It's all about the "M"

If pride comes before a fall, it seems a bit of humility has the opposite affect. My humility in the last entry which lead me to roll a pure Sorceror has developed into the smoothest runthrough of the Neverwinter Night 2 I've ever had. It's practically easy mode, and I've the "M" to thank for it.

The "M" in this case stands for "mitigation." I had learned through playing City of Heroes that the healing heroes are just burning a lot of endurance patching up wounds: the true path of victory is to prevent getting hit in the first place. In other words, damage mitigation, or an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Little did I know this lesson carried over very well into the D20 system.

By combining Barkskin (Natural AC, +5) with Improved Mage Armor (Armor AC, +6) the whole 4-member party is neigh unhittable by any foes I've encountered all the way to level 9. Magic Circle Against Alignment is a start on the deflection bonus aspect. Stoneskin provides a hefty buffer for the few blows that get through this. These are all long term "hour/level" buffs, and it has has not been neccessary to outfit the party with expensive magical armor.

The mitigation does not end there. My Sorceror has been throwing a combination of Cloud of Bewilderment and summoning spells. Against anything with a mind, the cloud has a very good chance of stunning and blinding them. Summons are probably the best attack spell in the game because they also distract enemy aggression - Summon Creature VI is savage, as the Wild Boar it summons has a +20 to hit due to obscene strength.

Neeshka, the character I'd been wrestling with figuring out how to get rid of for half a week, has proved remarkably adept in this new party. Her completely dexterity-based approach grants a nice dodge bonus to the armor class that stacks with the protective spells nicely. Her sneak attacks are made for Cloud of Bewilderment, as stunned and blinded foes are open to sneak attacks. Dual wielding is almost unfair in this circumstance. At least my scheme to use Greater Invisibility was thwarted when I discovered it reveals the character that attacks with it.

Most recently, I picked up Evard's Black Tentacles and that has been nasty, and not just for the obvious tentacle fetish reasons. Here is both a formidable damage spell and one that performs further mitigation by stunning those in the area of effect. (According to the wiki, this spell proves pointless against high armor class targets, but I'm enjoying it for now.)

I think so long as I continue my philosophy of prioritizing spells that mitigate rather than just damage or heal, these smooth goings will continue. Not only have I not had to reload much, I haven't had to rest my party nearly as often either.

If nothing else, I guess I could say that my Neverwinter Nights 2 alt-a-holicism over the past week has apparently made me very good at this game. Understanding the ludicrous power of power attack critical hits, conditions in which sneak attacks work, and how to maximize mitigation has made a big difference. Before I learned this, I think I wasted a great deal of energy on healing and damage spells: given the availability of healing potions and strong fighter arms, there's no worse use of spell slots.

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