Summoner Battle Mechanics FAQ v1.00
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I. Table of contents

I. Table of contents
II. Author Statements
III. All Character Skills
IV. Magic Related Character Skills
V. Evasion Character Skills
VI. Weapon Skills
VII. Class Specific Skills
VIII. Aimed Attack and Status Effects
IX. Combat Skills and Character Balance
X. Chain Progression (how to learn chain attacks)
XI. Chain and Related Character Skills
XII. Backstab
XIII. Example of Skill Point Distribution
XIV. Examples of Derived Strategies
XV. Why Debasser? (SPOILERS)
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II. Author statements

A) The vast majority of the Summoner game is in a battle.  The purpose
of this FAQ is to explain things that effect battle mechanics to aid
in the individual player's development of more effective battle
tactics.

B) Skill point distribution makes a huge difference in how effective a
battle tactic is.  Instead of dictating skill distribution, this FAQ
gives you reasons WHY you should or should not put skill points into a
skill.  It further explores the effects and use of skills.  This
information will help prioritizing skill point distribution.

C) This FAQ is not intended as a 'cook-book' guide for skill point
distribution.  I will include some of my personal examples and try to
clearly distinguish between fact and personal style.  With this
information I hope that you can develop your own battle strategies.  I
hope that if you decide to use part of my style, then you will try and
figure out WHY I use it.

D) This is not specifically an entrance level FAQ.  I will TRY to
minimize the spoilers and the complexity of the subject manor,
allowing more people to use this resource.  However, in order to cover
battle mechanics in detail, I must sometimes use big words or more
complex phrases.  I will try to also include a more basic explanation
and/or examples to make you understand.  For more basic or quest
related information please consult your instruction manual or another
FAQ.

E) Note that there are three versions of this game: ps2 single player,
pc single player, and pc multi player.  Basic and quest related
material are the primary differences in these versions.  I will try to
make it obvious when there are differences in battle mechanics based
on game version.  This will allow ps2 and pc players of this game to
benefit from the common battle mechanics system, unique to the game
Summoner.  I apologize for any differences I unintentionally leave
out. (Some of the comments designated as single player are due to low
level concerns and hint possible low-level multi player strategies.)

F) I ask that you wait till after you read the entire FAQ to comment.
This is my first FAQ.  I would appreciate specifics in any feedback,
especially for all negative comments.


This entire document is (C) [March 8, 2006] [Kevin Hays]. All
trademarks are property of their respective owners. No section of this
guide can be used without my permission. This includes, but is not
limited to posting on your website, making links to my guide,
including parts of my guide in your own, or making reference to any
material contained within.

All the sites mentioned below have permission to do the above. Please
email me at [Griffenz007@yahoo.com] to enquire about gaining
permission to use this document.

[tkodarkshadow.tripod.com, www.gamefaqs.com]

- Thanks to Michael Sarich for this Copyright -


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III. All Character Skills

A) Skill acquisition  As characters gain levels they gain new skills,
differing in single player and multi player versions of the game.

B) Skill points (#/level) - It is highly unlikely to have a base level
of 10 in all skill points in the single player game.  Only 2 or 3
Skill points are gained for each level.  This makes skill point
selection critical.

1) Becoming levels 2-6 characters gain 2 points per level.
2) Becoming levels 7-19 characters gain 3 points per level.
3) Becoming levels 20-75 characters gain 2 points per level.
  
C) Skill points can be saved until better skills open up. This is very
important in skills that simply give access to spells or gear like:
fire, ice, energy, dark, holy, heal, appraise, picklock, and heavy
arms.  Skill levels can't be raised higher then the character level.
A level 5 character can't have a level 6 heal skill.  I recommend
saving points that do not give you a spell until later.  This gives
you the chance to change your mind for free.

Example:
In single player, Joseph gains access to the skills of parry at level
6, holy at level 7, heavy arms at level 8, and fire at level 9.

Here is how I plan ahead:  I need 6 points for fire at level 9.  This
means that levels 8 and 9 skill points are to be used toward fire.  I
need 2-3 points for heavy arms at level 8.  This means that most of
level 7 skill points will go toward heavy arms.  I will give 2 points
to holy.  That means that one of the level 6 skill points will have to
be saved.  I will save both of the level 5 skill points to give to
heal at level 6.

Here is how I place points for Joseph at levels 2-9 in the single
player game. (This +number is what you gain at each of these levels.)
Levels 2-4:  spent on only heal and dodge. (+2/level*3levels = +6
points)
Level 5:  are both saved for heal at level 6. (+2 points)
Level 6:  two to heal and one to dodge or parry with 1 left. (+2
points)
Level 7:  two to holy, 2 are leftover for heavy arms. (+3 points)
Level 8:  two to heavy arms, 3 leftover for fire. (+3 points)
Level 9:  six to fire and all points are spent. (+3 points)
Notice that at level 5 I saved two points, at level 6 I saved one
point, at level 7 I saved two points, and at level 8 I saved three
points.  Here are the spells I gain with Joseph at each level: 1-heal,
2-cure, 4-regenerate, 6-resurect, 7-bless and protection, 8- none, 9-
All fire spells except inferno.  Later I will explain why you never
need inferno.

