Thought I would see how possible to do a minimal cheese, high combat solo run. Definition of cheese is completely subjective obviously. My overall thoughts are that this is not particularly fun, but perfectly doable if you do lots of metagaming and know where all the items are. So really strategic cheese replaces tactical cheese. Obviously strategic cheese trumps gimmicky tactical cheese ever time (source: me).
Scrub-tier stuff to be avoided:
Headband of intellect
Lae’zel’s half plate
box-forts and towers
Stealth in combat
Imp invisibility in combat
major AI glitches
the mega-hp spider familiar
Throwables in ways that seems to abuse the enemy ai
food (though idk why you would ever want to waste a bonus-action eating)
party members leaving the camp for non-combat actions (pseudo-soloing)
Stealth for pre-combat positioning, surprise and getting those all important first two eldritch blasts in
taking things back to camp for someone to unlock
jumping about in combat for disengage and repositioning
imp as fodder
Shove sometimes, though with 8 str it ain't great
This is what I went with:
Alice the Popular yet Uneducated Sailor Drow Fiend Dex-Warlock
Sailor origin for the important perception and athletics bonuses
Drow for the sleep immunity, cha bonus, Darkvision and Shortsword proficiency
Starting Skills: Doesn’t really matter – Sailor already gives you the important ones. I picked intimidation since I am a deadly warlock lady who is about to fuck up this game.
Cantrips: Eldritch Blast + either Friends or Blade Ward
Lvl 1 Spells: Armor of Agathys, Expeditious Retreat
Notes: Armor of Agathys boosts hp + 5 and does 5 hp to melee attackers who connect, which is well worth it. Lvl 2 version is bugged in that it gives the proper +10 bonus HP but still only does 5 damage to attackers, not the stated 10; still 100% worth it. Expeditious Retreat is concentration based so you can have it up before combat - turns dash into a bonus action which is very powerful.
Because we are a warlock, you can put up Armor of Agathys and/or Expeditious Retreat or Hellish Rebuke then take a short rest to replenish you spell slot(s). Obviously I do this constantly.
The prologue should be easy: push Lae'zel off the nautiloid (sorry!), kill all the imps and the intellect devourers, grab anything of value (esp. the potions of speed), equip dual daggers.
Beach Should be easy too: take a high position above the intellect devourers and blast to pieces. Recruit Shadowheart for 30xp then kick her. This should net you level 2.
I agonized (heh) over what to take at this level but eventually settled on Agonizing Blast for the + 3 to eldritch damage from 16 Cha and Fiendish Vigor for the cast at will False Life as an action. Repelling blast might have been useful but it just feels like tacky trash for people who are bad at video games. Thief of Five Fates could have been useful, but it uses a spell-slot rather than being a once per day thing.
Fiendish Vigor does not stack with Armour of Agathys, instead overwriting it, but it effectively gives a free predictable +7 HP heal as an action, which can be combined with bonus actions like offhand attack, expeditious retreat, jump/disengage, misty step, drinking a potion. I found it pretty useful for when Armor of Agathys dropped/cracked.
Spellpick: whatever: I took burning hands here but it doesn't really matter at this stage since you are going to ditch it at lvl 3
You're a pitiful weakling so the Harper ruby is a no go. Recruit and kick Astarion and Gale. Grab the leather helm so you look like a chump. Make your way to the druid grove. Take the high ground position and Eldritch Blast everyone to pieces, should not be a problem. Maybe someone will die, the fight is very rng. Grab the Absolute's Bane-inducing gauntlets.
Sell your trash but keep potions and scrolls. Recruit Wyll then send him to your camp. Now we need to get to level 3. Scrape up the exploration XP. Ignore Khaga, Netty, Sirens, Tunnel Goblins for now. Head towards Blighted Village.
Blighted Village 1
Grab the Rusty Amulet for Guidance (concentration). Talk your way into the Village. Grab the Steelforged Sword from the blacksmith's basement (equip it obviously) ignore the gnome fight, he can spend a few more days/weeks on the windmill. Kill the sleeping bugbear. Go to Goblin Camp.
