Welcome back again to another trip through Octopath Traveler with a solo character. This time I'll be using Therion, this game's version of the Thief class. This is a character archetype present in many other traditional RPGs, typically a speedy support class that can either steal items or provide other secondary functions without having much in the way of direct offense. Therion does indeed get several extremely useful support abilities, with the expected option to steal from opponents along with a pair of powerful debuffs. However, Therion also gets to play around with a group of skills that dish out heavy damage comparable to the best stuff available for other classes, putting the Thief on the short list of the best jobs in the game. As we'll explore over the course of this report, Therion kind of turns into a blood-sucking vampire that sustains himself by draining his victims along the way. Not exactly what you were probably expecting from this class!
As a quick refresher for our rules in an Octopath Traveler solo game, the seven other characters will all be recuited (to allow playing through their respective storylines) but won't take any part in combat. The lesson that I learned from my initial Tressa solo game is that the Path Actions of the other characters also need to be included or else it locks out too much of the gameplay. So that's the rule for this game: Therion can use the other characters to Scrutinize/Inquire for information, Challenge/Provoke NPCs in town, and Allure/Guide random townspeople around for quests, but none of those other skills can be used for combat purposes.
Therion doesn't just have the job function of being a thief, he is a literal thief in terms of his in-game occupation. Octopath Traveler has a romanticized version of Therion's thievery whereby he occupies the classic trope of being the scoundrel with a secret heart of gold. At the start of the game, Therion has wandered into the town of Bolderfall to investigate a supposedly great treasure being held behind the gates of Ravus Manor. Therion doesn't seem to be particularly interested in wealth (an odd characteristic for a thief) and instead wants to steal this treasure largely because it's a challenge that's attracted his interest. Therion's personality is aloof and disinterested in general, giving off an "I'm too cool to waste my time on this" vibe. The English voice actor (Chris Niosi) does a great job of delivering Therion's lines with a sarcastic, bored tone of voice during his cutscenes. Over the course of the game, we learn that Therion was betrayed by his former partner and that this is why he's cut off all contact with everyone else out of fear of being betrayed again. If you can't guess that Therion's story is going to be about learning to open up and trust other people again, well, you haven't played very many Japanese RPGs.
Therion's Path Action is "Steal", which provides a chance to pilfer items away from NPCs in towns. It's a slightly different form of Tressa's "Purchase", but instead of simply paying money for the items that these random folks are holding, Therion has a percentage-based chance to take the item without spending any money at all. You might think that Steal is inherently better than Purchase, especially since it's possible to save-scum successful steals by repeating them often enough. However, I've found that this isn't really the case and that Purchase is still highly useful when playing through the game. It's just not worth going through 50 steal attempts every time that the player wants to pick up something that has 3% success odds. Better to pay the money and move on in most cases. Now with that said, Therion will actually be gaining levels on this playthrough instead of being stuck permanently at Level 1, and that will allow me to do more stealing than normal. It will also make Therion's forced stealing sequences in his various chapters a lot less of a pain to go through.
Therion's Talent is "Pick Lock": he's the only character that can open the purple treasure chests scattered throughout the game. This normally means that I'm forced to drag Therion's corpse around at all times and revive him to open up those chests, then immediately kill him off again afterwards. Fortunately that won't be needed here. I'm honestly OK with this Talent not having any use in combat simply to avoid that annoyance for one playthrough.
Therion benefits from above-average base stats. His health is right in the middle and that's enough to put him well above the game's spellcasters, good enough for our purposes here. Physical attack is slightly above average, useful for a physical-based class, and the real strength of the character manifests in the speed and evade stats. Therion is the second-fastest character in the game behind Primrose and the absolute best when it comes to evasion. That's a big deal since I've discovered over the course of these solo runs that stacking evade works very well against physical-based opponents. Therion has below average physical and elemental defense as a form of counter balancing, and he's tied with Olberic and H'aanit for the worst spirit point (SP) growth in the game. Fortunately this doesn't end up mattering due to one of his unique Thief skills that allows Therion to operate with essentially infinite casting power. Overall, this is a pretty good setup for a character that lacks any crippling weaknesses.
Therion's damage types are swords, daggers, and (technically) fire. Therion only has one skill that deals fire damage and I almost never used it because he's otherwise an entirely physical-based class. Between the two physical weapons, Therion tilts heavily towards daggers because all of his skills make use of that weapon type. Thus it's far more important to focus on getting strong daggers for Therion than upgrading whatever happens to be in his swords slot. There's little reason to use swords with Therion unless the player needs to target a specific monster weakness. The good news here is that daggers are the most important physical damage type in the game. This is basically a coincidence but two of the Chapter 4 bosses (Darius and Simeon) are only vulnerable to daggers and nothing else in terms of weaknesses, or at least not consistently weak against anything else in Darius' case. Therion and Primrose kind of luck their way into having the best damage type for these opponents.
