Thanks people for your likes and congratulations It's nice to be in ToB again, after many months of failed or aborted attempts.
Cleric/Thief is certainly a combo with potential, though I'm a bit unsure how to play the class in (the last part of) ToB. I see different options.
I might try to continue playing him the way I played him in SoA, i.e. a bit like a Fighter/Mage, with quickly cast spells, including offensive spells, thanks to the Amulet of Power and the Robe of Vecna and with arcane (from scroll/item) as well as clerical buffs and protections for melee work. I'll need lots of Stoneskins and PfMWs though, because Bardin's AC is bad, and don't think I have enough PfMW scrolls (about eleven).
Another route would be to go for damage resistance. Bardin got 30% slashing resistance from the neutral Sacrifice path in Helll, receives 25% physical resistance whenever he casts Armor of Faith plus another 25% whenever he dons Jan's armor. One of Ascension's Bhaalspawn powers is a passive +25% to all physical resistance. This means that Bardin can end up with 75% piercing damage resistance, 100% missile damage resistance (Belt of Inertial Barrier), 105% slashing damage resistance, and 125% crushing damage resistance (Roranach's Horn), as long as he's able to keep his Armors of Faith up. EDIT: I forgot to include another +20% from the Defender of Easthaven for pretty much complete physical invulnerability. (Was a bit in a rush to go to a concert )
Elemental protections would have to come from potions and green scrolls; magic resistance (optional) from items and potions. This appears to me as the safer route, though being unable to cast much due to increased risk of spellfailure is a big drawback.
Bardin, LN Cleric/Thief, in ToB (Part 1)
My memory of this battle is a bit fuzzy, because I had to reload due to a crash. If I'm not mistaken, things went as follows. Pre-set time traps allowed Bardin to dispatch two of Illasera's Black Reavers, a rogue and a wizard, at the beginning of the battle.
Since Illasera could see through invisibility, the Gnome intended to deal with the Bhaalspawn asap. But when time resumed and Illasera went after him, Bardin managed to shrug her off, in the south of the area. This allowed Bardin to deal with the other minions first. His strategy was to start with SotM dispels and backstabs, and finish his foes in melee when they were badly injured.
Illasera killed herself thanks to her arrows reflecting off Bardin's Reflection Shield straight back at her.
One of the Reavers dropped a Cloak of Protection +2, so Bardin could now get a second upgraded cloak and thus a second long duration Improved Haste, from Cespenar. Pocketplane Battle I
Patience saw Bardin prevail here. While a Cleric/Thief with 8 million XP does have the means of quickly dispatching groups of enemies, their options are more limited compared to those of warriors with multiple GWWs and especially wizards with multiple ADHWs and other area damage spells. The Gnome saved his spells in case he needed them later, and used the Wand of Cloudkill instead to dispatch the first groups of enemies that appeared: Kobolds, Gnolls, Ogre Mages. Unfortunately the Sahuagins that followed were less vulnerable to the wand's effects. Bardin slew some of the creatures but not all with Holy Smites, Divine Wraths and melee attacks before Sarevok, Bodhi and Irenicus arrived. Irenicus removed Bardin's buffs and went for IA + Time Stop + Greater Malison + Fallen Planetar + Gate x2 + Energy Blades. When time resumed Bodhi hit and con-drained Bardin and Irenicus injured him with Energy Blades and a surprise Melf's Acid Arrow when an unintentional click on a weapon on the ground made Bardin visible. Irenicus also cast Wish ("I wish for my party to be invulnerable", which gave him and others Hardiness). Bardin managed to cast Death Ward to avoid Dark Planetar or Balor vorpals, and he quaffed an oil of speed soon after. Irenicus made sure that more fiends followed, an Ultroloth and a Nycaloth that both summoned Skeleton Warriors, but Bardin simply made sure he stayed on the move, pausing only for a potion of superior healing, and remained SotM-invisible to Sarevok and Irenicus (but not to Bodhi, the fiends, and the Sahuagins who all saw through the ruse.)
Bardin just kept running around, waiting for the fiends to be unsummoned. After all there was little for him to gain in fighting them, and there would be a high risk of getting swarmed if he paused to fight. The Gnome's Turn Undead ability destroyed the Nycaloth's smaller Skeleton Warriors, but not the Ultroloth's larger variant.
