Drakensang: The River of Time
FAQ by jimbo1950
Version 1.0, Last Updated 2011-03-17Liked this FAQ? Click here to recommend this item to other users.
Table of Contents
Drakensang River of Time
Hints and Tips
(c) 2011, Jim Gagne
I. Overall impressions
Drakensang River of Time (RoT) is quite similar to the previous Drakensang PC game, The Dark Eye (TDE). The game interface and most of its mechanics are almost but not completely identical. The differences matter.
RoT graphics are much nicer than in TDE. Online reviews elsewhere on the web say River of Time has been out since early 2010 in several European versions, so most of the bugs are gone. The game was universally highly rated (8-9 out of 10), and that seems right. I've found myself enjoying it tremendously and would give it 8-9 on a 0-10 scale. Like TDE, it's a relatively simple game with a straightforward plot. You can join the Thieve's Guild, but completing their quests only gives you some experience points (called "Adventure Points"; more below). Otherwise there are no guilds, and there's no attempt to create a world where decisions change what happens. But it's more than just a dungeon crawler.In this overview, I'll provide hints on how to get started in the game and tips on winning your battles. Mastering the user interface is a particular challenge, since no manual came with the version I bought. I include some minor spoilers at the end, but this is not a walkthrough.
II. Where's the manual?
I downloaded RoT from Amazon.com, and it has no manual at all. Half of playing RoT is figuring out the user interface, which is hard to understand until you get used to it. Because the mechanics of RoT are so similar to TDE, the TDE manual works well to understand how to play it. You can readily find a downloadable TDE manual online, and if you're struggling, read up on FAQs and hints for TDE.
Here are some interface hints:
1. What everyone else calls "experience points" have two names in RoT. You gain a few "Adventure Points" with each monster killed and many more when you complete a milestone in a quest. "Adventure points" are permanent but don't accomplish much. What you actually use to increase skills are "Leveling points," which are the Adventure points you've not yet used to increase skills. For example, let's say I've earned 1000 Adventure points so far in the game and used them all up on skills. Because I've used them up, my Leveling points are zero. When I earn another 100 Adventure points, that number is now 1100, and I just got 100 Leveling points to spend on skills.
2. You can spend leveling points to increase skills at any time, even during combat. NONE OF THE CHANGES IN SKILLS ACTUALLY OCCURS until you check the "accept" checkmark button in the top left of the skills window. Some skills you have to buy from a trainer. Those cost both gold and Leveling points.
3. There are dozens of different skills, and each character type begins with a different set. By and large, you can learn every skill during the course of the game and then gradually build the skill with leveling points as you need it. Some skills are hard to find or are available only later in the game. Magic spells work almost the same as skills. There are a few differences in skills available to the three races (dwarf, elven, and human), and pure rogues and warriors can never use magic. It took me a while to realize that skills marked with "---" haven't been learned yet, whereas a skill with any number means you know it to some degree. At first I wanted my character to start with the highest skill numbers possible, but it turns out the first few skill upgrades require VERY few leveling points. So, with one exception, it doesn't matter how low you start out at, so long as it's a number, and you have enough skill with your starter weapon to get through the first few encounters. Skills vary in how expensive they are to increase and cost more leveling points the higher your level in that skill. Here's the exception: the level of a skill when you start the game (the "Base Value") determines how high you can raise the skill level. The maximum skill level is Base Value plus Character Level plus 3; it increases as your character levels.
4. Some of the skills are unique to this gaming universe. There are a bunch of social skills like Street Smart, Human Nature, Etiquette, etc., that can give you dialogue options with important NPCs that are otherwise unavailable. Another series of skills (Perception, Survival, and Dwarfnose for finding hidden doors) helps you find stuff outdoors or in dungeons. Haggling improves prices for buying and selling. RoT uses the highest skill level of ANY of the characters in your group, so use leveling points to increase the skill level of only ONE character for each of these secondary skills. Your NPCs start out with high initial values in some of these skills.
5. New-character creation is better in River of Time than the earlier game, but there are the usual hidden gotchas typical for this series. Arrows just to either side of the mannikin don't rotate the model as you'd expect but change character "archetypes". I recommend using the "expert" mode to fine-tune the character to your liking, once you've selected your archetype and character name. You can [escape] in and out of expert mode to get a better look at the specifics for each character type. You should probably hit the "leveling points reset" button (top left, looks like a yin-and-yang symbol) to zero out skill points and then build them up as you desire. Warning: this button minimizes BOTH "leveling points" (skill points) and the attributes themselves, so don't forget to fully deploy ALL of these points before you begin, or your character will be crippled. (The game warns if you've forgotten.) A nifty feature is being able to select multiple advantages and disadvantages (four bars on the bottom left). Disadvantages give you more leveling points to play with. Some of the advantages are available nowhere else, like rapid regeneration of stamina or "astral energy" (magic power). Good ones cost a lot of points.