Therion begins his story by sneaking into Ravus Manor after stealing a letter of introduction from an unsuspecting merchant in town. This is the first time that the player sees the "mansion" tileset in Octopath Traveler, something that the designers liked so much that they used it four or five additional times over the course of the game. Therion starts out the game with two innate Thief skills: Steal and Wildfire. Steal costs 2 SP and has a percentage chance to steal an item from an enemy. The formula itself is somewhat complex but boils down to the steal chance being higher when the target is closer to zero HP and also increases as more boost points are spent on the skill. Unfortunately Steal as a skill doesn't tend to be that useful in Octopath Traveler because there isn't very much of use that can be pilfered. There's no separate item list for steals as opposed to random drops after the battle; whatever Therion steals also has a chance to drop for free afterwards. There are no secret hidden items of power as in many other games. Outside of a few specific cases that I'll highlight later on, I generally didn't get too much use out of the Steal command in this game.
Wildfire as a skill was even less useful. It hits a single target for fire element damage at the same strength as Ophilia's Holy Light (light), Tressa's Tradewinds (wind), Primrose's Moonlight Waltz (dark), Alfyn's Icicle (ice), and H'aanit's Thunderbird (lightning). Just as the physical-based Alfyn had no real need for Icicle, Therion couldn't find much use for Wildfire. However, it didn't take very long for Therion to accumulate 30 job points (JP) and choose a third skill, one which would be enormously helpful over the course of his journey. Here's the full list of Thief skills from the mechanics guide for reference:
For a longer explanation of what all these numbers mean, I'll direct readers to this page in the solo Tressa game. The full Steal formula is also provided above for the curious, although again it largely boils down to "steal chance goes up with more boost points and more damage dealt". The skill that I was most interested in taking was the third option on the list: HP Thief. This magnificent skill costs 6 SP and attacks twice with Therion's dagger, stealing health away in the process equal to half of the damage dealt. This is an incredibly useful skill since it allows a solo character to do two things simultaneously: deal damage while also healing. That's one of the fundamental hurdles for solo characters to overcome, the fact that they can only input one action per round. Normally you can heal, or you can deal damage, but not both at once. HP Thief gets around that restriction and that immediately makes it an immensely powerful tool for a solo character.
But it's not as though HP Thief is a weak skill when it comes to damage either. It's actually quite strong for a non-Divine skill! The attack modifier looks relatively low at only 1.40 and the target's defense doesn't get reduced by very much (only about 8%), and finally there is a slight penalty for boosting such that the Thief only gets 80% of the benefit from investing extra boost points. So why is this so good again? It's simple: HP Thief hits the target *TWICE* on each use. This is a huge boost to damage and I'm not sure that the designers themselves understood how strong it made the skill. Let's do a quick numbers commparison here with the same stats I've used before assuming 50 physical attack and 30 physical defense. I did a whole game with Alfyn using Amputation as his main damage skill, which at max boost would deal (50 - (30 * 0.67)) * 1.90 * 4 = 30 * 1.90 * 4 = 228 damage. By way of comparison, HP Thief would deal (50 - (30 * 0.925)) * 1.40 * (1 + (3 * 0.80)) * 2 = 22.25 * 1.40 * 3.40 * 2 = 212 damage. In other words, HP Thief would deal almost as much damage but without the obnoxious chance to miss the target, and while healing Therion for half the damage dealt in the process! Yeah, I think I could work with that.
Here's a picture of Therion using HP Thief against the boss of his Chapter 1 story, Heathcote. The attack hit twice for 340 + 329 damage and then healed Therion for the average of the two hits (334 HP). Since Therion only had a maximum of 341 health this early in the game, it nearly refilled him back up to full. This screenshot was an example of a max boosted attack against a broken target, but one of the awesome things about HP Thief is that it can be used to good effect without any boost points invested at all. Just keep using it every round as the boost meter fills up, leeching health to keep your character topped off in a safe place while still dealing damage at the same time. HP Thief will keep scaling up as the game goes along, dealing more damage and also restoring more health at the same time - it's utterly fantastic. There is one limitation here to keep in mind: Therion can only heal up to half of the target's current HP. He's literally "stealing" the health and he can't suck that life out of a near-dead object. (Starting to see why I made the comparison to Therion the vampire above?) While fighting random battles afterwards, I found that Therion could easily hit for much more damage than the monsters had life remaining, such as hitting for 1000 damage and then only stealing back 150 HP. This is an important limitation to keep in mind when using this skill.
