Mount&Blade
A Beginner's Guide

By Sheep-Goats

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

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Section 1 - Metainfo
 1.1 - About Mount&Blade (AIWQZI)
 1.2 - About this FAQ (QPVKLS)
 1.3 - Contacting Me (BJIEWO)

Section 2 - Basics
 2.1 - Controls (KKIXIW)
 2.2 - Common Character Types (EIRWSX)

Section 3 - Character and Army Development
 3.1 - The Character Creation Screen (LLKJNE)
 3.2 - Attributes (NNBWUW)
 3.3 - Weapon Proficiencies (LIIEXX)
 3.4 - Skills (PWPPOE)
 3.5 - Heroes (IWJCIS)
 3.6 - Equipment (YUEISB)
 3.7 - Making Money (CKSIWW)
 3.8 - Army Building (RREWOO)
 3.9 - Joining Factions (GNBMFJ)

Section 4 - A Walkthrough for Your First Game
 4.1 - The Walkthrough to Level 6 (6EKJFI)

Section 5 - Mods for Mount&Blade
 5.1 - Sources for Mods (UXUWIE)
 5.2 - Mods Out Now (HEIWPQ)

Section 6 - Troubleshooting Mount&Blade Problems
 6.1 - List of Common Problems and Fixes (VOIUPM)

Section 7 - Legal


==========
Section 1 - Metainfo
==========

*****1.1 - About Mount&Blade (AIWQZI)

Mount&Blade is a medieval combat simulator that has two really strong suits -
- firstly, good on-horse combat and secondly, massive and interesting battles.  
No other game gives the same kind of intensity and involvement in the battles 
you're involved in -- when you ride with your army against an opposing force 
of mixed infantry, missile troops, and heavy horse you really feel the impact 
of combat, risking your own neck to save your troops while seeking every 
possible advantage in terrain and tactics.  You may arrive on the battlefield 
with 20 troops and face a force in excess of 100 individual units, all of 
them on the battlefield, doing their best to take everything you own and it's 
your skill with a sword and the steadiness of your horse that will decide if 
you live or die.

Mount&Blade is also notable because it essentially has only two developers, 
who are a husband and wife who live in Turkey.  The game isn't fully released 
or implemented yet, but the combat engine is fully realized and combat is 
really the life blood of the game anyway.  While we wait for the official 
developers to build in a plot, several very adept modders are building (or 
have built) fully-fleshed worlds for us to explore while we slaughter 
peasants from horseback -- most notably a well made plotline (Storymod) and a 
Lord of the Rings spin-off in which your battles add into whether mankind 
triumphs or Mordor's orcs lay claim to Middle Earth (The Last Days mod).

Finally, how you win your battles and which factions you support is up to you 
in the vanilla game and in most mods.  Want to command your troops while they 
tear apart the enemy line?  You can.  Want to solo thirty dark knights?  You 
can.  Want to make your money as a roving merchant / bandit, owing no 
allegiance to anyone but your troops?  You can.  You can succeed in battle 
with any style of weapon -- lance, bow, sword, axe, or a big damn hammer so 
long as your approach is tactically sound and you and your army can handle 
your foes.

Mount&Blade's openness, immersive and intense combat, and myriad of 
interesting choices involving combat styles, faction choices, and various 
mods means that it offers immense replay value and a ton of fun.  You can 
download Mount&Blade from http://www.taleworlds.com/, but until you buy a 
serial code you'll be unable to play any character that makes it to level six 
or beyond -- enough for you to get a good feel for the game, but not enough 
to take out the toughest armies that you can find.  If you buy a serial now 
it will continue to work in all future versions and it will come at a 
discounted rate, which will increase as later and later versions come out 
(v0.751 costs 18 dollars to purchase, v1.0 will cost 30).

I bought the game and am glad I did, even some months after first playing it.


*****1.2 - About this FAQ (QPVKLS)

This is v1.0 of this FAQ, written 6-6-06.

There are resources for Mount&Blade players online, but most of what a 
beginner to Mount&Blade would need to know is scattered about and one 
generally has to dig through the official forums 
(http://forums.taleworlds.net/index.php) to find anything of value.  This FAQ 
seeks to make starting a character and building an army less of a hit-or-miss 
proposition for a new player, and to clear up some commonly asked questions 
about the long term value of several common styles of play.

v0.751 was the most up-to-date version of Mount&Blade available when I was 
making this FAQ and since Mount&Blade is a work in progress many things may 
change in the future -- particularly balance judgments I've made about which 
skills are worthwhile and which are not, and how combat goes and how it 
doesn't.  I can't promise that I'll be totally on the ball with updates for 
future versions, but I doubt the producers of the game will pull any total 
180s on me either.  But more importantly this is all the info I wanted when I 
started playing, so I just feel it'd be a boon to offer it in a concise 
format for others.

Oh, and those six character strings at the end of titles (like BJIEWO for the 
next section) are unique random garbles of letters meant to make the Ctrl+F 
feature of any internet browser work better.  To find a particular section 
just punch that string into your find feature (Ctrl+F) and you'll either find 
its entry in the Table of Contents or at the head of its section.  So, in 
summary, Ctrl+F.

This FAQ is, of course, copyrighted as per the date and author mentioned 
above.


*****1.3 - Contacting Me (BJIEWO)

Unfortunately, I have little to no desire to chat with anyone from the 
internet about my guide or even take contributions to it.  I posted it 
originally on gamefaqs.com, and if it appears on any other website it's 
because they got it from there, which is fine unless that site is directly 
charging for access to this information (yeah, right).

If you do want to talk to me so badly that you just can't stand it, I suppose 
you could come find me at the Something Awful forums, where I post under my 
internet pseudonym, Sheep-Goats.  It costs ten bucks to register a forum 
account there, and if you want to find out why go read the Wikipedia article 
about the forums there.  

Don't even think about contacting me for a serial to the game.  I'm not 
giving you mine, and I wouldn't tell you where to get a free one even if I 
knew.  Seriously.  I don't care what your excuse is.


==========
Section 2 - Basics
==========

*****2.1 - Controls (KKIXIW)

Mount&Blade has three main interaction modes.  Menus (which are point and 
click), the world map, and combat/in town.  The world map is an isometric 
interface (like Diablo II -- look down from heaven) and the combat/in town 
view is a 3rd person floating camera view (like in Tomb Raider) which can be 
switched to first person, even though nobody uses first person.  

*Menu Controls
99% of menu interaction is point and click.  You get to the menus by pressing 
the tab key while in town or on the world map.  Pressing tab while in combat 
initiates a retreat (if possible).  The only other thing you need to know is 
that if you hold Control and click something in your inventory it moves 
automatically to the merchant's (or your party member's) inventory, making 
buying/selling much easier.

Mousing over anything in your inventory will give info about it.  Clicking on 
skills in the character creation screen (the skill name itself, not the 
little plus off to the side which is used to spend a point and raise the 
skill) will give you a description of the skill.  There is currently no way 
to go back a screen during character creation -- hopefully this will be 
implemented soon as accidentally clicking on Start a New Character begins an 
irreversible five minute process.

You access your inventory, your character and party screens, and your quest 
log from the world map.  It has buttons labeled appropriately on the bottom.

*World Map Controls
Like Diablo II, most world map controls just involve clicking where you want 
your party to go.  If you mouse over anything visible on the world map you'll 
get info about it.  If you're not moving the game automatically pauses, so if 
you want time to pass while you sit still, you just hold the space bar down.

If you want to zoom in or out you can use your mouse wheel, or just move the 
pointer near the top or bottom edge of the screen.  To rotate the map move 
your mouse to the left or right edges of the screen.  To slide around and 
look at the map, first orient it by rotating it, then stop your horse by 
tapping space bar, then slide the map with the WSAD keys like you do to move 
your character.

Note that beginners always get a "Party has no food to eat" message on the 
world map.  To fix this you open your inventory (press Tab, then click on 
Inventory) and drop any food you might have into the "Food" box just below 
your weapon boxes.  Then your party can eat that kind of food.  Some food 
makes morale go up (meat, fish), though morale seems to have little effect on 
game play as of v0.751.  Bigger armies eat food faster, but food is pretty 
cheap.

A commonly asked question is "How do I speed up on the world map?"  Your map 
speed is basically determined by first finding the average speed of the 
troops in your party, then the speed of the slowest troop, and then taking 
the average of those two numbers -- meaning that if you have one guy on foot 
and everyone else mounted you'll really slow way down.  

There are penalties to your speed too.  Having lots of troops slows you down 
-- a wholly mounted army of 80 or so probably won't move faster than 7 or 8, 
whereas a wholly mounted army of 20 will go 9.5 without any trouble.  Another 
penalty is carrying too much stuff in your inventory.  If you carry one horse 
in your inventory for every five boxes of trade goods (about) you can reduce 
this penalty, but note that the horses themselves are trade goods and, as 
such, carrying too many horses can slow you down too.  Most people give three 
or four extra horses to one of their heroes and leave it at that.  Increasing 
your Pathfinding skill is the only other thing you can do to directly help 
your map speed -- your riding skill and the type of horse you're riding have 
nothing to do with it -- a courser will move at 10 if you're alone, as will a 
swaybacked saddle horse.  A horse is a horse as far as map speed goes.