When the last of the fiends was gone, Bardin dispelled Irenicus' buffs with a SotM-dispel, mostly to annoy his foe, because Irenicus wasn't Bardin's first target. The Gnome decided to further thin the enemy's ranks first, by taking on the Sahuagins and a surviving Ogre Mage with Holy Smites, a Divine Wrath, and melee attacks.
With only a Skeleton Warrior, Bodhi, Sarevok and Irenicus around, there was much more room for Bardin to manoeuver. He even managed to set three time traps at the left end of the area, making sure the first two weren't triggered before the third was set. Bardin then lured Bodhi into them, and he finished the Vampire and injured Sarevok in the time his snares gave him, thanks in part to an Improved Haste he cast via his cloak.
Sarevok fell soon after to the lingering slivers of Bardin's club followed by an Implosion.Saradush
Bardin didn't stay long in Saradush. He didn't like the place at all. Apart from the incessant incoming fire boulders from Yaga-Shura's army, the townspeople's prejudice against him was insulting. When he got into a fight with some of Gromnir's men, others turned against him as well: humans, elves, militia guards, Alexander Ralisar, Oris Nimblefingers, and even captain Samand (the killing of whom lowered Bardin's rep to 10, made the Justice for Mateo quest unavailable, and kept Kiser's house inaccessible). The Gnome patiently slew them all (backstabs, Storm of Vengance, Holy Smites, Divine Wraths).
He also dispatched two Cultists and their Cold Mistress, and retrieved Lazarus' spell book so he could purloin some very good arcane scrolls.
He returned to his pocketplane and had Kitty injure him so as to trigger his Chain Contigency (which would trigger at 10% of HPs left), and then cast a new one containing Greater Restoration, Death Ward and Armor of Faith, to trigger when HPs go below 25%.
The Gnome returned to Saradush where he invested in his reputation at the Temple of Waukeen, and obtained a prison key from Sister Farielle. The prison's vampires were no problem thanks to Turn Undead, although Phlydian didn't explode; she merely fled. Bardin finished her with backstabs.
In Gromnir's dungeon Bardin released several prisoners, which saw his reputation rise to 20 again, while staying invisible before the guards. On the first floor of Gromnir's castle Bardin found a quiet spot where he buffed himself for his imminent meeting with Gromnir. Again the guards were left alone.
Upstairs he lured Gromnir and most of his cronies to the Half-Orc's throne before going invisible. It resulted in Gromnir getting stuck between his own allies. Bardin then softened up Lashar'ra with a backstab and the crowd, including all mages, with a Storm of Vengeance.
The spell killed one Il-Khan Battlemage as well as Ramazith.
Interestingly, Bardin ran into two red-circled invisible entities, each called 'Target', on the east side of the room. In the last screenshot you can see Bardin standing next to one. According to EEKeeper they are a BP addition. They're 100% resistant to all elemental damage types, to all physical damage, and to magic, and they have an AC 0 and saves of 1. They didn't attack Bardin but they did follow him within a certain radius whenever he got too close to them even when invisible, and enemies would then try to cast AoE spells at the Targets.
Bardin considered the Targets little more than a nuisance, as they prevented him from setting snares, but enemy spells were not something he had to worry about much. Several charges of the Wand of Cloudkill (which was harmless to Bardin thanks to his Ring of Gaxx), made sure that enemy wizards and priests wouldn't be casting much.
The damage dealt was just a positive side-effect.
Bardin patiently let the Cloudkills do their work, though he spent a couple of invisibility potions to speed things up with backstabs.
On the platform there was another invisible presence, Snare Trap. It constantly detected Bardin's invisibility, inspiring the Gnome to steer clear of the platform.
Bardin slew all of Gromnir's minions except Eler Had who was invisible most of the time, and finished an already injured Gromnir in melee with HP+RM+DUHM and Improved Haste.
(Bardin had also activated Assassination but Gromnir was immune to backstabs.) Eler Had was then finished in close combat.Yaga-Shura
In the North Forest Bardin killed the robbers so as to get access to Karthis al-Hezzar's wares (scrolls and potions mainly). In the Forest of Mir he had some difficulty with the Wraiths when his Sunrays proved insufficient for quick disposal of the undead.
