Exile 3 is where I defined the structure of my Mad Monk Squad. This particular configuration I have used through the entire Avernum series, except as a 4 member party rather than a 6 member group. I have gotten into many a discussion on the merits of the MMS vs the more traditional single purpose specialization of the PC's.
I always liked the 6 member group in Exile because I could pair up by 2 or 3 members, split up and cover attacks on multiple fronts. In Averum, I could only split into two 2 member teams, nor not split at all.
What was the original reason for the MMS?
Early in the game, weapons are weak and don't do a lot of damage. Armor is weak and doesn't provide a lot of protection. Archery was iffy, missing more often than not and inflicting less damage than stone shortswords.
On the other side of the coin, starting in Exile 2, you have this joyous thing called an anti-magic field, which renders you spell casters completely useless and totally vulnerable. And then there are dungeons that drain spell points just by being there; Gremlin's Gold in E2 and Tower of Zkall in E3. Once again, your spell casters are totally vulnerable to being killed.
Why do I call them the Mad Monk Squad? They aren't really mad, not even angry. They are so called because many consider it madness to configure a party this way. Probably so, but there is a method to my madness.
There are two versions, Exile with a 6 man team and Avernum with only a 4 man team.Starting out in Exile, it looks like this 3 fighter/priests, and three mage/priests. The fighter priests start with level 3 priest, so they can cast Wound. Of course they can also Bless and Heal. All other skill points go to strength, weapons, etc. The mage/priests start out level 4 at both mage and priest. You don't know any level 4 spells yet, but you get additional spell points for each level of either mage or priest skill. Besides, it's cheaper to invest in it now
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you start out with the first three levels of a mage or priest skill, you do not have to buy the spells for those first three levels. If you wait until after you've started the game to add skill levels, you have to pay money for those spells.
Here is the breakdown. (Class I = highly skilled, Class II = moderately skilled, Class III = low skill.
1) I-Sword Fighter / II-Priest; This is Tank. Except for his level 3 priest skill, all other initial skill points go towards sword fighting. He gets all the new, more powerful weapons and armor as you find them. Concentrate eartly training on melee skills. As he reaches max skill in combat you can start adding skill in Priest. If you like, he may eventually reach level 7. Then he can cast Avatar, something that helped tremendously in the final battla against Garzahd.
2) I-Pole Fighter / II-Priest: Sssson of Ssslith. Pole weapons are about the best to found, so you want a good pole fighter. This is a good place for a Slith if you like. In terms of armor, he gets the hand me downs from Tank, but his weapon of choice is a good pole weapon. Again, this PC is primarily a fighter, so this is where your early development goes. If you like to take the Monk Squad seriously you can take him up to level 7 (avatar).
3) II-Sword Fighter / II-Priest + Tool + Archer or Alchemy: You'll need someone with high tool use to disarm traps, etc. He gets the hand offs from #2 fighter, If you like Archery, it takes a fair amount of skill in Exile to be effective. Archery works better in Avernum. Once again, early development is in sword fighting, and later in the other skills. If you like Alchemy, you're probably thinking that that task should fall to your priest. I prefer to focus my 'back three' on mage and priest skills. I don't have points to spare for additional duties.
4-6) My 'back three': These PC's are more or less equally skilled in both mage and priest skills with enough sword fighting skill so they can help whdn fighting through magic dead zones. One is more specilized in Mage skill, another is fully into priest skill, with the third one varying into both.
The 2 shaman, 2 hedge wizard combo always worked for me. But here is another wrinkle; one of the fighter/priests will be stronger and more heavily armed and armored than the other one; I call him Tank. The other fighter priest will have high tool use to deal with traps, and her arms and armor are hand me downs from Tank, I call her Sapper. They also have ranged fire attacks with their priest (equivalent to mortars), and medical skills as well, so as to lighten the needs on a single priest.
Then you come to your hedge wizards. One is going to be stronger in mage, call him Arty, short for DivArty. He is also a MASH unit. The other will be stronger in priest, call him Doc, although he is also medium artillery. If they don't specialize to some degree they won't be able to use the higher level spells with the efficacy that will be needed.
Now as to deployment, you have a few choices, depending on circumstances:
If your PC's are strictly specialized they will form a good combined arms team, but only if they act as a single team._________________________ I will probably remember more to post on this later.