I'm using the following party. Note: I haven't completed a full run-through of the game yet, so my comments may change depending on what I encounter later on. Also, I'm "making up" the character classes since the game is classless.
Char 1: Sauvigne, human paladin
Stats: High DEX, INT and STR, moderate HLT, low WILL
Key skills: Swords, spellcasting, some bow
Concept: Medium-weight melee fighter, responsible for healing/buffing the party
Comments: 1. I started out having her spend points on "bow" as a secondary weapon, but soon stopped bothering as it was just too annoying to waste a turn switching from bow to melee weapon in combat, and the benefits of a second ranged character weren't that great anyway. 2. Swords deal decent damage, but I have yet to find one that comes anywhere close to the damage that hammers/axes can dish out. I have tried wielding two swords vs. wielding one big two-handed sword, and haven't seen much difference as far as damage output. In future, I would probably have her focus on the axe/mace skill instead.
Char 2: Kantos Kol, ferran heavy fighter
Stats: High STR and DEX, moderate INT and HLT, low WILL
Key skills: Axe/mace, see secrets, some spellcasting
Concept: He solves his problems with a hammer, and he never has the same problem twice.
Comments: 1. So far, this guy is the MVP. With a magical warhammer, he dishes out more pain each round than the rest of my party combined. Any rings or items that boost STR or initiative go on him. 2. The "see secrets" skill could have gone to anyone, I just put it on him since he didn't really need the skill points for anything else. I wouldn't say it's an essential skill - it's nice to be notified when there is a secret passage nearby, but if you search carefully and pay attention to the minimap you should be able to figure out where the secret doors are most of the time without help.
Char 3: Shandira Te'Lax, faerkin thief
Stats: High DEX and INT, moderate STR and HLT, low WILL
Key skills: Fencing, stealth, lockpicking, some knives, some spellcasting.
Concept: responsible for opening doors and chests. In longer fights, use stealth/backstab to dish out some serious hurt.
Comments: 1. I didn't bother with "pick pockets", which turned out to be a good call - there's more than enough money to buy things, and very little worth buying with it anyway. 2. The fact that thieves have to split their combat skill-points between weapons and stealth tends to make them a little less effective in normal combat, but this is made up for by the huge damage potential of "backstab". On a successful backstab, Shandira can easily equal the damage output of Kantos Kol, though the fact that it takes two turns to set up makes her a little less useful overall. 3. I started out focusing on the fencing skill, but then splashed some points in "knife" when I found a magical knife that boosted stealth. Next time I would probably just go straight knives, as there don't seem to be all that many good fencing blades. (Swords could also work for this build.)
Char 4: Grelok Gunspell, goreaux mechamage
Stats: High DEX, INT and WILL, moderate STR, low HLT
Key skills: Firearms, Cast Spells, Xenology
Concept: gun-toting offensive spellcaster
Comments: 1. Offensive magic doesn't seem to be particularly effective in this game, so Grelok is probably my least useful character. Next time, I would probably emphasize melee combat and throw a few splash points in spellcasting. 2. I gave him guns since I figured he would be using spells to dish out damage in combat, so he wouldn't have to worry about constantly switching out his weapon, and that way I always have someone with a ranged weapon equipped who can snipe enemies on the map. Sniping didn't turn out to be all that useful (it's usually faster, and more fun, to just run up and punch them in the face), but the damage output on guns isn't all that bad, only slightly below what my sword-wielder can dish out. 3. I'm not sure if there is any point to raising your xenology skill above 150 - I haven't seen any new information cropping up since I hit that level - but I will keep boosting it just to see what happens.
Overall thoughts on character creation:
1. Dex seems to be the key stat for everyone - it affects how many combat skill points you get on level-up, which will start to seriously impact a character's usefulness in the long run. It also gets you a higher initiative rank in combat, which means you're more likely to kill monsters before they can hurt you.
2. Characters who will be relying heavily on a non-combat skill (spellcasting, lockpicking, xenology, etc) should have a decent-to-high INT, as this affects how many non-combat skill points you get on level-up.
3. WILL and, to a lesser extent, HLT, seem to be the dump-stats. HLT affects your hitpoints, but since I don't usually find myself taking much damage, and healing is easy in any case, I think I would happily take a hit to this stat in a future run-through in order to boost more important stats like STR and DEX. As for WILL, as far as I can tell all it does is help you resist status effects like 'slow' and 'sleep'. So far it's been pretty rare for enemies to hit me with these anyway, and they're easily cured by my spellcasters.
4. It is far better to have each character focus on one combat and one non-combat skill, rather than to try to be "good at everything" (you just end up being "bad at everything").
5. Axes/hammers (and in particular, Skull Splitter and the Magical Warhammer) used in conjunction with "mighty blow" seem to vastly outperform any other weapon combination I've tried. Since you can find two magical warhammers for free, and can buy more from Gnaw's shop mid-game, I would seriously consider building a party of hammer-wielders who differed only in their secondary skills (maybe one backstabbing thief, just for variety). Swords and polearms seem to be about on-par with each other (maybe 1/4 as effective as hammers). Firearms and bows are slightly less effective - I'd say these are optional skills, and if you do want a ranged character, you certainly don't need more than one. (Though it might be fun to try an all-ranged party to see if they could take out most enemies at distance.) Fencing and knives seem to be the weakest options so far, though I haven't tried "martial arts".
6. The best spells to take seem to be the "buff" spells (haste, strength, armor, magical barrier) and "heal". The buffs don't seem to wear off unless an enemy hits you with an opposite status effect, which makes it really easy to keep a fully-buffed party all the time.
7. The "Merchant" and "Pick Pocket" skills aren't particularly useful, since you'll soon have more money than you know what to do with. If you're going to focus on one of these, do it early in the game, since you'll soon be finding equipment that's better than anything you can buy or steal. I didn't bother with "fast talk", so I don't know if it's good for anything. "Xenology" and "see secrets" are helpful, but not essential. "Lockpicking" is helpful for opening chests and some doors (though you can often find keys for the doors if you hunt around a bit). Most of the loot you find this way is worthless junk, but there's some cool stuff.
Post edited February 05, 2014 by Azilut