*Combat/In-Town Controls
Mount&Blade is a WSAD game.  W moves you forward, A and D strafe, S moves 
backward while the mouse looks around.  You can jump with Space, and F is the 
"activate" key used for doors, treasure, mounting horses, and initiating 
conversations.  If you talk to the "Trainer" in the first town you start out 
in he'll lead you the rest of your basic controls, but I have my own 
descriptions below, too, of course.

Oh, and pressing tab lets you leave town instantly -- you don't have to run 
to a border and then press F to activate the border, though that's an option, 
too.

When in combat, you left click to swing your sword and right click (and hold) 
to block.  Rolling the mouse wheel up will change among the weapons you have 
equipped in your weapon slots in your inventory, rolling it down changes 
between shields, or switches to no-shield, which allows you to swing certain 
weapons (those specifically labeled "one/two handed," which means you can use 
them one handed OR two handed) faster -- though, of course, you can't use a 
shield while you have a pure "two handed" weapon equipped.  Blocking works 
slightly differently with or without a shield.  If you have a shield you can 
simply hold right-click and block time and time again from any frontal attack.  
If you don't, you have to wait for your enemy to begin his attack, then right 
click and hold to move your weapon into a good block position (which will 
vary depending on if he's chopping, slashing left or right, or stabbing).  
Projectiles cannot be blocked without a shield, and blocking two different 
kinds of attacks form two enemies at once (e.g.: a chop and a slash 
simultaneously) is impossible without a shield.

If you have a bow equipped, you click and hold to draw, mouse to aim, and 
then release the mouse button to shoot the arrow.  The shift key can zoom for 
you if you're trying to make a long shot.  Note that projectiles can hurt 
your friends in v0.751, but handheld weapons can't -- you can also suffer 
from friendly fire this way.  The targeting reticule gets smaller while you 
hold the mouse button, but as your character gets tired it will begin getting 
bigger again, so there's a certain rhythm to using the bow well.  With a 
crossbow you have to click to reload once between hold-and-release shots -- 
also note that apart from the smallest models, crossbows CANNOT be reloaded 
while on horseback.

To mount a horse that's standing around you get close, look at him, and press 
F.  To dismount, just look down at him and press F.

When you're on a horse the A and D keys turn the horse.  The W and S key 
effect acceleration instead of outright movement -- hold W to speed up for 
two or three seconds and you'll reach top speed, release W and your horse 
will gallop along -- use S as a brake if need be.  The most important thing 
to realize from horseback is that to make a tight turn you have to slow your 
horse down -- so if you're lancing and wheeling on enemies you'll have to 
combine S with A or D each time you want to turn around or else you'll make 
far too wide a turn to come around quickly.

The mouse effects where your character aims his attacks while on horseback, 
this include the elevation of attacks (toward head or toward feet) as well as 
the direction (toward one o'clock, toward five o'clock, etc).  Headshots tend 
to do quite a bit more damage than body shots, but headshots are only 
announced when done with a projectile weapon (where they also receive a 
special damage bonus that swung weapons do not) as the extra damage from a 
swung weapon's headshot is actually a result of typically lighter enemy armor 
in that area.  

Four more things need to be said about on-horse combat as it's the essence of 
Mount&Blade.  First, you control how you use your weapon by where you look 
before swinging.  Looking up before clicking readies an overhead chop, 
looking to the side readies a swipe on that side.  This means one generally 
looks off to the side a bit and readies an attack while riding down an 
opponent, then holds that attack for a while before releasing it.

Second, is "couched lance damage".  Couching a lance means tucking it under 
your armpit and holding it out while your horse runs toward someone.  To do 
this you don't click ANYTHING.  You have to get your horse at least trotting 
(at which point your character will drop his lance from a vertical position 
to a couched position), then you ride toward your opponent and look up/down 
to adjust how high your lance tip is while using A and D to adjust the 
left/right position of your lance.  You can only couch lance and lance-like 
weapons -- you can't couch swords and axes, of course.  Couched lances do 
triple the damage they would while stabbing, plus large bonuses based on 
horse speed.  This means that a couched lance is by far the most damaging 
attack in Mount&Blade, but also note that it's a slow-fire attack and 
obviously difficult to use on a horseman that's chasing you (or a horseman 
using a bow who's riding away).  Couched lances cannot be blocked, of course.  
Many beginners find couched lance damage is the way to go -- while I actually 
feel all types of weapons are good when you practice with them.  For the 
record, I prefer one-handed weapons with bow support myself, but there's no 
arguing that a couched lance can get you through some foes that a swinging 
weapon wouldn't have the power to hurt.

Third, I need to make mention of the old bump-n-grind.  Often times, when you 
ride down an infantry unit and have an attack ready, he'll simply block it 
and then you ride past without doing any damage.  If you ride a bit slower, 
though (with practice slowing down becomes unnecessary, but it's hard to time 
at first) you can clip him with your horse's chest which will hurt him 
slightly and drop his guard, and then take his head off with your trailing 
weapon in a quick 1-2 fashion.

Fourth, using a bow or throwing weapon from horseback results in huge 
penalties to accuracy.  To counter these stopping your horse helps a lot, and 
dismounting helps even more.  You need a high proficiency in Bow/Crossbow to 
tighten the reticule, keep this in mind as being on a horse will only 
exacerbate an already large reticule for new characters without much bow 
skill yet.  Having a high Horse Archery skill is also useful (even for thrown 
weapons), but you'll need five or six points there to appreciate the 
difference.  Also, you cannot fire a drawn bow too far to your right side 
while mounted.  This is not a bug -- try holding your arms like you were 
firing a bow (lock your left arm, you would if actually using a bow) while 
sitting and aiming to your right -- it's impossible for right-handed people 
to do it.  Circle counter-clockwise while on horse if you want to use your 
bow (so you can aim left instead of right), just like the Cherokee were 
famous for doing.  

Finally, once you build an army you can command them.  Pressing 1 will cause 
them to Hold Position at whatever point you stood when you pressed 1, a good 
way to put your archers on top of a hill.  Pressing 2 gets everyone to chase 
after you.  Pressing 3 commands a charge.  Pressing 4 tells everyone to mount 
up (though everyone who can is normally mounted at the start of the battle 
and will stay that way if possible), pressing 5 tells them to dismount 
(generally so you can steal their horse).  Pressing F1 through F4 before 
pressing 1 through 5 allows you to command your troops by type, e.g.: Archers, 
hold; Cavalry, charge.  But most Mount&Blade armies are homogenous (only 
archers or only cavalry, etc), so few players use the F1 through F4 keys that 
often.


*****2.2 - Common Character Types (EIRWSX)

This section will describe a few normal types of combat characters used in 
Mount&Blade, and give some info about what's important to those characters.  
In general, a character can be good at two different types of weapons, but 
not three.  Your character will have a proficiency score (ranging generally 
from 30 at start to 250 or so by level 25) for each weapon type -- this score 
has a gradual but very real effect on swing speed and damage.  Since you 
increase this score through use or through investing some bonus points you 
get at level-ups, trying to use three types of weapons all the time will 
limit your proficiency in each.  The rate at which proficiency grows is the 
same as the amount of damage done with each type of weapon and is unaffected 
by anything else -- headshots with a bow will increase proficiency faster 
(because they do more damage), but not "difficult" shots.  Couched lance 
damage will increase lance proficiency very quickly, stabbing with a lance 
will do so more slowly.

Weapon damage isn't just "Does it hit?  Okay, it then does X damage."  The 
damage is based on the speed of your weapon relative to your opponent AND the 
base damage it does.  This means it's quite possible for a fast, low damage 
weapon to do the same damage as a slow, high-damage weapon, even on a 
stationary opponent simply because it's moving faster.  Blunt and piercing 
weapons (20c means 20 cutting damage, 20b means 20 blunt damage, 20p means 20 
piercing -- if a weapon can do more than one type of damage the type of 
attack you ready with it will choose which base damage stat is used to 
calculate damage) go through armor better than cutting ones, and armor can 
totally negate your attack if it is weak.  Also, swinging a slow weapon at 
someone who's galloping away will result in NEGATIVE speed penalties, which 
makes absolute sense in real life -- you're simply not going to hit someone 
in the back with a sledgehammer while they gallop away, but if you catch them 
in the face while they're riding toward you they're in for a world of hurt.  
In short -- weapon speed is really important, not just damage.

All but one of the following character types are mounted.  The game is called 
Mount&Blade for a reason -- without a horse you have to have a very 
specialized character to not get turned into meat.  Your horse is generally 
the deadliest weapon in your arsenal, and your greatest defense, so buy a 
good one and stay on him as much as you can.  All of the following character 
types are fully valid, and at their apex they'll all kill enemies about as 
quickly and last about as long -- so it's really a choice of which character 
type sounds the most fun to you.

*One Handed Character
This character has several advantages.  He is the hardest to kill as his 
horse protects him against infantry through mobility, while his shield makes 
it hard for mounted opposition to hurt him even if they catch him.  He is an 
enemy archer's worst nightmare, and can act as a very good mobile defensive 
commander even if he never actually uses his weapon.  He also has a good 
selection of weapons at hand, and makes an excellent slaver as the best blunt 
weapons are one-handed.  The disadvantage is that he will have to pump 
damage-inducing skills to make up for the lower damage values of one-handed 
weapons.

