Unearthly Item Buying Guide

How to Use This Guide

This guide rates the various "unearthly" items—items that are or were sold in Zack's House of Coins in exchange for unearthly coins. All of the unearthly items are interesting and worth having, but if you are on a limited budget, not sure how heavily you want to commit to Metroplexity, or just want to get the most bang for your buck, this guide is designed to help you pick the unearthly item that makes the most sense for you.

Disclaimers

  • All of these ratings are unavoidably subjective. If you have the time and inclination, reading the full wiki entry (including the discussion page) on the item you're considering buying will let you decide for yourself if it's something you want. You might also want to solicit second opinions in chat.
  • Pay attention to the seasons. If you're primarily looking for items that will help you reset, or if you want a particular item for out-of-run use but don't know when you'll purchase it, pay attention to how long the item you're considering will be available in Zack's House of Coins. Newer items will remain available for use in-run for longer than older ones will. The "Seasons Remaining" information includes the current season, which ends as soon as the next unearthly item is released.
  • There are very few unearthly items that we understand completely. Items that may be rated as very complex and/or not very useful might be much easier to use and better than they appear to us right now because of our ignorance of how they work. If you like spading, a poorly-understood item might be perfect for you.

What the Ratings Mean

All ratings are on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest).

Utility

This rates how powerful/helpful an item is overall. This rating is split between in-run, where you only have access to what you can find and unearthly items that are part of the current season, and post-run, where you also have access to out-of-season unearthly items and all your items from previous runs.

Ranking Explanation
spark.jpg Very rarely useful
spark.jpgspark.jpg Helpful for a small niche, or situationally useful for general play
spark.jpgspark.jpgspark.jpg Important for a large niche, or a few smaller ones, or moderately useful for general play
spark.jpgspark.jpgspark.jpgspark.jpg Indispensible for some playstyles, or quite helpful for general play
spark.jpgspark.jpgspark.jpgspark.jpgspark.jpg Very strong overall

A small niche would be something like fishing, or overcoming one or two particular obstacles in a reset run. A larger niche would be something like hacking, or dealing with a recurring issue in resetting. A playstyle is something like a focus on gang warfare, or fighting primarily with one class of techniques (Melee, Ranged, etc.).

Complexity

This rates how much effort it takes to use the item effectively. This includes more than just how difficult it is to understand the item's underlying mechanics. An item that requires a significant amount of record-keeping, wiki consultation, or equipment and effect management to use to full effect will count as complex even if its basic principles are relatively straightforward.

Remaining secrets

This rates how much remains unspaded about the item. In a game where even seemingly-mundane items can have hidden depths, it's entirely possible not just for items to hide secrets, but for those secrets to be so well-hidden that we don't even realize that there is anything there to be found. So, as with all of these ratings, bear in mind that they are often based on guesswork. That said, sometimes Kinak will say how far along the spading on an item is on the Podcast.

This rating is split between content and mechanics. Content covers the special techniques, items, effects, encounters, enemies, etc. associated with the item. In general, items that cost one unearthly coin involve less content than items that cost two (or more), although one-coin items can also be very content-rich.

Mechanics covers both the numeric details of the content (base attack of techniques, opponent stats, etc.) and the underlying mechanisms for making the item do what it does. More complex items can involve several systems. If an item has any undiscovered content, that generally implies that the mechanism for unlocking that content is also undiscovered. The remaining secrets rankings for mechanics do not include this kind of secret, since the content rating already includes it.

Ranking Explanation
defaultitem.jpg Complete quantitative understanding of all functions; few or no numbers lacking
defaultitem.jpgdefaultitem.jpg Solid quantitative understanding of main functions; some numbers lacking
defaultitem.jpgdefaultitem.jpgdefaultitem.jpg Solid qualitative understanding of main functions; most numbers lacking
defaultitem.jpgdefaultitem.jpgdefaultitem.jpgdefaultitem.jpg General gist of main functions understood, with uncertainty about some of the relevant factors
defaultitem.jpgdefaultitem.jpgdefaultitem.jpgdefaultitem.jpgdefaultitem.jpg We may not even know what this item does, let alone how or why it does it

Flavor/Fun Factor

This rates how cool the the item is thematically and how much fun it is to use. Note: all of these rankings are unavoidably subjective, but that goes double for this one.

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Recurring Considerations

There are certain issues that crop up with all the items that go into a particular equipment slot, give a bonus to Etheric Defense, etc. Rather than duplicate the discussion of these recurring issues in each item review, some of the more common ones are listed here.

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Equipment Slots

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Hat

The hat slot's killer app is the air filter, which, as far as we know, can't be obtained except by wearing a hat. In-run, this is especially important for the latter parts of a run, where it comes in handy for defending against techniques like Gas Grenade, resting in The Slags, avoiding Slags Poisoning at the Tainted Shoreline, etc. An air filter is often useful post-run as well, so unearthly hats either have to have a use so compelling that it's worth sacrificing an air filter to use them, or have that use come into play mostly in situations where you won't be needing one.

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Weapon

Unsurprisingly, the weapon slot is mostly a source of combat power bonuses. With unearthly weapons you have to judge both whether the weapon is better than existing weapons for a given combat style, and also whether you do or would like to use that combat style with any frequency. Many unearthly weapons grant special techniques, which may be worth using even if you choose not to use the weapon that grants them after you learn the techniques.

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Offhand

If you are reading this guide, you probably already have, or are planning to obtain, an unearthly coin. A coin is a valuable piece of equipment, especially early in a reset run. But it faces fairly stiff competition for its slot, especially post-run, from items like:

Many of the items you'd want to equip in this slot also need to stay there for large blocks of time. This means that an unearthly offhand item or derivative has to be pretty good to stake a claim for this slot.

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Shirt

There are few shirts that you come across in the course of a typical reset run. The best you are likely to get without going out of your way is a vest like a light armored vest (perhaps upgraded to a monitoring vest) or the Third Eye vest. You will probably want to wear the scrubs top and maybe a containment suit top for short periods, but in general there is relatively little compelling competition for unearthly shirts in-run. Post-run, the many variations on the gang jacket, the ubiquitous heavy containment top, and shirts that modify chance of encounters are frequent contenders for this slot, along with a wetsuit top or shark hide vest if you are planning to go underwater.

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Pants

You can go through an entire reset run and never find pants better than smelly old pants. Containment suit pants are a containment suit part, but otherwise still just give +1 Melee Defense. Thus, almost any unearthly pants are likely to be a significant improvement in-run. However, late in a run you will likely want to equip pants like scrubs bottoms, containment suit pants (for resting in the Slags), and (if you do the Hel's Suspicions quest) smelly old pants at least some of the time. Post-run the heavy containment pants are often your go-to pants, but there's plenty of room for an unearthly option in most applications.

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Gadget

The gadget slot can initially be hard to fill at the very beginning of a run, but quickly becomes quite contested. You will often want to use the slot for:

This sets the bar fairly high for an unearthly gadget, since it has to compete with all of these other compelling uses for its equipment slot.

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Furniture

In-run, you will generally won't have any furniture other than a chemistry kit installed in your apartment, so there's no real opportunity cost to installing unearthly furniture. The only drawback is that you don't spend all that much time in Southside over the course of a run, so if credits are tight the Metros fare to and from your apartment to use your furniture might add up to more than you can afford.

Post-run, you probably still want to leave your chemistry kit installed, but you will have other attractive options like a protein analyzer, brick figure, etc. Removing an item costs one Energy, which is not a huge cost if you do it infrequently, but discourages frequent furniture swapping.

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Special In-Run Considerations

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Getting Etheric

There are relatively few points during a typical reset run (not pursuing a conduct, etc.) when you will be Etheric. The main ones typically include:

This means that any item whose functionality depends crucially on having or acquiring energy of Etheric will have limited in-run usefulness, since, other than the instances listed above, you would probably not ordinarily be spending valuable Body to get the effect.

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Etheric Defense

There are two occasion in-run where Etheric Defense is crucial. One is fighting Saber, where you need 6 Etheric Defense to avoid getting Crushed Perceptions. The Focused Mind skill or eye amulet is a readily-available way to get 2 Etheric Defense, as is the tome of binding. The lieutenant's shades also give 2, although if you are unlucky in the fight against Shard you may miss out on these. Any unearthly item that makes it easier to get Etheric Defense for this fight might free up equipment slots for potentially more useful items or allow you to get the one of the other skills from the Whispers in the Park quest besides Focused Mind or Protective Faith.

The other situation in-run where Etheric Defense is crucial is the Fifth Floor, where you will likely want to get a Dr. Johnson recording and possibly also want to fight 3 flying eyes to pass the High Road. Since it can take large amounts of Etheric Defense to have a good chance with these encounters, any unearthly item that gives this bonus can potentially shave many turns off of a reset run.

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Attributes

Attribute boosts are very helpful early in a run, and there are several key place in a run where they can be crucial. For example, items or effects that boost stats, particularly ones that boost multiple stats at once, are key if you plan to pass the Low Road in the Damaged Buildings. Post-run absolute stat bonuses are not as important most of the time, but the payoff from percentage boosts can be much greater.

Perception

Perception is helpful for increasing item drops and for getting the most out of Ranged techniques. In-run you will want a buffed Perception of 4 to find the crate of stolen medicines and at least 9 to lure a guard away in the Abandoned Building.

