The Abominable Party-Building Topic

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AuthorTopic: The Abominable Party-Building Topic
...b10010b...
Member # 869
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There seems to be a certain degree of demand for a party-building FAQ of some sort, so to that end I'm starting a topic to collect opinions and advice on stat management, both large-scale (what each of your characters is meant to do) and small-scale (what stats you give them to achieve that end). Now, this is meant to be helpful to other players rather than simply a reflection of what people are used to, so don't just turn this into a post-your-party topic; if you want to tell us what party you use, justify why it works for you.

I should add that I always play on Torment difficulty, and almost never use invulnerability, Divine Aid or potions except in scenarios where some of these are virtually essential (e.g. Canopy). So if my strategy works under these restrictions, it'll hopefully work pretty much anywhere.

The information I'm about to give is going to be pretty in-depth; apologies for those of you who don't need it, but I use a fairly unusual party design and feel that I ought to explain how and why I use it.

Character #1

Character #1 is my party's only fighter; he's usually enough to hold off attacks from melee-using opponents. (If he isn't, well, that's what Character #4 is for; I'll get to that later.) I make him human and give him the traits Sickness Prone and Completely Inept, because neither of those traits is actually very harmful, and gaining levels ludicrously fast is generally a good thing.

Initially, I build up Strength, Endurance and Melee Weapons so that their costs remain about equal. (Sometimes I'll use pole weapons as my primary weapon skill instead, depending on the scenario.) Once I've reached 14 levels of Melee Weapons, I put points into Pole Weapons so as to get Blademaster. (I've done some calculations, and 14 levels of one weapon skill is pretty much the optimal point at which to try for Blademaster.)

After that point, I try to build up Strength, Melee Weapons, Blademaster and Endurance with their costs remaining equal as before. You'll note that I don't mention putting any points into Dexterity. This is because I don't need to; I find I almost always hit 95% of the time anyway, and trying to reduce enemies' hit rate against you is generally less efficient than being able to survive when they do hit you. In fact, the only other stats I put points into are Defence and Assassination; Defence gets points whenever my encumbrance gets close to the point at which I'd start losing AP, and Assassination gets a point or two when I have points to spare.

In combat, his primary job is to make absolutely sure he's the only one getting hit. He's the first to charge into a room, and always stays a couple of spaces in front of the other characters. Of course, he's no slouch at dealing out damage either, but the party can work efficiently even if for some reason he's not able to attack.

Characters #2 and #3

#2 and #3 are essentially identical Nephil archer-priests, both with Sickness Prone and Brittle Bones. (The way I play, Brittle Bones is essentially irrelevant as a disadvantage, because they're never going to be attacked in melee.)

I start both of them out with 6 points in Priest Spells, 5 points in Dexterity and 8 points in Thrown Missiles. After that, I try to build Priest Spells up so that it's always at least a couple of ranks above the highest-level spells I'm getting at the time, and put points into Dexterity when I have points to spare. Once Dexterity is high enough for me to get Sharpshooter, I basically forget about Dexterity completely and keep building up Priest Spells, Thrown Missiles and Sharpshooter (keeping Thrown Missiles and Sharpshooter at an equal cost per point).

At high levels, once Priest Spells is at 17 and I have decent missile skills, I'll start putting a few points into Intelligence, but I don't go overboard; once it's high enough that I can get Magery, I generally stop building it up (maybe putting a few points into Magery instead, but not too many). Eventually I might give them a few points of Mage Spells, just enough for them to cast Create Illusions.

Strategically, they can do a number of different things. Usually they'll have slings equipped as missile weapons, so that I don't have to worry about conserving ammunition; for really major battles, I might switch to javelins. Blessing and Radiant Shielding before battles is always useful. Against BoA's ubiquitous undead and demons, of course, they can throw Repel Spirit around. (Against 2 or fewer monsters, though, I'll usually just sling rocks at them instead.) And when someone needs healing or curing, well, that's what priest spells are for. High-cost spells like Divine Restoration or Divine Host are reserved for real emergencies.

If I find myself in need of Tool Use, I'll usually put a couple of points of it on either #2 or #3. Likewise for Arcane Lore, although with three spellcasters in my party I rarely have any problems with Rune Reading.