A one-handed character will want a sturdy horse with a lot of armor -- the 
speed is important too, but being able to take shots is more important as his 
horse will be in the nitty gritty all the time.  The heavy charger is 
probably ideal.  For a weapon many people love the scimitar for its speed.  I 
personally like the bastard sword as it has a good balance of speed and 
damage, but also has a lot of reach for a one-hander.

If you want to be a pure commander who doesn't dirty his blade at all, you'll 
still want a one-handed weapon and a shield just for defense -- just don't 
invest too many points in combat skills.  I don't think being a pure 
commander would be as much fun as getting directly involved in combat, but 
I'm not every person, either.

*Two Handed Character
This character is the-gallop-through-a-herd-and-take-heads guy.  His two 
handed weapon is very capable of one-shot kills in rapid succession and it 
will generally have the reach to really give opposing mounted melee types 
hell with little risk to the two hander.  The enemy archer, especially 
mounted, is a nightmare, however.  All a two hander can hope for is a miss by 
the opponent; otherwise he'll get hit and stunned by the arrow, his charge 
amounting to a suicide run.  For this reason, many two handed characters 
switch off to a one-handed with a shield setup only when facing large numbers 
of enemy archers.  Learning the bump-and-grind maneuver (described toward the 
end of the controls section) is essential for this character as the slower 
swing speed and longer reach of two handers incites a lot of blocking from 
enemies.

A two handed character has the same wants in a horse as a one handed 
character.  Many two handers go with the Sword of War as it has good speed 
for a two hander without sacrificing too much damage, but some go all out 
with a shield-shattering battle axe or else choose a Bastard Sword as it can 
swap rapidly between one-handed and two-handed options if archers are present.  
My two handed characters seemed to do best with a Sword of War.

*The Archer-Commander
This character stays back while sending his troops out ahead of himself.  He 
is generally dismounted and rapidly firing arrows while issuing battle 
commands.  He'll then mount up and move to a new location.  I suppose you 
could pump his horse archery skill and remain mounted all the time, but 
generally Archer-Commanders would rather spend all those Agility/Horse 
Archery points on Charisma/Leadership.  Some points in Athletics for on-foot 
mobility help out immensely when enemy cavalry slips through your lines and 
heads for you.  Archery has the highest learning curve (you have to learn how 
to aim yourself as well as developing your character's bow proficiency) but 
many say it yields the fastest kill rate of any type of weapon.

A speedy horse is ideal but not terribly necessary.  The ideal bow is hands-
down the Bow of War, which has the highest damage of any bow, along with a 
Large Bag (or two) of Bodkin Arrows, which do the most damage of any arrow.  
Both of these items fire at the same rate as crap bows/arrows.  A lot of 
Power Draw also yields huge damage bonuses per shot.  Almost nobody uses 
crossbows as they're slow to reload and the good ones can't be used on horse.  
Non-mounted crossbow troops, however, are your deadliest allies -- if not 
your hardiest.

*The Lancer
This character relies on couched lance damage, as described toward the end of 
the controls section.  He is most able to take out enemies that should be far 
too dangerous for him, even with minimal troop support, but will do so slowly 
and carefully, one at a time.

As fast and maneuverable a horse as possible is the most important piece of 
equipment for a lancer -- this means a spirited courser, or a normal courser 
failing the money to buy a spirited one.  Also, his riding skill is by far 
his most important one.  Most lancers have a one handed weapon backup for 
when they're de-horsed (which happens occasionally due to a courser's low 
horse armor) plus a throwing weapon for utility.  As far as the lances 
themselves go, many go with a Great Lance as its large range makes for anti-
lance superiority and ease of aim, though a Jousting Lance does blunt damage 
making it a good slaving weapon with generally still enough punch to take 
down even enemy heavy horse in one good charge.  The double tipped lance is 
the only lance that can be used well on foot but its short range makes 
couched damage difficult to pull off.  The pike has good range and damage, 
but can't be used with a shield -- and since couched damage is so high anyway 
doing more damage is really not as important as not eating arrows all day 
long.

The lancer is not as good at protecting and controlling his army as the other 
troop types.  He can't kill quickly and couching requires a fairly erratic 
loop with your horse which means you can't bunch and lead a group of enemies 
with a lance like you could if you had a sword.  It's a go-it-alone style, 
but a very powerful one.  Because you begin the game without an army many 
beginners think the lancer is stronger than he is -- but later on how you act 
in a given battle has so terribly much to do with how many of your troops 
survive it, and for this reason the lance really isn't overpowered.  Finally, 
yes, the Powerstrike skill does increase couched lance damage, but most 
lancers find that increasing their agility and riding skills is much more 
important, even for doing damage, than anything else.

*A Throwing Character
Nobody actually uses this build.  Thrown weapons are good because they're 
projectiles, and, unlike a bow, they don't take two equipment slots (one for 
bow, one for arrow).  But they don't have enough shots to be really useful on 
their own, despite their large damage and with-shield abilities.  Having a 
stack of javelins ready as a lancer is very useful, though -- you have your 
lance for killing, your shield for protection, a one-hander for self defense 
if unhorsed, and javelins for chucking at run-away dip wads on horses who are 
difficult to catch and lance due to the relative-speed-equals-damage thing.  
You would be unable to use a bow in that setup as you wouldn't have an 
equipment slot for arrows.  Thrown weapons' other ace is that it's just 
immensely satisfying to chuck a javelin and see it stick in someone's head 
while they keel off their horse and die.  Or to just pelt river pirates in 
the skull with softball sized rocks.

Since throwing weapons are utility weapons you may find it better to carry 
throwing daggers (or even stones) as there are more of them in a stack -- 
jarid do the most damage but only come in seven or eight to a stack.  You 
generally use them to get an opposing mounted archer to draw his melee weapon 
/ shield and turn to attack you, not to kill with.


==========
Section 3 - Character and Army Development
==========

*****3.1 - The Character Creation Screen (LLKJNE)

I'm not going to go into too much detail and make a chart on this one.  For 
vanilla Mount&Blade you have four male and four female character types to 
choose between when starting out.  In general, the first choice on the list 
after choosing gender is the combat choice (squire / court lady), the second 
is the agility / archery choice (hunter), the third is the intelligent and 
commanderly choice (priest / nun) and the last is the charismatic leaderly 
choice (merchant).  Generally the priest / nun type is the least favorite as 
your heroes can cover the intelligence skills quite well while you go off to 
battle (see the "Heroes" section, 3.4, for more details).  

If all you want is a small, effective army (easy to maintain) and want to get 
in the mix yourself you're best off choosing a squire or court lady as they 
have the least number of "wasted" skill points already allocated.  The court 
lady also starts the game with a spirited courser -- the ultimate horse by 
many a Mount&Blade player's standards, and quite an expensive piece of 
equipment anyway.  The hunter type is fine for those who want to concentrate 
on archery (many players swear it's the most fun of anything in Mount&Blade).  
Merchants make the best leaders of large armies in the end, and start with 
more money and saleable goods than the other characters.  Most of my 
characters start with a squire or court lady, but that's due to the way I 
play the game.

If this is your first time with Mount&Blade, take a court lady and go buy a 
cheap lance ASAP (bent pitchfork).  After your first time through just take 
whichever character seems best for your eventual goals.

Most mods have an entirely different character creation screen (or series of 
screens).  Again, just think of which choice (or choices) seems most 
appropriate for your end goals and take that.


*****3.2 - Attributes (NNBWUW)

There are four attributes, descriptions below.  Each attribute has direct 
effects on your character's battle ability, but they also govern skills.  
This is explained in more detail in the Skills section, but basically you 
just need to know that skills cannot be higher than 1/3 of their governing 
attribute -- having three strength allows one Powerstrike, six allows two, 
nine allows three, etc.

*Strength - Having higher strength effects how much damage you do, but not by 
a huge margin.  Also, for every point you invest in strength your character 
gets one more free hit point.  Many weapons and pieces of armor require a 
certain amount of strength to use -- generally 12 strength is good enough to 
use anything you'd want, apart from the heaviest of Battle Axes which would 
require 14.  Also note that some strength skills have minimum necessary 
levels that are required to use certain weapons.  An example of this is the 
War Bow, which is pretty much indisputably the best bow.  It requires a Power 
Draw skill of four, which in turn requires having a strength rating of at 
least 12.  Therefore most strict archer types in Mount&Blade all still have 
at least 12 strength.

*Agility - This is many Mount&Blade player's favorite attribute.  Agility 
increases weapon swing speed, but not by a huge margin.  Also, for every 
point you spend on Agility you get 15 free Weapon Proficiency points to spend 
(see the Weapon Proficiency section, 3.3).  Agility governs some of the most 
useful skills, like Riding, Athletics, and Horse Archery.

