Trade Article: The Way of the Warrior — a personal tale, by Elowan of Wind

Preface | Introduction | The beginning ... | Thy education ... | The Flower of Britannia | Black magic ... | Training up — as a beginner; as a novice; as an adept; as a master | Virtue Shield | The Noto killer | Some days it doesn't pay ... | I lose my Shield ... | A tale of two thieves | A tale of etiquette | The Lich — revisited | Elowan's Guide to Dungeon Delving

ritain is the largest city in the Land and everything may be found within the relatively safe confines of its walls. Here the newly minted citizen will find all the resources needed to get off to a good start in their chosen life. It is not necessary to go beyond the city limits to thrive — at least at first. Nor should thee. The Sweet Dreams Inn is located within the heart of the city just north of the old city wall and close to the Mages Guild Shop and not far from the main provisioners and the Old Bank. It is here that I materialized after stepping through the Gate. I've come to know that is how the Gate Travel spell works. A rift is formed in the fabric of space-time; perhaps a fold is more like it and one steps across from one fold to the next. But at the time it seemed as if I had stepped into some sort of magical box which deposited me in that particular place …

The fading mages face was replaced by the front of a rather imposing frame and stucco building. I staggered slightly as I regained my balance. My mind whirled and I was mildly disoriented by my passage through the Gate. I looked up at the sign hanging over the porch entrance of the place. The Sweet Dreams Inn. I had arrived in Britain. I quickly glanced around me. To my right, the street extended onwards to what appeared to be a bridge over a river though the view was somewhat obscured by drifting mist. I could detect the faintest tang of sea air wafting up from the southeast.

To my far left the street extended toward another, but much more imposing structure which rose out of the mists in the distance and which could only be Lord British's castle. To my immediate left there was a sort of an open square, smallish, bordered on the south by a wall pierced through with several archways while to the northward and further up the street there loomed a large, gray stone building which proved to be the mage shop and guild hall. I would come to know that place more intimately. But I would explore later. My first order of business was to make my self known to the innkeeper of this place. I hurried up the stairs and through the front door.

The Sweet Dreams was an older building and I was greeted upon entering by those smells peculiar to a venerable structure which had served as a dwelling place for its guests for ages. It was a most homey feeling and I felt safe there. I presented my chit for lodgings to the desk clerk and was given a room key and a small piece of paper outlining the facilities and services available. I was shocked at the prices quoted for some of these but this was of no immediate concern to me. I clutched my pack and turned away to exit the lobby. As I passed through the door I felt a slight tugging at my pack but I wrenched it free and turned to look into the laughing eyes of the chap who had just tried to steal my pack! He laughed at my discomfiture and scampered back outside.

"Did he try to steal it?" The clerk was looking my way. I nodded.

"Next time call for the guards. Had I seen him do it, I would have called them myself. Watch thyself." He looked back down at his work. I mused upon this as I walked hesitatingly down the steps onto the cobbled street. The would-be thief was out of sight but something told me I hadn't seen the last of him. I'd been here what? All of 5 or 10 minutes and already someone tried to steal from me. An interesting place. The "Flower of Britannia" has thorns methinks.

I walked out into the little square. Just ahead an armed figure stood motionless on the grass. I walked that way and stood a little distance away. She scowled at me and I smiled back sheepishly. I didn't have to explain to her who I was. Who I was was written in her gaze and who I was seemed to be just somewhat higher than pond scum.

"I thought it would be safer standing here," I explained nervously. She seemed to ignore me. I shrugged my shoulders and indicated the inn. "Someone tried to steal my pack." Her brow furrowed and I saw her grip tighten on her halberd.

"There are many of those scum abroad in this fair city," she hissed. "Were it up to me and mine I would kill them all. However, I'm constrained by my Lord British to act only upon those crimes that I witness or which are reported to me."

"Sounds like thee has a tough job," I ventured sympathetically. Her gaze softened and her stance became less stiff.

"'Struth! There are many laws to be heeded and to be enforced and some are peculiar to the particular place. 'Tis a hard life and sometimes confusing. But the law within a Justice Zone — such as our fair city Britain — is the same everywhere."

"It seems to me thee could use help," I replied. She actually smiled.