Character #4

This one's a fairly typical mage-priest. Human, with Sickness Prone and Brittle Bones. Starts with 6 levels of Mage Spells and 5 of Priest Spells, then builds them up about equally from there. Once both are at 17, I start giving him points in Intelligence, then Magery. From then on, I put all my points into Intelligence and Magery, keeping Intelligence costing about 2 points more than Magery at all times.

Since #4 usually has the best overall spellcasting ability, he's usually the one who casts Enduring Barrier on my characters in preparation for a dungeon. He also hastes the party in preparation for major fights. (War Blessing is okay as far as it goes, but Haste lasts far longer and gives a much better initiative bonus.) When the party is overwhelmed by monsters too powerful or numerous for #1 to safely defend them against, #4 casts Create Illusions for protection. The rest of the time, he's mostly a healer -- attack spells are so expensive that I rarely find them useful.

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Shock Trooper
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Good idea for a topic, Thuryl.

I've found building 4-person parties to be easy enough, but how in blazes does one carry off a singleton? I tried Drakey's warrior-priest configuration (Divinely Touched, Fast on Feet slith), but I got mauled by the goblins in Backwater Calls and gave up on that in a hurry.

In terms of advice...

I find that, at high levels, melee is the most efficient way to kill just about anything. Once my party goes through a lot of scenarios, I tend to accrue a substantial amount of AP bonus items, to the point where my two fighters can each attack three times in a turn when hasted. Dealing 400-some damage (Maximillian, Hidden City Spear) six times in a turn is something I can just never do with magic, and I'd rather use the spell points to bless/haste/radiant shield. If something is far away, Adlerauge usually suffices (especially three times a turn).

(Note: Even without the unbalanced Hidden City Spear, my pole guy was still doing about 250 a hit)

My high-level party has a dedicated mage and a dedicated priest, and I often feel the squeeze on my priest (i.e. too many things need fixing in one turn of combat). I definitely recommend having two characters with Heal at a reasonably high level, so that one of them can do that while the other removes statuses or blesses as needed.

EDIT: Also, being able to cast heal twice can help you avoid casting Divine Restoration, which is a major plus spell points-wise. Oh, and Radiant Shield is a life-saver once you get into higher-level scenarios and everything and its uncle can cast Control Foes. Super-powerful weapons and 10 AP are a huge liability when your fighters can get confused.

I use mage spells for about the same things Thuryl does, with the added qualification that Arcane Shield can be quite useful for my strategies as well (especially since my priest, who tends to be encumbered, often only has one spell per turn), because my fighters do pretty much everything. Create Illusions (especially at level 10 - thank you Canopy) is a lifesaver against archer-type enemies and enemies with powerful melee attacks, but spellcasters can clear them out in one turn, and still damage the party.

[ Tuesday, March 29, 2005 21:23: Message edited by: PoD person ]
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
...b10010b...
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Hmm. I usually use a freshly-made HLPM party for each scenario I play, so my item selection tends to be more limited -- in particular, few or no AP boosts, and no super-powerful weapons. I used to build parties around having fighters do all the damage, but found that they made the combat too fast and chaotic for my liking -- I had to have the combat essentially won within a round or two, or I'd be swarmed and killed. My current style is more defensive.

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Warrior
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Profile #3
Are you sure you charector #1 hits 95% of the time. In my usual party i have a similair melee-weapon fighter guy (although he doesn't have blademaster). At first i really didn't care much about dexterity, but then he was constantly missing his attacks. After i put points into dexterity, he was fine.
Posts: 59 | Registered: Wednesday, January 5 2005 08:00
...b10010b...
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Well, my fighter never goes into combat without being blessed a couple of times first.

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Shock Trooper
Member # 4445
Profile #5
Thuryl, if you HLPM-generate your parties, why bother with the disadvantages? The HLPM, as I understand it, will spit out a level 40 party, regardless of whether all the characters have Sickness Prone, Brittle Bones, Elite Warrior, or Natural Mage.

While I'm kind of on the subject...

No Natural Mage, Thuryl? Gah.

EDIT: I would also really, really like to know how to do a singleton, and whether or not combat with one is always won by the skin of one's teeth, because, in that case, I just won't bother.

[ Tuesday, March 29, 2005 21:47: Message edited by: PoD person ]
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
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Has anyone tried to load up one character with items that grant "-xx% chance to be hit"? Is it possible to bring the chance to hit for the enemies down to 5% consistently? I imagine a tank with high defense, gymnastics, and resistance. Would this work in high-level scenarios?

