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

y arms feel like lead. And if I have to hear the dull thump of the training dummy any more I know I shall go mad. Methinks that I hear it in my sleep betimes. But my swordsmanship has increased to above 25 — the most I can hope for at the dummy. I confess to having a new appreciation of Carin — who is an expert with the broadsword. Now I must switch to repeating all this with a mace. Oh ye merciful gods! Perhaps I will do as one of my new friends hath suggested: find a Grandmaster Armsman and buy some training in the mace. Using the mace will increase my strength whilst I practice. And well it should too — the bloody thing is heavy! But I mislike it for other reasons. Methinks it is a paltry weapon and slow into the bargain. My dexterity hath increased along with my swordsmanship and I find that I can swing the sword much more rapidly than ever before. But I misdoubt the same will be true of the mace.

But a passing adventurer hath given me a notion. This fellow, whose face bore the scars of many encounters and brushes with death, swore by the war axe. He says that it is much more destructive than the sword or mace and can be swung almost as fast as a sword. Besides, he said, he loves the way it "sings" when it is swung. He let me try it. I must admit that the "whooping" sound of its passage through the air is most satisfying. I am resolved to buy one today. But as for practicing mace and improving mine strength — he agreed that using an actual mace is better; at least until my skill is greater. He also suggested buying the training and so I shall. In the training of it my strength will increase into the bargain.

Yesterday was interesting and somewhat titillating into the bargain. I am classed as a lowly "newbie" here in Britannia. Not such a bad lot. The citizens of this fair city have adopted an amused tolerance and are kindly disposed toward us. The local baker is always good for a bun or two should the occasion demand — which seems often of late. I find myself eating more than I was used to at home. But then I am more active as well. I find that if I keep my stomach reasonably full at all times my skills seem to improve more quickly. I know that I heal more rapidly. I erred in stepping outside the bounds of the city a day or so ago and was set upon by a boar. Admittedly I started the fight. I had never realized just how ferocious one of these creatures can be! Luckily for me someone came along and dispatched the beast before it had torn me to pieces. The fellow offered to heal me but I declined. I felt that it would do me good if I hurt just awhile longer. Ordinarily this might have taken some hours but my kindly rescuer suggested that if I was to eat that I'd find myself healing much more quickly. He also suggested that when I practiced magery the same would be true for my mana. I was surprised that he knew of my interest in magery. He just smiled and shook his head. "Thee has the look." He then disappeared into the surrounding forest and I beat a hasty retreat back into the relative safety of the city limits.

But I was speaking of yesterday. We "newbies" tend to stick together. There's some comfort in being miserable together methinks; it is certainly more interesting. In any event we always end up "talking shop" and a discussion of raising one's skills is almost always a part of the conversation. It seemed to be the consensus that certain skills contribute to ones intelligence. That is, practicing the skill increases one's cognitive ability. This is important for many reasons, not the least of which is an improvement in spell casting ability and the ever essential mana. The skills that seem to help the most are: Anatomy, Forensics; Spirit Speak; Item ID; and Arms Lore. It is said that Taste ID will also do it but the thought of quaffing the contents of unknown bottles just to establish the "vintage" is beyond my desires.

I'm not too particularly interested in learning overmuch about armsmanship — perhaps later. But I felt that improving my understanding of anatomy would be of value and finding out who killed and/or looted a body might come in handy some day. There were certainly enough corpses littering the streets these days to practice on. Accordingly I donned my "apprentice robes". These are not, as one might suppose, gray. I have found that folks are suspicious of anyone in a gray robe regardless of their auras or notoriety. Methinks this is because thieves — surely the laziest breed in the Land — wear these robes to a faretheewell. In my group of newbies, we've chipped in to buy a dyeing tub and all our robes are dark blue. The only downside of that is that we are forever being stopped and asked questions about any number of things of which we know absolutely nothing — of course. I am puzzled by the reactions of people when this happens though. Perhaps they have confused us with someone else. I know not.

I also banked everything except my spellbook and wandered over to the square in front of the Mage Shop. On the way I examined a corpse but was unable to discover anything about his death. I was chagrinned to find that some passersby mistook me for a looter and called out vile names. It was unpleasant but interesting nonetheless. At least I knew something more than I had known a moment before.

