Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 8)

Piercing the heart of the fallen city.

You’d think that it’d be difficult to lay siege to an entire city, but it’s actually quite easy if you strategically strike from the sewers like a demented psychotic rat with murderous intent. A demented psychotic rat that binds the recently deceased to unholy servitude, that befriends cannibals, and can seemingly do the impossible. As the militia has been hiding in the tunnels beneath the city waiting for my Cabalist to arrive. Apparently they suffered heavy losses when attempting to cull the twisted nightmarish beasts of the Steelcap District, but I’d wager that they didn’t try melting everything with acid.

It works more often than not for my Cabalist.

If only the opposition understood this simple concept. Instead they had to rely on (much deadlier) Aether and Vitality damage which rapidly depleted her health, but she has the advantage of nearly limitless healing. So no matter how many times they’d beat her down she’d just get back up again.

That said, if the opposition were able to heal themselves that would be terrifying. So I’m glad that they can’t. Nor will ever be able to. Which is why the people of Cairn will triumph over any opposition, as they’ve got an unfair advantage and the outcome is predetermined with the rest being just a formality. Which is a truth that extends beyond video games. I’m just glad that I don’t need to wage an endless war to secure that promotion. I just need to realise that due to working hard and taking pride in my work that I’ll never be considered for it. At least in a post-apocalyptic society such trivial concerns have been abandoned, and instead we’re concerned with real issues like whether we’ll be eaten in the night by wolves. Or swallowed up by a Chthonic Rift when climbing mountains. These are the things that keep me awake at night.

A twisted landscape of flesh and corruption.

I was reunited with an old friend in the grotesque landscape of the Fleshworks, though. So that was nice. It was actually the highlight of my evening as I unlocked an achievement by defeating them once more. Another that my Warder seemingly missed, which is making me wonder how he managed to miss all of these areas and bosses. I suppose that they could have been added by recent updates. But I’ve found no evidence to suggest that. My only other assumption is that, due to my Cabalist experiencing the revised main campaign, she has more resources or recipes than he had at the time.

However, that doesn’t explain missing the bosses.

Not that it hasn’t been fun uncovering new locations, bosses, and quests with this character. That’s always refreshing. There are more quests to uncover, too. Some require allegiance to (or better standing with) certain factions, and will likely become available in either Elite or Ultimate difficulty.

Unless I want to grind reputation with various factions and have them available in Normal difficulty. Which I don’t necessarily want to do. The faction mechanics are one of my favourite things about Grim Dawn, but I don’t see a reason to try and rush them. I’ll be experiencing the main campaign at least twice more if I want to complete every difficulty level. So I may as well passively earn the reputation. It’s not like the faction rewards would be useful even if I did grind the reputation, as I’d need to be of a much higher level to use them. I’ve greatly enjoyed playing (and writing about) this character build, though. I’ve been inspired by the experience and can apply much of what I’ve learned to other character builds, which couldn’t possibly manifest as a several hundred hour investment into Grim Dawn. That’d be ludicrous.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 7)

Where the plants are poisonous and the people are cannibals.

Not all cannibals are monstrous inhuman creatures, either. Some are friendly. They have a village which is peaceful, prosperous, and welcoming to succulent outsiders. I was also hoping that (as they are a faction) they would have faction rewards, too. But they don’t seem to have a faction rewards vendor. In which case, my Cabalist has made yet another questionable moral choice by assisting these cannibals in their pursuit of human flesh. I believe that my Warder made the correct choice. As I vaguely remember something about a cellar full of blood, human viscera, and cooking recipes.

I probably shouldn’t have tried their stew, either.

But there’s no use in crying over broiled human flesh. Those helpless captives would’ve been eaten sooner or later if I’d not intervened. Now it’s just sooner rather than later, and at least the friendly cannibals are likely to cook them before eating them. Those other cannibals may have eaten them alive.

John Bourbon has made some questionable decisions in his life, too. Like saving my Cabalist from the noose. Her second chance is going from bad to worse, and I’m starting to wonder whether (in a previous life) she was partly responsible for the collapse of society. Maybe that’s why they possessed her in the first place. She was already more malicious than they were. Then again, she has done several of these things by accident. So maybe she’s a good person with a poor sense of judgement. Or a very capable idiot. Only time and a mound of innocent corpses will tell. I’m sure that if she retakes the fallen city with minimal casualties she’ll still be regarded as the hero that we didn’t need (or want) but that risked their life for the lives of others. Which means that no-one will remember her questionable moral choices.

Watch as we attempt to poison each other unsuccessfully.

Travelling through Gloomwald towards Ugdenbog reminded me of how threatening (and beautiful) these locations are. Besides the cannibals. Those are mostly manageable if you offer to exchange human flesh for your own continued existence. Not that I would advise that you attempt to eat my Cabalist, as she probably tastes of acid and decay given her time spent around poisonous corpse beasts. You’d most likely need to add a little seasoning before she’s considered edible. Then again, if you’re eating human flesh you’re probably not too fussy about how they taste. On my travels I also took the time to explore the Ancient Grove, which I’d missed (or not completed) with my Warder the first time around. I earned a few unexpected achievements in that dungeon, too.

