Making the Most of Your Characters – Stirring Abyss

Making the Most of Your Characters – Stirring Abyss 1 -
Making the Most of Your Characters – Stirring Abyss 1 -

A brief overview of the cla*ses, including how they work and what their functions are, and available mutations in the game, all based on personal experience and observation. I’ve seen some people discussing how difficult they find the game, so perhaps this will help.


I’ve noticed a lot of people calling this game very difficult, and a lot of their struggle seems to come from not knowing how to use their characters. As such, I figured this might be helpful. Happy diving everyone!
As I said in the guide description, the following information is based entirely on experience and observation. There may be things I overlooked or forgot about – please inform me. Future game updates may render some of this information incorrect – again, please inform me.

The Basics

No, not ‘roles’. I realized this term will come up a lot, so I’ll go over it here.
Once in a while, you’ll come across a specific type of challenge in the game, where the outcome is decided by a roll of the dice. The dice have a blank side, a side that adds 1, a side that adds 3, and a side that subtracts 1. You can reroll any die that did not show -1, though you only get one reroll. The goal of this dice roll is to reach a minimum value, which will be displayed at the bottom of the screen – orange for “pa*sing with a drawback”, yellow for “pa*sing”, and green for “pa*sing with a benefit”. This is a bit of a simplification, but the point is, you ideally want the sum of your dice to reach the green value. Failing outright or only reaching orange can even give your character a permanent negative trait, or it can make it more difficult to complete future missions.
This minimum value is affected by a character’s stat, typically Strength or Insight, as well as advantageous/disadvantageous skills/traits. You will usually be able to select which character is performing the challenge by having the character select the object with the challenge and choosing to act – if you realize the character is at a disadvantage, you can back out and bring over another character better suited.
Your Characters
In Story mode, you get a maximum of 8 characters (also called divers) – you’ll start with 2 by the time you end up at the submarine, get 2 more through the main story itself, and can rescue up to 4 other divers on various missions. Divers can be leveled either via missions, or via spending supplies once you unlock the proper submarine upgrade (achieved by draining a convertible room in the sub – there are multiple, identified as such, and you will have to spend resources to get said upgrade).
It is important to realize: you cannot change your mind once you have leveled the diver. You cannot redistribute stat points or change your selected traits/skills.
Each character has three bars to keep in mind: oxygen (mission-specific, starts full every mission), health (carries over between missions, capable of pa*sive regeneration on the sub), and sanity (carries over between missions, not capable of pa*sive regeneration on the sub). Health and oxygen hitting 0 will kill the diver for certain. Sanity hitting 0 is not inherently lethal, though it can still get your diver killed – try to keep it above 15, at the bare minimum.
You get (at first) 3 divers allowed on a mission.
Your Submarine
This is your home base of sorts. This is where you store and select equipment for your divers, choose missions, select which divers to send on missions, upgrade divers (either via leveling or via the Enigma Board), and craft items. When you first get onboard your submarine, it’s completely flooded and requires power to drain each room. I suggest making it a point to drain the Enigma Board room, the room that increases pa*sive healing, and the room that allows for healing via supplies first. Once they’re clear, only drain one room at a time, to save power. You can use power on missions.
I also mentioned convertible rooms. They are exactly what they sound like – rooms with no real function, converted into another type of room. Once you convert a room, it cannot be converted to something else. You’ll receive a short list of options, most of which are non-repeatable (increased pa*sive healing is the only repeatable option). For the record, I suggest prioritizing either sanity healing or increased clue gathering first. That said, there’s also a room that will increase the number of divers you can take on a mission. While it makes air management more difficult, it makes exploration, combat, and item management far easier and will likely reduce the overall time spent on a mission, somewhat alleviating the air management issue. It’s resource-intensive, thus not feasibly a high priority, but try to pick it up.
I also mentioned the Enigma board. You spend clues in exchange for various upgrades to your diver team and, let’s call it quality of life? If I’m frank, I probably need at least another 24 hours of gameplay before I can make true recommendations there. That said – there’s an upgrade for your oxygen tank available early on. Grab it first. Also, critical chance is under ‘Eldritch’ while critical damage is under ‘Biological’. Keep that in mind.
Your Missions
You have an overall mission – locate your submarine’s captain. But each time you leave the submarine, you’ll have a smaller mission meant to progress that. These missions largely involve exploration and combat: you have to find a spot, marked as a yellow ‘x’ on your radar, and clear out enemies you encounter on the way. Just be careful – trying to move away from or past a hostile enemy will provoke an Attack of Opportunity, a free attack on you. Putting yourself in the path of an Attack of Opportunity will usually turn the path from blue to red to warn you.
While you’re on a mission, you still have some submarine-related functions: you get a radar (used for locating enemies; a convertible room will also allow it to detect resources like scrap metal and chests), a spotlight (used for illuminating an area without needing to send a diver over), and evacuation (provided there are no sufficiently nearby hostile enemies, you can get a diver out; the mission ends when all divers are evacuated). You can also unlock torpedoes, best combined with the radar and spotlight (to find clusters of enemies) to get the drop on your foes. All of these functions, except evacuation, require power.
Now, on the submarine itself, you do unlock one more function: on the mission select screen, you have another form of radar (also costing power) to find optional missions. There are 3 types largely: Diver Rescue, Salvage, and Seal Defense.
Diver Rescue merely requires you to find the diver – as mentioned, you get 4 of these, max. Take them.
Seal Defense is a little trickier – you have to fight waves of enemies for 10 rounds. The good news is, this means you probably don’t need to bring an extra oxygen tank. The bad news is, that can still be a lot of enemies to manage. Make sure you’re used to combat and maneuvering before you pick this one. The spotlight and even flares can be helpful to illuminate enemies for ranged attacks.
The trickiest of the bunch is probably Salvage – you need to find a certain number of special orange crates before you run out of time (15 rounds). The nature of Salvage means it’s most efficient to split up, but enemies are still on the map. This can make combat significantly tougher. This mission can be made easier with the convertible room upgrade for radar, mentioned above, as it will detect the boxes as resources, though it only reduces wandering.
Salvage also has a sub-type (ha) of sorts (SPOILERS AHEAD): the Soviet cache. It too is on a time limit, though all you need to do is find the cache and force it open. You’ll want a character with high strength to do the roll. Optionally, there are three pieces of Soviet information, which will show up as resources on the upgraded radar. They’ll reduce the difficulty of forcing open the cache. Your reward will be a more powerful piece of equipment – my favorite ended up being the Hullbuster, a chaingun that could only fire once before reloading but could usually take out whatever it hit with ease. At this point in the game, though, you’re far more likely to run into larger groups of more powerful enemies, which is what makes this mission difficult. On top of that, failing the roll will destroy resources in the cache. My general strategy, since I had unlocked 4 divers per mission, was to send them off in pairs; once the cache was located, and if I didn’t have all pieces of info, I left my strongest diver at the cache and sent the other three out to find the piece of info.

