Part 125: Mage Skills
Since the main character is a mage, we'll be going in-depth with the mage skills first.
Special Skill - Mage : Swap Places
- The Wizard's special move is Swap Places, which lets you trade places with any enemy or NPC. It may be occasionally handy to get out of the middle of crowds, but it's also useful to move NPC's around so you can steal stuff from their house. I won't be using this much at all, it's an escape skill, if you need to use it, you've probably done something wrong.
At the cost of about 1500 Stamina (your initial Stamina is 3000), you change places with an entity. Some NPC's are immune to swap. It's best used for getting from the middle of a swarm to the edge, but it's even better to not get into that kind of trouble to begin with.
Special Move: Swap places
Powers of Matter (red)
- Hell Spikes is THE damage spell for mages. It does physical damage and cannot be resisted, and given how many enemies in the final area have immunities, it's going to be your primary spell. It's also an area-effect spell, which starts out tiny and grows much larger with more points. The initial small area of effect makes it pretty worthless until you have at least three ranks in the skill, but after that it's very powerful. At Rank 1 (available at level 1), it summons 1 group of spikes which shoot three times, each hit does 4-14 damage. At Rank 5 (available at level 25), it summons a group of 5 spikes which shoot three times, each hit doing 20-70 damage. An enemy can be hit with more than one spike at once, but you're not going to hit them with all 5.
- This spell sends a few discs spiraling a short distance from your character. The range sucks. The upside is that the damage is physical and fixed. Rank 1, each disc does 20 damage, at Rank 5 each disc does 100 damage. The spammable nature of the spell makes it somewhat useful, although it's no good against ranged opponents unless you run up to them. Hell Spikes is a much better investment.
Limbs of Lead
- First available at level 5, this spell slows the target down and makes them hit for less damage. It needs two points to get it to a useful duration. Get two or three points and cast it on some of the boss-creatures in the game. Some enemies can cast this on you, and it can be just as lethal. Maxed out, Limbs of Lead will make is possible for you to take on enemies who are extremely powerful melee fighters with relative safety. One note of caution: you can't recast it on enemies already afflicted with it; you need to let it wear off before you can hit them with it again.
- Telekinesis lets you pick up things from far away and interact with certain items. It's unlikely that you'll need more than rank 2 for a couple of things - this lever, and some items on otherwise inaccessible areas in the Rivertown sewers.
The annoying thing is that it doesn't seem to work on some things it SHOULD work on, like containers. Some containers are trapped, which would be an ideal place to use Telekinesis, but you can't, and trying just makes you run up to open them.
- Polymorph transforms the target into a harmless critter, which makes them unable to attack you
It turns out that this spell seems to be bugged in that it NEVER wears off. That's awesome. It even works on bosses.
While it's effective on a lot of enemies, it's less efficient than simply killing them, and its utility is limited to targets without spiritual resistance. It works perfectly on most humans and orcs, though, so it crops up in a few places.
- This skill temporarily traps your enemy inside a magic barrier. At Rank 1, it costs 10 magic, lasts for 3 seconds and targets need at least 5 Spiritual Resistance to escape the trap. At Rank 5 it costs 18 magic, last for 15 seconds and targets need at least 35 Spiritual Resistance to escape.
The cage also serves as protection for the trapped creature; many magical attacks won't affect a trapped creature. But Hell Spikes (and polymorph) are two of the exceptions.
- Most of the Wizard's Summoning skills cannot be learned via spellbooks, including this one, because there aren't any spellbooks for that spell at all. This skill is first available at level 16, and it summons 5 Steel Skeletons of level 16/18/20/22/24, but since you can't abuse the spellbook trick, it'll take you until level 40 to be able to summon level 24 skeletons. But the magic cost for summoning 5 distractions is pretty cheap (16 to 28 magic), if I have lots of skill points to spare, I'll probably pick this one up. This is a summoning skill, but it's categorized as a "Power of Matter", likely because the game was out of spaces in the "Powers of Summoning" category.
- What that tree is shooting at us is an actual skill we could use ourselves. It is called Seeking Flame, but that is a misnomer, because it does not seek in any way. It is a very, VERY, slow-moving attack which slowly goes to a spot on the ground and explodes. It is first available at level 24, and there are no skillbooks for it.
It does a huge fixed amount of fire damage (80 at Rank 1, 240 at Rank 5), but apparently it only does any damage at all if the enemy's fire resistances are below 5-25%, making it not simply less effective, but completely worthless against anything which has fire resistance. Resistances get more and more plentiful the further we get into the game, and the enemies move around too much for this extremely slow-moving spell to be worthwhile.