He eventually prevailed with Turn Undead and time/spike traps.
The Gnome could fight the Skeleton Mage on its own, as it Dimension Doored toward him. A SotM dispel and a backstab were all Bardin needed to disptach the creature.
The other undead were even less of an issue.
At the entrance to Yaga-Shura's lair Bardin set spike traps to deal with two Burning Men, so that he could walk around invisibly without being harrassed. Inside the dungeon, he did the same with four Fire Trolls (taking them out in melee). With Detect Traps (the spell), an oil of speed, and SotM-invisibility Bardin managed to secure access to the second floor without having to deal with other critters, outrunning even a Dimension Dooring Fire Lich.
On the second level, the drill was the same: get in, disarm snares, and pick up required items (in this case the two hearts). Brimstone the Dragon somehow managed to follow Bardin downstairs, but the Gnome simply rushed off, back to the Forest of Mir.
There he had Nyalee cast her magics on Yaga-Hura's heart before he blew her up with his spike traps.
Yaga-Shura was dealt 1 damage with the SotM, which was enough for him to retreat for a while. Bardin used that time to place seven spike traps but those were all triggered by a Lieutenant Thief.
Bardin then lured Yaga-Shura into a quiet space that was large enough for the Gnome to get out of Yaga-Shura's sight without being noticed by others. It enabled Bardin to place all his time traps (at different moments) and club the giant to death.
Pocketplane Battle II
I lost Norgath, my Dwarven Bounty Hunter here last year, mainly due to my being unfamiliar with the battle. I remember being surprised that faux Norgath was a warrior with a two-handed sword and GWWs. (Makes some sense though because the dialogue preceding the challenge is about Charname's and Sarevok's roles being inverted.) As with the first pocketplane challenge and as with the battle in Gromnir's castle, patience was key. Bardin spent the first couple of rounds running around, hasted by both his boots and an oil of speed, waiting for faux Bardin, who was also hasted, to expend his (G)WWs and for Semaj's simulacra to expire. Since faux Bardin could see through invisibility he was difficult to get rid of. Bardin had to dispel his foe's haste with the SotM and later again when the latter applied an oil of speed. He failed to set a snare on the eastern edge when no one seemed to be in sight, but that was because hidden Angelo still had to reveal himself. Either way, Bardin had the opportunity to cast the holy triumvirate, and used his divine power to soften up Tamoko.
It was only then that Angelo appeared. Semaj cast a Time Stop, but Bardin had moved to the other side of the area by then, and he was invisible when he spell took effect.
Stopped time went by uneventfully. Bardin dispelled faux Bardin's buffs, and those of Semaj, interrupting the latter's casting of another Alteration spell (another Time Stop?).
The wizard then quaffed an invisibility potion, and Bardin retreated to the east, where he managed to set a time trap. When it triggered he slew Tamoko and injured Angelo.
The setting of a second time trap failed when faux Bardin approached, but Bardin made more progress soon after, when he felled Angelo with sneak attacks.
Only Semaj and faux Bardin remained. The former was SotM-dispelled and finished off in melee. His casting of a Dragon's Breath could not deter Bardin.
Faux Bardin triggered a couple of time traps, which gave the real Bardin enough time to activate Assassination and defeat his foe.
Bardin received Resurrection as his first Ascension Bhaalspawn power (for giving the Solar the 'evil' answer that Gorion's debt had been paid).Oasis
Unfinished Business allows for a peaceful resolution of the encounter with Tombelthen, I discovered. I roleplayed Bardin here, and ended up garnering the General's trust.
Bardin moved on to Amkethran where he had a short talk with Balthazar, bailed the Mayor's thieving daughter out of a violent encounter with Mercenaries, and did some shopping in a Smugglers' Cave before the Monks would rid the place of the smugglers.
Watcher's Keep, Sendai or Abazigal are next. I'm inclined to go to Watcher's Keep to experiment with the two options I mentioned above (Bardin the Vecna-wearing spell caster vs Bardin the Adventurer Wear-clad damage resister).