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Ruin has come to our family…

You remember our venerable house, opulent and imperial, gazing proudly from its stoic perch above the moor. I lived all my years in that ancient, rumor-shadowed manor fattened by decadence and luxury, and yet, I began to tire of conventional extravagance.

Singular unsettling tales suggested the mansion itself was a gateway to some fabulous and unnameable power. With relic and ritual, I bent every effort towards the excavation and recovery of those long-buried secrets, exhausting what remained of our family fortune on swarthy workmen and sturdy shovels. At last, in the salt-soaked crags beneath the lowest foundations, we unearthed that damnable portal of antediluvian evil.

Our every step unsettled the ancient earth, but we were in a realm of death and madness! In the end, I alone fled laughing and wailing through those blackened arcades of antiquity.

You remember our venerable house, opulent and imperial. It is a festering abomination! I beg you, return home, claim your birthright, and deliver your family from the Darkest Dungeon.

Content Warning: The plot of this game is basically your ancestor being like “I got into some shit please save us from the consequences of my actions,” and, as the game progresses, he narrates exactly what those consequences are. Given that this is a gothic cosmic horror tale (in case you couldn’t tell by the purplest of prose going on in that narration), very little is off the table in terms of potential triggers. Suicidal ideation is going to be present throughout, and the mental illnesses that it is a symptom of is not exactly treated with care, as per the “driven to madness” trope. The end of the intro listed above even has a gunshot at the end, with the letter implied to have been sent posthumously. Also present is body horror in basically every form you could imagine it. It’s “Rated T for Teen” level body horror, but also the squickiest part of the game.

I brought up body horror specifically because that’s the most visual element. The T rating comes despite everything I’m going to list throughout the playthrough because it largely comes through Wayne June’s narration, and that can be abstracted in the translation over to a let’s play. That being said, I’m including the character bio comics made to help promote the game, and they’re both more intense with the theming discussed above (especially gore) and occasionally dwell into other potential triggers largely to do with this recurring motif of background female characters in peril. It’s not present in all of them (especially, you know, a good portion of the female characters), but it is there. So those will be spoiled away as well.

With all that out of the way…

The initial inklings of this run formed in my head around the release date announcement for the Early Access of Darkest Dungeon 2 (2 Darkest 2 Dungeon) way back in September of last year, but I had several other writing projects at the time, not the least of which was my anime blog. There’s no big other Darkest Dungeon occasion to warrant doing this now, I just have been taking a break from anime and decided to become a gamer instead of a weeb. I’ve beaten this game before, so at least I know what I’m doing, even if this challenge is new to me.

Speaking of, here is the basic gist of the challenge. Normally, one of the few blessings a run of Darkest Dungeon will provide for you is that it is always winnable. Losses will set you back whole in-game weeks worth of effort, but there are always new recruits coming in off the stagecoach, and time is one of your few infinite resources. The official way the game clamps down on this in its Stygian/Bloodmoon difficulty is to limit both deaths allowed to sixteen and time allowed to about two years, but we’re taking a different route.

The Highlander challenge is this: Instead of a constant drip-feed of new stagecoach recruits, the stagecoach instead drops off a mass of new recruits when we first arrive -- one of each class in the game -- and ceases function after that. Obviously, this imposes a hard death limit (and, given a mechanic we’ll get to later, it may be lower than you’d think), but surviving adventurers advance more quickly than you might think in this game, and adventurers in Darkest Dungeon are a fickle folk who aren’t always interested in helping their fellows progress (we’ll go over this later too if we make it that far) so there’s a pseudo-time limit introduced as well.

I have given myself a few advantages, though. The first is that I will be including all of Marvin Seo’s mods for the game, which range from new trinkets to some new minibosses to, importantly for us, six extra classes to play with. Marvin Seo’s mods are generally regarded as high quality -- enough so that he was brought on as an official developer for the final DLC of Darkest Dungeon, the Butcher’s Circus, and Darkest Dungeon 2 -- so they should be of use here. The second advantage is, well, you. I hope to channel some sort of energy from using some name-alikes here, at the very least, the pressure of people watching. There was a good response to the status I posted earlier this week, but I would like to offer readers the option to choose the class to receive their nom de plume.

To that end, here are the classes for you to peruse. As mentioned, I’ve included their biography comic, as well as the Ancestor’s quote about them, “canon” name, and a brief blurb from me about their playstyle. Feel free to comment below with who you would like to play, and the Let’s Play itself will start next week.

Base Game Classes

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Doggo the Abomination

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Comic (CW: Religious Persecution)

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“Tortured and reclusive… this man is more dangerous than he seems.”

Oh, sorting alphabetically starts us with the most gimmicky fighter in the whole game, huh? This one was originally a Kickstarter reward designed with the idea of a werewolf in mind, which means that, through his “Transform” ability, the Abomination has access to every possible move he could use. In his human form, the Abomination is a standard debuffer, with the ability to stun enemies with his chain whip and inflict blight by throwing up on them. In his Beast form, he’s a powerful attacker who only gets stronger over time.

The drawback is pretty obvious: seeing a guy transform in front of you is going to stress you out, and worse, it turns out being a beast stresses this guy out pretty hard too. It’s mitigated a little when he transforms back, but it’s one more thing to manage. Believe it or not, he used to be even more gimmicky, with classes designated as “religious” (that is, the Crusader, Flagellant, Leper, and Vestal, and, for this run, the Seraph) refusing to party with the Abomination at all. That got patched out with the release of The Color of Madness DLC; I guess they realized furries are okay, actually.

“Bigby” is a reference to a character of the same name in Bill Willingham’s comic series Fables.

<Josephine> the Antiquarian

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“She searches where others will not go... and sees what others will not see.”

Speaking of gimmicky classes, the Antiquarian's gimmick is pretty simple: she can’t fight. Or rather, she can (and honestly, an upgraded kukri does pretty good damage, her AoE blight, and how difficult it is to catch her out of position), but she’s more interested in buffing everyone’s dodge and making sure she’s never hit in the first place. The real reason to put her in a party, though, is because not only does she make it so gold stacks better in your inventory, but also if she’s the one doing the looting she finds extra baubles that can be sold for even more. So it’s a risk-reward situation.

Arbalest's Big Crossbow the Arbalest

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Comic (CW: Lynch Mob imagery)

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“Shoot, bandage, and pillage: the dancing steps of war.”

The Arbalest is your standard back-line fighter, with a powerful crossbow she can use to various effects. It can fire bolts, of course, and those certainly hit hard enough, but she can also fire suppression, bolas to shuffle the enemy around, and a very versatile flare. On top of that, she even has a half-decent heal. Her one weakness is that if she’s pulled to the front of the party, she needs some work to get back into position.

“Missandei” is a reference to the character of the same name from George R.R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire (remember when it was cool to reference Game of Thrones?).

Skaia the Bounty Hunter

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“The thrill of the hunt… the promise of payment.”

The Bounty Hunter is a quiet sort, only interested in getting the job done, and the job, in this case, is disrupting the enemy line. His kit includes several stuns, ways to shuffle the enemy, and the ability to mark enemies for death so certain abilities, including his crushing axeblade, do even more damage. Given enough time, the Bounty Hunter can find ways to take just about anyone down, it’s just a shame he won’t always have it.

“Tardif” is a reference to Red Hook programmer Pierre Tardif.

LordCowCow the Crusader

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“A mighty sword arm anchored by holy purpose.”

The Crusader is probably the most well-rounded character in the whole game. He already does bonus damage to the undead, as befitting a holy warrior of his stature, but depending on his kit, he can also stun enemies, heal both health and stress, and bolster his defenses to tank enemy attacks. He’s slow and can get caught out of position, but he has a move to deal with the latter too.

“Reynauld” is a reference to Raynauld of Châtillon, a fighter in the Second Crusade.

<Damian> the Flagellant

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“Awash in blood and delusion... He bears the burden of a thousand lifetimes.”