Reflexes

Reflexes helps you get the most out of Evasion techniques like Dive for Cover and most Stealth and Fire techniques. It can be helpful for running away without losing energy, especially in Midgard Bioresearch while you are looking for the Wandering Worker or Quartet of Doctors. You also need at least 10 to autokill a guard in the Abandoned Building.

Strength

Strength lets you get the most out of Melee techniques. Otherwise, buffed Strength is not much of an issue in-run (except if you do the Low Road) unless it is accompanied Will buffs sufficient to increase your maximum HP.

Will

Buffed Will has few known effects in a typical reset run other than increasing maximum HP in tandem with buffed Strength, except if you are doing the Low Road or using Etheric techniques.

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A Note on Summoning Skills

Several unearthly items grant summoning skills. A basic overview of the mechanics that govern them can be found here. All of these skills share some important features that makes having access to at least one very desirable.

  • Summoning skills are available in every season, even when the items that grants them are no longer available from Zack's House of Coins. This makes them especially good buys, since you will be able to enjoy their benefits in perpetuity.
  • Summoning skills let you burn off unwanted energy of Etheric-type effects. Being able to control the duration of Etheric type effects more precisely makes it easier to avoid unwanted etheric-only encounters or get encounters that only appear when you are not etheric. This is a powerful ability int its own right. Being able to convert energy of the unwanted effect into useful items is even better.
  • Summoning skills do not take up an equipment slot. Since they are skills, summoning skills do not compete with any of your equipment, unearthly or otherwise.

For these reasons, not to mention the actual bonuses provided by the items you can summon using the skills, having at least one summoning skill is strongly recommended. Having more than one gives you more options, allowing you to fine-tune the bonuses you are looking for to fit your current situation. Also, the effects granted by the set of items from a given summoning skill are mutually exclusive, but stack with effects from other summoning skills.

Items that grant summoning skills:

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The Rankings

Unearthly Coin (Always Available)

Seasons Remaining: Always Available
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Recommendation Buying and keeping one is strongly recommended unless you are done with your initial run and never plan on resetting, but more than one is overkill.

If you're speedrunning, you'll probably want an unearthly coin equipped almost the entire time. The +3 to all attributes is immensely useful when you're weak and newly reset, and there's simply no better offhand during a typical speedrun. In addition, "coinfishing" gives you access to one giant pike a day, which is an excellent way to fill your Hunger and ensure you have enough energy to meet your milestones.

Once your attributes are relatively high, the bonus becomes less significant and you'll probably be using this to fish for giant pike and/or mud eels once a day.

The coin effects from making morally fraught choices with the coin equipped are more interesting than useful except in rare circumstances.

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Legacy Items

Mysterious Puzzle Box

Seasons Remaining: CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE
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Recommendation Highly recommended. Extremely potent in-run, especially for ranged decks. Allows access to a treasure trove of content post-run through powder pouring.

This item takes a lot of time to get familiar with, and a lot of effort (and/or greasemonkey scripts) to take full advantage of, but it is definitely worth it. It is extremely potent in-run, as it can provide both a hard-to-get offensive boost from the gadget inventory slot, and very good food, which is also hard to get early in a run.

Post-run, when useful gadgets are more plentiful, the puzzle box will not be your go-to gadget as often. Still, the large stat buffs it grants and the useful drugs it can provide via powder pouring make it well worth having. The massive boost to Etheric techniques it makes possible and the fact that there is still a mystery or two hidden in it might add to its appeal.

This is one of the few unearthly items where it is advantageous to own multiple copies (so that you can make more use of its various capabilities without having to spend turns changing its form constantly, the prime example would be to keep one in a box form and one in a rod form, cutting powder pouring time from 25 turns per powder to only 15 tuns per powder).

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Prototype Coat

Seasons Remaining: CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE
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Recommendation Highly recommended. This item is almost game-breakingly good in-run, and optimal for hacking (and still useful for tough fights) post-run.

The Cinematic Dodge technique this item grants is extremely useful. At chain 5, it combos well with Dive for Cover, and is one of the few Evasion techniques that is effective vs. Stealth attacks. When used in conjunction with the coat, the technique also gives temporary buffs that add defense, further improving your survivability in combat. This item makes early-game combat dramatically easier.

With other shirts competing for its equipment slot you will probably use it less post-run, even if it is the best shirt for Evasion Power. In particular, if you are heavily focused on gang warfare the shirt's defensive capabilities may not be of much interest to you. Even then, however, you can use it once per day to make it best in slot (or close to) for various chance of encounters modifiers, or you can get Sloppy Hacker, which is very helpful for hacking (particularly if you don't own a coat of mysterious circuitry).

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Red-Lensed Goggles

Seasons Remaining: CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE
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Recommendation Strongly recommended if you plan on doing a lot of crafting. Lots of fun and useful post-run, but not outstandingly helpful in-run.

The +4 to Perception from this item can be helpful for getting full damage from ranged techniques in the early game, and can be helpful for passing some stat tests. However, in-run you have to go pretty far out of your way to get the Red Lenses effect that unlocks most of this item's content.

Post-run, this item does a great deal towards making fire a viable combat style, both because it gives a relatively hard-to-get direct bonus to Fire Power and because it grants the powerful Chemical Mixture technique. Since many fire techniques damage multiple opponents, this item can be especially useful for vigilante justice gang warfare encounters. (This can also be a good way to get the nifty mad scientist avatar.)

The benefits from crafting with the Red Lenses effect active help take some of the sting out of spending Energy making things. Metallic oil in particular is nice to have, and you can never have too much sushi.

The Fractal Understanding effect takes some doing to get, but the bonus to Code Finesse could allow you to pull off a tough hack that would otherwise be out of reach. Fractal code can also be used to make several useful Novos programs.

If the idea of mad science holds any appeal at all to you, you will definitely enjoy this item. Muahahaha!

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Urban Legends, Vol. 1

Seasons Remaining: CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE
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Recommendation Highly recommended if you do not already have a summoning skill, and opens up more options if you already have (or are planning to get) one.

This item grants a summoning skill, Urban Lore, which has the basic benefits common to all summoning skills.

The items have a nice mix of uses both in and out of runs. The defensive buffs are very helpful in-run for tough fights — the creepy clown statue deserves special mention as a way to help get enough Etheric Defense to avoid getting Crushed Perceptions in the Saber fight. The hefty stat boosts could conceivably help to pass the Low Road if you get the right items.

Post-run it shines even more, since you can stock up a large supply of items and make those +20% attribute boosts count more. The organ transport box lets you regain Body once per day if you have enough First Aid. The panacea pill is a good healing item in its own right, and is one of the few ways of curing The Jitters and Rasping Teeth.

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Crystalline Flame

Seasons Remaining: CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE
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Recommendation Not a powerhouse in-run, but potentially a source of useful techniques.

Most of the content in this item requires you to be Etheric, so it will probably not see much use in-run unless you're deliberately going out of your way in pursuit of a conduct or something. You can get the Crystal Strike technique without being Etheric. At chain 2, it could be handy if you're running a Melee deck and have not yet gotten any instances of Brutality. This technique is also handy for spading out opponent Will values, if you're into that sort of thing.

The other techniques this item grants are pretty potent if you are planning to use Etheric techniques. If you happen to have Fae Eyes, Defensive Burn is particularly nice. Fist of the Herald, available to Fae- and fish-aligned alike, is powerful, if a bit Body-Intensive. It's also worth pointing out that the drowning flame is still currently best-in-slot for Etheric Power. Both the drowning flame and the serene crystal give +1 Eclipse Duration. This bonus has been eclipsed by the charmed chain in the seasons since this item was first released, but if you don't have a chain those are currently the only other sources of that bonus from the weapon equipment slot.

Kinak says there is still something interesting we could learn by carefully looking at the messages you get when you [use] a drowning flame or serene crystal. Other than that, this is one of the very few unearthly items in the game that are fully understood.

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Festive Knit Hat (Available This Season)

Seasons Remaining: Legacy Item - Available This Season
Utility (In-Run) spark.jpgspark.jpgspark.jpg
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Recommendation This item is not necessarily something you'll want to have equipped all the time, but the situations where it comes in handy are common enough to make it worth having.

The Will bonus is moderately useful for boosting your maximum HP and a few stat tests. The hat's hefty bonus to Etheric Defense makes it much easier to prepare for fighting Saber. For example, the hat, the Focused Mind skill and the Gummy effect suffice to prevent Crushed Perceptions, which means you don't need a tome of binding in your offhand slot and can instead equip an unearthly coin or other more useful item. However, the lack of an air filter makes the hat less useful in The Slags or against opponents who use techniques like Gas Grenade.

The main value of this item is the Winter Spirits effect and its +3 Morale bonus. With this item, resting to make sure you go into an important fight with full HP also gives a significant boost to your attack power (as long as you are careful to make sure the bonus will boost the right kind of attack power). The extra XP from winning hard fights with the effect active can be helpful, but it's often something of a booby prize since the effect is so useful. Unfortunately, removing the hat also removes the effect, so you have to be careful not to unequip it inadvertently after resting, especially if you are using custom outfits. This can make getting the Morale bonus somewhat fiddly, especially post-run when you have more equipment in your inventory. Post-run, it is probably most useful for Melee fighters, since it allows you to get an otherwise unavailable attack power bonus from your hat slot.

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Elegantly Torn Pants

Seasons Remaining: CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE
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Recommendation Good for resetting, but really shines for post-run use if you're interested enough in optimizing to expend Energy on crafting and potentially some hard-to-get items to make high-end patches and reinforcements.

