A Sorcerer's Guide to GemStone III
By Lord Manny
"A Wizard learns of fire and ice, a Sorcerer learns of pain and fear ..." - Lord Manny
Part I: Character Generation and Training
I stress being versatile, with multiple attack options. This is not the only approach! Now, having said that ...
Sorcerers are a hybrid that have access to both the Spirit and Elemental circles. You will not be as good with spirit spells as a cleric, or as good with elemental spells as a wizard. Your advantage comes from having access to both Circles. To succeed you must plan your character out carefully for at least the first 20 levels. Take advantage of your versatility, it is your main strength.
Realize that your skills cost more development points than for other spell users. To compensate, you need to get as many developmental points as you can, especially mental points. Of the ten numbers rolled, the first three are weighted to be above 60, and the last is completely random. Keep rolling until you get at least one number over 90, and the other three over 75. Preferably, you'd like one in the high 90's, one at or slightly below 90, and the rest over 80. If possible (time and money permitting), also try not to get anything in the 20's on the remaining rolls. This may take about an hour of rolling, I'm not certain on the time with the different service providers, I know that number generators are available for both the Genie and AOL front end.
Different stats are used to calculate mental and physical development points. However, the Discipline and Aura are used to calculate both. Therefore you want to place that high 90's roll into Discipline, and that 90 roll into aura. Aura is used for mana, so we want this very high. Sorcerers get +10 to both Aura and Wisdom, so it is a waste to put in a number over 90 into either. This approach helps insure you the highest possible number of development points and mana. As to were to place the other rolls, here is were it gets harder. You have to take into consideration your characters race (and the racial modifiers) and how you intend to role-play.
I could tell you what race to choose and what order to place your stats in, and if you followed all of my advice you would have a very successful charachter. That wouldn't mean you would enjoy role-playing that charachter though! This is your charachter and you are the person who has to be happy with the end result! Thats the reason why instead of stating lists I prefer to tell you about the design choices you have and let you choose something you feel comfortable with.
Basically, you have a bit of a dilemma. Sorcerer spells tend to use more mana, and miss more often, than their Wizard counterparts. You will be relying on your sword arm for as many as your first 30 levels, far longer than Wizards. It is therefore tempting to place high numbers into your physical stats, like Strength. However, as you age, the physical becomes much less important - and you find out that you really would have rather placed those higher rolls into your mental areas were you need them when your older. This is something everyone must decide for themselves.
I suggest trying to make do with as low a physical stat as you feel comfortable with. Plan for the long term and realize that your first 20 years will be tough going. Remember that racial modifiers seem to affect stat increase rates. (i.e. if a race gets a bonus in the stat it seem to go up quicker, if it gets a penalty it seems to go up slower.)
Generally though, Dexterity affects your ability to hit with elemental spells. I favor placing a number over 50 here, preferable as high as you can spare! Sorcerer's eventually learn the equivalent of a "fireball" on the minor spirit list which will benefit from this stat. We also have access to some of the Wizard spells through the use of wands. This adds an extra dimension to the class. Logic and Intelligence affect how much experience your mind can absorb and how fast it gets absorbed. Sorcerers, historically, are lousy experience earners - so these are good places to dump those low numbers. Wisdom and Aura used to be averaged together to calculate mana points under the previous Rolemaster based magic system, which is why most older sorcerers have a high wisdom. The new system (which your playing) uses only Aura when determining how much mana you currently have. Therefore there currently isn't much need for a high Wisdom (this may change!). Reflex influences your physical defenses, so try to keep this a positive bonus number. ;)
Numbers assigned, your ready for training. This is really rather simple.
Twice per level:
Always learn two spells per level. At level two, you should have the first two spells in each of the three circles (spirit, elemental, and sorcerer). After this - and until you reach level 30, you should learn one spell from the sorcerer circle and one spell from the elemental circle. You may save unused training points to get a third spell every now and then from the spirit circle if you wish.