Reasons behind this strategy
-Uses Dodge, healing, holy, and fire spells instead of sword skills to
do most of the killing.
-This prevents wasting skill points in sword skills and allows total
investment into blunt skills at a later time.
-Blunt weapons have the best one-handed weapons and in my opinion the
best weapon in the game.  The three blunt weapons I use in single
player are War Club (Heavy Arms 1), Flanged Mace (Heavy Arms 3), and
Debasser (Heavy Arms 6).

===================================

IV. Magic Related Character Skills

A) Spell strength  The level of the character that casts a spell
determines the strength of that spell.  All spells that target foes
receive penalties based on the foe.  These penalties adjust hit rate
and/or damage.

B) Spell skill levels  These levels only open up new spells at
predetermined times, differing on ps2 and pc versions of the game.
SKILL LEVEL DOES NOT INCREASE THE EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR SPELLS.

C) Damage spells  Damage spells use magic to reduce a foes HP.  The
damage spells are:  all fire spells, lightning, icicle, and blizzard.
Damage spells are divided into projectile, and area effect, and enemy
only groups, based on AI response and effective range concerns.
Enemies and characters can be immune to damage spells of a type and
all damage spells based on type resistances and magic resistances of
100% or more.

1) The area effect spells are Blizzard and Fire Wall.  Area effect
spells do not target anything in particular.  The enemy AI will only
attack you if they detect your presence by other means, due to the
fact that these spells neither target nor alert the attention of the
AI.

2) The projectile spells are:  Fire Arrow, Fire Ball, Meteor,
Lightning, and Icicle.  These spells are targeted upon the enemy,
causing the enemy AI to register the attack.

3) Inferno is the only enemy only skill in the game.  This skill emits
a weak amount of fire damage within a radius around the caster for the
overly expensive cost of 20 AP.  I can think of no way that this spell
can become as useful as any of the other fire spells.

D) Effect spells  All spells that do not lower a foes HP are effect
spells.  These are the only spells that work on targets with 100% or
greater magic resistance.  Some bosses are immune to some or all
status effects.  The effect spells are:  all dark spells, all holy
spells, all healing spells, all energy spells excluding lightning, Ice
Sleep, Freeze, and Ice Coffin.  I max healing spells with Joseph and
Rosalind.  Dark spells are discussed in the next section.

1) Ice effect spells  Ice effect spells all do the same thing with
different casting costs, accuracy, and limitations.  These spells
occupy an enemy, giving you number superiority.

a) Ice coffin skill would only be useful in emergencies if it didn't
have the high casting cost, casting delay, annoying effect, and
pathetic accuracy.  THE USE OF ICE COFFIN SCROLLS IS MORE EFFECTIVE
THEN THE SPELL.

b) The Ice coffin effect is much better on your party members then the
foes.  The foes receive no damage, but your party members do.

c) Ice Sleep has the best accuracy but when the foe takes any damage
the effect is removed.

d) Freeze has moderate accuracy but the effect does not wear out when
damage is taken.

2) Faith  All characters start with a base magic resistance of 2% per
character level.  Faith completely ignores all other sources of magic
resistance and is defined by the next statement.  If magic resistance
is less then (4%)*(casters level), then magic resistance
=(4%)*(casters level).

Example:  If a level 25 Joseph casts faith, then all party members
have at least 100% magic resistance.  (4%)*(25)= 100%

3) Protect  All characters start with a base protection of 1 per
character level.  The spell protection gives a base protection rating
of 5*(caster character level).  Equipment is then added to the base
protection rating to give the total protection rating.

4) Curse  A cursed character will receive more damages from both
magical and physical sources.  There is no 'detectable' change in
protection rating. The curse equation for magic resistance is (-
4%)*(caster level)+1%.

Example:  A level 25 Joseph casts curse on a foe, reducing its magic
resistance by 99%.  (-4%)*(25)+1% = -100%+1% = -99% added to the
monsters base magic resistance.

E) Magic Resistances (effect on spell damage)  All damage type spells
have 100% hit rate, within there effective range.  Magic resistance
reduces the damage of a spell.  Individual fire, ice, and energy
resistances further reduce that specific type of damage.  Magic
resistance does not simply add to an individual resistance to give the
total resistance to that spell type.  If a magic resistance or a
specific type resistance reaches 100%, then no damages are taken from
that type.

Example:  Assuming Joseph does 100 base damage with his fire arrow
spell.  He casts this spell at a monster with 50% magic resistance and
50% fire resistance.  Joseph's fire arrow spell will do 25 points of
damage.  The base damage is first reduced by 50%, with the magic
resistance, to 50 damage.  That damage is then further reduced by 50%,
with the fire resistance, to 25 damage.