In-run, this item's base enchantments are reasonably helpful. The bonus to Will is especially nice if you're using mostly melee and need your Will to keep pace with your Strength to increase your maximum HP. Tough cloth is a fairly common drop when you have the pants equipped, so you should be able to get +2 Melee Defense out of this item for most of your run. Reinforced cloth for +3 Melee Defense or steel scrap for +2 each to Melee Defense and Ranged Defense are not out of the question later in the run. However, most of the really strong uses of the pants are only practical to get post-run.

Post-run, this item is very versatile and can give a wide variety of bonuses, many of which are not otherwise available (or, at least, not with such magnitude) from the Pants equipment slot. The downside is that you have to devote Energy to crafting advanced reinforcements, and some of them require hard-to-get materials. On the other hand, energy of your buffs is saved when you unequip the pants, so if you're willing to put up with some fiddly equipment-switching, you can save them up for when you really need them. If you do manage to build up a decent stock of black cloth scraps, crafting spiked cloth makes these far and away the best pants for Melee fighting, especially if you also use a fist patch. Taking advantage of the + power effects of many of the reinforcements also allows you to get Fire Power and Ranged Power from your pants, which is otherwise not currently possible. Also of note is the +5 Reactive Defense you can get from from slimy cloth, provided you have reactive gel to burn.

This item is less about flavor than it is about the numerical bonuses you can get out of it. If squeezing out more attack Power or Defense is important enough to you that you're willing to spend the time figuring out how the pants can help you and crafting the items you need in order for them to do it, the payoff can be significant. If crunching numbers isn't your thing (or if you're a hopeless packrat), you may be happier with a more thematically-rich item.

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Hungry Ooze

Seasons Remaining: CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE
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Recommendation Worth having for some niche applications in-run if you're speedrunning, but otherwise recommended mostly if you want to help spade it or are speculating on its utility improving when it's fully spaded.

This is a versatile item, capable of taking a number of different forms if you have the right kinds of items to feed it. The most obviously useful form for in-run use is the hungry ooze caul and its +3 Etheric Defense, which would be very helpful for fighting Saber. The hungry ooze egg would be nice for finding the Faerie Guide and other important Etheric-only encounters, but finding gadgets to feed to it might be difficult, especially early on. Otherwise, the hungry ooze lash might come in handy if you desperately need Reflexes and are not expecting a tough fight, and the hungry ooze cloak could be a source of Stealth Power for sneaking past a Security Hole.

Post-run, almost all of the ooze's forms are overshadowed by other items. The main exception here is the hungry ooze cloak, which is currently the optimal shirt to wear if you want to maximize your Stealth Power. However, while very few unearthly items are fully spaded, this one apparently has more secrets remaining than most. According to Kinak, "There's an underlying mechanic with the hungry ooze that hasn't been found, along with a fair amount of its content." So this would be a good item to get if you want to look for new content, or if you don't want to miss the boat if neat or optimal applications are discovered once it is no longer available. Kinak says item was designed so as not to require you to buy multiple copies to access all of its content. Whether having multiple copies would nonetheless be a convenience (as it is with the mysterious puzzle box) probably depends on what the item's underlying mechanic turns out to be when we find it.

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Feathered Cloak

Seasons Remaining: CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE
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Recommendation Highly recommended. There are many occasions both in- and post-run where you are looking for choice encounters, and this item helps you find them. The feather buffs are useful and there's lots of additional content to explore as a bonus.

The full mechanics underlying this item are fairly complex, but the intrinsic bonus to chance of choice encounters is straightforward and easy to get. More choice encounters also translates into fewer combats, which is helpful early in a run. And if you do get into a fight, the item's bonus Evasion Power comes into play. Deliberately getting a specific kind of feather takes some doing, but just wearing the cloak and playing normally will eventually get you feathers, and it doesn't even take a turn when one drops. The feathers can be helpful to buff up for fights, and further boost chance of choice encounters.

There is a great deal of additional content packed into this item—special boss fights, an outfit, several techniques, a cool avatar, and very likely some other undiscovered goodies. Figuring it out on your own would be a monumental task, and even if you consult the wiki it is still a bit tricky to get everything that has already been spaded. But you can choose not to mess with all of that and still take advantage of this item's core functionality.

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Extreme Tackle Box

Seasons Remaining: CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE
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Recommendation A must-have if you plan on doing a lot of fishing. Also generally useful for optimizers, as it's currently the only gadget that boosts chance of noncombat encounters.

The recommendation pretty much covers it. In-run, the most obvious application for this item is coinfishing (see unearthly coin above), although even then you may not want to use it for fear of getting a mud eel instead of a giant pike.

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Midgard Player

Seasons Remaining: CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE
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Recommendation Strongly recommended if you are interested in powerful (but resource-intensive) buffs for gang warfare and other post-run uses.

Kinak says this item is not primarily intended to be useful in-run. The recordings that drop when you have this item equipped can be used to gain a few XP. When played, the recordings give stat boosts, which may be helpful for getting past the Low Road. The right combination of recordings can also yield a "harmony" effect that provides an offensive boost, although whether the recordings that drop combine in a way that happens to boost your preferred combat style seems to be a matter of luck. It is possible to unlock this item with a processor chip so that it can be used for hacking, which can be situationally be useful in-run, particularly if Dr. Amundsen died. It comes with a significant code finesse penalty, but by way of compensation it provides an extra die worth of functions, so it's a trade-off that's at least worth considering.

Post-run, this item can yield powerful buffs (and apparently there is a whole other tier of buffs that we have yet to figure out how to unlock). Furthermore, if you unlock it with a processor chip and use a juryrigged link, you can run programs like white noise producer to get a large amount of Etheric Defense in addition to the Player's buffs (some of which already provide Etheric Defense on their own). Furthermore, Twisted Harmony and Whispered Harmony both provide a whipping +4 to Eclipse Duration. The downside is that getting these buffs, especially the higher-end ones, requires you to use up potentially valuable code modules, and also requires a fair amount of record-keeping and trial-and-error to find the right combinations (although this might be easier with a better understanding of how the item works). Still, if you are interested in optimizing, you can get a lot of buffs out of one equipment slot (for gang warfare, say) with this item.

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Zalian Defense Tool

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Recommendation Helpful as a source of Stealth Power at rare moments; temptingly cool to use but probably not optimal otherwise

There are a few situations in-run where it's nice to have Stealth Power. Early on, it's helpful for sneaking past the Security Hole in the Sewer Hideout, which is something you'll probably want to do at least until you get Dr. Thomas as a contact. (Make sure to equip a proper gun if you want to fight the gang boss!) Other places you could consider using it: Fleeing Pool Shark, Spying on the Supervisor, Abduction if you're doing a conduct that prevents you from being Etheric and/or getting Pep In Your Step, maybe Beaten Man if you're sure you can win the fight without a more straightforwardly powerful weapon.

There are two big drawbacks to using this item. One is that the base form is very weak, since it grants only a few points of Ranged Power at best and stealth techniques to take advantage of its Stealth Power are hard to get early on. This makes fights more challenging, and you need to win fights with the item equipped to make it upgrade and/or grant its special techniques. Unfortunately, the other drawback is that we still do not understand how to get it to do these things quickly and reliably.

If you can overcome these drawbacks, the item's special techniques are worth a look, The Zalian blade technique is tempting for melee runs, since it gives you something powerful at chain 3 while you're waiting to upgrade Punch to Crushing Punch. At chain 5, Zalian Shot is a definite step up from Single Shot and even Shotgun Blast (at least for fights where your opponent won't be using primarily melee techniques). Furthermore, it can be devastating if you use it with the Zalian Blade effect active, but unfortunately you can't get it until day 3 of a run at the earliest.

Post-run, the special techniques are easier to get, but with access to all your items even the bonuses of the Zalian multiweapon might not be compelling if you own a carved crystal orb, personal sniper rifle, or similar weapon unless you're building a deck composed of stealth, ranged, and fire techniques.

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HKGames Helmet

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Recommendation Recommended mostly if you want to look for neat undiscovered content or are looking for extremely powerful techniques to use in gang warfare.

This item gives a substantial Will bonus. In-run this is mostly helpful if you take the Low Road and maybe for one or two other encounters. It might also help boost your maximum HP if your buffed Strength is higher than your buffed Will. The non-Etheric versions of the special encounters from choosing to [use] the hat give one or two stat points (given the number and kind of techniques you will likely have in-run) without costing Energy. However, the opponents that replace the tests if you are Etheric are very hard to defeat in-run, so you have to time things carefully in order to get the XP without getting beaten up. It also appears that unequipping the helmet resets the countdown for getting a test, adding further difficulty to getting the free XP.

The main value of this item is the extremely powerful techniques you can get from beating the Etheric versions of the tests. For example, Gem Break is a powerful Etheric attack that also defends against opposing Etheric techniques. Thus, if you are interested in taking part in high-level gang warfare, this is almost a must-buy item. Still, these techniques can be challenging to get even with post-run resources at your disposal, so amassing a deck full of them requires a serious commitment.

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Emerald Gift scrapbook

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Recommendation Highly recommended if you do not already have a summoning skill, and opens up more options if you already have (or are planning to get) one.

This item grants a summoning skill, Emerald Meditation, which has the basic benefits common to all summoning skills.

The common sketches it yields provide helpful defensive buffs, which last twice as long as those from the comparable items from Urban Lore. The inspiringly strange sketch deserves special mention as a way to help get enough Etheric Defense to avoid getting Crushed Perceptions in the Saber fight.