Anyway, Therion easily managed to defeat this initial boss only to be defeated by the infamous powers of the cut scene: he discovers that Heathcote slipped a criminal's band onto his wrist during the course of the combat. This sets up the plot for the rest of Therion's story, as Heathcote and the lady of the manor house, Cordelia Ravus, give Therion the task of finding three additional
dragonballs dragon stones scattered around the rest of the world. In exchange for finding these plot contrivances, Therion will get his freedom back. Therion almost seems impressed at the way that he's been outsmarted and reluctantly agrees to undertake this mission. Will he re-learn the power of love and friendship along the way? I have an old Magic 8-Ball that's saying all signs point to yes.
As far as gameplay was concerned, I amused myself by stealing the townspeople of Bolderfall blind before setting out. Since this is Therion's starting town, he has unusually high odds to steal everything from the poor clueless NPCs walking around. The big prize was this Stimulating Necklace with +80 to maximum SP, an accessory that almost tripled Therion's available spirit points. That was much better than getting +10 to speed or some other garbage from the normal early game accessories. I had a choice of where to travel with Therion and opted to head counterclockwise around the inner ring of towns. The opposite direction would take me to H'aanit and then Ophilia, two characters with some of the least valuable Path Actions from a solo character standpoint. While Alfyn wouldn't be terribly useful either, I would be able to make good use of the skills from Primrose, Olberic, Tressa, and eventually Cyrus.
Therion quickly hit 100 job points and unlocked a fourth skill in the Thief class. I chose to take Shackle Foe, a skill that debuffed the target's physical attack damage for the next few turns. Since this was the fourth skill in the class, it also unlocked the first support skill for Therion. Here's the full list from the mechanics guide:
None of the support skills for the Thief class are particularly notable. Therion had just picked up the first option on the list, Incidental Attack, which granted 50% odds to make a standard attack any time that he used a non-damaging skill. This is probably more useful for a non-solo character who would be operating in more of a support role. It would kick in some minor damage in boss encounters when Therion was doing a lot of debuffing without being anything too significant. (Make sure to check whether Therion has a sword or dagger currently selected ahead of time since he'll use whichever was the last weapon type selected if an Incidental Attack is made.) Fleetfoot had a modest boost to one of the game's least-important stats, pretty useless. Snatch was a bit better on those rare occasions where Therion was making use of Steal, taking two items at a time instead of one. I can't say that it was too helpful in overcoming the game's more difficult opponents though. Finally, Insult to Injury was actually pretty solid and I'll discuss it in more detail later on when it unlocked on this playthrough. It's safe to say that the strength of the Thief class is located mostly in the active skills, as the passive support skills are a rather sorry group.
I was able to make use of Shackle Foe for the first time against the Blotted Viper boss at the end of Alfyn's Chapter 1 story. This debuff reduces the physical attack of the target by 33%, the exact opposite of the physical attack up buff that increases strength by 50%. For a boss fight like this one, it was highly useful to reduce the incoming damage that Therion would be taking. The biggest problem was the fact that a default application of Shackle Foe only lasted for two turns. (The duration can be increased with more boost points and you essentially get two turns for each boost point spent, up to eight turns of physical attack down by investing the maximum three boost points.) Therion found himself needing to stack up the debuff by using it repeatedly or else he would only get one additional turn of the benefit. This is where having that final support skill would come in handy, increasing the base duration from two turns up to three turns.
Anyway, Therion was still able to cut down on the damage that he was taking through repeated uses of Shackle Foe. I made sure to have his dagger equipped so that he would get a free shield break whenever Incidental Attack kicked in during these debuffing turns. HP Thief was hitting for about 1000 damage in total when the Blotted Viper was broken and restoring back a full lifebar of 500 HP in the process. One good hit with HP Thief took out a snake minion and then I kept the other one alive to stop the main boss from using its stunning attack. Therion kept stealing back health from his foes and when combined together with his massive 131 SP total at this early stage of the game, it was enough to make it through this battle without any serious issues.
