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[Ref]Skills and attributes

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A more in depth look at building your character. If you just want a quick guide to what you're supposed to be doing, check out the Tutorial

Attributes

As I mentioned in the tutorial, each attribute confers a minor benefit in some way. In full
Strength : Increasing your strength increases the base rate of damage your character causes with melee weapons. Every two points of strength also grants a bonus hitpoint. Most heavy armours and weapons also require a minimum strength score before they can be equipped. It's an important attribute to build for just about any character
Agility : Agility increases your basic speed, including how quickly you swing a weapon as well as basic movement. Agility governs most of the mobility skills too, so again an important attribute for most characters
Intelligence Intelligence governs the more cerebral skills. There doesn't seem to be any specific bonus for increasing intelligence beyond the extra skill point granted each time you up it. For this reason, generally it is better to develop intelligence through play rather than start a character with high intelligence.
Charisma Determines party size, and is the governing attribute for most of the diplomatic type skills. Again, no immediate benefit for developing this skill beyond increasing the maximum number of troops in your party.

Skills

Skills are governed by attributes. Each skill cannot be raised higher than one third it's governing attribute. If you want to get 10 points in Riding, then you need an Agility of 30. There are two different types of skills; personal and party. Personal skills apply only to your character, while Party skills apply to the party as a whole, but we'll go into that later. Many skills have an optimal point beyond which they either confer no further advantage, or else the advantage is negligible, generally around 10 - 16 points or so.

Ironflesh Ironflesh increases the number of hitpoints of your character, and as a result is one of the most useful skills to any frontline fighter. Even those not going toe to toe with the enemy should consider investing in this skill if they have skill points spare. The hitpoints granted is not a lot, but it might just be enough to keep your character standing when the arrows start flying.

Power Strike, Power Throw, Power Draw One of the three strike skills. All three skills basically operate the same way, in that they provide a bonus to damage caused by the relevant weapons. Better quality throwing weapons require a minimum power draw skill in order to equip them, the same goes for bows.
One thing to note specifically regarding Power Draw is that it also determines accuracy for using bows. The higher your character's PD skill is above the minimum required PD skill of the bow, the more accurate you will be with that bow.

Weapon Mastery Allows you to spend weapon points beyond the 60 point limit (in increments of 40). Also speeds up the gaining of weapon skills through combat while in game.

Shield Reduces the damage your shield takes when blocking, and improves your performance with a shield.

Athletics, Riding Both of these skills are governed by agility, and both do the same thing to different modes of transport. Athletics governs your character's moving speed while on foot. Riding does the same for horses. Horses generally have a minimum skill requirement to mount.

Horse Archery Negates the penalties for firing from a moving horse. Generally, 6 points in this skill is enough to reduce the penalty to virtually non-existent. Also works for throwing weapons from horseback. Note that you only incur a penalty while the horse is moving, firing from a stationary horse is the same as firing while on foot.

Training  Trainer grants an experience bonus to all characters in the party of lower level than the skill owner, once per day at midnight. What makes this unusual is that it's one of the few skills which 'stack'. For every NPC with at least one point in this skill, all other members of the party of lower level will recieve experience. So, if you have four NPC's with this skill, everyone in the party could potentially be given four servings of free XP.

Inventory Management Increases the number of inventory spaces

Tracking Shows the 'trails' of parties on the map. The higher this skill, the more information is revealed when you mouse over a trail. Party skill

Spotting Increases how far you can see on the World Map. Party Skill

Pathfinding Increases your party's movement speed on the world map. Party skill.

Wound Treatment  Speeds up the healing rate of your party, and also horses in the inventory when not in use.

Surgery Protects your troops from being killed in battle by providing a chance that a kill is converted to a KO, again another party skill.

First Aid Adds a small amount of hitpoints to all NPC heroes, including the character, at the end of each combat round. Useful if you have the battlesize slider set low, or in conjunction with wound treatment to decrease the amount of time spent resting up. Another party skill.

Tactics Adds to your advantage prior to battle. Party skill.

Leadership Increases the maximum size of your party.

Prisoner Management Initially allows you to capture enemies you have knocked unconscious in battle. Further investment increases the number of prisoners you may carry at any one time.

Trade Increases the amount of money you earn for selling goods.

Weapon skills should be self explanatory. You can't spend points here to increase your skill above 60 without weapon master skill. Also note that these skills improve with use - every time you hit with a polearm or perform a couched attack with it you have a chance of increasing your polearms skill by a few points. In general, the higher your skill is with a weapon, the more damage and the quicker you can attack or reload that weapon. With a ranged weapon, skill also improves your accuracy and holding time (how long the crosshair remains zeroed in before beginning to spread out again).

One quick note regarding party skills : A penalty is applied to the skill if there is a large gap between the skill level being provided by a party member, and the skill level of the party leader (i.e. you). Also note that if an NPC drops below 20% health, their skills are disabled. This can be crucial if you are depending on your comrades for key skills. Also, be wary of entrusting critical skills to NPC's - if you get unlucky and can't find any of the hero's  relatively early then you may find yourself lacking in a key area when you really need it.

It always pays to have a general build or plan for your character when it comes to creation and leveling up. You can't redistribute points once you hit that OK button, and you don't want to waste a point in a skill which your character never uses.
 
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