The Channel Inspiration technique is potentially an extremely versatile attack, which (if you summon the right sketches) lets you make otherwise hard-to-get Fire and Stealth attacks. However, to get the full benefit out of this technique and the sketch buffs, you have to be Etheric. Since you probably won't be Etheric much in-run for other reasons, and until you have Experimental Chemistry and can make liquified Eclipse it uses up a great deal of Body to keep the effect active, it's not clear how practical this is.

It's not likely that you'll get all the sketches you need to fight a Flickering Guard in-run. The equipment it drops is interesting, but not especially compelling unless you want to increase the power of your Channel Inspiration attacks. On the other hand, it may have other, as yet undiscovered, uses.

The buffs from sketches and the items from other summoning skills stack, so having several such skills helps in buffing up for tough fights. This is especially true post-run when you have access to stockpiled items.

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Antique Floor Mirror

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Recommendation Months in the making and well worth having. This item is packed with content and still has unplumbed depths.

The first unearthly item that costs three coins, this item is loaded with content. In-run, where furniture is scarce, there's essential no downside to installing it. The stat boosts from the various "perspective" buffs are large and potentially useful. If you are willing to spend energy playing around with the mirror, you can gain stats quite quickly. This may not be optimal for minimizing day- and turncount, but it can definitely help with some of the more arduous conducts. The mirror-handled pistol and the postapocalyptic spear are good weapons in their own right and can yield the Mirror Shot and Mirror Strike techniques respectively, but getting the empty shards to make them in-run would be difficult.

Post-run, this item is a fountain of stats. It's also the source of a fair number of craftable items, some of which are extremely powerful, e.g. the ruby apple, or the mislit rusted sword and the amazing Clashing Blow technique it grants.

There is almost certainly much more about this item that we have yet to discover.

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Shield of Scales

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Recommendation Recommend for resetting if you are planning to use Melee or Stealth techniques, and a real workhorse post-run.

This item works well as a solid, utilitarian piece of equipment. Furthermore, if you are willing to put in the time to build the right deck and/or let it dictate some of your equipment choices, you can also unlock synergies with a great deal of ophidian content. It's well worth having unless you fall squarely into the ''Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?" camp.

This item has one large drawback for resetting, namely that it competes with an unearthly coin for the key offhand equipment slot. This makes for some interesting (agonizing?) trade-offs. The ability to learn Shield Block right off the bat has to be weighed against missing out on the large stat boosts from the coin. As your run progresses and your base stats get higher, it's easier to sacrifice to coin's stat bonuses in hopes of learning the technique. A chain that starts off with Shield Block and Dive for Cover together can be strong for any combat style, but probably works best with Melee or Stealth. You can't count on getting the other techniques the shield has to offer (Sudden Bash and Striking Shield) without going out of your way, but they may be worth pursuing depending on your strategy. The existence of further, undiscovered techniques is not out of the question.

Even if you don't use Shield Block at all, the base enchantment on this item is a useful one. There are many opponents later in a run who use melee attacks, and there are a few key fights where Etheric Defense is very important. The shield probably doesn't change things much for the Saber fight, since getting enough Melee Defense to make the bonus worthwhile could be hard. But it'd be a real boon for getting the Dr. Johnson recording.

Post-run, where you have access to more sources of Melee Defense, this item is very strong in zones where you face lots of melee and Etheric techniques. And there are many such zones: the Ghost Ship, The Charnel House (Reopened), Lake Metroplex (South) (especially if you fight the Ocean King!), etc. It might also be helpful in high-end gang warfare against somebody running an Etheric/Melee deck.

This item very likely has some as-yet-unfound interactions with the antique floor mirror, and perhaps also with other serpent-y content.

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Spacious Cargo Pants

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Recommendation Recommended for resetting if you are planning to use Ranged combat, and a source of good Ranged techniques for gang warfare and other tough fights post-run.

Good pants are hard to get in-run, so if you're resetting these pants are attractive just for the +2 Melee Defense. Getting the other benefits from the pants requires you to Check Your Pockets. This involves some trade-offs. For one thing, at chain 4, this technique conflicts with the all-important Dive for Cover, so there's an element of risk and uncertainty involved in using it. Furthermore, you have to be Etheric to get the really powerful rewards from the pants. Still, the gamble is probably worth taking if you are primarily using Ranged combat. The Lucky Shot technique is available even if you are not Etheric. While it's not guaranteed to do more than its low base damage unless you get, well, lucky, it does let you make long chains very early on. The rest of the non-Etheric pocket items aren't especially impressive, although the serviceable bandages are always nice to have.

The Etheric-only items and techniques are another story, even if you have to wait until post-run to get them. The "Bullet for … " techniques do solid damage and, more importantly, allow you to do damage and potentially block attacks with the same technique. They're also nice to have given the dearth of chain 6 Ranged techniques that work well as filler. Bullet for Surt is especially nice, since there are many opponents who use all or mostly Melee techniques. In gang warfare you are more likely to encounter opponents with Stealth- and Etheric-heavy decks that would allow you to use Bullet for Ginn and Bullet for Ymir to good effect. Unfortunately, the "Bullet for … " techniques do not seem to work while underwater.

The knuckle bones are still a bit of a mystery. There is likely something more to the knuckle strands, but we have yet to figure out what.

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Wolfskin Belt (Available This Season)

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Recommendation This item is helpful in-run, especially early on. It seems to be geared more toward awesomeness than being useful for any particular purpose post-run.

In-run the base effects are pretty strong. The +2 Strength helps mostly if you are using Melee attacks, but the +2 Power when your target doesn't have a technique helps all combat styles. This bonus will come into play often while resetting, since few opponents you encounter in the course of a typical reset run other than ghouls make long chains. The belt will be most useful early in a run; later it will have to compete with a Myers sampling kit, electrical kit/salvaging tools, glass bauble, PDA, or First Aid-providing gadget. Still, it will be extremely valuable in fights where running out of techniques can be a real problem, e.g. the Gang Boss or fighting the two Writhing Masses in order to get Experimental Chemistry, not to mention in must-win fights vs. Shard and Saber.

Werewolf form is not yet fully spaded. Details like the exact composition of your deck of special werewolf techniques and which special unlockable techniques there are still need to be worked out. There are no fights where it's glaringly obvious that being a werewolf would be optimal, either in- or post-run, but some may turn up as people think (or discover) more about the possibilities the belt affords. For example, the belt gives immediate access to a set of Etheric techniques that do not consume energy of etheric-type effects to use. This makes getting the Etheric Master conduct dramatically easier.

Kinak says there is some cool aftercore-related stuff in this item, but that it's not really designed to have a specific purpose other than being awesome. Being able to turn into a freakin' werewolf is undeniably cool. Kinak has also confirmed that there is a (yet-to-be-found) werewolf avatar. This is a solid item for resetting, but based on what we know so far it's more neat than optimal for post-run use.

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Rag Man's Cape

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Recommendation Recommended. Ragged Dodge is an extremely useful technique, and being able to get rid of Rasping Teeth is very helpful for gang warfare.

This item's base bonuses make it the best in its equipment slot for Etheric Power and Reflexes. The bonus Reflexes can be helpful in-run for dashing through security holes, chasing down the Fleeing Pool Shark, or maybe instakilling a guard when rescuing David. It might also make it possible for you to run away from an enemy without having it cost Energy. The bonus Etheric Power will probably matter mostly post-run.

The key feature of this item is that it unlocks special fights that allow you to learn the very nice Ragged Dodge technique if you win. If you have the cape equipped, this technique defends against everything except for Stealth. It does defend against Etheric techniques, which very few other Evasion techniques do. Since you have to fight to get the technique, this item is a mixed blessing in-run. On one hand, since the fights do not take Energy, they give "free" stats. However, they can cost quite a few HP even if you win, which you may well not versus opponents who can dodge many attacks and use difficult-to-defend-against Stealth attacks. At least pending further spading, the fights happen unpredictably, so if you are wearing the item mostly for its bonuses you have to be vigilant. Post-run, when you have access to better equipment and higher stats, winning the fights is less of a problem, although the relative infrequency of the special encounters makes the XP gains more of a perk than a main selling point.

The downside of using Ragged Dodge is that it only works well if you have the cape equipped. Also, if you are fighting while outdoors, you may not want to have the Rag Man show up to fight you periodically. On the other hand, fighting The Rag Man's More Powerful Ultimate Form is awfully cool. Also, the clean rags you can get as drops from these fights remove the nasty Rasping Teeth effect — the only known way other than the panacea pill and the serum mushroom (and then only with Fae Sight) to do so.

Even if you are not enough of an optimizer to care about this item's base bonuses, it may well be worth picking up even if you own a prototype coat just to be able to use Ragged Dodge in locations like the Ghost Ship. If your aftercore focus tends more towards gang warfare, though, you may not find it as useful.

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Nostalgic Toy Catalog

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Recommendation Highly recommended if you do not already have a summoning skill, and opens up more options if you already have (or are planning to get) one.

This item grants a summoning skill, Long Lost Nostalgia, which has the basic benefits common to all summoning skills.

The offhand items you can summon with this skill grant +4 to one attribute, but if you have this item you probably also have an unearthly coin that grants +3 to all four attributes, so getting an extra point in one attribute will probably not be worth giving up +3 to the other three stats very often. In-run, you will probably be more interested in using these items to get 20 energy of +2 Power to all techniques based on a given attribute. This is a fairly significant bonus, and, unlike the bonuses to attack power from sketches summoned with Emerald Meditation, you don't have to be Etheric to take advantage of it.

