3.0 GENERAL GAME CONSIDERATIONS
Truly an innovation when compared with the crop of weeds that are D&D adventure RPGs. The system for creating characters to populate the party is far more realistic and fluid than arbitrarily assigning points for strength, constitution, dexterity, etc.
Players can create characters and guide them literally from infancy to adventuring age, whether that age be 20, 40, or 60. Players choose the initial physical charteristics, bu they can also determine the skill sets that the characters acquire as they work at various vocations. For instance, life-long soldiers will gain great skill in several weapons types but learn little, if any, alchemical skill. Likewise, monks and nuns tend to grow higher ratings in Virtue, Speak Latin, and Religion but end up with little Stealth or Artifice. Of course, players can create characters that tend to be "jacks-of-all-trades" yet masters of none. The choice is truly up to the player how to mold and shape their creation.
Dennis Ahr: I found that creating characters in Darklands is quite fun -- there are so many variables. Since some of the saints seem to have a gender bias toward girls, it would sometimes seem prudent to have at least one young lass among the party. Girls do start off with greater Endurance and Charisma. The guys start off with -- you guessed it -- greater strength.
Here is a typical party consisting of a charismatic leader, a big, strong, dumb oaf who refuses to die, an alchemist and a religious healer.
Let's take the leader first. He or she must have high charisma, say 29. I will give this person the artifice skill as well, but it could be another in your party. Increase the leader's strength and endurance to some level between 30 and 40. The family background and occupations you choose are what makes character generation so much fun, so you are on your own here. Just look at the changes in attributesas you browse each occupation or family background, and you will get all the hints you need to make a good choice.
The second party member is traditionally the strongest among the party. This fellow could possible be a backup alchemist, although you would have to increase his intelligence. My favorite choice is to make him the perceptive one as well as the strongest.
The third member is usually the alchemist. Increase his intelligence to at least 35 while maintaining strength and endurance > 30.
The fourth member sometimes ends up being almost as strong as the second member. I like to give this member as high a value for healing as he can get along with high religion.
You may or may not want to add a fifth character depending on whether or not you feel it's cheating. If you create a fifth character and let him grow to a ripe old age, he will bring to the party many wonderful (expensive potions). Transfer these potions to your leader and retire the old rascal. Then bring into the party the permanent fourth member and sell the potions. You should be able to generate enough money to buy some semi-decent armor for each member. Of course, you can generate additional veteran members and carry this theme further, but remember that the retiring member will take 1/5 of the party's wealth."
I have seen a couple of posts that talk about combining the priest/healer and the alchemist in one person. I will try that combination to see what happens, but at first blush, I don't think it is a good idea and will result in a very physically weak character -- I like all my chars to work out at least once a day.
From the manual:
Money is counted in three denominations: gold
florins, silver groschen, and silver pfennings.
Because distribution of wealth and wages was so
different, comparisons to modern currency is
impossible. In general, florins were very valuable,
but are used only for large transactions; groschen
are fairly valuable and are in daily use; pfennings
are "small change," important only to the very
Alexander von Lünen: This is obviously of great concern. It is best solved by killing enemies. Not only for a possible reward, but because the equipment you salvage can be sold. So if you are travelling and some bandits want to provide you company, don't refuse even if you think you don't need anymore fighting training. Otherwise, be sure to get yourself hired for jobs. You should ignore the small jobs such as retrieving documents, for they usually demand a long-distance travel and are paid lousy. Raubritters are a cool way to make money (by reward and by loot) and they enhance your local reputation by 20 or more. On the other hand, if a "retrieving-job" or something like that is not out of way, why shouldn't you agree?
One of the many aspects of Darklands that sets it apart from cookie-cutter D&D games is its use of Alchemy, as opposed to magic. With alchemical formulae and their corresponding ingredients, characters can create a variety of potions. The formulae must be learned and the ingredients procured, however. They don't just fall into your lap. Based upon your character's skill, the quality of your philosopher's stone, and some good old-fashined luck, you'll be creating potions in no time. Options to create potions appear when the party has set up camp or taken residence in a city/village inn. From there the character can choose to concoct potions that he has learned.