I also uncovered the Den of the Ancient.

Another location that my Warder seemingly didn’t access. I’m guessing that I didn’t have very much Dynamite at the time I found the bridge, as I don’t know why else he wouldn’t have fought the boss. Unless he tried and failed. That’s entirely possible, but I doubt that I would’ve given up so easily.

With the completion of Act 5 this series is nearing its conclusion. Naturally this would be the exact moment in time that the developers decided to implement a massive free update, which makes numerous changes and even introduces a new dungeon in the Korvan Basin. I’ve no plans to write any additional posts for any attempts at either Elite or Ultimate difficulty, nor any plans to cover this particular update. As these posts would kind of be recycled content. We’d be covering the same locations and events as we’ve covered previously, while the changes are so extensive I’d need a new character build to see them all. I may write an additional post or two explaining other builds I’ve enjoyed, though. But I can’t guarantee anything. It’s mostly dependant on when I revisit Grim Dawn again and for what reason.

Have a nice weekend, all!

Moggie

Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 6)

A lengthy engagement.

When approaching the Edge of Madness in the Tomb of the Watchers I encountered an interesting boss. Secreting corrosive poison and wrought from otherworldly fury, but as ineffective against my Cabalist as she was against it. Neither could successfully poison the other, and we stood there (effectively) slapping each other until one of us fell over. It was hilariously frustrating watching each attack be as pitiful as the last, though. I barely had to keep Blood of Dreeg active (for the regenerative properties) and drank few potions, as this engagement proved to be lengthy but not necessarily dangerous.

I’m just glad that poison bosses don’t seem to appear too frequently.

It also confirms that creatures can’t be immune to certain damage types. Or that this boss had no such immunity. It likely had the maximum amount of Poison & Acid Resistance, and my skills were probably only dealing a fifth of their usual damage. But they still dealt damage. So that’s something.

Creatures being immune to damage types has been one of my concerns with this build. That said, it depends on if creatures mirror character resistances or whether every damage type is considered individually. As if they’re considered individually I can still deal acid damage if they’re immune to poison damage and vice versa. Surprisingly I didn’t run into too many problems with the majority of Act 4. I was expecting that to be quite the challenge but it all went rather smoothly. When working towards the Ashes of Malmouth content it became painfully apparent that I need to more carefully consider my equipment, though. As I have few high quality items and the difficulty will only increase as we retake the fallen city. But that’s what faction rewards are for, right?

The vast expanse of the Astekarn Valley.

Unfortunately, many of those faction rewards are either only usable at Lvl 65-90 or require me to grind reputation with various factions. They only apply to a few equipment slots, too. But there are definitely some that I will be prioritising as soon as she is able to use them, and I’ll be considering my options with both Components and Augments. I’ve already employed the use of a couple of Components which grant me access to new skills, with Dreeg’s Infinite Gaze (from Mark of Dreeg) and Noxious Poison Bomb (from Venom Tipped Ammo) further bolstering the damage output of this build.

Not that dealing more damage is the answer to every problem.

A fact that will become more apparent as enemies become increasingly more dangerous. Not that I’m too concerned about the defensive capabilities of this build, as I’ve been utilising the Devotion mechanics to mostly negate the resistance penalty in Elite at the very least. Ultimate will need more work.

I’m keen to take more advantage of the Shattered Realm, too. I’ve not really explored much of it but it’s overflowing with loot. Especially if you can manage to defeat the boss within the time limit. I assume that you also have to survive the expedition, but you may receive any rewards that you were entitled to should you fall within that twisted reality. Not too sure about that. I’ve mostly survived unscathed. Just because I know that I’m only sacrificing additional loot if I work carefully through the content should it prove to be beyond the capabilities of the build. If nothing else I make a considerable amount of Iron with each attempt. So even if it’s not a fruitful endeavour I’m still getting something out of it. But I wouldn’t turn down numerous pieces of high quality equipment, either.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 5)

Possessed once more.

You’d figure that being possessed once would be more than enough for any sane person. However, my Cabalist is willingly allowing the spirit of Solael to possess her in exchange for heightened proficiency in combat. Not that I’d ever humour the notion that she’s sane. In fact, had I the choice, she’s exactly the kind of character that would sacrifice what remains of humanity for personal gain. Thankfully I don’t have the choice, as that would be the perfect resolution for a character who I’ve painted in such a heinous light. She’s a good person really. She’s helped numerous people with their problems.

Undoubtedly she helped for personal gain, but she helped all the same.

I’ve recently discovered that Kymon’s Chosen won’t ask her for help, though. I was originally under the assumption that this may be a result of her actions in the Korvan Basin, but it turns out that they just don’t like Necromancers. Which I wasn’t expecting as I’ve not known Masteries to affect factions before.