Fighting a Tin Soldier with a nostalgia effect active and a nostalgic offhand item equipped (?) lets you learn special toy-based techniques. At chain 4, these compete with Dive for Cover, so in-run they will probably be more for niche uses than general-purpose fighting. Further spading might uncover features that make them more attractive.

Toy bricks may well have some helpful applications in-run, but until more is known about how frequently you get them when using the skill and what you can make with them, it's hard to say how helpful they are. Post-run the brick figure is a very useful bit of furniture that over time can save you a significant amount of Body.

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Grappler Gauntlets

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Recommendation Solid for in-run use if you're using mostly Melee techniques, but not terribly useful post-run based on what we have been able to discover.

Whether you're in- or post-run, the gauntlets are only useful if you are using a Melee deck, perhaps mixed with low-chain Stealth techniques and bonus Power to Techniques Using Reflexes. If you are, the gauntlets are fairly powerful in-run. The bonus power at short distance doesn't only come into play against opponents using low-chain techniques; it also applies when your attack is unopposed. Since most in-run opponents use fairly short chains, the easy-to-get Grappler Jab technique will yield an impressive damage output in many fights.

Post-run the item seems less useful. To unlock its full power you need to have cyberarms installed, and even then there are questions about whether it's worth it. See the discussion here for full details.

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Scuffed Mining Helmet

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Recommendation Unlocks loads of cool content, but seems to have mostly niche applications for optimizers.

This item is the optimal hat for Stealth Defense. In fact, it's the only known source from the hat equipment slot other than the considerably-harder-to-get Vigilante's mask. The bonus to Etheric Defense is pretty niche, but in-run it might come in handy for getting a Dr. Johnson recording or for fighting Saber if you didn't manage to get the lieutenant's shades for some reason.

Good hats are hard to get in-run, so you might want to wear this in the Abandoned Building to protect against Kidney Punches. Participating in the mining encounters might be helpful for gaining stats if you are pursuing a special conduct, but probably take you out of your way in a typical speed run.

The special mining encounters this hat unlocks are very cool, and seem to include some rare drops. If you want to be sure not to be at the mercy of the OmniMall for access to them, or if you want to farm them yourself or just experience the special content, this is a fun item. If your attitude towards mining is "Lord, I am so tired. How long can this go on?" this may not be the item for you, pending further discoveries.

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Goblet of Bones

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Recommendation This item is potentially important for high-end gang warfare, but otherwise largely a niche item.

The base bonuses on this item are potentially crucial if you are facing opponents with a great deal of Etheric Power and want to respond in kind. This alone might well make it a must-have of you are serious about gang warfare. Otherwise, the Will and, for upgraded forms, Etheric Defense this item grants can be gotten from other offhand items that may be more useful overall. In-run, swapping this item in for an unearthly coin means more trouble with stat tests and may impair your ability to get maximum offensive power out of your techniques. However, if you take the trouble to upgrade to an overfull goblet in-run, the +4 Etheric Defense might be very helpful for fighting Saber or getting a Dr. Johnson recording.

The item's healing ability can come in handy if you don't want to spend energy resting, but it takes quite a bit of charging up to activate it. Furthermore, it appears you don't charge the item on lost fights, so you have to win fights with a goblet equipped and take significant damage while you do. So it's debatable how useful this aspect of the item is.

Pouring Blood is notable as one of the few high-chain Etheric techniques, which may make this item worth a look for combo decks with Ranged, Stealth, or maybe Fire.

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Crystal Spine

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Recommendation Strongly recommended, especially for those who do not own a mysterious puzzle box or a Midgard player. Good basic bonuses make it attractive for in-run use, and with some work it can give a big boost to combat power post-run.

In-run, the +2 to all attributes from the base form is an extremely helpful bonus, even if you also have a unearthly coin equipped. Finding anything to fill the gadget slot very early on is difficult, and this item can help you get enough Perception to follow the Couriers, or with stat tests in the Beaten Man encounter to lure away a guard or instakill a guard when you rush Shard. Later on, gadgets become more plentiful, so it will have to compete with first aid gear, the Myers sampling kit, a computer, etc. Still, if you are running a deck based mostly on one attribute, you may be able to switch it to a form that boosts your combat power, which could provide an important edge vs. tough opponents like Saber, the two Writhing Masses to get Experimental Chemistry, etc.

You can charge up the spine while sober, but to change it to another form you need to be Etheric, which you may not be doing all that much of in-run unless you are going for a conduct like Eclipse Purist. Post-run, it will be much easier to find the time to charge the spine up without going out of your way. The special techniques the spine can teach seem reasonably powerful, but to get the most out of them you need to have the spine equipped and in the right form, which limits their usefulness.

Post-run, it will take some time and effort to get to the higher-tier resonating forms of the spine, but once you do they give substantial bonuses. The attribute boosts from the resonating crystal spine are large, but as your base stats grow, you will probably be more interested in the "power to techniques …" bonuses from the other resonating forms. This puts it in the same general neighborhood as previous unearthly gadgets like the mysterious puzzle box and the Midgard player. If you don't own either of those, this item is probably a strong buy, since it gives combat power bonuses that you otherwise are just not going to be able to get from your gadget slot. The mysterious puzzle box is still king of the hill if you get Secrets of the Cube and are using single-style Etheric, Melee, Ranged (or, I suppose, Evasion) decks. The highest-tier buffs we have found so far from the Midgard player can give bonuses equal to those from the resonating forms of the spine. Getting these buffs from the player, however, can require you to consume difficult-to-get data. On the other hand, many of those buffs also give defensive bonuses, unlike the spine's. The player's buffs, like those from the puzzle box, are based on technique type rather than base attribute. Where the spine really shines (with a greenish light?) is in combo decks based on a common attribute, e.g. a Reflexes-based Stealth/Fire/Evasion deck.

Also note that, unlike other multi-form unearthly items, it is useless to buy more than one spine. Whenever you change the spine's form, all the spines in your inventory also change form.

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Toad Statue

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Recommendation Can't hurt and might help in-run; post-run its value probably depends on your willingness to rearrange your furniture

As furniture, this item is pretty much a "freebie" in-run. You can install it in your apartment from turn 1 of a reset run, and it won't compete with any of your equipment. There doesn't seem to be a way to force a particular "Smiling" effect, so getting a bonus to the kind of combat style you're using is iffy. You probably won't be making long enough chains to charge it up until late in your run (if at all), but you get at least one use a day out of it as long as you can afford Metros fare to and from Southside to use it. Other than that, there's essentially no cost to using it in-run.

Post-run there is more competition for furniture slots. There doesn't appear to be any penalty for removing this item and reinstalling it later, though, so if you are willing to spend the Energy to swap it in and out as needed it can give extra combat power for high-end gang warfare and other tough fights. You can gradually increase the duration of the buffs you get from this item, and this increased duration persists across resets.

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Holosight Rifle

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Recommendation Helpful but somewhat niche for in-run use, but potentially a very powerful ranged weapon for aftercore, especially for high-end gang warfare.

How much use you'll get out of this item depends mainly on how frequently you use Ranged combat. In-run, it might save you a smuggle if you typically get a roomsweeper. The Holographic Shot technique is handy through the Sewer Hideout, but will probably take second place to Explosive Shot except for fights where you are buffing your Etheric Defense. It can be better filler than Explosive Shot once you incorporate chain 7 techniques into your deck, particularly if you don't get a needler rifle to drop. The Holosighting technique is probably not much of a consideration in-run, since you generally have to go out of your way to get a scope before you hit the Buried Lab, and because the technique is not as good for multi-opponent fights.

Post-run, this item can be a source of large amounts of Ranged Power, especially when paired with a solid gunman hologram. This makes it generally useful in gang warfare, particularly against an opponent making use of Etheric techniques, and even moreso in conjunction with other anti-Etheric Ranged techniques like Disruptive Shot or Bullet for Ginn.

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Dancing Hut Figure

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Recommendation Helpful in niche situations in-run.

This item faces some stiff competition for its equipment slot. In-run, it's probably most useful if you are using Melee techniques, since your Strength will probably be increase faster than your Will, which means this item's Will bonus will likely increase your maximum HP. Also you can pick up a few instances of Stomping Dance if you burn The Stash in the Sewer Hideout with this equipped. That gives you a better all-around technique for chain 1 than Jab, even when you don't have Dancing Hut active. (It also beats Ghoul Bite if you have an air filter equipped.) This allows you to make 4-chains relatively early in your run.

The Dancing Hut effect can be useful for rushing Shard or having enough Reflexes to run away from Dr. Johnson after getting his recording if you're wearing a heavy containment top and/or heavy containment pants. It might also help with the Low Road if you have access to good Will buffs. In general, though, since occasions for getting Etheric in-run are few, this will not likely be your go-to gadget for much of your run.

Post-run you may well be Etheric more often, but you'll also probably have a wider variety of techniques to choose from as well. Since all energy of the Dancing Hut effect is lost if you unequip the item, you also have to be careful when using custom outfits for First Aid, Eclipse Duration, etc. lest you inadvertently get rid of the buff. The Grinding Mortar technique is quite easy to get and is notable as one of the few low-chain Etheric techniques.

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Designer Vines

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Recommendation Moderately helpful in-run if you are using Melee, and has some niche applications post-run.