Powers of Body & Spirit (blue)
- Restoration is the game's healing spell, and why magic is always useful for all characters. It starts out healing 40 HP, going up by 20 per rank. There are FOUR free skill points available in the game, although three of them require completing quests (and two of those quests are not short or easy). Additionally, the spellbook can be found on shelves, or bought in stores, so don't spend points in this, because it's really easy to max out with a little effort and exploration. Like all spells it can be spammed, too - which you might need to do for some boss fights. Restoration works on the player and their summons, but not NPC's (even allied NPC's).
Fade From Sight
- Fade From Sight is an invisibility spell. It can be used in daytime, unlike the Survivor's special ability and Embrace Shadows. Taking any action (except drinking a potion) while invisibility is active cancels it. It's very useful. It's limited only by your magic reserve, Rank 1 drains 5 magic a second, Rank 5 drains only 1. With a sufficiently large enough amount of magic, Rank 5 is practically unlimited invisibility. It's very useful for when you just don't want to be bothered by enemies. Of course, conversation and cutscene triggers will make you visible again.
Aura of Guarding
- Aura of Guarding is an excellent spell. It absorbs 60 damage at Rank 1, and goes up by 20 to a maximum of 140 damage. There is no time limit or mana drain, it's a cast and forget spell, and it lasts until it takes the maximum damage, or until you sleep. You can refresh it before it collapses. It can first be learned at level 10, but it can be found in spellbooks. If you have low base health, it can be useful to absorb one powerful attack from a later-game mini-boss or better, although some bosses attacks can take out even a maxed-out shield in one hit.
- Spellshield is the same as Aura of Guarding, except for elemental damage, either from spells or weapons. It absorbs 60 elemental damage at Rank 1, and goes up by 20 to a maximum of 140 elemental damage. It's excellent at dealing with enemies with elemental attacks, and it's also good at handling the damage from magical traps. If you have low base health, it can be useful to absorb one powerful magical attack from a later-game mini-boss or better, although some bosses attacks can take out even a maxed-out shield in one hit.
Bless - Initial skill for Female Mage
- This skill boosts all your attributes. At Rank 1 it's a 3 point boost for 15 seconds, at Rank 5, it's a 15-point boost for two minutes. I would use it a lot, except that it doesn't boost your vitality or magic reserves to fill in the gaps from the improved stats, so you need to blow a potion if you want to fill up, and the boost you get just isn't worth a potion. It's useful for increasing strength and agility for a while, so melee or bow users would get a lot more use out of it than magic users.
- This skill gives you vision of an area you couldn't normally see for 1 to 5 seconds. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to show you the entities in the room, so you can't see who is waiting for you, making this already limited-utility spell even more useless. I think that you might be able to use this combined with telekinesis to perform thefts, however.
- This is similar to the Bless skill, but this one is more specialized. It only boosts your strength attribute, but by a lot more, and with a much shorter duration. It's helpful for boosting your carry capacity before heading back to your base to stash loot, or for combat if you're a warrior-type.
- Withering curse is a single-target debuff. It lowers the target's resistances to fire, lightning, poison, and spiritual damage by 10% per point for 2/3/4/5/6 seconds.
Unfortunately, one little thing makes the spell worthless against the only enemies you'd want to use it on. It only works for enemies whose spiritual resistance is below 5/10/15/20/25. Spiritual Resistance of 100 is pretty common among enemies at all stages of the game - but especially in the later areas. The only enemies which are by default vulnerable to this spell are typically already weak enough that you don't need to use this. I recommend choosing the Survivor's single-target debuff Curse, which doesn't care about spiritual resistance, over this spell.
Elemental Powers (green)
Meteorstrike - Initial skill, Male & Female Mage
- This is your basic fireball spell. Both Male and Female Wizards start out already knowing the first rank. It does low to moderate damage, but it has a very low mana cost (2 mana at Rank 1, and only 6 mana at Rank 5), so you can spam it like crazy. It'll be generally useful throughout the game. One free spell book is available not long after we reach "Act 2". It's pretty common on random bookshelf drops. All non-skeletal Undead are weak to Fire Damage.
- This is the only "cold" spell in the game. It's actually classified as "Spiritual Damage" though. Unfortunately, that reduces its utility. At Rank 1, IF the target's Spiritual Resistance is less than 10, it does 20 damage and freezes the target for 3 seconds for a magic cost of 4. The magic cost skyrockets, though. At Rank 5, IF the target's Spiritual Resistance is less than 30, it does 60 damage and freezes the target for 15 seconds for a magic cost of 25.
