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Tower of Iron Will: retsamerol's step-by-step guide to Psionic Combat with Qholillaroon

Introduction

Ulitharids are the nobility of Illithid society, possessing psionic abilities far surpassing their common mind flayer brethren. As such, knowledge and preparation is essential to surviving any engagement with an Ulitharid.

Illithids are are known to use Ego Whip and Mind Thrust frequently as their preferred mode of telepathic attack. Given the telepathic defence mode Mind Blank’s vulnerabilities to these attacks, Intellect Fortress and especially Tower of Iron Will defence modes are much more highly preferred:

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Repeated engagement with an Ulitharid called “Qholillaroon” in the Heartcoil Deeps has revealed a set attack pattern that may be of use against other Ulitharids if they are encountered. Below is a summary of my observations of this pattern.

Physical Acceleration, the Extra Action

Qholillaroon appears to be operating under the psionic “Physical Acceleration” ability (a psionic analog of “Haste”), and gains an extra action per round.

This extra action always occurs before his normal action for the round. The nature of this action and the target depends entirely on your party’s formation.


The Psychic Bomb is the most devastating and preferred attack of this Ulitharid for their extra action. This attack will target all characters within the same row within 15’ (Range 3) and inflict the “Injure” status on all characters hit by the blast:

Condition for attack: Quolillaroon will only engage in this attack mode if all characters are in the same row. (Either the back, middle or front row.)

Tactical considerations: To prevent the use of Psychic Bomb, simply move a character out of the row before Qholillaroon’s round. Alternatively, avoid moving a character into a row if it aligns all the characters before the ulitharid’s round.


The Mind Sword is the second choice of Quolillaroon for his extra action. The ulitharid will randomly target one of the characters who are within 5’ (Range 1), ignoring Taunt and Stealth conditions. Any character who is hit by Mind Sword will be Pushed back 5’ unless there is a character directly behind them.

Condition for attack: A character in Melee range (Range 1), and not all characters in the same row.

Tactical considerations: Quolillaroon’s attack can chosen by your party to be against a character who has high Hit Points or Defense, with Counter-Attack, if they are the only character in Melee range. For example, in the following formation, Quollillaroon will always use Mind Sword and it will always attack Tommus.


The Mind Whip is the last option for the Ulitharid’s extra action. This attack will randomly target the furthest character, ignoring Taunt and Stealth Conditions. Any character who is hit by Mind Whip will be Pulled forward 5’ unless there is a character directly ahead of them.

Condition for attack: No characters in Melee range and not all characters in the same row.

Tactical considerations: In general, it’s beneficial for a character to be pulled forward to enable more ability options. Conversely, moving a character ahead of another character potentially will prevent the character in the back row from being pulled forward, and may cause extra damage from the attempt to being moved to an occupied space. Therefore, for any movement actions from the back row to the middle, the character should step directly forward.

Normal Actions

Each turn, after the Extra Action has occurred, Qholillaroon will then perform the one of the following actions, if available, in the following three-step sequence for the duration of the fight.

Step 1:


Alter Senses is the ulitharid’s first regular action following his extra attack. He conjures up 3 false mirror images, which will dissipate when hit with an attack that does damage or inflict a status condition. The real Qholillaroon will randomly take the place of any remaining images (real or illusion) after an attack, or upon being hit*. Intriguingly these are active mirror images of Qhollilaroon, such that if there is an animation that will affect the actual ulitharid, it will also be visible on the mirror images:

Tactical Consideration: Area of Effect spells are the most efficient means to determine which images are illusions by instantly dispelling them. Attacks that attack multiple targets upon weapon proc (such as Wizard and Fighter’s legendary weapons, Barbarian’s Rare Hammer) also efficiently remove false images. *Note that currently, counter-attacks will always attack the real image, and the boss will not change locations upon being hit by a counter-attack, ensuring that the next attack will also target the real boss.

Step 2:


Alter Battlefield ability will randomly select one of the closest characters and one of the most distant characters, ignoring Taunt and Stealth conditions, and swap their placements, doing minor damage to both characters. If, however, all the characters are in the same row, no swap occurs.

Tactical Considerations: If there is a single character in the front row, and a single character in the back row, then it is guaranteed that those two characters will have their placements swapped. Because the attack also does damage, it will trigger a counter-attack if the characters who are damaged are within their basic attack range.

Step 3:


The most feared ability of Qholillaroon is his ability to dominate heroes for 2 turns. The ulitharid will use this ability on one of the most distant characters, randomly without regards to Taunt or Stealth conditions. The dominated character will perform a basic attack against their own allies, with a chance for their basic attack abilities to trigger at the normal rate.

Note that the domination attack does in fact miss, and I estimate that it happens around 5% of the time.

Tactical Considerations: Given that the Alter Loyalty ability targets the character furthest away from Qholillaroon, the party can designate which character will be affected by keeping them as the only character in the back row. Characters with self-restore abilities like the Fighter and the Paladin make ideal candidates to be targeted for domination.

Summary

Combining the above information, Qholillaroon will have the following repeating action pattern:

Round 1:
Extra Action: Psychic Bomb if characters in row, else Psychic Sword if character in front row, else Psychic Whip on most distant character.
Normal Action: Alter Senses to create mirror images.

Round 2:
Extra Action: Psychic Bomb if characters in row, else Psychic Sword if character in front row, else Psychic Whip on most distant character.
Normal Action: Alter Battlefield to swap closest and most distant characters.