The Mad Scientist
Posts: 23 | Registered: Tuesday, October 1 2002 07:00
...b10010b...
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quote:
Originally written by PoD person:

Thuryl, if you HLPM-generate your parties, why bother with the disadvantages? The HLPM, as I understand it, will spit out a level 40 party, regardless of whether all the characters have Sickness Prone, Brittle Bones, Elite Warrior, or Natural Mage.
Good point. I guess I like a challenge. :P

(Seriously, though, in long scenarios the extra levels you gain *during* the scenario make a huge difference. Most parties go into Bahssikava at level 40 and finish at level 60; one of mine went in at level 30 and finished at level 75.)

quote:
While I'm kind of on the subject...

No Natural Mage, Thuryl? Gah.
In general, the only things worth putting on a mage's back don't encumber him anyway. Sticking him in platemail and a shield won't really do much to save him if he gets attacked (especially with only 3 Endurance). As for the bonus to spellcasting, I don't think it's worth effectively *doubling* the amount of XP it'd take to level up (remember, to get Natural Mage I'd also have to remove one of my disadvantages).

quote:
EDIT: I would also really, really like to know how to do a singleton, and whether or not combat with one is always won by the skin of one's teeth, because, in that case, I just won't bother.
If I were into singletons, I'd be inclined to make an archer-spellcaster. Archery as the main source of damage, enough mage spells to use Create Illusions for protection and enough priest spells for decent healing.

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
...b10010b...
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quote:
Originally written by MadScientist:

Has anyone tried to load up one character with items that grant "-xx% chance to be hit"? Is it possible to bring the chance to hit for the enemies down to 5% consistently? I imagine a tank with high defense, gymnastics, and resistance. Would this work in high-level scenarios?
It's not impossible. I played with a Divinely Touched character for a while, put lots of points into Dexterity, Defence and Gymnastics, and found that quite a lot of the monsters in Bahssikava were getting 5% hit rates on him most of the time. The trouble is that monsters with a much higher level than you will have a ludicrously high chance to hit you no matter how well-defended you are, so you can't always rely on dodging attacks for survival. (I learned this the hard way when I got torn up by Bahss's bosses.)

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
Triad Mage
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My thing is the warrior-priest singleton. Load up to five or six in priest levels, and five in strength, and four in int and end. I put the rest into melee weapons and hardiness. I like Strong Will and Divinely Touched, but Fast on Feet is good too.

When fighting, I like the use War Blessing, and for the first few levels, Smite is more valuable than weapons. However, after getting a few more levels on and some better weapons, it's possible to go in blessed and hasted and lay waste with a sword.

One of the more difficult monsters I've faced at an early level was the alien beast in the School of Magery, and the other ones outside of it. They're not hard with Divine Aid, but otherwise they can be a handful.

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"At times discretion should be thrown aside, and with the foolish we should play the fool." - Menander
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Posts: 9436 | Registered: Wednesday, September 19 2001 07:00
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I think it's worth giving everyone a point of priest spells. It doesn't cost much, and having everyone able to heal can help when I'm in trouble.

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Barcoorah: I even did it to a big dorset ram.

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Posts: 1798 | Registered: Thursday, October 4 2001 07:00
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Ah, Thuryl, but my casters have the ludicrously high amount of endurance it takes to get Magical Efficiency, and thus have, like, twice as much health as my fighters. It is true, though, that my priest is now about ten levels ahead of my mage, on account of not having any advantages.
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
Shake Before Using
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Is this an abominable topic, or is it a topic for building abominable parties?
Posts: 3234 | Registered: Thursday, October 4 2001 07:00
By Committee
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So Intelligence doesn't matter for a mage or priest until you're done building your particular spell-related skill, and dexterity doesn't matter at all for anyone?
Posts: 2242 | Registered: Saturday, April 10 2004 07:00
BANNED
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Both.

I personally enjoy the concept of an Archer. The key skills are Dexterity, whichever weapon skill your main fighter is not using and Bows. Get Endurance as often as your fighter does, and use your archer as a second line of defense against opponents. Since arrows are in relatively high supply everywhere except for Bahssikava (and at that point you'd have Adlerauge), ammunition for 1 PC out of four becomes inconsequential. Stop spending points in Dexterity when Sharpshooter becomes an option, and only reconsider it when two levels of it is just as expensive as the next-highest level of Sharpshooter or Bows.

