This is a guide to completing the first chapter of the game in less than thirty days, which awards the Lord Protector dueling sword.
How to Complete Chapter 1 in Less Than 30 Days
Introduction and Notes
This guide will outline how to complete the first chapter of the game in less than 30 days. All of the areas it is possible to explore in the first chapter should be covered. While there is no apparent penalty for not exploring all the side areas available, or coming back to them at a later chapter, it seems preferable to have as much as possible neatly wrapped up and completed before moving on to chapter 2.
There are quicker more efficient (and perhaps outright better paths) than what is presented, but this one works well with regards to measured increases in difficulty, and it's efficient enough to give you three to five extra days for padding. It also allows you to pick up Harrim or Jaethal, Tristian, Octavia, and Regongar as immediately active party members.
All of the screen shots were taken at Oleg's, at the end of each leg, so you can see where I was at date wise, and have some idea if you are on schedule or not.
Why complete the first chapter of the game in less than 30 days?
So you can be awarded the magical dueling sword "Lord Protector". It's a must have for my sword defender mercenary which I probably won't ever actually use in my party. I gotta have it anyway.
A Note on New Players
This guide is not geared towards players that are new to the game. You are probably going to need some refined strategies, a good amount of luck, and a dash of save scumming to finish in less than 30 days, especially at higher difficulties. The reward is not that great, and only really useful for one single prestige class. I fully recommend that new players take their time on their first play through, and only be concerned with the 90 days which you have before game over.
The guide assumes you are already familiar with chapter 1, and generally does not provide any details other than suggested routes, along with some helpful reminders and tips.
A Note on Difficulty
I normally play, and completed this guide, at the 'hard' difficulty, and generally don't min/max character builds. It makes for a good challenge, but it's not tough as nails beat your head in difficult. If you play on easier/harder difficulties and do min/max then what I find to be a tough challenge might be extremely difficult/easy. Basically, your mileage may vary.
A Note on Loot
This guide does not maximize loot, but it should allow for you to collect most things of value. Prioritize loot that has a high value to weight ratio. Unless your party is exceptionally low on strength you should be able to grab nearly everything that is worth more than 1 gold per pound, and some that is less, but most of those leather suits that weigh 10 pounds and sell for 2 gold are going to get left on the side of the road.
It would be much more profitable to take your time and haul in everything that's not nailed down VS selling the sword you'll be rewarded with, in case that is a consideration for anyone. The money you don't earn on a tight and light plan (a few thousand gold at best) won't make or break your game. It's all extremely small peanuts compared to what you'll earn in the next chapter, and beyond.
A Note on Character Builds & Party Composition
It's going to be almost essential to have a character with a high perception skill in order to spot the hidden locations. You might get unlucky and miss some anyway. High perception is also valuable for detecting secret treasure, and saves you from having to revisit areas to pick up things you missed the first time. All my characters have their perception maxed out, regardless if it is a class skill or not. Normally one of them is also taking feats, plural, to make their perception sky high.
Extra healing is going to be very helpful in completing the first chapter quickly. You'll likely be consuming more potions of healing than you hoard away. Having extra healers in the party helps a lot. Running out of healing magic means resting more frequently, so doubling up on clerics can really help extend your on the clock adventuring hours. I got by fine with a single cleric, a bard, and a paladin, although I only had 3 cure light and 3 cure moderate healing potions left by the end of the chapter (all found loot, none purchased).
A note on Encumbrance
Pay careful attention to your encumbrance. The guide will let you know if you should be running light or moderate. It's easy to clear a few locations, and not notice that your light encumbrance has shifted to medium. This might cause you to require more rest than anticipated on the guide routes. Always check your carry weight before you exit an area.
First Leg - East Thorn River Loop
Complete the introduction / tutorial stage. Don't worry about grabbing everything. It's a long journey from Restov to Oleg's place, and you want to be traveling light to get there before you need to rest.
Again, before you take a single step on the road, make sure your weight encumbrance is light. This is going to mean abandoning a ton of low value loot from the mansion. It might mean temporarily having Amiri and Linzi traveling with no armor at all. You can kill some bandits and take theirs soon enough, but you want to get to Oleg's as fast as possible. You'll be forced to rest twice once you get there, so don't waste more time camping on the open road.
Remember, time is far more valuable than basic weapons and armor at this point in the game.
Once you get to Oleg's take care of the bandits. Don't forget to adjust spells before you rest. There's no time for such oversite under this time frame. After resting sell loot and hire mercenaries. If you can get through the bandits without leveling up, you'll save a fortune on the hirelings. You'll at least want a couple to fill out your party until you find more npcs. Recommend mercenaries include a cleric for extra healing, and another with high strength to help carry more loot. It is also helpful to purchase a bag of holding early.
Before departing get the side quests. Don't bother with camping supplies just yet. You'll be tucked into Oleg's warm cozy bed before you need to rest again.
Head south twice, and you should encounter a junked out addict prophet kind of guy who provides you with the location of the ancient tomb. Head there and take care of business. I usually have my mercenary cleric buff out the party before the big fight, and then exchange them for Harrim when it's over. Either way, you need to succeed in a series of skill checks at the exit of the tomb. This will jump you down to Pine Patch. From there you are going to Thorn Ford, and knock off the Boggard Hunting Grounds, before returning to Oleg's for rest. Keep your encumbrance light the entire loop. Leave that heavy, low value loot to the scavengers.
