The Book of Arcane Knowledge

Builds, forms, talents and powers

-- by Xakarii

«« Basic tips for the freshly classed

Though it might not be readily apparent, mages are very versatile in terms of combat. There are quite a few interesting routes, some more effective than others against certain opponents. (A caster might slay a huge troll with terrible energy soak and a melee mage might devastate a giant with great elemental immunity, but the other way around both would likely be crushed or at least thwarted.)

The two main decisions you must make are whether or not to incorporate melee combat and compromise magic Power/Ascendancy for physical Damage/Attack, and whether you wish to fight as a human form mage or in an alternate form (fire, water, earth, air or raw energy).

The advantages to human form include the possibility of using a mount or boots with greater speed than typical human form movement and more free powers for a wider array of spells and abilities.

The advantages to alternate forms include a greater amount of physical/poison immunity (10% +2% per rank) and a significant amount (55%) to the corresponding damage type, as well as greater movement speed except in Earth Form (30% physical/poison +1% per rank and you don't float, go figure).

  • Air Magic includes a variety of spells including Mystic Armour and Windblast in addition to shock based spells, as well as increased duration for air based spell affects.
  • Form of Air requires that you use weapons and equipment that weigh no more than 1 encumbrance.
  • Fire Magic increases your range, Ascendancy and Power with fire based spells and gives you access to fire based spells with greater ranks such as Fireball, Immolate, Burning fury, Firestorm, Fireblade, and Fire shield.
  • Form of Fire provides you with greater Ascendancy and Power per rank and you can only wear equipment that can withstand high temperatures.
  • Water Magic provides greater range, Ascendancy and Power with water based spells, and unlocks new water based spells such as Frost, Iceblade, Icestorm, and Iceshield. It also allows you to regrow hands at rank 15.
  • Form of Water provides 1 Speed per rank and you may only wear equipment that can float in water.
  • Earth Magic provides greater range, Ascendancy and Power per rank for earth based spells and increased duration for earth based spell affects. These spells are mainly defensive.
  • Earth Form increases Damage, Resistance and health per rank. A hearty form for melee dependant mages that need to get in close to an enemy to deal damage. Also has no brain or blood so Mindblast, Blood boil and bleed damage shouldn't hurt a bit.
  • Mind Magic provides greater range, Ascendancy and Power per rank for mental based spells and increased duration for mental spell affects.
  • Elemental Infusion is a power geared toward casters, which requires 10 ranks in a magic type and grants armour and bypass per rank in that type of damage, but also provides immunity in human form. Note that these bonuses are doubled with the corresponding adept talent.

Some support powers are not tied to a specific build:

  • Elemental Binding allows you to add specific types of soak or chance of burst to equipment. It also makes it easier to wear equipment in your alternate forms. (For example Form of Fire requires you to wear temperature resistant equipment. Fire binding increases fire resistance and allows you to wear equipment you normally couldn't.)
  • Enchantment: Another power that isn't very build specific. Anyone with radiation to spare can benefit from being able to enchant magical bonuses onto their equipment which range from basic stats on collars to decreased action point expenditure on weapons to increased attack or defence on bracers/rings. Enchanting 1 durability on nonmagical items makes them magical and allows them to repair themselves over time. If you have elementals, you might want to enchant something on nonmagical equipment if you don't have a full set for yourself.
  • Animal Familiar allows you to summon a familiar to aid you in ways such as player-detection, health bonuses and a chance of causing a monster to drop two items instead of one.
  • Water/Fire/Earth/Air Elemental gives you a pet whose strength is based on your ranks in these powers. They can have equipment put on them with the put command (they can wear more equipment than any other pet) and follow orders as any other pet. They aren't very proficient with weapons, but can easily distract mobs or players long enough to give you a chance to do some damage or flee. Increased ranks unlock more talents and powers. Their ranks in the corresponding magic types and elemental infusion are equal to your own.
  • Conjure Soulblade is a power for those who like to get up close and personal in a fight. It gives you the ability to 'conjure' a blade of primal energy, requiring 10 ranks in Mind Magic to hold it together. It can take on many elemental forms, each also requiring 10 ranks in the appropriate magic type.

And so we come to age 200 powers. You may only invest in one of these powers at any one time as they are mutually exclusive.