1) Sources of magic resistance  There are several sources of magic
resistance.  Note that the holy spell Faith does not stack with magic
resistance, but the holy spell Curse does stack with magic resistance.
These are the status effects discussed in steps d and f above.

a) Character level - All things in the game of Summoner gain 2% magic
resistance per level.

b) Magic resistance SKILL  Your controllable characters can boost
their base magic resistance by 5% per point.  This skill has a maximum
point value of 10, but can be further increased with items that ADD TO
THE SKILL to greater then 10, with constant results.

c) Character screen magic resistance items  This does not refer to
the items that add to the skill of magic resistance.  There are items
that add 10% per point to all the resistances listed in your character
screen under resistances.  These specific physical and elemental
resistances are fire, ice, energy, magic, slashing, piercing, and
blunt.

d) Individual boost  Some monsters and bosses have individual boosts
to magic resistance and/or specific physical and/or elemental
resistances.

===================================

V. Evasion Character Skills

A) Evasion skills are skills that reduce the chances of getting hit.
These skills are Dodge, Parry, Dark status effect spells, Sneak, and
Hide.

B) Primary methods  Dodge and Parry are the primary methods of
evasion.  Primarily, the game's AI has only 2 foes lock onto a single
character.  This allows dodge and parry a chance to prevent physical
damage from both foes.

1) Dodge - Dodge has a chance of avoiding ONE attack from all
directions.  All other melee, still within melee range, will not be
avoided by the same dodge.  After dodging one attack you have to
recover before dodging another.  This skill has a maximum base level
of 10.  In my experience, dodge's effect is dependent upon the
monsters type and level you are facing.  I would say that in single
player dodge of greater then 10 does not have great benefit.  There
are several items that can boost dodge to or above 10.

2) Parry  Parry has a chance of using the character's weapon to
deflect incoming blows.  This skill ONLY affects the target that
character is facing.  This skill is required to be used before there
is a chance of the counter attack skill to activate.

3) Disabling primary evasion  There are several conditions that
affect the primary methods for evasion.  These conditions turn off
your characters ability to dodge and parry.

a) Battle mode  If a character is not in battle mode it can't dodge
or parry. (multi player is always in battle mode)

b) Movement  If a character is moving it can't dodge or parry.  If
they are hit while moving they may suffer from the slow status effect.
WARNING, in single player the AI automatically moves your characters
to 90-degree positions around the target.

c) Active skills  While a character casts a spell, trips, kicks,
pushes, sneaks, or hides they can't dodge or parry.

C) Stealth  Sneak and hide are by far the most difficult and least
reliable methods for evasion.  In the hands of an experience player,
they can be fun.  These skills rely upon moments of opportunity that
are rarely available.  These skills can be nearly replicated by the
experienced operation of the game controls.

D) Dark  Dark spells mostly work around the idea of evasion.
1) Blind reduces the hit rate of foe. (evades physical)
2) Silence prevents casting a spell. (evades spells)
3) Death instantly kills the foe. (You can't be hit by what is already
dead.)

4) Invisibility  I saved the best for last.  This spell does more
then what sneak and hide do at the cost of AP instead of skill points.
Death and Invisibility are like fine wine, they only get better with
level.  At lower levels they are hardly worth the cost you put into
them.
a) Invisibility decreases the range at which a foe can detect you.
b) Invisibility has a chance to reduce damage to ZERO.
c) Pre-level 50  Used to sneak up on foes, undetected with ranged
attacks, and to add protection versus strong foes.
d) Level 50 and on  Makes party member undetectable, unless it
attacks one of the RARE bosses that can detect through invisibility.
e) Note that knockdown resets detection.

===================================

VI. Weapon Skills

A) Goals of this section
1) Explain what weapon skills do
2) Classify weapons based on their damage types.
3) Discuss the pros and cons of each damage type.
4) Discuss the pros and cons of each weapon type.
5) Talk about Heavy Arms requirements.

B) Each weapon has a skill to improve the hit rate of that weapon and
required to equip the item.  I further add heavy arms to that category
based on its requirement to use many weapons and armors.

1) I recommend level 10 in only one weapon skill per character for
single player.
2) The choice of weapon type should be based on what you will be able
to find and the type of damage those weapons do.
3) Gear can compensate for poor skill choices and proper skill choices
can compensate for weaker gear.

C) Piercing type damage  This is the most common and weakest overall
damage type among weapons.  One-handed swords, daggers, and bows deal
this damage.

1) This is Fleces only option.
2) Backstab makes daggers deal more damage then any other weapon type
in the game.  This is only due to the skills ability to overcome the
most pathetic damage type in the game.
3) The enemies that look like the first boss in the game are exception
to the rule.  They are weakest to piercing and strongest versus blunt.
These enemies are so pathetic it doesn't matter.