*Intelligence - For each point you spend on intelligence you get one more 
skill point to spend on skills.  This means you could buy one intelligence 
and then raise two skills at each level instead of just one -- this is 
especially useful because there are nine skills governed by intelligence 
while only three or four by any other attribute.  Intelligence generally 
doesn't help you fight, but it does help you find/avoid enemies, keep friends 
alive during and after battles, and haul more loot.  Many characters don't 
invest heavily in Intelligence, though, as your heroes can cover those skills 
while you work on becoming a killing machine yourself, which in turn makes 
the game more fun.  Or so I think.  One particular intelligence skill, 
Inventory Management, is very inconvenient to have below a value of 2, 
therefore every Mount&Blade character of mine has at least 6 intelligence, 
but very few have more than that (because of the way I use heroes).

*Charisma - Two very important skills are governed by charisma, those being 
Leadership and Prisoner Management.  Investing extra points in charisma gets 
you no bonus perks like investing in the other attributes does.  However, 
without at least some Leadership skill you'll get mobbed in battles and find 
it hard to win later on, and without some Prisoner Management skill your best 
early-game income won't exist and you'll be unable to get one of your heroes 
in vanilla Mount&Blade and in many mods.  Most characters, then, should have 
at least 6 charisma in order to get at least two points in Prisoner 
Management and two points in leadership, which will let you have 21 guys in 
your army and control 10 prisoners, which is "enough" for most situations.  
If you want a large army charisma is the most important thing to raise as 
your character's Leadership skill is the only way to have more troops.


*****3.3 - Weapon Proficiencies (LIIEXX)

There are five types of weapons -- one handed, two handed, polearms, archery, 
crossbows, and throwing.  Your proficiency score for each governs how quickly 
and how powerfully your character uses any given type of weapon.  If you want 
to know what family a given weapon belongs to, just mouse over the weapon at 
the shop (or in your inventory) and it will tell you.

In general, you'll begin with weapon proficiencies of around 40.  Once you're 
"good" with a weapon that number will be at about 240, which will have you 
swinging your weapon maybe twice as fast and doing twice as much damage (the 
"twice" figure being a rough estimate by me, I don't have any hard numbers to 
back that up).  This generally happens with a fair amount of concentration by 
level 20 or so.

At each level up you get 15 points to spend on weapon proficiencies.  Note, 
however, that 15 points doesn't always buy you 15 more proficiency.  It will 
at first, but while going from 10 to 11 skill with one handed weapons will 
only cost you one of your proficiency skill up points, going from 219 to 220 
may cost something like five or six points, meaning you'll only be able to 
gain three more skill points for that level because proficiencies are harder 
to raise the better they get.  This means it's generally best to spend 
proficiency points in skills that you're not good at but want to be, instead 
of skills that you use all the time as those will get good on their own.  For 
me, this usually means spending points in archery while letting one-handed 
level on its own through damage -- but if you only use two handed weapons and 
nothing else, by all means spend all your points there.

Oh, and yes there are one-handed and two-handed polearms, but any polearm has 
nothing to do with your one or two handed proficiencies.  All polearms go by 
your polearm proficiency alone.  Likewise, bows only consult your archery 
proficiency while crossbows only consult your crossbow proficiency.  Whatever 
the game lists as a weapon's family is its sole governing proficiency.  
Raising one-handed proficiency won't make you better with a one-handed lance, 
as a lance is a polearm and therefore solely governed by your polearm 
proficiency.


*****3.4 - Skills (PWPPOE)

This section has detailed comments about how skills work, info on which are 
generally more useful than others, and notes about which characters want 
which skills.  After the skill descriptions there is a mini-FAQ with commonly 
asked skill questions, like "Do party skills stack?"

No skill can have a greater value than 1/3rd of its governing attribute.  This 
means that if you have six strength then you can have two Powerstrike, but 
until you get nine strength you can't invest any more skill points into 
Powerstrike.  You get one attribute point 
(Strength/Agility/Intelligence/Charisma) and one skill point to spend per 
level.  Also, no personal skill can ever go above 8, which means having more 
than 24 strength does little to help you fight as putting attribute points 
into strength beyond 24 won't allow you to raise Powerstrike or Power Draw 
any more than having it at 24 would -- it'd usually be better to start 
working on agility at that point to get Riding / Horse Archery / Athletics up.

The skill descriptions are followed by some codes.  The codes, in parenthesis, 
are the governing attribute and the type of skill it is.  There are three 
"types" of skills -- personal, party, and leader skills.  Leader skills are 
skills that you, as the de facto leader, must have -- raising your heroes' 
Leadership or Prisoner Management does NOTHING for your party.  Personal 
skills effect only the character that has them (with the exception of 
Training, which is a weird skill).  Party skills effect other people in the 
party.  

One thing to note about party skills is that they DO NOT stack.  If you have 
2 Surgery, and one of your heroes has 2 Surgery, your party doesn't have four 
Surgery, it has two.  Also, any party skill owned by a hero is reduced by one 
point before being applied -- meaning a hero needs three points of Surgery to 
do the same amount of good for the party as two points would for you.  This 
also means that if Marnid has a Surgery skill of one it does the party no 
good -- he'll have to get to two before it will start making an effect.  This 
is to give the player at least some incentive to invest in party skills 
himself instead of having his lackeys (heroes) do it -- even though most 
Mount&Blade players still go that route.  

*Iron Flesh - (STR/Personal) - Iron Flesh increases the amount of hit points 
you have by 2 for each point you spend here.  Many Mount&Blade players 
consider this a waste of points as heavy armor plus some of your party skills 
later on will generally keep your butt alive whereas two more hit points 
won't.  However, some people swear by at least five points in this skill.  I 
say it's garbage.

*Powerstrike - (STR/Personal) - Each point here increases damage by one 
handed, two handed and polearm weapons by 6 percent.  Get this to its max for 
your Strength attribute, but don't go out of your way pumping Strength just 
to get this higher.  You won't get one-hit kills without some finesse on your 
end ever anyway, so don't try too hard to do so.  And yes, Powerstrike does 
increase couched lance damage, as though we needed any more damage there.

*Power Throw - (STR/Personal) - Increases damage done by throwing weapons.  
Some weapons require a certain amount of skill in Power Throw before you can 
use them -- many people like jarids as their backup throwing weapon, and they 
require 1 skill in Power Throw.  The usefulness of this skill, however, is 
limited by the usefulness of throwing weapons -- bows are just better so long 
as you have the space for them in your inventory.

*Power Draw - (STR/Personal) - Increases bow damage by 10% per point spent, 
which is a very large bonus.  Also, the best bows require at least four Power 
Draw skill.  At least four points here is a perquisite for any serious archer, 
and more points may be useful due to the large damage bonus.  Having the 
Agility to level up Athletics or Riding or Horse Archery is also useful, 
though, so don't go overboard on the Power Draw.

*Weapon Master - (AGI/Personal) - There are certain breaks as to where you 
are or are not allowed to spend your weapon proficiency skill-up points.  If 
you don't have any Weapon Master skill, once a weapon proficiency gets to 60 
(through doing damage with that type of weapon or through spending 
proficiency points at level ups) you won't be able to invest level-up points 
any more -- but the skill will still level through damage.  This means you 
need a certain amount of Weapon Master to level skills at the beginning of 
your character's life, but later on you won't need it as, as mentioned in the 
Weapon Proficiencies section, it gets really hard to raise your weapon 
proficiencies with points later on.  Anyway, having four points in Weapon 
Master is about all you'll ever need, but having at least three is very 
useful for any character type.  This skill is never a priority, but having 
two points early on will help your character come along with hard to use 
weapons -- namely projectiles.

*Shield - (AGI/Personal) - Decreases the damage taken by your shield when it 
blocks an attack and increases the amount your guy can wave his shield around 
to block incoming stuff.  Shields can break in combat, and just because 
you're holding block doesn't mean you will block anything that comes at you -
- arrows will sometimes even come over the top of your shield and hit you in 
the face while you're blocking if fired from close range and your character 
is too slow to react.  Still, a point spent here is pretty much a point 
wasted.  The default shield ability is good enough and if your shield is 
breaking a lot you just need to buy a better shield.  It's not hard to find 
one with 600HP, which is enough for almost any battle, and you can buy 
shields with 800HP if you really want to.  A strong Mount&Blade character has 
maybe 60HP himself, to put those numbers in perspective.

*Athletics - (AGI/Personal) - Makes you run around on foot faster.  Doesn't 
effect map speed, only battle and town speeds.  Very useful for archers who 
dismount to fire, and any time you're off your horse.  Note that heavy armor 
drastically reduces your run speed, though, so if you want to be really quick 
you need to stick to lighter armors, too.  But to just not get mobbed having 
four or five points here is really helpful, or when trying to get out of the 
way of a charging horseman.

*Riding - (AGI/Personal) - Increases the speed and turning speed of your 
horse.  Also allows you to ride better horses, which have higher turning 
speeds and top speeds naturally anyway.  A very important skill for any 
combat character -- having the fastest, most maneuverable horse out there is 
immensely helpful.  Does not effect map speed.  Even the least riding-prone 
character will want 2 points here so they can get on the super-speedy courser 
-- 4 points lets you on one of the heavily armored horses like a warhorse or 
heavy charger.

*Horse Archery - (AGI/Personal) - Reduces accuracy penalties for shooting AND 
throwing things from horseback.  The penalty reduction is gradual, but very 
real, and especially noticeable when you stop your horse.  Having maybe five 
points here makes shooting from a stationary horse almost as accurate as 
shooting on foot.  Riding while firing will never be that accurate.