The Flagellant was the first DLC class introduced to the game, introduced with the rest of The Crimson Court, and as such, he has a bit going on compared to some of the other classes. As befitting the name, he enjoys the punishment he takes, to the point that he won’t even use certain moves until his health is below 40%. In fairness, he also receives a buff while at low health to make those abilities hit extra hard and is hard to kill even while at zero life, but on the other hand, he’s very nearly driven to madness already (we’ll unpack that particular quirk of his later). In the meantime, he inflicts damage over time on his enemies by bleeding them out with his flail and can serve as a secondary healer in a last resort situation, though, hopefully, it won’t come to that. Also befitting his masochism, he has to be near the front of the line, or many of his abilities won’t work at all.

“Damian” is a reference to Saint Damian, who introduced flagellation as a method of penitence to the Catholic Church.

<Audrey> the Grave Robber

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“To those with a keen eye, gold gleams like a dagger’s point.”

The Grave Robber is what is colloquially referred to as a “dancer” class. Sure, she has a massive pick she can put in an enemy’s face (the ability is literally called “Pick to the Face”), and a set of poison darts to blight specific enemies, the part of her kit she’s most known for is her ability to lunge forwards, leaping past even other members of her party to do significant damage before retreating back into the shadows the next turn. As you might be able to tell from all the “this character can get caught out of position” drawbacks I’ve been listing, this is something that needs a little bit of building around, but is powerful enough when it works to warrant a try or two.

“Audrey” is a reference to the wife of Red Hook’s creative director.

<Boudica> the Hellion

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“Barbaric rage and unrelenting savagery make for a powerful ally.”

Nothing screams “barbarian” more than an amazonian woman with an axe, eh? Her axe is the largest part of her kit, using it to hit various enemies in different ways, though she can also make a strong impression just by yelling at them, which is one of the few multi-target stuns in the game. She’s another of those tricky “must always be in the front” sort of classes even if she can provide some support elsewhere, and no, she won’t step on you, but yeah, if you ever have to kill every last enemy in a dungeon, accept no substitutes.

“Boudica” is a reference to the warrior queen of the Celtic Iceni tribe who rose up against the Roman army.

<Dismas> the Highwayman

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Comic (CW: Murder of an Infant)

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“Elusive, evasive, persistent… righteous traits for a rogue.”

I would call the Grave Robber more of a rogue than the Highwayman (nobody ever says Howareyouwayman…), but he certainly does similar things all the same. The Highwayman wields two powerful weapons, a blade and, as a neutral special, he wields a gun. This gives him excellent lethality no matter where he is in the party line. Even better, this is the first class on this list to be able to give himself the “Riposte” status, which basically gives him an extra attack of opportunity whenever he’s targeted. If he does have a downside, it’s that killing is all he can do -- even the Hellion has that YAWP I mentioned -- but sometimes, that’s all you need.

“Dismas” is a reference to Saint Dismas the Penitent Thief, who was crucified next to Jesus Christ.

Hakima and Elmer Fudd the Houndmaster and Hound

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“A lawman and his faithful beast, a bond forged by battle and bloodshed.”

The dog does most of the work, yes, alternately biting enemies to inflict bleeding and licking their own wounds to heal, but that doesn’t mean the Houndmaster himself is without use. As a former cop (don’t worry, he quit when he realized the police did more harm than good), he wields a blackjack that can stun enemies and he can whistle to mark them same as the Bounty Hunter. He can also guard his allies to make sure they don’t get hit, and doing so buffs his ability to dodge, meaning he likely won’t get hit either, which is good, because he’s actually a little fragile when it comes down to it.

The best part about the class, though, is having a dog around can help reduce the stress of the party if you’re willing to put in a little work. If you choose to name this class, you can name the dog as well, of course.

Sethera the Jester

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“He’ll be laughing still at the end.”

You wouldn’t be wrong if you called this the Bard class, playing music to buff his allies and heal their stress, but the Jester also wields a sickle he can use to bleed out several enemies at once. His abilities also have the special quality where he buffs himself, or rather, his move called “Finale,” increasing that move’s damage over time, yes, but as the name implies, that move better be the last one of the fight because there are some pretty hefty consequences if it isn’t.

“Sarmenti” is a reference to the character “Sarmentus” in the Roman poem The Satires by Horace.

Yui the Leper

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“This man understands that adversity and existence are one and the same.”

A popular king exiled from his own kingdom by his disease, the Leper now wanders the world doing the best he can, where “his best” is apparently wielding a truly massive sword to bring justice upon his enemies. His damage numbers reflect that -- not many classes can one-shot the final boss with the right buffs. Despite his disease, he even has the HP to match, so he can take as well as he can dish out. His biggest problem as a frontline is twofold: First, he’s inaccurate, so he needs those buffs to actually hit things. The second is that he has to be on the front lines. Any further back than second and he becomes dead weight, and, given how big that sword is, it’s a lot of dead weight.

Still, he makes the numbers go big and can even keep himself alive and his stress down, so he has a lot of time to reposition if he gets caught out of place.

“Baldwin” is a reference to Baldwin IV, the Crusader King.

Thar the Man-at-Arms

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“The raw strength of youth might be spent, but his eyes hold the secrets of a hundred campaigns.”

Despite his military background (or perhaps because of it), the Man-at-Arms is the most supportive class in the game, with several skills dedicated to buffing the rest of the party, a guard to keep damage off of his squishier allies (and high defenses to make sure he’s not dying either (and and a riposte so he’s dealing damage even then)), and even the ability to debuff his enemies by yelling at them instead. Plus, make no mistake, that mace of his still hurts. Maybe he’s slowed with age, but his experience more than makes up for it.

“Barristan” is a reference to the character of the same name from George R.R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire (remember when it was cool to reference Game of Thrones?).

<Margaret> the Musketeer

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Comic (CW: Unreality)

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“A champion markswoman keen for a new kind of challenge.”

The Musketeer was originally a Kickstarter exclusive, though she eventually was made available for all as free DLC. I’d spend a lot of time on this, but she’s really just a reskin of the Arbalest with a gun instead of a crossbow (and I already made the neutral special joke too!). There is exactly one mechanical difference between them in the base game and that’s in their late-game trinkets. Still, in a challenge like this, she’s technically an extra hero, and the Arbalest is not the worst hero to have an extra copy of.

<Alhazred> the Occultist

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“To fight the abyss, one must know it.”

A true jack-of-all-trades class, which is weird given how impactful his healing can be. While other healers are healing three to five points of life at a time, the Occultist can manage twelve, and by the time other healers can do twelve, the Occultist can do forty-eight. He can also pull enemies closer, stun them with his eldritch powers, and mark them for death. That being said, there are little anti-synergies in all of these, whether it’s how his stun lowers the light level or how he can’t personally take advantage of these marks, or how, while he can pull enemies closer, his best attacks target the enemy backline.

That being said, the impact of his healing can be impactful the other way as well. You see, those numbers I listed above? It’s a perfectly high ceiling to aim for, but Wyrd Reconstruction, his healing skill, can also roll a zero. Worse, it can inflict bleeding on those it tries to heal. So yes, he’s versatile, but that versatility will always come with a cost, perhaps fitting for one who has already sold his soul.

“Alhazred” is a reference to the Lovecraftian author of the Necronomicon.

<Paracelsus> the Plague Doctor

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Comic (CW: Dissection of a Human Corpse)

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“What better laboratory than a blood-soaked battlefield?”

If the Plague Doctor truly has a doctorate, it is not one that requires a Hippocratic oath. While she does have a heal (indeed, it’s one of the better heals thanks to its ability to clear damage over time statuses), she’s much more interested in the first part of her name, and how the blight her plagues inflict might quickly drain her enemies to nothing. She also has powders that can stun her enemies and a few that might even buff her allies in a pinch.

“Paracelsus” is a reference to the Swiss pioneer in the field of toxicology.

<Amani> the Shieldbreaker

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Comic (CW: Implied Trafficking)

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“Shifting, swaying -- she mesmerizes her prey before the final strike.”

The other DLC fighter, the Shieldbreaker is a dancer (both literally and in-game terms) whose spear can puncture just about any armor, even the armor provided by guards, and she can poison it as well to inflict damage over time. She’s frail, yes, but nimble enough to avoid getting hit, including an ability that prevents damage altogether. Still, as a DLC fighter, she has to include some sort of gimmick, and that comes from the traumatic nightmares she occasionally experiences while camping. Because of the nature of the estate, she has a chance to pull her allies into a series of increasingly powerful fights every time she sleeps. Defeating them might mean setting her on the path to recovery, but a loss would just be even more devastating.