D) Slashing type damage  This damage type is more available at later
points in the game.  The slashing weapons are two-handed swords and
axes.  While there is a world of difference between the pathetic
piercing damage and the titanic slashing damage, there is far less a
difference in slashing and blunt damage types.

E) Blunt type damage  Staves and blunt weapons are blunt type damage.
Only very weak enemies in the game are stronger to blunt then the
other two damage types.

F) Blunt - These weapon allows the use of the earth shaker chain
skill.  The best one-handed weapons are blunt, allowing the use of a
shield.  These weapons are among the fastest weapons.

G) Axes  These weapons are slashing type damage.  Axes tend to be
stronger but slower then most weapons.  No axe in the game is faster
then 0.83 speed.  Axes allow the use of Axe spin chain attack.

H) Sword  This weapon choice is ideal for learning how to play the
game.  Once you know how to get past the very early portions of the
game, this weapon choice is only for Flece.

1) I suggest using this for about 5-60 minutes and then make a new
file or reload for a blunt only Joseph.
2) As soon as you get the feel for how to kill and survive in the
game, this skill is crap.

I) Staves  These weapons are only for multiplayer.  There aren't many
good staves and the single player Rosalind AI is pathetic without a
bow.  Even in multi player this skill is a low priority.

J) Bows  this skill is always a low priority.  Using a bow only has a
high impact versus two bosses that you NEVER miss.  This is just
another thing to fool around with.

K) Heavy arms  This skill allows you to 'EQUIP' heavier armor and
weapons.

1) Casters never get this skill.
2) Heavy arms of 7 will equip the best armors in the game for Joseph
and Jekhar.
3) Heavy arms of 6 will equip all armors for Flece.
4) Heavy arms of greater then those numbers are only required to equip
a select few weapons.

L) Before you pick your weapon type, think about all the above and
what weapons you get throughout the game. (In doing this I find that,
in single player, Blunt is the best weapon type for Joseph and
Jekhar.)

===================================

VII. Class Specific Skills

A) These are skills that are only used by one character class.  These
skills are Summon, Access, Appraise, Pick Lock, and Backstab.

B) Joseph  Summon is a skill that speeds up getting summons.  In
single player you increase ring power at a faster rate.  In multi
player you gain summons at an earlier level.  YOU CAN GET ALL THE
SUMMONS IN THE GAME WITH LEVEL 1 SUMMON SKILL.

C) Rosalind  Assess skill is very helpful in making FAQ's and
learning resistances and such the first time you go through the game.
Once you know all the monsters attributes it becomes pointless.

D) Flece  Backstab I will talk about on its own later.  I excluded
Aimed attack from this section because I will talk about it later.  In
multi player all locks are picked and all items are identified.  For
single player it is required to invest many skill points into the
Appraise and Pick Lock skills if you don't want to miss out on items.

1) Item drops are locked with a random amount of Pick Lock skill,
ranging from 0-10.
a) The Shadow Gauntlets boost Pick Lock by 1.  The Thief's ring boosts
Pick Lock by 3 points.

2) Level 10 appraise is required to identify all quest items and the
strongest gear.
a) The Thief's Gauntlets boost Appraise by 1.

===================================

VIII. Aimed Attack and Status Effects

A) Flece is not the only character that can cause status effects with
physical attacks.  Flece is the only character with a skill that
increases the chance that these status effects are inflicted.

B) Once a status effect is inflicted, the same source can't inflict
again.  Further plus effects simply indicate that the status effect
time remaining has been reset.

C) The status effects from physical sources are:  slow, cripple, dark,
silence, and poison.

D) There are four causes of physical status effects.

1) Traps  This is in single player only.
2) Chain attacks  Flece and Joseph have physical status effect chain
attacks.
3) Movement  The fact that this causes slow is covered in the evasion
character skills section.
4) Poison Weapons  The one-handed Katar and two-handed Reaver Katana
have the added effect of adding the poison status effect.

===================================

IX. Combat Skills and Character Balance

A) In my opinion skill sets were designed in the attempt to make each
character class the same overall strength as the others.  Each
character was designed to be ideal to fulfill a certain role.  This is
how I interpret the vast differences in combat skills for the
character classes.

B) Critical Hit is only available to Jekhar and Rosalind.  Critical
Hit has a chance to make all physical damages twice as much.  The only
negative to this skill is that you kill things faster, making it take
more monsters to learn chain techniques.

C) Counter attack is available to everyone except Rosalind.  I find
counter attack annoying with the thief, due to conflicting with the
activation of skills like TRIP, KICK, and push.  Counter attack is a
very powerful attack, ignoring the enemies' parry and dodge abilities.

D) Aimed attack was discussed in the previous section.  Aimed attack
and kick help Flece with piercing immune enemies that death is not
effective against.