Alexander von Lünen: First of all, get your Alchemist the best training he or she can get. Training is provided by alchemists in town and at universities. Next thing, get formulas and ingredients. Alchemists in town will trade and sometimes sell formulas. Getting ingredients can be a pain as some stuff is rather rare. Be sure to buy a lot of a rare item once have found it. You'll need a lot of all the kinds of bases. Sanguine Base and sometimes Choleric Base are hard to get. Very important are Aqua Regia (for Thunderbolt potions) and Camomile (for Essence o'Grace), and both are darned hard to find. Below is a list of potions which are in my opinion very useful:
Everything else is depending on one's preference. Arabian Fire and Breath Of Death might be a good choice in combat, too.
Buy ready-made potions only if you haven't got the formula of that potion and you desperately need it. Potions bought in cities have a quality of 25q, while self-made can have 35q-45q! In case of Essence o' Grace, this can make a great difference in restoring strength. A nice occasion for getting new formulas is the witch in the forest. After defeating her, she offers you three formulas for her life (among other options).
C. Michel Boucher: Many rare alchemical items can be obtained from pharmacists' stalls in market squares, universities, and untroubled mines. You also receive a large amount of alchemical material for defeating the knockers. Furthermore, there is a large amount of information on Alchemy in darklist.txt.
C. Michel Boucher: Saints can assist you at various times such as dealing with problems during travelling and also during combat. In the first instance, you can invoke the assistance of a saint to modify the outcome of a potential encounter BEFORE it happens, for example with refugees on the road. Prayer can reveal to you whether there is a trap, giving you the option to avoid contact altogether, should you not wish to involve yourself in combat.
Dennis Ahr: The party needs to have knowledge of certain saints in order to get along comfortably in Medieval Germany. In general, I try to visit the Monks in each town in order to check out the saints available for study. Many saints temporarily increase strength, endurance, weapons skills, armor value, perception, etc. Reading the saint's biography will advise you of the improvements. There are a couple of saints that actually are bad influences; Giles of Portugal is one I can think of. He will permanently decrease strength and endurance.
C. Michel Boucher: The information given on each saint is fairly accurate when dealing with game information. Unfortunately, you can't read that until you've learned about the saint. In the Basic and Standard settings, it isn't necessary to read them carefully as the game will give you the list of saints for each situation, but in the Advanced mode, you must be aware of the characteristics of the saints from reading their blurbs. The info provided in the manual is not really enough, although it does give you the level of virtue required.
Alexander von Lünen: Concerning armour, your best choice early on is chainmail. It's light and has very good protection capabilities. Plate Armour might provide better security but usually only the dumb, strong oaf is endowed with enough strength to wear it without getting overloaded. However, in the beginning you might equip the party members with a less wealthy family background, who came along with poor armour, with some more affordable stuff. Considering the need of protective clothes, you might use Cuirbouilli or Scale Armour in the beginning. Always keep an eye on the weight according to the strength of the character. Here's a short list of armour recommendations:
A good opportunity for getting equipment like armour and weapons is to "salvage" them from vanquished opponents. By "good", I mean "most affordable way." For example, tracking down a Raubritter not only means a reward but also a set of plate armour. But beware: salvaging armour or other equipment usually provides only a quality-level up to 25q. In case of weapons like swords or so, this might be enough, but a 25q armour isn't meant to be a long-lasting joy. Amourer's shops in a town are usually between 25q and 35q. This is only exceeded by gifts or similar bounty (e.g.: rescuing merchants on the road, chests in the Great Monastery or in the mines).
There are some towns, in which certain weaponry and armour can be bought in a better condition then in other cities. Yet, I haven't located them all and unfortunately, I forgot to write them down last time I played Darklands. Maybe someone else can contribute that.
C. Michel Boucher: It is possible to get six sets of 45q armour from the Great Monastery without encountering more than a few bears as opponents.
The route is simple: enter the cemetery, speak the name that opens the gate, fight the demons, enter the building, then go to the right-hand door on the "top" wall (to the far left of where the characters arrive). Inside, there is another door on the right-hand wall and it is necessary to fight some bears. After that, enter the room and walk along the closest right-hand wall.