"Aye, but that is not to be, young mage." I gaped. She chuckled softly. "Ye have the look," she said. "Look ye and I'll try to make it clear to ye." She glanced about keenly then pursed her lips and whistled. Up the street another guard waved his halberd. She turned back to me. "The rules here are simple enough: thee may not, under any pretext or provocation what-so-ever, attack any living thing within the Justice Zone. Mark ye — that's any living thing; evil or whatever." She smashed the shaft of her halberd against the ground. Beneath it I could see the crushed remains of a large beetle. She followed my gaze. "Though were I not a city guard, it is likely that I would have been dispatched for that act." I looked up quickly. There was a certain tone in her voice but her face betrayed nothing of what I heard. It seemed obvious that there was some disagreement with Lord British's mandates even amongst his most loyal minions. Curious.

"That is not to say that ye may not defend thyself," she went on as if nothing was amiss. "That is to say ye may parry a blow. And …," she gave me a sly nudge, "… were ye to sneak in a blow thyself accidental done-a-purpose, while defending thyself I misdoubt any but the miscreant would take it amiss. But 'tis better ye should call one of us." She must have seen the puzzlement in my face because she added: "Just call out for the guards and we will come even if thee should see us not. The response is conditioned and we are made blind to the identity of the perpetrator; nor do we ask questions."

So saying and as if on cue there came the cry: "Guards! Guards!" In a flash she vanished. In almost the same instant she reappeared across the street accompanied by a loud clang and the sound of a death rattle. Next to her stood a fat merchant gone pale as death and who leaned against the wall for support. At her feet lay the body of someone, whose life's blood was pouring out onto the cobbles. Without even glancing down she turned and walked casually back to where I was standing goggle eyed. In almost the same instant the body was surrounded by passersby all clawing at it. But before it was obscured by trampling feet I recognized the face as the fellow who had accosted me earlier. I also noticed something else: just beyond the scrabbling throng a ghostly figure wavered, clad in a tattered gray, hooded robe.

The guard glanced over her shoulder as she strolled up. "Jackals!" she exclaimed contemptuously. "They gather like vultures every time. Even the nobles do it! They'll strip ye to thy small clothes in seconds. Orcs ain't in it!" She spat in disgust. "Now where was I? Oh yes …" She paused and followed my questioning gaze. "That's just his ghost. They hang around sometime. For what reason I couldn't say. Get used to seeing them as well as bodies in this town. I recognized that particular scum. His mortal name is Flint and he's been a thorn in my side for some months. And I've killed him no less than 6 times already. I wish he'd pick a different part of the city or go straight." She looked at me with wry amusement. "Thee really must mind thy mouth young mage. It is not seemly for one such as thyself to stand about with mouth agape. Someone might take thee for a fish or worse — a fool."

I closed my mouth quickly but my face must still have shown bewilderment. "Ah. I see that thy education is lacking some essentials," she said not unsympathetically. "Did ye not know that the Great God OSI has declared that none of the reborn shall suffer permanent death within Sosaria?" She jerked her thumb. "That scum will find a healer and be back on the streets within the hour none-the-worse-for-wear. Death is an inconvenience, nothing more." Her face took on a faraway look. "Though that will change soon — or so I'm told at any gate." It seemed to me that death could be more than an inconvenience should one be carrying much of value. But I gathered from the disappointed looks on the looters, who were now drifting away, that there was little of value upon the body of the latest Flint.

She told me more about this strange phenomenon of which I had, hitherto, heard nothing. She cautioned me on how to protect myself against thieves, particularly around the two banks of Britain. She also continued her lesson about attacking within the city.

"Ye may not cast any offensive spell within the city upon anyone or anything either, upon thy peril, though casting them upon thyself is ignored and the damage is magically diminished to a mort. But field spells of any kind, including Stone Wall, may not be cast at all."

She glanced back up the street. "I must finish soon. My captain approaches and I'm not in the mood for harsh words today. Stealing, as thou hast just seen is forbidden. But so is the mere peering into someone's pack. Unfortunately, looting the dead is not yet a crime."

I sensed that our conversation was at an end. "I thank thee, fair lady, for thy lessons." I bowed deeply.

"Faugh! I'm no lady, young master. Though I thank thee for saying it all the same." She waved away the coin I proffered. "La! Do not make the mistake of offering any of us gold! It might be taken amiss!" She scowled briefly then patted her flat, muscular stomach. "Though I'm rather partial to jelly donuts." She smiled slightly. "And," she added with a wink, "A blessing from time to time would not go amiss." She turned away to resume her rounds then stopped and looked back over her shoulder at me. "Mark ye!" She looked deep into my eyes. "There are many ways to steal, young mage. Not all are punished. Guard thy purse well!" Her face hardened and she began to pace back and forth again. I opened my pack and as I set about my preliminary tasks, I had much to think on.