I chose a time of day when I knew the square would be busy. This is a time of greatest danger from thieves but since I wasn't carrying anything they could steal, I felt safe enough. It is a curious fact but true: for some reason, if thee should keep thy spellbook within thy main pack, it is impossible for thieves to steal it. But if thy book is placed within another bag or pouch, then it might be stolen. My friends and I tested this wonder and found it to be true (we did so out of sight of the guards I do assure thee. Already one of my friends was killed for peering into a merchants backpack). He reported that when he was resurrected, his spellbook was still with him. I must conclude from this that thy spellbook is safe from even death itself if kept within thy backpack itself and not within another bag or pouch.

I love the Mages Square around the dinner hour! It is a hive of activity and sound! People scurrying hither and thither. Magical gates opening and disgorging travelers from faraway places; others opening to whisk folk to equally distant places; summoned animals appearing and disappearing much to the disgust of the guards who are obliged to kill the evil ones. Several mages are here selling scrolls of various potency; one of these is Lady Haginor. She always stands in the same place and always at the same time of day. Her prices seem reasonable — certainly less than the Shop itself charges but still beyond my modest means. I stand about a pace or two away so as not to annoy her and invoke a magical macro that I found. It isn't long before she becomes suspicious.

"What is it thou art doing, Elowan? Ye young scamp!"

I bow and with a straight face I answer her: "Admiring thy classic beauty, milady."

"Faugh! Beauty is it!?" Actually, she is beautiful but her husband isn't — at least I don't think so. One of my friends does — blaaagh!

"Yes," I reply.

"Thou art practicing thine Anatomy skill aren't thee?"

I bow again. "I confess that thou hath caught me out, dear lady. I am abashed."

"How can thee tell anything at all? I'm wearing armor under this robe."

"True but I can tell enough."

"Ye scalawag! Come closer!"

"Oh! I dare not, milady. Thine husband is as big as a house!"

"Faugh! He is a pussy-cat. Come closer." I remind her that a snow leopard is also classified as a "pussy cat" but she reaches over and yanks me to her side. She is wearing an interesting perfume that stirs in me not intelligence. I gulp.

"Now then, this should make it easier. But mind where thee puts thy hands."

"Lady!" But believe me when I say that I was hard pressed to keep mine hands under control. She ignores me though I can see the faint smile playing at the corner of her mouth. I continue with my anatomy lesson all the while she taunts me with ribald comments which do nothing for suppressing my libido. I will have to wash out my small clothes tonight without fail. I grit my teeth and soldier on. Strangely enough I find that in concentrating on the task at hand my animal urges fall away from me and I can actually feel my cognition improving as if a veil had been lifted from my mind. It was unsettling.

I also discovered that a rather comely lass had stationed herself nearby and seemed to be practicing on me what I was practicing on Lady Haginor! In short time the three of us became the brunt of many ribald but good natured wisecracks. From time to time a thief would fall to the halberd of the ever watchful city guard at which time I and Belana (the lass I spoke of) would walk over and examine the body. One time a thief even tried to steal my spellbook! Clumsy oaf! He died at my feet! But he was stupid and chose instant resurrection only to die repeatedly when he tried stealing again. Soon there were multiple "corpses of Bob" littering the square until he finally grew discouraged and ran off. No one seemed to pay any heed to the bodies! They just casually stepped over them and went about their business as if this was nothing out of the ordinary. I have come to find that this isn't out of the ordinary at all! I must confess that this gave me pause and cause for some deep soul searching and examination of my basic beliefs.

The magic macro did its job through all of this. In no time, my Anatomy skill had increased to above 25 and my cognition along with it — almost 6 points! Gadzooks! But I also found that my Inscription skill had also improved just by watching Lady Haginor inscribe scrolls. Even my magery increased somewhat from all the spell casting going on about me. Altogether it was a wondrous and rewarding day.

I sip the last of my wine as I read this passage in my journal. It brought back a flood of memories, most of them good. Those were halcyon days — those early and formative days of my youth. Everything seemed bright and new. But even then there was a darkness nibbling at the edges of my consciousness — something not quite "right" but I was unable to put my finger on it until much later. Already the ever present and faithful Malcolm hath refilled mine glass.

I remember the Lady Haginor well. Alas when last I saw her, her notoriety had declined considerably. She confided in me that this had happened by accident within one of the dungeons of the Land. I believed her — this hath happened to many and in a like manner.

I strongly urge thee at this stage, to buy as much skill training as possible. Of course it takes money to do this and it will be necessary for thee to indulge in menial tasks — at least at first — in order to accumulate the wherewithal to advance thyself. On the day described above, I was fortunate to make the acquaintance of many adventurers of both high and low fame. I even met some of the legendary figures of current Britannia for the reliability of the scrolls of the Lady Haginor was renowned. From these I learned much in the friendly exchanges and some of these were wont to confer largess upon me and in no small measure. The Lady herself was kind enough to help me fill out my spellbook and has ever been willing to discount her wares to me. I treasure her acquaintance.