<Junia> the Vestal

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Comic (CW: Religious Persecution of Same-Sex Attraction)

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“A sister of battle -- pious and unrelenting.”

Last but certainly not least of the base classes is the Vestal. If you think of a healer, you probably think of her. She’s certainly the only one with an AoE heal. It’s not all she does, though. She can also call upon divine light to strike her enemies, which may also heal her in the process or even stun the enemies she targets, and if she’s feeling particularly vengeful, some builds put her mace to good use as well.

“Junia” is a reference to Saint Junia, an apostle of Jesus Christ mentioned in Paul’s epistles.

 

Marvin Seo Classes

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<Quinn and Bird> the Falconer and Bird

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“She did not want a life of comfort. She wanted to be respected, to be powerful, to be infamous.”

All of Marvin Seo’s classes have a gimmick attached. The Falconer’s is that each of her skills is actually two separate ones tied together with a little string, and she can alternate between the two at will. This gives her incredible versatility, though it comes with a downside you might not expect. Like the Shieldbreaker, she is haunted by her past, and she and anyone associated with her are liable to be hunted down. As the mod description puts it, “Fighting these brigands can lead to great rewards, but beware the feared leader of the Talons…”

You can, of course, rename Bird as well should you so desire.

<Euryale> the Lamia

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“Beauty is remembered forever…”

The Lamia’s gimmick is similar to the Abomination’s, though it is much more pronounced. In her human form, the Lamia cannot even deal damage, and her transformation inflicts stress over time to the whole rest of the party. She does get by with having a relatively powerful HP and stress heals in the meantime, and it’s not like a gorgon’s petrifying gaze is any less overpowering when she’s technically fighting on your side.

“Euryale” is a reference to the character of the same name from Greek Mythology, the sister of Medusa.

<Joan> the Seraph

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Comic (CW: Burning at the Stake)

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“Her faith called to her, and she abandoned everything she loved for it.”

The Seraph is arguably the most vanilla of Marvin Seo’s mod classes, though even it has some interesting tension. The Seraph is a mark-reliant class in combat, placing them and clearing them for damage upon damage in equal measure. Since she believes herself a martyr, she has an ability similar to the Flagellant that only activates when her health is low, and her scarred face can even stun enemies. The tension, though, is she’d much rather work with other religious classes, but few of the religious classes support her combat playstyle, so a balance needs to be struck between the two to use her effectively.

“Joan” is a reference to Saint Joan of Arc.

<Junjeong and Nammo> the Sisters

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“Apathy and passion. Life and death. They contrast each other, conflict with each other. But without one, the other becomes nothing.”

If you thought The Lamia was the transformation gimmick turned to eleven, wait until you hear about this. The Sisters are two spirits possessing the same body, each believing they are the rightful owner of it, and each with radically different playstyles. The Scholar can heal her allies, inflict blight, and set up a weak riposte while The Warrior dances around the party line inflicting bleed and breaking through guards. Transforming between the two stresses the rest of the party of course, but also staying in one form for too long stresses The Sisters out even more, so there’s a delicate interplay to navigate. You don’t want anyone stressed too much, especially not two souls in the same body.

<The Goliath> the Thrall

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“The sophistications of the human mind, lost in a sea of anguish and rage.”

The Thrall is a brawler, yes, but an odd one. Despite his massive size, he gets stressed out by the smallest scratch, and stress in this case can lead to a frenzy where he attacks friend and foe alike. In fact, even while relatively sane, many of his attacks are either random or self-harming in nature, so while he can punch really hard, you have to make sure he’s punching the right thing.

“The Goliath” is a reference to the Biblical character of the same name (of "David and" fame).

<Ren> the Wraith

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Comic (CW: Implied Teacher/Student Relationship)

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“He died that day. What remains is a hollow husk, an unfeeling monster.”

Similar to the Bounty Hunter, the Wraith is a patient fighter, restricting an enemy’s ability to fight before going in for the kill. He even has a few moves that are more powerful when the enemy is wounded, including a guaranteed critical hit when the enemy has a third of their HP remaining. But he’s also significantly less versatile than the Bounty Hunter, both in ability and placement within the party, so that’s his trade-off.

 

i just realized how much of a pain all these spoilers are going to be to edit around. i still will but forgive me if it doesn't look all pretty

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Edited by radio414

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big sword go shwing shwing yui the leper has arrived

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Picking the obvious over the painfully obvious, Doggo the Abomination reporting in.

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On 6/5/2022 at 3:38 AM, A Billion Cheetahs said:

Don't really mind what class I get, but I have also arrived.

"arbalest's big crossbow" got it

Will edit everyone in when I get home

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Posted (edited)

Pssst can I be Houndmaster. I own the hound and his name is Elmer Fudd.

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He was pouting because I refused to let him out until he let me cut his nails.

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He's sleeping when I'm trying to organize the room. As you can see, very helpful dog. True to the class.

 

Edited by Cheshire Toon

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Posted (edited)

←Previous Post -- Next Post→

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Weeks Zero and One: "It was The Road to Hell. It was Hard Times..."

You will arrive along The Old Road.

It winds with a troubling, serpent-like suggestion through the corrupted countryside, leading only, I fear, to ever more tenebrous places. There is a sickness in the ancient, pitted cobbles of The Old Road, and on its writhing path, you will face viciousness, violence, and perhaps other, damnably transcendent terrors. So steel yourself, and remember: there can be no bravery without madness.

The Old Road will take you to hell, but in that gaping abyss, we will find our redemption.

The initial introduction to the campaign is a series of tutorial fights with the Crusader and Highwayman, but I’m going to jump ahead a little here and just go through our new adventurers, describe all the quirks that they’ve just gotten, and, when necessary give some brief commentary on how I expect them to improve.

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Doggo the Abomination:

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Uncatchable: +3 Speed when Marked
Clotter: +15% Bleed Resist
Exhausted: -5 Dodge after the first round
Fear of Helbeasts: +10% Stress and -7 Accuracy vs Beast and Eldritch enemies

Fear of Helbeasts is certainly flavorful for the helbeast of the party himself, but it will need to come off eventually. Keeping all those moves up to date is going to be a pain also, but the manageable kind.

<Josephine> the Antiquarian:

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Aberration Hater: +10% Damage and -10% Stress vs Beast and Unholy enemies
Beast Hater: +10 Accuracy and +5% Crit vs Beast enemies
Staggered: -10 Dodge while Stunned

Imagine hating furries that much. That being said, she doesn’t have her kukri unlocked yet, so all those buffs are going to go to waste for a bit. On the other hand, the debuff probably won’t matter either once her dodge cheese gets going. 

Arbalest's Big Crossbow the Arbalest:

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Cove Adventurer: -20% Stress in the Cove
Plutomania: Manic for money

“Manic for money” in this case means “will forcibly interact with any treasure-type curio” which is… fine except you do generally want agency as to when and how you interact with the things you find on your adventures. Definitely going to have to invest in the Battlefield Bandage skill also, but otherwise not too bad of a start.

Skaia the Bounty Hunter:

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Sentry: +10 Accuracy while Guarded
Antsy: +20 Stress when idle in town for a week

Antsy is a problem, especially this early on when the ways to keep a hero from idling are prohibitively expensive. We don’t even have them unlocked until week two! And even then, not all of them. Skills are alright, though. Might be nice to have access to Uppercut for another shuffle/stun, but not complaining.

LordCowCow the Crusader:

Spoiler

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Warrior of Light: +10% Damage in Radiant torchlight
God-fearing: Will only Pray to relieve Stress
Kleptomaniac: Prone to stealing items

As the tutorial classes, the first Crusader and the Highwayman are not randomized at the start of the game, so I knew what I was getting with these. Kleptomaniac obviously has to come off -- unlike Arbalest’s Big Crossbow, his forced interaction takes the things he’s pilfering for himself -- but he starts with his unholy-hating smite and his stun, so not a bad start all around.