There is a secret door that leads to a chest (trapped, I believe), that contains six suits of 45q plate armour. You need a character with fairly high artifice, as I recall (if you have the Hanse with you, this is the best solution early on). You can then leave the Great Monastery without encountering resistance and go on adventuring for a while with 45q armour.
Dennis Ahr: The best armor outside of the Great Monastery is always in Nürnburg (37q). The only city with better weapons than Nürnburg (that I have found) is Paderborn (38q). Best overall town for both armor and weapons is Nürnburg; both are 37.
In cities, adventuers can find almost anything for a price. Larger cities usually have a greater selection and higher quality of items. Cities throughout the empire are often linked by roads or waterways and citizens relied on high city walls for protection from foreign armies. Within cities, players can find many common services such as inns, armories, guild halls and the such. However, just like in real life, not every city has every service available.
C. Michel Boucher: Villages lie scattered amongst the country side, consisting of a handful of families. It is in villages that you will find the least expensive housing (but no income) and possibly good blacksmithing. You can sell your acquired weapons and armour.
Gui Terence Ang chimed in:
If you stay in a village (not a city) with the old woman, but only choose to stay overnight at 4pf without selecting the "Take up residence" screen, the stay will cost you nothing. The 4pf is never deducted from your purse. You cannot recover lost strength points, but you can recover endurance points.
Skill acquisition is another way in which Darklands differs from most other games, if only in the sheer number of skills that CAN be learned. Skills differ from attributes in that, while skill can change (usually improved) readily, attributes change very rarely and only then, due to supernatural causes. Skills in Darklands range from 0-99 with 0 being a total newbie in a given skill and 99 representing complete mastery.
C. Michel Boucher: Early on, you can't take on dragons or even raubritters because your skills are not sufficiently developed. Your best bet to increase your skills to a good beginning level for adventuring is to seek out thugs in towns. Since thugs don't come out during the day, you'll have to wander the streets at night. This is dangerous because of the night watches. Always pay the fine. This is the sequence from main street: find a secluded grove; wait for darkness, wait another hour, exit by side street, go to market area.
Generally, at this point, you'll run across a band of thugs. They'll be fairly easy to defeat and it will increase your local reputation slightly, as well as improve your skills. Wander around a bit more and you'll meet another group and so on. Should you run into the night watch, pay the fines and return to the gasthaus whenever you feel you've had enough. If you don't pay the fines, you'll have to flee or fight and in either case, you'll be unable to return to that town. In the morning, seek out the weapons makers and sell the night's catch.
Alexander von Lünen: The easiest way to run into robbers is cycling between the docks and the secluded grove at night. You'll normally meet with robbers each time you change between one of these locations. At minimum, you'll get in contact every time you return to the grove.
Dennis Ahr: My rule of thumb here is not to travel far from the starting town until everyone in the party has a full set of at least leather armor, a weapon upgrade, and several javelins. In order to save money after a night's work dispatching the bad guys, I send my group ouside the city walls to rest and heal -- it's free. If the group is not fortunate to convince the guards to let them enter without paying, then they will try to sneak into the city. Either way, they will gain a modicum of speak common and sometimes stealth. In other words, never pay to enter unless you have to. Leaving the city is a different matter -- never sneak out because its decreases your local reputation.
Once you are lightly armored with adecent weapon and javelins, you can start travelling between towns more safely and really start to gain skills, money and experiences.
Use those javelins as the first line of offense against robbers. Their use will increase everyone's throwing skills and will immediately weaken any robber struck by one. Try to gang up one one robber if possible and go on to the others (this is not always possible). The maximum number of battles per night seems to be 5. If the group survives the night without much "damage," then they are surely ready to leave town for some serious adventuring.
Battles are easier and the booty is less during the early part of the game. Only 4 robbers are encountered in the back alleys initially, but later there may be 5 of the brutes, and they will no doubt be wearing more and better armor. The same thing holds true for battles in the countryside. I have had the temerity to tackle a renegade alchemist fairly early and just sneak by with a victory; the same has been true for raubritters. Later in the game, the raubritters always seem to have more rounds of battles in store before the big guy comes out to fight. I don't know about High Sabats as I have never attempted one of these really early in the game. I don't recommend knocking on the door of the Fortress Monastery early on either.