The biggest advantages of an Archer respectively are being able to cover one's rear in case of ambushes and Adlerauge. Both, IMO, make this guy worth considering.

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Posts: 6936 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
Agent
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A few things about parties and party building strategy.

1) I try to get the maximum experience penalties for the parties I am creating. This extends the useful life of the parties I create. I am not interested in leveling up quickly. -60% to -70% experience penalty.

2) This increases the number of scenarios a party will go through. Allows for better item accumulation, and knowledge brew use. Less level gains means more scenarios to send a party through. Also, a character does not get as much experience for killing lower level monsters than the character.

3) There is a maximum level of 100 for monsters in BOA. The characters ability to gain experience slows way down at about lvl 70. Monsters don't generate that much experience.

4) I change the name of my save file after I finish a scenario. This creates a bunch of different saves with different level parties. No need to create a new party for every scenario.

5) The general pattern I follow is a four party group.

1) Slith-- Divinely Touched Strong back-- Rebel-- Focus on Polearms-- Tool Use-- Defense.

2) Human-- Elite Warrior-- Fast On Feet -- Melee-- Bows-- Defense

3) Human-- Cleric-- Natural Mage-- Scholar
Focus on Missile Weapons-- Alchemy-- Arcane Knowledge-- Cleric Spells.

4) Nephil-- Hedge Wizard-- Fast On Feet-- Natural Mage-- Focus on Mage and Cleric Spells.

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Posts: 1084 | Registered: Thursday, November 7 2002 08:00
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A word on the pure archer - it most definitely is viable, and extremely powerful. My party consists of a front-line tank (human, natural warrior), a pure archer (nephil), and two mage/priests. The archer kills more than any of them. Why? Well, three reasons.

First, adlerauge, the incredibly powerful bow from canopy which does 1-9 per level plus some ridiculous bonuses, is comparable to the highest damage melee or pole weapons. Personally, I think it's rather unbalancing. Ranged weapons usually do less damage for a reason, which brings me to the next two points.

Second, unlike a tank, which has to put lots of skill points into endurance and defense and the like, the archer is free to be entirely offensive, since they should only very rarely be in harm's way in the first place. In this way they're much like magic users. Also, while a tank should probably have a couple points in either bows or thrown, so he doesn't waste a turn if the enemies are out of range, the archer does NOT need any points in melee or pole weapons, since these will do less damage than the ranged attack anyway, there's no restriction on point blank shots, and it's easy and cheap to buy lots of arrows often. Thus, the archer's attack level (dex/2 + bows + sharpshooter) should be considerably higher than the warrior's equivalent.

And third, the archer should have high dexterity (and therefore high initiative) and doesn't have to move much to attack. Therefore, he will almost always get a very high damage shot or two (or three) before the fight even really begins, and does the same every turn while being in relatively little danger. What this amounts to is being able to pick which of your enemies you want to fight least, and killing them before they even know what's happening. This makes the archer particularly indispensible as a mage-killer, since silencing their spells early is important, and mages usually hang back and are resistant to magic.
Posts: 14 | Registered: Saturday, March 26 2005 08:00
Shock Trooper
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Adlerauge isn't unbalancing if you also get Maximillian, which will restore your melee weapons user to his/her proper dominance. Mage killing is easy enough with a bunch of AP boosting items and haste, because my fighters can cover more than their line of sight in a single turn.
Posts: 293 | Registered: Saturday, May 29 2004 07:00
Apprentice
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My tank has maximillian, but still does less damage than the archer (though its still a lot), chiefly because the archer has more skill points to spare to raise his damage.
Posts: 14 | Registered: Saturday, March 26 2005 08:00
...b10010b...
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A whole bunch of quotes from different people follow, along with my responses.

quote:
I think it's worth giving everyone a point of priest spells. It doesn't cost much, and having everyone able to heal can help when I'm in trouble.
This isn't a bad idea, although if your fighter needs to heal people regularly, it probably means you don't have enough priests. On the other hand, giving a fighter spells means that monsters with dumbfounding ray are likely to target him instead of your casters.