 

<Audrey the Grave Robber>

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Cove Tactician: +15% Damage in the Cove
Profuse Bleeder: -25% Healing received while bleeding

I imagine Profuse Bleeder is going to be subtly rather terrible given how easy it is for adventurers to bleed out, but it was added with the rest of Marvin Seo’s mods so I have no experience with it. Given that Lunge is the Grave Robber’s “thing,” I’m going to have to find time for that, but otherwise not much going on here.

<Boudica> the Hellion

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Concussive: +15% Damage vs Stunned enemies
Underdog: +15 Damage, +6% Crit, and +10 Dodge while at Death’s Door
Perfectionist: Takes 5 Stress when missing an attack

So yeah, Perfectionist sucks, and while it can be mitigated with accuracy buffs, that’s not going to work against every enemy and I’d rather just not have to deal with it. Skills are great, though. Might take If It Bleeds so she can hit Rank 3, but not complaining in the meantime.

<Dismas> the Highwayman

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Hard Noggin: +15% Stun Resist
Quick Reflexes: +2 Speed
Known Cheat: Is not allowed to Gamble

This is probably the first time I get to talk about locking in Positive quirks. An extra two unconditional speed (on an already fast class, no less) in a game that, as we’ll find out, is all about action economy, is obviously good, and we want to make sure he has that forever, even if locking in a positive quirk is the most expensive Hamlet activity in the game. The skills need some work too -- both Grapeshot and Tracking Shot are kind of useless -- but he will be worth it eventually.

Hakima and Elmer Fudd the Houndmaster and Hound

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Demon Hater: +10% Damage and -10% Stress vs Eldritch and Unholy enemies
Filcher: Will steal inventory items when given the chance
Antsy: +20 stress when idle in the Hamlet

You’re killing me with these Antsy rolls, you know that? Meanwhile, Filcher is actually less of a problem than you might expect. I mean, it’s still bad and I still want it off, but, you know, it’s not as pressing. On the other hand, the skills rolled are almost perfect? Blackjack is a bit of anti-synergy since it can only be used in the front while the stress-healing Cry Havoc is a backline still, but it’s still nice to have both unlocked already.

Sethera the Jester

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Spiritual: +25% Healing received from Vestal skills
Resolution: Will never Drink to restore stress

The biggest point of contention here is Solo, which doesn’t do much besides set up Finale, which, well, we don’t have unlocked yet and even if we did, Dirk Stab does a good enough version of that job already. I’m also looking for Inspiring Tune at some point since that’s the Jester’s big stress heal.

Yui the Leper

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Eldritch Slayer: +10 Accuracy and +5% Crit vs Eldritch enemies
Demon Slayer: +5 Accuracy and +4% Crit vs Eldritch and Unholy enemies
Necromania: Fascinated with Corpses
Demonomania: Believes is possessed by demons

So that’s some emergent storytelling, I guess. At the same time, that’s two different forced interaction quirks. Yui has a 40% chance to interact with either bodies or Unholy things, so we’ll either have to avoid those places or get those out of here. The positive quirks are great, though; anything to give the Leper an accuracy boost is a good time.

Thar the Man-at-Arms

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Warrens Scrounger: +5% Scout chance in the Warrens
Compulsive: Suffers intense need to do certain actions

“Certain actions” means “anything 20% of the time” here, so that’s gonna have to get taken care of, but the skills are okay. Scouting the Warrens is actually more valuable than most dungeons given that that one has significantly more opportunities for it to trigger. All in all, not a bad roll for this role.

<Alhazred> the Occultist

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Short Temper: +20% damage when Stress is over 50
Anemic: -10% bleed resist

Nothing too bad, nothing too good. Maybe would like Hands from the Abyss as a potential skill, or Vulnerability Hex for a mark team, but everything else is about where I personally want the class to be.

<Paracelsus> the Plague Doctor

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Morbid: +15% damage vs Blighted enemies
Executioner: +10 Accuracy vs Marked enemies
Ravenous: +1 Food consumed
Fear of Helbeasts: +10% Stress and -7 Accuracy vs Beast and Eldritch enemies

Ravenous is one of those quirks that I just don’t think about until it becomes a problem, so I would like for it to not be a problem first, please. Morbid is cute until you realize she’s just not the class to take advantage of it, but her skills are alright, so I’m not going to complain.

<Junia> the Vestal

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Ambitious: +15% Damage vs large enemies
Diurnal: -2 Speed in Dark torchlight
Egomania: Obsessed with self-worship

Another forced interaction quirk to cleanse later, this time anything “reflective.” Diurnal, meanwhile is less of a problem than you might think. It’s not the worst thing in the world for the healer to go last in a turn, and the light shouldn’t be getting that low unless I’ve really screwed up anyway (I’m too much of a coward to do a torchless run), so that one might just stay around. The only thing Junia really needs is her AoE heal, but she can do runs before then just as she is.

<Quinn and Bird> the Falconer and Bird

Spoiler

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Cooperative: +5% Crit while Guarded
Skirmisher: +10% Damage and +5 Accuracy while in Position 2
Incompetent: -15% Damage to Marked enemies

This one’s going to take a lot of work. Not only does Quinn not have the skill that turns on all her other skills yet, Incompetent is not great for what she wants to be doing until then, and neither of her positive quirks are particularly good either. Not a great start.

<Euryale> the Lamia

Spoiler

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Beast Slayer: +10 Accuracy and +5% Crit vs Beast enemies
Arrogant: Retreat is never an option, even in the face of defeat!

Honestly, maybe this is my own arrogance talking, but despite the scary text of the quirk, Arrogance is probably fine. After all, if you’re retreating from a fight, you were probably losing already, so just avoid that situation in the first place.

<Joan> the Seraph

Spoiler

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Second Wind: +10% damage when HP is under 50%
Dacnomania: Obsessed with killing

Another bit of emergent storytelling, and another piece of forced curio interaction to play around. I wish she had her own skill to mark her targets, but she’s got all the payoffs including the one that directly works with Second Wind, so that’ll hopefully be fun.

<Junjeong and Nammo> the Sisters

Spoiler

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Fiend Slayer: +5 Accuracy and +4% Crit vs Human and Unholy enemies
Torn Rotator: -5% damage on melee skills

The scholar’s damaging skills are ranged, but the warrior’s are melee, so 50% of the time, that Torn Rotator’s going to be a problem. Not much to say otherwise.

<The Goliath> the Thrall

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Gutter Runner: +3 Speed when Blighted
Ruminator: -10% Stress heal received
Marked by the Flock: Whether for revenge or for trade, the Talon Brigands hunt for you…

Ruminator is bad enough but the Thrall takes Stress damage whenever he gets hit, so it’s especially bad here. Marked by the Flock, meanwhile… well it used to also say +5% stress and now it doesn’t so I’m sure it’s fine. It’s fine! It’s fine. We’ll deal with that when we get to it.

<Ren> the Wraith

Spoiler

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Skilled Gambler: Increased chance of winning while Gambling
Cove Adventurer: -20% Stress in the Cove
Nervous Bleeder: -10 Accuracy while Bleeding
Filthy: -5% Disease resist, +10% Stress

Look at that, the weeb needs a shower. Other than that, the biggest thing I see lacking is getting the Guillotine skill to pay off all his setup, but otherwise yeah, he’s good to go.

 

In a normal game of Darkest Dungeon, I wouldn’t take half of you. I’d just find the ones I liked and dismiss the rest. But, to be really corny about it, this isn’t a five-card draw, it’s a twenty-four-person stud, so studs you shall become or die trying. You’re gonna do great.

With that out of the way, let’s actually go down The Old Road to find our redemption or whatever Wayne June was talking about.

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Spoiler

When starting your first campaign, there would be all these tooltips telling you how the game works, whether that’s how to navigate whatever dungeon you’re in, to the light level, to how combat plays. There’s a lot of reading going on at first, which makes the game extra infuriating the few times the game tries to trick you. But we’ll get to that when we get to that. For my part, I’ll just include a few pro tips to make your life easier on this first go-around. The only one I have for now is to keep your light level up until at least the start of the first fight and if you see any ghosts, don’t talk to them.