The Cla*ses

Officers: This is the first cla*s you start out with in Story mode. Mostly, it serves as a cla*s for inflicting ranged damage via the speargun. Never send an Officer out without a speargun. (Luckily, your first mission grants you a basic speargun, but I’ve made this mistake before.) Its secondary function is to buff the other divers in combat. You definitely want Insight on this cla*s, Endurance secondary.
Associated labels: Lt. Commander, Commander, Ensign
NCO: The second character you get in Story mode will be an NCO – the fourth is also an NCO, after the second mission of the game. These guys are your melee fighters and most likely the ones taking damage in-game. Their job is to hit as hard as possible without getting hit back. I’d recommend Strength, but their most beneficial stat may vary based on their Traits.
Associated labels: Warrant Officer, Cook, Seaman
Science Officer: This is the third cla*s you get in Story mode. The science officer is almost like a subdivision of the Officer – it also functions largely on ranged damage. However, unlike the Officer, its main function is to debuff your opponent. Again, Insight is great, though they don’t go poorly with any of the other stats depending on Traits you select for them.
Associated labels: Science Officer
Generally speaking, you want one of each on missions – your NCO for melee, your Officer to back him up at range or to buff him, and your Science Officer to debuff the enemies. When you get the sub upgrade that allows for four divers, I recommend two NCOs. If not possible, two Officers – one focused on buffing, the other on shooting – can suffice.
Note: For the rest of the guide, the Science Officer cla*s will only be referred to as ‘Science’, to reduce confusion with the Officer cla*s.


Traits and Skills are acquired as your character levels up. Hovering over the Trait or Skill in question will explain its function to you. While there is a general pool each cla*s draws from, each character gets twelve randomly-selected options from the pool at the time of their creation. You only get to see your next two options, which can make character building more than a little tricky. This is why I cannot recommend specific builds here.
I should also note that certain skills and traits will affect the difficulty of rolls. To the best of my recollection:
Stoic, Chemist, Linguist, Strategist, Slippery, and Robust all acted as advantages for certain rolls.
Chaplain was the only selectable skill that acted as a disadvantage. There were other disadvantages, mostly acquired from failing past rolls.