Next it was on to the deserts of Sunshade to recruit Primrose. Helgenish proved to be a bit more difficult than the first two bosses, likely because the monster stats were scaling up with each additional party member added and I hadn't been able to increase Therion's gear to match. By debuffing his physical attack I could cut the damage down to double digits, however the triple blows from Helgenish and his two minions were enough to outpace Therion's healing from HP Thief. I was forced to use a couple of Healing Grapes for Therion during this battle at times when he didn't have enough boost points to get off a powerful version of HP Thief. The logical tactic would seem to be defeating the two minions so as to face Helgenish alone; unfortunately that doesn't work because he'll just resummon them back again at half health. If there was one weakness for Therion at the moment, it was the fact that his damage was entirely single-target in nature. He got the job down in a bit of an inelegant slugfest.
Afterwards, I was able to Steal an improved weapon in the form of the Falcon Dagger from some random person in town. This weapon was nice because it had additional evade on it, a property that many of the other daggers in this game also share. (They tend to have either bonus speed or bonus evade, with the latter being much better to have. Speed isn't very useful in Octopath Traveler because everyone gets one action per round regardless of how much speed they might have.) While Therion was in the middle of making his way through Olberic's Chapter 1 story, he reached 500 job points and unlocked his next active skill:
Armor Corrosive was a paired match with the aforementioned Shackle Foe. Just as Shackle Foe debuffs the target's physical attack for two turns, Armor Corrosive debuffs the target's physical defense for the same length of time. Both of them are wonderfully useful for cutting enemy offensive and defensive capabilities respectively, and unlocking this skill allowed Therion to debuff boss defenses right before hitting with a boosted HP Thief. More damage inflicted and more health restored in the process, a true win-win! I found that Therion was able to one-shot the bandit minions of Gaston once he had Armor Corrosive in place, although of course I kept one of the two minions alive to stop Gaston from breaking out his stunning attack. This was not an easy battle because Gaston's "Mighty Attack" move could hit for as much as 550 damage and that was close to Therion's maximum HP total. Shackle Foe would reduce that down to a much more survivable 350 damage, or alternately Therion would sometimes get lucky and dodge the attack entirely. He was avoiding about a third of incoming attacks at this point although that kind of randomness couldn't be counted on. I was wiped out once when Therion was hit for a big Mighty Attack that I hadn't prepared for ahead of time, and this was another battle where Therion needed to consume a bunch of Healing Grapes for safety.
When it all came together though, the results were pretty impressive:
That was the double hit from HP Thief landing with Gaston broken and with Armor Corrosive in effect. I think that this was the first time that Therion healed back more health than his maximum HP total, which might have been needless overkill but was still pretty fun to see. Two of these big damaging HP Thiefs were enough to do away with Gaston and then the remaining minion was easily dispatched afterwards.
I continued the circuit of the starting towns by venturing to Rippletide next and breezing through Tressa's Chapter 1 story. There wasn't too much of interest to note here as the monsters in the Cave of Maia were no match for Therion. He was attacking with dagger or sword as appropriate for each enemy and then using HP Thief to recover health whenever it dropped down to about half. It wasn't the fastest rate of dropping enemies but it was one of the safest I can recall. For the Mikk and Makk bosses at the end, I had Therion alternate hitting the two pirates with the Shackle Foe + Armor Corrosive debuff pair while lifestealing away with HP Thief. Neither of the two was weak to swords or daggers and it didn't matter one bit. They were significantly weaker than Gaston and couldn't ever make it through the constant regeneration provided by HP Thief. Pretty easy stuff.
From Rippletide, I had Therion continue northwards into the Flatlands region of the map. I made sure to stop in Atlasdam to pick up the fast travel option to the city, then immediately headed further north towards Noblecourt. I was confident that Therion was strong enough to make his way up there and I was correct. He faced one random battle en route to the town in the outer ring and won it without any serious trouble by spamming HP Thief repeatedly. It's hard for even the overleveled monsters to make much progress when your character is healing for huge amounts of health every round. Noblecourt opened up the floodgates on a series of equipment upgrades, starting with the easily-swiped Oasis Hat and then continuing with the Imperial Vest that Therion actually grabbed on his second attempt at 3% odds. These items combined to increase Therion's physical and elemental defense by about 150 points in each category, ending up with well over 300 points in both stats. In a way that was somewhat of a mistake on my part, as Therion now had gear that significantly outperformed the remaining enemies in the first ring. He would get attacked and take no damage from every non-boss opponent in the Chapter 1 stories. Still, what was the alternative - deliberately not use the best equipment on hand? This was already a solo character single class challenge so I didn't feel too bad.