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Oh good, it’s just a normal human bean. I’ve mentioned the action economy before, and it especially applies here. You want to mitigate the enemy’s actions as much as possible, whether that’s with stuns or with shuffles or just straight up killing them before they can move because, and I’m sorry if this comes across as obvious, the fewer times the enemy can do something scary, the better. LordCowCow has a stun, so we’re going to make liberal use of that.

Anyway, the fight’s easy, and just behind that is a tent that no ghosts currently live in, so that gives us a little more loot. Overconfidence may be a slow and insidious killer, but I am feeling pretty confident going into the next room.

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Ah! A slightly larger man! Technically, this counts as a boss fight, though the Brigand Bloodletter is going to appear as a normal enemy once you can venture with four party members and not just two. My big tip for this fight is to a) focus on the Bloodletter and b) make sure he dies to the bleed from the Highwayman’s Open Vein, because things that die to damage over time do not leave corpses, and corpses tend to get in the way in this game. Once the Fuselier is forced to the front, his accuracy drastically goes down.

That’s basically how this fight went, except with the added bonus that both LordCowCow and Dismas dodged a bunch of attacks, so they made out even better than I expected them to.

I doused the torch during the fight in hopes of getting a key but was unsuccessful. Don’t open the lockbox without one. It has ghosts.

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Thief: +25% Trap Disarm chance if a Skeleton Key is in your inventory
Nervous: +10% Stress
Torturer: +15% Blight and Bleed chance

This is where that Quirk management comes into play. Going into the dungeon changes you, whether you like it or not. In this case, it seems LordCowCow’s kleptomaniac tendencies are being used for good instead of greed, and while Dismas needs to get over himself a bit, he is learning where all the good blood vessels are. That can’t hurt.

The tutorial’s not over yet, though. The Hamlet is still mostly boarded up so I’ll cover that when it becomes more open, but the first foray into the ruins is scripted as well, so let’s go there. You’re supposed to run with a Crusader, Highwayman, Vestal, Plague Doctor party, but we have significantly more options available to us.

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I chose this party for a few reasons. The first is, well, I feel incentivized to use the adventurers with forum names. Besides, I don’t have a better solution to Skaia and Hakima being Antsy yet, and it’s not like they have zero synergies when paired up. Arbalest’s Big Crossbow, then, was an easy choice since the Arbalest also deals with marks, and then I needed a healer, so Junia it was. You’ll notice the name the game gave this party. That only occasionally shows up and is a sign the developers at Red Hook anticipated this party might be put together.

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Again, this will be a scripted map, so I know what I need to take to save on gold. The dog biscuits and the bandage come from choosing the Houndmaster and the Arbalest with me, and the rest, in order, are as follows: Torches so I can see, keys for chests, food for healing (and, you know, to eat), shovels for blockages, and holy water mostly for a curio but it can also boost resistances to debuffs.

I suppose I can go through the remaining items too. Dog treats are a Houndmaster-specific buff when consumed, and bandages stop bleeding. To the right of the shovels is antivenom, which cures blight, and in-between the bandages and the keys are medicinal herbs, which cure miscellaneous debuffs. In the bottom-left is ladanum, which is useless I mean, it cures the stress-over-time effect called “horror” which is a little rare, even after Marvin’s mods, and on the other side is Shard Dust, which we don’t need to worry about until at least mid-game and will be explained then.

This is an important screen, though. Once you hit that “Embark” button at the bottom, there is no turning back. We’re ready, though, so into the ruins we go.

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Spoiler

Since I’ve said it’s predetermined enough times, here is the map for this mission. Our goal here is to explore all but one of the rooms, marked here as larger squares on the map:

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In terms of tutorializing, this is actually pretty good. Most of the curios provide for other places on the map, such as the treasure box in the first room providing a shovel for the blockage ahead. The first fight is easy too, especially if you win the surprise roll.

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Surprise affects the adventuring party and the enemies differently. Here you see the advantageous option; the enemy is surprised, so everyone in the party gets to go first. If the party is surprised, instead everyone’s positions are shuffled. The disadvantage can be mitigated -- we’ve alluded to dancing parties already, and besides, outside of a few specific fights, you can’t be surprised if you see the fight coming. In any case, this fight is made particularly easy, and we are rewarded with loot, including a shovel for the blockage ahead.

I forgot to get a screengrab of the hallway battle, but it’s similarly easy. The big issue is the priest in position three, which, with the expected party comp, would be a little difficult to hit despite her stress damage making her a priority. Here, though, she can be stunned with Hakima’s Blackjack or Junia’s Dazzling Light to give Arbalest’s Big Crossbow and Skaia the time to close her quickly.

Stress is bad (just like real life!). Health recovers at the end of a run, but Stress does not, instead requiring either weeks upon weeks of downtime or, you know, therapy. It’s so, so much easier to gain stress than to lose it. Suffering a critical hit, getting hit by a trap, and certain attacks like the Priest I mentioned earlier, all of these cause stress. You’ll notice in these screenshots that the party actually started out a little stressed. That’s because they’re all level zeroes going into a level one dungeon.

Are there any level zero dungeons? Nope! That’s Darkest Dungeon, baybeeee.

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I’m skipping over this fight too, mostly using it as a section break, because you should know by now what to do with these, and nothing goes awry at all. That’s the benefit of being prepared. Incidentally, call it cheating if you like, but I do tend to keep the wiki in another tab while I play. There are enough ways to ruin a run in this game without also forgetting what item works with which curio. Keys are easy, of course. They unlock treasure chests. Perhaps using holy water on the fountain here to get a better heal is intuitive as well. Not all of them are like that, though.

The only big issue is there’s a Priest in the upper left treasure room that dodged like four attacks in a row. Were this on a higher difficulty, I could see that cascading into further problems, but thankfully, only Arbalest’s Big Crossbow got hit, and only up to 50 or so stress. Get it together, team.

Here’s another pro-tip. Go East to get the fountain fight out of the way, then retrace your steps and go North. It makes the heal available as soon as possible and retracing your steps means that you’re maximizing your chances of seeing one of the traps coming. I mean, I didn’t get either scout chance (sorry, Junia!) but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea in theory.

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Anyway, that’s pretty much it. There isn’t much else to worry about besides a hunger check in the final hallway (hunger is normally random but it’s complicated so I won’t go into it here, just pack enough food) and, just like that, the quest is completed. There’s a little bit more if we choose to go on, but the fight is a significant step up from the fights before it. It’s a full-on four-to-four, including a not-yet-seen enemy known for its speed and dealing significant amounts of stress.

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Or we could surprise them and ruin any tension. The Bone Courtier can only use its “Tempting Goblet” move -- where it spills wine on you and stresses you out because that’s rude -- when it’s in the back rows, so if Skaia uses his hook to pull it to the front, all it can do is flail a dagger. Once that’s dead, the rest follow easily. You can even use the hook again to pull the arbalist (that’s with an “i” not an “e”) forward for similar reasons.

In an unmodded game, the fight is still a little difficult, but you do have a Plague Doctor and a Highwayman to hit the back lines, and the Vestal can still try to stun the Courtier if she has that ability and outspeeds it. It’s trickier, but it still shouldn’t last too long once you gain the momentum.

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Finisher: +5% Crit after the first round
Distracted: -10% Scouting Chance
Week Grip on Life: -10% Death’s Door Chance
Potent: +33% Bleed and Blight skill chance.

Again with these negative quirks, Hak! The Houndmaster’s supposed to be one of the better scouts, too. Everyone else is alright, though. I mean, you can’t hit Death’s Door if you just don’t hit 0 health, right? 

That’s all I have for you today. Sorry I couldn’t introduce everyone, but this post has gone over 3500 words. I don’t know how the next few weeks will go, but there hasn’t been a reason for me to complain just yet. Let me know if you have any questions, either about your character or about the game at large. Next time, we’ll open up the wider estate for exploring, go through some of the slowly-reopening buildings of the Hamlet, and, as a special treat, a trip to the circus!