Thee would suppose that the quick actions of the guards would impart some sense of safety or protection but it had the opposite effect. I had seen with my own eyes a stranger to the town dispatched out of hand. The unfortunate person had swung his staff at an annoying cur who had been sniffing his leg and growling. In a flash and without asking for an explanation a guard had materialized from somewhere. There was a loud clang — a sound all too familiar to all Britain's citizenry — and the guard sauntered away leaving a bleeding, shattered, and lifeless form behind him. The dog lifted his leg to the cooling body and within minutes the corpse had been stripped to its small clothes.

The body was gone when next I came by the place. Does our Lord British dispatch some form of clean-up squad to tidy up after the gruesome work of his minions? I pondered that as I pondered many another question during my sojourn within the "Flower of Britain". To be sure, the average citizen was protected from murder and if thee caught or spied someone stealing just uttering the words 'Guards! Guards!' was sufficient to see the perpetrator off into the void. But it didn't stop the pervading feeling of paranoia and distrust as one walked the streets. Especially around either of the two banks.

There was always a crowd there. People elbowing and jostling one another and crying out for a banker to make a withdrawal or a deposit. For it wasn't wise to carry much of value within or without the city limits. But it was a dangerous place as well. Many of that throng were pickpockets and cutpurses who — while occasionally being caught — nevertheless persisted in their endeavors and for the most part successfully. The occasional traveler found that he or she had been robbed only later when the thief was long gone.

Banker's Square in the heart of the city was constantly alive with the sounds of people shouting, horses whinnying, along with the sizzle and smell of magical gates opening and closing as the more adept adventurers eschewed "shanks mare" for a more reliable and faster mode of travel. It was enough to make one's pulse race. Some of these travelers appeared upon the flat roof of the bank itself where they were somewhat protected from the abundant sneak thieves. It was an exciting place for a newcomer with all the different costumes and the buzz of excited voices. "…then a harpy came out of nowhere …"; "…I've never seen so much gold …" Occasionally would come the loud and unmistakable 'clang' of a guards halberd and the wavering shriek of some miscreant who had just paid the price of his folly.

Which dissuaded the thieves not one whit. I saw one dastard go down and instantly resurrect only to go down again — three times in a row! He certainly had very little to lose. Most of these individuals employed confederates and carried little of value upon their persons. They would make a dive into someone's purse and then sprint away toward their partner. They would never make more than 1 or 2 steps before the guard had come. But it was time enough for their confederate to pick the body clean of its ill gotten gains and sneak off in the confusion while the spirit of the recently departed would waft away to seek out a healer for resurrection. And then — restored to life and body — would seek out the partner and together they would start the entire process all over. They were invulnerable — as long as they never left town and why should they? I overheard one of these brag to another that he had made 1000 gold that very morning alone and had been only killed once. It is enough to make a strong man weep.

And another thing which struck me odd right from the first is the number of ordinary citizens of the town who approach just about everyone and try to get them to commit murder! It is a puzzle to me how this traffic in murder-for-hire seems to be allowed to run rampant here in the home of our Lord British is a puzzle for which I have no answer nor have I been able to find anyone else who can explain it to me.

But the city is not without its charms and we who dwell here are not entirely without means to protect ourselves. Some sort of enchantment has been laid over the city. Some say it extends even onto the farther reaches of the whole of Britannia — perhaps even beyond. If thee holds thine eyes just so and squint just a little — each person that thee encounters will seem to have a faint glow about them. It is called an aura. Some of these will be of grayish hue while more than half of the rest will have a bluish aura. The rest have a reddish aura. I've been told that those of the reddish aura are of evil persuasion and should be avoided at all costs — certainly it does thine reputation no good to assist these in any manner. I've noted also, that these are treated with something less than civility by the townsfolk — especially the shopkeepers. And more than once I've seen a merchant overcharge such a person for goods and services. Lately 'grays' are rarely seen within the town limits. Our Lord British has made a bad situation worse by allowing all those of gray aura to be attacked and killed even within the town limits. No 'reds' ever will ever be seen within the town limits because these are typically 'murderers' and are KOS — killed on sight by the guards.

Since this was originally written, some of the more stringent rules have been relaxed within a 'justice zone'. For example — the prohibition against attacking animals within the city has been lifted; except for tamed animals. The rule of thumb is simple: if it has a gray aura then it may be attacked without interference from Lord British's guard corp. Which is not the same as saying that thou shouldst do that.

