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Madeleine upgrades some of her armor/clothing for especially the Alchemickal Vest and Cloak for all classes and some nice thing for rogue classes. The best being female only. However, she does also get the best daggers like Caxton but also the Kunai Daggers as well.
Magick Archers fare the best from her shop upgrades except Caxton will have the better MBow
So basically, If you are a Strider/Ranger/Assassin who doesnt focus too much on Bow you can go Madeleine for the armor/clothing and the daggers..
If you're a female you should go for Madeleine, regardless for the armor.
All other classes and males should probably go with Caxton for the weapons. Though most of them can be found in the open world. Minus some of the expensive ones which cant be found til post game.
Madeleine's Armor sets can be found as well however it requires more degree of farming and more time wasting than farming for the one weapon you need from Caxton.
I,personally, always give it to Madeleine because I prefer her upgraded stock of items and early access to the Alchemickal Vest. But thats because I know where everything is by now and don't mind stopping by chests mid quest to find the item I want.
Forgeries will not work for the idol quests. You need to give them the real one. Just make a forgery for the shop discount.
I'm pretty sure you can use forgeries for at least caxton, if i remember correctly,on my first play through i gave him a forgery and still got the upgraded inventory he just says something like "oh i imagined it would be better quality" or something like that. Though I had a friend tell me he didnt get the upgraded inventory with Madeline using a forgery.