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Edited by radio414

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Being stuck bored in town is the worst. It stresses me out. Of course, dungeons are distracting and that stresses me out too. Can I retire and have 2.5 kids and a white picket fence yet? lmao

 

Good post!

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1 hour ago, Cheshire Toon said:

Being stuck bored in town is the worst. It stresses me out. Of course, dungeons are distracting and that stresses me out too. Can I retire and have 2.5 kids and a white picket fence yet? lmao

ur a cop i don't think you want to be "one week until retirement"

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Weeks Two and Three: Welcome to the Show

I wouldn’t normally talk about The Butcher’s Circus this early. It’s clearly meant for people already familiar with Darkest Dungeon’s mechanics. But an event fires on Week Two that heals an extra 10 Stress if you play a round and I need as many edges as I can get, so here we are. I actually did a couple fights with a couple different teams just to confirm my feelings. I’m not going to go into the details of each fight, but here’s the gist of Darkest Dungeon’s PvP mode:

Okay for starters, the mode is kinda hit or miss. I mean, it’s free and doesn’t detract from the rest of the experience, so, like, there’s no reason not to try it out for yourself, but the matchmaking isn’t great, the connections are likely buoyed by the game being turn-based and even then are prone to failure, and, well, the game just wasn’t balanced or even built for a competitive head-to-head environment.

Changes have been made, still, in an attempt to try. The biggest one is that the “things that hit multiple targets do less damage” design choice has been pared back, so they’re much more viable now. Multi-target attacks are also the ones that tend to do stress damage to help that strategy become more viable as well -- not to mention a tuning of the afflictions. It’s also harder to kill enemy heroes, with the Death’s Door system (that I’ll explain in more detail later) applying to your opponent just as much as it does to you. It’s still a game of dice rolls, and sometimes your opponent is just going to win more dice rolls than you, but Darkest Dungeon in general is about weighing that risk versus the reward anyway, so it’s not all bad.

That being said, some heroes are downright unusable. Here’s a tier list for you:

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S) Arbalest, Crusader, Houndmaster
A) Man-at-Arms, Bounty Hunter, Abomination, Jester
B) Flagellant, Vestal, Occultist, Antiquarian
C) Shieldbreaker, Leper, Highwayman, Grave Robber
D) Hellion, Plague Doctor

Musketeer wasn’t on the tier list maker I found, but she’s actually different from the Arbalest in this mode, and I’d put her in C-tier because of that. Every single difference leaves the Arbalest in an advantageous position. 

The big pro-tip for your Butcher’s Circus experience is to be as disruptive as possible. If the opponent has to spend time fixing the problems you’ve created, that’s time they’re not enacting their game plan. That’s one way a hero can be high-tier: their disruptive potential, or ability to not be disrupted. The other is versatility, or “How many potential teams can this hero be a part of?” The Arbalest and Crusader both can act as pretty tanky healers while also serving to disrupt or straight kill the opponents, so that’s why they get the top slots, and the Houndmaster rounds out the S-tier by never getting caught out of position and doing whatever else you need in the meantime.

I’m not going to go down the entire list because we’d be here all day. Instead, here are the teams I tend to work with:

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  • Stressed Out: What it says on the tin. Man-At-Arms’ Bellow inflicts stress and debuffs damage to keep the team alive while the Occultist pulls the enemy backline into Zealous Persecution and Grapeshot Blast range.
  • Marked For Death: As much disruption as possible in one team. Pulls, pushes, stuns, marks… this team snowballs and snowballs hard. Jester could also be effective here since Dirk Stab is good at getting past Death’s Door checks and Finale just straight-up ignores them, but this is the combination I like the most.
  • Caped Crusaders: All aboard the Leper train on this one. Battle Ballad buffs Accuracy, and the Leper’s Chop will mow everything down. Arbalest is to keep the stuns off and Crusader is to stun and keep everyone alive.
  • Bleeding Me Dry: Exactly what it says on the tin. Three bleeders and a Vestal who can stun and keep everyone alive.
  • Get Out of Dodge: The “cheese” comp. If your opponent doesn’t have a Jester, Man-at-Arms, or Musketeer (and those last two are going to require some upkeep), your opponent isn’t going to even be able to hit you. Eventually, your Graverobber’s poison darts will blight and/or stress everyone out.

Have fun with those. Me, I’ve got some more Ruins to explore.

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I mean, first, we need to keep Hakima and Elmer Fudd busy somehow, so I’ve decided to have them pray away their sins. While I’m loathe to have a repeat adventurer so early into the run (we’ll get into why next week), Skaia doesn’t have any stress at all and one extra run isn’t going to ruin my plans. It does mean I had to agonize about who to put where, but I came up with a plan.

You’ll notice the Caretaker hanging out in the Transept there. That’s just what he normally does when he’s not selling supplies, hanging out in the various stress-relief facilities, gumming up the operation just a little extra bit.

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There are a few new things on this page, so let me break it down real quick. The most noticeable is the firewood now joining the lineup. I chose a Medium dungeon this early in the game mostly because the heirloom reward was a couple of portraits. Portraits are probably the rarest of the four main heirlooms, and not only are they what most facilitates upgrading the adventurers' moves and gear, I would also like as close to 50 of them as I can by Week 10 for a surprise tool that will help us later.

Medium dungeons are dangerous because, well, they’re longer than Short dungeons. There are also Long dungeons, and two other lengths that are spoilers to get into so I won’t right now. The longer the dungeon, the more opportunities for mistakes and bad luck there are. There is some respite, though. The firewood allows the adventurers to camp in any empty room, which can either provide buffs or help relieve stress as needed. Long dungeons give two such logs, for however much that helps.

I should also talk about my selected party a bit. I already mentioned Skaia’s role in things, just keeping him busy for a bit, but Sethera is probably the odd one out here, given that the Jester, as mentioned, is a bleeder class and the skeletons in the ruins are very resistant to bleed. We’re not using Seth to bleed the skeletons, though. We’re going to make sure Yui can hit things. Alhazred can heal and help Skaia pull things into Yui’s blade as well, though, as we’ve discussed, taking an Occultist as the only healer is a little risky. Then again, Yui can heal himself, so maybe there’s less to worry about.

In retrospect, I probably should have packed more bandages. There's another tip for you all: Always pack more bandages. Probably good life advice in general, really.

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This fight goes exactly according to plan. The surprise means the enemies aren’t moving, Skaia pulls the ones to the front, and Yui knocks them down. There is a brief order of operations error as I realize that skeleton is a Bone Soldier, not a Bone Rabble (the difference is this one holds a sword and one holds a club) a moment too late and take some damage for it, but we’re otherwise fine.

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standard locations have crates and knapsacks to pilfer through without consequence, but things like books carry a degree of risk to them -- a 50/50 of either being good or bad. The reward of a random positive quirk isn’t worth the negative one, though, so I tend to let books be. Other curios, like altars, are generally good, though, with some Holy Water, they’re even better. I found one that buffs damage, and that went straight onto Yui.

Many of the fights we take are hallway fights. They’re generally less difficult to manage, mostly because there are fewer enemies in them. The room battles are the ones that you really need to worry about, especially when the AI gets it in its head to target one specific member of the team.

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Don’t worry, Seth, you’re not dying that easily. Now would be a good time to talk about how you might, though. Adventurers don’t die when they hit 0 HP in this game. I mean, it stresses them out, sure, and it stresses their teammates out, but they don’t stop moving. Instead, they enter a state called “Death’s Door,” and a bell tolls for them. Every speck of damage they take after that, whether it’s an axe or some wine or even just the damage over time from a bleed effect, has a 33% chance of killing them for good.

“33% isn’t a lot” you might say, and sure, maybe it isn’t. But I’ll let you take that chance on your own save file. I’m not about to lose a Jester this early in the game. Thankfully, our Occultist doesn’t do too badly this run, and besides, as long as an adventurer has at least 1HP, they can hold on a bit longer. This is, incidentally, why the Vestal’s AoE heal is so good -- she can keep multiple people alive with just one action.

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who decided my screenshot hotkey and my internet hotkey would be right next to each other on my keyboard?