There are some tasks that must be completed before thee takes thy first steps out in the hurly-burly that is Britain. Firstly, thou art advised to open thy pack and drop each of thy scrolls upon the spellbook also found therein. Thou wilt then behold a wonder. Each of the scrolls will disappear and when thou shouldst chance to open thine book — behold! Inscribed within its pages in magical writing will appear the self-same spells that had once been contained within the scrolls. Though these spells are only slightly more than cantrips being 1st Circle, they will remain within thy book forevermore and by simply turning to the proper page, the spell may be cast forth to do good or ill — providing thou doth possess the skills required to do so.

In a like manner, thou may emblazon within thine arcane book other useful spells from eight different Circles of Power, each Circle mightier than the preceding. Such scrolls may be purchased from the Mages Guild Shop or from the many vendors of scrolls who may be found standing about the square in front of the guild building hawking their wares. Sometimes an adventurer fresh from a dungeon foray may bestow upon thee a scroll or two — shouldst thou ask him or her politely enough. Should thy choice be to purchase such scrolls, do not, as yet, attempt to fill thy book up to and including the exalted 8th circle. It will be some time, until thy magery exceeds 81, before thou would be empowered to cast a spell as powerful as any of these. Instead, concentrate on acquiring only those up to and including the 5th circle. The 8th circle, despite it is loftiness, possesses few spells, other than Resurrection to recommend its study — at least for a long time.

Thy first task is to build thyself up into a self-supporting and useful citizen. Hence, after inscribing thy scrolls within thy spellbook thy next task is to convert thy bolts of cloth into useful articles of clothing that may be sold to a provisioner or even onto a tailor. Thy skills in Tailoring, however, if thee hath only taken a token amount of Tailoring, will be weak. Hence it will be mete for thee to hie thyself to a Tailor Shop and seek out the tailor within. Approaching this individual thou wilt proclaim thy desire to be trained in tailoring and pay over to this person all of thy gold. Fear not! Thou shalt be rewarded with an enhancement of thy tailoring skills sufficient to provide thee the wherewithal to continue. Having been trained in the skill it is advised that thou wilt proceed to utilize thy skills upon the bolts of cloth granted thee at thy recruitment. I have included a small rebus to illustrate my advice vis-a-vis Tailoring:

If thee hath taken my advice and hath chosen enhanced Tailoring skill, thee should immediately attempt to make a fancy shirt (8 cloth — 23-28 gold). When thee creates it, try selling it to one of the tailors in the shop (if one won't buy, try the other if there is one). If he/she buys, immediately make 3 more and sell those. When no one will buy these, switch to plain dress (10 cloth — 23-28 gold) and sell these. Thee will possibly have run out of cloth by then. If thee hath more than 1 cloth left, try making a skull cap (2 cloth — 6 gp). If thou hath only 1 cloth left, keep it to combine with another bolt remnant or give it on one of the shopkeepers. Thou wilt receive notoriety for this and thou mayest do it as often as thee wishes since the new reputation decree removes the 15 minute restriction. Our Lord British encourages freely giving to the less fortunate amongst us.

If thee can (they don't always have any) buy thread from any of the tailors (NOT yarn!!). Thread typically sells for 3-6 gp ea. It takes 5 thread to weave one bolt (hence a bolt will cost thee 15-30 gp. Buying a bolt will cost from 63 — 91 gp). If thread is available buy as many as thee can carry. NOTE: 1 thread weighs 1 stone; 1 bolt weighs the same as 5 thread. As thee uses a thread the weight thou art carrying will go down until thee makes the bolt whence it will go back up again. HOWEVER, when thee makes clothing, instead of thy weight going down, it goes up!! Don't overload thyself or thou wilt be unable to move! The shopkeepers move about and thee needs to keep up with them.

At Tailoring of 50, thou shouldst not fail at weaving the thread into cloth. To weave move close to the loom. If someone else is there make sure that they're not using the loom. Use one thread at a time at the loom and target the area shown in the above rebus. Keep going until a bolt appears within thy backpack (keep it open). Don't bother to dye the bolt. Make as many as thee can carry with some weight margin to spare.

