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Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones - Character Building Guide (for Beginners)

Written by Sisyphus   /   Sep 30, 2019    

This will provide an overview of classes and skills and some tips for ways to build your character that will hopefully help people get the most out of the game.

Stygian Guides:


Rather than looking at the different archetypes, I'll be providing a breakdown of skills and their combinations.

My tier list for skills

  • God-tier: Melee, medicine.
  • Good: Science, psychology, survival, occult.
  • Mediocre: Stealth, firearms, investigation, athletics.
  • Trash: Subterfuge, speechcraft

Melee is the best skill for combat bar none. My reasoning is that guns generally require high AP and/or ammo that is scarce and doesn't do enough damage to justify the investment. The only time to use guns is if you've rolled a non-combat character or for flavour. As enemies generally charge in and cover/terrain isn't much of a factor, you need characters that are able to tank and/or surround the enemy for a flanking bonus and rear attacks, hacking them to death. Guns don't help you do that.

Some numbers for context, admittedly not scientific: a punch from a 10 physique soldier = 5-7 damage at 2 ap. A shot from a 38 cal pistol with limited ammo at 4 ap is somewhere between 3-7 damage. Even the best pistol in the game is around the 5-8 mark, the best rifle 5-10? damage. With a machete or saber you can do over 20 damage in a single rear crit at 2 attacks a turn. Flanked enemies get defence penalties. A powered up spell that cost 10 sanity did about 15 damage in a large-ish area, but is that really worth it when you just tear through enemies at no additional cost?

Occultism is the worst for combat by a long margin. Spells cost sanity, their effects are generally very specific, and the damage/effects don't justify the cost in my opinion.

Medicine is a great skill: it has applications in dialogue, it increases healing on rest, and you can craft drugs! The best non-combat skill in the game in my opinion.

Science is cool for crafting and provides lots of interesting dialogue options/interactions, psychology is great as well for dialogue. Occult is saved from mediocrity for the number of useful outside of combat quest solutions it provides. Survival is really good for traversing the world map and preventing ambushes during rest, as well as getting a lot of unique crafting recipes.

Stealth is a trap option, you will be forced to fight in some occasions so avoiding it the whole game is a bad idea. Athletics is a circumstantial pick but limited in usefulness.

Subterfuge and speechcraft have very limited applications, usually only helping to save or gain a few cigs here or there or doing things that more generalised skills offer. Avoid that trash.

Designing Your Player Character

Some suggestions for character archetypes:

Easy mode:

A young soldier with 10 physique/8 dex/ rest into sense, presence dump stat. I don't recommend dumping will or mind. Max out melee and survival. My reasoning for survival over athletics is that survival increases your damage resistance, which should be sky high from all the physique anyway. You can select dodger in the perk tree to increase your physical defense (increased by athletics). Survival also has the benefit of recipes and keeping watch while resting/smoother travel on the world map, so I believe it is a strictly better choice. Equip a 4 ap weapon with high damage, like the indian's machete or Colonel Grant's saber, and you can do insane damage with a rear crit strike.

Adult non-combat scientist:

All stats 4 except 8 mind 6 sense 6 agility. You can dump presence if you want and free up a point. This choice is viable in combat as long as you stick to pistols with reasonably good handling and let your companions/henchman tank. Pick between medicine, science, psychology. Medicine is probably the best choice, but you can amass drugs by other means. Science and psychology have their merits.


Similar to scientist except swap mind for will, 4 sense, 6 agility, 6 mind. I wouldn't really recommend this path, but it'll play similarly. You can buff up firearms to have a more reliable source of damage. The non-combat usefulness of occult and the flavour it provides are kind of worth it though.

The Outsider

Build this guy for melee! He becomes a top tier damage dealer by the end of the game.

  • Recommended skills: Melee, medicine
  • Recommended perks: Wrath of isolation, hollowing strikes (or whatever it's called).
  • Recommended artifacts: claw of pazuzu, the mark that gives +2 agility, +1 melee artifact.

Think of the Outsider as a rogue. He does a lot of damage, but he is relatively frail, more of a glass cannon. Keep him on the outside of combat until he can backstab. The damage output gets insane, especially if you drug him up.

Once the patch goes in and NPCs can craft, this guy will be a monster, a zombie Breaking Bad supplying the whole team with drugs.

Nameless Soldier

My favourite character in the game, this companion is both a good tank and a useful damage dealer.

  • Skills: melee, survival.
  • Perks: Affix the bayonets, undying physiology, the one that increases his chance of going berserk.
  • Artifacts: you can give him the +1 melee artifact, Mwengi's heart that increases constitution, whatever else you like.

With the nameless soldier, treat him like a skirmisher. Send him alone against the enemy. He has the tankiness to survive and his damage output, especially when he goes berserk, gets insanely high. Just keep enemies between you and the rest of your team. Also, while he might fire a shot at one of your guys at the start of the round, his firearms skill is low so hopefully not a big deal.

Assorted Tips

Don't leave home without a lantern, kerosene, a shovel, or a crowbar. These are all useful items in the game and should be kept in your inventory.

Rations, laudunum shots, and camping supplies are all cheap and widely available. Don't be afraid to stock up on these. Keep your sanity high. Once it starts to fall below half, smoke up/drink up.

To use spells and items in battle, right click on the character. Spells have to be added to quickslots in the grimoire and items to quickslots in inventory.

Keep Eduardo hired, he is well worth the money and a very reliable tank/okay damage dealer. If his health is low you don't have to care, just dismiss him and rehire him at full HP.

When you come across the victim of the Arkham stabber, be sure to speak to the person standing next to the corpse and the 2 mafia guys that appear. In the hotel be sure to complete the dialogue with the weird old man when he appears. This will help you not sequence-break a key quest.

Turn vsync off and gfx settings on low / medium. I got far fewer crashes this way.

Written by Sisyphus.