I don't use this skill much at all because it's simpler to just kill the small enemies, and most of the big enemies are immune anyway. The reason why it's got such strict requirements is because immobilizing enemies renders them into helpless, easy kills. that. Don't bother using this on ranged enemies or casters, they can still attack and cast spells - but on the bright side, if you get hit by this, you can do the same.
This skill can be found on weapons, and when it is, it's completely broken. It ignores the Spiritual Damage check, so it paralyzes everyone. Combine it with a poisoned weapon for even more game-breaking goodness. Version 1.40 might have fixed that, I'm not sure.
- This is one of the few AOE spells in the game. It takes a half-second for the hail to rain down on the area, so combining it with Limbs of Lead or large groups is a good idea. It's also nearly impossible to hit a single target unless you're both moving on the same left-right plane. That's because the AOE isn't very big. Like most spells, it can be cast as fast as you right-click, although it has a hefty mana cost. At Rank 1, each spark does 12-44 fire & lightning damage. At Rank 5 each spark does 20-84 fire & lightning damage.
- Lightning is a devastating single-target attack. At Rank 1, it does 10-60 damage for 6 magic, at Rank 5 it does 50-180 damage for 18 magic. It's good up on lightning-weak groups until we get a better spell at level 16. After that point, it's only useful on single targets. Its "always hits" nature makes it especially good at targeting enemies we want to make dead FAST. The advantages are that you don't need to aim, just hold the Control key to auto-lock on the nearest enemy, and click until the screen is cleared. The downsides are that it has a very wide damage range, and it's got a pretty high magic cost for a single-target, single-element spell. All kinds of Skeletons tend to be weak to Lightning damage. Most zombies and orcs are also vulnerable. Lightning first becomes available at level 10.
- Burning Wall is a seriously awesome skill. At Rank one, it only does 4-6 Lightning damage per hit and lasts for 5 seconds at a cost of 14 magic. The thing is that that it hits several times a second. This will decimate lightning-weak enemies like Orcs and Steel Skeletons. It's not a super-high-level skill either; it is first available at level 16. At Rank 5, it does 20-30 damage per hit (again - several times a second) and lasts for 25 seconds for only 30 mana, making it an order of magnitude more efficient at dealing with groups than Lightning.
- This spell fires a slow-moving ball of fire and lightning which homes in on the target. It can be casually outrun by the player and it will eventually dissipate. At Rank 1 it does 10-70 fire and lightning damage for 15 magic, at Rank 5 it does 30-144 fire and lightning damage for 23 magic.
I don't use this because honestly, it's just a variation on Elemental Hail, and because of a glitch with the spellbooks, no Elemental Bolt spellbooks can be found. If I'm going to pump points into an Multi-Elemental Damage spell which can't be found in spellbooks, I may as well save the points for Elemental Strike, which is better. Despite being called fire and lightning damage, Spellshield doesn't seem to be depleted by it.
- This shoots an area effect cloud of poison. It's rather boring and really weak. It's a bit bugged though - If you shoot it near a friendly NPC, it does poison them, and they run around all poisoned, and if you do it enough, they die, without going hostile, so if you're patient, you can depopulate an area without anyone getting upset. At Rank 1 (available at level 20), it shoots out 4 clouds and does 10-40 damage. At Rank 5 (available at level 44) it shoots 12 clouds and does 30-100 damage. By the time you're that level, you've got much better and more direct spells to kill enemies.
- The most powerful Elemental Skill in the game. It's a fast-casting, single-target instant hit spell (no projectile which can miss) which does 20-60 EACH of Fire, Lightning and Poison damage (60-180 total) to the target at Rank 1 for 24 mana (which is expensive for Rank 1). There are no spellbooks for this spell, so the earliest you can get it is level 24. Maximum rank is learned at level 48, and there the spell costs 48 mana to cast - the most expensive single casting of a spell in the game - and it does 40-180 each of Fire, Lightning and Poison damage (120-540 total).
Elemental Strike is spammable and very effective, theoretically, if most of the enemies in the middle part of the game didn't already have a specific weakness to target, and most of the enemies in the late game have immunities to everything except one weakness. It does work wonders on bosses, though, whose resistances (or lack of) are generally identical across the board.
Powers of Summoning (yellow)
Summon Vermin - Initial skill, Male Mage
- This summons a rat that runs around. It attracts attention and your enemies will chase after it, but it's got low HP and can't attack. It also can be used to trigger floor-based traps, instead of the usual method of using your foot. It's not worth putting points into - they just increase the number of rats and the rats HP, but unfortunately, there are no spell books for this available. Male Wizards get one free point.