As of Act 3 I’ve started investing heavily in the Necromancer Mastery and I’ve fully invested in the Occultist Mastery to gain access to Possession. I’ve scarce few modifiers left in the Necromancer Mastery and these affect both Ravenous Earth and Summon Blight Fiend, while the Occultist Mastery has all of the active and passive skills I would like for this build. Possession benefits her offensive capabilities significantly but does offer defensive bonuses, too. I’m most fond of the additional Chaos Resistance. As I’ve been tinkering with the Devotion mechanics to improve both defensive and offensive capabilities. I could be solely boosting various damage types, but if my Warder taught me anything it’s that everyone is squishy to a certain degree. Especially builds that hide behind pets.

That’s an awfully concerning amount of eggs…

Not that her survivability has been a concern. In fact, she’s suffered few deaths and those are mostly my fault. Like when I discovered the Port Valbury Outskirts and decided that I’d be able to casually wander in and stand some chance of surviving. When the ground is soaked with the same infernal fire present in The Conflagration, and my skeletons desire nothing more than to melt in those very flames. But besides those critical errors in judgement she’s surprisingly hard to kill. Blood of Dreeg is likely to be responsible for that, but having several targets that aren’t me also help to alleviate incoming damage.

I am starting to wonder if I rely too much on pets, though.

On both my Warder and Cabalist I’ve invested in pets. Yet, in both cases, they aren’t necessarily bolstered beyond the initial investment. They’re just there. Soaking damage. But (due to a lack of continued investment) they aren’t able to do so very effectively, and so I do wonder if they’re worth the initial investment.

On the other hand, I’m not sure how frequently pets will be required (or available) in any character builds in the future. I’ve been thinking about either an Oathkeeper or a Demolitionist for my next character. Which does mean that I’ll be going straight back to close quarters combat, but those Masteries seem so interesting that it’s hard to resist. I’m keen on the dual-wielding potential of a Nightblade, too. I’m also wondering if a singular Mastery character could be effective. I guess that depends on which Mastery and whether they have enough skills to warrant investing solely in theirs, as opposed to investing in unique or interesting bonuses in another. I am enjoying my Cabalist build, though. It’s an interesting approach to different problems and it’s certainly a more coherent character than my Warder.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

Grim Dawn: Once Taken, Twice Shy (Pt. 4)

The best decisions need not be made.

Not that I would expect someone who resurrects the recently deceased and imbues them with poison to make the best decisions. Or even good decisions. In fact, I’d be inclined to say that they’re probably going to make a string of very bad decisions. As deciding on that career path is indicative of their personality. They could’ve been a stalwart Soldier who protected the weak, but instead they decided that their only way to save Cairn was to surround themselves with monstrosities wrought of flesh and bone. I wouldn’t even trust them and I built them. So you definitely shouldn’t trust them.

Nor should the people who were slaughtered as a result of their actions.

Then again, she could just resurrect those people as a fragile skeletons who will writhe in agony for but a few short moments before returning once more to the grave. Which is probably worse than just accepting that she’s a bad person, and that she should just move onto the next questionable moral choice.

While I did remember that quests had choice and consequence in Grim Dawn I had forgotten the extent of the choices and consequences. I didn’t quite remember that they would burn down the village and murder everyone in it if they didn’t get their payment. I was under the assumption that as I was hunting down their leader that they would be fine, as the person that I attacked would have little time to call in reinforcements. Turns out I didn’t make the correct moral choice there. Nor did I make the correct moral choice when a bandit threatened a lady by the roadside. But that’s perfectly fine. Everything will reset in Elite and Ultimate difficulty. So I can pretend it never happened and act like she’s not a terrible person who makes horrible decisions. That’s how repentance works, right?

Succumb to the slow death of corrosive poison.

I wasn’t surprised to learn that the content in Act 2 scales to your character level. Logically it would have to. As, if you proceeded out of sequence, as I did, Act 2 would be far too easy if it were at a fixed level. Act 2 is definitely easier than Act 7, though. For the reason that enemies lack the most threatening mechanics, and will become progressively more threatening as you work towards the later stages of the main campaign. Hence why Act 3 is generally a nightmare. Even the ground burns your character to death. But this difficulty curve is incredibly satisfying as it never feels particularly unfair or cheap.

You learn the new mechanics or you repeatedly die. It’s quite simple.

I experienced the first death with this build in Act 7 due to pushing ahead too aggressively. She was quickly surrounded and couldn’t survive the ensuing onslaught. Blood of Dreeg was on cooldown, too. Which given the difficulty of Act 7 as a whole it shouldn’t be when I’m engaging enemies in the final dungeon.

Those mistakes were my own and I could’ve survived were it not for my hubris. Complacency breeds inefficiency after all. Not that it necessarily matters, as I don’t generally build Hardcore characters in ARPGs due to my masochistic tendencies of pushing my builds to their limits. Or sometimes pushing them beyond their limits. Which, if this were Diablo II, would result in me running back to my corpse naked. Not that the same mechanic is present in Grim Dawn. But (as far as I know) you can only have one grave. So if you die repeatedly in trying to recover what you’ve lost you’ll lose even more, as each chunk of experience will be unrecoverable. Which actually encourages a more competent performance in higher difficulty levels. As it’s ill advised to die repeatedly in an attempt to sluggishly push through content.

Have a nice week, all!

Moggie

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