If thee must buy a bolt, buy the cheapest one that thee can and try all the shopkeepers. There is absolutely no difference between a 63 gp bolt and a 91 gp bolt. Buy at least 3 at a time because after thee buys a few, the shopkeeper wilt raise the subsequent price for any others — the greedy swine. Thee mayest be tempted to purchase raw wool, cotton or flax to spin thine own thread. Resist this temptation with all thy might. A yarn will cost thee 15 gp and it takes 5 such to make 1 bolt. Hence that bolt will cost thee 85 gold. Likewise wool and flax with flax being the most dear at 90 gp.

Thou mayest obtain wool from any errant sheep through the expedient of shearing it. Thou mayest perform this act by first insuring that thou art not in attack mode when activating thy blade. One wool bundle will yield 3 yarn when used upon the spinning wheel. On the other hand, shouldst thou inadvertantly kill the sheep, skinning it will yield a bundle of off-colored wool of such poor quality that only 1 yarn will result upon its being spun on the wheel. From whence thee might obtain flax is a secret known only to The Great God OSI who hath not seen fit to share this knowledge with the people of the Land.

Make sure that thou doth sequester thy gains within the bank at the earliest opportunity. There are some within the city who contend that thee should provide for them and they will not scruple to remove thy gold from thy pack unbidden. Retain only 10 gold upon thy person and as thou doth tour the city environs be alert for any who may be needy such as beggars and wandering mages. If one doth find such a one, bestow upon this unfortunate person, one of thy gold pieces. If thou shouldst continue in such manner, in time thou shalt be rewarded by finding thy Notoriety and Reputation increasing; which circumstance has its own set of rewards.

As soon as thee can, buy two runes, two Mark scrolls and one Recall scroll (there should be vendors about). A normal price for a Mark scroll is 65 gp -- no more; 55-60 for Recall. Mark one rune within the bank in one of the back rooms. Mark the other within the bedroom at the tailor shop. Drop the Recall scroll onto thy spellbook. Now to go to the bank and back -- use Recall; 'tis much safer that way.

One thing that thou must set aside for good and all is thy pride. I do not say honor for the two are often confused. But pride goeth before the fall and can serve thee ill, hence it is best kept in thy pocket. I say this because in the beginning thou wilt be forced to do many things which a prideful man would scorn and suffer accordingly. It is not seemly nor useful if on thy tombstone they engrave: "He died proud."

It may become necessary for thee to seek the largess of others more fortunate than thyself, especially in the beginning. Or — not to put too fine a point on it — to beg. Now there is an art to begging as in all things. The art comes in the approach and the approach must be such so that thou doth not make a nuisance of thyself nor yet pose a threat. In this way thou mayest get a bad reputation — these things in time become known to the powers that be and will be counted against thee. Hence discretion and forbearance are the watch words.

The best people to approach are the Lords and Ladies — great and small. These have already proven their generosity — hence their titles. However, these are no fools nor are they obligated to gift thee. Hence thy approach should be respectful. It is the height of folly to stand within Bankers Square and shout at the top of thy lungs: 'I'm a newbie! Gimmee stuff!' Better that thee approach a prospective grantor cautiously and stand a few paces away so as not to make them think thee a thief. Bow to them and say politely: 'Thy pardon, milord (or lady) [name]. Have thee, perhaps, some trifling item thou wishes thyself rid of? I am but an apprentice and new to this fair city.' If thou art fortunate, they will respond with a 'yes' or even 'what dost thee need?' Thy answer should be that anything would serve at this time. That thou art saving toward a new mace or shield is appropriate. Take whatever they give thee with grace and bow, thanking them. Saying something such as: 'I am in thy debt, kind sir (or madam)', is fitting and proper and makes a good impression. And for heaven's sake do not dress the part of a ragamuffin and avoid like the plague the gray robes which are the hallmark of the rogue. Appear empty handed. Put away thy dagger or other weapon as well.

As thou makest thy way about the city, be alert too for discarded items such as packs, bags, weapons, bottles and hides. Deign to touch not any sort of box or trunk, however. There are those who make it a practice to trap such items and leave them to tempt the unwary. Opening such a box or trunk could result in an explosion that will do thee little good and at this stage probably kill thee; whereas packs and bags cannot be so booby-trapped. However, some packs are tainted with the insidious "No Draw" curse (rare now). These packs are useless and cannot be sold. Do not, I pray thee, drop them back whence thee found them. Instead carry them to the provisioners and gift the cobbler within. Ye will be rewarded with useless tips but they reputation will be enhanced. More to the point, it will serve to keep the city streets free of trash and clutter.