The sorcerer circle provides you with most of your offensive spells, the elemental with most of your defensive spells. While the spirit circle is tempting, you need to look to your defenses first. At level 30, you can switch to one sorcerer circle spell and one spirit circle spell per level.
Once you have both the spirit and elemental circles learned to the 30th level (a 'lil over level 50 usually), you may want to consider doubling in the sorcerer circle, too really enhance your offensive abilities. This is because the new magic system uses how many spells you know from within a circle when calculating your ability to hit.
Spell Aiming: I stress versatility for sorcerers, which means having as many attack forms available as possible. This lets you hit as hard with an elemental spell as a wizard, you can get the spells in wands, and you will eventually learn one!
Once per level:
Shield use: Increases your physical defenses. Will parry missile attacks someday.
Physical Training: You need to increase your health points! When you are maxed out (different races having different maximums) keep studying as the excess helps increase the rate at which health points are recovered. This feature is implemented, and that increased recovery rate makes a difference.
Edged or Crushing weapons - pick one category and stick with it. There will come a time when you may stop studying weapon use, but for the first 30 levels or so you must have it.
Mana Sharing: This skill is actually used by at least two sorcerer spells, and the command. Always train in this at least once. Never stop training in it. The higher the better.
Scroll Reading: Very useful. Can be skipped every now and then but generally try to train in this once per level.
Item use: Activates things like wands and rods! Goes hand in hand with spell aiming. This can also be occasionally skipped. Once you find you can easily activate any wand or item in the game, you may want to consider stopping. Older players will still dump a few points into this every now and then in case they find one of those unique magic items that requires a higher level of training. Personal choice of when, if ever, to stop.
Armor: Train 4 times by level 25-30. You will be wearing AsG5, leather tunic, for all of your early life. Just 4 trainings will allow you to wear AsG6, which adds arm protection and is about 1%-2% more effective on average against attacks. Using anything better armor-wise incurs a spell failure roll. This % to have a spell fail due to wearing these better armors is unacceptable, given the mana intensive nature of sorcerer spells. Statistically the improvement by switching from AsG5 to AsG6 is minor so there are players who stay with AsG5 for thier entire lives, but the way I see it every 'lil bit helps.
Perception: Try to train once every other level. This skill has a variety of uses, and you'll need the skill to get into some areas of the game.
Climbing: As much as you can spare. Some areas of the game require some training to enter. There is no agreement on what the minimum recommended training is amongst players. I believe 4 times by level 25 a good minimum, though more is certainly better. Try for 10 ranks if you can squeeze it in.
Swimming: Same comment as climbing
First Aid: Usually skipped by alot of players, but if you can spare the points this really comes in handy when you have trained 10 or more times in it (allows use of the <NAME> FULL> command). Also, the command for bleeding wounds, the skinning skill modifier for getting pelts from dead critters (which you then sell at the furriers for cash), etc.
There you have it. My ideas on sorcerer design. The end result is not a specialist, but someone who is well balanced and capable of doing a great many things. This character always has an option or two to use. It's how I'd do it, at any rate. Others may have their own ideas.
Part II: Spells
Pain and Fear are a sorcerers tools. Sorcerer spells generally do not kill quickly. That is, "death crits" are few and far between, if they even exist at all for a given spell. A sorcerer kills primarily through Health Point loss. Health Point loss can be caused by bleeding, pain, disease, etc. In game terms, this means you will be in combat with a critter for a considerable amount of time. The critter will get several attempts to do mean and nasty things to you. You therefore have to worry about your defenses.
Currently, one of the primary characteristics of the sorcerer class is the ability to hunt with his spells at stance guarded. This may or may not be the case for future sorcerers! As the engagement system (which will allow for ranged attacks and the introduction of bows, etc.) gradually gets put into place, the spell systems will get tweaked. Expect change.
