accessible. You unlock sets of crafting recipes each time the relevant research is finished, and by crafting that equipment you’re able to heighten the proficiency of your citizens. As citizens become more proficient they can undertake more complex research. That’s it. No arbitrary requirements or excessive grinding needed. This extends to every facility available in Evermore, too. From the Dimensional Lab to Tasty’s Cookshop each upgrade remains as intuitive as the last. In fact, it was so intuitive I often built far too much for my current citizen count.

There is such a thing as having too many Kingsguilders.

For these (and many other) reasons I’ve greatly enjoyed the ambitious sequel to Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch even if it does do several things differently. The kingdom building is incredibly fun and I’ve often spent hours researching, recruiting citizens, and unlocking new spells or equipment with no regrets. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on the main campaign by taking the time to outfit my party. It never feels forced, either. You never loathe having to spend time in Evermore because there’s so much to do. The only minor criticisms I have of the sequel concern both the skirmishes and the tainted monsters.

Both of which seem to be haphazardly peppered around the world map.

The skirmishes disappear and reappear with annoying frequency and seem to follow no particular order. Therefore, levelling troops can be a clunky affair. While tainted monsters, though presented in an order, and with what you would assume is increasing difficulty, make little sense when you actually encounter them.

That said, these are very minor criticisms that don’t affect the main campaign in any meaningful way. As you’ve no requirement to fight any tainted monsters (other than those for side quests) and the story-related skirmishes are surmountable if you’ve collected troops from side quests. These criticisms don’t detract from the general wonder of exploring the world map, either. Which is another thing that Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom has done very well. It has a sprawling world map that’s fun to explore as you’re always finding treasure, new locations, or more Higgledies. It really encourages you to leave Evermore and to see what’s happening outside the kingdom walls. Not that I want to. I’ve got Kingsguilders to collect, citizens to level up, and research to undertake. I’m sure that things will work out without my intervention.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

A Gateway Between Worlds

One who travels from their world to save another.

There are few things that I enjoy more than thoroughly satisfying JRPGs. They’re somewhat rare nowadays. Hence why I was quite excited when I saw that Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was being remastered and was due for a PC release. I’ve not experienced the Ni no Kuni series before, but I was entirely aware of the PC release of Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom and it looked rather neat. However, in a display of restraint that would make Oliver Take Heart quicker than I clicked the pre-order button, I decided that I would abstain from the nostalgic JRPG hoping that the entire series would be released on PC.

Which it was. So, who’s laughing now? No-one. It wasn’t in any way humorous.

I’ve regretted more than a few pre-orders in my time but I definitely don’t regret this one. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered is entirely reminiscent of the JRPGs of the SNES or the PS1, and you can tell that the developers truly cared about delivering a one-of-a-kind experience when telling the story of Oliver’s adventure.

The presentation is immaculate. The visuals are beautiful, the animations are fluid, the music is exceptional, and the art direction is incredible. Unlike modern RPGs (of any description) you don’t eventually hit a wall where the only way to progress is to engage in a frustratingly repetitive task, which serves only to artificially extend the main campaign as the actual playable content is sorely lacking. I’ve regularly returned to earlier locations like Ding Dong Dell or Al Mamoon only to find new errands or bounties to undertake. While there are islands between Castaway Cove and Hamelin which I’ve yet to explore. Mostly because the enemies on those islands were actually quite challenging when I first arrived there. I could probably quite easily return and explore those islands having progressed further into the main campaign now.

Welcome to the majesty of Teeheeti Island.

That said, depending on which familiars you have, and which familiars you’d like to have, you’ve already got ample reason to explore every location on the world map. Though you can’t always guarantee that you’re going to get the familiar you want, there are the usual rewards of combat that incentive you to at least try to collect more familiars. Especially when many of the rewards from combat are ingredients used to fashion powerful equipment. Or really tasty cakes and chocolate. I too would be okay with being locked in a cage if you promised me delicious food as a reward for engaging in bloodthirsty visceral combat.

The Wizard’s Companion can be used to discover new familiars as well.

I’ve never understood (or agreed with) the idea that less information equates to higher difficulty. The Wizard’s Companion not only tells you more about your familiars, but also where certain equipment comes from, and even illustrates various alchemical formulae. More than just being useful it’s thematically appropriate, too.

There are innumerable things that I’ve enjoyed about Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered and it just keeps on giving. Every time I believe that I’ve reached a major point in the main campaign it finds some way to introduce new dungeons, modes of transportation, or increasingly more interesting spells. I’m looking forward to the sequel as well. It seems to suggest new mechanics (and a lack of familiars) of which some of those mechanics feel reminiscent of my dearly loved Suikoden. It’s been a while since I’ve led a rebel fortress. As is usual I’ll be writing more about Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch Remastered in an In Retrospect post, but I can already tell that this series is going to be one of the highlights of my entire year. It’s been such a refreshing, engaging, and entirely enjoyable experience so far.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Further Integration

The decision was finally made.

I’ve always been bothered that certain creative content (especially that of Material Studies) was never available on my personal site. This was mostly due to not knowing where best to fit them into the existing layout, but also because Moggie’s Proclamations lacked integration with the site in any meaningful way. While it has always been available via a social media icon it isn’t necessarily present elsewhere. Which is more or less what the recent updates to the site have aimed to rectify, as they’re now inescapably linked. I’ve even removed the WordPress social media icon from the site. Opting instead for a text link.