E) All character classes have the ability to knockdown the enemy.

1) Flece and Rosalind have the active skill trip.
2) Jekhar and Flece have chain attacks that add knockdown.
3) The Debasser is a blunt weapon that adds knockdown and can be
equipped by Joseph and/or Jekhar.
4) Some of Joseph's summons have knockdown chains.
5) Note that all active skills are also chain skills and are discussed
in the next two sections.

===================================

X. Chain Progression (how to learn chain attacks)

A) This section describes the order in which chains are learned.  Each
character has a maximum of 10 chain attacks.  There are four first-
generation; three second-generation; and three third-generation chain
attacks.  Using all original chains, except added blow, a certain
number of times will learn a second chain.  The use of the original
and the new chain both add to learn the third and final chain.  The
second chain learns faster then the original chain when learning the
final chain.

Example:  This example is for both Joseph and Flece.  Desperation
learns Stamina Burst.  Both Desperation and Stamina Burst learns
Silence.  Stamina Burst ALONE will learn Silence faster then
Desperation ALONE.  The fastest way to learn Silence is by using BOTH
Stamina Burst and Desperation.

B) Joseph
1) Added Blow -> None
2) Desperation -> Stamina Burst -> Silence
3) Confusion -> Revitalize -> Burning Hands
4) Push -> Mind Drain -> Life Leach

C) Flece
1) Added Blow -> None
2) Kick -> Mug -> Trip
3) Leg Swipe -> Arm Slice -> Blindness Stab
4) Desperation -> Stamina Burst -> Silence

D) Rosalind
1) Added Blow -> None
2) Shocking Grasp -> Burning Hands -> Icy Touch
3) Bless -> Revitalize -> Prayer
4) Confusion -> Stamina Burst -> Mind Drain

E) Jekhar
1) Added Blow -> None
2) Kick -> Axe Spin -> Earth Shaker
3) Mend -> Steel Skin -> Overpower
4) Desperation -> Sacrifice -> Life Leach

===================================

XI. Chain and Related Character Skills

A) The effects of chain attacks - The instruction manual calls the
combat system in this game a hybrid system.  This means that your
character's speed compared to the foe's speed sets up who hits first
and how many each gets before the next gets a hit in.  The only other
way to increase this number of hits you do per monster hit is to use
chain attacks.

B) The difficulty of chain attacks  When the character you control
initiates an attack there is an infinity sign above that players head.
(This symbol looks like a sideways 8) The time that this symbol
appears above your characters head is the window of opportunity.

1) During this time you can activate a chain attack by hitting the
chain attack button.
2) Each time you successfully do a chain attack the next one will have
a smaller window of opportunity.
3) The double attack skill increases the window of opportunity.
When the push chain or activated skill hits a target it increase the
window of opportunity.

C) Types of chain attacks  There are three types of chain attacks:
those that are also activated abilities, those that are spells, and
those that are standard chains.

1) Activated abilities chains are push, kick, and trip.  These chains
can also be activated outside of chain attack with the cost of AP.
Each of these skills have a base skill level from 1 to 10.  In single
player trip is the only cost effective activated chain skill.  Kick is
only useful if you do not have other party members to compensate for
certain foes.  That means kick can be a useful skill in multi player.

2) The spell chains are mend, stone skin, overpower, bless,
revitalize, and prayer.  These chains take longer to perform and have
different timing then all other chains.  These chains disable the
primary method of defense, leaving the character open to attack.
These chains should primarily be performed to gain access to new
chains or when another character distracts the foe.

3) Standard chains are all other chains.  Only two standard chains are
not totally explained by the game text.

a) Any weapon can be used to learn Axe-spin, but is only useable by
axe type weapons.  This attack hits enemy 360 degrees around Jekhar
and ignores all immunities.

b) Any weapon can be used to learn Earth-shaker, but is only useable
by blunt type weapons. (Axes are the only way to use axe-spin and are
therefore the fastest way to learn this skill.) Earth-shaker does no
damage but knockdowns all vulnerable monsters in a radius around
Jekhar.

===================================

XII. Backstab

A) The vast majority of all damages that Flece can do are piercing
damages.  The skill backstab is the most powerful attack in the game,
even though it has the damage type that most monsters in the game have
high resistance to.  That is the reason this skill is so important and
devastating.  If I could put more then 10 points into this skill I
would.

B) METHODS OF BACKSTABING  Flece must place her dagger directly
behind the back of the foe she intends to backstab.  This requires
something else to set up that condition.  Any one or even better all
of the following tricks can be used in combination with backstab to
kill in one hit.


1) Distraction  Another character can distract the enemy as Flece
positions herself for the attack.  This is the first available method
for backstab.

2) Knockdown effect  Chain attacks, activated abilities, summons, and
weapons can add the knockdown effect to the enemy.  This allows a
significant damage bonus, sorely needed to make one hit kills at early
stages of the game.