How you decide to fight will be the biggest influence in your choice of what spell circle(s) to study. Basically:
Minor Elemental Circle: Currently best for weapon using sorcerers. Excellent defensive spells and very useful utility spells, such as disarm and unlock (so you can cash in on all those coffers you keep finding).
Minor Spirit Circle: The first three spells are required defensive spells for any sorcerer. Airwall (spell #102) offers good defense and is the second best spell in the game against bows and thrown weapons (when they get implemented). The remaining spells are good, though not as useful as the minor elemental circle.
Sorcerer Circle: The first two spells, Blood Burst and Mana Disruption, are the cornerstone of the sorcerer list. Afterwards, there isn't a decent spell until you learn Curse (at 15th). By decent I mean one that you will use constantly on your hunting trips. The 3rd through 14th level spells, while little used, are very good for the most part. The 15th through 20th level spells on the list are rather well designed and will form the basis of an older sorcerer's attack routine.
Lets look at the sorcerer spell circle in detail:
Blood Burst: An excellent spell that can see you to lord level and then some. Blood Burst only works on living critters, not the unlife. It causes a critter to suffer a level 1 bleeding wound (loosing 1-2 Health Point's per round) for each successful cast. You may as well know that healers aren't the only ones who get to learn what level the different types of wounds are ;) Unfortunately, bleeding spells are best when soloing and poorest for group hunts. More on this important point later.
Mana Disruption: Currently uses the impact crit table and as such is lousy against armored critters. It takes more casts to kill armored critters in the newer UNIX GemStone than it did under the older Mark III system. A disruption crit table is in the works at which should hopefully fix this spell. This is the young sorcerers basic attack spell.
Forget: The 15 second duration is to small to be of any general use. This spell is useful only in a few highly specialized situations. I found it good for soloing wraiths in the few rare instances were the area was empty.
Phase: An interesting concept, but one that is poorly implemented. You can only phase through a door or portal if it can be opened by any player (using the OPEN and CLOSE verbs). Having a lock on the door (regardless of whether the door is unlocked or not) will prevent phase from working. This spell can also be cast at a chest or coffer, and if you don't leave your hand inside there is a small chance you may pull out something. Unfortunately this spell can take literally hours to empty out a chest or coffer and there is no way of knowing if the chest or coffer is actually empty. To my knowledge, every sorcerer who ever made it this far up the base list has complained about phase. On a positive note, phase can be used to detect glyph traps on containers with a 100% accuracy rate. Obviously, this spell is on the "to be tweaked someday" list.
Breaklimb: Causes a level 2 bleeding wound on the critter. Otherwise similar to Blood Burst.
Mind Jolt: Causes a short duration stun the length of which is determined by the amount the targets CS roll was failed by. Not as good as the spirit circle stun spell in which the duration is level based (X seconds per level), but costs much less mana to use, so the spells are balanced.
Eye Spy: A good spell for it's mana expenditure. It is the closest thing a sorcerer gets to the Wizard's Call Familiar spell. It is very limited in it's abilities, but can be used to cast the level 17 Evil Eye Spell at range. Remember to always have the eye return to you before the spell duration wears off or you'll have a missing eye and be in a 10 round stun!
Pain Infliction: Causes a temporary, non-cumulative, 25% Health Point loss in the target. The Health Point loss lasts about two minutes.
Quake: An Illusion of an earthquake. Gets random knock downs as critters loose their balance. Good for role playing and little else as it is too unreliable in it's outcome to use reliably against critters. You also don't see a message saying falls, thus further degrading its usefulness.
Energy Maelstrom: Effects everything in the room except the caster and his or her group. It may get changed so that it will not harm other players. Causes lots of short stuns and some Health Point loss. It will get a death crit every now and then. This spell is useful if you want to clear out a room as most critters (but not all) will run away from this spell. Look for this spell to be converted into a defensive spell (loosing its ability to affect the entire room) once the Engagement system (ES) gets implemented. In its proposed defensive form, the energy storm rages around the caster and only affects critters trying to engage him or her. So while no actual defensive bonus will be received by the player, it will provide protection in other, more unpleasant (to the critters) ways.