Within the packs and bags are sometimes found items of food, clothing, empty potion bottles, ale bottles, jugs and arrows or bolts. All of these things may be re-sold at the appropriate place (ale bottles and cider jugs at a Tavern) and although such a process may be tedious and boring onto the extreme, nonetheless it is possible to make a goodly sum in such a manner. For example, an empty pack can bring as much as 7 gold at the provisioners (sometimes even as much as 16 gp); a bag 3 gold. Torches, often thrown away, can bring 4 gold each at the same shop. Arrows will sell for about 1 gold, sometimes 2, likewise at the provisioners. These are slow to sell because no vendor will buy more than 5 items at a time and although arrows and crossbow bolts are "stacked" within a pack, they are not so stacked when they come to be sold. Still, 10 arrows is 10 to 20 gold and all for no more effort than that required to pick them up.

Some items are not worth scavenging such as war forks, and hatchets (even if the latter be magical they sell not — give them to a blacksmith or armorer); though pick up the first hatchet thou doth find; there will be a use for it later. Death Robes (gray) are almost impossible to sell to a tailor shop — though sometimes they will buy them; though they are useful to cover things within thy pack to foil thieves. On the other hand, cloaks are often discarded and can bring as much as 22 gold at the same shop; so too, pants and shirts; cobblers will generally purchase boots and shoes. It will not take long to accumulate a sizeable quantity of cash in this way which the prudent will immediately bank. This method is infinitely less degrading than begging for cash from adventurers who congregate around the banks of Britain. Here too are found the thieves so have a care.

Hides are always worthwhile to pick up, even single hides, though a stack may weigh more than thee might be able to carry. At first take such hides to a Tanners/Leather Shop or cobbler where they will fetch 1 gold each. Later, when thy tailoring skills are greater, thou may attempt to tailor items of leather clothing which can be very profitable.

A word of wisdom about hides which becomes important when thou doth try to tailor leather items from scavenged hides. Most items of leather clothing or armor require more than one hide. Hence a stack of hides from 4 to 14 may be necessary. When thou doth attempt to tailor such items, make sure that thee has an extra sewing kit or two within thy pack. Sewing kits wear out in time.

When at the bank(s) look for discarded bone armor. An adventurer may even be persuaded to gift thee with a complete set. Thou wilt not be able to don it at this point, but thou shouldst bank such a treasure until such time as thee may wear it. Thou mayest oft acquire weapons by asking for them — again politely. Let it be known that thou art a neophyte, though it is certain sure to be starkly evident. Take whatever is given with good grace and be thankful. Thou may have no earthly use for a magic spear or executioners axe but the weapons shop may buy them from thee and thee can then use the cash to buy what thou wishes.

Whilst thine aim is to accumulate cash reserves and other useful things through dint of hard work, scavenging or begging, it is important that thy attributes and skills be also enhanced. At this point in time thou art the proverbial 20 stone weakling; an angry goat would pound thee into a red paste. If thou hath followed my advice in choosing thy attributes, whilst thy intelligence is high — since it is more difficult to increase — thy strength is low and thy dexterity lower still. Thee must take steps to increase both thy strength and intellect letting dexterity fend for itself.

One way to increase thy strength is to chop wood. This will increase thy Lumberjacking skills but such should not have a detrimental affect upon thine other skills. If thou hast found an axe or hatchet along the way then thou art ready to begin.

A word about skill atrophy and skill acquisition: it is possible to acquire skills merely by observing. Hence if thou shouldst observe someone stealing and while it is thy duty to call the guard upon the miscreant, thee will note an incremental increase in thy Thieving skill should this happen. OSI hast proclaimed that the total skill points one may acquire overall is limited and after a point when one skill goes up, another wilt go down. OSI has decreed that it is the least used skill that will go down first. There are some problems with this decree, however. As all powerful as the OSI may be, he has not implemented this decree to an infallible degree — sometimes skills other than the least used will atrophy first. This can be maddening to say the least but there is little thou canst do about it except grit thy teeth and carry on. This problem is further complicated by the fact that thee may learn a skill merely by observing. Hence if thou should stand conversing while another fishes, thy Fishing skill, which thou may have no desire to implement, could increase at the cost of a more important skill. So have a care. The most insidious of these is the Camping skill. Some idiots are forever lighting bonfires within the city. Merely passing near such a fire will increase thy Camping skill. Beware such campfires outside the city. Some miscreants set these to invoke the Lag Spirit. If thee be set upon by rogues or monsters and the Lag Spirit, who is capricious beyond measure, should choose that moment to appear, thee may come to in thy new career as a ghost staring down upon thy stripped and lifeless body. Did I not say that OSI has a sense of humor? But I digress. The subject at hand is increasing thy strength.