There were still a few more Chapter 1 stories to complete and I wanted to wrap things up in Atlasdam by doing Cyrus' story segment next. The most noteworthy milestone in this dungeon came when Therion topped 1000 job points and was able to pick up his sixth Thief skill. This time I selected the last remaining useful skill on the list in Steal SP. This ability is highly similar to HP Thief and in fact uses exactly the same damage formula, hitting twice with a dagger under the mechanics listed earlier on this page. The difference is that it steals SP instead of stealing HP, converting 5% of the damage into spirit points in the process. What the game text doesn't mention is that the SP recovery is also capped and can't restore more than 5% of the target's current health. In other words, Steal SP is exactly the same as HP Thief in this regard as well, and near-dead targets won't restore much in the way of SP just as nearly-dead targets don't provide much health recovery. Both skills even share the same cost of 6 SP, making them two sides of the same coin.
I hadn't thought too much about Steal SP as a skill before starting this playthrough with Therion. For some reason I had only focused on the SP recovery aspect and not on the damage that it inflicted. But since the damage was exactly equal between HP Thief and Steal SP, I quickly discovered that Therion could use either of these skills and get great results from both. The SP cost for both skills was tiny and Therion could easily siphon away far more spirit points than he would ever need to keep casting the two skills indefinitely. Indeed, with damage and monster health increasing over the course of the game, it would only become easier to steal more and more SP as time went on. The pictured Russell boss was completely irrelevant, casting his Wildfire spell for all of 4 damage as Therion was stealing away hundreds of HP and dozens of SP at a time. This was almost getting to be too easy and we had only just started with this character!
Oh, and if you thought things were already starting to snowball out of hand, hold on, because it was about to get much worse. I used the Scrutinze Path Action on Cyrus to unlock additional weapons for sale in Noblecourt, then spent 40,000 money on purchasing the Assassin's Dagger. This weapon had an enormous increase of 150 points in physical attack along with a boost of almost 100 more points of evasion. This was a much, much better weapon than the designers intended anyone to be using while working their way through the Chapter 1 stories. When combined together with Therion's sturdy armor and high amount of evade, plus his infinite HP and SP vampirism, he became an unstoppable wrecking ball smashing through the remaining portions of the early game. Take a look at this:
This was Therion using Steal SP against monsters in a random battle outside Flamesgrace. He was dealing about 700 total damage while using an unboosted Steal SP against an unbroken target who didn't have a weakness to daggers as a damage type. It was still more than enough damage to land the one-shot kill. In fact, since the healing from HP Thief is capped at half of the target's current health, and similarly the SP restoration from Steal SP is capped at 5% of the target's current health, I could work backwards and figure out the health from these monsters as they died in one blow. 25 * 20 = 500 indicates that this poor ice lizard had about 500 HP before being ruthlessly stabbed to death. And oh yeah, since Steal SP was theiving away far more than its 6 SP cost, Therion could use one of these skills on every single turn of the game without ever running out of casting power. Why ever bother doing a normal attack with his dagger when he could deal far more damage and restore HP/SP with one of these skills? The whole thing felt crazily broken - I genuinely don't think the designers realized how powerful they made these Thief abilities.
As you might expect, the Guardian of the First Flame stood absolutely no chance at all against Therion's growing power. I debuffed its physical defenses with Armor Corrosive and then set up for a max boosted use of Steal SP when the creature's shields were down. Therion didn't even have to use HP Thief because he was already at full health. Well, that attack hit for 2800 * 2 = 5600 damage and the boss keeled over instantly afterwards without bothering to summon its Dark Wisp minions. Uh, OK, thought that would have been at least a wee bit more difficult. The Ghisarma met a similar fate to close out the Chapter 1 stories:
It looks like one of the two Steal SP dagger strikes went critical and the other one didn't (crits deal 30% additional damage in Octopath Traveler). And I guess Therion will take the 323 SP restored in the process, why not. I had unequipped the Stimulating Necklace with +80 to maximum SP since Therion no longer needed to worry about spirit point consumption, trading it out for a generic +500 HP instead. I was a bit shocked at how much damage Therion was doing with these attacks, but it was a testament both to the power of the skills themselves and especially when combined together with the Armor Corrosive debuff. Therion was hitting about as hard as any other non-Runelord character that I could remember while also having incredible healing powers thanks to his blood-sucking powers. It felt a little bit like Therion was stalking the land devouring everything in sight to fuel his own warped abilities. I mean, what else was I supposed to think about a character who was literally stealing the life out of his opponents?
The Chapter 1 stories were therefore a massive success for Therion. Even I had been taken aback at how strong he was proving to be despite going into this solo challenge with the understanding that it would be one of the easier characters. When would the difficulty level start ramping up again? We'd have to see when and if that happened in the days ahead.