Alexander von Lünen: A short note on hiring teachers. It's mostly a better choice to hire 'private' teachers rather than those from Universities. I haven't noticed a higher rate of increasing skill/knowledge at University teachers, while they charge you two or three times higher than other will do. For example, if you are in Prag and hire a teacher at the University, he will take 90pfs for alchemical instruction, while the local Alchemist is hireable for only 26pfs (prices may vary, relations stay the same) !)
This abstract quality is the general point of the game. As stated by your leader in the opening dialogue, you set out to find adventure, rid the land of evil, and bring everlasting fame to your names. This rating is measured numerically and comes in two flavors: general fame and local reputation.
General fame tends to follow you around and affects your dealings with people from one end of the empire to the other. For instance, depending on your fame in doing good or evil, local lords treat you with respect or contempt.
Local reputation, however, influences your interactions within specific cities. Potential employers take your local reputation into consideration when asking for freelance jobs and city guards may nor may not recognize your name when they stop you for whatever reason.
With 0 as the starting point (unknown), these attributes either rise or fall, based on your actions. The amount they change varies with the magnitude of your actions, as well.
Alexander von Lünen: Some folk won't give you jobs, until your popularity has grown. While it is easier to get jobs at the Fugger, Medici and Hanse when you have high reputation, it's nearly impossible to get jobs at town halls or fortresses without such (but I pointed out previously that it might not be desirable anyway). Town leaders or fortress chiefs won't give you an audience if you're too low on reputation. Other merchants like the "everyday-items", the "foreign-trader" and the herbalist will offer jobs, too, from time to time, if you're a well-known party. Instructions for this are short: Do everything to increase your reputation, preferably by going after raubritters in their castles, and knockers in mines. These encounters occur quite often and improve your reputation by an appreciable amount.
Even in 14th century Europe, people had to work to earn money that they could use to buy goods that they themselves could not provide. In Darklands, "getting a job" implies everything from staying in an inn and working for daily wages to slaying a local raubritter at the behest of the Alt Herr.
C. Michel Boucher: The best way to get jobs is to visit the various interested parties in a town: Fugger, Medici, Hanseatic League, town leader, leading merchant, pawnshop owner. These will often have tasks to perform, three types in general: dealing with raubritters, recovering stolen articles, recovering lost articles. Each of these has a specific method of dealing with the problem. The amount of money you will be offered won't appear to be much but it's enough, if you keep your expenses down by travelling overland.
Alexander von Lünen: Success in getting jobs is only likely with the Fugger, the Medici and the Hanse in the beginning, which means it is uncertain. The merchants, the herbalist and the town leader will only offer you tasks if your reputation is high enough. Note that town leaders and Dukes in a city's fortress won't pay for the job; success only increases your local reputation, which is achieved through other jobs too (but paid more accurately ;-) ). So you'd better leave the town halls and fortresses alone and check out the marketplaces.
Jerry Hagen wrote in with a correction:
Thanks for a well-designed, exhaustive FAQ. I did find one error...It is mentioned in the section on "getting jobs" that town leaders do not pay for the successful accomplishment of their tasks. This is incorrect. If you successfully accomplish a task for a town leader, look at your money total before and after you talk with him. You'll find that you have received between 20 and 40 florins as a reward, although the text doesn't tell you that...By the way, I'm running v483.07.
Dennis Ahr: One way to enhance the chances of getting a job is to enhance the group's local reputation with a saint. My favorite is Cecilia, because praying to her will increase the local reputation in every city. Her only requirement is that the person praying must own a musical instrument.
C. Michel Boucher: One easy way to get help is to keep pumping the Hansards for employment. Eventually, one will offer to send a young knight with you for assistance in dealing with a raubritter. If you accept, which you should, you can perform a number of more difficult tasks with an extra pair of hands. Tryto keep these additions until you really need them. If you perform the task as specified right away, the young Hanse will leave you when you next exit the city of his employer, or if you're travelling by river, when you exit a city next (which is to say that he will accompany you until you exit through any city gates). Eventually the young Hanse will leave you, so try to organize your tasks in order to take advantage of his presence right away. This of course also makes it difficult to determine whether you should be spending money to equip the knight or not, or to improve his skills. The conservative approach would be to use his services and part with him. As he is not a permanent member of your party, you need not worry that he will take a share upon leaving. He NEVER offers to stay beyond his "appointed time".