HP isn’t the only bar one needs to keep track of, though. If a cultist’s eldritch magics or getting wine spilled on you by a rude skeleton becomes too much, if that Stress bar hits 100, there’s a pretty decent chance that hero is going to get an Affliction. There are several different ones in the game, each with its own debuffs and problems, but the big one is the hero becomes less helpful. They can refuse to take orders or even act on their own. Just being around an afflicted hero stresses them out. There are ways to get rid of it, sure, but they’re all difficult enough that you don’t want them happening if you can help it.

100 is also only halfway up the stress-o-meter. At 200, an adventurer has a heart attack. They drop down to “only” 170 Stress, but they also drop immediately to Death’s Door. If a hero ever reaches 200 Stress at Death’s Door, the heart attack kills them.

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Ashen: -10% Blight and Bleed resist
Headsman: +10 Accuracy vs Bleeding enemies

Thankfully, all of Sethera’s misfortune happens late enough in the run that there is basically only one more fight of fighting through all this. No other hindrances spring up, and the run finishes uneventfully. Sethera doesn’t even get a negative quirk at the end. The ones we do get aren’t really noteworthy, though I’m sure Headsman will help out in some team compositions down the line. For now, let’s stick Seth in the abbey to get that affliction off and plan the next move.

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The biggest help in Week Three is the Guild and Blacksmith buildings opening up. These are how we’re going to train you to be better units and get you better gear respectively. They’re costly endeavors, but they’re also one-time investments. Once a certain hero knows a move or has a better sword, they have it for as long as they’re alive.

We can save a little money right now, then, by taking Doggo and Euryale on our next mission. As two of our three transforming classes, none of them need to learn new moves, simply upgrade them when the time comes. Boudica only really needs to learn If It Bleeds, and Ren just needs to learn Guillotine. So that’s the party I decided to take into the next dungeon. We’re moving a little bit. This time, we’re going into the Weald.

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I chose a short Weald mission because of the trinket offered as a reward: a Speed Stone. Trinkets are little charms you can add to the adventurers to give them little buffs. There are some drawbacks to many of them -- taking increased stress damage is a common one, for example -- but a Speed Stone just offers a generic +1 speed, so it’s worth fighting to get.

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Spoiler

There are four different mission types the game can offer. The first is “Scouting,” where you need to visit most of the rooms on the map (you can miss 1, 2, or 3 rooms on Small, Medium, and Long dungeons respectively), the second is “Skirmish,” where you take every room battle, however many the game decides there are, the third is “Collection,” where you either gather a certain kind of loot or use provided loot on specified curios, and the fourth is “Boss,” where you just need to kill the boss at the end. This is our first Skirmish mission, so you can imagine my frustration when literally every fight I encountered on this quest was a hallway battle.

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Spiders seem unassuming, and if you act quickly enough, they are. But you do need to be aware, because the red ones will mark you and then go to town on you, while the green ones, when they show up, will keep you busy with a blight. I would still kill the red ones first, though. Just use antivenom to keep the blight in check.

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More dangerous, perhaps, are the wild dogs that patrol the Weald. They tend to hang out in packs and are fast enough to both go first and dodge most attacks. Even worse, if you get hit by one, there’s a chance the adventurer might get Rabies.

Diseases in this game are basically bonus afflictions. They even were classified as such until well into the game’s development cycle. The effects are slightly less varied than afflictions, though, generally working as modifications to an adventurer’s stats. Rabies, which both Boudica and Doggo (heh) get over the course of this fight, might actually be worth keeping around, though, as it offers a 15% damage increase at the expense of 10 Accuracy. I mean, we’ll have to get rid of Boudica’s Perfectionist tendencies, but that was something we were going to do anyway. 

Just going to interrupt here and say that this is not accurate to real life and if you are bitten by an animal you suspect is rabid, consult a doctor immediately.

Interestingly, both Doggo and Boudica seem to hit more after getting Rabies, which means the fight is frustrating, especially with Ren missing all of his attacks, but ends quickly after. Little did I know, the real frustration was yet to come.

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I literally said “Oh for fuck’s sake” out loud when this thing showed up. The Collector is one of four or five (depending on how you count) minibosses in the game and the only one who’s difficult to avoid. The Fanatic? Just don’t have too many vampires on your team. The Thing in the Stars? You always know where that one is. The Collector, meanwhile, spawns when your bag of supplies and loot fills up, which is basically always going to happen unless you’re specifically watching out for it.

The worst part is, if I wasn’t fielding a team composed entirely of level zero adventurers, I’d be pretty happy right now. His first move is always summoning more minions out of his collection, and he’s pretty slow, so if you manage to stun him on one of your turns, you can cut through his relatively low HP rather easily. Boudica should be great for this since she has Iron Swan, too, so she can help clean up when he does eventually get his summon off. The Collector’s loot table is also very good, so there’s reason to be excited when this happens.

But alas. Despite Doggo, Euryale, and Ren all having stuns they could use to enact this strategy, they all fail and I’m left with the prospect of facing down this thing the normal way. And you know what? No, that’s not going to happen. I’m not going to potentially lose four heroes on Week Three of a highlander run. I know I said time was limited, but it’s not that limited. Thankfully, Euryale’s Arrogant quirk doesn’t screw us as I click the retreat button and we run back to the previous room.

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There are consequences for this, of course. Running away is stressful, and because the Weald tends to generate linear dungeons, we’re forced to give up on the quest itself, causing even more stress and missing out on gold, heirlooms, and that Speed Stone I was speaking so highly of. This is one of those resource games Darkest Dungeon likes to ask. In a normal playthrough, I might have even tried the fight, but in a normal playthrough, I have infinite level 0 heroes just a stagecoach away. Adventurers are a precious resource now. We’ll get more gold some other time.

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Nauseous: -4 Speed while Blighted
Distressed: -15 Accuracy while Guarded
Underdog: +15% Damage, +6% Crit chance, and +10 Dodge at Death’s Door
Bland: -20% healing and stress healing received from Lamia abilities

Oh yeah, the dungeon still changes you on a failed mission, and, as you can see, it’s mostly for the worse. These ones, again, aren’t too bad, though. Bland on the one Lamia we’re ever going to see is very funny, though that will need taken care of at some point. The other ones are situational and, therefore, less pressing.

You’ll notice the splotch on Boudica and Doggo’s hero portraits, though. That’s a sign that they’re diseased. Rabies, in this case, remember?

That’s all for this week. I'm still reeling from that Collector encounter, but there’s no reason to panic. We’ve even, believe it or not, got a few more recruits coming in that should hopefully help us out. Plus, now that it’s Week 4, the Sanitarium is now open, and I can start making good on those threats promises to fix you into shape. Oh, and Thar, we’ll get you a turn in the dungeon too.

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Edited by radio414

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Wow, I see bad stuff keeps happening to me. Not surprised, honestly. Glad that most of it seemed temporary, at least.

Also, this game sounds frustrating to play. lol

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24 minutes ago, Sethera said:

Wow, I see bad stuff keeps happening to me. Not surprised, honestly. Glad that most of it seemed temporary, at least.

Also, this game sounds frustrating to play. lol

I cut this part out but putting you in the transept sent you on a vision quest and now we don't know where you are (read: you're unavailable next week). You'll be fine. Plus the Warrens are unlocked now and you'll do great in those as long as a pig monster doesn't throw up on you.

It's a fun sort of frustrating, at least.

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Weeks Four, Five, And Six -- I’d Say The Three Musketeers But Only One Of The Newcomers Is

I’ve been alluding to a limit different from the strict one Darkest Dungeon imposes on its higher difficulties, and last week I said I would talk about it this week, l here it is: There are four levels of quest in a standard game: Apprentice (level 1), Veteran (level 3), Champion (level 5) and Darkest (level 6). The goal is simply to clear the Darkest Dungeon’s four quests, so you might expect to be able to simply grind Apprentice dungeons until all your heroes are maxed out since that will minimize the chance of failure. But adventurers can refuse to go into dungeons. If they’re two levels higher than the quest difficulty they scoff at your attempt to put them in a lineup.

This isn’t the only way they’ll refuse, though. If they’ve managed to survive their venture into the Darkest Dungeon and emerge victorious, they will never go back in. We don’t need 4 heroes brave enough to face whatever horrors lay within, we need 16.