- The first Rank lets you summon one level 4 Skeleton. Subsequent points increase the number of skeletons you can summon and raises their level by 4, to a max of 5 skeletons of level 20. Skeletons do not have a time limit, but do NOT follow you unless you cast the Aura of Command skill on them. Higher level skeletons are harder to hit, so a level 8 skeleton can last quite a while in the Aleroth Dungeon. One free point is available from a spell book later on, but by then the skeletons no longer last long enough to be very useful. Try to avoid putting points into this spell, Skeletal Wall is better.
- When used as intended, Resurrect is similar to Revive from the Diablo 2 Necromancer, except that your summons aren't on a time limit. Based on your Rank of the skill, resurrected minions have 20%/30%/40%/50%/75% of their original stats. There isn't a limit to how many you can control as far as I know.
When used as intended, Resurrect is a mediocre skill. Nice for some distractions, especially when used on minibosses who have huge statistics anyway.
The 1.34 and earlier versions had a bug where if you revive an enemy, it is on your side with reduced statistics... until you leave the area. Once you leave the area (teleporting, passing into/out of an interior space), the game forgets that the Resurrected minion is that, it only recognizes an alive enemy unit. When you next go to that area, your former minion is back to full strength and is an enemy once again. You can use this to farm for items and experience. VERSION 1.40 CHANGES - This bug has been fixed. Resurrected enemies now die forever once you leave an area, so the farming trick won't work.
- This skill lets you transfer life from your enemies to yourself. Liches, Mummies and some other enemies have this and will use it on you if you give them the chance. I won't be using it because the Spiritual Resistance component means it's not effective on enemies it would be worth using on, and enemies it would work on die easily and more reliably.
- Many enemies in the game summon creatures to attack you. This skill lets you banish them, or at least do damage to them. At Rank 1, a summon must have Spiritual Resistance above 10 or die. Even ignoring spiritual resistance, the creature takes 20-60 damage for 10 mana. You need to be level 10 to learn this. At Rank 5, a summon must have Spiritual Resistance above 50 or die. Even ignoring spiritual resistance, the creature takes 40-130 damage for 18 mana.
This spell is theoretically useful, but the enemies which summon helpers usually keep doing it, so Banishing an enemy only gives you a few seconds before the enemy summons in another one. It's annoying to keep swapping spells between general-damage spells and the anti-summon spell Banish, so you may want to save use of this for when there are 4 or more summons around, and get rid of them all at once. You can find spellbooks of this.
Summon Demonic Aide
- This spell summons a Death Knight to serve you. He has a melee attack and a Red Lightning attack. The Rank of the skill determines the level of the Death Knight: DK Level 20/26/32/38/44. There are no spellbooks for this spell, so the player must be at the Death Knight level + 4 to learn that rank. (Rank 1 at level 24, Rank 5 at 48)
This guy does very little damage, so if you were hoping for him to be a damage dealer, forget it. Just use your offensive magic spells instead. Also, I think that there's a bug where if you get him to follow you with the Aura of Command skill, he loses his ability to cast his red lightning, making him even more worthless. But on the other hand, his main use is as a sturdier meat shield, which Aura of Command helps with a lot, especially combined with the shield and healing spells which can be cast on him to increase his endurance.
Master Summoner (Passive)
- Non-animal summoned creatures get a 2/3/4/6/8 level boost. I think that the only summons this doesn't apply to are the rats. I'm not sure if this skill makes summons more useful, but I doubt it. They're only good for distractions anyway.
- Summoned creatures gain 10/20/30/40/50 percent of your abilities. I honestly don't know what this does. Maybe it increases their (hidden) base attributes, or their resistances, or both? This probably doesn't help make summons any better either. I've never built a summoner before (in fact before this LP, I never played a MAGE before.
Class-based Combat Strategies
Wizards are bad at all parts of melee combat, with poor offensive, defensive, and damage bonuses, and they survive best through annihilate-and-run tactics, and careful consideration of spell choice and target. Their Special Move can move them from the middle of a pack to the edge, and their shield spells can also help against regular enemies (boss enemies can power through even a maxed out shield spell in one or two hits). They'll usually be shooting a lot of magic, so they'll regularly consume Restoration potions mid-fight.
The wizard's extensive range of powers has a lot of potential uses. There are self-buffs and shields, for the melee fighters, summons to distract and act as meat shields for the survivor types, and powerful area attacks for the wizards themselves. They are also the only class who can purchase new skills by buying spellbooks from certain stores, or from anyone who randomly has one in their inventory, and those are usually a welcome addition to any character.
Because of the range of elemental attacks, Wizards are the class which is most entertaining to play in the tedious endgame, if they tailor their attacks for their targets instead of using Hell Spikes all the time.