*Trainer - (INT/Personal) - If you invest points here you'll "train" troops 
in your army every day by giving them a certain amount of experience points -
- four for each trooper at Trainer level one.  You'll only train troops if 
they're at a lower level than you (all troop types have a level assigned to 
them, generally ranging from 2 to 20) and the bonus per day is tiny, making 
this a crappy skill to invest in.  This is, however, the only skill that 
exists that effects your party AND stacks between you and your heroes, but 
still, the bonuses are too small to really be worthwhile.  Better to 
concentrate on skills that will keep your good troops alive than build this 
skill to raise good troops faster.

*Tracking - (INT/Party) - If you have 0 tracking skill you'll never see 
tracks, which are little arrows drawn on the ground in the map screen.  
Higher tracking skill improves what info these tracks give you (level 1 - you 
can see them, level 2 - you know how old they are, level 3 - you know how old 
they are and how many people were in that army, etc) and lets you see older 
tracks.  Some missions involve hunting down a party that's left from a 
certain town and tracking might be useful for those, but in practice a high 
Spotting skill does more for you in more situations and if you're trying to 
follow really old tracks you're probably too far behind to catch your target 
anyway.

*Tactics - (INT/Party) - This one is hard to explain to someone who has never 
played Mount&Blade, so I'll pretend to explain it to someone who has played a 
bit -- if you don't understand what I'm talking about, come back and read 
this again later.  Tactics basically decreases the number of enemy troops you 
fight at once.  When you come across an army of 80 and engage them you 
generally won't fight them all at once.  Instead the game decides based on 
how many troops you have and how many the enemy has, plus which side has the 
higher tactical skill, how many of each side will be on the battlefield at 
once.  A high tactics skill will throw the in-battle ratio closer to your 
favor, meaning your troops are safer and you can kill a bit faster as there's 
less danger to worry about.  However, some people don't like Tactics as it 
can reduce the "massive battle" aspect of the game, forcing some enemy troops 
to stay back to pour on later, after you've offed a certain number of their 
comrades.  Tactics, then, is essentially an army-retention skill.  I 
typically have one of my heroes level it as high as possible -- the smaller 
your army the more important Tactics becomes.

*Pathfinding - (INT/Party) - Each point increases map speed by 3%.  There's 
really no other direct way to raise your map speed (apart from keeping an 
all-mounted army), so this skill is pretty important, despite the seemingly 
small bonus.  One of my heroes levels it as high as possible.

*Spotting - (INT/Party) - This skill increases the distance at which you see 
enemies.  Four or five points here are really good and fairly easy to get 
with one of your heroes, but you can get by with only one or two if you're 
being a skill point miser.

*Inventory Management - (INT/Personal) - This skill gives you more inventory 
slots to hold trade goods, extra horses, etc, by six slots per skill point.  
Two points here are necessary, in my view, as then you have a full screen of 
inventory slots without scrolling down.  More than that isn't really needed 
unless you plan to be a full-on merchant, when four points here would be 
enough.  This isn't a skill that's useful to level up with your heroes as 
they have their own separate inventories which are basically inaccessible in 
the trading screens.

*Wound Treatment - (INT/Party) - Each point here increases the speed at which 
you and your heroes regain hit points on the world map by 30%, and it also 
increases the speed at which inactive members of your army (injured but not 
dead ones) become active again.  In many versions of Mount&Blade, including 
the vanilla un-modded one, it also increases the speed at which a lame 
(injured) horse will return to a normal horse if you hold it in your 
inventory (takes a few days, though, still).  Four points is good, three is 
enough.

*Surgery - (INT/Party) - A very important skill, Surgery increases the 
likelihood that one of your troops downed in combat will be unconscious 
instead of dead.  Each point here, then, decreases troop death rates by 5%, 
which is a tremendous boon.  Level it as high as possible, generally by one 
of your heroes.

*First Aid - (INT/Party) - Not nearly as useful as Surgery, First Aid 
benefits mostly yourself and your heroes.  If you have a high Tactics skill 
many battles will get broken into several mini-battles and First Aid will 
allow you to regain 7% of the hit points you lose in each mini-battle before 
the next one begins, along with the same effect for all your heroes.  Meaning 
you, personally, can just keep on plugging away.  It also increases the rate 
at which wounded soldiers return to active service simply by giving them a 
head start in the healing process.  In practice, though, you either have the 
skills to take out an army of 140 or you don't -- First Aid will rarely save 
your ass.

*Prisoner Management - (CHA/Leader) - Each point here increases the number of 
prisoners you can haul by 5.  The easiest way to make money early on is by 
clubbing River Pirates and then selling them into slavery, but you have to 
haul them to town first, meaning you need at least 1 point here.  Also, once 
you've joined a faction you'll sometimes get a "capture six enemy knights so 
we can interrogate them" mission from the counts and barons.  It's a really 
lucrative mission, netting you maybe 4500 gold each time, and you need at 
least 2 Prisoner Management skill to do it.  So I'd say 2 points in Prisoner 
Management are a must for any party, while more than that is almost 
completely unnecessary.  Since this is a "Leader" skill only YOUR skill in it 
will contribute to your party's ability to tow prisoners -- don't bother 
using a hero to get this skill to 2.

*Leadership - (CHA/Leader) - Each point increases the max size of your party 
by five.  You start out being able to hire 10 soldiers maximum, so two points 
here lets you have an army of 20 plus yourself.  Heroes counts as one person 
in your party, so if you're playing vanilla Mount&Blade and have both Borcha 
and Marnid (the two heroes) then you can also have 18 more troops with two 
leadership.  Since the largest parties you run across will number between 100 
and 140, having at least 20 troops, plus a lot of Tactics, is kind of the 
minimum number of folks you can drag around without them all getting killed 
every time.  If you want a truly epic army, though, this will be your most 
important skill.  (In the old days of Mount&Blade your leadership skill also 
dictated the number of types of troops you could command -- meaning that for 
one group of knights plus one hero you'd need 2 points of Leadership, but 
that restriction was removed in v0.750.  Thank god.)  Like Prisoner 
Management, this is a Leader skill, so you're the only one who can allow more 
troops in your party -- your heroes can't help with that, and any points you 
put into Leadership with them will be wasted.

*Trade - (CHA/Personal) - Reduces the "trade penalty" by 10%, which seems to 
effect your profit margins on trades by about 5% per transaction.  Not really 
worth the investment in skill points in my opinion -- it'd be better to just 
make another trip.

Now the FAQ part, with some redundancy:

Q: Do party skills stack?
A: No!  As already stated only the HIGHEST skill level owned by you or one of 
your heroes is used for any party skill.  Heroes incur a -1 penalty to the 
effectiveness of their party skills for the party -- this effect is 
intentional, whether you like it or not.

Q: What about Tactics?  Does it stack?
A: Yes.  It's categorized as a personal skill probably just to allow it to 
stack.  It's still a pretty crappy skill, though.

Q: Does skill in Weapon Master make me better with weapons?
A: No.  It allows you to spend more weapon proficiency points there past 
certain break-limits, which can make you better with weapons over time, but 
has no direct effect on its own.

Q: Athletics doesn't speed me up at all!  
A: You're probably wearing heavy armor, which is canceling out your Athletics 
skill.  You'd be going even slower if you didn't have any Athletics.  Players 
who want to run around fast often find the Leather Jerkin to be the best 
armor for them.

Q: Does the Riding skill improve my map speed?
A: No.  A mounted character goes at the same speed on the map always, no 
matter what horse he rides or what his Riding skill.  The same goes for 
Athletics, it speeds you up in battle only.  If you think that's stupid, then, 
ok, glad you have your opinions.  But the effect your Athletics or Riding 
would have on your army's speed in real life would be very negligible.

Q: What's better, Wound Treatment, Surgery, or First Aid?
A: Short answer is Surgery.  The other two are more useful for heroes and 
yourself, while Surgery keeps your soldiers alive.  And since your troops are 
a bigger hassle to take care of and raise up than yourself or your heroes, 
Surgery reduces management headaches more than the other two skills.

Q: I keep getting killed.  What skills do I need?
A: Riding, Tactics and Leadership.  You need to reduce the number of units 
you have to fight at once and move out of danger faster.  And stop plunging 
into the heart of a horde, tear off the edges until there aren't any left.

Q: I want to slaughter more people!  What skills do I need?
A: You mostly need better equipment and more skill as a player.  But 
Powerstrike or Power Draw will help a bit.  And Riding would help out a lot.  
Give archery a shot, too.


*****3.5 - Heroes (IWJCIS)

I suppose if you've been reading this straight through you've already 
gathered what heroes are and how they function in Mount&Blade, but I'll 
explain that explicitly here.  They're a very important part of any 
functional and large army.

A hero is an immortal party member that, like yourself, only gets knocked 
unconscious in battle.  More importantly, though, heroes will level up and, 
at that point, earn skill points that you can spend as you please.  This 
means you can mold them to exactly what you want, and supply them with 
whatever equipment you want, unlike all the other cookie cutter troops 
available to you for hire.

