Darkest Dungeon II – Man at Arms Hero Paths and Trinket Design

Man at Arms, Darkest Dungeon’s grizzled supporting tank, will be making an appearance in Darkest Dungeon II. And as a result, we can now check out this article on the game’s website that highlights two of his hero paths – the Bulwark and the Sergeant.

Here’s more on those:

The Man-At-Arms

“A resolute defender, tempered by the merciless blows of innumerable assaults!”

Bulwark or Sergeant?

The Bulwark path bolsters the Man-at-Arms defense with increased HP and heightened Riposte and Crush damage. However, with his focus on the melee, the Man-at-Arms becomes vulnerable to bleed, blight, and fire.

The Bulwark Man-at-Arms relies on an increased HP pool to weather the DOTs that he can no longer resist, all the while destroying monsters with enhanced Crush and Riposte damage. He maintains his regular defensive kit, loaded with protective Block tokens that will make it extremely difficult for direct damage to work though his newfound mountain of health.

This is not a Path that evokes finesse. Crush can deal enough damage to kill a number of monsters in a single strike and Retribution’s Ripostes, while not as strong, will quickly wear down anything unfortunate enough to target the Bulwark.

DOTs are the only real threat to this Path, having no real resistance to any of them. A Plague Doctor’s Ounce of Prevention+ will mitigate much of the penalty but, even then, it’s still not going to provide much protection without additional trinket support. If you’re really concerned, you can trinket your resistance up on a region-by-region basis with items like the Curing Cuppa but it might be better to just rely on a Greater Hale Draught to push the Bulwark’s already considerable health pool to its limits.

If you’re planning on taking a lot of hits via Retribution, Reverberating Redoubt and Price of Pride are strong trinket choices that will make it easier to keep your Riposte tokens flowing!

If Crush is more your thing, there’s always the oft-suggested Greater Gnarly Knuckles or Wounding Words.

With The Sergeant path the Man-at-Arms stands his ground and takes command, using his authority to increase Allies’ Bleed, Blight and Burn resistances. Unfortunately, while his focus is on reinforcing his allies, and holding his position, the Man-at-Arms damage is decreased.

The Sergeant Man-at-Arms sacrifices damage in the name of stability and support. Given his reduced damage, consider placing him in the back in order to open the front ranks up for more damaging Heroes. The Sergeant can still provide tanking via Retribution – don’t expect much damage from the Ripostes – or Defender.

The Path’s enhanced version of Bolster allows the Man-at-Arms to keep everyone fighting fit by clearing Weak and Vulnerable tokens in addition to the usual stress heals. Command’s ability to clear Blind and grant Strength makes it an obvious pairing choice with the Leper or other damage-focused Heroes.

The passive chance to radically raise the Bleed/Blight/Burn resistances of other Heroes pairs well with the Plague Doctor’s Ounce of Prevention+; any Hero under the influence of both will be all but immunized to DOT damage.

If your Sergeant is going to hang out in the back ranks, consider the possible applications of Bellow. Beyond the obvious defensive option of clearing CRIT and Riposte tokens from monsters, it has some fun debuffing potential with trinkets. The Runaway’s Firestarter skill also turns the skill into an AoE firebreath! It also adds a Burn DOT to Retribution’s Ripostes; a handy way to get around some of the lost damage.

Slap a Dead Ringer or Disarming Dagger on the Sergeant and Bellow can now stun or leave monsters Vulnerable, which will assist other Heroes in making up for the damage he can no longer contribute. The Laden Lantern will benefit him if you’re running Firestarter Bellow or Retribution.

If you really want to rely on Retribution or Crush in spite of the penalty, Greater Gnarly Knuckles or Grim Mask will help to offset the sizable damage debuff, but why not put those on other damage dealers and let your Man-at-Arms push their damage to new horizons via support?

And then, you might be interested in this developer blog that talks about Red Hook Studios’ approach to trinket design. Check it out:

Welcome to ‘From Beyond’ – an ongoing series of blog posts that will shed a flickering light on the development process of Darkest Dungeon II…

The focus of our next update will be Trinkets, or as we on the dev team affectionately call them, Tranks. We aim to release this update on the Experimental branch as early as next week!

Trinkets in Darkest Dungeon are equippable items you can find on your journey. They are often earned as a reward from combat, but are often also purchasable from the various vendors found along the road. Each character can equip up to two at a time.

A central thesis of Darkest Dungeon is making the most of an imperfect situation, and many of the game systems are built around providing trade offs and interesting decisions for players to make.

When you first loaded up Darkest Dungeon II, we asked you to allow us to collect gameplay information. If you said yes, you are helping us gather valuable data enabling us to move away from anecdotal stories and look at HARD NUMBERS. One thing we track are the most equipped trinkets.

Here is a snapshot of what the general trinket usage looks like for profile levels 15-50 from 5/25/2022 to 6/15/2022.


Unsurprisingly we see that +DMG is far and away the most commonly used trinket in the game. It’s a highly sought after stat bonus, and helps speed up combat. We don’t ever expect trinket usage to be uniform, and by the nature of the unlock sequence we know that some will never have the same usage count as the more readily available trinkets. That said we would like to see a bit more variety here then what is currently displayed. We always work to ensure that there are interesting decisions for players to make!

Given that you will never access the full catalog of trinkets in any single run in Darkest Dungeon II, we wanted to get back to the spikier tradeoff-oriented loot of DD1. We are aiming to push the trinket design in a way that they can be run-altering when you get that ultra rare trinket from a hard battle! To that end, we are refactoring the effects of the trinket pool with the following in mind:

Be creative and push the boundaries: The roguelike structure of Darkest Dungeon II allows us to push power and effects further than we could on Darkest Dungeon 1, where an overpowered trinket might be game-breaking in a bad way. The last 8 months of monitoring Early Access has given us more info and more ideas about things we could do to make trinkets more fun.

Give & take: We are reinvesting in the practice of pairing beneficial effects with negative costs. We have looked at player trinket usage, and thought about lessons learned from Darkest Dungeon 1, focusing on what stats should be paired together to create interesting trade-offs.

Strategy-altering effects: Powerful trinkets should aspire to create moments that prompt players to reconsider their party composition & skill loadout. Some of the fun in roguelikes comes from adapting on the fly and sometimes hitting the jackpot with run-altering loot.

Rarity & category: Each rarity and category of trinkets has a place within the game. We’ve reduced a lot of the incremental stat bonuses as you step up the tier rungs in order to give trinkets more individual identity.

Strong reasons to visit locations: Some items are found and tied thematically to their region location.

Here are some selected trinkets that we are currently testing to help illustrate the above stated goals. These are subject to change.


The July update has a bonus, too! Along with all these tranks, we are also adding a third hero path for every hero. Get excited to theorycraft and test out new builds as we aim to deploy this update next week to our Experimental Branch on the Epic Game Store!

Meanwhile, the Cultist Herald’s demoniac piping announces new threats from the limitless emptiness of the void. The writhing Altar calls forth a twisted champion…as the world slips ever closer to oblivion.

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Val Hull
Val Hull

Resident role-playing RPG game expert. Knows where trolls and paladins come from. You must fight for your right to gather your party before venturing forth.

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