Chopping trees will increase thy strength but if such endeavor results in a pile of logs — sell these to the Carpenter's Shop; do not attempt to make anything from them. It is permitted to chop trees within the city; the guards will not come. But have a care when targeting the tree that thee target not some tamed bird or other form of wildlife within the tree. The guards of Britannia frown with a great frowning upon attacks upon any tamed creature large or small within the city limits, accidental though such an attack may be. Such frowning takes the form of instant death and no explanation is ever accepted.

A safer and more useful way to increase one's strength is through Blacksmithing. Here the process is a little more involved. Firstly I wouldst advise that thee seek training in the art from a Master Armorer and buy as much training as possible. Then I wouldst buy myself a smiths tongs and/or hammer. I would then beg a piece of irreparable armor from someone. I would then go to the Armor shop in the northern part of Britain and attempt to repair the armor using the anvil there. Thou wilt not succeed of course but in the process both thy strength and thy Blacksmithing skills will increase. It will take some time to accomplish this. Some wizards have devised magical means whereby such activity may be automated. These magical means are called "macro utilities" or cantrips. Whether thou resorts to such methods is a choice left to thineself and Lord British is wont to change things so that certain opportunities can be lost to thee.

Another method is to use a club and hie thee to a practice dummy at a nearby warriors guild. By repeatedly whacking the dummy both thy Mace skill and strength will be increased. It is with this method that the magical macro devices find their biggest use. Mace skill is desirable for a warrior as is Blacksmithing but mining, the other method, is not. It is only possible to increase thy skill with the mace to about 25 points using the dummy. After that it will be necessary to go into the forest outside town and bash bunnies. Before thou does this it will be necessary to buy or make a shield. A suit of chainmail would be a prudent purchase as well.

It is useful as well as desirable to practice one's magery whilst whacking practice dummies or bashing bunnies. Spells may be cast in town but offensive spells can only be cast upon oneself and no field spells are allowed at all. Since the amount of damage of such spells is limited in town, there is little danger — as long as thee targets only thyself. This is an excellent method of improving thy magery and thee must do this from time to time to prevent it and magic resist being caused to atrophy. Practicing such casting where other, higher order mages are doing the same, will enhance thine own abilities to a certain extent. Be not disappointed to find thy skills in magery increasing slowly, however — it takes much practice and many reagents to become proficient. Thy skill will increase faster if thou doth attempt to cast higher circle spells and thee should succeed in thine attempt. But there is a practical limit to magery wherein attempts to cast higher circles would be fruitless. Until one reaches the minimum level of magery to attempt a Circle — there is no point in even trying. We have said that the road to proficiency in the arcane arts is long and expensive. Thee must be prepared to spend a minimum of 7000 gold to reach useful magery levels and even more to attain very high levels and maintain thy proficiency.

Patience will surely be a virtue as thee proceeds along the Way of the Warrior. It is important to practice restraint and not to push ahead too fast. Lord Elowan's second aphorism is:

"To act in haste is to repent in leisure."

Hence, though thee may be tempted to "come along on a dungeon crawl," at this stage (strength less than 60 and sword or mace likewise) thee will be setting thyself up to commit suicide. What then should thee do?

Perhaps a short jaunt into the countryside outside Britain to the east. Do not attempt the west nor the area of the Crossroads as yet. The area of the cemetery is also still beyond thy skills but not because of the skeletons — though a lich could come — but because of the zastraneetsi (a Scythian word which refers to an orifice located in the nether regions of thy body). These are sometimes referred to as Pkers. These knuckle-dragging scum make it their practice to obliterate weaker folk through dint of surprise and overwhelming force. We will have more to say of these vermin anon.

But venturing out into the forest is well enough but keep thee to the trees — do not essay to travel the roadway. And make sure that thee doth not lose thy way. It will be safe enough to attempt a goat and skin it for its hides. While it may seem safe enough to attempt a cow it is more likely that it will beat the snot out of thee. Additionally, even if thee succeeds, thee may not be strong enough to convey the untailored hides back to town. Still, thee may try thy hand at tailoring these hides on the spot.