To give a hero equipment, go to the Party screen from the World Map, click on 
the hero's name in the upper right, and then click on "Talk."  Tell him you 
want to trade, and then hand him the stuff -- note that you'll sell it to him, 
and that heroes usually don't have enough money to buy your stuff, but will 
still try to sell it back to you if you want it back later, so be careful 
with what you fork over.  A hero's horse never goes lame, either.  You can 
upgrade a hero's skills by clicking on the "Tell me about yourself" option 
once talking to him instead of the "Let's trade" option -- the game will 
notify you when they level up just like it does when you level up.

Heroes don't demand a salary like other army members, but they don't come 
with their own free equipment either.  If you want to make warriors out of 
your heroes the best option seems to be a two handed sword of war as the AI 
seems to do the best with it.  If you want them act as living distractions 
for the rest of your army, a one-handed setup with shield, or perhaps that 
plus a couple of throwing weapons, would be best.  They'll kill the most 
people if you put them on foot and hand them a crossbow, but then they'll 
slow your map speed down, too.  Good, heavy armor is the most important piece 
of equipment for them, along with a well armored horse (but only Borcha has 
the skill to ride difficult horses, so Marnid most likely will be on a Steppe 
Horse for most of his career).

Most people agree, however, that the best use for heroes is not to suit them 
for combat but to use them to boost your party skills.  Generally most 
versions of Mount&Blade have at least two heroes available for hire (plus a 
third in some mods, generally very late in the game) which is enough to cover 
all the useful Intelligence based skills while your character concentrates on 
becoming a badass.  They won't be much use in battle that way, but due to the 
fact that they run on AI they're not that strong in battle anyway.

Heroes are also very bad at following your orders.  There are two heroes in 
vanilla Mount&Blade -- Marnid and Borcha.  Borcha, especially, is bad at just 
galloping out and doing whatever he wants.  This increases his utility as an 
Intelligence skill party booster since his usefulness as a solider is 
diminished by him not following orders.

In vanilla Mount&Blade you can meet Marnid in the Happy Boar Tavern in Zendar.  
He'll tell you what you need to give him for him to join -- a set of padded 
cloth armor.  Any set, even a tattered one, will do, but it's not always for 
sale at the Zendar armor merchant -- sometimes you have to go to a few 
neighboring towns before you can find a set to buy.  It'll cost anywhere from 
70 to 140 bucks, so you'll probably have to slave a few river pirate parties 
before getting the money together to buy Marnid.  He starts with some healing 
skills, so he's the heal mule for many Mount&Blade players.

Borcha is being held prisoner in the castle in Rivacheg.  Go there and talk 
to him, then talk to the count (standing just outside of the cell...) and ask 
about the man in the cell.  The count will sell Borcha to you for 50 bucks, 
and once you're on the road he'll offer to join your party.  He'll do it once 
and you'll turn him down -- the second time you can "Set him free" at which 
point he joins your party.  Borcha starts with tracking skill and many people 
make him the hunter/guide.  Note that his level starts fairly high, so any 
Intelligence skills you need right off the bat should be developed by Marnid 
as Borcha won't level very fast until you catch up to him.

Generally I have one hero (Marnid) work on Surgery, Tactics, and Spotting; 
while the other (Borcha) works on Wound Treatment, Pathfinding, and Tracking.  
In that order of preference for those skills, at least at first.

Try looking for heroes in big towns in mods, and in whatever town you start 
out in.  Or digging through the forums for some help.  They're pretty 
important for the success of a party.


*****3.6 - Equipment (YUEISB)

The equipment you use will be based on your play style, and I made some 
suggestions on equipment in 2.2 - Common Character Types already.  This 
section presents some numbers and basic advice about equipment.

Generally, the speed rating of a weapon is between 50 and 90.  50 is almost 
unbearably slow.  Anything like 100 is quite fast.  Lances all couch at the 
same speed (which is determined by how fast your horse gets to trotting) so 
for lances speed isn't important if you plan to use them mostly in a couched 
fashion.  Which is how you should be using them.

Damage ranges from 7 to 42 or so.  Seven is horrible, and it will take up to 
five shots to take out even a river pirate.  42 is really rare and only had 
by heavy, slow swinging axes.  Anything around 35 is quite exceptionally 
damaging and will produce one-hit kills on most lightly armored troops 
without too much effort once you get your skills up a bit.  

Range will vary from 60 or so up to 214 for some of the longest lances.  
Anything around 100 is about arm's length again at the end of your fist and 
generally gives you plenty of error room with your horse.  You can use 
shorter weapons, but it'll take a little more skill, especially when trying a 
bump-and-grind.

Armor rating varies from 1 to 27 or so per piece.  If you can get up to 27 
you'll rarely take more than three damage at a time unless you take a bolt in 
the face while galloping or ride into a couched lance.  When on horse you get 
hit in the legs most often, so leg armor is quite important -- try to find 
body armor that adds to your legs as well.  You won't get hit in the head 
that often, but a one-hit kill from a lucky javelin is pretty annoying, so I 
consider a helmet to be just as important as body armor.  Gloves add directly 
to body armor, so buy them once you can afford them, but don't make them a 
priority as they're rather expensive.  Heavy armor won't slow down your horse 
much, if at all, so have at it if you're going to be mounted.

You'll eventually want a shield with about 600HP or so.  You'll find plenty 
of shields in your battles, though, so you generally don't need to buy one.  
The best shield has nearly 900HP.  A shield doesn't do anything unless you're 
holding right-click down, at which point your guy will wave his arm around to 
a certain degree to block incoming attacks.  If a bolt physically slips over 
your shield and into your face you will take damage as though you weren't 
blocking at all, but this is very rare.  Your shield doesn't automatically 
block your back, so if you're riding away you may want to spin on your horse 
to physically cover your own rear.

If you have any doubts as to which sword is better than another, go by the 
price.  There are some bargains, but generally the price is a fair indication 
of quality.  Anything that costs 800 or more will be a fair weapon.  The same 
is not true for armor to the same extent -- there are more bargains in the 
armor department -- but it's easy to pick out the right piece of armor for 
your character as the weight and defense are clearly listed and easy to 
compare.

If you start out without a horse, buy whatever you can afford in that 
department ASAP -- apart from a lame horse of any type, they'll just be too 
slow.  A good upgrade once you have a decent weapon is a Steppe Horse -- they 
take little skill to ride and are fairly sturdy and speedy.  Your next horse 
should be a courser or a heavy charger, depending on whether you want speed 
(lancer, archer) or survivability (one or two hander).  Coursers will get 
lamed and/or killed occasionally, so keep an extra in your inventory once you 
can afford to.


*****3.7 - Making Money (CKSIWW)

There are four main ways of making money in Mount&Blade.  I'll present them 
from least effective to most effective as follows:

*Slaving - Zendar has a slave merchant, as do the Salt Mines.  If you knock 
someone unconscious in battle you can take them as a prisoner and then sell 
them at the aforementioned locations for 20 bucks a pop.  A nobleman is worth 
as much as a river pirate to a slaver, so there's no reason to go for quality 
when you're trafficking in human flesh.  The best place to round up slaves is 
between those two trees about halfway to the ocean, near the river, from 
Zendar.  Just wait there, they'll come find you.  Generally I slave until I 
have about 1000 dinars at my disposal -- enough for a steppe horse and a good 
weapon, then I move up to banditry.

*Banditry - Or, more accurately, anti-banditry.  This involves hunting down 
groups of jerks and killing them, then selling their stuff.  This is much 
more lucrative if you can kill tougher opponents -- you'll make nothing 
trying this on river pirates.  Steppe Bandits are a pretty good balance 
between effort and reward -- watch out for Sea Raiders and Swadian 
Crossbowmen, they'll do a number on you with their projectiles and don't have 
much in the way of loot.  It's important to note that if you have a really 
large army your troops dip their grubby fingers into the loot pile before you 
get to, and if you "join" a battle in progress you only get your share, which 
is proportional to the size of your army vs. the size of the army you're 
helping.  To get the best loot you want to take down as big and as dangerous 
an opposing army as possible with as few troops on your side to help out.

*Trade - Buy low and sell high.  Any goods merchant will tell you what goods 
do this in his town.  A basic trade route would be 1) Khudan, sell ale, buy 
fur.  2) Suno, sell fur, buy oil.  3) Praven, buy ale.  3) Rivacheg, sell oil.  
Repeat.  While doing banditry along the way, of course.  If you don't have 
much capital a good trade route is 1) Wercheg, buy fish.  2) Uxkhal, sell 
fish, buy grain.  3) Tulga, sell grain.  4) Salt Mine, buy salt.  5) Zendar, 
sell salt.  Repeat.  If you draw a little map on a piece of paper and write 
in the towns in approximate locations, then draw some arrows and make some 
notes of the above it'll seem a lot less confusing than it may seem now.  
Give Borcha three or four extra horses if you're trading a lot, it'll cut 
down your lots-of-goods map speed penalty, and remember, Ctrl+Click to 
sell/buy quickly.