3) Sleep or Freeze spells may be used to hold the foe stationary while
Flece deals the fatal blow.  Rosalind and the Blue Imp are the only
characters that have these spells, noting that the blue imp sleep is
much less effective then Rosalind's sleep.

4) An undetected approach from behind likely leads to a one hit kill.
Sneak may be used to accomplish this.  Manual control of the character
to walk slower can approximate and increase the effective use of
sneak.  Invisibility can also be used, especially at higher levels.

5) When a caster is attacked during the casting process the damage is
increased significantly.  This may lead to a one-hit-kill.

C) Damage considerations  Backstab is physical piercing damage.  As
such it is subject to several damage modifiers.

1) ANGLE OF ATTACK  There is a 'sweet spot' directly behind the back
of the foe.  This does not always mean opposite of the way the foe is
looking.  Some foe shift slightly sideways in the way they stand,
leading to a shift in optimal backstab location.  A slight shift to
the left or right can have a modifier as large as 6X THE BACKSTAB
DAMAGE.
Your knife should be placed perpendicular to the plane of the target's
back.

2) DETECTION  Here are the reasons why a foe might not detect you:
knocked down, approached from behind, casting a spell, asleep, and
frozen.  Notice that these cover almost all of the ways to get a one
hit kill.  Casting a spell is only a temporary loss of detection.
This effect is identical to when a shark attacks, closing its eyes.

3) Weapon  the base damage of the weapon has a considerable effect on
backstab and all other damages that weapon does.

4) Backstab skill level  This should be obvious.  A level 1 backstab
is only slightly stronger then a normal attack.  MAX OUT BACKSTAB AND
USE AT LEAST ONE RING THAT GIVES BONUSE TO BACKSTAB.

5) Empowered status  This is huge.  An onslaught ring or AP boosting
ring are the only things better then a second ring of slaying.

6) Character level  While your character's level may affect damages,
the difference between your level and the monster level has a HUGE
effect on backstab and any other damage.

7) Height affects all physical damages by a percentage of the base
damage.  Backstab has a lot of other modifiers that add a larger
percentage to the base damage.

8) NEGATIVE ENEMY MODIFYERS

a) Monsters protection rating reduces the base damage your physical
attacks by a number. [this is most important early]

b) Monster type resistances, such as piercing in the case of backstab,
reduces the total damage of that type by a percentage. [This can make
backstab do nothing versus some foes.]

D) There are several issues that must be overcome, when using this
skill.

1) Piercing Immune  Use backstab on other targets in the group to
minimize the negative impact.

2) Detection  If ANY of your party members are detected, backstab
will then do considerably less damage.  All other damage modifiers
become all that much more important to kill the foe in one hit.

3) Knockdown Immune foes  There are only two ways to backstab these
foes, unless they are casters and then there are three.

a) Approach from behind slowly and backstab undetected or lure them
out with another target and then backstab them to death.
b) The lure method may take more then one backstab until all other
damage modifiers are increased to compensate for the lack of stealth.
c) Versus casters you may wait till the moment of the spell casting to
quickly get into position and backstab.

4) AP considerations  Backstab is a huge burden on the low AP thief
character.  Here are ways to help reduce the burden on the thief's AP.

a) Use of backstab to primarily gain upper hand.  Once you outnumber
the monsters you can use others to finish off the foes to share the AP
cost.
b) Target AP cost effective foes first to reduce the total AP required
to use to gain a numbers advantage.
c) Use other characters to occupy and add vulnerability to backstab.
ICE SLEEP AND FREEZE ARE PERFECT FOR THIS TASK!!!
d) Backstab also can be used to simply reduce the HP of some of the
targets such that a hit or two can kill with another character.

5) ITEMS - You may also use ITEMS that boost AP without increasing the
number of times it takes for backstab to kill the foes you are
fighting.

a) A small increase in max AP is NEVER worth having to use five extra
AP each time you kill with backstab.
b) With backstab in mind here are the items I would use with the thief
and when.  These items will help you kill faster with backstab.

1b) Non-backstab swords - These should be used when fighting piercing
immune foes or prior to cost effective use of backstab.
2b) Bows  these should only be used against two bosses in the game or
when wanting to just keep Flece out of the way.  Backstab makes these
absolutely useless for anything else.
3b) Strongest Available dagger  This weapon should be used any time
not already covered.
4b) Armour/leggings/gloves  This selection depends upon how many
points you are willing to spend into heavy arms.
5b) Heavy arms of 6 gives you access to all of the protective gear a
thief can use.  Any points beyond heavy arms 3 are due to specific
items you want to have access to.  I recommend at least 4 to use the
Spring-steel boots.
6b) Keep in mind that the protection spell ignores what gear you wear
and that all gear contributes less then the protection spell toward
the total protection.