The hide creatures and expected hide yield are: goat — 8 (mountain goat — 12); hind — 8; cow — 12; llama — 12; lizard man — 12; great hart — 15; bull — 15. Skinning these will also produce some raw meat in the form of ribs. Provisioners will not buy the raw meat though the butcher may. Provisioners will buy the cooked meat but unless thee intends to enhance thy cooking skills — it is best to discard the meat upon the carcass. Always do this. OSI frowns when people litter the countryside with cast-off bits. He manifests this displeasure by instructing his minion the Spawning God to reduce the number and frequency of new creatures being manifest within the Land. To please him, place thine castoffs onto the corpse so that they and it may be recycled quickly into the Land and be reborn more quickly. 'Tis thy civic duty in any event. This does not work with corpses of the reborn. When such corpses decay away, objects placed upon them appear upon the ground. Hence always use animal or monster carcasses for this purpose.

A word of advice here. When thee activates thy sewing kit and targets the stack of hides, there will appear a wonder. One of OSI's minions, the Spirit of Tailoring will present thee with a vision. This vision will consist of symbols. In the case of hides, these symbols take the shape of shoes and armor. At thy current Tailoring skill of 49, thou shouldst be comfortably able to stitch boots, sandals, shoes and thigh boots and earn a profit at it.

In my youth thou wouldst have been able to choose the rightmost symbol, which appears to be a suit of female armor. If thou shouldst place thy pointing finger upon this symbol, the mystical words: "Female Armor" will appear. Double tapping this symbol with thine outstretched finger will change the image to visions of those things thee may produce. The left most one is Leathern Shorts — which take 4 of thy hides; the middle one is a single piece Female Armor — which take 8 of thy hides; the right most one is Leather Bustier — which uses 4. It is always best to choose the right one — at least for now — if thee hast slain and skinned a goat, cow or other hide animal. This is because such an item will fetch from between 50-60 gold each. Always choose the best of the three if thee has hides enough. In the case of a goat and if tailoring is successful and thou hast chosen Female Armor — all eight of thy hides will disappear and be replaced by the armor. If thee hath only 7 hides, then select the skirt and so on. If thee hath but 3 hides or less, carry these back to town or wait to combine them with hides taken from another hide creature.

Alas, this choice wilt be denied thee anow unless and until thou shalt have reached the 64th degree of Tailoring skill; perhaps somewhat sooner but unlikely. I am grateful to the good Sweet who points out that a mere 56.8 skill level (which shouldst not take thee long to achieve having started at 49) wilt permit thee to stitch leather gloves which are, in point of fact, the most profitable item a tailor may make. They take but 3 hides and sell for 24-30gp each.

Recently, because of sun spots no doubt, if thee possesses only those hides sufficient to tailor a particular garment, the tailoring will result in one hide left over. I do not know why this is so, suffice that it may only take 7 hides for a suit of armor, 11 hides for leggings, etc. Save the remaining one to re-stack and thank the Great God OSI for his largess.

When thee becomes more proficient with thy tailoring — studded armor tunics and leggings provide good return as do bustiers. Some experts aver that the bustier is the most profitable amongst the choices, but Sweet points out — correctly — that at 30 gp/3 hides, gloves are more so..

When venturing outside the safety of the town guards, always keep thy pack open before thee. Be prepared to jettison thy extra hides should flight be necessary. Remember this, however:

"Running is not a plan; running is what thee does when a plan fails."

Running is good for the soul; it is certainly good for thine health. Nor is it unseemly. It is easy to gauge how far to run by bringing up the vision of thy pursuers stats. As thee runs, when that vision disappears before thee, thy pursuer has been outrun. Which is not the same as saying it has stopped chasing thee nor art thou necessarily safe from being cast upon. Running will be come even more important in the future. The Great God OSI has taken heed of his supplicants prayers. I have it on the authority of the Priests of OSI that the range of spells will soon be limited so that there will be a safe distance beyond which one cannot be struck by, say, a fireball. It then becomes possible to outrun such a spell.

If thee can manage it, try to venture out with someone of thine own level and someone with whom thou hast developed a trusting relationship. Do not go with just anyone who asks thee to do so. I regret to say that even if they are entitled with the appellation: Great Lord, some of these are of such stripe as not to scruple to lead the unwary into an ambush by evil doers and afterwards sharing the spoils with them. On the other hand, most neophytes are relatively safe from this scourge since they own little of value. Which is a hint: if thee goes hunting, wear old clothes and leave thy Gucchi backpack within the bank.

to Thy education to Black magic ...