  • Ascension requires 20 ranks in Elemental Infusion and provides a great potential variety of bypass/armour per rank. Your ranks in the five magic types determine what kind of bonuses are applied. When you invest in a magic type and Ascension, the lower of the two determines the bonuses granted. (I.e. 20 ranks in Earth Magic and 20 ranks in Ascension would grant twice as much bypass/armour than 20 ranks in Ascension and only 10 ranks in Earth Magic.)
  • Enlightenment requires 20 ranks of Mind Magic and is comparable to rage in that it provides bonuses for a set duration and incurs penalties for 30 seconds after the duration expires. You can increase the duration of these bonuses with increased ranks in Enlightenment and/or Mind Magic. These bonuses include Attack/Damage per rank, Ascendancy/Power per rank, Defence/Protection per rank, Speed/movement per rank, and Resistance/health per rank and can be alternated between for the duration of the power.
  • Immanence requires 20 ranks in an elemental form, and strengthens your elemental form by granting bonuses of all the forms save the immunities. Your ranks in Immanence determine the bonuses if the elemental form power is greater. Increased ranks lower the time it takes to shapechange and allow you to shapechange directly between forms.
  • Transcendence requires 20 ranks in Mind Magic and allows you to become a being of pure energy with complete immunity to poison, 30% flat immunity to other damage types combined with 1% per rank (up to 20 ranks) more. This power also grants you natural armour against all damage types per rank, and more natural armour for each rank in each of the magic types. In addition your speed cap and movement are increased, and Attack, Ascendancy, Defence, Protection, Damage, Power, Resistance and Speed are each slightly increased with each rank. While in this form, you may only wield or wear ethereal equipment or magically summoned equipment.

As far as talents and stats go, there's a good many options depending on how you want to defend yourself and how you want to do damage.

  • Defensive: To defend yourself as a mage, you can choose talents like Strong Magical Shields, Enhanced Deflection, Instinctive Dodge, Rapid Shield Block, Evasion, or Armour Proficiency with Heavy Armour Expert. A caster that specializes in ranged combat of course would likely benefit more from Strong Magical Shields and Enhanced Deflection or Instinctive Dodge than from Evasion, Heavy Armour Expert or Rapid Shield Block.
  • General: If you wish to improve your Attack, Defence, Ascendancy, Power, Damage, Resistance or Speed, you can get a great boost through Serenity and the appropriate style mastery, as well as from Mind Magic and Martial Gnosis. Serenity gives greatly increased style bonuses. Martial Gnosis gives additional stats based on your ranks in Mind Magic.
  • Callings: The main mage lesser callings include Flameborn Adept, Waterborn Adept, Earthborn Adept and Windborn Adept. Each of these unlocks spells and increases the bypass and effective rank of the corresponding magic type.
Note: Alternatively, you might choose a lesser calling of another class, if you can find a use for it (they require the heritage talent and many have class specific bonuses, such as Devil Spawn which doesn't do much of anything for a mage.) Dragon blooded and Blue/Red/White Dragon Descendant are helpful for the ability to fly and extra elemental bypass.

As a caster, it's probably in your interest to increase your Ascendancy, Power, Speed and Defence through training Tenacity and Wits while hoping for Aura. Also an increased movement speed, whether it's through boots, a mount or form, is advisable as you've no need to stand within range of physical attacks when you can stay back and blast your foes with ranged elemental damage.

Should you go the route of physical damage, it's wise to pump your Wits and Grace for the defence needed to prevent unsustainable amounts of damage from other classes and ensure your attacks do decent amounts of damage or burst effectively.

If you invest in Elemental Binding, a good weapon is an accurate weapon. Your bursts are potentially devastating to the unprepared opponent and your lack of Brawn can be made up for by the second round of damage from a critical attack's burst. It might be worth investing in Rapid Shield Block and an enchanted shield of defence if you take up a bound weapon or soulblade. Alternatively, you can assist or dual wield in order to maximize damage. Serenity is also greatly beneficial to a mage specializing in certain areas such as Damage, Attack, Defence, or Speed, because the bonuses granted by Serenity are percentage based and become increasingly more effective with greater secondary stats.

You may find Form of Earth a good investment, as it provides greater protection from physical damage, and Earthborn Adept for greater crush bypass.

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