Goblin Camp 1
Talk your way in. Grab all available free XP. Fuck up Volo's day. Get the Brand of the Absolute from Gut and equip the Absolute's Badass Bane Gauntlets. Free Volo from the cage and send him back to camp, then pickpocket his ring and equip it (Whispering Promise - This give 1 round bless every time you drink a health pot.) Buy a +1 Shortsword from the Zhent trader (I forgot to buy studded leather here, but do that). Jump round the back into into Priestess Gut's antichamber bit. Stack some boxes and jump over into the Zhent strongroom and steal their chest (I had astarion unlock it in camp) Loot thousands of gold. head to Ruins.
Wreck the chumps arguing outside. Bluff your way inside and merk the guard. Hopefully by this stage you have attained level 3.
Level 3: you now have OP imp summon, but remember, no invisibility abuse.
Spellpicks: grab Misty Step and Mirror Image (swap out your level 2 pick for one of them)
The Problem now is that getting to level 4 takes a long time, and before that you are only level 3, and there is only one of you - so obviously there are going to be some very difficult solo fights ahead. This is the most tedious part of solo, no question. But also quite rewarding, its much easier to get to level 4 with a party then go solo, which is nooblet tier solo imo.
Hack and blast your way through the party of looters (You can do this at level 2 but its much more rng dependent). Pros don't use the ridiculously placed barrel obviously, they get the clumsy mage to flaming hands their own party. You don’t even need the imp here really, I used quasit 'cos its scarycute. Head downstairs, loot the chests, grab The Watcher's Guide, steal all the corpses weapons, or don't either is fine, depends if you're a pro-tier gamer or not Do the undead fight. I did this with no imp (I forgot) and played around with ducking into the final vault room - bit cheesy but I forgot my imp. Grab the Speak With Dead amulet and chat to the lich, head out the trap door exit.
I will admit I kind of cheesed this one. The Owlbear is just so brutal in melee that going toe to toe solo at level 3 is more rng than anything else: Mirror images and potion of speed helps, but when it went super saiyan I misty-stepped up to the ledge and blasted it to bits. I could have waited 'til I had better gear and was level 4 but I did not. It does mean you can grab Oakfather's Embrace and the egg which you can sell for potion money.
Goblin Camp 2
Return to the Goblin Camp. Attack Crusher, kill him and his friends without alerting the whole camp (flee up the ladder). Grab his ring and equip for + 3m movement, nice.
Kill the Sleeping Goblins + Bugbears without alerting the rest of the camp.
Head inside. Kill the 3 guards outside the Worg Pen entrance (destroy the Drum first, then the ladder and no one else should be aware.)
Hack Minathra to bits toe to toe like a pro with Mirror Image x 2, Armour of Agathys lvl 2, Bane on hit, Bless on heal, imp on crowd control. This fight can be annoying depending on her two goblin friends, make sure they're not filling you full of arrows with advantage or banging the drum. Grab her mace and especially her Amulet of Misty Step - nice.
Wander around the rafters and pick off various goblins inside without alerting the whole crowd - blast away the drums, kill the spiders.
Go to the Worg pens, charge in like a moron - no special planning required since Halsin will get free and help you and you killed the guards at the entrance already. Tell him to chill out in the dungeon surrounded by corpses for a few days while you wrap up some loose ends.
Wander back down to Princess Gut, tell her you want her to help with the tadpole and go back to her room. Murder her as fast as you can. She'll probably call for backup but finish her off before the rest of the gobbo + zhent party shows up, grab the Absolute's Talisman and her key. Leave into her bedroom, Eldritch blast, imp and melee her bodyguard to pieces. Head down into the underdark.
Go to the Myconid Village without fighting the minotaurs. Use Misty Step to snag Shadow of Menzoberanzzan and replace your dorky leather helm with this even dorkier larp one. Kill the sick gnome and take her Boots of Speed - wow dash as a bonus action, good shit (No need for expeditious retreat anymore). Leave the Underdark and go back to Blighted Village, then cross the river towards the Gnolls.
Other Side of River
Newborn Gnoll fight should be easy - hack-em-up.
Gnoll Fight 1, 4 Knolls at a crossroads:
Wow, hard at level 3. This was my last fight before I hit Level 4. Maybe could have scraped some XP somewhere else but live dangerously. Multishot Archers hit for like 20 damage sometimes. Strategy that works I found was to approach from the east with helm invisibility and imp invisible. Blast one of the archers twice then jump your imp right into the middle of them as fodder. Concentrate only on the archers, use misty step and you new bonus action dash to get around, use mirror image to weather damage. If you can take out the 2 archers the fight is over since you can use boots of speed dash to run away east and blast the melee only pair as they run after you towards the bridge. This should put you at level 4. If it doesn’t do some more exploring – maybe kill Netty and the gobbos under the druid grove if you want easy XP.