The base bonuses on this item are reasonably strong. The +2 Melee Defense is decent even post-run, and the Strength bonus the pants provide is best in slot. In-run, these bonuses will carry you pretty far, especially if you are using a Melee deck. The whopping bonus to Strength makes it possible to get instance of the Crushing Punch technique much earlier in your run than you typically would, and also allows you to get enough Strength to take full advantage of your Melee Power, possibly obviating the need for an unearthly coin or crystal spine and thus freeing up an equipment slot. The vines can be handy for getting rid of the Vile Camouflage effect if you get it while looking for the Sewer Hideout, and then similarly later on for getting rid of Dripping With Gore from the Southside Lab Corpsepile if you do the Hel's Suspicions quest (or from the Bloody Still Life). If you do manage to pick up the Take Root technique this way in-run, the Vine Shirt effect might come in handy fighting the two Writhing Masses for Andrea the Grad Student.

In general, though, the Take Root technique is for post-run use. At chain 7, it's difficult to work into a standard Ranged or Melee deck. The highest-chain Melee attack is chain 4, which makes it all but impossible to incorporate Take Root easily. Ranged decks are higher-chain, but you might want to have a vine spear equipped along with the pants, which limits your sources of Ranged Power significantly. Eventually, you can make a dedicated deck of vine-related techniques, but it requires extensive farming of vine drops to do so.

The vine content seems largely self-contained for post-run use, as most of the drops craft into items that grant techniques that mostly depend on using Take Root and having the vines equipped. Farming vine drops is relatively slow and difficult to combine with working towards other goals, but the vines and a vine-centric deck might work well for fishing at the Tainted Shoreline, allowing you to do decent damage even with a fishing pole equipped and healing most or all of the damage you take each fight thanks to using Take Root while outdoors. The soaked vine fungus is notable as being second only to personal Eclipse in terms of energy of effect per Body. The Fungal Resilience effect from the vitalized fungus is potentially very valuable, especially if you don't have access to a mysterious puzzle box for Ancient Resilience, but even if you do having the option to use Body rather than Hunger to Use your highest Attribute to calculate Hit Points might come in handy.

Spading on the vines is still ongoing. In particular, there is probably some reward for fighting the Mold Golems that we have yet to discover. Also, there may well be a vine-related avatar.

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Book of Common Dreams

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Recommendation Although its power is modest, this item is strongly recommended because it permanently opens up new options for your character with essentially no downside

The Common Dreams skill this item grants is almost pure powercreep. Once learned, it will be available in every season, even when the book has rotated out of Zack's House of Coins. Using the skill costs only one energy of Etheric and no turns. Unlike the summoning skills, its cost does not increase as you use it more times in a day (and it does not affect the cost of summoning skills no matter how many times you use it). Another difference from the summoning skills is that you cannot control exactly when it fires, so it's a much less precise way of burning off energy of Etheric. Still, while the bonuses this item grants may not be overwhelmingly powerful, in many situations the opportunity cost to getting them is negligible.

In-run, this item is potentially helpful, but with no apparent way to control which dreams/items you get, you can't really plan a strategy around getting any particular item. If you are extremely lucky, you might be able to score a carnivorous beetle, which could help considerably with the Fifth Floor. More commonly, you'll wind up with at least one stat-boosting item, which give hefty boosts for the various points in your run where attributes matter; these can be particularly helpful for passing the Low Road. Again, though, you may not get the item you're seeking. Since in-run you don't generally get Etheric without a fairly specific goal in mind, you may not have a great deal of energy of Etheric to spare for getting dream items. On the other hand, if you are accustomed to using summoning skills several times a day, grabbing a dream item or two might be more a case of "can't hurt, might help".

Post-run, the stat bonuses are not likely to be as important. This is likely true even if the bonuses are doubled, especially since you may well not want to devote your offhand slot to a dream item in order to get the double bonus. If you don't have a Midgard blastshield or one of the limited-time items that provides +4 Fire Defense, the charred wooden souvenir can be a valuable piece of equipment for post-run use. Otherwise, there are also generally more potent alternatives to the dream offhand items as far as defense goes, although the Chance of Etheric Encounters modifier they grant may be a compelling bonus in some cases. One final point for post-run use is that (again, as far as we know) once you have one of each offhand item there is no benefit to having additional ones.

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Anniversary Pocket Mirror

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Recommendation This is a very versatile item, one whose utility will likely grow as more content is added to the game. Recommended.

This item grants +2 Stealth Defense, which is very hard to come by, especially in the offhand slot. This alone makes this a valuable item to have, especially since you can double that bonus if you have a weapon that also grants Stealth Defense. The "Reflects Your Weapon" bonus makes this item extremely versatile. As new items are released or discovered, its possibilities can only increase.

In-run, using this item means not equipping an unearthly coin. However, it can provide double the stat boost of an unearthly coin if you can survive without having a weapon equipped, e.g. if you want to dash through the Security Hole in the Sewer Hideout. It also makes the passing the Low Road much easier. Paired with a weapon, it can provide significant boosts to attack power, but the trade-off is that without an unearthly coin equipped, you may not have high enough stats to take full advantage of the extra power. In places like the Abandoned Building, though, this may be a sacrifice worth making in order to get extra Stealth Defense against the Kidney Punch technique that the Third Eye Gangers use.

Post-run, you will have access to a greater variety of offhand items, but with time and ingenuity, it is probably possible to discover many cases where this item is optimal. For example, with any fishing pole equipped, this item is as good as an inky sapphire, which was previous the best in its equipment slot for bonus fishing modifier. Furthermore, if you are fishing on the Tainted Shoreline while Etheric, this item's ability to reflect gaze techniques can make fights vs. Flying Eyes much easier. It is currently the best-in-slot Morale offhand item if you have a morale weapon.

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Coat of Mysterious Circuitry

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Recommendation A must-buy if you plan on doing any significant amount of post-run hacking.

This item requires a significant investment of time and resources to upgrade to its most powerful known form. For in-run use it is therefore essentially a glorified light armored vest unless you are doing an unusually large amount of hacking. However, if your post-run plans include more than a smattering of hacking, this item is indispensable, especially if you plan to use a juryrigged antenna to find sites to hack in zones where you might also have to engage in regular combat.

It's also worth noting that Kinak has confirmed that there is a higher-tier version of the coat that we have yet to figure out how to unlock.

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Abstract Domino Mask

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Recommendation If you can put up with some fiddliness, very helpful in-run, especially for Melee decks, and useful for optimizing post-run

The base bonuses on this item are not spectacular, although the +2 Stealth Power can help in a couple of places in-run (e.g. creeping through the Security Hole or instakilling a guard in the Beaten Man encounter). However, with one of the "Hide" effects active, the mask is optimal or tied for best in slot for many of the bonuses its effects provide. The mask is reasonably friendly about the "Hide" effects; they don't go away when you unequip it, so you can save them for when you need them. On the other hand, you can only use the mask to get a "Hide" effect once per day. Furthermore, at some point you have to charge up the mask to unlock the effect you want, so making good use of the bonus can be fiddly.

The mask can yield an impressive array of techniques and substantial dollops of XP, but it takes some record-keeping and long-range planning to take full advantage of this. Also, the precise mechanics that determine getting the techniques and XP are still being spaded. Still, even with what we know so far it should be possible to get several instances of Gnawing Mask or Masked Shot on day 2 of a run, providing a noticeable boost to combat power for basic combat styles. Gnawing Mask in particular unlocks without you having to go much out of your way, as using Hide Your Decisions on day 1 helps you find choice encounters you need to make progress on quests. Its bonus damage at Short Distance also applies when it is unopposed, so against most in-run opponents it is very effective. Furthermore, sticking with a Melee deck makes is fairly easy to get Shadowed Mask on day 3, which works well in a hybrid Melee/Stealth deck, perhaps using some knife-based techniques. A deck like this works well if you are using a wicked knife to try and pickpocket Southside lab notes in the low-alert Buried Lab.

To unlock Masked Shot you need to run Hide Your Hunt, with its increase to Chance of Combat Encounters that more often than not is actively detrimental to finishing a reset run quickly. (Both this and Hide Your Decisions give stat boosts that you might need to get rid of guards in the Beaten Man encounter, though.) Still, Masked Shot does 11 base damage following Single Shot even if you don't have the mask equipped, so it's extremely potent in-run and often valuable chain 6 filler even in a post-run deck. In a long aftercore stint getting the various mask techniques will be easier, but post-run they will have to compete with a much wider array of other possible techniques. Also, the fact that the mask doesn't provide an air filter limits its usefulness for a many post-run environments.

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Black Tablet Shard

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Recommendation Helpful for tough fights in-run, with lots more spading of post-run uses to come.

In-run, the base bonuses on this item are fairly strong. It can give a substantial boost to attack power early on, provided that your attacks depend on your highest (buffed) attribute. This makes it somewhat more helpful for Ranged decks, which are generally entirely Perception-based than for Melee decks, which generally include both Strength-based techniques and Reflexes-based ones like Lash Out. The bonus Chance of Etheric Encounters will presumably help with finding the Faerie Guide and the Evil Eye in the Park, and with the Dock Song quest. As your run progresses, you will acquire other items you'll want to use in the gadget slot, but you might want to pull out the shard for tough fights like the two Writhing Masses to get Experimental Chemistry, etc.

There is a lot more to this item beyond the base bonuses, including the Shard of Language skill, but to get to it you need to invest a fair amount of effort into amassing a deck full of the various shard-based "script" techniques. These are Etheric techniques that do not require Eclipse to power them if you have the shard equipped and are willing to use a Script technique, which may be a useful feature for some applications.

