A martini glass in black and white

August Scepter: Overview

2023-07-31 // IOTM Overview

The August Scepter is a scepter you can use to cast skills. There are 31 skills you can cast, one for each day of August, the month of my birth. Luckily, every single month has 31 skills, so this IOTM will be exceedingly useful for remembering which day of the month it is for every month of the year going forward. Big ups to Gregorian monks for prudently making every month the exact same number of days. (No, stop booing me, I'll never fact check myself on this one.)

General Summary

The August Scepter is an offhand. The base enchants aren't particularly meaningful; it's equivalent to a Mr. A in raw stats (with +15), and otherwise sort of mid, with some HP/MP regen and a bit of spell and weapon damage. Realistically, you aren't going to be equipping the Scepter very much during your run. (Honestly, this is kind of a welcome change, I appreciate IOTMs that don't require me to constantly switch out my equipment!) The critical feature of this IOTM really comes in the skills. You can cast five skills a day, with each skill being limited to 1 cast a day.

Trying to summarize the entirety of the August Scepter's skill alignment would be... unwise, I think. It simply does too much random nonsense. When implementing it into TourGuide, I kind of mentally categorized it into 5 sets of skill outcomes:

  • SUMMONS: You can summon a ton of random stuff through this item. The big power player here is the waffle (more below), but other neat players are water balloons, watermelons, oyster eggs, a melting tiny gold medal, and a booze that gives +100% booze drop.
  • EFFECTS: Notably, you can get a brand new 50% item / 100% meat effect. And an offhand doubler, which we'll discuss later. You can also get some added +combat frequency, an effect that gives a weird turn-taking banish that lasts so long as your effect is active, an effect that gives you postcombat +adventures in mountainous zones, the Bees Hate You wanderers buzzing around you wherever you want, and some other mild players.
  • STATS: You can summon for free stats. The stats are roughly 50 times your current level, which is... fine? It's not going to massively change your life, but it's cute! Good way to ease up routing constraints if you really need it.
  • FIGHTS: You can summon a few free fights, too -- most notably, the tooth golem (ew) drops a bunch of loose teeth and an item that can be used to trade loose teeth in for some mid-tier gear. You also can get a free catfight, which is cute.
  • UNCATEGORIZABLE WEIRDNESS: OK, OK, yeah. A category system that just has one category that's "here's all the stuff I couldn't categorize" has kind of failed as a system, I get it. But it's hard to categorize a skill that gives you (effectively) a free 11-leaf-clover, the worst sniff in the game, a voraci-tea + food drop buff, and a small crazy horse generator-type-thing.

For more details on the specific skills, highly recommend checking out the ASS spading spreadsheet used while the collective crew was figuring out what the heck the item did.

Speedrun Applicability

The scepter is a neat IOTM. It's deceptively simple -- while there are a ton of options, old hats know that there's almost always a handful of locked-in options that take up the majority of a tool's power budget. That holds true here. The most powerful thing in the Scepter are almost assuredly the waffles -- while they're ostensibly a food item, they're actually a combat-throwable version of the Replace Monster or Macrometeorite skills from past IOTMs. You can throw it at a given monster to change the monster into another of the monsters in your zone without spending a turn. Monster replacers like these are interesting -- they provide a nice view into why skilled players can get a little bit more out of a resource than one who is still learning to use their set.

Realistically, there are a lot of times in a run when you don't actually want to use a replacer, even if it could theoretically solve a problem for you. Let's say you're in the Palindome, you hit a Drab Bard, and you really want to hit a Bob Racecar to olfact it. There's some desire, potentially, to use a waffle; after all, it -could- turn into Bob Racecar or Racecar Bob. But if you haven't banished in the zone yet, the probabilities are more than a bit against you -- Tan Gnat, Taco Cat, Flock of Stab-Bats, and Evil Olive are all -also- eligible to be hit by the waffle. So you're looking at a 2/6 chance that re-rolling your monster actually helps you, so a 33% chance of saving 1 turn and a 66% chance of saving 0 turns. As the converse, let's say you're in a zone doing Yossarian's Gremlin sidequest, and you've already banished an A.M.C. Gremlin and a spider gremlin. You're looking for an erudite gremlin Over Where The Old Tires Are, but you get a bad break and hit the one that doesn't have Yossarian's tools. Never fear -- in that cases, a waffle is a flat 1 turn saved, because you hit a thing you didn't want and the only other option in the zone is a thing you DO want. Using waffles should always involve thinking about the eligible monsters in the zone, the likelihood that the waffle will give you the monster you want, and the likelihood that you won't have a better option later (or, for people who are hoarders, the likelihood you won't have any option later...)

Nevertheless. Waffles are powerful, that's the real crux of the story here. The summon skill gives you 3/day, which is (to a clever ascender) worth essentially 3 turns of value a day. Awesome! You have four other skills, and while there are some different strategies you can think through, some of the commonly used options include:

  • The Lucky! option. Easy and simple -- an extra clover is valuable in most cases, you can usually find SOMETHING turnsaving to do with it.
  • The 50% item / 100% meat option. Saves you anywhere from a half a turn to a full turn on nuns, and can save you 1-2 turns in your item sprint. Good stuff.
  • The -1 fullness / 100% food drop option. Can save about half a turn on searching for your blasting soda while also opening up a little more turngen. Generally just an "OK" option, but it's overall fine.
  • Offhand Remarkable. It doubles the enchantment of your offhand. This is surprisingly hard to use SUPER well, and isn't always a part of my plan, but it has a lot of value in the right hands. One easy stock usage is to double whatever enchantment you're using with the Unbreakable Umbrella -- a -10% combat offhand turning into a -20% combat offhand is, uh... kind of cracked, folks. And +50% ML is patently absurd. It's hard to use, but it certainly isn't impossible.

In low banish paths, you may also want the Lion's Roar banish to help round out your suite; if you can overlap it with Gremlins + Haunted Bedroom + Hidden City you can get some real value there. The 100% booze drop wine is similar to the food drop option, but has a small advantage in dropping two instances of the buff in two bottles of wine, letting you also hit something like Blackberries earlier in your run. Beyond that, if you get REALLY desperate, there's always a free fight! (Or, if you want to hurt yourself, you can get the Water Balloon buff for a smaller version of the +item/+meat effect.)

2023 In-Standard Synergies

  • As aforementioned, the offhand doubling skill is extremely synergistic with the powerful enchantments on the Unbreakable Umbrella (2022).
  • Waffles synergize in an interesting way with the Familiar Scrapbook (2021) -- you can get an extra scrap if you bring a familiar with a within-combat action into a fight where you plan to use a waffle, because the waffle resets the flags that tell the scrapbook you've already gotten a scrap for within-combat actions in that combat. This is worth, very literally, 1/100th of a banish. (Maybe 2 with Jill.) So it's a pretty small synergy. Bizarrely small. But it exists! It's like Geodude: entirely real, not fake, and not made up in any way.

Overall Rating

We'd rate the August Scepter as a tier 2 IOTM, though there's some flex around that. An average run will get at least 4-5 turns per day saved from the Scepter -- largely on the backs of Waffles + the meat/item option, but Offhand Remarkable can do some serious work too. Poor Waffle usage can detract from the Scepter's might, though this is certainly a skill you can get better at -- learn how to use your waffles wisely, and you'll be a dignified grandiose scepterian in no time flat.

Article contributed by Captain Scotch