Summoner Battle Mechanics FAQ v1.00 =================================== 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) =================================== 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 - =================================== 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.