*Faction quests.  Sign up with any particular faction and you can then go to 
the castle in any given town and ask for missions.  You get a random mission.  
The supply weapons or armor or horses missions are fairly annoying, the 
deliver message ones are quite easy, but the real goldmines are "Capture a 
Nobleman," "Hunt down Raiders," and "Capture enemy troops".  Noblemen 
missions offer more experience than gold, but the other two are great for 
cash -- often in the 3000 to 4000 dinars range per mission.  It's worth it to 
save before asking for your mission, and then reload the game if you get one 
of the bad ones -- like "bring me 9 steppe horses".  If you save before 
loading you can just ask again and get a different random mission.  Try to do 
this in a town near the enemy border -- it'll save you a lot of riding time.


*****3.8 - Army Building (RREWOO)

Eventually, you'll want to start working on your army so you can have more 
freedom to do as you please (and so you can stop running from Dark Knights 
all the time).  When you start out, you basically have two options.

First is an all archery squad.  These guys will kill enemies very efficiently, 
but you'll have to ride around on your horse ahead of them and try to keep 
enemy cavalry from riding into their midst.  Or, you could stand behind them 
and concentrate on taking out enemy cavalry for them with your own bow.  The 
major drawback to this army is that they're too slow to catch a mounted party 
without a lead on them and some careful planning on your part on the world 
map.  Carry some mounted prisoners to help speed your party up a bit if going 
with all archers.  The favorite troop for this is a Swadian Crossbowman, as 
they're cheaper than Swadian Sharpshooters (the best available bow troop) but 
almost as effective.

Second is an all cavalry squad.  These guys will live the longest, but aren't 
actually terribly effective at killing opponents.  Dark knights are the best, 
but hard to get into your army as you have to capture them when some other 
enemy faction has enslaved them -- their gratitude being repaid in service to 
your cause.  Swadian Knights are much more heavily armored than their Vaegir 
cousins, and so do a better job of being meat shields, but are also more 
expensive to employ month-to-month.  The step-down from Knight is "man at 
arms" or "horseman" so obtain those types as well -- they're fairly easy to 
raise into knights.  Knights are way way up the promotion chain, so raising 
them from scratch is a real hassle -- it's better to capture them in my 
opinion.  Just hang out around the Vaegir / Swadian border and you'll find 
plenty of the opposing side to pick on, hopefully with plenty of your kind's 
prisoners along to join you after your victory.

Wages can get very costly.  One crossbowman wants 14 a month.  One Swadian 
knight wants 39 or so.  My army of 20 costs me about 750 bucks a week most 
weeks -- make sure you're using them if you have them, and remember that 
running risky missions for your country yields the most cash of any endeavor.


*****3.9 - Joining Factions (GNBMFJ)

At some point in your game you'll want to join a faction -- whether you're 
playing vanilla or some mod.  They offer a lot more cash, some more involved 
things to do, and are the only semi-valid source of plot in vanilla 
Mount&Blade.

The Swadians are better equipped and winning the war.  This means if you go 
in with the Vaegirs you'll end up with better loot from your kills -- but 
will have to work harder to get it.  Also, Swadian territory is larger than 
Vaegirs, so many missions will take you further from your homeland if playing 
for the Vaegirs than if playing for the Swadians.

If you sign up with the Swadian cause you'll find more Swadian knights to 
absorb into your ranks, making an all-cavalry army a bit easier to build.  
You'll also have an easier time trading as Suno and Praven are quite a ways 
into Swadian territory and there seem to be many more soldiers in the Curaw > 
Uxkhal > Suno corridor than elsewhere.  If you sign up with the Vaegirs cause 
you'll get better loot from your victories and the satisfaction of fighting 
for the underdogs.

Either side has its advantages, and you can always switch sides later by 
sneaking into an opposing town and paying reparations to the local count, so 
don't be afraid to sign on.


==========
Section 4 - A Walkthrough for Your First Game 
==========

*****4.1 - The Walkthrough to Level 6 (6EKJFI)

Pick a court lady or a squire as your character.  Make sure you have six 
intelligence and six charisma, and then get two points each in Inventory 
Management and Prisoner Management.  Try to get two points in Riding (raise 
your Agility to six if it's below that) then invest the rest of your skill 
points as you please -- Powerstrike or Riding are good choices.  Spend your 
weapon proficiency points in throwing.

You'll start out in Zendar.  First head over and talk to the guy standing by 
the horse stalls.  He'll ask you to go hunt down some river pirates to help 
the town out, say okay and he'll give you a shield.  Then talk to Ramun, the 
slaver, who's behind the guy who wanted you to get river pirates.  He'll 
explain about taking slaves.  Talk to him again and he'll ask if you have a 
blunt weapon -- say "No" and he'll give you his old, crappy club.  

Once you have these things, go talk to the Trainer -- he's all in white 
standing off from the weapons stall a ways.  He'll lead you through a 
tutorial on how to fight.  Once you've got the basics down, let's go get some 
river pirates and slave their butts.

The best place to find them is between the two trees that are seaward from 
Zendar along the river.  Wait there a while and you'll see them appear near 
the river, then go down and attack -- though they'll often see you while 
you're waiting there and come to get you.  Make sure your club is ready, and 
start riding them down.  When you first start out you'll tend to either tack 
too far from them with your horse or else plow straight into them, causing 
your horse to rear, which is no good.  You want to clip them and swing as you 
ride by -- slow down a little bit to make this easier.  Also, remember, when 
you turn your horse you also need to slow him down or else he'll turn way too 
wide.  You'll have to do about 40 damage to knock each of them out, and will 
probably do 10 or so damage per shot with your crappy club.

After you kill them you go to the loot screen.  Take anything that has a 
buying price of 20 or so, plus a hat for yourself if there's one that offers 
some protection.  The real prize here would be an 11b club as the one Ramun 
gave you is only 7b, but you usually won't get lucky enough to find one of 
those.  

Next is the Party screen.  Click on "River pirates" down on the left and then 
"Capture" them.  Congrats, you've just taken four or five prisoners!  That 
means eighty or a hundred bucks!  Stick around by the trees until you're full 
on prisoners (you can carry 10 max with your 2 prisoner management skill), 
then go back to Zendar and sell them off.

With your 200 bucks you can now safely go to Rivacheg and buy Borcha out of 
jail -- he's in the castle jail, mind you.  He'll join your party once you're 
on the way back to Zendar, but before you head to Zendar check out the Armor 
shop in Rivacheg -- if they're selling some cheap Padded Cloth (100 bucks or 
so) buy it -- Tattered Padded Cloth is ideal at only 70 or so, Reinforced 
Padded Cloth would be way too expensive to be worth it.  If they're not 
selling it, we'll check back in Zendar, and if Zendar isn't selling it you'll 
have to make a shopping trip out to Wercheg.  Anyway, stop by the Happy Boar 
in Zendar once you have padded cloth and give it to Marnid -- he'll join your 
party, too.  You now have two heroes on your side!  

Go slaving for a while.  When you can, buy Borcha and Marnid some cheap 
horses (try not to spend more than 100 on each horse for them right now -- 
another shopping trip to Rivacheg, Wercheg, or Tihr might be in order) and 
try to find some clubs for them so they don't kill any of those pirates you 
want to enslave.  At some point you'll gain a level, on the world map screen 
click the Character button to spend your points.  Getting more Strength might 
be necessary if you aren't around 12 yet to use better weapons.

Once you can afford to, buy a cheap polearm from the Zendar weapon merchant.  
The perfect one would be a heavy jousting lance as you could use that to 
knock out river pirates as well as tougher foes -- expect to spend about 200 
bucks here.  But just a plain old "spear" will do you well for banditry and 
kicking ass.  Then go practice couching river pirates, and maybe throw some 
rocks (or javelins if you bought some) at them for fun -- dismount or stop 
your horse first to get more accuracy with this.  You'll probably be at 
around level 3 or 4 by the time you have horses for your heroes, a decent 
lance for yourself, and have bought at least a steppe horse (200 bucks), 
though if you picked court lady you'd have started with a spirited courser, 
which is better than a steppe horse anyway.

Now you're ready to ride out for anti-banditry.  Try heading to Rivacheg and 
then beyond to Uxkhal and then Suno, or perhaps the Salt Mines.  Do a little 
trading if you feel like it, but once you see some Mountain or Steppe bandits 
on the plains go ahead and attack them.  This will be your first encounter 
with mounted enemy units -- you may have a hard time lancing them, so get out 
your club and club them if you have to.  If you let the enemy engage you in 
mountainous terrain it will be very difficult to keep your horse going fast 
enough to couch your lance, so try to draw them out to the plains.  You'll 
probably reach level five quite quickly.  

It's time to go sign on with an army!  Let's join the Swadians -- you can do 
that in Uxkhal or Suno, just go to the castle and ask.  Then ask for a 
mission -- if it's something you think you can do give it a try, if not, 
there's no penalty for mission failures or just ignoring them for weeks at a 
time.  Ride out and see if you can take down some enemy knights -- start with 
a smaller scouting party and try to re-capture some of their prisoners to 
join your side.  Become as much of a roving terror to the Vaegir cause as is 
possible!

Pretty soon you'll hit level six.  When you do, and then enter a town, your 
game will end and you'll get a message about buying the game.  Rather abrupt, 
but oh well.  Feel free to try getting to six again, this time relying on a 
small army and archery.  Or perhaps going the path of the two handed butcher.  
Or maybe even buying a serial key...