7b) I like to use the Haramaki to boost speed and the Black Hand to
boost backstab.  Boots of stealth may be added to the list.  These
armors are selected based on offence and all are available at a heavy
arms level of 3 or less.  With this setup you can also use the Katar
and all her best daggers.
[ Assumption - This setup is under the idea that all piercing immune
foes will only be killed by other party members.]

8b) The amulet is mostly up to what you have.  Speed, HP/AP boost,
auto regenerate, or skill bonuses are all at your disposal.

9b) While using backstab, rings with a thief are basically set in
stone.  The only pre-effective-backstab rings give Hp boots.  This is
due to how easy it is to get AP boosting rings and rings of slaying.
Here are the ideal backstab combos for different parts of the game.

     -2 AP boosting rings.
     -2 rings of slaying.
     -1 ring of slaying and one AP boosting ring. [if having AP issues
or before getting second ring of slaying.]
     -1 ring of slaying and one onslaught ring.

10b) Pick Lock and Appraise considerations  You don't have to have
items that add to appraise and picklock on all of the time.  Switch to
those items whenever there is a need for those skills.

===================================

XIII. Example of Skill Point Distribution

A) This section will show proper skill point selection.  The next
section will tell how these choices of skill points make the party
better at killing.

B) These next four examples are from my most recent single player
game.  This is just prior to advancing the game to at specific point
in time.

1) Joseph
Level 20 (203,323exp)
Base HP=456 AP=58
Dodge = 7
Heal = 10
Parry = 9
Holy = 3
Heavy Arms = 6
Fire = 7
Blunt = 10
Dark = 2
Counter attack = 6
All other skills = 1

2) Flece
Level 20 (203,385exp)
Base HP=350 AP=48, After items HP=410
Pick Lock = 9
Dodge = 7
Sword Weapons = 10
Backstab = 10
Heavy Arms = 6
Appraise = 9
Trip = 4
All other skills are at original levels
Note that over the next three levels I will max out trip.

3) Rosalind
Level 20 (201,872exp)
Base HP=260 AP=59, After Items HP=290 AP=69
Heal = 10
Energy = 10
Magic Resist = 3 (don't remember putting points into)
Dark = 2
Fire = 7
Holy = 7
Ice = 7
Critical Hit = 9
All other skills are at original levels

4) Jekhar
Level 20 (204,537exp)
Base HP=608 AP=33
Dodge = 4
Heavy Arms = 6
Parry = 7
Blunt = 10
Counter Attack = 10
Critical Hit = 10
Heal = 4
All other skills at original levels

C) These next two examples are from the best area in the game to
increase the rate at which experience is gained.  Note that I will not
spend any more skill points until I further advance the story.  The
other two party members are still level 20.

1) Joseph
Level 27 (807,073exp), 5 extra skill points to distribute.
Base HP=512 AP=65, after items AP=75
Dodge = 7
Heal = 10
Parry = 10 (items +3)
Holy = 10
Heavy Arms = 7
Fire = 7
Blunt Weapons = 10
Dark = 2
Counter Attack = 6 (items +3)
All other skills are at one.

2) Flece
Level 27 (855,807exp), 6 extra skill points to distribute.
Base HP=392 AP=55, After my item choices can be HP=422 AP=65
Pick Lock = 9 (items can give +3 or +6)
Dodge = 7
Sword Weapons = 10
Backstab = 10 (After my item choices +3 or +6)
Heavy Arms = 7
Appraise = 9 (items can give +1)
Trip = 10
Dark = 2
All other skills are at original levels.

===================================

XIV. Examples of Derived Strategies

A) Here is the order of priorities when it comes to selecting skill
point distribution:  defense, magic offence, physical offence, and
activated abilities.
1) This means that at low levels I will concentrate on defense.
2) As my level increases magic and physical offence becomes more
dominate.
3) At a certain point in the game Backstab becomes the fastest means
killing almost all foes.  I have already explained how in my Backstab
section.

B) This portion is only for levels 2-9.  This is an example of how to
prioritize skills for Joseph in single player. (This +number is what
you gain at each of these levels.)

Levels 2-4:  spent on only Heal and Dodge. (+6 points)
Level 5:  are both saved for Heal at level 6. (+2 points)
Level 6:  two to Heal and one to Dodge or Parry with 1 left. (+2
points)
Level 7:  two to Holy, 2 are leftover for Heavy Arms. (+3 points)
Level 8:  two to Heavy Arms, 3 leftover for fire. (+3 points)
Level 9:  six to fire and all points are spent. (+3 points)

Note Number of skill points saved at each level.
Levels 2-4 none saved
Level 5 two points saved
Level 6 one point saved
Level 7 two points saved
Level 8 three points saved
Level 9 none saved

Note Spells Gained access to at each level.
Level 1:  Heal
Level 2:  Cure
Level 3:  none
Level 4:  Regenerate
Level 5:  none
Level 6:  Resurrect
Level 7:  Bless and Protection
Level 8:  none
Level 9:  Fire Arrow, Fire Ball, Meteor Storm, and Fire Wall.