I'm playing as a dwarf "geode" character, a fighter-mage who is quite interesting.
6. Not much happens when you go up a level. (Leveling depends upon your Adventure points, which so far as I can tell is the only thing Adventure points accomplish.) You don't gain hit points or "Astral Energy" (mana). The main change is to increase the maximum levels you can attain in each skill. Still, this is very helpful.
7. You can use leveling points to increase attributes like Strength and Constitution, but the number of points needed is about ten times the cost to increase a skill. It's best to focus on skills, especially early in the game. Limit attribute increases to those necessary to obtain a special combat skill. You'll find some nifty attribute-raising spells and equipment during the course of the game.
8. The game interface is often inconsistent. For example, you'll find several types of tools that enhance specific activities like lockpicking, pickpocketing, blacksmithing, picking herbs, etc. But each tool is different. To use a lockpick, put it in your quickbar, click on it, and then click on the lock to be opened. Ditto with the tool for picking herbs, but the Master Key (improves lock picking) simply needs to be in your inventory. How to tell? If you can equip it, that's how you must use it.
9. It's almost impossible to pick a lock without a tool (hairpin, lockpick, or lockpicking knife) because otherwise you get a huge penalty. If you fail, there's a six-second penalty period before you can try again. I always do a quick-save (F5) before attempting to disarm traps, pick a lock, etc. If I fail, I just hit quick-load (F9) and try again.
10. After the first major area, a NPC rogue character joins the group. He sports a nonmagical but magic-like series of skills tied to favors from Phex, the god of thieving. The in-game explanations for how this system works are gobbledegook, and I had to go to forum.dtp-entertainment.com to find out what the skills actually do. Rather than Astral Energy, each rogue skill belongs to one of four groups. Once you've used a skill in that group, it becomes unavailable for a while until it refills. These skills don't use Astral energy and aren't blocked by metal armor. They can really make a difference during a fight, so use them often.
11. The "Fast Travel" system offers instant teleport but has a nonintuitive interface. It does NOT require a plot event to turn on and is available from the start. When you're in a Fast Travel-enabled area of the map, the name of the area comes up in yellow on the top of the screen along with the Fast Travel logo (four inward-pointing yellow arrows). Click on the area name, and it brings up the local map. Click on any of the Fast Travel logos, and you're instantly teleported there. Nifty. It only works within a local area, and then only on the larger maps.
12. Occasionally the game says something like an area is "interesting," or you see an animation of sparks coming out of the ground. Search these areas: they have great weapons or armor, and in one spot I got an important magic spell.
III. CAUTION: RoT doesn't use D&D rules
Because both RoT and TDE are based on "The Dark Eye" tabletop RPG, they have markedly different rules from the D&D-like games we usually play. It's helpful to review some of the online summaries of the paper-and-pencil game. The German site forum.dtp-entertainment.com has lots of nice information about both games, and it's not hard to find the English-language sections. There's a detailed FAQ about the mechanics of the tabletop game and how it compares with the Drakensang computer games here: http://forum.dtp-entertainment.com/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=12047
Here are a few of the differences between TDE and the usual D&D approach:
1. There are no "super-weapons" or spells that kill everything. Your characters will be weaker than many of the enemies you face. On the other hand, assuming you're properly equipped, very few enemies hit that hard. You're apt to do 20-50 hit points of damage per combat round, so with time you can wear down even 500 hit point monsters. They may do about the same amount of damage to you each round, so watch your healing.
2. In addition to the usual loss of hit points during combat, Drakensang has a unique system of "wounds" that dramatically impair combat effectiveness. The "willpower" skill is vital to prevent getting wounded. Later in the game you'll learn combat skills that inflict wounds, and you can find wounding weapons. Wounds weaken monsters to minimize the damage they inflict and make them easier to defeat.
3. Attack magic is weak and rarely does more damage than a single weapons hit. But magic buffs (for your side) and spells to lower attributes (for the enemy) work well. Creature summons are great and can absorb a lot of damage. Some summons are especially effective.
4. Your player character should be a fighter or fighter-mage or you'll get creamed. But once you form your party, having at least one magic-user is essential.
5. The usual RPG AoE ("area of effect") spells like Fireball are useful only as a way to start combat. Once combat has begun, they take so long to cast (3 combat rounds) that the enemies are all over you before you can get them off, and you wind up bombing your own group. You are NOT protected from this kind of friendly fire. In TDE, you couldn't get close enough to a group of enemies to cast Fireball without triggering combat, making the spells useless. But in RoT you can start casting the Fireball spell BEFORE triggering combat mode -- enemies are alerted and combat begins only when it goes off. It does a lot of damage to several enemies. It's also useful while fighting especially large monsters, even in the middle of combat, because the monster is so big the spell doesn't affect even close-in party members.