If your party members start to get tired towards the end of the loop just keeping pressing for Oleg's. They'll make it and a brief slow down on the trail is better than unnecessary rest.
Second Leg - West Skunk River Loop
Another day trip; you can once again leave the camping gear in your stash at Oleg's. A good time to grab the bag of holding if you didn't get it on day 1. Make sure you pack torches, alchemist fire, and acid flasks. You'll probably want to purchase additional. A total of 18 alchemist fire/acid flasks usually gets me through the spider swarms you'll be encountering.
Head further south to begin. The berries you'll be picking spoil, so you want to grab them near the end of the loop. Visit the Waterlogged Lowland, and Nettle's Crossing. If you don't spot and unlock both the secret treasure spots in the burnt out house, remember to grab them at the very end of the chapter.
Clear Two-Rivers Field before proceeding to the Fang Berry cave. It would probably be prudent to use the bulk of your buffs/spells in the spider cave. Knock out the Endless Plains before heading back to Oleg's. Keep your encumbrance light this entire loop. Again party members may start getting tired, but you should be close enough to push through to your base of operations..
Don't forget to turn in the berries. They will spoil. Rest up. The next loop will be the first to include outdoor adventure camping.
Third Leg - North Narlmarches Loop
This leg is comparatively lengthy. Don't forget to talk to Jhod about the temple if you have not done so already. I would suggest taking along enough camp supplies for five or six rests. This is probably more than you need but you don't want to run out and have to waste time hunting for food. If you are getting near the end of the loop, go ahead and ditch your excess camp supplies for higher value loot. Just make sure you'll get home before exhaustion sets in. The guide assumes you'll maintain moderate encumbrance this entire loop. You'll probably be able to grab some of the lower value stuff you've been leaving behind to this point, especially as used camp supplies open up pack weight.
If you follow my route exactly, it won't be the most efficient path possible, but it should work fine in the long run.
Head west and complete Oak That Strayed before visiting the Abandoned Hut area. From there you're going to go all the way around to the Temple of the Elk. Don't rest until your whole party is tired. You need to cover as much trail as possible in between sleeps. I don't recommend taking on Tranquil River Bend at this time, unless you are a masochist or you've really got a power build going on. You can slay Tuskgutter, raid the Technic League Encampment, and with the levels and gear you have acquired complete Old Oak before doubling back for Oleg's.
After resting at Oleg's your should be around the temporal halfway point, 15 days used up and 15 days to go, give or take a few days.
Fourth Leg - Old Sycamore There and Back
Tackle Riverine Rise before heading to the Old Sycamore. If you are confident in your combat strategy, bring only 12 camp supplies so you can travel there quickly under a light load. There's a ton to loot there so it is assumed you will be traveling back with a medium load.
Old Sycamore can be difficult with the limited camp supplies. Picking a side may save time, or make the area easier, but destroying both the kobolds and the mites is a viable course of action.
Buff for the wolf boss battle, and hurry to deal with the shambling mound before the spells wear off. Clear out the entire surface area except for the abandoned camp site & the moon radishes. Everything else up top should be gravy. Once the entire surface area is clear, prepare your spell books for the wisp encounter, and sleep at the murder scene for free camp supplies. With the right spells the guardian is a pushover.
Next clear the first underground level and rest right before the first big boss battle. You should have enough supplies for one more rest while clearing the second underground level. Finally return to the surface with all the loot you can carry (without being heavily encumbered), and lastly secure the moon radishes. Rush them back to Oleg's before they spoil.
Adjust your spells for the upcoming wererat encounter before resting. That one can bee a doozy if you are not prepared.
Fifth Leg - Mop Up Loop
Pack enough supplies for six or seven rests. It's probably way more than you will need, but again better safe than sorry, and camp supplies are cheap. You are going to want to take care of all the areas that are left, except the Stag Lord Fort on this run.
Head back towards the Old Sycamore, but keep going to compete the challenging yet doable encounter at Ratnook Hill. From there hit up Trail in the Hills, before tracking across the Thorn River where Old Mesa, Glade In The Wilderness, and Three-Pine Islet line up. Finally head back to Tranquil River Bend. It should be a lot easier than the first time you were nearby.
Take a long hike back to Oleg's and prepare for the final encounter of the chapter. If you are really behind on time, you could proceed directly to the Stag Lord Fort without the trip to Oleg's, but there is a lot of good loot there, and it's better to go unload first if possible.
Sixth Leg - The Stag Lord Fort
It's a good time to grab some of the potions, scrolls, and wands you've been hoarding. It's probably a good idea to bring at least 18 camp supplies to the fort. It's fine to travel with a medium load if you think you'll need more to survive the combats, but one for the way down, one before the big fight, and one for the way back should be fine.
Proceed to the Stag Lord Fort. You should have cleared everything possible in chapter 1 up to this point. When you are done, don't forget to revisit Nettle's Crossing, before heading back to Oleg's one last time. You probably even have time to visit a missed area, if you were efficient with your camping.
Talk to Oleg and lower the curtain on chapter 1. If you did ok you should be under the 30 day mark with time to spare . Hope all the hard work was worth it. Enjoy your new magical dueling sword.
After all is said an done, I could have rested a few more times and saved myself dozens of healing potions. I guess I would rather play it safe rather than invest the time and effort only to slightly miss the 30 day deadline.