Dennis Ahr: In addition to the hanse offered for raubritter quests, the group may find in one of the small villages a Mayor who will consent to travel with the group in pursuit of an infamous raubritter. The hanse or town mayor who comes with the group on a raubritter quest will always stay one year. Make sure the group gets all the stuff he's carrying before saying adios.
C. Michel Boucher: Shouldn't that be "auf weidersehen"? :-) I've also encountered once the leader of the miners who offers to join you in defeating the knockers. But I've never been able to repeat that.
C. Michel Boucher: In the beginning of the game, you will have to travel by land. Except for a few minor exceptions, this is the cheapest, but most time consuming way of travelling.
When travelling across the map, you will encounter all sorts of creatures. The main ones are bandits, boars and wolves, which can all be dispatched. You may also run across tatzelwurms, hellhounds, schrats and the Wild Hunt. If you have a chance to assist a schrat being hunted, do so. He will give you a gift that will be of benefit to you. Any endurance lost during these combats can be recovered in an overnight camp. To recover a fair amount of lost strength, it is best to go to a town and lodge at an inn. The healthy members can earn a little money to help defray the costs while the unhealthy members can recover.
C. Michel Boucher: Once your wealth improves, you can travel by water. This is costly compared to travelling by land (usually a few groschen), but will get you places much faster (in terms of player time, if not "real" time). For example, you can get from Speyer to Dresden or from Breslau to Flensburg by town hopping. Sometimes, you are lucky and upon arriving at a town, you can just continue on to a further destination without increasing the initial cost of transportation. Sometimes you have to wait a few days by taking on odd jobs (and checking the wharves every day for outgoing ships).
Alexander von Lünen: This depends on your opponent. While town robbers and cutthroat-thieves may be just wiped away like nothing without any particulary strategy, other foes may take a great deal of tactical considerations. First rule is, only hunt what you can kill. Be sure your characters can take care ofthemselves. If necessary, "train" them by searching out robbers in town. It might be a good idea to put your weaker characters in the first row or even let them fight alone if facing such "training fights". At stronger enemies, even when your party appears strong, you should use all your fighting skills. That means using missile-, bow-, and alchemical-weapons at long-distance and good weapons at mêlée. Use the full bandwith of your Alchemist. Let him (her) throw potions at longer-distance and use healing potions on your seriously wounded party-members.
The Thunderbolt potion is an excellent all-round alchemical piece (see below), a Stone-Tar potion is of use when you are outnumbered by the enemies and you need to slow down their approach. In buildings or dungeons (mines) put your stronger characters in the first row. Enemies often show up after opening a door. While two of your party (of course the strong ones) block the doorway and engage the foe in mêlée, the rest of your party can shoot at them with their missile weapons. I made a scene:
x x x ---------------------|x x|----------------- o o o o o x = Your party o = Enemies - = Wall ||= Door
With this technique, I managed the Great Monastery quite well, this constellation occurs pretty often there. Another thing of which you should take care, is the "I-haven't-been-harmed-so-I-won't-engage!" attitude of your characters. This means, as long as a party-member hasn't been attacked, he (she) won't attack either. This might not be useful, especially if you're meeting a foe who comes alone, but is hard to fight for one character, like the Wild Hunt or a demon. So make sure, all characters have been assigned to a target.
Fred Farzanegan: Darkland's excellent battle engine is real-time, but allows you to halt a battle and change strategies on the fly. You are basically a quarterback, giving instructions to your players individually. Your characters are not dumb, however, once they defeat their opponent, they move on to the next. If they are hurt, they try to retreat. This engine is the best I've seen in a game, giving the advantages of both real-time and turn-based combat... the ultimate armchair-warriors battleground!
Fighting strategy. I use two or three sword swingers to intercept attacking enemies. My weaker characters remain in the background and throw darts and potions, fire bows, crossbows, and guns. I also have plenty of stone tar to slow down large groups of opponents. High bow and throwing ability lets you use this strategy well.