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Blade of the Snows

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Recommendation Helpful in niche situations in-run. Offers some techniques post-run whose usefulness is still being evaluated.

The base bonuses on this item are fairly weak — it can quickly become outclassed in terms of raw attack power bonuses even by equipment obtainable in-run. However, in-run an item that grants a substantial Stealth Power boost is generally important enough to warrant spending a smuggle on a wicked knife (see discussion here). So even if you have little interest in learning or using knife-based techniques in-run, having access to this item means getting crucial medical supplies earlier, or having more chances at smuggling in an all-important pinch of Nova. The Snow Blade technique does not seem to be very hard to obtain if you are using low-chain techniques, but the Thawing Blade effect it gives reduces the already-low bonuses on the blade, so you have to be very careful about including it in your deck (although having a fairly large duration of it is required to unlock most of the rest of the techniques the blade offers).

While it is not very practical to obtain the other techniques that the blade can teach in-run, it does offer a fair number of them. They seem unlikely to form the cornerstone of a go-to general-purpose deck, but relatively little spading has been done on them, so they may have hidden uses. Still, if you are a fan of Yuki-onna, a snow maiden-based combat suite may be irresistibly appealing. It's also possible that there is an unfound avatar or other content associated with this item.

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Stainless Skulls Helmet

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Recommendation Potentially powerful (but with some drawbacks) in-run for Melee users and useful for optimizers post-run based on what we know so far

The base bonuses on this item are not outstandingly strong. The +2 to Melee Defense is hard to get from a hat in-run, but most of the opponents you meet in-run who use Melee attacks are in zones where you also want to be using an air filter, which this item doesn't provide. However, if you have music playing, the helmet grants hidden bonuses depending on the type of music. This makes it the optimal hat for several of them and, in the case of Melee Power, the only source from the hat equipment slot.

Getting music to listen to in-run is not easy, but the helmet does provide a little of its own: once per day it can give you 20 duration of the Stainless Skulls effect, which can give a fairly significant boost to Melee Power. It also gives an additional, hidden, boost to Melee Power if you are wearing the helmet while a metal song like Stainless Skulls is playing, which you likely would be. Unfortunately, this comes with a penalty to Evasion Power and an increase in Chance of Combat Encounters, with the former being a straight debuff and the latter being generally undesirable in-run. Also, the effect does not go away when you remove the helmet, so you'd have to time its use carefully since you can't get the effect and then save it for later. Still, if you are using Melee it can give a significant power boost for tough fights or areas if you can deal with the drawbacks.

Of the several techniques it can teach, only Rhythmic Chopping is likely to be gettable in-run, but at chain 4 it competes with Dive for Cover, so unless you are pursuing the Ironman conduct or are for some other reason indifferent to defense, it will probably not be one of your go-to techniques.

The other techniques the helmet can grant are easier to get post-run, where you have more access to different kinds of music. Spading is still in progress on these techniques, so it's difficult to say at this point how powerful they are. We know of a few items and an effect using this item can give. Since the helmet is a two-coin item, it's entirely possible there are special opponents or other further goodies hidden somewhere in it, so the jury is most definitely still out on its overall post-run usefulness while we await further discoveries or confirmation that we have found most of what there is to find.

This item has some interesting synergies with the Midgard Player.

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ReflexCoil Pants

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Recommendation Useful for optimizing Reflexes but otherwise not outstandingly useful based on what has been spaded

The base bonuses on this item are moderately helpful. In-run the +2 Melee Defense would be hard to replicate with other readily-available pants, and even post-run these are currently the optimal pants for Reflexes. Especially when your base stats are still low, the large boost to Reflexes from these pants might save you an energy or two each day by allowing you to run away from an opponent so quickly that it doesn't take a turn.

If you charge the pants up and then start a combat from a choice encounter, you can get the Unleashed ReflexCoil or Explosive ReflexCoil effects for that fight only. It's not clear how often bonus Evasion Power or Stealth Power will be especially helpful in-run, though. You can also get the ReflexCoil Kick technique, but at chain 4 it competes with Dive for Cover, so using it ironically means you'll have less use for the bonus Evasion Power unless you can also get the ReflexCoil Leap technique. Unfortunately, this technique requires running away from a fight and does not seem to be easy to get even then, at least given what we know so far about this item's mechanics. Also worth noting is unequipping the pants seems to remove any charging you may have done, which means using them is problematic late in a run where you will want to equip pants like scrubs bottoms, containment suit pants, and (if you are doing Hel's quest) smelly old pants.

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Charmed Chain

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Recommendation Strongly recommended if you ever plan on taking any Eclipse (and if you don't, why are you even playing this game?)

This item is well worth having just for its best-in-slot base bonus of +2 Eclipse Duration alone. Both in-run and post-run, this can save you significant amounts of Body. In other respects, this item seems to be more about a wealth of flavorful content that optimizing, but spading is still in its preliminary stages.

Since using this item as your weapon replaces your deck with its own special set of techniques, it can be challenging to fit it into a typical reset run, especially since it requires getting etheric to access anything but the basic chain techniques. The basic chain techniques are largely Melee-focused, and might be helpful very early in your run when you just know Dive for Cover and Punch by allowing you to make 3-chains. Unfortunately, there are two drawbacks here: (1) unless Chained Fist hits the same counter as using Punch, using the chain will mean you aren't making progress towards getting the Pugilism skill and (2) instead of Dive for Cover you have Swinging Chain, which does not seem to work against the Ranged attacks most early-game opponents use. All this said, nobody has yet completed a reset run using this item as their main weapon, so it may have important undiscovered in-run uses.

Post-run, you are more likely to be able to make use of this item's advanced charm-based techniques. Some are quite strong, although it's not clear yet whether what the chain has to offer provides clear advantages over other competing combat suites. The Unlocked Chain skill lets you gain otherwise-unavailable derivative items from using the chain, although their uses are still being spaded. It's entirely possible that there's an avatar related to this item. All content aside, though, this item has a place in every character's Eclipse Duration outfit.

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Midgard HGS Prototype

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Recommendation Initial impression: helpful for Ranged fighting and quite contentful for a one coin item

With little competition for furniture slots in-run, installing this item is not likely to require any trade-offs in-run. It guarantees at least one dose of the helpful Flickering Game effect each day, with the possibility of more if you are willing to get and sacrifice some Sugar Rush or Pep In Your Step. The +2 Ranged Power from this effect obviously matters mostly for Ranged decks, but the +2 Etheric Defense is nice for all the usual applications (fighting Saber, etc). However, you do need to plan ahead so that using the prototype coincides with visits to Southside for other reasons if you want to avoid exceeding your budget for Metros rides. The fact that you need to physically travel to your apartment to use the HGS also limits its usefulness for prepping for the Fifth Floor, since you can't just leave the Damaged Buildings and pick up again where you left off. Also, you need to be careful about getting the effect if you are planning on going Etheric, because you might then encounter hologame gangers, whose Stealth attacks will likely be hard to avoid.

The Hologame Shooting technique is moderately handy. With Flickering Game active, it's better than even the closer version of Short Burst, which can help when you want to incorporate chain 7 techniques like Stream of Needles or Full Auto into your deck and need filler instead of closers at chain 6. It is probably not worth spending extra energy (and possibly Body on Etheric) to fight the Hologame Ganger opponents and so you can get the Hologame Meditations effect (from the pendant model). Moreover, except in a very long run, you are unlikely to be able to amass enough page models to make a hologame tome.

Rocksplitter Shot looks like a solid technique, but it takes a substantial amount of effort to obtain, so it is unclear whether it's worthwhile to get unless you are planning a very long aftercore stint.

Tattered Horror Paperback

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Recommendation A good source of cyberware in aftercore if you are willing to be patient

This item grants a skill, Patchwork Dreams, that will be available even when the tattered horror paperback is out of season. Even, so, it is unlikely to be of much help in-run unless your run lasts for an unusually long time. Making cyberware in the Massive Glass Tube takes several steps, and even getting an experimental beaker requires at least two trips to the lab.

Even post-run, deliberately trying to make the lab show up is somewhat slow and frustrating, but if you are content to go about your normal aftercore business and visit the lab when it happens to show up, you will gradually acquire the lab's special cyberware (and, if you install it, associated techniques) at an extremely modest cost. Some record-keeping would be helpful if not absolutely required if you want anything other than experimental beakers or capacitor plugs, though.

Multiple pieces of cyberware can be queued up in the Massive Glass Tube at once, and if you grow all six pieces you can then fight a Stitched Creation. Winning this fight unlocks the Whipstitched Avatar.

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Bullet-Holed Vest

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Recommendation The flexible defense and perception bonuses can be situationally helpful in run, and Vindictive Shot is quite effective against many in-run opponents.

At the start of a run there's little reason not to use this, especially if you're going for a ranged approach. The +2 to your highest defense can be tuned with your other equipment, and the bonus to perception from both the shirt and Ectoplasmic Gore are useful for stat checks and damage output, if going ranged. Getting Ectoplasmic Gore does require losing a fight, however.

You probably won't get too many instances of Vindictive Shot in run, but it provides an etheric attack without actually having to be etheric, and even without a power boost aside from Ectoplasmic Gore it will still hit most in-run enemies pretty hard. Once Shot won't help against melee, but it does protect against ranged and, importantly, stealth, making it a good option to have if you're going to try fighting Third Eye Gangers.