There are few opportunities to practice thine arcane art as a novice except those lower circle spells such as Reactive Armor, Heal and Greater Heal. Thou mayest not utilize offensive magery within the towns except upon thyself and never field spells. To become proficient requires practice and considerable gold. In order to practice it is important to find a safe place where thou mayest do so without too much danger of being accosted by thieves or worse. Though I must confess to be having some difficulty conceiving of something worse than a thief. Of all the easiest paths in life — that of a thief is perhaps the easiest. In my view, only the lazy and the shiftless take this route. It is only a step from there to murdering Pker.

The dullest town within the Land is without doubt — Ocllo. Here may be found — nothing whatever of interest. Being as it is on an island, it sees little casual traffic. Since it holds nothing of value or challenge — it sees little by way of adventurer traffic either. It does possess two advantages beyond it is dullness: it has an excellent Mage Shop and few, if any, thieves. By and large it is a waste of time for thieves and it is small size means that the guards are everywhere.

When thou hath arrived at the point wherein thee can cast Recall successfully — or even before if thou buyest a Recall scroll — I would hie me to Ocllo straightaway. I would do this only when I had sufficient funds — say 7000-8000 gold — to sustain me for magery is profligate in the extreme. There on the sward before the mage shop (inexplicably yclept The Zoo though I suspect it is because the Mage shop is the busiest in Britannia), I wouldst (and I did) practice my magery without fear of disturbance. The bank is nearby, as is the Inn. And of course, the source of additional reagents is at thy back.

Thee should constantly gauge thine level of magery using the Skills cantrip whilst thou doth practice thine art. And I recommend the purchase of a Mages Hat whilst thou doth practice as well. Forget not to remove it should thee go hunting as the wearing of it increases thy intelligence whilst it taketh away a like degree of strength and dexterity. Remember that dexterity helps thy Tactics which improves thy ability to strike with thine weapon. As thy Tactics skill improves so too doth the strength of thy blows. Thy strength is a measure of how well thee can withstand the blows of thine enemy.

It is important that thou shouldst attempt those spells that are the most difficult practical. Remembering always that it is success in the casting that increases thy skill — not failure. In this way thine magery skill will advance the faster. It is also important that thee should do what is necessary to improve thine intelligence because even should thee have the magery to cast a specific spell it will avail thee not if thy mana is insufficient.

The usual magery level required for each circle are generally said to be these in order: 1/ 6/ 16/ 26/ 36/ 46/ 66/ 76. I do not subscribe to this view. In order to have a reasonable chance of casting a spell of a certain Circle it is my view that the requirements are more on the order of: 10/ 20/ 30/ 45/ 50/ 55/ 70/ 85. That is not to say that it is impossible at lower levels but for certain it is impossible at the levels generally advised.

Thou shouldst also make the majority of thy spells those that consume the least of thine reagents. I am indebted to the former Dark Lord Rich for the following:

    Circle 4
    • Archcure — Garlic, Ginseng, Root. 9g
    • Curse — Garlic, Shade, Ash. 9g
    • Fire Field — Garlic, Silk, Ash. 9g
    Circle 5
    • Magic Reflect — Garlic, Root, Silk. 9g
    • Paralyze — Garlic, Root, Silk. 9g
    • Blade Spirit — Pearl, Root, Shade. 11g

The costs for lower order spells are not relevant and in my view, until one gets to 6th level, I would not even consider costs in choosing which spell to cast.

It is very important that the spells cast not be cast by rote. That is, it is not mete to cast the same spell over and over again. Generally, combining a lower level spell followed by a higher level spell and repeat, will advance thy magery much faster than otherwise.

Remember too, that with the exception of field spells, casting offensive spells upon thine ownsome is not illegal and will help to preserve and enhance thine resistance to eldritch energies. Be prepared for a long and arduous struggle whilst enhancing thine art. Make it a habit to take frequent breaks to maintain thine other vital skills and attributes. On occasion thee might venture from the town and dispatch the occasional hind, hart or goat wandering about outside the justice zone.

The inscribing of scrolls is a useful exercise which will enhance thine intelligence and advance thine magery to some degree. Thee will find that practicing a combination of skills even onto alchemy will assist greatly. Do not forget to continue thine practice of Anatomy during this stage.


to Black magic ... to Training up — as a novice