Since guns fire so slowly and are soheavy, only my fighters carry them, and fire an initial volley, potentially killing some enemies before the first blow is struck. These swingers then enter the fray, armored well enough to withstand the hand-to-hand onslaught. I try to position them in such a way that no enemies get past them. While this is going on, my back characters with high skills fire between my front-line characters. If a strong opponent gets past the sword-jocks, I lead them on a merry little chase around the battlefield by having my weak characters move around just out of reach. When my fighters have dispatched their unworthy opponents, they intercept the pursuer.
The most important tip I have for fighting is to gang-up on opponents. Try to isolate enemies and beat on them without mercy. The trick is that a fighter can only defend against ONE opponent. The others basically get free shots. What I try to do is get my highest-armored character to pick an opponent and fight normally, and have my weaker characters beserk the enemy who can't defend himself. This allows battles to end very quickly. A modification of this is to have all your bow/gun shooters shoot the same opponent and kill him before he gets into the fray. This is a quick way to even out a fight. As soon as one is killed, begin shooting another. Remember that bow/gun firing characters won't automaticly pick the next target- they may begin hand-to-hand, or just mill-around!
Of course, the gang-up strategy can be used by the enemy to quickly take down one of your characters. Beware of being surrounded by enemies.
Fighting with Potions: At the start of a battle, the enemy may be entering the battlefield at a small entrance. Immediately throw several stone-tar potions in his *expected* path, as there's a lag in how quickly your potions get tossed. Always use the highest quality stone-tar (45q). It is MUCH better at slowing down opponents than the others. Once your enemies are stuck, I use exploding and irritation potions to weaken them. NOTE: Be very careful of these potions. If you throw them in the vicinity of your own characters, they will be injured as well.
The above strategies are for slower-moving and human opponents in open areas. Faster moving opponents and tight passages don't really allow these strategies. A single volley may be all that can be fired before engaging the enemy. The only advice is try to gang up on enemies when possible.
C. Michel Boucher: These characteristics vary a lot from one group to another, but I'm not sure what effect it actually has on combat.
Ordinary Humanity - Rather than show all the possible variations, let's say that humans of all ilk usually wear leather, padded or scale in the 10-15q range and will have weapons ranging from 5q (for city bandits) to under 15q for Sergeants of the guard. Raubritters will have a good weapon (25q) and also good armour (V Plate and L Chain, 20q). Expect to find 25q items in chests in raubritters' towers. Knights Templar appear below.
The values which appear below are not fixed in any given event (except for weapon quality where given). The ones given here are intended as examples, not fixed values.
Beasts and Monsters:
Human servants of Evil - Rather than show all the possible variations, let's say that human servants of Evil usually wear leather, padded or scale inthe 10-15q range and will have weapons ranging from 5q (for villagers) to under 20q for Schulzen and cultists. High witches will have a good weapon (30q) and very good potions, although none are likely to survive the combat.
Human servants of Evil at Great Monastery - These have armour and weapons in the 20-25q range. Alchemists are weaker.
Evil Minions at the Citadel of the Apocalypse
If one character grows too old, get rid of him. Just be aware of the situation. If preparing yourself for a greater mission, it might not a good idea to drop a character which is rich in experience and skill, just lacking strength and endurance. New characters have to be trained all over again to reach such a skill and experience. However, a character above the age of 40 should be designated for retirement.
The README.TXT for v483.07 that comes from Microprose has this to say:
Characters can temporarily retire at any city inn.
You can later return and invite them to rejoin the
party once more. However, when anyone joins an
existing party, be they an old friend or someone new,
they come with NO equipment, just their knowledge.
Therefore, before retiring someone, cache their
equipment at that inn.
It's possible to keep on playing Darklands after you've accomplished all major and minor tasks, just as it is mentioned in readme.txt of the game. Perhaps you'll simply get tired of doing everything all over again, and your characters have suffered too much because of age. So one might prefer to start a completely new game and try out some completely new strategy rather than going on in the same way (regardless of the fact that you could create new characters within the running game, retire all the old ones and keep playing with a new party (but old fame) and try new things by this as well).
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