  • Officer pool: Weapons Specialist, Explosives Expert, Commander, Chaplain
  • NCO pool: Brawler, Goon, Marine, Spotter, Gritty, Slippery, Swift, Strategist
  • Science pool: Blinding Dart, Numbing Dart, Impeding Dart, Dissolving Dart, Dart Proficiency, Dart Velocity, Chemist, Geologist, Linguist, Psychiatrist, Witch Doctor
  • Observed in multiple pools: Lab Rat (Officer/NCO), Occultist (Officer/Science), Jolly (all), Robust (all), Spontaneous Mutation (Officer/NCO), Sad*st (all), Mas*chi*t (all), Sturdy (Officer/NCO), Ruthless (all), Stoic (all), Medic (Officer/Science)

Some combinations are going to work better than others. For example, if you managed to get 3-4 Darts on a Science, Dart Proficiency might work better. If you only have 1-2, Dart Velocity would probably be best. On that note, if the Science has a lot of Dart skills, Mas*chi*t isn’t very useful. Similarly, an Officer focused more on buffing probably won’t gather as much benefit from Ruthless.
That said, a few traits that particularly stood out:

  • Chaplain got a lot of use out of me despite its fairly long cooldown time. It clears a small area of corruption, which can keep extra foes from joining an already-difficult battle, inflicts damage on any enemy in its area, and adds a small shield to any of your allies in its area. It does a lot of good for keeping NCOs alive, especially if they’re outnumbered. It does serve as a disadvantage on certain dice rolls, but I still consider it worth it, and just suggest using a Science instead for those rolls.
  • Jolly/Sad*st/Stoic are all used to increase/regenerate sanity. For reasons discussed under Mutations, try not to put them on your NCOs, though that’s not to say they’re useless. Heck, Stoic will benefit you on more than a few dice rolls.
  • Slippery is fantastic – no Attacks of Opportunity against you. Combined with Swift, your NCO can be anywhere on the battlefield.
  • Strategist and Commander both confer extra action points – either for extra movement or an extra attack. I cannot stress how helpful this is.
  • Medic is helpful, but with a caveat: it can only be used on someone hurt within the past two rounds (well, at least to restore any HP). It cannot replace a medkit.
  • I gave Geologist and Psychiatrist each a go and honestly did not find either particularly useful. Between the two, though, I’d pick Psychiatrist as it will at least spare your Science from Attacks of Opportunity.



You have four stats: Agility, Strength, Insight, and Endurance.

  • Agility: This stat increases your melee aim and your chance of critical hits.
  • Strength: This stat increases your base melee damage and maximum hit points.
  • Insight: This stat increases your ranged aim and your maximum sanity.
  • Endurance: This stat increases your defense and damage reduction.

While the stats are defined in-game, and you can see their effects in the bottom of the character sheets, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of their effects.
For Seal Defense missions, try taking along divers with high Insight, which will usually be Officers and Science. This will reduce the difficulty of the dice roll and make it easier to remove up to 3 levels of corruption without backlash.
For Bull Statues, it depends on your overall goal. While the Bull Statues can offer Words of Power (inflict damage to multiple enemies, some sanity loss) and Void Swap (swaps two characters, allies or enemies), they can also offer Void Marrow, necessary for mutations and raising the dead with the Profane Chapel. If you want the skills, use a diver with high Insight. If you want marrow, use a diver with high Strength.
On a bizarre sidenote, one of my Science divers came with a positive modifier to Strength – I ended up using her at all the statues.


The last major part of this guide. You get a maximum of four mutations per diver (five if you choose spontaneous mutation). You get to pick between two options and can spend 15 clues to see two different options. Personally, I recommend taking the Natural Selection from the Enigma Board before mutating divers: it gives you three options instead of two, which makes a lot of difference when you’re looking for a specific mutation. I’m going to list off the mutations I’ve observed and what cla*s benefits from them the most:

  • Abyssal Grasp: Gain a tentacle arm – +4 base melee damage, unable to use a speargun. NCOs only. You’ll be choosing between this one and the Pincer. The main difference is that this skill is better for repositioning enemies and still allows for attacks of opportunity, so it’s better for regular missions with lots of enemies to move around.
  • Colony: Develop a swarm – either keep it around you to inflict damage on enemies who are in an adjacent square at the beginning of their round, or send it out to damage and disorient an enemy. I usually end up with this one on my first Officer, and it works fairly well as a ranged attack/a*sistance, especially as disoriented enemies will provoke attack of opportunity from your allies. I imagine it’s quite good as a constant pa*sive effect for NCOs, though. There is a small caveat: on Seal Defense missions, the pa*sive effect can damage the seal.
  • Crusher: Gain a crab claw – +12 base melee damage, +2-8 damage, unable to use a speargun or perform attacks of opportunity. Again, NCOs only. You’ll be choosing between this one and the Abyssal Grasp. The main difference is that this skill can inflict ‘Rupture’ – a damage over time ailment – but means you can’t pin down enemies anymore. Bring it on boss missions when possible, since they tend to be stuck in place.
  • Dark Reflection: Creates a duplicate that will attack the closest enemy, using a weaker melee attack bonus and slowing the enemy’s movement by 40%. The description says “-30% melee attack bonus” – I honestly can’t tell you if that’s for the duplicate or you. It’s useful for helping out any diver stuck in melee, but it can’t pin enemies (it doesn’t get attack of opportunity) and will probably inflict less damage than a regular NCO. It’s not bad for a Science or Officer, and doesn’t exactly suck for an NCO.
  • Extra Limb: Extra item slot, +2 Strength. Get this on an NCO as fast as you can. (note: it does render Robust useless)
  • Gills: 15% chance to generate +3 for adjacent divers. I’ll be honest, this one’s never impressed me. I tried it, and the area of effect’s so small, and at best you get three extra turns, a*suming it triggers at all. Bring an oxygen tank.
  • Herald of Decay: Causes a nearby corpse to explode, inflicting damage on surrounding enemies. I gave this a go, and it turns out it will also inflict damage on surrounding allies as well. Given that corpses don’t really interfere with combat, this one’s a little too dangerous to be worth it, especially as it’s likely your NCO will be right next to that corpse he made.
  • Macabre Gluttony: Lets you eat corpses of your enemies. I’ve gotten this once or twice and, even though there isn’t exactly a huge variety of enemies, I rarely actually had the time to let a character dine freely, so to speak. I do remember the Fathomseer restores a huge chunk of sanity, though, and I think the others restore health. If it wasn’t an active ability with a not-insignificant cooldown, I’d probably heartily recommend it. As it stands, though, I suppose it’s not the worst.
  • Mind Over Matter: Greatly increases Damage Reduction at the cost of Sanity (every time you get hit, 20% less damage, lose 20%+2 sanity). Maybe worth chaining with Psychotic Strength, but everything inside me is screaming ‘NO’ at this. I’ve found it’s easier to deal with death than episodes of madness.
  • Psychotic Strength: +5% bonus to your base melee damage for every 5 sanity points below 50. First of all, NCOs love this. Secondly, do NOT put this on someone with Jolly. If at all possible, keep Jolly characters away from this one. Also, keep your Insight low in order to keep your sanity low. It turns out it doesn’t matter if your max sanity is, say, 44 – you still get a 5% bonus because that’s 6 points below 50. So that’s another reason to have an NCO take this mutation, since Insight isn’t a priority for them anyways.
  • Reality Mirror: Reflects 40% of damage taken onto attackers, even ranged ones. A good all-around mutation.
  • Resonance: Increases critical chance of skills by 50%. I’m not sure if that’s multiplicative or additive, but it’s pretty good for any character with attacking skills, especially Sciences since their main attacking skill (Darts) only has a one-turn cooldown.
  • Revenant: When you damage an enemy, 10% life steal – I played with this one, but it was near the end of a run, but I’m pretty sure it’s 10% of the damage you inflict comes back to heal you? I bet if you stick that with the Hull Buster chaingun or the Crusher, it can you make you functionally immortal. (UPDATE: I found out you can take it at least twice for 20% lifesteal. This implies you can get up to 50% lifesteal per attack (4 void-marrow mutations, one level mutation), which, while it will lock you out of every other mutation option, isn’t that bad all things considered. It’s certainly worth considering for an Officer)
  • Second Heart: Slowly regenerate a portion of damage taken (20%). It’s not bad, but I’d actually suggest sticking this on an Officer or Science, so they can get the most benefit. Additional damage taken does stack in the regeneration calculation, but NCOs honestly have so many decent options that this one kind of fades into the background.
  • Void-Touched:Restores action points after a bout of Madness, grants one additional point, decreases maximum sanity loss to -2. I’ve never been in a position to trigger this one, so I’ve no idea if the additional point is for just that round or the rest of the mission. Regardless, a mutation that rarely used probably isn’t worth the marrow. Maybe you’d benefit from sticking it on someone with Psychotic Strength and Mind over Matter, since their sanity levels will sink faster than the submarine did, but even then I don’t recommend letting your sanity drop that frequently if it can be avoided.

So, overall recommended mutations:
NCOs specifically: Abyssal Grasp/Crusher, Psychotic Strength, Extra Limb
General: Colony, Dark Reflection, Revenant, Second Heart
Update: I did decide to try chaining Crusher + Mind Over Matter + Void-Touched + Psychotic Strength (the fifth was Extra Limb, but anyways). I got three episodes of madness and a maximum of 31 sanity, but I also managed to get the achievement for 150+ damage in one blow. Might’ve been better if the NCO had been able to pick up Ruthless, though ultimately I ended up blowing a lot of evocation points to make sure the guy never hit a teammate. So maybe I’m too cautious but my end recommendation is: “unless you’re going for the achievement, don’t.”

Written by igrynkht

This is all we can share for Making the Most of Your Characters – Stirring Abyss for today. I hope you enjoy the guide! If you have anything to add to this guide or we forget something please let us know via comment! We check each comment! Don’t forget to check for MORE!

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