You’ll notice we only have 24 slots, so we can afford 8 deaths total before the game starts getting really difficult to win. Like, sure, we could send less than a full team into the hardest quests in the game, but, you know, is it even comprehendible that we might win? Now, technically the mod removes this feature, so heroes will only take a massive Stress penalty for returning to the Darkest Dungeon, and if you do this challenge yourself and end up doing that, don’t let anyone call your achievement any lesser. I just don’t want to.

So that’s the limit. These 24 adventurers are going to reach the level cap of 6 startlingly quickly, and we’re only going to be able to push back the inevitable by doing those Champion-level dungeons for so long. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what’s on the docket today.

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Cooperative: +5% Crit when Guarded
Ravenous: Doubled food consumption

Ah yes, the three DLC holdouts are going to be making their way into the game. Amani here probably shouldn’t have Ravenous for very long, but thanks to the newly unlocked Sanitarium, we can start to purge these undesired quirks. Everything else would fall under the purview of the Guild. All this is expensive, of course, hampered even further by the fact we failed to complete the mission last week, but rebuilding starts today. I do, in fact, have a plan.

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The first part of that plan is to get rid of the two Antsy quirks in the party. I’m planning to go to the Weald again -- this time, it offers a Warrior’s Cap that increases the accuracy of melee skills -- so Hakima and Elmer will come with this time, leaving Skaia behind for therapy. I should note also that you want to get rid of these quirks quickly for another reason: the longer they stay, the more ingrained they become, the more expensive they are to remove.

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The biggest question mark here is the Plague Doctor, given that she’s a blight-heavy class and the enemies in the Weald are generally resistant to blight. We have her in the third position, though, so her dagger can inflict some bleed, and really, I just want her as a secondary healer since Junjeong’s healing is over time rather than immediate.

Really, the biggest thing that can go wrong is if we run into the Collector again, though what are the chances of that? (I’d say this is dangerously tempting fate, but I already know what happens this week, it’s not).

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Spoiler

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One thing about running The Sisters in a party is an increased reliance on stress management. The Sisters have a unique affliction called “Discordant” when they reach 100 Stress, one that is certainly less manageable than any other affliction the game has to offer, so what’s happening right here? Even more bad than normal. But it’s fine. We manage the first few fights okay, and with the warrior half of The Sisters shuffling around the party so much, Hakima will occasionally get to use “Cry Havoc” to further limit that stress.

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This is an Skirmish mission, though, so let’s talk about the room battles. This first one, whether because I forgot to keep the torchlight up or simple random dice, surprises the party, meaning we’ve got our first party shuffle of the run. It’s not all bad, though. Thar’s Rampart can push him back to the front to tank the Bloodletter and has a chance to stun, and Junjeong’s Bramble gives her a Riposte to deal with that Brigand Fusilier. Plus, as normal human beings (for some definition of “normal,” I suppose), all these enemies are vulnerable to Paracelsus’ blight, just as much as they are to bleed, so it works out.

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The remaining fights are notable mostly for their gimmick. Slimes are weak enemies in the grand scheme of things, but there’s always the chance that they summon more. Or, if there are already two of them, that they’ll combine into something bigger and harder to deal with. So it’s a test of speed, really.

Unfortunately, because loot is tied to the enemies that spawn in any given fight and slimes produce more of themselves, they never drop any loot. That’s probably the biggest issue with these fights, they’re never worth it outside of straight progression. Still, at least there were only two room battles.

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Fairweather Fighter: +20% Damage at full health
Warrens Scrounger: +5% Scouting chance in the Warrens
Ravenous: Doubles food eaten
Prowler: Chance to enter Stealth while in battle

What’s with all these heroes wanting to eat all my food? Warrens Scrounger probably isn’t great on a Plague Doctor either given the Warrens are even more blight-resistant than the Weald, but that’s not a bad thing to have anyway. Overall, a successful run, not to mention the revenge we get for last week.

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Night Owl: +2 Speed when Torchlight is low
Rotten: -25% Healing when Blighted
Thin-Blooded: -10% Blight Resist

I forgot to get this screenshot until the end of my time this week, so he didn’t start with Thin-Blooded but he sure has that now. I really don’t want this guy blighted, but the Flagellant is otherwise super cool, and nothing too debilitating has shown up on the one we get.

I also dropped off Hakima and Elmer Fudd in the Sanitarium to get rid of his particular antsiness. Unfortunately, they don’t let you remove more than one thing at a time, but that one definitely has to go first.

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Running an Antiquarian and no healer into the Cove is a little risky, but I rationalized it by saying this: We need gold otherwise we’re just going to be floating in place until we start being able to manage Medium-length dungeons, and Josephine can still work to keep everyone off Death’s Door in a pinch. Besides, the Cove is known for being full of armored enemies (or scales that are like armor, anyway), and each of the other heroes can pierce through it. We should be able to speed through a few of these fights.

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Spoiler

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Okay, so another pro-tip. You want the Antiquarian to interact with all the curios because that’s how she finds all that bonus money. You do not, however, want to interact with this one unless you know what’s coming. This is a Shambler Altar. This is one of the ways to fight a miniboss. We’ll want to fight one one of these days, but, like the Collector encounter earlier, not with level zeroes.

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Already there’s a flaw in the build strategy. I wanted to outspeed the enemy and get at least a kill in before damage came in, but that doesn’t work as well in a full 4-on-4 fight, and the Cove is full of 4-on-4 fights, even in the hallways. The Grave Robber’s Lunge is good at killing the backend, at least. You’ll notice that damage is already starting to pile up. In retrospect, without a healer, I should have packed more food.

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This party definitely got lucky in places. You see here that Audrey is dodging a potentially lethal blow here, and Amani had two or three Death’s Door checks even through her Serpent Sway ability that blocks incoming damage. It’s my own dang fault, really, for being too used to the Butcher’s Circus version of fights, especially forgetting in the heat of battle that an adventurer could, in fact, bleed to death. It’s something I’ll have to be more careful about in the future.

There’s your real pro-tip: always bring a healer!

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Never punished, though. I mean, that Affliction Amani’s got is going to cost some money in the Abbey to treat, but that’s not really punished, that’s just an expected part of the game. Not to mention all the money Josephine pulled in offsets that cost by itself.

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Fairweather Fighter: +20% Damage at full health
Profuse Bleeder: -25% Healing received while bleeding
Dipsomania: Intense craving for alcohol

Our last addition to the team, with a screenshot of her so new that I didn’t even change the name yet. Like I mentioned before, she’s another Arbalest, but another Arbalest is not a bad thing to have. In fact, she’s probably good enough to take with us into the final run of the week.

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Margaret probably could have been the healer by herself, especially for a Short-length mission and especially in the Warrens. Still, I wanted to be sure after the previous run, so Alhazred came with as well. We also get to see Damian in action, since the Flagellant shines here, and The Goliath’s main attack also inflicts bleed, so he’s a welcome addition as well. Speaking of, low accuracy fighters like The Thrall are why having accuracy trinkets are so important. The Warrior’s Cap went straight onto him.

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Spoiler

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So I needn’t have bothered so much. This was the only room battle in the dungeon, and nothing stood between us and it besides some knapsacks with redundant maps in them. Alhazred pulls things to the front for The Goliath and Damian to hit, while Margaret shoots whatever Alhazred didn’t pull. It’s a good system and it works. We even go around for a few more hallway fights afterwards...

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Cooperative: +5% Crit while Guarded
Thin-Blooded: Thin-Blooded: -10% Blight Resist
Aberration Hater: +10% Damage and -10% Stress vs Beast and Unholy enemies
Weald Adventurer: -20% Stress in the Weald

The end result is the same each time. This is fine, really, and not in the “dog drinking coffee while the room around him burns” way, either. It’s definitely okay by me that a run is uneventful. It makes for lousy blag content, sure, but hey, they can’t all be winners.

That’s it for this week. Next real-life week, we should be hitting Week 10, which will be when step one of my grand plan comes to fruition. I’ll give you a hint, it involves the truest eldritch horror of them all: Capitalism.

-r

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