6. Special weapons skills are extremely powerful, and there are several highly effective potions. It's VITAL that every one of your party use a bow, because you can do a lot of damage to enemies from afar, often killing them, before they can even reach you.
7. Combatants can "parry" only one or two attacks per combat round, so anyone mobbed by multiple attackers is at risk. For example, getting ambushed by a dozen weak enemies can be very challenging. Always have all your fighters attack ONE enemy at a time to avoid getting most attacks parried. No one can parry attacks from behind -- so watch your back but attack theirs. That said, good armor mitigates much or all of this damage.
8. Armor doesn't reduce the chance of getting hit; it only diminishes the amount of damage you receive. Still, good armor works extremely well.
9. Nobody cares if you smash barrels or pick locks right under their noses. Pickpocketing is especially effective. Nothing happens if you fail.
10. Hints for every RPG say you should talk to "everybody": every NPC you encounter on the street. Most NPCs are generic, like a "villager" or "elf." It's rare to find a generic NPC who has anything interesting to say. But definitely talk to every named character you encounter.
MINOR SPOILERS FOLLOW
IV. General suggestions for play
1. Though magic isn't all-powerful like in some other games, it's still essential. Three spells work especially well, and four others are quite helpful:
- Attribu Strength. Any mage or mage-fighter can learn this spell. It dramatically increases the strength of everyone in the group (one at a time) for five minutes, long enough for 1-2 groups of enemies. More Strength means more melee weapon damage (not ranged weapons) and more resistance to damage. Similar spells exist to increase Constitution, Agility, Dexterity, and other attributes, but only one can be active at a time with a given character, and I didn't see the point in the others.
- Fastness of Body. A mage can cast this only on him/herself, and the spell isn't available to dwarves. But it roughly doubles the armor rating for mages, to the point they are near tanks.
- Summons. I started off just with a fire elemental, who did melee damage and also set enemies on fire (one extra damage point per second). He's not that tough. Later I obtained a skeleton, who initially is just a melee fighter. But as I put more points into this spell, he became a mage and did a nifty job of casting damage and attribute-depleting spells on enemies. Late in the game at the Water Dragon Lair I gained a Genie summons, who combines great spells, good melee hits, and toughness. All summons make great tanks and tend to be very aggressive, attracting a lot of attention from enemies. Each summoning spell lasts ten minutes, and they don't cost a lot of Astral Energy to cast. Only one summons can be active at a time, but early in the game I got two going at once.
- Weaken the opposition. The best spells to lower enemy attributes are Plumbumbam Heavy Arm (lowers attack for 30 seconds), Lightning Find You (drops lots of attributes but only for 10 seconds), and Corpofrigio Cold Shock (drops attributes for 15 seconds).
- In addition, I found the Paralysis spell essential when faced with multiple tough enemies -- it temporarily turns one enemy into a rock for about three minutes.
2. The three crafting skills are extremely useful: Alchemy (make potions), Blacksmithing (make weapons and armor), and Bowyery (make bows, crossbows, arrows, and missiles). Some of the things you can make are quite effective. You need to buy recipes for everything you want to make. More recipes become available over the course of the game. Because mages need leveling points for spells, and thieves need them for thieving skills, fighters are your best choices for Blacksmithing and Bowyery. But I made my player character the alchemist.
3. If you want to harvest herbs to make potions, you need the Plant Lore skill, and the Animal Lore skill to get maximal crafting products from critters you've killed. I started the game with several points in Plant Lore, which gave me a good early supply of herbs. The Astral Lore skill allows you to identify things (mostly magical pendants and rings). The NPC mage starts out with a good level in this skill, so I let him do it.
4. During fights you have to manage Endurance (used up with any combat skill or spell). The Endurance combat skill greatly increases Endurance, and you can find rings that do too. Endurance potions often come in handy.
5. Several spells and combat skills take 2 or 3 combat rounds before they activate. Once combat begins, most enemies are all over you within one round.
6. Bows and crossbows are both essential and tricky. They are a great way to initiate combat, and several combat skills greatly increase the damage arrows and missiles cause. Crossbows take two combat rounds to fire, making them much less useful once combat has begun. Longbows do more damage than short bows but also take two combat rounds. I give each character a longbow to start combat (except for the mage with his fireball, which takes three rounds) and then immediately switch to other bows that have no delay but are less damaging. You do NOT want to be in melee with a bow, because you can't parry and will get creamed. Because I like everyone's thing to go off at once, I start with a fireball, wait one round, trigger the longbows, wait another round, and then use any immediate-acting bows. Everything lands more or less at once, triggering combat, and causing a good deal of damage before the enemy knows we're there.