Limb Disruption: Causes a level 3 bleeding wound. Otherwise similar to Blood Burst.
Throes of Pain: Causes a permanent 25% loss of a critters currently existing HP's. The effect of repetitive casting is cumulative.
Nightmare: A very good spell but expensive to use. It has very good role playing potential. I believe everyone should know what their worst nightmare is :)
Life Burst: Unimplemented, uses Mana Sharing skill to convert a portion of the casters spirit levels into an attack upon a target.
Curse: Actually several spells in one. The effect (type of curse) depends on the caster's stance. Mana intensive but effective.
Disease: A visual treat. Can be quite effective if the target fails it's roll by a substantial amount. Not for the weak of stomach. It can kill but it may take some time to do so.
Evil Eye: Basically similar to the Fear spell used by many undead critters. When cast at a fellow player character it can even send you running back to the town gates :) It can be cast through an Eye Spy spell. On the down side, you normally don't get to search the critters for loot with this spell - they are too busy running away. Very good role playing potential here.
Torment: Will kill the target if it doesn't kill the caster first. A demonic force attacks the target until the target makes a resistance roll, then the force attacks the caster until he or she makes a resistance roll, and so on back and forth until someone dies or the force get tired and leaves. It is very hazardous to the casters health. This spell does not get the usage it once did since it was changed into its current, more lethal form. Bottom line: it is now very dangerous to the caster. Have a cleric in your group if you intend to use it on a regular basis.
Dark Catalyst: This spell converts a portion of a targets mana into an attack and sends some mana back to the caster as a bonus! The casters Mana Sharing skill is a very important factor with this spell. Sorcerers can benefit from having their Mana Sharing skill over 100. I consider this a sorcerer's primary attack spell, once they've the mana to use it.
Implosion: A rift which sucks the air out of a several rooms doing terrible things to anything and anyone not in the casters group. This spell may get changed so that is will not harm other players. Try countering it with an Airwall spell (spell #102) should you encounter one. Actually, some of the best coding for this spell occurs should a player character get sucked in to his or her doom. You should try to experience it once.
Demonic Summoning: Unimplemented, will someday summon a demon. This creature is rumored to be hard to control, so caster beware! Demons will hunt the caster down if you loose control of them.
Demonic Banishing : Unimplemented, this is the one you use to get rid of the demons that you have lost control of before they hunt you down and ...
Part III: Role Playing the Sorcerer
Remember that GemStone III does not use the concept of having a set alignment with regards to good/evil, order/chaos. Some games, such as Dungeons and Dragons, require you to choose an alignment and then force you to rigidly adhere to it. GemStone III, like RoleMaster and various other game systems, recognizes that character personalities (and human nature) are far to complicated to be restricted in such a fashion. Rather, it is how you role-play your character that will determine how you will be perceived in the game by your fellow players.
The key to role-playing a characters personality is to be consistent. Stay in character! If you have to discuss game mechanics or last weeks football game, use whispers or find someplace private so you don't disrupt others.
Outstanding role-playing may even occasionally earn you an experience award or such. If you are always in character the chances of getting noticed for one of these awards goes up. Even if you never get an award, role-playing is fun! People play this game to have fun, and it is difficult for those around you to stay in character if you are trying to discuss out of character (OOC) matters! Try to stay in character as best you can. Even when soloing.
As you decide on how to role-play your character, remember that GemStone III is a family game with just about every age group represented. Please watch the language, and recall that Player Vs Player (PvP) violence is frowned upon. I have known of accounts who have been locked out of the game as a result of abusive behavior. Always remember everyone is in this game to have fun - and fun is not had at the expense of others! In fact, most older players can only survive and advance by cooperating. The game is designed that way on purpose, and you will save yourself much grief if you accept this. Those players who want nothing but a PvP hack and slash experience eventually give up on GemStone III and move on to other games. So after the first few levels the trash leaves and things get better for the players that remain. Just hang in there.