Which, hopefully, is just as identifiable as the social media icon.

The Instagram social media icon is still there, though. The solitary social media site that I actually frequent. Not that I’ve been nearly as active there as I would’ve liked, but that’s the only reasonable outcome when the flow of creative content stops almost entirely and you’ve shared nothing new in over a year. That said, I’m still working on things.

Hence the recent focus on Moggie’s Proclamations. I’ve taken the time to update both the Creative and Gaming pages, which resulted in a new layout and improved categorisation that better reflects the diversity of content available on the blog. I’m eager to start writing posts more regularly again, too. Not that we’ve been short of content in September. But none of that is creative content. Which is the (for lack of a better word) problem, but that extends further than just the blog to myself. I need to make the time for my creative pursuits. I need to have the ideas and the motivation for them. I’ve been taking some time out purposefully as, due to certain things that happened last year, I lost my way, but I’m ready to find my way again.

I’ll upload a new piece any day now. Just you wait.

As with all of the updates I’ve ever made they’re not entirely finished. They’ll never be entirely finished. As both the site and Moggie’s Proclamations are perpetual works in progress, and will change as I change. But this is the happiest I’ve ever been with everything that I do. It’s also the best and most accurate representation of what I do that I’ve ever had. Which, when you consider how long the site has been in existence, and the number of iterations it has been through, it’s not really surprising. If you keep changing things you’ll eventually happen upon the layout, design, or content that best represents your intentions.

I’ve also been updating some of the older content on the blog.

As before these updates are simply alterations to presentation and the original content remains (mostly) intact. It’s staggering to think that there are nearly three-hundred posts on Moggie’s Proclamations now, which illustrates the amount of content there is to work through and why these updates are implemented over several weeks.

It would take me a few days to read through all of the content available on the blog. Let alone update it. But I’ve grown accustomed to this process, and I’ll often be updating something without being entirely aware that I’m doing it. Editing a few tags or categories here or there certainly helps to eventually standardise them all. Adding new posts to pages eventually builds a comprehensive library. I guess that’s the funny thing about Moggie’s Proclamations. I’ve always enjoyed working on it, which means it’s never felt particularly laborious posting new (or updating older) content. With that said, if you notice that anything looks different, or isn’t where you remembered it was, I probably tweaked something for some reason or another.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Returning to Neverwinter

A bustling city with the slightest hint of plague.

It’s been roughly fifteen years since I first experienced Neverwinter Nights. At the time I had very little knowledge of the different Dungeons & Dragons rules, and so all of the characters that I built were probably malformed clunky failures that were based on my experiences in other RPGs. I remember being fond of Clerics and Paladins. Then again, that’s hardly surprising as I’ve always had a penchant for self-sustaining characters as they’re often viable in all kinds of content. But I doubt that they were built correctly or had any combat proficiency. Even my recent attempts at building a Rogue have lacked combat proficiency.

But that’s mostly resolved once they get dual-wielding feats.

I’m particularly fond of the Weapon Finesse feat as that offers a substantial bonus to attack rolls due to their high Dexterity. That said, I’m probably going to be more successful with this build were I to be a Ranger or Fighter instead as they’re both more suited to combat, but they lack the easier access to thievery and lock picking.

It’s an unorthodox build for me as I rarely build sneaky, thieving, subtle characters. That said, Dark Souls was the exception to that rule as well. I tended to favour high Dexterity builds focused on rolling and that seemed to work out just fine. I’m also noticing that the 3rd edition rules have an absurd amount of flexibility, in that I could easily take a level or two in another class and immediately gain significant bonuses. At the moment I’m leaning towards Rogue and Cleric. I had considered the Wizard or Sorcerer but wearing armour incurs an Arcane Spell Failure penalty, which doesn’t necessarily make sense when I will be primarily dual-wielding weapons and would like to wear armour for the defensive bonuses. But I’m also curious as to how Sorcerers actually work.

Not much of a test for someone so skilled in thievery.

I’m undecided as to whether it would be preferable to build as a Cleric and then take a level in Rogue or to do the opposite. I think the decision would affect the number of spells per day available to the character. As I do believe that building as a Rogue and then taking a level in Cleric reduces the number of spells per day by half, but the lack of spells per day could also be due to the average Wisdom this build has. These are details that due to my inexperience with the 3rd edition rules are still somewhat confusing. I think that I can still acquire the same number of class skills were I to build the character either way.

Which is the most important aspect of being a Rogue for me.

That said, this build may not be entirely viable. I don’t see any significant reason why I couldn’t finish the campaign with it, but I’m still quite confused as to the implications (and severity) of the experience penalty incurred when choosing additional classes. However, I’ve taken the safe option of being a Halfling to negate the penalty entirely.

It’s also fun being a tiny, stabbing, thieving machine who dual-wields weapons with great finesse. It’s a strange character concept but one that I’ve been endeared to as I’ve tinkered with every aspect of this build. I’m not sure if this will be the final character that I choose or if I’ll find another concept to build around, but I’ve greatly enjoyed the flexibility and freedom of the 3rd edition rules. I’m also not sure if I’ll be seeing Neverwinter Nights through to the end or not. I’ve mostly been enjoying toying with different builds and trying to do something unusual. The easier default option for me would be to choose a Fighter or Barbarian. But I would prefer to try something new as there are many neat mechanics you can utilise in the 3rd edition rules.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie