A1 party composition - any pitfalls?

AuthorTopic: A1 party composition - any pitfalls?
Apprentice
Member # 13112
Profile #0
I started A1 first with the provided ready-made party. After an hour of playing, I reconsidered and then restarted with a custom-made party as I much rather play with characters I made myself. Can't explain why, I just prefer them to ready-made stock characters.

Character creation is fun in its own right and there are a lot of options which way to go, but that got me thinking (heh, yeah, I know, that's something new! :) ). With the freedom of custom characters, there's the danger of really poorly made characters. Making a custom party badly will most likely doom your game or at least make progress very hard.

I think I've got an okay party now, but I'd like to ask if there are any big no's that you veterans know, that I should be aware of. It would be really frustrating to notice, after hours of gameplay, that I've somehow missed or overlooked something major and now have to basically restart the game if I want to avoid excessive headache and hairpulling. (Although, I seriously doubt there will be anything that's that major, but it never hurts to ask.)

I know, I should not spread my points too thin, but how much serious min-maxing is expected by the game? Do I have to really fine-tune my party or can a bit more casual approach work (at least work okay enough not to hit the proverbial brick wall at some point in the game)?

I'm at work now, so I can't give you exact values of my characters' skills. My starting PC party has one true fighter with no points in non-combat skills and the advantage of Toughness (or something); one fighter-rogue who's much like the true fighter but this PC has Tool Use at 6 (or so) and the Nimble Fingers advantage; one cleric (priest-fighter) with some combat skills, First Aid and Priest Spells; and one mage with no combat skills except little Defence and Thrown (to be raised later), high(ish) Mage Spells, Arcane Lore, Potion Making and the advantage of High Education (or something).

Note: I didn't want to take the Natural Mage nor Elite Warrior advantages, even if their XP penalties aren't that bad - they didn't fit my, eh, character concepts (yeah, I'm an RP nutter, deal with it ;) ).
Posts: 15 | Registered: Wednesday, January 9 2008 08:00
Infiltrator
Member # 7488
Profile #1
Your party actually looks pretty good, considering that I don't care for hand-to-hand (or missile) combat; nothing against you, it's just my playing style. Here's a few tweaks:
-When creating a custom mage/priest, I don't like to start with my spell skill level higher than about 6 or 7, since you can't start off with too many spells higher than that. You can always add more levels later. Also, for spellcasters of any type, I like to start off with Intelligence of at least 4.
-Arcane Lore is cumulative, so it can be spread around the party. One PC with 20 levels of Arcane Lore is like 4 PCs with 5 levels each.
-I never found High Education to be all that useful, but since you have it, keep it; it will help with reading various texts you'll come across.
-No matter the character, I like to start with at least 3 Strength & Dexterity (for a small bonus to weapon stats), and a level or two of Endurance (so I'm not starting out at the minimum).

When playing A1, my party consists of 4 combination priests/mages. They all also have the character traits "Cursed at Birth" and "Completely Inept", which really aren't that bad overall; and with the high XP bonus (60%), my PCs get to the (pitifully low) maximum level quite fast.

[ Tuesday, January 15, 2008 09:12: Message edited by: The Mystic ]

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Either I'm crazy, or everybody else is nuts. And I know I'm not crazy because the little man who lives on my shoulder told me so.
If people don't think there's something wrong with you, there's something wrong with you.
Oh well. Another day, another dementia.
Posts: 558 | Registered: Friday, September 15 2006 07:00
Law Bringer
Member # 6785
Profile #2
When creating any character that can use spells, go to the spell known area to see what you can get as you increase levels in mage and priest spells. Avernum 1 allows you to get higher spells than all the later games. So mages can start with lightning spray which is really effective.

It really is how you want to play the game. Pick something that works for you. There are wrong things like piling arcane and nature lore into one character instead of distributing it or giving tool use to more than one character.
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00
Infiltrator
Member # 7488
Profile #3
True enough with the mage spells, but you forget, I like to have them as priests also. So for me, that means a little less mage spells skill, and adding priest spells. But for starting off as a pure mage, I agree, starting knowing Lightning Spray is generally a good idea.

I forgot about Nature Lore, which was called Cave Lore in A1 & A2. Granted, it's good to have some, but I usually just buy it from someone who teaches it for a fee, and use my skill points elsewhere.

quote:
Pick something that works for you.
Truer words were never said, Randomizer. Out of all the playing styles I've seen, no two are identical, and yet they all work.

[ Tuesday, January 15, 2008 11:59: Message edited by: The Mystic ]

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Either I'm crazy, or everybody else is nuts. And I know I'm not crazy because the little man who lives on my shoulder told me so.
If people don't think there's something wrong with you, there's something wrong with you.
Oh well. Another day, another dementia.
Posts: 558 | Registered: Friday, September 15 2006 07:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #4
If you min-max really skillfully in A1, you end up with an absurdly easy game. A1 expects you to be somewhat incompetent with your skill choices.

Virtually any party setup will work in A1, but the one that I like is pure melee fighter, melee fighter/archer/lock-picker, mage/priest (who eventually picks up some combat skills, too), pure mage/priest.

On the mage/priest characters, I raise their Priest Spells and Mage Spells exclusively for a while to get them up to 18 so that they can cast Divine Warrior and Arcane Shield. Once you've got those, you're pretty much unbeatable in any combat.

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #5
Echoing Kel here, A1 is quite forgiving of choices that aren't completely min-maxed, especially considering how the preset classes are most decidedly not min-maxed. Your party looks like it's well designed. Some of your choices aren't the ones we jaded number-crunchers might make, but that's not going to be a problem.

—Alorael, who thinks it will be even less of a problem if you aren't playing with the difficulty cranked up to torment level. On normal the game is made for ordinary human beings, not the stat analysts who lurk here.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Apprentice
Member # 13112
Profile #6
OK, thanks. Good to know I'm on the right track.

Just to make sure I understood couple of skills correctly (bear with me). Arcane Lore and Cave Lore stack, i.e. their levels are cumulative across the party. Tool Use and Potion Making do NOT stack (it says so in their descriptions, d'oh). What about First Aid and Luck? I'm betting they do not stack, but I'm not 100% sure.

However, even if Luck does not stack, its benefits should affect the whole party, if it affects external things like random encounters and the like (I know Cave Lore affects this as well). Yes, I know Luck is also a component in some of the special skills (or secondary skills or whatever they were called), I'd just like to know if/how it affects in some other ways.

Also, how does Hardiness work? Does it give the character with levels in it a "saving roll" vs. damage? Then if the roll is succesful, some damage (equal to skill level?) is is negated. Or what? The descrption is kinda vague (at least to me).

P.S. I'm not complaining here nor saying the character creation is hard or anything. Not at all. In fact, I really L O V E skill-based systems (big thank you to Jeff for using one!), but I also want to know the workings of such systems quite well. Hence this, eh, badgering of you Avernum veterans. (I do hope I used the word "badgering" correctly...)
Posts: 15 | Registered: Wednesday, January 9 2008 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 6785
Profile #7
First aid until you reach A4 is almost useless. It only stacks for the one character and you need several levels not to damage the character being healed and it only works a limited number of times a day. Don't spend skill points in it.

Luck varies but is usually helpful. It increases resistances, armor, and several other abilities. In some games it increases the chance of dropped treasure.

Hardiness acts like armor, but I'm not sure if it's a straight increase or just a chance for each point of hardiness that it'll work.
Posts: 4643 | Registered: Friday, February 10 2006 08:00
Law Bringer
Member # 335
Profile Homepage #8
Luck's mechanical benefits like increased resistance don't stack, but in encounters that require a certain amount of luck your party's total is counted.

The damage reduction from hardiness is quite small. Its real use is in boosting resistances, but I believe the consensus is that points are better spent elsewhere. I might be confusing it with another skill, though.

—Alorael, who thinks you're already pushing the limits of how well the skill system is understood. Jeff hasn't given out his formulas, so everything is determined empirically. Sometimes the only definite truth is that the games are programmed in mathematically counterintuitive ways.
Posts: 14579 | Registered: Saturday, December 1 2001 08:00
Off With Their Heads
Member # 4045
Profile Homepage #9
And sometimes they behave differently on different machines.

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Arancaytar: Every time you ask people to compare TM and Kel, you endanger the poor, fluffy kittens.
Smoo: Get ready to face the walls!
Ephesos: In conclusion, yarr.