==========
Section 5 - Mods for Mount&Blade
==========

Because vanilla Mount&Blade has very little in the way of plot or things to 
do beyond marauding, most people who buy a serial key for it also play a mod.  
There's no reason to get a character to level 10 or so in vanilla when you 
could do it in a mod, so jump into a mod as soon as you can!  The best two 
are Storymod and The Last Days -- and Storymod starts out very similarly to 
vanilla, so it's a really good transitional mod.

To install a Mount&Blade mod you generally just double click the .exe you 
download from a mod site and it does the rest while you click next and okay.  
The next time you start Mount&Blade there'll be a drop-down box near the top 
-- you then choose the mod you want to play under.  The mods aren't like the 
ones for Morrowind or Oblivion, they're separate entities almost, not new 
features in the old world.  You can, however, extract one character from your 
vanilla Mount&Blade, then import him to a mod so that you don't have to start 
from scratch all the time.  But this isn't true for all mods.


*****5.1 - Sources for Mods (UXUWIE)

Most mod files and such are physically located at the Mount&Blade repository.  
Which is here: http://www.mbrepository.com.  Click on the "Large" option 
under "Mods" near the top of the page for most of the files described below.

If you want information about mods, visit the mod forum on the Taleworlds 
site.  It's located here: 
http://forums.taleworlds.net/index.php/board,9.0.html.  But I have brief 
descriptions of the major mod packs below.


*****5.2 - Mods Out Now (HEIWPQ)

*1066 - Attempts to recreate what life and battle was like in the year 1066 
in England, the date of some important dark-age wars and invasions that 
helped shape England to be what it is today.  Be sure you download the bug 
fix as well as the actual mod -- the current version has several really nasty 
errors, like that most food items weren't marked as food so you incessantly 
get the Party has no food! warning on the world map.  It's also a good idea 
turn sound effects off when playing this mod -- the user recorded his own 
battle cries and the like and they sound a bit too much like gay passion for 
one to take the game seriously with sound effects on.   Anyway, 1066 does 
have some really cool features -- you can sack and otherwise ravage towns on 
the map, or capture and then manage them.  

*Darkmod - Set in the Caldaria familiar from vanilla Mount&Blade, the undead 
have come to power and are pulling the usual ghoulish pranks.  You can fight 
against them, or even join their cause!  Also includes a number of visual 
improvements and other thoughtful bug fixes and the like.  Plus new weapons, 
of course!  Development is on hiatus, so it's a good one to play now as it's 
unlikely to go through many changes that soon.

*Onin No Ran - A feudal Japanese makeover that uses the Mount&Blade engine 
for battles.  It's set in what's basically Japan's historical Dark Age -- not 
much is known about the time apart from that the country was in civil war.  
This is still in the Alpha stage but seems to have a very strong backing of 
developers and just a huge world in general (60 towns vs. vanilla's 16).  
There's a lot of emphasis on historical accuracy.  Tons of bugs right now, 
but worth at least seeing -- a really ambitious project that I hope comes to 
fruition; it's worth a play right now as is.

*Storymod - Basically a graft of a plotline onto vanilla Mount&Blade, it also 
adds some new enemies, a new country, and a new faction you can join.  The 
plotline is hard to find sometimes, but look on the taleworlds.com forums for 
a little help in that department -- asking around Zendar will get things 
started.  This is a good mod to play right off the bat as it changes very 
little of the core of Mount&Blade, but offers something beyond endless bandit 
slaying.

*The Last Days - The most developed mod on the list, you play in a Lord of 
the Rings world, signing on with Mordor, Isengard, Rohan or Gondor and your 
effectiveness in battles helps determine whether you faction wanes and 
crumbles away from the world or if it rises to dominance.  There are tons of 
new troops and troop types, new weapons, lots of new heroes, quests and 
visual additions.  

The downside is that you have to download Mount&Blade v0.731 to play it as it 
won't function with v0.751 and is too large a mod to update for this newest 
Mount&Blade release.  v0.731 is still hosted at Taleworlds, but you have to 
manually copy this link into your browser: 
http://www.taleworlds.com/download/mountandblade_0731_setup.exe.  Note that 
all that's changed from the normal download location of v0.751 is the number 
in the http address.  When you install v0.731 make sure you do so in a 
different folder than v0.751 -- pay attention for your opportunity to do so 
during the installation process, just add 0731 to the directory name, or 
something along those lines, and point the mod pack to that directory in turn 
when you install that.


==========
Section 6 - Troubleshooting Mount&Blade Problems
===========

Minimum specs for Mount&Blade: Pentium 766MHz.  128MB RAM.  100MB free hard 
disk space.  Having a real soundcard and graphics card, even cheap ones, 
helps immensely as well.  "Integrated" sound cards especially don't play well 
with Mount&Blade.  

The most common problem is people reformatting their computer and losing 
their serial key.  Write that goddamn thing down and save it in a Word file 
or whatever.  Also keep the activation email Armagan sends you instead of 
junking it.  

The location on the forums for troubleshooting help is 
http://forums.taleworlds.net/index.php/board,6.0.html.  I've summarized some 
of the most common problems below.


*****6.1 - List of Common Problems and Fixes (VOIUPM)

1) I lost my serial key!!!  No, really.  I bought one and now it's gone.  Dog 
ate it.
If you bought it with Paypal, email Armagan, the primary developer, and he'll 
send a new serial key to your new email address (or your old one).  You'll 
have to provide some card info or something to demonstrate that you did 
actually buy the thing before.  admin@taleworlds.com.  Note that Armagan does 
NOT have that info if you didn't use Paypal to buy the game -- if you used a 
credit card you have to go whine to Esellerate, the company Taleworlds uses 
for credit card sales.  The place to do that is 
https://store2.esellerate.net/store/support/Default.aspx.

2) Graphics are all crazy and garbled!
Update your graphics driver, spud.  You do that by going to your 
manufacturers' website and searching for the model number of your card plus 
the word "driver."  Then follow their instructions.  If that doesn't fix it, 
you just have a crap graphics card or maybe need to update DirectX (see 
question 4).

3) Game tells me "Nothing will be rendered!"
Same fix as above.

4) I get "This application has failed to start because d3d9.dll was not 
found" as an error!
You need to install DirectX 9.  Search for "DirectX" at microsoft.com.  
Seriously, who doesn't have DX9 on their computer already these days?  In the 
distant future, installing DX10 will also fix this problem.

5) The game doesn't start at all!
You probably have some kind of interfering spyware.  Try Spybot or Adaware to 
remove most of it.  Use Google to find those programs.  Spybot is a better 
program, Adaware is easier to use.

6) The sound is all choppy and the game runs really slowly!
Buy a real sound card.  But, in the meantime, turn off hardware acceleration 
for sound for your integrated card.  You do that by clicking on the Start 
button, opening the "Run..." menu, typing in "dxdiag" (stands for Direct X 
Diagnosis) and hitting enter, then clicking on the "Sound" tab and moving a 
little slider all the way to the left.  You'll probably have to put that 
slider all the way back on the right after you're done playing to watch 
movies or listen to music on your PC again.

7) Game crashes to desktop all the time and I get some kind of "Assertion 
Error!"
This means you have a bad install.  Use the uninstall option in the 
Mount&Blade directory in your start menu.  Then go to your C:/Programs 
Files/Mount&Blade folder and manually delete that file.  This time, when 
reinstalling your game, actually turn off anything running in the background 
that you can.  If you grab your saves out of the aforementioned folder before 
deleting and then copy them back into the same location after the install you 
won't even lose any progress.  You have to save a character in the new 
install at some time to get that directory to appear in the first place, so 
it won't appear right after reinstalling the game.  So after your new install, 
start any random crap character, save him, delete him, and then exit the game 
and paste in your old save in the now-present directory.  Reinstalling really 
does fix this problem nearly 100% of the time, so it's worth the effort to do 
so.

8) Text is all garbled!
Go into your graphics card properties (it's in the Control Panel under 
"Speech, Sound, Audio Devices" -- use a right click to get to properties most 
easily) and set the "Performance" option to "Quality" instead.


==========
Section 7 - Legal
==========

If you want to host this FAQ on your site, or excerpts from it, just go right 
ahead.  I am not, however, giving permission for anyone to charge for access 
to this information, nor to publish it and then sell that publication in any 
way.  If you're with Prima (yeah, right) and you really think my guide is all 
hot shit, come find me and I'll probably let you do what you want -- just be 
nice enough to ask first.

A lot of my information is gleaned from elsewhere.  Much of it comes from the 
previously mentioned forums, but a lot of it is observations I've made in my 
own play.  In any case, I've not copied any forms or bodies of hard info from 
anywhere.  So if you think I stole something you wrote, I didn't.

I've used the names of a number of games other than Mount&Blade in this 
document, and mentioned some other trademarked or otherwise protected strings 
of characters.  If you're a legal eagle, don't take my mentions of those 
things as indicative of any kind of ownership or affront.  Obviously, the 
respective companies retain their rights to their respective trademarks and 
terms.

This FAQ is, of course copyrighted.  By me.  Sheep-Goats.  As of 6-6-06.  

Thanks for reading, folks.