Post-run, Ectoplasmic Gore is a pretty easy source of etheric power, if you're willing to deal with getting beaten up and then healing afterwards. It also counts as a sludge effect, giving it some synergy with the designer vines.

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Lens Focused on the Unknown

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Recommendation Provides a selection of useful buff options.

If you're using ranged techs, this is a very useful item in-run and doesn't require a very large deck to work with. The lens focused on the distance in particular provides buffs to both ranged power and power to techniques using perception. Other forms can also provide stealth defense or etheric defense, which can be tricky to come by in run. Even post-run, the lens focused on minutiae is at the time of writing the only source of stealth defense in the gadget slot.

The 'exaltations' are still not well understood, but they can provide XP or energy of Fluid Focus, which can allow you to make use of etheric power bonuses that might otherwise not be helpful in a ranged or fire deck making use of perception.

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Incredibly Abused Pants

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Recommendation Provides some techniques and experience, but still poorly understood.

The rankings for this are with the caveat that this item is still poorly understood. In-run, the etheric power won't be of use most of the time, though the evasion power may occasionally be useful, depending on what opponents you're fighting and what other pants you have available. The technique granting encounters require you to be etheric, and you can only learn Ghoul Bite until you already know that tech and can use it in fights, so you likely won't be getting much on that front.

How to control whether you get Stalk Through Snow or Fire Run is not understood at all, though people have managed to learn both of them. Further content may require knowing both of these techs, which has limited spading attempts thus far. Stalk Through Snow is a powerful stealth tech with Eclipse, and Whirling Snow also helps to reinforce a stealth deck. Fire Run is in need of further spading.

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Costume Crown

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Recommendation A bit niche, but scrolls of lineage are generally useful. Provides a goal for gang warfare, and the True Royalty avatar provides some bragging rights.

With its focus on gang warfare and being etheric, as well as gravediggers being moderately tough opponents, this item is of limited use in run. The +2 etheric defense can be handy if you don't get the lieutenant's shades, and +4 Will may buy you a couple HP, but it's unlikely someone will upgrade this to the coronation crown during a run.

Post-run, the coronation crown is best in slot for etheric defense and will, strictly better than the shining mask which has less will. The few points of will probably matter less than the ability to generate scrolls of lineage, however, which give you access to 25 turns of Royal Truth, with +4 Etheric Power/Etheric Defense without any Body cost. The remaining item drops are neat, but equivalent bonuses can be found elsewhere.

To earn rewards from the Chamberlain you must either fight gravediggers or conquer contested areas in gang warfare. Defeating gravediggers can be done without entering gang warfare, but only one set per day. In addition to getting the royal outfit pieces and then earning scrolls of lineage, completing tasks lets you move up a 'leaderboard'. You can check how far behind the front runner you are by asking the Chamberlain about pretenders. Making it to the top lets you qualify for the True Royalty avatar, after doing some additional tasks. The exact trigger hasn't been nailed down, beyond needing to be in the lead.

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Ferry Coin

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Recommendation Useful for getting etheric techniques in run, and for grinding will XP.

In run, the increase to will XP from any given encounter won't be huge, but it will add up over time. It also applies the square root of your buffed will to your other stats, but it will take some time in-run before that can beat the bonus from an unearthly coin and only works if buffed will is your highest stat. The real shining point in run is if you want to pursue the Etheric Master conduct, as you can learn Offer Passage just by losing fights, and then Watery Passage from as soon as you have access to the Waterfront. The occasional heal after losing a fight may come in handy, too.

Post-run the techniques have a fair bit of competition, though the flavor for using Offer Passage against undead opponents is fun. With higher stats the bonus for having will as your highest stat may potentially become more prominent. And, of course, if you need to grind will XP you'll probably want to use this. Ideally in combination with the antique floor mirror in the Fractured Reflection (Winter), but there are other sources of will XP through choice encounters.

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Classic Writing Desk

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Recommendation Some potentially useful effects in-run, and later a source of whichever chance of encounters modifiers you want.

Since by default you only get one use of this item per day, the in-run utility is somewhat limited. By saving your use to the end of one day and the start of the next, though, you can have a chance at an item for story effects. Failing that, if you can get chance of encounters modifiers from some other source, you can control which of the fiction effects you receive when using the desk. Fantastic Fiction and Observational Fiction both have modifiers that could be useful to pass particular tests. The etheric defense from Creative Hollowness is in theory useful, but arranging it for the times you want it may be difficult, unless you want to spend some time doubling the effect.

Post-run you will be able to more easily take large amounts of Eclipse and control which fiction effects you get, but stocking up on writing items for the story effects seems like the real win. Energetic Story, Technical Story and Brutal Story in particular seem useful, depending on your playstyle.

There's still something going on with the 'Think harder' option that we haven't been able to figure out yet. A skill of some sort seems entirely plausible, but we'll have to see if anyone can figure out how to get the inspiration to make it all the way down the rabbit hole.

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Dueling Jacket

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Recommendation A strong item for resetting, especially for Ranged decks, but looks to have limited post-run use

The base bonuses on this item are not outstandingly helpful, but it grants two techniques that are extremely useful for resetting. Dueling Dodge defends against both Melee and Ranged, and at chain 5 combos well with Dive for Cover. Dueling Shot has low base damage, but presumably gains power following Dueling Dodge and at chain 6 serves as good filler if you can learn some chain 7 techniques. Especially for Ranged decks, this item ought to boost in-run survivability and combat effectiveness substantially.

With the main selling of this point of this item looking like the techniques it gives access to early on, it appears to be much less useful post-run when equivalent or better techniques are relatively easy to get. Keep your eyes peeled for a sweet duelist avatar, though.

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Ecofuel Flamethrower

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Recommendation Best fire weapon you're likely to get in-run, and the Smoking Ecofuel technique can boost post-run fire decks

For pure fire power, this is in line with the other strongest weapons available (aside from the smoldering coal under certain circumstances), but the +2 Evasion Power is usually overshadowed by the bonuses of other options. When available in run, though, it's probably your best weapon to use for the Firestarter conduct. Unlocking many of the techniques associated with the weapon in run will likely be tricky because of the amount of resources involved, but post-run it's fairly straightforward. The techniques are not the strongest in their chains, but Smoking Ecofuel stands out for the ability to apply the Inhaled Ecofuel effect, giving your target -5 Fire Defense and making this much more attractive for a pure fire deck. You can also unlock the Ecofuel Persona avatar by unlocking ~40 technique instances, though the precise unlock hasn't been nailed down.

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Tactical Goggles

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Recommendation Tied for best in slot for both ranged power and stealth defense

Definitely the best headgear for ranged power in-run. Post-run, competes with the blindshot visor but fills a slightly different niche. Also best in slot for stealth defense, tied only with the scuffed mining helmet, another unearthly item. The Chipped Tracer technique is weak, but the Tactically Tracked effect will debuff your enemies for other ranged hits. The tactical neural mesh provides a decent extra hacking die, and works with the goggles for even more ranged power and stealth defense, if you're up for the body cost for the cyberware. There's still some content we haven't discovered with this. Another recipe seems likely, but it could be something else.

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Trick or Treat

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Recommendation Provides buffs to combat power, or foods that can provide those buffs, but with a risk of combat instead. Nothing amazingly powerful, but post-run cost is fairly minimal.

In-run you probably won't be spending enough time etheric to get much use out of this. And even if you do, running into the Harvester could be trouble. Post-run, at a cost of 1 etheric energy per encounter the cost is fairly minimal unless you run into the Harvester when not prepared. The buffs are a useful +2 to techniques using a given stat (or unopposed), but since you don't seem to be able to control which one you get, shooting for the candy is probably better. It's okay food, and you can control which effect you get by which type you eat. You can also get the Harvester library which can be made to craft a few programs. They're fun, but not necessarily the best if you've got a full hacking suite already. It does seem that there are two items from this that we're missing.

Shifting Maze

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Recommendation Provides chance of choice encounters, and an optional challenge with an avatar as a reward

Chance of choice encounters is extremely useful, both in and post-run. The bonus is equivalent to having an ad spider running on a computer, making it tied for best in slot. The evasion power also doesn't hurt. The fights within the maze won't happen unless they're activated, making it safe to use even while etheric. Once you are ready for the fights, the opponents can drop useful items (clear draught for medicine and maze fang for the Envenomed Fang technique stand out), and eventually a fair bit of XP. The fights can become difficult, but if you endure and make it to the 36th floor you unlock the Maze Explorer avatar.

Trick Top Hat

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Recommendation Helps to shore up stat weaknesses and provides stealth power in the hat slot, with a technique that can help your XP balance

The bonus to your lowest stat opens up some strategic possibilities, and you will always get at least something out of it thanks to the +2 stealth power on the hat itself. That also makes it a pretty decent option for stealth power in the hat slot with no penalties. Getting a wicked knife through a gang smuggler is pretty straightforward and gives you a combined +7 to your lowest stat. This will often be Will, and that bonus is enough to, for instance, pit your will against the Evil Eye In The Park and succeed. It can also shore up a weakness when it comes time for the Two Roads, though at the cost of not having an air filter.

Top Hat Trick is a neat technique, some forms have Evasion Negation, and it can help you to earn XP in a stat you're lacking in, but overall it's not particularly powerful. And in the after-game the stat bonuses from the hat become less significant over time, though it might help you boost your HP a bit if you're focusing on stealth anyway.

Moodlight Glove

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Mascot Adapter

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Personal Tree

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