There are many approaches towards role-playing your character. Think of it as acting. Some people need to generate a detailed character background before they can act the part. Some just jump into the role with no preparation. Both methods are correct. The important thing is to enjoy yourself!
One of the biggest hurdles to playing a sorcerer character is the large amount of time that is spent soloing to advance levels. Young sorcerers make lousy group hunters. This is due to the experience formula which gives the most experience to the person who scores the most Health Point damage. Sorcerers slowly whittle away at their prey, and simply can't keep up when causing Health Point loss. Just read the descriptions of the bleeding spells above if you need this point reinforced.
In my opinion, the inability to effectively participate in a group when young is one of two reasons why most first time sorcerers reroll. I think of it as a frustration factor. Sorcerers are very weak when young, and don't really come of age until well past their 30th training or so. They are the last class to mature into effective killing machines. Sorcerery, above all else, requires patience.
The second reason, in my opinion, is that some folks desiring a PvP environment think of sorcerers as ultimate killing machines. They see some level 50 sorcerer do mean and terrible things to a level 1 critter during a spell demonstration and go "Woah!". They eventually come to realize that sorcerers are better against critters than other equivalently leveled players, it is the way the spells are coded. Folks fitting into this category tend to reroll as wizards once they understand the game mechanics behind the spell systems, as wizards are more affective against other players than sorcerers, given equivalent character levels. Eventually though, they get disgusted over the non-PvP, cooperative nature of GemStone III and leave the game (or get locked out for being abusive players). The game benefits from their leaving. They are not missed.
Remember that not all sorcerers are evil. Several in the game are what would be called "good". When I was faced with this choice, one late night in the midst of a Jolt shortage, I found that this is were not having an alignment system comes in handy. It occurred to me that one of the possible outcomes to role-playing a "insane" evil sorcerer character is that he turns out to be "good", and that this might be more fun to role-play than your traditional good character routines.
I role-play a sorcerer character who is generally considered to have a few screws loose by his friends . He is also generally considered good by most of the folks he meets . Granted, he has trouble finding hunting partners unless they've very strong stomachs, but then I am a sorcerer . Some folks after a hunt even refer to me as evil. Now not everyone should generate their own version of Manny the Mad, besides - you'd have to get your own tickling feather if you did, but it's one example of how a character can be played out in non-traditional ways.
Occasionally I get approached on the issue of a formal apprenticeship, and offer the following commentary:
First of all, you have to love to role-play. That means OOC concerns, game mechanics, etc., are discussed only in whispers. i.e. asking what is CS out loud will get you no answer. You must stay in character at all times (obviously, except when talking with a GM on an assist about a technical problem with the game, such things are not usually done in character).
Due to the manner the character is Role-played, I can't take on a formal apprentice. I can offer to tutor (same effect, only the title in a role-playing sense is different). In character, if you approached him looking for a tutor, you'd get a response similar too:
"You have a few things to learn. I expect you can learn them from me as well as anyone else. I can't promise to teach you with any regularity - my life isn't structured so - but I will finish what I start."
The rest is up to you.
Part IV: Twilight Hall
The tall shadowy-grey walls of the rune-carved fieldstone house rise towards a shimmering dome that almost seems to glow with an internal light.
Welcome to Twilight Hall! The doors opened to the public on 8 November 1996 after almost 15 months of construction. I founded this house as a non-political retreat for roleplayers who happen to be dedicated to the study of magic. To get in you must be of at least the fifth level of training, pay a one time 20,000 silver coins lifetime membership fee, and demonstrate your dedication to the study of magic by being able to cast at least one spell without the aid of toys or societal powers. Visit Twilight Hall for details!