Level 4: Finally
New Cantrip: I had chosen Friends at lvl 1 so I took Blade Ward here since it was the only one which seemed to offer combat some utility. Half damage for 2 rounds isn't all that bad I don't think but is it worth an action idk.
New Spells: Ditch Expeditious Retreat since you have the Boots of Speed now, and pick up Hellish Rebuke and Shatter. Hellish Rebuke is a good choice now since although it only does 3d10 once, you can cast as a pre-buff it along with Armor of Agathys then short rest to renew your spell slots and it stays up. The first thing to melee you through your mirror images takes 5 + 3d10 damage often turning them into paste. Shatter is fun if you want to let off an AoE rather than have 2x Mirror Image.
New Feat: So much to choose from. I can see a few options: could go dual weapon for the +1 AC and ability to dual wield Rapiers which would mean two attacks at 1d8, but there is only one +1 rapier in EA so its debatable maybe. If this was a str build could take this for dual wield with the shattered flail and either redcap sickle (2d4), or Burning Axe, Xyanyde or anything useful, but its not its dex bay-be. Could chose mobile feat which would combine well with boots of speed dash, but don’t really feel like kiting around forever like a nooblet. In the end I went Cleric Initiate, for the cast of Armour of Faith (AC + 2 with concentration) The cantrips arn't that important though thaumaturgy synergises with a Warlock pretty well if you're the talking to people menacingly type of warlock. Bless would be an option but I can just bonus action a heath pot for 1 round bless anyway with The Whispering Promise ring, Bane is o.k. but enemies get a save and Gloves of Power means a lot of enemies are bane-d anyway. My wisdom is only 12 so nothing else really seems that good and a single cast of lvl 1 inflict wounds per combat isn't very exciting. Tbh I am not that sure about this part of the build since if you had different stats to start with (dump wis as well as int and str) you could be looking at getting 18 dex and 16 con at this point.
Gnoll Fight 2, Gnolls at the cave
Wow, hard fight, but level 4 makes it ok + I did it from inside the cave which is the fun but also easy way. You need to keep the zhent middle manager guy alive for access to studded leather + 1, so do that. Climb up the ladder and destroy it once the other two are up there, Eldritch blast from height, tank the stairs with mirror image and your imp, try and hit a group of 4+ gnolls with shatter, maybe throw a grease bottle or two, go to town.
Once they're dead you can now go buy Studded leather Armour + 1 in the Zhent Hideout. I would but I accidentally pissed them off yesterday, whoops -___-
That gives you all your final EA solo gear.
Studded Leather + 1 (theoretically, I had regular studded leather)
Steelforged Sword and Shortsword + 1
Shortbow + 1 (for the odd pinning shot)
Shadow of Menzoberanzzan
Gauntlets of Power
Amulet of Misty Step (Khaga’s poison on heal amulet might be interesting here as might Absolute’s Talisman, though if your health is under 25% you're probably already fucked or running away)
The Whispering Promise
Boots of Speed
The only “mandatory” fights left are Dror Razlin and a few gobbos who should be a piece of piss, and the Duergar fight in the Underdark. On top of that are all the tough fights: the Gith, the Templars, the Redcaps, the Hag, The Minotaurs, Phase Spider Matriarch, Mud Mephits, Khaga + Shadow Druids, 3 Ogres, Bulette, Hook Horrors, Spectator + Drow, Koa-toa, and the Gnome Fight which I accidentally skipped with the tadpole (nets 50XP I think, but feels cheap). I’ve got at least 2 haste potions left which turn fights into cake-walks so would have to decide which of these needs them. Going to play around but I am kinda interested which of these are doable level 3 solo, since Im pretty sure the cave-gnolls would be doable at lvl 3 from inside. So for now I’m going to restart and refine my play then have a go at them.
I guess I have proved to myself that pretty much full-solo up to level 4 is possible with this build and without any of the common “cheese tactics”, though perhaps not every fight, we'll see. I’m going to replay using what I have learned and then try some of the end-content fights.
Last edited by alice_ashpool; 09/11/20 10:18 PM.