Kelandon's Pink and Pretty Page!!: the authorized location for all things by me
The Archive of all released BoE scenarios ever
Posts: 7968 | Registered: Saturday, February 28 2004 08:00
Councilor
Member # 6600
Profile Homepage #10
Luck does save a character from death occasionally in A1, right? If so, a few points on each characters is definitely worth it.

Dikiyoba.

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Episode 4: Spiderweb Reloaded
Posts: 4346 | Registered: Friday, December 23 2005 08:00
Agent
Member # 8030
Profile Homepage #11
In my opinion, luck is only effective with mages, since it sometimes prevents death.

Also, since this is A1, investing in the gymnastics skill is a wise choice. (Don't have this until later in game, and you need reasonable amounts of money as well).

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I dub thee...
Posts: 1384 | Registered: Tuesday, February 6 2007 08:00
Infiltrator
Member # 7488
Profile #12
quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

If you min-max really skillfully in A1, you end up with an absurdly easy game.
Which is why I started playing it on torment.
quote:
Originally written by Kelandon:

On the mage/priest characters, I raise their Priest Spells and Mage Spells exclusively for a while to get them up to 18 so that they can cast Divine Warrior and Arcane Shield.
Same here, except that when I make the party, I like to give them a level or two of health, so that hand-to-hand combat doesn't mean instant death for my PCs.
quote:
Originally written by Excalibur:

investing in the gymnastics skill is a wise choice
And barter, and pathfinder, and blademaster, and anatomy, and magery (for spellcasters). I never found the find herbs skill to be all that useful, except to clog up valuable inventory space at the most inopportune moments.

[ Saturday, January 19, 2008 07:17: Message edited by: The Mystic ]

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Either I'm crazy, or everybody else is nuts. And I know I'm not crazy because the little man who lives on my shoulder told me so.
If people don't think there's something wrong with you, there's something wrong with you.
Oh well. Another day, another dementia.
Posts: 558 | Registered: Friday, September 15 2006 07:00
Shaper
Member # 3442
Profile Homepage #13
Find Herbs is nice, but yeah. I collect all the herbs, and stick them on my Priest, but then I never use them except for the odd energy potion. If I sold them, I'd get a ton of money, but I'd feel dirty.

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Nikki's Nook - White, two sugars. :)
Posts: 2864 | Registered: Monday, September 8 2003 07:00
Infiltrator
Member # 7488
Profile #14
The only reason I get the Find Herbs skill is because it's part of a reward for a quest in Mertis (I just do the quest for the xp).

And you can sell the herbs you find without your guilt trip; you found them, so you can do what you want with them. I sell about 90-99% of what I pick up, and am not above theft in the game.

[ Saturday, January 19, 2008 10:08: Message edited by: The Mystic ]

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Either I'm crazy, or everybody else is nuts. And I know I'm not crazy because the little man who lives on my shoulder told me so.
If people don't think there's something wrong with you, there's something wrong with you.
Oh well. Another day, another dementia.
Posts: 558 | Registered: Friday, September 15 2006 07:00
Agent
Member # 8030
Profile Homepage #15
Find Herbs is useful when it provides herbs that I actually want. I usually only concoct energy elixirs and potions of clarity, and the occasional knowledge brew when I need a skill point or two.

[ Saturday, January 19, 2008 13:39: Message edited by: Excalibur ]

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I dub thee...
Posts: 1384 | Registered: Tuesday, February 6 2007 08:00
Infiltrator
Member # 7488
Profile #16
That's about all I make in A1, except the knowledge brew, which isn't available until A3. I also make energy potions until I know the elixir recipie. Considering my playing style mentioned above, I pretty much need them.

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Either I'm crazy, or everybody else is nuts. And I know I'm not crazy because the little man who lives on my shoulder told me so.
If people don't think there's something wrong with you, there's something wrong with you.
Oh well. Another day, another dementia.
Posts: 558 | Registered: Friday, September 15 2006 07:00
Agent
Member # 8030
Profile Homepage #17
Oh, I've been playing too much A3. Whatever brew requiring the highest potion making skill is what I also concoct in A1.

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set_name(1,"Excalibur");
Posts: 1384 | Registered: Tuesday, February 6 2007 08:00