Round 3:
Extra Action: Psychic Bomb if characters in row, else Psychic Sword if character in front row, else Psychic Whip on most distant character.
Normal Action: Alter Loyalty to dominate most distant character.

Round 4 cycles back to Round 1 actions.

General Strategic Advice: Equip Tommus the Fighter with Extra Action granting footwear (Epic or Legendary), Counter-attack granting headgear (Epic) and self Restore granting wondrous item (Common). Use Counter-attack in the fight preceding the encounter with Qholillaroon so it remains active.

Review initiative order and move Tommus immediately forward and then in front of where another character has already moved or will be moving. Leave Tommus as the only character in the front row. This will ensure that Mind Sword will hit Tommus, providing you a counter-attack to identify the real Qholillaroon. This will also set up Tommus to be the target to be swapped with a more distant character.

In the round preceding the Alter Loyalty attack, position the characters such that Tommus is the only character in the back row. Once Tommus is dominated, his Wondrous Item ability will clear it (up to 100% success at higher levels) at the beginning of his next turn, resulting in friendly fire.

The other characters just depends on personal preference. I like Mage, Bard and Cleric, but I’ve also had some success with Warlock instead of Bard.

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Nice guide! I’d like to add: if you only have one character left, he’ll use his push/pull attacks (depending on where the character is) rather than the psychic bomb. The point may be moot since I’ve never won a one-on-one battle with him, but I felt it could help

I did the other night, but it took about about 20 minutes.

My cleric has regen as well as some item that does a lot of healing some of the times when he moves. I got down to facing four Qholillaroons with the cleric. Dominated, walk into a melee attack twice, free move, and repeat. Twice I even took two attacks without doing regen when I should have and survived. After about five second attack misses on Qholillaroon’s part, I finally attacked the real one and won.

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That’s awesome, thanks for that Rets :slight_smile:

The use of counter-attack on dwarf to identify really jellypus is awesome, never tried counter attack

This also works with the ranger. So if you activate it first round or before entering the room it can be running from the get go.

Very detailed, retsamerol. :slight_smile:

Excellent review @retsamerol. The only item I would offer for consideration is the AC debuff from the warlock’s common headpiece. It targets all enemies in range, always hits, it removes the squid mirror images and drops the bosses AC, setting up perfectly a devastating nova round or two. At level 13, it can even be used from the back row, allowing the tommus switch/dominate/restore trick, if needed.

Excellent guide again, ever since I finished HCD and got this as my free challenege I’ve been struggling greatly, but strangely enough, the boss was never the problematic part.
I do it with a team of Bard, Cleric, Mage, Barbarian and all I need is a tad bit of luck to get the injure on the Bard’s legendary weapon and the 1st iteration never gets to the turn you can expect dominate.

My main problem is my Tommus Isn’t high level enough to survive rooms 4&5 (7&8 are moot since all my characters get 1-shot there and I never got past it), I rely greatly on Raika’s disarm ability to push through those rooms. So Raika can’t get close fast enough, and then the 2nd iteration that takes a while to kill dominates the farthest character. Unless it’s Raika that’s attacked (and sometime despite it being Raika) I get to the next room with 1-2 less characters.

I seemed to miss the part about it being very easy to spot the real refelection by holding and checking the HP after you hit once (all the reflections always have full HP). I actually got that from you, and it helped me immensely, maybe you actually wrote that and I missed it somehow?

I didn’t include this tidbit in the main guide because I think it may be considered an exploit. Given how mirror images are intended to work, I suspect it will be patched out eventually.

I was actually wondering whether I should include the counter attack tip, but I personally think it has a bit more in game rationale and it rewards the attentive.

Yeah I let support know about the HP trick too but didn’t post it since it does feel like cheating. I usually go into that room with a few options to dispel the illusions anyway so it isn’t a game breaking exploit for the most part anyway.

I think it will be patched up only if Argathakul’s pattern will change to random, frankly. You need to actively work to make a boss have a pattern, and it’s just as easy of no easier to make mirror images have the exact HP as the real boss. I believe it’s intentional.

If you follow the guide it’s impossible to die against the boss anyways as he does so little damage hence I’m happy to use the exploit to speed things up a bit

Just another thing I discovered with this boss. If you use nayeli with her item that if she is hit the ennemy get an extra 50% critical failure. It also make the boss miss 50% of the mind control attack.

Knowing this I use nayeli rush front row and use the dispell If it still hit.mond control on someone else

I stand corrected, the exploit has been patched over. I just recently got Tommus to be able to withstand anything other than 2 or more Cloakers in the 7th or 8th room, so placing him at the back row whenevr dominate is cast does wonders to my clear rate.
Still feel like rooms 4-5 and 7-8 are far harder that the 2nd or 3rd iteration, comapratively, but having Tommus’s flask at a high level really helps.

I have tipommus flask maxed but don’t bother with it anymore just let Tommus get a max of 1 hit on my team and clear it with cleric

1 hit from Tommus is already really bad if it Procs the fire 3 hits, 2 are enough to prevent me from clearing (though, again, it won’t be the boss to kill me). I don’t have it maxed, but 75% is still pretty good (in PvP as well, obviously)

Yes checked mine isn’t maxed either - level 11.

Just put another weapon on Tommus