C) This portion is for levels 10-20.  This is an example of how to
prioritize skills for Joseph in single player.

1) I suggest first boost blunt to 10, then Heavy Arms to 6, and then
finally do steps below.
2) After blunt is level 10 all other weapon skills are useless.

3) There are no negatives to boosting Healing to 10, Holy to 7, Dodge
to 7, and Parry to 10.  I recommend doing some of these skills like
show in examples in the last section.

4) When you have extra points, Heavy Arms of 7, Counter Attack around
5, and Dark to 2 is nice.

5) About 5 points spent on counter attack are useful at these levels.
Joseph is a hybrid character, being half caster half warrior.  This
skill is strictly a warrior skill and is more useful with a smaller
party.
a) A good rule of thumb is that Counter Attack should never be more
then half of what Parry is until Parry is a base of level 10.

6) Silence (Dark level 2) just gives you the option to deal with mages
in a different way and is only one skill point.  Mages can easily be
obliterated without silence, if you know how.

7) Faith (Holy level 7), at early stages of the game, is mostly a
boost to the effectiveness of Meteor Storm.  If Rosalind is about the
same level she can be used at early stages of the game to cast this
spell.  If Joseph is level 25 or more and Rosalind is only about 20,
then Joseph's Faith is to be used until Rosalind is at least level 25.

8) Heavy Arms of 7 is needed, depending on how far you are in the
storyline, for best armors.

D) This portion is for levels 20-75.  This is an example of how to
prioritize skills for Joseph primarily in single player.  Note that at
higher levels there is no difference between single player and multi
player.

1) Heavy Arms of 7 is needed for best armors.
2) Finish anything you haven't in the step above.
3) About level 20 or so Curse (level 10 Holy) starts to prove it is
worth the 20AP casting cost.  Consider leveling this one up.
     a) Combo  Freeze/distraction, Curse, and Fire spell.

4) In the upper 20s Death (level 10 Dark) starts to be worth the 20AP
casting cost, if you first curse foe.
     a) Combo  Sleep/Freeze/distraction, Curse, and Fire spell and/or
Death.

5) Once you are level 25 Faith (level 7 Holy) makes Magic Resist less
useful.

6) Here is the order in which you should max out the remaining skills,
based on usefulness.  The ones that are not listed are not useful at
all.

a) Summon (MULTI PLAYER ONLY) This skill reduces the required level to
get your summons.  The Wrath is GODLY-OVERPOWERED!!! in multi player.
This summon has a high level requirement in multi player, assuming a
Summon skill of level 1.
b) Counter Attack
c) Other Weapon if want option.
     -Single player  Summoner = blunt with some magic.
     -Multi player  Summoner = Magic and Summon with some sword.

d) Magic Resist
Prior to level 25 in multiplayer this skill is much more useful then
summons, if you are able to get the warding necklace from a foe like
the Jade Temple mages. That amulet gives 20% magic resistance.

e) Dodge
f) Double Attack
g) Bow Weapons
h) Push
i) Summon (SINGLE PLAYER ONLY) - Joseph can easily have all summons
with level 1 Summon skill in the low 20s.
     -All rings give you access to one summon just by having them.
     -The second level ring of darkness summon you get from a side
quest.
     -All other rings give you a level 2 summon at a ring power of
60,000.

===================================

XV. Why a Debasser? (SPOILERS)
A) My choice of a Debasser, for Joseph and Jekhar, is typical.  Here
are my reasons why.
1) Covered in the weapon section of this FAQ, blunt weapons have damage
type, speed, and one-handed features superior to any other weapon type.
2) Covered in the combat skills and character balance section, the
Debasser is shown as a means of knocking down the enemy.
3) Covered in the Backstab section, Backstab is shown to quickly kill
of enemies.  This means that your party will soon outnumber the
enemies.  As soon as you outnumber the enemies, you will win no matter
how much damage you do.  This makes the speed, knockdown effect, and
one-handed ability much bigger concerns then any minor damage bonus.
4) Covered in the chain and related skills section, Earth-shaker is the
best chain in the game.  This chain requires the use of a blunt weapon.
This chain knocks down all nearby enemies, not immune to knockdown.
5) Blunt weapons are one of the best weapon types to learn chains with,
due to their speed.  The more speed you have, the more chains you can
do.
6) You gain access to the best blunt weapons early in the game.  Joseph
has to level up to use blunt weapons, but you can buy a war club as
soon as you get to Lenele.  The Flanged Mace is from shops after
Khosani.  After the tower you can buy the Debasser and the Scutum
shield from a random desert battle shop, long before any comparable
swords.
7) As soon as you exit the tower you are in the best area in the game
to level up your party.  Joseph has one hand, making the Debasser
perfect again.