quote:
Ah, Thuryl, but my casters have the ludicrously high amount of endurance it takes to get Magical Efficiency, and thus have, like, twice as much health as my fighters. It is true, though, that my priest is now about ten levels ahead of my mage, on account of not having any advantages.
Magical Efficiency isn't a bad skill as such, but I'm not convinced that it's better than putting all those points into Intelligence instead; that gives you extra SP and more powerful spells, and the way I play I don't run out of SP all that often anyway. I suppose if you use lots of high-cost spells like Fireblast or Divine Restoration, Magical Efficiency might be worth your while.

quote:
So Intelligence doesn't matter for a mage or priest until you're done building your particular spell-related skill, and dexterity doesn't matter at all for anyone?
Pretty much. Dexterity's good if you want certain special skills, but in its own right it doesn't do much. Intelligence has its uses, but I try to keep my spellcasting skills as high as possible to avoid the risk of finding a spell I can't learn.

quote:
1) I try to get the maximum experience penalties for the parties I am creating. This extends the useful life of the parties I create. I am not interested in leveling up quickly. -60% to -70% experience penalty.
This is just a personal preference as regards the way I play, but I find this doesn't work for me. I like to make things as hard as possible for myself, which means playing with a party significantly lower in level than intended for the scenario.

Now, if I allow myself Divinely Touched, then I can finish scenarios with ludicrously low-level parties, but only by running away and resting to recharge Divine Aid after pretty much every significant fight. This isn't fun. At the same time, I don't want to have Divine Aid to fall back on in scenarios where I won't need it. So I don't use Divinely Touched. As for the other advantages, none of them seem enormously worthwhile to me.

quote:
Second, unlike a tank, which has to put lots of skill points into endurance and defense and the like, the archer is free to be entirely offensive, since they should only very rarely be in harm's way in the first place. In this way they're much like magic users. Also, while a tank should probably have a couple points in either bows or thrown, so he doesn't waste a turn if the enemies are out of range, the archer does NOT need any points in melee or pole weapons, since these will do less damage than the ranged attack anyway, there's no restriction on point blank shots, and it's easy and cheap to buy lots of arrows often. Thus, the archer's attack level (dex/2 + bows + sharpshooter) should be considerably higher than the warrior's equivalent.
Agreed on all counts, but I do have one thing to add; I find that at high levels, pure archers aren't enormously superior in firepower to archer-priests, because at some point all of the skills that add to missile damage become so expensive to add more points to that they essentially stop progressing and you may as well put a few points into something else.

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
E Equals MC What!!!!
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Intelligence is almost completely worthless. Put those skill points into maxing out your Mage and Priest levels, then focus on something else.

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SupaNik: Aran, you're not big enough to threaten Ash. Dammit, even JV had to think twice.
Posts: 1861 | Registered: Friday, February 11 2005 08:00
...b10010b...
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I agree that the bonus Intelligence gives to offensive spells isn't much, but every point of Intelligence means 3 extra SP, and every 8 points means an extra summoned monster from Create Illusions. Healing maybe 110 HP instead of 80 every time you cast Healing is a pretty significant improvement too.

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00
The Establishment
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quote:
Originally written by Evil_Penguin:

[QB]First, adlerauge, the incredibly powerful bow from canopy which does 1-9 per level plus some ridiculous bonuses, is comparable to the highest damage melee or pole weapons. Personally, I think it's rather unbalancing. Ranged weapons usually do less damage for a reason, which brings me to the next two points.[QB]
If you feel it's unbalancing, no one forces you to use Alderauge.

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Posts: 3726 | Registered: Tuesday, September 18 2001 07:00
E Equals MC What!!!!
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Eh, maybe you're right. I've never played with a high level party. At any rate, I think there's no point getting Intelligence until after you've maxed out your Mage and Priest levels.

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SupaNik: Aran, you're not big enough to threaten Ash. Dammit, even JV had to think twice.
Posts: 1861 | Registered: Friday, February 11 2005 08:00
...b10010b...
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Oh, absolutely. With a mage-priest you won't have the points to spare for intelligence until high levels, with an archer-mage or archer-priest you'll get more mileage out of missile skills instead until very high levels, and if you're thinking of making a pure mage or pure priest you should probably consider diversifying their skills. (A pure priest can be handy at low levels when a few extra HP from Enduring Barrier makes a real difference, but at high levels EB is increasingly irrelevant.)

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The Empire Always Loses: This Time For Sure!
Posts: 9973 | Registered: Saturday, March 30 2002 08:00

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